Lose Appeal … pay the price by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Eyes of the Cards by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….Outside the Cardinal baseball world….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about ’18 Cards by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some basketball thoughts…..

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

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

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

Odds & Ends…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On-Off-Back from sports injuries by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other odds & ends

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

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

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

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

 

Sunny Side Up by Bob Ryan

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

Not Dunkirk but DONEkirk by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Up in the Air by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

                 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odds & Ends…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sports Dynasties & Cards Starters by Bob Ryan

Another Super Bowl is behind us now….what a game…..it was entertaining throughout the game….the 41-33 win by the Eagles broke most team offensive records…..most of you watched it so no need to recap…just a couple odds & ends…

…..Eagles Coach Doug Pederson stayed aggressive throughout the entire game…he didn’t change in the 2nd half…

….Nick Foles lived up to his “history”…if he gets off to a good start in a game….he’ll have much more confidence and accuracy throughout the entire game…if he starts poorly…he plays like a #2 QB

….personally with 2:03 left in the game & the Pats loading the line….I think some type of quick play action was the call for the Eagles…if it was incomplete…it was the 2 minute warning anyway… a completion ends the game….they won anyway sooo…..

…it seemed to me that the officials didn’t throw as many flags …especially on pass plays….it gave the game a better pace

…required data:  favorite commercial– Sprint commercial using artificial intelligence

…. A quick burst about Super Bowl History….

… no team has ever won more than 2 consecutive Super Bowls….and in fact….only 2 teams have been in more than 2 straight Supers….Miami was in 3 straight Supers but lost the first one followed by two championships—72-73,74 under Coach Don Shula… and of course the Buffalo Bills by Marv Levy were in 4 straight Super Bowls….losing all 4 of them –1991-94

….Jacksonville was hoping to get into their 1st Super  Bowl this year

….. it’s been a long time between drinks of the Super Bowl water for the NY Jets—Super Bowl III, 1968…was their last … and only appearance… with Joe Namath as QB

….the KC Chiefs were in 2 very early Super Bowls 1966 & 1969 but it’s been a long, long  time since they were there.

….to no one’s surprise …the New England Patriots have played in the most Super Bowls—10…they are the closest NFL team to a dynasty.

But what about the dynasties in other professional sports….

Baseball…..the Yankees have assembled some terrific runs over many different eras….getting into the series and winning many of them…first long run was world series championships in 1936,37,38.39 followed closely by another win in 1941, loss in 42 and a championship in 1943. Starting again with titles in 1947, 1949,50,51,52,53 a Series loss in 1955, won again 56, lost in 1957 …that’s 13 titles in 21 years + 3 World Series losses in that same time frame! Yanks appeared in Five consecutive World Series  1960-64—winning 2 while losing 3 of them …one to the Cards. Another NYY “ 6 years series run” began in 1996-2001-winning four of the 6 World Series. Total of 27 World Series Championships, and 40 World Series appearances for the Pin-strippers.

Basketball….the dynasty title goes to the Boston Celtics….Under Coach Red Auerach the Celts won EIGHT straight title (1958-66)…they won 9 of 10  …winning it in 1956 ….the STL Hawks won title in 1957-58 ….and the Celts won 11 of 13 years as they won again in 1968 and 1969. Auerbach was able to “rebuild” his team and make the transition from Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, Tom Heinsohn to  Bill Russel, Sam Jones, KC Jones, John Havlichek, Don Nelson. …Since Free agency, the most any team can put together is 3 straight years…Michael & the Bulls & LA Lakers

Hockey…the team with a few different strings to titles belongs to the Montreal Canadians….the “habs” won five consecutive Stanley cups 1956, 57, 58, 59 ,60 then won 4 of 5 titles from 65-69, They notched more titles in 1971 & 1973 followed by another 4 year run from 1976-79. The last time that a team won two straight titles was the Detroit Red Wings  in 1997 & 98.

….things are looking up in local collegiate basketball front….

…Mizzou’s 15-8 record should start to raise some attention across the country. The win over Kentucky… unthinkable over the last 3 years….was a major step forward in gaining recognition.  Mizzou defends and keeps the ball out of the paint very well….still the late-game ball handling skills still elude them and have cost them some losses. They are playing hard and Coach Martin rides them hard…..btw….ya wonder if Martin’s message wears out….in his 3 coaching stops of his career (MO State, Tennessee and Cal)—each stop lasted exactly 3 years…on a different point….the loss of yet another athlete @ Mizzou due to sexual issues is disappointing…. and I’m sure frustrating… to the staff and fans of the Tigers…but…for now… let’s keep the Kentucky win in mind for now.

…SLU (12-11) ….on Saturday, the Bills faced the last place team(Fordham)…clearly the Bills came out right in tune (which is more than I can say for the group of men singing the National Anthem)…they looked like …and played like… the better team. SLU took charge early by going inside to the post, using a 1-3-1 zone again and being more athletic ….they’ve won 5 of the last 6…and the loss was a 1 pt OT loss to VCU… Bills are 6-5 in the A-10 with one cupcake (LaSalle)  remaining on the schedule and with all of the other remaining games seeming  like winnable games….no I’m not projecting ALL wins…. but we could have an NIT team here… a 17-18 win season looks seems very plausible to me.

As spring training begins…. concerns about the Cardinals starting rotation still remain… Here’s a detailed look at the prospective starting rotation

…Carlos Martinez….unquestionable considered the ace of the staff…looking at 2017.. 12-11, 3.64, 20 of his 32 starts were considered “quality” starts…a stat devised by the agents to make their starts appear to be better than one might consider…..3 or less runs in 6 innings…Carlos was removed immediately after 6 innings or during the 6th inning in 19 of this 32 starts…his only start less than 5 innings was his last start.. Carlos was removed right after the 5th inning or in the 5th inning on 7 occasions….on these 5-inn outings his pitch count 100, 101, 102, 80, 101, 80, 118, 89 but the Cards were losing so he was removed. He had 3 complete games….high for 2017 standards and two 8 inning games.  Carlos had a good opening day outing against Cubs but the rest of April was rather weak….he’s  a better pitcher statistically than I had thought in the past. I would keep trying to push him upwards in his pitch count..he’s 26 years old…in the absolute prime of his career…..l’d shoot for 7 & 8 innings as often as possible for two reasons…he is your BEST….why not have your best pitcher on the mound instead of your 2nd/3rd or 4th best relief hurler?  Leave him in longer..let him “work his way out” of jams. He averages 15.3 pitches per inning….get that extra out of your BEST.

…Michael Wacha’s norm was 5-6 innings …he went longer than 6 innings only 3x…he was removed in less than 5 innings  EIGHT times….he requires more rest between starts….he went 6 innings in his first 4 appearances of April 2017….than he went 6 innings only FIVE other times throughout the May, June, July and August!!…It’s clear that he lost some stuff as the season unfolded.  His 4.1 ERA is deceiving… Wacha threw a 9 inning shutout….if you remove that one outing, his ERA is 4.73..so what we saw routinely was a pitcher giving up 2 or 3 runs in 5 innings and then he was gone…draining the bullpen for 4 innings in the vast majority of his outings…..btw…his 9 inning shutout came after a 11 day break  (All-Star) …so his arm was fresh….why not…either….give him  5+ days of rest every start OR…use him as your bridge man….come in relief every 2-3 days for 2-3 innings….that would take off some of the pressure…and innings …from the bullpen

…Adam Wainwright..clearly in the twilight of his career…..seems to have a terrific personality and work ethic but….he is 36 years old….last year’s win total of 12 is VERY misleading…his ERA ballooned to 5.11, he game up 140 hits in 123 innings, he had 2 really good outing in May and 2 good ones in June.. but he made it past 6  full innings just 4x…was removed from the game in less than 5 innings 6x….so …generally he’s a 5 inning (6x) or 6 inning (5x) pitcher. If he was the ONLY pitcher on the staff holding  such a short outing expectations…it might be OK….but he isn’t… much of what I said about Wacha applies to Wainwright..more rest, consider long relief….he’s not a strong, reliable starter any longer. If…..if the Cards do have Wacha & Wainwright in starting rotation…I would have one of them before Martinez and one after Martinez (who should be going deeper in games)

..Luke Weaver….his 2017 stats startled me at 1st glance….7-2, 3.88 era, sparkling 72 strikeouts to 17 walks, batting average against him just .254, he’s only 24 years old….his 2017 numbers were far better than in 2016….so those are all GOOD signs….let’s hope that he keeps improving…and the Cards will require that of him with the 2-W’s going about 5 innings each of their starts…his 1st start of the season for the Cards was July 27..3 of his 4 starts in August were good, his first 4 starts in September were also strong but in the last 2 starts he performed poorly….was he worn out?  Word got around on him? More tape on him? Maybe it was because the competition was 2 strong teams (Cubs & Brewers)…at any rate…that’s a bit worrisome to me..but not a huge negative when you consider his significant step upwards from 2016 to 2017….he looked bigger, stronger and a better fast ball…he did go from 1 win to 7 wins….let’s hope…anticipate… a full season will bring 12-15 wins.

..Miles Mikolas…who knows?   His 1st stint in MLB was good enough to earn him a trip to Japan to play ball…I’m assuming …since he did lots of relief work in his career…that he’ll be another 5-6 inning  pitcher at best.

…Jack Flaherty….I’m not nearly as high on this “prospect” as the Cards….he seemed to get through the batting order once and then the bats began booming against him….in 5 starts his stats don’t dazzle you… 0-2, 21 inn, 23 hits,  ERA-6.33, whip 1.5

…Alex Reyes…coming up by Mid-May….this could be the game changer…I’m hoping that the Cards will consider my 6 man rotation …especially for him….I think that he’ll be the #2 man in the rotation if given the proper rest between starts.

….pitcher ???…..he’ll come to the Cards in June sometime to bolster the starting rotation…maybe through a trade or maybe another “prospect”

What’s going on in the MLB Free Agent market these days?

….I’m thinking that once the two top players sign … Yu Darvish (Pitcher) &  JD Martinez (OF) sign …at top-dollar prices…resulting in the rising value of ALL of the other free agents sign…we’ll see more action…the other top starting pitchers include Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb.  Dropping significantly in the field players level after Martinez is the level of Eric Hosmer, & Mike Moustakas. I think a couple of the teams that have improved themselves are…

…LA Angels….they signed the TOP free agent….at least according to the experts… Shohei Ohtani (23 ). Ohtani is a pitcher/player and only 23 years of age….the Halos also signed a SS –Zach Cosart. Cosart has been a Cincy Red for 6 years…a regular for 5 years…he’ll probably move to 3B with the Angels . So LAA will have a much sharper fielding infield of Cosart, Andrelton Simmons-SS, IanKinsler (just obtained from Detroit) & CJ Cron @ 1B…Albert will be DH extradonair.

….Milwaukee has been active this winter…they’ve changed the composition of the OF with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain joining them….that frees up Steve Braun…haven’t they been trying to dump him for 3 years now?…also available now is OF Domingo Santana ….30 dingers last year…but he can’t catch a cold running around nude in Minnesota these days….looks like he’s headed to the AL as a DH for a starting pitcher…Corey Knebel was outstanding as closer last year…Brewers anticipate that he’ll repeat….I’m not so sure…..LHP Josh Hader is a terrific talent who’s been brought along slowly last year as a middle reliever with limited innings…he’s only 23 years old, struck out 68 in 47 innings, ERA of 2.08 and WHIP of 0.99….HE could be the next major move…as he goes from pen into starting rotation

…Rockies went “all in” for bullpen help…..the resigning of Jake McGee with the addition of Wade Davis, and Bryan Shaw …that means that any of these guys could close in a night…a bit of extra rest should be available since there are 3 of them now in the same bullpen and that should extend their effectiveness deeper into the season.

…Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood to replace Lackey in rotation….His  stats don’t look like much…..

8-15, 4.69 era, 147 inn, 136 hits, bat avg against him .250, 120 strikouts, 77 walks but consider he was on the Rockies…half of his game at Coors field….note the difference…

@ Coors Field—   3-8,   6.01 era, 70 inn, 81 hits,    58 K’s, 37 walks

Away from Coors 5-7,   2.40 era, 75 inn, 55 hits,    62 k’s, 39 walks

I think that the Cubs hit .500 in the bullpen with their signings…Steve Chishek should be very helpful while I feel like the 33 year old Brandon Morrow’s arm will fall off about June after all of those post-season  appearances last year….he pitched in 14 of the Dodgers 15 post-season games….ouch!

….Phillies….yes…the doormat Phillies …made some moves that may give them a push upward…the Phils aren’t going to the Series …or even the playoffs …but they should improve substantially over last year’s 66 wins….they signed veteran 1B Carlos Santana…so they’ll have their hot-hitting rookie from last year Rhys Hoskins (OPS 1.014 in 170 AB) in left field. They supplemented their bullpen by the addition of Tommy Hunter (a 2-3  inning guy ) and Pat Neshek (closer)….the young, strong-armed starting staff of  Aaron Nola (3.54 era, 184 strikeouts in 168 inng0 with 17 of 27 starts being deemed ‘quality starts”.  After Nola  the numbers of these young pitchers aren’t as strong…Jared Eickhoff, Vince Valasquez, Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta. Don’t be surprised if a Free agent starter signs with the Phils.

Outside the baseball world…some incredible off the field/court happenings…

…..ya think Arkansas got left holding the bag?….unable to even wait until he made it off the field, Ark Football coach was fired while walking off after losing to Mizzou…..well…..according to his contract … he’s also walking off a $11.9m buyout…he’ll be paid through Dec 31, 2020 unless he accepts another job..those earnings would offset the buyout…if he doesn’t …it’s $322,567 per month…man…where do I get that kind of job? 

….how ironical…..pot calling the kettle black….John Calipari was heard whining recently when he acknowledged that Coach K is having a banner signing season….Duke has commitments for the #1, #2, #3 and #10 top rated High school players in America!  Coach Cal mocked Coack K’s pitch of, “when you come to Duke, the university and state will take care of you for the rest of your life….Coach Calicheat…oops…Cal…said that if you buy that pitch…he has” some swamp land in Florida that he could sell you, too”…I really feel for Coach Cal’s plight….yea…right.

…on the HS basketball scene..

….The #2 ranked small school Boys basketball team, Alton-Marquette, has quietly pushed their record to 24-0 after their closest win of the season…a 50-48 win over McCluer North. Leading scorer, Isaiah Ervin scored 31 points, including five 3-point baskets as the Explorers came from behind to beat the North Stars. For Head Coach Steve Medford and his team, it was only the 2nd close game of the year. Back on Dec 1, Marquette beat Nokomis 39-36. The Explorers  have won 6 games by more than 40 points, 2 games between 30-39 point margins and 5 games by 20-29 points range! They have 4 more regular season games prior to regional action.  

….on the Girls Side of the court…O’Fallon HS holds a 22-3 record under 1st year Coach Nick Knolhoff. The 23-3 Panthers have won the Mascoutah and Highland Tournaments.   Sr. Sydney Thurwalker leads this balanced scoring team with a 12.2 average. Also in double figures is Sr. Izzy Akoro..right at 10.0 The Panthers are looking to avenge an earlier season loss in their rematch with Edwardsville on Tuesday night.

HOF — In, Out, Changes by Bob Ryan

So last week, the Baseball  Hall of Fame in Cooperstown voted in 4 new members. Without question all of the foursome are well qualified– Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman .. It’s only the 2nd time since 1955 that a foursome are entering the HOF. Each one had his own case…take a look  at some of these stats on these players that we all recall watching….

Chipper….drafted in 1st round by the Atlanta Braves in 1990….played ENTIRE career for the Braves … you won’t  see that much any longer….played in 21 different post-season series….so we all saw a lot of him on the tube…voted into HOF on 1st year of eligibility…in 8 All-Star games…became a regular at age 23…played until he was 40 years old.. batted a career …19 seasons….OPS of .930 batting avg .303 with 468 dingers…didn’t realize that he piled up 150 stolen bases…will be remembered for his all-around skill as a hitter & fielder

Jim Thome…an ol’ fashioned power hitter…also his 1st year on the HOF ballot..banged out 612 HR in 2543 games…that’s  8th on the MLB HR list… he’s between Albert & Sammy Sosa….also it’s a HR every 4.1 games!!  Thome played in 17 post-season series with most of his best years @ Cleveland. His 22 year  career OPS was .956…18th in MLB history!

Vlad….I really enjoyed watching him hit….great bat speed…swing at almost anything between the ankles and throat…but hit he did..he played 16 seasons…first 9 years with Montreal..lifetime average of .318…only hit below .300 three time…his 1st year, last year & 1 other year…OPS of .931…34th all time MLB history…was the AL MVP once…didn’t reach the world series until he was 35 years old with Texas…I didn’t even remember him playing for Texas.

Hoffman….probably 1st of several closers of the “modern” (after 1990)…was voted into the HOF in his 3rd year of eligibility… currently 2nd all time in Saves …behind Mariano Rivera…with 601 saves…spent most of career with San Diego…his best pitch…at least in part of his career was his change-up….his fastball topped out at his peak around 86-87 mph..so his pinpoint use of his sharp slider …around 81mph and his changeup piled up  his outs in the 9th inning….his career ERA was 2.87 in 1035 games.

No arguments on any of these four players….but there are other ideas swirling around HOF selections.. 

….Stars of years ago “stood out” as they do now…the first 5 players—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson were clearly recognized during their careers as the “best” in the league….and DO belong in the HOF

…but….as the years went by…..the HOF attempted to “catch up” on HOF worthy players who had been overlooked…so the Veterans Committee was formed…THEY chose players that they felt belonged  in the HOF and had been overlooked…there were definitely some….but …..some others inducted through this process were not of the same ilk..couple examples…catcher Ray Schaulk played 18 seasons …career batting .253…played with Shoeless Joe Jackson on the Chicago “Black” sox scandal of 1919…another is Harry Hooper played 1909-1925…primarily on the Red Sox..played 17 years while batting .281….there are a few others…..in the modern era Pee Wee Reese and Catfish Jim Hunter appear to be in deeper waters than they belong….so……what happens once a guy gets in who doesn’t belong….nothing….he’s in..there is a list of 20 or so players who some experts believe don’t belong in the baseball HOF…suggestions…

….let the veterans committee…of which Bob Broeg …long time sports editor of the StL Post-dispatch was a key member….btw…he pushed in some former Cardinals ..Chick Hafey,  Frankie Frisch, Pud Galvin, Orlando Cepada, Roger Bresnahan, Jake Beckley  who were…no doubt… good players…but …HOF level?? …returning to the point…the veterans committee should meet once every 5 years not every year..the new  players chosen should not be recognized as players at the bottom of the HOF totem pole but ones who…for some reason…are CLEAR HOF’ers and belong in the HOF.

…possibly set of number of players as the maximum for the HOF ….there are currently 319 people in the baseball HOF…222 former major league players, 30 executives, 35 Negro league, 22 mgr/umpires…put the non-playing HOF’ers in their own section…the Negro League has probably maxed out on its stars since that league disappeared and those players justifiably became part of the MLB…..umpires/manages don’t compete on the field…put them in their own sections… maybe a max of 250 or 300 players in the elite HOF….as the number  of players pushes past that point..put the lowest ranked  of the list of players in the historical HOF..probably most coming from the Veteran’s committee choices….don’t allow an unlimited number to fill up the baseball elite HOF.

….It is extremely difficult to compare players from different eras….in fact…I don’t think that you can do it fairly….look at some of the changes  from 50-60-90 years ago …HOF opened up in 1939 @ Cooperstown NY….it wasn’t opened or owned then …or now…by the MLB…it was opened by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel, with the  purposes of stimulating his tourism business in this small…out of the way…NY town.

…..along those lines….you MUST compare the players to the era that they are playing..not the past. Expectations of behavior on and off the field  are always changing….PED use vs gambling?….spitballs were allowed at one time…not now….stealing signs was viewed as a skill…not illegal…at one point..beanballs are forbidden now….at one time, they was used to send a message…the game changes….judge the players on the current mores of the time….not to the standards of 50+ years ago.

…another area to consider is that the game has changed….it’s not like it was in 1919 …or 1939…or during the war years…or even the 1960’s…..look at some of the changes…

….medically….these players have treatments now that weren’t even considered  earlier….these players play longer, through injuries that once ended their careers, recover quickly …all due to modern medicine….the ol’ timers era just didn’t have that available to them..by playing longer, many players are able to pile up far higher career stats that boost their attractiveness to Cooperstown

…ballparks have increased in size minimally but the size…height, weight, muscle mass…. of the players has really  grown…ergo…many, many more home runs

…development of the youthful players has taken on a much more rigorous routine….coaching is now vastly improved for the youth….for many talented youngsters it’s a 12 month a year commitment and a commitment of significant money to fund the camps, traveling  teams, etc, etc….btw….you wonder why we’re seeing so few African-Americans in baseball….the honing and development of the elite level baseball skills is now done primarily through expensive traveling teams….the poor families can’t afford it…. Soooo…. their sons are not exposed the intense, rigorous, extensive skills developed through the traveling leagues….hence…development lags

……modern technology has assisted players in developing the correct angles of their swings to derive the most benefit from this “good” contact….players can go in the clubhouse between innings and check the pitcher  in slo-mo….not just with their eyes…to enhance their success

….expansion of the league…..for several decades there were 8 teams in each league–400 players in the MLB….now there are 30 teams…750 players……I’m making the supposition that the real star players “back in the day”  would be star players today….just think if there were half as many teams….how good would the starting rotations be as compared to today?That’s a big difference.. I’ve noticed for a few years now that many of the “good” hitters in the MLB are so-so against quality pitchers but pile up the numbers against the weaker pitchers…those bottom half of the pitching staffs  would NOT even have been in the MLB with only 16 teams…

….Hall of Fames are interesting to the exuberant  fans….and the casual fans… of the game….it brings back memories…. or maybe… sheds new light … on the best players of all the eras of that particular sport.  Speaking from personal experience….I’ve really enjoyed the Baseball HOF…my wonderful wife sat as I read each and every plaque …  & Football HOF ..lots of hands-on stuff….but hockey HOF in Toronto was a dud..it was in a high story building …located on 1st..maybe 2nd floor…my kids were really disappointed because I knew more of the ol’ time HOF than they did.

Some other thoughts…info….about HOF….

….when I read that Chipper Jones was only the second player inducted into the HOF who was the #1 overall pick of the draft…the other was Ken Griffey JR what about othe.#1 overall picks…from the past of a few decades ago….the #1 picks that made the MLB  and their accomplishments…1965 Rick Monday(All Star); 1969 Jeff Burroughs; 1976 Floyd Bannister (All Star), 1977 Harold Baines (All Star); 1978 Bob Horner (All Star & Rookie of year); 1980 Daryl Strawberry (All Star & ROY);’1981 Mike Moore (All Star); 1982 Sharon Dunston (All Star); 1985 BJ Surhoff (All Star); 1988 Andy Benes (All Star)’ 1992 Phil Nevin (All Star); 1993 Alex Rodriguez (All Star + very good); 1995 Darin Erstad (All Star)…that means since between 1965-2000…the players drafter #1 OVERALL from 1966, 1967, 1968, 19780 1971, 1972 1973, 1974, 1975 , 1979, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, `989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 either didn’t make the majors or didn’t ever qualify for 1 All Star game…that’s with the #1 OVERALL pick!!!  How could the teams be THAT wrong? Since 1999…drafting has improved….some of the #1 drafted are 99-Josh Hamilton; 2000 Adrian Gonzalez; 2001 Joe Maurer;2005 Justin Upton; 2007 David Price, 2009 Stephen Strasburg; 2010 Bryce Harper; 2011 Gerrit Cole; 2012 Carlos Correa—sooo…it appears that MLB has started to figure out better way sto draft #1 overall picks…

….some of the best players not in the HOF and NOT on the ballot may surprise you…

…Gil Hodges ….1B of the Brooklyn Dodgers through their great days of the 50’s—played 18 years, was an All-Star 7 of 8 years in the midst of his career….273 hitter with 370 HR…lifetime OPS of .846..played in 7 world Series in his career,,,sharp fielder  at 1B

…Tony Oliva …played entire career in Minnestota…during the 2nd dead ball ear (early 70’s)…led the AL in batting title 3x, led AL in hits-5X, led AL in 2B-4x, career .304 hitter in 15 years…hurt badly by playing entire career in Minnesota…small market, little national recognition

….Lee Smith…pitched 18 years…remembered most for his first 8 years with Cubs…had  478 saves…was the All-Time Leader in Saves  from 1993-20006 when passed by now HOF Trevor Hoffman…lifetime ERA…18 seasons…3.03….did not just pitch the 9th inning…for example with the Cards…90-93…the lean years before AB sold the Cards…90—53 games-63 inn; 1991- the most saves of his career-47—67 games -73 innings. He led the league I 4 different years from 83 to 94! He’s been on the ballot since 2003…highest total was 50.4% and in 2017 dropped to 34%….was he much different than Hoffman?

…there are more…Billy Wagner a contemporary of Hoffman….seems to be on this way out…it’s believed however that hitters thought Wagner was better than Hoffman …that Wagner was tougher to hit!!??

Now…some quick hitters …

….What’s in the water in Columbia…over the last 2-3 years the Head Football Coach, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, the Head Baseball Coach and now this week the Head Softball Coach have all changed…some resign… some fired…has the SEC “brand” done this?

…Brewers look like they are “all in” with the acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain.  The perennial question….Do they have enough Pitching?

….SLU & Mizzou are each experiencing similar issues on the basketball court…depleted rosters… lack of a consistent “go to” guy, head coaches of each team are brand new (1st year) or relatively new (2nd); fan bases had high hopes in pre-season which have been dashed by a myriad of circumstances.

….looking at 2 of the top HS teams in the Lou…the Hazelwood Central Hawks are 20-1…only loss to an OOT …and out-of-state team..1st year coach Brandon Gilmore…who was the top assistant to 12 year Head Coach Josh Martin..has led them to tournament Championships @ Vianney,  Meramec-Coaches vs Cancer and Parkway West tournaments…this type of winning isn’t anything new @ Central…their teams have won 74 games over the last 3 years, the Hawks are led by the 4-some of Shaun Williams, Cameron Williams, Xavier Ball and Telly Wright.  Central has 11 seniors on the team….so ….this could be the year that they reach Columbia.

….coming on strong as the season unfolds are the Chaminade Red Devils (15-2)coched by Frank Bennett…last week Chaminade knocked off Whitney Young (Chicago)..ranked in top 25 by USA pre-season poll…a school that has 3 NBA players of recent history..(David Lee ..who just retired after 12 NBA years)…Bradly Beal (just earned his 1st All-Star berth in NBA)…and Jayson Tatum…do I need to say anything about him?…now Chaminade has another super talent that’s headed to N.Carolina State—Jericole Hellems.  Hellems is 6-7, carries 23ppg avg, rebounds aggressively, run the floor well….but he’s not alone…6-6 Soph  Luke Kasubke is the long-range bomber…he’s downing 3-balls at at 44% clip….his high level of skill…brings back memories for me of his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) who was one of the best women HS basketball players that I coached in my coaching career.  

…not much to lose….Phillies signed Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract…IF….and that’s a big if…he refinds his “stuff”and makes the Phils…they get a seasoned bullpen guy of $2.5m….he was horrible last year..7.82 ERA ….soooo.. it’s a gamble…but what do they have to lose?

….How does Lovie Smith keep getting a pass?  He was “on top” of his game with the design and use of the “cover 2” defense….but …over the years …teams have adapted….has he?  One WOULD have to say that he’s looking ahead by hiring the Trinity HS football Coach, Corey Patterson,  as an assistant… Trinity seems to be loaded with talent in the upcoming years….so…you see the landscape…former HS coach…needs players @ collegiate level…yada-yada-yada

…How can you bet against the Patriots?  For a long time I called him Bill Belicheat..but….I’ve got to give it to him….he finds a way to win….year after year with an ever changing cast of characters… except at QB…hw wins…..although he  did win when Brady was hurt a few years ago.

..the Atlantic 10 basketball conference has seen minimal success in NCAA Tournament…since their formation…only 5 teams have reached the Sweet 16 of the tournament…LaSalle-2016; George Mason-2006—actually made final 4!!; Duquesne-2014; Rhode Island-1998…so…Bills keep plugging away.. you can make some headway in this league.

…in the NHL…it’s amazing…the expansion team—Las Vegas Golden Knights are STILL in 1st place in the Eastern Conference…and are 2nd in the entire league in wins with 32….wonder if some of other NHL teams are.. “reevaluating the situation”… about their assessment of personnel ?

…..you earned HOF credentials for making it to the bottom…thx…