We can now say that college football starts next month, and at the risk of showing ignorance for the inevitable passing of time, that just seems a little weird. But, there it is anyway, Aug. 29 51 days until real football games.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Locally, K-State will be in the middle of the kickoff when they play the second game ever on Fox Sports 1 (Friday Aug. 30, against North Dakota State), which, well, is at least taking a welcomed swing at competing with the ESPN monster.
Next month seems closer than you mightve thought, but its still enough time to get into many specifics and lots of predictions that will surely turn to crap so right now lets just do one issue for each local program.
Missouri: This season is, in many ways, determining the rest of Gary Pinkels coaching life. He helped push for the SEC and then went 2-6 in his new league, including a home loss to Vanderbilt. Bad teams often reach for the injury excuse, but with Mizzou last year its legit, especially on the offensive line. But its hard to imagine fans being excited about Pinkel without at least a bowl game this year.
Kansas State: Bill Snyders record with a quarterback he trusts is simply remarkable. This is often simplified by looking at the years he has a returning starter (like last year, when they won the Big 12 with Collin Klein) but there are voices around the program pushing this fall as an exception because of two good candidates: Daniel Sams, last years backup, and Jake Waters, the juco transfer. You guys know where I stand on this one: with Bill.
Kansas: The eye test says the Jayhawks were better last year than with Turner Gill, but reality says thats a shameful standard and that they went 1-11 after winning three and two games in Gills embarrassing seasons. Weis is making an amazing $2.5 million, and with all the money KU has recently given Gill and Mangino to not coach, they probably dont have much choice but to ride with Weis for a while. But they need to improve, and greatly, to at least stop the jokes and Bob Valesente references.
As always, thanks for your help and for reading.
@ benbaumanKS Why did you stop using the profile pic with the "I'm confused" head tilt? # twittertuesday
Well, were all friends here so lets be honest: it was past time to change that picture. I was only holding off for two reasons:
Too many of you were (justifiably) killing me for it, so I didnt want to cave in to peer pressure.
I didnt have a better picture (Im teeing this up for jokes, you guys).
A friend drew the picture Im using now a while back. I hoped to use it here on the blog, but that didnt work out, so were here now. My favorite part is the (strippers) bra hanging on Sluggerrrs ear.
This is the weeks most popular topic, and the answer probably isnt a popular one: they stand pat.
Im not saying they wont make ANY move, but the idea of trading for a major piece (Giancarlo Stanton or Chase Utley, for instance) is just unlikely and, Id argue, silly.
Of course, there are a few ways to look at all of this
@ TheJeffReport if Dayton Moore trades a top 3 Royals prospect at the deadline is he doing what's best for the team or saving his job? # TT
and whichever one you choose probably has a lot of confirmation bias in it. If you think Dayton is a bad GM whos overstayed his welcome, you could read a big trade as a desperation move to save his job and you could read standing pat as satisfaction with being almost .500.
If you think Dayton is a good GM whos turned the worst franchise in North American sports to better days without the benefit of enormous spending, then you read a big trade as an aggressive move to win now and standing pat as resisting the temptation to stray from the plan.
If youre like me, and think Daytons done a great job of pumping life into a dead franchise but still must see some success in the big leagues soon to keep his job then maybe you see it like I do: the kind of haul that would be required for a major piece like Stanton (Ventura, Starling, Zimmer, Mondesi and maybe Crow) would be malpractice.
@ pfunk270 any idea which way royals are leaning right now...keep or trade Ervin magic Santana?
Bob Dutton would have a better feel for this than I, but my sense is theyre expecting to keep him unless overwhelmed with an offer. Assuming the Royals would lose Santana to free agency after this season, theyd be in line for draft pick compensation, which, along with his fabulous season (so far, anyway) would be a heck of a pull for his $12 million salary and a nobody minor league reliever.
The Royals are sort of in that middle ground, six games back, too close to give up but not close enough to justify a big move.
Which, really, just adds importance to the current stretch and means all of this trade talk is best revisited in a few weeks as we approach the July 31 (non-waiver) deadline.
@ Grant4MU which should I lament more - Royals picking Colon over Sale, or not losing one more game in 2009 and getting Machado instead?
Machado is ridiculous. Hes leading the league in doubles, and just turned 21 over the weekend. Hes almost exactly the same age as Bubba Starling, in other words. But if youre going to lament not losing more games for a draft pick, the proper lament is David Price. Couldve been the Royals ace, if not for a silly sweep of the rotten Tigers at the end of the 2006 season.
But the answer is Sale. Its the biggest mistake Dayton Inc. has made, and if this ends up with a press conference about him being fired, Christian Colon over Chris Sale is in his Royals careers obituary.
@ GooseKC if you're DM & get a drunken email from Glass saying you can sign any Royal to whatever contract locks him up, whodoyou call 1st?
First of all, the image of a drunken email from David Glass green-lighting a big expenditure is fantastically hilarious.
Second of all, after talking about Daytons biggest mistake, this question highlights his greatest success: not only rebuilding the Royals into a functioning big league organization but signing every single one of their worthy young players to contract extensions.
Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, the absurd Sal Perez contract (more on this later), and even Zack Greinke. I suppose the first three months of this season might call into question whether Escobar is actually worth the contract, but even as a bad hitter hes a good enough shortstop to justify a $3 million salary through 2015 (the bigger numbers in 2016 and 2017 are on team options).
But, anyway, the answer is James Shields.
@ KirschnerCK If Alex Gordon was a chicken strip, what dipping sauce would he be covered in? # TwitterTuesday
I assume this is a Rex Hudler reference?
The man turns 58 today, but in my mind, hell always be in his 20s, rounding second base for another triple and changing the way I watched baseball as a boy. You know, his 83 stolen bases in 1979 are nearly as unbreakable a franchise record as George Bretts .390 batting average in 1980.
@ midwestmidfield 2 All Star Royals players or 3 All Star Sporting players... Who is more deserving and you are you most excited for? # twittertues
Great question, and obviously one for which theres no set answer. How do you compare across sports like that? Graham Zusi is Sportings best player, and my sense is hes better relative to MLS than either Alex Gordon or Sal Perez are relative to MLB, but Im not sure how Id argue the point too passionately.
I think anyone who watches the Royals and Sporting is excited for all five players. Matt Besler is a local kid emerging on the national scene. Aurelien Collin plays with a certain fire or swagger that you tend to like. Alex Gordon has been through so much with the Royals. And Perez is, perhaps, the most man-crushed player on either team.
But if youre asking who Im most excited for, which is a different question than most deserving, its Gordon. Hes been a phenom and a bust, and come out of it as a guy with a stars ability and a grunts work ethic, the perfect attitude for a ballplayer that a lot of people around town are no longer misreading as disinterest.
@ PhilGarver From today's roster, which Royal will have the most All-Star appearances in his career?
Perez. He only turned 23 in May and is an All-Star in (hopefully) his first full season. Hes long been a favorite here (and before here, at Ball Star) and has the advantage of position. All-Star teams need catchers, and Joe Mauer is playing more and more games as a DH or first baseman. Carlos Santana probably isnt going anywhere anytime soon, but really, its not at all hard to image Perez making five or six more All-Star teams.
If he got to six, by the way, that would be more than any player in franchise history other than George Brett.
@ EvanFahrbach if Gordon is the biggest BA of the Royals, who is for the Chiefs? Tamba? JC? # TwitterTuesday
My sense is that Jamaal Charles is the consensus pick as the Chiefs best player, and no disrespect to him, but I actually think the answer is Justin Houston, and I have a suspicion (hope?) we see more of that in Bob Suttons defense than we did Romeo Crennels. There was actually grumbling in the locker room last year about the coaching staffs misuse of Houston, of putting him in too much coverage and not enough blitzes.
@ theGeneric1 Give us your chiefs boom and bust. Who exceeds expectations and who disappoints?
Can Houston be my answer here, too? I think hes got a good shot to be a breakout star, a 14-sack kind of game-changer, depending on a lot of factors in and out of his control. Conversely, I wonder if were starting to see the decline of Tamba Hali. Not that hes a has-been, or not a good player, but hes taken a lot of abuse and never eased off the throttle.
@ patronaut0709 # TwitterTuesday Is it acceptable to enjoy being hit on by a cute blonde teller at the bank even though you are happily married?
Its not only acceptable, its expected. Its natural. Dont question nature. Im a happily married man myself, but as long as youre not going extracurricular theres no harm in a I-still-got-it moment every now and then. Keeps the blood pumping. Keeps you from going atrophy, turning into the kind of slob that only your wife could love.
Also: blatant humblebrag, my man.
@ morelandj Do you think it will be hours or minutes before every Royals fan adds this to their respective wills? http://ow.ly/mLore
Im not trying to be a wet blanket here, because I laughed, but isnt this an old joke? I swear Ive heard versions of this wanted to be let down by the team one last time joke before.
And just for the record: this is my favorite fan obituary.
@ nickrichie24 Do you play video games? If so, what is your favorite console and game? # TT
Well, I went to college, which means I wasted plenty of time on Madden and NCAA football games, creating my own college usually I named it Sams Town, after the now defunct casino and going from start-up to national champ in about three seasons.
Then, well, put it this way: after I moved about five years ago, I dont know that I ever turned my Wii on other than for my little brother or nephews. And since we moved about a year ago, I havent taken it out of the box.
@ JustJanelJ Are you a lavender type of man? I'm obsessed. Drinks, ice cream, soap, gardening... This is ok, right! # TT
I have no clue what this means, and I have a feeling Im happy about this.
@ easz88 Hey, Twinkies are back next week. You excited bro? # TwitterTuesday
Never been a big Twinkie guy, strangely. Always been much more of a salty snack guy than sweet. Like Cheetos. Or Flamin Hot Munchies, a gift to us straight from the gods, to let us know they love us and want us to be happy.
@ kent_swanson As a 20-something, I still don't believe Bo Jackson was a Royal. Also, is he the Royals' curse?
Oh, Kent, I have a feeling youre asking this question just so I can link again to our story uncovering Kansas Citys Curse of the Shuttlecocks.
@ froggiemlm your only allowed to have 1 beer, 1 BBQ item and 1 song go
So, this is a very different question than whats your favorite. I hope we can all agree on this. Like, Saison Brett is my favorite beer but its a little heavier, hard to have more than a few of, and if youre telling me I can only have one kind of beer the rest of my life Im looking for a little more versatility.
Which means Im going to a Pale Ale. There are a million great ones out there, but my favorites are Mirror Pond by Deschutes, 8-Bit by Tallgrass, and, well, Pale Ale by Boulevard. Im probably taking the Boulevard just on principle.
For barbecue, I think you have to go with pulled pork. Ribs and burnt ends are usually more delicious, but the pork you can eat it a million different ways. Better chance of still being happy with your choice a year from now.
I actually tend to get sick of songs fairly quickly, so my temptation is to pick an old-school song thats (so far) stood the test of time, something like So Fresh, So Clean (which would make a GREAT walk-up song). But I think Im going with something with different sounds in it, like What You Do To Me, off the BlacRoc album.
@ BobbyCave Will the @ royals ever have a legitimate star on the team again? A true, all-star commercial-starring star? Any on the team now?
Gordon could be that guy, if he wanted, but Ive never gotten the sense that he cares much about fame or commercials or really anything other than his family, working out, and baseball. Perez could be that guy. Hell be around long enough, and has the personality for it.
Whether they say it out loud or not, this is actually a significant reason why they drafted and gave $7.5 million to Bubba Starling. The early returns arent great, but if he could somehow get even close to his ceiling the Royals would have their next generations marketing star: local, premier position, crazy athleticism, good name, the whole bit.
But hes hitting .224 with 84 strikeouts in 76 games in Class A ball, so, well, you know.
@ justin_baker88 what do you think of Sal's EXTREMELY team friendly contract from a business standpoint and then how he should feel?
It really might be the most club-friendly contract in baseball, the most valuable commodity in the game. No exaggeration there.
When the deal was announced, I Tweeted that the Royals should smoke a cigarette. That earned me a long talk with a club official about how the deal was fair for both sides and that the Royals were taking on some risk but, cmon.
Hes making $1 million this year, which slowly escalates to $2 million by 2016. The salaries after that -- $3.75 million, $5 million, and $6 million are all less than hes worth now AND team options. So theres really no risk.
Its an amazing contract and, honestly, something the Royals are going to start hearing about from Perez or people around him. The deal is SO tilted in the teams favor, Perez is probably going to be unhappy with it soon and might ask to renegotiate.
My feeling in these situations has always been sympathy for NFL players, and none for MLB players. The Royals couldnt renegotiate Jeff Francoeurs deal, so Perez shouldnt be able to renegotiate his.
@ CasselCrisp when you go into a store but don't purchase anything, how do you walk out without looking like a criminal?
I think you have to be up front about this one, confront the problem head-on. When you walk out, look someone who works there in the eye and give one of those stupid cliché salutations, take it easy, or whatever.
I actually have a friend who often buys SOMETHING in a store, even if he doesnt want to, just so he doesnt go through what were talking about here. That friend is an idiot. Dont be an idiot.
@ mitchopkins what was the first CD you ever owned? # TT
I dont know, only because my milemarker here is actually a cassette tape: Thriller.
@ TbobSmith Also, what's the age limit to bring a glove to the K? Been seeing lots of adults with gloves out there. I say 10 years old.
Im different than a lot of people here, because I dont have a problem with adults taking gloves to games. Its not something I do, and I would crush any of my friends for doing it, but in general I feel like this: you enjoy sports your way, Ill enjoy sports my way.
All that said, youre a huge jerk if youre an adult and dont give the foul ball to a kid.
@ BHIndepMO which players who aren't on the KC 25-man roster (in the KC org or not) are most likely to be useful post-7/31? # TwitterTuesday
Actually had a conversation about this with some friends yesterday. The answer is Yordano Ventura. Hes in Omaha right now, giving up too many baserunners (1.471 WHIP) with too high of an ERA (4.93) but a lot of strikeouts (34 in 34 2/3 innings).
I dont know if this would hold up to a thorough examination, but it sure seems like breakout teams often have a power arm they promote midseason. Im thinking specifically of the 2008 Rays with David Price and this years Pirates with Gerrit Cole.
In the absolute best-case outcome, Ventura would be that guy for the Royals. But its more likely to be next year than this year.
@ CelloJordan Will you be covering the MLS All Star Game at the end of the month?
Yeah, Im planning on it, anyway. You know, unless Dayton ignores my advice and uses July 31 to trade his farm system for Giancarlo Stanton or something.