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June 2012





26 B A S E B A L L


The Cards Give Jay a Chance by Rob Rains


30 B A SE B A L L

Frank Cusumano’s Angry Sports Thoughts


Kantrovitz and Vuch Build Up the Birds by Rob Rains


34 B O O K E X C E R PT


The Mizzou Fan’s Survival Guide To The SEC

Matheny Has All the Tools Showcase Shows Off Top Prep Talent by Jim Powers

with Nick Dudas, CSCS

42 ASK D R. R ICK with Dr. Rick Lehman

44 SCOT T R OVAK’S CLOSING S H O T 46 T HE F INAL OUT St. Louis Welcomes Local Blues Ownership by Andy Strickland



grand slam sports

LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER It bothers me that so many people in our area seem to really dislike the NBA. Some go as far as to hate it. Why? I have heard some people complain that the games are boring until the fourth quarter in the regular season. It’s a valid point, but can’t baseball, at times, also be boring for nine innings? I have heard some complain that the league is full of “thugs” and that there’s too much dirty play. There is some validity to this, but is it any more so than in hockey or in football? I have heard some say that it is because the regular season is too long and it is too easy to make the postseason. I agree here, as well, but hockey has the same problem, and don’t even get me started on baseball, especially now as we continue to make it easier to make the playoffs. I have heard some say it’s because the same teams make it every year — the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Again, some validity here, but if you pay attention, you will see rising teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies, amongst others. It can’t be from the lack of superstars, whether it be the old ones like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Tony Parker, the next wave of stars like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade or new stars like Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose. The NBA is littered with superstar players. Some suggest that it is a racial thing, and while I am sure this is the case for some people, I don’t think the majority of people feel that way. These same people root for other races in other sports, so I am not buying this one. It definitely isn’t because of lack of exposure; the NBA TV contract is a very good one, and you can always find games on. It isn’t because of the marketing; David Stern and his crew have always done a terrific job of marketing in the United States and beyond. So, what is it? Is it as simple as we don’t have a team here so “out of sight out of mind?” Is it that not enough players from the area (those who grew up here or those who played college basketball locally) play in the league? I don’t have the answer, but I sure wish it wasn’t taboo to talk about and be a fan of the NBA in St. Louis, because that really bothers me. Enjoy!

Publisher Grand Slam Sports, LLC Executive Management David Greene James Oelklaus Katy Pavelonis Creative Director Jennifer Burkemper Director of Photography Scott Rovak *All photos by Scott Rovak unless otherwise noted.

Associate Editor Audrey Hanes Contributing Writers Josh Bacott Frank Cusumano Nick Dudas, CSCS Jim Powers Rob Rains Jay Randolph Jay Randolph Jr. Matt Sebek Andy Strickland Marketing Specialists Michael Elbe Michael Calvin Doug Lehman Dave Rapp

David Greene

8045 Big Bend Boulevard, Suite 200 St. Louis, MO 63119 Tel. 314.962.0590 Fax. 314.962.7576 For a mail subscription of St. Louis Sports Magazine, contact 8


grand slam sports

scott’s Shot


s far as pitching shots go, this is a pretty normal image; it’s who is throwing this pitch that makes this photo so special. Because I cover so many Cardinals games, it has been pretty easy for me to see just how competitive Adam Wainwright is. After he had season-ending surgery while I was at Spring Training last year, the big question on everyone’s mind was how soon will he would be able to pitch again. It was definitely a thrill to photograph him again on the mound where he belongs. Wainwright was a great teammate while on the bench during the World Series, but we knew he couldn’t wait to get out there and help contribute. In this photo, you can even see the ligament of his arm as he pitches. Scott Rovak, Director of Photography, St. Louis Sports Magazine



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j u n e 2012


Frank Cusumano’s

Angry Sports Thoughts


any of you might remember Peter Finch from a movie called Network. His character, Howard Beale, was a news anchor; at one point in the movie, he yelled, “I am as mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore.” With that, I give you my angry sports thoughts. 1. The NBA makes me want to scream. What happened to the league? Udonis Haslem assaulted Tyler Hansbrough and played the rest of the game? Why did Hansbrough bloody up Dwayne Wade before that? The league ought to completely change the way things are done. Don’t suspend a player for a game; suspend him for a month. Put it completely out of the players’ minds. Make sure they realize that if they do something thuggish like what Haslem did, they won’t play again for a long time. 2. Stan Kroenke and his wife are worth a combined $7.1 billion dollars. He has an idea to improve the Edward Jones Dome that will cost around $700 million. The city and state are broke, so if he wants to make these magnificent improvements, do it. I have seen the plans, and they are wonderful, but how much sense does it make for a billionaire to ask a city with no money to pay for improvements to his stadium? Does Frank Bommarito ask the city to build a new car dealership for him to make money? No. Stan, you should pay for it. 3. One of the most recent disturbing national news stories is that of Desmond Hatchett. He has fathered 30 children with 11 different women. Where will the father figure be in their lives? Who is financially going to take care of those kids? Unfortunately, there are far too many of these stories in sports. Here are some winners: • Willie Anderson  – former NBA player, nine children by seven women • Jason Caffey – former NBA player, 10 children by eight women • Evander Holyfield – former boxer, 11 children with nine out of wedlock • Travis Henry – former NFL player, 11 kids by 10 women • Calvin Murphy – NBA Hall of Famer, 14 kids by nine women If you want to know what is wrong with the country, begin with what happens at home. 4. There are too many freaking tattoos in the world. I don’t want to judge, I just don’t understand it. Maybe I am too old. There are so many college athletes who already have their bodies smothered in tattoos. How are they going to feel about them when they are 50 years old? Have you seen Dennis Rodman lately? He is 51 years old and has more tattoos than rebounds. Megan Fox is quite possibly the most attractive female in the world, but she has ruined her body with all of those tattoos. It’s like throwing a bucket of paint on a brand new Bentley. 5. Memorial Day weekend is dominated by auto racing. There is the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. The people involved in auto racing are some of the finest in sports, but it’s not my cup of tea. There have been 56 deaths at Indy and 24 apiece at Daytona and Lemans. In most sports, you make a mistake and it costs you a basket, a goal or a touchdown. In auto racing, it could be a life. Just ask the families of Dan Wheldon, Dale Earnhardt and Ayrton Senna. I don’t get it, but judging by the attendance, I might be the clueless one. 6. I guess Mizzou had to make the move to the SEC. Oklahoma and Texas were like cheating spouses. It will be cool to see Alabama come to Columbia. However, like with the Rams, my question is the money. One of today’s biggest scams is the cost of college tuition. How is a family with four kids supposed to pay off four tuitions at $30,000 to $40,000 a year? Mizzou is making this move, which means they have to raise money like it’s a telethon. It’s an arms race with the other SEC schools. Who has the best facilities? That’s how you attract recruits; that’s just the way it is. Still, I would prefer lower tuitions over newer weight rooms. Can somebody please tell me how a 22-year-old kid in a limited job market is supposed to pay off $100,000 in student loans? Now, the reason I got into sports instead of news was because I wanted to chronicle mankind’s achievements rather than look at its shortcomings. So, on a more positive note:

Frank Cusumano is a sportscaster for KSDK and can be heard weekdays (10am-1pm) on 590 The Fan KFNS



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1. Has any baseball organization ever had such a great run of back-to-back general managers like the Cardinals have? I said for years that Walt Jocketty was the best sports executive we have ever had in St. Louis. (George Boone did not make the list). Jocketty’s successor, John Mozeliak, might end up giving him a run for his money. 2. As bad as the NBA can be at times, I marvel at Kevin Durant. He’s 23 and has three scoring titles. I used to think he was as good as Bob McAdoo, but he’s better. He’s longer, he has more range and he can beat you off the dribble more. Plus, he’s apparently a good citizen, too. 3. Father’s day is fast approaching. I wish I could be more like my dad when it comes to sports. He never said anything negative to me. After a good game, he would relive each made basket or assist. After a bad game, he would ask if I needed help on that English composition paper. 4. Every baseball player in the world should watch Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran. These guys are so polite. They are so appreciative of their situation in life. They are good to the fans, and they realize the media is their way to promote their profession. 5. I am not a huge Olympics fan; however, I greatly admire Lolo Jones. She will be the story of the summer. How many different story angles can there be about one athlete? There’s the homeless angle, where she literally had to steal TV dinners as a kid. There’s the ex-convict for a father angle. There’s the heartbreak of stumbling over the hurdle that cost her the gold in the last Olympics. Oh, and by the way, she’s drop dead gorgeous and a 29-year-old virgin who is saving herself for her husband. I can hear the John Tesh music now. 6. I am here to say I like Tony Banks; the former Rams quarterback who was second-guessed as much as any St. Louis athlete has ever been is alive and kicking. I am not going to say he was an outstanding quarterback. He wasn’t. However, Banks is a success in life. He has his own software company, he does television work for the Big Ten Network and he works football camps around the country. His message to kids is: “Don’t do what I did. Pay attention to all the details it takes in being a great quarterback.” Banks has regrets about how he handled the position. He shouldn’t in how he has handled his life. v

j u n e 2012


Old School vs. New School Jay Randolph

Q& A

Jay Randolph Jr.

Who will win the US Open? Sr.: Luke Donald. He can handle the challenges of the Olympic Club. Jr.: Matt Kuchar, who tied for 15th as an amateur in 1988 at Olympic Club. How much would someone have to pay you to streak the field at Busch? Sr.: Let’s face it,  my streaking days are over! Jr.: Pay the fine and pay me $72,000 — start raising the money now, please! What advice would you give to Tom Stillman? Sr.: Follow your heart — your passion for the game should carry you and your team to a high level of success. Jr.: Let the hockey people run the hockey operations and don’t forget the tremendous fan base. What would your interest level be in attending Wimbledon? Sr.: I’d love to return — my wife and daughter joined me there in the mid - ‘80s, and it is a special event. Jr.: Senior went 25 years ago; it would have been huge then. Right now, not much. I’d rather attend the U.S. Open. Bar Refaeli just topped the Maxim Hot 100 list. Agree or disagree? Sr.: I am not familiar with this restaurant. Jr.: Why not? Hard to imagine much hotter but, it’s so subjective. What would you do to spice up “American Idol” or do you think it’s done? Sr.: It’s run its course. It is done as far as I am concerned. Jr.: It is done for me. Too much commercialization, and Simon was a key. In your opinion, should Roger Clemens go to jail? Sr.: No. The trial is a waste of time and the taxpayers’ money. Jr.: I have not and won’t follow it. Not my call; it’s the courts’. What is the strangest thing you’ve had happen while you were on the air? Sr.: Back in the late - ‘70s, doing a Monday Night Baseball game for NBC, I interviewed everybody but the batboy during a two-and-a-half hour rain delay. Jr.: Be easy to say getting a foot in the face,  but it’s when the board operator said in my ear while on remote at Bellerive, “Dude, I just saw a plane fly into the World Trade Center.” Are sports leagues too protective or not protective enough of their officials? Sr.: Over the course of a season, the good and bad calls seem to average out. There is no way to make officials, players and fans all happy. Jr.: I think in general they do the best they can dealing with officials and, of course, their unions. Jay Randolph Sr. hosts the Randolph Report Wednesday, 6pm-7pm on 590 The Fan KFNS Jay Randolph Jr. can be heard on The One To Three Show and Fairways and Greens on 590 The Fan KFNS



grand slam sports

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k l a T e t Tailga The pujols jersey rebellion continues: Be f o re t he 20 1 2 season began, we h ad a n inkl i ng t hat t he St . Loui s C a rd i na l s ’ f a n b ase m i ght be a to u ch b it t er a b o ut t he way Al ber t P u j o l s l ef t f o r L os Angel es. O ur o n e tr u e ve hi c l e f or di spl ayi ng t he h u r t f e el i ng s was cl ear : f a n at t i re. A s we n ot e d i n Apr i l ’s “Ta i l ga t e,” p e r sonal i zed j er seys h ave b ec om e f ans’ bi l l boa rd f o r se l f -ex p res si on. We d i d not , however, a nt i ci pat e th e f l o o d of m odi f i ed Puj ol s je r sey s n ow t h at t he season h a s st a r t e d . I t appea r s as i f a co m p e t it ion h a s ex pl oded th ro u g hou t C a rdi na l s na t i on t o se e who c a n c o m e up wi t h t he mo st c rea t ive, degra di ng way t o re cy cl e a # 5 jer sey. Lucky f or us, we h ap p en t o h ave phot ographi c ev i d e nc e o f s o m e pa r t i ci pa nt s.



grand slam sports



First Draft: Rams dome renovation proposal


hen it was released to the public for review last month, it was safe to characterize the Rams’ counteroffer on the plans for the Edward Jones Dome upgrade as aggressive ... and slightly intriguing. But, the public only saw the polished version of their proposal. We got our hands on the first draft before some notable changes were made, and let’s just say that owner Stan Kroenke showed us a side we’ve never seen before when he personally drew up the initial plans.

Thoughts From a Message Board: g to head As rumblings that the Rams might be anglin Angeles fans out of St. Louis continue to grow, the few Los are hitting up who want to see their team come back home frequently the message boards and firing shots more than ever. ction to Some are remembering their childhood conne the franchise: an “I’ve still got my book bag that I used as Rams” on les Ange “Los has that kid l elementary schoo .’” Rams Louis ‘St. g sayin to used n it. I’ve never gotte St. Louis Some are calling on the negative reputation : years the has established over ? Shame “You think you deserve a team like the Rams crappy a but o ghett great a on you St. Louis. You make are chose you s color football town. Even the new team.” disrespectful enough to warrant losing your

1.) Future location of Stan Kroenke statue. 2.) Future location of current Stan Musial statue, upgraded to show Stan Kroenke as the batter. 3.) External LED boards set to feature Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Arsenal games, or Kroenke home videos when appropriate. 4.) Shows beginning and end of Kroenke family’s private buffet line to be set up on game days. 5.) Retractable roof large enough to accommodate Stan’s private helicopter should he choose to land on the field during a game, at which time the game will be delayed as needed. 6.) Private vault for Stan Kroenke’s wig collection. 7.) Private entrance for the Kroenke family labradoodle named Georgia.

ed And the true loonies are taking joy in the lopsid in lish estab to able financial deal the Rams have been teama if ed lopsid more St. Louis that could become even time: this friendly agreement is put in place les oh “If the Rams don’t come back to Los Ange l out shove uis well but to watch you people in St.Lo raped has that millions upon millions to keep a team it again do to t abou you financially once already and is is the best comedy in world.”

where we How does St. Louis respond? We hit them nces: think it might sting – with Albert Pujols refere do to Stan “LA boos Albert Pujols! — what will they Kroenke when he loses for 7 years in a row?”

j u n e 2012


k l a T e t Tailga


Cracking the Billy Goat Curse By Matt Sebek


ost days, Cardinals and Cubs fans engage in a sociable hostility that can easily reach a tipping point in the presence of one another. Earlier this month, five Cubs fans and a goat hiked more than 1,400 miles to St. Louis, where they were welcomed with open arms during the final stretch of their “Crack the Curse” walk. The diehards began their 2,000-mile trek to Chicago on Feb. 28 in Mesa, Ariz. Their goal is to raise money for cancer research and to break the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat.


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According to baseball lore, William Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, was asked to leave a World Series game in 1945 at Wrigley Field because his pet goat was bothering other fans. The Cubs haven’t been back to the World Series since, and many Chicago Cub fans blame Sianis and his livestock. Matt Gregory, 32, said the group is “attempting to crack two curses” at once: the curse of the infamous Billy Goat and “the curse of cancer.”

Gregory and his four friends have all been affected by cancer in some way. They all have seasonal occupations in Alaska, share an affinity for the Cubs and have always wanted to participate in a hike of epic proportions. “It just made sense,” he said. The group has been walking 20 to 25 miles a day and hopes to reach Wrigley Field in Chicago by the end of May. The goat, apply named Wrigley, was purchased from Craigslist a few days before the fleet left Arizona. The animal walks five to 10 miles a day and is pushed the rest of the way in an animal carriage draped with Cubs paraphernalia. Its first transportation vehicle, a red children’s wagon, broke after the first week of the voyage. Gregory claimed they began by carrying food for the animal but found that it preferred roadside greenery and good-behavior rewards in the form of Cheetos and banana chips. There is no plan for a major ceremony inside or outside Wrigley Field once the group reaches their destination, but Gregory insisted that the goat will not be sacrificed later in the season when the Cubs drop out of playoff contention. Nevertheless, the walk’s larger purpose is to raise funds for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which provided care to one of the walker’s mothers. As they entered St. Louis earlier this month, the group had raised more than $11,000. They hope to reach $100,000 by the end of the season.

Tai l of the Tape • • • • • • • • •

Nam e: W ri g l e y Age: 6 m o n t h s Height: 2 ’ 1 0 ” W eight : 7 5 l b s . Gr oup m e m b e r s b i t t e n : 2 F av or it e t re a t : C h e e t o s iPod ch a r g e rs e a t e n : 3 M iles wa l ke d : 5 - 7 p e r d a y Cost: $ 6 0 fro m C ra i g s l i s t

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j ujnuen2012 e 2012

21 21



Training With a Purpose

By Nick Dudas, CSCS


oing to the gym day after day without any improvements can take a toll on you both mentally

and physically, especially if you’re not reaching the goals you set for yourself. The workouts can become stale with the feeling of going through the motions. Everyone has been there, including me. Most individuals hit a plateau after just weeks of training and have no clue why the gains have subsided. This occurs because of a failure to change the program after your body has adapted to it. To keep from hitting a plateau, cycle your workouts every four to eight weeks.

The first thing that needs to be established is your main goal in the gym. Is it because you want to build endurance, gain muscle, get stronger or become a more powerful athlete? Most people believe that just showing up at the gym will get you to these goals, but that is absolutely untrue. There needs to be a plan at the beginning of the overall cycle, followed by planned out shorter cycles. The importance of these cycles is to keep improving and to avoid overtraining. Let’s say an athlete begins going to the gym to gain muscle, otherwise known as hypertrophy. For this particular goal, the importance lies in high volume for each body part trained (usually no more than two a day).When planning these types of workouts, try using a push-pull method. Start with a pushing movement such as bench press for 12 repetitions, followed immediately by a pulling movement such as a dumbbell row for 12 repetitions; called a superset. It is ideal to hit three different lifts per body part each day of supersets. No matter what your goal, try to avoid the pitfall of training just the “mirror muscles” (front of the body); it leads to a bad look and a less-than-optimal performance. After six weeks of hypertrophy, gear your routines towards strength. This makes sense because having more muscle has a positive correlation with becoming stronger. The difference between hypertrophy and strength is the relative amount of weight you lift and the number of repetitions done.You always want to push yourself to near failure to get around six to eight repetitions in this cycle. The same push-pull method can be used if you’re well conditioned in the weight room. If you find that lifting heavier weights taxes your body too much, you can focus on one lift at a time. One example for leg day would be supersetting a heavy squat, followed immediately by a hamstring curl. In this cycle, it is also important to take a little more time in between sets to let your energy recover. This will allow for maximal force output when going heavier in the gym. The next cycle to consider is a power phase. This cycle is especially important for athletes getting ready for competition or for anyone looking to change their routine to combat monotony. Training for power is moving near maximal weight at maximal speeds for two to five repetitions. This would be lifts such as the power clean, hang clean or snatch. In this cycle, it is important to focus on one lift at a time. Lifting for power can be very 22


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strenuous on the body, and proper form should be practiced before attempting heavy weight. If you are unfamiliar with the typical lifts in this phase, it is very wise to have a qualified professional teach them to you. In this cycle, one would want to also turn focus to sport-specific lifts and plyometrics, if applicable. Again, lift with a purpose that is specific to the needs of the sport. For example, athletes in sports such as basketball or volleyball may want to focus more on a hang clean (from the mid thigh) than a power clean from the floor. These athletes need to be explosive from near standing positions, so the hang clean makes more sense. The overall goal of cycling your routines is to keep getting results and avoid overtraining and plateaus. It is always important to have a preplanned strategy and train with a purpose. Properly changing your training cycle every four to eight weeks will keep the workouts fresh and keep you from hitting a wall. If you would like to learn more in depth about how to cycle your routines, visit and look under my blog, “Maximizing Potential Through Periodization.” v For more information on performance specific workouts, go to


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j u n e 2012


The Cards Gave Jay a Chance

by Rob Rains



grand slam sports


has been six years since the day Jon Jay was sitting in front of a computer watching the baseball draft, waiting for his name to be called so he could find out

where he would begin his career as a professional baseball player. A junior at the University of Miami and considered one of the top college outfielders available in the draft, Jay hoped he would not have to wait long. In fact, he couldn’t wait very long – at the time, his team was preparing for a game in the super regionals of the NCAA tournament, hoping for a shot at a trip back to the College World Series. But, before Jay could learn his professional fate, he had to get up from the computer and head to the field for practice. “I think one of the secretaries in the office called it out while we were stretching,” said Jay. “It was like, ‘Jay, Cardinals.’ That was it.” With those two words, Jay’s future was in place. Now, all he had to do was make his dreams of becoming a Major Leaguer come true.

Jay was not a “can’t miss” player, but every baseball draft is littered with can’t miss prospects who, for one reason or another, do miss — just as they are also filled with players who scouts did not think had a chance, guys picked in the 40th round or later and guys who are picked merely because a rookie league club needed a shortstop or an outfielder. Jay was ranked by Baseball America as the 30th best college prospect in the 2006 draft, but the listings immediately before and after his name in the magazine illustrate the difficulty of accurately ranking prospects. One spot ahead of him was current Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson from Florida State. One spot below him was Tim Lincecum, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Washington. Lincecum, of course, was the 10th overall pick in that draft and has won two Cy Young awards. Robinson, who competed against Jay in high school and college and was a teammate on Team U.S.A. in the summer of 2005, lasted until the fifth round; he was selected 156 picks after Lincecum by the Cardinals. Jay was the 74th overall choice in the 2006 draft, picked by the Cardinals as the third-to-last choice in the second round. Twenty picks earlier, they had used a pick obtained from the Giants as compensation for free agent pitcher Matt Morris on Brad Furnish, a left-handed pitcher from TCU. Furnish never made it past Double-A with the Cardinals and is back in the independent Atlantic League this summer. The pre-draft scouting profile on Jay from Baseball America shows why some teams were reluctant to select him higher in the draft. The draft report read, “In a weak college outfield crop, Jay was a secondteam preseason All-American after holding down the leadoff spot for Team USA in the summer of 2005. He’s a classic tweener outfielder who doesn’t profile as an everyday player on a championship club. He posted a .408 average as a sophomore at Miami and has a patient, mature approach to hitting, but his range is just average in center field and he



grand slam sports

doesn’t hit for power. He had 11 home runs in 503 career at-bats. His set-up and swing are unorthodox. He has a wide stance and pumps his hands as a trigger. He makes consistent contact when pitches are down in the zone and uses the whole field, but lacks leverage and loft. He’s a 50 runner on the 20 - 80 scale, although his speed plays up on the basepaths. He’s got good feel for the game, makes good reads and takes good routes in the outfield. His arm is accurate, but his throws lack carry.” There is one sentence that stands out in the middle of that report, which looks out of place now, six years after it was written: “Doesn’t profile as an everyday player on a championship club.” That can only mean that Jay must be wearing someone else’s World Championship ring on his right hand. Jay’s path to becoming the regular center fielder on last year’s championship Cardinals team was not an easy or direct road. He had to work hard at every level of the minor leagues to make an impression on his coaches and teammates. He had to overcome injuries that kept him out for much of the 2007 season. He arrived in St. Louis as a rookie in 2010 and found himself rotating among all three outfield positions. Colby Rasmus was the starter then in center field, and at the age of 24  —  which is actually a year younger than Jay  —  was expected to remain there for some time. A first-round pick in the 2005 draft, Rasmus had arrived with much more hype and expectations than Jay, who quietly minded his own business, did his job and waited for a chance.

In 105 games as a rookie, Jay hit .300. A trade that sent Ryan Ludwick to San Diego put him into right field for most of the final two months of the season, a great learning experience even if Jay did not play as well as he would have liked. He hit only .244 for the final two months of the season and struck out 32 times in 172 at-bats. Jay went to spring training in 2011 with a new teammate in the outfield, Lance Berkman, who signed as a free agent to play right field. That meant, of course, that Jay was looking at another year as a backup, waiting for another chance. He didn’t sulk; he accepted the challenge and tried to take advantage of the opportunities when they came. In the first half of the season, starting 49 games, he hit .304. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Jay, a debate was ongoing in the Cardinals’ front office  —  what to do with Rasmus, whose relationship with manager Tony La Russa had apparently reached the point where it could not be salvaged. The decision came on July 31; Rasmus was the centerpiece of a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. For the final two months of the season, as well as for the postseason, Jay was the Cardinals’ starting center fielder.

As the Cardinals surged in September, Jay started 25 games and hit .303. He did not hit well in the postseason, but Jay’s teammates took care of that. It was another first-time learning experience for Jay, who expects to be better when he gets another chance at October baseball, hopefully this year. Before a shoulder injury put him on the disabled list in May, the result of a collision with the wall in Busch Stadium, Jay was hitting .343 through his first 27 games of the season. Berkman is among those impressed by Jay’s performance and how far he has come in his career. “I think he’s a very good hitter,” said Berkman. “He’s probably one of the most underrated players — at least underrated young players  —  in the league. He’s pretty versatile because you can hit him at the top of the lineup and you can hit him at the back end. You don’t see that kind of versatility in a lot of guys. “The biggest challenge is just the consistency. To be a good hitter requires more than the physical skills; it requires a mental discipline that some people don’t even have. It takes time to develop, because you are asked to be at your best from a focus and concentration standpoint every single night. That takes a while to learn. Jon is one of those guys who has picked it up pretty quickly. You don’t see him waste any at-bats.” Rookie manager Mike Matheny also was impressed by Jay before his injury and expects him to come off the disabled list and become a factor for the Cardinals the rest of the season — and hopefully into the postseason. Matheny said Jay is like all of the other young Cardinals who experienced their first postseason last year; it made all of them better players. “At the end of last season, I think he got a little tired, not understanding the grind of this season,” said Matheny. “Some people go and talk about the minor league season and (how) it is (a) tough grind, but it’s different here even though you travel better, eat better, sleep better. Everything is a little better,

but it’s a big step up. “I think he’s a matured player. I think everybody on that 2011 team is an improved player from the experience, especially the young players. He’s one of them. Every time a team gets to the postseason, let alone do what that team did  ...   every one of those guys grew exponentially.” It was likely on a trip to somewhere, in the second half of the 2009 minor league season at Triple-A Memphis when the trio of Jay, Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig began to bond. They all dreamed the same dream about making it to the major leagues and becoming teammates together at the next level. At the time, it seemed far away, but as Jay and his friends know, dreams do have a way of coming true. “We all hoped we would be here, but a lot of stuff can happen,” said Descalso. “Guys can get traded, other things might not work out. For all of us to play together down there, win a championship, then all play together here and win a World Series — I don’t know who could have written a better script.” Craig, like Jay, is a product of the 2006 draft. He was selected in the eighth round out of the University of California. Descalso joined the organization a year later, a third-round choice from California-Davis. Once the trio became teammates at Memphis, their bond was quickly established. “You get close to guys in the minor leagues,” said Descalso. “You have a lot of time to hang out. It’s been a fun ride for us. We’re the same guys we were in Springfield and Memphis. We’ve been lucky.” Jay and Descalso actually became roommates in Memphis and continued to live together in St. Louis until this year, when they each got their own place. Descalso — still waiting as Jay did for his chance to become a regular  —  is not surprised by the success of his former roommate. “He’s doing the same thing this year that he’s always done,” he said. “Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always hit. It

doesn’t make any difference if it’s a lefty, righty, hard-thrower, soft-tosser. He puts together good at-bats.” Descalso was sorry about one aspect of no longer rooming with Jay: “He was neater than I was, I will give him credit for that, but he’s not a very good video game player.” Six years seems about right to evaluate the results of a baseball draft. Players have either made it, gotten close or moved on to other jobs. For the Cardinals, the 2006 draft turned out better than most. In a business where the vast majority of players selected never come close to the major leagues, eight of the Cardinals’ top 15 choices in 2006 have played in the majors. Those players represent players picked from the first round, such as pitcher Adam Ottavino, to the 12th round, such as David Carpenter, who was picked as a catcher but switched to pitching and is now a member of the Astros bullpen. Picking eight of 15 players who made it to the majors works out to a 53-percent success rate, which is even more impressive considering that Craig, pitcher P.J. Walters and Carpenter were all picked between the 256th and 376th overall picks in the draft. That year, all major league teams combined to take 44 players in the first round, including supplemental picks, and only 29 of them have made the majors. Players like Jay and Craig might not have had the success that some of those first-round choices have achieved — players like Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw or Lincecum — but the Cardinals aren’t complaining. The Cardinals gave Jay and the others exactly what they wanted  —  a chance. That is what the baseball draft is all about. v Rob Rains is the co-host of The Sports Zone from 1–3 p.m. Monday through Friday on SportsRadio 1380

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Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny talks with Farm Director John Vuch



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Kantrovitz and vuch build up the birds by Rob Rains

Cardinals Director of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz


lthough Dan Kantrovitz and John Vuch never got to realize their childhood dreams of playing for the Cardinals, today, the two St. Louis natives occupy roles that might be more important for the franchise than if they had ever put on a Cardinals uniform. Kantrovitz was hired in January as the Cardinals’ director of scouting, making him the point man for bringing new talent into the organization through the annual June draft and with international amateur signings. After Kantrovitz and his scouts sign a player, he turns them over to Vuch, who is now in his second full year as the organization’s farm director. Vuch is in charge of the 250 players in the Cardinals’ minor league system, along with the managers, coaches and roving instructors. It is through the efforts of Kantrovitz, Vuch and the others in the scouting and player development departments that home-grown talent finds its way from the fields in Johnson City, Tenn., Batavia, N.Y. and other minor league outposts to St. Louis. The hiring of Kantrovitz, who replaced Jeff Luhnow as scouting director after Luhnow left the Cardinals to become the general manager of the Houston Astros, marked a return to the organization for the John Burroughs High School graduate. He previously worked as a scout for the Cardinals before leaving to attend Harvard University, where he earned his master’s degree in statistics. That led him to a front office position in Oakland, where he also worked as the director of international scouting before rejoining the Cardinals.

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Kantrovitz arrived at a key time for the organization. Because of the departure of Albert Pujols and other free agents, the Cardinals have five of the top 59 picks and six of the top 86 selections in this year’s amateur draft. The Cardinals will pick 19th, 23rd, 36th, 52nd, 59th and 86th. By comparison, the Cardinals had only two of the top 79 picks in last year’s draft and have not had this many selections in the first two rounds of the draft since 2005. Coming at a time when the minor league system is already stocked with talented prospects such as Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, Matt Adams, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins and Trevor Rosenthal, using those picks to add additional talent to the roster will make the organization even more deep. Two of the challenges that Kantrovitz and other MLB scouting directors face this year is that because of changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the Player’s Association, there are stiffer limits on signing bonuses this year than in the past. There are also harsher penalties for exceeding those limits. What nobody knows is what effect those limits will have on signing players, although many MLB scouting directors and general managers think it will likely mean that more high school players, if they are drafted after the top few rounds, will choose to go to college because teams will not be able to offer them large enough signing bonuses to sway their decision. If that does happen, it would not be surprising to see teams try to stock up on high school players in the first couple of rounds where they can offer higher signing bonuses, then take more college players with their later picks since they have less signing leverage. Unlike the NFL and NBA drafts, where teams can immediately plug holes in their lineup with draft selections, baseball drafts are almost always followed by three or four years of development, especially for high school picks, which makes it harder for teams to draft specifically for need. At the same time, however,



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scouts like Kantrovitz are well aware if an organization is deeper at one position than another in the system, which might be the deciding factor between two evenly rated prospects. The second change that will make it harder to evaluate talent this year compared to past drafts is the change at the college and high school levels in the composition of aluminum bats. Players’ power numbers are less this year than in the past because of the new bats, forcing teams to adjust their ratings for a player’s potential power in the professional ranks, especially as they switch again to wood bats. Thirty-three-year-old Kantrovitz hopes that blending scouting techniques —  combining the old-school instincts of having somebody watch a player so he can see his personality and intangibles with the new school world of statistical analysis — will lead to finding more quality players for the Cardinals this year and beyond.

“We’re going to look at players who have the chance to make the most impact for us in the major leagues,” said Kantrovitz. “Everybody pretty much realizes you have to use all of the information that is available to you to make a decision. Our scouts understand the process. You combine the subjective information you are getting with your own eyes in the scouting reports with the objective information we are generating in the office. “We think we do have a little bit of a competitive advantage in that we do put a lot of a emphasis on the objective component. There is no substitute for getting out there, talking to players, seeing them on repeated occasions and getting a feel for some of their intangible qualities.” Kantrovitz estimates that he personally saw and wrote scouting reports on between 100 and 150 players this spring; that is in addition to reports filed by other scouts and cross-checkers and

information gathered on a prospect in previous years, before he was eligible for the draft. Kantrovitz does know what it feels like to be on the other end of this process. After dreaming of becoming the next Ozzie Smith when he played shortstop for Burroughs, Kantrovitz went to Brown University, where he was a two-time AllIvy League shortstop. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 25th round of the 2001 draft, the 764th overall choice in a year that also brought the Cardinals Dan Haren, Skip Schumaker and Blake Hawksworth. Unlike those three players, however, Kantrovitz’ playing career was cut short when he could not recover from a shoulder injury. That was when he turned his attention to scouting, a job that has now brought him back to St. Louis. “On a personal level, it’s very exciting because I was born and raised in St. Louis and still have a lot of family and friends in the area,” he said. “I believe in the leadership and vision here. The Cardinals have a chance to be competitive year in and year out, and I have an opportunity to contribute to this in a big way through the draft. If you are passionate about scouting, which I certainly am, it’s a natural fit.” Vuch, who has been a Cardinals employee since he was 16 years old, feels the same way about his job of running the minor league system. He admits that he did not pay much attention to the minor leagues when he was following the Cardinals as a youngster rooting for Orlando Cepeda and then Joe Torre, but that soon changed once he joined the organization. “I remember reading about these hot prospects, Hector Cruz and Keith Hernandez, who were about ready to come up from Tulsa, but that really was all I knew about the minor leagues,” said Vuch. Vuch was a student at Oakville High School when he found out there was an opening for a Cardinals runner. A friend of his was leaving the position

to go to college, and Vuch got his job, even though it meant having to give up playing baseball for his high school team. “There were just too many conflicts with the schedule,” said Vuch. “I was going to have to miss too many games, so I joined the tennis team instead.” Vuch kept his job while attending college at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. After graduating in the spring of 1985, he told his parents that if he was not hired full-time by the Cardinals before the end of the year, he would begin looking for a “real” job. He was made full-time that August and has been with the team ever since. “My dad starting working for Boyd’s clothing store when he was 17 and retired from there,” said Vuch. “Maybe longevity runs in my family.” After two years in the sales department, Vuch made the switch to the baseball side of the office and began advancing through the ranks. One of his earliest jobs was catching bullpen sessions for injured pitchers who were rehabbing and not on the road with the Cardinals. After working for more than three years as the director of minor league operations, he was named farm director in September 2010. Unlike the folks who only have to concentrate on the Cardinals’ game every night, Vuch watches between four and seven games at once within the Cardinals’ farm system. His most pleasant moments are watching the success of unheralded players rise through the system, such as 23rd round draft pick Matt Adams. “You tell everybody that once they are in the system, how well they play determines how far they advance,” said Vuch. The hardest part of his job is having to tell a young player that his dream is over, that he is being released and won’t get the opportunity to play major league baseball, at least with the Cardinals. Vuch spent the early part of his career in the minor league department

just observing and listening to men like George Kissell, Dave Ricketts, Bo Milliken and Lee Thomas talk in meetings. “They probably thought I was a mute for about three or four years because I didn’t ever say a word,” said Vuch. “I can still remember George Kissell always saying that God gave you two ears and one mouth because you were supposed to listen twice as much as you talked.” It is a philosophy that Vuch still tries to follow, making certain he involves managers, coaches and roving instructors when it is time to make a decision about whether to promote, demote or release a player. “There are a lot of different challenges every day, making certain players get where they need to be,” he said. “There are a lot of ripple effects of one move on the major league roster. It’s like throwing a pebble in the ocean, then watching all the waves it creates.” Vuch said that one such example was the day in May when outfielder Shane Robinson was sent back to Memphis to make room for Lance Berkman coming off the disabled list. That prompted the Cardinals to release an outfielder in Memphis. The following day, however, when Robinson was called back to St. Louis because of Jon Jay going on the DL, it left Memphis an outfielder short. “You never know what is going to happen,” said Vuch. “I always keep my phone on, because I never know when somebody is going to be trying to call me.” Vuch will see the Cardinals’ system add about 40 new players in June after the amateur draft, and it will be his job, along with the others in his department, to decide where those players will begin their professional careers. “The draft is always an exciting time, and it will be again this year,” said Vuch, who will then immediately begin following those players, too, all the while wondering which ones will ultimately wear a Cardinals uniform one day. v

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For more than a century, fans of the University of Missouri have witnessed Southeastern Conference football from afar. They’ve seen Bear Bryant stalk the Alabama sideline in his trademark fedora. They’ve seen Steve Spurrier, the quarterback, fling footballs. They’ve seen Steve Spurrier, the Ol’ Ball Coach, fling visors. They’ve seen the game’s biggest stars come to life on SEC campuses and leave lasting legacies. Most need only one name to conjure images of their prowess: Bo, Herschel, Tebow, Cam, Archie, Peyton and Eli. From afar, Mizzou fans have seen college football’s majestic shrines explode the senses on Saturdays in the fall, from LSU’s Tiger Stadium to The Swamp at Florida. They’ve heard about the traditions, the tailgating, the passion and the pageantry. Now, Mizzou fans get to live it. Missouri officially leaves behind the Big 12 for the SEC on July 1, and “The Mizzou Fan’s Survival Guide to the SEC” will be the quintessential tour guide for Tiger fans as they discover their new home. Locally published by St. Louis’ Reedy Press, the book is the first of its kind on the market to explore the SEC from the Mizzou fan’s perspective. Co-authors Ron Higgins, Dave Matter and Steve Richardson have combined to spend more than 60 years writing about college football in press boxes around the country. Higgins, the SEC football reporter for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, has been covering the league for 34 years. Richardson, the Executive Director of the Football Writers Association of America, has spent decades covering college sports and writing books on the subject. Matter, a St. Louis native (St. Louis University High class of 1996), has covered Mizzou football for the Columbia Daily Tribune since 2000. Together, they’ve delivered a guide to help Tiger fans navigate their way through the most competitive and passionate college conference in the country. As Mizzou joins the SEC — along with Texas A&M this fall — “The Mizzou Fan’s Survival Guide to the SEC” introduces all 14 members of the league, detailing each school’s history, traditions, legends, stadiums and game-day environments. The book includes travel tips for each SEC locale, plus suggestions for lodging, shopping, dining and — one of the SEC’s proudest traditions — partying. Each chapter devoted to the current SEC schools, plus Texas A&M, includes a section called Mizzou Connections that describes the shared histories each school has with its newest member, plus other unique links and quirks. “Adding Missouri and Texas A&M will make the conference more competitive,” said retired SEC commissioner Roy Kramer.“It will create new rivalries and fans and gives the league’s TV partners more exposure. But, there will be some instant cultural growing up for Missouri and A&M, because there’s a passion in this part of the country I’m not sure they’ve seen.” For Mizzou fans, their education starts with “The Mizzou Fan’s Survival Guide to the SEC,” available in June where books are sold and online at and Here’s a sampling of what readers will learn about life in the SEC:

* The origin of Alabama being known as the “Red Elephants” dates back to October 8, 1930, when Atlanta Journal sportswriter Everett Strupper wrote a story on a 64-0 Alabama blowout of Ole Miss that he watched four days earlier. Strupper wrote of Alabama’s physical team, “At the end of the (first) quarter, the earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming.’ ” * In his only matchup against the man he replaced at Missouri, Dan Devine nipped Frank Broyles’ Arkansas Razorbacks in a hotly contested 1963 meeting. Incensed with the home-field chain gang at War Memorial Stadium, Devine moved the stakes when the officials denied the Tigers a first down, according to Bob Broeg’s Ol’ Mizzou: A Century of Tiger Football. It took six Arkansas state policemen to escort Devine back to the bench. Oddly, it was the final regular-season matchup between two schools situated just three hundred miles apart. * Oliver Goldsmith’s 1770 poem, “The Deserted Village” gave the town of Auburn, Ala., an identity. One line from the poem reads, “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village on the plain,” and the town is still viewed that way. Downtown Auburn still has that basic Mayberry feel to it, with Toomer’s Drugs and its exquisite lemonade. There is more urban sprawl on South College Street that connects the campus and downtown with Interstate 85, which runs southwest to Montgomery and northeast to Atlanta. And that’s okay, because even with Auburn sprouting to almost 54,000 residents, it has still maintained its quaint downtown area full of shops and eateries.

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* Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium opened in 1930 with 21,769 seats — the first thirty-two rows on the west, east, and north sides of the current stadium. The stadium was dedicated on November 8, 1930, when Florida lost to Alabama, 20-0, and the legendary Red Barber, a Florida student, had the play-by-play call. Numerous facelifts and seating additions have boosted Florida’s capacity to 88,548, with home crowds going over 90,000. In 1991, Coach Steve Spurrier nicknamed the stadium “The Swamp” because he said: “The Swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous.” * You go to Athens, Ga., and you’ve got to stop in at The Varsity, which has been cranking out chili dogs for the students and townspeople since 1932. Throw caution and your diet to the wind, and eat for the cycle by adding an order of onion rings and a frosted orange drink. Your eyes will roll to the back of your head. * To say basketball is king in the Bluegrass State is an understatement. Once upon a time, Kentucky was about the only school that took the sport seriously in the Southeastern Conference. That has changed over the years, of course, with Florida and Arkansas winning national championships in the last two decades. But Kentucky’s men’s basketball program annually is one of the tops in the country and claimed the 2012 NCAA title. The Wildcats have won eight NCAA titles since the tournament began in 1939, trailing only UCLA (11) in championships won.



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* LSU’s passion for playing night home games in Tiger Stadium has never been better explained than by ESPN analyst Beano Cook who said, “Dracula and LSU football are at their best when the sun goes down.” LSU has played night football for eighty years heading into the 2012 season and has a considerably better record in night games in the last five decades. * The original school mascot at Ole Miss, Colonel Reb, was created in 1939 but didn’t make it to the Ole Miss sideline until 1979. By 2003, the school administration, feeling that Colonel Reb was a reminder of the South’s Civil War/ plantation days, removed the colonel. In 2011 a vote was taken for a new mascot. After more than 13,000 votes, students, faculty, alumni, staff, and season-ticket holders selected Rebel the Black Bear on April 5, 2011. * At Mississippi State, The Veranda is Starkville’s No. 1 restaurant and serves up anything from pork chops and cream gravy (which is like a blood transfusion to a Southerner) to crawfish nachos. * At Maurice’s Bar-B-Q in South Carolina, they had to quit flying the Confederate Battle Flag atop the Columbia location because of drycleaning costs ...  hmm. Maybe it will pop back up by the time you arrive. The barbeque is lip-smacking good. Sweet tea, pulled pork sandwiches, great sauce. * What started as a quicker way to get to Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium for former Vols broadcaster George Mooney in 1962 has turned into a unique tradition. Rather than fight game-day traffic, Mooney navigated his small boat down the Tennessee River

and docked next to the stadium. Now, about two hundred boats begin arriving days in advance of a home game, forming one heck of floating tailgate party. * Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band: With meticulous precision, Texas A&M’s Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band: the country’s largest military marching band, has been parading through Aggie football games since the program’s inaugural season in 1894. All three hundred-plus musicians are Corps of Cadets members. * Since Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt donated $1 million to start the university in 1873 — he was obviously way ahead of his time in corporate branding — the school acquired the nickname the Commodores. Vanderbilt’s costumed sideline mascot, known as “Mr. C” — short for Mr. Commodore — always dresses in nineteenth-century naval regalia, complete with cutlass and muttonchops.

Dave Matter, a St. Louis native and graduate of St. Louis University High and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is the award-winning Mizzou football beat writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune. Ron Higgins is covering the SEC for a 34th season. An eight-time honoree as the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Writer of the Year, Higgins writes for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis and Steve Richardson, another Mizzou grad, has covered 24 Final Fours, all the major bowls and two Olympics. He’s been executive director of the Football Writers Association of America since 1996.

2012 PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase

Monday, June 18th at Busch Stadium Skills Challenge & Home Run Derby - 10 am Showcase Game - 1:15 pm Ticket info:

Watch the top high school senior talent compete in this select MO vs. IL All-Star game! hsbs_half_page_ad.indd 1

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Matheny Has All the Tools By Jim Powers

photo by chris lee,


Westminster’s Tate Matheny hits a triple in the 5th inning during a game between Westminster and MICDS on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at MICDS in St. Louis.

hen it comes to baseball players and the skills that they have, most baseball aficionados and scouts reference the “tools” that will make them notable ball players. The tools that scouts and college coaches all look for are speed, arm strength, fielding ability, hitting and baseball knowledge. Westminster Christian Academy’s Tate Matheny has all of those tools. Matheny has been a leader for the Wildcats for the past four years, helping them win four straight district championships and back-to-back Class 3 State Championships. “It has been a great thing for this team, and to win four straight districts, it has been really a blast,” said Matheny. “I love this team, and I love all of the guys on this team. This year started out a little different because we did not have the same team camaraderie as we did with the past few teams, but after our trip to Florida, we became closer and it has been great.” Matheny led the Wildcats to Springfield with a metro area-leading .624 batting average and a .715 on-base percentage. Matheny also has 58 hits on the season, with 31 of those going for extra bases. He has hit 10 triples and 11 home runs so far, and that is just the beginning of the tools Matheny has. Being the son of former St. Louis Cardinals player and current Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny, he learned at a young age how important it is to be prepared and work hard. The high school senior has great speed in the field, which he has shown many times over the past few years from his position in center field. He has a tremendous continued pg 40



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courtesy of the pnc bank high school baseball showcase

Showcase Shows Off Top Prep Talent


The skills competition begins at 10 a.m. on June 18; all of the players will participate by running, throwing and hitting before playing in the PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase presented by Rawlings, which will begin at 1:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 590 KFNS. Joining the Missouri All-Stars will be pitchers Aaron Schnurbusch, C.J. Martin, Colton Howell, Gerrion Grim, Griff Goodrich, Jonathan Harris, Josh Moore, Matt Hasenbeck and Tommy Hager. Catchers include Kevin Phillips and Jake Henson, and the infielders will be Braxton Martinez, Pete Fairbanks, Aaron Bossi, Yoonjae Nam, Nolan Sponsler, William DuPont, Willie Floros and Zach Faulkner. The outfielders will be Daniel Holst, Matt Dezort, Mike Bozarth, Petey Spradlin, Sean Ullrich and Tate Matheny. On the Illinois side, pitchers include A.J. Childerson, Drew Bicklein, Ian Zimmermann, Jevon Boyd, Joey Coonrod, Kyle Mueller, Sam Hopkins, Sam Lidisky and Tanner Miles with Aaron Kuper and Dylan Johnson catching. Playing infield are Alex Siddle, Justin Groennert, Gavin Thomas, John Goodrich, Alex Schlemmer, Logan Reno, Andrew Range and Luke Stewart. Roaming the outfield will be Blake Thomas, Cory Beyersdorfer, Darius Box, Derek Page, Lawrence Moore and Matt Reinholz. It will be another stellar day for high school sports in St. Louis as local baseball players get to live out their dream of playing the game they love on the hollowed grounds of Busch Stadium.

courtesy of the pnc bank high school baseball showcase

ost high school baseball players dream of playing in the major league someday. They dream of putting on a uniform and playing in front of their friends and family at Busch Stadium. They dream of being the next David Freese or Kyle McClelland. Thanks to PNC Bank and a few former Cardinal players, those dreams will become a reality on June 18 when 50 of the St. Louis area’s best high school seniors take the field at Busch to play in Rawlings’ third annual PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase. The game is the brainchild of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and his good friend from PNC Bank, Regional President Rick Sems. Sems moved to the St. Louis area from Ohio and saw what baseball meant to the people of St. Louis. He then reached out to his friend, Matheny, and started to lay the groundwork for an annual all-star game to be held at Busch Stadium to showcase the top players in the St. Louis metro area. The first game was played in 2010 and was an immediate success. 2011 saw the showcase expand to an all-day event that added a skills competition between the players from both squads. The players participated in a throwing contest where they threw for accuracy from center field to home plate, ran a 60-yard dash for time and got the chance to swing for the fences in the home run derby. It was a great way for the players to have some fun and get to know each other better. This year, the experience has grown to a whole new level. The showcase began at Buffalo Wild Wings in Kirkwood with a selection show that was broadcast on 590 KFNS. The teams were introduced and the players were able to speak about the honor of being selected to the showcase. It was also a chance for the players to meet the sponsors responsible for putting on the event. Another new feature for 2012 is a clinic at Matheny’s Catch 22 Miracle Field in Chesterfield that is sponsored by the YMCA and that the players will be a part of. This will give the players a chance to give back and to work with kids with disabilities and show them the basics of baseball. Another highlight of the showcase is a breakfast on June 17 at the Crowne Plaza. This event is sponsored by Midas and gives the players a chance to again meet some of the people responsible for putting on the event while enjoying some great speakers. After breakfast, the players will head over to Busch Stadium to be honored on the field before the Cardinals take on Kansas City.

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photo by chris lee,


Westminster’s Tate Matheny checks the defense as he pulls into third base with a triple in the 5th inning during a game between Westminster and MICDS on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at MICDS in St. Louis.

arm and can cover a lot of ground, but his biggest asset is his ability to know the situation and make the right play. Matheny will use all of those tools when he heads to Missouri State next year to further his education and playing career. One of the biggest differences this year is that Matheny’s dad has not been to many of his games to see some of the things he is doing. Matheny has used his dad’s advice in the past, especially about hitting and what he may have to do differently. “It has really pushed me to get a feel for myself,” he said. “For a long time, I had a feel for what is wrong or what is right, but if there is something I can’t fix, I could just go to my dad. I have had to do



grand slam sports

some of the stuff on my own. I have had my buddies video tape me and such, but this — in a way — has been good for me to do because (my dad) will not be in Springfield.” This story might not have happened when Matheny was in junior high; at one point, he thought he had a future in hockey. He is a tremendous player on the ice and was also being recruited in that sport. His sister, Katie, is heading to Ohio State to play hockey for the Buckeyes. It has caused some good-hearted needling in the Matheny household, as both elder Mathenys attended Michigan. “I thought at one point that (hockey) may be the way to go and create my own niche and not be like my

dad,” said Mathey. “But, in the end, I knew that baseball was where my heart was.” Later this month, Matheny will also lead Team Missouri on the field that his father coaches on in the PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase presented by Rawlings. Matheny is looking to complete his high school career at the place that he is going to start his college career in Springfield. He has all the tools to represent the St. Louis Metro area well and will continue the trend of talented local players making names for themselves at the college level. v


U.S. Center for Sports Medicine 333 South Kirkwood Road x Saint Louis, Missouri 63122 PH: 314.909.1666 x FX: 314.909.6513

Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery Treatment for chronic lumbar and cervical spine degeneration has historically been decompression and fusion. The use of an artificial disc to replace a damaged spinal disc that has generating pain was initially developed in Europe and has recently been approved in the United States. The Europeans have a long history of experience with artificial disc replacements and have pioneered this care and treatment. Logic dictates that replacing a damaged segment is preferable to a fusion where range of motion is limited and function is lost. The anatomy of the spine includes the spacer or the intervertebral disc, which acts as a shock absorber and creates motion. This is situated between the vertebral bodies or bones, and the spacer, which has two components, allows motion and cushions the stress between the upper and lower bone. The middle portion of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus, and the outer portion is called the annulus. In talking about disc replacement treatment, the disc replacement is designed to replace the inner portion or the nucleus of the intervertebral disc. There are a number of disc replacement products on the market, and surgery to replace the disc is being done at an increasing rate. Indications for disc replacement surgery include degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine and lumbar spine, spinal stenosis and chronic low back pain caused by long-term arthritis. Disc replacement surgery has progressed due to limitations with spinal fusion surgery. While successful spinal fusion surgery has an 80 percent success rate, there is significant loss of range of motion after spinal fusion surgery; the segments above and below a spinal fusion are overloaded, causing arthritis to occur above and below the fused segments. Theoretically, if the disc replacement can allow range of motion, these problems will be alleviated. The surgery itself is an open surgery with a short hospital stay. The actual healing time would be substantially less than care and treatment to get the spine to fuse. It is an exciting advancement in the care and treatment of degenerative arthritis, spinal stenosis and chronic lumbar and cervical spine pain, which might allow for more normal mechanics as the technology progresses. If a spinal fusion is being considered by your physician, ask the doctor if you would be a candidate for disc replacement surgery and understand the differences between a fusion, decompression and a disc replacement. The future is quite bright for advances in spinal technology.

ASK THE DOCTOR Dear Dr. Rick, I have had problems with crunching in my shoulder as I wash my hair, put on my clothes and get dressed. It is not particularly painful, but the grinding has gotten worse. Do you have any thoughts? – Christa R., Fenton, Missouri Christa, grinding in the shoulder can be something as simple as bursal inflammation or something as severe as rotator cuff breakdown. I would initially start by taking some over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil or Aleve, and if it is not better in two to three weeks, I would see my physician to determine if you have a problem with your rotator cuff or this is simply inflammatory. If the anti-inflammatories do not resolve your pain, see your doctor.

Dr. Rick, I have had pain in my foot for approximately four months. It is sore when I run, and when I push in between my third and fourth toes, I get tingling and a shocking pain down into my toes. I have taken some medication, but it has not helped. Do you have any thoughts? – Larry M., Alton, Illinois Thank you very much for your question, Larry. It sounds like you might have a Morton’s neuroma. A Morton’s neuroma is a pinching of the nerve in between your toes and is painful because the nerve gets thickened and very inflamed. This is usually initially treated with an injection and can be resolved with either an injection or surgery. I recommend you see your physician and start the treatment; this will not get better on its own.

Monthly Medical Tip: Limit your carb intake after 5 p.m. to help with weight control and to improve your sleep.

Do you have a question for Dr. Rick? Please email it to 42


grand slam sports

Scott Rovak’s

Closing Shot St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famers on Opening Day April 13, 2012.



grand slam sports

the final out

St. Louis Welcomes Local Blues Ownership


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t believe local ownership was important to St. Louis hockey fans before, he does now. Tom Stillman’s introduction was more of a celebration than a press conference. He got a standing ovation on the first day of his job. The only thing missing was Miller Lite and Pearl Vodka. The air was thick with emotion as Stillman, the Chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing, officially accepted the torch as the new controlling partner of the St. Louis Blues. There were no scripted catchphrases or promises, just genuine honesty as Stillman spoke to the people. He talked about the importance of enhancing the relationship between the organization and the alumni, his love of hockey and his passion for the Blues. He somehow managed to get the words out as he introduced his wife, Mary, and three children. Recognizing his father-in-law, prominent investor and former U.S. Senator John Danforth, wasn’t any easier. It was apparent to everyone in attendance that this new beginning was so much more than just the purchase of a local professional hockey team. The process of purchasing the Blues began two years ago when former Chairman Dave Checketts was forced to sell the franchise. Many around St. Louis doubted his ability to land an investment team powerful enough to convince Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors, yet one by one, Stillman began adding key players to his team.

Andy Strickland covers the St. Louis Blues and the NHL for 590 The Fan KFNS and



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It’s an all-star lineup of who’s who in St. Louis, including former Charter Communications Co-Founder Jerald Kent; Enterprise CEO Andy Taylor; Worldwide Technology Chairman David Steward; and Luxco CEO Donn Lux, just to name a few. In January 2012, Stillman signed his purchase agreement, and suddenly the fog surrounding the unforeseen dream began to disappear. Stillman gave the NHL no other option; he was going to become the next owner of the Blues, and nothing would get in his way. Now, the challenge is proving to Bettman that he made the right decision. During Stillman’s introductory press conference, he was able to sneak in a dose of reality; there is work to be done. Getting the Blues on solid financial ground is no easy task. Many have tried before, only to see it fail over and over again. Will this time be different? The Blues have never really made money, and that doesn’t look to change any time soon. This ownership group would love to reverse that trend, and the first order of business is controlling the losses. Part of the Blues’ turnaround plan includes leveraging local ownership, leasing open suites, increasing sponsorship revenue, cutting excessive and unnecessary expenses and realizing the benefits of the new CBA, as well as the U.S. and Canadian National media contracts. The Blues were paying more than $1.1 million a year in management fees to the previous ownership group. Considering Stillman is paying himself a mere dollar to run the team, they will certainly save some money there. This group has credibility in the community, something the previous regime was lacking. All of the investors run thriving businesses with track records of success. Each investor is either a Blues season ticket holder or a suite holder. More importantly, they’re taken seriously in the community and have the ability to get other prominent people to support the organization. They’re decision makers and people who make a difference in the city. If this group can’t make a financial dent in the organization, no one can. None of these individuals would have invested without believing the Blues have turnaround ability. This level of reach has never existed in the history of Blues ownership. Commissioner Bettman credits Stillman’s persistence in him persevering over the competition. One thing about Bettman is that he has the ability to steer these things however he sees fit. If he thought there was a better option to own the team, Stillman never would have been given a chance. Bettman sensed the overwhelming support for local ownership, and he deserves credit for opening the door. The Blues will be shedding plenty of payroll this summer, and there should be money available to add a player or two. Suddenly, the Blues are a decent destination following a 109-point season. They may not compete with high revenue clubs for prized free agents, but don’t assume they’re going to be bottom-feeders, either. Team performance defines its brand. The Blues have been here since 1967 and will always be part of the community. Stillman is as normal as any owner in professional sports and brings very little ego to the table. He’s earned the opportunity to add to the legacy of a proud organization, a team that once again belongs to the people of St. Louis. v

St. Louis Sports Magazine June 2012  

June 2012 Issue of St. Louis Sports Magazine

St. Louis Sports Magazine June 2012  

June 2012 Issue of St. Louis Sports Magazine