Thoughts on Royals, KU football and pro tennis

By Steve Sell
June 07, 2016

Tuesday’s tidbits...

• HERO TO ZERO — The Kansas City Royals have gone from the hottest of hot to the coldest of cold.

The schizophrenic Royals have followed up an offensive-induced six-game winning streak — all at home — to a deep-freeze five-game losing streak — all on the road.

The Royals are the best home team in the American League with a 19-7 record, but wimper on the road. They have now played 31 games away from spacious Kauffman Stadium and have only 11 wins to show for it — second-worst in the American League behind the sad-sack Twins.

You knew it was going to happen at some point. When you lose three All-Stars for a period of time — though Salvador Perez is back — it’s going to catch up with you. Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Brett Eibner infused the team for a week with their energy, but pitchers are catching up. And Eibner is now on the disabled list.

The Royals averaged more than seven runs in their hot streak, two runs during their cold streak.

In a related Royals note, it appears second baseman Omar Infante is being eased out of the starting lineup.

Since his fielding woes last Thursday against Cleveland, Infante has been riding the bench. He's been in the lineup mainly for his defense, but his range has diminished and has had throwing problems. Offensively he contributes little and the Royals are probably the only team in baseball whose middle infielders are without a homer between them.

Infante still has one more year to go on his four-year deal. The Royals are paying a heavy price for a player who contributes so little.

This has to be simply maddening for manager Ned Yost, whose team has avoided peaks and valleys the past two seasons. Injuries and inconsistent starting pitching are plaguing the team, but fortunately the Central Division has four teams capable of winning.

At least the Royals play 81 games at home to stay in the hunt.

• KU FOOTBALL WOES — You know things are really bad when the Kansas football program is hyping the potential transfer of a backup running back from Arkansas.

The Lawrence Journal-World is reporting that Denzel Evans, who had a whopping six carries for 48 yards with the Razorbacks, is close to becoming a Jayhawk. If he can get his academics in order he could be eligible right away as a graduate transfer.

Evans would go right to the top of the KU running back depth chart should he be able to play. That position, like all of them for KU, is lacking numbers.

By the way, Las Vegas odds-makers have set the over-under on KU’s season at 1.5 victories. That could be hard to attain considering the Jayhawks were competitive in only two of their 12 games last year and could be worse this year.

You have to wonder how the program will ever get turned around. KU has bottomed out before and always come back to respectability, but it has fallen so far this time that even considerable improvement may not be good enough for a single Big 12 win.

It’s painful to watch. All KU fans can say is, “Thanks for nothing Charlie Weis.”

• WHERE ARE ALL THE TENNIS PLAYERS? — How many people know who Novak Djokovic is?

Unless you follow professional tennis closely, probably not many. He is well on his way to perhaps being the greatest of all time, yet if you put his face up on a screen many would scratch their heads and draw a blank.

The state of men's tennis is in crisis mode. There are no American players who even sniff a major championship anymore. With Roger Federer in the twilight of his career and Rafael Nadal's body breaking down, Djokovic is running through the sport unbated.

It's been the same way on the women's side. It's Serena Williams and everybody else, though she didn't win the recent French Open. I think Serena has become bored as like Federer, she's near the end of the line.

It's time for the next big thing to come along in tennis.