Don't Kill the Mellinger

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

The Chiefs released their schedule, so DKTM released their results

I mentioned this the other day, but I’m old enough to remember a time when the NFL would not announce when it would announce its schedule, because that would’ve been ridiculous.

I’m also old enough to remember a time when the NFL announcing the schedule it would play after a summer that hasn’t even started yet would not have been the biggest news of the day because major league baseball is actually playing real games that count and also because THE NFL SEASON IS STILL MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS AWAY YOU ANIMALS!!!

One other thing about the schedule: we have no idea what it means, and insta-reactions about how tough a schedule is mean exactly as much as the sum of diddly and squat.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 15 hours ago

Billy Butler is a very good hitter, whether people acknowledge it or not

I guess I should be used to this by now, but Sunday’s column was about the worst (first?) slump of Billy Butler’s life which means most of the emails and voicemails have been about how Butler stinks and should be, at best, a pinch hitter in the National League.

A significant — or at least significantly loud — segment of Royals fans refuses to acknowledge that Butler has established himself as one of the game’s better hitters. That doesn’t make it any less true, but just for fun some numbers:

Since 2009, Butler’s first full season, he ranks 13th in adjusted OPS among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. Lower the cutoff to 2,500 plate appearances and he’s 25th. That’s behind sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre, and ahead of guys like Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Mark Teixeira.

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By SAM MELLINGER. 3 days ago

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. 6 days 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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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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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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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

Phone: 816-234-4365
Twitter: @mellinger


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