As summer nears the end, Chiefs prepare for St. Joseph trip

By the time this story hits the paper racks or your mailbox or even social media, the training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs will have unofficially started in St. Joseph.

For members of the media, the season started on Tuesday, July 23 when rookies and quarterbacks reported to Missouri Western for the start of training camp.

The first official workout for all of the teams will be on Saturday, July 27. This is probably one of the few times in my life the team has suited up in the July heat to open preseason camp with a decent chance at going to the Super Bowl.

Cody Thorn

Cody Thorn

I’m sure the defense will be a question that will have to be answered as the year goes along, but if Steve Spagnuolo’s defense can stop anyone then the Chiefs will have a chance to return to the AFC title game for the second year in a row.

The offense will again be one of the best in the league and last week’s news of Tyreek Hill’s return probably answered the biggest question hanging over the offense this offseason.

There was certainly a time that I felt that Hill would be cut. When the audio was first leaked by KCTV5, I thought it was too damaging to keep him on the team.

Just look back at Kareem Hunt. The video came out and he was off the team within hours. Hill avoided that fate and by now, a lot of people have heard the full audio.

KCTV5 took some heat for not airing the full audio and only parts of it when it first came out. Then, other members of the media, with that snippet of audio, wrote stories.

In fact, the audio painted Hill in such a light that Kevin Keitzman decided to weigh in on the incident on his show on 810 AM. Now, he is without a job.

On a side note, I have been covering Chiefs games for nearly 15 years and I have only seen him a handful of times over the years. For a member of the KC media, he wasn’t one you saw often at many big games, let alone those horribly tough years to cover under Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel and the late tenure of Herm Edwards.

But back on track, it will be interesting to see how Hill is welcomed by the fans. How will Travis Kelce look after offseason surgery? How fast will Mecole Hardeman burn a cornerback? What can Damien Williams do in a full year after a half a season of success after Hunt was cut? What will the defense look like without Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry?

VOTE EARLY, OFTEN

Last week, as part of the NFL 100th anniversary, the Chiefs are giving fans a chance to vote on the greatest moment in team history. During the Oct. 6 game against Indianapolis, the winner of the four choices in franchise history will be released.

The options are 65 Toss Power Trap, the call used during Super Bowl IV; Lamar Hunt coining the phrase Super Bowl after the AFL-NFL merger; Hunt founding the AFL, along with seven other investors; Mike Garrett’s long run that sent the Chiefs to Super Bowl I in 1966.

Fans can vote at www.chiefs.com/greatestmoments.

ROYAL RUMBLING

By this time next week, the Royals will likely have moved a few players off the roster in what is a rebuilding year.

The trade deadline is July 31 and without the waiver deadline this year, there will hopefully be more trades this year than in years past. The Royals, I believe, will move Jake Diekman for sure and maybe Billy Hamilton. The national media believes the team should trade Whit Merrifield while he is still good and the Royals are a few years away from contending again.

I still think the team is two years away from building back up to something that is worth going to when it is 100 degrees or so at first pitch. The team has some of its better prospects in Double-A, meaning they are a year or two away from reaching Kauffman Stadium.

For the first time, in probably forever, the minor league system has more pitching prospects with likely big league futures than position players. The 2014-2015 teams were built on homegrown position players and trades were used to beef up the rotation — remember the trade for James Shields and Wade Davis that cost the Royals one of the best prospects in Wil Myers.

Years later, Myers is a decent big leaguer, but no star. Shields was a key pitcher on the 2014 team, while Davis became a semi-god when he became a closer.

I hope to get down to Springdale, Ark., soon to see Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar pitch. I saw them a few years ago in Omaha pitching in the College World Series.

Once they get to Kansas City and have a chance to work with Salvador Perez, they will get better.

A NEEDED SPARK

Last week, Kansas City got a rare pitching performance from Glenn Sparkman.

The right-hander threw a complete game shutout, giving up five hits, striking out eight and walking only one.

As I watched the game, I kept on waiting for the White Sox to find a way to score, but they didn’t. Sparkman threw the first complete-game shutout for the Royals since Jason Vargas did it on June 2, 2017 against Cleveland. Sparkman was the first Royals right-hander to throw a complete-game shutout since Johnny Cueto did so in 2015.

The last 1-0 shutout win for the Royals came on April 7, 2018 against Cleveland. Incidentally, the Royals pulled out a 1-0 win on Saturday, July 20.