Sunday, April 26, 2015

Straw Meets Camel's Back

Shit gets you down. A lot of shit gets you way down. And sometimes sports doesn't give you a break from shit, it only piles it higher and deeper.

Granted my shit baseline is pretty deep these days. I've been unemployed for ten months and, if employers are to be believed, I'm simply unemployable unless 'you'd like fries with that' becomes my career path. So, you can imagine how "helpful" it is to me to sit down and watch Adam Wainwright blow out his Achilles tendon, or to hear the news last autumn about Oscar Taveras.

And then we get to the St. Louis Blues. There is no way I can do a post-mortem because I simply cannot stand it or them anymore. They have mattered so much to me since I was a 10 year old kid that they have used me up. It turns out 36 years of futility is my limit. It is impossible for me to believe someone could be a fan, and I mean a real fan, and last longer than I did. Every year they trot out some Cubs "fan" who claims 70 years plus, but that has to be bullshit. There is no way someone who really cared could last that long. I've known mothers that have disowned their own children, human beings they loved with all of their heart and soul, for less than what the Cubs have done to their fan base routinely. The only way you could last that long is if deep down you really don't care. And, don't get me wrong, that's cool for the people who are just enjoying following sports as a bit of play acting. It can be loads of fun to pretend you care about something. Why else would people adopt Cinderellas so readily. You don't actually care that that 14 seed you'd never heard of before they won a couple games in the NCAA gets knocked out in the Elite Eight. It's just fun to act like you do. When the ride ends, it ends.

In many ways I've always thought the film Fever Pitch, and here I'm talking about the real English soccer version and not the Americanized abomination, got a lot right about being a true fan. When the girlfriend of the main character chirps in the helpful "It's only a game!" the response is dead on. "Don't say that. That is the stupidest thing anyone could ever say. It quite obviously is not only a game. If it was do you honestly think I'd care this much?!"

What it misses out on is the hopelessness it can engender. The character Paul in Fever Pitch, and the author Nick Hornby on which the character is based, only had to endure a drought of eighteen years between Arsenal championships, and even then they won an FA Cup in the longish interval. The angst there is having been good and failing for awhile to reach those same heights. The Blues, on the other hand, have never been that good. Ever. Even when they reached the Stanley Cup finals, before I was born and when I was less than a year old, it was a fluke born to dodgy business decisions. They truly didn't belong there. The real championship was the semifinals played in the other conference. Everyone knows it even if they are too polite to talk about it that way. That is what the Blues were and what they have always been.

Seemingly it is what they always will be too, and that is what I cannot stomach. It's taking too much out of me and not putting anything back in. There is no joy to be had there any longer so I'm putting the Blues away. I'm not watching them, or the NHL in general, any longer. I've already boxed up everything I own with the Blues logo and tucked it away deep in a closet possibly never to be opened again in my lifetime. But, at least I'll have the satisfaction of knowing it won't be the Blues or the NHL sending me to an early grave.

That is something I suppose.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 North American Sports Teams Most Needing To Win A Championship - #10 - #6

It goes without saying that every team wants to win. It also goes without saying that every team has fans that are crushed when their hero's fall short time and time again. So, as far as it goes and all things being equal, every team needs to win championships.

However, all things are not equal. There are some franchises whose dry streaks just scream out a little bit more insistently because of their history or their place in their respective sports hierarchy. So, I'll be giving you my perspective and ranking these extra needy franchises starting at the 10th most needy and ending with the most terribly needy franchise. Oh, the places we will go!

#10) Seattle Sounders - MLS

"Wait. What?" many of you are saying. It seems incongruous that a team that has only been in the top flight of American soccer since 2007 should be on this list. However, the Sounders are in many ways the model MLS franchise and a poster child for what the league always hoped the sport could become in the United States. The synergy that exist between the club and its fan is truly awe inspiring, and the only thing missing is an MLS Cup victory. Yes, the New York Red Bulls have a longer futility streak, but they are one season away from becoming the also ran team in New York city. And, yes, the New England Revolution has a Buffalo Bill's style history of coming up just short. But, the Revs winning it all seems like its only a matter of time. Neither New York's or New England's winning is likely to have the same sort of impact so I'm picking Seattle.

#9) St. Louis Blues - NHL

If it were left to me the Blues would rank #1 on this list because they are my team. This is the team whose many, many playoff failures have hurt me the most. This is mostly because they have usually been good enough to make the playoffs, but never good enough to do much once they got there. Oh, they got to Stanley Cup Finals when I was an infant, but those were flukes caused by the league setting up expansion conferences at the time. The Blues were hopelessly outclassed by the established teams and, not surprisingly, never won a game once they came up against the big boys. Since then things haven't improved much. They have never been to another Cup finals, and the greatest moment in their history was when a talent challenged Blues team, led by an illiterate coach, made a  rousing come back to win Game 6 of the 1986 Campbell Conference finals and set up a Game 7 against the Calgary Flames....which they promptly lost.

#8) Cleveland Browns - NFL

There are sentimental reasons to feel the Browns heartache, unless you are a Steelers fan I suppose. The Browns have a wonderful history in the league, but they have been woeful for a considerable amount of time. Their fans also had to deal with losing the franchise when it moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. An expansion teams came in quickly and revived the name, but the continuity with the illustrious history has been broken in a way. There is a sad sack quality to Brown's fandom which will only be lifted when they can claim a Super Bowl.

#7) Washington Nationals - MLB

In some ways its unfair of me to dump this on the Nats, but there is no denying the bad history the franchise has coming and going. On the one hand you have the history of the franchise itself, born in Canada as the Montreal Expos. Colorful at times, but often unsuccessful and sometimes downright snake bit as when labor strife wiped out what easily could have been the most promising season in Expos' history. On the other hand, you have the bottomless pit of loserville which has traditionally been baseball in our nation's capital. Every postseason flame out by the Nats raises the spectre of the hapless Senators. Winning a World Series would forever put both of those histories to bed for good.

#6) Atlanta Hawks - NBA

I'm not a big follower of the NBA. I grew up in St. Louis which lost the Hawks just when they gained the Blues, so pro hockey took the spot that might have gone to pro basketball if things had worked out differently. But, even as disinterested an observer as myself can notice the decades worth of "blah" that is the Atlanta Hawks. In 45 years in Atlanta the Hawks still have not finished 1st in their division as often as they did during the 13 years the franchise was in St. Louis. Nor have they been to the finals, which they managed four times during their St. Louis years. Indeed, it could be argued that the Hawks are the franchise in this list which has been the least threatening to win it all. And that is saying something...and not saying something good.

Check back tomorrow for #5 to #1.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fabian Espindola....

...just took the worst penalty kick in the history of bad penalty kicks. I'm pretty sure a dead goalie propped up into a standing position also would have made the save, as would a box of newly born kittens.

No more Espindola penalties please.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

MLB Draft Day: My "Not A Mock Draft" For The Cardinals

One thing I am enjoying about the baseball landscape these day is the ability to get to know something about the prospects going into the draft. Ten years ago the draft just happened and you got a blurb or two in the paper the following days. Now it is possible to get some feel for the players likely to go in the first couple of rounds. Granted, that "feel" is a little cursory, but at least it gives baseball fans more of a rooting interest.

That being said, here are a few players I'm rooting for the Cardinals to select with one of their four selections in the first 72 picks. (The Cards select 27, 34, 69 and 72.) Note this is not an attempt at a "mock draft" ordering. Trying to do that past the Top 10 selections seems a bit of a fool's errand. There is just too much volatility for mock drafts to be all that worthwhile (though they are fun.) The only thing I am doing is removing some of the big names from consideration as it seems unlikely, for example, that a Brady Aiken or Tyler Kolek would fall all the way to 27. As a result I'm limiting myself to more likely possibilities.

My rooting interests by position:


Matt Imhof: Cal Poly - Big kid might eventually fit in a big league rotation or maybe a Glen Perkins type bullpen arm.

Carson Sands: HS Fla. - Supposedly has good glove-side run on his fastball. At 6' 2" seems to offer more potential.


Aaron Nola: LSU - Probably won't make it to pick 27, but might. Seems too good to pass if he falls that far.

Nick Howard: Virginia - Baseball America actually has the Cards selecting Howard in their mock draft. I wouldn't complain. He's called "a strike throwing machine" and averaged 16.6 K's per 9.

Nick Burdi: Louisville - Hits 103 mph. Yes, please.

Joe Gatto: HS, N.J. - Good frame and a plus curveball. Seems to have the upside you look for in a prep pitcher.

Keith Weisenberg: HS, Fla - Another long term development project said to have "plus life" on his fastball and good control. I hate walks.

James Norwood: St. Louis University - OK, I'm a Billikens fan and would like the Cards to select the toolsy local university product. Sue me.


J.J. Schwarz: HS, Fla - Offense first catcher. Not the Cards MO I know, but it seems scouts don't hate his defense.

Aramis Garcia: Florida International - Cards drafted him before, and he's improved since then. Second time the charm?






Matt Chapman: Cal-State Fullerton - Seems t be a true third sacker with the ability to try things on the bump if the position player thing doesn't work out.


Milton Ramos: HS, Fla - Defensive wizard, bat a project. Said to have good bat speed, so maybe worth the gamble.

Josh Morgan: HS, Cal - Has all the hallmarks of being a "ballplayer." Might project as a utility type eventually, but one with some plus tools.


NONE - I'd love for Michael Conforto (Oregon State) to fall down to the Cards but that won't happen.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cardinal Ennui

I have nothing to really add here except to note how easy-goingly mediocre the Cardinals have decided to be this year.

To say the Cards lack a sense of urgency would be putting it mildly. I do realize its still early but it is a fine line between calm, cool and collected and downright apathetic. I'm just not certain this team is on the correct side of that line.


It looked dicey for about 15 minutes, but Notts County was able to secure a 1-1 draw against Oldham.  It turned out Tranmere wound up losing 2-1, so it didn't matter too much. Though there was a moment in the second half when Tranmere was up, Crewe was up, and Notts was down.

At that point I needed a sedative.

All's well that end's well. So they say.

Relegation Day

So, it has all come down to this in League One. Notts County need one point, one measly little point, to assure survival. (OK, OK, technically they could be caught. But Tranmere would have to win thier game by 14 goals. I'll take my chances.)

The games that matter:

Oldham v. Notts County
Crewe v. Preston
Tranmere v. Bradford

Crewe and Tranmere are both at home, and Notts is one the road. That's bad.

Notts has the far superior goal differential. That's good.

In the early minutes Crewe and Tranmere have gotten early leads. That's bad.

In the early minutes Notts and Oldham are still tied. That's good.

It's gonna be a long 90 minutes or so.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Go Cardinals

It's now or never time.

And, my God, do I hate the fucking moneybags Red Sox.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Where Do The Blues Go From Here?

When it comes to the Blues I've decided I have to look forward. Looking back is only a recipe for acid indigestion. The trouble is there is almost no way to accurately look forward with this team. However, I'll do my best by mixing my predictions with my preferences.

Say Goodbye To St. Louis

These are the unrestricted free agent players that should be moving on:

Andy McDonald
Scott Nichol
Jamie Langenbrunner
Jeff Woywitka
Andrew Murray

McDonald was the highest paid forward on the Blues this season, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this team's inability to score.

Nichol never found his way back into the lineup once the chemistry of the CPR line asserted itself.

The other three? Thanks for the memories.

With Restrictions

Here is where things get dicey. The Blues have some players who are restricted free agents that they will need to take care of but they can't be profligate.

Alex Pietrangelo should get pretty big money. Hopefully the Blues can keep it around the $5 million/year range. We shall see.

As for the other notable RFA's (Berglund, Shattenkirk, Stewart, Russell, Cole), none of them deserve to have the money truck backing up for a huge payday. Of the five only Shattenkirk can make a legitimate claim for a raise. If I were the Blues I would try to resign all of these five, but maybe only Shatty gets a deal of any length.

Trade Bait

Off the NHL roster you have to make some players available, especially if you want to try to secure a scorer. There is precious little offense available in the UFA market, so the only hope of a real upgrade will be in the trade market. And to get quality, you'll have to move quality.

T.J. Oshie
Alex Steen
Jaroslav Halak
David Perron

It hurts me to put Steen on this list, and, by far, he would be the player I'd hate to see leave the most. However, he is the type of player for whom you could get a lot back.

I almost didn't put Perron on this list because I really wonder about his straight up trade value. He seems to be the type of player you could only really move for another enigmatic underachiever. Sometimes a change of scenery is what players need.

I like Oshie as a player, but I think he is overvalued in St. Louis. Maybe another team would overvalue him as well.

And Halak? Well, we have a surplus of goalies coming up through the system, and Jake Allen didn't look out of place during this spell in the Blues net. Jaro is now a movable asset.

Without Restrictions

Of the UFAs on the roster only Jordan Leopold deserves another contract. I've liked Leopold in his short time in St. Louis and wouldn't mind seeming him return as long as the price is right.

As for the rest of the league.... well, I don't know if there has been a suckier bunch of free agents in years. Mike Ribeiro is the biggest catch out there and someone is destined to overpay for his services. It won't be the Blues. Ryane Clowe is just the sort of enigmatic forward we have too many of already. And, while there may be serviceable pieces among the ageing vets, the hell if I know which ones to favor.

I think we won't be alone in this assessment of the free agent market, which is why I think the trade market may be a busy one this summer.

Lord knows Blues fans need to see some sign of a pulse from the organization.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Pain

If the Blues lose tonight, which seems only too likely, do not expect to see a post mortem from me for a few days. It's always too fucking painful to think about at first.

I can get away with that shit because I ain't getting paid.

That'll Do Shelby Miller, That'll Do

Here is a pitching line I can get behind.

9 IP
1 H
0 R
0 ER
0 BB
13 K

That is some serious shit brought down on the Rockies by rookie Shelby Miller. If nothing else goes right tonight, and I'm not very hopeful, at least St. Louis fans can take some solace from the good prospects for the boys of summer.

The Cards have the chance to be very very good.

Another All Time Classic Series

Long will fans, writers and historians of the game discuss the epic long awaited battle between the Padres and the Rays.

I myself am all a twitter,

I Awake...

...and immediately I am consumed with this sense of impending doom (which I guess is some sort of metal band.)

Then I remember; It's Stanley Cup Playoff time and I'm a Blues Fan.

Oh, that's right.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Well, Isn't This Annoying?

The beautiful thing about the baseball season is the steady stream of games.


For some unknown reason the Cardinals schedule called for a day off on Monday, two games in Chicago, and then another day off on Thursday. Crap. It's nearly as bad as the All-Star break.

It especially sucks as I need something to get the taste of last night's Blues game out of my mouth. (In case you were wondering, it tastes like castor oil and failure.)


That is the only word that can be used to describe the Blues' performance this Stanley Cup Playoff season. The sad fact is the Blues are lucky to be still playing. The Blues didn't really win either of the first two games of this series against the Kings. In reality Quick brain cramped them away. The best the Blues have been able to muster this postseason is to put themselves in a position where they are only two fortuitous bounces away from winning or one bad bounce away from losing.

At no point last night did I believe the Blues were going to win that game. You could see it coming. Even when Pietro scores with 41 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime, it only had the feel of postponing the inevitable.

Our forwards do not play well enough for us to win tough games in the playoffs. Period. As a group they have combined for just four even strength goals in five games. I don't care how well you play defense, you cannot win consistently without better offensive production. I'm not sure the group Hitchcock has been playing can provide that offense.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here is what I would do for the game in LA:

Out: McDonald, Perron, Polak

In: Tarasenko, Jaskin, Russell

Also, if Halak is 100% I'm putting him in as well, not because Eliott has done anything wrong, but because I'm looking for a different energy from the team and maybe a goalie change can provide that.

This kind of thing isn't likely to happen. Hitch seem committed to repeating the same process, just expecting different results.

Isn't that a definition of madness?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 A Critique

Alright. I just attempted to use to look at a box score. I just wanted to check something quickly, the way any fan of the game might.

What I discovered was that because of the amount of advertisements they have loaded the site up with, it has become totally unusable. It certainly is no longer suited for the fan looking for information quickly. Now that I know this I will just use when I need to get a box score.

Great job I wonder what other ways you can come up with to drive way traffic.

DC United: Its High Time For A Change

Watching DC United get hammered at RFK tonight is thoroughly depressing. (As I write this it is 4-0 Houston going into injury time. I'm praying for the final whistle.) The team will soon be 1-8-1 for the season and it doesn't seem likely to get any better.

Indeed, there seems to be a singular lack of effort being put forward by the organization. I'm not saying the players are not trying, they very obviously are. You could see it tonight as United came out in the second half and dominated play for 20+ minutes, racking up shots and corner kicks but not goals. As always happens when teams are going bad, Houston got their first chance of the half and buried it.

No, the problem comes from an organization that seems a little disinterested in the quality of the on-field product. It seems most of their effort is going into getting a new stadium for the team, which is all well and good as far as that goes. However, the team has been left to wither on the vine. It has also become abundantly clear that Ben Olsen has no idea what to do in this situation.

And, really, why should he? During his playing days DC took great pains to keep the team competitive. This team is only going to compete for the worst record in MLS history. The rest of the league, even Toronto for Christ's sake, has been moving forward while United has become a stagnant pit. (Sort of like RFK.)

The fans of DC United deserve better. Now, there is no way this group of players can be made into a winner, but that doesn't mean the organization cannot signal to fans that they are committed to becoming a winning side. To that end some sort of big change needs to happen and happen soon. I'm not saying what that change should be, but you can guess the type of thing I'm talking about.

Honestly, any sort of change would be more exciting than watching this team play.

Hitch Attempts To Hammer Down Wall With Own Forehead

...and all I can do is wish him luck in the attempt.

I think this bodes ill: Hitchcock reunites CPR line for Game 5
Ken Hitchcock took the "C" out of the CPR line in Game 4 and it wound up being a bad "PR" move.

After the Blues 4-3 loss to LA in Game 4, many were lamenting the absence of Adam Cracknell in the lineup. Cracknell's replacement on the fourth line was Vladimir Tarasenko, who played only 5 minutes, 51 seconds in the game.

Hitchcock's intent with Tarasenko was thought out. A couple of the Blues' top forwards are banged up, and Tarasenko's availability would give the Blues a safety net, moving him up higher in the lineup if they couldn't continue.
Which confirms that Hitch had no intention of playing Tarasenko meaningful minutes unless someone got hurt and was unable to play.

That is bullshit.

I have no problem with Cracknell getting back into the lineup, he never played his way out of the lineup.

My problem is Andy McDonald has been sub par all series. He is physically over-matched in this series and he looks like he is playing scared. As a result he has added exactly nothing to this point, literally. In four games McDonald has zero points and has taken fewer shots than offensive stallions Barret Jackman and Roman Polak. Hitch is being loyal to Andy to a fault, and at this point of the season there are no small faults.