Merrill, who was a Chiefs beat writer at the Star, has brought a welcome Midwestern tilt to the New York-based ESPN.com, 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."
"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.'"