Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City
Friday Five: Staying with Moose, PC police, Bo Jackson’s protege meets Mizzou East
05/16/2014 12:57 PM
1. There’s a zillion ways to look at this semi-messy Mike Moustakas situation as the former overall No. 2 draft pick languishes at .161 40 games and 112 official at-bats into the season.
Sure, it’s possible a stint in Class AAA Omaha could make for a reset button at the plate. Such a jolt has worked for others, even a few years into their major-league careers like the 25-year-old Moustakas is.
But let’s say this funk is mostly in his head, and there’s ample reason to believe it is.
Then no matter what psychological gains could be derived from going to Omaha, he’ll be confronted with the same mental hurdles when he gets back … perhaps even intensified by the scrutiny of his going and returning, especially if he is fragile and feels the move is punitive to begin with.
So it’s hard to know what really would be gained by doing that at this stage.
Meanwhile, it’s not ideal, but if you consider Moustakas’ apparent ceiling at the plate, the winning third base he plays, minimally appealing potential alternatives and iffy benefits (and risks) of sending him out, it’s not unreasonable to keep platooning him with Danny Valencia and hoping that he shakes loose.
Even as he’s struggled, Moustakas still is tied for the team lead in home runs (albeit with just four) and is second in RBIs with 17 after his three-run double proved the game-winning hit against Colorado on Wednesday.
Maybe it won’t get better, but even with this subterranean average Moustakas actually has been essential to the Royals’ winning several games in their 20-20 start.
Patience can’t be the watchword any more, but practicality has to rule. We know one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But he’s the best option now, rather clearly, and he’s helping, even if haltingly, and the upside still could be tapped loose.
2. Earlier this week in USA Today, I came across an intriguing column on criticism of Michael Sam as it pertains to free-speech written by Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center.
His article was in response both to issues arising from Donald Sterling and, in particular, Miami Dolphins’ defensive back Don Jones tweeting “OMG” and “horrible” after the openly gay Sam was drafted and kissed his boyfriend.
The Dolphins fined and suspended Jones and ordered him to go to a training program for “education,” as Paulson put it.
“What if an NFL player had been a bit more circumspect?” Paulson asks. “Tweeting, ‘Congrats to Michael Sam, but the idea of two men in a romantic relationship offends my deepest religious beliefs.’
“Would the Dolphins have suspended him for sharing his faith? Or was ‘OMG’ just not eloquent enough?”
Paulson made a point of saying there’s little sympathy to be had for Sterling or Jones, but he noted, “We should care because it’s a dangerous and chilling practice at odds with cherished rights of privacy and free speech.”
He concludes the column by noting, “It’s not limits on free speech that have led to real social progress. True understanding comes from the free and open exchange of ideas and exposure to others who are different than you.
“Telling someone that there are economic and professional consequences for intolerant personal views doesn’t change or enlighten him. It just reinforces the intolerance.”
I’m still processing all of what Paulson is saying, some of which I know I agree with and some of which I question. But I think his piece is important reading for anyone grappling with how to think about all this, now and going forward.
3. Fort Osage and University of Missouri product E.J. Gaines may not be as familiar with the St. Louis Rams as he is with his hometown Chiefs, but he has a nice understanding of the structure of the Rams, who took him 188th overall in the NFL Draft.
Owner Stan “Kroenke is actually a Mizzou grad,” he said, smiling at a news conference in St. Louis on Tuesday. “So hopefully he’ll keep me around for a while.”
4. With a healthy boost from 304 yards against Missouri in the SEC championship game, Auburn running back Tre Mason broke the school single-season rushing record previously set by former Royals All-Star Bo Jackson.
After Mason broke the record, Jackson told Mason “he was really proud of me,” said Mason, another Rams draftee.
“Bo is actually like an uncle to me,” he said. “He’s pretty much coached me through this process and through the time I was there at Auburn and how to carry myself as, what they say, an Auburn man.”
5. Mason played along when asked if his 46 carries against Mizzou in the 59-42 win were less taxing since he didn’t get tackled much.
“Yeah, it did,” he said, smiling. “It helped a whole lot.”
Describing what it’s like for his former Auburn teammate Greg Robinson and himself to join Sam and Gaines now, Mason said the four already had talked about that it was “just a fun game.” He allowed that Sam and Gaines didn’t quite see it as that much fun.
Asked what the game, and having Auburn teammates now, was like from the MU perspective, Sam joked, “I’m kind of heated up a little bit.” He turned to coach Jeff Fisher and said, “Coach Fisher.”
Then he laughed and said, “They’re going to be great. Tre and Greg are great players and they’re going to be great teammates.”