Don't Kill The Mellinger
Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff
Twitter Tuesday: All-Star changes, Royals memories, Chiefs hopes
07/14/2014 8:20 PM
I’ll say right up front here that I plan on watching the All-Star Game tonight, and I fully realize that may put me in the minority here. Though I didn’t realize until reading Posnanski here that the average age of the All-Star Game viewer is now 53.
I have no frame of reference for this, but that’s basically the age I’d expect for 60 Minutes, not a major sporting event.
Anyway, Posnanski is one of many to suggest some changes to the All-Star Game, and one of many to suggest that MLB should do a better job of celebrating its international success.
Posnanski’s idea is for an MLB vs. Japan All-Star Game, and I’d obviously be into that, but I wonder if a USA vs. The World format would be better, at least in the beginning. That way, you’d have a game full of stars that viewers know, instead of a game where half the players are unknown and will remain that way when the show is over.
Just using this year’s All-Stars, the starting lineups would be something like this:
CF Adam Jones
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Mike Trout
LF Andrew McCutchen
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Josh Donaldson
DH Michael Brantley
2B Chase Utley
C Jonathan Lucroy
P Clayton Kershaw
CF Carlos Gomez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Miguel Cabrera
RF Yasiel Puig
LF Jose Bautista
DH Jose Abreu
3B Aramis Ramirez
C Sal Perez
SS Erick Aybar
SP Felix Hernandez
I mean, I’m planning on watching tonight’s game. But I know for sure I’d watch that game.
This week’s eating recommendation is the Orecchiette at Osteria Il Centro, and the reading recommendation is John H. Richardson on Lance Armstrong in purgatory.
As always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.
Well, whatever happens in the 68 remaining games will be the memory of this season. The Royals haven’t been good enough to ignite the city, and they haven’t been bad enough to turn away.
We’ve said over and over that this particular team is eight years in the Processing, and if they finish 41-31 (like they did last year) and sneak into the playoffs with 89 wins (Seattle is currently in position for the second wild card spot, and is on pace for 87 wins) then this city will have experienced an actual playoff race and meaningful baseball in September for the first time in way too long.
The line between Dayton Inc. being the group to end the longest playoff drought in North American sports, and being the dunces who couldn’t make it despite a watered-down playoff structure and eight years (and counting) of patience is incredibly thin.
What he and Ned said about not knowing what’s going on isn’t any different than what you’d hear from guys on 29 other teams. Hot and cold streaks happen to the best players, and when they’re in the moment, they often don’t have an explanation. If they knew exactly what it was, they’d always do it and there would be no more streaks.
This is one of those things that sounds infuriating when you’re a fan in Kansas City and you’re already frustrated with your team, but really, it’s no different than most of the sport. The Royals in general and this group specifically don’t have the benefit of the doubt, obviously, so this isn’t a defense of them as much as it is an explanation for why there is no explanation.
We’re all learning.
The Royals really made their acquisition two winters ago, with the trade for James Shields and Wade Davis. Anything they do at this point would almost certainly be a more minor or supplemental move, especially if the people who tell me it would cost something like Hunter Dozier and Sean Manaea and something else to get Ben Zobrist are right.
These deals usually revolve around prospects, because that’s where the growth is, but like that character assassinatin’ Andy McCullough wrote the other day, the Royals’ best prospects are all at lower levels.
One more complication in making a deal. With the second wild card, there are always going to be more buyers than there used to be. That means the advantage in deadline deals is with the seller, which could drive the price even higher.
But I do understand your larger point. Quite the change from wondering what you can get for Scott Elarton.
Is this true? He’s been seen more around the club? This whole absentee owner thing, far as I’ve ever been able to tell, has become a narrative because some radio folks decided to make it one and because Glass doesn’t like to do interviews.
He’s always been around the team far more than a lot of fans think and more than a lot of media wants to say. He just doesn’t like to talk to reporters. He talks to the front office often, and watches every game, sometimes at home in Arkansas and often in his suite at the stadium.
Nobody wants to hear this, and I get angry emails every time I say it, but whatever, it’s true: before 2006, Glass was one of the worst owners in sports; since 2006, he’s been pretty close to a model owner for a small-money baseball team. He’s involved in decisions, but lets his baseball people do their jobs, and has funded the club to representative levels. The good-looking man made the point here about how the Royals really could be past their break-even point on spending this year.
There’s more pressure on the Royals to win this year, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Glass being around the team more or less or the same. It has to do with this being the eighth year of Processing, and the last year of James Shields.
I’d love to. I’ve known Art for years. Like I said with the excerpt that ran in the paper on Sunday, I don’t remember the first time I met him but I am certain he made me smile. That’s how it is with Art.
Even at 87, even after more than 60 years of chasing prospects and big leaguers all over this country and the world. He always wants to make the next drive, see the next game, get his eyes on a guy who maybe, just maybe, with the right break of luck and hard work and coaching and luck, be in the big leagues someday and one more story he can tell. You can imagine how someone with that kind of experience and excitement to share is someone you want to get to know when you’re in your 20s and covering baseball for the first time.
He’s a guy you just find yourself gravitating to. Some of that is that you always leave the conversation in a better mood than you started it, and some of it is that you always hear a story or fact or viewpoint you never heard before. It’s inspiring to see someone at that age, with that many years in the rear view mirror, go straight on ahead with the kind of passion and energy the good ones have before they’re wrinkled.
That’s some of the background about how I came to know Art. The actual book stuff was pretty simple. Art had long been in contact with a publisher about doing a book. I think they had some starts and stops over the last five or 10 years. But at some point after last season, around Thanksgiving, I think, Art called.
He told me he wanted to do a book, that he wanted to tell some of his own stories but also honor and recognize other scouts and the work they do. Scouts are always in the shadows, and that’s how it should be, but they are also where so many of the great stories are. Art told me a publisher was ready, and had asked if there was someone specific he’d be comfortable working with.
I actually have a book idea in mind, but the concept of doing a book has always been intimidating. Personally, my wife was pregnant and the timeline of the book would straddle some very busy weeks and months for me, but I thought this would be a good way to go through the experience with some safeguards. More importantly, Art really wanted to do the book and I really wanted to help him tell some of his wonderful stories in a way people will hopefully appreciate.
So we talked once or twice a week until we had the best stuff covered. I was still working the day job, obviously, but it wasn’t hard to find time for this. I knew a lot of the stories going in, but loved hearing them again and hearing so many new ones. Like about how the Royals were this close to signing Mariano Rivera, or the inside story on how they signed Bo Jackson, or some of the stories from Art’s days with the great Yankees teams of the 1950s and 1960s.
When Art was a young man, he was scouted by George Sisler. When Art was an old man, he scouted Sal Perez. He saw an amazing portion of what the game had to offer in between in person, from Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series to the phenom who created baseball’s draft to the rise and fall and hopeful rise back of an expansion team in Kansas City. It was cool experience to help him tell some of the stories from a remarkable life.
Let me say right here that this is a great question, and that both would surprise me. Right now, the official DKTM stance is 7-9 for the Chiefs. There is usually a natural regression when a team jumps up like the Chiefs did last year, and they caught some breaks along the way (including great health) that probably won’t happen again.
That being said, 4-12 would be a collapse back to the Pioli years and there are too many players with good track records to not be surprised at that.
I will say this, though: if the Chiefs go 4-12 or something ugly like that, besides some injuries, their offensive line has probably defecated the proverbial bed. That’s a real concern.
First of all, I think we can all agree that Babb is scum and definitely not pretty.
Second of all, I’m probably like a lot of people in that I was never angry — as much as you can be angry at someone you don’t know for doing something that doesn’t affect you personally — at LeBron for leaving, but very turned off by the way he did it. That was incredibly tone deaf and immature. This isn’t new.
I do think it’s cool that he’s going back to Cleveland, for a lot of reasons, and as a sports fan am fascinated to see how it turns out.
I also appreciate the comparison. LeBron is taller, but other than that, same deal. One last point: nobody should ever say "never." I love my situation, love Kansas City, but I’m like anybody else. You only work at a place as long as your employer thinks it’s in their best interests, and you agree. Once either of those breaks, nobody else should be able to judge.
The Royals, for the most part, are pretty awful at PR. When you talk to them, away from cameras, the execs and folks there (for the most part) are very humble. I don’t think they feel like they have some secret answer, or that everything they do is right. Not at all. I’ve heard self-reflection and regret about a lot of things.
You don’t think they cuss themselves for Christian Colon over Chris Sale, for instance?
But baseball is a sport of guaranteed failure. The best hitters fail six out of 10 times (too many people say seven out of 10, but walks are good, too) and the best scouts and executives fail far more than that in the draft and with international signings. You have to get through that, and trust the people around you, or the whole thing will drive you crazy. Actually, the whole thing might drive you crazy anyway.
What you hear publicly is always spin, on some level, and I’m not sure how many executives would sit down on camera and talk about all the mistakes they’ve made. Take the Colon-over-Sale thing, for instance. Nobody in the organization can put their name on public regret over that, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because Colon is still here.
By definition, what you hear in attributed quotes and see when people are on TV is some degree of spin. You are hearing what they want you to hear. The truth is harder to get, and way more interesting.
Like I said, the Royals are very bad at PR a lot of times. The manager is bad on camera, and usually defensive, and nobody in the organization is heard or seen talking as much as the manager. The whining about "we get more love outside of Kansas City than we do here" is silly and counterproductive.
For some of this, there is no good answer. They can’t openly say this is taking far longer than they originally expected, or that it took them too long to figure out how to focus on speed and defense, or that they don’t know what happened with Billy Butler’s bat speed or Luke Hochevar’s confidence as a starter or Eric Hosmer’s consistency. Part of why David Glass doesn’t talk much to media is that he doesn’t have a lot to say.
That doesn’t mean they think they’ve gotten everything right.
It looks like Baylor and Oklahoma, and then five teams in the middle, then West Virginia and Iowa State at the bottom and then Kansas after that.
Not that it matters, but I lean Oklahoma in large part because they have Baylor at home.
Like in most things, none of us know anything.
It’s on the players. No matter what people with MLS will tell you about having around 30 players in the World Cup with an exciting and improving product — that’s all true, by the way — its games are still vastly inferior to what is increasingly available on television internationally.
That’s a problem, and always will be.
The MLS has a lot to offer. Their players are accessible, the league has a financial structure that makes sense, and there is a lot with fan relations and technology that bigger leagues could do well to copy.
So for the most part, I think the MLS should continue to do what it’s doing in those ways. Most of the suggestions I’d have for the league are probably just personal pet peeves, like a season that goes on WAY too long, or that so many games are on Saturday nights, or that you can’t give a guy a yellow card for a harmless (if lame) selfie celebration and then trip over yourself to promote it on your website and other places.
One last piece of advice, and this may be more of a FIFA issue than MLS, but soccer needs to get in front of its problem with concussions. What we saw in the World Cup with guys obviously doozy playing anyway is just unacceptable. I don’t know what MLS’ protocol is with this, so I’m talking out of school here, but they need to clean that up yesterday.
Greg Holland is probably gone, too, even if most of you don’t want to hear that. A lot of the money will be absorbed in raises: Alex Gordon, Jason Vargas, Omar Infante, Wade Davis and Jeremy Guthrie are scheduled to make a combined $9.7 million more next year than this year. That doesn’t take into account raises through arbitration for guys like Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.
But that still leaves some money, plus the trade value of Holland, to do something. The biggest improvement will have to be from the inside, boring as that answer is, but they should be able to pick the right spot for an outsider. Depending on how the rest of this season goes, maybe that’s a third baseman. Maybe they can package Holland and something else for a hitter, though the something else would have to be significant.
So, basically, a very unsatisfying answer: they won’t have as much money as it looks like on the surface, and probably won’t be able to add as much help as you’d like.
I don’t judge the other side, but I am very much on Team Grown Men Shouldn’t Wear Pro Athletes’ Jerseys.
So if we can alter the question a bit to a jersey for my son (and I suppose in this scenario we’re pretending he’s older than four months) then I’m in.
My answer will sound ridiculous: Matt Besler or Pele.
Besler because I think there’s some value in a kid seeing someone who grew up in the same place make it so far, and Pele because I think there’s value in seeing beyond what’s in front of you, both geographically and historically.
That got way too deep for Twitter Tuesday, so I’ll apologize and since you asked for one, I’m taking Besler.
I’m just not sure if it would be a Sporting jersey, or Tottenham^.
^ STOP THROWING THINGS AT ME!!!
I can certainly understand any football team not wanting to play in that dome. The exception for this rule is the high school teams in Missouri, because playing indoors in an NFL stadium has to be pretty cool.
I guess from a fan perspective it might be cool to see a football game at Busch, and the crowd for something like that would probably be a better fit for the size of Busch than the Dome, but there’s something inside of me that can’t get behind football being played in a baseball stadium. Ever. Northwestern tried this a few years back at Wrigley Field, and the field dimensions turned it into a bit of a sideshow.
The general rule: hockey in a football stadium is awesome, football in a baseball stadium is a gimmick.
But I also know that Arkansas State has bills to pay.
Click that link, people!
This week’s Knoda: