The Sports world is always changing…but it seems like It’s TURNED UPSIDE DOWN right now.

…Cardinals in last place!!! I NEVER thought that I’d see the day.  I always thought that one of the motley crew of Cincy, Pittsburgh or the Cubbies would shield us from the basement! Scoring runs is an issue. We’re 16th in the league in Runs but in this TURNED UPSIDE DOWN world, we’re 4th in our own division in runs scored! WOW! As I write this on Thursday, , the Cubs are 5th, Pittsburgh is 8th and Milwaukee is 13th!!

…Speaking  the Central Division, Pittsburgh is in 1st place as I write this!! Huh? The Pirates are 20-8 in 2023. In the TURNED UPSIDE DOWN WORLD! Who are the starters?…well…heck if I’ve haven’t heard of most of them. Start with a few ol’ guys that we recognize—Andrew McCutchen—that’s it!  The batting leaders—Bryan Reynolds, Connor Joe (his last name is JOE), Jack Suwinski-cf and several other young players are wiping away the memories of decades of futility. Give credit to the Pirates scouting system & the development of this group of players. Amazingly, O’Neil Cruz, their top prospect, is on the 60-day IL! He’ll be back in mid-summer.

…We want Mizzou football to move up the ladder. You can only do that by winning (especially in conference games). Competing in the SEC ALWAYS provides strong opponents annually.  Mizzou, who wants to “move up the ladder” has the 5th toughest schedule in NCAA-F in 2023 according to a pre-season article. Opponents win % is 61.8%. Shouldn’t the very top teams like Bama & Georgia go out & schedule at least 2 very good non-conference opponents to SHOW that they truly are the one of the best teams. Instead, the mediocre teams have to play the really good teams to show that they are Good. IT SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME!

…Sometimes it seems that the Gods of Football just don’t like Mizzou. After the Tigers get soundly whipped 40-12 against Kansas State in the Whatever it Was Bowl Game, who do the Tigers face in game 3 –yep… Kansas State! The idea of 2022 Bowl teams playing other 2022 Bowl teams is appealing but NOT the exact same opponent. IT SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME. Btw….I think an improvement would be to mandate that each school save week 2 as non-league game against another team from a comparable league. SEC teams could be aligned with the Big 10 teams.  Pac12 with Big 12, etc. The usual 3 cupcakes as non-league opponents are still gagging me—too much of too sweet & easy.

…How about the “family that plays together, stays together” approach in the MLB.  Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe are actually brothers playing on the same team—Tampa Bay! Ironically, being like “true” brothers  (i.e. that don’t agree an anything), they don’t even pronounce their last name the say way!! THAT REALLY SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME!

…Of course we expect the NCAA-F powers to have tremendous recruiting classes. The “others” rarely hear the word “strong recruiting class” coming after the name. But… IT WAS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN THIS YEAR in Nashville! Vanderbilt had a surprisingly strong class. HC James Franklin took Vandy to a bowl last year so he’s running with the momentum of that accomplishment. Vandy has 22 commitments so far and probably will add a few more before the signing day. The class is headlined by Scout.com’s 4- star rated running back Brian Kimbrow and 4-star defensive end Josh Dawson.

….Vanderbilt has a very interesting start to its school. Cornelius Vanderbilt(his nickname was the Commodore) who made an obscene amount of money in the early formational days of railroading NEVER attended a school. His wife was “big” into education—he was not. As a gift to her, he formed the school way out West (he lived from 1794-1877) and named it after himself. THAT REALLY SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME… a non-educator, non-schooled person founded one of the premier educational schools in the USA!!

….Many times, it seems, we label certain colleges as “football schools” or “basketball schools” . The inference is that most of their resources are derived from and spent on the “Cash Cow” (usually football). The idea that a good football school with national recognition may excel in baseball is never on the radar. THAT SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME.  I’d think that it’d be easier to recruit athletes of all sports when you can show case the Football achievements.  Well…who’s #1 right now in NCAA-Baseball?  LSU hold that spot with a 32-7 record. LSU finished #17 in the last 2022 football poll (4th best in SEC). The SEC has 4 of the top 5 spots currently in NCAA Baseball #2-Wake Forest (not SEC); #3-S. Carolina; #4-Florida and #5-Vanderbilt! Arkansas is not far behind @ #7. But… the baseball poll does have some names seldom seen in ANY High ranking polls of any sport–#9 is Campbell; #19 is Dallas Baptist!

….After  a few short years of the XFL, some passing thoughts…Clearly the “center piece” of the league is St. Louis. The attendance in the Lou is the “shining” part of the League. TV viewing numbers seem to reach a  modest level and then … level off. The Battlehawks can’t be the ONLY team with 30,000 in attendance if the league is to survive. The “new” rules on extra points and modifications and other rule alterations make the game fast moving & interesting. The draw back is – it’s a league of NO-NAMES.  Sports fans want to identify with recognizable names. The prospect of the league’s survival  SOUNDS UPSIDE DOWN TO ME.  More owners HAVE to make money on their team. They have to get & keep some “known” name players (who will cost more). Yet…these aren’t charitable organizations—they have to make money. I don’t know if it can be done with the current approach.

…I came across a Fantasy Ranking of the TOP 2023 Players. It was different from what we hear about the depth & quality of our Cardinals team. The inference is that they the Cards have a wealth of  GOOD players-especially outfielders. THAT’S TURNED UPSIDE DOWN from the actual statistics.  The returners—Carlson, O’Neill & Nootbaar in 26 games carry together a total of 4 HR, 15 RBI’s. Batting averages of .250, .247, & .239. The league average in On-Base- Percentage  (OBP) is .330. These Cards OF are .300, .307 & NOOT is .426. These rankings have Tommy Edman listed #5 in the MLB as a 2b & #10 as a SS. The Cards better chose one or the other for him. Bouncing him around isn’t what you do with your steadiest middle-infielder.

…That wraps it up this week. It’d be great to have many of you continue to send in your thoughts. I publish all of them on the Bob Ryan Facebook page. Some disagree, some agree, many bring up clever angles on the topics. NO ONE IS WRONG….everyone has their OWN thoughts based on their personal background & interests.  THERE’S NOTHNG UPSIDE DOWN ABOUT THAT!  😊

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