Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Frank Haith’s departure is a reminder of a stupid NCAA rule

So Frank Haith is leaving Missouri for Tulsa, which makes perfect sense if he is either a) an oil tycoon, or b) a basketball coach entering a hot-seat season without much confidence.

The headline, like the good-looking man wrote here, is that Haith is doing Missouri a significant favor — but only if athletics director Mike Alden makes a better hire this time.

There are a lot of other ways we can go with the Haith news, but I keep coming back to the kids who signed what are effectively one-sided contracts to play basketball for Haith at Mizzou. This not only includes players like Johnathan Williams III, Wes Clark and Ryan Rosburg who are on the roster, but specifically four-star recruits Jakeenan Gant and Namon Wright. Juco All-American Kevin Punter held a ceremonial signing this week, but never sent the official letter to MU, meaning he can (and will) reopen his recruiting.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 7 hours ago

About Mike Moustakas’ big night, and what’s next

Mike Moustakas, who sits on the board of directors of Royals fans’ disgust, won it for Kansas City last night. He hit a changeup that caught too much of the plate into the right-field seats.

Almost immediately, the minds of those in and around the team go to what’s next. Moustakas’ season numbers are still fairly terrible — .119, .213 on-base and .238 slugging percentages in 47 plate appearances. There is a natural inclination to wonder if this is the moment that gets him going, so to speak, that flushes his mind with confidence and sets him on a path to fulfill all that promise we’ve been hearing about.

Normally, this is all nonsense. Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, and so forth. Last night’s home run will feel awfully different if Moustakas goes 0-for-4 with two strikeouts tonight.

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By SAM MELLINGER. yesterday

NCAA progress, one extra meal at a time

Bless his heart, Shabazz Napier’s bizarre claim that he goes to bed "starving" actually led to a small show of progress from the NCAA. If nothing else, this is a shining neon symbol about just how little leverage and credibility the NCAA has because, let’s be honest, Shabazz Napier is not going to bed starving.

Schools provide or pay for three meals a day, and there are snacks and light meals all over the place for the hungry moments in between. I know these are college kids, and not just that but college kids working out every day, but there is just no way that Napier is going to bed starving.

Whatever, progress is progress, so the NCAA will now allow schools to provide more food for athletes, and include walk-ons on the allowances.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 2 days ago

Twitter Tuesday: trading Eric Berry, overreacting to the Royals, dismissing DGB, Andy Reid hot dog race

There’s been more than enough of the other end, including here, so let’s flip the script and talk about the five most encouraging parts of this very young Royals season.

I mean, this past weekend aside, it isn’t all bad. Honest.

5. Alcides Escobar’s defense. The numbers don’t back me up on this, so I’m probably wrong, but I thought Escobar took a small step back defensively last year. Still good, but not great like he had been, or like he needs to be with his light bat. But so far this season, he’s been fantastic. The juggling catch in shallow left field, the plays in the hole, the strong arm from short. He really has saved some runs.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 3 days ago

Replacing Joel Embiid, KU’s point guard problem, and Frank Haith’s problems

You saw where Joel Embiid will enter the NBA draft, which really wasn’t a tough decision, and often this is where a college program can spin its wheels a bit. It’s easy when you sign Andrew Wiggins, and everybody knows going in that he’s gone after a year. It’s harder when you sign Embiid, think he’ll be there two or three, but then the kid takes off so quick it’s only one.

Except with Kansas and especially Kansas with Self, things usually seem to work out just fine, and, hey, the No. 6 recruit in the country is a 7-footer who may or may not have been waiting out Embiid’s decision. The names change, but the story doesn’t.

If Myles Turner joins No. 2 recruit Cliff Alexander, the Jayhawks will be loaded with talent again. Wayne Selden will be better, Brannen Greene is better than a lot of people realize (at least on offense), and Perry Ellis will be back for his junior year.

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By SAM MELLINGER. April 10

The five biggest problems with the Royals offense

This Royals team is seven games old now, still a baby, so small-sample-size disclaimers apply but reasonable minds can agree that the biggest problem (by far) has been the offense. The Royals are last in runs (20), and last in runs per game (2.86), slightly worse than the awful Astros (2.88).

Two interesting points before we get started: this may be a statistical anomaly, but the Royals have been in 3-0 counts more often than any team in the American League. Once they get there, though, they’re hitless (0-for-7 with 12 walks). As a team, they’re cutting down on strikeouts and increasing their walks, but the power isn’t there. At all.

Also, the Royals have been rotten with runners in scoring position — .230/.347/.279. If you’re like me and believe this to be largely a form of luck, that should improve.

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By SAM MELLINGER. April 9

Twitter Tuesday: Infante’s jaw, Moustakas’ struggles, Chiefs’ offseason, Wiggins vs. Oubre, and pancakes

You look for certain signals when you see pain happen, so if you weren’t close enough to see or hear the excruciating sound of a baseball at 89 mph crushing a man’s jaw your stomach still dropped when the home plate umpire immediately signaled for medical help after Omar Infante went down.

Royals manager Ned Yost said he started sweating, even on a cool night. Billy Butler, who had the second at bat after Infante, said he was out of it mentally when he got in the batters box.

"It sounded like…" he said, his words drifting. "I don’t know. It sounds like bones are breaking."

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By SAM MELLINGER. April 8

A coach (sort of) volunteers a paycut, which should tell you a lot about college sports

The coach was saying that college athletes in the sports and programs that produce revenue should receive more than a scholarship.

He swore he believed this, that as many opportunities are given to scholarship athletes — exposure, no debt, tutors — an industry with enough money to pay coaches millions while the talent is prohibited from getting much more than room and board just didn’t feel right.

I figured I’d test him.

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By SAM MELLINGER. April 7

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About the Blog

I've been at the Star since 2000, first covering local high schools, then major league baseball and now the columns since 2010. Kansas City is home to me -- my wife and our crazy dog, too -- and hopefully that helps. I've covered everything from the Super Bowl and Olympics to high school swimming and dirt track racing, always trying to tell the best stories with the best insight. This corner of the internet will be a mix of analysis, serious conversation, nonsense and behind-the-curtain scenes on the best days. Hopefully we can keep it fun and interesting. Thanks for reading.

Contact Sam

Email: smellinger@kcstar.com
Phone: 816-234-4365
Twitter: @mellinger

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