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Dispatches from Kansas City: “Anything cool I did as a teenager, I did in western Missouri…”

Jul 6, 2012, 3:21 PM EDT

kauffman stadium from highway 70 Getty Images

It’s about a four-hour drive from my house in St. Louis to Missouri’s western border with Kansas, where the coolest town in the United States sits with quiet confidence. I made the trip last night, cruising freely along a trafficless stretch of Highway 70 and arriving a little after 9 p.m. with a duffel bag, a laptop and a press credential to the 2012 All-Star Game and the five days of festivities that surround it.

From now until Wednesday morning I’ll be your official Kansas City correspondent, filing regular reports from barbecue joints, watering holes, back porches and the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium as Major League Baseball puts on its annual Midsummer Classic in a place I consider a second home. There will be pomp. There will be exhibition baseball. There will be stained dress shirts and Boulevard Wheat.

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To loosely butcher one of the Counting Crows’ truly decent songs — yeah, they’ve written a few — there’s something about Kansas City that just kills me. I love its care-free, hard-working, fun-loving people. I love its neighborhoods, where no two homes look alike and oak trees are encouraged to grow over the streets. And I love that its most celebrated local traditions — jazz, the blues and barbecue — are uniquely American.

Writing these posts won’t feel like work. It’ll feel like treasure-hunting in a familiar place, then sharing the booty with the readership here on HBT.

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I was raised in a fashion common for a St. Louis suburbanite — Catholic grade school, Catholic high school, then on to a Catholic college. My summers were spent attending different forms of regimented camp, playing catcher in sweltering, error-filled baseball games and trying to shoulder-tap for Natural Light 18-packs on the weekends. Which made me appreciate my twice-yearly visits to Kansas City (for Thanksgiving at my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Mardi’s and a Memorial Day festival called The Pig Roast) more than I might have otherwise. Anything cool I did as a teenager, I did in western Missouri with my cousins Jake, Monica and Joe-Joe.

source:  Thanksgiving in Kansas City taught me about venison and made-from-scratch stuffing and living off the land. The Pig Roast introduced me to bluegrass, beer kegs and bonfires, and opened my eyes to the vast difference between “grilled” meat and authentic BBQ. I got to shoot hunting rifles and I got to ride ATVs. And it wasn’t bedtime until I was tired.

My cousin Jake is 24 years old, just a few months younger than I. He grew up playing the guitar and the fiddle. He fishes commercially for catfish in the summer and he kills deer with a bow in the winter.

During a family trip to Cape Cod when we were both 11, Jake swam from the shore to a private sail boat deep in the bay because I questioned whether it could be done. We drank Boulevard Wheat drafts and ate a plate of the world’s best hot wings last night at The Peanut on 50th and Main — the kind of bar that makes you feel stupid for living, eating or drinking anyplace else.

source:

The first time I tried the wings at The Peanut, I had a minor coughing fit. Primarily from the cracked black pepper in the sauce but also in utter astonishment at the taste of things. They’re massive and meaty, and come with a side of house bleu cheese that is made from simple, fresh ingredients — not choked out of some plastic salad dressing bottle. That’s what the KC that I know is all about. Don’t take shortcuts. Do things well or don’t do them at all.

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MLB’s schedule of All-Star-related events begins today with the opening of FanFest at the Kansas City Convention Center. I’ll hit that up tomorrow morning. Sunday is the Futures Game and Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. Monday is the Home Run Derby and on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET is the main event.

I’ll be there for all of it while exploring the charms of this city in between. These are my dispatches from KC.

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Check out Part TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five and Part Six of this series.

  1. diehardcubbiefan4life - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Cool stuff Drew, I definitely wish I could go to Kansas for the ASG

    • geoknows - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      You’d have a tough time seeing the game in Kansas, unless you’re watching on TV. You need to go to Missouri.

  2. lew24 - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Great article! I can’t wait to hear more. My wife is grew up in KC and she has lived in St. Louis as well. I wish we could have made it to the ASG but this is the next best thing!

  3. stlouis1baseball - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Looking forward to it Drew!
    Just a quick question/comment:
    I sometimes (alright…semi-frequently)…I get two emails (simultaneously) with links to the same article.
    This time…I received (3) emails. Any idea why this happens?

  4. sportsdrenched.com - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Do you think you could mosy into the Argnentine district of KCK and collect a gambling debt for me?

  5. randygnyc - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Enjoy yourself, Drew. Take it all in and share it with us.

  6. mattyflex - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Well written; shall we have Chappell’s saturday night to view the memoribilia and talk Royals?

  7. seeinred87 - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Nice post. I’m looking forward to what else you’ve got to say from and about KC.

    But it’s just Counting Crows, no article in front of it. I forget what radio show I heard them making that correction on, probably Loveline.

  8. dodger88 - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Like most, my interest in the ASG has waned over the years, even before the “it counts” changes and such. I imagine for those who attend the various festivites, as you will be doing, will find great enjoyment. Where the game itself was once competitive and a must view each year, it has become something best enjoyed in person much like any other exhibition. I look forward to your posts and perhaps an ASG pilgrimage will need to be added to future travel plans. Thanks in advance for the good reading.

  9. nategearhart - Jul 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Make sure you go eat at LC’s BBQ, not far at all from the stadium but very much off the “tourist path”. It’s the best barbecue in Kansas City, which makes it the best barbecue in the world.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Whoah, whoah, Nate. I swear I’ve found the best BBQ in the world but it’s not the place of which you speak. But just because you mentioned it, and if I ever find myself In the City of Fountains, I will be sure to try it out.

    • sportsdrenched.com - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

      Nahh Rosedales’ on SW Blvd, and then go to Ponac’s…and then barge into the Boulevard Brewery unanounced. Then visit the QT that as near as I can tell is in Kansas & Missouri.

      • nategearhart - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        LC’s ain’t the king by head and shoulders or anything…but the king in a close race is still the king.
        I’m not a fan of Ponac’s at ALL though – may as well dip your chips in ketchup. All the best Mexican food is on Independence Ave or Wyandotte County.

      • sportsdrenched.com - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:44 PM

        My favorite Mexican place was Mi Ranchito in Lenexa…till they got sued for putting Windex in the Salsa.

  10. ajcardsfan - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Drew, try not to get into too much trouble in the Power & Light District, and by trouble I mean wrack up a huge bar tab.

  11. randall351 - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Hopefully you can use your sway as a big shot “NBC Sports” guy to persuade Dayton Moore to call up Wil Myers and quit wasting valuable playing time on Frenchy.

    • sportsdrenched.com - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      I don’t think Frenchy is going anywhere. However, I do not see why Frenchy can’t move over CF, or put Myers in CF, and quit wasting time with Dyson and that other French outfielder.

  12. randall351 - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Also I don’t know if you are a sports radio listener, but David Glass walked off at an interview this morning after being asked about possibly selling the team. He dropped the mic and walked off, classy guy.

  13. johnfglynn - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Drew, great call. The Peanut is one of best dive bars I’ve ever been to. The wings are great. I brought a dude from South Africa there once and he’s reaction to their size was, “those are from chickens?”

    But (and it’s big but) you left off the legendary Triple BLT. It’s has chopped red onion, cheddar cheese, thick pepper bacon and it’s the best sandwich I’ve ever had. And I eat a lot (215lbs +)

    • Drew Silva - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      Oh, I got one. Don’t worry. You can taste 50 years of grill-top grease in that thing. And I say that in the most affectionate way imaginable.

  14. groundruledoublebourbon - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Drew -

    Seeing you’ve mentioned the Peanut and Boulevard, I can tell you’re familiar with the high points of this place. For any other tips, I forward you on to KC’s foremost sportswriter.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2012/07/05/3692313/sam-mellinger-warm-regards-from.html

    Enjoy!

  15. kcredneck - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    KANSAS CITY, BEST OF THE BEST EXCEPT THE ROYALS!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. banjojones - Jul 6, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Never been there. Now i want to visit.

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