Sam Mellinger

Mellinger Minutes: Chiefs’ game of the year, a palatable loss, Bob Sutton fret & more

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill: ‘As the second half went along, we started figuring them out’

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill says despite the slow start to the game, the offense was still able to get it done because 'Pat is gonna be Pat' after a 43-40 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.
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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill says despite the slow start to the game, the offense was still able to get it done because 'Pat is gonna be Pat' after a 43-40 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

There’s no wrong way to be a sports fan, so hopefully this doesn’t come across all judgy, but sometimes in the rush for declarations and Search For Meaning we can lose touch with why we ever began to care about these games.

The Chiefs’ wildly entertaining 43-40 loss at New England on Sunday felt like one of those moments, at least to me.

There’s a lot to unpack. Patrick Mahomes’ ascent is happening faster than even those who drafted him expected. Tyreek Hill is one of the best players in the league. The Chiefs’ defense is a hot mess, with enough problems to share blame between the coordinator, the players, and the front office who put it all together.

We can talk about Jordan Shaw left one-on-one with Rob Gronkowski in a crucial moment, and the rules that incentivized Breeland Speaks to let go of Tom Brady, and an interesting play in which the Chiefs double covered three Patriots receivers.

We’ll talk about most of that and more, and will continue to do it over the next few months.

But if all this game does is provide new debate points, then I’m in the wrong business, and a lot of us should find new ways to spend our time. Because that game was fun, and that’s the whole point here. It was the most anticipated game of the season, and somehow it turned out to be the most exciting, too.

Some of that is with the story lines we all follow. The old quarterback against the young one, the bull tight end on one side and the flash of lightning on the other.

But much of it is in those moments, too, of Tyreek Hill streaking down the field, of Patrick Mahomes rolling left and throwing 30 yards downfield sidearmed, of one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history going down the field one more time in one more fourth quarter for one more game winning kick.

We saw Kareem Hunt’s toughness, we saw Dee Ford lined up one-on-one on the outside with Rob Gronkowski, we saw Tremon Smith sprinting down the sideline, we saw moments hang in the air with physically gifted men who put their lives into preparing for those moments desperate to make a play.

We can nitpick around the edges. The pendulum has swung too far in favor of offense and protection. The Patriots need to be called for a penalty every once in a while. We can go on.

But that was football at close to its best — two strong teams, with terrifically talented quarterbacks stretching the limits of what the sport can provide.

Best part is we’ll probably get to see it again, too, with a lot more on the line.

This week’s eating recommendation is the steamed pork dumplings at Blue Koi, and the reading recommendation is Neil deMause on what we can learn from four stadium deals that don’t suck.

Please give me a follow on Facebook and Twitter, and as always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Have you ever been more encouraged by a Chiefs loss? Banged up defense, down 2 OL starters, down 24-9 at half, and STILL almost won on the road in Foxborough. I can&#39;t remember ever being more ok with not winning a game.</p>&mdash; Tyler Watterson (@thebiggszone) <a href=”https://twitter.com/thebiggszone/status/1051841767627153409?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Well, no. And I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a losing locker room that felt more encouraged.

It’s worth stressing here that there is typically no sadder or angrier place in sports than a losing locker room in the NFL. There’s so much time between games, and the opportunities are too precious. Stars will be OK either way, but most players aren’t stars. They can be cut on a whim, and often those whims are determined by wins and losses.

So in that context, it really was striking to walk through the Chiefs locker room and hear this undented confidence. They were happier after this loss than they were after the win last year, because that joy was sapped by Eric Berry’s torn Achilles.

Makes sense, too. You listed most of the reasons. The defense was overmatched, but they also expect Eric Berry and Justin Houston back soon. Mentioned this in the game column, but those guys are critical, and not just because they’re All-Pros.

Chris Jones might be the team’s best defender right now, and Dee Ford the best pass rusher. But Berry and Houston are the most versatile, and with the basketball-ization of the NFL that versatility has never been more valuable. When those guys get back, they give the Chiefs more ways to play matchups (so Jordan Shaw isn’t one-on-one with Gronk) and more consistent pressure (so Tom Brady can’t be as comfortable, and the run plays aren’t as effective to Houston’s side).

This is also important: if there is a rematch in the playoffs, the Chiefs have the inside lane on playing that game at home.

The Patriots now own the tiebreaker, obviously, but the Chiefs are a game ahead with a schedule that now loosens.

Just four of the remaining 10 games are against teams with winning records, and three of those are at home. The Chiefs will likely be favored in each of their remaining games, except for the Rams in Mexico City.

The Patriots play three of their next four on the road, including trips to first-place Chicago and Tennessee.

But more than all of that, the Chiefs have proof they can play with the Patriots, even in Foxborough, even without two stars critical to what they do.

They could have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC with a win on Sunday night, but it was never going to be easy.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is expecting the young guys can learn from Sunday's October 14, 2018 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sutton, why? (shorter)</p>&mdash; Reed Herzig (@ReedHerzig) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ReedHerzig/status/1051847633663381504?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Look, I believe someone other than Bob Sutton should be the Chiefs defensive coordinator. I think he’s a good coach, who has done well overall in Kansas City, but who is now longer effective. The measure of a coach is whether the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and since the beginning of last season the opposite has been true.

So this is not a defense of his performance the last two seasons. Just a fact:

The players aren’t good enough.

His top four safeties are injured. Two of his top three pass rushers. The inability of the inside linebackers to consistently tackle isn’t the coordinator’s fault. The Chiefs were this close to trading for one of the game’s best safeties, but then his leg broke.

So the criticisms should not be limited to Sutton. Brett Veach has had two full offseasons in charge, and the players themselves need to executive better.

Also, being involved with defense in today’s NFL is a little like being a nutritionist for a pack of first graders at Halloween.

My biggest criticism of Sutton the last two years is a lack of adjustment. He has been unable to be effective without Berry, and too often puts his players in matchups they can’t win. We’ve sen this most often and obviously this season with the inside linebackers covering in space.

But if Berry returns, and is even 90 percent of himself, that starts to change significantly. Likely won’t change my mind about needing a new coordinator, but just something to keep in mind.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">so in two weeks, we have the jaguars saying they’ll see the chiefs again and the chiefs saying they’ll see the patriots again. who’s right?</p>&mdash; Coleman Brockmeier (@cbrock126) <a href=”https://twitter.com/cbrock126/status/1051834056156086273?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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The genius of the NFL is its week-to-week unpredictability, so any certainty about what the playoffs will look like requires either delusion or playing pretend.

But the Patriots have been a pretty good bet. You probably know they’ve played in eight Super Bowls in 17 seasons with Brady as the starting quarterback, but did you know that in four others they lost in the AFC Championship? So, 12 of Brady’s 17 seasons the AFC has been represented by the Patriots or the team that beat the Patriots.

This would be a worthwhile point even if the Jaguars hadn’t been 40-balled by the Cowboys.

At the moment, to me at least, the AFC looks like this:

The Chiefs and Patriots are the best two teams, and then there’s a bit of a gap before a deep and muddy second tier that looks like this:

  • The Jaguars have given up 70 points the last two weeks, and there’s not enough on offense to win playoff games without that changing, but there’s too much talent and pride for this to be the new normal.
  • The Chargers are rolling, and their only two losses this season are against the Chiefs and Rams.
  • The Ravens have given up 14 or fewer points in all but one game.
  • The Bengals may have been exposed on Sunday. That’s a game they need to win.
  • I’m not sure anyone else matters, though the Texans are worth keeping an eye on if Deshaun Watson progresses because their defense is better than you think.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Maybe the Chiefs are holding Berry out to do a reverse Strasburg, make sure he’s healthy for the playoffs?</p>&mdash; Corey Anglemyer (@canglem) <a href=”https://twitter.com/canglem/status/1051843805832536065?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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This has always made sense, and it’s part of the context, but not the whole part.

This is not about the Chiefs holding him out. This is about Eric Berry telling them he’s ready. This is about pain management, confidence, and mental scars from past injuries.

It’s complicated, in other words.

Normally, if a team is waiting on a player to say he’s ready, because the tests are clear but pain and uncertainty remain, you might think the player is either soft or working for his next contract.

Neither explanation fits with Berry, even a little bit, so we start to look for other reasons. I believe that Berry is being cautious, and not for one reason but for several:

  • He’s had season-ending injuries in two season openers, so perhaps he’s wanting to err on the side of caution before he begins another season.
  • The Chiefs are 5-1 without him, so there’s no external rush.
  • The Super Bowl is in Atlanta, his hometown, which makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Playing now would be great, but ultimately meaningless if he’s unable to finish.

All that said, I do believe he’ll return, perhaps soon, and I would not be shocked if he practices this week.

Kansas City Chiefs Eric Berry hasn't returned to playing in games, and head coach Andy Reid says he is still making progress and is day to day.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who&#39;s been the most disappointing player on the defense?</p>&mdash; Scott Kent (@ScottKent66) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ScottKent66/status/1051834844022525952?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Anthony Hitchens, edging out Reggie Ragland based on the higher expectations that come with a big free agent contract.

The Chiefs gave him a $25 million guarantee, which is a big number for a guy who does not rush the passer or cover receivers. He was supposed to strengthen the spine of the defense, particularly against the run, and he’s too often swept away by linemen.

Some of that is on the guys in front of him to occupy those blockers, but he’s a big boy, and he needs to be better on his own. The problems in coverage would be more palatable if he was making a more consistent impact against the run. As it stands, he is doing neither, at least not consistently.

Among 53 inside linebackers with at least 200 snaps, Ragland ranks 50th in tackling according to Pro Football Focus.

Paired together, the Chiefs have been significantly worse against the run this year than last — they’re giving up 5.4 yards per rush, compared to 4.3 last year. To put that in perspective, Jamaal Charles is the NFL’s all-time leader in yards per carry at 5.4.

The Chiefs are, basically, turning every running back they see into the most efficient ballcarrier in league history.

That’s an enormous problem and, again, Sutton and Veach share in this. But the players make plays, or don’t, and right now they’re not.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland talks about his knee swelling after an airplane trip and the defense improving against the run at training camp in St. Joe.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">If your Brett Veach do you do whatever you can to get Patrick Peterson?</p>&mdash; Paul DeSantis (@PDeSantis29) <a href=”https://twitter.com/PDeSantis29/status/1051833763058081794?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 15, 2018</a></blockquote>

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This is complicated, but the shortest answer is no.

The somewhat less short answer is you should never be so desperate for a midseason trade that you’ll do “whatever you can” to make a deal.

The more nuanced answer is that, yes, they should seriously consider this but will run into cap challenges, and should only do it if the price is palatable and they’ve exhausted efforts to improve in more pressing areas like safety and linebacker.

Because there is no doubt that Peterson would make the Chiefs better, but the NFL is about efficiency, and the more efficient path for the Chiefs to improve would be with help at safety or linebacker.

There are a lot of moving parts here, most obviously the health of Berry and Houston. I do believe the Chiefs when they say they expect both back, but I would not believe the Chiefs if they expressed total confidence that each player would remain healthy.

Internally, there has to be a feeling about which player is more likely to be injured again, and that has to be accounted for in deciding where to pursue outside help.

I do believe the Chiefs will make a deal. Veach has shown himself to be aggressive, and there’s a sense of urgency to support Mahomes in every way possible.

That doesn’t mean a deal at any cost. Mahomes has three more years of his rookie deal, and almost certainly more time in Kansas City after that. Blowing draft capital on help now may feel good in the moment, but it’s also a good way to give yourself regret in the future.

I’m basically just cross-referencing Pro Football Focus’ grades against teams that may be willing to go into a hard rebuild, but the Chiefs should be asking about Landon Collins, Damontae Kazee, Jordan Poyer, and others.

Football is changing, in so many ways. We talk a lot about this in terms of play calls, but more teams are willing to rebuild, to stockpile draft picks, and to make midseason trades.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Is it still possible to love Mahomes and despise A-Rod?</p>&mdash; Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) <a href=”https://twitter.com/billjamesonline/status/1051509189942673410?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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This is something close to the perfect question, and you should all learn from Bill and try to be more like him — and not just because he’s giving me a chance to link a column with insight from Alex Rodriguez, Patrick Mahomes, and his mother Randi.

My favorite part of the story is that it shows how different people mean so many different things. That has nothing to do with how I wrote the story, obviously, and actually is an example of how I could’ve done it better.

Maybe you despise A-Rod because he used steroids. Maybe you despise him not because he used, but because he lied about it. Maybe you despise him because you’re a Red Sox fan, or because of that weird glove slap at first base, or any other reason. That’s all fine and your right.

But Mahomes doesn’t care about any of that. He didn’t watch A-Rod as a fan. He watched him as a kid who saw behind the curtain at everything that went into a game he grew up loving. He saw the best player in the world working anyway. He saw a man gifted with natural talent, but still taking early BP and grounders like the 25th man.

Former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez visits with Kansas City Royals' Fox Sports Kansas City announcer Rex Hudler while Rodriguez prepares for his broadcast booth debut with Fox Sports 1. Rodriguez debut is scheduled for Thursday's game between th

More than any of that, perhaps, he saw a genuine superstar who went out of his way to be nice.

That’s a cool thing, and worth respecting.

This is going to go in a direction Bill didn’t intend, and some of you might roll your eyes out, but remembering that people are complicated and layered is one of the most important parts of this job and also life.

Like, I try to be a good person, but fail every day. I lose patience, or I drive too fast, or I don’t think enough about what the other person is going through. I’m know there are times I am a jerk, and if that’s someone’s only exposure to me, they’ll fairly judge me on that.

The opposite can be true, too. There is a 100 percent certainty that someone who’s cut me off in traffic, or said something I didn’t like, or been unnecessarily rude is a good person when judged on the whole. Maybe they’re obnoxious on Twitter, or maybe they’re in my business and do their job in a way I feel makes us all look bad, but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.

We’re different things to different people. I thought it was cool to see A-Rod through Mahomes’ experience.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Why did the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Royals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Royals</a> think Eric Hosmer was better than Lorenzo Cain?</p>&mdash; Taco Salazar (@TacoSalazar) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TacoSalazar/status/1051476582693519361?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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I’m not sure they did. They built around Lorenzo Cain, in many ways. As much as anyone else, he embodied the athleticism, speed, defense, scout-over-numbers, hard working ethos that pushed the Royals from the bottom to a parade*.

*Drink

I think you’re referring to Hosmer being the one they tried to sign in free agency, and not Cain. That had less to do with who was the better player, and more with who they thought would be a better player in three or four years.

Cain is a star. He is also 32, and will be 33 in April. He has a history of soft-tissue injuries, and his value dips if and when he has to move from center field. For a team that wasn’t expecting to win for a few years, that’s a tough investment.

Let’s say the Royals expected to have a winner by 2021. Hosmer will be 31 then, Cain 35. That’s a huge difference.

Age wasn’t the only thing. Much of the Royals’ love for Hosmer was about — as John Dorsey would say — his person. He was something like the perfect teammate. He helped bridge the inherent divide between Spanish speakers and English speakers, he worked hard but wasn’t showy about it, genuinely rooted for and helped his teammates, was great in the community and always willing to stand in front of his locker and answer questions.

Former Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer reflected on his seasons in Kansas City during his news conference Tuesday announcing his signing with the San Diego Padres.

As much as anything else, that’s what Dayton Moore wanted to buy for the next wave of talent.

Cain is a great teammate, but his reputation is more as Robin than Batman. He what executives and coaches refer to as a low-maintenance star, which is an incredible thing in the right environment, but the Royals preferred the more active profile of Hosmer.

Whatever it’s worth, it worked out the way it should have. The Royals shouldn’t have been spending $25 million a year on any player, not with a bad team, and in that way got lucky. David Glass pulling Moore’s highest offer and the Padres beating it anyway was the best way this could have gone.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your profession?</p>&mdash; Adam Booman (@AdamNewman913) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AdamNewman913/status/1051476974596759552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Well, first, let’s state the obvious right here. It’s a really weird job. My livelihood is based on enough people being interested in enough in grown men playing kids games that they’ll spend enough time reading about it all so that my family and I can eat and have beds to sleep in.

My job description includes building relationships with the grown adults who have dedicated their lives to being the best at these kids games. Sometimes, those relationships are built or broken in locker rooms, where they have just failed or succeeded in front of large numbers of friends and family and strangers. One trick they don’t teach you in school is how to properly wait out a naked man getting dressed.

Some want to get it over with as quickly as possible, which means a towel if you’re lucky, some just want to throw on a shirt, others put a lot of thought into what they’ll wear and they want to get it just right, and a few are named Dee Ford and will always be the last to get ready, always be genuinely surprised you want to talk to them, and always say something interesting or funny or memorable.

The biggest misconception is how we view results, and I get it. Consciously or otherwise, we all tend to view things through our own prisms, and the people who consume what we do tend to care deeply about the results — it’s their favorite team, their favorite player, they made a bet, it effects their fantasy team, whatever.

I do not care deeply about the results.

Every once in a while here we get into the difference between how fans and sports writers watch the same games. We don’t need to do that with this particular question, I don’t think, but the gist is that I root for me — I want a good story, a good column, a good moment, something that people will want to read about*.

*Patrick Mahomes is a gift, I’m telling you.

This manifests itself most clearly with college sports, because those are personal for lots of people in a way that professional sports simply can’t match. Merely pointing out that one team lost will bring emails and voicemails and tweets accusing you of hating their school, and pointing out another won will do the same with accusations of being a homer.

I graduated from Kansas, and am a sports columnist in Kansas City, so I hear about this constantly, but it’s not exactly how I would have expected. There are some Mizzou fans who seem genuinely offended when I write about their teams. One called to say he was canceling his subscription after I did the game at South Carolina.

“What gives you the right?” he asked in a voicemail.

Then there are some Kansas fans who seem genuinely offended I don’t root for their teams. Several called to say they were canceling their subscriptions when we were writing about the Josh Jackson stuff a few years ago.

“You should be ashamed to do that to your school,” one wrote in an email.

So, that’s probably the biggest misconception. There are others.

  • I don’t travel with the teams.
  • I can’t drink with you at your tailgate, fun as that would be.
  • That’s awesome if you want to meet up after a game, but I’ll be a few hours, at least.
  • I’ve never seen Everybody Loves Raymond, and won’t understand the reference. Thankfully, this comes up less than it used to.
  • They’re not going to pull my credential for writing something mean, same as they’re not going to invite me into their next meeting if I say something nice. They’re humans, so sometimes they get mad, but as long as both sides are professional it doesn’t last long.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Does Mizzou win more than 4 games this year? I don&#39;t see them being bowl eligible the way they&#39;re playing.</p>&mdash; mike (@mkann82) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mkann82/status/1051476596870135808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Not just yes, but seven wins is absolutely in play.

They opened as a seven-point favorite against Memphis for Homecoming. So there’s four. After that, it’s Kentucky at home, at Florida, Vandy at home, at Tennessee, and Arkansas at home.

Tennessee just had a nice win at Auburn, but before Saturday, the last three teams on that schedule were probably the consensus worst three teams in the SEC.

Look, they’ll have to play better. Obviously. They’ll have to be more coherent, they’ll have to be more resilient, and Drew Lock will have to make better decisions in the pocket and better throws outside of it.

Mizzou is strong enough athletically to compete in every game remaining. It is not strong enough athletically to win the majority of them without playing well, and cleanly.

We’ve been through this before, though. A 1-5 start and a 6-1 finish last year. Wins against Vandy and Arkansas that showed they hadn’t quit in Barry Odom’s first season in 2016. So who the Tigers have been so far does not have to define who they’ll be going forward.

That doesn’t mean that everything is roses. There are some real problems here, and even a 6-6 season would be a rotten look for a defensive coach who was gifted a fourth year from Drew Lock.

Speaking of Lock, he has a lot of money riding on these last six games (plus a potential bowl). The quarterback class isn’t great, but there’s not much separation between three or four guys after Justin Herbert. That’s the difference between the first round, and second, or possibly third.

He looks the part, both physically and athletically. His arm is plenty. So he’ll get the benefit of the doubt, but at some point scouts are going to ask why he doesn’t win more, why he doesn’t elevate his teammates, and why he’s a four-year starter who still pump fakes in the end zone and takes a safety.

I root for Lock. He’s a Kansas City kid, chose the school he grew up rooting for, and came back for another year when he could’ve cashed in. That’s a good story. The ending won’t be what he wanted in terms of team success, but he can still write his own reputation with how he finishes his senior year.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just moved to New York a few months back. What&#39;s one New York thing you wish KC had? Vice versa?</p>&mdash; Brandan (@BrandanKC) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BrandanKC/status/1051483679044882432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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New York’s energy, creativity, and diversity of ideas and backgrounds and worldview is something every other city in the country would be better with. The ease of walking and public transportation, too. Ride-sharing companies have made Kansas City much better without a car of your own, but walkability is still a long way off.

But if you’re asking for just one thing — confidence. Security. New Yorkers can cross over to arrogance, but there is such a fundamental understanding there that it is unique and critical. I talk sometimes here about Kansas City’s civic inferiority complex, and I do think it’s not the problem or issue it used to be, but it’s still there, just under the surface.

There’s a lot of Kansas City that could make New York better, too, and I’m maybe only a little bit joking when I say part of it is the airport. LaGuardia is one of the worst places on earth. Those renovations can’t come fast enough. What LaGuardia lacks in basic function it makes up for in raunch stink.

But, really. There’s more than that. Kansas City is friendly and accessible in a way that New York just isn’t. Convenience is sort of a weird thing to brag about, but these cities are opposite ends of the spectrum, and it’s sort of like a sunroof in your car — you don’t know you need one until you have one and after that it’s hard to go back.

Cost of living is an obvious one, but a lot of what we’re talking about here are the advantages and disadvantages of big vs. small. These are two of my favorite places in the world, each with unique charms, great food, enough to keep you interested.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Favorite part of KC -- that isn&#39;t your own neighborhood -- for a jog? (Yeah, I&#39;m trying to guilt you into going. Even half-assed, it&#39;ll feel good to get out and exercise. You know it&#39;s true.)</p>&mdash; Elizabeth (@ebelden) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ebelden/status/1051483079196446727?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Elizabeth is being nice here, and was trying to change my mind after I mentioned I was procrastinating a jog the other day, so I’m here to tell you I did it. I went out, and I ran and, nobody likes a bragger, but I’d say it was at least 2/3-assed.

Maybe even 3/4.

When I lived downtown, I loved just going through the streets, without a real plan, sometimes crossing the street because there was no traffic and sometimes turning based on the stoplights. Always seemed like I noticed at least one thing I hadn’t before. City Market was fun, too, though you had to time it right if you were on a weekend. Sometimes I’d go down by the river.

Now, Loose Park is probably my favorite. There’s always a good energy there — other people on the trails, and if it’s a nice day, the playground is usually loaded and that always makes me happy. The scenery is great, too. Beautiful old houses I can’t afford surrounding an expansive park with a pond.

Functionally it works, too. There’s a bathroom, water fountains, and the asphalt is fairly soft, which I like. It’s about 1 1/3 miles around if you loop on the outside, which to me is perfect. Too much repetition and I get bored, but at that distance you can still pick your distance — two laps is a quick run, three is solid, four ambitious.

But, really. Usually I’m just going around the neighborhood. Walk out the door, start running. Like I said before, convenience, man.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Do you close you blinds up or down?</p>&mdash; Joshua (@Joshoshbgosh) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Joshoshbgosh/status/1051477394903748614?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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My wife and I tend to have a handful of silent fights going on at any particular time, and the one that’s stood the test of time is our STRONG TAKES on this very issue.

She’s an interior designer, and I’m not just saying this because she’s my wife, but she’s great at it. Really. She’s terrific. Part of that is this meticulous attention to detail, like which light bulbs go in which lamps, and a firm belief that blinds look better when they’re closed down.

I am, well, not an interior designer. In the balance between aesthetics or function, I will defend function like it’s my only child. And the fact is that when blinds are closed up, they do a better job of keeping the room dark, which is the whole point of closing them in the first place.

I do not see room for compromise here.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">When was the first time you tasted your daddy’s “ice cream brew” and what was your first impression?

How has that view changed today?</p>&mdash; Ryan Wray (@theRyanWray) <a href=”https://twitter.com/theRyanWray/status/1051476242657136641?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 14, 2018</a></blockquote>

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First, a lot of you are asking for the recipe. I put it on twitter last week, but here goes for prosperity:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ok, enough of you asked for it. Here’s my dad’s bourbon ice cream recipe (personally, I’d use more bourbon and less milk and make it 2% but I’m just the messenger):<br><br>4cups Whole Milk<br>1 cup Bourbon<br>1 tbs vanilla<br>1/4 cup simple syrup <br>1 pt Vanilla ice cream<br>Nutmeg</p>&mdash; Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) <a href="https://twitter.com/mellinger/status/1049790354038370304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 9, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

If I remember correctly, he debuted the item four or five years ago. My first impression was one of amazement, because I’d never heard of something like this before.

And it is delicious.

My only problem here is that he always does it on Thanksgiving. Viewed from a distance, it’s a fine choice. Families are together, everyone’s gluttonous, a creative night cap is a noble pursuit.

But I’m here to tell you I view Thanksgiving the way our 4 year old views Christmas, and here it might be worth noting that our 4 year old has been asking whether it’s Christmastime since June.

Football, family, friends, food. No pressure of gifts. No airs. Just a collective desire by everyone involved to have a good time. Truly, it’s probably my favorite day of the year, and I tend to express my appreciation by eating enough to feed a family for a week.

By the time dinner is over, the belt has been loosened, the shirt untucked, and I’m often horizontal wondering why I did this to myself again. Bourbon is delicious, and proof that God exists, but anything involving ice cream and whole milk is a tough ask.

Maybe I’ll pace myself this year. Stop laughing.

This week, I’m particularly grateful to have a job I enjoy. There are rough parts, mostly the travel that means less time around my family, but it’s hard for me to imagine enjoying a job doing anything else.

Sam Mellinger

Sam Mellinger is a Kansas City Star sports columnist.

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