Pulling Together

Sports teams always must “pull together” to succeed. But, pulling together is also vital within a program, university, and many other settings. Start here @ Mizzou as the football & basketball teams “pull together”.
…..It’s so vital for the Football team & Basketball team to BOTH have strong years and pull together at the same time. At least in part, recruiting for basketball occurs during football and for football during basketball season. Strong teams with large enthusiastic crowds send a real positive message to the recruits.
…Now arbitrarily, I’m calling a season with 2/3 wins a strong season. That definitely would have happened this year for the Football Tigers with a non-league schedule! But, it hasn’t happened often @ Mizzou. Since 1960, both the football team & the Basketball team have won 2/3..or more…of their games in the same year just FIVE times! Only in 2010, 2008, 1998, 1981, 1980 did both teams win 2/3 of their games. Note the uptick recently in higher wins—well, football & basketball have expanded their non-league schedules in the past 15-20 years. You got it….that means more non-league games with more cupcakes to boost the win total for the Tigers football team (and all the Big-Time schools).
…the Football team has stood tall playing an All-SEC schedule. Coach Eli Drinkwitz has a team with a pulled together a balanced offense—pass & run. Only against LSU in game 1 was there a real imbalance in offensive production with 406 passing yards-69 rushing yards. Against Tennessee, it was balanced 232 run yards-190 pass; vs Kentucky very balanced 220 rush-201 passing; vs Florida 345 pass-169 rush (514 total yds)-playing from behind most of 2nd half. Against, S.Carolina, it was a low but balanced offense-169 rush, 114 pass; vs Vandy 380 pass-223 rush=600+ yards of offense; vs Arkansas 380pass-273 rush=600+ yards. His team was very disciplined in their last winning drive against the Razorbacks. Staying poised through the last key minutes of the game. Very few inexcusable penalties (personal fouls) or penalties from lack of concentration & training (jumping offside. motion, etc). Penalties change dramatically the “play calling”, the confidence of the players, the momentum & pace of the game. Sure…you can overcome them..sometimes.. but penalty plagued teams eventually get “bit” by the Penalty Bug! The statistics about penalties are often mentioned but not emphasized enough from my view. These Tigers are enjoyable to watch and easy to support. Drinkwitz has all the looks of a tremendous coach. My only fear is that really big-time teams like LSU, Notre Dame, USC, Texas can see Coach Drink’s work also!
…The Mizzou mens’ basketball team led by 4th year Coach Cuonzo Martin seems to be poised to have a strong year. I had my trepidation when Martin was hired. He had been at 3 different schools/jobs as a Head Coach. In each school (Missouri State, Tennessee, California), he was there 3 years then “moved on”. He was known as a “defensive stopper” in his career and still values highly that phase of the game. In year 4 in CoMo, 2 of the 4 early wins have been quality wins. His current 4-0 club IS playing hard defense (except vs Liberty last night), keeping key players OUT of foul trouble and knocking down the late free throws that “ice up” the victories. Center Jerimiah Tilmon has really struggled to stay on the court over the past years due to foul trouble but he’s off to a better start in that regard.
….Meanwhile, it’s clear the the MLB & the MLBPA clearly aren’t “pulling together” It seems to me that the MLB owners made a really poor deal when agreeing to pay the players 3/8 of their salary for 3/8 of the schedule without realizing that there would be absolutely NO fans—zero, nothing. The owners didn’t make 3/8 of the income of the previous season by a Long, long shot. The winner at the bargaining table was the players. Does that make it more difficult to “pull together” when the boss loses at the bargaining table?
…In this tug of war, the result in the MLB is the “little guy” getting “hurt”. After 3 years of MLB play, a team is required to tender you a contract to keep your services. If the tender doesn’t occur, the player becomes a free agent. Free & clear. There were 60 non-tendered players. Surprising to me were the number of players earning around $1.5m ish that were non-tendered. The minimum MLB pay for 2021 is $570,000. That saves the club less than $1m. In a multi-hundred million dollar industry, that savings seems tiny to me. But…. after a very meager monetary season, owners were scrapping and …as always…..the guys at the bottom — paid the price.
….Further, I think that any player who becomes a Free Agent this year will find a different geography to transverse to reach his contract signing oasis. It probably won’t look like the glorious contract of previous years except for the real superstars!
…Along those lines, I originally thought that the universal DH would remain after last year’s experiment. However, judging from the owners reaction to the non-tendered contracts, I don’t think that the owners will agree to add another high paying batter (the DH) to their roster in lieu of the lowest paid relief pitcher on the roster. Similarly, playing 7 inning doubleheaders…or even 9 inning DH will not be palatable for the owners to swallow. Why would the owners give 1 admission ticket for 2 games at a doubleheader and decrease income & revenue? The players surely won’t agree to decreased revenue when playing doubleheaders.
….Now, it really IS hard to have pity for billionaire owners…or for that matter, for the millionaire players. Playing a professional sport at the highest level for 5 to 10 years while “setting themselves up” for life with their earnings and their contacts is the envy of most fans. When 2021 negotiations roll around, the MLB AND the MLBPA better realize that many former fans have already “moved on” to other ways to entertain themselves. Any extended, heated, contentious battle between these two parties will only damage the sport more and lead to more defections from the fanbase. Already many fans moan about the 3.5-4 hour games, I think that’s one reason why the 7 inning games were so appealing. They were over in less than 3 hours. In our current, “instant society”, slow moving games with only sporadic excitement isn’t going to make it. Both these parties need to “pull together” for the good of the sport…and themselves.
…In All Sports, the home venue helps the Football/Basketball teams as the fans pull together with the team. The Fans often provide the energy, emotion for the team to gain momentum and perform well. An easy example is Duke Basketball. Duke’s unbeaten streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium that ended last year was 150 STRAIGHT WINS. This year without any fans, Duke is 2-2 at Cameron! Silence is golden…for visiting teams 😊
….I’ve pulled together all my ideas for this week. YOUR comments are always invited. Agree-Disagree doesn’t matter. Several options, put them on my Facebook page under the blog or put them directly on my web site ). 3rd option is to send them to me through email and I will post all of them using only your initials. Thanks for the read!(www.bobryansportsblog.com).