Sam Mellinger

Mellinger Minutes: Montgomery’s arrival, Chiefs excitement, 18-game alternatives

Where the 9 top-100 KC Royals prospects from 2011 are now

The Royals had nine players on Baseball America's top-100 prospect list in 2011. Here is a look at where those nine are today
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The Royals had nine players on Baseball America's top-100 prospect list in 2011. Here is a look at where those nine are today

They say baseball is a game of failure and that’s inherently true. That trait makes successes stand out, and resiliency even more important, and somehow this is where my mind goes when thinking of the Royals re-acquiring old friend Mike Montgomery through a trade with the Cubs for Martin Maldonado.

The best trades are when both sides win, which is how the two most important trades in recent Royals history can be classified.

First, they obeyed Zack Greinke’s trade demand by getting Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress from Milwaukee. Greinke pitched in the 2011 postseason for the Brewers (and brought back a return of prospects the next summer), and the Royals received critical pieces for their championship run.

Second, they sent Wil Myers, Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to Tampa Bay for James Shields and Wade Davis.

The Rays got two stars in Myers and Odorizzi, and the Royals got one man willing to lead from the front of the rotation and another who had a historically impressive run at the back of the bullpen.

That trade has comically shifted from being known as The Wil Myers Trade to then The James Shields Trade to then The Wade Davis Trade. When Odorizzi became a reliable starter immediately for the Rays, he probably had a turn on the marquee.

Montgomery was a relative afterthought. He was once a centerpiece of The Best Farm System In The History Of Upright Man™. He was a tall, thin left-hander with a blazing fastball and a nasty competitive streak that become something like a local legend back at Hart High north of Los Angeles.

His professional success was erratic (5.32 ERA his first year in Triple A, then 5.69 his second year) but scouts still saw promise. He was among Baseball America’s top 25 prospects in both 2011 and 2012. Clearly, a bridge existed between his talent and production.

Some of this was the naturally unpredictable shape of any young ballplayer’s development. Some of it, too, was conflict. Montgomery had ideas about how he wanted to prepare and pitch that, let’s just say, did not always align with the visions of his coaches.

Part of this was long toss. Montgomery wanted it, and the Royals did not. We don’t have the space — even in a time suck that will challenge 6,000 words — to get into this in detail.

But among the concerns of the Royals was that Montgomery would likely transition to the big leagues as a reliever, which would be an added challenge if he was married to a prep that required the time and space of long toss. Let’s just say that Montgomery welcomed the opportunity with the Rays.

Success didn’t come immediately there, though. By 2014, he was pitching his fourth consecutive season in Triple A. He’d stalled, and the next March the Rays traded him to Seattle for a swingman.

Montgomery shifted to the bullpen with the Mariners, and Royals officials took special attention when Montgomery became a lockdown reliever first for Seattle and then the Cubs, even getting the last out of the 2016 World Series that ended a 108-year title drought.

The Royals brought Montgomery back this week. He’s 30 now, and this is the fourth time he’s changed organizations. He’s started and closed, and pitched for one team that finished in fourth place and another that won it all.

He’s struggled in 2019: 5.67 ERA in just 27 innings. But he retains talented, and has enough of a track record that securing 2 1/2 years of him for a half-season of Maldonado feels a little like dining-and-dashing.

The Royals will give him a spot in their rotation, replacing the traded Homer Bailey, and if Montgomery is drastically different now than when he left the Royals he will soon see the same can be said about the team.

Superficially, the Royals have gone from rebuilding to winning a championship to trying to hold on to (hopefully by now) bottoming out and trying to do it all over again. Of the team that existed when the Royals traded Montgomery, only Sal Perez, Alex Gordon and Danny Duffy remain. Each is in a vastly different stage of his career.

But there is also some difference beneath the surface. The Royals are far less dogmatic about how their pitchers prepare, even paying to outsource much of Kyle Zimmer’s rehab to the independent, forward-thinking and metrics-centric Driveline.

The philosophy has evolved, even if much of their industry-wide reputation has not. They help prospects create individual plans, including long toss or weighted balls. The experience with Zimmer convinced Driveline founder Kyle Boddy to move the Royals from an organization he actively tells prospects to avoid to one that he respects and can work with.

I’m not here to say Montgomery will change the trajectory of the Royals, or that the Royals are now an industry leader in developing new ways to produce big-league pitchers. I don’t think the first is true, and I know the second is not.

But what I’m saying is that the difference in the organization Montgomery last knew and the one that exists today is an example of how philosophies can change.

If they hadn’t, I don’t think the Royals would’ve brought him back.

This week’s eating recommendation is the dragon roll at Jun’s, and the reading recommendation is Andrew Baggarly on the 10-year anniversary of (former Royal) Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter.

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

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Your boy wrote here that it’s the most anticipated team in decades, and maybe ever, and that feels like an understatement so let me take another shot:

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT AND CRITICAL SEASON FOR ANY FRANCHISE IN ANY SPORT IN ANY MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR BIG PLANET OR ANY OTHER.

A little bit of everything exists:

  • Franchise that’s been remarkably consistent at underperforming expectations and alternating between unapologetic stinking and winning just enough to disappoint you in the end.
  • A quarterback sent straight from fantasy, who is young and charismatic and wildly talented and (this is factually accurate) has won the dang MVP award every single season he’s been a starting quarterback.
  • A defense that’s been a punching bag going on at least two years now but should-finally-maybe-might-could-be-well-you-never-know-there’s-at-least-a-chance better with new coaches and many new players
  • OMG THEY’RE THE BETTING FAVORITES.

It’s more fun to get behind a team with a badass offense because points are fun especially when they come after your (supposedly) right-handed quarterback completes a big pass left handed.

And it’s also more fun when a team isn’t the Patriots. We can all probably agree on that. The Chiefs have long been the team that disappoints, and their last (only) championship is nearly 50 years old.

I don’t think this is a reach: most Chiefs fans have never had this much reason to be excited about their team.

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Bubba Starling’s big-league profile has changed over the years. He is no longer the potentially explosive star the Royals signed for $7.5 million in 2011. Back then, his talent was so enchanting he was the No. 17 prospect in all of baseball before he ever played a professional game, according to MLB.com.

That was a long time ago.

His upside now is as a plus defender in centerfield with a Salvy-type batting profile: dangerous pop and a propensity for strikeouts.

Putting numbers on it is a fool’s errand, but thankfully I am a fool, so if Starling hit .250-ish with an on-base percentage in the low-to-mid .300s and 20 to 25 home runs then (with the defense they expect) the Royals would have a damn good player.

But this is so hard to predict because it’s never been about talent with Starling. The questions have been (at one time or another) about confidence and approach and focus and lot of other traits that are hard to describe.

I do think this: the Royals are somewhat hopeful that Starling can be one of those talents (like Whit Merrifield) that performs better in the big leagues. That’s a big ask, but if getting to the big leagues and seeing some success allows him to sort of unlock mentally and truly believe he belongs while understanding that he doesn’t have to be Mike Trout then there’s no telling what he can be.

The strength, speed and hand-eye are all there. Dealing with failure is perhaps the hardest and most important thing for a ballplayer to have success ... and few have dealt with more failure than Starling.

Think about everything he faced in the last eight years: injuries, doubts, the temptation of football, what must have been an overwhelming pressure of being drafted by the hometown team, awful results, getting passed in the minor leagues by later draft picks, and that’s just the stuff coming immediately to mind.

Dayton Moore has said some version of these words a million times: “I’ll never put limitations on our players.”

That probably applies to Starling more than most.

There is no telling what he’s still capable of, but the spectrum goes from AAAA-type player to important part of a championship club.

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Well, I don’t know if that’s true, actually.

You might be narrowing the pool here to prospects yet to make a big-league debut, which would exclude Kyle Zimmer, but I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of him in 2019. Same with Josh Staumont, and I could actually see them being promoted together.

I’ve written about this a few times — most extensively here — but the Royals are experimenting with Zimmer and Staumont as openers in Omaha.

Both are well-regarded power arms who could benefit from the setup role, and the Royals have starters like Jakob Junis who might be better with an inning or two head start.

So, assuming Staumont and Zimmer still count as prospects, my first answer is Staumont and Zimmer.

Projecting to next year is difficult, and if you look back on this in a year you will notice I’m wrong, but what the heck — you asked a question.

Khalil Lee is getting on base, stealing bases, and playing good defense at Double A. Depending on how the outfield picture settles he’ll get a look next summer.

But, you’re probably not asking about him, either.

Brady Singer’s transition to Double A was rough (9.24 ERA in first three starts). He’s been better since (3.91 ERA in four starts) but is still giving up too many base runners. I do not bring this up to say his development is off track. I only bring this up as a way of pointing out that development doesn’t happen in a straight line.

Jackson Kowar (1.61 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings) has been impressive at Double A, but at some point he’ll hit his own snag.

The rest of that draft class is doing well, too. You might have seen where Jonathan Bowlan threw a no-hitter, Kris Bubic has a 2.65 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings in both levels of A ball, and Daniel Lynch has a 3.09 ERA in 11 starts in Wilmington.

I haven’t talked in depth with Dayton Moore or J.J. Picollo about the specific timelines for those guys, and clubs are often hesitant to say that stuff publicly anyway for obvious reasons.

But you’re asking about the next wave, and I’d expect the first of that bunch to be Singer, Kowar or Lee.

Besides, you probably don’t want to talk about how some of the hitters are doing in Wilmington.

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The short answer is probably, and not just because the Royals are next-to-last in walks this season .... and here is a short list of those who’ve underperformed in Eldred’s two seasons:

  • Danny Duffy’s ERA has jumped a shade over a run.
  • Jakob Junis has a 5.08 ERA and his walks are up.
  • Jorge Lopez has plenty of pitches but no definitive role.
  • The bullpen has been a mess.

Ned Yost has earned a lot of control over the makeup of his staff, and he’s in his (checks notes) fifth year of going year-to-year.

Yost has been mostly loyal to his assistants, but if this isn’t the third consecutive year I’m wrong about expecting him to retire, then Eldred will be the pitching coach of a team that hasn’t pitched particularly well with a new manager taking over.

That’s un-good job security.

Eldred is not without his success stories. The most significant is Brad Keller. Eldred played an important role in bringing Keller to the Royals and has been Keller’s pitching coach in the transition from a 4.68 ERA in Double A in 2017 to 3.08 ERA in 140 1/3 innings last year to a mostly successful full-time transition to the rotation in 2019.

The same way Kevin Seitzer was fired largely for the struggles of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in 2012, Eldred is finding at least some success in his single most important charge.

Ian Kennedy has transitioned well to the bullpen. Scott Barlow has had promising moments. Glenn Sparkman has wedged into the future plans. Jake Diekman has had some success. Homer Bailey pitched well enough to bring back a borderline first-round pick from two years ago in trade.

So, that stuff matters, too.

The truth of the business is that few last in one job for long. That truth is muddied some in Kansas City, where Dayton Moore has been general manager 13 years and Yost has been manager for nine.

But coaches change, often frequently, whether for personal or professional reasons. A voice can lose its effectiveness, and sometimes the players a coach was hired to reach or had success connecting with change teams.

It’s a volatile business.

Eldred takes some heat, and rightfully so. He’s the pitching coach of a team without effective pitching.

But, even with more successes than he’s probably given credit for, he’s not likely to have this job for the long-term.

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Hard to see how that works. More specifically, hard to see how the league sells that to fans.

Eh, screw it, here’s a better way of saying it: that’s a terrible idea.

The beauty of the NFL is that every game matters. Some of that is parity, and some is a short season, and this plan shoots an Uzi through all of that.

The Chiefs pride themselves on drawing fans from throughout the Heartland. Many families make plans months ahead of time, and drive in from hours away.

How about spending all that time and money and getting to the game and expecting Patrick Mahomes vs. Aaron Rodgers and seeing Chad Henne vs. DeShone Kizer instead?

You can say quarterbacks could be exempt from the rule because of the protections they already enjoy, but even ignoring the inherent problems there — would they want even more money? Would protections then be further stretched to comical lengths? — you’re still creating a world where people pay for Aaron Donald or Tyreek Hill or J.J. Watt or Saquon Barkley or Odell Beckham or any other superstar and instead get some guy named Steve*.

* No offense to all fine Steves everywhere.

So, look, we all know the preseason is too long. We also know owners aren’t going to just give up two games (they make full freight on preseason games) for nothing, and we also know players aren’t going to accept two more games without something substantial in return.

That’s doubly true since they find themselves in the rare position of leverage here, with owners publicly admitting four preseason games is a sham.

So, here are a few suggestions, some of which have been offered in various places already and each of which would trim the preseason to two games and lengthen the regular season to 18:

  • One of the additional games is international, which means owners get an extra home game every other year plus the additional revenue and potential of a bigger presence in other countries.
  • Players get an extra bye week (one of which is after the international game) and a higher portion of the extra revenue. In other words, if we can all agree that the biggest burden of the extra games will be carried by players it makes sense that they should get a bigger chunk of the money. The way it’s set up now, that’s found money for the owners anyway.
  • Just spitballing here, but if players get 48.5% of revenue now, give them 58.5% of the new money.
  • Keep the start of the season to after Labor Day, which would keep real games from being played on 105-degree August afternoons. Depending on the structure, this could bring the added benefit of playing the Super Bowl on Presidents Day weekend, which would mean everyone who says the day after the Super Bowl should be a holiday would get their wish.

So, I don’t know. Those are just ideas.

But if it was entirely up to me, I’d just kill two preseason games and keep the season at 16 games. I don’t really care about the owners’ profits and erring on the side of too few games instead of too many keeps players safer and the games more important.

Put another way: the NFL is the only of the four major American sports leagues where fans don’t think the season is already too long. That’s a good thing.

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Maybe never, and I’m just being honest.

This is not a guess: not much has changed since this column.

And, actually, saying “not much” has changed might be overstating said change.

Let’s be clear about something. This is not about Jones playing for the Chiefs in 2019. The front office believes in him. He likes the team. More to the point, he’s required to show at training camp in early August to accrue a season and march toward free agency.

I’ll probably write more on this later in the week, so for now I’d like to keep this relatively short except to say the Chiefs and Jones are each in terrific spots.

For the Chiefs: they have Jones under contract now for $1.2 million in base salary in the last year of his rookie contract, a steal for a star’s production. Assuming he’s productive again, they also have his rights for two more years under franchise tags. The worst-case scenario for them is they get a dominant player for peanuts this year and then feel forced to trade him next offseason for significant draft capital.

For Jones: he can take something like $48 million over the next three years now, or bet on himself and go for $70 million or so next summer. He’ll be set financially for life soon one way or the other, even without 15 1/2 more sacks. But if he does ball out like that again, he’s getting the Frank Clark contract next summer whether it’s here or somewhere else.

Again, more on this will be coming soon.

But for now, for most of you, the important part is this really shouldn’t have any negative impact on the 2019 Chiefs. He’ll be in camp, and he’ll play the full season, assuming health.

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It’s a little late in the game to do that now, but if you mean trade Jones next year, well, like we said in the answer above — that might be where this thing goes.

But the Chiefs have scenarios they believe would allow them to have Mahomes, Jones and Tyreek Hill on contract extensions even with this offseason’s deals for Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu.

There are always ways to creatively spend, but here’s one that’s fairly obvious:

Mahomes can have just about any contract he wants. If he wants to be a pioneer and bring the NBA model to the NFL to ensure he’s always happy here, he could essentially go year to year.

But he’s said he loves the organization and Kansas City, and if he’s willing to go long, then the Chiefs have all sorts of flexibility.

I’m just throwing stuff out here, please understand that, but if he went way long — say a five-year deal, or eight, or even 10 — he could get many truckloads of cash up front with the Chiefs able to spread the money over many years to retain some cap.

In that way, it could be an unnecessary but welcomed benefit from having a 23-year-old quarterback you are already all-in with. It’s the most important position on the field, and one of the few with relatively long career expectancy.

Particularly with the cap going up $10 million or so every year, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Mahomes to ask for and the Chiefs to offer $40 million per season on a long deal.

But, anyway, some of this requires a little finessing.

The Chiefs would certainly have more space with one fewer long-term contract, but if you let Jones go at a time you’re trying to win, you better have someone to replace him who’s just as good.

But, speaking of Mahomes...

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Let’s begin.

Kyler Murray has been compared to Patrick Mahomes. *takes deep breath* He’s five-ish inches shorter, WAY faster, has an arm maybe 60% as strong and a COMPLETELY different style of playing the position than Mahomes but, hey, they were both baseball prospects, which, please, don’t think about that too much or else you’ll get hung up on the fact that Murray was good enough to be the NO. 9 PICK IN THE WHOLE DRAFT playing centerfield while Mahomes was more of a pitcher and might’ve gone in the third round or so ... but nobody can be sure because he told everyone he wanted to play football.

*Exhales*

Ja Morant has been compared to Patrick Mahomes ... because he throws no-look passes which are rare in college basketball? I actually had a bit of a crush on Morant this past season, and this comparison — made while Morant was minding his own business — kind of ruined it for me.

Bobby Wtit Jr. has been compared to Patrick Mahomes and, well, I just don’t have the self-control to talk about this again without punching my computer screen.

I realize this is the life I’ve chosen, but this stuff makes me want to put my head under a car tire.

You remember last year, when the sidearm throws and the no-looks started, and the standard answer was, “Hey, well, the kid played shortstop so that’s where he learned it.”

I mean, come on. If that’s all there is to it then take every shortstop in the last 10 College World Series and tell me how many MVP quarterbacks you find.

The NFL is a copycat league in a copycat world so of course some of this will be attempted.

But these shortcuts are a disservice to each player’s uniqueness, and I’d also argue that Mahomes wouldn’t have been as spectacular in 2019 without Reid’s playcalling and the talents of Travis Kelce and Hill and others.

It’s just a series of events that can’t be duplicated.

I am not saying Mahomes is the most physically talented quarterback in football history. What I’m saying is his combination of specific physical traits and mental approach and innate confidence with the infrastructure of an offense that finished fifth in the league with Alex Smith the year before is a ridiculous string of 7s.

But I’m excited to watch Witt Jr. on fourth and 9 against the Ravens, or Morant in the second half against Belichick.

Sorry. I got lost.

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Maybe?

Success can build confidence, and confidence is critical in soccer and even discounting that some were fooled after the win in Columbus, there’s little doubt Sporting has played better the last two games.

Also worth noting: this is a critical stretch of the season for Sporting, with seven home games out of 11 and six of those seven against the Western Conference.

The point about guys coming back from injury and making Sporting stronger down the stretch is sitting there on a tee, too. So, you know. Go ahead and add that to the list.

I just find myself skeptical of this team in a way I haven’t felt about Sporting since the reboot. You shouldn’t nitpick wins, ever, but Sporting should’ve beaten Chicago 4-0. Missing those chances can’t fly against better opponents, or even mediocre opponents on the road.

Vancouver is one of the worst teams in the league, so if any part of your reaction to Sporting’s 5-1 loss to LAFC was “Well, hell, they lost to the ‘96 Bulls what do you want?,” then you should feel the same in reverse.

So, everything I wrote in this column I still believe.

It’s a good franchise, with a committed and respected and effective leader, but right now the pieces don’t fit quite as well as we’re used to seeing and when you look at the ages and contracts of some of the best players you wonder if a significant reset is on the way.

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I mean, yeah, of course. There are many elements of this town that take football incredibly way too seriously.

There are many elements of many towns that take football incredibly way too seriously, and it’s usually around this moment that I think back to my childhood.

I grew up in Lawrence. You might know that Lawrence is a college town, and the college has, um, no particularly strong history in football. The soul of Lawrence is more hippy than jock, you could say.

You might also know that Lawrence is in Kansas, not Texas, or Alabama, or Louisiana, or any other place we typically shorthand as HOLY CRAP THOSE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY ABOUT FOOTBALL.

All of that is true and I promise you so is this: if the high school didn’t have a powerhouse football program there would’ve been two high schools much sooner.

By my senior year the school was so far over capacity it was an actual joke. They brought in trailers. We moved from class to class with tiny steps and sometimes on toes to see over the crowd.

But we also won state!

I think about this, quite literally, every day. Sometimes it comes out in the form of “How would you explain this to the aliens?” and sometimes it’s, “My goodness, a grown adult is on this website saying a string of words that would impress Samuel L. Jackson and all I did was say I’m not sure Bashaud Breeland is an upgrade over Steven Nelson.”

It’s a strange spot to be in, and not just because that passion is actually how my kids eat and have way too many toys.

It’s strange because I’m as obsessed as most anyone. My worldview has always been through sports. Most of my best friends I met through sports. Some of the best and most important lessons of my life I learned through sports.

I am hot for my kids to be in sports, too, and not because I have any delusions of them earning scholarships or anything — THOUGH I JUST CHECKED TUITION PRICES AND THEY SHOULD FEEL FREE TO PRACTICE UNTIL THEIR HANDS BLEED — but because I believe playing and competing is one of the best ways to prepare for life.

My job is sports, but in a lot of ways, so is my life. Next week I’m going on an annual trip with my oldest friends and we will play golf and watch games and I’m sure come up with at least a few fantasy football trades.

Next summer, we’re going to turn our annual family trip to Michigan into a road trip ,and I’m hoping like hell the Cubs or White Sox are in town so we can catch a game.

So, it’s like, I get it. Sports are great. They can be an escape when you don’t want reality, and when things fall right they can be the best reality imaginable.

But, yeah. Some of you people need to chill the hell out.

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Hadn’t thought of it that way but, well, probably. He really is spectacular.

The problem, of course, is that nobody wants to make a star out of a guy on a 2-10 team.

The reality — and the PFF grade you reference is a nod to this — is that a running back playing on a bad team is probably even better than he appears on the surface. We talk sometimes about system quarterbacks and system running backs. This is one of the interesting subplots of this season, too. For all of the questions about Les Miles and whether he can adapt offensively, the man has a long history of highlighting running backs.

As a freshman, Williams went for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry, and 14.6 carries per game.

If he manages to keep a similar average — teams might focus on him more, but the support around him and Miles’ system should be advantages — with an extra five or so carries a game, you’re looking at something close to 1,500 yards.

Kansas has a long way to go toward respectability, and a moderately better recruiting class will need time to add strength.

But, best-case scenario, it’s not ridiculous to think that Williams will be good enough over the next two years to be remembered as the most important player in the program’s rise.

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This story is the most bizarre I’ve ever covered, and whatever’s No. 2 (Trey Hillman? Scott Pioli? The 2014 Royals?) isn’t particularly close.

But it is crazy how mangled this has become, and to emphasize the point I’m going to lift a paragraph from this column:

“...it’s a stark statement of where some people stood on Hill that some are seeing innocence and vindication from a recording that includes him threatening and insulting Espinal — whom he pleaded guilty to punching and strangling in 2014 — and responding to her claim that he punched their 3-year-old son in the chest by saying, ‘OK, but what about you? “

I will continue to look back with disappointment that I didn’t raise the question in real time about KCTV5’s editing of that tape, but the dishonest way they did it spun this story further off the rails and put everybody — the Chiefs, media, fans, everyone — in a bad spot.

Casey Clark, the news director who oversaw the tape’s editing, just made it worse with an explanation that alternated between empty and counterproductive.

So, yes. Of course I understand why KCTV5 has some work to do.

But one of the frustrations of being in this business is being labeled “The Media,” as if we’re all one entity that acts and works in unison. KCTV5 is a good example, actually.

Dani Welniak and Tom Martin are pros, two of the most engaged and professional people in Kansas City, and as far as I understand had zero to do with the dishonest presentation of that tape. But because they work at the station, they’ve been dragged.

There are examples like that all over the place, perhaps most notably with the Border Patrol and Program essentially distancing themselves from the comments that eventually put Kevin Kietzman off air. It was the right thing to do, but at least some of that was in response to listeners lumping them all together.

We’ve all dealt with that at some point or another, and more on that point in the next question, but I guess for now the simple response I have is to understand there is no Media.

There are different outlets, and the same way I believe Subway is garbage and Mr. Goodcents is delicious, you should be able to trust or enjoy one reporter’s coverage while staying away from another.

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Well, that’s not who I had in mind, and not just because I wrote that column before the Ed Board piece that many of you objected to.

There is, understandably, a common misunderstanding about the Ed Board. It is not the newspaper speaking as one. It is not the official opinion of a staff of journalists whose beats range from education to food to courts to soccer and whose places in life range from 20-something fresh out of college to 60-something grandfather.

The Ed Board is a group of six accomplished journalists with different backgrounds who are paid to write editorials.

I don’t agree with everything they write, and shouldn’t. Same as they don’t agree with everything I write, or that Vahe writes, or that anyone else writes or thinks.

I know some Ed Board members to varying degrees, and I respect the hell out of each of them, even in moments where I disagree with the stance or tone of a particular piece. That’s where I’m at on the Hill editorial, but I can disagree strongly with someone while still respecting them.

Where that line starts to stretch — where the disagreement strains respect — is when a radio host says something so outlandish it should only be followed by an apology and self-reflection but instead is doubled and tripled down upon until it’s too late.

The line stretches when a news station obtains a tape and promotes salacious details that are amplified and twisted by dishonest editing.

Those are the most obvious examples I was referring to, but there is also a next tier for those of us who did not question KCTV’s editing in real time, or anyone who has stretched either side of this beyond reason.

Elements of local media have contributed to this, but there are some who seem to believe Hill is an exemplary father and boyfriend and others who believe he should never play football again and go to jail.

Neither of those extremes are backed by logic.

So, I don’t know, man.

Going forward, I will have a renewed sense of the importance of minding every detail and knowing when to let skepticism lead the way. I will carry a refreshed feel for my place in helping guide public understanding, and the humility and responsibility required in taking that on.

For instance, I can go on radio shortly after the initial news broke in March and say I think charges will come but can’t be certain and point out that even if charges are brought that won’t mean a crime occurred and I can feel like I presented that fairly and honestly.

But I still need to remember that even saying I think charges will be filed and that I hoped for the safety of the woman and child but didn’t mention the man means some with a certain viewpoint will take that to mean I think he’s guilty.

It’s a tangled web.

That’s the stuff I had in mind when I wrote about learning from mistakes. Others can figure out if they’ve made any, and act accordingly.

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Church.

We are entering the six-weeks-or-so stretch every year that make me question if I really do love Kansas City as much as I think I do. Happy Extreme Heat Warning week, everyone.

Sorry I’m out of town on an assignment*.

* I’m actually not all that sorry.

This week, I’m particularly grateful for friends like Tim Grimes and Tim Fitzgerald who remind men to mind their health. Grimes convinced me to see a dermatologist, and Fitz to get a PSA score. I’m fortunate to be clear on both, but the process did alert me to a minor health thing that I can fix now before it becomes a bigger problem later.

Men, most of us really suck at doing stuff like this, and it’s among the dumbest things we do. See a doctor, get checked out. You have a life to live.

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Sam Mellinger is a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 2000. He has won numerous national and regional awards for coverage of the Chiefs, Royals, colleges, and other sports both national and local.
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