Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wall Throwing

-Mizzou makes #1. The score of the KU game was a little lower than expected... but the result was correct. To me, the Tigers looked to be a much superior team. Now they are on the cover of Sports Illustrated...uh oh. But, I'd be surprized if they don't beat Oklahoma and play for the national championship.

-The Blues have an over-abundance of defensemen right now. When people like Jay McKee and Matt Walker are not playing regularly, and other quality d-men at Peoria, you certainly have the assets to make a significant trade for scoring help. I still expect that to happen...but later, rather than sooner.

-What a shame...when two beautiful young girls have their lives ended in an auto accident and they were totally innocent. The teenaged Uhl sisters of Collinsville died Friday when their car was crushed by a State Police car speeding to another accident that was cut off in traffic and went out of control. The parents must be devastated.

-Meanwhile, many are saying Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins was getting his life straightened out after being on the wrong side of many situations in the past few years. Taylor died from a gunshot wound suffered during the night Monday at his Miami home. This young guy has been in loads of past trouble...and you suspect some of it came back to haunt him. Police are investigating.

-Oprah campaigning for Obama? Anybody surprized?

-Dick Cheney now has an irregular heartbeat...and four previous heart attacks. One has to wonder if he'll serve out his term.

-Kevin Dubrow...lead singer of Quiet Riot...dies at 52. Of natural causes no doubt.

-The Baseball Winter Meetings will be next week in Nashville. If new Cards GM John Mozeliak doesn't come out of it with some sort of "splashy" trade or free-agent acquisition, I will be upset as a fan...and many others who pay for season tickets each year may begin to question their investment. How long does the honeymoon after a world championship legitimately last? Many fans felt ripped-off last season. '08 could be worse without significant upgrades to the pitching staff. Mulder--questionable. Carpenter--questionable, even after he returns mid-season. Pineiro--Healthy...but not a reliable commodity. Looper--Second year as a starter...shoulder surgery in his recent past. Wainwright--Solid and reliable. But what happens if any of the guys you're counting on goes down? They say there's really nobody available in the minors that's ready to go.

-Funniest new TV show I've seen...The Big Bang Theory. Monday nights on CBS. Four geeks living in an apartment building close to a blonde hotty. Great writing and comedic acting.

-So now that I have a son living in the Los Angeles area, what do I see on the History Channel but a show about the Puente Hills fault that runs right under the city. This is what's known as a blind thrust fault...not your ordinary crack in the earth. The scientists on the program say that when this baby lets loose (they can't predict when but it will) the forces unleashed will turn the ground into a bowlful of jello...or worse. Many of the structures...especially the skyscrapers...could come apart. Thousands of deaths...billions of dollars in damage. Just what a parent needs to have in the back of his mind. Click here for more info.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Multiple Johns

-Many thanks to old broadcasting buddy John Carney for inviting me to be on his KMOX post-game show Two Johns on Ice, with co-host Jon Grayson, after the Blues game with Vancouver. The Note won it 3-1. And it was fun catching up with Carney and helping them eat up a little air time. Carney and Grayson broadcast live from 14th and Clark in Scottrade Center after most weeknight games.

-Like most people in this market I'm a fan of Mizzou, the Illini, Salukis, Billikens, and whichever regional university is on the radar at the moment. I can't ever remember being so wound up about a Mizzou football game as the one tonight with KU. Of course, there hasn't been one that meant nearly this much either. My prediction? I fall in line with most of the analyses I've read. Mizzou wins in a high-scoring affair. I think the Mizzou defense will present problems for KU's offense that they haven't seen yet this year. And I don't think anybody can stop all the Mizzou offensive weapons. Unless something unforseen happens to somebody, like a key injury, I see it Mizzou 48- KU 35. Couple that with LSU's loss to Arkansas and you know where that would put Gary Pinkel's group in the BCS picture...right?

-Lining up at stores to be among the first ones in on Black Friday?? I don't get it.

-The Belleville Optimists Santa Claus Parade went off without a hitch on Friday. For the __th year?? in a row I was the official parade announcer. They give me a microphone and let me have fun on a wagon perched in front of the historic Lincoln Theater at East Main and High Street. It's a great time for me. And there was a terrific turnout despite the chilly temperatures. By the way, both the Belleville East and Belleville West marching bands were outstanding. East, led by director Mark Tesserau, had just come off a first-place showing at the downtown St. Louis parade on Thursday. West, now under the direction of Dr. Tom Birkner, is coming back strong from a few down years. The Belleville public high schools continue to excel in the arts.

-I was surprized to learn the Rams actually sold out their game with Seattle. So, some of us mildly interested fans will be able to watch on TV.

-I'm on the backside...knock on wood...of my first head-cold in a long time. Felt it coming on Monday toward the end of the hockey game. So, I started pumping Emergen-C and using Zicam nasal swabs religiously for a few days. It never got really bad...so I guess the stuff works. Not sure what's in it...but the last few times I've dealt with colds, they haven't been bad at all with that combination of treatments.

-It was sort of odd running into John Bridges at the downtown Belleville parade Friday. Odd, because we only know John through son Stewart's tenure at The Theatre School at DePaul in Chicago. And Stewart was in Southern California working on his career Friday. John, Assistant Dean at TTS, has family in the Metro-East and was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday. While here, he always stops by to say hello at the parade. John is the sort of educator that you can only dream of having for your son when he's away at college. I'm sure many other parents feel this way about him as well, but from the time Stewart arrived in Chicago for his college training, until the day he graduated, we felt comforted knowing that John was taking a personal interest in the future of our son. We are blessed to have him as a family friend, and a mentor of Stewart.

-Everybody was totally wound up about Rick Majerus taking over as basketball coach at SLU. And he may turn out to be the greatest thing for the program in its history. But, as one who spends some time at the Scottrade Center and deals with many of the behind-the-scenes people who also deal with Coach, I'm hearing that he isn't scoring many points with his people skills. Of course, the only such skills that matter in major-college basketball are those that get you wins. But, you may not be getting the complete picture when you see the affable, joking Majerus in TV interviews. Just what I'm hearing.

-I caught some of the Columbia-Plano Class 3A state championship football game on WHCO-Sparta...and 1490 Fox Sports WSFX? I think...while driving to the hockey game Friday. The broadcast reminded me of the "good old days" of doing high school and college sports on WIBV. It's just a damn shame that Belleville's local radio station got sucked up into the monster that ate most of the suburban radio stations after FCC deregulation a couple of decades ago. The wide open market and non-restrictive ownership rules that broadcasters now live by just don't do the general public (especially in suburban settings) any service. OK...don't get me started.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

To My Buddies

-We will, as has been our tradition, have a big and tasty feast at our house today. Most of our family will be in attendance and it will be great. But, being a dad, when I sit down to give thanks today I will be thinking about you, my two sons who are far away.

Ski season has officially begun and Ian, you will be busy working at the Beaver Creek resort in Colorado. And Stewart, you are chasing your acting dream in Southern Califiornia. Oh, we'll talk on the phone sometime today, but it's just not the same as having you here at the table with us.

Wasn't it yesterday...or at the most last week...that you were little boys and totally wrapped up in the day? You would watch as the turkey was prepared and help Mom with some of the kitchen chores. Watching your faces light up to the many family moments of the day, and that terrific spread of food, was wonderful stuff for your pop.

My little buddies aren't little anymore. Fellas, I'll be thinking of you today, missing you, and the days when we were all together. Make those dreams of yours come true quickly, so you can come home and be with us next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lots o' Stuff

-How about this past weekend for St. Louis sports fans? The Blues win Friday at home...and Saturday on the road. They have now won three straight. Somebody told me that the Rams beat the 49ers. The Illini beat N'western to pretty much lock up a New Year's Day bowl game. Mizzou wins to set up the showdown with KU. Not a bad couple of days.

-Good to see David Perron sticking with the Blues. He definitely deserved it and left JD, LP and AM with little choice. I'm a little worried about Lee Stempniak though. He's been nowhere close to the player he was last season. Not sure what to think.

-Whatever happened to---

-Meg Ryan, Ted Turner, Garrick Utley, Lisa Bonet, Gregory Harrison, Debra Winger, and Jan Michael Vincent? Well, of course, there's a website that will tell you. http://www.weht.net/. But they have nothing on Meg...who seems to have fallen off the earth. Boy that lip job she had really took her out of the game.

-Well, I didn't watch the American Music Awards...I detest all awards shows except for the Oscars...but Chris Daughtry and his band were three-time winners at the show. It still ticks me off that he got booted off Idol and that gray-haired chump....hell, I can't even remember his name. Oh yeah, Taylor Hicks, won that year.

-I actually did watch the Rams game. And I thought coach Linehan came out of the gate well...but suddenly went into a "let's not lose this one" gameplan. There seems to be a lack of strategy "cajones" around there.

-Anybody want a football stadium named after them? The stadium at Lindenwood U. in Belleville (formerly Township High Stadium) has a naming rights opportunity. The Althoff Crusaders...coached by the legendary Glenn Schott... still play their high school games there. It would be great if somebody came up with the bucks to name it Glenn Schott Stadium. Anybody interested give me a call. I can help make it happen.

-Son Stewart has completed his run as the lead character in dark play or stories for boys at The Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena. Stew tells me it was a great final performance with a packed house. A perfect start to his pro acting career. He's hired an agent...and is anxious for the next job. So are his parents.
-Son Ian is back working at the Allegria Spa, at the Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado again. One catch....no snow! They seldom get to Thanksgiving without significant snow at that elevation...but they have this year.

-I'll be the parade announcer again this year for the big Santa Claus parade in Belleville. I'll be stationed in front of the Lincoln Theatre at High and East Main for all the fun. The thing kicks off at around 10 o'clock and will head east on Main Street. Thousands attend each year. I'm hoping for above 40 degrees. Doesn't look good. Everybody who visits here fairly regularly...have a great Turkey Day. And come back soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NHL-No (gray) Haired League

-The brighter day in the Blues future that we've been promised was put on display in a big way at Scottrade Center last night. Wow! The three stars of the game that I announced last night...ALL ROOKIES! And it was not a concoction...it was legitimate. David Perron, Steve Wagner, and Erik Johnson...were the best three players on the ice. And against the Detroit Red Wings no less.

Perron is making it impossible for the team to send him back to junior hockey after his 10-game audition. Can you imagine the screaming from Blues Nation now if he's sent out? He is showing moves and touch that nobody...including Paul Kariya...is able to match right now. The kid has provided most of the offense that the team has put out there in the last two or three games. Sending him back to the Quebec Major Junior League is not an option...IMHO.

Steve Wagner has been outstanding since training camp started. He's poised..skates well...and makes great decisions with the puck. His long pass (a la Chris Pronger) to Perron sprung David for the game tying breakaway goal last night. He's definitely a strong candidate for any rookie defneseman awards out there. With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lighting it up in Chicago it will be hard to get any straight-out rookie recognition. And this from a guy who wasn't on anybody's radar (other than the Blues management) before the season.

E.J. is starting to get legs under himself too. With the broken foot behind him, he's getting regular ice time. Also playing the point on the power play. He's looking much more comfortable in all situations and dishing out some hits too. (Although physicality doesn't seem to be a major part of his game). Hard to believe he's still a teenager...and less than two years out of high school.

All-in-all the future seems to be arriving at 14th and Clark much sooner than anyone anticipated. With Doug Weight seeming to struggle mightily with the speed of the new NHL, and other veterans... Martin Rucinsky, Ryan Johnson, Dan Hinote, etc....not getting much accomplished either, one might expect other youthful moves by the team before the season is over. I'd be very surprized if we don't see some deals that send out veterans for picks and/or prospects by the trade deadline. We have Roman Polak at Peoria ready to play defense, and nowhere to put him. We have TJ Oshie (NHL ready by all accounts) coming out of college hockey in March/April. And several others on the horizon in junior hockey or in Europe. It seems to me that the sooner you start plugging these guys in...the closer you are to real success at an earlier date. They will need seasoning anyway. You might as well do it in the NHL and promote the heck out of your youthful assets.

It's becoming obvious the NHL is no place for the thirty-something crowd anymore.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Soup of the Day

-Things are coming along nicely with the fundraising effort for Phase Two of the Lindenwood University-Belleville campus redevelopment project. We are doing quite well with some of the small to medium size donations and naming-rights opportunities that are available. We will have to work a little harder on the large ones. If you would like to keep track of what's happening, mark the blog I've developed for that purpose as a favorite and visit often. Here's a link. Lindenwood Belleville Campus Director Mary Radcliff and I had a meeting with Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert to discuss the fundraising project this morning. I couldn't help but get excited about the many things in the works for Lindenwood and West Belleville. A number of things told to me in confidence are going to be happening in the next 2-3 years to put a whole new and exciting face on the city. Exciting times for the home town.

-I didn't know Lou Sengheiser. I'm not a psychicatrist. I try not to be self-righteous. But this is written shortly after the shocking news about Mr. Sengheiser taking his own life just before hearing the outcome of his fraud trial in federal court. If you don't know, Sengheiser was the man who started Gateway to a Cure, a charity devoted to finding a cure for spinal cord injury. He started it after his own son was paralyzed in a fall at home. He was accused of diverting some 300-thousand of the charity's dollars to personal purposes. No matter what the jury would have said, it's sad when someone's brain tells them that committing suicide is the only answer. All of the great work he did for charity...and his son's paralysis...will now be colored by his final, desperate act. Fraud in the name of charity is disgusting. Self-murder to avoid the consequences is worse.

-Even the return of Steven Jackson is not enough to get me excited about the second half of the Rams season. They would need to win all 8 of their remaining games to have a shot at the playoffs...and even that might not do it. So, for me, the season couldn't be over fast enough.

-Also, I see where the Edward Jones Dome was ranked 27th out of 30 NFL venues in a Sports Illustrated survey for game atmosphere. Back when we were courting the Rams to move from Los Angeles, I thought building the dome as a convention center/football stadium seemed a good idea. As soon as they started playing football there though, I changed my mind. Domed stadiums suck!...plain and simple. Football should be played outdoors...period. We're kinda stuck with it though for a while.

-My early radio career was spent at Belleville's former WIBV radio working as a high-school sports play-by-play announcer, and many other things, back in the 70's. Some of my best memories are of the Bob Shannon-coached East St. Louis Flyers football teams. Shannon...who coached at CBC the last several years... announced his retirement yesterday. Here's a guy who had many offers in those days to move on to college jobs. And who knows where he might have gone from there? But, Shannon always thought his place on earth was as a high school coach. Until he had power struggles with East St. Louis administration types, he probably would have coached there his whole career. More than once he told me that he felt his place was at East St. Louis Senior High School helping mold rough, un-trained athletes into football players. Kellen Winslow heads a long list of players who owe a college education or pro career to Bob Shannon. He also was a father figure to kids who really needed one. Well done coach! Enjoy retirement.

-Speaking of great coaches...I'm happy to see that owner Rich Sauget and GM Tony Funderburg are bringing back manager Phil Warren and his coaches Randy Martz and Darin Kinsolving for another year with the Grizzlies. Why wouldn't they? Warren's team was an offensive juggernaut in '07...Phil's first as a field manager. They had the best record ever for a Grizzlies team. And with a little more pitching they likely would have won the Frontier League title. I'm sure a smart guy like Warren will make the necessary tweaks and be right back at it with another winning squad in '08.

-I mentioned the other day that the Dr. Ron Paul presidential candidacy was starting to get noticed. I see where the GOP "outsider candidate" raised a record 4.5 million in campaign pledges in one day earlier this week. It's now less than a year to the '08 election.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Low Rant District

-Settle down Blues fans. Nobody promised a dominant team this year. This team, as much as we'd like to think otherwise, still has some problems to work out. Just enjoy that they are competitive as we work our way down the Yellow Brick Road. As people like Erik Johnson, T.J. Oshie (pic), Patrick Berglund, David Perron and some others start figuring prominently in the mix, then we'll be able to start getting really excited.

-Congratulations to cousin Gary Calhoun who's entering the world of retirement after 38 years with Illinois Power...now Ameren IP. I noticed Ameren filed for a rate increase the day after "cuz" retired. I guess they figured they'd have to hire a bunch of people to replace him. Gary is a long-time track/cross-country coach and supporter of athetics at Althoff Catholic High School and once upon a time worked with me on high school sports broadcasts on the erstwhile WIBV Radio. Gary is one of the best people on this earth and I'm proud to have him as a cousin. But you can tell him I said he was an athletic supporter.

-Hey...the Rams didn't lose this weekend. Hardy-har.

-We were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for downtown Belleville's new streetscape Sunday. City leaders, including Mayor Mark Eckert, were on hand as was Illinois State Representative Tom Holbrook to wax eloquent. The project turned out beautifully, after many months of blocked streets and detours. Belleville is ready for a new chapter in it's downtown redevelopment and the welcome mat is out for the holidays. By the way, if you have really good eyes you might find me in the photo at right that appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat. Where's Waldo?...click photo to enlarge.

-The world of Big 12 football is totally upside down. When the biggest game of the year figures to be Mizzou-Kansas you have to wonder if we're in dreamland. When Nebraska gives up 10 touchdowns in 10 posessions to the Jayhawks...and Mizzou rings up 55 points at Boulder...you better enjoy it. Because you have to wonder how long it will last.

-Ron Zook's Illini are one Ohio State win away from an amazing season too. Don't forget the Salukis Calhoun...they're strong again in the Valley.

-I saw where a 21-year-old professional bull rider from Missouri was stomped to death over the weekend. Seems he had just completed his ride when Mr. Bull stepped the wrong way. Frankly, I'm surprized this doesn't happen more often. When you've got a two-ton bull stomping all over the place...and pretty pissed off too...I wouldn't want to be within 100 yards, let alone ride the thing and then try to get out of its way. For that matter, I'm surprized there aren't more deaths in all sports. 300 pound men colliding head-on in football. 100 mph fastballs...and struck balls at 150 mph flying at people in baseball. Chunks of frozen rubber sailing at 100 mph in hockey...not to mention guys getting checked into wooden walls by 250 pound players flying around on iceskates. I guess basketball is about the only pro sport besides golf and bowling where you don't have to worry too much about your life insurance being paid up at the start of the game. Of course, basketball players have been known to drop over during the stress of running up and down the floor full-tilt for long stretches of time too.

-Sad about the marathoner who died during the Olympic trials. Ryan Shay was 28, and a veteran of such competition.

-Another movie that glorifies lawbreakers heads the list of movies at the box office. American Gangster with Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington chalked up 46.3 million in ticket sales as people flocked to see the story based on 70's Harlem crime lord Frank Lucas played out on screen. More food for the "the only way to make it big is by breaking the law" monster. The much more family-friendly Bee Movie concocted by, and starring, Jerry Seinfeld was right behind at 39 million.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Latest

-The Blues could easily be 9-2. Andy Murray is not happy with the 7-4 of reality. Everywhere I go people are talking about the team with great excitement. I hope the expectations aren't too high. While making the playoffs is a realistic goal for this season...let's remember that John Davidson and company are very early in a re-building process that A) I'd hate to see destroyed by trading some great prospects....and B) will be a few more years in developing into a fully legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

-Interesting to see that the Cardinals have contacted Curt Schilling's agent about a possible contract for next season. Might be a good fit. But at what price? New GM John Mozeliak has at least come out of the gate running.

-Jim Edmonds put out a challenge to himself on local TV Thursday evening while promoting his new restaurant. Jimmy Baseball said he feels better than he has in years and intends to prove that he's still an elite centerfielder in '08. Let's hope he's right, and he does.

-Clocks moving from savings to standard time. Can't we all agree on one time for the whole year? What am I missing?

-Saw the Sean Penn written and directed Into the Wild at the movie house the other night. Based on the true, post-collegiate adventures of Christopher McCandless in the early 90's, I found it to be a sad yet wonderful film...one that you walk out of the theater knowing has deeply affected you...but also wishing the real-life, unhappy ending could be changed. I hope it will garner Penn some Oscar consideration for how beautifully it was shot and presented. Lead actor Emile Hirsch was also outstanding. And you might look for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for 70-something Hal Holbrook out of this one too.

-Speaking of outstanding performances. Talented niece Lindsay Heffernan did our family proud as Natasha in the Mascoutah High School presentation of Woody Allen's, Don't Drink the Water. (A TV movie with Michael J. Fox in the starring role was made from the play in 1994) Not only was Lindsay perfect as Natasha, but she had to learn the part in just a few weeks after being asked to jump into the role at the last minute. Lindsay is likely headed for Champaign-Urbana and the U. of I. in '08.

-Is anybody excited about any of the candidates for President in '08. Seems like Hillary is talked about most...but not because she's top dog. Mostly because she's a she. What I find interesting at this point is the groundswell that's beginning to form for underdog and GOP outsider candidate Dr. Ron Paul. It seems his message is starting to connect with a lot of folks...and mostly by way of the internet. More, if you're interested, by clicking his photo at right.

-Baffling in many ways. The case of the River Man, as he's being called by police. The body recovered from the Mississippi River in June that's been in the St. Louis morgue since. Noone has inquired about the man and nobody has any clue as to who he is. No fingerprint matches. No ID or papers on the body. Just a watch that he was wearing that they're hoping someone will recognize. Geez...someboy is missing a son, or grandson, or dad, or uncle and either doesn't know it...or doesn't care. Sad.

-So, son Stewart treks to Hollywood a couple of months ago to pursue an acting career. He gets great reviews in his first on-stage role out there...and Whammo...a writers strike. Because Stew is in the early stages of career growth, it's hard to say what impact the strike (set to start on Monday) will have on him. But here are some of the facts--(lifted from Reuters)--on the strike itself-

* Economists estimate a strike of the same duration as the 1988 walkout (22 weeks) would result in at least $1 billion in economic losses.
* The U.S. film and television industry employs more than 200,000 people -- from actors and directors to hairstylists, electricians, truck drivers and clerks.
* The motion picture and TV industry generates $30 billion in annual economic activity for Los Angeles County alone.
* One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the contract talks has been writers' demand for an increase in the "residual" fees they earn on the reuse of their work on DVDs -- from about 4 cents for every DVD to about 8 cents.
* The studios say members of the WGA West earned $56 million in DVD residuals last year.
* The union says the total compensation package sought by writers would cost $220 million over three years, a fraction of the $24.4 billion in revenues generated by U.S. DVD sales and rentals last year alone, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.