Struggling Royals have lost their way

By Steve Sell
April 13, 2017

Thursday's thoughts...

• ROYALS NEED TO GO BACK TO THEIR ROOTs — The Kansas City Royals have forgotten who they are.

The Royals were World Series champions in 2015 and World Series finalists in 2014 by doing all the little things, as no detail was too small.

They played with the passion of a college team, and relied on frenzied hitting and a lockdown bullpen.

Now in 2017, with a team full of players probably in their last year because of free agency, they have morphed into just another American League team that waits for a three-run homer. The Royals have been shockingly bad offensively during their 2-6 start, with only one game with more than five runs. They have scored 24, which is an easy divide — three a game.

The numbers are numbing as just three starters are hitting ABOVE the Mendoza Line (.200). Eric Hosmer is third on the team with a .188 average and has driven in just three runs. Brandon Moss, expected to replace Kendrys Morales as DH, has struck out 11 times in 20 at-bats and has just one hit (.050).

Their bullpen currently is the worst in baseball and they are even making mental mistakes that never popped up in their glory days.

Most of all, it’s a team that’s lost its personality, except for the always ebullient Salvador Perez. The players seem to be going through the motions, knowing that if they're out of the hunt by July 31 that the gang is going to be broken up. Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar could all be gone at the trade deadline because the Royals simply can’t afford them.

If the Royals can't beat teams like Minnesota and Oakland (both picked to finish last in their respective divisions), what happens when they play the really good teams? 

Baseball is among the most fickle of sports. Success can be here today, gone tomorrow. For the Royals, let's hope they're not harkening back to those days when the usual 13,000 would show up nightly to cheer on a really bad team.

• SVI TO TEST THE WATERS — KU junior Svi Mykhailiuk is entering the NBA draft, but not signing with an agent.

Svi is dipping his toe in the water to see just how much interest NBA teams have in him.

He's a 6-8 guard with at times amazing 3-point ability. He can put the ball on the floor and is a decent passer.

But for the NBA, Svi simply doesn't have the foot speed. I think he's going to find out that interest in him is lukewarm at best.

My guess is he'll return to KU for his final year — he'll only be 20 years old — then carve out a nice career playing overseas.

KU earlier had good news from Devonte' Graham, who announced he'll return for his senior year. Graham would be a marginal prospect in this year's draft, but if he can come back and have a season like Frank Mason, his stock could rise. Mason went from a good guard to the National Player of the Year, though at 5-11 his NBA days could be that of a bench player.

• NBA PLAYOFFS START SATURDAY — Somebody told me the NBA season ended on Wednesday.

I'm still not interested.

No sport drags out its playoffs like the NBA. Check back with me in June when they finally reach the finals.

I have to admit there's been some good storylines in the NBA this year, such as Russell Westbrook and James Harden. But let's face it, unless you're a fan of Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio or Boston, you have no reason to pay attention.

It's a foregone conclusion. Teams like Atlanta, Washington, Memphis and Portland can't compete with the top teams and they know it. All they're doing is having a couple of extra home games to bring in cash.

The NBA becomes relevant again in June when Golden State and Cleveland meet in the finals.