In this installment of Better Know a Commenter, we chat with prolific commenter Scott McKinney, who has frequented these parts for nearly as long as the parts have been here.
Can we assume that you are answering these questions in your established uniform of boxers and shades?
I spend a lot of time in boxers (boxer briefs, actually) but I'm responding to this at work, where boxers and shades are frowned upon for some reason.
Standard dating profile questions: Age? Sex? Height? Hair color? Marital status? Kids?
40s, male, 5'11", light brown, married, one daughter (5 1/2 years old).
Who's your daughter's favorite Royal? Does your wife share your Royals fandom or at least suffer it well?
My daughter doesn't know a single Royal by face or name. I haven't really tried to teach her baseball. And I typically watch Royals games on DVR after she goes to bed, so she hasn't really been exposed to them much. She has some Royals gear though and likes the "KC" logo. My wife grew up in West Virginia and Florida and isn't a sports fan. So she has no particular affinity for baseball or the Royals. She suffers through my Royals fandom.
Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
I live in NYC (Manhattan, upper east side) now and I've lived in this metro area since 2000. I grew up in Wichita, Derby and Manhattan, KS.
While we're all much more than just being Royals fans, it is the tie that binds us. What brought you to the Royals' front stoop knocking on the door to be let in?
Like most Royals fans, I was born into it. I was born in Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, KS and grew up in Derby, KS. My father was a Royals-Chiefs-Wildcats fans and I became one as well (although I somehow developed a childhood Dallas Cowboys fandom as well. The 1970's were a weird time.). I was a pretty standard fan until the mid-90's. I graduated from law school depressed and looking for something to heal my soul (these are only slight exaggerations). I latched onto baseball, and particularly Royals baseball. Before then, I had been an average fan. I followed the team, I watched the games when I could, but my knowledge was not ultra-deep. But when I moved back to Kansas, I got in ultra-deep. I read everything I could about the Royals. I started reading more and more about baseball. I built a pretty good baseball library. The expansion of the internet in the late 90's and early 00's really helped me learn more and gave me places I could discuss baseball and the Royals (moving to NYC in 2000 meant I had few humans I could talk about Royals baseball with face-to-face). It also started my exposure to sabermetrics.
Perhaps more importantly, why did you stay?
Why am I still a Royals fan? Because for me, fandom is about sticking. Fandom isn't about latching onto a winner, or staying loyal to a team for as long as they are good. Fandom is about a loyalty that exists for as long as the team lasts. They are my team, period. It's like a family member. You don't cut them loose when things go badly. They are yours, period.
While many choose not to define themselves by their job, what do you do to make ends meet? For how long have you been plying that trade?
Lawyer who isn't really practicing law. A variety of things I do utilize my legal education and experience, but most of what I do is working to bring a variety of social services to people who live in affordable housing.
A noble endeavor. Is it something you intend to keep doing or is there another vocation that you'd like to try?
I've been working for nonprofits in one way or another since I finally got out of school. I'm pretty committed to having a job that helps people. I don't know that I'll keep this job for the rest of my working life, but I'll stay in this industry in one way or another.
What is your educational background/area of study?
B.A., KSU, Political Science
M.A., KSU, Political Science
J.D., Univ. of Minnesota Law School
As one of the RRers who've lived and loved in the Twin Cities, how was your experience there? Where did you live?
I lived in Minneapolis for the three years I attended law school there. I hated law school for a variety of reasons, which made it difficult for me to enjoy anything during that period. That being said, I really liked Minneapolis. Cool place, good people, accessible, attractive (I like the small lakes in the city). In my first year, I lived in the Phillips neighborhood, a blah, downscale residential neighborhood. The other two years, I lived in the Uptown neighborhood, which is Minneapolis's trendy/fun/hip/whatever neighborhood. It had more than its share of annoying hipsters, but it's a great neighborhood with cool restaurants, clubs, theaters, and more. I also lived pretty close to the neighborhood's lakes which made for some nice walks to get away from the ugliness of law school.
What was it about law school that was so miserable?
I'll give you the short answer. The people, the process, the place (school not city). The attitude, the ambition, the pretension of legal education as being about learning a new way to think, when in reality it is mostly just a vo-tech education. There's so much, but I won't bore you with it.
One thing that didn't help my law school induced depression was the one thing about the Twin Cities that I really didn't like: the winter. I grew up in Kansas where winters can be bitterly cold, but they last about 3 months, and even the biggest snow storms usually melt away within a few days. In Minneapolis, it starts snowing in October and that snow doesn't melt until May. In large parking lots (like at a big box store) they plow snow into a corner of the lot, and that giant mound of snow just grows all winter long. It's freaky. Snow is supposed to melt. The length of the winter was the worst. My first winter there, I went home (Derby, KS) for spring break, and it was green and there were flowers blooming. I went back to Minneapolis and everything was still gray. I couldn't see a single bud. I thought that there was a chance that it had gotten so cold during the winter that everything had died. The Twin Cities have a great summer, but it is far too short.
How did living in Minneapolis affect your feelings about moving back to Kansas versus venturing out into the world?
I think living in a city was good for me and helped me to broaden my horizons. Before that, I had lived in suburbs and a college town. It was good for me. I guess it made my eventual jump to NYC slightly less jarring (but only slightly).
One of the biggest questions everybody is probably dying to know is what did you do with the free time afforded you by being temporarily banned from the site?
Work, tweeting a bit, and working on data collection for an article comparing Dayton Moore to other GM's (I had hoped to have it completed within a couple weeks of the end of the World Series. Now I hope to have it done by Opening Day.)
I ask this next question as someone who catches a fair bit of guff from those around me. As one of the most active commenters on the site, what do your friends and family think of your Second Life here at Royals Review?
Few know anything about it. My wife knows and basically thinks of it as one of my little eccentricities. My parents and some few other friends of mine know about some of the articles I've written but don't know about my voluminous commenting. I think I mostly keep this part of my life separate from other parts.
With the understanding that obviously baseball and the Royals are an area of interest for you, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
The Royals, baseball and analytics are my primary avocations. I watch a lot of movies and enjoy them, but my wife and especially my daughter take up a lot of my time and I choose to prioritize them over spending a lot of time on other hobbies.
Obviously movies have been a topic of conversation here lately, but what sort of films do you gravitate towards? Do you have directors whose oeuvres particularly tickle your fancy?
I'm usually in the mood for a good comedy, but while comedies are ubiquitous, good comedies can be harder to find. I'm a huge science fiction fan, especially space opera. I think I can enjoy a movie of any genre that's really well made (by my own subjective standards). I'm a huge fan of Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, and Steven Soderbergh.
As a Soderbergh fan, can I assume you watched The Knick? What were your takeaways from the first season of the show?
Haven't seen it. I probably should. There are many TV series that most think are excellent that I haven't watched yet. I keep thinking I'll get around to them.
What's the best thing you've read in recent memory? Describe it as though you were trying to convince someone else that they should read it.
Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game. I love reading about the very, very early history of American baseball and its true European roots. For the most part, what we've been told isn't true. Not only are stories like Abner Doubleday pure fabrication, but also the idea that baseball evolved from the game rounders are unsupported by the historical record. A lot of good historical investigation has been done in the last 10-15 years to flesh out the development of the game of baseball. I found John Thorn's book to be a fascinating read. It's a little dry. Not for someone who isn't really into the pre-history of American baseball.
Since we're all fans of baseball and reading--otherwise why else would we be here--give us a shortlist of what you consider your favorite books on the sport.
Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract - a great bunch of historical information and analysis. A very quick and easy read, as it is made up of a bunch of little chunks of fun information.
The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers - So much good stuff in there about pitching and pitchers.
Baseball Before We Knew It - Great writing on the pre-history of baseball, including debunking the prevailing myths
Baseball in the Garden of Eden - More on the pre-history of baseball
More than Merkle: A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History - I love this book. It basically tells the story of the 1908 baseball season. It's a great snapshot of what baseball really was like at the time. It's full of fascinating information about what life was like for a MLB player, umpire, fan, etc. It of course goes deep into the story of Merkle's Boner, but goes far beyond that, as the title suggests.
As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires - an excellent book about professional umpires. It goes in depth about how they are trained, how they get into the minors, work their way up and into the majors. It tells about the daily life of umpires at various levels, what their game experiences are like and more. It reveals a lot about how umpires really feel about things like instant replay, etc.
The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics - basically the history of baseball stats. Tells a great story; not a dry read at all.
The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball - Anyone with even a moderate interest in going beyond ERA, batting average and pitcher Wins should read this book. It is very accessible and not at all off-putting.
We all have a long list of stupid shit that we've done. What's the dumbest thing you've done?
Well, most know the story of me giving my business card to a stripper (I was drunk; it was not the product of a rational decision making process). There's also a great story which I will not tell here from when I was in law school which involved way, way too much drinking and public nudity.
As someone quite familiar (presumably) with the city in which the au naturel drunken shenanigans transpired, can you at least give me a locale and the amount of alcohol consumed?
My apartment complex, and an unknown but extremely high amount of alcohol. Blackouts of many parts of the evening prevent any memory of how much I drank. The drinking started shortly after my last final of my first semester in law school (which I think was late afternoon) and continued deep into the night. It started with beer and moved to shots...
Describe yourself in three sentences or less.
I am a good person but with significant flaws (like most people, I think). I've got lots of strengths and weaknesses. I am much more blunt and confrontational on Royals Review than I am in the rest of my life.
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
Excellent question. It's probably too difficult to just give one answer. Will McDonald because his Royals fandom is very complicated. Farmhand because he lives a very interesting life that is very different from mine. thelaundry because I think we'd get along very well. keith jersey because I'd be interested in seeing how we would interact face to face (I think it would likely be good conversation and honest disagreement, not involving a lot of arguing).
Can we assume that your love of debate exists presents itself outside of the message boards, or do you also keep that isolated to your internet persona?
I love a good debate. In the real world, the intensity with which I will debate someone depends on how well I know the person. Good friends and family for the most part get the full treatment (lucky them). At work, debates are short and low intensity. A stranger at a bar talking about batting average and pitcher Wins likely won't even get a response from me. Here at RR, I'm comfortable and the place exists to talk about these things. It is by its very nature a discussion and debate forum. So I share my mostly unedited and unfiltered opinions. So here, even with a stranger, it's easy to openly and doggedly debate.
What have I missed? What would you like to put out there for the world to digest?
Fun facts: I was a high school debater (NDT, not CEDA), I'm an open water certfied scuba diver, and I have a sweet mid-range jump shot (but let's just play half court, ok?).
Thanks for letting us get to better know you, Scuba Scott!