Monday, October 29, 2007


-Geez...How bad are the Rams? I know they've had to deal with more injuries than anyone could imagine this year, but come on. Let's see...they're 0-8 in what most people believe to be the worst division of the worst conference in the NFL. I guess that puts them one small step above Ohio State. Maybe.

In talking with friends, and hearing the comments of many on sports talk radio, it appears the honeymoon with Rams football in our town is definitely over. Could it have been that long since the Rams played New England in the Super Bowl? I guess so, because now people are tired of the absentee owner, the absentee president, the place where the team plays, the seeming lack of involvement in the community of most of the players....all adding up to a huge mountain that the organization must climb to re-connect with the local fan base. Put the lousy football aside, these other things have to be addressed first...the return to decent football will eventually come. It might take a while. But it almost always does in the NFL where the bad teams are rewarded with top draft picks.

In a perfect world, Georgia Frontiere would realize that she has major problems in her company that she is not willing to address. She would ask Stan Kroenke if he is ready to assume majority ownership of the team and, of course, he would say yes. Kroenke would ask for John Shaw's resignation and bring in someone who would not only be more football savvy...but who also would be willing to have his office in St. Louis. The new team president would then hire a general manager who has a proven track record with another organization...(preferably the Patriots who can't seem to do anything wrong)...who would then hire a head coach that can coach.

See that was easy. Oh yeah, that was a perfect world. In our imperfect world we will have to wait for Georgia to pass away...or be physically incapacitated in some way to where she loses control of the team... and then maybe some of those other things might happen.

How patient are St. Louis fans? It appears that the Edward Jones Dome (and that place is a rant for another time) is not going to be full for anything other than strong out-of-town fan bases...i.e. Green Bay, Da Bears, Colts, Chiefs, Cowboys etc... and maybe an NCAA basketball game or two...anytime soon. We will not see the Rams on TV. We will lose interest. We will not buy tickets. We will blame our horrible Sundays on the pathetic ownership. Uh-oh...Haven't we been down this road before? Will Georgia soon become akin to Bill Bidwill in our town? I hate to predict that...but things seem to be shaping up that way.

If the Rams need a template for running their team...they might look at what the Dave Checketts ownership has done with the Blues in their short time in town. Good people top to bottom catering to every fan in every possible way. They just get it. But the Rams would first have to have ownership that cares. Georgia continues to shop in Scottsdale. And as long as her credit card isn't rejected, she seemingly won't care if the football team goes 0-5,000. Shaw is taking care of things from his L.A. digs...right? Where have you gone Kurt Warner...Marshall Faulk...London Fletcher...Tony Horne...Charley Armey...and Dick Vermiel?

Monday, October 22, 2007


-I'm honored to have been asked to be chairman of the fundraising effort for Phase 2 of the renovation and expansion project at Lindenwood University's-Belleville campus...(The former Belleville West H.S.) If you haven't seen it lately, there are already many great improvements that have been accomplished. It will be an honor to serve this project. I have some great members on the fundraising committee.
-Kathleen DuMontier
-Roger Wigginton
-Rosella Wamser
-Kathy Wilson
I'll be starting a new blog soon to keep everyone informed about the investment/contribution opportunities...and the progress of the project.

-The Blues are the best entertainment value in town right now. When's the last time I could say that? Don't 'member.

-Son Stewart is getting many great "feelers" from prospective agents and managers after the very well-received opening of his play in SoCal. More to come on that...but if you'd like to visit his here.

-Think the Rams will sell out any more games this year? That aren't already sold out that is. Looks like the pressure is starting to get to coach Linehan. Saw that he walked out of his press conference at Rams Park yesterday.

-Tony's back. Who will be his boss? Somebody that better be able to work with him. (That guy is already picked I'll bet...they just can't announce it yet.)

-We had dinner at Paradise Cove in Malibu on my recent West Coast trip. I hope it survives the wildfires. A half-million people ordered to evacuate their homes. Scary! (No threat to where Stewart lives in Studio City...thankfully)

-Too bad the Illini couldn't win one of these last two outings...but they've already accomplished more than most thought they would this year. Mizzou, on the other hand, could have it's best year in decades. Who thought that season-opener at the EJ Dome was that big a game?

-Kid Rock arrested in brawl at IHOP. Livin' the low-life high-life.

-President Bush asks for 46 billion more to fight war. When do we reach the bottom of that piggy bank?

-I'm picking the Rockies to upset the BoSox. Playing at atltitude, in snow, or both, can only favor one of these teams.

-I think we've had some pretty good times as St. Louis sports fans. But, how would you like to be a Boston fan these days? BoSox--World Series. Patriots--well, they're the Patriots. Celtics on the upswing. Boston College football--#2 in the nation. Bruins are so-so..but not bad. Sports heaven...right now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Review-(from an incredibly biased source)

-Back in regular business...and to blogging.

Barb and I spent the last several days in sunny (well most of the time) southern California...enjoying the sights...doing a little ad agency business...battling the traffic...and experiencing the first, post-collegiate, professional acting performances of son Stewart. (Professional name Stewart W. Calhoun) Our youngest son played Nick (the central character) in the West Coast premiere of playwright Carlos Murillo's dark play or stories for boys. (Intentionally lower-case due to the internet chat subject matter)

I've written about the play before because Stewart has had previous opportunities to engage himself as Nick in productions staged in Chicago. His first go-round was in a classroom production when the piece was still "coming up to speed", and Mr. Murillo was still formulating portions of the dialogue. Later, as part of the Chicago Latino Theatre Festival, d.p.o.s.f.b. was performed in a reading at the famed Goodman Theatre. For that, the Theatre School at DePaul cast, of which Stewart was a member, was re-assembled. So, when the rather new, but already prestigious, Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena picked up the play for a run this season, Carlos was thrilled, and Stewart was incredibly excited to help debut the piece in the West. The young fellow's parents, of course, were bubbling over with excitement to be on hand for the unveiling this past Saturday evening.

As I write, the published reviews of the show are mostly in. All but one, have been overwhelmingly appreciative of the Boston Court production and critically positive of the actors and the play. That one, in Variety, has gotten the dander up of this old guy as the reviewer seems to go way out of bounds to be negative. Links to all of the reviews I've been able to find are at the bottom of this post.

First, you have to understand that this show is about the consequences, and inherent problems, that arise when a kid invents other personalities while interacting with others on the internet. That, in itself, is enormously difficult to translate into a stage production. But, Murillo does so brilliantly, and Michael Michetti, the Boston Court director, engages some incredibly talented behind-the-scenes artists to bring a "stage life" to the mostly isolated and stationary practice of internet chatting. (Mr. Michetti, by the way, is also one of the nicest and most interesting people that I have encountered in a long time.)

At first, Stewart's character Nick is entertained and amused by his ability to manipulate others on line. But, as the story devolops he choses to interact directly with an internet pawn which brings suspense and danger to Carlos' tale. And, what's even more, this is all based on a REAL LIFE STORY that required law enforcement involvement in England. The Variety reviewer must have either not known, or missed this fact, because he seems to have problems with the plausibility of some of the occurences on stage. In actuality, the real-life news story is much more bizarre and fantastic than this fictional presentation. I'm sure the outlandish details of the true adventure can be secured through a Google search.

As for the other reviews, you can read them for yourself by clicking below, but they are incredibly gratifying and seem to reflect the opinions of most everyone we spoke to. (I know, I'm a parent of the lead actor...but still.)

We think, of course, that Stewart's performance was sensational. Adam Haas Hunter, who plays the character of Adam, a gullible teen that Nick enjoys "screwing with" in the play, was extraordinary. Danielle K. Jones, who plays two female characters, was splendid as both. Bethany Pagliolo and Jonathan McClain, who portray numerous characters, bring amazing versatility and believability to each. This appeared to me to be a cast full of young people from whom we will be hearing much more down the road.

When Barb and I first saw this show in Chicago, we came out of the performance saying to one another that this story is ripe for the movies. Well, while enjoying the pleasure of Carlos Murillo's company at dinner Sunday, he shared with us that the ball is rolling toward that end. A screenplay is next for dark play, and it's obvious that Carlos is quickly becoming a hot commodity in Hollywood circles. We, of course, hope that as this story develops into a film, that a certain young fellow from Millstadt, Illinois will get the chance to maintain his connection to the piece.

All in all, having a son who's trying to establish himself in show business made for a fantastic and memorable extended weekend for his grateful parents. It seems like yesterday that this kid was playing with his smoke machine and making up stories for family entertainment in our makeshift basement theater. Keep breaking those legs Stew! review
LA Weekly review (scroll down) review
Variety review
LA Times reader reviews

Friday, October 12, 2007

Could Blues be #1?

-I'm not talking about winning a Stanley Cup....or even the Central Division. I'm talking about the Blues being tops in the minds of St. Louis sports fans. I'm not sure that has ever happened.

Even in the best years the Boys of Winter have had since coming into the NHL in the mid-60's, our city, and its media, has always relegated hockey to second-class status in the sports pecking order. Newspaper editors and sports talk-show hosts go out of their way to talk about baseball or football no matter how well the Blues are playing, or what place they were in the standings. "How's that fourth-round draft pick, left-handed pitcher doing in winter ball?"...or "Can't we find somebody to cover punts?" is always more important than "Al MacInnis scored a hat trick and the Blues took a 3-2 lead in games in the Western Conference finals."

This year, it seems we may finally be seeing the Blues get a shot at sports page banner headlines, top-dog on sports talk stations, and more importantly, the topic at the water cooler. After all, that's where it counts as far as ticket sales are concerned.

The Blues gave the market every reason to get wound up with the opening night pageantry and solid play on Wednesday night at Scottrade Center. I'm an old dog at the p-a job and have seen a lot of exciting nights in my time, but the 4-1 win over Nashville and the bang-up pre-game ceremonies were about as good as I've seen on opening night. Everyone involved should be proud and stoked for more. And, the boys dominated a very strong Predators squad without 3 of their top defensemen suiting up. Wow!

As I peel myself down off the ceiling, let's all observe closely how the local media treats the Blues resurgence this season...especially if they continue their winning ways for a while. Will we see TV sportscasts leading with the Blues score? Or was that an opening-night phenomenon? Will the suddenly-pathetic Rams roster moves outshine a Blues victory in the Post? Will the boys at KTRS ignore the Blues on their talk shows because they don't own the broadcast rights anymore? Will KMOX...the new Blues rightsholder...give more than a "tonight's game promo" in their daytime sportscasts? Will the all-sports stations resort to the Cardinals soap opera in the front office for talk fodder? Will the casual St. Louis sports fan get some background info presented to them on some of the kids who play for the Blues...anywhere other than Andy Strickland's blog? Never has happened before..will it now?

Just some things to keep an eye on as the Checketts regime continues to show the other major league sports teams in town how to operate.
I've added a link here to Norm Sanders' Blues blog. Norm is the outstanding Blues beat writer for the Belleville News-Democrat...just in case you didn't know. Norm will have many good insights on Blues hockey this season. So I urge you hockey nuts to visit there often.
I'll be away from an available keyboard until Thursday 10/18. Look for an update then.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chiming In

-Everyone in St. Louis will have an opinion on the Walt Jocketty/Cardinals divorce over the next few I might as well throw one out too.

You didn't have to have you head buried too far to expect that something like this was coming down the pike. In fact, I wrote on this blog back on May 12th that it was apparent that Bill DeWitt was preparing for "life after Walt Jocketty/Tony LaRussa". The Cardinals obviously were divided into factions in the front office and there was an apparent difference of philosophy between how a non-major market team is supposed to be constructed. DeWitt and Jocketty were not-so-secretly heading down different management roads regarding high-dollar players and their contracts.

With the firing...and that's what it is...of Jocketty, I would be totally shocked if Mr. LaRussa wears the "birds-on-the-bat" on his chest ever again. LaRussa and Jocketty were on the same page philosophically, and just about every other way. I think they were as much of a package deal as you're going to find in pro sports management. I also believe, without really knowing, that Jocketty knew that he would be canned at season's end and told TLR so. That's as good a reason as any for LaRussa's "I'm not sure if I'll return" rhetoric over the last several weeks. It was probably his way of making a "power play" to get DeWitt and company to re-up with Walt.

So, what happens now? I'm surprized that they are saying Jeff Luhnow isn't a candidate for the open job. He was the guy who apparently was the cause of much consternation by Jocketty and posed the greatest obvious threat to his front-office supremacy. I don't know him, but I've been impressed with John Mozielak, the now interim GM, when I've heard him speak on the radio. If he's a Jocketty disciple though, I wouldn't expect him to get the gig permanently. Some of the comments by Mark Lamping at the press conference would indicate that they're pretty excited about the possibility of bringing in someone from the outside. In baseball circles, heck in in any business, the likely successors usually are on top of the rumor mill and what it generates. I would expect most of the potential new GMs have already had a conversation or two with Messrs. Lamping and DeWitt.

As far as the team is concerned. I would expect we'll be hearing a lot of talk about "building for the future" and "investing in our farm system" etc. The "we have to win with a few stars and a bunch of young studs" mentality will be the mantra of Cardinals Nation. Whether that works remains to be seen...but I'm thinking fiscal responsibility is going to take precedence over creating excitement with free-agent signings and the like...even more so than before today. Keep an eye on the minor leagues Cardinals fans...and don't get jealous of how much money Mark Cuban spends as new owner of the Cubs. Hey, it could happen.