Thursday, January 24, 2008


-What is it in the brains of extraordinarily talented people that tends to make them self-destruct at an early age? Heath Ledger would seem to have had the world at his mercy. How sad.

-So there's a deal to send some tax money back to us in order to stimulate the struggling economy. Just think how stimulated it would be if we didn't have to send so much to the various levels of government in the first place. And why do the tax refunds always seem to happen in election years? Hmmmmm.

-The Blues have 9 home games in February, 6 on the road. If next month isn't kinder to them than January, they will likely be trade deadline sellers again. As I've heard John Davidson say many times, you need to get some value for your assets before you get nothing when those assets become free agents.

-What did Rick Majerus expect would happen when someone stuck a camera in his face and asked him his views on abortion and stem-cell research...and they weren't in agreement with those of his religious employers. If I'm coaching at a Jesuit university, that's when I take the opportunity to keep my mouth shut.

-Matt Blunt's stunning announcement that he wasn't running for a second term as Missouri Governor has me waiting for another shoe to drop. It seems likely that his "I accomplished all I wanted to, so I'm getting out" is just the tip of some iceberg.

-They just announced the name of it today, and I'm already looking forward to the next James Bond film..Quantum of Solace. I didn't think I'd like Daniel Craig as 007. But Casino Royale was one of the best Bond films ever...IMHO.

-As someone born well before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I never thought I'd see the day when an African-American (new term since 1964) would be a front-runner for President. For that matter, as a kid I thought only old, white men were allowed in Washington. We've come a long way in that regard. Whether the country is run any better now than then is another matter.

-If you're among the many who highly value prime seats at Gateway Grizzlies games, this is your official "git 'er done". Time to get those season tickets. May isn't that far away, believe it or not.

-Dennis Kucinich drops out of the presidential race. At least he didn't have to drop very far.

-Cards opening day lineup...(my prediction)
Rick Ankiel rf
Aaron Miles 2b
Albert Pujols 1b
Troy Glaus 3b
Chris Duncan lf
Colby Rasmus cf
Yadier Molina c
Adam Wainwright p
Cesar Izturis ss

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quick Hits

-I had my face fixed for Favre vs. Brady. Oh well. So, do we get another Super Bowl blowout?

-The competition is so tight, and talent so comparable in the NHL, that the Blues current swoon has to end for them to make the playoffs. This when the toughest part of their schedule is looming. My mind as a fan is still in re-building mode. So, I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if we had to unload a few players and get some picks and prospects at the trade deadline in Feb.

-I'm wondering what Dr. King would have thought of the people who heckled St. Louis Mayor Slay during his MLK Day speech.

-As blogging becomes more a "legitimate" part of electronic communication, I find I'm being much more careful about the opinions expressed herein, and enjoying it less. While I'm a trained journalist, I prefer this to not be a journalistic endeavor.

-The passing of Georgia Frontiere means there likely will be great change within the Rams organization. Let's hope it's the productive kind.

-Highway 40 shutdown...what highway 40 shutdown?

-Has anyone seen Fred Thompson?

-Somebody wrote this weekend that Chris Carpenter may be back earlier from Tommy John-surgery than expected. Let's just let him decide when.

-Bodies falling from the sky in that California plane collision. You can only hope that they were dead already.

-Is there something terribly odd about seeing Bill Clinton campaigning for Hillary? Or is it just me?

-Gee...what a bargain. Gas for under $2.85 a gallon. And nobody to check your oil.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rolen On

-Now that the dust has settled, some thoughts on the Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus deal.

First, let me get out of the way that I think a deal had to be done. There was no way to avoid the fact that the Rolen-Tony LaRussa rift was going to obscure everything positive the Cardinals may achieve in 2008. LaRussa made it clear with his comments at the Winter meetings that he wasn't about to mollycoddle his third baseman anymore. Rolen had made it clear that he wasn't about to pretend to be happy with TLR either. The press would have had a field day with the feud, especially if there was nothing interesting (in a winning way) about the coming season. Some say the Billy Martin/Reggie Jackson Yankees managed to win despite their feuding. True. But those were the 1970's Yankees, not the rebuilding 2008 Cardinals. Those Yankees could endure a ton of distractions and still out-talent their opponents. These Redbirds have no such roster luxury.

Secondly, considering that everyone else in baseball knew that John Mozeliak was dealing from a weakened position, he got amazing value in return. If you take out the feud factor, I'm not sure the Cardinals shouldn't make this trade anyway. I'm of the opinion (even though I can't analyze his medical records and have never performed shoulder surgery) that Scott Rolen is never going to be anywhere close to the player he was in his early St. Louis days. If the Blue Jays think he can be, more power to them. I also don't claim to be an expert on the foot ailment that forced Troy Glaus into the operating room. But, it seems to be a more baseball-friendly problem than the one that's required multiple operations on Rolen. It may be over-simplification, but Glaus isn't trying to hit homers with his feet. If he hits one he can crawl around the bases. Rolen needs a healthy shoulder to swing a bat....effectively. The addition of Glaus (as long as he's healthy) gives LaRussa a lot more flexibility in building a solid lineup. Everyone knew that Rolen had become no threat to hit it deep and offered no protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols, or anyone else.

Let me go off into Conspiracy Theory Land for a second. What if Scott Rolen goes out on the Toronto field and just tears it up. What if the guy is suddenly totally healthy and smacks 40 homers...fields flawlessly...and is generally the player we all came to know and love in a Cardinals uniform? What if? Could that signal the possibility that Mr. Rolen wasn't giving his all the last few years to get under the skin of his skipper and force the Cardinals into a trade? He had a long-term deal and knew he would make the money no matter what his numbers were. Could he have been more healthy than he appeared to be? Could he have been playing well enough to be on the lineup card...but not well enough to satisfy his boss...or the fans? Would he throw away a possible shot at the Hall of Fame in order to rid himself of another manager? Seems like a stretch. But the thought has to cross your mind.

One other thing to think about if you're a Blue Jays fan. Scott Rolen has now gone through two managers and basically forced his two previous organizations to move him out of town. Jays skipper John Gibbons isn't known for his diplomatic acumen with players. He's had physical run-ins with some. So, how long will the honeymoon last if this guy looks at Scotty a little funny...or suggests that the thin-skinned third-baseman make an adjustment in his swing?...or worse, benches him without asking permission. Ohhhh Canada.

Before I sound like I'm piling on the former Cardinal, let me say that I really enjoyed Rolen's on-field approach to the game. He sprinted around the bases after a homer. Of course, everyone enjoyed the way he sucked up grounders at third. And you especially couldn't help but like him in comparison to some of the "look at me" players in today's game. But, I still like Mr. Mo's deal...and think it was exactly what the doctor (excuse the pun) ordered.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ear to the Ground

-I heard Dave Checketts on the radio yesterday talking about the State of the Blues. What an enormously impressive guy. He is exactly like John Davidson, but from a more administrative standpoint. Each has a unique and amazing ability to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time in exactly the right way to make you believe that the Blues have it all figured out. What's more, it appears they do.

-Are you one who thinks Hillary Clinton's emotional response to a question in New Hampshire was calculated...or spontaneous? The more I watched the video clip, the more I came to believe that it was a direct appeal to voting women...which was exactly the base that she needed to activate at the time to win. There is little about anything in politics these days that's not pre-meditated.

-One year since the Hornbeck/Ownby rescue. One can only imagine the mental challenges these kids have...and will continue to deal with after what they went through.

-I'm a little tired of the Rick Majerus era...and it's hardly gotten started. The Billikens score the fewest points in an NCAA Division 1 game since the shot clock was instituted and Majerus acts as if it's not a concern...and certainly not his fault. Most of his quotes to the press about this year's team...including Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell who are thought of by most as high-quality players...indicate that the coach is just playing the hand he has been dealt. And he doesn't think he's got many cards worth keeping. Majerus' mantra has been....Well, we're not very good and we're doing the best we can. Really? Brad Soderberg at least was competitive with this basic cast of characters. You don't get very far as a group when your leader projects the thought that you're not worth his time. Anybody can coach great players...the great ones can coach not-so-great ones too.

-I haven't got a dog in this fight, but I can't wait to see what Roger Clemens has to say in front of that congressional hearing. The Rocket has at least tried to defend himself..which is more than Barry Bonds has ever tried to do. The lawsuits brewing between Clemens and Brian McNamee should tear a few layers of skin off the steroids monster too.

-Along that line...Marion Jones is going to prison for six months in the wake of her admissions to past steroid use. Her story goes to show that during that time a good percentage athletes thought that illegal substances were tickets to stardom and long as you weren't stupid enough to get caught. In case you've forgotten, Jones was the cute track star that all America fell in love with as she blew away the foreign competition. Not so lovable now...but I don't hear many saying "Shame on you Marion!" Unless some shame is heaped on the cheaters, in addition to the jail time, the temptation will still be out there for the youngsters because noone ever thinks they will get caught.

-Because they will have a 100-million dollar plus payroll, and a fan base that expects competitive management, the Cardinals can't say what's really the case...the 2008 season will be one of transition to a new way of doing business and fans shouldn't expect much.

-The Rams. Wow...what a trainwreck. It appears a lot of dramatic changes are needed from the top down...but aren't imminent.

-I heard someone on the radio the other day encourage Keith Tkachuk to consider immediate retirement. While KT isn't the player he used to be...we all are getting older...he still is a serviceable player in the NHL. The guy still scores at a respectable level, gives you a physical presence, and commands a certain respect on the ice. He's not going to tear up the league anymore. But, at this point, I'd say the investment by the Blues was worth it. Whether they bring him back at the end of the contract should depend on who else is available at a similar cost. With the salary cap, it's all about the numbers.

-More hockey... I heard someone say that Chris Pronger is anxious to return to St. Louis and the Blues at the end of his current deal in Anaheim...which I think has another year after this one. Could Prongs return to the team that was so stupid in trading him to lead the up-and-coming crop of young Blues stars to Stanley Cup dreams? Hold that thought.

-We are in the process of watching the DVD collection of Six Feet Under. The show hit HBO back in '01 and ran for five seasons. It's edgy, funny, sexy, weird, captivating...and most importantly...extremely well written and acted. If you missed it, you might want to find the DVD boxed set at Best Buy. Word of caution--If you're easily offended by language, nudity, and sexual situations, cancel the recommendation.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year Slapshots

-Here's to you having a great '08!

-I think Barb and I may have started a new New Year's Eve tradition. A couple of medium-rare T-bones...two good movies...a cocktail and a kiss at midnight...and a good night's sleep. I'm for leaving the driving around to parties to the thrill seekers of the population.

-The Rams and Cardinals both seem to be in a confused state right now. Meanwhile, the Blues appear to have everything in focus and many great days to look forward to. Like they say, it all starts at the top.

-What a great change of pace for college football fans to have both Mizzou and the Illini to be excited about this New Year's Day. While the Illini fell flat in the Rose Bowl, Ron Zook's program appears to hold an awful lot of near-term promise. And, after thumping Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, Coach Pinkel has things lined up for an amazing "Tiger tale" in '08.

-I've made my point before here about the recent efforts of Pat Summerall...and I'm not happy at all that he provided more evidence at the Cotton Bowl. Please understand, I have nothing against him, but somebody should ask him to bow out with his dignity.

-I think the best game on New Year's Day wasn't even a bowl game. The NHL scored many strong points for itself with the Winter Classic outdoor game in Buffalo between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Over 70-thousand fans at Rich Stadium for this one on a cold, windy and snowy day. But nobody seemed bothered by it, least of all the players who said they loved playing the outdoor game. A specially constructed rink on top of the football field had a few ice problems during the game. But, nothing that stopped the teams and fans from having one hell of a day to remember. In case you missed it, the face of the NHL for the next ten years, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, scored a shootout goal to win it. Maybe they should play the All-Star game outdoors each year..?? Just a thought.

-As I'm writing, crude oil prices have hit a record $100 a barrel. More reason than ever for the candidates in this year's election to be very clear about how they/we intend to get off dependence on petroleum.

-I was at a neighborhood party Saturday night while the Patriots were trying to complete their undefeated regular season. Of course, the game was on and I found myself actually rooting for New England to come back and beat the Giants. I can't believe it...but I was. Should I get a mental check-up? I really don't like much about the Patriots...except for a strong admiration for Tom Brady. No explanation other than that.

-After months of hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, and promoting of "special coverage" on the local TV channels, the morning rush of the I-64/Highway 40 shutdown was a breeze. Monday, when more people will return to work and school from holiday vacations, might turn out to be a better test. Stay tuned.

-A neat family thing happened on the west coast Monday. Son Stewart and niece Lauren Heffernan were able to meet up for dinner and some fun in Pasadena. Lauren is working with the west-coast Clydesdales hitch and Stew is living out there while pursuing acting work. Of course, the "big horsies" were in town for the Rose Bowl parade. I'm told many pictures were taken with the floats at the parade staging area. So, we might have some to share with you here soon.

That's all for now...come back again soon.