Still Up in the Air by Bob Ryan

So…spring training has officially opened….every team should have high spirits at this time of the year..but there are still many balls up in the air…not only about roster configuration but the implementation of the 10-day DL rule…

…..I’ve been asking for MLB teams to consider a variety of  ways to save the bullpen….6 man rotation, bridge man, 6-ace rotation….I’ve felt that the Birds Bullpen was overused in the past couple years and ran outta gas when it counted….well….it was right under my eyes…..keeping the balls…oops pitchers…up in the air with respect to the 10 day DL ….I think the worst rule ever dreamed up….either you are hurt or you’re not….real injuries don’t disappear in 10 days…sorry …I digress….the LA Dodgers manipulated the 10 day DL throughout 2017.  With Kershaw & Rich Hill were the #1-2 that went “on time” throughout the season….after that….the Dodgers  used a plethora of guys—Maeda, Wood, Ryu, Urias, McCarthy and finalized the season with Yu….of course Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling, Brett Anderson or Scott Kazmir also made starts for the Dodgers….and they were manipulating  the DL rule…using 10 day DL often and judiciously… a starter can often miss only 1 start in the 10 days….10 guys made starts for the NL Champions, seven of them made 9+ starts..everyone was fresher as innings were spread around like candy at a child’s party.  It’s the new course….wear the league down by quantity not quality…. The Cards are perfectly set up for the “quantity” approach….we have Carlos as #1….every 5 days….Waino, Wacho, Miles M, Weaver, Flaherty, Lyons, Norris….throw in Dakota Hudson……surely one of these guys can have a “sore” arm once every 4-6 weeks..right ….put them on the 10 day DL…move the others in & out as starters…follow the Dodging routine established last year …  We’ll we wear em’ down with quantity!  Acquiring Bud Norris & Jason Motte clearly was a sign of the “wear em down with quantity approach”…Norris is a 64-84 career wise; lifetime 4.49 era…last year it was only 4.21…now he did close games last year…19…nice total……some say that Manifesto will use the “quantity” approach with the closers…..I’ve NEVER seen him do it that way….he always seem to prefer one closer…why the Cards don’t trust Tyler Lyons is beyond me….in my view…he was the best in the pen last year…50 g; 2.83 era, 54 inn, 39 hits, 68 strikeouts (1+/inn), 4-1, 3 sv,HR /9 inn-= 0.5… man… he’d be my closer  to start 2018

….some experts were wondering why…with some many balls up in the air…if the Cards really wanted Archer…that they didn’t package two of the up & coming starting “prospects” to the Rays for Archer

…always up in the air is pitching…here’s my pick of the top 5 rotations going into 2018

  • Washington Nationals—still have the really big #1—Super-Max Scherzer…then the look of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez (don’t think he’ll be quite as good in 18 as 17), AJ Cole and Tanner Roark
  • Cleveland Indians 1)Corey Kluber ; 2) Carlos Carrasco; 3) Trevor Bauer 4) Josh Tomlin  5)Danny Salazar — all are right handers… sooo…maybe….they struggle against strong hitting left handed hitters..but they haven’t in the past
  • Arizona D-backs…if they didn’t play in that matchbox stadium with light air…it’d be much easier to recognize their skills: 1) Zack Greinke  ;  2) Robbie Ray 3)Taijuan Walker  4) Patrick Corbin; 5) Zack Godley                –all hard firing …aside from Greinke, still in peak years of performance
  • Houston—won MLB championship …brought in Verlander late last year and now they’ve added Gerrit Cole…the bottom two of rotations will be replaced by July 4th: 1) Justin Verlander; 2) Dallas Keuchel; 3) Gerrit Cole; 4) Charlie Morton 5) Lance McCullers
  • New York Yankees….  With Severino emerging last year; Tanaka sharp when he isn’t injured at the top of the order….Sonny Gray can be very good & CC is good when not on the DL …Jordan Montgomery is so-so   1) Luis Severino;  2) Masahiro Tanaka; 3) sonny Gray; 4) CC Sabathia  5) Jordan Montgomery      

…still on Card baseball….his career is definitely “up in the air”…catcher Carson Kelly can’t probably won’t start 30 games this year…..would you REALLY do that to one of your TOP prospects….sure he  may be used to “finish up” blow out games but …is that what you want?…..funny..he’s still listed as a prospect…will be stay a prospect until Yadi retires? By that time…he’ll have qualified for the MLB pension.  While I’m talking about Prospects, I think that a surprise young OF Adolis Garcia may pass up Bader & O’Neill  in the long run.  Remember our #1 pick, SS Delvin Perez of a couple years ago…..his ETA to MLB is 2021….meanwhile another SS, Edmundo Sosa has an ETA of 2019…..seems to me like Perez has been pushed down the chain…ya gotta forget about reading the hype about our draft choices.

….my thoughts were clearly up in the air last week when I noticed as I read the HS basketball box scores….most exciting part of my day …..that Incarnate Word had lost a game to Parkway North 76-63….now North is a very good team…and have been for several years now….so this is no “shot” at them but IWA beat them by 20 points 60-40 just 2 weeks earlier so kudo’s to  Head Coach Brett Katz for turning his team around against one of the supreme teams in Girls Basketball in the Lou .. and the countryfor many years now…

….in the Nearly Forgotton League….the NFL’s QB are still the ultimate position in the league…so when Washington obtains  Alex Smith from KC it appears that Kirk Cousins is on his way out….  apparently in an effort to keep his status “up in the air”, the Skins might “franchise’ him….driving his cost way up…probably beyond his value…why would they do that…..most experts…that’s not me…..indicated that it’s a move of “Pettiness”…..I guess human nature prevails over business sense in this one, heh?

…nothing up in the air here……locally, the UMSL Women’s Basketball team (18-5) is riding high these days….the Tritons have won 11 straight games to ensure themselves a spot in the 8 team GLVC post-season tournament. Coach Kate Vaughn is closing in on the all-time record for most WINS by the Women Coaches.

….Coach Cuonzo Martin has the Mizzou Tigers riding high….their 18-8 record, just had 5 game winning streak snapped by 1 point loss to LSU…wins over Bama, Kentucky, Old Miss, Miss State & Tx A&M…have legitimized Mizzou as a real “player” in the SEC conference…Martin’s intense style demands defense on the perimeter & keeping the ball out of the paint.  Even without Porter, the Tigers are “back”…no doubt about it.. nothing up the air regarding those thoughts.

…as St Louis U continues  to move upward…the coaching position could be “up in the air” …now 15-12 for the season…despite the quantum leap back to acceptability…..there has been a terrific amount of turmoil around the “program”… centering around the recruits of Head Coach Travis Ford….I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ford “move on”….I mean he was in this very same conference  as the Head Coach of UMass for 3 years(2005-2008) then jumped to a bigger…better conference…the  Big 12-Ok State…..why would he stay @ SLU….the “investigation” was soooooo sllllloooowwww…was it fair?….I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly what happened…I’m not so sure that even  the participants were lucid enough to really know what happened either  ……at any rate…we’ll NEVER know if it was fair/just… anyway..  after a wonderful “turnaround” season @ SLU this year..he was 12-21 last year…he may find Depaul, Pittsburgh, Memphis or E.Carolina more inviting…all…or most…of those will be hunting for a new head coach in the upcoming months.  SLU may…may…be back on the quick change cycle that they experienced between John Bennington & Rich Grawer….it went something like this… Buddy Brehmer – 4 years; Bob Polk-5 years; Randy Albrecht-3 years; Ron Coleman-1 year; Ron Ekker- 4 years…then Rich Grawer 10 years….Spoon for 7 years; Lorenzo Romar-3 years; Brad Soderberg-5 years; Rick Majerus-5 years; Jim Crews – 4 years and now Travis Ford in his 2nd year…btw…Jim Crews was the only coach to take the Bills to the 3rd round of the NCAA twice in the history of the school.

…finally…there’s nothing up in the air about this one….I want to recognize my wife’s cousin..and good friend…Steve Wieberg. Steve who covered  sports for the USA Today in his entire career… just completed his “tour” on the NCAA College Football Championship Committee… For his excellent work Steve received the Bert McGrane Award from the Football Writers Association…this award is equivalent to the organization’s Hall of Fame.  Steve has “put up” with my calls and snarky blogs…about the procedure used by the NCAA in choosing the Final four….First, I suggested a point system…then a system by conference champions…then ….eventually…I realized it would be a committee choosing the teams like the NCAA Basketball Committee after hours of watching film, extensive discussions, and plain ol’ hard work….Congrats Steve…it’s well deserved….

 

                 

same ol’, same ol’ … sometimes by Bob Ryan

As winter continues with us….hockey playoffs seem galaxies away….MLB baseball is still talking but not playing….March Madness a month away….some of the good ol’ stuff just isn’t here now….maybe in a lot of ways..

….there are still some significant MLB free (what an inappropriate word) agents unsigned…of course the agents…who’ve promised their clients millions of dollars..or maybe even billions….are hollering about collusion…… take a deep look @ this ol’ assumption…

….Since MLB teams NOW bring in more money from outside sources other than the Gate ….e.g.  in 2016…can’t find any 2017 numbers….guess they’re still juggling the numbers ….anyway in 2016 using the Cardinals… their revenue was $310m with $127m coming directly from the gate revenue…I’m sure that they are typical in that respect of earnings from the gate is NO longer the primary income…. there’s the local income for media rights, in-stadium sales…those $9 beers pile up, merchandising of official Cardinal stuff all year long and then there’s the big-moma….income for national media rights… what does that mean for free agents?….

…IF you are a team that  feels like that you are a contender and NEED to fill a particular spot on your roster, some of those teams WILL  pay the big price but there are already 10 or so teams this off season who have declared that they are “rebuilding”…PC term for we’re gonna lose with cheap guys and hope we can find real players later

…then there are the always wealthy franchises …LA Dodgers, Boston, Cubs, Giants, Tigers who are generally active in the free agent market to fill their needs….but…..the luxury tax penalty has taken a toll….e.g. the Dodgers paid a luxury tax of $30+m over the past few  years …these big spenders have halted their ramping upward to snatch each & every free agent who looks good to the eye…these big-spenders have been reaching for their wallet for a while now ..a long while…the Yanks have paid a”luxury tax” 15 consecutive years…of course it includes all the “dead” money that they have to pay..they paid $22.3m to players no longer on the 2017 team with $21m of that total going to A-Rod alone!! Other teams landing on the luxury tax spot…the only other place I ever heard that term prior to the last 2 years was on the Monopoly board …. are the Dodgers ..5 straight years…Red Sox/Giants for 3rd consecutive years & Cubs/Tigers are 2-time offenders…finally…it seems they teams are slowing down on their long term high payments to their stars…soooooo. Free agents don’t have the big spenders at the table

…and then there are the teams like the Phillies….NO ONE ever says ….”Oh yeah…those Phillies know what they’re doing”….well…in 2016…which team…according to Forbes mad the most money… yep…the Philadelphia Phillis made $88m while posting a 71-91 record…..why WOULD they want big-time free agents when they are making money as a non-contender?

…..Remember….for the owners….the goal is to make money……sometimes you need a winning team to do it….sometimes you don’t’…read above paragraph

…now if you want to travel to the other side of the tracks and listen to the agents…according to the agents the players percentage of the revenue has dropped from a peak of 56% in 2002 to 40% in 2015…of course…they fail to mention that the overall money pie being sliced up is FAR, FAR larger in 2015 than 2002.

…Generally fans can’t identify with the players…..their annual salaries are well publicized, scrutinized, and when a guy strikes out, is  thrown out, gets bashed as a pitcher…many moan, “and that guy is getting  paid $____(fill in the blank)…the owners seem to escape our criticism unless they DON’T pay enough payroll …e.g. Bill Bidwill…..this is an interesting dilemma for the fans… They want the owners to be generous but the players to not earn tremendous amounts of money…how does that work???

…so…the long of the short of it…..free agents may get a little less…or fewer years on their contract  this year  but…..they still are living “the good life”…and its due to US…the fans….who support MLB on and off the field.  It’s isn’t the same ol’ same ol’ approach to handling free agents.

…along the most recent Free Agent signings…Yu Darvish goes to the Cubs. He’s at least as good as Arrieta has been for the last couple years.  This has been the plan of the Cubs mgmt. team….draft field players who will be high quality and be “under control” for several years then buy the pitchers…why?  They felt that too many drafted pitchers  “never make it” due to arm issues while field players…the best ones…will have many more productive seasons for a team prior to their free agent years.  So far…it’s working out for them.

Odds & Ends…….

 For most of us….we were taught to be a man..or woman….. of your word…..doesn’t seem like the same ol’ same ol’ on that either…Josh McDaniels (NE off coordinator) accepts the Head Coaching  job verbally for Indianapolis Colts than 22 days later reverses course and turns down the job…. Meanwhile…several prominent candidates for the Colts have been gobbled up in the interim…..most are guessing that McDaniels will  be Belichick’s successor but maybe he picked that skill up from his current mentor…Bill Belichick …in 2000, Belichick resigned as coach of the Jets with a handwritten note within 24 hours of signing!!

….sometimes I wish that the Billikens had stayed with the same ol’ same ol’ and not departed the Missouri Valley Conference…discounting the manageable distance for fans, the decrease in travel expenses for the school, the addition of more days out of class due to trips, the history of SLU in the MVC…discounting all that…in ranking of the top 11 major basketball collegiate conferences in the USA…who’s the 11 on the list?…the Atlantic 10…the lowest spot….the Missouri Valley is #10 so it’s not a major jump upward…..but it is a move upward. Boy…just think if the same ol, same ol’ teams were still in the MVC…Wichita State, Tulsa, Bradley, Cincinnati,  Creighton, N. Texas St …a look way back in the MVC shows these schools being members  at one time Louisville (1963-74),  Houston  (63-74), Washington University of St Louis(1907-1942)…..and at one time most of the schools that later formed the Big 8 conference were members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

…The names of professional franchises don’t stay same ol’, same ol’ …they change…Recently the Cleveland Indians “shelved” Chief Wahoo emblem on their hat…apparently,  PC America ?….anyway look at most of the Names…there are distinct categories….for example..the animal names—Cubs, BlueJays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Tigers, Marlins… Then there are the human vocational names—Padres, Mariners,  Pirates, Brewers, Rangers, Royals… another category are the demographics names….Mets (Metropolitans), Twins, Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers ..Phillies & Dodgers?….. well….the Dodgers name originated in Brooklyn in 1890’s when Brooklyn began installing/using trolley lines… unfortunately there were many collisions with pedestrians…even fatal ones…so the Dodgers were the people who dodged the trollies!  The name ran the almost exactly the same lifespan as the Brooklyn Dodgers…last Trolley ran on Oct 30, 1956…11 months later team moved to LA….in that vein…WHAT should the LA team be called?  LA Highway Men?  LA MovieStars?…maybe just LA Stars?LA Crush? LA fog?….. What’s YOUR idea for a LA name? Yankees actually are exactly what it says..Yanks…originally known as the Highlanders since they played in the higher elevation of Manattan,..they were also called the Americans…..so the nickname for Americans from this area was Yankees… or another possibility….Yankees may have stemmed from Civil War references… or….maybe yet….it goes way back to the 18th century…the word Yankees was a derogatory name for the colonists… you take ur pick!… The Phillies name  was an abbreviation….the NL team established there was called the Philadelphias…that was shortened to the Phillies….so actually they are the Philadelphia Philadephians.  Some names are distinct to an area— Rockies, Astros…some…well….I guess you can find reasons for Rays…sting Rays?, Sun Rays? There are the hoosiery names—White Sox, Red Sox and the Red…once called the Redlegs. Then you have the non-humans…Angels and Giants.  Braves names is probably on its way out also….if Chief Wahoo got scalped can his fellow Braves be far behind?  What nicknames would you like?  I think the NBA has some of the best nicknames that have a local reference to them….Rockets, Celtics …Boston is known for its heavy numbers of Irishmen, Lakers …originally in Minnesota…. 76’ers, Suns, Spurs, Nuggets, Pistons, Pelicans, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Pacers, Mavericks. The non-area related names—Bulls,  Magic, Grizzlies, Warriors seem appropriate.

…..The Olympics surely has NOT stayed the same ol’ same ol’…..there are many new sports….for one…I really don’t care for ski gymnastics with double cartwheels, flips, multiple side turns….save that stuff for the summer Olympics….the gymnastics section.  Even the ice skating performances are so JUDGMENTAL….was it a triple or a double sho-she turn, a double cowsill….weren’t they singers?…I really don’t care for any of the sports that have Judges scoring…..it smacks of nationalism to me….I want stop-clock or tape measure sports… the ol’ time stuff— ski jumping…do those guys…and gals…have courage or what?  Speed skating….downhill skiing…long, long ski races, hockey.. just my own taste on Olympic sports…HOW ABOUT YOU? Btw….just learned that the US Olympic committee…not the US itself….. rewards athletes monetarily when they win medals.  That just doesn’t sound right to me….guess I’m too idealistic.  Scale–$25000-gold, $15000-silver and $10 grand for bronze.

….a Super Bowl area that might be considered same ol’ same ol’….14 years ago Justin Timberlake appeared with Janet Jackson. Jackson suffered through her “wardrobe malfunction”…that performance was considered scandalous…now  in 2018 show, Timberlake again is being ripped for extremely poor sound production during his show….he’s  2 for 2!…they should have done what I did…I turned off the sound when the show started…left on the picture just so I would know when it was over.

…. the High School Basketball scene has its regular season winding down…2 more weeks prior to district….if you follow HS sports, you have an idea of where “they stand” in relation to other teams. I generally find the state wide polls to have a different flavor.  According to Max Preps, the #1 Large School is Hazelwood Central, followed by Chaminade, Sikeston, St. Marys, Rolla, Oak Park, Rockhurst, Rock Bridge, Vashon and Webster Groves.  I have not seen most of those teams …and I don’t believe that these voters have either ….so a vote is often based on comparative scores and “scuttlebutt” from other writers and coaches….at any rate,,,3 of the top 4 are St. Louis Teams.  St. Mary’s is the highest rated Class 4 team from St. Louis in the rankings….does that mean anything in the post-season…NOPE…but it’s ALWAYS nice to receive recognition.

…in girls basketball, Francis Howell Central was listed as the #9 team in the pre-season poll.  The Spartans are 18-3 now but not rated at all in the top 20 teams.  FH Central has won 5 games by 6 points or less and 3 games by 7, 8,9 or 10 points…soooo…they are winning but not “blowing people out”.   Now you know why coaches …who want recognition for their team…run the score up! Central is led in scoring by Yani Curry (12.8ppg). Lauren Ebert leads the team in 3’s with 32 conversions. Ebert also has 20 blocks!  Hannah Currant tops the rebounding numbers  with 142.In the final 2 weeks, Central will face the #10 rated…and fellow school district rival….Francis Howell Vikings (14-7)-ranked #10…two times!!  It should be exciting for both schools…it won’t be the same ol’ same ol’ wrap up of the regular season.

…..Speaking of wrapping up…..I’m taking the same ol’ same ol’ departure line…thanks for reading..have  a good week!

 

Sports Dynasties & Cards Starters by Bob Ryan

Another Super Bowl is behind us now….what a game…..it was entertaining throughout the game….the 41-33 win by the Eagles broke most team offensive records…..most of you watched it so no need to recap…just a couple odds & ends…

…..Eagles Coach Doug Pederson stayed aggressive throughout the entire game…he didn’t change in the 2nd half…

….Nick Foles lived up to his “history”…if he gets off to a good start in a game….he’ll have much more confidence and accuracy throughout the entire game…if he starts poorly…he plays like a #2 QB

….personally with 2:03 left in the game & the Pats loading the line….I think some type of quick play action was the call for the Eagles…if it was incomplete…it was the 2 minute warning anyway… a completion ends the game….they won anyway sooo…..

…it seemed to me that the officials didn’t throw as many flags …especially on pass plays….it gave the game a better pace

…required data:  favorite commercial– Sprint commercial using artificial intelligence

…. A quick burst about Super Bowl History….

… no team has ever won more than 2 consecutive Super Bowls….and in fact….only 2 teams have been in more than 2 straight Supers….Miami was in 3 straight Supers but lost the first one followed by two championships—72-73,74 under Coach Don Shula… and of course the Buffalo Bills by Marv Levy were in 4 straight Super Bowls….losing all 4 of them –1991-94

….Jacksonville was hoping to get into their 1st Super  Bowl this year

….. it’s been a long time between drinks of the Super Bowl water for the NY Jets—Super Bowl III, 1968…was their last … and only appearance… with Joe Namath as QB

….the KC Chiefs were in 2 very early Super Bowls 1966 & 1969 but it’s been a long, long  time since they were there.

….to no one’s surprise …the New England Patriots have played in the most Super Bowls—10…they are the closest NFL team to a dynasty.

But what about the dynasties in other professional sports….

Baseball…..the Yankees have assembled some terrific runs over many different eras….getting into the series and winning many of them…first long run was world series championships in 1936,37,38.39 followed closely by another win in 1941, loss in 42 and a championship in 1943. Starting again with titles in 1947, 1949,50,51,52,53 a Series loss in 1955, won again 56, lost in 1957 …that’s 13 titles in 21 years + 3 World Series losses in that same time frame! Yanks appeared in Five consecutive World Series  1960-64—winning 2 while losing 3 of them …one to the Cards. Another NYY “ 6 years series run” began in 1996-2001-winning four of the 6 World Series. Total of 27 World Series Championships, and 40 World Series appearances for the Pin-strippers.

Basketball….the dynasty title goes to the Boston Celtics….Under Coach Red Auerach the Celts won EIGHT straight title (1958-66)…they won 9 of 10  …winning it in 1956 ….the STL Hawks won title in 1957-58 ….and the Celts won 11 of 13 years as they won again in 1968 and 1969. Auerbach was able to “rebuild” his team and make the transition from Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, Tom Heinsohn to  Bill Russel, Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havlichek, Don Nelson. …Since Free agency, the most any team can put together is 3 straight years…Michael & the Bulls & LA Lakers

Hockey…the team with a few different strings to titles belongs to the Montreal Canadians….the “habs” won five consecutive Stanley cups 1956, 57, 58, 59 ,60 then won 4 of 5 titles from 65-69, They notched more titles in 1971 & 1973 followed by another 4 year run from 1976-79. The last time that a team won two straight titles was the Detroit Red Wings  in 1997 & 98.

….things are looking up in local collegiate basketball front….

…Mizzou’s 15-8 record should start to raise some attention across the country. The win over Kentucky… unthinkable over the last 3 years….was a major step forward in gaining recognition.  Mizzou defends and keeps the ball out of the paint very well….still the late-game ball handling skills still elude them and have cost them some losses. They are playing hard and Coach Martin rides them hard…..btw….ya wonder if Martin’s message wears out….in his 3 coaching stops of his career (MO State, Tennessee and Cal)—each stop lasted exactly 3 years…on a different point….the loss of yet another athlete @ Mizzou due to sexual issues is disappointing…. and I’m sure frustrating… to the staff and fans of the Tigers…but…for now… let’s keep the Kentucky win in mind for now.

…SLU (12-11) ….on Saturday, the Bills faced the last place team(Fordham)…clearly the Bills came out right in tune (which is more than I can say for the group of men singing the National Anthem)…they looked like …and played like… the better team. SLU took charge early by going inside to the post, using a 1-3-1 zone again and being more athletic ….they’ve won 5 of the last 6…and the loss was a 1 pt OT loss to VCU… Bills are 6-5 in the A-10 with one cupcake (LaSalle)  remaining on the schedule and with all of the other remaining games seeming  like winnable games….no I’m not projecting ALL wins…. but we could have an NIT team here… a 17-18 win season looks seems very plausible to me.

As spring training begins…. concerns about the Cardinals starting rotation still remain… Here’s a detailed look at the prospective starting rotation

…Carlos Martinez….unquestionable considered the ace of the staff…looking at 2017.. 12-11, 3.64, 20 of his 32 starts were considered “quality” starts…a stat devised by the agents to make their starts appear to be better than one might consider…..3 or less runs in 6 innings…Carlos was removed immediately after 6 innings or during the 6th inning in 19 of this 32 starts…his only start less than 5 innings was his last start.. Carlos was removed right after the 5th inning or in the 5th inning on 7 occasions….on these 5-inn outings his pitch count 100, 101, 102, 80, 101, 80, 118, 89 but the Cards were losing so he was removed. He had 3 complete games….high for 2017 standards and two 8 inning games.  Carlos had a good opening day outing against Cubs but the rest of April was rather weak….he’s  a better pitcher statistically than I had thought in the past. I would keep trying to push him upwards in his pitch count..he’s 26 years old…in the absolute prime of his career…..l’d shoot for 7 & 8 innings as often as possible for two reasons…he is your BEST….why not have your best pitcher on the mound instead of your 2nd/3rd or 4th best relief hurler?  Leave him in longer..let him “work his way out” of jams. He averages 15.3 pitches per inning….get that extra out of your BEST.

…Michael Wacha’s norm was 5-6 innings …he went longer than 6 innings only 3x…he was removed in less than 5 innings  EIGHT times….he requires more rest between starts….he went 6 innings in his first 4 appearances of April 2017….than he went 6 innings only FIVE other times throughout the May, June, July and August!!…It’s clear that he lost some stuff as the season unfolded.  His 4.1 ERA is deceiving… Wacha threw a 9 inning shutout….if you remove that one outing, his ERA is 4.73..so what we saw routinely was a pitcher giving up 2 or 3 runs in 5 innings and then he was gone…draining the bullpen for 4 innings in the vast majority of his outings…..btw…his 9 inning shutout came after a 11 day break  (All-Star) …so his arm was fresh….why not…either….give him  5+ days of rest every start OR…use him as your bridge man….come in relief every 2-3 days for 2-3 innings….that would take off some of the pressure…and innings …from the bullpen

…Adam Wainwright..clearly in the twilight of his career…..seems to have a terrific personality and work ethic but….he is 36 years old….last year’s win total of 12 is VERY misleading…his ERA ballooned to 5.11, he game up 140 hits in 123 innings, he had 2 really good outing in May and 2 good ones in June.. but he made it past 6  full innings just 4x…was removed from the game in less than 5 innings 6x….so …generally he’s a 5 inning (6x) or 6 inning (5x) pitcher. If he was the ONLY pitcher on the staff holding  such a short outing expectations…it might be OK….but he isn’t… much of what I said about Wacha applies to Wainwright..more rest, consider long relief….he’s not a strong, reliable starter any longer. If…..if the Cards do have Wacha & Wainwright in starting rotation…I would have one of them before Martinez and one after Martinez (who should be going deeper in games)

..Luke Weaver….his 2017 stats startled me at 1st glance….7-2, 3.88 era, sparkling 72 strikeouts to 17 walks, batting average against him just .254, he’s only 24 years old….his 2017 numbers were far better than in 2016….so those are all GOOD signs….let’s hope that he keeps improving…and the Cards will require that of him with the 2-W’s going about 5 innings each of their starts…his 1st start of the season for the Cards was July 27..3 of his 4 starts in August were good, his first 4 starts in September were also strong but in the last 2 starts he performed poorly….was he worn out?  Word got around on him? More tape on him? Maybe it was because the competition was 2 strong teams (Cubs & Brewers)…at any rate…that’s a bit worrisome to me..but not a huge negative when you consider his significant step upwards from 2016 to 2017….he looked bigger, stronger and a better fast ball…he did go from 1 win to 7 wins….let’s hope…anticipate… a full season will bring 12-15 wins.

..Miles Mikolas…who knows?   His 1st stint in MLB was good enough to earn him a trip to Japan to play ball…I’m assuming …since he did lots of relief work in his career…that he’ll be another 5-6 inning  pitcher at best.

…Jack Flaherty….I’m not nearly as high on this “prospect” as the Cards….he seemed to get through the batting order once and then the bats began booming against him….in 5 starts his stats don’t dazzle you… 0-2, 21 inn, 23 hits,  ERA-6.33, whip 1.5

…Alex Reyes…coming up by Mid-May….this could be the game changer…I’m hoping that the Cards will consider my 6 man rotation …especially for him….I think that he’ll be the #2 man in the rotation if given the proper rest between starts.

….pitcher ???…..he’ll come to the Cards in June sometime to bolster the starting rotation…maybe through a trade or maybe another “prospect”

What’s going on in the MLB Free Agent market these days?

….I’m thinking that once the two top players sign … Yu Darvish (Pitcher) &  JD Martinez (OF) sign …at top-dollar prices…resulting in the rising value of ALL of the other free agents sign…we’ll see more action…the other top starting pitchers include Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb.  Dropping significantly in the field players level after Martinez is the level of Eric Hosmer, & Mike Moustakas. I think a couple of the teams that have improved themselves are…

…LA Angels….they signed the TOP free agent….at least according to the experts… Shohei Ohtani (23 ). Ohtani is a pitcher/player and only 23 years of age….the Halos also signed a SS –Zach Cosart. Cosart has been a Cincy Red for 6 years…a regular for 5 years…he’ll probably move to 3B with the Angels . So LAA will have a much sharper fielding infield of Cosart, Andrelton Simmons-SS, IanKinsler (just obtained from Detroit) & CJ Cron @ 1B…Albert will be DH extradonair.

….Milwaukee has been active this winter…they’ve changed the composition of the OF with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain joining them….that frees up Steve Braun…haven’t they been trying to dump him for 3 years now?…also available now is OF Domingo Santana ….30 dingers last year…but he can’t catch a cold running around nude in Minnesota these days….looks like he’s headed to the AL as a DH for a starting pitcher…Corey Knebel was outstanding as closer last year…Brewers anticipate that he’ll repeat….I’m not so sure…..LHP Josh Hader is a terrific talent who’s been brought along slowly last year as a middle reliever with limited innings…he’s only 23 years old, struck out 68 in 47 innings, ERA of 2.08 and WHIP of 0.99….HE could be the next major move…as he goes from pen into starting rotation

…Rockies went “all in” for bullpen help…..the resigning of Jake McGee with the addition of Wade Davis, and Bryan Shaw …that means that any of these guys could close in a night…a bit of extra rest should be available since there are 3 of them now in the same bullpen and that should extend their effectiveness deeper into the season.

…Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood to replace Lackey in rotation….His  stats don’t look like much…..

8-15, 4.69 era, 147 inn, 136 hits, bat avg against him .250, 120 strikouts, 77 walks but consider he was on the Rockies…half of his game at Coors field….note the difference…

@ Coors Field—   3-8,   6.01 era, 70 inn, 81 hits,    58 K’s, 37 walks

Away from Coors 5-7,   2.40 era, 75 inn, 55 hits,    62 k’s, 39 walks

I think that the Cubs hit .500 in the bullpen with their signings…Steve Chishek should be very helpful while I feel like the 33 year old Brandon Morrow’s arm will fall off about June after all of those post-season  appearances last year….he pitched in 14 of the Dodgers 15 post-season games….ouch!

….Phillies….yes…the doormat Phillies …made some moves that may give them a push upward…the Phils aren’t going to the Series …or even the playoffs …but they should improve substantially over last year’s 66 wins….they signed veteran 1B Carlos Santana…so they’ll have their hot-hitting rookie from last year Rhys Hoskins (OPS 1.014 in 170 AB) in left field. They supplemented their bullpen by the addition of Tommy Hunter (a 2-3  inning guy ) and Pat Neshek (closer)….the young, strong-armed starting staff of  Aaron Nola (3.54 era, 184 strikeouts in 168 inng0 with 17 of 27 starts being deemed ‘quality starts”.  After Nola  the numbers of these young pitchers aren’t as strong…Jared Eickhoff, Vince Valasquez, Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta. Don’t be surprised if a Free agent starter signs with the Phils.

Outside the baseball world…some incredible off the field/court happenings…

…..ya think Arkansas got left holding the bag?….unable to even wait until he made it off the field, Ark Football coach was fired while walking off after losing to Mizzou…..well…..according to his contract … he’s also walking off a $11.9m buyout…he’ll be paid through Dec 31, 2020 unless he accepts another job..those earnings would offset the buyout…if he doesn’t …it’s $322,567 per month…man…where do I get that kind of job? 

….how ironical…..pot calling the kettle black….John Calipari was heard whining recently when he acknowledged that Coach K is having a banner signing season….Duke has commitments for the #1, #2, #3 and #10 top rated High school players in America!  Coach Cal mocked Coack K’s pitch of, “when you come to Duke, the university and state will take care of you for the rest of your life….Coach Calicheat…oops…Cal…said that if you buy that pitch…he has” some swamp land in Florida that he could sell you, too”…I really feel for Coach Cal’s plight….yea…right.

…on the HS basketball scene..

….The #2 ranked small school Boys basketball team, Alton-Marquette, has quietly pushed their record to 24-0 after their closest win of the season…a 50-48 win over McCluer North. Leading scorer, Isaiah Ervin scored 31 points, including five 3-point baskets as the Explorers came from behind to beat the North Stars. For Head Coach Steve Medford and his team, it was only the 2nd close game of the year. Back on Dec 1, Marquette beat Nokomis 39-36. The Explorers  have won 6 games by more than 40 points, 2 games between 30-39 point margins and 5 games by 20-29 points range! They have 4 more regular season games prior to regional action.  

….on the Girls Side of the court…O’Fallon HS holds a 22-3 record under 1st year Coach Nick Knolhoff. The 23-3 Panthers have won the Mascoutah and Highland Tournaments.   Sr. Sydney Thurwalker leads this balanced scoring team with a 12.2 average. Also in double figures is Sr. Izzy Akoro..right at 10.0 The Panthers are looking to avenge an earlier season loss in their rematch with Edwardsville on Tuesday night.

HOF — In, Out, Changes by Bob Ryan

So last week, the Baseball  Hall of Fame in Cooperstown voted in 4 new members. Without question all of the foursome are well qualified– Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman .. It’s only the 2nd time since 1955 that a foursome are entering the HOF. Each one had his own case…take a look  at some of these stats on these players that we all recall watching….

Chipper….drafted in 1st round by the Atlanta Braves in 1990….played ENTIRE career for the Braves … you won’t  see that much any longer….played in 21 different post-season series….so we all saw a lot of him on the tube…voted into HOF on 1st year of eligibility…in 8 All-Star games…became a regular at age 23…played until he was 40 years old.. batted a career …19 seasons….OPS of .930 batting avg .303 with 468 dingers…didn’t realize that he piled up 150 stolen bases…will be remembered for his all-around skill as a hitter & fielder

Jim Thome…an ol’ fashioned power hitter…also his 1st year on the HOF ballot..banged out 612 HR in 2543 games…that’s  8th on the MLB HR list… he’s between Albert & Sammy Sosa….also it’s a HR every 4.1 games!!  Thome played in 17 post-season series with most of his best years @ Cleveland. His 22 year  career OPS was .956…18th in MLB history!

Vlad….I really enjoyed watching him hit….great bat speed…swing at almost anything between the ankles and throat…but hit he did..he played 16 seasons…first 9 years with Montreal..lifetime average of .318…only hit below .300 three time…his 1st year, last year & 1 other year…OPS of .931…34th all time MLB history…was the AL MVP once…didn’t reach the world series until he was 35 years old with Texas…I didn’t even remember him playing for Texas.

Hoffman….probably 1st of several closers of the “modern” (after 1990)…was voted into the HOF in his 3rd year of eligibility… currently 2nd all time in Saves …behind Mariano Rivera…with 601 saves…spent most of career with San Diego…his best pitch…at least in part of his career was his change-up….his fastball topped out at his peak around 86-87 mph..so his pinpoint use of his sharp slider …around 81mph and his changeup piled up  his outs in the 9th inning….his career ERA was 2.87 in 1035 games.

No arguments on any of these four players….but there are other ideas swirling around HOF selections.. 

….Stars of years ago “stood out” as they do now…the first 5 players—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson were clearly recognized during their careers as the “best” in the league….and DO belong in the HOF

…but….as the years went by…..the HOF attempted to “catch up” on HOF worthy players who had been overlooked…so the Veterans Committee was formed…THEY chose players that they felt belonged  in the HOF and had been overlooked…there were definitely some….but …..some others inducted through this process were not of the same ilk..couple examples…catcher Ray Schaulk played 18 seasons …career batting .253…played with Shoeless Joe Jackson on the Chicago “Black” sox scandal of 1919…another is Harry Hooper played 1909-1925…primarily on the Red Sox..played 17 years while batting .281….there are a few others…..in the modern era Pee Wee Reese and Catfish Jim Hunter appear to be in deeper waters than they belong….so……what happens once a guy gets in who doesn’t belong….nothing….he’s in..there is a list of 20 or so players who some experts believe don’t belong in the baseball HOF…suggestions…

….let the veterans committee…of which Bob Broeg …long time sports editor of the StL Post-dispatch was a key member….btw…he pushed in some former Cardinals ..Chick Hafey,  Frankie Frisch, Pud Galvin, Orlando Cepada, Roger Bresnahan, Jake Beckley  who were…no doubt… good players…but …HOF level?? …returning to the point…the veterans committee should meet once every 5 years not every year..the new  players chosen should not be recognized as players at the bottom of the HOF totem pole but ones who…for some reason…are CLEAR HOF’ers and belong in the HOF.

…possibly set of number of players as the maximum for the HOF ….there are currently 319 people in the baseball HOF…222 former major league players, 30 executives, 35 Negro league, 22 mgr/umpires…put the non-playing HOF’ers in their own section…the Negro League has probably maxed out on its stars since that league disappeared and those players justifiably became part of the MLB…..umpires/manages don’t compete on the field…put them in their own sections… maybe a max of 250 or 300 players in the elite HOF….as the number  of players pushes past that point..put the lowest ranked  of the list of players in the historical HOF..probably most coming from the Veteran’s committee choices….don’t allow an unlimited number to fill up the baseball elite HOF.

….It is extremely difficult to compare players from different eras….in fact…I don’t think that you can do it fairly….look at some of the changes  from 50-60-90 years ago …HOF opened up in 1939 @ Cooperstown NY….it wasn’t opened or owned then …or now…by the MLB…it was opened by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel, with the  purposes of stimulating his tourism business in this small…out of the way…NY town.

…..along those lines….you MUST compare the players to the era that they are playing..not the past. Expectations of behavior on and off the field  are always changing….PED use vs gambling?….spitballs were allowed at one time…not now….stealing signs was viewed as a skill…not illegal…at one point..beanballs are forbidden now….at one time, they was used to send a message…the game changes….judge the players on the current mores of the time….not to the standards of 50+ years ago.

…another area to consider is that the game has changed….it’s not like it was in 1919 …or 1939…or during the war years…or even the 1960’s…..look at some of the changes…

….medically….these players have treatments now that weren’t even considered  earlier….these players play longer, through injuries that once ended their careers, recover quickly …all due to modern medicine….the ol’ timers era just didn’t have that available to them..by playing longer, many players are able to pile up far higher career stats that boost their attractiveness to Cooperstown

…ballparks have increased in size minimally but the size…height, weight, muscle mass…. of the players has really  grown…ergo…many, many more home runs

…development of the youthful players has taken on a much more rigorous routine….coaching is now vastly improved for the youth….for many talented youngsters it’s a 12 month a year commitment and a commitment of significant money to fund the camps, traveling  teams, etc, etc….btw….you wonder why we’re seeing so few African-Americans in baseball….the honing and development of the elite level baseball skills is now done primarily through expensive traveling teams….the poor families can’t afford it…. Soooo…. their sons are not exposed the intense, rigorous, extensive skills developed through the traveling leagues….hence…development lags

……modern technology has assisted players in developing the correct angles of their swings to derive the most benefit from this “good” contact….players can go in the clubhouse between innings and check the pitcher  in slo-mo….not just with their eyes…to enhance their success

….expansion of the league…..for several decades there were 8 teams in each league–400 players in the MLB….now there are 30 teams…750 players……I’m making the supposition that the real star players “back in the day”  would be star players today….just think if there were half as many teams….how good would the starting rotations be as compared to today?That’s a big difference.. I’ve noticed for a few years now that many of the “good” hitters in the MLB are so-so against quality pitchers but pile up the numbers against the weaker pitchers…those bottom half of the pitching staffs  would NOT even have been in the MLB with only 16 teams…

….Hall of Fames are interesting to the exuberant  fans….and the casual fans… of the game….it brings back memories…. or maybe… sheds new light … on the best players of all the eras of that particular sport.  Speaking from personal experience….I’ve really enjoyed the Baseball HOF…my wonderful wife sat as I read each and every plaque …  & Football HOF ..lots of hands-on stuff….but hockey HOF in Toronto was a dud..it was in a high story building …located on 1st..maybe 2nd floor…my kids were really disappointed because I knew more of the ol’ time HOF than they did.

Some other thoughts…info….about HOF….

….when I read that Chipper Jones was only the second player inducted into the HOF who was the #1 overall pick of the draft…the other was Ken Griffey JR what about othe.#1 overall picks…from the past of a few decades ago….the #1 picks that made the MLB  and their accomplishments…1965 Rick Monday(All Star); 1969 Jeff Burroughs; 1976 Floyd Bannister (All Star), 1977 Harold Baines (All Star); 1978 Bob Horner (All Star & Rookie of year); 1980 Daryl Strawberry (All Star & ROY);’1981 Mike Moore (All Star); 1982 Sharon Dunston (All Star); 1985 BJ Surhoff (All Star); 1988 Andy Benes (All Star)’ 1992 Phil Nevin (All Star); 1993 Alex Rodriguez (All Star + very good); 1995 Darin Erstad (All Star)…that means since between 1965-2000…the players drafter #1 OVERALL from 1966, 1967, 1968, 19780 1971, 1972 1973, 1974, 1975 , 1979, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, `989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 either didn’t make the majors or didn’t ever qualify for 1 All Star game…that’s with the #1 OVERALL pick!!!  How could the teams be THAT wrong? Since 1999…drafting has improved….some of the #1 drafted are 99-Josh Hamilton; 2000 Adrian Gonzalez; 2001 Joe Maurer;2005 Justin Upton; 2007 David Price, 2009 Stephen Strasburg; 2010 Bryce Harper; 2011 Gerrit Cole; 2012 Carlos Correa—sooo…it appears that MLB has started to figure out better way sto draft #1 overall picks…

….some of the best players not in the HOF and NOT on the ballot may surprise you…

…Gil Hodges ….1B of the Brooklyn Dodgers through their great days of the 50’s—played 18 years, was an All-Star 7 of 8 years in the midst of his career….273 hitter with 370 HR…lifetime OPS of .846..played in 7 world Series in his career,,,sharp fielder  at 1B

…Tony Oliva …played entire career in Minnestota…during the 2nd dead ball ear (early 70’s)…led the AL in batting title 3x, led AL in hits-5X, led AL in 2B-4x, career .304 hitter in 15 years…hurt badly by playing entire career in Minnesota…small market, little national recognition

….Lee Smith…pitched 18 years…remembered most for his first 8 years with Cubs…had  478 saves…was the All-Time Leader in Saves  from 1993-20006 when passed by now HOF Trevor Hoffman…lifetime ERA…18 seasons…3.03….did not just pitch the 9th inning…for example with the Cards…90-93…the lean years before AB sold the Cards…90—53 games-63 inn; 1991- the most saves of his career-47—67 games -73 innings. He led the league I 4 different years from 83 to 94! He’s been on the ballot since 2003…highest total was 50.4% and in 2017 dropped to 34%….was he much different than Hoffman?

…there are more…Billy Wagner a contemporary of Hoffman….seems to be on this way out…it’s believed however that hitters thought Wagner was better than Hoffman …that Wagner was tougher to hit!!??

Now…some quick hitters …

….What’s in the water in Columbia…over the last 2-3 years the Head Football Coach, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, the Head Baseball Coach and now this week the Head Softball Coach have all changed…some resign… some fired…has the SEC “brand” done this?

…Brewers look like they are “all in” with the acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain.  The perennial question….Do they have enough Pitching?

….SLU & Mizzou are each experiencing similar issues on the basketball court…depleted rosters… lack of a consistent “go to” guy, head coaches of each team are brand new (1st year) or relatively new (2nd); fan bases had high hopes in pre-season which have been dashed by a myriad of circumstances.

….looking at 2 of the top HS teams in the Lou…the Hazelwood Central Hawks are 20-1…only loss to an OOT …and out-of-state team..1st year coach Brandon Gilmore…who was the top assistant to 12 year Head Coach Josh Martin..has led them to tournament Championships @ Vianney,  Meramec-Coaches vs Cancer and Parkway West tournaments…this type of winning isn’t anything new @ Central…their teams have won 74 games over the last 3 years, the Hawks are led by the 4-some of Shaun Williams, Cameron Williams, Xavier Ball and Telly Wright.  Central has 11 seniors on the team….so ….this could be the year that they reach Columbia.

….coming on strong as the season unfolds are the Chaminade Red Devils (15-2)coched by Frank Bennett…last week Chaminade knocked off Whitney Young (Chicago)..ranked in top 25 by USA pre-season poll…a school that has 3 NBA players of recent history..(David Lee ..who just retired after 12 NBA years)…Bradly Beal (just earned his 1st All-Star berth in NBA)…and Jayson Tatum…do I need to say anything about him?…now Chaminade has another super talent that’s headed to N.Carolina State—Jericole Hellems.  Hellems is 6-7, carries 23ppg avg, rebounds aggressively, run the floor well….but he’s not alone…6-6 Soph  Luke Kasubke is the long-range bomber…he’s downing 3-balls at at 44% clip….his high level of skill…brings back memories for me of his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) who was one of the best women HS basketball players that I coached in my coaching career.  

…not much to lose….Phillies signed Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract…IF….and that’s a big if…he refinds his “stuff”and makes the Phils…they get a seasoned bullpen guy of $2.5m….he was horrible last year..7.82 ERA ….soooo.. it’s a gamble…but what do they have to lose?

….How does Lovie Smith keep getting a pass?  He was “on top” of his game with the design and use of the “cover 2” defense….but …over the years …teams have adapted….has he?  One WOULD have to say that he’s looking ahead by hiring the Trinity HS football Coach, Corey Patterson,  as an assistant… Trinity seems to be loaded with talent in the upcoming years….so…you see the landscape…former HS coach…needs players @ collegiate level…yada-yada-yada

…How can you bet against the Patriots?  For a long time I called him Bill Belicheat..but….I’ve got to give it to him….he finds a way to win….year after year with an ever changing cast of characters… except at QB…hw wins…..although he  did win when Brady was hurt a few years ago.

..the Atlantic 10 basketball conference has seen minimal success in NCAA Tournament…since their formation…only 5 teams have reached the Sweet 16 of the tournament…LaSalle-2016; George Mason-2006—actually made final 4!!; Duquesne-2014; Rhode Island-1998…so…Bills keep plugging away.. you can make some headway in this league.

…in the NHL…it’s amazing…the expansion team—Las Vegas Golden Knights are STILL in 1st place in the Eastern Conference…and are 2nd in the entire league in wins with 32….wonder if some of other NHL teams are.. “reevaluating the situation”… about their assessment of personnel ?

…..you earned HOF credentials for making it to the bottom…thx…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Closed Doors by Bob Ryan

Behind closed doors…insiders share info with their REAL feelings and speculations on why actions/moves have taken place in the sports world.. .. is usually done without any PC talk… talking behind closed doors it was heard that…..

…behind closed doors the talk was about the Cards pushing their win total upwards ….there are a couple ways that the Cardinals can move their win total upwards ….1st…clearly the most fun for fans… is to improve the team..fill it with sluggers, starters, decent set-up corp, a lock up closer and defense or… the other option is for the other divisional teams hold “fire” sales to begin the slow, arduous process of rebuilding…. Code word for ….we’re losing  badly for the next few years with the hopes that we’ll be a contender in 4-8 years….that’s a looonnngg slow trip…take for example the Cincy Reds…they’ve been won 2 divisional titles since 2000 in their “rebuild”…well….now Pittsburgh has now bought a ticket for this ride to the bottom… this will clearly enhance the Cards win total dramatically…the Cards win total should push upward 3 or 4 additional wins due to the ineptness of the Pirates…of course some may argue that the Pirates have ALREADY started this titanic-like trip to the bottom…Pitt won 98 in 2015; 78 in 2016 and only 75 wins in 2017.

….talk behind closed doors turned to the Cards trading Grichuk for a set-up man, Dominic Leone and a “prospect”….Grichuk was squeezed out here in the Lou….Ozuna WILL play every day.. Pham hopes to play every day and Fowler likes to play every day for about a month…then he gets some type of pain that doesn’t require DL but does require him missing games…more on him later…Leone had a “break out” year last year….65 appearances; 70.1 inn, 2.56, just 51 hits permitted.. Cards like those numbers they DO look good…only concern for me…this is his 4th organization that he’s been in since signing professionally in 2012….seems like a lot of changes for a quality player…let’s hope it’s the “right time” for the 28 year old to be at the top of his career…back to Fowler…he played in 118 games last year and 125 in 2016….I believe only once on DL… he seems to have many “small ailments” that require 3-5 days off…watch for that this year!! Btw…I didn’t see or hear about Fowler at the winter warm up this year ?? What does that show the Cards? 

….talk behind closed doors went back to the Pirates….. when   Pitt sent RHP Gerritt Cole….arguably their ace starter …to the Houston Astros for 4 “prospects”… RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP  Michael Felix, 3B Colin Moran and OF  Jason Martin…Musgrove is expected to move into the Pirates rotation…he started 15 games last year with a 4.77 ERA. Moran is a 25 year old .290 hitter in minor leagues but claims to have “adjusted” his swing. Feliz is a hard-firing pitcher with control issues…. Martin hit .278 last year in Class A… that doesn’t sound a dynamic foursome, does it?a day or so later…the Pirates also traded the long-time face of the franchise—Andrew McCutheon …and his salary($14.75m)… to San Francisco…while McCutcheon isn’t at the apex of his career any longer…he’s still an improvement for the Giants in the OF. In return, the Pirates acquired Kyle Crick who appears to be headed towards being the Pirates set-up man…and prospect Bryan Reynolds AND $500,000 of  international signing bonus money…

 ….why now?….well…the Pirates came to the conclusion that this set of players had missed their time table for the post-season play over the last 3 years AND the Pirates had manipulated their very tight budget of $90m to its max…with these moves…and now more expected…the Pirates budget would be in neighborhood of $82 for next year….. btw…the Cards 2018 budget is $139m…in mathematical words…that means Pittsburgh is spending 59% of the Cardinals….gee….I wonder which team has a better chance of winning…2nd btw….Cards are still on the hook for $17m for Mike Leake …that would be 20% of Pirates overall salary structure!! ….ugh

….”Is Pittsburgh done dumping?” ….Of course not!…the Pirates want to dump multi-talented Josh Harrison …teams want these type of players who can fill multiple positions…cuts down on the number of bench players required…one who  hits  fairly well and is a high-energy player….Harrison carries a $10.25m price tag…most contending teams just have to find the “right price” for Harrison to get a deal done. Another possibility is middle-man Daniel Hudson…proven…not spectacularly. But generally OK as a 6th/7th inning man…by May….. many teams will be looking towards him & his $6m  salary..

…..”is this all the Cards want to do”was heard behind closed doors …..certainly!….when Bill DeWitt & MO both use the expression, “opportunistic”…that’s nice verbiage for…if another team decides  to dump their stars…or former stars with good years still remaining….at a discount….we’ll pick off the low hanging fruit as an “opportunity”

..talk behind closed doors went to New England, Tom Brady & Bill Belichick.  Jacksonville was really controlling  the game throughout the 1st half…they had the chance to really take a dominating lead late in the 1st half…the Jags had a 3rd & 7…called a time out…then ….inexplicably…were  called for a delay of game penalty…NEVER….NEVER… should that happen… a time out then a delay game…it became 3rd & 12….Jags punted….and punted away all their momentum…from that point on it was all Brady, Belichichk and the Pats…going to their  10th Super Bowl…love em…hate em….they get it done

…. the talk behind closed doors of changing Matt Carpenter to the 3rd spot of the batting order….on one hand, for whatever reason …his career numbers point towards much more success hitting 1st in the order…on the other hand….if Fowler leads off, Pham #2, at #3 Carp takes a lot of pitches so Pham would have good opportunity to steal bases…maybe Carp would return to the line-drive hitter with men in scoring position and cut down on his prolific strikeout rate…his OB% last year of .384 was the 2nd best of his career in that category despite a woeful average .241…lowest of his career… maybe…. maybe… the Cards are trying to “restart” Carp while keeping same basic lineup….or maybe….and this is  my thought….when Fowler was “brought in” to be told he was no longer the CF for 2018…Fowler likely came back with the “I’ll still be leadoff man, right”…you aren’t taking that away too are you ….. compromise…he won’t last long as a regular leadoff man…I’m guessing June 15

…barely heard was the talk about Marcus Williams (New Orleans safety) who will always be remembered for the “missed tackle” that cost the Vikings a trip  to the Super Bowl..didn’t anyone tell him….let them catch it and then tackle them…duh….then game over and you win!

….hockey talk behind closed doors was heard from one corner as it was heard that Kevin Shattenkirk of the Rangers wasn’t living up to their expectations…43 games into the season…he has 1 point in the last 10 games and 3 points in the last 16 Ranger games….he’s a -14 for the season….good non-signing by the Blues!!  Shatty just went on the DL…funny how that happens in pro sports when a player isn’t performing..he goes on the DL.

….talk behind closed doors turned to JoJo White..everyone praising the former St. Louisan on his death…..JoJo had a tremendous Pro career…a few highlights…7x NBA All-Star, has his #10 retired by the Boston Celtics, 1976 NBA Finals MVP….but I knew of him long prior to the Kansas U & Boston Celtic days…my high school played the McKinley Goldbugs….JoJo was the star…as I watched him compete against our team….it seemed like JoJo was preparing for the NBA…he involved all his teammates until the 4th quarter…then he took over….and won the game…but sticking in my mind even more than that ..is the cheering of the McKinley cheerleaders….I mean who has a cheer with a players name in it?…well…McKinley HS did….it went something like this….it WAS a long time ago….so…this is my best  memory….”You  got spirit  …  you got pep…..but we… got …..Jo .. Jo”….and they were right. He was not only a legendary player but a legendary person.

….btw…JoJo’s #10 Celtic # is up in the Boston Gardens rafters along with players like  # 6 Bill  Russell  #14 Bob Cousy #15 Tom Heinsohn  #16 Satch Sanders   #17 John Havlichek  #18 Bill Cowens  #21 Bill Sharman  #23 Frank Ramsey #25 KC Jones  #32 Kevin McHale  and #33 Larry Bird…..obviously most of these retired numbers (there are a few more retired numbers) date back to the Celtic dominance of the 50’s & 60’s…they won 8 STRAIGHT NBA championships during that era.

….saw the SLU Billikens in person this week….it was an impressive 76-63 win over Duquesne(13-6)…the Bills played  transition ball in many parts of the game that seemed to “free up” some of the play of their better athletes…running all those set plays …at times…constricts the flow for these wonderful athletes… particularly for Jordan Goodwin….he had a triple double and clearly was the best player on the court.. AJ Foreman played the best game of his collegiate career…and a tip of the hat to Coach Travis Ford who used a 1-3-1 zone in the 1st half that seemed to befuddle the Dukes of Duquesne….I was really happy about the win until I scanned the “Dukes” schedule….the W-L record looked good but included on the schedule was a loss to SIU….an 11-9 team that the Billikens also beat…it seems like the Dukes have been “beating up” lots of cupcakes..meanwhile…intheir next game…the Bills go on the road for a convincing win over UMass…happy to see Jordan Goodwin played 37 minutes….let your best player on the court!

…talk .behind closed doors turned to a different type of SLU court issue… a SLU issue reached a different level with the suspension of 3 players  (18 months-2 years) and the expulsion of another….an expression of my mother-in-law about disputes between husbands & wives comes to mind…she says, “there’s her story… his story… and the truth someplace between”….in this SLU situation there are many involved…of course it pitted the men vs the women…how many different stories were there with 7 or 8 different individuals?….. WHO knows what really happened? …and probably….the truth is someplace in-between…. I do know that it took from September to mid-January  to reach a decision…. the longer this situation festered…. the worse SLU looked to the public..SLU will come out of this dispute with a black eye…now…..under the SLU regulations… a decision that took 5 months to reach may be appealed ….. According to the appeal procedure, the appeal decision will be made in 3 days… after a 5 month investigation how could it be reversed in 3 days?  I would think that the length of time that it took to reach a decision should match the length of time for the appeal….ugly mess

…..talk behind closed doors turned back to the Blues….to this date…. the number of “off” days between games…with back-back games (no rest in-between) Blues are 6-2-2; with 1 day rest 12-12; 2 days rest the Blues are 5-2-1; 3 days rest 2-2 and 5+ days of rest 3-0…the most striking feature to me is the number of times that the Blues have 0 or just 1 rest day between games…the Blues have played 33 of 48 games—68% of their games with this 0-1 day rest….boy…ya gotta be young…see last week’s blog…Blues have 9 players over 30 years of age

…talk behind closed doors turned to HS basketball….at 16-0 and barely known ….are the Hillsboro Hawks…the Hawks just climbed into the top 10 of StL’s Large school rankings at #9..competing in the Jefferson County Large School Division…Hillsboro was 25-4 last year, 21-7 in 2015-16.  8th year Head Coach Don Johnson took his team to the STATE sectionals last year before bowing to Sikeston. Sr Gaven Pinkley leads the team in scoring with a 18.9 mark. Pinkley had already piled up 1447 points and 771 rebounds PRIOR to his Senior Season. Pinkley has plenty of strong support with Seniors Isaiah Martin and Tyler Isaacson and Junior Michael Brewer. This week the Hawks compete in the tough  Parkway West tournament…. Soooo…. many folks will be watching the results.

….talk behind closed doors turned to announcers of the past….particularly Keith Jackson who died soon after the Rose Bowl that he attended @89 years of age …he was another icon in the broadcasting sports business…he’ll be missed…in my opinion…. maybe I’m just an old guy…but…many of these “newer…younger” sports pbp announcers seem to be too concerned about “them” being the show with their hip lingo, judgmental interpretations, smugness….give me the old time guys who set the table for the play then  tell you what happened in a clear, concise way….e.g .Keith Jackson.

…behind closed doors a debate sparked up….it was over the question …if you were Jalen Hurts (Bama starting QB all season…who was replaced in NCS championship game)…would you return to Alabama?   Easy….. vote Yes or NO….on the website below the article….or send your vote to me via email or facebook…..hope you all vote …you may or may not give a reason for your vote….only 1 vote per person…we aren’t in Chicago .

….the talk behind closed doors turned to the  Pittsburgh the Steeler fans  who are upset with Head Coach Mike Tomlin…according to “insiders” it  seemed that Tomlin looked right past the Jacksonville Jaguars …and focused on the NE Patriots…in fact….a couple other times in the season, Tomlin has made known his desire to beat the Pats and his players talked incessantly about it…it’s being called a “circus” in Pittsburgh…not what a football coach wants to hear…..and …of course….Jacksonville upended the Steelers last weekend in the playoff game……The Steelers have ALWAYS stayed with their head coaches a long time…and they have lots of talent….lots…it’s said that only 3 Pats would start for the Steelers….staggering thought—would Belichick EVER lose with the Steelers roster?…..but this type of disregard for quality opponents and then losing to them  doesn’t sit well…. Nor should it.

….the talk behind closed doors tuned to Cards TV…..I’m sure that the Cardinals took notice….the Cubs are considering beginning their OWN network..with Disney buying out Fox and the local Fox networks soon….  could a Cards network be far behind?

…the talk behind closed doors became quiet….it was time to leave….C U next week … Pls vote—

Yes…Soph Jalen Hurts IS leaving Alabama      NO—Soph Jalen Hurts is staying @ Alabama

 

Turning the Tide by Bob Ryan

Sure…it’s a week ago…but it’s still the talk….just how did Alabama rally to beat the #1seed-Georgia in the 2nd half. There isn’t any one play, strategy, or factor that changed the outcome by itself but there were a few combinations of factors that had some impact on the final Tide surge…..
….in the 1st half…the Bulldogs “had their way” totally…domination of the line….the Tide was back on their heels..the Bulldogs built together 2 long drives but came up with only 2 FG until the last second TD made it 13-0. .. it could have easily been..actually… maybe..should have been… 20-0 at half.
…in the 2nd half, the Tide made a key change…going to Frosh QB Tua Tagovailoa..some “experts” argue… was it panic or wisdom on Saban’s part….well…now question that TT (I’m not typing that long name every time ) has a stronger, more accurate arm that Hurts AND he did lead the team to victory but he clearly made some frosh blunders…e.g. the 2nd last play of the game …the long, long sack that TT didn’t throw away the ball…had Bama NOT won on the next play…that sack would have been pointed out as a horrible freshman blunder.
…TT gained the confidence of his teammates when he scrambled 27 yards…from that point on…it looked like a totally different Alabama team…so he deserves high praise for turning the Tide
….Georgia’s 1st half success was passing on early downs with long runs on 3rd/long situations by their two tremendous running backs.
….It seemed to me that the Bama “hurry up” offense employed in 2nd half tired out those huge Georgia defensive lineman…hence…TT had more time to throw the ball.
…While he was confident looking in the 1st half, Frosh Fromm (GA’s QB) looked tight in the 2nd half
…lets’ not forget that Mizzou lit up that Georgia secondary (253 yards, 4 TD’s) in their game…Bama was able to isolate their receivers better in the 2nd half against the Bulldog secondary….especially the last TD strike…there wasn’t another sole in sight as the winning catch was made over the cornerback.
….in the 2nd half, Bama loaded the defensive box on 1st down…yet Georgia kept trying to run on that down putting themselves in 2nd & long repeatedly….the Bulldogs were far too conservative in their play calling in the 2nd half…just as OU had done the week previously
….Georgia started playing the clock WAY TOO EARLY…keep moving the ball..keep the off rhythm
…how is it that Nick Saban….as great a evaluator as he is….can NEVER recruit a kicker….If Bama had lost I was afraid that there might be a lynching in Tuscaloosa.. you can imagine who’d be facing the wrath of the Tide fans….I can’t remember Bama EVER having a superb kicker…..usually it doesn’t matter when you outscore the opponents by 4-5 touchdowns every week though, does it
…all in all…. what a great Championship game… great plays, weird plays, momentum changing right before our eyes, superior athletes on both teams, great entertainment. Kudos to both teams and of course …special praise to Alabama for “Turning the Tide”

The tide has turned in other sports areas…
…has the tide turned in the Cardinals brass evaluations of starting pitching free agents? Now we hear Jake Arrieta is on the radar..why would the Cards look in that direction when they’ve bypassed Lance Lynn….who will be signed for far less that Arrieta..check their comparative numbers for last year
Age W-L ERA WHIP INN K probable “signing” area
Arrieta 31 14-10 3.57 1.218 168 163 4 years-$105m
Lynn 30 11-8 3.43 1.229 186 153 4 years-$70m
Now for their career averages
IP W-L ERA WHIP INN K
Arrieta 203 15-10 3.57 1.169 203 188
Lynn 193 14-9 3.38 1.288 193 182
Or….has this become a one-on-one matchup between the two General managers in a game of “gottcha”…which team signed the last player from the other team …it started with Lackey & Heyward…then Fowler…come on…if Lynn didn’t fit in..fine…but Arrieta isn’t the answer.
….the tide turned in Columbia, MO…on the basketball court…Coach Martin …realizing that his Frosh Center, Jerimiah Tillmon, was constantly getting into very early foul trouble and sitting on the bench for most of the game as a result….started Frosh JonTay Porter in the last game…and PORTER guarded the opposing center thus keeping Tillmon out of foul trouble. Bravo Coach!!
….It really didn’t turn the tide for anyone else but the team and the Coaching staff….but…Director of Athletics at Central Florida, Danny White, held a parade for his 13-0 team and rewarded the coaching with bonuses as IF they had won the national championship….it’s really amazing when you consider that the Head Coach AND the entire staff are moving to Nebraska for next season. White’s reasoning….if a team wins every game, they MUST be the national Champions. What else could they do?
…Mizzou basketball shows signs of improvement but the lack of a strong ballhandling guard really hurts them late in the games as the opposition increases the pressure and the Tigers can’t quite handle it… hopefully…they’ll turn the tide soon
…the Great Lakes Valley Conference Basketball conferences (Men & Women) have really turned the tide in their “conference rankings” for the season. It’s no longer ….just wins-losses… as commonly done. The new plan now uses a scale listed below that awards more points for road wins than home wins and more points for teams with better records than wins over those teams with lesser records…here’s the breakdown.
GLVC POINT RATING BREAKDOWN
POINTS SHALL BE AWARDED FOR EACH CONFERENCE CONTEST PLAYED:
7 POINTS – WIN OVER A .750 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
6.5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .750 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME
6 POINTS – WIN OVER A .500 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .500 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME
4.5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .250 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
4 POINTS – WIN OVER A .250 TEAM OR BETTER AT HOME
3.5 POINTS – WIN OVER AN UNDER .250 TEAM ON THE ROAD
3 POINTS – WIN OVER AN UNDER .250 TEAM AT HOME
2.5 POINTS – LOSS AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD TO A .750 OR BETTER TEAM
2 POINTS – LOSS TO A .500 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD
1 POINT – LOSS TO A .250 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD
.5 POINTS – LOSS TO AN UNDER .250 TEAM ON THE ROAD
0 POINTS – LOSS TO AN UNDER .250 TEAM AT HOME
….in the NCAA Mens Basketball National Rankings..the tide definitely has turned….the usual names found at the top aren’t there…none in the 5! The usual blue-bloods hanging out at the top of the poll have dropped… Duke is #9, Kansas #12, N. Carolina #20, Kentucky #21. Can you imagine?… a Missouri Valley Team…Wichita at #5 .. over these perianal powerhouses. That’s not to say that by the end of the season that we’ll see our “ol friends” in the thick of March Madness…btw…Villanova is #1 in both major polls.
…..I wish the tide would turn for the Blues…a scoring drought…especially on the power play makes each and every goal by the opponents magnified…..recently, I’ve noticed the opposition is getting clear open shots on our net…it’s 3 on 2 or 4 on 3…the Blues can’t guard them all….I can’t determine if our wingers can’t get back….or in too deep when they lose possession….or whatever…but these professional hockey players ARE going to score when there isn’t a defender in front of them. Somehow I’ve thought that the Blues were young….well…they have 9 players 30+ years old on their 21 man roster…that’s 42% of the roster….and how many are “stars”? here they are–Bouwmeester, Brodziak, Gunnarson, Hutton, Sobotka, Stastny, Steen, Thorburn and Upshaw…ur call…how many?
….I wish the Cards would turn the tide and try one of my suggestions….either go to a 6-ace rotation…i.e that is your ace goes every 5 games and everyone else 6 games….it’d look like this..
12345 16234 15623 14562 13456 ..repeat….12345 …give those starting pitchers more rest OR use one or two pitchers as “bridge” men…they come into relieve in the 6th inning with the expectations of pitching 2 or 3 innings…these bridge men could pitch with 2 or 3 days rest…again shorten the work and the depth…of the setup & closing part of the bullpen
…while we’re in the bullpen….is Yadi still here….ooops….NO-sorry, He’s catching today….. anyway….the “closer” tide has turned…it now appears that Luke Gregerson will be the closer at the start of the season for the Cardinals…he’ll be 34 years old in May…for most of his career he’s been a good…to very good…set up man…does that mean that he can’t close out games….NO…he did it in in 2015…31 saves for Houston..but then Houston pushed him back into a set-up man for their last 2 seasons?….last year, Gregerson struck out 70 while walking 20…good ratio….he also faced 263 batters in 61 innings….that’s only 4.3 batters/inning…that looks good too…..but for the 1st time in his career… his Hits/Inning exceeded 1.00…those marks looked like this–62 hits in 61 inn…this was a 1st in his career….also, Gregerson surrendered 13 HR in 61 IP…that also was the most that he’s allowed in his career….bit worrisome to me…I’m afraid that we’ve reacquired a pitcher that we traded away 8 years ago and now is approaching the twilight of his successful career. From my observations….older closers like this start the season fine but wear down my July-Aug days…let’s hope that isn’t the case here
….not having to turn the tide but just keep it rolling are the Parkway Central Colts Basketball Team… generally, under the radar somewhat in the StL HS Boys Basketball scene. Coach Ric Kirby’s teams play tenacious defense, smart but not flashy offense and make sure that their best players get the ball at key moments of the game. Kirby is a story in himself. He Coached Pk Central for 18 years the stepped away in 2005 with a 337-167 record, won 2 conference titles, 4 district championships and reached the final four 3 different years. He returned to the same head coaching position in 2012. Last year he took his Colts back to the Final Four @ Mizzou Arena. His leading scorer from last year DeAndre Campbell returns as a Senior and is scoring 26+ppg while the Colts are piling up another successful season @ 11-3. Congrats to Coach Kirby and his Pk Central Colts team for keeping the tide rolling.
….In the Nearly Forgotton League…the tied turned back and forth all weekend in games that really mean something…quick run-down…I actually enjoyed the games over the weekend
…New England dominated Tennessee….the impeccable game plan of B&B punched so many holes in the Titans defense that the game was never in doubt..
…Case Keenum is going to the Divisonal Championship…can you believe that?..He’s the 3rd string QB of the Vikings….who whatta believed that he’d connect on a long…albeit wobbly…pass down the sideline omn the last play of the game…the New Orleans defender only had to let the receiver catch the ball and tackle him…instead the defender puts his head down…I guess to deliver a “big blow”…he misses the man…and Stefon Diggs raced into the end Zone for the winning points as time expired…. needlessly…the referees cleared the field for a meaningless PAT..why? I know I can’t expect logic or reason from the Nearly forgotton League.
…Jacksonville jumped way ahead of Pittsburgh…it was 28-7 Jax in 2nd quarter…28-14 @ half…it was still 42-28 with 4+ min remaining in the game….the offenses were dominating in the 4th quarter when Pittsburgh scored @the 2:01 mark left in the game to cut the lead to 42-35.. Head Coach Mike Tomlin decided to go for an on-sides kick…it failed…Jax recovered the KO … had a short field and kicked a FG to make it 45-35….it wasn’t over…the Steelers scored again with just :01 left to close the gap to 45-42 but no one has ever onsides KO AND recovered it and ran it in for a TD….
….well the tide of this blog is turning….it’s finished!

 

Alexa … find me … by Bob Ryan

OK…I received a new toy…or program, for Christmas…ask Alexa….so I thought that I’d put it to work…here we go..

Bob…thx  Alexa……ya know I hear a lot about that WAR stat…find me what that means and who were in the top 10 of the MLB for 2017.

Alexa…OK…let me check….well I’ve found the definition of WAR…it says “Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic.. now…WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins, which means it is highly likely that Player X has been more valuable than Player Y….that’s your 1st answer….now let me find the top 10………there…I’ve found it…. the top 10 in the MLB in 2017..#1 was Jose Altuve-8.3; #2 Aaron Judge-8.1; #3 Giancarlo Stanton-7.6,#4 Joey Votto-7.5; #5 Nolan Arenado-7.2; #6-Andrelton Simmons (Angels SS)-7.1; #7Jose Ramirez (Clev OF)-6.9; #8 Mike Trout-6.7; #9 Mookie Betts-6.4  #10 Tommy Pham-6.4`

Bob….Alexa find me some concerns about the Mizzou 2017 football team

Alexa…OK…let me check…well I’ve found these worrisome stats about Mizzou 2017 football..in no particular order..Mizzou was a -8 in turnovers=worst in SEC; Mizzou committed 96 penalties this year=12th in USA..not Conference USA…the entire country; in Coach Barry Odums 2 years as Head Coach, he is 11-14 but only 2 wins were over teams that finished over .500; and I don’t know exactly what this means but in the 2 games that Coach Odum had the longest to prepare (MO State & Texas), Mizzou went out and played their two worst games.

Bob….Alexa find me the cost of the tickets if I wanted to attend the NCAA Football Championship game..

Alexa….I’m looking…..these prices are from the TicketCity Web site…..the lowest priced tickets are $1277…I imagine that you’re behind a pole  ….the highest listed are $12,605…per seat

Bob….Alexa find me the hottest scorer for the Blues in recent games…

Alexa….OK…I’m looking……….I’m still looking…………….I’m looking……………………I’m still looking

Bob…all right, all right….let’s go here……Alexa..find me… Mizzou’s best scorers this season?

Alexa….OK…I’m looking….the leading scorer is is SR Jordan Bartnett @ 15.9 ppg….Bartnett played 2 years @ Texas. Right now Bartnett is the best player on the team. Next in scoring is a 5th year SR transfer—Kassius Robertson 15.4ppg #2. Robertson is really “out of position”…he’s a shooting guard but being forced into playing point guard.

Bob….hey wait a minute…all I heard about in the off season was these new recruits…now I know the best one Michael Porter Jr has been injured…but Alexa find me these other hot recruits?

Alexa….OK….I’m looking…Frosh Jerimiah Tilmon is at 18.4min/gm & 9.0ppg….and Frosh….Jontay Porter does 22.7min/gm while scoring 8.3ppg. Two other Freshman recruits have left the team.

Bob….recently I was listening to a sports talk radio show…the guest was Marv Levi…most famous for losing 4 straight Super Bowls….not famous for MAKING 4 straight Super Bowls…no one else has EVER done that…. anyway…he was very enjoyable to listen to as he recalled many anecdotes in his career…despite being 90+ years old….it got me thinking…recently it seems to me that  Buffalo turns over coaches frequently…find me how many coaches that the Bills have they had since 2001

Alexa….I’m checking…whoa…. Bob….you’ve got  a handful….the Buffalo Bills have hired 9 different Head Coaches starting with the year 2001…that’s right 17 years—9 coaches….only 1 coach has been over .500…the current coach..Sean McDermott 9-7…and he made the playoffs….uh…Bob…it seems that many of these coaches had NO prior head coaching experience…what did they expect @ Buffalo?

Bob:  I can’t help myself Alexa…on Sunday I found myself watching the Jacksonville-Buffalo playoff game…..it reminded me of ol’ time football….not much offense (Jax won 10-3)….the Jags QB had more yardage running than passing so that says a lot right there…the Bills QB got injured on their final drive…which turned out to be futile…backup QB threw an INT….punters were played a bigger role than any running back in the game….Tony Romo….”expert” commentator…weaved back & forth between a skilled analyst reading the defenses and a fan….”ya gotta do this now….etc”  kind of refreshing.

Alexa….what do you want me to find? A Coach?  QB? Punter?  Announcer? What do you want?

Bob…hey, hey.. Alexa..I’m supposed to ask the questions…not you….anyway I’m curious….Mizzou has lost their Def & Off Coordinators that started the 2017 season….how does that impact their pay scale for assistant coaches….

Alexa…OK…I’m looking…..ur right Bob….DeMontie Cross (DC) had a $600,000 & Josh Heupel (OC) $700,000 contracts and now both are gone…..the Mizzou football coaching staff (not counting head coach)was the 20th highest paid football staff in the USA in 2017..with the two highest paid assistants now gone…it should drop some

Bob…soo…staying along that line…which team had the highest paid jobs for their assistant coaches

Alexa…..reeeally?   Come on Bob….of course it was Alabama followed by Clemson, Michigan, Florida and Auburn..btw Bob….the SEC had 10 of the top 20 spots in highest paid assistant football coaching staffs

Bob….Alexa let’s stay in the college mode….St Louis U won Saturday so they are now  1-2 in the A-10. Alexa find me the chances  of SLU popping into the top tier of that league…

Alexa…..OK…I’m checking…Well Bob…ur right, SLU is 1-2 but of the 14 conference teams…eight of them are 1-2 in conference …Duquesne & Rhode Island are 3-0, Va Tech 2-1…I don’t know if they can crack into the top 3 but clearly the league is very “even” below that top echelon….but…. But Bob…the Billikens are 0-4 on the road…they’ll have to win SOME games away from Chaivetz Arena in order to to make any mark at all.

Bob…..yea…yea…..but now…..Alexa find me the Cardinals rotation as of July 1, 2018?

Alexa….OK….I’m looking ….uh…Bob that isn’t available…all I can find is the starting rotation for the start of the year…it shows Carlos Martinez; Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Luke Weaver…. But Bob I do find a footnote that Anthony Reyes is available around May 1..

Bob…Alexa….I’m going to turn the tables…I’ll give YOU the starting rotation on July 19(1st game after all-star game—Martinez, Reyes, Weaver, Jack Flaherty & another pitcher not currently in their system or on their team—Wacha will be a “bridge man” –long reliever/spot starter; Wainwright will have arm issues of some sort; Mikolas will be in the pen…trying to keep his arm upright after being used…maybe abused…in 1st half appearances

Bob…Alexa….find me more about this Miles….what’s his name…  Mikolas?

Alexa…..OK…I’m looking….here…he’s 29 years old…he pitched in the majors for 3 years…2012, 2013, 2014. The first 2 seasons at San Diego, he worked as a reliever and the last season @ Texas as a starter. His lifetime MLB stats are 4-6, 5.32 era, .267 avg against him, whip 1.42…..but Bob….wait…I just found that he pitched the last 3 seasons in Japan…he was 31-13 there, 2.18 ERA in 62 starts (21 starts annually),WHIP .994, 378 strikeouts, 69 walks and 28 HR permitted in those 3 seasons.

Bob…Alexa…assuming everyone around here knows about these outstanding collegiate QB’s– Baker Mayfield (OU), Sam Darnold (USC), Drew Lock (Mizzou), Trace McSorley (Penn St)…find for me the “Other” best QB of 2017 that have been overlooked by many fans…

Alexa…OK…I’m looking….well Bob…popping up immediately is Lamar Jackson (Louisville)…he won the Heisman last year as a Soph in 2016  but had better numbers(better passing %, less INT, higher avg per run) this year…why the disappearing act…Louisville barely won their first 2 games then got crushed by Clemson, were upset by Boston College….the short of it…the team didn’t attract as much attention…thus Jackson “got lost” by national media…oh.. they won’t have to worry about his Senior  year…Jackson just declared for the draft

Bob….the Blues are struggling to score goals…find me some pertinent stats for December…too early in Jan to arrive at conclusions in 3 games….

Alexa…OK…..I’m looking…here are some stats for the month of Dec for the Blues…Blues were 7-9 for the month… Vladimir Tarasenko played in all 16 games, avg 20m/gm—scored 4 goals all month…he did have 64 shots on goal but only 6.3% were goals…Alexander Steen & Paul Stastny each scored 1 goal for the month…Steen was a -3 and Stastny was a -11 for December..Brayden Schenn was the offensive leader….he had 7 goals, 4 assists for the Blues last month. The Blues are 28th in the league in power play proficiency with 14.8%…the defense is still strong….4th in the NHL in goals permitted. Maybe  GM Armstrong can pull off another steal like he did with Schenn and add an offensive threat for the Blues.  It’s a weird schedule…the Blues have played 3 games against Calgary, Edmonton & Dallas and have yet to play San Jose, Washington & Boston..

Bob…Alexa…. find for me Carson Kelly’s future?

Alexa…I’m looking….well..my reports say that he just about “ready” for the MLB but Yadi’s extension now takes him through 2020….so…..my reports seem muddled….he can’t sit there for 3 more years….it looks like he’ll try camping out in the bullpen like Yadi taught him to do when you don’t like what’s going on…..and…it’s becoming clearer now….looks like he’s not going to be a Cardinal much past this year…if he makes it that long

Bob….Alexa…find me the top NL rookies for 2018 according to MLB.com

Alexa…OK….I’m checking….Bob they are listed in this order… Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves’ No. 1 prospect; Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers’ No. 1 prospect; Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect; Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals’ No. 3 prospect; Victor Robles, OF, Nationals’ No. 1 prospect

Bob…..let’s get off the Cardinals….Alexa…find me which MLB  had the best off-season thus far?

Alexa…OK…I’m checking…..well, Bob …it’s the LA Angels…they have been rated with an “A” for their off season moves..they resigned Justin Upton…so they’ll have him for the full year, acquired a new ..if not young…middle Infield in Ian Kinsler & Zach Cosart, signed an exciting talent in Shohei Ohtani…but Bob….I don’t see much for their woeful bullpen

Bob…don’t worry Alexa…they’ll pick them up when they start to win…but…I’m wondering why did the Cards give up Mag Sierra in the Ozuna trade?  Would you find that out?

Alexa….sure Bob….I’m checking….oh here it is….apparently the Cards didn’t feel that he’d hit enough to carry a starting position

Bob…but Alexa …he hit .317 in 22 Cardinal games in 2017….

Alexa….easy Bob….I’m just following the data…he is projected by three different baseball sites to hit between .250 & .258… in 2018….but…wait a minute…surprisingly to me Bob…they only project 3-11 stolen bases for the year …. Mags has the wheels and should steal more than 4 bases but CAN he put the ball in play….Cards didn’t think so!

Bob……forget about him Alexa…he’s been exiled to Miami…where players go to fade into anonymity while catting around late in night clubs …Alexa lets go back to college football…find me which team did the best in the early signing period..which is going to be called the Blue Chip signing period… at some point…all the others….the white chippers will be signing in the following February

Alexa….OK..I’m checking with different sources…..the top schools are ranked a bit differently in each one….so….here they are without any specific rankings….Georgia, Texas, Miami, Penn State, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and of course, Alabama…

Bob….yesterday, the KC Chiefs lost another round game….it seems like that is always happening to Coach Andy Reid…so Alexa…find me data of the coaching Career of Andy Reid

Alexa….OK…I’m checking…Andy Reid has been a head NFL coach 19 years (14 @ Philly, 5 @KC)….before moving to the pros in 1992, he was an Assistant Coach for Mizzou under head Coach Bob Stull (89-91)…the Tigers went 2-9, 4-7, 3-7-1 during that time.  Reid has only had 3 losing seasons in 19 years…and one was his 1st year..has made the playoffs 3 consecutive years but has been knocked out in the 1st round each of the last 2 years…his lifetime regular season record in NFL as a HEAD Coach is 183-121-1 in regular season…in the playoffs (13 of his 19 years)…he’s 11-13..so for his career he’s 194-134-1-.593….that puts him as the 9th most winningest coach in NFL history…btw… as a point of interest…the top 5 NFL coaches in the win category are: #1 in NFL wins is Don Shula 347-173-6 – .665; #2 George Halas 324-151-31-.671 ; #3 Bill Belichick  276-128-.683; #4 Tom Landry  270-178-6-.601; #5 Curly Lambeau  229-134-22-.623…so Bob….Reid is “up there” in the rarified air of NFL coaches. But…Bob….keep in mind that the NFL seasons, post-seasons were much, much shorter through until the mid-60’s.

Bob….thx  Alexa…well…..I’m worn out…asking all these questions is “tough”on me …. Alexa…find me an ending…

Alexa…..Thanks for reading….goodbye! Print your responses right here on the Prepcasts site below article….or…if you prefer…email them to Bob and he’ll print them with your initials….no one is right …or wrong…it’s YOUR opinion.

 

Holidays = Bowl Games Galore by Bob Ryan

The week between Christmas & New Years is filled with a heavy dose of college bowl games…some very, very good and some being used only as a noise background at holiday parties. Also this week are huge, traditional Holiday Basketball Tournaments on the High School level in the Lou. I didn’t watch all of the bowl games …I do have a life…..and in very few of them did I watch the entire game….but…some thoughts…

…starting of course with the Texas Bowl….Mizzou’s 33-16 loss was disappointing….the first 5ish minutes of the game was brutal for the Tigers…penalties, turnovers…looking ill-prepared….Texas scored twice in first half on TD passes to backs out of the backfield…another time that the Longhorns picked up a fumble and took it into the end zone…it wasn’t a pick-6…it was a scoop & score…..Mizzou settled down….maybe too much…the Tiger play-calling in the 1st half seemed even more conservative than when I called plays “back in the day”..Mizzou looked considerably sharper and  better offensively in the 3rd quarter…I realize that it was the 1st game of play calling for this Mizzou coach(Off Coordinator left for U Cen Flor)….so….understandable…I guess…or maybe that’s just an alibi……anyway…..Mizzou’s beautiful long drive in the 3rd quarter resulted in a FG…down 21-16 but a “surprise” snap to Drew Lock…or so it seemed…turned into a safety for Texas…..and that errant snap turned the momentum back to Texas…..Texas finished 7-6 (same as Mizzou) to snap a string of 3 consecutive losing seasons..I believe that the kicking game was the difference…an outstanding area for Texas was their punter…..he pinned the Tigers inside the 10 yard line repeatedly…as he seemed to be kicking it straight towards the “cover man”…usually this cover man caught the punt inside the 10 yd line….I’m wondering why Mizzou didn’t bang the heck out of that guy at the LOS to stifle the timing of the play? Those punts game the Tigers extremely loonngggg fields to score…For the most part, Mizzou had a superior passing game…over 100 more passing yards than Texas…..was about even in rushing yards…but Texas had 10 more minutes of possession as they “ground it out” late in the game. The Tigers displayed lots of good plays and good play but fell short.  Mizzou made a bowl after a horrendous start to 2017 so clearly this was a step forward.

…Ya think, Lane Kiffen was making a statement about getting a job back in the “big time”….in his 1st year as Head Coach @ Florida Atlantic, his Owls crushed Akron 50-3 to glide to victory in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl…is that a mouthful or what? Where’s he going is the question?

….the Rose Bowl game game–Oklahoma-Georgia was one of the best bowls that I’ve watched in a long time…maybe the best ever….the Bulldogs  won in 2-OT 54-48. The 1st half kept you on the edge of your seat. The Sooners came out “on fire” offensively” sharp passing, good holes for the running backs, some clever wrinkles offensively.  Georgia answered practically each OU drive in the 1st half with explosive, long runs. Sony Michel (181 yds) and Nick Chubb (145 yds) were explosive and powerful. It was 21-17 OU at half. In the 2nd half, the Georgia d-line seemed more aggressive, made quick penetration across the line and began getting to Heisman Trophey winning QB Baker Mayfield quickly.  Georgia tied  the game 31-31 in the 3rd. In the very entertaining 4th quarter, Georgia scored the 1st TD, OU scored the next 2 touchdowns only to see Georgia tie it with just 55 seconds left. Both teams were forced to kick FG in the 1st OT of the BCS competition. When Georgia blocked OU’s FG attempt in the 2nd OT….you had to feel that the “big mo” had swung back to the Bulldogs…and it did…Michel scored on a 27 yd run…game over…thriller! Those lying stats…hard to believe.. OU …the passing team .. had 32 min of possession and UGA just 27 min.

….on the other hand, in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama controlled Clemson throughout the entire game as they won 24-6. The Crimson Tide played with more emotion that I’ve ever remember a Nick Saban team showing. Maybe….it was due to the fact that Bama WASN’T ranked as the best team? This was the 3rd straight year that these two very talented teams had met…previous 2 years was for the title….this game was MUCH more defensive oriented than the OU-UGA game. Bama controlled  the LOS, their backs found some space to run and often shrugged off the 1st tackler.  I mean…Alabama’s 261 total yards paled by comparison to the 1st game but they always looked in control.

….the stunner to most fans was the Peach Bowl…and probably the experts…. with the unknown team at the dance…U of Cen Florida (UCF) upending the 10 point favorite, Auburn 34-27.  This game went back & forth…it was tied 13-13 in 2nd qtr and 20-20 in the 3rd as each team moved the ball primarily through the air. UCF QB….bet none of you know his name…yet his team went 13-0…McKenzie Milton was “off” early in passing. As the game unfolded, he made some long runs scrambling that kept the UCF’s offense moving. Each defense came up with some key interceptions and the final interception of the day with 28 seconds left by UCF iced the game for UCF.  Auburn’s Head Coach, Gus Malzahn seemed extremely angry and upset with the loss in his post-game “interview”. Going 13-0 won’t win the Knights a bid to the National Championship but it sure puts them on the stage for the future….how hard is that…to bring a nobody into the “big time”? You may recall, the UCF head coach, Scott Frost is moving to Nebraska next year…with his entire staff….makes lots of sense to me…bring people that you know.

…way down the list of bowls is the Cactus Bowl…it doesn’t even “sound” good….but the venerable Bill Snyder again demonstrated why he is a premier coach. K-State down at halftime to UCLA 17-7. What did Kansas State do in the 2nd half…they shutout the Bruins 28-0 and won the game 35-17. I guess you could say that Snyder made the right adjustments, heh…I luv using that hockey word.

… the Liberty Bowl, saw Matt Campbell, 2nd year head coach of Iowa State .. coaching in the Siberia of College Football… Ames, Iowa…led his team to an 8-5 record with a win over the home-town team of the Liberty Bowl, Memphis 21-20. The Cyclones had some good wins this year…they upset Oklahoma 38-31 and beat a good…not great but good… team, TCU 14-7. Campbell kept his team in the game against Texas (lost 17-7), W. Virginia (L 20-16 @ WV), fell to K-State in Manhattan 20-19. He won’t win any national accolades but his achievements but they really are remarkable when you look at the recent records of Iowa State –2016-3-9; 2015-3-9; 2014-2-10; 2013-3-9. This was the first team over .500 since 2009 when the Cyclones went 7-6. Congrats to Campbell & Iowa State.

…the Citrus Bowl had two “big name” schools…LSU vs Notre Dame…LSU had the first opportunity to score midway in 1st quarter….it appeared..at least to some that the LSU back had crossed the goal line on 3rd down…officials said no….no big deal..it was inches away…then..oops..off-sides pushed it back to the 5 and then…then the  FG attempt was missed….OMG!…seems like LSU is always just missing a little something and this FG attempt portrayed it perfectly.  ND DID kick a FG to take a rousing 3-0 lead after 1st half and Notre Dame had ditched the 1st string QB for the 2nd unit QB …who would call the rest of the game!?After ND botched a punt return, LSU punched across a TD in the 3rd qtr to grab a 7-6 lead. With ND trailing 17-14 with only 1:28 left, WR Miles Boykin caught a long pass, one-handed in spectacular fashion, eluded 2 defenders and scored the winning TD for the Irish (10-3) as they win it 21-17. Irish thrilled to reach the 10 win plateau, LSU has to wonder if Ed Orgeron can put aside his HS play book of 1980 and move into the current era to win.  The Tigers annually have tremendous athletic talent but can’t seem to move up into the highest echelon of NCAA football.

So….we have the national championship game coming in 2 weeks between Alabama & Georgia. Two familiar foes…the SEC fans are euphoric.  Taking a wider look at the overall bowl results of this post-season, there may be some surprises.  I believe that the bowls attempt to match up teams of about comparable skill to make the game exciting. The Big 10 went 7-1, Big 12 5-3, ACC 4-5, SEC 3-5, the Pac 12 1-8. Looking at those results of the Power 5 conferences, SEC still has the “cream of the crop” with  the top 2 or 3 elite teams of the conference, but beyond those teams, it appears that the their league is about the same as everyone else.  Maybe, it could be said that the Big 10 didn’t have a superior team(s) but more “good” teams than anyone else…based on the bowl results. The Pac-12 appeared to be “down” this year in quality and quantity of very good teams.

Over the Holidays around the Lou there are many HS basketball tournaments. The long-standing huge tournaments are at Visitation for the Girls and Meramec (now called Coaches vs Cancer) tournaments for the boys still reign supreme. At Viz, the championship game featured two of the Girls basketball programs and coaches  that have excelled for many years…it was Edwardsville vs Incarnate Word.  IWA is coached by Dan Rolfes, who just broke through the 500 win plateau this season as he holds an incredible 504-78 lifetime record in HS Girls Basketball. He’s led IWA to 7 state championships in 17 years at the helm.  Edwardsville is led by Lori Blades who also coaches the Softball team.  Coach Blades is 681-84 as the Head Basketball Coach @ Edwardsville. She’s led the Tigers to nine seasons of 30+ wins. In softball, Coach Blades is 452-61….yes…she has over 1000 wins combined….btw…if I’m a bit off in these staggering numbers, I apologize to these highly driven, meticulous, hard working coaches who both continue to excel year after year.  Back to Viz…some of the players from each team had been teammates in AAU basketball to there was the “personal” touch to this championship game. A few of the HS basketball guru’s think that this was the first encounter between the two schools but..some say.. that they may have competed “way back when”. At any rate, the game lived up to expectations in front of a huge crowd in the tightly packed  Viz Gym.  IWA jumped ahead 18-9 by the end of the 1st quarter. The  Tigers cut the lead to 31-27 @ half. At the end of 3 quarter, IWA was still on top 41-38.   As often happens…it came down to Free throws and the Tigers prevailed  and won it 61-57. The diference was the 4th quarter FT, Edwardsville was 22 of 30 from the line, IWA 7 of 8.  I’ve had the opportunity to know personally each of these two outstanding coaches.  I’ve seen them in action.  THEY both are the real thing…if you want to see great girls basketball…check out these 2 teams.

…the Meramec tournament always ends up with terrific championship games.  Many of the best teams compete there annually.  This year was no different.  The #3 large school, Hazelwood Central (#2 seed), faced the #1 small school, St Mary’s (#1 seed)…you see…coaches really can seed properly. SM had won the semifinals with two of the best players, Yuri Collins & Tony Burks, out with injuries. Collins was nursing a sore shoulder that has plagued him all season. Burks was busted up and required stitches. SM jumped ahead and still held a 53-44 lead when Tony Burks drained a 3-pointer to open the 4th quarter. A key play occurred with just over a minute remaining when Yuri Collins had stolen the ball and was headed for the game-tying basket when seemingly…out of nowhere…Cameron Williams blocked the shot and seemed to dash hopes of a comeback for the Dragons who lost their 1st game of the season. Haz Cen captured their 5th title in the Meramec/Coaches vs Cancer tournament. Senior shooting guard Shaun Williams showed his all-around game as he scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, handed out four assists to lead the way for the Hawks. Dragons bounced back on Jan 1 as they played in East Chicago and crushed Moreau Catholic (California) 101-76….that’s called “bouncing back”

….well….Holiday Season is ….far the most part…behind us now….thanks for “bowling” with me through this article….your comments are always invited…post right on the page or if you don’t want your name…send to me …I’ll post with your initials.  Thanks…have a great 1st week of 2018.

 

Christmas Gifts Under the Sports Tree by Bob Ryan

Gift opening is over….hopefully all enjoyed a terrific Christmas…now lets’ take a look at some of the gifts that our sports heroes and sports teams received….
…. Shohei Ohtani …newly singed LA Angel…received a “one of a kind” gift…. he’ll be the 1st MLB to be listed TWICE in fantasy baseball leagues…once as a pitcher and once as a hitter…could it ever happen that he’d be traded for himself (pitcher for hitter)?
….Dexter Fowler received the “Jimmy John” award for quickness….he’s last in and first out of the clubhouse on a regular basis
…City of Miami has received the Barnum & Baily Award (a sucker born ever minute)….the Marlins indicated many years ago that they needed a new stadium… publicly funded…Miami approved it.. the stadium opened in 2012 with the expectations that the Marlins would be an entertaining team. The total cost of the stadium was $515m , Marlins paid $155m, City of Miami $13m and other $347m was handled by Miami-Dade County. So….after having invested $360m, the Miami area expected the Marlins to reciprocate and give their best effort (money) to field a decent to good team…..not so….right now, the Marlins fire sale is shipping off quality players quicker than any pizza delivery due to the financial limitations of the new ownership group.
….with the above info fresh in your mind….it’s easy to see why Derek Jeter opened up the “Stran Kroneke” Award for Miami this year.
…winning the David Copperfield Award for his disappearing act is Carson Kelly…. always seen pre-game, Kelly disappears after the game begins and isn’t seen again throughout the next 3-4 hours on most nights
…receiving the “Rookie of the Half-Year” Award in the NHL is the Las Vegas Golden Knights…firmly implanted in 2nd place with 46 points in 33 games (22-9-2). Thus far the Golden Knights have kept their players motivated by reminding them that their former teams didn’t’ want them…and…we hear that many NHL teams spend 2-3 nights in Vegas on their trips to Las Vegas….maybe…the visiting teams had their minds distracted a bit, heh? …that’s my hockey word
…receiving the award for winning the battle of the “Best of Early Signing” Award is Clemson. The Tigers signed 4 of the top rated 10 players in the country.
….The Blues found a ‘jump” on their offensive battery… Tage Thompson & Patrik Berglund have recharged the team..at least a bit… at a time when their offensive battery was dead
….finding under his tree the Waterman Trophy for spitting is Jeff Gyorko….it’s not so much the quality but the quantity of the spitting …generally while he’s in the batter’s box
…Tampa Bay Rays received the “Florida Clone” award….following the example of their buddy south of them in Miami…Tampa has indicated that they also would like to “move” high quality players… reason…..cut payroll…..so….Evan Longoria ends up in San Fran….closer Alex Colume has been listed often in trade talks and highly touted starting pitcher Chris Archer sees his name bandied about…so….now BOTH of the MLB teams in Florida will be fielding AAA type teams…ugh!!!
…opening up the “Bob Gibson Interview Award” is Tommy Pham…like Gibson, Pham’s interviews were very direct, blunt, spoken in clearly understandable words and without even the smallest concern for anyone who may be offended by his remarks.
….Aaron Rogers found a watch under his tree so he can determine if he’s seen more on the football field or on commercials
…receiving the “Highway to Heaven” award is Matt Adams…..Adams left the 72-90 Atlanta Braves as a free agent and now has signed with the Washington Nationals 97-65,1st place, most key players are returning for the Nats…no rebuild around him… he’s gotta feel like he’s in heaven now
…receiving the” Johnny Manziel” award for college players totally wrapped up in themselves are the 4 U of Texas players who refused to play against Missouri in the Texas Bowl because they were intending to play pro football…and with 3 more Longhorns suspended for the game…the outcome is looking much brighter for the Tigers.
..the city of Detroit opened up the “you did it again” package….Detroit is the only city to win in one year all three of the major sports titles…in 1935 the Lions won the NFL Tile, the Tigers the World Series and the Red Wings the Stanley Cup! …many baby boomers opened up plenty of positive memories under their tree when they were reminded of Tim McCarver’s entry into the Cards HOF this year. McCarver made his first appearance as a 17 year old in 1959 when he played in 6 games. He was the #1 catcher all through the 60’s….primary catcher of all 3 of the Cards World Series seasons in the 60’s….was part of the “CBC” connection of the 60’s Cards….he and teammate Phil Gagliano graduated from CBC HS in Memphis and Mike Shannon from CBC StL…btw.. Gagliano died in December 2016
…Mizzou & Illinois each opened up an AED device after using it to recusitate the Bragging Rts Basketball game last week…the crowd of 21,000+ enjoyed the 70-64 Illini win. Illinois has now won 5 straight in this streaky series that began in 1980…Illinois currently has won 9 in a row and won 8 in a row another time. The Tigers have winning streaks of 4 in a row twice. Illinois leads Braggin Rights series 32-16. In the 4 years prior to the Bragging Rights game in St. Louis…the Show Me Classic found the same two teams going back & forth between Columbia & Champaign.
…the Harpo Marx award for all of his public words was found under the tree of Mike Girsch, GM of the St. Louis Cardinals…when will he talk?
…picking it up …then dropping it… the “Goose Egg” Award is the U of Missouri Football Staff for their successful recruiting of any of the top 10 St Louis players listed by the StLTODAY staff ….if you’re thinking that these players aren’t good enough…think again….2 players signed with Ohio State, 1 each with Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas.
…John Mozeliak received an updated thesaurus to continue his pattern of using “fresh” words when describing the same ol’ ideas….be good enough to get 3m fans but not good enough to be the very best of the National League
….jointly opening a gift…the Blues & Cards each received a gold star for their production of the Winter Classic…held way back on January 2nd…it drew 46,000+ fans, Blues won 4-1….great memories for all
….belatedly finding the BOB Award for a HOF announcers was Dick Enberg….Enberg passed away earlier this week….like many of the HOF announcers in my personal HOF…. Enberg didn’t use slick sounding language or the latest buzz words that may have pointed to him being the star….he let the excitement of the game speak for itself….his famous expression, “Oh My” after a great play….often said it all
….Drew Brees opened a “born again” envelope as he and his Saints look to be rejuvenated to the point that they almost resemble the only Saints Super Bowl Championship team of 2009
…found under the tree of the Cardinals PR division is the book on Public Honesty by Richard Nixon … Cards have maintained for years of the superior strength of their minor league system….well… if so….the last Cardinal Rookie of the Year was Albert Pujols in 2001. Prior to that award, the Cards won back-back Rookies of the Year in 85-86 with Todd Worrell and Vince Coleman. The Cards do produce plenty of “good” players ….but…not so much when considering developing “stars”.
….for the 3rd consecutive year, finding under this tree as the Winner of the “StL Horses’ Petunia” Award is Stan Kroneke…for most of us…not seeing him at all …is a blessing
….Carlos Martinez found a stack of 400 small paper cups under this tree so that maybe he’ll resume his “splash” after his teammates hit round trippers…. as he did in 2016 but not much in 2017.
…Bob Ryan received a STOP sign under his tree…so…… Happy New Year to all of you….Wishing you all the best in 2018…. YOUR responses are always terrific….respond to any part….If you don’t want your name listed, use your initials..or send it to me and I’ll use your initials to post it… in case you missed some of the most popular articles of the year…..here are a few to consider…

Jan 30 Brady or Belichick ? http://www.prepcasts.com/brady-or-belichick-by-bob-ryan/
Mar 5 BOB Awards http://www.prepcasts.com/bob-awards-by-bob-ryan/
Apr 9 Missing the Goal http://www.prepcasts.com/missing-the-goal-by-bob-ryan/
May 27 Sports Jeopardy http://www.prepcasts.com/sports-jeopardy-by-bob-ryan/
July 3 A Sports 4th of July http://www.prepcasts.com/4th-of-july-by-bob-ryan/
Sep 3 Turning the Page http://www.prepcasts.com/turning-the-page-by-bob-ryan/
Nov 6 World Series Wrap UP http://www.prepcasts.com/world-series-wrap-up-by-bob-ryan/

Trade Sparks Life in Fans by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals acquired heavy hitting, smooth fielding Marcell Ozuna last week….suddenly…it seemed as if the fans were excited …..real excited….again…it was like fresh new life about the Cardinals. Why so?  The Cardinals had six different players with 20+ HR last year, two more with 18….but…none were viewed…at least by the fans… as a “true” power hitter.  Maybe it’s the lingering effect of Mark McGwire who in his two best years in the Lou hit 70 and 65 home runs. He banged out an OPS of  1.22 and 1.12…there was a buzz in the park as he approached the plate…will it be that way now?  Ozuna  banged out 37 dingers last year with 124 RBI’s….a really strong season….it was his “breakout” year.  In the previous 3 years, he slugged 23, 10 and 23 Home runs….rather mediocre…but….it’s said that he disciplined himself more at the plate…laid off pitches out of the strike zone. Another consideration is that Ozuna upgrades our defense.  He was a gold glove player last year and is recognized as a “good” defensive player.  Ozuna has 2 years remaining on his contract. All in all….it appears to be a strong move by MO and his crew.  What about the other Cardinal Moves this winter?

….Acquiring LF Ozuna  and moving Tommy Pham to CF shoves Derrick Fowler to RF.  He’ll be able to cover the ground but his weakest part of his defensive game is his arm.  The RF setting will accentuate that weakness. Last year, runner after runner challenged Fowler on the bases….I can see it happening again…and more often since the throw from RF to 3B is the longest.

…The bullpen may…or may not…need a closer…Tyler Lyons was the 13th best pitcher in the MLB in the 2nd half last season…that surprised me and probably many of you…But…how do we limp our way to the 9th ? Cards Bullpen still requires some attention…Luke Gregerson you say… Gregerson ranked #193 for 2nd half performance last season. He’ll turn 34 in May, had his highest ERA of his career last year with a 4.57 mark.  He did strike out a man per each inning of work… that’s good. ..but what’s around him….. Matt Bowman was #177 & Brett Cecil #180 for the same 2nd half rating. Swing when OH is gone, Rosey is gone. How about bringing some…OK…I’ll settle for 1 or 2 ….of these “Starting prospects”.  Put them in the pen…bring them in every 3rd/4th day to pitch 2-4 innings.  It’d help their arm (less innings expected), help the bullpen (Manifesto can’t keep running 4 different guys out there every day). Make them…or even….him..a steady, regular performer. Eventually I think Waino & Wacha will be swapping roles with these “prospects”.

…A question about the every day lineup….well…we know from 6 years of observation of this manager..the “every day” lineup is the same about 2 days in a row and then is changed..anyway..

As listed now by many “sports sites”….Matt Carpenter is back @ 3B with Jose Martinez @ 1B. Somehow I was under the impression that Martinez had developed in the Cardinals system. Not so..take a look at his career…

February 16, 2006: Signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent.

November 3, 2012: Granted Free Agency.

November 13, 2012: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 5, 2013: Granted Free Agency.

June 20, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 4, 2014: Granted Free Agency.

January 28, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.

May 25, 2016: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals

Last year was outstanding for Martinez—14 HR, 46 RBI, .309 average in 274 AB….can he match it again is the question. Three franchises have already “given up” on Martinez ?!? I really think that he’s an AL type guy…a DH…his fielding is in the lowest echelon of the MLB…

….so what’s next….the talks continue with Tampa Bay…Colume is the primary goal as our closer but I think….nothing except inferences between the lines…the Longoria could be obtained also….Tampa Bay seems to squeak by annually on one of the lowest payrolls in the MLB. With that in mind….can’t trade Carp to them (too costly)….a package of Gyorko (become 3B),  Martinez, 2 or 3 pitching prospects and maybe Carson Kelly(He can’t caddy Yadi again for another year can he?). Kelly’s value drops the longer he sits on the bench.

…Comparisons  of Gyorko & Longoria were interesting…Gyorko will 30 years old this year; Longoria ia 32.  Most would concede that Longoria is a better fielder…due primarily to his wider range.  However.. Gyorko did surprise many with his defensive play in 2017.  Using the small sample size of last year, here’s a snap shot comparison of the two…

                        GP    AB     R    H      2B  3B  HR   rbi  BB  SB   avg   OBP  slug   OPS

Longoria       156   677   71  160   36   2     20    86   46   6   .261  .313  .424  .737

Gyorko          125   426   52  116   21   2     20    67   47   6  .272   .341  .472  .813

 Comparing salaries is amazing close also..

                           2018                2019                2020                2021              2022                2023

Longoria      $13.5m            $14.5m            $15m                $18.5m         $19.5m          $13m

Gyorko          $9m                  $13m                $13m                —-                  —–                 —

Frankly….conceding Longoria has better defense ….his numbers are NOT markedly different when one considers the difference in the number of AB….his long term financial obligations are usually not of the Cardinals ilk…granted, Gyorko wasn’t the same hitter in the 2nd half…..it seemed that the opponents fed him a steady stream of breaking balls to get ahead in the count and then threw him those same breaking balls outside of the strike zone that he chased…on the other hand, Longoria hasn’t been in an All-Star game since 2010….Longoria has the name but is he worth it?

…a team that has really “gone all in” is the LA Angels…..the Angels really changed their team….it used to be Michael Trout, Albert and a bunch of “no names”….not any longer…they picked up Ian Kinsler-2b and Zach Cosart, who will be the 3B….they resigned their clean-up hitter– Justin Upton & his 30 HR.. Andrelton Simmons is a terrific SS and hit .278 last year…Kole Calhoun is solid …of course Michael Trout anchors the lineup. Angels are much improved defensively now and some additional veterans who maybe thinking that this is their last real “shot” at winning…could be fun for the Angel fans.

…another team worth noting is the Philadelphia Phillies….no….I didn’t have some type of “attack” ... the Phillies who feel like that they have a good-enough young starting rotation(2nd half ratings starting pitchers after name-Aaron Nola (#15) Jerd Eickhoff (#91) Ben Lively (#101), Nick Pivetta (#113) Vince Valeasquez (#122) have now solidified their bullpen with the signings of Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. Adding Carlos Santana…middle of the lineup bat….will permit Rhys Hoskins to play daily in the OF. The daily lineup should score some runs….I look for this team to be much improved…..now…don’t go out and bet the farm but  the NL East…other than the Nats.. is wide open…when these “weaker” teams improve….wins become much tougher for the better teams.

…but…the only team that StL baseball fans ask about …outside the Cardinals..are the Cubs… Well.. Chicago has leaned heavily towards the pitching side of things this off-season…SP Tyler Chatwood was signed…Chatwood had been a starter for the Rockies…his numbers away from Colorado were markedly higher than those in Denver…that convinced GM Theo Epstein to sign him.  Cubs headed next to the bullpen where they lost closer Wade Davis to free agency….why won’t they resign Davis?  Epstein doesn’t believe in any contracts for bullpen pitchers for more than 2 years …Davis is asking for 4 years, $60m…. thus… Epstein moved on….Brendan Morrow & Steve Cishek were brought in for the pen …Morrow best known now for his iron-man imitation in the 2017 post-season while Cishek is a veteran relief hurler ….Also purchased was starter Drew Smyly…Smyly is a long term investment…he’s out in 2018 with Tommy John so he’s not even on the back burner. Smyly will be 29 years old when he returns in 2019. His lifetime ERA (5 seasons) is 3.74…myself….I’m doubtful of Morrow’s arm “holding up” after such a strenuous and LONG 2017 post-season…I think Cishek will evolve into the better of the two bullpen acquisitions for our friends in Chicago..btw…the Cubs farm system has been wiped out with trades to assist them in their World Series championship. As a result…not too much help coming up soon that will substantially improve the Cubs.

…Blues time…

…. Some seemed surprised that the Blues are struggling….really?….Schwartz (#1 offensive player on Blues in my book ) and Pietrangelo (#1 defensive player) and Boumeester are out….hockey is different than baseball…these players are on the ice for about 1/3 of the game….Schwartz @ 19:12/game; Pietrangelo for 25:46…baseball you bat 4x in a game (generally) with the average number of plate appearances around 38 per game for a team…probably not the same…but when hockey stars are injured… they’re replaced the 16th/17th best player on the team….you bet that there will be a drop-off…this could be a very rough next 30 days…but….looking at the big picture…it’s all about being at your peak in the playoffs..the REAL NHL season.

….On the High school scene…

….basketball season is in full force…one program that has been unbelievably good for over 60 years is St. Francis Borgia. The Knights success began in 1950 when Coach Ray DeGreef took over the reins of the basketball program. He retired in 1982 with 700+ wins.  5 years later, Dave Neier became the Head Coach. Neier has won 5 State Titles, been in the Final Four 10x and won 21 district championships.  Neier, still leading the Knights, is just 4 wins away from reaching the 700 win plateau himself….so….since 1950…except for 5 years when Neier was assistant coach…. ….three has been only 2  Head Coaches over 67 years (save 5  years when Neier was an Asst Coach) and each coach will have chalked up 700+ wins…what a tribute to them and the school. I’ve never heard of such a legacy..congrats!

….Congratulations to Gabby Blossom…named the StL High School Sports.com Volleyball player of the Year.  Gabby starred at St. Joseph Academy s the Angels won the State Championship… again.  Gabby was recognized for her leadership skills as well as her v-ball skills…not surprising…her Dad is Jay Blossom, the long-time, highly successful boys basketball coach at Webster Groves HS…Everyone who’s seen Jay coach on the sidelines knows that he’s a leader and an “all in” type of guy. I’m thinking that it was probably a lot tougher for him to be in the stands watching his daughter compete for STATE instead of being on the bench as a coach!

…No champions are crowned in December but there is a great deal of excitement on the SouthSide.  The St Mary’s Dragons are 9-0 as we approach Christmas. The Dragons, ranked #1 in small schools by the Post-Dispatch were also ranked #7 by USA-Today-Midwest region.  St. Mary’s will compete in the Coaches vs Cancer Tournament (formerly called the Meramec CC Christmas Tournament) over the Holidays.

…more and more I’m seeing the very good teams compete against each other in non-conference games.  Why not?  EVERY team goes to district…it doesn’t matter if you are 25-0, 24-1, 20-5…the tougher competition that you’ve faced should prepare you for the very tough games in district and beyond.

…..college basketball…

….Cuonzo Martin has piled up a 9-2 record.  Some wins look good…wins over W. Virginia, Iowa St, St Johns & U Cen Florida are worth noting.   Wins over cupcakes Wagner, Emporia St, Long Beach St, Green Bay & N.Florida are just padding the win column so that your team may look better to the NCAA committee in march…..generally, the NCAA doesn’t “fall for it”…btw… why even have a chair behind Coach Martin….have you seen him sit down yet…once? Hopefully, Martin will “sit” in Columbia for a while ….after his 2 predecessors each went only 3 years apiece.

….even Duke has a slip-up now and then….after blasting a cupcake, St. Francis 124-67, the Dukies fell to Boston College 89-84 in their ACC opener. Boston College is now 9-3 for the season.

….College football…

The newly instituted “early signing” period—Dec 20 to Dec 22 begins this week.  It’s the first year of this “early signing”.  Doesn’t seem like it really matters when they sign…Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and a few others will claim most the Blue-chippers. Sometimes these highly touted players live up to the hype…it seem like D-lineman & QB are the best bets….other times…it’s the lesser heralded player who become a star…often O-Lineman, D-Backs develop later…let’s watch it closely.

Well…as the excitement continues for Cardinal fans…lets also enjoy the excitement of the Christmas Season with family & Friends….Merry Christmas!