Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post-Christmas Greetings

-Our family's Christmas celebrations were warm and wonderful. I hope yours were too. Now, back to real life...and nutritional reality. I'll have about ten pounds to remind me of the season for a while.

-We took in Sweeney Todd during a few free holiday hours and found it enjoyable as well as disturbing....just what you'd expect from a Tim Burton movie. Johnny Depp was absolutely perfect as The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. His singing, altered or not, was much better than you'd expect from an actor who claims to have never sung before. Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and the rest of the cast were outstanding as well. If you have a problem with viewing geysers of bright red blood spouting from the necks of multiple men laid back in barber chairs, then I'd think twice about going. But if you remember it's only a movie you'll be fine. Burton presents the story intertwined with the music so well that much of the time I found myself forgetting that people were singing. For many people who struggle with the notion of musical theatre, that's a strong selling point.

-The Blues and Red Wings hook up two more times before the end of the calendar year. With the Blues being the only team to have beaten the Wings more than once this year, these next few games should be interesting. The Wings are not a "beat you up" kind of squad any more, but they have the depth of talent to make you look foolish if you're not on your game...especially when their minds are on the mission. Should be interesting to see how these couple of games go.

-Strange that a tiger could get loose and kill someone at a major American zoo. The people at the San Francisco zoo have some 'splainin' to do after their big cat killed a guy, mauled two others, and had to be shot by police. Too bad for man and beast.

-2008 is almost here. Leap year and election year. Both designed to confuse the masses.

-The Patriots almost have a free pass to 16-0. Their final regular season opponent, the NY Giants, have no reason to want to play their top players in the game. The New Yorkers have already clinched the playoffs...and have no reason, other than pride, to actully win the game. Resting everybody for the sake of health makes all the sense in the world.

-When I do a commentary on this blog, I also allow those who come here the opportunity to agree or disagree by adding their own comments. Lately, for some reason known only to that person, I have been receiving comments that are not responses to my opinions, but more opportunistic swings at me personally. To whomever it is that is taking some dark pleasure in this, be it known that every comment to this blog is moderated by me. Most, in agreement with me or not, I allow to be viewed as comments at the bottom of the post. But don't be expecting to see any ugly swings at me to be viewable by others, especially if they're made anonymously.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seasonal-Type Greetings

-Once again, I have cause to brag and am proud to announce that son Stewart has been chosen from a large field of contenders to a lead role in a west-coast theatrical production. The two-person musical, Thrill Me-The Leopold and Loeb Story, will have its Los Angeles premiere and be presented by the Havoc Theatre Company at the Hudson Backstage Theatre January 26th through March 2nd. This theatre is somewhat known for being the place where My Big Fat Greek Wedding was viewed by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks and where they decided to turn the play into a movie. Thrill Me is based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the notorious "thrill killers" of 1924 Chicago. A musical adaptation of this very weird and dark real-life story would not seem to work. But the show was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics best musical awards in 2006. Stewart will portray Nathan, and be joined on stage by Alex Schemmer as Richard. To just be a working actor in the Hollywood/Los Angeles market has us tremendously excited for Stew's future. Details available at

-Lately, I've heard a lot of talk about the poor atmosphere at the Edward Jones Dome for Rams games. Back when the team was winning, it wasn't nearly such a problem. But as someone who is part of the game-night experience at Blues games, let me offer a few thoughts. First and foremost, in order for there to be a great presentation, there has to be someone in the Rams organization who devotes full time to making sure that happens. The Blues have such a person, I don't know if the Rams do. That person must understand everything about putting on a great show and be in control of those things during each game. The ingredients?... Light, sound, music, video, scripting, timing, sports energy, the venue, personnel, and the basic format presented by the sport itself. In a dome, you are presented with a climate-controlled environment which should make it easier to make a consistent presentation. The colliseum configuration is different than a theatre, but shouldn't present a much greater logistical challenge. Having a prepared and rehearsed format in what amounts to an extra-large theatre should be rather easy to organize. The prepared script is a generic gameplan that can be altered in order to react effectively to a given moment, exciting or otherwise, in the game itself. The video and music elements should be ready to go at a moment's notice depending on the situation. Uprading the various ingredients of the presentation is really a matter of choosing the right people, understanding the sport, and coaching those people to perform effectively. The cavernous, overgrown warehouse nature of the dome itself is a problem that can only be dealt with by physical changes like video screen, audio system and soundproofing upgrades. I think a major part of the problem is that when p.a.-announcer Jim Holder says rattles around and echoes in the rafters giving the impression that the place is empty even when it's full. Technical upgrades require expenditures on the part of the city. But that will only happen if someone with the Rams understands the problems in the first place. I don't think you can say that the game atmosphere will be fixed with a better on-field product. Of course, that would help. But creating an enjoyable presentation around the matter how achievable, and certainly should be expected by Rams fans considering what they pay for tickets. If being at a Rams game were simply more fun (i.e. the Blues) fewer ticket-holders would be inclined to sell off their tickets to out-of-towners.

-Rams Part 2... I understand that the half-time ceremony to honor Marshall Faulk at Thursday's game was less than impressive. Even Bob Costas' hosting appparently couldn't save it from appearing to be a slapped-together production. If I've learned anything over the past ten years, it's that to do a sports ceremony properly in this town you had better have Jim Woodcock involved. Woody is a Senior VP at Fleishman-Hillard these days and works with the Blues and Cardinals on their ceremonial stuff. He, of course, was Director of Communications and Marketing with the Blues for several years before the lockout. If there's someone else in town that has Woody's understanding of our market, its sports fans, and how to communicate effectively in a live, on-field/ice presentation, I haven't met him. Rams management--next time call Woodcock.

-Dare I say Merry Christmas for fear of someone being offended? Yes, I dare say Merry Christmas...and do say Merry Christmas. There are many reasons why one of another belief should not be offended by such a well-meaning wish. If someone choses to be offended by that, God help them... (also politically incorrect). Merry Cristmas no matter how you may observe it, or not.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Touching Bases

-An all-sports post this time. A couple of interesting and important trades on Friday night. Both took me a little by surprise..but I like them from a St. Louis standpoint. And some other thoughts.

-Jim Edmonds and cash to San Diego for minor-league third-baseman David Freese. Obviously Edmonds was a big part of some of the most fun we've had as Cardinals fans in the last decade. His spectacular play in center, his key hits at key times, his personality...are all now part of Cardinals lore. But Jimmy is not immune to time any more than the rest of us. His best days are well behind him and we were lucky enough to see him when he enjoyed the maximum benefit of his gifts. Getting his contract off the books and getting a promising...and projected by many to be a sure big-league...third sacker in return, is a smart move, especially when you're roster is over-populated with left-handed hitting outfielders. Freese, not that it really matters, is a St. Louis kid too. I'm sure we'll have a game or two in the next few years in which Edmonds will make us regret the deal with a homer, or outstanding catch. But, I say.. let the Colby Rasmus era begin.

-Doug Weight, a minor-leaguer, and a low-round pick to Anaheim for Andy McDonald. If it weren't for the NHL's salary cap, this deal would never have happened. Anaheim GM Brian Burke would have been run out of town by the Ducks fans otherwise. As much as I like what Doug Weight brought to the Blues personality-wise, it was becoming obvious that the new NHL was passing him by. Weight's skills are still considerable, but the speed of the game now is too much for his older legs to handle. McDonald has this year and next on his contract. Weight would not have been re-signed after this season. McDonald won the fastest skater competition at the All-Star game last year. He led the Stanley Cup champs in playoff scoring last year. Thankfully, he was off to a bit of a slow start with Anaheim this year to where he would even be considered as trade material. McDonald pops in a goal and adds an asssit in his first game with a Blue note on his chest. We're going to like this deal for a long time to come. The team of John Davidson and Larry Pleau has not made a wrong move in two years of maneuvering...IMHO.

-An old friend commented on this blog recently and blasted me for blasting the broadcasting job...if you can call it that...of Pat Summerall on the Rams game at Cincinnati a week ago Sunday. Essentially, I was told that because Summerall isn't a St. Louis icon like Jack Buck or Harry Caray, who also had later-in-life broadcasting issues, that I was too hard on Summerall and should let it go. Well, first off, I'm not sure why this touches a nerve with my critic, but if he had watched the same game I did, he'd wonder why Summerall was behind any microphone too. Secondly, I said nothing in my comment about Buck or Caray's elder issues. I was as embarassed for Jack as anyone else when he was declining. And I laughed along with everybody else at Caray's failings in his last few years. The difference, to me, is that Summerall simply can't do the job...he's not communicating the game effectively to the audience. At least Buck and Caray still had a grasp on the game and could tell you, albeit with difficulty, what was going on on the field. And in Harry's case, he also had become a caricature of himself that eveybody loved in spite of his problems. Buck was even apologetic at times for his struggles with Parkinson's and what it did to his broadcasts, causing us to love him even more. I have nothing against Mr. Summerall...more the people who hire him and expect us to believe he still is up to the task.

-I also was amused at the post-game rants of Rams RB Steven Jackson this past Sunday. The guy seems to be more into what's happening off the field than on it these days. A few weeks back he criticized the music played at the Dome. This week he's upset that there were more Packer fans in attendance than Rams fans...or so it seemed. Jackson said it's a joke that there was such a presence of cheeseheads for Sunday's game. Well...duh! Mr. Jackson..if the Rams were led by a future hall-of-fame QB who was about to break an all-time passing record, and if the records of the two teams were reversed, and if the Rams had a legendary past connected to one city and state where their games are a semi-religious experience, and if Sunday's game were played at Lambeau field in Green Bay, the roles likely would have been reversed. Why in the name of Vince Lombardi should Rams season-ticket holders hold on to their tickets at this stage of the season when a rabid fan from Wisconsin is ready to pay face value, and then some, to get them. Come on Steven, if Sunday's game had...oh, let's say, playoff implications...the dome would have been packed just like you would expect...with Rams fans.

-If you're thinking about last minute gift ideas, you might consider stopping by Izzy's Den at GCS Ballpark, just off I-255 at the Mousette Lane exit. The Grizzlies merchandise is always top-notch. Caps, jerseys, windshirts, t-shirts, you name it, all with the attractive Grizzly-bear logo. It's good stuff..and usually discounted this time of year. Just tryin' to help.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


-Many questions and answers remain after the release of the Mitchell Report on substance abuse in baseball. Some of my questions are:
-What will the commissioner's office and player's association do about it...if anything?

-If some named in the report were breaking federal law...will some prosecutor(s) be inclined to pursue charges?

-Will Barry Bonds say anything about it...even though it looks like he was one of many. Saying anything might get him in more trouble than he's already in.

-Will this drive Mark McGwire even further underground? He's already a hermit.

-How will we view the McGwire/Bonds era in 10 years? 20 years? Most of us already have plenty of disdain for the way we were sucked in in '98.
-Who sues Roger Clemens so he is forced to give back some money? Maybe a class-action suit by Red Sox/Yankees/ and Astros fans will do the trick?

- Will the average weight of a major league player go down 20 pounds in the next two years?

-If , as Mitchell said many times in his presentation, HGH is not detectable, what will be done about that?

-Where do the lawyers start lining up? There will probably be lawsuits upon lawsuits based on some of this information. There will likely be suits filed by players who feel there rightful roster spot was taken by somebody who was cheating and breaking the law/rules.

-CNBC is sure to be sued too by none other than Albert Pujols whose name popped up on their website before the report was released as being named in it. Then, suddenly, his name disappeared. Doh!

-Who will be the first to say that all of these guys were doing what they thought would help them compete, that fans were better entertained because of it, and we should all just chill? I can't wait for that one.

There's a lot of sorting out to do.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lovely Weather, rain, cold, wind, sleet, some snow.... This is the stuff that, when it comes around, makes me ask myself why I choose to stay in St. Louis. Of course, there are many excellent reasons why...but I ask myself anyway. And if I hear Cindy Preszler ask me to use caution while driving in bad weater one more I'm too stupid to know that...I might move to get away from her.

-The Rams made another contribution to the growing love affair between St. Louis fans and the Blues this weekend. If someone running the Gateway City's NFL team had to ask people to buy a ticket based on entertainment value alone, nobody would be showing up at the EJDome at all. Just because it's the NFL, the arrogant ownership/management gets away with putting a pathetic excuse for a product out there every week. Oooh.. I sound a little bitter. No, it's just the long-time Blues announcer in me coming out. I'm as big a fan of the Rams as anybody. But it gets frustrating to sit through the stuff we've been fed the last few years.

-Rams part deux... Pat Summerall and Brian Baldinger were the announce-team assigned to the Rams game today for Fox Sports. Baldinger does an OK job. But, Summerall, the former legendary lead-announcer for CBS needs to just enjoy the game as a fan from now on. If you watched the game, you know what I mean. He consistently got player names wrong by either misidentifying the player or mispronouncing the name. Many times he would have no clue about what happened on a play until Baldinger jumped in to help him. There were long stretches of silence, only crowd noise, while plays were unfolding...some of them big plays in the game. I'm not sure exactly why he's still doing games, except that his name brings a certain amount of prestige from the old days. Mr. Summerall, we know you've recovered from problems with substances...and that you once were the best...but none of us can go on forever. And we found out today we'll have to "enjoy" this same team when Mizzou meets Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Whoopee!!

-What the hell?? 6 people shot...two of them separate shootings at churches today. Couple that with the Omaha mall shootings of earlier this week and you begin to wonder if the country isn't full of whackos with guns. Oh it is...sorry, I forgot. Kevlar clothing and mandatory helmets in public are on the way.

-Who knew when the Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl a few years back that we were seeing the start of a dynasty? Tom Brady could get elected President if he wouldn't have to take a pay cut to accept the job.

-We watched the 1984 production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott last night. I think it's my favorite of all time. Scott was a perfect Scrooge, and the production was concise and well-acted by all. It keeps me in the right frame of mind this season...and occasionally I'm able to call on it other times of the year as well. Dickens did pretty well with that one. By the way, Scott died in 1999...what a wonderful thing to be an actor whose work lives on forever.

-When did the Mike Huckabee bandwagon get rolling? Seems like he's the fair-haired boy for the GOP right now.

-And there's something "icky" about hearing Oprah trying to talk "street" to the crowd in South Carolina who came to see her at the Obama rally. Can you get away with that these days? Change your speech pattern to match your audience? She talked white-person english to the crowd in Iowa one day...then black-person english to the mostly African-American crowd in the south the next. Seems just a little disingenous doesn't it? I guess they were accusing Hillary of the same thing a few months back. I'm thinking somebody is going to call Oprah on it at the national level like I just did.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Another Birthday

-57 years ago yesterday...yours truly drew his first breath at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Belleville. My mom tells me the weather was much the same as it was Thursday...grey, cold, snowy. I'm blessed to have so many friends and family that went out of their way to wish me a happy birthday. To all of you, I wish I was half as thoughtful as you...and I'll make every effort in the new year around the corner to be that. I love you all. And I thought you'd enjoy my newborn photo at right.

-When I was small, I thought it was pretty cool to have a birthday that happened to fall on St. Nicholas Day...the traditional German beginning to the Christmas season. Even though only half of my heritage is German...we always had our stockings hung on the mantle and made a huge deal out of the candy, peanuts, and usually some trinkets too, that St. Nick would put in our stockings. You don't hear much at all about St. Nicholas Day any more...but it is the source of some teriffic childhood memories.

-Wow...where do the Cardinals go with the Scott Rolen situation now that Tony LaRussa has publicly trashed the guy? It seems like TLR and Mo must have decided, when they couldn't get anything for Rolen at the Winter meetings, that they would call him out as a whiner and rejector of anyone who represents authority. It seems to me that Rolen now must either attempt to re-establish himself as a commodity under the LaRussa leadership, or sulk, and have a pitty-party for himself, whereby noone else would want him anyway. He's got enough marketability problems without that.

-I saw Doug Weight, among others, at the Blues holiday skating party the other night. What a great guy he is...and what a teriffic teammate he must be. But he has to be concerned about his career with the lack of production he's been skating through this season. I hope he gets squared away soon.

-I hope you will take a moment soon to listen to TEAM1380. The AM, all-local sports talk station has hired this guy to do their voice imaging. An honor for me to be associated with the outstanding management and talent there. I look forward to a long relationship.

-Also thanks to Rich Gould and the folks at CW11 who invited me to come by and play "Blues Announcer Guy" on The Fan Show Sunday evening. It was an awful lot of fun. And I got to chat with the great Ozzie Smith again. I got to know The Wizard when he was a fairly regular "stopper by" when I worked at KTRS a few years back. He looks great...and seems like he's enjoying life.

-Barry Bonds pleads not-guilty.....Yawn. Career down.

-Who would you vote for if the election were held today? I'm thinking about adding a polling feature to the blog so you could actually answer that question. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rolen not Goin'

After publishing the below post Tuesday evening...This story ran Wednesday morning in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to validate some of my thoughts... click here
-Scott Rolen is trying to divorce Tony LaRussa and vice versa. Judge John Mozeliak is trying to make some sense of it all. Cardinals fans are being allowed inside the courtroom to watch the fun but will also have to pay the alimony if the divorce is finalized this week. All right...with that bit of analogy out of the way...let's see if we can figure out what's really going on here. I might as well make a prediction or two.

My belief is that Mo and Company are using the usual frenzied caldron of the winter meetings in Nashville to float the idea that Mr. Rolen is on the block and the potential saviour of every other team in baseball. He can be had...but your team will have to pay him and we want equal value in return... is the Cardinals line. If some other desperate GM takes the bait, Mighty Mo will talk turkey. But I'd be damn surprized if Rolen isn't wearing a Cardinals uniform at Jupiter in the spring. Here's my thinking.

-Nobody really knows whether Rolen's surgical shoulder is going to respond. He many never be able to turn on a high and tight fastball again. Everybody in baseball knows that. If you were a rival GM, would you put your job on the line gambling that Rolen will return to his old form? More importantly, would you give up one of your premiere players to find out?

-If Mo goes through the meetings and outwardly appears to be trying to accomodate both Rolen and LaRussa with a trade, he will have done his political job internally. He will at least look to both of the protagonists like he tried to meet their needs. He will be able to look at both in the eye and say.."We just couldn't get what we needed in return."...if that's what happens.

-If Johnny Mo actually wants to deal away Rolen and his 36 million dollar due bill, he is likely to get more value in return in the spring when the Jasper Kid can be evaluated by scouts and GMs of other teams. They can talk to Scotty's doctors until they are blue in the face. But the proof that he can still swing a bat will come when he actually does so. If he pops a few long ones in the spring, there will be plenty of time to talk then. If noone meets Mo's price ...then we've got our old third-baseman back and TLR can swallow hard to apologize for any misunderstanding.

I just don't see the kind of player, on the free agent market or in a trade, that will allow us to say..."Yeah...that makes sense." Don't forget, Mozeliak is operating in the very long shadow of Walt Jockety who made many a deal that got us all tingly inside. The new GM has to make his first stab at the big time count...and he knows it. That's why I'm expecting him to be extra-cautious and hold on to his "cards" until the desperados come calling.

If he surprizes me in the next few days...I just hope it's not with some "place holder" who will man the hot corner for a year until a better alternative can be found. Too many in Redbird Nation already believe that the orgnization is being overly conservative (not aggressive enough to win and still basking in the forgiving fan afterglow of the '06 World Championship) until some of the Jockety long-term deals are off the books.

That's how I see it from here. Other opinions are welcome.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


-It was a great idea. The Blues decided to have a Mizzou football-watching party during and after the hockey game at Scottrade Center. Not only did the game turn into the worst case scenario for the Tigers, it also was for Blues management. By the time the Blues had beaten the Blackhawks 3-1, Mizzou was down by two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. Roughly a third (my guess) of the hockey fans stayed to watch the football game on the center-ice video board. But as soon as Oklahoma scored again, that number dwindled considerably. By the end of the football game, for which I stayed to make a few announcements, there were only a few hundred people left. So, the concession bonanza that Blues management had hoped for just didn't happen. The good will in the sports-fan public though was generated by the highlights shown during the game...and the willingness to acknowledge that we all have interests other than just hockey. The Blues management continues to impress. But the Sooners just didn't cooperate to make it into a perfect Saturday night.

-Looking forward to joining Rich Gould on Channel 11's popular The Fan Show tonight at AJ's at the Adam's Mark Hotel...the show's new home. Rich has some cool ideas for using the Blues announcer-guy during the show. Should be fun.

-Be listening to 1380-AM Monday as 1380ESPN turns into TEAM1380. New, and all local, personalities throughout the day. And be listening carefully to hear the guy who will be the new "imaging voice" of the station. You might recognize the sound.

-Son Stewart is picking up some extra cash working with a company that does corporate and private holiday decorating in the LA area. Recently he decorated the home of Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.

-Other son Ian reports that the snow in Colorado ski country that the industry has been looking for finally arrived. A big storm at the Beaver Creek ski resort area the last couple of days. The U.S. ski team is involved with a big competition there right now.

-Barb and I are now enjoying the service of Netflix. 300 was the movie-du-jour Saturday. Enjoyable...but we both came away wondering if we had just watched a movie, a cartoon, or a video game. The combination of live action, effected to look like animation...and CGI that looks amazingly life-like...blurred my little brain's ability to distinguish one from the other. I guess the producers accomplished their mission. I'm still trying to decide if I want more of it. I guess we'll have to try Beowulf to get a better idea.

-I guess all those college football analysts who snobbishly said things like..."Mizzou shouldn't be number 1 in the country because they have no tradition of such accomplishments."...have gotten their wish. Many seemed to be very uncomfortable getting their mind around Missouri at the top of the charts.

-Did somebody say the Rams are playing the Falcons this weekend?

-I caught a little of the Republican-You Tube debate on CNN the other night. Some of the front-runners are gearing up the attacks on one another. It'll only get more ugly as time wears on and the top dogs are identified. Congressman Ron Paul's ideas (as I've written here before) have gotten the attention of many. Some of his more unusual proposals have, predictably, been attacked as those of a crazy man. Let's see who in the past was thought to be crazy? Oh maybe...Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, to name a few. Do we really want a president who doesn't have new and different ideas? More of the same doesn't seem to be the answer. Dr. Paul's problem will have more to do with his rather milquetoast persona than his ideas. Meanwhile, the Democrats have the benefit of having a woman and a minority as the front-runners. No chance they will present a "good ol' boy" to the public.

-Things appear to still be on track for Jeff Cooper and St. Louis Soccer United. In reading his blog at the team's here...Cooper is still optimistic that St. Louis will become the 16th team in the MLS when play begins in the 2009 season. I'm excited by the prospect.