New Challenges in New Year

Each year as the Calendar gets replaced by another Calendar, new challenges face us. True in the sports world also….
…There shouldn’t be any challenges here. Why are the Blues waiting? Craig Berube has definitely earned a new contract. Get it done!!
….speaking of the Blues….scoring goals is ALWAYS a challenge. I really enjoy the play of Jordan Kyrou. He’s speedy, shifty, clever passing. Maybe its just me…but it seems like every time I see him score, it’s to the right side of the net (to keeper’s left). Maybe…I’m just not watching enough 😊
…what could be the biggest challenge of the Cards this year? Aside from catastrophic injuries to the Corner (1b&3b), the challenge may be behind the plate. If Yadi struggles in a significant way, it would be a challenge for Mgr. Marmol. Yadi still displays a powerful, accurate arm. His pitch calling is one of the best in the MLB. But, 2021 sprouted some danger signs of slippage…his strikeout % of 16.7 was the highest of his career; his fly ball % of 29.1% was the 2nd highest of his career; his RDP of -3 tied his lowest mark in this category (RDP-runs grounded into Double Plays). If Yadi slips deeper, it would put the Cardinals in a very difficult position.
…the challenge of “The grass always looks greener on the other side” has an easy tool to use now at the Collegiate level. The student transfer portal continues to emerge. Designed to assist transfers into an easier & more transparent manner, the portal has been deluged by players. This “one-time transfer rule” took effect in April 2021. Over 1700 College basketball players used the portal in 2021.
Even Coaches seem overwhelmed. “It’s total chaos right now” said Dabo Swinney (Clemson HC)
he added. “There’s so much tampering going on and so many adults manipulating young people, and it’s sad.” Mississippi’s HC Lane Kiffin said,”I don’t think people really say it this way, but let’s not make a mistake: We have free agency in college football,” While college football players are making the headlines now as they switch teams, they are far from being the most active. Men’s and women’s basketball players transfer at an even higher rate. More than 15,000 athletes from all sports entered their names in the transfer portal in the first year it was created. Checking into portal regs, I learned that a player in the portal MAY STILL PLAY for his current school but can NOT return to that school the following year once he enters the portal. The portal has been swamped. Coach Scott Frost commented,” At one point, there [were] 1,100 kids in the portal. There’s only 120-some Division I schools in the country. So there could be a lot of kids left without a seat, metaphorically, when the music stops. On the local level, Mizzou has seen 11 football players enter the portal. Some have signed with TCU, Oklahoma, Florida Atlantic, N. Texas, Arizona St, Indiana. They have added 3 players through the portal.
…the latest trend in Big-Time NCAA football, is for players to “sit out” bowl games. They want to “protect” themselves from injury. I’m much too old-school on this. The school & the player have a contract. The school provides education, housing, food, medical care, tutoring, stipends for the athletes. Meanwhile, the athlete is expected to perform at his/her best for all contests. If they decide to step away from the final game, they should “step away” from the benefits at the same time. It’s a 2 way street. ALL schools must make it known prior to signing the scholarship. Now…..I realize that my ol’ school ideas would NEVER come about in this current climate but I just HAD to throw it out there! When Coaches encourage such “boycotts”, they should be advised of the “contract” policy.
…a constant challenge for a struggling team is to keep hope. Often, sagging teams have hope early in games…often, until the opposition takes a noticeable lead in the game. But, on Saturday, Mizzou toppled ranked (#15 or #20—depending on the poll) Alabama 92-86! The Tigers jumped out to a 9-0 lead, traded “runs” with Bama throughout the contest and out-rebounded the Crimson Tide. Some fans might question the “tightness” of the defense for both sides as MU shot 48% and Bama 53% for the game! The constant for the Tigers was their strong rebounding throughout the game. MU held a 43-31 lead in boards! This was easily the “best” win of the season for the Tigers, now 6-6.

…the challenge of hanging onto a D-1 HC College football position keeps getting tougher & tougher. Fans and, apparently, athletic directors expect a winning, top-bowl bound team every year. One down year dooms some of these coaches. Look @ Miami University! HC Manny Diaz was just fired after 3 years with a 21-15 record. His 2021 team was 7-5, 2nd place in the ACC. At Miami, since 1995 they’ve had 6 different Head Coaches. The worst records since ’95 is being one game below .500 with 21 Bowl game appearances.
……Outside of the lockout which centers itself in the money arena, baseball faces challenges to speed up the game. How about some of these suggestions—1) No stepping out of the box for the batter. 2) A 15 second clock put on the scoreboard between pitches. If a pitch is not on its way to Home Plate in that time, it’s a ball. 3) 5 warmup pitches between innings & for relief pitchers. 4) DRIVE in those relief hurlers. Get them to the mound in 1 minute. However, the biggest hurdle to jump is the time between innings. 2.5 minutes is too long! But…that is the time that the owners use to make their money. How about 1 minute between innings AND… for the next 2-3 min of live action, use a split screen like the SEC network. That split screen would have 3 or 4 “blocks”—1 for action, 1 for stats, a large block for ads. Currently, everything else in life is getting quicker, shorter, faster. Crispness of action in the game is essential for keeping fan interest…especially of the younger generation. It isn’t happening often enough in current conditions. ….Well, my challenge of reaching the end has been reached 😊 Thanks for the read! Please forward to your sports friends or point them to Facebook page or to my web site— Your responses are ALWAYS appreciated! Send to me & I’ll publish or publish yourself on FB/web. Bob