Turning the Tide by Bob Ryan

Sure…it’s a week ago…but it’s still the talk….just how did Alabama rally to beat the #1seed-Georgia in the 2nd half. There isn’t any one play, strategy, or factor that changed the outcome by itself but there were a few combinations of factors that had some impact on the final Tide surge…..
….in the 1st half…the Bulldogs “had their way” totally…domination of the line….the Tide was back on their heels..the Bulldogs built together 2 long drives but came up with only 2 FG until the last second TD made it 13-0. .. it could have easily been..actually… maybe..should have been… 20-0 at half.
…in the 2nd half, the Tide made a key change…going to Frosh QB Tua Tagovailoa..some “experts” argue… was it panic or wisdom on Saban’s part….well…now question that TT (I’m not typing that long name every time ) has a stronger, more accurate arm that Hurts AND he did lead the team to victory but he clearly made some frosh blunders…e.g. the 2nd last play of the game …the long, long sack that TT didn’t throw away the ball…had Bama NOT won on the next play…that sack would have been pointed out as a horrible freshman blunder.
…TT gained the confidence of his teammates when he scrambled 27 yards…from that point on…it looked like a totally different Alabama team…so he deserves high praise for turning the Tide
….Georgia’s 1st half success was passing on early downs with long runs on 3rd/long situations by their two tremendous running backs.
….It seemed to me that the Bama “hurry up” offense employed in 2nd half tired out those huge Georgia defensive lineman…hence…TT had more time to throw the ball.
…While he was confident looking in the 1st half, Frosh Fromm (GA’s QB) looked tight in the 2nd half
…lets’ not forget that Mizzou lit up that Georgia secondary (253 yards, 4 TD’s) in their game…Bama was able to isolate their receivers better in the 2nd half against the Bulldog secondary….especially the last TD strike…there wasn’t another sole in sight as the winning catch was made over the cornerback.
….in the 2nd half, Bama loaded the defensive box on 1st down…yet Georgia kept trying to run on that down putting themselves in 2nd & long repeatedly….the Bulldogs were far too conservative in their play calling in the 2nd half…just as OU had done the week previously
….Georgia started playing the clock WAY TOO EARLY…keep moving the ball..keep the off rhythm
…how is it that Nick Saban….as great a evaluator as he is….can NEVER recruit a kicker….If Bama had lost I was afraid that there might be a lynching in Tuscaloosa.. you can imagine who’d be facing the wrath of the Tide fans….I can’t remember Bama EVER having a superb kicker…..usually it doesn’t matter when you outscore the opponents by 4-5 touchdowns every week though, does it
…all in all…. what a great Championship game… great plays, weird plays, momentum changing right before our eyes, superior athletes on both teams, great entertainment. Kudos to both teams and of course …special praise to Alabama for “Turning the Tide”

The tide has turned in other sports areas…
…has the tide turned in the Cardinals brass evaluations of starting pitching free agents? Now we hear Jake Arrieta is on the radar..why would the Cards look in that direction when they’ve bypassed Lance Lynn….who will be signed for far less that Arrieta..check their comparative numbers for last year
Age W-L ERA WHIP INN K probable “signing” area
Arrieta 31 14-10 3.57 1.218 168 163 4 years-$105m
Lynn 30 11-8 3.43 1.229 186 153 4 years-$70m
Now for their career averages
IP W-L ERA WHIP INN K
Arrieta 203 15-10 3.57 1.169 203 188
Lynn 193 14-9 3.38 1.288 193 182
Or….has this become a one-on-one matchup between the two General managers in a game of “gottcha”…which team signed the last player from the other team …it started with Lackey & Heyward…then Fowler…come on…if Lynn didn’t fit in..fine…but Arrieta isn’t the answer.
….the tide turned in Columbia, MO…on the basketball court…Coach Martin …realizing that his Frosh Center, Jerimiah Tillmon, was constantly getting into very early foul trouble and sitting on the bench for most of the game as a result….started Frosh JonTay Porter in the last game…and PORTER guarded the opposing center thus keeping Tillmon out of foul trouble. Bravo Coach!!
….It really didn’t turn the tide for anyone else but the team and the Coaching staff….but…Director of Athletics at Central Florida, Danny White, held a parade for his 13-0 team and rewarded the coaching with bonuses as IF they had won the national championship….it’s really amazing when you consider that the Head Coach AND the entire staff are moving to Nebraska for next season. White’s reasoning….if a team wins every game, they MUST be the national Champions. What else could they do?
…Mizzou basketball shows signs of improvement but the lack of a strong ballhandling guard really hurts them late in the games as the opposition increases the pressure and the Tigers can’t quite handle it… hopefully…they’ll turn the tide soon
…the Great Lakes Valley Conference Basketball conferences (Men & Women) have really turned the tide in their “conference rankings” for the season. It’s no longer ….just wins-losses… as commonly done. The new plan now uses a scale listed below that awards more points for road wins than home wins and more points for teams with better records than wins over those teams with lesser records…here’s the breakdown.
GLVC POINT RATING BREAKDOWN
POINTS SHALL BE AWARDED FOR EACH CONFERENCE CONTEST PLAYED:
7 POINTS – WIN OVER A .750 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
6.5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .750 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME
6 POINTS – WIN OVER A .500 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .500 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME
4.5 POINTS – WIN OVER A .250 OR BETTER TEAM ON THE ROAD
4 POINTS – WIN OVER A .250 TEAM OR BETTER AT HOME
3.5 POINTS – WIN OVER AN UNDER .250 TEAM ON THE ROAD
3 POINTS – WIN OVER AN UNDER .250 TEAM AT HOME
2.5 POINTS – LOSS AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD TO A .750 OR BETTER TEAM
2 POINTS – LOSS TO A .500 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD
1 POINT – LOSS TO A .250 OR BETTER TEAM AT HOME OR ON THE ROAD
.5 POINTS – LOSS TO AN UNDER .250 TEAM ON THE ROAD
0 POINTS – LOSS TO AN UNDER .250 TEAM AT HOME
….in the NCAA Mens Basketball National Rankings..the tide definitely has turned….the usual names found at the top aren’t there…none in the 5! The usual blue-bloods hanging out at the top of the poll have dropped… Duke is #9, Kansas #12, N. Carolina #20, Kentucky #21. Can you imagine?… a Missouri Valley Team…Wichita at #5 .. over these perianal powerhouses. That’s not to say that by the end of the season that we’ll see our “ol friends” in the thick of March Madness…btw…Villanova is #1 in both major polls.
…..I wish the tide would turn for the Blues…a scoring drought…especially on the power play makes each and every goal by the opponents magnified…..recently, I’ve noticed the opposition is getting clear open shots on our net…it’s 3 on 2 or 4 on 3…the Blues can’t guard them all….I can’t determine if our wingers can’t get back….or in too deep when they lose possession….or whatever…but these professional hockey players ARE going to score when there isn’t a defender in front of them. Somehow I’ve thought that the Blues were young….well…they have 9 players 30+ years old on their 21 man roster…that’s 42% of the roster….and how many are “stars”? here they are–Bouwmeester, Brodziak, Gunnarson, Hutton, Sobotka, Stastny, Steen, Thorburn and Upshaw…ur call…how many?
….I wish the Cards would turn the tide and try one of my suggestions….either go to a 6-ace rotation…i.e that is your ace goes every 5 games and everyone else 6 games….it’d look like this..
12345 16234 15623 14562 13456 ..repeat….12345 …give those starting pitchers more rest OR use one or two pitchers as “bridge” men…they come into relieve in the 6th inning with the expectations of pitching 2 or 3 innings…these bridge men could pitch with 2 or 3 days rest…again shorten the work and the depth…of the setup & closing part of the bullpen
…while we’re in the bullpen….is Yadi still here….ooops….NO-sorry, He’s catching today….. anyway….the “closer” tide has turned…it now appears that Luke Gregerson will be the closer at the start of the season for the Cardinals…he’ll be 34 years old in May…for most of his career he’s been a good…to very good…set up man…does that mean that he can’t close out games….NO…he did it in in 2015…31 saves for Houston..but then Houston pushed him back into a set-up man for their last 2 seasons?….last year, Gregerson struck out 70 while walking 20…good ratio….he also faced 263 batters in 61 innings….that’s only 4.3 batters/inning…that looks good too…..but for the 1st time in his career… his Hits/Inning exceeded 1.00…those marks looked like this–62 hits in 61 inn…this was a 1st in his career….also, Gregerson surrendered 13 HR in 61 IP…that also was the most that he’s allowed in his career….bit worrisome to me…I’m afraid that we’ve reacquired a pitcher that we traded away 8 years ago and now is approaching the twilight of his successful career. From my observations….older closers like this start the season fine but wear down my July-Aug days…let’s hope that isn’t the case here
….not having to turn the tide but just keep it rolling are the Parkway Central Colts Basketball Team… generally, under the radar somewhat in the StL HS Boys Basketball scene. Coach Ric Kirby’s teams play tenacious defense, smart but not flashy offense and make sure that their best players get the ball at key moments of the game. Kirby is a story in himself. He Coached Pk Central for 18 years the stepped away in 2005 with a 337-167 record, won 2 conference titles, 4 district championships and reached the final four 3 different years. He returned to the same head coaching position in 2012. Last year he took his Colts back to the Final Four @ Mizzou Arena. His leading scorer from last year DeAndre Campbell returns as a Senior and is scoring 26+ppg while the Colts are piling up another successful season @ 11-3. Congrats to Coach Kirby and his Pk Central Colts team for keeping the tide rolling.
….In the Nearly Forgotton League…the tied turned back and forth all weekend in games that really mean something…quick run-down…I actually enjoyed the games over the weekend
…New England dominated Tennessee….the impeccable game plan of B&B punched so many holes in the Titans defense that the game was never in doubt..
…Case Keenum is going to the Divisonal Championship…can you believe that?..He’s the 3rd string QB of the Vikings….who whatta believed that he’d connect on a long…albeit wobbly…pass down the sideline omn the last play of the game…the New Orleans defender only had to let the receiver catch the ball and tackle him…instead the defender puts his head down…I guess to deliver a “big blow”…he misses the man…and Stefon Diggs raced into the end Zone for the winning points as time expired…. needlessly…the referees cleared the field for a meaningless PAT..why? I know I can’t expect logic or reason from the Nearly forgotton League.
…Jacksonville jumped way ahead of Pittsburgh…it was 28-7 Jax in 2nd quarter…28-14 @ half…it was still 42-28 with 4+ min remaining in the game….the offenses were dominating in the 4th quarter when Pittsburgh scored @the 2:01 mark left in the game to cut the lead to 42-35.. Head Coach Mike Tomlin decided to go for an on-sides kick…it failed…Jax recovered the KO … had a short field and kicked a FG to make it 45-35….it wasn’t over…the Steelers scored again with just :01 left to close the gap to 45-42 but no one has ever onsides KO AND recovered it and ran it in for a TD….
….well the tide of this blog is turning….it’s finished!

 

Alexa … find me … by Bob Ryan

OK…I received a new toy…or program, for Christmas…ask Alexa….so I thought that I’d put it to work…here we go..

Bob…thx  Alexa……ya know I hear a lot about that WAR stat…find me what that means and who were in the top 10 of the MLB for 2017.

Alexa…OK…let me check….well I’ve found the definition of WAR…it says “Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic.. now…WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins, which means it is highly likely that Player X has been more valuable than Player Y….that’s your 1st answer….now let me find the top 10………there…I’ve found it…. the top 10 in the MLB in 2017..#1 was Jose Altuve-8.3; #2 Aaron Judge-8.1; #3 Giancarlo Stanton-7.6,#4 Joey Votto-7.5; #5 Nolan Arenado-7.2; #6-Andrelton Simmons (Angels SS)-7.1; #7Jose Ramirez (Clev OF)-6.9; #8 Mike Trout-6.7; #9 Mookie Betts-6.4  #10 Tommy Pham-6.4`

Bob….Alexa find me some concerns about the Mizzou 2017 football team

Alexa…OK…let me check…well I’ve found these worrisome stats about Mizzou 2017 football..in no particular order..Mizzou was a -8 in turnovers=worst in SEC; Mizzou committed 96 penalties this year=12th in USA..not Conference USA…the entire country; in Coach Barry Odums 2 years as Head Coach, he is 11-14 but only 2 wins were over teams that finished over .500; and I don’t know exactly what this means but in the 2 games that Coach Odum had the longest to prepare (MO State & Texas), Mizzou went out and played their two worst games.

Bob….Alexa find me the cost of the tickets if I wanted to attend the NCAA Football Championship game..

Alexa….I’m looking…..these prices are from the TicketCity Web site…..the lowest priced tickets are $1277…I imagine that you’re behind a pole  ….the highest listed are $12,605…per seat

Bob….Alexa find me the hottest scorer for the Blues in recent games…

Alexa….OK…I’m looking……….I’m still looking…………….I’m looking……………………I’m still looking

Bob…all right, all right….let’s go here……Alexa..find me… Mizzou’s best scorers this season?

Alexa….OK…I’m looking….the leading scorer is is SR Jordan Bartnett @ 15.9 ppg….Bartnett played 2 years @ Texas. Right now Bartnett is the best player on the team. Next in scoring is a 5th year SR transfer—Kassius Robertson 15.4ppg #2. Robertson is really “out of position”…he’s a shooting guard but being forced into playing point guard.

Bob….hey wait a minute…all I heard about in the off season was these new recruits…now I know the best one Michael Porter Jr has been injured…but Alexa find me these other hot recruits?

Alexa….OK….I’m looking…Frosh Jerimiah Tilmon is at 18.4min/gm & 9.0ppg….and Frosh….Jontay Porter does 22.7min/gm while scoring 8.3ppg. Two other Freshman recruits have left the team.

Bob….recently I was listening to a sports talk radio show…the guest was Marv Levi…most famous for losing 4 straight Super Bowls….not famous for MAKING 4 straight Super Bowls…no one else has EVER done that…. anyway…he was very enjoyable to listen to as he recalled many anecdotes in his career…despite being 90+ years old….it got me thinking…recently it seems to me that  Buffalo turns over coaches frequently…find me how many coaches that the Bills have they had since 2001

Alexa….I’m checking…whoa…. Bob….you’ve got  a handful….the Buffalo Bills have hired 9 different Head Coaches starting with the year 2001…that’s right 17 years—9 coaches….only 1 coach has been over .500…the current coach..Sean McDermott 9-7…and he made the playoffs….uh…Bob…it seems that many of these coaches had NO prior head coaching experience…what did they expect @ Buffalo?

Bob:  I can’t help myself Alexa…on Sunday I found myself watching the Jacksonville-Buffalo playoff game…..it reminded me of ol’ time football….not much offense (Jax won 10-3)….the Jags QB had more yardage running than passing so that says a lot right there…the Bills QB got injured on their final drive…which turned out to be futile…backup QB threw an INT….punters were played a bigger role than any running back in the game….Tony Romo….”expert” commentator…weaved back & forth between a skilled analyst reading the defenses and a fan….”ya gotta do this now….etc”  kind of refreshing.

Alexa….what do you want me to find? A Coach?  QB? Punter?  Announcer? What do you want?

Bob…hey, hey.. Alexa..I’m supposed to ask the questions…not you….anyway I’m curious….Mizzou has lost their Def & Off Coordinators that started the 2017 season….how does that impact their pay scale for assistant coaches….

Alexa…OK…I’m looking…..ur right Bob….DeMontie Cross (DC) had a $600,000 & Josh Heupel (OC) $700,000 contracts and now both are gone…..the Mizzou football coaching staff (not counting head coach)was the 20th highest paid football staff in the USA in 2017..with the two highest paid assistants now gone…it should drop some

Bob…soo…staying along that line…which team had the highest paid jobs for their assistant coaches

Alexa…..reeeally?   Come on Bob….of course it was Alabama followed by Clemson, Michigan, Florida and Auburn..btw Bob….the SEC had 10 of the top 20 spots in highest paid assistant football coaching staffs

Bob….Alexa let’s stay in the college mode….St Louis U won Saturday so they are now  1-2 in the A-10. Alexa find me the chances  of SLU popping into the top tier of that league…

Alexa…..OK…I’m checking…Well Bob…ur right, SLU is 1-2 but of the 14 conference teams…eight of them are 1-2 in conference …Duquesne & Rhode Island are 3-0, Va Tech 2-1…I don’t know if they can crack into the top 3 but clearly the league is very “even” below that top echelon….but…. But Bob…the Billikens are 0-4 on the road…they’ll have to win SOME games away from Chaivetz Arena in order to to make any mark at all.

Bob…..yea…yea…..but now…..Alexa find me the Cardinals rotation as of July 1, 2018?

Alexa….OK….I’m looking ….uh…Bob that isn’t available…all I can find is the starting rotation for the start of the year…it shows Carlos Martinez; Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Luke Weaver…. But Bob I do find a footnote that Anthony Reyes is available around May 1..

Bob…Alexa….I’m going to turn the tables…I’ll give YOU the starting rotation on July 19(1st game after all-star game—Martinez, Reyes, Weaver, Jack Flaherty & another pitcher not currently in their system or on their team—Wacha will be a “bridge man” –long reliever/spot starter; Wainwright will have arm issues of some sort; Mikolas will be in the pen…trying to keep his arm upright after being used…maybe abused…in 1st half appearances

Bob…Alexa….find me more about this Miles….what’s his name…  Mikolas?

Alexa…..OK…I’m looking….here…he’s 29 years old…he pitched in the majors for 3 years…2012, 2013, 2014. The first 2 seasons at San Diego, he worked as a reliever and the last season @ Texas as a starter. His lifetime MLB stats are 4-6, 5.32 era, .267 avg against him, whip 1.42…..but Bob….wait…I just found that he pitched the last 3 seasons in Japan…he was 31-13 there, 2.18 ERA in 62 starts (21 starts annually),WHIP .994, 378 strikeouts, 69 walks and 28 HR permitted in those 3 seasons.

Bob…Alexa…assuming everyone around here knows about these outstanding collegiate QB’s– Baker Mayfield (OU), Sam Darnold (USC), Drew Lock (Mizzou), Trace McSorley (Penn St)…find for me the “Other” best QB of 2017 that have been overlooked by many fans…

Alexa…OK…I’m looking….well Bob…popping up immediately is Lamar Jackson (Louisville)…he won the Heisman last year as a Soph in 2016  but had better numbers(better passing %, less INT, higher avg per run) this year…why the disappearing act…Louisville barely won their first 2 games then got crushed by Clemson, were upset by Boston College….the short of it…the team didn’t attract as much attention…thus Jackson “got lost” by national media…oh.. they won’t have to worry about his Senior  year…Jackson just declared for the draft

Bob….the Blues are struggling to score goals…find me some pertinent stats for December…too early in Jan to arrive at conclusions in 3 games….

Alexa…OK…..I’m looking…here are some stats for the month of Dec for the Blues…Blues were 7-9 for the month… Vladimir Tarasenko played in all 16 games, avg 20m/gm—scored 4 goals all month…he did have 64 shots on goal but only 6.3% were goals…Alexander Steen & Paul Stastny each scored 1 goal for the month…Steen was a -3 and Stastny was a -11 for December..Brayden Schenn was the offensive leader….he had 7 goals, 4 assists for the Blues last month. The Blues are 28th in the league in power play proficiency with 14.8%…the defense is still strong….4th in the NHL in goals permitted. Maybe  GM Armstrong can pull off another steal like he did with Schenn and add an offensive threat for the Blues.  It’s a weird schedule…the Blues have played 3 games against Calgary, Edmonton & Dallas and have yet to play San Jose, Washington & Boston..

Bob…Alexa…. find for me Carson Kelly’s future?

Alexa…I’m looking….well..my reports say that he just about “ready” for the MLB but Yadi’s extension now takes him through 2020….so…..my reports seem muddled….he can’t sit there for 3 more years….it looks like he’ll try camping out in the bullpen like Yadi taught him to do when you don’t like what’s going on…..and…it’s becoming clearer now….looks like he’s not going to be a Cardinal much past this year…if he makes it that long

Bob….Alexa…find me the top NL rookies for 2018 according to MLB.com

Alexa…OK….I’m checking….Bob they are listed in this order… Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves’ No. 1 prospect; Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers’ No. 1 prospect; Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers’ No. 1 prospect; Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals’ No. 3 prospect; Victor Robles, OF, Nationals’ No. 1 prospect

Bob…..let’s get off the Cardinals….Alexa…find me which MLB  had the best off-season thus far?

Alexa…OK…I’m checking…..well, Bob …it’s the LA Angels…they have been rated with an “A” for their off season moves..they resigned Justin Upton…so they’ll have him for the full year, acquired a new ..if not young…middle Infield in Ian Kinsler & Zach Cosart, signed an exciting talent in Shohei Ohtani…but Bob….I don’t see much for their woeful bullpen

Bob…don’t worry Alexa…they’ll pick them up when they start to win…but…I’m wondering why did the Cards give up Mag Sierra in the Ozuna trade?  Would you find that out?

Alexa….sure Bob….I’m checking….oh here it is….apparently the Cards didn’t feel that he’d hit enough to carry a starting position

Bob…but Alexa …he hit .317 in 22 Cardinal games in 2017….

Alexa….easy Bob….I’m just following the data…he is projected by three different baseball sites to hit between .250 & .258… in 2018….but…wait a minute…surprisingly to me Bob…they only project 3-11 stolen bases for the year …. Mags has the wheels and should steal more than 4 bases but CAN he put the ball in play….Cards didn’t think so!

Bob……forget about him Alexa…he’s been exiled to Miami…where players go to fade into anonymity while catting around late in night clubs …Alexa lets go back to college football…find me which team did the best in the early signing period..which is going to be called the Blue Chip signing period… at some point…all the others….the white chippers will be signing in the following February

Alexa….OK..I’m checking with different sources…..the top schools are ranked a bit differently in each one….so….here they are without any specific rankings….Georgia, Texas, Miami, Penn State, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and of course, Alabama…

Bob….yesterday, the KC Chiefs lost another round game….it seems like that is always happening to Coach Andy Reid…so Alexa…find me data of the coaching Career of Andy Reid

Alexa….OK…I’m checking…Andy Reid has been a head NFL coach 19 years (14 @ Philly, 5 @KC)….before moving to the pros in 1992, he was an Assistant Coach for Mizzou under head Coach Bob Stull (89-91)…the Tigers went 2-9, 4-7, 3-7-1 during that time.  Reid has only had 3 losing seasons in 19 years…and one was his 1st year..has made the playoffs 3 consecutive years but has been knocked out in the 1st round each of the last 2 years…his lifetime regular season record in NFL as a HEAD Coach is 183-121-1 in regular season…in the playoffs (13 of his 19 years)…he’s 11-13..so for his career he’s 194-134-1-.593….that puts him as the 9th most winningest coach in NFL history…btw… as a point of interest…the top 5 NFL coaches in the win category are: #1 in NFL wins is Don Shula 347-173-6 – .665; #2 George Halas 324-151-31-.671 ; #3 Bill Belichick  276-128-.683; #4 Tom Landry  270-178-6-.601; #5 Curly Lambeau  229-134-22-.623…so Bob….Reid is “up there” in the rarified air of NFL coaches. But…Bob….keep in mind that the NFL seasons, post-seasons were much, much shorter through until the mid-60’s.

Bob….thx  Alexa…well…..I’m worn out…asking all these questions is “tough”on me …. Alexa…find me an ending…

Alexa…..Thanks for reading….goodbye! Print your responses right here on the Prepcasts site below article….or…if you prefer…email them to Bob and he’ll print them with your initials….no one is right …or wrong…it’s YOUR opinion.

 

Holidays = Bowl Games Galore by Bob Ryan

The week between Christmas & New Years is filled with a heavy dose of college bowl games…some very, very good and some being used only as a noise background at holiday parties. Also this week are huge, traditional Holiday Basketball Tournaments on the High School level in the Lou. I didn’t watch all of the bowl games …I do have a life…..and in very few of them did I watch the entire game….but…some thoughts…

…starting of course with the Texas Bowl….Mizzou’s 33-16 loss was disappointing….the first 5ish minutes of the game was brutal for the Tigers…penalties, turnovers…looking ill-prepared….Texas scored twice in first half on TD passes to backs out of the backfield…another time that the Longhorns picked up a fumble and took it into the end zone…it wasn’t a pick-6…it was a scoop & score…..Mizzou settled down….maybe too much…the Tiger play-calling in the 1st half seemed even more conservative than when I called plays “back in the day”..Mizzou looked considerably sharper and  better offensively in the 3rd quarter…I realize that it was the 1st game of play calling for this Mizzou coach(Off Coordinator left for U Cen Flor)….so….understandable…I guess…or maybe that’s just an alibi……anyway…..Mizzou’s beautiful long drive in the 3rd quarter resulted in a FG…down 21-16 but a “surprise” snap to Drew Lock…or so it seemed…turned into a safety for Texas…..and that errant snap turned the momentum back to Texas…..Texas finished 7-6 (same as Mizzou) to snap a string of 3 consecutive losing seasons..I believe that the kicking game was the difference…an outstanding area for Texas was their punter…..he pinned the Tigers inside the 10 yard line repeatedly…as he seemed to be kicking it straight towards the “cover man”…usually this cover man caught the punt inside the 10 yd line….I’m wondering why Mizzou didn’t bang the heck out of that guy at the LOS to stifle the timing of the play? Those punts game the Tigers extremely loonngggg fields to score…For the most part, Mizzou had a superior passing game…over 100 more passing yards than Texas…..was about even in rushing yards…but Texas had 10 more minutes of possession as they “ground it out” late in the game. The Tigers displayed lots of good plays and good play but fell short.  Mizzou made a bowl after a horrendous start to 2017 so clearly this was a step forward.

…Ya think, Lane Kiffen was making a statement about getting a job back in the “big time”….in his 1st year as Head Coach @ Florida Atlantic, his Owls crushed Akron 50-3 to glide to victory in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl…is that a mouthful or what? Where’s he going is the question?

….the Rose Bowl game game–Oklahoma-Georgia was one of the best bowls that I’ve watched in a long time…maybe the best ever….the Bulldogs  won in 2-OT 54-48. The 1st half kept you on the edge of your seat. The Sooners came out “on fire” offensively” sharp passing, good holes for the running backs, some clever wrinkles offensively.  Georgia answered practically each OU drive in the 1st half with explosive, long runs. Sony Michel (181 yds) and Nick Chubb (145 yds) were explosive and powerful. It was 21-17 OU at half. In the 2nd half, the Georgia d-line seemed more aggressive, made quick penetration across the line and began getting to Heisman Trophey winning QB Baker Mayfield quickly.  Georgia tied  the game 31-31 in the 3rd. In the very entertaining 4th quarter, Georgia scored the 1st TD, OU scored the next 2 touchdowns only to see Georgia tie it with just 55 seconds left. Both teams were forced to kick FG in the 1st OT of the BCS competition. When Georgia blocked OU’s FG attempt in the 2nd OT….you had to feel that the “big mo” had swung back to the Bulldogs…and it did…Michel scored on a 27 yd run…game over…thriller! Those lying stats…hard to believe.. OU …the passing team .. had 32 min of possession and UGA just 27 min.

….on the other hand, in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama controlled Clemson throughout the entire game as they won 24-6. The Crimson Tide played with more emotion that I’ve ever remember a Nick Saban team showing. Maybe….it was due to the fact that Bama WASN’T ranked as the best team? This was the 3rd straight year that these two very talented teams had met…previous 2 years was for the title….this game was MUCH more defensive oriented than the OU-UGA game. Bama controlled  the LOS, their backs found some space to run and often shrugged off the 1st tackler.  I mean…Alabama’s 261 total yards paled by comparison to the 1st game but they always looked in control.

….the stunner to most fans was the Peach Bowl…and probably the experts…. with the unknown team at the dance…U of Cen Florida (UCF) upending the 10 point favorite, Auburn 34-27.  This game went back & forth…it was tied 13-13 in 2nd qtr and 20-20 in the 3rd as each team moved the ball primarily through the air. UCF QB….bet none of you know his name…yet his team went 13-0…McKenzie Milton was “off” early in passing. As the game unfolded, he made some long runs scrambling that kept the UCF’s offense moving. Each defense came up with some key interceptions and the final interception of the day with 28 seconds left by UCF iced the game for UCF.  Auburn’s Head Coach, Gus Malzahn seemed extremely angry and upset with the loss in his post-game “interview”. Going 13-0 won’t win the Knights a bid to the National Championship but it sure puts them on the stage for the future….how hard is that…to bring a nobody into the “big time”? You may recall, the UCF head coach, Scott Frost is moving to Nebraska next year…with his entire staff….makes lots of sense to me…bring people that you know.

…way down the list of bowls is the Cactus Bowl…it doesn’t even “sound” good….but the venerable Bill Snyder again demonstrated why he is a premier coach. K-State down at halftime to UCLA 17-7. What did Kansas State do in the 2nd half…they shutout the Bruins 28-0 and won the game 35-17. I guess you could say that Snyder made the right adjustments, heh…I luv using that hockey word.

… the Liberty Bowl, saw Matt Campbell, 2nd year head coach of Iowa State .. coaching in the Siberia of College Football… Ames, Iowa…led his team to an 8-5 record with a win over the home-town team of the Liberty Bowl, Memphis 21-20. The Cyclones had some good wins this year…they upset Oklahoma 38-31 and beat a good…not great but good… team, TCU 14-7. Campbell kept his team in the game against Texas (lost 17-7), W. Virginia (L 20-16 @ WV), fell to K-State in Manhattan 20-19. He won’t win any national accolades but his achievements but they really are remarkable when you look at the recent records of Iowa State –2016-3-9; 2015-3-9; 2014-2-10; 2013-3-9. This was the first team over .500 since 2009 when the Cyclones went 7-6. Congrats to Campbell & Iowa State.

…the Citrus Bowl had two “big name” schools…LSU vs Notre Dame…LSU had the first opportunity to score midway in 1st quarter….it appeared..at least to some that the LSU back had crossed the goal line on 3rd down…officials said no….no big deal..it was inches away…then..oops..off-sides pushed it back to the 5 and then…then the  FG attempt was missed….OMG!…seems like LSU is always just missing a little something and this FG attempt portrayed it perfectly.  ND DID kick a FG to take a rousing 3-0 lead after 1st half and Notre Dame had ditched the 1st string QB for the 2nd unit QB …who would call the rest of the game!?After ND botched a punt return, LSU punched across a TD in the 3rd qtr to grab a 7-6 lead. With ND trailing 17-14 with only 1:28 left, WR Miles Boykin caught a long pass, one-handed in spectacular fashion, eluded 2 defenders and scored the winning TD for the Irish (10-3) as they win it 21-17. Irish thrilled to reach the 10 win plateau, LSU has to wonder if Ed Orgeron can put aside his HS play book of 1980 and move into the current era to win.  The Tigers annually have tremendous athletic talent but can’t seem to move up into the highest echelon of NCAA football.

So….we have the national championship game coming in 2 weeks between Alabama & Georgia. Two familiar foes…the SEC fans are euphoric.  Taking a wider look at the overall bowl results of this post-season, there may be some surprises.  I believe that the bowls attempt to match up teams of about comparable skill to make the game exciting. The Big 10 went 7-1, Big 12 5-3, ACC 4-5, SEC 3-5, the Pac 12 1-8. Looking at those results of the Power 5 conferences, SEC still has the “cream of the crop” with  the top 2 or 3 elite teams of the conference, but beyond those teams, it appears that the their league is about the same as everyone else.  Maybe, it could be said that the Big 10 didn’t have a superior team(s) but more “good” teams than anyone else…based on the bowl results. The Pac-12 appeared to be “down” this year in quality and quantity of very good teams.

Over the Holidays around the Lou there are many HS basketball tournaments. The long-standing huge tournaments are at Visitation for the Girls and Meramec (now called Coaches vs Cancer) tournaments for the boys still reign supreme. At Viz, the championship game featured two of the Girls basketball programs and coaches  that have excelled for many years…it was Edwardsville vs Incarnate Word.  IWA is coached by Dan Rolfes, who just broke through the 500 win plateau this season as he holds an incredible 504-78 lifetime record in HS Girls Basketball. He’s led IWA to 7 state championships in 17 years at the helm.  Edwardsville is led by Lori Blades who also coaches the Softball team.  Coach Blades is 681-84 as the Head Basketball Coach @ Edwardsville. She’s led the Tigers to nine seasons of 30+ wins. In softball, Coach Blades is 452-61….yes…she has over 1000 wins combined….btw…if I’m a bit off in these staggering numbers, I apologize to these highly driven, meticulous, hard working coaches who both continue to excel year after year.  Back to Viz…some of the players from each team had been teammates in AAU basketball to there was the “personal” touch to this championship game. A few of the HS basketball guru’s think that this was the first encounter between the two schools but..some say.. that they may have competed “way back when”. At any rate, the game lived up to expectations in front of a huge crowd in the tightly packed  Viz Gym.  IWA jumped ahead 18-9 by the end of the 1st quarter. The  Tigers cut the lead to 31-27 @ half. At the end of 3 quarter, IWA was still on top 41-38.   As often happens…it came down to Free throws and the Tigers prevailed  and won it 61-57. The diference was the 4th quarter FT, Edwardsville was 22 of 30 from the line, IWA 7 of 8.  I’ve had the opportunity to know personally each of these two outstanding coaches.  I’ve seen them in action.  THEY both are the real thing…if you want to see great girls basketball…check out these 2 teams.

…the Meramec tournament always ends up with terrific championship games.  Many of the best teams compete there annually.  This year was no different.  The #3 large school, Hazelwood Central (#2 seed), faced the #1 small school, St Mary’s (#1 seed)…you see…coaches really can seed properly. SM had won the semifinals with two of the best players, Yuri Collins & Tony Burks, out with injuries. Collins was nursing a sore shoulder that has plagued him all season. Burks was busted up and required stitches. SM jumped ahead and still held a 53-44 lead when Tony Burks drained a 3-pointer to open the 4th quarter. A key play occurred with just over a minute remaining when Yuri Collins had stolen the ball and was headed for the game-tying basket when seemingly…out of nowhere…Cameron Williams blocked the shot and seemed to dash hopes of a comeback for the Dragons who lost their 1st game of the season. Haz Cen captured their 5th title in the Meramec/Coaches vs Cancer tournament. Senior shooting guard Shaun Williams showed his all-around game as he scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, handed out four assists to lead the way for the Hawks. Dragons bounced back on Jan 1 as they played in East Chicago and crushed Moreau Catholic (California) 101-76….that’s called “bouncing back”

….well….Holiday Season is ….far the most part…behind us now….thanks for “bowling” with me through this article….your comments are always invited…post right on the page or if you don’t want your name…send to me …I’ll post with your initials.  Thanks…have a great 1st week of 2018.

 

Christmas Gifts Under the Sports Tree by Bob Ryan

Gift opening is over….hopefully all enjoyed a terrific Christmas…now lets’ take a look at some of the gifts that our sports heroes and sports teams received….
…. Shohei Ohtani …newly singed LA Angel…received a “one of a kind” gift…. he’ll be the 1st MLB to be listed TWICE in fantasy baseball leagues…once as a pitcher and once as a hitter…could it ever happen that he’d be traded for himself (pitcher for hitter)?
….Dexter Fowler received the “Jimmy John” award for quickness….he’s last in and first out of the clubhouse on a regular basis
…City of Miami has received the Barnum & Baily Award (a sucker born ever minute)….the Marlins indicated many years ago that they needed a new stadium… publicly funded…Miami approved it.. the stadium opened in 2012 with the expectations that the Marlins would be an entertaining team. The total cost of the stadium was $515m , Marlins paid $155m, City of Miami $13m and other $347m was handled by Miami-Dade County. So….after having invested $360m, the Miami area expected the Marlins to reciprocate and give their best effort (money) to field a decent to good team…..not so….right now, the Marlins fire sale is shipping off quality players quicker than any pizza delivery due to the financial limitations of the new ownership group.
….with the above info fresh in your mind….it’s easy to see why Derek Jeter opened up the “Stran Kroneke” Award for Miami this year.
…winning the David Copperfield Award for his disappearing act is Carson Kelly…. always seen pre-game, Kelly disappears after the game begins and isn’t seen again throughout the next 3-4 hours on most nights
…receiving the “Rookie of the Half-Year” Award in the NHL is the Las Vegas Golden Knights…firmly implanted in 2nd place with 46 points in 33 games (22-9-2). Thus far the Golden Knights have kept their players motivated by reminding them that their former teams didn’t’ want them…and…we hear that many NHL teams spend 2-3 nights in Vegas on their trips to Las Vegas….maybe…the visiting teams had their minds distracted a bit, heh? …that’s my hockey word
…receiving the award for winning the battle of the “Best of Early Signing” Award is Clemson. The Tigers signed 4 of the top rated 10 players in the country.
….The Blues found a ‘jump” on their offensive battery… Tage Thompson & Patrik Berglund have recharged the team..at least a bit… at a time when their offensive battery was dead
….finding under his tree the Waterman Trophy for spitting is Jeff Gyorko….it’s not so much the quality but the quantity of the spitting …generally while he’s in the batter’s box
…Tampa Bay Rays received the “Florida Clone” award….following the example of their buddy south of them in Miami…Tampa has indicated that they also would like to “move” high quality players… reason…..cut payroll…..so….Evan Longoria ends up in San Fran….closer Alex Colume has been listed often in trade talks and highly touted starting pitcher Chris Archer sees his name bandied about…so….now BOTH of the MLB teams in Florida will be fielding AAA type teams…ugh!!!
…opening up the “Bob Gibson Interview Award” is Tommy Pham…like Gibson, Pham’s interviews were very direct, blunt, spoken in clearly understandable words and without even the smallest concern for anyone who may be offended by his remarks.
….Aaron Rogers found a watch under his tree so he can determine if he’s seen more on the football field or on commercials
…receiving the “Highway to Heaven” award is Matt Adams…..Adams left the 72-90 Atlanta Braves as a free agent and now has signed with the Washington Nationals 97-65,1st place, most key players are returning for the Nats…no rebuild around him… he’s gotta feel like he’s in heaven now
…receiving the” Johnny Manziel” award for college players totally wrapped up in themselves are the 4 U of Texas players who refused to play against Missouri in the Texas Bowl because they were intending to play pro football…and with 3 more Longhorns suspended for the game…the outcome is looking much brighter for the Tigers.
..the city of Detroit opened up the “you did it again” package….Detroit is the only city to win in one year all three of the major sports titles…in 1935 the Lions won the NFL Tile, the Tigers the World Series and the Red Wings the Stanley Cup! …many baby boomers opened up plenty of positive memories under their tree when they were reminded of Tim McCarver’s entry into the Cards HOF this year. McCarver made his first appearance as a 17 year old in 1959 when he played in 6 games. He was the #1 catcher all through the 60’s….primary catcher of all 3 of the Cards World Series seasons in the 60’s….was part of the “CBC” connection of the 60’s Cards….he and teammate Phil Gagliano graduated from CBC HS in Memphis and Mike Shannon from CBC StL…btw.. Gagliano died in December 2016
…Mizzou & Illinois each opened up an AED device after using it to recusitate the Bragging Rts Basketball game last week…the crowd of 21,000+ enjoyed the 70-64 Illini win. Illinois has now won 5 straight in this streaky series that began in 1980…Illinois currently has won 9 in a row and won 8 in a row another time. The Tigers have winning streaks of 4 in a row twice. Illinois leads Braggin Rights series 32-16. In the 4 years prior to the Bragging Rights game in St. Louis…the Show Me Classic found the same two teams going back & forth between Columbia & Champaign.
…the Harpo Marx award for all of his public words was found under the tree of Mike Girsch, GM of the St. Louis Cardinals…when will he talk?
…picking it up …then dropping it… the “Goose Egg” Award is the U of Missouri Football Staff for their successful recruiting of any of the top 10 St Louis players listed by the StLTODAY staff ….if you’re thinking that these players aren’t good enough…think again….2 players signed with Ohio State, 1 each with Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas.
…John Mozeliak received an updated thesaurus to continue his pattern of using “fresh” words when describing the same ol’ ideas….be good enough to get 3m fans but not good enough to be the very best of the National League
….jointly opening a gift…the Blues & Cards each received a gold star for their production of the Winter Classic…held way back on January 2nd…it drew 46,000+ fans, Blues won 4-1….great memories for all
….belatedly finding the BOB Award for a HOF announcers was Dick Enberg….Enberg passed away earlier this week….like many of the HOF announcers in my personal HOF…. Enberg didn’t use slick sounding language or the latest buzz words that may have pointed to him being the star….he let the excitement of the game speak for itself….his famous expression, “Oh My” after a great play….often said it all
….Drew Brees opened a “born again” envelope as he and his Saints look to be rejuvenated to the point that they almost resemble the only Saints Super Bowl Championship team of 2009
…found under the tree of the Cardinals PR division is the book on Public Honesty by Richard Nixon … Cards have maintained for years of the superior strength of their minor league system….well… if so….the last Cardinal Rookie of the Year was Albert Pujols in 2001. Prior to that award, the Cards won back-back Rookies of the Year in 85-86 with Todd Worrell and Vince Coleman. The Cards do produce plenty of “good” players ….but…not so much when considering developing “stars”.
….for the 3rd consecutive year, finding under this tree as the Winner of the “StL Horses’ Petunia” Award is Stan Kroneke…for most of us…not seeing him at all …is a blessing
….Carlos Martinez found a stack of 400 small paper cups under this tree so that maybe he’ll resume his “splash” after his teammates hit round trippers…. as he did in 2016 but not much in 2017.
…Bob Ryan received a STOP sign under his tree…so…… Happy New Year to all of you….Wishing you all the best in 2018…. YOUR responses are always terrific….respond to any part….If you don’t want your name listed, use your initials..or send it to me and I’ll use your initials to post it… in case you missed some of the most popular articles of the year…..here are a few to consider…

Jan 30 Brady or Belichick ? http://www.prepcasts.com/brady-or-belichick-by-bob-ryan/
Mar 5 BOB Awards http://www.prepcasts.com/bob-awards-by-bob-ryan/
Apr 9 Missing the Goal http://www.prepcasts.com/missing-the-goal-by-bob-ryan/
May 27 Sports Jeopardy http://www.prepcasts.com/sports-jeopardy-by-bob-ryan/
July 3 A Sports 4th of July http://www.prepcasts.com/4th-of-july-by-bob-ryan/
Sep 3 Turning the Page http://www.prepcasts.com/turning-the-page-by-bob-ryan/
Nov 6 World Series Wrap UP http://www.prepcasts.com/world-series-wrap-up-by-bob-ryan/

Trade Sparks Life in Fans by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals acquired heavy hitting, smooth fielding Marcell Ozuna last week….suddenly…it seemed as if the fans were excited …..real excited….again…it was like fresh new life about the Cardinals. Why so?  The Cardinals had six different players with 20+ HR last year, two more with 18….but…none were viewed…at least by the fans… as a “true” power hitter.  Maybe it’s the lingering effect of Mark McGwire who in his two best years in the Lou hit 70 and 65 home runs. He banged out an OPS of  1.22 and 1.12…there was a buzz in the park as he approached the plate…will it be that way now?  Ozuna  banged out 37 dingers last year with 124 RBI’s….a really strong season….it was his “breakout” year.  In the previous 3 years, he slugged 23, 10 and 23 Home runs….rather mediocre…but….it’s said that he disciplined himself more at the plate…laid off pitches out of the strike zone. Another consideration is that Ozuna upgrades our defense.  He was a gold glove player last year and is recognized as a “good” defensive player.  Ozuna has 2 years remaining on his contract. All in all….it appears to be a strong move by MO and his crew.  What about the other Cardinal Moves this winter?

….Acquiring LF Ozuna  and moving Tommy Pham to CF shoves Derrick Fowler to RF.  He’ll be able to cover the ground but his weakest part of his defensive game is his arm.  The RF setting will accentuate that weakness. Last year, runner after runner challenged Fowler on the bases….I can see it happening again…and more often since the throw from RF to 3B is the longest.

…The bullpen may…or may not…need a closer…Tyler Lyons was the 13th best pitcher in the MLB in the 2nd half last season…that surprised me and probably many of you…But…how do we limp our way to the 9th ? Cards Bullpen still requires some attention…Luke Gregerson you say… Gregerson ranked #193 for 2nd half performance last season. He’ll turn 34 in May, had his highest ERA of his career last year with a 4.57 mark.  He did strike out a man per each inning of work… that’s good. ..but what’s around him….. Matt Bowman was #177 & Brett Cecil #180 for the same 2nd half rating. Swing when OH is gone, Rosey is gone. How about bringing some…OK…I’ll settle for 1 or 2 ….of these “Starting prospects”.  Put them in the pen…bring them in every 3rd/4th day to pitch 2-4 innings.  It’d help their arm (less innings expected), help the bullpen (Manifesto can’t keep running 4 different guys out there every day). Make them…or even….him..a steady, regular performer. Eventually I think Waino & Wacha will be swapping roles with these “prospects”.

…A question about the every day lineup….well…we know from 6 years of observation of this manager..the “every day” lineup is the same about 2 days in a row and then is changed..anyway..

As listed now by many “sports sites”….Matt Carpenter is back @ 3B with Jose Martinez @ 1B. Somehow I was under the impression that Martinez had developed in the Cardinals system. Not so..take a look at his career…

February 16, 2006: Signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent.

November 3, 2012: Granted Free Agency.

November 13, 2012: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 5, 2013: Granted Free Agency.

June 20, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 4, 2014: Granted Free Agency.

January 28, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.

May 25, 2016: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals

Last year was outstanding for Martinez—14 HR, 46 RBI, .309 average in 274 AB….can he match it again is the question. Three franchises have already “given up” on Martinez ?!? I really think that he’s an AL type guy…a DH…his fielding is in the lowest echelon of the MLB…

….so what’s next….the talks continue with Tampa Bay…Colume is the primary goal as our closer but I think….nothing except inferences between the lines…the Longoria could be obtained also….Tampa Bay seems to squeak by annually on one of the lowest payrolls in the MLB. With that in mind….can’t trade Carp to them (too costly)….a package of Gyorko (become 3B),  Martinez, 2 or 3 pitching prospects and maybe Carson Kelly(He can’t caddy Yadi again for another year can he?). Kelly’s value drops the longer he sits on the bench.

…Comparisons  of Gyorko & Longoria were interesting…Gyorko will 30 years old this year; Longoria ia 32.  Most would concede that Longoria is a better fielder…due primarily to his wider range.  However.. Gyorko did surprise many with his defensive play in 2017.  Using the small sample size of last year, here’s a snap shot comparison of the two…

                        GP    AB     R    H      2B  3B  HR   rbi  BB  SB   avg   OBP  slug   OPS

Longoria       156   677   71  160   36   2     20    86   46   6   .261  .313  .424  .737

Gyorko          125   426   52  116   21   2     20    67   47   6  .272   .341  .472  .813

 Comparing salaries is amazing close also..

                           2018                2019                2020                2021              2022                2023

Longoria      $13.5m            $14.5m            $15m                $18.5m         $19.5m          $13m

Gyorko          $9m                  $13m                $13m                —-                  —–                 —

Frankly….conceding Longoria has better defense ….his numbers are NOT markedly different when one considers the difference in the number of AB….his long term financial obligations are usually not of the Cardinals ilk…granted, Gyorko wasn’t the same hitter in the 2nd half…..it seemed that the opponents fed him a steady stream of breaking balls to get ahead in the count and then threw him those same breaking balls outside of the strike zone that he chased…on the other hand, Longoria hasn’t been in an All-Star game since 2010….Longoria has the name but is he worth it?

…a team that has really “gone all in” is the LA Angels…..the Angels really changed their team….it used to be Michael Trout, Albert and a bunch of “no names”….not any longer…they picked up Ian Kinsler-2b and Zach Cosart, who will be the 3B….they resigned their clean-up hitter– Justin Upton & his 30 HR.. Andrelton Simmons is a terrific SS and hit .278 last year…Kole Calhoun is solid …of course Michael Trout anchors the lineup. Angels are much improved defensively now and some additional veterans who maybe thinking that this is their last real “shot” at winning…could be fun for the Angel fans.

…another team worth noting is the Philadelphia Phillies….no….I didn’t have some type of “attack” ... the Phillies who feel like that they have a good-enough young starting rotation(2nd half ratings starting pitchers after name-Aaron Nola (#15) Jerd Eickhoff (#91) Ben Lively (#101), Nick Pivetta (#113) Vince Valeasquez (#122) have now solidified their bullpen with the signings of Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. Adding Carlos Santana…middle of the lineup bat….will permit Rhys Hoskins to play daily in the OF. The daily lineup should score some runs….I look for this team to be much improved…..now…don’t go out and bet the farm but  the NL East…other than the Nats.. is wide open…when these “weaker” teams improve….wins become much tougher for the better teams.

…but…the only team that StL baseball fans ask about …outside the Cardinals..are the Cubs… Well.. Chicago has leaned heavily towards the pitching side of things this off-season…SP Tyler Chatwood was signed…Chatwood had been a starter for the Rockies…his numbers away from Colorado were markedly higher than those in Denver…that convinced GM Theo Epstein to sign him.  Cubs headed next to the bullpen where they lost closer Wade Davis to free agency….why won’t they resign Davis?  Epstein doesn’t believe in any contracts for bullpen pitchers for more than 2 years …Davis is asking for 4 years, $60m…. thus… Epstein moved on….Brendan Morrow & Steve Cishek were brought in for the pen …Morrow best known now for his iron-man imitation in the 2017 post-season while Cishek is a veteran relief hurler ….Also purchased was starter Drew Smyly…Smyly is a long term investment…he’s out in 2018 with Tommy John so he’s not even on the back burner. Smyly will be 29 years old when he returns in 2019. His lifetime ERA (5 seasons) is 3.74…myself….I’m doubtful of Morrow’s arm “holding up” after such a strenuous and LONG 2017 post-season…I think Cishek will evolve into the better of the two bullpen acquisitions for our friends in Chicago..btw…the Cubs farm system has been wiped out with trades to assist them in their World Series championship. As a result…not too much help coming up soon that will substantially improve the Cubs.

…Blues time…

…. Some seemed surprised that the Blues are struggling….really?….Schwartz (#1 offensive player on Blues in my book ) and Pietrangelo (#1 defensive player) and Boumeester are out….hockey is different than baseball…these players are on the ice for about 1/3 of the game….Schwartz @ 19:12/game; Pietrangelo for 25:46…baseball you bat 4x in a game (generally) with the average number of plate appearances around 38 per game for a team…probably not the same…but when hockey stars are injured… they’re replaced the 16th/17th best player on the team….you bet that there will be a drop-off…this could be a very rough next 30 days…but….looking at the big picture…it’s all about being at your peak in the playoffs..the REAL NHL season.

….On the High school scene…

….basketball season is in full force…one program that has been unbelievably good for over 60 years is St. Francis Borgia. The Knights success began in 1950 when Coach Ray DeGreef took over the reins of the basketball program. He retired in 1982 with 700+ wins.  5 years later, Dave Neier became the Head Coach. Neier has won 5 State Titles, been in the Final Four 10x and won 21 district championships.  Neier, still leading the Knights, is just 4 wins away from reaching the 700 win plateau himself….so….since 1950…except for 5 years when Neier was assistant coach…. ….three has been only 2  Head Coaches over 67 years (save 5  years when Neier was an Asst Coach) and each coach will have chalked up 700+ wins…what a tribute to them and the school. I’ve never heard of such a legacy..congrats!

….Congratulations to Gabby Blossom…named the StL High School Sports.com Volleyball player of the Year.  Gabby starred at St. Joseph Academy s the Angels won the State Championship… again.  Gabby was recognized for her leadership skills as well as her v-ball skills…not surprising…her Dad is Jay Blossom, the long-time, highly successful boys basketball coach at Webster Groves HS…Everyone who’s seen Jay coach on the sidelines knows that he’s a leader and an “all in” type of guy. I’m thinking that it was probably a lot tougher for him to be in the stands watching his daughter compete for STATE instead of being on the bench as a coach!

…No champions are crowned in December but there is a great deal of excitement on the SouthSide.  The St Mary’s Dragons are 9-0 as we approach Christmas. The Dragons, ranked #1 in small schools by the Post-Dispatch were also ranked #7 by USA-Today-Midwest region.  St. Mary’s will compete in the Coaches vs Cancer Tournament (formerly called the Meramec CC Christmas Tournament) over the Holidays.

…more and more I’m seeing the very good teams compete against each other in non-conference games.  Why not?  EVERY team goes to district…it doesn’t matter if you are 25-0, 24-1, 20-5…the tougher competition that you’ve faced should prepare you for the very tough games in district and beyond.

…..college basketball…

….Cuonzo Martin has piled up a 9-2 record.  Some wins look good…wins over W. Virginia, Iowa St, St Johns & U Cen Florida are worth noting.   Wins over cupcakes Wagner, Emporia St, Long Beach St, Green Bay & N.Florida are just padding the win column so that your team may look better to the NCAA committee in march…..generally, the NCAA doesn’t “fall for it”…btw… why even have a chair behind Coach Martin….have you seen him sit down yet…once? Hopefully, Martin will “sit” in Columbia for a while ….after his 2 predecessors each went only 3 years apiece.

….even Duke has a slip-up now and then….after blasting a cupcake, St. Francis 124-67, the Dukies fell to Boston College 89-84 in their ACC opener. Boston College is now 9-3 for the season.

….College football…

The newly instituted “early signing” period—Dec 20 to Dec 22 begins this week.  It’s the first year of this “early signing”.  Doesn’t seem like it really matters when they sign…Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and a few others will claim most the Blue-chippers. Sometimes these highly touted players live up to the hype…it seem like D-lineman & QB are the best bets….other times…it’s the lesser heralded player who become a star…often O-Lineman, D-Backs develop later…let’s watch it closely.

Well…as the excitement continues for Cardinal fans…lets also enjoy the excitement of the Christmas Season with family & Friends….Merry Christmas!

 

NCAA Football is Like Cinderella by Bob Ryan

Over Thanksgiving I read the story of Cinderella to my grand-daughter….it got me thinking…The NCAA football season and post-season resemble the story of Cinderella…take a look….in late-summer the bids go out…129 invitations are sent out to all the contestants… who will be hoping  that the glass slipper of the NCAA Championship fits them this year.  The contestants arrive being escorted by their dancing partner (coach)… There will be 12 dances(games)…if any contestant slips…or worse…falls..7x …they will be asked to sit out.  Their dancing partner come with various degrees of skill…and or rewarded accordingly. These partners were compensated …some very, very well….for their skill, experience and work throughout the evening. Generally the first 3-5 songs are slow and rather easy to stay in the competition…. the only dancers falling or slipping or the ones who have not invested huge sums of money in learning their craft, improving their athleticism or are poorly led by their dancing partner (coach). The best dancing partner for the football maidens are highly compensated for this evening of dances. As the evening rolls along….the music to the dances picks up the tempo and slips become more prevalent….around the 7th dance…the judges (NCAA committee) begin notifying  the best dancers of their ratings for the entire evening. Now during these dances….mysterious things seem to happen…some dancers get bit by the injury-bug and can no longer continue.  Other dancers looked brilliant in the earlier, slower dances but were unable to compete in the faster, higher paced songs. Still other dancers are breezing along until suddenly they get knocked over by a weaker dancer…sometimes that fall is fatal towards the final voting by the NCAA judges. Some dancers who were highly rated prior the dance beginning are found to be only average and certainly not worthy of any dances beyond the original 12 dances.  By the 9th or 10th dance….most dancers have at least 2 or 3 slips…..a fall is disastrous (losing big)…the judges really lean to the dancers with the experienced, well-known  partners or dancers who have made the “final” room frequently…. at the end of the 12th dance…56 dancers are invited into the “bowl” room….this is the expected goal of each of the dancers…any dancing partner not achieving this appointment to the “bowl” room is usually removed on the way out of the ball room…. just 4 dancers are invited into the BCS room to dance…who would the glass slipper fit?  There were just 2 dances more…always there were slips by two of the dancers in the 1st dance….sooo…the BCS final dance would determine which dancer wears the “glass slipper”.  The dancing partner was assured …if he wished…to return the following year…the maiden was thrilled that the glass slipper fit…but it was only a temporary fit…starting 8 months later….it would no longer fit…and the process will begin all over again

…the 2017 committee(judges in Cinderella) had 3 direct, easy choices- Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia…the last spot was between the Big 10 Champion-Ohio State and Alabama…a 1 loss team that didn’t make it to its conference championship….both teams are good..very good…I lean towards Ohio State….they played 4 teams in the top 12 of the rankings (at the time when they played)… beat #2 Penn State; beat #4 Wisconsin, lost to #5 OU (a NCS semifinalist); and beat #12 Michigan State..their blemish was a disastrous 55-24 loss to Iowa(7-5)…the Big Ten commissioner made the point that the Big-10 plays 9 conference games (most of any conference…hinting that upsets will occur more often..Alabama played 4 teams in the top 16 of the rankings…Beat Florida ST in opening week..who was ranked #3  in pre-season.. but finished 6-6…Bama also beat #19 LSU 24-10, #16 Miss State and lost to #6 Auburn 26-14…and the team that beat them…Auburn…was a 3 loss team….the Crimson Tide did play Mercer (FCS team) for one of their wins…Personally….I don’t think that ANY wins over FCS teams should count towards any positive consideration for a national title and should actually be counted AGAINST them for scheduling such a weak-sister…

OK….now away from the mythical world of Cinderella and NCS final 4…and go directly to the FIRING SQUAD…..ya know…the life of a SEC football coach seems to be about as long as a worm trying to crawl across a major 8 lane highway at 4:00pm on a Friday.. good luck!…take a look at the turnover…there have been Six SEC coaches..almost half the league..  fired since the July 2017… 

…The most notable was LSU firing Les Miles 4 games into the season (his 12th)… Miles had very impressive credentials –record of 114-34 (77%), five Top 10 finishes, 2 national title game appearances and 1 national title (2007) …what was the reasoning provided?…well.1)  his teams had slipped to 8-5 and 9-3 over the last 2 seasons 2) Alabama & Auburn (combined) had won 5 national titles since LSU last won their last title 3) final straw…ranked #18, trailing Auburn 18-13 with just seconds to go…LSU scored what appeared to be a game winning touchdown on the last play of the game but upon review …it was determined that the play missed getting snapped by a micro-second..negating the TD…thus LSU lost the game…result LSU goes 2-2 & Miles was shown the exit. Btw…had that played remained it would have been Auburn’s 3rd loss of the season and….there isn’t any way that the Tigers would still be in the BCS talk with 3 losses… one play taken away by a replay changed the fate of both of these teams.

…The Firing season began At Ol’ Miss….Hugh Freeze (Mississippi) was fired July 19th in a scandal….interestingly, Hugh Nutt (Freeze’s predecessor) had been accused of improper ethics and sued U of Mississippi for defamation… his lawyer then turned over the material to the NCAA .. and… it turns out that these improprieties and others… like several phone contacts to “special dating services”… took place under Freeze’s watch… bye-bye Hugh. Money doesn’t seem to matter to these SEC schools …who apparently … are rolling around in cash…Freeze had just signed a contract in 2015 that raised his salary to  $4.8m for 2017.

…Jim McElwain was fired by Florida on Oct 29…McElwain had won two of the last 3 SEC East championships. The 42-7 loss to Georgia sealed his fate days prior to his firing…they said, “his program has gone off the rails”  I guess losing several players(7) for the season …including one of top receivers in NCAA .. for inappropriate off-field actions doesn’t carry much weight.

…Butch Jones (Tennessee) fired Nov 12.  The fatalistic blows….1) no wins in SEC this year 2) severe loss to our Mizzou Tigers…his buyout should tidy him over quite well–$8.125m

…Brett Bielema (Arkansas) was notified as he walked off the field after his final game… boy.. how would you liked to have been in THAT locker room..”well…boys…you lost to Mizzou today and I lost my job….which is worse?” After taking his team to 3 straight bowls Bielema failed to do so in the last 2 years and was 4-8 this year..bye-bye

…Kevin Sumlin (Tx A&M)…had been over .500 in all 6 of his seasons…no losing seasons…a bowl appearance each year  but he was viewed as being “stuck in the middle of the SEC West pack”….he’ll heal his wounds with a $10m buyout and it appears that he’s set for another job.

…another opening just popped up at Mississippi State  as Head Coach Dan Mullen has decided to accept the more lucrative job ($30m) @ Florida. Mullen was 69-46 in a place that had been commonly accepted as the door-mat of the SEC West. He’ll now have a far larger budget to use in this recruiting, hiring of ast coaches, etc.   The replacement for him is of the same mold as Mullen (no prior head-coaching experience)-Penn State off Coordinator-Joe Moorhead. 

Sports odds & ends…

…SLU basketball is really having trouble scoring…66 ppg and a dearth of scoring from beyond the arc…also depth is a real issue as only 7 players are averaging more than 7.6 min/game…. one has to wonder what is delaying judgment on the 3 “accused” players …it seems like there has been adequate time to reach a fair judgment for all involved….  the pre-season hype led us …or maybe just me…to think that after 6 games the record…and level of play…. would be better than 3-3…but as I write this…the best record in the  A-10 is 4-2 so hang on until conference play ….things could improve.

…watched most of Mizzou-Cent Florida bball game…Tigers won…struggled… but won….some personnel observations–Sr Jordan Bartnett was the best player for Mizzou on that night… Frosh Jontay Porter…who skipped his Senior year of HS appeared to be “over his head”…very limited time, shot a hurried air ball…looks like he actually need that 4th year of HS. Frosh Ctr Jeremiah Tilmon continues to be plagued by foul issues…the opposition realizes that weakness so they work hard to feed the post man that Tilmon is guarding. It’s early in the season…so quick development should be coming…at least hopefully… over the next 4-6 weeks  for these Freshman players…or it’ll be another long season in CoMO.

….keeping up with our Blues….that “thud” you just heard was the Blues as they were flat on a 5 game home stand going 2-3… on the bright side ..at the ¼ mark of the season, Jaden Schwartz leads the league 5 on 5 average assists for 60 min @ 1.73…he also is the leader with the same parameter @3.81.  the white elephant in the room is the play of Jake Allen…sure.. he does make many terrific saves but…his Goals against is 2.77 (21st in league), his save % is .907 (25th in the league)….now…granted…many goals may be due to inefficient defense in front of the net, spectacular shots or whatever…but the fact remains…at this moment…the Blues are giving up too many goals to go deep in the playoffs….on the immediate radar for the next game  is the historic Montreal Canadians…Montreal will be in an angry mood after being embarrassed by Detroit 10-1 on Saturday night…ten goals!…coming from a team (Detroit) who holds a mediocre 10-12-5 record.

…on the boys HS basketball scene….we’re very, very early in basketball season…in snapshot view…some clubs off to a good start.. In North County…Hazelwood Central & McCluer North are each 3-0, Parkway Central3-0) who won the Parkway round-robin looks to return to the MSHSAA  State Tournament again this year. St. Mary’s 6-0-won the Alton tip-off Classic – plays large school, CBC on Friday night as the Cadets (2-2) play their 1st game in Missouri this year. Other unbeaten teams are –St Charles Pirates 4-0, Orchard Farm Eagles 3-0 and Mehlville Panthers are 3-0 after winning the South Side Classic. Vashon is 3-0 with 2 very impressive road wins over Charleston & Whitney Young. Some schools have only played a game or two in this early season play..some of the above teams are looking to go deep in STATE …others are happy that they have started out of the starting blocks quickly.

…defense wins…we hear it all the time…in NCAA D-1 team defense (written prior to this weekend’s game)…Wisconsin was #1 in team defense and the Big Ten had 4 of the top 9 schools in that category…does that mean that the Big 10 is THAT good on defense or that the offense in that league isn’t the best in college football. The #1 team in Team offense is Oklahoma…no surprise there..7122 total yards, averaged 8.56 yds/play.

…a statistical gold nugget for you…Drew Lock is #5 in the NCAA D-1 in passing yards with 3695 yards. Mizzou is 14th in the USA in passing yards (due to Lock)! The most amazing stat(s) to me is that Lamar Jackson (Louisville) is 10th in NCAA in passing with 3489 yards AND 10th in rushing with 1433 yards—5300+ yards of offense for him.WOW!  Thanks for dancing with me through Cinderella…the glass slipper doesn’t fit me… but neither does the firing squad…. so I’m OK .  Thx for reading.

It’s all Blue(s) by Bob Ryan

The Blues have now played just a bit more than a ¼ of their season….there’s a lot of good going on with the “Note” but there are some sports fans “blue” because of recent or long-time ailments…take  a look first at the Blues…

…In the revamped rules of the NHL , scoring has increased…as it was intended to be.  It’s imperative to have scoring now in the NHL….yes defense still has to be solid…particularly in playoff time…but….you have to score to win to be a true contender.  Playoffs are a different matter…less penalties makes defenders stronger.With that as the premise… the St Louis Blues are moving in the right direction.  As of Sunday night the Blues had 84 goals… at #2 in goal scoring in the NHL..but…they had the most points & most wins…. The Blues were a +21 in goals vs goals against… Tampa Bay is #1 in goals ..2 more than the Blues. Meanwhile….if you’re wondering about the best defensive teams….San Jose has given only 50 goals..but have scored just 58..their record? 12-8-2….it seems clear to me that a NHL team must score to be a contender in these days. Some of key the scorers for the Blues  have been obtained in trades…but clearly not all… Jaden Schwartz was the #1 choice in 2010.…but….in 2009, the Blues drafted @#17 in the 1st round and selected David Rundblad…Rundblad was sent to Ottawa on June 25, 2010 for the 16th overall draft pick…and that choice was Vladimir Tarasenko. So the Blues in that year, chose Schwartz @ #14 & Tarasenko @ #16…WOW what a draft!  Now…I might add as I scoured through the Blues drafts in recent years, I seldom recognized ANY NHL players from the later rounds …that is…past round 1…that’s not so good…. Recently acquired Braden Schenn was drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 draft with the #5 overall pick by the LA Kings.  He was moved to Philly and now lands ….at the height of his career (26 years old) in my mind…in the Lou. The Blues sharp drafting in recent years with their 1st choice– 2014-Robby Fabbri; 2015-Vince Dunn; 2016-Tage Thompson; 2017-two 1st rounders-Robert Thomas & Klim Kosten look very solid… now I’m not a hockey expert…some would say that I know very little…but…I’m thinking on my gut from what I’ve read (haven’t seen him play yet) is that Kostin will be a good…maybe very good… player for the Blues.  Obviously…wise draft picks are the lifeblood of any team….take a look at the names that I recognize that have been Blues contributors from pre-2009 drafts….

2008-1st round-Alex Pietrangelo; 2nd-Jake Allen                 two good to very good Blues

2007—1st-Lars Eller; 2nd-Ian Cole;  3rd-David Perron        Perron is the best of a weak crop

2006-1st Eric Johnson; 2nd-Patrick Berglund        

2005-1st-TJ Oshie; 3rd-Ben Bishop; 5th-Ryan Reaves        solid  players with lengthy careers  

2004-6th-Roman Polak                                                                

….while we’re on the ice…it’s good to see that the Blues have found a suitable location for a new practice rink…apparently the area in Maryland Heights will have many other attractions, stores and places of interest to draw spectators to the area…if I understand it correctly, the facility will be kept in use by floods…maybe a poor choice of words in Maryland Heights… of youth teams –practices and games.   

But…some people are “Blue” or wear Blue…

…in Columbia, MO…many are really “Blue” with the latest medical news on Michael Porter Jr…the excitement of the 17-18 bubble burst with the announcement that he was undergoing back surgery and out for the season.   As I mentioned last week…something just didn’t seem right with the lack of news about Porter…this injury may or may not cause Porter to skip his college career and go directly to the NBA. While we’re on it…fans are clamoring for the NBA to abolish the current rule of “1 year” in college…as we all know…it really isn’t a meaningful year….those “1 & done” players…take the lowest, simplest courses in the 1st semester and then register but barely attend any classes in the 2nd semester … to me…it’s makes a shame of the word “student”.  For years the NBA did allow HS graduates to try to go directly to the NBA…some stars “made it”…Kobe, LaBron and a few others….but many, many others tried and were way over their head, failed and then floundered around aimlessly…and very BLUE…not only in basketball but in their life…..sooo…the NBA “thought” that the year of maturity would help them…I agree but don’t use the sham of being called a “student”…it’s an insult to the real students….how about trying to draft them out of High school but…have their developmental league expand and assimilate these youngsters into the pro basketball world in the D-League.. a mild version of the MLB minor league system…..sure some will still fail…but at least they will have experienced a year..or two.. of maturity on and off the court.

…The Blue & White of St Louis U basketball are really blue after dropping a 72-70 game to D-II Detroit-Mercy. The Bills shot 6 of 24 from the 3pt range against the Titans zone, played just 7 players(depth?), and shot 12 of 20 from the free throw line…all in all…good reason to feel blue. I suspect the Bills will be seeing many more zones until they prove that they can score against it consistently.

…the Blue & Gold of Pittsburgh stunned #2 ranked Miami U with their 24-14 victory. The “U” …when at their best …are highly energized and very emotional but not on this day.  They were meticulously, methodically beaten by Pitt. The game was actually much, much closer than the final score. Pitt scored a TD in the last 2 minutes of the game on a QB bootleg.  The Panthers used a balanced attack 192 passing yards & 152 rushing yards.  On the other side of the ball, Miami had just 41 rushing yards so with only the passing dimension available-it was stymied at 171 yards.

…in the Nearly Forgotton League…Denver is suffering through the most  “Blue”….given strong pre-season ratings…the Broncoes are 3-7 and getting worse…of course…like almost always in the NFL…the problem begins and ends at QB…Trevor Siemian led Denver to 3 wins in first 4 weeks…but after the bye week, the wheels fell off and then Siemian was injured…. now Broncs have lost 6 in a row…ugh… could they lure the venerable Payton Manning away from his hundreds of commercials these days….hmmmm?….NO

…in the midst of success on the field, Mizzou Tigers football program is a bit blue about recruiting…. not on the same public scale as MPJ’s injury… but impacting the future  nonetheless…James Foster, one of the 1st Tigers 2 recruits of 2018, is “going back” on his commitment.  Foster is the 3rd of the 3 Alabama recruits who have all recanted on their commitment of last fall to Mizzou. Foster is a highly rated QB and with Drew Lock now appearing to… at the minimum…considering entering the draft THIS year (his Jr year)… a solid QB replacement is vital for the Tigers immediately. …We can’t leave Mizzou football without recognizing the tremendous turn-around. As I pointed out last week, the Tigers still haven’t beaten a +.500 team…but….7 wins is 7 wins…congrats to Barry Odom for keeping his team together…..personally, I can’t see Drew Lock coming back for his Senior year next year….why take the chance of injury?

…football fans of the Blue & Gold of Michigan U are a bit blue as rumors circulate about Jim Harbaugh….Harbaugh has been on 4 year cycles as a head coach…4 years @ U of San Diego, 4 years @ Stanford and 4 years @ 49’ers…3 years are now under his belt now @ Michigan and rumors about returning to the NFL make the Wolverine fans concerned …many thought that he’d be a lifer like Bo Schemblacher .

…an accepted…but probably grossly underappreciated commodity takes the snaps for the Blue-Clad Detroit Lions….QB Matthew Stafford who entered the league in 2009 as the 1st overall pick of the draft was the fastest QB to reach 20,000, 25,000, and 30,000 passing yards in a career…now he has passed for more yards than any QB under 30 years of age…he passed up Payton Manning and broke the record of 33,189 yards this past weekend…without post-season play and wins…recognition is scant… sooo.. Stafford remains rather anonymous.

…the NCAA football committee is anything BUT blue…the committee now will have the conference championship games to whittle their field down to 4 teams for the NCS bowl games.  The winners of these championship games should  be in the NCS  Bowl  games—1) ACC champ-Miami or Clemson; 2) the SEC champ; 3) Big Ten Champ  4) the Big 12 champ. From my own view, I don’t see any conference that deserves two teams. At this particular moment, I’d have as my Final Four…who cares who’s #1, #2, #3, #4…each of these teams is good..very good..their only benefit of a higher seed is to wear white uniforms….who cares…my  top four are Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn. It’s becoming increasingly clear that losses in the first 3 weeks of the season don’t matter as “much” as losses late in the season.

…on the High School level….

Some very familiar teams competed in the Championship again…Why is it that the same schools are “always there?” Most of these smaller schools don’t usually have many…if any… high level D-1 players…it’s  the superb coaching that leads the team diligently though the off season work, staying current in their football schemes, evaluating talent, building a football culture around the school  and making in-game adjustments. Congratulations to all  the of these outstanding teams for great seasons… even those that lost Championship games.

…the Blue & White of Ladue fell to the Webb City Cardinals 14-0. For the Cardinals it was their 14th state football championship.  Defense and terrific line-play were outstanding for both teams as the score was an ol’ fashioned-like 7-0 until the last 0:58 when the Cardinals scored their 2nd TD of the game. It’s really incredible… I must say I was a bit blue when I read that the Ladue team had left the 2nd place trophy “rest” on the turf after it was presented to them.  I’ve always thought sports was about working your hardest to win but accepting defeat graciously when you fall short.

…the Lamar Tigers had made most…if not all of their opponents “blue” in recent history… Lamar won its 7th straight Class 2 championship over Lafayette County 37-20. The game was close ..16-14…at the end of the 3rd quarter as Lamar held onto a narrow lead. AT the 7:24 mark of the 3rd, it all changed.  Trevor Medlin (5ft 6 in) galloped 48 yds for a TD…on the ensuring KO, Lamar recovered a fumble…3 plays later..another Lamar TD…party was over…Congrats to Head Coach Scott Bailey! Lamar has won 49 straight games, the Tigers graduate 17 seniors but don’t expect a huge dropoff @ Lamar next year.

…”title town” is the description that the Monroe City players used in referring to the Blue-clad Valle Catholic Warriors. Valle has won 14 state football championships. Valle has players whose fathers, uncles and other relatives won state titles…it’s seemingly in their blood.Their tradition goes all the way back to 1966 (2 years before Missouri had HS state championships). Valle not only won every game…they shut out every opponent!  But…here in 2017…the Warriors fell just short…. Monroe City fell behind 7-0 in the 1st quarter, then scored in the 2nd quarter but missed the extra point and was still behind 7-6 until the 3rd quarter when they scored again  and held onto the 12-7 win.

I hope YOU aren’t blue because of the blog….have a great week!

 

Seriously? by Bob Ryan

You know how it is…you say something that another person believes is “way out” or totally unbelievable and they respond “seriously”….

Cardinal Baseball….

….Soooo…MO flys out to talk personally with Fowler to make sure that he’s OK with not being the CF….seriously??  Who’s in charge here…who’s running the asylum? These are professional athletes…paid handsomely to perform whenever and wherever they are directed to do so by their management people…. and…what if he’d said NO?

….MO also says that we don’t need starting pitching….seriously? the Cards were 6th in the NL in ERA @ 4.01….the 5 teams ahead of them were all playoff teams….look at our rotation …. it’s Martinez, the W crew (Wainwright, Wacha, Weaver)  and Flaherty.  Flaherty started 6 games last year, ERA of 6.33, batters hit .284 against him and he had a WHIP (walks& hits per inning) of 1.55….hopefully he make the necessary improvements to be a productive pitcher…..Wacha & Wainwright both struggled through arm issues and up & down performances throughout 2017….will that change? Reyes won’t be a full time starter until 2019. I read that the Birds are looking for a seasoned, inexpensive 5th starter….my gut says that our choice may come from this foursome…. Miguel Gonzalez, Miles Mokolas, Jason Vargas  or Michael Pineda…Vargas was good in 1st half of 2017, bad in the  2nd half…he’ll come around $9m/year…. count on the same thing happening in 2018 and then..in my view… bring in Reyes for the 2nd half of the season in his rotation spot. The other 3 pitchers are far less expensive…and probably… less effective.

….firing someone who isn’t current… Seriously? so when we heard that Derek Lilliquest was not being rehired, there was all this talk about “not staying current”, “doesn’t use metrics”… seriously??…so the Cards hire former Washington Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux….what happens to Lilliquest…he gets hired by the Washington Nationals!!  I guess that they don’t use metrics there or they view it differently. I think the message of all these pro coaches … pitching or hitting…becomes stale after 4-5-6 years and a change is useful.

…we’ve been hearing about the great Cardinal  pitching  on the way up….seriously?  The only Cardinal rookie to show up on the top 40 rookie pitching numbers in the MLB in 2017…. pushing aside the hype was John Brebbia. The only fans that knew about HIM prior to this season were his family ….so when will these other starters begin to shine?

…the Cards won’t miss Lance Lynn…seriously?  In 2017 Lynn was 2nd on the team in innings, had the lowest ERA of any starter @ 3.43 (Martinez was 3.64) had the lowest batting average against him of any starter 2.23.. Martinez 2.32.. and Lynn was 2nd in WHIP of the Cards starters with a 1.23…Martinez was #1 at 1.22. 2017 was the last “cheap” year for the Cards with Martinez..it was $3.7m….next year it jumps up to $11.7m

Basketball….

….hiding game 1 injury? Seriously? come on… sooo…Michael Porter “tweaks” his hip in warm ups prior to the 1st game…plays 2 minutes in that game and doesn’t play the rest of  that game or any of  the next game…or the one after that….Seriously??  Sounds more like he hurt himself long before the game but didn’t want to dampen the spirits of the packed house  @ Mizzou Arena by announcing his injury….now he’s still sitting on the bench with the same  baffling  injury … whatever it is…it sounds much more severe than a “Hip tweak”….it seems like Mizzou has gone to the same “injury disclosing” policy as the Cards.

…SLU basketball will be better than last year..seriously? This team is already FAR better than last year..the stunning win over Va Tech…an NCAA tournament team last year As they finished 7th in the ACC…the Billikens controlled the tempo throughout the game with a continual, yet , long possession that often ended up with VT rebounders outside & their guards inside….the Bills got back on d  to take away the layups of a fast break team that had scored over 120 points in each of their 1st 2 games, fought off the late charge by the Hokies (do you cringe when you hear that name)..and…a big one…by knocking down enough late  FT. The next night SLU didn’t have the depth, legs or emotion to compete with Providence but .. nonetheless .. it was a successful 2 game tournament…beating one good team on the road.

…all W’s are the same…Seriously?  Mizzou basketball team opens their season by playing a big 12 team…Iowa State…a good team to open the basketball season but then they played Wagner?  Seriously??….look at who else is on this “Wagner” schedule…New Jersey Institute of Technology…whom they “crushed” 60-49…pardon my sarcasm….College of Staten Island, University of Massachusetts Lowell, St Francis Brooklyn, Bryant University, Central Connecticut State U…you get the idea….what are we doing playing this type of team? We have plenty of D-2 or D-3 teams in Missouri…if they want cupcakes….. keep the “blood money” games in State.

…St. Louisian Jayson Tatum has adapted to the NBA…seriously??….he’s been very, very good not just “adapted”. He recently scored 19 points to help the Boston Celtics to their 13th straight win as they toppled Brooklyn 109-102. He’s 6th in scoring for rookies with 13.3 ppg and his 47.6% from the 3 point range is the best of all rookies. Already…he’s noted as being very consistent…not too high or low mentally in the nightly world of NBA ball.

NCAA Football

…11-0 and not in top 4 …seriously? So Wisconsin beats #24 Michigan 24-10 to stay unbeaten…what else can a team do?  Some say..play tougher teams….well….the schedule is drawn up many years in advance.. can you tell me who’s going to be good in 2027? Wisconsin doesn’t have a glitzy star player, a flashy back or receiver, or a QB with a strong arm/fast legs or big head …they just have outstanding line play on both sides of the ball, don’t get beat defensively and WIN every game!! If they beat Ohio State…how can they be kept out?

.…Mizzou romps past Vanderbilt with ease as the Tigers were clearly the best team on the field..I’m not totally surprised on Aug 27  I wrote, “Mizzou football doesn’t have many strong believers….I’m thinking that this club can win 7 games”…now I must admit in the month of September I was shaking my head at what I had written.

….Mizzou football has turned the corner….seriously???  While most of us are pleased that the Tigers are finishing strong and clearly raising our hopes, Mizzou’s victories to this point are  all over sub .500 teams—look at their records–MO State 3-7, Idaho 3-6, U Conn 3-7, Florida 3-6, Tennessee, Vanderbilt & Arkansas are all 4-6 as I write this on Fri…you have to beat some good teams to be considered “good”….playing good teams & losing doesn’t make YOU good.. while we’re moving upward… we aren’t close to playing a New Years Day bowl yet.

…changing of some of the Big 5 college football conferences is coming again….seriously??  Apparently Texas is considering moving to the SEC..this would add an impact name-brand to the SEC, a school with a huge following and get Texas out of the Longhorn network…which many other schools feared and has back-fired..currently that agreement with ESPN has resulted in a net loss of $48m for Texas…the Texas move to SEC  would lead to the demolition of the Big 12…if Texas moves on…is OU far behind?… then Ok State will be walking in their footsteps..

…a 24-17 game exciting?  Seriously?  watching the Notre Dame-Navy football game was a treat…ND clearly had the better athletes who were larger, could run faster, throw better but the Naval Academy utilizing the wish bone to consume time took it down to the final play before losing 24-17. Navy, like all the military academies, play very smart football, fundamentals to the highest level and no showboating…it’s a team effort.  As an American citizen & sports fan…one has to be proud of the total performance of the Navy football team. These future military leaders have already shown their stripes and will lead us in battles far greater than on a football field!

… Mark Richt fired at Georgia after 2015 season for not meeting expectations…seriously??? He went 9-3 that year, for his 15 years at Georgia  he was 145-51, took them to 15 straight bowls,  was ranked in the top 10 final poll 8x….he’s moved to Miami U now….he went 9-4 last year and is 10-0 this year… sometimes…maybe many times…fans lose touch with how good things are going..btw.. Georgia has kept going..they are 9-1 this year… Barry Odum ..who already is 5th longest tenured SEC coach…better continue to win and win big…see next note

..NCAA final four, seriously?  How can 1 man do it while a large, talented committee works feverishly each week…anyway… the Bob Championship Four at this time are:  1) Alabama  2) Miami  3) Oklahoma 4) Wisconsin

HIGH School Football…

…….hardly any sports fan in St. Louis has heard of Lamar High School Football…seriously?  They’ve only won 6 straight Class 2 Missouri state championships…which NO ONE else has ever done… and haven’t lost a game of any kind since Oct 17, 2014…the Game of the day on Saturday was the 7-6 win for Lamar over Lutheran North in Class 2 semifinals.  In a crunching battle with athletes far above the norm for a Class 2 game. Lamar has outscored their opponents this year an incredible 589 points to just 80.  I’m hoping that Head Coach Scott Bailey will continue to upgrade his non-conference schedule next year and incorporate some additional Class 3 or Class 4 teams.

…it wasn’t the offense, seriously? Congratulations to the CBC Cadets who won the Class 6 championship on Saturday… generally this year the Cadets pulverized the opposition with their offense but on this day, it was the defense that stood up to the always tough Blue Springs Wildcats 31-14. For Blue Springs it was the 2nd consecutive loss in the State Championship game. The Cadet defense stiffened in the 1st half…after the Wildcats had moved into the red zone twice …but were stopped and on both occasions the FG attempts were missed. The key play of the game, however,  was in the 3rd quarter when CBC led 7-6, Blue springs was marching down the field… in hopes of grabbing the lead and their 6th state title…CBC’s Taylor Robinson intercepted a Chase Donahue pass to stop the drive and flip the momentum. CBC scored shortly thereafter and from then on it was Cadet time as they won the 2nd state football championship in the school’s history. Early in the 2000’s the KC area dominated the championships of the largest classification but now the StL teams have won 3 of the last 4 Class 6 championship games. Blue Springs won back-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

Odds & Ends…

…radio entertainment, seriously?  The Mike & Mike Show was an enjoyable radio show that I often listened to as I battled traffic on Hwy 270 on my way to teach each morning….Mike Golic (former NFL d-lineman) and Mike Greenfield(golden tongue from Northwestern)…had a fast moving, thought provoking show with great interaction, laughs, personal thoughts and much information  with many interviews from knowledgeable guests…it ended its 17 year run on Friday…kudo’s to both Mike’s for their wonderful entertainment over a long period of time…we’ll miss the two of them as a pair…. as they go their separate ways.

The NFL….Nearly Forgotten League…

…Jerry Jones wants the best for the league…seriously?   He was all “FOR” Roger Dumbnall until King Roger suspended Ezkiel Elliott…or tried suspending him on several occasions…then suddenly Ol’ Rog is being paid too much….$50m….seriously?  $50m for ONE year…that salary is more than 100 times more than the President of the USA($400,000)

…The NFL is diversion for many…probably most..fans…it’s an escape from reality for a couple hours ? Seriously?? The football game has become a side show at the entertainment circus… with all the protests, constant replays, the players in court, the appeals– he can’t play..he can play..he can’t play…ugh… both of the lawyers  representing the NFL & Elliott must have attended the Marcia Clark/ Christopher Darden School of Law…wonder if Elliott had to try on a glove? 

…Some think Matthew Stafford is the most overlooked QB in the NFL…seriously?   How about Drew Brees?  Brees is currently 3rd in all-time passing yards with 68, 509…he’s behind Bret Favre  71,838 and #1 is Payton manning 71, 940. Sooo…with another good, full year, Brees could take over the NFL QB with the most passing yards…why don’t we ever think of him?  If your team doesn’t get deep into NFL playoffs with regularity…many discard you as a “great” QB and New Orleans has often been closer to the bottom than the top of their division….some other interesting..obscure… QB  with high numbers in total passing yards..Vinney Testaverde is #13…he played for 7 teams with 46,233 yards; Kerry Collins is #16 (6 teams) 40,922; Jim Hart is #27.. 34,665 yards and is the only QB in top 30 who retired in the 80’s …all the other guys above him retired in the 90’s or later and when the game had changed into much more of a passing game.

…you say that the Rams former coaching staff wasn’t outdated….seriously?  Who leads the league in total offensive yards right now?… a Ram back-Todd Gurley (754 rushing, 406 receiving). Meanwhile QB  Jared Goff… who looked way over his head in his 1st year…  is  now 8th in the league in passing yards with 2385 yards and  1st in passing yards per attempt. I hope Jeff Fisher has a good fishing pole to use in all his free time because his NFL Head Coaching days are gone…forever.

Finally…seriously?

…so this blog is finally over, seriously?  Yep…you’ve hung on long enough 

 

 

Not Off-Season but GM Season by Bob Ryan

Baseball General managers DO work year round…they have to adjust rosters due to in-season injuries, in-season lack of production, international drafts & contacts, keep an eye on the minor league players development, amateur drafts, sign or resign players…so there is plenty to do for them…but….this next 10 weeks is really the GM season.  This is the time when rosters can be modified…mildly or drastically….with trades and now…more often…free agent signings….for the Cardinals this is a HUGE GM season.

…The Cards have head loudly and clearly from their strong fan base that change is expected… real change…a supreme power hitter, a closer and a reshaped bullpen, a starter, and probably a 2nd power hitter of less skill….and a general reshaping of the team…..all these seem to be the goals of Cardinal nation.

…Cards management team is under real PRESSURE….the fan base is expecting a lot of them.. this High pressure expectations is the highest of any point in my memory… sure the fan base is spoiled….totally spoiled by a run of two decades of consistent post-season appearances ala Atlanta in the 90’s…none the less the bar has been raised… and the Cards image still fights the idea that percolates around the Lou that the the DeWitts are penny-pinching in the world of free-flowing cash income with 3mil @ turnstiles, ballpark village busting at the seems, part ownership in Fox-Midwest and now a huge 3 building complex…I don’t know if that’s true…but …perception does become reality in our minds.

….but at the core of this is the GianCarlo Stanton issue…..many, many Cardinal fans are expecting him to be wearing the Birds on the Bat uni next spring….his enormous contract…it raises to $25m next year, 2019& 20 -$26m,  2021&22-$29m, 2023, 24, 25-$32m, 2026-$29m, 2027& 28-$25m…he’s 29 years old next year so at his peak payment years he’ll be 34,35 and 36 years old…Albert again you say?  Further, Stanton can opt-out after 2020 and the club could buy him out after 2028 for a measly $10m….But….right now…do YOU expect the Cardinals to get him and would you say anything short of that is not enough?  I’d love to read Your thoughts…my feeling about the fan base is that they DO EXPECT to obtain him. ..and the Cards management is hearing and feeling the PRESSURE to make a “BIG MOVE”

….In this age of power HR hitters….this insatiable appetite for more HR for the Cards seems strange to me….StL was 8th in the NL in HR…most of the playoff teams were ahead of us but not by a huge amount… the Cards were 7th in the NL in runs scored.. ultimately the goal of the offense…score runs…in any shape or form…fielding wise the Cards were 8th in the NL in fielding percentage, on the mound the Cards were 6th in team ERA at 4.01….the Dodgers …far and away…have the best team ERA at 3.38…so of the 15 NL teams, we’re in the top half but not the top third across the board in hitting, fielding & pitching….from where I sit …we need improvements in ALL areas  not just in acquiring one gigantic boom-buster.

…I DO think that the Cards will modify their sites and aim for Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna of Miami..Yelich will be 26 years old in early December…he hit 18 HR in 2017.. a modest total but committed just 1 error, stole 16 bases, hit .282 in 156 games…the most games ANY Cardinal played last year was Matt Carpenter at 145 games…so he’s durable, can run, play defense and is young ….btw…Yelich earns $7m this by 2022 he’s at $15m..a million here… a million there…what the heck..

…Ozuna is listed as 27 years of age….as many of you know…I’m always very skeptical of the given ages of Latin American players….I’d do the same….I’d take a couple years off of my age when signing time approached….anyway…be it as it may….Ozuna is a step above Yelich in most areas…he’s more of a slugger/hitter…37 HR-3rd in NL &  3rd in NL in RBI with 124, his .317 average last year was 7th in the league, , was 4th in NL in Hits-191, silver slugger in 2017…he’s more durable than ANY of our current OF….159 games played-4th in league AND to me this important area..is a better defensive OF than anyone that we currently have on our roster…he was a 2017 gold glove, has played CF previously but his year was LF who was ranked #1 in NL in range factor of LF…pls don’t ask how they calculate that ??!! :).. was 2nd in the NL as a LF with 10 assists last year. In 2018, Ozuna is 2nd year arbitration eligible…so his salary of $3.5m will double or triple.  I’d favor Ozuna over Yelich…I would offer Grichuk, &/or Fowler, and 1 or 2 pitching prospects…1 very high level, the other younger & more uncertain.

…while I’m at it…this “prospects” that the Cards treasure so dearly….in my mind, this word “prospects” has its roots in the word “prospectors”…ya know those guys digging for gold…and we know how many of them actually found gold…same in baseball…how many of these “prospects” actually turn into “gold” type players…amount the same level as the gold miners found back in the day. 

….the Cards MUST sign a closer and step up the quality of the 7th/8th inning performers. The latest trend is to go short term with these bullpen arms…you never know when their arm will go “kaput”.  Look for Birds to sign an experience closer…maybe not the highest quality but still effective to a 1 or 2 year deal. Rookie Sandy Alcantara will be our 7th or 8th inning guy when the season begins and may be our closer by the end of the year. This 22 year old will be a replica of Trevor Rosenthal…his blazing fastball & slider are 1 or 2 mph faster.

…we start the real GM season with MO & his sidekick feeling real pressure to “make the move”..it should be fun to see it all play out…What would YOUR approach be…tell me now….not after the trades.

NCAA football…

…I must start with Mizzou…I didn’t think that I’d ever say this in 2017 but it sure looks like the Tigers will be bowl bound….Vandy & Arkansas are clearly two beatable teams…the strong run game has permitted Drew Lock to get time and throw his long-range missiles that are spot-on for quick scoring TD’s….once the Tigers get ahead in the game…they seem to relax….and the run game keeps the opposition from running the ball as often (seemingly a weakness on defense) because they feel like they must score quicker and more often….now….it seems like Drew Lock is getting evaluated for his NFL possibilities…so this could be his final year.. I still think that if you make him throw on the move, knock him down a few times that he’s a different QB…but let’s enjoy the sweetness of victory…bravo to the Tigers

…another terrific weekend of games for the top-ranked teams….

Alabama showed their pedigree against a strong Mississippi State team…the Bulldogs tooks a 24-17 lead early in the 4th quarter on a FG. Bama tied it with 9:29 left on a 14 yd run & PAT. . after an exchange of possessions, Alabama missed a 41 yd FG attempt that hit the upright with just over 2:00 left in the game. Miss State went 3 and out as they tried running plays on all 3 downs. The Crimson Tide took possession with 1:09 left….then the Tide’s top level coaching staff showed its stuff….like the pros, Alabama had run multiple formations earlier in the game with pre-determined calls but the OFF coordinator noted how Miss State was defending each formation sooo….when the last minute arrived, the O-coordiator used this knowledge to attack their weaknesses against these formations…Bama ran 3 sweeps to the wide side of the field with the same formation and a fresh, seasoned running back, then 2 slant passes againt blitzing LB (when they blitz their coverage area–short Middle, is wide open and finally an audible pass play called at the LOS by QB Jalen Hurts found the mark and a touchdown….Miss State had one more possession…after a 1st down and time almost expired, the ball was thrown a loooonnngg, way into the end zone in the midst of about 10 players (5 from each team)….an Alabama defender fearful of a Hail Mary TD, tackled the receiver…yea it was pass interference but in college that’s only a 15 yard penalty…the next hail may attempt was thrown too deep…went out of the end zone….game over.

…all that being said…my Bob Rankings for the final 4 at this moment are..with plenty of provisions.

  • Alabama 2) winner the Miami-Clemson ACC championship game  will be in final four… Miami (9-0) or Clemson…who has 4 wins over teams currently ranked #10-20 (who cares what they were ranked back 6-7-8 weeks ago) 3)Oklahoma      4)  if Wisconsin stays unbeaten…it’s tough to include them since  the Badgers played a non-descript non-conference schedule and the Big 10…like the SEC…is down…the ACC is not down…but Wisconsin has Michigan, Minnesota and the Big 10 championship game coming up…so if they win those 3 games…they have to go in.  Pac 12 conference looks like it’ll be on the outside looking in…If Wisconsin loses, AND the Miami/ Clemson game is very close…maybe both of those teams. WHAT does YOUR final 4 look like?

I remember years ago…many,many years ago at a district basketball seeding meeting, Jim Gant, a very successful basketball coach at Central High School said,’ Don’t ask me who I lost to….that doesn’t take any skill to lose…ask me who I beat”. Just because you lose to a good team doesn’t make YOU good…He’s right.

High School Football

….two teams familiar with Class 6 finals will meet next weekend for the 2017 title. Blue Springs vs CBC at Springfield,  MO 7:00pm next Saturday. CBC beat a fired up Eureka team 42-7 in the semis. CBC scored late in the 1st quarter and led 14-0 at half.  After scoring on the 2nd of 3 Brett Gabbert TD passes in the 3rd qtr at the 10:48 mark, the very next play from scrimmage was a Pick-6 for the Cadets when Larry Williams snatched a pass and scampered 25 yards to turn the tide in this game between these two very  strong teams.  CBC(12-1) won it 42-7 as they potent offense has been held under 40 points twice all season. Gabbert, younger bro of Blaine Gabbert, has passed for 2712 yards while Bryan Bradford has rushed for 1382 yards to provide the blend that Coach Scott Pingel desires. Pingel will be taking his 3rd team to the Championship game in his tenure which began in 2008 @ CBC.  The Cadets lone loss was to CBC-Memphis 36-27. Eureka completes their season at 12-1 as they enjoyed the tremendous season of Sr. Hassan Haskins. Haskins rushed for 2197 yards and scored 34 TD’s as Eureka kept  their customary power run style of game in high gear throughout the season. Eureka won the Suburban West-American conference title this year. The Wildcats have an outstanding record of 77-16 since 2010.

…in Class 5, Ft Zumwalt North (12-0) reached the semifinals with an impressive 42-7 win over the Lebanon Yellowjackets. Head Coach Joe Bacon led the Panthers to the championship game last year before falling to the Vianney Golden Griffins.  Vianney lost to Pattonville on Saturday…next week’s opponent for Ft Z N. The Panthers expected a much tighter game from Lebanon but…it played out this way…after receiving the KO, FZN drove 84 yards in 11 plays . Mareon Lowery powered over on a short plunge for the TD.  Lebanon, running the triple option…a rare occurrence in this era of passing….had been led by 2000 yard rusher, John Berry. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Berry was crunched by a heavy hit from the FZN defense and suffered a separated shoulder…out for the game. It was all Panthers from that point on. 

It’s an exciting time of the year…thanks for reading an hoping to read your thoughts on the GM season!

 

Wrapping up World Series by Bob Ryan

The thrilling World Series between the two best teams in baseball in 2017….just won by Houston…a 1st for the franchise….was lots of fun to watch….now..some personal “awards”, comments & observations…

…game 5 was….if not the best game in series history….oopps…in St Louis….that designation will always be the David Freese night in 2011…so let’s call this “one of the very best”….

….it was a HR derby for 5 games but the last 2 games looked more like real baseball games to me.

…I’ve always felt this way…go with your best…if he “runs outtta gas”….or “doesn’t have it” so be it….but don’t wait until you’re behind in the championship game to bring in Clayton Kershaw….start him….he’s your best…further considerations 1)Grab the early momentum with his strikeouts and quick innings 2) In 2016 playoffs, with 2 days rest, Kerhshaw pitched  7 innings and gave up 2 hits…so why start anyone else?

….Alex Bregman wins my World Series “Gold Glove” award

….I think Altuve was posing a bit too much for the cameras…but…even so….he’s fun to watch and really good….despite his .194 series average

…I still don’t understand the quick hook by both managers on some of their starting pitchers..I mean taking out a starter because the next batter hits from the other side of the plate in the 3rd inning?

…I would  have liked to shake Brendan Morrow’s hand for his endurance ..he pitched in all 7 world series games and in all but one playoff game…but he couldn’t raise his arm J  His fastball had lost all its zip by games 5, 6, 7 of Series….but this post-season will extend his career ..which was in doubt earlier this year.

…George Springer was clearly the Series MVP…5 HR, .379 avg, slug% 1.000 (that means he averages one base for every AB) and slugging %  of 1.471

….I’m sure that many NL pitchers were taking notes on how to pitch to LA 1B, Cody Bellinger…he struck out 17 times in 28 at-bats….I’ll save em the time….fastballs high & away, breaking balls that start at the knees and break low & inside below the knees….

….last minute shopping results for World  Series teams varied…….

….LA signed Yu Darvish as their trading deadline acquisition…. His  free agent value for next season was probably cut in half by his two flops in the Series….2 starts, 3.1 inn, 9 hits, 8 Earned Runs, 2 walks, 0…yes…zero strikeouts…..he sure didn’t look like a real top level #1…he probably drove up the value of Lance Lynn.

….on the other hand…Houston  snatched Justin Verlander literally seconds prior to the deadline…he  DID look like a true #1….2 starts in Series, 12 inn, 3.75 era, whip of .583…well worth his money …

World Series history Book since 2000……

When Houston won their 1st ever championship this year …the Cubbies won their 1st Series in over 100 years last year and Kansas City won after a long drought in 2015….it drove me to dig out the Series “team” participation & post-season participation since the year 2000….here’s some of the stats that seemed interesting… again..just since 2000..

….ALL 30 MLB teams have been in the playoffs since 2000!  That stunned me!…Florida is the only team to be in only one post-season (2003) and they won the Series that year. The Cards & Yanks lead the MLB with 12 post-season appearances in this new millennium . Then comes the Dodgers… who  have played in 9 post-seasons.

…the Nationals have been in the last 4 post-seasons and 5 of the last 6 years …but..sorry Dusty …ya  gotta win one series…. Atlanta was in nine times with SIX straight post-seasons (from 2000-2005); Boston has experienced post seasons  8x with 3 world series championships

…Now come the big surprises..at least  to me…again…this is since (and including} 2000…Oakland has eight appearances-most recent 2014; Anaheim has tasted post-season waters 7x with only 1 World Series appearance …that they won…in 2002.  The Giants have been post-season 8x with 3 Series titles; Minnesota has been to the post-season seven times (including this year)..they were in the post season 4 of 5 years between 2002 and 2006.I was also surprised that Tampa has been post season in four different seasons (08, 10, 11, 13)….Poor Seattle has had a long time between drinks…their last post season was 2001 after being there in 2000

…regarding World Series appearances, the Cards, Giants and Yankees have been there 4 times but Boston is 3 for 3 (3 appearances and 3 titles)…now it’s time to close the world series book….

Cards baseball thought….

…so why am I not surprised that the headines today talk about the Cards looking for a less expensive option as a closer without any trade ramifications….come on…do you REALLY want to win?

NCAA Football…

So….I’m sure that the committee was trying to be extremely fair and non-judgmental when they chose Georgia over Alabama in their 1st poll….clearly they thought that Georgia had more wins over “good “teams than Bama at this point…I see Georgia’s  1 point win @ ND but the last 4 games have been big blow-outs against SEC teams(none in the upper echelon)…meanwhile Bama’s only win of consequence was their opening week victory over Florida State…Bama has a list like Georgia of crushing several SEC teams….in the probable SEC championship game….Bama vs -Georgia ….I’m still going with Alabama.   I still see Drew Lock winging those long passes over the heads of the Georgia secondary….can’t Alabama do that also?… but  It’s only the poll for this week…you can’t vote on what you think MAY happen in the  future…. vote only for how it has played out to this point…

….Mizzou really crushed Florida…Drew Lock, when given time and has a running game established , he can really throw the long ball…his deep-ball  accuracy is very good….right now, Florida is reeling…lost many players for off-field incidents and then fired their coach…btw…these “temporary head coach” status just doesn’t cut it….we all know the saying, “ a dog only has one master”….well speaking as a long time HS coach …it’s true in coaching also..a team has but one master…and that IS the head coach.  Let me put it in another way…the same is true in teaching….think back now of YOUR thoughts when you had a “substitute” teacher for the day…… I rest my case.

More on Florida…..so I’m going out on a limb….Florida wants a high-profile, experienced, offensive minded coach….Jim McElwain was supposed to be Jim Mcl-win for the Gators but became Jim McE-lame…I’d shoot real high….and pay real high … for Chris Peterson of U of Washington…Peterson gained notice with his 92-12 record as Head Coach @ Boise State before moving to Washington. We’ll see if the lure of the SEC over the Pac 12 does hold water.  If you want a coach with local contacts already established and is less expensive…how about Scott Frost of Central Florida….those are my 2 choices for this attractive job.

High School Football …

….I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to announce the Class 2 football game between the Lutheran North Crusaders and the Trinity Titans. I didn’t know if I’get in on time…I arrived at the Lucas & Hunt exit (about 1/4mile from the Lutheran North… the line of cars reminded me of the line of cars at the ending of Field  of Dreams movie…play it…and they will come.  It was a really an outstanding game…North won it 48-46…there was a little bit of everything….one team preferred passing,  the other a  power running game, so we saw magnificent catches, power & speed on runs, pick-6’s; a KO return for a TD, fumbles on punts that had bounced on the ground, kicking situations were often unpredictable,  interceptions on passes that should not have been thrown,completions on passes that should not have been thrown; trickerations on extra points and lots and lots of hard hitting and dazzling speed….it was really a super high school game in front of about 5000 folks. Trinity scored with 38 seconds left in the game to cut the margin to 2 points….of course they went for two points…they had hoped to isolate one of their star receivers, Marcus Washington for the quick slant or alley-oop pass … RC Owens revived !!…..North put 2 defenders on him…so QB Isiah Williams tried running…as he had done well many other times…for the goal line…he was hit about ½ yard out and driven back by a bevy of North defenders….this game had a plethora of future college football players…I would guess about 15-20 players will someday be wearing college football uniforms. I’ve never done this before  but … there’s always a 1st time…many have asked about the game…well…here’s the link…hit “demand” button, Trinity-LN game link, wait for arrow…click…and go…here’s the link…

Click here …

….another dandy was the Hillsboro-Cape Central game….these 2 schools often hook up in some wild and wooly games in district championship games….with the score tied 28-28 in the 4th quarter after Cape had scored 2 TD in the 3rd quarter to tie it…the Hillsboro Hawks marched their way to the title…and I do mean march…the Hawks went 80 yards in 14 plays and 6:30 seconds to take a 36-28 lead on way to their 1st district title in 4 years…Congrats to Coach Lee Freeman & the Hillsboro team.

….on the pro football level…KC Chiefs are a fun team to watch…if you like offense….as of today… Alex Smith is the top rated passer and tied for #2 in TD passes, RB Kareem Hunt leads the league in rushing and total yards, the #6 & #7 receivers in the NFL are Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

High School Soccer..

Finally…..I want to congratulate my friend, John Mohrmann, who guided his Priory Rebels to the Class 2 Soccer Championship over Lincoln Prep 3-0 last Saturday. John was an excellent player himself at St. Thomas Aquinas HS….my memory is that he played on a state winning team there.  He has won 5 state soccer championships as a Head Coach at two schools. John led Rosary HS to state titles in 1985 & 1987. He has directed Priory to 3 state championships in 2005, 2011, 2017…6 year itch…so to speak.. In between,   he also took the tiny Prep Seminary HS into the Soccer Playoffs.  He was able to enjoy a real special thrill this year as his son ,Will , was a member of the team. Congratulations!

I’m wrapping up the 2017 baseball season now….we’ll be into off-season changes shortly…NCAA football rankings, Blues, and other sports stuff starting next week…