This time we sit down with lawyer, father, and militant feminist Holy Moley!
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? Perhaps more importantly, why did you stay?
I was born on that front stoop to a former college pitcher, high school baseball coach, and lover of the game. More specifically, my dad was a scout for a third party Major League statistics company in the late 80s/early 90s. (Their stats appeared on the back of the 1991 Topps Stadium Club baseball cards, otherwise you'd probably never heard of them). A perk of that job was that the company paid for season tickets directly behind home plate, two rows from the field so my dad could chart the games. Sometimes he would take my mom or sister or to the games, but most often he would take me. Buck O'Neil sat directly across the aisle from me. Tom Watson was three seats to the right of us.
The Royals were the first sports team of which I was a fan, who were mine. George Brett was my hero, along with guys like Frank White, Kevin Seitzer, Mark Gubicza, Bret Saberhagen, and Danny Tartabull. I still recognize Bo Jackson as being first and foremost a baseball player and will hear no arguments to the contrary.
Only later in high school when I was purchasing my own tickets ($5 RF GA!) did I realize how good I had it back in my childhood.
In high school and college, my friends and I would spend a lot of time at the K, often just parking in the lot with a grill and a six-pack of [soda pop], listening to the game on the radio, and going into the stadium to catch the end of the game when they opened the gates in the middle of the 8th inning.
I stayed because the Royals are a touchstone of lot of my friendships, because fandom at the low points was a badge of honor, and because I was born with blind, Midwestern loyalty. I am proud to say that my only season as a (partial) season ticket holder was in 2006, a 100-loss season. Badge of Honor!
While my Royals love never died, attentiveness certainty waned, especially when I moved to St. Louis after law school. I always tried to make it out to Busch Stadium when the Royals came to town and have always been a box score watcher, but the lack of the ability to watch games on TV and go out to the K on a regular basis cut into my fandom. In 2012-2013, I reached a place professionally where I could breathe a little and discovered Royals Review which helped restore my ability to follow more closely. I really latched onto RR as my daily time suck when ESPN took Grantland off line.
Standard dating profile questions: Age? Sex? Height? Hair color? Marital status? Kids?
Mid-30s, Male, 6'5", brown hair. Married well above my league and managed to get her to bear my children twice; they are three years old and three months old.
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?
I am an attorney, and I work primarily in the area of land use and development. Spent eight years doing that in private practice and a little over a year ago I moved into an in-house role.
To the simpler ones of us (read: me), what does an in-house role in land use and development mean exactly?
In its simplest form, land use is the area of law that governs where buildings can be built and what uses any particular piece of land can be put to; it's what keeps someone from opening a Quik Trip in the middle of a residential neighborhood, for example. So when someone wants to build something, like a house or a business or anything, they have to make sure the land they want to build on is "zoned" correctly. And when someone wants to build something big, like an entire residential neighborhood or a business park or a shopping center, the builder is often required to contribute to the construction of the infrastructure that will serve their development - streets, sidewalks, sewers, etc. I help my client navigate those laws.
In-house simply means that I don't work for a law firm but rather I work directly for an organization who is my one and only client. It's a little more stable, and I don't have to worry about things like trying to get new clients and generating new business. I hate networking and schmoozing.
Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
Live now in Columbia, Missouri. Grew up in Eastern Jackson County suburb-land. Did an eight-year stint in St. Louis after law school.
Was your youth the stuff of an Arcade Fire concept album? The Wonder Years? What was your childhood like in the 'burbs of Kansas City?
[Feels slight breeze as Arcade Fire reference flys over my head] I'd say my childhood was pretty typical, if not idyllic. I recognize now that I had a lot of advantages growing up that other people don't enjoy. Two-parent household, we stayed in the same house from kindergarten to well after I moved out. While we didn't have a lot of money (my dad was a teacher and my was a stay-at-home mom who worked sporadically throughout my youth), my dad was never out of work, so while things could get tight, we were never in any serious trouble that I was aware of.
Lots of sports, both organized and unorganized, filled my days. I had a core group of close friends that I am still close with today. I was terrible at baseball, but played longer than I should have or wanted to because that is what I thought my former player/coach/scout dad wanted. Turned out he was relieved when I quit because he hated watching me struggle so much. I was pretty good at basketball, so I played that year round in my pre-teen years through high school. High school was pretty much equal parts honor roll and raising hell. Probably more honor roll than hell raising, as I am sure I was not as much of a bad boy as I imagine myself to have been, but I can say that me and my friends mostly got out of our teen years with less scars than we probably deserved.
When you talk about raising hell, what sort of stuff were you getting into?
Oh just typical bored-suburban-kid crap that I am not particularly proud of. Binge-drinking. Farm jobs (driving a car through a yard, cutting tire tracks into the lawn) and innocent garden gnome destruction. Cutting class. Binge-drinking. No felonies, but stuff that could have landed us in not-insubstantial amounts of trouble. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), we got away with most of it without any real consequences. It helped that my friends and I were good students, active in things like church youth group and student council, and athletes (which is a sad statement, but true); we got the benefit of the doubt more often than we probably deserved.
To many in this forum, the prospect of living in St. Louis is terror-inducing. What was your St. Louis experience like? What do the resentful denizens of this site get right and wrong? Are you happy to have relocated to Columbia?
I really liked living in St. Louis and will defend it to the hilt. The civic and non-profit institutions are amazing and often free or cheap (zoo, art museum, botanical gardens, Fourth of July celebration, children's museum, science center, parks) and make for a great place to raise a family. That said, St. Louis's problems are deep and substantial; crime and poverty have real grips on notable portions of the City and St. Louis County. However, I don't think they are as widespread as outsiders tend to believe. Unfortunately, the St. Louis metro is as segregated as it is portrayed, and this will be the number one problem that it will have to face and fix in the upcoming generations.
I have said before here that the depth of baseball knowledge of Cardinals fans is overstated. The impressive thing is how many people on a per capita basis are really big Cardinals fans and are willing to spend time and money on games, gear, and everything that goes along with being loyal fans. I think the Cardinals are a big source of civic pride and civic pride is something that St. Louis natives are naturally inclined to.
Columbia is a great town, but when you get down to brass tacks, it is a small town in the middle of nowhere. After living in the KC and St. Louis metropolitan areas for most of my life, it is hard getting used to not having everything a major city has to offer at your fingertips. But I am adjusting and starting to appreciate some of the differences and what it has to offer.
What is your educational background/area of study?
I majored in print journalism in college, but during my course of studies I came to the realization (and was directly told) that journalism was a dying profession and that even if I could find a job, I would never make any money doing it. I was bad at math, so any surface interest in the sciences and technology was quickly scuttled. So law school it was. Luckily, I actually was interested in studying law but even well into my first year of law school, I said things like, "I am not sure I actually want to practice law. I am getting this law degree so I can have a lot of options." I am lucky that I found an area of law that I enjoy and am passionate about because with the amount of money I had to borrow to get through law school, practicing law was really my only option.
Given the place to which you've relocated and your original major, can we assume you went to Mizzou for your undergrad? If you could have feasibly pursued a career in journalism, what do you think you would like to have done?
You assume reasonably but wrongly. I went to Southwest Missouri State University (now called Missouri State University) in Springfield because I was able to cobble together enough scholarships to cover my full tuition there. GO BEARS! That said, anyone who is serious about pursuing journalism as a career should absolutely go to Mizzou; my story may have turned out differently had I done so and everyone on RR would have been complaining about me instead of Lee Judge. I enjoyed feature writing and opinion-type writing (think columnists). I hate to say it, but when I was Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper, I wanted to be Rick Reilly. But you have to pay a lot of dues to get to a position where someone is willing to pay you do that, and I realized I had no interest in paying those particular dues.
The money spent on a Juris Doctor degree seems to be a recurring theme here at Royals Review. Have you found the debt incurred to be worth the pain when weighed against the work you can do with the degree? If you could wipe the slate clean and start over at college, do you think you would do anything differently?
I've asked myself that question before, and I honestly don't know. I probably would have stuck with the law degree because I really enjoy what I do. If I I really wanted to change course and get into something different like business or politics, I could probably find people willing to get me opportunities to do that because of my education.
If I had to start over, I could see myself getting into teaching, probably civics and/or history and coaching basketball at the high school level. My dad was a teacher, and he seemed to enjoy it (plus summers off!). But when I went to college, he made me promise that I would study anything but teaching because of the limited financial opportunities a career in teaching can offer.
With the understanding that obviously baseball and the Royals are an area of interest for you, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I have a lot of interests, but I have yet to find that one thing that makes me want to take a really deep dive which I could properly call a hobby. I was a pretty competitive basketball player in my youth, but too many ligament injuries and extra pounds keep me from really enjoying that anymore. I love golf, but I am abjectly terrible at it.
I enjoy reading; mostly non-fiction with interests that jump around quite a bit. I had an extended WWII history phase and am currently trying to absorb the popular physics texts, but they are proving to be a challenge to truly understand with a (very) limited basis in mathematics. I like craft beer, but not so crafty that I have to put a ton of effort or money into procuring said beer.
The thing I recently got most charged up about was when I finished a 1000 sq. ft. area in my basement into a playroom and home theater by myself just to see if I could competently do it (I could, but just barely). However, that proved to be a very expensive hobby. Truly, I guess my greatest interest is raising and playing with my kids.
There are certainly less noble interests for a parent to have than raising his or her children. How has fatherhood changed you?
I tell people that after my daughter was born, I immediately turned into a fierce, militant feminist. Seriously though, my kids are a main driving factor in every decision I make (and that's a good thing), and you want to give them every opportunity to succeed. At the same time, you have to make sure they are independent and are prepared to work hard and to fail.
Mostly, before my kids, I still saw myself as a kid who was faking it and afraid of getting my fraudulence discovered. It is because of them that I see myself as a full-fledged adult, capable of making adult decisions, which as helped me personally and professionally.
What brews are turning your crank right now?
The Hy-Vee near my house recently had Boulevard Heavy Lifting on sale for like $6.50 per six pack, so I bought them out. There is local outfit here in Columbia that I have been enjoying lately called Bur Oak Brewing, especially their Brown Ale. I generally go for dark porters and stouts (Blvd Bully! Porter is my all time favorite beer), but I like to think myself well-rounded. However, I do not understand the current Sour Beer and high ABV (10%+) trends going on now.
Have you had Summit Brewing's Great Northern Porter? That's one of my favorites. On the sour beer front, I was slow to come around, but there are a handful that I love now. What ones have you tried? I had two that opened the door for me: Duchesse de Bourgogne (a Flanders Red ale) from Brouwerij Verhaeghe out of Victe, Belgium and Independence Brewing Company's Red Bud (their take on the Berliner Weisse). Have your forays into the world of sours been mostly cursory thus far?
Definitely cursory. On the sours side, I've only tried Boulevard's Tell-Tale Tart and one of their Love Child series, I believe. Just not for me, and I don't see myself foregoing beer styles that I know I like to explore more sours. (Unless someone else is buying...)
I'll have to add Northern Porter to my list; always appreciate rec's of good dark beers. I'm currently trying get my hands on the Founder's Breakfast Stout, but its been hard to find. Once again, I am unreasonably loyal by nature, so I most often find myself leaning toward Missouri-made beers; Blvd., Schlafly, Mother's Brewing in Springfield, Four Hands Brewing in St. Louis, etc. I guess I am locavore when it comes to beer.
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.
I recently did a John Krakauer double feature of Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. The former is about mountain climbing on Mt. Everest, focusing on a expedition where a lot of people died, and the latter is about a college-age kid who disappears for two years and turns up dead alone in the wilderness of Alaska where he tried to eke out an existence living off the land. Both are about some people's need to test themselves against nature. While reading I found myself with competing thoughts of "What a stupid and selfish thing to risk your life and ultimately die for," and "Could I do it? What would it take to get to a place where I could reasonably try?" I even went as far as looking into glacier climbing training programs on Mt. Rainier. Fortunately, they basically said that you better show up with the ability to climb eight hours a day on difficult terrain while carrying a 60-lb. pack. That sent me back to earth pretty quickly.
We all have a long list of stupid shit that we've done. What's the dumbest thing you've done?
In high school, two buddies and I decided we didn't want go through the hassle or expense of getting dates to our homecoming dance; we would instead wait until after the dance and go to the after parties. Someone had the bright idea of heading up to the school to wait in the parking lot for the dance to get out and "let's bring this bottle of cheap whiskey with us so we can drink it while we wait." Of course the school police officer and vice principal were strolling the parking lots looking for idiots like us. The cop found the whiskey in the glove compartment. So we were all arrested and issued MIPs. I ended up having to do some community service and a brutally boring teen intervention program.
Pretty benign stuff, but years later when applying for my law licenses I had to report all instances in which I had ever been arrested and provide documentation. When I called my hometown police department for the records, they didn't have any records beyond the arrest report. After some digging, I found out that our case had been thrown out and the charges dropped because the arresting officer had conducted an illegal search when he searched my car for alcohol, but my parents had convinced the cops to not tell me this news and still have me go through all the community service and the intervention program nevertheless, even without a conviction. A little underhanded, but ever since it has kept me on the straight and narrow for the most part. I hope I have the opportunity to do something like this to (I mean for) my kids someday.
So your parents are basically evil geniuses? Were you able to laugh about it later?
I had never previously ascribed to them the deviousness necessary to pull of that stunt, so after spending the better part of a week trying to dig up juvenile criminal records that don't exist, I was able to laugh about it pretty quickly. The look on my mom's face when I told her that I found out what she did, nearly a decade after the fact, was pretty priceless.
Describe yourself in three sentences or less.
I am a bad typist; sorry. There is nothing more important to me than my wife and kids. My favorite place on the Earth is the parking lot a the K before a Royals game.
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
Probably Max and Sweep_the_Leg because I genuinely like talking to and hanging out with other lawyers. Honestly, I feel like RR is about 40% lawyers who are procrastinating on the briefs and contracts that they don't want to get to. Also, from a non-scientific analysis of my comments, I feel as though Luke Hanish gets my sense of humor, which is pretty dry and not for everybody. Overall, the population of RR seems to be a well rounded and pretty reasonable folk, which is rare when you get a bunch of people together, especially on the internet.