Change is Constant…Improvement is NOT

In life, we constantly change. Hopefully, this change brings improvement…but it doesn’t always. Change IS constant, improvement is Not!  Same is true in sports.

….This year the MLB changed its playoffs by having a 3rd wild card team.  That means 40% of the league is in the playoffs. Being the 3rd Wild card team is no big WHOOPEE to me! Here’s a suggestion in a change for the playoffs– Why not try having that 6th spot filled by the team with the best 2nd half record who isn’t already in the playoffs?  That could reinvigorate some of the lower teams in the 2nd half. Some years injuries wipe out a team in the 1st half for contention to reach the 3 WC teams. Some teams just get “hot”…but it’s too late to make up for the 1st half inadequacies. It’d surely arouse interest in some of those cities that haven’t seen a post-season game in decades (they’d host the game) against another Wild Card team. At least they’d be the “best” of something to reach the playoffs rather than being #6 team in the league. This current change has brought no improvement.

..the Blues changed from their usual approach and signed Robert Thomas to an 8 year package for $65m.  This ties down one of their blossoming stars for most of his career. He’s fast & clever with the puck. I can’t attest to knowing if he checks well but most scorers rarely check anyway. This change seemed like an improvement over sitting back & waiting. Almost at the same time, David Perron signed a 2 year contract with Detroit for $9.5m. Doug Armstrong has certainly guided the Blues through many changes over the years and has proven his ability to improve the team.

The Cardinals are changing their approach and are racing full speed down that analytics path this year. The Cards are emulating use of analytics like Tampa Bay. Tampa’s Lineups are shuffled more than a deck of cards each game. But, keep in mind the difference from the best player to the weakest player on the Tampa is NOT a huge gap. The roster doesn’t hold a real superstar.  In STL, where lineup shuffling has changed significantly this year, there IS a huge difference between the best stars & their subs–huge gaps!  All the “days off” for the stars is slowing down the Cards offense in THAT game. At this moment, the Cards have played 90 games, Nolan Arenado has played in 85 games. He’s sat out 5 games. Paul Goldschmidt has sat out 4 games. There are already ARE “built in” off days for the teams/players. Now, this years tightened schedule due to the extended negotiations has thrown a new wrench in the works.These stars are talented athletes in the prime of their life. This change of extra “resting them” has brought NO improvement for the Cards.

….The Cardinals, who are very sensitive to pleasing the fans, are disappointing the fans tremendously who attend Busch Stadium only to find out that a Star of the team is sitting it out “to stay fresh”. At least, an improvement would be to give the star players their badly needed “day off” on the road.

…A change that would apply to MLB & NHL would be to have all the GM’s stay at the same hotel on trading deadline day. Face-face talks would seem to go better in reaching a trade level. That easy change would be an improvement for everyone involved.

…The NHL needs a minor change…make the OT period 10 minutes. That’d be an improvement. We’d see more tremendous hockey with maximum effort and more likely have a winner.

…Usually MLB players make a change and leave their 1st team (team that drafted them) to earn more money. Michael Wacha left the Cards as free agent in 2019 after earning $6.35m. His arm issues has sidelined in progress. In 2020, he earned $3m w/NY Mets & in 2021 it was $3m again..this time with Tampa. This year, 2022, his salary is $7m with the BoSox – just a tad above where he was with StL in 2019. Change was not an improvement for Michael Wacha.

…Here’s a real shocking change… as I write this, every team in the AL East Division is .500 or above for the season! Baltimore is in last place with a 45-45 record (recently they won 10 straight)!  That’s a huge change in that Division…for that matter, any division. Any time that the cellar dweller is competitive it’s a good change. That change is a huge improvement for the O’s & MLB.

….…last off season, 5 MLB teams made a major change in their shortstops. They spent big money with high expectations of improvement. Thus far they have little to show for it. As you look @ these numbers, 2022 is 40% over!! Javy Baez seems the most egregious to me.

Trevor Story, Red Sox $159m/7year   hitting .221, 15 HR, 58 rbi, 105 strikeouts

Corey Seager, Rangers: $327 million thru 2031! currently batting .245, 21 HR, 47 rbi

Marcus Semien, Rangers: $175 million/thru 2028– batting .238, 12 HR 42 rbi

Javy Baez, Tigers: $20m in ’22; $120m in future obligations. batting  .214, 9 HR, 34 rbi

Carlos Correa, Twins:   $35m for this year & each of next 4 years–.279 10 HR, 31 rbi

These changes have brought limited or little improvement to these teams that spent huge sums of money in an attempt to improve their team. NO improvement thus far!

…The NCAA’s change to installing OT to finalize their Football games has been a great improvement. Some of the best OT games in 2021 were:  Mizzou 24 Florida 23; Notre Dame 41 Florida St 38(OT after Florida St rallied from a 3rd quarter score of 38-20 (ND) ; Illinois 20 Penn State 18 in 9 overtimes!!

….Of the many changes that the MLB has implemented already and will install next year, most seem like real good improvements—DH has become easily accepted; ban shifts (just as football has certain regulations in lining up (like 7 men on the LOS); Ghost runner on 2b in extra innings makes each inning exciting. The 2023 changes (speedier game with pitch clock) and robotic strike zone should further enhance the game. They all improve the game. I wonder when all MLB fields will be exactly the same size in all ballparks. Originally, stadiums were built depending upon the space available. These new designs could have unique parts (like Fenway’s huge scoreboard)—maybe 1 per field.

…Well…its time to wrap up this blog.  Don’t forget you can share your thoughts on any part of the blog on my Facebook page (Bob Ryan) or send to me & I’ll publish with your initials. Interested in blogs that you missed? Find them on Thanks for the read!   Bob

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