Good day to you.
Here are your Daily Bernie Bits for Friday, June 13:
1. It's been enjoyable to listen to the broadcast team of Dan McLaughlin and Tim McCarver on Fox Sports Midwest. McCarver is doing a limited number of games for FS Midwest this season; I hope he's willing (and invited) to do many more in 2015.
Enthusiasm / criticism for broadcasters is wholly subjective; I'm not saying anyone has to agree with my opinion. Some would prefer a different combination; I get that. I'm just speaking for myself here ... and to me McLaughlin-McCarver is by far the best of the several play-by-play and analyst combinations that FS Midwest uses during the season. The combo of McLaughlin and Rick Horton is often very good and always solid. I'm sorry, and it's nothing personal, but having Horton do play-by-play with Al Hrabosky alongside as analyst just doesn't work.
All of that said: Many of you would rank me 20th on the list of the best 20 sportswriters and sports media in St. Louis, and you wouldn't be wrong, because that's your personal opinion and you are entitled to it. (And you undoubtedly have good reasons for thinking that way.) I don't claim to be better at my job than any of the Cards' broadcasters are at theirs.
But I am speaking as a fan here ...
And as a fan, I know what I like.
And I also know what I don't like.
2. This factor won't be in play this weekend, because the Washington Nationals have a winning record. But the Cardinals continue to underperform against teams that are .500 or worse. They're record against .500 or losing teams is 16-12. Last season the Cards were 61-33 against teams .500 or worse.
3. The San Antonio Spurs are one victory from winning their fifth NBA championship under coach Gregg Popovich. And since Popovich became the team's coach in 1997, the Spurs lead the NBA in regular-season wins and postseason wins. Offensively the Spurs played about as well as an NBA team possibly can in destroying Miami in Games 3 and 4 ... and of course most of the conversation is about LeBron James. His legacy, his tummy ache, his inadequate teammates. It's remarkable, really. Fifty years from now, sports historians will look back on this and conclude two things: (A) the Spurs were one of the greatest and enduring successes in the history of American professional team sports; (B) the U.S. sports media and sporting public missed it, because we were too obsessed with crass celebrity, pitiful attention-seekers, shameless self-promoters, controversial personalities, flavors of the month, and flash.
The Spurs weren't meant for the self-absorbed age of "hot takes" on sports-talk, various Kardashians, selfies on Instagram, Twitter and ESPN's celebrity-manufacturing assembly line plant in Bristol. Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard are just too damned quiet and professional to make it big in the U.S. culture.
4. By the way ... I think it's funny when people start to talk about LeBron and bring up Michael Jordan and start comparing their championship rings and all of that ... as if this is some sort of unofficial competition, with James challenging the retired Jordan's status as the best player in modern NBA history. (That in itself is debatable, but that's another beef for another time.) These people bring out the number of Jordan titles (six) and point to LeBron having only two ... I'm sorry, but is this supposed to be some sort of revelation? An amazing discovery? Am I supposed to take a stand and start screaming my "hot take," or something?
This is irrelevant to me, because I never understood why anyone felt compelled to haul out the Jordan comparisons as soon as , well, you know, a terrific NBA player wins a league championship or two. I've never thought there was anything to compare here, so the premise -- LeBron vs. Jordan -- is bogus. I can't decide what's more annoying: (A) the people who insist on nominating LeBron for membership in Jordan's class; (B) the people who take the bait and argue about it; (C) the people who point to the difference in number of championships won by each player and use it to condemn James ... as if NOT being Michael Jordan somehow makes you a fraud or a failure. James is a helluva player, the best in the league today. But there's only one Jordan. One. Accept that. Comparisons aren't necessary.
5. If the in-progress season performances hold form, scoring runs figures to be a real challenge for both offenses when the Nationals and Cardinals play their three games at Busch Stadium this weekend.
There's no script for these things, but the Cards and Nationals excel at preventing runs. And they're awfully stingy in denying home runs.
The Cardinals rank third in the majors in run prevention, allowing 3.53 runs per game. The Nationals are right there, ranking fourth at 3.54 runs allowed per game.
And these are the two best pitching staffs in baseball at avoiding homers. The Cardinals have given up 0.64 homers per game, the lowest rate in the majors. The Nationals are second, with an average of 0.65 homers permitted.
This series may resemble something from 1968.
Have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading...