Little Guys Rule by Bob Ryan

Generally it’s the “Big” guys who take charge…ya know…big money, big influence, big brothers, etc ….well… this week let’s look at the Little guys….

….sooooo to start with….all of us little guys have a challenge, we aren’t on the golf tour…but….Jay Randolph JR threw out the question to all of us, “What Walk Up Song would YOU like as you approached each tee?” I’d love to hear back from as many of you as possible…even if you DON’T GOLF …. let me know through an email or a post on FB Mine’s on the bottom….

…now onto the NCAA tournament…in the 1st and 2nd weekend, the NCAA officials luv it when some lowly seeded team (little guy) upsets a “big boy”..#12 Murray State toppled #5 Marquette 83-64, #12 Liberty upended #5 Mississippi St 80-76, #13 UC Irvine handled #4 Kansas St and the third #12 seed, Oregon smothered Wisconsin 72-54..That means that the #12 will face the #13 in the Sweet 16.. sooo……three #12’s upset #5….somehow, some way….it often works that way for upsets in the 1st round (#12 over #5). In the 2nd round, #9 Auburn beat #4 Kansas  89-75. But…by the elite eight, the NCAA want’s highly recognizable basketball names….fans identify with those familiar “name” teams…you know them….Duke, Kentucky, N.Carolina, etc.

Some other little NCAA thoughts….

Eliminate those four “play in” games….64 teams is enough. All of those “play in” winners lost in the real  1st round. Did it add excitement? Good games? Really good players? No, No and NO.

….Kentucky has a very soft path to the elite eight…1st round..Abilene Christian, 2nd rnd-Woolford…not Walmart…but Woolford, in Sweet 16 round…Kentucky gets Houston/Ohio St winner. Maybe they feel sorry for John Caliperi who’s only won ONE NCAA championship….back in 2012. That ONE & DONE policy brings him many great players….but..apparently… not championship teams.

…Shouldn’t the conference winner…not the conference tournament winner…get the automatic bid?  Why play hard for 2 months, 16-20 conference games?  Soooo…the team that gets “hot”…or stays healthy.. for a week gets the auto-bid…seems backwards to me. The committee could still invite those tournament winners….oh wait….the little guys reading the TV rankings and selling advertising…they like it this way……OH….what was I thinking?

…As I’m writing this around 6:30 Sunday night…not all games are completed…or even started in some cases….none the less, the strength of the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 is apparent. Those conferences were/are clearly the strongest conferences in NCAA M-Basketball this year.

…btw…I enjoy Charles Barkley as a commentator during the NCAA marathon….his comments… while not spoken elegantly…seem to be “right on”….the little man…Kenny Smith has a richer vocabulary and states salient points also. They are a good pair…different perspectives…. but generally, good observations about personnel, coaches and teams. Best of all to me….is that Charles can laugh at himself …while sitting on the panel and through many different commercials.

…the little man sitting in the back room in front of the computer, drawing up the MLB schedule has a challenging task…some teams don’t want to play day games, some don’t many home games in late-August, some don’t want Saturday afternoon games in Sept (vs NCAA football), some don’t want to be at home during the Masters weekend, some don’t want to be home on the 1st or 15th (their paydays J), some want their West coast trips to be during the hot months, some want a day off after the west coast trip so that a Vegas visit may take place on the way home ..yada-yada-yada.. looking at the Cards 2019 schedule the little men have compiled some strange things..

…the Cards play one of their toughest divisional foes…Milwaukee…TEN times through Apr 24. Meanwhile, the Cubbies tangle with the D-Backs, Marlins & Rangers.

…the easiest competitive months for the Cards is June & July… our Cards should rake hay during that time…the Cards have hapless Miami 7x in June, the downtrodden Pirates 6x in July (that’s 25% of the 52 June/July games)

…the Cards have only EIGHT home games between July 18 and August 18..that’s a Looonnnggg time. the All-Star break is NOT during that time frame…but 4 ½ weeks of games?

…judging from all the early commercials…it seems like the Cards will have “give-aways” 81X

The cloud on the MLB horizon is…. money…gee, imagine that! The “little guy” MLB teams  are tanking….why? The metrics have changed for MLB teams to turn a profit….relying on fans to walk through the turnstile, concessions & merchandise sales are no longer the primary monetary revenue. Instead, the revenue sharing & the leagues lucrative broadcasting deals with multiple parties (which are not split with the players) provide millions of dollars for ALL the teams. Maintain a low salary scale and an MLB team elevates its profit..e.g. Tampa Bay, Oakland, Florida..why worry about winning when you can cash a huge check for management on a regular basis?

Some the “little guys” of the MLB free agent market…. Who signed in the off-season…

…NYY signed Adam Ottovino (brought up by Cards) after a sour 2017, Ottovino used state of the art technology to modify his release point & approach…result in in 2018..2.43 ERA and one of MLB’s best strikeout rates. He doesn’t have to be the closer but he’s a good to very-good veteran to have in the pen. Cost $27mil for 3 years.

…on the other side of New York, the Mets signed a “little guy” in Justin Wilson. This experienced southpaw had a quiet but strong year last year. He could become a LHP specialist. He struck out 149 batters in 112+ innings last year. He should fit in nicely with the Mets who don’t expect him to be the #1 in the pen(Edwin Diaz)…or even the #2 (Jeurys Familia). In 2019 MLB bullpens, depth is key.

….Who are some of the very best “small guys” in MLB players in history?….my criteria is players under 5-10…Pete Rose 5-9,Roy Campanella 5-8, Phil Rizzuto 5-6, Ivan Rodriguez 5-9,  Mel Ott 5-9, Yogi Berra 5-7…Yogi really surprised me!

……Falling back to the “little guy” status is really a devastating thing for a BIG-TIME college football program.  It’s happened….and TWICE for the LA fans…USC and UCLA …long considered two the elite football programs in the country…have fallen back…way back…. into the “little guy”status. Under 1st year coach Chip Kelly, UCLA went 3-9 in 2018. A former Pro coach, Kelly was known to be almost ambivalent about recruiting during his highly successful days @ Oregon U. This years’s 2019 class was ranked #53 by ESPN, 34 spots lower than his 2018 class. Kelly remains optimistic with the attitude and enthusiasm of his squad in spring-practice.  Across town @ USC, that’s not the same feeling. There is a sense of unease & uncertainty after finishing 5-7 in 2018. It was USC first losing season since the year 2000 and it lost to UCLA for the first time since 2014. The O-Coordinator (Kliff Kingsbury) and highly touted Frosh (Bru McCoy) both “hit the brick’s” for a brighter future elsewhere. Head Coach Clay Helton replaced most of his coaching staff @ USC. But, USC’s 19th ranked recruiting class is the LOWEST in modern recruiting history. My…my….I guess even the college football giants can become “little guys” at some point.

….Some NFL stars who were shorter in stature (not really “little guys”) in recent vintage. I’m sure that we could go back 50+ years and find many other “little guys” But in the modern era, how about..Barry Sanders at 5-8, Emmitt Smith came in at 5-9, Darrell Green 5-8 played 20 seasons in NFL as a D-back (84-03)..(I figured that you all knew Barry Sanders & Emmitt Smith), Wes Welker 5-8, at 5-7 Maurice Jones-Drew—currently on Jacksonville Jags, Steve Smith 5-9-WR (I think that he just retired), Darren Sproles comes in at 5-6. You sure better be able to run if you have this type of height!!

….Who are some of these teams that have been “little guys” who have made it BIG in NCAA completion?  That doesn’t necessarily mean that others have been pushed out…rather these names have become accepted as “big guys”. In NCAA football, where it is extremely difficult to accomplish—for 1 reason, Good programs generally avoid programs that are really improving..but not yet there…how about a top 3 of: UCF, Boise State, Appalachian State(just about there).

In NCAA Basketball, we’ve seen Gonzaga become a national power, Xavier is accepted a “player” these days, coming on strong of late is the St. Mary’s Gaels of California. Wichita State has been “good” for a couple years…let’s see if they can stay there with their future recruiting classes.

….on the HS level, there are some “little guys” that are really having a “turn-around” season. Last year the Gibault Hawks ..from Waterloo, Ill….went 12-23. In the first few weeks of 2019, the Hawks are 6-0 to open the season. Gibault is currently averaging 10 runs per game.  Four regular starters are holding a .500+ batting mark through these first 6 games. Jr Cole Buckner holds a .563 mark, Soph Tate Schilling is at .538, while Seniors Mark Branz and Ian Metcalf are both right at .500. The pitching staff has held their opponents to 4 runs or less in 5 of the 6 games. While holding teams down offensively, Head Coach Andy Skaer has spread the work on the mound around, twelve different players have pitched 2+ innings in these first six games! Sr. Cameron Kincheloe leads the staff with 8 innings of work. He’s 2-0 with an ERA of 1.75. Keep your eye on them as the 2019 season continues!

…don’t forget to send me via email/FB with your “walk up” music to the golf tee….I think that mine would be Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”…I don’t want a fast paced song to juice my drive outta control. I have such a big drive off the tee ya know!! 

Comments

  1. Many responses ... says:

    Walk Up Music to Golf Tee…
    Theme from Mash……DS
    A Bing Crosby song that starts with “Down the Middle”…TB
    Kiss It Goodbye by Nickelback… GZ
    Hit Me With Your Best Shot …TM
    “Hunting, Fishing and Loving Everyday”..KL

    • Even more responses says:

      more walk-up songs–
      hit me with your best shot “…..TN
      As you walk threw a Storm hold your head up high–WT
      Living on a prayer-BG
      HELP-JP2

      • A few more responses says:

        Don’t Stop Believing-Journey KG
        Wild Thing” PG
        Wishing and Hoping BH
        Lord, you gave me a mountain this time” by Elvis Presley..RS

  2. Walk up song: If you’ve ever seen me play golf, I’d choose: “ It’s Impossible “. (Perry Como)

    NCAA Tourney: Thought Wofford was this years Cinderella, but didn’t happen. FSU almost knocked out Duke, but Zion took over. Again, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Duke & Gonzaga continue to dominate. These Blue Chip programs continue to attract the best of the best!

    Cards: As much as I was pulling for John Brebbia to make the team, we cut one/ sent another lefty from the bullpen to Memphis. Andrew Miller is only lefty. Yelich, Moustakas, Votto, etc.
    He will not be afforded many off days!
    Former All Star Matt Weiters wins back up catcher spot. Needs 45 days at MLB to qualify for pension. Have a hunch that Mike Maddox lobbied to bring him Don’t want Andrew Kizner to be brought up to spell Yadi. It will be Carson Kelly all over again. Until Yadi announces retirement, stay with veteran back ups. 2019 Projection: With no major health issues, and the outfield performing up to expected level offensively, can get Cards back into playoffs. We’ll see! JP1

  3. Pat Tilley little guy –for NFL
    Ozzie Smith little guy or Fred Lynn in MLB

    I got Tenn beating Michigan in da dance

    Walk up song–Anything Hootie!!
    Love Darius Rucker–Time or let her cry MB

  4. I couldn’t agree more when you say your conference champion should have the automatic bid rather than the tournament champion. I have never thought that to make any sense. What do you play for? To win your conference. Anything can happen in a tournament (see Billikens – and look how that turned out).

    A little curious to why the powers that be in the Cardinal front office choose to start the season with one lefty. My guess, the Memphis shuttle will be busy as usual and that won’t last long. How about a number of earlier starting times? That should make all of us old cranky guys a little happier eh?

    Walk up song? Wow so many to choose from. How about “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” or “Help”, “Hooked” On a Feeling I am sure there are a zillion more – maybe next week! JP1A

  5. Exodus”..with the twin pianos of the great Ferrante and Teischer HH

  6. Another good blog. My golf walk up song would be Take it easy by Eagles.
    I’ve tried to post comments on the blog site in the past, but never sure if they made it. Here are my comments:
    While I agree that the ‘play-in’ games seem to be a waste of time, the power conferences will not let them be eliminated because expanding the field from 64 to 68 gets more of their teams in and brings more dollars to them. I would like to see the ‘last 8 in’ teams play the play-in games instead of seeing Abilene Christian versus NC Central. Those games would have better known teams playing and keep the small teams as #15 & #16 seeds.
    You are dead on with your comments on Charles Barkley. His points are very insightful and his willingness to laugh at himself resonates with viewers. TBS has stepped their game up and really improved since they first started their coverage 4 or 5 years ago. JS

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