Thursday, December 21, 2006

Glitch at Scottrade?

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Eat the Tickets?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kitchen Sinks

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hummel to Hall

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations Commish! I'm proud to know you.