Is it worth it by Bob Ryan

In life we all make decisions that have an upside…and always… a downside that accompanies it. We have to make the determination….is it worth it?….is the upside greater than the downside….and many times we ACTUALLY don’t know until the action has been consummated. It’s true in the sports world too….For example…..

….it happens continually in MLB when teams sign “huge” contracts with players.  Obviously, the downside is the increase in expenditures for the club….so the real question is ….will this player bring a “return” on the money that’s greater than the expense?  When Bryce Harper signed his absurd $330m contract for 13 years…most of us just shook our heads…. is it worth it?  It seems ludicrous to us every-day Joe’s that anyone could be worth that type of money. Well…..the early response says YES it is worth it financilly….the attendance in 2019 is up 12000 fans/game for the Phillies. I assume that most of the lower level, tier 1 seats, are season ticket holders. Soooo…..these additional 12,000 fans are sitting in the 2nd/3rd tier levels. The seats on 2nd tier average $35/ticket and 3rd tier is about $30/ticket. Assuming about half of these new fans are in 2nd &half in 3rd tier….that’s an additional income of $390,000 per game. That’s an additional $31.2m for 2019(80 home games). Harpers Salary of $33 no longer looks like a financial anchor…pulling everyone else down. Will that “buzz” continue over 13 years?…of course not…but possibly the season ticket holder base will upgrade(move to tier 1) and overall…the attendance will be higher.  I haven’t even mentioned the extra income when fans DO attend…. concessions, souvenirs, etc.  Although gate money is NO longer the primary source of income for MLB teams, its STILL income. It’s the ad time on TV, streaming ads, that reap the biggest money harvest for the owners.  I couldn’t find any data on the increase income by the Phillies for their TV ads, streaming, etc but… I’m sure that one could safely say that’s its increased. On the other hand, will this “star” power keep its hold for most of the 13 years? He already shows some signs of having injury issues. In addition….in this particular case, will Harper’s personality ….with the fans and teammates…become an obstacle? Will the Phillies “go for it all” early in Harper’s tenure then…as he ages and declines athletically, will they still keep investing heavily and trying to compete?….or….will he become a living statue of the past in Philly…did you say Albert?  13 years ago the Cardinals won the Series….some pundits say it was a fluke..they only won 83 games to win their division..then beat the Padres, Mets & Tigers on their route to the world championship ring ceremony.  Look at some of the stars from that team—only Yadi, Wainwright and Albert are still playing….other key players like Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen are now found …if at all…in announcing booths, old timer games, golf courses, etc….and…at least to me…it seems like they’ve all been gone a LONG.LONG time. How will Harper be as a productive player in 2031?…  Is it worth it?

…..when the Blues won the first two games of the Winnipeg series….most thought….”its ours”…then dropping both games at home….ugh…I made a quick 180 in my mind, “well…it WAS a good season” then,  wrapping it up in games 5 & 6…incredible!! I haven’t seen all the games…but the ones that I watched were exciting, fast paced, momentum changing back & forth, opportunities for scoring.. sometimes missed.. sometimes foiled by the GK….Binnington usually…the prices of the tickets are elevated…substantially… in some cases.. for the playoffs….Is it worth it?   Right now….most fans who attended would probably say, “yes”

….staying in the Hockey playoff mode….some other observations….the fans at both venues were totally engaged…that cheering/noise/excitement from the fans helps to make the game more exciting for the viewers at home; one just never knows who the hero will be in the playoffs-from bum to hero in 24 hours-Jaden Schwartz….to me Robert Thomas has really “grown” up during these playoff games-controls the puck longer & checks more; the “Big Rig”—Patrick Maroon has shined by adding muscle but also skill around and behind the net; Tarasenko hasn’t been scoring but I’ve noticed him using his speed more often to get to pucks.  Finally….generally I feel like all pro athletes are trying their best throughout the year. I attribute in most cases wins over losses to simply going having the more talented players. Hockey playoffs DO seem different. I see players…who for the most part are very close in skill level… checking on almost every play… more intensity, pushing, shoving around the net….I see the games becoming personal with all the “chit chat” between the players…I’m sure that aren’t asking about the guys family, thoughJ….it really does seem like “effort” has been increased but will effort alone beat teams with better scorers? Will it be worth it?

…staying on the ice…probably thin ice for me…..should hockey teams who are contending… try to procure high scoring forwards sometime during the season….in order to win the cup? Now….it may not be possible since most teams drool over these prolific scorers and trying to grab one would be like to trying to take a baby away from his/her mother. Since 2000, only 3 Stanley Cup champions had goal scorers in the top 3 of the league. Two other Cup champions had only 2 players (different players) in the top 3 of the Points category. In a freak aberration, in the last 3 seasons, it was different. In 2018, Alex Ovechkin led the league in scoring. In 2017 Sidney Crosby #1 in goals and #2 in assists. 2016 saw Crosby #5 in goals and #3 in assists. In 2015, and 2014, the Stanley Cup champions had NO ONE in the top 10 in goals OR assists. It seems like common sense to me that a Stanley Cup championship team needs “the man” to lead them in the close games…their cost would be very, very, very  high….is it worth it to try to get one?

…..MLB baseball realizes that TV/internet enriches their coffers more than the everyday Joe walking through the gate does for them. However, the fans at the game bring the emotion (see hockey section above). Currently costs at stadiums are becoming prohibitive for many people (hence MLB attendance is dropping at a slow rate)…according to Statista’s data on a Dodger game…which may be a bit higher than other cities….but not much…. the average ticket price to see a Dodger game in 2018 was $41. The average price of a ticket across the MLB during 2018 was $32. This is before parking costs (average $15-16 according to CBS News) and food prices at the park. The average cost for two people to go to a game in their car, while spending nothing else at the stadium, would be $79. For three people it would be $111 and for four people it would be $143. But…..you can’t sit there for 3-4 hours not eating or drinking… A Dodger Dog costs just below $6 and the average around baseball was just below $5.  Buying enough of them for a family, plus drinks (which also have crazy high prices), just isn’t an affordable option for most people. Soooo…people aren’t as inclined to go to the ballpark. Btw…in Atlanta, the Falcons recently introduced family-friendly concessions where a hot dog is $2, a soda with unlimited refills was $2, fries were $3, and burgers and beer were $5. The results worked out well for them as they actually MADE 16 percent more than they did before their affordable options. At some point, MLB has to determine if it’s worth it to have a stadium with several thousand, enthusiastic fans or if the TV payroll is enough.

…..At many….maybe even most…workplaces, a worker may have some “given” sick days provided by the employer. Some work places don’t provide that amenity. The current DL in the MLB is a croc. OK… you’re hurt….you can’t play…why should you still get full pay? In addition, a player from the minors is brought up to replace you. That adds cost to the team. I think that if a player goes on the DL, he is responsible for paying the cost of his replacement (probably MLB minimum scale). Maybe each player gets a few “free” days on DL….5 days, 7 days, 10 days per year…. Whatever…after those number of days, the player begins paying for his replacement. Something must be done to halt these continual trips to the DL.  Is it worth it to keep the players responsible for their health….just as the team should do? For example, if a player injures his arm and misses an entire season, why should he be paid?

….wrapping up a unbelievable career 39 year coaching career this spring is a long-time friend, Steve Nicollerat of SLUH Baseball. Steve & I first met as young teens umpiring little girls softball games on adjacent fields at Mallinckrodt school on Hampton in the South Side. We would continue to bump into each other over the decades….I umpired some of his games, we coached against each other as head coaches(I got slaughtered) and then when I was an assistant varsity baseball coach, he taught some of my kids, we coached in schools that competed in the same league so we saw each other at conference games in other sports.  A tremendous person –family oriented, friendly, unassuming, and one-helluva baseball coach, Steve epitomized what you wanted in a coach. He had the brains, the heart, the drive and soul to make it work. He worked his teams hard on fundamentals, taught baserunning better than anyone I’ve seen do it. And…oh yea…he won. He won over 600 HS games… remember this is in the HS level where you have limited number of games each season. He won 29 district Championships and made the final Four three times. He’s been inducted into the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association (MHSBCA) Hall of Fame. But….most of all…he’ll be remembered for his relationships with the students and families. We wish him well in retirement! His career has definitely been worth it.

….I appreiciate you making to the bottom….hopefully, it was worth it.

Home Runs & Strikeouts….ugh by Bob Ryan

Watching a complete MLB baseball game has become a tedious process…unless you’re doing something else and looking up when the announcer raises his voice…..or when you are there in person. It seems to have become a marathon of long counts on each batter, walks galore, home runs flying out in bunches, strikeouts…more strikeouts…. and the longer time between innings. You better carve out 3+ hours to enjoy game….and that IS a long time for any one activity. You must either…really, really love the game or….have the patience of a saint. Is it the thrill…and chance… of the home run ball that keeps us there? Let’s look at a few statistics regarding home runs & strikeouts. Dan McLaughlin, Cardinal announcer, said recently on-air…this is not an exact quote, but very close….’Major League Baseball is concerned about the game with all its Home Run, Strikeouts and Walks’…and they should be!

……The man who changed baseball was Babe Ruth. His prodigious HR blasts, personality, location, and personal charm took baseball to the forefront of the entertainment world. In 1927 when Babe blasted 60 home runs, it was 6.5% of the league total, he hit a home run once in every 9.0 AB. IT was so stunning because across the league, home runs were hit on an average of once every 98 at bats! Sooooo.. Babe was hitting home runs 10x more often than the other MLB players!!! Home runs were rare….unless the Babe was playing.  Hence, being in New York, Babe Ruth was the center of attention…. and so was baseball….btw…..we all know about Babe’s unbelievable home run total…but he really was an all-around player….some of his records still standing…his slugging percentage for a career .690, most times hitting 2 home runs in a game-72x; longest home run-575 feet!!; Highest Winning Percentage for a left-handed pitcher: 67.14%; He was the AL batting champion one year!; Runs batted in, career: 2,213; Lowest ratio of hits per nine innings pitched for a left-handed pitcher: 7.1774…now a couple of those pitching records have been broken…but he was ..to use a football term….a true 2-way player!  His 60 home run total stood until 1961. In 1961, another Yankee, Roger Maris poked 61 home runs out of the park. By that time, his 61 dingers were just 2.2% of league total. Maris hit a home run every 9.67 AB, across the league it was every 36.1 AB. The substance abuse “power” hitters arrived in the late 90’s…In 2001, Barry Bonds….beefed up by the roids….poked 73 HR and incredible 6.5AB….now…one must remember that Barry drew tons of walks –which kept down his official At bats. Barry hit HR at a 6.5AB clip—really incredible. The rest of the league did it at 48.7 AB(about twice as often as in 1927).. I guess most of the guys couldn’t afford the masking agents of the drugs J  Bonds HR were 2.7% of the total league homeruns….just a notch above Maris’ 61 total. In 2017 , GianCarlo Stanton blasted 59 HR in Miami…the Siberia of MLB. He hit a HR every 10.1 AB and he was 3.56% of the overall league total. Now, the MLB hit HR across the league every 27.1 at bats.  Remember at Babe’s era, it was once every 98 at bats! Sooo.. from  a fan’s view point, all MLB teams get through their lineups 4x…sometimes 5x….that means that we should statistically see about 3 HR per game. They aren’t so special any longer.

The rise in strikeouts is very similar….

       Strikeouts                   AB for league       strikeout %

2017   40104                       165,567                                 24

2001   32404                       166,234                                 19

1961   14947                    97,032                                   15

1927     6889                     84,461                                  8

So in a baseball game in 2017, you were seeing 3x the strikeout percentages as back in 1927. “back in the day” it was viewed as a negative to be unable to hit the ball in 3 swings.  Now….it’s accepted that with the new launch angle swing,  that you’ll strike out much more often. NOW, the rational is that “an out is an out”….forget about that hitting the ball, it may…just may…cause some errors and could advance runners…even when making outs.

Why the dramatic increase in HR?  There are several possibilities ….here’s a few..

…..it seems that salaries are directly related to power players vs the “contact hitters”. Good average hitters don’t get to drink as deep into the salary well as the round trip boys. This is the primary reason from my view….if an owner paid more for .300 hitters than big HR numbers.. .you’d see a change.

…. I didn’t realize this fact…..after Babe Ruth’s 1927 HR barrage and the increasing popularity across the league….the owners wanted to see that excitement across the league all the time. Soooo…..most owners brought in the fences so that the home runs would increase.  The old ballpark that the Boston Braves played in was 550 feet to straight away center. The Polo Grounds was 455 feet to center. Teams thought that bat control, sacrificing,  and hitting behind the runner was more valuable than they did the home run. Babe Ruth changed all that, though. And once the fans became enamored with the home run, as stadiums were built, their dimensions became smaller and smaller

…the change physically of the players in the MLB.  From the stats that I could gather, it seems like MLB players are 4-5 inches taller in the norm than they were decades ago. However, in todays larger population base, the abnormal—much, much larger players –are arriving in greater numbers to the MLB every year.  Remember, back in the day in 1957, a 6-7 player named Frank Howard arrived on the scene.  Every game…almost every AB.. the size of Frank Howard was mentioned. Now…according to my (unofficial) research…there are 34 players 6’6” or taller in the MLB. Obviously…..the bigger the players the more strength, more power…..hence…more home runs.

Soooo….what can be done…..it all goes back to the owners….do they want this high number of home runs?  If not….pay the high average hitters more….move back the fences…..get rid of that box on TV showing the strike zone (let the umps stretch the “corners” a bit more). Specifically…here in St Louis…here’s one easy idea to subtract some HR and add speed to the game…..take out the entire “green” area in CF.  Make that area “in play”….we’d have less HR but many more triples….which I believe is one of the most exciting plays in baseball. There are probably ways in every ball park to cut down HR….maybe putting up a screen…or netting…. like the one at Busch I in front of cozy dimensions in some ball fields ….keep the ball in play….keep the game moving.  What do you think?

…on the ice, games 1 & 2 of the Blues series were thrilling to watch….the momentum changed back and forth throughout the match to keep the interest high….I’d forgotten about how aggressive hockey players become in the real season(the playoffs)..the “white out” in Winnipeg has been very impressive…and standing outside to watch the game on the big screen…..boy!! Somehow, O’Reilly, Boumeester & Pietrangelo seemed to be a marked men by the Jets—they’ve been pounding them from the first whistle…..Robert Thomas just keeps growing as a player…his puck control …and speed …are exciting…. Jaden Schwartz has demonstrated…repeatedly in games 1&2…the swirling, turning moves to free himself up for passes or shots….I still wish that he shot more…..Patrick Maroon’s strength, puck control, passing around the net and aggression have been noticeable and significant for the Blues….what can I say about Binnington….he’s been very good…he ALONE may be the catalyst that spiked the Blues upward to begin the Blues turnaround in 2019… game 3 was a REAL clinker….it was all Jets…they played at a different level and speed than the Blues…the Blues couldn’t get out of their zone…the forwards were standing at the blue line and the defensemen couldn’t escape the checking Jets forwards pressure. Binnington was fabulous in the 1st period but eventually the odds swung to the more aggressive, speedier and more physical Jets. On Sunday night, the Blues were outclassed.

…..The “Roar of the Tiger” was dominant on Sunday….yes…all pro golfers receive applause and/or clapping when they hit a magnificent shot but no one matches the Roar of the Tiger. The extremely loud cheers from many…if not all…. of the gallery ALWAYS belonged to Tiger Woods. Btw…just saying the word “Tiger” and most sports fan know immediately who you are referring to in the discussion…few others have experienced that one-word distinction….Babe, Stan, Ali, Wilt, Michael are some that come to mind. Any others?  Anyway…..Tiger winning in Augusta for the 1st time since 2002 was a tremendous accomplishment ….wow….think about yourself 17 years ago…..and now repeating that same difficult task against the best of the world …who were totally different competitors than 17 years ago…..and doing it on the biggest golf stage of the year. In addition to his unbelievable shots, Tiger’s emotion AFTER he won the tournament was refreshing to see.   These athletes….who have worked their entire lives to reach this incredible level of achievement…SHOULD by smiling, fist-pumping, hugging, kissing, waving their hat, etc, when they win!

Across the sports world….there are players/owners/teams/and even a TV personality hitting home runs and striking out in different ways. Hitting HOME runs..literally sometimes!  Sometimes in different ways.

….Cody Bellinger (LA Dodgers) has 8 home runs already…here we go again….look what I point out FIRSTJ… 21 rbi, 1.378 OPS..last year Bellinger had 25  HR and struck out 151x…every 3.68 at bats!

….It’s fitting right after the Masters Weekend to write about a golf team! Soooo…..UMSL’s men golf team Head Coach, Troy Halterman, has to be pleased after his team shot a school record of 852. The Tritons finished 2nd at its own Las Vegas Desert Classic last week. UMSL shot rounds of 291, 278,283 to break the record. Individually, Freshman Joel Sylven finished 2nd place with a school record of 208. #3 ranked West Florida won the tournament

…unknown in his first 3 years @ Seattle, Daniel Vogelbach is batting .400  with an OPS 1.646 as of Apr 12. He’s never hit over .214 in any of his first 3 years.

….Washington University’s baseball team is 22-5-1..Head Coach Pat Bloom has him team rolling after beginning the season 2-2-1. Frosh Caleb Durham from Lake Forest, Il tops the team in batting with a .438 mark. SLUH graduate, Junior John Brinkmann, is second in batting with a .384 average.

….Frank Cusamano just celebrated 26 years of working @ KSDK. Of course, he does a radio show each weekday also. Frank works very hard at his craft…always has the “Lou” prospective on sports matters and wears his StL heart on his sleeve. Congratulations to Frank for all his success over 26 years of work and wishing him many more.

….Rookie Pete Alonso of the Mets has hits in 7 of his first 10 games this year….batting .370 (17/46) with 6 round trippers.  Be careful before you add him to your fantasy team…the Mets have played Miami and Minnesota in 2 early series…not the toughest pitching staffs.

…after losing to 4 large schools to open the season in the Vianney tournament, Valley Park’s baseball team has now won 9 consecutive games under Head Coach Dave Fleer. Justin Maloney holds a .469 batting mark and Braden Spawr is also over .400 @ .429 as the team batting leaders.

….3B  Anthony Rendon (Wash) is off to a good start….avg of .426, 6 HR, 16 rbi, OPS 1.438

….the Lafayette Girls Lacrosse team remains unbeaten @ 12-0! The Lancers’ Sr Katherine Goddin leads the entire StL area with 51 goals and 62 points. Not far behind, 4th in the area with 53 points on 41 goals and 12 assists is Soph Sophia Scheller.

Some…however…. are striking out…..figuratively…as well as literally… in most cases

…Peter Bourjas (also on the Angels) is just 1 of 24 at the plate

…Daniel Palka (CWS) is 0 for 25 to start the season!

…Eric Stamets (Clev) is 1 of 24 in 2019

…that’s 3 strikes…. and I’m out J…… YOUR comments are always invited…just put them on the Prepcasts site….if difficulty arises.. send them to me….rjryansr@charter.net…and I’ll get them published for you.

Raining down Hope by Bob Ryan

It’s been raining and raining…..for centuries… rain provided hope for anyone involved in agriculture…and it still does. However, this spring’s rain has brought down HOPE in the sports world also…

…..of course  the Cards must feel hopeful.  Paul Goldschmidt will be the anchor of the lineup just as other Cardinal “greats”…Stan  & Albert come immediately to mind….but there were other superb 1b…Cha-Cha Cepada,  Jack Clark, Johnny Mize and even Keith Hernandez were very talented First-Baseman….Goldschmidt was just named the Best First Baseman in 2019 by the MLB! That HAS to bring us hope.

……the Cards have a different level of hope when they hope that their “up the middle” defense (2b-Wong, SS-DeJong, CF-Bader) will remain healthy, get on base with some regularity and play most every day.

….the Cards have their finger-crossed type of hope that their young pitchers…at least 2 of them… perform to the high hopes that we’re giving them.  Flaherty, Hudson, Hicks have the arms…but are they real pitchers?   Our hopes say “yes”!

…the Cards fans have the hopes that Mr. Marcel will disappear quickly….he’s overweight and can’t cover more ground than most slow-pitch OF, throws only to the relay man because he CAN”T throw to the base directly. It appears that he’s trying to swing Babe Ruth’s heavy bat….it’s slooowww coming around the plate for Mr. Marcel.  Some may have thought that Piscotty & Grichuk weren’t good enough….maybe they were right…but…I do know …that each is better than Mr. Marcel right now.

…Cards fans have the “dream” hopes that somehow…someway…Yadi will catch for many more years…it’s not a realistic hope…..but we all MUST have hope J

….Cardinal fans have the hopes that Andrew Miller isn’t another Greg Holland.

….some fans have the hope that if Tyler O’Neill could just make contact, he’d be super….with his Popeye arms and strength…..ANY contact will result in a positive offensive result in most cases.

…some fans seem to be ALWAYS wanting to bring up that next young prospect and hope that he’ll be the star that we need……following is a list of Cardinal Nations 2018 All-Prospect Team

The Cardinal Nation St. Louis Cardinals 2018 All-Prospect Team(last year’s team)

Position          Player                         Rank    Age      2017 Level

Catcher           Carson Kelly               3         23        MLB

First Base        Luke Voit                    38        26        MLB

Second Base   Max Schrock   *          15        23        AA

Shortstop       Yairo Munoz   *          14        22        AAA

Third Base       Evan Mendoza           26        21        A

Corner Outfield Tyler O’Neill *         5          22        AAA

Corner Outfield  Adolis Garcia *       12        24        AAA

Center field    Harrison Bader           4          23        MLB

LH Starter       Austin Gomber           10        24        AA

RH Starter      Alex Reyes                  1          23        MLB

LH Reliever     Ryan Sherriff *           41        27        MLB

RH Reliever     Josh Lucas *                43        27        MLB

**footnote….2 have been traded & 5 are already on..are have been on …the Cards roster, so they have progressed to the MLB …which is the goal of prospects. Now….will they be GOOD MLB players or always just be good prospects? …that’s another question.

Just to moderate my high hopes a bit…I looked back at the Cards TOP prospects of 2015…. who… should by this time….be productive MLB players…here ya go…

Top Cardinal Prospect of 2015:

Catcher–Carson Kelly;    First Base–Xavier Scruggs;    Second Base–Jacob Wilson;

Shortstop–Aledmys Diaz    Third Base–Patrick Wisdom  Corner OF–Stephen Piscotty

Corner OF–Randal Grichuk    Center–Charlie Tilson   LH Starter-Marco Gonzales

RH Starter–Alex Reyes   LH Reliever–Dean Kiekhefer    RH Reliever–Sam Tuivailala

Only Alex Reyes is still on the team!….and…what has he done yet? (gone with the wind…)My hopes faded a bit…but Oh well….what did Scarlett O’Hara say in the final words of Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day”….there ya go…more HOPE!

….The Blues..and their fans…. certainly have plenty of HOPE as they’ve reached the real season of the NHL….the playoffs. It was a tremendous drive to reach 1 pt out of 1st place. But…now that the playoffs are here…the REAL NHL season begins. The Blues continual hard-skating, crisp passing, depth and goal keeping provide all of the St Louis fans with lots of HOPE for this post-season…is THIS the year?….heck….even the Cubs eventually won the World Series…is it time for Blues?… btw… I’ve watched more Blues hockey…way more… in the last 2 months than I have for a long, long time.  The action is fast paced…. continual… except for the two intermissions… and heck….we all need a break too…especially when you get older J. The game is over in a reasonable 2 hr 30-40 minutes. Of course, winning …and winning a lot….have raised my hopes high….like all of you, probably.  LGB!!

…on the High School level we generally recognize teams that have been somewhat overlooked but this week is a bit different. We want to tip our hat to 2 long time coaches retiring from the same school. The Webster Groves community and school are hoping that they will be able to meet the high challenge of replacing two long-time successful coaches. In the winter, Head Boys Basketball Coach Jay Blossom announced that his would be his last season. His active participation from the bench often reminded me of myself. However, I never achieved his glowing winning record…best I can figure… @ WG  his record was 447-122. But…I do love when a coach gives their ALL…that’s what we ask our kids to do!  Every time I saw Jay announce, his heart was in the game…totally in the game.  Congratulations to Jay on a very, very successful career @ WG. I have a special memory of Jay. Back in 2002 when Prepcasts was just beginning, our 1st basketball game ever covered in St Louis was @ Webster Groves. Like most everyone else at that time…he didn’t have a clue about “streaming” on-line….of course…I didn’t either…I was …. as my partner said, “ the mouth not the producer”.  We had to get on-line by phone dial-up for our audio production… and it all went well. So……WG & Jay’s hospitality ..and trust in us….were never forgotten. On the other side, I don’t know at all, the departing soccer coach, Tim Cashel. But….whenever a team that I was covering was playing Webster, all coaches praised…without exception…the work of Coach Cashel. Coach Cashel became the head coach in 2002. Not only was he the HEAD Boys Soccer Coach but he established …and directed… the WG Soccer Club and formed and developed the WG Summer youth Camps. He was not just a leader… he continued to expand and refine his craft throughout his career @ WG. Congratulations to both coaches for spending and sharing their life for so many years with the Webster Groves students and community…they’ll be missed.

Outside the Lou…

….Hopes for Drew Lock being in a 1st round draft choice are rising. From all I read, he’s almost a lock…pardon the pun….to be in that 1st round. Looks like I totally misread his skills. I don’t like his quick..or not so quick… footwork which I think is a prerequisite  to be successful NFL QB but….the NFL scouts DO like it….and those evaluators are the key people soooo….let’s wish Drew Lock well.

…NCAA-F….the Georgia Football program apparently has high hopes for the future…the Bulldogs just added home-home non-conference games with Florida State & Clemson on their schedule.  Now…with the ridiculously long range scheduling of the NCAA…these games will occur in 2027 & 2028….give me a break….the players in those games are in about 4th grade now….wait…did Georgia get the Top 4th grade QB out of  UThrowEM  grade school?

…..largest jump in the “HOPE” category of the MLB world HAS to belong to the Phillis fans. These fans haven’t cheered for a .500+ team since 2011!  That may not seem long to you….but that’s 7 years of mediocrity to bad baseball….in 2018, it was 80-82; 2017 66-96; 2016 71-91; 2015 63-99; in 2014 73-89; in 2013 another 73-89 and 2012 it was 81-81. Their attendance has slipped from 3,565,718 in 2012 to 2,158,124 last year. The Phils signing of Bryce Harper snatched all the headlines but that wasn’t their only move to improve their team. Home grown talent is maturing….Maikel Franco should be reaching his Prime years while Rhys Hoskins is a rising star. Acquired proven players like Jean Segura..who  provides real speed…and JT Realmuto, who  is listed as one of top catchers in the league…Odúbel Herrera’s role changes from being a Prime player to a very good supportive player bolsters the depth. The quick start of the Phillies has really ignited the “HOPE” fire in a strong way.

….NCAA basketball fans are hoping for another great basketball game on Monday night. Both semifinals…..like many other games in the tourney….were terrific.  I was a particularly interested in the defense of Texas Tech. Coach Beard had been on Bobby Knight  staff @ Texas Tech.  The helpside defense that coach Knight demanded is still there …under Coach Beard… but it’s taken some different angles. The game has changed since the departure of Coach Knight so adjustments are required. I was a disciple of Coach Knights m/m defensive principles. In fact, in some years I made my players hang up a picture of the cover of his defensive book—it had to be eyeball high!! The Auburn-Virginia game was very close. Clearly there was a foul on the shot with .6 sec remaining…but…clearly also the VA ballhandler committed double-dribble while coming up court. Both calls went Virginia’s way…sometimes it goes that way.  ? I will say that Auburn Head Coach Bruce Pearl was extremely gracious and impressive in masking his disappointment in his interview about the final call. It was real classy! Btw….I’m happy to see some “new and fresh” schools in the NCAA championship game. I guess the shoe deals are starting to slow down for the “big time” schools, heh?…ouch!

…..by this time….you’re probably hoping that I’m close to the end….and…your right!

I always enjoy reading YOUR thoughts and comments about any part of the blog. I really don’t expect you to agree with everything that I write…so let ‘em fly. If you have trouble posting, send them to me…I’ll get it done– signed by with your initials.

Cards crystal ball by Bob Ryan

At the start of the MLB season….for St Louisians….that means the Cardinal season…I’m going dust off my crystal ball, shine it up and then throw out some predictions about baseball with a heavy accent on the ElBirdos….some will be serious….some not so much…you’ll have to determine which category that belong in…..also….following up on last week’s fun of choosing a “walk up” song….you may agree/disagree with any of mine OR….better yet….make your own…send to me & I’ll get them published as a response….or….just send the ones that you agree/disagree

….Jack Flaherty wins more games than Adam Wainwright & Michael Wacha COMBINED

….Jeff Gyorko doesn’t see July 30th in a Cardinal uniform

….In 2018 Jose Martinez led the team in batting average and was the only regular that hit over .280…..if both those parameters are true again in 2019….the Cards won’t make the playoffs

….Adolis Garcia, on th 2018 post-season roster who fell rounding 3B with a possible key run in the playoffs, won’t play in 30 games for the Cardinals in 2019.

… Matt Wieters will have less than 18 starts behind the plate this year(unless Yadi gets hurt)

…Mike Shildt will walk out to the mound this year less times than we hear about no Corn syrup in the Dilly-Dilly Bud Light commercials

….Paul DeJong will get over 500 PA this year…the 1st time in his career @ that level

….Marcel Ozuna will hit better in 2019 (over .280) but never really become a fan favorite

..Jordan Hicks will have more stikeouts than Dexter Fowler has hits by the end of the year

….last year Tyler O’Neill struck out 57x in 61g….this year, that strikeout/game ratio will drop because a)he’ll be in more games(not so many PH roles)   b) better contact

 …Unlike many stars…..Manny Machado MAY help raise  the crowds in San Diego….but not on the  road…he’ll be a villain on the road!!

..Paul Goldschmidt receives the imaginary Stan Musial Award for being  the MLB player most like Stan Musial ….in tremendously consistent daily performance, strong in all aspects of hitting (power, on-base), plays every day, good guy—win or lose…we stole him from Arizona—it’ll rival the Lou Brock heist in the future…..now he won’t have the 22 years of excellence as Stan or the 11 years of domination of Albert but let’s hope that Goldy can do what Stan & Albert did at 36 years of age (Goldy’s final year of contract)..

At the age of 36, Stan hit  .351, 29 HR, OPS 1.034, 102 RBI btw..Stan missed a year due to war

At the age of 36, Albert hit .258, 31 HR, OPS  .780, 119 RBI

…the Cardinals will have more “giveaway” home games than WINS by the Cards at Busch

…unlike the last 3 years, the Cardinals WILL MAKE some type of acquisition in mid year… either in June or August. This has the underlying supposition that the Cards will be In the division/playoff race.

…Carlos Martinez’s primary role will be out of the pen in 2019…an extended (multiple inning) closer or bridge man from starter to closer.

A ramdom selection of “forecasts” outside of the Cardinals Crystal Ball

….After winning 90 games last year, Tampa Bay won’t win 83 this year

….In the battle of the Bulge (bulging wallets)….Harper hits more HR than Machado

…. In another battle of the Bulge…Machado plays more games than Harper

….The Reds will finish higher than the Pirates in the standings this year

Milwaukee series wrap-up…

…sure it’s only the 1st series….so one can’t come to any generalities after 4 games… but..

….I would have batted Carlos Martinez for Fowler..not Wong… in the 9th inning of game 1….I realize that Wong is a LHB but he seemed to be “on” at the plate….once again, Kolton Wong gets the short end of the stick after belting 2 round trippers…and to protect Fowler’s self-esteem…what else must Wong do to get key AB’s?….btw… I called it at the time….not after Dex was totally overmatched by those fastballs

…comments made by Thompson & Danny Mac about Ozuna in game 1 “not catching balls that he probably should have”…tells me a few things….a) he hasn’t improved defensively  b) the gloves are off this year on Ozuna…no more protection by the media  c)  How did he EVER win a gold glove?  Was his Mom the only voter? D) The Cards will NEVER resign him,  even if he wanted to do so…which I don’t think that he has those inclinations either.

….the Cards still don’t have the defense that Milwaukee possesses

….I don’t know her name…but the new young woman handing off to Al & Jimmy in the studio did a much better job than Scott Warman last year…now …if she could just eliminate that squeaky voice…oh well…you can’t have everything.

…game 4 really hurt and it seems like a huge difference..a tied series with a  2-2 series mark  or a 1-3 mark..2 games under .500 and it “smarted” when the winning run came all the way around from 1b on a double….Harrison Bader had dove to cut the ball off…it bounced off his arm away from Ozuna…who relayed it to DeJong..we never saw a replay of that OF relay throw…either it was dropped by DeJong or bounced into him..couldn’t tell….so the 3B coach challenged the Cards outfielders to make the play…and they didn’t…ugh

…….Movement off the field/court in NCAA

…Jaylen Hurts leaving Alabama to transfer to OU as a grad student…it’ll really be a challenge for him to adapt to a PASS 1st team that constantly runs a “hurry up” offense…btw.. I’ll repeat my disdain for graduates playing college & almost always transferring to some other school to do it…would we let a college player compete in the HS level if he hadn’t played 4 years of Varsity HS football?

… the U of Buffalo was stunned…they had just signed their highly successful head basketball coach, Nate Oats to an extension  through 2024 with a high buyout of $750,000. It wasn’t enough.. Alabama University stepped in and hired Oats from right  under the nose of Buffalo. Oats HAD accomplished a great deal in his 4 years @ Buffalo. He took his team 3x to the NCAA and reached the 2nd round in each of the last 2 years. He was named the conference Coach of the year the last 2 seasons…clearly he HAD put BUFFALO U. on the basketball map. But…we all know the expression….money talks….and coaches walk…or something like thatJ

…….NCAA Basketball…

I didn’t see all the games…..just a few passing thoughts on the games that I did see…..

….Super Game#1….Purdue beat Tennessee for 2 reasons…Ryan Cline got RED HOT in the closing parts of the game. He buried four 3-pt baskets in the final 5 minutes and scored 9 straight points for Purdue.  The Boilermakers also found a way to get some close shots late in the game from their center. It was a a very enjoyable game…at least the last 10 minutes that I watched. Purdue is coached by Matt Painter.  He’s been very successful at Purdue(2005-present) 346-163 as a Head Coach in a very tough league. He’s won/tied for the Big 10 championship 3x. He’s taken Pudue to the NCAA Tourney 11x…this being the first time that he’s reached the Elite Eight level. As a beginning Head Coach , he took SIU-C to the NCAA tourney!  His name made me reach way back…I remembered something about him & Mizzou…well, in 2011 when Mike Anderson left, Painter met with Mizzou…verbally agreed 1 day to take the job then changed his mind the next to remain @ Purdue. He would have been a good one.

…Auburn was absolutely terrific in their 97-80 sweet 16 win over N.Carolina. While using a deep bench that kept up a lightning fast pace, the Tigers shot an unbelievable 46% from beyond the arc as they were 17 of 37. In fact according to post game stats, the Tigers reflected the “new offensive wave”…layups or dunks & 3’s IS the offense. Auburn shot only 5 shots in the entire game that weren’t backboard layups/dunks and 3’s! N. Carolina… in a very rare occurrence ….did not have the bench of their opponent.

….Michigan State put on a clinic as how to protect a 2nd half lead against LSU in the Sweet 16 game..long possessions but still scoring somewhat late in the possession….constant, good defense throughout game..offensive boards late in the game

…there were two absolutely terrific NCAA games on Sunday….Auburn…led on by the cheering of Charles Barkley & his stuffed dog called AuB…edged Kentucky in OT 77-70….the game was much, much tighter than the final score.  To me…it appeared that Auburn had more depth than the one & done specialists. John Calipari, the 1st NCAA Coach to really maximize the value of one & done stars, makes the NCAA tournament each year. However, he’s only won 1 NCAA Championship…in 2012. And…going back further for Kentucky…that 2012 title is the only Kentucky title since 1998 when Tubby Smith was at the helm. Auburn’s guards will be very difficult for Michigan State to handle in the 2019 championship game

…speaking of Michigan State…the Spartans upset over the Duke Blue Devils was a different type of game.  Late in the 1st half…it seemed…the referees decided to let some “contact” take place under the boards for both teams. It actually made for a better game….far fewer “touch” fouls by the big, strong 6-10 guys of both teams and the game kept a real flow to it. It was  another GREAT game!!

….I don’t know about you but I get weary in the last 2-3 minutes of a NCAA game with the plethora of fouls.  Players are fouled intentionally and quickly. WE watch the teams march back & forth like in a parade to the free throw line…and now…throw at least 3 video reviews and action stalls even more. Boring!! Fouls were NEVER intended to reward the defensive team. The pros got it right decades ago…in the last 2 minutes of a game, a different standard is set for fouls. It could be done at the NCAA level also… e.g. On the 3rd foul after the 2 minute mark….the player getting fouled either a) gets an extra FT shot b) or maybe even, shoot 1 shot and get the ball back. I’m sure that someone else has a better suggestion….but … please….let  the game by played off the FT line without all the marching back & forth. Maybe… some fans find all those free throws exciting….I prefer action.

…..…Under the category…  some things are made for each other….

…the wonderful fans of Philadelphia booed Bryce Harper in game 1 of the season!

……Under the category….what do you think will happen…

…from Saturday’s MLB box scores…only ONE team pitched less than 5 pitchers in a game on Saturday.. Houston used 3 hurlers in its win….now….let’s see…5 pitchers …almost have the teams used six pitchers…that 800+ appearances in a season for any one team….and your SURPRISED when the MLB pitchers sustain sore arms, balky elbows,  lose their velocity, or their “sharpness” declines?

…..In High School Sports, a sport often overlooked by sports fans is Boys Volleyball. Played in the spring time while there are a plethora of other HS sports….it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. This week we’d like to highlight the Pattonville Pirates. The Pirates are 9-0 in 2019 under Head Coach Kyle Walsh while winning 18 of 19 sets and the huge Francis Howell Central Tournament(there were 4 pools of teams). The Pirates upended Francis Howell North (7-1-2)in the Championship Match 2-1. That was Pattonville’s only set loss of the season. 6-6 Soph Cole Schuler has the highest Avg/kill/gm with a 3.83 mark and a 48% average ;on his kill attempts. However,  Jr Landon Chan tops the club with 129 kills. On the defensive side, Sr Cole Cwiklowski is #1 on the Pirates in digs with 59.  Cwiklowski also leads the team in aces with 11. The team leader in blocks is 6-4 Jr Rodney Wallace with 22. It’s early in the season, so Pattonville has just a 2-0 conference record.  A key match will be against Parkway North on April 17 @ North. My crystal ball tells me that it should be a great match!

Well….my crystal ball is going hazy now…I hope that you’ll send me a Cardinal prediction or 2…I get them posted under the blog using just your initials. We had a tremendous response to the golf-walk-up-to –the-tee songs last week…THANKS…hope you’ll participate this week!

Little Guys Rule by Bob Ryan

Generally it’s the “Big” guys who take charge…ya know…big money, big influence, big brothers, etc ….well… this week let’s look at the Little guys….

….sooooo to start with….all of us little guys have a challenge, we aren’t on the golf tour…but….Jay Randolph JR threw out the question to all of us, “What Walk Up Song would YOU like as you approached each tee?” I’d love to hear back from as many of you as possible…even if you DON’T GOLF …. let me know through an email or a post on FB Mine’s on the bottom….

…now onto the NCAA tournament…in the 1st and 2nd weekend, the NCAA officials luv it when some lowly seeded team (little guy) upsets a “big boy”..#12 Murray State toppled #5 Marquette 83-64, #12 Liberty upended #5 Mississippi St 80-76, #13 UC Irvine handled #4 Kansas St and the third #12 seed, Oregon smothered Wisconsin 72-54..That means that the #12 will face the #13 in the Sweet 16.. sooo……three #12’s upset #5….somehow, some way….it often works that way for upsets in the 1st round (#12 over #5). In the 2nd round, #9 Auburn beat #4 Kansas  89-75. But…by the elite eight, the NCAA want’s highly recognizable basketball names….fans identify with those familiar “name” teams…you know them….Duke, Kentucky, N.Carolina, etc.

Some other little NCAA thoughts….

Eliminate those four “play in” games….64 teams is enough. All of those “play in” winners lost in the real  1st round. Did it add excitement? Good games? Really good players? No, No and NO.

….Kentucky has a very soft path to the elite eight…1st round..Abilene Christian, 2nd rnd-Woolford…not Walmart…but Woolford, in Sweet 16 round…Kentucky gets Houston/Ohio St winner. Maybe they feel sorry for John Caliperi who’s only won ONE NCAA championship….back in 2012. That ONE & DONE policy brings him many great players….but..apparently… not championship teams.

…Shouldn’t the conference winner…not the conference tournament winner…get the automatic bid?  Why play hard for 2 months, 16-20 conference games?  Soooo…the team that gets “hot”…or stays healthy.. for a week gets the auto-bid…seems backwards to me. The committee could still invite those tournament winners….oh wait….the little guys reading the TV rankings and selling advertising…they like it this way……OH….what was I thinking?

…As I’m writing this around 6:30 Sunday night…not all games are completed…or even started in some cases….none the less, the strength of the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 is apparent. Those conferences were/are clearly the strongest conferences in NCAA M-Basketball this year.

…btw…I enjoy Charles Barkley as a commentator during the NCAA marathon….his comments… while not spoken elegantly…seem to be “right on”….the little man…Kenny Smith has a richer vocabulary and states salient points also. They are a good pair…different perspectives…. but generally, good observations about personnel, coaches and teams. Best of all to me….is that Charles can laugh at himself …while sitting on the panel and through many different commercials.

…the little man sitting in the back room in front of the computer, drawing up the MLB schedule has a challenging task…some teams don’t want to play day games, some don’t many home games in late-August, some don’t want Saturday afternoon games in Sept (vs NCAA football), some don’t want to be at home during the Masters weekend, some don’t want to be home on the 1st or 15th (their paydays J), some want their West coast trips to be during the hot months, some want a day off after the west coast trip so that a Vegas visit may take place on the way home ..yada-yada-yada.. looking at the Cards 2019 schedule the little men have compiled some strange things..

…the Cards play one of their toughest divisional foes…Milwaukee…TEN times through Apr 24. Meanwhile, the Cubbies tangle with the D-Backs, Marlins & Rangers.

…the easiest competitive months for the Cards is June & July… our Cards should rake hay during that time…the Cards have hapless Miami 7x in June, the downtrodden Pirates 6x in July (that’s 25% of the 52 June/July games)

…the Cards have only EIGHT home games between July 18 and August 18..that’s a Looonnnggg time. the All-Star break is NOT during that time frame…but 4 ½ weeks of games?

…judging from all the early commercials…it seems like the Cards will have “give-aways” 81X

The cloud on the MLB horizon is…. money…gee, imagine that! The “little guy” MLB teams  are tanking….why? The metrics have changed for MLB teams to turn a profit….relying on fans to walk through the turnstile, concessions & merchandise sales are no longer the primary monetary revenue. Instead, the revenue sharing & the leagues lucrative broadcasting deals with multiple parties (which are not split with the players) provide millions of dollars for ALL the teams. Maintain a low salary scale and an MLB team elevates its profit..e.g. Tampa Bay, Oakland, Florida..why worry about winning when you can cash a huge check for management on a regular basis?

Some the “little guys” of the MLB free agent market…. Who signed in the off-season…

…NYY signed Adam Ottovino (brought up by Cards) after a sour 2017, Ottovino used state of the art technology to modify his release point & approach…result in in 2018..2.43 ERA and one of MLB’s best strikeout rates. He doesn’t have to be the closer but he’s a good to very-good veteran to have in the pen. Cost $27mil for 3 years.

…on the other side of New York, the Mets signed a “little guy” in Justin Wilson. This experienced southpaw had a quiet but strong year last year. He could become a LHP specialist. He struck out 149 batters in 112+ innings last year. He should fit in nicely with the Mets who don’t expect him to be the #1 in the pen(Edwin Diaz)…or even the #2 (Jeurys Familia). In 2019 MLB bullpens, depth is key.

….Who are some of the very best “small guys” in MLB players in history?….my criteria is players under 5-10…Pete Rose 5-9,Roy Campanella 5-8, Phil Rizzuto 5-6, Ivan Rodriguez 5-9,  Mel Ott 5-9, Yogi Berra 5-7…Yogi really surprised me!

……Falling back to the “little guy” status is really a devastating thing for a BIG-TIME college football program.  It’s happened….and TWICE for the LA fans…USC and UCLA …long considered two the elite football programs in the country…have fallen back…way back…. into the “little guy”status. Under 1st year coach Chip Kelly, UCLA went 3-9 in 2018. A former Pro coach, Kelly was known to be almost ambivalent about recruiting during his highly successful days @ Oregon U. This years’s 2019 class was ranked #53 by ESPN, 34 spots lower than his 2018 class. Kelly remains optimistic with the attitude and enthusiasm of his squad in spring-practice.  Across town @ USC, that’s not the same feeling. There is a sense of unease & uncertainty after finishing 5-7 in 2018. It was USC first losing season since the year 2000 and it lost to UCLA for the first time since 2014. The O-Coordinator (Kliff Kingsbury) and highly touted Frosh (Bru McCoy) both “hit the brick’s” for a brighter future elsewhere. Head Coach Clay Helton replaced most of his coaching staff @ USC. But, USC’s 19th ranked recruiting class is the LOWEST in modern recruiting history. My…my….I guess even the college football giants can become “little guys” at some point.

….Some NFL stars who were shorter in stature (not really “little guys”) in recent vintage. I’m sure that we could go back 50+ years and find many other “little guys” But in the modern era, how about..Barry Sanders at 5-8, Emmitt Smith came in at 5-9, Darrell Green 5-8 played 20 seasons in NFL as a D-back (84-03)..(I figured that you all knew Barry Sanders & Emmitt Smith), Wes Welker 5-8, at 5-7 Maurice Jones-Drew—currently on Jacksonville Jags, Steve Smith 5-9-WR (I think that he just retired), Darren Sproles comes in at 5-6. You sure better be able to run if you have this type of height!!

….Who are some of these teams that have been “little guys” who have made it BIG in NCAA completion?  That doesn’t necessarily mean that others have been pushed out…rather these names have become accepted as “big guys”. In NCAA football, where it is extremely difficult to accomplish—for 1 reason, Good programs generally avoid programs that are really improving..but not yet there…how about a top 3 of: UCF, Boise State, Appalachian State(just about there).

In NCAA Basketball, we’ve seen Gonzaga become a national power, Xavier is accepted a “player” these days, coming on strong of late is the St. Mary’s Gaels of California. Wichita State has been “good” for a couple years…let’s see if they can stay there with their future recruiting classes.

….on the HS level, there are some “little guys” that are really having a “turn-around” season. Last year the Gibault Hawks ..from Waterloo, Ill….went 12-23. In the first few weeks of 2019, the Hawks are 6-0 to open the season. Gibault is currently averaging 10 runs per game.  Four regular starters are holding a .500+ batting mark through these first 6 games. Jr Cole Buckner holds a .563 mark, Soph Tate Schilling is at .538, while Seniors Mark Branz and Ian Metcalf are both right at .500. The pitching staff has held their opponents to 4 runs or less in 5 of the 6 games. While holding teams down offensively, Head Coach Andy Skaer has spread the work on the mound around, twelve different players have pitched 2+ innings in these first six games! Sr. Cameron Kincheloe leads the staff with 8 innings of work. He’s 2-0 with an ERA of 1.75. Keep your eye on them as the 2019 season continues!

…don’t forget to send me via email/FB with your “walk up” music to the golf tee….I think that mine would be Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”…I don’t want a fast paced song to juice my drive outta control. I have such a big drive off the tee ya know!! 

Ruffled Feathers by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blow UP Spring Training by Bob Ryan

Spring Training…the rite of starting a new year….well..not exactly…it’s starting the PRACTICE for the new year. While results may be kept some place…probably only by agents and MLB management….everyone knows that this is “practice”.  The players are elevating their skills, stamina, practice time while decreasing on their weight, public appearances and amount of leisure time.   And…..it’s been this way for a long, long time….say 100 years! BLOW IT UP!

I think that it’s far too long…originally, major league baseball players were paid slightly above the “average Joe”…take a look …looking way back….then to recent days..

…..in the 1920’s, the AL team salaries looked like this on opening day 2019

Boston Red Sox, $93,475; New York Yankees, $91,330; Chicago White Sox, $88,461

Detroit Tigers, $81,433;Cleveland Indians, $78,913; St. Louis Browns, $63,000

Washington Senators, $63,000;Philadelphia A’s, $42,000  (25 players per team)..btw..Connie Mack..oft revered now as a baseball pioneer…was the owner of the Phil A’s and was known for is low budget(he was the owner AND the manager)….I’m trying to be nice here. Check out his 1920 pay scale…ugh

Average for the AL per player in 1920–$ 3323  the average working salary  in 1920 was $1236. I have to assume that the NL was comparable to the AL in salaries in 1920.

….at 1950, Joe Average’s median income was around $3000, MLB players were about $12,300

Soooo……a Major league Player to that point was 3x or 4x the working guy.  He felt compelled to work in the off season.  Many sold cars, insurance, owned restaurants, etc. The players stayed busy “making a buck” because …while their pay was excellent for the time….they realized that their careers would end in the early part of their life and that this money was not enough to sustain them for the remainders of their life.

….once Marvin Miller opened the flood gates to enormous salaries in 1975, the income discrepancy had a dramatic difference between MLB players & the working guy.

During the 1980, the avg income in MLB was $143,000. 1980 avg for working guy $17,757

It keeps jump exponentially for MLB players….by 1990 it was $597,000, in 2000 it was $1,895 000 and so on & and so on…two things here…the average is elevated substantially by the highest paid players receiving  multi-hundred million dollar contracts so the average is skewed somewhat. I was unable to find the median income (the middle point income) for the MLB. Btw…the current minimum is over $ 555,000

….so what’s the point with all these pay numbers….MLB players DON’T need to work in the off season in jobs away from baseball any longer. Their FULL time..FULL year….job is baseball.

…With that supposition, baseball players should take a short time off after the season. Then, beginning preparing for the individual skills required for the next season with a trainer, batting instructor, nutritionist, fitness guru, whatever it takes to begin playingat full speed  when spring training opens up. Let the team batting coach watch your swings on-line…. or, your pitching delivery on-line…or fly out to work out in front of him.

Spring training should be 4 weeks….TOTAL…1 week practice, each day it’d be 9-12, 1-5 to review the team skills  (relays, bunt situations, cutoffs, run downs, etc) for a good part of the day.  Some part of the day (maybe afternoons) focus on the individual skills. 3 weeks of games with additional practice in the mornings.  Play tons of B games for the young players, maybe even DH for them. Don’t pretend that most of these 20, 21 year old guys are actually candidates to make the team…cut us a break…who are you kidding?

…when a player reports, he should be given a physical exam and an exam of his bat speed, running ability, throwing ability, eye test (great batters have tremendous eyesight) and pitching test. If he fails the physical part of the exam …not rehabbing injuries…his contract becomes null & void …like the NFL. Common sense does still prevail….if a player had an extensive surgery….that the team knew about & sanctioned….it would be reasonable to expect some of those type players to be incapacitated….e.g. alex Reyes. Not like Ozuna & Martinez coming to camp without their arms being “ready”. If it wasn’t ready…their contract could be voided by the team.

….Further, I believe a totally different approach is demanded of pitchers. Currently, pitchers come to camp, throw 30-40 pitches in the 1st week. I would expect pitchers to ARRIVE at camp being able to throw 100 pitches.  From that point on…build them up to 140 or even 150 pitches.  NO……I don’t expect them to pitch 150 pitches a game…but…if you ALWAYS stop at 100 pitches….guess what….your arm will begin to always get tired and weaker at 100 pitches. I was never a professional player….but even at high school level….an athlete OVER prepared for their sport …swung a bat more, shot more baskets, ran around the track more, etc. So.. this isn’t rocket science.

…in the exhibition season (3 weeks)….play the top 30-35 players only…they should play games 5x a week…this isn’t a vacation as it once was….I’m aware of a former Cardinal player whose children attended schools in StL….he’d pull them out for a couple weeks of spring training because “they could spend time together in the afternoons”…..spring training should be a player fighting for a spot..either on the team or in a starting position.

Thus far, it may seem as if I’m laying it all on the players….the managers/coaches would also have full 8 hour days. Spring training should be more like a “boot” camp than a trip to the lake J

As usual, money plays a part in spring training.  MLB teams …at least some of them….are drawing decent sized crowds to their games. Apparently, Boston sold out all of their home games in Florida (it’s a replica of Fenway). The league draws over 4 million fans to exhibition games every year since 2015. Other teams drawing well are the Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers…..gee…seems like the rich get richer, heh?

Blowing up an arm….you’ll recall my warnings about Brandon Morrow’s work load in the 2017 post season for the Dodgers.  He pitched in 14 post season games for Lain 2017….last year, after the Cubs signed him to a “nice” contract, his arm went dead after 35 games.  It’s still not doing well this spring. Morrow will be 35 years old in July….an veteran who went to the pen after being a starter while compiling 334 appearances and almost 900 MLB innings can’t be abused in that way and not expect some repercussions.

Blowing up the pay-scale….In an effort to prevent the “big” teams from dominating the free agent market, the MLB instituted the luxury tax.  The luxury tax threshold this year is $206m. If eclipsed by a team for 3 straight years (like the Dodgers did in recent years) the team is required to pay a 50% tax on every dollar they spend over the limit. The Dodgers experienced this “tax” recently and then pulled back from over-the-top free agency…at least temporarily….now the Nationals are facing the same dilemma as they consider adding Craig Kimbrel and/or Dallas Keuchel.

Early Cardinal reactions to spring training….

….Ozuna & Martinez arm problems are disconcerting. Neither seemed to do much to get the arm issue resolved in the off –season. I think Ozuna has already “checked out” of  the Lou and is drooling as he waits to become a free agent at the end of 2019….I guess he doesn’t understand that teams will elevate or …lower….their offers depending upon his production.

…Keeping in mind the Ozuna “issue”, Jose Martinez is getting more positive ink than Bryce Harper in the Post.  Every 2nd or 3rd day, he gets a feature. It seems to me that the Cards… oops Post-Dispatch…..want the fans to be ready to accept Martinez as an every-day type guy.

….Haven’t heard much about Paul DeJong and Kolton Wong. To me…it’d be good for the team if each of them played 140+ games….no one plays 150+ any more, do they?…if they play that often…a) they are healthy   b) they are performing

…Harrison Bader continues to struggle hitting the slider in Florida. Throw him sliders in half of his batting practice pitches. His defense is terrific, we need just “some” hitting.

….Starting rotation still seems thin to me…btw…free agent starters are cheaper now than in June or July..

Basketball hysteria!!!

It’s a great time of year for College and High School basketball….you’ve all been following your favorite teams or your favorite underdogs… some thoughts…

….on the women’s side of basketball…..Mizzou’s Lady Tigers (23-11)should get a post-season bid after finishing 5th in the SEC regular season schedule. Losing in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament to #1 seed, Mississippi State 71-59 should not hurt their chances. I was fortunate to see Sophie Cunningham play as an underclassman @ Rock Bridge HS (in Columbia). She was the star of her talented team then. She just became the all-time leading scorer in Mizzou Women Basketball. Currently Cunningham has scored 2157 points. She broke the record established way back in 1985. That is surprising because in 1985 ,Women’s basketball wasn’t played at the level that it is now.

.….maybe it’s my imagination…or just me….but since the phony class scandal @ N.Carolina and the shoe scandal @ Duke…I’m not as interested in either program as I once was.

….I’ll miss Barry Hinson who resigned as SIU-C’s coach after their last loss. He reminded me of Charlie Spoonhower….often saw the funny side of things, won basketball games, kept it simple for the players.

…on the Missouri High School side of things…the Yankees of Girls Basketball, Incarnate Word Academy will snatch their next State Trophy next weekend. It doesn’t seem to matter who the opposition is for the Red Knights. Coach Dan Rolfes works very hard, drives his staff and works his players for constant improvement and onto excellence,  expectations are set high and met. This year’s team is 28-2. Last weekend they avenged an earlier loss to Parkway North in the STATE Quarterfinal 60-52.  Marissa Warren, is 1 of 4 Knights scoring in double figures, and is leading the team at a 14.2 clip. Warren also leads the team in assists and steals and is 3rd in rebounding. Other players scoring over 10ppg are Kiki Britzmann, Kate Rolfes, and Rickie Woltmann.  Woltmann tops the team in rebounds also while Rolfes’ 3 point baskets are the most on the roster. Incredibly, this will be the 10th straight year in the Final Four for Coach Rolfes. IWA took home the top prize in 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010….their records go far beyond that point…but you get the idea!

….on the other side of the coin, making their 1st trip EVER to the Final Four – under Head Coach Bryan Turner on the boys side are the St. Mary’s Dragons. SM had appeared in only two STATE Quarterfinal games (last year and 1967)prior to Saturday’s game. The Dragons were under the radar all year. Sure… everyone had heard about this guard, named Yuri Collins, going to St Louis U next year but Collins had shoulder surgery that postponed his arrival on the court this year. The Dragons, without Collins, started slowly. They were 3-5 on Dec 15 after losing to conference foe, Tolton Catholic (Columbia, MO). Btw…Tolten has some more Porters coming along for Mizzou. Anyway…SM’s conference is largely overlooked by most observers. Probably,  because of its design and size. These are mid-sized High schools. The AAA conference large division is a regional conference. It has SM (South City), Borgia (Washington, MO), St Dominic (O’Fallon, MO), Cardinal Ritter (North City) and Tolten Catholic (Columbia, MO).  It is a talented basketball conference. SM is going to STATE. Borgia won district and Ritter & Tolten dropped their district championship games. Ritter went toe-toe with Vashon in the title game. Needless to say, SM was a huge underdog against Hillsboro (23-4) in the Sectional. The Dragons speed was far too much for the Hawks as SM won 95-46. In the STATE Quarterfinal, Cape Central 26-3 had lost their 3 games by a grand total of 10 points…they were good, very good. SM fell behind 13-2 but used some pressure defense and Yuri to come back. In the 2nd half, it was all Yuri as he scored 31 for the game  with 10 assists and really “ran the show” as Dragons won 68-62. Donovan Parker had an amazing 9 blocks in the game.  Noah Hamilton snatched 5 steals and knocked down 4 consecutive FT late in the game. One never knows about the Final Four but for the Dragons .. they’ve already  broken the barrier to the Final Four.

….well…..thanks for making it to the bottom and not “blowing up” my blog J

Sunny not Snow by Bob Ryan

Despite looking out the window and seeing snowflakes coming down, sunny days are not far away…take a look…

I enjoyed a wonderful evening this week as I attended the Blues-Nashville game… it was terrific…plenty of energy on the ice and in the stands. I do think that hockey..maybe more than any other sport….is MUCH, MUCH better in person than on the tube. You can really appreciate the speed and skill of these talented skaters.  Seeing the entire play develop on the ice really adds to the game. However, I don’t buy into all of that hockey lingo “character”, “perseverance”, “dig deep”, yada-yada-yada alone wins games.. SKILL and athleticism wins games….in any sport….I would EXPECT maximum effort of professionals in EVERY game…on a lower lever..the line changes are hardly ever talked about by our local announcers. I wish that they would give us the line matchups when possible…. LGB! Meanwhile, It was a “sunny”, happy experience for us @ the Enterprise Center.

…the Harper/Machado saga has finally ended…I was weary of reading about the two  of them being unhappy about their “paltry” offers…they were only being offered a couple hundred million…come on fellows…enjoy life….now you’ll make enough money to take care of your family, grandchildren’s families etc. It had to be a sunny day for you and your family…and for me (I don’t have to read about it anymore)…btw, I was interested in Harper’s choice of numbers @ Philly. He had taken #34 @ Washington because 3+4 = 7 ..Mickey Mantle’s #.  34 was worn in Philly by Roy Halladay…Harper felt that Halladay should be the last player to wear that number…so he took #3.

…the Cards quiet sunny side has to do with the moves that were made in the winter to their 40 man roster. Adding RHP fireballing Ryan Helsley, LHP Genesis Cabrera (obtained  for Tommy Pham), Lane Thomas.. who’s already getting a long look due to his defensive skills and his ability to pop the long ball(seems like that’s a necessity in the Cards eyes these days) and Ramon Urias. Urias won’t be up early…or maybe even at all….but he’s an infielder without an established position yet who really hit “big time” until last year.  Keep your bright, sunny eyes on these 4 names for the Cards…maybe this year….but probably next.

….while the Billikens aren’t a national power…the Bills outlook in the A-10 tournament could be sunny. Let’s hope that the Bills have some “sunny” days from the perimeter offensively in that conference tourney.

….I read that Travis Ford & Cuonzo Martin have a good, sunny relationship….and that maybe it’ll lead to a SLU-Mizzou basketball game in the near future. It could be lots of fun to watch our local favorites.. like kids playing our best friends…battle each other. That would be terrific.

…great news from the MLS..there is talk now by Commissioner Don Garber of expanding beyond the 28 team quota that will be filled in the upcoming months. In 2019, Cincinnati enters MLS, its Nashville & Miami in 2020 and Austin no later than 2021.

…..Right now, the MLS league, stadium name & capacity looks like this:

Western Conference

Team Stadium Capacity

Colorado Rapids Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 18,061

FC Dallas Toyota Stadium 20,500

Houston Dynamo BBVA Compass Stadium 22,039

LA Galaxy Dignity Health Sports Park 27,000

Los Angeles FC Banc of California Stadium 22,000

Minnesota United FC Allianz Field 19,400

Portland Timbers Providence Park 25,000

Real Salt Lake Rio Tinto Stadium 20,213

San Jose Earthquakes Avaya Stadium 18,000

Seattle Sounders FC CenturyLink Field] 39,419

Sporting Kansas City Children’s Mercy Park 18,467

Vancouver Whitecaps FC BC Place] 22,120

Eastern Conference

Team Stadium Capacity

Atlanta United FC Mercedes-Benz Stadium[A] 42,500

Chicago Fire SeatGeek Stadium 20,000

FC Cincinnati Nippert Stadium[A] 33,800  1st year team

Columbus Crew SC Mapfre Stadium 19,968

D.C. United Audi Field 20,000

Montreal Impact Saputo Stadium 20,801

New England Revolution  Gillette Stadium[A] 20,000

New York City FC Yankee Stadium[A] 30,321

New York Red Bulls Red Bull Arena 25,000

Orlando City SC Orlando City Stadium 25,500

Philadelphia Union Talen Energy Stadium 18,500

Toronto FC BMO Field 30,000

***wouldn’t this be nice to see……….

St Louis Enterprise Stadium 20,000ish

….I think the schedule of each team is an interesting, fair one….you play each of your division teams twice a season and each team from the other division just 1 time. Sooo…you’d have a home game with each conference team each year and a home game with each team from the other conference once every 2 years. It would be a sunny day when/if StL is granted a franchise.

…new Cardinal batting coach Jeff Albert is getting rave reviews …especially from one of the Cardinal leaders…Matt Carpenter….who says Albert is one of the best hitting coaches he’s had and one of the best he thinks there is in the game. Wouldn’t that be great not seeing so many strikeouts each game….plus….it’d make the game move faster by putting it in play. It’s also “sunny” when the players have confidence in their coaches.

…I like the sunny idea of Columbus’ Head Coach Tortorella….he wants every OT game in the NHL to keep playing 3 on 3 hockey (no shootouts) until someone scores. Recently he said,” Get rid of the shootout (and) just play the three-on-three until a team dies”. To me…the NHL using the shootout would be like the MLB deciding an extra inning game stops after 12, 13, ..whatever number of innings… and then have a HR derby.

…..a very sunny event occurred  as one of our own “locals” who’s been on the National Scene as a middle-distance runner just won her 1st National Title in the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships. Colleen Quigley, graduate of Nerinx Hall and daughter of long time XC and track Coach, Gaylerd Quigley, upset the reigning title holder & 8x champion, in the 1500m race. Quigley ran a 60.09 (sec)final 400 meters to beat the favorite Shelby Houlihan. Congratulations to Colleen and her family for this tremendous achievement.  Colleen was a participant in the last Olympic for the USA. I ran track & cross country in High School. I can’t imagine all the hours, days, years, pain (you can’t be that good and not have real pain) that Colleen has spent to reach this tremendous pinnacle. I recall when I was young, StL hosted a summer track meet for the best runners in the USA. There was always lots of excitement for 2 races….the 100m dash and the mile (now the 1500m). Congrats again to the Quigleys!

…congrats to the UMSL Men’s basketball team for a SUNNY season. Head Coach Bob Sunvold’s team reached the 20 win plateau win a win over Maryville. The Tritons are 20-8 as they begin the GLVC Conference Tournament. It was only the 4th time that  UMSL has won 20 games or more. The last time was back in 1990-91 (22-6) season under Coach Rick Meckfessel. The other years were in 1987-88, 22-9 also under Coach Meckfessel. The 1st time that UMSL reached the 20 win plateau was back in 1971-72 under Coach Chuck Smith. Smith was the first Head basketball coach @ UMSL. The inaugural mens basketball season was in 1966-67.

…Well…while its SUNNY in the sports world…it’s time for me to shovel snow

                                                                                                                                            E

Sign Him Now! by Bob Ryan

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

….a DEEP LOOK @ CARDS in February

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

MINOR LEAGUE Yo-Yo SYSTEM..

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

….the minor league salary is pitiful.  

Level                                       1st Year 2ndYear 3rd Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard incentives include:

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

$5000 bonus after 60 days Big League time.

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

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

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

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

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

STARTING ROTATION..

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

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

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

LOOKING AHEAD…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or …if we keep going down the list—

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

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

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

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

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

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

…OFF THE MOUND….to the OUTFIELD

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

…NOW…brief INFIELD “take”

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

Around Baseball…

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

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

Oasis in Sports Desert by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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