SO CLOSE…YET SO FAR AWAY!

Sometimes, we’re in a situation where we feel that we are close to something (a new job, car, relationship, etc)but are really still are Far Away. So, welcome to SO CLOSE YET SO FAR WAY!

….Our St Louis Cardinals have passionate fan base that supports them well…very well. They always feel that they are SO CLOSE to a long post-season rampage. But, in the last 4 years, they’ve really been FAR AWAY. In the last 4 years, the Cards have won just 1 of 8 post season games w/o winning even 1 series. In a deeper look, the Cards have won 1 series in the last 7 years, in the next series after they DID win, were whipped 4-0 by Washington in the very next series! So…the Cards are SO CLOSE YET SO FAR AWAY w/o a stronger starting pitcher(s) who can face the batters from the best teams and get them out for 6-7 innings. By contrast, 6 of the ’22 NL playoff teams have spent over $200m in contract money for 2023. The Cards are at $174m for ’23. Good players cost money…big money… these days!

….While many Cardinal fans are very “involved” daily in the Cardinals, many may feel like they are SO CLOSE  to the Cards but really are SO FAR AWAY to the inner workings of the Cards. Notice some of the major departures from the Cards Coaching staff of last year. Gone are Skip Schumacher (easily understood as he accepted a managerial position), Chief batting instructor- Jeff Albert; veteran pitching Coach Mike Maddux & Bullpen Coach Brian Eversgerd.  Coincidental? To me, these departures speak loudly to their relationship with their new manager, Marmol, after several years of working with other Cards managers. Possibly, their voices of experience & knowledge were trumped by Ollie’s analytics.

….Carlos Correa has been SO CLOSE YET SO FAR AWAY from signing his free agency deal this winter. The Twins thought they had a deal with Correa but SF Giants jumped in and offered him $350m-13 year contract. He got serious with them.Then the NY Mets jumped it up to $315 on a 12 year deal. Correa fled to NY to negotiate. Correa had to feel like he was onto a really tremendous block-buster.  But…then…it seemed FAR AWAY as the medical staffs of the Giants AND the Mets were not “comfortable” with his surgically repaired right leg and each team withdrew their offer. So What once seemed SO CLOSE was now FAR AWAY. Turning down the 1st Giants offer and looked for more (sidenote—really looking for more than $350m?) actually cost him. The Twins now countered with a measly 6year, $200m deal. Sooo…Correa cost himself $150m (he won’t get any pity from fans, that’s for sure😊)These MLB players may think that they are SO CLOSE to society but in reality…they are FAR, FAR AWAY!

…the baseball Quiz his week—This player has led the Major Leagues in 4 major statistical categories every full year of his big league career. This is very, very unusual!  HOF’ers Robin Yount, Ryne Sandberg or Ron Santo rarely led the MLB in any ONE category in a year! All of YOU had heard his name over the last several years many times. Who is he?

…Last week, I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch the Billikens in person. The Bills edged George Mason 63-62 as Yuri Collins knocked down a FT with 1.7 seconds left. While sitting SO CLOSE (and not the Television FAR AWAY look), I couldn’t help but notice Travis Ford….and no one else could either. He was always at mid-court or actually on the court—yelling at his players or at the referees. He was ejected from the game with his 2nd Technical foul in the 2nd half. The Billikens seemed to play better after his departure. I believe his constant yelling (seemingly negative)from mid-court or on the court, seems to make his players “look over their shoulder”. I don’t ever see him applauding or praising their efforts. As a Coach, you need some of each! When he’s SO CLOSE that they seem “tight”.  Now he generally stands @ mid-court with his constant barrage. When HE WAS FAR AWAY(in the locker room)….the Billikens (from my view) seemed to play better. When one looks closer @ his 7 years career with the Bills, he’s never finished higher than 4th in the Atlantic-10 which isn’t one of the tougher conferences in the NCAA. From my view, the Mt Rushmore of Billiken Coaches is: Rick Majerus, Charlie Spoonhour, Rich Grawer, Eddie Hickey & John Benington.

….Remember the greatest college Coach of them all, John Wooden. In one way, he was SO CLOSE Yet HE WAS FAR AWAY as he sat on the bench (or chair) with the program rolled up in his hand, often legs crossed. Not yelling…or standing… or harassing the officials. Very seldom got up on his feet while action was going on. Seldom called time outs. He felt like that if he had trained his team correctly, they’d know what to do. If they didn’t, it was HIS fault, not the players! He won TEN NCAA Championships with all different types of players. His 1st NCAA title used the ground-breaking 3-1-1 press continually with guard Gail Goodrich as the “gunner” & Keith Erickson as the key man on the press. The Kareem Abdul Jabbar (known as Lou Alcindor in that era) was a tremendous post player @ UCLA.  The era’s of center Bill Walton then Forward Reggie Miller kept the Bruins rolling. Remember, players couldn’t leave early—they had 4 year commitments (not 1,2, 3 or 5 or 6 year commitments like today.

….Speaking of Basketball….the NBA (Nobody Bothers Anymore) in St Louis is FAR AWAY from most sports conversations in the Lou. I recall vividly the excitement centered around the St Louis Hawks when fans felt SO CLOSE to the team. The Golden Era of Bob Pettit, Lenny Wilkens, Cliff Hagan, Charlie Share, Lou Hudson, etc lit up the Lou. In case you’ve missed it, StL’s own Jason Tatum is one of the top scorers in the NBA this year. He’s 5th in points scored & 2nd in scoring average in the NBA for 22-23 season. In quick “looks” at the NBA, the games seem easier to watch, in some ways easier than college basketball! Players & Coaches don’t EVER talk, much less argue, with officials. Players can shoot from WAY, WAY out. Every little bump doesn’t result in a foul. In fact, when the offensive player initiates the contact, no foul is called on the defender as it often does in the NCAA. Much to my surprise, there are women officials in the NBA! Apparently, the league is in a tremendous financial situation probably due to the fact that the NBA’s salary structure is essentially built to ensure that players and owners share revenue equally. Now…the NBA owners don’t have the huge expense of the minor leagues—they have the NCAA to fill their needs in that respect. Sooo..without that huge expense it makes it much easier to deal on equal bargaining fields

…Answer to the baseball quiz is Mike Trout!….Well, you’ve been SO CLOSE to me during the read and now will be FAR AWAY for another week 😊 As always Thanks for your time & the read! If you’ve missed any from the past 7 years, check out www.bobryansportsblog.com. Some of the older ones are amusing to read again—long after circumstances have changed.  Bob

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