Don't Kill The Mellinger

Twitter Tuesday: The lessons of the Seahawks, Royals hope, Chiefs future, Super Bowl in New York

Updated: 2014-02-04T18:06:29Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

— Look, if it was up to me, the Super Bowl would just alternate between San Diego and New Orleans. Give one the odd years, the other the evens, and call it a party.

But after The Most Important Sporting Event Ever came for the first time to The Most Important City Ever, it’s worth pointing out that all the whining and doomsday fears went mostly unfulfilled, leaving level-headed folk to recognize that as long as the Super Bowl is moved around from site to site, New York ( and, sure, New Jersey too) makes for a fantastic host.

Of course, not everything was smooth. Secaucus Junction was a nightmare before the game. The parking lot was a hot mess, especially immediately after the game.

But if you left for the game early enough, and stayed a while after, the logistic inconveniences seemed to be manageable, especially by NFL standards, and ESPECIALLY by the standards of what should be expected in a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl.

This is about more than the weather holding up. The other day, Clark Hunt mentioned that the relatively good weather during Super Bowl week here would make another cold-weather, open-air host more plausible and I understand the human nature element to that.

But even if we ignore that the Super Bowl was played in an ice storm three years ago in Dallas, or that Atlanta — which has hosted the game before — was basically shut down last week with an ice storm, New York still showed its advantages.

And other than the Pro Football Writers Association of America claiming a resounding victory over the Baseball Writers Association of America as the most out of touch and self-important fraternity of sports writing, this will be my most lasting takeaway from a week here.

There is a part of the football world — and the NFL specifically — that prefers the way most host cities essentially shut down for all non-Super Bowl related business for about 10 days around the game but what’s wrong with America’s greatest sports event co-existing with one of America’s greatest cities?

The Super Bowl came to New York, and New York didn’t exactly yawn but it did make the Super Bowl wait in the lobby like everybody else. Most cities spend years improving itself with infrastructure or cosmetics or both. New York was more like the guy who tucks his shirt in for a date, but won’t bother with a necktie.

There was still all the Super Bowl, NFL-as-cash-cow things to do. They had a big ol’ slide in Times Square, part of what they call Super Bowl Boulevard. Players were in to sign autographs. Plenty of people were around to sell you an overpriced hat or seat cushion. All of the interactive stuff they have at every Super Bowl was here, it’s just that there was also, um, New York around it. Go to a museum. See a show. Go check out Central Park. Have a great meal.

No city can match the strip-mall setup of Indianapolis, but no city can match the energy and diversity and options in New York. The NFL may decide not to take another risk at the mindless gas-bagging that would follow a snowy Super Bowl, instead opting for more places like Indy and New Orleans and Phoenix that will shape themselves around the game.

But if the game comes back to New York, hopefully there will be less whining about it next time.

This week’s eating recommendation is the pad thai at, um, Pad Thai. The reading recommendation is Michael Rosenberg’s heart-breaking story about a former NFL player’s fight for health benefits.

As always, thanks for your help and for reading.

Also: 49ers over the Colts in next year’s Super Bowl.

Been seeing a lot of this, and I really like Pete Carroll, but it still makes me giggle.

Things change in the NFL incredibly fast, but there may be something to this. The two best teams in the league are probably the Seahawks and 49ers, and each have deep and young rosters that should have some staying power. Carolina may be on the rise, with a young and star quarterback. The Packers will always be a contender as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy and strong. It’ll be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and Nick Foles are sustainable.

The Broncos are a great team, but how much longer can Peyton Manning play at this level? Tom Brady will turn 37 before the start of next season.

It all sets up like this, but remember that the time period you refer to was before NFL structure changes that really emphasized parity. Guys usually want to get paid after winning the Super Bowl. The Seahawks will be insulated from that a bit since Wilson is still on his ridiculously low rookie contract, and so many other guys were low picks or undrafted. But the bill will come soon enough, and it’s unrealistic to expect a lot of guys to take significantly less money to stay together.

Things change so quickly now that I’m not sure any team or even conference can hold power like the old days.

You want to make the Super Bowl, and I don’t understand this argument. By extension, would it be better to just go 2-14 and become a civic embarrassment in the regular season?

Is your friend 110 years old? I hate this type of thinking. Sports are supposed to be fun, they are supposed to be emotional. I missed the part where Richard Sherman was arrested or Kam Chancellor beat his wife or Earl Thomas took his talent for granted and got lazy which, if we’re being honest and not debate show-y, is the real way a player or team can "disrespect the game."

The Seahawks play with an edge. That’s part of their deal, and it’s just unrealistic to draw some line between how they play and how they act. I know I tend to link to old columns here, but this is what I was talking about with Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch. Football is a crazy game, and I don’t judge any of these guys for how they prepare themselves to do it, within reason.

I suppose we all have different definitions of "within reason," but mine sure includes a little trash talk. Especially when it’s backed up.

I mean, I can’t even. Does your company drug test?

Yeah. Draft a star quarterback in the third round, a star safety in the fifth round, the best cornerback in football in the fifth round, the Super Bowl MVP in the seventh round, and find a stud defensive end on the scrap heap.

Like most things, the answer isn’t as simple as we’d probably like but I think it’s more about personnel than scheme. The Chiefs have good players, but somehow, with a gazillion Pro Bowlers and many fans being unimpressed with a nine-game improvement this season, their talent level has been largely overrated.

Specifically, they just don’t have the cornerbacks to pull of what the Seahawks do. Or the defensive line push from anyone but Dontari Poe.

To be fair, nobody else does either. But if you watch the Seahawks, they basically do what the Chiefs hoped they could do but weren’t good enough to pull off.

I guess, but speed works on offense, too. This is part of what I tried to get into with the column, but the tendency to look at football through the prism of what happens to star quarterbacks is clouding the fact that the Seahawks have a historically good defense, particularly when you account for the ball-is-juiced scoring environment of today’s NFL^.

^ You probably know that this was the highest scoring season in NFL history, both in terms of total points and average points per game. More touchdowns were scored this season than any in league history, breaking the record set way back in 2012.

I assume you’re talking about the 9-11 truther who interrupted Malcolm Smith?

I don’t worry about those types of things. Maybe I should. My thought has just always been that there are a thousand situations every day that could go the wrong way, and I don’t have the time or stomach to worry about all of them.

The Chiefs aren’t that far off, which is what I wrote here. The trick, though, is that the NFL is structured in a way that means a lot of teams aren’t that far off. So the ceiling is the Super Bowl, but that’s a very different thing that saying they should or will play in the Super Bowl.

Derrick Johnson will be 32 in November and probably just played the best season of his career, but how many more does he have like that? Tamba Hali (31 in November) is still very good, but probably with his best days in the past. Brandon Flowers wasn’t very good this year, Pro Bowl or not, though I think he was playing hurt. Jamaal Charles is at the top of his game, but running backs don’t last long. Dwayne Bowe had a disappointing season.

The Chiefs do have some rising stars, most notably Dontari Poe and Justin Houston. But to win with the current group, you’re unrealistic to think it wouldn’t have to be 2014 or 2015 at the latest.

Almost Famous, Capote, and The Big Lebowski, in that order, even as I know a lot of you will think that’s an insult to Lebowski.

I’m a man of many faces.

Whoa.

I believe in Hosmer, and not just because he’s made a play right for my heart by being a spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was absolutely terrific for the last half of last season, but even if we take the most flattering part of his season — June 6 on — and extrapolate it over 150 games played here are the numbers:

.322 batting average, .372 on-base and .505 slugging percentages with 37 doubles, 22 homers and 89 RBIs.

That’s not an MVP season.

Now, two other points.

First, Hosmer is wildly talented and 25 years old. It is logical to expect him to have the best year of his career. He should be at that point now, and he’s talented enough to be one of the American League’s best hitters.

And second, if the Royals are going to make good on eight years of Processing they are going to need someone to have a monster season and, in order, the most likely candidates are Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Sal Perez.

They’re also going to need one or two of three talented-but-unproven pitchers — Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer — to jump up.

I don’t know why teams do slogans. Just win games, and you don’t need any of this stuff. If anything, slogans that come out of a marketing department are a no-win thing for a club. If the team wins, chances are there’s something organic (like James Shields’ weird neon-deer-butt-thing would’ve been if the Royals made a playoff run last year) that will take the place of a manufactured and officially approved slogan. And if the team loses, the slogan just becomes material for Our Time jokes.

But for me, I think of slogans mostly the same way I think of uniforms, which means I think of them as just one more thing for people to talk about.

There’s no question that money had something to do with it, but it’s not entirely that simple. Once the Royals signed Omar Infante, Bonifacio became expendable, and you could hear that if you listened to some of the code words from the Royals. They have a lot of outfielders, and Danny Valencia as Moustakas insurance. I’m a little concerned about the middle infield depth, but the Royals are high on Pedro Ciriaco.

If Bonifacio was set to make the league minimum instead of $3.5 million, he’d be on the roster. I think they should have (and could have) kept him, but it’s not my money and in the grand scheme, even with this (and the weird George Kottaras decision) the Royals had a very good offseason.

Well, you should know that half of a naming rights deal isn’t going to do much. The Rangers, who are better than the Royals and play in a much bigger market, get $2.5 million a year on their deal. The Diamondbacks get $2.2 million. The Brewers get $2.1 million.

Also, I sometimes think of the naming rights thing when people pound the expired narrative about David Glass still being the greedy and generally clueless owner he was before 2006.

But, to answer your question, I don’t think I’d be bothered by a naming rights deal. Not as much as most people, at least. Ewing Kauffman never wanted his name on the stadium, anyway. And he was business man, there’s a good case to be made that he’d approve of it, actually.

I doubt it. It’s possible, but the rotation is filling up. I haven’t talked to anyone in depth about this, but if he blows people away in spring training, sure, it’s possible. As it stands, James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas are locks. The Royals have said Bruce Chen will begin the season in the rotation, and there’s no reason to think Danny Duffy won’t be there, too^.

^ I know Ned Yost said something the other day about it not being the worst thing if Duffy begins the season in the bullpen.

That’s your five, unless there’s an injury, and then at some point I’d expect Ventura to join the rotation and push Chen into the bullpen.

It’s been a while, but I’m expecting that to change very soon. Gotta see what these guys are all about in person.

Little known fact: I won the last beer pong tournament I entered.

I like it, but it’s the ultimate one-and-done beer for me and on the list of Smokestacks, I’m not sure it cracks my top five:

Saison Brett.

Tank 7.

Imperial Stout.

Grainstorm.

Rye on Rye.

Not a bad list, for a foreign company.

Too soon?

I’m optimistic.

But you’ll want to eat right and exercise.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to smellinger@kcstar.com or follow him at Twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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