Blues Made Me Do It by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals have owned the St. Louis sports scene for a long time. The Cards do an excellent job of continuing to put good… or very good ..teams on the field annually. The other teams in the Lou are generally in their shadow. Like a big brother, almost, the Cards want the other teams to do well….but ..maybe not BETTER than the Cards?! When the Rams compiled their tremendous seasons in 1999-2001 and very strong seasons following—winning 1 Super Bowl and losing another, it seemed to stir the Cards to an even higher level. The Cards fielded probably their best team in 2004 (won 105 games, lost series to Red Sox). They Jim Edmonds just before 2000 season and acquired Scott Rolen in 2002 in major trades. Along with Albert they are sometimes known as “MV3”. The Rams success may have been…probably was…. at the very least… one… of the impetus for the Cards to stay in the spotlight and improve their roster via major trades. Now…. The Blues just won the Stanley Cup..and the city went crazy in over their play. Now, the Blues are enjoying another very strong season….could it be the time for the Cards to “answer” by consummating a major trade….say… for Nolan Arenado? Acquiring  a real superstar… to supplement an already good roster…could push us over the top.   I’m not saying that there is a rivalry between these teams in the Lou but that when one team has been the prominent team for decades…..it isn’t just going to just “roll over” and surrender its prominence to a different local team on the rise. Did the Blues MAKE them do it? Maybe…and that’s OK….it’d be outstanding to have another long post season run in the fall. Sooo….LGB and Go Cards! Btw…I want to thank my friend, Scott Brown, for leading me down his path.

….If the Cards really, REALLY want to regain the StL spotlight…they can..and should…. acquire Nolan Arenado. The latest offer that seems to be Dakota Hudson, 3b-Nolan Gorman (ranked #2 prospect), Tyler Bader, Andrew Knizner. That doesn’t appear to be anywhere near his value and ISN’T going to get it done. Hudson is probably going to be a #2 or#3 starter… Gorman is a top prospect but according Cards system…not due to arrive in MLB until ’22. Bader hasn’t shown he can hit in the MLB. Knizner is completely unproven….sooooo….we’re going to trade that foursome, that includes two MLB players. Only Hudson brings good stats to the table…and that’s only for 1 year….. for one of the best hitters in the entire MLB? Come on….The offer will definitely have to be upgraded and trade good players with possible high upside if the Cards are REALLY serious about acquiring Arendo. Do it Cards!  You have the financial resources, the necessary number of quality players, and a division that is weaker than last year.

…Meanwhile, MO State faced some huge demands to radically change their approach in football. They hope that they took a huge step toward in the right direction by  hiring Bobby Patrino as the Head Football Coach—WOW! Patrino isn’t arriving in town flying his angel wings. This will be his 17th stop in his career which began in 1983. A perusal through his resume makes one realize that MO State is desperate to win. Patrino HAS been able to produce winning teams throughout most years…but a) he doesn’t ever stay long  b) it often ends badly… with the worst result in his 2nd tour @ Louisville. It went completely off the tracks for him! After suffering a motorcycle injury, he first claimed he was alone. Minutes prior to the police tape of the accident showing him with a female companion. He “came clean”… admitting a relationship with her for several months. He had given her cash gifts under the ruse of salary payments…he was quickly fired. Then stops in W.Kentucky and back to Louisville with each one ending badly…. soooo…so MO State must feel that Patrino—a) can still coach  b) he’ll win   c) he’ll stay…& stay out of trouble.  

….Sooo…what about the demands on the defending NHL champions?   They continue to win…and do it without a real superstar. It seems to me that NHL teams that repeat generally have a superstar—e.g. Gretzky, Sindey Crosby, etc. David Perron (in his 13th NHL season @ 31 years of age) leads this team in scoring ….at least for the moment. Perron was the Blues #1 draft pick way back in 2007! Bennington & Allen share the netminding and are performing in a very impressive manner ..but not equally..Bennington holds about a 2-1 ratio in games played. However, Allen actually has a better GAA and Sv% marks but Bennington is the #1. As expected, the team leaders of Schenn, Schwartz, O’Reilly and Pietrangelo continue to lead the way with a high level of play. They do it statistically but also in less measurable ways that lead to victories. To me, Colton Parayko plays like an NHL defensive star. One must congratulate the Blues on their continuation to bringing up…and playing…young talent. Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyou and recently Nikko Mikkola are adding to the team while building up experience. I often forget that Vince Dunn is only 23. He’s played so much in the last 1.5 years that I think of him as an “old guy” J The “grinders” (non scorers who check the opposition persistently, skate hard and play hard) are invaluable-especially, Ivan Barbasev &  Tyler Bozack. It seems to my untrained eye, that Oscar Sundquist continues to develop into an all-around player. It’s still a long, long road but it sure has been fun to watch them thus far.

…SLU will see the demands on their team rise as the heart-breaking , split-second loss to Dayton in OT 78-76 demonstrated that the Bills CAN play with the big boys. The Billikens outrebounded the Flyers 45-33. Each team traded turns at having big “runs”—typical in games between 2 good teams. SLU stretched the lead to 13 points twice before Dayton raced to a 24-6 run that gave the Flyers a 66-61 advantage with 1:59 remaining. The Billikens answered & outscored the Flyers 8-3 the rest of the way, sending the game into overtime on Goodwin’s driving layup at the buzzer. There were 5 lead changes and 4 ties in the OT. Yuri Collins sank 2 free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining to give SLU a  76-75 lead. Jalen Crutcher – who also went 4-of-4 from the foul line in the last 49 seconds – hit the game-winner 3-pointer from the top of the key. That wonderful performance that included 5 players in double figures should raise the Demands of all the Billiken fans for good fortune in future games.

…suggestion for the MLB….one easy way to STOP teams from using technology to steal signs.  Don’t show the CF camera shot until the catcher gives an agreed upon sign to the camera man(like holding his glove up), that his signs to the pitcher are over. Sooo….do you think Pete Rose’s prohibition from baseball for betting on games is worse than players stealing and distributing signs with technology? I’d enjoy reading YOUR thoughts

.. Will the demands make the Cards do it…..According to minor league evaluations, Dylan Carlson (highest ranked StL minor leagurer) is expected to arrive in the Lou sometime in 2020! I seriously doubt that we’ll see him until the season is 87 days old (then it won’t count as a full season towards arbitration)

…SEC football coaches face high demands…they MUST win..period. It does not permit coaches of mediocre or poor teams to survive. Typically, SEC Football coaches change each winter….this year 4 SEC schools of 14-28% have new Head Football Coaches– Mizzou, Ole Miss, Mississippi State & Arkansas. Several other schools have brought in new Off Coordinator (OC) & DC.

 …Apparently no demands are being made on the Tigers ….unable to move upwards in the SEC standings is Mizzou Basketball….1-3 in the SEC after a pitiful game vs Miss State. The Tigers lost 72-45 in a game that they didn’t compete for the last 30 minutes.

…I’ve heard this rumor….don’t know if its true…..Bill Belicheck is applying for a coaching job with the Astros. Apparently, they share the same values J  However, Aaron Rodgers recently praised Belickek. He thought the NFL has changed due to Belicheck. Now….they seem to follow the Belichick method of scheming defensively for each and every game instead of the ol’ approach…we’re a team that does this…or that…and that’s what we’ll do.

….Some teams demand wins and will tolerate some “individuality”. Some won’t. A national article feels that the Pham trade to San Diego was a “steal” for the Padres.  It’s felt his OB% will benefit the power hitters ….they’ll actually have some 2 or 3 run-HR..not all solo shots from their power hitters. They also felt that his competitive nature would benefit the maturity of this very young team.

….There are always demands for winning coaches. After winning the NCAA title, 2 LSU Football top assistants are leaving to bigger pastures. Staying only 1 year as the Passing Coordinator, Joe Brady moves back to the NFL as an OC @ Carolina. The DC, Dave Aranda, leaves LSU to become the head coach @ Baylor replacing Matt Ruhle.  

…Well….the demands on me are over for this week. Hope that you’ll respond to any part of this blog. Do it on Facebook, Prepcasts or email it to me. Thanks for the read!

Astros-Gate by Bob Ryan

It began with Watergate…since then every type of subterfuge becomes a “gate”….so I couldn’t wait until next Monday to dive in on the Astros-Gate. Everyone will get damaged in some way……

..it began on Nov 12, 2019 when former Houston Astros player Mike Fiers publicly alleged in an article published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic that the Astros had engaged in sign-stealing methods in 2017 that violated MLB’s rules. While his allegations have proven to be absolutely true….one would think that Fiers doesn’t ever expect to be back inside an MLB clubhouse again. Breaking the sacro-sinct code of “what goes on in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse”….even Fiers— the guy who began the wagon rolling over the cliff will suffer from his revelations.

…factual findings of the MLB investigation led by Comish Manfred (shortened, but these ARE the exact words of the report”)… “At the beginning of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros’ video replay review  room began using the live game feed from the center field camera to attempt to decode and  transmit opposing teams’ sign sequences (i.e., which sign flashed by the catcher is the actual sign) for use when an Astros runner was on second base. Once the sign sequence was decoded, a player in the video replay review room would act as a “runner” to relay the information to the dugout, and a person in the dugout would notify the players in the dugout or signal the sign sequence to the runner on second base, who in turn would decipher the catcher’s sign and signal to the batter from second base”…it gets worse…” Early in the season, Alex Cora, the Astros’ Bench Coach, began to call the replay review room on the replay phone to obtain the sign information”…” Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs  and communicating the signs to the batter. Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout”. As season progressed, “. One or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter” Then, “However, witnesses made clear that everyone proximate to the Astros’ dugout presumptively heard or saw the banging. In addition to players using the monitor installed near the dugout to decode signs, employees in the Astros’ replay review room continued to decode sign sequences using the monitors in the room and communicate those sequences to the dugout for use when a runner was on second base. Both methods of sign stealing were used by the team in parallel throughout the 2017 season”. While further East, “In August 2017, the Boston Red Sox were caught transmitting sign information from their replay review room to individuals in the dugout wearing smart watches. The incident received significant media attention, and I(Manfred) issued a press release on September 15, 2017 announcing the fine of the Red Sox” It was addressed again in MLB meeting with management in the off-season—emphasizing that mechanical assistance to steal signs was forbidden. It continues in Manfred’s report, “The Astros’ methods in 2017 and 2018 to decode and communicate to the batter an opposing Club’s signs were not an initiative that was planned or directed by the Club’s top  baseball operations officials. Rather, the 2017 scheme in which players banged on a trash can was, with the exception of Cora, player-driven and player-executed. The attempt by the Astros’ replay review room staff to decode signs using the center field camera was originated and executed by lower-level baseball operations employees working in conjunction with Astros players and Cora. The efforts involving the replay review room staff were mentioned in at least two emails sent to Luhnow, and there is conflicting evidence about conversations with Luhnow on the topic. When the Astros players were interviewed , Many of the players who were interviewed admitted that they knew the scheme was wrong because it crossed the line from what the player believed was fair competition and/or violated MLB rules. Players stated that if Manager A.J. Hinch told them to stop engaging in the conduct, they would have immediately stopped. Although the Astros’ players did not attempt to hide what they were doing from Hinch or other Astros employees, they were concerned about getting caught by players from other teams. Several players told my investigators that there was a sense of “panic” in the Astros’ dugout after White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar appeared to notice the trash can bangs. Before the game ended, a group of Astros players removed the monitor from the wall in the tunnel and hid it in an office. For the Postseason, a portable monitor was set up on a table to replace the monitor that had been affixed to the wall near the dugout.

All of the above is taken directly from the report….some of my thoughts…

…I totally agree that Luhnow & HInch are guilty and their firing (and hopefully never rehired) is just

…I also agree that the owner had absolutely NO idea of this illegality taking place.

…MLB fining the Astros huge money, taking away draft choices seem appropriate.

But……how can these players….ALL of them involved get a “pass”?   They all KNEW it was illegal… forbidden by the league. It clearly is the most serious cheating scandal in the history of the MLB. Manfred ..more or less…excuses them since their manager was the leader. Come on…all the players knew it was wrong. For example, if the player was taking PED’s …did he need the manager to tell him directly “NOT TO DO IT” to be wrong?…same with the signs!

 I would have been far more severe with the entire roster….I would hold them accountable…

While Luhnow & company(including Carlos Beltran) will hopefully be excluded from any roles in MLB teams ever again, ALL the players knew that cheating was taking place..and many participated in it.

1st …make them refund all their extra playoff money from those seasons. Give to charity.

2nd….don’t ever allow any of them to accept management roles in the MLB

3rd…remove any bonuses for batting titles or award or achievements in their contracts.

Hold these men accountable….remember 1919, Joe Jackson was accused of cheating. He signed a guilty plea…despite being totally illiterate…he had NO idea what he was signing. To this day, 100 years later, he’s still not in the HOF despite being identified by his peers as the “Best Swing of his Era” and one of the very best defensively. In those day, apparently, men in those days were held responsible and not excused because the management didn’t indicate to them that an obvious wrong …is WRONG! Manfred actually says, ““I recognize that some players may have understood that their conduct was not only condoned by the Club, but encouraged by it.” Think about that  one…  Little Leaguer Players  have been held to higher standards than these MLB’ers.   Manfred’s report lowered the hammer on Hinch & Luhnow but the actual cheaters skated away.. free as a bird!

4th..Should all long term contracts of these Astros be negated…or renegotiated? Surely, there’s some clause in those contracts about abiding by all the MLB rules/regulations.

Now a short bit on real sports thoughts…

The LSU-Clemson game was absolutely terrific. I didn’t have a dog in this fight…I just wanted a good, competitive game with lots of outstanding catches, throws, tackles (Yea….I still like hard tackles) and plenty of emotion. LSU was the best team in the USA this year! Congrats to them! I do wish that the game didn’t take half a work-day to play!

While I’m on football…..the NFL playoff games are totally different from the hum-dum of the regular season games. Players are using football skills…not trying to injure the opponents. The KC Chiefs –Texans game was really a Tale of Two halves….well, maybe 1 qtr vs 3 quarters….but any way.. it turned on the failure of a fake punt and then KC exploded.

I’d love to read YOUR thoughts on the Astros-Gate…..thanks for taking the time to read a 2nd edition this week.

Dear John by Bob Ryan

Dear John letters/notes, still exit. It’s title began as a letter from a woman to a man, especially a serviceman back in the day. IT terminated a personal relationship. Currently, it  has probably taken   different forms. But….it’s still there. No doubt, tweets, texts, & many other ways, saying “so long”, “goodbye”, or maybe a gentler, “maybe another time”…. Take place daily. These separations are also taking place in the sports world….maybe,  in more diverse  ways. Take a look…

….Dear Mo, We’re not accepting the idea that Nolan Arenado, after signing an 8 year contract last Feburary, is in a genuine discussion about coming to the Lou. His $260m contract is not palatable for the Cards scale. We’ve been down this road before with winter rumors about other extremely high priced FA signing with the Cards. He isn’t coming…now ….or probably ever. Say goodbye to the fake notion of bringing  Arenado here, don’t tease & toss  this fan base.

…Dear Travis, you’re doing a fine job @ SLU(13-3, 2-1-conf). But…don’t say you don’t get any breaks….in a tight game vs George Washington University last week, with only 20 seconds remaining in the game, Terrence Hargrove was sent to the line in a double bonus.  His 1st shot hit the back of the rim, bounced 5-6 ft high, then came down thru the basket. The 2nd shot ALSO hit the back rim and also bounced up high in the air, approximately 3 ft high and it ALSO came down thru the basket.  Those were very important points at the time. The Bills beat the Colonials in A-10 action 63-58….yes sir, it was beyond being lucky….so Travis say goodbye to Lady Luck….at least for a while!

…Dear Tom, It’s been fun and its been a long run but….Tom….all good things DO come to an end. Father Time has caught up with you (you can’t throw a ball deep downfield, , you have plenty of money and are still healthy. Why risk another year of NFL football? It’s been unbelievable but.. Say Goodbye to the NFL…while you’re still close to the top(and more importantly–healthy)!

….Dear Cards fans say goodbye to Randy Arozarena & a good hit, no field, likable -Jose Martinez this week to Tampa Bay for Matthew Liberatore. Also, the trade included the exchange of compensation picks. Rays gave up their #66 pick for the Cards #38. Interesting trade …. Several “takes”..1st– Cards seem  very good at analyzing & developing young pitchers. Let’s hope those skills continue with this lefty. Liberatore may be that LH starting pitcher that we’ve been looking for since Steve Carlton. Libatore was listed as the #4 pitching prospect in TB organization but is listed as the #2 Pitching prospect for the Cards. He’s said to be 2 years away.2nd-some “prospects really have great “stuff”…the ones that mature & develop become elite pitchers. However, many never find that fine line of great control.   3rd…..Cards reduced their glut of young outfielders on the roster. Arozarena came on very strong in 2019, seemingly surprising the brass with his play and became a nice trading chip. I would have preferred keeping Arozarena over Popeye (Tyler O’Neill) but let’s be pleased with filling the LHP need. Baseball America: said Liberatore projects as a polished middle-of-the-rotation lefty. He thrives on a wide assortment of pitches combined with excellent command. He’s about as safe a bet as a young pitching prospect can be.His size and smooth delivery give him a high upside as well. Despite their OF glut, the Cards system have NOT developed strong, long-term  MLB outfield players for a long time.  Since 1950, our best home-grown OF, who have played 5 years with Cards, have been Ray Lankford, Vince Coleman, Bernard Gilkey and Mike Shannon. Our star outfielders, for the most part, have been obtained in trades—Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Jim Edmonds, Willie McGee, George Hendrick, Matt Holliday are prime examples.  However, it appears that the Cards have all their “future” eggs in the Dylan Carlson basket.  Keep in mind….all these players are PROSPECTS. Let’s hope he isn’t JD Drew part II!

…In the Nearly Forgotten League playoffs, teams must wave goodbye to the high-scoring, prolific passing, pin-ball type scores and to go back to the good, ol’ fashioned run games that win playoff games. Frisco outrushed the Vikings 186-21 in their 27-10 win. Tennessee upset the highly favored Baltimore Ravens 28-12 by using the huge ground game of 217 yards while only recording 83 passing yards.

…Growing up, the NHL’s premier product was the Montreal Canadians. Times have changed! Montreal just lost their 8th straight game and are 10 points out of the last playoff spot and appear to be destined to miss their 3rd straight playoff…say goodbye to the good ol’ days Montreal!

… the Top Cardinal prospect for each year of  the last 10 years– 2020: OF Dylan Carlson;  2019: RHP Alex Reyes; 2018: RHP Alex Reyes; 2017: RHP Alex Reyes;  2016: RHP Alex Reyes; 2015: LHP Marco Gonzales; 2014: OF Oscar Taveras; 2013: OF Oscar Taveras;  2012: RHP Shelby Miller; 2011: RHP Shelby Miller. That list is rather discouraging to me! Alex Reyes for 4 straight years??? Say goodbye to that notion of a deep farm system.

…Never thought I’d say it….but…..N.Carolina say goodbye to national prominence in Mens basketball in 2019-20. The Tar Heels are 8-7. Even HOF coach Roy Williams who has 879 wins and 3 national titles said on a radio interview that this was “the least gifted team I’ve ever coached in the time that I’ve been back here”. It took a lot of people by surprise, mostly NC fans, despite it being completely true.

….Dear Matt Ruhle, don’t let the door hit you in the rear after bolting from the Baylor football program for the Carolina Panthers. Sending this note to your players on the way out, ““I’m sorry you guys are hearing about this through the media,” Rhule said in a text, via Sports Reporter Darby Brown. “I love you and this team. I have a unique chance to go try to win a Super Bowl and take the Process to the NFL. I hope you understand. I’ll be here in town so please come see me at any time”.  Nothing like I love you guys? Or an…. I’ll always be here if you guys need anything? Or, it’s been great coaching you. Or…thanks for all your hard work. Or…thx for helping me land this contract of a lifetime….Say goodbye to Common Courtesy Mr. Ruhle! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

…Dear Blues fans, say goodbye to having a single super star carry this team. The Blues are a COMPLETE team. While their intensity in forechecking, to me,  seems down just a bit from the post-season of last year, they still play the “team” game as demanded by Coach Berube. The Blues continue to slip in newer, younger players to supplement the vets. I think that “younger” movement is very important. Play in the NHL demands fresh legs and it may be a bit tougher for the 30+ guys to do it night after night. Now, we DO need that experience in the playoffs where the game takes on a different dimension. But, holding the Cup high last year has also seemed to give the entire team an inner confidence to adjust to the tempo, tenacity and pace of each game. Let’s enjoy this Blues team.

….Dear Kolton, It’s time!  You’ll be making $10.2m this year, you have 6 full years of ML experience. Step up and just play!! Somehow….relax—really believe you ARE a good MLB player!  You are a tremendous asset but during Manifesto’s regime your progress slowed as you sat on the bench many more games than one would expect.  You only played in 107 games in 2017. You seemed to be on the bench for inexplicable reasons. However, your play in August of 2019 was a vital part of the Cards surge to the top. Say goodbye to Ms. Nervous Nelly…you belong.

…Dear Hasahn, with your FT% 34.5%, say goodbye to your current FT approach. Why not try holding the ball right above your elbow (instead of under our chin), bring arm & elbow straight up…voila!

..Dear Cuonzo, your Mizzou team holds an 9-6 record, please don’t tell us how “tough” the SEC play is in 19-20. As of today, in the top 25 NCAA polls, there are only TWO SEC teams ranked. Auburn is ranked #5 and Kentucky #14. Please say goodbye to excuses…this is your 3rd year…..time to perform.

…Dear Nick, say goodbye to having premier football players stay for 4 complete years at Alabama. With Tua Tagovailoa stepping away from Bama despite coming off a serious surgery, Saban must recognize that the recruits that he’s seeking, aren’t EVER going to stay 4 years….hurt or not.

…UConn women Basketball say goodbye to your 126 game regular season winning streak! The Baylor Lady Bears upended them 68-57. The Huskies last regular season loss was in 2014!!! WOW!!

..Dear John, it was been fun but all good things must come to an end. Thanks for your attention for the last 5 minutes. Hope that you’ll come back next week….. Bob

Winter Wonderland by Bob Ryan

Now that we’ve passed the New Year, we’re really in the heart of the Winter Wonderland of sports. Action on the ice, the court and the gridiron with plenty of twists,turns & upsets. Some passing (that’s all they do these days) thoughts on the sports action.

…as always, the holidays are filled with college bowl games. There isn’t any way that I could comment on all 30 of them…I DO have a life. But…..there are SOME reactions.

…in the NCAA championship semifinal, to no one’s surprise the OU secondary was torched by LSU. Oklahoma, for the most part, just outscored people more than stopping people in 2019. Throughout the last half of the season, OU’s defense saw 48, 41, 31, 24, 16, and 23 points scored on them. LSU continually threw deep over the deep coverage. Give LSU credit…they had speedy receivers (primarily one) and a QB, Joe Burrow, with deep accuracy (a professional type throw). Burrow was so obviously the Heisman choice, that if one would be $100 on him on that award, you’d win less than $1. Burrow’s father coached football for 40 years so it was definitely in his blood. Burrow started his collegiate career @Ohio State. He redshirted, then backed up JT Barrett for 2 years. When he realized that Dwayne Haskins would be named the starting QB for the Buckeyes, he transferred to LSU as a graduate student. Special credit must be given to Joe Brady – the passing coordinator @ LSU. He had been the New Orleans offensive coach for 2 years prior to moving to LSU. He won he Frank Broyles award which goes to the Nation best college ast coach. Playing the politician, Head Coach Ed Orgeron called OC Steve Ensminger the team MVP! Gotta keep em both happy.

…the other game that I watched for more than just a few minutes was Bama-Mich….guess I was drawn to the Big name schools. It was won by Alabama due to their premier receiver, Jerry Jeudy, that Michigan just couldn’t match up with defensively. Jeudy caught 6 balls for 204 yards and a TD. Basically, the Crimson Tide had the future NFL players and Michigan did not. Generally, the big plays come from the future NFL players. Bama 35-16. Since 2001, the Wolverines are 4-11 in bowl games. Jim Harbough is now coming under fire. He’s been labeled as a coach who fields good teams every year…but NOT great teams in his 5 years in Ann Arbor. He’s changed his coaching staff all around without change on the field. His reputation as a coach that develops QB (@ San Diego it was Josh Johnson, @ Stanford, Andrew Luck, @ SF he propped up Alex Smith & Colin Kapernick but he’s been unable to find and develop that game-breaking QB @ Michigan. Maybe….it was because his receivers couldn’t get space against the Alabama receivers? Clemson & LSU have receivers who can use their speed & athleticism to get space from the defender & use their tremendous ability to make extraordinary catches. Michigan doesn’t have that type of receiver. Will Michigan stay with Harbough?  He does have GOOD teams annually….but is that good enough?

…in 2018, the SEC was 6-6 in bowl games, 2019 was much better 7-2 with LSU in title game.  

…the Blues are really spoiling us despite their latest nightmare in Vegas. Their 26-10-7 record is phenomenal. After winning 8 straight, the Blues have struggled in last week or so. Ryan O’Reilly is again showing wonderful offensive skill—his work on faceoffs, slick passing(leads team in assists-27) and shooting. His shooting % is 11.1 currently, I anticipate it’ll rise as we move deeper into January. I really like Colton Parayko’s play—he uses his size well, passes out of his end effectively, checks with force but his shooting % of 2.2% -2 goals, 93 shots needs some refining. His stellar defensive play is vital but maybe some more concentration on the accuracy of his shots . I realize his 11 assists are due primarily to rebounds on low shots but his higher shots need to be on net also. I’m not much of a fan of Troy Brouwer. I feel like the days of the muscular forwards with minimal NHL offensive skills passed along with the Philadelphia Flyers Broad Street Bully Days in the 70’s. However, It does appear that Justin Faulk is finding his game legs after looking slow in his first several games.

….the St Louis U Billikens hold an impressive 11-3 record. There are some strong wins- 66-63 over K-State (7-5 of Big 12), 60-55 over Belmont (9-4, 1st in OVC, 86-62 over Tulane (8-5 in American Conf), 64-54 on the road over Boston College (8-6, 4th ACC).Now, the Bills have to keep winning against these more talented teams. If you want to make a post-season tourney and WIN….you must have the experience of good wins under your belt. But, I’d like to focus on the outstanding play of one of the local players-Justin Goodwin. Goodwin has played 35+ minutes in 8 of the games. He’s averaging a double-double—15.2 pts/11.4 reb per game while leading the A10. In addition to leading the team in those 2 categories, he’s the leader in steals and 2nd in assists. With Goodwin and Yuri Collins the Bills have 2 of their top players from the Lou. It’ll be fun to watch these Bills, who seem more athletic than most of the past teams compete and grow throughout the season. The Bills must find a way to keep Hasahn French on the court. His rebounding, blocked shots (31) and scoring are essential in games against strong opponents. His early foul trouble is troublesome for Coach Ford. I expect other teams will go “right at him” in the first 10 minutes of each game in an effort to get him on the bench. The season long Foot injury to Gibson Jimerson (3 pt shooter) presents a real challenge. He converted 43% of is 3 point shots, was named A-10 rookie of the week twice during nonconference play. Question is— can/will someone assume that roll with close to the same results? Coach Travis Ford sees his team ranked #56 by NET ranking currently. It’s better than it first seems…in that same poll….Kentucky is #40, Florida #55, Missouri #52, Georgia #66, Texas A&M is #191. This same poll had Duquesne #98 with 11-2 record..Bills lost on the road to 73-59 to Duquesne in A-10 opener on Thursday. So much for polls, right?

…I enjoyed watching the 2 games of the Nearly Forgotten League yesterday. On a larger stage, it appears that Tom Brady’s great career may be over. Remember centuries ago..it seems..he played the Rams in the Super Bowl!! Clearly his athleticism has diminished—his weaker arm, slower movements, less agility. When the Titans handed the Pats a 20-13 defeat yesterday and the Pats offense was mediocre (at best), it was a clear signal to Brady & the Pats. He’s been great…he’s a sure HOF’er….but everything comes to an end. The other wild card game between Houston Texans & Buffalo Bills was a story of 2 totally different halves. Buffalo controlled first half as Josh Allen looked sharp & led 13-0. However, in the 2nd half, he fell apart. He looked and played like an overwhelmed QB. He appeared to be “over his head” in the deep depth of this game with poor decisions on targets, accuracy, and panicking when his team lost their momentum. Meanwhile, DeShawn Watson came alive in the 2nd half. He used his legs for escapeability as well as gaining yards and his arm for key throws on crucial downs. The regulation score of 19-19 was the 1st time in NFL history that a game had that score. On the winning drive in OT, Watson made some terrific throws and runs, on one play he was hit by both DE..almost simultaneously…but kept his feet and gained big yards on a run. It led to a 22-19 victory. It was a wonderful week of winter wonderland in the sports world.

2020 Sports Resolutions by Bob Ryan

The New Year always brings resolutions. Resolutions of all sorts…start this; stop that; continue this; resume that; yada-yada-yada……here it goes for me in the sports world…

…..I resolve to never stop trying to help the Cards! The Cardinals might want to start over in their search for an “Oz” replacement. I know we can’t find someone to replace that bright gold sleve, or jump the wall for flies that hit the warning track, or 3 bounce it into 2B..we’ll have to sacrifice that for the team… but…..how about free agent OF Corey Dickerson? He has several convincing numbers….last season …of all hitters with at least 200 batted balls , Dickerson was 3rd highest in “sweet spot” rate (he’s actually very close to Mike Trout in that stat!)…he’s one of 23 hitters to be an above-avg hitter by OPS+ standards for 6 straight seasons (Min-200 AB)…His .870 OPS against RHP since 2014 is tied with Giancarlo Stanton for 17th out of 108 hitters with 2000 AB; his numbers are strong against all types of pitching vs fastball(.293 avg, .512 slug%) breaking balls he holds (.286 avg, 506 slug); off speed (.270 avg; .486 slug). Defensively, Dickerson posted a +10 outs above average in 2018 (tied for 12th among 174 OF in the league). Resolution for Cards -sign him for 2 years.

…I resolve to keep quiet my question of….if Houston was sending signals by banging trash cans..were the other teams deaf? Thought it was Tuesday Trash Day? Thought it was normal? Come on….

…I resolve to push out of my mind..the thought that Lovie Smith looks like an African-American Santa.

…Resolution—remind me again NEVER again to watch any part of the bowl games with the names like Celebration Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Frisco Bowl, Fake Bowl, Bahamas Bowl, Camellia Bowl, Crappy Bowl— watching bits & pieces of those games drove me back out shopping last week!!

…I resolve to continue to make suggestions to improve professional sports events. Could the NHL consider reconfiguring the 60 min of hockey into four 15 minute periods with only ONE long breakand two one-minute breaks? Two long breaks is ONE too many. Who wants to sit in those cold ice rinks for TWO long breaks. Here’s a comparable….no one wants to watch Hamlet any more…not because it isn’t a classic Shakespearean play …NO, NO..it’s something else….it’s because it has 5 acts & 4 breaks…3 breaks too many J

….I resolve to continue being confused (most say that it’s a life-long trait)….Cleveland is considering “moving” their star Player, Francisco Lindor. Lindo isn’t a free agent until 2022 and he IS their best player. How do you trade your BEST player who is young and improve the team?

…I resolve to stop feeling empathy for Joe Maddon. He holds a strong MGR record of 1252-1068,.54%. He gets pushed out of Chicago after he leads them to their 1st World Series championship since 1908 in 2016. 3 years later, they decide to downgrade personnel and fire Maddon…. Immediately Maddon lands the managerial job in Angel Land where he’s going to have to deal with Mike Trout & Anthony Rendon in his every day lineup… TWO…if not the best players in MLB right now…very, very close to the BEST MLB’s players in 2020, 21 & 22. Joe–Bye-bye Pity……

…I resolve to ignore the “cheat sheets” the Cards OF seem to require. They can’t memorize defensive positions for 8 different batters?

…I resolve to follow Mizzou Mens Basketball closer in Jan/Feb. It seems that the SEC could actually be a race this year! Kentucky–has 3 losses already. Only Arkansas has less than 3 losses thus far this season, so the race seems wide open.  

…I resolve to keep harping on making MLB games faster….this week’s suggestion is to remove that Box that supposedly forms the strike zone. How can it? It’s only 2 dimensional while the actual strike zone is 3 dimensional. That “box” forms the umpires ratings and forms a small strike zone….ugh. Consistency…and hopefully.. a bit larger strike zone, without the box would benefit the players and fans (and the speed of the game)!

…I resolve to attempt to get Paul Goldschmidt to give us a hat wave after one of his important round trippers. Come on, Paul. I know it isn’t your nature…but that’s how we do it in the Lou.

…I resolve to keep admiring the work of Andy Reid while wishing that his work would have been on the other side of the State. If so….the Lou WOULD BE a football town. This year, Chiefs are—11-4, 2018-12-4, 2017- 10-6, 2016-12-4, 2015—11-5, 2014—9-7, 2013—11,5….2012…year before he arrived—2-14.

…I resolve to keep rooting for UMSL-Men’s Basketball (10-1) under Coach Bob Sunvold as they play Jan 2 @ home. The Tritons have all conference games remaining on their schedule.

…I have to resolve myself to the fact that the Blues are GOOD. The upgraded play of Justin Faulk, the exceptional speed of Jordan Kyrou, the incessant hard skating of Ryan O’Reilly, the magical puck handling of Robert Thomas along with the veteran stars-Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, David Perron, steadiness of Colton Parayko and TWO sharp keepers and a group of veteran players who’ve done it before….has to make one feel good about their play now….and later….in the Playoffs.

… I should resolve to keep closer tabs on the Wash U Men’s basketball team. As usual they are doing very well…they’re 9-1, ranked #10 in the Country.

…I resolve to put aside the idea that Urban Meyer will be the next Cowboy Coach. Jerry & Urban… together for more than 3 years….I doubt it

…I resolve not to whine about Wainwright in ’20. If we had anyone better, he’d be watching from the press box. Besides, it’s fun to see MLB hitters flail away at those slow curves.

..I resolve not to whine about Carpenter’s strikeouts, refusal to take outside pitch to LF, his defense @ 3b…..if that continues, I should be whining about the manager who plays him.

….I have to resolve that Lamar Jackson is NOW the most fun NFL QB in the league to watch…step aside Mr Brady…but slowly…you can’t move that fast any longer.

…I resolve to keep having a special enjoyment of football games played in bad weather. What beats a game in the snow? It’s terrific …all those game plans go down the toilet and ya gotta play street ball. It was/is so much fun that Texas Stadium, prior to Jerry’s palace, had a hole in the roof. At times, not often, you’d get the bad weather sneaking in and making the game much more exciting. Some Dallas Players (never known for humility) said that the hole was there so God could watch the games!!?!

…I resolve to try not to drink the Redbirds cool-aid in 2020. Some baseball experts…which definitely excludes me….propose that the Cards should NOT have make it as far as they did last year. Some say…they were the least bad team in a very mediocre division. The starting rotation was a Jekyl  Hyde look about it during many parts of 2019. On July 13th, the Cards were holding a .500 mark 45-45. A 12-2 surge in late August pushed aside the Central boys.  Remember also, the Cards backed into the division championship as they lost 4 of their last 5 games of the season. That More on their questions for 2020 later.

…I resolve to try to admire Cuonzo Martin’s team defense more sincerely…however his 15-21 SEC record in his first 2 years @ MU make admiration more fleeting than permanent

…I resolve to watch Carlos Martinez wiggle around about his role in 2020. Myself…he’d be my closer…he’s a 5 inning starter….we can easily find those type of guys…just signed one….Gwang-hyun Kim—31 year old southpaw. Kim does bring along versatility—can start, long relief, short relief.

…I resolve to wish All of you the Best of New Years. May 2020 bring the best to all….

Blue Santa by Bob Ryan

Santa was in a predicament…he had so many orders In StL for Blues shirts, jerseys, souvenirs, etc….he decided to have a special “run” just for St Louis and who better than Craig Berube to replace Santa on that “run” using a sled rented from Enterprise. Soooo, he made arrangements with Enterprise Reindeer Carriers and it was all set.

First of all some training was in order prior to the special StL Christmas delivery run. Berube was instructed that he may only use “stop”, “jump”, “deer”, and “fast” as his only 4-letter words while driving the sled—NO  others. He couldn’t drop off gifts and replace them 90 seconds later only to replace them again in another 90 seconds. Neither could he permit Fighting between his helpers –which was absolutely forbidden.  With those succinct instructions, dressed in Blue and with new set of reindeers named:  Jordan, Vladimir, Colton, Ryan, Jaden, Alexander, Ivan  and their leader, Alex.  Berube was ready to begin his historic “run” through the Lou….

….Blue Santa first delivered a clubhouse gift which was taken to Mgr Shildt’s office…a Cardinal hat about 2 sizes smaller than he wore last year (when we couldn’t ever see his face while wearing it)

 …Next Blue Santa delivered a simple set of “code breakers” for Yadi. Use a sign to indicate WHICH sign is the “Live one”.  The 1st sign doesn’t have to be the only sign given to pitchers…with or w/o runners.

…Delivering a book entitled “Contact for ALL” was delivered to the StL Cards batting coach after the Cards struck out 48 times in the 4 game series against Washington.

….a gift was delivered to the bullpen…a remake, of sorts, of Paul Anka’s 1956 hit, “Put Your (Head) Hand on My Shoulder” was delivered to Mike Maddux

…still in the Cards clubhouse, Blue Santa delivered the “Most Unappreciated 30 HR player” Award to Paul DeJong. Further DeJong played in 159 games….reliable SS are hard to find.

….Yet another gift in the Cards Clubhouse, Blue Santa next delivered a “resurgence” package to Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy had his lowest– batting average, # of walks, OBP, slugging percentage in the last 5 years in 2019. IN this case “resurgence” doesn’t mean that Santa was delivering drugs!!

…Santa flew quickly a few blocks to the Enterprise Center (home of the Blues & Bills). He delivered a Free Throw Shooting Manual and a guarantee of 10 free hours of shooting FT in the Chaifetz Arena to Hasahn French who’s 35.3 FT % (18 of 51) really is unacceptable at the collegiate level.

…while still @ the Chaifetz, Berube presented Coach Ford with…”Best 19-20 Game Yet” for the play against Auburn (9-0). Beating so-so & bad teams doesn’t compare to competing, albeit losing 67-61, against a team that is only one of five unbeaten teams at this point.

…on the other side of the Enterprise Center, Santa tried finding that big “S” that Jordan Bennington wore on his chest last year…..but….couldn’t find it..and had to move on

… Vladimir Tarasenko received the Superman Award for his unbelievable 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) for his high powered scoring in the 28 day span (Jan 23-Feb 19) that the Blues leaped from  a seemingly hopeless position to 1st place with a 11 game winning streak. In that stretch the Blues went 493 minutes and 42 seconds without trailing in any game!!

…Chris Gerber received the Prepcasts Sportsman of the Year Award for his willingness to share the biggest moments of his career on the microphone with Dan Kelly. He permitted Kelly to do all the 2nd periods of each of the  Stanley Cup Final round games.

…Blues also received the Award for the completely changing the mode of “Victory Parades” in the Lou. Despite their wobbly legs, slurred speech,  & maybe impaired vision, they hopped on & off the floats to greet fans, have pics with them, shook hands and seemed to truly enjoy with interaction with the fan while treasuring the moment. It REALLY changed the scope and approach of any future championship parades in the Lou

….Leaving the Enterprise Center, The “quickest Start” Award was snatched “on the fly” by new MU Coach Eliah Drinkwitz who…seemingly within hours… was visiting key prospects in the Lou for MU football.

….A “Gold Star” Award for Drew Lock…who now being given a chance in Denver…is showing poise, leadership, strong arm and “swag” as a professional….Congrats to him for his start!!

…Blue Santa didn’t know where to deliver the package marked “Bright Yellow Neon Shirt Sleeves” ….apparently for Marcel Ozuna…who I believe wore them either a) to be individualistic b) aggravate the Birds Brass c) maybe both. Marcel’s off-season work..or lack of it…along with a defense that kept all fans/mgmt on the edge of their seats….and an arm that seemed more suited to throwing horseshoes…not a professional MLB OF….doomed him at the Lou…btw…Marcel stopped wearing his “gold” look in early spring…by the time that “look”  returned in August….I think it was Ozuna sending a signal…not to subtle…to the Cards management…I’m not wearing YOUR color this year….or next year. However, $$$ does talk.

…Blue Santa, turned around and returned to Busch to deliver the “Amnesia Pills” which will be administered by the Cards to their entire 2019 post-season roster to wipe out any memories of the Washington NLCS series. Btw…all of the Cards bats from the Nats Series were sold as new bats….hadn’t been used…not much contact had been made vs Wash!

…While there, Berube quickly dropped off a surprise Gift @ Busch, the “New Face of the Franchise” Plaque will be awarded to Jack Flaherty. The award finally moves on after Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright have controlled it for the last 10+ years.

Suddenly….almost accidently……Blue Santa found a new, somewhat hidden button on the sled. It sent him into super, hypersonic-like speed around the world….so  Craig Berube … thought…. hey, what the heck….let’s make more sports guys happy…..

…the first stop was in Wrigley Field….there Blue Santa dropped off an “empty Cupboard”.. it was a true symbol of the 2020 Cubs roster.

….In Washington, Stephen Strasburg received Blue Santa’s next gift….it was an “Ol’ School” patch….since Strasburg had signed with his original team and it appears that he’ll spend his entire career there.

.…An “atta Boy” hurrah was delivered to Fayetteville, Arkansas for Barry Odom. Coach Odom gets a fresh start and one would think that all Mizzou fans wish him well.

…With that delivery, our Blue Santa flew off into the horizon.  If you know of any other Santa Gifts that were delivered or want to comment on these gifts….just send me an email, post on FB or send to Prepcasts. Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas!

I-I-I-I’m Not Your Stepping Stone by Bob Ryan

The popular song of the Monkees in the 60’s….I-I-I-I’m Not Your Stepping Stone has several applications in the sports world today.

…The Mizzou hire of Eliah Drinkwitz seems to be a terrific hire. He’s young, enthusiastic, looks like he’ll be a good recruiter and implements the “latest” in offensive approaches in the college game. But…Mizzou has to be careful…..will they be his stepping stone?

…Mizzou has struggled in the SEC…the average # of conference wins per season is 5.3 since their entry into the league. That places them 10th overall in the league. The familiar names of Alabama, Tennessee (many glorious years prior to the  70s), Georgia, Florida, LSU, Auburn dot the top the these rankings. Sooo….should Drinkwitz pile up some quick (3 or 4) seasons with 9+ wins, he’ll be a hot, real hot, commodity. I suspect, he’d use that Tiger resume to move onward & upward into a job that pays much more and receives much more attention. Mizzou would his stepping stone.

This really wouldn’t be anything new @ Columbia.  In reverse order….Odom 4 years, Pinkel(the exception in recent decades) – 15 years, Larry Smith-7 years, Bob Stull-5 years, Woody Windenhofer-4 years, Warren Powers-7 years, Al Onofrio-7 years. The acceleration of quicker “returns” expected from new coaches has slimmed that 6-7 year window down to 3-5 years currently. And…..on the other side….younger coaches (like Drinkwitz), currently don’t seem to want to hitch a sizeable part of their career (10+ years) to one school. It’s a delicate balance…..but don’t be surprised if Mizzou is in the “search” again in less than 5 years.

…While researching MU Football Coaches, Don Faurot’s name pops up. He led Mizzou into “the big time” of NCAA Football. He is credited with inventing the split-T formation. After piling up 63 wins in 9 seasons @ Kirksville State and owning a 25-0 record in the last 3 years, he inherited a program that had won 2 games total in 3 years and was badly in debt. He scheduled tough non-league opponents (to encourage fans to attend games to assist in retiring the debt—which he did) and expected his successor Dan Devine to do the same. But…to my surprise….I didn’t realize that Faurot was Head Coach 1935-42.. he  entered the military…after the war, he resumed his Head Coaching duties @ Columbia from 1946-1956. He then remained as Athletic Director and hired Dan Devine.

…Mizzou isn’t alone in this HC turnover…from a survey just a couple years ago, how many FBS schools in the last decade retained Head Football Coaches for 10 years? 14 Coaches….that’s about 11%. SEC schools average 2.5 coaches per a 10 year span according to this survey.

…btw…Mizzou was ranked as the 40th best HC College football position in the country, Drinkwitz comes from Appalacian State which was ranked #98 in the same article. Big Jump for him!!

….but use a team or school as a stepping stone isn’t unique to college football….the “one & done” policy in NCAA basketball has proliferated over the past few decades. It’s really a sham in my eyes…these young men know the rules…they attend classes in 1st semester to stay eligible, then they register but don’t bother much with attending classes in 2nd semester. Why should they?…their million dollar ticket is coming on NBA Draft Day in June. That approach isn’t new….it’s been going on for over 20 years. I’m hoping that this “D” league of the NBA will begin accepting these type of “one & done” players into their league to make the transition easier and better for these future NBA players.

…it’s not exactly “one & done” in the MLB but….after the initial 6 year requirement has been fulfilled, may MLB players use those years as their stepping stone to unbelievable long term, lucrative contracts. Often, it’s with a different team. The list is far too long ..at least for my taste…but recently….close to home—Albert (Cards to Angels), Bryce Harper (To Phils from Wash), Manny Machado (from O’s to SD), David Price (Rays to Boston),Prince Fielder (Brewers to Detroit)…those are just a few that the players used their original team as a stepping stone to the jump to theland of REAL monopoly money.

..seeing it as the final step in the stepping stone process, the Cards seem to be interested in acquiring a left handed hitting OF (namely Nomar Mazara) and/or a left handed starting pitcher. I was very surprised to learn that Mazara is just 24 years old despite having 4 complete years in the MLB. He already has 1,988 official AB. His lifetime average is .261, OPS of .754. The lineup is definitely right-handed heavy but….are we just swapping apples for apples…is he really a difference maker? Meanwhile, the LHP starters on the burner are -Bumgarner, Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Bumgarner hasn’t won even 10 games in any of the  last 3 seasons. Keuchel’s 2019 wasn’t impressive. He held a WHIP mark of 1.387 in 2019.Ryu’s numbers were far better than Bums or Keuchel last year. He did win 14 games, ERA-2.32, WHIP-1.007. I don’t have a clue on the money that it’d take to acquire him.. but the best stepping stone for us, from my view, is Ryu.

Outside our stepping stone world…

….maybe I’m just too much of an idealist but….some of these college football players are refusing to play bowl games because of the upcoming draft. This IS old school…but….he signed a contract…the school provides education, housing, medical care, stipends, tutors, etc and he provides his best efforts to compete for the school in all practices and games. Should there be a NCAA regulation that denies any/all of the above when he makes that declaration of skipping the bowl game for private reasons?

…on the other hand, its still very, very enjoyable for me to watch the Army-Navy game. Both teams giving their “ALL” each play, with lots of pomp & history surrounding the game, very, very few penalties, quick moving games (it’s all running plays). It’s clear that the players/coaches realize that football is just a part of their life….not their entire life.

Well…..this blog has been a bit shorter…it’s a stepping stone for me…it leads me directly into tree trimming (We do have a 10 foot tree!!). I’d love to hear your thoughts on any parts of this blog…or any other sports for that matter…post on FB, post on Prepcasts.com or email me.  Thanks!

Saban Loses Gamble by Bob Ryan

Nick Saban rarely loses these days….seldom loses games, rarely loses on this top recruits, usually procures the assistant coaches that he wants , gets most of everything that he wants from Alabama University….but he lost out on a big gamble this week.

….Saban had gambled on his 2019 schedule. It was soft…really soft…his selection of non-conference foes would be glossed over by fans, the press and most importantly the Selection Committee. The Cupcakes like New Mexico State with an anemic  0-9 record, Duke…this isn’t basketball..is 4-5 for the season!…and from the “powerful” Southern Conference, Western Carolina Catamount is 3-7. It was rated the 2nd easiest schedule in the SEC and 44th rated schedule  in the country.  He gambled that his feeble foes would be glossed over when he hung up an 12-0 regular season record…followed by an SEC Championship. He’d strut into the Championship Final Four…btw….this is the same approach taken by Clemson….enjoy the cupcakes for the season and waltz into the final four. He could count on it. The writers …and selection committee…from an outside perspective, they seemed awed by the NFL talent on the team, the legendary coach, the tradition of Bama football all the way back to Bear Bryant.

…while Saban realized that LSU would be a athletic foe but he’d always handled them…he’d beaten them 8 straight times through 2018. Why would it be different this year?

….On a side note….I’ve been clamoring all season to judge the college football rankings not strictly  on the number of wins, or the reputation, or the draft status of their stars…but who did they actually beat on the field?

…But…..these well designed plans fell apart on Saturday as Louisiana State University beat Alabama 46-41. LSU was NEVER behind in the game!  The Tigers led 33-13 at half. The 3rd quarter was rather tame offensively as Bama scored the only 7 points of the quarter..now trailed 33-20. The Crimson Tide sliced the margin to 39-34 with 4:35 remaining in the game. LSU came right back with a 7 play, 3:55  drive 75 yard drive to push it to 46-34 and scored with only 1:37 remaining in the game. Alabama struck right back, 16 seconds later with  a 75 yard TD pass but LSU hung on for the exciting win. LSU did outgain Bama 559-541,

Now…back to Saban’s gamble….how can any voter put Alabama in the top 4 based on their competition level, lack of a conference championship…or even an appearance in the SEC title game. Generally, teams don’t get “points” for losing to good teams.

….btw…according to the Steele report, the “toughness” of the SEC football schedules in the country is as follows:  Below are Phil Steele’s rankings of schedule for SEC teams:  1. South Carolina  2. Auburn  4. Texas A&M   6. LSU    7. Tennessee      10. Florida     13. Georgia     18. Vanderbilt 19. Mississippi State    21. Ole Miss     32. Arkansas    41. Missouri   44. Alabama  51. Kentucky.  Yes, he thinks Mizzou’s schedule with SEMO, Troy, & W.Virgina( 3-6) record is BETTER than Alabama’s!

Sooooo….who would YOU have in your Top 4 NCAA-F teams?  I’d have 9-0  LSU @ #1 with wins over these ranked teams: Alabama, Texas, Auburn and Florida, They have Ole Miss, Arkansas & Texas A&M left on their schedule. #2 Ohio State…has really been rolling over teams early in games..only “big” win is over Wisconsin #3 Clemson 10-0…only “good” win is over Texas A&M…..it appears that These Tigers follow the same script as Alabama with the “Charmin” type schedule  #4 Oregon(8-1)—only loss was in week 1 against Auburn with good win over Washington. On the cusp: Georgia (wins over Notre Dame, Florida) with Auburn & Texas A&M coming up next…wins over both these good teams could push them into the TOP 4. Minnesota 9-0 had a very easy first 4 weeks with narrow wins in some cases but has been dramatically improved over the last 5 weeks….continuation of this type of play providing them with “good” wins could make them a factor.

…Mizzou seems to have lost their gamble this fall. The Tigers thought that Kelly Bryant was going to be the difference maker for them this season and push them to the top. He led Mizzou to wins in the W. Virginia, SEMO, South Carolina, Troy and Mississippi.  He had poor passing days against Kentucky (130 yards) and Vanderbilt (140) yards. He had 23% of his total passing yards (423) for the season in a losing effort against Wyoming. At this point, it looks like one of those mid-December bowls will be the Tigers ticket this year.

….Cards gamble very little…but they customarily sign at least 1 free agent who they can promote in the off season…who’s In their Free agent headlights this winter?   How about 1 of the following pitchers as my guess– Madison Baumgarner, Sonny Gray, Julio Tehran, Kyle Gibson. I don’t see Cards signing any every-day field player this winter.

….the Nearly Forgotten League continues to gamble with their fans…..insulting St. Louis on the way out, completely shut the door from any NFL team meeting success…or relocation… here again. Now San Diego Chargers ’s ownership doesn’t seem to like Stan’s terms and way of handling the “new” stadium in LA. They are looking around but…being told by Jerry Jones to “stop and like it”….this is going to be your home stadium. I’m sure that the Chargers fans are just thrilled with this on again-off again deal. It’s always been a challenge to draw well in LA unless you have a championship type team…..doesn’t look like that’s happening!

….the Blues finally pulled the trigger…Robby Fabbri just didn’t fit into the “new” heavy checking style. He sat out often during Berube’s tenure. So the was traded to Detroit for a Jacob De La Rose. A player who it seems to fit into this heavy checking mode. I expect Fabbri will score some goals for the Red Wings ( I think he has 3 already) but it really wasn’t a gamble from my eyes…he just didn’t fit here.

…Is this a gamble or what? from what I read from the Cardinals Propaganda sheet…. oops…their on-line site….the Cards are hoping…and working…on Matt Carpenter returning to the production level of 2 or 3 years ago. I guess…it is only natural to hope… since you can’t dump the guy to anyone with that enormous salary.

…maybe my eyes were tricking me….but…every time I attended a Cardinal game last year and saw the “announced” attendance figure it surprised me! I’d look @ all the empty seats and hear 40,000+. I realized that it’s paid attendance not actual attendance but are the Cards gambling that those announced figures will boost their corporate sales to advertising in Busch. ..btw…some regular fans ALREADY think that Busch is overloaded with advertising on walls, screens, boards, seats, press boxes, across the street, on every hand-out, vendors, concession stands, yada-yada-yada.

…no more gambling for me, I’m done…..thx for reaching the bottom…..your thoughts are ALWAYS invited…agree or disagree…any part…

Nationals Time by Bob Ryan

From an ancient proverb comes  these words….”There is a time to be born, and a time to die;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away… well, it certainly was the Nationals time to “get”…..they overcame many obstacles…many deficits…severe odds….with some familiar names…some on the way up….some already there….and some sliding down the downside of their career. Some of the remarkable parts of this exciting World Series….  

…..the Nationals repeatedly overcame deficits… They overcame a two-run, eighth-inning deficit to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card game. Erased a 3-1, 8th-inning deficit in Game 5 of the NL Division Series with home runs from budding stars–Rendon and Soto – before Howie Kendrick finished off the highly favored, 106-win,  LA Dodgers with a grand slam. The “destiny” Nats kept it up… Washington overcame a 2-0 deficit to win Game 1 in Houston. They scored six 7th-inning runs to break open a tie Game 2. Then,  in a must-win Game 6, trailed 2-1 after 4 innings before scoring 6 times in the final five innings to force Wednesday’s Game 7.  Game 7 itself, trailing 2-0 to a seemingly invincible Zach Greineke…suddenly Rondon’s HR….another runner….and Greineke was removed (too quick for my taste…you pay him $34m to be in the game at crunch time)…and Kendricks’ 2 run HR off of a good pitch that he took the other way….and it tailed into the Foul Pole screen …the Nats led instantly, Washington was on top…never to slip… for the remainder of game 7.

…The Astros held Washington to just 1 run in each of the 3 games in Washington. This was the first time that the visiting team…during the middle 3 games of the Series, allowed 1 run or fewer in all three contests

….Game 7 of the World Series was the 210th game this year for the Astros, including 30 exhibition games during the spring, the 162-game regular season and 18 postseason games. Washington played 208 games,  29 in the spring and 17 games in postseason.

…the time already seems to have passed for the Nats…Rondon has become a free agent, Strasburg opts out of his $100m/4 yr contract,  Ryan Zimmermann’s option wasn’t picked up; Matt Adams released….ahhh…the short time of celebrating the championship

…Some Players performed far above normal expectations in the Series….

….Stephen Strasburg, whos 8 2/3 innings win of game Game 6 forced game 7 is the FIRST OVERALL #1 pick of the draft to win a World Series MVP with a team that drafted him. Strasburg had also won game 2 and completed the entire post-season with a shining 5-0 record and a dazzling 1.96 ERA.

…Gerrit Cole was totally dominating…and pushed his Free Agency value skyward like a rocket takeoff…Cole stands in rarified air in terms of dominance. Sunday marked his fourth start this October with at least seven innings, seven strikeouts and one or fewer runs allowed — the second most in a single postseason behind Curt Schilling’s five such outings in 2001….then Cole piled up an 8-0 record .. Including his 2 road starts in the postseason, with a 0.89 ERA (a scant 6 earned runs across 61 innings) over his past nine starts away from Minute Maid Park. Cole’s strikeouts totals were eye-popping ! He struck out 9 Nationals on Sunday, raising his total in this postseason to 47. That’s tied with Randy Johnson (2001), Josh Beckett (’03) and Cliff Lee (’10) for the second-most strikeouts in a single postseason, trailing only Curt Schilling’s 56 for the D-backs in ’01. Further, Cole’s strikeout of Adam Eaton in the fourth inning marked his 368th strikeout of 2019, passing Nolan Ryan in 1974 for the 5th-highest single-year total (regular and postseason combined) in modern history. Johnson holds the all-time mark with 419 K’s in 2001. Despite these incredible numbers, Cole’s post-game remark after being asked for his thoughts on the game, “I’m not an employee of the team” any longer seemed bitter about his treatment and anxious to jump into FA waters. Now, in reflection, “I was upset, and my tone did not come off quite the way I wanted it to,” Cole told the Houston Chronicle. “One win away. We had the lead with eight outs to go. It’s just a tough pill to swallow.” It DOES have to be tough…immediately after losing the WS…that writers are right in your face with personal, tough questions…it seems we all’d talk before we think. But, in a short time….he’s gone from Houston.

But, there were “other” times for athletes this week…

…Already, the Cardinals time is being spent promoting their top prospect…Dylan Carlson. He just turned 21 in October…this switch hitter batted .281 @ Springfield (AA) and .361 @ Memphis (AAA). We fans have been down this trail previously…remember Alex Reyes’ was 4-1 in late 2016…he was going to be our next “ace”….well…now the forecast on him by Baseball Reference for 2020 is a 2-2 record….prospects are just prospects until they actually DO IT in the MLB.

…Maybe, it is Mike Matheny’s time?  He was hired as KC manager. During this Cardinal “time”, I felt he wasn’t prepared to be a MLB manager since he had absolutely NO experience as  a manager other than coaching High School. Now….he does…6.5 years. His remarks sounded like he’d grown…”I must communicate better”, “I must listen better”, yada-yada-yada. But.. WILL he improve on his teaching of running the bases, of handling the bullpen (no more Seth Maness acts) or of Fielding…3 woeful areas during his tenure.  Now….all that being said….basically, there are 2 types of managers hired…. those hired to compete for the title…and those hired to “baby-sit” the doormats. 

…Too much time on hill? Will Harris (Astros reliever) who couldn’t wrap the game up for Houston was probably overused. That appearance was his 80th of the 2019 season & post season…and he was coming on back-back days. I would say that the “time” of any 34 year old pitcher performing with that much work under his belt for the season and so little rest would face steep odds of succeeding

Then….there are some that the time just isn’t right!

…The Detroit Tigers “time” just wasn’t right. They had the pitchers…but not at the right time. Look at their 2014 Starting rotation—Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, David Price, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.  What’s happened to those guys…Justin Verlander – 2017 World Series champ; Rick Porcello – 2018 WS champ; David Price- 2018 WS champ; Max Scherzer – 2019 WS champ; Anibal Sanchez – 2019 World Series champ

…it is time for MSHSAA to look @ the HS playoff system for Missouri. The first 9 weeks of the season are used to seed district teams. That part seems solid. However, why let all 8 teams get into the STATE tournament level. I’d like to see only the top 4 teams of each district advance into the MO HS playoff system. Football is the most difficult sport…in my opinion…to upset another team. As it is now, 1 plays 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v5 in week  10 of the season, which is week 1 of District play.  Soooo….I’m suggesting to let the #5 team play #6 and #7 v #8 for their 10th game of the year (those games would be competitive) while #1-4 seeded teams compete in District(which is the first level of the STATE tournament)….  Currently, the sad, horribly one-sided scores this weekend doesn’t make the losers …or the winners…  happy. I mean…how many football teams seeded 5, 6, 7, or 8 EVER made it to the STATE Championship game anyway? Further, it’d shorten the season by a game so the season wouldn’t have to start around the brutally hot days of Aug 20ish.

…Sooo. ..it seems…in time, some things do run in cycles …

Urban Meyer’s career looks as if it’ll be resurrected again. After coaching 10 straight years with the final 6 years @ Florida…Meyer resigned due to migraines after 2010 season. A year later, he returned to take the Ohio state position. He coached there 7 years, went 83-9 then.. again, resigned due to health reasons… Well…after 1 year, the coaching bug must have bitten him again… rumors are circulating again about another return. Could it be ND or USC?

…well….my time is up….hopefully, you’ll respond, to any part of the blog…in time    

The Golden Age by Bob Ryan

The Golden Age could apply to many parts of history…the Romans, Greeks, Middle Ages, etc….it also applies to the sports world…

…the golden age of each World Series dominates the sports cycle for 10 days-2 week period. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, while many expected Houston to out-hit the Nationals, the Astros have only permitted 9 runs in 4 games. The 4th game seemed like the key…..either Washington could balance the series at 2-2 or Houston would take a strong 3-1 lead.  Jose Altuve blasted yet another HR in the 1st inning to put the Astros up 2-0. Altuve is clearly living up to his “superstar” status in this post-season. Other random notes on players…Nats’ Trea Turner is a terrific shortstop….He  blasted 19 HR, held a .298 average, stole 35 bases, and is a very good shortstop defensively. Antony Rendon will be driving the Brink’s Truck this winter as he signs a mega-deal with some team. The 29 year old has an OPS of over .900 for 3 straight yeasr. Apparently, Houston’s 25 year old Alex Bregman is the unofficial batting coach of the Astros. His astute observations are shared with all in the dugout. He backs it up with OPS averages in the last 3 years of 1.019, .926, .827. Will Harris, a middle reliever, entered the 4th game in a tight spot for Houston and the momentum ready to swing back to Washington. He got the key out, ended the inning and snuffed out the smell of a rally. He had 26 holds this season.  In 5 years with the Astros, he has 104 holds! Final thoughts…..the games are…in my opinion….way too long…..I watched an hour of game 3 and saw 2 innings…period.  Ugh!! Between half innings must be 3 minutes…put those ads on the screen between batters…. more people would see them anyway.

…some say the Golden Age of MLB drafting was the 2011 Draft. Part of that star-studded class was the Astros George Springer, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon who all were all 1st rounders. Others selected were Javier Baez, Trea Turner, the late Jose Fernandez, Mookie Betts, Trevor Bauer,and Francisco Lindor. That’s quite a team right there!

….the Golden Age of Baseball, or sometimes called the Baseball’s Golden Era began around 1920 to app. 1960. The Golden era of baseball links the Dead Ball era with the Modern Era of baseball. During this time the 1st baseball game was broadcast in color in 1951. By the mid, 1960’s all baseball games were in color. The Golden Age included super stars like  Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Greenberg, Rogers Hornsby and especially Babe Ruth. Ruth was an iconic figure who’s popularity mushroomed the size of interest in the MLB. Also, during the Golden Era-specifically 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color line and led to the growth of the sport. Some of the Modern Era stars began their careers in the Golden Era. Players like Bob Gibson, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks were some of the prime examples of this nature.

…The Nats thought that Bryce Harper would lead them to the Golden Age of baseball—the World Series. Doesn’t one have to wonder if the departure of Harper this season was a major reason for the success of the Nationals THIS year.  I guess they got tired of trying to make the door way wider so that Harper could get his big head…..and salary…. through the door J

….in college football, the SEC is living in the Golden age currently. As one looks at the Head Coaches, it’s very surprising to me that 7 of the 14 Head coaches..exactly ½… are in their 1st Head Coaching College Position.  Barry Odum (Mizzou), Matt Luke(Mississippi), Jeremy Pruitt(Tennessee), Derek Mason (Vanderbilt), Ed Orgeron(LSU) ,Mark Stoops(Kentucky), Kirby Smart(Georgia). Now, Orgeron and Stoops have built up long careers coaching college football. Orgeron has been coaching college football for 36 years—but mostly just as a defensive line coach. Stoops has been in the business 29 years, with 9 years as a defensive coordinator.  Kirby Smart’s 20 year coaching resume includes 3 different stints …total 11 years…with Nick Saban.  Saban…btw…is in his 47th year of coaching college or pro football. To expect a 1st year head coach to compete successfully in a league with so much pressure is probably unrealistic, unless they have tons of experience. So…..is it any surprise that the other 4 first-time coaches are all experiencing difficulties? Why would schools hire the most important position on the athletic staff who have NEVER been a Head Coach previously?

…Speaking of coaches, CBC soccer has been in the Golden Age for 49 years now under the leadership of Terry Michler.  Coach “Micks” recorded his 1000th victory recently. He’s the winningest high school boys soccer coach in the nation. Think about it…..almost 50 straight years of 20  wins are needed to nail down that 1000 win bullseye.  Coach attended CBC as a student and was a star athlete as he was the starting QB in football in the fall and obviously….starred in soccer in the winter…..yes….for you younger readers, MO played boys soccer in the winter until the late 1970’s. For years he held some of the passing records @ CBC until the run & shoot offense evolved.  He graduated from Rockhurst University in 4 years. He turned down an opportunity to coach @ CBC upon graduation so that he could play professional soccer. Terry went on to play professional soccer in the days when the newly formed American league REQUIRED 2 Americans to be on the team. As I recall…there were 16 American born players in the league, Coach was one of them. Two years later, the CBC opened up again…this time, Coach accepted the offer. He moved back to CBC …and the golden age began. He has taken several trips to Holland to stay current in the “latest” soccer approaches and strategies. His current record is 1000-283-117. Congratulations to our friend for his skill, quest to keep improving, teaching skills and love of the game! …College Football is golden in many ways. It has the Golden Gophers (Minnesota), Golden Eagles (So. Mississippi), Golden Hurricanes (Tulsa), Golden Panthers(Florida International), Golden Knights (Cen Florida), and of course the Golden Dome @ Notre Dame J

….In the College Football mode….it was a Golden week of games…surprises galore! …I was really surprised that #19 Michigan manhandled #8 Notre Dame 45-14. The Wolverines dominated the line play and pounded ND’s defense all day with a fierce running game inside the tackles. Michigan’s Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, needed the win badly to hold onto any claim of being a national power. His Michigan team had only beaten 1 top 10 ranked team in 11 games prior to Saturday….I was shocked as I scanned around the multitude of NCAA-F games on TV on Saturday afternoon, early in the game, to see K-State ahead of Oklahoma. The Wildcat crowd was extremely enthusiastic and their energy carried over to the players. The final of K-State 48, OU 41 was shocking! It wasn’t surprising to see OU with 41 points but for K-State to put 48 on the board was incredible. Offensively, K-State was as balanced as can be…213 rushing and 213 passing. On Defense, K-State sometimes rushed only 3 players on many downs, hoping to “cover and take away the quick score.  As I watched Mizzou, the QB’s in the “shotgun” formation on running much more often on the college level. Kentucky’s QB wasn’t a good passer, so MU went man-man coverage on passing. Using the others to rush the passer….it often worked…but on occasion, when the Kentucky QB broke through the initial wave of players, usually on a QB counter run play…it was a huge gain. Mizzou’s loss hurt.

…Love to read YOUR thoughts on any of these topics….send them to me via email (rjryansr@charter.net), on FB (Bob Ryan), or respond on Prepcasts (www.Prepcasts.com)