Don't Kill The Mellinger

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

Twitter Tuesday: “all due disrespect to Jacksonville,” #Royals chances, MLS All-Star Game, and frat parties

07/30/2013 2:11 PM

07/30/2013 2:11 PM

NFL players had their blood drawn for HGH testing this week. This will, and has been, hailed as a major step forward and I suppose in a technical sense that’s true. Blood has been hard to get for testing, in all sports, with unions typically fighting on grounds of privacy.

But the way the NFL is doing it, these tests will only be used to establish a baseline of typical HGH levels of NFL players – which will then be used to determine acceptable levels for future tests.

There is nothing in science or research to suggest that NFL players would have higher levels than other athletes, or the population in general. Most within the NFL believe a substantial amount of players are using HGH, so if anything this "baseline" testing will establish the current level of cheating. Don’t go over this level in the future, and players should be fine.

Or, if you want to take the more cynical view: players were essentially encouraged to load up on HGH for the baseline test to raise the "acceptable" levels for future tests.

Basically, this is a stall tactic, or worse: an enormous loophole to allow HGH use.

Look, I’m not pretending that most fans care much about HGH or other performing-enhancing drugs. I think many fans are fatigued on this issue. I am, too. But I do know the NFL is talking the "player safety" talk, and allowing players to continue to get unnaturally bigger and stronger and faster is wiping out a lot of efforts in other areas.

This week’s reading recommendation is Jeff MacGregor on

the value of being a sucker, and the eating recommendation is thin-crust sausage and onion at Waldo Pizza.

As always, thanks for the help and for reading.

@cschuster84 Who is more likely to finish the year above .500, #Chiefs or #Royals ? #TT

Got a lot of these questions. Here was my favorite form:

@ThirdReichert with both KC teams at .500 (51-51 and 0-0), which has the best chance of finishing with a winning record?

How beautiful is that? Here in Kansas City, apparently, we count 0-0 as .500. Hell, why not?

I’m not trying to be a buzzkill here, but I’d bet on both teams finishing below .500. I’d bet more on the Chiefs finishing below .500.

Because, look: they were 2-14 last year.

Two and 14! Worst team in the league, and all due disrespect to Jacksonville, I’m not sure it was too close. The Chiefs would need to improve by seven games – nearly half the schedule – for a winning record. In the last 10 years, the 10 teams to go exactly 2-14

have won an average of 5.7 games the next year.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m optimistic about the Chiefs, long-term. Andy Reid is an accomplished coach, with a skill-set that fits what they’re trying to do here.

I worry about whether he should’ve taken a year off after everything that happened in Philadelphia last year, but he’s a grown man, and if he thinks he’s ready let’s see. I know that he has a better chance without doubling as the team’s GM, like he did in Philly, and on that point John Dorsey’s schooling and track record in Green Bay earns the benefit of the doubt.

At least with the Royals, I mean, they’ve played 102 games at break-even. If they can avoid another 4-19 turd, they’ve got a decent shot.

@Typical_Chazz What's the best jersey you've ever owned? #tt

Well, I’ve never been a big jersey guy, and as an adult I live by a strict No Jersey policy. If you’re a jersey wearer, I don’t judge. I just know what’s good for me. You do you, I’ll do me.

The other problem with me and jerseys is that they’re so damn expensive, especially baseball and football. The basketball jerseys, no sleeves and all that, I feel like you could get a replica for like $20 back in the day.

So, anyway, the answer is a Chris Mullin No. 17 Warriors jersey.

Unathletic and constantly gunning three-pointers, he was a role model for me on the mean streets of Lawrence growing up. True story: I once wore that jersey and a pair of Warriors shorts I had to school every day for a week on a $50 bet.

@HeAintReally Most polls show Iowa State finishing 9th in Big 12. Are they underrated? #hashtag

Maybe. I don’t know. Somebody’s gotta be ninth. The only thing I know for absolute certain is that Kansas should be last. The only other thing I feel confident about is that K-State will be higher than sixth.

@barleymanz who are top 5 draft choices for SKC in the next MLS draft? Please provide player bios and video highlights. #TwitterTuesday

Uh, pass.

@thillsman What are your tools of the trade? What software do you use? Do you ever write on paper/phone/iPad? Old-school hat w/pass in band?

I’m a simple man. Voice recorder, pen, notepad for interviews or other times I can’t be around my computer (a vintage Dell, circa 2006), and a ravishingly handsome face.

I’ve only done one column on my iPad^, and that was because my computer crashed. I’ve written ledes on my phone a few times, actually, usually while away from my computer waiting for a locker room to open up postgame.

^ As it happened, it was the column off the Buffalo game last year when Babb and I essentially each said the Chiefs needed to fire Pioli. Lot of you said we were premature.

@AJExner do you realistically see anything resembling a 'playoff push' by the boys in blue? I mean 5 back with 60 to play is good right?

Well, it’s now seven back of the first-place Tigers and five back of the second wild card (with three teams between). We talk a lot about the teams that’ve erased deficits like this to make the playoffs, but remember that these are outliers.

Like, when you hear about the 2011 Rays – and you probably will, because James Shields was on that team – remember that they finished 35-20 (a 103-win pace) AND needed that fried-chicken-and-beer collapse from the Red Sox.

It’s not impossible, obviously. It’s just highly unlikely, which is why

the Royals should be more willing to make a trade

than it appears.

@fightwookies4 #TT The #Roys are not catching Detroit. Is that legit or are my football season reflexes confusing the signals? #BuyOrSell

A follow-up question, I see. I’m only going to do division standings here because, well, honestly because Baseball-Reference only shows historical division standings and I doubt either wild card team comes from the American League Central.

Last year, the Rays (6 ½), Red Sox (7 ½), Indians (6), and Cardinals (7) were between six and eight games back on July 31.

The Rays finished five back, the Red Sox 26 (ouch), Cleveland 20 (yikes), and the Cardinals nine.

In 2011, the Twins (7), Braves (6) and Reds (6 ½) fit our criteria. They finished 32, 13 and 17 games back, respectively.

In 2010, you’re looking at the Red Sox (7 ½), Tigers (6), Mets (6 ½), Marlins (6 ½), Rockies (7), and Dodgers (7). They finished 7, 13, 18, 17, nine and 12 games back.

You can see the pattern.

@psaprez Your advice on what to eat form the Peanut has been great with wing and the blt. Got any other sugestions for around KC? #TT

Yeah. I should, like, put an eating recommendation at the top of this post every week or something.

@SnarkyRoyalsFan how about a 3-way trade where Royals get Howie Kendrick, and a contender gets Ervin Santana and sends prospects to Angels?

Those would have to be some pretty damn good prospects.

@ClintT13 I wish I was happy about this streak but I'm used to streaks hurting the Royals (David Price) more than they help (still 7 back).

Kansas City!

@fritzyspeaks OK, here goes. Myers trade was the worst ever. There. Are people going to do this for six years? Can we talk about the Royals?

Good idea.

@erikbergrud 5-10 years from now, which will have had a greater impact on KC and its identity: 2012 #MLB or 2013 @MLS ASG?

Honestly, I don’t think either will have had a massive long-term impact on KC. Leagues like to talk about economic impact of these events, and promote charity work they do in the community. The former is nearly all b.s., the latter is a nice gesture, but really, what you have when these things are over is memories.

I do think we’re past the point of soccer needing to gain traction in Kansas City

, so I’m not sure this is the start of some boon as much as it’s the byproduct of one that started years ago.

This probably isn’t what you’re going for, but if I have to pick one I’d say the baseball game because it had a

direct impact on David Glass’ decision to ramp up payroll.

@JimmyMCarroll So, most #Royals thing ever for the team to have their best record at this pt in 10 yrs no one knows if to buy or sell? #TT

Well, you have to crawl before you walk. Or something.

But, yeah. Pretty much.

@Typical_Chazz what are your music, tv movie guilty pleasures? I see you as a Dixie Chicks, Cougar Town, Sleepless In Seattle kinda guy. #tt

Does 90s rap count as a guilty pleasure? Because the Biggie station on Pandora gets me through a workout like no other. And I probably shouldn’t admit this out loud – we’re all friends here, right? – but last night the Smokeshow put on the Bachelorette. I mean, I was doing some work while it played in the background, but dammit, this is hard to admit.

Also: Chazz apparently thinks I’m a 48-year-old Johnson County housewife.

@J_Zetmeir would you throw Johnny Manziel out of your fraternity during a fun night of festivities?

I think people are getting this story all wrong.

Johnny Manziel went to a frat party at Texas, I assume, because Austin is awesome and if you’re Johnny Manziel you can probably make a memory at a frat party at Texas.

Also: I think it’s fantastic that they kicked him out because, let’s be honest here, if you’re the UT bro who kicked Manziel out of your frat party you’re probably not paying for drinks for a while and you’re probably able to make some more memories at future frat parties.

@chicobeanbags will the #royals regret not trading Ervin Santana? #twittertuesday

Here’s an important point. As much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, baseball is not an actuary table. It is not as simple as deducing that the Royals have a 2 percent – or whatever it is – chance of making the playoffs, therefore they should sell pieces to improve their chances next year. There is merit in this line of thought, of course. But it is not the entire pie.

There is also value in finishing strong, of establishing a winning environment, raising expectations. The team becomes more attractive to free agents this way, and Ervin Santana will be a free agent.

We’ve said all along that the best model for what the Royals are trying to do is the Twins of the 1990s and 2000s and,

like I said here

, they lost for six straight years before breaking through with 85 wins in year seven, then three straight division championships.

This, for the Royals, is year seven.

This is not an argument for momentum carrying over from one season to the next. I know all about Kyle Davies. This is just an acknowledgement that there is value in winning games.

@JustinWieners How many wins before Andy Reid has his own BBQ sauce and/or Boulevard craft ale?

If he goes 8-8, you’ll be ordering the Reid Platter at Jack Stack.

@Evulm0nkey Ever have a better reaction from an athlete than this? #TwitterTuesday #mlsallstar

Jimmy Nielsen is the best.

@TheRealEo in the event the Royals go to the World Series, can you get me tickets? #twittertuesday


@mmMOUF were you asked to be a model in Aurelian Collin's fashion show? Ok, real question, will you be at big tailgate on Wednesday?

Tell me more.

@tbannwarth For those who cheer for all 3 KC pro teams equally what is bigger: SKC MLS Cup champs, Royals playoffs app or Chiefs playoff win?

So, I’m taking you at your word here, that you mean


cheer for all three teams equally. Obviously, there are more Chiefs fans than Royals fans, more Royals fans than Sporting fans. But if you like each team equally, I’m saying a Royals playoff run would be the biggest of the three for two reasons:

1. It’s been the longest. Sporting^ won the MLS Cup in 2000; the Chiefs won a playoff game after the 1993 season. The Royals’ last playoff game was Game 7 in 1985 and, let’s be honest, they haven’t been particularly close since.

^ Well, the Wizards.

2. By definition, a Royals playoff appearance means a playoff race and, I’m telling you, there isn’t anything in sports that can captivate a city quite like a playoff race. Baseball, inherently, has so much downtime. Between innings. Between batters. Between pitches. Another foul ball into the stands. People who don’t love baseball are typically the ones turned off by the down time, but in a pennant race, that downtime is the best part. It’s a unique drama, really, like a three-hour climax of a really good movie. Every night.

Maybe some day.

@KrisRatzlaff At what point during the #Chiefs opener do you expect "fans" start demanding Daniels and/or Bray be put in? Signed, R. Stanzi

That’s not bad, but can we all just agree on the following paragraph?

If Tyler Bray is not the No. 3 quarterback and Ricky Stanzi is employed by the Chiefs when the season starts, something went very wrong.

@ScottyByNature Why do #Royals defend Getz for his D due to lack of O, but look to replace Lough, who had good D and some O?!

See, this I don’t get. The Royals do so many things worth criticizing. Why stretch the truth? Who’s looking to replace Lough? The Royals would love to replace Getz. And before you bring up Gio, he has a long way to go, in ways that go beyond his .239 batting average.

@thowell21 Coke or Pepsi? Keep in mind, your answer will indicate a lot about how you are as a person. #tt

Me and the fine folks at Coca-Cola have a long history of simpatico. I occasionally stray to Dr. Pepper 10 or Diet Mountain Dew, but for the most part, I’m a loyal Coke customer. Real talk.

@BobbyCave 38 and 22 and the Royals get a wildcard berth; not completely unmanageable, right? #sellmeonthis

Well, first off I doubt 38-22 gets in the playoffs. That would make 89 wins. Last year, both wild card teams won 93, which is the Tigers’ current pace (and they’re trending up).

But, what the hell, let’s say 38-22 gets them in. Do you know the Royals’ best 60 game stretch this season?

It’s 30-30.

The Rays and A’s are the only teams in the American League to have won 38 out of 60 games this season and do you know the last time the Royals won 38 out of 60 games?

Best I can tell: 1994.

Sorry. Bad sell job by me.

@kbrynsvold How terrible is trying to find a story at training camp? #TT

It’s not so bad, really. Or at least, not yet. There’s so many new guys here, new coaches, new GM,

new structure

, there’s plenty to write about.

It’s the kind of team that isn’t much interesting nationally – though I’ve always thought people in Kansas City care FAR too much about what national media/fans think of their teams – but is fascinating locally.

@ojohnson1 I just saw Bo's 5 Hour Energy ad. He didn't say Bo Knows 5 Hour Energy. Can you ask him why without stumbling over your words?




/composes self/

/cusses under breath/

OK, let’s move on.

@ryanscotthall And now a question of etiquette - as you pass, do you give them the ass or the crotch? #TwitterTuesday

Always the ass, because that’s how I want people to pass me or (especially) the Smokeshow.

@Fawkesquez Is there any realistic hope that Ervin Santana would sign a generous one year extension with the #Royals ? #TwitterTuesday

As it stands right now – and a lot can happen in two months – no. The only way that would happen (and, technically, this would not be an extension) is if something happens in the next two months, like an injury, or bad performance, and Santana’s value drops a bit. If it drops the right amount, the Royals would still make a so-called qualifying offer (one year and likely between $13 million and $14 million) and if Santana didn’t find a better deal elsewhere he could accept.

This is a bit of a stretch, but I think one added benefit of trading Santana is that he’s shown no indication that a trade would make him less likely to sign a free agent deal with the Royals this winter. Let’s say the Royals could offer Santana three years and $45 million. It might take more, I don’t know, but this is a decent ballpark. The Royals will have some money coming off this winter, with Francoeur ($7.5 million) and, presumably, Chen ($4.5 million) and Hochevar ($4.56 million). They’re paying Santana $12 million.

So, and again, this is a stretch, if you trade Santana you save about $4 million in salary this year. Add that to your offer and you’re at three years and $49 million.

At some point, we’ll get into the wisdom of long-term contracts for free agent pitchers.

@m_dunn compare/contrast mls all star week w/ mlb all star week. what's the scene like in KC this week? #TT

I think people are excited. At least,

the significant portion of Kansas City that cares about soccer.

It’s not what last year’s MLB All-Star game is, but it’s a good even, things to do around town, what’s not to like?

@KyleR Looking forward to #MLSAllStar ? What do you think of @YaelTAbouhalkah 's story today that it's not a big deal?

Yeah, definitely looking forward to it.

About Yael’s take

, I just thought it was strange. Twenty thousand people go to every Sporting home game, and I’m fairly certain they’re not the only ones who care about the team, but besides, are there people out there who think this is as big an event as last year’s MLB All-Star game? Just seemed like a bit of a strawman argument.

@gking_gnikg #tt High expectations for the Chiefs defense this year. Statistically a top ten at year's end?

That would be surprising. They were SO terrible last year, and really, their saving grace is that the offense was SO MUCH MORE terrible last year that people didn’t notice as much. They gave up 7.2 yards per pass attempt, and 29 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. They gave up more than 200 yards rushing twice, and more than 130 yards rushing seven more times. Really, all these numbers would’ve been worse if they weren’t on the business end of so many blowouts.

I expect the defense to be improved. Dorsey improved the secondary, a glaring weakness, and new coordinator Bob Sutton is promising big changes from last year’s bend-until-you-give-up-a-touchdown philosophy.

But top 10? That’s a stretch, in large part because you can’t be sure how much push the defensive line will get.

@easz88 Which do you prefer, a relevant #TT question, or a witty one? #ForFutureReferences

The best coaches fit their system around their players, not the other way around. Just gimme your best, and it’s my job to make it work.

@BHbravesfan29 coolest Chiefs game you've ever attended?

Two answers. The first is the opening of the "new" Arrowhead. That happened to be my first Chiefs game with this column job, and the energy in the building, the rain, the fireworks, the fumble by Rivers, the way it ended, it was just a beautiful night.

The other answer you’re not going to like, but my dad somehow got some friends and I tickets for the Lin Elliott game. We were in high school at the time, and the experience of sitting in that cold and how a game like that can captivate an audience I’ll never forget it.

@prezmike25 I like to think of myself as the #WorldsOnlyHochevarFan , but even I see it's time to flip him, why don't the #Royals ?

Guys. The Royals would LOVE to trade Hochevar. Would LOVE to. They need someone to trade with, though.

@SisterSall Forming a posse to to find 'Famous Dave' and question him Tony Soprano-style for the atrocious use of the term 'BBQ'. You in? #TT

Let’s ride.


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