Walking the Golden Road & the Rocky Road

We all walk the road of life! They do it also in the sports world.  Sometimes that road is GOLDEN sometimes it’s ROCKY for us. Take a look as sports teams/individuals walk the Rocky & Golden Roads.

…Right now, it’s all GOLDEN for St. Louis City SC. The sell-out crowd last night for City#2 (like the top minor league team) was really jacked up. They were watching St Louis having a professional soccer team again AND got the chance to purchase the new, snazzy City “kit’s” (you gotta change that vocabulary for soccer—kits are uniforms). St Louis metropolitan area is in ecstasy over having their own soccer team again. The only ROCKY ROAD that I can foresee is that it must be safe downtown and especially around the brand new sparkling Centene Stadium.

… Maybe, we’ll actually start to see many, many kids playing soccer again(like in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s)…not just the “select” players. Poor kids who can’t afford “select” teams so they don’t have much of a chance right now. For decades, CYC sports provided sports opportunities for all kids of all abilities to play all sports. In our parish we had #1 & #2 teams on many levels in soccer & baseball. No one cared….we wanted, & our parents wanted us, to play … period. Yet, the really good players developed and later on (around HS years) found more competitive teams. Currently, many youngsters w/o the strong financial fees required by select teams are left out. It’s become a GOLDEN “money maker” for some coaches who now make their “living” coaching select sports year round.

…It was “GOLDEN” in the Pre-season for the Mizzou Football Team. They anticipated “big things” from Tyler Macon as the starting QB; Luther Burden was expected to be the next Jerry Rice; local native Nathaniel Peat transferred in from Stanford and was expected to be numero uno in the running back rotation. After all, he rushed for 404 yards in 79 carries (5.1/carry) and was the leading rusher on the Stanford team. But, Macon, Burden & Peat have all been walking the ROCKY ROAD this season. Macon got beat out @ #1 QB, Burden is just now (in week 11) beginning to get involved in the offense. Peat has been “beaten out” as the prime running back. In last week’s game he carried it 3x for 12 yds-that says it all.

… Often coming from a smaller, non-football power, many players face a ROCKY ROAD to D-1 success. Meanwhile, walking the GOLDEN ROAD in Columbia is Cody Schrader. Schrader graduated from Lutheran South HS in St Louis. South has been known for decades as a strong basketball team but football…not so much. Prior to him they were 10-22 in 3 seasons. In the years of 2018-21(after Schroeder), they were 10-26 in football. During Schroeders 4 years, Luth South was 26-20 while winning 9 games his Sr year. Schroeder attended Truman State and played very well @ the D-2 level. His numbers were outstanding—He was–2021 GLVC co-Offensive Player of the Year … unanimous All-GLVC 1st-team selection … ran for an NCAA Division II-leading 2,074 rushing yards on 300 carries, including 24 touchdowns. But, when Mizzou indicated that he was transferring there from Truman St, no one started cheering, they might have actually been yawning 😊 He’s been terrific! He leads the team in rushing & in rushing TD’s. I like the way that he sets up blocks & uses them. He also runs north/south (towards the goal line) often avoiding  the 1st would-be tackler. He sets them up & then blasts by the defender. It’s been a GOLDEN ROAD for Schroeder & the Tigers. Congrats to him for his hard work & persistence!!

….the Blues certainly began the 22-23 season skating back & forth from the ROCKY ROAD to the GOLDEN ROAD.  Their 0-3 start was followed by an 8 game losing streak. Now the Blues have won 6 consecutive games! Some fans may remember that the start of the Blues 18-19 season  which ended up with a Stanley Cup Parade. The Blues lost 5 of their first 6 games (included 3 ties). They were still 7-10-3 on Nov 21. No one that I knew was talking of Stanley Cup Titles on those days 😊 Hopefully, they’ll keep rolling this year –all the way into May/June like the GOLDEN 2019 Cup year.

….I was lucky to be @ the Chaivetz Arena as the Billikens jumped onto the GOLDEN ROAD with their win over Memphis. It was college basketball at its best—many super plays, dynamic perimeter shooting from both teams, Yuri’s GOLDEN PASSES to set up his teammates, a very excited engaged crowd and a terrific ending for the Billikens. The glue of the team, Yuri Collins, iced the game with his late, crucial Free Throws. Doesn’t it almost always come down to the late FT?

…When Alex Reyes joined the Cardinals for the 1st time in 2016, he was crowned as the next pitching start as he began his GOLDEN CAREER.  Well…not so much…since that time he’s experienced arm issues on several occasions (including a surgery). He’s been on a ROCKY ROAD as he’s bounced around in his “role”. He’s been a starter, a closer, a middle-relief hurler, a mop-up guy. He was clearly the Jack-of-all-Trades—Master of NONE😊  There was really only 1 season of good, strong consistency for the entire year—his 1st year—2016 when he pitched in 12 games. Most other years there would be glimpses of the magic that Cards expected. Then poof—sore arm, bad outings, control issues, yada-yada-yada. Finally the Cards lost their patience and released him this week.

…when Josh Heupel took over the Tennesse Vols (2 years ago) they went 3-7 and were definitely  walking  the ROCKY ROAD. Last year showed a mild improvement to 7-6. Now the Vols are walking on the GOLDEN ROAD…ranked #1 in the Nation. Sure.. they spanked MU…and probably piled it up to ensure that #1 ranking. Consider that the last time that Tennessee had been #1 was in 1998. Prior to that, the only 2 other times that Volunteers had reached the #1 ranking was in 1951 & 1939 under legendary Coach, Bob Neyland.

…Conversely, Aaron Judge walked the GOLDEN ROAD in 2022. His batting marks were amazing! He belted 62 HR’s, 131 RBI’s, scored 133 Runs, was Walked 111x, His OBP was .425, slugging % .686 and his OPS (OBP + slug % ) was 1.111—all the best in the Majors in 2022. Now, he’s close to walking the ROCKY ROAD of negotiations. He’s asking $300m. Only a few MLB teams can even discuss that level of contract. It may be Rockier than he expects (until he lowers his asking price). He’s earned a measly $39m thus far in his career.

..Well…I hope that this read has been GOLDEN read for you and  not a ROCKY ONE 😊 I’m always interested in YOUR thoughts on any of these topics. Post on my Facebook page or send to me (rjryansr@charter.net) & I’ll post it for you with your initials. Missed a blog or two, visit my web site—bobryansportsblog.com GOLDEN COMMENTS or ROCKY COMMENTS are all invited!  Thanks for your read! Bob