The Good, the Bad, the Sad & the Ugly

Like many of you I was introduced to Clint Eastwood through The Good, the Bad, The Ugly decades ago. But….there’s still truth in it as the Sad element.
…..while I felt SAD for Illinois who saw their terrific season “blow up” but…ya had to luv the Loyola Chicago win! Was it ol’ school or what? The defense was a total 5 man defense—guarding the ball, shutting down the driving lanes, squeezing the huge post man from in front & behind…always seeing the ball on defense, blocking out and ALL 5 Ramblers on the court did it not one time down the floor…but EVERY time defensively. On offense, it was a combination of ol’ school—move w/o the ball but move with a purpose, take any open shots in your range…for some it was the 3 pt range, for some it wasn’t. Block out and everyone crash the boards and finally, frustrate the Illini with their continual 20+ second possessions. I thought….like many of you…that the Illini were a Final 4 team …sooooo… does that make Loyola Chicago a Final 4 team? Probably not…..but it was GOOD to watch!
…another SAD day in the Lou as a beloved former player leaves us…the passing of Bobby Plager. We loved him because he gave his all on the ice..he wasn’t the fastest skater, but he checked aggressively anyone in sight, played hard every game—gave everything that he could to the game. But, when the game was over, he was a fun-loving, jokester with his teammates and a friendly, accessible colleague with the fans. He loved a good joke and a good time….RIP Bobby….
…an UGLY situation is continuing in Jupiter. It centers around Matt Carpenter. The 35 year Carp just can’t do it anymore. He didn’t earn his starting position until he was 26 years old. By far his best year was 2013 when he was 27 years old. He batted .318 (the only time he batted over .300 in his career) 199 hits with 44 doubles. He was a doubles-machine! The Fans loved him for his consistency, his ability to get on base, hustle, yada-yada. But….He’s never hit over .272 since his premier year. He’s been on a consistent decline over the past 4 years. Now, in 2021, he’s far from the same man. As I write this… he’s 1 of 25 with 11 strikeouts in spring training. Clearly, he just doesn’t have it! Sooo..why not cut him……clearly there is ONLY 1 reason–his salary! His salary this year…like last year.. is $18.5m. The Cardinals management have always struggled mightily to swallow any contract ….much less $18.5m. Here’s my thoughts….I’ve admired Carp in the past…but now he just can’t hit. If you keep him, you’ll get very little to no production. Sooo the $18.5m is spent to keep a player who is unable to contribute anything. Why not, swallow hard…pay him off and bring up a minor league player at the minimum. Sooo.. now your cost if $19m(just $500000+ more) total but…’ll get some production OR try another entry level player until you DO find a player that DOES contribute. It’s only costing you an additional minimum pay salary to get SOMETHING…why settle for nothing? Carp has been a good player but…it’s SAD to look in the mirror and say It’s Over. But, don’t make it any UGLIER for him….or the Cards. The fans have been kind…understanding…generally quiet..but if he remains on the roster, it could get it UGLY when he comes to the plate. It is SAD to see a player fade right before our eyes but…it happens to each one of them at some point, sometime.
…another spring training observation….Carlson played CF recently and he’s hit a couple bombs in recent days. Carlson won’t need a late inning defensive replacement in CF. John Nogowksi, Dustin Williams, Lane Thomas, Austin Dean—all seemed to have moved past Harrison Bader at the plate. Last year Bader struck out 40x in 106 AB while batting .226. This spring he held a .107 average (3 of 28)! That may be closing the door on Harrison Bader’s opportunities as a Cardinal. Bader has over 1000 MLB At bats….generally…that’s a good indication of your “level” as a player. He’s shown us who he is as a player. Now, Bader is put on the DL for 4-6 weeks due to a forearm strain. Do I think that injury has curtailed his spring training batting…not likely. He still struggles mightily against the sliders from RHP. This on a team that was woeful at the plate last year—LAST (30th) in HR in MLB; 24th in runs/game; 29th in HITS and 25th in average age as a team. Bader’s defensive skills would be acceptable IF the Cardinals had 5 or 6 strong batters…but they don’t.
….some thoughts on the UGLY subject of the dearth of scoring in the MLB. In most major sports, as the players size has increased so has the scoring (basketball, football). Not so in baseball…that’s probably because the pitchers have increased in size more than the “average”. Look @ how many pitchers are 6-2 or taller. In general, the average size of a person has increased by over 7% since 1870 when baseball began. 150 years ago! Why keep the same distances when the men now are significantly larger? Way, way back… In the very beginning, 1871-73, teams scored commonly a total of 20 runs between the 2 teams. But as the pitchers improved, the pitchers, who threw underhand from 45 feet away, dominated the game! Distances were changed to increase the scoring. (sound familiar?) Is history repeating itself? Just think if EVERTHING about baseball was increased 7%? Pitching distance would be 64.5 ft (rounded off), bases 96ft, outfield walls down the lines..instead of 310ft & 410 ft in CF.. they would be 353ft, CF 438 ft respectively. We know that there are 2 chances of this happening… SLIM & NONE. Players won’t change their swings until high average batters are paid similarly to the low average, big HR guys. In these days ANY .300 batter is a high average guy. We have seen with the shifts that batters aren’t going to change their HR swings on their own unless there is something MORE in it for them. Why not make league wide totals…180 hits/season = some type of bonus e.g. $4m…200 hits a season would be $10m. Only money is going to motivate the players. Find other ways…3 hits in a game = a smaller bonus, no strikeouts in 30 consecutive AB. Sure…they could just lower the pitching mound or move the pitching plate back from 60’6” to 61 or 62 feet. That would assist the pitchers to some degree. However, realistically, none of this will happen until attendance slips significantly and/or TV viewership dips. But….by then…is it too late? Are the fans gone permanently?
….looking around the MLB…who had a “GOOD” off-season with respect to improving their team the most? The Padres stand out in that regard. San Diego added 2 aces to their staff in Blake Snell & Yu Darvish. They added depth for the long season by signing Ha-Seong Kim & resigning Jurickson Profar–a very versatile fielder with enough pop in his bat to add to the lineup on certain days-.278, 7 HR. The Padres were already hoping these high caliber players will push them over the hump. Their Hitting was strong last year– they already had 5 players bat .277 or higher last year—Manny Machado .304, 16 HR, 47 RBI; Will Myes .288, 15 HR, 40 RBI; Eric Hosmer .287, 36 RBI; Jake Cronenworth .285, Fernando Tatis .277, 17 HR 45 RBI. By contrast, our Cards had 1 player higher than.277—Paul Goldschmidt-.304, 6 HR. Nolen Arenado will be there this year. He batted a nondescript.253 with 8 HR in the rarified Colorado air last year!!
….The Oral Robert-Florida game carried around some GOOD signs. By winning, Oral Roberts is only the 2nd 15th seeded team to reach the Sweet Sixteen! Meanwhile Florida is only 1 of 6 schools to win an NCAA game in each of the last 4 tournaments. The others in this rather surprising category are: Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan, Florida State & Villanova.
….Well, hopefully, it’s been a GOOD blog for you and your SAD to see it end 😊 Check out past blogs on and/or react in any way to this blog on my Facebook page or with an email to me.