Blues Wobble in Restart

As the St Louis Blues opened up play against Vancouver in the NHL playoffs, it was the beginning of the real season. Thus far, the NHL’s policy of using a bubble to keep the teams safe has worked well with no known covid cases…. so, we can enjoy sports as its meant to being…talking about action on the field, ice, turf, diamond –whatever.
….the Blues wobbly performance in their 3 round robin games was of concern to  Blues fans   (I’m one of them). Sure….they lost all 3 games in very tightly played contests that apparently the Blues appeared to consider them spring training games. As I watched them I didn’t see much forechecking and practically none behind the offensive net which was their forte last year. Maybe….other teams have already made adjustments to counter that forechecking…..or maybe, the Blues didn’t want use up energy that they would require in the “real” games. While the Blues went 0-3 so did the Boston Bruins (their opponents in the Stanley Cup finals last year). When asked about that start, Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy responded, ‘They are the defending Stanley Cup champion and had a good regular season. Is the mental edge there for them yet, or is it because they’re a bigger, heavier team that takes a while to wear down teams?’ 
…As the actual “playoffs” began, the Blues wobbling continued as they dropped game 1 to the Canucks 5-2. The Blues appeared to “run out of gas” in the 3rd period…again! Last night, the Blues came their closest to 2019 playoff hockey style in the 3rd period and the OT. Especially  in the 3rd period, more checking, especially forechecking by the Blues. Sadly, in ended with the Blues pressuring on the Canucks, our defenseman moved up…probably a bit too far, the Canuck pass from deep in their end went past him to winger Bo Horvat springing him loose for a breakaway. Horvat beat Binnington between the legs for the winner. 
…From my view….the Blues offense has been really wobbly!  I seldom saw 3 consecutive passes from Blues players and it looked like the Blues were slow in some of the games. There wasn’t anyone EVER in front of the net (where’s Pat Maroon’s replacement?) In these 4 games, the Blues have spent too much time killing penalties. Meanwhile,  a  winning team must win the 3rd period. The Blues have been outplayedbadly  in many parts of the 3rd periods of these 5 games. However, last night’s game was encouraging. The Blues 3rd & OT periods resembled the Stanley Cup Champions play of 2019.  But, Vancouver is now up 2-0…. LGB!!
….On the other side, Vancouver is making their first Stanley Cup appearance since 2015! They are “pumped” to be there. The Canucks have fast forwards that fly up & down the ice. J.T.Miller was the team leader with 72 points (27g, 45ast). 2nd year player, Elias Pettersson (Calder Trophey winner last season — Rookie of the year) recorded 66 points in 68 games. Center Bo Horvat seems to be in the prime of his 6 year career with 53 points this year. 
…..the real MLB season continues wobble along with the Cards on the sidelines. When their covid time frame has expired and the team may continue playing games, there will be new challenges.  The Cards newly revised schedule has 53 games in 44 days (Aug 15-Sep 27).During this long layoff, apparently, it’s difficult to get many “real” workouts. That split second timing required in the batters box to succeed may take some days to develop. Further, I would be EXTREMELY careful with the pitchers when the Cards do return to action. First time out, I’d have a 50 pitch limit for starters. Slowly increase it by 5-10 pitches each outing. Multiple pitches must be used every  game. The Cards may have to accept the fact that in games behind by 5+ runs in the 6th/7th innings, field players may be required  to pitch to save the staff. That would be ugly if it occurs more than a token number of times.
…I liked that the Cleveland Indians didn’t wobble in their handling of the virus. When Zach Plesac & Mike Clevinger went out to celebrate Plesac’s best pitching performance ever in the MLB, then were tested positive for covid. Cleveland acted decisively , they hired an auto transport company and had each of them driven home. It CERTAINLY maintained separation between them & the team. Further.. it established a standard for all the other players.  One has to wonder if the Cardinals hadn’t handled their situation in the same manner, if we STILL would be waiting to get back to action. Sure, they would have sent home 7 players immediately on the initial outbreak. However, the Cards wouldn’t still be sitting it out here on August 14th. But….maybe…for the Cards….they wobbled because  it wasn’t only young players. Two of the players were starting players  with years of experience and one an established player with many years of Cardinal service—Paul DeJong & Yadi Molina. The Cards made the decision NOT to enforce this “exile” movement and humiliate and embarrasses these seasoned players.  MO said, “ I don’t want to play the blame game”. Skipping by that absence of taking charge, it sure seems to make the Cards appear to want to sign Molina again for next year. If the club had sent him home, I think that their chances would have been very slim in resigning him. Instead, while Yadi DID return home, it seemed to be by his choice.  
….Cards wobble again….now Carlson IS going to be called up! 10 days ago…at that moment, it was “make or break” for O’Neill and Bader with Carlson prepping in Memphas…but …now, it seems….. Dylan Carlson will be there to play. Soo….now it’s O’Neill vs Bader for that other outfield spot.
…once again the Houston Astros wobble!  Again this week, the Houston Astros could have used boxing gloves instead of  their ball gloves. When former Astro, Oakland A’s Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch for the 2nd time in a game against the Asstroes, Laureano exchanged words with the Pitcher, Humberto Castellanos. Then, while on moving towards 1B,Laureano became involved in a shouting conflict with Astros Coach Alex Centron so Laureano charge the dugout.   It’s my feeling that many players of high contending teams still harbor resentment over the Asstros violations and the MLB’s lack of action against them.  Sooo.. the players are taking it into their own hands.
…in the MLB, outside the Cards….Charlie Blackmon has NOT wobbled at the plate! His average today is .472 in 18 games. This IS only a 60 game schedule. Blackmon does play half in his games in Denver’s high altitude. I would think with this type of start, that he’ll cut-down his stroke and lower his HR total to gain additional hits. It is ONLY a 60 game schedule! The last player to hold a .440 average at the 60 game mark was Chipper Jones (.409) in 2008. 100 games later (162 game schedule), he was holding a .364 mark. Other players held .400 average in points of the season beyond the very beginning days—Jose Altuve (2017), Joey Votto in 2016 and Andrew McCutcheon in 2012. It is not, however, impossible to hit .400 for 60 games. Of course the last player to bat .400 for a full season was the incomparable Ted Williams. Williams batted .406 in 1941. Williams played from 1939 to 1960, he retired with a LIFETIME batting average of .344, .483—OBP and 2, 654 hits. That’s great enough…but more amazing…his career was interrupted twice for military service. He missed all of 1943, 44, 45 due to WWII and played a total of only 43 games in the 2 years of 1952 and 1953 due to the Korean War. He never wobbled at the plate..nor would he ever swing at a pitch out of the strike zone!
 …the NCAA Football committee has to be on a wobble as the Big 5 football conferences is now down down to just 3  of the BIG conferences after 2 conferences have decided to skip football this fall. Surely, there can’t be a NATIONAL championship with 3 only conferences?
….well…..I’ve wobbled around long enough….please check my website ( http://www.bobryansortsblog.com for blogs of 2020 and all the blogs between 2019-2017. I’m still loading up the 2016, 2015 blogs. YOUR responses are always invited…put them directly on my Facebook page under the blog or send to me.

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