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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Alexa … find me … by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trade Sparks Life in Fans by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals acquired heavy hitting, smooth fielding Marcell Ozuna last week….suddenly…it seemed as if the fans were excited …..real excited….again…it was like fresh new life about the Cardinals. Why so?  The Cardinals had six different players with 20+ HR last year, two more with 18….but…none were viewed…at least by the fans… as a “true” power hitter.  Maybe it’s the lingering effect of Mark McGwire who in his two best years in the Lou hit 70 and 65 home runs. He banged out an OPS of  1.22 and 1.12…there was a buzz in the park as he approached the plate…will it be that way now?  Ozuna  banged out 37 dingers last year with 124 RBI’s….a really strong season….it was his “breakout” year.  In the previous 3 years, he slugged 23, 10 and 23 Home runs….rather mediocre…but….it’s said that he disciplined himself more at the plate…laid off pitches out of the strike zone. Another consideration is that Ozuna upgrades our defense.  He was a gold glove player last year and is recognized as a “good” defensive player.  Ozuna has 2 years remaining on his contract. All in all….it appears to be a strong move by MO and his crew.  What about the other Cardinal Moves this winter?

….Acquiring LF Ozuna  and moving Tommy Pham to CF shoves Derrick Fowler to RF.  He’ll be able to cover the ground but his weakest part of his defensive game is his arm.  The RF setting will accentuate that weakness. Last year, runner after runner challenged Fowler on the bases….I can see it happening again…and more often since the throw from RF to 3B is the longest.

…The bullpen may…or may not…need a closer…Tyler Lyons was the 13th best pitcher in the MLB in the 2nd half last season…that surprised me and probably many of you…But…how do we limp our way to the 9th ? Cards Bullpen still requires some attention…Luke Gregerson you say… Gregerson ranked #193 for 2nd half performance last season. He’ll turn 34 in May, had his highest ERA of his career last year with a 4.57 mark.  He did strike out a man per each inning of work… that’s good. ..but what’s around him….. Matt Bowman was #177 & Brett Cecil #180 for the same 2nd half rating. Swing when OH is gone, Rosey is gone. How about bringing some…OK…I’ll settle for 1 or 2 ….of these “Starting prospects”.  Put them in the pen…bring them in every 3rd/4th day to pitch 2-4 innings.  It’d help their arm (less innings expected), help the bullpen (Manifesto can’t keep running 4 different guys out there every day). Make them…or even….him..a steady, regular performer. Eventually I think Waino & Wacha will be swapping roles with these “prospects”.

…A question about the every day lineup….well…we know from 6 years of observation of this manager..the “every day” lineup is the same about 2 days in a row and then is changed..anyway..

As listed now by many “sports sites”….Matt Carpenter is back @ 3B with Jose Martinez @ 1B. Somehow I was under the impression that Martinez had developed in the Cardinals system. Not so..take a look at his career…

February 16, 2006: Signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent.

November 3, 2012: Granted Free Agency.

November 13, 2012: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 5, 2013: Granted Free Agency.

June 20, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 4, 2014: Granted Free Agency.

January 28, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.

May 25, 2016: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals

Last year was outstanding for Martinez—14 HR, 46 RBI, .309 average in 274 AB….can he match it again is the question. Three franchises have already “given up” on Martinez ?!? I really think that he’s an AL type guy…a DH…his fielding is in the lowest echelon of the MLB…

….so what’s next….the talks continue with Tampa Bay…Colume is the primary goal as our closer but I think….nothing except inferences between the lines…the Longoria could be obtained also….Tampa Bay seems to squeak by annually on one of the lowest payrolls in the MLB. With that in mind….can’t trade Carp to them (too costly)….a package of Gyorko (become 3B),  Martinez, 2 or 3 pitching prospects and maybe Carson Kelly(He can’t caddy Yadi again for another year can he?). Kelly’s value drops the longer he sits on the bench.

…Comparisons  of Gyorko & Longoria were interesting…Gyorko will 30 years old this year; Longoria ia 32.  Most would concede that Longoria is a better fielder…due primarily to his wider range.  However.. Gyorko did surprise many with his defensive play in 2017.  Using the small sample size of last year, here’s a snap shot comparison of the two…

                        GP    AB     R    H      2B  3B  HR   rbi  BB  SB   avg   OBP  slug   OPS

Longoria       156   677   71  160   36   2     20    86   46   6   .261  .313  .424  .737

Gyorko          125   426   52  116   21   2     20    67   47   6  .272   .341  .472  .813

 Comparing salaries is amazing close also..

                           2018                2019                2020                2021              2022                2023

Longoria      $13.5m            $14.5m            $15m                $18.5m         $19.5m          $13m

Gyorko          $9m                  $13m                $13m                —-                  —–                 —

Frankly….conceding Longoria has better defense ….his numbers are NOT markedly different when one considers the difference in the number of AB….his long term financial obligations are usually not of the Cardinals ilk…granted, Gyorko wasn’t the same hitter in the 2nd half… seemed that the opponents fed him a steady stream of breaking balls to get ahead in the count and then threw him those same breaking balls outside of the strike zone that he chased…on the other hand, Longoria hasn’t been in an All-Star game since 2010….Longoria has the name but is he worth it?

…a team that has really “gone all in” is the LA Angels…..the Angels really changed their team….it used to be Michael Trout, Albert and a bunch of “no names”….not any longer…they picked up Ian Kinsler-2b and Zach Cosart, who will be the 3B….they resigned their clean-up hitter– Justin Upton & his 30 HR.. Andrelton Simmons is a terrific SS and hit .278 last year…Kole Calhoun is solid …of course Michael Trout anchors the lineup. Angels are much improved defensively now and some additional veterans who maybe thinking that this is their last real “shot” at winning…could be fun for the Angel fans.

…another team worth noting is the Philadelphia Phillies….no….I didn’t have some type of “attack” ... the Phillies who feel like that they have a good-enough young starting rotation(2nd half ratings starting pitchers after name-Aaron Nola (#15) Jerd Eickhoff (#91) Ben Lively (#101), Nick Pivetta (#113) Vince Valeasquez (#122) have now solidified their bullpen with the signings of Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. Adding Carlos Santana…middle of the lineup bat….will permit Rhys Hoskins to play daily in the OF. The daily lineup should score some runs….I look for this team to be much improved……don’t go out and bet the farm but  the NL East…other than the Nats.. is wide open…when these “weaker” teams improve….wins become much tougher for the better teams.

…but…the only team that StL baseball fans ask about …outside the Cardinals..are the Cubs… Well.. Chicago has leaned heavily towards the pitching side of things this off-season…SP Tyler Chatwood was signed…Chatwood had been a starter for the Rockies…his numbers away from Colorado were markedly higher than those in Denver…that convinced GM Theo Epstein to sign him.  Cubs headed next to the bullpen where they lost closer Wade Davis to free agency….why won’t they resign Davis?  Epstein doesn’t believe in any contracts for bullpen pitchers for more than 2 years …Davis is asking for 4 years, $60m…. thus… Epstein moved on….Brendan Morrow & Steve Cishek were brought in for the pen …Morrow best known now for his iron-man imitation in the 2017 post-season while Cishek is a veteran relief hurler ….Also purchased was starter Drew Smyly…Smyly is a long term investment…he’s out in 2018 with Tommy John so he’s not even on the back burner. Smyly will be 29 years old when he returns in 2019. His lifetime ERA (5 seasons) is 3.74…myself….I’m doubtful of Morrow’s arm “holding up” after such a strenuous and LONG 2017 post-season…I think Cishek will evolve into the better of the two bullpen acquisitions for our friends in Chicago..btw…the Cubs farm system has been wiped out with trades to assist them in their World Series championship. As a result…not too much help coming up soon that will substantially improve the Cubs.

…Blues time…

…. Some seemed surprised that the Blues are struggling….really?….Schwartz (#1 offensive player on Blues in my book ) and Pietrangelo (#1 defensive player) and Boumeester are out….hockey is different than baseball…these players are on the ice for about 1/3 of the game….Schwartz @ 19:12/game; Pietrangelo for 25:46…baseball you bat 4x in a game (generally) with the average number of plate appearances around 38 per game for a team…probably not the same…but when hockey stars are injured… they’re replaced the 16th/17th best player on the team….you bet that there will be a drop-off…this could be a very rough next 30 days…but….looking at the big picture…it’s all about being at your peak in the playoffs..the REAL NHL season.

….On the High school scene…

….basketball season is in full force…one program that has been unbelievably good for over 60 years is St. Francis Borgia. The Knights success began in 1950 when Coach Ray DeGreef took over the reins of the basketball program. He retired in 1982 with 700+ wins.  5 years later, Dave Neier became the Head Coach. Neier has won 5 State Titles, been in the Final Four 10x and won 21 district championships.  Neier, still leading the Knights, is just 4 wins away from reaching the 700 win plateau himself….so….since 1950…except for 5 years when Neier was assistant coach…. ….three has been only 2  Head Coaches over 67 years (save 5  years when Neier was an Asst Coach) and each coach will have chalked up 700+ wins…what a tribute to them and the school. I’ve never heard of such a legacy..congrats!

….Congratulations to Gabby Blossom…named the StL High School Volleyball player of the Year.  Gabby starred at St. Joseph Academy s the Angels won the State Championship… again.  Gabby was recognized for her leadership skills as well as her v-ball skills…not surprising…her Dad is Jay Blossom, the long-time, highly successful boys basketball coach at Webster Groves HS…Everyone who’s seen Jay coach on the sidelines knows that he’s a leader and an “all in” type of guy. I’m thinking that it was probably a lot tougher for him to be in the stands watching his daughter compete for STATE instead of being on the bench as a coach!

…No champions are crowned in December but there is a great deal of excitement on the SouthSide.  The St Mary’s Dragons are 9-0 as we approach Christmas. The Dragons, ranked #1 in small schools by the Post-Dispatch were also ranked #7 by USA-Today-Midwest region.  St. Mary’s will compete in the Coaches vs Cancer Tournament (formerly called the Meramec CC Christmas Tournament) over the Holidays.

…more and more I’m seeing the very good teams compete against each other in non-conference games.  Why not?  EVERY team goes to district…it doesn’t matter if you are 25-0, 24-1, 20-5…the tougher competition that you’ve faced should prepare you for the very tough games in district and beyond.

… basketball…

….Cuonzo Martin has piled up a 9-2 record.  Some wins look good…wins over W. Virginia, Iowa St, St Johns & U Cen Florida are worth noting.   Wins over cupcakes Wagner, Emporia St, Long Beach St, Green Bay & N.Florida are just padding the win column so that your team may look better to the NCAA committee in march…..generally, the NCAA doesn’t “fall for it”…btw… why even have a chair behind Coach Martin….have you seen him sit down yet…once? Hopefully, Martin will “sit” in Columbia for a while ….after his 2 predecessors each went only 3 years apiece.

….even Duke has a slip-up now and then….after blasting a cupcake, St. Francis 124-67, the Dukies fell to Boston College 89-84 in their ACC opener. Boston College is now 9-3 for the season.

….College football…

The newly instituted “early signing” period—Dec 20 to Dec 22 begins this week.  It’s the first year of this “early signing”.  Doesn’t seem like it really matters when they sign…Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and a few others will claim most the Blue-chippers. Sometimes these highly touted players live up to the hype…it seem like D-lineman & QB are the best bets….other times…it’s the lesser heralded player who become a star…often O-Lineman, D-Backs develop later…let’s watch it closely.

Well…as the excitement continues for Cardinal fans…lets also enjoy the excitement of the Christmas Season with family & Friends….Merry Christmas!


It’s all Blue(s) by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

2004-6th-Roman Polak                                                                

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…on the High School level….

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

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

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

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

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


In The Shadows by Bob Ryan

The eclipse last Monday was a spectacular view of the sun being in the shadow of the moon…I’m not a big science guy…but it really was something special. The shadows following the complete eclipse were the most fascinating to me.  There are other shadows…some shadows in the sports world…some players have fallen out of the spotlight and into the shadows….

…The Royals are always in the shadows when it comes to free agency…take Alex Gordon as the perfect example of a home town boy who’s stayed too long…he was  signed as a 32 year old player in Jan 2016 as he entered free agency ..he signed through 2019 with a mutual option in 2020…the next 2 years are at $20mil/year…ouch….he’s currently hitting .199 with 5 HR in 429 Plate appearances…his career average is .259 and has broken the .300 barrier only once (.303 in 2011) in his career….he’s the classic example of why the Royals stay away from free agency

….not being mentioned and in the shadows in the StL media is the impact of Yadi’s hissy fit of sitting in the bullpen…since that time…July 31, he’s started all but 3 games this month of August and he’s come in the 2 of those games in the late innings….what does this tell you? Who won that skirmish?

….maybe its intentional….make sure that the focus stays on the top and away from the shadows…Nick Saban doesn’t seem to keep any of his coordinators with him for a real long time..this year the new Offensive  Coordinator is  Brian Daboll after Lane Kiffin was in the spot for 3 years…in his 2nd year as the Def Coordinator is Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt succeeded Kirby Smart who held the spot for 6 years.

….falling back into the shadows because of all the trade winds blowing around him, Justin Verlander has been very good of late…since Aug 6, the Tigers are 3-1 in the games that he’s started…his ERA is 2.48 in that same time span and other teams are hitting a mild .165 against him

….we’ve  heard  all about Jack Flaherty & Luke Weaver for a long time now but out of nowhere…or out of the shadows pop up guys like Josh Lucas & Ryan Sheriff that are promoted and demoted in 3 days?

…we all know that the Dodgers are coasting to the division championship…they’re hitting is good but in the shadows is their tremendous pitching. The Dodgers have given up the least runs in the MLB (416) the only other MLB team permitting under 500 runs is the Cleveland Indians (477).  Keep in mind that Clayton Kershaw hasn’t pitched since July 23 (slightly more than a month) and Yu Darvish has pitched but 11 innings in the Dodger uniform.

….Mizzou football doesn’t have many strong believers….back in the shadows…I’m thinking that this club can win 7 games …the 4 non-league games are a “given”…I think S. Carolina, Kentucky & Vanderbilt will be victims of the revitalized Mizzou team…7 victories would equal a bowl in mid-December and a successful rebound.

…while many traditional fans abhor the fact that 1/3 of the MLB teams make the playoffs…behind the shadows others tell us to check out the wild card races…it’s really something…adding a great deal of interest in late August and September….in the AL..NYY are the top wild card team…but the 2nd spot is really up for grabs..currently Minnesota holds the 2nd spot but just ½ game behind them are the Angels & Mariners… 1.5 games behind the Twinkies are the KC Royals.. Baltimore & Texas are just 2 games behind Minn…and shockingly to me…Tampa Bay..who gave away a win this weekend are just 3 games back…in other words…there are only 4 teams in the AL who are clearly out of the wild card race…in the NL… AZ is top wild card, Colorado is slipping but is clinging to the 2nd wild card Milwaukee is 3.5 games behind the Rockies…Miami is 4.5 games back and the Cards are 5 back for the 2nd wild card spot as I write this part on Sunday morning.

….it always takes time but eventually football defenses “catch up” to the offenses….for the past several years, the spread offense, no huddle, RPO (run pass option) plays have dominated the High  School game…for the 1st time in a long time so hiding in the shadows….there were zero QB this Friday night who passed for 300 yards …from the one game that I’ve seen, it was done by m/m coverage on all the receivers and rush the QB hard with everyone else(maybe holding  back the safety)…the best pass defense has ALWAYS been a hard rush.

….the NFL teams dread pre-season games…injuries to the stars in these games that are used strictly for about 5-10 open spots on the roster can destroy a season….let’s go radical…why not keep the vets out of most ..if not all the games…2 NFL teams join together in pre-season with all their rookies, non-roster players, and unsigned vets and play another team of the same ilk…have 2 or 3 games with these players working to make the roster against other teams with the same structure and 1 REAL pre-season game with the complete roster of veterans & new players.

….I thought that John Mozeliak had been kicked upstairs and Michael Girsch was the new GM…Girsch has really been in the shadows through all of the “moves” as the Cards shuffle the deck about 2-3x a week bringing up or sending down players, constantly putting someone on or off the DL…we still hear Mozeliak  all the time….not Girsch…what’s the story?

….coming out of the shadows in the bullpen for the Cards soon will be Sandy Alcantara. This fireballing RH has just recently (after Rosey was wiped out & Oh has slipped in his performances) to the bullpen….he throws close to over 100 mph…a Rosenthal prototype …this fits right into the current Cards mgmt. style…get players from within system so as to “control” the player (nice words for keeping his salary down) and do it without pre-publicity about it.

…..I’m all for the Blues getting their own practice facility, a rink for use by other levels, etc….but darn..does it have to be at the expense of a park…it comes down to money….building on a park is much cheaper than tearing down a mall or some other area with buildings and rebuilding the hockey complex…in the shadows…I’m sorry to hear all the venom about “tree huggers” vs “greed” ..usually in this situation, money wins out…be looking for the rink in the near future with the Blues & hockey in general….appearing to be “different”…or maybe “indifferent”…  to some people of the area….maybe many people…after the battle over the rink.

…some fun High school football games this week that may have been lost in the shadows …Parkway West moved to 2-0 with 16-14 win over Summit…the difference was  27 yd FG by Jackson Barnhart. West’s stingy defense has given up just 26 points in the first two weeks. The Longhorns won their district last year before bowing in the 1st round of STATE to Parkway West.…after being crushed last year by Jackson 49-19, the Lindbergh Flyers returned the favor this year 45-19…the Flyers scored 28 points in the 2nd the most exciting game of the night..Warrenton held a 27-14 lead after 3 quarters only to see Troy Buchanon score 14 consecutive points and grab a 28-27 lead….Warrenton’s Logan Dowd scampered 22 yards for a TD with just 0:15 left in the game…Warrenton wins 35-28

…MLB MUST be thinking than fans love the HR ball & strikeouts….well…yesterday 3-2 game saw all 5 runs on HR and 13 strikeouts  from the shadows, I’m saying….that’s boring…give me some action on the bases and defenders throwing the ball around…how do YOU feel about the HR game? Comment below in the section…there’s no right or wrong

…so the Royals have been shut out six teams this season by Cleveland…that hasn’t happened since 1992….in the shadows one is wondering is it the pitching or the hitting?  

….it’s always good to make improvements…on a personal level or the collegiate level…Mizzou is planning to modify their current stadium with a $96m project..the plan actually drops the number of seats in the stadium but has as its primary goal…for lack of a better word…luxury boxes for the big boosters, enhanced workout facilities for the team and …as they say…”other amenities” the shadows some are asking if this is the right time to initiate this type of plan…some factors to consider-donations to fund this plan have yet to reach 50% of the coast ($42m); season tickets for football have dropped from 42000 two years ago to 28000 for this year(that’s a 1/3 drop); Mizzou enrollment continues its downward spiral in 2017; Gary Pinkel—who is a polarizing figure…some really admire him for his “turning around” the football program…while others blame him for the football players protest… is the leader of this drive; …Mizzou football is generally picked for last place in the SEC East Division this year; the citizens of Missouri have just been informed that a new program will provide free education for many of the Mizzou students..coupling that with this drive …it adds up to a significant tax increase to Joe P. Public…is this the right time?

….On Friday night all MLB teams wore “special” uniforms…to me…they all looked like slow-pitch softball uniforms or bowling shirts to me…come on….sure maybe the youngsters like new uniforms every week….but then don’t crab when older folks…who usually buy the high price tickets…..fade away …as they sense tradition eroding away.

….Well, I’m going to jump back into the shadows now as the sports world keep spinning around.


Tour de’ Farce by Bob Ryan

Sure the grueling Tour de’France has concluded but how about the Tour de’ Farce around the sports world….here goes with some things that make you wonder…

….at Texas Football, new Head Coach Tom Herman is apparently trying to elevate the competitiveness  and change the culture of his team…the Longhorns success meter had dropped the last 2 years under former head coach, Charlie Strong.  Herman is a firm…should I say… “strong”… believer in competition…he pits the #1 offense vs #1 defense….the treatment of the “side” that wins is noticeable. You don’t want to be the loser….after morning practices …and the competition… winners in the O vs D game are rewarded with a buffet of appetizing options….an omlet bar, chicken, waffles, giant trey of fruit..they may have it all…the losers ate last and the menu changed…they were handed a spoon to feast on watered down eggs and half-burnt biscuits…now…I’m waiting for some law suit…justifiably …about unequal treatment…of course…if Herman wins…and wins big… may happen that a Texas judge may throw the case out for “lack of cause”

…someone doesn’t understand  geography… the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is Florida State while in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is South Carolina…their geography knowledge is a farceJ

…signing Colton Parayko was taking the sound approach…the 5 year deal locks him up during…. What should be … his premier seasons…the Blues come off a draft rated as B+ by the Bleacher Report….so its been a good summer for the Note..not a farce

…btw…according to Bleacher Report ….the NHL draft ratings look like this:

A: Colorado Avalanche, NJ Devils Phil Flyers            A-: LA Kings, Carolina Hurricanes 

B+: StL Blues, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadians, Nashville Predators,

NY Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, Ottawa Senators 

B: Az Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs

B-: Calgary Flames, Minn Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, Winnipeg Jets

C+: Dallas Stars, NY Rangers   C: Boston Bruins, Pitt Penguins

C-:  Chicago Blackhawks,  Columbus Blue Jackets,  San Jose Sharks,
D:  Washington Capitals, (first pick came in fourth round)

We’ll see in 2-4 years what the grades REALLY ARE
…if you’ll recall last summer, I proposed a 6-ace rotation…throw your ace every 5th day in a 6 man rotation…give these “needy” starters an extra day or three….the rotation would look like this:

Ace, 2,3,4,5;  Ace, 6,2,3,4;   Ace,5,6,2,3;    Ace 4,5,2,3 etc.. so all starters would get 6 games  off except the ace who would throw every 5 games…throw in a day off every so often and the starters should be able to go 7+ innings regularly….look what Wacha did with his extended rest of 11 days…and….with the manner in which our bullpen is closing out games…this should lighten their load and stop having some of the musical chairs out of the bullpen  that have become a huge farce…

…while the Cards are running on their treadmill in the standings, across the State, the KC Royals have quietly crawled up to 2nd place just 1.5 games out of 1st place

…the Dodgers are making a joke of the standings….as of today-Thursday, LA has won 11 straight games, their overall record is 68-31. In their last 30 games, they are 26-4-WOW!  Here’s a stat to chew on…, the Dodgers maul the sub .500 teams …they are 44-14..they are making a farce of the race for the best team of the NL…so….with that in mind…the Dodgers are looking to win “it all” this season….don’t be surprised if Justin Verlander finds himself wearing a Dodger uniform sometime in the next 4 weeks…as Detroit has begun its move to “sell” by moving JD Martinez to Arizona…good luck Tiger fans…you may soon need a scorecard to know who’s on the field for Detroit

…..recruiting in St Louis for HS football players has never been at this high level!  Some names that you might want to follow–  CBC’s  WR  Kamryn Babb already has a bunch…he has offers from over 30 schools..the list includes Bama, ND, Ohio St, Penn State, UCLA, USC, Oklahoma, Texas, Miami and all but 4 of the SEC programs.  Parkway North’s Michael Thompson (6-4, 273) is also very, very high on the national high-level radar (including Bama…aren’t they the standard these days?) Others to keep your eyes and ears open to are:  Lutheran North-Ronnie Perkins (6-4, 260)-has an offer from Oregon; Chaminade’s  Trevor Trout (6-3, 295) is a high class lineman; Ritenour LB Ayodele Adeoye (6-2, 220) has at least 19 big-time offers in his pocket already. While High Schools games are exciting, this action off the field will also be intriguing to follow in 2017…the brand new early signing date period of 72 hours between Dec 20 and Dec 22 will be offered for the 1st time. I guess, These big-time schools  want early Christmas gifts wrapped up and ready to go 

…You can’t fool Fr. Time….all athletes reach the point of diminishing returns due to age…one of the best hitters of the last 15 years, Miguel Cabrera is currently hitting .256. This is a guy who’s lifetime average is .318 (for 15 years). He has 2598 hits…so the golden entry to the HOF…3000 hits… is barely visible these days.

…btw….congratulations to Jim Brockman, an administrator @ CBC, he nailed his 1st hole in ONE last week….a person who lived along the course, saw Jim looking for the ball and signaled to him that he should look into the hole…what a great surprise!!   Congrats Jim!

….so we lost the last 2 games to the Mets in “creative” ways….on Wed, with a runner on 1b, the infield was “shifted” around with 2b Wong playing  close to 1b & in the short OF…so when the ball was hit to 3B Jeff Gyorko..there was confusion on who would be the pivot man…Gyorko’s throw went into the outfield & NYM grabbed a 5-0 lead in the inning..Cards lost 7-3…the next day in the bottom of the 9th, with the game tied and 2 outs with runners on 1st & 3rd…a sharply hit ground ball down 1B line, Carpenter dives, comes up with ball…but the pitcher, Rosenthal, isn’t covering 1B…NY wins 3-2…. these types of games are really a farce at the MLB level

…the Yankees and CWS trade…the main players in what amounts to yet another White Sox dump…is Yanks acquire Todd Frazier and David Robertson and deal prospects to Chicago….how would you like to be a Sox fan after they’ve dumped  Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana + now Frazier & Robertson  for….usually… prospects…would you want to go to the ballpark to watch this pitiful last place team… it’s a farce..the Sox are becoming the Browns of the early 50’s !

…Michael Wacha hurled a complete game last week (after an 11 day rest)…only 5 major league pitchers have more than 1 complete game this year…Ervin Santana-Minn (4 complete games), Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman, Ivan Nova & Max Scherzer (2 each)…as recently as 2010, there were 165 complete games in the MLB for the season…what’s happened….the players continue to increase in size and strength but…..are our expectations a farce of expecting pitchers to go 9 or is it the expectations ..and training ….of the manager or pitcher?

…judging from the Cubs series, Rosenthal & Oh have been sent to the Siberia of the Cards bullpen… Manifesto likes playing only the “hot” card…. Like in a casino….unfortunately, he’s getting the same result that most people get in a casino

….Marco Gonzalez for a “prospect”…sounds reasonable to me…he was taking up space in the Cards minor league system…he won 4 games in 2014…hasn’t won any since then in the Majors..has pitched only 6 innings in MLB since 2014…he could never throw the ball by anyone and seemed to struggle “big time” during the 2nd time through the lineup. The Cards obtained Tyler O’Neill…he was the Class AA player of the year last year…this year, 2017, in AAA, it’s rougher….244, 19 HR, 56 rbi in 93 games..looks like Randall Grichuck’s type stats to me J

….a different Tour…the Tour de’France ended yesterday…Chris Froom…the pre-race favorite won his 4th title in this…the most prestigious bike race in the world…he was only the 2nd winner of the Tour not to win any stage of the 3 week race. Now …it’s time for me to end my Tour de’ Farce.