Ruffled Feathers by Bob Ryan

In all parts of life complaining is a daily occurrence. In most cases, it’s a trivial matter…except at that moment for that person….so life goes on. However, at the next level of complaining…some people react or they clearly make their feelings known to MANY other folks…that … also…is the situation in the sports world..many really have their “feathers ruffled”…and it starts right here in the Lou..

…Phenom Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty had a very impressive rookie season but his feathers are ruffled. He posted a 3.34 ERA with 182 strikeouts and 59 walks across 151 innings, while showing only an 8-9 record for the season. Keep in mind, wins & losses are often a reflection of the bullpen. The current model is for starters to only go 5 or 6 innings these days. Then they turn it over to the bullpen to hold their lead… with the Cards bullpen last year….we know how that worked out.  Back to Flaherty, he is listed as the #2 starter of the rotation for 2019. He REALLY has shown that he is a top flight performer, …not just hype—like we often hear…in the MLB….so after this wonderful rookie season, he expected a raise above the minimum offerings for 2nd year player. The Cards offered him $ 572,100…while that’s big money in the rest of the world…its only $17,100 (just a tad above 3%) above the league required minimum for a 2nd year player…any player….no matter what their performance was in 2018. He refused to sign the contract so the Cardinals…within their rights… unilaterally renewed his contract for $562,100 following a club policy of fining any player with less than 3 years service time $10,000 for not signing the contract. They did the identical thing to Jordan Hicks….the next home-grown closer…this year also.  Now Flaherty said all the right things afterwards,“It’s nothing on the Cardinals. They play within what the system is,” Flaherty said. “Their process is great and it makes sense, but in the grand scheme of things the system itself that everybody plays under just isn’t — it’s not a great system… for everybody.” The Cardinals had never experienced this situation until Tommy Pham refused to sign the contract last spring….and was fined. Pham was always described by the press as “playing with a chip”…I guess so!  Clearly Flaherty has felt the underside of the Cardinals moneybag. While being touted across Florida and Arizona by many sports writers as the next real “star” starting pitcher in the NL….he gets nickeled-dimed by the Cards. Now…I don’t know what he was asking in his request….but lets be honest ….for a player who’s already contributed.. and who is penciled in as a #2 starter for THIS season…paying him inappropriately when you have $8m guys on the bench seems foolish to me….and ….I think… also to Flaherty….who will remember this tactic down the road…like Pham did.

 ….more and more young, star players are exposing the MLB system of extending their “6 years of service” prior to free agency.  A full year is one that a player must play on or before April 16 to have it considered a full year. Hence, if you are called up on April 17, it’s not considered a full year. That’s exactly what happened to Kris Bryant. Who still….and rightfully so…has his feathers ruffled over the situation. Back in 2015, Cubs 3B Mike Olt injured his thumb on April 14th. The Cubs delayed calling up Bryant to replace him until ….yep…you guessed it..April 17. Arismendy Alcantara played 3B, a position he never played regularly in the minors, for those 2 days for the Cubbies. Sooo….Bryant’s service time of a full year was missed by 1 day in 2015…..it still goes on all over the MLB. Toronto has 3 highly touted “prospects”…which means maybe 1 of them will become a star if Toronto gets lucky…anyway…Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Fernando Tatis, Jr., and Eloy Jiménez are three of baseball’s elite prospects. They are, by all accounts, ready for the majors, but they are expected to begin the year in the minors until their teams officially gain that extra year of control over them, delaying their foray into free agency by one year. The reason given by Toronto…to work on their fielding J  At least one of them will be a DH anyway!! This will be a thorny issue in the next MLB-Labor negotiations.

Outside of MLB…there are still many areas/teams/fans who have their feathers ruffled. In the Lou we moan about our Blues failing to hoist the Stanley Cup just once in 50 years.  But….often they’ve been in the playoffs and on some occasions …gone deep….other fans who have their feathers ruffled…

….in Toronto, the Maple Leafs, one of the original NHL teams in 1927-28 and coached by Conn Smythe at that time, have many fans with ruffled feathers. The last time that this historic franchise has won the Stanley Cup was in 1966-67…that was their 11th Stanley cup. George “Punch’ Imlach was in the 8th year of his 10 year tenure and it was his 4 Cup Title during his time as Coach. I’m not writing a book…so I can’t explain all the articles about Imlach’s mean…almost cruel …treatment of his players. The Leafs have missed TEN of the last 13 playoff seasons. Obviously…in Canada where hockey IS the premier sport, the fans are almost beyond being ruffled…they’re really down on the Leafs. In April, 2014, Brendan Shanahan, a former Blue, with some impressive playing credentials was brought in to “turn around” the Toronto fortunes. His playing credentials startled me…I remember him as being good…but not this good..

..Shanahan’s Stats…at least some of them…Only player with over 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes; Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame;Second-most goals by a left winger – 656; Second-most consecutive 20 goal seasons – 19;Three-time Stanley Cup champion – 1997, 1998, 2002; Led NHL in short-handed goals in 1994;  Led NHL in powerplay goals in 1997;Played in the NHL All-Star Game – 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007 (captain);Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1994 and 2000; Named to the NHL 2nd All-Star Team in 2002;Awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2003; Second-most goals by a left winger – 656;2nd-most consecutive 20 goal seasons – 19;Is 2nd in the unofficial record for most Gordie Howe hat tricks by a player during the regular season (17).

….A Gordie Howe “hat trick” is a goal, assist and a fight.  Interestingly enough, Gordie Howe himself only had TWO Gordie Howe “hat tricks”!! So keep your eye on the Leafs..currently there are in 3rd place in Eastern Conference as Shanahan has “reworked” roster, coaching staff, scouts, etc.

…also with ruffled feathers…albeit a bit warmer ruffled feathers….are the Phoenix Sun fans. The Suns have not tasted NBA Playoff waters since 2009-10. Further, the Suns have not won more than 25 games in any of the past four seasons. Sure, Phoenix has some good players (Devin Booker, 14th in NBA scoring @ 24.5ppg and DeAndre Ayton) but Owner Robert Sarver’s “hands on” approach seems to be deadly to the franchise.

….Some fans have their feathers ruffled over the Cardinals absence of signing a star player to a huge contract. To this point, the Cards largest contract ever signed was by Matt Holliday – 7 years, $120MM.  Signed Jan 7, 2010. You make the call….on the accusation of Cardinal frugality.

….sooo when the Cardinals fans seem ruffled over their  middle-infielders of Wong—DeJong…they don’t hit enough, strike out too much, yada-yada-yada…..sometimes, it’s helpful to look at other teams…e.g. the desperate NYM fans situation…the Mets just signed 35 year old(in April) Jed Lowry -2 years/$20m. He’s coming off of his best year since 2013 this year… hit .267, 23 HR (career high), 99 rbi (career high). The Metropolitan fans ARE still jumping for joy over this seasoned vet who’s cashing in on the best year of his career because he’s replacing the conglomerate assembly of these infamous infielders from last year on the NYM roster. The 2018 Mets gave 582 plate appearances to infielders José Reyes, Adrián González, Luis Guillorme, Phillip Evans, Ty Kelly and Jack Reinheimer. This “sensational six” collectively hit  .202 avg/.274 -OBP/.306-OPS…..sooo even an over the hill guy looks good..really good J

…my feathers were a bit ruffled when I heard a radio/TV guy …who’s primarily a hockey guy….make a statement something to the effect….OK…I didn’t write it down at the time, I was driving…..that SLU had to do a better job of putting a good product on the court …like Mizzou is doing. To me….that means….hire a better coach. He’ll recruit better, coach better in off -season, coach better “in-game”, etc. Now if “Joe Hockey” had compared them to Duke, Gonzaga (similar small Catholic school), Kansas…. he would have been on solid ground.  Looking back a the recent hires of Mizzou and SLU….I think that they are very similar over the last 20 years..

 Mizzou–Quin Snyder (Big 12) (1999–2006)-made it to NCAA 2nd round twice, NCAA 4x but many…if not most Mizzou fans, would agree that the Mighty Quinn hurt the program with the rumors of his personal life habits and disdain for Mizzou fans..and caused many of us to question the sacred “Duke Way”

From 2006-2011, Mike Anderson..NCAA 3x, 1st round, 2nd round, Elite 8 (in his 3rd of 5 years)..Anderson seemed to be a good, solid head coach but apparently his heart was elsewhere (back to Arkansas)

Frank Haith handled head coaching duties 2011-2014…NCAA 2x—we all recall Frank marching to his departure plane..  while ignoring reporters…. with NCAA recruiting rumors flying over his head

2014-17 was Kim Anderson…while I really admired the guy and his resume of winning a D-2 championship @ Cen Mo …nothing….I mean nothing EVER clicked for him @ Mizzou.

Cuonzo Martin (SEC) (2017–present)…prior to this hire, in my blog, I wrote that while I admire him for being a hard working, “good” man who develops players into men….his conference record always seems to be mediocre (at best). However, he has taken 3 teams to NCAA 1st round games.

Starting at the same spot, 1999 SLU hired Lorenzo Romar  1999-2002 ncaa 1x. Romar  brought an NBA pedigree and had the reputation of being an excellent recruiter. He jolted..and stunned… SLU when he accepted a job at his alma mater-Washington (where he stayed until 2017)…btw….he hired Michael Porter Sr and had the commitments for both Porter players….until he was fired.

From 2002-07, the Bills had Brad Soderberg as head coach. While seemingly a very hard worker, a “good” guy, he didn’t really appear to have the proper training to assume a Head Coach D-1 position at that point of his career.

Rich Majerus was the head Coach of the Bills from 2007-12…he was a master Coach. I would say of all the coaches at both these schools during the last 20 years, he was the best.  He guided the Billikens to NCAA 3rd round in his final year.

Assistant Jim Crews assumed the duties after Majerus. He also was a wonderful basketball skills coach. He took his first two teams to the 3rd round of the NCAA (so the Billikens went the 3rd round 3 straight NCAA years). Crews abhorred recruiting. Sooo….when the Majerus’ players departed so did the success.

In 2016 Travis Ford was hired. Ford was/is a recruiter. Often new coaches possess the skills that the former Coach lacked.  Ford had worked his way up the coaching chain…Campbellsville-3 years, Eastern Kentucky-5 years, U Mass-3 years, then moved to Oklahoma State for 8 years…prior to accepting the SLU job (now 3 years).  His Dad held one of the first nation wide summer camps so… recruiting was in his blood (unlike Crews). His conference records are very similar to Cuonzo Martins.

All in all….SLU has NOT been overshadowed by Mizzou in basketball for the last 20 years. Heck…I root for both of them….during the last 20 years, each school had some strong coaches, some mediocre ones and each had a bust or 2.  Soooo.. don’t tell me that …SLU must “step up” like Mizzou Mr. Hockey Guy.

…speaking of hockey, some of our loyal Blues fans seem ruffled about the recent slide…come on!…the Blues ran off a very, very long winning streak….you HAD to know that the “law of averages” would catch up to them…I do wonder about the acquisition of Michael Del Zotto on Feb 25. “We were hoping to add a depth defenseman, more based on (Carl) Gunnarsson’s injury,” Armstrong told stlouisblues.com after the deadline. “We wanted to have depth as we enter the stretch run… and this just gives us an added layer.” If he’s so valuable, why has he only played 3 games since he was acquired (Mar 6, 14th, 16th )?

…more hockey thoughts after watching the strong win over Pittsburgh last night….

….I wish Robert Thomas was moved to a center iceman…he controls the puck so well, passes so well…. why put him close to the walls and limit his room…give him space. Put him on a good line!

….As much as I’ve like Jayden Schwartz….something’s off….I love good passers…but darn…ya gotta shoot when you’re in front of the net…10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet out….SHOOT! He seems to be playing like a 3rd liner…I can’t tell for sure…but he seems to have lost that explosive skating speed…now he’s just “another guy”who has 1 goal and 1 assist since February 23rd. I’m writing this on the holiday (March 17)

…I have noticed that the Blues are much improved on using their sticks  to deflect passes, accept passes and aggravate opponents since the arrival of Berube… and not as many “showy” body checks

…btw… I do like that the referees aren’t stopping action because pucks are up against the boards… oops…can’t change these habits…up against the walls…keep letting  the players play it out. Faceoffs are boring to me…they are like a jump balls in basketball…way back in the day…after every basket, there was a jump ball.

I don’t want to ruffle any more of YOUR feathers…thx for making it down to the jump ball section J

Comments

  1. Well her goes a run at it while I have a bit of time….The Cards have just blown the opportunity to keep JF to a long career at a decent salary. I don’t know what he was asking or looking for but he is worth a shot. He has more than “potential” and that’s what many players are signed for originally. But, I assume, just like the Bryant deal in the Cubs organization, baseball is a business and the payroll is a business decision. I’m not sure how Bryant reacted to the 2 days of missing the bigger money but he has demonstrated he is worth it now. I’m sure the Cubs are going to pay big bucks either now or down the road. To not pay the same amount for our potential closer (Hicks) is silly in my mind. These guys will leave for a contending team when free agency comes around for them. Cards needed a second baseman fro sure but I think Dejong will be the guy at SS for a long time to come. He has a glove and will learn to be more controlled at the plate (plus he can hit the long ball). Seems like the teams really want that long ball and will keep O’Neil or anybody else even if they strike out more often than not. What happened to stringing some hits together to score runs? That is old school but sure was effective.

    I don’t really follow hockey much but sure hear about the Blues all the time. Their cold, their hot, back & forth etc. Bottom line if they make the playoffs it’s usual one and done. I do remember Brenda Shanahan and thought he was a great player and very under rated. He was always the play maker when not the leading scoring player. To see his results and stats isn’t surprising as he was a leader and made players around him much better I thought. If the Blues make it, great. If not, the city loses a chance to increase revenue. That’s the way I have always thought about hockey. And, I sort of thought hockey was fixed to almost always go 6 – 7 games in the playoffs just to increase a cities revenue from games.

    College coaches come and go like the wind in more places than not. The likes of Coach K or a Coach Knight staying at one place forever is lost. Win or your out…or look for a greener pasture when things are going good. I do think Ford will be gone after this year or probably next. He seems to be a recruiter but SLU isn’t a big name b-ball team/program. Never will be in my mind. I liked Majerus as he was a big name coach and I think players and coaches knew him well enough to send players his way. His replacement had a tough act to follow and was lost from the start much like Kim Anderson at Missouri. He was lost for sure and I think took the program about 5 steps backwards. Coach Anderson always wanted the Arkansas position so he was a short term guy, Frank Haith was a troubled coach from day one as it all followed him. He couldn’t get out of Columbia quick enough. I did like Quinn Snyder and thought he would change the image to match that of Duke a bit. However, I don’t think the town was ready for the likes of Quinn and his polished upper class style. Mo. is a midwest conservative area and wants local kids to help fill the stands. Filling the stands is a really big problem and hopefully Martin can rally the campus. Tough job for sure and now with all the NCAA investigations, good luck and go figure. I do think Missouri and SLU had a great coach, a great guy and someone that brought a GREAT deal of integrity to their programs and program when they both had RICH GRAWER. Class Act in every way but his hands were tied at SLU and he was at Missouri to get STIPO to sign. Where did all the good guys go?

    The NBA is an enigma to me. I don’t follow the NBA much but when I do watch a game here and there, every single arena is packed. The fans love their teams and support the teams. I don’t know the names of most of the players but I do like the Celtics and hope Tatum does well. I use to hear about him a bit more but lately not much. I hear about Bradley Beal really turning into a super star. Scored 40 points the other night and is averaging 26 points per game. I think he’s 25 years old now and has a long career ahead of him barring any injury. Not sure about ruffling the Phoenix Suns feathers but I’d go with your assessment on that one. I miss Kobe, Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic, Barkley, Pete Maravich, Bob Cousey and Robert Parrish and the good old boys. Those were the times I watched pro basketball and loved it. I suppose I’m going back many years and most wouldn’t even remember some of those names. Plus, I’m 100% sure I’m leaving out some really great players for sure.

    I did follow a little high school basketball this past season. Another great run by IWA making in 3 years in a row as State Champs. Can anybody beat them? The state game had them winning 61 – 34 which doesn’t seem like a great deal of competition. Maybe their opponent had an easy bracket to the state game. Saw CBC went to state which actually surprised me. Do they have a young team? I was employed at CBC last year and don’t know any of the players that were on the court. If they are underclassmen, they should make a run at it again I would think. East St. Louis winning state for the first time ever seemed strange to me. I always thought they were a state contender in basketball but I might be thinking football (and Bob Shannon). And St. Mary’s (south-side catholic), well they seem to have been knocking the past 3 or so years. They have turned into a little CBC East on Grand Ave. Some major coaching changes and there you go. I just wonder if Coach Lee was still on board they might have pulled it out. However, I hear good things about the coach they have now. Playing at Mo. State doesn’t lend itself to a hometown St. Louis crowd. Like when they moved the state soccer tournament finals to Blue Springs and finally realized the St. Louis teams usually made up the final 4 on a regular basis.

    I must get back ton work, if that’s what I call it here. I hope I have covered some areas of interest. I see we are getting closer to an MLS team but I’m still not convinced they will draw a crowd. JJ

  2. Great insight and I agree, especially down the stretch so we could see the possibilities. The ROR line and the Maroon line are set.
    Goalie? whoever is HOT at the time. But, Jake scares me as he hasn’t Risen to the playoff challenge as of yet. But with Bin right behind him, he’s elevated his game and got him some good rest to remain game sharp. Same for Bin. Need a nickname for JBin??

    Too much nickel and diming by the Cards. I understand its the system but I prefer players being comfortable and feel appreciated. CK

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