Strikeout or Home Run by Bob Ryan

Currently…..it seems in most baseball games…. that batters hit a home run or a strikeout…..well…..we’ll look @ some stats to verify that notion and expand the HR v K in other areas…..

In MLB stats…..take a look at HR/plate app    and K/plate appearance over  a span of time

HR/Plate app                      K/plate appearance         HR+K/plate appearance     Year

.030                                                        .221                        .251                              2018

.024                                                        .185                        .209                              2010

.030                                                        .164                        .194                              2000

.021                                        `              .149                        .169                              1990

.019                                                        .082                        .101                              1980

What this means is that in 2018 ….25.1% of the AB or either a strikeout or a HR…..that’s way too high for my taste….1/4 of the time a dinger or a whiff…..the HR have become so common…how exciting are they? Back in 1980, it was 10.1% that a HR or K was the result…..the ball was being put into the playing field….quicker outs….or more runners…..more excitement from my ol’ perspective. As a youth, I recall games beginning at 8:00pm and hitting the exits around 10:15pm!!

Some other strikeouts or home runs across the sports world…

….back in the 1960’s …ABC network wasn’t competing well with NBC or CBC…Roone Arledge created the idea of Monday night football…he decided to bring a “big” college game on the air as the blockbuster introduction or the idea… The big splash was to be in Birmingham’s Legion Field in a game between two established coaching rivals.  Even back in 1960…Bama…then under legendary coach Paul Bryant… was already a powerhouse. When Rooney sent a team of lighting experts to see if the lights in Birmingham were adequate for televising football…..it was not…but Bryant wanted to do the game… so when Arledge notified Bryant of the decision….the Bear assured Arledge that it would be “taken care of”…that he’d make a call to Birmingham’s mayor…if he won’t do it….”he’ll never be re-elected” Bryant said! Game was ON!  What a matchup—Bear Bryant vs legendary U of Mississippi coach, Johnny Vaught.  Both coaches were at the top of their “game” and highly respected….in fact, the 2nd most successful program in the SEC in the 60’s was Ol’ Miss. Both coaches hated losing …especially to each other!  Arledge got lucky…real lucky…it was a 33-32 Alabama win…still considered one of the most exciting games in college history…btw…Ol’ Miss QB is guy that you’ve heard of…Archie Manning…he passed for 436 yards and ran for 104 more yards….that night was a HUGE HOME RUN for football

….staying on the football field…the “mercy” rule in Missouri high school football(running clock in 2nd half when a team is 35 points or more ahead)…just isn’t working….it’s striking OUT …this weekend… I recorded the margin of the winning HS teams in StL and Illinois teams in the area….. remember…the numbers listed is the size of the lead when the game ended..if Margin was Between 0-10 points—there were only 10 games; winning margin 11 to 19 points–14  games…if the winners won a game by 21 &29 points—16 games; if the winning margin was 30 to 39 points—12 games; winning margin 40-49 points-13 games;  one team won by 50 points…2 teams won by 56 points and 3 teams won by 62 points!! So more teams won by 40 to 49 points than those winning by 10 points are less….one team that won 62-0 actually had their 2nd last touchdown of the game scored by a player who already had scored 3 touchdowns….how sad is that?….my suggestion..same as last year…if any team gets ahead by 40 points at ANY time…game is over…1st half…2nd half…it doesn’t matter….similar to the 10 run rule in baseball. I’ve heard some coaches say that when the losing team subs their weaker players…they’ll do the same….shouldn’t it be the OTHER WAY around?…or say….that it’s not fair to THEIR starters….really? or some say, “ well…you just have to get better”…..how about trading athletes and see then how you’d coach those players who “have to get better”.

…Mizzou struck out with their all white uniforms…aren’t their colors black & gold? What’s next week….green ? purple? Blue uniforms ?

….Hitting a HOME RUN with their small payroll AND good win total is the Tamp Bay Rays…..their record of 81-66 which is slightly better than the Cardinals mark of 81-68. Tampa has a gross salary in 2018 for active players, players on DL, retained salaries, deferred salaries, signing bonus money, MLB salaries for some players in minors….total salary… $79m!  WOW!!!

….Striking out in Champaign Ill…the U of Illinois continues to ride the Lovie Smith train…he’s 7-20  right now after his team lost to the Juggernaut known as S.Florida…that game typified  Smith’s tenure @ Illinois…  110 penalty yards in 12 penalties…there were multiple turnovers, blocked kicks….sure Lovie has the name ….but his “day” is long past….he was instrumental in the development of the cover 2 defense of the early 2000’s…that day is LONG past….offenses have caught up to the cover 2….and Lovie.

….maybe hitting another HOME RUN under a new Coach….UCF…U Central Florida is 2-0 to start the football season and …might… run the table again after going 13-0 last season…. The previous Coach Scott Frost….left for his alma-mater—Nebraska(now 0-2 after losing to Colorado and Troy)

….the Cleveland Browns just don’t seem capable of hitting a Home Run of any sort…it always seems to turn into a strikeout…in week 1, the Browns have a game winning OT FG attempt blocked…so they tie the Steelers…in week 2…the same kicker misses a game-tying FG from 44 yards and the Browns fall to New Orleans 21-18….ouch…. super ouch….

….the Cincinnati Reds sure hit a HOME RUN when they acquired Scooter Gennett 2 years ago. He hit .295 with 27 home runs last year and this year he’s batting .318 with 22 dingers. Why did Milwaukee given up on him…he’s a 6 year career, .290 hitter

High School Teams of the Week…

Softball…Rosati-Kain Kougars have really turned it around in 2018 with their 9-1 record. Last year the Kougars were 9-15, in 2016, 7-13 and in 2015 Rosati was 3-17! Mya Bethany leads the club with a .618 average and a slugging mark of 1.029.  Bethany also paces the team from the pitching circle…she’s 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA. This robust hitting team has 7 players batting .475 or HIGHER! Mallory Coleman holds a .600 batting mark. Kasey Beck leads the club with 15 rbi’s while Kate Kleinegger has stolen the most bases with 21 thefts. Congrats on “turning it around”….it’s hard to do.

Volleyball…O’Fallon Christian won the Summit tournament as they defeated the host school 2-1 ( 25-15, 19-25 and 25-21)in the championship match. Alyse Cundiff led the way in the championship match with 18 kills while Belle Monaco added 12 more kills.  O’Fallon advanced through the pool play by beating  Rock Bridge(2-0), tying Summit (1-1) , tying Marquette(1-1) and beating Westminster(2-0). In the Semifinals, O’Fallon Christian beat Mehlville 2-0 and topped off the big day with the championship win over Summit. The Eagles are now 15-1-3 for the season and were ranked #2 in the small school poll last week by the StLToday staff.

…well…you’ve hit a HR….you made it all the way around the bases and to the bottom….

 

One Would Think by Bob Ryan

One would think…..                       

 …For all the hype about Jordan Hicks fastball…..one would think…that his strikeout/inning ratio would be very good….not so much…the “good” ones average more than 1 strikeout per inning… Hicks has 60 strikeouts in 68 innings..under 1.00/inning ..meanwhile Wade Davis (Colorado closer) K/inn ratio is  over 1.000…66 strikeouts in 57 innings..there are many other pitchers over 1.00 in K/inn ratio but Davis is another closer-like Hicks….the best in the MLB is Chris Sales 146 inn/219 strikeouts….#2 is Gerrit Cole 176 inn/243 strikeouts…#3 is Max Scherzer  193 inn/260 strikeouts

…When one considers that the Cards paid Aledmys Diaz $5m to sign as a 25 year old…drove him around the Jupiter field on a cart like he was Caesar returning from a winning battle…one would think…that he’s a keeper for the long run….not so much…traded after 2 years for some guy named J.B.Woodman (hitting .246 in Palm Beach)…myself…as you all know by now…I question the ages of ALL the Latin American players….heck…about the age discrepancy….I’d play the game too…I’ll say I’m 19 instead of 21 to impress the scouts…I don’t believe….could be wrong …that the birth certificates don’t have the same reliability as in the USA…be that as it may…are Diaz & DeJong really that different? Check it out

                     G       AB     Hits     HR   RBI   runs   avg    OPS   errors 

De Jong       93    352      81        16     51    58     .230    .732    10

Diaz           110    365      93        17     45     53    .255    .738       7

Is there something that I don’t know about Diaz? Why give him away for a class A Player?

….one would think that the Cards will be attempting to “go in a different direction” at 3B for next year… I just don’t see Goryko being the permanent answer…this coming winter, the 3B free agent list.. for the most part….is like a list of Senior Citizens in the MLB… Adrian Beltre (40), Asdrubal Cabrera (33), Josh Donaldson (33), Logan Forsythe (32), David Freese (36),Marwin Gonzalez (30), Chase Headley (35), Jung-ho Kang (32) ,Jed Lowrie (35), Manny Machado (26),Mike Moustakas (30), Eduardo Nuñez (32), Jose Reyes (36),Andrew Romine (33), Pablo Sandoval (32), Luis Valbuena (33)….so….does DeJong go to 3B and make room for one of the “hot shot” SS in the Cards farm system?

…one would think that Mizzou should be 3-0 with Purdue (0-2) upcoming on the schedule…the Boilermakers  20-19 loss to E. Michigan last weekend was a stunner

….after Jose Martinez has assembled a strong batting year…one would think that it is an ideal time to “move” him to the AL to fill another need…Martinez’s value will probably never be this high again

…one would think that the best college football team should seek to play against the toughest non-conference teams throughout the entire season.. to convince voters ..and other teams ..that they ARE the best….well….Alabama’s  schedule isn’t even listed in the TOP 20 toughest schedules…the Crimson Tide DOES have their  SEC schedules (including Mizzou)… their 1st opponent Louisville has been generally a good team…so OK there…but scheduling Arkansas State and the Citadel….so what if they go 12-0…they REALLY went 10-0 against quality teams…that’s assuming that ALL the SEC teams are good….and we know that not ALL of them are good….so ….that the teams who schedule tough non-conference opponents get ignored because of the 12-0 mark staring the NCAA rating  voters in the face.  According to the Athlon Sports & Life page…the toughest NCAA schedules are: 1) Florida State  2) Nebraska  3) Notre Dame   4) Pittsburgh    5) Auburn   6) Arizona St  7) Michigan  8) UCLA   9) NC State   10) Texas A&M—Auburn is the only SEC team on the list.

….One would think when you hear of “ACC excellence” that the discussion is about Mens Basketball for its many skilled teams…but…how about Mens soccer?  Although the season is young…most have played just 3 or 4 games…. Wake Forest is ranked #1 ,#2 is Duke, #5 N. Carolina, #7 Louisville,  #8 NC State, #10 Virginia, #12 Notre Dame—not bad ….7 of the top 12 Mens soccer teams in the country are in the ACC!! I don’t think that even Mens basketball reaches those heights

…One would think …the best NCAA non-conference football game this weekend was Clemson playing Texas A&M..Clemson won a nailbiter 28-26

…One would think that more pitchers would try to improve their batting…..Bob Gibson indicated in a recent interview that he was a good hitting pitcher due to the fact that he worked during his off-days with Harry Walker in the batting cage…why don’t other starting pitchers do the same…well…I know Harry Walker is  passed but ANY batting coach … why are they automatic outs when… probably… many of them were the best hitters on their amateur teams?

….One would think the the Cubs installation of a huge scoreboard to block viewing from across the block was an original idea….not by a long shot… Shibe Park– the home of the Philadelphia  Athletics/Phillies  which opened  in 1909 and closed in 1970  was the first of the modern era, as it was the first built entirely of concrete and steel. Its most noticeable feature is its 34-foot high right field wall. This was done to prevent building owners who were located across the street from erecting bleachers and allowing fans to watch the game, much like Wrigley Field today. In case you’re wondering…the field was named for Benjamin Shibe, one of the original owners of the team, along with Connie Mack. Mack eventually gained full control of the team but kept Shibe’s name on the stadium until 1953 when he changed the name of the stadium to….guess…. Connie Mack Stadium.

…….Like all MLB teams, the Cards have made many transactions this year…and over the years… occasionally….the Cards hit a gold mine with acquisitions like Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Jim Edmonds, Orlando Cepada, Scott Rolen, Willie McGee…. etc…. sometime they send away or don’t resign players who perform at high levels…Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Ken Boyer, Red Schoendienst, Justin Heyward, ..sometimes they acquire players who don’t produce at all…Ron Gant,  Greg Holland, Bobby Bonilla,Tino Martinez (a clubhouse cancer on top of it), Kip Wells,  Ty Wigginton,  Mark Ellis, Mike Leake, Brad Penny and the most recent, Brett Cecil. In the current MLB land…money is now usually a large part of the consideration…more & more….the weaker teams sell off the better players who are approaching free agency for “prospects”….code word for cheap, young players to the contending teams….teams who are healthy in the pocketbook, sign higher priced free agents in the off-season and then snatch these seasoned vets for the final 6 weeks of the season. With no agenda….since you’ll hit the jackpot sometimes,  sometimes you come up short, and sometimes it’s apples & oranges for the guys who were traded…not really much difference ….here’s a list of some of the former Cards around the MLB currently….make your own judgments….most are performing as one might expect…a couple surprises….who surprises you?

Batters in no particular order….

Stephen Piscotty  .265 average, .800 OPS, 22 HR, 71 RBI, 526 plate appearances

Tommy Pham  30 games,  .307 (20 of 65)  3-2B, 2-3B, 2-HR

John Jay  .246 avg, 66 games, 2HR, 19 rbi,  OPS .660

Daniel Descalso   121 games, 582 plate app, 348 AB, .250 avg,  12 HR, 52 RBI, .821 OPS

Aledmys Diaz   110 games, 288 plate app, 365 AB, 17 HR, 45 rbi, .255-avg,

Justin Heyward   .275 avg, 7 HR, 52 rbi,  111 hits-404 AB, 114 games, .740 OPS

Albert Pujols (currently on DL) .245avg, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 117 games, 114 hits/465 ab, .700 OPS

Randall Grichuk 105 games, .244 avg, 19 HR, 49 RBI, .775 OPS

Mark Reynolds  71 games, .268 avg, 168 AB, 45 hits, 13 HR, 38 rbi, .874 OPS

Pitchers in no particular order

Steve Cishek  68g, 4win-3saves, 1.99 era, 0.96 whip 72 K’s, 23 walks,3 saves, 21 holds, 68 games,63 inn, 38 hits,

Seunghwan Oh…better known in this blog as…swingwhen OH…6 wins, 3 saves, 19 holds, 2.83 era, 1.02 whip, 63 inn

Adam Ottovino….66 games, 69 inn, 6 wins, 6 saves, 29 holds, 100 strikeouts,  1.96,era, 0.96 whip

Joe Kelly….  64 games, 60 inn, 60 strikeouts, 4 wins, 2 saves, 20 holds, era-3.75, whip 1.37

Mike Leake  9-9, 4.11 ERA, 171 inn, 189 hits (ouch), whip 1.298

Pat Neshek….23 games,  2 wins , 4 saves, 4 holds,12-k’s,   era-1.40, whip 1.09 (injured much of year)

Sandy Alcantara… (primary pitcher in Ozuna trade)…2 games, 2 wins, 12 inn, 6 hits, era-0.75, whip 1.08….too small sample size to reach conclusions but VERY STRONG beginning

Zach Duke….62 g, 45.1 inn, 5 wins-4 losses, 15 holds, 45 inn, 53 hits, 4.37 era, 1.61 whip (9th MLB team!

Marco Gonzalez….25g, w-l—12-9,  145.2 inn, 159 hits, 128 strikeouts, 4.32 era, 1.28 whip

I think that the one that really “got away” was Adam Ottovino…he pitched 5 games for the Cards in 2010 and was plucked off the waiver wire by Colorado prior to 2011 season…free!!!… since then…7 years—352 games,  17-17, 3.52 era, 3.35 era, 382 innings, 440 strikeouts!, 320 hits….prior to this year, his highest salary was $2.1m…this year its $7.0m, he’s pitched over 50+ innings in 5 of his 7 years….he could have been a stabilizer in the pen for many of these past 7 years….

…BEST HS FOOTBALL GAME OF THE WEEK: Doing it “ol school”, the Fox Warriors had zero yards passing in their victory of Summit. It was a great game as Summit grabbed a 13-0 1st quarter lead on 2 TD passes from Tanner Narato to Brad Hamilton. Fox scored a TD in the 1st & 2nd quarters on short runs by Cole Elwood and Gavin McGinness and converted both PAT’s so the Warriors led it 14-13. Summit retook the lead in the 3rd and led 19-14 until McGinness scored on a 1 run and on the 2 point conversion  with just  1:43 remaining in the game. For the season, Fox now has 76 yards passing for the 2018 season… No doubt the inclement weather may have been a factor on Friday night but….it doesn’t appear that they pass much as they go back to “ol School football”

…Jumping off to a quick 5-0 start, the St Charles Pirates softball team is looking to continue their hot streak from last season. The Pirates won 10 of their last 11 games last year!  St Charles is being led at the plate by Jr. Rhyen Mills. Mills is batting an incredible .786 11 hits in 14 AB. She has 8 extra base hits of her total of 11 hits. Three other Pirates are batting over .500…Kylie Swinney @ .588, Payton Mauldin .556 and Ryley Schaub .533. They appear to be the favorites of the Gateway North Conf

One would think that it’s time to “call it a day” 

Contenders or Pretenders by Bob Ryan

Contenders  or Pretenders

Hottest team in the MLB BY FAR right now..and now a contender… is the St. Louis Cardinals…winner of 10 straight series….the Cards have blended a plethora of youth into their pitching corp, rebuilt the confidence of some key young field players, began using the run game offensively,  established a  very sound “up the middle” defense, found a defensive place for a very good hitter in 2018 (Martinez) so that he can play most days, managed the bullpen in a manner that they ARE USED effectively but aren’t overused in repeated days.  Several clubs went out to purchase veterans to attempt to fill immediate, short-term needs for the month of September….often the thought is…if this guy can help us win just 2 or 3 games, he’s worth it. The Cards used their farm system to restructure their roster (much…much cheaper)  I don’t want to sound negative…..but don’t go bonkers on every young Cardinal player who’s succeeding right now… let the league get a “book” on them and THEN…see how the young player adapts.  MLB is all about adapting to the opposition…but …it sure is fun watching the Birds right now.

Late Moves Around the MLB for contenders and pretenders…

…Pirates ..showing that they are pretenders…sent David Freese to the Dodgers to “ give him an opportunity to pursue a World Series championship this season,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.…cut me a break.. he doesn’t need that experience ….what he did in 2011 in StL world series will NEVER be forgotton by the Cardinal fans ..he was the NLCS MVP and his game winning Home RUN has become a Cardinal Classic Moment…the Pirates simply were looking to cut payroll and look to 2019..btw…Freese is hitting .282, OPS of .780, 42 rbi in just 241 AB….weren’t the CARDS looking for a backup 3B?

…the Dodgers…hoping to become a contender… did reshape their roster around the deadline time….Manny Machado was brought on board…I think he’s overrated….yes…many HR’s …flashy …. But does he do it in the clutch? Brian Dozier.. acquired from Minnesota for middle infield help, John Axford…man, his resume is really becoming long and now David Frese….so much for the always hyped LA farm system…LA is chasing the D-Backs and the Rockies as they scramble for a wild card spot…

….Seattle…a long-term pretender… is trying to break their 16 year playoff draught and recently fired 10 scouts…yikes!   but can’t gain ground on the Oakland A’s. Oakland is competing with a salary base just under $90m….to give you an idea of this successful…yet frugal franchise…Stephen Piscotty has the longest and highest contract on the team @ 6 years, $33+mil!… TU to the Cards & MO…… which tells me that he’ll be traded over the winter for “prospects” – 9 or 10 other players have a higher yearly salary for Oakland but don’t have as many years…

…Speaking of the A’s….a contender that most fans think of as a pretender….Edwin Jackson… remember him….pitched for the Cards in 2011..is STILL pitching! He’s now 34 years old..Oakland is his 13th different major league team in his 16 years of MLB experience. He’s actually having one of his best years!!  He’s 4-3, 3.03 era, 68 inn, 55 hits, 49 strikeouts

 

College Football kicked off the 2018 season this weekend….some “passing” thoughts…

….Army losing to Duke 34-14 WASN’T startling news…but…..the Cadets did raise some eyebrows with their offense.  Army passed the ball 21 times for 197 yards against Duke…yes…it’s a modest total in this day and age of passes winging around the stadium like mosquitoes at dusk on a hot summer night…but last year Army passed the ball just 65 total times for a total of 361 yards in their 13 games!!

…in Florida, some fans really want to make a point about U of Cen Florida  2017 season…Orlando lawyer Chad Barr confirmed that he’s hiring a plane to fly over the Alabama-Louisville game with a banner that reads “UCF ’17 CO-National Champs 13-0” so as to reinforce the point that UCF wasn’t a pretender last year… UCF opened the 2018 by slugging UConn 56-17.

…some writers speculated last week that Michigan State was really a pretender and not a Top 15 team of the country after winning several very close games last year (that could easily swing the other way this year & hit hard by graduation). The Spartans didn’t do much to dispel that theory this weekend as the Spartans squeaked by Utah State 38-31..Utah State was 6-7 last year!

…the idea that Chip Kelly could IMMEDIATELY make UCLA looks like the Bruins contenders that they always were throughout the past was jolted….I mean…big-time…UCLA dropped a 26-17 HOME game to Cincinnati….

…The once always dominant contender, Texas…where are you Daryl Royal?… which was rated in the top 25 in a national pre-season poll…much to the surprise of most people outside of Texas….dropped  several notches to just above a pretender level after a stunning loss to Maryland 34-29…Tom Herman brought in as Head Longhorn coach last season with high hopes of regaining the lofty luster once attributed to Longhorn football program than now seems far away …saw his team convert only 3 3rd downs, had 3 turnovers, piled up 100+ penalty yards….now those numbers sound like a pretender to me.

..btw….if a team needs to schedule an FCS level football team to reach the minimum goal of 6 wins to reach a bowl….are they really worth a bowl?  My take….wins versus FCS teams should not count towards the wins necessary to reach a bowl (.500 season)..in my mind, racking up wins against FCS teams is pretending that you’re a contender.

…Alabama is the real CONTENDER….who’s going beat the Crimson Tide? Tell me now….not after it happens.

 

BEST HIGH School GAMES  OF THE WEEK..those not already covered in depth by our friends @ StLtoday

St. Marys vs Lutheran South……

St. Mary’s and Lutheran South played an Overtime game on Friday in a game that matched these two southside schools for the 1st time.  St Mary’s fell behind 12-8 after the 1st quarter as South QB Vito Orlando was red hot passing. He found Darrick Scott and Isiah Wilson for TD strikes in the opening quarter. The 2nd quarter saw the Dragons take a 22-19 lead with Frosh Kevin Coleman hauling in a 65 yard pass for his 2nd of 3 touchdowns. Scoreless 3rd quarter….in the 4th quarter, the game came down to the last drive, Luth South had a short field and moved the ball down to a 1st & goal…their drive was halted ..with only 16 seconds remaining Jacob Martinez kicked through what appeared to be  the tying FG…a whistle had blown to stop the play…soooo….Martinez kicked it through again from 28 yards out to tie the game. In the OT. Coleman scored his 3rd of the game (6th of the season) on the very 1st play of OT but the attempted PAT was blocked.  South fought past some penalties to get a 1st down and then  Demetrius Jeffrey ran 7 yards to tie it  up….Martinez knocked the game winner straight through the uprights giving South the 29-28 win… it was a thrilling game with momentum changing throughout the contest.

Hannibal vs Jefferson City

In a game that see-sawed back & forth…a last second coaches’ call changed the game….Hannibal took a 7-0 lead after 1 quarter. The Jays grabbed a 15-7 lead in the 2nd only to see the Pirates score 2 TD’s to retake a halftime lead 21-15 lead. A 39 yd TD strike to Ryan Brooks along with the PAT saw JC hold a 3rd quarter 22-21 lead. Damien French scored his 3rd TD of the night for the Pirates at the 10:52 mark of the 4th, but the PAT missed…so score was 27-22 Hanibal. With just 3 minutes remaining Devin

Roberson threw a 24-yard touchdown to Levi Jobe and converted the two-point conversion on a QB keeper to give the Jays a 30-27 lead,.  Hannibal…got the ball back…moved the balldown to the JC 17.. …a seemingly game-winning touchdown pass  on 4th down & 9..from Gabe Worthington to Lawson Rickey looked like it’d make the Pirates the winner…but….it didn’t count!  Hannibal Head Coach ,Mark St. Clair had asked for a timeout  just seconds prior to the play. The next attempt for the 1st down, a run..failed…. Jefferson City wins the game…WOW ..what an ending and what a game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foul Ball with 2 Strikes by Bob Ryan

So on July 15, the Cards fired Mike Matheny and appointed Mike Shildt “interim manager”….it was a clear indication that the Cards realized a managerial move had to be made but weren’t exactly sure that Shildt was the “man”…at that time it seemed that he had about as much chance of becoming the permanent manager as….

….as the Marlins drawing 1,000,000 fans for the season…currently at 609,665 (63 home dates)

….as Butch Cassidy & Sundance escaping from the Bolivian soldiers at end of movie

….as much chance as Robert E. Lee winning a significant battle in 1865 against U.S. Grant

….as much chance as Baltimore Orioles winning 50 games this year (they have 37 right now)

….as much chance as Carson Kelly being the Cards regular catcher some day..his ship has sailed

….as much chance as the bar “Cheers” running out of beer or laughs

….as much chance as the Indy 500 becoming the Indy 600

….as much chance as Rocky losing to Apollo Creed

…well….the Cardinals have gone 24-12 .667 during his tenure…matching the Cardinals all-time best starts by Cardinal Managers…Ray Blades in 1939 and Rogers Hornsby 1925….It’s time to sign him to a contract for next year….yes…I know the “interim” title has been removed but name him MANAGER for 2019 NOW!!  What more does he have to do in his audition?  The only team… that I know of… that had a better record was the 1927 New York Yankees 110-47 –.714%….Babe Ruth blasted 60 home runs that year but Lou Gehrig who hit .373 and was the AL RBI champion was voted the League MVP!!…btw…the Yanks had SIX batters who hit over .300 that year!

The sad Urban Meyer saga…more on sports in general…

…Urban Meyer’s 3 game suspension …opener against Oregon State ..1-11 last year ..only win was over the always tough Portland State team…game 2 against Rutgers (4-8 last year) and game 3 finally sees a quality opponent in TCU…this suspension is like hitting a foul ball in baseball with 2 strikes…..it really doesn’t matter much…was it intended to be a punishment to Meyer?  It seems to me…from afar….that Meyer DID know about it but..due to his tremendous winning percentage @ Ohio State the trustees board didn’t want to jeopardize their “cash cow”. Here’s a couple of the initial comments after the press conference– from John Clay-Lexington Herald–“Meyer never once apologized to Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, saying only, “I’m just sorry we’re in this situation.”  He also denied that he knew about the text messages that Courtney Smith sent Meyer’s wife alleging the abuse.  The report also states that Meyer deleted text messages on his phone that were more than a year old.  Thanks to his 73-8 record and one national title in Columbus, Meyer remains the Ohio State football coach. It’s another example of winning matters more than anything else. Also, coaches have way, way too much power.”

Paul Finebaum-hosts SEC football show—some very powerful statements ..when he said, “We wouldn’t be having this conversation at this level this morning if Urban Meyer walked into that room last night and taken some responsibility… but instead of showing an ounce of remorse, he came off like HE was a hostage …That guns were off camera to his head. He never looked up. His behavioral techniques and behavioral attitude was utterly bizarre. I was just dumbstruck by that. And even more than that, the fact that he couldn’t utter Courtney Smith’s name, to me, shows what this was really all about. This was a good ol’ boy club at Ohio State and many other places. They looked the other way. It came out in the investigation that people on that staff knew that Zach Smith, the assistant coach who was fired, they knew that he was having sex with a staffer, but they never told Urban Meyer.  Urban Meyer just doesn’t know anything going on around him because he doesn’t want to know. Because he’s a football coach and the only thing that matters to him is winning football games. And he sold his soul. He sold his integrity. And Ohio State still has one of the great football coaches in modern history, but at what price?”

Inside Higher Ed wrote “Athletics experts said in interviews with Inside Higher Ed that university officials clearly attempted to save their “brand” while responding to the crisis and were not concerned for Courtney Smith’s welfare — or about doing the right thing. “The Board of Trustees and president have become co-conspirators to protect Ohio State football and it will be, it is, a shameful chapter,” said Gerald Gurney, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Oklahoma. Gurney said college sports as a whole has clearly not learned from the lessons of Pennsylvania State University, site of perhaps the most egregious athletics cover-up to date, involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Gurney rattled off a number of recent scandals plaguing collegiate athletics: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill escaping consequences by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for longtime academic fraud, Larry Nassar’s assaults at Michigan State University and the football-related death in June of a first-year player at University of Maryland College Park. “When is enough, enough?” Gurney asked. “Why does American college sports, big-time college sports, continually have the drumbeat of these similar scenes and we do nothing about it? All for the sake of a winning program. Really?”   But had a coach at a lesser-known program committed the same sins as Meyer, he or she likely would have been fired, said Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. Solomon said the press conference represented a missed opportunity for Ohio State to speak candidly about domestic violence.”

Now….I love sports…always have…..but sports now seems to have become more important ….to many….than the total development of the students in & out of the activity…sports should be a tool for us in our development….not the “end all”….most of us first played against our friends…then on teams….trying to improve our skills, enjoying the competition against others, working to help the team, learning about discipline, being on time, cooperation from someone other than our parents ..the better athletes went on to play high school, college and once in a great while..professionally…many skilled and nonskilled players continued to play baseball, softball, basketball beyond their high school days…for the enjoyment of sports….

the actual college degrees of the vast majority of students who will make contributions to society after college ..including the athletes…should enhance and improve our society…beyond just the entertainment of playing a game. College should be a stepping stone in our lives towards building an opportunity for a good future…sure, a few…and a darn few…will “make it” in the pro level but why sacrifice all the benefits of a college experience to “win a game”? Sadly, I even see this same attitude permeating at the high school level… and even at the “moneyball” level…some call it select ball… as youngsters. Early on, kids realize it’s really about making the correct “select team”….or the high school team…or college team…they know that Mom/Dad expect them to reach those goals..or they’ve failed. That’s the pay back for years on high financial investments for trips, entry fees, uniforms of all sorts, participation fees, travel expenses, summers that become 1 long road trip, etc, etc. Why do you suppose that adult fast pitch…and even slow pitch… softball, baseball, basketball leagues have disappeared?  …I suggest it’s because children aren’t being raised to play sports for enjoyment…only for their payback in high school or college. I don’t see men/women playing many sports after the age of 25…many seemed to be burned out on sports. Am I proposing to abolish those teams….nope…we all have choices….please keep in mind that EVERYONE does have a ceiling on their physical ability and you can pay someone big dollars to develop your skills but ultimately…to reach high levels of competition .. you MUST be a superior athlete…when I was coaching Frosh football….at tryouts, I didn’t pay much attention to their skills…..how athletic were they?  I could teach the skills…but I can’t teach them to run fast, being extremely agile, possess high levels of coordination, strength, jump high. I think that one should play sports for enjoyment…gosh…I almost used the word “fun”….how scandalous would that be?….. play also for the thrill of game, personal challenges for improving your sports skills, lifetime skills, meanwhile learning interpersonal skills. The better athletes WILL STILL advance to extremely high levels and maybe the others will continue playing the sports that they learned to love. My Dad NEVER asked me if I won a game….and I was on some “nice” teams for my era….he’s always asked, “did you have fun?”

….Around the MLB…

….the Oakland A’s have fought their way up to 2nd place in the AL West with a 78-52 record…using a very effective bullpen led by Blake Treinen…the A’s closer is listed by some as a CY Young candidate-32 sv, 6 wins, 0.87 era…..yet their fans aren’t fighting to buy a seat….the A’s are only averaging 18,000+ per game at home this year….. ….overall MLB attendance is down around 6% for the year….only 9 teams have improved home attendance over last year…fans aren’t going because …it seems to me…. The strikeout/walk/HR games are boring…put the ball in play…get some baserunners…put them in motion…action, action, action…. ….the highest average in the Toronto Blue Jay lineup of the players on the roster from early in the season on Friday night was a whopping .258…that coming from our Lou boy…Aledmys Diaz…with that team average..they are  29 games out of 1st place!

….despite all the pre-season groaning about both Florida teams “selling off”….the Tampa Bay team is 69-61 -3rd place in the AL East…they keep winning despite all the attrition

….Max Scherzer leads the entire Major Leagues with 16 wins at this time and 2nd in NL ERA.…congrats to our StL boy!!

…Recently the Cubs turned 7 double plays in ONE game…tying a MLB all-time record

…if I were an MVP NL voter right now…..I’d cast my vote for Freddie Freeman…Atlanta is in 1st place…much to the surprise of every honest person…. he’s the leader of the team…..he leads the National League in batting @ .320,  2nd in HITS, 4th in doubles, 8th  in runs scored,  10th in RBI’s

..Remember all the fuss last winter as the MLB teams gushed over, courted, recruited GianCarlo Stanton…he signed a long term contract with the NYY. This year he received $25m…for what?   .282 avg, 32 HR, 82 RBI’s, an OPS of .888…you determine if it is worth the cost?

College Football…

…..Mizzou has been picked 4th in the East of SEC….I’m hoping for a 7-5 record …with that guess… I’m assuming that the only HOME loss is to Georgia

…Alabama’s deep offensive depth may take them back to the Bear Bryant days when he substituted his entire 2nd offensive unit once each half…..often they moved the ball and scored!

…As Scott Frost returns home to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers….he’s just learned that the former CBC running back, Tre Bryant, will not be playing football due to a continuing leg/knee issue.

….most coaching services list Lovie Smith as being on the “hot seat” this year…his Illinois program seems stymied in a quagmire…he has 3 real cupcakes to start the season (Kent State, W. Illinois and S. Florida)so he SHOULD be 3-0 for the Big-10 opener against Penn State..Lovie’s first 2 years at Champaign have been 2-10 and 3-9 so it doesn’t appear the Illini Coach with the longest tenure,  Robert Zuppke (1913-1941),…that’s not his age…that’s how many years he was head coach at Illinois…has much to worry about in losing his longevity title!! …btw….in recent days, the last Illini coach with a winning record was John Mackovic (1988-91)  32-16-1…Mackovic went on to the NFL.

High School Football starts!!

Each week I try to find games that went under the radar in coverage….no need for me in repeating what the StL Today has covered extensively….I’m not trying to “push” or promote any particular schools….here goes…

…MOST EXCITING game of the Week!

Columbia 36  Mascoutah 34…this game had SEVEN different lead changes… each team returned a kickoff for a touchdown Columbia led 14-7 after 1st quarter…at half it was Mascoutah on top 17-14…at the end of 3 quartes it was Columbia 29 Mascoutah 24…Mascoutah scored a TD on an 80 yard runby Devin Wills and a running 2 pt conversion also by Wills with 5:44 left in the game then Cole Junker kicked a 15 yard FG with only 1:29 remaining in the game..making the score 35-29 Mascoutah on top….but it wasn’t over…on the ensuing kickoff  Londyn Little ran it back 90 yards on the  return and Sam Horner kicked the PAT…it took 13 seconds..taking the clock down to 1:16..Columbia held on to the 36-35 victory!

….MOST UNUSUAL ENDING TO A GAME THIS WEEK

Helias 35 Hannibal 34…..Helias Crusaders scored on 4 consecutive possessions on route to taking a 35-20 lead entering the 4th quarter. The Hannibal Pirates “had no quit in them” and pushed across two touchdowns including a TD score after a 12 play drive brought the score to 35-34 with 2:36 remaining in the game. Hannibal went for the win on the 2 point attempt but were foiled when Soph Isaac Lopez stepped up and made the tackle short of the end zone to keep the Crusaders lead. On the ensuing kickoff, as Helias had sent the “hands team” into the game expecting an onside kick of some sort…shortly after the football was struck and bouncing towards a return man there was a big flash of light that knocked out the lighting system.  It wasn’t a storm bolt but rather a vehicle accident had struck out a power  source and turned the stadium into darkness. After about an hour…the replay occurred and Helias covered the KO and ran out the clock for the win.

…MOST SURPRISING SCORE (at least to me) OF THE NIGHT…..

For decades..almost as long as I can remember, Hazelwood Central has been a powerhouse in StL high school football with several STATE championships and trips to the DOME…..meanwhile, after a long successful run from 2005-2012 when the DeSmet Spartans were 65-18 and won a state championship, the Spartans had gone 5-35 in the last 4 years. It seemed like a “blow out” on the way….and IT WAS…but not as you expected….the DeSmet Spartans manhandled the Hazelwood Central Hawks 37-2 on Friday night. DeSmet piled up over 400 yards of total offense while limiting the Hawks to under 100 yards of total offense. Congrats to the Spartans for “turning it around”!

….no more foul balls with 2 strikes….it’s football season!

 

 

PGA-Putting Golf Ahead by Bob Ryan

This time of year has tons of sports taking place….of course baseball continues its daily march through August, football of all levels—high school, college & pro begin official practices with high hopes but the real news around the Lou has been PGA Golf, …all types fairways and greens to draw our attention….here we go on a continual changing course…some built for the driver …others for the deft putter.

….PGA Golf….many leaders of St. Louis have worked very hard to get this prestigious tournament located in the Lou….that’s great for the area…weather was terrific Thursday, storms on Friday  ….the professional golfers are really incredible with their skills at directing that little bitty ball to go exactly where they want it to go…. …… many people were swarming to watch this 100th PGA event either by camping out at one hole or following their “favorite”… 1st round leader Gary Woodland…who was 99th on the tour in putting….led the 1st round with the fewest putts, birdied 7 of the last 11 holes and shot a dazzling 64 1st round…2nd round (Friday) was interrupted by weather…good ol’ fashion summer storms in the Lou…at the end of the day two familiar names–Phil Mickelson & Bubba Watson had not made the cut….Saturday had a hole in 1!  I had just turned on the TV when Matt Wallace hit the drive that landed on the green and suddenly the “English” on the shot sent it diagonally directly into the hole!  EXCITING!! Brooks Koepka had 4 stroke lead through most of the day…experienced troubles 13th thru 16th and saw his lead shrivel to 2 strokes. Adam Scott…who really has an athletic build….tightened the lead to just 2 strokes with a solid game. Tiger seemed to always have the huge crowd following him…he’s like a rock star…maybe an aging rock star…but nonetheless crowds swarm to him hoping to see the ol’ Tiger….his mojo left him when he had a 19 ft shot for an eagle on the 17th…missed the long putt but also missed on the 2 footer for a birdie…so he carded a par which seemed to drain him…and his fans…of energy…but it was a round of 66…he now has two 66’s in the same tournament…1st time since 2008. Sunday’s final round was really terrific…Tiger didn’t hit any fairway on the way out but sent some marvelous 2nd shots to get him off to a good start….Koepke saw his lead dwindle early in the round….Tiger kept coming….and …Tiger owned the huge, vocal, crowd..he shoots a marvelous 64 but Koepke hangs on with superb golf to win his 2nd major of the year!

…..more holes in 1—congratulations to our friend, John Sondag for his recent hole in 1 !!

….the Cardinals recently inducted new players into the Cardinals HOF….it seems like it should be an easy putt for ownership….don’t kid yourselves….the owners are pulling all the strings for the inductees….I must admit …at first glance, I was thinking that  Ray Lankford was a real “reach” for this honor….but after a bit of homework…..I changed my mind…here’s why… on the list of All-Time Cardinals, Lankford is #11 in games played (1580); #16 in HITS (1479); #10 in doubles (339); #5 in Home Runs (228)—that one really surprised me!!..#10 in RBI’s (829), #5 in stolen bases (250), #14 in slugging % (.481) and #18 in OPS (.854)….when one looks @ Lankford’s accomplishments at the National League level…considering his top 10 finishes in any offensive category …he was #9 (31) once in HR; in OPS he was #5 in 1997 (.996) and #10 in 1992 (.851); 4 times Lankford broke into the top 10 in the NL in stolen bases #4 in 1991(44); #6 in 92 (42); #9 in 1996 with 35 and #8 in 1998 with 26 … … He was only in one All-Star game in his 13 year career but…..when compared to the numbers of other players while they played for the Cards…. he piled up some large numbers and his longevity on the team make him a solid candidate.

…sooo…the shots go in the rough… as the furor continues during the national Anthem for NFL …I’m not expressing a political opinion here…..this blog abhors political comments…..players want to express their individual opinions… the teams want uniform , standing , looks at the flag during the Anthem.  Now, I just heard recently on the radio…a non-sports talk show…that the NFL didn’t require the players to be on the field for the National Anthem for years… even decades….it wasn’t until the NFL began getting paid by the USA Military…it sounds like… around 8-10 years ago…. as a sponsor… then the owners initiated the idea of players being on the field…and standing for the National Anthem…soooo..like it or not…it appears that the NFL owners really aren’t standing on the principle of honoring the flag….although some….or even many….. MAY feel that way…but rather ….looking not to damage their wallets if one of their key sponsors withdraws…hmmm…once again in the NFL ….money alone talks. Want to guess how many of those owners were EVER in the military? I have an idea of the number but…..

…Hitting all the fairways….Houston is still in 1st place with several of their stars on the DL—Carlos Correa was on DL from June 26 to Aug 9, Jose Altuve went on DL July 25 and no return date has been established; George Springer Aug 6 to present; Lance McCullers Aug 5 to present…no date established yet….so where is Houston in the standings?  1st place with 73-44 record…2nd highest win total in MLB…..now Houston…like everyone else…hits one in the bunker every so often…..a few years ago, Houston cut outright JD Martinez….who’s he?  Now on Boston …after a big year @ Arizona…tearing apart the AL…look at these stats for this season…37 Home runs, 103RBI’s,.329 average with a OPS of 1.046 after 112 games!  WOW…now that’s hitting a long, long drive right down the middle of the fairway.

…..trying to get out of a sandtrap…..in NCAA football….the pre-season story isn’t about who’s #1…we already know that…Alabama, right? ….but the real story is the storm brewing around Urban Meyer (Head coach-Ohio State)…all  the talk has absolutely NOTHING to do with Meyer’s competency as a Coach….he’s terrific..for his career he’s piled up a 177-31 record..17-6 @ Bowling Green….btw…I just happened to see his very FIRST game as head Coach as he opened the 2001 season by beating Mizzou 20-13 @ Columbia….I remember walking out after the game saying,” so…we lost to Bowling Green….ugh”  then Meyer went 22-2 @ Utah…He advanced to Florida and compled a 65-15 record…then took his dream job (he’s from Ohio) @Ohio State where he’s 73-8. Coaching ISN’T the question here…in 2009, one of Meyer’s Florida assistants was found guilty of abusing his pregnant wife…Meyer kept him on the staff. In 2015 rumors circulated…apparently reaching Meyer… about the same assistant …once again circling around spousal abuse… with the same woman… why would that woman..or any woman… stay with that type of  guy? I’m not blaming her…I’m just puzzled.  According to  NCAA regulations, Meyer was required to report it. Meyer has tried all the usual stuff…denial, surprise, confusion, ambiguous statements, holy than thou speeches…etc,etc ….about the incident…we all know that he knew about it but did nothing …sooo… IF he wasn’t holding such a magnificent record…he’d already be gone…but in the NCAA Football machine… $$$$ talks and WINNING BIG brings in mucho $$$.  I’m not sure which way this putt breaks…..if fired, he’ll sit out a year or 2 and then jump back into the reigns again at a smaller school hoping to reach the “big time”….if he isn’t fired….that story will be a distraction as he’ll have a noose around his neck all season…..I don’t think that he’ll quit….unless….fans “turn on him” which they haven’t done yet.

….another long drive took place @ Forbes Field…once the home field of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1909-1970). The name ISN’t the name of the owner…it was named after a British General (John Forbes) who fought in the French & Indian War and is credited with naming the city of Pittsburgh.  The Pirates owner (Barney Dreyfuss) hated “cheap” home runs..so the dimensions of the park were 360 ft to left; 462 to center and 376 to right field…no wonder there weren’t any HR records in the NL until after 1970 ….When right field grandstands were added, RF was a mere 300 feet….so Dreyfuss had a 28-foot high screen built to limit HR… Amazingly, the batting cage was actually still on the playing field during the games…in a nook & cranny just left of straight ahead center field….over 460 feet from home plate…no iron shots here man…ya needed the huge driver I remember watching Cardinal games @ Forbes on television… I liked those old ballparks because each one was so unique.

….looking at a long dogleg to the left that seems to go out of bounds….one sees how MLB management manipulates players progress to reaching free agency..Once a player accumulates 6 years of service…he’s eligible for free agency…..here’s the catch…if a player plays 12 days in minors….just 12 days….he doesn’t get a full season’s worth of service time….that short time has pushed Kris Bryant’s free agency date back from 2020 to 2021…he’ll fall exactly ONE day short for reaching it for 2020….and don’t think that the Cubs are the only team playing this shot from the rough….ALL MLB teams use that club.

….the Cardinal announcers are softening the green…trying to make the putt for Matt Carpenter as the National League MVP….it could happen….but not if the Cards stay in 3rd or 4th place….he MAY be the best player in the league… but that doesn’t make him the MVP….. how valuable is a guy who’s team finished in 3rd place?  I mean without him…they would have probably still been in 3rd  place anyway…but…if the Cards move up into the wild card position…I believe Carpenter’s appearance as an MVP looks more solid…EVEN if his numbers haven’t changed.  Remember the greats like Tony Gwynn…. or Mike Piazza….or Jim Thome….or Pedro Martinez….none of them were EVER the league MVP…yet all are in the Major League Hall of Fame. In order for Carpenter to get in the “talk” of MVP….the Cards have to continue their run and Carp has to continue to be the HR monster that he’s been lately.

…as we come to the 18th and speaking of the Cards…I am getting mildly excited about their chances of snatching a wild card spot….I realize that they’ve been chewing up some of the poorest MLB teams (Marlins & Royals) this week so maybe that isn’t a fair measure….but ..they DID  beat them and now have 5 straight series wins…of course Carpenter has been on a terrific tear, DeJong seems to have regained his stroke, Ozuna has back his swagger…. bullpen is being used in a smarter way….more innings for a pitcher as the opportunity presents itself….thus….fewer pitchers being used each game. The defense seems better with use of Bader & Adolis Garcia….I have the notion that Garcia will be better than Bader & our iron-man (Tyler O’Neill) who seems to pull  a muscle(s) too often to be a good MLB baseball player…I would suppose that’s why Seattle gave up on him….I really think O’Neill could make it in the WWE….his muscles bulge like Popeye’s, an athlete and confident.  Molina Still wants to play every day…so be it…remember his camp-out in the bullpen last year when he pouted about not playing …some think that Molina’s actions in the bullpen last year …may….may…have been the start of the exit for Mr. Matheny. I am also pleased to see the Cardinals running the bases aggressively…not just steals but hit & run’s… that way we only need 2 hits to score a run…not 3 hits. Milwaukee seems to be faltering, Pittsburgh had a long string of wins to get back into the race and now it’ll even up for them, Colorado is like two different teams..one @ home and one on the road….and the team on the road seems to display mediocre hitting seems not the elevation enhanced bombs seen in the Rockies. Soooo… my hopes have been rekindled in the last 2 weeks for our Cardinals to be a Wild Card.

Time for the Clubhouse…..thanks for taking a “round” with me.  Your thoughts are always invited….put them on the site or send them directly to me…I’ll use your initials as the signature..

 

 

 

Memphis North brings excitement by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals had their troops in training….mastering the basics, acquiring the “DO’s” and “DON’Ts” for the next level of battle, fine tuning the elevated skills required to succeed at skirmishes and battles in the upper level…then it happened….Cardinals called up many of the Memphis team to the actual MLB battlefield..so many….in fact..that some may have referred to them as the Memphis North squad…then…while in battle….the newest battlers on the “front” began to win small…then larger ….Battles in the MLB….they were adding excitement !!  How?

….using Harrison Bader & Tyler O’Neill specifically on a regular bases…without  the notion that it was on a “trial” basis….THEY had really been promoted……every day status was now on the table….btw….one has to wonder how long Dex can still be sent out there with his .179 average….

….New Mgr Mike Shildt has transformed this stodgy, binge-HR hitting team into a unit that puts runners in motion on the bases….both as they attempt to steal a base &  a hit & run.  For me… this is MUCH MORE EXCITING than the HR bomb because the HR bomb has become the norm.  Yes…it was exciting years ago when a player hit a HR …it was exciting because it wasn’t as common as it is now in the game. Currently there are so many 1-run home runs …that…while nice…usually don’t change the outlook of the game. However, when Bader reaches 1B…the crowd’s attention elevates…on many occasions….he’ll be trying to steal….we know it, the defense knows it, the pitcher knows it…but….he’ll do it anyway….the excitement of the battle between the runner & the defense. We had that feeling with Vince Coleman and to lesser degrees with Willie McGee, Ozzie Smith and others. While at Wednesday night’s marathon (4 hours)…you could easily detect the excitement in the crowd when the Cardinals “ran” on the bases….w/o the prompting of the organist attempting to stimulate “fake” noise

….Shildt’s other changes of using relief hurlers longer than 1 or 2 batters seems to be a healthy improvement for the Cards in the long run.

….The actual scores of the games—2-1,3-2, 6-3, 3-6, 5-4 (10 inn), 2-5, 6-2, 5-2  in the battles seem more like traditional baseball scores. The recent double digit scores that we’ve seen belong to football or Little League.

….somehow the entire squadron seemed more relaxed…..and they were adding excitement during the battles and after all the victories one-day battles..

….now we aren’t ready to declare that this team will win the overall battle and capture the MLB flag or even qualify for any post season…there are still many obstacles to climb, long prairies to run as W’s are piled up but.. for the 1st time this year…. the Cards have won three consecutive series….it’s the excitement that the fan base has been seeking for a few years!

But…….the Cardinals HAVE MODIFIED their approach…..look at the different approaches given by Mozeliak…the Cards John Mozeliak said this on Aug 1,” “I feel like what we were trying to do was to put ourselves in a position to get a peek at the future,” Mozeliak says. “And as we stated, we were going to give some of our younger arms a chance and in the last week or two I’ve said that if we can find a way to clean up some of the outfield we would do that too.  Well……the Cards now have 10 rookies on the team…and not ONE Major league player was added at the deadline! They don’t want to call it “rebuilding” because that term smacks of losing with young, cheap players…. fans don’t to pay for that….at least not 3+mil of them…..sooooo…we’re “peeking” into the future….is that double-talk for rebuilding?  8 months ago…it sounded differently…..Mo’s Aug 1 statement is substantially different from his statement on Dec 8, 2017.. on that Dec date, GM Mozeliak said “I think our expectations are the same every year,” said Mozeliak, the club’s president of baseball operations, when asked if Ozuna’s deal defines a two-year “window” to win. “It’s never been one of those (clubs) where you’ve seen the massive reset or rebuild. We’re trying to reload. And as we enter into how we start about 2018 there is just a lot to be excited about how this club looks today. “Under my time with the Cardinals, I don’t know if we’ve ever not had the pedal down. It all comes down to the acquisition costs. Do you go all-in just because you have a one-year opportunity?”

HOTTEST TEAM in MLB?  Easily the Oakland Athletics…the A’s have won 12 of the last 15 and since June 24 have compiled a stunning 27-7 record. They now have passed up the Seattle Mariners…who I thought was a lock 6 weeks ago…for the 2nd wildcard spot in the American League. Go ahead…give me 2 every-day players from the A’s.

REAL CONCERN?….the MLB is concerned about the number of field players being utilized to pitch in “blow out” games….are you kidding me…with the games dragging on and on with the “real” pitchers unable to get outs..why concern yourself with such a trivial item…doesn’t every pro/college team  in EVERY sport…..replace their starters once the outcome has been determined?

TRADING DEADLINE…..As always, the trend at the deadline is for the contenders to bolster their weaker aspects of their team…This year several teams focused on the bullpen, often the middle relief ….look at the MLB leaders….

…Cubs acquired Cole Hamels as a starter (won his 1st game) and added Jesse Chavez & Brandon Kintzler to pull them through the middle innings.  The Cubbies await the return of closer Brandon Morrow. Meanwhile Jon Lester seems to be fading..he was 10-2 with a 2.18 ERA on June 26…since then in his 7 starts he holds a 6.81 ERA..he is 34 years old, is in his 13th MLB season and has piled up over2300+MLB innings

…NYY- snatched a strong closer with the acquisition of Zach Britton from the Orioles. In addition, the Yanks added starters JA Happ from Toronto and also added our friend Lance Lynn, who threw 4+ innings in this 1st appearance which was in relief. He now has been elevated to the starting rotation.

…Boston bucked the trend…they bolstered their bench as they brought in Steven Pierce in late June…when he arrived, he went on a batting tear… and Ian Kinsler at the deadline to help offset injuries to the starting 8 players.

…Dodgers made the biggest move by collecting slugger Manny Machado from Baltimore while Brian Dozier was picked up from Minnesota to help soothe the injury problems of the infield

…Pittsburgh startled the baseball world by adding Chris Archer from Tampa Bay to their rotation. A better signing… at least to my eyes…. was the attaining relief hurler, Keona Kela, from Texas.  It has seems to me that Archer is one of those pitchers that everyone raves about….but he can’t win.  I’ve heard that he is reluctant to pitch inside to batters…..that won’t “make it” in the MLB…you MUST pitch to both sides of the plate.

SWEEPING OUT THE COMPETITION:

The Boston Red Sox just completed a 4 game sweep of the Yankees. After Sunday’s win, Boston owns a 9.5 game lead over the Bronx Bombers. There are 50ish games remaining so NYY…who owns the highest wild card spot… needs to realign items in the pen to keep that Wild Card dream alive….Aroldis Chapman just suffered through his 2nd horrible outing in 2 weeks….if he was wearing a Cardinal uniform, he’d be on the DL soon.

BARGAIN BASEMENT SHOPPING:

The Cards just signed Tyler Ross….San Diego just “left him go”….didn’t ask for compensation….just dropped him like a bag of trash on the way out to the dumpster….do we expect this guy to “turn us around”?  Yes….every so often a gem is found as a player feels renewed but …for the most part….you get what you pay for…come on MO….take us off the best sale of the month to the finding the best available player of the month mantra. Now…watch …he’ll probably win 5 straight games.

THE FORGOTTEN MAN:  Another one of MO’s off season acquisitions for the bullpen was Luke Gregerson.  Take a look at this season for Gregerson…. March 28-put on 10 day DL; April 8-sent to Palm Beach for rehab; April 16 reinstated; May 16-placed on 10 day DL; July 2 sent to Memphis-rehab;  July 7 sent to Springfield (TL); July 13 reinstated him to roster; July 31—put on 10day-DL–   (49 days on MLB roster THIS ENTIRE SEASON)…Guess he’s working on his 87mph fastball, heh? The St. Louis Cardinals have placed right-hander Luke Gregerson on the 10-day disabled list for the third time in 2018, and his season may be over. Gregerson hit the DL this time with a right shoulder impingement. He missed 52 games with the same injury from May 16 through July 13.  Manager Mike Shildt said Gregerson might return late in the regular season but that he didn’t have a “great feel” that it would happen. Gregerson has a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings pitched this season. He signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals in the offseason. He’s been the forgotten man!

That’s enough excitement for now….THANKS for reading….your comments are always appreciated and enjoyed…send them to me and I’ll get them published….

 

 

 

 

We’re Better but are we GOOD by Bob Ryan

OK….MO cleans out the bullpen by throwing out Holland &  Lyons, trading Tuivalala, surprising the medical world by finding yet another ailment , previously unknown for DL use for Brett Cecil. He brings up 3 young guns to replace them.  Yippee!  It’s long overdue…we will be better….but ….will we really be GOOD?

First of all, the Holland failure should NOT have been a complete shock. I wrote on April 2, the following….”Cards obtain Greg Holland to be “born again” in the 18 Card bullpen…..I wondered why his signing came so late…. Sure…. ….it’s a nice salary … but not extravagant…so why so late?  After some digging….apparently, last year…coming after a year off due to arm issues… Holland was absolutely terrific through May…he struck out nearly half the batters he faced and “closed” out several wins which led to a great month for the Rockies…in June, his slide began as his command began to erode and his arm weakened. He issued walks to 18% of the batters he faced that month, surviving primarily by not giving up any home runs and running a solid .240 BABIP (batting avg on balls in play). July saw further decline while his walks dropped to 13% of the batters (slightly over 1 walk for every 9 batters) but his BABIP jumped to .280. In August, Holland’s ERA of 15.43 …says volumes and his strikeout rate dropped to 18%…..sooooo…..anytime  a pitcher returning from an arm injury sags from great to horrible over a very short period of time….one has to wonder if his arm just doesn’t have it any longer”. Sooo…let’s not pat MO on the back for eradicating a transaction that should have NEVER been made for $14m…..maybe ….maybe not even $1m..well…we won’t be good if these types of transactions continue as well as some other tendencies that are  occurring with regularity.

…Let’s take a look at the recent trend of the “big” winners—Cubs & Astros—for example…those teams draft hitters high in the draft…and “hit” on those picks…then they …later on…go out & buy proven  pitchers….it doesn’t always work….but….it’s put these two teams deep into the playoffs in recent years.

some other considerations….

….Historically (back to 2000)…the Cards do a much better job of finding, drafting and developing pitchers…they have limited success in drafting batters…. let’s break it down….1 point at a time..

…Drafting….the 1st round of the draft for any team is crucial…..you must “hit” with some regularity on players who can develop into every-day type players with some stars along the way. In the 1st round since 2000, the Cards have been extremely weak in identifying every-day field players, or pitchers who remain with them as a winner or ANY stars with their #1 pick of the draft.  Take a look at the players chosen in the 1st round for the Cards since 2000(some years more than 1 pick in 1st rnd)—

2000 Shaun Boyd –OF-NEVER made MLB ; Blake Williams-RHP – NEVER made MLB

2001 Justin Pope-RHP –NEVER made MLB        2002– no 1st round pick

2003 Daric Barton- Catcher-part of trade to Oakland for Mark Mulder-played 8 MLB seasons, never all-star, career .247batter- only two seasons that he played more than 80 games (generally a backup catcher)

2004-Chris Lambert-RHP- traded by Cards to Detroit after 3 years; MLB record –1-3

2005-Colby Rasmus—OF,10 seasons MLB ….never an all-star but did last 10 years in the MLB;

2005-Tyler Greene-SS- 5 seasons in MLB, NEVER ALL-STAR, lifetime .224 hitter; played more than 80 games once

2005-Mark McCormick-RHP – NEVER played in MLB      2005-Tyler Herron RHP  –                NEVER played in MLB

2006-Adam Ottavino  RHP –CURRENTLY MLB-with Cards 1 year—lost in draft to Colorado-still with Rockies since 2012—has been converted to a middle reliever with some to good success

2006-Chris Perez RHP- 7 years in MLB-2 w/Cards; career record 16-24

2007-Pete Kozma -SS – Currently MLB-7th year; played 80+ games only once in career; career back-up

2007-Clay Mortensen-RHP- pitched 1 game w/Cards-5 yr in MLB; career record 6-11

2008-Brett Wallace-1B—played 6 MLB seasons-played more than 100 g in a year 2x;  lifetime .238 hitter

2008-Lance Lynn –RHP—Currently in MLB-7th season;  career record 79-55; 1x All-Star; Cards chose not to resign him this year—strange since he won 60 games over a 4 year period; this year @ Minnesota his WHIP has increased due to early season wildness-has 62 walks; is 2nd on the club with 7 wins-arguably our BEST First round pitcher that the Cards drafted since 2000

2009-Shelby Miller-RHP-Currently 7th year in MLB-pitched for Cards 2 seasons- was 25-18 in those 2 years; was traded to Atlanta as part of Jason Heyward deal; currently on Arizona; career record now 37-53; 0-4 this year

2010-Zack Cox-3B—played 4 games with Cards in 2010-hasn’t been in MLB since that time

2010-Seth Blair-RHP-never played in MLB

2010-Tyrell Jenkins-RHP—pitched 1 year in MLB for Atlanta was 2-4, 5.88 era…out of baseball

2011-Kolten Wong-2B-currently in 6th year with Cards- never an all star; career .251 hitter

2012-Michael Wacha-RHP-currently in 6th year with Cards- 1x all-star; was MVP of NLCS in 2013; record 53-32

2012-James Ramsey-OF NEVER MADE MLB; 2012-Stephen Piscotty-3B in draft; OF—4th MLB- career .267 batter;

2012-Patrick Wisdom-3B-NEVER in MLB-@ Memphis; 2012-Steve Bean-Catcher—NEVER in MLB- out of baseball

2013-Marco Gonzales-LHP-traded for Tyler O’Neill-4th year in MLB –currently 11-5

2013-Rob Kaminsky-LHP—traded to Cleveland- NEVER in MLB

2014-Luke Weaver & Jack Flaherty-RHP-both CURRENTLY on Cards ROSTER

2015-Nick Plummer-OF—NEVER in MLB-currently on Cards Class A team

2015-Jake Woodford-RHP  -NEVER in MLB-currently on Cards Class AA team with 3-8 record

2016-Delvin Pérez-SS-  NEVER in MLB- currently on Cards A- team

2016-Dylan Carlson-OF-NEVER in MLB –curently on Cards Peoria team hitting .238

2016-Dakota Hudson-RHP Just called up to MLB by Cards;  2017-2018 too early to tell..

….in summary…..our BEST 1st round choices ..since the year 2000….Colby Rasmus; Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha & Kolton Wong….. 1 every day player that plays 5+ years and despite the numerous choices of pitchers, we have Lynn, Wacha  & Shelby Miller—all good pitchers but neither  Lynn or Miller made it to beyond their free agency years with the Cards…will Wacha?

…then….we hear so much about the “productive” Cards farm system…..Memphis winning championships, Springfield terrifice…soooo……maybe the Cards scouts are finding gold in the later round choices…..I’m going to gauge this in a different manner… let’s look at the number of “home grown” players have been  in the “top 10” of the NL in key batting (runs, Hits, HR, RBI, Avg, OBP, OPS) or pitching stats…here are the to batters

2018 –RUNS–#5 Tommy Pham,#6 Matt Carpenter; HOME RUN-T#2 Matt Carpenter; SLUG-#4 Matt Carpenter

2017—NONE       2016-AVG-#8 Yadi Molina       2015-RUN-#5 Matt Carpenter; HR-#t8 Matt Carpenter

2014 RUNS-#3 Matt Carpenter; OBP#7 Matt Carpenter

2013 RUNS-#1 Matt Carpenter; HITS#1 Matt Carpenter; RBI-#8 Allen Craig,AVG#6 Matt Carpenter; OBP#7 Matt Carpenter     2012 AVG#6 Allen Craig; OBP#9 Yadier Molina; SLUG#6 Allen Craig 2011 RUNS#3 & HITS-t#9 Albert

2000-2010— lots and lots of Albert

On the pitching side…I used wins (or saves), era, whip, batting avg against them—NL stats only-home grown only pitchers only so Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter are not part of these stats since they came in trades

2018 Miles Mikolas –#5 wins, #4 ERA, #6 –WHIP

2017-Lance Lynn #10 – bat avg against; #6 avg against

2016 Carlos Martinez– t#5in wins; ERA-#9;

2015 Michael Wacha–#5 in wins (17);  Trevor Rosenthal –#2 saves (48)

2014 Trevor Rosenthal #2 saves (45); Lance Lynn t#8 WINS (15); Shelby Miller #10 bat avg against

2013 Lance Lynn t#6 WINS; Shelby Miller #10 ERA

2012 Jason Motte t#1 in SAVES; Lance Lynn #4 WINS

2011 none   2010 Jaime Garcia #4 ERA

 

Sooo….the Cards have drafted three batters who have played significant roles as batters since 2000—Albert, Yadi and Carp…..short “hits” from Craig and 1 or 2 others ….with Albert & Yadi in their primes, the Cards were regular visitors to the deep parts of the playoffs. Successful Pitchers drafted by the Cards (top 10 in these categories)…with multiple years are Lance Lynn & Trevor Rosenthal.  Cards didn’t resign Lynn when he reached free agency and Rosenthal had a shortened career …probably due to over use.

….I’m suggesting  to follow the script of the Cubs & Astros…..make drafting batters the top priority of the draft….some have argued that you can’t find batters who make a difference late in the draft…true….it’s much, much tougher to find stars later in the draft …but it is possible…… the scouting department has to be “on their game” to find these gems….here’s a couple batters from much later rounds in recent drafts…

In 2014 –13th pick was Trea Turner (Wash); 25th pick was Matt Chapman (Oakland)

2013–#32 pick (2nd last of 1st round) was Aaron Judge (NYY)

2012-#18 pick Corey Seager (LA Dodgers)

…another possible avenue to capitalize on your “farm talent”….a technique used recently by the Boston Red Sox…..trade several of the promising “prospects” for a proven star….e.g. Boston traded 5 players to White Sox for Chris Sale…..he IS a major difference maker. I believe that the Cards are guarding their treasure chest too tightly to go for the “really big one”….go for it….bring in that difference maker….like we had in Albert….it’s tough to sustain continued high success without a real star in the middle of the lineup..couldn’t we trade 2 of our top pitching “prospects” and a couple other “prospects”  to procure a top level batter? My target would be Nolan Arenado of Colorado…he won’t hit as many HR as he does in Colorado but…he’s a legitimate threat

…..sooo….the Cards good moves here in July 2018 HAVE put a bounce back into the team but let’s hope that this winter the  Redbirds will alter their draft approach or trade approach to bring in at least 1 top notch batter so that we’re good not just “better”

Other tidbits from around the MLB…

….did you notice that Baltimore is 41.5 game out of 1st place?   WOW!! Who would pay to watch them?

…38 year old Nelson Cruz (Seattle) hit his 25th HR of the year this week….look at his last 5 years of HR—40, 44, 43, 39 and already 25 this year…..this comes AFTER hitting between 20-30 round trippers for 4 years…..my skepticism goes up…it is really unfortunate that I feel that way….but it just doesn’t seem NORMAL for a 38 year old to still have that power

…I feel like Carson Kelly is currently OUT of the picture as Yadi’s successor

…What a slugging infield the Indians play….around the horn—Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez. The Indians still possess a very good starting staff…hence their 1st place standing.

…clearly Cards are playing Fowler daily to raise his value so that they can part ways with him and get at least “something” in return….the sooner that Harrison Bader plays every-day…the better

…Billy Hamilton has become much more than just a base-stealer…his terrific defensive play in CF makes him much more valuable than his batting statistics (too many strikeouts, not enough walks, low average) to the Reds

…Miles Mikolas has been an outstanding signing by the Cards….he’s the current ace with his curve ball that he throws in many different parts of the strike zone

….according to Yahoo pitching statistics, Carlos Martinez is ranked #7 on the Cardinals entire pitching staff

…moving through July …as always one of my favorite afternoon activities is watching the Tour de France….this year Geriant Thomas … signed to be a “worker” for the designated “leader” of the team ownership, Chris Froome.  Thomas won stage 11….stayed strong in the torturous mountain stages and became the leader of the Sky Team (the SKY team is currently like the 1920’s Yankees teams in cycling) and won the 3 week race by almost 2 minutes (not as close as it sounds). The last day, Sunday, is a ceremonial day as the remaining riders travel into Paris and custom has it that the leader of the tour will NOT be replaced on the final celebratory day.

….probably ….it’s better for me to stop now after my stop in Paris…hopefully that’ll make it good.

 

 

 

 

MO doesn’t want to Arbitrage by Bob Ryan

Last week after the Cards dropped their opening game of the 2nd half of the season, John Mozeliak was asked about the Cards getting a quick reboot. His response was..in part…”and to start trying to arbitrage that would have to be a very special type deal”. The Definition of arbitrage has two points…both business related…1)The nearly simultaneous purchase and sale of securities or foreign exchange in different markets in order to profit from price discrepancies;  2) the purchase of the stock of a takeover target especially with a view to selling it profitably to the raider….sooooo….why the use of this word?  I think that there’s more to this use of the word….but 1st some history…short…very short

…..growing up in South St Louis, if a guy used a word like this….it usually meant 1 of the following…

  1. He had just moved into St Louis from some college type town or
  2. His wealthy parents had sent him down to the “hood” to get a taste of real life or
  3. He was a geek or
  4. He had taken the wrong bus and ended errantly in South StL or
  5. He was trying to impress us or
  6. More likely…he was trying to impress his girlfriend….don’t we all try to impress them until we’re married ? or
  7. He had a rich vocabulary …not usually found in South St Louis…we weren’t rich in ANY way…especially in words longer than 4 letters or
  8. He was preparing for the annual spelling bee and reading the dictionary or
  9. He was trying to confuse us or sideline our thinking by using an unfamiliar word or
  10. He was trying to take our mind off the real question by using a word that made us scratch our heads and make us wonder what he meant….

Looking back…thinking about our usual reactions….no matter which of the above reasons were the cause….I think that this guy would have been given a “hard” time

I’ll let you decide which of these was the antecendent….you see…2 of us can play that word game.. for Mo’s response….let me decipher it for you…

Question was simply, “with the loss will you become a seller in MLB market”

His response was, “ I don’t want to tell you our thoughts now so I’ll obfuscate my answer”….

Wellllllll….what DO you think?  Should we become a seller ….or a buyer…at trading deadline…

Please respond….YES (we should sell….indicate the players that you’d offer) or we should buy…indicate players that you wish we could…reasonably …..obtain from other teams.

From my angle….this is the 3rd consecutive year of slippage of performance on the field….the Cards don’t seem to have any real field players that are very solid MLB batters in the farm. We’ve seen several pitching “prospects” brought up to shine….most (Martinez, Wacha, Weaver, Tuivailala, Gant, Brebbia, Mayers, Hicks, Lyons) ..some are serviceable(Brebbia, 2eeee,Lyons)… a couple are good MLB pitchers (Martinez, Wacha)…some are too young to make a real determination(hicks, Weaver, Flaherty)….Cards seem surprised by the performance of some (Brebbia, Mayers)…most of these prospects remind me of the ol’ time prospectors…..hunted, dug, shifted for years for gold but usually came up empty.. just like our “prospects”. It seems time to me to make a paradigm shift….let’s sell……WOULD YOU AGREE?

Who could we sell that would give us a “return” on our money?

….Jose Martinez will NOT get much….but he has no long term value…proverbial “prospect” in return

….Jeff Gyorko….has to be included in a larger package…not an everyday player…good backup for a contending team

….Marcell Ozuna…..if we want a “real” star…we must surrender some quality players…Marcell doesn’t seem to have adjusted to playing in front of large crowds….or maybe last year was an  aberration

…Matt Carpenter….while his best years are probably behind him….his fielding is suspect….he’s on a slugging binge right now…his value is higher right now than any other time of his career!

…Michael Wacha…could help a contender for a short term but his continued arm issues don’t seem to lend him to be a long term reliable starter who piles up 15 wins a season for back-back years

…Carlos Martinez….he is NOT an ace…would be a terrific #3 on contending teams pitching staffs.

…Dexter Fowler…..won’t get much….but need to unload him …we’ll have to pay for some of his contract… he’s really not a team player…c- defender

…..Kolton Wong….seems to need a new setting….maybe…all he needs is this new manager—maybe Shildt is that new manager?

The only starter that would be “safe” to me would be Jack Flaherty…..

Am I saying trade ALL of them?….absolutely not….but I’d have all of them on the table depending on the trade….I’d LOVE to see the Cards go out and get a superstar free agent to “build around” but…..that’s not the customary approach of Mr. Arbitrage.  I don’t want to see MO go bargain hunting for these long time minor leaguers who are good the 1st time around the league and on the 2nd or 3rd time around…. you see why they were minor leaguers for so long. I’d love to read YOUR thoughts on how the Cards should approach this trading deadline.

Cards Weekly Review…it’s only 1 week of new manager…some 1st impressions

…I like that new Mgr Shildt seems to let his relief pitchers ….especially Mayers…go more than 1 inning

…Bullpen usage by Shildt seems more “under control”….the yippyity finger itch to bring in another new pitcher doesn’t seem so prevalent

…All Cardinal batters seem to be running hard at all time…isn’t that a shame that we have to mention that as a compliment

…Brett Cecil needs to be released…Tim McCarver expressed it …ever so gently…that Cecil wasn’t getting any one out and wouldn’t with his stuff…..I’m writing this immediately after the Cardinal game …so maybe by the time you read it…he’ll be gone…..the Cards MUST swallow his contract and move on

…one huge difference from Cards-Cubs is the tremendous..although sometimes show-boaty…. Is the Cubs defense… better range, more speed, better arms and yet very flexible

…happy to see Jose Martinez being phased out

Cruising Around the MLB….

….The Orioles are “cruising ahead” with trade discussions centered around  the most coveted relief hurler of this 2018 deadline sweepstakes is Baltimore’s LH relief pitcher– Zach Britton. The Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Phillies and Astros( who thought they they had him locked up last year!!) are among the teams interested in Britton.  Cubs seems to be out of young prospects….finally…..so it would seem that a player on MLB roster would be required in the trade. Guess the Cards don’t need any relief pitching, heh?  Or….they just don’t want to pay the price.

…The Angels have dropped 21 of their last 33 games and have taken a free-fall out of the AL West race. Some of their “pieces”…doesn’t that make the players sound like furniture?….may be moved now to assist them for future AL West races.

….24 year old Josh Hader (Brewers relief pitcher)  will have to attend Sensitivity Training For Offensive Tweets that he made when he was 17 years old. He called them “inexcusable”, apologized for the horrible mistakes and attributed it to being “young, immature and stupid” and that it doesn’t reflect his current beliefs. Apparently, Hader broke down when addressing his teammates about the matter.  The Brewer fans showed compassion as they gave him a standing ovation in his 1st appearance….I’m not condoning ANY of his statements in ANY way however…..which of us didn’t do stupid things as 17 year olds….most of you are probably grateful that twitter, cell phone cameras and other recording devices weren’t around when YOU were 17   Heck….24 still seems “young” to me.

They REALLY said that?

…..James Harrison…long time Steeler…traded to NE Patriots last year upset Pittsburgh fans/team by stating that the Pats staff is better than the Steeler staff.  “The only thing that’s really opposite is that in New England, it’s more regimented, it’s more disciplined,” said Harrison. “The coaching is better, to be honest with you. The plans they put together are better. And they don’t ask their players to do anything that’s outside of the realm of what they feel their capabilities are. So when you do that, and you switch a lot of players in and out for certain things that you want to get accomplished, you get things done and that’s what they have over there.

….Justin Verlander…Astros Pitcher(AL)…“I would take the DH out, even though I know the National League is talking about implementing the designated hitter,’’ Verlander said. “For my pitching purposes, it’s fun to face guys like me who can’t hit. But I do think, for instance when we were in the World Series, the Houston Astros are playing the Dodgers, when we are at Dodger Stadium, we were a little behind. We were not used to hitting, bunting and things like that.  “When you’re playing a championship, that determines the best team in the world, it should be an even playing field. It’s the only sport like that with different sets of rules in different leagues.

….Kyle Schwarber… estimates that he takes anywhere from 30 to 50 swings on an average day — and he figures he took about 10 times that many in the Home Run Derby last Monday, which is why his arms were sore in the days after the event. Apparently, Mgr Joe Madden makes batting practice optional for all of his team after Aug 1(approximately)….he realizes the wear & tear of the long season BUT if a player is struggling at the plate, he certainly should take extra BP of his own choice….that is…is he wants to remain in the MLB….it’s HIS personal career and HIS personal decision to work on HIS deficiencies. Not every player needs to go through those multiple swing days, day after day, for each and every day of the season.

Thanks for reading the blog….hope many of you will respond…to any part of the blog….either send it to me and I’ll get it posted or…put it on the site yourself…Thanks again!

Comments:

Very timely article…
Following Matheny being let go, both Dewitt & Mo stated via numerous media outlets, that they felt this was a playoff team. Being positive is admirable, but even the novice fan didn’t buy it.
Mgmt is too proud to take the Astros/ Marlins approach. REBUILD!  StL fans are so accustomed to winning/ playoff baseball, it would  not be pleasant for Front Office
I feel for Mike Schildt… a weak roster that all the positive thoughts won’t fix.
Feel he’s a place holder until roster is flipped.
Aside from Miles Mikolas, off season deals were not successful.
C Martinez will never live up to “ ace” handle in StL.
Wacha simply can’t stay healthy.
Waino is probably heading into retirement after the season.
Flaherty, Gomber, A Reyes, Weaver & Poncedeleon  could be a nice, young rotation, with Dakota Hudson waiting in the wings.
J Martinez, Gyrko, Pham, & Ozuna join C Martinez on the block. Too much $ to lose dealing Fowler.
They like Wongs defense so I suppose he stays.
Molina & Carpenter appears untouchable at this point.
Munoz is pushing G Garcia for the utility role.
I like Hicks, Brebbia & a healthy Lyons , perhaps Tuilavala to be joined by TBD lefty/ righty legit pen stoppers. Cecil, Bowman, & Holland need to be moved
Norris is closer now, but I’d sell now due to his age/ 1 yr contract.
Bottom line… youth ,along with impact free agents and a few holdovers is perhaps the necessary strategy, to invigorate the disappointed fan base.
JP

Cards-Cubs Championship Fight by Bob Ryan

With a title like this….one HAS to think of the glorious days of Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier entertaining us with their historic battles. But…..this “championship series” is between the St. Louis Cards & the Chicago Cubs….it has two settings……here we go…

Ring Announcer:  “Welcome everyone to the 8 rounds of battle over an 11 day stretch between two long-time rivals…let me introduce to you the combatants right NOW….in the Red corner with a record of 48-46 is the St Louis Cardinals and in the Blue Corner is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs hold a 55-38 record for the 2018 season. At ringside is the PBP announcer is  Johnny Slikbk with his sidekick, Rocky Hazbn.

Before the fighters enter the ring…

Johnny, “ Well, Rocky it’s the stretch of the season that we’ve been waiting for…..one of these teams COULD be totally knocked out (of the race) or get back into a neck-neck race .”

Rocky,” Exact amondo Johnny, these two contestants will have 8 rounds (games) of action.

Johnny,” What can we expect to see”

Rocky, “ You will see plenty of pitching changes to improve their defense against the other team. You’ll see the Cards trying to display some new emotion under their new manager Mike Schildt. We don’t know much about this ol’ cagey manager who’s worked with lower level fighters for a long time but… on the field…we do expect a dramatic evolution in the bullpen with less actual changes and more clearly defined roles.

Johnny, “What else does Schildt bring to the table for these Cards?”

Rocky, “An important change Schildt brings to the team is in the clubhouse…..we heard the word “accountability” flowing frequently with the departure of MM….ironically though Johnny…many of the men throwing around that word couldn’t look in the mirror?….wonder why?

Johnny,” Rock, tell us about the offense of the Red Corner…the Cards”

Rock,”Well…the Cards have shown a knockdown punch…they are #4 in NL in home runs but they don’t set up that power well…they are #11 in on-base % in NL (11 of 15) including #13 in walks in the NL…so the Cards have a knockdown punch (HR) but usually it’s with the bases empty

Johnny,” Tell us about the runs prevention…the defense and the pitching… Rock”

Rocky, “ While the Cards DO have a knockdown punch, the don’t’ defend themselves too well. They are tied for #6 in the NL in ERA, 12th in the NL in strikeouts…so the pitchers can’t defend themselves. Also, the Cards pitchers are #9 (NL) in walks per permitted…giving up too many free punches (runners) against them

Johnny, “ What about the Blue Corner Rock?

Rocky,’Well the Cubs havent’ been the fighter that most expected….but …they have some sneaky punches…the Cubs are#1 in OB% in MLB, #1 in NL in runs scored, and #1 in OPS….so they have a potent punch offensively…most expected them to be good….but they are a NL leader not just good …or close to the top with that knockout punch..

Johnny,”What arout their defense….their pitching Rock?”

Rocky, “ Despite heavy investment, the Cubs pitching is a bit of this and a bit of that….#2 in NL in ERA, NL #4 staff in HR against, however they’ve shown a defensive weakness …they are #17 in MLB in WHIP…. this means lots of pitching off the stretch…statistically, pitchers pitching off the stretch permit more hits and more runs

Johnny,” Rock….what’s the long look here at the importance of this series”?”

Rock….The Cubs begin this 8 round match as the Champion of the Division with a 2.5 lead over Milwaukee …the Brewers have begun to show some wear and tear in the ring of late due to their frail starting rotation….The Cards are ranked #3 in the division with a 7.5 game gap between them and the Champ (Cubs)…it goes this  way, Johnny…..the Cards MUST win the 8 round match….not necessarily a sweep but a 5-3 victory in these 8 rounds brings them with sight of the Champ(1st place team)…winning more than 5 games brings them totally back into the race….however, if the Champ breaks even …going 4-4…that’s good enough for them—they chew up games on the schedule….IF after those 8 games (5 game series, 3 gm break and another 3 round series), the Cubs have won the 8 round match(5-3)…the Cards will have played 105 games and would be looking at 8+ games deficit(at the minimum)—a long, steep hill to climb….if The Cubs win 6 or more of the 8 games, it were to be a 10+ game bulge….it would be a knockout blow…..the season would be over for our Cards.  Stay tuned for all the exciting action between the Cubs & the Cards!!

 

Now to the more serious stuff …like….Do YOU believe that!!” section….

…do you believe that the All-Star game interviews with the players on the field were actually quite good….much to my surprise….it took us away from some of those inane announcer discussions about minutia …even Bryce Harper came across “good”

…do you believe that the Cleveland Indians are the ONLY team in their division over .500!

…do you believe that Carlos Correa …who is a recognized star on the terrific Houston team… and….he’s only 23 years old!

…it’s not hard to believe that the All-Star game itself was a Home Run Derby….frankly they become a bit boring to me….one quick swing…about 2 seconds and its gone—Home Run

…do you believe that the Philadelphia Phillies who are 11 games over .500 have only one hitter batting

over .275!

…do you believe that the Dodgers …who were 9 games out of 1st place on Tuesday, May 8 but took a .5 lead in the NL West on Sunday have done it without the talented SS Corey Seager

…Do you believe that with…..apparently…. Machado heading to Dodgers….the fear of critics of Free Agency of decades ago is actually…after several decades…proving to be true….the super large, major cities of the US (NY, LA, Chicago, Houston) are capturing the most of the major free agents. Smaller cities will get the next level of free agents.

 

Quick flashes on the one game of new Manager …

….leaving John Gant in for 3 innings indicates a strong, positive direction in handling the bullpen. I couldn’t find it in any statistics…..if MM had EVER left a bullpen pitcher in a game for 3 innings.  Longer performances means less performances….much better on the bullpen arms

…inserting Yadi to the #2 spot was a significant change….why would he do that?…well…Yadi is #3 on the team in slugging %, OBP and OPS..from Little League to MLB…get your best hitters higher in the lineup so that they bat more often. Hence, Matt Carpenter who leads the team in On-Base % (OBP) bats first.

…Fowler was back in the lineup…..as I mentioned a couple weeks ago…the Cards MUST find some role for him to fill….his trade value is next to zero at the moment…find some role that he may fill to make himself …a) help the team   b) more valuable to trade. The Cardinals DNA is NOT to “eat” bad contracts

…probably an insignificant note…why did Ozuna suddenly wear a white long sleeve instead of his flashy yellow one with a new manager….I don’t think it was coincidence

 

Thanks for reading this special edition…YOUR reactions…pro or con….I expect most reactions to be different than my thoughts so let ‘em fly…..send them to me and I’ll get them posted with your initials as the writer.

It HAD to be done by Bob Ryan

With the Cards floundering, fan interest….even the Cards devout fans…..beginning to fray, the team playing some horrendous baseball games in the past 3 weeks, the Cards ownership pulled the trigger on Saturday night….no it wasn’t a Saturday night massacre…but the Cards dumped Mike Matheny.

….after the bad loss to Cincinnati on Saturday….for one of the rare times…watched the post-game interview with Matheny….”we’re not out”, “we have good pieces”, “we have the ability for multiple long runs”… I couldn’t determine if he was delusional, in denial, reading off a mental script, or confused as to which team had won the game…or what…some reasons…

1) Continued “blow out” games……it HAD been another really bad loss….8-2 — seemingly overmatched by the opponent, coming on top of other “stinkers”that the team appear to be inferior to several other teams…11-3 shellacking to Brewers on June 21, the 11-4 beating on June 30 to Atlanta, 13-8 loss to SF on July—close game but very, very poor play

2) Look around at what change can do……maybe it was coincidental…but …Cincinnati…after dumping their manager….has been a vastly improved team over the last month….and in fact…right now…the Cards are closer to Cincy (last place) -5 games than the Cubs in 1st  place-7 games away

3) of  course….MONEY…..I’ve always thought that the DeWitt’s would only make a “move” if their bulging pocketbook began to feel the impact…..well…last night….and I know it had long rain delays….for the last couple innings, the most striking part of Busch II was the thousands of empty seats.  It had been a sellout….most seats probably purchased long ago but the in-game profits….consider this…if a person averages $20/game in concessions (rather modest probably)….45000 fans = $900000 in concession sales for each game…so we’re talking…in general terms of $1m/game on concession sales with either more than 45000 fans or fans spending more than a $20/average.  That income was “taking a hit”.

4) Clubhouse environment eroding….the Bud Norris-Jordan Hicks spat….much more on that below… written prior to the scalping

5) Had players lost confidence in his “moves”?….questioning the “when’s” and “why’s”…. when that happens ….you’ve lost the team….could you imagine Cardinal players doing that under TLR?

…I’ll be surprised if Jose Oquendo isn’t named the manager

…I do wonder why the hitting coaches were dumped…..I suspect that the players “couldn’t relate” to them…or maybe viewed as Matheny’s “guys”.

…Whoever assumes the reins to drive this RED wagon is inheriting a roster that plays poor fundamental baseball, bullpen is shallow in quality, defense & base running seem below winning teams standards. …Lucky….I hope so….right after the break the Cards have a plethora of games against the Cubbies…the Cards could reemerge from this hole and pop right back into the race with a strong 2 weeks…or… they could be looking more behind them than in front of them.

 

Does this sound like an exhibition game in Florida?  Starting Pitchers pitch 2-3 innings, new relievers are employed almost each inning…not due to ineffectiveness…. but they’ve done their job.  Most starting field players are out of the game by the 4 or 5th inning….they got their work in.   Managers seldom use bunts, hit-run, pickoff attempts because it’s not the regular season….the winner of game is saluted but not much more….no one cares an iota about  who wins the game….Well….it COULD describe an exhibition game in March but it also describes the current All-Star game to a tee.

 

The MLB showcase event…the All-Star game… has become an exhibition…..not an actual game.   Players and the Manager could really care less who wins the game. The MLB has attempted to bring some significance to the game in a variety of ways….but as time rolls along….it become more and more an exhibition… ….how did we get here?

….back in 1933, it was the idea of several NON-baseball people who “drove the deal”. How did it begin in Chicago?  Chicago mayor Edward Kelly …who was leading the drive to make the World’s Fair that was being held in Chicago in 1933 a huge success to help raise the hopes of the common person coming through & out of the depression…wanted to add a major athletic event in conjunction with the World’s Fair. He approached Robert McCormick the publisher of the Chicago Tribune with the idea. McCormick turned it over to the sports editor, Arch Ward. Ward knew that attendance in the MLB had skyrocketed in the 20’s but dropped off severely between1930-33 (depression related no doubt). He wanted to call it the “Game of the Century”! He also recognized that the man who had built baseball, Babe Ruth wouldn’t be around much longer….he had turned 38 in February of 1933..so they had to start this type of thing quickly. He was so sure that it’d be a success that he told McCormick to take any losses out of Ward’s own paycheck. With his boss on board, the Chicago contingent had to convince MLB commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. One of the convincing points …but not the major point….was that all of the money generated would be  donated to a charity for retired players, he argued, they could show the country that Major League Baseball was not, as some had suggested, embracing a culture of “decadence” while ordinary Americans suffered financial ruin. Eventually, Landis agreed and it was decided to try this idea in Chicago on July 6, 1933. There were 25 players on each team.   As the date approached, Ward wrote one story after another in the Tribune, hyping the game and encouraging the public to participate by voting for the actual teams..yes…fan voting back in 1933!! Ballots were printed in 55 newspapers across the country, and fans cast several hundred thousand votes for their favorite players, with Babe Ruth drawing 100,000 leading the way. In addition to the Bambino, fans elected stars like Lefty Grove, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin to AL roster.  The NL had Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, Chic Hafey on NL roster. On July 6, 47,595 fans packed into Comiskey Park I, where some of baseball’s most historic moments had taken place. This would be another. The game, which ended in a 4-2 victory by the American League, did not disappoint, thrilling the crowd with its star-studded roster and the drama of excellent baseball players competing at the highest level against each other. Indeed, for many of the players, this was their first chance to meet and compete against some of the players from the other league.  Arch Ward’s All-Star Game proved so popular that its organizers held another “midsummer classic” the following year. Since then, it has become an annual fixture of the baseball season, bringing together the sport’s most talented and beloved players every year with the exception of 1945, when it was cancelled due to wartime travel restrictions to compete against each other. You probably won’t recognize too many names…especially National League names….here was the lineup and batting spot for the NL:

1  Pepper Martin-3B

2  Frankie Frisch-2B

3  Chuck Klein- RF

4 Chick Hafey-LF

5   Bill Terry-1B

6   Wally Berger-CF

7   Dick Bartell-SS

8  Jimmie Wilson-C

9  Bill Hallahan-P

The AL batting order (and spot) looked like this:

1  Ben Chapman-LF

2 Charlie Gehringer-2B

3  Babe Ruth  RF – fittingly– hit 1st HR –bottom of 3rd inn

4   Lou Gehrig-1B

5  Al Simmons-CF

6  Jimmy Dykes-3B

7   Joe Cronin-SS

8 Rick Ferrell-C

9  Lefty Gomez-P

It’s more going on ever since…but the “battle” for winning the game has taken a major dip.Why? How?

…..TV– MLB games allows baseball fans to watch 1st hand many …if not all… the major stars in action on a daily basis on cable TV.

…..Interleague play now permits fans to see players from both teams in person

…free agency which began in the early 1970’s open the gates to players jumping leagues to a new set of fans

… trading players across league lines…which happens frequently now… w/o anyone blinking an eye….in the 30’s-40’s most trades were players from the same league…the guys that you saw all the time.

….So….the competition between the leagues really doesn’t exist any longer. Neither league…or the players…give 2 hoots about demonstrating that they are the “better” league. The game itself is an exhibition….. Meanwhile, starting players …it seems to me …are more intent on ducking out to see who can get the earliest flight out… after…or during the game.

How about these changes…..

…first of all …with the current 33 man roster (instead of the original 25) there are 50% more substitutes sitting on the bench …the total of subs has risen from 16 subs in 1933 to 24 subs currently.  The silly, inane idea that all of the 33 players need to play ??!! Play the best players…the starters a minimum of 6 innings.  Don’t flood the field with the 2nd or 3rd guy voted into that position.

….with the magnificent salaries that the players command these days($545,000+ minimum)….is it really necessary to supplement the “players” pension fund?  Don’t they have ample opportunity to provide for themselves after their career?  Why not give  ALL the money to charity?…I mean real charity…heck, make that an event on TV….for example…..draw out names or spin a wheel…. of the winning charitable organizations of the money….Maybe divide it up so many organizations will benefit….e.g.   the winner of 25% of the proceeds is “need it now” organization;  spinning the wheel again….do we need Vanna White to do it? The winner of the 15% of the proceeds is “it looks bleak” organization…etc.  until all 100% is donated to charity. If players refuse to play, they MUST donate 5%(or some other %) of their salary. Period.

….more ideas for actually playing the game..

…cut the rosters back to 25 players and remove the requirement that each team be represented. Are you really upset if you don’t see a Chicago White Sox , or Tampa Bay, or Kansas City player? Go ahead..give me the best player on each of those teams……I can’t!!

….Pitchers are not scheduled to bat …..This is the perfect game for a DH .

…if a pitcher enters the game, they must face a minimum of 4 or 5  batters.

…have the voting end 2 weeks prior to game, instruct managers that they are NOT permitted to use an All-Star pitcher on the Sunday prior to the game.

…NO more of this ridiculous …”last man in”voting rule…..

….voting should be by the players…… do the fans REALLY know the skills of the players as well as the actual players do? Do YOUR customers indicate which employees should receive recognition? ……Sooo…..it’s assumed that the fans won’t watch the game because THEY didn’t pick the rosters?…come on….this voting is …for the most part ….a real farce. Most don’t vote at all while some fans vote multiple times. Now I could understand that style if we played in Chicago every year.

…if a player claims injury or indicates that he can’t/won’t play in the game, then ….he may not play any regular season games after the all-star game for 10 days or 2 weeks after All-Star game

…if you really want the players to give maximum effort….give the winning team a financial prize  for winning and the losing team nothing!

The weekly review of our Cardinals….outside of the firing…..

….How did Ozuna win a gold glove last year?  He frequently seems to misjudge fly balls and his accuracy at throwing to the bases…any of them, even 3B…..is woeful.

….When you look at these salaries, you realize that young players are looking at these players making millions while the youngsters…in some cases…carry the load:  Yadier Molina $20m;  Jed Gyorko  $9m, Dexter Fowler $16.5m,  Greg Holland $14m—4 players earning $60m meanwhile, 11 players are earning less than $600, 000. On the successful teams, the players earning the highest salary ARE the best performers. This rests on MO for his acquisitions of these overpriced, underperforming players.

…Wong & Bader make the Cardinals SO MUCH better defensively….they must be played…we’ve given away far too many games due to our defense this season.

….Tommy Pham looks “shaken” to me in the batters box….I don’t think that he’s EVER experienced this type of plunge in the batters box….the All-Star break should really benefit him.

…I would suggest that the Cards give Luke Weaver 5-6 days off between starts…in an attempt to keep his arm fresh in the 2nd half….his production has dropped significantly after mid-May.

What were We thinking?…..

…Soooo….following up on an idea mentioned above….I’m giving Matheny a break here…..He had a veteran, Bud Norris helping him “mature” a young, talented, undisciplined player—Jordan Hicks….just has he had done in 2017 for the LA Angels.  This is a common practice on all major sports teams. However, It clearly came across …on 1st read… at least to me….that Norris was hassling Hicks.  What were we thinking….I’m thinking now that at least one of the Cardinals…maybe more…. provided this info to the sports writer to shed bad light on Matheny, Norris and/or the Cardinals.  I would surmise that it’s a disgruntled player(s).

….What were we thinking when we thought bringing in two top level coaches would change the inept play of our MLB team…..the players made…and or still making ..the mental and physical mistakes that lead to poor play. Frankly….I don’t think that we have a good roster…too many holes across the board.

….What were we thinking when we thought Jose Martinez would be an All-Star?   He began his career in 2006 in the Venezuelan league..has played on 15 minor league teams and in the Venezuelan league 9 years…does a guy with those credentials suddenly become a MLB All-Star?

….What was Kolton Wong thinking?….in Saturday night’s game….a ground ball up the middle on SS side….DeJong gets to the ball…but Wong isn’t covering the base???  He was chasing the ball….even Danny Mac had to say,”one has to wonder what Wong was thinking on that play”

…What were you thinking when you thought that this was a short blog?