DON'T KILL THE MELLINGER

Twitter Tuesday: Pinkel on KU, Chiefs looking good, Royals are Royals-coastering

Updated: 2013-09-11T04:09:21Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

Gary Pinkel is on his Kansas City media tour today. He came to the Star before meeting with a booster club for lunch, and I assume there are radio and television stops as well.

So you will probably hear this quote a few times, if you haven’t already, but it made me so happy to hear it from him after pushing the idea of resuming the Border War rivalry at Arrowhead Stadium:

“How long are we going to stay mad at each other?”

Exactly.

Now, Gary is smart enough to know there are other reasons Mizzou and Kansas won’t play football. Besides the silly posturing and politics about Mizzou’s move to the SEC — get over it, everyone — MU has only four non-conference games to schedule each year, and Kansas has just three.

KU, especially, needs those games as easy as possible and, regardless of the sore feelings with Mizzou, isn’t doing itself any good by scheduling a strong opponent like that.

But I appreciate what Pinkel said all the same. Just wish we could focus on getting the rivalry back in basketball. That’s where it makes sense for both schools.

This week’s eating recommendation is the pakora wrap at Chai Shai, and the reading recommendation is the Sports Illustrated story on violations at Oklahoma State. Have to be honest, I haven’t had time to read it yet. But it’s going to be essential in being fully conversant in sports this week, no matter what you think of the details.

Anyway, let’s get to it. As always, thanks for reading and for your help.

Skip to 5:40 …

Absolutely ridiculous, and justifiably a great example that soccer haters will use to continue soccer hating. No other sport would stand for this. If there was common sense involved, the ref would be suspended one game, the flopper about three, and FIFA would use clear and embarrassing video evidence like this to correct clear and embarrassing mistakes.

Only problem I can see with this idea is that it makes too much sense.

This isn’t good for anyone. It’s unfair to the US and Besler, obviously, but it’s a horrible look for soccer, an enormous fail by the ref and, I’d argue, not even good for Costa Rica because now they’re owed one.

I guess Mexico’s the winner, for playing the match where Besler will be suspended. But, my gosh. What a joke.

Well, I guess you can always find a positive.

Now that I think about it, I was always curious what would have to happen for me not to lead a football season Twitter Tuesday with football. I always assumed it would be the Royals in a playoff chase or — heaven forbid — the playoffs, but I guess the answer turned out to be “hometown player egregiously screwed by a weak flop and awful referee.”

But, to answer your question, if we’re talking about a team, it’s obviously the Chiefs. Season openers are always important, but considering where they’ve been and what they’ve been through, a dominant win like that is an incredibly positive sign. And, yes. We’re all adults so we all understand that the Jags are the equivalent of a college football paycheck game. We’ll know more after Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. But all the Chiefs can do is play the teams on their schedule.

If we’re talking about an individual, it’s either Justin Houston or Dontari Poe. I haven’t been alone in thinking those two are in for monster years, but it’s another thing to see it in a real NFL game.

But, man, very high honorable mention for DKTM Man of the Weekend goes to Markus Golden because whoa:

He just looks more athletic, stronger, quicker. The narrative has been about giving up barbecue, but it’s more than that. His body is in much better shape, but I also think he’s benefitting from what football people have always said happens to players in their second year — particularly defensive linemen.

Poe is a genetic freak, even by NFL standards, and as much as guys like that talk about being students of the game and concentrating on technique and blah-blah-blah, they really have to struggle before that stuff becomes real.

And Poe did struggle last year, at least at the beginning, because — at least in my amateur eye — he was relying on the same natural ability that got him that far. As the season went on, I think he concentrated more on where his hands are, who has the leverage advantage, and reading plays instead of just pushing forward.

Add in an entire offseason of that, plus a better body, and, yeah. I think you have a Pro Bowl nose tackle.

Nashville for music, Memphis for barbecue, right? Yeah, I’ll be there. As it happens, the day before the Chiefs play in Nashville, Mizzou plays at Vanderbilt, so I’m gonna try to make it a doubleheader.

Curious how many Mizzou/Chiefs fans are doing the same. Won’t be too many opportunities to do this for a local football fan.

Sorry, man. I’ve never been able to get into fiction. I don’t know if I just can’t take off the journalist hat or what. I just, every time I read a piece of fiction, I’m usually struck by the (high) quality of writing but at some point just sort of think, “Eh, it’s all made up.”

I know that’s a me-problem, but, I mean, I can’t read something like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and think fiction can be better than the best non-fiction.

The look on his face reminded me of Jesse in Breaking Bad.

And, well, you’re not far off. Every time I’ve done TV, well, let’s just say there are reasons I don’t do it regularly.

And only one of them is my ridiculous haircut.

Eh, I have minor quibble here. I mean, they can’t just lose out. But they’re on pace for 84 or 85 wins, and if they get there then Dayton Inc. can justifiably claim progress. I’ve written many times that what they’re building from, market size, a thousand factors … one of the best models is what Terry Ryan did with the Twins. And they lost for six straight years, broke through with 85 wins (and second place) in year seven, and then won three straight division titles after that.

If the Royals get to 84 or 85, sure, they’re on pace. Still some work to do, still some figuring out what happened to Mike Moustakas the first half or so of the season, if Alcides Escobar is broken at the plate, if someone can convince Sal Perez to wear the more protective catchers helmet, who’s going to play right field, if Danny Duffy can continue to progress, and what they hell to do with Ervin Santana (or the void he creates).

But, yeah. Progress.

Oh, my. Yes. I’m hearing it’ll be the biggest crowd in five years, or at least since the playoff game.

A lot of that is, sadly, that they’re playing the Cowboys and there are a whole mess of people who stumbled their way into Cowboy fandom. But I do think there’s a better feeling around town now than we’ve had in years, at least since the division title, maybe longer. These things are so hard to quantify.

Random, but I wanted to mention it and wasn’t sure where else to do it: six smoke-writer airplanes are apparently going to paint the sky over downtown red on Friday morning.

I have a bad memory. Has that ever happened before?

My guess on how much credit will he get: a little.

How much credit should he get: a lot.

There is plenty to criticize Pioli on, obviously. No need to rehash all of it here. But just like Carl Peterson deserved SOME credit for that division title because he drafted the nucleus of the team, Pioli deserves credit for Houston and Poe.

Particularly Poe, I’d say, because drafting Houston in the third round was pretty safe. That’s a first-round talent with upside that you’re getting in the third round because too many in the NFL freaked out over what was reported to be a failed marijuana test.

Here are the successes Scott had that continue to serve the Chiefs today, at least off the top of my head:

- club-friendly long-term contracts for Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson and Jamaal Charles.

- drafting Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe.

- leaving a crap-ton of cap space.

- pissing off the fan base so much that whoever was hired in his stead would be treated like kings.

First, let’s be clear about something: that was an oh-look-what-bounced-into-my-hands interception. This isn’t a criticism of Carr, who is a terrific player, but that was just a lucky bounce after an awful throw by Eli Manning that the announcers curiously blamed on the running back.

But, yeah. I imagine Carr is very excited to play his old team, though I’d bet he’d have a little more emotion if the front office that let him go was still in charge.

I’m not sure how to answer this one. I don’t think anyone is forgetting. It would be impossible to watch that game and not see how craptastic the Jaguars are, but, also, what do you want? Can’t penalize the Chiefs for playing the team on their schedule.

Good teams beat the tar out of bad teams, and the Chiefs beat the tar out of a bad team.

I’m not ready to say the Chiefs are good. I still think 7-9.

But who are these people who are getting carried away? I mean, find me these people. I demand names. You can’t just be throwing around accusations …

… Oh …

… well, OK, maybe few people …

… whoa.

Let’s just move on.

That’s a fact. And, really. They haven’t been close. The Royals’ seven playoff appearances are bunched between 1976 and 1985, a time when the Chiefs were busy watching their good players get old and then a bunch of scrubs lose a lot of games.

The closest the Chiefs and Royals have come to making the playoffs in the same year, depending on how you want to look at it:

- Royals won the World Series in 1985, Chiefs won a wild card in 1986.

- Royals made the playoffs in 1981, Chiefs then went 9-7.

- Royals were coming hard at a playoff spot when the 1994 season shut down for the strike; Chiefs made the playoffs that year.

- Royals had The Great Fluke of 2003, same year the Chiefs went 13-3 and didn’t bother to make the Colts punt in the playoff game.

This is really gross, so no GIF, just this gross picture that I’ll link here.

I can’t improve upon this. Well done.

Cleveland is above Kansas City in the standings, and had fewer than 10,000 people there.

But besides that, I’ll always say this: the burden of proof is on the team. They have two decades of suck to overcome. Two months of good baseball can’t erase that, so I’m never going to criticize people in Kansas City for not showing up unless they don’t sellout a playoff game.

He has two more years on his contract after this one, plus a player option. I guess you could start to talk about another extension, but really, baseball protocol is that you’d wait at least until next offseason.

That’s a crime. Ervin Santana quotes Churchill …

… while I provide insight like this:

Give Erv a follow, is what I’m saying.

People just need to stop taking that nickname literally. James Shields is a very good pitcher, the ace of the staff, a leader on playoff teams in Tampa, yada-yada-yada.

But, guys. He got the nickname from a minor league teammate because he’s a Lakers fan, and James Worthy’s nickname was Big Game James.

It’s not literal, and was never meant to be. Stop pretending otherwise.

Kansas City!

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