Big Game Hunting for the Cards by Bob Ryan

It’s hunting season now…maybe not in the outdoors but definitely in the MLB.  It’s a bit different type of “big game” hunting….it’s not huge wildlife….it’s bringing down the “big game” players in the MLB.  Obviously, they don’t shoot them down with guns or bow….they bring these “big game” guys down by shooting with guns that shoot them tons & tons of money. Even with these “big game” shots, some of the elite players still manage to escape to another day…and maybe….a different big game shooter. The two largest targets for these”Big game” shooting are Bryce Harper & Manny Machado. I feel like the Cards aren’t even going to take any shots @ Machado.With the money demanded to bring down these MLB stars…they can’t afford for the stars NOT to be stars with their fan base.  Machado’s attitude and style of play lets him run loose as far as the Cards are concerned. Harper’s demands may make him too elusive for out gungs to have the power to bring him down. Soooo…where does that take these “big game” hunters…..

…I suppose that these hunters begin stalking somewhat smaller “prizes”….that requires less $$$ to be bring down the target….Josh Donaldson ….is that type of star –one with question marks….he’s already been brought down by the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta….btw…has been out of the big game hunting expeditions for several years so bringing down Donaldson was stirring to the fan base.   Donaldson was a particularly attractive “catch” for the Braves. It’s a 1 year contract (he’s a free agent next year) for $23m sooo…Donaldson who has struggled with Injuries since 2017 must prove again that he’s worthy of the big bucks…Of course if the falters like in 2018, he’ll be sent packing. 2015 was really robust for Donaldson-it was he “caree” year.  As a member of the Blue Jays  he won the AL MVP as he pounded 41 HR, 122 RBI, .297 with an OPS .939 and played in 158 games. In 2016, he still played in 155 games with 37 round trippers, just 99 RBI’s, but his OPS moved upward to .953. In 2017 he dipped to 33 HR, hit .270 with 78 rbi’s.  last year…he split time between Toronto & Cleveland as his batting mark slipped to .246 and only played in 52 games. The Braves are hoping that the 33 year old will bounce back in a huge way as the regular 3B for a team that he rooted for as a youngster. The 1 year contract suits the Braves well as they have several young players who will be arriving at their “big money” time in a couple years.

….Sooo…how does this affect the Cards…who seemingly are still out buying their “big game” hunting gear …..with Donaldson off the table…the TWO big targets left are Bryce Harper & Manny Machado. you can “x” out Machado…his style of play & personality do not seem suited for the Cards fan base. Harper is about as young as any superstar could be to enter free agency at 26 years of age. Somehow, I just don’t think that the Cards will break their mold of loading up their MONEY GUN with millions & millions of bucks to bring down a super free agent. I’m already hearing, “we gave him a solid offer but just not enough” response from MO…who claims not to be the GM but really is the director of operations…who do hear representing the Cards on these free agent “hunts”….the GM or MO? Soooo Cards must take over their hunting gear and move to the trading waters.  Paul Goldschmidt seems ideally suited to wear a Redbird uny… go ahead part with 2, 3 or even 4 “prospects” and an everyday player to get him for 1 year. I’d even trade Carlos Martinez as part of the package to get Goldschmidt. Let the fans “bag Goldschmidt on the hunting grounds” with their appreciation and adulation for a super player. Take the chance that you can resign him after next year…. Without a major signing, I predict a drop in Card attendance next year.

…in other “big game” player moves or possible moves around the MLB….

…Mets & Mariners started the ball rolling as they exchanged some “big game” players….if not presently.. surely from the recent past…the Mets obtained Robinson Cano and Cano’s huge salary commitment (due $120m over next 5 years) &  closer Edwin Diaz. Going to the Mariners are aging Jay Bruce, veteran mediocre relief hurler Anthony Swarzak and 3 prospects (2 of whom were #1 picks by NYM). Cano might be the best known of this group…but from my view, Edwin Diaz, just 24 was absolutely terrific last year. He had 57 saves in 61 appearances, 1.96 ERA, 0.79 whip, 124 strikeouts vs 17 walks in 73 1/3 innings. The Mets clearly “won” this big-game deal…Diaz ALONE is worth what Seattle received in return. Seattle does get salary relief as they push off Cano’s salary obligations. Meanwhile, NYM hopes that Cano will get a bit more recharged  in a familiar environment (he played for the Yanks for several years). Cano has also put his 80 game suspension of PED use behind him. NYM also received $20m to offset the huge Cano contract…heck, that’s almost worth the last of the 5 year commitment to him. I’ve stated very often my feeling about “prospects”….they’re like prospectors digging for gold…how often  did they actually fine gold?…..a steal by NYM.

….in the Cardinals recent history, signing the highest level “big game” Free agents has rarely been done…so with that in mind…and with the idea that MLB “big games” have now become bullpen games…2 attractive free agents to me that are former Cardinals – Joe Kelly & Adam Ottovino ..each would both benefit the bullpen and immediately provide experience and depth for the growing number of bullpen games in 2019 MLB action.

In some different types of “big game” action….Saturday was college football championship day…

….some may not have enjoyed the low scoring 10-3 victory by #10 Washington over #17 Utah in the Pac 12 Championship….many, many fans have come to expect the pin-ball type scores in the 50’s with offenses running past the defenses as if they were little brothers in a family “touch” game…. Washington  ran the ball and ran the ball ..often inside the tackles….and played tremendous defense—it was really “old school”….Washington played ball control….consistent run plays, several short passes to backs behind the LOS to eliminate sacks and pick up 3-5 yards per catch along with  a tremendous defense—especially the defensive secondary…in fact, it was the Huskie defense that scored the only TD of the game. In an interception as strange as the game…Byron Murphy (Wash U d-back) reacted to a pass to Utah WR Siaosi Mariner…the pass was low, Mariner got his hands on it…but it slipped through them…hit his upper leg as he was falling…bounded up a bit in the air, Murphy grabbed it outraced the pursuit for a 66 yard Pick. Washington has the ball for almost twice as long as Utah (38:32 minutes) and had drives of 6:40 and another over 10 minutes!!! (there’s only 15 min in a quarter!) Murphy had 3 picks for the day in a “big game” when defense ruled.

…Everyone’s eyes were on the Bama-Georgia game…the Bulldogs played a brilliant game but Alabama just had too much depth…especially at the crucial QB spot…. as Jalen Hurts enters the game after an injury to Tua Tagovailoa and rallies the Crimson Tide for the win and the #1 seed overall. Funny how things work….last year in the same game, Tua Tagovailoa had replaced Hurts to ignite Alabama to beat Georgia in a similar way….what goes around…comes around sometimes…but it won’t happen unless a coach can recruit superior players constantly over the years as Nick Saban has done.

….while we’re in the football “big game” section…I’m staying with my Final Four that I’ve had for a few weeks now, as I write this on Sunday morning…..1. Bama  2. Clemson  3. ND 4. OU. The NCAA show will be later  today.

…in the Nearly Forgotten League (NFL)….there aren’t any “big NFL games” in the Lou any more but..
with many of the usual frontrunners leading  their division…in the AFL its New England, Pittsburgh, KC and Houston….the NFL has Dallas, New Orleans and the Rams on top with things seeming  like the good ol’ days…the status quo…. but… lo and behold…the Chicago Bears are in 1st place by 1.5 games over Minnesota. Is Mike Ditka still playing? George Halas on the sidelines?  Dick Butkus & Gale Sayers as star players? Nope… Go ahead tell me any 3 players on the Bears.. I can’t.
  Where is Green Bay you say?  They’re behind the Lions in 3rd place..ouch!

…In the basketball world, it’s very unusual to have a “big game” prior to Christmas….or even prior to February…but St Louis U made a national footprint with their stunning, convincing win over Butler 64-52. Butler has been the model that the Billikens hope to emulate…..a small, private school that has become well-known and accepted as a national basketball power. It brings recognition, pride, donations and… students to the school. I didn’t see this game but heard Ramer & Earl (Bob Ramsey & Earl Austin) rooting them home on the radio….it was fun hearing each possession with such passion as the game winded down. Kudo’s to Head Coach Travis Ford who has recruited top level players and packed the Chavitz house and made a mark…for at least a day….on the national map…now….the climb to higher rankings continues  as more “W’s are required. I think the Bills will find many of the A-10 games a different caliber than these Butler type games.

….In HS basketball it’s too early in the season to have any real “big games” but Principia’s 5-11 Jordan Frederickson has definitely placed herself as  a “big game Player. At this point, she leads the area in girls scoring as we begin the 1st full week in December. Frederickson , a Junior, carries a 32.5 average through 4 games. She’s displayed outside shooting– 15 3-balls; free throw shooting %– 4th in the area as she shoot 91% (51 of 56 FT). Further, she’s also 3rd in the area in rebounds as she carries a 13.3 reb/gm mark. The Panthers (3-1) can afford to play Frederickson outside (1st of all because she can REALLY shoot) because they have additional height to play inside with Sophomores Makenna Kibbe is 6-0, at 5-11 is Aria McMullin and Sr Georgia Rather is 5-10 to supplement Frederickson.

….to wrap up the ‘Big Games” week…congrats to CBC (now ranked #10 in national polls)in Class 6, Vianney  won Class 5, Ladue is Champ in Class 4, Trinity in Class 3 on winning Missouri State High School Football Championships over the past 2 weekends.

….now it’s time wrap up the “Big Game” week….





Sorting out the NCAA Rankings by Bob Ryan

The final weeks of NCAA football generally are very exciting because the “ratings” formed over the season get jumbled as the some of the higher ranked teams finally play quality teams..and then…some lose.   So….this week….I’m  going in detail about my NCAAF rankings …I only list 4 teams…why list 25…only 4 teams are going for the championship playoff. My top 3 teams remain unchanged: 1) Alabama  2) Clemson  3) Notre Dame…..but the Ohio State win over Michigan brings a wider scope of teams into consideration…. let’s take a longer look at each one…..considering records against top 25 teams; strength of non-conference opponents; the level of the teams that BEAT these top teams; overtime wins vs regulation wins

….Georgia….11-1..played 3 top 25 teams (as of last rankings) lost to  #7 LSU 36-16; beat #14 Kentucky 34-17; Beat #11 Florida 36-17….played an abysmal non-conference schedule-Austin Peay, Mid Tennessee, UMass and finally a power 5 team-Georgia Tech (7-5 who had “big’ wins over Alcorn State, Bowling Green, Louisville)….pardon the sarcasm.

….Ohio State….11-1..played just 2 top 25 teams; crushed #4 Michigan 62-39 and beat #12 Penn State 27-26. Their loss was a 49-20 blow out by Purdue (6-6—including a loss to E.Michigan!!) and then barely beat Maryland (5-7) in OT 52-51…I think of college OT wins in this way…you DO get some credit for the win but not the same amount of value as a win in regulation. Ohio State’s non-conference opponents- included two Power 5 opponents–Oregon St(2-10), & TCU(6-6), who were weak …very weak … teams. The 3rd non-conference team was Tulane (6-6) of Aamerican Athletic Conference

…Oklahoma…11-1…played 3 Top 25 opponents…beat #13 W.Viginia 59-56, only loss was to #14 Texas 48-45;beat #25 Iowa State 37-27. OU DID have to go OT to beat Army 28-21…so that win isn’t as clean…but…it was a nonconference opponent who does play a non-power 5 schedule  (for the most part) however the Black Knights are 9-2 for the season. The other non-conference opponent was a non-Power 5 team–Florida Atlantic(5-7).

Now two teams that present interesting dilemmas.

…UCF (Central Florida)…11-0—plays in the American Conference…has seemingly come out of nowhere in the last few years….the best win was over #24 Pitt 45-14. This club doesn’t have a chance at being in the top 4 rankings….and how will they do it?  The Highly ranked teams won’t play them now…schedules drawn up so far in advance….and won’t schedule them for the future because they still are viewed as “small school” going “big”. UCF has won 24 straight games but are seen ..just now..breaking into the bottom of the top 10. The injury to their starting QB on Saturday makes them even a bigger risk for a New Years Day Bowl committee.  I don’t pretend that they are a top 4 NCAA championship but I present their case as an example of how difficult it is for any team outside the SEC or Big 10 to gain national recognition despite going unbeaten for 2 straight years. I’d compare them to the Boise State rise a few years ago from the unknown to an accepted team equivalent to power 5 schools.

….Michigan (10-2)…was the only one of these teams to play a top 5 team in non-conference (Notre Dame)…which they lost by 1 TD…Wolverines beat #12 Penn State 42-7, #19 Northwestern by a score of 17-14…in their 4th game against a top 25 team (they are the ONLY team to play FOUR top 25 teams to this point)…they we shellacked by Ohio State 62-39. Sooo.. with two losses …each against top 10 teams…they are completely out of the running… and you WONDER why these elite teams schedule cupcakes instead of top level opponents. Shouldn’t the real strength of schedule work IN their favor …instead of against them?

….now with all that analysis and information…my top 4 teams …at least for this week are:

  • Alabama 2) Clemson   3) Notre Dame  4) Oklahoma

….falling even deeper in the NHL rankings….the Blues picture still seems muddled….hiring a coach with no NHL Head Coach experience, tons of NHL playing experience, a feisty fighting type player who will be much more direct and outspoken as..apparently… the PC treatment didn’t fare too well  for the laissez-faire Blues. I’m not a hockey expert but it’s clear that the Blues are giving up WAY too many goals  which probably means our defense isn’t good enough…is it their aggressiveness?  Losing a step skating wise? Communication? Checking?  Passing? All of these and more?   I can’t say …but I can say… that this team is in last place as December rolls around. The hopes were very high in the summer because of the acquisitions of O’Reilly (he’s been terrific), Maroon, and others.  But…this club just doesn’t seem to have enough skills to win several games….maybe even two games consecutively. I’ve heard it said that if Tarasenko doesn’t score BIG…the Blues aren’t going anyplace… thus far in 2018 …that statement is true.  The loyal Blues fans are booing on a regular basis now…attendance dipped to 16,100ish last night..Mr. Tom Stillman, who has invested the maximum permitted according to the NHL contract, must start to get some dividends on his huge investment. If we’ve changed two coaches in two years and our record has sunk to unacceptable levels, I’d start to wonder if the GM is pulling all the right strings for the personnel on the roster.

….MU Football probably should get ranked nationally in the top 25 as they notched their 8th win last Saturday as they manhandled an overmatched Arkansas team 38-0. MU has really been playing good football the last 3 weeks. Those 8 wins will probably put them in a bowl sometime between Christmas & New Years…the New Years Day bowls are the best (outside the playoffs) and the closer that one plays to New Years… generally, the better quality (and pay out) the Bowls. The Tigers mid-season malaise when they lost 2 games to Kentucky & S. Carolina really cost them a New Year’s Day outing.

…speaking of football…I rarely touch on the Nearly Forgotten League but…last Monday Nights 54-51 game between the Rams & the Chiefs game clearly gets a #1 ranking in entertainment.  The teams kept racing up and down the field as neither defense had any answers other than…”call for the KO return team”   The next generation of QB stars took center stage…Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes.  Both were so much fun to watch….they made all the throws and yet still ran when necessary. Each QB read the coverage, made pre-snap adjustments and made the passes over and over again. Some facts to digest about that game….It was only the 3rd time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970  that opposing teams in the same game EACH  had just one or fewer losses in Week 11 or later. Those other games were:  Packers (10-1) vs. Cowboys (10-1) in 2007, Giants (10-1) vs. 49ers (10-1) in 1990 and Colts (9-1) vs. Broncos (9-1) in 1977. It was the FIRST time in NFL history that BOTH teams scored over 50 points in a single game. The part that kept me …and most fans riveted…the lead changed hands FOUR different times just in the last quarter and only two Ram interceptions eliminated a 5th lead change! Somehow I felt like a kid playing pinball again…the lights, bells, whistles cha-chinging  in the background… as I watched these two entertaining teams. It  kept me glued to the TV. I guess I was hoping that I’d win a FREE game with the score….maybe I did!!? …will it be in the Super Bowl ?

….a tip of the hat to HEAD UMSL Coach Bob Sunvold. Coach reached his 200th victory as a collegiate HEAD Coach last weekend in the UMSL Thanksgiving Classic.  Clearly, the #1 team in the tournament after chalking up 2 wins on Friday & Saturday, Coach Sunvold has his team perking …now holding a 6-1 record after beating MO Western 74-61 and Central MO State 84-74 in the UMSL T-Day classic. The Tritons what amounted to the Tournament Championship…in Saturday’s game over the Mules (Cen MO St) with some incredible FT shooting..23 of 29 (80%). SR Johnathan Matthews scored 26 points, was 10 of 11 from the line and 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Jose Grubbs came off the bench for 19 minutes of action and dropped in 15 points. Josh Carter grabbed 11 boards to top the Tritons in that area. SR Eric Dust nailed key free throws coming down the stretch and Soph Shane Wissink ran the offense, dished out 5 assists while scoring 11 points. It was a total team victory as the Tritons bench outscored Central MO bench 29-8 in the game. Both the UMSL Women/Men open up GLVC conference play on Thursday @ home against the McKendree Bearcarts @ 5:30 & 7:30.

…off season “talk” heard about Cards as they hope to move out of the #6 ranking of the NL…

apparently Manager Mike Shildt is intent on increasing “contact” level for the Cards batters this year.  The new Hitting Coach (we seem to be changing hitting coaches like we change our clothes) Jeff Albert ..who previously worked with Houston…did much work in forming and shaping the Astros recognition of “good” pitches in order to make contact. He hopes to do the same with the Cards.

…the upper levels of the Cards minor league system seems to have been drained of many..if not most..of its top MLB prospects in the last couple years. Sooo…it’s probably not ranked #1 in MLB ready prospects…with that In mind…one has to wonder if the Cards practically giving away “veteran” young players like Tommy Pham and Luke Voit at the deadline was done in haste or due to factors outside of performance. Pham and Voit both were very productive batters for their new teams. Pham hit .343, 7 HR, 22 rbi’s with a an OPS of 1.071 in 39 games with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a 1st year of arbitration this year, so he’ll be due for  raise. As a Yankee, Voit was a crowd favorite….he banged out 14 HR, hit .333 and his OPS was 1.095. Coming down the stretch, it  seems to me that the Cards may have been looking more at their age or pocketbook rather than the standings.

…Well…I don’t want my rankings to drop due to overexposure…..have a good week!

Thanksgiving Smorgasbord by Bob Ryan

It’s Thanksgiving week….many of us look forward to the wonderful Thanksgiving meal…that’s like a smorgasbord….platters keep getting passed around until your plate can barely be seen….well…It’s like that this week….plenty of plates (topics)…be passed around..

…of course the first platter coming around was…what else…Cardinal baseball….this platter looked strange…it was empty on one side and full on the other side…on  the full side, one sees the Cards finishing 7.5 games out of 1st place means…that means just 1 more win a MONTH puts them easily in the playoffs and very close to winning the division; you also see that the Cards DID have  the best record in the National League against teams over .500 (50-39); one also sees the changing landscape of the MLB…starting pitchers DON’T complete games so accept it…in fact the Cards pitchers were tied for the league lead in fewest HR allowed/9 inning@ 0.9; Cards were 5th in NL in runs scored; however, on the empty side of the platter, the Cards were dead last in committing the most errors in the league with 133 miscues and naturally then… had the lowest fielding average in the MLB (by comparison, Houston the best defensive team committed just 77 errors); at the plate the Cards were right in the middle of the MLB with a .249 batting average (league avg .248); mediocrity continued as the Cards were right at the league average of .409 for slugging and runners LOB 1101. So you decide which part of the plate you’d like to “take from” on this Thanksgiving…next plate..

…the Mizzou football platter came next….after the convincing, positive win over Tennessee, it’s clear that the two games that this team gave away to S. Carolina and Kentucky were really devastating to the program. Add those 2 wins to the record(which they should have excuses) coupled with their signature win over Florida and now the Tigers are ranked probably in the top 15 or 20…the attendance (around 50,000) has also been impacted…it’s far beneath the expectations the Mizzou staff since those bad losses….btw…wouldn’t it be nice to see Mizzou wear their traditional uniforms….I watched USC-UCLA  for a very short time yesterday…and they were recognizable immediately… I realize that Mizzou is tied into Nike.. or some other company like that….but really…each week is different’s like Halloween outfits…can’t every use the same one more than once…ugh….next plate please….

…the next platter was very heavy….and it looked like more than anyone in StL could swallow.. at least easily….and it was….according to Forbes….the wealthiest 50 pro franchises…the #1 franchise was the Dallas Cowboys-$4.8B…following were 3 European soccer teams (Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona)..#5 was the NY Yankees @$4B..then NE Patriots…followed by two NBA teams(Knicks & Lakers-each around $3.6 & $3.3B). The Rammies are valued at $3B are in the 14th spot. To give you an idea….The Cardinals are listed at $1.9B—not making the cut-off for the top 50 franchises. It’s been a tremendous jump for the DeWitt’s though…they bought the Cards for $150m…sold the garages for $50m…and now they are worth $1.9B…that’s a B not an M any longer!! Please…the next platter

…the SLU platter arrived next….the Billikens…clearly with their best athletes in many seasons.. are improving…but still have parts of each game that are stagnant….I’d like to see Coach Ford do more as he did in the last game…less plays and more “general” approaches offensively…let the players relax and just play w/o concentrating on running to this spot or that spot..this is an adjustment for Coach Ford…who like most coaches…likes to be in total “control” throughout each game…also….the post players have been like a library drop-off slot..put it in there and it NEVER comes back occasional sharing of the ball by the post players will actually lead to them receiving MORE passes..speaking of passing…..please pass the next platter….

…the Illini football platter came  next…it looked more like liver than turkey and everyone pretended to be interested after the embarrassing 63-0 loss to Iowa but quickly passed it long….with a polite…no thank you…not moved around the table VERY quickly

…the next platter was smaller….the Final Four Platter (according to this author)….it remains Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan…. almost making this platter was Oklahoma (10-1)…only loss to #15 ranked Texas by 3 points, 48-45; Washington State (9-1)only loss to USC when game tying FG on last play was blocked and Georgia (9-1)—lost by 20 points to a ranked team (LSU).. btw…Ohio State being forced into OT to beat a 5-6 Maryland team.. that game is another “mark” against them…in my book it’s not as clean as a win in regulation..OSU lost against another .500ish team (like Purdue 5-6)..two marks against you….next plate pls..

… not a plate that many fans touch often… Mizzou women’s basketball…… is struggling in the early going of 18-19 season. This is very unusual @ Mizzou, since Head Coach Robin Pingeton arrived in 2012…the Lady Tigers have rolled out seasons of 17-15, 17-14, 19-14,22-10, 22-11, and 22-5. Very good!  This year the leading scorer, SR Sophie Cunningham, returns with a totally different looking squad.  Cunningham has ALWAYS been surrounded with strong, good players….she had it that way @ Rock Bridge HS (in Columbia) and through her 1st 3 years at CoMO…but this year….not so much….as a result, it appeared to me as I watched the Tigers lose their 1st non-conference HOME game since Dec 3, 2011 to U Wisc-Green Bay 56-49. Sure.. Amber Smith provided wonderful outside shooting but Cunningham was still 2x & sometimes 3x…so to me….she occasionally tried doing too much…leading her into mistakes.  One clear suggestion is that the players w/o the ball must move to make themselves available to Cunningham, make the 1st strong, quick pass and another teammate break “back door”….it won’t always work…but….Mizzou must give Cunningham a chance to score w/o multiple players hanging all over her….pass the plate…

..the High School platter generally is filled with info about teams that have been missed or overlooked throughout the season or week…but in this special “thanksgiving” time…it’s appropriate to show some love to one of my friends….Terry Michler.  A graduate of CBC who excelled not only in soccer (played in the winter in those days) but also football where  he was the QB. Terry held many of the CBC passing records until the run-shoot passing days emerged with 2 or 3x as many passes per game. Then, Terry went on to play professional soccer in the days when the teams “HAD” to carry 2 Americans per team. So…there were about 15 American players were in the league…Terry was one of them. Then he accepted a job at CBC.  Over the weekend, his Cadet soccer team beat DeSmet 1-0 to capture the 10th STATE soccer title for CBC and #9 for Terry. Terry has won more HS soccer games than any USA soccer coach…his unbelievable record of 990-229-106 is due to….yes…he does get good players who want to play for him.. but he constantly works on ways to improve HIS coaching..despite winning 990 games.. he takes his annual trip to Europe to learn of the “newest” approaches being used there. His training of players, knowledge and passion for the game, relationship with players all lead to this outstanding season and career….congrats…. now pass the plate….

…for the dessert platter……the SEC provided plenty of cupcakes in Week 12 …with  the likes The Citadel, Idaho, Liberty, UAB, Chattanooga and Massachusetts on the platter……this isn’t anything new for SEC teams… earlier in the season they feasted on powerhouses like  UT-Martin, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Murray State and others…trying to save space here.. the list is too long…as the once famous philosopher Ric Flair said,”to be the man…ya gotta beat the man” … not feasting on cupcakes 10-20% of your games.

…so with that…hope you’ve enjoyed this Thanksgiving  smorgasbord and wishing each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving  and T-Day weekend.

All that glitters isn’t Gold by Bob Ryan

The ol’ expression “All that glitters isn’t Gold” holds true in the sports world  too…in fact…right here in the Lou…

…Yadier Molina is without question a hero throughout StL…his durability, his ability to call the correct sequence of pitches, his relationship with pitchers—especially young ones, his increased batting ability over the years…his “hero” status ranks right up there with Stan, Red, Lou, Ozzie, Dizzy, and others….but……with all those accolades being true….his receiving of the Gold Glove is due to his glitter …not his play in 2018 …..take a look at some actual statistics from Fan Graphs…not mine…that demonstrate that Yadi is NOT the premier “catcher” of NL.

Assists…Yadi is #19 in the MLB with 42 assists

The numbers of runs above or below that the catcher was worth to his pitcher based on framing …Yadi was +1 which was put him at #29 in the MLB

Total Fielding above average …Yadi’s numbers put him at #9 in the MLB

How many runners were caught stealing  31%…that’s # 35 in the MLB

The number of RUNS below the average that the catcher was worth based on baserunner kills or baserunner advances….Yadi was at -1…which was #87 in MLB

The number of runs below the average that the catcher was for the pitchers ERA…he was -3 which put him at #7 in the MLB

Total passed balls…4 …was #9 in the MLB….and a personal note here……Yadi must get all those PB on the road…at home, his handling of low pitches..  usually to the right of him that he needs to shift his feet, bend at the waist and keep in front of him….rarely happens….those seemingly are ALWAYS called Wild Pitches by the home town official scorer.

…..Yadi did earn and deserved many gold gloves….but not in 2018.

….Baseball writer and research expert, Bill James…..really threw the baseball players out  like they were only fools gold….not gold at all….when he said this week, “baseball  players are overpaid and, when it was suggested that some were underpaid, he sarcastically said “my heart bleeds for them.” He went on to say “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on and in three years it would make no difference whatsoever.  The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.” YOU think that’s true?

….not only did he have a golden career but a golden send-off…this is the tale of Joe Maurer.

He was born in Minnesota…attended a HS in St. Paul, was drafted #1 overall by the Twins in 2001. He played his entire career in Minnesota. Mauer appeared in 1,858 games, tallying 2,123 hits and 143 home runs, and posting a slash line of .306/.388/.439 not for 1 year….but his entire career. In 2006, Maurer became the 1st full-time catcher to win a batting title. Maurer won 3 batting crowns total in his career. He was named the league MVP in 2009….only Thurman Munson, Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez have grabbed that honor as catchers. His golden sendoff was very touching…he started the game@ 1B and was greeted by his 2 daughters there. In his final AB, the ripped a double to left-center (he was a  left handed hitter) so this was so typical of his hitting style of hitting the ball where it was pitched throughout his career.  Then, for the last time, Mauer put on his catcher’s gear (first time in more than five years)  and caught one pitch from Matt Belisle before leaving  the game to a rousing ovation from the Twins fans. He has a very strong set of numbers to consider in 5 years when he becomes eligible for the HOF.  Despite the indifferent approach of most MLB fans to the Twins…. the HOF voters won’t ignore his accomplishments.  Best of all….in the “big picture”…Mauer’s  career will be remembered fondly. He was universally well-regarded by fans across the league, by his teammates, coaches, and ..even…. the media….as a consummate professional from day 1 to his final day! Congratulations to him! If there was a Stan Musial Award for professionalism, performance, gentlemanliness, plain ol’ goodness… he’d receive it.

….Coaches and organizations KNOW the golden superstars when they have one….about 46% of Pro Football HOF’ers played for just ONE team in their NFL careers!

…..Many college football coaches are hired due to their “gold”…..but often it turn out only to be glitter… look at the University of Illinois football program and litter of coaches over the past 25+ years…When John Mackovic bolted Illinois for Texas in 1991 , he had taken the Fighting Illini to 4 bowls in 4 seasons and compiled a 30-16-1 mark at Champaign…some might say that he was the last “golden” coach @ Illinois…. Lou Tepper spent 5 years there, went 25-30-1 with 2 winning seasons and a 5-5-1 season; from 1997 -2004 (8 seasons) Ron Turner went 35-57 for his tenure which included gold seasons 10-2 and 8-4 (2 bowls: next came in Ron Zook for the 2005 season ..he went thru 2011, Zook posted a 35-51…he had 3 winning seasons of his 7 seasons…all three winning years resulting in bowls…2012 saw Tim Beckmann brought in …he went 12-25 in 3 seasons….Bill Cubit lasted just 1 season…. then with golden anticipation, Lovie Smith was hired.  In his first 2 seasons, Lovie has gone 2-10 and 3-9…. clearly since Mackovic left, the program….why do they call the football team a “program”.. there’s no Frosh team, soph team, JV team….just  1 team…anyway…the Illini have left the golden stage and now find themselves buried deep in the celler….all those “golden” coaches  were hired….all turned out to be glitter…btw…..MOST …if not ALL… of the former Illini coaches would have been fired after 2016-17 seasons ….Lovie’s NFL reputation has bought him “HOLD ONTO THE JOB card”…at least for the time being.

….on the other hand, the Lou enjoyed all the golden years of Vince Coleman.  Somehow… I thought that he had spent most of his career here in the Lou…..nope…only the first 6 years when he terrified the NL with his speed…..he won the Stolen Base Crown all 6 years. From 1985-1990 Vince stole 110, 107, 109, 81, 65, 77 bases…then he left St Louis…..surprisingly to me… Vince played 7 more years in the MLB!  He played for the Mets, Royals, Reds ,Seattle and Detroit in those next 7 years….but he was never GOLDEN like he was in St. Louis. Vince changed the game….pitchers began using “slide steps”…repeated throws to 1B….”holding the ball” longer to throw off the rhythm of the runner….it was exciting for me when he got on 1B, Vince knew what he was going to do, the opposing team knew, the fans knew, everyone knew…but he stole the base anyway…and it was golden.

….I had the opportunity to attend the Blues-Sharks game on Friday night.  It was really a “golden” game…the Blues checked constantly, skated hard..the Sharks my recollection,  only had 3 or 4 times of long possessions and mild pressure on the Blues.  The Blues demonstrated some deft passing right in front of the net as the Blues players were moving while receiving or tapping in passes. Johnson was sharp in goal.  Beleaguered Blues defensemen found open teammates either horizontally or vertically to keep possession and make the transition from defense to offense smoothly. Only a few penalties… which kept the game moving along….and yes….we were in our cars by 9:40 smiling & happy over enjoying a golden Blues game…now it must be repeated…since ..we are what we repeatedly do (Plato).

…My “golden” NCAA rankings for this week….1) Bama  2) Clemson 3) ND   4) Michigan… it was brought to my attention last week that ND had beaten Michigan so how could Michigan be ranked higher….great point…so….I flip-flopped them back again. Catching my eye…but not necessarily in this order is Washington State, OU,  West Virginia, Georgia.

….Not real golden is the non-conference schedule for SEC teams. Texas A&M’s new head coach Jimbo Fisher had the pleasure of holding the mark as the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC…..Opening up with his former team, Clemson, was a top notch game…. Then they “played” powerhouses like Northwestern State, LA-Monroe, Ala-Birmingham… and this is reportedly the toughest SEC non-conference schedule in 2018?  Much more glitter than gold in the schedules of these teams.

…All the Power 5 conferences want to dodge each other in early non-conference games…. they might lose 1!!  Shouldn’t a Power 5 team that tight  loses to another Power 5 team get more value than wins over teams from much, much less talented conferences? And…if they lose by a substantial amount…they probably shouldn’t be ranked anyway. A major part of the problem is that teams draw up their schedules YEARS…almost decades…in advance. Who’s crystal ball can tell them who’ll be “good” in 10 years?   I believe that the magical number of wins (6) to qualify for a bowl MUST be wins over Power 5 conference teams….no more counting wins over D-II teams , or NW Southern Alaska type teams, or any team from Division I-AA…a team may play those type of teams….but wins would not be “counted” towards the magical number of 6 to qualify for one of the ….is it 30 bowls? Btw…way, way TOO many bowls. I’m dreaming here…..wouldn’t it be phenomenal that all of the power 5 conferences and top teams outside those conferences to form an imaginary 6th conference for scheduling purposes agreed to keep open weeks 2 & 3 for non-conference games against each other? For example, the #8 team of one conference would play the #8 team of another…#7 v #7….etc …all the way up to #1 v #1. Each team would have 1 home and 1 road game.  After the 2 year cycle ..repeat process with conferences facing different conferences in the same manner. It won’t happen because the teams at the TOP don’t want to lose their grip on the control of the arbitrary voting procedures currently in use.

….Divisional Conference Championships seem to mean very little..if anything… any longer. In the Big 10, Northwestern is on top of the Big 10 West with a 6-1 league mark. Their overall record is 6-4. The Wildcats began the season 1-3 with losses to Duke, Akron (ouch), Michigan. They’ve won 5 of the last 6 games with their only loss to ND. Weirdly, this club is 4-0 on the road and 2-4 at home (guess they don’t’ schedule any cupcakes at home). They’ve won 4 games by 4 points or less soooo.. they arent’ piling up the points with the voters of the polls. It appears that they will win the West since Minnesota and Illinois are their last 2 opponents.  Another team winning their division ..and being ignored…is the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt is on top of the ACC Coastal Division with a 6-1 conference record. Overall the Panthers are 6-4, again it was their slow start…they were 2-3 with lopsided losses to Penn State and Central Florida. Since that time they are 4-1 with wins over Syracuse (ranked), #23 Virginia, and their only loss in that time was a loss to Notre Dame who beat them in the final minutes of the game.

…Back in the day….Don Faurot ….Head Mizzou Coach/AD from 1935-1956 put Missouri “on the map” by playing a golden schedule. He was 110-80 with those wicked schedules.  His immediate successors, kept the same attitude. Typically ALL of the non-conference opponents came from …what we now call…the power 5 conferences. According to one article published in Jan 2015 using the SRS method, the Top 10  Mizzou football teams in their history are listed below:

                                       Coach                                                 record             rank            SRS

1 1969 Dan Devine 9-2 6th 23.7
2 1960 Dan Devine 11-0 5th 21.9
3 2013 Gary Pinkel 12-2 5th 20.0
4 1968 Dan Devine 8-3 9th 18.9
5 1941 Don Faurot 8-2 9th 18.9
6 1973 Al Onofrio 8-4 17th 17.1
7 2007 Gary Pinkel 12-2 4th 16.8
8 1965 Dan Devine 8-2-1 6th 16.0
9 1980 Warren Powers 8-4 15.8
10 1978 Warren Powers 8-4 15th 15.3


 Soooooo….the “golden” way now…schedule at least 3 cream puffs ..preferably 4… in the 1st month of the season…..pile up big one-sided wins….dodge any top 25 teams in non-conference teams in your “pre-season”…lose 2 or 3 conference late in the season….don’t worry about winning you’re the division of your conference….so & so’s team is always “loaded” so how can you be expected to win it??…. and …you’ll be ranked, land in a bowl close to New Years, keep the alumni, students smiling because a win is a win…doesn’t’ matter who the sacrificial lambs were in September…and all that’s fine…..but how does it make you a higher ranked team than one who DOES play challenging non-conference games and then wins their division in their power 5 conference?

Well…Rome wasn’t built in a day….so neither are these “golden” suggestions.   


Behind the Scenes by Bob Ryan

Sometimes we see “stuff’ in front of us….but sometimes…the REAL ACTION is behind the scenes where deals are done, info is spread,  ideas are planted for future harvesting, often we learn about it later..much later… about these deal….or…maybe not at all…

…Clearly the talk behind the scenes in CoMO recently about Barry Odum wasn’t flattering..or even positive… prior to the Florida game.  The Tigers….who wear a different uniform each week (why all white?-aren’t the colors black & gold?)….anyway…were very well prepared and had an outstanding game plan for the fleet footed Gators….they used running fakes then quick outside screen passes and used a running game that made the speed of Florida work against themselves …. the primary running play was a stretch play that saw the Florida defenders fighting to get outside only to see the Mizzou back cut behind his blockers and run north-south for good yards, the short passes to the TE (until he was injured) and backs out of the backfield was followed by the fake and then throwing the ball deep. Drew Lock played a terrific game in front of a national audience.  The O & D lines were better than Florida’s….and that’s where you REALLY win the game. Barry Odum did a “number” on the Florida Gators with his a approach offensively.. meanwhile Mizzou’s defense  was aided by Felipe Franks…the starting Gator QB….who threw every pass like  a fastball…. And for that matter …ran like most MLB pitchers ….his fastball  worked on down & outs and short passes….but the lack of arch on his long passes made the chances of success for the deep balls very low. Florida didn’t pull him until it was too late. The announcers commented that Franks often “got down” during a game….I don’t think that he’ll have to worry about that any longer….he won’t be in the game…to get down about his play. 

…..Interestingly, long-time  HOF baseball writer Rick Hummel gave HIS grades for the Cards field players for 2018…maybe you haven’t seen these grades previously since  they’ve been behind the scenes for most of the StL area.. Matt Carpenter- A-;  Patrick Wisdom- B;  Paul DeJong –  B; Kolton Wong- C+;  Jedd Gyorko-  C; Matt Adams-  C; Greg Garcia- D;  Yadier Molina- A+; Francisco Pena-  C;  Carson Kelly- D; Jose Martinez- A-;  Harrison Bader- B+;  Tyler O’Neill- B; Marcell Ozuna- C+, Dexter Fowler- F; Field Staff- C-.  Obviously, these grades compare actual production to the expected production…I mean Patrick Wisdom didn’t produce more than Jedd Gyorko..but he surprised most observers with his play after languishing in the minors for many years. Even before Halloween, Garcia and Francisco Pena were pushed out the door. The grade for the Field Staff must be based on the last month when the club faltered, matchups seemed less favorable for the Cards, errors in judgment about misusing or not using players were highlighted as the playoff ticket slipped away. I personally wouldn’t rate Martinez with an A-….his fielding cost us several games.

….Right out in the open…not behind the scenes …are my weekly NCAA rankings…I only go 4 deep because….how many teams make the NCAA playoffs?  FOUR!….1) Alabama  2) Clemson, 3) Michigan  4) Notre Dame….I flip-flopped ND & Michigan this week…I think Michigan is improving as the season progresses and their defense is terrific.

…Behind the scenes,  there must be concern by the MLB management….after a drop in regular season attendance, the ratings for the World Series between two of the biggest  Market teams (Boston & LA) averaged 14, 125,000/game….down 25% from last year’s 18,909,000 average viewers.  It’s the 4th lowest total EVER!  Those painfully, sllllooooowwww, long games where one sits 20-30 minutes between fleeting moments of exciting plays doesn’t appeal to many Americans…who are accustom to instant pics, news now, replays on demand, exciting plays or a fast moving contest don’t want to sit and watch guys strikeout.

….Behind the scenes, there HAS to be talk about the inept Oakland Raiders. Jon Gruden has really flopped thus far. Some whispered rumors are  that the players have quit on Gruden.. Gruden’s July quote “If I can’t get it done, I’m not going to take their money,” is starting to boomerang in his face….It’s only half a season but…the Raiders ARE really bad. There’s no pity or sympathy in the Nearly Forgotten League for the downtrodden.

…..Behind the scenes… anyone else wondering why 3 of the Brewers coaches have left their staff this off season…this coming off of a Playoff Production year?  Is it environment? the Manager?, the salary? the expectations? The management? Hmmmm?

…behind the scenes at Florida State where the pressure has mounted and all the “talk” about what a horrible hire 1st year Coach Willie Taggert has been thus far for Florida State. The Seminoles were humiliated by Clemson 59-10 and their record sank to 4-4..Taggert tried emphasizing in a press conference that he wants his players to embrace being a “Seminole”.. that’s not real inspiring for a team  who may miss a Bowl for the 1st time in 42 years!!!!  

….behind the scenes when youngsters are very, very young…their parents are often instructed to have their children specialize…don’t waste time playing other sports….it seems so foolish to me…how does one know the best sport for an 8 year old, 10 year old, even 16?…anyway…one of the all-time best NBA basketball players…Wilt Chamberlain won three straight Big Eight Titles in the High Jump and was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame… Athleticism trumps at the higher levels.

…Behind the scenes for many years in the Lou has been pro basketball….when Ben Kerner (owner of the St. Louis Hawks) declared in 1966 after the Blues opened shop.. that this city wasn’t big enough to support two winter teams, he left for Atlanta. NBA has been on the back-burner ever since… seems when a local (Larry Hughes, Bradley Beal, Jason Tatum) makes the NBA and is a significant player does one hear anything about the NBA…but.. the latest plan of the NBA could revamp college basketball. The NBA has developed its own minor league system….beginning in 2000, most of the NBA teams sponsored teams for players who weren’t in college, were 20 years old but demonstrated some possibility of playing someday in the NBA. Called the NBA-G league (because Gatorade sponsored much of it)…some 40%of NBA current players have experienced some time in the NBA-G league. The League plays a 50 game schedule, has two rounds of 1 game playoffs and then a 3 game series for the championship. Starting this year will be a new approach….18 year olds….formerly designated as the “one and done” college players…may now skip the pretend college experience where they attend class 1 semester and not much…if any .. in the 2nd semester and go directly to the NBA…Now they’d go to the NBA-G league and will be paid  $125,000 salary under a new ‘select” contract. Recent HS graduates   may only play for 1 year in this league under this new “select” clause at which time they’ll go directly into the NBA draft. Will it work?  Who knows…. It does like an effort to remove all the shoe “hush money” that gets funneled to the HS and college players. (Does anyone REALLY think that any of these big-time NCAA coaches don’t know of this going on behind the scenes? Their biggest effort is to stay clear of any way showing involvement.) It may work out that the players will still “play along” with the shoe money, get 1 year of college notoriety and THEN jump into the NBA-G league mid-season . It sounds like a step towards more openness ….but…time will tell how the system actually works out.

….behind the scenes in many cases, was the best NCAA GOW… W.Virginia 42 Texas 41. This game had TEN different lead changes, 1 tie and the winning score came with only 16 seconds left. When WVa Gary Jennings’ caught a 33 yd pass from Will Grier, that cut the Texas lead to 41-40.  Will Grier ran a bootleg for the 2 point conversion to give the  Mountaineers  the thrilling 42-41 win. This 3 hour 49 minute game was played before 100,703 people in Austin. Grier passed for 346 yards for WVa while Sam Ellinger(Tx) had 354 passing yards to his credit. WVU had 9 different receivers and a total offensive number (run+passing yards)  of 583 yards. The Longhorns were held to just 539 yards of total offense…yep…1100+ yards of total offense in this wild game.

…on the High School scene…oft behind the scenes, St. Charles West Boys Soccer team 24-1 for 2018, has assembled an outstanding season and has advanced to the Final Four of Class 2 Boys Soccer Championships with a convincing 6-1 win over Christian O’Fallon. The Warriors had a much, much tougher opening round in the STATE tourney (called Sectional) as they edged Whitfield 3-2 in OT. In that game, all 5 goals of the game were scored by just 2 players!  For Whitfield it was Tyler Arulsamy scoring both goals. SCW’s “turkey” belonged to SR Evan Eickhoff.  The leading scorers for SCW ,however,  has been the metropolitan scoring leader, SR Nick Schreiber who has a whopping 46 goals this year. Following him in scoring for the Warrriors is JR Adam Mays with 22 goals. This prolific offense has netted 115 goals this season…that’s 4.6 goals per game.  The only loss suffered by St Charles West was way back in August as they dropped a 2-1 match with Trinity. SR Keeper Logan Lingle has 10 solo shutouts and has permitted only 17 goals all season. While scoring goals and stopping goals ARE very significant, a tip of the hat to the other seniors on the team since total team play is required to win—(in alphabetical order)  Trent Champagne, Devon Emrick, Eddie Garcia, Aiden Gremminger, Clark Justin, Jason Maull, Mitch Smith. Best of luck to the Warriors,  as they take on Pembroke Hill in the STATE semifinals.

He stepped into it by Bob Ryan

In the NLCS, Manny Machado clearly stepped on the foot of the Brewer 1B….then he really stepped into it…..he was called out by the Brewers as being “dirty” since he’s done similar types of things previously… despite his prodigious power….Machado’s action …it seems to me…..relegates him to a 2nd tier type team signing him …the top tier teams probably don’t want to be sidetracked… apologizing for a “dirty” star …..does this mean that he’ll get less money… I doubt it….but I can’t see any of the current playoff teams of 2018  looking towards him to be “the guy” due to his tendency to “wake up” the other teams with his type of play. I’m thinking…he seems to be a big city guy….although he wants to be with a “winner”… I think that it could be Philadelphia, San Francisco, Mets as the front runners for his services.

….speaking of stepping into it….so now the NFL sees the trouble brewing between Kronke and the Chargers….so they float the idea of the Chargers going to StL…right!..with all the bitterness still rampant in the Lou about the move and the last 2…or is it 3..years with no NFL…people have moved on…btw.. from what I read about the Lou’s suit against Kronke/Rams…it appears that St Louis’ has a very strong set of arguments and facts…..the number being thrown around is $140 to St. Louis….that’d really be super….maybe… St Louis could step out of all their debt….pay off that dormant, ugly  Dome….and move the city forward.

….continuing in more off-season baseball…..more and more clouds are surrounding Wrigley Field…. apparently management isn’t seeing eye to eye with Joe Maddon ….but…they don’t want to “step in it” with the public. This mgmt. team HAS been aggressive in trading & signing highly skilled young players…..and currently…. management holds more cards with ownership than the field manager…the expectation was that 2018 would be another run at the Series for the Cubbies… didn’t work out that way….they were bounced out of the post-season prior to the Series….. however, it’s one thing to acquire good players….it’s another to get them to play “hard” every day….year after year……IF…probably a big IF…. they part ways….Maddon won’t be unemployed very long. It may sound strange to us about Maddon…it’s about as surprising as learning that Bill Buckner had more hits in his career than Ted Williams! Which he did!!

….Sooooo…as of Nov 1, 2018 ….the Cards 2019 rotation….at this point….seems to be Martinez, Mikolas, Flaherty, Wacha and Gomber…..Wainwright’s role?….I feel like the Cards are stepping into it with Wainwright…..I don’t believe that he can pitch effectively in relief every 2nd or 3rd day with his aging arm/elbow….although relief pitching  IS a need for all MLB teams…find 2 guys who can go 2-3 innings every 3rd day…chew up those middle innings with bridge pitchers…save those arms…sooo…if Wainwright CAN pitch…which I doubt…but for the sake of argument…let’s say that he can pitch regularly…I’d start him and make Martinez that “Bridge” man or long closer that I’ve just described. Martinez may balk because those type of guys aren’t getting paid the big bucks but….he did serve us well as a closer/reliever late in 2018. I really think that the back end of this starting rotation is only fair to middling anyway….at best….they seem like 5 inning guys. The Bullpen is the emphasis currently throughout the MLB…hope that the Cards really work hard to upgrade their pen… moving Martinez there would be a start to solving the problem.

…While many Card fans are yelling about “sign” him…or sign that guy…watch where you step……it made me think of all the stink in 2012 … right after winning the 2011 Series….when Albert Pujols left the Cards….we knew with our brain that it was the right move but our hearts tugged a different direction….looking over the past 7 years…the Angels have really stepped into it….Albert’s performance in LA looks like this in a nutshell…he’s hit 188 HR, hit 40 dingers once…over 100 rbi’s –4x, 95 once and in the 60’s twice…batting average…his 1st year as an Angel… .285..since then .272 in 2014 in the .260-.240’s all the other years…he’s been paid $153m to date by the Angels with 3 more years at $28, 29,& 30m…the ironical part is that he’s NEVER really been the “man”….Since Mike Trout arrival, Trout has been the shining star for Angels. The Cards management has been extremely careful about not “stepping into it” when it comes to free agents but currently there is more pressure on them to “bring in” a top level player which means top level salaries.

….but…the baseball season isn’t over…Boston has a 3-1 lead in the Series as I write this on Sunday morning….not only can the Red Sox knock the ball out of the ballpark…like most other teams today….they are fast and aggressive on the bases and play very good defense. I must admit that I do enjoy the games @ Fenway…it’s quirkiness around the ballpark adds a dimension of uncertainty that “spices” up the game for me. Many of those old ball parks were built in eras when the ballpark had to fit into the dimensions of a busy city….so…it wasn’t perfectly symmetrical and quite so spacious as the modern-day ballparks. The peculiarities of long-gone parks like Polo Grounds, Forbes Field, Ebbets Field brought different challenges to each game. Why don’t the Cardinals take out about 2/3 of that greenery in center field…make the walls rounded there….let’s see some triples… your thoughts on that suggestion?

…Mizzou really stepped into to it on Saturday….Dropping a heartbreaking , job killing, game to Kentucky 15-14  was devastating … when the game was extended due to a penalty on the Tigers …..but NO 1st downs offensively in the entire 2nd half for Mizzou…. unbelievable….an ill advised pass play in the 4th quarter that went incomplete and allowed Kentucky to hold onto their final time out for the last O-drive when the coaching staff decides to “fool” the opponent with a “safe”  pass (that went incomplete) and not follow the “norm” of making the opposition use up all their time outs…I’ve coached a long time…my good teams ….somehow found a way to win….my poor teams always found a way to lose…sometimes very creatively … like Mizzou just did…clearly Mizzou can play with these teams…. but …..can they beat them? What mighta been, coulda been…shoulda been…..hasn’t happened.

….clearly Mizzou’s game was the most exciting of the day….at #2 for the day, was the thrilling #14 Washington State ‘s late FG to beat #24 Stanford 41-38.  When the  Cougars (7-1, 4-1)fell behind 28-14 in the 1st half, the Cougars didn’t seemed fazed. QB Gardiner Minshew put the Cougars on his back….he was 40 of 50 passing, 438 yards passing, 3 TD passes and involved 10 different receivers!  He completed his first 19 passes of the 2nd half!  Even when Stanford tied the game 38-38 with a 1:25 left in the game, Minshew felt confident that his club would score again. The big play on the drive was a 35 yard completion to Jamire Calvin on a 3rd & 2 situation. Minshew advanced the ball to the 24 with 1 more pass. Then..Blake Mazza….attempting his FIRST ever game winning kick…. booted a 42 yarder for the winning score. Washington State has now knocked off ranked teams in back-back weeks for the 1st time since 2002 and with only 1 loss and are on top of the conference.

….I can hear it already…there’s got to be 2 SEC teams in the final four of NCAA football championships. My top 4 college football teams at this moment…Alabama, Clemson, ND, Michigan. How can some polls still have Ohio State #9 after being swamped by an unranked team? Michigan’s loss was to #3 ranked ND by one score. Oklahoma’s only loss was to #15 Texas by 3 points.

….I’m not a hockey expert….just a hockey fan…but even I can tell that something is wrong with the Blues…. Sure… they beat the Hawks by scoring 7 goals on Saturday…but…how often are they going to do that?..most of the team looks slow to me…especially the defensemen…..Jake Allen may not be the best….but he’s had many…way too many….easy shots against him….. I see Mike Yeo yelling frequently now …don’t remember him yelling at all last year…..the  open shots for the opposing teams must be eliminated if the Blues want to succeed….I don’t know  if Glen Hall was in the nets that he’d do any better… with those “good looks”….these NHL scorers WILL put it into the net. I’m getting tired of hearing, “we gotta give effort throughout the entire game”… That’s ridiculous…of course they do…that’s a minimum expectation for any professional. ..or even an amateur…or even a youth sports member… ALWAYS give your best effort!  Maybe…our players simply aren’t good enough…it seems to me the passionate Blues fans have a hard time…very hard time… saying that simple statement. Unfortunately…it’s really a shame … since Enterprise stepped into this situation and basically “saved” the Blues. Let’s hope that the Blues can tighten up on this home stand. However…..I see the lynching crowd forming for Yeo…you can’t fire the entire team….he might be walking the long green mile …oops…the long blue mile shortly.

…the Billikens Basketball team is “stepping up” …not into it….chosen in pre-season as the top team in the A-10..the Billikens have Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Houston and Florida State coming into town for non-conference games in 18-19 season. This is a huge upgrade in non-conference opponents. It should be an exciting season.

…Lane Kiffin has stepped into it….he’s at Florida Atlantic now….after a recent loss t Louisiana Tech 21-13 he lamented, “We killed ourselves… but it’s just ridiculous, you know, the things we do.”…11 penalties, a pair of turnovers that dropped Owls record to 3-5….this is a bit ironical when one looks @ Kiffin’s coaching career which has been slipping down the coaching totem pole throughout his career….after several positional coaching positions, he was hired as HEAD coach of the Oakland Raiders by Al Davis in Jan, 2007…gone by Jan, 2008…in Nov 2008 hired as HEAD Coach Tennessee Feb 2009…before he even coached a Volunteer game…he accused Urban Meyer of illegal recruiting, ‘”I’m going to turn Florida in right here in front of you,” Kiffin told the booster breakfast crowd. “As Nu’Keese (Richardson) was here on campus, his phone keeps ringing. And so one of our coaches is sitting in the meeting with him and says, ‘Who is that?’ And he looks at the phone and says, ‘Urban Meyer.’ Just so you know, you can’t call a recruit on another campus. But I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn’t get him.” Interestingly, it was Kiffin who was rebuked because he used the actual name of a recruit. Urban Meyer escaped without a scratch. On Jan 12, 2010 Kiffin bolted for USC. After a couple successful years, he was fired on Sept 28, 2013 when his club was 0-2….then slipping back to the Coordinator level…he was hired as Offensive Coordinator @ Bama in Dec 2013.  Florida Atlantic hired him on Dec 12, 2016. He went 11-3 in his 1st year(17)…but it seems to an outsider….that he’s a “flash in the pan” where ever he goes….yet….”it’s  just ridiculous the things we do”…I’d say that about his career … btw….the name “Kiffin” may be familiar to you….his Dad…Monte Kiffin was a long-time Defensive Coordinator in the NFL, making his fame @ Tampa Bay.

….last week, while MO high school football was playing in the 1st round of districts with most games being terrible mismatches (#8 vs #1 and #7 vs #2 in district) scores like 83-0, 90-6, 86-0, 63-0, 61-0, 62-0, 64-0 are found in the unfortunate one-sided massacres that took place….again I suggest….only the top 4 football teams should be entering into the district competition for the State Title. Let the other “also rans” finish the season with some dignity and play teams with similar records (e.g. #7 vs #8, #5 vs #6). We use a mercy rule during the game….why can’t we use the mercy rule in scheduling? The contention that the teams will miss out on district play is egregious. With the new point system seeding the teams through the first 9 weeks of the season, each game IS part of a district ranking….i.e. competition … these less talented teams have ALREADY competed in the district standings.

….Meanwhile there were cross-country districts across Missouri on Saturday. Last week we highlighted in depth the spectacular Festus XC team….well…it was no fluke…Festus ran away…pardon the pun… with the Class 3 District 1 Title with the tiny score of 24 points. Herculaneum was a distant 2nd place with 59 points. Herky has been a very strong XC program for decades. Festus captured six of the first 9 places…..winning the meet was Maxwell McDaniel with a time of 15:53.94. Teammate Alec Whitener,  was 4th @16:46.57, in 5th spot was Simon Ogle  16:59.77, at #6 it was Jonah Krieg 17:05.34, at #8 was Garrett Rhine,17:20.20 and the 6th runner on the team finished 9th Dominik Kayser @ 17:23.64. The final member of the team finished at 15th place Trenton Childress 17:37.23. Seven runners in the top 15 of a District Meet…WOW! Congrats again to this outstanding team!! Remember….only the points of the top 5 runners count towards the team total. Clearly they are the favorites to win the Class 3 title. Now it’s time for me to run away…not as fast as the Festus runners…. without “stepping in it”


MLB – Both sides of their mouth by Bob Ryan

So….the MLB is upset about coaches stealing signs of opposing coaches by using technology…”it’s changing the game” they say……really (did you sense the sarcastic tone)? First of all, how many signs are given these days….I can’t imagine that there are many “take” signs, steal signs, hit & run signs, bunt (what a lost art) signs….the only sign I sense that maybe given is HR SWING sign or…maybe its  tighten your batting glove sign…or step out sign…that aside….the MLB themselves have already changed baseball by using technology.  On almost appeals, managers perch on the top step while some guy uses technology back in the clubhouse to watch the replay, THEN signals the manager to appeal or not appeal……THAT has really changed the game….but we don’t’ hear about the game being changed… as it certainly has been… by the appeals.. instead it’s because… allegedly…signs are being stolen from a coach who’s biggest responsibility in these days seems…is to put out his hand as a HR batter circles the bases.  MLB’s concerns for use of technology seems outdated …it’s not going away….and is like trying to put Pandora back into her box.  It’s here….if they steal signs…so be it.  If the offense believes that their signs are being stolen… change the signs….IF you’re actually using signs…’s not rocket science.

….Along the “appeal Process” lines….I’ve proposed that if an appeal is incorrect….make the team that lost the appeal, lose an out…the 1st batter of next inning is out….that idea was supported by the announcers of the Brewers-Dodgers game in Friday nights game as they said….”go ahead, appeal that play….what do you have to lose?” on a play that was a “stretch”. The particular ruling supported the umpires call. The announcer then made a very poignant comment,”Appeals have changed…originally it was to correct clear mistakes….now it’s used frequently for the tiniest possibility that an umpire mistake MAY have occurred”.  Secondly, make the manager appeal immediately using their own eyes…like the umpires do…make the appeal immediate!!

….while we’re thinking of ways to help baseball improve….move these baseball games along faster…. Sometimes I think watching paint dry would be a quicker process. The games are TOO long. On my most recent trip to a Cardinal game…we left at 10:00pm and were a part of a huge contingent of fans doing the same thing…leaving. The sad part is that the game was only in the 7th inning…ugh. If the MLB is wondering why they’re losing fans….bring some speed into the game…..less appeals (hopefully none), shorten time between innings (run your ads on the screen during the inning like they do online), less pitching changes….must we see a minimum of 5 pitchers EVERY game, eliminate many batters stepping out to “tighten” their batting gloves after every pitch…or almost every pitch…I mean…how loose can it get when you don’t swing?… deepen the ballparks give us runners flying around the bases, isn’t a triple more exciting than just another home run? The dip in MLB attendance in 2018 was the lowest average since 2003….there are many more people in the USA since 2003…and the attendance is going down… you remember the astronauts, “Houston, we have a problem” remark…same here.

…btw…how do you eliminate the use of so many pitchers?….make the minimum requirement for a pitcher to face 3 batters not just 1 batter….or until the end of the inning…whichever comes first. So a new pitcher could start the new inning…also, make it 5 warmup pitches not 8 between innings and for new pitchers coming into the game.

MLB  Playoff Thoughts

….Boston and Houston clearly have the two best teams in the MLB to my eyes. Two very good teams but only one can advance out of the AL and Boston did win 108 games in the regular season(that’s winning 2 of every 3 games throughout the entire season)..while Houston won 103. That doesn’t guarantee that the Red Sox will win the Series. If the Series was 21 games long…..please don’t….I don’t want games until Thanksgiving…. the better team would win more often.

….Dodgers won the NLCS by beating the Brewers 5-1. The Dodgers really did overcome many obstacles in 2018. Falling behind 1-0 when Christian Yelich blasted Walker Buehler 8th pitch of the night into the bullpen in right center, the Dodgers scored 2 runs in the 2nd when Manny Machado bunted with 2 strikes for a base hit…it was followed by a Cody Bellinger HR into the 2nd deck in right field. Star Brewer reliever, Josh Hader silenced the LA bats for 3 innings. Once he was gone, the LA offense came back to life. Max Muncy & Justin Turner singled and Yasiel Puig hit  a 3-run dinger to make it 5-1…done..over…LA to the series….this is the same LA team that started the season 16-26…at one time was 9 games behind the league leader. LA had other issues…2x All-Star Corey Seager played only 26 games then had Tommy John surgery. Justin Turner didn’t really start hitting until August. Clayton Kershaw had back issues that caused him to miss starts in the rotation. Closer Kenly Jansen suffered through a recurrence of a heart problem. All teams have “issues”….but only 2 get to the World Series. Dodgers survived.

…on the other side…..The Milwaukee Brewers DID set the table properly for game 7 but it just didn’t work out. Milwaukee nursed 2 innings out of reliever Corbin Burnes in game 6 to save the premier relief pitcher Josh Hader and Joakim Soria for game 7…how many teams have given up on Soria?…can you imagine the Cards using the same pitcher in the 8th AND the 9th? Btw… preparing for their run, the Brew Crew brought in veterans … Jonathan Schoop, Mike Moustakas, Soria….for the tense stretch run. The Cards stayed “put” and yet claim to be making a genuine run for the playoffs??!! It didn’t work out in a trip to the Series for the Brewers this year but they must be considered to be a contender in the NL Central division title in 2019…along with the Cubs….ball is in the Cards court now.

…did anyone else notice the Oakland A’s won 97 games this year…and made the playoffs! They won only 75 games in 2017!! WOW…what an improvement! I chronicled their salary base about a month ago….it’s incredible….you have to tip your hat to Billy Bean….

NCAA Football Games of the Week…..

…..usually, I look for close, exciting NCAA games….but not this week….the huge Purdue 49-20 upset of Ohio State was stunning….I happened to begin watching this game early in the game. (I must admit I was flipping between 2 or 3 NCAA games continually…why watch commercials?… but Purdue-OSU got most of my attention) The Boilermakers destroyed the Buckeyes defense. This upset came from a team that hasn’t been in the AP top 25 since 2007! Purdue scored 35 points in the 2nd half as OSU had no answer…. Purdue made Ohio State one dimensional with their large lead—Buckeyes threw 72 passes. I must admit that I was “rooting” for Purdue….seeing Urban Meyer on the sidelines looking puzzled, upset and disappointed didn’t bother me at all. Ohio State is now OUT of the running for the Final Four sweepstakes in my eyes. Losing badly to a non-ranked team is not a hurdle that the committee can jump over …just because it’s Ohio State. Meanwhile, Purdue has dedicated their season To Tyler Trent, a student with terminal cancer. He’s formed a close bond with the team and he was “on hand” to watch the biggest win in years for Purdue. It’s a real special story!

….if you like offense…watch the Big 12 games….I turned on Oklahoma & TCU. Those teams went up and down the field like in was “touch” football in the back yard. OK won it 52-27. Every year the Big 12 features several offensive-minded teams….Oklahoma(6-1) & TCU are always in that collection of team. This year, it was the Sooners flying up and down the field. Kyler Murray (OU QB)  was 19 of 24 for 213 yards and two different backs EACH rushed for over 100 yards! Kennedy Brooks rushed for 168 yards in 18 carries and Trey Sermon 17 times for 100 yards. This matchup was a rematch of the BIG 12 conference championship last year. The momentum went back & forth until midway in the 3rd when TCU trailing 31-27 after booting a FG. From that point on…it was Boomer Sooner all the way

….Blues start

As I Mentioned 2 weeks ago….just get into the playoffs…don’t worry about being the top team. That being said…the Blues were playing badly in the first 5 games…they didn’t seem to be able to clear the puck….couldn’t seem to find the center-iceman…couldn’t score….looked slow….sitting the 35 year old Jay Bouwmeester as a healthy scratch seemed to send the message to the team. I’m sure it also sent one to Bouwmeester…35 years old…..16 seasons, 1161 hockey games in his career….the Blues were better…much better…without him than with him.

What High School sport?

In a sport hardly EVER mentioned….there was a truly outstanding performance by the Festus Cross Country team recently….for you sports fans that aren’t familiar with XC….the first 5 runners of your 7 runners in “big” meets that cross the finish line for a team have their spot in the finish added together…the lowest score wins.  Occasionally….but not often in a dual meet…one team will shut out the other…that means their runners finished 1-2-3-4-5 = 15 points. In the Jefferson County Conference meet recently. Festus won the conference meet including several schools with a meager 19 points! REALLY amazing…the Festus runners finished #1 Maxwell McDaniel  #3 Simon Ogle  #4 Alex Whitener; #5 Johah Krieg; #6 Garrett Rhine #7 Dominic Kayser and #8 Trenton Childress…WOW…7 of the first 8 places … the 2nd place team Herculaneum had 56 points! Congrats to the Festus XC program and these individual runners….in case you’re wondering….yes…I did run XC but nothing like these fact it was so long ago that the XC races in those days were just 2 miles…unlike the current 5K of today. Thank Goodness.

High School Football…

This was the final week (#9) of the regular season. Through a point system based on all 9 games, all the Missouri teams are seeded in an 8 team district.  The #8 team of each district plays #1 this Friday, #2 vs #7….generally, those are really, really mismatched games. Nothing positive in those games… suggestion is to have the #5 team play the #6 seed and #7 play #8 seed in games outside of the State Tournament.  That way, those teams will compete in a competitive game in their final game of the year. ….let’s be honest….#5 teams and below are NOT contenders for the STATE championship. I know it…you know it….the players and coaches know it.    Also, it would shorten the season by a week…which no longer has to be stretched out to Turkey Day weekend…just to play in the Dome. This idea would help both winning and non-winning teams.

HS FOOTBALL GAMES OF SHAME from this weekend in MO and nearby Illinois games…winning team scores 60+ points and losing team 7 or less points

Carlinville 66 Greenville 0; Blair Oaks 65 California 7; Sarcoxie 62 Ash Grove 6;  Pierce City 61 Pleasant Hope 0


Swamped by the Tide by Bob Ryan

Having the opportunity to watch the entire Mizzou-Bama football game yesterday, many thoughts flooded into my head….

…no one ….aside maybe from… maybe….a hard partying Mizzou fan after hours of celebrating….. Expected Mizzou to beat Alabama… but the hopes were that it’d be “competitive”… the 1st quarter kept those hopes alive

…Bama’s outside receiver speed was too much for our secondary…well designed slant patterns isolated the defenders for those speedsters….which were used repeatedly in the 1st half

…to me…Missouri demonstrated a strong, powerful running game through much of the first half….you can’t run much being down 3 or 4 TD’s so it sagged in the 2nd half..

….I thought that Mizzou’s defense hit “hard”, ran to the ball well. The front four defensively and the LB corp seem solid against the run. I do think that some of the hits bordered on being “late” hits. The removal of a player for “targeting” was an example of this type of play.

…Mizzou plays hard….real hard….and must be acknowledge in a very positive  way… somehow though… I sense that they are a bit undisciplined.  It’s my experience that if a team isn’t Disciplined….disciplined deep down…when things start to go poorly in a game….they fall apart in a hurry.  Look at the S. Carolina game…I rest my case.

…..Drew Lock does have a strong arm…no doubt about it. It’s his feet…..he doesn’t seem to be able to throw well while moving. Also, the many QB drills used to develop the QB foot skills of moving 2 steps this direction, then 2 another direction, than another to avoid a pass rush (used so well by most NFL QB’s….who’s goal is to stay alive)…is not part of Lock’s arsenal.  You don’t have to be a “runner” but rather a QB that can elude deftly the d-line pressure and STILL make a good pass. Personally, I don’t think that this guy isn’t a 1st round pick…and I’d question if he’s a 1st day pick due to his throwing while moving deficiencies.

…Nick Saban….Alabama already had the foundation in place….it’s been there since the great Paul “Bear” Bryant made Alabama into a powerhouse.  Saban learned his craft under the Don James.  James may NOT have won national championships (he was best known for his work @ Washington)…but he could coach.. and teach others to Coach. It was James (while at Kent State in 1973) who  suggested.. actually insisted…that Saban should join his staff.  Saban didn’t jump at the chance…he was reluctant…his thoughts were that he’d join his Dad in the car business….Saban declined James’ offer despite being flattered…then James played the card that Saban couldn’t trump….James pointed out that Saban’s wife still had a year in college remaining…. why not stay and coach..and then the journey began for Coach Nick Saban. Saban realizes that now,” I would never be a coach, never be sitting here as a coach if it wasn’t for Don James,” Saban said years ago “And I’ve tried to take a lot of the philosophical things that he does when it comes to creating values for players, not only how you develop on the field, but how you develop them as people.” Btw….Saban NOW realizes that it was a good choice as he said,” “I was always around cars and probably would have gone to some place to learn how to be in the car business, some kind of way,” Saban said. “And I think that when my mind does drift, I often times thank Coach James for this job, because every car dealer that I’ve ever had or known all wants to be a coach. So I think he headed me in the right direction.” Saban’s career has taken him as head coach to Toledo, Cleveland Browns, Michigan State, LSU (won a national title), Miami Dolphins(sub .500) and finally…his final spot….Alabama. He’s now tied the Bear with 6 National Titles…..but he doesn’t walk on water – but he DOES bring in top level assistants to continue to evolve his game and his approach… He’s gone through a myriad of offensive coordinators with different approaches and adapted along the way. His offense has evolved into the free wheeling, passing offense that is now accepted as the “norm” in college football. ..and yet….his 2 QB system of last year had 1 passing QB and 1 running QB.  Now that takes some skill to balance that difference in approaches. Remember when Mizzou’s defensive line was so good under Coach Gary Pinkel?  Who was the D-Line Coach….Craig Kuligowski…Kuligowski left the staff of Coach Odum to go to Miami U….and now….he’s the associate Head Coach @ Alabama…and of course the D-Line coach.  Top assistant coaches are a prerequisite for any successful program.  Does Mizzou have “top level” assistants?…which is the responsibility of the Head Coach to procure.

…Mizzou—has 6 games remaining in the 12 game schedule…Memphis are took Central Florida to the limit on Saturday. Actually, I think will work in Mizzou’s favor….playing them the week AFTER a big emotional game. #18 Kentucky and  @#14 Florida follow. Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas are all winnable games…but probably not as easy as some thought a few weeks ago (like me)

…btw….I wish these announcers wouldn’t keep throwing out “how fast” coaches are reaching win plateaus.  Playing 12 regular season games,followed by Post season conference games, bowls or final 4 games takes a team/coach up to 15 games a year.  For decades, teams played 10 games and a much smaller percentage of teams played in a bowl… Heck, good coaches SHOULD  have more wins with  15 possible games as opposed to 11 over several years ago.

Two other exciting NCAA football games….

…..the upset Specialist—Pittsburgh—put up a valiant, terrific, inspired effort but fell to Notre Dame in a game that went right down to the wire. ND is now 7-0 but they had to come from behind to snatch this win. Pitt…relying on their strong run game scored on a 1st possession—which was a thing of beauty…. 17 plays, 88 yards, six first downs, consuming 9:43 of the clock and ending with Quadree Ollison taking a direct snap, faking an end-around handoff and running into the end zone on second-and-goal from the Irish 9. Later in the 1st half,  a 99 yard KO return by Maurice French and had a 14-12 until the 4th quarter. QB Ian Book found Miles Boykin with only 5:43 remaining in the game to put the Irish up 19-14.  The last 5 minutes had several emotional changes…at one point Pitt’s QB Kenny Pickett scrambled around pressure… advanced forward….then retreated a-apparently thinking that he was close to the LOS…he completed the pass for a key first down. However, on review….1st noticed by the ND announcers,…Pickett had passed the LOS so it was an illegal pass….5 yards & loss of down. Coach Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers were looking to upset an AP top-five team for the third straight season after knocking off No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley during the 2016 season and No. 2 Miami last November in Pittsburgh. This game brought back memories of the 2012 game when Notre Dame beat Pitt 29-26 in thrilling overtime game.

…another exciting…albeit rainy…. game that caught my attention was the UCF-Memphis game.  The Tigers jumped out to a 27-7 over the #10 ranked UCF. When TD Gabriel Davis got behind the Memphis defense for a 74 yards TD strike from McKenzie Milton @ the10:45 of the 2nd quarter making it 17-14, you thought that Memphis’ bubble had been popped… sir….the Tigers made it 30-14 with just 2:04 remaining in the first half. When UCF’s Matthew Wright kicked a 44 yard FG to cut the lead to 30-17…it still didn’t feel like a rally was on the horizon. UCF Head Coach Josh Heupel gambled in the 3rd quarter. On a 4th and short, his team stood a yard or 2 behind the LOS…came quickly to the LOS went straight to their stance…with a power backfield. They faced a loaded defensive alignment with all 11 defenders within 4 yards of the ball.  Behind a strong offensive line surge and the lead block of his 300lb+ FB (who actually knocked down the LB)Taj McGowan used the push at the point of attack, burst into the open and outran the secondary to make it a 30-24 game as one could feel Memphis losing hold of the game. Early in the 4t quarter, UCF took possession at th UCT 26.  Two passes for first downs by Mackenzie Milton kept the drive going for the Knights. Milton closed out the drive with a 7 yard TD run…the PAT made it 31-30. Memphis would get the ball 3 more times but couldn’t even get close enough for a FG attempt. This was Central Florida’s closest win after coasting in their first 4 wins…included in the list is a 45-14 win over Pittsburgh…note the game above for Notre Dame against Pittsburgh!  UCF has no chance…in my opinion…of making the final 4 NCAA playoffs…even if they go undefeated again(they’ve won 17 straight! Their remaining schedule is Temple, Navy, U of Cincinnati, So Florida. They aren’t in a power 5 conference soooo…..what do they do. The good teams won’t schedule them because they might lose!! I’m asking…how can an outsider get into that final four when schedules are drawn up YEARS in advance?  I’m suggesting….but it’ll never happen….that NCAA schools wipe out their future schedules for the first 2 weeks of the season….let the good teams find other good teams to play…maybe even conference challenges (like in basketball)  a SEC-Big 10 challenge; or PAC 12-BIG 12, ACC-Indpendent for 2 years …then after 2 years modify which conference would play each other….like SEC-PAC 12 or…whatever…it should would be better than the MO State’s of the world being sacrificial lambs  and becoming fodder just for $$$ so the “big boys” can get a W.

If one listed the top 10 of the NCAA…..without considering their pre-season rank, how many players will go to the Pros, what they did last year, the Coach’s pedigree….simply by which teams have beaten the best teams…or losing in a very tight game to another highly ranked team… ONLY that as a  factor… since the committee doesn’t’ want to use a analytics system of points on a computer..let’s break it down to who have you beaten..take away the names…then look at how they look..who’ve they played to this point, how they’ve won the games….go ahead …rank the teams….

Here’s the data…their record, which conference their opponent competes, record of that opponent now and the score….rank them now. I’ll let you know later which teams that are represented here.

Team ABC (7-0) beat SEC team (3-4) 22-17, beat an ACC team (3-3) 56-27, beat a Big 10 team( 6-1) 24-17, beat MAC team(3-4) 24-16, beat an ACC team (3-4) 19-12, beat a Pac 12 team (4-2) 38-17, beat a ACC team (4-2) 45-23, best 3 teams with winning records…most of any of the top 4 teams.

Team XYZ (7-0)  beat a Sun Belt (5-1) team 48-7, beat an SEC team(5-2) 28-26, beat a Southern Conf team (2-3) 38-7; beat an ACC team (4-2)27-23, beat a ACC team (3-3) by score of 63-3, beat an ACC team (1-6) 49-21..played 2 .500+ teams for power 5 conferences

Team  QQQ (7-0) has beaten a ACC team (2-5), a SEC team(5-2), Sun Belt team 3-4, SEC team(5-2), Sun Belt team(3-3),  one SEC team(1-6) & SEC team(3-3)… so  they’ve beaten two teams with winning records

Team NNN(7-0) .. beat PAC 12 team (1-5) 77-31, Big 10 team (1-6) 52-3, Big 12 team (3-3) 40-28, Big 10 team (3-3) 30-14,American Conf  team(2-4) 49-6,  Big 10 team (4-3) 49-26, Big 10 team (4-2) 27-26..played 2 teams with winning records

Go ahead ….rank them…

High School Game of the Week points out the importance of the kicking game…especially when the teams are so evenly matched.  Ft Zumwalt North came into their game against Timberland as one of the undefeated teams in the area. It was a terrific game…close from start to end. They are 2 of the top 3 teams in the GAC Central Conference. North scored the only points of the 1st quarter on a 6 yard run by Joel Hilliard, the PAT by Owen Sears made it 7-0.  Timberland tied it up at the 11:21 mark of the 2nd quarter with a 36 yard pass from Cole Martin to Jarrett Wilson. North answered. Joel Hilliard found Isiah Hartup on a 38 yard score. The PAT kick  attempt was unsuccessful. Timberland scored again late in the 2nd (0:24) on a 10 yard pass from Martin to Brett Hiatt. Parker Brown converted the PAT. It was 14-13. The game…and momentum… kept going back and forth. Zumwalt scored…tried a running extra point which failed. Timberland scored the next 2 TD’s but missed their 2-point pass attempt on the 1st score of the 3rd quater.  So Timberland held a  27-25 lead after 3 quarters. Cole Martin scored the next TD of the game for Timberland, who now held a 34-25 lead after the PAT. Zumwalt N kept fighting , scored  when Grant Latina caught a 68 yard pass from Joel Hilliard less than a minute later.  The defense of both teams stepped up in the last 7 minutes of the game and neither team scored again. Timberland held onto a thrilling 34-32 conference win and knocked FZN from the ranks of the unbeaten.

…Special Tip of the HS hat to Notre Dame Softball team who won the Lutheran South softball district. The Rebels edged Ursuline Academy 4-2 in the Championship game. The 3 district wins raised ND’s record to 11-11-1 for the season. They came a long way from the 1-6 start to the season! Notre Dame  drove home the winning runs  in the top of the 7th inning when Soph Allison Kaiser lined a base hit to center field driving home two runs. That made the score 4-2…which was the final score. Kaiser was EXACTLY the batter than Notre Dame wanted at the plate. She holds the 11th highest average in the entire St.  Louis Area at! Ursuline, who also was a surprise in the District, knocked off Affton 15-8 to reach the Championship Game of District. Urusuline scored 10 runs in the 7th inning for an unbelievable comeback in the semifinals. Congrats to both teams!!

 ….yea…yea….I know that baseball is still going on….hope they finish soon….spring training opens up in just over 3 months  ….some random thoughts about the playoffs and players…

….Cards aren’t just chasing the Cubbies….the Brewers have assembled a good team.

….If I lived in Chicago and was a Cubs fan…I would have been thrilled to hear the Cubs GM upset with their play…sure they won 95 games but he felt that they didn’t have their foot to the metal at all times..contrast that with…. our usual…..we’re staying the course dance.

…I’m actually sorry that Adam Wainwright is returning…I’m afraid that not much good will come of it.

…So…..we got the “dog” of the Miami OF….Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna

….Clayton Kershaw isn’t the same any more…..he’s lost something….which happens to ‘em all

…I don’t think that Jeff Gyorko will be a Cardinal next year…but what will we do…what can we do… with Fowler?

Poll results–  Team QQQ is Alabama; Team XYZ-Clemson; Team NNN is Ohio State; Team ABC is Notre Dame  …thanks for the read… Bob



Blues & Hockey by Bob Ryan

The Blues 2018-19 season just opened up…..the 50+ year quest for the Stanley Cup will resume for our Boys in Blue…..1st ….a wider perspective of the sport of hockey….

Hockey has many unique qualities…..of course, it’s the only sport played on ice…it’s the only sport that allows substitutions “during” a play…’s the only sport that permits….and actually encourages …. fights during their contests…it’s the only sport that each game one team or the other will being competing against the other team with an unequal number of players….aside from pool & bowling…it’s the only sport that the competitors line up in a pyramidal shape (1-2-3)

….our Blues are one of 12 NHL teams who have NEVER hoisted up the Cup and we hold the dubious distinction of  having the longest streak of Cup-less seasons…we have been in the finals  but have NEVER won a single game in the Championship Series. Those dozen teams are:

St. Louis Blues,  Buffalo Sabres,  Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks,

Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets,

Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vegas Golden Knights

Ottawa Senators .

However Hockey isn’t alone in the Pro Sports World  that has a bountiful number of teams seeking the “holy grail” of their sport…Football…. sometimes thought of as having “more” balance than the other pro sports…..also has 12 teams who have NEVER won the Super-Bowl in their history –The Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, Titans and Vikings have not won a Super Bowl.  These 4 teams have NEVER …ever…even reached  the Super Bowl…. Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans. The Browns & Lions have been around long before the Super Bowl.

…Most of the MLB franchises who have NEVER won the World Series have less than 50 years of efforts…6 MLB franchises  have never won a world series—1)Colorado Rockies, founded in 1993, only 1 Series appearance; the 2) Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots…had their start in 1969 in Seattle. Brewers lost to Cards in 1982 Series. 3) San Diego opened up their gates in 1969..they’ve been to 2 World Series…1984—lost to Detroit 4-1 and 1998 swept by Yankees.4) Tampa Bay Rays

The newest team on this list, the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays) have made it to just 1 World Series. Founded in 1998, the Rays lost 4–1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series.   5) Texas Rangers..founded in 1961 as Washington Senators before moving to Arlington Texas in 1972, the Rangers lost the 2010 series to the Giants and the 2011 MIRACLE SERIES to the St Louis Cardinals …sometimes thought of as the David Frese Series  6)Washington Nationals–originally the Montreal Expos from 1969–2004—neither team has ever won a NL Pennant or an NL Championship Series…much less a World Series..

….back to hockey….the Blues ALWAYS have always been blessed with a  very emotional, loyal  fan base that backs them in a strong way.  This year is no exception. The acquisitions of Ryan O’Reilly and Patrick Maroon seemed spectacular and had the base buzzing. . Reacquiring David Peron and snatching Tyler Bozak received some applause. The Blues base was excited until… until…. the season actually began…the Blues have permitted 5 goals in each of the 1st two games and failed to win either of them.  Goalie Jake Allen …who was up & down last year…..needs a tight defense…yet to be seen… and forwards willing to back check and score.  Now….it’s just 2 games… would we be thinking Cup finals if we’d won games 1 & 2…..maybe some would ….come on….as shown in recent years…just get in the playoffs being healthy, playing your best hockey and have a “hot” keeper….then the real season begins….these first 82 games and 6 months are the elimination series ….eliminate the bottom half of the teams…just get into the playoffs. LGB!

….watch out for those numbers….. those lying numbers….I’m sure that you’ve heard that sometime in your life…..especially when the percentages are used to convince you of a point….every couple weeks, the STL Post-Dispatch  runs a brief note about the Rams viewers in the StL and LA market… the inference …at least to me…is that  STL is really close to LA in viewing numbers…..they use percentages….be careful…so the last note that I found said that according to Nielsen on the Thursday night game, the LA market had11.6%   of viewership while the Lou was right there with them at 9.2%…..taking a wider view…that means….that about 1.2 m people watched the Rams in LA that day while  260,000 saw the same game in StL….if you were a sponsor…where would you rather be? 

College Football…

…Mizzou really needed that win over S. Carolina…they led 23-14 at half…won just about every statistical category for the game(total yards, Pass Yds, Run yds, 1st downs, time of possession) but a horrific  3rd quarter…being outscored 17-0 …Mizzou rallied…retook the lead in the 4th quarter but just couldn’t get the big play defensively and lost late.. Their wins over Purdue (2-3), Wyoming (2-4) and UT Martin (1-4) don’t make us feel that good any longer but they ARE wins…3 of the next 4 games (Bama, Memphis, Kentucky & Florida) will be challenging. The final 1/3 of the season, Vandy, Tenn, Arkansas should be 3 W’s. I predicted 7 wins….I think that I’m still on track…

NCAA football scores of note this week…

…It was incredible!!! Iowa St (2-3) upends Oklahoma State (4-2) 48-42…3rd string QB Brock Purdy…who was only “guaranteed” one series some time during the game …completed 18 of 23 passes for 318 yards, 4 TD’s. Purdy is a true Freshman and had played just 1 series previous to this OK St game. Purdy replaced Zeb Noland…who had started the last 4 games after season-opening QAB Kyle Kempt was injured in game 1. Making it even more amazing….the Cyclones began the day last in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5ppg) and 122 of 130 in NCAA scoring!

…Texas A&M (4-2) knocked Kentucky (5-1) from the unbeaten ranks with a 20-14 Overtime win.  In the 1st possession of the OT, Kentucky FG attempt bounced off the cross bars! Texas A&M scored on a 10 yard run by Trayveon Williams…no PAT attempt was needed or  tried. The Aggies used an airtight defense throughout the entire game that permitted just 153 total yards for Kentucky. It was the 1st signature win for Jimbo Fischer @ AM

High School Game of the Week…

The MICDS Rams(6-1)  rallied and scored 11 points inside the last 3 minutes of the game against Westminster Christian Academy (3-4). WCA scored the first 2 touchdowns of the game on runsby  LJ Minner and Atlin Hall to grab a 14-0 lead at the 9:14 mark of the 2nd quarter. The Rams answered with 2 TD’s of their own before half…both coming through the air. Thomas Niedringhaus caught a 32 yard strike and Graham Bundy Jr snatched an 81 yard pass. Both TD’s were thrown by Reagan Andrew. The 2nd PAT attempt failed. WCA added to their lead with another run by Hall t 10:15 mark of 4th quarter. MICDS’ Tyler Purdy plowed over from 2 yards out and and Graham Bundy’s 2-pt run tied the game with only 2:59 left in the game.  With only 12 seconds left in the game, Graham Bundy ended the game with his 19 yard FG..MICDS 24 WCA 21.

SHAME High School Games of the Week…teams not listed..only scores from this weekend:  76-6, 65-0, 72-22,82-8, 52-6, 50-0,  52-0,  61-6 , 61-8


NO overtime for me either….thanks for the read…..










MLB Awards by Bob Ryan

It’s that time of year….season is wrapped up… is heating up….let’s take a look at some possible post-season MLB Awards… will be familiar with some of them…others…not so much!

Cy Young….Best Pitcher of each league….both of my nominees are young and would be 1st time winners…in the AL it has to be Blake Snell…who you say?…..he’s the ace of the Tamp Bay Rays…his 21-5 along with a dazzling 1.90 ERA, 30 starts …that’s become a “lot” these days, 175 IP with 211 strikeouts…his WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inn pitched) was a sharp 0.96. Batters hit  just .178 agasint him for the season. He’s just 25 years old right now. He was chosen in the 1st round by Tampa Bay in 2011. I realize that Justin Verlander with 16 wins and Cory Kluber  holding 20 wins are more in the spotlight due to the success of their teams but….I believe Snell has earned the award.   In the NL, Jacob DeGrom with his measly 10 wins was the best pitcher of the NL….he can’t help that he’s on a really bad team.  DeGrom led the Major Leagues with an amazing 1.70 ERA struck out 269 batters in 217 innings, his WHIP was a 0.91. Batters hit .196 against him in 2018.

Quietest Slugger in MLB—Kris Davis (Oakland)…..he finished with 47 home runs. This isn’t anything new for him…he hit 43 and 42 dingers in the last 2 seasons. The Brewers really missed the boat here…they traded him away in February 2016 for Bubba Derby and Jacob Nottingham.

The Knight Award…..Batter most in need of Armor at the plate….Brandon Nimmo….he was hit by a pitch 22x in 2018…at last word, he has survived 

The Award for the Most YO-YO changes in Trending…UP—Down—UP—Down—etc…..the winner is Jose Martinez…one day he’d belt a HR; the next he’d misplay a fly ball; then a .300 average hitter; followed by bizarre fielding exhibitions at 1B; more hitting; more base running blunders; more hitting…yada-yada-yada

Talking Loud without speaking a word Award……MLB FANS….MLB attendance dropped to its lowest point since 2003.  It was 69m+ this year, last year it was 72m+.

The Annie Oakley Award….Bryce Harper received the most “free passes” in 2018 with 129 walks

“Diet” Award….. should be awarded to the MLB to slim down in September….adding 15 minor league players …why? …  it just loads the bullpen for more and more  and more pitching changes… or makes us watch minor league players at major league prices…..abolish the expansion of roster to 40 players month…stay at 25 all  year long! By adding 15 players, that’s a 60% increase…WOW…just think if NFL football expanded at that same rate…they’d have 64 players dressed out…years and years ago  there may have been questions about “seeing the youngsters”….no need for that any longer…we zing them up to the “bigs” whenever we want to do it…. 

Best Player of each League (not necessarily the MVP)…Mookie Betts (Boston)….hit .346 tops in the entire MLB, 178 hits, 32 HR, 30 Stolen Bases, 80 RBI—down because he bats at the top of the order, OBP of .437, slugging .643 and OPS of 1.080…and he’s on the best team in the Major Leagues….had 594 Plate Appearances so he played…and played a lot. In the NL, I’m going with Christian Yelich…there are only 6 full-time players with averages over .300….Yelich is the highest  at .321. 33 HR, 104 RBI’s, 21 Stolen bases, 626 plate appearances, .978 OPS. He improved when pressure increased down stretch.

The Mayberry Sheriff Award….with all the crime in Mayberry…the Sheriff’s duties were few and far between…..winner of that award this year is Brad Brach of Baltimore…he led the O’s in saves with 11 throughout 2018…all of ELEVEN… could say that he wasn’t  “over worked”

The Winner of the “It Aint’ OVER til it’s OVER” Award.. is the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phils had a good year…they haven’t seen the .500 mark since 2012 when they were 81-81 for the season so ANYTHING over that level would have been considered “good”.  However, Philadelphia started brilliantly in 2018. Philly played very well through July…then suddenly their gas tank went empty… they really slumped in September….staggered across the finish line.

KNOCK OUT Punch Award….this year the winne is the LA Dodgers….the Dodgers win this in  2018 due to knocking out the Cards  on Saturday …just as the Cubs had done to us last year.

“Who Are those Guys” Award…winner is the Atlanta Braves…go ahead…other than Freddie Freeman… give me 3 other starters!!!   Don’t feel bad…I can’t do it either 

The Good Place Award…for those of you who haven’t seen Ted Danson’s latest series….the good place is a type of heaven ..or supposedly…but really it’s an area that humans torment each other continually…. the winner of this award is the Cardinals and their Fans 

NCAA Football thoughts…

….In this world of “stars”….top players recruited by top NCAA teams expect to play and play now…. Clemson  has been caught in this instant gratification at the most vital position… Last week, Head Coach Dabo Swiney named Trevor Lawrence as the starter replacing Kelly Bryant  @ QB ..Bryant immediately announced  he was transferring…soooo.. this week Lawrence suffers a “concussion-like” injury…now Swiney has lost ..presumably his  #1 and #2 QB’s….#3 Chase Brice was shaky after Lawrence’s injury. The Tigers hold on the ACC maybe slipping with this QB issue.

….Still trying to be recognized…UCF …unbeaten last year and ignored by the NCAA committee…just keeps winning and winning big….sure their Coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska (how has that worked out?)…..UCF just trampled Pittsburgh 45-14 with 568 total yards and 31 first wonders if they stay unbeaten if they’ll be ignored again after their strong bowl appearance last year and another terrific season…now…they aren’t in the power 5 conference….soooo… according to the logic of the committee they must have played a weak schedule….how could anyone be a Championship Semifinalist without being in the Power 5?

…sometimes…coaches outthink themself …Louisville Head Coach, Bobby Petrino blew it….up by 3 points…after notching a 1st down on the Florida State 21 yd line and clock winding down…just running the ball 3x and using up both Seminole time outs followed by a FG  would have been the customary approach…instead Petrino calls for a pass…it’s intercepted….suddenly with the momentum, Florida State’s Nyqwan Murray out runs the Louisville secondary for a 58 yd winning TD

….SEC West belongs to Alabama….the SEC East has Georgia & Kentucky at 5-0  while Florida is 4-1… Florida’s win over Mississippi State 13-6 showed the usual post Steve Spurrier type Florida team… great athletes, play hard, very good on defense…but offense …not so much….It had to be mixed feelings for new Florida coach Dan Mullen….he had been an assistant @ Florida during the Urban Meyer era…left to take the Head Coaching job @ Mississippi State…built up that program…then last winter returned to Florida as its head coach.. 

High School Team of the Week….

The Clayton Soccer team won the CYC Bob Guelker-Sullivan Walsh Division in a grueling week of soccer. The Greyhounds went 2-0-1 in pool play with wins over Lutheran South & Timberland and tied Alton-Marquette. Next Clayton beat Bayless 3-1 in the qualifying round of the tournament. In the Semifinals, the Greyhounds toppled Triad 6-2.  The Championship match was a rematch with Alton Marquette. Clayton edged  the Explorers 1-0 in OT…what a road! Clayton has now matched the win total of 2017 as they hold a 13-0-1 mark last year.   James Dulle leads the club with 24 goals and 11 assists for 59 points. Dillon Flynn is also in double figures in goals with 14. Max Boeger has chipped in with 7 goals & 6 assists. In the nets is Andrew Matheny. Matheny   holds a 10-0-1 record and he has been part of 5 shutouts, 4 solo.  Congratulations to the Clayton Greyhounds soccer team for their vast improvement over last season and their terrific record.

Final award….goes to YOU…thanks for the read..