Sports Dynasties & Cards Starters by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

…. A quick burst about Super Bowl History….

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

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

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

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

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

But what about the dynasties in other professional sports….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…on the HS basketball scene..

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

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

Behind Closed Doors by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Turning the Tide by Bob Ryan

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

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

 

Alexa … find me … by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Holidays = Bowl Games Galore by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

$tanton $weepstakes $aga by Bob Ryan

The past couple weeks all the buzz about the Cardinals has centered around their effort to procure GianCarlo Stanton from the Marlins…as you all know..it went south….some thoughts…

…I actually think the Marlins actually tried “pushing” $tanton a bit to accept the trade by trading their outstanding 2B Dee Gordon to Seattle ….indicating to $tanton the road that they are traveling…any player with a substantial salary will be removed….so….Miami was saying to $tanton …you better agree soon because there won’t be any other players around you…how much fun will that be….clearly he got the “hint” and out of nowhere…it seemed…$tanton was going to be a Yankee.

…$urprising? …not really..so $taton made it clear that he wants to play on a winner…a big winner… he’s NEVER played on a .500+ team, much less go to the playoffs….and he wants to live on the  coast….originally, we thought it was the west coast…it  sounded like the LA Dodgers were his goal?  After all.. Who else wins “big” on the west coast … none of the AL west coast teams are big winners… or even .500 these days…Why didn’t the Dodgers want to play in the $sweepstatkes ?…well… LA has spent $237m in each of the past several seasons…if it happens again next year, LA will have to pay an extra 45% surcharge tax and their top draft pick of 2018 (#30 overall) will drop 10 spots….LA’s stated goal is to sink to the measly low level of $208m…and that’s without ANY potential additions and clearly not playing in the $tanton $weepstakes…soooo..Stanton swaps coast lines and uses the same criteria to sign with another financially healthy team….the Yankees. The Yanks have bought $uperstar for decades.they   began their purchases of $uperstars way back in 1920 when they procured a guy named Babe Ruth.

….I was a bit puzzled why the Cards REALLY  felt like they needed $tanton in the middle of the lineup…I think it may have been the Aaron Judge phenomena….look at the buzz that he brought to NY this year with his prodigious blasts…the Cards were/are looking for that buzz.  Now NYY will have a Ruth/Gehrig look with Judge & Stanton back-back in the lineup…impressive.              

…on the other side of the deal……the early joy of Derek Jeter being an owner in Miami has also gone further south….one Miami newspaper said, “Jeter’s two months at the helm have been tone-deaf, incompetent, and callous, and Rob Manfred may need to save him from himself” Jeter had a low bar to jump over the previous owner…besting the weak efforts of Jeffrey Loria who ruined Montreal & Miami as baseball cities…now Jeter has fired everyone associated with the old front office and refusing to replace them with new people to save on payroll, is constantly shopping around for new investors to help him stay solvent, shops around is best players ($tanton & Gordon) for financial reasons, and now according to Jeff Passan, fired a scout who requires a kidney transplant while the guys is still in the hospital recovering from colon cancer surgery…. everyone knows that baseball is a big business…but Jeter’s indifference to fans and people in general has been extremely sad… in fact, MLB baseball may be forced to act on him as Bowie Kuhn did to Charlie Finley as he wanted to ship off ALL of his stars in Oakland years ago.. Kuhn did not allow Finley to unload Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi and Vida Blue for not much more than handshake and some cash….maybe MLB will need to step into Miami with the same “big stick” clause ?

Where does this signing…or lack of signing… leave the Cards?

…So the Cards open the $igning $eason by signing relief hurler Luke Gregerson to a 2 year contract. This one-time Cardinal prospect has been in the MLB 9 years as a relief hurler. Last year as a 33 year old he was 2-3, 4.57 ERA, 65 appearances with a WHIP of 1.344…the ERA & WHIP numbers were the highest of his career. Clearly the Cardinals are expecting him to work the 7th or 8th inning. I’m luke-warm on Luke…his numbers from last year concern me….but….it’s a start.

…I’ve even heard rumors of Evan Longoria….his numbers are just a bit above Jeff Gyorko…yes …he can field better..but …is his larger contract worth  the small difference of play?  …not to me…

…I also have heard interest in Alex Colome (closer Tampa Bay…I would suspect we’d have to send them some type of relief hurler, a top OF prospect (Tampa had NO starting batter over .275 in their lineup last year) and another player (probably an OF or pitcher)

…I DO think that the Cards ownership wants the buzz mentioned above…I think Many Machado of Baltimore is the most likely candidate….it’d take 4 players….at least 2 very high quality & pitchers.

…outside the $weepstakes $aga…

….Mizzou football loses 2 key assistant coaches(Heupel & Elarbee)….I would assume that most assistant coaches want to become Head Coaches….when the opportunity presents itself to become a Head Coach or a better Asst job…”better” has many possible considerations.. generally after you’ve coached a winning team…move on….that’s the business….Barry Odum seemed a bit upset with Elarbee (offensive line coach) decided to join Heupel’s staff @ U Central Florida…..I should remind him….this is the time that coaches often move….Odum fired his defensive coordinator after 2 games of the season and seemed comfortable doing it at that very awkward time for a coach to land another job…that door swings both ways big boy..

…The Heisman Trophy winner was Baker Mayfield.  Generally, it is won by a very successful, nationally recognized team. In recent years, it generally goes to the best player on the one of the best team of the country….Mayfield had some very impressive statistics in leading OU to a banner season…in his acceptance speech, he recognized former winners…especially from OU…his competitors, his coaches, his teammates…it touched all the bases….nice approach however….I guess that they don’t teach public speaking in schools any longer….he gave his speech with the hands in his pockets…ugh…. and…now I’m nit-picking …he used the same couple phrases over and over again…come on…pay someone else to write the speech if you have a limited vocabulary…no one will remember the speech unless it’s  not good .

…speaking of the Heisman’s….since 2000, there have been 18 Heisman winners….15 have been QB! As recently as the 90’s (10 winners) there were 5 QB and 5 non-QB….The game HAS changed…passing is the primary staple of the offense for most teams…as indicated by the choice of so many QB. For many, it was the end of their notoriety as star football players… Chris Weinke (2000,Florida St), Eric Crouch (2001-Neb),  Jason White (2003-OU), Matt Leinart (2004-USC), Troy Smith (2006 the Ohio State), Tim Tebow (2007, Florida), Johnny Manziel (2012-Tx A&M)..the 3 running backs since 2000 ….what a great trivia question…2005 Reggie Bush-USC -later removed for the scandal under Pete Carroll; 2009 Mark Ingram –Bama; 2015 Derrick Henry-Bama. Lamar Jackson (Louisville) won it last year….had another terrific season (3000ish passing yards & 1000ish rushing yards) but was 3rd in the voting this year ????  Btw…Mayfield is the 1st Senior to win the Heisman Award since 2006 (Troy smith-Ohio State)

…a special treat on Saturday for me….watching the Army-Navy game….it was snowy…cold…windy…a great game to watch on TV….the two teams…based on discipline both utilizing run offenses since these teams aren’t built around players hoping to go to the NFL…these offenses are designed to chew up the clock with short, consistent gains…e.g. each team had the ball ONCE in the first quarter!..these men still view it as a game…. their real  training is in learning to defend all of the rest of us. You may not like the styles of football offense…I actually do….but you have to admire their supreme efforts, skill, timing and discipline…that word again, I must be following the Baker Mayfield school of writing  ….the camaraderie at the end of the game with both teams moving from one end of the stadium to the other to stand and listen to the school songs of each academy…what entertainment…oh…btw…it was a super game…Navy led going into the 4th quarter, Army marched down the field in a typical long play drive(10-12 plays) .. to take a 14-13 lead….with 3 minutes left..Navy moved back down into FG range…but inexplicably had not 1 but 2 motion penalties so the their kicker had a 48 yard FG attempt…his kick was long enough and high enough…but the wind blew it just wide…. Army wins 14-13…but I felt like the winner as it was a real pleasure watching our academies represent themselves so admirably.

…Baseball HOF idea…

…sure…the voting isn’t until January but….I’d like to again…as I did it about year and a half ago .. raise the awareness of Ted Simmons for the MLB HOF.   This isn’t based on being my favorite player…as he was for my brother…but simply comparing him to the current catchers in the HOF.  In the past 2 years, the HOF added Mike Piazza & Ivan Rodriguez…two tremendous and certainly HOF worthy catchers… the HOF now has 15 catchers… If Simmons was to be voted into the HOF in January, Simmons would become in the comparison of him to the other current catchers in HOF—2nd in HITS (2472), 2nd in RBI (1389), 7th in HR (248), 5th in RUN (1074)tied for 8th in Batting Average (.285), 9th in OBP .348, 14th in Slugging% .437….he hit over .300 in 7 seasons; his best year was 1975–.332, 18 HR, 100 rbi’s OBP 396 slug .491 ops .887…but incredibly….he didn’t make the all-star team that year. He was in 8 All-Star games but a guy named Johnny Bench dominated the voting for NL catchers throughout Simmons prime years. It seems to me that the HOF would be overlooking a player that belongs in their midst.. downsides….some say he was weak defensively….well…he was clearly better than Piazza..to name just one … and one voted in recently.  Others say that he wasn’t on winning teams…well he was on 2 Milwaukee playoff teams but not a World Series teams…many players fit into that situation of no post season heroics …poor Ernie Banks pops straight into mind and I’m sure that there are many, many more HOF who didn’t play in any post-season.

…Travis Ford is already showing signs of extreme frustration with his early, strong reactions to officials during games and his comments during media interviews…poor guy….it’s been a long season for him as we hit mid-December..ugh

….btw…why is Lovie Smith getting a “pass” at Illinois? He’s 5-19 in 2 seasons at Champaign.  His last winning season of any kind was 2012. He DID have strong successful seasons in 2005, 2006 and 2010 in the NFL as a HEAD Coach. Coaching College is a different animal…the Head Coach not only has to be a good on the field coach but…more importantly.. he needs to recruit….and recruit the top athletes. Apparently his NFL days are buying him “stay out of jail…oops…or stay employed” cards.

…in the Nearly Forgotton League..

….I know many of you don’t follow the NFL any longer….bear with me…I watched the Rams-Eagles game yesterday. Both teams had young, talented QB that could really throw the ball. Both defenses had strong pass rushes and both offenses  could…and did…move the ball… it was a high scoring, fun game to watch. There were 5 lead changes and the finalscore of 43-35 was a bit misleading.  The Eagles kicked a FG with 0:01 second left to take a 37-35 lead. On the Eagles kickoff, the Rams were trying to lateral the ball to keep the game alive…one of their laterals were intercepted and ran in for a TD by Philly..no PAT attempt was taken…hence 43-37. The only real downer …. To me… was the injury to the tremendous Eagle QB Carson Wentz..bummer…he’s a real talent…

 …on the other hand…..I watched part of the Steelers-Bengals game last Monday….it was vicious.  It appeared to me that the players were deliberately attempting to injure their opponents….winning the game seemed secondary….now I’m all for hard hitting ….and these athletes are incredibly strong, fast, aggressive  and agile men  but hard hitting can be done fairly without taking shots at the opponents  body that will severely hurt him. Of course the $20b man-Roger Dumbnall probably didn’t see it…he was counting some of his money from his newly signed  contract. I didn’t watch it long.

…Well the $tanton $weepstakes is over but the Cardinals hunt for a Red October continues. Have a fun week.

 

 

 

NCAA Football is Like Cinderella by Bob Ryan

Over Thanksgiving I read the story of Cinderella to my grand-daughter….it got me thinking…The NCAA football season and post-season resemble the story of Cinderella…take a look….in late-summer the bids go out…129 invitations are sent out to all the contestants… who will be hoping  that the glass slipper of the NCAA Championship fits them this year.  The contestants arrive being escorted by their dancing partner (coach)… There will be 12 dances(games)…if any contestant slips…or worse…falls..7x …they will be asked to sit out.  Their dancing partner come with various degrees of skill…and or rewarded accordingly. These partners were compensated …some very, very well….for their skill, experience and work throughout the evening. Generally the first 3-5 songs are slow and rather easy to stay in the competition…. the only dancers falling or slipping or the ones who have not invested huge sums of money in learning their craft, improving their athleticism or are poorly led by their dancing partner (coach). The best dancing partner for the football maidens are highly compensated for this evening of dances. As the evening rolls along….the music to the dances picks up the tempo and slips become more prevalent….around the 7th dance…the judges (NCAA committee) begin notifying  the best dancers of their ratings for the entire evening. Now during these dances….mysterious things seem to happen…some dancers get bit by the injury-bug and can no longer continue.  Other dancers looked brilliant in the earlier, slower dances but were unable to compete in the faster, higher paced songs. Still other dancers are breezing along until suddenly they get knocked over by a weaker dancer…sometimes that fall is fatal towards the final voting by the NCAA judges. Some dancers who were highly rated prior the dance beginning are found to be only average and certainly not worthy of any dances beyond the original 12 dances.  By the 9th or 10th dance….most dancers have at least 2 or 3 slips…..a fall is disastrous (losing big)…the judges really lean to the dancers with the experienced, well-known  partners or dancers who have made the “final” room frequently…. at the end of the 12th dance…56 dancers are invited into the “bowl” room….this is the expected goal of each of the dancers…any dancing partner not achieving this appointment to the “bowl” room is usually removed on the way out of the ball room…. just 4 dancers are invited into the BCS room to dance…who would the glass slipper fit?  There were just 2 dances more…always there were slips by two of the dancers in the 1st dance….sooo…the BCS final dance would determine which dancer wears the “glass slipper”.  The dancing partner was assured …if he wished…to return the following year…the maiden was thrilled that the glass slipper fit…but it was only a temporary fit…starting 8 months later….it would no longer fit…and the process will begin all over again

…the 2017 committee(judges in Cinderella) had 3 direct, easy choices- Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia…the last spot was between the Big 10 Champion-Ohio State and Alabama…a 1 loss team that didn’t make it to its conference championship….both teams are good..very good…I lean towards Ohio State….they played 4 teams in the top 12 of the rankings (at the time when they played)… beat #2 Penn State; beat #4 Wisconsin, lost to #5 OU (a NCS semifinalist); and beat #12 Michigan State..their blemish was a disastrous 55-24 loss to Iowa(7-5)…the Big Ten commissioner made the point that the Big-10 plays 9 conference games (most of any conference…hinting that upsets will occur more often..Alabama played 4 teams in the top 16 of the rankings…Beat Florida ST in opening week..who was ranked #3  in pre-season.. but finished 6-6…Bama also beat #19 LSU 24-10, #16 Miss State and lost to #6 Auburn 26-14…and the team that beat them…Auburn…was a 3 loss team….the Crimson Tide did play Mercer (FCS team) for one of their wins…Personally….I don’t think that ANY wins over FCS teams should count towards any positive consideration for a national title and should actually be counted AGAINST them for scheduling such a weak-sister…

OK….now away from the mythical world of Cinderella and NCS final 4…and go directly to the FIRING SQUAD…..ya know…the life of a SEC football coach seems to be about as long as a worm trying to crawl across a major 8 lane highway at 4:00pm on a Friday.. good luck!…take a look at the turnover…there have been Six SEC coaches..almost half the league..  fired since the July 2017… 

…The most notable was LSU firing Les Miles 4 games into the season (his 12th)… Miles had very impressive credentials –record of 114-34 (77%), five Top 10 finishes, 2 national title game appearances and 1 national title (2007) …what was the reasoning provided?…well.1)  his teams had slipped to 8-5 and 9-3 over the last 2 seasons 2) Alabama & Auburn (combined) had won 5 national titles since LSU last won their last title 3) final straw…ranked #18, trailing Auburn 18-13 with just seconds to go…LSU scored what appeared to be a game winning touchdown on the last play of the game but upon review …it was determined that the play missed getting snapped by a micro-second..negating the TD…thus LSU lost the game…result LSU goes 2-2 & Miles was shown the exit. Btw…had that played remained it would have been Auburn’s 3rd loss of the season and….there isn’t any way that the Tigers would still be in the BCS talk with 3 losses… one play taken away by a replay changed the fate of both of these teams.

…The Firing season began At Ol’ Miss….Hugh Freeze (Mississippi) was fired July 19th in a scandal….interestingly, Hugh Nutt (Freeze’s predecessor) had been accused of improper ethics and sued U of Mississippi for defamation… his lawyer then turned over the material to the NCAA .. and… it turns out that these improprieties and others… like several phone contacts to “special dating services”… took place under Freeze’s watch… bye-bye Hugh. Money doesn’t seem to matter to these SEC schools …who apparently … are rolling around in cash…Freeze had just signed a contract in 2015 that raised his salary to  $4.8m for 2017.

…Jim McElwain was fired by Florida on Oct 29…McElwain had won two of the last 3 SEC East championships. The 42-7 loss to Georgia sealed his fate days prior to his firing…they said, “his program has gone off the rails”  I guess losing several players(7) for the season …including one of top receivers in NCAA .. for inappropriate off-field actions doesn’t carry much weight.

…Butch Jones (Tennessee) fired Nov 12.  The fatalistic blows….1) no wins in SEC this year 2) severe loss to our Mizzou Tigers…his buyout should tidy him over quite well–$8.125m

…Brett Bielema (Arkansas) was notified as he walked off the field after his final game… boy.. how would you liked to have been in THAT locker room..”well…boys…you lost to Mizzou today and I lost my job….which is worse?” After taking his team to 3 straight bowls Bielema failed to do so in the last 2 years and was 4-8 this year..bye-bye

…Kevin Sumlin (Tx A&M)…had been over .500 in all 6 of his seasons…no losing seasons…a bowl appearance each year  but he was viewed as being “stuck in the middle of the SEC West pack”….he’ll heal his wounds with a $10m buyout and it appears that he’s set for another job.

…another opening just popped up at Mississippi State  as Head Coach Dan Mullen has decided to accept the more lucrative job ($30m) @ Florida. Mullen was 69-46 in a place that had been commonly accepted as the door-mat of the SEC West. He’ll now have a far larger budget to use in this recruiting, hiring of ast coaches, etc.   The replacement for him is of the same mold as Mullen (no prior head-coaching experience)-Penn State off Coordinator-Joe Moorhead. 

Sports odds & ends…

…SLU basketball is really having trouble scoring…66 ppg and a dearth of scoring from beyond the arc…also depth is a real issue as only 7 players are averaging more than 7.6 min/game…. one has to wonder what is delaying judgment on the 3 “accused” players …it seems like there has been adequate time to reach a fair judgment for all involved….  the pre-season hype led us …or maybe just me…to think that after 6 games the record…and level of play…. would be better than 3-3…but as I write this…the best record in the  A-10 is 4-2 so hang on until conference play ….things could improve.

…watched most of Mizzou-Cent Florida bball game…Tigers won…struggled… but won….some personnel observations–Sr Jordan Bartnett was the best player for Mizzou on that night… Frosh Jontay Porter…who skipped his Senior year of HS appeared to be “over his head”…very limited time, shot a hurried air ball…looks like he actually need that 4th year of HS. Frosh Ctr Jeremiah Tilmon continues to be plagued by foul issues…the opposition realizes that weakness so they work hard to feed the post man that Tilmon is guarding. It’s early in the season…so quick development should be coming…at least hopefully… over the next 4-6 weeks  for these Freshman players…or it’ll be another long season in CoMO.

….keeping up with our Blues….that “thud” you just heard was the Blues as they were flat on a 5 game home stand going 2-3… on the bright side ..at the ¼ mark of the season, Jaden Schwartz leads the league 5 on 5 average assists for 60 min @ 1.73…he also is the leader with the same parameter @3.81.  the white elephant in the room is the play of Jake Allen…sure.. he does make many terrific saves but…his Goals against is 2.77 (21st in league), his save % is .907 (25th in the league)….now…granted…many goals may be due to inefficient defense in front of the net, spectacular shots or whatever…but the fact remains…at this moment…the Blues are giving up too many goals to go deep in the playoffs….on the immediate radar for the next game  is the historic Montreal Canadians…Montreal will be in an angry mood after being embarrassed by Detroit 10-1 on Saturday night…ten goals!…coming from a team (Detroit) who holds a mediocre 10-12-5 record.

…on the boys HS basketball scene….we’re very, very early in basketball season…in snapshot view…some clubs off to a good start.. In North County…Hazelwood Central & McCluer North are each 3-0, Parkway Central3-0) who won the Parkway round-robin looks to return to the MSHSAA  State Tournament again this year. St. Mary’s 6-0-won the Alton tip-off Classic – plays large school, CBC on Friday night as the Cadets (2-2) play their 1st game in Missouri this year. Other unbeaten teams are –St Charles Pirates 4-0, Orchard Farm Eagles 3-0 and Mehlville Panthers are 3-0 after winning the South Side Classic. Vashon is 3-0 with 2 very impressive road wins over Charleston & Whitney Young. Some schools have only played a game or two in this early season play..some of the above teams are looking to go deep in STATE …others are happy that they have started out of the starting blocks quickly.

…defense wins…we hear it all the time…in NCAA D-1 team defense (written prior to this weekend’s game)…Wisconsin was #1 in team defense and the Big Ten had 4 of the top 9 schools in that category…does that mean that the Big 10 is THAT good on defense or that the offense in that league isn’t the best in college football. The #1 team in Team offense is Oklahoma…no surprise there..7122 total yards, averaged 8.56 yds/play.

…a statistical gold nugget for you…Drew Lock is #5 in the NCAA D-1 in passing yards with 3695 yards. Mizzou is 14th in the USA in passing yards (due to Lock)! The most amazing stat(s) to me is that Lamar Jackson (Louisville) is 10th in NCAA in passing with 3489 yards AND 10th in rushing with 1433 yards—5300+ yards of offense for him.WOW!  Thanks for dancing with me through Cinderella…the glass slipper doesn’t fit me… but neither does the firing squad…. so I’m OK .  Thx for reading.

It’s all Blue(s) by Bob Ryan

The Blues have now played just a bit more than a ¼ of their season….there’s a lot of good going on with the “Note” but there are some sports fans “blue” because of recent or long-time ailments…take  a look first at the Blues…

…In the revamped rules of the NHL , scoring has increased…as it was intended to be.  It’s imperative to have scoring now in the NHL….yes defense still has to be solid…particularly in playoff time…but….you have to score to win to be a true contender.  Playoffs are a different matter…less penalties makes defenders stronger.With that as the premise… the St Louis Blues are moving in the right direction.  As of Sunday night the Blues had 84 goals… at #2 in goal scoring in the NHL..but…they had the most points & most wins…. The Blues were a +21 in goals vs goals against… Tampa Bay is #1 in goals ..2 more than the Blues. Meanwhile….if you’re wondering about the best defensive teams….San Jose has given only 50 goals..but have scored just 58..their record? 12-8-2….it seems clear to me that a NHL team must score to be a contender in these days. Some of key the scorers for the Blues  have been obtained in trades…but clearly not all… Jaden Schwartz was the #1 choice in 2010.…but….in 2009, the Blues drafted @#17 in the 1st round and selected David Rundblad…Rundblad was sent to Ottawa on June 25, 2010 for the 16th overall draft pick…and that choice was Vladimir Tarasenko. So the Blues in that year, chose Schwartz @ #14 & Tarasenko @ #16…WOW what a draft!  Now…I might add as I scoured through the Blues drafts in recent years, I seldom recognized ANY NHL players from the later rounds …that is…past round 1…that’s not so good…. Recently acquired Braden Schenn was drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 draft with the #5 overall pick by the LA Kings.  He was moved to Philly and now lands ….at the height of his career (26 years old) in my mind…in the Lou. The Blues sharp drafting in recent years with their 1st choice– 2014-Robby Fabbri; 2015-Vince Dunn; 2016-Tage Thompson; 2017-two 1st rounders-Robert Thomas & Klim Kosten look very solid… now I’m not a hockey expert…some would say that I know very little…but…I’m thinking on my gut from what I’ve read (haven’t seen him play yet) is that Kostin will be a good…maybe very good… player for the Blues.  Obviously…wise draft picks are the lifeblood of any team….take a look at the names that I recognize that have been Blues contributors from pre-2009 drafts….

2008-1st round-Alex Pietrangelo; 2nd-Jake Allen                 two good to very good Blues

2007—1st-Lars Eller; 2nd-Ian Cole;  3rd-David Perron        Perron is the best of a weak crop

2006-1st Eric Johnson; 2nd-Patrick Berglund        

2005-1st-TJ Oshie; 3rd-Ben Bishop; 5th-Ryan Reaves        solid  players with lengthy careers  

2004-6th-Roman Polak                                                                

….while we’re on the ice…it’s good to see that the Blues have found a suitable location for a new practice rink…apparently the area in Maryland Heights will have many other attractions, stores and places of interest to draw spectators to the area…if I understand it correctly, the facility will be kept in use by floods…maybe a poor choice of words in Maryland Heights… of youth teams –practices and games.   

But…some people are “Blue” or wear Blue…

…in Columbia, MO…many are really “Blue” with the latest medical news on Michael Porter Jr…the excitement of the 17-18 bubble burst with the announcement that he was undergoing back surgery and out for the season.   As I mentioned last week…something just didn’t seem right with the lack of news about Porter…this injury may or may not cause Porter to skip his college career and go directly to the NBA. While we’re on it…fans are clamoring for the NBA to abolish the current rule of “1 year” in college…as we all know…it really isn’t a meaningful year….those “1 & done” players…take the lowest, simplest courses in the 1st semester and then register but barely attend any classes in the 2nd semester … to me…it’s makes a shame of the word “student”.  For years the NBA did allow HS graduates to try to go directly to the NBA…some stars “made it”…Kobe, LaBron and a few others….but many, many others tried and were way over their head, failed and then floundered around aimlessly…and very BLUE…not only in basketball but in their life…..sooo…the NBA “thought” that the year of maturity would help them…I agree but don’t use the sham of being called a “student”…it’s an insult to the real students….how about trying to draft them out of High school but…have their developmental league expand and assimilate these youngsters into the pro basketball world in the D-League.. a mild version of the MLB minor league system…..sure some will still fail…but at least they will have experienced a year..or two.. of maturity on and off the court.

…The Blue & White of St Louis U basketball are really blue after dropping a 72-70 game to D-II Detroit-Mercy. The Bills shot 6 of 24 from the 3pt range against the Titans zone, played just 7 players(depth?), and shot 12 of 20 from the free throw line…all in all…good reason to feel blue. I suspect the Bills will be seeing many more zones until they prove that they can score against it consistently.

…the Blue & Gold of Pittsburgh stunned #2 ranked Miami U with their 24-14 victory. The “U” …when at their best …are highly energized and very emotional but not on this day.  They were meticulously, methodically beaten by Pitt. The game was actually much, much closer than the final score. Pitt scored a TD in the last 2 minutes of the game on a QB bootleg.  The Panthers used a balanced attack 192 passing yards & 152 rushing yards.  On the other side of the ball, Miami had just 41 rushing yards so with only the passing dimension available-it was stymied at 171 yards.

…in the Nearly Forgotton League…Denver is suffering through the most  “Blue”….given strong pre-season ratings…the Broncoes are 3-7 and getting worse…of course…like almost always in the NFL…the problem begins and ends at QB…Trevor Siemian led Denver to 3 wins in first 4 weeks…but after the bye week, the wheels fell off and then Siemian was injured…. now Broncs have lost 6 in a row…ugh… could they lure the venerable Payton Manning away from his hundreds of commercials these days….hmmmm?….NO

…in the midst of success on the field, Mizzou Tigers football program is a bit blue about recruiting…. not on the same public scale as MPJ’s injury… but impacting the future  nonetheless…James Foster, one of the 1st Tigers 2 recruits of 2018, is “going back” on his commitment.  Foster is the 3rd of the 3 Alabama recruits who have all recanted on their commitment of last fall to Mizzou. Foster is a highly rated QB and with Drew Lock now appearing to… at the minimum…considering entering the draft THIS year (his Jr year)… a solid QB replacement is vital for the Tigers immediately. …We can’t leave Mizzou football without recognizing the tremendous turn-around. As I pointed out last week, the Tigers still haven’t beaten a +.500 team…but….7 wins is 7 wins…congrats to Barry Odom for keeping his team together…..personally, I can’t see Drew Lock coming back for his Senior year next year….why take the chance of injury?

…football fans of the Blue & Gold of Michigan U are a bit blue as rumors circulate about Jim Harbaugh….Harbaugh has been on 4 year cycles as a head coach…4 years @ U of San Diego, 4 years @ Stanford and 4 years @ 49’ers…3 years are now under his belt now @ Michigan and rumors about returning to the NFL make the Wolverine fans concerned …many thought that he’d be a lifer like Bo Schemblacher .

…an accepted…but probably grossly underappreciated commodity takes the snaps for the Blue-Clad Detroit Lions….QB Matthew Stafford who entered the league in 2009 as the 1st overall pick of the draft was the fastest QB to reach 20,000, 25,000, and 30,000 passing yards in a career…now he has passed for more yards than any QB under 30 years of age…he passed up Payton Manning and broke the record of 33,189 yards this past weekend…without post-season play and wins…recognition is scant… sooo.. Stafford remains rather anonymous.

…the NCAA football committee is anything BUT blue…the committee now will have the conference championship games to whittle their field down to 4 teams for the NCS bowl games.  The winners of these championship games should  be in the NCS  Bowl  games—1) ACC champ-Miami or Clemson; 2) the SEC champ; 3) Big Ten Champ  4) the Big 12 champ. From my own view, I don’t see any conference that deserves two teams. At this particular moment, I’d have as my Final Four…who cares who’s #1, #2, #3, #4…each of these teams is good..very good..their only benefit of a higher seed is to wear white uniforms….who cares…my  top four are Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn. It’s becoming increasingly clear that losses in the first 3 weeks of the season don’t matter as “much” as losses late in the season.

…on the High School level….

Some very familiar teams competed in the Championship again…Why is it that the same schools are “always there?” Most of these smaller schools don’t usually have many…if any… high level D-1 players…it’s  the superb coaching that leads the team diligently though the off season work, staying current in their football schemes, evaluating talent, building a football culture around the school  and making in-game adjustments. Congratulations to all  the of these outstanding teams for great seasons… even those that lost Championship games.

…the Blue & White of Ladue fell to the Webb City Cardinals 14-0. For the Cardinals it was their 14th state football championship.  Defense and terrific line-play were outstanding for both teams as the score was an ol’ fashioned-like 7-0 until the last 0:58 when the Cardinals scored their 2nd TD of the game. It’s really incredible… I must say I was a bit blue when I read that the Ladue team had left the 2nd place trophy “rest” on the turf after it was presented to them.  I’ve always thought sports was about working your hardest to win but accepting defeat graciously when you fall short.

…the Lamar Tigers had made most…if not all of their opponents “blue” in recent history… Lamar won its 7th straight Class 2 championship over Lafayette County 37-20. The game was close ..16-14…at the end of the 3rd quarter as Lamar held onto a narrow lead. AT the 7:24 mark of the 3rd, it all changed.  Trevor Medlin (5ft 6 in) galloped 48 yds for a TD…on the ensuring KO, Lamar recovered a fumble…3 plays later..another Lamar TD…party was over…Congrats to Head Coach Scott Bailey! Lamar has won 49 straight games, the Tigers graduate 17 seniors but don’t expect a huge dropoff @ Lamar next year.

…”title town” is the description that the Monroe City players used in referring to the Blue-clad Valle Catholic Warriors. Valle has won 14 state football championships. Valle has players whose fathers, uncles and other relatives won state titles…it’s seemingly in their blood.Their tradition goes all the way back to 1966 (2 years before Missouri had HS state championships). Valle not only won every game…they shut out every opponent!  But…here in 2017…the Warriors fell just short…. Monroe City fell behind 7-0 in the 1st quarter, then scored in the 2nd quarter but missed the extra point and was still behind 7-6 until the 3rd quarter when they scored again  and held onto the 12-7 win.

I hope YOU aren’t blue because of the blog….have a great week!

 

Seriously? by Bob Ryan

You know how it is…you say something that another person believes is “way out” or totally unbelievable and they respond “seriously”….

Cardinal Baseball….

….Soooo…MO flys out to talk personally with Fowler to make sure that he’s OK with not being the CF….seriously??  Who’s in charge here…who’s running the asylum? These are professional athletes…paid handsomely to perform whenever and wherever they are directed to do so by their management people…. and…what if he’d said NO?

….MO also says that we don’t need starting pitching….seriously? the Cards were 6th in the NL in ERA @ 4.01….the 5 teams ahead of them were all playoff teams….look at our rotation …. it’s Martinez, the W crew (Wainwright, Wacha, Weaver)  and Flaherty.  Flaherty started 6 games last year, ERA of 6.33, batters hit .284 against him and he had a WHIP (walks& hits per inning) of 1.55….hopefully he make the necessary improvements to be a productive pitcher…..Wacha & Wainwright both struggled through arm issues and up & down performances throughout 2017….will that change? Reyes won’t be a full time starter until 2019. I read that the Birds are looking for a seasoned, inexpensive 5th starter….my gut says that our choice may come from this foursome…. Miguel Gonzalez, Miles Mokolas, Jason Vargas  or Michael Pineda…Vargas was good in 1st half of 2017, bad in the  2nd half…he’ll come around $9m/year…. count on the same thing happening in 2018 and then..in my view… bring in Reyes for the 2nd half of the season in his rotation spot. The other 3 pitchers are far less expensive…and probably… less effective.

….firing someone who isn’t current… Seriously? so when we heard that Derek Lilliquest was not being rehired, there was all this talk about “not staying current”, “doesn’t use metrics”… seriously??…so the Cards hire former Washington Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux….what happens to Lilliquest…he gets hired by the Washington Nationals!!  I guess that they don’t use metrics there or they view it differently. I think the message of all these pro coaches … pitching or hitting…becomes stale after 4-5-6 years and a change is useful.

…we’ve been hearing about the great Cardinal  pitching  on the way up….seriously?  The only Cardinal rookie to show up on the top 40 rookie pitching numbers in the MLB in 2017…. pushing aside the hype was John Brebbia. The only fans that knew about HIM prior to this season were his family ….so when will these other starters begin to shine?

…the Cards won’t miss Lance Lynn…seriously?  In 2017 Lynn was 2nd on the team in innings, had the lowest ERA of any starter @ 3.43 (Martinez was 3.64) had the lowest batting average against him of any starter 2.23.. Martinez 2.32.. and Lynn was 2nd in WHIP of the Cards starters with a 1.23…Martinez was #1 at 1.22. 2017 was the last “cheap” year for the Cards with Martinez..it was $3.7m….next year it jumps up to $11.7m

Basketball….

….hiding game 1 injury? Seriously? come on… sooo…Michael Porter “tweaks” his hip in warm ups prior to the 1st game…plays 2 minutes in that game and doesn’t play the rest of  that game or any of  the next game…or the one after that….Seriously??  Sounds more like he hurt himself long before the game but didn’t want to dampen the spirits of the packed house  @ Mizzou Arena by announcing his injury….now he’s still sitting on the bench with the same  baffling  injury … whatever it is…it sounds much more severe than a “Hip tweak”….it seems like Mizzou has gone to the same “injury disclosing” policy as the Cards.

…SLU basketball will be better than last year..seriously? This team is already FAR better than last year..the stunning win over Va Tech…an NCAA tournament team last year As they finished 7th in the ACC…the Billikens controlled the tempo throughout the game with a continual, yet , long possession that often ended up with VT rebounders outside & their guards inside….the Bills got back on d  to take away the layups of a fast break team that had scored over 120 points in each of their 1st 2 games, fought off the late charge by the Hokies (do you cringe when you hear that name)..and…a big one…by knocking down enough late  FT. The next night SLU didn’t have the depth, legs or emotion to compete with Providence but .. nonetheless .. it was a successful 2 game tournament…beating one good team on the road.

…all W’s are the same…Seriously?  Mizzou basketball team opens their season by playing a big 12 team…Iowa State…a good team to open the basketball season but then they played Wagner?  Seriously??….look at who else is on this “Wagner” schedule…New Jersey Institute of Technology…whom they “crushed” 60-49…pardon my sarcasm….College of Staten Island, University of Massachusetts Lowell, St Francis Brooklyn, Bryant University, Central Connecticut State U…you get the idea….what are we doing playing this type of team? We have plenty of D-2 or D-3 teams in Missouri…if they want cupcakes….. keep the “blood money” games in State.

…St. Louisian Jayson Tatum has adapted to the NBA…seriously??….he’s been very, very good not just “adapted”. He recently scored 19 points to help the Boston Celtics to their 13th straight win as they toppled Brooklyn 109-102. He’s 6th in scoring for rookies with 13.3 ppg and his 47.6% from the 3 point range is the best of all rookies. Already…he’s noted as being very consistent…not too high or low mentally in the nightly world of NBA ball.

NCAA Football

…11-0 and not in top 4 …seriously? So Wisconsin beats #24 Michigan 24-10 to stay unbeaten…what else can a team do?  Some say..play tougher teams….well….the schedule is drawn up many years in advance.. can you tell me who’s going to be good in 2027? Wisconsin doesn’t have a glitzy star player, a flashy back or receiver, or a QB with a strong arm/fast legs or big head …they just have outstanding line play on both sides of the ball, don’t get beat defensively and WIN every game!! If they beat Ohio State…how can they be kept out?

.…Mizzou romps past Vanderbilt with ease as the Tigers were clearly the best team on the field..I’m not totally surprised on Aug 27  I wrote, “Mizzou football doesn’t have many strong believers….I’m thinking that this club can win 7 games”…now I must admit in the month of September I was shaking my head at what I had written.

….Mizzou football has turned the corner….seriously???  While most of us are pleased that the Tigers are finishing strong and clearly raising our hopes, Mizzou’s victories to this point are  all over sub .500 teams—look at their records–MO State 3-7, Idaho 3-6, U Conn 3-7, Florida 3-6, Tennessee, Vanderbilt & Arkansas are all 4-6 as I write this on Fri…you have to beat some good teams to be considered “good”….playing good teams & losing doesn’t make YOU good.. while we’re moving upward… we aren’t close to playing a New Years Day bowl yet.

…changing of some of the Big 5 college football conferences is coming again….seriously??  Apparently Texas is considering moving to the SEC..this would add an impact name-brand to the SEC, a school with a huge following and get Texas out of the Longhorn network…which many other schools feared and has back-fired..currently that agreement with ESPN has resulted in a net loss of $48m for Texas…the Texas move to SEC  would lead to the demolition of the Big 12…if Texas moves on…is OU far behind?… then Ok State will be walking in their footsteps..

…a 24-17 game exciting?  Seriously?  watching the Notre Dame-Navy football game was a treat…ND clearly had the better athletes who were larger, could run faster, throw better but the Naval Academy utilizing the wish bone to consume time took it down to the final play before losing 24-17. Navy, like all the military academies, play very smart football, fundamentals to the highest level and no showboating…it’s a team effort.  As an American citizen & sports fan…one has to be proud of the total performance of the Navy football team. These future military leaders have already shown their stripes and will lead us in battles far greater than on a football field!

… Mark Richt fired at Georgia after 2015 season for not meeting expectations…seriously??? He went 9-3 that year, for his 15 years at Georgia  he was 145-51, took them to 15 straight bowls,  was ranked in the top 10 final poll 8x….he’s moved to Miami U now….he went 9-4 last year and is 10-0 this year… sometimes…maybe many times…fans lose touch with how good things are going..btw.. Georgia has kept going..they are 9-1 this year… Barry Odum ..who already is 5th longest tenured SEC coach…better continue to win and win big…see next note

..NCAA final four, seriously?  How can 1 man do it while a large, talented committee works feverishly each week…anyway… the Bob Championship Four at this time are:  1) Alabama  2) Miami  3) Oklahoma 4) Wisconsin

HIGH School Football…

…….hardly any sports fan in St. Louis has heard of Lamar High School Football…seriously?  They’ve only won 6 straight Class 2 Missouri state championships…which NO ONE else has ever done… and haven’t lost a game of any kind since Oct 17, 2014…the Game of the day on Saturday was the 7-6 win for Lamar over Lutheran North in Class 2 semifinals.  In a crunching battle with athletes far above the norm for a Class 2 game. Lamar has outscored their opponents this year an incredible 589 points to just 80.  I’m hoping that Head Coach Scott Bailey will continue to upgrade his non-conference schedule next year and incorporate some additional Class 3 or Class 4 teams.

…it wasn’t the offense, seriously? Congratulations to the CBC Cadets who won the Class 6 championship on Saturday… generally this year the Cadets pulverized the opposition with their offense but on this day, it was the defense that stood up to the always tough Blue Springs Wildcats 31-14. For Blue Springs it was the 2nd consecutive loss in the State Championship game. The Cadet defense stiffened in the 1st half…after the Wildcats had moved into the red zone twice …but were stopped and on both occasions the FG attempts were missed. The key play of the game, however,  was in the 3rd quarter when CBC led 7-6, Blue springs was marching down the field… in hopes of grabbing the lead and their 6th state title…CBC’s Taylor Robinson intercepted a Chase Donahue pass to stop the drive and flip the momentum. CBC scored shortly thereafter and from then on it was Cadet time as they won the 2nd state football championship in the school’s history. Early in the 2000’s the KC area dominated the championships of the largest classification but now the StL teams have won 3 of the last 4 Class 6 championship games. Blue Springs won back-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

Odds & Ends…

…radio entertainment, seriously?  The Mike & Mike Show was an enjoyable radio show that I often listened to as I battled traffic on Hwy 270 on my way to teach each morning….Mike Golic (former NFL d-lineman) and Mike Greenfield(golden tongue from Northwestern)…had a fast moving, thought provoking show with great interaction, laughs, personal thoughts and much information  with many interviews from knowledgeable guests…it ended its 17 year run on Friday…kudo’s to both Mike’s for their wonderful entertainment over a long period of time…we’ll miss the two of them as a pair…. as they go their separate ways.

The NFL….Nearly Forgotten League…

…Jerry Jones wants the best for the league…seriously?   He was all “FOR” Roger Dumbnall until King Roger suspended Ezkiel Elliott…or tried suspending him on several occasions…then suddenly Ol’ Rog is being paid too much….$50m….seriously?  $50m for ONE year…that salary is more than 100 times more than the President of the USA($400,000)

…The NFL is diversion for many…probably most..fans…it’s an escape from reality for a couple hours ? Seriously?? The football game has become a side show at the entertainment circus… with all the protests, constant replays, the players in court, the appeals– he can’t play..he can play..he can’t play…ugh… both of the lawyers  representing the NFL & Elliott must have attended the Marcia Clark/ Christopher Darden School of Law…wonder if Elliott had to try on a glove? 

…Some think Matthew Stafford is the most overlooked QB in the NFL…seriously?   How about Drew Brees?  Brees is currently 3rd in all-time passing yards with 68, 509…he’s behind Bret Favre  71,838 and #1 is Payton manning 71, 940. Sooo…with another good, full year, Brees could take over the NFL QB with the most passing yards…why don’t we ever think of him?  If your team doesn’t get deep into NFL playoffs with regularity…many discard you as a “great” QB and New Orleans has often been closer to the bottom than the top of their division….some other interesting..obscure… QB  with high numbers in total passing yards..Vinney Testaverde is #13…he played for 7 teams with 46,233 yards; Kerry Collins is #16 (6 teams) 40,922; Jim Hart is #27.. 34,665 yards and is the only QB in top 30 who retired in the 80’s …all the other guys above him retired in the 90’s or later and when the game had changed into much more of a passing game.

…you say that the Rams former coaching staff wasn’t outdated….seriously?  Who leads the league in total offensive yards right now?… a Ram back-Todd Gurley (754 rushing, 406 receiving). Meanwhile QB  Jared Goff… who looked way over his head in his 1st year…  is  now 8th in the league in passing yards with 2385 yards and  1st in passing yards per attempt. I hope Jeff Fisher has a good fishing pole to use in all his free time because his NFL Head Coaching days are gone…forever.

Finally…seriously?

…so this blog is finally over, seriously?  Yep…you’ve hung on long enough 

 

 

Not Off-Season but GM Season by Bob Ryan

Baseball General managers DO work year round…they have to adjust rosters due to in-season injuries, in-season lack of production, international drafts & contacts, keep an eye on the minor league players development, amateur drafts, sign or resign players…so there is plenty to do for them…but….this next 10 weeks is really the GM season.  This is the time when rosters can be modified…mildly or drastically….with trades and now…more often…free agent signings….for the Cardinals this is a HUGE GM season.

…The Cards have head loudly and clearly from their strong fan base that change is expected… real change…a supreme power hitter, a closer and a reshaped bullpen, a starter, and probably a 2nd power hitter of less skill….and a general reshaping of the team…..all these seem to be the goals of Cardinal nation.

…Cards management team is under real PRESSURE….the fan base is expecting a lot of them.. this High pressure expectations is the highest of any point in my memory… sure the fan base is spoiled….totally spoiled by a run of two decades of consistent post-season appearances ala Atlanta in the 90’s…none the less the bar has been raised… and the Cards image still fights the idea that percolates around the Lou that the the DeWitts are penny-pinching in the world of free-flowing cash income with 3mil @ turnstiles, ballpark village busting at the seems, part ownership in Fox-Midwest and now a huge 3 building complex…I don’t know if that’s true…but …perception does become reality in our minds.

….but at the core of this is the GianCarlo Stanton issue…..many, many Cardinal fans are expecting him to be wearing the Birds on the Bat uni next spring….his enormous contract…it raises to $25m next year, 2019& 20 -$26m,  2021&22-$29m, 2023, 24, 25-$32m, 2026-$29m, 2027& 28-$25m…he’s 29 years old next year so at his peak payment years he’ll be 34,35 and 36 years old…Albert again you say?  Further, Stanton can opt-out after 2020 and the club could buy him out after 2028 for a measly $10m….But….right now…do YOU expect the Cardinals to get him and would you say anything short of that is not enough?  I’d love to read Your thoughts…my feeling about the fan base is that they DO EXPECT to obtain him. ..and the Cards management is hearing and feeling the PRESSURE to make a “BIG MOVE”

….In this age of power HR hitters….this insatiable appetite for more HR for the Cards seems strange to me….StL was 8th in the NL in HR…most of the playoff teams were ahead of us but not by a huge amount… the Cards were 7th in the NL in runs scored.. ultimately the goal of the offense…score runs…in any shape or form…fielding wise the Cards were 8th in the NL in fielding percentage, on the mound the Cards were 6th in team ERA at 4.01….the Dodgers …far and away…have the best team ERA at 3.38…so of the 15 NL teams, we’re in the top half but not the top third across the board in hitting, fielding & pitching….from where I sit …we need improvements in ALL areas  not just in acquiring one gigantic boom-buster.

…I DO think that the Cards will modify their sites and aim for Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna of Miami..Yelich will be 26 years old in early December…he hit 18 HR in 2017.. a modest total but committed just 1 error, stole 16 bases, hit .282 in 156 games…the most games ANY Cardinal played last year was Matt Carpenter at 145 games…so he’s durable, can run, play defense and is young ….btw…Yelich earns $7m this by 2022 he’s at $15m..a million here… a million there…what the heck..

…Ozuna is listed as 27 years of age….as many of you know…I’m always very skeptical of the given ages of Latin American players….I’d do the same….I’d take a couple years off of my age when signing time approached….anyway…be it as it may….Ozuna is a step above Yelich in most areas…he’s more of a slugger/hitter…37 HR-3rd in NL &  3rd in NL in RBI with 124, his .317 average last year was 7th in the league, , was 4th in NL in Hits-191, silver slugger in 2017…he’s more durable than ANY of our current OF….159 games played-4th in league AND to me this important area..is a better defensive OF than anyone that we currently have on our roster…he was a 2017 gold glove, has played CF previously but his year was LF who was ranked #1 in NL in range factor of LF…pls don’t ask how they calculate that ??!! :).. was 2nd in the NL as a LF with 10 assists last year. In 2018, Ozuna is 2nd year arbitration eligible…so his salary of $3.5m will double or triple.  I’d favor Ozuna over Yelich…I would offer Grichuk, &/or Fowler, and 1 or 2 pitching prospects…1 very high level, the other younger & more uncertain.

…while I’m at it…this “prospects” that the Cards treasure so dearly….in my mind, this word “prospects” has its roots in the word “prospectors”…ya know those guys digging for gold…and we know how many of them actually found gold…same in baseball…how many of these “prospects” actually turn into “gold” type players…amount the same level as the gold miners found back in the day. 

….the Cards MUST sign a closer and step up the quality of the 7th/8th inning performers. The latest trend is to go short term with these bullpen arms…you never know when their arm will go “kaput”.  Look for Birds to sign an experience closer…maybe not the highest quality but still effective to a 1 or 2 year deal. Rookie Sandy Alcantara will be our 7th or 8th inning guy when the season begins and may be our closer by the end of the year. This 22 year old will be a replica of Trevor Rosenthal…his blazing fastball & slider are 1 or 2 mph faster.

…we start the real GM season with MO & his sidekick feeling real pressure to “make the move”..it should be fun to see it all play out…What would YOUR approach be…tell me now….not after the trades.

NCAA football…

…I must start with Mizzou…I didn’t think that I’d ever say this in 2017 but it sure looks like the Tigers will be bowl bound….Vandy & Arkansas are clearly two beatable teams…the strong run game has permitted Drew Lock to get time and throw his long-range missiles that are spot-on for quick scoring TD’s….once the Tigers get ahead in the game…they seem to relax….and the run game keeps the opposition from running the ball as often (seemingly a weakness on defense) because they feel like they must score quicker and more often….now….it seems like Drew Lock is getting evaluated for his NFL possibilities…so this could be his final year.. I still think that if you make him throw on the move, knock him down a few times that he’s a different QB…but let’s enjoy the sweetness of victory…bravo to the Tigers

…another terrific weekend of games for the top-ranked teams….

Alabama showed their pedigree against a strong Mississippi State team…the Bulldogs tooks a 24-17 lead early in the 4th quarter on a FG. Bama tied it with 9:29 left on a 14 yd run & PAT. . after an exchange of possessions, Alabama missed a 41 yd FG attempt that hit the upright with just over 2:00 left in the game. Miss State went 3 and out as they tried running plays on all 3 downs. The Crimson Tide took possession with 1:09 left….then the Tide’s top level coaching staff showed its stuff….like the pros, Alabama had run multiple formations earlier in the game with pre-determined calls but the OFF coordinator noted how Miss State was defending each formation sooo….when the last minute arrived, the O-coordiator used this knowledge to attack their weaknesses against these formations…Bama ran 3 sweeps to the wide side of the field with the same formation and a fresh, seasoned running back, then 2 slant passes againt blitzing LB (when they blitz their coverage area–short Middle, is wide open and finally an audible pass play called at the LOS by QB Jalen Hurts found the mark and a touchdown….Miss State had one more possession…after a 1st down and time almost expired, the ball was thrown a loooonnngg, way into the end zone in the midst of about 10 players (5 from each team)….an Alabama defender fearful of a Hail Mary TD, tackled the receiver…yea it was pass interference but in college that’s only a 15 yard penalty…the next hail may attempt was thrown too deep…went out of the end zone….game over.

…all that being said…my Bob Rankings for the final 4 at this moment are..with plenty of provisions.

  • Alabama 2) winner the Miami-Clemson ACC championship game  will be in final four… Miami (9-0) or Clemson…who has 4 wins over teams currently ranked #10-20 (who cares what they were ranked back 6-7-8 weeks ago) 3)Oklahoma      4)  if Wisconsin stays unbeaten…it’s tough to include them since  the Badgers played a non-descript non-conference schedule and the Big 10…like the SEC…is down…the ACC is not down…but Wisconsin has Michigan, Minnesota and the Big 10 championship game coming up…so if they win those 3 games…they have to go in.  Pac 12 conference looks like it’ll be on the outside looking in…If Wisconsin loses, AND the Miami/ Clemson game is very close…maybe both of those teams. WHAT does YOUR final 4 look like?

I remember years ago…many,many years ago at a district basketball seeding meeting, Jim Gant, a very successful basketball coach at Central High School said,’ Don’t ask me who I lost to….that doesn’t take any skill to lose…ask me who I beat”. Just because you lose to a good team doesn’t make YOU good…He’s right.

High School Football

….two teams familiar with Class 6 finals will meet next weekend for the 2017 title. Blue Springs vs CBC at Springfield,  MO 7:00pm next Saturday. CBC beat a fired up Eureka team 42-7 in the semis. CBC scored late in the 1st quarter and led 14-0 at half.  After scoring on the 2nd of 3 Brett Gabbert TD passes in the 3rd qtr at the 10:48 mark, the very next play from scrimmage was a Pick-6 for the Cadets when Larry Williams snatched a pass and scampered 25 yards to turn the tide in this game between these two very  strong teams.  CBC(12-1) won it 42-7 as they potent offense has been held under 40 points twice all season. Gabbert, younger bro of Blaine Gabbert, has passed for 2712 yards while Bryan Bradford has rushed for 1382 yards to provide the blend that Coach Scott Pingel desires. Pingel will be taking his 3rd team to the Championship game in his tenure which began in 2008 @ CBC.  The Cadets lone loss was to CBC-Memphis 36-27. Eureka completes their season at 12-1 as they enjoyed the tremendous season of Sr. Hassan Haskins. Haskins rushed for 2197 yards and scored 34 TD’s as Eureka kept  their customary power run style of game in high gear throughout the season. Eureka won the Suburban West-American conference title this year. The Wildcats have an outstanding record of 77-16 since 2010.

…in Class 5, Ft Zumwalt North (12-0) reached the semifinals with an impressive 42-7 win over the Lebanon Yellowjackets. Head Coach Joe Bacon led the Panthers to the championship game last year before falling to the Vianney Golden Griffins.  Vianney lost to Pattonville on Saturday…next week’s opponent for Ft Z N. The Panthers expected a much tighter game from Lebanon but…it played out this way…after receiving the KO, FZN drove 84 yards in 11 plays . Mareon Lowery powered over on a short plunge for the TD.  Lebanon, running the triple option…a rare occurrence in this era of passing….had been led by 2000 yard rusher, John Berry. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Berry was crunched by a heavy hit from the FZN defense and suffered a separated shoulder…out for the game. It was all Panthers from that point on. 

It’s an exciting time of the year…thanks for reading an hoping to read your thoughts on the GM season!