Struggling Royals DH Billy Butler hasn’t been plugged in at the plate

Billy Butler hits baseballs. Hard. This is what he does. So what happens when the hitting stops, inexplicably if temporarily, at the start of what might be the most important season of a career? “I don’t think he’s ever been through anything like this,” Royals manager Ned Yost says. “I’ve never been through anything like that,” Butler says.

Frank Haith is doing Missouri basketball a big-time favor

With Frank Haith expected to officially accept the Tulsa job, MU athletic director Mike Alden doesn’t have to worry about firing a man three (or four) years into the job. The school owes him no separation pay and, actually, as part of his contract, Haith will have to pay Mizzou $500,000 for leaving. Alden should use the money as a signing bonus for a better coach.

Yes, 11 games is too soon to panic, but Royals fans have no basis for hope

The Royals stand 4-7, the worst record in the American League, and a fan base trained to expect the worst is doing what it’s been taught. Most baseball people like to wait 40 games, but most baseball people haven’t suffered through an agonizing run of letdowns. Still, outside of injuries or showing up at the wrong stadium, the Royals could not have done much more in a three-day span to crumble fans’ confidence.

The time is right for the Chiefs to trade Eric Berry

Everyone is a commodity, and for the Chiefs, Eric Berry is more valuable as a trade piece than the starting strong safety. Trading Berry would anger Chiefs fans, require some major adjustments to defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s schemes — and provide much-needed salary cap space and extra draft picks.

Missouri athletic department starts to walk its talk

Missouri’s athletic department prides itself on character and integrity. Athletic director Mike Alden has repeated that over and over. But MU’s boldest move toward accountability came Friday afternoon when football coach Gary Pinkel announced star Dorial Green-Beckham’s ouster on the heels of an investigation that included a Columbia police report alleging the player broke into an apartment last weekend and pushed a woman down at least four stairs.

String of incidents at Missouri puts athletic culture on trial

Dorial Green-Beckham might have been arrested if he weren’t a football star. No sugarcoating. Due process, innocent-until-proven-guilty, all that stuff is important, and so is this: Columbia police were pursuing a warrant to arrest Green-Beckham until two women declined to press charges. According to a police, they aren’t pursuing charges because Green-Beckham is a football standout with an NFL future.

It’s time to stop dawdling and fix college sports

Faith in college sports’ leadership has never been lower, and that goes for officials and coaches inside the outdated NCAA machine as much as fans and those in the news media growing frustrated with the hypocrisy involved in a system where everyone gets rich except for the athletes we care about. Adopting the Olympic model would do the most good — particularly for the athletes who are being exploited — while doing the least amount of harm.

With Yordano Ventura pitching, Royals opener would have been awesome

The popular thing — the awesome thing — would have been for pitching phenomenon Yordano Ventura to greet fans in Kansas City by throwing the first pitch in the home opener of the most promising Royals season in a generation. But manager Ned Yost is not doing the awesome thing. The productive but rather boring Jeremy Guthrie starts today’s home opener; Ventura heads to the bullpen this weekend and starts sometime next week. And nobody can be sure whether it’s the right thing for the most precious, precarious asset the Royals have.

Yes it’s just one game, but bullpen success can be fleeting

Good bullpens are almost always like pop songs, hot one summer, then forgotten the next. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was so 2013. The Royals still have the makings of a good bullpen. Most teams around baseball would trade their relievers for the Royals’, no questions asked. But, still. It’s a bullpen, which means they are a group of flawed pitchers who didn’t make it as starters, and no team has had the majors’ best bullpen two years in row this century.

Royals’ 2014 season will be referendum on Dayton Moore

The disastrous state of the Royals upon Moore taking over and David Glass’ willingness to go from awful to solid-for-a-small-money-franchise in 2006 have always been conspiring to set Moore up as a hero or dunce in Royals history with not much in between. Over the last few years, especially, the natural and understandable impatience of Royals fans has been in a constant tug-of-war with the self-serving and ever-changing timelines put out by the front office.

Kansas’ loss a missed opportunity that had season-long roots

The second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks lost 60-57 on Sunday in the round of 32 to Stanford, a No. 10 seed that last played in this tournament six years ago. They should’ve been so much better than this. They could’ve been remembered as the fun-loving stars who grew together and lived up to one of the sport’s elite brand names.

Not a true point guard? Naadir Tharpe must prove critics wrong for KU to go deep in tournament

Naadir Tharpe was bad in Kansas’ win over Eastern Kentucky in the round of 64 on Friday, particularly in the first half, which means another round of the Tharpe-isn’t-good-enough talk. The difference this time, though, is that it starts with an opponent. “Coach was telling us about that,” Stanford junior Anthony Brown says of KU’s first game. “They kind of struggled, not a true point guard.”

Wichita State disrespected? Only the Shockers coach thinks so

Shockers are a No. 1 seed that is ranked second and has been on the cover of major publications and landed players on All-America teams. The Shockers players may not feel overlooked, but much of the disrespect angle come from their bench. “We like to play that us-against-the-world mentality,” says sophomore guard Ron Baker. “That comes from our coach.”

Another death at sports complex leaves us looking for answers

These words were going to be about a football game at Arrowhead Stadium, but then a man died after a fight in the parking lot. This column was going to be about a team that won its first nine games and now looks overwhelmed after losing a third straight game, this time 35-28 to the Broncos, but that now feels incredibly empty.

Sam Mellinger: A good quarterback is hard to find

John Dorsey wants to see quarterbacks in person. Has to, really. The Chiefs general manager can watch an offensive lineman or a running back or a defensive tackle on film and have a pretty good idea what he’s looking at. But quarterbacks are different. Quarterbacks are harder. Evaluating quarterbacks requires a little more attention.

Tragedy and trauma land hardest on innocent child

“An infant girl wakes up this morning without parents, both dead, dad killing mom and then turning the gun on himself,” The Star’s Sam Mellinger writes of the murder-suicide in which Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his longtime girlfriend Kasandra Perkins then himself. “There are no answers. None that make sense, anyway.”

Bo Jackson’s magical 1989 All-Star Game

My 11th birthday came in the spring of 1989, which means I wore striped socks up to my knees and had a huge crush on the lead singer of the Bangles and will fight anyone who disrespects Back to the Future.