Remembering some of the ups and downs of 2016

As 2016 nears the finish line, it’s time to recap some fall sports happenings.

• The presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump demonstrated that political prognosticators aren’t any better at making predictions than weather forecasters and sports columnists.

• Maybe the best line I heard on the morning of Election Day came from Mike Golic on ESPN Radio. He said he was writing in Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein for president of the United States. His rationale was that if Epstein could fix the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, he probably could fix America as well.

• Whatever happened to the art of laying down a bunt in baseball? I was astonished at some of the horrible bunting attempts during the playoffs and World Series. Now I realize that bunting a 95 mph fastball isn’t easy, but c’mon.

• Ben Zobrist has had a nice run, being on the winning team in the past two World Series with the Royals and Cubs.

• Speaking of the Royals, the Cubs also benefited from former Royals pitcher Mike Montgomery, who saved the seventh game of the World Series for Chicago.

• Supposedly the Cubs want to make nice with infamous Cubs fan Steve Bart­man, who attempted to catch a foul ball during a playoff game one year, but instead only caught hostility. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wants to reach out to Bartman and put that awful memory behind them.

Rickets said, “I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at the right time. And I’m sure we’ll figure something out that provides closure for everybody.”

Why did the Cubs wait until now before burying the hatchet with Bartman? It seems a little disingenuous.

• Will the Cleveland Indians follow Kansas City’s path to a World Series title next year? The Royals lost a seven-game series to San Francisco two years ago before winning it all against the New York Mets last year. Cleveland nearly won this year’s World Series, minus two starting pitchers because of injuries. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Indians make another run at a title next year.

• Were you as surprised as I was when the Hillsboro High School Trojans beat the Southeast of Saline Trojans in football at the end of the regular season? It’s not often a two-win team beats a one-loss team at the end of the season. Kudos to the HHS Trojans for beating a quality opponent with nothing on the line except pride.

• Mike Gardner’s Tabor Bluejays had another great football season, winning a second consecutive KCAC championship. This year’s team was very entertaining to say the least. Tabor amazingly won one game they could easily have lost to Sterling, before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Kansas Wes­leyan. No one said coaching is easy. Coach Gardner has built a program that is always competitive. Well done!

• Unfortunately, Tabor’s season came to a sudden end in the first round of the playoffs, losing 65-17 to Morning­side. Last year, the Mustangs defeated Tabor 51-6 in the playoffs. There’s no shame in losing to an excellent team in the postseason, but I’m sure getting routed again was disappointing to the coaches and team. Even as successful as Tabor has been, there’s still a gap between being good enough to make the playoffs and going deep into the playoffs.

• Tabor College volleyball also had an outstanding year, finishing second in the KCAC and defeating Way­land Baptist on the road to qualify for the national tournament. Kudos to coach Amy Ratzlaff and her team!

• Texas football coach Charlie Strong may not have been retained as head coach of the Longhorns anyway, but losing to KU in overtime (24-21) probably was the final nail in the coffin for the well-liked coach. Going into the game, KU was 1-9 this year and had lost its past 19 Big 12 games. For Texas fans, the loss was more than a little embarrassing.

By all accounts, the players liked Strong as coach. And Texas gets more than its fair share of talented athletes. What doesn’t make sense is how the Longhorns lost so many games with all that talent, especially to Kansas.

Hillsboro resident Joe Klein­sasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. You can reached him at Joe.Klein­

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