KSAL Staff - October 20, 2014 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
The Kansas City Royals’ progression to the World Series is the wildest thing to happen in these parts in many a moon. Owner David Glass, GM Dayton Moore, and manager Ned Yost deserve every bit of praise that is being lavished on them by fans across the Central Plains.
KC’s baseball team has a chance to ride the pony named Momentum right to the World Series championship. The Royals are on a roll that shows no signs of faltering; however, in team sports change can come without warning.
James Shields will undoubtedly pitch Tuesday’s first game at Kauffman Stadium. Shields has been all right, but nothing special in his last few starts.
After Shields, it would normally be Yordano Ventura starting the second game; he was removed in the sixth inning of his last playoff start because of a sore shoulder. It’s vital that Ventura comes back healthy and ready to go.
Manager Ned Yost has been strangely silent about the status of Danny Duffy, who pitched just one impressive inning in the playoffs. Duffy was a highly effective starter during KC’s stretch run. Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie will also be well-rested and available.
Yost’s bullpen has been sensational and appears to be in great shape going into the World Series.
As for their hitting, the Royals have been up and down all season—KC’s fans can only hope they catch fire in their run toward a world championship.
As much of a thrill as this season has been, it’s not too early to take a glance at what the future may hold. It’s difficult indeed to get to the top of the mountain, but several mistakes can cause a team to tumble to the bottom.
Dayton Moore won’t have a lot of time to celebrate his magnificent season; he will have to be a negotiating genius to set up the 2015 season. But Moore’s enjoying the moment and recently said, “The things that have happened around the city, the joy we’ve brought to people’s lives, that’s special.”
Of the 15 key players, just five of them have signed contracts through 2015: shortstop Alcides Escobar (2015), catcher Salvy Perez (2016), left fielder Alex Gordon (2015), and pitchers Jason Vargas (2017) and Jeremy Guthrie (2015).
Ace pitcher James Shields is a free agent and almost sure to head for greener financial pastures.
The players who will have to be signed to new contracts include the following: first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, right fielder Nori Aoki, and pitchers Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis (KC has a $7 mil option on him for 2015), and closer Greg Holland.
Without going into detail, Moore is looking at a ton of money to sign these players and keep everyone happy. But owner David Glass should be willing: he paid $90 million for the Royals and they’re now worth about $490 million.
This has been a wonderful and exciting and entertaining season, but consistency is what the traditionally solid teams have. Kansas City has a firm foundation, but the job of negotiating those contracts will be a tester.
Kansas State is sitting all alone at the top of the Big 12 football race with a 3-0 record; the Wildcats are the lone unbeaten team in conference play.
With their thrilling 31-30 win against Oklahoma in Norman, the Cats projected themselves into the national playoff picture and eliminated the Sooners. Kansas State will have to win the rest of their games to be selected for the national playoffs and that is a daunting challenge indeed.
Coach Snyder’s team has six Big 12 games remaining. Three road games—at TCU (Nov. 8), at West Virginia (Nov. 20), and at Baylor (Dec. 6)—will be rugged tests. K-State should win their three remaining home games with Texas this Saturday, Oklahoma State, and Kansas, but those three road trips are fraught with peril.
QB Jake Waters appeared to injure his right shoulder in the OU win; it’s imperative that he stays healthy for the rest of the Big 12 season. Waters is a superb QB playing at a high level.
Bill Snyder’s teams play their best football late in the season—everything is in place for a great finish to another great season.
Kansas lost again last week at Texas Tech (34-21), but the Jayhawks are playing competitive football under the coaching of Clint Bowen.
The most-obvious weakness on the KU team is the play of the offensive and defensive lines; they lack depth, quickness, and athletic ability. Kansas was soundly whipped in the trenches on both offense and defense.
If Bowen is named the new head coach, he’ll need two exceptional recruiting classes before the Jayhawks show any significant progress.