Thursday, September 20, 2007

Elizabeth Merrill: taking Kansas City sports mainstream

The Kansas City pipeline continues to flow. First Jason Whitlock, then Wright Thompson, now Elizabeth Merrill. (There was an editor who made the jump somewhere in there too, I think.)

Merrill, who was a Chiefs beat writer at the Star, has brought a welcome Midwestern tilt to the New York-based, but only recently has she begun writing heavily about Kansas City. Here are four examples:

July 29: Holmes eager to pursue comeback "dream" for KC
Aug. 7: Chiefs still tackling the old-school camp life
Sept. 15: Rap linked to LJ stirs controversy in KC
E-ticket: The Holmes Mystery

You'll notice all four of those stories are about the Chiefs. But now...

Sept. 18 (updated 9/20): Speaking Spanish helps Sweeney relate to teammates
Sept. 19: Grudzielanek happy to make Kansas City his home

The Royals getting national pub? About time!

An excerpt from the Sweeney article:

The lessons started, informally, in 1991 when he met Rev. Domingo Gonzalez, a Cuban native living in Florida. Sweeney was homesick and bored and bummed a ride to church from a teammate for $5. By the end of mass, he realized he didn't have a way home. Gonzalez offered to give him a ride, but only if he stayed for the Spanish mass. They became good friends and met every Sunday that year at 8 a.m. for breakfast and Spanish mass.

Sweeney still refers to Gonzalez as his "spiritual father."

"That was one of the highlights of my career," says Sweeney, who's played in five All-Star Games. "He not only helped me out learning the language, but it was the first time I was away from my family. Here was a Latin stranger opening up his heart to me. It really helped keep me on the right path when I started my new life in baseball."

And Grudz:

"I want to try to win," Grudzielanek says. "My time is way too valuable and I miss my family so much. … I'm at the point right now where I need to win and I want to win. I've made enough money, and all that stuff is fine and dandy. I'm happy with everything, but I'd love to be a piece of this puzzle here....

"This team can win, and in this city, it would be great. It would be a lot of fun. Somebody's got to stick around. Somebody's got to say, 'Hey, we've got an opportunity here. This is going to get better here real soon and real quick.'"

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