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Dispatches from Kansas City: “Did you have a decent time?”

Jul 10, 2012, 11:34 PM EDT

all-star gala full

HardballTalk’s Drew Silva is filing regular stories from this year’s MLB All-Star festivities in KC. Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four. Part Five.

When I picked up my press packet Saturday from the will call window next to Kauffman Stadium’s Gate C, it included an invitation to something called the “2012 MLB All-Star Gala” — to be held in a nearby tent after the Home Run Derby late Monday night.

I presumed it was another event for sponsors to strut their stuff and give out free samples to fans. It wasn’t.

*******************

Through the security gates and past a giant glass statue that looked like something off the set of a Superman movie, I entered the best party I’ve ever attended (well, since college). There were three stages — all featuring blues and jazz bands — and open bars at every turn. I ate candied bacon, expertly-prepared cowboy ribeye and slices of roasted duck while chatting with the industry people I recognized and meeting the ones I didn’t.

Frank Thomas dished out hugs and drank aluminum Budweiser bottles, posing for pictures whenever asked. I discussed the Justin Upton trade rumors with Arizona Republic beat writer Nick Piecoro and the underrated D.C. nightlife with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The tent didn’t clear out until just after 1 a.m.

I received a gift as I left — a commemorative All-Star baseball resting atop a gold crown — and shook my head in disbelief on the long walk through the then-nearly-empty Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadium lots.

source:  “Did you have a decent time?” asked an elderly man in a yellow security polo, directing what little was left of the Derby and Gala traffic. “Rarely had better,” I responded, completely meaning every word of it.

*******************

Today I toured the Boulevard Brewery with ESPN’s Amanda Rykoff, a must-follow on Twitter for any baseball fan. We got to try out a test brew called “Hoppy Wheat,” which tasted even better than it probably sounds. Word is it’s being released to the public via small shipments in about three weeks.

After the tour and subsequent sampling we hit up Danny Edward’s BBQ on the reccomendation of our brewery guide. The burnt ends were melt-in-your-mouth terrific and the smoky baked beans contained chunks of pulled pork. I had never heard of the place and my cousin who has lived in this town for 24 years has never been, but it was as good as any barbecue joint I’ve tried on this trip. That’s Kansas City for you. Go off the beaten path and you’re still in pretty great shape.

*******************

source:  As I sit out in left field tonight watching the end of the All-Star Game, I can’t help but feel reflective.

Between the first-time press box experience, the up-close-and-personal media day and the many beers and plates of world-class barbecue in between, this past week has been a spectacular whirlwind.

I fell deeply in love all over again with this supposed cowtown. I exchanged dialogue with some of my idols in the baseball-writing profession. I got an email from Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, exclaiming that he was “LOVING” my work. And I was given the freedom to share it all in whatever way I saw fit.

“Bless my heart, bless my soul, didn’t think I’d make it to 22 years old,” belts Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard in a track called “Hold On” that I’ve been spinning with regularity since my trip first began in suburban St. Louis. I didn’t have many well-thought-out goals as a kid. I could never envision myself as a grown up — with a job and a level of respect from peers — so I never tried to. Now I can’t wait for what’s next.

  1. coryeuc - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Couldn’t have quoted a better song.

  2. ningenito78 - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    Did you get laid?

  3. ndnut - Jul 11, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    We don’t ask those kinds of questions around HBT.

    • ezthinking - Jul 11, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      We assume the answer. What a bunch of assholes we are.

      Nice work Drew. Hit the Mamba and the Oriental Express at Worlds or Fun/Six Flags or whatever they call it now. It’s a blast.

      • John - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:19 AM

        Wow. It was called the Orient Express (not “Oriental”). It closed in 2003. The park is called Worlds of Fun (not “or”). Haven’t been around KC in a while, have you?

      • ezthinking - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:36 AM

        Not since ’98. Orient Express (Thanks for the editorial work) was awesome. Sucks that its gone. Hit Boulevard Brewery with the fiance. Great times.

        Was also there in the ’88 when there was turf on the field with my dad. Saw Dave Winfield hit a bomb for NYY way up into the leftfield bullpen/tunnel. It was so hot the stadium workers were spraying water into the crowd from the bullpen/tunnel.

        P.S. Since you must be a KC’e I hope you had fun this weekend/week.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 11, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      Hell yes we ask those kinds of questions. In fact…its expected.
      So…DREW: Did you “do it?”

  4. randygnyc - Jul 11, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    Clap-clap. Bravo. Nice reports.

  5. riverace19 - Jul 11, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Midwestern cities are usually the best… Even the biggest, Chicago, has a sense I intimacy. I thought KC did a great job hosting the event. The booing of Cano was a little over the top but they were sticking up for their boy and they don’t like the Yankees. Kaufman looks like it was built in the last ten years even though it’s way older.

  6. John - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    Drew, you said you’d never been in Kauffman. What did you think?

    • Drew Silva - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:38 AM

      It’s awesome. Great sight-lines along the infield concourses, I think because of the steepness at both seating levels. And that outfield area is a blast. I spent a round of the HR Derby out there among the Moustakas shirseys. It can hold a ton of people without much shoulder-rubbing or view-blocking, and it was loaded with rowdy people that night.

      I like my baseball stadiums downtown, surrounded by bars. (But my NFL stadiums surrounded by parking lots for early-morning tailgating — so Arrowhead scores there). That’s the only part about Kauffman, I think, that deserves a point deduction.

      I give it a 9.5 out of 10. Second-favorite park I’ve been to, behind Wrigley. Fenway ranks third. Fourth is Camden Yards. Fifth: old Yankee Stadium.

      • ezthinking - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:44 AM

        Coors?

      • Drew Silva - Jul 11, 2012 at 2:49 AM

        Never been. Hear good things.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 11, 2012 at 7:13 AM

        I assume that Drew had been drinking better beer than Coors.

      • hcf95688 - Jul 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        I was disappointed with Fenway. Sure, it’s an awesome, must-see for all baseball fans, but with the small seats, narrow concources and obstructed views, its just not a great place to watch a game. My top five I have attended:

        1. Safeco Field
        2. Pac Bell Park
        3. Turner Field
        4. Coors Field
        5. Camden Yards

      • giantola - Jul 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        Thanks for the great praise Drew! I’m born and raised KC, and have lived in the metro area for 33 years. I’m proud to call it home. Coor’s field is amazing, I was there before the renevations at Kauffman and left astonished by it. Loved beeing able to walk right out to the bars afterwards also. When I went to Kauffman during the renevations I was reminded of Coor’s, wide concourses, open aired outfield, and being able to finally walk 360 degrees inside the stadium. As for the bars surrounding the stadium, that is a work in progress. The owners of the land around the K are asking an astounding amount of $’s, so no one has built around it. The were proposals to build a “Plaza” in between the stadiums, but for some reason it never came to fruition. I think it was packaged with the rolling roof that never passed legislature.

        Once again thanks for the praise of KC, and continue the great work. From what I’ve heard, Robinson Cano is the only one who had a bad time.

  7. charlutes - Jul 11, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    Why are you down there if Mathew P is writing up the game?

  8. hotkarlsandwich - Jul 11, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    The first time I went to Kauffman, I felt like I was going to Six Flags. I agree with the idea of downtown ballparks. Otherwise the K is a great place to watch a game.

  9. sknut - Jul 11, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    The K is a great place to see a game and the people are incredibly friendly down there. Even though its older I like as much as any park I have been to.

    Drew-Thank you for your stories and writing, it has made me feel as if I was there and part of the experience the whole time.

    I hope HBT keeps this up for the following all star games.

  10. cur68 - Jul 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Great work Drew. I also had a very nice time when I was there in May. So nice that I’m thinking of doing it again next year. Its cheap to go to a ballgame, stay at a nice hotel/motel, and the people are indeed very friendly and easy to get along with. Your experience echoed mine perfectly. Great write-ups.

  11. runteddyrun - Jul 11, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    well put, sir.

  12. adk77 - Jul 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Why would anyone want to be in Missouri, one of the worst states in the union.

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