Every sports team…every sport….has a cycle……the start…maybe called the “birth” of a cycle…. and…. the end …or “death” of the cycle….let’s take a close look at both ends..
….Cards obtain Greg Holland to be “born again” in the 18 Card bullpen…..I wondered why his signing came so late…. Sure….the $14m seems high to us “everyday” Joe’s but in the world of MLB….it’s a nice salary … but not extravagant…so why so late? After some digging….apparently, last year…coming after a year off due to arm issues… Holland was absolutely terrific through May…he struck out nearly half the batters he faced and “closed” out several wins which led to a great month for the Rockies…in June, his slide began as his command began to erode and his arm weakened. He issued walks to 18% of the batters he faced that month, surviving primarily by not giving up any home runs and running a solid .240 BABIP (batting avg on balls in play). July saw further decline while his walks dropped to 13% of the batters (slightly over 1 walk for every 9 batters) but his BABIP jumped to .280. In August, Holland’s ERA of 15.43 …says volumes and his strikeout rate dropped to 18%…..sooooo…..anytime a pitcher returning from an arm injury sags from great to horrible over a very short period of time….one has to wonder if his arm just doesn’t have it any longer…….sooooo#2……looks like we’ll have Holland closing in April, May, June and the crossover to Jordan Hicks in July as Hicks becomes accustom to becoming a “closer in the early months of 2018. All of a sudden .. ..that $14m for 3+ months of closing seems steep….but if it works and the Cards reach the paradise of playoff baseball…it’s all worth it….at least that’s the Cards brass idea.
…suddenly…just prior to the Holland acquisition….. racing onto the scene with a terrific outing in the waning days of spring training…..against the Nationals……Jordan Hicks was born into the “big show”. No one had questioned his ability to whip the ball in there around 100mph but the maturity process of the 21 year old needed some development….maybe more so than his pitching Now…Holland will give him 3 months to “grow up”
….in the NCAA, two teams met the end of their season……the early extremely fast pace even as the Wolverines fell behind allowed the deeper bench of Michigan and the unstoppable work of the huge post man proved too much for the darlings of the dance, Loyola….Michigan was better that night….and probably would beat Loyola 8/9 of 10 times…none the less …. a terrific season for the Ramblers of Loyola. They added enthusiasm and freshness to the tournament. Villanova jumped on the Jayhawks early….established a comfortable margin and drove the ship home with a strong finish. Around Kansas…where Jayhawk basketball team is king….fans were moaning the end of a season …one game too soon.
…..the 2017-18 NCAA tournament….in addition to the Loyola underdog story…brought some new, fresh stories.. looking a few ironical stories….Michigan needed a 3pt-30 ft shot by Frosh Jordan Poole to steal a game away from Houston 64-63 earlier in the tournament…Poole had not made a 3-pointer in the previous 5 games and played in a total of 11 minutes in the 2 games following his “saving” shot….for the 1st time EVER…a #16 topples a #1 as UMBC..sounds like a bank… ran past, over, around Virginia 74-54. The Retrievers were ranked #188 in one nationwide poll while Virginia held the #1 spot in the polls for several weeks…so how many fans ACTUALLY chose UMBC to win in their brackets? In the Capital One March Madness Bracket Challenge Game, that number was 2.18 percent of our brackets….to me….that actually seems very high…guess I’ll have to stop flipping coins to choose winners in the NCAA …Conspiracy theory of the day—-does anyone else wonder that some of the “big name” good…but not great NCAA teams are left out of NCAA so as to compete in the NIT…which is owned by NCAA. In the NIT title game–Penn State beat Utah….Penn State beat Ohio State 3x this year…yet the Nittany Lions played in New York as they snatched the NIT Championship while Ohio State was chosen for the NCAA…the one & done corp… especially Michael Porter Jr…didn’t lead their teams to the “promise land”
…..Unfortunately…the end of major league careers often occur each March & April….here a couple recognizable names reassigned/released by Cards in recent days who have seen their last days in a Cardinal uniform…..
Alex Mejia, INF up for a cup of coffee last year now REASSIGNED
Jordan Schafer trying to make the club as an OF & RP RELEASED-trying out for 2 positions indicated to you…. immediately …..that he wasn’t strong enough in EITHER position
Jason Motte, RP RELEASED— overmatched by all the other young arms and his old arm
…..But making the team….as a new “birth” was Francisco Peña— made the club in the “traditional” Tony Cruz role—backup with no hopes of ever being a #1…guess we’ll have these type of guys until Yadi decides to retire.
….The beginning of any season….or event….brings our friends from Vegas into the picture as they wager on this, that or anything..so….the prognosticators’ listed their projected number of wins for each team recently for 2018..
Houston 97.5….how can you win .5 games?; LA Dodgers 96.5; NYY/Indians 94.5; Cubs 93.5;
Washington 92.5; Red Sox 91.5; Cards/AZ 85.5 Looks like we’re wild card according to these ratings
…..the Blues have come back to life….seemingly dead just 2 weeks ago … despite losing the last 2 games, the Blues reignited their hopes had won 6 straight wins and 8 victories in the last 10 games prior to dropping the last 2 games. Allen has regained his “touch” around the net. Three veterans seem “reborn” of late….Tarasenko has 10 points in his last 11 games (four goals, six assists)…. Schwartz has 13 points in his last 12 games (four goals, nine assists)…. Steen has 10 points in his last 11 games (three goals, seven assists). Not to be overlooked in this “coming back to life” is the play of the defensemen’s offensive effectiveness. Pietrangelo is pushing the offensive button more and more often. His anticipation of opponents passes & plays often borders on the spectacular. Alex Pietrangelo has 18 points in 24 career games (two goals, 16 assists). The solid return of Joel Edmundson & Robert Bortuzzo have given a bit longer breather for Colton Parayko….and as a fan….even though I agreed with the fans….it’s good to hear “Lets Go Blues” again…. instead of the boos for a couple weeks ago. After these last 2 losses, the season is down to just 4 games now are still 1 point out of the playoffs….it’s in the Blues hands.
….while we’re on the ice…..the Dallas Stars….who jumped out to a wonderful start to the 2018 season….have faltered of late…inching closer & closer to the final day of the regular season as being the END of their season. Coach Ken Hitchcock has seen his team go 2-6-2 in the last 10 games while falling 5 points behind the Blues….and currently…out of the running for the rebirth of the new season—called the playoffs.
….it seems like the LA Rams are burying the LA Raiders even now….the Rams are signing “star” quality players with swagger and reached the post season last year…..meanwhile, the Raiders seem to be sneaking in the back door in LA….very quietly….not a good way to start your season ticket sale drive.
…two games doesn’t make a season….160 still to go…but some of the defensive skills and strategy shown by the Cards in these first 2 games are all too reminiscent of the past couple years…attempting a 3rd to 1st double play; Pham practically running over Ozuna to make a catch….don’t kid yourself…..Matheny is still pulling the strings on the bullpen…Maddux or no Maddux…..granted the Mets are a tough team to start the season against because of their steller starting staff…but….the first 2 installments of the 2018 season reads like a remake of 2017 ….again!
….Mizzou baseball chartered some new waters as for the 1st time the Tigers won a baseball series over Mississippi State… a perennial SEC power program….Tigers now 19-6 won the final game of the series in the 11th inning after rallying from a 4-2 deficit going into the bottom of the 9th…..Mizzou is currently rated #25 in national polls
…..in high school…..we turn to beginning of spring sports….Holt baseball (5-1) won the challenging Troy tournament… a tourney that requires deep pitching quality with 4 separate pools that funnel the teams into playing for 1st, 5th, 9th or 13th place playoffs…..Holt went 2-1 in their pool then edged CBC 5-3 in the semis and won the championship over Timberland 7-5. Mgr Adam Joel had 4 hitters batting over .400 during the week—Drew Law, Braedon Mathys, Nick Wilke and Jacob Thompson. So…..while these games were in week 1….and don’t won’t mean anything during district play in May….but….it does point towards Holt as a team to watch in 2018.
….on the girls side of high school sports…..the Columbia Eagles have jumped off to an 8-1 start. The Eagles are led by high scoring forward, Jr. Kennedy Jones. Jones leads the area in scoring with 16 goals this season. Feeding Jones with with 7 assists is Chloe Graff and Reagan Mauch who has 5 helpers. Last year Jones led the Eagles in scoring with 22 goals as they compiled a 19-3-1 record.
…sooo…which player has the longest consecutive opening days with the same team…..he’s “born again” every year on this day….Yadi Molina—his 14th with the Cards..Adam Jones is next with 11 openers with the Orioles.
….that’ll bring an end to my thoughts…..for now….but we always invite your NEW and differing ideas…put them right below the article….