There simply isn't a lot of precedent for what the 2018 Chiefs are trying to do. Not in the current century, anyway.
The Chiefs are preparing — enthusiastically, it should be noted — for the upcoming season with the apparent plan of trying to win games 42-38 with a first-year starting quarterback.
Recent NFL history is full of examples of teams winning with rookie or first-year quarterbacks. Tom Brady is the best example, winning the Super Bowl after the 2001 season, but he did begin that season as the backup. Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco are among other rookie quarterbacks to make the playoffs.
But most of these quarterbacks had the good fortune to play for teams with dominant or at least very good defenses. The Patriots were sixth in points allowed in Brady's first year as a starter. The Steelers had the best defense in the league in Roethlisberger's rookie year. The Ravens and Seahawks had dominant defenses for Flacco and Wilson.
Nobody remembers it now, but Kyle Orton started 15 games for the Bears as a rookie, making the playoffs. He was pretty bad — 51.6 completion percentage, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions — but the defense was good enough to go 11-5.
That's the more typical path when teams try to win with young quarterbacks.
The Chiefs are, basically, doing the opposite.
Andy Reid can talk about faith in his defensive scheme and coordinator Bob Sutton's track record, and he can back it up with numbers. The Chiefs were no worse than seventh in points allowed in each of the four seasons before 2017.
But they really were wretched in 2017. Only four teams gave up more yards. Football Outsiders' DVOA metric had the Chiefs 32nd out of 32. They could not produce a pass rush, Sutton did not do much to manufacture one, and for the second time in four years, the Chiefs could not protect a big lead in the playoffs.
Maybe Eric Berry really is that important. Maybe a full season of Reggie Ragland and the addition of Anthony Hitchens will help pull the Chiefs up the defensive rankings. But a realistic view of the team would note that improvement depends heavily on the health of players who haven't stayed healthy, the emergence of a few who are yet to emerge, and replacing important starters like Marcus Peters, Ron Parker and Bennie Logan.
The Chiefs' basic plan seems to be lots of Patrick Mahomes. He is likely the most physically gifted quarterback in franchise history, and to listen to Brett Veach,* Andy Reid** and Travis Kelce*** talk about him, you expect each pass to be worth two touchdowns and $100 for everyone in the stands.
* "One of the best players I have ever seen."
** "He is wired the right way, I know that."
*** "It's mind blowing. It really is. It's hard to explain."
This is a little weird, right? A first-year starter, drafted by a good team and thrown on the field with the apparent goal of winning shootouts?
The closest example I see of a first-year starter or rookie quarterback being successful right away, with a good team and a plan to win shootouts, was Daunte Culpepper with the 2000 Vikings. The year before, with Jeff George and Randall Cunningham, the Vikings finished fifth in points and third in yards on offense and 18th and 27th on defense.
Culpepper was drafted 11th in 1999 but did not throw a pass that year. He took the job in 2000 and was terrific — completed 62.7 percent for 3,937 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, and led the league with 33 touchdowns. The Vikings went 11-5 and finished fifth in both points and yards. Their defense was 24th and 28th.
The Chiefs still have the draft, but their focus so far has been at least as much on the offense (which was sixth in points and fifth in yards) as defense. Sammy Watkins signed one of the biggest free-agent contracts in franchise history, and he'll likely be the team's second-best receiver behind Tyreek Hill.
The Chiefs are also collecting running backs like canned foods ahead of a blizzard, despite Kareem Hunt leading the league in rushing as a rookie and the expected return of Spencer Ware.
It's an interesting strategy, and a welcomed one for those of us with Mahomes in a fantasy league. It's just not one with much recent NFL precedent.
If the Chiefs score a lot of points but struggle because the defense can't keep up, it won't take long for Reid and Veach to be criticized for protecting their investment in Mahomes more than the overall strength and balance of the roster.
This week's eating recommendation is the kitchen sink (gravy on the side) at Succotash, and the reading recommendation is Michael MacCambridge on What Will Become of Sports Illustrated?
Could the Adidas story take away wins from KU?I am one of those silly people that care about all time wins relative to Kentucky and UNC.— cynthia wendt (@cynwendt) April 16, 2018
Newell and Blair did a good job looking at this, and the answer, basically, is ... maybe?
There are a lot of steps that have to happen between now and then, most fundamentally that this is an FBI investigation, not NCAA, so the evidence would have to be transferred or otherwise accepted from one bureaucracy to another. There is also an NCAA dog-and-pony show on April 25, when a committee headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will make an announcement.
What the FBI has released so far makes the distinction that Kansas coaches and employees were unaware of any alleged wrongdoing, but that hasn't always prevented NCAA penalties in the past.
There are so many moving parts here. If we're just talking about penalties for Kansas — you mention the all-time wins, but of more urgent concern to many fans would be the 14 straight conference titles and last season's Final Four — I wonder if the school will find cover in the sheer number of allegations.
Would the NCAA simply accept blanket penalties? Would it have the time, resources, and juice to go through school by school? Either option would bring a long line of questions and complications.
So, nobody can know the answer to this. Nothing would surprise me. But I'll tell you how I hope this goes...
When I've said that it's meant with games and people, but I think I get where you're coming from. If the FBI took down Kansas basketball, that would be a massive story, fascinating from a journalist's perspective and be a treasure trove of columns.
In that way, yes, it would be good for business.
But I'm not sure I've ever rooted for the downfall of a person or institution*, and if Kansas had to vacate wins or Bill Self was forced out I wouldn't be writing with any joy. This FBI investigation is about waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy more than Silvio De Sousa or Billy Preston or Bill Self or Kansas.
* The closest I can think of is Scott Pioli as GM of the Chiefs, but even then, as strongly as I felt about him needing to be fired (early enough that some around town thought I was jumping the gun) I wasn't rooting for his downfall as a human. I think he has a lot of strong traits as a football man. He just happened to be a disaster of a GM at the time.
This is about college basketball, and my hope all along has been that the FBI actually has to goods here, not just on Kansas but across college basketball, enough exposure of how the sport operates that the NCAA finally updates its rules.
In everything that's been reported so far, the only thing that's surprised me is the relatively small dollar amounts. This wasn't meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but the documents in the original Yahoo report had a total of $73,500 in LOANS for North Carolina State star Dennis Smith. If that's all he got, he's a terrible negotiator.
Markelle Fultz was connected to just $10,000. Josh Jackson's mom was connected to just $2,700. Miles Bridges' mom was connected with "hundreds of dollars" in advances. The only absurdity here is the amount. These players are worth tens of thousands to their universities, at least, and more likely well into six figures. You've probably seen the reports that place the value of players at some schools into seven figures.
This whole thing is absurd on so many levels I'm not sure where to start, but the F-B-Freaking-I spending time on antiquated and dishonest college amateurism rules is as good as any. This country is full of fraud and worse, crimes with actual victims, and I just can't understand why the FBI would waste even a coffee break on this.
I find it incredibly easy to believe rules have been broken around Kansas basketball, same as I find it incredibly easy to believe rules have been broken around Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Texas, Washington State, South Dakota State, Grand Canyon State, UMKC and any other school you want to mention.
Humans respond to incentives, and the incentives have created the current setup. Universities have protected the status quo because it's good for business, adjusting only when the PR hit is too heavy, which is why my rooting interest is for the FBI — as long as it's investigating this nonsense — to come with so many examples of the rules being broken that the only honest conclusion by thoughtful people is that the rules need to more realistic.
I'm going to write more about this during the week. Really, I could do like six columns off the top of my head.
When they play on the same day. Is it fair to compare attendance between the Royals and Sporting KC games this season?— Rob Brenton (@FastTalkinRob) April 16, 2018
Well, sure it's fair but I don't think it's all that meaningful.
Sporting plays far fewer home games — 17 in MLS plus a handful in other competitions, compared with 81 for the Royals. Sporting plays nearly all of its games on the weekends, and I know you're including the caveat here about comparing same day games, but someone could go to three Royals games in a week but if they chose the Sporting game on Saturday night they'd count against the baseball team.
But the biggest reason the comparison wouldn't be meaningful is that, ostensibly, you're trying to compare interest. And if you compare interest, you have to include how many people are watching on TV, listening on the radio, and reading in the newspaper and online.
And in those calculations, the Royals dwarf Sporting.
None of this comes from a place of protectionism, or anti-soccer. You probably know I love what Sporting has turned itself into, and root for them to continue growing. I don't see Royals-Sporting as a binary choice, and plan on going to Children's Mercy Park with my family at least a few times this summer.
In the micro sense, soccer is a growth machine. Our 4-year-old is actually on two teams right now, which is just ridiculous, but you can't go to the Swope Soccer Village on a Saturday without being struck by how many kids and families are involved in the sport.
That used to be a lead up to the joke that every American loves soccer and then turns 12, but the sport's profile has never been bigger here and appears only to be growing. MLS games are regularly on national TV, not to mention Bundesliga, the Premier League, and Champions League receiving mainstream coverage in America.
But in the micro, Sporting and MLS are still in the beginning stages. Many more Americans watch overseas professional soccer than MLS, and local TV ratings are a fraction of other sports leagues.
Whatever it's worth, I believe Sporting is doing all the right things. The broadcasts are good, and the in-stadium experience is terrific. The product on the field is the most important thing, and the team is a consistent winner, with an aggressive and exciting style that should be attractive to serious and casual fans.
They have a new forward with the awesome name of Johnny Russell who does things like this:
This is just one moment in time, but Sporting appears to be good and interesting while the Royals could be both bad and boring. We are only three years removed from the Royals being so great and so compelling that nothing else in town seemed to matter, so let's maintain a modicum of perspective here.
But it's not hard to picture someone — a kid, a young professional, a family, anyone — in Kansas City flipping to the soccer game instead of the baseball game this summer.
Especially after the baseball team goes to the bullpen.
does the MLB season start too early/do you think the season is too long?— Matt Dunn (@m_dunn) April 16, 2018
Major League Baseball teams should play something like 140 games. This would be best for fans, and best for the sport, but it would not be best for revenue which is another way of saying it'll never happen.
The current CBA is awful on many levels, and this isn't at the top of the list, but the players won more off days and better travel, which essentially meant the season has to start earlier.
That wouldn't necessarily be a problem if MLB acted with a crumb of common sense and let warm weather and domed teams begin at home. Depending on how you look at it, 13 teams play in domes and/or cities with weather you can trust: Rays, Blue Jays (most of the time), Angels, Astros, Mariners, A's, Rangers, Marlins, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Giants and Dodgers.
That means the first week could be full of 26 teams playing games you know won't be impacted by weather. Now, obviously there are no certainties. That plan would do nothing for a Midwest snow storm that prevented games on April 15, and I remember a few years ago the Royals being snowed out in May (!).
But sports and life are all about playing the percentages, and this is such a simple way for MLB to put the percentages in its favor.
The argument about cold weather teams never having a season opener at home are weak to begin with and further crumble in years like this, when the schedule turns into a joke, and the summer will be full of day-night doubleheaders and teams making up games on what should be off days.
How come fans love rebuilds but refuse to actually go see a rebuild?— Los Gustavo Guerrero (@RoyalsFan1980) April 16, 2018
I'm connecting the above question with the below question...
I kind of WANT to be bummed about the Royals start to the season, but..... I also have the front page of the Star after the World Series framed on my wall, and can remember the parade like it was yesterday so....perspective?— Adam Newman (@AdamNewman913) April 16, 2018
...just as a reminder that broad brushstrokes are never precise.
There are some fans who expect championships every year, some who just want something to watch a few times a week, some who will know enough to intelligently discuss a 14th round draft pick, some who simply want a conversation starter with their parent or child, and some who will live off the parade for years.
The best part is that none of us are wrong, for ourselves, because there's no right or wrong way to follow sports*, just different ways of enjoying or obsessing or feeling about one of life's great gifts.
* Unless you start the wave, and ESPECIALLY if you start the wave in the late innings of a close game, because then I think we'd all agree you should screw off and lock yourself in a storm cellar and never speak to or look at another human the rest of your terrible life.
This is part of why I went all Choose Your Own Adventure with the column before vacation, because we all need to make our own paths. I'd be annoyed if I knew someone pushing for a rebuild who is now upset at the losses, but even then there are different perspectives because this whole thing could've been kickstarted if the Royals made a decision 18 months ago instead of kicking the can down the road.
But, anyway. I'll probably end up taking the family to a game or two more than I otherwise would because tickets should be cheap, which, ahem...
How bad will Royals attendance be this year and what, if any, ramifications does that have on the franchise?— Max Rieper (@maxrieper) April 16, 2018
It could be really bad, you guys, and this is another topic I may go after in a column sometime.
The Royals are averaging 17,646 fans through eight home games, which is a drop of more than 36 percent and we should pause here for a few disclaimers:
1. yes, attendance should absolutely be down because the product on the field is not as good or interesting.
2. no, it won't be that bad by the end of the season because the Royals have had some truly awful weather.
All that said, it's entirely possible the Royals will have their worst season attendance since Dayton Moore arrived and David Glass started acting like a respectable small market owner in 2006.
Jeff Passan wrote about the problem with attendance across baseball, so this isn't just a Royals problem, and I would argue the Royals' problem has been amplified by weather more than most teams across the league.
All that said ... this looks like it could be a bad team, with only a few players who would qualify as name brands in Kansas City, without the benefit of high-ceiling rookies who can generate interest.
As for what that means for the franchise going forward, the answer is probably less than you might think. Payroll will probably need to come down, but that's happening anyway, and was going to continue to happen whether the team draws 2.2 million (like it did last year) or 1.6 million (like it did in 2010).
The payroll will naturally dip in a few years when the first mini-wave of prospects come up, with Khalil Lee playing center field for the major-league minimum, for instance, and Adalberto Mondesi doing the same at shortstop.
I've been told over and over again by people on both sides of the negotiation that a team's big-league success doesn't have much to do with the size of a new local TV contract, so if you're arguing for the kind of Fake Hustle to make the Royals an 84-win team to stage for the TV negotiation you're arguing for a really bad investment.
To put it in real estate terms, TV networks care much more about your neighborhood than your master bathroom. Dollar figures tend to be dictated by market size more than roster makeup.
So, to answer your questions: I'm guessing the Royals draw around 1.6 million, and that the rebuild is decided by Lonnie Goldberg's picks in the upcoming draft far more than the relatively small impact the attendance will have on next year's payroll.
Well, yes. They stink at the moment, and have the look of a team that will stink in the near future.
But a little perspective. They won the World Series three years ago. Had most of that championship core for the last two seasons. The worst Royals team of the last five years went 80-82.
Baseball teams in Kansas City cannot be good all the time, and the penance for pennants is going to be some lean seasons unless the front office is perfect and, as we'll discuss below, the front office has been far from perfect.
Now, all that said, yes. The Royals could've put themselves in a better position at the moment. They were probably always going to be bad in 2018, but they could have been bad and interesting, or bad and promising.
I'm sorry-not-sorry to keep going back to it, but the original sin here was in not choosing a path before the 2017 season. Moore has often said that the best time to trade his stars would've been the offseason after 2015, and while that's technically true, nobody would've done that. You couldn't have. That team meant too much, was too good, not to let them try to do it again.
But the front office needed to make a decision before 2017. This is not hindsight. You can't trade Wade Davis for Jorge Soler and honestly say you're trying to win, and you can't hold onto stars with trade value and honestly say you're trying to rebuild.
What the Royals were doing was hoping for a miracle, or that everything would fall their way, and for a glorious stretch from July 2014 to November 2015 the Royals were a miracle, with everything falling their way, but that's not a real plan.
The thing to do was to keep Davis, sign Josh Reddick, fill roster holes as you can and try to win in 2017.
Or, the other thing to do was to trade Davis, trade Lorenzo Cain, trade Eric Hosmer, trade anyone who would bring you back enough prospects to materially improve your farm system.
I understand, and in many real ways respect what Moore and his assistants are trying to do, I just don't know how realistic it is. Even with a strong staff of scouts and coaches.
That's why the Royals are where they are at the moment — stinking at both the big-league and minor-league levels.
Again, it's probably always true that the big-league team was going to be bad in 2018. But the next round of winning was always going to come from the minor-league system, and a different decision 18 months ago would've meant a year or two head start on where they are at the moment.
Hasn't that been happening?
What the Royals pulled off in 2015 is something close to a baseball miracle, the achievement of a lifetime for even successful baseball men, but I don't think anyone is under the impression that the Royals haven't been making mistakes since the parade.
Martinez hit .384/.461/.563 across 98 games in Class AAA in 2015, the last full season he was in the Royals' organization, so it's not he wasn't hitting. He was old for the league, a bad defender, was stuck behind a line of outfielders in the system, and had been given up on by two franchises before, so he had some red flags but none of that matters as much as this:
Baseball teams have to find an edge in the evaluation of their own talent.
If they do that, they have a better chance of winning trades, and making the right decisions on promotions and releases. It's the same philosophy that demands teams scout their area of the country better than anyone else. If you aren't strong in evaluating the talent close to you, how can you be trusted in harder decisions?
The Royals have a few strange misses on their recent record. Alex Gordon's contract is probably the first that comes to many fans' minds, but the most bizarre to me was Mondesi over Whit Merrifield for the opening day second base job in 2017. That was strange at the time, and just gets stranger with time.
Now, all that said, you could find misses like this with an audit of any organization in baseball. It's such an unpredictable sport, and let's be honest about something else, too. The Cardinals weren't sure what they were getting, because if they were, they would've offered more than cash. Any of the other 28 teams in baseball could've had Martinez for even a low-A prospect.
So, yes. It's fair to criticize Moore and his assistants for the Martinez trade and other decisions. But it's also fair to keep it all in context, and talk about this honestly.
I'm excited. They'll be interesting on a lot of levels. As wretched as the Texas Bowl was to watch, I'm a strong believer that bowl games are usually overemphasized, and Mizzou's situation was particularly shaky with a new offensive coordinator.
I'm not going to stand up and shout about Derek Dooley's credentials, but there should be a level of competence and dependability with so much coming back.
The schedule will be difficult. Purdue on the road, instead of at home. South Carolina and Florida on the road. Alabama on the road.
But, there's room for eight or nine wins, if things go well.
The biggest reason to be excited about Mizzou, particularly for those of us in Kansas City, is Drew Lock. The former Lee's Summit High star is the nation's top quarterback going into the season. Josh Freeman was a strong prospect, and Aldon Smith was picked seventh in the 2011 draft, but I'm not sure there's precedent for a local kid being this highly thought of going into his senior season.
There's talent around him, and will have many opportunities to amplify his strengths (big arm, mobility) and diminish his weaknesses (progressions, forcing throws). No matter how it goes, it will be the most interesting story of the local college football season, at least early.
If it falls the right way, Lock could be in line for one of the great college seasons by a local player in recent memory.
Andy Reid is forced to coach Sporting Kansas City and Peter Vermes is forced to coach the Kansas City Chiefs...— Zachary Cobb (@ZachIsHere) April 16, 2018
Who does a better job?
Well, holy crap, this is an all-time question. I have no idea how or why you came up with this, but thank you, because it's had me thinking of Vermes in a perfectly tailored suit on the field challenging the manhood of not just the back judge but also Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, and it has me thinking of Andy Reid in his big red windbreaker speaking into a play chart as Felipe Gutierrez and Ilie Sanchez try to figure out what the hell he means by a tunnel screen.
One thing I'm sure of: if this happened in 2018, my greatest disappointment is that we would miss out on the chance to see what happens when Vermes coaches Marcus Peters.
If you're going to force me to answer this question seriously, I'm going to seriously tell you that I believe good coaches can coach different sports. There are adjustments and subtleties that would need to be learned, but good coaches — and I believe Vermes and Reid are both very good coaches — have a certain feel and skill that can translate.
Vermes would have to tone down some of his Vermes-ness, and I have a feeling Reid knows as much about soccer as I do about building a rocket ship, so there would be a learning curve on both sides here.
My answer here is Vermes, though. I have no doubt that Vermes knows and has studied more about the NFL than Reid has professional soccer, and in many ways already runs Sporting a bit like an NFL franchise.
This is a tired comparison, and I don't mean to suggest that Vermes is as successful or talented, but there is a little bit of a Belichick-ian way he operates. The Dwyer trade/sale is probably the best recent example, giving up a guy when the price reached a certain point because he felt his team's system was moving away from those talents anyway.
The end of the season did not cloak the sale in glory, of course, but it's also true that Sporting has been a consistent winner with a style of play that's subtly changed over the years with his talent.
You could say some of the same things about Reid, but Vermes has won trophies and, at least in my view, been a better example in his sport of what Reid is doing in his.
Oh, my man. Godspeed to you.
First: 1 year olds as travelers can be anywhere on a long spectrum. If they're 12 months old, they could be fantastic. If they're 12 months old, they may do nothing but lay in your arms, sleeping, and after the plane lands you'll hear a steady flow of, "They were soooo good," and "Oh my, I didn't even know there were babies in your row!" from fellow passengers*.
* One disclaimer: there is no way to predict how they'll do with ears popping. I know we're lucky that we haven't had any issues with our kids, because anyone who's ever flown knows there is at least one baby on every flight who freaks the freak out over it. You can try to time a bottle for takeoff and landing, but I'm convinced some kids are going to scream no matter what.
If they're closer to 2, you don't want to hear this, but a plane ride with them might be the worst traveling or parenting experience you have. Because when they're not yet 2, you really want to milk those last months of not having to buy them a ticket, but they're probably big enough that they should have their own seat, and they're almost certainly active enough that they sure as hell don't want to sit in your arms for two hours.
That means walking up and down the aisle with them, which is kind of fun at first, because people smile at your kid, but quickly becomes annoying when you hit turbulence and the flight attendants are demanding you get back to your seat and especially when you have to change a diaper in those tiny bathrooms.
If your kids are closer to 2, just be sure you have snacks, bring some matchbox cars if they're like my kids and obsessed with those, and by all means don't be too proud to load a device with cartoons if that'll keep them occupied.
Oh, one more tip. If it's a long flight, some people will tell you to give your kids some (children's, obviously) Benadryl to help them sleep. A doctor even suggested this. But BE SURE this is not the first time you give your kids Benadryl.
My sister did this once with her son. They were on a long flight, and she had the Benadryl as sort of a In Case Of Emergency Break Glass situation, and he was acting like a hyena so she broke the glass and then ... the kid was acting EVEN CRAZIER.
I wasn't there, so I can't do it justice, but my sister's greatest strength might be her ability to handle stress and stressful situations and she tells this story like she was trapped in a burning car.
As it turns out, for a small percentage of kids, Benadryl brings the exact opposite of drowsiness. It turns them into the Ultimate Warrior. This was not a pleasant experience for my sister, is what I'm saying.
Worst weather you've endured for a sporting event? On the job or as a fan.— Skyler Davenport (@KansasCitySky) April 16, 2018
The first that comes to mind is what turned out to be The Kicker Who Shall Not Be Named game. The box score says it was 11 degrees with a wind chill of minus-15 at kickoff, which is about a thousand degrees warmer than it felt, even inside a stadium with 77,594 people.
I remember getting hot cocoa, and it was frozen within minutes. I remember a friend getting a hot dog, and by the time he unwrapped it he found a cold, hard, discolored cylinder of ice, and that's not even an Aramark joke.
I think of that experience every time that game comes up, unable to not consider how the weather impacted the offenses and especially the, um, kicker.
I also remember walking out of that game, around the spiral ramps, surrounded by what I am sure is the angriest group of people I've ever been surrounded by. The nicest thing I heard screamed was probably a death threat.
Well, OK, I'm combining this question...
Are French fries a necessary part of a bbq meal?— Aaron Ogilvie (@a_ogilvie) April 16, 2018
...with this question...
What’s your 3rd favorite type of smoked meat?— Aaron Ogilvie (@a_ogilvie) April 16, 2018
...and this question because it's probably been long enough since our last barbecue discussion here, the season is starting up again, and I'm really pumped about buying a new smoker this week.
The quick answers: pretty much yes, not necessary, and brisket, but only if it's cooked and cut correctly and considered different than burnt ends, because otherwise the answer is sausage*.
Now, a slightly more thorough answer.
Joe's and Q39 stand above the rest for me, with Jack Stack and Slap's trailing close, and then a mess of other places that would be the best barbecue spot in most cities. That includes Gates, where you might eat the best barbecue meal available in Kansas City but you might also eat the worst.
Bryant's is in that category, too, and so different. I actually like the sauce now. I used to dislike it, and totally get why people do, but the taste is distinct and strong and perfect in the right situation. If you go to the one at Legends, you're absolutely doing it wrong, but if you go to the one on Brooklyn you apologize to no man.
But my basic Kansas City Barbecue Take is that most Kansas City Barbecue Takes are garbage. You like what you like, and I'll like what I like. There's room, thankfully, for all of us and if you're passionate about a place I've never been to I want to hear about it. Just off the top of my head, I've had barbecue at eight places — Joe's, Q39, Jack Stack, Slap's, Gates, Bryant's, LC's, Danny Edwards — that in that moment I would swear is as good as barbecue can be.
That doesn't include places like Char Bar, BB's, and Woodyard that I love for specific and real reasons.
So whenever I hear someone say there's only one place to eat barbecue in Kansas City, I never think, "Man, this fella has it figured out." I think, "Shut up good sir, you're missing out on a lot of great spots."
Now, french fries: they are delicious, and I recommend eating french fries whenever possible, unless tater tots and/or onion rings* are available, in which case you cannot make a wrong decision. But, necessary? No. Absolutely not. Nothing is necessary except for meat, sauce, and some sort of carbonated drink.
* The rings at Slap's are a religious experience.
And, since we haven't had one yet, a list of the top smoked meats:
1. Ribs — the king, and more than anything else, the standard by which I judge barbecue spots.
2. Burnt ends — when done right, there is nothing better.
3. Brisket — if you've ever cooked one, you have a heightened respect for good brisket. Also: this is the spot where Kansas City lags behind Texas. They focus on brisket more than we do here, which is a large part of the problem, but more than anything else I don't understand why so many places here cut their brisket so thin, like it's deli meat or something. Drives me crazy.
4. Sausage — damn right.
5. Chicken — so versatile, and edges out No. 6 on this list because of wings.
6. Turkey — the in-laws always do Thanksgiving, but one of these years, I'm going to do the turkey on a smoker.
7. Salmon — a healthy option!
8. Pulled pork — sort of the opposite of brisket. If you've ever cooked one, you have a lessened respect for pulled pork.
I'd like to broaden my smoke game, though. We go on a fishing trip every May, and I've always wanted to smoke a few walleye we bring back, but always seem to end up frying them. I'm also curious about burgers, and prime rib, and lamb.
Amazing, thank you. We don't do a lot of get-a-babysitter-and-go-out-for-dinner, so the best thing for me is being able to spend time with just us. I finished one book, read another, and started a third. We day drank, walked the beach every day, sipped margaritas by the ocean, and ate the best french toast I've ever had in my life. It was everything I hoped, which brings me to...
This week I'm particularly thankful for a vacation that lived up to my hopes, and having a life back home that I'm excited to return to. Not everyone has that, and I haven't always had that, so I'm consciously grateful and will hold onto this as long as possible.