Collusion or Common Sense by Bob Ryan

We’ve been hearing about it since the end of the World Series….the “hot shot” free agents..namely Bryce Harper and Manny Machado…who’d be on the market and commanding hundreds of millions of dollars in a multi-year bonanza. We were told it was about their age, their performance levels, their potential, their drawing power—ergo, how they could bring in additional fans and sales. But….why do these two players believe that they will be paid $250-$300m contracts? Maybe…because both were stars in huge east coast cities …in fact, just an hour apart…all the press that they’ve received since their arrival has made them THINK that they are really something special….or maybe, they thought it is their charisma….maybe…because both of these players were 1st round draft choices and have been treated differently in their development….maybe they think that their offensive production alone merits such an enormous contract. Well….let’s look at the last part of that statement…listed below, without their names, are 6 players. Following is their rank out of all the MLB in the given category and then the actual numbers that they posted last year beneath it.  The only item missing is their name! You decide which ones are Harper & Machado. The list is formed by the RUNS CREATED category…best to worst. I’ll move on while you decide who “owns” those numbers….btw….Michael Trout & Christian Yelich are NOT part of this list….I didn’t want it to appear that I was setting the standard too high and ambush Harper/Machado’s numbers. Who do you think is Harper?  Machado? Is it apparent that they are SO MUCH better than…at least…6 of their peers?  You already know where I’m coming down…it’s common sense to not pay them hundreds of millions of dollars in a multi-year contract.

Click here for the chart …

Avg        HR          OPS        WAR      Runs      RBI         hr/ab


Pppp—26 years old         #1           #21         #2           #2           #1           #49         #16

                                                .346        32           1.078     8.7          156         80          16.25

Xxxx-26  years old            #56         T#4         #5           #4           #4           #10         #7 

                                           .276        39           .939        7.4          132         105        14.8

Cccc-25 years old              #18         #9           #11         T#25      #11         #8           #21

                                                .297        37           .905        4.6          117.7     107         17.1

Yyyy—26 years old          #97         T#16      #16         #32         #13         #15         #15

                                                .249        34        .889        4.2          115.8     100         16.2

Vvvv—25 years old          #29         T#16      #19         #11         #20         #3           #25        

                                                .290        34           .881        5.3          105.4     111         17.8

Qqqq—27 years old        #40         T#25      #13         T#32      #31         #11         T#8

                                                .283        34          .892        4.2          99           104         15.5

Zzzz—25 years old           #45         T#49      #23         #14         #38         T#84      #12

                                                .278        24           .864        5.0          96.2        68           15.7

I’m really thinking that each baseball club REALLY, REALLY promotes their #1 draft choices …when they succeed…which actually isn’t very often! In part, to promote their scouting department and the team. Let’s take a closer look at that success league wide…. I’m assuming that players drafted in 2016, 2017, 2018 haven’t had enough time to develop yet….but think about that…. in football & basketball, the drafted players IMMEDIATELY step right into starting lineups. In fact, many become the face of the team from DAY 1. Back to baseball, in 2015, there were 6(six) players from the 1st round who have “made it” to the Big Time…Alex Bergman, Andrew Benintendi,  Carson Fullmer, Ian Happ, Walker Buehler, Dansby Swanson.  Bergman & Benintendi have shown signs of being star MLB’ers….jury’s out on the other 3 players.  The other 35 drafted in the 1st round…nada, nothing, don’t show up anyplace on MLB rosters. The Cardinals drafted Nic Plummer (pick # 23), Jake Woodford (pk #39) who was 3-8 @ Springfield last year. From the players drafted in 2014, I would assume that with 4 years of minor league training, that many would be in the MLB by now…well, the #1 overall pick by Cleveland was Brady Aiken…he toiled last year @ Lake County Class A and was 5-13..ugh….only a 1st round pick would be around long enough in Class A to get that many starts (losses). Carlos Rodon, Kyle Schwarber, Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, Michael Comforto, Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb, Bradley Zimmer, Brandon Finnegan, Matt Chapman, Luke Weaver, Michael Kopech, Jack Flaherty…13 have reached the MLB plateau, 27 1st rounders have not yet reached the MLB….sooo…to this point.. 1 of 3 players chosen in the 2014 1st round have climbed the hill to the MLB. A couple look like they are…or will be… stars in the MLB. More of the same occurs for 2013 draft and all the other years prior to that time. “Hitting” big on a 1st rounder is a HUGE success for the MLB teams…so when it happens…they want to really play it up. Is it collusion or common sense that these two players are still seeking a sucker… ooops a team…. to sign them to a mega-million dollar contract using that hype as the springboard?

Here’s the actual players on the list above:

Pppp is Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox

Xxxx is Jose Ramirez Cleveland Indians

Cccc  is Manny Machado—Free agent

Yyyy is Bryce Harper—free agent

Vvvv is Javier Baez Chicago Cubs

Qqqq is Eugenio Suarez Cincinnati Reds

Zzzz is Matt Chapman—Oakland A’s

Not included on the list were Christian Yelich & Michael Trout

Which numbers did you think were Harpers? Machado? I would add that I believe Machado severely damaged his value with his post-season antics. If a team valued a player representing them properly on the field, he really threw himself under the bus ….with his showboating, dirty, lackadaisical play.

Last weekend…in a moment of boredom…and a lack of commons sense….I put on….probably for the 1st time in the last several decades, the NFL Pro Bowl game. It was a complete joke…but it wasn’t funny. It was raining hard for much of the game, so it was slippery and difficult to change directions quickly. Hence, the players seemed to be “taking it easy & slow” to attempt any change of direction while running. But the SAD PART was  that used “touch football” rules. When a runner was approached by a defender… arriving a step away with his arms out as if to tackle him, the officials blew the whistle… before the contact. I don’t’ think that ANY players actually hit the ground in the entire game from being tackled… maybe a couple did as they slipped the wet turf. We saw No blitzing the QB, vanilla pass coverages, smiles, pat on the backs to the opposition, putting d-backs into the game as receivers than he caught a TD pass because he was completely unguarded by the defender….heck, my Frosh football team schemes of years ago would have looked complex compared to this rudimentary style of playing.  I’ve seen more intensity in a backyard, family game of touch football.. much more intensity J It was a real embarrassment for the league. It will be the LAST time that I EVER watch this type of touch football.

Clearly there is  no common sense in the musical chairs of college/pro football coaching spots. A coach gets fired… apparently for inept performance…but within days he’s signed to coach again at another place. Many times, it’s even coaching different positional players…or even different levels (college v pro). Why would you hire a guy so quickly who’s just been fired for being inadequate? And…it happens over and over again for many of these nomad coaches. I know the ol’ boy network flourishes but…isn’t it more important to win as a Head Coach then to provide the umpteenth job for Joe Mediocre? Maybe the Peter Principle comes into effect here? It certainly does when advancing to the Head Coach position. Wouldn’t a GM…. want to try some new, fresh ideas? E.g. Rams getting a young HC.

There was certainly no collusion last year when the Cards signed Greg Holland to a $14m contract. They…seemingly…rushed him back too soon and he was awful…I mean really awful. So…far out of character, the Cards ate the contract.  Holland resigned a few weeks later with Washington Nats. A complete turn-around took place. In his 25 innings in St. Louis, Holland surrendered 34 hits, 28 runs, 22 walks, 0 saves and just 22 strikeouts. Upon arriving in D.C., Holland contributed 21 1/3 innings over which he allowed 9 hits, 2 runs, 10 walks and 25 strikeouts, 3 saves. Now Arizona has signed him for a modest…in this era…$3.5m contract. Shame on the Cards for rushing him back too quickly

Ss one looks at Mozeliak’s free agent signings over the years….he’s had some HR’s and some real swing & Misses. At the bottom was the one-year, $7.5 million signing of Brad was really bad! The rest of the bottom five… according to Rick Hummel… is filled out with backup infielders and catchers –$5.25 Mark Ellis, Ty Wiggington, Bryan Pena and Ruben Tejada. I’d add to the “worst” list—Greg Holland, Dexter Fowler ($31m in 2 years while hitting .230), Brett Cecil-horrible 4 year contract for $31m…who EVER, EVER signs ANY reliever for 4 years? Matt Belisle was signed in 2015…and to use an expression of 1 of my in-laws …he’s “just another guy”. (TU Nick!),,who was moved on quickly.  MO also traded for Justin Masterson in 2014. He carried along a hefty $9.7m contract. The return on our money? 3-3, 7.04 ERA, whip 1.565….ugh! That’s even worse than the CD rates these days J On the better side of the signings, one would have to give praise to MO for the Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Kyle Lohse signings. Beltran was a 2 year Cardinal @ $13m in 2012-13. During that time he hit .282, 56 HR, 181 RBI. He helped the Cards reach the playoffs in both those years. Lance Berkman was also a 2 year Cardinal. He was there 2011-12. During that time he hit .295, 33 HR,101 rbi’s. He received votes in the MVP voting in 2011..finishing #7. He missed much of 2012 due to injury. Loshe was a 55-35 hurler in the Lou , 3.90 ERA during his 5 years  (2008-12)with the Cards. Not a star but he did win 55 games for us. Common sense tells that the development of players through the farm system has been a better avenue for the Cards than signing free agents…but fans pressure the team to show their sincerity to improve the club by signing FA…please note…these successful signings have all been gone for 5 years now!

Speaking of free agent movements this off-season….no collusion, or common sense…only stats J

Highest WAR listed for a signed FA ,3.5,  is listed for starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (signed by Nats away from AZ)..he’s predicted to have a 2019 that looks like this:  13-9, 31 starts, 182 inn, 168 hits, ERA 3.43, whip 1.21, predicted to average slightly more than 1 k/inn.

#2 on the WAR list at 3.3 is Dallas Keuchel (unsigned currently). Fan graphs thinks his 2019 will look like this—13-10, 3.69era, 32 starts, 198 inning, whip 1.32

Fangraphs projections for 2019 for  Cardinals & former Cardinals pitchers … look like this…

Other predictions:           WAR      record   era         starts     app        inn          saves     holds     whip

Lance Lynn (TX)                 1.6          8-9          4.46        24           24           138         0              0              1.43

Adam Wainwright(StL)   1.3          8-7          4.20        18           38           123         0              2              1.35

Andrew Miller   (StL)       1.3          3-2          2.95          0           60             60         16           13          1.13

Trevor Rosenthal Wash  1.2          4-3          3.11          0           65             65           6           18          1.21

Joe Kelly (LA Dod)            1.0          4-3          3.21          0           65             65           5           16         1.22

My common sense tells me that you’ve had enough!  Thx for making it to the end…YOUR thoughts are ALWAYS invited…put them directly on the Prepcasts site….disagree, agree, add more info..use your initials to sign if that makes you feel more comfortable.

Fans Demand Change! by Bob Ryan

The championship games of the NFL really sparked strong responses from the fans. Those responses WILL provoke rule changes. Let’s take one at a time…

….the 1st game, the NFC championship witnessed an unbelievable “No Call” on …what seems to us in slow motion…as an obvious pass Interference. Had the flag been thrown, the New Orleans Saints could have ran time down and kicked a chip shot FG to win the game. It wasn’t!  Fans have screamed, cursed, probably threw things about the “no call”. It’s commonly agreed at this point that there actually was a penalty but no flag.  At this moment, the NFL hasn’t allowed “replay officials” to throw their own flags from the booth. For one….I wouldn’t be anxious for that….I mean…there’s holding on lineman and/or  d-backs almost every play in the NFL. We’d be opening a Pandora’s box…will the booth officials determine Motion penalties?  Holding penalties…ugh? Lining up inches offsides? Where will it stop?  If the booth DOES start calling penalties that had been overlooked….would the game take 5 hours?… instead of the almost 4 hours now? Btw…if you haven’t noticed…on many plays the play clock has reached zero….and the ball is snapped just slightly after it has stopped moving and the play goes on. Do we want a booth official….wiping out all these plays…adding 5 yards to the needed 1st down and slowing the progress of the game & offense? YOUR thoughts…how would you change these no calls?  All suggestions are appreciated and will be published with your initials. I really feel badly for New Orleans but…..bad calls ARE a part of the game…I’m willing to accept that…some fans are not. I will say my 15+ years of umpiring may have skewed my thoughts. Many fans who have never officiated, probably don’t understand the “instant” decision that must be made by the official and that some fans expect you to be right 100% of the time…usually the ones who haven’t ever officiated.

….the AFC championship game brought up a different issue…..the overtime procedure. The NFL often has very close games. In fact, we had 6 ties in regulation in the first 6 weeks THIS year….soooo….these tight, closely played games really are very common in the NFL. Currently the NFL has the coin toss, if the receiving team (team who won the coin toss) scores a TD…game is over. If it’s a FG, punt, or turnover… the losing team of the coin toss…now has a chance to win. We all know what happened, New England won the coin toss, marched right down the Field….put Tom Brady on their shoulders, had Bill Belichick give his customary 30 second “we’re happy to win” speech, then strut off the field holding the Rozelle Trophy (scary….I remember seeing Pete Rozell LIVE…I guess he just died yesterday). There have been numerous suggestions (11 in one article) to improve this type of OT….this wasn’t the 1st time that OT has ended in the playoffs on the 1st possession…as recently as 2016, in the divisional playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals, won toss…scored TD in 3 plays and the game was over… Green Bay’s offense never saw the field…in fact barely had time to blink as the Cards raced down the field. Although unpopular, there is evidence that this OT method is working…. in 25 of the 45 NFL seasons since OT was introduced… there were NO ties as the final score  for the entire season! If that’s what you want…no ties.

Let’s go back to the beginning….. I do believe the NFL responds to the fans ideas, feelings & emotions much quicker than any of the other major sports… Now they clearly see the unhappiness of the fans with the OT. However, keep in mind that the NFL owners have expressed the feeling that the players have “given their all” in the first 60 minutes…the owners must think that an extended OT will jeopardize the health and careers of their players. It’s a valid point…don’t know if I agree…but its valid. Sooo….let’s throw out playing playing OT in regular season, let those ties stand…it was a tie game period. I actually think that those tie games add more intrigue to the standings.  For post season…let’s make it simple… let’s go back to real, normal football…. but discard these ridiculous rules—each team must get the ball once, you win with a TD but not a FG, yada-yada-yada.  My premise is that the OT should be like a real football game. I would like to see a 5th quarter of 7:30 (1/2 as long as a normal quarter) length. Then it’d still be REAL football. Surely, each team will get the ball at least once…who can hold the ball for 7:30? For post season games, if still tied after 5 quarters, a 6th quarter of 6:00 minutes would be implemented…etc, etc…  7th quarter of 5 minutes, etc. Maybe even discard the coin toss to start this extra quarter. Possibly the team with the most offensive yards gets the ball. Or, maybe the team that came from behind to tie the game must kickoff . Or….some other, easily determined factor that actually ties in the play of the first 4 quarters into the OT…rather than a coin toss. Also…these OT stats would NOT count for individual or team offensive or defensive stats for the game or season. What are your ideas for OT? I know that there are many of you with great ideas….please share.

…Blues fans are deeply disappointed as “break” time in the NHL begins. What is YOUR suggestion for the Blues?  Glancing through the +/- stats is rather alarming. Several key players have poor marks. For example, Tarasenko is a -11 for the season; Brayden Schenn is at -10; Pat Maroon is -10 for the season; Ivan Barbashev holds a -9 mark; Jay Bouwmeester is -8. The ONLY double digit PLUS player is O’Reilley at +14. Recently, I saw a highlight of Tarasenko’s 1st game as a Blue…he was flying down the ice as he scored a goal. I’ve heard innuendo’s by commentators, especially in the off season,  about his “body conditioning”….ol’ South side interpretation—he doesn’t stay in shape year round! He does look slower to me…he doesn’t seem to have that extra zip on this shot or his step. I know everyone is hyped up about Bennington…yes…he has been solid (favorite word of most sports fans and announcers these days) but GK wasn’t the real problem in my mind…we’re 3-8 in regulation 1 goal games; 2-4 in OT and 0-1 in shootouts. If we were just .500 in those 1 goal games, we’d be in the post season hunt. We don’t score enough goals and most of our players don’t even LOOK like goal scorers. I’d like to see more skating in front of the net….not just 3-5ft outside the GK box…but  slashing across the middle to accept a pass for 10-25 feet away from the net, then shoot…you can shoot right, left, up, down…you aren’t limited as we are now with all these shots from steep angles along the boards…ooopps…they call it the “wall” now. I do think that the Blues, will have a difficult time unloading some of these heavy contracts of…seemingly… mediocre NHL players.

..while I’m thinking of hockey…why don’t the Blues have their top hockey minor league team right here in St. Louis? You’d increase the usage of the Enterprise Center. Charge minimal prices to get the youngsters into the arena to watch a game….to me….hockey in person is far superior in person to watching it on TV.  It’d be more use for the Center…..use only the “close” seats so you can REALLY see what’s happening on the ice. You could have special prices for kids…get them in the habit of watching hockey LIVE. I recall the ol’ days when SLU had hockey…it was great to go and watch the Bills under Bill Selmon. I’m guessing that the Soloman’s may have been behind the money ball on that one for SLU. Maybe…’d probably be a big loser financially…. so maybe it isn’t possible…but I’ll keep dreaming.

…..Cards fans are still a bit uneasy….yes, Goldschmidt is a good player but several questions continue to haunt many fans?  Will Ozuna be ready on time or will he have that rag arm again? From afar it doesn’t sound like Ozuna cares too much and may be anxious to leave StL as a free agent next year. I don’t think that the Cards expect to resign him. Some players really don’t like being under the microscope constantly…as they are in the Lou…they’d rather march to their own beat. I think that Ozuna may not even make it to the end of the year…he could be shipped out as a short term bat to a contender in August.  It depends upon the progress of the young Cardinals Outfielders in early 2019(especially O’Neill). Will Reyes EVER really live up to his hype? Some pitchers come all the way back from these extended arm issues…some never come back to their full “hype”.  Is Wong REALLY really the “man” for 2b?  Last year Wong’s 84.4 mph average exit velocity  from the plate was not only the lowest of his career but also ranked him a dismal 213th among the 227 MLB hitters with at least 250 plate appearances in 2018. This isn’t new for Wong… he’s actually been on steady decline in exit velocity for each of the past 4 seasons. It was 87 mph in 2015; dropped to 86 mph in ’16 and then to 85.1 mph in ’17. Is Wong’s outstanding defense strong enough with a…seemingly…potent offense? Some would say that you don’t need 8 “strong” hitters….but you DO need very strong up-the-middle defense. Wong has demonstrated some great range @ 2B. Or…will the Cards gently shove out Wong for Munoz at the starting 2B slot…and let him stay there? Or…with all the young SS in the Card system, will one of them become a 2B? I believe that this IS the make/break year for Wong and the direction that the Cards management decide to go with 2B…must it be a strong hitter or is a outstanding defensive 2b enough?

…SLU basketball fans may be starting to wonder…for 3 years now, Coach Ford’s roster has always shrunk to 10 or less available players as we approach the heart of the schedule. For example, in Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Davidson, 4 players logged 36+ minutes each. That’s too much. By now…in his 3rd year…these are all HIS players. Does he drive them too hard physically and/or mentally and the players “break down”? Does he recruit too many athletes with background issues? Are the players equipped for the academic challenges? Is it just coincidence? Is it that the hours required in practice, watching films, weight room, meetings, etc is too strenuous? Is the expectation bar set too high collectively and individually? Is it just bad luck each year? I don’t know… but..I do know that a roster of 10 strong players seems essential as the teams wind their way through the key games of Jan-Feb-March.

…both baseball and football fans are anxious to see which way Kyler Murray will take his professional career. He’s already signed a $4.66m contract with the Oakland A’s after being drafted last year. Now…after his spectacular year as QB @ Oklahoma, he may be drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft. We all know what 1st round QB are paid….rumors are he’s leaning to football. If he DOES go the football route, he’ll have to return that baseball bonus money. As a ol’ guy, I’d recommend to my son to stay in baseball….longer career, less chance of injury, more money in long run. On the other side, right now in the USA, football is king…don’t know if it’ll be that way much longer….but right now… the buzz is all about NFL & college football with special emphasis on quarterbacks. Already, some football pundits already have him pegged Murray as a middle 1st rounder despite his non-drop back style of throwing. Apparently, he’s similar to Lamar Jackson (Balt) who had good success this year. But…Murray throws the ball significantly better than Jackson and played a much higher level of opponents than Jackson did in college…it’s the brand new  style of QB entering the NFL. Btw….Drew Lock…who is much more the traditional style QB… also pops up in the 1st round of the in the forecasted draft that I was using. Looks like my forecast on him was off on his draft selection.

….StL fans are in disbelief that Andy Reid hired Steve Spagnuolo as his d-coordinator. Spags had a miserable run as the Rams Head Coach (11-41)….sooo….people around town aren’t jumping on his bad wagon. Last year he was the Defensive Coordinator for the Giants. The most important category for a DC (outside of winning games) is how many points did you allow and can you stop your opponents in the last 2 minutes of the game. His team looked like this….they were 16th (of 32) in points allowed–23.1ppg, the Chiefs were dead last in the NFL allowing 35.3ppg. If KC only gave up 23ppg, they’d be in the super bowl!! Although, a great deal of that has to do with the personnel…not just schemes…. so keep your eyes on the Chiefs in the upcoming draft and in the signing of free agents to improve their D.

….Vianney HS fans are in celebrating. Their Varsity Baseball Head Coach, Scott Brown, was named as the National HS Baseball Coach of the Year for 2018. The Golden Griffins baseball team won state this year but that really wasn’t a NEW thing for Coach Brown. In his 26 seasons has HC, he’s complied a 503-260 record (280-198@CBC; 223-62@Vianney). His clubs have won 18 district titles, been in 8 Elite Eight STATE finishes, 6 Final Fours, and has won the Metro Catholic Conference 8 times. Coach Brown now owns the most baseball wins at both CBC and Vianney! I had the unique distinction of being Scott’s 1st assistant on his 1st Varsity team @ CBC. Congratulations to him for his very successful achievement.

Scott Brown is a Member of the MO Baseball Coaches Association Hall-of-Fame & St. Louis Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Scott played at HS baseball @ Vianney under Head Coach Jerry Boeckmann then 2 seasons at Mizzou and 2 seasons at Illinois St. Univ. He played parts of 2 seasons in the Pirates organization (with the Bradenton Pirates our pitching coach was Bruce Kison and hitting coach was Hal McRae)

…Now I hope these blog fans made it to the bottom and some will respond to any part of these ideas. Send them to me…I’ll have them published with your initials…or any letters that you want me to use.

As the Sports World Turns by Bob Ryan

Constantly, continually….the sports world turns… real life….nothing stays exactly the same…for long….before plowing through some of those “turning” areas… thanks to Jim Pleimann for holding the fort down for the last 2 weeks as Jean & I went on a vaca

….For Alabama, the world was spinning far too fast last week as Clemson not  only upset them, the Tigers slaughtered them…no one that I know ever expected that type of game….now ….I didn’t see any of the game but…..I had seen Bama play a couple weeks earlier…. Back-back plays stuck out to me….a SR offensive tackle for Alabama…jumped off-sides twice…on back-back plays…..EVERYONE knew who had committed the was obvious…..he was yanked out of the game and Saban really made a big show of chewing him out and sending him to the bench. He really humiliated the player in front of the world. I know as a coach, that type of “leadership” doesn’t cut it any more….ONLY a guy with Saban’s record could ever get away with it….and I wondered if ….behind the scenes as the world turns, players change…when things start to go sour.. which they seldom do @ Bama… was Saban with his staff & players?  I’m not saying that HE lost the game or that Clemson didn’t deserve the championship…but I’m wondering who the real Nick Saban currently is…. on the sidelines and off the field….is it always someone else’s mistake when things go south?…and I don’t mean to Alabama J ….btw….5 coaches have left Alabama this year so only 2 coaches remain from the 2015 championship season…..hmmmm?

…For the Blues…..there now is some ….probably ….only a tiny bit….but at least… some hope…. of reaching the playoffs. It exists while the Hockey Season continues to turn & spin in many different directions for our Blues..  As you recall, I’m not really “into” winning the division titles in hockey…so what ?….the real season is post-season.  Just qualify for the playoffs…that’s the story. While still looking with their hopeful eyes, the Blues have 36 games remaining (as I write this part on Friday night)… that’s plenty of time….only Edmonton….gee….I guess Hitchcock found that winning touch that the  Blues thought that he had lost for them….has a better record against winning teams than the Blues out of the remaining teams “looking in”for a playoff spot. If Berube has ANY chance of staying on the bench, he MUST get into the playoffs…. soooo..LGB.

….the hockey world stopped spinning for Patrik Burgland…the former Blue….traded earlier this year to Buffalo…walked away from his multi-year, multi-million dollar contract….He just wasn’t enjoying it. He did play in 10 seasons, scored 168 goals. It stunned most fans. Most fans dream of playing and can’t imagine getting tired of it.  In his defense….he’s probably been playing hockey competitively since he was a very young boy…think of the hours of skating, practicing, chalk talks, various coaches trying to “motivate” you, yada-yada-yada….to use an ol’ time expression….he got “burned out”.

…the world spins differently for HS basketball players being recruited….they are wooed, praised, fawned over in ways that may make it hard for them to see the REAL world….St Louis U lost  Carte’ Are Gordon about the time  we left StL….I wasn’t surprised….he’d left his 1st high school, he left his original AAU team… we all know those kind of guys…the grass is always greener else where…I’d seen him play…he was good…especially when considering that he was only a Freshman but he wasn’t anything like the “one & done” Freshman that cycle in & out of Kentucky every year. I later learned that he wasn’t the easiest teammate to have on your team….his loss has really impacted the Bills…they’ve won 5 straight since his departureJ

…the world is spinning a bit quicker for the MU Men’s Basketball team after their impressive, dominating win over Texas A&M 66-43…now holding a 10-6 record…This was one of their best wins of the season. 4 of their previous wins were over Cen Arkansas, Kennesaw State (by 4 pts), U-Tx Arlington and Moorhead State… none of those wins really count for much. In the other 5 wins, only a couple were wins with some quality to them –by 2 pts over UCF, 6 pts over Oregon State (11-5)-THAT was a good win, over Oral Roberts (8-13 of Summit league), Xavier (11-7)-nice win, Illinois(5-12). The devastation of losing the Porter brothers has been difficult to overcome for the Tigers….but yesterday Jordan Geist hit some early 3’s, Jerimiah Tilmon didn’t even have a foul until long after the outcome of the game had been determined and scored inside very effectively with his hook shot (the hook shot is coming back into vogue, and the MU defense forced A&M into long, hurried…sometimes out of control shots. GOOD  road win got the Tigers.

…the college football world was spinning a bit out of control with the retirement of Mark Reicht (Miami) it surprised many….I have to wonder if the Miami AD realized that Richt had played the easiest schedule of his career (according to sports and yet finished with the lowest rating (according to same reference) of his career….his glossy career record of 171-64 was tainted in 2018….maybe HE recognized the decline in his own efficiency or maybe THE MIAMI AD recognized it and asked him to resign (or retire)… or be removed

…the world hasn’t been spinning much for the Cards …..only the hype has been spinning ….soooo…the Cards starting staff for the start of 2019 looks like—Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright & Michael Wacha…same as it was in the final months of 2018….no doubt about Mikolas & Flaherty being there ..probably as #1 & #2….however, Martinez actually seemed better as a reliever last year….facing batters for the 1st time as a starter the batting avg against him was .222, the OBP-.338 and OPS 6.49, facing them the 2nd time as a starter… same categories…214, .308, .630 and the 3rd time facing the same batters it looked like .289, .388, .759. As a reliever, 1st time facing them… the avg was .180,OB%- .292, OPS-.521…2nd time thru as a reliever: avg- .000, obp-.500, OPS-.500. He claims that he’s 27 years of age…I always wonder about those Latin American ages….at any rate…Martinez seems more fitted to be a “long” closer (2+ innings) than a starter to me. Wacha and Wainwright both require more than 4 days rest….a start once a week suits their arm difficulties, arm strength, “stuff”, much better….I’ve been clamoring for a 6 man rotation….starters can use the extra day and hopefully go deeper into each game…hence saving the pen a bit. Andrew Miller will be the new closer with the set up men mix-matching….The 2019 Miller will actually have a difficult time outperforming the 2018  Bud Norris for his work over the first 5 months of the season. Compare the work of each in 2018…. In April, Norris had 12 appearances, 5 saves & 2 holds; May—12 appearances, 6 saves, 1 win, 1 loss; in June –10 appearances, 4 saves; 2 wins, 2 blown-sv, 1 loss ..editorial note here…so by July 1 he had pitched in 34 games; he had 15 saves, 3 wins, 2 losses…in July,Norris-10 appearances,  5 saves & 1 loss; August saw 11 appearances, 8 saves, 1 blown save…by September the 32 year old was toast…8 appearances; 3 losses 1 blown save, 0 saves or wins. Norris is still unsigned… personally…with a bit more rest…I think that he’d be a terrific set up man(which were the original plans last year)….at any rate, Miller’s 2018 stats look like this….Mar/Apr-11 appearances—zero runs during that time!!  1 save, 1 win, 4 holds; May-just 6 appearances-3 blown saves, 3 losses, 1 save..era now 4.40..ugh.. He missed all of June and July! In August, Miller was in 10 games, 3 holds, 1 win..era down to 3.38 by the end of the month. September had Miller in 10 games, 2 holds, 1 save, 1 loss. ERA for the season 4.24. I personally think 10 games should be the max per month per pitcher…. that’d be 60 games a year. I’m of the belief…pitching 70+ games in a season damages your arm…and 75 games makes the cliff even steeper for the relievers. Now…the story line is that Miller was injured….my thought is….once you have experienced a bad arm….does it EVER get back to its original strength & durability..on occasion, it does.  Often it does not.  Let’s hope that Miller has fully recovered.

…the world was spinning out of control…at least for a minute…while scanning the Top 25 NCAA-M basketball list…I found @ #16 — Buffalo!!!  Huh? Where did they come from? They are 17-1 at the moment! It’s great…that team has beaten 17 of 18 opponents should get recognitiion….including W. Virginia, Syracuse, S. Illinois-twice(they beat the Bills). The Bulls…this is no bull…..are averaging 85ppg. I’m not forecasting that they will win the NCAA … or even get picked for the NCAA…but give them their “due” when appropriate. Enjoy the ride Bulls

….if you haven’t noticed…the world has been spinning quicker for the Cincinnati Reds this off-season. Already possessing a strong lineup, the Reds added Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. I’m not a big fan of either…one is a hot dog and the other more talk than performance… but… each should improve the team. Puig DID have a very strong 2nd half for LA last year (remember when his HR killed the Cards in a key home game). On the mound, Cincy acquired Alex Wood & Tanner Roark to boost their staff. Both will provide experience, innings and probably more wins. Returning starter Luis Castillo had a terrific 2nd half of 2018…he was the ranked # 27 for that period. HE may really be the ace in 2019. Closer Raisel Iglesias is legit….and….he goes more than 1 inning if necessary. The Cards won’t be able to count on those sweeps against Cincy as often next year as in the recent past.

…for the Metro Panthers Girls Basketball team….the world just keeps spinning along in the usual way…. Head Coach Gary Glasscock has his team holding a 13-5 record and sitting atop the PHL standings at 4-0.  This isn’t anything new for the Panthers….they’ve been unbeaten in conference play the last 3 years!  Metro is 13-5 for the season as they play a wide assortment of teams. 5-9 Jr Faith Bland leads the club in scoring(18.0 ppg), rebounding (11.0/gm) & blocked shots-39. Other leaders on the Panthers are the only 2 seniors on the team….Mikenzie Burt (20 points in the last win over Visitation) & Micah Goldman (assist leader). If the name of “Glasscock” seems familiar to you from the past, earlier in his career, while Head Coach at Cor Jesu, he coached Niele Ivey. Ivey was probably the best players of her era while she starred at Cor Jesu.  Ivey went on to star for Notre Dame at the collegiate level from 1996-2001. She finished her career after 2 seasons in the WNBA. I had the “opportunity”…while coaching….of facing Cor Jesu with Ivey….it was a looonnnggg game for me J  Hope that YOUR world is spinning around just right for you!


Still Rewarded without Playing by Bob Ryan

In the “real” world, if a worker decides to quit, leave, exit, not return…whatever lingo that you want to use….you stop getting paid…period…no salary, no benefits, no anything. It makes perfect sense. However, in the collegiate world….somewhat real……college football players are playing both sides of the coin…..
…When a high school player signs a scholarship contract, the school agrees to provide that player with all that is needed to succeed …in football and throughout his days at the school…..the athlete agrees to follow all the rules of that university and to give his “all”
….when a player determines that they are going to “sit out” a bowl game…or any game for that matter….immediately, that player should be removed from the squad, from the dorm, not permitted to use any of these luxurious benefits. He has QUIT…plan and simple….his choice….sooo…..send him on his way….instantly and permanently and drop all of his huge benefits
…those benefits are really something….after some research, analysts who dig deeper than most into the “real” cost of a football scholarship…i.e. not just the tuition, room & board, food all year long of the highest quality, but academic tutors available at all times, medical attention all year long upon request at ANY TIME…not just when sick or injured….but aches, pains, pulls, stretches of any kind; dietary “counselors” continually checking to ensure that the athlete is ingesting the proper type/amount of food; weight room consultants, free tickets to all games…including bowl games…..maybe I’m missing some areas….but each and every facet of the football player’s life is softened due to their football skills (which are high)…and are developed by coaching staffs of 10-15 highly paid coaches(isn’t that total cost divided by the number of participants)….the cost for all these benefits comes close to $100,000-$125,00 per player….soooo…..the expectation is that the player, will in turn, play to the best of their ability for all the scheduled games and if a .500+ team, the bowl games.
…Now I realize that the schools would NEVER have the willingness or fortitude to implement such a policy…it would have to be enforced by the NCAA so ALL schools would follow this simple idea…..if you quit (refuse to play in any game/practice)…you go. If you’re afraid of being injured and ruining your “certain” pro career…that’s your judgment…you’ve quit….every choice we make in life has consequences…good & bad….so leave immediately and start paying the bills yourself while living someplace else, eating someplace else, not having tutors, advisors, coaches hovering over you like bees over honey constantly….and to be honest….I don’t think that the NCAA would do it either…they’re making too much money with the current system….why rock the money boat? Isn’t college intended to prepare the students for REAL life…the next 40+ years of their life? Try that at your job….I’m NOT going to do this or that because…name any reason….see what happens to you.
…btw…the next time players start clamoring to be paid…..I would remind them that all these services have a cost attached to them…if the individual player WAS paid , he/she would then be responsible for paying for all services listed above with his/her own money… so unless the students were paid $100,000+….they’d be borrowing money…OR….not using all those services. They better be careful what they are asking for from the schools….that getting paid directly MAY actually cost them…
….another point….schools are cheating many of these athletes in the classroom—some students come into the colleges/universities ill-prepared for the academic rigors….they are only there to play football…..soooo…schools have some of these students take the lowest classes in one department one year, then the following year..he takes the lowest classes in another dept, repeated in the 3rd & over and over again in the 4 or 5 year academic career. How valuable is that degree… other than making him eligible for 5 years of football? If a football player doesn’t earn a “real” degree not one of “general studies”, the football team should have 1 less scholarship for the following 4 years for each of these type of non-degrees. I know I’m a huge sports fan….but the primary purpose of colleges is to prepare the students to be productive citizens in society after college. How many college football players will really have a career in pro football? If they don’t make it in the pros…..what then…will they be productive members of society?
….while I’m on a college football kick…..the newly instituted 4 game tryout exemption for red-shirt players is absolutely ridiculous…either you ARE sitting out for a year and not playing OR you are playing…you don’t’ get 4 games of “freebies” as they use currently. This rule fosters players “jumping” schools after they show- case 4 game performance. Whatever happened to the idea that college was a 4 year process…not 5, 6 or more years with multiple stops along the way.
Now… college football on the field…out of the upteen bowls (41 now…I think)….the two that have mattered the most were the semifinals…
….Clemson just had too much speed in the key offensive positions of running back & wide receiver. Notre Dame just couldn’t match up with the Tigers and fell 30-3. After witnessing the extreme difference in speed, one MUST hand it to you Coach Brian Kelly (ND)….he directed that slower team …with a tough schedule ….to a 12-0 mark prior to the Clemson game.
….As everyone expected, Oklahoma needed to score about 50 points with the Crimson Tide committing several turnovers for OU to beat Alabama. OU’s defense was seldom “tight” though most of 2018…..they just outscored people. Alabama jumped on the OU defense immediately and coasted to the 45-34 win. The game really wasn’t that close….Bama surged to a 28-0 lead and then seemed to lose their intensity…naturally. It actually was rather humorous seeing Nick Saban throw a temper tantrum with his club far out front late in the 1st half. It’s fine to demand discipline at all time but that holds true for the coach himself also.
…..reactions to some of the other mini-bowls…
…..sure Michigan got crunched…4 of their best players “sat out” to protect themselves for the draft…Florida from what we saw..Florida would no doubt still have beaten them (speed factor again) but…take away Florida’s best 4 layers and it would have been a different looking team.
….what a horrible mismatch…Army with 10 wins…and a very narrow loss to Oklahoma dominated Houston 70-14. Army was playing their reserves throughout most of the 2nd half. It looked like Houston had NEVER practiced against the Army run-style offense. Army should have been invited to a much more distinguished bowl.
….the Cheeze-It bowl….Wow….it was cheesy…in my opinion, neither of these teams were “bowl” teams. Cal was 4-5 in conference play and TCU held a 6-6 mark entering this game. TCU 10 California 7 in OT…this was a “battle” between two very average teams. TCU who had the chance to win it in regulation…replaced their regular place kicker for the possible winning FG attempt…it was missed. In the OT, the regular place kicker Jonathan Song, got the opportunity and kicked a winning 27-yard field goal. There were 6 interceptions in the 1st half alone, a sideline interference called on the SID, a game that appeared to be more like a Frosh HS football game than 2 bowl teams competing on a high level.
,,,,its strange…. the press keeps promoting the proliferation of more and more bowls…yet…when these weaker bowls are filled with average teams…and the games truly reflect the skill level of the two average teams—more miscues, average speed of players, more turnovers, yada-yada-yada…..the same press ridicules them for their play…they got what they paid for in my book.
Moving to winter sports…
….Chaminade may have another one! After David Lee’s solid 12 year career in the NBA(you can’t last 12 years without being good), Bradley Beal already in his 7th year @ Washington, and Jason Tatum still growing in his 2nd year in the NBA, Chaminade currently has another “hot shot” come along. Luke Kasubke, 6-6 Jr, is carrying a 22.6 average. According to StLToday, he’s shooting 34 of 41 from beyond the arc…that’s tough to believe—83%. Sometimes those HS stats are off a bit…especially on missed shots…BUT not off …is the fact that he scored 50 points against Parkway North on Dec 27, dropped in 31 the next night. He competes in the MCC so he’s facing quality teams each conference game. I have a particular interest in Kasubke…..I coached his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) @Rosary High. She was the best girls player that I ever coached @ Rosary. When she graduated, she held all the scoring Records there. Keep your eye on him!
….somethings different in Lebanon, Ill…for the first time in 53 years, there is a new Men’s Basketball coach @ McKendree University. Harry Statham was removed of his duties after 52 years and 1152 wins at the end of last season. Chris Foster, former coach @ Truman State, was named to take over the men’s team. As the league jumps into its heavy conference schedule, the Bearcats are 1-1 in conference and 5-6 overall.
….NCAA basketball rankings begin to mean something after New Year’s day….some new teams sit in that Top-10+2 at this point….@#5 Nevada (11-1)…I don’t anticipate this team hanging in that Top 10 long; @ #10 Va Tech (11-1); #11 Texas Tech (11-1); @#12 Auburn (11-2)….try keeping an eye on these newcomers….
Happy New Year to ALL! …thoughts from you bowl games, college players “sitting out” for fear of injury in bowl games…..or anything else…. Wishing you a great 2019!

Fresh Sports Gifts for Local Stars by Bob Ryan

It’s that wonderful time of the year….Christmas time…..sure enough, we found many…some unusual… Gifts under the 2018 St Louis Sports Tree…

…..for Mike Shildt… new Card hat that actually fits him…so that we can see his face while he wears it

…. for Marcell Ozuna….a long red or white sleeved shirt for under his Cardinal uniform(not yellow)

….for the Taylor Family ….a Crown ….as the new King of  Sports  Families in the Lou

.…for Miles Mikolas…the Dobbs Award for his pitching in, up, down & out pitching style

….for John Mozeliak…the disappearance of his book on Casey Stengal’s   “Talking Clearly”

….for Bill Snyder…an award given annually in his name  to the Coach who has revives a collegiate football program…some background…prior to Snyder arriving @ K-State in 1990..the Wildcats had won 4 games in 5 years and only 4 winning seasons in 44 years..after going 17-16 in his first 3 years in Manhattan, KS…Snyder finished with a record @ K-State of 215-117-1, 19 Bowl seasons and 2 Big 12 Championships…maybe there won’t be a winner every year of this award

…for Barry Odum…. A longer fishing pole for his recruiting…he’s shown that he can “reel em in”

…for the Blues….the Lazarus Award…I thought they were dead…

…for Andrew Miller….the ghost of Christmas Future is more like the Ghost of Christmas Past than like the Ghost of Christmas Present

…for Alex Pietranglo…..Fountain of Youth…. to turn back the clock a few years

…for the Alabama football fans… Kleenex … after all their weeping about “their guy” not winning the Heisman…heck, I think that almost ANY QB could lead the Crimson Tide to wins

…for Jack Flaherty…the White Castle Award …so his ‘slider” stays good

…for Mike Yeo…the YMCA Swimming Award….only guy to keep his head above water in the playoffs.. he is  the ONLY Blues coach EVER to hold a winning playoff record in Blues history

…for Adolis Garcia….the Don Denkinger Award….for the bad play that could define his career

…for St Louis College of Pharmacy….the Elvis Presley Award for Persistence… as they snapped 106 or 108 game losing streak(it was so long NO ONE actually knew for sure how many games they lostJ) …. background—Presley was fired after his 1st performance in 1954 and told “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

…for Bill DeWitt…a new nickname (compliments Tom Murray)…Bill DeWallet

…for Mizzou football program….ONE set of black & gold uniforms….all other sets given away

…for Mizzou football….a big win in Liberty Bowl Game that should catapult them into the Top 20 at the end of the 2018 season and the  Top 20 at the start the 2019 season

…another for Mizzou program…..the UP, UP & Away Award after the recent signings & transfers  

…for Manny Machado’s non-signing…. “actions speak louder than words” about his play in playoffs 

…for Dexter Fowler… a graceful exit from St Louis…probably with millions of $$$ due him

…for Travis Ford… the JOB Award…..for patience for a team on the upswing who will “grow” as the schedule unfolds

…for Pat Maroon…a turnaround in the 2nd half to help him enjoy his “coming home” story

…for the Porter brothers of Mizzou….the DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) Award…the award for unfulfilled sports potential

…for Jose Martinez…..the Six Flags Award….for having fun at the Park every day

…for Mike Girsch…the Frank Nitty Award…for always being the man “behind the scenes”

…for Stan Kronke…again winning for the umpteenth time…”Most Hated Man in St Louis” Award

…for Yadi Molina…a new cell phone for  the next time that he “camps out” in the pen so that he can actually communicate with the Manager

…for the NCAA Football Guru’s…some consistency….we can’t expand the Final Four to 8 teams but we can still sit through 40 different bowl games of which 20 bowls have teams we could care less about

….for Harrison Bader….a contract with some toothpaste company for his wide smile

….for Vince DeGreef, John Diffley & Kerry Rockwell….gold star award ….for their officiating in a Friday night game (that I announced)…and for the combined 100+ years of refereeing at a high level

…for Paul Goldschmidt…the Coca-Cola Award for “sharing a special moment” (his signing) with us

…for Carlos Martinez…the Rodney Dangerfield Award….his lifetime ERA 3.37, 54-38 record and batting mark of .241 against him would seem to merit him more “luv” from the fans…

…for Carlos Martinez…Cpl Klinger Award (MASH) for his eccentric mannerisms –driving him from fans

…for the Cardinal bullpen…the new mantra of In-Game Battle….fight each skirmish during the game with your best…let the final battle of the 9th inning be just ‘another skirmish”

…for Incarnate Word Acad….reservations in Columbia, MO for STATE final 4…the Red Knights have been there 9 straight years with 7 STATE championships during that time

…for Tyler O’Neill….the Charles Atlas Award for the MLB….strongest man in the league

…for Tyler O’Neill…the Ironing Board Award….depicting his flexibility

…for the Laporta Family….the Rusty Wallace Award ….for most successful participatory sports “family” Award in St. Louis area…From Highland…Olivia (Sr Volleyball Player @ Fordham), Alex (Soph Basketball player UMSL-leading rebounder), Sam(Sr in Highland HS—just signed with Iowa Football), Bella (Soph-#2  scorer on Highland HS basketball & #2 attacker on Highland ‘s 33-3  Volleyball team)

…for Drew Lock….a ring of safety in the bowl game to protect/enhance his draft status

…for Jose Oquendo…the “Time has passed me by” award…once Shildt was chosen as manager

…for viewers of the Texas Bowl (two 6-6 teams)…..a remote control ….to change the channel

…for all of you…A Thank You Award …..for taking the time each week to read my “stuff” on a regular basis

….all of YOU are invited to post your own special gift or to react to any of these gifts—do it right on the Prepcasts site….you may do more than one…if you can’t get it posted…send to me….I’ll forward it to have it posted……..Merry Christmas To All!

Drowning in the Atlantic by Bob Ryan

The Billikens have been swimming in the Atlantic….the Atlantic-10….since 2005. From my view, this conference is not a good match for the Bills. They’ve been drowning in the long trips, small arenas, lack of real “rivals”,  lack of emotional games,  lack of national prominence. Now…I do realize that immediately some will say…”they can’t change leagues”…..well…..a short glance at the history of SLU shows that the Bills have changed conferences….and done it often….they’ve been in 6 different conferences since 1937….here’s the history….

1937-38 through 1973-74 Missouri Valley Conference

1975-76 through 1981-82 Metro Conference

1982-83 through 1990-91 Midwestern City Conference (changed name to Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1985-86)

1991-92 through 1994-95 Great Midwest Conference

1995-96 through 2004-05 Conference USA

2005-06 through present Atlantic 10

Please note….the longest affiliation was with the Missouri Valley Conference! … change is COMMON and frequent for SLU. I’m proposing an application back to the Missouri Valley Conference for SLU.  Why?

….Cost…doesn’tthat always come first!!  I don’t have to discuss at length the difference in cost in traveling to 4 schools in Virginia+ Wash DC, 2 in New York,  3 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Rhode Island, 1 in Massachusetts, 1 in N.Carolina, 1 in Ohio vs traveling to schools in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.    Please consider not just the cost of the basketball program but also….baseball, softball, w-m soccer teams, and ALL the other sports. Is that extra cost of extensive traveling measure up to a real difference in opponents & interest? Hardly…With opponents a fraction a distance of the way closer…I would anticipate teams from adjacent states will travel for “big games” and stir up some emotion at the games …that’s the excitement of collegiate sports. Don’t tell that cost ISN’T a factor in major college sports.

…Quality ….looking at the level of play of the conferences…as of Dec 14, 2018..last week….the MO Valley was listed as the 10th best Men’s basketball conference…..A-10 was found in the 12th position…. sooo…the MVC is listed as a better conference now…and over the past few years….has consistently been higher than the A-10.

….Facililties…..looking at the facilities of these conference games, the MVC has a better, larger set of arenas…in the A-10, The Chavitz Arena (10,000+) is 2nd largest in the conference. There are 7 arenas in the A-10 with less than 6,000 capacity…is this the type of “place” that big-time schools play? By contrast, In the MVC, there are just 2 arenas that hold less than 6,000 and there are 5 that hold 10000+ now. Sooo… give that check mark to MVC

….National Recognition….Who’s been on the national stage most recently or at all?  Clearly the MVC is better recognized than the A-10.  Just last year, Loyola-Chicago made it to the Final Four….the Sr Jean story, “teamwork” did wonders for the MVC in national recognition.  The MVC has 4 teams that have won NCAA  basketball championships to their credit…. A10—zero.

…Familiarity….who’s in the MVC now….MO State, SIU-Carbondale, Bradley (Peoria, Ill), Loyola-Chicago, Illinois State (Normal Ill), Drake (Des Moines), Univ of N. Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Indiana St (Terra Haute, Ind)., U of Evansville and Valparaiso University. All these schools are probably easily identified by Billiken fans.

 …Strength of League..SLU was picked #1 in the pre-season for the A-10….would that be true in MVC?

…Reasoning for entering A-10 was egregious….in 2005, SLU administration gave this explanation for the move to the A-10  “Saint Louis University, its alumni and fans are extremely enthusiastic regarding the Billikens’ inaugural year in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” said Cheryl L. Levick, director of athletics at Saint Louis. “The profile of the A-10 membership is the best fit that Saint Louis University has enjoyed in the history of Billiken athletics. Plus, the A-10 provides new major market media exposure for our program and also opens the East Coast for under graduate student recruitment for the institution. We look forward to a long, exciting and successful tenure in the A-10.”….does anyone think that the major coverage of A-10 athletics in New York, Virginia, etc “ gets any where close to page 1, 2 or 3 in those local newspapers? Market exposure” for the Bills  in the East Coast, I believe is veryminimal…at best. Just think of all the professional teams that this small conference is battling for space in the local sports pages. I realize that SLU was talking more about the “general” students than just athletes.  However, I don’t see how competing in games that few people of the population of the East Coast even KNOW are taking place will help a university grow.….it’s time to stop drowning…..get  back on solid ground….the valley….the Missouri Valley!

….We’ve all been flooded….almost to the point of drowning…with all the hype, rumors, talk about the MLB Major League meetings in Las Vegas. Well….the talk exceeded the actual production.  The Flood of actual action barely filled Mandolin Bay. But let’s focus on the Card moves….

….Cards pedal  3B Patrick Wisdom to Texas for inf/of Drew Robinson….it seemed more like a Christmas gift to me….Wisdom (27 years old) had no spot on the club once Goldschmidt was acquired and Carp penciled in for 3B. So now Wisdom MAY get a chance to play. He had no spot left here. Cards obtained Robinson…who’s listed as Inf/OF…so he can play all over.. the only place he can’t play…it seems … is in the batters box….he carries a lifetime .204 average. Further, the Cards…like many other MLB teams…are striving for bench players who play multiple positions (like Gonzalez of Houston). Wisdom& Adams couldn’t do that…so each has “moved on”. Adams resigned with Washington over the weekend…he’ll be a backup 1B and PH for the Nats.

…Cards chose not to sign and passed on reliever Tyson Ross. This was a bit of a puzzler to me…Ross (31) was the type of bullpen man required these days….he went more than 1 inning. That’s become the norm these days…1 inning. For the Cards he was in 9 games, 26 inn, 20 hits, 15 K, era-2.73…better than most.  I wouldn’t think of him as the top of the line….actually closer to the bottom of the line … but he could save arms by going more than 1 inning. I realize that we have a gaggle of young, cheap relievers just itching to sneak into the bullpen. Who wants to be that “mop up” man role? …. That’s what Ross did last year…Surely, surely…it wasn’t because Ross signed for $1.75m contract instead of the minimum of $500,000+.

…..Yadi’ decision….he played in the World baseball matches immediately following the season…. On Thursday he underwent knee surgery. I assume that he feels that the knee will heal completely in 2 months…..I’m not so sure.

….drowning in Bowl games… 30 bowl games is TOO MANY…there aren’t 60 real good teams

Warm Up Bowls….ya know…we’re all familiar with ‘warm up” acts at concerts, performances, etc..well these bowls in early-mid December…they are the warm up acts….many of them hoping to become the “feature” attraction down the road….along those lines… I enjoyed Appalacian State’s play in the New Orleans Bowl. This team was a power force in FCS play—winning 3 straight championships.  Now in their 5th year in FBS….the Mountaineers have won 4 straight bowl games after rolling over Mid Tennessee State 45-13.  This team knocked off Michigan a few years ago….so other Power 5 teams want touch them….how sad. I wrote about Central Florida last week….this school/team is in exactly the same place….not a well know name yet too good for top teams to schedule…maybe we could have a “Step Up” bowl as one of these teams on the rise face a top contender (probably not the league champion) from a Power 5…

….well…I’ve deluged you with all kinds of “stuff”… so you’re probably drowning to keep your head above water….hang on…the end is only letters away.. bye 🙂

Christmas comes Early by Bob Ryan

For the Cardinals…and the Lou….Christmas came early this year. The tremendous acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona brightened up everything under the Cards Tree. Looking at it from many different angles..

…it’s a 1 year contract…an inexpensive one at that for player of Goldschmidt’s pedigree..$14.5m… that enables Goldschmidt and the Cards to see if this “fit” is good for them. Some may view him like other 1B like Orlando Cepada or Jack Clark…coming into StL to ignite the Cards championship fire as the final piece needed to go over the top. Initially…from my view… he really DOES fill several needs…a real “slugger” in the heart of the lineup, an acknowledged star, a slick fielding 1B, a player who plays every day..assuming that the Cards will do that….

….so why did the D-Backs peddle him for “prospects”?….apparently, they felt that in 1 year that Goldie was going to walk sooooo…..they wanted to get “something” for him. D-Backs appear to be on the downward spiral of “tanking” for a couple years …while making tons of $$$…prior to rebuilding (buzz word for letting the fans know that you’ll be losing this year but come and pay anyway to watch these young…and usually less talented players). They have been in the playoffs SIX times since 1999 so they do have some credibility in developing post-season teams.

….the “prospects” traded away by the Cards didn’t really seem to be in their future anyway…Luke Weaver was given an early starting role in 2018….initially, he was a” once through” the lineup type pitcher  then as the other teams saw tape on him…often he didn’t make it that far…his stats 7-11, 4.95 era, 150 hits in 136 inn and it was clear that the Cardinals were losing…or lost…faith in his future & development. Carson Kelly…had very limited AB…..sat on the bench far too much and too long IF you were really trying to develop him….he batted .114…his projection for next year by Baseball Reference is .222… further, I think that the Cards management had already moved on from him and now view Andrew Knizner as Yadi’s successor.. whenever that may be…2030 or so.

….some data on Goldschmidt…..again I am very excited that the Cards got him…but he isn’t  “perfect”…who is? I’m not throwing cold water on the move but…..everyone…every player … has good and bad….so let’s peek at some of the possible “downsides”….

….last year Goldie got off to a very slow start…on Apr 13, he was holding a .191 avg and a .404 slug mark; on May 26 it was still @ .201, OPS .700. In the month of May he hit .144 but in June it was .364 If the gets off to another slow start, will the fan base “turn on him” like they did Fowler?  Must he have immediate success to please our loyal….but sometimes…unrealistic fan base? While Goldie’s  batting numbers are impressive…the year of the most personal highs was 2013 when he was 25 years old..he’s 31 now.  Baseball reference has him projected for these numbers in 2019…. 26 HR, .281 avg,  OPS .884, 84 rbi’s…..are you happy with those numbers? And….his contract is for 1 year….I know that most of Cardinal nation think that THEY can “win him over” …and I do too…but ya never know.

…Arizona played him every day..and always have done so with him. He’s played in 155+ games each of the last 4 years.  He doesn’t seem to need that “day of rest” so often administered by Card Managers of recent vintage. Let’s hope that they pencil him in “every day”.

…he batted in the #2, #3, #4 slots for the D(done)-Backs…his best batting marks were in the #2 spot .349, OPS 1.104. He hit .298 with runners in scoring position throughout 2018. We can’t bat Carp & Goldie back-back, can we? Wouldn’t you put a hitter in the #2 spots who’d benefit from having a slugger like Goldschmidt hitting behind him in the order who doesn’t run much? Like DeJong? It’s Goldschmidt’s THREAT as well as his production that bolsters the lineup.

..Vs division teams….                     avg         OBP       SLUG     OPS

  Vs Cubs                                              .300        .440        .500        .940

  Vs Milwaukee                                .150        .292        .300        .592

  Vs Cincy                                             .409        .435        .955        1.389

  Vs Pittsburgh                                  .280        .419        .400        .819

….receiving an early Christmas gift was the Mizzou Tigers when QB Kelly Bryant agreed to play @ Mizzou next year….while I’m strongly opposed to these “graduates” competing (that’s another issue).. it is wonderful news for the Tigers. Bryant is a run/pass QB…not the cannon arm of Lock…but highly recruited and played for Clemson (can’t get much higher than that level). Also signing without the same fanfare but almost as important is WR Jonathan Nance (formerly of Arkansas). He  also played the transfer rule and will be coming to CoMO….last year the Tigers suffered when speedster Emmanual Hall missed a couple games due to injury…they needed his speed to hit the HR ball and stretch the defense.  Already with these signings and reportedly an easier schedule in 2019….Mizzou is being looked at as a 10 win team in 2019. Congrats to Coach Odum for winning the Bryant battle over many other schools…..sometimes the battles off the field are as important as the battles on the field.

….in another area, one team that is still waiting for their Christmas gift…early or late…is UCF…Central Florida Football.  This school is the ONLY school to have progressed through all the collegiate levels…they were DIII in 1988 when they opened, then DII, FCS and in 1996 moved to FBS status. They have leaped WAY beyond the norm to national status on the collegiate football level.  Clearly, the officials at this school are wondering what they must do……they’ve gone undefeated for 2 years including beating Auburn … of the sacred SEC ….in a bowl ….while changing coaches!!  They’ve captured the fans throughout Florida… their gear is outselling Florida & Fla State! Their conference is not one of the Power 5…hence looked down upon by voters so UCF is working hard trying to get top level teams to play them….the key word there is “trying”….thus far only Stanford in 2019 is willing to do so.   UCF would LOVE to play many other top level schools….but somehow…no other top 20 school can find room for them on their schedule…you know those power 5 non-conference schedules are so tough—filled with the likes of SEMO, Cen Arkansas, N.Mexico St, Kent State, etc…. so then …how do they get national recognition…they need to play/win games against power 5 teams…but none will schedule them!..these “big time” schools don’t want to take the chance that they might lose….UCF has  upgraded their facilities and are continuing to upgrade the level of their recruits. They’d like to join a power 5 conference…maybe one with only 10 teams (like the Big 10) or maybe the ACC  (S.Florida would come into the conference with them to balance the schedule);or into the  SEC as Vandy & Arkansas are pushed out for being non-competitive. (does anyone REALLY think that Vandy will ever be able to recruit the level of student/athletes  that they require to win big-time football ? or that Arkansas really fits into the SEC—they really belong in the Big 12 which would be a better fit for them…. When will UCF get their Christmas gift?  Well….here’s a real early Christmas gift idea….why doesn’t Mizzou schedule UCF on Sep 2, 2021 –drop or pay off SEMO(already scheduled on that date)… and then play a real D-1 team.  The Mizzou hierarchy has been moaning about modest attendance figures of late…. well….how about playing real team instead of a “practice” team who happens to wearing different names on the front of their jersey.  For many decades, Mizzou followed the Don Faurot belief that a team should compete against other strong teams IF they want to be considered strong themselves…no cupcakes. For example, look @ a typical Mizzou  in 1965…they were in the Big 8– Okl St, Oklahoma, K-State, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State. Their non-conference foes that year were Kentucky (6-4), UCLA(8-2-1-tied MU), Minnesota 5-4-1 then Beat Florida(with Stever Spurrier as the QB) in the Sugar Bowl. Final  Mizzou record: 8-2-1. Myself…I’d prefer to see the Tigers competing with teams like those mentioned above in non-conference games than piling up wins over vastly inferior teams.

….never quite receiving the Christmas gift of Recognition on the highest level is Drew Brees. Rarely do people mention him in discussions regarding the best QB in the NFL…usually it’s Brady and/or Aaron Rodgers…but Brees owns many more passing records than those 2 talented QB do COMBINED! Now he doesn’t do commercials like Rodgers or have Super Bowl rings for all his fingers  like Brady but…. but….he IS the top passer of all  time in passing yards—73,000+ currently; is 2nd All-time in TD passes; has led the league in passing 7 times; In 9 seasons , an NFL Quarterback has  passed for over 5,000 yards…Brees  has done it FIVE of those 9 times!  In other words, he has more 5,000 yard seasons by himself than all the other NFL QB in HISTORY combined! Still more…he has over 500 career TD passes…..yet he’s remembered only …seemingly…. for being 6 ft tall! Who cares? His impeccable accuracy, quick release, reading of defenses , durability and production should make him be viewed as the one of the best…if not the best…. QB of all-time….oh….then there’s that super bowl thing….well, He DID win a Super Bowl XLIV over Indianapolis 31-17 in Feb 2010. Btw…on the road to that NFL championship, New Orleans… led by Brees…. The Saints defeated 3 former Super Bowl QB…..and probably 3 HOF QB….they beat Kurt Warner (AZ) in NFC divisional playoffs, beat Brett Favre of Minnesota at the time in NFC title game(they won in OT) and then beat Payton Manning (Indy…basically playing a home game in super bowl). The great Ted Williams….often…if not usually…called the greatest hitter of all-time… was only in ONE World Series and his team DIDN’T win it. It was the 1946 Series won by the Cardinals when Enos Slaughter raced around the bases with the winning run for the Cards.  Who would have thought that for Williams and Stan Musial…competing against each other in that World Series as young players….that neither would ever play in another World Series again! Soooo…..why doesn’t Brees get his gift of recognition?

…receiving the Christmas gift of “growth” was St Louis U.  After beating a good, ranked Butler team, the Bills went on the road to SIU-Carbondale and lost 61-56. This is not to discredit SIU-C but from all reports the Bills just didn’t have the get-up-go attitude and the ability to score inside much or outside with regularity. Give credit to Coach Barry Hinson (he reminds me of Charlie Spoon)SIUC clogged up the inside forcing the Bills to take the 3-balls….shooting only 6 of 26 from beyond the arc won’t win many games . I suspect that the Bills will now see a plethora of teams utilizing the same strategy. The young Billikens will still stumble and fall on occasion as they work to climb the mountain of NCAA-B.

….receiving the gift of a look of indifference …was Urban Meyer.  Meyer just announced that he was leaving coaching when he resigned from Ohio State.  It should have stunned the sports world but…it was met with indifference. His  statement was the same statement that he used when he left Florida  just  2 years later he took his “dream” job @ Ohio ST.  It seems like he has very sensitive, thin skin…. he took a press beating this fall with the handling of his staff; Ohio State didn’t make the final 4; his “dream” job had become more of a nightmare—he was actually criticized in Columbus!!…..what’s next?  Barney  Fife carrying around a bullet in his gun in Mayberry? Look for Meyer  to resurface… in time… perhaps for 2020 or 2021…and maybe even in the NFL…but…for now…the luster has faded from Meyer…so who cares?

…receiving an early…a very early Christmas gift..and shocking most of the Lou HS basketball fans …are the Mehlville Panthers Boys Basketball team as they receive some HUGE recognition for turning around the progam.  Over the years, Mehlville has fielded state level football teams, very solid baseball teams and of late, good soccer teams but this year Mehlville Basketball is back on the map. Last year the Panthers went 14-11 for the season…their first .500+ season since the new millennium. This year Mehlville is holding a shining 7-1 record!  Coach Andy Guethle’s team took 2nd place in the Tournament of Champions (16 team tourney) in Washington Illinois to open up the season. The Following week the Panthers  took home the South Side Classic Championship Trophy. Earlier this week Parkway North fell to Mehlville to push the Panthers mark to 7-1. Jr Davion Bradford, 7’0” tall, carries a double-double as an average. He leads the club in scoring with an 18 ppg mark and rebounds 10.1/game. As you would expect he has 18 blocks to lead the club….but he’s not a 1 man show…Jr Dylan Branson 6-4 carries a 17.7 average while leading the team in assists with 18. Also scoring in double figures with a 13.7 mark is Lamontay Daughtery—another very tall player at 6-7! Congratulations to the Panthers for their tremendous beginning to the season!!

Well… “early” Christmas  gift was getting you to reach the end…thanks.



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.