Jarrod Dyson can be difficult, and this is not something he would be likely to disagree with. One moment comes quickest to mind, in Minneapolis, when Dyson was upset at how or when he’d been told he would be in the lineup that day.
He was angry. At the coaches, at manager Ned Yost. He was not shy about this, and neither was the response.
“Remember this day!” screamed a coach.
Dyson is also talented, engaged, and was a critical part of a swaggerific clubhouse culture in an organization that values such things more than most. This is something Dyson would absolutely not disagree with, and the tradeoff, by any measure, was clearly worth it for the Royals.
This comes up as the Royals play in Seattle, against Dyson in a regular season game for the first time. Dyson has always been honest, at times even when he shouldn’t be, so it means a little more that he said he understood, expected and accepted the offseason trade.
I have no way of knowing this for sure. I don’t think anybody could. But I believe the Royals valued his personality enough that they would not have traded him after the Yordano Ventura tragedy.
The trade made sense for the Royals. Dyson was their fourth outfielder and will be a free agent after this season. Nate Karns is a pitcher with proven talent, and under club control through 2020. They also saved about $2 million on 2017 payroll. These are the types of trades the Royals have to make.
I do wonder if Dyson could come back, however. Lorenzo Cain will be a free agent, and likely seeking a long-term contract with a salary of $15 million or more. He’ll also turn 32 next year, and if he — as he absolutely should — looks for the biggest contract then someone is likely to outbid the Royals.
That would create a potential opportunity to bring Dyson back. He’d be cheaper, is a terrific defensive player, carries real offensive skills, and would be a confident clubhouse personality for a franchise that values confident clubhouse personalities.
There are moving parts. Dyson’s free agent value is hard to predict. He’ll be 33 in August, and assuming continued health this will be his first season with more than 337 plate appearances.
If the Royals believe Bubba Starling can keep his head above water against big league pitching, it would be tempting to go with his defense, talent, future and league minimum salary.
But it does feel at least possible that Dyson could return.
This week’s reading recommendation is my friend Jayson Jenks on the story of a 9-year-old runaway now grown up, and the eating recommendation is the Frankenstein sandwich at Westport Ice Cream Bakery.
I feel like I need to explain myself here.
I love KCI. I recognize that I love it for sentimental reasons. It’s the first airport I ever went to. I have a vivid memory — this had to be the 1980s — of telling my parents the metal detector was unplugged. They ignored me the first 27 times I said something, then looked, saw that I was right, and told the TSA folks who just shrugged, giggled, plugged it in and went about their day.
Later, my mom would tell me that getting on that plane was one of the scariest things she ever did.
I have memories of the drive to KCI, of getting a flat tire once, running to the turnpike booth to call a friend (before I had a cell phone), him picking me up, us passing the “KCI 16 miles sign” exactly 16 minutes before my flight was to take off and still making it, a combination of my promise to pay my friend’s speeding ticket plus $50, gate side drop-off, an amazing ticket agent, a short flight delay and a passenger walking off the plane after boarding.
But it’s just not nostalgia. For my very specific needs and priorities, KCI is the perfect airport for me, other than location. I never check a bag, so the dependably awful bag claim doesn’t bother me. I have priority boarding, so I don’t care about the lines during peak hours. Circle parking allows you to get from your car to the gate in a few minutes walk, and I have a trick with economy parking to do the same in less than 10 minutes.
I find eating meals at an airport cumbersome, so the food options don’t bother me. My entire goal, when I travel, is to spend the least amount of time possible in the airport.
So KCI is my perfect match, and if it remained our airport forever I would be perfectly happy.
I find people who say a new airport will attract business to be fools, and I find people who say KC has a bad reputation because the airport is dark or whatever to be superficial at best.
I also recognize reality. I recognize that the airport is outdated in some important ways, and that’s not going to get better. I recognize that my travel experience and priorities are specific, and there are many who find the unpredictable security lines to be scary and inconvenient.
I recognize that KCI may be the absolute worst airport in the country for a layover, and even as I don’t ever plan to have a layover at KCI, it’s worth considering.
I recognize that Kansas City taxpayers will not pay for a new airport, and that if this is what the airlines want, then it’s what we should do — particularly if it means any more flights.
I recognize that my experience with KCI is bad when I’m traveling with my family, and have to check bags, and can’t use priority boarding, and would like space for the little maniacs to run around*.
* PLEASE, planners: include a kids’ play area. I’ve seen these in Minneapolis and Milwaukee recently, and there have to be more, and they are very appreciated by and important to families who are probably the most stressed out travelers and airport serves.
One thing I feel very strongly about:
When and if KCI is replaced, there will be people making grand declarations about what it means for Kansas City and most of those people will be full of it. A new airport will not revolutionize Kansas City, or push it forward, not in any substantial or meaningful way.
Think about this for a second. Can you think of a single city whose grand progress you’d attribute to an airport?
And if anyone says KCI has held Kansas City back, ask whether Laguardia has held back New York, or LAX held back LA.
For all that there is to love about Kansas City, we also have major problems, and those have nothing to do with the airport. This is also part of why I’m on Team New KCI. A new airport is inevitable. The sooner we get there, the sooner more attention can get back to improving schools and roads, lowering crime, and continuing the terrific improvements to downtown.
Because that’s what’s going to decide the future of Kansas City. Not whether you can buy a burrito past security.
That doesn’t feel realistic to me.
Cain may be the Royals’ most irreplaceable player. It’s either him or Sal Perez. Either way, I don’t see how you get better by trading him. He’s the level of fit and talent that is more valuable for the Royals than he would be most other places, so at that point, you’re banking on Dayton Moore fleecing someone in a trade.
Banking on any GM fleecing someone in a trade is not a good strategy.
I have my doubts about whether the Royals can or will be buyers at the deadline. Standing pat has always seemed the most likely strategy, for a few reasons, primarily that they are too far into it to sell and don’t have enough capital to buy.
It is possible the Royals could scrape together a package for a fifth starter, or middle reliever. But the chances of landing a fifth starter that would be a significant upgrade feel low to me, and I see the waiver claim of Neftali Feliz as exactly the type of low-risk, high-reward move for an arm that the Royals should and will be seeking.
They’re in a bit of an awkward spot. At this point, I think we can all agree they’re not going to sell, barring an outrageously terrible July. But I don’t know that the signs to buy are strong enough, either, particularly considering a relatively light farm system.
They have a decent core to play with the next three or four years, so they probably won’t be bottoming out. But I have a feeling that for all the complaining about Eric Hosmer that I hear, people are going to miss him. Mike Moustakas, too, though he’s being more appreciated in the moment.
I don’t know what we could hypothetically count on from Veach, and I am skeptical of anyone who says they do.
I don’t mean that cynically. Just honestly, and literally: there is no way to know.
He could be terrific. He could be terrible. That’s the profile of a young executive candidate.
I do know that at least some around the league are skeptical of how that dynamic would exist. I got a text from a rival personnel man who said Scott Fitterer and Ryan Cowden — the two known outside candidates — “walk circles around Veach but Veach is Reid’s boy.”
From what I see and hear, that personnel man is not alone.
Now, I happen to believe the Chiefs will and should promote Veach.
Much of that has to do with the awkward timing of Clark Hunt’s ruthless move. I believe the best outside candidates will be turned off, and that stability is at a premium. Andy Reid will and should always have a say in personnel matters, but it’s also important to have someone who knows his thinking and preferences.
Reid has earned that.
And the Chiefs have earned the skepticism from others if that’s the direction they go, and they’re seen as hiring “Reid’s boy.”
The haters who say I can’t feed my family with a job I do many days from an overstuffed chair wearing mesh shorts and a tri-blend T-shirt.
The best sports event of the year is the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. That is not debatable. I would argue the second best weekend is the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Third best can be argued between baseball’s opening day, college football’s semifinal playoff round and NFL conference championships.
But that’s not what you’re asking.
The answer used to be New Years bowl games, but then college football screwed that up, but now they may have fixed it back because the two playoff semifinals (as well as the Peach Bowl) will be on News Years Day.
I say “may have” because I want to see what it feels like. Those games, I assume, will be later in the day. That’s not necessarily bad, but having good college football on while you work off the cobwebs from New Years Eve always felt like a proud American tradition.
By now, I’m far removed from the days of really needing to work off any cobwebs, but it’s still fun to fake it.
If college football doesn’t fit nicely back into the holiday, then the NFL with Thanksgiving wins because it’s a bigger part of the holiday than basketball is for Christmas.
Well, at one point, I believe they dealt with it by throwing fake dollar bills at him during baseball games.
I was too young to really pay attention to those things, and far too infatuated with Bo to care, but I’m guessing he was booed without mercy when he made the decision.
This is a bit of an underplayed portion of Bo’s story. Deion Sanders played for the Braves and Falcons at the same time. There was one season he played for the Giants in baseball and the Cowboys in football, and maybe that was tough for two-way fans in those cities, but he only played 52 games for the Giants and was fairly inconsequential in baseball by then.
I’m not sure it required much dissonance. Brian Jordan was done in football by the time he broke into the big leagues.
Nobody, at least that I can think of at the moment, has been in position for the same level of sports love and hate as Bo Jackson in Kansas City in the 1980s and 90s.
People in Oakland felt a similar version of that, I’m sure, but during baseball season they could mostly forget about him. Kansas City did not have that same option, because the Raiders and Chiefs are bigger parts of each other’s seasons than the A’s and Royals.
So, I don’t know. But it is something I’ve thought of a lot.
In 1989, Bo had his most famous baseball season for the Royals — 32 homers, 105 RBIs, 26 steals, the MVP of the All-Star game. Then in the fall, he rushed for 85 yards and the go-ahead touchdown against the Chiefs in October.
That’s messed up.
I’ve never been that into firecrackers, actually.
I’ll always have a certain affection for professional shows, particularly after baseball games. At least in my memory, we watched a fireworks show at some sort of baseball game nearly every Fourth of July in my childhood.
There is something innocent and simple and fun about it, enough that even now, baseball postgame fireworks fill me with the good feels.
But I’ve never been very into setting them off myself. Even when I was little, I don’t think it was the danger. Maybe it was. But I just never got the same thrill from them as others.
It always seemed like a long buildup to a light payoff, and now, I am in that stage of fatherhood where my relationship with fireworks can probably be best described as “you hellions better not be waking my kids up with that racket.”
In a few years, I’ll be constantly worried about them being around older kids with M-80s or whatever.
Yes. I’m aware of how this all makes me sound. I’m not proud of it. Just honest.
Stay away from my kids.
Joe knows his audience here, picking the singer of the Black Keys, my favorite band, even as I’m not quite sure whether they’re still a band*.
* To be completely honest with you, I’ve basically pretended the last two albums don’t exist. Mine are the Black Keys of Brothers, or Thickfreakness.
The obvious answer for me is Bo, because he’s Bo, but I’m thinking about it and there’s a little bit of a hangup. I love Bo because of the spectacular and what he could do in two very different sports, but you said for a week and I don’t know how often (if ever) he had a chance to do Bo things in baseball and football in the same week.
Maybe I’m taking your question too literally here, but that’s a thing for me. It would be amazing to climb the wall in Baltimore like Spiderman or run over Bosworth at the goal line or throw out Harold Reynolds in Seattle or hit three home runs in Yankee Stadium.
But, as incredible as any of that would be, a week would not be enough time to live the full Bo experience.
Auerbach, however, could give me everything I wanted in one show.
I have never once in my life gone to a concert without thinking about how amazing it would be to stand on stage and have thousands of people cheering you and singing along to their favorite song that you happen to have written and are performing at that moment.
I mean, there can’t be anything quite like that in the world, right?
I’ve never gone sky diving, I’ve never climbed a super tall mountain, whatever. But how could any of that compare to what must be such an intoxicating feeling of connection, power, talent, love and harmony?
At some point, I assume, a rock star gets used to or perhaps even jaded by the experience, but in our hypothetical I only get a week of it so that won’t be me.
If you’re the host, have more beer and food than you’ll need. It sucks having tons of leftovers, but you should absolutely send people home with stuff if you can, and you’ll never completely nail the amounts so it’s far better to have too much than not enough.
The trick, as we’ll get to, is that your guests should add to your stash so if you aim at the bar they should help you clear it. But that requires knowing who you’re inviting, and their tendencies.
Have a good playlist, appropriate for the crowd and occasion. This can be vastly different depending on your event. On Spotify, I have one playlist full of 90s rap, and another full of more poppy and soft stuff. We’ve played both and had great nights.
If your dog is skittish like mine, consider boarding her for the day or night. Pick up, but don’t go crazy on cleaning. If you have a cleaning service, my stance is it’s better to have them in after the party. The place is going to get used and dirty, and if anyone is judging you for it not being spotless, they’re probably not a terrific party guest.
You can’t have too much bottled waters, or ice. Put food and drinks in different places so people don’t cluster too much. If you’re not inviting your neighbors, make sure they know about it.
For food: simple is good. Burgers, dogs, maybe some chicken. If you have a signature dish, go for it, but you’re not hosting a cooking show. Put a game on the TV, and if you have some yard games or basketball hoop or something cool. If not, that’s cool too.
If you’re a guest, bring something. Ask what you can bring, and if they say nothing, bring a bottle of wine or some beer or a bag of chips or cookies or something.
If you’re bringing kids, make sure you have an in-case-of-emergency-break-glass way of entertaining them. For mine, that’s snacks and matchbox cars.
Don’t corner someone for a long conversation, and this is doubly true if that someone is the host. Don’t talk politics, unless you’re sure that’s what everyone else wants to talk about, in which case that sounds like a bad party.
Like anything else in this world, it depends on the particulars. Depends on the player, coach, GM or owner, and it depends on the media outlet or reporter.
Dayton Moore has been open about the fact that he reads every word that’s written about the Royals in the Star. He’s said he considers it part of his job to know what his fans are reading, and we’ve talked enough that I know he keeps up with the Chiefs and other area sports through the paper.
That’s a different thing than having direct influence. I do believe Moore can be affected by what’s in the paper, the same way any of us would be affected by reading about something we put our lives into. But I think your question implies someone making a tangible decision because of something in the paper, and I don’t think Moore has ever done that.
I do hear stories, however, of the Royals changing philosophies or making decisions based on the newspaper before I started covering them.
I’m telling you, the pre-2006 David Glass years are underrated in terms of entertainment value.
I’m guessing you’re asking this question because of the Chiefs, and what they’re doing right now. Their PR department reads everything, including tweets. They are remarkable in their scope of consumption. A member of Chiefs PR is, I’m guessing, among the first thousand people to read every piece of Chiefs news or column we have on our website. I’ll receive texts responding to tweets within seconds.
They really are remarkable this way.
But, again, you’re asking about influence, and my answer is the same as with Moore: none.
Some of them read it, some of them don’t. Some of them say they don’t and they do, and some of them say they do and they don’t. Really, that would describe any subset of Kansas City. But they are aware of it.
What happens more often is a reaction. I remember writing a column that said if the Royals were really going to refuse to try Luke Hochevar in the bullpen, they should cut him, because he’s not helping as a starter.
“Hey,” Alex Gordon said the next day, “all of us really liked your piece.”
He was being sarcastic, and then much of the team mean-mugged and pointed at me during BP. This is far too much of a blanket statement, but in general, football players seem to be more reactive than baseball.
Maybe it’s the nature of the sports, that football players seek outside motivation more than baseball players, who need as clear a mind as possible. Maybe it’s a week between games, instead of 21 hours. I don’t know.
But it’s something I’ve noticed.
And college coaches, for the most part, seem to read everything. Or at least know about everything that’s written. I’ve always thought that’s because public perception is a bigger part of their job than it is at the professional level. That’s one man’s guess.
I think part of it is we don’t have a good name for it. The flat? That’s an apartment in London. Not the more delicious piece of a wing.
But more of it is that it’s really messy. There’s no delicate way to eat a flat. You have to get in there and get messy, move the meat around a little bit. Your teeth are going to hit the bone at some point, and even if you do the slide right, you still have to deal with that joint at the end.
I get it. Drummies are accessible, simple, clean. Easy to dip. There’s a reason they’re always the first pieces to go in a bucket of fried chicken.
I like it this way, actually. The flats are objectively more delicious, and once you get past a little mess, you learn they’re easier to dip.*
* Blue cheese forever.
I like to think that God did this on purpose. He created the drummie to make wings accessible, and to encourage those who might otherwise be hesitant to give one of His greatest creations a chance.
But in His infinite wisdom, He also provided a more hidden secret, off-putting to the newbies, a delicacy and the true jackpot of the wing experience for us connoisseurs.
It’s the perfect food in so many different ways, when you think about it.
We are living through one of the greatest points of collective professional sports performance in Kansas City history. All three teams are objectively successful right now.
The Royals might have the most uncertain future, and they’re the one who gave Kansas City a parade less than two years and have Sal Perez and Danny Duffy locked up long-term.
What I’m trying to say here is that as good as it is right now, 2012 isn’t that far away, either, so this is not something you should tread into lightly.
My philosophy on this, however, is to let the kids think it’s their idea. Never tell them they have to root for a certain team. But buy them a shirt, take them to a game, bring it up every once in a while but not too much.
In our house, we are in the beginning stages of altering the TV rules. J.B. is too young for TV, but Sammy gets two shows a day. Ideally, we burn these at key moments: bribing him to eat breakfast, or distracting him from a freakout. But additionally, I’ve started to tell him that sports don’t count, so if he wants to watch baseball or soccer, we can do that too.
It’s coming along, slowly.
One related point: our TV is, basically, always on Fox Sports KC. Basically the only thing we watch live is games. Everything else is DVR or Netflix. As you may know, Fox Sports KC airs tons of Royals and Sporting KC games. As you may or may not know, seemingly most of the rest of the station’s programming is UFC.
That means I’m always a combination of nervous laughter and counterproductively hurrying as my 3-year-old watches a few seconds of two people beating the bejeezus out of each other before I can switch to an episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines on DVR.
Whit Merrifield is a better player than the Royals (or other scouts, to be honest) anticipated, and you can see why. He’s not particularly “toolsy,” in scout parlance — never hit more than nine homers in a minor league season, and plays a fine but unspectacular second base.
His .745 OPS in 146 big league games is actually higher than his .736 OPS in 725 minor league games. He’s 28 years old. Projecting his future is more difficult than most, but you’d have to say he’s an important part of the Royals’ next few years.
Twenty-one men have played big league games for the Royals this year and are under club control through at least 2020. Most prominently, that group includes Danny Duffy, Sal Perez, Jorge Soler, Raul Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, Matt Strahm, Jorge Bonifacio and Merrifield. You can add Ian Kennedy, if he doesn’t opt out of his contract.
It’s a difficult push and pull, because at this point, the minor league system could use a few rotten years from the big league team to restock. But the Royals have collectively made a decision that they don’t want the wild swings in the standings, that they’d rather try to consistently compete.
Some of that is personal, because it’s how Dayton Moore was raised in the game in Atlanta. Some of it is business, because some in the organization are afraid of losing many of the fans they’ve gained the last few years if they have a 93-loss season.
It’s ambitious, and I believe impossible over a long period in a small market, but it does make for better columns. So there’s that.
The Royals could use some more arms, particularly in the rotation, but you know what? If you look at that core for the next four years or so, hey, they could do a lot worse.
I happen to like the All-Star game. It is, by far, the best major American professional All-Star game, although I also believe MLS has an interesting thing going by having its All-Stars play a major European club.
I enjoy the spectacle of the game. I enjoy watching nothing but the best against the best, and even seeing some faces I’m not familiar with, especially in the National League.
I didn’t mind the game deciding home field advantage, which I know puts me in the minority. They’re now doing it by the regular season record of the pennant winners. I happen to believe the fairest way to do it would be the overall record in interleague play, but whatever, I don’t have enough outrage in me to waste on something like this.
You only get to see something like the All-Star game once a year. To have the chance of Clayton Kershaw against Aaron Judge, and then Chris Sale against Bryce Harper in the same game.
If you’re not into that, fine, I understand.
But, tell me this: what else are you going to watch that night?
Thanks, as always, for reading. This week I’m particularly grateful for the chance to watch Sammy walk down the aisle as a ring bearer in my cousin’s wedding, and especially for watching him dance for literally four hours straight at the reception, with two quick breaks — one for the bathroom, the other for late-night pizza. It was my favorite night with him in his three-plus years, and something my wife and I will never forget.
I’m also grateful for so many of you playing along with me here, and responding with what you’re grateful for — either in the comments here, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Facebook or Twitter. It’s something I truly look forward to each day.