Let the games begin

By Steve Sell
August 18, 2014

Monday’s musings...

• LET THE GAMES BEGIN — Today is one of the most exciting days of the year.

It’s the first day high school athletic teams are allowed to begin practice, according to rules established by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.

Many athletes probably spent a restless night as they eagerly looked forward to today, with some practices starting at 6 a.m. Student-athletes have been working hard over the past 2 1/2 months just for this very day.

What separates the fall season from the winter and spring seasons is the newness of it all. Everybody starts today with a clean slate and brimming with optimism. The fall sports season can set the tone for the remainder of the school year.

For McPherson High, there is great anticipation this fall. MHS has football, soccer, volleyball, tennis and cross country. The tennis team is beginning defense of its Class 4A state championship, while the football, soccer and volleyball teams were top state contenders last year and hope to duplicate or improve on that success. The cross country team is in the building process and in time hopes to be a state contender as well.

I wish all of our student-athletes good luck, good health and academic success.

• FIVE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE CHIEFS — After watching the Chiefs lose 28-16 to Carolina Sunday night, here are five observations as the exhibition season reached the halfway point:

1. Forget the playoffs. This team has far too many holes and too tough of a schedule to approach last year’s 11-5 record. I’m thinking more of 7-9 or 8-8.

2. The offensive line is downright offensive. I blathered constantly in this space last year about left tackle Branden Albert, but right now if I were the Chiefs I’d welcome him back with open arms. Like they say, you never know what you have until it’s gone and I’m not sure if the Chiefs can survive with last year’s overall No. 1 pick Eric Fisher manning Alex Smith’s backside. In fact, Smith is going to spend a lot of time on his backside from what I’ve seen. The losses of linemen Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz are going to be felt as well.

3. Travis Kelce has a chance to be a star. Two games and two long touchdown catches for the tight end, who missed last season with a knee injury. Kelce is the type of tight end you need in this new age of pass, pass, pass. The days of a blocking tight end who’s thrown a few bones now and then are over.

4. If the offensive line sets off all the bells and whistles, then the secondary is its companion. Of course, there’s been no Eric Berry to hold the unit together, but the Chiefs’ corners in two games have been getting burnt like toast. Ron Parker, Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper are going to be under siege if the first two games mean anything. 

5. Too many penalties. The Chiefs are going to play a lot of long games if they continue to get flagged. They had 13 for 131 yards last night, many of them on the secondary. NFL officials might want to take a second look at the new rules that are leading to an avalanche of penalties on passing plays, as they’re basically making the D-backs play with their hands tied behind their backs.

Honorable mention — It was good to see Dwayne Bowe involved so much in the offense. If Alex Smith doesn’t target him at least 10 times a game, he’s missing the boat. The only problem is Bowe won’t play the first game of the season because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, just another in the long line of knucklehead things he’s done in his career.

• ROYALS STAY IN FIRST — We’re one week into the Royals’ second tenure as a first-place baseball team.

With another win on Sunday and a Detroit loss, the Royals enjoy a 1 1/2 game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central. The Royals are scheduled to wrap up their rare wraparound four-game series tonight in Minnesota, though there’s an 80 percent chance for rain.

That wouldn’t be all bad because it would give Wade Davis and Greg Holland a third straight day off after manager Ned Yost literally pitched them into the ground during this unprecedented run.

The Royals continue to play better on the road than at home. This is an important trip for them as they’re on a nine-game tour of playing nothing but last-place teams. They visit Colorado for two after today, then go to Texas for three. 

I don’t have an explanation for the Royals’ road success. Maybe they’re not as distracted away from the The K as they concentrate on nothing but baseball. If they go on and win the division, it’s because of their road success.

While the Royals are in the process of playing nothing but lackeys, Detroit embarks on a seven-game road trip starting Tuesday with three at Tampa Bay, then four at Minnesota.

It’s kind of nice to do some scoreboard watching in August.