It’s a good kind of busy right now in the sports world. We already had conference tournaments going on with the NCAA tournament coming up. We already had spring training taking place with all kinds of news from that. But now we have Kansas looking for an athletic director and then a football coach. We have the Chiefs releasing players to get under the salary cap. MLB announced it would experiment with rules in the minor leagues. And maybe the best of all, Duke quit on its season.
Kansas City Royals 4, Milwaukee Brewers 2 (Box Score)
5:30pm – CBB – Baylor vs Oklahoma State (ESPN)
6:00pm – CBB – Missouri vs Arkansas (SECN)
8:30pm – CBB – Kansas vs Texas (TBD)
Chiefs Overhauling Offensive Line
The Chiefs released LT Eric Fisher and RT Mitchell Schwartz, and C Austin Reiter is a free agent and will pursue a deal with another team. The moves free up $18.25 million of cap space. There are rumors that Schwartz might retire. He is building a kitchen that he can record cooking shows in as that is his passion. The Chiefs could very well re-sign Eric Fisher to a more team-friendly contract.
The moves are not shocking since both Fisher and Schwartz players are trying to recover from injuries. And with the lower cap in 2021, the Chiefs couldn’t afford to keep them at the money they were making and be questionable, if not unlikely, to be healthy when the season starts.
Today’s moves with three starters on the offensive line feel very familiar to what Brett Veach did after the AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots in 2018. At that time, the Chiefs failed to get to the Super Bowl because of terrible defense. Veach fired the defensive coordinator and changed most of the defense. He brought in Tyrann Mathieu to lead the unit.
This year, it was the offensive line that hurt the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Fisher and Schwartz were not healthy, and Tampa Bay destroyed their replacements. So Veach is tearing down the offensive line and will rebuild it. And don’t be surprised if he figures out a way to bring in a Tyrann Mathieu-like offensive lineman, meaning somebody to lead the unit.
I would expect Veach to sign a couple of offensive linemen in free agency to solidify the unit before the draft comes around. He likes to enter the draft being able to draft the best available player instead of having to go after a particular position.
Kansas Names Interim Coach
Kansas named passing game coordinator/receivers coach Emmett Jones their interim head coach while waiting for a new coach to be hired. Many of the players went to social media recently wanting Jones to be the coach, and Kansas needs to keep as many players as it can.
Jones has been an important recruiter for the Jayhawks since he joined the staff. He has ties in the Dallas area and other parts of Texas and has brought several quality players into the program.
Josh Staumont threw an inning in a simulated game on Thursday. Staumont arrived at spring training late, and the Royals are easing him into things. He threw bullpens and live batting practice, so Thursday was a step forward with a simulated game. He should appear in a spring training game soon.
The Royals made several roster moves to cut down on the number of players in major league camp. Pitchers Scott Blewett and Ronald Bolanos, catcher Meibrys Viloria and outfielder Edward Olivares were optioned to Triple-A Omaha. Pitchers Jonathan Bowlan, Austin Cox, Grant Gavin, John Heasley, Asa Lacy, Alec Marsh, Noah Murdock, Carlos Sanabria, Collin Snider, Andres Sotillet, Gabe Speier, and Jace Vines, along with catchers Freddy Fermin and MJ Melendez, infielders Gabriel Cancel, Clay Dungan, Jeison Guzman, Nick Loftin, Nick Pratto, and Emmanual Rivera and outfielders Seuly Matias, Anderson Miller and Erick Pena were reassigned to minor league camp.
The moves reduced major league camp to 46 players, including 14 non-roster invitees.
MLB Rule Experiments
Major League Baseball announced experimental rules that will be used in minor league games this season. MLB will implement different rule changes at different levels of play.
Triple-A will see the bases increased from 15 to 18 inches square. The hope is that the increased size will reduce the distance between the bases slightly, thereby allowing more successful stolen base attempts and more players reaching or advancing on base.
Double-A will have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the dirt edge. Depending on how that rule does in the first half of the season, it could be modified to require two infielders completely on each side of second base. This is a rule to reduce shifts and allow more balls in play to turn into hits.
High-A will require pitchers to completely disengage from the pitching rubber before throwing to a base. Failure to do so would result in a balk. The hope is to increase the number of stolen base attempts.
Low-A experimental rules will limit a pitcher to a total of two “step offs” or “pickoffs” per plate appearance if there is a runner on base. If the pitcher attempts a third pickoff in a plate appearance and the runner returns safely, a balk will be called. This rule could be modified during the season to allow just one pickoff attempt or step off. This rule is an attempt for more action by pitching the ball and making it a little easier for stolen bases.
I will discuss these rules more in an upcoming podcast or video.
Duke’s streak of 24 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances will come to an end this year. The Blue Devils had a player test positive for the covid and had to forfeit their quarterfinal game Thursday against Florida State. Although Duke likely would not have made the NCAA tournament but could have possibly been an alternate team if others had covid issues, Duke’s athletic director Kevin White declared the season over.
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Michigan State announces basketball team will now be called ‘MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage’ (Jack Baer)
Thanks for reading…