Don't Kill The Mellinger

October 1, 2013

Twitter Tuesday: Chiefs rankings (and flaws), Royals priorities, playoff predictions

You might’ve heard that the Chiefs won again, still undefeated, and a lot of this week has been and will be about people trying to figure out how good they really are. Also, this was the 10th most wins for any team in Royals history, and the most for any team without George Brett or Frank White on it.

Don't Kill the Mellinger

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

Didn’t realize this until reading Blair’s post at Ball Star: this was the 10th most wins for any team in Royals history, and the most for any team without George Brett or Frank White on it. And to hear some of you tell it, they’d have won like 117 without Ned Yost. This is nonsense of course. Click here if you want a more reasoned look. You also might’ve heard that the Chiefs won again, still undefeated, and a lot of this week has been and will be about people trying to figure out how good they really are. For whatever it’s worth, the Chiefs are - 10th in points scored, 16th in yards gained; second in points allowed, ninth in yards given up. - eighth in Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System. - 11th in Football Outsiders’ DAVE calculations. - 21st in offense, first in defense, and second in special teams according to Pro Football Focus’ numbers^. - 4th in Peter King’s rankings. - No. 1 in the hearts of these gentlemen. This guy, too (apologies in advance). - Presumably No. 32 in the hearts of these gentlemen. ^ For what it’s worth, these are the numbers that most seem to match what I see on the field. This week’s eating recommendation are the tacos at Bichelmeyer Meats (only on Saturdays), and the reading recommendation is this piece on whether emotional intelligence can be taught. I know, it’s not sports. Sue me. Let’s get to it. As always, thanks for your help and for reading. Wait. Really? I’m waiting to hear back, but their general policy is to hold off until the team beats someone good. Considering that it’s on the road, and the Titans are 3-1 — their best win is at home against the Chargers; their loss was at the Texans in overtime — this is a much tougher game than any of us expected before the season. Jake Locker was really playing well (62.2 percent passing, six touchdowns, no interceptions) so his hip injury changes them, and I know Fitzpatrick has carved the Chiefs the last two years, but, c’mon. This is a break for the Chiefs. So the parade committee is going to watch this weekend’s game carefully, with the idea of a conference call after the Texans game in three weeks and a possible weekend retreat after the game in Denver on Nov. 17. But, seriously. Nobody’s looking that far ahead oh. After the last few years, I’d have figured you guys would want to savor every bit of this 4-0, and would be petitioning to play the Jaguars every week just because. But, if you believe in these things at all: the Chiefs beat the Giants by 24 (at home) and the Broncos beat the Giants by 18 (on the road); the Chiefs beat the Eagles by 10 (on the road) and the Broncos beat the Eagles by 32 (at home). And keep in mind, the Broncos are doing this without Champ Bailey and Von Miller. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think this is: as fans we spend so much time watching an analyzing our team that it’s easy to forget sometimes that the other team is flawed, too. I won’t use his name here, because it’s always been in casual conversation, but there’s someone I respect who’s been around the NFL for years and he often says, "Never underestimate how (crappy) the other team is." The Chiefs have flaws. The offensive line isn’t getting as much of a push for the running game. Dwayne Bowe hasn’t had a great game yet. The offense hasn’t put together a lot of long touchdown drives. Their opponents are a combined 3-13. But you know what? They’re 4-0 because the defense has been terrific, the special teams mostly good^, and the offense hasn’t needed to do a whole lot besides protect a lead. ^ Punt blocking needs to be cleaned up. No doubt about it. Yeah, I know. But I’m not as sure as this next guy like I say, a fair number of Kansas City sports fans expect a monster around every corner because, for a generation, there’s been a monster around every corner, like, well Yup. But to answer the earlier question, that would shock me. Not surprise me; shock me. That Cardinals team last year was smoke and mirrors, like the 2003 Royals. It was just a matter of time. Yeah. Pretty much. And I guess this is part of what I was talking about a few questions ago, in remembering that the other team has flaws, too. A lot of success in the NFL is about avoiding those bouts of incompetency. Don’t blow timeouts. Don’t make stupid turnovers. Don’t down the punt after running out of bounds. Don’t hold unless it’s necessary. Don’t forget which route to run. Don’t fumble. I make fun of the line, because he said it all the time, but this is why a loss always meant Todd Haley would start his press conference off by saying, "we did too many of the things that get you beat." You don’t always have to be great to win a game. Sometimes you just have to not be crappy. It’s the old philosophy Marty Schottenheimer always had against the Raiders, but it works against other teams, too. Everything’s working. Honestly, the Chiefs probably aren’t as good as they’ve shown. I mean, chances are they’re not going 19-0. But your point here is valid. They’re doing a good job with hidden yards during games, and the personnel has been upgraded to get that extra two percent. Brings up a really good question, when you think about it and all I can do is guess. Coaching staffs: 6-10. Quarterbacks: 5-11. Slow your roll. I guess I don’t know how far back "I’ve seen" goes (though your picture there is obviously awesome), and I’m not trying to squash anybody’s optimism. But can’t we wait until they beat a legitimate playoff-type team to crown ‘em? Or do I need to break out this video clip? Glad it’s spreading. The rules are simple, if vague: 1. if your guy does something awesome, in a way that decides or seriously changes a game, you are free to give him an F, or, 2. if your guy just does something you can use as an explanation of why you love sports. Like, for instance, Bo Jackson running on the outfield wall in Baltimore had nothing to do with the game’s outcome, but c’mon: I can’t think of anything Succop did on Sunday unless it was the long field goal that came off the board because the Giants committed a first-down penalty. And even that would’ve been a stretch. There’s a fan group — they’re on Twitter and Facebook — that got the Guinness folks to come out to the Raiders game in a few weeks with the idea of breaking the record recently set by Seattle as the world’s loudest stadium. Officially, the record is called " loudest crowd roar at a stadium." There are separate records for indoor and outdoor and, interestingly, the outdoor record (136.6 decibels for the Seahawks-49ers Monday night game a few weeks ago) is louder than the indoor record (106.6 decibels for, believe or not, a Bucks-Clippers game, which just means this is a phony record that should either be beaten soon or vacated). I mean, seriously. How has some enterprising fan group with KU or, really, the Missouri Mavericks not made a run at that indoor record. The Bucks? They must’ve given all 100 fans who showed up air horns. I have nothing to add here. Hard to imagine it happening, for salary cap reasons if nothing else. But I got enough Tony Gonzalez questions that I figured I should include one. I put the over-under at 3 ½ before the season, which would require beating Vandy this weekend, Tennessee and Kentucky next month, and then one of the five (currently) ranked teams the Tigers face. Right now, they won all their non-conference games, including one on the road against a possible bowl team in Indiana, so let’s give them benefit of the doubt. But I am particularly interested to see them in person this weekend at Vandy. Organizing is a strong word. I don’t know much about Nashville, either, but click here or here if you’d like to meet up with some like-minded fans. AEG is working diligently on this^. ^ "Working diligently on this" is code for "counting its money and trading stories about how they duped Kansas City into making them more money." I feel like people aren’t talking about them as much, but I really like the Red Sox. The Tigers will be tough to beat, with all that pitching, but they’ll need more than they’ve gotten from Cabrera the last month and it’s impossible to trust that bullpen. Also: remember when people were basically giving the Dodgers the World Series? And I don’t like the Indians much. They’re very hot, obviously, but I just don’t think they have enough. High Life. And that bar sounds just fine to me. That’s a really good question. I would not, and I hope this makes sense: I believe that Jim Harbaugh is a better coach than Alex Smith is a quarterback, but I also believe that Andy Reid is a MUCH better coach than the Chiefs’ alternative is at quarterback. I also recognize that I’ve been higher on Smith than most, from the beginning. I just love his decision-making, and the way his teammates respond to him. If it’s possible for a former No. 1 overall pick to be underrated, I think he’s underrated. I have a feeling this question is a slam at all four, but I think Dayton has done a good job, Billy’s one of the game’s better hitters, and Ned has some important strengths as a manager. I also admire Sluggerrr’s, um, carpe diem spirit. But, to answer the question, I’ll take Billy. I’ll always take the player. Classic example of why local manager criticism often misses the point: there are people in Texas who would laugh at this and, I presume, people in Seattle who’d love for Ned to be their manager. NSFW! Well, this is fantastic, 50-second mark: Leyland’s the best. And, as a reminder: there are a lot of Tigers fans who can’t stand him. This is part of why I don’t take fan criticism of Yost as seriously as others. Besides their duties to their teams, managers, basically, exist to be ridiculed by fans. Thanks for the confidence, I won’t let you down. 1. Get Mike Moustakas fixed. It’s just too much of a setback if a guy that important has another bad year. Alcides Escobar, too, while we’re at it. 2. Explore options for right field. The home run swing is to trade for Giancarlo Stanton, though the price is going to be steep. 3. Find a replacement for Ervin Santana, because I’m pretty sure someone’s going to pay more than he’s worth. This is weird, because most years by this time, people are asking "WHY DO I ROOT FOR THIS TEAM WHY WHY WHY!?!?!?!?!?" But I’d recommend playoff baseball for the next month, and then chicken wings. Yes. And even as the list of players who’ve been around Moustakas’ 85 OPS+ through three seasons isn’t great^, the Royals are doing the right thing by sticking with him. ^ There are a lot of scrubs on the list , but it includes Jose Reyes, Miguel Tejada, and Johnny Damon among Kevin Orie, Warren Morries, Geoff Blum, Jermaine Allensworth, Scott Spiezio and Mike Lansing. Moose is still young enough, talented enough, and cheap enough to maintain patience. He hit 20 home runs last year, as a 23-year-old, and even with a .296 OBP taking the shine off there’s too much talent to walk away. One part of Moose’s struggles that people don’t talk much about of all the position players, he probably has the personality best-suited to be that "clubhouse leader" baseball people always want. He’s intense, loves the game, loves his teammates, wants to win, all the right things. But you can’t lead with a .651 OPS. Welp, Kansas City.

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