Week 4 of the High School Football Season. We have are constants with some teams and others have surprised us. Malden is still dominating their opponents and really hasn’t missed a beat from their break-out season a year ago. Poplar Bluff and Sikeston have both been playing better than expected. Other teams like Jackson and Cape Central have taken a minor step back so far this season.
Here is my TOP TEN FOOTBALL TEAMS in our listening area. (Keep in mind I am taking teams basically from Perryville to Kennett).
Week 4 Top-Ten Football Teams
- Cape Central
- Poplar Bluff
- East Prairie
- Scott City
Portageville and Dexter could find a way back in the Top Ten with a few good wins. Sikeston defeated the 10th ranked team in Class 4 Cape Central (at the time) last week. So until someone can beat them I think you have to put them at the top. Jackson moves down to three because they have yet to win a game this year. You look at their competition they have played so far and it has been tough. I think they will get better as the year goes on. Malden is playing really well. Solid opponents in Scott City and East Prairie are coming up for them. Maybe they could move up? Poplar Bluff is playing Cape Central this week and could move on up with a good win there. Kennett and Perryville have been steady. East Prairie is another team that has jumped into the standings after good wins against Scott City and Grandview. Caruthersville is winless but they lost only by a point to state ranked Malden and solid Kennett. They will bounce back. Scott City had two blow-out wins to open the season and lost in overtime to East Prairie in week 3. The Rams have talent but interesting to see how they are able to compete against Malden this week.
Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know your thoughts! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @rusty_hendricks
Welcome to Rusty’s Rundown! Rusty Hendricks here from SEMO ESPN and play by play announcer for Sikeston Sports. I am a sports junkie, especially anything Cardinals baseball. I went to Advance High School and graduated from Missouri Baptist University with a Broadcast Journalism degree. I also played baseball in college. I have been fascinated with sports from a young age and always seem to have an opinion. Hope you enjoy our blogs here on semoespn.com with the goal of talking sports! I will touch on national and local sports. Plus, really anything that catches my eye. Let’s get started shall we!
The High School Football Season is upon us! Friday Night Lights! The 2015 season starts tonight with many teams in Southeast Missouri getting under way. I have had a lot of fun covering High School sports the last few years, and I am looking forward to another great year.
Many players left to graduation (some even playing in college), leaving holes and question marks for many teams this year. However, it provides a chance for a new crop of players to shine.
How will your team fair this year?
I know this has already been done on other news outlets, but I would like to throw my two cents in. Here is my TOP TEN FOOTBALL TEAMS in our listening area. (Keep in mind I am taking teams basically from Perryville to Kennett)
Week 1 Top-Ten Football Teams
- Cape Central
- Poplar Bluff
- New Madrid County Central
Obviously things can change after each week of play. It is hard to say at this point how some teams will do. Nonetheless, it’s quite a bit of fun to try to predict. Do you like my picks? Would you add other teams? Would you change them around?
How do my picks stack up against SEMO ESPN’s Todd Bonacki?
Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know your thoughts! Email me at email@example.com or tweet me @rusty_hendricks
If I would have told you in March of this year Adam Wainwright would only pitch in 4 games, Matt Adams would miss 4-5 months, Matt Holiday also would miss an extended period of time with only 4 homers through 200 at-bats, and the offense of the Cardinals is 19th out of 30 teams in runs scored, would you say they would be a playoff team? I don’t think you would. I know I wouldn’t. Or at the very least they wouldn’t be the “best” team in baseball.
The Cardinals have exceeded expectations this season with the best record in baseball through 101 games (64-37), in large part to their great young pitching. They have the best ERA in baseball as a collective staff by far with an impressive 2.63 ERA. The issue however has been with the bats. The Cardinals have a record of 42-8 when scoring more than 3 runs. Otherwise they are 9-22 when scoring less than 3 runs. The Cardinals have a team batting average of .254, are 25th in home runs, and are 21st in slugging percentage.
Ok, so we know the Cardinals are really good. We know they are making the playoffs. They are on pace to win around 95 games. But the question is what will they do when they get there? Are they good enough to reach the World Series with the team they have? How would they fair in a series against the Nationals, Dodgers, or Pirates? Are the Cardinals done adding players?
The Cardinals most definitely could use an extra hitter or two. But what is the cost? Is it worth giving up a top prospect or one of your established players? These are all things General Manager John Mozeliak will have to weigh when making a decision before the trade deadline at 3 pm on Friday.
I love to see the Cards moving pieces and adding guys at the deadline. It’s very exciting. But I still want the Cardinals to be smart. I don’t think it’s usually wise to give up a top prospect or a good young player, especially if you are only getting a rental in return.
As I write this the Cardinals just announced they have traded for Brandon Moss of the Cleveland Indians. Moss is batting .217 with 15 homers and 50 RBI. Moss is making $6.5 million this year, and is arbitration eligible next season. I just said in the previous paragraph I don’t like giving away top prospects. The Cardinals just sent the 10th best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball away. Rob Kaminsky will go to the Indians. Kaminsky drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft had a 2.09 ERA in Class A this season.
I think the Cardinals needed to make a move but was it too steep? I think it was a little steep. I’m not crazy about the move, however I don’t think it was a bad move given the circumstances with Matt Holiday’s injury and the need for a hitter. Hopefully, Moss can help the Cardinals down the stretch. He has pop and they desperately needed that.
I give the trade a C+ for the Cardinals. In my opinion if the Cardinals grabbed Chris Davis from the Orioles for Rob Kaminsky it would not have been as bad of a move. Davis a .241 average, 24 homeruns, and 65 RBI this year with the Orioles. I don’t think Mozeliak should have pulled the trigger on the Moss trade. Of course it all depends on how Kaminsky fairs in the future. I don’t blame Mozeliak for doing something, just wish we would have grabbed someone better in return.
Now are the Cardinals done adding players? I would not be surprised if the Cardinals did add another player, however I don’t think it’s likely. At this point the Cardinals are probably done with any trades.
What do you think about the Cardinals trades?
Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know your thoughts! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @rusty_hendricks
Stats and information take from: stlcardinals.com
What an amazing night at the 2015 SEMOBALL Awards! Over 150 athletes made their way to the Bedell Performance Hall on the Southeast Missouri State River Campus this past Saturday. The best of the best from 57 local schools were honored.
This was the first year (2nd Inaugural Awards show) I have been able to attend and I was quite impressed. Obviously, I lot of work went into this event. I can only imagine how the student athletes felt. It had the feel of an “ESPY’s” or an “Oscar” event. Very well done and kudos to all involved in making it all come together. It was also very neat to see snippets of congratulations from professional athletes on the video board. Overall, it was a fun atmosphere.
Jennie Finch, a gold medalist and two time Olympic softball pitcher was the keynote speaker. Her theme was “Dreaming big, being the best you, and believing in yourself.” Her message was very encouraging and uplifting to the student athletes in attendance.
For the awards you can catch them on SEMOBALL. Here is a link of all the winners.
One of the award categories new this year was the SEMOBALL Cup. It is similar to the college version of the Capital One Cup. What this does is determine what school in our area has the best sports program for a given year. Here are the results for 2015.
One of my favorite moments of the night at the SEMOBALL Awards seeing Three Rivers College Head Basketball coach Gene Bess accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award. Bess has over 1200 wins in his lustrous career. He is the nation’s winningest all-time men’s college basketball coach. It was a special moment for coach Bess and everyone in attendance. A well deserved honor for Coach Bess. See the story below.
Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know your thoughts! Email me at email@example.com or tweet me @rusty_hendricks
Stats and information take from: semoball.com
Welcome to Rusty’s Rundown! Rusty Hendricks here from SEMO ESPN! Hope you enjoy our blogs here on semoespn.com with the goal of talking sports! I will touch on national and local sports. Plus, really anything that catches my eye. Let’s get started shall we!
News surfaced on June 16th that the St. Louis Cardinals were under investigation by the FBI. Now that will catch your attention! Investigators believe those within the Cardinals organization to have hacked into a database of the Houston Astros. The hacking apparently focused on Houston Astros General Manger and former Cardinal’s executive Jeff Luhnow. A rush of anxiety came over me when I first heard the news. I was having thoughts such as, “What have they gotten themselves into? How could they let this happen? What will be their punishment?” As I was able to take a step back a few hours later, I realized Cardinals Nation shouldn’t rush to judgment. We should let the process play out. Have they given us any reason not to trust them? I for one needed more information. Well, more and more time has passed but we really don’t know many details.
These are the keys: It is very probably no high ranking Cardinals official was involved. It looks like at most only a handful of employees are involved and possibly only a few. The reputation of the Cardinals actually may not take much of a hit, even if there are punishments. Again, we will have to wait and see. However, I think Cardinal fans should stay positive. I don’t see fans turning away from the ballpark or deciding not to follow the Cardinals through broadcast networks. I don’t even think the Cardinal’s “brand” has or will be tarnished.
Now we might gain a few extra “haters.” There are those that are just waiting to find a reason to dislike the Cardinals. Why? We win. The more we win the more some may dislike the team. I for one would rather just win. So let’s be patient. Watch the process play out. Don’t jump to any conclusions. Let’s find all the facts. Oh, and continue to watch the Cardinals win.
I don’t want to spend much time on this because, well, it’s been a debate for so many years. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” first reported that Pete Rose bet on baseball while he was a player. For 26 years Pete Rose has denied betting on baseball as a player, only as a manager. Also, maintaining he never bet on the Reds to lose. New written documents show Rose did bet on baseball as a player.
The question has always been does Rose deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? What do you think?
I have always said that if Rose deserves to be in the Hall, so does Shoeless Joe Jackson. If Rose gets in, do guys from the steroid era deserve to get in as well? (i.e. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons, Alex Rodriguez etc.) It is a question we have to ask.
I don’t think this “new” information has changed many peoples’ minds on Pete Rose. I don’t see him getting into the Hall of Fame anytime soon, anyway. It certainly, though, hasn’t helped. I think Pete Rose “deserves” to get in. Why? Simply, his play. His play was not altered by steroids or some other substance. “Should” he get into the Hall of Fame is another debate. In regards to players linked to steroids, to be brief, I think if you vote one guy in, you have to vote them all. Either way it makes you respect the guys even more who go about things and play the game the right way. One of those guys I talk about below.
What is your answer? Does Pete Rose deserve to get into the Hall of Fame? Will he?
Albert Pujols is in the midst of his 4th season with the Anaheim Angels. Pujols left the St. Cardinals after they won the World Series in 2011. I loved seeing Pujols in a Cardinals uniform. And to me he will always be a Cardinal. After he made the decision to leave for California I was sore. I knew the Cardinals couldn’t afford spending “boo-koos” of money to keep him. I wouldn’t have wanted them to. However, I hoped Pujols would take a home town discount to stay with the team and the fan base that loved him. When he decided to move on, I was disappointed. I wasn’t mad. I didn’t want to go burn his jersey. I just didn’t understand.
The last few years watching Pujols play hurt and under perform help ease the discontent. I even found myself thanking the Cardinals for not dishing out the money on him. This season has been different. It has been different because I’m rooting for Pujols again. I want him to do well. Pujols is finally healthy and playing well. He is so fun to watch, and when he is right, there is no one better. Pujols just recently finished up a 25 game stretch from May 26th through June 23rd. During this time he hit .357, 15 home runs, 30 RBI, and only struck out 4 times. It is the best 25 game stretch of his entire career. At age 35, Pujols is in his 15th year in the league. He has nearly 2600 hits in his career, over 1600 RBI, and a career batting average of .316. Pujols is 16th on the all-time home run list with 543 big flys. By year’s end he could find himself in 14th place.
I don’t know how much longer Pujols will play. Hopefully he will play at least a few more years. Pujols woke me up with his recent play. He is so impressive. I think when it’s all said and done he will probably be the best player I will have watched in my lifetime. And to think 11 years of it was with the Cardinals! I have an enormous amount of respect for him. He has always played the game the right way. He is a stand up guy that loves the fans. He has given so much back to the community. He has set himself apart. He truly is “the machine.” Let’s not take for granted what he did for the Cardinals. Let’s not take for granted we still have the opportunity to see this guy play.
I have always wanted to do this. One…rob a home run. Two…do it like this.
Colorado Rockies outfielder Ben Paulsen robs Arizona Diamondbacks Chris Owings of a home run on June 25th.
One great defense play to another. This might be one of the best plays I have seen. Most definitely the best play of the year so far. Watch Josh Donaldson take no regard for his body.
Where do you rank this play?
Oh, by the way, at this point of the ball game (8th inning) Donaldson’s pitcher Marco Estrada had a perfect game going. Estrada gave up an infield hit on next play. Given the circumstances this was an amazing play. If you don’t know much about Donaldson, look him up. Donaldson is one of the elite players in the game. He is a no doubt all-star this year. As I write this his batting average is near .300, has blasted 17 home runs, and driven in 46 runs. He also has a WAR of 3.9. Only Todd Frazier has a higher WAR this season as a third baseman.
The NBA Draft took place last night. Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) went number 1 overall.
No shock there. Here is a link to the complete draft.
Stats and information taken from: baseballreference.com, espn.com, and mlb.com
Welcome back to Ramblings from a Talking Head, a semi-regular blog that fulfills its title by bouncing between quick hits on recent sports happenings and short-form analysis of hot topics. Today’s post leans toward the latter in terms of content, so those of you looking for insights on the Cardinals and Rams can tune in to Makin’ The Play with Rob Johnson and myself from 4-6pm Monday-Friday on SEMO ESPN 92.9 FM and the SEMO ESPN app for the latest news involving those organizations! Now that I’ve worked my shameless plug for the show into this post, we can dive into today’s topic.
Major League Baseball is quickly approaching the All-Star Break and many teams have begun bringing up their top prospects from the minor leagues to observe how they can (and possibly will) perform in the top tier of baseball against the best talent. There has been a surge of high-quality and quick-starting prospects hitting our collective conscience and box scores thus far in 2015: Schwarber (who is already back in the minors), Soler, Russell and Bryant on the North Side of Chicago, Franco in Philly, Gallo in Arlington, Lindor for Cleveland, Buxton in the Twin Cities and Correa in Houston… and that is just an abbreviated list of offensive players.
We’ve heard for a few years now that the current crop of rookies would hit the scene, showing that they are the future of baseball and the current product on the field for many of the aforementioned players does not disappoint. This is not the first time we have seen a big player or set of players hit the scene in this fashion. Each time a wave like this hits, the same question is posed: How will this rookie class rank historically? Can this group become the best of all time?
The short answer is this: We will not know for a few years, if not longer. That being said, though, pushing forward expectations and predictions does not an interesting article make. We will instead look to rookie classes of years’ past and see how their productivity has held up long-term, as well as see which thresholds this class will need to reach in order to compare to the best rookie classes in recent baseball history.
Rookie of the Year voting can be a fickle task and is far from a fool-proof science. Many rookies start their MLB service time on an extended hot streak, raising hopes for their respective fan bases and shifting eyes toward future MVP award and championship appearances. Many of those same players, however, fizzle out almost as quickly as they heat up and a good number of Rookie of the Year vote-getters are out of the starting lineup within a few years, if not completely out of the league. Let’s use the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year votegetters as a recent example, listed in the order of finish:
1) Andrew Bailey: OAK CP
2) Elvis Andrus, TX SS
3) Rick Porcello, DET SP
4) Jeff Niemann, TB SP
5) Gordon Beckham, CHW 2B
6) Brett Anderson, OAK SP
Four of the six finalists are currently in the league, with Andrew Bailey still on a major league roster while not having pitched since 2013; Jeff Niemann’s last game was in September 2012.
Brett Anderson has had a laundry list of injuries, the first requiring Tommy John surgery, with 2015 being the first year of double digits starts for him since 2011. Gordon Beckham has been serviceable, but has only finished a season hitting over .235 once since 2010. Porcello performed solidly in Detroit, but has floundered since joining the Red Sox this season. Andrus, the 2009 runner-up, is the only member of this list to be voted to an All-Star team, his second appearance being in 2012.
The 2009 NL Rookie voting is somewhat better, with one standout:
1) Chris Coghlan, FLA OF
2) J.A. Happ, PHI SP
3) Tommy Hanson, ATL SP
4) Andrew McCutchen, PIT OF
5) Casey McGehee,. MIL IF
6) Randy Wells, CHC SP
7) Garrett Jones, PIT 1B/RF
t8) Everth Cabrera, SD SS
t8) Dexter Fowler, CHC OF
t8) Gerardo Parra, ARI OF
t8) Colby Rasmus, STL CF
Given the site where this blog is posted and the listening/viewing base, I feel I do not need to break down the last player on that list and his fate in the majors. Randy Wells has not been in the league since 2012, while Hanson has not made an appearance in the majors since 2013. Cabrera has only appeared in 29 games for the Orioles so far this year, and Jones is on the Yankees’ roster as a utility player of sorts. Coghlan and Fowler now patrol left and center field together for the Cubs and Parra has appeared in 70 games as utility player in Milwaukee; McGehee had a resurgence of sorts in Miami last year before falling off in San Fran this season, while Happ had a similar rebound in Toronto last year that serves as more of an anomaly than a true bounce back to his rookie form. The only player on this list that has shone since his rookie year is Andrew McCutchen, who has made four consecutive All-Star teams and sits at fifth in the most recent voting update for 2015 (as of 6/23/15, according to CBS Sports). Six years into their careers and the only person in either league’s 2009 ROY finalists that could even come close to a Hall of Fame spot is McCutcheon.
2009 does not stand as an outlier in terms of ROY voting finishes correlating to long-term MLB success. 2008 saw Geovany Soto win the NL award, while Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez and Jay Bruce finished below him. Joakim Soria finished last in the 2007 AL voting, with such stars as Reggie Willits, Josh Fields and Brian Bannister finishing ahead of him. 2004 saw Bobby Crosby win the AL award with Zack Greinke and Alex Rios finishing fourth and fifth, while Jason Bay won the NL award and Matt Holliday finished fifth. Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera were fifth in their respective league’s ROY voting in 2003… Angel Berroa and Dontrelle Willis won the two awards that year. I could continue, but I feel the provided examples are ample evidence for my case. Rookies years can be quite deceiving in terms of the long-term performance levels that the young players could maintain. There is one recent example of a standout rookie class that reveals what the 2015 rookies could become with years of sustained success.
The Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 contained maybe the best collective class of rookies to arrive in Major League Baseball since the mid-1940s. Nine players received votes combined between the two leagues, and only Bud Smith was out of the league quickly (His last appearance for the Cardinals was in 2002, one year after his no-hitter). The other eight players receiving votes have combined for 42 All-Star appearances, 13 top 5 MVP finishes (with 5 MVP award wins), 10 Cy Young Award top 5 finishes (with one win), three LCS MVPs and one World Series MVP. These eight players have made varying impacts on Major League Baseball since entering the league, but many are names that even the most casual sports fan will know:
Four of these men are no longer playing baseball (Dunn, Eckstein, Soriano and Oswalt), but are still names known by most to all baseball fans and are fondly remembered for their contributions to their respective franchises. Sabathia and Rollins are still in the majors, but are not performing at the levels they did in their prime (which is to be expected for players that are 34 and 36, respectively). Pujols, as of this writing, is having a resurgence for the Angels and Ichiro is continuing to contribute for the Marlins both on the field and as a mentor to the younger outfielders. All of these players had long stretches of success and high performance during their time in the league, even with Eckstein’s play never standing out but always helping his team. The other seven have varying levels of expectation to enter the Hall of Fame one day; Pujols and Ichiro are locks at this stage and the rest will receive some votes, albeit none of them likely entering Cooperstown. Despite many not receiving plaques, however, all will be remember as great contributors for the franchises they played for and most could be honored with retired numbers/specific team acknowledgement.
The continued success of the 2001 rookie class sets a high standard for the 2015 batch of young guns to reach, but many franchises and fans are hoping that this group can achieve the heights of players such as Pujols and Ichiro. Patience is a virtue, however, and could be one that is not rewarded over time. That’s for the future to show… for now, the 2015 rookies are bringing hope and excitement to a number of long forlorn franchises.
All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from baseball-reference.com
I know I am a few weeks behind here, but never too late for congratulations, right? I want to say congratulations to our local area teams that did such a great job this postseason in their respective sports. In High School Baseball, Notre Dame, Bell City, and Valle Catholic all came home with state championships. The Saxony Lutheran Girls Soccer team won 1st as well. I truly believe this area has some of the best athletes in the entire state.
The Major League Baseball draft took place this past week. I always enjoy seeing what players are picked by my favorite team (Cardinals) and what players are selected from our local area. The St. Louis Cardinals selected Nick Plummer a high school outfielder from Michigan. This guy has a ton of potential to go along with some great athletic ability. Hopefully we seem him moving up the ranks of the farm system like many other picks this year. On a local level, Alex Winkelman (SEMO) was selected by the Houston Astros in the 21st round of the draft. James Naile (Charleston, MO) was chosen by the Oakland Athletics in the 20th round. Doug Still (Sikeston, MO) was selected by the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, this time in the 30th round. Again, reiterating that this area has a lot of great talent.
The St. Louis Cardinals have another injury. Lance Lynn goes on the DL following Matt Holiday. How much more can the Cardinals handle? What will be the breaking point? Thankfully it doesn’t seem like Lynn will be out for too long. He was placed on the 15 day disabled list this past week. It is pretty incredible to believe the Redbirds still have the best record in baseball (41-21). Let me leave this with you in hopes it may ease your mind. The Redbirds could go .500 the rest of the year and still end up with 91 wins. I say that to say the Cardinals need to focus on getting healthy for October. They have built a big enough lead to withstand some of these injuries. Stay afloat and they will be just fine.
I included a few lists in my last blog. I am going to include my Top 3 favorite Nascar Drivers.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jeff Gordon
- Carl Edwards
Who are your favorite drivers? On Sunday the rain shortened the race at Michigan International Speedway. Only 138 of 200 laps were completed. Kurt Busch was the man leading the race at the end. Thus, Busch gets the checkered flag.
The chase is heating up. Right now Jimmie Johnson sits atop the standings. Still 11 races left before the Chase for the Cup. Who are you rooting for? A link to the Cup Standings below…
Another story that is a little late. American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in horse racing. The first time it has been done since 1978. According to reports 22 million people watched the race. That is a lot of people! Did you watch it? I did. But what baffles me is what little pub it garnered after the race. The Kansas City Royals made the playoffs for the first time last year since 1985. They didn’t even win the World Series! But I feel like they built more attention than the Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh. Why is that? I would say most of us were pulling for history during the race. Then, immediately following the race we could have been seen with a smile on our face, for witnessing the Triple Crown. We witnessed history, and a great feat. Just days later that feeling has left. Now it’s more like “meh” instead of “wow.” Maybe I am reading more into this than I should. However, I think it helps to explain our sports culture today. We love to live in the moment. But I don’t know if we have the same respect for history as we used to. Did we give it the respect it deserves? What are your thoughts?
NBA Playoffs continue tomorrow night. Golden State leads 3-2 in the series. Steph Curry stepped up on Sunday scoring 37 points including 7 threes. Not a big LeBron fan, but how good has he been this series? I honestly think we could see Lebron win the MVP, even though his team may not win the series. Nonetheless, been fun to watch.
Listen to the NBA playoffs on SEMO ESPN online or over the air. Next game scheduled for tomorrow night, Tuesday June 16th. I still have the Warriors winning it all.
Stats and information gathered through espn.com and tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bid you all hello and welcome to the newest edition of Ramblings from a Talking Head, the occasional blog that knows it doesn’t have a lot to say but says it anyway for your viewing pleasure. The week-long break from playoff sports has ended over the last two days, so the excitement (and discussion topics) for June sports has ramped up once again! There’s too much news to talk about to continue hyping the blog, so let’s jump in:
Warriors def. Cavaliers 108-100 in OT, take 1-0 series lead:
A week between games for the Warriors and Cavaliers led many fans and sportswriters to believe Golden State and Cleveland would be rested and ready to hit the ground running in Game 1, and those watching were not disappointed. Both teams were ready from the tipoff to attack often in an effort to break their opponent’s best laid defensive measures. LeBron was allowed to score consistently by the Warriors, and he put up 44 points, including the overtime. The Warriors were a bit off at times on the offensive side, but great defensive efforts (and a boost in offensive production) from Andre Iguodala and the second unit helped keep Golden State close and capable of winning the game in overtime. The closing minutes of the fourth quarter, however, may have sounded the end of the Cavs’ chances already: Kyrie Irving showed a greatly noticeable limp on his way to the locker room. The initial tests are showing no damage to his ACL or MCL, but the Cavs’ medical staff and players (especially Irving) are waiting with bated breath for more tests today (6/5/15) to provide more insight into the scope of the injury and the potential for Irving to play again in this series. Irving’s absence handcuffs Cleveland’s offensive production at best and dooms them at worst. Golden State can continue to allow LeBron James to assert himself to the extent they did in Game 1, but with less concern for who can fill the offensive void that the other four players on the court at any time. My prediction before this injury was Golden State in 6, and I believe that to remain true with this development.
Blackhawks surge in 3rd period, def. Lightning 2-1 in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Finals:
The first two periods of this fast-paced matchup played heavily in the favor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the newcomers to the championship round; the sole goal of the first 40 minutes came from a replay-worthy swipe from Alex Killorn (if you missed it, go watch it… it’s a fun goal to see). The Blackhawks, the poised veterans from deep playoff (and championship) runs past, responded with a goal from a new guy on the rink and took the league with the expected veteran presence, if not from Kane or Toews. Teuvo Teravainen, in his first playoff appearance at 20 years old, placed Chicago back into the thick of things with around six minutes left in the 3rd period and set the table for Antoine Vermette’s go-ahead goal. The youthful Lightning, who hold home-ice advantage and are making the team’s first Finals appearance since 2004, is now down 0-1 and will need to match the defensive intensity from the first 54 minutes of Game 1 to even the series.
Todd Gurley is still “a ways away from practicing,” per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
This isn’t all that surprising or troubling to me as a Rams fan. Despite my Makin’ The Play co-host Rob Johnson’s insisting, I am content to wait and see how Gurley helps the Rams offense, especially if he returns to the level he played at for Georgia. I still believe that Gurley would have been a top 5 pick if not for the ACL injury and think he can help the Rams offense return to a productive level.
Cardinals 8-2 in their last 10, Wacha picks up eighth win vs LAD
The St. Louis Cardinals, in the face of injuries to the lineup, rotation and bullpen, continue to do the only thing that matters in the long run: Win. I will admit, the Brewers and Diamondbacks aren’t the highest level of competition and the Cards did lose series to the Tigers and Royals late last month, but still have the best record in baseball with a .667 winning percentage. The Cards do not appear to be slowing down much, either, after a 7-1 victory over the NL West-leading Dodgers on June 4th, giving Michael Wacha his eighth victory of the year and placing him squarely in the early NL Cy Young Award talk alongside Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole.
Bell City Cubs win the Class 1 State Baseball Championship in extra innings
Bell City defeated Atlanta 6-3 in eight innings to complete their comeback for the MSHSAA Class 1 baseball championship. Peyton Maddox picked up the win in relief for the Cubs, who took advantage of a couple of fielding errors by Atlanta to tie the game late and allow for the extra innings victory. Congratulations to coach Justin Simpher and the entire Cubs team for their awesome accomplishment.
As of this writing, Notre Dame’s baseball team won their Class 4 state semifinal game via mercy rule and will play in the Class 4 state championship Saturday morning, so good luck to the Bulldogs!
That’s all the rambling I have prepared for this time! If you have questions or banter to share, you can find me on Twitter (@CodySandusky)! Until next time, ramble on!
I’m going to begin this week’s blog by including a few lists. I enjoy making lists and watching the reaction they bring. So, let’s get started! The list below includes some of the best High School baseball players in our area. I have put together 20 players that “caught my eye” this year. They are not necessarily the best players in the area (although most are). However, these guys made a difference for their teams and stood out to me. They are in no particular order. I was lucky enough to see most area teams this year because of my unique job. There are guys and teams I didn’t get to see. If I had watched every team in our area my list might be different. Did you get a chance to see any High School baseball? Who are players that stood out to you this year? What do you think of my list?
High School Baseball
- Graham Ruopp – Notre Dame
- Adam Pope – Notre Dame
- Logan Heisserer – Notre Dame
- Palmer Campbell – NMCC
- Landon Vaughn – Kennett
- Trent Pobst – Scott City
- Tyler McLevain – Cooter
- Riley Hickerson – Cooter
- Trey McDaniel – Greenville
- Cameron Misner – Poplar Bluff
- Brandon Stuckensnieder – Poplar Bluff
- Michael Houchin – Jackson
- Jacob Priggel – Oran
- Blake Wolferding – Sikeston
- Jacob Clark – Sikeston
- Trevor Lewis – East Carter
- Nate Finney – Bell City
- Josh Morse – Cape Central
- Devin Trammel – Bernie
- Daniel Bergtholdt – Valle Catholic
Lets continue with my “list” theme for the next topic. There are a bevy of great pitchers in the game of Major League Baseball. It seems like virtually everyone is throwing 95 MPH or higher. Of course just because you can throw hard doesn’t mean you will be an effective pitcher; but I will admit it does make it easier. Pitching sets the table. Good pitching helps your defense and helps to take pressure off the offense. Starting pitchers in particular are so important in today’s game of baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in baseball. They also have the best starter’s ERA in the game at 3.00. So, who are the best starting pitchers in the game today? Here are my top 10 pitchers in the game right now. I have few restrictions. I do not include any injured players. ERA, efficiency, innings, and track record are pretty high on my list of qualifications. What do you think? Would you change anything? Is there a guy that missed the list you would put in?
Rusty’s MLB Starting Pitchers Top 10 List
- Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers
- Felix Hernandez – SEA Mariners
- Chris Sale – CHI White Sox
- Madison Bumgarner – SF Giants
- Max Scherzer – WAS Nationals
- David Price – DET Tigers
- Johnny Cueto – CIN Reds
- Zack Greinke – LA Dodgers
- Cole Hamels – PHL Phillies
- Dallas Keuchel – HOU Astros
Just missed my Top 10
- Corey Kluber – CLE Indians
- Jordan Zimmermann – WAS Nationals
Young Pitchers on the cusp of being really good! If they had more Major League time they would probably crack my top 10 list.
- Matt Harvey – NY Mets
- Sonny Gray – OAK Athletics
- Gerrit Cole – PIT Pirates
- Michael Wacha – STL Cardinals
- Chris Archer – TB Rays
- Yordano Ventura – KC Royals
Guys that would probably be in top ten if not hurt…
Adam Wainwright* – STL Cardinals – Would be #4 in the top 10 if not hurt.
Jose Fernandez* – MIA Marlins – At least in my top 15 players.
Sigh…Without the St. Louis Blues still in the playoffs I have lost some interest to be honest. Two teams are left, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since I am a Blues fan, well…I can’t bring myself to root for the Hawks. I have to go with the lightning. I actually like their chances as well. Ben Bishop has been a stud in goal for the Lightning. I have always liked Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. In the finals if you have a great goal scorer like Stamkos and a hot goalie like Bishop, it can be good enough to bring home the Cup. The Lighting rank first in the league in goals per game. It won’t come easy that is for sure. The Hawks are second in goals against. They have a tough defense. Plus, you can’t overlook Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Corey Crawford’s experience. What is my pick? Lightning in 7 games.
Another quick NHL note:
I think it was a good move to bring Ken Hitchcock back as the head coach for the St. Louis Blues. He signed a one year deal to stay with the Blues last week. I think you give the post season underachieving Blues and Ken Hitchcock another crack at it. At least with a one year contract the Blues can cut ties after next season. That is why I think it was wise for the Blues front office. Yes the coach is very important, but ultimately it’s up to the players. They are the ones on the ice, not the coach. Blues need better goal scorers not a different coach.
First, the University of Alabama-Birmingham Football program is back! In December the UAB “big wigs” decided to shelve the UAB program. Why? Simply…money. In an article by espn.com, University President Ray Watts said, “The fiscal realities we face — both from an operating and a capital investment standpoint — are starker than ever and demand that we take decisive action for the greater good of the athletic department and UAB.”
Now, just 6 months later UAB has reversed that decision. Why change it now? Why reverse the decision? In the article below it mentions the University “received pledges…”from the “…community matching the $17.2 million needed to reinstate the football program…”
Bottom line is Football is back for UAB. Good for them for making it right. Job, scholarships, hopes, and dreams were crushed in December. But at least now they can start rebuilding what they tore down. Unfortunately, this will be a huge disadvantage for the football program that is now behind in signing players and preparing for the upcoming season. Will they be ready for the 2016 season? Not sure, but at least football is back. How can you not? At least for me it pulls at my heart strings when you see how it effects the student athletes, coaches, and anyone else involved with the program. Watch this video of UAB Players and Coaches when the announcement is made. Do you think it matters to them? Glad to hear football is back!
Here is another Football story:
This story comes from the NFL, reported by ESPN. St. Louis Rams defensive ends’ Chris Long and William Hayes experience “homelessness” in this video. It shows the two spending time on the streets, dressed in disguise, experiencing what it is like to be homeless. It’s admirable in my opinion for these two guys to take a step back from the life they live, and put on another person’s “shoes.” Chris Long says, “…We were just hoping to gain a little perspective and put kind of a feeling with the cause that we had been [donating to] from a distance the last couple of years.”
Chris Long and William Hayes were moved by a few people they met during this process. They both have a better appreciation of those on the streets. Kudos to Chris, William, and the St. Louis Rams. This is the type of story I wish I saw more often. May we be more aware of how we can help our community. Click on the link below to see their story.
Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let me know your thoughts! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me (@rusty_hendricks).
Information gathered from USA Today, Youtube, and ESPN.
The St. Louis Cardinals have won the most World Series Championships of any National League team in the history of the sport, 11. It has become a right of passage for Redbird fans to expect their beloved Birds to make the Postseason once the calendar turns to October. St. Louis has reached the National League Championship Series in each of the last 4 seasons. They are 2-2 in those matchups, both losses came to San Francisco. The Cards are off to a 33-18 start to the season, one of the best starts in franchise history. With 111 games left, if St. Louis posted a virutally .500 record of 56-55 the rest of the way, it would finish with 89 victories, which is likely good enough for a playoff spot. Last season the Cards won 90 games en route to the NL Central crown. The 2 NL Wildcard teams, the Pirates and Giants won 88 games. So barring an unforeseen collapse this year, the Birds on the Bats are likely going to be playing in October. Is the current roster good enough to make a World Series run ?
So far they’ve been able to withstand the losses of Ace Adam Wainwright and 8th inning set up man Jordan Walden. First baseman Matt Adams will likely miss the rest of the season after his quad injury required surgery. Veteran Mark Reynolds steps in at first base and some Cardinal fans are calling for the team to make a trade to acquire more protection at the position. If Reynolds wasn’t on the current roster, he would be exactly the type of player that would fit nicely in this spot. Reynolds, who has hit at least 20 homeruns in seven straight seasons, will be given every opportunity from Manager Mike Matheny to lock down the position. If Reynolds fails, then the organization will have to look in another direction.
The most intriguing challenge for Matheny will be to find playing time for his five outfielders: Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward, Randall Grichuk and Peter Bourjos. Holliday is the mainstay in left field and will be in the lineup everday. Heyward, who has struggled, could see his playing time reduced if his bat doesn’t start to heat up. For now, Heyward will be the choice most days in right field for Matheny, but there is no doubt Heyward has been a major disappointment thus far. His sample size has been small, but he hasn’t hit for the power that the club has hoped for and his Gold Glove defense hasn’t been as good as advertised.
Jon Jay has returned from a stint on the disabled list, but it’s unsure whether or not his surgically repaired wrist is 100 percent and what production he’ll provide. Jay is batting just .248 and 25 of his 27 hits have been singles. Jay plays a solid defensive centerfield, but is limited by his weak throwing arm. Jay should be really pushed for playing time by the exciting Grichuck who has shown an electric bat and the ability to make every defensive play in the outfield.
Then there’s Bourjos who appears healthy again after offseason surgery on his hip. Despite his great speed, Bourjos hasn’t been an asset on the base paths. He’s been throw out stealing 5 times, while swiping just four bases.
Who will be the consistent 8th inning set up man to get the game to a red hot Trevor Rosenthal ? Seth Maness has been a solid reliever and ground ball machine, but seems to be a better option when runners are on base rather than on the mound to start an inning clean. Kevin Siegrist is showing that he is back and healthy. His ERA is a solid 2.08. Interestingly, Lefties are batting .308 against Siegrist while righties bat just .185.
Rosenthal has put up All Star numbers, an ERA of .074 with 15 saves in 16 chances. His walk rate is way down since going exclusively to the stretch and abandoning the wind up.
The starting rotation has been rock solid, leading the Majors with an Earned Run Average of 2.70. Jaime Garcia has been very good since returning to the rotation, but how long can his shoulder hold up ? Will the team make a trade for a pitcher or hitter ? Only time and performance and health will tell.
Right now, all is well in Cardinal Nation, but in baseball things change quickly. Stay tuned, but it looks like another exciting Summer is in store for Redbird fans.