Wednesday, February 03, 2016

It's Us Against the World

I've finally calmed down enough to write about the Rams move to LA. But I'm not at all happy about the way St. Louis was treated in all of this, and that's more concerning to me than not having an NFL team here.

Nobody...I mean nobody... outside of St. Louis seems to give a diddly about how St. Louis was rear-ended by the NFL and Kroenke's team. OK...USA Today had a piece in which writer Luke Kerr-Dineen proposed that the NFL should pay St.Louis's outstanding debt on the dome. But there seems to be no empathy in most of what I've read, and none in anything I've heard spoken on national TV, or anywhere else. Apparently Terry Bradshaw was right all along when he said "LA is a done deal for the Rams", and we chose to think him a moron. People outside of StL don't really care about us. Maybe they should, because they could be next. But they don't. And it seems there's a general level of excitement about the Rams move. Ticks me off!


It's my opinion that St. Louis was caught in the perfect storm at this point in its history. A whole collection of factors came together to make it impossible for the Rams to stay here. Oh, it was possible for them to stay. But with ESK calling the shots, and seeking his dream, it became impossible. Especially with the complicity of Roger Goodell and his minions.

The reasons are exactly what you know they are. And the list is long. I won't identify them all. But some would be-
  • The after-effects of the Ferguson incident
  • The stagnant state of general population and economic growth of the city and region
  • The smarminess of the NFL commissioner, and the league office's willingness to broker a deal for ESK
  • The nationally-accepted perception of St. Louis as a baseball-crazy place
  • The nationally-accepted perception of St. Louis as in fly-over country
  • The murder rate
  • The mayor of St. Louis being just one of a few hundred in the St. Louis market and rendering him somewhat powerless.
Many American cities would present a similar list, or worse. I mean how in the world can St. Louis be less of an NFL city than Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Nashville, or Jacksonville? Maybe we're not. But now we don't have a team.

Now, the city is going to be without the NFL for either a long time, or forever. And forever is a long time. And there is nothing anybody, even Dave Peacock, can do about it. Efforts could be mounted to attract an existing team. And we can make it known that we are open for NFL business and will build a new stadium for an expansion team. But that would likely only accomplish one thing. We would become a bargaining chip for the NFL that LA was for the last 20 years. 

Like others who have written and spoken in the aftermath of the move, I feel like we need to clean up our house first. We need to get rid of the perceptions that are out there. We need to make this into a place where it makes sense for a team to want to be, and do business. How does that happen? I hope someone has the answer, and the power to act on it. 

In the meantime, Let's Go Blues! And Let's Go Cards! (And maybe Let's Go MLS team!) 

And please notice there is a person important to this post whose name I chose not to write. Enjoy your investment when you can't get 30-thousand people to show up for the games in your Inglewood monstrosity buddy. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

StL in the NFL?

Well...Silent Stan's cards are now on the table. Wow! What a hideous, ghastly, and detestable sewage plant we are all brainless enough to live in. And to think in 1900 StL was the nation's fourth largest city. Why haven't we left with all of the smart people?

Does anyone still believe the Rams will be here long term? If that miracle happens, there's no way Kroenke is the owner. A franchise trade, or some sort of team ownership swap, is all that die-hard Rams fans can hope for if the construction helmets with horns will be useful much longer.

Even the most loyal StL/NFL fans would rather take a bamboo shoot under the fingernails than spend a nickel on any product of which Stan would be the beneficiary. The application that Kroenke's writers submitted to the NFL arguing for re-location to LA precludes any such possibility. The Edward Jones Dome operators can start planning the religious conventions and monster truck exhibitions now. Dave Peacock can start working on selling the National Car Rental stadium idea to other owners. ESK has other ideas and isn't bashful about leaving trash to be picked up by someone else.

Arguing the points of Stan's shots at St. Louis, and its viability as an NFL market, is useless. It's nothing more than a lawyered-up, best shot at making Stan's fellow NFL owners buy in to his side of the story, and version of history. What's more, Kroenke undoubtedly knows St. Louis is much more than what the document portrays it to be. In a vulnerable position with the re-location process, he's compelled to take a Hail-Mary shot to make Inglewood appear more attractive than Carson...and St. Louis. I would think, and hope, that the other multi-million and-billionaires who will decide St. Louis' fate are above the baloney-ball he's trying to sell. All they have to do is view some of the pro-St. Louis statements made when he took full control of the team. That wasn't all that long ago.

When some of the owners see what the Peacock/Blitz task force has presented to the league, they will say, "I'd take that". The realization should then take hold that Stan is not doing right by anyone but himself. When the new stadium effort began, Mr. K. had obviously already checked out of the StL market. If his heart wasn't irrevocably set on the Inglewood project, he would have engaged in at least some new stadium discussion. Of course, we know that didn't happen. If he kept the new stadium effort at arms length he could continue to promote the notion that St. Louis didn't do its part when talks of upgrading the dome didn't produce what he wanted; and then he could continue to say the contract was breached, and that allows me to do whatever I want.

Will some other owner take the new riverfront stadium deal and run with it? There aren't many obvious candidates for that. In the long run, St. Louis football fans will not necessarily get what they deserve, but what the NFL brass and owners think is best for business. That's the frightening part.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Makes You Wonder...

...what they know that the general public does not...Joe Buck and Dan Dierdorf I mean.

In case you missed it, both of these fellows took verbal swings at "Silent Stan" Kroenke at a Police Foundation luncheon yesterday at America's Center. Here's the whole story from stltoday.com. Rather than analyze what they had to say, it's more interesting to me to think about the position in the timeline of Rams/Dome/Stadium/LA events that these comments are occupying and with what knowledge were they made.

I have to believe that these extremely well-connected gentlemen, whose iPhones certainly include the numbers of NFL owners and top executives , are working with a fair amount of inside information. If they have been made to believe that Stan is going forward with the LA move no matter what, then they would have no reason to hold back on their comments. Both loyal to St. Louis to the end, Joe and Dan then are free to let Stan have it with both barrels knowing it makes no difference to him, or anyone else, but would get a rise from a crowd. I know both of these gentlemen a bit. And if they thought their comments would hurt the StL-NFL cause, they would most definitely be more restrained.

As to the timing, maybe the luncheon Q&A was just the public opportunity they were presented with to take a shot or two. Of course, the NFL owners are meeting again in October to hear proposals from St. Louis and San Diego on the progress and status of stadium plans. With that in mind, you wonder if Dave Peacock has told his "StL-NFL team", which may include Dierdorf and Buck...both news-maker types...that it wouldn't hurt a thing to jump on the Gateway City bandwagon. Please help further the city's case for an NFL team, Rams or otherwise. And if that means taking a shot at the Rams owner, by indicating that he didn't give the city a fair chance, so be it.

To carry that train of thought another step, one wonders if Peacock hasn't heard something like this from the NFL brass..."Dave, here's the thing. We believe Stan has a workable plan in SoCal, and we're not going to do much to stop him from spending 2 billion of his dollars on a complex in Inglewood and taking his team there. But if you can muster enough resources to get a stadium built in St. Louis, we will shake your hand and do our best to get your city a replacement team." 

It would be nice if somebody in the St. Louis media would simply ask Joe or Dan if they actually do know something about the future of the NFL in the STL that hasn't come out yet; or are just opinionated St. Louis guys speaking their mind. They may have inside info...but also could be playing along so as to not kill the stadium-building effort. Certainly, both guys know that Stan has no interest in preserving his public relations situation here, or selling Jones Dome tickets. That ship has sailed. They also understand he doesn't care what anyone else thinks; as long as the value of his investment doubles or triples when his team takes up residence in SoCal. He only needs to care what the left-coast crowd thinks.

It appears that one of two things is true. Some sources, national or local, have indicated to Buck and/or Dierdorf that the Rams move is a effectively a "done deal"...or they simply feel uninhibited when in a position to be ungentlemanly while speaking about the Midwest's least favorite multi-billionaire. I suppose we can all pick which we would like to believe.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Baseball's "Old School" Defended

During my lunch break today, I had occasion to do a bit of internet surfing. And one of the places my surfboard came to rest was this article by Nate Scott who pens for USA Today. The thrust of the article--if you don't have time to click on the link-- is he thinks some of the old unwritten rules of the game of baseball are stupid. You know, the accepted brush back pitch, not showing up the other team, hot-dogging, etc.

Mr. Scott points to an incident in the blowout of the Yankees by the Astros Tuesday night. Carlos Gomez of the Astros, with his team already leading by a 9-0 score, just misses a Chris Capuano pitch to the point of producing a routine fly ball. Capuano then flips his bat toward his own dugout and mutters something. Some of the Yankees yell at Gomez, including manager Joe Girardi, and afterwards claim that Gomez should "play the game the right way". Gomez yells back, and...well...boys will be boys ensues.

Scott says this and other "internal policing" rules should go the way of the dinosaur. And somehow he totally whiffs on the fact that Gomez is a known hot dog in the sport who is always searching for the spotlight. He also doesn't seem to get that when Gomez, with his team leading big, curses himself and flips his bat he is not berating himself as much as he is showing up the pitcher...in effect saying "That bum threw me a pitch I should have hit to Portugal...and I missed it." Does Gomez consider what his actions say to the pitcher and the crowd? Of course not.

If this childish and self aggrandizing behavior isn't pointed out and halted by the players themselves, guess what? It doesn't get halted at all. Then soon we will have to put up with the same kind of ridiculous and me-first behavior we see in NFL football on a weekly basis. Make a tackle...stomp around the field, pound your chest, huff, puff, and and let out a primal scream. Run for ten yards...and act like you've won the game single-handedly in the first quarter. We see enough of the baseball diva behavior the way it is without allowing it to blossom into the whole show like the NFL does.

Mr. Scott, who is quick to call out what he deems an "old fogy" mentality, even goes so far as to say that the Gomez behavior should be considered a "good thing" in that he is still competing in a blowout. I guess that a 9-0 lead in a team sport isn't good enough? The player should also show that he is ready and anxious to "pile on" no matter how it makes the opposing players or fans feel? Again..it's all about me with today's players and gentlemanly play is "old fogy" stuff.

Maybe today's players, and writers, would do well to re-visit the sport as it was played by the gentlemen of the 19th and early 20th century; we might all appreciate the individuals playing it more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NEW Stan/NFL Thoughts

Well...at the very uncomfortable, for St. Louis football fans, Rams/Cowboys practice in Oxnard yesterday, we were treated to the new look. Stan Kroenke has obviously decided to forgo the hair color and present himself au naturel. Stan, we hardly recognized ye.

The Mysterious One was cavorting with his NFL owner-buddy Jerry Jones at the joint practice...each sporting the ball cap of their respective teams. But we were used to the look from Jones, not so much from Silent Stan. Maybe it was time to reveal the "new Stan" for the fans who will be seeing him the most after the coming season? Whatever. Most have been less than impressed with his public image skills. The SoCal media will have a field day with the guy if he repeats his performance of here in the Midwest. Of course, he will buy an extended honeymoon if he moves the male sheep franchise back to San Andreas fault territory.
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As to the significance of any comments coming from either Jones or Kroenke, it was a "no comment day" for Stan, other than the fact that he actually showed up at a Rams practice. Of course he rarely even bothers when the team suits up in The Lou.

Jones, on the other hand, was more than ready to support the effort to get a team to SoCal. And it sure sounded like he preferred it to be Stan and his Rams. He was politically correct enough to allow for the possibility that the Chargers/Raiders effort is a strong one, but didn't hold back in support of good ol' Stan as being the kind of people you want to associate with and see succeed. Jones also declined to say anything in support of the St. Louis stadium efforts. Essentially, that was his "no comment" moment...and that says something.
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The esteemed Jeff Gordon of the Post-Dispatch writes this morning that the best-case plan for cleaning up the growing Los Angeles NFL mess would be for Stan to form a partnership with Dean Spanos of the Chargers (right) to co-inhabit the new Inglewood digs Stan is planning. According to the writings of Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times, both Spanos and Kroenke can block one another when it comes to re-location approval of the ownership in a vote. So eliminating that roadblock with a partnership would be the quickest and least costly approach to their mutual re-location interests. Of course, should that happen the poor Raiders will be left swinging in the Oakland breeze and looking for a solution on their own.
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It has been suggested to me that an expansion team might be the best option in all of this for St. Louis and a new stadium on the riverfront. Scott Wuerz, who puts down his professional thoughts
for the Belleville News-Democrat, suggests that if the league is serious about expansion into a foreign market (London? Mexico City?) that they go ahead and do it and include an expansion team at the same time for St. Louis. You'll remember that St. Louis was snubbed, says Wuerz, in the expansion process before when Jacksonville came into the league. This would right that wrong. However counting on the NFL owners to do the honorable thing by St. Louis can be dangerous place to stand. We would have to hope that Dave Peacock works some sort of guaranteed return, a la an expansion team, for building a stadium even if Stan's SoCal dreams are realized.

If the expansion approach takes flight with the owners, the Inglewood Rams could be re-aligned with western teams in a division on the Pacific coast and the new St. Louis "Archers" (I never liked that one) could play in a more time-zone friendly division.

Obviously, there are a lot of moving (pun intended) targets in this shooting gallery. Buckle your seat belts football fans, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Broncos Scenario Still In Play

I was reminded after my most recent post about the Rams/stadium situation that I had written about a possible "franchise trade" scenario back in January. While it will take some doing, and the facts have changed somewhat since, it still seems like the cleanest option from a St. Louis perspective.

In doing a little nosing around on the net, I find that the NFL is asking the decision makers in the Denver Broncos ownership situation (three trustees) to come up with a lead owner from Pat Bowlen's children in 2016 or sell the team. Whether any of the kids is interested, or has the wherewithal to actually step into the lead owner role is the question. This was the thrust, with many details, of a Denver Post story published last September.

So...The NFL could propose to Silent Stan Kroenke that he back off of his efforts in Inglewood, or just be a landlord, to satisfy the league's cross-ownership rules by agreeing to a trade of franchises...the Rams for the Broncos. In this scenario the Rams would stay in St. Louis to play in the new stadium (assuming it gets done) and the "mysterious one" would take over the Broncos to complete his holdings in Denver. He already owns the NBA-Nuggets and NHL-Avalanche there. Then the NFL would give the go-ahead to the Chargers and Raiders to build their new digs in Carson, or force a reasonable lease agreement for them from Stan in Inglewood.

Obviously, if the Rams stay in St. Louis this plan would require a new owner/owners for the team. Who might that be? My instinct here is that the Dave Peacock/Bob Blitz/Jay Nixon brain-trust has already been coached by the NFL brass to come up with an answer to that question.

Would Mr. Peacock have some friends with the necessary available funds to step up to that plate? Peacock himself has considerable wealth and benefited greatly in recent years as CEO of the AB part of AB-InBev. At least one estimate of his worth (who knows how accurate?) that I found puts him somewhere in the $27 million range. So he would need to put together several extremely-moneyed friends to be able to operate an NFL team. Are there people in St. Louis, or the region, who could do that? Sure. The Blues operate now with such a consortium of the area's wealthy.

The ticket is much pricier in NFL ownership though, so Mr. Peacock had better be talking to the big-time heavy hitters if that is going to happen. I'm sure that all of these scenarios have been put out there in the high-level meetings we keep hearing about, not to mention the scads of video conferences and phone meetings that no doubt are happening every day on this front. It's what people of money do..conduct and participate in meetings. For those of us who care about the future of the NFL in St. Louis, we're counting on Mr. Peacock to be the most persuasive participant in them.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rams Scenarios Not Pretty

There's no way to stop Stan Kroenke from taking the Rams to L.A. If he really wants to, he will. You know by now he really wants to.

We all know he's smart enough to have thought about all the possible scenarios before he put tons of his dollars into the Inglewood site. Do we really think that he'd be this far along with the Inglewood entertainment complex without considering all possible outcomes?

One of those scenarios is-- The league denies his relocation application...the worst that could happen from his standpoint. Then what? Does he operate a team in a market where he has totally alienated the fan base?...where casual fans will be much more likely to stay at home to watch the games on TV than buy a ticket...for years to come? Forgiveness of such an owner doesn't come quickly here in the Midwest. Not gonna happen. He has already thought that through and will spend whatever money it takes to fight the league and his fellow owners in court. He will call the moving vans and the team will become the Los Angeles Rams again anyway. We have plenty of evidence already that he has given up on St. Louis as his market of choice.


Even if the league prefers the Carson/Chargers/Raiders stadium plan, if Stan thinks he can get his team operating in Los Angeles before that project is underway, he'll do it. That would force the league owners to decide whether to approve the Chargers/Raiders stadium plan with Stan already there. Would they? Doubtful.

That's where things could get really messy because they don't want a 3-team L.A. market. Would the other owners disenfranchise Stan and take away his official membership in the league? Could there be a trade of franchises worked out to satisfy everyone? There are many other possibilities, none of which come into play unless the new stadium in St. Louis gets approval and is built.

If it all goes Stan's way, does St. Louis lose its second NFL franchise in 30 years? Obviously, the answer is yes. The best-case scenario then would be that it's only temporarily.

If Commissioner Goodell and Stan's fellow owners have an ounce of integrity, they will make some type of deal with the Dave Peacock team and the fans of this market to locate a team here. Again, that's if the Nixon task force is successful in getting the stadium built. If St. Louis gets a team sooner or later would then be the question. If such a deal is made, and the L.A. Rams are back in business, who do St. Louisans get to be excited about?

Could it be the Raiders? Apparently not under the current ownership, from what Mark Davis has said publicly. "No interest in operating in St. Louis". You have to take him at his word, although he's in the business of supporting the Carson project at this point.

Could it be the Jaguars? Shahid Khan-the Midwest guy to the right- doesn't appear to be pining for an opportunity in St. Louis, although he put in that bid for the Rams a few years back. I'm sure the league would prefer a team in the 21st television market rather than the 47th. But in comments after Tuesday's presentations in Chicago, Khan seems to have moved on from his St. Louis desires. He gives the impression of being happy with the situation in Florida. Or he is playing it coy.

Are there any other existing smaller market teams/owners that might enjoy a new, riverfront palace in St. Louis in which to rake in dollars? Questionable. Cincinnati, Buffalo, KC, Green Bay, Tennessee, and a few others are in lesser-populated markets, but all have strongly-established brands and fan bases in them. And none have, for public consumption, groused about a stadium situation like the California teams. So you wouldn't expect a rush to fill the void in St. Louis.

A market move for an existing team would be complicated and drawn-out. And any such application for market transfer would take years. So we would likely be facing a similar situation time-wise to what St. Louis had after the Bidwill/Cardinals move to Phoenix. The key in that situation would be to have a hard-and-fast commitment from the NFL that a team would be located in St. Louis if the stadium gets built. And is that even a possibility? Expansion? Are we ready for more years of losing?

If you are one who believes that St. Louis football fans will come out of this OK, I'd like to hear your argument. If you don't care, I understand. If you are against providing an NFL owner with a single dollar of public money, I get that too. But if you are interested in the NFL still calling the Gateway City one of its homes, the picture doesn't look like it's shaping up all that well from where I sit. Remember Silent Stan has the money to call his shot.

The next key date on the calendar is October 6/7 when the Peacock team updates the stadium plan for the owners. Owner/league reaction after that should go a long way toward clarifying the possibility of pro football being a part of the St. Louis self-image for the next few decades.