Archive for April, 2016

Thursday’s Thoughts on Rams Draft and Blues Playoffs

Posted in Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2016 by Shane Gray

DraftLogoSt. Louis, MO

(@RealShaneGray)

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Rams traded a plethora of premium 2016 and 2017 draft picks to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the number one overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. In doing so, the Rams bet the farm on the hope that either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will become the league’s next elite quarterback and help lift the former St. Louis-based franchise out of a decade-plus stretch of frustration and futility.

In giving up a first, two seconds and a third rounder this year and first and third round selections next year, L.A. essentially sealed the franchise’s fate for the next several seasons.

After relinquishing so much draft capital to move up to get their gunslinger, the Rams bold move will do one of two things:

If it works, they have landed themselves a top-tier quarterback to go along with a potentially dominant defense and ground game, and the move will help elevate the organization to the upper echelon of the NFL in rather short order.

If it fails, the risky trade with the Titans will set the franchise back several more seasons and likely keep the franchise fumbling in the won-loss column for several more years.

In short, this trade will all but make or break the Rams hopes to turn the corner in California. This was an all-boom or all-bust deal. Time will tell the tale on how it plays out for Stan Kroenke and company.

Speaking of the Rams Trade…

Unfortunately , St. Louis fans and media alike learned that the Rams front office  — led by team CEO Kevin Demoff — was good at a few things not remotely related to winning football games: lying, manipulating and serving themselves.

With that understood, I couldn’t help but laugh when hearing that the Rams chose to wait a day to announce the aforementioned trade for the number one pick so as to not take away from the final home game of Lakers all-time great Kobe Bryant.

Of course, the Rams made sure to let everyone know that they postponed the news an extra day rather than just quietly announcing the trade the next day and leaving it at that. That’s the Rams, though.

For anyone unclear of the Rams motives, let me break it down for you:

The Rams did that for the Rams. That’s it.

They desired to appeal to Lakers fans by attempting to show consideration for their fan base in an effort to help the Rams and nobody but the Rams. It’s really that simple.

The Rams PR machine continues to be predictably pathetic.

How ‘Bout Those Blues? 

After securing a three games to one advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs, the Blues started looking like the same old Blues in faltering to a 3-3 series tie as fans wondered if it was yet another hear-we-go-again- postseason collapse.

But this year, with all the chips on the line, St. Louis stepped up with a thrilling game 7 win at home to the delight of Blues faithful.

As the club is now just a series win away from their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1970, a Finals appearance couldn’t come at a better time for either the Blues or the STL.

With the Rams and the NFL freshly departed, this would be the ideal time for the Blues to grab the attention of former Rams fans who may be looking for another local pro club to turn their attention to. With many football fans feeling scorned, what better time for the Blues to pack the bandwagon than right now? What better time to grow some future die-hard fans with a Stanley Cup appearance just months after the Rams exit?

And for St. Louis, what better time for the Blue note to win a Stanley Cup than right now, with so many sports fans and St. Louisans in general feeling disappointment following the exodus of the world’s preeminent sports league?

Whether you are one of the many have moved on from the Rams move or one of many others who haven’t, this would be a perfect time for the city’s great sports fans and the region in general to enjoy some good fortunes in relation to the region’s pro-sports landscape.

Now perhaps more than over, St. Louis wants to see the Blues get this done and they may have a better shot than they have in awhile to do just that.

Thanks for reading…

SG

Sam Bradford: The Complaining Thief

Posted in Eagles, Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2016 by thelegendkil

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@thelegendkil

ST. LOUIS, MO

With the arrival of the NFL draft approaching, there has been no let down when it comes to wheeling and dealing by teams looking to inject something positive into their franchise with a game changing player. Last week the Los Angeles Rams traded their first round pick (Number 15), two second round picks (43 &45), a third round pick (76), and the Tennessee Titans will get Rams first and third round picks in 2017. That’s what the Rams gave up for the number one overall pick in the draft. This will mark the second time the Rams have picked number one overall since 2010.

And in 2010, while the Rams where still residing in St.Louis, they decided to draft Sam Bradford with that pick.  That pick failed to live up to the hype of an elite quarterback, with the former Heisman winner receiving a 6-year, $78 million dollar contract ($50 million of it guaranteed). Bradford was just a tease, he had all the tools to make himself one of the best in the NFL, but he lacked the most important ingredient any football player should have – and that’s heart.

He was coddled by the press – and it got worse when Jeff Fisher became head coach in 2012. But last year, in an unexpected twist, Bradford was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles for Nick Foles. Fisher was perturbed that Sam Bradford wouldn’t take a pay cut, especially after several other veterans did so. Most thought that once Sam Bradford got away from the Rams his star would rise and he would prove naysayers wrong.

And boy he did over achieve. He went 7-7 as a starter for the Eagles putting his career record at a “dazzling” 25-37-1. A “eye-popping” winning percentage of .405, yet he bolstered 19 TD’s with 14 interceptions and 3,725 passing yards. His career totals are 78 TDs/52 INTs and 14,790 yards. These are some of the most deceiving numbers you’ll see a starting QB have without taking one single snap in the playoffs.

Now Sam Bradford is demanding a trade from the Eagles. Just a month ago they signed him to a two year deal for $35 million, with 22 of it being guaranteed.  This is happening all because the Eagles, just like the Rams, made a huge deal with the Cleveland Browns to land the number two pick in this year draft.

The Eagles traded (No.8) pick and fourth round pick this year – and traded away first round pick in 2017 and second round pick in 2018. The Eagles will more than likely use that pick on a QB.

Philadelphia Eagles Executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman is quoted in an ESPN.com story by Phil Sheridan as saying “Let me be clear. Sam Bradford is our starting QB. We told him that.” Not that it mattered to Bradford. He threw a tantrum and is now demanding a trade. Talk about entitlement – this guy has the gall to throw a fit because the Eagles want to draft a QB with the second pick.

He should be doing all types of praise dancing after stinking up the Edward Jones Dome for four years, getting traded and collecting every penny of that rookie contract – only to have the Eagles gift wrap an additional 22 million guaranteed. He’s never had to fight for a job as the starter his entire career, and he can’t even handle competing against either Carson Wentz,  Jared Goff or former Missouri Tigers QB Chase Daniel. We are seeing the real guy now and it’s more than unflattering.

According to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, the Eagles feel blindsided by Bradford’s trade request. “Too much dead cap $11m if they trade him before June 1 Broncos and Jets seem good spots though #NFL #shutUpSam,” says longtime Philadelphia radio host Phil Allen (now program director for 98.5 FM and contributor to NTheZone), said via Twitter.

That was about the cleanest tweet I could find coming out of the city of Brotherly Love.

Sam Bradford has fooled us all for years. He’s managed to get over 100 million playing a shade over .400 football, no playoffs and shaky health.

Find me on Twitter @thelegendkil

You can also follow @NTheZoneShow on Twitter as well

America’s Pastime in St. Louis

Posted in Baseball, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2016 by thelegendkil

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ST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

The last couple of days of sports around these parts have been absolutely disgusting. From a student athlete at the Saint Louis University using unflattering language directed at the President of the United States ,to Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward having racial slurs hurled at him in his first game back at Busch Stadium.

And this isn’t ground breaking, not the first time we’ve heard about this. It’s been happening, but the thing is now, we are seeing this more frequently. It wasn’t that long ago we were talking about the protest at the University of Missouri and the rise of racial tension on the campus and throughout the city of Columbia, Missouri. For those who had friends and family there raced up the I-70 corridor, in the case of violence that has seemed to follow most protest as of late.

Now back to Saint Louis University. When I read the story written by Danny Wicentowski of the Riverfront Times, I instantly thought about how ironic that remark was coming from a student or athlete at the college nestled not far from low income housing. The remarks prompted a response from Robyn Browning – who wrote a letter to the President of SLU Dr. Fred P. Pestello urging for more action against the baseball players and requested to have them removed from the team.  Robyn also sent same letter to the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference Bernadette V. McGlade. Calls have been made to the Atlantic 10 Conference they’ve have not been returned yet. You can also read Robyn’s open letter @robynbirdfly.

Now on to the St.Louis Cardinals fans who can’t get over the fact that Jason Heyward is no longer wearing the birds on the bat. A day after playing in his first game as a member of the Chicago Cubs, New York Daily News columnist Kate Feldman wrote a piece about Heyward being hit with racial taunts. I’m not surprised in the least that some of the Cardinal baseball fans did that.

There is a sector of Cardinal baseball fans that are so annoying. They act as though it’s such a great privilege to wear the Cardinals jersey. Heyward only played one season in St.Louis and hit .293 with 13 home runs and 60 runs batted in – that’s right 13 home runs and 60 runs batted in.

People are breaking into salami sweats over a baseball player under 15 home runs and wasn’t a RBI machine by no means. He hurt Cardinals feelings by rejecting them – and by joining the Chicago Cubs. I Don’t remember Chicago Cubs fans treating Shawon Dunston like this when he played for the Cardinals. And I know circumstances were different for Dunston – and the only similarity being that Dunston is a black player for a bitter rival.

These people need to get over themselves. They should be more mad the Cardinals didn’t resign pitcher John Lackey who struck out 11 Cardinal batters en route to a 5-0 shut out, pitching out of a couple of jams.

Meanwhile, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright hasn’t won a game – and Lackey was clearly the team best pitcher last year. He is undefeated so far at 3-0.

And by the way so far so good since the Cardinals and Heyward didn’t agree on a deal, Heyward is hitting under .200 with just 7 RBI’s.

I also think the local broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest fanned the flames and kept bringing up that Heyward said that the Cardinals core of players were too old. Cardinals color commentator Al Hrabosky said it’s is true about the Cardinals core being older. He even went so far as to mention Matt Holiday, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright.

I don’t blame Heyward at all for choosing Chicago. Let’s face it, there is more to offer entertainment-wise. He’s 26 and single. And if these jilted fans feel this way, think about the region we’re living in.

It’s those little things, which are symbolic of the “Cardinal Way.”

Follow me on Twitter @thelegendkil

An Open Letter To Dr. Fred P. Pestello

Posted in Baseball, Special, Sports with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2016 by A-Train

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Our contributor Robyn Browning sends the following…

Hi everyone. I am sending this letter to the President of SLU, Dr. Fred P. Pestello. Please share. Copy and paste this letter & send it to him as well. Change some of the words to fit you. Our voices count! I especially urge SLU alumni to do so as well. His email address is president@slu.edu

 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

President

Saint Louis University

1 North Grand Boulevard

St. Louis, MO 63103

 

Dear Dr. Pestello:

I am sending you this letter to make you aware of your university’s inaction against the players on the men’s baseball team for racist comments against President Barack Obama.

As an African-American, I am offended by the remarks. I am especially surprised by the inability to discipline those players. If you need precedent for the private conversations leading to termination, I ask you to look at Donald Sterling being relieved of his duties as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for making racist comments. You can suspend or remove those players from the team. The National Basketball Association is better without Mr. Sterling leading a franchise and the baseball team will be better without them.

Part of your mission statement says that you foster programs to alleviate ignorance and you welcome students, staff, and faculty of all racial backgrounds to create a sense of community. Clearly, the pitchers’ ignorance has not been alleviated and community cannot be created when students are making racist remarks. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

The current action of an apology is not sufficient. I urge you to take more action against the pitchers on the men’s baseball team and remove them from the team. I can only hope that you will take my request seriously to take action and discipline the pitchers. They not only disrespected the President of the United States, but all African-Americans at the university, in St. Louis, in Missouri, in the United States, and across the world. I will send this letter to the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Please contact me at rbrowning20@gmail.com to discuss this issue further and keep me abreast of details regarding this situation.

 

Sincerely,

Robyn Browning

 

Cc: Bernadette V. McGlade, Commissioner-Atlantic 10 Conference

BMcGlade@atlantic10.org

 

Let’s Hoop – NBA First Round Playoff Preview

Posted in Basketball, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2016 by A-Train

The A-Train here…I want to bring on our NBA contributor Robyn Browning and she has your preview for the upcoming first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Robyn, the floor is yours.Larry O'Brien Trophy

ROBYN:

The regular season ended on a historic and spectacular note with Golden State setting the record for most wins in the season (73) and Kobe Bryant ending his career with a 60 point effort to defeat the Utah Jazz, thus securing his name as a basketball legend. Now, the playoffs are here and hopefully the NBA will build off the energy of Wednesday night and extend it through the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the first-round series in order of seeding.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (8)

Golden State wins if they keep applying pressure on offense with quick ball movement, pressure defense with closeout double teams, and aggressive rebounding.

Houston wins if they take the red pill from the Matrix and become the team in an alternate reality in which Harden plays defense, more plays are run for Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard becomes a 70% free throw shooter.

Players to Watch: Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza

My Pick: Golden State in 4

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

Cleveland wins if they become the playoff team we expect them to be. LeBron James will run the point, be efficient from the field, and open up spot-up shooters. Kyrie Irving must contain Reggie Jackson in pick and roll situations.

Detroit wins if they wear down Cleveland through offensive rebounding and pick and roll play with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. They must play with the same confidence and fire that led them to defeat Cleveland during the regular season.

Players to Watch: Andre Drummond and Cleveland’s three-point shooters (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Kevin Love)

My Pick: Cleveland in 5

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

San Antonio wins if they control the tempo and no one gets hurt.

Memphis wins if they transform into the Monstars from Space Jam.

Players to Watch: Danny Green, Spurs bench, and Jordan Farmar vs. Spurs point guards

My pick: San Antonio in 5

Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Indiana Pacers (7)

Toronto wins if they shoot well from the perimeter, drive to the basket, and get to the foul line a lot.

Indiana wins if they win Game 1 and fluster Toronto’s confidence. Indiana’s front court must get Luis Scola and Jonas Valaciunas in foul trouble.

Players to Watch: Toronto’s backcourt vs. Indiana’s frontcourt and DeMarre Carroll (Is he healthy?)

My Pick: Toronto in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder (3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)

Oklahoma City wins on talent alone. Russell Westbrook is too much for Deron Williams to handle and Kevin Durant can pour in points by the handful.

Dallas wins if they can contain the Thunder—not outright stop them defensively, outscore them, and coach Rick Carlisle changes the lineup so much that the Thunder stay off balance.

Players to Watch: Wesley Matthews (Can he keep up with Kevin Durant?) and Russell Westbrook (watch for a triple-double game or two)

My Pick: Oklahoma City in 5

Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)

Miami wins if their veterans will use their post-season experience to their advantage and Hassan Whiteside can defend the rim, keep fouls to under control, and wear down Al Jefferson.

Charlotte wins if they forget about the 2013-2014 playoffs when they were swept by the Heat, Kemba Walker’s mid-range game stays great, and Jefferson, Nick Batum, and Marvin Williams lock down Miami defensively.

Players to Watch: Charlotte’s defense and Jeremy Lin and his hair

My Pick: Miami in 6

Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trailblazers (5)

Los Angeles wins if they continue to play with confidence and overpower the Blazers in the post.

Portland wins if Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum break down the Clippers defensively to score inside and outside the paint and set up their teammates for easy shots.

Players to Watch: Lillard vs. Chris Paul (top-notch NBA point guard play) and Clippers bench

My Pick: Clippers in 6

Atlanta Hawks (4) vs. Boston Celtics (5)

Atlanta wins if Paul Millsap takes advantage of the Celtic’s frontcourt, especially on pick and roll plays and make the Celtics run half-court offense.

Boston wins if Isaiah Thomas continues to score as he has for over a month, get Atlanta to turn the ball over, and have more points in transition than half-court.

Players to Watch: Isaiah Thomas vs. Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder (Teague/Schroder turnover-prone & Thomas can capitalize in a major way)

My Pick: Atlanta in 7

 

You can follow Robyn on Twitter. Her handle is @robynbirdfly.

The View From Mt. Airy Special – The St. Louis Cardinals Nearly Made History

Posted in Baseball, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

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@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

1947. Brooklyn, NYC. Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson takes the field for the Dodgers as MLB reintegrates after 35 years as an all-white entity. Yes, there were black ballplayers in the majors (and NFL) as the century began but were slowly weeded out as racist owners like Braves and Redskins owner George Preston Marshall gained power over the commissioner’s office.

We celebrate this day across baseball America. But there’s a backstory that is rarely told, and in my opinion, is just as important.

1942. St. Louis Missouri. The Cardinals win the World Series after a franchise record setting 106-win season. The team is stocked for the future and poised for an extended reign at the top of the National League. Virtually entirely homegrown, this elite unit was led by Manager Billy Southworth (former GasHouse Gang CF) who too was a product of GM Branch Rickey’s invention, the “farm system.” Despite their successes however, the Cardinals would average less than 7,000 paying customers in 1942 at Sportsman’s Park, and would outdraw their AL counterpart (and tenant) the lowly last place Browns by just over 150,000 fans enroute to their championship.

Dismayed by the Cardinals seeming inability to transfer their on field successes to the box office, GM Rickey conceived a brilliant and extremely covert plan to draw an entirely new audience while enhancing his team at the same time. Secretly he began to court, and sign in some cases the best talent he could woo from the Negro Leagues. History will debate forever who exactly signed Cardinal contracts amongst the Black players however what we know for sure is that they never played a day. Why? Dizzy Dean.

Dizzy Dean had created a legend in the Midwest by ’42.

Hall of Fame. 30-game winner. However, a sore arm had shortened his career and the Cardinal legend had been relegated to the radio booth. He longed for more and secretly yearned to be GM of his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. So when opportunity arose, he jumped in with both feet.

According to Hall of Fame shortstop Ray Dandridge, he mistakenly mailed his contract to the general office of St. Louis baseball vs. the personal mailbox of Branch Rickey. A secretary and friend of Dizzy Dean’s opened it and shared it with him. An avowed racist, Dean immediately shared it with Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, exclaiming “he’s going to field an all nigger team Sam!” Breadon reached out to MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who vetoed the plan and questioned how this could even occur without the knowledge of the owner. Despite 106 wins and the World Championship, Branch Rickey was fired. It would be 5 years before he would succeed where Dean couldn’t stop him. Hello Jackie Robinson. Welcome to Brooklyn. Now you know.

Follow me on Twitter at the link above…

Also follow @NTheZoneShow…and make sure you check out their weekly podcast.

The Rivalry Begins…Again

Posted in Hockey, NHL with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2016 by thelegendkil

Blackhawks-BluesST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

Well it’s that time of the year again, the start of the NHL playoffs are here and the St.Louis Blues are about to face one of their most hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. And anytime when the Blues and Blackhawks get together it’s a fun time for fans in St.Louis and Chicago. But, when it’s the playoffs the heat gets turned up higher than you can turn a knob on a range oven.

The Blues have not fared well against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champions now boast a 32-24 all-time playoff record against the Blues. And to be honest the “Notes” hasn’t done too well in the playoffs as of late. It’s become almost custom that by the time your grass turns green the Blues are normally dismissed from the playoffs.

Fans throughout the region are collectively cautiously optimistic that this could be the year the Blues advance at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Especially, after another strong regular season netting a total of 107 points, without having more than two players net 20 goals. Or even have two players over 50 points for the season. The Blues averaged under three goals a game ranked in the middle of the pack at 15. But, the Blues did make up for that cracking the top ten in three other important categories; Ranking 2,4, and 6 in penalty kill, goaltending, and power play, according to NHLreference.com. Coach Ken Hitchcock in a brief presser said that every person is available health wise and that Blues Captain David Backes will be ready to play according to ESPN.com.

The defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks bring plenty of offensive fireworks led by Patrick Kane’s 106 points and second leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin’s 30 goals and 47 assists. And they get plenty of offense from their defensemen as well. Defenseman Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are ranked 4 and 5 respectively on their team in regards scoring. And can’t leave out that the Blackhawks are steered by former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.

And in order for the Blues to have any success against the Blackhawks, they have to remain aggressive especially on the power play. I noticed several times throughout the season they would have the puck on the power play and 15-20 seconds would go by without a shot being taken on net. Also my eyes will be on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a very talented player yet he is a –14 when it comes to plus/minus rating. And the Blues have shown a tendency to get caught flat-footed creating odd man rushes, that’s something this team can ill afford to do. Obvious goals will be at a premium in the NHL playoffs, sometimes all you need is one goal.

Regardless, it’s good to have some playoff sports in the city of St.Louis, let’s hope the Blues give the “blues” to someone else for a change this spring. And nothing would be sweeter than eliminating a rival.

For more…follow me on Twitter @thelegendkil

Check out N The Zone on Facebook/Twitter

 

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