It is hard to have a better weekend than last weekend – St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with non-stop games from Thursday through Sunday.
It finally happened. A No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed for the first time in tournament history. UMBC, a school virtually unknown to most basketball fans, beat Virginia, the tournament overall No. 1 seed. The game was not close. The Retrievers beat the Cavaliers by 20 points.
I am almost sure that UMBC is not one of the schools under investigation by the FBI for recruiting offenses, which proves that it is not necessary to recruit outside the lines to have a day in the sun.
The upset is what makes March Madness one of the great sporting events in the country. The brackets for most everyone involved in the tournament blew up after that game. The upcoming weekend should have some classic games played in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds.
As college basketball heads to an exciting finish, opening day for Major League Baseball is just around the corner. Opening day for the Royals is Thursday.
Rebuilding will be in full swing. The outcome of the 2018 season is anyone’s guess. I predict the Royals will finish 75-87. To justify that prediction and avoid ugly emails, I’ll explain my position.
About 75 percent of baseball success comes through pitching. The top three starters in the rotation will probably be Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Nathan Karns. That could make any baseball person shake their head.
Duffy is good, but he is usually only able to get about 15 starts before something physical happens to him that lands him on the DL for an extended period. Ian Kennedy would be an ideal pitcher for home run derby. He has been one of the league leaders every year in giving up home runs. Nathan Karns has potential, but health has always been an issue for him during his career.
As far as who is going to be the No. 4 or 5 starter, you might as well flip a coin. That said the Royals became World Series champions because of their bullpen. We’ll just have to buy a scorecard on opening day to have an idea about who will be effective in the role.
Kelvin Herrera will be the closer to start the season, but do not be surprised to see the team trade him before the trading deadline. The rest of the list of names is just speculation. The everyday roster will open with a lot of familiar players with Whit Merrifield at second base, Alcides Escobar at shortstop, Alex Gordon in left field and Salvador Perez catching.
One returning name that has been a pleasant surprise is fan favorite Mike Moustakas at third. Royals fans love MOOSE! These are respected players with history in the organization, but I do not see a lot of rebuilding names.
It looks like Lucas Duda will be at first base and Jon Jay will be in center and Paulo Orlando possibly in right. Jorge Soler will spend a lot of time as DH and some in the outfield.
Drew Butera will be the backup catcher and Cheslor Cuthbert will be a backup infielder and DH at times. I do not think Bubba Starling or Adalberto Mondesi will be on the opening day roster. Both guys are great young athletes who have a lot of talent on the baseball field with one very important exception – they neither one can hit. It is sad but true.
The Royals need to think about keeping one young talent on the opening day roster – Ryan O’Hearn. He can hit, and he has good power. He is a first baseman who is a left-handed hitter. He could be a great complement to Soler in the DH rotation. Currently, he is hitting .407 with pop.
If the Royals are going to rebuild this season, then really rebuild. The organization does not have talented young players ready to even attempt to be pushed up to the major leagues. Starling and Mondesi are prime examples.
The organization must obtain some new young talent to play new young talent. Hopefully Dayton Moore, who is very good at building teams, will be able to draft and develop young talent this year at the minor league level.
This will be a season of smoke and mirrors for Moore and the whole organization. A great thing about baseball is that every team is in first place on opening day. Royals fans are looking forward to opening day Thursday against the White Sox. Maybe they will be in first for a few days.
• The Chiefs have a plan for improving in the 2018 season that includes the addition of key players on both sides of the ball. You’ve got to like their emphasis on speed. The defense was obviously way too slow last year, and this year’s offense has playmakers at every position.
• My quote of the week comes from the great Hank Aaron: “Consistency is what counts; you have to be able to do things over and over again.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.