Luhnow – Hero or Villian by Bob Ryan

Jeff Luhnow –say his name and you’ll ALWAYS get a reaction….some StL fans drool over him and his work….others think that he’s a descendant of Satan…others have heard his name but know little about him and his work @ St Louis & Houston.

….Luhnow was hired by the Cards to implement the ideas of the moneyball philosophy and it was thought that he had an “eye” for talent. However, He was described as a “polarizing executive” and almost immediately had issues with ol’ school Exec Walt Jocketty.  So much so that Jocketty was fired in 2007…just after the Cards has won the 2006 Championship. Why?  Here’s Bill DeWitt’s response, “I think we had a little different philosophy and vision with respect to some baseball issues,” DeWitt told AP, “There was clearly tension. We couldn’t achieve our goals given what was going on.”  However, Luhnow was excellent at his job of player development. While he led that department, the Cards organization, according to mlb.com, had “the best system record in baseball in 2010 as they won 5 minor league championships. Further, it states, the Cards developed 24 Major League Players from his first 3 drafts in 2005-2007—more than any other Major League team in that same time.But…. Jocketty wasn’t the only fatality of Luhnow’s reach in the Cards system. You were either with Luhnow or you weren’t, and as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes it, “The turf war left a high body count.” However, on Dec 11, 2011, Luhnow was hired by the Houston as GM.

…Luhnow apparently convinced the Astros new owner, Jim Crane who had purchased the Astros at the price of $680m in 2011, that a massive “rebuild” should take place. It’d pay dividends in the long run. That it’d take time but …that it would be worth it. In the 2011 season, Houston posted a 56-106 record with a payroll of $85m. 2012 Season saw more deterioration on the field—55-107 but a team slimmer payroll of $54m. 2013 was rock bottom for the ‘Stros 51-111 with a miniscule payroll of $35m…for the entire TEAM, not one player! As a result, the new owner actually MADE a profit! It was said that the raked in an estimated $99 million in operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) this season. That is nearly as much as the estimated operating income of the previous 6  WS championship teams.  Sooo….Luhnow bought his time to develop the star players that he had drafted. 2014 saw some improvement on the field as they went 70-92. By 2015, Luhnow knew it was time to produce on the field. He hired a new manager, HIS manager,  AJ Hinch. Houston went 86-76 with some of the future stars appearing early in their careers. In 2017-18-19,Houston won over 100 games & 3 consecutive division titles.  No team has since the Cardinals in the 1940s has reached that plateu. This year’s “really good” Houston team is the sixth in major-league history to win 100 games in three consecutive years, the first since the 2002-2004 Yankees. But the Yankees didn’t win a World Series in that span. Neither did the Braves from 1997-99, and the 1969-71 Orioles went to 3 consecutive World Series, but won only 1! Many viewed Luhnow as a terrific hero!

….But….all isn’t rosy for Luhnow now. His team…and him…are coming under heavy scrutiny and criticism. The Athletic (subscription required) reported on Tuesday that 4 players, including Mike Fiers, on the 2017 Astros–World Series winning team , admitted that their club stole signs using illegal electronics during games. The Astros would look at a monitor in the tunnel to see what a catcher’s signs were and then if it was a breaking ball or changeup they would bang a trash can to alert the hitter. First released by The Athletic and confirmed by ESPN, Goldstein — a special assistant to GM Jeff Lunhow — sent out email, leading up to the 2017 postseason, to Astros’ scouts with instructions on picking up opponent’s signs with the use of “binoculars or cameras”.  The exact wording in the August 2017 email went as follows:“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. “What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings. Apparently a similar procedure was implemented again  in 2019 post-season games! Now….some say he’s the dastardly villain of the MLB. It isn’t over yet though…keep your eyes…with or w/o binoculars, on Houston & Luhnow J    ..btw…does this change our view of our Jeff Albert? Reportedly, he was brought in to implement the Astros “way” of hitting. The Cards batting marks in 2018 did not come close to our expectations.  Just wondering….did Albert’s skills lie in batting or subterfuge?   …Maybe it was just me being naïve…..I thought that NCAA D-1  football & basketball players received Free Tuition, Room, Food, Medical treatment, Free time with educational advisors, free tickets for their parents, etc. Now I learn that some schools…..which probably means ALL of them..pay a stipend to these players. I’ve learned that it varies with the school. Alabama pays a $5000 to at least SOME of their football players. Mizzou seems to be around $2500. I don’t know if that is just for the starters, upper classmen, or EVERYONE. I’m sure that the remaining SEC schools…and for that matter, all D-1 schools are dishing out these stipends also. Sooooo…..what’s all the fuss about players earning MORE money with their facial resemblances on other products. Or…on the other side of it…why do they even need it? The cat is outta the bag…and out of control. I’m wondering if these “students” are paying taxes on all their benefits across the board?                                                                                     …Robert Thomas, Blues forward, seems more comfortable playing center. His shifty, elusive moves with the puck followed by dazzling passes seem far more suited in the middle of the ice than packed against the boards…oops…now they call it…. the wall.        

…NCAA –BCS (Final 4 format) began in January 2015.Thus, there has been 5 years of this format. In the 5 years of this format–the SEC has placed 6 teams, ACC-5 teams, Pac 12-3 teams, Big 12-3 teams, Big 10-3 teams and 1 Independent (of course, in NCAA-F circles, that means Notre Dame). They aren’t villians I have known personally one of the voters on the committee. He’s indicated to me all the time that the committee members watch tapes of the games and  have substantive meetings to discuss all the teams. It appears to me though, that a trio of teams monopolize the voters inclinations.. Alabama has been in the Final 4 selection  ALL 5 years. Clemson for 4 of the 5 years (and last 4 consecutive years) and Oklahoma for 3 of the 5 years. So of the 20 spots filled in the 5 years of this format, 12 of those spots have been filled by just 3 schools. Were these teams ALWAYS the best 4?….maybe, they were…..certainly, they were good teams….but maybe their history, or big name coaches, or the money generated by their conference carried undue weight. We’ll never know. On the other hand, we should not eliminate a team(s) because they’ve been there recently or frequently. From an outside perspective—again voting on the number of Good teams that these schools have beaten, not their pro prospects, reputation or history, or Coaches’ pedigree….1) LSU   2) Ohio State  3) OU 4) Utah… Clemson’s schedule (modeled after Bama’s soft non-lg) just doesn’t warrant…to me.. top 4 status.

…Early Christmas idea for ur favorite baseball fan– there’s this Astros Sign-Stealing bobblehead. The bobblehead features an Astros employee wearing a jersey that says MVP, holding a Macbook next to a trash bin. The spring effect on the mallet he uses to smash the trash can is the perfect final touch. It doesn’t appear that this is being sold anywhere, but it should be…especially in the Lou J                                                       

…Let’s hope Barry Odum doesn’t get a pink slip for Christmas….however…check this out–

2016   4-9 record–beat–E.Michigan, Delaware St, Vanderbilt, Arkansas    

2017   7-6 record–beat—MO State, Idaho, U Conn, Florida, Tenn, Vandy, Arkansas        

2018   8-5 record–beat- UT-Martin, Wyoming, Purdue, Memphis, Florida, Vandy, Tenn, Ark 

2019   5-6 record–beat- W.Va, SEMO, S.Carolina, Troy, Mississippi

Total SEC wins—Vandy-3x, Ark-3x, Tenn-2x, Florida-2x, S.Carolina-1x, Mississippi-1x

You don’t become a hero because you lose to good teams.

…Lebron James, now in his 16th year at 35 years old was moved…by his own choice…to point guard this season for the Lakers. Sooo…what are the early returns?  Many of his stats are remarkably close to his lifetime stats… FG made/gm; FG att/gm; reb/gm; steals/gm. Down slightly…maybe due to advancing age or the positional change—min/gm; steals/gm; turnovers/gm. Only  a few categories have changed markedly– 2pt % is a career low; Ast/gm at a career high (what you would expect); FT/gm at career low. Lakers record is currently 13-2! It appears that his positional move has clearly benefitted the Lakers to this point and extended his career (not taking the “beating” inside.

Cards Thin the Ranks by Bob Ryan

With Free Agency beginning, each MLB team reaches crossroads on their roster. The Cardinals are no different. These vital decisions will impact the entire 2020 season. Taking a look…

…..To no one’s surprise, Ozuna rejected the Cardinals qualifying offer. It has been raised to a hefty $17.8/year by the league.  If those qualifying offers are accepted, the player fulfills their 1 year obligation and then…may…become a free agent the following year. After accepting 1 qualifying offer, it may NOT be done again to the same player by the same team. So…with Ozuna gone, the Cards outfield seems to be leaning towards a youth program….and a “cheaper” one.  Candidates include (in no particular order)….Tommy Edman, Harrison Bader, Randy Arozarena, Tyler O’Neill,  Adolis Garcia, Lane Thomas and the Cards brightest prospect, Dylan Carlson.  Veterans Dexter Fowler & Jose Martinez also have OF roster spots. Even though the MLB rosters in 2020 will have an additional spot …now 26 players…that’s still a boatload of Outfielders. I would expect Martinez to be moved prior to the start of the season….while he does have a relatively “strong” bat….his defensive liabilities are just too high. Edman has versatility…in fact, he played SS primarily in the minors. Last year, he was used @ 2b, 3b, & RF by the Cards. He DID bat .304…with an OPS of .869 (OPS—on base % + slugging %)…but …Rome wasn’t built in a day or a single year…and neither is a MLB player. We need to see him have 1000 AB prior to making a decision. Adolis Garcia…most remembered for falling down while pinch running in 2018 in a key post-season game is now 27 years old. He has become a “power” hitter in the minors. I see him becoming part of a trade package. Harrison Bader…one simple question…can he hit .240? His elite defensive skills and tremendous speed don’t require a slugger at the plate…but  the .205 average in 2019 is beneath acceptable standards. Tyler O’Neill, built like Popeye, has shown deep power ability but…..can he hit enough just to get on base? Seattle gave up on him and traded him to us for Marco Gonzalez in 2017. Gonzalez won 16 games last year and 13 in 2018. Thus far, that trade tilts heavily towards Seattle. Haven’t seen enough of Randy Arozarena , other than to see he possesses some outstanding athletic skills. Lane Thomas has demonstrated a short, sweet swing in a small sample size. Then, all the talk about 20 year old Dylan Carlson continues to get louder & louder.  The Cards are going to have to thin out this gaggle of OF. It’ll have severe impacts on the immediate future. The Cards have already thinned out OF previously and one has to wonder if the best decisions were made by MO & his boys. Pham was exiled to the Rays. There he’s  batted.277 , OPS avg of .844. Now 31 years old, Pham  seemed to have been moved to Tampa for non-baseball reasons. To some observers, his “edge” that drove him personally was a bit too much for the Cards when he lashed out at the team. So….he was moved.  Oscar Mercado was also moved in 2018, He went to Cleveland. I suppose that Mercado was thought to be behind Bader.  However, he had over 400 AB’s last year, played a very strong CF, OPS .761, , .269 average & 15 HR. We traded him for Conner Capel & Jhon Torres—who?  So basically, the Cards chose Bader over Mercado. So far…it doesn’t look too good to me. It doesn’t seem like we got much for an immediate every-day starter like Mercado. Soo…the Cards begin thinning again…here in winter 19-20 …watch it closely in the next 2 months.   My guess is that O’Neill & Garcia will be wearing different uniforms next year as the Cards try to deepen their starting staff and thin out the OF ranks.

 …..if the Mizzou attendance against SEC teams look thinner to you…it is! In 2014, it was 65,285; 2015-65,120; 2016-52,236; 2017-51,490; 2018-51,466. Sure…the  W-L record is very important but there is an additional factor that may be limiting non-student fans. The SEC football schedule doesn’t announce the starting times for games until the game is a week or 2 away. It doesn’t matter to the students…they’ll be there any time day or night. But,  to some fans driving in from the 2 largest metro areas of Missouri (StL & KC) it does matter. Starting times that vary from 10am, to 1pm, to 3pm to 6pm make it much more difficult to “plan the day” for the OOT fan.  This game time decision is done by SEC  so that the winning teams get the prime spots. But…if you..or the SEC… REALLY want OOT fans at the games …post the schedule with the times in the spring.

…the Heisman Trophy candidate list was thinner after Saturday’s game. Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa was injured late in the 1st half.  Alabama was leading 35-7, but Nick Sagan decided to let Tagovailoa play one more possession to get some work in the two-minute drill. He was injured during that drive. Tua will miss the rest of the 2018 season due to the injury.

….The time line is thinning out for a former NFL QB. Colin Kaepernick had his own personal workout for the NFL on Saturday. It was hastily arranged, on a Saturday when all NFL coaches are zeroed in on Sunday, there were 8 teams in attendance. Why the rush? Why even hold this very unique “workout” for a player 3 years out of the leage? CYA….the NFL is attempting to avert a discrimination lawsuit with the workout. They need some tangible evidence of deterioration in performance to justify Kaepernick not being on an NFL roster.

….The NHL season isn’t any where near thinning out but an observation from a casual Blues fan. When I do watch the Blues, there doesn’t seem to be that constant, deep in the zone, intense forechecking. To me, that’s what carried them to the Golden Stanley Cup Land last year. My early “take” on newly acquired defenseman, Justin Falk I, is that he’ll probably help us in the playoffs but doesn’t look too special to my untrained eyes at this point.

…I had the chance to see SLU basketball last week. It was exciting to watch St Mary’s grad, Yuri Collins perform. He ignited the offense with crisp, classy passes to teammates that often resulted in dunks or wide open jumpers. He ran the show! Now, the opponent that night will never be found in the top 25 but Yuri is for real!  I’d suggest ..if you are a basketball fan…take in a Billiken game….they’re fun to watch as Yuri leads the offense with his golden passes.

….their schedule is thinning out….Mizzou lost to Florida last Saturday. More significant to me than the loss (Florida is simply better) is the lack of discipline for the Tiger players…who commit senseless personal fouls in key spots.  However,  there seems to be no limit  to the  unlimited supply of uniforms. I don’t recognize them from week-week. Maybe Walmart had a sales special on Uniforms? Don’t worry though…MU will whip Arkansas in the last game and qualify for a bowl with 6 wins. It’ll probably be the “Make-Believe” Bowl in Mayberry, Alabama with a starting time close to 10am about 2 weeks after Thanksgiving. Exciting, heh?

…as the college football season thins out….my weekly top 4 has a change. I watched the tremendous Oklahoma come-back against an unbeaten Baylor team. That was a signature win. My new top NCAA-F top 4:  1) LSU   2) Ohio State   3) Oklahoma  4) Clemson (unbeaten but a soft schedule). Putting a Big-12 team into the playoffs seems tough for the NCAA.

…..to wrap it up….special Kudo’s to Larry Kindbom (Washington U’s Head Football Coach). He held the title of Head Coach for 30 years. Prior to his arrival, Wash U struggled in football.  He turned that around andwon 219 games in his 30 years. But….like all really “good” coaches… he’s remembered for much more. He always mentions all the Doctors, scientists, and leaders of the community that he’s coached. He worked with HS coaches. He was a TRUE coach in the fullest sense of the world…he coached all about life…thanks to Larry for all his contributions.

Nationals Time by Bob Ryan

From an ancient proverb comes  these words….”There is a time to be born, and a time to die;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away… well, it certainly was the Nationals time to “get”…..they overcame many obstacles…many deficits…severe odds….with some familiar names…some on the way up….some already there….and some sliding down the downside of their career. Some of the remarkable parts of this exciting World Series….  

…..the Nationals repeatedly overcame deficits… They overcame a two-run, eighth-inning deficit to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card game. Erased a 3-1, 8th-inning deficit in Game 5 of the NL Division Series with home runs from budding stars–Rendon and Soto – before Howie Kendrick finished off the highly favored, 106-win,  LA Dodgers with a grand slam. The “destiny” Nats kept it up… Washington overcame a 2-0 deficit to win Game 1 in Houston. They scored six 7th-inning runs to break open a tie Game 2. Then,  in a must-win Game 6, trailed 2-1 after 4 innings before scoring 6 times in the final five innings to force Wednesday’s Game 7.  Game 7 itself, trailing 2-0 to a seemingly invincible Zach Greineke…suddenly Rondon’s HR….another runner….and Greineke was removed (too quick for my taste…you pay him $34m to be in the game at crunch time)…and Kendricks’ 2 run HR off of a good pitch that he took the other way….and it tailed into the Foul Pole screen …the Nats led instantly, Washington was on top…never to slip… for the remainder of game 7.

…The Astros held Washington to just 1 run in each of the 3 games in Washington. This was the first time that the visiting team…during the middle 3 games of the Series, allowed 1 run or fewer in all three contests

….Game 7 of the World Series was the 210th game this year for the Astros, including 30 exhibition games during the spring, the 162-game regular season and 18 postseason games. Washington played 208 games,  29 in the spring and 17 games in postseason.

…the time already seems to have passed for the Nats…Rondon has become a free agent, Strasburg opts out of his $100m/4 yr contract,  Ryan Zimmermann’s option wasn’t picked up; Matt Adams released….ahhh…the short time of celebrating the championship

…Some Players performed far above normal expectations in the Series….

….Stephen Strasburg, whos 8 2/3 innings win of game Game 6 forced game 7 is the FIRST OVERALL #1 pick of the draft to win a World Series MVP with a team that drafted him. Strasburg had also won game 2 and completed the entire post-season with a shining 5-0 record and a dazzling 1.96 ERA.

…Gerrit Cole was totally dominating…and pushed his Free Agency value skyward like a rocket takeoff…Cole stands in rarified air in terms of dominance. Sunday marked his fourth start this October with at least seven innings, seven strikeouts and one or fewer runs allowed — the second most in a single postseason behind Curt Schilling’s five such outings in 2001….then Cole piled up an 8-0 record .. Including his 2 road starts in the postseason, with a 0.89 ERA (a scant 6 earned runs across 61 innings) over his past nine starts away from Minute Maid Park. Cole’s strikeouts totals were eye-popping ! He struck out 9 Nationals on Sunday, raising his total in this postseason to 47. That’s tied with Randy Johnson (2001), Josh Beckett (’03) and Cliff Lee (’10) for the second-most strikeouts in a single postseason, trailing only Curt Schilling’s 56 for the D-backs in ’01. Further, Cole’s strikeout of Adam Eaton in the fourth inning marked his 368th strikeout of 2019, passing Nolan Ryan in 1974 for the 5th-highest single-year total (regular and postseason combined) in modern history. Johnson holds the all-time mark with 419 K’s in 2001. Despite these incredible numbers, Cole’s post-game remark after being asked for his thoughts on the game, “I’m not an employee of the team” any longer seemed bitter about his treatment and anxious to jump into FA waters. Now, in reflection, “I was upset, and my tone did not come off quite the way I wanted it to,” Cole told the Houston Chronicle. “One win away. We had the lead with eight outs to go. It’s just a tough pill to swallow.” It DOES have to be tough…immediately after losing the WS…that writers are right in your face with personal, tough questions…it seems we all’d talk before we think. But, in a short time….he’s gone from Houston.

But, there were “other” times for athletes this week…

…Already, the Cardinals time is being spent promoting their top prospect…Dylan Carlson. He just turned 21 in October…this switch hitter batted .281 @ Springfield (AA) and .361 @ Memphis (AAA). We fans have been down this trail previously…remember Alex Reyes’ was 4-1 in late 2016…he was going to be our next “ace”….well…now the forecast on him by Baseball Reference for 2020 is a 2-2 record….prospects are just prospects until they actually DO IT in the MLB.

…Maybe, it is Mike Matheny’s time?  He was hired as KC manager. During this Cardinal “time”, I felt he wasn’t prepared to be a MLB manager since he had absolutely NO experience as  a manager other than coaching High School. Now….he does…6.5 years. His remarks sounded like he’d grown…”I must communicate better”, “I must listen better”, yada-yada-yada. But.. WILL he improve on his teaching of running the bases, of handling the bullpen (no more Seth Maness acts) or of Fielding…3 woeful areas during his tenure.  Now….all that being said….basically, there are 2 types of managers hired…. those hired to compete for the title…and those hired to “baby-sit” the doormats. 

…Too much time on hill? Will Harris (Astros reliever) who couldn’t wrap the game up for Houston was probably overused. That appearance was his 80th of the 2019 season & post season…and he was coming on back-back days. I would say that the “time” of any 34 year old pitcher performing with that much work under his belt for the season and so little rest would face steep odds of succeeding

Then….there are some that the time just isn’t right!

…The Detroit Tigers “time” just wasn’t right. They had the pitchers…but not at the right time. Look at their 2014 Starting rotation—Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, David Price, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.  What’s happened to those guys…Justin Verlander – 2017 World Series champ; Rick Porcello – 2018 WS champ; David Price- 2018 WS champ; Max Scherzer – 2019 WS champ; Anibal Sanchez – 2019 World Series champ

…it is time for MSHSAA to look @ the HS playoff system for Missouri. The first 9 weeks of the season are used to seed district teams. That part seems solid. However, why let all 8 teams get into the STATE tournament level. I’d like to see only the top 4 teams of each district advance into the MO HS playoff system. Football is the most difficult sport…in my opinion…to upset another team. As it is now, 1 plays 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v5 in week  10 of the season, which is week 1 of District play.  Soooo….I’m suggesting to let the #5 team play #6 and #7 v #8 for their 10th game of the year (those games would be competitive) while #1-4 seeded teams compete in District(which is the first level of the STATE tournament)….  Currently, the sad, horribly one-sided scores this weekend doesn’t make the losers …or the winners…  happy. I mean…how many football teams seeded 5, 6, 7, or 8 EVER made it to the STATE Championship game anyway? Further, it’d shorten the season by a game so the season wouldn’t have to start around the brutally hot days of Aug 20ish.

…Sooo. ..it seems…in time, some things do run in cycles …

Urban Meyer’s career looks as if it’ll be resurrected again. After coaching 10 straight years with the final 6 years @ Florida…Meyer resigned due to migraines after 2010 season. A year later, he returned to take the Ohio state position. He coached there 7 years, went 83-9 then.. again, resigned due to health reasons… Well…after 1 year, the coaching bug must have bitten him again… rumors are circulating again about another return. Could it be ND or USC?

…well….my time is up….hopefully, you’ll respond, to any part of the blog…in time    

The Golden Age by Bob Ryan

The Golden Age could apply to many parts of history…the Romans, Greeks, Middle Ages, etc….it also applies to the sports world…

…the golden age of each World Series dominates the sports cycle for 10 days-2 week period. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, while many expected Houston to out-hit the Nationals, the Astros have only permitted 9 runs in 4 games. The 4th game seemed like the key…..either Washington could balance the series at 2-2 or Houston would take a strong 3-1 lead.  Jose Altuve blasted yet another HR in the 1st inning to put the Astros up 2-0. Altuve is clearly living up to his “superstar” status in this post-season. Other random notes on players…Nats’ Trea Turner is a terrific shortstop….He  blasted 19 HR, held a .298 average, stole 35 bases, and is a very good shortstop defensively. Antony Rendon will be driving the Brink’s Truck this winter as he signs a mega-deal with some team. The 29 year old has an OPS of over .900 for 3 straight yeasr. Apparently, Houston’s 25 year old Alex Bregman is the unofficial batting coach of the Astros. His astute observations are shared with all in the dugout. He backs it up with OPS averages in the last 3 years of 1.019, .926, .827. Will Harris, a middle reliever, entered the 4th game in a tight spot for Houston and the momentum ready to swing back to Washington. He got the key out, ended the inning and snuffed out the smell of a rally. He had 26 holds this season.  In 5 years with the Astros, he has 104 holds! Final thoughts…..the games are…in my opinion….way too long…..I watched an hour of game 3 and saw 2 innings…period.  Ugh!! Between half innings must be 3 minutes…put those ads on the screen between batters…. more people would see them anyway.

…some say the Golden Age of MLB drafting was the 2011 Draft. Part of that star-studded class was the Astros George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon who all were all 1st rounders. Others selected were Javier Baez, Trea Turner, the late Jose Fernandez, Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer,and Francisco Lindor. That’s quite a team right there!

….the Golden Age of Baseball, or sometimes called the Baseball’s Golden Era began around 1920 to app. 1960. The Golden era of baseball links the Dead Ball era with the Modern Era of baseball. During this time the 1st baseball game was broadcast in color in 1951. By the mid, 1960’s all baseball games were in color. The Golden Age included super stars like  Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Greenberg, Rogers Hornsby and especially Babe Ruth. Ruth was an iconic figure who’s popularity mushroomed the size of interest in the MLB. Also, during the Golden Era-specifically 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color line and led to the growth of the sport. Some of the Modern Era stars began their careers in the Golden Era. Players like Bob Gibson, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks were some of the prime examples of this nature.

…The Nats thought that Bryce Harper would lead them to the Golden Age of baseball—the World Series. Doesn’t one have to wonder if the departure of Harper this season was a major reason for the success of the Nationals THIS year.  I guess they got tired of trying to make the door way wider so that Harper could get his big head…..and salary…. through the door J

….in college football, the SEC is living in the Golden age currently. As one looks at the Head Coaches, it’s very surprising to me that 7 of the 14 Head coaches..exactly ½… are in their 1st Head Coaching College Position.  Barry Odum (Mizzou), Matt Luke(Mississippi), Jeremy Pruitt(Tennessee), Derek Mason (Vanderbilt), Ed Orgeron(LSU) ,Mark Stoops(Kentucky), Kirby Smart(Georgia). Now, Orgeron and Stoops have built up long careers coaching college football. Orgeron has been coaching college football for 36 years—but mostly just as a defensive line coach. Stoops has been in the business 29 years, with 9 years as a defensive coordinator.  Kirby Smart’s 20 year coaching resume includes 3 different stints …total 11 years…with Nick Saban.  Saban…btw…is in his 47th year of coaching college or pro football. To expect a 1st year head coach to compete successfully in a league with so much pressure is probably unrealistic, unless they have tons of experience. So…..is it any surprise that the other 4 first-time coaches are all experiencing difficulties? Why would schools hire the most important position on the athletic staff who have NEVER been a Head Coach previously?

…Speaking of coaches, CBC soccer has been in the Golden Age for 49 years now under the leadership of Terry Michler.  Coach “Micks” recorded his 1000th victory recently. He’s the winningest high school boys soccer coach in the nation. Think about it…..almost 50 straight years of 20  wins are needed to nail down that 1000 win bullseye.  Coach attended CBC as a student and was a star athlete as he was the starting QB in football in the fall and obviously….starred in soccer in the winter…..yes….for you younger readers, MO played boys soccer in the winter until the late 1970’s. For years he held some of the passing records @ CBC until the run & shoot offense evolved.  He graduated from Rockhurst University in 4 years. He turned down an opportunity to coach @ CBC upon graduation so that he could play professional soccer. Terry went on to play professional soccer in the days when the newly formed American league REQUIRED 2 Americans to be on the team. As I recall…there were 16 American born players in the league, Coach was one of them. Two years later, the CBC opened up again…this time, Coach accepted the offer. He moved back to CBC …and the golden age began. He has taken several trips to Holland to stay current in the “latest” soccer approaches and strategies. His current record is 1000-283-117. Congratulations to our friend for his skill, quest to keep improving, teaching skills and love of the game! …College Football is golden in many ways. It has the Golden Gophers (Minnesota), Golden Eagles (So. Mississippi), Golden Hurricanes (Tulsa), Golden Panthers(Florida International), Golden Knights (Cen Florida), and of course the Golden Dome @ Notre Dame J

….In the College Football mode….it was a Golden week of games…surprises galore! …I was really surprised that #19 Michigan manhandled #8 Notre Dame 45-14. The Wolverines dominated the line play and pounded ND’s defense all day with a fierce running game inside the tackles. Michigan’s Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, needed the win badly to hold onto any claim of being a national power. His Michigan team had only beaten 1 top 10 ranked team in 11 games prior to Saturday….I was shocked as I scanned around the multitude of NCAA-F games on TV on Saturday afternoon, early in the game, to see K-State ahead of Oklahoma. The Wildcat crowd was extremely enthusiastic and their energy carried over to the players. The final of K-State 48, OU 41 was shocking! It wasn’t surprising to see OU with 41 points but for K-State to put 48 on the board was incredible. Offensively, K-State was as balanced as can be…213 rushing and 213 passing. On Defense, K-State sometimes rushed only 3 players on many downs, hoping to “cover and take away the quick score.  As I watched Mizzou, the QB’s in the “shotgun” formation on running much more often on the college level. Kentucky’s QB wasn’t a good passer, so MU went man-man coverage on passing. Using the others to rush the passer….it often worked…but on occasion, when the Kentucky QB broke through the initial wave of players, usually on a QB counter run play…it was a huge gain. Mizzou’s loss hurt.

…Love to read YOUR thoughts on any of these topics….send them to me via email (rjryansr@charter.net), on FB (Bob Ryan), or respond on Prepcasts (www.Prepcasts.com)

Green Light – Red Light by Bob Ryan

We all know about the green-red-yellow light system as we drive. However, we also face it in our daily life– the same green light (go ahead make that move in your life) or red light (nope…can’t do it) system. It’s true in sports also…

….the Cardinals are facing a tough decision on Marcel Ozuna…do they resign him (green light) or…..more likely… offer a qualifying offer (a 1 year deal) to him. I don’t think that the Cardinals are considering a multi-year offer to Ozuna. So…it’ll be a qualifying offer. The qualifying 1 year offer would be  for $17.8m. If another team signs Ozuna …after this qualifying offer has been made….that team would have to surrender a draft pick compensation to the Cardinals. The latest trend in MLB is that teams DON’T want to sign a high priced free agent (or one un qualifying offer status) AND give up a draft choice. If no team signs Ozuna…or he refuses to sign with another team, he’ll be a Cardinal again.   Do the Cardinals REALLY want him back? He did carry a big offensive load in August/Sept push that put the Cards into the playoffs. But, in the playoffs his bat was silent for the most part. His defense has been spotty and his throwing to bases from the OF has been challenged over and over again (no red light for runners when Marcel is throwing the ball). His key drop in the NLCS against Washington was determined by statistics to be 75% catchable. So….what would you do…you can’t trade him…he’s a free agent.

…..Barry Odum’s Mizzou Tigers really had a BAD RED Light on Saturday. A huge…almost 4 TD favorite….the Tiger 21-14 loss to Vanderbilt was a real RED Light for the program. Coupled with the Wyoming loss in week 1, the Tigers under Odum are 3 -7 in games that have a 7 point or less difference in the final score in his career.  I haven’t seen all of the Mizzou games but have noticed a few things. They DO have talent offensively and defensively.But,  I have also noticed areas of weak self-discipline when they make a good play…they occasionally “talk the talk” to the opposition. Even Albert O after his TD pass was penalized for “yapping” at the opponents. I think this type of “talking AT your opponents” really manifests lack of self discipline AND in close games that weakness jumps up to bite them in keep spots late in the games….with penalties, missed assignments, whatever. It can be corrected…..Coach Odum has that as one of his challenges.

….I applaud the decisions of Cardinal Ritter HS about the illegal use of a player in game 1 of the season. Using a player, who had been suspended for just that first game, sends a horrible message to the player, team, parents and community. There ARE rules that must be followed. Ritter forfeited all their games  for this season(according the MSHSAA), fired the entire coaching staff and suspended the team for the entire season. All the coaches and players knew what was going on when this star running back wore a different jersey, used a fake name to play in the game. the Violation was caught be a StL P-D high school writer who noticed the tattoo on his “unknown”  player’s arm that matched the tattoo of the star running back of this VERY talented team. The Athletic Director also retired due to the affair.  While I love sports…and worked as hard as I could to win in sports…..a coach and all the players MUST stay within the rules AT ALL TIMES. 

…..just when I was ready to write a fire him (RED LIGHT) note on Lovie Smith for his work @ Illinois, the Illini jump up and spring the upset of the yaar in the Big 10 with a win over #6 ranked Wisconsin 24-23 with a last second FG. It was the first win for Illinois over a ranked team since 2007. With that win, Lovie holds a 12-31 record @ Illinois. Lovie was made famous by his work in the NFL…especially with his cover 2 defense (2 deep safeties) but that was almost 20 years ago. The last winning team that he coached as a Head Coach was in 2012!

…STAR players make BIG plays in BIG games…..how about the Green Light for Jose Altuve’s walk off Home run for the Astros in game 6 against the Yankees sending them to the World Series. The Cards never received the benefit for a STAR player performing like that in the 2019 post-season.

…..we’re moaning in the Lou about losing the NLCS to Washington….what about the Yankees?  NYY has always handed out the cash year after year but haven’t made the World Series since 2009. They have a deep bullpen, sluggers galore, a deep bench…the only weak link seems to be the starting staff. Due to it’s shortcomings, the bullpen gets a bit overused at times. NYY management will need a GREEN LIGHT to sign a top-flight starter…did you say Gerrit Cole?

….there was a RED LIGHT on passing in the Georgia-Kentucky game on Saturday. Bulldogs QB, Jake Fromm was 9 of 12 for a whopping 35 yards. Kentucky’s QB was just 2 of 15 for 17 yards in passing!  There was a total of 106 total snaps for both teams in this fast moving, no incomplete pass, mode….to give you an idea Boise State had more than that number by itself earlier in the year!

….sorry….I have a RED LIGHT on the Blues…..I’ve never really watched them closely until after New Years…..still holding to my tradition. That’s real hockey time…when the weather gets cold outside J

…I recently had an email from a friend who wanted the Cards to trade Matt Carpenter. While the idea is appealing…who’d take the guy with his salary.  I think that the ONLY  way that he could be traded would be with a young, talented, inexpensive player to another mid-level team  for a rather high cost, aging player or pitcher. Free Agent-wise 3B Josh Donaldson is on the market…his last contract was for $23m…will the Cards go above that?

….Could the Cards use Tommy Edman as their “variety”GREEN LIGHT man.  He’d play most days..but just not at one position….3B, RF, CF….where ever…. he hasn’t reached our 1000 AB mark yet (that’s the minimum time before one should determine the skill of a player) so he’s not yet an absolute, but I’ll take my chances on him.

…some have asked that I shorten my blogs(use a RED LIGHT)…..so I’ll give it a try this week. Thanks for reading and I’m anxious to read YOUR thoughts on Marcel….and/or any other part of the blog.

Crackerjack Surprises by Bob Ryan

When some of us were kids, Cracker Jack was a common type of candy. Inside every box came a surprise “prize”. Those surprises usually amused us for a few minutes….and then…it was forgotten or discarded.  That’s about the same spirit of sports surprises…it catches our attention….for a short while…then moves into the graveyard of our memory bank by about Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week! Nonetheless, there were a plethora of “surprises in the sports world in the last week…..

….Anibel Sanchez….who? a 35 year old, 14 year veteran who carries a 108-108 lifetime record….this grizzled vet, ties up the Cards bats like he was Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax or Greg Maddux. His “fast”ball seldom hit 90mph yet…..Sanchez gives up 1 hit in 7 2/3 innings on Friday night…. Surprise? …more like SHOCK! Listening to the game on the radio as we returned from covering a football game, the announcers were incredulous that Sanchez was performing in this manner. Once again, his control and craftiness in mixing up his pitches on key counts and putting them in absolutely perfect spots. It was a surprise to ALL!

….then the next game, two long-time pitching stalwarts….one past his prime and the other on the cusp of leaving his prime (Wainwright & Scherzer) battled in yet another pitching dual. Between the 2 of them, we’ve seen 342 wins, 4600 inn of Major League pitching, 15 shutouts, 4 saves, 794 games in the MLB, 33 complete games—two true professionals but….could they still do it? Both pitchers were superb….again it wasn’t the over powering fastball….it was the pin-perfect control, the art of pitching….again made enjoyable because EVERY batter mattered and was worked on by the art of the pitching craft. Surprised by their work? Really? These will be 2 HOF pitchers. Monday night may bring us more surprises.

… after years…maybe decades… of pandering to the televised audience and not the actual crowd in attendance, the MLB seems surprised that attendance is down…again…for 6th straight year. We ALL know the answer….MLB is making more money from televised, national games than at the gate. Here are 7 possible reasons for the drop in attendance..1) Length of game…. Years ago…..it was 1 minute between innings….it’s increased to 2:30 now…why has that time increased…we all know the reason…to satisfy the needs of the televised sponsors.  This time between innings  increases more for post season games… for Joe…or Jane… FAN at the game, it’s probably close to 4 hour day at the ‘ol ballpark before fans (who stay the entire game) start for home.  2) TV coverage is REALLY good…and if it’s a bad game….you just turn it off…you don’t feel obligated to “stay and watch” 3) While the attendance is down, the income generated from the fans is UP. Sooo…does it really matter to the MLB teams where the money is coming from? 4) Some teams “tank”…..grab the TV $$$…bank it…and send out a minor-league level team. These teams still show a profit due to ….yep….TV money. The fans have the opportunity to watch their team compete…for almost a month or so….then…they are outta of it in the standings.  Attendance in these markets lag far behind. One might speculate that some of these markets…after years of bad teams….are NEVER going to build a fan base. 5) Only a few franchises….like StL, Yankees, Boston, Cubs, Dodgers  have generational fans. Tradition keeps the attendance moving down the line. In the vast majority of teams, that generational pass-on doesn’t exist…and…I’m not so sure that it will even continue in the Lou. 6) MLB is doing a very poor job of reaching out “youngsters and young adults—teens or in the 20’s”. Not only is attendance dropping with that segment but how will it attendance be brought back when these current young adults have their own families?  The MLB… especially the Cardinals… seem to think that giving away trinkets … or shirts… bobbleheads… hats… whatever…will lure fans to the game…maybe that’s their “reach out” to the younger generations….but to this point, MLB, in general, doesn’t seem to care about actually taking direct steps to touch the youth….e.g. could teams could return to “teen night”- deeply reduced ticket prices for seats less than 250 feet from home plate for teens; dugout nite when much younger fans  walk thru the dugout prior to game to see their heroes,o autographs that will be sold later…by someone else; let kids or teens (not adults) play those contests shown on the big board during the game;  7) Let’s face it…there are …probably…only 10 of the 30 teams that know….deep down…that they actually have a post-season chance. Another way to raise attendance is to raise hope. Mandate a minimum salary base for EVERY team. Hopefully they’ll bring in some ‘stars”….even if they are overpriced (e.g. Harper, Machado) .. if they do ….it’ll raise hope and interest….at least for awhile.

….One additional area of MLB surprises….I’m surprised that more people  aren’t hurt at the ballpark….I would suggest…1) extend the netting all the way from foul pole to foul pole….fans want souvenirs….leave enough room under the bottom of the netting to squeeze the ball under the netting to kids. 2) Make sure that all bat boys/girls wear helmets with a face mask on it. Remember Encarcion’s career ending with a foul ball hitting him in the face….now, those batboys DO wear helmets but they should wear helmets with  a football facemask to protect their face.

…..on the NCAA-F “surprise” front…..

…a surprise was the ease that Mizzou handled Old Miss 38-27. The Tigers looked much more athletic and stronger in the line. The WR corp looks to be balanced while Roundtree is a power back that each good team needs. While seemingly always in control…there still were missteps…2 missed extra points. (footnote….I coached HS Frosh Football for 12 years….never had 2 missed PAT in an entire season…much less a single game—and I don’t think it was my coaching), on occasion the LB seem to get bottled up inside…. Mississippi….like many others have attempted…is trying to serve 2 masters by platooning QB Matt Corral (can pass & run a little) and John Rhys Plumlee (can really run and pass a little)… seldom…if ever…. Does switching QB on & off during the game result in a win over good teams…maybe over average or weak teams …but not good teams. On a side note, the Tigers played with emotion…that’s good… but… sometimes…after a good play… a bit too much emotion…that’s not good….it sometimes causes lack of concentration on the next play. I also thought that the defense took some poor angles when flying after Plumlee, who would then turn the corner on them for a longer gain. On the bright side…..the Mizzou offensive production has been terrific…the Tigers have NEVER scored less than 30 points in any 2019 game!

….Not a huge surprise….OU’s speed choked off Texas 34-27. The Longhorns did seem to adjust as the game unfolded but the LB, Secondary, WR, D-Line –ALL looked quicker that Texas. OU had the emotion to begin the game…as game unfolded, Texas regained its composure…used an unbalanced line to befuddle the Sooners defense against the run. OU QB Jalen Hurts, the transfer from Bama, seems much more relaxed by this completely up tempo offense…and also maybe because there isn’t any competition for him @ QB J  He’s not looking over his shoulder if he makes a mistake.

…most were not only surprised,,,but shocked… in the biggest upset of the day…. that Georgia (24.5 points favorite in pre-game)  fell to S.Carolina in 2-OT  20-17. S. Carolina’s kicker Parker White split the uprights for a 23 yard FG to win the game.  Georgia’s kicker missed two FG attempts at the end of the 1st & 2nd OT.  But….the real reason… some say….for the loss, was 4 turnovers (3 of them INT). The momentum still seemed to be heavily seated on the Bulldog side of the field when Georgia marched on a 96 yard drive to tie the game with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. But…the Gamecocks survived the two missed FG attempts to snatch the win and drop Georgia out of the top 5 and maybe even the top 10.

….no one can be surprised that Antonio Brown is attempting to get back into the NFL. No doubt, he was…maybe still is…a premier receiver. However, Professional teams are reluctant to bring in a player who has experienced so much difficulty with other players and/or other teams…right or wrong…it seems the only chance that he has is  with the Patriots …yet .. it seems as if that bridge was burned a couple weeks ago.

….we began with the Cracker Jack….let’s finish it up with Cracker Jack….W.K. Kellogg was the first to introduce prizes inside Cracker Jack boxes in 1912.  The origination of Cracker Jack has varying interpretations  but most agree it was sold in 1896. It was so popular in the early 20th century that it became part of our national pastime’s favorite song, “Take me out to the Ballgame” with the lyrics , “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!” Prizes were included in every box of Cracker Jack beginning in 1912.  At one point, Baseball cards were the prizes. Some lucky person…or people…found the card a T206 Honus Wagner Card. That card sold on April 6, 2013 for $2.1 million in an online auction! Frito-Lay now owns the product.  Thanks for the read! YOUR comments….surprise or not….are always invited.  

Bright Lights of Post Season by Bob Ryan

MLB teams compete for 6 months of games to compete in the post-season. It’s much easier now to make the playoffs than it was decades ago as for years the ONLY post season was the World Series. But….it may be more difficult…in another way….because a team now must win 2 or 3 different series against tough opponents. Each game…each series …is in the bright lights as each play, player and team are scrutinized closely throughout the month of October. Some players thrive on the pressure, others wither, some fall apart, some become stars for life with their play….for many, their play in post season will define their careers.

….Last night’s Cards-Braves game was a thrilling game. The low 3-1 score made each play, each pitch, each managerial “move” important.  Despite not winning, Adam Wainwright’s pitching was incredible. The 38 year old Wainwright was in his element in the bright lights. His mixture of his 90 or 91 mph fastball with his curve along with his control made it a thing of beauty to watch him carve up these MLB hitters. On the other side, seemingly anxious under the bright lights, Carlos Martinez fell apart . It seems to me that Carlos seems to pitch much better out of the windup. His efficiency seems to sag when he goes off the stretch. Mgr Mike Shildt used Martinez just as he’s done late in the season. On the Braves, Mark Melancon, who clearly is on the downside of his strong closing career, kept his poise…and control…. to wrap up game 3 for Atlanta. The Unlikely bright lights heroes of  SS Dansby Swanson (who made several outstanding  defensive plays & Adam Duvall will carve out a small piece of Brave history. Btw…the Cards pitched to Swanson because of his .187 batting average with runners in scoring position—which was the lowest in the majors this year among qualified players. For Duvall, it was the 2nd consecutive game that he’s delivered late in the game at clutch times. Maybe they’ll start throwing him some breaking balls…with some in the dirt. It’s clear that he can hit fastballs.  Will Shildt continue to go back to Martinez tonight or game 5? What would you do?  If not, who would you use at crunch time?  Please keep in mind an unspoken area….salary level of players …..the high priced guys probably won’t be on the bench to see a minimum pay level player replace him. IF the lower paid player fails, won’t management question their manager about the usage of the squad? Or…maybe just fire him for that type of usage.

… Some Players are “made” by their performances in post-season. Right off the bat here in StL, David Freese pops into mind. Other players are remembered …probably beyond their actual life-time stats level for their post season play—Will Clark for his huge batting numbers in 1989—he batted .650 in 22 plate appearance, slugged 1.200 for the playoff series,  and an OPS of 1.882 for that series…btw, Clark batted .468 in 70 post-season plate appearances. Just in World Series action, several Yankees dot the record book….Another StL connection, Yogi Berra holds multiple World Series records —hits with 71, he’s 2nd in runs scored-41,  3rd in HR (12). Another familiar name to more recent history—Reggie Jackson is 2nd in total bases in a season-1977; tied for 1st in HR in world series-5 also in 1977. Mickey Mantle’s name is sprinkled across many other World Series records. Across the league, Bob Gibson became recognized as a HOF pitcher with his work in the 64, 67, 68 World Series. He was 7-2 lifetime  with a 1.89 career ERA in the World Series..  And what a difference from today…he completed 8 of his 9 starts!!!  WOW!  Yadier Molina has definitely carved out of place in MLB laurels….

based on the longevity & performance of his post-season performances that spanned from 2004 to 2019. He’s participated in 21 different post-season series (including Atlanta). His post-season career batting mark is .285. He’s been in 4 different World Series that span from 2004 to 2013. The other catchers who fall into this “fame by familiarity & performance” category… are Yogi Berra (14 World Series from 1947 to 1963…he holds many batting records for post season play)  and Thurman Munson( 5 straight post-season, including 3 World Series). Munson died in a plane crash in Aug 1979 at age 32…so he could have played in a few more post-season affairs.

….Historically, the teams that shine the most under the bright lights are those that capture World Series championships. In modern times, it may be lessened to which teams “make” the World Series. The Yankees pop right into mind….and justifiably….it was the acquisition of Babe Ruth that began this 100 year run by NYY. I said one-hundred year RUN! WOW! In 1920, Ruth was sent from Boston to NYY for $100,000 equivalent to about $3+m in today’s money. It almost sounds like chump change in this new era of huge money! Ruth began this 100 year dynasty of the Yanks.  It’s really incredible….I know…I know…they spend the most money because the make the most money…none the less, judgements must be made on star players, developing players, on fading players. Take a look at these numbers

WORLD Series Champion:1923,27,28,32,36,37,38,39,41, 43,47,49, 50,51,52,53,56,58,61,62,   

                                                1977,78,96,98,99,2000,09 – 27x

World Series participant: 1921, 22,26,42,55,57,60,63,64,76,81,2001,03 -13x

Playoff participant: 1980,95,97,2002,04,05,06,07,10,11,12,15,17,18,19  -15x

That’s 55 playoff appearances since the Babe was acquired-100 years ago!

….In the 2019 playoffs to this point…..there are still players who are drawing the bright lights…Justin Verlander’s superb shutout,1 hit in 7 inn  pitching keeps him in the bright lights that he’s earned over the years; Steven Strasburg’s relief & starting roles have made him special thus far—9 inn, 5 hits, 1 run, 14 K’s; Ronald Acuna has brought bright lights for his batting (4 of 8) but also the lights go out for him as he made crucial baserunning mistakes (poor judgment on one and complete lack of hustle on another). I don’t care if he’s “only” 21….you teach baseball beginners to run out every ball…period.  Yandy Diaz’s light is shining brightly..obtained by the shrewd staff of Tampa Bay  …at a minimum pay player…he almost single-handedly won the wild card game against Oakland with two home runs. Another bright light belongs to Daniel Hudson this post season. He was obtained by the Nats at the trading deadline and in post season…where middle relievers oft determine the winner/loser of the games….he already has 2 saves.

….Bright lights don’t shine their brightest in NCAA-F until the “pre-season” cupcakes are swallowed up. We’re finally coming close to the end of these cupcake parties….some bright lights are beginning to glow…the SEC….since Mizzou moved in….has always claimed that the Western Division is superior to the Eastern side. This year in the West, it’s Alabama & LSU. Bama appears to be its usual “bright light” type of team….but its difficult to determine, when they play such a soft non-league schedule. Meanwhile, the completely revised LSU offense which utilizes all the athleticism that seems to always have been there, but was  laying dormant, has been brought to life. This year the Eastern side of the SEC has Florida and Georgia. Both are extremely capable. The Gators just knocked off a solid Auburn team on Saturday. However…. unless they win the SEC title, the cupcake wins over Towson & UT-Martin may make them unappealing to the Championship committee. The LSU-Florida game this weekend will indicate which team stays in the bright lights and which moves on.

…Mizzou’s bright lights dimmed a bit…or maybe a lot….with the injury to Kelly Bryant. The offense had been redesigned to use his running …and passing .. skills. The Tigers will have to alter their offense and count on a strong defense down the road in order to stay in the bright lights. However,  after the next 2 weeks when they face a mild challenge in Mississippi (3-3) and a cupcake in Vanderbilt (1-4). The string of three consecutive tough games for Mizzou begins. It starts with Kentucky, then bye week(why 2 bye weeks in a season now?…are we trying to play right up the the New Years Day bowl games?), Georgia & Florida. Kentucky may not look challenging to you…or the Tigers…but….Kentucky has won the last 4 years against Mizzou and the game is at Kentucky. Georgia & Florida speak for themselves.

…groomed for the bright lights  of the future by the Cards…maybe as early as next year if Ozuna is not resigned…slim chance that will happen….20 year old Dylan Carlson batted.281 this  year in 108 games @ Springfeild-AA. He did draw 52 walks, struck out 98x in 417 official AB (almost 1/4o f the time) and belted 21 round trippers. What do you think…..do we throw him out there right away next year ….or….keep him down past the magic day that gives the Cards an extra year of control……knowing the Cards history….we probably know that answer. Not viewed as such bright light is Randy Arozarena. However, I would give Arozarena a legitimate shot …starting in spring training…he’s now 24….ready to arrive in the bright lights at the highest level.  Carlson will get his day.

….never thought that I’d see the day that WWE goes prime-time bright lights on a major network. It’s a shame that Ric Flair isn’t 20 years younger…..he’d be a national hero! Whhoooooaaa….I’m turning off my lights now….thx for the read! Love getting YOUR responses…you can disagree that’s natural….no 2 people always think exactly the same.

Breaking the Tape by Bob Ryan

For the majority of the MLB teams….the race to the finish line never existed….or many faded …or… never were in the race to the finish line….that leads to some usual …and unusual responses..

….first of all, the Cardinals despite some struggling times during the 2019 season, break the tape on the final day of the regular season. With the Cubs as the opponent….Joe Madden already fired….the 3 best players on their roster injured…and with Jack Flaherty on the mound…I felt that if the Cards jumped to an early lead of a couple runs or more that the Cubbies would fold… and they did. The outcome of game wasn’t in doubt after 4 innings. The bottom of the 8th …with the Cards coasting easily….saw a genuinely “neat” moment. Long time MLB player, 38 year old Ben Zobrist pitched the bottom of the 8th.   His 70ish MPH fastball was sometimes in the strike zone,  and sometimes had movement (seemed to drop from lack of speed), but he apparently was fulfilling a life-time dream. He was known as a player who played every IF and OF positions. The Cubs missed all of his contributions this year as he went to a prolonged marital issue. When he struck out Yadi to end the game, the two of them realized that he was a professional but living out a childhood dream.

…why did we not go “all out” to reach the finish line first? Did anyone else find it strange that in the last week, in the heat of a tight pennant race, that the day after the upteen hour game that lasted until 3:30am against Arizona…the Cards played only one regular starter (Tommy Edman)?  I realize that they’d be tired….but wouldn’t their opponents be the same way?  Btw…the Cards lost this game 9-7….with every game being  extremely important in this very, very tight pennant race. Why give one away …with a day off the next day and only 3 games remaining? Rest up all winterJ

…as long as we’re talking Cardinals….in the 2nd last game of the year, trailing by 2 runs, closer Carlos Martinez was brought into the game to pitch the 9th inning. He struggled to get through the inning and threw 26 pitches. There are only 2 other times that Martinez has thrown that many pitches as a reliever since July 1. On both those occasions, he did NOT pitch the next day! Why would you take the chance of weakening him or not be able to use him for the crucial final game of the year. We were already behind by 2 runs on Saturday!!

…talking about going wire to wire…..Paul Goldschmidt will play in 161 games this year! WOW!   Sure….some wanted a higher average….I would too….but he is a typical #3 or #4 batter in the lineup—has power and avg is secondary. His defensive play at 1B can not be understated. Our 1B defensive play last year between Crap…oops…Carp…and Jose Martinez was almost amateurish in nature. 161 games in this era is phenomenal…..the last Cardinal to play 160 games was Albert Pujols in 2009. Prior to 2009, the next year that a Cardinal played in 160 or more games was 1989 (30 years ago) when Pedro Guerrero, Jose Oquendo and Terry Pendleton ALL played in 160 or more games. Also in 89, Ozzie played in 155, Milt Thompson 155 and Tom Brunasky played 158 games…never were Bob Dylan’s words more true, “ the times…they are a changing” btw…the Cards were 86-76 in 1989.

…now we look ahead to the next “tape”….the division series against the Braves…taking it one area at a time…the Braves have been more productive at the plate in 2019. To me the most important stat isn’t Home runs, hits, on base…it’s simply –who scores the most runs.  The Braves are #7 in the MLB while the Cards are #21. In the OPS (on base+ slugging %), Atlanta was #7 in the MLB @ .791 while the Cards were #22 with a .735 mark. To some experts…far above my pay grade…the lineup is said to be “thin”. They could site these reasons—only one healthy regular is above .275 (Tommy Edman—Wong is injured); 4 of the starting 8 players have more strikeouts than hits;  the Cards have scored 4 runs or less in 86 of their games while Atlanta average 5.27 runs per game. On the other side……the Cards are a different team than many…the Cards are statistically the #1 defensive team in the MLB….the Cards have been aggressive and successful running the bases (outside of pure steals)..the Cards bullpen was steller in September. The Braves have stayed healthy throughout 2019. Four very important players (Ronald Acuna Jr, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson and Ozzie Albies have all played in 150+ games this year. All four of them have an OPS over .800! Nick Markakis contributes significantly in key situations.  In many games, this foursome bats #1-2-3-4 in the lineup. The starting pitching as a young ace (just like the Cards) 21 year old Mike Sorotka was 13-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 164 innings.  Seasoned vet, Dallas Keuchel was acquired just for this purpose—post season experience. He’s a lot like the Cub pitchers that we’ve seen in 7 games in the last 10 days. He was rocky in his first few outings in mid-season but has found his niche of late. Julio Tehran seems to really struggle against the Cardinals. Mike Foltynewicz was down and then back up later in the season with better control. Young Max Fried..may or may not get a start…hope he does…we’ll hit him.   The bullpen has struggled on and off throughout much of the season. Mark Melancon was acquired to nail down games. Cards starters…..Ride Flaherty as often as you can….he’s our man! Get 2 starts out of him! I’m worried about Dakota Hudson in this series. He’s given up 22 HR and Atlanta is a HR ball-park. Hudson has thrown 174 innings already this year…hope he still has some gas in the tank.  As much as I admire Adam Wainwright…you can tell almost immediately if he “has his stuff”.  If he doesn’t, take him out earlier rather than later.

….soooo…what should you watch for…..which team has to go early to the bullpen…the Cards seem to be better set for the 8th & 9th but the mid-innings could be a struggle for both teams…so whichever team calls for bullpen help early…they’re in trouble;  I think that the Cards have the advantage in the 8th-9th innings with their pen; the Braves bat the “big” guys at the top of the order—Cards can not allow the bottom of the Brave order to get on base early in an inning and set up these guys with men on base; Cards have speed now (Edman, Bader, Wong—maybe?, Fowler to a point)….I don’t think that the Braves catchers, Tyler Flowers & Brian McCann, are real good at throwing out runners—advantage Cards; Cards defense MUST stay steller despite the “pressure” of the game; the Cardinals must make the Braves hurlers throw strikes…too many times this season, the Cards batters went after low breaking sliders outside the strike zone and came up empty. If the Cards swing at those pitches, we’re in trouble. The Cards really need Goldie or Ozuna to have a big series….they can’t get by without those big bats.

….In the world of NCAA-Football….…the finish line for the Heisman Trophy race puzzles me….how can Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts be considered as a Heisman candidate when he left Alabama because he had lost the #1 job? He wasn’t the best QB @ Bama yet now some think that he’s the best player in the entire NCAA?

…A team that most fans thought would make a run to the finish line…fell short….way short….the most disappointing MLB team this year was the Philadelphia Phillies. All the hoopla about signing Bryce Harper has led to nothing except an enormous salary…the first year of contract was amazing low..only $11m….next year it jumps up $27m and stays at that scale for 8 more years! It drops to $23m for his last 3 years of the contract. 2019 saw Harper hit a mediocre .258 with 34 HR and an OPS of .877. Harper did lead the team in RBI’s -109 and runs scored-96. Another key acquisition,  JT Realmuto, carried a .275 batting mark with 83 RBI’s (high for a catcher) and OPS .820….anything over .800 is good… and played in 145 games. Juan Segura was signed prior to 2019 season fr a $14.9m salary. Pitcher Juan Nicasio was grossly overpaid…at least from my eyes…for $9.5m. Pitcher Jason Vargas got $8m from the Phils and Inf Ceasar Hernandez $7.75m. Total team salary over $174m….this club isn’t at .500 as I write it on Friday afternoon!

…Can he help us get to the finish line first? I must admit that I really LOVE Harrison Baders’ style—tremendous CF with unbelievable range, cannon of an arm; speedy baserunner who challenges other teams but…..it’s the hitting. When he returned from the Minors after 3 weeks from Aug 20 to Aug 31 , he batted .313 while chalking up 8 walks and only 5 strikeouts. At that time, I thought “YES…that’s all he needed—a brief refresher”. However, since Sept 1, Bader has regressed..and big time.  In the 25 games of September until today, he’s 17 of 88, a .193 average, with 8 walks and 37 strikeouts. His OPS for this time frame is a weak .618. Randy Arosarena may not have the pretty boy looks of Bader, or the cannon arm but he can play good D in CF, covers ground and …most importantly….he’s come up swinging in the MLB. Or…maybe …it’s Tommy Edman who in 300+ AB in the MLB has demonstrated the ability to hit pitching at this level. I hope I’m wrong….but….to this point, Bader is swinging at too many pitches outside the strike zone and not making contact to remain a starting regular CF. Maybe, he could be a defensive replacement in the last few innings?

….has the finish line changed for our expectations?  Veteran Rangers pitcher Mike Minor reached his finish line of 200 strikeouts in a season. But…it was accomplished in a shady manner. With only 3 games remaining in the season and Minor, a starting pitcher, not scheduled to start another game. His last appearance was his last chance for 200 K’s. So a foul pop up that should have been caught easily, was dropped by a teammate (apparently intentionally). This was done so Minor could strike out this batter and reach his 200 K’s plateau. My ol’ baseball style says, “it stinks”.  A MLB player should never try less than his best. So what if this big league player doesn’t’ get  his 200 strikeouts. Who cares other than him? Why downgrade the performance level for personal reasons?   It makes me wonder…who else is dropping balls, throwing balls away, striking out or any other play without their best effort.  Your thoughts? 

….its extremely difficult for NCAA football schedule makers to have appropriate schedules since they are done years in advance. We’re going into October now and most NCAA-F teams have played….maybe 1… or on occasion.. 2 teams… appropriate to their level.  Here’s a suggestion… why don’t all the Power 5 conferences help solve this matter.  Make each of their schools keep their second weekend open. Then schedule on that weekend…. For example…the Pac 12 schools play  the ACC schools; same weekend  SEC schools vs Big 10; Big 12 vs best independents or Mtn west.  Using the standings from the previous season,  Let the #1 of each conference  play the #1 of the other conference and #2 vs #2’s …all the way down to #12 vs #12. Ideally, you could do it on a 3rd also weekend on all their schedules…only mix up the conference matchups.  If that’s too “tough” on the #1 Teams…just draw their opponents out of hat in this conference v conference matchup. At least, they’d be playing other power 5 conference teams.  No more…. D-II’s, or extremely low level D-1 AA schools. Currently, all these silly one-sided games , that really benefit no one except giving an easy “W” to the host team are an insult to the fan and the sacrificial lamb’s who walk away with some cash but no dignity, less recruiting ability for the “good” players, and the ultimate put-down of being recognized as what they really are….no one like to look at the mirror that closely J

September – Suspenseful & Surprising by Bob Ryan

September brings to us many tense, suspenseful moments in baseball & football.  While September also ushers in some startling, surprising facts about players and teams. So are “good” surprises while others are disappointing surprises.  So…..here we go ..

…it was more than surprising..it was shocking as the Cards swept the Cubbies 4 straight wins by one run! The Cards did it in all ways…coming from behind…jumping out early…good starting  pitching….good relief hurling…Paul Goldschmidt drives in a winning run in the 9th. Not only were the Cubs shoved out of the division race but they’ve fallen 4 games behind in the wild card…..I’ll write about the upcoming Cards-Braves series next week.

…right under our nose…..Adam Wainwright has really been spectacular in September..to this point this month…he’s won all 4 starts, pitched  27 innings, just 20 hits allowed, just ONE earned run for the entire month! He’s dropped his season long ERA from 4.52 on Sept 1 to 3.83 on Sept 20. Apparently, he’s abandoned the attempt to strike out players… he now throws up there a variety of breaking balls at varying speeds.  He has forced the Cardinals into resigning him for next year……one exception…if by some miracle (like 2011)….the Cards DO pull off something unbelievable and take home all the marbles….I hope he retires then.. on the top.

….On Aug 12, the Cards fired batting coach, Mark Budaska. I thought that it was weird having 2 batting coaches anyway. I wrote about it in the following blog. But….eliminating a 2nd voice… may have been significant and given us our suspenseful September. The Day Buddha was fired the Cards were 61-55…going nowhere fast. As I write this prior to Sunday’s game,  the Cards are 88-67 soooo…they’ve gone 27-12 since the time that the firing occurred. What’s really strange is that Buddha was a proponent of ol’ school hitting….make contact, advance runners, swing “big” at times. Jeff Albert(who remained as the hitting coach) was an advocate of the new launch angle, analytics, don’t worry about K’s…they’re just outs, etc. Since his removal, the Cardinals, at least to me, seem as if they ARE playing more ol’ school offense. The Speed of Wong, Edman, Bader has ignited this offense….it’s a surprising situation.

…unless you’re really an avid numbers guy in MLB stats….the player with the best average in the MLB…..Tim Anderson (CWS)…that is startling to me….who’s ever heard of the guy? Well.. he does play for arguably one of the worst MLB teams (CWS). He was a 1st round draft choice in 2013 by the Sox.  He’s batting .334. He has hit 18 HR, stolen 17 bases with an OPS of .866.  Now…THAT is stunning!

….it was startling…..the MU Tigers handled …somewhat easily…one of their SEC nemesis, S. Carolina on Saturday.  The 34-14 victory did have a couple key “turnaround” plays in the 1st half for the Tigers…but being objective….MU dominated the stats as well as the scoreboard. MU outrushed S.Car 194-16 on the ground. MU moved the chains 26x as to just 11 for the Gamecocks. Time of possession was one-sided…Mizzou 37 min, SC just 22 min! It was an impressive SEC win for the Tigers. Meanwhile, the folks in Columbia…Columbia SC…are calling for the head of Head Coach Will Muschamp. If he doesn’t make a bowl this year..he’s toast.

…this September has been particularly suspenseful for the Chicago Cubs and their fans…. yes…I hear all of you shedding tears for them J . Even as the Cubbies made a run at the Cards for the Division Lead but now look like also-rans….rumors were hovering about Wrigley….that Joe Madden would be fired; that players had not performed up to expectations despite a huge payroll; the Addison Russell debacle; and if one looks even deeper at the Cubs, another huge obstacle arises. The Cubs starting rotation has 4 pitchers that are 30 years of age or older and the 5th starter is 29 years old. Hendricks is signed to 2024,$70m remaining on contract; Darvish til 2023 $81m still owed; Lester just until 2021 and only $45m owed him; and Quintana has only 1 year left for $11.5m commitment. The bullpen had 4 more pitchers over 30 years old and another at 29.  This club appears to be on the brink of a complete pitching rebuild while their starting 8 field players have NO starter at 30 years of age yet! Is this the doings of the GM or the manager?    Sooo…Cubbies have some issues in the future…and this year has been ….almost….wiped out this  week by the Cards series in Chicago.

….The #3Georgia-#7 Notre Dame game was really a good game between two very good teams. Georgia won 23-17. The Bulldogs had more “big-play” athletes than the Irish. ND’s game plan was to run the ball…shorten the game. It was a highly competitive, suspenseful game.  Statistically…other than the scoreboard-the ultimate stat…it was close–.total yards—Geo-339,ND-321;1st downs—Geo-18, ND 14. Now Georgia did hold a wide gap in ball control-34 min to ND’s 25 minutes. QB Jake Fromm of Georgia was very impressive with his poise, arm and accuracy. In my mind, Georgia now holds the best “victory “ of the season and should be rated #1. I would not drop ND out of the top 10 because of a 1 score loss to a likely #1 team.

….the MLB race for the wild card spots is really suspsensful….one night it looks like this team is in or out…and the next night a different team. I was NOT an advocate for the wild card but it has added excitement to the last weeks. Quietly, Oakland, with 90 wins  will be back in the playoffs again…that Billy Beane style of squeezing out wins  is amazing!

…I was shocked the other evening as I watched the Cards…Marcel Ozuna actually threw out a runner trying to advance last week!  That seemed about as likely to me as an Ivy League team beating an SEC team in any sport….oops…other than scholar bowl J

….does anyone EVER  think of the words “Colorado Rockies” and “good pitching” in the same sentence?  The Rocks bullpen has been stellar in 2019. A big part of it is the emergence of Chad Bettis in the bullpen. The RHP has thrown 24.2 innings, holding a 1.46 ERA and a terrific 0.93 WHIP. He’s been a 1 batter specialist and a multi inning guy…whatever is needed. He’s led the Colorado bullpen which usually surrendered runs easily and often in past years. This year the bullpen has been decent while the Rocks have sank to the bottom of the NL West.

….biggest butt-kicking of the weekend, was Wisconsin running all over Michigan. 2 weeks ago I thought that the Army-Michigan game was outstanding and thought that ARMY must be really good….well….it’s just Michigan isn’t real good. It was 35-0 in the 3rd quarter when Wisconsin called off the dogs a bit and coasted to a 35-14 win. Wisconsin has an image…huge, smart, feet moving lineman who’ll run right at you, use a bit of play action, multiple formations & motion  to disguise their simple run plays. Generally, because of their style, the can recruit good or even outstanding running backs. The Michigan team looked like a C+ team playing an A level team. Jim Harbough?  Ya gotta wonder…yes he can coach, but in the Pro’s, the GM’s acquired the players….in college, its HIS choice of whom to pursue and coach.

…here’s a suspenseful question for all of you….who is the Cardinals MVP in 2019. Sure…Paul Goldschmidt does have the HR and the Defense…but he just doesn’t seem like he’s ignited the team upwards  with huge hits at key moments… I’m anxious to see YOUR thoughts.

…I never have been able to get “into” MLB spring training or NHL/NFL pre-season…still can’t.. the Blues pre-season like all the others …just doesn’t do it for me. Not that I don’t’ want them to do well in the season….but heck…their season just ended 10 weeks ago!

…Antonio Brown….ur outta sight….outta mind.

….I’m rather surprised by it….but I think that Jim Edmonds is making a case to become more of a coach…of some kind…with the Cards. His comments on Fox Sports…nowadays…refer to discussions and advice that he’s given the players.  In my mind, he’s also doing a much better job of being an analyst…instead of reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

…somehow .many thought that USC had been shoved aside as the Pac 12 top-dog. Those fans thought that Utah has supplanted them. In their suspenseful game Friday night, USC grabbed a 30-23 win. Gone for Utah after this game is their Top 10 ranking, favored status in the Pac 12 South and any hope of a making the College Football Playoff. Doesn’t matter that they had 79 offensive plays to USC’s 54 or that they outgained the Trojans 457-381 or that they scored only 1 TD in their last 5 trip inside the 20 yard line….the “L” next to the game is what matters in these tight games. Voters seldom vote for losers in September top 10  polls. Unless…you lose in a close game to a top 10 team. (see above—ND-Georgia)

There’s no surprise coming down….I’m wrapping it up. I encourage you to send comments to a) email to me; b) post on Prepcasts   c) post on Facebook on my page  Thanks for the read!

Car Wash Sports by Bob Ryan

When you get a car wash for your car, its all shiny and bright (hopefully) on the outside. But….the real “guts” of the car …the engine and all its components …are under the hood….and…we can’t see how that looks or is doing. Same in sports…we see the outside (the games) but really don’t see what’s under the hood…..let’s take a look under the hood.

….the 1st place Cardinals, despite our objections, really have reached the top of the standing on their batting!  It looks all nice & shiny on the outside!  But….Arguably the best 4 teams in the MLB (Houston, Minn, NYY, LA Dodgers) do something that the Cards don’t possess. StL has more strikeouts as a team than HITS! Those top FOUR teams have more HITS than strikeouts. The Cards have 1248 Strikeouts while having 1223 hits in 2018. These really good teams have more HITS than strikeouts…. Houston (perhaps the best MLB team) has 1431 hits and just 1081 strikeouts; Minnesota has a 1413-hits to 1237-strikouts look; under their hood, the NYY are 1403 to 1309.  Oh yeah…some of you say…only AL teams with DH’s can do that…and that is a valid point but….sorry.. the Dodgers are 1307 hits and 1237 hits. Further, some of the key Cardinals compound this issue of NO batted ball put in play…Paul Goldschmidt  149 K’s, 142 hits; Paul DeJong 139 K’s to 133 hits;  Dexter Fowler holds 118 K’s to 109 hits; Matt Carpenter’s numbers are alarming– 116 K’s to 85 hits!! Harrison Bader has 96 whiffs and 64 hits.  Other less significant contributors like Tyler O’Neill, Matt Wieters,  Jedd Gyorko have similar numbers with respect to more K’s than hits.

….for years, I’ve admired Coach K of Duke. I was under the impression that the Duke’s  car always looked so shiny to me and  was clean on the inside also….well…maybe not so much…..the entire collegiate basketball world was shaken by the shoe deals of the shoe companies paying extremely talented high school players to go to a particular school and wear their shoe.  Duke’s name came up but direct hits were taken on the outside of the car. Now….after the State of California wants to pass a bill to pay the athletes, Gilbert Arenas , who played 11 NBA seasons comes out and says, that play players are already getting paid! Further, he says he that knows of two players in the last five years who were paid $200,000 to attend Duke rather than Kentucky. My suggestion of 2 years ago still stands…..forget about the student aspect of college basketball….pay the players like entertainers…like you would a band that comes into the university to entertain them. Set a tight team limit on team overall spending…let’s stop playing the “pretend” game that these basketball jocks are really students. Further, these basketball entertainers would not have to be fed, housed, tutored, or even doctored by the university.  They would be independent contractors. It’d  really be less expensive to just pay them outright. Would you cheer for your team less under that system?

…..the unbelievable 2018-19 season that brought the Stanley Cup to The Lou for the first time made their car VERY bright and shiny.  But under the hood, things could break down in a hurry. As we look ahead however, success on the ice leads to payroll increases for the Blues. This season, GM Doug Armstrong squeaked under the max limit by a scanty $500,000 or so. Next year, the payroll battle will accelerate as several key players on their final year of their contract before becoming unrestricted  a free agent. That includes Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Brayden Schenn and Robby Fabri. Some will probably be signed, some released and some traded this year. I will stick my neck out from under the hood and say Bouwmeester and Fabri will likely be traded this year.

…after a tarnishing the shiny, HUGE outside of the car @ Texas….. on Monday, LSU Head Coach  rattled the engine of the Texas Longhorns when he said that there was NO air conditioning in the visitors locker room BEFORE or DURING  the game @Texas (that includes half time).The Temperature at game time was just under 100 degrees. Coach O had been warned about that locker room condition by Louisiana Tech who had played the previous week @ Texas. Coach O did have his staff bring along several fans but that wasn’t enough. Many LSU Tigers had cramps during the game, especially the 2nd half. To top it off, the Texas fans, presumably not knowing about the torrid locker room temps, were booing repeatedly  as the LSU Tigers lay on the ground with cramps. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte released a statement on Monday afternoon.  He said, “The comment today about lack of air conditioning in our visiting locker room is the first we’ve heard of any issues in that area. We provide one of the best visitor setups available and are proud of the efforts we put forth in hosting our guests. Our facilities staff did not receive any complaints from either Louisiana Tech or LSU, and we’ve confirmed that our air conditioning in the visiting locker room is in good working order”.  That’s the biggest non-denial, denial since Richard Nixon’s days!! Who do you believe?

…Marcel Ozuna is trying to shine up his car and make it presentable for the Cardinals to sign him to another contract. He says that it  is “My Priority”.  While he’s hopeful…from my view…the Cards have far too many young, cheap (always important) outfielders to keep Ozuna. In fact, I could see the Cards deciding on which 2 or 3 OF that they want to keep (Harrison Bader, Lane Thomas) and trade 1 or 2 OF (Tyler O’Neill. Randy Orozarena, Adolis Garcia –too old, now 26 in minors) of bolster the starting staff for 2020. Wacha won’t be resigned…and not sure of the magic of Wainwright…againJ

….while the shine of donating to the Red Cross Blood Drive was evident on many collegiate gridirons.. as many lower teams gave blood (the game) for money….for example—Mizzou 50 SEMO (D-II) 0; Tennessee 45 Chattanooga 0; Georgia 55 Ark State (D-II) 0; Notre Dame 66 New Mexico 14; Miami 63 Bethune-Cookman (D-II) 0. ANY WIN over any division II team should NOT count towards the minimum of 6 wins to play in a bowl.  Let’s see if it makes sense….beat teams of lower levels of competition so that you may qualify to play one of the top teams of division 1 in a post-season bowl.  There is one good point…IF Mizzou insists on playing sub-standard teams on their schedule … and paying them to play.  Keep that money in the STATE of Missouri….pay another team from Missouri.

….one school shined up their car for the 1st time in a long, long time. Kansas won a game against a Power 5 program for the first road win in 5 YEARS and a win for the 1st time since 2008 at the stadium of the team beaten by KU (the other game was a bowl game)! The Jayhawks pummeled Boston College4 8-24. Head Coach Les Miles had to be ecstatic. His club had been beaten by Coastal Carolina…not exactly a household name in D-I football…the previous week. Keep shining it up Coach!

….btw….there are far too many bowls…..I wish that there were only 20 bowls ..the top 40 teams. The crowds are miserable for these tiny…not so shiny bowls….its pure & simple…TV money keep those bowls going….ugh! btw….even Nick Saban agrees with me….he thinks that the SEC should play a 10 game conference schedule not just 8 games…which is done to provide many schools to play cupcakes .. gain 3 or 4 wins in the pre season so that they may reach the 6 WIN level plateau to qualify for a bowl game.

….speaking of Alabama, it seems that they’ve ALWAYS been bright and shiny and their engine has always been perfectly timed. Well….look back just a few years…and it actually sputtered, halted and stopped a bit. After Gene Stallings retired in 1996, Mike DuBose was hired. He was the SEC Coach of the Year in 1999 but an overall 24-23 in 4 record and rumors of an affair with the secretary led to his removal. Dennis Franchione went 17-8 in 2 seasons. Mike Price didn’t even last a year. He was hired in Dec, 2002. But in May, 2003, his contract was rescinded after news reports of Price being seen at a strip club while attending a golf tourney in Pensacola, Florida and an unknown charge of $1000 on his hotel bill. MikeShula was next in line, he was 10-2 in his first year and won the Cotton Bowl in 2004. He sank to 6-7 mark the following year and due to violations of NCAA rules, Alabama had to vacate the 16 wins from 2005 and 2006. Nick Saban arrived in 2007. He has shined up that Alabama football car and driven them to a 127-20 record during his time at the wheel.  Soooo….short of the story…. every  car …even shiny ones…..have troubles under the hood at some point and time.

…well….my ol’ 2009 Malibu needs some shining myself….thx so much for the read!  Your comments are always welcome…send to me, publish on Prepcasts, put on Facebook…doesn’t matter.