Contenders or Pretenders by Bob Ryan

Contenders  or Pretenders

Hottest team in the MLB BY FAR right now..and now a contender… is the St. Louis Cardinals…winner of 10 straight series….the Cards have blended a plethora of youth into their pitching corp, rebuilt the confidence of some key young field players, began using the run game offensively,  established a  very sound “up the middle” defense, found a defensive place for a very good hitter in 2018 (Martinez) so that he can play most days, managed the bullpen in a manner that they ARE USED effectively but aren’t overused in repeated days.  Several clubs went out to purchase veterans to attempt to fill immediate, short-term needs for the month of September….often the thought is…if this guy can help us win just 2 or 3 games, he’s worth it. The Cards used their farm system to restructure their roster (much…much cheaper)  I don’t want to sound negative…..but don’t go bonkers on every young Cardinal player who’s succeeding right now… let the league get a “book” on them and THEN…see how the young player adapts.  MLB is all about adapting to the opposition…but …it sure is fun watching the Birds right now.

Late Moves Around the MLB for contenders and pretenders…

…Pirates ..showing that they are pretenders…sent David Freese to the Dodgers to “ give him an opportunity to pursue a World Series championship this season,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.…cut me a break.. he doesn’t need that experience ….what he did in 2011 in StL world series will NEVER be forgotton by the Cardinal fans ..he was the NLCS MVP and his game winning Home RUN has become a Cardinal Classic Moment…the Pirates simply were looking to cut payroll and look to 2019..btw…Freese is hitting .282, OPS of .780, 42 rbi in just 241 AB….weren’t the CARDS looking for a backup 3B?

…the Dodgers…hoping to become a contender… did reshape their roster around the deadline time….Manny Machado was brought on board…I think he’s overrated….yes…many HR’s …flashy …. But does he do it in the clutch? Brian Dozier.. acquired from Minnesota for middle infield help, John Axford…man, his resume is really becoming long and now David Frese….so much for the always hyped LA farm system…LA is chasing the D-Backs and the Rockies as they scramble for a wild card spot…

….Seattle…a long-term pretender… is trying to break their 16 year playoff draught and recently fired 10 scouts…yikes!   but can’t gain ground on the Oakland A’s. Oakland is competing with a salary base just under $90m….to give you an idea of this successful…yet frugal franchise…Stephen Piscotty has the longest and highest contract on the team @ 6 years, $33+mil!… TU to the Cards & MO…… which tells me that he’ll be traded over the winter for “prospects” – 9 or 10 other players have a higher yearly salary for Oakland but don’t have as many years…

…Speaking of the A’s….a contender that most fans think of as a pretender….Edwin Jackson… remember him….pitched for the Cards in STILL pitching! He’s now 34 years old..Oakland is his 13th different major league team in his 16 years of MLB experience. He’s actually having one of his best years!!  He’s 4-3, 3.03 era, 68 inn, 55 hits, 49 strikeouts


College Football kicked off the 2018 season this weekend….some “passing” thoughts…

….Army losing to Duke 34-14 WASN’T startling news…but…..the Cadets did raise some eyebrows with their offense.  Army passed the ball 21 times for 197 yards against Duke…yes…it’s a modest total in this day and age of passes winging around the stadium like mosquitoes at dusk on a hot summer night…but last year Army passed the ball just 65 total times for a total of 361 yards in their 13 games!!

…in Florida, some fans really want to make a point about U of Cen Florida  2017 season…Orlando lawyer Chad Barr confirmed that he’s hiring a plane to fly over the Alabama-Louisville game with a banner that reads “UCF ’17 CO-National Champs 13-0” so as to reinforce the point that UCF wasn’t a pretender last year… UCF opened the 2018 by slugging UConn 56-17.

…some writers speculated last week that Michigan State was really a pretender and not a Top 15 team of the country after winning several very close games last year (that could easily swing the other way this year & hit hard by graduation). The Spartans didn’t do much to dispel that theory this weekend as the Spartans squeaked by Utah State 38-31..Utah State was 6-7 last year!

…the idea that Chip Kelly could IMMEDIATELY make UCLA looks like the Bruins contenders that they always were throughout the past was jolted….I mean…big-time…UCLA dropped a 26-17 HOME game to Cincinnati….

…The once always dominant contender, Texas…where are you Daryl Royal?… which was rated in the top 25 in a national pre-season poll…much to the surprise of most people outside of Texas….dropped  several notches to just above a pretender level after a stunning loss to Maryland 34-29…Tom Herman brought in as Head Longhorn coach last season with high hopes of regaining the lofty luster once attributed to Longhorn football program than now seems far away …saw his team convert only 3 3rd downs, had 3 turnovers, piled up 100+ penalty yards….now those numbers sound like a pretender to me.

..btw….if a team needs to schedule an FCS level football team to reach the minimum goal of 6 wins to reach a bowl….are they really worth a bowl?  My take….wins versus FCS teams should not count towards the wins necessary to reach a bowl (.500 season) my mind, racking up wins against FCS teams is pretending that you’re a contender.

…Alabama is the real CONTENDER….who’s going beat the Crimson Tide? Tell me now….not after it happens.


BEST HIGH School GAMES  OF THE WEEK..those not already covered in depth by our friends @ StLtoday

St. Marys vs Lutheran South……

St. Mary’s and Lutheran South played an Overtime game on Friday in a game that matched these two southside schools for the 1st time.  St Mary’s fell behind 12-8 after the 1st quarter as South QB Vito Orlando was red hot passing. He found Darrick Scott and Isiah Wilson for TD strikes in the opening quarter. The 2nd quarter saw the Dragons take a 22-19 lead with Frosh Kevin Coleman hauling in a 65 yard pass for his 2nd of 3 touchdowns. Scoreless 3rd quarter….in the 4th quarter, the game came down to the last drive, Luth South had a short field and moved the ball down to a 1st & goal…their drive was halted ..with only 16 seconds remaining Jacob Martinez kicked through what appeared to be  the tying FG…a whistle had blown to stop the play…soooo….Martinez kicked it through again from 28 yards out to tie the game. In the OT. Coleman scored his 3rd of the game (6th of the season) on the very 1st play of OT but the attempted PAT was blocked.  South fought past some penalties to get a 1st down and then  Demetrius Jeffrey ran 7 yards to tie it  up….Martinez knocked the game winner straight through the uprights giving South the 29-28 win… it was a thrilling game with momentum changing throughout the contest.

Hannibal vs Jefferson City

In a game that see-sawed back & forth…a last second coaches’ call changed the game….Hannibal took a 7-0 lead after 1 quarter. The Jays grabbed a 15-7 lead in the 2nd only to see the Pirates score 2 TD’s to retake a halftime lead 21-15 lead. A 39 yd TD strike to Ryan Brooks along with the PAT saw JC hold a 3rd quarter 22-21 lead. Damien French scored his 3rd TD of the night for the Pirates at the 10:52 mark of the 4th, but the PAT missed…so score was 27-22 Hanibal. With just 3 minutes remaining Devin

Roberson threw a 24-yard touchdown to Levi Jobe and converted the two-point conversion on a QB keeper to give the Jays a 30-27 lead,.  Hannibal…got the ball back…moved the balldown to the JC 17.. …a seemingly game-winning touchdown pass  on 4th down & 9..from Gabe Worthington to Lawson Rickey looked like it’d make the Pirates the winner…but….it didn’t count!  Hannibal Head Coach ,Mark St. Clair had asked for a timeout  just seconds prior to the play. The next attempt for the 1st down, a run..failed…. Jefferson City wins the game…WOW ..what an ending and what a game!











  1. Arthur Hanff says:

    Never been a Matt Adams guy, inconsistent at the plate and can’t get out of his own way or stay on his feet at 1st base. Reminds me of a little leaguer I once saw. Anyway, why did we recycle Matt Adams and pass on David Frese? I agree, we could use him as backup or more at 3rd base.

  2. Hi Bob! As always, good stuff. A few thought…

    Cards: August was a fun month for Cards fans! Neat to see the “young birds” playing so well.

    Although I’m hopeful, I feel that September will find the Birds returning “ to earth”.
    Cubs & Brewers bats are pretty potent! I like the Cards pitching, base-running and improved defense , but not quite enough CONSISTENT offense.
    This “ see the kids play “ strategy is the right move & should pay dividends next year & beyond. Mike Schildt’s “ quick hook” is today’s game, and for the most part, has worked.

    Unless for a bargain, I’d let Ozuna walk. Seems like a decent team guy, but until 2017, he was an average contributor. Better find a spot for Munoz… hits, good / flexibility on defense, with better than average speed. Time to move Carson Kelly. He’ll never get an extended look in StL.
    I also have no problem moving Carlos Martinez. Too many years of hype with minimal results. He’s not Steve Carlton, so moving him may help him & the return he might produce.
    Where is Michael Girsch? Mo continues to be the public voice for the team.

    Mizzou: I don’t feel that Tennessee Martin is a fair gauge of the Tigers strength/weaknesses.
    Can they be competitive , rather than cupcakes against SEC powerful teams…Bama, Auburn, etc

    Dodgers: They May very well be a post season player! I like the addition of Dozier & Freese! Machado is a rental they gave far too much for the return.

    Ready for September Baseball!!

    • Hold the phone… or cell phone or Alexa!! I bet ol Manisfesto would be taking a beating this morning for use of the bullpen or failure of the bullpen the last few days. Oh, and hitting coach “Mayberry” is terrible. His hitters should be able to score runs with bases loaded and nobody out. Remember, it’s all about elevating the ball. It is all his fault! Oh wait, there is a different guy doing that coaching. I guess the honeymoon is over….. Why was Bud Norris in that game yesterday? If I know it from my couch, how do those in charge not know it?

      Hopefully, the ship gets righted quickly. bottom line – players have to perform. It isn’t all on the managers or coaches.

      But boy, Bud Norris’s numbers are falling as the season goes on.

      Once in a while, maybe, just maybe, Jose Martinez should swing at the first pitch fastball that teams seem to throw him right down the middle. (He had a rough two days) I hope he goes to talk with the batting coach. Okay, I’ll stop. Ha

      The NFL season starts Thursday. I will be skipping the paragraphs dedicated to it. (No really, I usually don’t care anymore). See you at the Super Bowl party!! New England vs Fill-in-the Blank.

      Nick Saban is always crabby. I wonder if he truly enjoys any part of his life. Wait, I sound crabby – and I really am in a pretty good mood!!

      Glad to see a few good college games over the weekend that were not “cupcake” games.

      Thanks Bob. Let’s hope our boys of summer, rebound and take the heat away from Mr. Schildt.


  3. The Cardinals are off and running and I’m happy to see them do it with the younger players coming up. I think it is the best way to go and if we can keep them around that would be great. And, the consistency of playing Wong at 2nd, Carp at 1st and some others on a regular basis is the way to go in my mind. That being said, I don’t see us making the playoffs even after such a nice 10 game series win. I don’t think we have the offensive consistency to get us there and even though we have some great young talent in the bullpen, I don’t think we have the starting pitching to get us through. I’m not optimistic with Wano nor Wacha but know they will give them a chance and more than one. If they have had rehab starts that would be a plus but as many have done in the past, if they say they are ready, then they don’t need to go down for some work. Even if they do rehab starts, it won’t matter. I have no idea on that but we are running out of games. I think the Cubs and the Brewers are going to finish 1 & 2. Brewers will get a wild card along with the Dodgers who are loading up for the last short run. The Pirates have faded and thank goodness we are finished with Cincy as they sure can be spoilers. We really blew the last two games and it’s a crime as we had leads that we blow in the 9th. I thought the new mgr. was going to pull Norris for sure but left him in. Then used him the 2nd day in a row after a botched situation……I suppose he was working on his confidence. Walked two and he leaves him in???? I’m not sure this new manager is the answer but it was time for Matheny to go.


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