You might have seen enough of these New Year’s retrospectives already, and if so, that’s cool. These tend to be a little self-obsessed. I get it. Move on, no hard feelings, because fair warning: the words between here and the reading recommendation are going to be a little self-obsessed.
In a lot of ways this was the best year of my life. My wife and I watched our baby take his first steps, our toddler start preschool, and both of them make friends. We traveled to both coasts, watched the boys ride a boat for the first time, and got through the tests and sleep deprivation that young kids bring stronger for the wear.
I’m about to hit eight years in the same job, and still enjoy it, still find the challenges stimulating, and am still motivated to find better ways to do it. For most of the last few years, my New Year’s resolution has been a better work-life balance. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m closer than before.
I’m married to a woman that makes me laugh every day, and a father to boys who make me proud every day. We have friends, family, and a house we don’t ever want to leave. There is — and I mean this literally — not one day that goes by when I don’t appreciate how good I have it.
Of course, in one forever way, this was a heartbreaking year. My mom died in her sleep in May, very unexpectedly. We talked that day, about a trip we were about to take, and about plans for another visit. When I hung up the phone I’d have told you she’d live another 15 years. The next day, I was on a plane to her house to help however I could.
I think about her every day, but by now, it almost always makes me smile. She lived a good life. She was proud of us, and of her grandchildren, with a supportive and loving husband, and interests that kept her busy and fulfilled. We should all be so lucky.
One of my earliest memories was a white Christmas. I guess I wasn’t into it as much as I should’ve been, and I know I wasn’t into it as much as mom. She beamed. “You don’t know if you’ll ever see one again!” That image stayed with me, and I swear it shaped me. Be grateful. Think about what you have, not just what you don’t. Celebrate successes, embrace joy, because otherwise you’ll be ground down by the other stuff.
The night of Christmas Eve, our 1 year old was up, crying with a fever and a nose that looked like something out of “Ghostbusters.” I brought him downstairs around 4 in the morning, a little worried, a little annoyed — and a lot tired. We got to the bottom of the stairs, and I gasped, filled with pride, and of course thought about mom.
A white Christmas.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see one again, you know.
This year, I want to do all the things I usually want to do in a year. Make memories with my wife. Watch our kids grow. See friends. Do great work. Chase the perfect work-life balance. Work out more consistently, including at least one half-marathon.
But I also know these are different forms of the same guiding principle, one mom would understand: make the most of the time we have.
I don’t mean that in a “nobody’s guaranteed tomorrow” sort of way. I just mean that when people are lucky enough to live long lives and know when the end is near, you never hear them grateful they spent an hour down a Buzzfeed rabbit hole, or staring at Twitter, or letting grievances boil.
Our lives are what we make them, you know? Nothing less, and nothing more. My mom made a lot of hers, and chances are someone who’s no longer in your life did the same.
I believe in my heart that we can make them proud with the way we live the lives we have left. Cheers to a new year.
OK, let’s get on with it.
Pretty much, yeah.
For most of the year, Terez has had this running joke where he impersonates Andy Reid going to Mahomes as the starting quarterback:
“Listen, this has nothing to do with how we feel about Alex … ”
It’s a great bit, but here I am telling you that going to Mahomes in 2018 is not a knock on Alex Smith.
Smith has been great this season. He was atrocious for two games, the losses to the Giants and Bills, but has otherwise been so efficient and effective that he still leads the league in passer rating.
You can make your Captain Checkdown jokes, but he has 38 passes of more than 25 yards this season. Tom Brady and Drew Brees have 39 each. They’re the only ones with more, and they each threw three more interceptions than Smith.
Smith has been great, is what I’m trying to say here. Not good. Great. He’s been the best version of himself, even making plays outside the pocket, staying dangerous with his legs, and doing a million subtle things to help the Chiefs have one of the most productive offenses in the league.
But, barring something truly drastic, Mahomes has to be the guy in 2018.
I mentioned this on the A-Team show, but going with a 22 year old in his first full season will mean the Chiefs offense goes backward in some important ways. They’re not going to challenge the NFL record for fewest turnovers, for instance.
But they’re also going to be more dangerous, because as good as Mahomes was against the Broncos — and he really was damn good — it’s no small thing that he was playing without Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, most of the starting offensive line, and Kareem Hunt for all but five snaps against a good and accomplished defense.
To review: he’ll have eight more months, including a full offseason as the No. 1 quarterback, and legitimate weapons we still haven’t seen him play with.
I mean, you guys. I literally do not understand how you could not be excited about this talent.
If you need a tiebreaker in Mahomes vs. Smith, $17 million in salary cap space is more than enough. That can buy a lot. That could buy another cornerback, an edge rusher, a defensive lineman, maybe even more offensive line depth.
And you’ll be selling high on Smith. Maybe you can get a second-round pick. The Chiefs will need picks.
For the last five years, I’ve been more positive on Smith than most Chiefs fans, I think. He’s one of the most impressive men I’ve met in 17 years covering sports at The Star. Much of his value has always been in subtleties, and I believe that’ll show up next year if he’s replaced by an insanely talented but still very raw kid.
But I just don’t know how to argue the Chiefs wouldn’t be better off with the extra cap space, the draft pick, and the talent. Mahomes changes everything, most of it for the better.
Some of these throws are just absurd. The one at the 2:45 mark of this video made me lose my mind. I can only describe my reaction in the press box as “unprofessional,” and I want to thank Broncos PR for not dropping a “no cheering in the press box” on me.
But it wasn’t just the highlights. Andy Reid is the kind of man who could look at the Sistine Chapel and say, “Eh, look, Michelangelo did a nice job on that ceiling,” and he was downright effusive in his praise of Mahomes.
He talked about “complete command,” and that the complicated verbiage of the offense didn’t bother him at all.
Mahomes threw the one interception, and it was a terrible throw, way overthrown directly to the safety on a play where his receiver was open. He also made an awful decision on the last drive, throwing a prayer downfield to Demetrius Harris on first down, a ball that needed to be perfect to have any chance and should’ve been intercepted.
We can nitpick some of his other throws, too. He had some misses, some other throws that were off target enough to hamper yards after the catch, stuff like that.
But, honestly, I had high expectations and he blew me away. Mostly, I expected Mahomes to be fooled. This is a good defense he was facing. A smart defense. Aggressive. Experienced. They played their starters, and they showed him a lot of blitzes and mixed coverages. They were trying to win.
And — this is where I pause to say I want to watch the all-22 to be more certain — I don’t think he was ever truly fooled. Actually, I remember him watching unblocked blitzers rush his way, knowing exactly when and how to get rid of the ball. He got the Chiefs into the right plays, got the ball to the right places.
I expected Mahomes to show some of the brilliance, even if I didn’t quite expect that throw at the 2:45 mark of the highlights.
But I also expected him to show a lot of rawness, and other than the really awful idea to Harris on that last drive, I didn’t see any of it.
He’s going to be a star, you guys.
It’s a good point, and something we should think about. I know I just said this, but I do think they’ll go backward in some important ways.
Alex Smith is a good quarterback. He’s smart, efficient, and knows this offense in a way that Mahomes may never match.
But the NFL moves fast, and the cold truth is that Mahomes’ talent and potential for growth means Smith is more valuable for the 2018 Chiefs as $17 million in cleared cap space and/or draft capital.
This is a harsh business. But it’s a business.
One thing I don’t think we talk enough about is that we’re all — me very much included — setting Mahomes up to fail.
The Chiefs’ history with quarterbacks is so sorry, and Mahomes is such a departure from what we’re used to, that it’s almost impossible not to get sucked into the potential. I’m all in, with both feet.
But he’s going to struggle. He’s going to throw some atrocious interceptions. He’s going to make the wrong read, or trust his arm too much, or just make a terrible throw when an average throw would’ve been fine.
It’s just, well, I believe it’s all going to be worth it. He really is special. Even by NFL standards, he’s exceptionally talented. At least three times in the postgame press conference Reid made some mention of Mahomes making a throw that few quarterbacks can make.
The Chiefs haven’t had a guy like that since, well, ever?
So, I actually think the Chiefs will be better off with Mahomes next year. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are such great fits for his talent. His improvisation makes some of the offensive line concerns a moot point.
I have no doubt that Mahomes will throw an interception or three next year that Smith wouldn’t. But I also think he’ll throw some touchdowns that Smith wouldn’t.
I can think of five plays Mahomes made off the top of my head that Smith wouldn’t have.
This is real, you guys, and …
… this is also real, you guys.
Look, I’ll say it: the Chiefs can’t lose to the Titans. They just can’t.
The Titans turn the ball over, Marcus Mariota just had a terrible season, and as much as I tried to trade for Derrick Henry in fantasy football this year, he’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The defense is OK, but they can be had with the pass, and like a lot of teams I’m not sure how they cover for Tyreek Hill’s speed and Travis Kelce’s athleticism.
As I type these words, the Chiefs are a 7 1/2 -point favorite. The last 11 teams to be favored by that many in a playoff game won.
I also know reading that fact probably makes you more nervous, not more confident, and that’s the problem with rooting for a team that’s working on nearly a half century of disappointing you.
The Kansas City in me can’t help but think of the last time the Titans came to Arrowhead. It was cold, the line couldn’t push, Alex Smith threw an awful interception, and Ryan Succop, of all people, missed a 53-yarder at the gun that would’ve won it.
But, that kick was nullified because Andy Reid called a timeout, trying to ice Succop.
And then Succop, of course, drilled the second chance and the Titans won.
How do you think something like that would go over?
If the Chiefs really want to get creative, it would be a nice touch if Mariota was injured and backup Matt Cassel came in to lead the winning drive.
But, seriously. I mean this:
The Chiefs can’t lose this game.
You know I always say this, but nobody can tell you how to be a fan. However you feel is however you’re supposed to feel, and not to get too deep here, but that’s as true with real-life stuff that matters as it is sports.
So, sure. If watching your team lose six of seven made you emotionally check out of the rest of the season, that’s all good.
But I’m guessing that for most people, that’s a coping mechanism, something they tell themselves, maybe even try to convince themselves … as they continue to watch the team, and think about Tyreek Hill’s speed, and Justin Houston’s (apparently still) healthy knees, and Marcus Peters’ finish, and the offensive line’s improvement, and sooner or later you’re coming up with scenarios that put the Chiefs in the Super Bowl*.
* The scenario linked above, tweeted by valued reader Matthew Brownfield, has the Chiefs playing the Ravens and not the Titans because it was done before this weekend’s games, but you get the point.
And that’s all good, too.
My view is that the losing streak would make it worse, not better, because with a rotten division and a soft second half of the schedule the Chiefs should’ve been hosting a division game, not a wild-card game.
My view is that Andy Reid and the leadership core has had five years to build toward this season, and that being good enough to lose to the first decent playoff opponent is no longer good enough.
A loss before the AFC Championship Game will mean no progress, again, another year of wheel spinning, another year of Travis Kelce’s prime gone, another year of Tyreek Hill’s and Marcus Peters’ rookie contract gone, a year of Houston’s health gone, the best year of Alex Smith’s career gone, and the nicest thing you’ll be able to say about this team is that they navigated their way out of a seven-week disaster of their own making.
So, to me, no. The losing streak is an indictment, not punishment.
Now, what I do believe could diminish the anger is the continued employment of Patrick Mahomes as a quarterback.
Because let’s say the Chiefs lose to the Titans, or the next week to the Steelers or Patriots.
You’re bummed, and it means this season, and this five-year push from an organization that desperately wants its on-field success to match the respect it believes it has around the league, is binary failure — peaked by wild-card wins over bad teams.
But, you can also at least find comfort that your team will look and play fundamentally different next year. You will have the quarterback so many Chiefs fans have said they’ve always wanted: homegrown, wildly talented, maybe a little rough around the edges, sure, but damned if you don’t still believe you can win down 17 in the third.
Well, you’re testing the limits of my “nobody can tell you how to be a fan” mantra.
I do get where you’re coming from. If the end result is a 31-20 loss in Foxborough or Pittsburgh in the division round, then screw it, you have nothing to lose, start The Kid, have some fun.
But — and I think you guys would agree I’m as high on Mahomes as anyone — I believe the Chiefs’ best chance to advance in this postseason is with Alex Smith.
This would be a different conversation if Smith was coming off that bad 2016 season, but other than those games against the Giants and Bills, he really has been spectacular this season.
He’s throwing downfield, he’s keeping his eyes up outside the pocket, and he’s protecting the ball better than ever. He still put up 42 in a blowout win in Foxborough this season. That is a thing that happened.
If you’ve seen all of this and still want the rookie in playoff games, you made your mind up a long time ago, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can say to change it.
Which is fine.
But for me, what we all saw on Sunday simply means that if Smith is injured in a playoff game I’m more confident the Chiefs can still win than I would’ve been before.
10. Tim Melia. The 2017 MLS keeper of the year is as good at his job as anyone in Kansas City sports is at theirs. I’m still hopeful someone can explain to me why he’s not with the National Team.
9. Barry Odom. This is sort of like the Chiefs’ season, in that I don’t know how much credit you should get for digging your way out of a hole you created, but what Odom accomplished is no small thing. It required him having the respect and love of a group that was 1-5 and being crapped on by most. They need to keep the momentum going, because it’s easy to remember they finished strong last year, too. But they have a chance now.
8. Danny Duffy. He started the year by signing a $65 million contract extension, helped Team USA win the WBC, and ended the year with a Tweet that was basically an open vein about his love for the Royals and begging not to be traded. The middle included an injury, and a scary DUI. Duffy built up enough capital with fans and in the community to move on cleanly, assuming there are no lingering issues. One of my favorite things about Duffy is that he wears his Royals gear around town, like a high school kid in a letter jacket. Like, literally, I’ve run into him on the Plaza and he’s in a big ol’ blue KC hat.
7. Mike Moustakas. Finally, someone broke Balboni. Moustakas had the best year of his professional life, and if he’s played his last game with the Royals, his time here mirrors that of the franchise: hype, then hope, then patience, then failure, then spectacular success.
6. Kareem Hunt. Kid won the rushing title as a rookie. Hard to do better than that, and hard not to really like him, the more you know about him.
5. Frank Mason. Made himself a KU basketball legend. Deserved better from his teammates in the Oregon loss, and has only made himself easier for KU fans to love in the months since, repeatedly saying he wishes he could’ve played four more years there.
4. Michael Porter Jr. It’s pretty incredible to consider the impact he’s had while playing just two minutes before what might-could-maybe-possibly-but-not-definitely be season-ending back surgery.
3. Alex Smith. If people hadn’t already made up their minds about him, there would be more appreciation for a remarkable season: 67.5 percent completions, 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 8.0 yards per attempt (second in the NFL) and a 104.7 passer rating (first in the NFL). He’s probably played his last regular-season game for the Chiefs, and he’ll be remembered for what he does in this postseason, but he’ll leave the Chiefs better than he found them.
2. Eric Hosmer. You might think this is too high, and you might be right, but this is a bit of a lifetime achievement award. Guys just don’t do what Hosmer did very often: drafted high, looked at as a franchise savior, helps lead a sorry franchise to a world championship, all while building a flawless reputation in the clubhouse and strong relationships around town. I believe the chances of Hosmer re-upping with the Royals are higher now than at the start of the offseason, but no matter what, he’s had one of the greatest Royals careers in club history.
1. Tyreek Hill. This is the spirit of your question, I think. Because when I think of “who won” the year, I think of who leaves 2017 in stronger standing than they entered it. You can make a strong case for Kareem Hunt here, or perhaps Whit Merrifield, but for me it’s Hill. He’s a legitimate star now, the speed threat the Chiefs have really never had, and the perfect complement to Patrick Mahomes’ talent. Also, not insignificantly, he’s so far avoided any trouble and is scheduled to complete his probation in 2018 after pleading guilty to a horrendous domestic assault in 2015.
Also, this is completely self-indulgent, but you clicked on this link so it’s your fault: this was one of my favorite years at The Star.
I am so proud of so much of the work of my colleagues. The stuff Maria and Vahe did after Yordano Ventura’s death is some of the best work we’ve ever had in the sports section, and the stuff Laura Bauer, Max Londberg, Judy Thomas, Andrew Marson, Kelsey Ryan, Bryan Lowry, Steve Vockrodt, and Hunter Woodall did on Secret Kansas is some of the best work we’ve ever had in the paper, period.
Terez continues to kick ass on the Chiefs, Rustin is terrific on the Royals, and I love what we’re doing with the college beats. Whatever tiny bit of attention exists in journalism almost always goes to the writers, but I hope everyone understands how talented photographers like Dave Eulitt and John Sleezer are, and how important it is that people like Jeff Rosen, Chris Fickett, Rachel Crader, Pete Grathoff, Chris Carter and everyone else has our backs.
I am well aware that many in our business don’t have it this good, and well aware that it won’t be like this forever, so I want to enjoy it and recognize it as long as it exists.
Bro. I Tyler Bray on the reg.
Literally, after the game on Sunday, I was telling a story about something dumb I did as we were walking out of the stadium and Terez yelled up that someone left their suitcase in the press box.
That was my suitcase, obviously.
I’ve packed my wife’s pants on a work trip, booked flights on the wrong day, put the milk back in the cabinet instead of the fridge, planned projects and even put reminders in my phone and still forgot to follow through, and have stopped myself mid-sentence in a question to an athlete or coach or exec and finished with something like, “I forgot where I was going. Good talk. Have a good rest of your day.”
I’d like to think I’m not as stupid as that paragraph makes it appear, and maybe I’m even right about that.
I did, after all, marry up.
But my point here is that even professionally, when I need to call someone out for something dumb they did, I do it knowing I’ve done something dumber, just with lower stakes.
I believe Chiefs fans should be fully on board with this.
Gruden has not coached in nine years. He’s fun on broadcasts, and his quarterback camps are great, and somewhere along the line he’s turned down enough jobs that he’s become this sort of white whale for a lot of football fans.
There is nothing an out-of-work coach can do to improve his reputation more than take a broadcast job, and for nearly a decade he’s had one of the highest-profile broadcast jobs available. He hasn’t lost a single game, hasn’t called a single bad play.
I say this with all respect for him, because I do think he’s a good football guy, and was a good coach, but do you know how much harder you have to work as a head coach than a broadcaster? Do you know, as Terez pointed out to us last night, that Gruden’s offense his last year of coaching did not include any shotgun?
Do you know that he’ll be taking over a flawed roster, with a quarterback who was propped up by system and receivers two years ago but was exposed in 2017, when teams figured out a way to create more pressure and his touchdown rate dropped and his interceptions more than doubled?
Look, maybe it’ll work. Maybe Gruden will find his swagger again, maybe all that time off will have left him fresh, maybe all those production meetings with all those coaches has given him some new ideas.
I just don’t see it. I believe the Raiders just hired a guy who’ll be fun in press conferences, and just OK on the field.
My wife swears she came up with the massage-at-the-airport idea years before that was ever a thing, so this is a high-stakes question in my house.
I have a few:
▪ A rental car company that doesn’t price-gouge you on gas, and doesn’t require you to find a gas station within 10 miles of the airport when you’re running late and you have two screaming toddlers in the back seat. They have pumps on site, why can’t they just charge a reasonable price to fill it up?
▪ When Kansas City finally gets out of its own way and the designs on the new airport terminal get more serious, they should include space for a mechanic and car wash on site. It’d be sort of like the valet service they offer now, but the valet would take your car back, and depending on what you needed, wash it, detail it, change the oil, fix that broken headlight, whatever. They could totally get away with this even by charging dealership prices, plus a little extra for “parking.”
▪ A gift-giving Sherpa. So, when an anniversary or birthday or Christmas is approaching, you’d answer some questions, maybe take pictures of stuff the person you’re gifting likes, provide clothes sizes if applicable, and a professional would help you pick something out. I’m convinced that some people simply have the, um, gift of gift giving and the rest of us just feel like big ol’ dummies and you can only ask her best friend for advice so many times before you feel like a jerk.
▪ Indoor play areas for kids. I know these places exist. I’m just saying we need more of them.
Who wants to go into business with me?
DON’T YOU CHALLENGE ME SIR!
I’m assuming active restaurants are eligible, and I know I have a recency bias here. You’re also handcuffing me with a limit of three, because I’d love to consider old-school resumes like Annie’s Santa Fe, as well as off-the-wall spots like Bichelmeyer tacos on Saturdays, but rules are rules, so here goes:
▪ Joe’s Kansas City. My single favorite barbecue spot in town. I thought about going with Gates or Arthur Bryant’s, out of respect for the history, but I’m being led by my, um, gut here. Also, I think it’s so cool that Jeff Stehney still does competitions, sort of incognito.
▪ Garozzo’s. I consider him a friend, so I’m biased, but Michael Garozzo is a Kansas City success story. His restaurant helped revive a forgotten neighborhood, invented chicken spiedini essentially by accident, and has been a local institution for nearly 30 years.
▪ Rye. Nobody’s nailed the genre quite like it in Kansas City. Pretty sure I get the fried chicken 90 percent of the time, but the spare ribs, hanger steak, burger, and short ribs are also delicious. Great brunch, too, and if you think part of my vote here is respect for Colby and Megan Garrelts and everything else they’ve done around town you are exactly right.
The Cubs would make the best movie, even though the Red Sox did it first, and the Astros the best nerdy inside baseball story.
But, and I hope this isn’t just a local bias talking, I truly believe the most difficult and unlikely championship was won by the Royals.
Dayton Moore took over a bigger mess, with less sport-wide credibility, and had the least amount of money available. The Royals had to win in a way nobody thought was possible, they were left for dead by most in July 2014, and had a ridiculous string of playoff drama on the way to the parade.
The Cubs and Red Sox were always going to win, eventually, with that kind of brainpower and money. The Astros are a cool story, but nobody had to overcome more than the Royals.
Depends on who you ask, but one of the following:
▪ Josh Jackson being accused of what he was accused of, and what looked like an effort to cover it up, was news, and not that they needed it, but the reporting of Laura Bauer and Mara’ Rose Williams was validated when Jackson entered a diversion agreement that required a written letter of apology among other stipulations.
▪ Crunchy peanut better, Hen House brand wheat, strawberry jelly.
▪ If you believe the Royals should’ve blown it all up at the trade deadline, you are using revisionist history and forgetting they were two games clear of a playoff spot on July 28.
▪ Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA is criminally overrated. Torn Label’s Bloody Christmas is criminally underrated.
▪ Patrick Mahomes has the chance to be the most impactful athlete in Kansas City since George Brett, and Alex Smith should’ve been the Chiefs’ starting quarterback for every meaningful game this season and playoffs.
▪ You can have the best barbecue meal in town at Gates, but you also might have the worst.
▪ Sporting Kansas City made itself better by selling Dom Dwyer.
▪ Arrowhead Stadium’s parking is just about the only reasonably priced item you can find on game day.
▪ Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez should be inducted to Baseball’s Hall of Fame because none of us know who used, and even if we did, those players were only acting in accordance to the incentives put in place, plus Bud Selig and Tony LaRussa and other PED profiteers are already in so what exactly are we talking about here?
▪ Bill Snyder does not have the right to coach as long as he wants, but as long as he’s coaching, he sure as hell has the right to hire his own assistants.
▪ Ned Yost is the same manager he was when you all wanted him fired, the same manager he was when he won a World Series, and generally speaking big-league managers are 1 percent as important as most fans and media seem to think.
▪ Kansas City could use a new airport, but the city’s future would be far better served with the money and intellectual resources being put into many other projects.
▪ If it turns out the Royals can re-sign Eric Hosmer, a serious discussion should be had about whether they should re-sign Eric Hosmer.
▪ Every team that takes public money for its stadium should be required to offer 20 percent of its tickets for $10 or less.
Well, that’s the idea.
I know it can be frustrating, and it’s not equal footing, but no sport truly is. There is a strong case, actually, that baseball has more parity than the NFL. Jayson Stark makes this case every Super Bowl week, one of my favorite columns of the year.
The Royals are working with some disadvantages. We all know that. If we’re honest, we also know those disadvantages aren’t as great as they used to be, and that they’ve already overcome them once with this same leadership group in place.
The truth is that free agency is a bad way to build a team, and that the next big obstacle for the Royals will be that rich teams know that and are behaving accordingly. The Yankees of 10 years ago might’ve traded Greg Bird and signed Eric Hosmer for $150 million. They’re not doing that anymore. Without what is essentially a soft salary cap, the Dodgers and Red Sox and Cubs would be bloating their payrolls and rosters with free agents.
They’re not doing that anymore. They’re spending money and time with amateur talent, knowing that players often have their best seasons under original club control, and that they can build superior rosters using the same principles small-market clubs have used for years, except with more money.
As much as anything else, this will be the Royals’ challenge going forward. They can’t just overpay in the draft for talent anymore, because MLB rules are in place that weren’t before. They can’t be as impactful internationally as they once were, because they’ll be outspent.
They have to win with smarts, with scouting, and with exploiting a shrinking number of market inefficiencies the way they did speed, athleticism, defense, and corny ol’ fashioned camaraderie the first time around.
It’s not ideal, right? You’d rather have the money, or failing that you’d rather have the loopholes and opportunities created by richer clubs mismanaging themselves.
But they’ve been through this once before, their embarrassing TV deal is close to expiring, and they have some real big-league assets like Sal Perez, Danny Duffy, and Whit Merrifield.
If you want to check out from the rebuild and catch back up if it takes traction, I get it.
I know I’m a nerd with this stuff. I know that being fascinated and motivated to cover another rebuild makes me weird, but to me, seeing the final product means a little more if you’ve watched it all come together.
The Chiefs’ game in Denver on New Year’s Eve screwed it up, but my wife and I sort of stumbled into a tradition a few years back.
New Year’s, at least for me, is pretty obnoxious after you turn 25 or so. The bars are way too packed, it’s impossible to find a cab/Uber, and the percentage of terrible drunks is about three times higher than the acceptable level.
So, we stay in, light a fire, and get takeout from what I believe to be the best sushi in town. She drinks wine, and I open the last bottle of Saison Brett I’ve been saving since the spring.
This week, I’m particularly thankful for podcasts. Yeah, I know. But, yeah. Podcasts. The amount of control you have over everything you listen to is remarkable and a modern marvel. If I don’t have to be on the phone, I know every time I get in the car I can listen to news, pop culture, sports, books, human interest stuff, Patrick Sweany or old-school rap, all available with a few swipes of my thumb. I know I sound like a grandpa here, but it really is cool.
Also: DON’T JUST LISTEN TO THE A-TEAM PODCASTS YOU MUST RATE AND REVIEW AND DON’T GIVE US ONE OF THOSE B.S. FOUR-STAR REVIEWS WE NEED NOTHING BUT FIVE STARS C’MON PEOPLE.