Every major presentation on the Stage, there’s always lots going on BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Same is true in the sports world.

…After the final loss of the Season on VCU, St Louis U has to look behind the curtain to see what’s going on. After that final loss (SLU did not get invited to ANY post-season tourneys), some news from BEHIND THE CURTAIN.  Coach  Ford made the comment,” “It was so disappointing and it wasn’t because of their pressure,” Ford said. “It was just carelessness, being casual. We were very nonchalant and casual.” Well Coach, it’s YOUR job to not allow the nonchalant, casual approach. As I’ve mentioned previously, the constant yelling while standing up along the sidelines by Ford during the action may be wearing on the players over the course of a 30+ game season. For many players, it was their 2nd or 3rd season with Ford so that may have added to the “deafness” of his words. As many of the 22-23 players will be “moving on”, Ford may need to look in the mirror and reevaluate his own performance.

….@ Busch stadium, Mgr Oliver Marmol jumped into the spotlight. In a game this week, Tyler O’Neill was thrown out at home in a key spot of the game. As the play took place, from my sofa, I commented, “He wasn’t running full speed…maybe he was afraid of pulling “something”. The Cards lost the game. After the game, Mgr Marmol castigated O’Neill for “not hustling”. I don’t blame him for that at all. But…..why go public with it?  BEHIND THE CURTAIN….Ollie didn’t go “public” to impress his team—from my view, it was to pacify the public. It seemed that he wanted to leave the impression that HE WAS IN CHARGE. It’s a bit of a hangover from the post-season muff of Ollie–pulling Jose Quintana. He was heavily criticized for the move. Maybe..maybe…it shook his confidence. I’m feeling like that isn’t the way that current day players expect to be treated. If you’re unhappy with a player, settle it “in house” with a man-man discussion (even if it’s a 1-sided “discussion”). Leave it there!

…At times, I wonder if the Cardinals as they shuffle, reshuffle, & alternate their outfielders on almost a daily basis regret sending away Randy Arozarena. Look BEHIND THE CURTAIN to find his story. After a 2019 loss, Manager Mike Shildt was very unhappy.  Arozarena taped his F-bombs coming out as he blasted the team. The tape went public. After the season, Arozarena  was sent to Tampa Bay for pitcher Matthew Liberatore & catcher Edguardo Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Schildt was fired by the Cardinals. The ol’ “philosophical differences” card was played by the Cards when he was fired. That card is usually played when a team doesn’t want to disclose their REAL feelings. I really do believe that there were 2 factors. 1) Schildt disagreed with newly hired Batting Coach Jeff Albert about his techniques. 2) Another part of his firing may have been due to the embarrassment of the tape of his post-game tirade that was taped & made public by Arozarena. As good of owners as the DeWitt’s are, they seem to be rather thin-skinned when it comes to criticism. Arozarena was dispatched in the off-season to Tampa Bay. Seemingly, it wasn’t for his play but his mistake in judgment in the locker room.  We’ve tried replacing him with a multitude of players (none of whom have locked down an OF spot).  Looking @ the Cards OF—O’Neill has been over .270 once in his career & Carlson has never topped .266 in his time. Lars Nootbaar, a fan favorite, hit .228 last year. Jordan Walker may become that strong OF batter that the Cards are seeking. But, it’s way too early to make a strong judgment.  Meanwhile, Arozarena has built a 4 year career batting average of .270, with 40 HR over his last 2 seasons as a regular for the Rays. The Cards still have high hopes, with question marks, for Liberatore. In 2022 in AAA, his 22 stats he posted a 5.17 ERA in 115 innings which did not bolster his status. On the up-side, He did punch out 9.1 batters/9 inn but his walks also went up.

….If the MLB wants more of a balanced league, i.e. teams moving up & down in the standings, changes would have to be made. Contrast the NFL v MLB… In the NFL, the differences between the team with the highest salary and the lowest salary is $243m to $194m. So the entire league is very close in team salary base. It shows in that the team with the longest NFL  Playoff drought currently is 12 years– the NY Jets.  Meanwhile, the MLB team payrolls range in 2023 ranges from #1 NY Mets @ $355m down to #30 Oakland @ $57m. The highest 7 payrolls belong to extremely huge Metropolitan areas—NY Mets, NY Yankees, San Diego, Phil, LA Dodgers, LA Angels, Toronto. The Pirates, A’s, Cincy, Cleveland, KC’s of the MLB are on the other end. Realistically they usually just can’t compete—You get what you pay for!

…These smaller, older cities have far fewer gigantic businesses & the huge population to support the team. The Cardinals are really an aberration!  We are relatively small but extremely well managed by ownership. The DeWitts decided 5-7 years ago that the best route to follow would be a heavy emphasis on player development with a skilled scouting system. In addition, the latest technology is continually updated to chart the progress of each player. With this system,  the Cards have competed at a high level. Maybe not the World Series Champions….but continual playoff teams.

….BEHIND THE CURTAIN….the real differences of the 2 leagues is the relationship with the TV networks. The NFL controls all televised presentations for the entire league. Meanwhile, the MLB also uses the national network for some games & all the post-season. However, throughout the regular season each team sets up their own networks for games outside the national presentations. There is a very wide difference in the depth of the earnings on these local games. Hence, a very wide difference in pay scales.

….the MLB is being real, real quiet about the Oakland situation. Last week, Oakland drew a scant 3,407 fans to their 1st home game.  There were 11 AAA (minor league) games that drew more fans to their games than Oakland! BEHIND THE CURTAIN…The MLB hesitates to make the consideration of a franchise move to a new location public. But…the Oakland situation is really bad. There were NO home games at all for Oakland in 2020 due to Covid which seems to have left a lasting impact. In 2019, the A’s drew 20000+/game. In 2021, after Covid,  it was 8660 fans/game. 2022 saw a minimal rise to 9849/game. Look for Omaha, Charlotte, Nashville, Indianapolis to throw their “hats into the ring” for the A’s.

….Well…that’s all from BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Thanks for the read… I heartedly welcome your thoughts & responses.  Have a super week!  Bob

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