Surprise Gifts

It’s that time of year for Gifts. Sometimes, we receive SURPRISE GIFTS! It could be well received or something that gets stuffed away the next day …Same is true in sorts
…. Mizzou HC Eli Drinkwitz declared just a week before the bowl game that he was giving a surprise gift of an “off” week in the upcoming Mizzou Bowl Game to running back-Tyler Badie. It was also a surprise to many fans, especially those who had already purchased tickets. They all expected to see Badie as the feature back in the game and hoping…probably, expecting… for Mizzou to beat Army. Since the announcement had come only days prior to the game, many Mizzou fans had already purchased tickets & arranged transportation for the game. It wasn’t a pleasant surprise for them.
….that same surprise gift to Badie, brought a reaction from Coach Drink. He said it was about “protecting” Badie for the draft. That also a surprise to many fans. In the previous week, the final regular season game, Coach Drink had Badie carry the ball 41 times in the Arkansas game. Mizzou lost the game 34-17. Sooo…in a 17 point loss game, Badie didn’t need protection for the draft and carried the ball 41 times?
…to no ones surprise, Badie’s backup fumbled to end a key drive in the 2nd quarter.
…the NCAA Football Committee made a surprise announcement, a Surprise Gift, about the Bowl Championship Series Games. It was a gift meant to clarify the “iffy” situation about covid. Their announcement indicated, that if any of the 4 teams that were unable to play in a semifinal bowl game due to Covid, that team would Forfeit the game. The other team would automatically advance. If a team reached the Championship Game and contracted Covid—they would forfeit THAT game. To me, it was surprising to award wins without competing on the field. Another approach could have been taken by the NCAA. If there is a covid forfeit in the 1st round(semifinals), why not have the #5 rated team take their place? If 2 teams forfeit in semifinal round, #5 & #6 teams, would replace them. In the championship game if a team forfeits, the covid team would be replaced by a) the team that had lost in the other semifinal game or it could be the #5 rated team could jump in as a replacement. It just doesn’t seem “right” that teams advance in the most crucial games of the year without competing on the field. Further, is there really THAT much difference between the #5, #6 rated teams and the top 4 seeds?
.…the Cardinals had a surprise gift recently. A Fan Graphs 2022 Projection listed all the MLB teams according to their expected chance of winning the 2022 World Series. The Cards were rated #15 of 30 MLB teams by this respected company. Fan Graphs listed Starting Pitching and middle infield as “needs”. They expressed doubts about Ace Adam Wainwright’s continued success and were not satisfied with Tommy Edman or Paul DeJong. I’m higher on Edman than this organization but shortstop does need clarity. Hopes for Wainwright’s incredible durability & high performance continue.
…We’re hoping for the gift of a Wider View of MLB Baseball by MLB & MLBPA. The every-day Joes/Janes get tired of fighting over HUGE money. These 2 groups need to find ways to make the game have more action & excitement. Or…they won’t be fighting over big money in the future. They’ll be fighting to stay alive! First of all, the games have to be made shorter. Last year the average game last 3:11min. That’s the average so many more the games took longer!! The 2021 attendance per game=18,651. That was the lowest since 1977 when it was 18,406. Looking at the bigger picture, the USA population in 1977 was 220m. In 2021 the population was 333m people. So, the population has grown by a tad over 50% while the attendance. Meanwhile, the attendance was “up” 200+ fans per game…that 1.1% growth!!! 50% vs 1%!! They already have a problem!!
…The gift of HOPE was there last February for the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was said about them then “If the starting pitching stays healthy and the young arms take another step forward, the D-Backs could compete for a playoff spot”. That gift quickly disappeared…real quickly! The D-Backs went 8-48 in the combined months of May & June last year. Az won in back-back games only once in those 2 months! The only hope left by the end of June was for a quick finish to the season 😊
…the Blues saw their hire of Craig Berube as a gift to the players. He’d expose them to a different “rougher” style of hockey. It has worked! The Blues won their 1st Stanley Cup with Berube behind the bench. This gift had NO surprises when you look @ Berube’s career marks. He played in 1054 NHL games and was involved in 412 fights. Thus he had a fight every 2.5 games of his long career! In fact, he had a fight in his very 1st NHL game!! He completed his career with 3,149 penalty minutes! Yes….the NHL game has changed regarding fights, but “toughness” is still around.
…some fans thought that it was a gift to Florida to face in-State “rival”, Central Florida, in the Gasparilla Bowl game held in Tampa Florida. After All, the Gators played in the SEC with a 6-6 record while Cen Florida competed in the American Conference and finished in 3rd place. Many thought that it’d be a big boost for Florida. When they won, it would enhance their recruiting in upcoming recruiting battles in the rich harvest lands of Florida. But, the Gift reached Florida Central—Not Florida! Florida Central upended Florida 29-17. As expected, it was an emotional game throughout the game. Sadly, a brawl between the players broke out after the game as emotions ran out of control for both teams. Without doubt, that win lifted Central Florida much higher on NCAA-F map while making some wonder about the depth of strong teams in the SEC.
…Thanks for the read! If you want more….head to Bob Ryan Facebook page as readers respond to any part of the blog (maybe YOU! 😊). Of course, you may send your thoughts directly to me & I’ll post them using your initials. Or, go to to find previous blogs. The average readership for the last 10 weeks was over 750 readers/week. Thanks! I’ll be taking a Holiday “Break” next week. I’ll be sending out the next blog on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022.