• ONE WEEK AWAY — The countdown is on.
We’re one week away from the start of the 2016-17 prep sports season as the first official day of practice for all high school athletic teams is Monday, Aug. 15.
For McPherson High, the current roll the fall sports have been on in recent years is expected to continue.
While some of the teams are somewhat rebuilding, there’s still enough talent on hand to be uber-competitive.
The MHS volleyball team, coming off a second-place state finish as it lost to Miege in the finals, must replace a terrific senior class. But coach Christy Doile never seems to rebuild, only reload. Not many teams, though, have to replace two All-State players like the Bullpups, who must forge on without Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander.
The MHS boys soccer team of coach Chris Adrian also lost some valuable seniors, but he does return his two All-Staters in Andric McGill and Patrick Munsey.
MHS tennis coach Tyler Brown welcomes back his state runner-up doubles team of Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers and the Bullpups tied for third as a team in Class 4A.
The MHS football team has high expectations as it returns a wealth of talent from last year’s 5-4 team, the 10th straight winning season for the Bullpups. Coach Jace Pavlovich has been pleased with his team’s work over the summer and expects to improve on last year’s mark.
The cross country team has a new coach in Aspen Frey, who will field a squad that is especially strong in the sophomore class. Frey was one of the top runners in McPherson College history and hopefully her expertise will rub off on her team.
I, for one, can’t wait for the games to begin. But I’m sure I’m not nearly as excited as the athletes and coaches.
• WINNING SERIES FOR KC— It was only a 2-1 series edge, but at least it was the first winning series for the Kansas City Royals since the end of June.
The Royals looked more like the Royals in taking two of three from playoff contender Toronto. After nine straight games of three runs or less, Kansas City finally shed that albatross that was hanging around its neck like an anvil with four runs on Saturday, then erupted for seven on Sunday.
The Royals, who have today off, can put some distance between themselves and the Chicago White Sox in a three-game series that starts on Tuesday at The K. The teams currently are tied for third and both have a faint playoff pulse.
• GORDON STILL STRUGGLING – One Royal who hasn’t gotten it going all season is All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon.
Gordon is now officially under the Mendoza Line as he’s batting .199. Granted, he missed nearly a month with a hand injury in that nasty collision that also claimed Mike Moustakas for the season, but he’s had enough at-bats now not to use that as an excuse.
Most alarming to me is the number of strikeouts. In just 272 at-bats, Gordon has whiffed 91 times — or once in every three at-bats.
If Gordon would have played a full season, that pace would have projected to about 180 strikeouts.
Kansas City fans though, to their credit, have not taken to booing him lustily. Gordo is a longtime fan favorite and one of its longest-tenured players. He still makes a lot of plays in the field, which has taken some of the heat off of his offensive decline. If he played in New York or Boston, he’d be getting hammered unmercifully. Luckily, he’s in slower-pace Kansas City, one of the smallest markets in baseball.
Remember, Gordon has three more years left on a four-year, $72 million deal. Let’s hope this season is a hiccup and that he’s back on the beam next year.