Moving On by Bob Ryan

As the baseball season winds down ….and prior to the excitement of post-season….veteran players reevaluate their status in the MLB……as usual….some will be “hanging it up”…and maybe some should “move on”……here’s a short list of players playing their final week of baseball….probably ending a passion that began as small boys in their home towns/cities

Already have announced their retirement…

….not seen often by St Louis fans…but nonetheless a very successful career…Victor Martinez. Martinez ends after a 16 year career. For his career…all in the AL….he’s averaged .295! He caught for 12 of the 16 years as he played for Cleveland, Boston …only short time-part of 2 years…and then Detroit. Later in his career he was a DH and a 1B. He’s played in 1971 games + whatever the does this week. He has over 2150 hits, 246 HR,  hit over .300 in 9 different seasons and has a career OPS of .815. Martinez reached the post season in 4 different years….hitting .315 in 8 different series. He was an All-Star 5x and Silver Slugger twice. Just as a side….this is a competitor for Yadi when considering inducting catchers into the HOF.  Martinez was involved in one of the WORST trades…Cleveland traded him away to Boston for the little-known trio of Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson and Bryan Price.

….Ryan Howard announced his formal retirement.  The St Louisian from Lafayette HS… where he played for Rusty Ryan…no relation to me…..did not play at all in 2018. He probably held out hopes that he’d play  again….but it wasn’t to be for Howard. Howard did play 13 MLB seasons…and a rarity in today’s world…in all 13 he was a Phillie.  For a 6 stretch…he was a league leader…a League MVP, #2 in MVP another year and #3 in MVP a 3rd year! During his best 6 year stretch, Howard pounded out 262 Home Runs (43/year) for the Phillies and was voted in the top 10 of the League MVP in 5 of those years. Some of his lifetime records are very impressive….led the NL in HR-2x  and is #67 in career MLB  HR,  Led NL in RBI’s-3X, is #73 in Career Slugging % in MLB history. I had never thought of him as a HOF’er but looking at these stats……one WOULD HAVE to take a close look at him. Let’s hope that he’ll become reconnected with the Lou as a retiree.

….some other MLB players who are “moving on” that are recognizable names—Chase Utley, Jason Werth, Shane Victorino (signing a 1 day contract with Phillies so as to end his career where he played his best ball….please take note Albert!

….a list now of some notable players who SHOULD consider “moving on”

..Dustin Pedroia….I think that he was the “heart” of the Red Sox for many years….he really doesn’t hold REAL high numbers….but he was a “winner”…he’s 35 now…played in only 3 games this year after a terrific 12 year career. His career batting average sits right at .300….don’t play any more Dustin…. retire as a career .300 hitter…not a HOF’er but a very successful career in the MLB>

….Jose Reyes….back with the Mets where he began his career in 2003. Lifetime .283 hitter, has over 2100 hits, stole over 500 bases (led the league 4x) and is 33rd ALL-TIME in stolen bases. His only post season years were 2006 and 2016 …both with the Mets…remember…he was a part of the “pond scum” boys back in 06!  Marginal HOF material…

…Aroldis Chapman..he’s seemed to have “lost it” quickly this season….he began 2018 in his customary closing manner….1-2-3 with a strikeout or 2….since he’s suffered a knee injury in mid-year, he has really struggled..Chapman has actually been knocked around in his latest performances…he’s pitched in over 50+ games for 8 straight seasons…maybe his arm and his rocket fastball has lost a bit….he’s earned $67m so one would think that he’d be OK for the rest of his life. IF he does return….I’m predicting solid work until mid-June’ish  and then more of what we are seeing this year.

….Jay Bruce was a power hitter for the Reds from 2008 to 2016. He blasted 241 home runs in that span.  In 2016 he was traded to the Mets, in 2017 moved on to Cleveland and then back to NY Mets this year.  This year, it was apparent that he’s “lost it”….he had many nagging injuries and circled the bases for a HR only 9 times. Chronologically he’s young…31 years old but his body is old.

…Adam Wainwright…he really has personified being  a true Cardinal….he’s been an outstanding performer .. often in clutch or post-season games…he’s a real “team” man….conducts himself in the highest manner on and off the field …..but….it’s time….let’s not have to hope that he can “get through” 5 innings… Can he do it every 5 days?  I don’t think so……I don’t want to see him “hanging on”….he’s had far too much class to do that in his fading days. He’s  in his 13th MLB season….he’s earned $134m…come on….he, his kids, their kids and great grandkids are set…..why be pushed “out’ due to ineffectiveness…pls step out this off-season. His contract expires this year….it’s  a perfect time. We obtained him with Ray “Burger” King & Jason Marquis for JD Drew & Eli Marrero in 2003…what a robbery!

Not Good news for the Blues

…..The San Jose Sharks pulled off a tremendous trade recently. Acquiring one of the best defensemen in the league in Erik Karlsson from the Senators without giving up much quality, Sharks really improved. This move puts the Sharks as the front runner in the West.  By adding Karlsson now in the mix, the Sharks now may send out…  on defense… their newest All-Star along with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Karlsson & Burns…together…have won 3 of the last 7  Norris Trophy Awards (Award to Best Defenseman) …and were finalists 3 other times….  Karlsson is in the final year of his contract…so what…in this world of WIN NOW….it fits right into the current approach.

Around the MLB (outside of the Lou)

Commissioner Rob Manfred has long been advocating for MLB expansion. He would like to see a 32 team league. He believes that four 4-team divisions for each league would be ideal for baseball. Gosh…just think how poor the pitching would be if we added 2 more teams…ugly thought.  Leading candidates for the expansion…at this moment..are Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville and Montreal (again?) and Vancouver in Canada and maybe even in Mexico?

Cardinals Trending Upward..

The Cards continue their march towards the playoffs as the games remaining dwindles down into single digits. Barring a real collapse, the 2nd wild card spot… and maybe even higher…appears to be within grasp. Receiving contribution from many different players in the final weeks of the season has keep the hopes alive…..Tyson Ross …twice this week chewing up innings to help preserve the tired arms of the bullpen…our new Closer…Carlos Martinez  now  4 for 4 in save opportunities…a key hit to the opposite field one day and a HR another day by Matt Adams off the bench.  Of course the regular contributions of Yadi,  Matt Carpenter …who seems to go on HR binges and then strikeout binges alternately, Harrison Bader…who’s speed and hustle not only changed results but…from my ol’ eyes.. changed the approach of some of the veterans about running the bases and Jose Martinez who doesn’t seem to see any pitch that he doesn’t “like” at the plate and yet continues to hold his average over  the prized .300 mark. The bunt game being reinvented by the Cardinal Manager.  Kolton Wong now seems to play relaxed and confident and continues to dazzle defensively…he’s no longer a puppet being yanked back and forth after a sour play or AB. Myself….I’d prefer a really good fielding “up the middle” defense…catcher, 2B, SS, CF….I do think that we’ve made strides in that regard since Shildt assumed the managerial duties.

Mizzou-Georgia Football

Mizzou football acquitted itself with a strong performance against the Georgia Bulldogs. Statistically, the Tigers appear to have been “about even” with the Bulldogs. Georgia  opened up 27-7 lead early in the 3rd quarter and from that point on, the teams traded TD’s to reach the final score of 43-29. Offensively, MU displayed a balanced offense—172 rushing yards, 221 passing yards and the ability to put points on the board. Key drops, a very poor punt attempt (resulting in a Bulldog TD), and a leaky pass defense stole the “upset” tag away from the determined Tigers. Georgia schemed its secondary to remove the long ball passing threat of the Tigers…something that I imagine will be continually seen throughout the remainder of 2018 by all future opponents. Clearly this is a bowl team…my pre-season pick of 7 wins, may be on the low side….let’s hope so.

A Standing Ovation

Oklahoma entered their game against Army as 29 point favorites. The Sooners were 12th in the country in total offense averaging 551 yards per game entering the game against the Black Knights. It was supposed to be a cupcake win at home in Norman, OK. Not one of the major networks…or evn the minor networks….carried the game…it was going to be a blow-out.  But….it was totally different on Saturday….Army ran 87 plays — 78 rushing — to Oklahoma’s 40 total plays and dominated the time of possession 44:41 to 15:19, nearly three times as much. Four of Army’s seven offensive drives were 16 plays or more. It was tied in 21-21 in regulation. OU scored on its 1st possession in OT and then stopped Army to notch a 28-21 win. It was such an outstanding performance by the Black Knights  that the OU fans gave the ARMY team a standing ovation as they left the field!!!

NO Touchdowns in an NFL Game?!?

Nope….on Sunday, the Tennessee Titan beat Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6…..5 field goals! This is shocking in modern day football….both teams like to run the ball…so the clock moved and moved and moved on…team net offense was amazing close..233 yards for the Titans and 232 for the Jaguars! The leading rusher in the game was Derrick Henry with a whopping 57 yards. I didn’t see any of the game, I went out to “work” in the yard…isn’t that what we do during NFL games now?…by the time I returned …it was OVER!!

HS Game of the Week…..Back to the Future……

The matchup in the Suburban West-American conference between the Marquette Mustangs (4-1) and Lindbergh Flyers (3-2) seemed to be like a quick trip with Marty McFly and Doc Brown back to the future. These two good teams prefer keeping the ball on the ground instead of winging it in this game of the week.  Lindbergh took a 14-7 lead early in the 4th quarter on Bobby Tessler’s 2nd TD of the game. The Mustangs tied the game on Kyle Mill’s 14 yard gallop. Mill was the leading rusher in the game with 151 rushing yards. With only 23 seconds left in the game, Collin Fisk booted a 23 yard FG for the winning margin….how ol’ school was it….Marquette rushed for 187 yards and passed for 76 yards. The Flyers pounded out 229 yards while passing for just 57 yards…..Marty & Doc were probably smiling.

TEAM of the Week-Seckman Jaguars in Softball

Seckman participates in the grueling Suburban Yellow conference.   Teams from this one conference are ranked in the Large School Softball Poll this week–#1, #3, #4, #10, #11 and now breaking into the top 10 at the #7 are the Seckman  Jaguars (9-3). Seckman won their own tournament this week with  wins overy Kelly, Pacific,  and Ft Zumwalt West in the championship game.Then a conference win over always tough, Oakville iced up the week. It isn’t as if Seckman hasn’t had good teams….they’ve won  16, 22, 16, 19 and 17 games over the last 5 years.  But….being in a conference where the top teams often land in Springfield for the State Finals…. pushes  the Jaguar accomplishments into the background at times.  The Leading Batters for the Jags are led by  Sr. Meagan McCorkell  .488. The other three .400 batters are Jr. Blakeli Holdenried .419, Sr. Haley Lukzsa .407, Soh. Alex Waggoner  .400. Pitching duties are split between Jr Lauren Montgomery and Jr. Lexi Knoll.

Well….it’s time for me to be “moving on”…..

 

 

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