Sunny Side Up

As the winter sky fades away grudgingly every day, the sun appears brighter and longer for us each day. If you’ve had the opportunity to sneak away to Florida at this time of the year, the difference is refreshing and striking. Well….we DO have plenty of bright things going on around us here in the Lou…
…There is optimism….yet some grousing…over the Cards. We’ve been spoiled for a long time now…12x post season and 4 World Series (2-2) in the new millennium….we’ve missed it the last 2 years….and many of us are whining….stop for a sec….do you know how lame that sounds to fans in Philly, Cincy, Angels, Mariners, White Sox, Atlanta and many other MLB franchises . I’m not predicting a World Series Parade in Oct 2018 but we WILL have another competitive team that should be in the playoff considerations. Their play gets the Lou fans emotionally involved…and entertained…Let’s enjoy the ups & downs provided by the Cards in 2018.
….this week the Blues traded Paul Stastny…there was an immediate outcry….you would have thought that we traded Brett Hull in the highlight of his career…I thought it was a good move and enhanced future prosperity….1) Stastny was in the final year of his contract…he would have walked away at the end of the season 2) his production had dipped noticeably of late…1 point in last 5 games & just 4 goals since Jan 1; 3) His playing time had been cut back to the lowest totals of the season in his last 2 games (16:17 & 16:34) 4) Blues were floundering in the midst of a long losing streak 5) It was apparent by the move that GM Armstrong concedes that this team is NOT a Stanley Cup contender…maybe …. maybe ….a playoff team…. but not a genuine contender for the Cup. Some of the players moaned his departure…. too bad….their extremely poor play in recent weeks dictated this move. I suspect that Stastny will be rejuvenated on a Winnipeg team that seems to have momentum….so be it… we can only judge him on what he was doing right now …here in the Blues uny….I wish him luck but agree with Armstrong….look ahead.
….let’s appreciate the strides made @ SLU basketball….after 3 sub .500 years, Travis Ford ….despite losing almost all of his highly touted 2017 recruiting class, that was rated as the best of the A-10—Jordan Goowin & Hasahn French and transfers Adonys Henriqauez, DJ Formen, Javon Bess & Ty Graves…has pushed this team to a 16-14 record, tied for 5th in A-10 @ 9-9. With Ford’s recruiting prowess, it will more than likely jump the Bills up into the upper echelon of the A-10
…seemingly always quietly successful on the basketball court, the Washington U Bears Men’s Team piled up another strong year with a 22-4 record this year … Congratulations to the team & school for integrating sports into the educational program….not the other way around 
….Yadier Molina has been the epitome of what Cardinal fans want in a player….he plays every day.. much to the chagrin of some current fans who want Kelly used more often….. his attitude seem to demonstrate happiness at being here in the LOU…could you imagine him anywhere else?…..his batting—while not glossy numbers often provides key hits in critical spots of games. I will concur that his defensive skills have slipped…. the official scorekeepers @STL don’t have the word “passed ball” in their vocabulary…it’s ALWAYS a wild pitch…but his ability to frame pitches is of the highest quality and his skills at “setting up” batters is terrific…..let’s continue to enjoy Yadi … a recent poll of writers….. Yadi was rated #5 in MLB catchers for 2018…
….another basketball success is in Columbia…Cuonzo Martin’s hiring and the subsequent hiring of Asst Coach, Michael Porter Sr opened up the Tigers to having the entire Porter clan moving to CoMO… talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse….Michael Porter Jr may actually be on the court soon…but not for long….the NBA will be grabbing him (if reports are accurate) in the spring draft.. JonTay is transitioning to collegiate basketball…as a matter of fact…I wish that they’d get HIM the ball late in the game..let the guards bring it up and then find JonTay….I believe that the “end of the game” issues for the Tigers would be alleviated. Don’t forget his daughters, Bri & Cierra , are integral parts of the Mizzou Womens’ basketball team. Mizzou is 20-11 now, 10-8 in SEC…tied with Kentucky…let that sink in….tied with Kentucky….a team that seemed eons ahead of us over our time in the SEC….With this immediate turn-around, I anticipate Mizzou having a banner year in recruiting this spring.
…optimism in other parts of CoMO…Head Baseball Coach Steve Bieser has the baseball Tigers off to an 9-3 start…yes… baseball does play in February! Last year the Tigers went 36-23 in Biesers’s 1st year at the helm.
…..maybe my eyes aren’t seeing it right….I am not real confident about the Cards rotation…but…in a report compiled by “Expert Consensus Ranking (32 of 33 Experts) – Mar 1, 2018”, you find Cards starters rated in this manner in the NL ….Martinez #9, Luke Weaver #20,Michael Wacha #30,Alexander Reyes #34,Miles Mikolas #39…I have to admit …I wonder about the credibility of this “group of experts” when they list Mikolas #39 in the NL  ….but… is encouraging!
….after Mikolas’ early disappointing showings in Florida…..I’m optimistic that he’ll be moved to the bullpen and maybe become the “bridge man” that I’ve hoped to see in recent years….Bridge Man= 2-3 innings of early relief…attempting to get to the 9th inning with only ONE bullpen man
…Missouri held their HS districts in class 4-5 last week…excitement and enthusiasm reign during this week…..some observations on boys basketball..
…..getting hot at the right time…seeded #4 Bishop Tolton (Columbia, MO) with an 11-13 record in Class 3, Dist 9….Tolton won easily in round 1, upset the #1 seed Blair Oaks 49-48 in the semis and won the district easily over our friend, Ben Smith’s team–St. James 65-41
…being at the right place, right time…in Class 4, District 10…only one team was over .500 at the start of district…the Webb City Cardinals were voted the #1 seed with a 13-12 record
…most exciting district championship…Class 4, District 1…Sikeston(25-2) 47 Cape Central 46 (23-5)
…in the Class 4 District 3 title game…a game between two of the top ranked “small” schools in St. Louis in front of a packed, highly enthusiastic crowd…the team that I’m lucky enough to cover..#4 St. Mary’s Dragons(26-3) missed their first 6 or 7 shots but then caught on fire…and kept the fire blazing until the final buzzer with a convincing 91-64 win over the #3 ranked team Confluence Prep Academy now 23-5. It was the 1st loss of the season by the Titans to any Missouri team. On a predominantly Senior team @SM, Jr point guard Yuri Collins led the way…19 pts, 4 reb, 6 assists and 2 steals. Seniors Tony Burks & Yahuza Rasas were also major factors also….Burks had 18 pts, 4 boards, 3 ast, 3 steals…. Rasas 13 pts, 9 rebound, 3 st, 6 blocks. The Dragons face 2x defending Champion, Vashon Tuesday @ Parkway West HS… a team that they lost to last year in overtime in the same Sectional round.
…spring football is the epitome of optimism….carrying the ball to the next level…let’s look at the top 4 incoming Frosh @ Mizzou who have already raised expectations…in an area that needs replenishing… Dback Chris Mills; Running back- Simi Bakare…two productive runners in front of him….so look for him early in the cupcake games to see how he produces; WR Kam Scott—speed merchant from Tx; Special Teams – Dominic Gicinto..just 5-9, 170…so he BETTER be able to run …
…Scott Frost HAS to be thrilled….he was just hired @his alma mater-Nebraska after developing Cen Florida into a national power….but …according to some he has the toughest schedule in the country… the Cornhuskers are on the road against Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Ohio State & Iowa… Nebraska also has as non-conference foes a revitalized Colorado program and Troy…one of those unknows…who beat LSU last year.
….I have to tip my hat to the SEC….if you can find a way to make money…they do it….so in the 14 team SEC… a logical brackets would have been a 16 team brackets with 2 byes for the top 2 teams… but no….let’s stretch it out to 5 days…go to 2 Wednesday games when the televised schedule is light…more SEC coverage…’s a 32 team bracket with only 2 games in the 1st round and the top four teams getting byes…missing 3 school days for a conference tourney…no big deal
….I think that the Cards are sly…and optimistic… about their real intentions of succeeding Yadi…. catcher Andrew Knizner hit .302/.349/.471 with 23 doubles & 12 dingers last year in his 1st full pro season and jumped all the way up to Double-A…..maybe ….just maybe… HE’S the one! His meteoric rise may have given the Cards pause and 2nd thoughts on Carson Kelly?
…Senior ceremonies vary from school to school…..I’m optimistic the SLU will consider modifying their current approach…AFTER the tough Billiken loss to St. Bonaventure 64-56…SLU held their SR ceremony… Travis Ford gave excellent praise to his band of seniors in his talk to the crowd….but it was AFTER the game….I’m proposing …optimistically…that on the SR game day….it doesn’t HAVE to be the last game…that SLU schedule back-back women-men games…or…men-women games ….let the ceremony be held between the games….1 ticket admission for both games
…optimism is high on the UMSL campus as they celebrate the terrific Women’s Season…notching their 21st win in the 1st round of the GLVC Tournament marked some significant achievements… 6th year Head Coach, Kate Vaughn became the winningest coach in the history of the program with her 98th win. Coach Vaughn recorded her second 21 win season @ UMSL. One of her players, Jordan Fletcher moved into the 4th all-time scoring spot in UMSL women’s history. Fletcher passed up Kim Cooper (88-92) who was at the 1270 mark.
….hopefully, we’ve made your day a bit more optimistic… week I’ll be back to my usual snarky, contrarian, tell it like it is…. self…..have an optimistic week 

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