Here on Sunday morning, the anticipation of tonight’s Blues 6th game vs Boston is gripping the city. Is it REALLY going to happen…Lord Stanley’s Cup hoisted up by the Blues?? There is anticipation in sports…and life for that matter….continually….just as Carly Simon reminded us in her hit song in 1971.(entitled Anticipation).. “Anticipation, anticipation….Is makin’ me late…Is keepin’ me waitin’ “
….the anticipation of Paul Goldschmidt becoming the slugger we…and the Cards…. expections continues to grow. Currently many of his personal marks are at career-low levels excluding his first part-time season….in 269 plate appearances…..his average of .268 previous low mark .286; .358 OBP..to this point his lowest for a season was his 1st full season .359; slugging % of .438….previous low .489 (2016); with 69 strikeouts to this point, if he continues at this pace will be to set a personal high if 184 strikeouts. It’s not a wasted season….yet….but we are at the 3/8 pole of the season.
….the Cubs anticipation of post-season success just got a shot in the arm with the signing of Craig Kimbrel. I don’t think that he’ll be the same ol’ untouchable closer but….he’s got to be better than Pedro Strop. One may disagree with the salary demanded by Kimbrel that the Cubs matched but… you must say….the Cubs went out to find a player to fill a big gap in their roster. What would YOUR anticipation be if I told you that the Cards had acquired Zach Greinke from Arizona for the rest of this year? Sure Greinke is 35 years old and his mega annual salary of $35m makes the Cards owners choke just hearing it…. but….in his 14 starts this season, 87.2 inn, just 68 hits, ERA of 2.87.He’s projected to finish with 13 wins and a 3.37 ERA. The Cards completely ignored any improvements to their starting staff in the off-season but….right now….is there ANY anticipation of a post-season run by the Cards this year? Wouldn’t his addition ignite that flame again? He’s already been on 5 different post-season teams in his career. Trade 2 of those hot Cards ”prospects” …ya know…the ones that the Cards announcers make it sound like they are headed directly to Cooperstown ….but….are actually are closer to .500 pitchers or .250 batters…and go get Greinke.
….like two jolted lovers…. the Cards fans and Marcel Ozuna ….in which the anticipation is a soon-to-be permanent separation …feelings are uneasy and uneven. It’s easy to understand in one way…. Marcel with his huge, lusty swing that leaves his flashy neck chain zinging around his neck and … often leads to strikeouts…but heck….show me a Cardinal that DOESN’T strike out a lot(with or without a neck chain)…and Marcel’s early season defensive OF plays would have almost been comical if he didn’t have a gold glove award hanging up in his house..heh…wait a minute….maybe that’s the glove that he’s actually using in the OF….no wonder it’s a bit stiff Marcel’s throwing from LF has improved but it’s not on-line very often…if ever….but….all that being said …check his batting marks.. in the NL thus far in 2019… he’s 5th in RBI’s; tied for 10th in HR’s; 12th in runs scored and 20th in slugging%. How would the Lou be raving if those stats belonged to Paul Goldschmidt …not Ozuna?
…Anticipation is the key word at the MLB draft. Generally, a team has to wait, wait and wait for the development of their draft choices. Very, very seldom does a player get drafted on summer and excel in the MLB the next summer. It’s usually a slow-cooked process so as the patience increases so does the anticipation. Some observations to note about the Draft….for the first time since 2008, when Buster Posey (5), Kyle Skipworth (6), and Jason Castro (10) were all were selected in the top 10 picks, two catchers became top-10 selections last Monday night. Chosen #1 overall was Adly Rutschman (Oregon St) by the Orioles while Baylor’s Shea Langeliers was chosen by the Braves with the #9 pick of the draft. With the importance of having a good to great catcher necessary to have a post-season contender, one might think that MLB teams would regularly look in that direction. Not so….in fact, Buster Posey, Jason Castro, Yasmani Grandal, Mike Zunino, and Josh Phegley are the only five major-league catchers who have started a majority of their team’s games this season and were selected in Round 1. The Cards gambled @#19 when they picked Zach Thompson (LHP from U of Kentucky). Thompson’s fastball seems to have good movement along with a reliable slider…..but….Thompson has experienced shoulder & elbow issues along with inconsistent control in the past. If you have the anticipation for your son, nephew, neighbor…whovever…to reach the “big time” of the MLB….make him a shortstop in his younger days. On the 1st night of the 2019 draft, 9 of the first 32 picks were SS then another 10 were chosen in the 2nd round! Soooo..19 of the 77 players chosen Monday were shortstops….close to 25% of the players!!
….not many MLB observers anticipated the Minnesota Twins to be 2nd in wins in the entire AL on June 9th. The Twinkies 43 wins are just 2 behind the Astros. From the plate, Minnesota leads the AL in runs scored (370) slugging % (.510), and Home Runs (121). On the pitching mound, the Twins have issued the fewest walks and are 5th in team ERA. If not the ace… certainly a key component …of the starting staff is Jake Odorizzi. Currently he’s 8-2, 1.96 era, 64 inn, just 41 hits (usually a 1:1 ratio of inn: hits is a relevant number). He was drafted in 2008…..so I guess back in 2007 or 2008….I announced the Highland-Bresse Central baseball game from Grizzlies BallPark. This was a big local HS rivalry so Prepcasts covered the game. I recall the rare occurrence…and I made a big deal of it at the time….this right-handed hitting batter named Odorizzi hit a home run over the right-center field fence! Hitting home runs in these closed in fields was rare enough….but …to the opposite field. I …to this day…haven’t only seen it done ONCE…on that day. He wasn’t pitching that day so he was the shortstop. Now an 8 year veteran, Odorizzi will definitely be in the all-Star game this year so cheer him “on” as a home town boy. Btw… he’s a free agent after the season! Connect the dots …
…is it fair to anticipate that professional players….even lower level minor leaguers…should have developed a professionalism about “doing whatever it takes to win”..recently, in a Double A game, the Hartford Yard Goats (I didn’t make it up…it REALLY is the name of the team) had a combined no-hitter going in the 9th inning. When Matt Lipka of the Trenton Thunder bunted for a base hit! The Yard Goats went crazy…how could he? It was a no-hitter (albeit a combined no-hitter). Lipka must have broken the rule found deep in professional pamphlets “Thou shall not bunt to break up a no-hitter!”….the benches emptied as a fight broke out over the bunt! Could we anticipate a bit more professionalism the next time? As one local writer said, “Quit crying. Get tough. Also, it was a combined no-hitter! The starter wasn’t even in the game anymore. Good lord, get over yourselves!” I would anticipate that the parents of the Yard Goats refused to buy their “boys” sno-cones after the game for their tawdry behavior
….I had anticipation through the first 2 months of Cardinal baseball….would Fred Rogers…oops..Mike Shildt… and his Happy Neighborhood jingo…ever “sit” a veteran who held a regular starting position. I was pleased to see that Fred….oops…Mike…”sat” Matt Carpenter out of a game. I didn’t want to hear that his foot bothered him (which was the story the next day). Any MLB manager must demonstrate his “leadership” by sitting players who aren’t performing period. Being 4 or 6 or 10 year vets makes it tougher….sorry….that’s why you’re getting the big bucks …to make those tough decisions.
…its too early in the summer to have a real high anticipation of NCAA-football….but…just to whet your appetite…..couple surprise teams to watch…Nebraska under 2nd year head Coach, Scott Frost will take his 4-8 team of last year back into bowl level territory…maybe not a New Years Day Bowl…but a bowl nonetheless…..Texas A&M under Jimbo Fischer …with that 1st name—he has to coach in the South …..will finish in the top 10 and be in a major bowl. On the other side of the field….despite his personal issues, Urban Meyer was a terrific “big game” coach…..the Buckeyes will miss that little edge…I look for them to slip just a bit. And….of course….we all anticipate the annual Clemson-Alabama Championship Game to take place again.
…well…we started with the Blues and we’re skating into the locker room now with our anticipation with hopes sky high, our fingers crossed, and plenty of LGB’s reverberating around the Lou!