September – Suspenseful & Surprising by Bob Ryan

September brings to us many tense, suspenseful moments in baseball & football.  While September also ushers in some startling, surprising facts about players and teams. So are “good” surprises while others are disappointing surprises.  So…..here we go ..

…it was more than surprising..it was shocking as the Cards swept the Cubbies 4 straight wins by one run! The Cards did it in all ways…coming from behind…jumping out early…good starting  pitching….good relief hurling…Paul Goldschmidt drives in a winning run in the 9th. Not only were the Cubs shoved out of the division race but they’ve fallen 4 games behind in the wild card…..I’ll write about the upcoming Cards-Braves series next week.

…right under our nose…..Adam Wainwright has really been spectacular in September..to this point this month…he’s won all 4 starts, pitched  27 innings, just 20 hits allowed, just ONE earned run for the entire month! He’s dropped his season long ERA from 4.52 on Sept 1 to 3.83 on Sept 20. Apparently, he’s abandoned the attempt to strike out players… he now throws up there a variety of breaking balls at varying speeds.  He has forced the Cardinals into resigning him for next year……one exception…if by some miracle (like 2011)….the Cards DO pull off something unbelievable and take home all the marbles….I hope he retires then.. on the top.

….On Aug 12, the Cards fired batting coach, Mark Budaska. I thought that it was weird having 2 batting coaches anyway. I wrote about it in the following blog. But….eliminating a 2nd voice… may have been significant and given us our suspenseful September. The Day Buddha was fired the Cards were 61-55…going nowhere fast. As I write this prior to Sunday’s game,  the Cards are 88-67 soooo…they’ve gone 27-12 since the time that the firing occurred. What’s really strange is that Buddha was a proponent of ol’ school hitting….make contact, advance runners, swing “big” at times. Jeff Albert(who remained as the hitting coach) was an advocate of the new launch angle, analytics, don’t worry about K’s…they’re just outs, etc. Since his removal, the Cardinals, at least to me, seem as if they ARE playing more ol’ school offense. The Speed of Wong, Edman, Bader has ignited this offense….it’s a surprising situation.

…unless you’re really an avid numbers guy in MLB stats….the player with the best average in the MLB…..Tim Anderson (CWS)…that is startling to me….who’s ever heard of the guy? Well.. he does play for arguably one of the worst MLB teams (CWS). He was a 1st round draft choice in 2013 by the Sox.  He’s batting .334. He has hit 18 HR, stolen 17 bases with an OPS of .866.  Now…THAT is stunning!

….it was startling…..the MU Tigers handled …somewhat easily…one of their SEC nemesis, S. Carolina on Saturday.  The 34-14 victory did have a couple key “turnaround” plays in the 1st half for the Tigers…but being objective….MU dominated the stats as well as the scoreboard. MU outrushed S.Car 194-16 on the ground. MU moved the chains 26x as to just 11 for the Gamecocks. Time of possession was one-sided…Mizzou 37 min, SC just 22 min! It was an impressive SEC win for the Tigers. Meanwhile, the folks in Columbia…Columbia SC…are calling for the head of Head Coach Will Muschamp. If he doesn’t make a bowl this year..he’s toast.

…this September has been particularly suspenseful for the Chicago Cubs and their fans…. yes…I hear all of you shedding tears for them J . Even as the Cubbies made a run at the Cards for the Division Lead but now look like also-rans….rumors were hovering about Wrigley….that Joe Madden would be fired; that players had not performed up to expectations despite a huge payroll; the Addison Russell debacle; and if one looks even deeper at the Cubs, another huge obstacle arises. The Cubs starting rotation has 4 pitchers that are 30 years of age or older and the 5th starter is 29 years old. Hendricks is signed to 2024,$70m remaining on contract; Darvish til 2023 $81m still owed; Lester just until 2021 and only $45m owed him; and Quintana has only 1 year left for $11.5m commitment. The bullpen had 4 more pitchers over 30 years old and another at 29.  This club appears to be on the brink of a complete pitching rebuild while their starting 8 field players have NO starter at 30 years of age yet! Is this the doings of the GM or the manager?    Sooo…Cubbies have some issues in the future…and this year has been ….almost….wiped out this  week by the Cards series in Chicago.

….The #3Georgia-#7 Notre Dame game was really a good game between two very good teams. Georgia won 23-17. The Bulldogs had more “big-play” athletes than the Irish. ND’s game plan was to run the ball…shorten the game. It was a highly competitive, suspenseful game.  Statistically…other than the scoreboard-the ultimate stat…it was close–.total yards—Geo-339,ND-321;1st downs—Geo-18, ND 14. Now Georgia did hold a wide gap in ball control-34 min to ND’s 25 minutes. QB Jake Fromm of Georgia was very impressive with his poise, arm and accuracy. In my mind, Georgia now holds the best “victory “ of the season and should be rated #1. I would not drop ND out of the top 10 because of a 1 score loss to a likely #1 team.

….the MLB race for the wild card spots is really suspsensful….one night it looks like this team is in or out…and the next night a different team. I was NOT an advocate for the wild card but it has added excitement to the last weeks. Quietly, Oakland, with 90 wins  will be back in the playoffs again…that Billy Beane style of squeezing out wins  is amazing!

…I was shocked the other evening as I watched the Cards…Marcel Ozuna actually threw out a runner trying to advance last week!  That seemed about as likely to me as an Ivy League team beating an SEC team in any sport….oops…other than scholar bowl J

….does anyone EVER  think of the words “Colorado Rockies” and “good pitching” in the same sentence?  The Rocks bullpen has been stellar in 2019. A big part of it is the emergence of Chad Bettis in the bullpen. The RHP has thrown 24.2 innings, holding a 1.46 ERA and a terrific 0.93 WHIP. He’s been a 1 batter specialist and a multi inning guy…whatever is needed. He’s led the Colorado bullpen which usually surrendered runs easily and often in past years. This year the bullpen has been decent while the Rocks have sank to the bottom of the NL West.

….biggest butt-kicking of the weekend, was Wisconsin running all over Michigan. 2 weeks ago I thought that the Army-Michigan game was outstanding and thought that ARMY must be really good….well….it’s just Michigan isn’t real good. It was 35-0 in the 3rd quarter when Wisconsin called off the dogs a bit and coasted to a 35-14 win. Wisconsin has an image…huge, smart, feet moving lineman who’ll run right at you, use a bit of play action, multiple formations & motion  to disguise their simple run plays. Generally, because of their style, the can recruit good or even outstanding running backs. The Michigan team looked like a C+ team playing an A level team. Jim Harbough?  Ya gotta wonder…yes he can coach, but in the Pro’s, the GM’s acquired the players….in college, its HIS choice of whom to pursue and coach.

…here’s a suspenseful question for all of you….who is the Cardinals MVP in 2019. Sure…Paul Goldschmidt does have the HR and the Defense…but he just doesn’t seem like he’s ignited the team upwards  with huge hits at key moments… I’m anxious to see YOUR thoughts.

…I never have been able to get “into” MLB spring training or NHL/NFL pre-season…still can’t.. the Blues pre-season like all the others …just doesn’t do it for me. Not that I don’t’ want them to do well in the season….but heck…their season just ended 10 weeks ago!

…Antonio Brown….ur outta sight….outta mind.

….I’m rather surprised by it….but I think that Jim Edmonds is making a case to become more of a coach…of some kind…with the Cards. His comments on Fox Sports…nowadays…refer to discussions and advice that he’s given the players.  In my mind, he’s also doing a much better job of being an analyst…instead of reminiscing about the good ol’ days.

…somehow .many thought that USC had been shoved aside as the Pac 12 top-dog. Those fans thought that Utah has supplanted them. In their suspenseful game Friday night, USC grabbed a 30-23 win. Gone for Utah after this game is their Top 10 ranking, favored status in the Pac 12 South and any hope of a making the College Football Playoff. Doesn’t matter that they had 79 offensive plays to USC’s 54 or that they outgained the Trojans 457-381 or that they scored only 1 TD in their last 5 trip inside the 20 yard line….the “L” next to the game is what matters in these tight games. Voters seldom vote for losers in September top 10  polls. Unless…you lose in a close game to a top 10 team. (see above—ND-Georgia)

There’s no surprise coming down….I’m wrapping it up. I encourage you to send comments to a) email to me; b) post on Prepcasts   c) post on Facebook on my page  Thanks for the read!

Comments

  1. Lots of comments says:

    Bob,
    Great Cards Cub series this weekend saw most of it. Goldy could be MVP, but what about Yadi or Jack Flaherty. Take care, KL
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    Hey Bob,
    Harbough has to be on a very warm chair. Overtime with Army and a thorough butt kicking by Wisconsin! Still have to play State, both Ohio and Michigan, not to mention ND. Speaking of which I believe ND had only 50 rushing yards which will not control any game. Why they don’t throw the ball further downfield perplexes me. Virginia May pose more of a threat than expected coming off such an emotional game with Georgia.
    Rumor has it that the Trinity coach played kids NOT enrolled in school and many others who refuse to pay tuition. I wonder how long that has been going on??? Pretty disgusting what people will do to win these days!! Hope you have a great day and thanks for the column. DB
    ————————————————————————————————————–
    Great reading Bob. I must say I certainly never expected the Cardinals to do what they did this weekend, What a great and Suspenseful filled series it was. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that Saturday game that was the wildest game I think I’ve ever witnessed by the Cardinals. I think my choice for the MVP has to be Kolten Wong, he has done it all and very consistently also. It would be Edmund since he has been here. Go Cards! CK
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    Boss, good question on Cards MVP. I like Tommy Edman and think he should be a legit candidate. Only in St.Louis last half of the season, but that is when Cards played their best ball. Others to consider, Paul Dejong BS
    ———————————————————————————————–
    Good, thought provoking subject matter, as always! Cards Hitting: I agree that too many “ cooks in the kitchen” can be confusing. Aside from giving encouragement, reviewing film , spending time in the cage, the jury is out on the real difference a hitting coach makes. Buddha had many of these guys in the minors & they got to the Big Leagues..so…

    Team MVP: Not being in the clubhouse, My vote goes to Kolton Wong. Great defense, hitting to the opposite field, timely base stealing. Sure Goldy, Ozuna & Yadi had their moments, but since the All Star break, Wong has been a catalyst!

    Honorable Mention goes to emergence of Tommy Edman. Versatility on defense, timely hitting & dangerous speed!!!

    Jim Edmonds: Respectfully , disagree. Great Cardinal career, post season hero, but talks far too much. If he wants to coach, leave the booth, put on uni # 15 and go for it. Cards / FSM feel the fans only want former Cardinals doing game analysis…. Edmonds, Horton, Thompson, McCarver, Hrabosky. Do to changes in the game, today’s players, it’s getting harder For Hrabosky & McCarver to be relevant. All were fine Cardinals. All fans have their favorite. Scully, Buck, Brenneman, just to name a few, were great to listen to. Knowledgeable, no bragging, and honest.

    Wainwright: very happy how he has played a part in the team’s 2nd half surge. Tough call on 2020… he’s a great mentor, but pushing 40. Taking a spot in the rotation, freezing out youth/ future. Bring him back as spot starter, long relief. Hoping he doesn’t “ hang on” destroying all the great on field memories & charitable contribution!

    Cubs Collapse: Joe Maddon help restore the team to prominence and its his fault??? Contracts of Heyward & Darvish ,no bullpen, Swarber’s play in Left field, Addison Russell ‘s problem with domestic violence, Lester’s inconsistency. Picking up Kimbrell with no spring / early season. Theo Epstein assembled the team. Fire Maddon… he will have a new job in a week. JP1

  2. Hey Bob…
    OK, here’s my two cents. I don’t see how anyone can say this team has one legitimate MVP. It just seems that so many have contributed so much. Your vote for Paul Goldschmidt is probably the logical choice given his team lead in HR’s and RBI’s (I think) as well as the countless defensive contributions that has helped the Cardinals to go from last to first in that category. But, how about…
    1. Yadier Molina handling a pitching staff that has become pretty damned good even without the assistance of their closer for quite some time.
    2. Adam Wainwright for taking the lead in how pitchers prepare for their craft when most everyone just chose to write him off as an impact player.
    3. Jack Flaherty because anyone who puts up Bob Gibson like numbers for the past couple of months has earned the title of “The Staff Ace”.
    4. Dexter Fowler (who would have ever thought) adding some long last stability to the leadoff position.
    5. Tommy Edman for injecting some totally unforeseen punch to an otherwise anemic lineup
    There are probably others that I should have mentioned but as you can hopefully see this is not about one guy. Instead it’s about a team effort. That’s refreshing to say the least. No one Cardinal is among the league leaders in any category yet look at where they rest. Hopefully, they’ll seal the deal and win the Division. Beyond that, anything they accomplish is gravy. So, my choice for MVP is who has to get credit for putting this whole thing together. When others wavered, he held firm in what he believed in and the players he had. My choice is Mike Shildt. BH

  3. Good morning Bob,
    Another, great variety of sports angles… Thanks again, CM
    ———————————————————————————————————————-
    Hey Bob…
    OK, here’s my two cents. I don’t see how anyone can say this team has one legitimate MVP. It just seems that so many have contributed so much. Your vote for Paul Goldschmidt is probably the logical choice given his team lead in HR’s and RBI’s (I think) as well as the countless defensive contributions that has helped the Cardinals to go from last to first in that category. But, how about…
    1. Yadier Molina handling a pitching staff that has become pretty damned good even without the assistance of their closer for quite some time.
    2. Adam Wainwright for taking the lead in how pitchers prepare for their craft when most everyone just chose to write him off as an impact player.
    3. Jack Flaherty because anyone who puts up Bob Gibson like numbers for the past couple of months has earned the title of “The Staff Ace”.
    4. Dexter Fowler (who would have ever thought) adding some long last stability to the leadoff position.
    5. Tommy Edman for injecting some totally unforeseen punch to an otherwise anemic lineup
    There are probably others that I should have mentioned but as you can hopefully see this is not about one guy. Instead it’s about a team effort. That’s refreshing to say the least. No one Cardinal is among the league leaders in any category yet look at where they rest. Hopefully, they’ll seal the deal and win the Division. Beyond that, anything they accomplish is gravy. So, my choice for MVP is who has to get credit for putting this whole thing together. When others wavered, he held firm in what he believed in and the players he had. My choice is Mike Shildt. BH

  4. Totally agree about Irish football…..That’s my team They played well. Their weakness is their
    SHORT DBS they can’t go Up on the jump balls of WRS who are 6’4. Michigan Harbaugh is so
    Over rated! Whiskey is very tough at Home! That football game was over at half.
    Very impressed with Desmet ending CB’s very Impressive MCC winning Streak. Those kids looks like College players . The weight training & Nutrition and speed of these HS athletes are mind
    Boggling, Have a great day! MB

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