Five topics from columnist Ben Frederickson that St. Louis sports fans should be discussing:
1. Keith Hernandez worthy of Cards HOF
One quick thought on the Cardinals Hall of Fame now that this year's nominees are out.
Keith Hernandez should be in.
He shared National League MVP honors with Hall of Famer Willie Stargell in 1979. He helped the Cardinals win a World Series in 1982. Six of his 11 Gold Glove seasons and two of his five All-Star appearances came with the Cardinals.
Between 1976 and 1982, Hernandez averaged .302 with a .391 on-base percentage and a .453 slugging percentage. That’s an OPS of .844, which ranked 15th among the 90 MLB hitters who had more than 3,000 at-bats during those seven seasons. There are only two first baseman ahead of Hernandez on that list. One is Cecil Cooper at 14th, with an OPS of .848. The other is Hall of Famer Rod Carew at 10th, with an OPS of .856.
Here are the Wins Above Replacement totals (Baseball Reference version) for each new Cardinals Hall of Fame candidate during his time in St. Louis:
Keith Hernandez: 10 years, 34.5 WAR
Steve Carlton: 7 years, 20.9 WAR
John Tudor: 5 years, 19.9 WAR
Tom Herr: 10 years, 19.1 WAR
Matt Morris: 8 years, 18.7 WAR
Edgar Renteria: 6 years, 16.6 WAR
Lee Smith: 4 years, 4.4 WAR
I don't get too fired up about this stuff. It's a fan vote, so fans can vote as they please. But Hernandez should be in.
2. Drinkwitz gets it
We don’t yet know if Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz will sink or swim in the SEC.
We don’t yet know if defensive back signee Ennis Rakestraw will be a shutdown Tigers corner for seasons to come.
What we do know is Drinkwitz’s landing of Rakestraw on Wednesday, and the celebration that occurred after the news became official, shows the Tigers coach understands how to recruit and make ripples in 2020.
Drinkwitz and his staff fought off both Alabama and the home-state program Texas for Rakestraw. Those offers from Alabama and Texas were legit, not some of the phony ones that pop up from time to time. The good news got better when Drinkwitz’s high-energy celebration of the commitment went college football viral.
Some Mizzou fans wanted a splash like Lane Kiffin.
But on Wednesday, it was Kiffin who was talking about watching the video of Drinkwitz during Kiffin’s interview on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum show.
“I just thought that was awesome, to see his excitement there about getting a kid,” Kiffin told Finebaum on air.
Was Drinkwitz’s celebration over the top? Sure. It was also fun. It got people talking. It’s the kind of stuff that catches the attention of coaches, parents and most importantly recruits, who tend to spend a whole lot of time on social media. It associates Mizzou with positive energy, something Mizzou football and its fans desperately need.
3. Duquesne downer
Travis Ford’s Billikens basketball team’s second-biggest stumble of this season came when they lost an overtime heart-breaker at home to Dayton.
Their biggest fumble?
Letting the air out of the Dayton rematch before it arrived.
SLU had for the most part taken care of its business after the Dayton loss. It could not snap out of the hangover in time to beat Davidson, but did soon after, beating Fordham and La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. One home win against Duquesne was all that was needed to head to No. 6 Dayton on Saturday with NCAA Tournament implications on the line. And the Billikens got nipped by Duquesne. Again. This time at home.
This one really dings the Billikens in the NCAA Tournament department. Upcoming games against Dayton, VCU and Rhode Island are even bigger now. It’s starting to look like SLU is going to have to rely on another A-10 Tournament run.
4. Should Martin shake up his staff?
I thought Mizzou basketball had something going when it ran Florida out of the gym on Jan. 11. Wrong. The Tigers have since lost six of their next seven.
It seems safe to start zooming out and wondering about the changes that need to take place before next season. No, Cuonzo Martin is not getting fired. (Check his contract.) What he must do is improve the talent on the roster, improve the development of the talent already on the roster, and improve the offense. No duh, right?
One way to do this could be to improve his staff. Martin, a defense-first head coach, made assistant hires with offense in mind. Chris Hollender and Cornell Mann were specifically hired to help run offense. The offense isn’t working. In addition, the contract of assistant Michael Porter Sr., is set to expire after this season, which could free up more cash for a staff refresh. Since Mizzou roasted Florida, here’s how bad the offense has been in the following seven games. The ranks are out of 350 Division I college basketball teams.
58.7 points per game (335th)
.330 field goal percentage (349th)
.269 3-point percentage (326th)
5. Bruce says The Wizard gets an assist
I had the pleasure of catching up with new Pro Football Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce again Wednesday night, during an interview on the Big Sports Show at KTRS.
My final question to Bruce was about his relationship with St. Louis, and why he took to it the way he did after arriving from Los Angeles in 1995.
He learned from The Wizard.
“I was fortunate to meet Ozzie Smith pretty early when I got to St. Louis,” Bruce said. “I really saw how St. Louis really embraced him. I knew it was a baseball town, but he kind of stuck out more than other great baseball players who had been here. Just about everywhere he went, people were taking pictures with him. They wanted a piece of him. He was Mr. St. Louis. Him and Jack Buck. I wanted the same thing. I thought it was a perfect opportunity.
"I didn’t think I was in St. Louis by mistake. I think I was there for a reason. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t been told to dissociate myself with the city at all. So, the relationship has grown. It’s getting stronger. I expect it to grow even more.”
You can listen to the full interview here.
5-A: One request for Warner flick
Speaking of ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ Hall of Famers, the Kurt Warner story is finally going to appear on the silver screen. Warner has announced some details about the upcoming film, ‘American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story.’ The LionsGate project is scheduled to be in theaters later this year.