Great Expectations

With all due respects to Charles Dickens, this is a different type of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. It’s much shorter & solely on current sports.
….What about the “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” of our St Louis Blues. The 2019 Stanley Cup title has risen the hopes of all Blues fans. This club has more offensive speed with a much wider range of scorers than the Cup Champions but will they have the tenacity to check, check, check in all the playoff games? Further, will the rotating goalie roles continue? Most playoff teams ride 1 keeper for the most part. It should be fun to watch.
… As the MLB season is in its earliest stages, most clubs still have “Great Expectations” of a “successful” season when they reach & WIN the World Series. But, that goal is shifting, dodging, sliding away from the best team of each league. In the newest post-season arrangement that hosts 12 teams–1/3 of the teams as playoff teams. It actually becomes much harder for the #1 team of the NL or AL to win the series! The new format, which in my mind is the adult version of everyone gets a trophy concept has 6 of the 15 teams from each division, 40% of the teams, qualifying for the playoffs! The top 2 teams of each league get 1st round byes. Then #3 (the division winner with the poorest record) plays the #6 seeded team. That leaves 4 v 5 to round out the 1st round. In the 2nd round, #1 seed host winner of the 4-5 series while #2 seed hosts the winner of #3 v #6. If all goes as expected in the 3rd round, the #1 & #2 teams will play for the LCS (league championship series) then the 4th series- the World Series. More questions…A) Is it “worthwhile” to fight hard for that #1 spot in the division? History has shown us that “bye” rounds for some teams flatten them out. B) How does this extended playoff impact regular season play? Will regular season tight finishes mean as much? Who could forget the 1964 season when the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead with just 12 games to remaining in the season on Sept 20th. On the 21st, Cincy’s Chico Ruiz stole home to win the game for the Reds over the Phils. Manager Gene Mauch went crazy. His taunts throughout the next game seemed to motivate the Reds who won the next 2 games. Then the Phils dropped 7 in row sending the Cards into the Series. Will the regular season EVER mean so much again with 4 more post-season series to play? If the 7th best team in the League doesn’t make the playoffs, will it be a crushing blow to the fans?
…The masters of building GREAT EXPECTATIOS each year is SEC Football. Each team is praised profusely in the spring for their “new look”, their recruits & transfer players, their new schemes, yada-yada-yada. Each team talks the talk. The real story can be found by checking out the non-conference schedule of each SEC team. It works like this—Good SEC teams schedule 2 quality non-conference opponents. Middle of the Road & Weak SEC teams schedule weaker teams from other conferences. Often they include 1 name-brand opponent (who’s often down) so that they hold an unbeaten or at least winning record when SEC play begins. THAT will tell you the truth about the strength of each team. Since getting into a bowl is now a MUST for an NCAA Coach to keep his position, the easy cupcake pre-conference schedule makes the 6 win total (minimum to get into a bowl) attainable for all. The money that was spent in September to lure cupcakes to your stadium is recouped from the Bowl money & by having winning home games when many substitutes could reach the field.
…The GREAT EXPECTATIONS that are given to certain young & up & coming athletes in professional sports sometimes work in a negative way. The player could be a “good” MLB player but..not right away and maybe not a top level star as the EXPECTATIONS imply. I believe its happening to Dylan Carlson. We heard all these glowing terms of GREAT EPECTACTATIONS when he arrived in 2020 as a 21 year old for 35 games. Last year in 149 games, 619 plate appearances, Carlson batted .266 with 18 HR. The average of the entire MLB for 2021 was .244. (It was .245 in 2020). Can’t fans just accept that he’ll be a good MLB player, maybe a superstar? Or that he’ll improve with experience? 😊 Btw…Carlson is now 23 years of age. His OF comrades are older- Bader is 28 years old & O’Neill-27. What will he be in 4 or 5 years?
…I must confess I didn’t have any GREAT EXPECTATIONS for Dennis Gates (new Mizzou Bball coach) when he was hired. I thought….its just another coach moving up the ladder from a small school (Cleveland State) to a SEC team. But…I’m impressed with his quick work in recruiting players. We really won’t know how good they are until next year on the court. Right now, each one is painted as a growing star with GREAT EXPECTATIONS. But…at least, there’s some “good” talk about Mizzou B-ball.
…Well…I’m not Charles Dickens…and I’m not writing a book, so its time to go….I would love to read your thoughts on these GREAT EXPECTATIONS in sports. It you prefer, you can find past blogs(almost 7 years worth), at http://www.bobryansportsblog.com. Or, you may go to Facebook (Bob Ryan) to comment or react to comments… As always, thank for the time & the read! Bob