Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Maybe my favorite time of year, too. Its about family and food and football, no pressure, no wish-lists, just laid-back laughs and stories and fires in the fireplace. Its the absolute best.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Ill never try to follow the last sports columnists Thanksgiving tradition, but at the risk of going corny right here at the top:
There is literally not a day that goes by that Im not consciously thankful for my amazing wife, supportive family, great friends and the opportunity to do what I do for a living with all of you.
Thank you, all.
This weeks eating recommendation is whatever your friends or family are cooking on Thursday, and the reading recommendation is Joe Posnanskis Thanksgiving column, which I assume hell post here.
As always, thanks for your help and for reading.
Lot of references to The Curse Of The Shuttlecocks this week, and you can see why. Justin Houstons elbow dislocated, and the swelling was still too much for even an MRI on Monday. Tamba Hali is down to one crutch, and walking in a pool, which is great if Sundays game against the Broncos is moved to Oceans of Fun but doesnt do much good for a team that has always played without a safety net, even before losing its best two playmakers on defense.
This thing is starting to smell an awful lot like 11-5 and a first-round playoff loss, which we all wouldve called enormous progress before the season but would feel like an enormous letdown after 9-0.
@mellinger I hate Phillip Rivers.— Dusty Kunce (@KCBoyDust) November 25, 2013
I mean, sure. I get it. Hes an on-field crybaby. But Ill always appreciate him for setting up a tremendous box-out here by Andy Reid.
I dont know you, sir, or what youre working with. But there are things that Andy Reid can do with that big ol tail the rest of us can only dream.
@mellinger Does yesterday put to rest the idea that Alex Smith can't keep up in a shootout? He was great, Chargers just had the ball last.— Ed Bartel (@EdBartel) November 25, 2013
Youre right, of course. Smith was terrific, playing his best game of the season. And if the Chiefs score 38 points, they really should win 99.9 percent of the time.
But of course it doesnt put that idea to rest, and it shouldnt. Smith didnt keep up the week before, and keeping up in a shootout doesnt mean every once in a while. Matt Cassel once scored 144 points and threw 11 touchdowns with one interception in a five-game stretch for the Chiefs.
Heck, Smith has won a shootout before. In the playoffs, actually. Against Drew Brees.
Smith is a very good quarterback. Hes athletic, smart, normally very good with ball protection.
But you dont want to make a habit of needing five touchdowns from his offense.
@mellinger 1 int... 1 less cross route for 30yds...1 Woodhead tackle in bounds... then no one cares about the silly 15 seconds.— Larry McCammon (@LarryMcCammon) November 25, 2013
Right, but we can back over a bunch of plays like that. Sean Smith was about two inches from knocking down that last touchdown pass.
But any criticism about the timeout is fair, especially when Reid really doesnt have a good explanation for not running the clock down a little more. It probably wouldnt be as big deal, if not for the horrendous reputation for clock management he built in Philly.
Its not hindsight. Its reality. And everyone knew it was an important game going into it, too. Denver losing at New England means the Chiefs couldve been back to a full game ahead of the Broncos with the chance of making it two next week. Id have to double check this, but it looks like the Broncos would have the tiebreaker even if they lose at Arrowhead this weekend (I believe the tiebreaker is division record).
There is just such a fall from winning the division and having a bye and homefield throughout the playoffs, all the way down to the No. 5 seed and a road playoff game in the first round.
In some ways, the Chiefs are playing with house money if you think about how far theyve come from a year ago. But you never know how many chances you get like this. Losing them sucks.
@mellinger Cooper rebound or nah?— ChiefsInsighter (@ChiefsInsighter) November 25, 2013
I still believe in him, but offensive coordinators have clearly found a way to beat him, usually with crossing routes. Cooper is big enough with the kind of ball skills that throwing deep on him is still a bit risky, but he hasnt shown any signs of being able to slow down those crossing routes especially if the receiver criss-crosses a teammate.
But theres no question: after playing at a Pro Bowl level, hes played two rotten games in a row.
Ive said this a lot on here, but the idea that fans or fan bases should be judged by how many tickets they buy is antiquated at best, insulting at worst, and pro-ownership propaganda in the middle somewhere.
Tickets are freaking expensive, and even in the age where TV revenue FAR outpaces ticket money, the trend shows no signs of reversing or even slowing down. Thats fine if teams want to charge a lot to watch their product in person. Its a business, and good for them.
But if theyre going to push the issue on prices for tickets and food and everything else, they better damn sure make it worthwhile.
Wins and losses are largely a cyclical thing, and hard to predict. But teams can do a much better job at making the experience convenient, and adding value.
So, no. Doesnt make you a bad fan. Makes you a good consumer. Theres a lot of places to spend that money, and the games are on TV for free.
@mellinger With Houston likely out next week, do you expect inventive blitz packages from Sutton? How does KC put Peyton down sans #50?— Cranestyle43 (@cranestyle43) November 25, 2013
One thing I noticed in the Rewatch that I didnt include: looked like Sutton used Berry much more as a pass rusher after Houstons injury. Id expect that to continue, and also, perhaps, some zone coverage. Though Mannings reputation is that he treats zone coverage like the Autobahn.
The Shuttlecocks became a thing in 1993, predating what is now Sporting Kansas City by two years.
Sporting (then the Wizards) won the MLS Cup in 2000 and have had a very un-Kansas City like existence recently mutual admiration between fans and ownership, lots of success on the field, etc. so I can only assume The Curse Of The Shuttlecocks only covered teams that existed in 1993.
If Sporting loses next Saturday in heart-breaking fashion, Ill have to reconsider.
@mellinger We were really all over the shuttlecocks-horseshoe continuum this weekend, werent we? Im exhausted.— Tyler Hillsman (@thillsman) November 25, 2013
The committee has been busy, Ill tell you that. There are unconfirmed rumors of one board member celebrating Sundays game with a seafood dinner.
@mellinger gf wants to go out for sushi. I've only has sushi once, it was ok. I look to you as a food mentor how should I handle this?— Mathew Berger (@_MathewB) November 25, 2013
Youve come to the right place, Mathew. I, too, once had a girlfriend who wanted to go out for sushi and was similarly skeptical. Its not that I dont like sushi. I do. I just never really knew what to order, and always walked away from the table still hungry.
I was honest and open with my girlfriend about this, and she understood my fears. Honestly is an important part of any relationship, Mathew. Your girlfriend has to know that if you have sushi insecurities, you trust her enough to talk about it.
So my girlfriend added a roll and edamame to the order she usually got with her friend, and made sure that at least a roll or two had jalapenos and that nothing had eel.
I have to tell you, Mathew: sushi and I now have a strong relationship, and that girlfriend is now The Smokeshow.
I overcame my sushi insecurities, and I think you can too. Godspeed.
@mellinger wife's feet froze at SKCvHOU after I suggested she buy boots. Do I a)go buy her boots now or b)let her freeze again for MLS Cup?— Brandon Urban (@burban77) November 25, 2013
Lots of love advice this week. Look, Brandon. You did what you could. You suggested she buy boots, and she ignored you. If you go buy boots now, shes going to think youre rubbing it in, and that she cant take care of herself. Also, any time your wife elects NOT to buy something, especially after you suggested it, you need to take that as a win.
Maybe one night over dinner, after you see a weather forecast, tell her youre excited about going to the game with her. Mention the predicted low that night, and let her decide about the boots on her own.
I think that concludes this weeks Dear Sammy portion of Twitter Tuesday.
Ive been pretty lucky in the acts Ive been able to see. The Black Keys are the best, and I would rather see them once than any other three shows, I think. But I saw Kanye and Jay-Z a year or two ago, Buddy Guy (he was so awesome), the Rolling Stones back in the day, and some other great shows.
Im going to pretend you didnt mention Miley Cyrus.
Outkast is a miss and, not to sound like a huge hipster, but I really love Patrick Sweany and have missed him every time hes been through Kansas City. I guess Id love to see a big-time act like the Grateful Dead, but thats more of a name thing than any real personal desire.
If you could convince him to only do the hits, and nothing thats been written in the last 10 years, Id pay top dollar to see Snoop and hear the soundtrack of my youth. He played the Crossroads a few years ago, and I was set to go with the Smokeshow and some friends, but ended up having to do Big 12 media days in Dallas.
My a-hole friends kept calling and sending pictures.
Not at all. Ive been saying that for years, and I think we all know the basic rules of engagement here.
There are a portion of sports fans who hate soccer and will never give the sport a fair chance, even if the local team is winning and playing in a gorgeous stadium with an electric atmosphere. A lot of these fans just LOVE to tell you how much they hate soccer.
And there are a portion of soccer fans who want to act like their sport is some complicated flower that only the enlightened can appreciate, and everyone else is scum and should be mocked. A lot of these fans just LOVE to tell you that soccer is the worlds game, and if you dont like it you probably never wear shoes and dont have a job.
The world would be a better place if both sides had a little more understanding or, if I can humbly suggest, would adhere to this unsolicited advice I posted a few months back.
@mellinger I was told in the Arrowhead lot "Yeah you Kansas people love that soccer s*** don't you..." It's a hard life for the MLS.— Lord Duke (@the_gingefactor) November 25, 2013
Its a struggle, my man.
But your team is playing for a belt next weekend.
Lot of Pinkel statue questions this week, interestingly, and the answer is obviously
@mellinger 2 part question. Where do we put the statue of Gary Pinkel, and is he wearing the visor?— Dane (@fightwookies4) November 25, 2013
yes to the visor.
Ill be there. Cant wait, even if the image of Connor Shaw ripping apart Mizzous defense makes the prospect of facing Manziel a bit nasty.
@mellinger how will MIZZOU heartbreakingly lose this weekends game? Safety in North end zone, or Manziel last minute drive?— Brandon Davis (@bmd473) November 25, 2013
Mizzou fans expect a monster around every corner because, so far, well, you know the line.
At the risk of sounding like the visored one, the most impressive quality of this team is toughness. Theyve had a lot of chances to fold, or take the easy way out. The loss to South Carolina was just a stiff kick in the man parts. But they bounce back, no matter the quarterback, and are in position for what could be the most successful season in at least a generation.
@mellinger Bruce Weber. Too early to say or he is who we thought he was?— Scott Cooper (@SAC_74) November 25, 2013
Not too early to say it, but too early to know it.
@mellinger Do you like the signing of Vargas? Where in the rotation do you see him?— Matthew Ciolek (@maciolek1s) November 25, 2013
In a word, I am nonplussed.
In a column, I am this.
Hes essentially a placeholder. Hes space-filler. Hes a no-frills-no-thrills kind of lefty that puts more pressure and emphasis on someone out of the high ceiling group of Ventura, Zimmer and Duffy to be great.
There is some logic behind the move, but the Royals shouldve done better.
Well, I gotta tell you: if the Royals really cut George Kottaras over less than a million dollars, and if that is a true sign of where they are on payroll, then we need to have a whole nother conversation.
Because thats absurd.
Im willing to wait on this and see if the Royals are willing to spend a little bit, but lets just say my Glass Alert is on code orange.
Im telling you the same names youve probably heard other places: Curtis Granderson and (especially if they traded Billy Butler) Carlos Beltran.
I think theyd freak the hell out, mostly because Royals fans freak the hell out a lot.
The one major uniform change that would be such a no-brainer and so incredibly well received that I cant imagine them doing it is to go back to the all-powder blues. The retro look is good, and it would remind people of when the Royals always won.
But Royals fans can be fairly averse to change. Remember 10 or 15 years ago when they couldve gone to the National League? Its easy to forget this now, or be swayed by revisionist history, but the prevailing feeling around town was against the change, that Kansas City was an American League town and thats how it should remain.
Wouldve been a good move.
@mellinger Will Vargas get to ride in the first or second convertible during our World Series parade next year?— T.J. Huettenmueller (@Thuettenmueller) November 25, 2013
By the end of the season, if the Royals are going to be good and keep The Process alive, some of those other pitchers need to develop enough for Vargas to be in the No. 4 or even No. 5 convertible.