Let’s talk for a second about in-state opponents.
The reality of the situation is that Mizzou doesn’t really have any. Before any UMKC fans jump down my throat about the Kim Anderson hoops era, however, let’s at least acknowledge that there’s not one Division I school that can challenge Mizzou in a variety of sports. Missouri State can hang with Mizzou in baseball and has a pretty stellar women’s hoops program. Saint Louis has been a better men’s hoops program more recently. SEMO... well, I’m sure they’re great at something.
However, there does appear to be quite a bit of animosity thrown at Mizzou from some of its smaller in-state... I don’t know, rivals? Co-horts? Compatriots? Co-Missourians?
For instance, here are two separate instances of opposing fanbases getting into their feelings regarding Mizzou this week.
1. Hell yeah, based B*rst*l calling for student loan forgiveness, righteous
2. What an incredibly weird take. Disparaging anyone for their school choice has always seemed (to me) to be an incredibly stupid look as most everyone is making their college decision at least somewhat carefully. Some people make that decision based on money, which is an incredibly reasonable thing to do. Some people make that decision based on the career path they want to pursue (SEMO has a lauded education program! Mizzou is a dynamite journalism school!) And some people want to stay closer to home which, again, is a totally reasonable thing to do for 18-year-olds just taking their first steps out on their own.
Of course, this isn’t about a reasonable discussion regarding school choice because
it’s B*rst*l it’s Twitter. This is just a weird, dim attempt at an insult based vaguely on class and the general assumption that anyone cares about football as much as us weirdos do.
That would have been enough. BUT THEN someone had to open an entirely new can of worms after a benign Ben Frederickson tweet regarding how Mizzou was beating the pants off of SEMO (as expected).
I wouldn't compare SLU hoops to SEMO FB. SEMO got $550,000 for this game. Also: MU was willing to play 2-for-1 (2 games in CoMO, 1 in STL) and it didn't get done. Fighting about that offer is fine, but point remains games could have happened. Everything else = semantics. https://t.co/qrGjq64zcI— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) September 18, 2021
Ah, yes. The old, “mIzZoU wOn’T pLaY uS,” chestnut. Two things:
2. This is actually a more nuanced discussion than the SEMO-student loans one (obviously). Despite finding a way to get triggered in a tweet that had nothing to do with SLU or basketball — and entirely misrepresenting the state of affairs between the two programs — Brad does at least raise a discussion worth having. There’s been a lot written about the Mizzou-SLU back and forth and, to be honest, it kind of reminds me a little bit of the Border War situation we’ll soon be exiting (thankfully). Mizzou and KU should have been playing each other year in and year out, but the two sides could never come to an agreement.
The real difference between those two situations is, I think, the fact that Mizzou and SLU don’t have much history while Mizzou and KU have [gestures wildly at Midwestern history dating back to the Civil War]. If there was a historic rivalry between the Tigers and the Billikens, I think a case could be made that a home-and-home is a fair thing for SLU to ask. But the fact of the matter is, there isn’t.
And it’s not as if putting SLU on the calendar beefs up the schedule all that much either. Mizzou will soon be playing both Kansas and Illinois every year with MTEs and the SEC-Big 12 Challenge factored in. In the next few years, they’ll add Oklahoma and Texas to their yearly schedule. Would a Mizzou vs. SLU matchup be lots of fun? Sure. But it doesn’t really move the needle in terms of the Tigers’ tournament chances every year.
Anyway, tl;dr refer to the two pictures above.
Let’s get to the regular segments, shall we?
The (Actual) Revue
Guardians of the Show-Me State
Superhero movies have captured the public imagination over the past two decades, and it’s not hard to see why. They’re gaudy spectacles with the promise of high (but in all reality low) stakes, an otherworldy budget and some of the most recognizable faces in the entertainment industry.
However, superhero movies’ inherent need to rack up box office wins has led to the creation of a prototypical formula. It’s not always the same, but it’s a buffet of easy-drinking character traits and plot devices that go down smooth without challenging the audience too much. Thus is the case with Guardians of the Show-Me State, a Drinkwitz production that veers into the unnecessary and yet still offers plenty of enjoyment for the real heads.
Like most Drinkwitz joints, Guardians has a high-octane pace that rarely lets up, even when the main characters cede way to the supporting cast in the back half of the film. It feels like a risky move in a vaccum, but remember, we’re talking superheros here — the stakes are pretty low, especially if we’re not all teaming up to fight Nick Saban, er Thanos. The low stakes fun allows the supporting characters some room to breathe while still introducing new strands of conflict that keep things interesting down the stretch.
It’s also good to see Drinkwitz operate efficiently as a screenwriter as well. It would be simple to cut a plain old formulaic script for a game like this, but Drinkwitz adheres to his calm, methodical approach that slowly yields to increase enthusiasm down the road. It especially works well as an ensemble piece, allowing Drinkwitz to explore the outer limits of his ability to work with talent, a skill he has yet to flex in his time at Mizzou Studios.
And while the performances feel a little overinflated, it’s still nice to see some of the studios major stars come out to play for a just a little bit before relinquishing screen time to the peripheral pieces. Connor Bazelak continues to look like a star in the making while Tyler Badie continues his breakout hot streak that could net him some serious hardware come awards season. The real standouts, however, are all the younger performers that still need a little seasoning on set before their star starts to shine. Dominic Lovett, Arden Walker, Travion Ford, BJ Harris... these are just a few of the names that come to mind when we consider Mizzou blockbusters of the future.
Overall, Guardians is a fun and satisfactory, if forgettable trip to the multiplex. You’re not likely to take a lot home with you outside of the excitement that comes from watching the stars of tomorrow, but even that’s something to take home. Let’s hope Drinkwitz comes prepared with some meatier material in his next few productions.
And the M-y Goes To...
Best Debut Performance: JJ Hester as “Mama, there goes that man”
Best Director: Eli Drinkwitz for “Run it up, Eli, leave no doubt!”
While Mizzou coaches of the past would’ve been content to put up a few scores and led the game tread water from there on out (a strategy I wouldn’t have quibbled over), Eli Drinkwitz didn’t come to play. The Mizzou head coach had his players put their foot on SEMO’s throat and not let up until the resolution was all but played out. A not-altogether novel approach, but one that is welcomed for fans who have sat through some real duds in the past.
Lifetime Three Game Achievement Award: Tyler Badie for being Tyler Baedie
Is this award cringe? I don’t know, man, maybe don’t judge so hard. Maybe he is Baedie and you’re freaking out about the word, “bae,” ‘cause you’re a little insecure in your own masculinity.
Or maybe it is cringe. That’s an acceptable answer, I suppose.