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.

Usually.

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.)

Regressing

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

MLB.com: A Critique

Alright. I just attempted to use MLB.com 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 Yahoo.com when I need to get a box score.

Great job MLB.com. 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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Notts County Signals Intention To Remain Third Rate Side

Uh oh. This ain't good:


Magpies chairman Ray Trew has said the budget will be cut by 30% next season, but Kiwomya was not fazed by that.

"I have no problem with that," Kiwomya said. "The budget is what it is It makes a little bit difficult but I still think I can make us competitive in this league. My glass is always half full."
Well, it isn't exactly "League 2 here we come" time, but I think we can forget about a Championship challenge anytime soon.

Damn.

The Definition Of "No Problems"

How well are things going for the Cardinals? So well that the local rag can't even manufacture discontent. Oh, they sort of try, but its a half-hearted affair at best.


So, do the Cardinals have a shortstop? I’m sure a healthy percentage of people would answer “No.” 
It’s not that Cardinals fans have anything against Pete Kozma personally; I think we all like him. I’ve said it before: I’m rooting for Kozma. He’s a great story and an example of what can happen when a forgotten, largely dismissed prospect receives a legitimate opportunity. But Kozma’s ordinary hitting numbers naturally create a desire for more offense at the position, and that leads to some restlessness. 
I think the Cardinals are fine with Kozma at shortstop.
So is just about every Cards fan with functioning brain cells. Good Lord, we've lived through the Tyler Greene years.

Yep, until the day St. Louis develops the second coming of Ozzie Smith or Troy Tulowitzki we will be just fine with Pete Kozma.

Welcome Lancona

I missed this a couple of days ago. From the PD:
Tanner Lancona, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Southern California, has made an oral commitment to St. Louis U. Lancona had originally committed to Washington State, but was released by what was described as a mutual agreement. He chose SLU over Kansas State, Colorado State and BYU. He averaged 16.6 points and eight rebounds at Tesoro High in Las Flores, Calif., in southern Orange County, and can, with a game reminiscent of Cody Ellis, can[sic] shoot 3-pointers, run the floor and rebound.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. For starters it is nice to see SLU be able to recruit a kid outside of our "normal" areas of influence. It is particularly nice when SLU can compete against and best bigger name programs from bigger name conferences. (Though the potential to add the Big East name to our recruiting efforts may be helping already.)

Encouraging.

Disaster Time

I hate writing about a loss. It makes me angry at the time and brooding upon it later doesn't help. As far as I can tell, when it comes to sports, there is no such thing as catharsis. So, I'll make a couple of points about the Blues excrementally bad Game Four and move on.

1. Hitch screwed up the insertion of Tarasenko. Period. He got it wrong. I don't care how many games he has won as a coach he fucked this up. The Blues would have been better off keeping Cracknell in than using Tarasenko the way they did. Cracknell would have contributed, Tarasenko was not given a chance to contribute. So, what's the point of playing him? To shut up the fans who think scoring an average 1.67 goals a game is no way to win in the playoffs? Really?

2. McDonald has been terrible. Bench worthily bad.

3. The D sure did pick a shitty time to play their worst game in the last 20 Blues contests. Some individual blunders were worse than others (there was one pinch that led to a 3-on-1 that will plague my nightmares for years to come), but none of them were blameless. This doesn't worry me too much. They should bounce back.

4. There was something rather gutless about the way the Blues lost a 2-0 and then a 3-2 lead. I believe that is what has made Blues fans so angry. (And, yes, as a group they are pissed.)

Done and done.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tarasenko In; Cracknell Out

From the PD:
Tarasenko, who was a healthy scratch in the first three games of the Western Conference series, will take the place of Adam Cracknell in the lineup. A right winger normally, Tarasenko will start out on the left wing on the fourth line with Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves.
Cracknell was one of the obvious choices to sit, as evidenced by the fact even someone as dumb as myself predicted it.

That being said I hate slotting Tarasenko into the fourth line. I suppose the idea is to limit his minutes 5-on-5 and still have him available for a spot shift on another line or on the power play. However, this really could hurt the play of a fourth line that was a real asset on the ice. The Kings are not able to roll out their fourth line as often. They just aren't good enough to keep from getting exposed. Over the course of a playoff series this advantage could payoff hugely, as hard minutes can be lifted from our other lines who will be fresher later in the series. I'd much rather put Sobotka into that winger spot on the fourth line and shift McDonald over to center between Tarasenko and Stewart.

For the moment I'll assume Hitch knows what he is doing and take a wait and see approach.

Blues v. Kings: Game Four

The question of the day, as it pertains to the Blues/Kings playoff series at least, seems pretty clear: does anybody have anybody exactly where they want them?

Hell if I know.

On the one hand, there is no doubt that the first three games have followed a preferred script for the Blues. They have been hard hitting, tight checking, well goal-tended affairs with few scoring chances and no open ice. I also think they may be giving me an ulcer. Seven total goals in three games results in contests where there is precious little margin for error. If either team ever gets a two goal lead that will signal the first moment where a team gets to take a breath.

I realize the Blues will not want to change a whole lot going into Game Four. They've been good and the basic game plan they are working with is a proven winner. However, being shutout in Game Three underscores a basic fact about hockey: you need to score more goals than the other guy to win.

To that end I hope Hitch decides tonight is the night to skate Tarasenko. I think the idea to have him watch the first couple of games was a good one, but now is the time to let him loose. As for the question of who you sit to get Tarasenko into the game, I think there are three options.

A) Sit Oshie. Oshie has been okay in the series so far, but there has been a little rust as he was just coming back off an injury. Resting the ankle a little might be beneficial, particularly if the Blues run deep into the playoffs.

B) Sit McDonald. McDonald has not been bad to this point, but he hasn't stood out either. He is an older player as well so getting the odd game off can keep him fresh going forward.

C) Sit Cracknell. The fourth line of Reaves-Porter-Cracknell has been terrific and the impulse to keep them running as a unit will be strong. However, if you want to get Tarasenko in AND you don't want to sit Oshie or McDonald it makes sense to sit Cracknell and slip Sobotka down to the fourth line.

It will certainly be interesting to see which way Hitch decides to go, but I certainly hope he makes some sort of tweak to the lineup that results in that elusive two goal lead for the Blues. Maybe then I could back off on the Pepto-Bismol consumption.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Cheatin' Heart

When it all comes down it, I really am quite a loyal fellow... most of the time.

Damn qualifiers. Damn germane qualifiers.

You see, the thing is, every once in awhile situations will arise that expand my sporting world in ways I would have originally thought impermissible.

I'll just come right out and say it. I sometimes find myself rooting for the Minnesota Twins and Chelsea.

Look, I can explain...

The Twins thing is really a matter of convenience. I live in "Twins Territory" so those are the baseball games most often on television. I'm a firm believer that any baseball, even inferior American League baseball, is better than no baseball, so I've watched a lot of Twins broadcasts over the last six years. I know the players and a bit about the ins and outs of the organization.

Now, it isn't quite the same as my love affair with my hometown Cardinals. I don't get pissy when the Twins lose, and I certainly haven't forgiven the Twins cheating their way to the 1987 World Series title. However, there is no way around it, I'm pleased when they do well, and, most of the time, I want them to do well. Whatever it is between me and the Twins, it ain't love. Maybe it is a trashy casual fling.

The Chelsea thing is a little more complicated.

Once again, don't get me wrong, I'm fully committed to Notts County. They are my number one English team and that won't change.

However..... It's a classic long distance relationship. As long as the Magpies are toiling in the depths of third tier English football, I almost never get to see them play. Oh, I follow along via the BBC website but, of course, I want to watch some games on television. Those games are Premiereship games and that is where Chelsea enters the picture.

Now, it isn't because I have any natural affinity for Chelsea. I really kinda don't. However, I loathe and despise Manchester United, and rather than adopt a strict ABU (Anybody But United) stand I have found myself choosing Chelsea as my preferred "anybody." I prefer them because I know they have the financial wherewithal to potentially challenge United year in and year out.

The net effect is not only do I root for Chelsea during head-to-head matchups with Man U. (like today - yay Chelsea), but also whenever Chelsea plays anyone else because I don't want them dropping points they need to stay close to United. That, obviously, didn't work this season - the reason why the Premier League sucked hard this year - but it has served in the past.

It is also true that Chelsea is on television all the freakin' time, so I have lots of chances to identify with the team, even though its beginning to make me feel unclean.

C'mon Notts. Get your ass at least into the Championship. Soon. I want to come home to you....honestly I do.