For Many St.
Louisans—the Sound of Baseball Remains the Voice of Harry Caray
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
posted March 8
Saturday (March 1), Harry Caray would have been 100 years old.
kidding: It might be—it could be—it is: a century
those of us baby boomers that grew up in the Gateway City, state of
Missouri, the Ozark region or throughout the Midwest, Harry Caray was
the soundtrack of summer. For a quarter century, Caray was the voice of
the St. Louis Cardinals. His style was unique and no holds bar. His
voice boomed describing the exploits of Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst,
Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and others. For twenty-five years, Harry Caray
was the sound of St. Louis baseball.
the world where one can be immediately identified by their first name
(Elvis, Ozzie, Madonna, etc), if back in the day you said that “Harry”
was on the radio, you knew exactly who was on the air. For many of us
growing up in the 1960s and earlier, Caray’s familiar, bold and
dramatic musings heard through a transistor radio muffled under a
pillow (as we were hiding it from our parents after being sent to bed)
created the perfect ending to a summer’s evening.
Harry Christopher Carabina from Italian and Romanian parents, he grew
up on La Salle Street on the near south side of St. Louis on 3/1/1914.
Caray’s father died when he was an infant and his mother died when he
was around eight years old. In essence he grew up as an orphan.
his youth Caray played semipro baseball before auditioning for a radio
job at age nineteen. It was then when young Harry found his calling. He
would cut his teeth in the radio business in markets such as Joliet,
Illinois and Kalamazoo, Michigan before returning to his home town. He
joined the Cardinals radio broadcast team in 1945. It was here in St.
Louis and particularly behind a hot KMOX radio microphone where the
legend of Harry Caray evolved.
was Caray’s voice that narrated the stories of the successful seasons
of the mid/late 1940s, the challenging 1950s and the memorable 1960s
for the Cardinals. But it was during the down years of the 1950s when
Caray’s career rose to prominence. In February 1953, August A. Busch,
Jr. convinced his Anheuser-Busch Board of Directors to purchase the
Cardinals from Fred Saigh. The Big Eagle and Harry Caray were both cut
from the same cloth. Both wanted to be the center of attention. Both
appreciated pretty girls. Both were Type-A. Both were highly
most importantly, both could sell beer. That alliance would make Harry
larger than life. Over the KMOX airwaves he was an unabashed homer. But
above all, he could sell beer. Busch once referred to Caray as his best
beer salesman. The bond was then formed.
Busch’s influence, the powerful KMOX signal and Caray’s bombastic style
the Cardinal radio network became the largest in the Major Leagues.
Prior to 1957, St. Louis was the westernmost franchise. Cardinal fans
were emerging west of the Mississippi. Caray was the evangelist. Casual
and non-baseball fans listened to the games only to hear what Harry had
to say. During it all, he promoted and pushed Budweiser. The match
seemed made in heaven.
Cardinals went to the World Series three times during the 1960s:
winning it all twice. After advancing to the series in 1967 and 1968,
St. Louis was expected to make it a three-peat. It didn’t happen. In
1969 St. Louis finished a disappointing third in the newly created NL
East. But days after the final out, a bombshell was dropped in the
Gateway City. Harry Caray and the Cardinals parted ways. The larger
than life broadcaster was out as Cardinal broadcaster.
have been many of urban legends as to what led to the split. We’ll
never know for sure. But we did observe in a pre-cable, pre-internet
era, that the divorce was far from amicable.
St. Louis, Caray took his talents to Oakland where he spent one season
working for the colorful Charles O Finley’s A’s. One year later, Caray
was signed as an announcer by legendary owner and promoter Bill Veeck
of the Chicago White Sox. It would not take long for Harry to discover
that Chicago was indeed his kind of town.
Caray’s tenure on the south side, the White Sox were not very good. In
his first season the Sox went 56-106. The
high water mark was 1977 when they won 90 games. During Caray’s time on
the South Side, the Sox had a losing record in eight seasons.
despite the ineptness on the field, fans listened to the White Sox
games because of Harry Caray. Partnered with the colorful and
unpredictable Jimmy Piersall, the broadcasts were more entertaining
than the games. Caray introduced Comiskey Park fans to the familiar
chant from the musical group Steam as pitchers were removed from the
game or when the Sox were going to win:
“na-na-na-na---na-na-na-na-----hey, hey, hey---Good Bye”.
and Piersall would broadcast games from the bleachers. On July 12, 1979
Harry spoke over the Comiskey Park PA pleading for calm on “Disco
Demolition Night” where the Sox had to forfeit the second game of a
doubleheader. Fans rushed the field causing extensive damage.
the White Sox were not very good then—but it was sure fun to listen to
1982, Caray moved to the north side of Chicago: signing a contract to
broadcast games for the Cubs. It was there through the magic and power
of the WGN-TV Superstation signal where Harry Caray would be introduced
to a new generation of baseball fans. The Cubs turned Harry loose over
the airwaves and it proved to be reality television at its finest. The
Cubs were not very good. But just like when with the White Sox,
baseball fans tuned in to hear Caray offer his insight and opinions:
from trying to pronounce player’s names backwards to welcoming who at
the ball park that day to saluting the smallest towns throughout the
his stay with the Cubs, Caray introduced his trademark: the seventh
inning stretch singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. Regardless of
the score or the loyalty, Wrigley Field fans sang along with Harry: as
Caray, then in his 70s, used his microphone as a baton.
last conversation with Harry was in 1996. It was during a Saturday
afternoon game at Busch Stadium II between the Cardinals and Cubs.
Prior to the game, I was in the press lounge. Sitting very quietly in
the corner was Harry Caray watching the Fox Network pre-game show. On
the screen was his grandson Chip. As I passed his table, Harry smiled
and said to me, “isn’t he great?” I politely smiled, agreed continued
some small talk. During it all Harry just kept smiling.
here is this larger than life personality I grew up listening to via a
transistor radio under my pillow savoring the moment as a proud
grandfather. I started smiling also.
1989, Harry would be inducted into the Broadcaster’s wing of the
Baseball Hall of Fame and a year later, into the National Radio Hall of
Fame. He suffered a stroke in 1987. But Caray would not leave the
broadcast booth. Then in February 1998, Caray fell at a restaurant and
suffered a head injury. He died February 18, 1998 of cardiac arrest
with resulting brain damage.
was the season of the great Home Chase that rescued baseball from the
1994 Work Stoppage. The Cardinals’ Mark Mc Guire and the Cubs’ Sammy
Sosa would blast long flies in pursuit of Roger Maris’s single season
home run record. It would have been fun and perhaps fitting had Harry
hung around one more year to describe those events as only he could.
television (particularly cable television) is the primary outlet for
baseball. The legendary baseball voices from past years have been
replaced by some combination of blow-dried polished announcers and
former ball players: each parroting team written talking points and are
nothing more than an extension of the team’s marketing department. You
know: always remember that good seats are available, always look for
the positives and never criticize the Home Team.
wonder if Harry Caray would have been hired as a broadcaster in today’s
environment. My thinking is probably not. And that’s too bad. Games
were sure more fun during Harry’s day.
Saturday (March 1), Harry Caray would have been 100 years old.
Dan Kelly: Simply the
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
posted February 7
On the same date the
Beatles made their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a half century
earlier, this Sunday will also mark the twenty-fifth anniversary
of the death of long-time St. Louis Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly. He
once was called the "purest, most knowledgeable, most accurate" voice
in hockey. Kelly was 52 years old when he died at his Chesterfield home
after a five-month struggle with cancer.
Patrick Daniel Kelly was the best play-by-play announcer ever to
broadcast a hockey game. He was an announcer, a salesman, a preacher
and a teacher. Born on St. Patrick’s Day 1936, no one has ever come
close to his talents in describing the sport of hockey. To this day he
remains the Gold Standard in the industry. When Dan Kelly’s voice
boomed behind a nationally televised hockey game, you knew that game
had to be important.
There will always be a debate on who is/was the best baseball
announcer. While Cardinal fans lobby for the talents of the legendary
Jack Buck, one can understand why those on the West Coast provide equal
testimony for the great Vin Scully. Yankee fans speak with pride about
the calls of Mel Allen. Yet those in Michigan fondly will counter about
the homespun style of Ernie Harwell. You will never get consensus on
who is the best baseball announcer. But there is no debate on who is
hockey’s best announcer. As NBC’s Bob Costas once said: “hockey is a
sport that should never be broadcasted on radio. Yet in broadcasting
hockey, Kelly is like Secretariat in the Belmont. Whoever is second is
really closer to third or fourth”.
The Canadian-born, portly Irishman cut his broadcasting teeth in the
CFL and on his native land’s best-known hockey vehicle: Hockey Night in
Canada. Back in the day when only the original six teams skated in the
National Hockey League, a young Kelly would assist legendary
broadcaster Danny Gallivan in calling the Saturday night Game of Week
as it beamed throughout all the Canadian provinces and in the northern
US. It was THE event on TV in Canada.
Then in 1966, the NHL expanded: doubling from six to a dozen
franchises. The new markets would be Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Oakland,
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Local insurance executive
Sidney Solomon Jr. and his son Sidney III owned the St. Louis franchise
and nicknamed them the Blues. The Solomons purchased the deteriorating
fire trap at 5700 Oakland Avenue and transformed it into a hockey
arena. The Blues games were aired over the 50,000 red-hot watts of KMOX
Radio that first season. Buck was named as the team’s first radio
play-by-play man with former NHL defenseman and Coach Gus Kyle
providing the analysis. Jay Randolph replaced Buck once spring training
arrived. The Blues finished in third place that first season. But
behind the goaltending of veteran Glenn Hall, the Note advanced in the
playoffs to the NHL Finals: only to lose to the mighty Montreal
Canadiens in four straight games.
The following year, the Blues searched for a new play-by-play man to
take over for Buck. A young up-and-coming St. Louis hockey executive
named Scotty Bowman recommended Kelly to the Solomons. They’d pay Kelly
a king’s ransom to lure him and his family from Ottawa to St. Louis.
But it would be money well spent.
It took the 34-year-old Kelly and his partner Kyle only a short period
of time to earn the respect and admiration of the St. Louis listening
public. Kelly would educate his mid-America radio audience about the
rules, traditions, beauty and skills of hockey. With the help of the
KMOX signal, Kelly and Kyle would spread the word into over 44 states
and throughout Canada. Kelly’s familiar “He Shoots, He Scores” call
quickly became and still remains a St. Louis hockey staple. Kyle would
be the loveable sidekick: referring to close games as “barn burners”
and occasionally butchering the English language. A classic “Kyleism”
occurred after a jolting Bob Plager hip check. Old Gus said: “Plager
hit him so hard, his socks changed feet”. It was just great stuff.
Back in those days, the Blues were the hottest ticket in town. There
was actually a season-ticket waiting list for Blues games. 1968-1969
was memorable for the franchise and Kelly would serve as the narrator.
He painted the pictures with words over the KMOX airways as Hall of
Fame goaltenders Hall and Jacques Plante captured the Vezina Trophy.
Kelly’s description of all six goals scored by Red Berenson on a
November 7, 1968 night in Philadelphia remains legendary. Kelly and
Kyle would announce with fervor the fisticuffs when the Plager Brothers
and/or Noel Picard would not back down from the League’s tough guys.
That season the Blues won the Conference title and returned to the NHL
Finals: only to again be swept by Montreal. After the season Kelly
narrated a KMOX-produced album re-living those 1968-69 highlights.
It took less than one season, but Canadian born Dan Kelly became a St.
He would become the Gateway City’s hockey evangelist. For the next
nineteen seasons, it would be Kelly’s voice describing Blues action on
those cold winter nights. He was behind the microphone in January 1972,
when some Blues players went into the stands in Philadelphia to
confront the Flyer fans: eventually sending Head Coach Al Arbour and
those players to jail. He calmly explained to fans why trading Berenson
to Detroit was a good thing as a young star named Garry Unger would be
coming to town. Kelly helped hockey fans grieve over the sudden death
of young defenseman Bob Gassoff. He told fans to keep the faith as the
Solomons were contemplating bankruptcy due to rising debts. He
introduced Ralston Purina as new Blues owner and Emile Francis as the
team’s new President. A few years later, he watched helplessly as
Ralston left the Blues for dead: with the distinct possibility the team
would be relocated to Saskatoon. He introduced and interviewed Harry
Ornest: a Beverly Hills businessman who bought the team off the scrap
heap while bringing hockey executives Ronald Caron and Jacques Demers
to town with him. Kelly described the classic 1981 first round Game 5
playoff game when Mike Crombeen’s double-overtime goal advanced the
Blues into the next round.
It was Kelly’s voice that narrated arguably the franchise’s most
memorable game: May 12, 1986 (a. k. a. the Monday Night Miracle). The
Blues faced elimination in Game 6 of the Conference Finals against
Calgary. St. Louis trailed 5-1 in the third period, only to tie the
game and then win it in overtime on a Doug Wickenheiser goal. Kelly’s
voice provided that soundtrack.
Dan Kelly was the link. From the Solomons to Ralston to Ornest to
Shanahan: from player trades to coaching changes, from possible
relocation to financial stability, it was Kelly that was the constant
for Blues fans. He not only taught the Gateway City the game of hockey,
but also served as the voice of reason and experience.
While hockey was his trademark, Kelly was also versatile in other
sports. He was in the locker room in Montreal when the Cardinals
captured the 1982 National League Eastern Division title. In 1983, he
and Mike Shannon described Bob Forsch’s second no-hitter. He was one of
the CBS regional NFL TV broadcasters. Kelly was behind the
University of Missouri radio network microphone when the Al
Onofrio-coached Mizzou football team marched into Columbus to upset
Ohio State. Kelly teamed with Bob Starr during the glory years of the
St. Louis Football Cardinals: including the legendary Mel Gray phantom
catch game against Washington. Plus Kelly made countless cameo
appearances on Jack Carney’s highly-rated KMOX radio show.
Unlike today, especially as seen on local cable telecasts, Kelly was
not bashful to speak his mind: even if it ruffled the feathers within
the Blues front office. One night he was in New York to emcee an event
honoring Arbour. Kelly introduced himself saying, “I come from St.
Louis where we had Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour and we fired them both.
How smart are we?”
Then in 1988, hockey’s greatest voice grew weak and ill. We eventually
found out that cancer was the culprit. Others would describe Blues
games. But it wasn’t the same. We then realized just how spoiled we all
were. In January 1989, the Blues honored for their play-by-play man.
That night it also was announced that Kelly would be inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Fame. The guest list included local celebrities such as
Buck, Costas, Whitey Herzog and Shanahan as well as his hockey
colleagues Don Cherry and Jiggs Mc Donald. They all took turns
playfully roasting, yet honoring the Voice of the Blues. But the Great
Kelly was too ill to attend in person. Ironically, he listened to all
the festivities on KMOX Radio from his hospital room.
A month later, hockey’s greatest announcer died at the far too young
age of 52.
Now a generation has passed since we heard Dan Kelly announce a hockey
game. Millenials do not know what they missed. Thank goodness for
audiotapes. On his tombstone at Resurrection Cemetery in southwest St.
Louis is engraved “Voice of the Blues”. That just says it all.
“Hockey is a sport that should never be broadcasted on radio. Yet in
broadcasting hockey, Kelly is like Secretariat in the Belmont. Whoever
is second is really closer to third or fourth”.
Said another way, Dan Kelly was simply the best.
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
posted November 17
The St, Louis Blues have jumped off to an impressive start in 2013-14.
On the morning of the third Saturday of November, our local ice heroes
hold an overall record of 12-2-3: good for 27 points and fourth place
in the highly-competitive Western Conference. The Blues have been
compiling some impressive numbers in the first 20.7% (17 of 82 games)
of this regular season. To date, the team is first in the National
Hockey League in power play percentage (26.2%), third in the NHL in
goals per game (3.6) and eighth in the league in Goals Against per game
Alexander Steen has been very, very good in the early going: scoring 16
goals in 17 games and posting a +13. Veteran defenseman Jay Bowmeester
has been solid on the back line logging many minutes while posting a
+10. Free agent-to-be goaltender Jaroslav Halak has bolstered his
bargaining position to date by posting a 2.31 goals against average in
Predictably anticipation and expectation are running high throughout
that faithful but blinded cult known as the St. Louis hockey fans. Also
predictably the local media has jumped on the bandwagon. Radio report
use words such as “elite team” when describing the Note. The headline
of the 11/16/13 sport section edition of our town’s only newspaper
listed the headlines “Excellence on Ice Speaks Volumes”. In some
circles I’m sure fantasies of that Clydesdale-led Stanley Cup parade
down Market Street in June are popping up in the minds of some in Blues
Nation and local media.
Yeah, enthusiasm is starting to swirl all around town about Our Blue.
So why do I not share this buzz and why do I not also feel the love?
I think there are a bunch of reasons.
First of all, apparently I’m not alone in this apathy. After eleven
home games, the Blues have averaged 16,421 fans per game. This includes
a non-sellout on a Saturday night against the highly-attractive
Pittsburgh Penguins and drawing 14,190 on a Thursday night against
Colorado in a match-up of two teams near the top of the Conference
Now it should be noted, the team did run into some back luck early. On
the Blues’ opening night, the Cardinals were also hosting Pirates down
the street in Game One of the National League Division Series. Six
nights later when Stanley Cup Champion and rival Chicago came to town,
at the same time the Red Birds and Bucs were playing the deciding NLDS
Game 5 at Busch III. It’s also true much local discretionary money went
to baseball post-season tickets versus games in the first month of the
But given that, someone please justify for me parting with more than a
few bucks to drive downtown before Thanksgiving on a Tuesday night in
October to watch the Winnipeg Jets or a Tuesday night in November to
see the Phoenix Coyotes: especially when this same regular season won’t
conclude until Easter 2014. Why should I do that?
(On a related note, memo to those local media members criticizing the
size of the crowds at the Scottrade Center—I have one question. How
many tickets did you purchase for those games? It’s not your place to
criticize anyone on where or how a person should spend their money.
Until you put your money where your month is, just shut that mouth.)
Secondly, I’ve seen this movie before. Remember a couple of years ago
when the Blues beat Detroit in two games in Sweden and local hockey
fans were hyperventilating? Remember last year when after hockey
finally returned how the Blues jumped off to a 6-1-1 start to fire up
the locals? Now, do you remember how all those seasons ended?
Folks, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. I understand and appreciate how
desperate Blues Nation is for a winner. They have endured as much pain,
hardship and ridicule only fans of the Chicago Cubs can understand. But
I’m not going to fall into the trap of many fans and media in this town
that this is FINALLY THE YEAR after only 20.7% of the season. Everyone,
please take a deep breath and go to a happy place.
Third, we are talking about the National Hockey League here. The NHL is
at best the fourth most prominent and certainly the most irrelevant
professional sports league in North America. Case in point: you are
talking about a league that shut down three times for work stoppages in
the past twenty years and hopes the paying fans forget that.
In this bureau’s opinion, there are 6-8 teams that should be eliminated
in the 30-team NHL. Said another way there are 125-150 players that
have no business being in the NHL. The presence of these 125-150 slugs
water down the NHL product. You see there are more slugs than actual
elite hockey players in the League. Do the math.
And because there are too many teams, there is this 6-month demolition
derby known as the regular season to simply thin the herd for the
playoffs. During the six month regular season, referees are lax on rule
infractions in order to assist the slugs that are watering down the
product. At the end of this six-month slugfest, sixteen teams (or
53.3%) of the league are allowed to continue. It is then during the
warmth of mid-April and early May that the real hockey season begins
and referees starting regulating the rules properly.
But to keep the fans interested/awake during the regular-season, the
NHL has adopted some gimmicks to jazz up the experience. The most
notable one as this bureau sees it is the overtime/shootout rules to
determine a winner. While I understand and appreciate the League’s
objective to avoid ties, why did adopt the “everyone’s a
winner/everyone gets a trophy” mentality? Why is a team rewarded for
losing a game in overtime? Your opponents beat you on the scoreboard
yet you receive a point in the standings?
Also, thanks to the gimmicks found in the NHL regular season, a team
that earns a hard-fought six-minute 2-1 victory is rewarded exactly the
same as a team with a shooter that scored on a tired goaltender who has
played 65 minutes in a shootout?
But these gimmicks do put butts in the seats during the herd-thinning
Now with that said, tell me again: why I should buy tickets for this?
And again, looking at the numbers, it appears that I’m not alone.
To those local hockey fans out there in cyberspace wearing the Bob
Bassen jersey while sitting at your computer in your parents’ basement,
I’m not dissing the accomplishments of your ice heroes. Refer to the
top of this piece: “The St, Louis Blues have jumped off to an
impressive start in 2013-14.” So please hold off on the email
But forgive me, if I’m not ready to attend this pre-Thanksgiving party.
Said another way:
Wake me up after the Super Bowl.
A Valentine to Spring;
A Valentine to Baseball
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
posted February 16
this cold and chilly Valentine’s Day weekend, there are signs of love
and warmth starting to spring up. Perhaps it can be best summarized in
these few words:
“Pitchers and catchers are working out in Jupiter, Florida.”
Yes, baseball is back and not a moment too soon. On this weekend of
love, God’s most perfect game is returning from its winter hiatus. One
can almost hear the serene and familiar sounding lyrics from the Mary
Tyler Moore Show of the 1970s:
“Love is all around, no need to waste it. You can have a town, why
don't you take it”
Yes indeed, baseball is back. The last time we left our local nine was
on a chilly late October Wednesday night at Fenway Park as the Boston
Red Sox completed the deal in winning the 2013 World Series. Meanwhile
the Red Birds returned to the Gateway City to start their winter
vacation with an impressive consolation prize: the National League
2013 was a very good year for the Cardinals. Many positive things
occurred. St. Louis compiled a 97-65 record: best in the Senior Circuit
and tied for best in the Majors. As thoughts of the Christmas holidays
and Super Bowl blowout start to fade, local and national pundits are
now preparing for the 2014 baseball campaign. You know “that long and
To that end, the Cardinals are getting loads of valentines and lots of
love from the national press. It would be a fair point for a franchise
that was one game away from the World Series in 2012, two games away
from a World Series championship in 2013, that the anticipated 2014
squad might even be better than the previous two.
A lot of that love is directed to the young pitching staff. Let’s
review. Here is the rundown of the 2013 accomplishments of those St.
Louis pitchers who are as of today, 26 years old or younger:
Age W L Inngs
Shelby Miller 22
15 9 173.1
Trevor Rosenthal 23 2
24 5 2 62
Kevin Siegrist 23
3 1 39.2
25 10 5 124
Michael Wacha 21
4 1 64.2
Tyler Lyons 25
2 4 53
Carlos Martinez 21
2 1 28.1
John Gast 24
2 0 12.1
26 5 2 55.1
26 15 10 201.2
down on these numbers further, in 2013 Red Bird pitchers 25 years of
age or less as of today compiled a 45-27 record: 46.4% of 2013 wins.
Going one step further, 2013 St. Louis pitchers 26 years of age or less
as of today were 65-39: 67.0% of 2013 wins.
Pitching has always been and always will be the most coveted asset in
Baseball. In that department, it appears the Cardinals are solid. This
anticipated roster also explains why the Red Birds are being shown love
nationally and expectations are high throughout Cardinal Nation.
From the time that final out was made at Fenway in late October to
their arrival in Jupiter in mid-February, I suspect all of these young
arms were flooded with compliments, Atta-boys and verbal bouquets from
their families, friends and groupies. Plus with the national reports it
could understood how these young pitchers would really feel good about
themselves arriving in FLA.
To that end, establishing the correct mindset/attitude will be the
initial challenge for third-year St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny. The
Manager and his staff need these ball players to buy into the reality
that it isn’t 2013 anymore and that potential always takes a back seat
to actual performance. Matheny and GM John Mozeliak should be fully
aware that as defending National League Champions, they are not going
to sneak up on anyone in 2014. As defending National League Champs,
opponents will circle games with St. Louis on their calendars. Opposing
teams will be ready, eager and able to take their best shot against the
heralded Red Birds young arms.
Welcome to challenge #1 of 2014: the mindset of a young roster that has
To that end, this week, Red Bird catcher Yadier Molina discussed this
subject when he told Derrick Gould, the baseball beat writer of our
town’s only newspaper, “For me, honestly, it’s the best team that I’ve
been a part of when you look at it on paper,” Molina said. “We’ve got a
great lineup. We’ve got a shortstop who can swing the bat. But it’s on
“We still have to concentrate. We can’t take it for granted.”
Can I get an Amen from the congregation, please?
Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday must take the lead in
creating that culture into the 2014 locker room, much like Chris
Carpenter, Lance Berkman and Jake Westbrook did in prior seasons. Any
youngster straying away from this script should be visited by one of
these veterans. This is likely why St. Louis signed infielder Mark
Ellis as a free agent in the winter. Ellis is an articulate and
confident veteran who can assist in molding that attitude.
Yes, baseball is back and not a moment too soon. Welcome to spring
training 2014 Cardinal Nation. This the first stop of this upcoming
eight (hopefully nine) month odyssey.
And although anticipation is high throughout Baseball Heaven, there
will be many peaks, valleys, challenges, accomplishments, smiles and
frowns before it could be said:
“They’re gonna make it after all.”
Happy Birthday, Hank
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
posted February 7
On Wednesday February 5,
Hank Aaron will turn 80 years old.
The 1950s, 60s and 70s was an era when many of baseball’s glorious
names performed their skills and built their legends. Behind this
backdrop, with his quiet dignity, Henry Louis Aaron was at the top of
that list. Ascending from humble beginnings to the ranks of the Negro
League to Major League Baseball, Aaron demonstrated a consistency and
steadiness that is admired even in today’s trash-talking world of
social media and wall-to-wall tabloid sports journalism. When #44
played you never saw flashiness and you never saw boasting: only
consistent performance with class. He never felt the need to show up an
opponent. His work did all of his talking.
Aaron’s body of work outlined in his resume is beyond impressive: it
screams volumes In his 23-year career he blasted 755 career home runs
(#2 all time)—3,771 career hits (#3 all time)—2,297 career runs batted
in (#1 all time)—a lifetime batting average of .305---624 career
doubles ---1957 National League Most Valuable Player----24 All Star
Game appearances--NL batting champion in 1956 and 1959—three-time gold
glove winner. Although Aaron hit 755 career home runs, he never hit 50
or more long flies in a given season. You can do the math.
As a right-handed hitting outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves, Aaron
made his debut at the age of twenty on April 13, 1954. An injury to a
Braves’ outfielder created an opening for young Aaron to be added to
the Big League roster. And from that day, he never looked back. In his
first Major League game, Aaron went hitless. Two days later, he slapped
the first of his 3,771 career hits in a game against the St. Louis
Cardinals. Eight days later, Aaron blasted his first Major League home
run: also against the Red Birds and against pitcher Vic Raschi.
It would be the first of many that would span throughout five
Ironically, Aaron could have actually had 756 career home runs. It was
a night in St. Louis in a game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium
I. The Red Bird pitcher was Curt Simmons: a left-hander whose most
effective pitch was a slow ball. On that night, Aaron was so anxious to
hit Simmons’ slow ball that when he made contact, the ball eventually
landed on Grand Avenue, Yet, Aaron was called out by the home
plate umpire for being out of the batter’s box. When asked after the
game, Simmons uttered a quote that is still used on Cardinal broadcasts
to this day: "Trying to throw a fastball by Henry Aaron is like trying
to sneak a sunrise past a rooster."
Aaron became one of the most feared hitters in the game. In 1955, he
hit .27 home runs, drove in 106 RBIs and posted a batting average of
.328. As the 1957 National League Most Valuable player, Aaron was an
integral part of a Milwaukee Braves team that won their only World
Series Championship as they defeated the heavily-favored New York
Yankees in seven games. Then over the next two decades, Hank Aaron
would continue to pile up offensive numbers.
Hank Aaron was all business: serious business. He once said, “I never
smile when I have a bat in my hands. That's when you've got to be
serious. When I get out on the field, nothing's a joke to me. I don't
feel like I should walk around with a smile on my face.”
Unsung and at times unappreciated, he did not have the advantage of
playing in the bright lights of New York. Aaron didn’t have the
charisma and personality of Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. So when it
became obvious during the 1960s that Ruth’s career home run total would
be strongly contested, many of the press swarmed after Mays and Mantle.
But up in Milwaukee and later down in Atlanta, Hank Aaron quietly
continued to hit home runs. It eventually became obvious that if anyone
was to eclipse the Babe, it would be the man wearing #44 for the Braves.
Quietly and consistently Aaron climbed the ladder. He finished 1973
with 713 career home runs: one shy of Ruth’s all-time record. It would
be a long winter of anticipation for the slugger. Letters poured into
the Braves offices, as many as 3,000 a day for Aaron. Some wrote to
congratulate him, but many others were appalled that a black man should
break baseball's most sacred record. Among the negative correspondence
were death threats.
On Opening Day 1974, Aaron homered in Cincinnati to tie Ruth. Then on
Monday night April 15 before 53,775 fans at Atlanta Fulton County
Stadium during the Braves home opener, Aaron blasted his 715th career
home run. It occurred at 9:07 p.m. in the fourth inning against Al
Downing and the Los Angeles Dodgers before a nationally televised NBC
Network audience. This was a big deal and the eyes of the nation were
focused on the events in Georgia.
Two years later, #44 returned to the town where he started it all two
decades prior: this time to the Brewers as a Designated Hitter. On
October 3, 1976 at the age of 42, Aaron played his final Major League
game as a DH for the Brewers. He was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of
Fame on the first ballot in 1982, receiving 406 of a possible 415
ballots. It’s still unclear and quite mind boggling how the nine
naysayers did not vote for #44 in Round One.
Years after Aaron retired, impressive yet skeptical home run totals
surfaced. Fifty home runs in a season by one player occurred more and
more frequently. Under this shadow, home runs never looked the same. As
more and more long flies flew, more and more whispers grew louder and
louder: questioning the authenticity of those home runs. The word
steroids started to surface.
On an August 2007 night in San Francisco, Giants’ outfielder Barry
Bonds hit his 756th career home run passing Aaron. Bonds was viewed
skeptically as suspicion linked him to performance enhancing drugs. The
magic of the home run was diminished. When Aaron passed Ruth, the game
was beamed nationally on NBC as a must see event. When Bonds passed
Aaron, the game was shown as a regional broadcast on ESPN 2 with
Despite the cloud, Aaron would have none of it. The former Home Run
King congratulated the new King on taking over the thrown via a classy
video to the sold out crowd at AT&T Park.
To this day, although Bonds has the numbers, many followers of baseball
regard Aaron the true Home Run King. Despite it all, #44 avoided the
In his later years, Mantle expressed his respect for Aaron saying, “As
far as I'm concerned, Aaron is the best ball player of my era. He is to
baseball of the last fifteen years what Joe DiMaggio was before him.
He's never received the credit he's due."
In 1999, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of breaking Ruth's record,
Major League Baseball announced the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to
the best overall hitter in each league. Three years later, Aaron was
awarded the Medal of Freedom.
In his 1990 autobiography “If I had a Hammer” Aaron wrote: “I have
always felt that although someone may defeat me, and I strike out in a
ball game, the pitcher on the particular day was the best player. But I
know when I see him again I'm going to be ready for his curve ball.
Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses
all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if
you learn from it.”
As we once again deal with lawsuits and PED innuendos relating to
prominent athletes in prominent markets, it is sometimes good to
reflect back to a simpler time.
"Trying to throw a fastball by Henry Aaron is like trying to sneak a
sunrise past a rooster."
Happy 80th birthday, Hammering Hank
St. Louis Sports Online
David Freese: Gone But Not Forgotten
this week, the Cardinals announced that they had traded David Freese to
the Los Angeles Angels, as part of a two-for-two swap that resulted in
CF Peter Bourjos moving east to St. Louis.
is a good one for St. Louis--an analysis will follow on these
pages...but Freese had grown stale in STL and the Cards' primary 2013
center fielder, John Jay, had as well. At the very least Bourjos will
platoon with Jay in 2014, while rising star Matt Carpenter, and rookie
Kolten Wong, will assume the third and second base positions,
It is hard
to get a handle on just how large of an impact St. Louis-area native
David Freese has had on STL baseball.
one way of looking at Freese...
In his four+ year major league career (all with St. Louis, spanning
2009-2013), David Freese appeared in 466 regular season games.
During that same period of time, Freese played in nine
post-season series (including the one-game 2012 wild-card game vs.
Washington), and during those series, appeared in 48 post-season
Do the math, dear reader!
While wearing a Cardinal uniform, hometown hero David
Freese appeared in 10% as many post-season games as regular season
When you think of modern-era post-season baseball, Derek Jeter comes to
mind as a perennial post-season participant.
In his nineteen years as a Yankee, Jeter has appeared in 2602
regular-season games...and a mind-boggling 158 games (in sixteen
different series). 158 games! That's a regular season of baseball that
Jeter has played, in MLB's post-season tournament.
The math, though says, that Jeter's post-season appearances amounted to
about 6% of his regular season appearances.
What about Freese' new teammate in Los Angeles...Albert Pujols?
During his eleven-year tenure as a Cardinal, Pujols played in 1705
(Hall of Fame-quality) regular-season games but 'only' (?!) 74
Pujols' playoff-to-regular season percentage therefore stands at 4%.
My point is this: if your recollections of David Freese are primarily
post-season-based...there's a reason for that. He played A LOT of
October baseball as a Cardinal.
October baseball is good.
October baseball is meaningful baseball.
David Freese was good at October baseball.
Gone but not forgotten.
High School Football Update
Then there were two: two Public High League football teams
left standing in Missouri's expanded, open playoff format, where every
team is assured of at least one postseason game like the popular
basketball system. In any event, as it were, the PHL has an undefeated
Class 4 power, the Miller Career Academy Phoenix (10-0) and an emerging
Class 2 upstart, the Carnahan Cougars (9-2) poised to advance to the
sectional rounds on Saturday Nov.16, should they get by their
respective opponents the St. Mary's Dragons (6-5) and the Lutheran
North Crusaders (7-4) on Monday night Nov.11.
For the Phoenix, it will be revenge time as
they seek to avenge their only defeat last season: a 41-6 drubbing by
the Dragons on a cold, damp Monday night.
"We just came out flat that game," Phoenix coach Sorrell
Harvey has reiterated. "It wasn't the weather. It wasn't the fact
that we had a bye week before the playoffs. We just played flat."
"We saved our worst game of the season for that
night," noted Phoenix assistant Jerome Petty.
Although both teams have had
turnover in players since, St. Mary's has had more significant change:
Even the head coach Jake Parent has moved on, while the two offensive
catalysts, running back Brandon Polito (who rushed for over 2,000 yards
and scored 39 touchdowns) and quarterback Kevin Hennessey (over 1,000
yards rushing) have graduated, the Dragons have made it back with less
prolific numbers, as running back William Pratt just eclipsed the
1,000-yard plateau under new coach Alex DeMatties.
The Phoenix meanwhile graduated quarterback Trevon King,
who threw for 2,620 yards and top running back Devon Roberts who rushed
for 1,087 yards, only to have first-year starters quarterback Jaylen
James (1,129 yards passing) and running back Marquis Stewart (1,536
yards) step in and keep the attack thriving.
In fact, the Phoenix have
outscored their foes by an incredible margin of 474-92 thus far this
season, prompting some to wonder if Career Academy is the new the
Sumner of old in the PHL. The Bulldogs have won four Missouri
state titles, made it to nine state championship final games and won 14
straight PHL titles from 1983 to 1996 in their storied history under
retired coach Lawrence Walls, for whom Harvey himself was a star
running back on a state championship squad.
"There's really no comparison in our team to those
Sumner teams, " warns Harvey. "If anything I'm really disappointed in
some of the coaching in the league this year, more than I am in the
opposing kids. We shouldn't be beating teams this badly."
The list of Career Academy victims include PHL foes
such as ROTC 78-0, Roosevelt 58-0, Northwest
47-0, Soldan 44-0 and even Carnahan early in the season before it got
hot 37-0. But Harvey may not be given his team enough credit for its
dominance, considering that Northwest (6-5) and Soldan (6-5) actually
finished with winning records, Carnahan's still alive and the Phoenix
also trounced non-conference foes Cahokia 37-13 in the regular season
and Lutheran South 57-3 recently in the playoffs. Like the
offense, the Phoenix had to replace a topnotch player, in fact,
probably the most productive player in the PHL the last two seasons in
middle linebacker Gabriel "Ox" Loyd, who had over 120 solo tackles last
This season the shut-down Phoenix defenders have
included Karon Thomas (111 total stops, counting solos and assists),
Valentino Armendaiz (106 total), Darriell Collins (98 total), Ra-Sheen
Bolden (87 total) and Travis Riley (seven interceptions, 60 total stops
and three touchdowns off picks). Offensively they boast two big-play
receivers in Javon Collard (13 recptions for 457 yards,a whopping 35.2
yards per catch average, and eight touchdowns) and Mark Frazier (16 for
393 and six touchdowns). Meanwhile the efficient line features center
Keoshawn Barnes(5-8, 222), Daryl Brown(5-11,170), Kevin Knox(6-2,250)
Vincent Kinzey(5-10, 340) and Terrance Sennie (6-2,250).
"We have all new kids on the offensive line, so we are
encouraged by their commitment to playing together and putting in the
needed work. I like this team because it's tough and smart, plus I'm
the only (varsity) coach they've had in high school."
Academy's terrific trio of defensive end Ra-Sheen Bolden (16), running
back Marquis Stewart (2) and quarterback Jaylen James (11) have sparked
the Phoenix to a 10-0 record and the Public High League title (Photo
submission by Chris Cooper)
Meanwhile the surging Carnahan Cougars are
drawing rave reviews as they run roughshod over foes after enduring a
two-year losing streak in 2008 and 2009 when the South Side program
just started varsity football.
"It's been a collective effort of the players, the
coaches, the administration and the families," said Cougars head coach
Lee Scott, following his club's 36-12 conquest of the Gateway Jaguars
in the regular season finale recently. "I wish I had an easy answer for
No offense to Coach Hale's modesty, but the
offensive playmaking ability of senior quarterback Dontrelle Busby has
been a major starting point, though.Busby has passed for 1,334
yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, not
bad for a first-year signal caller converted from slot receiver.
"It ( the successful conversion) didn't surprise me because he's
a great athlete and that's why we chose him to run the offense," said
Cougars offensive coordinator Darren B. Hale. "While I wouldn't
necessarily label him a true quarterback, he's an all-around athlete
capable of operating a multi-option offense such as ours."
But for good measure, Busby is also a load to
deal with as a defensive back, as evidenced by a 95-yard interception
return for a score he had in a recent 62-20 blowout of the Northwest
Academy Hornets in the playoffs. However, he is one of several weapons
for the soaring Cougars. Linebacker Chavez Hines (121 solo tackles,
four sacks, two fumble recoveries and two picks), Curtis Phillips (96
total tackles, five picks) and Isaiah Wright (80 total stops,
five sacks, three fumble recoveries) have been right there with Busby
(70 total stops, four picks).
"It feels nice to know that hard work really pays
off," said Hines. "That extra summer training, the extra wind sprints
after practice that has finally paid off. A lot of people doubted us at
Live from St.
Louis--It's Saturday Night
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
Late-August Cardinals Talk...
something highly unforeseen, the St. Louis Cardinals will qualify for
the 2013 National League Post-Season Playoffs. Given that, it should be
another Red October in the Gateway City (meaning more bucks for
retailers selling that overpriced 2013 playoff stuff in our town).
the school kids return to classes for their 2013-2014 term there are
only six teams in the fifteen-team Senior Circuit having winning
records. Thanks to Commissioner Bud Selig’s expanded playoff scheme
that debuted last October, there will again be two Wild Card teams
qualifying for post-season play in each League. They’ll meet in a
winner-take-all play-in game.
being a Division-winner tops a Wild Card team. Just ask those folks in
Atlanta or Texas.
to a strong first half, St. Louis is solidly positioned to qualify. On
the morning of August 23, the Cardinals find themselves in second place
in the National League Central Division: one game behind Division
leading Pittsburgh and 1 ½ games ahead of third place Cincinnati. At
this writing the Red Birds are twenty-one games over .500 with a record
it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows regarding our local
heroes. To say the Home Team has cooled off would be a bit of an
understatement. Since the All Star break, the Cardinals are 16-17. But
it’s concerning when you drill down on these numbers as during this
span the Red Birds have played teams from the National League’s
high-rent district (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh & Cincinnati):
mostly losing. To make thing more intriguing, St. Louis has just
started a stretch of games where they will play the Braves, Reds and
Pirates over the next two weeks
the real only threat, the sixth NL team boasting a winning record, is
Arizona. Right now, the Diamondbacks are 7 ½ games behind the Reds for
the final NL Wild Card spot and 8 ½ games behind St. Louis with only
thirty-five regular season games remaining.
yeah, barring something highly unforeseen, the St. Louis Cardinals will
qualify for the 2013 Major League Baseball Playoffs.
what will this team look like once October does arrive? While the MLB
infomercials constantly remind us that you cannot script October, you
also can’t hide your lying eyes.
in the St. Louis the major question surrounds the starting pitching.
Assuming the current pace continues, how effective will their starters
be? In the thirty-three games since the All Star break, only twice has
a Red Bird starter pitched at eight innings. In six games during that
stretch, Cardinal starters completed seven innings. Since the All Star
break, (excluding the 8/7/13 game where Shelby Miller left the game
with an injury after one batter), the average innings pitched by St.
Louis starting pitching is 6.0 innings. Here is the breakdown for the
number-geeks to enjoy:
Date SIP* SP**
08/02/13 5.0 Westbrook
08/01/13 5.0 Miller
07/31/13 6.0 Kelly
07/30/13 7.0 Wainwright
7.0 Wainwright 07/30/13
07/29/13 6.0 Lynn
07/28/13 5.0 Westbrook
07/27/13 5.2 Miller
07/26/13 6.1 Kelly
7.0 Wainwright 07/25/13
07/24/13 7.0 Lynn
07/23/13 7.0 Westbrook
07/20/13 8.0 Wainwright
07/19/13 5.0 Lynn
7.0 Wainwright 07/18/13
SIP*: innings pitched by starter
SP**: starting pitcher
to summarize a bit further (again, based on numbers after the All Star
Avg Inngs/start # of Starts
the fewer innings the starters compile, the more innings the bullpen
needs to pitch. With starter Jake Westbrook now on the Disabled list
with back stiffness, closer Edward Mujica indicating stiffness and
fatigue and staff ace Adam Wainwright throwing more pitches than any
other NL hurler, these are legitimate concerns. But are the Cardinals
alone in this concern?
this writing, St. Louis is tied with the Dodgers for most NL team
complete games (6). To compare and contrast, Cincinnati has four,
Pittsburgh 3 and Atlanta 1 team complete games, respectively. BTW: the
NL team average is 3 complete games as of 8/23/13.
at this writing, St. Louis is in the NL with 69 quality starts (when a
starting pitcher goes at least six innings while allowing three or
fewer runs). To compare and contrast, Cincinnati has 77,
Pittsburgh 63, Los Angeles 72 and Atlanta 8 team quality starts,
respectively. BTW: the NL team average is 68 quality starts as of
the Cardinals are not alone. Still, the question remains the same: what
will the team look like once October does arrive? And that leads to a
follow-up observation: we’ll see soon just how good that “young
pitching-rich talent” the local media has been boasting about really
now until September 8, the Red Birds will play NL playoff contenders.
From September 9 until the end of the season, they will play opponents
that currently have losing records. Said another way, if St. Louis can
weather these next two weeks, the schedule should be in their favor for
the stretch. In MLB’s brave new world, winning the division trumps a
play-in Wild Card game: especially for a team that boasted the best
record in the game for most of the season.
something highly unforeseen, the St. Louis Cardinals will qualify for
the 2013 National League Post-Season Playoffs. Will they be Divisional
Champs or a Wild Card team? Stay tuned
will likely come down to the pitching: again. And the follow-up
question remains the same:
what will the team’s pitching look like once October arrives?
Contact Mike at:
St. Louis Sports Online
Role Models in Radio; Role Models in Coaching?
always good radio to be found the day after the Philly Eagles lose.
That's because 97.5 The Fanatic employs long-time sports-talk radio pro
Tony Bruno, who, with wit and wisdom and alacrity, persuades most (but
not all) of his ever-insufferable listeners not to jump from the top of
the nearest tall building. The wonder of the internet brings Bruno and
his Philly-based station to anyone looking for an entertaining
similar vein, the Cardinals' flagship radio station, 'The Voice of St.
Louis' (TVoSTL), in the mid-afternoon of Wednesday, November 7, 2012,
supplied a great deal of potential.
callers alike on this station, during the mid-afternoon time slots,
lean right-of-center (ya think?!)...and the day before (November 6) was
of St. Louis' (TVoSTL) has always tilted a bit to the right.
example, you can bet the mortgage that long-time CBS VP Robert Hyland
had no use, in 1972, for most of the positions held by that year's
Democratic presidential nominee (George McGovern).
somehow, back in those days, the political views of the newsreaders and
hosts at TVoSTL were, if not difficult to ascertain...they were at
least restrained. Hyland himself voiced an occasional, usually
right-of-center 'editorial' in the early a.m. (before what is now
called morning-drive), but his opinions were not delivered with the
'in-your-face' and 'take-no-prisoners' mentality that a certain Cape
Girardeau-born nationally-syndicated personality (heard five days a
week on TVoSTL) has popularized.
'take-no-prisoners' approach to talk-radio has metastasized: in all
likelihood, the locally-based right-of-center show that commences on
TVoSTL at 2 pm (and other regional shows like it around the country)
would not exist were it not for the popularity of the
nationally-syndicated show that precedes it.
Tuesday, November 6, voters in Missouri re-elected Democratic senator
Claire McCaskill...while voters in the United States re-elected
President Barack Obama.
results virtually guaranteed that compelling mid-afternoon radio would
be found the next day on TVoSTL.
during the 2 o'clock hour on November 7, while discussing the election
results and a 60 Minutes TV segment that featured a chilly and forced
conversation involving US senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Harry
Reid (D-NV), TVoSTL's mid-afternoon local host chimed in with his own
view, agreeing with the notion that it would be hard for anyone
(including the Republican leadership in the US Senate) to work with
Reid, saying "Yeah, I hate Harry Reid too."
chuckled--I was right! Then I groaned and quite literally thought of
Robert Hyland, whose approach to radio is missed by many.
is gone, and a man with the golden EIB microphone has acolytes all over
the United States.
and groan was followed by a click, as I changed the station to a St.
Louis-based sports-talk station, whose update guy was discussing the
St. Louis University men's basketball program and its head-coaching
sports, and to SLU basketball in particular.
in the wake of what is apparently a life-threatening medical issue, SLU
head coach Rick Majerus has relinquished his coaching duties and has
been replaced, on an interim basis, by veteran basketball man Jim Crews.
played (1972-1976) and served as an assistant coach (1977-1985) at
Indiana for more than a decade while the Hoosiers were coached by Bob
Knight, was, beginning in 1985, a head coach at Evansville and then
Army, for 24 successive seasons (seventeen and seven years,
respectively), during which time his teams qualified for four NCAA
basketball perspective, SLU's athletics department is fortunate that
Majerus, prior to the 2011-12 season, was able to persuade Crews to
return to coaching and join his staff at SLU.
thinking about Crews, though, centers on a post-game press conference
held at the Arena at SIU-Carbondale, after an Evansville-SIUC game.
recall the outcome of the game. I don't remember anything about the
game itself. I'm not even certain as to the game's exact date, although
I am certain it was in the late 1990s.
What I do
recall, vividly, is being embarrassed, as a 1980 graduate of
Evansville, to be in the same room with Jim Crews, as he, while serving
as Evansville's head basketball coach, berated and
belittled...INTENTIONALLY...a young man who was apparently the Aces'
beat writer for the Evansville daily newspaper.
reporter, who didn't look a day over the age of thirty and did not at
all resemble the late Mike Wallace in demeanor, had the temerity to
politely ask a mundane question about something that had transpired
during the game he had just witnessed...a game that, as part of his job
description, he was required to describe to his paper's readers.
would have none of the reporter’s questions and the reporter did not
persist in asking them. Crews left the closet-sized room for the
comfort of his team's locker room, leaving most of the other half-dozen
or so in the tiny room shaking their heads. I do not recall, ever, in
person, witnessing a more childish, silly and needless display of (bad)
attitude by a person in a position of leadership.
that's not exactly true.
of months later (late in the decade of the 1990's), Bob Knight visited
Jupiter FL as a spring-training guest of his buddy, then-Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa.
pre-game session near the Roger Dean stadium first-base line, La Russa
and a horde of media left the area, and Knight and I remained in place,
alone for several minutes.
details are not important, suffice it to say that as Jim Crews was to
that Evansville-based basketball reporter, Bob Knight was to yours
was not interested in idle chat of any type that morning, and had a
rather direct way of expressing that perspective. Furthermore, his
approach is not likely to be found in the classic book 'How to Win
Friends and Influence People'.
No one can
deny the (broadcasting) excellence of Rush Limbaugh, in terms of
listenership and revenue generation. Limbaugh is a wealthy man and a
man of significant influence.
No one can
deny the (coaching) excellence of Bob Knight, in terms of four-year
player graduation rates and national championships. Bob Knight is in
basketball's Hall of Fame, and, like Limbaugh, a man of significant
effect of Limbaugh, on aspiring broadcasters...and the effect of
Knight, on aspiring coaches--it seems to me that the plusses and
minuses of those effects can (and should) be debated, in part because,
in fact, only a fraction of their work is on public display.
listeners hear, on the radio, from Limbaugh...is unique to him...and
impossible to duplicate. And what goes into Limbaugh's daily
'performance' is something unseen to his listeners; it is private.
Indeed, Limbaugh's private life is just that: private.
radio studios all over America, the talk-show posers try to imitate the
the clownsuit at 2 pm on TVoSTL. Click.
fans of college basketball saw of Knight, on the bench, was certainly
unique to him...and also impossible to duplicate. One can argue, I
think, that Bob Knight succeeded as a college basketball coach in spite
of his public demeanor, not because of it.
today, in high school and college gymnasiums all over America, the
coaching posers still try to imitate the General, in all his glory.
Bob Knight was dismissed, at Indiana, in September of 2000, after
physically accosting and verbally abusing an IU undergrad. It was,
according to the leadership at Indiana, the last in a long line of
missteps committed by Knight.
Jim Crews was dismissed, at Army, in September of 2009, under cloudy
circumstances that some said involved physically
accosting and verbally
abusing Army players (i.e. cadets). Crews’ offense was, according
to the athletic leadership at Army, the last in a string of missteps.
His dismissal came only a few weeks after signing a three-year contract
extension (with a two-year option), and just weeks before the start of
the college season.
years after his dismissal at Army, one hopes that Jim Crews emulates
the results associated with Bob Knight, and leaves out the General's
won't hunt in the genteel college basketball climate that is St. Louis
University, whose most successful modern-day coach (the late Charlie
Spoonhour) opened practices to the public at the old gym on Pine Street
and, for awhile, was arguably the most beloved sports figure in St.
was a site to see—while Spoonhour watched his team do 3-on-3 drills,
runners were circling the track above the court. Runners as in students
and faculty. Other athletes were exercising courtside, too…but there
was an excitement in the air: everybody wanted to be a part of
Spoonball—it was fun and all of St. Louis knew it.
that interim coach Jim Crews gets the memo.
Serves at the Pleasure...Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock.
the pleasure' is an interesting phrase and is often applied to the
Attorney General of the United States (who serves at the pleasure of
the President). 'Serves at the pleasure' also applies to a number
of jobs in sports.
In essence, 'serves at the pleasure' means 'don't get too comfy, Big
Among the many jobs in sports that 'serve as the pleasure' applies
to...is hitting coach for any of the thirty major league baseball teams.
In fact, with few exceptions, most baseball coaches (hitting, pitching,
bullpen etc.) at the major league level generally sign one-year
contracts and are evaluated at the end of each and every season.
In other words, MLB coaches 'serve at the pleasure' of their managers
and general managers...in part because the supply of men qualified to
be major league coaches far outstrips the demand for their services.
In addition, many MLB coaches crave all that is professional baseball,
and genuinely enjoy plying their trade at the major league level, so
much so that some of them would work in the big leagues without asking
for any financial compensation.
The position of hitting coach is among the most tenuous of all MLB
coaching jobs. Since the Joe Torre-as-manager era in St. Louis (just
over two decades), men serving as Cardinals' hitting coaches have
included Don Baylor, Chris Chambliss, George Hendrick, Dave Parker,
Mike Easler, Mitchell Page, Hal McRae, and, for the 2010, 2011, and
2012 seasons, Mark McGwire.
In other words, after three years or so, the average Cardinals' hitting
coach finds a new stadium and a new batting cage to call home.
In his three years as the Cards' hitting coach, Mark McGwire has
generally earned high praise from baseball insiders. McGwire and his
family make their primary residence in Orange County, California...a
short drive from 'Angel Stadium of Anaheim' (the home stadium of the
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and former Cards' slugger Albert Pujols)
and a longer drive (about fifty miles) from Dodger Stadium.
Early in Pujols' first season with the Angels, hitting coach Mickey
Hatcher (thirteen years experience) was fired. Long-time Angels'
minor-league hitting coach Jim Eppard was hired to replace Hatcher, and
early last month (October 2) it was announced that Eppard would return
On October 15, it was announced that the Dodgers fired their hitting
coach. As this is written (November 1), they have not named a
McGwire, in his first two seasons as hitting coach in St. Louis (2010
and 2011) essentially served at the pleasure of Tony La Russa, his
favorite manager as a player.
It was La Russa who championed McGwire's return to organized baseball
after an absence that was likely due to a combination of family
responsibilities (three sons, two born in the early 2000's) and the
stigma associated with his involvement in baseball's steroids scandal.
Then, early in McGwire's first season as the STL hitting coach, his
wife gave birth to triplets.
And at the conclusion of his second season (2011) as hitting coach (by
all measures a successful one as his students, including star pupil
David Freese, won the World Series), Tony La Russa, the man who, as
manager, brought him to St. Louis twice (first, as a player on July 1,
1997 and then as hitting coach prior to the 2010 season) announced his
To the surprise of some Cardinals' insiders, McGwire was asked to
return as the team's primary hitting instructor for the 2012 season. To
the surprise of some of those same insiders, McGwire accepted the offer
made by GM John Mozeliak, and signed on for a third season.
For the 2012 season, Mike Aldrete (the team's assistant hitting coach
in 2011) was promoted to the position of 'bench coach' for new manager
Mike Matheny, and three-time Cardinal John Mabry was hired as Aldrete's
McGwire and Mabry worked well together, and although the team's hitters
were, in baseball terminology, 'streaky', as a team they ranked among
the National League leaders in most offensive categories.
Mabry is well-liked by his students and possesses a firm but easy-going
demeanor. If his hiring for the 2012 season was viewed by GM Mozeliak
as insurance in case McGwire were to leave his post, well...you'd have
to think Mozeliak would be satisfied.
Meanwhile, on October 25th, Mozeliak announced that Dyar Miller would
not return as the team's bullpen coach in 2012.
No announcements were made about the rest of the Cardinals coaching
WDBX Sunday Sports Review
Intro mp3 #1
Ozzie Smith, Tony La Russa, Bruce Weber, Jerry Kill, Rich Herrin and
Charlie Spoonhour, and Joe Buck)
Intro mp3 #2
Jan Quarless, Rick Ankiel, Ron Caron, Walt Jocketty, Brian Jordan and
WDBX-FM Sunday Sports Review
Hockey in the Springtime: Game On!
posted March 24
late March here in the Gateway City. That means three things are on the
minds of local sports fans. First, late March means the Cardinals are
making final preparations for breaking their Spring Training camp and
heading north. Second, the NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing
and bracket watching/cursing continues.
it’s time to start paying attention to the National Hockey League and
particularly our town’s entry: the St. Louis Blues.
are entering the final month of the drudgery of the NHL regular season.
The sole purpose of this six-month ordeal is to thin the herd from
thirty teams to sixteen teams. Only in the National Hockey League do
you play six months of slugfest hockey so that 53.33% go to the
weekend the Blues punched their ticket. They will be one of those
sixteen invitees in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has been a very
good season for our local ice heroes. At this writing, St. Louis leads
the Central Division with 103 points: posting an overall record of
48-16-7. Local hockey fans now know there will be playoff tickets to
save up for. Local media may start growing their silly playoff beards
to help the cause.
history tells us that although the Blues again will be playing in the
NHL’s second season, the real question is: just how long will they be
around? In their first three seasons of existence, thanks to the
structure of the newly-expanded NHL, St. Louis reached the Stanley Cup
Finals. Since then it has not been so good. During most of the
following forty-two seasons since 1971 when they did make the playoffs,
the Note was knocked out in either the first or second rounds.
optimism exists by puck heads in the Show Me State. But history does
not lie. Do we know if the Blues will reach round three of the playoffs
will reach the third round of the playoffs for third time in 43
seasons? Do we know if they will reach the Cup Finals for the first
time since the Nixon administration? Heck, Red Schoendienst was the
Cardinal Manager and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was TV’s most
popular show the last time the Note played in the Finals.
instead getting all emotionally raveled, unshaven and joining the local
media on their cheerleading bandwagon, let’s see what we know and what
we do not know about our Blue.
know the Blues have a solid and successful Management team calling the
shots. All have successful track records. Let’s start at the top. The
team’s current Chairman Tom Stillman became the team’s NHL Governor on
May 9, 2012. Stillman is also the Chairman and CEO of Summit
Distributing: a St. Louis-based beer distributor. He entered the beer
business in 1994 with the acquisition of a local wholesaler and has
delivered steady growth and results. Stillman is also a bottom-line
businessman. Unlike his predecessor he announces actual attendance
totals for home games. While he is not afraid to spend money for
players to improve the product, Stillman makes it crystal clear that in
order for the Blues to be successful, all revenue streams, from season
tickets to luxury boxes to concessions to broadcasting rights must
justify the expenses.
another way, Tom Stillman is an upgrade from the smooth-talking Dave
also know that Ken Hitchcock is a successful NHL Head Coach. Now in his seventeenth NHL season, Hitchcock’s
career Head Coaching record is 653-398-88. His teams finished in first
place seven times and at this writing, his 2013-14 are in the top spot
in the Central Division. Hitchcock’s name is engraved on the Stanley
Cup as the Head Coach for the 1998-99 Champion Dallas Stars. Hitchcock
has an Olympic Gold Medal as the Assistant Coach for Canada’s
championship hockey team this year in Sochi. Hitchcock has represented Canada at international
competitions. He led his team to the Silver Medal at the 2008 World
Said another way, Ken Hitchcock is an upgrade from the
overmatched Davis Payne
also know that Doug Armstrong is a proven and successful NHL Executive.
Armstrong joined the Blues as the Executive Vice President and General
Manager on July 1, 2010. He was named President of Hockey Operations
and General Manager/Alternate Governor on September 4, 2013. Armstrong
was a part of the Stars’ organization after moving to Dallas in 1993.
He helped lead the franchise to two Presidents’ Trophies, two Western
Conference titles and the 1999 Stanley Cup championship. Armstrong
spent 17 years with Dallas: his final six
seasons as the club’s General Manager. The 49-year old Armstrong was
also a member of the Management Group that oversaw Canada’s 2014
Olympic Gold Medal winning hockey team.
Said another way, Doug Armstrong is an upgrade from local
media favorite John Davidson.
ergo and hence, all three men have successful resumes. That is what we
now brings us to the players. And that is what we don’t know.
past time for these Blues players that we have been told possess all
that potential to put up or shut up once and for all. Management has
provided tools and support. They went out and acquired Jay Bowmeester
and Ryan Miller. Management invested the money to lock down Bowmeester,
Alex Petroangelo and Alexander Steen. Management has provided the time,
talent and treasure. The Front Office has done its part.
now time (past time?) for the players to step up and prove once and for
all they are worthy. While I’m sure they are all good people, here’s
the bottom line. To date, this core group of players has not done it in
the playoffs. It’s time once and for all for David Backes to prove that
he is as much as a Blues Captain as Brian Sutter or Barclay Plager were
before him. It’s time once and for all for TJ Oshie, Steen, Patrick
Berglund, Barret Jackman and the rest not to be as invisible in the
playoffs as Keith Tkachuk was in prior first rounds. It’s time once and
for all for Petroangelo to demonstrate in the playoffs that he is
worthy of that big-money contract he held out for and if he can be
mentioned in the same breath as Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger.
and for all, it’s time. Can they do it? Yes--Will they do it? That is
what we do not know.
visitors to this space might recall these musings provided by this
bureau in early March.
areas concern me. Their first and/or second round opponent will likely
be some combination of the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, San
Jose Sharks and/or Anaheim Ducks. At this writing St. Louis is 0-2-1
versus Vancouver, 0-3-0 against Anaheim, 1-2-0 against Los Angeles and
0-3-0 against San Jose. Said another way in 2013-14 the Blues are
1-10-1 against their likely first and/or second round opponents. Said
even another way, ten of the Blues fourteen losses were against these
four Western Conference fraternity brothers.”
see if the addition of Ryan Miller and Steve Ott will change the
dynamics. Until then, in order for the Blues to avoid their normal fate
of a first or second round exit, the road to the Conference Finals will
go through the West Coast: at least once or twice.”
& not to sound snarky, remember these are still the St. Louis
Blues. Year in and year out when expectations are high, the Blues
always found some way not to get the job done. Local fans & media
have had their hearts broken more times than a teenage girl with a
sentiments remain unchanged. Here is what we know and what we don’t
late March and the St. Louis Blues are in the playoffs again. That we
will the Note last more than one or two rounds this time? That we don’t
way we need to answer those questions once and for all.
posted January 16
been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum twice. The
first time was a baseball-themed summer road trip with a bunch of my
buddies in 1986. The second was in the summer of 2000 as a graduation
present/trip with my stepson Dan. I’d love to return again and
Going to the Hall is truly a special visit. It’s like going to the Bat
Cave because there is only one highway into and out of town. Hidden in
the quaint and quiet terrain of upstate New York, the village of
Cooperstown provides the perfect setting to reflect and honor the game
While there are many floors and wings of displays, history and
memorabilia throughout the Hall, the primary focus is the Gallery on
the first floor. This is where the plaques of the Hall of Famers are
hung. With its high ceilings, marble floors and columns, you get the
feel of a place of honor when you enter the Gallery. Inside I was taken
by the reverent silence. It seems those in the room felt it would be
highly disrespectful to raise one’s voice. To those who appreciate the
game of Baseball, the sleepy village of Cooperstown, New York is
Last week the Hall of Fame voted in three new members. Greg Maddux was
arguably the best pitcher of the early and mid-1990s. A four-time Cy
Young award and eighteen-time Gold Glove winner, Maddux won 355 games
in his career, posting a 3.16 career earned run average while appearing
in thirteen post-seasons. With 305 victories and over 2,600 strikeouts
in his twenty-two year career, two-time Cy Young Award winner Tom
Glavine was one of the most dominating left-handers of his era. For
nineteen seasons, blasting 521 career home runs, a career .301 batting
average and a two-time AL Most Valuable player, Frank Thomas was one of
the most feared hitters in the American League. There is no question
all three in this class of 2014 are each well deserving of the honor.
But today in 2014, because of the big elephant in the room, the
excitement of the Hall of Fame announcement is diminished. Because of
the big elephant in the room, rather than celebration, there is bitter
debate and finger-pointing. Because of the big elephant in the room,
more emphasis these days are focused on those not in the Hall rather
than those just elected.
And the name of that big elephant is spelled PED.
Performance enhancing drugs, or steroids if you prefer, have entered
into and at times overshadowed the Hall of Fame debate. While the
exploits of Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are celebrated, the achievements
of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael
Palmiero are argued. To add even more spice, the traveling reality show
known as Alex Rodriguez continues to spawn: most recently on the
national stage of the highly-respected news show 60 Minutes with the
anchor of the CBS Evening News as the lead questioner.
No one in the baseball history has hit more career home runs than
Bonds. Only two pitchers in the game’s history have struck out more
than the 4,672 batters Clemens fanned in his career. McGwire and Sosa
each have hit more than 575 career home runs. Palmeiro hit 569 career
home runs while accumulating 3,020 career hits. At this writing,
Rodriquez has hit 654 career home runs and 2,939 career hits. Back in
the day, these accomplishments provided practically automatic and
immediate entry into Cooperstown. But today the big elephant is
But none of them are in. Right or wrong, confirmed or rumored, verified
or suspected, Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro and Rodriguez
have been linked to performance enhancing drugs. As such, the
self-proclaimed arbitrators of virtue, the voters in the Baseball
Writers Association of America, have to pick up the pieces and make
sense of all of this. To date, those voters have decided that despite
all their lofty numbers and despite all but A-Rod were never suspended
& are considered in good standing, those players do not deserve
entry into the Hall.
Meanwhile, as seen with the blowback from Rodriguez’ 60 Minutes
segment, the Lords of Baseball are piling on to prove a point. They are
shocked—they say, shocked.
Unfortunately, if the Lords are not responsible for this mess, at
minimum, they are enablers.
Let’s go back twenty years. In August 1994, a player’s strike regarding
the league’s collective bargaining agreement shut the game down.
Ultimately, this action did something Adolf Hitler could not do: cancel
the World Series. In the following months, both sides sniped at each
other with no agreement in sight. In the spring of 1995, then-New York
Judge now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary
injunction to in essence end the strike. With the ruling the game was
back. But the fans weren’t. It seems the betrayed ticket-buying
baseball public found other things to do and other outlets to spend
their money on as the strike lingered.
Baseball was in a bad place. Enter the great home run chase of 1998.
McGwire and Sosa went head-to-head in pursuit of the most revered
record in sport: Roger Maris’ single-season home run mark. The World
Wide Leader of Cable Sports Broadcasting beamed their long flies from
sea to shining sea. McGwire and Sosa’s faces were displayed on national
sport & non-sport publications. Fans came in droves to watch these
guys hit a baseball. Visiting stadiums would sell out when the McGwire
or Sosa show came to town. In 1998, the Cardinals finished in third
place in the NL Central with a record of 83-79: nineteen games out of
first place. Still, over three million fans paraded through the Busch
Stadium II turnstiles that season, primarily and specifically to watch
Mark McGwire hit long flies while spending money along the way.
In a May 26, 2009 piece, Richard Sandomir of the New York Times wrote:
“The players strike wiped out the playoffs and the World Series in
1994. It wounded the sport so deeply that baseball needed the record
endurance of Cal Ripken, Jr. and the home runs of Mark McGwire &
Sammy Sosa, whose slugging is now retroactively tainted, to recover its
equilibrium and popularity”.
I remember two things vividly covering those 1998 games: 1) the
incredibly long lines of people at the gates waiting to get in to
witness Mc Gwire take batting practice, and 2) the mass exodus late in
ballgames once the slugger took his final swings of the night:
regardless of the score.
To baseball purists, the home run chase was a side show. But that side
show lured fans and their wallets back to the ball parks. Fast forward
to 2014, since 1998, sixteen of the thirty MLB franchises have
constructed new stadiums. Teams are getting even richer with lucrative
local cable television deals. In 2012 and in 2013, twenty-three teams
drew over 2 million fans at home and nine of those twenty –three
franchises drew over 3 million fans at home during those two seasons.
It’s safe to say that financially, Major League Baseball has likely
never been stronger.
And this upswing can be directly correlated to the McGwire/Sosa home
run chase: a benchmark that would be eclipsed by Bonds a few years
later. Now, all three are considered the poster boys of a dark era.
Meanwhile, the owners became enormously richer while criticizing the
Is there hypocrisy here? As that news channel might say, we report, you
In 2005, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was grilled, slapped around and
shamed by a Congressional Committee led by Senator John McCain over
performance enhancing drugs and the game of baseball. Many of the
game’s superstars testified, stuttered, cried and even forgot how to
speak English. The Lords then changed their tunes. But the money kept
It’s ironic: while McGwire, Sosa and Bonds’ exploits jump-started the
game, their chances for admission into the Hall are dwindling.
Meanwhile, Selig who oversaw and arguably turned a blind eye to the PED
environment within baseball during the late 1990s/early 2000s will
likely be welcomed into the Hall on the first ballot.
In the baseball-themed musical Damn Yankees, lead character Joe Hardy
made a deal with the devil for success and riches. You can decide if
the stage mirrors reality. When it comes to the Hall of Fame and the
PED era, you would think Baseball shouldn’t have it both ways.
Yet, the Lords, their ambassadors and the players likely feel they
can—because they can.
Yep, it would be fun to return to Cooperstown again: particularly this
summer when Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and former managers Tony La Russa,
Joe Torre and Bobby Cox are inducted. And while it would be worth the
The place will likely just not look the same.
thoughts & observations as we pause to reflect on what we are truly
thankful for: and it won’t be found on a diamond, field, court or rink
Football and Brent Musburger will be coming to Columbia, Missouri for a
Saturday night prime-time extravaganza. Yeah, it indeed must be a big
Speaking of Ol’ Mizzou, they just have to be busting their buttons with
pride over the recent press stories about that fun bunch of future
alumni known as the Antlers.
Suggestion to Shane Robinson: rent, don’t buy your St. Louis summer
Isn’t this the same Gary Pinkel that last year was supposed to be run
out of town on a rail?
AND FINALLY FROM THE “THANKSGIVINGS PAST” BUREAU: In the mid-1970’s for
some reason, that rich & arrogant cartel better known as the
National Football League decided to play two Thanksgiving day games in
St. Louis. In 1974, the then-St. Louis Football Cardinals would host
Miami and in 1975, Buffalo would come to town. In the first game, many
fans fled Busch Stadium II at halftime as Bob Greise and the Dolphins
blew out the Big Red. The following year was more memorable as on the
night before, a heavy snowfall blanketed the Gateway City. For some
reason the football Cardinals and Stadium Management chose not to clear
the snow from the aisles and walkways. So as fans arrived they cleared
snow from their seats while plopping their feet in wet slush. Once
again the Cardinals laid an egg and were losing significantly. Midway
through the second half, fans were getting bored and were looking for
some amusement. To that end, some highly-intoxicated patron fired a
snowball from the upper deck in the general direction of the Cardinal
bench to voice his displeasure of the action on the field.
Unfortunately, the hurled snowball did not make it to the field. It hit
an equally highly-intoxicated patron in the field box. Naturally, that
fan retaliated and before you can say “I’ll take another drumstick,
please”, the biggest snowball fight Gateway City history was unfolding
to a national audience while the football game continued on the field.
After that event, the League scheduled future Thanksgiving Day games in
Random thoughts &
observations as the Gateway City and the heat and humidity reintroduce
themselves days before Labor Day
Louis Post-Dispatch Hockey Writer Jeremy Rutherford writes, “If St.
Louis Blues fans want to attend the club’s three 2013-14 meetings
against Chicago or Detroit, or even the season opener Oct. 3, they must
purchase a larger ticket package. For fans who aren’t already Blues’
season-ticket holders, to see the Blackhawks on Oct. 9 or Dec. 28, or
the Red Wings on Apr. 13, they will need to buy one of the following:
full-season tickets, half-season tickets, a 12-game plan or a hat-trick
(three-game) plan. A perk for season-ticket holders, which is part of
the club’s plan, is allowing them to buy additional tickets for those
specific single games. The club, which currently has about
an 80 percent renewal rate on season tickets from last season, is
counting on the new policy increasing its sale of season tickets.
“We’re hoping that, for sure,” Team President Bruce Affleck said.”
Really? So that’s the spin, eh? It should be noted the Chicago Black
Hawks have a waiting list of 11,000 for season tickets. In Detroit, Red
Wing tickets are tough to find. So this bureau offers this silly yet
simple suggestion. Perhaps the Blues should set their sights of not
being knocked out in the first or second round of the Stanley Cup
Playoffs. The ripple effect of that on the ice success should
eventually “get the red out”.
Speaking of our ice heroes, in light of last year’s work stoppage,
inquiring minds wonder just how many members of the St. Louis Blues
and/or members of the National Hockey League Players Association will
be participating in this year’s Labor Day parade.
It’s time to play “fun with numbers”: as of morning of 8/26/13, the
Cardinals are 57-8 when outhit opponents, they are 21-28 in games when
they commit at least one error and the Red Birds are 64-12 when score
more than three runs
Has it really been 36 years ago when Lou Brock stole his career 893rd
base, breaking Ty Cobb's MLB career record, on August 29, 1977 in the
7th inning against the Padres in San Diego?
AND FINALLY FROM THE “YOU CAN’T BEAT FUN AT THE OL’ BALL PARK” BUREAU:
The Miami Marlins’ poor win/loss records means the front office has to
come up with creative ideas to put butts in the seats. To that end, we
present “Legends of Wrestling Night at Marlins Park”. Fox Sports
Florida picks up the story from here. “Saturday's game between the
Marlins and Rockies started off with a ceremonial first pitch. There’s
nothing out of the ordinary about that. But then, former
wrestling superstar Goldberg, who was the one to unleash that first
throw, turned the evening on its head when he delivered his signature
move to a man wearing a Rockies hat and a purple shirt. The wrestlers
also sang during the 7th inning stretch. And there was the heel turn
during the Sea Creature Race that left Julio the Octopus worse for the
Random thoughts & questions as the Stanley Cup playoffs
begin and Cinco de Mayo will start five days later
again I am rolling my eyes listening to local hockey fans and media
bloviate on the Blues securing the 4th place in the Conference for home
ice advantage in Round One. Forgive my skepticism, but didn’t the Blues
have home ice advantage for Rounds 1 & 2 last season?
In this bureau’s opinion, Rick Horton teamed with John Rooney is
absolutely excellent radio and a first class broadcast. Also, in this
bureau’s opinion, Jim Edmonds has been a refreshing addition to the
apologists of Fox Sports Midwest. It is especially refreshing that to
some of the FSM regulars seem not very comfortable with Jimmy Baseball
on the set.
Should the Detroit Red Wings make the NHL playoffs, all of the original
six of the NHL teams will qualify for the playoffs.
It’s amazing how much influence the World Wide Leader in Cable Sports
Programming has? Case in point: during Thursday’s broadcast of that
rich & arrogant cartel better known as the National Football
League’s draft of college players, teams “on the clock” held off their
announcement until the ESPN commercials have finished airing.
AND FINALLY FROM THE “OLD FRIENDS IN DIFFERENT PLACES” BUREAU: With the
end of April approaching, it might be fun to check in with a few of our
former heroes. On the morning of the final Saturday of April, Kyle
Lohse is 1-1 with a 2.52 earned run average in 25 innings pitched.
Meanwhile, Lance Berkman is batting .333 in 80 plate appearances with 2
home runs and 15 runs batted in.
St. Louis Sports Online
Blackhawks, Kings and Blues
year's Stanley Cup tournament, how, exactly, did the Blackhawks defeat
the Kings? And why did the Kings vanquish the Blues?
week, in the fifth game of their best-of-seven Western Conference
championship playoff series, the Blackhawks of Chicago defeated the
Kings of Los Angeles. The winning goal was scored in the game’s second
overtime period and made the score 4-3 (advantage Chicago).
with Blackhawk wins in the first, second and fourth games of the
series, the victory resulted in the end of the Kings’ reign as Stanley
Cup champions, as they were defeated by Chicago four-games-to-one.
series-clinching double-overtime goal was scored by Hawks’ winger
was born in Buffalo NY, beat all-world LA goalie Jonathan Quick with a
medium-range one-timer reminiscent of Hall of Fame snipers Jari Kurri
and Mike Bossy.
Kane’s third goal of the game…and added to his reputation as one of the
NHL’s premier finishers.
series-clinching goal was the successful culmination of a two-on-one
break, as he and superstar center Jonathan Toews skated toward the
Kings’ net with only LA defenseman Rob Scuderi between them and goalie
puck-carrying Toews quickly but patiently approached Quick on the
left-wing side before cleanly passing the puck to Kane, who lagged
behind Toews a fraction of a second on the right side of the rink.
perfect set-up from Toews was, in a blink-of-the-eye, buried by
Kane--and an Original Six Stanley Cup final between Chicago and Boston
prepares to do battle with Boston, a look back at the Blues’ last two
playoff losses (both to LA) as well as the Blackhawks’ recent victory
over LA is warranted.
Chicago’s series with LA, commentators referenced the hard-hitting and
physical nature of the Kings-Blues opening round series. LA’s players
noted that their six games with the Blues were more physical than
either subsequent battles with San Jose or with Chicago.
nhl.com stats suggest that the Blues (with 40 hits per game) virtually
matched the Kings (41 hits per game) hit-for-hit, in their six game
series, while the Blackhawks, in their five game series with the Kings,
were outhit (per game) 44-32.
numbers sink in, puckheads. The Blues were as physical as the Kings
(but lost), while the Blackhawks were not as physical as the Kings (and
So why did
Chicago have success against Los Angeles?
speed and skill.
about that the next time a so-called hockey know-it-all says that the
only thing keeping the Blues from playoff success…is their lack of
It just is
not true. In the 21st Century version of NHL hockey, speed and skill
win games and win championships.