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Sports Potpourri: Royals penthouse to outhouse, K-State football, NBA playoffs

By Mac Stevenson

It’s a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse. And the Kansas City Royals baseball team is discovering that life away from the penthouse is not all that pleasant.

Through the games of May 19, KC had a 14-31 record and nothing suggests that the struggle is going to improve anytime soon. What kind of shape is KC’s farm system in? Including the games of May 17, the Royals’ four minor league farm teams all had losing records.

Omaha of the AAA Pacific Coast League had a W-L record of 14-26, good for third place among four teams in the Northern Division. Prized draft pick Bubba Starling was hitting .257 in just 11 games.

Northwest Arkansas in the AA Texas League North had an 18-21 record, good for last place. There are no hitters or pitchers with outstanding stats on the roster.

Lexington in the Class-A South Atlantic League Southern Division was in fourth place among seven teams with an 18-19 record. Lexington has no special prospects.

Wilmington plays in the Class-A Advanced Carolina League Northern Division and they have a 17-22 record, good for fourth place among five teams. Wilmington lacks major league prospects.

Baseball America rates the top 100 prospects that play on farm teams of the 30 major league franchises. None of the top 100 players rated by BA are under contract with Kansas City; the stats of the aforementioned four KC farm teams confirm that ranking.

How did such a precipitous decline happen to a franchise that appeared to be solid just a few years ago? The reasons are many and varied, but the end result is disaster for the legion of Royals’ fans.

For starters KC has a $115.5 million payroll, which ranked 19th in MLB according to USA Today’s database. Kansas City doesn’t have a cheap team and the top-salaried players appear to be total flops: the Royals owe Alex Gordon $39 million through the end of next season; Ian Kennedy is signed for about $43 million through the 2020 season; and Danny Duffy has $55 million due him through the 2021 season. That’s a stunning amount of money that has been wasted.

Kansas City has been the victim of a terrible TV contract; they have been underpaid for a long time because of this deal. Fortunately this example of poor negotiation expires at the end of next season and KC’s finances should improve at that time.

Dayton Moore is the Royals’ GM and he’d better be poised for a barrage of criticism before this run of substandard baseball bottoms out and begins the long climb back to respectability. Moore has proved he can lead KC back to better days, but it’s going to be harder this time around. The present team is in dire straits and reinforcements are not available.

Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder and his staff frequently come up with some late signees for their program; this spring was no exception. The Wildcats signed a young man who is big enough to go bear hunting with a stick and it wouldn’t have to be a very big stick. K-State recently announced the signing of offensive tackle Justin Eichman (6-9, 350) from Butler Community College.

Eichman played high school football at Topeka Hayden. Last season Eichman was a sophomore who was redshirted as a freshman at Butler CC; he started at right tackle for Butler. Eichman was enthused about his choice of K-State and said, “I have a lot of family up around there, and we have always talked about how great it would be to play football at Kansas State. It’s always been a dream of mine and it will be a cool opportunity.”

Eichman has three years of eligibility left and can play for the Wildcats this upcoming season. He will have time to work on the necessary fundamentals to play football at the K-State level as the Wildcats return starting tackles Scott Frantz and Dalton Risner. One thing is certain: Justin Eichman is big enough to play Big 12 football.

In NBA basketball there are two seasons: the regular season of 82 games and the playoffs; there’s little similarity between those two competitions. During the regular-season grind, teams and players often play uninspired games when they aren’t in the mood to go all-out.

The playoffs—which are going on right now—are a different world. The physicality of playoff games has no resemblance to the regular season. Houston and Golden State are playing for the West championship and Boston and Cleveland the East. Both series have been knock-down, drag-out struggles; the refs don’t call fouls when someone gets run over or just shoved into the crowd. If you like physical basketball, be sure and watch the playoffs on TV.