Contenders & Pretenders

Hottest team in the MLB BY FAR right now..and now a contender… is the St. Louis Cardinals…winner of 10 straight series….the Cards have blended a plethora of youth into their pitching corp, rebuilt the confidence of some key young field players, began using the run game offensively, established a very sound “up the middle” defense, found a defensive place for a very good hitter in 2018 (Martinez) so that he can play most days, managed the bullpen in a manner that they ARE USED effectively but aren’t overused in repeated days. Several clubs went out to purchase veterans to attempt to fill immediate, short-term needs for the month of September….often the thought is…if this guy can help us win just 2 or 3 games, he’s worth it. The Cards used their farm system to restructure their roster (much…much cheaper) I don’t want to sound negative…..but don’t go bonkers on every young Cardinal player who’s succeeding right now… let the league get a “book” on them and THEN…see how the young player adapts. MLB is all about adapting to the opposition…but …it sure is fun watching the Birds right now.
Late Moves Around the MLB for contenders and pretenders…
…Pirates ..showing that they are pretenders…sent David Freese to the Dodgers to “ give him an opportunity to pursue a World Series championship this season,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.…cut me a break.. he doesn’t need that experience ….what he did in 2011 in StL world series will NEVER be forgotton by the Cardinal fans ..he was the NLCS MVP and his game winning Home RUN has become a Cardinal Classic Moment…the Pirates simply were looking to cut payroll and look to 2019..btw…Freese is hitting .282, OPS of .780, 42 rbi in just 241 AB….weren’t the CARDS looking for a backup 3B?
…the Dodgers…hoping to become a contender… did reshape their roster around the deadline time….Manny Machado was brought on board…I think he’s overrated….yes…many HR’s …flashy …. But does he do it in the clutch? Brian Dozier.. acquired from Minnesota for middle infield help, John Axford…man, his resume is really becoming long and now David Frese….so much for the always hyped LA farm system…LA is chasing the D-Backs and the Rockies as they scramble for a wild card spot…
….Seattle…a long-term pretender… is trying to break their 16 year playoff draught and recently fired 10 scouts…yikes! but can’t gain ground on the Oakland A’s. Oakland is competing with a salary base just under $90m….to give you an idea of this successful…yet frugal franchise…Stephen Piscotty has the longest and highest contract on the team @ 6 years, $33+mil!… TU to the Cards & MO…… which tells me that he’ll be traded over the winter for “prospects”  9 or 10 other players have a higher yearly salary for Oakland but don’t have as many years…
…Speaking of the A’s….a contender that most fans think of as a pretender….Edwin Jackson… remember him….pitched for the Cards in 2011..is STILL pitching! He’s now 34 years old..Oakland is his 13th different major league team in his 16 years of MLB experience. He’s actually having one of his best years!! He’s 4-3, 3.03 era, 68 inn, 55 hits, 49 strikeouts

College Football kicked off the 2018 season this weekend….some “passing” thoughts…
….Army losing to Duke 34-14 WASN’T startling news…but…..the Cadets did raise some eyebrows with their offense. Army passed the ball 21 times for 197 yards against Duke…yes…it’s a modest total in this day and age of passes winging around the stadium like mosquitoes at dusk on a hot summer night…but last year Army passed the ball just 65 total times for a total of 361 yards in their 13 games!!
…in Florida, some fans really want to make a point about U of Cen Florida 2017 season…Orlando lawyer Chad Barr confirmed that he’s hiring a plane to fly over the Alabama-Louisville game with a banner that reads “UCF ’17 CO-National Champs 13-0” so as to reinforce the point that UCF wasn’t a pretender last year… UCF opened the 2018 by slugging UConn 56-17.
…some writers speculated last week that Michigan State was really a pretender and not a Top 15 team of the country after winning several very close games last year (that could easily swing the other way this year & hit hard by graduation). The Spartans didn’t do much to dispel that theory this weekend as the Spartans squeaked by Utah State 38-31..Utah State was 6-7 last year!
…the idea that Chip Kelly could IMMEDIATELY make UCLA looks like the Bruins contenders that they always were throughout the past was jolted….I mean…big-time…UCLA dropped a 26-17 HOME game to Cincinnati….
…The once always dominant contender, Texas…where are you Daryl Royal?… which was rated in the top 25 in a national pre-season poll…much to the surprise of most people outside of Texas….dropped several notches to just above a pretender level after a stunning loss to Maryland 34-29…Tom Herman brought in as Head Longhorn coach last season with high hopes of regaining the lofty luster once attributed to Longhorn football program than now seems far away …saw his team convert only 3 3rd downs, had 3 turnovers, piled up 100+ penalty yards….now those numbers sound like a pretender to me 
..btw….if a team needs to schedule an FCS level football team to reach the minimum goal of 6 wins to reach a bowl….are they really worth a bowl? My take….wins versus FCS teams should not count towards the wins necessary to reach a bowl (.500 season)..in my mind, racking up wins against FCS teams is pretending that you’re a contender.
…Alabama is the real CONTENDER….who’s going beat the Crimson Tide? Tell me now….not after it happens 

BEST HIGH School GAMES OF THE WEEK..those not already covered in depth by our friends @ StLtoday
St. Marys vs Lutheran South……
St. Mary’s and Lutheran South played an Overtime game on Friday in a game that matched these two southside schools for the 1st time. St Mary’s fell behind 12-8 after the 1st quarter as South QB Vito Orlando was red hot passing. He found Darrick Scott and Isiah Wilson for TD strikes in the opening quarter. The 2nd quarter saw the Dragons take a 22-19 lead with Frosh Kevin Coleman hauling in a 65 yard pass for his 2nd of 3 touchdowns. Scoreless 3rd quarter….in the 4th quarter, the game came down to the last drive, Luth South had a short field and moved the ball down to a 1st & goal…their drive was halted ..with only 16 seconds remaining Jacob Martinez kicked through what appeared to be the tying FG…a whistle had blown to stop the play…soooo….Martinez kicked it through again from 28 yards out to tie the game. In the OT. Coleman scored his 3rd of the game (6th of the season) on the very 1st play of OT but the attempted PAT was blocked. South fought past some penalties to get a 1st down and then Demetrius Jeffrey ran 7 yards to tie it up….Martinez knocked the game winner straight through the uprights giving South the 29-28 win… it was a thrilling game with momentum changing throughout the contest.
Hannibal vs Jefferson City
In a game that see-sawed back & forth…a last second coaches’ call changed the game….Hannibal took a 7-0 lead after 1 quarter. The Jays grabbed a 15-7 lead in the 2nd only to see the Pirates score 2 TD’s to retake a halftime lead 21-15 lead. A 39 yd TD strike to Ryan Brooks along with the PAT saw JC hold a 3rd quarter 22-21 lead. Damien French scored his 3rd TD of the night for the Pirates at the 10:52 mark of the 4th, but the PAT missed…so score was 27-22 Hanibal. With just 3 minutes remaining Devin
Roberson threw a 24-yard touchdown to Levi Jobe and converted the two-point conversion on a QB keeper to give the Jays a 30-27 lead,. Hannibal…got the ball back…moved the balldown to the JC 17.. …a seemingly game-winning touchdown pass on 4th down & 9..from Gabe Worthington to Lawson Rickey looked like it’d make the Pirates the winner…but….it didn’t count! Hannibal Head Coach ,Mark St. Clair had asked for a timeout just seconds prior to the play. The next attempt for the 1st down, a run..failed…. Jefferson City wins the game…WOW ..what an ending and what a game!

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