Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend Woundup

-A nice couple of wins this weekend for the Blues. And when's the last time we were able to say that? The more I watch pro sports, the more I have one of my core belefs reinforced. You must have a group of hungry young players on your team to be successful. I'm not saying that the veteran Blues players are "too comfortable". But, it's obvious that when you infuse some players who may be marginal on talent, but high on effort, that you get a better game from everybody. I think that, as much as anything, explains the success of the Blues this weekend. The group worked hard for a full game. And even though some key performers were out injured, the organization overall has more depth of talent and bringing up some of those guys from Peoria brought a higher level of effort to the overall picture.

I remember seeing Steve Regier during training camp and thinking the guy had a good skill set and size. Seemed like he could play some NHL hockey. Well he's beginning to make that look like a pretty good observation by this non-expert. Cam Paddock is another who may or may not have a long-term NHL future. But he's good enough to play the game at this level and certainly not embarass himself. Some of the other youngsters are stepping it up as well. At least it's nice to know that the future continues to brighten and the depth of the team continues to deepen as The Note's long haul back to Cup contender continues.

-The Rams? Oh my goodness! Maybe we were spoiled by the late 90's/early 00's success of the Horned Sheep. But holy mackerel...this team has become unwatchable. Were the really bad Rams of the early St. Louis Rams days this bad? I don't think so. They were pretty bad...but at least they seemed to put out a reasonable effort. This team seems hell-bent on convincing us that they don't want to play the game. "Please coach...please, please, please put in somebody else. I don't feel very well", is the attitude I seem to be getting. I had to watch the Cardinals play the Giants today to get what I considered a pro football fix. The Cardinals? Oh my goodness!

I suppose the two wins after Jim Haslett took over must have been a couple of Sunday mirages. I can't imagine this bunch of losers actually beat the Redskins and the Cowboys. That couldn't have happened.

The off-season can't come fast enough for the Rams organization. Will we see the team sold? Will we see a front office and new coach? We certainly must see a new...maybe not better...but new, set of players. Somebody, somewhere better have a very strong game plan on how to bring this team out of the state it's in. As I said ...Oh my goodness!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lost City?

-It's hard to know where to start when analyzing the dismal state of St. Louis professional sports after this weekend's let's start with the team that didn't play.

-The rumored Matt Holliday for a package of Cardinals players...including Ryan Ludwick and his prolific '08 has a lot of jaws wagging and fingers typing. As I said on the radio today when discussing the possible deal with Ron Jacober, it seems to me that Cardinals management is saying that their opinion is that Ludwick's performance this season was a fluke...or at least an anomaly. If they believed that his .299 avg/37 HR/113 RBI season was the real Ludwick... one that could be counted on for the next 7 or 8 seasons...they don't talk about dealing him. It's pretty obvious they believe him to be a player who's trade value is high...but real value is not nearly so. I have to say that the idea of Holliday in a Cardinals uniform and standing on deck while Albert Pujols strolls to the plate is a mouth-watering notion. For that reason, and because the Cardinals have a glut of major-league quality...if not star quality...outfielders, I'm ready to see it happen. Losing Skip Schumacher and Mitchell Boggs (the other players supposedly going to the Rox) doesn't concern me. Schumacher is a nice guy to have around...Boggs seems to be a 5th-guy-in-the rotation arm at best. The business end of it? Well, that could be problematic if they can't get Holliday's agent (the infamous Scott Boras) to be reasonable about a multi-year extention. Go ahead Mo. I'm on board.

-The Blues have put together a disappointing couple of weeks and compiled a 5-game losing streak as I write. Nobody thought this season would be a cakewalk...especially the pre-season prognosticators. But The Note gave us reason to believe things would be significantly improved with their pre-and early-season scoring barrage. And scoring hasn't been the problem during the losing streak. Keeping the puck out of the goal has. Of course, they wouldn't be the Blues without having to deal with a mess of injuries. The goalies, T. J. Oshie (one of the best players early on), and Paul Kariya have been absent lately. And it's tough to win without your best players on the matter what sweater you wear. I wouldn't think Andy Murray is in any sort of trouble as coach even though quite a few pundits seem ready to send him packing. I think management knows Murray is limited in what he can accomplish with the current roster. No matter how you want to sugar-coat it, the kids can't be expected to carry the load of a playoff-caliber performance. Not yet. So it's hockey for hockey's sake...and savor the wins when they happen. I've analyzed these things wrongly before, so it's entirely possible I'm wrong again and the wins will return in droves.

-Now to the pathetic Rams. Obviously, the two-game win streak...if you can call it that...after Jim Haslett's ascension to head coach must have been a mirage. Today's roll-over-and-play-dead routine in New York was as disgusting a performance by a "professional" sports team as anyone could imagine. 40-to-nothing at half-time? The East St. Louis high school team could have done better. There are so many problem areas on this squad...and everywhere else in the organization...that it would take a genius just to come up with a sensible plan on how to blow it up and re-start. And I'm certainly no I won't try. All I know at this point is that it seems like a century since the Rams were the toast of the town and Kurt Warner appeared to be a guy we could count on to lead the Super Bowl parade down Market Street every year for many. Now he's on his way to the playoffs with Bill Bidwill's outfit in Phoenix. Oh the agony!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Afterthoughts

-There are those who think the election of Barack Obama is the most wonderful thing to happen in the history of this nation. And of course, as with most things political and racial, there are those who think the opposite. But there can be no arguing however, that in simply historic terms, election day 2008 has provided a truly amazing occurence. This writer found himself shedding a tear while watching President-elect Obama's victory speech because of the sheer magnitude of the moment. Striking too, as one who lived through all of the racial animosity of the 60's, was to hear a black man extoll the virtues of this country and speak so eloquently about his love for it. To all of us, but in particular our minority citizenry, 11/4/08 will always be a very special day. There has never before been a man of proven and admitted African bloodlines as President-elect of the United States. There can be no doubt about it being a landmark in our country's timeline.

Some questions and thoughts:

-Who can claim credit? That an African-American was elected to the presidency forty-some years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is remarkable in itself. Just who got this ball rolling? Clearly, you have to trace it back to the courageous and noble people who, in service to the nation, saw no reason why one man should have inherent superiority, or indeed ownership, over another...said so, and acted upon those convictions. Just as obviously, the leaders of the civil rights movement of the sixties and beyond receive credit for calling attention to the plight of minorities in a media environment that was ready for the story. But, I also believe you can legitimately point to the sizeable segment of the population who heard the "N word" on a regular basis and had the courage to say.. "Not around me". The people who took minority friends in the face of outside pressure to not do so. I'm talking about the every-day man and woman who simply did the right thing when previous generations had not. These are people who now need to be released from the too easily-uttered label of racist... simply because of their whiteness. Because these were likely the first Americans to raise families in which respect and tolerance was the norm, not the exception. With young people playing such a large role in this election, it's obvious that the children and grandchildren of these people were instrumental in electing Senator Obama to the world's most important job. It's been a process. One that likely, as Mr. Obama said, could only happen in a country with a Constitutional framework such as ours.

-Will Obama's victory end the discussion about whether racism in this country prevents minority accomplishment..or exacerbate it? Many will likely say that Obama was successful in the face of the racist population's best efforts to defeat him. Others may say that he was accorded a "free pass" because of his partially-Caucasian background. Some will have the good sense to look beyond all that to the non-racial factors and say "Yes we can". But, the discussion of race relations, and all that goes with it, will likely be more prominent in our consciousness for a good long while.

-Will the election process now be reviewed? Many stood for hours in line to cast their ballot on Tuesday. This doesn't take rocket scientists to fix...does it? Can't we finally begin a national discussion...officially in congressional amend the Constitution to bring the election process into the 21st century. Why not allow voting to take place for an entire weekend? Vote on days when most of the population wouldn't need to take off work, or miss some other obligation. Does the electoral college process still have merit? Can we use home computers in some way to vote? Should there be rules governing the media and how it reports election results? All of these questions, and more, should be addressed now that this election has brought a sizeable new population into the process.

-Will this election be viewed as the turning point in history that many believe it to be? President-elect Obama has already said that he didn't lose sleep over losing the election...he lost sleep over what happens if he won. The true test of the man is yet to come. Can he and his team accomplish what his speeches promised? Can he bring true bi-partisanship, and the drive to change, to Washington as he suggests? What can really be done by a President to fix the economy, foreign relations, our war efforts, the environment and many other overwhelming challenges? Does the Obama plan for the country and it's problems hold water? Starting in January, we'll all begin to find out if the election was historic from more than a race-relations standpoint. For the sake of all of us, I hope so.

-What will McCain's future hold? I thought Senator McCain's concession speech was the shining moment of his entire campaign. He seemed to be coached out of his true personality throughout most of it. In conceding his loss, he appeared to revert to the warm-hearted and sensitive American hero that we knew him to be. His words were spot-on and his approach was mindful of the love he has always professed for the United States. Does he now become a cabinet member in the Obama administration? Does he retire? Does he return to run for office again in a few years? Whatever the answer, he did himself, and our newly elected leader, proud with his final act of campaign '08.