Ruffled Feathers by Bob Ryan

In all parts of life complaining is a daily occurrence. In most cases, it’s a trivial matter…except at that moment for that person….so life goes on. However, at the next level of complaining…some people react or they clearly make their feelings known to MANY other folks…that … also…is the situation in the sports world..many really have their “feathers ruffled”…and it starts right here in the Lou..

…Phenom Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty had a very impressive rookie season but his feathers are ruffled. He posted a 3.34 ERA with 182 strikeouts and 59 walks across 151 innings, while showing only an 8-9 record for the season. Keep in mind, wins & losses are often a reflection of the bullpen. The current model is for starters to only go 5 or 6 innings these days. Then they turn it over to the bullpen to hold their lead… with the Cards bullpen last year….we know how that worked out.  Back to Flaherty, he is listed as the #2 starter of the rotation for 2019. He REALLY has shown that he is a top flight performer, …not just hype—like we often hear…in the MLB….so after this wonderful rookie season, he expected a raise above the minimum offerings for 2nd year player. The Cards offered him $ 572,100…while that’s big money in the rest of the world…its only $17,100 (just a tad above 3%) above the league required minimum for a 2nd year player…any player….no matter what their performance was in 2018. He refused to sign the contract so the Cardinals…within their rights… unilaterally renewed his contract for $562,100 following a club policy of fining any player with less than 3 years service time $10,000 for not signing the contract. They did the identical thing to Jordan Hicks….the next home-grown closer…this year also.  Now Flaherty said all the right things afterwards,“It’s nothing on the Cardinals. They play within what the system is,” Flaherty said. “Their process is great and it makes sense, but in the grand scheme of things the system itself that everybody plays under just isn’t — it’s not a great system… for everybody.” The Cardinals had never experienced this situation until Tommy Pham refused to sign the contract last spring….and was fined. Pham was always described by the press as “playing with a chip”…I guess so!  Clearly Flaherty has felt the underside of the Cardinals moneybag. While being touted across Florida and Arizona by many sports writers as the next real “star” starting pitcher in the NL….he gets nickeled-dimed by the Cards. Now…I don’t know what he was asking in his request….but lets be honest ….for a player who’s already contributed.. and who is penciled in as a #2 starter for THIS season…paying him inappropriately when you have $8m guys on the bench seems foolish to me….and ….I think… also to Flaherty….who will remember this tactic down the road…like Pham did.

 ….more and more young, star players are exposing the MLB system of extending their “6 years of service” prior to free agency.  A full year is one that a player must play on or before April 16 to have it considered a full year. Hence, if you are called up on April 17, it’s not considered a full year. That’s exactly what happened to Kris Bryant. Who still….and rightfully so…has his feathers ruffled over the situation. Back in 2015, Cubs 3B Mike Olt injured his thumb on April 14th. The Cubs delayed calling up Bryant to replace him until ….yep…you guessed it..April 17. Arismendy Alcantara played 3B, a position he never played regularly in the minors, for those 2 days for the Cubbies. Sooo….Bryant’s service time of a full year was missed by 1 day in 2015…..it still goes on all over the MLB. Toronto has 3 highly touted “prospects”…which means maybe 1 of them will become a star if Toronto gets lucky…anyway…Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Fernando Tatis, Jr., and Eloy Jiménez are three of baseball’s elite prospects. They are, by all accounts, ready for the majors, but they are expected to begin the year in the minors until their teams officially gain that extra year of control over them, delaying their foray into free agency by one year. The reason given by Toronto…to work on their fielding J  At least one of them will be a DH anyway!! This will be a thorny issue in the next MLB-Labor negotiations.

Outside of MLB…there are still many areas/teams/fans who have their feathers ruffled. In the Lou we moan about our Blues failing to hoist the Stanley Cup just once in 50 years.  But….often they’ve been in the playoffs and on some occasions …gone deep….other fans who have their feathers ruffled…

….in Toronto, the Maple Leafs, one of the original NHL teams in 1927-28 and coached by Conn Smythe at that time, have many fans with ruffled feathers. The last time that this historic franchise has won the Stanley Cup was in 1966-67…that was their 11th Stanley cup. George “Punch’ Imlach was in the 8th year of his 10 year tenure and it was his 4 Cup Title during his time as Coach. I’m not writing a book…so I can’t explain all the articles about Imlach’s mean…almost cruel …treatment of his players. The Leafs have missed TEN of the last 13 playoff seasons. Obviously…in Canada where hockey IS the premier sport, the fans are almost beyond being ruffled…they’re really down on the Leafs. In April, 2014, Brendan Shanahan, a former Blue, with some impressive playing credentials was brought in to “turn around” the Toronto fortunes. His playing credentials startled me…I remember him as being good…but not this good..

..Shanahan’s Stats…at least some of them…Only player with over 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes; Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame;Second-most goals by a left winger – 656; Second-most consecutive 20 goal seasons – 19;Three-time Stanley Cup champion – 1997, 1998, 2002; Led NHL in short-handed goals in 1994;  Led NHL in powerplay goals in 1997;Played in the NHL All-Star Game – 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007 (captain);Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1994 and 2000; Named to the NHL 2nd All-Star Team in 2002;Awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2003; Second-most goals by a left winger – 656;2nd-most consecutive 20 goal seasons – 19;Is 2nd in the unofficial record for most Gordie Howe hat tricks by a player during the regular season (17).

….A Gordie Howe “hat trick” is a goal, assist and a fight.  Interestingly enough, Gordie Howe himself only had TWO Gordie Howe “hat tricks”!! So keep your eye on the Leafs..currently there are in 3rd place in Eastern Conference as Shanahan has “reworked” roster, coaching staff, scouts, etc.

…also with ruffled feathers…albeit a bit warmer ruffled feathers….are the Phoenix Sun fans. The Suns have not tasted NBA Playoff waters since 2009-10. Further, the Suns have not won more than 25 games in any of the past four seasons. Sure, Phoenix has some good players (Devin Booker, 14th in NBA scoring @ 24.5ppg and DeAndre Ayton) but Owner Robert Sarver’s “hands on” approach seems to be deadly to the franchise.

….Some fans have their feathers ruffled over the Cardinals absence of signing a star player to a huge contract. To this point, the Cards largest contract ever signed was by Matt Holliday – 7 years, $120MM.  Signed Jan 7, 2010. You make the call….on the accusation of Cardinal frugality.

….sooo when the Cardinals fans seem ruffled over their  middle-infielders of Wong—DeJong…they don’t hit enough, strike out too much, yada-yada-yada…..sometimes, it’s helpful to look at other teams…e.g. the desperate NYM fans situation…the Mets just signed 35 year old(in April) Jed Lowry -2 years/$20m. He’s coming off of his best year since 2013 this year… hit .267, 23 HR (career high), 99 rbi (career high). The Metropolitan fans ARE still jumping for joy over this seasoned vet who’s cashing in on the best year of his career because he’s replacing the conglomerate assembly of these infamous infielders from last year on the NYM roster. The 2018 Mets gave 582 plate appearances to infielders José Reyes, Adrián González, Luis Guillorme, Phillip Evans, Ty Kelly and Jack Reinheimer. This “sensational six” collectively hit  .202 avg/.274 -OBP/.306-OPS…..sooo even an over the hill guy looks good..really good J

…my feathers were a bit ruffled when I heard a radio/TV guy …who’s primarily a hockey guy….make a statement something to the effect….OK…I didn’t write it down at the time, I was driving…..that SLU had to do a better job of putting a good product on the court …like Mizzou is doing. To me….that means….hire a better coach. He’ll recruit better, coach better in off -season, coach better “in-game”, etc. Now if “Joe Hockey” had compared them to Duke, Gonzaga (similar small Catholic school), Kansas…. he would have been on solid ground.  Looking back a the recent hires of Mizzou and SLU….I think that they are very similar over the last 20 years..

 Mizzou–Quin Snyder (Big 12) (1999–2006)-made it to NCAA 2nd round twice, NCAA 4x but many…if not most Mizzou fans, would agree that the Mighty Quinn hurt the program with the rumors of his personal life habits and disdain for Mizzou fans..and caused many of us to question the sacred “Duke Way”

From 2006-2011, Mike Anderson..NCAA 3x, 1st round, 2nd round, Elite 8 (in his 3rd of 5 years)..Anderson seemed to be a good, solid head coach but apparently his heart was elsewhere (back to Arkansas)

Frank Haith handled head coaching duties 2011-2014…NCAA 2x—we all recall Frank marching to his departure plane..  while ignoring reporters…. with NCAA recruiting rumors flying over his head

2014-17 was Kim Anderson…while I really admired the guy and his resume of winning a D-2 championship @ Cen Mo …nothing….I mean nothing EVER clicked for him @ Mizzou.

Cuonzo Martin (SEC) (2017–present)…prior to this hire, in my blog, I wrote that while I admire him for being a hard working, “good” man who develops players into men….his conference record always seems to be mediocre (at best). However, he has taken 3 teams to NCAA 1st round games.

Starting at the same spot, 1999 SLU hired Lorenzo Romar  1999-2002 ncaa 1x. Romar  brought an NBA pedigree and had the reputation of being an excellent recruiter. He jolted..and stunned… SLU when he accepted a job at his alma mater-Washington (where he stayed until 2017)…btw….he hired Michael Porter Sr and had the commitments for both Porter players….until he was fired.

From 2002-07, the Bills had Brad Soderberg as head coach. While seemingly a very hard worker, a “good” guy, he didn’t really appear to have the proper training to assume a Head Coach D-1 position at that point of his career.

Rich Majerus was the head Coach of the Bills from 2007-12…he was a master Coach. I would say of all the coaches at both these schools during the last 20 years, he was the best.  He guided the Billikens to NCAA 3rd round in his final year.

Assistant Jim Crews assumed the duties after Majerus. He also was a wonderful basketball skills coach. He took his first two teams to the 3rd round of the NCAA (so the Billikens went the 3rd round 3 straight NCAA years). Crews abhorred recruiting. Sooo….when the Majerus’ players departed so did the success.

In 2016 Travis Ford was hired. Ford was/is a recruiter. Often new coaches possess the skills that the former Coach lacked.  Ford had worked his way up the coaching chain…Campbellsville-3 years, Eastern Kentucky-5 years, U Mass-3 years, then moved to Oklahoma State for 8 years…prior to accepting the SLU job (now 3 years).  His Dad held one of the first nation wide summer camps so… recruiting was in his blood (unlike Crews). His conference records are very similar to Cuonzo Martins.

All in all….SLU has NOT been overshadowed by Mizzou in basketball for the last 20 years. Heck…I root for both of them….during the last 20 years, each school had some strong coaches, some mediocre ones and each had a bust or 2.  Soooo.. don’t tell me that …SLU must “step up” like Mizzou Mr. Hockey Guy.

…speaking of hockey, some of our loyal Blues fans seem ruffled about the recent slide…come on!…the Blues ran off a very, very long winning streak….you HAD to know that the “law of averages” would catch up to them…I do wonder about the acquisition of Michael Del Zotto on Feb 25. “We were hoping to add a depth defenseman, more based on (Carl) Gunnarsson’s injury,” Armstrong told stlouisblues.com after the deadline. “We wanted to have depth as we enter the stretch run… and this just gives us an added layer.” If he’s so valuable, why has he only played 3 games since he was acquired (Mar 6, 14th, 16th )?

…more hockey thoughts after watching the strong win over Pittsburgh last night….

….I wish Robert Thomas was moved to a center iceman…he controls the puck so well, passes so well…. why put him close to the walls and limit his room…give him space. Put him on a good line!

….As much as I’ve like Jayden Schwartz….something’s off….I love good passers…but darn…ya gotta shoot when you’re in front of the net…10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet out….SHOOT! He seems to be playing like a 3rd liner…I can’t tell for sure…but he seems to have lost that explosive skating speed…now he’s just “another guy”who has 1 goal and 1 assist since February 23rd. I’m writing this on the holiday (March 17)

…I have noticed that the Blues are much improved on using their sticks  to deflect passes, accept passes and aggravate opponents since the arrival of Berube… and not as many “showy” body checks

…btw… I do like that the referees aren’t stopping action because pucks are up against the boards… oops…can’t change these habits…up against the walls…keep letting  the players play it out. Faceoffs are boring to me…they are like a jump balls in basketball…way back in the day…after every basket, there was a jump ball.

I don’t want to ruffle any more of YOUR feathers…thx for making it down to the jump ball section J

Sign Him Now! by Bob Ryan

…….He’s a “Winner”, he’s already demonstrated his skills, he’s experienced with several years of play behind him,  has plenty of talent, adjusts to the situation, knows his way around the league, has proven that he’s worth the contract, the fans love him, players respect him…..is this Bryce Harper?…..not a chance…it’s Craig Berube.  Berube took over a Blues team that was in shambles in November. In those days, the playoffs seemed like a dream …to be experienced some year down the road. When Berube took over the reins of the St. Louis Blues, they had just been shutout by the last-place Los Angeles Kings at home….ugh! It was already mid-Nov  and in the first 19 games, the team was 7-9-3. They sat 14th in the Western Conference and were 30th out of 31 NHL teams. Apparently, Mike Yeo had lost the locker room….to me …that means that they players had lost confidence in his leadership and weren’t responding to him or his ideas any longer. This is the WORST thing that can happen to any coach. In this situation, the players do their “own” thing….which they think is better than the Coach’s ideas. I recall watching a Blues game sometime in November…I wasn’t watching many during those days…it was boring….dump & chase, it didn’t seem like we had control of the puck much, Tarasenko wasn’t getting shots, Boumester-Pietrangelo looked like they belonged in a Senior league, Patrick Maroon appeared to be a home-town bust  and Yeo was actually yelling at the players on the ice…I’d never seen a hockey coach yell AT not TO his players. In comes Berube, a 17 year veteran of NHL competition, so he’d seen/played for many different coaches. Soo… he was able to take a little from each of them. He was a “tough guy”….he was the guy throwing down the gloves and tangling with you. ….personal note…I like those feisty guys…not thugs who can’t play or skate. He already had some NHL coaching experience with the Flyers 2013-15During that time he went 75-58-28. Then he coached the AHL’s (minor league)Chicago Wolves in 16-17 before joining Blues in 2017 as a coach. Since Berube has become the Blues Head Coach, the 12 game winning streak… really unbelievable!!… overall record 26-14-2. At this moment, Sunday afternoon, the Blues hold the 5th highest level of points in the entire NHL!!  It seems as if he’s holding ALL players…young, old, rookies, veterans, aged veterans responsible for their play. GOOD!   He’s direct, honest, able to evaluate using his experience as a player & coach. He’s held some veteran Blues players off of shifts after they perform in a sub-standard way on the previous shift. Sure…with time it’ll probably change….but in the professional sports arena, you’d better win NOW or you won’t have to worry about “down the road”….SIGN BERUBE…..LGB!!…btw…maybe you saw it also, the Blues viewing # on NBCSN recently was the highest EVER on that channel for a hockey match.

….a DEEP LOOK @ CARDS in February

While the winter play on the ice has us all looking at hockey, the Cards have opened spring training. It’s SO much different than years ago…..decades ago MLB players worked winter jobs to “get by” for their families. Now, players work out for several weeks prior to reporting to Florida for training.  Most “regulars” don’t even play games in the 1st week of spring training.  I think that they could cut spring training time down …way down…report  March 1…that would give you a month to hone, sharpen the skills that the players have been developing on their own during the off season and  finalize roster formation…on the 1st day of camp, the MLB teams already know 23 of the 25 spots anyway.

MINOR LEAGUE Yo-Yo SYSTEM..

It’s a new era in MLB….starters are expected to complete 5 innings…6 is a bonus, 7 or 8 is unbelievable and 9 innings is a HOF candidate  I assume that the Cards will be using the Memphis overnight express to wing up starters for a day and then immediately wing them back to the poverty league…oops the Minor leagues. Couple points here…

….the minor league salary is pitiful.  

Level                                       1st Year 2ndYear 3rd Year

Rookie                                  $1150/mo $1200/mo $1250/mo

Short Season A                   $1150/mo $1200/mo        $1250/mo

Low A                                   $1300/mo $1350/mo $1400/mo

High A                                  $1500/mo $1550/mo $1600/mo

Double A                             $1700/mo $1800/mo    $1900/mo

Triple A                                $2150/mo $2400/mo $2700/mo

Standard incentives include:

$500 bonus after 60 days in Double A time. $1000 bonus after 60 days Triple A time.

$5000 bonus after 60 days Big League time.

All minor league players receive $20 meal money per day ($140 a week)

Split salary means that a player receives MLB salary for at least part of the minor league time.

The MLB minimum for 2019 is $555,000. The MLB season is considered to by 172 days long. Hence one day in MLB is valued @ $3226 per day!! So if a player like Kyler Murray has a choice between NFL football and MLB baseball….it’s really a no-brainer.

CHANGE ROSTER FORMATION …as I’ve done previously, I propose the hockey format for MLB. Have a 27 man roster but dress only 25 players per game. You’d be adding 2 more roster spots for each team (probably all pitchers) so the Players Union would no doubt like that aspect. If you DO bring up a player for any reason, he must remain on the MLB roster for 3 days before being sent back to the bush leagues.  This 1 day up and back is really unfair to the players on that yo-yo.

Looking deeper at the work of the past, the health of the present, what might be in the future may raise an eyebrow or 2 for the loyal…sometimes almost blindly loyal.. fans .

STARTING ROTATION..

using baseball reference as the source….one finds some rather stunning stats for our starters in 2018…..

……the pitcher with the most starts…1 & 2 are easy…Mikolas & Flaherty…#3 John Gant!

…..Mikolas finished with 200 innings…right on the nose…I think that Shildt knew that so he made sure that Mick hit his bonus…at any rate..2nd most innings on the staff was  Flaherty all the way down at 151 innings.

LOOKING AHEAD…..

….if a starter averages 5 innings in a 32 start year….that’s 160 innings per starter and 800 innings expected from the starting rotation….now many of our starters started & relieved so it’s difficult to determine the length of each start….but one can say that only one averaged 6 innings per start — Mikolas (6.25)…..ergo……the bullpen has 4 innings for work just about every night. We’ll hone in on the pen another time but…for today…it’s a deep look at the rotation.

Baseball Reference also provides….from their perspective…a 2019 projection. No ONE knows for sure the future but these are professional baseball people, the Cards starting rotation…as of the beginning of camp…. The 2019 projection numbers that looked like this…

Adam Wainwright, 37 years old, w-L–6-5, era-4.70,  92 inn, 98 hits, 11 BB, 79 K’s, 399 batters

Miles Mikolas, 30 years old, w-L– 13-5,2 sv, era-3.26, 160 IP, 149 hits, 657 BF (batters faced)

Jack Flaherty, 23 years old, w-L–7-8, 2 sv, era–3.68, 137 IP, 108 hits 569—BF

Michael Wacha, 27 years old, w-L 8-5, 1 sv, era-3.97, 118 IP, 112 hits, 502 BF

Carlos Martinez, 27 years old, w-L-8-7, 3 sv, era-3.48, 132 IP, 114 hits, 560 BF

Now…already….Martinez….in the 1st week….has arm issues…maybe that’s why Baseball Reference only had him for 132 innings for 2019. Even MO made one of his subtle…yet stinging…statements about…” working in the off season with your arm”.

…A FACT…with the starting rotation listed above…the projection is for just 639 innings. Sooooo…. who’s up next… John Gant…largely ignored as a “regular” starter…had these projections for 2019

John Gant, 26 years old, w-L 6-6, 1 sv, era-3.86 105 IP, 91 hits, 450 BF-only 52 less than Wacha

Or …if we keep going down the list—

Austin Gomber, 25 years old, w-L 5-3, 1 sv, era-4.14, 76 IP, 74 hit, 329 BF

Mike Mayers, 27 years old, w-L 3-2, 1 sv, era 4.67, 51 IP, 53 Hits, 224 BF

Dakota Hudson, 24 years old, w-L 3-2, 1 sv, era 3.69, 39 IP, 30 hits, 165 BF

Alex Reyes, 24 years old, w-L 3-2, 1 sv, era 3.52, 46 IP, 40 hits, 193 BF

Using this mix of starters piles up another 206 inn…would that all be as starters or bullpen guys?

Personally, Wainwright & Wacha EACH have recent  histories of arm problems that severely limit their work load.  We’re NOT going to push Reyes who seems to be teetering on the brink of “if I miss another year…I’m done” cliff. Hudson was bullpen guy last year.  I realize that MO’s tendency is to take care of his pitching concerns with home-grown guys. It’s cheaper…. much cheaper….that way. However, the 3 years abstinence of post-season ball does NOT permit the Cards to waffle around long AND still expect to keep the loyal fans walking through the turnstiles. Don’t be surprised if the Cards elevate from their farm someone with “a great arm” and “great stuff” who we’ve never seen… or heard of… previously. We’ve been down that road many times in the past 5 years. Since Wacha (who had 1 really good year) & we’ll give Martinez credit for 2 good years (14-7, 16-9)… who’s been an outstanding starting pitcher from our farm system?  Lots of hype.. so-so production. Ironically….the guys who don’t have the power arms (Mikolas & Lance Lynn) won many games for the Cardinals than most of these so-called “power arms”. Mikolas’ variety of breaking balls…can’t call them curve balls any longer …. may…. may… become a model for other pitchers to emulate.

…OFF THE MOUND….to the OUTFIELD

I haven’t even discussed the corner OF problems…it’s stronger than issues to me!!  First glance @ Ozuna , he again appears to be a sore-armed OF … this being his free agent year… he may be positioning himself for a DH role in the AL. Bernie Miklasz inferred in a recent show that he wasn’t sure that Ozuna actually wanted to be here in the Lou!!  My take on Fowler is that he’ll start strong….then …sometime in June/July he’ll begin to really struggle at the plate. At that point, the Cards will have to look in the mirror and admit….it isn’t going to work out. I’m looking for Tyler O’Neill to have a break out year…hopefully this new batting approach will assist him in making contact….he’s so darn strong that ANY contact should lead to higher average and still have plenty of power.  Adolis Garcia may be in the mix in the OF by mid-summer…just hope that he doesn’t round 3B at full speed too often….ooohhh….that was low.

…NOW…brief INFIELD “take”

Infield bench concerns….where does Gyorko fit in?  Carpenter & Goldschmidt play almost every day…hopefully, we won’t try him in platoon @ 2B again.  We need Wong’s defense…it he hits .250 that should be enough with the bats around him. Gyorko @ SS….only if DeJong falls flat on his face (hopefully, he doesn’t)…..I have a lot of “hopefully” statements floating around here

Around Baseball…

….Aledmys Diaz….cast off by the Cards..has landed a spot on the Houston Astros roster as a utility player. He replaces free Agent Marwin Gonzalez who became a free agent. The multi-positional Gonzalez entered the free agent market looking for a 4 year deal close to $40m. He signed this weekend with Minnesota for 2 years @ $21m. The MLB free agents are decrying the drop in pay in the last 2 off-seasons.  Let’s be honest….it’s hard for all of us who actually worked for a living… w/o being an entertainer (baseball player)… to have pity on a player receiving $21m. The other side of the coin…the owners are reaping in larger incomes than ever before in baseball history. As long as the golden goose (TV) keeps cranking out the mega-bucks, MLB owners will be wheelbarrowing their money to the bank.

…I’m tired of the Bryce Harper rumors initiated & perpetuated by Scott Boras. Harper isn’t Babe Ruth …or even Barry Bonds…I realize Harper is only 26 but 10 years is a LOOONNNGGGG time. Speaking of Long….thanks for running through hockey & baseball today….Have a Great Week!

Oasis in Sports Desert by Bob Ryan

There is an oasis….in fact several of them as it seems like we’re driving through the desert  land of sports….hockey is still a long way from the playoffs; NCAA basketball hasn’t even begun talking about conference tournaments …much less the really big Dance; NFL goes in hibernation until the draft; MLB …the players are “loosening up”…not even the exhibition games start for couple weeks…but there STILL is sports taking place…on an oasis, so to speak…although we feel like we’re on a camel bouncing our way to no-where desert land….

….is it just a Cardinal thing….or is it done all across the MLB…former MLB players returning to their former team to assist/tutor/motivate the current players?  Or…Is this a PR move as the  Cards are selling us the “tradition” of the team concept….or… is it real teaching, motivating suggesting, etc that actually improves the players? The game has changed in so many ways – launch angle, one handed OF catches, shifts with infielders in the OF, the abolition of bunting, etc….since many of these players wore a uniform. Further, I don’t believe there are any HOF’ers there…who would seem to carry more weight in their suggestions than just “another guy” who wore the Bird on the Bat uniforms.  Is this just a promotional oasis for us fans while the players work with their real coaches to get through the desert doldrums of spring training.

….Mizzou football is working to get into the NCAA football oasis again in 2019. The schedule for the Tigers should make the ride through the desert of the season much easier. The national pre-season rank of each team is behind the name of the team…here’ the 19 schedule: home games—-Wyoming (92); West Virginia (38); SEMO (N/A—WHY are we playing these guys? Show some confidence…we’re good enough to win games without these type of cupcakes; South Carolina (18); Troy (69); Ole Miss (39); Vanderbilt (53); Kentucky (37); Georgia (2); Florida (6); Tennessee (21); Arkansas (48). Getting Ole Miss for Alabama is a good trade on the schedule. Five home games in a row after the opening cupcake….looks like a 6-0 mark for Mizzou on Oct 1!! Kelly Bryant… new transfer QB from Clemson…is a totally different type of QB. He will be able to run much more than Drew Lock. But….will he lead them to victories?  It’ll be fun to see how the OC utilizes his skills.

….Kyler Murray…as we thought….decided to enter the NFL draft. This means that he’ll return the money already paid to him by the A’s.  Staying with the MLB, Murray could have been wandering around in the desert of the minor leagues for 2-3 years while riding endless bus drives  and be totally off of the baseball landscape while  making money at  sub-minimum pay level. Instead, he’ll be drafted in the 1st round….make millions of guaranteed money BEFORE playing a down in the NFL. He’ll more than likely be the “face” of the franchise …which opens up even more streams of revenue through commercials, appearances, etc. Can’t really blame him for getting out of the desert and into the oasis.

….in order for ANY D-1 basketball team to have a “good” season and be in their oasis…they must win many of  the close game (5 or less points) that they play or  they’ll end up wandering around in the desert of non-NCAA post season bball. Currently the 16-9  St. Louis Billikens have a 5-6 record in these close games. Wipe out the 5 or 6 cupcake games…..and bingo….you’re a .500 team …just like you’re close games indicate. On one hand…the shrived up roster sometimes makes it tough for coach Ford to get the matchups that he wants…or.. on the other hand…..the shortened roster provides much more playing time for the players…. hence, probably more confidence and not looking over their shoulder for a sub on every whistle.

…the Blues are REALLY in an extended stay on the oasis!  Their demolition of the NJ Devils was the most one-sided victory that I’ve seen the Blues execute in many, many seasons.  Beating Arizona in their next road game was tougher….didn’t seem like that they had the “jump”…but they did win it 4-0. Robert Thomas’ speed and playmaking skills are forcing the consideration of him being moved off the 4th line.  Although….as Jackie Gleason would say, “How Sweet it Is” to have real offensive production from ALL 4 lines.

….some….maybe many…Card fans are still feeling like they’re in the desert with the formation of the 2019 roster…both corner OF have question marks …for injury and production .. big question marks….then what is Jeff Gyorko’s role?  With Carp @ 3B and talk of Wong getting extended time @ 2B…where does Gyorko fit into the scheme of things? And…will the Cards finally eat the contracts of the non-performing pitchers?… the RP trio of Brett Cecil, Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone have presented plenty of anxiety and the questions in the 2017,1018 years . The starting pitchers tandem of short outings,—Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha seems just to “go along” as if they were both still in their prime….and…is this actually the YEAR of Alex Reyes appearances in the starting rotation?

….which local HS basketball player is really in the sports oasis?  How about EJ Liddell…he’s the highest rated SR in StL area by college basketball outlets. He’s listed @ #45 on the list of top recruits and signed with Ohio State in November.

….leaving the deep desert land of pro football, the Lou will have a pro football team…an XFL team. Already….on the financial side of things, the XFL has reached an agreement with StL Convention & Visitors commission. The XFL will pay $100,000 rent per game. In addition, StL will receive all the concession cash. This is a FAR cry from the holdup that the Rams did to St Louis.  The Rams paid $25,000/game and also reaped the lions share of the concession AND advertising dollars after the City had a bill for $300m to build the Dome. They got away with that robbery without even wearing masks! Let’s hope that this XFL league isn’t too gimmicky, too many different rules….let’s hope that it’ll provide a venue for football fans to enjoy the game.

….talking about the XFL football team brings to mind some of the other professional sports teams of the Lou that have come to the oasis but now float around in the desert….from 1963-67 was the St Louis Braves hockey team (minor league team of Blackhawks); St Louis Stars (pro soccer team)…this team had many college stars to draw from SLU in 1968…which at that time of NCAA College Soccer was like the Alabama of College Football today. Highlight—in 1977, drew 32000+ fans  in a game v Pele playing for NY cosmos)..moved when the team could not get a suitable lease for 1978; Spirits of St Louis – a Pro Basketball team(1974-76)..this team had plenty of talent—Guards Ron Boone & Freddie Lewis were outstanding in the ABA; Moses Malone, Maurice Lucas  ML Carr all excelled in the NBA.. but this team also had trouble-some players who often monopolized the headlines—Marvin “Bad News” Barnes..aka Missin Marvin!… Fly Williams, Gus Gerard & Harry Rogers. It’s most remembered by most fans in the Lou however for bringing us Bob Costas. Costas began his career as the Spirits announcer while working for KMOX. 1977-79 saw the St Louis Hummers reach the World Series in Professional women’s fast pitch softball. From 1979-1988 we had the St Louis Steamers. An indoor soccer team that was loaded with StL players (Daryl Doran, Don Ebert and many others that maybe you recall). GK Slobo was a key leader and his name alone was highly recognizable. The next indoor soccer team, the St Louis Ambush went from 1992-2000. A pro roller hockey team, St Louis Vipers existed 1993-97 and again in 1999. The Arena Football team, the St Louis Stampede, was launched by Jim Otis in 1995 and shut down in 96. Several other Arena football teams popped up & disappeared in the next several years. The Pro Tennis Team, St Louis Aces, had a long 18 year run…1994-2011. Another pro basketball team, the St Louis Swarm actually had success on the court in the existence 1999-2001 but couldn’t get enough fans thru the turnstiles in the Family Arena. The Family arena also hosted a minor league hockey team—MO River Otters. The Otters were directed by Coach Mark Reeds during the long run between 1990-2006. The final StL team of this sort was the St Louis Athletica. It was a Women’s Professional Soccer team that played in the 2009 season. Let’s see what develops with the St Louis XFL team.

Two HS teams that you may have missed while in the oasis of sports….

…on the local side, in Girls Basketball…. A team that has flown under the radar but has very quietly worked its way up to the 7th spot the latest Large School ratings is the Ladue Rams. The Rams were thought to be a “year away” with only 2 seniors on the squad. Ladue is 15-6 for the season but their 6 losses have been to: #1 ranked large school-Edwardsville, #2-Kirkwood, #4 Pk North, #6 Pk Central and 2 losses to IWA…who always seem to be “above all the rest”. Jr Jordan Peete is the top scorer with 15.7ppg. Not far behind is Jr Mia Collins holding a 15.1 mark and Collins leads the team in rebounding. Jr Kate Minkler brings the outside threat –she’s  dropped in 73 3-balls this season. Minkler is 2nd in the StL area with her 3.32 mark for average 3’s/game.  Sr Kourtney Hay leads the team in assists and steals. Hay is 14th in the area averaging 4.48 ast/gm. Ladue will be hosting their Class 4 district.

….on the Boys side…..squeezing into the Top 20 Small Schools at the #19 spot, while riding a 5 game winning streak, are the Hancock Tigers (16-5). The Tigers are in 1st place of the South Central AA conference holding a 9-1 league mark. Sam Richardson leads the way! He is holding a season double-double—tops the team in scoring 22.4ppg(#9 in the StL area) He also carries a 10.1 reb/game average! Richardson is shooting an incredible 60.8% from the floor. Further, Richardson leads the team in steals and assists! The rebounding leader is Siah Moultrie wit 11.6 reb/gm.  Adrian Evans is tied with Richardson for the team lead in 3’s with 30. Hancock will be competing in a very tough Class 3 district hosted by Whitfield.

…always a refreshing  oasis from the PC talk of NCAA Football Coaches, Mike Gundy of Ok State made his feelings known about the ease of football players transferring. It was a snowy day in Oklahoma when Gundy made his feeling known but he wasn’t referring to the snow when he used his “snowflakes” comments. He was upset with the ease and acceptance of players transferring a day after soph Thabo Mwaniki announced his decision to do so.  Gundy “went off” on the concept! With his key  buzzwords of “snowflakes,” “liberalism,” “entitlement,” “millennial” and “Generation Z”….you had to know where he was going when he continued,“I think we live in a world where people are non-committal,” Gundy said. “We allow liberalism to say, ‘Hey, I can just do what I want and I don’t have to really be tough and fight through it.’ You see that with young people because it’s an option they’re given. We weren’t given that option when we were growing up. We were told what to do, we did it the right way, or you go figure it out on your own.

..Thanks for making it to the oasis  at the end of the line and through the desert of sports!

CSDHL back on Prepcasts 2.9.19 – 2.10.19

WE are proud to host the games from the Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville again this year. WE will have all Rink 2 games on SAT 2.9.19 and all SUN Championship Games 2.10.19.

These games are LIVE and the ARCHIVE can be found going to the same posting on the calendar and clicking on the tab ON DEMAND to scroll to find your game.

Here is our schedule:

CANLAN

Pleimann’s Pieces 1.7.19

Pleimann’s Pieces

Hello everyone,  I am pinch-hitting for Bob this week as he is on what they call, “assignment”. He told me, write anything you want.  So… hang on, I am going to be skipping all over the place with some random thoughts from this crazy sports world we live in.

There are a lot of peaks and valleys as a sports fan – 2018 for many here in the St. Louis area was a valley.  But that is what makes following sports fun.  If you are a true fan, you live and die with your teams. 

It is a fun diversion from the rigors of everyday life.  It brings you together with family members, friends and fantasy leagues.  You often you find yourself rooting at games, or cheering at bar with people you don’t even know. 

There is nothing like the feeling you get when your teams wins a game, a playoff series or a world championship. But every fan also feels that gut-wrench when lose a big game.  Some player or coach befuddles you and you’re ready to launch something into your TV, walk out of a game early or swear them off for good.  (But if you really care, you go back).  Classic example – being a Bears fan today!!  Ouch.

With that said, I can only imagine the joy that would come watching the Blues parade the Stanley Cup down Market Street.  What a party that would be!.

I was asked by my son what were the highlights of  2018 here in the Loo? Other than the obvious PGA Tournament in which Tiger Woods stole the show, champion Brooks Koepka was so good, and the St. Louis crowds were nationally praised, there was really not that much to choose from. 

Think about it….    still thinking?

As I look back on the 2018 sports scene here is St. Louis, try as I might, it was hard to find a whole lot of positive. The Cardinals and the Blues didn’t generate any extra cash to their owner’s pockets by making playing in the post-season.

Both teams lost their manager/coach to firings in the middle of the season. That don’t happen too often around here.

 We had to watch our ex-NFL team become good (and well coached), win their division and post their best record since they were The Greatest Show on Turf in 2001.

 Mizzou football teased us and left us to think what could have been. (At least two more wins?)  Mizzou basketball had a nice run to the NCAA tournament but ended as a one-and-done.

They now are in the midst of their second straight season without their perceived best player to start their season. That is tough.  Coach Martin and company are doing a pretty good job though heading into SEC play on Tuesday – all things considered.

 Or is Ol’ Mizzou just jinxed?.  Try as they might, nothing ever seems to go the Tiger’s way.  They recruit so-called star players Like Tony Van Zant and Michael Porter Jr. that get the fan base all geeked up and crazy things happen and they don’t play.

They get to a big game and falter so often. The latest example was the Liberty Bowl. It was a game on paper, they should have won.  Oklahoma State was 6-6 for crying out loud!

Mizzou played well enough. Heck, they totaled over 600 yards in total offense!  Drew lock was very good (not sure why he carried the ball on the Tigers final play of the year).  Larry Rountree III had a career day rushing for 204 yards – but he couldn’t get a precious few to give the Tigers a chance to win in their final push.  But that leads to play calling and that’s a whole other story.  There certainly was plenty to question in that department.  Bottom line, I think the Tigers 8-5 record meant this team underachieved for the season.  This team was better than that. 

Does anyone besides me find it mind boggling how close the Vegas odds makers  get when they set things such as over/under.  They picked 77 points for the Alabama-Oklahoma game – boom it comes in at 79.  Did you really think it would be over?  I thought it high (I would have lost)!

I don’t bet much money on sports through the year and here is why.  I can only be embarrassed when I tell you I picked all four games of this past wildcard weekend wrong.  All four!  How is that possible? 

Now that Christmas is over, can we skip right to spring training? This weekend’s and Monday’s fall-like temperatures and sunshine got me all ready for pitchers and catchers to report!!  And in typical St. Louis fashion, snow is possible by the weekend.

In  the Alabama – Clemson game we will see for the first time ever, the top two ranked teams play in the NCAA championship game while both are undefeated.  I hope the game lives up to its hype.

Thanks for reading.  Hope I didn’t lull you to sleep.  I think I will be back next week…. unless the find me an “assignment”

Jim Pleimann

Sorting out the NCAA Rankings by Bob Ryan

The final weeks of NCAA football generally are very exciting because the “ratings” formed over the season get jumbled as the some of the higher ranked teams finally play quality teams..and then…some lose.   So….this week….I’m  going in detail about my NCAAF rankings …I only list 4 teams…why list 25…only 4 teams are going for the championship playoff. My top 3 teams remain unchanged: 1) Alabama  2) Clemson  3) Notre Dame…..but the Ohio State win over Michigan brings a wider scope of teams into consideration…. let’s take a longer look at each one…..considering records against top 25 teams; strength of non-conference opponents; the level of the teams that BEAT these top teams; overtime wins vs regulation wins

….Georgia….11-1..played 3 top 25 teams (as of last rankings) lost to  #7 LSU 36-16; beat #14 Kentucky 34-17; Beat #11 Florida 36-17….played an abysmal non-conference schedule-Austin Peay, Mid Tennessee, UMass and finally a power 5 team-Georgia Tech (7-5 who had “big’ wins over Alcorn State, Bowling Green, Louisville)….pardon the sarcasm.

….Ohio State….11-1..played just 2 top 25 teams; crushed #4 Michigan 62-39 and beat #12 Penn State 27-26. Their loss was a 49-20 blow out by Purdue (6-6—including a loss to E.Michigan!!) and then barely beat Maryland (5-7) in OT 52-51…I think of college OT wins in this way…you DO get some credit for the win but not the same amount of value as a win in regulation. Ohio State’s non-conference opponents- included two Power 5 opponents–Oregon St(2-10), & TCU(6-6), who were weak …very weak … teams. The 3rd non-conference team was Tulane (6-6) of Aamerican Athletic Conference

…Oklahoma…11-1…played 3 Top 25 opponents…beat #13 W.Viginia 59-56, only loss was to #14 Texas 48-45;beat #25 Iowa State 37-27. OU DID have to go OT to beat Army 28-21…so that win isn’t as clean…but…it was a nonconference opponent who does play a non-power 5 schedule  (for the most part) however the Black Knights are 9-2 for the season. The other non-conference opponent was a non-Power 5 team–Florida Atlantic(5-7).

Now two teams that present interesting dilemmas.

…UCF (Central Florida)…11-0—plays in the American Conference…has seemingly come out of nowhere in the last few years….the best win was over #24 Pitt 45-14. This club doesn’t have a chance at being in the top 4 rankings….and how will they do it?  The Highly ranked teams won’t play them now…schedules drawn up so far in advance….and won’t schedule them for the future because they still are viewed as “small school” going “big”. UCF has won 24 straight games but are seen ..just now..breaking into the bottom of the top 10. The injury to their starting QB on Saturday makes them even a bigger risk for a New Years Day Bowl committee.  I don’t pretend that they are a top 4 NCAA championship but I present their case as an example of how difficult it is for any team outside the SEC or Big 10 to gain national recognition despite going unbeaten for 2 straight years. I’d compare them to the Boise State rise a few years ago from the unknown to an accepted team equivalent to power 5 schools.

….Michigan (10-2)…was the only one of these teams to play a top 5 team in non-conference (Notre Dame)…which they lost by 1 TD…Wolverines beat #12 Penn State 42-7, #19 Northwestern by a score of 17-14…in their 4th game against a top 25 team (they are the ONLY team to play FOUR top 25 teams to this point)…they we shellacked by Ohio State 62-39. Sooo.. with two losses …each against top 10 teams…they are completely out of the running… and you WONDER why these elite teams schedule cupcakes instead of top level opponents. Shouldn’t the real strength of schedule work IN their favor …instead of against them?

….now with all that analysis and information…my top 4 teams …at least for this week are:

  • Alabama 2) Clemson   3) Notre Dame  4) Oklahoma

….falling even deeper in the NHL rankings….the Blues picture still seems muddled….hiring a coach with no NHL Head Coach experience, tons of NHL playing experience, a feisty fighting type player who will be much more direct and outspoken as..apparently… the PC treatment didn’t fare too well  for the laissez-faire Blues. I’m not a hockey expert but it’s clear that the Blues are giving up WAY too many goals  which probably means our defense isn’t good enough…is it their aggressiveness?  Losing a step skating wise? Communication? Checking?  Passing? All of these and more?   I can’t say …but I can say… that this team is in last place as December rolls around. The hopes were very high in the summer because of the acquisitions of O’Reilly (he’s been terrific), Maroon, and others.  But…this club just doesn’t seem to have enough skills to win several games….maybe even two games consecutively. I’ve heard it said that if Tarasenko doesn’t score BIG…the Blues aren’t going anyplace… thus far in 2018 …that statement is true.  The loyal Blues fans are booing on a regular basis now…attendance dipped to 16,100ish last night..Mr. Tom Stillman, who has invested the maximum permitted according to the NHL contract, must start to get some dividends on his huge investment. If we’ve changed two coaches in two years and our record has sunk to unacceptable levels, I’d start to wonder if the GM is pulling all the right strings for the personnel on the roster.

….MU Football probably should get ranked nationally in the top 25 as they notched their 8th win last Saturday as they manhandled an overmatched Arkansas team 38-0. MU has really been playing good football the last 3 weeks. Those 8 wins will probably put them in a bowl sometime between Christmas & New Years…the New Years Day bowls are the best (outside the playoffs) and the closer that one plays to New Years… generally, the better quality (and pay out) the Bowls. The Tigers mid-season malaise when they lost 2 games to Kentucky & S. Carolina really cost them a New Year’s Day outing.

…speaking of football…I rarely touch on the Nearly Forgotten League but…last Monday Nights 54-51 game between the Rams & the Chiefs game clearly gets a #1 ranking in entertainment.  The teams kept racing up and down the field as neither defense had any answers other than…”call for the KO return team”   The next generation of QB stars took center stage…Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes.  Both were so much fun to watch….they made all the throws and yet still ran when necessary. Each QB read the coverage, made pre-snap adjustments and made the passes over and over again. Some facts to digest about that game….It was only the 3rd time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970  that opposing teams in the same game EACH  had just one or fewer losses in Week 11 or later. Those other games were:  Packers (10-1) vs. Cowboys (10-1) in 2007, Giants (10-1) vs. 49ers (10-1) in 1990 and Colts (9-1) vs. Broncos (9-1) in 1977. It was the FIRST time in NFL history that BOTH teams scored over 50 points in a single game. The part that kept me …and most fans riveted…the lead changed hands FOUR different times just in the last quarter and only two Ram interceptions eliminated a 5th lead change! Somehow I felt like a kid playing pinball again…the lights, bells, whistles cha-chinging  in the background… as I watched these two entertaining teams. It  kept me glued to the TV. I guess I was hoping that I’d win a FREE game with the score….maybe I did!!? …will it be in the Super Bowl ?

….a tip of the hat to HEAD UMSL Coach Bob Sunvold. Coach reached his 200th victory as a collegiate HEAD Coach last weekend in the UMSL Thanksgiving Classic.  Clearly, the #1 team in the tournament after chalking up 2 wins on Friday & Saturday, Coach Sunvold has his team perking …now holding a 6-1 record after beating MO Western 74-61 and Central MO State 84-74 in the UMSL T-Day classic. The Tritons won..in what amounted to the Tournament Championship…in Saturday’s game over the Mules (Cen MO St) with some incredible FT shooting..23 of 29 (80%). SR Johnathan Matthews scored 26 points, was 10 of 11 from the line and 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Jose Grubbs came off the bench for 19 minutes of action and dropped in 15 points. Josh Carter grabbed 11 boards to top the Tritons in that area. SR Eric Dust nailed key free throws coming down the stretch and Soph Shane Wissink ran the offense, dished out 5 assists while scoring 11 points. It was a total team victory as the Tritons bench outscored Central MO bench 29-8 in the game. Both the UMSL Women/Men open up GLVC conference play on Thursday @ home against the McKendree Bearcarts @ 5:30 & 7:30.

…off season “talk” heard about Cards as they hope to move out of the #6 ranking of the NL…

apparently Manager Mike Shildt is intent on increasing “contact” level for the Cards batters this year.  The new Hitting Coach (we seem to be changing hitting coaches like we change our clothes) Jeff Albert ..who previously worked with Houston…did much work in forming and shaping the Astros recognition of “good” pitches in order to make contact. He hopes to do the same with the Cards.

…the upper levels of the Cards minor league system seems to have been drained of many..if not most..of its top MLB prospects in the last couple years. Sooo…it’s probably not ranked #1 in MLB ready prospects…with that In mind…one has to wonder if the Cards practically giving away “veteran” young players like Tommy Pham and Luke Voit at the deadline was done in haste or due to factors outside of performance. Pham and Voit both were very productive batters for their new teams. Pham hit .343, 7 HR, 22 rbi’s with a an OPS of 1.071 in 39 games with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a 1st year of arbitration this year, so he’ll be due for  raise. As a Yankee, Voit was a crowd favorite….he banged out 14 HR, hit .333 and his OPS was 1.095. Coming down the stretch, it  seems to me that the Cards may have been looking more at their age or pocketbook rather than the standings.

…Well…I don’t want my rankings to drop due to overexposure…..have a good week!

Blues & Hockey by Bob Ryan

The Blues 2018-19 season just opened up…..the 50+ year quest for the Stanley Cup will resume for our Boys in Blue…..1st ….a wider perspective of the sport of hockey….

Hockey has many unique qualities…..of course, it’s the only sport played on ice…it’s the only sport that allows substitutions “during” a play…..it’s the only sport that permits….and actually encourages …. fights during their contests…it’s the only sport that each game one team or the other will being competing against the other team with an unequal number of players….aside from pool & bowling…it’s the only sport that the competitors line up in a pyramidal shape (1-2-3)

….our Blues are one of 12 NHL teams who have NEVER hoisted up the Cup and we hold the dubious distinction of  having the longest streak of Cup-less seasons…we have been in the finals  but have NEVER won a single game in the Championship Series. Those dozen teams are:

St. Louis Blues,  Buffalo Sabres,  Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks,

Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets,

Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vegas Golden Knights

Ottawa Senators .

However Hockey isn’t alone in the Pro Sports World  that has a bountiful number of teams seeking the “holy grail” of their sport…Football…. sometimes thought of as having “more” balance than the other pro sports…..also has 12 teams who have NEVER won the Super-Bowl in their history –The Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, Titans and Vikings have not won a Super Bowl.  These 4 teams have NEVER …ever…even reached  the Super Bowl…. Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans. The Browns & Lions have been around long before the Super Bowl.

…Most of the MLB franchises who have NEVER won the World Series have less than 50 years of efforts…6 MLB franchises  have never won a world series—1)Colorado Rockies, founded in 1993, only 1 Series appearance; the 2) Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots…had their start in 1969 in Seattle. Brewers lost to Cards in 1982 Series. 3) San Diego opened up their gates in 1969..they’ve been to 2 World Series…1984—lost to Detroit 4-1 and 1998 swept by Yankees.4) Tampa Bay Rays

The newest team on this list, the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays) have made it to just 1 World Series. Founded in 1998, the Rays lost 4–1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series.   5) Texas Rangers..founded in 1961 as Washington Senators before moving to Arlington Texas in 1972, the Rangers lost the 2010 series to the Giants and the 2011 MIRACLE SERIES to the St Louis Cardinals …sometimes thought of as the David Frese Series  6)Washington Nationals–originally the Montreal Expos from 1969–2004—neither team has ever won a NL Pennant or an NL Championship Series…much less a World Series..

….back to hockey….the Blues ALWAYS have always been blessed with a  very emotional, loyal  fan base that backs them in a strong way.  This year is no exception. The acquisitions of Ryan O’Reilly and Patrick Maroon seemed spectacular and had the base buzzing. . Reacquiring David Peron and snatching Tyler Bozak received some applause. The Blues base was excited until… until…. the season actually began…the Blues have permitted 5 goals in each of the 1st two games and failed to win either of them.  Goalie Jake Allen …who was up & down last year…..needs a tight defense…yet to be seen… and forwards willing to back check and score.  Now….it’s just 2 games… would we be thinking Cup finals if we’d won games 1 & 2…..maybe some would ….come on….as shown in recent years…just get in the playoffs being healthy, playing your best hockey and have a “hot” keeper….then the real season begins….these first 82 games and 6 months are the elimination series ….eliminate the bottom half of the teams…just get into the playoffs. LGB!

….watch out for those numbers….. those lying numbers….I’m sure that you’ve heard that sometime in your life…..especially when the percentages are used to convince you of a point….every couple weeks, the STL Post-Dispatch  runs a brief note about the Rams viewers in the StL and LA market… the inference …at least to me…is that  STL is really close to LA in viewing numbers…..they use percentages….be careful…so the last note that I found said that according to Nielsen on the Thursday night game, the LA market had11.6%   of viewership while the Lou was right there with them at 9.2%…..taking a wider view…that means….that about 1.2 m people watched the Rams in LA that day while  260,000 saw the same game in StL….if you were a sponsor…where would you rather be? 

College Football…

…Mizzou really needed that win over S. Carolina…they led 23-14 at half…won just about every statistical category for the game(total yards, Pass Yds, Run yds, 1st downs, time of possession) but a horrific  3rd quarter…being outscored 17-0 …Mizzou rallied…retook the lead in the 4th quarter but just couldn’t get the big play defensively and lost late.. Their wins over Purdue (2-3), Wyoming (2-4) and UT Martin (1-4) don’t make us feel that good any longer but they ARE wins…3 of the next 4 games (Bama, Memphis, Kentucky & Florida) will be challenging. The final 1/3 of the season, Vandy, Tenn, Arkansas should be 3 W’s. I predicted 7 wins….I think that I’m still on track…

NCAA football scores of note this week…

…It was incredible!!! Iowa St (2-3) upends Oklahoma State (4-2) 48-42…3rd string QB Brock Purdy…who was only “guaranteed” one series some time during the game …completed 18 of 23 passes for 318 yards, 4 TD’s. Purdy is a true Freshman and had played just 1 series previous to this OK St game. Purdy replaced Zeb Noland…who had started the last 4 games after season-opening QAB Kyle Kempt was injured in game 1. Making it even more amazing….the Cyclones began the day last in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5ppg) and 122 of 130 in NCAA scoring!

…Texas A&M (4-2) knocked Kentucky (5-1) from the unbeaten ranks with a 20-14 Overtime win.  In the 1st possession of the OT, Kentucky FG attempt bounced off the cross bars! Texas A&M scored on a 10 yard run by Trayveon Williams…no PAT attempt was needed or  tried. The Aggies used an airtight defense throughout the entire game that permitted just 153 total yards for Kentucky. It was the 1st signature win for Jimbo Fischer @ AM

High School Game of the Week…

The MICDS Rams(6-1)  rallied and scored 11 points inside the last 3 minutes of the game against Westminster Christian Academy (3-4). WCA scored the first 2 touchdowns of the game on runsby  LJ Minner and Atlin Hall to grab a 14-0 lead at the 9:14 mark of the 2nd quarter. The Rams answered with 2 TD’s of their own before half…both coming through the air. Thomas Niedringhaus caught a 32 yard strike and Graham Bundy Jr snatched an 81 yard pass. Both TD’s were thrown by Reagan Andrew. The 2nd PAT attempt failed. WCA added to their lead with another run by Hall t 10:15 mark of 4th quarter. MICDS’ Tyler Purdy plowed over from 2 yards out and and Graham Bundy’s 2-pt run tied the game with only 2:59 left in the game.  With only 12 seconds left in the game, Graham Bundy ended the game with his 19 yard FG..MICDS 24 WCA 21.

SHAME High School Games of the Week…teams not listed..only scores from this weekend:  76-6, 65-0, 72-22,82-8, 52-6, 50-0,  52-0,  61-6 , 61-8

 

NO overtime for me either….thanks for the read…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Up in the Air by Bob Ryan

So…spring training has officially opened….every team should have high spirits at this time of the year..but there are still many balls up in the air…not only about roster configuration but the implementation of the 10-day DL rule…

…..I’ve been asking for MLB teams to consider a variety of  ways to save the bullpen….6 man rotation, bridge man, 6-ace rotation….I’ve felt that the Birds Bullpen was overused in the past couple years and ran outta gas when it counted….well….it was right under my eyes…..keeping the balls…oops pitchers…up in the air with respect to the 10 day DL ….I think the worst rule ever dreamed up….either you are hurt or you’re not….real injuries don’t disappear in 10 days…sorry …I digress….the LA Dodgers manipulated the 10 day DL throughout 2017.  With Kershaw & Rich Hill were the #1-2 that went “on time” throughout the season….after that….the Dodgers  used a plethora of guys—Maeda, Wood, Ryu, Urias, McCarthy and finalized the season with Yu….of course Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling, Brett Anderson or Scott Kazmir also made starts for the Dodgers….and they were manipulating  the DL rule…using 10 day DL often and judiciously… a starter can often miss only 1 start in the 10 days….10 guys made starts for the NL Champions, seven of them made 9+ starts..everyone was fresher as innings were spread around like candy at a child’s party.  It’s the new course….wear the league down by quantity not quality…. The Cards are perfectly set up for the “quantity” approach….we have Carlos as #1….every 5 days….Waino, Wacho, Miles M, Weaver, Flaherty, Lyons, Norris….throw in Dakota Hudson……surely one of these guys can have a “sore” arm once every 4-6 weeks..right ….put them on the 10 day DL…move the others in & out as starters…follow the Dodging routine established last year …  We’ll we wear em’ down with quantity!  Acquiring Bud Norris & Jason Motte clearly was a sign of the “wear em down with quantity approach”…Norris is a 64-84 career wise; lifetime 4.49 era…last year it was only 4.21…now he did close games last year…19…nice total……some say that Manifesto will use the “quantity” approach with the closers…..I’ve NEVER seen him do it that way….he always seem to prefer one closer…why the Cards don’t trust Tyler Lyons is beyond me….in my view…he was the best in the pen last year…50 g; 2.83 era, 54 inn, 39 hits, 68 strikeouts (1+/inn), 4-1, 3 sv,HR /9 inn-= 0.5… man… he’d be my closer  to start 2018

….some experts were wondering why…with some many balls up in the air…if the Cards really wanted Archer…that they didn’t package two of the up & coming starting “prospects” to the Rays for Archer

…always up in the air is pitching…here’s my pick of the top 5 rotations going into 2018

  • Washington Nationals—still have the really big #1—Super-Max Scherzer…then the look of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez (don’t think he’ll be quite as good in 18 as 17), AJ Cole and Tanner Roark
  • Cleveland Indians 1)Corey Kluber ; 2) Carlos Carrasco; 3) Trevor Bauer 4) Josh Tomlin  5)Danny Salazar — all are right handers… sooo…maybe….they struggle against strong hitting left handed hitters..but they haven’t in the past
  • Arizona D-backs…if they didn’t play in that matchbox stadium with light air…it’d be much easier to recognize their skills: 1) Zack Greinke  ;  2) Robbie Ray 3)Taijuan Walker  4) Patrick Corbin; 5) Zack Godley                –all hard firing …aside from Greinke, still in peak years of performance
  • Houston—won MLB championship …brought in Verlander late last year and now they’ve added Gerrit Cole…the bottom two of rotations will be replaced by July 4th: 1) Justin Verlander; 2) Dallas Keuchel; 3) Gerrit Cole; 4) Charlie Morton 5) Lance McCullers
  • New York Yankees….  With Severino emerging last year; Tanaka sharp when he isn’t injured at the top of the order….Sonny Gray can be very good & CC is good when not on the DL …Jordan Montgomery is so-so   1) Luis Severino;  2) Masahiro Tanaka; 3) sonny Gray; 4) CC Sabathia  5) Jordan Montgomery      

…still on Card baseball….his career is definitely “up in the air”…catcher Carson Kelly can’t probably won’t start 30 games this year…..would you REALLY do that to one of your TOP prospects….sure he  may be used to “finish up” blow out games but …is that what you want?…..funny..he’s still listed as a prospect…will be stay a prospect until Yadi retires? By that time…he’ll have qualified for the MLB pension.  While I’m talking about Prospects, I think that a surprise young OF Adolis Garcia may pass up Bader & O’Neill  in the long run.  Remember our #1 pick, SS Delvin Perez of a couple years ago…..his ETA to MLB is 2021….meanwhile another SS, Edmundo Sosa has an ETA of 2019…..seems to me like Perez has been pushed down the chain…ya gotta forget about reading the hype about our draft choices.

….my thoughts were clearly up in the air last week when I noticed as I read the HS basketball box scores….most exciting part of my day …..that Incarnate Word had lost a game to Parkway North 76-63….now North is a very good team…and have been for several years now….so this is no “shot” at them but IWA beat them by 20 points 60-40 just 2 weeks earlier so kudo’s to  Head Coach Brett Katz for turning his team around against one of the supreme teams in Girls Basketball in the Lou .. and the countryfor many years now…

….in the Nearly Forgotton League….the NFL’s QB are still the ultimate position in the league…so when Washington obtains  Alex Smith from KC it appears that Kirk Cousins is on his way out….  apparently in an effort to keep his status “up in the air”, the Skins might “franchise’ him….driving his cost way up…probably beyond his value…why would they do that…..most experts…that’s not me…..indicated that it’s a move of “Pettiness”…..I guess human nature prevails over business sense in this one, heh?

…nothing up in the air here……locally, the UMSL Women’s Basketball team (18-5) is riding high these days….the Tritons have won 11 straight games to ensure themselves a spot in the 8 team GLVC post-season tournament. Coach Kate Vaughn is closing in on the all-time record for most WINS by the Women Coaches.

….Coach Cuonzo Martin has the Mizzou Tigers riding high….their 18-8 record, just had 5 game winning streak snapped by 1 point loss to LSU…wins over Bama, Kentucky, Old Miss, Miss State & Tx A&M…have legitimized Mizzou as a real “player” in the SEC conference…Martin’s intense style demands defense on the perimeter & keeping the ball out of the paint.  Even without Porter, the Tigers are “back”…no doubt about it.. nothing up the air regarding those thoughts.

…as St Louis U continues  to move upward…the coaching position could be “up in the air” …now 15-12 for the season…despite the quantum leap back to acceptability…..there has been a terrific amount of turmoil around the “program”… centering around the recruits of Head Coach Travis Ford….I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ford “move on”….I mean he was in this very same conference  as the Head Coach of UMass for 3 years(2005-2008) then jumped to a bigger…better conference…the  Big 12-Ok State…..why would he stay @ SLU….the “investigation” was soooooo sllllloooowwww…was it fair?….I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly what happened…I’m not so sure that even  the participants were lucid enough to really know what happened either  ……at any rate…we’ll NEVER know if it was fair/just… anyway..  after a wonderful “turnaround” season @ SLU this year..he was 12-21 last year…he may find Depaul, Pittsburgh, Memphis or E.Carolina more inviting…all…or most…of those will be hunting for a new head coach in the upcoming months.  SLU may…may…be back on the quick change cycle that they experienced between John Bennington & Rich Grawer….it went something like this… Buddy Brehmer – 4 years; Bob Polk-5 years; Randy Albrecht-3 years; Ron Coleman-1 year; Ron Ekker- 4 years…then Rich Grawer 10 years….Spoon for 7 years; Lorenzo Romar-3 years; Brad Soderberg-5 years; Rick Majerus-5 years; Jim Crews – 4 years and now Travis Ford in his 2nd year…btw…Jim Crews was the only coach to take the Bills to the 3rd round of the NCAA twice in the history of the school.

…finally…there’s nothing up in the air about this one….I want to recognize my wife’s cousin..and good friend…Steve Wieberg. Steve who covered  sports for the USA Today in his entire career… just completed his “tour” on the NCAA College Football Championship Committee… For his excellent work Steve received the Bert McGrane Award from the Football Writers Association…this award is equivalent to the organization’s Hall of Fame.  Steve has “put up” with my calls and snarky blogs…about the procedure used by the NCAA in choosing the Final four….First, I suggested a point system…then a system by conference champions…then ….eventually…I realized it would be a committee choosing the teams like the NCAA Basketball Committee after hours of watching film, extensive discussions, and plain ol’ hard work….Congrats Steve…it’s well deserved….

 

                 

Behind Closed Doors by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alexa … find me … by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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