Foul Ball with 2 Strikes by Bob Ryan

So on July 15, the Cards fired Mike Matheny and appointed Mike Shildt “interim manager”….it was a clear indication that the Cards realized a managerial move had to be made but weren’t exactly sure that Shildt was the “man”…at that time it seemed that he had about as much chance of becoming the permanent manager as….

….as the Marlins drawing 1,000,000 fans for the season…currently at 609,665 (63 home dates)

….as Butch Cassidy & Sundance escaping from the Bolivian soldiers at end of movie

….as much chance as Robert E. Lee winning a significant battle in 1865 against U.S. Grant

….as much chance as Baltimore Orioles winning 50 games this year (they have 37 right now)

….as much chance as Carson Kelly being the Cards regular catcher some day..his ship has sailed

….as much chance as the bar “Cheers” running out of beer or laughs

….as much chance as the Indy 500 becoming the Indy 600

….as much chance as Rocky losing to Apollo Creed

…well….the Cardinals have gone 24-12 .667 during his tenure…matching the Cardinals all-time best starts by Cardinal Managers…Ray Blades in 1939 and Rogers Hornsby 1925….It’s time to sign him to a contract for next year….yes…I know the “interim” title has been removed but name him MANAGER for 2019 NOW!!  What more does he have to do in his audition?  The only team… that I know of… that had a better record was the 1927 New York Yankees 110-47 –.714%….Babe Ruth blasted 60 home runs that year but Lou Gehrig who hit .373 and was the AL RBI champion was voted the League MVP!!…btw…the Yanks had SIX batters who hit over .300 that year!

The sad Urban Meyer saga…more on sports in general…

…Urban Meyer’s 3 game suspension …opener against Oregon State ..1-11 last year ..only win was over the always tough Portland State team…game 2 against Rutgers (4-8 last year) and game 3 finally sees a quality opponent in TCU…this suspension is like hitting a foul ball in baseball with 2 strikes…..it really doesn’t matter much…was it intended to be a punishment to Meyer?  It seems to me…from afar….that Meyer DID know about it but..due to his tremendous winning percentage @ Ohio State the trustees board didn’t want to jeopardize their “cash cow”. Here’s a couple of the initial comments after the press conference– from John Clay-Lexington Herald–“Meyer never once apologized to Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith, saying only, “I’m just sorry we’re in this situation.”  He also denied that he knew about the text messages that Courtney Smith sent Meyer’s wife alleging the abuse.  The report also states that Meyer deleted text messages on his phone that were more than a year old.  Thanks to his 73-8 record and one national title in Columbus, Meyer remains the Ohio State football coach. It’s another example of winning matters more than anything else. Also, coaches have way, way too much power.”

Paul Finebaum-hosts SEC football show—some very powerful statements ..when he said, “We wouldn’t be having this conversation at this level this morning if Urban Meyer walked into that room last night and taken some responsibility… but instead of showing an ounce of remorse, he came off like HE was a hostage …That guns were off camera to his head. He never looked up. His behavioral techniques and behavioral attitude was utterly bizarre. I was just dumbstruck by that. And even more than that, the fact that he couldn’t utter Courtney Smith’s name, to me, shows what this was really all about. This was a good ol’ boy club at Ohio State and many other places. They looked the other way. It came out in the investigation that people on that staff knew that Zach Smith, the assistant coach who was fired, they knew that he was having sex with a staffer, but they never told Urban Meyer.  Urban Meyer just doesn’t know anything going on around him because he doesn’t want to know. Because he’s a football coach and the only thing that matters to him is winning football games. And he sold his soul. He sold his integrity. And Ohio State still has one of the great football coaches in modern history, but at what price?”

Inside Higher Ed wrote “Athletics experts said in interviews with Inside Higher Ed that university officials clearly attempted to save their “brand” while responding to the crisis and were not concerned for Courtney Smith’s welfare — or about doing the right thing. “The Board of Trustees and president have become co-conspirators to protect Ohio State football and it will be, it is, a shameful chapter,” said Gerald Gurney, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Oklahoma. Gurney said college sports as a whole has clearly not learned from the lessons of Pennsylvania State University, site of perhaps the most egregious athletics cover-up to date, involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Gurney rattled off a number of recent scandals plaguing collegiate athletics: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill escaping consequences by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for longtime academic fraud, Larry Nassar’s assaults at Michigan State University and the football-related death in June of a first-year player at University of Maryland College Park. “When is enough, enough?” Gurney asked. “Why does American college sports, big-time college sports, continually have the drumbeat of these similar scenes and we do nothing about it? All for the sake of a winning program. Really?”   But had a coach at a lesser-known program committed the same sins as Meyer, he or she likely would have been fired, said Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. Solomon said the press conference represented a missed opportunity for Ohio State to speak candidly about domestic violence.”

Now….I love sports…always have…..but sports now seems to have become more important ….to many….than the total development of the students in & out of the activity…sports should be a tool for us in our development….not the “end all”….most of us first played against our friends…then on teams….trying to improve our skills, enjoying the competition against others, working to help the team, learning about discipline, being on time, cooperation from someone other than our parents ..the better athletes went on to play high school, college and once in a great while..professionally…many skilled and nonskilled players continued to play baseball, softball, basketball beyond their high school days…for the enjoyment of sports….

the actual college degrees of the vast majority of students who will make contributions to society after college ..including the athletes…should enhance and improve our society…beyond just the entertainment of playing a game. College should be a stepping stone in our lives towards building an opportunity for a good future…sure, a few…and a darn few…will “make it” in the pro level but why sacrifice all the benefits of a college experience to “win a game”? Sadly, I even see this same attitude permeating at the high school level… and even at the “moneyball” level…some call it select ball… as youngsters. Early on, kids realize it’s really about making the correct “select team”….or the high school team…or college team…they know that Mom/Dad expect them to reach those goals..or they’ve failed. That’s the pay back for years on high financial investments for trips, entry fees, uniforms of all sorts, participation fees, travel expenses, summers that become 1 long road trip, etc, etc. Why do you suppose that adult fast pitch…and even slow pitch… softball, baseball, basketball leagues have disappeared?  …I suggest it’s because children aren’t being raised to play sports for enjoyment…only for their payback in high school or college. I don’t see men/women playing many sports after the age of 25…many seemed to be burned out on sports. Am I proposing to abolish those teams….nope…we all have choices….please keep in mind that EVERYONE does have a ceiling on their physical ability and you can pay someone big dollars to develop your skills but ultimately…to reach high levels of competition .. you MUST be a superior athlete…when I was coaching Frosh football….at tryouts, I didn’t pay much attention to their skills…..how athletic were they?  I could teach the skills…but I can’t teach them to run fast, being extremely agile, possess high levels of coordination, strength, jump high. I think that one should play sports for enjoyment…gosh…I almost used the word “fun”….how scandalous would that be?….. play also for the thrill of game, personal challenges for improving your sports skills, lifetime skills, meanwhile learning interpersonal skills. The better athletes WILL STILL advance to extremely high levels and maybe the others will continue playing the sports that they learned to love. My Dad NEVER asked me if I won a game….and I was on some “nice” teams for my era….he’s always asked, “did you have fun?”

….Around the MLB…

….the Oakland A’s have fought their way up to 2nd place in the AL West with a 78-52 record…using a very effective bullpen led by Blake Treinen…the A’s closer is listed by some as a CY Young candidate-32 sv, 6 wins, 0.87 era…..yet their fans aren’t fighting to buy a seat….the A’s are only averaging 18,000+ per game at home this year….. ….overall MLB attendance is down around 6% for the year….only 9 teams have improved home attendance over last year…fans aren’t going because …it seems to me…. The strikeout/walk/HR games are boring…put the ball in play…get some baserunners…put them in motion…action, action, action…. ….the highest average in the Toronto Blue Jay lineup of the players on the roster from early in the season on Friday night was a whopping .258…that coming from our Lou boy…Aledmys Diaz…with that team average..they are  29 games out of 1st place!

….despite all the pre-season groaning about both Florida teams “selling off”….the Tampa Bay team is 69-61 -3rd place in the AL East…they keep winning despite all the attrition

….Max Scherzer leads the entire Major Leagues with 16 wins at this time and 2nd in NL ERA.…congrats to our StL boy!!

…Recently the Cubs turned 7 double plays in ONE game…tying a MLB all-time record

…if I were an MVP NL voter right now…..I’d cast my vote for Freddie Freeman…Atlanta is in 1st place…much to the surprise of every honest person…. he’s the leader of the team…..he leads the National League in batting @ .320,  2nd in HITS, 4th in doubles, 8th  in runs scored,  10th in RBI’s

..Remember all the fuss last winter as the MLB teams gushed over, courted, recruited GianCarlo Stanton…he signed a long term contract with the NYY. This year he received $25m…for what?   .282 avg, 32 HR, 82 RBI’s, an OPS of .888…you determine if it is worth the cost?

College Football…

…..Mizzou has been picked 4th in the East of SEC….I’m hoping for a 7-5 record …with that guess… I’m assuming that the only HOME loss is to Georgia

…Alabama’s deep offensive depth may take them back to the Bear Bryant days when he substituted his entire 2nd offensive unit once each half…..often they moved the ball and scored!

…As Scott Frost returns home to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers….he’s just learned that the former CBC running back, Tre Bryant, will not be playing football due to a continuing leg/knee issue.

….most coaching services list Lovie Smith as being on the “hot seat” this year…his Illinois program seems stymied in a quagmire…he has 3 real cupcakes to start the season (Kent State, W. Illinois and S. Florida)so he SHOULD be 3-0 for the Big-10 opener against Penn State..Lovie’s first 2 years at Champaign have been 2-10 and 3-9 so it doesn’t appear the Illini Coach with the longest tenure,  Robert Zuppke (1913-1941),…that’s not his age…that’s how many years he was head coach at Illinois…has much to worry about in losing his longevity title!! …btw….in recent days, the last Illini coach with a winning record was John Mackovic (1988-91)  32-16-1…Mackovic went on to the NFL.

High School Football starts!!

Each week I try to find games that went under the radar in coverage….no need for me in repeating what the StL Today has covered extensively….I’m not trying to “push” or promote any particular schools….here goes…

…MOST EXCITING game of the Week!

Columbia 36  Mascoutah 34…this game had SEVEN different lead changes… each team returned a kickoff for a touchdown Columbia led 14-7 after 1st quarter…at half it was Mascoutah on top 17-14…at the end of 3 quartes it was Columbia 29 Mascoutah 24…Mascoutah scored a TD on an 80 yard runby Devin Wills and a running 2 pt conversion also by Wills with 5:44 left in the game then Cole Junker kicked a 15 yard FG with only 1:29 remaining in the game..making the score 35-29 Mascoutah on top….but it wasn’t over…on the ensuing kickoff  Londyn Little ran it back 90 yards on the  return and Sam Horner kicked the PAT…it took 13 seconds..taking the clock down to 1:16..Columbia held on to the 36-35 victory!

….MOST UNUSUAL ENDING TO A GAME THIS WEEK

Helias 35 Hannibal 34…..Helias Crusaders scored on 4 consecutive possessions on route to taking a 35-20 lead entering the 4th quarter. The Hannibal Pirates “had no quit in them” and pushed across two touchdowns including a TD score after a 12 play drive brought the score to 35-34 with 2:36 remaining in the game. Hannibal went for the win on the 2 point attempt but were foiled when Soph Isaac Lopez stepped up and made the tackle short of the end zone to keep the Crusaders lead. On the ensuing kickoff, as Helias had sent the “hands team” into the game expecting an onside kick of some sort…shortly after the football was struck and bouncing towards a return man there was a big flash of light that knocked out the lighting system.  It wasn’t a storm bolt but rather a vehicle accident had struck out a power  source and turned the stadium into darkness. After about an hour…the replay occurred and Helias covered the KO and ran out the clock for the win.

…MOST SURPRISING SCORE (at least to me) OF THE NIGHT…..

For decades..almost as long as I can remember, Hazelwood Central has been a powerhouse in StL high school football with several STATE championships and trips to the DOME…..meanwhile, after a long successful run from 2005-2012 when the DeSmet Spartans were 65-18 and won a state championship, the Spartans had gone 5-35 in the last 4 years. It seemed like a “blow out” on the way….and IT WAS…but not as you expected….the DeSmet Spartans manhandled the Hazelwood Central Hawks 37-2 on Friday night. DeSmet piled up over 400 yards of total offense while limiting the Hawks to under 100 yards of total offense. Congrats to the Spartans for “turning it around”!

….no more foul balls with 2 strikes….it’s football season!

 

 

Comments

  1. I could not agree with you more on Mike Shild status with the Cards. I really thought that since he coached under Matheney that we would just get more of the same. But no, he has imagination, guts and baseball savey. He is a legacy to George Kissel, and should be rewarded with a permanent contract. I did not think that the Cards could compete right now with this talent. I wanted them early in the season to get rid of the veterans and just play the kids. Though coaching changes and injuries, this has now happened. Why did it take until this late in the season to realize that Bader was our best outfielder. Tommy Pham was playing ahead of him? One additional change that should also be noted is the removal of Mabry as the hitting coach. Early in the season, it seemed like whenever anyone needed help, they sent them down to the minors to get instructions. Now those guys have been promoted to the big show and look at the results. Makes you think that the bow tie in the general managers seat should also get some scrutiny. I have save the most controversial comment for last. I know it may sound bizarre, but if the Cards do not make the playoffs this year, immediately trade Carpenter for a couple of good prospects. I now he is the MVP for the Cards this season, but he does not fit the mold of the team that they are building for the future and his market value will never be higher. I am afraid he is too old and slow to be part of the team for the next 5 years. BK

  2. Bob
    Awesome article…Agree with you on Youth & HS sports.
    So sad that you have to Specialize & get on that top club in baseball, soccer, etc team so you can get some looks… so that their kids can get a college scholarship–the odds are against ya!
    I was lucky & did play D2 tennis but my parents never pushed me & they went to just one of my CBC tennis matches…I lost …My mom …God bless her soul… asked “Do we make You nervous ?” I said Yes..it was the last tennis match they went to see me!!
    I agree Freddie Freeman as baseball MVP…Game is too slow& boring .
    Love College football…Can’t wait to see My Irish!
    My younger bro…Die hard Blue Fan.
    Urban Meyer lost all respect for him.
    US tennis open starting this week…Can’t believe Kerber…#1 seed lost 1st round today
    That has never happen before in US Open history 50 years
    MB

  3. The first thing I noticed in your blog this week was you used Manifesto’s name- the one he was given at birth. You called him Mike Matheny! Good job! Ha!

    Mike Schildt has been great. Mr. Mo, our President of Baseball Operations, exiled a few slugs from the bullpen, invented a few injuries, traded Tommy Pham who I think… was a cancer in the ol clubhouse and brought up a whole new set of arms. Oh yeah, and there was that fracture in the foot of Dexter what’s his name…. Me think Mo knew he had to do something more than just fire Mr. Matheny. I wonder what he thought of all the moves??? (But it was time for him to move on).

    I don’t think Matheny would have used the bullpen as Schildt has. I think Wong is feeling like a free man and we all have seen what Harrison Bader is capable of if he is allowed to just go out and play.

    What Carp has done is just short of a miracle but he sure lit a fire under the team. I for one can’t wait for the next game and I am once again excited to watch a game. They have become a fun team to watch.

    I love baseball, I love September pennant races and I think we have one coming.
    Urban Meyer and his Ohio State cronies are scuzz bags. Heck, Tyrelle Pryor got more games for getting tattoos than Meyer got.

    Hey, my old man baseball team still plays for the love of the game. We know no different. It is all we have done in our lives and we just find it hard to quit. I will leave it at that.

    JP

    • Nothing against Mike Schist but .666 for 36 mid-season games does not a season winning percentage make. Let’s watch TIL the end of the season.

      When Aaron Hernandez enrolled at Florida, Urban Meyer stated “Aaron will either be in prison or a Hall of Famer.” What more need you know about Coach Meyer?

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