Madness in Sports by Bob Ryan

Madness around the sports world….

….Kevin Garnett set off many basketball folks when he said  “AAU has killed our league” recently…I will grant you that the very, very good players have improved with all the traveling, competition, etc as they play spring & summer AAU ball. For the many “good” players, it seems to me that they are “picking up the freight” as the costs get doled out. From my view, most of the player at this level(vast majority of players are NOT NBA bound), are being misled about their skills.  From a playing point of view, no question that individual skills are emphasized and have improved all players at the cost (to me) of team play, situational play, passing, real individual & team defense. The Me-Me attitude prevails …and in my view…encouraged… in AAU…so surprisingly, I am agreeing with Kevin Garnett.  The epitome of AAU basketball was the so-called NBA all-star game….what a complete joke to call that a basketball game…I’ve seen better defense in a 3rd grade game.

…speedup baseball by removing intentional walks…what a “mad” approach…there were 932  intentional walks last year (season has 2430 total games)…so its 1 intentional walk every 2.6 games….come on 2 min every 2.6 games….boy….that’ll make a real difference!  Whitey Herzog points out that the number of pitches in a game has increased dramatically in recent years…so the length of the game has increased dramatically….how do you prevent that….easy…throw more strikes..and umpires call more strikes….the top of the strike zone isn’t the’s mid chest…any part of the ball over any part of the plate is a strike…do that and you’ll have more action….and….it’d help the hitter!!’s proof…back in 2008 a statistician compared hitters who hit the ball on 1st pitch vs 7th pitch or longer… For one-pitch at-bats the slash line was .344/.349/.543 for an OPS of .892; for seven or more pitches, it was .230/.406/.372 and .778. Get up there to hit!

….real “madness” from the losing Super Bowl team… Mohamed Sanu of Atlanta Falcons has the feeling that his team blew their huge lead to the Pats due to the long halftime! It definitely did,” Sanu said.  I guess that the Patriots had a shorter one, heh?  This guy is really reaching for straws…

….maybe…maybe…the Cardinals were too tight last year…all the music, glad-handing, high 5’s, no cliques (what is this Jr high?) and generally good spirt being emphasized this year is fine….as long as you win!  Losing teams look foolish doing all of that stuff.  The “mad” idea that fun wins instead of talent is a bit “mad”

….the madness of using Kolton Wong in the outfield…no less at a windy Wrigley Field last year…still haunts Birds as Wong’s injured shoulder from that ill-advised OF day…still bothers him this spring

….”madness ruled in Florida” as a rain delay took place in the Reds-Indians opening pre-season game…that’s unusual enough in Florida ….but it was a totally different type of rain delay…the sprinkler system went haywire as both teams were ready to begin the bottom of the 8th inning


It’s that time of the year….college basketball takes center stage for a month of basketball.  The one & done thought lingers in the back of every player, coach, AD’s mind.  It’s heavy stakes…huge money involved for school, coach…hopefully not player J…recruiting is impacted by success, coaches resumes may get fattened or squashed in this month…it’s March Madness! Now…here’s a fun thing….I’ll give you the stats for 5 college coaches…but not their names…decide which coach that you’d hire….we’re not considering age, salary, or other factors other than their record….just their stats…here goes..

Coach A: 600+ WINS, 1 NCAA championship, 2x-final four, 16x-regular season champs, 8x conf tourney championships

Coach B: 900+ wins, 1 NCAA championship, 5X final four, 8x regular season champs, 5X  conf tourney championships

Coach C: 600+ wins, 1 NCAA championship, 6x final four, 12 regular season champ,  12x  conf tourney champ

Coach D:  800+ wins, 2 NCAA championship, 8x final four, 15 regular season champ,  7 conf tourney champ

Coach E: 700+ wins, 2 NCAA championship, 7x final four, 8 regular season champ, 12 conf tourney champ

Now…obviously…all these guys are good….real good…so you couldn’t go too far wrong on any of them..but sometimes I think we have a predisposed idea about how good/great a coach is…maybe we like his style, his pizzazz, his clothes, his ability to talk in a mic, his showmanship … whatever…now you’re judging them on their record only…answers at bottom.  We’ll talk more about brackets in the coming weeks.

Other coaching notes…

…heard Dabo Swiney (Clemson football coach) on the radio recently…this Alabama guy has it together…he was fascinating, down-to-earth, sincere and had some of those good ol’ Southern expressions to make his 18 minute interview fly by for me.

….Edwardsville’s softball/girls basketball coach, Lori Blade has reached historic levels as a coach.  I don’t’ believe that there will be another one like her. She has won 600+  games as a softball coach and 600+ games as a girls basketball coach. An intense coach, masterful at developing players, forming teams, maximizing skills…should I keep going on?….think about that ….1200 wins! WOW! I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Coach Blade and …after many attempts….convincing her to play in the Prepcasts Girls Shootout years ago….It was unbelievable for me to see her use her high level of coaching skills in person….and she’s like the pink bunny….still ticking 

…also heard Army Head Football Coach, Jeff Monken.  That name rang a bell…but I couldn’t place it…it turns out that 5 of his uncles coached HS Football…including at least 1 on the East Side—Jim Monken…man, it’s a small world.


 Bits from Around Town…

…SLU Womens’ basketball did not win the A-10 championship, but the Lady Bills have really been an exciting team to watch this year …and last year….The Billikens were 26-8 last year and lost in 3rd round of WNIT. Expectations were much higher this hear as Confernce Player of the Year-Jackie Kempf was returning for her Junior year. In 2016-17, the Lady Bills are 22-7 including their signature win over Mizzou. After an embarrassing 94-65 loss to Duquesne on Jan 18, the Bills are 8-2 and both losses were tight (one in OT, the other by 3 pts)….keep it rolling  Coach Stone through the A-10 tourney and any post-season tournament. Btw…Coach Stone is only the 7th coach in the 41 year history of the women’s program.

….Congratulations to former HS coach and long-time current high school basketball referee,  Vince DeGreeff , who will be celebrating with his teammates this weekend, the 50th anniversary of their NAIA National Championship (3/18/1967) for St Benedict’s College, (Atchison, Kansas). Vince along with his St Louis teammate Darryl Jones will be honored at a banquet in Kansas City by the Benedictine College board of directors and quests. St Benedict’s won 71-65 versus Oklahoma Baptist despite 47 points by future pro Al Tucker.

….Izzy Farrell, Sr-Fox High school…broke the school basketball record for scoring this week….no not the girls record…the school record!…it’s very unusual at a co-ed school to have a female scoring leader…kudo’s to her!!


Oh yea….those coaches listed above…who do YOU choose if you wanted a coach for a season (or longer)?…A-Bill Self;  B- Jim Boeheim; C-John Calipari; D-Roy Williams; E-Rick Pitino


Enough madness…back to the daily world (and more madness)



  1. John Rocco says:


    Good stuff as usual. A couple of thought:

    In the college basketball world this year, it’s interesting that the SLU and Mizzou woman are playing so well. I hope they both do well in post season. For sure the men won’t.

    Also, maybe in your next blog you could take a shot at predicting who the new Mizzou men’s basketball coach will be.


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