The 2018 Major League baseball season is officially underway.

It is a long way through the 162-game regular season, playoffs and World Series. However, everyone still can’t resist speculating about the result six months from now. I predict the Houston Astros will win it all again in 2018 and become the first back-to-back winner since the New York Yankees won three in a row 1998-2000. I always go by the motto, “In order to be the champion you must beat the champion.”

The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament was one of the most competitive and interesting tournaments in several years. Some of the teams that advanced made people realize basketball is a great team game. A team does not have to be filled with one-and-done players to make noise in the tournament. College basketball is a great sport. Unfortunately recruiting and one-and-done issues have tainted the sport and need to be addressed in a fair and equal way. If not, with time it may become the downfall of the sport.

It is not too early to start talking about the NFL Draft coming up April 26-28. The Kansas City Chiefs have made a lot of moves during free agency to improve the teams. The offense will now be loaded with top-notch play makers with the addition of Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. Watkins and wide receiver Tyreek Hill will be able to cover both sides of the field. This will allow their All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce to be even more effective in the middle of the field and enable Kareem Hunt to find some running lanes when the defense cannot stack the box to stop the run.

The team lost a valuable versatile offensive lineman Zach Fulton, so the team will need to pick up someone in the draft who can possibly play guard and center. Overall, the offensive line has a solid veteran nucleus coming back. Hopefully, center Mitch Morris will stay healthy. We’ll probably use a low or middle draft pick to acquire more depth on the offensive line.

Another tight end could also be a possible offensive pick. The Chiefs 2018 draft should center around improving a defense with more speed players. The addition of Anthony Hitchens in free agency was an outstanding pick up for the team. Having Hitchens and Reggie Ragland as inside backers should help in the run area. Two areas that need more help is on the defensive line and secondary. Look for the organization to draft heavy in these two areas.

You can never have enough corners in the NFL. NFL defenses are playing with five and sometimes six defensive backs about 60% of the time. You must have the ability to play at least three solid corners all the time. The defense needs to be able to press the outside receivers with solid cover guys and at least one corner who can shut down the inside receiver. That corner must be able to stop the run in the alley as well as cover. Having a healthy Eric Berry back could help in so many ways. If the team can draft some secondary help, Berry could take under his wing.

The defensive line needs a true run stopper at nose tackle. The Chiefs do not have a first round pick this year but the second round pick should be a big run stopping defensive lineman. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017 with a defensive line that rotated six defensive lineman in all the time. The big guys were fresh and ready to roll on every play. You cannot stop the run in the NFL if you do not have depth on the defensive line. In some cases, the best scenario is for a team to take the best athlete available but this year the Chiefs need to take the best defensive player available in the draft period.

The offense has the tools they need to be successful. The team has more offensive depth than it has defensive depth. It is a simple formula – young guys are quicker and speed is needed to improve the slow 2017 defensive unit. At least in this year’s draft, the Chiefs will not face the need to draft a quarterback. The franchise has rolled the dice. Young gun Patrick Mahomes is the new hope. The young man is special without question.

This year will be filled with ups and downs as the strong armed QB learns the game of the NFL. Alex Smith haters will get a big change in the ball being throw down field. It will be interesting to see how they handle all the miss-reads and interceptions that can occur with a let-it-fly QB. Mahomes is the perfect guy to quarterback the skill athletes on the offense. If everyone stays healthy and Mahomes learns from his mistakes, the Chiefs offense could become one of the best in the NFL. This year’s draft will be important for the youth movement towards speed. It should be an interesting draft and 2018 season.

• Congratulations to John Donnell who was elected to the High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. John was one of the first athletic trainers in the Kansas City area in the late 80s. He started the athletic training program at Blue Springs High School. He later worked as an athletic trainer for the Lee’s Summit and Raytown School districts. He also worked for Missouri State High School Activities Association at multiple state events. John was a leader in helping athletes staying healthy through their high school athletic experiences. He was always about the kids.

• Congratulations to Austin Meyers for being the women’s head basketball coach at Northwest Missouri State University. Austin was a great high school player at Blue Springs and had an equally great college career at Northwest Missouri State. He served as a men’s basketball assistant coach there. He will take his experiences from a successful men’s program to the women’s program. He has always been a winner, and the Bearcats are lucky to have him as the new women’s head coach.

• My quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame NFL Coach Tom Landry, “We like competition, we think it brings out the best in people.”

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 t.crone@comcast.net.