Hello again, Sandlot fans. It's been a long time. The day job devoured all of my time since last year's football season, but the job situation changed this summer, and I am rededicating myself to posting about the sports we all care about on a more regular basis. If this is your first time visiting, welcome! For readers both old and new, you can expect honest opinions from a fan's point of view about what's going on in Missouri and midwest professional and college sports. Just to give you a sample and to wade back into the waters, I'm offering short takes on a variety of topics to give you an idea of what to expect in the future.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Why is the offense underachieving and inconsistent? What effect will the Ludwick-for-Westbrook trade have on team chemistry and performance? Can the Cardinals pull away from the Reds, or will the race go down to the wire? We'll talk about these issues and more, including the future of Albert Pujols.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
The $78 million question is simply, "Is Sam Bradford worth that much money?" The quick answer is, "Not until he proves that he's worth it." This team is not going back to the Superbowl any time soon, but in terms of fan priorities, I'll list a few: 1) More competitive in games, even when they lose; 2) Bradford shows potential, makes some great throws, gives fans hope; 3) Defense gets tougher, harder, more physical, more punishing, even when they lose; 4) Coaching staff makes smarter game plans and game day decisions. Even if they only win five or six games, if these things can happen, they'll at least be worth watching.
Last year was a "pass" year, with the loss of significant talent and Blake Gabbert's first year as the starting QB. No more excuses this year, but even bigger challenges ahead with back-to-back games against Oklahoma at home and then on the road against Nebraska. Until we beat the big boys, we're nothing more than a second-tier program, and that's just not good enough for a program of this size. Key issue: defense, which gave up way too many points last year.
Yes, of course Brett Favre is coming back, but the odds of him having the kind of season he had last year are unlikely. The window of opportunity is far slimmer this year than last, and with a labor lockout stoppage likely for next season, this may be the last chance for Purple Reign this decade. Key goal: win home field advantage for entire NFC playoffs.
I'll be tackling these topics and many more in the days and weeks ahead. If you're a Facebook friend, I'll update new posts there, or you can subscribe to free RSS feeds and notices. However you get here, I hope you have a good time!