Monday, September 25, 2006


-It was a somewhat weird night at the Scottrade Center for pre-season game number 1...mostly because the building isn't quite ready for the regular season. The new overhead score/video board isn't installed yet. And, the ribbon boards that will surround the seating bowl with new video aren't in yet either. The overhead board had the horn that sounds at the end of the periods. So, building manager Fred Corsi came up to me before the game and informed me that the end of the period would have to be hand signaled with a pressurized-gas air horn. So, my friend Larry Weaver who is penatly timekeeper at most games had the honor of signalling the competitors and crowd with a loud weeeeaaaaaaaooop on the air horn. Fun for him. Weird for professional sports. Some other experimentation was going on with the presentation too. Nothing major...but, there may be some tweaks to the usual music/video/announcements combination that hockey fans are used to.

-So, the Americans take their third straight thumping in the Ryder Cup competition with Europe. And fans of the US game are wondering what could possibly explain this recent trend. I think it's fairly simple. It boils down to character. In my humble opinion...too many American kids are put into "golfer assembly lines" where they are taught the game at an early age by professionals...go out and practice their little fannies high school, college and junior golf, where the best of them are rarely challenged. They do this while absorbed in golf too much to learn a thing about character traits like teamwork, trust, faith, respect, and other such basic values that become important in this team competition where individuals fail...and people who care deeply about one another succeed. It becomes apparent each time they play...that the Euros are strong of personality and passion. They seem to genuinely enjoy themselves... and one another. The Americans, meanwhile, appear to be an assemblage of individuals who play the game well as individuals...but have never had to think much about...or do much for...something known as a teammate. We continue to build athletes in our country that know how to succeed for themselves...and care more about how much money they can pile up, than becoming admirable people of strong character. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and several other more senior players come to mind as examples of the kind of people I'm describing. And how can this be fixed? A character building course in each year of grade school might be a start. And a little church education used to go a long way.

-Even for East St. Louis this was a bizarre and terrible weekend. There are many wonderful people trying to do the best for themselves and their families in what sometimes seems like a God-forsaken place. But, the murder and mayhem of this past several days made all of us shake our head and wonder how someone could go so terribly off the path of acceptable behavior. And hopefully the murderous antics of an obviously disturbed woman makes us all pray for better days for our friends in East St. Louis, Illinois.

-Are the Cardinals trying to become a team of infamy? Could they possibly NOT win the NL Central after leading by 7 1/2 games just a week or so ago? It still seems unlikely. But don't forget Gene Mauch's (left in pic) 1964 Phillies. The Cardinals were the beneficiaries of that monumental collapse. The Phillies lost 10 straight games to end that season...blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 to play. Let's not live that nightmare boys.

-Cardinals continued... I'm also predicting that after the season we'll find out that Scott Rolen is having ongoing problems with that surgically repaired shoulder. You'll remember he sat out some games a few weeks back. The team said it was because of shoulder problems...but not related to the surgical re-construction he underwent last off-season. Pardon me for being skeptical. But, Rolen just isn't getting it done like he has in the past at the plate. And, I am seeing what appears to be a slow and tired swing from a guy who never used to display one. If anything, that used to be Scotty's strong suit. You couldn't get an inside fast-ball by him. That's what was so exciting about his early season success. Heck, he had a grand-slam blast on opening day that came on an inside fast-ball in Philadelphia. That, and his first half of the season, was what got us all thinking that the old Scott was back...and his physical problems were a thing of the past. Now, after a couple of months of getting beat regularly on "high hard ones" and popping up constantly on pitches he used to drive, it looks like he's either got a chronic shoulder problem that needs more attention...or some other difficulty that hasn't been identified yet by the super-sensitive trainers, doctors, managers, and press-relations people in management. Keep your eye on Tony LaRussa's comments after the Cardinals' last game of the season...whenever that might be. I'll be willing to wager that it will then be shared with Cardinal Nation that Rolen has been laboring in considerable pain during the second half of the season.

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