Thursday, December 21, 2006

Glitch at Scottrade?

-I find it very interesting that St. Louis U. won their game over Missouri State Monday night after a last second tip-in by Ian Voyoukas was ruled good. The officials didn't declare SLU the winners until after reviewing the last-second play on a TV-replay for over two minutes. The replay apparently showed that the big Billiken tipped the ball with one-tenth of a second still showing on the clock. But......wait a minute.

A story on (read it by clicking here) now says that the scout tape...a no-frills taping of the game for coaching purposes...indicates a discrepancy. Apparently, the game clock used on the broadcast differed from the one on the scout tape...(which has a live shot of the court and the clock displayed at the same time). And, Missouri State people are understandably confused and upset. Why would the clock be different on the broadcast of the game than it is on the raw tape? It causes me to wonder if a glitch in the game-clock system, which is hard-wire connected to the television truck and it's broadcast, at Scottrade Center is the reason.

First, remember that there was an entirely new scoreboard, and ribbon-board set-up installed in the building prior to the hockey season. These new electronics also brought with them an entirely new game-clock and penalty-clock system. The new boards have brought an added vibrancy and enjoyability to the games. But, as with any new system, there were bugs to be worked out. It is my understanding that the Scottrade Center operations people are not at all thrilled with the company that sold and installed the new system. The lack of supervision and follow-up help by the company seems to be the main issue...from what I can gather.

Some of my Blues game-night colleagues and I have noticed inexplicable pauses and jumps in the clock at random times during a game. I have noticed it while watching the clock for the one-minute warning at the end of the periods. Others have also noticed it while watching the clock countdown toward the end of the period, or game. It's pretty obvious when it happens. You watch the clock countdown...5, 4, 3.. pause....2,1. The clock will hold on a number for an extra bit of time before switching to the next number. I have to admit that I've noticed it from the time pre-season games started in September. I have mentioned it to some of the people who regularly communicate on the in-house "clear-com" system. (The series of headsets that allows those putting on the show at the games to all be on the same page.) So, I know that there are a number of folks who are aware of this phenomenon.

Of course, there is no way of knowing if this timing mechanism glitch is responsible for the discrepancy in the replays, but it seems like a good possibility to me. I have a feeling we will be hearing more about this problem before it's put to bed.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Eat the Tickets?

-Well, if you didn't have enough evidence that professional athletes are out of touch with reality, along came Steven Jackson of the Rams to prove it.

So, he was embarassed by the fact that the Bears appeared to have more fans at the Monday Night Game than the Rams did. Awwww. Poor guy. He was embarassed and proceeds to take out his discomfort on the St. Louis fans. How dare they sell their tickets to those nasty Bears fans? How dare they take the money that somebody was willing to pay them for their seats and not show up to cheer for Steven? How dare they decide to boycott the Rams even though there is little entertainment value left to this season?

Are you kidding me? How dare Jackson question the behvior of the fans? What is this guy using for brains? He may be an all right player, but his sensibilities are really screwed-up. Jackson has probably been removed from the real world since he was a little boy because he was a "special" athtlete. He could do things on the football field that most couldn', he got a free pass in school, and everywhere else. This is one part of our sports culture that gripes me to no end. I would suggest that in order to earn your first million dollars an athlete should have to spend his first off-season in the military with some drill-seargeant barking out orders 24/7. You don't do as Mr. Sergeant just stay there until you do. Maybe then some of these prima-donnas would see things from a fresh perspective.

These players just are so far from the reality of the every-day world that they have no chance of relating to the average fan. They don't get it that most people can't call a limo when they need a ride. They don't understand that there aren't a bunch of lackeys hanging around most of us ready to do anything at the snap of a finger. Oh, we all have hordes of fans folowing us around waiting for a hand-out or begging for autographs, don't we?

I think Mr. Jackson has just earned himself a pot-load of boos next time he steps on the field at "The Ed". Gee...I sure hope he doesn't get embarassed again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kitchen Sinks

-I saw Mike Kitchen at the Blues annual Christmas skating party at Scottrade Center Sunday night. What was more important was that I didn't see John Davidson. GM Larry Pleau was doing the "holiday glad-handing" and "thank you for all you do" greetings on behalf of management at the party. When I realized that JD wasn't in the house, I suspected something was up regarding the coaching job. Turns out, my suspicions were correct.

Sad to see a quality person like "Kitch" go to the annual NHL coaching scrap heap. But, he had to know that the writing was on the wall. You can't continue to have the kind of effort that the Blues have NOT been putting out and expect to keep a coaching job. The leisurely skate after the Brett Hull jersey retirement ceremony was likely the last straw.

Unfortunately, the way things are structured in pro sports, the coach is always the first one to be blamed. The players are not nearly as easily replaced as the man who is telling them what to do. There's only one of him...and a bunch of them. And there are a bunch of players on the current roster who do not deserve anywhere close to the kind of money they are being paid. A number of these veterans have let down Kitchen, Davidson, and the fans. You don't need me to name them for you. The Blues youth movement should be on in full regalia as soon as possible. Why continue to lose with highly-paid veterans? You can do that with young players that the fans might actually like to come see while peeking into the future.

I don't know much about Andy Murray except that he's a journeyman coach. He's been around the league for quite a while and has mixed reviews as a coach...depending on who's talking. I don't know what qualities he will bring to the job that might get these players pointed in the right direction. But, in my humble opinion, whatever he does will be more important in a couple of seasons...than it will be now. There is virtually no chance that the '06'-07 season will turn around to the point that we will be talking about a playoff berth. So, look for Murray to be more of a teacher of the game to the young blood from the organization that we'll be seeing before the season is over...and in the next couple of seasons to come.

Poor John Davidson...I wonder if he had any idea that it would be this hard. He might be longing for that microphone by now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hummel to Hall

In thinking about the election of Rick Hummel to the Writer's Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I recall an incident in the fall of 1981. As part of my duties for Belleville radio station WIBV, I hosted the broadcast of a banquet put on by Belleville Area College (now SWIC). We broadcast the event because of it's keynote speaker--Whitey Herzog. The "White Rat" was beginning the process of rebuilding the, then struggling, Cardinals and we anticipated the possibility of some of his remarks being newsworthy. To my knowledge, I was the only member of the media in attendance.

Well, not only did Mr. Herzog manage to make news, he managed to stir up some juicy controversy with his remarks about shortstop Garry Templeton. In a question-and-answer session following his speech, Whitey signaled the impending trade of Templeton by indicating that his shortstop--paraphrasing--"Only played when he felt like it". There were some other racially insensitive remarks as well.

The next morning I took a call at the radio station from Hummel, who apparently had heard about Whitey's not-so-guarded comments, and asked if I had taped the broadcast. After I told Rick that we had, he was on his way to the station through a deep, new snowfall to review the tape for direct quotes.

The next day, even though few were aware of Whitey's comments from our broadcast, the story went nationwide with a banner headline on the Post-Dispatch sports page reading-- Whitey Says Cards Can't Win with Tempy.

What was important to me about this whole incident was that it spoke to the integrity of Rick Hummel. Even though Whitey had quickly built up a reverence in the local media with his "home boy" personality and hell-bent-for winning attitude, Hummel wanted the story and went for it knowing that it would ruffle Whitey's feathers. Rick was going to make sure Herzog's inflammatory words and baseball opinions were not lost in the banquet hall that night, and didn't care how it might effect his relationship with the Cardinals' skipper. A few days later, one Ozzie Smith became a member of the Cardinals and their lore.

Congratulations Commish! I'm proud to know you.

Monday, November 27, 2006


-Time to get back in the swing here. Too much to do...and too much Thanksgiving- and its aftermath- to sit down and write.

-Many are speculating about whether Mark McGwire will be voted into the Hall of Fame on this year's ballot. Because of the strength of the class he's up against, it's likely that he would have had a hard time without any steroid suspicions. But with them...not a chance. I think most people, including McGwire himself, would be surprised if he was voted in this year. I'm not sure what that says about the rest of the steroid-era sluggers and their chances in the coming years. Nobody seems to consider that McGwire was likely batting against pitchers who were juiced up too. But, baseball's hall asks the baseball writers to vote in who they feel is deserving and tells them to consider character issues. That's a strange and unscientific way of determining who the fans of the sport should consider their heroes to be. The other halls stick more with basic statistical criteria and, to me, that seems more fair. Why should writers be put in the position of judging a man's character? Values on those things change from decade to decade.

-I like the Cardinals moves in picking up Adam Kennedy and Kip Wells. Kennedy seems a better fit at second than Ronnie "Belly-lard". Wells comes fairly cheap and seems to have a good "upside". Eli Marrero can't hurt anything either. Good versatility.

-The Blues...and President John Davidson...appear to be heading toward an early-season tough decision process. With the way the team is currently playing, Davidson undoubtedly is feeling some pressure to "make a move" or two...or three. The veterans on the team seem to be playing with little or no emotion. And unless they do...there's really no reason to keep them around. If you're going to lose, you might as well do it with the prospects who will be making up your team in the future. If Tkachuk, Guerin, Rucinsky, Weight, Drake, Johnson, Mayers, etc. can't get it done...then get what you can for them and start positioning your team as geared for the future. Don't take it out on Mike Kitchen unless you really think he's to blame for the lack of effort. If you make the move to the future now, you certainly couldn't hurt attendance any. The crowds are awful anyway.

-If you are looking for a good deed to do this Christmas season, donations can be made to the Jon Brough fund at any Commerce (formerly West Pointe) location in the Metro-East or St. Louis. Or click here for other ideas.

-I was feeling bad about the blast of wintery weather coming through the area...until I heard my son Ian tell me that he was looking at a "white-out" blizzard out his window in Vail, CO (photo). They've gotten about two feet of white frozen water over the last couple of days. Good for them...and the ski industry.

-How in the world do the St. Louis County Police not find those three dead bodies in the basement of the Lemay home where the shootout took place until several days later? At least the Chief didn't make any excuses on TV admitting that they screwed up. I'll bet somebody in charge of that operation is getting a good a**-chewing...or demotion.

-My buddy Chris Daughtry from American Idol fame released his first CD this week. So far, sales are "gangbusters". I haven't gotten my copy yet...but, many have. Click on this link for more info.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In the Wind

-I’m hearing a lot of stuff about the Belleville Police/Larry Sicka house raid last Friday. Some of it I can’t, in good conscience, write about yet. But, what I can tell you is that once the decision was made to enter the house, Sergeant Jon Brough almost insisted on being the first man in…the most dangerous place to be in the operation. Those who know say that it’s just the kind of policeman Brough is…ready to put himself in danger to accomplish the mission…and protect his fellow officers. His bravery and commitment to law enforcement is admirable. I’m sorry for his injuries and continue to pray that he recovers to some sort of enjoyable life.

-As to the firing of Chief Dave Reubhausen … Even though I really don’t have any inside information, all indications point to something more than a simple disagreement between two men…Mayor Mark Eckert and the chief…as to how much input a city boss should have in running the department. Apparently that is the foundation for the termination. But, it also appears that there is something else that will eventually come to light that precipitated the Mayor’s actions at this time. It will be interesting to see how Eckert handles the situation from here. People tend to forget that Eckert’s dad was a Belleville cop and the mayor himself was once was a sheriff’s deputy. So, he knows a little bit about law enforcement. He will have to do a lot of damage-control with the rank-and-file officers. “Reub” was very well-liked and respected by his fellow cops. Interim Chief Bill Clay appears to be the best option for the top job internally.

-Would you trade Chris Duncan for Dontrelle Willis? Some are saying the Marlins pitcher will be available in a deal because his salary won’t fit into the Florida payroll much longer. Duncan is still a natural first-baseman (as he proved several times in the outfield) and is apparently coveted by the Marlins. Their current first-baseman, Mike Jacobs, had a decent season…but not the kind to get excited about. The Cardinals might not be able to play Duncan on a full-time basis if he continues to be such a defensive liability in the outfield. Willis was 12-12 with a 3.87 ERA in ’06. It’s a tempting potential deal…especially with the holes the Cardinals have in their rotation due to free-agency. I’d say if you can make that deal, make it. Then try your best to re-sign either Suppan or Weaver... then go-ahead with the Luis Gonzalez free-agent signing for the outfield.

-I’m thinking that even though the Cardinals are World Champions, they will be very active at baseball’s Winter Meetings in early December…almost out of necessity.

-The Blues can’t get healthy enough to put what you would call a regular line-up on the ice. Now Curtis Sanford is out for a while with a groin strain. Hockey is a sport where you expect some injuries…but not to the degree the Note has had.

-There’s a committee at my alma mater, SIU-E, studying the feasibility and financial ramifications of the school going to Division 1 in athletics. The Cougars currently compete in Division 2. Many think that a move to D-1 would be the ticket the “step-sister” of Carbondale needs to forge a separate identity. I tend to think that the school could eventually compete in some Division 1 sports… basketball, soccer, and baseball for sure. But, to me, as long as the school is called SIU-Edwardsville, it will continue to fight Carbondale for an identity of its own. The committee should take that into consideration too.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Week

-The wounding of Belleville police Sergeant Jon Brough (pic) on Friday hit particularly close to home. While I, like most around these parts, am praying for Jon's recovery, I must admit to being relieved to hear that it wasn’t a family member that was shot. My nephew, Mark Heffernan, has been on the Belleville force for over a year now, and your thoughts can't help but immediately go there when you hear such news.

I’m sure there will be more written and reported about the strategy behind the raid on the house Friday. But, I have to wonder exactly what the purpose of such a storming of the house was. If they were certain that murder suspect Larry Sicka was in the building, and unless they thought that he had a hostage, or was putting someone else in danger, I don’t quite understand why there was a need to rush the building. Because you’re obviously dealing with an armed and desperate suspect, it seems rushing the building was unnecessarily risky to the health of the policemen. I’m no expert on police tactics, but it seems to me if you know the guy is in there, and he’s by himself, you wait him out. It’s nice to think that you could storm the place and walk out with your suspect in cuffs. But, wouldn’t that only happen in a perfect world? I read in Sunday’s News-Democrat that the City of Belleville is saying it will review the tactical unit’s strategy in response to this incident.

-The Blues won their game Sunday over Edmonton 5-3. Officially, there were 9,000 or so fans at Scottrade Center. Unofficially, I’d say it was more like 6,000. It is sad that the new owners of the team, who’s hearts are obviously in the right place, are saddled with the leftovers of the Laurie regime. But, let’s be honest. St. Louis is a fair-weather sports town. We just don’t support a losing product. Blues fan support has been very good from the early 90’s through 2003-04 when winning was a regular part of the picture. But now that we’re in a re-building mode, St. Louis doesn’t have enough hockey-loyal fans to overcome the fact that tickets are not a casual expense.

Unfortunately, winning appears to be the only remedy being talked about for the current sad state of affairs at the Scottrade Center. And I’m afraid a real quality team, that’s capable of a serious playoff run, is at least a couple of years away. Unless the Checketts regime comes up with a totally different strategy when it comes to ticket prices and marketing of the product, I’m afraid that half-full houses will be the norm for a while. Having a World Series hangover can only explain things for so long.

-While we’re on support for sports teams, I wonder how long affection for the Rams, in the wake of recent success, will last. New coach Scott Linehan has done some impressive things so far. But, the overall product has been mediocre at the Jones dome for three or four years now. The days of expecting the Rams to be a Super Bowl contender are long gone. If the team continues it’s current losing ways and falls to another losing record, what will the support be like at football games next year? Similar to the Blues?

-Congratulations to Dr. Charles DuMontier on the World Premiere of The Oregon Trail-The Musical. Performances at the Lindenwood Auditorium in Belleville Thursday, Friday and Saturday were well-attended and should give a good boost to the fund-raising effort for both the auditorium renovation and the future projects of newly-formed Main Street Community Theater, a new pro theatre company for Belleville. The show featured a spirited cast and many memorable and enjoyable songs penned by "The Doc".

-We watched a couple of DVD movies this weekend. Mission Impossible 3 strayed very far from the original concept of the Impossible Mission Force franchise. What was cool about Mission Impossible in the TV series days was that they had a mission to accomplish. They planned it out, and executed it flawlessly to the amazement of the viewing audience. In this movie, you had that element, but if it weren’t for his luck, Tom Cruise would have died about 15 times in this movie. The old IMF relied very little on luck. I wasn’t a big fan of this one.

The other movie was The Sentinel with Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger and Eva Longoria. This was a pretty decent tension-packed, suspense-thriller about the inner workings of the Secret Service as they protect the President. A few rather far-fetched plot twists…but, not bad. And, Michael Douglas has just about run his course as an action movie star. He looked really old in this film at times…and had no business playing a character who was 50…when he is actually 63.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Thoughts

-Good for the Blues! Adding Al MacInnis to the hockey operations management mix is not only good for the future of player decision making, it sends the right signal to hockey fans that the team wants top-notch individuals on its management team.

-Speaking of the Blues. The Eric Brewer (and some others) for Chris Pronger trade looks like the worst deal of all-time at this point. Not only did Pronger lead the Oilers to the finals last season, he looks to be the final piece of Anaheim’s puzzle in their quest for the cup. Meanwhile, Brewer either isn’t putting out much effort in a Blues uniform, or he’s totally lost the idea of how to play his position. He's been giving away pucks like candy at a parade. Other players are constantly having to cover up for his mistakes. I’m hearing that he’s being discussed as trade material these days…and could wind up his career as a Blue very soon. Hopefully, JD and LP will be able to get more than a couple of pucks and a broken stick for him in a deal.

-If Tuesday’s election were a little-league game, the Democrats would have won by the mercy rule. If it were a prize fight…they would have stopped it. I guess GW and the Republicans were sent a message. “You screwed up…now it’s somebody else’s turn”. Too bad a lot of good public servants…who happen to be Republicans…had to pay for the dissatisfaction voters had with the President’s policies.

-Kinda hard to be too revved-up about the Rams these days. They’re an OK team. But we are used to OK... and exciting... around here.

-Illinois basketball should be good….not great. St. Louis U. should be very good, and possibly make the NCAA tourney field. Mizzou basketball, with new coach Mike Anderson, should be interesting…at least. And, from what I hear, SIU-C should be very good again this year…picked to finish second (behind Creighton) in the Missouri Valley.

-Absolutely astonishing... that the Britney Spears-Kevin Federline marriage didn't last. You just can't rely on anything anymore. When two highly-intelligent, solid citizens like that can't make a go of it, it could happen to anybody.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Be Silly

-I have no problem with anyone who makes the effort to get to the polls on election day. Everyone is entitled to cast votes for whomever...or whatever...they so desire. That's the way it works in the good ol' US and Borat would say.

But, there is one aspect of the political process that rubs me a little raw. Straight party voting. To me, for someone to go to the polls and vote straight Republican, Democrat, or any other party, is a waste of the right to choose the right people...and run our country. Voting a party line seems to me to be one of the biggest cop-outs imaginable...almost an unpatriotic act. I believe I read that Missouri is not giving voters the option of voting a straight ticket least not by pushing a single button in the booth. Good for the Show-Me state, if I got that right.

I realize that some folks, depending on their financial circumstances, feel more inclined to vote a straight ticket. But, even these people, I believe, should understand that the candidates themselves, and their stances on all of the issues, are more important in the long run than any party affiliation. The best person for the job will be more beneficial to everyone in his, or her, jurisdiction no matter the party. If it so happens that one's beliefs and core values align them more with a certain party, fine. But don't go to the polls hellbent on voting a certain party without regard to the person wearing the label.

When I was younger...I leaned more to the liberal/Democrat way of thinking. As an older person, I tend to see things from a more conservative standpoint...and therefore Republican candidates have become more appealing. I have voted for independent candidates in the past. Some say that's wasting a vote. I disagree. How will anything about the two-party system ever be changed if people aren't encouraged to vote their conscience? (The two-party system seems more geared to keeping one or the other party in control than providing us with reasonable candidate options) If that includes a vote for an be it. Bottom line for me...I don't care if someone is Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, Blue, or whatever. As long as they are the best person for the job, according to my homework, they get the vote.

Most political party leaders will tell you, if they're being honest, that from time to time they have a bad candidate running on their side. It happens. It's up to us to make sure when it does that we don't sweep that person into office with a vote that's oblivious to qualifications. When we go to the polls, we should vote our own conscience...not somebody else's priorities.

Friday, November 03, 2006


-I've been working with Kathleen DuMontier, the President of Main Street Community Theater, on their upcoming project. Dr. Charles DuMontier, Kathleen's husband, has written The Oregon Trail, a musical complete with 17 original songs, that will stage it's world premiere next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Lindenwood University Auditorium. My work has been nothing compared to all of the toil being put in by Kathleen, Charlie and some of the others involved in the production. But, I hope Belleville-area people who appreciate the fine arts will turn out to see this new show. We need to see more professional theater on this side of the river, and the great old auditorium building on the former Belleville West campus would be the perfect place to develop it. There are some talented people performing in the show. And it's not often that you get to see the world premiere of anything right here in our own back yard. You can order tickets for any of the three shows on line by clicking here.

-Congratulations to my friend Phil Warren...named today as the new field manager of the Gateway Grizzlies. Phil was a great player in the Frontier League and I'm sure will make a great manager. He's got a teriffic personality...and understands the game. Randy Martz, former manager of the River City Rascals, will be Phil's pitching coach. Sounds like a great decision by owner Rich Sauget and his GM Tony Funderburg.

-The Blues seem to be coming around a bit. Thursday night's 4-1 pasting of the Colorado Avalanche at Scottrade Center was about the most encouraging game for Blues fans in a long time. Hopefully a few more of those will get fans back in the seats. The crowds for the last four or five home game have not been good.

-How about this Kanye West guy? He wins an award at the MTV Europe awards show...but then gets pissed when he doesn't win another award that he expected...goes up on the stage and throws a hissy fit. A little success goes a long way with some people. Grow up or stay home buddy.

-I have to admit one of the things I do miss about not being involved in radio news anymore is covering elections. I can't stand TV and radio political ads. But, being on hand at a candidate's election headquarters on election night as the results come in is a pretty good buzz. I'll miss's almost as good as covering sports.

-I had an interesting encounter with a member of the reptile world today. After stopping by the house in Millstadt for a bite of lunch, I came out to the car parked in the garage to find about a 4-foot-long snake slithering under my car. The thing stopped right under the driver's-side door. So, I wasn't interested in getting too close. I went back into the house to get something to shoo it away with and came back out to the garage to find it was gone. "Oh good"...I thought..."he took off on his own". So, I drive into Belleville for a brief meeting with my friend Roger Wigginton at Don Rodgers Limited clothing on West Main. We have about a 15 minute meeting. Then I take off to drop something off several blocks down the street. Roger calls on my cell and says..."Hey, you need to get back here. Your snake (I had told him about my encounter) is by the front door of my business." Apparently the thing had crawled up into the engine compartment when I went back in the house and was in there the whole way into Belleville. I couldn't believe it. Well, Roger calls the police...who call the Humane Society...who send a couple of young ladies out. They caught the monster in a bag and said they would haul him out of town and drop him off in the woods. We think it was a rat snake. Not sure. But non-poisonous anyway. I'm not quite sure what I would have done if the thing would have found it's way into the passenger compartment of my car while I was driving. Wouldn't have been pretty though.

-Roger and I have been involved with a committee formed by Mayor Mark Eckert to better market Belleville as a great place to live, shop and work. There was a nice article about the committee's efforts in the Belleville News-Democrat today. We just had a billboard (pic) go up on I-64 near the JJK center in East St. Louis. You can read the N-D article here. I'll be helping to produce a TV spot featuring the Mayor that will run on Charter cable early in the holiday season to encourage people to shop in Belleville for the holidays. Make no mistake, the hard work of Mayor Eckert is creating a renaissance for Belleville. The city is very close to re-claiming it's one-time status as the best place to be in Illinois south of Chicago.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cardinals Afterthoughts

-The Cardinals are already working on next year's roster. Actually, they're a little behind most other teams in that process considering they've had to concentrate on the post-season until now. Walt Jockety and the boys have an interesting few months ahead of them trying to finalize things. Let's see if we can help...

All of the following should be done...assuming you can work out the money end of it...

-Re-sign free-agent pitchers Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver. Mark Mulder could be signed to a heavily incentive-laden deal but not counted on to be a member of the rotation....too risky. Sign Barry Zito the Oakland A's lefty...also a free agent. (It's fun spending other people's why not?) That would give you a starting rotation of:
1. Carpenter
2. Zito
3. Suppan
4. Weaver
5. Reyes
(Mulder can jump in if someone fails...or gets hurt)

That's right...leave Adam Wainwright in the closer's role that he so admirably performed in this post-season.

Move Jason Isringhausen (assuming he recovers well from hip surgery) to a set-up role. He pitches only the 8th inning.

Trade Braden Looper, Juan Encarnacion and maybe a few other spare parts to acquire a solid right-fielder with power. There's been some buzz about signing Luis Gonzalez (old but not finished) as a free agent. I would not be opposed to that.

Teach Chris Duncan how to play left.

Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock and Randy Flores can fight for 7th inning duty.

Brad Thompson, Jorge Sosa, and lefty Chris Narveson would be long relievers.

Let free-agent Ronnie Belliard take whatever money he made as a World Champion second-baseman and go elsewhere. I like him...but not enough to overpay. Aaron Miles can handle second just fine.

I think a deal can be worked out with Jim Edmonds. I would sign him to a new 2 or 3-year deal that would pay him less than the 10-million option the club has for next year...but more than he's likely to command elsewhere at his age. Truth rarely see the combination of speed and power that Edmonds provides in a center-fielder. He and Andruw Jones of Atlanta are about as good as it gets in the NL.

Preston Wilson was a nice fit for this year...but strikes out too much. As a free agent, he'll likely get a better deal elsewhere...and the Cardinals should let that happen.

Keep Molina/Bennett as your catcher team.

Jose Vizcaino might be a good guy to keep around as a back-up infielder. And, of course, you have to keep So Taguchi around in the outfield mix, and Scott Spiezio around in the overall mix.

Of course, it's likely there will be several guys I'm not thinking of step up during spring training to try to make the roster. Remember Rick Ankiel? He's still hanging around in the minors. A handful of young pitchers are supposedly ready to be considered for big-league jobs soon too.

So, what am I forgetting? Oh yeah, keep Scott Rolen at third, David Eckstein at short and Albert Pujols at first. Goes without saying right?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Most Dangerous?

-No sooner do we have a half-million people celebrating the World Championship won by the Cardinals, than here comes that annual cockamamie a company known as Morgan Quitno Press, whoever they are...that ranks the most dangerous cities according to FBI stats. There's a big picture of the St. Louis skyline, featuring The Arch of course, at the top of MSN's home page today with a headline reading...America's Most Dangerous Cities--Report ranks St. Louis #1.

You know...I'm kinda tired of St. Louis taking a bad rap for it's crime when most of us know that the bulk of the stuff that this survey speaks to happens in North St. Louis and is mostly a threat only to those who live there. The North-side gang wars, drug shootings, and car-jackings go on...and on...and on. And, because of the lawlessness of that neighborhood, the rest of us who live in the suburbs have to explain why we habitate what some people believe is this century's version of the Wild West. The crime happens to take place in the city...but the city isn't the entire metropolitian area. Far from it.

They don't take into consideration the splintering of the municipalities in the St. Louis market. The city of St. Louis has a population of around 300-thousand. They don't measure the crime in the cities and counties around St. Louis that make up the 3 million or so people in the market as a whole. If they did, I'll wager that our city would be nowhere close to New York, Detroit (which came in #2), Washington D.C., Los Angeles, or several other cities in serious crime. St. Louis is handicapped by having a small geographic area for the city proper...and that's where most of the crime happens to take place. If they just included St. Louis county in their survey the results would be much different.

I don't think there were many of the Cardinal Nation faithful who stayed home from yesterday's victory parade because they were afraid to come to downtown St. Louis for it. The parade was organized right in the middle of where the near South-side projects used to be. The Truman Boulevard area has been cleaned up and made into a much cleaner and safer area than even just a few years ago. Wouldn't you think if St. Louis was so God-awful dangerous, and overrun with murderers and rapists, that some of the criminal element hell-bent on chaos would have shown up for the parade? I didn't hear about any horrible crimes at the parade. Did you?

At the same time, let's not kid ourselves into thinking that St. Louis city is paradise. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed...crime being one of them. But downtown, with the new stadium and all the new development in the works, is poised for a big turnaround. It will take a while. But things look much better than they did just a few years ago. The Washington Avenue entertainment and loft district is changing the face of that part of the city too. Those are two development areas that, if nurtured properly by city officials, can continue to expand and eliminate some of the blight and cancer around them.

The bottom line of my rant here is that I think the methodology of this flawed survey should be challenged by someone in a position to do so. Maybe Dan Dierdorf who fronts for the Tourism Commission. Or Bob Costas, who lives in St. Louis because he likes it...not because he enjoys confronting danger might stand up for our town on his HBO show. Maybe Joe Buck should speak out next time he's on a national stage like the World Series. Somebody with some clout should say that this survey has as much validity as the predictions of those who counted out the Cardinals before they played the games.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

World Champions!

-I believe I wrote something during the Mets NLCS that the New York media had counted the Cardinals out. Nothing is sweeter in sports...and maybe life... than proving someone wrong who believes you're incapable of something. The Cardinals did it three times in three post-season series...and are enjoying the taste of ultimate baseball success.

We, their fans, have been given a very special gift...and very special moment in our lives.

Thank you Cardinals!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No More Cold-Weather Baseball.

-With the rain pouring down on a very cool, if not cold, day in October...I thought it would be a good time to share my idea for baseball to re-arrange itself to prevent playing games in unbearable weather.

Here it is in a nutshell. Start the season at the beginning of March...but play all of the March games at the home stadium spring-training sites of all teams.

The Cardinals would play all of their March home games at the Jupiter complex. No, there wouldn't be any home games played in St. Louis in March....only April through August. Then, the playoffs would begin the week of Labor Day and be finished by the end of September. This way all of the games would be played at sites where baseball can legitimately be played. Baseball is not legitimately played in 38 degrees and rain...or snow flurries such as were predicted for Detroit Sunday night. In most cities in North America you can't expect good baseball weather beyond October 1st. That's just the way it is. Fans and players shouldn't have to put up with cold-weather baseball. And, you're playing your championship games in conditions that haven't been dealt with for any of the regular season? Does that seem fair to anybody?

I know what the arguments would be against it...
-The St. Louis Cardinals should not play home games in Florida.
-Why play games in March that many home fans can't opposed to post-season games in October that make you a little uncomfortable? Most teams don't make the post-season.
-The owners aren't going to go for it because they would lose a bunch of money on the low attendance in March at the smaller, spring-training ballparks.
-The home cities would lose a lot of revenue from sales taxes etc.

There are several other logical arguments against it. But, think of the positives.
-All (or at least the vast majority) of the games will be played in warm weather.
-The post-season games could be played in reasonably warm weather....what baseball is meant to be played in.
-All games in March would be televised back to the home market...and serve as promos/commercials for ticket sales during the April-August regular season.
-Many fans would take baseball vacations...(many already do) see their team play in March.
-The Spring-training cities could build bigger stadiums and legitimately expect to see them filled. Tax-sharing plans could be worked out with the home city.
-The national sports scene in March is currently dominated by the NCAA basketball tournament. Some hockey. Some pro baskeball. March baseball could compete effectively with that menu.

The only other idea that fixes the weather problem is to play all post-season games at neutral, warm-weather sites. But, that won't work for many reasons. Plus, home fans shouldn't be denied the chance to see post-season games in their own ballpark.

Of course, Bud Selig, the players association, and everyone else involved with running MLB would poo-poo the idea. "It's not broke. Why fix it?"..they would say. Well, I'm saying it is broke when they ask their loyal fans to sit through baseball wearing parkas, rain-coats, mittens, and ear-muffs. They would consider it...if they could make more money doing can bet on that.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What Was It?

As I expected...the St. Louis sports radio talk shows have lit up today with "Smudge-gate", "Dirt-gate", or "Tar-gate"...whatever you choose to call it.

If you missed it, Tigers lefty Kenny Rogers was shown on the national broadcast of World Series game 2 with some mysterious foreign substance gracing the thumb and wrist area of his throwing hand. It was obvious in the first inning. After some curious shots on TV of dugout discussions on both sides, and huddles between the umpires and managers, Rogers came out for the second inning with no obvious foreign matter on the hand. Whether it was totally washed-away...and what it was in the first place...was not well handled or effectively explained by any of the participants in the controversy after the game.

The whole thing leaves me asking the following questions...and wondering if Major League Baseball has taken another "we're-looking-the-other-way" public relations approach to the whole thing.
  • He wears a different type cap. I notice that Rogers wears a non-traditional type of cap. A low-profile model. It almost looks like a little-leaguer’s cap compared to what the other guys wear. Why would he do that? Does he have a spare cap to present to the umps if they ask to examine it after the game?
  • He wasn’t so fiery and jacked-up before his playoff success… Is he trying to impart a different type of mound demeanor to his newly-found superiority to distract everyone from the fact that he may be cheating? And at the same time is he giving the public and press a possible explanation for the overwhelming success he’s having in this post-season…success that he’s never had before?
  • Why didn’t Tony LaRussa challenge the stuff on the hand right away? Too much respect for buddy Jim Leyland?
  • Why wouldn’t LaRussa talk about it at all?
  • Why didn’t the umpires inspect Rogers’ equipment? Glove..cap..etc.
  • Why did the umpires, Leyland, and Rogers all have a different explanation of what the substance may have been and what went on during the game?
  • Why wouldn’t Rogers answer Fox’s Chris Meyers when he asked what was on his hand during the game?
  • What will MLB do about it now? Nothing? Will they let a possible cheater go unexamined? Shouldn’t they have impounded his equipment after the game? You could wipe off the obvious pine tar..and still have some somewhere…on the cap…on the glove…somewhere…just ask Gaylord Perry…he got caught with an emery board in his equipment once.
  • Why would Rogers cheat? Well...for one here's a soon-to-be 42-year-old guy who’s had so-so success during his career and gets a chance to shine on the stage of the World Series. He knows it’s probably going to be the last time he has a chance to distinguish himself. He doesn’t have enough confidence in his ability to pitch without an edge. He’s been the source of controversy before…the knocking down the TV cameraman thing in Texas last year…and desperately wants to go out by endearing himself to the fans of Detroit…and baseball.

The only thing that makes me think that there could be a simple and innocent explanation for this whole thing is that Rogers isn't stupid. At least I don't think he's dumb enough to get caught with pine tar on his hand when he knows the close-up, HD cameras of the national TV guys are examining every little detail of the game. Could anyone be stupid enough to have an obvious glob of pine tar on his hand when pitching in the Fall Classic?

Then again, do I believe the explanation of it being a smudge of dirt and rosen that got wet? Nope. It could have been transferred to his pitching hand from somewhere else accidentally...right?

Either way...Bud Selig will have another Excedrin headache before this one's over.