Don't Kill The Mellinger

October 4, 2013

Four for the weekend: Chiefs hope, Royals payroll, Mizzou promise, and KU’s “youth”

Sam Mellinger takes on the Chiefs' hopeful start, the Royals' payroll concerns, Mizzou's chance to improve to 5-0 and KU's 'Late Night' in his latest blog.

Don't Kill the Mellinger

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

You can be skeptical of the Chiefs, of course. You don’t have to work to hard to find reasons. Mostly, you can point out that their opponents’ combined record is 3-13, the "easiest" schedule in the NFL so far, and work from there.

And it’s true that prudence says we should wait until the Chiefs beat someone good to, um, crown ‘em

but it’s also true that the Chiefs have done everything a good team should do so far. Jake Locker’s injury is a break for the Chiefs, and will allow skeptics to hold off no matter what happens this weekend, but as well as he had been playing Jake Locker should not be confused with Joe Montana.

The Chiefs are a well-balanced, talented group that appears to be working together remarkably well. The NFL is based on parity, so these are qualities that can set teams apart.

Nobody knows how good the Chiefs really are, of course. Not yet. It’s too early. But what we do know has been, with only a few exceptions, very promising. The Titans are 3-1, their only loss on the road and in overtime. This is a good test for the Chiefs. One more chance to see what they are.

I hear some of you concerned about Dayton Moore’s comment the other day that he expected the payroll to stay about the same. If not for his well-intentioned-but-poorly-worded "World Series" line

, this might’ve been the main takeaway.

I’ll write more about the offseason and some of the options the Royals might have, but for now, I wouldn’t worry too much about the payroll. I think it’s going up and, for the right parts, perhaps significantly.

I can’t think of a legitimate reason the payroll won’t rise, and suspect Dayton said that because he hasn’t talked about a hard budget yet with owner David Glass (who sets the payroll; it’s not Dayton’s call) and wants to protect his boss. There could be some gamesmanship here, too. If you announce you’re bumping payroll by a certain amount, agents hear that and might try to take advantage.

Again, I think it’s going up. For a lot of reasons, and we’ll get to them soon. If the payroll doesn’t go up, that would be one of the easiest columns I’ll ever write.

Love that it worked out

so that Mizzou and the Chiefs are playing in Nashville on the same weekend. Good road trip for fans, especially with both teams still undefeated.

They’re all important, but this really is a crucial game for Mizzou, especially symbolically. The loss at home to Vandy last year stung, and couldn’t been the difference between a bowl game. A win here would back up a good showing in the non-conference, might put Mizzou into the top 25, and would set up a really interesting game next weekend at Georgia.

Looking forward to seeing this one in person, and under the lights.

You might’ve seen where KU freshman Andrew Wiggins was voted

to the first team All-Big 12 team, and senior transfer Tarik Black named preseason newcomer of the year^. Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid were joined by K-State’s Shane Southwell on honorable mention.

^ (Editor’s note: old-man rant coming) I have an irrational hatred for this award: "preseason newcomer of the year." What the heck is that? Preseason teams are awkward enough, but "preseason newcomer of the year" — you could say the same thing about preseason freshman of the year — is basically code for "we really don’t know much, but this guy has the most hype." I’m fine with giving out a freshman of the year, or newcomer of the year, but adding the preseason awards is doing nothing but creating tangible disappointment. (Editor’s note: Sam’s old-man rant has now concluded)

Unmentioned here are freshmen Wayne Selden (who is a potential star, and someone you’d be hearing much more about if not for Wiggins) and Frank Mason (who the coaches are VERY high on), among others. It is a team loaded with talent, and so I hope Bill Self — who is as good at what he does as anyone in the country — can save us the "but we’re very young" bit.

Technically, the Jayhawks’ most talented players will be young. But Black has played three years of high-level college basketball, and they return experience in Ellis, Naadir Tharpe, Jamari Traylor, and Justin Wesley.

All college basketball teams are, by definition, young. All of them would trade experience for talent like Wiggins, Selden, and Embiid.

 

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