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.