Moving On by Bob Ryan

As the baseball season winds down ….and prior to the excitement of post-season….veteran players reevaluate their status in the MLB……as usual….some will be “hanging it up”…and maybe some should “move on”……here’s a short list of players playing their final week of baseball….probably ending a passion that began as small boys in their home towns/cities

Already have announced their retirement…

….not seen often by St Louis fans…but nonetheless a very successful career…Victor Martinez. Martinez ends after a 16 year career. For his career…all in the AL….he’s averaged .295! He caught for 12 of the 16 years as he played for Cleveland, Boston …only short time-part of 2 years…and then Detroit. Later in his career he was a DH and a 1B. He’s played in 1971 games + whatever the does this week. He has over 2150 hits, 246 HR,  hit over .300 in 9 different seasons and has a career OPS of .815. Martinez reached the post season in 4 different years….hitting .315 in 8 different series. He was an All-Star 5x and Silver Slugger twice. Just as a side….this is a competitor for Yadi when considering inducting catchers into the HOF.  Martinez was involved in one of the WORST trades…Cleveland traded him away to Boston for the little-known trio of Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson and Bryan Price.

….Ryan Howard announced his formal retirement.  The St Louisian from Lafayette HS… where he played for Rusty Ryan…no relation to me…..did not play at all in 2018. He probably held out hopes that he’d play  again….but it wasn’t to be for Howard. Howard did play 13 MLB seasons…and a rarity in today’s world…in all 13 he was a Phillie.  For a 6 stretch…he was a league leader…a League MVP, #2 in MVP another year and #3 in MVP a 3rd year! During his best 6 year stretch, Howard pounded out 262 Home Runs (43/year) for the Phillies and was voted in the top 10 of the League MVP in 5 of those years. Some of his lifetime records are very impressive….led the NL in HR-2x  and is #67 in career MLB  HR,  Led NL in RBI’s-3X, is #73 in Career Slugging % in MLB history. I had never thought of him as a HOF’er but looking at these stats……one WOULD HAVE to take a close look at him. Let’s hope that he’ll become reconnected with the Lou as a retiree.

….some other MLB players who are “moving on” that are recognizable names—Chase Utley, Jason Werth, Shane Victorino (signing a 1 day contract with Phillies so as to end his career where he played his best ball….please take note Albert!

….a list now of some notable players who SHOULD consider “moving on”

..Dustin Pedroia….I think that he was the “heart” of the Red Sox for many years….he really doesn’t hold REAL high numbers….but he was a “winner”…he’s 35 now…played in only 3 games this year after a terrific 12 year career. His career batting average sits right at .300….don’t play any more Dustin…. retire as a career .300 hitter…not a HOF’er but a very successful career in the MLB>

….Jose Reyes….back with the Mets where he began his career in 2003. Lifetime .283 hitter, has over 2100 hits, stole over 500 bases (led the league 4x) and is 33rd ALL-TIME in stolen bases. His only post season years were 2006 and 2016 …both with the Mets…remember…he was a part of the “pond scum” boys back in 06!  Marginal HOF material…

…Aroldis Chapman..he’s seemed to have “lost it” quickly this season….he began 2018 in his customary closing manner….1-2-3 with a strikeout or 2….since he’s suffered a knee injury in mid-year, he has really struggled..Chapman has actually been knocked around in his latest performances…he’s pitched in over 50+ games for 8 straight seasons…maybe his arm and his rocket fastball has lost a bit….he’s earned $67m so one would think that he’d be OK for the rest of his life. IF he does return….I’m predicting solid work until mid-June’ish  and then more of what we are seeing this year.

….Jay Bruce was a power hitter for the Reds from 2008 to 2016. He blasted 241 home runs in that span.  In 2016 he was traded to the Mets, in 2017 moved on to Cleveland and then back to NY Mets this year.  This year, it was apparent that he’s “lost it”….he had many nagging injuries and circled the bases for a HR only 9 times. Chronologically he’s young…31 years old but his body is old.

…Adam Wainwright…he really has personified being  a true Cardinal….he’s been an outstanding performer .. often in clutch or post-season games…he’s a real “team” man….conducts himself in the highest manner on and off the field …..but….it’s time….let’s not have to hope that he can “get through” 5 innings… Can he do it every 5 days?  I don’t think so……I don’t want to see him “hanging on”….he’s had far too much class to do that in his fading days. He’s  in his 13th MLB season….he’s earned $134m…come on….he, his kids, their kids and great grandkids are set…..why be pushed “out’ due to ineffectiveness…pls step out this off-season. His contract expires this year….it’s  a perfect time. We obtained him with Ray “Burger” King & Jason Marquis for JD Drew & Eli Marrero in 2003…what a robbery!

Not Good news for the Blues

…..The San Jose Sharks pulled off a tremendous trade recently. Acquiring one of the best defensemen in the league in Erik Karlsson from the Senators without giving up much quality, Sharks really improved. This move puts the Sharks as the front runner in the West.  By adding Karlsson now in the mix, the Sharks now may send out…  on defense… their newest All-Star along with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Karlsson & Burns…together…have won 3 of the last 7  Norris Trophy Awards (Award to Best Defenseman) …and were finalists 3 other times….  Karlsson is in the final year of his contract…so what…in this world of WIN NOW….it fits right into the current approach.

Around the MLB (outside of the Lou)

Commissioner Rob Manfred has long been advocating for MLB expansion. He would like to see a 32 team league. He believes that four 4-team divisions for each league would be ideal for baseball. Gosh…just think how poor the pitching would be if we added 2 more teams…ugly thought.  Leading candidates for the expansion…at this moment..are Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville and Montreal (again?) and Vancouver in Canada and maybe even in Mexico?

Cardinals Trending Upward..

The Cards continue their march towards the playoffs as the games remaining dwindles down into single digits. Barring a real collapse, the 2nd wild card spot… and maybe even higher…appears to be within grasp. Receiving contribution from many different players in the final weeks of the season has keep the hopes alive…..Tyson Ross …twice this week chewing up innings to help preserve the tired arms of the bullpen…our new Closer…Carlos Martinez  now  4 for 4 in save opportunities…a key hit to the opposite field one day and a HR another day by Matt Adams off the bench.  Of course the regular contributions of Yadi,  Matt Carpenter …who seems to go on HR binges and then strikeout binges alternately, Harrison Bader…who’s speed and hustle not only changed results but…from my ol’ eyes.. changed the approach of some of the veterans about running the bases and Jose Martinez who doesn’t seem to see any pitch that he doesn’t “like” at the plate and yet continues to hold his average over  the prized .300 mark. The bunt game being reinvented by the Cardinal Manager.  Kolton Wong now seems to play relaxed and confident and continues to dazzle defensively…he’s no longer a puppet being yanked back and forth after a sour play or AB. Myself….I’d prefer a really good fielding “up the middle” defense…catcher, 2B, SS, CF….I do think that we’ve made strides in that regard since Shildt assumed the managerial duties.

Mizzou-Georgia Football

Mizzou football acquitted itself with a strong performance against the Georgia Bulldogs. Statistically, the Tigers appear to have been “about even” with the Bulldogs. Georgia  opened up 27-7 lead early in the 3rd quarter and from that point on, the teams traded TD’s to reach the final score of 43-29. Offensively, MU displayed a balanced offense—172 rushing yards, 221 passing yards and the ability to put points on the board. Key drops, a very poor punt attempt (resulting in a Bulldog TD), and a leaky pass defense stole the “upset” tag away from the determined Tigers. Georgia schemed its secondary to remove the long ball passing threat of the Tigers…something that I imagine will be continually seen throughout the remainder of 2018 by all future opponents. Clearly this is a bowl team…my pre-season pick of 7 wins, may be on the low side….let’s hope so.

A Standing Ovation

Oklahoma entered their game against Army as 29 point favorites. The Sooners were 12th in the country in total offense averaging 551 yards per game entering the game against the Black Knights. It was supposed to be a cupcake win at home in Norman, OK. Not one of the major networks…or evn the minor networks….carried the game…it was going to be a blow-out.  But….it was totally different on Saturday….Army ran 87 plays — 78 rushing — to Oklahoma’s 40 total plays and dominated the time of possession 44:41 to 15:19, nearly three times as much. Four of Army’s seven offensive drives were 16 plays or more. It was tied in 21-21 in regulation. OU scored on its 1st possession in OT and then stopped Army to notch a 28-21 win. It was such an outstanding performance by the Black Knights  that the OU fans gave the ARMY team a standing ovation as they left the field!!!

NO Touchdowns in an NFL Game?!?

Nope….on Sunday, the Tennessee Titan beat Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6…..5 field goals! This is shocking in modern day football….both teams like to run the ball…so the clock moved and moved and moved on…team net offense was amazing close..233 yards for the Titans and 232 for the Jaguars! The leading rusher in the game was Derrick Henry with a whopping 57 yards. I didn’t see any of the game, I went out to “work” in the yard…isn’t that what we do during NFL games now?…by the time I returned …it was OVER!!

HS Game of the Week…..Back to the Future……

The matchup in the Suburban West-American conference between the Marquette Mustangs (4-1) and Lindbergh Flyers (3-2) seemed to be like a quick trip with Marty McFly and Doc Brown back to the future. These two good teams prefer keeping the ball on the ground instead of winging it in this game of the week.  Lindbergh took a 14-7 lead early in the 4th quarter on Bobby Tessler’s 2nd TD of the game. The Mustangs tied the game on Kyle Mill’s 14 yard gallop. Mill was the leading rusher in the game with 151 rushing yards. With only 23 seconds left in the game, Collin Fisk booted a 23 yard FG for the winning margin….how ol’ school was it….Marquette rushed for 187 yards and passed for 76 yards. The Flyers pounded out 229 yards while passing for just 57 yards…..Marty & Doc were probably smiling.

TEAM of the Week-Seckman Jaguars in Softball

Seckman participates in the grueling Suburban Yellow conference.   Teams from this one conference are ranked in the Large School Softball Poll this week–#1, #3, #4, #10, #11 and now breaking into the top 10 at the #7 are the Seckman  Jaguars (9-3). Seckman won their own tournament this week with  wins overy Kelly, Pacific,  and Ft Zumwalt West in the championship game.Then a conference win over always tough, Oakville iced up the week. It isn’t as if Seckman hasn’t had good teams….they’ve won  16, 22, 16, 19 and 17 games over the last 5 years.  But….being in a conference where the top teams often land in Springfield for the State Finals…. pushes  the Jaguar accomplishments into the background at times.  The Leading Batters for the Jags are led by  Sr. Meagan McCorkell  .488. The other three .400 batters are Jr. Blakeli Holdenried .419, Sr. Haley Lukzsa .407, Soh. Alex Waggoner  .400. Pitching duties are split between Jr Lauren Montgomery and Jr. Lexi Knoll.

Well….it’s time for me to be “moving on”…..



Strikeout or Home Run by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

.030                                                        .221                        .251                              2018

.024                                                        .185                        .209                              2010

.030                                                        .164                        .194                              2000

.021                                        `              .149                        .169                              1990

.019                                                        .082                        .101                              1980

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

Some other strikeouts or home runs across the sports world…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High School Teams of the Week…

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

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

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


One Would Think by Bob Ryan

One would think…..                       

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

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

                     G       AB     Hits     HR   RBI   runs   avg    OPS   errors 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Batters in no particular order….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pitchers in no particular order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contenders or Pretenders by Bob Ryan

Contenders  or Pretenders

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

Late Moves Around the MLB for contenders and pretenders…

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

St. Marys vs Lutheran South……

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

Hannibal vs Jefferson City

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

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










Foul Ball with 2 Strikes by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….as much chance as Rocky losing to Apollo Creed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….Around the MLB…

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

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

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

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

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

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

College Football…

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

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

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

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

High School Football starts!!

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

…MOST EXCITING game of the Week!

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


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


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

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



Sports Dynasties & Cards Starters by Bob Ryan

Another Super Bowl is behind us now….what a game… 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 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” 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 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

… 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
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.
….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 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… 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… reports say that he just about “ready” for the MLB but Yadi’s extension now takes him through 2020….so… 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

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 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 least to some that the LSU back had crossed the goal line on 3rd down…officials said no….no big was inches away… 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.