Show Me champions and trouble
Missouri celebrated its second professional sports championship in eight months today in Kansas City, where an estimated crowd of more than 700,000 turned out to cheer on the Chiefs three days after its Super Bowl LIV victory.
In June, the celebration was at the other end of the Show-Me State, as the Blues brought the Stanley Cup to St. Louis for the first time.
Many in St. Louis have jumped on the Chiefs bandwagon since the Rams left in January 2016 to return to Los Angeles. That number has probably grown exponentially since Patrick Mahomes took over as starting quarterback in 2018.
There may be some Bears fans in and around St. Louis, but considering the hatred eastern Missouri, if not all of Missouri, has for the Cubs (and the White Sox among Royals fans), many probably hate the Monsters of the Midway just as well. The Bears played in the Cubs’ park from 1921-70, so there’s a natural tie for that hatred.
Indianapolis is not a long drive east on Interstate 70, but the Cardinals were in St. Louis for 24 seasons before Robert Irsay told the Mayflower vans to drive the Colts’ gear from Baltimore to Indiana. And I doubt any St. Louis football fans would root for another team which relocated.
The Chiefs probably had a sizable St. Louis base from 1988-94 between the Cardinals’ departure for Arizona and the Rams’ arrival. The Chiefs were 4-12 in 1988, the year before Marty Schottenheimer was hired by Kansas City. By 1993, the Chiefs had Joe Montana under center and reached the AFC Championship, where they lost to the Bills.
The Rams were putrid their first four seasons in St. Louis (1995-98). Then projected starting quarterback Trent Green blew out his knee in the Rams’ second exhibition game of 1999, forcing Dick Vermeil to plug in some nobody named Kurt Warner. The Greatest Show on Turf was born, and a little less than six months later, St. Louis had its first sports championship since the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series.
Baseball is currently the only sport where Missouri’s largest cities have a rivalry. The NHL had it for two years with the woebegone Scouts, aka the artists now known as the New Jersey Devils (and the Colorado Rockies in between). Each city had an NBA team, but not at the same time; the Hawks left St. Louis for Atlanta in 1968, four years before the Cincinnati Royals moved to Kansas City. Of course, slimeball Joe Axelson moved the Kings to Sacramento in flagrant violation of the Warriors’ territorial rights in 1985. Had the Warriors had strong ownership in the mid-1980s like they have with Joe Lacob, the Kings never make it to Sacramento. Does that mean the Kings would have stayed in Kansas City? Probably not, because David Stern didn’t mind teams hopscotching the way it was abhorred by Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth.
Since 2011, the four professional franchises currently residing in Missouri have won a championship. The Cardinals’ most recent World Series win was in 2011 vs. the Rangers; the Royals got theirs four years later vs. teh Mets.
Missouri may have great sports teams and two wonderful metropolises at opposite ends of I-70, but I don’t know if I would want to live in the Show-Me State. I doubt it.
The biggest problem Missouri has is its nonchalant attitude towards regulating nicotine.
The sales tax on a pack of cancer sticks in Missouri is 17 cents. Repeating: SEVENTEEN CENTS.
That’s one dollar and seventy cents per carton. In Illinois, the tax on one pack of cancer sticks is $2.98. I think Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is a tool and the political cronies in Chicago have ruined the rest of the state, but at least it has one thing right (well, Chicago-style hot dogs are awesome).
Kansas’ tobacco tax is a joke as well, although $1.19 per pack is a lot better than 17 fucking cents. I’m sorry I used that word, but I believe smoking cigarettes is the most vile habit a person can acquire, short of violent crime.
Missouri’s smoking laws are a joke, too.
The state does not have a law which bans smoking in all enclosed settings. Bars in many corners of the state allow smoking wherever, whenever.
Kansas City has an indoor smoking ban, but customers can go out to a patio and suck on their cancer sticks, fouling the air for the rest of us who value our lungs.
The Buffalo Wild Wings at Zona Rosa has a large patio, and upwards of 20 smokers have been known to populate it on a given spring day. If Liz and Lisa weren’t working there, I would have quit going many moons ago.
The patio at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek is smaller, but there are plenty of smokers there on nice days. For a while, a man named Bill, who was a dead ringer for Michael McDonald, played trivia and sucked down on cancer sticks between questions.
St. Louis and the two major counties which make up the metropolitan area on the Missouri side, St. Louis and St. Charles, have adopted some pretty weak smoking bans. The ban is stronger in the city of St. Louis.
The lack of a tough smoking ban in the St. Louis area is why I stuck to getting White Castle to go when I went to St. Louis last year.
Illinois doesn’t have that problem. Smoking is banned in all enclosed areas in the Land of Lincoln, same as Kansas. As much as I dislike many things about my father’s home state, at least it has a smoking ban.
Missouri’s alcohol laws are also troubling.
There is no open container law. Passengers in a car can drink freely except in the cities with a ban, the largest of which are Independence, Columbia and St. Charles.
Every time the Missouri Legislature debates an open container law, it is shot down by the lobbyists from Anheuser-Busch (InBev). By failing to pass an open container law, Missouri has lost out on hundreds of millions of federal highway funds. No wonder I-70 between Kansas City and St. Louis is a death trap–the state doesn’t have the funding because it is too stupid to pass a common-sense law.
That’s all I have the energy for tonight. I am beat.