Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What a World

-Sad to hear about the passing of Dennis Spellmann...the visionary leader of Lindenwood University. He died today at age 70 after a long fight with stomach cancer. I was only able to know Mr. Spellmann briefly. But, it was easy for me to understand how he took a school on the verge of financial collapse a decade, or so, ago, and created a thriving university. He was a brilliant man who is one of those people that exudes and instills confidence... and therefore attracts people to his vision. He is almost solely responsible for most of the Lindenwood advances over the last number of years. And the City of Belleville should be forever grateful to him for envisioning and creating a new LU campus at the old Belleville West high school. Many great things already have, and soon will be, happening there because of his "Metro-East dream". It will be nearly impossible for someone else to come in and lead as he did. Rest well sir.

-So where has the Mark Mulder gone that the Cardinals traded for? This Mulder couldn't have gotten anybody out at the recently concluded Little League World Series. Too bad. The Birds should be careful about giving up on him though. That's what the Blue Jays did with Chris Carpenter. And their patience with Matt Morris's arm troubles was rewarded a few years ago too. Of course, Mulder is a free agent at season's end.

-Should we take David Wells off the Red Sox hands for the rest of the season? Depends on the price.

-How about them Grizzlies? All of a that they've been officially eliminated from the Frontier League playoffs...they've won 5 in a row. Last night Mike Breyman (the first-baseman named '06 MVP earlier in the evening) hit a 3-run, walk-off shot to complete a sweep of the rival River City Rascals. A strange season on the field for skipper Danny Cox's bunch. Six more games...3 in Florence, KY...3 against Rockford in Sauget.

-I believe I wrote something a few days back about John Mark Karr not being the guy. Something about a wacko projecting his fantasies into the JonBenet story. Whoa! This somewhat human being has some issues. I don't think even Dr. I-have-all-the-answers Phil has an explanation of this twisted brain.

-Apparently, our Ernesto prayers were answered. Speaking of hurricanes, I saw a terrific re-creative-documentary on the History Channel about the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX. I wasn't as familiar with the story as I probably should be. But, this disaster was unbelievable. Over 6,000 of Galveston's 36,000+ residents at the time were killed....most from drowning in the storm surge that covered the barrier island town in 15 feet of water. (The highest point on the island at the time was 8 feet above sea level) The weather official in charge at the time warned everybody too late to evacuate. Galveston was thought to be evolving into the New York City-of-the-South. It never recovered. Houston and Dallas have, of course, since become the boom-towns of Texas.

-I've been taking an aspirin a day to help with heart health for years. Today, a study says an aspirin a day also may help guard against prostate enlargement. Woo-Hoo! Who knew?

-Jessica Simpson and John Mayer? Hmmm... I wonder if he has sung Your Baaaaadee is a Wunduhlaaaaand to her?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


-The Cards take a two-game lead in the NL Central on the strength of two wins over the Cubs. That's a pretty good story line. But, one has to be concerned that they did it while scoring only 4 runs total...and got zero offensive production from their best hitters. Suppan and Carpenter were stellar. But, you can't be too confident about making the playoffs when you have these other factors working against you:
  • No David Ecktein...maybe for the rest of the regular season
  • Less than average hitting by Pujols and Rolen
  • Questionable availability of Jim Edmonds
  • Mark Mulder might be a non-factor
  • Weaver and Marquis are unpredictable
  • Encarnacion can be good or really bad

Hopefully, we'll be surprised by a number of these elements correcting themselves somehow.

Best wishes to Tom Hoy as he moves to Florida. You may not know it, but Tom has been very important to putting on NHL games in St. Louis over the past number of years. He has been the crew chief of the NHL off-ice officials who handle all of the league's chores behind the scenes. Goal judges, penalty timekeepers, game timekeepers, penalty-box attendants, league statisticians, shots-on-goal judges and more. These jobs are all assigned and managed by the crew chief. Besides handling the job in a top-notch, professional manner, Tom is a teriffic guy with a wonderful sense of humor. I tend to hang out with these guys before, and during the games, and have enjoyed my association with them over the years. We will certainly miss Tom and his presence at Blues games, and wish him the best in his Florida future. (He says he might do some work with the Tampa Bay Lightning crew). There was a teriffic turnout at a going away party for Tom on Saturday at the Manchester home of crew member Ed Martz. A testament to how well-liked by everyone Tom is. Replacing him will fall into the hands of Kevin Truman...another good guy who is more than capable of filling these big shoes. Good luck fellas!

While at that party, I learned from Savvis building manager Fred Corsi that there's a good chance Barbra Streisand will make a stop in St. Loo on her upcoming...I Guess I'm Really Not Retired From Concerts After All tour. If "Babs" decides to sing here it will be in late October and the up-close tickets will go for a cool 700, or so, bucks. Can't wait!

I always have a difficult time watching the totally-boring exploits of pre-season NFL games. But, the Rams game last night seemed to be worse than ususal. The Rams seemed to be trying not to score early in the game. And the "expert commentary" of former Rams receiver Ricky Proehl...well, was embarassing. Martin Kilcoyne's play-by-play was OK...but Ricky spent most of his time either talking over Kilcoyne...or re-describing something we had just watched. I know he's new at it...but there wasn't much insight, which is why they have former players doing this kind of work.

Let's hope Ernesto peters out....or at least spares New Orleans.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is getting exactly what he deserves...a lesson in who not to hire to play football. The season hasn't even started and he's had to fine Terrell Owens around 10-thousand bucks because he's missed meetings and training sessions while claiming to have a strained hamstring. When will these people learn that bad people...are just bad people. And that bad people can play sports...but they better not be team sports. T.O. should be shown the door and left to deal with his demons in obscurity.

Sorry to hear about a plane crash in Kentucky that took 49 lives this morning. While there have been a few crashes in recent years that have claimed a handful of lives, today's crash ends one of the safest periods in US history for aviation. The last high-mortality crash was the 2001 crash in Queens that happened shortly after 9/11.

I see where the state has released figures that put Belleville in the top 5 in the state for murders in 2005. While that looks bad, I'm sure most everyone understands that it was a highly unusual year for Belleville. Most of the murders involved domestic violence. One incident took 4 lives. Another took 3. It was just very un-Belleville like. I don't want to jinx it, but I think you'll see that born out by the figures at the end of '06.

Speaking of Belleville, congrats to Executive Director Rick Ortiz and the folks with the Belleville Main Street orgnization...a group of downtown merchants trying to bring excitement and business back to the old business district. The state announced a 20-thousand dollar grant Friday that will allow for the installation of a wi-fi umbrella over the downtown business district and greatly enhance the experience of being in the area. Nice job guys!

I got a kick out of something I read in this morning's Belleville News-Democrat. One St. Clair county official said that folks who ride MetroLink will have to deal with increased ridership and less parking at the popular Metro-East park-and-ride stations due to the opening of the new Shrewsbury line in Missouri. The guy said that people should drive to the Washington Park or Fairview Heights stations to find parking spots. Helloooo! If MetroLink doesn't provide a convenient park-and-ride alternative to driving...then why not just drive where you're going? Plus, there's another reason people aren't parking at these stations in the first place...both are in higher-crime areas and people have to be concerned about safety. Wake up sport!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


-As much as we'd all like to fire Izzy, there isn't really a guy to put in that role who one might expect to perform better. I think we all have to hope the man from Brighton somehow returns to his old form.

-John McCain will run for President in '08. He pretty much announced it with his comments on the war in Iraq yesterday. He faulted the current administration for leading Americans to believe the war would be--his words--"some kind of day at the beach". He's positioning himself as a Republican who's got problems with the current group in power. Probably a pretty electable stance...depending on his domestic agenda.

-At least one hockey beat writer is already impressed by the new people running the show at 14th and Clark. Norm Sanders...who writes for the Belleville News-Democrat...says he's enjoying the way new team president John Davidson handles his press duties. Norm says "JD" is open, and willing to talk about what he's thinking when he makes a player move. The old way of dealing with the press was not nearly so inclusive....according to Norm, who was on hand covering the Grizzlies game last night.

-Apparently he's just wired differently. Albert Pujols aced some cognitive and coordination tests given him by the folks at Washington University. Pretty much the same tests Babe Ruth zoomed through when he was 26 and tested by the gang at Princeton. Here's a link to the story....

-Keep your eye on a St. Louis-based start-up company called Vivid Sky. CEO Tim Hayden and a crew of workers were on hand at GCS Ballpark a few days back to test their new technology. They have created a system that will allow fans to watch replays of game action on their own cell-phone, PDA, or a rental device they would provide. A fan would be able to call up the action he desires (think TiVo on a hand-held device) and watch it from different camera angles in the ballpark or arena. A fan will also be able to order food items and service from his seat in the stadium. The idea is to enhance the live experience at a small cost. I had lunch with Tim the other day. Great guy... who should do well with his idea.

-The Southern U.S. is understandably concerned about a storm named Debby...spelled with a Y. Hmmm...the only Debbys I can think of who spelled it that way are Debby Boone (right) and Debby Lennon (Lennon Sisters). Neither of them would strike much fear in the heart, or cause much damage. But I don't live with them either.

-You had to know that some smart-ass would do it. A Phoenix theater...showing Snakes on a Plane...reportedly had to remove a diamondback rattlesnake from the theater...and another from the parking lot... yesterday. I'm sure someone expected to have a good laugh at the expense of snake-fearing patrons. Not funny!

-The reason is somewhat unclear...but Brian Williams is scheduled to anchor the NBC Evening News from the rooftop of Channel 5's downtown St. Louis building tonight. I suppose it's part of the promotional push the peacock network is putting on to lessen the impact of Katie Couric taking over at CBS in a few weeks. Williams has done nicely since jumping into Tom Brokaw's big shoes. The network still leads the others by a goodly margin in the ratings.

-Did Paramount Pictures fire Tom Cruise...or did he quit? Depends on who you want to believe. But, after some of the outlandish behavior of Cruise in the past couple of years, it's kinda hard to put much stock in anything he says.

-After losing in the primary...Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has gotten himself on the November ballot with a petition campaign that created a new political party in the state. And some polls now show him leading the other two candidates. Crazy business this politics.

-Now someone wants to change the dress code at the Belleville high schools to allow boys to wear shorts when it's hot. I thought the dress code was too lenient when they put it in. I don't remember being allowed to wear shorts to school...and we didn't have air conditioning.

-It was fun to see Bob Gibson at GCS Ballpark Monday. He was there with his son Chris as the younger Gibson worked out for the Grizzlies and the visiting Evansville Otters. Apparently Chris hasn't gotten much interest from the professional ranks, and Gibby is trying to spur the process along. No word yet on whether the Grizzlies, or Otters, will give the right-handed throwing, left-handed-hitting outfielder a chance to play.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Top of Mind

-Aaron Miles is doing a surpisingly good job filling in for David Eckstein at shortstop.

-Congrats to old friend Jim Goessling who's been named Vice President-Sponsorship Sales with the Blues. Jim and I worked together at KTRS several years ago. Jim has since been GM at all-sports KFNS. He's a well-connected professional salesman who understands what it takes to get the deal done, and is also a former great athlete and sportsman. Best wishes to Jimmy as he joins the team at 14th and Clark.

-Some of the Blues signings...(i.e. Jamie Rivers...Manny Legace) will certainly make competition at training camp more interesting. Some guys...(particularly the young ones)... who thought they had a spot on the team sewn up.. may not be so sure anymore.

-Pretty soon we'll have to strip naked at the airport checkpoints...instead of just taking off our shoes. When that happens, let me know when the Rams cheerleaders fly somewhere OK?

-Many people, including some experts, suspect that John Mark Karr's statements after being arrested in Thailand for the JonBenet Ramsey murder are suspect. I wrote Sunday that something smelled funny about Karr's admissions in front of cameras....especially in light of family members saying that they didn't believe he could have been in Boulder at the time of the murder. The DNA found in the little girl's underwear will tell if the guy did it or not. Amazing that they didn't get it tested before this whole thing with Karr blew up.

-Osama bin Laden fantasised over Whitney Houston according to a new book written by a woman who says she was his unwilling mistress in the 90's. The woman, Sudanese poet Kola Boof, says bin Laden wanted to give Whitney a mansion and make her one of his wives. Houston...we have a really big problem.

-It's not a good time for post-concussion syndrome to knock you out of action if your bosses are considering whether you're worth a 10-million dollar option on your contract for next season. Too bad for Jim Edmonds that he's not dealing with something that's a little more obvious an injury.

-This year's Rams won't look much like the '99 Super Bowl champs. Good thing Isaac Bruce never ages.

-Speaking of the Rams...I wasn't so sure about Jim Hanifan doing color on the radio broadcasts when I heard he would replace the late Jack Snow. But, the coach is doing a nice job. He used to sometimes have a difficult time speaking to the press as a coach. Maybe it's easier being a guy on the other side of the fence.

-When I went into a fit of semi-depression over Chris Daughtry getting voted off American Idol in May, I wasn't the only one who thought an injustice had been done. Several reviews of the American Idols Tour, currently making stops around the country, have indicated that Chris gets the biggest wecloming ovation...and puts on the best show....sometimes including winner Taylor Hicks. Many writers are saying Daughtry is proving that he should have won the competition. Here's one link to a review in the Indianapolis Star...

Also, Daughtry's shocking exit from the show was voted the Top Reality TV Moment of the past television season in an on-line poll released today... here's that link...

In case you haven't heard, Chris has a record deal with RCA and his first CD is expected in November. He's bought a new house in an upscale town in North Carolina. And, is forming a band to back him in his future concerts and recording sessions. Apparently, I don't have to worry about him any more.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Snipits

-Why would Tony LaRussa pinch-hit Juan Encarnacion (who's been sitting on the bench for 3 hours) for Chris Duncan (who had just hit a clutch homer to tie the game a half-hour before) with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of yesterday's loss to the Cubs? Duncan has only been the hottest hitter in the league for the last 3 weeks. I think managers carry the lefty-righty match-up thing way too far sometimes. Of course, Encarnacion struck out. One of the things he's famous for.

-A good hire for KTRS to bring in Mike Claiborne. Mike is as well-respected as anyone. He's got solid credentials and is willing, and able, to talk effectively about all sports, not just one or two like many other hosts in the market.

-The Grizzlies end a 12-game losing streak with a well-played, well-pitched, 10-inning, 2-1 win over Traverse City. A bit embarassing for skipper Danny Cox that he wasn't even at the stadium having taken a sick day.

-Something tells me this guy that's fingered himself as JonBenet Ramsey's killer didn't really do it. There's something totally spooky about the look of this character (John Mark Karr), who supposedly had visited with a doctor in Thailand who specializes in sex change operations . I'm guessing he's one of those wackos seeking a place in history (albeit infamy) by placing himself at the scene of the crime. His ex-wife (who shouldn't have any reason to lie) says he was with her in Alabama the night before the crime. More than 200 people confessed to the killing of Charles Lindbergh's infant son in 1932.

-For some reason I'm not in a particular hurry to see Snakes on a Plane, although it's been getting good reviews. You just gotta love the concept of Samuel L. Jackson 30-thousand feet up with a bunch of poisonous snakes though.

-I guess it was a good time for Yankees/Red Sox fans...but anytime the second game of two in the same day goes 4 hours and 45 minutes...and didn't go into extra gotta question our national pastime a little.

-The Rams lost their practice game with Houston last night...ho-hum. I think the male sheep will be an above .500 team. But if they make the playoffs, I'll be surprized. I'm thinking 9-7 sounds about right.

-Busta Rhymes was arrested for assault after his concert Saturday night? No way! A rapper involved in crime? Shocking. By the way, one of his bodyguards was shot and killed earlier this year.

-I'm sure the new Shrewsbury extension to the MetroLink system will be great for some, but many will have to understand some new rules that require riders to disembark in the Forest Park area to catch another train from time to time.

-That elbow that Albert Pujols has had drained a couple of times must be bothering him more than he, or the Cardinals, are letting on. He hasn't had nearly the second half that he had in the first.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quick Hits

-It's just me... I know, but these kinds of things bother me because of the work I've been doing for 30-plus years...and my need to pay attention to names in my job with the Blues. I have decided to boycott Channel 5 sports until one of their sportscasters learns how to say Juan Encarnacion's name correctly. Both Rene Knott and Frank Cusumano (nice guys...but..) have pronounced it En-cuh-NAR-see-own all season. Hey it phonetically. Or listen to your competition Steve Savard...or P.A. man John Ulett at the stadium... say it properly. It's En-CAR-NAH-see-own. A little bit of practice, and I'm sure you could get it.'s not that hard...really. Somebody let me know if one of them gets it right...and maybe I'll watch 5 again. I think even third-stringer Katie Felts gets it wrong. Just bugs me...sorry.

-After ten years...and many jokes on late night arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder. Big News! I wonder if Leno and Letterman plan to apologize to her father (mom died in June) for all of the jokes about the parents assumed guilt..and the inability of Boulder, CO law enforcement to pin the crime on them...back in the 90's. Don't hold your breath.

-So now Jim Edmonds is unable to play because of either post-concussion syndrome or some, as yet unspecified, illness. Not a good situation for the team or Jimmy. Let's hope it's nothing too serious.

-After a flurry of trades at the Frontier League deadline, the Grizzlies seem to be no better off. Their death spiral continued last night with another double-header loss in Chillicothe, Ohio. They were outscored 18-1 in the twin-bill and now have lost ten straight games. Yikes! At least it's good to see local pitchers Rob Blumberg and Marcus Barriger have been signed to help out.

-I read, with interest, the recount of STLToday's Jeff Gordon of another reporter's run-in with former Cardinal skipper Whitey Herzog. Todd Hefferman, who writes for The Southern Illinoisan, apparently asked the "White Rat" a question that rubbed him the wrong way during an appearance in DuQuoin last week. Here's a link to Gordon's story--

Several of my encounters with Mr. Herzog back in the 80's and 90's were of a similar nature. Those close to me have heard the stories, which I won't publish in this forum. But, it's interesting how Whitey has managed to remain such a revered figure in St. Louis sports despite his willingness to treat some people like doormats. One has to wonder if this sort of behavior, as much as anything else, is what's keeping the New Athens native out of The Hall.

-I wrote earlier this week about how proud we are of niece Lauren Heffernan and her new "dream job" with one of the Clydesdale hitches. A Clydesdale fan named Vern ran into Lauren at the motorcycle rally that just wrapped up in Sturgis, SD and sent along some pix. I spoke with Lauren after that last blog entry and she's having a ball...working her tail off...but loving it. That's Lauren with one of her new friends at the right. Thanks Vern!

-So all these years we've had it wrong about how many planets there are in the solar system? Don't be so sure. I'm reading that a number of astronomers don't buy the new definition of a planet...and the 12-planet idea being put forth might just wither on the vine.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Football Fraud

-I haven't talked about pro football since the draft, but it's time to get something off my chest. The NFL pre-season is a total rip-off, a bait-and-switch game, an empty promise bordering on fraud, that is forced down the throat of football fans by the greedy owners. Wshew...I feel better. Now let me explain.

There is no reason to play four pre-season games other than to give the owners an excuse to charge full-price to their, maybe overly-loyal, fans to watch meaningless practice games. It in effect turns a 16-game season into a 20-game scam. One pre-season game after a couple of controlled scrimmages would be plenty to decide on a team's roster. But, it seems most people who have season tickets have become resigned to the fact that buying pre-season tickets is just part of the deal. You want good seats for the games that mean something?..then you pay for the four games that don't too.

What's really dumbfounding to me is that it really makes very little sense for the owners from at least one financial standpoint. These guys, and at least one gal, invest millions of dollars in their players...then send them out onto the field for pre-season "run-throughs" and often a high-priced player will suffer a season, or career-ending injury. Admittedly, the high-priced players aren't on the field very long...that's what makes these games uninteresting. But they're out there long enough to occasionally get hurt playing a very violent sport.

For example, Washington's star running back Clinton Portis dislocated a shoulder in the Redskins' game this weekend. He may be back in time for significant duty during the season, but why do they put these guys in harm's way? Many a star player has had a promising career cut short while on the field in a practice game. We all remember New England wide-receiver Daryl Stingley's horrible paralysis-inducing hit from Jack Tatum of Oakland in 1978. That occurred in a pre-season game.

Portis, speaking at a press conference Monday, immediately started a campaign to at least shorten the pre-season by a couple of games. Problem is, he's just one guy. For anything to be done about it, the players union would have to make shortening the pre-season a major bargaining issue. That won't happen as long as Gene Upshaw is running the union and continues his "buddy-buddy" relationship with the commissioner. They'd have to come up with a way to replace the money they're making in the pre-season...and I don't know how that would be done.

The smart players who have positions on their teams locked up, have already invented some sort of "nagging injury" for themselves. This, so they can semi-legitimately limit their practice and playing time in pre-season games to avoid injury or work. If you look at the NFL injury reports, you'll find that a goodly number of the highly-paid players are dealing with some mysterious ailment that limits their activity. Terrell Owens...ohGod I've written his name smart enough to have invented a nagging hamstring injury that keeps him off the Dallas Cowboys practice, and playing, field, much to the annoyance of coach Bill Parcells. He's far from the only star with a made-up injury. So, there you have another reason to call pre-season games a fraud.

So, the fans don't like pre-season games. The players don't want as many. The coaches surely don't either. The television people don't mind broadcasting meaningless games...but ratings are traditionally poor. Who's left? Oh yeah, the owners. They like it for the above-stated reason. They know that fans will pay handsomely for practice event tickets, as long as they have to to get regular season tix. Make Joe Fan shell out...even if he just gives the tickets away. Borderline criminal.

But what's an NFL fan supposed to do...organize a national movement of some kind? Write his congressman? Stage protests? Maybe. But, I really haven't heard very much uproar over this collossal money grab. Have you? I guess if you have the money for NFL season tickets, you aren't all that concerned about shelling out for the pre-season. And, if you don't have the money, you're not that affected because you likely are watching games on TV anyway.

I guess it will continue as is as long as there's no uproar. But everybody should remember that it's the pretend Rams, Seahawks, Bears...etc. playing in these games. Remember that it's just a bunch of guys that are invited to put on pro-football uniforms and sacrifice their bodies for four weeks. Remember that the cost of a beer, burger, parking and a ticket are the same as when the real pros play.

I guess we just root for the uniforms these days anyway...and not the men wearing them. Right?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Weekend Leftovers

-The Cardinals and Grizzlies seem to have both caught the same terrible disease...

-The Cardinals get swept in Pittsburgh with very little about their game looking like a division leader. Mediocre, to bad, pitching. Little offense. No energy or enthusiasm apparent. For this team...the way they've been kicked around by teams in their own still be leading the NL Central by a game-and-a-half, is astounding at this point. We're now hearing the typical behind-the-scenes stuff that we hear when a team is tanking. There are cliques of guys who don't talk to other guys. There are pouters, and guys worried about their contract. There aren't any "fun characters" (like Walker and Sanders last year) to lighten the mood. All of the stuff you hear about struggling teams that you don't hear when things are rosy. Hopefully a leader will identify himself soon to try to get this bunch back on track. But, without solid starting pitching, it will be tough.

-The Grizzlies play in the independent Frontier League where expectations change dramatically from season to season. Heck, from week to week for that matter. But, since I became associated with the team in 2003 I've never seen the baseball, or the whole atmosphere surrounding the on-field operation, anywhere close to this bad. Danny Cox's team just got swept in a six-game homestand. That's right. They lost six-in-a-row at GCS Ballpark... their home venue. At any level of sport that is a disturbing occurence. They've fallen to 13 games below .500. What's the problem? In a word...everything. Pitching...particularly the bullpen...isn't getting it done. No timely hitting. Pathetic defense at times. Sloppy baserunning. The team looks like a bunch of guys who have some individual talent, but no direction, desire or focus. Good thing that Grizzlies fans keep flocking to the stadium for G.M. Tony Funderburg's good food, drink, promotions, and fun. On the winless homestand they still averaged over 5-thousand fans per game...great for baseball at that level. In fact, amazing!

-As a proud father of two healthy young men, I can't imagine the excruciating experience of the Utah parents of the conjoined twins separated last week. These poor little girls, Kendra and Maliyah Herrin, were given no chance at a normal existence. Together, they were doomed to be freaks. Separated, they will have enormous challenges. Before the operation, they shared not only a torso, but a liver, kidney, bladder, a single pelvis and two legs, one controlled by each girl. Not all that long ago, "less-human" humans would have had them put to death, or banned to an asylum, rather than deal with the consequences of their birth. Today we have the medical wherewithal to give them a chance at a decent, if not normal, life. But try to imagine making the decision to send these children into surgery knowing that neither may survive. And if they do, it will be as a partial human being. Sometimes Mother Nature, or whatever entity you choose to believe is responsible for this type of creation, is extremely cruel.

-I met Dustin Diamond...a.k.a. Samuel "Screech" Powers from the 90's TV show Saved by the Bell... at a Grizzlies game last week. Dustin is a fun-loving, but somewhat strange, guy who is now dealing with the question and challenge that many actors before him have had. How do you make a living when you can't get a part because you've been a child star and will always be thought of as the character you played? (i.e.-Jerry Mathers/"The Beaver", Danny Bonaduce, Macauley Culkin, Shirley Temple..etc) Dustin's 29. Married. Now living in Milwaukee...far from the Hollywood lights. He's traveling around appearing at events...(such as minor-league ballgames)...partly to raise money to pay the mortgage on his Wisconsin home. He hung out with the Grizzlies staffers, hoisting a few beers and cutting up for a couple of hours, after the game...and, I'm told, was the life of the party. (He's also doing some stand-up comedy wherever he can and tried out some of his material on the gang.) It's my uneducated opinion, based on the short time in his company, that Dustin has a ton of worries about his personal and professional situation. But, as any good actor can, he masks them well. I hope he finds a positive direction for his career and life. He seems to be a good person.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Makeover in the Cards

-Yesterday, I write that the legions of Cardinals baseball fans were all giggly about creaming the Reds 13-1 Monday....but what if they lose the rest of the series?? Well, they got spanked last night thanks to another useless outing from Jason Marquis. You'd like to think with Chris Carpenter and Anthony Reyes pitching the remaining two games the worst might not happen. Regardless, my thinking now about our favorite team is beginning to go into "long term" mode.

As I wrote before, it doesn't appear that this team has much chance for success in the post-season. And basically the results have proven that over the last several years. They're good enough to win in the NL...maybe even get to the World Series. But everybody knows that right now the AL is just a better league. So, if you're not going to win the big trophy with this bunch, does it really make sense to keep the oldest pieces, and unpredictable starting pitching staff, together much longer? It seems to me the Cardinal brass is poised to give this bunch a serious makeover.

You've got 4 of the 5 starting pitchers who are question marks for the future. Only Carpenter is under contract beyond this season and will likely be joined by Reyes and Adam Wainwright as starters next year. Marquis continues to write his ticket out of town with each start. I'm thinking he might be trade bate soon for one of Walt's waiver-wire deals. Jeff Suppan? like his reliability...but he's not going to scare anybody. Jeff Weaver? Gone. If I had to guess right now, I'd say they might try to sign Suppan to a new deal...but not more than two years. He would then be a "bridge" to the next generation of starters. They've got 4 or 5 solid prospects in the offing. (Chris Narveson at AAA-Memphis, Stuart Pomeranz(pictured), Blake Hawksworth, Chris Lambert, and maybe more, at Springfield) A couple of those guys could be ready for the bigs by '08. With that future to bank on, hopefully, "Mr. J" can pick up a nice free-agent in the off-season, or re-sign Mark Mulder to be the number 2 starter...with Carp at 1, Reyes, Suppan and Wainwright at 3,4 and 5...not necessarily in that order. Who knows...maybe Jorge Sosa can re-emerge as a factor from the scrap-heap that the Braves threw him on.

As to the position players, you would want to hold on to Pujols, Rolen, Molina and probably Eckstein. Juan Encarnacion has two more years on his deal...but could be traded if the deal is right. Chris Duncan is starting to look like a keeper for an outfield spot. Ronnie Belliard doesn't appear to be a long-term solution at second base. So, I'm thinking Walt is looking for deals that could bolster two outfield positions and, at least, one infield spot for next year until some of the minor-league guys develop. I say probably David Eckstein...only because his current slump has become worrisome. And, if he's not setting the table, the team struggles. He seems to have not recovered fully from that concussion he suffered earlier this year. There is no doubt he's a 100% all-out player.

Jim Edmonds hasn't helped himself by talking contract with Post-Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss. Strauss ran a story in today's paper in which Edmonds came off as whining about his contract situation. Edmonds has a 10-million dollar option for next year that, at this point, Walt Jockety and associates would be silly to pick up. And Edmonds, especially since he's not setting the world on fire, should just shut up until the pennant race is either won, or lost. The team doesn't need that kind of distraction right now. Colby Rasmus (pictured), a former first-round draft pick now playing at Class-A Palm Beach, is thought to be a replacement in center-field sometime in the next couple of years. His stats are nothing to get wound up about right now though. (.270 BA with 14 HRs this year)

There are some real potential answers in the minors. That hasn't always been the case. And, I like that the team didn't trade away too many of those guys at the deadline. You'd like to think that we have some excitement in store for late September and October. But, it's also possible that the Cardinal brass is willing to swallow hard this year to keep the promising players in the minors who will be filling the big league roster...and hopefully the not-too-distant future. Spending money on free-agents, and spending prospects for established players, only goes so far.

I'm bracing for some serious roster changes before next April. And I'm expecting a youth movement.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August Observations

-It's funny how fickle we sports fans are. The Cardinals win an important game against Cincinnati by a big score and suddenly all is right with the world. A few days ago, after the Birds had lost 8 in-a-row, many callers to sports talk-radio were on the verge of bridge-jumping. I still think our boys are a very good team...but not built for winning the World least not yet. I'm willing to wait a bit to see if Walt Jockety pulls a rabbit out of his hat. I wonder how we'll feel about things if the Reds come back to win the remaining 3 games of this series?

-Spent the weekend in Chicago. We parents were on hand as son Stewart performed as a professional actor for the first time. Woo-Hoo!! He actually received a check...not a big one, but a he reprised his role as Nick...a troubled teen who gets into a tangled mess after pretending to be different people in an internet chat a one-time reading of the play Dark Play, or Stories for Boys. This play is a tremendously-written, and very disturbing piece, by one of his DePaul-Theatre School professors--Carlos Murillo. The ensemble cast presented it at The Goodman Theatre, in Chicago's downtown theatre district, as part of the annual Latino Theatre Festival Saturday night. It was very well received and has already been picked up by a theatre in Los Angeles for a six-week run sometime in '07. We're hoping Stew gets a chance to keep the role in the L.A. presentation too.

-We're also very proud of niece Lauren Heffernan. She recently was hired on to her "dream job" and is part of the team that cares for, and transports, the Budweiser Clydesdales to various promotions and events around the western U.S. Her team is based in the Los Angeles area. This weekend she helped present the hitch at the big Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD. Augie IV was supposedly in attendance the team had to be at it's best. It's great when very exciting things happen to good people...particularly ones you've known since birth.

-I read in the Belleville News-Democrat this morning, that the guy...38-year-old Terry Wright of O'Fallon...who two Belleville policemen shot to death Sunday during an attempted arrest, was "assassinated". That's what his mother told the reporter who wrote the story. You would expect her to be upset. But, come on lady. This son of yours was on the wrong side of the law...particularly when it comes to drugs...for a long time and had been arrested for violence toward law enforcement before. When are you, and many others, going to get that the police are, in the vast majority of cases, the good guys? But when you attempt to run over a cop, generally bad things will, and should, happen to you.

-Congratulations are in order for my friend Roger Wigginton who is celebrating his 30th anniversary operating Don Rodgers Ltd., the outstanding clothing store at 6727 West Main in Belleville. With Roger's enthusiasm and business savvy he's been able to make a go of it in a climate that, for many years, was not ripe for success. Now that things are getting really exciting on Belleville's West end, Roger will likely have more business than he can handle. At least I hope so. He's a good man and deserves it.

Damn! I was so looking forward to that St. Louis Dixie Chicks concert too. Not!