No result is absolute, and that’s as true in sports as it is in life. Your kids may wake up in a great mood today, and scream at you tomorrow. You may breeze into work hitting every green light today, and get backed up because of a wreck tomorrow.
Also, hard as this may be to believe right now, the Chiefs may have lost to the Steelers on Sunday and may still beat them in January.
Look, we all see the problem here. The Chiefs cannot stop Le’Veon Bell. He is averaging a cool 174.5 yards on 31 carries in these last two games against the Chiefs, and that’s a problem.
But Bell’s highlights have seemingly allowed a lot of Chiefs fans to forget these two losses are much more on the offense than the defense. Because for all of Bell’s success, the Steelers still scored 18 and 19 points in those games. The offense needs to make that stand up.
And here’s the thing: I believe they can.
The Steelers are an awkward matchup for the Chiefs. They have a good defense, but not a particularly fast one. They make up for that with strength, and with smarts. Their coaches have out-schemed the Chiefs’ coaches, but even with all that the Chiefs would’ve won on Sunday with even a C-minus effort.
If Alex Smith doesn’t miss so many passes, if the interior of the offensive line (which should be healthier in January) stands up better, if Kareem Hunt is a bigger part of the game plan, if Zach Fulton doesn’t snap it into the stands … we can go on and on with this stuff.
The Chiefs got punched on Sunday, and didn’t do anything about it until it was too late. They should be embarrassed, they should be motivated, they should be all of those things.
But there’s nothing in that game, to me, that makes a potential outcome in January guaranteed any more than I’d be sitting here telling you the Chiefs will beat the Steelers in the playoffs if they’d have won on Sunday.
If I did this right, the last three postseasons have included 21 non-divisional rematches from the regular season. The team that won the first game is 15-6 in the rematch, which seems like a big number until you consider the context.
Many of the rematches are like the Patriots and Texans from last year, or the Seahawks and Vikings or Chiefs and Texans in 2015, or the Patriots and Colts in 2014. Mismatches, in other words.
The games that went the other way were the games in which the teams were more evenly matched. The Falcons lost to the Seahawks by two in the regular season last year, then won in the playoffs, for instance.
No sport promotes overreaction like football, and there is no doubt that the Chiefs have some things to fix before a potential playoff rematch with the Steelers. But they’re not that far off.
Also: they’re 5-1.
This week’s eating recommendation is the cheeseburger at Brown and Loe, and the reading recommendation is the Guardian on how scientists are persuading terrorists to spill their secrets.
You hear me say sometimes that two seemingly conflicting things can be true at the same time, and I know that’s a rotten way to be a sports columnist in 2017, but I have to be real and have to point a few things out:
The Chiefs looked like crap on Sunday, and the Chiefs are (still) likely the best team in the league.
Losing that game doesn’t guarantee a loss in January any more than a win would have guaranteed a win in January, but there are some very real reasons to believe this particular matchup is for the Chiefs a little like fresh fish is for my 3 year old.
Makes him gag.
There is a thought that you can actually be encouraged here, because as bad as the Chiefs were — and they were terrible — they still had a chance to win at the end and, realistically, probably would have if Phil Gaines had made a relatively easy interception instead of the ball bouncing off his hands and into Antonio Brown’s for a touchdown.
To me, that’s hogwash, unless you needed proof that the Steelers weren’t unbeatable.
They are entirely beatable, and did many things out of their way to make themselves beatable on Sunday.
But I see this as even more frustrating. Some of this was in the game column, but the Steelers basically did only one thing well. They ran the ball well. Other than that, they left receivers open on defense, did some shockingly stupid things on special teams, and Ben Roethlisberger was not particularly sharp. Threw one unforced interception, and should’ve had a second.
To lose to that, especially at home, is not encouraging.
Now, all that said, I do think the Chiefs are still a very good team. One of the problems of following one team particularly closely is you can lose touch with what happens with other teams. You can forget that all teams have holes.
You can forget that the only other 5-1 team in the NFL lost to the Chiefs. You can forget that the Chiefs have played four teams that are currently in first place in their division and are 3-1.
You can forget that the Chiefs not only have the NFL’s best record, and best point differential, but that the teams they’ve played are 20-9 when not playing against the Chiefs.
You can forget that nobody has given up more points than the Patriots, and that the Steelers lost to the Bears, and that the Texans’ best two players are out for the year, and that Blake Bortles stinks, and that the Broncos just got rolled by the winless Giants at home.
And that’s just the AFC’s other first-place teams, plus the next-best team in the AFC West.
Right now it’s the offensive line, but long-term it’s the run defense.
This was the first game it felt like the injuries caught up to the Chiefs. We saw that in the pass game, without Chris Conley and Albert Wilson, we saw it after Charcandrick West went out with a concussion, we saw it with Justin Houston slowed*, and we especially saw it with the interior of the offensive line.
*This is A Thing. I watched him a lot on Sunday, and he was not moving around the way we’ve all come to expect. He was a step slower than Steelers tight end Vance McDonald on the play that got them out of their own end zone’s shadow, and generally looked a little slow and a lot uncomfortable. I talked to him after the game, and he sidestepped questions about his health — “nobody’s 100 percent after the first two games,” he said — but his talent and history demand that we keep this in mind.
The Chiefs just had nothing for the Steelers’ defensive line, which is part — but only part — of why I hated the third-down call that preceded the fourth-down call that a lot of you hated. But more on that in a minute.
The Chiefs are playing backups at all three interior line positions, including one who they traded for just before the start of the season.
And it showed.
Alex Smith was not good on Sunday, but if you wanted to defend his performance, you would focus on the true fact that he played most of the afternoon with a defender in his lap (or crashing into the back of his knees). Kareem Hunt had no room on run plays, and the Chiefs couldn’t even get much rhythm on the timing and screen stuff they run so often.
But, assuming center Mitch Morse and guards Parker Ehinger and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif return and soon, those problems should take care of themselves.
Long-term, I just don’t know what fix there is for the run defense. Derrick Johnson is the team’s most important run defender, and he doesn’t look the same as he did before his second Achilles rupture. I don’t know if he rushed the recovery, or it’s the accumulation of a second injury, or just the aging process, or a combination, but he’s certainly not the force he was in 2015 and half of 2016.
We talked some about this in the Insta-reaction, but some of the problems with the run defense are philosophical. Bob Sutton, the defensive coordinator, has essentially made a deal that he’s OK giving up run yards across most of the field in exchange for focusing on the pass before tightening up in the red zone.
If we’re honest, even in the shadow of another Le’Veon Bell highlight tape, the strategy works most of the time.
Seth Keysor pointed out an interesting factor here, too, that much of the Chiefs’ problems against the run have come with just two defensive linemen. That’s part of that philosophical approach: focusing on the pass, even if it means sacrificing some run.
I don’t think any one game is worth overreacting to, particularly not from a 5-1 team in October, but I also believe it’s pretty clear the Chiefs should try something different if they face the Steelers again in January.
We’ll disagree about whether fans in Kansas City complain about Sutton.
And some of the complaints I agree with, whatever that’s worth. I don’t understand why Marcus Peters plays off the line of scrimmage as much as he does*, or why Justin Houston was in coverage as much as he was on Sunday**.
*Unless I’m right that he’s playing through an injury. It would explain some of the positioning, and some of the problems tackling. He’s never been a great tackler, but he’s always been a willing tackler. If he’s playing through something, that’s the most logical explanation.
**Part of what I’ll look at when I watch the game again this week is to try to figure out whether he was dropping into coverage because of something the Steelers were doing, or because it was Sutton’s plan all along. To be clear: Houston has always, and should at times, drop. He’s good at it, for one, and you never want to be predictable. But it did seem to be happening more than usual on Sunday.
I also think Sutton could do a better job disguising blitzes, and coming up with creative blitzes. I don’t think he does a good enough job putting a talented group of defensive linemen in position to make game changing plays.
But let’s also be honest about what he’s working with. Eric Berry’s injury made a lot of people freak out about how the Chiefs would cover tight ends, but the biggest impact was always going to be against the run. Berry is a terrific run defender, and freakishly versatile.
They’re also down their No. 2 cornerback, and playing with spare parts opposite a diminished Derrick Johnson at middle linebacker. If Houston isn’t at full strength, it’s just a lot to expect of this defense to be great.
Also, I hope we can all agree on this: in January the Chiefs’ defense gave up zero touchdowns and just 18 points, and on Sunday the team gave up 19 which included a safety by the offense and a fluky deflection for a touchdown when they were on the field waaaaaayyyyyyyyy more than they should’ve.
That has to be enough to win. Nine times out of 10, the Chiefs’ offense should be good enough to be 2-0 with those efforts from the defense.
Sutton has some things to clean up, no question about it.
But this loss, and the one in January, are both on the offense.
Results are all that matter in sports. I get that. Terry Collins letting Matt Harvey pitch the ninth inning in Game 5 didn’t make the Royals’ parade any less fun, and Memphis gagging at the free-throw line didn’t make Mario Chalmers’ shot any less sweet for KU fans.
But I do think we can go overboard if we treat these results against the Steelers as absolute.
And I say that even with the obvious acknowledgment that the Chiefs need to be better.
They were a weird holding penalty away from (at least) overtime in January, and a D-minus effort on Sunday still put them in position to win with 2 minutes left.
The Chiefs are flawed, and will need to play well to advance in the playoffs. But the other 31 teams in the NFL that have not been as good as the Chiefs so far are flawed, too.
We talked about this on the Border Patrol, and I do hope you’ll listen to it, but here is the clearest way I know to describe that fourth-down play:
By NFL rule, it was clearly not a catch and absolutely would not have been overturned on replay. But the NFL rule is dumb, because I think that play should be a catch.
I know the focus of a lot of you is on that fourth-down decision — and Vahe wrote a reliably thoughtful piece on it here — but to me the bigger problem was the third-down call that preceded it.
I’ve watched that sequence three times already, and I just don’t get it. Reid said after the game he knew it was four-down territory there all along, but if that’s true, why the hell would he call a run up the middle on third and 3?
Even when healthy, the interior of the Chiefs’ line isn’t great at pushing forward on short yardage runs. There was nothing in the first 48 minutes or so of that game to suggest a run up the middle in the red zone would go anywhere.
If you know you’re going to take two shots at it, why not try to stretch a physical but relatively slow defense to the sidelines? RPO shovel pass, or even a screen, or pitch. Something. Running up the middle there and expecting anything but fourth down was just unrealistically optimistic.
But, whatever. I’m just a moron with a keyboard.
This is absolutely something that will hang around the Chiefs for years, and I don’t mean that as a negative. No matter what, that decision will be revisited. That will be true if Patrick Mahomes turns into a Hall of Famer and if Deshaun Watson turns into a pumpkin, and it’ll certainly be true if Watson turns into a great quarterback no matter what Mahomes does.
Whatever it’s worth, I liked both of them in the draft. Liked both of them more than Mitch Trubisky, who went second overall. I liked Watson a little more than Mahomes, because of what he did against better competition, and the competitiveness he showed, and beating Alabama the way he did on the biggest stage and most pressure that college football can provide.
I’ve always thought we tend to overrate physical stuff with quarterbacks. At a certain point, you’re talented enough to do it, but the mental and emotional part of the equation determines whether you’re able to.
So after seeing the difference in the “classroom,” I switched to a slight lean toward Mahomes.
But, again. I thought and still think both will be very good quarterbacks.
Your question is about whether the Chiefs whiffed, though, and if I’m right about both guys — stop laughing! — then Mahomes would be doing the same stuff Watson is now and we’d be wondering whether the Chiefs whiffed by taking Watson instead of Mahomes.
So there’s no way to make even an educated guess about this until we see Mahomes play, and no way to make even an educated opinion about it until we see Mahomes play a few years.
But this is absolutely going to be the Chiefs’ version of Christian Colon Over Chris Sale, in terms of a draft decision we talk about all the time.
It’s just too early to say whether the guy they passed over is better than the guy they took.
I’m actually going to miss the game on Sunday. My sister lives in Oakland, so the family is flying out and we’re going to hang out this weekend after the game. Flying back Sunday, and as much as I’d love to watch Michael Porter in a “competitive” environment, I’m not going to break my flight to do it.
And, the more I think about it, honestly, the more that’s what I come back to: the most intriguing part of the game to me isn’t necessarily the rivalry, but the possible No. 1 overall pick finally playing against good college competition.
The rivalry part of it has the potential to be interesting. None of these kids — even Porter, who I know has been talking to his teammates about it — has lived the rivalry. So they’re going in cold, and I just don’t know how you duplicate the intensity of the last time these two teams played — one of the great college games in the last decade — with an exhibition.
My guess is the actual game is sloppy, and competitive relative to most pickup games, but still. A pickup game. The intensity will probably grow as the game goes on, because these are basketball players, and there will likely be somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 screaming fans watching, but no matter how much we talk about a rivalry it just won’t be a real game.
But, yeah. I’d pay $10 to watch it at home.
I would not pay $200 to watch courtside, except with the idea that the money is going to a good cause.
The best way I know to cope with the USMNT missing the World Cup for the first time since America began to treat soccer as anything more than a kid’s exercise between orange slices is to view it as an opportunity.
Let’s all agree that we would rather make the World Cup, and that looking at the opportunity is a bit like watching your house burn down and then telling people that at least you can have that kitchen remodel when you rebuild.
I want to co-sign everything Grant Wahl writes here, from how ridiculous it is that the USMNT presidency is a volunteer position to being frustrated that Sunil Gulati is a) not resigning immediately, b) planning on running for re-election, and c) likely to win because there are no viable alternatives.
If we can’t do better than this, then we don’t deserve to make the next World Cup, either.
But no matter how the election shakes out, I hope the embarrassment of missing the World Cup expedites some real change to soccer in America.
And I’m not just talking about at the highest level, where the coaching hires have missed, and the player selections are often baffling. I’m talking mostly in the lower levels, where the balance is so far tilted for profit over development that it’s crippling the higher levels.
The goal for elite players should not merely be a college scholarship, and the best choice for the absolute best players should no longer be overseas.
Christian Pulisic should be able to develop here, is what I’m saying.
Youth soccer is pay-for-play to a degree that blocks out too many kids from opportunities. This is not a call for “better athletes,” because the notion that we could just throw LeBron in goal and Antonio Brown at striker (or whoever, wherever) and beat the Germans is as wrong as it is outdated.
We don’t have an athlete problem. We have a skill problem, and a creativity problem. We have some good players, but not nearly enough, and more importantly not the infrastructure in place to support them.
That’s what has to change. If I was in my right mind, I’d be highly skeptical about whether the shame of missing a World Cup will do anything to change a program caused by culture, greed, an inertia.
But I’m not in my right mind. I’m in the mind to hope, at least until Gulati is re-elected and talks about how much better American soccer is now than 30 years ago as some great accomplishment.
As for Sporting, well, yeah. There is no excuse for not scoring any of those chances the other day against Houston — I dig Latif Blessing, but come the hell on — which is actually a fitting way for Kansas City to get into the playoffs.
Sporting’s MLS season has basically been defined by four things:
I do believe in all the logic behind the Dwyer sale, but starting the playoffs without Melia and with so many missed scoring opportunities is about where this team deserves to be, all things considered.
I think you mean last game at Children’s Mercy Park, and for the sake of this question, let’s assume the list of breaks Sporting would need to host a playoff game do not happen.
The question then, basically, is will Vermes be the new USMNT coach?
The answer: I hope so.
I have no way of knowing the politics involved in any of this. I do not know whether Gulati would be biased to promote a coach from the league he was such a big part of for so long, or whether that would be seen as too parochial.
But the more I think about and read about the problems with the national team and soccer in general here, the more I think Vermes is the right fit.
He is insanely organized, and has proven himself adept at creating a harmonic system from youth to pros. He has a terrific eye for talent, and his best strength may be the ability to alter the system around the players.
That last point, to me, is one of the most misunderstood parts of Vermes. People watch him regularly lose his mind on the sideline, and put referees on blast, and tend to think of him as a bully, or inflexible, too stubborn to change for anyone. But if you watch how Sporting plays now, and compare it to, say, three years ago, I think you see some drastic differences.
They are much more about the build-up now, where it used to be based on the counter. They used to be about high pressure and quick striking for goals, but now typically play more defensive with higher possession. That shift was gradual, and happened as the personnel on the roster changed.
Sporting hasn’t been the best team in MLS, but the teams ahead all have a significant financial advantage. There’s an easy case to be made that how Vermes operates Sporting is a much better prep class to running the USMNT than if he was working for the Sounders or Galaxy.
It’s all in here. He knows talent, is able to shift a system around that talent’s strength, has proven the ability to win consistently on a budget while multitasking the infrastructure of lower levels.
This would be a personal project for him, and not that anyone has ever questioned his commitment, but nobody would work hard or turn over more rocks to get American soccer closer to where it should be.
Selfishly, for Kansas City, I hope Vermes stays.
But without knowing the other candidates the way I do Vermes, I’d need to be convinced there’s someone better.
For the first time in years, the most important decisions for the Royals’ offseason will not be made by Dayton Moore.
If Hosmer makes the unlikely but possible decision to return to Kansas City, the Royals will try to move heaven and earth and also Joakim Soria and others to build the best possible team around him.
They’d have to eat money — not just with Soria, but with Jason Hammel, Brandon Moss, maybe Ian Kennedy — but the Royals would view it as worth a try. Maybe they could get into the playoffs, even if they needed one more round of Wild Card magic.
But if Hosmer leaves, you’re not going to be impressed with the rest of the offseason. The Royals are probably going to sit back, fill holes on the cheap where they can, and give a group that would still have Sal Perez, Danny Duffy, Whit Merrifield and others a chance to be the 2018 version of the 2017 Twins.
But if that wasn’t working by July 31, I believe the Royals would seriously consider embracing a bigger rebuild, even if it meant dealing their most valuable assets in a time when the draft rules have discouraged tanking.
So, to answer your question, I think it might be a few years.
The reason for hope going forward isn’t what Mizzou has done the last two weeks as much as it is who they’ll play the last six games:
Idaho is 1-4 against FBS competition, and currently 103rd in scoring.
Connecticut is 1-4 against FBS competition, and currently 124th in points allowed.
Florida is 3-3, and their schedule has been difficult, but they’ve lost at home the last two weeks.
Tennessee is 2-3 against FBS competition, and everybody in the state wants Butch Jones fired.
Vanderbilt is 2-4 against FBS competition, and has been outscored 199-73 in four games since beating K-State.
Arkansas is 1-4 against FBS competition, and has lost three games by 21 or more.
There is some encouragement in the last two weeks, I guess. Being competitive beats the alternative, but Mizzou is too good of a program to be counting progress that way.
After the loss at Georgia on Saturday, Mizzou coach Barry Odom talked about how Georgia was exactly the program he wanted to build at MU, from gameday atmosphere to the roster and it was hard not to think, “Yeah, well, why don’t you worry about getting on Kentucky’s level first.”
But the last half of the schedule is Odom’s chance to show some progress. The good part is that the players haven’t quit on him, which was very much in doubt after the Purdue loss.
The bad part is that if Mizzou can’t be competitive over these last six games then there is no reason to be hopeful about the future.
A list! Sure, let’s do it:
C: Salvador Perez. I’ll take the easy answers where I can get them.
1B: Eric Hosmer. Royals fans of a certain age might push for John Mayberry, and I’m actually quite sympathetic to the argument. Mayberry has more homers, and a higher OPS. But I’m going with Hosmer for the defense, and everything else that’s going to make him a very, very rich man this winter.*
*Just to be clear: the $200 million figure is from a National Executive, guessing what Boras will want. My guess is he’ll end up getting six years and $140 million.
2B: Frank White. There’s actually an interesting Hall of Fame case for Frank and his eight Gold Gloves. It’s not a case I make, but it’s an interesting case.
3B: George Brett. I believe he had one of the best 30 or so big-league careers of all-time, but was surprised that he’s just fifth all-time in WAR according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. B-R has him behind Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Adrian Beltre (!), and Wade Boggs. FanGraphs has him behind A-Rod, Schmidt, Mathews, and Boggs.
SS: Freddie Patek. I’m not old enough to have seen Patek play or to compare him to Alcides Escobar. I’m basically letting longevity WAR (20.3 to 9.8 on B-R, and 17 to 10.7 on FanGraphs) make the decision here because it’s striking how otherwise similar their careers are. Patek slashed .241/.309/.321 for a 78 OPS+ with the Royals, and Escobar is at .262/.293/.348 for a 74 OPS+. I would’ve assumed Escobar would have an edge defensively, even as I believe he’s declined the last two years and has generally been a very good but overrated defensive player in Kansas City.
LF: Bo Jackson. This is my team and I’ll do what I want, but if you prefer logic and performance over awesomeness and Heismans, then, sure. Alex Gordon, with a sneaky great argument available for Willie Wilson.
CF: Amos Otis. This is the hardest call on the board. I believe Lorenzo Cain in 2015 was better than any Royals center fielder has ever been, and I know some of you just screamed CARLOS BELTRAN YOU DUMMY so let me explain as best I can.
Beltran was breathtaking, and there is no way to argue against what he did with the Royals. But if you put the offensive production into the context of baseball at the time, Cain’s 2015 numbers (.838 OPS, 101 runs, 56 extra base hits, 125 OPS+) are generally in line with Beltran’s best offensive season (.911 OPS, 102 runs, 50 extra base hits, 132 OPS+ in 2003). But Cain was an otherworldly defender that year, better even than Beltran at his best, and if nothing else gets the edge for what he did in the postseason.
But, all that said, Otis did it for 14 years for the Royals, and it wasn’t until he retired that Wilson became the center fielder. Wilson’s best years — particularly his absurd 1980 when he led the league in triples, hits, and runs while stealing 79 bases — came as a left fielder.
So, Otis it is.
RF: Cain. I know! I’m totally cheating! But Danny Tartabull is probably the best primary right fielder to play for the Royals, depending on what you think of Al Cowens or Jermaine Dye, and if I’m picking from all the available humans in their years with the Royals I’d rather have Cain in right than any of those three.
DH: Mike Sweeney. He’s second to George Brett all-time in homers, batting, on-base, and depending on where you set the minimum plate appearances, first all-time in slugging. With a back that worked, he’d have had a chance at some Brett-like offensive numbers.
SP1: Bret Saberhagen. Two Cy Youngs, and the 1985 playoffs.
SP2: Kevin Appier. One of the most underrated players in franchise history.
SP3: Zack Greinke. I believe his 2009 to be the greatest individual pitching season in franchise history.
SP4: Dennis Leonard: The ace of the 1977 team, which is no worse than the third-best team in franchise history.
SP5: Paul Splittorff: All-time leader in innings and wins, gone too soon.
C: Wade Davis. Actually, this might be the hardest call on the board. Dan Quisenberry had the best career, Jeff Montgomery the most saves, and Greg Holland has his own compelling argument. But I’ve just never been so certain about an outcome as when Davis came in for a save.
Hard G. Like me.
The one good thing about Texas having a freshman quarterback named Sam Ehlinger is that he is, too, a hard g. So maybe it’ll catch on, and the jer crowd can go kick rocks.
Actually, I can’t even pretend to really care about the mispronouncing. My own grandpa — mom’s side, but still — said Mellin-jer. I don’t even notice when it’s mispronounced, but it does make me self-conscious about pronouncing, literally, anyone else’s name.
Our older son is 3 1/2 , so this is the first year he’s really been able to tell us what he wants to be. He sort of did it last year, but even then kept going back and forth between a cowboy and a firetruck and anything else that he saw in the last 10 seconds.
But this year, goodness, kid is locked in on being a garbage man. He’s a little shy, so he doesn’t always answer questions from adults, but there is a 100 percent return rate from someone asking him about Halloween and him borderline yelling at them that he wants to be a garbage man.
So, kid’s going to be a garbage man, and that garbage can is going to come in handy for the candy.
The 1 year old is going to be a golfer, just because these plastic clubs seem to be his favorite toy.
My sister’s family does the theme thing. Maybe we’ll get into that at some point. My favorite was when their toddler dressed as a pirate and his dad was a parrot.
My wife and I always joke about the line every new parent hears, constantly, about “every baby’s different.” Like, you can ask a parent or a friend or a doctor virtually any question and that’s how the answer ends.
Most kids need oxygen and sustenance to survive and will grow up to say funny things, but, you know, every baby’s different.
It’s annoying, but dangit, it’s also true.
I’ll say one thing. With us, the biggest problem we’ve had is going into the room too early. We’ll hear the crying and be fooled, mistaking a whine for something serious, and next thing you know you’re reading stories and singing songs for an hour when the kid would’ve been sleeping in 10 minutes.
There is nothing more aggravating than this, by the way. Sleep deprivation is literally a form of torture and every baby does it to every parent. You get angry, but there is less than nothing you can do about it. Babies cry in the middle of the night, and parents wear it.
Two things I believe in my heart about this, though. The first is along the lines of the best parental advice I ever heard: enjoy changing the diapers. Because if you can find a way to make the middle of the night enjoyable, you really may be able to find a way to make anything enjoyable.
It really can be great, too, in the right circumstance. There is no better feeling than being able to calm a crying baby, and no better sleep than the sleep you sleep with a sleeping baby on your chest.
The second is that you just have to get a feel for when you’re needed. One mistake we made with our first kid was keeping the monitor on constantly, and going in his room too fast. You end up overreacting to every little noise, and forgetting that sometimes kids scream, and there’s nothing wrong, and they just need to cry it out.
Fifteen minutes seems to be the threshold with both our kids. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve been at minute 12, 13, even 14, and one of us is ready to go in there but when the clock strikes minute 15 he’s asleep.
Crying it out works. You just have to trust that nothing is seriously wrong, they’re not in pain, not in danger.
But, you know. Every baby’s different.
This week, I’m particularly grateful for the fall. This is absolutely the best time of year in Kansas City, and probably not coincidentally, by far my favorite time of year. The weather cools, the colors change, the football’s on, the baseball playoffs are here, and it’s the one time of year you might be able to comfortably grill out and have a fire in the fireplace in the same week (sometimes even the same night).