The Week that Wasn’t by Bob Ryan

This past week…or slightly more…has really been a stunner to many of us…there were stunning events….let’s take a closer look at the Week that Wasn’t…

….this week wasn’t a good one for the merry-go-round of the Cardinal roster….pushed off was John Gant. The press and Card mgmt. really seemed to be thrilled as they had promoted Gant in a big way when he arrived on the scene…this LHP could really add substance to the bullpen….he could be a long man, a short man, a specialist, yada-yada-yada….right..(did you read my sarcasm)….one week later…after 1 appearance of 3.1 innings…he’s demoted for a backup journeyman 1B,Chad Huffman. This 32 year had played last in the MLB in 2010! Hitting .167 (3 of 18) in that brief journey to the big-time…now we’ve gone full circle..we traded…practically gave away…Matt Adams (backup 1B and an excellent pinch-hitter)…now we have Huffman…a short-time MLB player…the merry-go-round continues… but wait…even more as this ominous week continued…. Two players-Broxton & Peralta were released…2 Coaches were removed from the roster….Maloney was “cut” outright and Bill Mueller saved face while being placed on a leave of absence…then Yadi missed 2 straight games with back issues… Kolton Wong returns….hope they’ll keep patting him on the back..or lower…we need his speed and skill set…WOW…what a week..of course the 7 game losing streak was the perverbial rock that broke the camel’s back…or maybe it was a meeting between MO and the DeWitts and MO got the word…if there isn’t immediate improvement (our sales for down for future Cardinal home games)…you’re gone.

….this week wasn’t good for Oklahoma football…the resignation of Bob Stoopes (190-48 .798, 1 national title) may cause a drop-off of the Sooner Football.  Following Bud Wilkenson (1947-63, 145-29-4 .826, 3 national titles) there was a ten year lull until a guy named Barry Switzer came along(157-29-4-.836, 3 national titles)…When Switzer left, it took 11 years to find Stoopes…so if history holds true, Sooner fans will be screaming for about a decade until they find the next “great” Sooner coach.

…this wasn’t the week that Golden State could wrap up 16 straight post-season wins while sweeping the Cavs….LeBron kept his Cavaliers in the post-season with a powerful victory in game 4.

…btw..this isn’t the week that you expected the Cardinals to “eat” the remaining part of the $10mil contract with Johnny Peralta..seldom..if ever…have the Cards swallowed such an amount of money..and don’t tell me that he earned it in the first 2 years of the contract…Johnny earned $15m, $15m, $12.5m and this year—his 4th year–$10m..he hit .263, .275, .260 and now .204…his RBI total was 75, 71, 20 and 4..his HR totals were 21, 17, 8, 0…..those numbers don’t coincide with my idea of a guy earning $52.5m for 4 years….basically…it was a poor signing by MO.

…the date of June 8th wasn’t the day or the week that the Cards elevated our playoff hopes…on June 8, 2017 the Cards have a run differential of -20 (they’ve been outscored by 20 runs)…check out the last 5 years of the Cardinals on June 8th…on 2016, it was +58, 2015-+62, in 2014 +16, 2013 saw a +91 and 2012 +56. Using a 5 year history as a basis, only 7 playoff teams (out of a total of 50-14%) were in a negative differential on June 8…they were–2012: Orioles (-7); Tigers (-18); Athletics (-21); 2013-Dodgers(-37); 2014- Royals(-15);   Pirates (-20) 2015: Cubs (-1)  2016: none. The last time the Cards were 26-31 on June 8 was 2007..gee…think of the changes in YOUR life in the last 10 years

…this week wasn’t when you expected to find out that Wilt Chamberlain won 3 straight Big Eight Titles in the High Jump and was also inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame..funny what people pop into your mind as you watch the NBA Finals …what else could LeBron have accomplished outside basketball? … Probably a lot ..just think of LeBron as a defender on the soccer pitch, a track-field athlete, or an outside LB in the NFL

…this week wasn’t good because we realized that the 2017 Cardinal OF is worse defensively than the Cardinals 2016 OF defensively…and that  OF included Matt Holliday…ouch.

…this week wasn’t the week that anyone would expect Marshawn Lynch’s press conference to rival Tony’s post game press conferences…but it did…the longer he talked…the more “salty” the language became and the more the love of Oakland came forth to the public…just speaking for myself…I don’t think that he CAN make the come back….any running back in the NFL has a short shelf life and Lynch took a beating as he often carried the ball on inside runs for Seattle..but …good luck to him

….this week wasn’t what we EVER expected in the NL Central Division standings….the Milwaukee Brewers in 1st place, Cubs 2 games out; Reds 3 games behind, Cards at -3.5 with Pittsburgh -5.5 games behind…are you kidding me…are we still in April with Milwaukee top?

…this wan’t the week that you expected the returning players to the Mizzou basketball team to “rehatch” from the off-season egg …after being ignored during all the signings, they now claim that THEY were important also to the success of the team…..one might ask…what success?…anyway…only Jordan Bartnett (CBC) it seems…will have  any chance to average 20 min per game with this improved roster

…all 3 of the Triple Crown races saw horses “coming from behind” to win…exciting!  Since we commonly accept the top 3 races (Triple Crown)for 3-year horses…why not have 2 horse races for the 2 year olds?

….this week wasn’t the week that we expected to find just 1 Cardinal in the top 40 of NL hitters in the Batting Average Category…it was Jed Gyorko @ #9

….this wasn’t the week …or any week…that anyone expected Aaron Judge to pass up Mike Trout in the American League All-Star voting…come on….Trout..proven superstar vs a New York rookie star ?

….this week wasn’t the week that you expected Manifesto to pull out Lance Lynn after 5 innings, only 78 pitches and a 3-1 lead…of course the Cards bullpen blew up and bye-bye win…it seems Manifesto is managing the team with a quick finger to appeal, looking for the new “fresh” guy, pulling pitchers quickly and shuffling the lineup more than a deck of cards(pardon the pun)…you might call it “pressure”….don’t know if you can win in that style…

…this week wasn’t the week that you expected Pittsbugh to pepper the puck past Rinne like he was had on blinders in  game 5.

….this wasn’t the week …it was actually June 30, 2014 when Sports Illustrated proclaimed that the Houston Astros would be the 2017 World Champions..it was laughed at, ridiculed, mocked at the time…but…right now…the Astros are 42-18, 1st place. Jeff Luhnow took control of the team in 2011. He’s drafted players superbly…in a sport that seems to be the most difficult to project of the major 4 sports…signed significant free agents while staying close to budget, make several key trades..in a word..his evaluation of players is at the highest level….ya gotta wonder…did the Cards choose the wrong man to be THEIR GM?

…this wasn’t the week that you expected the Reds to do something that they hadn’t done since 2003… sweep the Cards in a 4 game series including one game when a guy nicknamed “Scooter” hit 4 home runs…who’s next for the 4 dingers in a game?  Pee Wee?  Tiny?  Lil’ Abner? Jethro Bodine?

…this wasn’t the week that the Cardinals moved up in the MLB “runs scored” category…currently the Cards are #26 (of 30 teams) in runs scored in 2017

…this wasn’t the week that I was going to play the pink-bunny…and keep going…and going..and going…Thanks for reading….I welcome your responses…they are always interesting….

 

 

Toy Story by Bob Ryan

We’ve all had toys..toys of all kinds…for several years…sure we all had toys as children ..there were all kinds of toys…here’s a possible list…I’m sure that you could add more…

….the shiny, “hottest” toy that we enjoyed for a long, long  time but finally it wore out

….the shiny, “hottest’ toy that amused us for only a short while

….the good toy that we enjoyed initially that we continued  to enjoy for a long, long time

….the toy we hardly ever used  or hardly ever enjoyed

…the non-descript toy that we used and then used gladly again and again and again

….the “whim” toy that we wanted and then used it and found it not to be enjoyable—maybe too difficult, didn’t do what we had hoped…or whatever

…an inexpensive toy that we barely used and never missed it when it was gone

…a toy that was fun when it worked but often it didn’t work due to various reasons

…the toy that we enjoyed a lot for a fair amount of time, then it broke down and had to be discarded

…the toy that we enjoyed briefly but lost interest or it got broke after a relatively short time

….a toy that we tried that we never enjoyed and “lost” it quickly

…an old toy that we got that entertained us for some  length of time but finally it broke down

….a toy that we received that we didn’t enjoy but our friend did enjoy when we gave it to him/her

 

Well….how is this trip down memory lane apropos in a sports blog…..MLB players….let’s look at the Cardinals specifically ….seem…in an  imaginative way…to be like toys…substitute the word “player” instead of toy..and you see what I mean….I’d like YOU..each of you to send me a current player..or 2 or 3… that fits any of these descriptions….or any other description that you create….I’d like you to post them all on the response section  below my article…if you want to send it via email…I’m going to assume that I can post it without your last name…like ..   bob r ..for me…e.g.  Seth Maness was a toy that we enjoyed briefly but he broke down…I’m really anxious to see YOUR ideas….

 

Quick Trip Around the world of sports….

….just checking on a neutral baseball site….the Cards were ranked as having the 18th best minor league system in the MLB…the top 10 prospects last winter according to this site…probably has changed by now…#1 RHP-Alex Reyes; #2 RHP-Luke Weaver; #3 RHP Jack Flahery; #4 ss-Delvin Perez; #5 OF Harrison Bader; #6 RHP Sandy Alcantara; #7 C-Carson Kelly; #8-Mag Sierra; #9 RP Dakota Hudson #10 INF-Paul DeJong. Reyes suffered arm issues and Alcantara is throwing over 100mph but is having control issues

….I’m rooting for Nashville in the Hockey Finals..but they are in trouble…

….this 10 day DL seems to be a joke…the Dodgers put on/take off so many guys…legally…it’s made a mockery of the rule…..basically LA has a roster of 28-29 guys that are constantly rotated onto the roster

…why doesn’t Tiger …and others like him…just hire a driver for all their traveling needs?

…MLB team fielding stats may not tell the whole story but….the Cards are 27th, Cubs are 26th and Dodgers 25th…maybe that’s why these highly touted teams are struggling…btw the top 5 in fielding stats are #1 KC  #2 Minn    #3  Colorado   #4  Cincy  #5 SF

…MSHSAA Track results for Class 5 (largest schools) shows only 2 StL schools in the top 10 of the STATE championship meet…. Lafayette  was #2 and at #4 was CBC but in Class 4, Rockwood Summit won the track title and Parkway North was #2 while Parkway Central finished at #10 in Class 4.

…how can sending Randall Grichuk to Class A baseball help him “get back”?  If the Coach there is that much better…why isn’t he doing the coaching at the major league level? He’s been swinging at the that low outside slider for 2 years…if he can’t recognize it or can’t change….he’s not a MLB player.. remember he was drafted in 2009, he’s nearing age 26, was traded by Angels with Peter Bourjos for David Freese & Fernando Salas…so it wasn’t like either team was trading away their stars..he may have been a “top” prospect when he was signed but he surely wasn’t that way when the Angels traded him or from what we’ve seen over parts of 4 years…yes…he has terrific exit velocity, can run fast but …but….it seems like his adjustments at the plate are slow to take place and not very lasting.. and…if the Cards had REALLY thought he was worth keeping…they would have locked him up like they did for Piscotty….he’s had 1125 AB in the Majors…remember something that’s been said…it takes 1000 AB in MLB to determine if you belong …and…how good you’ll be…I think we know now about Grichuk.

….along these lines…it appears that the Cards are starting to shuffle the deck with their roster…this .500 team is missing some real ingredients…NO real star, NO true lead-off man(i.e. a man who’s primary function is to get on base), NO real speed,  POOR base running and POOR fielding…I had the “pleasure” of being at the 3 hr 55 min game…the game moved slow, slower and even slower  …it made a Lee Smith’s walk to the mound from the bullpen  look fast.  Over the years, I haven’t been a Manifesto “man” but….this roster has his hands tied…moving out the weakest guys on the team like Broxton isn’t  really not going to change this team….I’m looking above Manifesto….at MO…for the sour construction of this roster.  If the attendance continues to sag….it may back MO into a corner which will require a “major” trade to reignite the fan base….for 1 thing….I’m pleased that Sierra has  come up….his speed is sorely needed at the major league level…yes…he may be a bit overmatched by some pitchers…but…he’s been in the minors 4 years already (signed at 17)…let him continue to grow “up” here… in MLB …and help us win with a new dimension available…speed.

….following up on a story line in the above section….with the Astros holding a massive 12.5 game lead and a 39-16 record …do any of you wonder how the Cards would look with Jeff Luhnow as the GM? The Cards …basically…chose MO over Luhnow n 2011…the Cards won immediately after Luhnow’s departure but they were still Luhnow’s players

SOME STATE BASEBALL NOTES

…it was a happy/sad moment in Class 2 Baseball Championship Game last Tuesday…the Mansfield Lions dominated Canton Tigers 16-3 (happy part)…but the sad part…in a sense …was that the Lions had dedicated their season to their long-time Baseball Coach, Doug Jones. Jones had passed away this winter…he is the winningest coach in the history of MSHSAA…he had 713 wins…30 of 35 seasons at  Mansfield… The current head coach is a former player of Coach Jones..I’m sure that the entire program was happy about winning for Coach Jones… but sad in that it brings back the wonderful memories of a good man who taught the fundaments of baseball and life.

….in Class 5, one of the semis saw 2 STL teams competing for the 3rd time this season(they split)—Vianney vs Ft Zumwalt West. Each team had their ace on the mound so most observers expected a close, low scoring game…and we did.  FZW scored first in the3rd when Patrick Connor tripled to lead off the inning and was driven home on a sac fly. Vianney scored 3 runs in the top of 5th with the big hit being a triple by Thomas Kraus…it was now 3-1 Vianney and it had felt like the Golden Griffins had all the momentum.  In bottom of 5th, Jacob Verschoore blasted a 2 run HR to tie it…and suddenly you could feel MR Momentum switching dugouts. In the bottom of the 6th it again was Patrick Connor who drove home a run to make it 4-3 FZW….and that was the final score in a very exciting game with good pitching, good defense and some key hitting.  The next day FZW faced Jefferson City for the Championship. The Jaguars (FZW) scored a tally in the 2nd inning to make it 1-0. The score remained that way until the bottom of the 7th when the Jays used an inning opening walk, a sacrifice bunt…yes high school kids can do it but not the pros…and he scored on a single by Payton Bodenstab. FZW didn’t score in top of 8th, in the bottom of the 8th it was 2 walks and a single and …the winning run…the run that won the STATE championship for the Jays….it scored on a HBP !  The beauty of High School sports…ya just never know what’s going to happen…

….who does the scheduling for the MLB…the Cards play the Dodgers 7 games in 10 days and now they are finished with them for the entire season….couldn’t we at least see them once before and once after the All-Star game…like Colorado? 

….I don’t know if it’s too much pride, arrogance, ignorance or failure to accept that getting on base helps the team win and THAT is the primary goal but….why is it with these overshifted defenses that batters just don’t bunt down the 3B line….if they keep getting on base…they’ll stop shifting

….I  watch very little of the NBA so these comments so take these thoughts for what their worth … but…I’m rooting for Golden State…I admire their  long-range shooting skills and it’s a somewhat “fresh” face…somehow…I’ve never really warmed up to LeBron…yes…he may be the best player ever but I can’t get the taste out of my mouth of his “announcement” show…it was really self-serving.

…what’s going on with the weather up north…around the Great Lakes area… this summer?….there seems to be something new in the air…something like “w’s”in the airand it appears to be contagious. As I write this on Sat, Minnesota and Milwaukee are in 1st place  

…lengthy debate about Cards not signing the highly touted Cuban Luis Robert…other Cubans have been highly touted..Yasiel Puig is the latest…some “work out”…some don’t…some fans claim its worth $50mil to grab a player who “MAY” be a star…the other side says $50mil is a lot of cash to take that chance…one of the things that amuses me about so many of these talk show hosts is that they want to spend the Cardinals money in every which-way …and in a BIG way…..it’s ALWAYS very easy to spend the money of OTHER people…..

…I wish the the Cardinal announcers would stop whining about the upcoming Cardinal schedule…. yes..they DO have a long, continuous string of games and at this moment they have played the fewest games …of anyone in the NL…without Double Headers  played any longer..which would provide for extra days off…every team DOES have long stretches of games…at least until they are eliminated..

so …suck it up big boys and stop whining…everyone plays the same amount of games eventually.

 

Don’t forget….I want YOUR idea of what Cardinal player fits into any of the toy descriptions…or your own description…if you send it to me via email…I’ll post it without your last name… some of you may think that this blog is MY toy !  Thanks for reading…

Sports Jeopardy by Bob Ryan

Welcome to our presentation of Sports Jeopardy…our host, Pat Tk-a-vaca will  moderate the show that has two guests…1st from Los Angeles is Jared and our other guest is from St Louis is Louie, “welcome to both of you…let’s get started…you know the rules”…Our 1st question….

…”without doubt the St Louis Cardinals have spoiled the fan base with winning baseball….when was the last sub .500 year for the St Louis Cardinals?  Jared…you buzzed..

Jared…”I’m guessing 1999 ..I know McGwire was hitting HR but it wasn’t a good team” Pat “ Sorry Jared, yes 1999 was below .500  and also a flood of other years in the 90s when the Cards were under .500 but it wasn’t the most recent..so Lou your guess please”

Louie…” it was 2007 with a 78-84 record, 3rd place… That’s right Lou—ur off to a good start..

Pat, “next question,TV star of NCIS on since 2003, Mark Harmon, was the starting QB for what University?….here’s a bonus….take your pick…what was his record as the starter or his two famous bro-in-law…Jared, you’ve buzzed first”

Jared, “it’s UCLA….he was the starting QB in 1972-73”

Pat, “ what about the bonus?”

Jared, “ I think I have it….the UCLA Bruins were 17-5 in his 2 years of starting QB and a double bonus..his two bro-in-laws are Ricky Nelson and Sam DeLorean.

Pat, “Very, very good Jared..now back to baseball… ….what % of runners attempting to steal did Yadi Molina throw out in 2016?  What was his best year?  I hear Jared again.

Jared “probably about 80% because he was down a bit last year”

Pat, “sorry Jared…Louie any idea?”

Lou, “ well…let me guess since a significant age  is 21, I’ll try that…Yadi threw out 21% of attempted stolen base runners in 2016”

Pat, “Well….Louie ur luck has changed..that’s correct”….the bonus is to name his best year

Lou, “ I’m going way, way back…how about 2005”

Pat, “WOW….that’s right Jared……his best year was 2005 when he threw out 64%…that was tough …  congratulations….our next question now is easier….only 2 current MLB teams have NOT played in the World Series, who are they? Jared, it’s you there first”

Jared, “It’s gotta be Milwaukee and Miami”

Pat, “ Sorry Jared…how about you Louie?”

Louie, “ I’m guessing ..the 2 teams are the Washington Nationals (or their predecessor Montreal Expos) and the Seattle Mariners…

Pat, “Correct Louie….our next question is a bit softer…name any two of the 4 SLU grads who have played the longest in the NBA…now no help calling Joe F in Fenton for help.  Neither of you are buzzing….so, here’s the answer and then we’ll throw it out.. The correct answer is—the top 4 are (with their high schools): Larry Hughes (CBC)-1999-2012; Easy Ed Macauley (SLUH) 1950-59; Bob Ferry (Cleveland HS)-1960-69 and Gene Moore (Sumner) 1969-1975…there… let’s move down the ice….a hockey question….in 1968-69, the Blues had a tandem of older…actually really old…goalies….both these guys were HOF…easy part of the question…who were they….and tougher part…how old were they at the time (within 2 years of each)?…I hear Louie buzzing”

Lou, “ I grew up watching those two…..it was Jacque Plante & Glenn Hall….these old geezers were..hmm.. 38 & 40.

Pat, “Correct Louie…..but Hall was 37 and Plante 39…Here’s a follow up…were they the oldest goalies in blues history, if not who was?

Lou, “ I would think so”

Pat, “Sorry Louie, Eddie Johnston was Blues goal keep from 1974-77 in the 76-77 year…he was 41 years old. Now onto our next questions–the Cards are currently espousing the idea that they want the bulk of their players to be “home grown”. In 1964, 1982 and 2004…three of their most successful years….how many players were on those teams that started in the field for the Cards on a daily basis came thru the system? That’s a tough question…jeaopardy music in background…..sorry time has elapsed without a buzz from either of you..here’s the answer–in 1964… with 8 starting field players… here’s the starting 8…yes means developed by Cards—Tim McCarver-yes; Bill White-no; Julian Javier-no; Ken Boyer-yes; Lou Brock-no, Curt Flood-no; Mike Shannon-yes..so 3 of the 8 were developed by Cards… in  1982…not much difference….Darrell Porter-no; Keith Hernandez-yes; Tommy Herr-yes; Ozzie Smith-no; Ken Oberkfell-yes; Lonnie Smith-no; Willie McGee-no; George Hendrick-no..so 3 players were developed by Cards; 2004 team that won 105 games—Mike Matheny-no; Albert Pujols-yes; Tony Womack-no; Edgar Renteria-no; Scott Rolen-no; Reggie Sanders-no; Jim Edmonds-no; Ray Lankford-yes..in 2004 there were just 2 players “home grown”….maybe our current brass should …as they said in the play Oliver…. “reviewing  the situation” about winning big with home grown products.. oops…that’s not a question…

Pat, “That concludes today’s Sports Jeopardy Show…both contestants did so well…Jared answered every non-St Louis question & Louie handled all the STL questions….we’re giving you a free read of Bob’s Blogs for a yearJ Thx for making it to the end of the show…

 

Other Thoughts of the day…

….Mizzou better update their football page…on that page is listed their “rivals”….the teams listed  are—Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma….currently, the Tigers are only playing Arkansas….how can these other teams be rivals if we don’t play them any longer? Instead of playing MO State, U Conn, Idaho & Purdue this year…why don’t we see any of those “rivals”?…come on…we know why….the “W” means more than rivalries..btw the 2020 Mizzou schedule already has listed two “biggies” as non-conference foes—E. Michigan & Central Arkansas….ya know..often when there’s a direction in the name….it’s not the primary school of the state..hence…a cupcake…if there’s two directions…e.g. southeast something or other…ya can bet it’s an easy cupcake

…the leading RBI man in the MLB?  Charlie Blackmon-Colorado-45. Mark Reynolds & Jake Lamb are tied for 2nd in MLB with 42 ribbies. Nelson Cruz & Bryce Harper have 40 RBI’s.

….the more I watch Matt Carpenter play…the more I become convinced that his back is a real issue…maybe that HR swing that he now uses is the cause?..who knows…btw…he’s run into some horrible outs…trying to stretch a 2B into a 3B with no one out…come on….they say he’s a “smart” player…I’m beginning to have my doubts about the people calling him a “smart” player

…my brother asked me why the Pitchers take so many warm ups in the bullpen…they get 8 warmups on the mound…do they need another 10 pitches to get ready…as usual…I didn’t know the answer.

…Milwaukee Brewers high in the standings with a starting staff that HOPES to get thru the 5th inning…I think it’s good that they are competitive. At least for a while…but those bullpen guys may have a hard time lifting up their arms ..much less pitching … by August 1.

….minor league update…Cards catching prospect, Carson Kelly is hitting .321 with an OPS of .928

….why is it…year after year the Dodgers lead the MLB in spending-$244m in 2017…yet…they struggle to win their division and haven’t won the Series since 1988 ….LA has lost the last 9  NL Div Championship Series that they’ve played!?…  Arguably they have the best 8  field players …but it’s that god-awful pitching…for example this year….after Kershaw(133-62)—who is terrific…. is pure mediocrity –Rich Hill (37 years old, debuted in 2005,lifetime wins-39; Brandon McCarthy is a sub .500 pitcher in his career (61-69); Kenta Maida – who has 20 lifetime wins in the MLB at age 29; Hyun-Jin Ryu –30 wins in MLB at age 30..wouldn’t ya think that THEY would be the team signing successful veteran pitchers who are ready to reach free agency…rent em for a month or two…win some close games.

….Top 5 MLB pitchers in WHIP (walk&Hits per inning)…Chris Sale 0.81, Clayton Kershaw 0.82, Erwin Santana 0.83, Dallas Keuchel 0.86 and Mike Leake 0.93….he’s been really good to be on this list as of Friday night.

…Steve Ott named Blues assistant coach?….Guess he doesn’t require any training or experience in coaching to step right in for a team that needs to go deep in the playoffs next year

In some high school sports that are winding down the 2016-17 sports year…

…Congrats to the Parkway Central Colts who edged the St. Mary’s Dragons in Class 3 of MO HS boys volleyball…the Colts (32-4) won their 3rd STATE crown in boys volleyball after dropping the 1st set, 17-25, 25-23, 25-22 over the Dragons. In Class 4, third time was a charm for the Lafayette Lancers.  Lafayette lost in the finals the last 2 years to SLUH but 2017 was different.  The Lancers toppled the Jr. Bills 25-20, 15-25, 25-23

…the MSHSAA Baseball playoffs have advanced to the State Semifinals…in Class 4, Lutheran South outlasted Sikeston in 8 innings 5-4 in the quarters. That earned them the right to tangle with the team with the best record in Class 4…Westminister Christian Academy (33-1). Vianney Golden Griffins have reached the State semi’s in Class 5 with two one-run victories…Vianney beat Marquette 3-2 in 8 innings in the sectional round. Then they shut out Poplar Bluff 1-0 in the Quarterfinals.  State semis & championships are being held at Card Shield Field (formerly TR Hughes) in St. Charles all week long.

…a final thought while we enjoy the 3 day weekend that traditionally kicks off the summer…let’s remember …at least for a brief moment…all the men/women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of  our country to provide us with the great life we have today in the USA

 

The final Jeopardy question is ….how did you get it this far down in the article?  My answer is THANKS and I’d love to read YOUR thoughts on any part of the article…put in directly on the prepcasts site or if you received it via facebook…put it there!  Enjoy the weekend!

 

It’s the Same ol’ thing by Bob Ryan

Often our emotional attachment to the local professional team (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) often skews our view of the actual production. In the Lou, we open up dialogue about the Cards before meetings, while using the cell, as we greet our daily collegues, yada-yada-yada..it’s been thought by many that the Cards have really improved this season….think again….

….the StL Cards ARE vastly improved in the standings…..but due to the drop-off of the Cubs not the Cards improvements….last year the Cubs were 26-5 to start the season….basically…. It was game over….this year Chicago has stumbled… more than sprinting …out of the starting blocks…the Cards are the same team as last year….. both in 2016 and 2017, the Cards are 21-19 after 40 games….sure the roster was tinkered around a bit…Fowler for Holliday, Gyorko has swapped roles with Johnny, Diaz from day 1…not day 15….Lance Lynn instead of Jaime Garcia…Wainwright & Leak have exchanged pitching numbers from last year to this year…. the Cards have decreased in power numbers…the loss of Holliday (20), Moss (28), Adams (16) and Hazelbaker (12) cost them 76 dingers ….so StL is averaging 4.5 runs/game as compared to the 4.8 of 2016…a decline but not a major difference…meanwhile the ERA has gone in a much better direction…in 2016 it was 4.08 now it’s 3.60…but…keep in mind 2 things 1) last year Wainwright, Wacha, Leake dropped precipitously in Aug & Sept so if history repeats…it could be similar 2) the Cards have played very sparingly outside the cozy NL Central Division….another point of playing the same…the Cards still don’t field well…in fact, StL is 29th in the MLB in fielding right now..last year it was 25th…just .001 out of being tied for 28th…same ol’…same ol’..baserunning appears similar to me….so….for the first ¼ of the season….this 2017 version is a very close to being a clone of 2016 …I just keep thinking…maybe hoping… is a better word… that MO will make a mini-blockbuster….this particular group of players just doesn’t seem to have some of the necessary fundamentals to win big…..but I can’t ever see MO playing …”all in”… so I’m trying to moderate my hopes…the “big” signings of Fowler, Cecil, & Fryer aren’t exactly shooting for the stars…but right now…..this club is very, very similar in production, roster construction, strengths, and weaknesses as last year…this is the same ol’, same ol’

….one are of change however….this is a puzzler to me…why the Blues are “sharing” their minor league team with Las Vegas Golden Knights…in fact Vegas has actually more control of team….how will the top prospects of the Blues mature as quickly under this system…will they be put in the same roles that the Blues envision for them?…will they get the bulk of the playing time?….I guess it saves money…Heh…Wouldn’t it be cool if the Blues scheduled 5-10 games of their top minor league team at Scott Trade?  Lower the prices to encourage younger adults, kids, families to be able to afford to watch some hockey….way back in the day…the Blackhawks top minor league team played in St Louis…St.Louis Braves… if memory serves me correctly…wouldn’t it be worth a try? 

…..another area of change is the sports-stations (ESPN especially) coverage of college basketball in the off season with the proliferation of the heralded “one & done” players…ya know….we have a major signing day production for them….but they’ll be gone in a year….it is becoming increasingly harder to “identity” yourself with a team…we all identify with the stars or favorites of “our”  team…when they are there but one year…not as much hype about guys who one haven’t played yet , there’s just not as much info that moves the our interest “ticker” upwards”in the off-season…so…ESPN “let go”…nice way of saying fired….two well respected college basketball analysts Andy Katz & Seth Davis.  The “One & Done” …in most cases…comes down to a just a few of the same schools annually—Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and a few others –reaping in 3-5 of these “one & gone” each year….and many really are gone…a few become NBA stars…but surely not the majority of them.  The 2nd factor that slows down off-season TV talk about college basketball is the vast increase in foreign players that step right into playing roles at these USA schools…in most cases…there is about a 6 line bio on these players from outside the USA..nobody has ever seen them. The lack of returning “star power” players at the collegiate level makes the signing day the only really big discussion point of the off-season.

…the oft-thought idea that baseball is dying by some sports fans…usually done by the ones that don’t like baseball…they usually complain that the game is too long…but often that same fan watches golfers for 3 hours on weekends, or watches cars circling the same track for multiple hours, or watch 8+ hours of football over a weekend in the fall…anyway…the idea that baseball is struggling is really just wrong if you consider the financial status of MLB right now…the average MLB team is worth $1.537bil(up 19% from last year)…the only pro sport ahead of them is the NFL ($2.38bil/team)… behind the MLB are—the top soccer leagues are at $1.468bil/team; NBA $1.355bil/team and NHL $517mil/team.  Further several to MLB teams are benefitting tremendously by forming agreements WITH the local TV companies…we know that the Cards deal with Fox Sports Midwest, signed in 2015 begins next year and is worth $1 billion through 2032…many other teams are doing… or will do shortly… similar deals…the MLB is thriving financially…btw…the Cards increased their spending by 4% in 2017….to $150.4 million….13th in the MLB…Cards & Cubs really do have a competitive edge in the division—Cincy, Milwaukee & Pittsburgh …all 3 of them are in the bottom 6 payroll teams of the MLB.

….quick peek at High school baseball as it is winding down towards state tournament games-the exciting part of the season for the talented teams…#1 rated Rockwood Summit (26-4) has won their conference and hopes to make a deep run in the MSHSAA playoffs. The large-school team on the East side of the River with the most wins…thus far..is Vianney (29-6) under Coach Scott Brown. Some thought that this would be a rebuilding year @ Vianney when several pitchers graduated last year…not so much. Westminster Christian has the most impressive record at 29-1 at this moment….I’m happy to see a “name from the past”…Valley Park excelled in baseball through much of the 80’s & 90’s under Coach Brent Gregston (412-199-2) but they’ve stumbled lately…good to see them back in the top 10 of small schools again. Two more Rockwood schools-Lafayette & Marquette are again “in the hunt” for a long post-season run.

…Rivals ratings for the basketball recruiting classes in 2017 has Mizzou @#7…not #7 in SEC …#7 in the country! The top 6 have mostly the standard names-1) Kentucky  2) Duke 3) Texas  4) UCLA  5) Arizona & 6) Alabama.. it should be really exciting in Columbia…some surprise to me …at #9 was Xavier but shockingly…almost as much as Mizzou…at #10 was W. Kentucky.

….what a “steal” and it was legal!!…Charlie Weis…remember him…asst @ NE patriots…hired as Head Coach at Notre Dame…he didn’t do well …so as you can anticipate…he was fired in 2009….the final buyout payment occurred in 2015…Weis collected $18,967,960 for not coaching Notre Dame between ‘09 & ‘18…but it’s not over…Charlie left ND and landed a job at Kansas U…so he was collecting from ND for NOT coaching while getting paid by KU to coach…he had the same success at KU as ND…bad…so …yep..he was fired and….u got it…his buyout from KU was another $5.625 million….no wonder the major universities can’t pay the players…they are too busy paying the “buy out” contracts of former coaches

…Before you laugh too hard…Gary Pinkel…after stepping down from his football position… signed a contract with Mizzou for 3 years, $950,000 to be an “ambassador” …do they need any more ambassadors?   I remember the times when a HS player of mine visited Mizzou. He was escorted by an “ambassador”…. somehow….I don’t see Gary Pinkel having as much success as these young female ambassadors did in influencing decisions to attend Mizzou J …btw….in a sad story related to this HS player of mine visiting Mizzou…my player did sign with Mizzou after visits to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Cal, Iowa State and some Ivy League school…he did it….so his family could watch him play…sadly…his Dad was reassigned by Boeing from St Louis to Australia after this player began his Mizzou experience…the player became a starter in his 5th year…it still seems sad to me.

….speaking of Mizzou football….the 2018 High school football players list coming out of St Louis is said to be the “Best St. Louis Class in a Generation”…the last class close to this was the 1992 class…some of the major names that you want to follow (these aren’t in any order of skill or anything else)….Michael Thompson(Pk North)-leaning to Mizzou; Kamryn Babb(CBC)-leaning to Ohio State;  Trevor Trout (Chaminade)-leaning Mizzou; Ronnie Perkins (Luth North); Dallas Craddieth (Haz Cen); Ayodele Adeoye (Ritenour); Kaleb Eleby (Pattonville) … there are many, many more but these are the early headline-grabbers…it appears that Mizzou could really have a strong recruiting year if they just take care of business at home.

….NBA prognosticators have projected Jayson Tatum as a top 5 draft pick….if David Lee plays one more year…Chaminade will have 3 graduates as NBA players! (Lee, Bradley Beal & now Jayson Tatum

…some fans of the Cards thought that this SF series should have been a very good one for St Louis…the Giants had Hunter Pence & Madison Bumgarner on the DL and the Cards missed Johnny Cueto in the rotation and still beat the Cards 2 out of 3 games.

….We indicated last winter that Matt Adams didn’t have a spot in the Cards plans with Carp the every-day 1B….trying to making room on the roster with players returning from the DL and Atlanta missing all-star Freddie Freeman for 10 weeks due to injury…it opened up an easy deal…Cards got a minor league player in return…we wish Adams well

….with the MLB International signing rules changing dramatically after this year and the Cards suffering from their “hacking” punishment (no draft choice until end of 3rd round)….the StL Cards made a major play for Cuban Louis Robert but were outbid by the White Sox. He was viewed as a “5 tool” player so the Sox …who are really struggling…while their comrades in Chicago are thriving…decided to roll the dice with the big bucks…The Sox who enjoyed a major part of a terrific career of another Cuban (Minnie Minoso) hope it works again. It’s a gamble…some Cuban players have developed into stars, some into solid MLB players and some have flamed out…but many scouts think that Robert is the “real thing”…

…Some oddities of the MLB standings on May 21…..most wins in MLB-Houston-29, #2 Colorado with 28; Cleveland is 8-10 @ home but 15-9 on the road; Texas has won 9 of their last 10 games; Washington Nationals have scored the most runs in MLB-246 and …poor San Diego 12.5 games out after playing 46 games…ugh

….there isn’t a day that passes that someone in the MLB isn’t put on the DL…this new 10 day DL seems to have opened the door for minor aches that players “played through” in the past….EVERY team has injuries…obviously some more than others…some teams hit the hardest…Cincy…not ever considered a strong pitching team…the Reds have lost 3 of their original starters on the 60 day DL—Homer Bailey (it’s an appropriate 1st name for his pitching J), Brandon Finnegan, and Anthony DeSclafani. Another team with lots of money sitting “out” are the Mets—starters Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard; closer Jeurys Familia; regular field players  Yoenis Cespedes, Travis D’Arnaud, Asdrubal Cabrera. Far from us and seldom seen are the Seattle Mariners—they are missing their star-Robinson Cano; from the rotation-King Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly; and from their every-day lineup-Mitch Haniger & Danny Valencia. The Washington Nats are missing Adam Eaton & Bryce Harper right now…talk about wiping out your OF!

…it’s the same ol’ same ol’ ending for me….thanks for reading….YOUR thoughts are always invited..put them on Prepcasts site, facebook, or send an email….you can’t be wrong…they are YOUR thoughts…have a great week

 

 

 

 

        

Cards – Cubbies … This Isn’t 2016 by Bob Ryan

So we’ve had the weekend to enjoy another Cards-Cubs series…things are different this year…way different….some thoughts…

2016 was a very special year….the Cubs sprinted out of the starting box in April—went 17-5, their pitching was terrific—they (Lester, Arrieta, Hammel, Lackey & Hendrick) had a 2.39 ERA with 17 quality starts (tied for MLB lead) and the bullpen had only 53 innings of use—fewest in Majors… their sizzling offense outscored the opposition 136-57 and the 1-2 punch of Bryant & Rizzo was on-fire…Rizzo had 24 RBI’s 3rd most for the month by any Cubs player– the Cubs April RBI record belongs to HOF Billy Williams…boy what a sweet swing he had….when he had 25 RBI in 1970….the Cubbies never looked back as they won the division easily and really had it wrapped up very early…

….the Cards of 2016 struggled with a 12-12 April , 8.5 games out at the end of May and were just 2 games over .500 at the end of June and the Central Division race was over…a slugging team, the Cards won 33 games by 5+ runs but were just 24-23 in one run games…shoddy fielding often jumped up and bit the Cards, a transition in the bullpen as Rosenthal’s closing role became Oh’s, an unsettled roster with Wong & Grichuk…reportedly two of the major components for the future were sent down to the minors…Moss & Gyorko provided plenty of pop but not much in the field so they were juggled continually…Gyorko panned out….Moss did not

Fast forward….now it’s 2017….things are different in many ways…for the Cards…who used the word “athleticism” as their buzz word all winter…brought in Free Agent, Cub’s CF Dexter Fowler, as the “big” move of the winter….and …I do think he helped relax the long spring training days with his personality…but is he REALLY the answer for 4 years…I doubt it….anyway…Johnny is gone and I think the chances of ever seeing him again as a regular starting role again are about as likely as Red Schoendienst coming up to pinch hit again while Gyorko has …for the time…assumed 3B duties…Wong has been given the starting role as he accepts the up/downs of Major League baseball….Mike Leake was outstanding in April…don’t expect him to continue at that pace…but…he should be far better than last year.. Martinez seems to be getting the WBC behind him now and really is our ACE…the two-headed closer of Rosenthal & Oh look like they are sharing the closing role or the 8th & 9th

… the Cubs of 2017….came out flat…no doubt about it…Rizzo is hitting .219, Schwarber .189, Zobrist .216, Contraras .228— that’s half of the starting lineup…btw…Rizzo & Heyward are the oldest of starting lineup at 27 (except for Zobrist)…on the mound…the 3 month rental of Chapman as closer has expired…age & work-load are taking its toll on the Cubs starters– Lackey (38) has a 4.29 ERA, Arrieta (31) and coming off 426 innings of pitching over the last 2 years has a high 5.35 ERA, Lester (33) has actually provided some strong performances but hasn’t received the booming offense of 2016 for him to pile up wins…he goes…as most starters do now…only 5-6 innings…quietly ..the bullpen leading  up to Wade Davis is a shaky as a ship in a storm.

So what must we consider about 2017…some questions…..concerns…things to watch for both of these clubs in the upcoming months

The Cards must “deal” with and/or consider the following…

….the performance of Wainwright & Wacha are causes for real concern….despite his valiant efforts, Waino can only “reinvent” himself so many times ….now he’s an “off speed” guy…let’s hope it works..Wacha has never been the same since his arm injury..the Cards are having him “miss a turn using the reasoning that they are “trying to keep him strong”…right…since when is that a concern…pls check out the dragging bullpen arms of the past several years….he’s just not the same pitcher …meanwhile a pleasant problem…the crowded OF…Mags Sierra has generated more “buzz” in his 1st week than anyone expected. Does this shake up the Grichuk, Fowler, Piscotty threesome? Tommy Pham has been up & down more than a yo-you….is this the real thing…this time? 

…I just don’t hear the buzz about Diaz this year like I did last year

…for the moment, the bullpen has eased back into a nice set of “roles”

The Cubs face the following…

….will Schwarber actually hit….he missed all last year and is sinking below the .200 mark now…the small sampling of the World Series may have been an aberration …I do think that he’ll be moved out of the lead-off spot shortly…if …and this is a big IF…he hits .250, with 20 HR with his limited defensive skills in the OF…is that what the Cubs want..they’d be wonderful numbers for a catcher but with Contreras …it appears that Schwarber will be behind the dish infrequently

….The Cubs defense is a notch or 3 above the Cards and is an extremely valuable asset seldom mentioned. Assuming that the hitters will “find their correct water level” at some point

…the Cubs area already probably combing the MLB for pricy, older, effective starters on poor performing teams—Players like Jason Vargas (KC), Ervin Santana (Minn), Ivan Nova (Pitt) could already be on the list

…..the 6th, 7th, 8th innings are still a challenge….they are for all teams…but maybe more so for the Cubs than other contenders…prior to Wade Davis…things are often shaky

…..all in all….it’s a NEW YEAR in the Lou & Chitown…it’ll be fun to watch these two teams battle all summer and then tangle in the post-season

 

….other MLB tidbits….

..Milwaukee & Cincy are both improved….both teams have elevated their hitting numbers significantly.. Cincy is younger but both teams can hit…both struggle on the mound….Mil uses the 4 pitcher per night formula to eke out wins…in their first 37 games (20-17)…check out these appearances by the Brewers bullpen—Jacob Barnes—20 games; Carlos Torres & Corey Knebel-each 19 games; Neftali Feliz-18 games; Jared Hughes “just” 15 games…remember this is from 37 games! At this rate Barnes, Torres & Knebel would  all be in 85+ games.  But all this being said…the improvement of these 2 teams impacts the overall win total for both the Cards & Cubs. Not so many sweeps. Somehow Cards have a tougher time with Cincinnati than Milwaukee….one of those quirky things.

…..another  team that honors the past as much as the Cardinals is the Yankees….their “Monument Park” is adding Derek Jeter….as it should..he’ll be the 38th player honored in that way..

…the Mets can’t catch a break or maybe better stated…can’t throw….not long ago many thought that the Mets had formed a dominant rotation & closer….it’s fallen apart….Noah Syndergaard is gone until the end of July because of a torn lat..can’t touch a ball for 6 weeks…Matt Harvey isn’t the same since returning from a thoracic outlet syndrome surgery (2-3, 5.63)…Steven Matz—out for at least a month with a flexor tendon strain—being referred to as a “mysterious injury” by the Mets….what does that mean?….Seth Lugo is rehabbing from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament..Robert Gsellman has flopped…no sore arm…just no outs! …on the back end…closer Jeurys Familia is out 2-3 months with an arterial clot in his shoulder! Mgr Terry Collins will  be making many…many…trips to the mound this year!   Some speculate that all the work & time by the pitchers in the weight room may…may…be the culprit…or at least a partial cause..of some…or all…of these injuries.

…the much-traveled Mark Reynolds (7 teams) is currently 3rd in NL in RBI’s with 31 & 6th in Slugging % at .654 and 9th in batting .331….oh…the light air of Denver does wonders for hitters 

…David Freese has found his niche @ Pittsburgh….batting .302 as a backup 1B-3B

…while looking at ex-Cards….seemingly back from the dead…Joe Kelly has re-emerged for Boston..in 2017 he has recorded some nice numbers 19 inn, 2 wins, 10 hits, 2 holds 1.89-era and a whip of 1.16

….Albert ….we don’t need a last name…is at .245, 5 HR, OPS is at .629 for the Halos…hindsight is 20-20 so this is a bit unfair….but…I wish the Cards had used the same Albert strategy on Johnny

…Jason Motte (Atlanta) has a role of a “real short” guy…he’s been in 11 games and just 7 innings…it seems to be working…at least to a point…he hasn’t given up any runs this year yet but has no wins, no saves, no holds..with the weak Brave starting staff…they probably should carry 15 pitchers 

….Houston has opened up a huge lead in AL Western Division….the Astros are up by 8 games over Angels & Rangers while Seattle is 9 out and Oakland finds themselves 10.5 games behind on May 16…it might be a long, long summer in the Bay Area (SF Giants are also 8.5 games out in NL) 

…the highest average in the Texas Rangers lineup Sunday night was their catcher, Robinson Chirinos, the backup catcher at that….any questions why the Rangers are 8 games out of 1st place

 

 

Outside of the MLB….

….I hope the Blues are following the Preds-Ducks series…the Ducks scored 5 goals in game 2 to win a 5-3 game and even the series….it took the Blues about 4 games to score 5 goals…how did they break down the Nashville defense….but now the series moves to Nashville

….Mizzou Basketball signs another highly touted recruit(Tilmon)….this will…probably should…lead to the most abrupt, huge “turnaround” of any D-1 Basketball program in NCAA history

…speaking of NCAA…last weekend, the UMSL Tritons softball team hosted the NCAA regional.  In this double elimination tournament, the Tritons whipped Kentucky Wesleyan 11-1 in game 1 on Thursday, were no-hit by Wayne State’s Lindsay Butler in the 1st game of Friday then defeated Truman State 4-2 on Friday. On Saturday, the Tritons Carli Kingery outdueled Butler and Wayne St 1-0 to force a final championship game (both remaining teams had 1 loss)…the Tritons led 4-1 entering the 7th and final inning…Wayne State lashed out 7 straight hits, scored 6 runs took a 7-4 lead.  UMSL fought back to load the bases but could only push 1 run across the plate and the Tritons were eliminated in an extremely thrilling…but disappointing…. game. UMSL finished the 42-15 for the season and won the GLVC tournament….a terrific accomplishment any time but considering the graduation of a record-breaking  4 year starting pitcher and the departure of the head coach…it was really another terrific season! Congrats! Check out the softball program’s outstanding success over the past few years—2016-53-9; 2015-48-8; 2014-49-8; 2013-41-13

…why is it taking so long to get to the Warriors-Cavs championship series in the NBA? Do they need all these 7 game series to eliminate the weak sisters?

…if you want good pitching at the collegiate-DIII level with 4 of your primary pitchers under 3.00…check out Wash U….holding a 26-8 record, the Bears Jake Mintz is 4-0 with an 0.91 era; Brad Margolin 9-0 and a 1.70 era; Zach Kotin 5-2 & 2.57 and John Howard is 3-3 holding a 2.87. Wash U is an unbelievable 14-1 at home in 2017.

While some things change from 2016 to 2017…not much changes at the bottom of this blog…thanks for reading…pls feel free to respond on the Prepcasts page or on the facebook page…we respect your thoughts and opinions…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’ll Stop The Rain by Bob Ryan

One of my favorite songs  was the 1970  CCR song  “Who’ll stop the rain”…first of all….all of us have to have tremendous concern & pity for all those impacted by all the tremendous rainfall  of the last week or so…our concern for hitting or throwing a ball, kicking a ball, trying to put a puck in a net, watching horses run around an oval really pale by comparison to the REAL problems that many of our fellow StL friends, family and everyone else have struggled with during the past few days…our hearts go out to them…it HAS  stopped raining  for 2-3 days now but …..”who’ll really stop the rain”?

…Who’ll stop the rain of Cards early season battles with Cincy & MIlwaukee? The  schedule  will even out….it had the Cards playing 14 of their first 28 games against the Reds & Brewers. In the remaining weeks of May, the Cards to through the Western Division primarily-Atlanta-3 games, Miami-3 games, Cubs-3 games; Boston-2 games, Dodgers-6 games, Col-3 games, Giants-3 games…Surprisingly..at least to me…is that the Cards have 4 games off in the month..with 2 of them being during a homestand…one at the beginning of that  homestand and one at the  end of the home stand…that should be a very strong time to “rain down some wins” for the Birds…rested.. AND at home….

….How did the Predators “rain down” on the hopes of the Blues….while the Blues played much better as the series unfolded ….it appeared to me that the  Nashville attackers were faster skaters… their defense looked more physical with consistent body checks,  it seemed that the Preds passed the puck with more frequency than the Blues who seemed to be forced into “dumping in the puck” on many occasions… both teams had superb play in goal…the Blues #2 line was ghost-like though many minutes of each game…this wasn’t a matter of lack of effort….or poor coaching….Nashville was just a slightly better team…plain and simple…. let’s remember the Blues were #3 in the division for the season…so…winning 1 series seems “about right” for a team of that level. I do think that the Blue-note must upgrade the play of their center-icemen to continue to upgrade the play of the team…our offense in the Nashville series scored 5 goals in the last 4 games…that won’t win many…if any…playoff series

…here’s a strange football fact to “rain down” on you…only 10 other QB in the NFL history have thrown half as many TD passes as Payton Manning did in his career

….How did the Draft “rain down” on NFL teams….according to some….the team with the fewest choices…made the most of them….the New England Patriots…the Pats received a grade of “A” from one NFL web site…the only team to get that grade…so what glamor player did they choose… none…they chose a DL in 3rd round(their 1st pick) followed by a versatile  pass rusher from Arkansas in 4th round…they grabbed a 2 OT in later rounds as protection since one of the starters is a free agent at the end of this year..both have quick feet…I didn’t provide their names because they aren’t local guys so …who would have heard of them? The only Mizzou guy drafted was Charles Harris (#22 pick 1st rnd by Miami)

…Who’ll stop the hits from raining down in Washington….no one as long as Ryan Zimmermann & Bryce Harper are #1 & #4 in the MLB in hitting

…a strange golf fact to “rain down” on you…Jordan Spieth won $61,687 less at the Masters Tournament than Arnold Palmer won in his WHOLE career!

….the MLB is REALLY NOT trying to “Rain down” on the speed of their games…it’s all PR stuff that we hear….strictly done to appease the fans…if they REALLY wanted to speed up games…they’d shorten appeal process… MGR steps on top step…that’s an appeal…why should he have electronic, slo-mo to be reviewed and then decide…appeal on what you ..and the umps …see with your eyes…now some people want the game to be perfect…and are willing to sit thru a jillion appeals… but…it’s an imperfect game…pitchers don’t hit their targets each pitch, batters don’t hit “their pitch” every time why do we expect umpires to make the perfect call every time?  It’s part of the game…play on…and play  

…Who’ll stop the Awards from Raining Down on these guys?…in addition to Harper & Zimmermann mentioned above….Mike Trout was sensational, Fred Freeman did his “thing” quietly in Atlanta as he seems to be driving pitches in the strike zone better this year and outta nowhere comes Eric Thames of Milwaukee..he looks like he could be a LB for Green Bay and… of course Mike Leake -who was absolutely terrific in April on the mound for the Cards

 ….Who rained down some Intensity on NYY Marlin Castro…former Cub….he’s hitting over .340 for the Yanks…this guy was the biggest “dog” as a Cub…never hustled,  seemed to be flashy but couldn’t execute the fundamentals; played w/o any intensity,  etc…but a change of scenery…like the Cubs saying…we really don’t want you Starlin and dumped him… that apparently….woke him up

….Raining down my ranking of Cards starting staff to this point on their production—Leak,  Lynn,  Martinez, Wacha & Wainwright

….Who’ll rain down the peace beads or the hatchets for the O’s & the BoSox…the feud between these 2 teams began with a high-spiked slide by Manny Machadeo into Dustin Pedroia (leader of Red Sox). Boston’s Pitcher Matt Barnes whizzed a fastball behind Machado’s head the next night..then regrettably for the AL…the 2 teams met again a few days later ..and the feud continues….Chris Sale whipped a knee high fastball behind Machado which set off more sparks…the next day after American League official, Joe Torre warned each team about any more retaliations…. Kevin Gausman (Balt starter) threw a curve (slow 76mph) that hit Xander Bogaerts  in the rump…Gausman was ejected…come on…these are grown men…professionals…stay out of it…this isn’t time to play by PC rules…we aren’t in T-ball…these pros were sending messages as they’ve done for 100 years when a player has gone beyond the normal limits of fair play… by the League Officials injecting themselves directly into the mainstream of this debate just muddled it even more…as usually happens in this type of case…if ANYONE was to get punished by the league…this was the wrong guy…let the actual players  handle  it….you guys off the field…stay out of it…

….It sure did “rain down” in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby..however, it didn’t seem to dampen the spirit of the event or the race…or maybe I was Always  Dreaming 

 …It really  did“rain down” on local guys who weren’t drafted… plenty signed after the draft… and let’s be direct here…these guys have an uphill battle to make the squad…it’s possible…but tough…here’s a list of Mizzou players who signed … Aarion Penton (CBC) signed with LA Rams (maybe to join his fellow Tiger DB-EJ Gaines; Josh Augusta signed with the Patriots (see above-NE stock piling lineman); TE Sean Culkin-LA Chargers; speedy Donavin Newsom (Pk North) –SF 49-ers; long snapper Jake Hurrell-Balt Ravens; Rickey Hatley-Houston; CB- John Gibson-Seattle…but here’s a real small-school hero…from nearby, Drake University, Eric Saubert , who WAS drafted by the Falcons as a TE

…a surprising fact “raining down” from the NYY baseball history…Babe Ruth was on 4 World Series Championship teams….Yogi…he was on 13 World Series Championship teams

…why do MLB teams want their teams to rain down HR …well….the top 3 MLB  teams in HR thru May 4 were #1 Milwaukee,  #2 NYY, #3 Washington Nats, …and their position in the standings Milwaukee-tied for 2nd place; NYY-1st place; Wash Nats-1st place

…Well….I can’t stop the Rain…but I can stop this blog…thx for reading   Your comments are invited….put them right here on the Prepcasts site or send me an email…let em’ “rain down” on me 

 

Boos, Blues and Baseball by Bob Ryan

Boos…NFL Draft-Day 1

…in an event that many of us anticipated anxiously for many years…its gone the way of Columbus Day…remember that holiday on Oct 9?….and… I couldn’t stand to watch Roger Dumbnall smiling… with his painted-on smile.. 32 long times on day 1….ugh..but … there were still some interesting developments … maybe its easier when you’re not “involved “with the hopes of 1 team to see a bigger picture? I loved this…as did most StL fansI suppose … Roger was booed each and every  time he approached the podium..ya gotta love those Philly fans.. from the Lou we say “TU” & Roger we wish you many more!

…Bears traded up just one spot (sacrificing a 3rd & 4th  round picks this year + a 3rd rounder next year) to draft QB Mitchell Trubisky(N.Car) who has all of 13 collegiate starts on his resume…OK…not too strange…except in the off season these same Bears signed QB Mike Glennon to a 3 year, $45m contract with $18.5m guaranteed…btw…the next QB drafted was at #10 (Chiefs drafting Patrick Mahomes of Tx Tech)..doesn’t seem smart to me…

….I’ve watched RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)-drafted #4 Jaguars on several occasions in SEC games…I’m a skeptic that he’ll be a star in the NFL…somehow…I’ve never seen him have a big game against high quality teams…his “big” games come against the weak sisters of the league….he’s big, strong & fast but can he make the quick cuts, avoid the heavy contact (he’s a big body) required in NFL..Bob Shannon who I coached under for a few years indicated to me that the big, tall running backs don’t’ usually succeed at the higher levels..check it out.. many of the best running backs currently in NFL…shorter bodies with very strong legs..Coach Shannon…no one called him “Bob” has forgotten way more than I ever knew…

….only 2 players (Corey Davis, WR-W.Mich & Haason Reddick-Temple) were drafted from outside the major 5 conferences…from the 1st round…. Here’s the break down..

#of players-Team–# of draft pick(s):

4-Alabama #16, 17, 19, 31 (no surprise that Bama had the most gifted players)

3-LSU-#4, 6, 27 & Ohio St #11, 15, 24

2-Stanford-#3 & 8; Clemson #7 & 12; Michigan-#25 & 28, Wisconsin #30 & 32

1 player from each of the following Tx A&M-#1, N Carolina-#2, W.Mich-#5, Washington-#9;

Tx Tech-#10; Temple-#13, Tennessee-#14, USC-#18, Utah-#20, Florida-#21, Missouri-#22,

Mississippi-#23, UCLA-#26, Miami-#29

…most interesting pick to me Garrett Bolles (OT-Utah)…he’s 25 years old….”kicked out” of his house as a kid—vandalizing, drugging, etc…once he actually served time for vandalizing an opponent’s field….Greg & Emily Freeman saved his life..Greg had been his lacrosse coach in HS…the Boles had some simple, direct and life-changing rules…Ditch the old friends, get a job, go to church and donate to that church…long story short….he changed his life style…got a regular job… went on a Morman church mission, got up early each day, prayed frequently, knocked on doors (In Mormon method) and he changed..he attended Snow College for 2 years—was dominant and then was recruited by Utah…he’s already a success story in my book…I hope he becomes a star at Denver.

…we knew from the SEC that Florida was so-so on offense but good on defense….I guess so—check this out…LB Jarrad Davis was the #21 overall pick; ¾ of their starting secondary was drafted in the 2nd round!..Marcus Maye-Safety @#39, Quincy Wilson-Corner @ #46, corner “Teez” Tabor @#53…4 of the top 53 players in the draft from the Florida defense……oh…and at #76 it was LB Alex Anzalone…..no wonder no one could pass effectively against the Gators

 

Blues…round 2 playoffs…

gm 1….clearly were outplayed in 1st period…played much better in last 2 periods…but it’s very tough to come back from 2 goal deficit to win…yea…you can tie it up…but these playoff teams are all good…some real long comebacks of 3-4 goals are few and far between.. Allen’s 1st major goof of the post-season cost the winning goal.

Gm 2…for the first 5 minutes the Blues were “all over it”…then their dominance slipped away.. the Preds, from my eyes, seem quicker getting to the puck and  better passers as the Blues “clear it out” often against them…the 5 min major opened the door for the Blues and they tied the game up…I notice that much of their success has been shots down the middle from about 15-20 feet inside the blue line….the Preds Pekka Rinne doesn’t surrender many rebounds so you better “nail” that 1st shot..like most teams the Blues are struggling with getting the puck thru center ice against the Nashville club….I noticed the Blues doing a “give & go” maneuver on occasion in an effort to cross the blue line with the puck…maybe the next approach will be a “pick & roll …let Reaves set the pick!

 

Baseball…..Cardinals weekly snapshot…

…the 6-5 –11 inn loss in gm 1 of Toronto series was a microcosm of the early 2017 season… 4 errors…wild throw to 1B after that batter had been walked….a player (Martinez) out of position makes a misplay at 1B costing the Cards a run…why do we train guys in the minors at a position and the  tinker with them in the majors…can’t we “look ahead” and anticipate these options while these players are developing in the minors?..and then Coughlin leaps over Molina to score the winning run….I’ve never, ever seen that…what an athletic play!

…the DH sweep two days later…Grichuk..off the bench blasts a 2 run HR to tie the game with 2 outs in the 9th…let’s just accept…he’s going to hit 20+ HR, hit .230-.245, run fast, misjudge a fly or two, strike out frequently—usually on low-outside breaking balls…if that isn’t what the Cards can accept…then make a move…he is the most vulnable to being trades (Fowler & Piscotty are locked into long term deals) and with Adolis Garcia ready to knock on the big league doors with his high potential..someone will have to go…Grichuk seems like the logical one to me…. Adam Wainwright was lauded for his performance… really?…if it was anyone else…his 6 1/3 inn, 9 hits, 4 runs, 4 strikeouts, 105 pitches ..it would certainly not be praised…can we forget the name and just analyze…objectively..the performance?…I’ve admired him too…he has been super…but the key words are “has been”..Kolton Wong might drive you crazy with some of his fielding & running…but he often seems to be involved in middle of many of the key offensive innings….oh…let’s not kid ourselves….this Toronto team isn’t very good—they had 4 guys in the starting lineup in game 1 batting under .200, have the worst record in baseball at 6-16, their closer is really struggling (PC for being bad)…. but that being said…in our division (where we play the most games)..there are really only two good teams…the Cubs & Cards

….since Lyons, Garcia and Socolovich are out of options….that means that they can’t send them back to the minors without the chance of someone else claiming them..the Cards may be showcasing Garcia for a trade; Lyons is a puzzle—he was decent last year for several months but doesn’t fit in this year even though Kevin Siegrest is showing real clear signs of over use and Socolovich…where DOES he fit in?  Specialist? Mop up? 6th inning? Comedian in locker room?   I don’t think ANYONE knows his role

…btw…Bowman & Cecil each  have 13 appearances in the first 23 games…at that rate he’ll have 91 appearances in 2017…come on Manifesto…you aren’t in the casino…don’t just play the “hot” machine….oh…and Cards have 21 errors in 23 games….OMG!

…hey…how about making Rosenthal & Oh co-closers…alternate each opportunity…neither seems to be able to go more than 2 day consecutively anyway

…remember the old baseball adage….u aren’t a real MLB hitter until u’ve had 1000 AB…early success…even through 200-300-400-500 AB doesn’t indicate a long, successful career.. Piscotty, Grichuk & Wong have all just passed this 1000 plate appearances barrier… now… they should be close to what “they’ll be” in their career

 

Odds & Ends….

…it hasn’t taken too long for the cream to come to the top…Cubs, Nats, Cleveland, Baltimore are already in 1st place in their divisions..gee it took 20 games!

…Joe Kelly is back in MLB with BoSox! While Dan McLaughlin often makes comments about Boston having to pay the highest minor league salary in history to Allen Craig(he ignores the fact the Cards signed him to that deal)…well…Lackey is gone to our biggest competitor…. nothing in return… and now Kelly is serving Boston ..albeit after a minor league hiatus…in a very small sampling this year…Kelly is 2-0, 1.50 era, 12 IP, 7 H, bat avg against him 1.71 & whip 1.09…all the Cards haven’t played out yet…pardon the pun!

…UMSL Softball faced some tough hurdles this year…their star pitcher graduated after being the ace for 4 years and the Head Coach moved on to a D-1 school….nevertheless, the Tritons are 35-13, 2nd place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC)..congrats to Head Coach Amanda Scott and her team for another strong season.

….Bryce Harper is really putting on a show…as I write this he’s hitting .418, 8 HR, 25 RBI, OBP .535, SLG .823 in just 25 games…WOW!!! Those are Little League hitting numbers

…the most unexciting early round playoff games are found in the NBA…the talented teams seem to roll over easily the pretenders….sometimes the semifinals are decent and the championship series is usually entertaining but up to then….forget it…

…congrats to the Summit Falcons Baseball team(19-4)…ranked #1 in last local  HS baseball poll..they began the season by winning the very tough Midwest Classic and currently are in 1st place in their conference with a 9-2 league mark under Head Coach Jason Schneider

…has Brandon Phillips found the fountain of youth drink in Atlanta?  The 35 year old is sprinting off to a brilliant start to 2017–.352, OPS-.894…he was born in Stone Mountain GA..a suburb of Atlanta…. so maybe it’s the home town cooking?…or maybe like distance runners.. he’s sprinting hard since he’s close to the finish line

…Jason Heyward seems to have bounced back in 2017…he’s @ .282, 3HR, 16 rbis as May 1 approaches…that average is higher than Fowler, Grichuk or Piscotty at this point!

 

BTW…this title reminds me of what Harry Caray once said about talking with the fans, “Ya just gotta talk, “Booze, Baseball, Broads & BS” & they’ll like you!! Don’t Boo me…..I’m done!

Happy Days by Bob Ryan

 This weekend was the ol’ Happy Days of Milwaukee all over again…I was looking for Richie Cunningham, Fonzie, Al Delvecchio, Mom & Pop Cunningham and the entire crew again ..things always worked out for them … somehow… despite the dire circumstances of the early minutes of the show…it all fell in line and had a “happy ending….so…as the Cards arrived in Milwaukee…happy to escape Busch III….they were in the same dire straits…weak fielding, inconsistent starting pitching, who really was the closer?, spotty hitting, yada-yada-yada..but get to Milwaukee…the ball flies out of there like planes about as often as planes take off in an airport, the Brewers pitching staff can’t find low ERA’s anyplace, Mil has speedy players but they can’t hit to get on base….after game 1…the Cards controlled the series and it was “Happy Days” all over again .

 

But prior to our Happy Days Series in Milwaukke, I heard and read all kinds of “fans” yelling for Matheny’s scalp….we haven’t played 20 games yet but those fans were demanding an immediate victim for all the losses….you would have sworn that Ted Drewes had run out of ice cream…or that HWY 270 was now a toll road….or that toasted ravs were now forbidden on the Hill with all the crabbing, complaining and calls for “heads”. As all of you know who’ve been reading my blogs…I’m not exactly the biggest Manifesto supporter.. putting it mildly…but come on….St Louis fans are spoiled….real spoiled…our Cards have been on a tremendous run this entire millennium….ya know the other teams players are professionals also…getting paid the same high salaries as our local heroes..they are paid to win too! The Cardinals are not barnstorming across America playing the local town heroes…the opponents are as professional as our local heroes they are expected to perform against the Cardinals too J . Take a gander at some of these hard facts…the Cards have been in the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years, 6 of the last 8, 9x divisional champs in the 2000’s and 12x in playoffs in the 2000’s…must they do it EVERY year?  And….there’s a good chance that they WILL end up in the playoffs this year…but time will tell.  Take a wider look at the entire MLB in playoffs since the start of the year 2000.. The most…#1 in playoff appearances  in this millennium are the New York Yankees—13x…then comes our Cards at 12x…Cards were only in 16 post seasons during all the 1900….now for much of that time… the World Series was the only post-season but here’s the rankings of the entire MLB in post season appearances—2000 onward

13x-NY Yankees

12x-St Louis Cardinals

9x-Atlanta  Braves

8x-LA Dodgers (no world series Championship since 1988), Boston Red Sox(3world series crowns), Oakland A’s

7x-LA Angels , SF Giants

6x-Minnesota  Twins

5x-Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia  Phillies, Texas Rangers

4x- AZ D-Backs, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros , NY  Mets, Cleveland Indians

3x-Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Cincy Reds, Chicago White Sox, Wash Nationals

2x-Kansas City,  Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Bluejays

1x-Florida  Marlins  (only in playoffs twice in entire history-won the world series both times!

 …All 30 Teams have competed in at least one Post Season from 2000 onward..

Biggest surprises to me…Toronto only twice, Phillies five times—WOW—would have never guessed that many, no wonder no one shows up in Florida for baseball-only one playoff appearance  J Oakland an incredible eight times…that leads me to my next topic…Oakland’s GM—Billy Beane

….”Billy Ball” is the technique developed and mastered by Billy Beane….he is able to sign players that produce in certain areas (probably not all areas) and form an all-around team without signing any costly free agents…it is a extremely difficult task to meld together a team like this and still win….but he has..during his time @ Oakland, his teams are 1552-1362 (.533) over the last 18 years (4th best in AL & 6th best in entire MLB during that time). The A’s have won AL West titles in 2000, 2002-03,  2006, 2012-13 and also have notched 2 Wild card spots in 2001 and 2014. His teams have been in 8 post seasons (4th in MLB behind NYY, Cards and Atlanta) and same amount as the LA Dodgers and Boston Red Sox (2 teams that spend huge amounts)

 

It wasn’t Milwaukee…but it was again northern mid-America…..Minnesota… and it was Happy Days for the Blues as they clinched the 1st series against the Wild.  Some random thoughts…

…The Wild scored only 4 goals even strength throughout the entire series…the Blues had limited chances but capitalize

…the late season signing of  Vladimir Sobotka paid off immediate dividends as he cashed in  a goal & assisted on the game winner in game 5 of the Wild Series

….it seems like are seeing the emergence to another level for our 2ne line of defensemen -Parayko & Edmundson- they’ve elevated their offensive game …each scored a goal and Parayko launched 17 shots in the series while Edmundson was a +6 for the series…putting him in the top six NHL players for the first round

…meanwhile, the Wild pulverized Jake Allen with 182 shots in the series with only 8 shots ending behind him in the net.

…we often kick around the idea that the Blues have struggled in the playoffs…and justifiably so…how about the Wild?  Minnesota won a franchise high 49 regular season games this season only to be bounced in round 1. They’ve only made it as far as the conference finals ONCE—way back in 2002-03. It sounds like we’re both singing the same tune J

 

What happened to “old” style baseball?

….Kolton Wong hits a round tripper…on his next plate appearance he attempts to bunt …oK….it is good to keep the defense off-balance.. but…come on…certain nights you see the ball better than other nights…if you hit a dinger on one AB, you’re seeing it well…at least try hitting the ball again the next time up…

…I recall when pitchers were never removed from a game if they had a no-hitter going…in a recent trend….Wei-Yin Chen was removed after 7 innings of no-hit baseball…his pitch count was all the way up to 100…pardon my sarcasm..Brad Ziegler kept the no-no alive in the 8th but Kyle Barraclough surrendered a hit in the 9th…come on…give the guy a chance to get his 1 chance…probably only chance… of special glory in the MLB…I was surprised to find that this has happened with some frequency in the last year..Miami pulled Adam Conley last year after 7 2/3 innings (116 pitches)…last year Rich Hill (Dodgers) was removed from a perfect 7 inning game..and there are more in earlier years…reason always given—protect their arm from excessive use..since when is 100 pitches the magic mark for pitchers who are bigger, stronger, better conditioned athletes than pitchers from previous eras who threw commonly 120-130 pitches? I say let them stay in the game….the euphoria of the thrill of a no-no will negate the “possible” break down…or …heaven forbid…give him 1 or 2 extra days of rest prior to the next start

…it’s not baseball …but it is old style…Danny Amendola, who had signed a 2  year $8.1 deal in 2016…was injured and ineffective (only 23 receptions last year)…so he agreed to play for “only” $1.6million to stay on the Pats…don’t tell me that winning isn’t important to him!

 

 

Snapshot of Cardinal week…

….Dead man Walking these days is Johnny Peralta—but the Cardinal Medical Staff does earn the Corporal Klinger Award for finding a way “out of action” for Johnny….”upper respiratory issue”!!…I could have accepted him having been a hernia rupture after carrying around that extra “n” all his life…but an “upper respiratory issue”….come on… I couldn’t have missed even one day of grade school for a “cold”…oops…I mean, “upper respiratory issue”….Mom wouldn’t buy it….but the Cards did…and willingly…what Johnny is really suffering from is the date on his birth certificate J

….2-1 three times?  WOW!  Pittsburgh bats were ice-cold…not sure if they’ll ever warm up this year…their lineup strikes about as much fear as a 5 year child dressed as a ghost on Halloweeen…StL fans had to be encouraged by Lynn, Leak, & Wacha’s performances but overlooked is the shabby defense..especially In game 2, 9th inning…. when 2 errors were called infield singles and Oh was late covering 1B on a ball hit to first-baseman

…Diaz seems to only see fastballs out of the zone…he’s getting doused with breaking balls and off speed pitches of all sorts

…so Mo ends the OF Matt Adams experiment publicly…probably justified…but seems far out of character for the GM to go public in such a manner…is MO feeling the heat mentioned above? So….where does this put Adams…Carp hasn’t been moved to 3B (yet)…and Carp & Adams are both Left handed hitters

…If the Cards minor league teams are so deep…and deep in pitching …what are we doing with Jonathan Broxton?…a mop up guy being paid just to finish games or innings …not win games….while cashing in $3,750,000

…while we did “beat up” the Brewers, the Cards still had too way too many mistakes on bases and in the field…some have told me that they really have a hard time enjoying the Cardinal games when they play as they’ve been doing in the first 3 weeks

…Yadi played in 147 games in 2016..thus he missed 15 games… Through 19 games of 2017, Yadi has played in 16 games….already missing 3 games..at this rate and without injury, he’ll miss 24 games in 2017…did the emotional WBC take a toll on Yadi…and several other players …in 2017?

 

Happy Days for you…you’re at the end…

Real Season – What Do You Expect by Bob Ryan

The Real Season began this week in the NHL….what are YOUR real expectations of the Blues— let’s try to think of it as must of us do…with our hearts, mind and eyes.

….With our hearts ….of course we all have high hopes…the team has played much better with Yeo as coach and actually have improved since the departure of Shattenkirk….I’m not saying that he was playing poorly…but … the Blues younger defensemen..Edmundson & Parayko ..have stepped up, Allen has come back to a high level of play after a sluggish start of the year…our heart says, “Lets Go Blues!”

…our mind tells us a couple different things must be considered…realistically….hopes have to be measured by the play of the team throughout the course of  the entire season…the Blues were a 3rd place team in their division…not really close to 2nd place team or the 4th place team…a solid 3rd place team….should we hope…maybe expect… to make it into round two?…or is making the playoffs as a 3rd place team about what we expected?  Let’s look at it statistically….this is only the 4th year of this particular playoff alignment…in this short 3 year history of this new style of playoffs ..the performance of the 3rd place teams across the league may surprise you….Six (6) of the 12(half of teams)3rd place teams over this time span lost in the 1st round…. 1 team won just 1 series…2 teams won two series; 1 team (San Jose 15-16) won 3 series & lost in finals and ….Here ya go Blues fans…two of the teams won the Stanley Cup after finishing in 3rd place in their division (13-14 LA Kings & 14-15 Chicago Blackhawks)…I guess as fans we can notice as Blues fans that both of these teams came out of the Western Conference….or is that just another straw to grab as a die-hard fan….so…yes …it can be done…to win the Cup

…. Then let’s look at it with our eyes…Jake Allen stole game 1 for the Blues in Minnesota pure & simple…he was sensational…the Wild really controlled the play but could not get it behind Allen…How about the instant pay-back by Sobotka…he scored a goal in game 1 that forced the OT…  In game 2, most would probably say that …again..the Wild had the better of the offensive play….the last goal in the waning minutes of the game stunned the entire, vivacious crowd…so our eyes have seen a 2 game lead…but…the Blues have demonstrated an outstanding defense but a only an opportunistic offense.. without much continual pressure… to this point.

 

Cardinal snapshots of the week…

…Mike Leake’s last 2 starting performance have been terrific…he looks like a right handed, non-grouchy 1985 John Tudor  who was 21-8, 1.93 era, 10 Shutouts (WOW),275 inn, whip .938 

… Trevor Roshenthal relief stint in Washington made it look like that he was “all the way back” and was ready to regain his closer spot…especially since Oh’s fast ball is off 3mph & hitters have been much more successful against him….you may recall that late last year…the final 6 weeks of the season, Oh’s numbers sagged significantly so I had concerns about him 

…Brett Cecil not only didn’t get anyone out in his 1 inning appearance in Washington but Yadi dropped 3 of his pitches…what’s going on that ball?….Yadier is as sure handed as anyone..1st one of Cecil’s pitches sticks to a catcher’s chest protector…then Yadi can’t hold onto them…sounds fishy..oops sticky… to me…btw…Cecil was 1-7 last year for Toronto with a 3.93 ERA…now I understand that if a relief pitcher has a poor outing that it is extremely tough to lower the ERA but…..it’s the same for all relievers

…I don’t doubt that defense was emphasized in spring training…but it is the same ol’ veteran players doing about the same as last year in the field..can the old dogs learn new tricks?

…Diaz really doesn’t cover much ground going to his left..why not have him “cheat” more to towards 2B to help negate his lack of range in that direction?

…Kevin Siegrest…who’s pitched in 148 games in the last 2 years….has lost 3mph in is fastball..same as Oh..?… thus far this season….let’s hope the high number of appearances isn’t taking a toll

…on the other side of the mound, Matt Bowman hasn’t permitted a run in 5 appearances…is he the new Seth Maness?

…with Carp, Fowler & Wong all under.200 and no one over .300…it’s tough to generate offense as of Thursday

 

Odds & ends….

So….St Louis is suing the NFL….is this an attempt to get a wad of cash to pay for the new MLS stadium? ….who knows…..You know Stan will have the best lawyers that money can buy to defend his decision. As a St. Louisan, I realize that Stan had an escape clause..that I’ve been told was seen for the 1st time by the Rams on the formal signing day..it was a complete shock to them..but the press, owner, city officals were all there…so…they signed it…. But… all the subterfuge by the Rams to lead the city…and fans…to think that there really WAS a chance to keep the team in town is the primary point in issue here. I wonder why the suit wasn’t filed shortly after the Rams announced their plans to leave for LA..maybe we could have slowed down the move ..maybe not…but I’d rather go down fighting(filing the suit) while the team is still here

….Generally, some of the best hitters in the league are first-baseman…it’s been that way a long time….and still is…but thus far there has been an abundant number of disappointments in the first two weeks of the season…check out some of these anemic averages for well-known first-basemen across the league..Miguel Cabrera-.182, Brandon Belt-.191, Joe Maurer-.188, Albert Pujols-.205, Joey Votto-.217, Carlos Santana-.186, Eric Hosmer-.179, Mike Napoli-.158, Edwin Encarncion-.194…that’s quite a list….I suspect most of them will start moving their mark upwards soon but for some…but maybe Fr. Time is touching some on the shoulder ..maybe some will heat up as the temp does.. …James Laurinaitis announced his retirement from the NFL… when the Rams drafted him in 2008, his college credentials were very impressive, 2x-Jack Lambert Trophy winner, 3x-1st team All-Big 10, Butkus Award Winner, Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, Big 10 Def Player of the Year …in 7 years he started 112 games …how good is that?…well… In the 21 seasons the team was in St. Louis, only Isaac Bruce (179), Orlando Pace (154), Torry Holt (146), and Steven Jackson (119) started more games….notice he was the ONLY defense player….and he was the Middle LB! Laurinaitis led the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons, rarely missed a snap, and was voted team captain multiple times.  He was a good player…if he’d been on a good team…he may have been considered very good player or even a star.  I liked watching him play….even when other teams ran inside the tackles at him in his 6th & 7th years. I’m happy for him that he chose to end his career before a serious injury ….although his knees weres sending him signals….good Luck to James Laurinaities and Thx for the memories!

 

Easter Basket Gifts..some athletes and teams found some special gifts in their Easter Baskets….

…Yadier Molina found a Teflon chest protector to keep any pitches from sticking to his protector

…Roy Williams receives a congratulations tweet from President Trump 

…Cuonzo Martin gets a free minute so that he can pinch himself and make sure that his last 2-3  weeks aren’t a dream 

…Toronto Blue Jays receive a W in their basket since they’ve had so few thus far in the worst start of their franchise

…The Cardinals get an Easter Bunny so that they can hop away from the first 2 weeks of the season

…The Reds are receiving medication for their entire team in their basket..the extreme high heights of the Reds in the standings (1st place 7-3) has many of the players ill 

…Mike Matheny is receiving a book of matches …so he can burn all of his “new” spring training programs on improving the defense in 2017

….Lou Brock is receiving a ton of prayers as he fights a new opponent…cancer.

….All of you…get at TU in your basket for making it to the bottom!

 

Missing the Goal by Bob Ryan

This past week, the vote to build a new downtown stadium was rejected by the St Louis City citizens….now….I’m probably the only South Side kid that grew up that didn’t play soccer….being the oldest..my Mom thought it was:” too rough”….anyway…I’m listing that qualifier to some of these thoughts about the soccer stadium issues—

….considering that a good portion of the fans that would have attended the soccer games would have been county people….it seems a bit unfair to me to have the city citizens alone being asked to shoulder the burden of the cost ….now I know that it was indicated that some ….or much… of the money would come from sales of tickets….but …come on….if the city wasn’t paying something… probably the majority…..why would they even be voting on it?

… I’m hoping that someday …short of a merger…a region wide Sports Commission will be installed…it would handle sports related issues and it would include City, County and maybe even St. Charles County…it’s probably a “pie in the sky” hope but although it’s not quite as serious as a revolution, Ben Franklin said, “If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang”..I don’t mean that literally but as a region the Lou isn’t the dynamic area that it was 100 years ago…maybe even 50 years ago…. and votes like this only make Stan Kronke’s statement as he walked out the door, “St Louis isn’t a 3 sport town” seem accurate…ugh…it’s hard to say that he may have been right!

….regarding city/counties even paying for stadiums that provide income…the huge income.. almost exclusively …goes only to  the owners & players… .let them also be the entity that accepts the payment of the infrastructure to generate that gigantic income.  City governments gain some tax money but nothing like the owners…they  should assist is a mild manner…if at all.

…oh and one more thing….the next “drive, petition …or whatever to build something”…don’t hire Dave Peacock to lead the show….he’s 0 for 2 at this point J I’d put him right there with George Pickett in successful charges to success.

….somehow …somehow…I hope that St Louis gets another chance to procure an MLS team -even though it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever go to a game…how about 2 or 3 or 4 larger investors become part of the ownership group? They seem to need more “Daddy Big Bucks” to get over the hump…. where are the owners from down the street when you need them?   We really missed the goal here!

 

1st week of Cardinal baseball….

…..Johnny Peralta’s bat still seems slow to me….I don’t think that Jed Gyorko would be an effective every-day 3B….on this roster…solution is Adams 1B, Carp 3B when you want two left handed hitters in the lineup

…speaking of Carp…I wonder if he’s been moved to 1B due to his back….he doesn’t get nearly as many ground balls at 1B as 3B or 2B…I sense that his back is worse than we know

…Wainwright looks like a 5-6 inning pitcher to me at this stage of his career…there will be an exception every so often…but don’t expect it to happen too often…in this era….that’s fine.

….what a hellacious AB and trip around the bases for Stephen Piscotty huh? For those of you who didn’t see the game, he was hit on one elbow at the plate, hit on the other elbow sliding into 2B and then as he scored a throw from a field struck him in the head (helmet was on)

…Cards sign Stephen Piscotty to a 6 year deal….may have seemed premature to some….some considerations…last year played in 153 games (only Cardinal with more than 150); led team in RBI-85; led team in game winning RBI-10; led team in runs(86); led team in total bases-266; tied for team lead in SB-7; hit .363 with runners in scoring position-2nd in the National League, drove home 37 runs with 2 outs (best on team & 6th in league)…and for u stat guys…he had the 2nd best Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among NL Right fielders @ 2.8  (only behind Bryce Harper)….he isn’t flashy, demonstrative, probably never going to be the “star” of the team…but the Cards think that he’s Mr. Reliable…and we’ll tie you up for 6 years.

…so don’t go jumping off the Musial Bridge over the start of the season….look just 1 year ago at the records after 1 week..the Cards are OK….

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
CIN 5 1 .833 31 18 .730
CHC 5 1 .833 42 15 .868
SFG 5 2 .714 0.5 43 25 .730
WSN 3 1 .750 1.0 15 12 .601
PIT 4 2 .667 1.0 23 19 .587
LAD 4 3 .571 1.5 42 26 .706
STL 3 3 .500 2.0 38 28 .636
MIL 3 3 .500 2.0 21 29 .356
COL 3 3 .500 2.0 35 51 .334
NYM 2 3 .400 2.5 14 12 .570
PHI 2 4 .333 3.0 18 28 .308
SDP 2 4 .333 3.0 32 40 .399
MIA 1 3 .250 3.0 18 23 .390
ARI 2 5 .286 3.5 33 47 .344
ATL 0 5 .000 4.5 17 38 .187

 

The Cardinals…like all teams…must continue to “turn over” the roster….but I was really surprised when I looked at the roster for the start of the 2014 season…just 3 years ago…not ONE of these 5 OF on opening day 2014 are still with the team! The bullpen has dropped 5 of the guys ..which is not too surprising..but who was …is…K.Butler?  The starting rotation stll has 3 of the 5 in our starting staff… and 4 if you count the natural progression of Martinez from pen to starter. In the infield  only subs– Tony Cruz ,Mark Ellis, Pete Kozma & Daniel Descalso have left from the infield

2014 Opening Day MLB 25-Man Roster

Infield—                      Outfielders                        Starting Rotation                   Bullpen

C- Molina                 LF- Holliday                        Wainwright                               LHP-Choate

1b-Adams                 CF-Bourjos                          Lynn                                             RHP-Neshek

2b-Wong                   RF-Craig                               Kelly                                             RHP-Rosenthal

3b-Carpenter                   Jay                                  S.Miller                                       RHP-Maness

SS-Peralta                     S.Robinson                      Wacha                                         RHP-C.Martinez

IN-Descalso                                                              J.Garcia-DL                                LHP-Siegrest

IF-Kozma                                                                                                                           RHP-K.Butler

C-T.Cruz                                                                                                                              DL: J.Motte

DL-M.Ellis          

 

A quick Blues rush up the ice & other hockey stuff…

..why all the fuss about obtaining Sobotka?   He has won over 60% of his faceoffs…with their usual faceoff man –Stastny– out….the Blues are looking ahead to the playoffs when faceoffs are much more common and more important..

….top 5 Blues players in +/- to this  point..…..here ya go..

Jaden Schwartz +14, Robert Bortuzzo +11, Joel Edmundson +10,Magnus Paajarvi +9, Colton Parayko +7.. seems strange that there are 3 defenseman?

….Vladimir Tarasenko is in a 5 way tie for 5th place in the NHL for  even strength goals with 26…..much to my surprise…former Blue– TJ Oshie has 24 even strength goals…I remember him being a passer more than a scorer in the Lou

….Then….the NHL owners say….”the NHL players will not play in the Olympics…matter closed”.. right!….  I think it may change…while the owners have very legitimate points about missing 3 key weeks of hockey season….already some owners have said that they will release their players during that time….let this percolate a bit longer….there will be a concession or compromise of some sort to accommodate the Olympics..the entire sport really  missed the goal!

 

Establishing a new goal! 

The best basketball recruiter that Mizzou has ever had …ever!  Is Michael Porter Jr….it really does make sense that good players can woo other highly talented players to join them without any other incentive other than to be on a good…probably very good .. team….he seems to have one superstar and 2/3 possible players  in the top 30 ranked players ready to join Mizzou…WOW

 

Other MLB 1st week observations….

….like them or not…the Cubs defense is very good…even after a 2 error day…Schwarber is the only weak defensive player….we talk about their hitting…but their fielding is really superb

…on the other hand for the Cubs, other than the closer Wade Davis, the Cubs bullpen looks worse than last year to me….it’s their Achilles Heel…or Achilles Arm 

….seems like Cincy has made a concerted effort not only to draft good baseball prospects but to sign extremely talented athletes as indicated by two of their pitchers on Friday night.. Amir Garrett & Michael Lorenzen….the starting staff is still a bit thin but the progress in the pen is noticeable…last year Tony Cingrani was the closer…now he’s listed as #3 or #4 out of the pen..I don’t think that they are a playoff team…but they seem improved to me….and we’ll see a lot of them….the Cards host the Reds again for a 3 game set in the last days of April. The Reds  goal is .500 (which would be a huge improvement)

…can’t decide which is more surprising—SF Giants @ 1-5 or Arizona @ 5-1 after 6 games? The Giants team ERA of 5.98 (and that’s including Madison Bumgarners’ 3.00era in 15 of the Giants 49 innings!!) answered my question there…the D-Backs high  .322 team batting average has been the engine that has propelled this 1st week of wins…I don’t lk their closer, Fernando Rodney…I think he’ll be toast by July 1 and dumped from his role…but Zach Greineke has produced two strong games this week so Arizona is hoping that he’ll fulfill their hopes of a dominant starter in 2017.

…so Albert is 1 for 20 to start the season….ugh..he needs 170ish hits for 3000 hits….he may have a tough time making it this year…. last year he had 159 hits in 650 AB… in a “normal” year hitting .250 and getting 600 AB…he’ll get 150 hits… will it drag out anther year? He claims he’s 37 years old…I’m a non-believer of that stat….but he’ll keep playing until he hits the 3000 hit goal!!

 

That’s it for me….I hit my goal….getting you to the bottom.  Have a great week!!