From Norfolk State to Cal-Berkeley by Bob Ryan

It was March 2012…the Mizzou Tigers basketball team was rolling as they began the NCAA tournament seeded #2 in the West. Frank Haith had put behind him the scandals at Miami dealing with Nevin Shapiro as his Tiger team seemed destined for huge success. They were ranked #3 in the USA, 30-4 for the season, Champions of the Big 12 tournament, highest scoring team in the country …. man…like couldn’t be any better. But the very next game seemed to send them down a miserable road for the next 5 years! Shockingly, the Tigers were upset by Norfolk State 86-84 in the 1st round of tournament. From that point on….Tiger bball fortunes have staggered…I’m being kind. …the 2011-12 Frank Haith1st team had 7 seniors, they were 4 of the top 5 scorers on the team scoring 67% of the points. Haith was the AP Coach of the Year…Phil Pressley was a terrific point guard, Laurence Bowers & Ricardo Racliffe were the inside muscles at 6-8 and Marcus Denmon was the leading scorer. The shocking upset sent these Seniors…who had dominated the playing time… packing with a horrible taste in their mouth as well as many sour attitudes

…the 12-13 team still had one starter, Presley, returning but a heavy influx of transfer players (Alex Oriakhi, Earnest Ross, and Keion Bell coming into Mizzou. This trio was expected to contribute immediately. Some did…some did not. Haith’s 2nd team…now in the SEC…Tigers went 23-11, 11-7 in conference…while this was still a “good” year it was a significant dip from 11-12 year. The Tigers fell in Quarterfinals of SEC tourney to Ol’ Miss and again were upset in the 1st round game of the NCAA tournament to Colorado State. But trouble seemed to be simmering…Mike Dixon got removed from school and Laurence Bowers suffered a midseason injury. When he returned later, he really wasn’t the same quality player.

….the 13-14 season for Frank Haith again had 1 starter returning (Jabari Brown) so more transfers filed into Columbia. The real excitement centered around transfereea, Jordan Clarkson, Zach Price and Jabari Brown. The Tigers went 23-12, 9-9 in conference. The Tigers failed to make the NCAA and lost their 2nd round game of the NIT to S. Miss. But…more importantly in Dec 2013, NCAA violations on Level I, II, III, IV were charged against Haith and his Mizzou basketball program. Levels I & II are considered serious by the NCAA. Shortly after season ended, Haith asked for a contract extension when Mizzou declined, Haith bolted to Tulsa University. Leaving the violations behind…and completely unknown to his successor Kim Anderson ..who was hired after determined that they couldn’t’ swallow the asking price for Wichita State’s Greg Marshall.

…Anderson, a Sedalia, MO native was living in his dream job after taking his Cen Missouri team to the NCAA –D2 championship, he failed…pure and simple….coaches are hired to win these days…you aren’t there to “develop” players into men or women. Anderson’s record at Mizzou for 3 seasons was 27-68 and 8-46 in the SEC and required his departure. Was it due to the Peter Principle? Was it an avalanche of restrictions that would prohibited anyone from digging out? Was it poor evaluation of talent? Was it inept recruiting ? Probably it was a combination of all ot them…who knows. While I respect highly Kim Anderson….Mizzou HAD to release him.

….that brings us to Berkeley California and Cuonzo Martin. Martin was raised locally so he has many ties to Missouri. His record @ Cal was 62-39, he finished T-8, T-3 and 5th in his 3 years in the Pac 12. His team lost in the 1st round of NCAA in 2016 and the 1st round of the NIT in 2017. He has demonstrated the ability to recruit and do it legally. He works hard. So from the dismal, dark day in 2012 when Norfolk State upset the Tigers, then the tumultuous 5 years that brought us to Berkeley to hire Cuonzo Martin

….already it appears that the worm has turned for Tiger basketball…how?…well, when Lorenzo Romar was fired…sorry not PC….when Romar was “let go”… in Washington ..a secondary…an important secondary step transpired…Asst Washington Coach Michael Porter (who had only been hired last off season) was released from his contract…importance?….his 6-10 HS Sr son, Michael Porter Jr, is considered the top prospect in the entire USA…and Cuonzo has a good rapport with Porter..in fact.. he’s probably already hired Porter….and….you win the bonus prize too…his younger bro. …JonTay (class of 18) also a top 10 USA prospect has already decommited from Washington…yes…Mizzou will change their entire program….in part…due to the Romar firing in Washington…let’s hope that the next 5 years continue as well as the 1st week has for Cuonzo Martin and for Missouri and Mizzou fans

 

…more Mizzou stuff….

….the hottest news in Columbia is the baseball Tigers! After losing the opening game, Coach Steve Bieser has seen his Tigers rattle off 16 straight wins…including 7 by one run!

He coached @ Vianney & SEMO …where he won 3 consecutive Ohio Valley Conferences. Bieser played professionally and made it to the MLB for 2 seasons…a very unusual event for someone drafted in the 32nd round. His versatility kept him playing professional for 9 years and now the all-around knowledge of all positions is being put to good use as a college coach.

….Mizzou women basketball (21-10) are playing in the NCAA tourney this weekend with their 1st round game against S Florida.

….Missouri received $39,382,365 from the SEC network in February. Mizzou’s total enrollment (undergrad & post-grad) is 33,266. That means that the income from the sports network was worth $1183 per student. Since the total budget is $3 billion, $39m might seem trivial..but not to me..that’s some cash. I would like to raise a yellow flag here about long term payouts from SEC network… ESPN is suffering severe losses in subscribers. In Nov, ESPN dropped 621,000 subscribers – the most in any one month. Will this become a growing issue across the country or any other sports networks? Nothing lasts forever. I remember the days when Friday nights were dominated by boxing.

 

NCAA tourney thoughts …

…So defending NCAA Champion, Villanova racked up 31 wins…the most of any defending NCAA champ only to lose to Wisconsin in the round of 32

…the inconsistencies in the NCAA approaches to NCAA championships….in basketball, champions of conference or conference tournaments are ensured a spot—in football, conference title are meaningless in the choice of the 4 playoff teams; in basketball, the NCAA tournament lasts 3 full weeks …I would have to assume that players miss classes on 10-12 days—in football, the NCAA says it must limit playoffs to 4 teams so that players don’t miss so many classes…and on top of it…the bowls are often during holiday break… reminder…I’ve proposed 8 teams in football playoff—5 champions of the 5 major conferences and 3 wild card teams.

….Wichita State got the shaft in their placement in the brackets…the Shockers were ranked #8 in KenPom and #29 in the RPI but the committed put them @ #38.…so…..winning game 1 put them up against Kentucky in round 2….how many teams in the country can beat Kentucky? 1 ? 2? 3?

….”play in” games are a joke…does anyone in the entire country think that any of those play in teams has ANY change….ANY change…of winning the title….sure…I know that fans love the underdog in the early rounds but ….gimme a break…isn’t 64 teams enough?

….Kansas looks unbelievably strong to me….and to think…at one time…decades ago…Mizzou took a pass on Bill Self

…here’s a suggestion…considering that the NCAA owns the NIT tournament and the NIT tournament where reportedly for the next best 32 teams play at the same time as the NCAA…do any of you know more than 5 of the 32 teams in that tournament….I sure don’t……here’s an idea….bring back the final 8 (elite 8) NCAA teams…to start the next season….This 8 team tourney would be held in a neutral site.

It’d be a fun way to start the next season…sure would beat playing 3 cupcakes to guarantee 3 wins.

…watching all the Aussies playing for St. Mary’s was watching a different style of basketball…clearly they weren’t as athletic as most of the other teams but their fundamentals made them entertaining to me. They won a play-in game, then beat VCU before bowing to Arizona.

 

Missouri HS basketball thoughts

….it was a clean sweep for St. Louis in all the Class 4 and Class 5 championships. Vashon won the Boys 4A, Webster Groves the boys 5A titles. On the Girls side it was Incarnate Word in Class 4 and Kirkwood in Class 5….Congrats to all those coaches who reached the top of the mountain in 2017.

 

Tracking Down the Tiger Coach by Bob Ryan

The Missouri basketball program will be looking for a new head coach following news that Kim Anderson is stepping down after three seasons. I feel that considering that he had absolutely NO idea that the school was under investigation when he signed his contract that the school should create a temporary position for him as they did for Pinkel (who won plenty of games but the “strike” in his last year has scarred Mizzou)….I doubt Mizzou will do it…but it’d be the honorable thing to do to an honorable man.

 

As life moves on…I’d look for proven Head Coaches…if possible from a top level, winning school….those are often very  tough to procure and someone who can really coach….many of the names I hear can recruit but somehow the teams rarely win at a very high level. Now AD Sterck claims that he wants a successful D-1 coach …with experience…..and says that he can double the $1.1m contract that Kim Anderson signed…big deal….the good coaches…really good coaches are up in the $3-4m area…get up with the times…so….here’s my picks if I were Mizzou’s AD…

 

#1 choice– Tom Crean would be my top choice…the folks of Indiana have frowned on his 17 win season this year….it’s not up to their standards…rather haughy….and their memory is very short…just last year he won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16…he’s 50 years old so he has 18 years of head coaching experience (9-Marquette, 9-Indiana) and yet plenty of time remaining in the “prime time” years of his coaching life. He’d be expensive…he earned $3.16 mil but it’s time for Mizzou to put their $$$ where their mouth is….and 1st year head football coach Barry Odum earns $2.35 before coaching as a head coach at any other D-1 School….. while at Marquette, Crean increased attendance by 70%….he’d have that same challenge @ Mizzou… you get what you pay for….he’d be my man that I’d go after hard. To get him:  offer ideas of fresh start, new challenge, escape the unpleasable Hoosier fans, more money (that always seems to workJ, Mizzou needs YOU—a proven winning coach.

 

#2 choice would be a young and up & coming coach….it’d 38 year old Archie Miller (Dayton).In his 6 years as head coach he’s 139-60 (.698) . This year his 24-5 team should reach the NCAA for the 4th straight year….they’ve reached round of 64 (once), round of 32(once) and the Elite Eight in the last 3 years. His current salary of $692,000+ will easily be topped handily. Mizzou did this type of thing long ago when they hired a 32 year old alum named Norm Stewart! To get him: stepping up in prominence, reaching the big-time, huge salary increase

 

#3 choice would be Scott Drew(current Baylor head coach for 14 years-46 years old) has an impressive resume 277-177 (.610)….in his first 3 years @ Baylor he was 21-53…if you wipe out those ‘start over” first 3 years…his mark is 256-124…he has a terrific lineage in coaching (following his Dad footsteps as a successful D-1 coach)..earns $2.7mil so a salary increase would put him up with the top level coaches in the USA…. to get him—time for new challenge, closer to your roots, tougher competition, more money

 

….then I’d go the young guys…on the way up….high potential and with some proven work….but not much……

  • Kevin Keats (UNC-Wilmington) is a Rick Pitino disciple…this 44 year old is in his 1st head coaching position and has elevated an unknown program to the spotlight. His 72-27 record speaks for itself…..Pitino says he has the full package as a coach…he’s 44 years old so…..he’s been around awhile already
  • Will Wade-age 34…coach Chattanooga 2 years (40-25) and last year took over VCU and guided them to a 25-11 mark, this year they are 24—7 but most wins are NOT against the power 5 conferences

..…of these two…I’d prefer Keats strongly…both are unproven at the higher levels as a Head Coach but their credentials seem to “open the door” for them to enter into the fray against the “big boys”

 

I’ve passed on the local favorite sons……Cuonzo Martin(45 years old)…known as a fantastic recruiter but he’s only made the NCAA 1 of his 3 years @ California and has struggled mightily in the Pac-12-14-18-28…. whatever it is now..

Also being bypassed was Lorenzo Romar (58 years old)..he’s been at Washington 15 years now….his current club is 9-21 (so I’m sure Washington would be happy for us to take him off their hands)….he hasn’t been over .500 in conference since 2011-12 season…generally touted as having “terrific”recruiting classes…but….I wonder what happens to them?

…..I’ve reference conference play for both of these coaches since it is in conference competition where opposing coaches have similar athletes the x’s & O’s matter more…neither of these guys have exhibited the ability to outcoach their opposing coaches.

…If Mizzou hires an assistant coach from ANY program….they heard more “NO’s” than a 16 year old wanting to buy a brand new car 

 

A name that has popped up in most accounts is Travis Ford.  This shouldn’t be surprising….as a player, Ford jumped away from Mizzou for “bigger” Kentucky. As a coach, he’s been a climber—Campbellsville, U, E. Kentucky, UMass, Ok State. He parted ways with the Cowboys after 8 years…don’t you love the words that are now used for “fired”?….the last 2 years were very disappointing. So…one would have to surmise that Ford COULD and probably does have interest in a SEC program as opposed to a A-10 team.  I think he’s a good coach and a good recruiter but he always seems to have his bags packed and ready to leave on a jet plane…TU Peter, Paul & Mary.

 

Baseball news from Florida & Arizona..

….most…if not all baseball owners are smiling now….they’ve just learned that Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is likely to sell his team.  Loria has mismanaged (I’m being kind today) the Marlins badly….he’s really making out like a bandit though…he bought the team for $158 mil in 2002 and will have an asking price of around $1.4 to 1.7 BILLION now…sure he spent some money on the stadium, signing Giancarlo Stanton but for the most part he’s kept his hands on his wallet …in his pocket….baseball will be better off without him…it’s the ol’ addition by subtraction idea.

….the continuing back ailment of Matt Carpenter may be the only reason that Matt Adams still has the Birds on the Bat on HIS jersey…this isn’t new for Carp…he’s faced back issues for a couple years now….most of you MUST have noticed his back stretching moves each time he enters the batters  box

…the two step delivery… has been outlawed by MLB…in the two-stepper…the pitcher hops forward off the pitching plate with his rt foot (about a 10-14 inches) and THEN takes the step with his left foot….thus he actually shortens the distance by a foot or so on his pitch…not many use it…I do think that Jonathan Broxton is one of them…not 100% sure however….I kept yelling “balk” on every pitch as I watched at home….at least until the General got tired of hearing it 

…the Cards GM, John Mozeliak, has too much invested in Kolton Wong…his scouting of him, signing to a 5 years contract….it appears that he may feel obligated to give Wong any possible chance ….at least this season 

…Speaking of GM MO….he’s been the GM for 10 years already…I wondered if that was a Cardinal longevity record for general managers… not even close….Branch Rickey was the Cardinal GM from 1919 to 1942…of course Mr. Rickey is credited for building the outstanding teams in the 20’s and the 40s.  When he left…he was pushed out… he went to Brooklyn and built the Dodgers into their 50’s dynasty.

…if the most recent Cardinal Cuban signee Aroldis Garcia is as good as their signing bonus indicates….the Cards expect Garcia to have a booming bat as an OF….if that pans out..we could have major reshuffling so… there are 2 possibilities….Garcia shoves aside Fowler into a backup role in a year (assuming Grichuk  & Piscotty hit this year) or…one of this group play 1b and Carp goes back to 3B

 

….odds & ends…..

…..I had the chance to announce the outstanding OT STATE Sectional game between the St. Mary’s Dragons & the Vashon Wolverines….it was a tremendous game with the Wolverines winning in OT…many tremendous players and athletes on the court for both teams….both well coached….if you want a glimpse…

…I’m not an NBA fan but ANY basketball fan has to tip their hat to Dirk Nowitzki. This 38 year old NBA player whose played in Dallas his entire pro career…still playing in the NBA at 38 should be a record in itselfJ…broke the 30,000 point barrier. He’s the 6th player to achieve that lofty plateau….Kareem, Karl Malone, Kobe, Michael Jordan, Wilt and now Dirk…he also has 10000+ rebounds and 3000+ assists.  I seldom hear his name in the top 10 NBA players of all-time…but maybe he should be there

…at the HS hockey level in St. Louis, it’s been CBC for a long time now.  The Cadets won their 4th straight title with a 4-1 win over SLUH. It was ….amazingly… the 12th title in the last 17 years—WOW! Congrats to all around especially the coaching staff—Head Coach-John Jost and his two outstanding assistants—Randy Staub and Nic Carosello.

….I gave you notice a few weeks ago about the new Mizzou baseball Coach. Coach Steve Bieser has turned the Tigers into a machine…a winning machine. The Tigers have jumped out to a 14-1 record …keep your eyes on them

…the Blues will need to upgrade “down the middle” this off season. Their center-ice-men are capable but none are really of the “higher” levels.  I’m not a hockey expert but I can’t remember really good teams not having ANY very strong play from their center of their forward lines

…a final local HS note….Incarnate Word Academy has reached the STATE basketball semifinals tor its 8th straight year! The only constant has been the Head Coach Dan Rolfes…congrats to him and the Red Knights.

 

I’m done tracking now…..btw…this is about as close as I’ll ever come to hunting ANYTHING down 

Bob Awards by Bob Ryan

Prior to the BOB award show …some other more serious Cardinal spring training observations and  thoughts…that is……as if sports is EVER serious?

…Mike Leake looked terrific in 1st outing…but….if you watch the clip….almost all of the swings & miss …and there were many….were pitches out of the strike zone….I would think that hitters in mid-season will lay off of those type of pitches.

…..I think that Trevor Rosenthal will start the season as our “bridge” man…i.e. get us from starter (6th inning or so) to mid-8th or 9th inning.  A guy who does that could really “save” the bullpen.…without getting any “saves”

…I guess it was Senior Citizens Day on Thursday in Florida…the Cards started Adam Wainwright (35 years old, 134 wins) vs Bartolo Colon (43 years old, 233 wins)….I would have never guessed that Colon has 99 MORE wins than Wainwright! Our home-town perspective often blinds us.

….I’m just saying…Tommy Pham will be 29 when the season opens….isn’t it time to find a younger backup for the OF? Tommy hit .226 last year and struggles against RHP. The Cards thinking has always been to keep “younger” guys in minors to increase their game experience.. which is a sound idea…but when you’ve hit 25 and ur still taking bus rides in the minors…you aren’t going to be a MLB star..by younger…I mean 24-25ish …that’s the type of guy that I’m thinking should be our OF backup

….despite all the raving about Sandy Alcatara….possibly except for multiple injuries to starting pitchers in Florida, he has a very slim chance of sticking with the club…at least at the start of the season (see below…the info on becoming arbitration eligible)

……They talk about it all the time…but it’s still very hazy….at least to me….Here’s the real scoop on when MLB’ers become eligible for arbitration…it’s based on service time. Service time is, very simply, a running count of how long you’ve been on a a major league roster(or the DL)…not how many games you’ve played.

 

  • 172 service days = 1 service year–Players max out at 172 service days/year; seasons usually have 183 service days
  • Players needs six full years of service to reach free agency
  • Players need about 2.130 years of service to reach arbitration or 366 days of being on MLB roster…so…if I’m concerned about player A becoming eligible too early….I keep him down in minors…bring him up in June/july/Sept—make it 98 days. Do the same the following year so you have burned 196 days ..that leaves you 170 days…for the 3rd year (note a year maxes out at 172 days)..gain yourself another year prior to eligibility that’s why they fly these guys up a day prior to game…and then put him on the  roster the day he pitches…save those days!!!

 

 

It’s time for the BOB Award…the BEST Of Ball or in some cases—the BUMMERS Of Ball!  You’ll have no trouble distinguishing one from the other. Some…maybe many … the tongue in cheek policy has been employed…here goes the Bob Awards and the 1st presenter is Steve Harvey.

Steve Harvey, “It’s a pleasure being here for the prestigious BOB awards. I’m hoping that the teleprompter’s work better than the 2016 Miss America Pagent! Let’s start…so far ..so good

 

“The Winner of the The Steady-Eddie Performer of Cards is Stephen Piscotty.  Piscotty had 153 games, 649 plate appearances, hit .273, OPS of .800, 22HR, 85 RBI and steaks of all kind were limited…..that’s right, we didn’t need him streaking

 

“The winner of the Titanic Award for being the biggest disappointment in 2016 is…..Jason Heyward!” Of course, the Cardinal fans smirked the entire season of his batting average while the Cubs fans bit their lip as Hayward hit .230, just 7 HR, 93 strikeouts with 122 hits.. that strikeout to hit ratio is similar to many that I’ve coached in grade school baseball

 

Steve chuckles as he says, “ Here’s a good one…the prize for Where size matters Award…this should be good…..oh…. oh… really…..and the winner is the NHL.. it’s there that the  gigantic cities who can generate more local money have a distinct advantage over mid-size cites.. clearly the lack of huge national TV contract is a decisive factor in this wide discrepancy between large vs mid-size or small

 

“The Winner of the Pinocchio Award is……..Kevin Shattenkirk who infers  that Parayko and Pietrangelo would be expanding their games and ever-so-slightly  moving him out of key roles….cut it out….it was money….huge money pure and simple…that’s OK….I’d probably do the same but don’t concoct other reasons.  Congratulations Kevin…well…I made it…” said Steve Harvey as he exited quickly…..but wait 2 minutes later…Harvey returned, head down

“ I’m so sorry folks..it happened again….the real winner of the Pinocchio Award for 2016 goes to N. Korea. After losing 2-0 to Germany in Womens’ world Cup a few years ago, N. Korean Coach Kim Kwang-Min said his players were tired because they’d been hit by lightning at training match. Really??   Folks….this one takes the cake….and I’m exiting stage left”  Steve Harvey departs wiping the egg off his face again.  Bob Ryan will now present some awards without any quotes

 

The winner of the Budweiser Award for aging overnight is Brett Favre…when I look at him now, he looks old..real old to me…but he played as recently in the NFL in 2010! Makes one wonder if the NFL players agree to let the ol’ QB who has faced many blitzes in their day get a break from the pass rush late in their career?

 

The winner of the Rex Hudler Fans Award for 2017…is Greg Garcia …the winner of this award generally is white….does not play too often and really not  too well…. has a good week about once every 2 months…. usually it means he can sacrifice bunt, runs out ground balls, seldom strikes out, makes few errors, signs autographs willingly, smiles.

 

The winner of the Pink-Bunny Award for continuing to “keep ticking” is Yadi Molina…Yadi claims he’s 34 ….he’s been in the MLB since 2004, he’s played 1611 games but last  year’s totals of  .307, 147 games (most ever), 581 plate appearances (most ever), 164 hits (most ever) makes us believe that he’s ticking along..and along…and along….and along

 

The winner of the Judge & Jury Award goes to Rick Pitino….last year when Louisville was caught red-handed in violations, Judge Rick Pitino, whose club was much weaker than normal, “accepted” not going to the NCAA tourney for THAT year…so that he’d be eligible THIS year (when his team was better)…what did he really lose?

 

The winner of the Jethro Bodine(Beverly Hillbillies) Award for mental ability—Draymond Green(Warriors) after many  of his “smart” statements to the press reveal  a shallow side to him…mostly above the shoulders….but….let’s be positive…Green is a great athlete, period.

 

A final presenter will be Warren Beatty. Right off the Oscars, Warren is attempting to rescue his name for the totally inept Oscars performance……here’s Warren…”thank you, thank you (did you notice that everyone says thank you twice in the media?)…now to more awards.”

 

“The winner for the most over-rated sports fans is…as he tears open the envelope…he looks around and says hesitantly, “Is this some type of joke?   The answer here is “La-La Land”..no worries Warren ..just continue, you’re doing just fine…it IS the correct answer….why?….sure LA has millions and millions of people but what % are real fans….heck…we can all follow, support, brag about winners…is that being a real “fan”…go ahead Warren….is this case…La-La Land WAS the correct answer.

 

Warren continues with more poise now, “The winner of the “Best job in the MLB or any sports” ….and the winner is Eugene Koo. Warren proudly exits stage right, head held high, his signature smile flashing across his face. Koo is the translator of Seung Hwan Oh….let’s see… he’s used on the mound about once a month and is a personal assistant for OH the remaining time….he travels around the USA, has time to sight-see, visit, hang-out while the company picks up his tab..or his boss does….seems like a good choice….but wait  Warren is trudging back with his head down…..Beatty looks up, “It’s wrong….wrong again…how could it be? …again….anyway the winner is Bob Ryan”…how could you beat this “job”! I’m very lucky to have this opportunity. Thanks for making it to the end of BOB Awards Show

 

Madness in Sports by Bob Ryan

Madness around the sports world….

….Kevin Garnett set off many basketball folks when he said  “AAU has killed our league” recently…I will grant you that the very, very good players have improved with all the traveling, competition, etc as they play spring & summer AAU ball. For the many “good” players, it seems to me that they are “picking up the freight” as the costs get doled out. From my view, most of the player at this level(vast majority of players are NOT NBA bound), are being misled about their skills.  From a playing point of view, no question that individual skills are emphasized and have improved all players at the cost (to me) of team play, situational play, passing, real individual & team defense. The Me-Me attitude prevails …and in my view…encouraged… in AAU…so surprisingly, I am agreeing with Kevin Garnett.  The epitome of AAU basketball was the so-called NBA all-star game….what a complete joke to call that a basketball game…I’ve seen better defense in a 3rd grade game.

…speedup baseball by removing intentional walks…what a “mad” approach…there were 932  intentional walks last year (season has 2430 total games)…so its 1 intentional walk every 2.6 games….come on 2 min every 2.6 games….boy….that’ll make a real difference!  Whitey Herzog points out that the number of pitches in a game has increased dramatically in recent years…so the length of the game has increased dramatically….how do you prevent that….easy…throw more strikes..and umpires call more strikes….the top of the strike zone isn’t the belt..it’s mid chest…any part of the ball over any part of the plate is a strike…do that and you’ll have more action….and….it’d help the hitter!!..here’s proof…back in 2008 a statistician compared hitters who hit the ball on 1st pitch vs 7th pitch or longer… For one-pitch at-bats the slash line was .344/.349/.543 for an OPS of .892; for seven or more pitches, it was .230/.406/.372 and .778. Get up there to hit!

….real “madness” from the losing Super Bowl team… Mohamed Sanu of Atlanta Falcons has the feeling that his team blew their huge lead to the Pats due to the long halftime! It definitely did,” Sanu said.  I guess that the Patriots had a shorter one, heh?  This guy is really reaching for straws…

….maybe…maybe…the Cardinals were too tight last year…all the music, glad-handing, high 5’s, no cliques (what is this Jr high?) and generally good spirt being emphasized this year is fine….as long as you win!  Losing teams look foolish doing all of that stuff.  The “mad” idea that fun wins instead of talent is a bit “mad”

….the madness of using Kolton Wong in the outfield…no less at a windy Wrigley Field last year…still haunts Birds as Wong’s injured shoulder from that ill-advised OF day…still bothers him this spring

….”madness ruled in Florida” as a rain delay took place in the Reds-Indians opening pre-season game…that’s unusual enough in Florida ….but it was a totally different type of rain delay…the sprinkler system went haywire as both teams were ready to begin the bottom of the 8th inning

 

It’s that time of the year….college basketball takes center stage for a month of basketball.  The one & done thought lingers in the back of every player, coach, AD’s mind.  It’s heavy stakes…huge money involved for school, coach…hopefully not player J…recruiting is impacted by success, coaches resumes may get fattened or squashed in this month…it’s March Madness! Now…here’s a fun thing….I’ll give you the stats for 5 college coaches…but not their names…decide which coach that you’d hire….we’re not considering age, salary, or other factors other than their record….just their stats…here goes..

Coach A: 600+ WINS, 1 NCAA championship, 2x-final four, 16x-regular season champs, 8x conf tourney championships

Coach B: 900+ wins, 1 NCAA championship, 5X final four, 8x regular season champs, 5X  conf tourney championships

Coach C: 600+ wins, 1 NCAA championship, 6x final four, 12 regular season champ,  12x  conf tourney champ

Coach D:  800+ wins, 2 NCAA championship, 8x final four, 15 regular season champ,  7 conf tourney champ

Coach E: 700+ wins, 2 NCAA championship, 7x final four, 8 regular season champ, 12 conf tourney champ

Now…obviously…all these guys are good….real good…so you couldn’t go too far wrong on any of them..but sometimes I think we have a predisposed idea about how good/great a coach is…maybe we like his style, his pizzazz, his clothes, his ability to talk in a mic, his showmanship … whatever…now you’re judging them on their record only…answers at bottom.  We’ll talk more about brackets in the coming weeks.

Other coaching notes…

…heard Dabo Swiney (Clemson football coach) on the radio recently…this Alabama guy has it together…he was fascinating, down-to-earth, sincere and had some of those good ol’ Southern expressions to make his 18 minute interview fly by for me.

….Edwardsville’s softball/girls basketball coach, Lori Blade has reached historic levels as a coach.  I don’t’ believe that there will be another one like her. She has won 600+  games as a softball coach and 600+ games as a girls basketball coach. An intense coach, masterful at developing players, forming teams, maximizing skills…should I keep going on?….think about that ….1200 wins! WOW! I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Coach Blade and …after many attempts….convincing her to play in the Prepcasts Girls Shootout years ago….It was unbelievable for me to see her use her high level of coaching skills in person….and she’s like the pink bunny….still ticking 

…also heard Army Head Football Coach, Jeff Monken.  That name rang a bell…but I couldn’t place it…it turns out that 5 of his uncles coached HS Football…including at least 1 on the East Side—Jim Monken…man, it’s a small world.

 

 Bits from Around Town…

…SLU Womens’ basketball did not win the A-10 championship, but the Lady Bills have really been an exciting team to watch this year …and last year….The Billikens were 26-8 last year and lost in 3rd round of WNIT. Expectations were much higher this hear as Confernce Player of the Year-Jackie Kempf was returning for her Junior year. In 2016-17, the Lady Bills are 22-7 including their signature win over Mizzou. After an embarrassing 94-65 loss to Duquesne on Jan 18, the Bills are 8-2 and both losses were tight (one in OT, the other by 3 pts)….keep it rolling  Coach Stone through the A-10 tourney and any post-season tournament. Btw…Coach Stone is only the 7th coach in the 41 year history of the women’s program.

….Congratulations to former HS coach and long-time current high school basketball referee,  Vince DeGreeff , who will be celebrating with his teammates this weekend, the 50th anniversary of their NAIA National Championship (3/18/1967) for St Benedict’s College, (Atchison, Kansas). Vince along with his St Louis teammate Darryl Jones will be honored at a banquet in Kansas City by the Benedictine College board of directors and quests. St Benedict’s won 71-65 versus Oklahoma Baptist despite 47 points by future pro Al Tucker.

….Izzy Farrell, Sr-Fox High school…broke the school basketball record for scoring this week….no not the girls record…the school record!…it’s very unusual at a co-ed school to have a female scoring leader…kudo’s to her!!

 

Oh yea….those coaches listed above…who do YOU choose if you wanted a coach for a season (or longer)?…A-Bill Self;  B- Jim Boeheim; C-John Calipari; D-Roy Williams; E-Rick Pitino

 

Enough madness…back to the daily world (and more madness)

 

Spring Winds of Sports by Bob Ryan

The Spring winds  of sports come blowin in ….with the temp breaking into the 60’s-70’s comfortably, sun shining, winds blowing in from across the sea (thank You Francis Albert Sinatra)…man…it’s like spring….and Spring has also blown in all kinds of stuff for the sports world…

….OK…I’m eating my crow pie….the Blues DO look like a different team…and they are! Coach Yeo changed to zone defense, brought up an entire line from the Wolves (Blues minor league team)-this line made us quicker, fresher legs and we have a real 3rd line now, he wants more puck possession, seemed to “reach” the vets about doing all the little things that make you a winner..bravo!! Keep it up and treat us to another long post-season.

…Cards loss of Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery is significant. The 22 year old was named the best right-handed prospect in Major League Baseball heading into 2017 per MLB.com… the Cards have tried downplaying the year that he’ll miss due to the injury….but on Oct 4th , 2016 in the post-season review—Mo said, “Clearly people like Reyes and Martinez are exciting. They have a chance to be top-of-rotation starters so that’s reassuring”….with a pitching staff  that wallowed through the pitching waters like they were pulling along the Admiral in 2016 (in last 6 weeks of the season, all of the Cards starters had ERA’s over 5.00;  for the season, the starting rotation’s ERA ballooned 44.8 percent to 4.33 and the runs allowed elevated 35.6 percent from 525) the Cards were counting heavily on Reyes with Martinez at the top of the rotations…despite their denials…

So…why or how did this UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament)  injury occur to Reyes. Research on the subject according to FanGraphs —there were 6 risk factors that could be used to predict UCL reconstruction surgery. These risk factors were 1) Fewer days between consecutive games, 2) smaller repertoire of pitches, 3) a less pronounced horizontal release location, 4) smaller stature, 5) greater mean pitch speed, and 6) greater mean pitch counts per game. How did Alex Reyes measure up in these risk factors? In  #1-4 listed above, Reyes was well within the parameters of safety.  However, he was above average in mean pitch speed but in recent studies of the UCL revealed that off-speed pitches thrown at a higher speed (Reyes threw an 88 mph change up) could represent significant stress on the UCL…remember Reyes’ first words, “ I had just thrown an off speed pitch”…..does it matter…not really …but it may help pitchers in the future follow a different set of parameters to help their arms remain sound…I’ll take over my MD jacket now 

So ….how serious is the Surgery named after the former Dodger pitcher?  NONE…not one of the last 10 Cy Young Award Winners  had Tommy John (Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Jake Arrieta, Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez.)..several other significant pitchers with dominant seasons during the same time frame like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee, Chris Sale and Cole Hamels –were also “Tommy John Free” . Some experienced starters who had the surgery in or after mid-career ..have come back  with good seasons ( John Smoltz, David Wells, Tim Hudson, John Lackey and our very own Chris Carpenter)…but… here’s the scary part….the result is mixed for young starters who had this surgery…..some came all the way back…some most of the way..some part of the way…some had shorter, undistinguished careers.. make your own evaluations—Darren Dreifort (1994)-top prospect who became a trivia answer, Eric Gagne (1996)—converted to reliever after surgery, Odalis Perez (1999)-who?,Kerry Wood (1999)-shorter, up & down career; Anibal Sanchez—not a super level but has been good for a long time (245 starts); Dustin McGowan – bust: Jaime Garcia—no comment needed; Jordan Zimmerman (2009)—has come back and been very successful…and the list goes on further…. but you have the idea.

So…as the spring winds blow in…which MLB team did the best in the dreary winter days?  According to FanGraphs.com … the White Sox did the best at reshaping their team….of course…they were a last place team…so they can only go in one direction..anyway.. …the ChiSox were actually listed as #1 and #10 team since they completed two major trades… when they traded super starter Chris Sale they received in return RHP Michael Kopech & Inf Yoan Moncada + two others..days later they acquired RHP Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning for Adam Eaton. Derek Holland was added for additional pitching…so this last place team won’t win the series this year but …it seems that they’ve “gone all in” for starting pitching (like the Mets did a couple years ago)…at #2 for the off season–the Rays trade for Jose DeLeon from LA bolsters their staff with a guy who appears to be with them for the full 6 years prior to “big money time”…sending Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers was losing a good-solid – but not superstar player who hits free agency in 2 years….free agency to the Tampa Bay franchise is code word for “bye-bye” since they don’t have the payroll to keep their stars…further down the list at #8 is the Cubs as they acquired Wade Davis to be their closer…after renting  Chapman for 3 months and having a bare, nervous bullpen, Davis’ 1 year deal makes him important but not a long term payroll albatross. Several other “reshaping” numbers revolved around teams resigning their own players….I don’t  get how that is “RE-shaping” a team…it seems more like keeping them together.

Spring winds of sports have also blown in some debris too…

….Janoris Jenkins…you remember him…took him 5 years of inept Ram play before he stopped getting fooled by the double moves….he’s become an Unofficial GM now….self appointed… GM Jenkins is now advising the NYG during the Super Bowl events to keep together the entire defense…resign all the free agents and “we’ll make something happen”. He continues with the idea that not signing back your free agents  makes it tougher as he says, “Keep everybody together. That’s why teams don’t ever go back to back. Or back to back to back.” ..no that’s not a typing misprint, Mr. Jenkins talks like that 

….I had the chance to cover Sophie Cunningham when she starred @ Rock Bridge HS(Columbia, MO)  in the Girls Championships. It was a very, very  good team (4 starters went on to play college basketball) but she was the “go-to” person at crunch time. She’s moved just slightly down the road to Mizzou.  She is really a terrific basketball player….most women sports don’t get anyway near as much coverage as the men so few may know of her.  She’s been the leader of the outstanding Mizzou women’s program that drew over 5000 fans last night…congrats to her and the Lady Mizzou Tigers!

….Apparently Nick Saban was auditioning Steve Sarkisian for Off Coordinator while Lane Kiffin was still around…when Kiffin was shoved off to Atlantic Coast College…or some other name close to that…Saban actually talked with Sakisian…after the talks..it was clear that they weren’t on the same Bama page…so Sarkisian…hoping to keep his head attached prior to Saban pulling the guillotine on him like he did to Kiffin…bolted for Atlanta Falcons..Saban has put forth the idea that the relationship between the two of them had deteriorated amid disagreements of ‘system philosophy’ .Does it really matter who calls the plays at Alabama ?

…for the most part, the NBA is dead around the Lou…so little..if any NBA news appears here…but Draymond Green made NBA history…he was the 1st player to  EVER have a triple double with fewer than 10 points! He scored but 4 points but had 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals…btw his Golden State Warrior team defeated the Grizzlies 122-107..now YOU are really ready for the Sports Trivia question next year 

….you figure it….Brandon Phillips turned down trade offers all last year….now he agrees to go to the Atlanta Braves…the woeful Atlanta Braves…why would he do that? The only reason that I can think of has two parts—1) Reds had told him that they were cutting back his time; 2) Atlanta is the only team that would take him ?

…we all know that Kevin Shattenkirk won’t be with the Blues next year…he’s a Free Agent at the end of the year and they can’t afford the price that he’s demanding….so….the Blues haven’t hidden the fact that they would like to trade him….only a contender would want him…but those contenders don’t’ want to give up other quality players (since they are all hoping to go deep in playoffs)…so Blues should expect a high draft pick and a “top prospect” or 2 in return..

….good, quality MLB catchers are hard to find….yet free agent Matt Wieters (Balt) is still on the market…He’s 30 years old, hit .243 (so-so) with 17 HR,66 rbis, was an All-Star….now he is coming off of a hefty $18mil contract but…sign him for 1 year …even at that salary….he’s gone like the wind after 2017..it could end up being NY Mets, Tampa Bay or Florida

…I’m excited that Mizzou has hired Steve Bieser as their Head Baseball Coach….I met and observed his baseball coaching skills from 2004-2009 @ Vianney….he then moved to SEMO and had 3 consecutive conference championships there…he is using newer, modern techniques to advance the skill levels of his players….it’ll be fun to watch this year.

…when Travis Ford reloads his roster next year with several outstanding recruits and transfers and the ability of this team to move up in the standings despite limited ability…I’m looking for a top 3 finish in the Atlantic 10 (which has 14 teams)  for the Bills in 2017-18

…It’s nothing really new….but maybe the most overlooked attribute of Nick Saban is his ability to recruit….according to Scout.com…his signings have been ranked in the following way:  2008-#1; 2009-#2; 2010-#4; 2011-#7;  2012-#2;  2013-#4; 2014-#1, 2015-#2; 2016-#1 and this year-2017#1. Winning big..very big….. makes it much easier to sell….like this…  every recruiting class since 2008 has played in a national championship game AND Bama has seen more of its players drafted over the last 6 years than any school in the nation—44 players!

 

Well…. the spring winds are blowing me out now…

 

 

 

 

Hack … was it enough by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals were handed down a punishment for one of their employees “hacking” the Houston Astros data base….this is like stealing the St. Peter’s bones from the Vatican!  The MLB Comish fined them $2mil and they were forced to hand over the #2 and #3 round picks of 2017 to Houston…..oh…btw…Chris Correa is behind bars for 4 years.  I think that the Cards got off easy…real easy…..why…

…..what did Correa do?   Prosecutors said Chris Correa, who was the Cards scouting director(only 35 years old), repeatedly accessed scouting notes and other data from an internal Astros database, dubbed “Ground Control,” starting in 2013. Government attorneys said Correa continued to view the information and saw at least 188 pages of confidential information ranging from trade discussions and player evaluations to other details meant for the Houston Astros only. Correa’s unauthorized viewing of the Astros data cost the Houston team upwards of $1.7 million. So…let’s break it down to South Side talk….the guy stole information on many different occasions on athlete information  and evaluations…and he did it repeatedly.  The MLB estimates that it cost the Astros $1.7mil….how would you come up with that figure unless you knew specifically which players info was swiped? Correa did all this while working for the Cardinals.

….MLB’s decision of a $2mil fee to Houston….chump change to MLB teams…StL signed a $1billion, 15 years TV contract in 2015…Cards also lost a couple draft picks…neither being the #1 pick of 2017 because the Cards …reading the crystal ball and could see this coming….signed Fowler which forces them to trade their #1 pick. Sure the money goes to Houston..so what…they don’t need money…they need good players.  If you have a roster that propels you to the  post-season, the money will flow.

….now jumps up my cynicism…I can’t believe that in their many discussions about players the Correa provided deep data and highly detailed information…that not ONE executive above Correa ever asked him,”So how do you know that?” Maybe I’ve been watching too many TV shows with conspiracies 

….what a deal for the Cards….you pilfer info on 188 pages from a different organization….how many different players do you think were evaluated in 188 pages…I don’t know but it’s more than 2 guys (# of draft picks lost)….the Cards could combine, compare and contrast the Houston info with their own info…and it really becomes valuable.  What do you lose? For 1 year a #2 and #3 pick and some cash…heck…..do you really think that will deter others from trying to steal data from another team?  I don’t’….my penalty idea….since the MLB is a novice in handing out punishments like this for stealing data…although you can steal signs during the game? …why not emulate the courts ruling…where they DO have experience in that type of thing….they put Correa behind bars for basically 4 years…so I, as commissioner,  would have issued a penalty that paralleled  the courts penalty…the Cards would have lost their #1 pick for 4 years + a fine every year for 4 years(same as Correa)….. Your thoughts? Comment section on bottom  of article. There is not right or wrong…everyone has an opinion.

 

….Ironically….I wrote this top part of the article early last week….our site-Prepcasts was hacked! My title of Brady or Belichick was changed to something like “Hacked by DB3 893203” or something like that.The article had been modified with all types of foul, vulgar language. It was  all deleted. The original article was put back up with a slightly different title and was also hacked and removed. Unfortunately …attached to each article are the responses…they also were deleted….what a shame….there were over 30 responses that ranged across the board.  I have been able to add some late comments …sent to me on email or messenger…but if you are looking for your comment and it was posted prior to Friday…it’s gone…darn…THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR RESPONSES.  They were terrific!! Now…you can respond to the top paragraph and not feel like you’re getting ignored.

….Interestingly, Belichick in an interview said that if he could have any QB, other than Brady, it would be Bert Jones….he played 1973-82…was a Pro-Bowl player once, the league MVP once in 1976 ..his career was shortened due to the many injuries suffered …ya just never know what Belichick will say…when he talks 

 

What a fantastic Super Bowl! No….I wasn’t rooting for the Pats… I just wanted a good game.  It WAS a great game….here’s some thoughts on the game…

….Atlanta’s 1st half pass rush clearly affected Brady….in the 2nd half it was negated. How come? the 5 wide out sets used by NE in 2nd half limited the number of pass rushers available to use….the huge D-lineman of Atlanta were on the field a long time and fatigued…NE employed their short passing game requiring less time to release the pass

…in some texts from my family members …some were upset with the 3 holding calls on Atlanta in one of the drives…couple things…I suspect that the NE coaches had been in the ears of the officials to “watch” that guy….2nd…the D-back has to adjust after the 1st penalty called on him…can’t do it 2 more times!  Other than those rash of penalties…I thought that there were few penalties …at least by NFL standards…Belichick is a really clever coach….some points in case…as his wideouts tired in 4t quarter…he inserted a fresh, fast untested rookie(to replace Edelmann) who caught several passes…he replaced the power running back with a speedier one for the same reason…he did this as Atlanta’s defense was on the field for much of the 2nd half and there entire team seemed to be moving in a slower gear than the 1st half. Belichick also had his KO man kick it higher…and shorter.. so it landed in the field of play…making Atlanta return the KO.  On at least 2 occasions, the runner barely made it back to the 10 yard line..not the 20..make the field longer

..Atlanta’s 9th drive was the back-breaker…a truly unbelievable catch by Julio Jones put the ball clearly in FG range… a sack and a penalty(clear hold) pushed the Falcons out of range.  Not 2nd guessing here…I told the general at the time…Falcons should run the ball…they are close enough.. chew up time…kick FG..forget the stats…win the game.

…Brady never seemed to lose his cool…even when the score was lopsided….

…Lady Gaga was entertaining at half… her energy was high, fast-moving, light show was entertaining…staying true to herself her  renditions  of “This land is your Land” (Woody Guthrie was probably smiling) and “Born this Way” pleased her fans….frankly….I had a hard time understanding her words through most of her songs…and since I don’t know the lyrics to the songs..I only caught bits and pieces…it went by me…as most things do J

…the post-game ceremony had some REAL unusual stuff….so the NFL adopts to the hockey version of each guy skating around the rink with the cup…they have a person carry the trophy between winning players on the way to the podium…Willie McGinest (former Patriot)….kept dropping F-bombs as he urged the players to “kiss the ___”..surprisingly to me…the NFL kept the sound on for several minutes to hear Willie’s proclamations..then Roger Dumbnall couldn’t get off of the stage quick enough….his job was to present the trophy to Robert Kraft…the fans booed him loudly and continually…Rogers’ handoff was like a Brady handoff…quick 


It was CYA for Doug Armstrong…So…some one had to go…. Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties(1 game short of tying Al Arbour for #3 in all-time wins)….maybe his message was getting old, or maybe he got old, or maybe his hard suggestions were too demanding for the club, or maybe the players just arent’ good enough(Armstrong’s responsibilities)…who knows….however, it seemed strange to me that his successor was hired even before the season began…I’ve never heard of that arrangement previously….we hire your successor while you’re still coaching…did they anticipate this early departure? Or what?….This is coming off the best Blues season in 25 years!…I don’t believe that Hitch has gone “backwards” in hockey knowledge or his love for the game has diminished, and he still motivates in the same grumpy way …. He just doesn’t have the same quality players as last year….maybe they weren’t stars in 15-16 but they played hard and played as a team….To me…Doug Armstrong seems to be more culpable for the quick descent of the Blues..this 16-17 team is too soft, too erratic in goaltending, some of the older players have “aged badly and quickly” in just the last year…e.g. Steen, Stastney…our defensemen are smooth skaters (who don’t score but play extensive minutes most games) but can they move men out from in front of the net?…..making a move now is to “shake up” the players(it’s like a boxer getting refreshed between rounds…how long will this shake up last?)…and to alert the fans…. This season is likely to be very disappointing for you…as if it isn’t already…and for Armstrong to hang on a bit longer! Ahh…do you remember when fans complained because we lost in the playoffs for 25 straight years..generally in the 1st or 2nd round(80-04)….even that would look good now 

 

I came across an interesting chart….I’ve always wondered, “how many people are actually watching the Cardinal games on TV?”.   According a 2014 chart –Prime Time TV Ratings Chart with average number of ratings, the Cards were 8th  in the league. My reference  chart showed that the Cards averaged 103,000 viewers during prime time of 2014—seems low to me.  The #1 team…NY Yankees averaged 254,000 per game…who was last—Miami Marlins…those poor fish had an average of 29,00 per game watching in prime time TV.  Now…this is not official. My data was taken from a chart written by a guy in Cincinnati who claims the sources were Fox Sports and Multichannel.com…final qualifier of the chart…the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros data was unavailable.

 

…Carlos Martinez signs for 5 years…generally I’m opposed to any 5 year contract to pitchers…too much risk of injury or too old ..most of these huge contracts take place after the pitcher has reached 27 or 28…so the 30’s bug will catch up to him late in the contract….however in this case, Martinez is only 25 years old…the contract for $51m looks solid…the Cards have option years at $17m & $18m….this signing makes him the true ace of the staff….I like that he’s thrown down the gauntlet that he wants to start on opening day…a symbolic gesture that establishes the ace (at least at the start of the season) ..his contract is a quantum leap from his $539,000 contract of 2016…in addition to his pitching….his “water throwing” in the dugout after HR seem to be a good “fun” thing for the club….especially after July 1…it took the vets about 3 months to get adjusted to this new ritual 

 

Super Week is behind us now…..on deck—spring training! I’d love to read YOUR thoughts on my penalty for the Cards in the Correa case…

 

 

 

 

CSDHL Prelims and Championships again on www.prepcasts.com

WE are pleased to announce that the tradition continues with the coverage of the Preliminary Rounds and the Championship Rounds of the Central States Developmental Hockey League Playoffs coming from the Canlan Ice Sports Arena in Romeoville Illinois.

Each game is covered LIVE then archived right after for continuous REPlay.

The teams will be filled in later but here is the schedule of games …

Date Start Canlan Rink Rink
2/11/2017 7:00:00 AM* Bantam 2
8:40:00 AM* Bantam 2
10:20:00 AM* 18U 2
12:30:00 PM* 15U 2
2:10:00 PM* Peewee 2
3:40:00 PM* Bantam 2
5:20:00 PM* Bantam 2
7:00:00 PM* 15U 2
8:40:00 PM* 18U 2
2/12/2017 10:00:00 AM* Bantam 2
11:40:00 AM* 15U 2
1:20:00 PM* 18U 2
3:40:00 PM* Peewee 2

Cards down to Florida by Bob Ryan

The Cards will move down to Florida to begin prep for the 2017 season. As they unload their truck loads of equipment…they’ll also be unloading other things….like plenty of questions…That’ll be a time to begin sorting out some answers to these questions..some heavy …some light…as all teams do in spring training…I’m sure you could make a list like this for every team…probably longer…

….will the Cards play Grichuk & Wong as they do Piscotty….a 6-day/week regular..for the entire season or will Grichuk & Wong ‘s leash be shorter…as it has been the last 2 years? Piscotty led the team in games played in 2016.

…Are the fans expecting too much of Dexter Fowler? Is he really the “one” to light up the Cards? The fans ..at least some…seem to be ignoring his  lifetime BA of .268 and his average over each of the past 4 seasons (in reverse order): .276, .250, .276, .263. His stolen bases of 13, 20 11, 19 over last 4 years are solid …so will the fans be happy with a .275, 15 SB guy? Defensively he CAN cover ground and make plays…however, his arm isn’t anything special.   Fowler turns 31 in March.

….So the starting rotation of Wainwright, Martinez, Reyes, Leake, Lynn has each one carrying some type of question mark…Martinez seems to have the fewest questions and is the best at this time and the most dependable performer….we hear that Rosenthal will be given “starter –like” innings in Florida…how does he fit in?; Wacha really isn’t a bullpen type…he can’t warm up, sit down, warm up…and do it again the next day, where will he be? Luke Weaver appears to be a “long man” and spot starter…neither  of the 2 lefties—Marco Gonzalez & Tyler Lyons seem to be close to the front burner any longer as a rotation starter…Lyons was an effective  bullpen man last year but his arm didn’t react well to all the use required of bullpen man….Marco Gonzalez seem to be getting pushed out of the picture by his injuries,  ineffectiveness, lack of a real “fast” ball and younger pitchers “on the way up”

….Will Yadier repeat…or even come close… to the remarkable 2016 year and to his use? After 2 years of decline at the plate of .282, .270, Yadi hit .307 last year…on the appearance side…Yadi played in 147 games last year….the most of ANY time in his career(2nd most on the entire 2016 Cardinal team)…will he pay the price this year for last year’s huge number of performances?

….how many times will Al say,“Johnny  is _ years of age” this year? I just wanna know how old he is 

….Is anyone else doubting the Jeff Gyorko will hit 30 HR again….after all he only had 49 in his first three years combined? I’d try getting ahead with a breaking ball and then expand the strike zone!!

….3B duo of Will Peralta/Jeff Gyorko &1B Matt Adams platoon with Carp bouncing back & forth from 3b to 1b?…That’s assuming their neither one…or all 3…aren’t disposed of prior to… or in early season.

….a year ago….none of us ever thought that Aledmys Diaz would be a on the team…much less a starter…but he came on like gang-busters…. his OPS last year of .879 was 2nd on the Cards last year!

I do think that he’s a good hitter and a very good asset for the Cards but….it does happen….more than one might think… that 2nd year players don’t perform as well as they did in the rookie season

…can Fred-Bird reach the 2nd tier of seats as he flings up his shirts with his special sling-shot?

….one concern to me that may be a surprise to some of you….I’m a bit concerned about our closer, Seung-hwan Oh ( I dubbed him Sing-when OH last year). Yes…he did have a terrific season…1.92, 55 hits,103 K’s,  in 79 inn with  19 saves….but I just felt that he wasn’t as effective in Sept…maybe he wore down, maybe the league “knew” him better, whatever….as I checked out his  Sept stats—10 2/3 inn, 11 hits, 4 runs, 2 HR (he gave up 3 HR in the other 5 months),3.37 ERA, 1-1 with 5 saves…I believe my concern is real….no team can be a real contender that has real issues with their closer.

…Jose Oquendo isn’t coming back to direct and develop the defense this year….or probably any year…so hopefully, his absence won’t be the excuse again for the poor defensive play. I think that the Cards also missed his judgments in the 3B coaching box last year.

… will Jim Hayes break the “40” mark this year with his softball-throwing interviews during/after games?

 

Baseball HOF thoughts, numbers, names…

With induction of Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines…2 of the 3, I watched frequently throughout their career…it led me to a few thoughts….

….one of the most underrated “types” of HOF’ers are lead-off men….Tim Raines was terrific—avg .294 for 23 years, stole 808 bases while being thrown out 146x = being safe 85% in stolen base attempts, scored over  1500 runs, over 2600 hits, 1 NL batting title, 1 All-Star MVP..he’s long over-due…but the voters seem to have etched in their mind…the type of player who is big, burly, pop-eye  type arms, that seem to rock side-side as he’s running around the bases—plenty of HR but maybe or maybe not good range, sharp fielding… HR # seem to count FAR more than being an all-around type player…. but…..while we’re at HOF discussions…I think the Cards have 2 likely HOF candidates that played as teammates in the early 2000’s …

 

Highest on my list by comparison to other players at his position is Scott Rolen…check out some of these numbers coming at ya…

17 years, 316 HR , 1287 RBI, lifetime OPS .855..now comes the all-around part, .284 average…8 Gold Gloves (only Brooks Robinson-16) & Mike Schmidt (10) have more; 93 Sac Flies (do the Cards have 10 in a year anymore?) 7 All-Star Games; in 5 of his years, his club played post-season; according to experts ..that leaves me out….he is the 8th best all-time 3B

 

The other player…flashier, more pizz-azz, more of a fan favorite…especially of the ladies…was Jim Edmonds….Jimmy is listed as the 12th best all-time CF…the only players ahead of him who AREN’T in the HOF are Andruw  Jones, Kenny Lofton, and the ageless Carlos Beltran (he should be a shoo-in)…some of Jimmy’s stats…17 years, hit .276, 393 HR, 1199 RBI, OPS  .846, 8 gold Gloves, 4 All-star games…earned $86mil in his career….so why is he messing around doing games on TV?…anyway… He is a rare CF—one who hits for power…most other solid CF are banjo-type hitters(see Tim Raines).

 

Both players are very close statistically…both were leaders for the Cards in the 2000’s…both got much national exposure in post-season games….both have a chance at HOF membership…time will tell.

 

…Judge Judy..or Judge Bob where are you?   The Cardinals need a final judgment on their “hacking” case…it’ll probably be draft pick(s) and/or money..I don’t see the head of John Mozeliak being delivered on a platter to  the Commissioner…it should be done by Feb 15th ..what are we waiting for?  We already know “who done it”..btw…don’t just remove the picks from the Cards…give those picks to Houston.

 

Some crazy bouncing NFL football  thoughts…..

…I know some of you …probably many of you in the Lou… have written off the NFL…but the playoff games were actually enjoyable for me to watch…some passing thoughts….no one runs the ball anymore…so they have to be passing thoughts…

…since the year 2001…the AFC’s QB in the Super Bowl has been just one of these 3 guys…it’s been Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Rothelsberger in every Super Bowl except for two..2002 and 2012

…I kept rubbing my eyes…was this the same Jared Cook who never seemed to be any part of the Rams game plan?…this guy running crossing patterns that utilized his height, catching a pass falling out of bounds but still keeping his tip-toes inbounds…was it experience, better coaching, a QB who could find him when he was open, maturity, a real NFL passing game, being around a better team that had changed him?…..maybe all of the above

…typical …straddling both sides of the fence….the owners heard it all ….when Stan moved the R _ _ _ it was clear that he wanted 2 teams in his palace and he’d pay whatever it took to get it done ….

Now ..as San Diego agrees to move…the owners are wringing their hands about having 2 teams move into the same market simultaneously… covering their own rear ends depending on which way the “success” meter moves!

….Tom Brady may be the surgeon of QB’s with standing tall stature, he’s precise, cool, and survey’s the field with a wide lens, whips out laser like darts that are landing as if guided by a NASA engineer but Aaron Rogers…despite wearing me out through his commercials…is THE most entertaining QB for me to watch…by far….he plays like he’s on the playground….it goes like this…I’m looking for Jared….oh heck…he’s guarded…let me look to the other way..one… two…nope..nothing there….can I run?…oh wait…Johnny’s open deep…launch occurs from ground level….and bingo…it lands right into the hands of a Packer receiver 20+ yards down the field…Green Bay has another reception….and he’s playing against the most aggressive, fastest, well trained defenses that the NFL can provide and he’s having fun..and some am I as I  watch him.

…in the Green Bay-Dallas game….the officials seemed to call the obvious penalties …at least for the most part…as a result…the game had some continuity…other NFL games that I peeked at this year…I’m like many of you….my NFL viewing dropped significantly in 2016….most games moved along like a Conestoga Wagon with a lame horse,  in a heavy rainstorm, loaded down with family of 6 or 7J

…San Diego’s new coach, Anthony Lynn, leaves a lasting 1st impression in his 1st press conference when he “freezes” and forgets the new location of the Chargers and calls them the San Diego Chargers… will this  be the lasting moment of his coaching career?  ..btw..talk about being a step-child..Chargers left San Diego..so San Diego doesn’t want them and went to LA..but LA doesn’t want them either?  A team with no fan base  is like a plane with no airport to land…it’ll crash.

…more on Super Bowl teams next week…

 

 Have a pre-super week

 

NCIS by Bob Ryan

NCIS of sports…no this isn’t a review of the TV show–Naval Criminal Investigative Service which has been extremely popular …ever since season 7 (in its 14th season) NCIS has been the most watched scripted show on American television.actually surpassing Sunday Night Football last year… this NCIS is an acronym… No Change in Sports…sure some of the size of players, better equipment, year-round training, better coaching at earlier ages have changed but the actual basic tenants of many sports just don’t change..take a look….

…..you can’t win the “big one” without stopping the opponent… As Alabama showed in title game…

….in order to be very good team in the MLB….you must have five good, durable starters…as the Cubs did last year

….the best bowl or game is always saved until last(for a long time it was the Rose Bowl)….and this year the championship game – WAS the best

….everyone I know named Dabo or Yadier must perform well or they won’t be around long

…a basic tenant of attending a “big game” ..like NCAA National Championship Football Game….if you have to ask the price.. you shouldn’t be going….this year the average resale price was $3053 per ticket…my lounge chair was just fine

…the basic tenant of the NFL owners is huge, stupendous, outrageous profits…so….bye-bye to San Diego & Oakland this year…apparently the goal is a profit of $25 bil/year…they’re stuck at $17bil/year…how CAN they get by?….so relocation fees, fresh meat..oops…markets, knives in the back should push them towards their goal….
….the basic tenant of sacrifice bunting is to provide the opportunity for the next 2 batters to get 1 hit—many now view it as giving away an out

…currently in NCAA football…..the tenant is that you must have a QB that can run & pass—as evidenced in the title game..although Bama’ Frosh QB’s throwing needs improvement

….currently the NCAA is emulating the Super Bowl to make it an “event”….a 4 hour event…this is to draw fans…but at home…the game is really slow…or maybe my patience is really short

….one basic tenant in sports …and life…the rich get richer….Look at Bama…last year they reported $103.9 million in revenue and posted a $47 million profit..it has made $98mil since 1981 in royalties..

….the basic tenant of spring training is to get the players in “shape”…..in this day & age…the players have private trainers all winter and are already in shape….so spring training should be shortened by 10 days to 2 weeks

….a basic tenant of the NFL is that the QB must be a drop-back QB … running QB just don’t last in the NFL but some teams do have “escapable” QB to extend the play now (Wilson).. and look at who’s in the playoffs right now (Brady, Rogers, Stafford, Rothelsberger, Alex Smith-Foles, Matt Ryan)

….the basic tenant to get your NCAA football team in a high bowl is get a good early ranking to help you achieve post-season status…how about this for 2017-18 season…Bama is 3:1 to win it all; Oklahoma, Fla St, Ohio St & USC area all 8:1..Louisville is 10:1….watch how those teams will get more coverage, better time slots on TV in the regular season and better bowls

…a basic tenant of baseball is that you have to play many games to find out in a fair way the best teams… but what is so magical about 162 game schedule….it was 154 for a long time….wouldn’t we know the best teams in 150 games …and then we wouldn’t be watching baseball in November

…a basic tenant for many decades ….emphasized by the Cardinals under Mo…is that a team must develop from “with-in” with certain pieces acquired via trade or free agency to meet a specific need…Cubs, Cards, Indians…have all followed this format to win

 

Odds & ends…

… Dabo Swiney is now 5-1 in last 2 seasons against Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Stoops. Those are the five active FBS coaches with national titles.

…what impact has Nick Saban had on Alabama beyond football?….enrollment at Bama is

37,665 (record high)..the frosh class of 7,559 students is the best qualified in the school’s history…more than 40% of the incoming Frosh have scored a 30 or higher on the ACT….so… maybe a case can be made for his stupendous salary

…one incredible winning streak that is generally ignored by the vast majority of sports fans….U Conn Women Basketball have won 89 straight games…they last lost on Nov 17, 2014 to Stanford..former IWA grad-soph Napheesa Collier has NEVER lost a game in a UConn uni !

…will Brandon Moss resign with Cards for a diminished contract?…he’s a better back up stick than Tommy Pham..but not the defense or the versatility..and Pham is much, much cheaper

…Colby Rasmus, now 30 years of age, signed with the Rays for $5mil after hitting .206 last year

…Blues seem to be missing Backus & Brower more than they thought they thought they might

…Delvin Perez, Cards top draft pick of 2016, is now listed as #5 prospect in the Cards chain… that’s a real rapid elevation..other rankings Alex Reyes-#1, Luke Weaver-#2, Harrison Bader-#3, Jack Flaherty-#4…sliding down the list at #17 is Marco Gonzalez….he’ll be traded this year

…Mizzou is 24th (out of 114 D-1 colleges)in the Learfield Sports Director Cup Standings…this ranking is based on the performance of the teams in the fall…the outstanding performance of the Women’s XC team and Women’s Volleyball were the teams that garnished the most pts for Mizzou..Stanford was #1, UCLA #2 N. Carolina #3…football hasn’t been calculated in yet

…so it seems in the most recent Baseball HOF voting that Bonds & Clemens numbers have elevated significantly this year…wonder if it’s because of the induction of Bud Selig who recently was voted into the HOF by a special, newly created “Today’s Game Era Committee”… Selig was the commissioner from 1998-2015 and seemingly turned his eye away from the steroid abuse of baseball substantiated by the Mitchell Report (George Mitchell-former Att Gen) of 2007..Bonds, Clemons, Andy Pettit, Mo Vaughn, Miguel Tejada were the “stars” who are found on that report…Mark McGwire “came clean in a 2010 admission of use”…sooo…reasoning…I suppose..  if the commish turns his head …and basically permits it…and then gets into HOF…..why should we keep the players out of the HOF now?  Btw…only 6 other former Cards are listed on that report—Ryan Franklin, Fernando Vina, Gary Bennett, Rick Ankiel, Tony Glaus, David Bell..those 6 don’t have to worry about their entrance into the HOF being denied due to drug use

…a footnote on above idea…when McGwire came clean in 2010…his former Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa said, “I’m really encouraged that he would step forward,” La Russa told ESPN. “As we go along his explanations will be well received.”…I…myseIf… would have been extremely disappointed, upset, angry and felt betrayed…if I had absolutely no idea of his use….Tony’s quote  almost sounds to me like Tony “knew” deep down OR that he actually did know….that something wasn’t right with McGwire bouncing ‘em over the walls almost every other game without drug use.

….Coach K has missed some of the recent Duke games due to back surgery…it gives us a chance to present his incredible record …he has won more NCAA Men’s basketball games than anyone…1056-323 with 983 wins @ Duke…he is the 1st mens coach to win 1000 games!….he was head coach @ Army prior to Duke…played @ Army for Bobby Knight

….the Rams are turning over their putrid program to a 31 year old, 1st time Head Coach..he is a pretty boy but…time will tell if Sean McVay is the “man”..I will say..if he hires a plethora of experienced ast coaches (who were former head coaches)..he may have a chance

….Blues are looking for a true #1 center…Stastny is paid like a #1 but really is a #2…will they pull the trigger? And…Allen keeps getting beat to the glove side….move over to your left more

…Another NCIS moment…”No Changes in Story” or The End … Have a wonderful Holiday!

Frozen-in some way! by Bob Ryan

The Holidays seem to make time get “frozen”….most of our daily concerns, worries, etc seem to be frozen as we indulge in the joy of family, friends and fun over the Holidays….but all good things do come to an end…so here we go taking a look forward and backward…

…the joy experienced by many of the Blues fans in attending the Blues-Blackhawks old-timers game was evident from the plethora of  posts, comments and articles about the game..the thoughts of those local stars is frozen in our mind…we remember them as they were in ’66, or ’76, or ’86 or ’96 or even 06

….then 2 days later without the ice being really frozen…the Blues beat the Blackhawks in front of a huge crowd enjoying the “event”..it really was a special weekend of hockey for Blues fans and the Lou

….there are some moments from recent StL sports that I WOULD like frozen….Seeing Ken Hitchcock wearing his hat….Matt Holliday standing alone in LF as the only player on the field as the Lou fans recognize his contribution to the Cards for a decade…the TD reception by Isaac Bruce that won the only StL Super Bowl…the loud chants of “Lets GO Blues” that echoed all around Busch III… David Freese flinging his helmet between his legs as he’s ready to cross the plate after his historic Series HR..WHAT MOMENTS WOULD YOU LIKE FROZEN…..please respond on the Prepcasts site just below the article

…one of my favorite Bowls this year was the Orange Bowl…. Michigan hasn’t won back-back bowls since the Lloyd Carr days  1999-2000….the total points expected by the gamblers kept dropping as the game approached because they expected a defensive battle…but they missed it….Florida State opened up that huge lead and still led 27-15 early in the 4th… Wolverines score the next 2 td’s to take a 30-27 with only 1:57…a long KO return give the Seminoles a short field and they throw a 12 yd TD pass take a 33-30 lead…a successful PAT takes a FG out of the game…but the PAT is blocked & returned for 2 points to make it 33-32…Michigan’s last throw was intercepted…the Wolverines hopes of moving up the polls are now frozen

….reading the feature Cardinal article earlier this week on Matt Adams….and between the lines….it probably means that the lighter Matt Adams won’t be frozen @ 1B in the Lou for the whole year but will be moving on….you don’t need to lose weight to sit on the bench

…I was “lucky” enough to attend the Blues-Predators game where the Blues didn’t show up and fell 4-0….I think that was about as many Blues checks  as there were  in the old-timers game…their skates seem to be frozen to the ice on that night…the Blues looked very “soft”to me which doesn’t bode well for the playoffs where the contact & intensity escalate

….Gary Kubiak has resigned for health reasons due to the stress, extreme time, and little “free time”—his life was frozen constantly by the job….it’s a meat-grinder….Kubiak has spent his entire life immersed in the NFL as player, coach, head coach…he was a good..to very good coach…depending on your view….we wish the 55 year old the best…I’m surprised that there aren’t more coaches afflicted in the same way. Now he’ll actually have a life that isn’t frozen by football.

….not frozen with their accomplishment of making the World Series…Cleveland lands slugger Edwin Encarncion as a free agent….Encarncion rejected a 4 year $80mil offer from Toronto in November and it seemed to scare off other teams…Cleveland realizes that their time is “now”..they have starting pitchers– Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazer all under control through  2019 and relief specialists Cody Allen & Andrew Miller through 2018…couple that with a lineup that features vets Jason Kipnis,   Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana—budding stars in Tyler Naquin & Jose Ramirez….well…it’s time to go “all in”..btw Cleveland signed him for 3 years/$60mil + attendance bonuses and a team option of $20 mil for the 4th year with a $5mil buyout…keep in mind this is a guy who’s hit over 190 Home Runs in the last 5 years!

….Speaking of NFL coaches….largely overlooked … seemingly frozen in time…for his work is Mike Tomlin…he’s 102-57 .642 through week 16 of this year….that tops legends like  Bill Cowher 149-90-1  .623, Joe Gibbs 154-94 .621 , Bud Grant 158-96-5 .620, Bill Walsh 92-59-1 .609 , Tom Landry 250-162-6 .605,  Pete Carroll 102-72-1 .586,  Hank Stram  131-97-10  .571  , Bill Parcells 172-130-1  .569, Chuck Noll  193-148-1  .566….so..yes…Tomlin’s mark is higher than his 2 predecessors—Cowher & Noll but ….and he has the same Super Bowl record as Bill Cowher 1-1

….superstitions seem to be frozen in our minds….so the Blues new “outdoor classic” jerseys are the reason WHY the Blues won that game and now a 2nd game….come on…what are YOUR superstitions?

….let’s think out of the box and not be frozen by “what’s always been done….if Chicago is petitioning for  a bowl….why can’t StL….use Busch III….the Arch Bowl…I mean what difference does another bowl make…41..42…50….make ours the winners of two earlier bowls

….Drew Brees passed for over 5000 yards for the 5th time in his career this year…it may not seem too special but it’s only been done 4 other times ..TOTAL…by any other  NFL QBs.. nevertheless, the New Orleans record remains frozen at 7-9 for 3rd straight year

….Brandon Phillips likes being frozen @ Cincy…he’s turned down the possibility of being traded again this year….I guess it’s good to be a star on a very poor team than an average guy on a good team?

….being futuristic for a sec….sports isn’t frozen in its presentations….the Olympics demonstrated the relevance of twitter & social media in a powerful manner….look for the MLB to utilize more social media in their presentations this year

…of course the Rose Bowl was very, very entertaining and memories will be frozen in our mind for a long time…Penn State & USC marched up and down the field much of the day…the Nittany Lions seemed to have a comfortable 49-35 lead in 4th quarter but the Trojans behind cool handed Frosh QB Sam Darnold throwing darts in the final minutes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat…the winning FG …as the game clock ran out…made it a 52-49 USC win

….some character flaws seem to be frozen in a person….NYJ Sheldon Richardson’s fight in week 3 with  Darrelle Revis never really “healed”…it seems that Richardson always just “finds” difficulties  no matter where he’s located..he seems like a likely R _ _ _ player 

…frozen in our mind by all the “news” on the SEC from Mizzou, SEC network and local newspapers is the strength of the SEC…in the 16-17 bowls…to this point….ACC is 8-3 in bowls and 3-1 vs the SEC & Big 10…Big 12 is 4-2 in the bowl action…at .500 is the SEC 6-6 and Pac 12 @ 3-3….personally…Bama is the best of the league…and probably the nation…but the rest seem to be comparable to some of the other top leagues

…so why does Nick Saban remove Lane Kiffin as off coordinator just prior to the NCS Championship game? Reading between the frozen lines…Saban was all over Kiffin repeatedly throughout the season…How many points does he expect them to score?… Some thought that Bama underperformed in the game vs Washington and….maybe Kiffin’s mind wasn’t all there (getting ready for Florida Atlantic job… Maybe…or maybe Saban was still smarting from some of the unflattering remarks Kiffin made in an SI article recently…who knows? Maybe Saban is just “trial running” his possible successor, Steve Sarkisian.  This is a strange move…..perfect record or not.

….Does this seem wrong to you…like your judgment has been frozen?….Jeff Fisher has won ONE more game in his career than Bill Parcells?  Somehow I don’t think of those two in the same class as a coach. Right now…Andy Reid is tied with Parcells but should pass Fish soon

….you won’t be frozen to this blog any longer….it’s over…..have a good week!