The new year is here, 2018. And with the turning of the calendar means everyone turning the page on 2017 and setting new goals for the next 365 days. For me one of my goals this year is to do a “Writing Wednesday”. This means my goal is to write something, whether it is a long story, short story, or just put some thoughts down; each Wednesday. So let’s get the year started with some sportcentric fan goals I would like to see for 2018.
- Michael Porter Junior in a University of Missouri basketball uniform
I was lucky enough to be one of the 8,000 or so fans at the Mizzou Black and Gold scrimmage this past homecoming weekend. Which means I got to see more of MPJ than the majority of Tiger basketball fans because unfortunately he has not played since the first two minutes this season. While watching Mizzou basketball this season has been a much more enjoyable experience than the recent years (they should make the NCAA Tournament) it is not the same excitement that was anticipated when he announced he was coming home, and bringing a much heralded group of players with him. There have been many rumors about when/if MPJ is coming back. I am not holding my breath because I know that he has his professional career to think about rather than coming back early and risking injury again. However, the way he speaks (and posts on social media) about his love for Mizzou makes me think he will be on the court in a Tigers uniform before the year is over. Could he run out on the court when the Tigers take the floor in two months at the SEC Tournament in St. Louis, Mo.? That is a day I can’t wait for.
- A healthy St. Louis Blues team
The Blues got off to a fantastic start this season. Even after losing Robby Fabbri in the pre-season and going without Alexander Steen, Jay Bouwmeester, Patrick Berglund and others the Blues were fighting for best record in the league early on. However the injury bug has stricken the Blues and done so with a vengeance. They are a deep team but when top talent goes missing (Jaden Schwartz) it is hard to keep pace. The Blues, not surprisingly, are going through a tough stretch right now. Their once potent offense has gone cold. The question remains can they hang on and push through the slog of the cold months until they get healthy. Spring is a time for rebirth and if the Blues can manage to stay near the top until the spring months come, they should get a rebirth of sorts when Schwartz returns; just in time for the playoffs.
- Cardinals prospects turning into real stars
Since the DeWitt ownership the Cardinals have been a competitive organization. But after missing the playoffs in each of the last two years, and a disappointing showing in 2015 after a 100 win season, the Cardinals are feeling some local pressure. Do you know what would help? If some of their highly prized prospects live up to the billing. The Cardinals have developed one of the top farm systems in MLB and are stock full of highly talented players. But that is nothing new to the Cardinals in recent years. However when one looks at the past, where the Cardinals have suffered, is in the lack of true elite development from their prospects. Looking back all the way to J.D. Drew, who was an above average outfielder, to Rick Ankiel, who fought inner demons, to Oscar Taveras, an untimely death; the Cardinals top prospects have been serviceable if not good; but failed to become true impact players. Even Carlos Martinez, while the Cardinals ace, and one of the best arms in baseball, has yet to truly pitch to his potential. It seemed like Alex Reyes could be that generational talent that teams covet, only to see him blow out his arm last spring. Can he return to form? Can Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, or Luke Weaver become top of the rotation men that make a difference? Will Carson Kelly forever be stuck behind Yadier Molina? Will Harrison Bader or Tyler O’Neill live up to their potential and be a consistent threat with the bat? The reason the Cardinals have not been as successful lately as they would like is because of a lack of impact players. Instead of boasting a deep and talented farm system the Cardinals need those prospects to live up to their potential and become stars.
I would like some patience from fans. From Cardinal fans calling for wholesale changes after a three game losing streak, to Blues fans questioning the talent of Vladimir Tarasenko if he goes in a scoring slump. Fans need to be patient. This of course stems mostly from the outcry of Mizzou football fans this past fall. While yes the Tigers looked horrible at the start of the season and yes they beat some down teams during their six game winning streak at the end, the fact remains it was only Barry Odom’s second season. Too much today, especially in college football, results are expected immediately. And while I was frustrated by what I saw on the field at times last season I think every coach needs a full four years, one recruiting class, to go through the school before they can be truly evaluated. With their best offensive and best defensive players coming back next year, and Odom in his third season, 2018 should give a better picture of the state of the program.
- A Big Man For SLU
Much like the Mizzou basketball team, SLU has been better this year than last. Although that certainly wasn’t too hard to do. SLU did not get the top end talent to campus like the Tigers but the did bring in some good recruits. They will take longer to develop but look at freshman Jordan Goodwin, averaging 11.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while also leading the team in steals. He is a freshman, running the point while still getting acclimated to the college game. Imagine him with a full year of offseason training and more experience. Now think ahead to this fall when Carte’Are Gordon joins him at SLU. Gordon IS the top end talent recruit, a 6’9″ versatile big man who starred for the US Under-17 basketball team. Gordon will give SLU something they desperately need. An inside force with true inside size and should team up with Goodwin to continue SLU’s rise.
- A New SuperBowl
This may be my inner dispise of the Patriots and disdain for the Steelers, but can we please get some new teams in the SuperBowl. I am tired of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I don’t like Ben Roethlisberger’s aurora. Thankfully the Seattle Seahawks are out. So how about we get us some surprise teams in there with “Can You Believe This QB Is a SuperBowl Winner” like Case Keenum, Nick Foles (or whatever QB they use by then), Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor; and yes those are all starting playoff quarterbacks. Or even seeing some “old fogies” like Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, or Drew Brees hoist the trophy. Please, please, please…anyone but Brady.