Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Pitch Questionnaire: Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger

The city's sports conscience talks about his favorite watering holes.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Sam Mellinger and Frankie
  • Sam Mellinger and Frankie
Occupation: Sports columnist at The Kansas City Star

Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas

Current neighborhood: Downtown Kansas City, Missouri

Who or what is your sidekick? Frankie, my pointer mix with an enormous vertical leap. No joke, she can scale a tree. Career high is maybe 12 feet off the ground. Traffic stops when we’re out on walks.

What career would you choose in an alternate reality? This is hard because I’ve honestly never considered anything else since I was about 15. I hope the answer is that I would teach or do something with a nonprofit like Big Brothers Big Sisters, but if it turns out that I’m not as altruistic as I hope, sometimes I close my eyes and imagine tending bar on a beach somewhere.

What was the last local restaurant you patronized? El Patrón. Can’t get enough of their tacos.

Where do you drink? In order: my couch, the Phoenix, Quaff, Peanut and Caddy Shack. I don’t stray far, huh?

Favorite arts organization: Crossroads Arts District because of First Fridays.

Favorite place to spend a significant portion of your paycheck: Restaurants. Kansas City is one of the best eating towns in the country, one of the reasons I like it here. Le Fou Frog, Justus Drugstore, Grand Street Café, Garozzo’s, Oklahoma Joe’s. My body gets very confused — it’s alternately told to digest a delicious pulled-pork Z-Man with fries and then asked to swim it off.

What local phenomenon do you think is overrated? Trader Joe’s. I mean, it’s a good grocery store. But on the other hand, it’s a good grocery store.

Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? We eat, go to a Royals game, the college basketball experience and/or a show. Mine are a simple people.

Finish this sentence: “Kansas City screwed up when it ____”
Didn’t build a downtown baseball stadium. I know that’s old news by now, but I still think about it. The smart and economically responsible thing was to renovate the K. The awesome thing would’ve been to build downtown.

Finish this sentence: “Kansas City got it right when it _____”
Built KCI the way it did. One of the best parts of living here is the convenience of everything. The highway system makes it absurdly easy to get virtually anywhere from virtually anywhere, and the airport is the easiest in the country to get in and out. I’ve made it from my place downtown through security in 33 minutes, and that’s parking in the economy lot, for crap’s sake. I travel a lot and am always happy to be back home.

What TV show are you embarrassed to admit you watch? I’m actually embarrassed to admit I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, and I hate that saying that makes me sound pretentious. I wish I watched more, actually, but the day always seems to run out on me.

____ take up a lot of space in my iTunes:
The Black Keys’ badass song catalog, and nerdy podcasts like This American Life and Freakonomics.

What movie do you watch at once a year? A Christmas Story. I might fight anyone, depending on how big they are, who doesn’t love this movie. My family is spread around the country, but my favorite tradition is one night over Christmas, when we watch Ralphie and also How the Grinch Stole Christmas and just go to town on nachos, wing dip (if you don’t know, Google it, and it will change your life) and this ridiculously good food that my Korean step-sister-in-law makes.

Celebrity you’d like to take on a gondola ride: Blake Lively. She’s so … smart.

Favorite person or thing to follow on Twitter: Shit My Dad Says is the best, but he hardly tweets anymore, so I’ll say that Gregg Doyel is pretty entertaining. Locally, Kim English and Frank Martin are pretty good. Tyshawn Taylor is hilarious but in a very unintentional way. You know, I’m not sure I’ve found a lot of 10s. Lot of 7s and 8s, though, which is good enough.

Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: The Penn State grossness. It’s absolutely evil and disgusting, obviously, but there is also a lot of reaction that just isn’t rooted in reality. David Brooks wrote an excellent piece about this, pointing out that all of us are flawed in some ways that are very uncomfortable.

What subscription — print, digital, etc. — do you value most? The Kansas City Star! Second place is a tie between the iPad versions of Sports Illustrated and Esquire.

What is your most embarrassing dating moment? Well, there was the time in high school when my mom came home from work unexpectedly early …

What was the most important thing you learned in school? Turn it in. And don’t take authority figures too seriously.

Finish this sentence: “People might be surprised to know that I ____”
Am an amazing Pop-A-Shot player.

Describe a recent triumph: I talked Verizon into giving me a discounted iPhone and throwing in a car charger. I’m a painfully bad negotiator. Not sure what got into me.

Sam Mellinger’s columns appear in the sports section of
The Kansas City Star.

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