Welcome Home to STL, Michael Sam

The 2014 NFL Draft was full of surprises and controversies.  No one thought Blake Bortles would go before Johnny Manziel.  No one thought the Cowboys would pass on him, although I know a lot of my friends who are Cowboy fans actually said they loved Jerry Jones that night, which was shocking.

But the most surprising and the moment that was the most joy filled, was when the St. Louis Rams drafted Mizzou defensive end Michael Sam in the 7th round.

Cameras captured that emotional moment of Sam getting the phone call and breaking down into tears as his dream of being drafted in the NFL draft was realized.

I’m from St. Louis, and I go to Mizzou, so to me, this is the greatest thing that could have happened to Michael Sam.

So, I say welcome home! Welcome home to a city that will love you with everything its got.  You are now a part of the city that had the Cardinals, that loves that team through the good the bad and the ugly.  Welcome home to the city that has the Blues, who we love regardless of how year after year they break our hearts in the playoffs.

Michael Sam is now a St. Louis Ram.  You are joining your teammates T.J. Moe, E.J. Gaines and Tim Barnes.  You are only an hour and a half away from the college that loves you with all its heart.

So welcome home to St. Louis Michael Sam! We are so happy to make you a part of the family.

Opening Day in STL 2014: Birds, Baseball, and Ballpark Village

Finally.  The best day of the year in St. Louis is here.  This is better than Veiled Prophet, and for those not from STL, I won’t even try to explain what that is.  Opening Day at Busch Stadium.  I can only describe it as a national holiday, because to us, Cardinals fans, that’s what it is.

Today is a day when the famous Budweiser Clydesdales will come back.  Today is a day when Fredbird will be back home in all his funny, feathery glory.  Today is a day when the young and the old can come together in mutual overwhelming, child-like joy.   The boys in red and white are finally home.  Its another season, and another year for the Cardinals to continue to prove why they are our favorite team.

I just want to clarify that Opening Day at Busch Stadium is different then Opening Day in general.  Opening Day at Busch Stadium means that I can go to games now.  It means that baseball is truly back, because before, it was almost like a dream.  Real, but not real, because I had to watch the Birds on the TV.  Now, with them home, its a reality.  And its one that is so sweet, St. Louis might explode.

St. Louis finally has the ultimate party scene that everyone has been waiting for: Ballpark Village. It’s literally a village tailored to baseball.  You can watch the Cards on big screen TV’s. You can sit and watch the game in bleachers  that were built specifically to overlook the stadium.

It’s been a year since we lost Stan the Man. It’s been a year since the World Series was ripped out of our grasp by the Red Sox. But today marks the beginning of a new season.  Chris Carpenter is throwing out the first pitch.  Michael Wacha is going to dazzle us with his magic. It’s Molina Monday. The Birds are back.  And frankly, I could not be happier.

 

Mizzou men’s team must win-out for a chance at NCAA bid

As the basketball season comes to a close, the teams that are still on the bubble for the NCAA tournament need to begin worrying about being the first five out. In the Southeastern Conference, two teams are a lock. Florida and Kentucky have played solid ball all season and are locks for the tournament.

Missouri, on the other hand, is in the tournament as of right now.  However, the Tigers are one bad loss away from having their tournament dreams go down the drain. In order to earn one of the 68 spots in  the tournament, the Tigers need to win the rest of their remaining games, including a must-win at Georgia.

The Tigers had a good start to their season with a solid win over then- No. 18 UCLA, but a one-point loss to a bad Illinois team followed by losses to Georgia at home in overtime, a loss to Vanderbilt on the road as well as a loss to LSU on the road have put the Tigers in a sticky situation.

Add losses to Kentucky at home, Florida on the road, and Ole Miss on the road, Missouri finds itself in a pickle. Up a creek without a paddle. Stuck in a rut. However you want to put it, Missouri is in a precarious situation, but looking at the conference, the Tigers could make their schedule work to their advantage.

Remaining games
Wed. Feb. 19 Vanderbilt
Sat. Feb. 22 at Alabama
Tues. Feb. 25 at Georgia
Sat. March 1 Mississippi State
Wed. March 5 Texas A&M
Sat. March 8 at Tennessee

Now, let’s look at what the selection committee looks at when it is deciding whether or not to give a team a bid to the NCAA tournament.  The committee looks at quality wins, bad losses, strength of schedule, RPI,  and road wins.  According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, Missouri is ranked 38 in RPI.  As they stand right now, the Tigers are definitely in contention for a tournament bid.  But if Missouri gets swept by Georgia (14-10, third in the SEC) and loses one of its home games, the Tigers will be 9-8 in the league when they head to Knoxville. And if Ole Miss upsets Kentucky or Florida, the Rebels will have accomplished something that the Tigers couldn’t and will have the head-to-head advantage.

Looking at the conference, the schedule sets up best for Missouri and Tennessee.  The recent wins over Arkansas and Tennessee at home were critical. Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson combined for more than 50 points in the game against Arkansas, Brown scoring 25 and Clarkson scoring 27.  Brown has scored 20 or more points in his past nine games and has scored double digits in every game this season and with the exception of the Florida game,

With a home game against Vanderbilt on Wednesday and then a winnable road game against Alabama, the next true test for the Tigers will be against Georgia in Athens. Georgia has played surprisingly well this year, going 8-4 in conference play. Then Missouri has two winnable games against Mississippi State and Texas A&M.  If the Tigers win their next five games, they could probably lose to Tennessee and still have a chance at making the tournament.  That will put Missouri at 23-8 overall and 11-7 in the league.

The Vols have three road games against bottom feeders in the conference and can win out.  If that happens they will be 12-6 in conference play and definitely in the tournament.

The wildcard for the Tigers is still Ole Miss.  The Rebels don’t have much of a resume outside of the league, but they are on track to be 11-7 in the league.  That puts them with the same league record as Missouri and the Rebels have the head-to-head win.  If Ole Miss beats either Florida or Kentucky, one of those wins would match the Tigers win over UCLA as a resume builder. Missouri needs Ole Miss to lose both of its games this week.

Overall, the game that will decide whether or not Missouri salvages its season and makes a charge at the NCAA tournament is the game at Georgia. If Georgia sweeps the Tigers, they will have to beat Tennessee in Knoxville and have to win two games in the SEC tournament. And Ole Miss will have to lose twice this week for Missouri to even have a shot at the NCAA tournament.

A Recap of Mizzou Men’s Basketball So Far

With the loss of Phil Pressey, Alex Oriakhi, and Laurence Bowers, many wondered how the Mizzou Tigers men’s basketball team would fare this year.  It would be the first year that head coach Frank Haith would display a team that is comprised of players that he recruited.  All of former head coach Mike Anderson’s players had moved on. However, with their starting big men gone and their point guard, would Mizzou be able to compete this season? This was the main concern for the Tigers entering the season: would they be able to replace the front line scoring and rebounding that they had last year. So how is the season progressing? With last night’s loss to LSU, the Tigers have dropped to 2-3 in conference play and 14-4 overall.  The non-conference schedule was soft, and produced a quality win over UCLA at home, but a frustrating loss to Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game.  This is the same Illinois team that has now dropped four straight Big 10 games.  The conference schedule has produced what will surely look like a bad loss to Georgia at home, and a road loss to a mediocre Vanderbilt team.  So what’s the problem? It’s what everyone has been saying: the front line is not producing the rebounds and points that the team had last year with Bowers and Oriakhi. The statistics do not lie.  Last year, Alex Oriakhi averaged 11.2 points a game and 8.4 rebounds.  Laurence Bowers averaged 14.1 points a game and 6.1 rebounds.  This year, Jonathan Williams III, who is a freshman, is averaging 7.1 points a game and 7.4 rebounds.  Ryan Rosberg is averaging 4.5 points a game and 4.4 rebounds.  Coach Haith has publicly complained that the team is just not finishing strong at the rim.  Missed layups and inconsistent rebounding has put Mizzou in a difficult spot.  The guard play has been strong, but it’s not enough to make up for the soft inside play in close games. So, Mizzou is what its record indicates. Unranked and clearly with work to do if it wants to make the NCAA tournament.

An Open Letter to Michael Wacha

Dear Michael,

Can I just say that on behalf of Cardinal Nation, we are so happy that you are on our team.

Thank you for Wachtober.  For allowing Fox Sports to do a segment with the Muppets.  For your last name just being so fun to say.  And for reminding me of Pac-Man. WACHA WACHA WACHA WACHA.

But enough about your name.  Let’s talk about your game.  Let’s talk about being unbeaten in the post season.  Let’s talk about 3 games where only one or two hits were allowed.  Almost no walks.  2 major road wins.

It’s Game Six of the World Series tonight.  In Fenway.  And we are about to ask you to do exactly what you did in Game Four of the NLDS.  Bring us home a win.  Help bring home another ring to STL.

So as I watch you on my TV tonight, know I’ll be rooting for you like I’ve rooted for you all season long.  Know that a city is hoping that you will give them one more game to make it 12 in 13.

And know that we believe in you.  You are Chris Carpenter’s protegé.  Help bring home a win.

And if you ever need a date, hit a girl up.

Love,

A Cardinals Fan

but seriously, I’m available

A Shoutout to Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow. He’s one of the most talked about players in the NFL.  You either love him or you hate him. He’s either the greatest person ever or you just wish he would give up and go home.  Now, I’ll agree. I think the man needs to work on his throwing motion.  But I also believe that no one has given him a real chance to prove himself.  Which is why I’m overjoyed he’s going to mini camp with New England.

Disclaimer: I love Tebow because I grew up a Florida Gator. I watched him go from a tough freshman to getting to go to the SEC championship game his junior year and watching him beat Alabama for my 17th birthday present.  So I am not a bandwagon Tebow fan.  Yes, it helps that the man is easy on the eyes, but he’s a Gator, so he will always have a place in my heart.

But back to business. Tebow was the source of controversy when he was drafted 25th in the draft, and he’s been the source of talk ever since.  My beef with everyone hating on him though, starts with John Elway.

I am not going to sit here and say that if you have to choose between Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow, that you should pick Tim Tebow. I am not stupid, and nor is Elway.  But, what I have an issue with, is the fact that Tebow, a man who took a team that had a losing season for the past couple of years from 1-4 to 8-5.  He also brought the Broncos into the playoffs. He then goes on to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, which are a pretty decent team.  After this, he gets routed by arguably the greatest quarterback of this generation, Tom Brady.

So after all this, I am not saying that you pass up Peyton Manning. But did Elway have to kick Tebow to the curb? NO. He could have held onto Tebow and let Peyton coach him, teach him how to improve his throwing motion, helped the young quarterback.

But he didn’t. So Tebow went to the Jets, and that was the most abysmal year for that poor man I have ever seen. Demoted to protecting the punter, ridiculed by his own teammates, broken ribs, it was just a sad, sad year for Tebow fans.

But through it all, that man has stayed postitive.  Not once has he been angry, talked bad about anyone in the Jets organization, about any of his teammates, or even Elway.  He is a class act in his love with the Lord, his humility, and his tenacity to succeed at the position that he wanted to play.

So what I want to know is why the media wants to tear him down? Why does society want to tear him down?  We have been screaming for an athlete to be a role model for years, and now that we have one, we have to destroy him because we can’t handle that he embodies everything good in the world.  He is a philanthroper, he loves God, and he openly talks about it. Why is that annoying? What’s wrong with that? So he loves God. Why is that such a bad thing?

I have this to say. I’m glad he’s at New England. Maybe he’ll learn something from Brady. I will be behind him the whole way cheering for him.  I always love an underdog, and it feels like everyone in the sports community is rooting for Tebow to fail.

Tebow will also be reunited with former teammates Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes.  It’ll be a Gator fun-for-all out in Foxborough.

Another thing to consider: Belichick loves to stick it to the Jets. He signed to coach the Jets, then a year later resigns to coach the Patriots. These two teams are division rivals and Belichick is a legend. This is a perfect fit for Tebow. There is no Tebow noise out in New England.  Belichick can use Tebow however he wants without any pressure from anyone because he’s Bill Belichick. Whose going to question him?

Belichick also knows Tebow.  He was always close to Urban Meyer and used to talk to the Gators in the pre-season. He also knows the quality of the individual.

So, lets look at some statistics of all the quarterback that our society deems as the top qb’s of our generation.  Peyton, Elway, Brady, Rodgers, and Favre. Let’s compare Tebow’s stats his first year as a starter to theirs and see where he matchs up.

Peyton completed 326 passes out of 575 attempts. He went 3-13 as a starter. He had a 56.7 completion percentage.  He threw for 3,739 yards, threw 26 touchdowns, and also threw 28 interceptions. Peyton finished with a 71.2 quarterback rating, and only 62 yards rushing and 0 rushing touchdowns. He did not take his team to the playoffs that year either.

Moving on to Brett Favre. Favre completed 302 out of 471 attempts. He had a 64.1 completion percentage. He threw for 3,227 yards, threw 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, rushed for 198 yards, and had 1 rushing touchdown and 6 fumbles. Favre had an 85.3 qb rating and was 9-7 as a starter. No playoffs for the Packers that year either.

We now turn to Tebow’s former boss, John Elway. Elway was 123 out of 259 his rookie season. He had a 47.5 completion percentage, threw for 1,663 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He had 146 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown and a 54.9 qb rating. Elway went 9-7 as a starter and no playoffs at all.

Aaron Rodgers didn’t start til Brett Favre had finally retired in 2008.  In his first season as a starter, he completed 341 out of 536, with a 63.6 completion percentage. Rodgers threw for 4,038 passing yards, threw 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He had 6 fumbles, 207 yards rushing, 4 rushing touchdowns, and a 93.8 qb rating. Rodgers went 6-10 as a starter. But he didnt make the playoffs either.

Brady, who was drafted by no other then the Yoda of the NFL, Bill Belichick, is the ONLY anomoly in this sequence. In his first year as a starter, Brady went 264 out of 413, had a 63.9 completion percentage, and threw for 2,843 yards. He had 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and 9 fumbles.  Brady ran for 110 yards, had no rushing touchdowns, and 3 fumbles while rushing. He had an 86.5 quarterback rating, went 11-5 as a starter, and took the Patriots to the Super Bowl and won.

Tebow’s stats as a starter? He was 7-3 as a starting quarterback. He completed 126 out of 271, threw for 1,729 yards, and had a 46.5 completion percentage. He threw for 12 touchdowns, threw 6 interceptions, and had a 72.9 qb rating. On top of that, he rushed for 660 yards and had 6 rushing touchdowns.  Tebow also had a playoff win, something that none of the other quarterbacks have BESIDES TOM BRADY.

So, if by the logic that everyone has treated Tebow with, Elway, Manning, Favre and Rodgers should have been booted after their first year starting. Tebow is right up there with all of the greats. He measures up. His stats are right up there with everyone else. But is he kept to grow and nurture and hone his craft?

NO.  Elway boots him like a piece of garbage. And that’s the biggest mistake that Denver made.

Something else that is comical? At any level, Tebow has been successful. State championships in high school, two National Championships at Florida, the Heisman Trophy, and by all measures, is a tremendous athlete and a hard worker.

But he can’t play in the NFL?

So why did Belichick ask Tebow to come to mini camp? Maybe Bill understands potential. Afterall, he did draft Brady in the sixth round of the draft, and that seems to be working out pretty well for him.

Belichick is one of the smartest minds in the NFL. So go ahead, write Tebow off as someone who can’t make it in the NFL. Because in the end, it will be Belichick and Tebow who will be having the last laugh.

Thoughts and Prayers Go Out to Boston

In times of tragedy and sorrow, I am always amazed at the good in the world.  What happened today at the Boston Marathon is a disgusting display of why the human race is awful.  Two people have been killed, and over dozens more have been injured in the bombing that took place today at the finish line of one of the nation’s  most historic and oldest marathons.

But within this horrific event there is a silver lining.

NBC Sports Network tweeted that runners were crossing the finish line and then heading to the local hospitals to donate blood for those who were injured.

Police officers, fire fighters, and troops from the Massachusetts National Guard are out on the scene continuously showing America what it means to be a hero.

Americans are coming together to help one another, and in the wake of this tragedy, I still see a brighter future.

It is in times like these that we need to cling to the ones we love. Call your family.  Tell them how much you mean to them.  Because events like this, 9/11, and the Newtown tragedy remind me every day how short life really is.

With that being said, I will leave you with this quote from Mr. Rogers.

““When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Hang in there America.  Pray for Boston. Pray that the senseless violence comes to an end soon. And pray that we all learn what is really important in life- life itself.