Dispatches from Kansas City: “It’s a sea of tents and smoke”

14 Comments

HardballTalk’s Drew Silva is filing regular stories from this year’s MLB All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City, Missouri. Check out Part One here.

“What’s the best barbecue joint in KC?” I asked my Aunt Mardi, foolishly, after getting in last night. “Our front porch when your uncle is home,” she replied in a tone that was matter-of-fact but deservedly so.

My Uncle Chuck can wow you with a simple grilled chicken thigh, prepared on a classic black Weber. Or knock your teeth out with a pork butt, smoked over low heat for nearly a full day in a cast-iron tank.

There are different kinds of people in every town — some who don’t necessarily involve themselves in local culture — but it seems like a good majority of the folks I’ve encountered in my 15-or-so visits to Kansas City have possessed a well-above-average knowledge base in the art of cooking meat. Having good ingredients is crucial — and the animals are indeed raised well around here — but it’s the technique that makes BBQ sing.

And that technique isn’t something that can be learned; you have to grow up doing it. In KC, it’s a hobby.

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

Uncle Chuck is pulling lobsters along the tip of Massachusetts this summer, fulfilling a lifelong dream while waiting out a tough economy for sales people. He, along with my cousin Joe and Uncle Rick, hauled in 500 lbs. on Wednesday, a high-mark since they started dropping traps in May. I’m visiting them later this month.

source:

With no front-porch feast on the docket at the Silva house due to an absent pitmaster, I headed out on my own this afternoon. I wanted to hit up Oklahoma Joe’s — a favorite spot among the baseball beat writers I follow on Twitter — before the arrival of the rest of the Major League Baseball media horde later this weekend. Those lines are long enough on days when it’s just people from the neighborhood.

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

“Okie Joe’s” has three locations, all on the Kansas side of town. I went to the one on 47th and Mission. It’s built into a gas station and it can be hard to find a good parking spot, but no one seems to notice or care.

Perhaps that’s because there’s a company-owned liquor store right next door. Convenience, after all, is king.

source:

I ordered a “Z-Man Sandwich, a side of fries and a side of beans,” while trying my best to sound and look like a frequent visitor. The Z-Man is a pile of sliced beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese and two hulking, flaky onion rings tucked into the center of a buttered kaiser roll. It’s the kind of concoction you’d slap together after a long night of drinking in college. Yet with meat that consistently medals in international barbecue competitions, including the American Royal which is held every October in an area of town called the West Bottoms. “It’s a sea of tents and smoke,” my cousin Jake says. He works on a team called Junkyard Barbecue, founded over 25 years ago by the Davis family — regional BBQ royalty.

The “Okie Joe’s” beans hit sweet and spicy notes simultaneously. They have the texture of chili and a finish like candy. The fries were as good as fries get, crispy but mushy. I washed it all down with a pink lemonade.

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

Tonight, we drink. Jake has outlined a list of his favorite dive bars in the city — places where we might be laughed at for squeezing lemon slices into our glasses of Boulevard Wheat. Of course, we’ll do it anyway.

Red Sox place Nathan Eovaldi on 10-day injured list

Nathan Eovaldi
AP Images
Leave a comment

The Red Sox have assigned right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the 10-day injured list after finding a loose body in his right elbow, per a team announcement. In a corresponding move, left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Eovaldi’s spot on the 25-man roster.

While the move is retroactive to April 18, there’s little reason to believe that Eovaldi will be back on the mound anytime soon. The veteran righty has a history of elbow issues and missed over two months of the 2018 season when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow last spring. For now, however, any definite recovery timetable or pending surgical procedures have yet to be announced.

After struggling through his first few outings of 2019, Eovaldi looked like he finally hit his stride during his last start against the Yankees on Wednesday. He tossed six quality innings, allowing just one unearned run, three hits, and three walks, and striking out six of 23 batters in the Red Sox’ eventual 5-3 loss. He currently holds a 6.00 ERA, 4.7 BB/9, and 6.9 SO/9 across 21 innings.

The Red Sox have not formally announced a replacement for Eovaldi in the rotation, but will turn to Poyner as they seek to strengthen a bullpen that currently ranks eighth-best in the AL. The 26-year-old lefty reliever presented well for Triple-A Pawtucket in his first five appearances of 2019, issuing three runs, five walks, and 13 strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings.