It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for local sports fans over the last few days.
On Thursday, the Kansas City Royals lost their first 2015 playoff game – on Friday, they tied the series with the Houston Astros at 1-1.
On Friday night, the Smith-Cotton Football Tigers defeated their eighth consecutive opponent of the season. They beat the St. Pius X Warriors by 18 points in front of a crowd of roaring Sedalians.
The people who set up the football schedule for the West Central Conference have found themselves with the best case scenario – undefeated Smith-Cotton will travel to Kansas City on Friday to take on the equally undefeated Central Yellowjackets and the winner will be the undisputed champion of the WCC. Center has been blowing their opponents out of the water – their smallest margin of victory is 22 against Warrensburg. But the Tigers have grit, moxie and stylish uniforms.
These sons of Sedalia are doing their city proud, and they’ve had a great season no matter how things turn out in Kansas City. Back when the news about the new on-campus football stadium was made official I thought it might invigorate the program – and that seems to be the case, to a certain degree.
On Saturday, the Missouri Football Tigers were dominated by the Florida Gators in Columbia. Well, the Mizzou offense was dominated – it was one of those “classic” SEC defensive games where the team that could show the barest amount of offense in the face of serious defense would probably win the game.
So Mizzou was doomed from the start. This season’s Tigers offense is bad. They’re 12th out of 14th in the SEC in total net yards (And they’ve already dropped a game to 13th ranked Kentucky), 13th in rushing (Better than only, you guessed it, Kentucky) and 11th in first downs. (Kentucky is dead last, again.)
Meanwhile, the defense is near the top of the SEC rankings — third in sacks and fourth in interceptions — but we’re learning that even a great defense can only do so much when the offense delivers lightning fast three-and-outs. Mizzou has been building a reputation as a top defensive team in the SEC but even the best defenders start getting a little tired when they have to be on the field for most of the game.
By Saturday’s end, the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves with a 1-1 playoff series record like their western Missouri counterparts.
On Sunday, western Missouri football fans must have been experiencing some serious déjà Vu: the surprising Chicago Bears engaged in a defensive struggle with a Missouri team in Missouri. And the Chiefs were winning that game by a healthy margin until their defense, gassed from being on the field for most of the game, allowed 12 Chicago points in the last quarter. The Chiefs lost by one point.
And there’s fault to go around, but there’s one person that has a lot of responsibility for this year’s severe Kansas City football letdown: quarterback Alex Smith. The new Captain Checkdown seems to be getting worse as the season goes on. They don’t have to cut him, because he can be a good voice of experience for whoever replaces him, but they should relieve him of his starting duties. Put in Chase Daniel! Put in Aaron Murray! Let the starting RB take wildcat snaps for most of the game! Convert a wide receiver! Anyone but Smith, please.
And to add injury to insult, Jamaal Charles, the man that makes up most of the Kansas City ground offense, has suffered a season-ending injury and the Chiefs might be in contention for the top pick in the next NFL draft.
The St. Louis Rams realistically didn’t have much of a chance against the Packers in Green Bay, but the defense had an impressive showing against Aaron Rodgers, who might be the best quarterback in football today and forced his first home interception in 586 passes.
Also on Sunday, the Houston Astros won game three of the ALDS.
Now I’m not much of a baseball fan, but I did find myself watching game 4 of the ALDS on Monday, and when Houston went up 6-2 in the seventh inning I gave up and assumed that the Royals would continue that proud Kansas City tradition of choking in the playoffs.
But when they made up that deficit and even took the lead in a single inning my eyes were glued to the screen, and for a while I was legitimately enjoying a baseball game. Powder blue magic was happening here, I was seeing real playoff history. I watched as a stadium full of orange-clad fans palmed their faces or stared off into the distance in disbelief.
So now, the Royals just need to win one more game at home to seal the deal. But it’s not a sure thing – that was the exact scenario they were in last year to clinch the World Series and they choked. Let’s hope Kauffman is kinder this time.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.