Friday, February 29, 2008
-Jeff Wilkins decides to hang it up. He was a good one too. Where have all the Super Bowl heroes gone? Time marches on...especially in a rough game like football.
-Son Ian had a little break time and checked in from the Beaver Creek ski resort today. They've had an amazing snowfall out there this year. He says today was the first day that felt like Spring was a possibility for a long time. Still plenty of snow for "Spring-breakers" though.
-One of the most talented singers I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, and being around. Very nice man too. Charles Glenn sings the anthem and Saints Go Marching In at Blues games.
-Congrats to Kent Hall, imaging director at St. Louis all-sports station Team1380. Kent has produced some promos that are a knock-off of the "Code" commercial campaign of the Blues. If you haven't heard them, listen to 1380AM for awhile. Even if you're not a sports fan, theyr'e a hoot.
-The trade deadline for some Blues fans was a bummer. But those are the ones that tend to forget that the team is still in the very early stages of a rebuilding project. The early success on the ice this year had everybody in "playoff mode". And that's a little unfair to John Davidson and Larry Pleau who have to be thinking in a much different way. Those guys are focused on a few years down the road as being serious playoff/Stanley Cup time. The other thing that disappointed some folks was the lack of a first-round pick or major prospect coming back to the team in return for Salvador and/or Backmann. It was unfair to expect a busload of prospects this year because the draft is stocked with more attractive players and other teams weren't going to shell out nearly as easily. And, frankly, the Blues didn't have the star-power players to trade this year. Certainly not the Tkachuk, Weight and Guerin trade bait that they've had before. I do think Cam Janssen will turn out to be more of a player than some are giving him credit for being. He's obviously a smart kid who understands why he's in the NHL. And hockey is still hockey and you need some guys on your team that can get the other team off their game. D.J. King is the classic fighter. But, this guy is more of a ****-disturber (a la Tyson Nash) who can also fight. It should be interesting to see if Andy Murray will be inclined to put King and Janssen on the ice at the same time.
-So, the lame-duck Governors of Missouri and Illinois shake hands on an I-70 bridge deal. Blagojevich in Illinois has all kinds of budget and, potentially, legal problems. Not to mention the fact that most of the people running the state, including those in his own party, have no use for him. Blunt has decided that he's had enough of being governor of Missouri and has no power as a result. So did the announcement of the new bridge really mean anything? They signed some papers. But somebody still has to come up with some money to do this thing. And neither state's leader is in a position to ram-rod anything.
-The Scott Spiezio thing is another black eye for the Cardinals. By now, most people around the country probably think that the organization is more about partying than playing baseball. At least the club did the right thing by immediately releasing the "soul-patch kid". I'm guessing they'll have to eat his salary because no other team is likely to be interested in his services anymore. One just hopes he gets the right help before it's too late.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Martin Rucinsky probably will be wearing another uniform soon too.
I would expect the team to re-sign Ryan Johnson and Matt Walker too. Both offer high value for the money.
I keep hearing that there's the possibility of a trade involving someone that we might not expect. Mayers? Stempniak? Just the internet rumor mill grinding.
Let's go back to something I've written before...The worst thing the Blues can do now is lose focus on the long-range prize. If Jackman, Salvador and others aren't viewed as players who can contribute to the Market Street Stanley Cup parade, then they should be trading chips. Short-term success be damned! This city is ready for the ultimate hockey prize...and we'll wait another year or two for it.
-Tony LaRussa approached management about signing Barry Bonds for this season? Geez...what's that all about? I don't know if I could have stomached seeing that guy in a Cardinals uniform.
-The Oscars...aside from the fine hosting of Jon Stewart...was a bore. And don't we have any people in the Academy who have any regard for US-born actors? It seems to be qualified to win latetly, you must have a green card.
-It's almost funny how whenever she feels that her ship is sinking Hillary Clinton changes her tune to suit the occasion. A while back in New Hampshire it was a teary plea to women. Over the weekend it was an angry castigation of Obama's stance on her health care proposal. There must be a very good puppeteer in her camp of advisors.
-I'm waiting for the first sign that some of that satellite that we shot out of orbit the other day is actually going to come down in tact anyway. Just a feeling. As long as the hydrazene was destroyed it won't be that big a deal.
-With Matt Clement apparently not ready... the Cardinals pitching has to get big contributions from unexpected sources to be competitive. Especially until Mulder and Carpenter come back. Even when they do, it would be silly to expect Cy Young-type performances from them. We could be suffering through the least interesting Cardinals season in quite a while. I hope my feeling is wrong.
-Well, I was sure I had the 270-million dollar Mega Millions winning lottery ticket. But, since I was wrong, I guess my efforts here will continue. See you soon.
Monday, February 18, 2008
-Just when it looked like the Blues were about to fall out of the playoff picture, they turn on the jets and get back in the hunt. The 9-game road trip in March still looms large in the scheme of things. And if Manny Legace is going to play every game, he needs to stay healthy. It's getting even more interesting to see what kind of strategy John Davidson and Larry Pleau will employ at the trade deadline next week. Buyers? Sellers? Traders? One thing's for sure, the next 8 days will be crucial to continuing to build a Cup-contending team in a few years.
-What's the answer to these whackos taking guns and mowing down students on college campuses...and several others threatening to?? Anybody? Gun control and gun rights advocates take their predictable positions while innocent young people get cashed in by loonies. Surely, some form of limitation of handguns...other than a waiting period which didn't work in the NIU massacre...is in order. I'm not a gun control advocate per se. But I am in favor of more control if we all can be safer because of it. Somebody, somewhere (Presidential candidates?) do, or say something that makes sense. Didn't the right to bear arms have more to do with protecting yourself against the government a few centuries ago? How many semi-automatic pistols were around in the 18th century?Are we really afraid that the military is going to come take our land and kill us these days? Just frustrated with all this stuff...that's all.
-The Cardinals season is hanging by a thread...the thread that's actually the strained ligament in Albert Pujols' right elbow.
-I've been around for the better part of six decades, but the weather this Winter is about as weird as I can remember. Hot, cold, rain, sleet, snow, wind, sun...in all sorts of varying amounts. This morning I left the house in pleasant sunshine and before I had driven 5 minutes I was in the middle of a virtual blizzard. A minute later I drove out the other side and the sun was out again. I don't know about global warming....but there's a global something going on.
-You can tell there's not much news happening when Channel 2's lead story on the 9 o'clock news on a Sunday night is how Catholics feel about St. Patrick's Day falling during Holy Week. I guess it beats the roundup of shootings we normally get.
-I see that Bill Belichick is pleading innocence in the Spygate thing. He says he never ordered anybody to tape any other team's practices...and doesn't know Matt Walsh (the guy who supposedly did the recording and has the tapes) from Adam. Let's see...as head coach isn't it your responsibility to know who works for you and what they are doing? And isn't Belichick supposedly a renowned genius and micro-manager? Curious that he would come out and admit to not knowing about anything happening on his watch. I'm guessing that the suits and lawyers with the Patriots are providing him with p.r. advice that would distance the organization from Walsh. They must be afraid of what he might do to their legacy. Could they actually be put in a position of forfeiting their Belichick-led Super Bowl titles?
-Our new chihuahua, Maya, is only happy when Barb is around. For some reason, that we're still attempting to understand, she has big issues with me. I'm apparently the source of great physical harm, as far as she's concerned, while Barb is the source of joy and happiness. But we were cautioned going in to adopting her that former puppy-mill dogs usually have such adjustment issues. So, we'll be patient and hope that she warms up to the "ogre in the house". I'm sure she's worth a little patience.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
-Will the Blues be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? It's less than two weeks away. While I don't pretend to know anything that JD and LP might be thinking, I would expect that the pair is seeking the best return on current assets they can find. If that means selling players that are about to become free agents, we know that they've been willing to do that before with great results. The defense is a strong point on the current roster. I would expect one or two current d-men won't be wearing The Note in March. The bigger question is...how much will we get in return? We don't have the big rent-a-player names to offer up that we did the last few years.
-Up 'til now, I've stayed away from making comment on the Kirkwood mass murder of last week. As they bury the last of the victims and the perpetrator, I offer these observations--
- Considering the racial problems of Kirkwood in the recent past, it's interesting that none of the local television outlets covering the breaking story was willing to identify Cookie Thornton as an African-American until the day after the shootings.. even though they knew he was the shooter just a few minutes after the massacre.
- Will public meetings need to be held at armed fortresses where we have airport-like security? Seems like everyone is talking about metal detectors and more policemen with weapons at the ready. Why not consider having anyone who wants to attend a public meeting pre-register in order to gain admittance? Yes, they are still public meetings with everyone invited...you will just know in advance who's coming and why. If they don't pre-register...Sorry, come back next time. Too bad... because public meetings are anything but.
- What a shame that Thornton's brother allowed himself to be interviewed in the aftermath. The man did no good for the memory of his brother...or anyone else...and certainly made a fool of himself with the "going to war" comments. If he thought he was furthering the cause of those in Meacham Park, he was sadly mistaken on that count too.
- The woman who was the press liason for the County police...Ms Panus? (and why wasn't there a Kirkwood authority figure doing that?) apparently thought she was talking to a pack of dogs when she addressed the members of the media. She was short and impolite every time I saw her appear on TV. It was a tough job sure...but she wasn't up to it either.
- Generally speaking, I thought most of the coverage by the TV outlets was good. Although I must say that Deanne Lane's thinly-veiled attempts to take ownership of the story because she's a Kirkwood resident came off as more than a bit tacky to me.
-Normally at this time of year I begin to get fired up for March Madness. This year...Yawn. The Illini are having their worst year in many. Mizzou...well you know. The Rick Majerus dynasty hasn't quite kicked in yet. And SIU is way down from recent teams. None will likely be in the tournament without a major upset run in a conference tournament. Looks like I'll have to root for some out-of-area squad and make the best of it.
Friday, February 08, 2008
The Blues named Eric Brewer team captain today. I'd like to offer a few thoughts from someone who works on the periphery of the hockey club.
As P.A. announcer, I've watched "Brew" skate in every game in which he's put on a sweater in St. Louis. I sit at ice level to do my job. I see a few things others don't. I'm sure I miss a few too. I think I understand the game pretty well. From my spot it's easy to know that the job of a top defenseman in the NHL is a lot tougher than most people think. I hear the negative reaction to Brewer's name being announced when I give the lineups. I also hear the frustrated jeers like "get off the ice" from time to time when there's a perceived Brewer mistake.
Having said that, I just don't see the terrible player that the EB booers and haters seem to imagine they are seeing. What I believe they are seeing is "that guy" who came to town when Chris Pronger was traded and Al MacInnis retired. They might also be seeing a guy who most times makes the game look easy, but is occasionally only human. They might also be seeing someone on whom they can take out their frustrations for the futility of the past few years. To those of you negative toward the guy... he's not Prongs, and he's not Chopper...never has been, never will be. But you might at least forget who he's not, and admit he's a damn good hockey player that has earned much respect in the NHL.
During my recent trip with the team to Toronto, I observed some things about some of our players that I hadn't been aware of before. Among those new awarenesses is how Eric Brewer is thought of by his own players, opposing players, and fans in another city. I also found out first hand that Brewer is an interesting and fun person to be around.
First, I can say to you that from my observances Brewer is highly respected by his teammates. This is something that you don't see by merely watching games. At the airports, on the plane, walking to the buses, and checking through customs, things are said and done that indicate where a person stands in the esteem of those around him. It became obvious that Brewer is held in high regard by the other players, both young and veteran.
After the win in Toronto, wife Barb and I were invited to the hallway outside the Blues locker room to wait with the rest of the group for the team bus. There was a crowd of people I believed to be current and former Maple Leaf players waiting outside the Blues locker room to greet and speak with EB. When he emerged, it was like a mini-family reunion with this group. They were obviously genuinely excited to see him, and he them. It was obvious that there was noone in that group who considered him to be any less than a hockey hero and good friend. He also was willing to give them as much time as he could during their session.
I can also tell you, without hestitation, that if it was up to the fans in Toronto, they'd trade just about anybody on their team (maybe with the exception of Mats Sundin) to have someone of Brewer's caliber on their blue line. We had some excellent seats at Air Canada Centre for the game on January 29th thanks to Mike Caruso and his staff. It was a perfect place to enjoy the atmosphere of another building and overhear comments of the fans around me. Several times I was able to catch opinions of Leaf fans who made respectful references toward Brewer and his game. And as much as we like to think we know the game in St. Louis, I think most would admit that Toronto is to hockey what St. Louis is to baseball.
One other thing. As we got off the team charter at Spirit airport at about 2 in the morning, I found myself standing next to Brew as we waited for attendants to unload our checked baggage. The wind chill must have been about zero. I looked at him and he glanced back and quipped..."Whoa...even a bit brisk out here for a Canadian boy..eh?" I appreciated the line from the Vernon, B.C. native...but more his attempt to make a personal connection with "the PA guy" who was along on the trip. Just another indication to me of the person behind the player.
As the old saying goes...You don't know what you have until it's gone. In Brewer's case, I might change it to...You don't know what you have...period. But for sure you'd have to look pretty long and hard to find a defenseman that regularly brings as much game as Eric Brewer. I know now that you also have to search a bit to find a better person. So, it seems based on his being named captain, that we won't have to worry about the "gone thing" for awhile. I hope my stories might enlighten some who see only the occasional mistake.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
-Many thanks to the St. Louis Blues. Thanks to my long-time, part-time employer, Barb and I celebrated our 30th anniversary last week with the team in Toronto. (Bernie Miklasz mentioned it in his Bernie Bits this past weekend) From start to touchdown back in St. Louis, it was a great trip. The classy way in which we were treated was certainly befitting of the love I have for the wonderful woman who has shared her life with me since '78. Many thanks to Dave Checketts, John Davidson, Larry Pleau, Peter McLoughlin, and all others in team management who signed off on our adventure. Special thanks to Mike Caruso, the Blues VP of Public Relations, for taking such great care of the "extra members" of the team entourage. Another round of special thanks to Andy Murray who greeted us after we boarded the team charter with a very warm welcome. I was doubly impressed by coach Murray's greeting which included Barb's first name and a few facts that indicated that he had "done his homework" on us. Very impressive man. It's easy to see why he's succesful as a coach and at being a human. Another special thanks to Bernie Federko. The Hockey Hall-of-Famer made sure we had VIP passes to get into The Hall. An impressive place for an impressive man to be enshrined. It was only a two-day trip, but one Barb and I will never forget. The whole thing was proof to me once again that hockey people are the best in sports. (Photo above from pre-game warm-ups at Air Canada Centre prior to the Blues 3-2 win over the Leafs)
-Time to brag once again on the acting exploits of our son Stewart. The reviews for Stew's performance in Thrill Me-The Leopold and Loeb Story have been spectacular. Nearly every media outlet that has reviewed the show has been effusive with praise for our talented young fellow. Thrill Me opened on January 26th to sold-out houses at Hollywood's Hudson Backstage Theatre. The show is a two-man musical based on the real-life story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the teenage "thrill killers" hailing from wealthy families in suburban Chicago. For those unfamiliar, Google Leopold-Loeb and there's all kinds of internet material on it. Seems like strange subject matter for a musical. But audiences and critics are apparently eating it up. Stephen Dolginoff, the composer/writer of the show actually starred in it himself off-Broadway a few years back. Stewart is in the west coast premiere of the show and plays the Leopold part which Dolginoff originated in New York. Dolginoff has already been to see the L.A. show and "thrilled" the cast by going out to dinner and drinks with them afterward. Stewart told us he was enormously impressed with Mr. Dolginoff and deeply appreciated his time with him. Back to the bragging... here are some excerpts from the various reviews of Stewart's performance...
“You won’t forget Stewart W. Calhoun’s fierce performance” — Hollywood Reporter
“Calhoun and Schemmer are convincingly boyish…and deliver wrenching performances “— LA Times
“Calhoun brings some real emotion...and demonstrates a strong voice” — Variety
“Calhoun is pure perfection...proves himself an actor/singer of depth and power” — LAStageScene.com
“Calhoun has a splendid voice that could easily scale much bigger shows” — CurtainUp.com
Stewart is in the process of taking some of these notices and turning them into promotional material to put in the hands of potential future employers. He has already gotten a few "feelers" from Hollywood show-biz types. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that someone in a position to do so gives our guy the chance he's looking for. You know, it's all about networking in "the biz".
-Well...we have a new member of our family since I last wrote here. Since our dear Springer Spaniel Fergie died back in July, we've been open to the idea of adding another doggie to the mix. We wanted a smaller dog....and preferably one that needed to be rescued. That combination isn't the easiest to make happen. But thankfully we came across Chihuahua Rescue of St. Louis. After visiting with several potential candidates, and being carefully screened by the Chihuahua Rescue folks ourselves, a match was made. Little "Maya" (pictured) came home to live with us a few days ago. She's all of 4-1/2 pounds. This little cutey has been a puppy-mill dog for her first five years. Sad to think she spent most of her time in a cage up 'til now. But she's already getting "heapin' helpin's" of love and affection from her new family. We're looking forward to having her around for a long time.
-The Super Bowl was not nearly as high-scoring as I expected. But it was one of the more fun games to watch in a while...mostly because of all that New England had riding on it. I was conflicted as to how I wanted it to end. For some reason, I found myself wanting the Pats to make history...but I also enjoyed the upset by the Giants. Obviously, I didn't have any money on the game. I'm kinda hoping the Patriots get exposed as spies and cheaters which would make the Rams Super Bowl loss in '03 hurt a little less. Maybe they'll even take away the Pats title that year if enough damaging evidence turns up. Well, one can hope.
-Looks like John McCain has a pretty good stranglehold on the GOP nomination after Super Tuesday. But the Hillary/Obama battle looks like it will go on for awhile. The Dem convention might be pretty interesting this summer.
-I thought the news organizations might have learned something in the last election when they called a bunch of races too early. But nooooooooo. AP called Missouri for Hillary only to have Obama bring in KC and StL to come from behind. Pretty soon the projections will have about as much value as a three-dollar bill.
-St. Louis weather is always a little strange...but this stuff we've had in the last week...in early February??? Whoaaaa...
-Said hello to Jeff Woywitka in the hall before the Blues game with Tampa Bay. This right after he showed two people I took to be his parents to the VIP elevator. Nice Alberta kid. I hope he sticks with the team this time. He's had a very strong season at Peoria this year.
-Sounds like Heath Ledger had enough prescription drugs around to start his own pharmacy. What a terrible experience for the family he leaves behind. Accidental overdose?? OK..how did we determine that when nobody else was around?