Peter Vermes is the coach of Sporting Kansas City, and he's also the technical director, and this is usually as far as it goes when people talk about him having more than one full-time job.
But my guess is that if Vermes quit tomorrow to be a bartender in the Caribbean, you could come up with at least four different titles that could justify full-time employment to replace what he does. There's the youth stuff, the academy stuff, being the club's most prominent spokesman. I assume he has a side business where he sells portable goals or something, and another where makes he makes and ships a renowned creme brûlée.
Discovered yesterday he has another job. He also serves as an agent, or more specifically as his agent, which means he was the one negotiating the contract extension that runs through 2023 and was announced on Monday.
His previous deal ran through the end of next season, so there was nothing urgent to get this done now, which meant I was most interested in what this meant for the future.
The speculation has always been that Vermes' next job could be with the U.S. men's national team. Vermes and co-owner Mike Illig wouldn't discuss the specifics of the contract, and what language is included to protect each side.
This is particularly relevant right now, with the national team looking for a coach and GM, and Vermes telling The Star he had preliminary talks with U.S. Soccer earlier this year.
All contracts can be broken, though, so I thought the best way to get an idea might be to ask Vermes — as the agent, not the coach and technical director — how much of the negotiation was spent on the mechanisms to protect Sporting from him taking another job.
"Not as much you think," he sad. "No. What I would say to you is, I think the national team job is a special job. If it's ever offered to you, it's humbling, it's an amazing position. It's the job of your nation, right?
"But it's not a club. It's a different function, right? It's a different every day. They're night and day. For me, I love the every day. I love the commitment of what I have. I also know that my situation is not normal. It's not normal. I'm not naive, that it's not normal. I take a lot of time to evaluate and see what this job is all about, what are the pros and cons.
"I say this all the time, and I think people think I'm kissing ass, but I'm really not. When you know the ownership group the way i know it ... Now, I have to win. I know that. If I don't win, I'm not going to be here. I'm not naive. But I also know what they want to accomplish with this as well, and I get a lot of say in that. Who doesn't want to have that opportunity?"
OK. So there's a lot to unpack here, starting with my belief that whenever someone is talking to a reporter and says, "What I would say to you is ..." that reporter is getting a polished version of the truth.
But, onward. I think his overall point is sound, that he's in a terrific spot right now, one that in some ways is even better than the national team. Or, at least, a better fit for him.
The national team is looking to hire a GM and a coach, and unless they're willing to consolidate both jobs, Vermes would need to cede control. If he was going to be the coach, he'd have to work with a GM. If Vermes was going to be the GM, he'd have to work with a coach.
You can imagine either situation going poorly.
Vermes' choice then, if he is given one, becomes accepting a smaller role in grander operation or to continue what he's called his life's work here in Kansas City.
There are so many moving parts here. The USMNT's needs and levels of interest will change yearly, monthly, sometimes even daily. Vermes is 51. He could conceivably stay working the same job(s) another 20 years. He could also have something of a midlife crisis, and decide he'd done enough with an MLS club, and that he'd view his career as incomplete if he didn't at least try something with the national team.
Vermes said over and over again on Monday — in group interviews and one-on-one — that he's committed to being at Sporting. I don't doubt that. If you've ever talked to him, or spent any time around him, you know he's committed.
But that doesn't mean he'll retire here, or even that he'll finish his new contract.
I don't have a strong feel for what he'll do. I could see either outcome. But I don't think this new contract means it's any likelier he'll be here in five years.
Royals are only 6 games back. At what point would you start to allow hope to creep back in?— Max Rieper (@maxrieper) May 7, 2018
Max got jokes, you guys.
The Royals were never as bad as that 5-20 start, and not just because no major-league baseball team is as bad as 5-20, not even the 2004 Royals, and the 2004 Royals once rolled out Ruben Mateo as their cleanup hitter.
This team has some pieces. Jakob Junis and Jorge Soler are perhaps the most important in terms of the future, at least until Jorge Bonifacio and Raul Mondesi and Josh Staumont and others join the club.
Junis has a knockout slider and a sort of supernatural confidence that should make him a productive starter for years, and those are agonizingly difficult to find. Jorge Soler will hit as long as his plate discipline holds up. Kelvin Herrera is as sharp as ever, Mike Moustakas is as productive as ever, and would-you-look-at-that Alex Gordon is hitting again.
So, this team has some pieces, and it's even probably true that worse teams have made the playoffs. But I would challenge you to find a worse team that's made the playoffs after a 5-20 start.
That's a real thing. Even if this was the 2015 Royals — and this is decidedly NOT the 2015 Royals — a 5-20 start would be awfully hard to erase.
If we're talking about the front office believing in contention, this group always had a higher bar to clear than any Royals team since at least 2011. Dayton Moore was always going to be biased to support a team with Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, particularly when they were surrounded by a youngish core with long-term club control.
The calculus changes when it's a group with more one-year mercenaries, and the farm system is such that in needs an influx of talent, and can't afford to chance an unlikely playoff spot by dealing the few assets they have.
The 2017 Twins are often used as the example of a team sneaking in, but that team had Byron Buxton, Ervin Santana, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, on and on. That is, objectively, a better collection of talent than the Royals have right now.
Look, crazier things have happened. But at the moment I'm struggling to come up with an example.
Human nature, my man. Or, I suppose more specifically: human nature backed by the juice to say it out loud.
Ben Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl, and probably isn't playing anywhere else after he leaves the Steelers. Joe Flacco has a massive contract and a Super Bowl ring. If we're comparing how they reacted to teams drafting their backups to Alex Smith, well, Smith had essentially no playoff success here and knew he wanted to keep playing. Different situations.
You can understand where those guys are coming from, right?
Goes beyond worrying about their own place on the team, because those guys are pretty secure. But Flacco is 33. Roethlisberger is 36, and has already thought about retirement. Tom Brady is skewing the reality that nobody plays forever, especially football players, and as your career goes on you have a better appreciation that these opportunities are finite.
Those guys want to win, and they want to do it now. By definition, using a high pick on a quarterback does not help those quarterbacks win. At best for the starter, it's an empty pick, a young know-nothing college kid asking questions, and an annoying question from reporters. At worst, it's the team's succession plan, and if it works, the starter becoming less valuable and important.
So, yeah. I get it.
Now, particularly here in Kansas City, the comparison to Smith is impossible not to consider.
I always say we don't know any of these guys, so nothing should shock us, but my interpretation is that Smith is as good a human being as I've covered. If I'm right about that, the way he carried himself the last 12 months here wasn't just about him thinking about the future.
It was also that he's unwilling to be anything but a pro. I can't imagine he wasn't disappointed that the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes. He had to be, for reasons that start with the succession plan and include Smith wanting the best roster to help him win now.
Don't you think he believes that with a little more help they might've been able to protect an 18-point home playoff lead?
But he never said anything like that, never even hinted at it.
There are plenty already, but yes, here's one more example of Smith being as good a man and human as you could expect.
Who are the top three Royals to be dealt at the trade deadline? Obviously just speculation.— R. Shaffer (@RoyalBlu73) May 7, 2018
Mike Moustakas and Kelvin Herrera are the easy ones, and after that you have a drop-off before you get to Jon Jay and Lucas Duda, but a few things to mention here.
First, the script changes if Danny Duffy's production rises, or if the Royals decide to commit so completely to a rebuild that they seriously consider trading Sal Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Jorge Soler. Ian Kennedy is outperformng his peripherals, and the Royals might have to eat some money there, but he's another possibility.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the returns may not blow your doors off. As good as Moose has been, he's the same guy who found virtually no interest in the winter. Herrera has been great, but like Moose would be a two-month-plus-postseason rental, and the trade market could include a lot of relief pitchers.
Nobody's going to give up much for Jay or Duda. The best return would be from Perez, and after that Duffy. You have to be willing to give up some talent and value to get it back. Soler is, in theory, more valuable in a smaller ballpark so if the Royals can find a team that believes this is his new normal then I'd be on board trading him, too.
In general, the Royals are in position to take some chances here. Think of it like investments. When you're in your 20s, it makes much more sense to be aggressive and risky in how you invest for retirement. When you're in your 50s and 60s, you want to protect what's yours.
Well, the Royals may not even be in their 20s yet, if we can use this imperfect analogy. They might as well take some chances.
OK, one more thing about the trade market. There are a lot of crappy teams in baseball. You may have noticed this. That means a lot of teams with no playoff hopes and players who could help contenders. That kind of supply could drive down the potential return, so that's one more thing to keep in mind as we move into the summer.
I've been saying this for a long time but it's been true for a long time: the Royals' TV contract is remarkably atrocious, and only grows more remarkably atrocious the more you look at it, the more you think about it, and the more that time goes on.
It was signed below market value, because the Glass family was desperate for a cash influx, and happened just before these deals really started to grow. The deal was longer than it should've been, and includes language that limits the team's ability and incentive to take the next negotiation to the free market. Also, the deal may be expiring just as these contracts start to lose value.
I'm told by people on both sides that the fact the Royals stink right now doesn't have as much impact on the size of the next deal as you might think. Factors like market size, historical ratings, and at this moment perhaps most importantly market factors like cord cutting will be much more relevant.
But, even with that, this was truly a tour de force of wretched business sense by the Glass family and the business department that was basically cleaned out shortly after the contract was signed.
The contract runs through the end of next season. My understanding is that the two sides have had preliminary talks, but nothing too serious yet. Those talks should ramp up as this season goes on, with something likely done before next season begins.
The Royals' hope all along has been that more bidders surface. Maybe Google, maybe Amazon, maybe Netflix. That hasn't materialized, at least not yet, and the people I've talked to in TV are dubious that those industry giants would jump in with a relatively small fish like Royals baseball.
I'm not well versed enough on what ESPN's purchase means for the Royals, but I'm not sure it fundamentally changes much. They still have a contract that ties their hands on the next negotiation. If anything, perhaps it puts the Royals in a slightly worse position, because it's a different ownership group, one they're less familiar with. But those are issues that should be relatively easy to smith.
I'm perhaps most interested in the non-traditional parts of the next deal — most notably, how they handle streaming.
I do think that, no matter what, the Royals are going to get much more money on the next deal. Could be three times as much. But the timing of the current deal continues to work against the club's financial interests. The Glass family signed that deal, and they're still here to sign the next one.
Without question. I've thought this for, literally, more than a decade.
Halls of Fame are subjective, and as time goes on I wonder if they mean a little less. We have so many ways to quantify accomplishments, or to remember careers, I'm not sure the label of being a Hall of Famer means as much as it once did.
I also believe baseball's Hall of Fame has a lot of issues, most obviously the continued exclusion of Marvin Miller. Buck O'Neil is another obvious whiff, though I give the Hall a load of credit for correcting it. Truly, if you've been to the museum in Cooperstown, you will see that Buck has a much bigger presence in that building now than he would if he was one of a few hundred small plaques in a big gallery.
This is oversimplified at times, but particularly when considering men who weren't players, I like the "can you fully tell the history of the game without this person?" standard.
I'm not sure how many people you could name who've changed baseball in the last two or three decades more than James.
I can't think of any.
In the beginning, he changed the way a lot of us watched baseball, and thought about baseball. And that was impactful enough on its own. Think how cool that is. A generation, now two, look and think and digest baseball differently because of James' work. His willingness to challenge convention, to push boundaries, and as much as anything else to not tolerate b.s. altered how a lot of us watch and love baseball.
But now, in the last 10 or 15 years, that's extended to changing how baseball is played. How it's managed. How it's run. He's changed how players are valued, and paid, and traded and signed and released and remembered.
That is an incredible accomplishment.
He doesn't need to be in the Hall of Fame to validate any of that. But the Hall of Fame probably needs him to better tell the story of baseball.
Can you help explain to Chiefs fans why when a player like DJ goes to a rival to end their career after we have already released them it should not affect their legacy here?DJ was a great Chief and wasn’t ready to stop playing football.— Jimmy Dwyer (@jimmyjay555) May 7, 2018
It's weird. Awkward. I think we'd all agree with that. Derrick Johnson has been such a central part of the Chiefs' identity for so long, the franchise's all-time leader in tackles, and that's a record that I'm not sure will be broken the way football is played right now.
On some level we know that we're rooting for laundry, but there are precious few better examples than when a player who's so fully beloved by a fan base goes to play for a franchise that's so fully despised by that same fan base.
I think we'd all agree with that.
But the only loyalty in sports comes from fans, to teams.
Players aren't loyal to teams — George Brett has repeatedly said he'd have gone to the Yankees if they offered more money.
Teams aren't loyal to players — the Colts cut Peyton Manning.
Teams aren't loyal to fans — three NFL teams have moved or announced moves in the last two years.
Fans are loyal, at least most of them, and sometimes that means they expect loyalty in return. But Derrick Johnson would still be with the Chiefs if the Chiefs wanted him. They don't, so he's supposed to care what they think about his next employer? This is bonkers, like feeling you have a say in who your ex decides to date.
Johnson gave more to the Chiefs than he got back. He was benched here, overlooked here, and took less money to stay here. He's an example of professionalism and class, because the Chiefs have given him enough reasons over the years to be disloyal.
From the Chiefs' perspective, DJ is no longer an effective enough player to justify the roster spot and cost. They're moving on. That's what they should do.
From the player's perspective, he only gets one shot at this, loves the game, and feels like he can still play. A team agrees. He's going to play. That's what he should do.
This is how it's always worked in sports. It's how it always will work in sports.
Since we never hear of a Glass family ownership succession plan can we only assume team is gonna sold soon?— GreatKansasLandscape (@KansasLawns) May 7, 2018
I haven't heard the succession plan, but my understanding is that Dan Glass would be fully in charge. There are a lot of factors here, because if Dayton Moore is still around he'll have more juice inside the organization than a new GM.
One thing that's easy to miss, though. Glass is often described as interested only in profits, and I believe that's demonstrably false because if it was true he'd have sold shortly after the parade.
Franchise value would've been at its highest point, he'd have been able to go out with a championship, and walk away from baseball with the self-satisfaction of owning a world champion.
Maybe that will happen at some point. But if it was just about money, he'd have already sold for a price that would likely be ten times what he paid.
So, he must fundamentally enjoy the mechanics of owning a big-league franchise, or the idea of leaving something for his family, or some combination of the two.
I'll also say this: as much criticism as Glass has taken and at times deserved, if you're in Kansas City you'd rather he own the team than put it up for sale to someone who may be less tied to the area.
We have a few billionaires in town, but aside from speculation tied to Cerner co-founder and Sporting Kansas City co-owner Cliff Illig, precious little indication that any would be motivated to spend $1 billion or so to buy a baseball team.
So, I actually don't think it's that bad. Let me explain.
Felipe Gutierrez is a terrific player. He was player of the month his first month in MLS. He is a dynamic scorer on a club that needs dynamic scorers. He's the highest-paid player on the team, and worth the money.
But, this is what Sporting does, or at least what it has done. It deals with absences. Players get hurt. The club moves on. That's the strength of a system that relies more on team than individual, but it goes beyond that.
Because he'll be back and, barring a major surprise, he'll be back at full strength. The two to three month timeline laid out by the team means he should be back soon enough to work back into the club before the postseason, too.
In the meantime, Sporting will have to cope. It will have to find different ways of playing, different ways of scoring, and once they have Gutierrez back this can only strengthen the club.
Look, I don't know if I'm twisting my brain to come up with something positive here. Maybe. But I don't think of this as a torpedo, or even a major impediment to the team's goals.
The timing is in Sporting's favor. Injuries are never good. I just don't see this one as particularly bad.
With the Royals being pretty bad and plenty of time before training camp, will this summer look any different for you professionally? Curious if you have any off the beaten path stories you're pursuing, or if you're just pre-writing all your Mahomes stories now :)— Marshall Miller (@iammarshall913) May 7, 2018
Well, it certainly is different than the summer of 2014 or 2015. Or, if we're totally honest, even 2016.
But that's part of what I like about my job. No two days are exactly the same, and no two years are exactly the same.
So, yes, absolutely. This summer will be different. Assuming we don't see a miracle, nobody's going to be interested in a column about where the Royals are in the race, or the mechanics of how they won or lost any particular game.
But people are always going to be interested in the Royals. They're always going to want to know about their team, they're always going to have time for interesting stories. I just need to find them.
Your timing with this email is interesting. I've spent much of the last few days trying to think of stories you might consider "off the beaten path." Hopefully, I'd be doing that anyway. I love those stories, and think they hold a particular value to readers that extends beyond the clicks or reads it might generate.
I'm some combination of paranoid and insecure enough to not want to give examples here, but I think you'll see an example or two this week, and hopefully somewhat regularly into the near future.
This is always the time of year to do some of that, anyway. Football and basketball aren't happening in any real way, and even the Royals and Sporting are months away from the postseason*.
* Sporting has different competitions throughout the season, but you get the point.
Maybe the particulars of this Royals team put a bigger emphasis on that, but hopefully these are all things I'd be thinking about anyway.
Oh, good grief.
If you're going to let me say just one, it's Dan Wetzel at Yahoo. There are simply no holes in his game. His reporting, writing, production, news judgment, and approach are all best in class.
His job is much harder than he makes it look. Writing about different sports, at different levels, in different parts of the country is an excellent way to expose yourself as a fraud. But Wetzel's been doing this well over a decade now at Yahoo, and he's only building credibility. He's strong on the NFL, on the NBA, on college football and college basketball. He's strong on MMA, on golf, on scandals, and on the mechanics of how sports work.
I am continually in awe of his work. I don't know how he does it.
I believe Gregg Doyel is the best at what I do, and by that I mean a sports columnist for a specific market. He's passionate, knowledgable, works hard, and has a remarkable gift for being able to find and see the best stories.
I'm a little hesitant to pick out names like this, because there are, literally, hundreds of incredibly talented and hard-working people whose work I admire. I call many of them co-workers (Vahe, Blair, Newell, Maria, etc.). I've called many of them co-workers (Liz Merrill, Andy McCullough, Jeff Passan, Terez Paylor, etc.). I call many others friends (Seth Wickersham, Jerry Brewer, Greg Bishop, Derrick Goold, etc.). Others I admire from afar (Sally Jenkins, Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, Bill Barnwell).
That's 16 and, literally, I could name a hundred more without much thought. Wright Thompson, Benjamin Hochman, Berry Tramel, Bruce Arthur, Bill Plaschke, Mike Vaccaro, Joe Posnanski, Michael Rosenberg, Kent Babb, Barry Svrluga, Lee Jenkins, Dave Sheinin, S.L. Price, Eli Saslow (when he's not winning Pulitzers for writing important stuff), seriously, I did not pause when typing this list but will stop now because we should probably get moving on at some point.
I believe this with all my heart. As easy as it is to complain or criticize the media, and much of it we bring on ourselves, there is a greater volume of good sports writing right now than at any point in history. There's also more terrible sports writing than at any point in history, so it's up to us to choose wisely.
Was yesterday the greatest weather day in KC history? Not too hot in the sun, not too cold in the shade, no wind, pool open, grill hot. Not a cloud in the sky— Alexander LeRoy (@alhenton) May 7, 2018
Alexander is talking about Sunday, and it really was fairly ridiculous. Happy to say we took full advantage, too. Birthday party at the park in the morning, mowed the lawn in the afternoon, and a 4-year-old T-ball game (seriously) after that.
The day ended with a bunch of kids running through our sprinklers, soaking wet and muddy and exhausted with laughter by the time the water stopped. The only thing it didn't have was a grill working the whole day.
This is prime time. It's getting a little hot this week, but I keep reminding myself that there will be many weeks in the next few months where we'd kill to have highs in the 80s.
My favorite thing about right now is driving with the windows down and the sunroof open. It's a little problematic on the highway, but if you're on the streets, there's nothing better.
With College graduations rapidly approaching, what do you wish someone had told you after you finished, and/or what's your favorite piece of advice for new grads?— Will Weber (@WeberwillKU) May 7, 2018
There are mechanical things, some I knew, some I didn't:
Networking and connections are sometimes as important as your work. Find someone who does what you want to do, and ask them how they did it. Show up. Always, always, always. Show up. Whatever you lack in experience and competency, you can often make up for with hard work, and when your experience and competency catch up then you'll really be a badass.
There are things bigger than work, too. You really don't have an appreciation for it when you're 22 or whatever, but you can be anything you want. Failure will never be less of an obstacle, and more helpful, than it is straight out of college.
You should take risks, lots of risks, professionally and personally because you'll never again be in such great position to squash those that backfire and take advantage of those that hit.
You should travel. This is one I heard over and over again, and never really cared about, and now I regret. Really, I don't have a lot of regrets in life, even after all the mistakes I've made, but this is one. I had friends who lived in Bangkok, and I should have visited. I had a mom who wanted to go to Europe with me, and it took me until my 30s to do it. I've never been to South America, or Asia, or Vancouver or Montana or on an African safari.
All of that would've been much easier when I was 24 than now, and that's even accounting for the fact that I was broke.
But the biggest thing would be to get uncomfortable. I try to remind myself of that now, because I can make my life incredibly comfortable if I want. But the profit is in the discomfort. It's in trying things you're not sure you can do, whether it's work or with a workout or dish to cook or something with your kids.
I think the best memories a lot of us have are from moments we were uncomfortable. I know the best accomplishments a lot of us have come after we've been uncomfortable.
I believe with all my heart that sadness and disappointment should be embraced, because without it there is no happiness. Similarly, I believe discomfort and different perspectives should be embraced, because without it there is no growth.
Well, so, this is another question with incredible timing. Jake is asking because Boulevard is releasing a collaboration with Tech N9ne which, obviously, includes pineapple.
But there's something else. I know I'm burying the lede here, but the heroes at Double Shift Brewing have allowed me to tag along in the process of making a beer. They're calling it a collaboration, which is a generous way of them saying they invited me down to the brewery a couple times to talk about beer and drink beer and help create a new beer.
I'm really excited about this. It's a cool thing they allowed me to do. We still need a name for it, but the release will be later this month at the brewery.
This week, I'm particularly grateful for having so many terrific memories and helpful lessons from my mom. She died a year ago this week, and Mother's Day is Sunday, so this has all been on my mind more than usual. The other day, out of nowhere, our 4-year-old pointed to the chair I was sitting in and said, "That's Gigi's chair." I was thrilled he remembered, and it made me think of all the ways I'm her son, which in turn means there are ways those boys are her grandsons.
I started ending the Minutes this way after she died, and I think of her every time I do. It really does help. I know I'm lucky, and have been over and over again in my life.