As the Sports World Turn by Bob Ryan

Constantly, continually….the sports world turns…..like real life….nothing stays exactly the same…for long….before plowing through some of those “turning” areas…..my thanks to Jim Pleiman for holding the fort down for the last 2 weeks as Jean & I went on a vaca

….For Alabama, the world was spinning far too fast last week as Clemson not  only upset them, the Tigers slaughtered them…no one that I know ever expected that type of game….now ….I didn’t see any of the game but…..I had seen Bama play a couple weeks earlier…. Back-back plays stuck out to me….a SR offensive tackle for Alabama…jumped off-sides twice…on back-back plays…..EVERYONE knew who had committed the penalty..it was obvious…..he was yanked out of the game and Saban really made a big show of chewing him out and sending him to the bench. He really humiliated the player in front of the world. I know as a coach, that type of “leadership” doesn’t cut it any more….ONLY a guy with Saban’s record could ever get away with it….and I wondered if ….behind the scenes as the world turns, players change…when things start to go sour.. which they seldom do @ Bama…..how was Saban with his staff & players?  I’m not saying that HE lost the game or that Clemson didn’t deserve the championship…but I’m wondering who the real Nick Saban currently is…. on the sidelines and off the field….is it always someone else’s mistake when things go south?…and I don’t mean to Alabama J ….btw….5 coaches have left Alabama this year so only 2 coaches remain from the 2015 championship season…..hmmmm?

…For the Blues…..there now is some ….probably ….only a tiny bit….but at least… some hope…. of reaching the playoffs. It exists while the Hockey Season continues to turn & spin in many different directions for our Blues..  As you recall, I’m not really “into” winning the division titles in hockey…so what ?….the real season is post-season.  Just qualify for the playoffs…that’s the story. While still looking with their hopeful eyes, the Blues have 36 games remaining (as I write this part on Friday night)… that’s plenty of time….only Edmonton….gee….I guess Hitchcock found that winning touch that the  Blues thought that he had lost for them….has a better record against winning teams than the Blues out of the remaining teams “looking in”for a playoff spot. If Berube has ANY chance of staying on the bench, he MUST get into the playoffs…. soooo..LGB.

….the hockey world stopped spinning for Patrik Burgland…the former Blue….traded earlier this year to Buffalo…walked away from his multi-year, multi-million dollar contract….He just wasn’t enjoying it. He did play in 10 seasons, scored 168 goals. It stunned most fans. Most fans dream of playing and can’t imagine getting tired of it.  In his defense….he’s probably been playing hockey competitively since he was a very young boy…think of the hours of skating, practicing, chalk talks, various coaches trying to “motivate” you, yada-yada-yada….to use an ol’ time expression….he got “burned out”.

…the world spins differently for HS basketball players being recruited….they are wooed, praised, fawned over in ways that may make it hard for them to see the REAL world….St Louis U lost  Carte’ Are Gordon about the time  we left StL….I wasn’t surprised….he’d left his 1st high school, he left his original AAU team… we all know those kind of guys…the grass is always greener else where…I’d seen him play…he was good…especially when considering that he was only a Freshman but he wasn’t anything like the “one & done” Freshman that cycle in & out of Kentucky every year. I later learned that he wasn’t the easiest teammate to have on your team….his loss has really impacted the Bills…they’ve won 5 straight since his departureJ

…the world is spinning a bit quicker for the MU Men’s Basketball team after their impressive, dominating win over Texas A&M 66-43…now holding a 10-6 record…This was one of their best wins of the season. 4 of their previous wins were over Cen Arkansas, Kennesaw State (by 4 pts), U-Tx Arlington and Moorhead State… none of those wins really count for much. In the other 5 wins, only a couple were wins with some quality to them –by 2 pts over UCF, 6 pts over Oregon State (11-5)-THAT was a good win, over Oral Roberts (8-13 of Summit league), Xavier (11-7)-nice win, Illinois(5-12). The devastation of losing the Porter brothers has been difficult to overcome for the Tigers….but yesterday Jordan Geist hit some early 3’s, Jerimiah Tilmon didn’t even have a foul until long after the outcome of the game had been determined and scored inside very effectively with his hook shot (the hook shot is coming back into vogue, and the MU defense forced A&M into long, hurried…sometimes out of control shots. GOOD  road win got the Tigers.

…the college football world was spinning a bit out of control with the retirement of Mark Reicht (Miami) it surprised many….I have to wonder if the Miami AD realized that Richt had played the easiest schedule of his career (according to sports reference.com) and yet finished with the lowest rating (according to same reference) of his career….his glossy career record of 171-64 was tainted in 2018….maybe HE recognized the decline in his own efficiency or maybe THE MIAMI AD recognized it and asked him to resign (or retire)… or be removed

…the world hasn’t been spinning much for the Cards …..only the hype has been spinning ….soooo…the Cards starting staff for the start of 2019 looks like—Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright & Michael Wacha…same as it was in the final months of 2018….no doubt about Mikolas & Flaherty being there ..probably as #1 & #2….however, Martinez actually seemed better as a reliever last year….facing batters for the 1st time as a starter the batting avg against him was .222, the OBP-.338 and OPS 6.49, facing them the 2nd time as a starter… same categories…214, .308, .630 and the 3rd time facing the same batters it looked like .289, .388, .759. As a reliever, 1st time facing them… the avg was .180,OB%- .292, OPS-.521…2nd time thru as a reliever: avg- .000, obp-.500, OPS-.500. He claims that he’s 27 years of age…I always wonder about those Latin American ages….at any rate…Martinez seems more fitted to be a “long” closer (2+ innings) than a starter to me. Wacha and Wainwright both require more than 4 days rest….a start once a week suits their arm difficulties, arm strength, “stuff”, much better….I’ve been clamoring for a 6 man rotation….starters can use the extra day and hopefully go deeper into each game…hence saving the pen a bit. Andrew Miller will be the new closer with the set up men mix-matching….The 2019 Miller will actually have a difficult time outperforming the 2018  Bud Norris for his work over the first 5 months of the season. Compare the work of each in 2018…. In April, Norris had 12 appearances, 5 saves & 2 holds; May—12 appearances, 6 saves, 1 win, 1 loss; in June –10 appearances, 4 saves; 2 wins, 2 blown-sv, 1 loss ..editorial note here…so by July 1 he had pitched in 34 games; he had 15 saves, 3 wins, 2 losses…in July,Norris-10 appearances,  5 saves & 1 loss; August saw 11 appearances, 8 saves, 1 blown save…by September the 32 year old was toast…8 appearances; 3 losses 1 blown save, 0 saves or wins. Norris is still unsigned… personally…with a bit more rest…I think that he’d be a terrific set up man(which were the original plans last year)….at any rate, Miller’s 2018 stats look like this….Mar/Apr-11 appearances—zero runs during that time!!  1 save, 1 win, 4 holds; May-just 6 appearances-3 blown saves, 3 losses, 1 save..era now 4.40..ugh.. He missed all of June and July! In August, Miller was in 10 games, 3 holds, 1 win..era down to 3.38 by the end of the month. September had Miller in 10 games, 2 holds, 1 save, 1 loss. ERA for the season 4.24. I personally think 10 games should be the max per month per pitcher…. that’d be 60 games a year. I’m of the belief…pitching 70+ games in a season damages your arm…and 75 games makes the cliff even steeper for the relievers. Now…the story line is that Miller was injured….my thought is….once you have experienced a bad arm….does it EVER get back to its original strength & durability..on occasion, it does.  Often it does not.  Let’s hope that Miller has fully recovered.

…the world was spinning out of control…at least for a minute…while scanning the Top 25 NCAA-M basketball list…I found @ #16 — Buffalo!!!  Huh? Where did they come from? They are 17-1 at the moment! It’s great…that team has beaten 17 of 18 opponents should get recognitiion….including W. Virginia, Syracuse, S. Illinois-twice(they beat the Bills). The Bulls…this is no bull…..are averaging 85ppg. I’m not forecasting that they will win the NCAA … or even get picked for the NCAA…but give them their “due” when appropriate. Enjoy the ride Bulls

….if you haven’t noticed…the world has been spinning quicker for the Cincinnati Reds this off-season. Already possessing a strong lineup, the Reds added Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. I’m not a big fan of either…one is a hot dog and the other more talk than performance… but… each should improve the team. Puig DID have a very strong 2nd half for LA last year (remember when his HR killed the Cards in a key home game). On the mound, Cincy acquired Alex Wood & Tanner Roark to boost their staff. Both will provide experience, innings and probably more wins. Returning starter Luis Castillo had a terrific 2nd half of 2018…he was the ranked # 27 for that period. HE may really be the ace in 2019. Closer Raisel Iglesias is legit….and….he goes more than 1 inning if necessary. The Cards won’t be able to count on those sweeps against Cincy as often next year as in the recent past.

…for the Metro Panthers Girls Basketball team….the world just keeps spinning along in the usual way…. Head Coach Gary Glasscock has his team holding a 13-5 record and sitting atop the PHL standings at 4-0.  This isn’t anything new for the Panthers….they’ve been unbeaten in conference play the last 3 years!  Metro is 13-5 for the season as they play a wide assortment of teams. 5-9 Jr Faith Bland leads the club in scoring(18.0 ppg), rebounding (11.0/gm) & blocked shots-39. Other leaders on the Panthers are the only 2 seniors on the team….Mikenzie Burt (20 points in the last win over Visitation) & Micah Goldman (assist leader). If the name of “Glasscock” seems familiar to you from the past, earlier in his career, while Head Coach at Cor Jesu, he coached Niele Ivey. Ivey was probably the best players of her era while she starred at Cor Jesu.  Ivey went on to star for Notre Dame at the collegiate level from 1996-2001. She finished her career after 2 seasons in the WNBA. I had the “opportunity”…while coaching….of facing Cor Jesu with Ivey….it was a looonnnggg game for me J  Hope that YOUR world is spinning around just right for you!

 

Pleimann’s Pieces 1.14.19

Pleimann’s Pieces…

The “Powers That Be” are letting me ramble again this week as I sub for the irreplaceable Bob Ryan.  Bob will be back in this space next week as I think the infamous assignment he is on, will be completed.  I am just giving a few thoughts on the sports scene here in St. Louis.  That in-depth fact-digging you get from Bob?  I don’t have that kind of time – I am not retired like he is!  Ha!

I thought the first three games of the NFL playoffs last  weekend  would be the best match-ups. It was completely the opposite with the Rams, Chiefs and Patriots easily winning.  The game I thought would be a blowout was the Saints and Eagles. It turned out to be the only good game (in my opinion) of the weekend.

The best four teams in the NFL remain.  I’d love to see Kansas City win at home in front of their championship-starved fans.  Remember they have home field advantage only because of the crazy lateral play the Dolphins beat New England on the last play of their game.  I think they have a chance but Tom Brady sure looked good in defeating the Chargers.  Is he the best-ever quarterback? 

That leaves the Saints and the Rams.  I will be hate-watching as I peek at this one.  I am one of those who are still so angry that we lost another football team.  I miss it.  I hope the Rams fall apart and lay an egg in New Orleans.  (But they are good, you can’t take that away from them).  Jeff Fisher would never have this team where they are now I can promise you that. 

What could be worse than watching Stan Kroenke being interviewed and raising the NFC trophy or worse yet the Lombardi trophy at the Super Bowl?

Will Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and all the rest ever sign?  Will it be before spring training starts?  As a fan, this is frustrating to see.  This is yet another year this drags on.  To me it is not helping the game at all.

There are so many signs that are leading to a huge work stoppage in 2022.  Owners, players and agents are nowhere near being on the same page as owners are refusing to sign long term contracts in most cases to players who are a little too old to command them.  There are very few statistics that will back up signing 32-35 year old will remain productive in their later years.  I wouldn’t pay them either! 

Players need to become free agents sooner in the process.  Arbitration is a problem.  There will be a lot to iron out.

I see a number of Blues players being traded in the very near future.  Much maligned Jay Bouwmeester could help a team down the stretch with his veteran savvy.  Not sure who would take on Alexander Steen’s contract but he could help somebody.  David Perron?

Heck, almost anybody – I know he’s not having the best of seasons if Vladimir Tarasenko is moved, (rumor mill) it better be to the Eastern conference because he is the kind of guy who would kill us if we played against him four times a year or in a playoff series.  He still has a lot of goals left on his stick.  I would hold on to him.

It is becoming obvious that Jake Allen will not lead us to the promised land.

I can’t wait to see what the Blues do for a coach.  I don’t think Craig Berube is the answer they are looking for.  They need a coach who has delivered the Stanley Cup.  A coach who knows what it takes to work, unify  and to get the whole team to work together and be on the same page. 

Consistency for this team would be nice. A power play that scoresd a few goals would be nice. 

Yet, as I write this they have just beat the defending Stanley Cup champions for the second straight time.  This time on the road!    Oh, oh, this just in… the Blues are at the .500 mark!  Maybe they won’t sell…  stay tuned….  They make you dizzy!

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read – if you made it to the end. 

 I hear there could be another snow storm coming to the area this coming weekend.  Make sure you have plenty of gas in your car this time and if you work, leave earlier!!

Pleimann’s Pieces 1.7.19

Pleimann’s Pieces

Hello everyone,  I am pinch-hitting for Bob this week as he is on what they call, “assignment”. He told me, write anything you want.  So… hang on, I am going to be skipping all over the place with some random thoughts from this crazy sports world we live in.

There are a lot of peaks and valleys as a sports fan – 2018 for many here in the St. Louis area was a valley.  But that is what makes following sports fun.  If you are a true fan, you live and die with your teams. 

It is a fun diversion from the rigors of everyday life.  It brings you together with family members, friends and fantasy leagues.  You often you find yourself rooting at games, or cheering at bar with people you don’t even know. 

There is nothing like the feeling you get when your teams wins a game, a playoff series or a world championship. But every fan also feels that gut-wrench when lose a big game.  Some player or coach befuddles you and you’re ready to launch something into your TV, walk out of a game early or swear them off for good.  (But if you really care, you go back).  Classic example – being a Bears fan today!!  Ouch.

With that said, I can only imagine the joy that would come watching the Blues parade the Stanley Cup down Market Street.  What a party that would be!.

I was asked by my son what were the highlights of  2018 here in the Loo? Other than the obvious PGA Tournament in which Tiger Woods stole the show, champion Brooks Koepka was so good, and the St. Louis crowds were nationally praised, there was really not that much to choose from. 

Think about it….    still thinking?

As I look back on the 2018 sports scene here is St. Louis, try as I might, it was hard to find a whole lot of positive. The Cardinals and the Blues didn’t generate any extra cash to their owner’s pockets by making playing in the post-season.

Both teams lost their manager/coach to firings in the middle of the season. That don’t happen too often around here.

 We had to watch our ex-NFL team become good (and well coached), win their division and post their best record since they were The Greatest Show on Turf in 2001.

 Mizzou football teased us and left us to think what could have been. (At least two more wins?)  Mizzou basketball had a nice run to the NCAA tournament but ended as a one-and-done.

They now are in the midst of their second straight season without their perceived best player to start their season. That is tough.  Coach Martin and company are doing a pretty good job though heading into SEC play on Tuesday – all things considered.

 Or is Ol’ Mizzou just jinxed?.  Try as they might, nothing ever seems to go the Tiger’s way.  They recruit so-called star players Like Tony Van Zant and Michael Porter Jr. that get the fan base all geeked up and crazy things happen and they don’t play.

They get to a big game and falter so often. The latest example was the Liberty Bowl. It was a game on paper, they should have won.  Oklahoma State was 6-6 for crying out loud!

Mizzou played well enough. Heck, they totaled over 600 yards in total offense!  Drew lock was very good (not sure why he carried the ball on the Tigers final play of the year).  Larry Rountree III had a career day rushing for 204 yards – but he couldn’t get a precious few to give the Tigers a chance to win in their final push.  But that leads to play calling and that’s a whole other story.  There certainly was plenty to question in that department.  Bottom line, I think the Tigers 8-5 record meant this team underachieved for the season.  This team was better than that. 

Does anyone besides me find it mind boggling how close the Vegas odds makers  get when they set things such as over/under.  They picked 77 points for the Alabama-Oklahoma game – boom it comes in at 79.  Did you really think it would be over?  I thought it high (I would have lost)!

I don’t bet much money on sports through the year and here is why.  I can only be embarrassed when I tell you I picked all four games of this past wildcard weekend wrong.  All four!  How is that possible? 

Now that Christmas is over, can we skip right to spring training? This weekend’s and Monday’s fall-like temperatures and sunshine got me all ready for pitchers and catchers to report!!  And in typical St. Louis fashion, snow is possible by the weekend.

In  the Alabama – Clemson game we will see for the first time ever, the top two ranked teams play in the NCAA championship game while both are undefeated.  I hope the game lives up to its hype.

Thanks for reading.  Hope I didn’t lull you to sleep.  I think I will be back next week…. unless the find me an “assignment”

Jim Pleimann

Still Rewarded without Playing by Bob Ryan

In the “real” world, if a worker decides to quit, leave, exit, not return…whatever lingo that you want to use….you stop getting paid…period…no salary, no benefits, no anything. It makes perfect sense. However, in the collegiate world….somewhat real……college football players are playing both sides of the coin…..
…When a high school player signs a scholarship contract, the school agrees to provide that player with all that is needed to succeed …in football and throughout his days at the school…..the athlete agrees to follow all the rules of that university and to give his “all”
….when a player determines that they are going to “sit out” a bowl game…or any game for that matter….immediately, that player should be removed from the squad, from the dorm, not permitted to use any of these luxurious benefits. He has QUIT…plan and simple….his choice….sooo…..send him on his way….instantly and permanently and drop all of his huge benefits
…those benefits are really something….after some research, analysts who dig deeper than most into the “real” cost of a football scholarship…i.e. not just the tuition, room & board, food all year long of the highest quality, but academic tutors available at all times, medical attention all year long upon request at ANY TIME…not just when sick or injured….but aches, pains, pulls, stretches of any kind; dietary “counselors” continually checking to ensure that the athlete is ingesting the proper type/amount of food; weight room consultants, free tickets to all games…including bowl games…..maybe I’m missing some areas….but each and every facet of the football player’s life is softened due to their football skills (which are high)…and are developed by coaching staffs of 10-15 highly paid coaches(isn’t that total cost divided by the number of participants)….the cost for all these benefits comes close to $100,000-$125,00 per player….soooo…..the expectation is that the player, will in turn, play to the best of their ability for all the scheduled games and if a .500+ team, the bowl games.
…Now I realize that the schools would NEVER have the willingness or fortitude to implement such a policy…it would have to be enforced by the NCAA so ALL schools would follow this simple idea…..if you quit (refuse to play in any game/practice)…you go. If you’re afraid of being injured and ruining your “certain” pro career…that’s your judgment…you’ve quit….every choice we make in life has consequences…good & bad….so leave immediately and start paying the bills yourself while living someplace else, eating someplace else, not having tutors, advisors, coaches hovering over you like bees over honey constantly….and to be honest….I don’t think that the NCAA would do it either…they’re making too much money with the current system….why rock the money boat? Isn’t college intended to prepare the students for REAL life…the next 40+ years of their life? Try that at your job….I’m NOT going to do this or that because…name any reason….see what happens to you.
…btw…the next time players start clamoring to be paid…..I would remind them that all these services have a cost attached to them…if the individual player WAS paid , he/she would then be responsible for paying for all services listed above with his/her own money… so unless the students were paid $100,000+….they’d be borrowing money…OR….not using all those services. They better be careful what they are asking for from the schools….that getting paid directly MAY actually cost them…
….another point….schools are cheating many of these athletes in the classroom—some students come into the colleges/universities ill-prepared for the academic rigors….they are only there to play football…..soooo…schools have some of these students take the lowest classes in one department one year, then the following year..he takes the lowest classes in another dept, repeated in the 3rd & over and over again in the 4 or 5 year academic career. How valuable is that degree… other than making him eligible for 5 years of football? If a football player doesn’t earn a “real” degree not one of “general studies”, the football team should have 1 less scholarship for the following 4 years for each of these type of non-degrees. I know I’m a huge sports fan….but the primary purpose of colleges is to prepare the students to be productive citizens in society after college. How many college football players will really have a career in pro football? If they don’t make it in the pros…..what then…will they be productive members of society?
….while I’m on a college football kick…..the newly instituted 4 game tryout exemption for red-shirt players is absolutely ridiculous…either you ARE sitting out for a year and not playing OR you are playing…you don’t’ get 4 games of “freebies” as they use currently. This rule fosters players “jumping” schools after they show- case 4 game performance. Whatever happened to the idea that college was a 4 year process…not 5, 6 or more years with multiple stops along the way.
Now…..to college football on the field…out of the upteen bowls (41 now…I think)….the two that have mattered the most were the semifinals…
….Clemson just had too much speed in the key offensive positions of running back & wide receiver. Notre Dame just couldn’t match up with the Tigers and fell 30-3. After witnessing the extreme difference in speed, one MUST hand it to you Coach Brian Kelly (ND)….he directed that slower team …with a tough schedule ….to a 12-0 mark prior to the Clemson game.
….As everyone expected, Oklahoma needed to score about 50 points with the Crimson Tide committing several turnovers for OU to beat Alabama. OU’s defense was seldom “tight” though most of 2018…..they just outscored people. Alabama jumped on the OU defense immediately and coasted to the 45-34 win. The game really wasn’t that close….Bama surged to a 28-0 lead and then seemed to lose their intensity…naturally. It actually was rather humorous seeing Nick Saban throw a temper tantrum with his club far out front late in the 1st half. It’s fine to demand discipline at all time but that holds true for the coach himself also.
…..reactions to some of the other mini-bowls…
…..sure Michigan got crunched…4 of their best players “sat out” to protect themselves for the draft…Florida from what we saw..Florida would no doubt still have beaten them (speed factor again) but…take away Florida’s best 4 layers and it would have been a different looking team.
….what a horrible mismatch…Army with 10 wins…and a very narrow loss to Oklahoma dominated Houston 70-14. Army was playing their reserves throughout most of the 2nd half. It looked like Houston had NEVER practiced against the Army run-style offense. Army should have been invited to a much more distinguished bowl.
….the Cheeze-It bowl….Wow….it was cheesy…in my opinion, neither of these teams were “bowl” teams. Cal was 4-5 in conference play and TCU held a 6-6 mark entering this game. TCU 10 California 7 in OT…this was a “battle” between two very average teams. TCU who had the chance to win it in regulation…replaced their regular place kicker for the possible winning FG attempt…it was missed. In the OT, the regular place kicker Jonathan Song, got the opportunity and kicked a winning 27-yard field goal. There were 6 interceptions in the 1st half alone, a sideline interference called on the SID, a game that appeared to be more like a Frosh HS football game than 2 bowl teams competing on a high level.
,,,,its strange…. the press keeps promoting the proliferation of more and more bowls…yet…when these weaker bowls are filled with average teams…and the games truly reflect the skill level of the two average teams—more miscues, average speed of players, more turnovers, yada-yada-yada…..the same press ridicules them for their play…they got what they paid for in my book.
Moving to winter sports…
….Chaminade may have another one! After David Lee’s solid 12 year career in the NBA(you can’t last 12 years without being good), Bradley Beal already in his 7th year @ Washington, and Jason Tatum still growing in his 2nd year in the NBA, Chaminade currently has another “hot shot” come along. Luke Kasubke, 6-6 Jr, is carrying a 22.6 average. According to StLToday, he’s shooting 34 of 41 from beyond the arc…that’s tough to believe—83%. Sometimes those HS stats are off a bit…especially on missed shots…BUT not off …is the fact that he scored 50 points against Parkway North on Dec 27, dropped in 31 the next night. He competes in the MCC so he’s facing quality teams each conference game. I have a particular interest in Kasubke…..I coached his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) @Rosary High. She was the best girls player that I ever coached @ Rosary. When she graduated, she held all the scoring Records there. Keep your eye on him!
….somethings different in Lebanon, Ill…for the first time in 53 years, there is a new Men’s Basketball coach @ McKendree University. Harry Statham was removed of his duties after 52 years and 1152 wins at the end of last season. Chris Foster, former coach @ Truman State, was named to take over the men’s team. As the league jumps into its heavy conference schedule, the Bearcats are 1-1 in conference and 5-6 overall.
….NCAA basketball rankings begin to mean something after New Year’s day….some new teams sit in that Top-10+2 at this point….@#5 Nevada (11-1)…I don’t anticipate this team hanging in that Top 10 long; @ #10 Va Tech (11-1); #11 Texas Tech (11-1); @#12 Auburn (11-2)….try keeping an eye on these newcomers….
Happy New Year to ALL! …thoughts from you bowl games, college players “sitting out” for fear of injury in bowl games…..or anything else…. Wishing you a great 2019!

Fresh Sports Gifts for Local Stars by Bob Ryan

It’s that wonderful time of the year….Christmas time…..sure enough, we found many…some unusual… Gifts under the 2018 St Louis Sports Tree…

…..for Mike Shildt… new Card hat that actually fits him…so that we can see his face while he wears it

…. for Marcell Ozuna….a long red or white sleeved shirt for under his Cardinal uniform(not yellow)

….for the Taylor Family ….a Crown ….as the new King of  Sports  Families in the Lou

.…for Miles Mikolas…the Dobbs Award for his pitching in, up, down & out pitching style

….for John Mozeliak…the disappearance of his book on Casey Stengal’s   “Talking Clearly”

….for Bill Snyder…an award given annually in his name  to the Coach who has revives a collegiate football program…some background…prior to Snyder arriving @ K-State in 1990..the Wildcats had won 4 games in 5 years and only 4 winning seasons in 44 years..after going 17-16 in his first 3 years in Manhattan, KS…Snyder finished with a record @ K-State of 215-117-1, 19 Bowl seasons and 2 Big 12 Championships…maybe there won’t be a winner every year of this award

…for Barry Odum…. A longer fishing pole for his recruiting…he’s shown that he can “reel em in”

…for the Blues….the Lazarus Award…I thought they were dead…

…for Andrew Miller….the ghost of Christmas Future is more like the Ghost of Christmas Past than like the Ghost of Christmas Present

…for Alex Pietranglo…..Fountain of Youth…. to turn back the clock a few years

…for the Alabama football fans… Kleenex … after all their weeping about “their guy” not winning the Heisman…heck, I think that almost ANY QB could lead the Crimson Tide to wins

…for Jack Flaherty…the White Castle Award …so his ‘slider” stays good

…for Mike Yeo…the YMCA Swimming Award….only guy to keep his head above water in the playoffs.. he is  the ONLY Blues coach EVER to hold a winning playoff record in Blues history

…for Adolis Garcia….the Don Denkinger Award….for the bad play that could define his career

…for St Louis College of Pharmacy….the Elvis Presley Award for Persistence… as they snapped 106 or 108 game losing streak(it was so long NO ONE actually knew for sure how many games they lostJ) …. background—Presley was fired after his 1st performance in 1954 and told “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

…for Bill DeWitt…a new nickname (compliments Tom Murray)…Bill DeWallet

…for Mizzou football program….ONE set of black & gold uniforms….all other sets given away

…for Mizzou football….a big win in Liberty Bowl Game that should catapult them into the Top 20 at the end of the 2018 season and the  Top 20 at the start the 2019 season

…another for Mizzou program…..the UP, UP & Away Award after the recent signings & transfers  

…for Manny Machado’s non-signing…. “actions speak louder than words” about his play in playoffs 

…for Dexter Fowler… a graceful exit from St Louis…probably with millions of $$$ due him

…for Travis Ford… the JOB Award…..for patience for a team on the upswing who will “grow” as the schedule unfolds

…for Pat Maroon…a turnaround in the 2nd half to help him enjoy his “coming home” story

…for the Porter brothers of Mizzou….the DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) Award…the award for unfulfilled sports potential

…for Jose Martinez…..the Six Flags Award….for having fun at the Park every day

…for Mike Girsch…the Frank Nitty Award…for always being the man “behind the scenes”

…for Stan Kronke…again winning for the umpteenth time…”Most Hated Man in St Louis” Award

…for Yadi Molina…a new cell phone for  the next time that he “camps out” in the pen so that he can actually communicate with the Manager

…for the NCAA Football Guru’s…some consistency….we can’t expand the Final Four to 8 teams but we can still sit through 40 different bowl games of which 20 bowls have teams we could care less about

….for Harrison Bader….a contract with some toothpaste company for his wide smile

….for Vince DeGreef, John Diffley & Kerry Rockwell….gold star award ….for their officiating in a Friday night game (that I announced)…and for the combined 100+ years of refereeing at a high level

…for Paul Goldschmidt…the Coca-Cola Award for “sharing a special moment” (his signing) with us

…for Carlos Martinez…the Rodney Dangerfield Award….his lifetime ERA 3.37, 54-38 record and batting mark of .241 against him would seem to merit him more “luv” from the fans…

…for Carlos Martinez…Cpl Klinger Award (MASH) for his eccentric mannerisms –driving him from fans

…for the Cardinal bullpen…the new mantra of In-Game Battle….fight each skirmish during the game with your best…let the final battle of the 9th inning be just ‘another skirmish”

…for Incarnate Word Acad….reservations in Columbia, MO for STATE final 4…the Red Knights have been there 9 straight years with 7 STATE championships during that time

…for Tyler O’Neill….the Charles Atlas Award for the MLB….strongest man in the league

…for Tyler O’Neill…the Ironing Board Award….depicting his flexibility

…for the Laporta Family….the Rusty Wallace Award ….for most successful participatory sports “family” Award in St. Louis area…From Highland…Olivia (Sr Volleyball Player @ Fordham), Alex (Soph Basketball player UMSL-leading rebounder), Sam(Sr in Highland HS—just signed with Iowa Football), Bella (Soph-#2  scorer on Highland HS basketball & #2 attacker on Highland ‘s 33-3  Volleyball team)

…for Drew Lock….a ring of safety in the bowl game to protect/enhance his draft status

…for Jose Oquendo…the “Time has passed me by” award…once Shildt was chosen as manager

…for viewers of the Texas Bowl (two 6-6 teams)…..a remote control ….to change the channel

…for all of you…A Thank You Award …..for taking the time each week to read my “stuff” on a regular basis

….all of YOU are invited to post your own special gift or to react to any of these gifts—do it right on the Prepcasts site….you may do more than one…if you can’t get it posted…send to me….I’ll forward it to have it posted……..Merry Christmas To All!

Drowning in the Atlantic by Bob Ryan

The Billikens have been swimming in the Atlantic….the Atlantic-10….since 2005. From my view, this conference is not a good match for the Bills. They’ve been drowning in the long trips, small arenas, lack of real “rivals”,  lack of emotional games,  lack of national prominence. Now…I do realize that immediately some will say…”they can’t change leagues”…..well…..a short glance at the history of SLU shows that the Bills have changed conferences….and done it often….they’ve been in 6 different conferences since 1937….here’s the history….

1937-38 through 1973-74 Missouri Valley Conference

1975-76 through 1981-82 Metro Conference

1982-83 through 1990-91 Midwestern City Conference (changed name to Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1985-86)

1991-92 through 1994-95 Great Midwest Conference

1995-96 through 2004-05 Conference USA

2005-06 through present Atlantic 10

Please note….the longest affiliation was with the Missouri Valley Conference! …..so change is COMMON and frequent for SLU. I’m proposing an application back to the Missouri Valley Conference for SLU.  Why?

….Cost…doesn’tthat always come first!!  I don’t have to discuss at length the difference in cost in traveling to 4 schools in Virginia+ Wash DC, 2 in New York,  3 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Rhode Island, 1 in Massachusetts, 1 in N.Carolina, 1 in Ohio vs traveling to schools in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.    Please consider not just the cost of the basketball program but also….baseball, softball, w-m soccer teams, and ALL the other sports. Is that extra cost of extensive traveling measure up to a real difference in opponents & interest? Hardly…With opponents a fraction a distance of the way closer…I would anticipate teams from adjacent states will travel for “big games” and stir up some emotion at the games …that’s the excitement of collegiate sports. Don’t tell that cost ISN’T a factor in major college sports.

…Quality ….looking at the level of play of the conferences…as of Dec 14, 2018..last week….the MO Valley was listed as the 10th best Men’s basketball conference…..A-10 was found in the 12th position…. sooo…the MVC is listed as a better conference now…and over the past few years….has consistently been higher than the A-10.

….Facililties…..looking at the facilities of these conference games, the MVC has a better, larger set of arenas…in the A-10, The Chavitz Arena (10,000+) is 2nd largest in the conference. There are 7 arenas in the A-10 with less than 6,000 capacity…is this the type of “place” that big-time schools play? By contrast, In the MVC, there are just 2 arenas that hold less than 6,000 and there are 5 that hold 10000+ now. Sooo… give that check mark to MVC

….National Recognition….Who’s been on the national stage most recently or at all?  Clearly the MVC is better recognized than the A-10.  Just last year, Loyola-Chicago made it to the Final Four….the Sr Jean story, “teamwork” did wonders for the MVC in national recognition.  The MVC has 4 teams that have won NCAA  basketball championships to their credit…. A10—zero.

…Familiarity….who’s in the MVC now….MO State, SIU-Carbondale, Bradley (Peoria, Ill), Loyola-Chicago, Illinois State (Normal Ill), Drake (Des Moines), Univ of N. Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Indiana St (Terra Haute, Ind)., U of Evansville and Valparaiso University. All these schools are probably easily identified by Billiken fans.

 …Strength of League..SLU was picked #1 in the pre-season for the A-10….would that be true in MVC?

…Reasoning for entering A-10 was egregious….in 2005, SLU administration gave this explanation for the move to the A-10  “Saint Louis University, its alumni and fans are extremely enthusiastic regarding the Billikens’ inaugural year in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” said Cheryl L. Levick, director of athletics at Saint Louis. “The profile of the A-10 membership is the best fit that Saint Louis University has enjoyed in the history of Billiken athletics. Plus, the A-10 provides new major market media exposure for our program and also opens the East Coast for under graduate student recruitment for the institution. We look forward to a long, exciting and successful tenure in the A-10.”….does anyone think that the major coverage of A-10 athletics in New York, Virginia, etc “ gets any where close to page 1, 2 or 3 in those local newspapers? Market exposure” for the Bills  in the East Coast, I believe is veryminimal…at best. Just think of all the professional teams that this small conference is battling for space in the local sports pages. I realize that SLU was talking more about the “general” students than just athletes.  However, I don’t see how competing in games that few people of the population of the East Coast even KNOW are taking place will help a university grow.….it’s time to stop drowning…..get  back on solid ground….the valley….the Missouri Valley!

….We’ve all been flooded….almost to the point of drowning…with all the hype, rumors, talk about the MLB Major League meetings in Las Vegas. Well….the talk exceeded the actual production.  The Flood of actual action barely filled Mandolin Bay. But let’s focus on the Card moves….

….Cards pedal  3B Patrick Wisdom to Texas for inf/of Drew Robinson….it seemed more like a Christmas gift to me….Wisdom (27 years old) had no spot on the club once Goldschmidt was acquired and Carp penciled in for 3B. So now Wisdom MAY get a chance to play. He had no spot left here. Cards obtained Robinson…who’s listed as Inf/OF…so he can play all over.. the only place he can’t play…it seems … is in the batters box….he carries a lifetime .204 average. Further, the Cards…like many other MLB teams…are striving for bench players who play multiple positions (like Gonzalez of Houston). Wisdom& Adams couldn’t do that…so each has “moved on”. Adams resigned with Washington over the weekend…he’ll be a backup 1B and PH for the Nats.

…Cards chose not to sign and passed on reliever Tyson Ross. This was a bit of a puzzler to me…Ross (31) was the type of bullpen man required these days….he went more than 1 inning. That’s become the norm these days…1 inning. For the Cards he was in 9 games, 26 inn, 20 hits, 15 K, era-2.73…better than most.  I wouldn’t think of him as the top of the line….actually closer to the bottom of the line … but he could save arms by going more than 1 inning. I realize that we have a gaggle of young, cheap relievers just itching to sneak into the bullpen. Who wants to be that “mop up” man role? …. That’s what Ross did last year…Surely, surely…it wasn’t because Ross signed for $1.75m contract instead of the minimum of $500,000+.

…..Yadi’ decision….he played in the World baseball matches immediately following the season…. On Thursday he underwent knee surgery. I assume that he feels that the knee will heal completely in 2 months…..I’m not so sure.

….drowning in Bowl games… 30 bowl games is TOO MANY…there aren’t 60 real good teams

Warm Up Bowls….ya know…we’re all familiar with ‘warm up” acts at concerts, performances, etc..well these bowls in early-mid December…they are the warm up acts….many of them hoping to become the “feature” attraction down the road….along those lines… I enjoyed Appalacian State’s play in the New Orleans Bowl. This team was a power force in FCS play—winning 3 straight championships.  Now in their 5th year in FBS….the Mountaineers have won 4 straight bowl games after rolling over Mid Tennessee State 45-13.  This team knocked off Michigan a few years ago….so other Power 5 teams want touch them….how sad. I wrote about Central Florida last week….this school/team is in exactly the same place….not a well know name yet too good for top teams to schedule…maybe we could have a “Step Up” bowl as one of these teams on the rise face a top contender (probably not the league champion) from a Power 5…

….well…I’ve deluged you with all kinds of “stuff”… so you’re probably drowning to keep your head above water….hang on…the end is only letters away.. bye 🙂

Gone in 60 Seconds by Bob Ryan

thHere we go…..60 sec of sports…in no particular order…

 …..Broxton & Moss seem to be living up…or down to the scant hype that formed upon their arrival

 ….it’s still only mid-August…but right now the 2 NL wild-card teams are Pitt & the Cubs….I feel like the Pirates will stay but for the Cubbies it’s virgin territory

 ….even though he’s being useful, I just can’t see Jaime Garcia being resigned…his contract jumps up to $11mil and the years of his most victories (13) were 2010 & 2011…he’s got a lot of baggage…oops ..lots of gauze since that time

 

….for those of you who think Clayton Kershaw has “fallen off”…..uhh….he leads the MLB in strikeouts (197), is 5th in WHIP (0.95), 11th in ERA (2.51),8th in innings pitched (154) – ur right in that he doesn’t dominate every category but he’s still darn good…

 

…Sheldon Richardson and now Aldon Smith….it looks like these def ends went off the deep end…Pinkel claimed that it doesn’t reflect on Mizzou…right!

 

…pop quiz—here are 7 starters from a recent mlb box score—Holt, R.Castillo, T.Shaw, DeAza, Swihart, Rutledge , Bradley….do you know which team it is?

 

…death of Frank Gifford conjures up some ol’ memories….he was, from my view, the 1st “star” of the NFL…played @ USC then NY Giants…the NYG were a powerhouse in those days (late 50’s, early 60’s-prior to Packers domination)…just learned that he came from a migrant family and moved over 40X BEFORE entering high school—talk about overcoming social settings…his passing also made me think of other NYG stars of his era—Sam Huff (MLB), Andy Robestelli (DE), YA Title (QB)—who I just learned is the only post-war HOF QB who did NOT win a post-season game !!

 

….he’s not a “hero’ in town but….the Cards aren’t the same in the 3rd spot of the batting order without Holliday…he hit .291 with an OPS of .833 in his 62 games in that spot of the batting order…Peralta…badly out of place….while hitting 3rd in the lineup(been there 42x) carries .261 avg & .733 OPS…can u believe that Bourjos has been in the 3rd spot of the order 10X while Hayward and Wong just 4X each…Hopefully Grichuk will get a chance shortly if Hayward doesn’t

 

….despite my high hopes that they’ll stay….I just can’t seem to get “revved up” for the Rammies pre-season practices….

 

…..since trading deadline, Toronto Bluejays have won 9 out of 10 ….Tulo seems like he’s really refreshed not having to carry a team by himself….kinda strange seeing him batting 1st in the lineup…right now, the Jays are the top wild-card team and closing in on the Yanks

 

….Piscotty’s punch has been about as strong as a gallon of kool-aid and a shot of gin…still think he’ll be traded

 

….I can’t decide which team has made sharper 180 degee turn since last year –Milwaukee or Oakland…probably the Brew Crew—not many have made such a quick jump from the pent house to the out-house

 

…Kolton Wong is really a good player—speed, good power for 2B, very good defense

 

….in the pre-season NCAA football poll that I saw, TCU was ranked #2….the Horned Frogs probably still have some anger over being the #4 ranked team in the 2nd last week, winning big and then being shoved to #5…look for them to run up the score whenever they have the chance this year…btw…their game against Oklahoma on Nov 21 has only 1,888 seats left for sale and they start at $100…btw#2…I’m a city kid so pls explain…what’s a “horn frog”?

 

….while Ohio State wrestles with who will be their starting QB….one sure thing is our StL product—Ezkiel Elliot (Burroughs) will be the primary ball carrier…and…the Buckeyes could be #1 in the country with ANY one of the 3 QB…sickening, isn’t it ?

 

….every team has one—sure Jaime Garcia drives us nuts with his injuries….KC has highly touted Danny Duffy, another lefty (maybe that’s the key) who is on-off-on-off DL as often as a kid wants a soda/or a trip to the bathroom at the ballgame

 

….why do Cardinal fans go to other stadiums…often, outdraw the homies…and then start chanting, “Let’s Go Cardinals”…..are they trying to piss them off or what? Little wonder that the Lou isn’t loved around the league

 

….Jake Arrieta (Cubs) has entered the elite-starter ring …13-6 with 2.38 era …I’m thinking that the Orioles , who got rid of him, are shaking their head at “what were we thinking”

 

….I’m just saying…if I were a MLB manager and Jonathon Broxton came in to face my team…all 300+ pounds of him….I’d have at least 1 guy bunt down the line…make that big man move…

 

…..can any of you tell me which schools, outside the SEC, are in which conferences….I can probably do OK with the Big 10 (with its 14 schools) but other than that…Pac 12, Big 12 (which now has 10 schools), Mountain West (11 teams), ACC (14 teams), Big East (7 football teams)—btw…Big East has S. Florida, Cincinnati, Pitt….I mean I was poor in Geography…but these guys must have flunked the course

 

…another death of a WWF star…Superfly Jimmy Snooka….good, quick entertainer

 

…as bad as Philly has been all year…since the trading deadline they’ve had a 7 of 10 winning streak…sometimes clearing out all the “old wood” makes it easier to find what’s underneath that is good

 

…remember way back to June when Tampa Bay was in 1st place…well, now the Rays are in 4th place, 6 games behind the Yanks…the long baseball season sorts out the pretenders from the contenders

 

…ok…maybe it took you 2 minutes…those starters were from the last place Boston Red Sox

Our thoughts are with Cubs Nation Today

ernie banks picFor a brief period we will certainly postpone our Rivalry with Chicago and Cub Fans to both

celebrate the LIFE of Mr. Cub – Ernie Banks.  There will be a Double Header today with both

of these towns playing nicely together.

Prepcasts Announcer now in Cardinals System

Congrats to one of our announcers … Matt Schumacker for landing a great job in the Cardinals Organization … check out the press release … Click here for the article …Matt with cards

 

KCMW transitions from FB to BB

As the final couple weeks of football season wind down and we slowly begin basketball coverage, we’ll have a slightly different blog featuring the KCMW semi-final football games and the first broadcasts of hoops coverage for the year.
 
Friday night, we covered the Class 3 semi-final in a tantalizing match between undefeated #2 ranked California and two-loss #10 Oak Grove.  Two high powered offenses met along with stingy defenses but that would only hold true for one squad in what would be an exciting contest.  The second play from scrimmage saw Panthers tailback and K-State commit, Aaron Graham, race 76 yards for a TD to give Oak Grove the lead.  The Pintos would take the ensuing kick 90+ yards for the tying score to only see it erased by their only penalty of the evening.  After being pushed back to mid-field they would drive near the twenty yard line, stall out, and then see a field goal get blocked.  The Panthers would see the game tied by the Pintos late in the first quarter at 7-all, but then roll for the remainder of the contest.
 
The powerful Panther rushing attack took over and saw touchdowns added by four separate backs.  Oak Grove led 21-7 late in the half and watched the Pintos move all the way down to the 2-yard line in hopes of cutting the lead in half.  They would be stopped on multiple plays, including putting lineman Nathan Squires in to bull into the end zone.  The Panther held and would literally run away the rest of the way.  The only other Pinto score on the night would come from a beautifully executed hook-and-ladder (lateral) play for a lengthy score, but the Panther ground game would amass a startling 532 yards in a runaway 49-14 win.  Oak Grove is now on a four week roll where they have whipped opponents that entered with a collective 44-1 record en route to the Panthers title match with John Burroughs.  It is the first trip to the dome for Oak Grove and their first title appearance since 1990.
 
Saturday afternoon featured a great potential on-paper match-up between undefeated #1 Webb City and one-loss #4 Kearney.  It would prove that only on paper, however, as Webb City would utterly control the entirety of the game, never trail, and dominate at crucial times to keep Kearney from every really getting close in the game.  Not just one player led the charge, though Kiante Hardin’s great catches in an early wind, and shutdown defensive play helped grab the early lead for Webb City, who makes a play now for a fifth consecutive state title.  Webb jumped to a 10-0 first quarter lead with the wind at their backs as Minnesota recruit Hardin had four catches for 115 yards.  The first crucial error for Kearney came, though, after one of their biggest plays of the day.  After a 30-yard reception, senior running back Reagan Frakes fumbled the ball back to Webb who would drive for the score and a 17-0 lead.  Webb’s five scores were all from different players in the game.  Kearney would answer with their only score of the day as Frakes went in from 14 yards out to make it a 17-7 halftime score…..but the game did not feel that close.
 
A huge kick to start the second half by the Cardinals Keeton Marsh would set up a short Hunter Vanlue TD score and hold momentum fully in favor of the Cardinals.  They rolled to a 38-7 final, scoring three TD’s off of Kearney turnovers, and accruing seven sacks against a Kearney attack that had to pass earlier than they would have liked.  Coach Jones told area reporters following the game that “the sharks felt the blood in the water”.  The win propels Webb to another title shot against Cape Central, whom they crushed in last year’s semi-final.
 
In early season basketball action, we saw two run-aways in private school action and two tight games from area public schools.  Lowry City Christian hosted long-time rival El Dorado Christian in girls and boys action, and both Buffalo teams got out to early leads and ran away from the LCCS Falcons.  In the girls’ game, a sluggish first quarter saw El Do come from behind to lead 6-4, but turn the jets on from there to get the easy win 44-15.  The Buffaloes height inside was the difference, scoring 34 of their 44 from post players Chaney Housh and Anna Buttorff.  Housh was named Player of the Game as ECH goes to 2-1 on the young season, while the Falcons drop to 0-1.  The boys game was much of the same as ECH led throughout, by nine after one, pushing up to 21 at the half, and getting a running clock late in the game.  They would notch the win easily, 60-29, to move to 1-0 as the Falcon boys fell to 0-1.
 
In public school action, the Appleton City Bulldogs hosted the Lakeland Vikings in girls and boys games as well.  The Bulldogs and Vikings played back-and-forth and close throughout as the Lady Vikings would use their interior height to grab a 39-31 win.  Both teams shot poorly from the floor and even worse from the free throw line, and each had chances to seize control of the game, but it was evident that it was an early season tilt for both squads.  Lana Fellhoelter was the player of the game after leading all scorers with 13 points and establishing the inside game with her height against a much shorter Bulldog squad.  In the boys game, Appleton City led for nearly all the game, until the Vikings raced back for a fourth quarter lead.  It would see-saw throughout the final frame before AC hit some big free throws, Lakeland took some ill-advised shots, and the Bulldogs would hold strong on their home court for the win, 53-47.  Tyler Piepmeier paced the way for the Dogs scoring 24 points, and he was co-player of the game, along with Lakeland’s Gable Dull, drilling huge threes to keep Lakeland close and finishing with 21 in a losing effort.  It was the first game for both schools.