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 money...so 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 is...you 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 survey...by 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 attend...as 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)...to 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 it...you 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.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Special Players Please Stand Up

-A little Cardinals analysis on the day of Game 7 of the NLCS.

What do I know for sure?

- Both teams have the same chance to win tonight’s game.
- The game is being played in New York.
- The Cardinals, again, will ostensibly have the better pitcher going to the mound at the start of the game.
- That didn’t make much difference last night because of the Redbirds pitiful offensive display.
- Jeff Suppan has pitched well in big games before.
- Oliver Perez hasn’t.
- The Cardinals have been awful against lefties.
- Ronnie Belliard's tongue apparently doesn't fit in his mouth.
- Tony LaRussa has been doing a solid managing job.
- The players haven’t played anywhere close to their potential…let alone above it.
- We’ve seen this core group of players roll over and die in the post-season before.
- So Taguchi probably should be in the starting lineup.
- If Billy Wagner appears in tonight's game, he probably won't have much confidence that he can save it.
- Jim Edmonds either isn't over his concussion thing...or he's just hitting like normal in the post-season.
-Scott Rolen's double in the 9th off Wagner was the first ball above his waste that he's hit solidly in two months.
-Jose Reyes needs to take a chill pill.
-The best hitter in the game...(you know who that is)...needs to have a game that proves it.
- Many of us had already given up on the post-season a while back because of the bumbling, stumbling last couple of weeks of the regular season.
- Any Cardinals games we’re seeing now are really a bonus to this season.

What don’t I know?

- Which Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion…(the meat of the order that usually wins for StL when they do) will show up.
- What sort of strange occurrence…normal for New York…may influence the outcome.
- In what kind of weather will the game be played.
- How badly do the players feel about not nailing it down in Game 6.
- Will a bad call by the umpires influence the outcome. (i.e. Don Denkinger)
- Which players want to write their names in the history books.
- Which ones would rather shun the spotlight.
- Will Carlos Beltran continue to be the best player in the world when he bats against Cardinals pitching.
- Will the Mets pitching be better than expected…as it was with John Maine.

Whatever the answers…the baseball season has been fun again in St. Louis. As stated earlier, there was no way to expect the Cardinals to go this far in the post-season a few weeks ago. So, no matter what happens tonight…game 7 loss…or trip to the World Series…it’s been a good ride. And Izzy won't blow this game.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


-This is about how people behave. How they choose to comport themselves. There are few people around these days who you can point to and say..."That guy is a gentleman." Let's leave women out of this discussion. But, there are many examples lately of women behaving like boorish men...particularly when it comes to crime. You never used to see that. When you say the word gentleman...images of Abraham Lincoln, Cary Grant, Joe DiMaggio, and Robert E. Lee come to mind. None of those guys are still around to give instructions. So, we seem to have lost our sense of what one is.

I read, with interest, today's column by Bryan Burwell of the Post-Dispatch about the recent antics of our own "Prince Albert". I wrote about the surly nature of Albert Pujols...particularly when it comes to dealing with the press...last year. And, I suggested that Albert's claim to everlasting fame and adulation among Cardinals fans was beginning to move into the "jeopardy zone". It appears, based on Burwell's article and several comments by talk-show hosts that I've heard recently, that Albert has moved even farther into that zone this post-season. He apparently has no use for the members of the press, and doesn't mind showing and telling them so.

What Albert, who is always anxious to portray himself as a man of God, should remember is that the members of the press corps are human beings, and creations of his God, too. They just have a different job to do. If it annoys him, he should be able to stomach the annoyance for a few minutes each day. Dont' you think? Especially when that press corps is his conduit to the public...the same public that sits in the seats at the ballpark...and buys those tickets...and supports his team...so that he can make all those millions of dollars to be able to build that fabulous mansion in West County.

I'm sure Stan Musial had a bad day or two along the way. I'm guessing he was short with a reporter once or twice during his playing days. But, have you ever...ever...heard anybody say, or write, anything bad about "the Man"? Stan Musial, by every account I've ever come across, was always a gentleman and also comes to mind when the term is used...like the guys on the list in paragraph one. That is one of the main reasons Stan is still held in such everlasting esteem by fans of the Cardinals. And the reason his statue is bigger than any other at the entrance to Busch Stadium. He, and his behavior, are worthy of high praise and never-ending reverance.

Is it so hard, man of God or not, to treat other people as equals? Isn't that the foundation mentality of the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you do that, how can you help but be a gentleman? Why has this behavior become so out-of-favor? Is it that boring? That unmanly? That un-fun? Or is it that it doesn't bring with it the "buzz" or "rush" of talking down your nose to others?

This discussion needn't be limited to Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, or any of today's spoiled and overpaid pro athletes. Ungentlemanly behavior seems to be all too fashionable, and visible, in other circles as well. To those who display it, it seems a way for them to say "I'm more important than you"...the exact opposite mind-set of the afforementioned Golden Rule. We see it regularly from politicians, movie stars, pop music artists, business leaders, and yes, some members of the press.

Good for Bryan Burwell to call out Mr. Pujols. It's time that we all started reigning in our "superstars" when they get out of control. They need to be held to a higher standard of off-field behavior. Because they are the examples of acceptable behavior for our young people...like it, or not.

There is no doubt that Albert will, barring anything unforseen, become thought of as one of the greatest players of all time. I'm hoping that something unforseen happens soon to make him understand that he should, and could, also go down in history...like someone before him...as one of the great gentlemen in baseball history. All it takes is a change in his own attitude...and maybe ours toward him. Wouldn't it make our society more pleasant if baseball, and all sports, put more emphasis on the P in MVP....and gave the greatest awards and accolades to the most valuable person, instead of player?

gen‧tle‧man–noun, plural -men.
1. a man of good family, breeding, or social position.
2. (used as a polite term) a man: Do you know that gentleman over there?
3. gentlemen, (used as a form of address): Gentlemen, please come this way.
4. a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man: He behaved like a true gentleman.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend Woundup

-Went to see Frank Caliendo (pic) at Argosy Alton on Saturday night. The guy is freakin’ amazing with his impressions. Not only does he have the voice down on characters like Presidents Bush and Clinton, John Madden, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and several others that I'm not remembering…but he also has the mannerisms down. The Bush smirk and gestures, the Clinton thumb-push, the John Madden “BOOM” and hunched-up neck. If you ever get a chance to see him live, do it. The only disappointment for me was that there was no Harry Caray in his act Saturday…another impersonation that he’s famous for. By the way, thanks to my friends at Kochan Advertising and Argosy for the hospitality.

-Well, the Cardinals did it again. They have done it all season. They give you the idea they’re a solid and winning team, only to fall on their faces and disappoint you. Game four of the NLCS Sunday night was a disaster from many standpoints. The starting pitching from Anthony Reyes was timid and barely acceptable. The relief pitching from Brad Thompson, who looked like he was about to pee in his pants on the mound, was ridiculous. Then Josh Hancock came on and took things from bad to pathetic. But, let’s be real. The Cardinals can’t expect to win anything as long as Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols aren’t carrying their share of the load. And have they? If the Birds make it to the World Series without a serious contribution from those two, it will be miraculous.

-For a while I thought the Rams would win a game by having it handed to them by the opposition again. But, not so. I do like the way they are playing…generally speaking. I think Scott Linehan has a better handle on the way to be successful, in the long run, than Mike Martz did.

-The Blues have a winning streak going. Two-in-a-row after last night’s hard-fought, come-from-behind win against the Blackhawks at Scottrade. Strong performers for the Note were Lee Stempniak, Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Radek Dvoark (who has been invisible ‘til now), and goalie Manny Legace. The Blues, who have struggled scoring goals, popped in three power-play goals…a good sight to see. Phoenix next at Scottrade on Tuesday.

-Steve Lyons was fired by Fox Sports after a little “racially insensitive” remark during some kidding around with Lou Piniella in the booth during Friday’s Detroit-Oakland game. Something about being afraid that Piniella (who has some Hispanic blood in his veins) would steal his wallet…was enough to get Lyons canned. Supposedly he’s going to try to talk to the head of the network to get his job back. But, in this day and age he’ll be barking up a pretty tall tree. Too bad, I think he usually does a pretty decent job. Although, he does tend to go overboard with the attempts at humor.

-Are you sick of the political ads yet? Only another three plus weeks to go. Seems like there’s got to be a better use for all of that money.

-How about that football brawl Saturday between Miami U. and Florida International? Disgraceful on both sides. You can put sports uniforms some people…but that doesn’t make them any more of a human being. Heads should roll, and scholarships should be lost.

-The Detroit Tigers are American League champs already…while the Cardinals and Mets flail away at one another in the National League. There’s nothing that indicates the winner of the NL will have any more success in the World Series than they have had in recent years. And that, of course, is none.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mid-October Mish-Mash

-Holy Cow…37 degrees on our thermometer. Can it possibly be Mid-October already?

-So, the New York press has written off the Cardinals already..because their Amazin’ Mets are still in the playoffs. I think the Redbirds are definitely the underdogs…but not by the margin the East coast boys would have us believe. They’re not the same team they were with Pedro Martinez, El Duque, a healthy Cliff Floyd…etc. So, don’t count the Birds out yet.

-Also, if Jason Marquis didn’t understand where he stood with Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan before…he does now. He’ll be pitching somewhere next year. But it won’t be in St. Louis.

-I’d like to think that Scott Rolen’s cortisone shot will put him back into the same frame of mind..and degree of health... he had early in the season. If so, he can be a real difference-maker in the NLCS.

-Poor Blues…They have their home opener scheduled for Thursday night. Not only do they have the Cardinals still in the playoffs to distract St. Louis sports fans, but they get a rain-out of game one on Wednesday…rescheduled for Thursday…and many who might have come to the Scottrade Center on a whim…will stay home to watch El Birdos on TV.

-More Blues…So they go on their season-opening road trip and come back with one point out of three games. Two of the teams they played are Stanley Cup contenders (San Jose & Anaheim), so it’s not a disgrace to lose. But, they also have Barret Jackman come up with a knee sprain that will keep him out four weeks. They already had Christian Backman and Jay McKee out with injuries. So, their top d-men are not available for the early part of the season when the team hoped to build a little momentum with the fans. Oh well, nobody told Dave Checketts that going from the outhouse to the penthouse would be easy.

-The Cory Lidle plane crash in New York Wednesday was scary…especially early on when all we knew was that a plane had crashed into another Gotham building. When details started to come out, I began getting the feeling that this was not just an accident. I remember some quotes from ex-Phillies teammates when Lidle was traded earlier this year that said…”All he wants to do is fly his plane and gamble”. Some are already speculating…because there was no may-day call from the plane…that it may have been a suicide flight. If so, that’s a pretty sick way to go out..flying a plane into a building and potentially killing many others.

-I wrote last week...after my couple of games doing practice play-by-play from the Cardinals press box...that there's really no excuse for a major-league broadcaster to have a bad game. Everything is done for them. All they have to do is be prepared and get their facts straight. So, one can not excuse the botch-job Fox's Thom Brennaman did on the Cardinals-Padres series finale on Sunday night when Tyler Johnson, a lefty, came into the game and Brennaman went on, and on, and on, and on, about how Josh Kinney, a righty, was in the game and told us everything about him except his 6th-grade report card. He was even starting in on how Kinney was a former River City Rascal. I was embarassed for Brennaman. But, you can't excuse a poor performance like that. And where was the suddenly, very-old-sounding Tim McCarver? He could have rescued Brennaman early in the mistake...but never stepped up. Very poor effort by both.

-Why do you suppose Katie Couric’s ratings have gone in the tank? Here’s what I wrote shortly after her debut in early September…

I watched the debut of Katie Couric on the CBS news tonight. While I don't have any problem with a woman as the lead anchor on one of the major networks, I tend to think there are enough people who do, that her ratings might struggle. The other problem she may have is her many years of "fluff-show" hosting on the Today show. While she did discuss serious news at times there, she also was involved with a lot of very soft stuff...gossip, recipes, movie talk..etc. And, of course, she always dressed up in some weird get-up for all of the holidays. Maybe I'm old fashioned...but I think she may pay for that goofiness of her past in the long run.

I also think that Katie and CBS will be paying for the Dan Rather “Here's our chance to get George Bush so I won’t double-check the facts scandal” for quite a while.

-Gee it's too bad we're not going to get one of Barbra Streisand's concerts on the current tour here in St. Louis. It would be great to hear the audience reaction when she tries to belittle the President on stage here. She tried it in ultra-liberal New York City and finally had to tell somebody in the crowd to "Shut the f... up if you can't take a joke". There's a class act for ya. Too bad that all the adulation the public heaps on our top performers almost always goes to their head... and gives them the idea that they know better than everyone else how the world should work. Please come to my concert at $1000 per ticket...and, oh by the way, I might sing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Playing Catch (Up)

-It happened sooner than expected ...(from Monday, 9/25)-
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. ---- 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.

-Thank you Lord...(from Monday, 10/2)-
Lord...please spare us the agony of a Subway Series. No matter what we do...no matter where we go...no matter what channel we turn to...we would have to suffer the unending, merciless, bombardment of New York self-aggrandisement. How could we possibly live through that? Thank you Lord, in advance, for anything you can do to prevent such a miserable event for the rest of the sports world. Amen.

-We're happy to have the company of oldest son Ian for the next few weeks. He's been working toward his certification as a personal trainer while employed by the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt-Beaver Creek resort near Vail, CO. They're doing a 20 million...you heard it right...20 million dollar renovation on the place. So, they've closed down to accomodate the project for a month. Ian took the opportunity to fly home early last week. He attended the SIU homecoming game in Carbondale over the weekend...(another victory for the undefeated Salukis). I'm sure there were no adult beverages consumed at that gathering of old college friends. Yeah, right.

-Spent the weekend in Chicago again. And, again it was to see number-two son Stewart, now in his fourth year, perform in a play presented by The Theatre School at DePaul University. This time it was British playwright Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine. Written in 1979, the piece explores colonial and gender opression, the sexual revolution, including the women's-lib movement of the 70's, and other somewhat uncomfortable (for many) topics. I have to admit, it's a little difficult for a father to see his son decked out in the full regalia necessary to play a Victorian-era woman...one of two characters he portrayed in the show. But these are things that collegiate actors do to explore their talent, test their range, and become comfortable with themselves on stage. So, as a parent, you learn to relax and enjoy. And enjoy we did. It was an amazing job by the entire cast and production staff. These college plays, especially at DePaul and conservatory programs like it, usually present acting and production values, in my opinion, far above what you expect to see on the average TV show. If you enjoy a good stage production, you should force yourself to attend a play put on by a university that is in the business of producing professional artists... such as The Theatre School at DePaul. You just might be amazed, as Barb and I have been.

-While on the topic of Chicago... It features many wonderful restaurants, hotels, and places of top-notch entertainment. But, occasionally you run into a clunker. So it was this weekend with a place we booked on-line. The Gold Coast Hotel...located at Clark and Wells...is one to avoid, at least for now. With the investment of say...ten or fifteen million dollars...this place could be really nice. It's in a fine location right next to Lincoln Park...the zoo...etc. And, it's only a few blocks from Old Town...with Second City...and a collection of fine restaurants....one of which (O'Brien's) we enjoyed for our Saturday night meal. But, the Gold Coast has seen better days...and seems to be managed by a group of amateurs. Once a Days Inn, it has lost it's affiliation with that respected company...and it's easy to see why. Barb thought it was a bit chilly in our room when we checked in...and asked the front desk how to turn up the heat. They told her.."We don't turn on the heat until November first." What??? A major hotel in Chicago...where it gets cold starting in September...doesn't turn on the heat until November?? You've got to be kidding. "No maam. We can give you extra blankets".... Shouldn't they turn on the heat if it's necessary...and not on some pre-determined date? Oh brother. There were several other smaller, but still annoying, insufficiencies. And, the place needs a major makeover. Let's just say it's currently a place that's on my not recommended list.

-It looks like things are coming together well at the Scottrade Center for the Blues home opener on Thursday. We have a rehearsal scheduled for Wednesday. And, there's a twenty-minute, pre-game ceremony set to welcome the Checketts era before the Thursday game with Boston.

Monday, October 02, 2006


-Frightening...that there are so many twisted minds among us. Today...the milkman pulls a copy-cat school invasion, killing and suicide mission like the one in Colorado last week. I guess being mostly normal is much more of a blessing than we realize. As someone once said...there are more walking around among us than are locked up.

-Either there is something that nobody knows about...or the announcer at KTRS misspoke when he introduced Danny Cox...who was speaking at the Cardinals pep rally...as former Grizzlies manager Danny Cox. As far as anybody connected with the Grizzlies knows...and I checked...he's not a former manager...or former anything.

-Sad to see good-guy Congressman John Shimkus of Collinsville wrapped up in this Mark Foley/House page scandal. Shimkus and Dennis Hastert-House Speaker and fellow Republican-denied full knowledge of the extent of Foley's suggestive IM's to young, boy pages. Shimkus oversees the program and will certainly take a lot of political hits. He's already being asked to step down from the program by fellow Illinoisan...and Democratic party hit-man...Senator Dick Durbin. Hard to believe that Shimkus would be complicit in any cover-up.

-Well, Cardinals fans...you'll have to get used to the idea that you won't have Dusty Baker to loathe as manager of the Cubs any more. And we so looked forward to a long and lusty feud between he and Tony LaRussa. Oh well, whoever manages the Cubs will instantly become Snidely Whiplash to us anyway. Looks like Joe Girardi will be fired in Florida and probably be snatched up in Chicago. He'll be hard to dislike...but we'll find a way.

-Lord...please spare us the agony of a Subway Series. No matter what we do...no matter where we go...no matter what channel we turn to...we would have to suffer the unending, merciless, bombardment of New York self-aggrandisement. How could we possibly live through that? Thank you Lord, in advance, for anything you can do to prevent such a miserable event for the rest of the sports world. Amen. `

-The NFL on Sundays is a violent place. But, even the people involved in the game are thoroughly disgusted with Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. In case you missed it, this thug disguised as a football player stomped on the head of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode causing his helmet to come off. Then he stomped Gurode's head opening gashes on the forehead that required 30 stitches to close. The NFL has suspended Haynesworth, who has had temper issues before, for 5 games without pay...the longest for on-field behavior in league history. Everyone, even Haynesworth himself, has indicated total disgust for his behavior. Here's a guy who needs a few weeks of alone-time with Dr. Phil...and a bull whip.

-I wrote a while back about how excited we are for niece Lauren Heffernan who landed a job as one of the team that takes care of, and transports, the West Coast Clydesdales for Anheuser-Busch. The team was in Kansas City this weekend for the NASCAR race and sister Bonnie, brother-in-law Mark, and niece Lindsay all went over to visit Lauren and the large horsies. I've got a bunch of pictures that indicate they had a great weekend...but here's one that stands out.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Another Weekend in the Books

-Blogging has once again taken a back seat to busy, busy times. Let's try to catch up on a few things.

-Spent Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Outstanding Grizzlies broadcaster Joe Pott (right) and I were the guests in the press box of my friend Dan MacLaughlin and the Cardinals. Joe and I were treated to a radio booth of our own in which we recorded some play-by-play for our amusement and whatever other use we can make of it. Joe will undoubtedly be able to use it in his effort to move up the baseball broadcasting ladder. He's well suited and overdue for that next step. Someone will recognize Joe's professionalism, knowledge of the game, and first-class approach to his work very soon. He's great on Grizzlies games...but definitely deserves the chance to be great on Major League games.

Jack Buck once told me that if someone can do play-by-play well at the lower levels of the business, they can do it even better at the top. And the more I thought about it, the more I believed it. At the lower levels, the broadcaster usually does all his own homework, engineering, set-up, and about everything else necessary to do a good broadcast. Many times all of that distracts the broadcaster, and detracts from the on-air product. At the big-league level, usually all you have to do is a little prep work...and then sit down and put on your headset. Other people do everything else.

I'll say this, having done the two games this weekend at Busch, I see no reason why someone with the proper background and talent should ever have an excuse for a poor broadcast.

-The Cardinals, despite a Sunday loss, go on to the post-season again. The sentiment of most is that they will get knocked out of the playoffs early and aren't a very good team. But, many were saying the same thing about this time last year about the White Sox who also limped into the post-season. The Cardinals have their weaknesses, no doubt. But, this time of year anything can, and usually does, happen.

-The Rams are managing to play just well enough to win. 3-1 after four weeks looks pretty darn good for Linehan and the boys. You'd have to say there's a pretty good chance at being 4-1 before they play the Seahawks. They have a date with the not-so-hot Packers, who should be 1-3 after losing to the Eagles in the Monday night game, in Green Bay next week. It looks like Bulger and his receivers are finally getting it together. A little practice against the Lions secondary was just what the doctor ordered.

-I guess when you hear a story about a guy barging into a Colorado school, taking a group of girls hostage, sexually assaulting some of them, then killing one, and himself, all you can do is be thankful that your kid's school wasn't the target of some derranged maniac like that. Security generally isn't tight enough anywhere for someone hell-bent on a suicide mission like that.

-I see that an 18-year-old high-school student from the Czech Republic, Tatana Kucharova, is the new Miss World. The organizers call it, simply, a beauty pageant. And, I guess, it's OK that a high-school kid is deemed the most beautiful woman in the world. But, it seems a little strange to me that this young person, who will be the object of much lusting by the men of the world, isn't yet old enough to drink in the U.S., and many other countries. I might suggest that they have a minimum age of 20. But, I guess beauty is beauty at any age.

-The Blues played their last pre-season game Thursday night at Scottrade Center. They'll open up at San Jose on Thursday. Then the home opener will be Thursday the 12th. The people who run the building are holding their collective breath that the new overhead scoreboard and ribbon boards will be installed for the big night. Some $70,000 worth of lazer shows, fireworks and the like will be featured at the opener. But, the scoreboard hadn't even been shipped yet as of Thursday. Could be embarassing if it's not ready.