Don't Kill The Mellinger

Twitter Tuesday: KU’s challenge, Chiefs blame, and Royals home runs

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (right) slid the ball past West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian during the first half on Monday in Morgantown, W.Va.
Kansas forward Perry Ellis (right) slid the ball past West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian during the first half on Monday in Morgantown, W.Va. The Associated Press

So, last night, two things happened in college basketball that are worth talking about here for a second. We’ll start with the local, and by now you’ve probably seen how the Kansas-West Virginia ended.

It’s a terrific play by Juwan Staten to put West Virginia up one, then a heads-y decision by Perry Ellis to take off down the court and an absolutely money pass by Jamari Traylor to hit Ellis in stride on the other end of the court … and then the miss.

It’s a hectic situation, heart rates elevated, an unpracticed play, a thousand reasons Ellis’ last shot was more difficult than it looks from the couch, but, yeah, you have to hit that. It’s not a bad loss for KU. West Virginia is a good team, particularly at home, and the Jayhawks are still a good bet to win the Big 12 … which is a much different thing than saying this loss doesn’t matter.

There is probably no way to track this, because we’re talking about behind-the-scenes stuff here, and thoughts that are often internalized, but Ellis has had a tendency to overthink things in the past. He’s a smart guy — “conscientious like you would want your son to be,” Bill Self says — but at times he can think too hard on his misses and let it get in the way of his makes. Ellis probably isn’t the guy KU would want missing that shot, in other words, and making sure that miss doesn’t affect him going forward is one of those subtle subplots that coaches have to address^.

^ The sadly predictable, mindless idiocy amplified by social media isn’t helping.

This is complicated by the fact that Ellis made a bizarre decision on Staten’s layup, going away from the ball to cover the corner, helping open the lane for Staten. KU’s coaches will probably spend their time pointing out to Ellis that he was just named Big 12 player of the week, and that if he didn’t play as well as he did in Morgantown it wouldn’t have been as close.

The other moment you’ve probably already seen is this dirty, unnecessary, ugly forearm punch from a Seton Hall player named Sterling Gibbs to Ryan Arcidiacono of Villinova. It’s a ridiculous play, and Gibbs is going to be suspended for it, but I have not come here to pile on about the punch but rather point out the reaction.

Shortly after the game, Gibbs took to Twitter: “Man that’s not who I am. I’m sorry to my family, friends, fans, and team for being an embarrassment. Even more sorry to (Arcidiacono) … I let My (sic) emotions get the best of me and that wasn’t acceptable at all. I hope you’re alright and I will face any consequences coming. Sorry again (Arcidiacono) it really is weighing heavy on my heart.”

I mean, let’s point out the obvious, that taking to Twitter to apologize does not make up for an ugly and dangerous action, and is only the beginning of what Gibbs should do. But it is a strong beginning. I don’t think any of us want to be judged or remembered for our worst moments, and if nothing else, I think Gibbs deserves the benefit of the doubt if the tweets are an indication of where his heart is.

This week’s eating recommendation is the jalapeño bacon at Waldo Pizza, and the reading recommendation is Jon Ronson on an ugly side of social media.

This week’s hero is Heidi Hynes, a Kansas City woman who now works at a family and youth center in New York, helping poor kids find productive passions, good memories, and self-esteem. Two kids from the center were even chosen to be part of a group climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. They start their ascent in two weeks.

Please keep those hero nominations coming. As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for the help.

I have to be honest. I didn’t stay with the most-hyped TV show since … what’s the answer here? The Sopranos finale? … for more than an hour or so. Which is probably weird, because the show was sort of made for me. Saturday Night Live was one of the times my parents let me stay up late.

Showing glimpses and references to all these great skits of the last 25 years or so — I’m not that old — should’ve been a no-brainer for me. But the whole thing felt, I don’t know, a little pompous to me. Too self-congratulatory, which I know is an asinine thing to say, like criticizing a slab of ribs for being too filling. But that’s how it felt to me. I know that many more people loved it, were moved by it, and for that I only feel jealousy.

I did love the opening:

I should’ve stayed with it, if for no other reason than because live TV with stars like that is bound to give you something memorable, though maybe it says something about the effectiveness of the show that the moment from the show best suited for the did-you-see-that? talk was this entirely bizarre, perhaps mistake, with Eddie Murphy. He comes out at the four minute mark — after Chris Rock tells a great old, pseudo-NSFW Murphy joke at the 2:25 mark — to, apparently, kick it to commercial?

Huh.

Well, that’s, what, 10 different questions? I will not answer ten.

I’ve always loved Weekend Update, especially with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler^.

^ They always have great mini skits within Update, like Adam Sandler’s red hooded sweatshirt (crappy quality video here) or Jebidiah Atkinson.

But the best all-time skit, clearly, was Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley trying out for Chippenndales.

The best host is Timberlake. These last two answers are non-negotiable.

Oh, you mean this?

When the game was over, one of the more dramatic Game 7s you could see, I remember typing furiously into my computer, pausing for a second, turning to Andy and saying, “He’d have been out by a hundred feet, right?”

I don’t remember if Andy said anything back. He tends to only be helpful when it’s convenient for him, or maybe if there’s dinner involved. But either way, that’s how much thought I gave it, a few seconds, because really, he’d have been out by a hundred feet.

Then, because it’s sports and the internet will spread any crazy theory that will draw clicks, it became apparent that people truly believed Alex Gordon would’ve been safe and that Mike Jirschele — an easy guy to root for, by the way — would not have overtaken Bill Buckner for the biggest mistake in World Series history.

I’ve had arguments with friends — friends I don’t consider complete morons, actually, and even at least one who makes his living in baseball — who think Gordon had a legitimate chance of being safe.

So for all of those people, I want it screamed from the highest mountains that Alex Gordon would’ve been out by a thousand feet, that the same people complaining he wasn’t sent would be calling Jirschele the dumbest guy in the world, and that a remarkable Royals season that went all the way to the World Series would be remembered for a bone-headed, indefensible, awful decision had Jirschele gone temporarily crazy and Gordon thrown out by a million feet^ for the last out of the World Series.

^ Yes, the number is growing.

The point, I guess, is that we’re trying to help people move on. In reality.

Like this.

I appreciate where you’re coming from, but like I’ve said with the Shuttlecock Curse stuff, the identity is changed now. The Royals played in the World Series last year. Nobody sympathizes with new money about how they used to be poor.

The Royals could lose 90 games this year — you might’ve seen where one Vegas sports book put them at 79 1/2 wins this year, which seems low, but whatever — and the complaints would still sound like whining. Don’t do it.

The Royals don’t suck anymore. It’s OK.

Bowe’s contract is on Dorsey, though the Chiefs can chop down the salary quite significantly now, and Dorsey might fairly point out that circumstances he inherited forced his hand on that one.

The Alex Smith contract, guys … I don’t know if this is going to become the new “David Glass Has Been a Good Owner Since 2006,” something that I keep pointing out and nobody believes, but it’s not a bad contract, and of everyone who complains about it I’ve never heard a better alternative.

If you haven’t already, check out Seth Keysor’s look through too many hours watching Alex Smith snaps here. The conclusion, and I hope I’m not misrepresenting Seth here, is that Alex is a good quarterback. Not a great one, and not a bad one. A good one, particularly when looked at in context of what’s around him and what other, non-alien quarterbacks^ do.

^ Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are aliens.

I’m not sure where the Chiefs screwed up, passing up an available and superior quarterback, unless you use some mental jiu jitsu kind of hindsight. It’d be awesome if they drafted Russell Wilson instead of Donald Stephenson, or

The Chiefs have a quarterback who beat Drew Brees in a playoff shootout, went to the NFC Championship game where his team lost on a bizarre special teams turnover, and played brilliantly in his playoff chance here. That costs money.

Also, the Chiefs can create a lot of cap room. The new CBA requires teams to be right up at the cap, so it’s neither rare or particularly worrisome that the Chiefs are in a position where they need to clear some space.

I am, sure, but more in a super nerdy, granular kind of way. Like, I’m not going to watch any of the combine coverage this week, probably. The process, to me, has gotten very managed. I totally understand this, I empathize with the position these prospects are in. It’s the biggest moment of their lives, right now, preparing for the draft. They’d be fools not to do everything possible to take full advantage.

So I guess my interest in it is more from the prospects’ perspective, about what it must be like going through all of these interviews and workouts and practicing for non-football drills, all of it only tangentially relevant to their new profession.

The part that turns me off is the number of people who don’t know what they’re doing but pretend otherwise, telling you who will be a bust, who will be a steal, when they’re either guessing on their own, or guessing based on someone else’s guesses, or using “information” that’s being given to them with a purpose by someone with an agenda.

There are a few people who go through the draft stuff better than most, who combine hours of watching film with sources around the league and a certain reasonable approach about what’s real and what’s not. We’re lucky here, actually, to have someone like that.

Well, I’d tell you to find better uses for your time, but you clicked here on this weekly silliness that I spent far too much time putting together, so, you know, I’m not casting stones.

I’m willing to give the SEC a pass on some of this stuff. I mean, we all know it’s ridiculous, like naming Norm Stewart an SEC legend, but I think we all also know that it’s part of the show. There are parts of the show we like, parts we don’t, parts we make fun of, but we’re all watching.

This seems like a good time to point out I’ll have The Totally Official DKTM Royals Over-Under numbers soon. I don’t mean to brag here, but as past winners of this and the Chiefs contest can tell you, prizes are ALWAYS given out within two years. ALWAYS.

This is a great question, because the Royals might have five or six guys who could be reasonable answers here: Sal Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Kendrys Morales. That’s five. Depending on your Alex Rios thoughts, could be six, I guess. But, well, five’s a big number.

Anyway, I think it’ll be Hosmer. I really think he might be in a place where he has the breakout year people have been waiting for. Assuming he stays healthy, and focused, I think he could have a 25-homer, 40-double kind of season.

Clooney for me, John Candy for McCullough.

Boom, Yosted.

I have seen the Black Keys for free in New Orleans. I’ve narrowly dodged vomit, stayed up until the sun, and thought it was perfectly reasonable to stand in the same place on Bourbon Street to see how many people would either step in or make fools of themselves by almost stepping in a giant pile of police horse DNA^.

^ Answer: a LOT. Even after you start yelling at people that they’re about to step in a steaming pile of DNA.

The best thing about New Orleans, to me, isn’t the food or the drink or the convenience or the parties. The best about it, to me, is the way the people there feel about their city. I don’t think I ever went to New Orleans before Katrina, but it sure seems to me that the people still there are the people who can’t imagine living anywhere else, who largely feel so proud and connected to their city and they want you to feel the same way. That’s so damn appealing.

I was there a few years ago, met a friend, and we did what I always like to do in New Orleans: we just walked around. Grabbed a drink, started walking, and when the cup was empty we grabbed another drink and kept on going. There are so many great places there, with a ton of history, places like the Absinthe House, but really, you can’t go wrong. I remember seeing a cigar shop a bit off the main drag, so we go in there and it’s a birthday party. Literally, a birthday party. The owner’s sister, or something. They’re the only ones in there, so at first we’re not sure if they’re open or not, but the owner greets us with a smile and asks a bunch of questions and next thing we know we’re smoking stogies with a family we just met, drinking their beer and eating some cake because it would’ve felt genuinely rude not to have some cake. We probably stayed there for two hours, laughing through most of it, and then went on with the rest of the night.

That, to me, is New Orleans.

America loves talent.

But America LOVES talent that’s crazy.

Guys, I didn’t see a way to work this into any of the answers, so I’m just going to leave you with this, on the chance you haven’t already seen it. This is just amazing. If you’re at work, grab some headphones, because the sound is essential (h/t For The Win).

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to smellinger@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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