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Bernie Bits: Props For Ricky Proehl, Ryan O’Reilly Reps The Note, Cardinal Great Turns 85, and Yucky Medicine

Help yourself to some Bernie Bits…

For Monday, Jan. 28, 2019…

QUICKIE OPENING THOUGHTS

1. Can we get the damned Super Bowl week over with already? Thanks.

2. Rebuilding, injuries,  bad breaks, officiating, leaky roof,  distracted, upset at officials, forgot to have a proper breakfast, shoes don’t fit … whatever. You cannot lose a college basketball game after being up by 14 points with 2:08 remaining. You can’t do that. And at home, no less. That was brutal, Mizzou.

3. Watched the film “First Man” over the weekend. Wanted to love it. What an unfortunate waste of time — and story about a distinguished American, Neil Armstrong.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

The great Bill White is 85 today. One of the finest first basemen of his era, White was a lineup fixture for seven seasons (1959-1965). During his time with St. Louis, White’s honors included six gold gloves, five All-Star selections, and MVP votes in three seasons. White finished third in the National League MVP voting in 1964 when he batted .303, hit 21 homers and drove in 102 runs to help lead the Cardinals to the NL pennant and World Series championship. Later White earned historical prominence for his work as a network broadcaster and as president of the NL from 1989-1994.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, is 70 today.

Nick Price, the South African golfer, is 62 today. Price warrants mention because he won the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis, finishing three strokes ahead of John Cook, Nick Faldo, Jim Gallagher Jr. and Gene Sauers.

BORN ON THIS DAY

Bill Doak, one of the most underrated pitchers in Cardinals history, was born on this day in 1891. Doak pitched for the Cardinals for 11+ seasons. Despite working for a team that had only five winning seasons and an overall losing record from 1913 through 1924, Doak had a winning record individually (144-136) and twice posted the NL’s lowest ERA. He had a 2.93 ERA in 376 games for the Cardinals. Doak died in 1954 at age 63.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS IN SPORTS HISTORY

1958: Dodger catcher Roy Campanella, a future baseball Hall of Famer, was paralyzed in an automobile wreck.

1959: Vince Lombardi was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers. That turned out well.

1974: Former Cardinals first baseman Sunny Jim Bottomley was inducted (posthumously) into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1992: Blues winger Brett Hull becomes second player in NHL history (after Wayne Gretzky) to score back-to-back seasons of 50 goals in only 50 games. Hull’s 50th came in a 3-3 tie at Los Angeles.

AS OTHERS SEE US

Joel Rueter of Bleacher Report put together a list of the every MLB team’s most overrated prospect. His choice for Cardinals? Shortstop Delvin Perez.

“Perez might have been a top-10 pick in 2016 if a positive PED test had not been revealed right before the draft,” Rueter wrote. “The Cardinals wound up taking him No. 23 overall with the hope that his bat would catch up to his already-advanced glove. That hasn’t happened so far, and after hitting .213/.301/.272 in 64 games at Low-A, his stock has bottomed out.”

In a separate piece, Rueter offered predictions on the offseason moves that are most likely to “crash and burn.” On the list: the Cardinals’ signing of lefty reliever Andrew Miller. Rueter cited Miller’s drop in performance during an injury-damaged 2018 season.

“Andrew Miller has a chance to be a huge addition to the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. The signing itself isn’t the issue here; it’s the cost. If everything goes right and Miller not only stays healthy but returns to the elite form he showed in Cleveland, he’s worth about $15 million to $17 million per year, based on the current market value for top-tier relievers.

“At a $12.5 million annual value, there’s not nearly enough room to account for the inherent risk that a pitcher of his age and with his recent injury history brings to the table. In other words, the chances of him providing a positive net value on his salary are extremely low, while the risk that he dips into the red is extremely high.

“When he was able to take the mound, he never quite looked like his usual dominant self…on top of all that, he’s also set to turn 34 on May 21. With widespread interest, the Cardinals did what they needed to do to get a deal done.

“Still, it’s hard not to wonder if splurging on Zach Britton—who signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Yankees about a month after Miller joined the Cardinals—would have been the better investment.”

TRENDING UP

Kudos to Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, who represented the franchise in admirable fashion during the NHL’s All-Star weekend in San Jose. I his first mini-game, O’Reilly had a goal and three assists as the Central division defeated the Pacific 10-4. The Central lost to the Metropolitan division in the final, 10-5, despite O’Reilly delivering a goal and two assists. He was one of four finalists for the All-Star MVP award which went to Sidney Crosby.

TRENDING DOWN

This isn’t shaping up as a stellar season for the local/area college basketball teams on the Division I level. Here’s how they stack up nationally in Monday’s KenPom ratings: Illinois (81st), Mizzou (88th), St. Louis U (109), Missouri State (158) and Southern Illinois (171.) But at least Illinois had a terrific 11-point win over Maryland (No. 23 in KenPom) on Saturday.

READING TIME FIVE MINUTES

According to NBC Sports, the Top four markets for ratings share for Saturday night’s NHL All-Star Game were Buffalo (5.0) and Pittsburgh (4.7) with St. Louis and the Twin Cities tied for third at 3.0. Las Vegas was fifth with a 2.7 rating.

Mizzou’s Drew Lock came away as one of the winners of Senior Bowl week. Lock played well in the actual game but really starred in his performances on the practice field and in interviews with NFL personnel. Wrote Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports: “Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones came to Mobile as potential first-round picks looking to improve their draft stock. Several NFL evaluators told CBSSports.com early in the week that they were split on Lock and Jones, but that’s almost certainly changed… one game isn’t going to make or break any of these players. Practices are more important for scouts, coaching and general managers; it’s why most of them headed out of town by Thursday. But even with that caveat, the quarterbacks not named Lock were, in general, underwhelming.”

Scott Burnside (The Athletic) handed out grades to all 31 NHL teams during the All-Star break; the Blues received a D+ for their 22-22-5 record to this stage. “Sure, the Blues are just three points out of a playoff spot at the break, but for a team that should have been competing with Nashville and Winnipeg atop the Central Division, this season is a major disappointment as witnessed by the firing of head coach Mike Yeo,” Burnside wrote. “Jordan Binnington is a revelation in goal but can the kid help salvage the Blues’ season? Seems like a lot to ask.”

Wide receiver Ricky Proehl was one of the most popular Rams during the “Greatest Show on Turf” days in St. Louis. Those who were there, or watched it on TV, or who cared about the STL Rams will never forget the incredible touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Proehl that gave the Rams a 11-6 victory over Tampa Bay in the 1999 NFC Championship. Without that game-saving connection the Rams don’t make it to Super Bowl 34, where they defeated Tennessee in a 23-17 thriller.

Three things about Proehl:

(1) Proehl’s son, Austin, is currently a rookie wide receiver on the Los Angeles Rams practice squad. Austin was 5 years old the Rams won Super Bowl 34. Moments after the Rams’ sealed their stunning triumph, Ricky ran behind the Rams bench, pulled Austin from the stands at the Georgia Dome, and hoisted his young son on his shoulders. “I wanted him, Austin, to be a part of it,” Ricky Proehl told the LA Times. (During the 1999 season Austin Proehl was a familiar sight in the Rams’ locker room, hanging out with the team’s wide receivers.)

(2) Come Sunday, Ricky Proehl is rooting for the Rams to knock off the Patriots in Super Bowl 53. No explanation necessary. “They’ll beat the Patriots; I’m gonna get on (Austin’s) shoulders,” Ricky told the LA Times. This past week Austin Proehl worked on the scout team to prepare the Rams’ defense by emulating the Patriots’ Julian Edelman.

(3) Ricky Proehl savors his experience as a St. Louis Ram. When the franchise moved to Los Angeles, Proehl was tremendously supportive in his defense of the STL market. Last fall Proehl said this about St. Louis in an interview with the New York Post: “I feel sick for ’em, because they’re some of the greatest fans that I got an opportunity to play in front of. St. Louis is a great sports town. The five years I was there (1998-2002) they were as supportive a fan base as you have in the NFL. No place got louder than that dome when we were doing what we were doing. It was amazing, and I just feel sad, these guys have been stripped twice of an NFL franchise. I just feel awful. The Rams started in L.A., so obviously they were stripped as well, and now they got ’em back. But I just feel sorry for the fan base there because they were very supportive.”

Back to Ryan O’Reilly: Speaking to reporters during All-Star weekend festivities, O’Reilly expressed optimism over the Blues’ chance of making the playoffs despite a slow start. The Note was three points out of a wild card spot at the break. “We haven’t been perfect,” RoR said, “but we are starting to get back into this fight and I am confident we’re going to play in the playoffs because of the way we work.”

Keeping an eye on the NL Central: The Cubs recently received an offseason grade of “D minus” from Bleacher Report. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein knows that the pressure is there — but not because of outside criticism. Epstein had this to say in an interview with The Athletic: “For me, it’s that we have something to prove, right? I think this, again, if you look at the post-2016 Cubs, we haven’t fully realized our potential yet. We’ve sort of underachieved a bit since the World Series and we want to sort of get back and establish ourselves as one of the elite dominant teams in October and try to win multiple championships. We definitely don’t want the end of 2018 to be anything but a blip based on how we perform going forward and what becomes of the rest of this window and beyond. That can either be sort of a definitional moment, the sort of a counter to the World Series — ‘Here’s what happened to the post-World Series Cubs’ — or it can be a blip in the long run of dominance.”

CLOSING  TIME  AT  BERNIE’S PLACE

Three shots…

You may find them distasteful.

Here’s some yucky medicine. 

Drink up some truth, my friends.

1. When the Patriots upset the Rams in Super Bowl 34, the Rams were a minus 3 in the turnover ratio — and still only lost by three points, 20-17. Of course it’s easy shout “cheaters” in response to New England’s win. But as every idiot out there should know — no statistic is more crucial to a game’s outcome than turnover margin.

2. How difficult was it to for the Rams to win by overcoming a minus 3 in the turnover battle? Since the 2001, when the Patriots’ current run of dominance began, they’re 53-0 (including postseason) when going +3 in turnovers. Looking at the entire NFL, since 2001 teams that go minus 3 in the takeaway giveaway ratio in a game are 54-538-1 … a winning percentage of .092.

3. When the Rams and Patriots clashed at Foxboro on Nov. 18 of the 2001 regular season, the Rams barely escaped with a 24-17 win despite out-gaining the Patriots 482 yards to 230.  Here’s one of the big reasons why the Rams held on: each team turned the ball over three times in that one. From 1999 through 2001, when the “Greatest Show” Rams did no worse than finish even in a game’s turnover margin, their record (postseason included) was 12-1. And when the 1999-2001 Rams had a turnover differential of minus 3 or worse in a game, they went 1-8.  And that lone victory in the 1-8, a 41-36 victory in the 2000 season opener, was struck against a Denver defense that ranked 24th overall that season in yards allowed 31st against the pass.

More on this as we lurch toward Sunday.

Thanks for reading …

-Bernie