Shipwrecked by Pirates by Bob Ryan

It’s early in the 2018 MLB season…no one is jumping off of the top of Arch…yet….but…there has be 27 games..  17% of the season…1 of the 6 months of the season are gone….so some observations have been noticed about our Cardinals….and MLB in general

..the Cards have played 7 games against one of the worst teams in the MLB—Cincinnati….the Reds have won 6 games this month…..the Cards have won all 7 games…good!….good teams are expected to beat bad teams…..but outside of those 7 games, the Cards record is 8-12 as of Sunday night. This level of play across the league doesn’t make us appear to be a playoff team….even a wild card team.

…On the “up” side…Jose Martinez continues to hit…hitting .306….teams seem to be pitching away from his power..0 HR in last 10 games….but…has hits in 6 straight games & 10 hits in last 10 games. While his defense has been holes in it…..he has to be in the lineup every day.

…now…when Martinez plays 1B…Carpenter generally plays 3B…remember  in the exhibition season that he was going to “Bounce around” defensively….it began in that way….he has played defensively  by position in this way–1B (2x), 2B (6x), 3B (16x)…however, since Wong has returned with some life in his bat…Carp has been stationed at the power-hitting  position of 3B most of the time….his woeful batting stats make it hard to understand why/how he’s playing every day…avg-.155, 2 HR, 10 rbi, 26 strikeouts in 84 AB…he is 7th in the NL in walks with 19. Hard to think that at 32 years of age that he’s sliding…. more likely, it’s his uppercut swing that he adopted a couple years ago.  As I mentioned last week, pitchers have adjusted to this swing and are inducing far more strikeouts & popouts/flyouts. I much preferred the line drive hitting of 2013 when he earned the Silver Slugger award for NL 2b….best average for his position.

….In the pre-season I was excited about Ozuna….still am….although…I must admit….it my excitement has weakened.. when acquired….It was pointed out that last year ALONE…was his break-out year…he hit.312 with 37 round trippers, and a terrific OPS of .924…..previously his numbers looked like this…. 2016-.266, 23 HR and OPS- .773; 2015 .259, 10 HR, OPS-.691; 2014 .269, 23 HR, OPS .772… some experts indicated that his success was due to better selection of pitches in the batters box…this year….it appears that he’s lost… let’s hope… temporarily….that discipline as a hitter and is swinging at pitches out of the zone…I also believe that he’s feeling pressure since the bar of expectations was raised for him by the trade to the Lou…some players thrive on that pressure….some don’t

….the leader of the Starting Rotation….Carlos Martinez has some sparkling stats….era 1.43, opposition batting avg .176 but the most important stat is just 2 wins in 6 starts…he’s 2-1….often it’s due to the shortness of his starts…the only games that he pitched more than 6 innings….he WON!….he’s removed after 6 innings 3 times already this year and the opening game was a 4.1 stint….he’s our ace…ride that horse longer….ace’s don’t go just 6 innings.

……the W’s were supposed to guide the young starting staff…Wainwright is on DL….is anyone REALLY  surprised? Wacha has a 4-1 record..most wins on the team..in his 5 starts he’s pitched 27+ innings….so he is …again… a 5 inning pitcher…Luke Weaver was outstanding in his  early starts…currently he’s 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA, good strikeout to walk ratio—30:14; batters are hitting .248 against him. In his 6 starts he’s pitched 31 innings…another 5 inning pitcher.  Miles Mikolas has been terrific! 3-0, era 3.27, whip under 1 @ .97, 5 starts, 33 innings…so he’s going 6 innings…even that 1 extra inning per game is key to bullpen usage…I’m not expecting a Cy Young here….but hoping….maybe 12-15 wins..a good signing…to this point of the season.. by MO

….the bullpen has been led by 33 year old Bud Norris…he has 5 saves, 20 K’s in 13 innings….shattering all expectations for him…Matt Bowman is traveling down the Seth Maness, Swing when-Oh, Rosenthal path that is well worn by the pitchers traveling up & down it frequently… already 12 appearances…remember Cards have played 27 games..a pace of 71 games/season….hey…what’s that dragging  along side of Bowman…oh…that’s his arm. Jordan Hicks was outstanding in Florida…up north…he’s still holding a 1.26 ERA in 12 appearances…read “Maness Malady” above…clearly belongs in our bullpen…let’s look now at MO’s acquisitions for the bullpen…..Dominic Leone…13 appearances.. 3.86 has been steady when not used in back-back days…Luke Gregorson..this soon to-be 34 year old pitcher has over 630 MLB appearances….let’s be kind….thus far in 2018 his 9.82 ERA accurately depicts his effectiveness…his average speed for his 2-seam fastball is far beneath the MLB average speed….MO….not so good here!…then there was the very late signing of our bullpen savior…Greg Holland….he had practically NO spring training… was thrust into an early game and walked 4 straight batters since then…he’s improved.. you really only could go in one direction …..his era is 7.36 in 10 appearances…his whip is 2.32.  MO is one of the few who have swung and missed on Holland this year….yeah, yeah…it’s early….but… I don’t see any improvement…do you?

….I’m even giving Manifesto a break here…he has a roster that is so loaded with pitchers that his bench is short….and weak…Greg Garcia coming off the bench ….only excites his family…no other fans. Gyorko should be playing more…probably instead of Carpenter…I’m not sure if that’s Manifesto or MO on the call. Bringing up O’Neill to have a lefthanded bat on the bench, does fill a need but O’Neill is young…can he be a “regular” pinch hitter?

…btw…in a recent article ranking the top 100 MLB players….the Cards had just 1 player…Marcell Ozuna at #42…so….should we REALLY expect much more than a .500 team?

Around other parts of MLB…

…poor Albert…..closing in on 3000 and he’s not the most revered….or even 2nd most admiered…on his team…what mightta been, coulda been…..

… LAA’s Shohei Ohtani’s sharp 1st week of pitching and hitting has hit a road bump since then….it doesn’t take MLB pitchers long to “figure you out”

….when a player is in his final year of his contract….they seem to play better…..that’s been a concept of my brother for years…..they see that huge contract in the horizon…..Manny Machado, hitting a league leading .361 with 9 HR is a perfect example….

…the NL East standings look really strange…..the favorite….Washington Nationals are in 4th place with a 12-16 record…and St. Louisian, Max Scherzer has 5 of those wins himself!  The Mets do have some good starters but their 17-9 mark won’t hold up at that same high rate..however, if Jay Bruce starts to hit and if the Mets stay at the top …or close to it….they’ll bring in additional talent later in the season. Atlanta & Philly are each 16-11…that’s a huge uptick for both of these teams….I doubt if both….or maybe even…either one will stay that high…but it is refreshing to see new faces, new teams succeeding.

…Arizona won 9 straight series and the Dodgers (12-15) have come out of the starting blocks slowly and now are missing some starters due to injuries…..the NL West may look differently this year.

…on the high school scene

…..a sport missed by many is lacrosse….a very popular sport on the East Coast, lacrosse is growing in the Lou….currently on the High School level, MICDS posts the one of the best records at 13-2 for the season. Both losses have been against out-town teams, Dallas Jesuit & Memphis U High.  Leading scorers for MICDS are Graham Bundy Jr with 65 goals and 34 assists. Strong support comes from Thomas Niedringhaus who has 47 goals and 31 assists.  Bundy and Niedringhaus are #2 & #3 respectively in scoring in the St. Louis Area. Taking care of the goalie duties is Joe Maguire who has all 13 wins to his credit including 4 shutouts.

…currently ranked #1 by StLToday in the Girls soccer poll are the Nerinx Hall Markers. The Markers are now 15-1 after their 1-0 victory over St. Joseph. Soph Lindsey Heckel and Senior Gabby Smith are the leading scorers on the team. Heckel has 11 goals and 5 assists while Smith is close behind with 10 goals and 6 helpers. Nerinx has really spread the scoring around this year.  16 different players have scored goals in their 16 games!

…..the Draft of the Nearly Forgotton League has come & gone…..frankly….I paid scant attention to any… much less …all… of  the pre-draft shows, post-draft analysis, etc….I suspect most of you were the same.

….Love to read YOUR thoughts….put them on the site….if you prefer…send them to me…I’ll get them up for you….Thanks for making it to the bottom.

It’s Cold … in many ways! by Bob Ryan

April has brought us several days of chilly, to cold, to very cold days….that’s not all that’s cold around the sports world….

…as of April 16, there had been 24 cancellations…forcing Doubleheaders….in some cities..they will be back-back, one admission…in the cities that really love baseball…e.g. StL….it’s day-night so that 2 admissions may be charged…isn’t that backwards?….charging more to the cities that really “follow” their team…oh wait… the goal is to make money…

….last week a new record….one that no team would like to hold…was established….On Tues, April 24, the Colorado Rockies played the Atlanta Braves….at 1st pitch it was an ice-cold 23 degrees!!!… Come on, this was suited more for the Alaskan Iditarod than Baseball…in fact the huskies pulling the sled probably outnumbered the crowd…oops…wrong word…really not a “crowd”…the gathering  @ Denver

….regarding the extremely cold temps in this very early part of the season….Nancy Armour of USA today writes that all inter-league play should be eliminated….it would provide a 142 game schedule…starting april 15  ..world series ending by Oct 15….do you feel the “cold” of the owners to that suggestion? Of course the players would have to see THEIR salaries reduced proportionately for the fewer games….. oops…now do you feel the players turning cold? Even colder that when they dressed like “bank robbers” or people snowboarding in November.  There’s no guarantee that it’d be warmer after April 15th but …. even without Vegas….we know the odds are much better.

….I can’t warm up to Manifesto because of these types of moves…..after pitching  Tyler Lyons for 1 inning, 17 pitches on Friday….MM brings in Lyons again on Saturday..it’s clear immediately that he doesn’t have his “stuff”….he falls behind the first 4 batters that he faces..Reds score 3 runs..which for them is really HUGE ….I realize that Manifesto has been cut all the way back to 7 relief hurlers in the bullpen…but why the back-back after a long outing?  Mike Maddux might as well be sitting in the Arch.. or on top of it…… instead of the dugout..what difference does he make?

…Head Coach Lovie Smith must have experienced chills up & down his back when he looked at  the 2018 Illini schedule…according to my research…it’s the first time in over 50 years that Illinois will NOT have Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State …any 1 of the  3 of them…on their schedule. I’m still not sure that they can win 6 games to earn a bowl bid! Btw….how does Lovie keep “getting a pass” for these poor teams?

…many…many batters have come out “cold”….as I write this, there are 29 MLB hitters with averages UNDER .200….some unfamiliar names to this Frigid beginning….Hunter Pence .172, Gregory Polanco & Giancarlo Stanto ..each at .197…btw …. Stanton has already heard the cold boo-birds of New York….it has to be a shock for him….in Miami…he could hear the beer vendors trying to sell their wares…now he actually sees AND hears the fans..the cold list continues….slugger Chris Davis is at .145…the Cards aren’t exempt….Matt Carpenter at .182, Dexter Fowler @ .181 and Kolton Wong .133….sure you can find Randall Grichuk at an ice cold mark .086 and smirk…..but reaaallllyyy is it that much different?

…after decades of being frozen out on my TV… the NBA has returned…at least for me….I’ve began watching it again…. no…can’t go a whole game yet….but it’s really a cleaner, faster version of college basketball…clear outs, phenomenal outside shooting, tremendous athleticism, crisper passing, less fouls. Just watched the Cavs-Pacers game….it was outstanding!…coming right down to the last 15 seconds with multiple possessions….the Pacers with a raucous crowd cheering them on….beat the Cavs.  NONE of the my Hawks favorites that I cheered for in the Lou back in the day could play for ANY of these teams. A good friend of mine asked me about 50+ years ago…why I didn’t just watch the last 4 minutes of the Hawks games….he was probably right…..it seems to me that the vast majority of NBA games DO come down to that final 4 minutes.

…..Does anyone else wonder about Yadi’s sudden power surge in the last 2 years?…He hit 18 HR last year…has 6 already this year…in 10 of his seasons he didn’t reach double figures in home runs for the entire year. Maybe my judgement is just getting too cold about “jumps” late in a players career.

…death of Earl Bruce brings back the chills that I enjoyed as I talked with him about one of my Varsity players in the early 80’s….Bruce was Head Coach at Iowa State at the time…..my player ended up going to Mizzou so that his family could watch him….sad part of the story…by the time he became a starter..in his 4th year at Mizzou, his Dad had been transferred by McDonnel Douglas to Australia.

….regarding the increase in strikeouts across the league….this “new” upward swing has been in vogue for a couple years now….pitchers, pitching coaches and managers have studied the swings and have found antidotes.  Sure….hitters are still taking the round trippers…but usually it’s with no one on base and the batters averages & hard contact …outside of those HR swings….has dropped to an icy low level.

….Bryan Price’s firing by Cincy management team shows clearly that don’t understand the low level of the talent on this 3-17 team. 3 wins in 3 weeks….ugh….It seems like a Siberian cold  feeling to me…..this team wasn’t assembled by the manager.. so.. in 20 games…he’s gone….he’s clearly a scapegoat.

…the oft icy, slippery slope of many players making the transition  from college to the NFL  often derails  many players…not so at Northwestern, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald currently has 9 of his players in the NFL..when asked if they were  “prepared” for the NFL….the response is “The No. 1 thing guys (from Northwestern who make the NFL) tell me — midway through their first year I will text and ask them did we prepare you? — and to a man the answer is the same: ‘I was over-prepared.'” He said. “The active learning environment and expectations academically, our guys take the path less traveled. We hope they achieve the goal of playing on Sunday for a long time, but that is Plan B. Plan A is life.” Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? Btw…Mizzou has 21 players in the NFL!!

…..Another team with a glacier like start to the season is the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals just notched their 4th win after 3 weeks of games…that isn’t cold….its freezing.  As we all know….the Royals core of players that carried them to the post season for a couple years reached free agency… and…. Bolted outta town …seems a bit cold… like most of us…they are going to sign for the most money…. wherever it may be

…so Dez Bryant gets the brumal touch from the “Boys”…..probably one of the 1st times in years  that he’s realized just how good he had it in Dallas.

…Boston Red Sox leaped off to a 17-3 start…despite the frigid weather in Boston….the Red Sox schedule for those 16 wins included the two Florida teams (Miami/Tampa Bay), ice cold Baltimore, Angels, A’s and one genuine series….against the Yankees…Boston took advantage of this weak schedule.

….the MLB attendance figures tell the true story about the imbalance of the league…..there are 10 teams averaging 30,000+ fans/game; 10 teams averaging more than 20,000 but less than 30,000 and 10 teams trying to cross the cold tundra of sports dollars  with less than 20,000 per game.

…throwing around cold cash like they are printing it….the NY Mets contract with Adrian Gonzalez have a  freezes out some other poor ones…. Gonzalez is being paid $11.44mil….it is estimated…not by me but by others…that his performance value is -$6.4m….I don’t know how negative money works…anyway… by this estimate his contract is -$17.4 in value.

….buried deep way back in the frozen part of our mind are thoughts of some of the old, very unique baseball stadiums… one that really strikes me is the Polo Grounds in NY….some history here…opened in 1890 closed in 1963…demolished in 1964… when built, writers indicated that it was much more suited for polo than baseball…and hence…that idea led to the name of the Stadium. The upper deck in Left field extended out over the field, reducing the already short lower deck distance of 279 feet to a ridiculous 250 feet, and actually making it hard to hit a home run into the lower deck…although the famous HR from Bobby Thompson in the “shot around the world” did just that…landed in lower deck…. Center field, which was already a ridiculously far 483 feet away, also had an overhang that was part of one of the clubhouses, and therefore made a home run to dead center a whopping 505 feet away. Right field, although without a deck, was still just 258 feet away. However, right center was nearly 200 feet farther away at 449 feet. Simply put, we will never see a baseball stadium with as unique of dimensions as the Polo Grounds. I’d like to see one built like that….those unique dimensions could make for a more exciting, unpredictable game…some cheap HR, long-long extra base hits to the power alleys, etc.

….so after giving the cold shoulder to Vianney baseball for the first several weeks of the season and after suffering their 1st loss….I must give them their due…..The Golden Griffins, ranked #1 by StLtoday, #7 by USA Today, #5 by Collegiate Baseball and #4 by MaxPreps with a 22-1 record, are coached by Scott Brown. Vianney beat CBC 15-3 Friday to gain their 21st victory.  That victory was VERY unusual…Vianney’s pitching staff gave up 3 runs…the staff has 8 shutouts and Vianney seldom scores 15 runs …who does?J  8 shutouts is really incredible…to get just 1 shutout in this day & age of “hitting” is tough enough. Coach Brown’s roster has 16 seniors of which at least 6 different pitchers who will be pitching at the collegiate level next year.  That pitching staff has kept the opponents bats ice cold while allowing a scant 27 earned runs in 21 games! Sr Luke Mann, who is headed to Mizzou, is the leader of the staff. He’s 4-0 with an ERA of 0.77….but check out these other earned run averages. Brendan May is @ 0.43 in 7 games….Mitchell O’deKirk is 0.25 after 5 games..Caleb Buehrle holds a 3.23 ERA, Noah Niznik comes in at 2.74, Ryan Insco is 2.4. While the pitching has been truly unbelievable, the batters average 7.24 runs per game. Soph CJ Cepicky is batting at a .474 clip and Luke Mann…..as often occurs in the high school level….the best pitchers are often some of the best batters…. hits at .448 with 4 home runs. Last the Golden Griffins finished 3rd in MSHSAA STATE championships. I go WAY back with Coach Brown….when he assumed his 1st HS Head Coaching Position in 1992… he had a assistant with the initials BR. Lucky for him….he didn’t have to put up with blogs at that point.

I’ve reached the end of my tour on the cold tundra….thx for making it to the end…now warm up.

Lose Appeal … pay the price by Bob Ryan

You know one of my favorite topics is the MLB appeal…..I don’t agree with the assumption that each “call” must be perfect….I mean…what else in life is perfect?….all the MLB pitchers make bad pitches… all the MLB batters swing & miss…why do we expect the umpires to be perfect?  It’s called the human element. I don’t like managers making us wait while some computer guy is watching the replay. Meanwhile, the Manager is standing on the top step of the dugout holding up the …..already slow….game…if he’s so sure that it’s the wrong call… have him appeal it immediately….and aren’t the games long enough already with plethora of commercials choking off your interest?  With those as my backdrop, I was very surprised to see while watching the Blues that when their appeal was denied..they were penalized due to the incorrect appeal….they put any man in the penalty box…well….why not use that same principle in baseball & football….make it simple…and make the team losing the appeal…pay a price for their “mistake”

…in baseball….if your instant appeal…no more pontificating on the top step…is wrong…the offensive team loses an out….if the appeal was the 3rd out…it’d be the 1st out in the next inning….if a defensive appeal is ruled incorrect…that runner is awarded a free base …for example…if the appeal pertained to a runner at 1b…that runner is awarded 2b…if @2b…then runner is advanced to 3b due to the incorrect appeal….other runners move up if forced to do so…. Some objections that I hear about awarding bases are that it may skew the ERA of the pitchers….well….since it’s an error…the Manager’s error….treat it like any other error with respect to earned runs.

…in football….if the appeal is wrong…the other team gets 10 yards…in other words….if the offensive team is incorrect in their appeal…the football is moved backwards 10 yards….if the defensive team is incorrect in the appeal…the ball is moved forward after the spot….simple…..

Around the MLB….in the…it’s too early to say….

….I can practically guarantee that none of the top 4 RBI leaders as of April 15th will be there on September 15th! All four of these players have 15 rbi’s—Mitch Haniger (Seattle), Gregory Polanco (Pirates), Jose Martinez (StL Cards), Hanley Ramirez (Boston)…sorry….I haven’t jumped on the Martinez band-wagon yet….he DOES look good….but…. he HAS played in the Home run derby field….Cincinnati …4 games already. Heck…I even saw little bitty Billy Hamilton hit a HR yesterday!

…Shohei Ohtani has displayed good “stuff” on the mound and has been a sharp hitter…. in 30 AB, batting average .367,3 HR , his OPS (on base + slugging %) 1.191, as a pitcher 2-0, 2.08 era, whip (walks +hits per innings pitched) 0.46 and the batting average against him as a pitcher is .093…He isn’t another Ichiro…who was an unbelievable “slap-hitter”

….apparently a  rebirth for 32 year old Bud Norris has taken place….I remember him as being a soft-throwing guy who seemed like he could beat the Cards…but hardly anyone else.  He gave himself a “re-make” last year… he moved to the bullpen … notched 19 saves last year for the Halos…. He did have an ERA of 4.21 last year while recording a good strikeout to inning ratio…74: 56…it’s just too early

….Dominic Leone’s early stats might suggest to space him out a bit….pitching on back-back days(1 time)….ugh….no outs, 2 hits (1 a HR), 2 runs..pitching with 1 days rest—3different times…3.2 inning, 3 hits, 4 runs…pitching with 2 days rest..1.1 innings, 1 hit no runs…..it’s too early to reach definitive conclusions….but  I’d try holding him to pitching with 2+ days rest and looking for strong performances from him…..that shouldn’t be hard with the 8 man posse in the bullpen waiting for action….we’ll see

….maybe this one isn’t too early to tell…on opening night, the Miami Marlins drew 6150 people… meanwhile…on the same night, the AA affliliate minor league team in Jacksonville…the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp….I couldn’t make that name up.  drew 6960 fans…btw…Jacksonvile was playing the Mobile BayPears…luv those minor league names……currently Miami has drawn an average of 13,403 per game in 11 home dates….for some reason…Miami has hosted the most home games to this point..at that rate…Miami would draw just under 1.1m for the season….ugly….but deserving to management.. meanwhile….the Cards have drawn 234,316 in 6 home games…that averages to a bit over 39,000/game thus far in 2018….and…I’m hearing how attendance is down @ Busch…too early to tell…

….the Mets don’t seem too concerned about closer Jeury Familia….last year his season was shortened due to arm issues after 26 appearances….so….take it easy on him in 2018…..not so much… he’s pitched in 8 of the first 14 Met games…sure….he has 7 saves out of the 8 appearances….but what’s the over/under on him in games pitched this season….especially at this rate?  30?  40?  50?…..too early to tell…..but at this same rate…he’d pitch in 92 games this year…it’s not too early to say ….NO WAY.

…it maybe too early to tell but….there has been an increase in the number of batters being “hit by pitches”….it’s up by 17%…..is it because batters have controlled  the attention in the last few years with the increase in home runs…or is it due to the many rivalries scheduled early in the season…or is it due to pitchers trying to pitch inside….or is it due to batters lunging into the pitch and not being able to get out of the way of he pitches…..whatever…..keep a watch on it

….speculation is hovering around the LA Dodgers clubhouse….although he has 2 years & $65m left on his contract, Clayton Kershaw also has the option to “opt out” after this year. Many are speculating that he’ll opt out….I’m not so sure…look how the 30 year old free agents fared this off season….and…would he want to leave the glamor, winning records, high profile of LA for another market…time will tell..

….when experts claim that the LA/NY markets are special….many agree…to a point…but how about Aaron Judge being listed as a category in a Jeopardy show?   I doubt that any Cardinal…Stan, Gibby, Albert, Yadi…any will ever have that claim.  I guess…ya never know…

In our effort to find high school teams who may have been overlooked while enjoying outstanding seasons…..

…the Union HS Girls Soccer team is 8-0 this year…the Wildcats have outscored their opponents 52-3 for the season!!! Emily Gaebe has scored 26 goals already in 2018. Keeper Lexi Garlock  has all 8 wins with 5 shutouts recorded this year under Head Coach Matt Fennessey. Last year Union was 14-5 for the season so the 8-0 start is a real improvement for the squad.

….it’s good to see that Valley Park….a powerhouse baseball program in the 90’s in the Class 1 level under Head Coach Brent Gregston…VP went through some tough years…as all schools do in the cycle of sports…. but now has rebounded.  The Hawks…still a small school but no longer a class 1 school ….are 6-3 for 2018 with losses to powerhouse Vianney and large school Hazelwood West. Jr Brandon Spawr leads the team in power production with 3 HR, 3 doubles, .469 average and a team leading 24 RBI’s.  Sr Austin Schmitt holds the highest average on the team at .483 and his 12 steals are also #1 on the team. Soph Ethan Schmitt holds a 3-0 record on the mound for the Hawks.

Thanks for making it to the bottom…..YOUR comments are always invited…agree…disagree..little of each… doesn’t matter…put it right under this article….thx for reading..

 

The Eyes of the Cards by Bob Ryan

Well….I’m not claiming to be like Jeb Stuart…the eyes of Robert E. Lee  in the Civil War…..but there is plenty of things to see across the Cardinals, MLB, Blues and the sports world….here goes…. 

 From Cardinal Country…..yea….we’ve only played about a week but some early observations…

….Opening Day ceremonies are really special to the ol’ time fans….seeing many of the heroes of the 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and the 00’s is still terrific …even though they’ve aged substantially over the decades… it  restores some of the wonderful memories of those talented teams of the past..btw….it wasn’t a typo….we didn’t have any heroes in the 70’s..we were bad.

…Adam Wainwright…..it’s sad…..I’m not happy to share the opinion that …. As great of a pitcher as he has been….a wonderful personality…..outstanding teammate……but….he’s done.  In the 1st inning, his fast ball actually touched  93…..but an inning later, it was in high 80’s…and by the 3rd inning his “heater”  was a limp mid 80’s. Of course the D-Backs “took” many pitches; fouled off some …all in an attempt to have Wainwright throw more pitches and wear him down. He couldn’t get through even 4 innings. I realize that the club would have to swallow a huge $19.5m contract for 2018 but if the goal is to win… Wainwright isn’t taking you THERE. Wainwright has already earned over $114m in his career.

….btw…post-game Wainwright said that there were “quick fixes” in his mechanics….well…if it’s that easy…why not watch the video between innings and make those “quick fixes” then and there?  I don’t know of any “quick fix” to get a fastball….fast ….again.

…..have you noticed our recent “bench” with Gyorko injured—Yairo Munoz is 1 of 8 at the plate; Greg Garcia 0-6; Pena—backup catcher hasn’t been in a game yet; Bader is 0-2…..but Manifesto purposely limits his bench so that he can carry 8 bullpen guys…..what’s going on with that bullpen?…..Mike Mayers has pitched 1 inning each week…OK… Apparently…much of the time while in the bullpen… he plays a game with other barely used pitchers—-he spends his bullpen time spitting seeds into a cup in some type of contest…so do we REALLY need 8 pitchers while our bench is so feeble. This is an area that Manifesto insists upon in his roster construction… as it is now…. we don’t use our 8th pitcher while at the same time we have  a very  soft bench that has a combined ONE hit the entire 1st week. If the Cards are holding a spots for Gregerson and Holland….it’s somewhat understandable… but they’ve  wasted a roster spot for the first 2 weeks of the season while losing some close games…btw…didn’t we miss the playoffs by a single game last year?

…Marcell Ozuna hasn’t been “hot” yet but I still like his quick, aggressive swing. I think that he was an outstanding acquisition. He reminds me of the acquisition of Orlando Cepada many years ago…a marvelous hitter, always in the limelight behind a star (Cepada behind Willie Mays & Ozuna behind Staton) with a happy, pleasant personality that touched his teammates. Who could forget “cha-cha” and his 1967 year when he was the league MVP?

….What is the deal with Kolton Wong?  He’s played about half the games. Recently, Munoz was chosen as a starter over Wong….are you kidding me….this guy just made the team at the last minute… forget about the right-left stuff….play Wong at a minimum 5x/week until we REALLY know his level of play. We’ve been messing around with him for several years now….let’s really find out…..is he an everyday player …. Or not?

….Tommy Pham’s article in SI was very atypical Cardinal material.  He feels like the Cards delay in bringing him to the “big time” has cost him millions. Wouldn’t you feel the same?  Being a lower draft choice, suffering season ending injuries 3x in his career and his eye problems were reasons… I suppose.. that the Cards “passed” on moving Pham upwards earlier in his career.  Frankly….it’s rather refreshing to read some truly honest thoughts …outside the usual story line….from a Cardinal player.

….Outside the Cardinal baseball world….

….a crushing 4-3 defeat to the Blackhawks last Wednesday by the Blues recently really turned the playoff road into a much tougher course. The goal with 8.5 seconds was the result of a turnover by   defenseman Chris Butler….why in the world is that guy even on the ice in the waning seconds of one of the biggest games of the year. With Pietrangelo, Edmundson, Parayko on the bench..find 2 of these guys to finish out the game…in fact…go with your best players period…over the last 4 minutes of the biggest game of the year! Coach Yeo….that key loss is on YOU.

…part 2 Blues…..after losing to Colorado and not making the playoffs the Blues mgmt. must look at all phases of the team.  1st…Clearly the power play was about as powerful as the Army of Iceland. I’m still wondering…..on power plays the Blues seem to be assigned their “spot”….very little movement.. who is more difficult to stop….moving players or stand-still players.  I heard a “caller” to a sports talk show.. sometimes there are very good comments…. indicating that Brett Hull would move on the power play…. He would probe for openings…seemingly with  free will…circling around & through the defense during power plays…we know that he was highly successful…maybe it was a unique quality to him but he I’d like to see something of that nature tried by the Blues. 2nd…..I know that they signed Jake Allen for the long term….but he looked “shaky” to me…even on saves. I’m wondering if the Blues invested their money in the wrong goaltender?  3rd….the depth of strong, good players who can play defense AND offense needs to be increased. Our 2nd line & 3rd lines MUST be improved to compete. 4th….I don’t want to hear about “more effort”, “Digging deep”, and all those other hockey clichés for playing to your maximum level…..simply put….we just aren’t good enough…we simply doen’t have  enough skilled players.

…part 3 Blues….I heard Bernie Miklasz say on radio last week that if Joel  Quenneville gets fired in Chicago that the Blues should hire him immediately!!!  What does that tell you about his thoughts on Yeo?

….the Masters is my favorite golf tournament….I’m not a “big” golf fan….I generally just watch the 4 major tournaments…. It was fun on Sunday  to see Jordan Spieth make a run until he hit a hanging chad… oops… hit a hanging  tree limb….those professional golfers are really incredible with their shots. I must admit that the winner, Patrick Reed, doesn’t have the same body build as the other golfers but…boy..could  he putt ….play golf…and put on that green jacket.

….NCAA finals were last Monday night….the previous blog was written prior to that time….so some final thoughts…again the NCAA bball title is very enjoyable to watch. Like it or not…the college game mimics so closely the pro game now—continual clear outs, shots from the outer edges of the court, players who can…and do…jump  not inches… but feet above the rim. I enjoyed the Loyola run….it solidifies my thoughts that teams with very good winning records from “smaller” conferences ….like MO  Valley…. Those teams should be considered over any other teams that aren’t .500 in their conference games.  Many of the so-called upsets occurred with these big-name programs …often sub .500 in conference… being knocked off in the NCAA by lesser known teams … because those “big-names” didn’t really belong there.

…some names popping up in the 1st week of the MLB to take notice are….Matt Chapman –Oakland 3B..hitting .412 & 3 HR; Andrelton Simmons-Angels SS…..hitting .412…of course the mini-titan, Jose Altuve is again swimming the .400 waters. Gregory Polanco is the current leader of the MLB…as I write this with 12 RBI’s.  Fred Freeman…a long time terrific  hitter…. oft ignored … in Atlanta is carrying around a .409 average….on the other side of the early picture….GianCarlo Stanton sits with a .212 average…..it’ll be interesting….sometimes…..stars excel in desolate locations of MLB where the ground crew doubles the number of people watching the game…then when they get under the bright lights….things are different…clearly New York is totally different than Miami. Remember…one of Stanton’s desires was to sign with a team that had the “appropriate” night life…hmmmm…let’s see how THAT plays out…Will it be fastballs or highballs that Stanton knocks down?  All of you Peter Bourjas fans are seeing “your boy” doing his usual thing….he’s 0 for 7 thus far…..my question is….how DOES this guy stay in the MLB?  I mean track stars can run fast  and not hit too.  Evan Longoria must still be “moving in” at Frisco….clearly something’s off….he’s 1 of 19 at the plate.  

….on the other hand….from Sunday’s box scores…..clearly hitters are swinging for the long ball and averages are becoming less significant….easy to understand….who gets paid the “REALLY BIG” …. thank you Ed Sullivan…money?  Look at the averages of this starting 8–.206, .226, .176, .250, .138, .143, .300 (backup catcher), .278— was that Miami’s lineup….maybe Atlanta’s……nope….how about the Dodgers! Some might say….well….they’re off to a slow start…true….but how about another division champion from last year….the Cubs? Here were their batting averages on Saturday..179, .364 (Bryant), .200, .364, .200, .250, .208, .154. Pitchers…..at least good pitchers….are figuring out that with this upward swing, pitches can throw elevated pitches in the strike zone….baseball talk for higher pitches….they are harder to hit with that upward swing.

….where was the ol’ little league 10 run rule when you needed it?  The  Miami  Stumblebums… sometimes called the Marlins….lost to Philly 20-1 in a single game over the weekend….yes….20-1 in the MLB!! It was 17-1 after 5 innings. Miami will have a difficult time winning 60 games this year.

…in the High school baseball world….Lutheran South has charged off to a 9-1 start. After a successful trip to Florida  to open the season they have wins over  Francis Howell & Oakville locally ….annually two of the top baseball programs in the area. Sr Justin Budrovich is banging the ball around at a .667 average to lead the Lancers. Jr Brendan Kuhlmanm holds a .515 average. The Lancers are working to improve on their 23-9-1 mark of last season.

….in Boys Volleyball….the O’Fallon Panthers have jumped out to a 9-0 start. The Panthers haven’t lost a set in 2018!  Amy Sheehan, in her 1st year as head coach @ O’Fallon after away from volleyball coaching for 6 years. She’s been very pleased thus far….I guess so.  With key wins over Edwardsville 27-25, 31-29 and Affton 27-25, 26-24 already in their pocket, the players seem to be adjusting to the new system. Those wins were important wins at the start of the season because it ALWAYS instills confidence in themselves and the coach. Bryce Backus (43 kills) & Justin Hovick (40 kills) are the leading attackers. Connor Sheehan leads the club with 139 assists.

…well…it’s time for Jeb Stuart…ooops….me… to ride off  and look someplace else with my eyes …something like Jeb did prior to the key battle @ Gettysburg…..thx for reading. YOUR comments are always invited… just put them directly under the article on the Prepcasts page. Every comment is appreciated. They don’t have to be long.

Questions about ’18 Cards by Bob Ryan

The 2018 season is right upon us now…..as always there has been chatter all around the Lou since the 2017 World Series ended about what the Cards “needed to do”, “have to do”, “staying the same” etc, etc……since the first pitch takes place later this week……here are a few questions about the Cards… if the answers ….from play on the field & hitting in the batters box….result in a positive manner…things should be sunny for the Redbirds….here we go…..in no particular order….

  • Can Paul DeJong replicate his 2017 marks…he was voted #2 in the Rookie of the Year award for 2017…..last years marks of 422 ab, .280 avg, 22 dingers, 60 ribi’s…now he did strike out 107x last year…that’s 25% of his AB…seemed to keep a smile on all Cards fans…can he stretch those numbers out at the same pace for 162 games? Remember a guy names Aledmys Diaz in 2016? Diaz hit .300 in 404 AB with 17 HR in 2016….he was an all-star and was 7th in the ROY voting.
  • Adam Wainwright…..I think that this guy is one of the overall nicest, friendliest players that the Cards have seen in many years….further….he’s a real competitor….but….man….he’s 35 years old…he’s 4 years away from his last really “strong” year (2014-20 wins)…..last year his era was 5.11… gave up 140 hits in 123 innings…his WHIP was 1.5…..with only 123 innings…I mean…I really like the guy…but…clearly he’s past his prime….already having physical issues… Further…. I wish that he’d start every 6 days instead of every 5… how much do you REALLY expect of him?
  • I was…and still am….very happy about the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna. His bat seems quick & powerful….but last year was the FIRST and ONLY year of that type of production for Ozuna… and remember he had Stanton batting behind him…the 2017 marks of .312, 37 HR, 124 ribbies were fabulous….just a year earlier..2016 those marks were .266, 23 HR, 76 rbi’s and in 2015 those same categories looked like .259, 10 HR, 44 rbi’s…..will he get “good” pitches? Somehow…I don’t see anyone in a Card uniform that looks like GianCarlo Stanton in the warm up circle as Ozuna steps into the batters box.
  • The bullpen by committee will be a brand new road for Manifesto to travel…..in his history…it’s been ONE closer…get to the 9th and dial the number …in 2012—it was Motte… 2013 Mujica.. 2014&15 Rosenthal, 2016 Rosey & Oh…he used them over & over again because they were having success….pls note that each suffered arm “issues”after those years with thousands…. ok…only 70 appearances…now we’re to expect… Leone one night, Gregerson the next night…. then Lyons in the mix….this will be a major transformation for Manifesto in his style… will it happen?
  • Will this be the year that Kolton Wong actually plays on a daily basis? Can we get 145 games out of him?  He’s been on a yo-yo between the dugout & 2B for years now….live with his occasional error…his 0 for 4 days….so what.. his speed…his occasional “outstanding” defensive play balances out the errors…last year he hit .285 in 104 games…..injuries have been the cause …on occasion…but somehow he just doesn’t seem to get on the field enough from my perspective.
  • Is this the year that we finally mine some gold from our pitching “prospects”? We’ve heard .. it seems for years now…how many and how good our pitching prospects look…it seems that this entire group will be found on the Mt Rushmore of Starting Pitchers in a few short years…oops…. It should have been called Mt. Gibson….anyway…I’d like to remind everyone that the word “Prospect”  is close to Prospectors……we KNOW how many of the prospectors  actually found gold……it may or may not … be the same with our plethora of your pitching “prospects”….it’s time put up or shut up about the Great Prospects.
  • Jeff Gyorko was outstanding last year….but as the year progressed….he began seeing more breaking balls on the 1st pitch….which he never seems to swing at….often fell behind in the count… and was a different hitter than when he’s ahead in the count with a fastball on the way.
  • What’s the over/under for Dexter Fowler’s games played? Is it 125? Look at his games played from the last 5 years….2017-118; 2016-125; 2015-156; 2014-116; 2013-119….he seems to avoid DL time…but needs a “few days” here & there often enough to miss a lot of games.
  • Can Tommy Pham replicate his 2017 season after years & years in the minors? The recent revelation that his eye problems…oops…eyes issues have returned is troubling. Btw…I think that the Cards made a mistake in offering Pham only slightly above the minimum….now…will you wonder why…if he DOES become a star…that he’ll leave the Cards for some other team ASAP ?

There are questions about EVERY team…..I don’t intend on going through the run-downs on all 30 teams… I mean I DO have a life …. That being said…look at our ol’ friends…the Cubbies..

…OF questions…will Almora go forward or take a step back in his 2nd year in the OF…both of the corner OF are questionable about their hitting….Heyward & Schwarber…however their 2 man replacement crew….Ben Zobrist & Ian Happ play all over the field….so…they really do have a starting 10

….speaking of Zobrist….he’ll turn 37 in May…..in 2017 he hit .232 so maybe he’s on the steeper side of his decline than we noticed from afar….how fast will that decline accelerate?

….the bullpen was shaky last year….the acquisitions of Justin Wilson…who was horrible for the Cubbies after acquired last year….and Steve Cishek were aimed at bolstering the hard firing but erratic duo of Carl Edwards &  Pedro Strop. I can’t see Brendan Morrow being the same type of closer as Wade Davis… in fact …not even close to it….all those post season games in LA will catch up to him.

….injuries….the Cubs dealt with the injury of Wilson Contreras last year…one of their major stars…  but have yet to see Rizzo and/or Bryant miss many consecutive games….will it happen this year?

Some basketball thoughts…..

Last week wrapped up the HS bball season ..didn’t have a chance to kick it around…….so… want to highlight a couple dominant teams in Missouri that you may have missed or don’t know much about…no need repeating stuff that you already know…..on the girls side…

…Kirkwood HS Girls, 28-3, led by 7 seniors won back-back titles in Class 5  and were in the Championship game 3 consecutive years. Coach Monica Tritz, an Incarnate Word grad, has established a tremendous… yet oft overlooked program. In the 2018 STATE games….sectional, qtr, state semi & state championship games…the closest win was actually a 49-40 win over Oakville in round one! The 3 seniors who led the team were Mikayla Wallace…daughter of Jennings head Boys Coach, Travis Wallace; Jayla Everett..going to U of New Mexico next year and Jaidah Stewart. Stewart scored 2,037 points in her career and will be headed to U of Minnesota next year. The Pioneers aren’t expecting a major drop off next year with the return of the very talented Natalie Bruns.

…Class 3 Girls has been completely dominated by Strafford HS in the past 3 seasons. The Indians went 32-0 this season and are riding an 82 game winning streak with an incredible 95-3 record in the last 3 years under Head Coach Steve Frank. Strafford dominated the State Championship game as they trounced California….yes there IS a California HS in Missouri…..77-36. The twin duo of Kayley and Hayley Frank led the Indians….gee…that last name looks familiar. The sisters each went 9-for-10 shooting and had 20 and 22 points respectively.  Keep following this team next year….the longest consecutive winning streak in Missouri HS basketball is 102 games. It’s held by Marshfield 1987-90…..to top if off…it was the 500th victory for Coach Frank in his career.

Odds & Ends…

……only Coach Cal thought that his team was feeling overconfident with his pre-game “poison” speech…not many experts thought that the Kentucky Wildcats were REALLY in contention for the national title.. this club was not one of Coach Calipari’s best…by a long shot….they really only had two shots…dunks & long shots–3 balls… one has to wonder why they were so confident when they finished with 11 losses in the season….at any rate…K-State didn’t make them take the poison like Socrates…they just beat them. Now…if only Coach Cal could have just taught them to wait 90 seconds…while the winners celebrate…. to shake the hands of the winners.

….I don’t think that it’s coincidence that the Blues are playing very well recently….Jaden Schwartz has returned to the lineup and “back in shape” after missing several games due to injury. Often, the difference in hockey is very,very tiny….goals are scored just inches away from the goaltenders; shots fly by defenseman by inches, passes reach teammates just inches beyond the reach of defenseman….you get the idea….so when a talented player like Schwartz returns…he can find the tiny openings to success

…Bob Huggins …W.Virginia team got “had” in their game against #1 Villanova….ahead in the game with their defense throttling the Nova offense in the 1st half…..WV got called for 4-5 “touch” fouls within about 3 minutes that changed the complexion of the game. Even the analyst said something like, “well…by rules these are fouls…there’s contact”….true…..but that isn’t how the game is called any longer…Nova got to the foul line early & often in the 1st half to gradually crawl ahead …then later…while ahead in the game and more comfortable…. got hot from the outside and won comfortably. You don’t think the referees know who’s seeded #1?  As my Dad used to tell me….”come on, pinch yourself”

….the darlings of the dance…Loyola…advance to the Final Four….this is exactly what the NCAA hopes to get….1 darling & 3 bluebloods….btw…Bruce Weber doesn’t portray a real good image with his in-game emotions…..down deep….he may have been thinking…I’ve gotta make this Final Four…it may be the last chance of my career…he was really pumping on emotions…previously, he finished as the NCAA-Runner Up in 2004-05 with Illinois..a long, long time ago

….btw….slim chances of Coach Porter Moser remaining @ Loyola after this year…..he has a Senior team and he can now “cash in” for his family when he signs a large contract with a Power 6 school

…speaking of the great matchups …..Kansas vs Duke yesterday was like Cards v Cubs; Army v Navy; Ali vs Liston;  Ohio St vs Michigan football; Yanks v Red Sox; Lakers with Magic vs Celtics with Bird, Flair vs Hogan… whoooooooo…there is ALWAYS anticipation and excitement for those real, long time, rivals to meet head-on in a crucial game.

….perusing through the 2018 Cards Schedule….Cards open with the Mets on March 29 in NY. On April  24-25-26 the Cards host the Mets. Their next series…..it’ll be in 2019!  Isn’t it rather foolish to complete the year long series with a team before the end of April?  Pls….let’s not blame the computer….humans can…and should .. check for such aberrations in the schedule. Btw…..the month of May & June look very favorable for the Cards…32 home games total and road trips against weaker teams.  July appears to be the toughest month of the season for the Cards.

….just listening to the Cards-Marlins spring games…..the Florida fans…both of them …..are in for a loooonnnnggggg season….that team is horrible. Too many MLB teams are also “tanking” ….using the TV income to show a profit despite fielding substandard teams.

….piggybacking on the last idea….Miguel Cabrera..was complaining recently…he’s on the Tigers who have gone into the “tanking” mode by shipping off as many quality players as possible….unfortunately… for the Tigers….Cabrera’s huge salary has him anchored to Detroit….the 34 year old has 15 years of MLB experience..2x MVP, 6x batting AL batting champion, has 462 HR, 1613 rbi’s has already earned $216m and is signed through 2025..40 years old @ $30m/year….it’s hard to feel sorry for him with that cash tumbling in….but…..all players love…or should love…to compete…he won’t be doing that in Detroit.

….with most MLB teams hunting for strong relief hurling….it’s a bit puzzling to see Greg Holland still on the FA market…..He led the NL in saves last year with 41…..Holland rejected a $15m player option and a $17.4m qualifying offer months ago and apparently wants to be on a contender…but like some of the other Scott Boras’ clients…..he has seen the price tag go DOWN on FA this winter and the contenders seemed to have already made their decisions on the closing role…poor guy …he’s going to have to “rough it” on a paltry $7-$10m this year…

….when the KC Royals biggest acquisitions this off-season were Lucas Duda & John Jay and they lost well known players like Eric Hosmer &  CF Lorenzo Cain but also saw their relatively unknown bullpen corp depleted with the departures of Scott Alexander, Joakim Soria, Mike Minor, and Peter Moylan. Our friends to the west of us may be in for a long…..tough….. 2018 season.

That concludes our questions..and ….some answers… for the day….thx for making it to the bottom.

On-Off-Back from sports injuries by Bob Ryan

There have always been sports injuries…..they’ve clearly changed over the years….Tommy John procedure has saved many MLB pitchers from early retirement….advanced medical ideas & procedures assist quick and complete recovery in many types of injuries that formerly lasted longer and developed into more severe consequences. But…the “DL” behind a players name occurs seemingly more frequently than decades ago…albeit for 10 days…..some thoughts are getting ON-OFF-BACK from sports injuries…

…first thought…..for decades, it seems, players thought it was a privilege to earn the starting position and play every day….I’m not so sure that sentiment…at least in part…has been replaced by an attitude of playing when I’m at my “best” being fully healthy & rested.  Second part to those numbers is the current managerial inclinations to get the best “match up”…. Left handed hitter vs right handed pitcher, etc….some of my thoughts…managers should play the BEST players on their roster daily..or almost daily…as far as changing the attitudes of the players…it’s possible that their current attitude reflects the current societal views on work in general. Check out the numbers  over the last 50 years in 10 year increments below…. with respect to field players playing 148+games and pitchers throwing over 190 innings….I must admit….I had forgotton some of those starting pitchers names.

2017 Cards- 3rd place 83-79  Matt Carpenter was the team leader in games played @145  Carlos Martinez was only pitcher over 190 with 205 innings.

2008 Cards-4th place 86-76  4 players played 148 games are more—Skip Schumaker-153, Ryan Ludwick-152, Troy Glaus-151, Albert Pujols-148; 3 pitchers pitched more than 190 inn—Kyle Loshe 200, Brandon Looper-199, Todd Wellemeyer -191

1998 Cards 3rd place 83-79   3 players over 150+ games-Mark McGwire-155, Ray Lankford-154, Brian Jordan-150…leading pitchers in innings pitched had just 161 innings –Kent Mercker & Todd Stottlemyer

1988- 5th place 74-88   Ozzie Smith-153, Vince Colemana-153, Tony Pena-149; only Jose DeLeon-225 was above 190

1978- 5th place  63-93   Keith Hernandez 159, Garry Templeton-155, Ted Simmons-152; over 190 innings pitched- John Denny-234,  Bob Forsch-233, Pete Vukovich-198

1968 Cards- 1st place-97-65 5 players played in 150+ games-Lou Brock-159, Orlando Cepada-157, Mike Shannon-156, Dal Maxvill-151, Curt Flood-150 ; 4 pitchers pitched 215+ innings- Bob Gibson – 304, Nelson Briles-243, Steve Carlton-232, Ray Washburn-215…5 players over 150 game and 4 pitchers over 215 innings….and 97 wins! They didn’t seem to tire too much, did they?

….2nd thought on a specific Card injury…so much of last year Matt Carpenter suffered with back pains…yes…he did lead the team in games played-145 but we often heard of his “playing through the pain” talk……he and the Cardinals had an entire winter to have his back “checked out”…..nothing…and already he’s barely played in Florida…..to me…this reflects very poorly on Carpenter AND the Cardinals for allowing this same ailment to persist…personally… I don’t’ want to hear about the Cards missing him….they should have taken care of business last winter.

…..coming back from injuries in mid to late-season…especially in sports like basketball…is difficult…players assume their roles …i.e. outside shooters, penetrators, rebounders, playmakers…  etc….when a player like Michael Porter jumps into the starting lineup against Georgia…even with all his talent…players roles are modified, his endurance was shallow and his personal expectations about shooting seemed to perplex the other players…he did shoot 17 shots (5 of 17) in 23 minutes….the usual shooters—Kassius Robertson & Jordan Bartnett had poor shooting games but…..clearly the offense was “out of kilter”. I think Porter may felt like that he “had” to show the pros that he could play at the highest collegiate level in order to ensure his very high draft pick selection…..a natural feeling but….I’m not so sure that he accomplished his goal

…still another injury thought that I’ve mentioned previously…the DL in baseball is being abused… players don’t fear that they’ll lose their job to that “hot & upcoming” rookie any longer…the 10 day DL must be abolished….make it a minimum of 20 days

….gee….I don’t have any medical training but some things are obvious….the 1st week of spring training, we read all about the muscular look of newly acquired Tyler O’Neill….so what happens….he pulls a muscle …at this point…..with respect to Nature Boy…..I just don’t think that O’Neill is going to be “the Man” this year or any year….remember, Seattle a team that seeks power from anyone….gave up on him…my personal flavor of the month is Adolis Garcia… I believe that he’ll be on the roster by May 1 if not April 1.

….sometimes, players try “playing through” their injuries……admirable but not always wise….for example….Jay Bouwmeester’s hip injury is severe…..I’m not even close to a hockey guy but I do know that the Blues were surrendering tons of goals over the past several weeks….not surprising when you realize one of key defenseman has  been struggling with a bad hip

…Blues injury list lengthens with Scottie Upshall being added with the Bow-Man to DL…it’ll make us bring up some of those “prospects” for a 1st hand look at them under fire

…I don’t think that there is anything  injured or wrong about the free agent system…for years and years…fans have moaned about the gigantic salaries of the players….now teams are evaluating long term contracts and realizing that generally they DON’T pay off for the team in the long run with most players…superstars YES….most starting players-NO…hence Lance Lynn, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb are still swimming around in the free agent waters… while Mike Moustakas…who had turned down a $17.4m offer in November from KC has to settle with the Royals for $6.5m last week …it has multi-year options based on production.. sounds fair to me

Other odds & ends

….Cards missed an opportunity…..I just don’t think that placing Carson Kelly in a back-up role is going to enhance his development or really help the Cards win this year…..Jonathan Lucroy just signed a 1 year deal for $6.5m with the Oakland A’s…Lucroy would have been a terrific backup catcher for Yadi…allowing Yadi to play 1b more frequently or Lucroy can play 1B as a backup…Kelly could have been dealt for the ever coveted “draft” picks or a starter.

….Soooo…..in college basketball….you compete in conference basketball for 3+ months just to get seeded in a 1 week tournament…..clearly the trials, struggles, all the road games, and tribulations of a 3 month schedule are erased as a #2,3,4 seed …or lower…wins the automatic guarantee to the big dance with a 3-4 day tournament win…I would prefer that the conference champion get the automatic guarantee and the tournament champion would get the consideration….I realize that the post-season conference tourneys are here to stay …for one reason….$$$$$$…btw….between conference tournaments and the  3 week long NCAA tournament that requires player-students to miss many, many classes…the NCAA can give lip service to their concern about student education but their actions speak much louder about making huge $$$ for several missed class days rather than the student’s success off the court.

…just noticed….John Caliperi has taken Kentucky to 8…now it’ll be 9 ….NCAA tournaments and has won only 1 NCAA Championship…..another btw…..Kentucky has been to the NCAA tournament every year but one (2008-09) since 1991…as you can imagine that led to the firing of Billy Gillespie and brought in John Calipari

…what mighta been….Mizzou passed on Coach Bill Self back years ago….Self landed @ KU…his yearly trips to the NCAA since 2003 have resulted in 1 National Championship; 1 National Runner-up; 5 Elite Eights; 2 Sweet Sixteens; 3 Second Round and in early in his KU career 2 First round games…now that isn’t to say that Mizzou would have matched those marks but it is to say that Mizzou missed on a very, very good coach.

 

Sunny Side Up by Bob Ryan

As the winter sky fades away grudgingly every day, the sun appears brighter and longer for us each day. If you’ve had the opportunity to sneak away to Florida at this time of the year, the difference is refreshing and striking. Well….we DO have plenty of bright things going on around us here in the Lou…
…There is optimism….yet some grousing…over the Cards. We’ve been spoiled for a long time now…12x post season and 4 World Series (2-2) in the new millennium….we’ve missed it the last 2 years….and many of us are whining….stop for a sec….do you know how lame that sounds to fans in Philly, Cincy, Angels, Mariners, White Sox, Atlanta and many other MLB franchises . I’m not predicting a World Series Parade in Oct 2018 but we WILL have another competitive team that should be in the playoff considerations. Their play gets the Lou fans emotionally involved…and entertained…Let’s enjoy the ups & downs provided by the Cards in 2018.
….this week the Blues traded Paul Stastny…there was an immediate outcry….you would have thought that we traded Brett Hull in the highlight of his career…I thought it was a good move and enhanced future prosperity….1) Stastny was in the final year of his contract…he would have walked away at the end of the season 2) his production had dipped noticeably of late…1 point in last 5 games & just 4 goals since Jan 1; 3) His playing time had been cut back to the lowest totals of the season in his last 2 games (16:17 & 16:34) 4) Blues were floundering in the midst of a long losing streak 5) It was apparent by the move that GM Armstrong concedes that this team is NOT a Stanley Cup contender…maybe …. maybe ….a playoff team…. but not a genuine contender for the Cup. Some of the players moaned his departure…. too bad….their extremely poor play in recent weeks dictated this move. I suspect that Stastny will be rejuvenated on a Winnipeg team that seems to have momentum….so be it… we can only judge him on what he was doing right now …here in the Blues uny….I wish him luck but agree with Armstrong….look ahead.
….let’s appreciate the strides made @ SLU basketball….after 3 sub .500 years, Travis Ford ….despite losing almost all of his highly touted 2017 recruiting class, that was rated as the best of the A-10—Jordan Goowin & Hasahn French and transfers Adonys Henriqauez, DJ Formen, Javon Bess & Ty Graves…has pushed this team to a 16-14 record, tied for 5th in A-10 @ 9-9. With Ford’s recruiting prowess, it will more than likely jump the Bills up into the upper echelon of the A-10
…seemingly always quietly successful on the basketball court, the Washington U Bears Men’s Team piled up another strong year with a 22-4 record this year … Congratulations to the team & school for integrating sports into the educational program….not the other way around
….Yadier Molina has been the epitome of what Cardinal fans want in a player….he plays every day.. much to the chagrin of some current fans who want Kelly used more often….. his attitude seem to demonstrate happiness at being here in the LOU…could you imagine him anywhere else?…..his batting—while not glossy numbers often provides key hits in critical spots of games. I will concur that his defensive skills have slipped…. the official scorekeepers @STL don’t have the word “passed ball” in their vocabulary…it’s ALWAYS a wild pitch…but his ability to frame pitches is of the highest quality and his skills at “setting up” batters is terrific…..let’s continue to enjoy Yadi …..in a recent poll of writers….. Yadi was rated #5 in MLB catchers for 2018…
….another basketball success is in Columbia…Cuonzo Martin’s hiring and the subsequent hiring of Asst Coach, Michael Porter Sr opened up the Tigers to having the entire Porter clan moving to CoMO… talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse….Michael Porter Jr may actually be on the court soon…but not for long….the NBA will be grabbing him (if reports are accurate) in the spring draft.. JonTay is transitioning to collegiate basketball…as a matter of fact…I wish that they’d get HIM the ball late in the game..let the guards bring it up and then find JonTay….I believe that the “end of the game” issues for the Tigers would be alleviated. Don’t forget his daughters, Bri & Cierra , are integral parts of the Mizzou Womens’ basketball team. Mizzou is 20-11 now, 10-8 in SEC…tied with Kentucky…let that sink in….tied with Kentucky….a team that seemed eons ahead of us over our time in the SEC….With this immediate turn-around, I anticipate Mizzou having a banner year in recruiting this spring.
…optimism in other parts of CoMO…Head Baseball Coach Steve Bieser has the baseball Tigers off to an 9-3 start…yes…..college baseball does play in February! Last year the Tigers went 36-23 in Biesers’s 1st year at the helm.
…..maybe my eyes aren’t seeing it right….I am not real confident about the Cards rotation…but…in a report compiled by “Expert Consensus Ranking (32 of 33 Experts) – Mar 1, 2018”, you find Cards starters rated in this manner in the NL ….Martinez #9, Luke Weaver #20,Michael Wacha #30,Alexander Reyes #34,Miles Mikolas #39…I have to admit …I wonder about the credibility of this “group of experts” when they list Mikolas #39 in the NL ….but…..it is encouraging!
….after Mikolas’ early disappointing showings in Florida…..I’m optimistic that he’ll be moved to the bullpen and maybe become the “bridge man” that I’ve hoped to see in recent years….Bridge Man= 2-3 innings of early relief…attempting to get to the 9th inning with only ONE bullpen man
…Missouri held their HS districts in class 4-5 last week…excitement and enthusiasm reign during this week…..some observations on boys basketball..
…..getting hot at the right time…seeded #4 Bishop Tolton (Columbia, MO) with an 11-13 record in Class 3, Dist 9….Tolton won easily in round 1, upset the #1 seed Blair Oaks 49-48 in the semis and won the district easily over our friend, Ben Smith’s team–St. James 65-41
…being at the right place, right time…in Class 4, District 10…only one team was over .500 at the start of district…the Webb City Cardinals were voted the #1 seed with a 13-12 record
…most exciting district championship…Class 4, District 1…Sikeston(25-2) 47 Cape Central 46 (23-5)
…in the Class 4 District 3 title game…a game between two of the top ranked “small” schools in St. Louis in front of a packed, highly enthusiastic crowd…the team that I’m lucky enough to cover..#4 St. Mary’s Dragons(26-3) missed their first 6 or 7 shots but then caught on fire…and kept the fire blazing until the final buzzer with a convincing 91-64 win over the #3 ranked team Confluence Prep Academy now 23-5. It was the 1st loss of the season by the Titans to any Missouri team. On a predominantly Senior team @SM, Jr point guard Yuri Collins led the way…19 pts, 4 reb, 6 assists and 2 steals. Seniors Tony Burks & Yahuza Rasas were also major factors also….Burks had 18 pts, 4 boards, 3 ast, 3 steals…. Rasas 13 pts, 9 rebound, 3 st, 6 blocks. The Dragons face 2x defending Champion, Vashon Tuesday @ Parkway West HS… a team that they lost to last year in overtime in the same Sectional round.
…spring football is the epitome of optimism….carrying the ball to the next level…let’s look at the top 4 incoming Frosh @ Mizzou who have already raised expectations…in an area that needs replenishing… Dback Chris Mills; Running back- Simi Bakare…two productive runners in front of him….so look for him early in the cupcake games to see how he produces; WR Kam Scott—speed merchant from Tx; Special Teams – Dominic Gicinto..just 5-9, 170…so he BETTER be able to run …
…Scott Frost HAS to be thrilled….he was just hired @his alma mater-Nebraska after developing Cen Florida into a national power….but …according to some he has the toughest schedule in the country… the Cornhuskers are on the road against Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Ohio State & Iowa… Nebraska also has as non-conference foes a revitalized Colorado program and Troy…one of those unknows…who beat LSU last year.
….I have to tip my hat to the SEC….if you can find a way to make money…they do it….so in the 14 team SEC… a logical brackets would have been a 16 team brackets with 2 byes for the top 2 teams… but no….let’s stretch it out to 5 days…go to 2 Wednesday games when the televised schedule is light…more SEC coverage…..it’s a 32 team bracket with only 2 games in the 1st round and the top four teams getting byes…missing 3 school days for a conference tourney…no big deal
….I think that the Cards are sly…and optimistic… about their real intentions of succeeding Yadi…. catcher Andrew Knizner hit .302/.349/.471 with 23 doubles & 12 dingers last year in his 1st full pro season and jumped all the way up to Double-A…..maybe ….just maybe… HE’S the one! His meteoric rise may have given the Cards pause and 2nd thoughts on Carson Kelly?
…Senior ceremonies vary from school to school…..I’m optimistic the SLU will consider modifying their current approach…AFTER the tough Billiken loss to St. Bonaventure 64-56…SLU held their SR ceremony… Travis Ford gave excellent praise to his band of seniors in his talk to the crowd….but it was AFTER the game….I’m proposing …optimistically…that on the SR game day….it doesn’t HAVE to be the last game…that SLU schedule back-back women-men games…or…men-women games ….let the ceremony be held between the games….1 ticket admission for both games
…optimism is high on the UMSL campus as they celebrate the terrific Women’s Season…notching their 21st win in the 1st round of the GLVC Tournament marked some significant achievements… 6th year Head Coach, Kate Vaughn became the winningest coach in the history of the program with her 98th win. Coach Vaughn recorded her second 21 win season @ UMSL. One of her players, Jordan Fletcher moved into the 4th all-time scoring spot in UMSL women’s history. Fletcher passed up Kim Cooper (88-92) who was at the 1270 mark.
….hopefully, we’ve made your day a bit more optimistic…..next week I’ll be back to my usual snarky, contrarian, tell it like it is…. self…..have an optimistic week

Not Dunkirk but DONEkirk by Bob Ryan

We’re all familiar with the British evacuation on Dunkirk….for that moment of the war, it was over for the British on European soil….well….now it’s DONEkirk….other areas of sports that are near the end…SHOULD be near the end….or may be near the end…here we go ..

…..with Jose Aquendo & Mike Maddux …not only available…but expecting to be a major part of the decision making…..if Manfesto’s club stumbles out of the starting block…he may be DONEkirked….although its unlikely considering the MO-Manifesto relationship

…..with almost half the MLB teams DONEkirked for 2018….the challenge for the comish is to find ways to engage those teams in attempting to become competitive again…….ya think that the networks and sponsors haven’t noticed? When the money begins to drop….the action by the MLB will elevate and lead to change.

….Cliff Floyd’s suggestion about ways to speed up MLB games…would put an end to the Comish’s additional rules….Floyd urges the PLAYERS to take charge themselves…speed the game up in little ways… without rule modifications by the Comish…more rules make for more arguments, slow downs, frustration on players & fans

…..the Blues appear to be evacuating their hopes of a strong finish to the season….1st line is strong….2nd line …primarily of highly paid, aging vets has been quiet…very quiet since about Jan 1…when their legs began slowing down….our 3rd line is more like a 4th line…and our 4th line has players that regularly bounce up & down between the NHL & the minors…as I write this the Blues are in 5th place in their division with 72 pts….just 1 pt behind the Wild and2 pts behind the Dallas Stars

…before sailing on the Cardinal ship seemingly loaded with talent into the season…..this week an SI foursome of writers listed the top 100 MLB players in order…# 1 thru 100…..the top Cardinal listed was Marcell Ozuna @ #45…shockingly …at least to me…@#51 was Tommy Pham and the 3rd Cardinal listed in the top 100 players …batters AND pitchers…@#92 was Matt Carpenter. Some choices that raised my eye-brows….@#61 JD Martinez….yea…the guy who wanted $120m…the 3 players immediately above him #60 Elvis Andrus, #59 Luis Severeno and #58 Ender Inciarte (OF-Braves…I have to look up his team and position because most of you…like me…said “WHO??”….btw…#1-10 were…in order…Michael Trout, Jose Altuve, Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Joey Votto, Mookie Betts (??), Clayton Kershaw, Nolan Arrendo, Carlos Correa and Paul Goldschmidt….. a couple reactions….after reading these evaluations, the Cards fans better Dunkirk their hopes for a really “big” season…PC for Division Championship… and secondly….I don’t want these guys drafting MY fantasy team .

….while I’m on the Blues….Let’s DONEkirk the idea that we’re losing games solely due to lack of effort…this team isn’t good enough…if a player wasn’t giving effort on a regular basis…or even…on an infrequent basis….I’d remove him from my roster regardless of his “talent”…. every professional should be expected to provide maximum effort each and every game… that’s the MINIMUM expected of a pro…fans should expect no less

….this Winter Olympics has evacuated from the thoughts that the USA & Russia must dominate the games……Norway has really been terrific……while there have been some tremendous achievements by the Americans….some extremely exciting…but no one could say that we “dominated”

…so on Sat night, I had the chance to attend the Billikens game as the Bills  powered their way past George Washington U..the inside game was too much for the Colonials to stop but it was there that common sense had been evacuated (DONEkirked)….at halftime, I went to concession stand to purchase a few things including an adult beverage….much to my shock, surprise, befuddlement, almost amusement….I was “carded”…..I asked the attendant, “ you mean that I don’t look 21?”….she responded, “We’re told to card everyone”….where is common sense? I have 4 sons …ALL of which are significantly above the legal drinking age.. oh well….now… I was bragging that I looked under 21 and was carded .

…btw….it was the first time that I’ve watched the Bills play with their 7 man squad….seems low until….I checked the Colonials  playing time after the game….they also had played just7 men extensively and the 8th played just 5 minutes….sooo….our worries may be DONEkirked.

….I haven’t DONEkirked my idea that another unknown young OF will supplant Harrison Bader by June 1…maybe April 1…. on the Cards roster…if he makes it that long.

….as promotions for the MVC tournament start to proliferate…. A glance at their teams doesn’t really “draw” much attention…there isn’t a team or 2 that really pop out at you or that have a real chance to advance thru the NCAA brackets…. soooo….Loyola (Chicago) is the top team….followed by SIU, Ill State, Drake & Bradley…the bottom 5 teams are MO State, Indiana St, Evansville,  N.Iowa & Valpariso…for many sports fans…their interest may have been DONEkirked  due to the lack of long-standing rivalries and highly ranked teams.

….I had proposed an idea to DONEkirk the current approach to the ridiculous 10 day DL ….I would propose..again—did it last year too… expanding the roster to 27…let only 25 dress out for each game…similar to hockey….that would be a MAJOR concession to the MLB union players association by MLB management…in return…abolish 10 and 15 day DL’s….AND any player put on the DL would have his salary reduced by 1/3 while on the DL….these players are performers….performers in other areas…e.g. last summer Billy Joel played @ Busch…if he had been “hurt”…his pay would have been zero…nada…nothing….so my proposal still pays them 2/3 for recovering….the union would have to “give back” something for the roster expansion…..for a minor “boo-boo” they could be players #26 or 27 on the roster and just sit it out for a couple days while receiving full pay.…now this 1/3 number would be negotiable…

….in college basketball….lets DONEkirk some of the time outs….with 4 media time outs a half, I would propose 1 other timeout in the 1st half and 2 in the 2nd half…..there are WAY too many stoppages….let the game go on

…While I’m on college basketball….the women have been playing 4 quarters instead of 2 halves for couple years now..let’s DONEkirk the Half approach…..it actually seems like a better game with the quarters….there is NO one & one FT situation…on the 5th foul of a quarter, it’s automatically 2 shots….in some games, a team doesn’t get to that 5th foul level

….apparently Vegas has DONEkirked the Cards chances of winning the Series for 2018….StL is 20:1 as are the Angels  and the Mets  who are also 20:1..there were 7 teams above them

….We could DONEkirk a basic premise of the MLB …. That games may not be quicker…. Well….how about shortening the time between innings without giving up sponsorship time…..after every out….or every 3rd batter….pop an ad up in the corner of the picture as they do online….those 20 second pics would be there as the announcers continue talking baseball (hopefully it’ll be baseball)…baseball games sometimes make one feel like that they are Noah waiting for the water to go down….sooooo long 

….without changing the games, couldn’t we DONEkirk the size of the fields for pro sports?….football, hockey and basketball have all OUTgrown the size of their playing fields… at the minimum, make them wider.

…..back to the MLB….lets DONEkirk the idea that a batter can step out of the box after every pitch….if he doesn’t swing….he should not be allowed to step out of the box …usually to adjust a batting glove that hasn’t moved if he hasn’t swung the bat.

…the USA Womens’ Hockey team performance not only won them the gold…but the play was entertaining, the effort very high and exciting…. nothing to evacuate there

…..the appeal process of the MLB should be DONEkirked…..why let the mgr stand on the top step…holding up the game so someone else can watch the replay before he appeals?…..make him appeal immediately …using his own eyes like the umpire…to make his appeal

…..along the MLB appeal process……let’s DONEkirk the length of time to make a decision….often in the stadium when the fans watch a couple different angles of the replay…they KNOW the correct call….yet the umpires talk, watch…or whatever they are doing….they can order their dinner later …  the final decision takes considerably longer….give the league/umpires 90 sec to make a decision….if it can’t be determined to be incorrect in that length of time…the call “stays”…move on….

….sooo…when are the Las Vegas Golden Knights going to be DONEkirked?   This expansion team is still in 1st place in the Pacific division of the Western Conference. They are 40-16-4 for 84 points. One of their key players is David Perron….recognize the name? …he was DONEkirked by the Blues for the draft…..he was a 1st round pick in 2007, now 29 years old, Perron has 14 goals and 41 ast=55 points….the leading scorer for the Blues is Brayden Schenn- also with 55 points

…many times @ the High School level…when Districts begin…the sub .500 teams have evacuated their hopes of winning the distric and are looking forward to free time after school….  once in a while that isn’t true…take Carnahan HS..Carnahan was a 8-13 at the beginning of Class 3 district play…albeit many of the losses had been at the hands of larger, teams…in round 1, Carnahan upended Roosevelt (7-16) in unspectacular fashion 68-60. In the semis, the Cougars were able to sneak by Lift for Life HS 59-57. Facing Maplewood R-H in the Championship looked to be a challenge. The Blue-Devils had upset #1 seed Cardinal Ritter….Carnahan behind 28 pts by Aaron Brookins toppled Maplewood 62-51 to earn the District Title!  Congrats to the Cougars!

….I’m not so sure that the two signing dates for NCAA football is an improvement….let’s DONEkirk the 2nd one…..most of the “hot” recruits are signed in December….the 2nd tier .. for the most part…are signed later….why all the drama?   After the 1st date, permit the leftovers to sign on any day……why must it be done on a particular day?….It’s a big day for them individually but “on the whole”…. most don’t really care…

….well….this blog is now reached its  DONEkirk….thx for making it to the bottom…It’d be wonderful to read YOUR thoughts on people/areas/procedures that need to be DONEkirked! Put them directly on the Prepcasts site (under the article)….or send them to me…I’ll publish them with only your initials….

Still Up in the Air by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

                 

same ol’, same ol’ … sometimes by Bob Ryan

As winter continues with us….hockey playoffs seem galaxies away….MLB baseball is still talking but not playing….March Madness a month away….some of the good ol’ stuff just isn’t here now….maybe in a lot of ways..

….there are still some significant MLB free (what an inappropriate word) agents unsigned…of course the agents…who’ve promised their clients millions of dollars..or maybe even billions….are hollering about collusion…… take a deep look @ this ol’ assumption…

….Since MLB teams NOW bring in more money from outside sources other than the Gate ….e.g.  in 2016…can’t find any 2017 numbers….guess they’re still juggling the numbers ….anyway in 2016 using the Cardinals… their revenue was $310m with $127m coming directly from the gate revenue…I’m sure that they are typical in that respect of earnings from the gate is NO longer the primary income…. there’s the local income for media rights, in-stadium sales…those $9 beers pile up, merchandising of official Cardinal stuff all year long and then there’s the big-moma….income for national media rights… what does that mean for free agents?….

…IF you are a team that  feels like that you are a contender and NEED to fill a particular spot on your roster, some of those teams WILL  pay the big price but there are already 10 or so teams this off season who have declared that they are “rebuilding”…PC term for we’re gonna lose with cheap guys and hope we can find real players later

…then there are the always wealthy franchises …LA Dodgers, Boston, Cubs, Giants, Tigers who are generally active in the free agent market to fill their needs….but…..the luxury tax penalty has taken a toll….e.g. the Dodgers paid a luxury tax of $30+m over the past few  years …these big spenders have halted their ramping upward to snatch each & every free agent who looks good to the eye…these big-spenders have been reaching for their wallet for a while now ..a long while…the Yanks have paid a”luxury tax” 15 consecutive years…of course it includes all the “dead” money that they have to pay..they paid $22.3m to players no longer on the 2017 team with $21m of that total going to A-Rod alone!! Other teams landing on the luxury tax spot…the only other place I ever heard that term prior to the last 2 years was on the Monopoly board …. are the Dodgers ..5 straight years…Red Sox/Giants for 3rd consecutive years & Cubs/Tigers are 2-time offenders…finally…it seems they teams are slowing down on their long term high payments to their stars…soooooo. Free agents don’t have the big spenders at the table

…and then there are the teams like the Phillies….NO ONE ever says ….”Oh yeah…those Phillies know what they’re doing”….well…in 2016…which team…according to Forbes mad the most money… yep…the Philadelphia Phillis made $88m while posting a 71-91 record…..why WOULD they want big-time free agents when they are making money as a non-contender?

…..Remember….for the owners….the goal is to make money……sometimes you need a winning team to do it….sometimes you don’t’…read above paragraph

…now if you want to travel to the other side of the tracks and listen to the agents…according to the agents the players percentage of the revenue has dropped from a peak of 56% in 2002 to 40% in 2015…of course…they fail to mention that the overall money pie being sliced up is FAR, FAR larger in 2015 than 2002.

…Generally fans can’t identify with the players…..their annual salaries are well publicized, scrutinized, and when a guy strikes out, is  thrown out, gets bashed as a pitcher…many moan, “and that guy is getting  paid $____(fill in the blank)…the owners seem to escape our criticism unless they DON’T pay enough payroll …e.g. Bill Bidwill…..this is an interesting dilemma for the fans… They want the owners to be generous but the players to not earn tremendous amounts of money…how does that work???

…so…the long of the short of it…..free agents may get a little less…or fewer years on their contract  this year  but…..they still are living “the good life”…and its due to US…the fans….who support MLB on and off the field.  It’s isn’t the same ol’ same ol’ approach to handling free agents.

…along the most recent Free Agent signings…Yu Darvish goes to the Cubs. He’s at least as good as Arrieta has been for the last couple years.  This has been the plan of the Cubs mgmt. team….draft field players who will be high quality and be “under control” for several years then buy the pitchers…why?  They felt that too many drafted pitchers  “never make it” due to arm issues while field players…the best ones…will have many more productive seasons for a team prior to their free agent years.  So far…it’s working out for them.

Odds & Ends…….

 For most of us….we were taught to be a man..or woman….. of your word…..doesn’t seem like the same ol’ same ol’ on that either…Josh McDaniels (NE off coordinator) accepts the Head Coaching  job verbally for Indianapolis Colts than 22 days later reverses course and turns down the job…. Meanwhile…several prominent candidates for the Colts have been gobbled up in the interim…..most are guessing that McDaniels will  be Belichick’s successor but maybe he picked that skill up from his current mentor…Bill Belichick …in 2000, Belichick resigned as coach of the Jets with a handwritten note within 24 hours of signing!!

….sometimes I wish that the Billikens had stayed with the same ol’ same ol’ and not departed the Missouri Valley Conference…discounting the manageable distance for fans, the decrease in travel expenses for the school, the addition of more days out of class due to trips, the history of SLU in the MVC…discounting all that…in ranking of the top 11 major basketball collegiate conferences in the USA…who’s the 11 on the list?…the Atlantic 10…the lowest spot….the Missouri Valley is #10 so it’s not a major jump upward…..but it is a move upward. Boy…just think if the same ol, same ol’ teams were still in the MVC…Wichita State, Tulsa, Bradley, Cincinnati,  Creighton, N. Texas St …a look way back in the MVC shows these schools being members  at one time Louisville (1963-74),  Houston  (63-74), Washington University of St Louis(1907-1942)…..and at one time most of the schools that later formed the Big 8 conference were members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

…The names of professional franchises don’t stay same ol’, same ol’ …they change…Recently the Cleveland Indians “shelved” Chief Wahoo emblem on their hat…apparently,  PC America ?….anyway look at most of the Names…there are distinct categories….for example..the animal names—Cubs, BlueJays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Tigers, Marlins… Then there are the human vocational names—Padres, Mariners,  Pirates, Brewers, Rangers, Royals… another category are the demographics names….Mets (Metropolitans), Twins, Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers ..Phillies & Dodgers?….. well….the Dodgers name originated in Brooklyn in 1890’s when Brooklyn began installing/using trolley lines… unfortunately there were many collisions with pedestrians…even fatal ones…so the Dodgers were the people who dodged the trollies!  The name ran the almost exactly the same lifespan as the Brooklyn Dodgers…last Trolley ran on Oct 30, 1956…11 months later team moved to LA….in that vein…WHAT should the LA team be called?  LA Highway Men?  LA MovieStars?…maybe just LA Stars?LA Crush? LA fog?….. What’s YOUR idea for a LA name? Yankees actually are exactly what it says..Yanks…originally known as the Highlanders since they played in the higher elevation of Manattan,..they were also called the Americans…..so the nickname for Americans from this area was Yankees… or another possibility….Yankees may have stemmed from Civil War references… or….maybe yet….it goes way back to the 18th century…the word Yankees was a derogatory name for the colonists… you take ur pick!… The Phillies name  was an abbreviation….the NL team established there was called the Philadelphias…that was shortened to the Phillies….so actually they are the Philadelphia Philadephians.  Some names are distinct to an area— Rockies, Astros…some…well….I guess you can find reasons for Rays…sting Rays?, Sun Rays? There are the hoosiery names—White Sox, Red Sox and the Red…once called the Redlegs. Then you have the non-humans…Angels and Giants.  Braves names is probably on its way out also….if Chief Wahoo got scalped can his fellow Braves be far behind?  What nicknames would you like?  I think the NBA has some of the best nicknames that have a local reference to them….Rockets, Celtics …Boston is known for its heavy numbers of Irishmen, Lakers …originally in Minnesota…. 76’ers, Suns, Spurs, Nuggets, Pistons, Pelicans, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Pacers, Mavericks. The non-area related names—Bulls,  Magic, Grizzlies, Warriors seem appropriate.

…..The Olympics surely has NOT stayed the same ol’ same ol’…..there are many new sports….for one…I really don’t care for ski gymnastics with double cartwheels, flips, multiple side turns….save that stuff for the summer Olympics….the gymnastics section.  Even the ice skating performances are so JUDGMENTAL….was it a triple or a double sho-she turn, a double cowsill….weren’t they singers?…I really don’t care for any of the sports that have Judges scoring…..it smacks of nationalism to me….I want stop-clock or tape measure sports… the ol’ time stuff— ski jumping…do those guys…and gals…have courage or what?  Speed skating….downhill skiing…long, long ski races, hockey.. just my own taste on Olympic sports…HOW ABOUT YOU? Btw….just learned that the US Olympic committee…not the US itself….. rewards athletes monetarily when they win medals.  That just doesn’t sound right to me….guess I’m too idealistic.  Scale–$25000-gold, $15000-silver and $10 grand for bronze.

….a Super Bowl area that might be considered same ol’ same ol’….14 years ago Justin Timberlake appeared with Janet Jackson. Jackson suffered through her “wardrobe malfunction”…that performance was considered scandalous…now  in 2018 show, Timberlake again is being ripped for extremely poor sound production during his show….he’s  2 for 2!…they should have done what I did…I turned off the sound when the show started…left on the picture just so I would know when it was over.

…. the High School Basketball scene has its regular season winding down…2 more weeks prior to district….if you follow HS sports, you have an idea of where “they stand” in relation to other teams. I generally find the state wide polls to have a different flavor.  According to Max Preps, the #1 Large School is Hazelwood Central, followed by Chaminade, Sikeston, St. Marys, Rolla, Oak Park, Rockhurst, Rock Bridge, Vashon and Webster Groves.  I have not seen most of those teams …and I don’t believe that these voters have either ….so a vote is often based on comparative scores and “scuttlebutt” from other writers and coaches….at any rate,,,3 of the top 4 are St. Louis Teams.  St. Mary’s is the highest rated Class 4 team from St. Louis in the rankings….does that mean anything in the post-season…NOPE…but it’s ALWAYS nice to receive recognition.

…in girls basketball, Francis Howell Central was listed as the #9 team in the pre-season poll.  The Spartans are 18-3 now but not rated at all in the top 20 teams.  FH Central has won 5 games by 6 points or less and 3 games by 7, 8,9 or 10 points…soooo…they are winning but not “blowing people out”.   Now you know why coaches …who want recognition for their team…run the score up! Central is led in scoring by Yani Curry (12.8ppg). Lauren Ebert leads the team in 3’s with 32 conversions. Ebert also has 20 blocks!  Hannah Currant tops the rebounding numbers  with 142.In the final 2 weeks, Central will face the #10 rated…and fellow school district rival….Francis Howell Vikings (14-7)-ranked #10…two times!!  It should be exciting for both schools…it won’t be the same ol’ same ol’ wrap up of the regular season.

…..Speaking of wrapping up…..I’m taking the same ol’ same ol’ departure line…thanks for reading..have  a good week!