While growing up, the Public Bus (Bi-State) was considered a viable option. As a youngster, I took THE BUS RIDE to Cardinals games @ Busch 1 on N. Grand. I also took it downtown to see the StL Hawks &/or Billikens play. While riding A BUS RIDE, all types of different people entered & exited. Each had their own story…. Sooo I’m taking a SPORTS BUS RIDE this week & checking out some of the riders.

…Walking on 1st   ON THE BUS RIDE  was young, happy man. That man was Jordan Walker. He was drafted #21 in the 2020 draft and was slated to “come up” to the Cards later this year. But…he’s been slugging the ball in Florida all over & OUT of the Park. Despite being ranked very high by scouting experts (Baseball America had him at #4, It was #5 for Keith Law of The Athletic, FanGraphs @  #8 and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN @ #14). The Cards originally had plans to start him in the minors this year. Obviously to save themselves an extra year before he becomes eligible for free agency by having him miss the cutoff for a rookie. Missing 16 games or more in the MLB, doesn’t count as a full MLB season according to the agreement. Hence, a player would need 6 more years in the MLB to qualify for free agency! Missing just 15 games  or less means that the player would have that year considered a “full” year toward his free agency & arbitration seasons. Walker has come out blasting the baseball in Florida.  If he continues, he’ll DEMAND (by his actions) a roster spot.  Now… the other guys following him were men(maybe the Cards brass?) with a worried look. IF…and that’s a big IF… the Cards do bring him up early. I would like to see some things happen….1st, put him in the lineup every day in the middle of  lineup. Either, bat him between Arenado & Goldy or directly in front of both of them. That way, he’d get more strikes thrown to him. #2, one of the current OF would have to be moved. I’m guessing it’d be Carlson. Despite all the hype, his 3 year career numbers are not real sparkling. His lifetime avg is .247. He has 29 HR in his 1226 AB’s. He has struck out 281 times. From a different angle—he’s struck out once every 3.8 AB’s!!  O’Neill could easily move to CF. O’Neill, who has put together one terrific year, still may not be as attractive to other teams. His tendency to miss so many games due to injuries is a concern. He was on the DL (or IL) for 63 days last year! Lars Nootbaar, has not established himself, yet, as a proven outfielder.  STL will be hunting for a strong starting pitcher (preferably a lefty). The men kept talking & gesturing as they took a seat.

…A  man, apparently a physician,still in his white coat jumped on the BUS RIDE next, just outside the hospital. Apparently, he had just come from the operation on LA Dodger star 2b- Gavin Lux. He was on his way to the next hospital a 2 blocks away. Lux tore his ACL last week & will miss the entire ’23 season. A severe loss to the Dodgers (I think I’m hearing your heart crack out of pity 😊)

….Possibly, the next man walking onto the bus could help. He looked like an executive(sport coat, no tie, white shirt, some swagger in his walk) & was scratching his head. Maybe he was thinking about the possibility of the Cards moving one of their members of their unsettled infield to LA due to the Lux injury? Or, maybe he was thinking of moving Tommy Edman to LA with other “prospects” to LA for a starter. Brendan Donovan seems ready for 2b. But, the exec sat down and read the sports section with the trade out of his mind for this SHORT BUS RIDE.

…next a person entered who looked he’d had a tough week or so and sat right in across from me ON THE BUS RIDE. I noticed the paper he was reading was a week old. Yet, he was reading it! My curiosity made me look across the aisle and read it too!  Yep…he was reading about the 1st game of the St Louis City SC team.  City had won their 1st game EVER by winning in Austin, Tx. Last year this Austin FC team made it all the way to the Western Conference Final. Austin jumped ahead 2-0. Now I don’t know much at all about soccer but I DO know that a 2-0 deficit in higher levels of soccer is usually a cinch WIN.  The 1st goal in City history was by Tim Parker on a header in the 24th minute. Jared Stroud evened it up @2 in the 78th minute. Then, seemingly headed for extra time, João Klauss scored in the 86th minute(of the 90 min match) and St. Louis City SC made its 1st match unforgettable with a 3-2 victory over Austin FC. Shockingly (at least to me) Roman Bürki  didn’t make a single save for St. Louis City throughout the entire match!!

…oops…out of the corner of my eye,  I saw a young lady doing a Sudoku ON THE BUS RIDE with extreme attention to it and it reminded me about making up a quiz. Can you answer it? This former Cardinal played 13 years of his 16 year career in the Lou. He was 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1991. He had 238 HR & 258 Stolen bases in his career. He had 1561 hits & 1550 strikeouts in his career! In his 4 post-season series(not in 1 year), he struck out 14x with 7 hits. Who am I?  Answer is given later in this Buzz. Guess NOW..its getting late in the BUS RIDE.

…then a man came in who was “feeling no pain”.  He held out his hands to hang onto the poles as he wobbled to the 1st open seat after clinging to the poles to keep his balance ON THE BUS RIDE. He plopped down into the seat. “It’ll all be even now” he slurred as he plopped into his seat. He was talking about the schedule in the MLB. In ’23 each team will play 13 games against each division rival for a total of 52 games. 6 or 7 against each other club in their league for a total of 64 games. The remaining 46 games will be interleague games. A home and away 2-game series against their so-called natural rival and a single 3-game series against each of the 14 other clubs in the opposite league. I think the Cards natural rival is little brother—KC Royals!  Sooo….we’ll see every team in the MLB at least once every 2 years @ Busch. Baseball was the one of the few, may the lone professional sport, that a fan wouldn’t see LIVE all of the teams over a couple year period prior to this change.

…At the next stop ON THE BUS RID, I saw an older gentleman dressed in badly outdated clothes shuffling up the steps. I thought that I recognized him….oh yea…it was Father Time. Luckily, he sat directly in front of me. Then he took out a list. I couldn’t contain my curiosity….I peeked over his shoulder.  It was a list. Apparently, he was on his way to “tapping” all kinds of people in various jobs & duties. I couldn’t stop looking over his shoulder at the list…then…suddenly… I saw the name Adam Wainwright on the list.  I sat back..stopped looking at the list…he had been SOOOO good of a pitcher, a strong man, and a person. But…as I thought about it, Fr Time was right!

…Then a young, athletic looking man- 6-2ish, wide shoulders ,  shiny (meaning expensive) clothes, walked confidently on THE BUS while shaking his head. He sat right in front of me. I heard him mumbling about “going broke” to a stranger sitting next to him. As I listened more to him, it sounded like Diamond Sports Group ( it owns Balle Sports-our local distributor) which holds the cable rights to 42 MLB, NBA, NHL teams looks to be going bankrupt! Many of those teams have been told to expect their local media “rights” fees to be cut by much as 70% of the next several years. That revenue is one of  the highest of many of the leagues affiliated with the Cable networks. It could drop from 10% up to 70%!! Deals will have to be “reworked” (business mumble-jumble for “cut”). This will impact ALL the teams—especially those that have very profitable deals with Diamond/Balle. MLB should expect a cut …probably a severe cut in revenue. The loser in this….as always …is the fans.

…The Answer to the Quiz is Ray Lankford!

….From the back of THE BUS, a tall man kept talking loudly to no one particular about basketball to the entire back of the bus but no one particular. He was rambling on & on about b-ball & the NCAA. It made ME stop & think. Right now..the way it is, the NCAA has 68 teams & the NIT has 32 teams. Both tournaments are owned by the NCAA. Why not combine them.  I don’t think that there are 100 “good” teams that belong in post-season basketball. I’d like the NCAA Tourney to be cut down to 48 teams. Meanwhile, have the NIT start with 64 teams, have 2 rounds prior to NCAA . After 2 rounds of games, move the remaining 16 teams into the NCAA Tourney. That would give you the magical 64 teams for the NCAA tournament. What does it mean NOW to win the NIT? Can any of you tell me who won it last year. I can’t. It means nothing. Give it some real meaning. The only drawback is that it’s fewer games, hence the NCAA pockets would not be so stuffed with greenbacks after the tournament.

…Well…I had reached my “stop” ON THE BUS RIDE. It was time to get off. I stood up, pulled the cord above me & hurried off. Thanks for staying on the ride with me today. I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on any of the “riders” or ideas on this BUS RIDE. Have a fun week! Bob

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