Royals have concerns; K-State, KU football finding different ways to be exciting in 2017

I’ve written this before, but for those who may be new …

I grew up in Northeast Kansas and read the Topeka Capital-Journal sports page as my daily devotional. It was the front page of that section where I was introduced to Pete Goering. Years before I would come to recognize his influence in my future work, Pete taught me how long-lasting brevity’s impact can be. 

Personally, I regret not making more of an opportunity to seek out his in-person guidance when I worked at the TCJ. I let intimidation get the best of me. But, in the years since, I’ve always felt my way to honor Pete was by penning occasional Musings columns in the style I grew to love so much from him.  -ck

Of course, former Royals prospect and current San Diego Padres slugger Wil Myers hits for the cycle on the same day the Kansas City Royals have one of their worst offensive days so far in 2017. 

– I don’t think any Royals fan would trade the success that followed Myers getting traded, but still … of course he did.

– It’s hard to think the Royals starting rotation will continue on its 2.88 ERA clip. Just like it’s hard to think the offense will continue its 27th-ranked .610 OPS effort.

– But, if the pitching comes back while the hitting goes up, where does that leave a team already inducing more doubt than inspiration while starting 2-4?

– Especially if the bullpen doesn’t get things figured out, like, soon?

– My feeling is it puts us back with those Royals teams from the early 2000s.

– In other words, exciting teams that lost more than they won.

– It’s exciting to wonder what Kansas State football will look like in 2017.

– A healthy Jesse Ertz at quarterback running, and throwing to talented receivers, and running …

– Along with a defense that will at least be solid and stands the chance of being really good …

– Along with experienced, talented special teams units …

– All led by a legendary coach in Bill Snyder who, thanks to season-long narratives, won’t ever have to remind his team he beat cancer during the offseason.

– Now, go back and read those last few thoughts with the Wabash Cannonball playing in your mind.

– Pretty exciting, no?

– There is some building excitement in Lawrence, too.

– David Beaty and his Kansas Jayhawks football staff are making some waves by securing early commitments from talent-rich Louisiana.

– For a program willing to find hope and momentum in any form, a word of caution to fans on pinning hopes on football recruiting.

– Yes, KU’s 2018 class is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation.

– That’s pretty sweet, but it is a long way and a lot of games to signing day.

– The question will be whether KU fans and admins will be able to stomach another year or two of three wins or less per season before that talent arrives and begins the development process (assuming the class stays intact).

– Even if KU wins 4 games per year the next two, Beaty’s record would be 10-38 and no bowl appearances in four seasons.

– Would something like that be good enough to keep waiting and hoping?

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KU football: When even a win didn’t matter

The Memorial Stadium game clock reported just under 11 minutes left in the first quarter as I began hopping two cement stairs at a time.

I was on my way to the west side of the stadium, headed to pick up a will call ticket and take my seat, where I would spend the next three hours witnessing the Kansas Jayhawks earn their first football win since Nov. 8, 2014.

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A timestamp marking the first KU Football win since Nov. 8, 2014.

Favored by nearly four touchdowns over Rhode Island, KU didn’t disappoint as it racked up a 55-6 victory against a downtrodden Rams program allergic to size, speed, scheme, and inspiration. Such dominance later brought tears to KU’s second-year head coach David Beaty.

And, that’s not even the weirdest part.

Just after the game ended, before Beaty’s press conference, tens of hyped students, who had not yet left in search of ongoing neighborhood house parties,  stormed a small section of the field. Once there, they barely had time to congratulate everyone in the group by name before the public address announcer had firmly tucked in his shirt, hiked his pants, and scolded, “This is a new era in Kansas football, an era in which you should EXPECT to win.”

We heard the message while walking out of the stadium – still able to see the field, but just far enough away that you could hear the disbelief and collective eye-roll from fans who didn’t see a problem with kids who were capable of little more than bending a few blades of turf.

This all served as the cap to an evening I spent witnessing other fans around me drowsily check the field before diving back into their smartphone browsing. That’s not to mention the general lack of interest in the concert-level music of today blasting throughout the stadium during timeouts — as if to say “See? Look! We’re fun! It’s FUN to be here! Are you not ENTERTAINED!?”

The answer to that was apparently not, as fans filtered away from a game that served less purpose than a KU intra-squad scrimmage would have. Even for a team that went 0-12 in 2015, it was too easy, this win, and fans felt it.

Still, while KU is on point at any given moment when it comes to basketball, Saturday’s events combined left me with a sense of nobody really knew how to handle a win, or even handle football for that matter. The music was a hedge bet toward needing to create some artificial fan experience outside of enjoying the football in front of them. Those who wanted to celebrate the first home win in nearly two years were told to stop. A coach said the right things regarding expecting to win but in the same breaths showed stress cracks caused by the immense weight of changing such a culture.

It was something to behold, and will be something to watch if and when a win happens again … whether in this season’s life or the next.