Tuesday’s tidbits while hoping to see history tonight at Grant Complex as McPherson High’s softball team tries to advance to state for the first time since the program started in 1987...
• SPEED DON’T — The Kansas City Royals’ Jarrod Dyson — often referred to as ‘Speed Do’ because he likes to say, “see what speed do for ya,’ committed yet another costly gaffe that has been a trademark of his career as much as his blinding wheels.
Dyson was brought in to pinch-run Monday night in the ninth inning with the Royals trailing the Chicago White Sox, 7-6. They were trying to get the game tied after coughing up a 5-0 first-inning lead.
With two runners on, Eric Hosmer expanded the strike zone by wildly fanning on a pitch way off the plate for the first out. Moments later, Dyson was picked off second when he apparently got distracted. The rally died when Billy Butler grounded out weakly to second base to end the game.
Dyson has had a history of making bonehead plays, though mostly in the outfield. He has made some bad throws and on several occasions overrun balls by trying to get in too much of a hurry. You know with him, something is going to happen. You have to take the good with the bad.
This was perhaps the Royals’ most painful loss of the year. They had entered the game riding the emotional high of a 4-2 homestand with a beat-up White Sox team coming to The K for three games. After socking their way to five runs in the first inning, the Royals apparently decided that was enough as they basically shut it down offensively the rest of the night.
A five-run lead this year is normally good enough for lefty soft-tosser Jason Vargas, but the White Sox teed off on him like batting practice. The third of three homers he allowed — by Royals killer Paul Konerko, who should be in the Kansas City opponents’ Hall of Fame — gave the Sox a lead they would never give up.
Once again, Kansas City manager Ned Yost waited one batter too long to make a change. As I watched the game, I couldn’t believe he left Vargas in to face Konerko, considering the Sox were hitting him like a pinata as well as Konerko’s history. Sure enough, Konerko sent a rocket to center field for the game-winner. Yost’s explanation was that Vargas had gotten him out twice already and he expected him to do it again.
Vargas needed one more out to qualify as the potential winning pitcher. Yost’s weakness is that he seems to hold his players’ personal stats in higher regard than winning the game. His unwavering loyalty wound up costing the Royals another win.
The Royals just can’t seem to catch fire. They take two steps forward, then one back. They really need to win their last two in this series from the White Sox since they head West to play the surging LA Angels for three.
• BULLPUPS FACE THE BEST — The McPherson High baseball team traveled a long way to face perhaps the best pitcher in the state on Monday.
MHS loaded up for the 200-mile-plus trip to Ulysses for the first round of the regional tournament and awaiting it was Andale-Garden Plain phenom Tyler Jones.
Jones is putting together a record-shattering season. He has not allowed an earned run all year and just one unearned run overall. It’s no wonder his next destination is Wichita State, as he certainly has the stuff to pitch at the next level.
The Indians’ use of Jones in the first game raised the age-old question of high school regional baseball. Does a coach burn his best pitcher in the first game even though it’s against a team with a losing record? Or does he try and get by with his No. 2 and save the ace for the championship game?
Jones wound up working only four innings, holding MHS to a scratch single. To MHS’ credit, it struck out only four times.
A-GP had no trouble in winning either game and you can bet, though, that Jones will be on the mound for the state opener. You can’t advance to the semifinals without winning the first game and Jones should assure the Indians of doing that.
• WIGGINS NO. 1? — We’re inching closer toward the NBA draft — the lottery is scheduled for tonight to determine the order — and there are more and more indications that KU’s Andrew Wiggins is going to go No. 1.
Of course, it will depend on who wins the top pick, with Milwaukee the most likely since it won all of 15 games last year. It has a 25-percent chance to grabbing the top pick determined by the number of ping-pong balls in the hopper.
I’m still not sold on Wiggins being a superstar. I don’t question his athleticism, I know it’s off the charts. Hopefully he’s been working on his mid-range jumper (balky at best) and his ballhandling (sometimes Naadir Tharpe-like). Comparisons to LeBron James are unfair, because Wiggins will never have LBJ’s strength. Wiggins will, however, have to bulk up because right now he’d get broke in half in taking the ball to the hoop. He’s been a man among boys his entire career, but now the playing field has changed.
Kansas’ Joel Embiid is also a possible No. 1, but I still believe he’s a couple of years away. Whoever drafts him had better realize he’s a project, but has a tremendous ceiling.