Hello metro-east sports fans.
You might have noticed, after the BND redesign last fall, we began publishing “The Watch List” column each Monday to highlight the biggest events for the coming week in local sports. Well, we’re not doing that anymore.
Keeping that column fresh and varied was difficult — especially between seasons — and our online audience was apparently none-too interested. With the notebooks and features we regularly provide, it also sometimes seemed redundant.
So we’re trying a new approach.
Beginning today, you’ll find the sports editor’s ugly mug in the space, along with brief notes and observations from the wider world of sports. Some “Watch List” elements will remain with the addition of his unsolicited opinions, some pats on the back, probably a few jabs when appropriate, and other loose ends.
I am also a notorious baseball history nerd, too, so you’re bound to get a lesson here and there, too.
The column will be best once it turns interactive at which point it will be driven by what our readers want to see or to know more about.
Want to know what I think about a particular topic? Want to share your own observations? Just reach out. Go to the column’s comment section at www.bnd.com, or include your comments on our social media posts.
You also can call me (239-2540), email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me a postcard if you’d rather (BND Sports, PO Box 437, Belleville, IL 62222).
Sports chat should be fun and entertaining, never insulting, so please keep it kind and respectful. I won’t argue and I won’t watch others tear each other down, either.
Other than that, please keep watching and keep commenting!
MLB’S Top 100
ESPN’s Keith Law Friday released his annual list of top prospects for 2016. Three St. Louis Cardinals farmhands made the list, including right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes, who ranks No. 8 overall. He’s the third highest rated pitcher behind only Dodgers’ lefty Julio Urias and Washington’s Lucas Giolito.
Reyes, 21, hasn’t pitched beyond the double-A Texas League yet and will start the coming seasons on a 50-game suspension slapped on him after he tested positive for marijuana. That knocked him down a few pegs on other prospect lists and is sure to stunt his development to some extent.
Yet, scouts like his fastball (94-97 mph), his sharp and late-breaking curveball and a big league changeup.
Gonzalez made his major league debut in 2014, but lost much of last season to shoulder fatigue and inconsistency. Flaherty, a 6-foot-4 right hander, was 9-3 with a 2.84 ERA at single-A Peoria, his first full season in professional baseball.
Overall, the Cardinals’ minor league system slipped to No. 15 overall after being rated tops two off-seasons ago. That stands to reason, however, given the glut of players recently promoted to the big leagues. Their chief divisional rivals, the Cubs and Pirates, rank No. 4 and No. 6 respectively.
You probably remember Rob Kaminsky, the former No. 1 draft pick the Cardinals traded to Cleveland for Brandon Moss. Kaminsky, a pitcher, made the second half of Law’s Top 100 list last season, but fell off altogether this year.
He wasn’t ranked by Baseball America either.
Cam Clams Up
I’m not a big fan of the touchdown celebrations, but have always liked Cam Newton none-the-less. The big smiles and max effort leave me the impression that the guy appreciates how privileged he is be able to play for pay and that he’s determined to enjoy the experience while it lasts.
I can’t look past his walking out on his post-Super Bowl press conference, though.
Professional sports, at the end end of the day, is nothing more than an entertainment industry and anything the players have is earned through the fans’ investment in tickets, concessions, merchandise and emotion (you hear that, Stan Kroenke?).
At a bare minimum, players owe fans honest and direct answers in the wake of both their best and worst of moments. This goes triple for Newton who is a face-of-the franchise type player, the leader in the huddle, and has brashly made over-the-top celebrations part of his trademark.
And this means, like it or not, talking to the media. No excuses, Cam.
Apologies for the tardiness in this announcement, but congratulations are due former O’Fallon baseball coach Art Voellinger, who last month received a Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association.
Voellinger coached 30 years at O’Fallon, retiring in 2002 with more wins than any other varsity coach.
The Watch List
▪ The post season begins for Class 3A and 4A high school girls with regional tournaments this week. Local contenders for a deep run include third-ranked Edwardsville (24-1) in Class 4A, No. 7 Highland (23-4) in 3A, and Triad, No. 9 in 3A.
▪ In girls 2A, No. 2 ranked Central and unranked Mater Dei each adavnce to the Campbell Hill Sectional. In 1A, Lebanon picked up some votes on the state poll as it advances to the White Hall (North Greene) Sectional.
▪ Althoff senior Jarrid Braunagel and his twin brothers Danny and Zac made a clean sweep of sectional wrestling championships and have their sites set on state championships this weekend (watch for Dean Criddle’s feature on the wrestling Braunagel Brothers in the BND this week). Jarrid has placed third each of the last three years. Also from Althoff, undefeated Chase Bittle will be headed north to Champaign, as will Max Kristoff. More than 30 other metro-east wrestlers also will vie for a state crown including Belleville West’s Nick Foster and Garrett Bass, East’s Dewayne Hill, and the Triad quartet of Cole Witzig, Merik Fulton and John McKinney.
Never Gets Old
This has been floating around social media for years, but I never get tired of seeing it. Need a pick-me-up today? Click here and enjoy.