With the boys of summer back for spring, here are five things I believe:
1. The MLS4THELOU group is definitely dedicated to our town. Carolyn Kindle Betz and Jim Kavanaugh could invest in safer and more lucrative things, but they didn’t. They care about our community. Granted, they have plenty of money, but they didn’t have to put themselves through this lengthy process of fighting and scratching so our town can have a soccer team. The MLS likely has it down to a decision between Sacramento and St. Louis. We have local owners who are lifelong residents of the city. Sacramento has a billionaire who has no ties to it. I’d be surprised if the Taylors and the Kavanaughs lose. They rarely do.
2. You’re dead wrong if you don’t think this is a pretty good basketball area. Almost every high school basketball game that I attended in the playoffs was packed with fans. Basketball will never touch Cardinals baseball or Blues hockey locally – but it is growing. We continue to churn out special talents like Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal, who are having outstanding NBA careers, and look around at the rosters of Mizzou and SLU – they’re loaded with area kids. Wait till you see the impact next season that Yuri Collins, from St. Mary’s, will have for the Billikens and Mario McKinney, from Vashon, will have for the Tigers.
3. Every national baseball scribe I talk to, from Jayson Stark to Tim Kurkjian, is picking the Cardinals to win the division. Much of it comes down to two words: Paul Goldschmidt. It’s been a long time since the Cardinals have had a “face of the franchise” player. I imagine Mike Matheny has got to be thinking, “Why didn’t I get one of those?” Matheny never did. Albert left the season Matheny arrived. Goldschmidt has got to unpack and stay awhile. It seems like a perfect marriage – the Cardinals really need Goldschmidt, and why wouldn’t a player want to play in a town where he’ll be adored? Also, free agency hasn’t worked out so great for some players lately. However, there’s one big issue here: Goldschmidt signed a bad contract with the Diamondbacks. For his production, he’s been vastly underpaid. Maybe he wants to find out if there’s an incredible free agent deal out there. Or maybe he’ll just fall in love with St. Louis.
4. I think the Blues coaching situation in this offseason could be fascinating. If Craig Berube has some success in the postseason, it’s game, set and match: It’s his job. He’s earned it with his making-players-accountable stance. He’s not Ken Hitchcock when it comes to conducting a postgame press conference, but who cares? However, if the Blues were to lose in the first round and they heard Joel Quenneville wanted to be their head coach, the organization would have to listen. Financially, though, they’re much better off staying with Berube. And he may be the better coach anyway for this franchise at this time.
5. Mike Shildt is definitely the man for this Cardinals job at this point in time. He has a connection with almost each and every player. It’s like he either managed the player somewhere in the minor leagues or he developed a good relationship with him while being a coach with the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright, who played for a Hall of Famer named Tony La Russa and also for a close friend named Mike Matheny, has called Shildt the best communicator he’s played under. I think Shildt has the least ego of any coach or manager I’ve been around in sports. Humility is a really good trait to have in life – and it’s a really rare one to have in sports.
Frank Cusumano is a 17-time Emmy Award-winner on KSDK-TV; he also hosts The Pressbox on The All New 590 the Fan from 10 a.m. to noon each weekday and contributes to The Dave Glover Show on FM NewsTalk 97.1. Follow him on Twitter @frank_cusumano.