Stumbling Along

These special days have led many of us to “stumble along” through days that don’t resemble much our former days. Same is true in the MLB…
…our Cards are competing in a series with Pittsburgh…this is just what the doctor ordered. The Pirates currently wear the crown as the “Fewest Wins” in the MLB. When the series began, lowly Pittsburgh was 14-34! At that same rate, the Pirates would win 47 games in a full season of 162 games…ouch!
Nonetheless, the Cards chances of winning the division is slim. The Cubs are 30-20 while STL is 22-23. If the Cards won 8 straight games, they would be 30-23….come on. The Cards are playing to make the expanded playoffs. 8 teams of the 15 will qualify for the 2020 postseason. Hoping to catch “lightning in a bottle” like 2011 appears to be the strategy as the Cards stumble away from Milwaukee. Keep in mind, some MLB experts see it differently than “Cardinal Nation”. Prior to covid, the national writers had given the Cards a 2.6% chance of winning the World Series(#11 in the league).
….While the pitching has blown up in some games with MiLB pitchers on the hill, the biggest disappointment has been Jack Flaherty. Acclaimed as the “ace” all winter, Flaherty was shellacked in Brew-Town in his last start. Commentator Jim Edmonds pointed out that he isn’t pitching “inside” and seems to intent on early strikeouts (which runs up the pitching count). BTW…Edmonds does an excellent job of analyzing pitchers & batters each game. Flaherty may have “good stuff” but it’s all about location, location, location … and I’m not a real estate agent  Flaherty has 1 quality start in 7 starts which is identical to Ponce DeLeon. By Comparison– Adam Wainwright shows 6 quality starts in 8 games, Dakota Hudson has 3 quality starts in 7 starts. I’m really not a fan of quality starts—a stat devised by an agent to prop up his client. Definition—‘a pitches throws at least six innings and allows three earned runs or fewer’. But….they do provide some type of measurement. Hopefully Flaherty can learn to use that fastball to dip and run in on the batters so that they are more likely to hit it on the ground. He needs to get out of the early innings with fewer pitches instead of stumbling around with 15-20 pitches in these early innings. Batters are swinging at 45.8% of his pitches…the lowest of his career. (note—you get batters out by swinging at balls OUT of the strike zone)His 13.6% swing/miss rate is right at his career level 13.5%–no better than 2 years ago! I’d like to see improvement from our “ace” rather than stumbling along at the same level.
…Flaherty isn’t alone in stumbling along….the Cards HAD to know that Jeff Gyorko is a fastball hitter..the whole league knows it…yet, what pitch did he hit for a HR….yep, a fastball! Huh??
….the MLB owners are now stumbling along with no gates and are going public to elevate some sympathy. According to AP document titled, “Economics of Playing Without Fans in Attendance”, the Cardinals will lose $136m in 2020. On the breakdown of normal revenue streams for each MLB team, they said 39% came from the gate, 25% central revenue, 22% local media, 11% sponsorship, and 4% other. It is difficult to have sympathy in the one year that the owners lose money, when those same owners refused to show the books in all the other money-making decades and guarded that info tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge. It certainly IS their right to have private records but you can’t have it both ways. Laying off some of the scouts this week due to financial constraints tells us something.
…Sometimes we hear…. Directly or indirectly….that the Cards are suffering due to high priced players missing games due to injury. Well…..it is true…to a point…take a look.. Top #MLB Injured List Spenders-

1-Astros, $19.2M; #2-Yankees, $18.4M; #3-RedSox, $18.3M #4-Cardinals,

$12.5M #5-Mets, $11.2M

….the MLB may be stumbling along in a few years due to the fact that less and less USA children are playing sports.  Just 38% of American children play organized sports (It was 41% in 2017). Increased pressure from parents, increased cost, lack of enjoyment, increased activity with their device, less peer pressure to play are some of the reasons. 41% of the “playing” youngsters come from families with an income $100,000+ participate. Families under $25,000 have only 19% of their children participating in sports. Youth sports has become a business…ugh!

…there was no stumbling around at the trade deadline for 6 teams. San Diego made the most moves–they moved 8 players–added 2 catchers to replace a pair of woeful catchers and also acquired Mike Clevinger (maybe the best pitcher available). Toronto acquired 3 starting pitchers  with quality arms in Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Ross Stripling. It HAS to improve a starting staff that had only 5 wins up to this point! Miami landed  the best position player traded, Starling Marte, a true big-time offensive player. The Cincinnati Reds brought in Archie Bradley—a proven asset out of the bullpen. He immediately showed his happiness to be in Cincy when he pitched in a blow-out game against the Cards. His work that day saved others in the pen for another day. Oakland added Mike Minor to their starting rotation. Minor won 26 games in the last 2 years for Texas so the A’s are hoping that he’ll do the same for them. What do these 6 teams have in common?  The Padres have missed the playoffs for the last 13 years and NO playoff series wins in 21 years. The Next World series they win….will be their 1st World Series Championship!! Toronto—No playoff appearances in 3 years and NO World Series Appearance in 26 years! In their last Series win in 1993, the Blue Jays had as their #1-2-3 batters — John Olerud, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar (it’s been awhile).  Miami’s cupboard is completely empty—NO playoff appearance and then, obviously, NO World Series in 16 years. The Reds have seen no playoffs for 6 years and NO World Series in 9 years. The Oakland A’s– no playoff series wins in 13 years and NO World Series win in 29 years! The Ol’ saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures” As a side note, I felt that the Cards are content to make the playoffs … and hope for another 2011 miracle…as they’ve done the past couple years… so they held tight at the deadline.

….not stumbling in any way, shape or form is new Mizzou Head Coach, Eli Drinkwitz. Now… you Mizzou fans sit down…..Coach Drink (despite a late start due to his hiring date) has signed 16 players for his 2021 class. That 16 player class ranks #19 in the NATION and 5th in the SEC according to recruiting service 247 sports! A TOP 20 class in his 1st year out!! He has a definite plan….attack top level recruits in Missouri (they all did that) but once signed, he has the recruits assist him in gathering additional recruits.  Then, Coach Drink takes a 450 mile circle &looks for “who can play”. He also attacks particularly 4 schools within that radius that are in the top-20 of NFL player producers and focuses on them! Finally, he’s checked out the direct flights  from/into CoMO. Those flights include flights from Chicago, Dallas, and Denver. It has me excited! He has a real plan for recruiting instead of the usual, “We’re looking for the best guys” type of stuff.

…some statistics from this MLB 2020 season indicates a drop in home field advantage. Why are the home teams in a stumble? Most experts feel that the lack of fans, which raises the emotions of the home team players, is the likely reason!

…Nick Saban (Alabama Head Coach) feels that the NCAA could stumble this year. He thinks if teams try to play football in the fall, so many players are going to opt out and go to the NFL that it’ll be like a “JV” season (at least for Alabama). Do I hear your heart cracking for coach..or is that a smile?

…well….I’ve stumbled to the end…..I’m always anxious to hear YOUR thoughts–disagree(Most of them do that) or agree—doesn’t matter. Put you thoughts on my Facebook page (Bob Ryan) or on my website with many of my past blogs—www.bobryansportsblog.com  or send it to me and I’ll post it.

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