From where I sit, half a nation away and having driven through the place once eight years ago, it seems like there are a lot of things to like about Kansas City. There are the Royals, a baseball team for which I have long had a hard to explain soft spot. There is delicious barbecue, to which I have remained devoted despite a Missourian I interviewed for an article awhile back repeatedly (and wince-inducingly) referring to it as “that smoky meat.” And there is also the fact that, weirdly, Kansas City seems to have the best sportswriters of any in the U.S.
Yeah, Kansas City is also responsible for The Jason Whitlock Show (feel it) and one pretty terrible newspaper-hosted sports blog, but there are also great writers doing excellent work on the Royals both at the Kansas City Star (check this understatedly excellent piece on Gil Meche’s dead arm and pitch counts from Sam Mellinger) and on their own. The Star also routinely runs these amazing, evenhanded, longish pieces on complicated topics — J. Brady McCollough’s mini-masterpiece on the Henry hoops clan (Xavier, C.J., father Carl) being the most recent example. And of course there’s Joe Posnanski.
My original idea with this post was to link to Posnanski’s recent, lengthy stem-winder of a blog post on how the Royals have managed to spend more money to get an offense that somehow keeps getting worse. Which, okay: mission accomplished! But Posnanski’s piece, which I loved despite (or because? mirroring) the fact that it falls somewhere between exhaustive and exhausting, is hard to excerpt — it’s too detailed, too analytical, too unstructured. And it’s also only dubiously CSTB-worthy, since it’s a freaking detailed piece on the Royals’ terrible offense and thus of interest only to rubberneckers and Royals fans and those (of us) constantly on the hunt for more data on Willie Bloomquist. It is too specific to run in Posnanski’s SI space, too long and defiantly not-an-article to run in the Star and thus very much in the right place on Posnanski’s blog. But he wrote it, and it’s there for fans of Kansas City’s star-crossed, suck-intensive baseball franchise to read and… and I’m kind of jealous, honestly.
Jealous not because the Royals are currently better than my baseball team of choice, although last night’s Argenis Reyes-headed lineup and oops-heavy defense proved as much. I’m jealous more because that smallish city has this amazing concentration of thoughtful sportswriters who actually seem to like sports and the teams they cover, and my very large-ish city by and large doesn’t. I love New York, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, and honestly we do pretty good with the beef brisket ourselves. But, with a few exceptions, most of our sports columnists here seem like bitter jerks who hate their jobs — start with Wally Matthews and work your way up. This is no less true in other big cities — Chicago and Los Angeles have irrationally irascible curmudgeons of their own. And it’s even worse when New York sportswriters start blogging — witness the curdled, cutting-room floor Philip Roth character that is three-time Backne Pulitzer recipient Murray Chass.
This is a long way to go to ask “what gives,” but… what gives? It’s not like the newspaper biz is any more successful there than it is everyplace else. I know the internet makes it so we can all read these guys, or whomever we wish, and that’s great. I guess I’m just still bitter about getting stuck with Lupica.