SURPRISE GIFTS !  There are all kinds of gifts..practical, funny, jokes, unique, some that will never be used, etc.  In sports we have our own SURPRISE GIFTS.

…Although he clearly belongs, the election of Scott Rolen to the MLB HOF was somewhat of a SURPRISE GIFT ! There are only 15 3b in the HOF. Compared to the other to the other 14 3b, he does stack up very well. By comparison to the other HOF 3b–He’s 7th in OPS, he’s 11th in AVG, 6th in HR,  7th in RBI’s, 8th in Runs Scored. He was a smooth fielding, strong hitting player for the Cards. I really enjoyed his play over his 6 Cardinal seasons. He was a part of 4 post-season teams—2002-Lost NLCS to Giants; 2004-Lost Word Series to Boston; 2005-Lost Houston in NLCS; 2006- Won World Series.

…The Blues SURPRISE GIFT isn’t always what we expected or wanted. Topping the disappointment least for me… is Kolton Parayko. Expected to be the leader on the defensive side of things, he’s struggled. His play, which was never really physical, continues to show more & more turnovers in the defensive end. The playoffs are starting to look like a distant dream as the Blues are the 6th place team in the division. Another SURPRISE GIFT…unfortunately … is the goals against the Blues is 6th highest in the entire NHL.

…After watching the Blues-Arizona shoddy, almost effort-less game, it won’t be a SURPRISE GIFT to me if  Blues GM begins to unload some of these veterans immediately.

…the Cardinals SURPRISE GIFT was their list of Arbitration Eligible players. It’s contains some  key players. Here’s the current list along with ‘22 salary- Jordan Montgomery-$10.1m; Jack Flaherty $5.1m; Tyler O’Neill-$5.1m; Tommy Edman-$4.3m; Dakota Hudson-$2.7m; closer-Ryan Helsley-$2.4m. After the arbitration years comes free agency. Sooo..these are important contracts. On occasion, the arbitration experience sours either (or both) parties and leads to a quick look to free agency the following year. To me, Edman would be my 1st signee. 

….The Mizzou Tigers SURPRISE GIFT was their use of the Transfer Portal. Picking up a deep-throwing QB from Miami with 3 years left of eligibility. This should benefit the run game since the D-Backs will have to back up to guard against the long ball.. Other additions 3 def backs—all with 2+ years remaining. Thus far, the Tigers have added 8 players through the Portal. On the other side of it, 16 Mizzou players have left. Seems alarming…but..only 2 are transferring to SEC schools. Many are transferring to lower level programs—W. Kentucky, Alcorn State, Texas State, etc.  Judging from the transfers leaving, it doesn’t seem like a loss of many key players. It does, however, bring into question, why or how, the Mizzou staff recruited them  to compete at the SEC level? It’s clear from the “new” teams of these transfers  that the proper evaluation of their ability level was really overrated. That’s a concern.

…A SURPRISE GIFT … at least in 1 way…for the Billiken fans is that the Billikens are on their way to their 6th straight winning season under Travis Ford. The SLU record for the longest streak of .500+ records (.500 doesn’t cut it) is 18 straight years—1942-1961. Bob Klenk, who coached the Bills 3 years, started the streak in his last year @ 11-10. Dukes Duford did it just 1 year while going 10-4. Remember, this was WWII time. John Flanigan went 13-11 & 18-11 in his 2 years. Eddie Hickey was over .500 in all of his 11 years—5 times over 20 wins!! John Bennington went 20-6, 19-8, 21-9  in his first 3 years. In his 4th year the streak ended with a 11-15 mark for the 61-62.  In the following 4 years, Billikens bounced back over .500 again! Travis Ford was under .500 in his 1st year with 12-21 record. Since that time he’s been over .500 with 3 of those seasons being over the 20 win plateau. Keep it rolling!!

…Some the tremendous St Louis athletes have been SURPRISE GIFTS for us to watch. For one, I never guessed that my Alg I student, Larry Hughes, would ever become a 17 year NBA player! 17 years is a long, long time to be in the NBA. Congrats to him for his hard work & skill to be in the NBA that long.

….Maybe the best baseball player EVER from the Lou was from the “Hill”. Yogi Berra is probably the best MLB player to ever come out of the Lou! In his 14 seasons, he was the primary catcher as they reached the  post-season appearances in all 14 years that  included 10 World Championships. His career batting average was .285! His career OPS was .830…to give you an idea of how good that is… the great Johnny Bench had a career OPS of .817!! Some fans never respected Yogi’s skills because of his “Yogi”isms. 

….Jackie Joyner-Kersee was known as a tremendous basketball player in her “day” @ East St Louis. But, she was just showing us the tip of the iceberg. She went way, way beyond that level with 3 Olympic gold medals, 4 World Outdoor Championships gold medals, and the still-standing world record of 7,291 points in the women’s heptathlon. She was an international  track star. Considered by some…maybe many… to be the greatest female all-around athlete in history.

…Another tremendous athlete was Kristin Folkl-Kaburakis. The St. Joseph’s Academy grad led her basketball and volleyball teams to state championships ALL FOUR years. Then she led Stanford to THREE NCAA volleyball titles. That was followed by a 4 year WNBA career.

…There are many other StL star athletes….just to name a few… but not in any order—Pat McBride, Al Trost, Craig Virgin, Dick Weber, Leon & Michael Spinks, Roy Sievers, Mike Shannon, Archie Moore, Jimmie Connors, Chuck McKinley, Arthur Ashe. I’m sure that I missed some…it’s nothing personal 😊

…Well…I’m sure that there other many other tremendous St Louis athletes & I’m sure that many of you will point them out to me & other readers. I welcome YOUR thoughts! If you’ve missed a Buzz or 2…go to my website— to catch up. Comments on this Buzz are found on my Facebook page (send them in…we all have our own opinion).

Have a great week!  Bob