• ROYALS WERE DEAD TEAM WALKING — The Royals were brimming with confidence heading into a crucial four-game weekend road trip to Cleveland.
Winners of six straight and 10 of 12, the Royals were riding an offensive surge where they literally pounded the cover off the ball.
They had the opener all but in the bag when some sloppy defense led to a walk-off loss. Then in the final three games the Royals slept-walked and were bludgeoned, losing their lead in the AL Central in the process. For the series, they were outscored 25-6 and were totally outclassed.
It’s apparent the Royals are not a good road team this year as they have the second-worst away record in the American League at 11-19. Their starting pitching has turned to jelly away from spacious Kauffman Stadium as they’re giving up home runs by the handful. Chris Young and Ian Kennedy were pounded into submission the last two days as they suffered strained necks watching balls fly out of the park so quickly.
The Royals have the AL’s best record at home, but they have two more road series before finally getting back to The K. They play three at Baltimore and then, after a day off, they play three in Chicago, which will be blazing mad after losing three games last week at The K. When KC does return home, it’s critical series with Cleveland and Detroit.
The Royals are a roller-coaster ride for their fans this year. Until the starting pitching gets settled, it’s going to continue.
• NBA FINALS A DUD — For someone who normally is non-plus about the NBA Finals, I showed signs of a pulse when I saw it was Golden State against Cleveland.
That pulse has quickly gone faint.
The Warriors destroyed the Cavaliers in the two games in Oakland and the Cavs probably lost forward Kevin Love in the process. If he can’t go, this series could go the bare minimum.
Cleveland had a chance to win Game 1 as it was ahead in the third quarter, but then went dormant. In Game 2, the Cavaliers never showed up and were embarrassed.
And some people wonder why I can’t get into the NBA.
• ALI REMEMBERED — There will be some who will argue that Muhammad Ali wasn’t the greatest boxer of all time.
But there’s no arguing he was the most influential boxer of all time.
When I was a kid in the ‘60s, boxing was right there as one of the top-watched sports. Baseball was king, while the NBA created barely a ripple as at one time there were only eight teams. The NFL was strong, but nowhere near the popularity it enjoys today as the No. 1 sport.
Ali, though, almost single-handedly put boxing in the spotlight. His fights were must-see TV as it was before the pay-per-view era. He also boxed in a time when the heavyweight division was flush with talent.
Ali was a polarizing figure away from the ring as he caused controversy with his stand against fighting in the Viet Nam War and paid the price by losing three years of his career during his peak earning time when he was stripped of his title. He had fans on both sides of the fence, but eventually as time went on he became a revered figure and a champion of civil rights.
Boxing, of course, has slipped way back in the public consciousness and I probably can’t find five people who can tell me who the heavyweight champion currently is.
Ali is, in my mind, one of the five most influential athletes of our generation. May he rest in peace.