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How Kansas City And Baltimore Match Up Outside The Baseball Diamond

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Allen Brewer
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Since winning the American League wild-card game against the Oakland A's and sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in the Division Series, the Kansas City Royals have brought a big shot of hope back into the metro area.

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Downtown Baltimore.

Now the boys in blue are going to the championship against the Baltimore Orioles, which should be an interesting matchup. In fact, looking at Kansas City  and Baltimore in general is an interesting matchup. Take a look at how both cities stack up against each other socially and culturally:

Fame

Baltimore has many calls to fame through its residents and their works. Edgar Allen Poe lived there periodically and ended up dying in the city. Director John Waters was born in Baltimore, and shot many of his films there. Most recently, HBO's critically acclaimed crime series The Wire was shot in Baltimore.

Actors Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and Don Cheadle were born in the Kansas City metro area. Painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton lived and worked in Missouri for many years, and died in Kansas City. Director Robert Altman was born in Kansas City, Mo. He also filmed Kansas City here.

Baltimore wins this because of John Waters' transgressive wit and The Wire, which is going to be rebroadcast on HBO sometime soon. Kansas City just isn't as famous outside of jazz musicians and barbecue joints.

WINNER: Baltimore.

Real estate

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Baltimore's rowhouses are largely vacant, left to be demolished by the city.

Vacant property is a problem in both cities. Kansas City's Ivanhoe neighborhood in particular has seen more than its fair share of trash-filled lots. But as KCUR's community engagement team found during its exploration of Kansas City's east side, there are some residents who are fighting against vacancy

Like Kansas City's vacant lots, Baltimore's rowhouses are an unfortunate sign of white flight and urban decay. Some have taken to renovating rowhouses, but The Baltimore Sun reported that City Hall is committed to tearing down vacant rows in order to spur development. 

Efforts to reshape dilapidated neighborhoods in both cities are commendable. It's tempting to give Kansas City the edge in this category, but Baltimore has a much larger amount of property to deal with. We'll call this a tie.

WINNER: Tie.

Food

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Pit beef is Baltimore's answer to barbecue.

Kansas City's call to culinary fame is undoubtedly barbecue. Restaurants like Arthur Bryant's, Gates and Oklahoma Joe's are well known for making Kansas City-style barbecue internationally recognized.

Baltimore's most iconic food items are pit beef and crab. Pit beef is grilled roast beef on a bun with onion, mayonnaise and horseradish sauce, similar to a barbecue sandwich that one might order in Kansas City.

Baltimore's crab is also exceptional since it can be brought in fresh to the city's port. Kansas City has no such luck with seafood. 

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Joe's Kansas City's Z-Man blows Baltimore's pit beef out of the water.

Comparing pit beef to Kansas City barbecue is hardly a fair fight, but Baltimore edges Kansas City out with fresh seafood. It's a close call, but we have to give it to us for barbecue. It's just too delicious.

WINNER: Kansas City.

Drugs

Though Missouri has had a methamphetamine problem for decades, the latest figures show that meth production has dropped drastically in the last several years thanks to restrictions on pseudoephedrine.

Baltimore has its own drug problem that, unfortunately, isn't getting better: heroin. With an estimated one in 10 residents using the drug, Baltimore is the heroin capital of the United States. 

Obviously, Kansas City has the edge on Baltimore in terms of cracking down on hard drugs, but hopefully our East Coast rivals will start to shape up soon.

WINNER: Kansas City.

Music

Kansas City's 18th and Vine district is recognized as one of the centers of jazz in America. Charlie Parker and Count Basie both played here in the 1920s and 1930s, when Kansas City was known as the "Paris of the Plains."

Baltimore club came up in the late 1980s as a blend between hip hop and house music. 2Live Crew collaborator Frank Ski was the DJ who pioneered the new sub-genre, which is popular in clubs throughout the Baltimore area. 

Without Kansas City jazz, it's likely that the entire genre would look very different from how it does today. If you ask anyone outside of Baltimore what Baltimore club music is, they'll likely be confused. Kansas City wins this one.

WINNER: Kansas City. 

The bottom line

In our estimation, which is admittedly and playfully biased, Kansas City is the winner. And in terms of baseball, the rest of America agrees.

Our friends at Baltimore's NPR station also did a matchup. See how Kansas City fared in their version

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