NFL players had their blood drawn for HGH testing this week. This will, and has been, hailed as a major step forward and I suppose in a technical sense thats true. Blood has been hard to get for testing, in all sports, with unions typically fighting on grounds of privacy.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
But the way the NFL is doing it, these tests will only be used to establish a baseline of typical HGH levels of NFL players which will then be used to determine acceptable levels for future tests.
There is nothing in science or research to suggest that NFL players would have higher levels than other athletes, or the population in general. Most within the NFL believe a substantial amount of players are using HGH, so if anything this "baseline" testing will establish the current level of cheating. Dont go over this level in the future, and players should be fine.
Or, if you want to take the more cynical view: players were essentially encouraged to load up on HGH for the baseline test to raise the "acceptable" levels for future tests.
Basically, this is a stall tactic, or worse: an enormous loophole to allow HGH use.
Look, Im not pretending that most fans care much about HGH or other performing-enhancing drugs. I think many fans are fatigued on this issue. I am, too. But I do know the NFL is talking the "player safety" talk, and allowing players to continue to get unnaturally bigger and stronger and faster is wiping out a lot of efforts in other areas.
As always, thanks for the help and for reading.
Got a lot of these questions. Here was my favorite form:
@ThirdReichert with both KC teams at .500 (51-51 and 0-0), which has the best chance of finishing with a winning record?
How beautiful is that? Here in Kansas City, apparently, we count 0-0 as .500. Hell, why not?
Im not trying to be a buzzkill here, but Id bet on both teams finishing below .500. Id bet more on the Chiefs finishing below .500.
Because, look: they were 2-14 last year. Two and 14! Worst team in the league, and all due disrespect to Jacksonville, Im not sure it was too close. The Chiefs would need to improve by seven games nearly half the schedule for a winning record. In the last 10 years, the 10 teams to go exactly 2-14 have won an average of 5.7 games the next year.
Dont get me wrong. Im optimistic about the Chiefs, long-term. Andy Reid is an accomplished coach, with a skill-set that fits what theyre trying to do here.
I worry about whether he shouldve taken a year off after everything that happened in Philadelphia last year, but hes a grown man, and if he thinks hes ready lets see. I know that he has a better chance without doubling as the teams GM, like he did in Philly, and on that point John Dorseys schooling and track record in Green Bay earns the benefit of the doubt.
At least with the Royals, I mean, theyve played 102 games at break-even. If they can avoid another 4-19 turd, theyve got a decent shot.
Well, Ive never been a big jersey guy, and as an adult I live by a strict No Jersey policy. If youre a jersey wearer, I dont judge. I just know whats good for me. You do you, Ill do me.
The other problem with me and jerseys is that theyre so damn expensive, especially baseball and football. The basketball jerseys, no sleeves and all that, I feel like you could get a replica for like $20 back in the day.
So, anyway, the answer is a Chris Mullin No. 17 Warriors jersey.
Unathletic and constantly gunning three-pointers, he was a role model for me on the mean streets of Lawrence growing up. True story: I once wore that jersey and a pair of Warriors shorts I had to school every day for a week on a $50 bet.
Maybe. I dont know. Somebodys gotta be ninth. The only thing I know for absolute certain is that Kansas should be last. The only other thing I feel confident about is that K-State will be higher than sixth.
@barleymanz who are top 5 draft choices for SKC in the next MLS draft? Please provide player bios and video highlights. #TwitterTuesday
@thillsman What are your tools of the trade? What software do you use? Do you ever write on paper/phone/iPad? Old-school hat w/pass in band?
Im a simple man. Voice recorder, pen, notepad for interviews or other times I cant be around my computer (a vintage Dell, circa 2006), and a ravishingly handsome face.
Ive only done one column on my iPad^, and that was because my computer crashed. Ive written ledes on my phone a few times, actually, usually while away from my computer waiting for a locker room to open up postgame.
^ As it happened, it was the column off the Buffalo game last year when Babb and I essentially each said the Chiefs needed to fire Pioli. Lot of you said we were premature.
@AJExner do you realistically see anything resembling a 'playoff push' by the boys in blue? I mean 5 back with 60 to play is good right?
Well, its now seven back of the first-place Tigers and five back of the second wild card (with three teams between). We talk a lot about the teams thatve erased deficits like this to make the playoffs, but remember that these are outliers.
Like, when you hear about the 2011 Rays and you probably will, because James Shields was on that team remember that they finished 35-20 (a 103-win pace) AND needed that fried-chicken-and-beer collapse from the Red Sox.
Its not impossible, obviously. Its just highly unlikely, which is why the Royals should be more willing to make a trade than it appears.
A follow-up question, I see. Im only going to do division standings here because, well, honestly because Baseball-Reference only shows historical division standings and I doubt either wild card team comes from the American League Central.
Last year, the Rays (6 ½), Red Sox (7 ½), Indians (6), and Cardinals (7) were between six and eight games back on July 31.
The Rays finished five back, the Red Sox 26 (ouch), Cleveland 20 (yikes), and the Cardinals nine.
In 2011, the Twins (7), Braves (6) and Reds (6 ½) fit our criteria. They finished 32, 13 and 17 games back, respectively.
In 2010, youre looking at the Red Sox (7 ½), Tigers (6), Mets (6 ½), Marlins (6 ½), Rockies (7), and Dodgers (7). They finished 7, 13, 18, 17, nine and 12 games back.
You can see the pattern.
@psaprez Your advice on what to eat form the Peanut has been great with wing and the blt. Got any other sugestions for around KC? #TT
Yeah. I should, like, put an eating recommendation at the top of this post every week or something.
@SnarkyRoyalsFan how about a 3-way trade where Royals get Howie Kendrick, and a contender gets Ervin Santana and sends prospects to Angels?
Those would have to be some pretty damn good prospects.
@ClintT13 I wish I was happy about this streak but I'm used to streaks hurting the Royals (David Price) more than they help (still 7 back).
@fritzyspeaks OK, here goes. Myers trade was the worst ever. There. Are people going to do this for six years? Can we talk about the Royals?
Honestly, I dont think either will have had a massive long-term impact on KC. Leagues like to talk about economic impact of these events, and promote charity work they do in the community. The former is nearly all b.s., the latter is a nice gesture, but really, what you have when these things are over is memories.
I do think were past the point of soccer needing to gain traction in Kansas City, so Im not sure this is the start of some boon as much as its the byproduct of one that started years ago.
This probably isnt what youre going for, but if I have to pick one Id say the baseball game because it had a direct impact on David Glass decision to ramp up payroll.
Well, you have to crawl before you walk. Or something.
But, yeah. Pretty much.
@Typical_Chazz what are your music, tv & movie guilty pleasures? I see you as a Dixie Chicks, Cougar Town, & Sleepless In Seattle kinda guy. #tt
Does 90s rap count as a guilty pleasure? Because the Biggie station on Pandora gets me through a workout like no other. And I probably shouldnt admit this out loud were all friends here, right? but last night the Smokeshow put on the Bachelorette. I mean, I was doing some work while it played in the background, but dammit, this is hard to admit.
Also: Chazz apparently thinks Im a 48-year-old Johnson County housewife.
@J_Zetmeir would you throw Johnny Manziel out of your fraternity during a fun night of festivities?
I think people are getting this story all wrong.
Johnny Manziel went to a frat party at Texas, I assume, because Austin is awesome and if youre Johnny Manziel you can probably make a memory at a frat party at Texas.
Also: I think its fantastic that they kicked him out because, lets be honest here, if youre the UT bro who kicked Manziel out of your frat party youre probably not paying for drinks for a while and youre probably able to make some more memories at future frat parties.
Heres an important point. As much as wed like to pretend otherwise, baseball is not an actuary table. It is not as simple as deducing that the Royals have a 2 percent or whatever it is chance of making the playoffs, therefore they should sell pieces to improve their chances next year. There is merit in this line of thought, of course. But it is not the entire pie.
There is also value in finishing strong, of establishing a winning environment, raising expectations. The team becomes more attractive to free agents this way, and Ervin Santana will be a free agent.
Weve said all along that the best model for what the Royals are trying to do is the Twins of the 1990s and 2000s and, like I said here, they lost for six straight years before breaking through with 85 wins in year seven, then three straight division championships.
This, for the Royals, is year seven.
This is not an argument for momentum carrying over from one season to the next. I know all about Kyle Davies. This is just an acknowledgement that there is value in winning games.
@JustinWieners How many wins before Andy Reid has his own BBQ sauce and/or Boulevard craft ale?
If he goes 8-8, youll be ordering the Reid Platter at Jack Stack.
Jimmy Nielsen is the best.
@TheRealEo in the event the Royals go to the World Series, can you get me tickets? #twittertuesday
@mmMOUF were you asked to be a model in Aurelian Collin's fashion show? Ok, real question, will you be at big tailgate on Wednesday?
Tell me more.
@tbannwarth For those who cheer for all 3 KC pro teams equally what is bigger: SKC MLS Cup champs, Royals playoffs app or Chiefs playoff win?
So, Im taking you at your word here, that you mean literally cheer for all three teams equally. Obviously, there are more Chiefs fans than Royals fans, more Royals fans than Sporting fans. But if you like each team equally, Im saying a Royals playoff run would be the biggest of the three for two reasons:
1. Its been the longest. Sporting^ won the MLS Cup in 2000; the Chiefs won a playoff game after the 1993 season. The Royals last playoff game was Game 7 in 1985 and, lets be honest, they havent been particularly close since.
^ Well, the Wizards.
2. By definition, a Royals playoff appearance means a playoff race and, Im telling you, there isnt anything in sports that can captivate a city quite like a playoff race. Baseball, inherently, has so much downtime. Between innings. Between batters. Between pitches. Another foul ball into the stands. People who dont love baseball are typically the ones turned off by the down time, but in a pennant race, that downtime is the best part. Its a unique drama, really, like a three-hour climax of a really good movie. Every night.
Maybe some day.
@KrisRatzlaff At what point during the #Chiefs opener do you expect "fans" start demanding Daniels and/or Bray be put in? Signed, R. Stanzi
Thats not bad, but can we all just agree on the following paragraph?
If Tyler Bray is not the No. 3 quarterback and Ricky Stanzi is employed by the Chiefs when the season starts, something went very wrong.
@ScottyByNature Why do #Royals defend Getz for his D due to lack of O, but look to replace Lough, who had good D and some O?!
See, this I dont get. The Royals do so many things worth criticizing. Why stretch the truth? Whos looking to replace Lough? The Royals would love to replace Getz. And before you bring up Gio, he has a long way to go, in ways that go beyond his .239 batting average.
@thowell21 Coke or Pepsi? Keep in mind, your answer will indicate a lot about how you are as a person. #tt
Me and the fine folks at Coca-Cola have a long history of simpatico. I occasionally stray to Dr. Pepper 10 or Diet Mountain Dew, but for the most part, Im a loyal Coke customer. Real talk.
@BobbyCave 38 and 22 and the Royals get a wildcard berth; not completely unmanageable, right? #sellmeonthis
Well, first off I doubt 38-22 gets in the playoffs. That would make 89 wins. Last year, both wild card teams won 93, which is the Tigers current pace (and theyre trending up).
But, what the hell, lets say 38-22 gets them in. Do you know the Royals best 60 game stretch this season?
The Rays and As are the only teams in the American League to have won 38 out of 60 games this season and do you know the last time the Royals won 38 out of 60 games?
Sorry. Bad sell job by me.
@kbrynsvold How terrible is trying to find a story at training camp? #TT
Its not so bad, really. Or at least, not yet. Theres so many new guys here, new coaches, new GM, new structure, theres plenty to write about.
Its the kind of team that isnt much interesting nationally though Ive always thought people in Kansas City care FAR too much about what national media/fans think of their teams but is fascinating locally.
@ojohnson1 I just saw Bo's 5 Hour Energy ad. He didn't say Bo Knows 5 Hour Energy. Can you ask him why without stumbling over your words?
NO BUT I CAN SCREAM A LITTLE BIT HERE ABOUT HOW BO FREAKING JACKSON ONLY GOT 32.5 PERCENT OF THE VOTE FOR THE ROYALS HALL OF FAME!!!! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? BO EFFING JACKSON, THE ONLY MAN NOT NAMED GEORGE BRETT TO MAKE THE ROYALS AN EVENT??? BUT MARK GUBICZA AND GEORGE TOMA MAKE IT???? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?????
/cusses under breath/
OK, lets move on.
@ryanscotthall And now a question of etiquette - as you pass, do you give them the ass or the crotch? #TwitterTuesday
Always the ass, because thats how I want people to pass me or (especially) the Smokeshow.
As it stands right now and a lot can happen in two months no. The only way that would happen (and, technically, this would not be an extension) is if something happens in the next two months, like an injury, or bad performance, and Santanas value drops a bit. If it drops the right amount, the Royals would still make a so-called qualifying offer (one year and likely between $13 million and $14 million) and if Santana didnt find a better deal elsewhere he could accept.
This is a bit of a stretch, but I think one added benefit of trading Santana is that hes shown no indication that a trade would make him less likely to sign a free agent deal with the Royals this winter. Lets say the Royals could offer Santana three years and $45 million. It might take more, I dont know, but this is a decent ballpark. The Royals will have some money coming off this winter, with Francoeur ($7.5 million) and, presumably, Chen ($4.5 million) and Hochevar ($4.56 million). Theyre paying Santana $12 million.
So, and again, this is a stretch, if you trade Santana you save about $4 million in salary this year. Add that to your offer and youre at three years and $49 million.
At some point, well get into the wisdom of long-term contracts for free agent pitchers.
@m_dunn compare/contrast mls all star week w/ mlb all star week. what's the scene like in KC this week? #TT
I think people are excited. At least, the significant portion of Kansas City that cares about soccer. Its not what last years MLB All-Star game is, but its a good even, things to do around town, whats not to like?
Yeah, definitely looking forward to it.
About Yaels take, I just thought it was strange. Twenty thousand people go to every Sporting home game, and Im fairly certain theyre not the only ones who care about the team, but besides, are there people out there who think this is as big an event as last years MLB All-Star game? Just seemed like a bit of a strawman argument.
@gking_gnikg #tt High expectations for the Chiefs defense this year. Statistically a top ten at year's end?
That would be surprising. They were SO terrible last year, and really, their saving grace is that the offense was SO MUCH MORE terrible last year that people didnt notice as much. They gave up 7.2 yards per pass attempt, and 29 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. They gave up more than 200 yards rushing twice, and more than 130 yards rushing seven more times. Really, all these numbers wouldve been worse if they werent on the business end of so many blowouts.
I expect the defense to be improved. Dorsey improved the secondary, a glaring weakness, and new coordinator Bob Sutton is promising big changes from last years bend-until-you-give-up-a-touchdown philosophy.
But top 10? Thats a stretch, in large part because you cant be sure how much push the defensive line will get.
The best coaches fit their system around their players, not the other way around. Just gimme your best, and its my job to make it work.
@BHbravesfan29 coolest Chiefs game you've ever attended?
Two answers. The first is the opening of the "new" Arrowhead. That happened to be my first Chiefs game with this column job, and the energy in the building, the rain, the fireworks, the fumble by Rivers, the way it ended, it was just a beautiful night.
The other answer youre not going to like, but my dad somehow got some friends and I tickets for the Lin Elliott game. We were in high school at the time, and the experience of sitting in that cold and how a game like that can captivate an audience Ill never forget it.
Guys. The Royals would LOVE to trade Hochevar. Would LOVE to. They need someone to trade with, though.
@SisterSall Forming a posse to to find 'Famous Dave' and question him Tony Soprano-style for the atrocious use of the term 'BBQ'. You in? #TT