• EXCITED FOR SCRIMMAGE — I posted a story earlier today about Saturday's McPherson High football scrimmage at the stadium.
Hard to believe the first game of the season at Buhler is two weeks from tomorrow.
MHS coach Jace Pavlovich will put his team through about a 90-minute controlled scrimmage, which will give him an opportunity to evaluate players under game conditions.
There are going to be few surprises about this Bullpup team. It's been well-chronicled about the speed on the defensive side and the cadre of running backs.
It's also been noted about the quarterback position, where Drew Labertew and Kyler Hoppes are still battling it out. And, of course, the key to the season will be the development of the brand-new offensive line.
Saturday will go a long way toward Pavlovich deciding about starting spots still up for grabs. I hope MHS fans come out and enjoy what they see. The team will have another public scrimmage at the Bullpup Fall Preview on Friday, Aug. 25, at the stadium.
• KEY STRETCH FOR ROYALS — I’ve said it before, but this time I mean it.
The Kansas City Royals’ fate will be determined in the next 10 days.
The Royals are off today after playing 20 games in 20 days, the maximum number allowed under baseball rules. They hope to use today to recharge their batteries after a long road trip that saw them break even at 4-4, though they won their last two series at Chicago and Oakland (and they should have swept the A’s, giving up a four-run lead in the bottom of the eighth Tuesday).
Kauffman Stadium should be electric Friday when the Royals open a three-game series with division-leading Cleveland, which was my pick to win the World Series at the start of the year. I think most will agree the Royals simply don’t have the pitching to catch the Indians, as their road to the playoffs will be via the wild-card route.
What they can’t afford is being swept by the Indians. Kansas City manager Ned Yost has adjusted his pitching rotation, apparently not of the belief that Jakob Junis is ready yet for such big-game pressure. He’s going to send out Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas and move up Jason Hammel by one day (though the Royals are just 7-17 in games started by Hammel this year).
Cleveland has widened its lead to 5 1/2 games over the Royals and to 6 over Minnesota. An Indian sweep and you can almost put this division to bed.
But the Royals are just a half-game back in the wild-card race and one of nine teams with a legitimate chance to qualify for the winner-take-all play-in game.
Let’s hope the Royals can at least take two of three this weekend. A sweep would be too good to be true.
• KU TO HONOR MANGINO — Maybe this is the University of Kansas’ way of burying the hatchet.
When the Jayhawks open their football season Sept. 2 hosting Southeast Missouri State, they’ll honor the 2007 team that went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl, led by coach Mark Mangino. Of course his era ended in tumult when he was forced out after an investigation into his treatment of players. He resigned after the 2009 season.
According to reports, Mangino took a long time deciding about coming back for the celebration after the invitation was extended but eventually accepted.
Maybe this will finally resolve the messy divorce. Mangino, who received $3 million from KU for not coaching, did have a short stint as offensive coordinator at Iowa State, but was fired halfway through his second season.
Mangino was 50-48 during his tenure at KU, which may not sound like much. But consider since his departure coaches Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beaty are 14-70. And attendance has dropped by half as KU averaged more than 50,000 fans in Mangino’s last two years while averaging 25,828 last year — and that was probably being generous.
Let’s hope Mangino will have a pleasurable return and all is forgiven.