Ten For Tuesday: March 1 Edition

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(St. Louis, MO)

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

Welcome to my new weekly column entitled “Ten for Tuesday”. I hope you all will enjoy the debut edition, which touches on yesterday’s Rams feature, the St.Louis Cardinals, why I’m not necessarily hyped about the prospects of MLS to STL, what Mizzou Football must do to regain elite their elite status, the good and bad of the NFL Combine, the mystery of NBA Pre-Draft Measurements, the wonder that is Stephen Curry and much more.

With that said, I hope you will enjoy week one of “Ten for Tuesday”.

Let’s get to it:

1- For those who missed it, I penned a feature yesterday named “Monday’s Missile: Los Angeles Rams Not Worthy of St. Louis’ Support”. It has proven to very controversial and his elicited very strong, passionate responses from folks all over the nation. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the rather brief read, I’d love for you to take a moment to do so. Whether you love it or hate it, I’d enjoy hearing your take on the feature. Hit me up on twitter via @RealShaneGray and let me know how you feel.

While on the topic of the aforementioned feature, I’d like to make a couple things clear that I didn’t touch on yesterday:

One, I wish no ill will whatsoever towards the Rams players. Obviously, they had nothing to do with the move. I interviewed several of them on different occasions over the last few years, and think the world of guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn, free agent wide receiver Brian Quick and former Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, all of whom were great people, great interviews and wonderful assets in the community.

Two, I wish to congratulate any and all CLASSY fans from L.A. who will get to watch the Rams return to Cali. I don’t blame them for being excited. Not at all. As for those who want to bash St.Louis and the fans here, however, well… that’s another story altogether.

2- With the Rams moving on, I plan to turn more attention back to the St. Louis Cardinals. I will be honest and admit that much of my focus turned away from the Redbirds after the Rams came to St. Louis. As a child, though, I was an absolute die-hard, live-and-die Cardinals fan. They were my first true love in regards to a sports team. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my passion for the game even after playing it in college.

As probably everyone is aware by now, the Redbirds are in the thick of Spring Training in preparation for the 2016 Major League Baseball campaign. Can they hold off the rival Cubs? Will the Pirates again make major noise in the division? That discussion will come on another day and I look forward to diving into some Cardinals coverage this year.

3- Switching gears, a group of prominent, local investors — including Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and former #STLNFL Task Force co-head Dave Peacock, among others — recently united to form #MLS2STL and are exploring the possibility of bringing an expansion MLS franchise to St. Louis. (In case you missed it, here’s the full story.)

While I have nothing against MLS and am all for anything that would be a positive for the region, I do have one significant reservation about bringing an MLS team to the city.

Why am I so lukewarm on the MLS2STL? Here’s why:

I don’t believe St. Louis is currently viewed by many as a four team region. If true — and I have reason to believe that is indeed the case — I’d prefer our third professional club to be something other than an MLS franchise.

With the MLB and NHL deeply rooted in the Gateway City, that realistically only leaves room for one other major pro sports league/team, and I’d personally hate to reduce or remove any future hopes for an NFL expansion team with truly committed local ownership and a 30 year plus iron-clad lease, or even a chance at an NBA franchise at some point down the road in exchange for MLS. I could be wrong, but I think the presence of MLS would greatly reduce any chances of eventually making a run at having a team from either of those two more prestigious leagues,and if that is indeed true, that bothers me.

As for the NBA, keep in mind that Stan Kroenke relative Bill Laurie nearly locked up an expansion team even WITH the NFL and three other pro teams in town. With that considered, IF a legitimate effort were made at a time when there are but two major pro teams in town rather than three, I think it could certainly get done.

4- Speaking of the Association, Stephen Curry continues to amaze me. To me, he’s the best player in the League right now. He’s the best scorer and best shooter, he’s money in crunch time, he’s a willing and effective passer and he can D up when the chips are on the line.

In short, if there’s one guy in pro basketball that I’m paying to watch play right now, it’s Curry… and nobody else is a close second at the moment.

5- Last year, the Missouri Tigers football program fell off and fell off hard, going 5-7 in a year filled with off-field controversy, on-field struggles and the eventual resignation of Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who ran the show at Mizzou for 15 years, leading the Tigers to ten winning seasons, 10 bowl games, six bowl wins and a combination of five Big 12 North/SEC East Division championships.

After a down year, what does Mizzou need to do to get back on track?

To me, the most glaring hole on the Tigers roster a year ago — and something that was always a strong point during Missouri’s best years within the Pinkel era — was a deep, productive receiving corps.

Last season, the Tigers lack of depth and overall talent at receiver was undeniable, and the offense struggled to produce points and generate big plays largely because of it.

If Mizzou is going to get back to its winning ways and again become a power in the SEC, they need to get their wideout talent back to something close to the level it had been prior to the 2015 debacle.

6- I have always enjoyed the annual NFL Combine, and watched it extremely closely when covering the Rams and preparing for draft-related articles from 2011 through 2015.

That said, the Combine can be either a blessing or a curse for NFL talent evaluators and NFL teams — depending on how it is utilized.

When game tape is kept as the priority, the combine is a fine tool to further evaluate prospects. When the combine is used strictly as a complimentary tool to hone in on what a player has done on the field and fine tune evaluations, it is great.

But when scouts and teams take the bait and move someone up or down a draft board based more upon the combine than what a player or players actually did on the gridiron, teams are asking for major problems.

The combine is fine to help refine grades on a given player, but when the grades become based more upon the combine stats than the football stats, teams are begging to end up drafting busts.

7- Speaking of the combine, the NBA Combine has always been fascinating to me in regard to the measurements, and — more specifically — the height measurements.

At the NFL Combine, players are measured only once, and in their bare feet. But at the NBA Combine, prospects are measured early in the morning (when players are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch taller than they would be late in the day), and are measured both in their bare feet and in their shoes.

As many of you are probably aware, in-shoe heights are commonly used on rosters in college or pro basketball. One can argue about whether that makes sense or not, but its been a common practice in recent decades to either list players in roughly their shoe heights or add anywhere from a half-inch to over two inches to a player’s barefoot measurement.

For example, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love was measured at 6’7″3/4 without shoes at the 2008 pre-draft camp, but has been listed at 6’10” throughout his pro and college career.

Former Cavs guard and rumored lover of Lebron James’ mom Delonte West was measured at 6’1″1/2 barefoot, 6’2″3/4 with shoes while being listed at 6’4″ for portions of his pro career.

John Starks, who starred for the New York Knicks during the Patrick Ewing era, admitted to a 6’2″height while playing with a 6’5″listing.

Finally, former Oklahoma State standout Byron Houston — from way back in the Big 8 days — measured just 6’4″ barefoot while being listed at 6’7″ both in college and the NBA.

On the other hand, there are always a few players who use their barefoot heights and are even taller without shoes than their listed heights. Longtime legend Kevin Garnett is one of those players, listed at 6’11” while being been measured at 7’1″ in shoes. Another future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Durant, is listed at 6’9 but stands close to 7 foot on the hardwood in shoes.

In general, when you see a player’s height on a roster, you can bet it is either an in-shoe listing or roughly an inch to an inch and a half above their barefoot height, but it’s always interesting — to me at least — to see the extremes of the over-inflated listings or the few who utilize their barefoot measurement.

8- With the concussion issue coming to the forefront in the NFL, particularly after Will Smith’s blockbuster “Concussion” movie, has it changed how you feel about your son, brother, nephew or cousin playing the game?  I’d love to hear your take on the topic. Hit me up on Twitter (@RealShaneGray) and let me know how you feel about your loved ones playing football.

9- Speaking of movies, let’s play make believe for a quick second and pretend that YOU are going to star in a sports-related feature film. If you were the star and had your pick of women to play the role of your wife or girlfriend, tweet me her name and why you chose her using #NTheZone and #MyLeadingLady. It will be interesting to see what women y’all have been scoping out.

10- Finally, on next week’s N The Zone Podcast with Palmer Alexander (@thelegendkil) of the St. Louis American and Arlington Lane (@TheATrainSTL), we will be introducing a new segment entitled “Ask Shane/Get at Gray”. For those following me on twitter, DM me your question/questions, and I will answer a few of them over the air next Sunday. For those whose answers are chosen, we will let you know by tagging your twitter handle when tweeting out the segment. I look forward to the inquiries.

Thanks for reading…

 

THE A-TRAIN RANT 6.0!

What’s good! After a wild weekend of fun, excitement and atrociousness. I want to start this “END OF THE WEEKEND” rant with a little fun and excitement, yet reality. Then I’ll give a piece of my mind to a certain Cardinals player.

BOOM!

  1. The St. Louis Rams have a great defense, I applaud Jeff Fisher for his defensive scheme, 9 sacks said a lot against Arizona QB Kevin Kolb on Thursday night. Hope Mr. Kolb found his teeth after that game.
  2. Now while the Rams have shown promise to getting over .500 for the first time since ’06, they still haven’t won a road game yet. Convince me, then I’ll yell, “We going to the Super Bowl this season!” I should make a bet.
  3. To the Atlanta Braves fans (at Turner Field)…if you want to throw things on the field, throw them at your own damn team! Their defense was THE reason they lost that “one-game playoff.” Either way it went, that “infield-fly” rule wasn’t going to save the season.
  4. Speaking of the Braves, Chipper Jones played his final game as a MLB player. Funny thing was he knew the Braves were going to lose to that game…WEEKS BEFORE the playoff game. Damn fine way to go out on the bottom!
  5. This year’s baseball playoffs are PURE CRAPOLA! And I stand on that. Even if the Cardinals win it all again, this format to the playoffs is a piece of sh**.
  6. Bud Selig loves to ruin the game of baseball. That’s all from that.
  7. Cam Newton is starting to understand what a sophomore slump really is…at least I think so. Losing to the Seahawks shows you that..(CLEARS THROAT) THE NFC WEST IS THE BEST! Everybody else, just get over it.
  8. Looks like my prediction about Alabama beating the tar off Mizzou by at least 35 is really coming into play. I might watch just to see what happens. Mr. Pinkel, you have one more year left. **WAVES**
  9. Hey Green Bay Packer fans…the Rams are better than your team.
  10. RGIII…how does it feel to be knocked on your ass at home. I told you that you were going to get it. Welcome to the NFL.
  11. Long live Chuck Pagano!!!
  12. 3 teams in the SEC are in the Top 5…waiting on the hatred once again from fans outside of the S.E.C.
  13. If Miguel Cabrera doesn’t win the AL MVP in a landslide, all the voters should give up their voting rights…to the fans.
  14. After all of this, I have to talk about the St. Louis Cardinals. **Sighs** First off, congrats for getting to the Division Series.
  15. Finally…MATT HOLLIDAY SUCKS, HE’S NOT CLUTCH AND HE NEVER WILL BE! Cardinals paid this ridiculous idiot of a player over $126 million, and got completely suckered by Scott Boras. Yeah, he hit a home run in the Wild Card game…the Wild Card game. Yet, when the chips are down, he plays just like he has played previously…horrible. Oh, everybody else played like crap from the 7th inning on in this series against the Nationals but I want to focus on the $126 million DOUCHE. For those that don’t remember, this is the same guy who couldn’t play a Game 7 in last year’s World Series, because he was “hurt.” Now for a guy that is 6’4″, 230 lbs, and has received hitting advice from (get this) Mark McGwire. He should be the best damn player on this team, he should be driving in runs like Miguel Cabrera did. He mustered 102 runs batted in this season, which is great, but you and I know he’s much better than this. So you telling me, the fans can’t get the guy who batted .340, hit 36 home runs, and drove in 137 runs back in 2007??? The fans can’t get it. Yet, some imbeciles want to say he’s clutch. You wouldn’t know that truth if it slapped you in the face. Now let’s go back to all of those fans that said, “Oh, we don’t need Albert Pujols anymore.” AND “Let him rot in Anaheim.” AND my personal favorite, “F*** Pujols.” They could sure use that in the lineup right now especially after the man who has taken his spot in the lineup is supposed to be…that guy. What a joke. Yet, I’m cheering for him. Thanks for suckering me, Matt. You are doing a tremendous job.
  16. When is hockey coming on again?

I’m done. More to come soon.

Thoughts? Concerns? Ideas are welcome. Please reply below.

Thanks.

The A-Train…aka The Mad Redbird

THE A-TRAIN RANT 4.5! ODE TO MIZZOU!

This kid sucks…I had a lot of high hopes for him. He’s not ready for SEC competition. Hell, he’s not ready for any competition. Just looking for powder puffs to beat.

And for you, “Coach.” One more season for you, that’s it! Your methods stink. I don’t care how much talent you grooming or brought in. Change your “offensive” methods or find another job.

I’m done. Missouri will be 1-3 after next week. After this, no way they should beat #1 Alabama. If Mizzou wins, then Nick Saban and then Gary Pinkel’s ass need to be whipped. Point blank. PUNKEL (YEAH I SAID IT), you’re a joke. Thanks, Kevin Slaten. I agree with you on something.

The A-Train, Mizzou fan.

5.0 coming soon, maybe sooner than you think.

THE A-TRAIN RANT 1.5

This sports rant is dedicated to the fans of the Missouri Tigers football team and St. Louis Rams fans…

(Clears throat)

HERE WE GO!

  1. If the Tigers continue to play like they did against Georgia, Gary Pinkel should resign at season’s end…atrocious.
  2. Gary Pinkel is going to get James Franklin killed against SEC opponents with his “play-calling.” Ever figured why Kevin Slaten can’t stand you. He is going to have a field day on his radio show tomorrow. In the words of Bart Scott, “CAN’T WAIT!”
  3. Speaking of James Franklin, he and his center need to be on one accord and stop playing the game like he has a Nerf football in his hands. What the hell? You playing with the big boys. Leave that Big 12 crap alone.
  4. Again to Mr. Franklin…do you remember who you are playing for? You play for the Tigers, not the Bulldogs. I couldn’t believe you let Mr. Jones of Georgia do you in the butt like he did Saturday night. My favorite play of yours, the INT you threw dead to him. Brilliant. Just freaking brilliant. You might as well stayed in the Big 12 with that disgrace.
  5. Back to you, Mr. Pinkel…how in the blue hell do you do to make a call such as a fake punt run on 4th and 11 in your own territory? Who are you? Did you forget that you are playing with the best conference in college football? Trickery doesn’t usually work well on an SEC opponent. SO DON’T TRY IT THERE! Good luck against South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Alabama…they are licking their chops waiting on your team. You are about to be SEC dog meat!
  6. Moving on to the Rams fans…I know that you have suffered long enough, a 2-14 season spoke volumes. You might have said, “I don’t care about the Rams this year” OR “this could be something different.” It is different.
  7. Even though it was a loss, it brought promise. The team did get 3 INTs on QB Matthew Stafford…but it went downhill in the 2nd half and the Lions beat you are on a 4th quarter drive.
  8. Rams offense…you need help desperately!
  9. Jeff Fisher, you need to teach that team how to close out a game or you be just like Steve Spagnuolo was last season…out of a job.
  10. RGIII comes to St. Louis next week…find a way to stop him. He’s a winner and he could beat the sleeves of a team if not careful. Choose wisely who will knock off this high profile rookie.

MORE RANTING TO COME! REPLACEMENT REFS ALREADY IRK ME AND ROOKIE QBs DEBUT…NEXT TIME!

GOOD DAY ALL!

A-TRAIN