Royals sending up red flags

By Steve Sell
April 03, 2014

Thursday’s thoughts after a couple of off days from SOS to work on a special project...

• BAD START FOR THE ROYALS —There’s an old saying that goes “you can’t win them all.”

Well, you can’t lose them all, either.

Of course, the Kansas City Royals aren’t going to go 0-162. But the start to their season has red flags flying, and bells and whistles going off to signal danger.

A wise man recently said — wait a minute, that was me — that Kansas City’s bullpen would not duplicate its outrageous success of a year ago. Through two games, the bullpen has been like gasoline thrown on a fire.

I said that the key to the Royals would be bridge men Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera. Crow and Collins, who were not good late last year and continued that trend in the spring, have flunked their first trials. Crow is better served throwing in low-stress situations while the Royals’ fascination with Collins has always flummoxed me. With his odd pinwheeling delivery, he’s never going to consistently throw strikes. His wildness basically handed the game to the Tigers on Wednesday.

Herrera hasn’t had his chance to gag yet, but there’s always today’s get-away game.

The Royals need a win this afternoon to avoid going home 0-3. I really thought the goal at the start of the series was 1-2, because you don’t want to start the season already making up three games against the team you’re most likely chasing. Granted in baseball, three games doesn’t mean a whole lot. But the way this team is swinging the bats, shudders are starting to go through Royals fans, who have seen this tired, old story too many times.

Wednesday’s game completely turned with one pitch. Billy Butler, the team’s alleged big bat, was up with two runners on in the first inning and one out. He worked the count to 3-0, then was green-lighted against Detroit’s reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who was struggling with finding the strike zone. Butler, as he did so many times last year, rolled over the top of a pitch and grounded weakly into a doubleplay (or a “Billy” as they’re now known), killing the rally and giving the uber-hyper Scherzer energy that he carried over the rest of the day, as the Royals were putty in his hands.

Two games into the season and Kansas City manager Ned Yost continues to make head-scratching decisions. You’ve got to think if the Royals stumble to, say, a 10-20 start, he’s out the door.

Of course a win today and things will settle down. But the Royals are putting a lot of faith in rookie Yordano Ventura to salvage the series and I don’t like his chances — especially with the Royals’ punch-and-judy lineup.

• CBS HAS TO BE SWEATING — The CBS bigwigs certainly have to be sweating about next week’s Masters golf ratings.

The news that Tiger Woods won’t be playing following back surgery had to send shockwaves through CBS. He’s the ratings cash cow. Let’s face it, how many people watch golf just to see Tiger Woods play?

Then there’s Phil Mickelson. He withdrew from his last event with a strained oblique and is trying to play this week. His game already has been scratchy this year and not being 100 percent physically, he doesn’t expect to be a factor. He’s the tour’s No. 2 drawing card behind Tiger because of his swashbuckling style, kind of like this era’s Arnold Palmer. Lefty likes to take chances with questionable decisions, but more often than not he has the talent to pull them off.

Mickelson is 43 and Woods is 38. Both have played incredible, around-the-world schedules. Their bodies are showing signs of wear and tear. Tour officials had better realize there’s soon going to be a changing of the guard. Lefty and Tiger have carried the tour for nearly 20 years, but Father Time has yet to lose a battle. At some point, some younger players with pizazz are going to have to take the ball and run.

Being a golfer and a golf fan, I’ll watch the Masters even if Tiger doesn’t play and Lefty trunks it after two rounds. But I’m guessing I’ll be in the minority, unless some fascinating long shot grabs the attention with an out-of-this-world performance.

• COACHES SHOW TO AIR — Our spring sports coaches’ show from Perkins Restaurant will resume this Saturday.

All 96.7 KBBE listeners are urged to tune in beginning at 8 a.m. for comments from the various coaches. Better yet, sports fans should come out to Perkins for a good meal and take in our broadcast along with us. The more the merrier.

McPherson High spring coaches will be on hand this Saturday and we hope to have some of the area coaches starting next Saturday. The spring sports season will be in full swing starting next week.