The Times..they are a changin’

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’.. Bob Dylan’s 1963 title aptly describes the current state of flux across the world…including the sports world.
…the winds of change continually “blow In” with regard to death. However, in the past 15 months the MLB has lost several HOF’ers and other outstanding players. Of course, here in the Lou, Bob Gibson tops the list. In his 17 Cardinal years he piled up 251 wins 3117 strikeouts and an amazing 56 shutouts. It seemed to many that Gibby was almost a mystical figure with the fan base…not just a legend. HE was the one who brought a hush to the crowd…an almost reverence in respect to his unbelievable accomplishments and his fierce competitive spirits. Another Card HOF’er – Lou Brock passed away in 2020. Brock’s tremendous speed set the tone for the Cards in the 60’s. As a frontier base stealer, his success changed the game. But…he was more…much more..than that. From all reports he was a very pleasant, happy man who was very willing to assist younger players master their craft and worked very hard to develop his own skills. Later in life he battled a diabetes-related infection that caused his left leg to be amputated. The Lou lost two of our most recognized legends in 2020! Many other HOF’ers dot the list this year including Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Joe Morgan. Just this week, the passing of the great Hank Aaron. Of course Aaron holds the all-time mark for most HR & RBI’s of HOF players.
…..But… the one that always fascinates me is Richie (Dick) Allen. A complex individual who’s batting skills were of the superior level. However, his intrapersonal skills, lifestyle habits and personality often led him to quick departures from one team to the next. Allen used a huge 40oz bat in his rookie season but lightened it over his 15 year career. He’s right there with Babe Ruth & Mo Vaughn in using such a huge bat. Ruth began his career using a 54 oz bat!! Gradually, he whittled it all the way down to a 40oz bat. Allen held some tremendous career marks–.292 avg & 351 HR. That HR total would be 44th in the HOF. He was the HR champion twice with other lifetime marks of OBP-.378, slug%-.534 and a career OPS of .912. His OPS would be #34 in the HOF list above Ken Griffey Jr, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Andre Dawson, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks and many others. Now… Richie (as a young player) and Dick (as an older player) NEVER had a halo over his head but he could hit. His 1 year “stay” with the Cards was a rather typical year- 34 HR, 101 rbi, avg-.279, OB%-.377, slug-.560, OPS-.937 with 118 strikeouts. In that era, a strikeout seemed bad….unlike currently, where it is just viewed as another out. I guess Richie is doomed to stay in the Hall of Shame not the HOF due to his off-field behavior. Funny….. I guess I’ve missed the halo’s of all those HOF players while in Cooperstown.
…the Cardinals are hoping for some strong…very strong…winds of change foe their batting order. With the departures of Molina (at least at this moment) and Wong, Paul Goldschmidt returns as the only regular over .250 average, the only regular with an OBP over .336. Goldschmidt led the team in hits, 2b, runs, walks, OB%. It was clear that opposing teams were walking Goldy in any late inning or any offensive “threat” situation. Surprisingly, the Cards RBI leader was Tommy Edman-26! However, prior to you buying a ticket for the USS Edman to sail you to the playoffs, look closer. In the very last week of the season(crunch time), Edman went 4 for 27 with 10 strikeouts in that crucial week.
…The current winds of change have me scratching my head. I root for St Louis U basketball and hope that they do well and are ranked nationally. However, this week, the Bills jumped up several spots to #17 in the Top 25 without playing a game for over 30 days! After dropping their 1st game back to Dayton, they may now drop a bit. This covid year has really been a quagmire for the top 25 voters.
…. Btw…the winds of change are very evident in the Current Mens Basketball Top 25… no Duke, No Kentucky, no North Carolina to be found anyplace in that list! Instead you find names like Baylor #2, Houston #6, Creighton #17 in the Top 25 rankings. Meanwhile, Gonzaga #1 has already beaten four Top-20 ranked teams this year.
…the winds of change didn’t blow into the HOF voters room. Bonds & Clemens, holding batting numbers that normally would open the door to the HOF, were denied…again. I’m ol’ school….I’m in favor of rejecting players that used steroids for multiple years to boost their performance. For the first time, a player, Kurt Schilling in this case, received 70%+ last year but failed to get in the following year. Since he did NOT get the vote this year, Schilling indicated that his name should be removed next year. So be it….go ahead and pout because you didn’t get in!
…With a different directional wind of change, Scott Rolen was the “talk” after moving up substantially in the voting. When compared to other 3B in the HOF, he belongs. Now…the question is….should he be compared only to 3B or to all of the HOF’ers?. I really can’t understand why voters EVER change their mind. He’s either good enough or…he isn’t. The only way that I feel a voter should change their mind is if you feel that more than 10 candidates deserve to reach the Hall & you are limited to only 10 names as a voter in a particular year.
…avoiding the winds of change, the Cardinals & Adam Wainwright reach an agreement for 2021. Wainwright wasn’t just given this contract, he earned it! In 2020, He led the Cardinals in many categories on the field—the Most wins; the most starts (demonstrating his durability even at his age); pitched the only complete games on the staff (2); he most innings; the most strikeouts. Maybe….more importantly….he’s an esteemed leader on the club. He’s not the only one but he definitely has a prominent part in leading the club.
…..the change in sponsorships at the Super Bowl level may ripple across the Sports World. Some major sponsors—e.g. Anheuser Busch….have cut back on their quantity of ads for the Super Bowl. If this trend continues…and I think it will… in all professional sports. You’ll see the owners of these clubs also cut back…on substantial free agent signings, advertising, give-aways, sending announcers to all away games, etc. I’m thinking that the MLB owners, who are finalizing their plans for the upcoming 2021 season, will be obligated to seek new digital avenues that find new sports revenues. Then develop ways to use these avenues to engage their fans in year-round basis. Along those lines, I’m concerned about Bally being a part owner of the formerly Fox Midwest Sports network. I could anticipate a growth in young men (especially) getting hooked on gambling via TV….ugh!! At the same time, I could see many “veteran” viewers becoming disenchanted with all the betting odds, opportunities & references throughout the game.
…the winds of change are actually blowing through the NYY pocketbook! Dumping…oops… trading 35 year old Adam Ottovino to Boston and shedding his $9m salary after one of his weakest years—5.89-ERA; 0 holds;0 of 3 in save opportunities; with batters hitting .270 against him when the league average was .245. Can you image….the NY Yankees shedding salary! What’s next—the Cardinals signing a major, big-name free agent? ….a….nope…that won’t happen!
….Well….the winds of change are blowing me out of here….. please feel comfortable responding to any part of the blog. Do it on my Facebook page or on my web site——or just send to me & I’ll post for you. Continue to pass the word to friends/relatives. Btw….we continue to grow…hit the 600 mark in readership last week!! Thanks!