Your Central Division Champion St. Louis Cardinals

This had to have been one of the strangest St. Louis Cardinals seasons I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen quite a few of them.

They were bad. They were good. They couldn’t hit. It was a rare occasion when Mobil on the Run had to pay out in the form of the slush-slush.

They were hurt. They made some trades that didn’t pan out. Or maybe they will.

I miss Joe Kelly. Our whole family misses Joe Kelly. We are not attached to John Lackey and he can return to Boston and the American League as soon as the season is over. I doubt if Justin Masterson is even on the playoff roster.

Shelby was awful and it seemed that every time we went to a game, he was on the mound and he would take the loss. But then all of sudden he was lights out. Now, who knows?

And who knows about Michael Wacha, either? I doubt if even Michael knows if he’s got it or not. I sure hope so. Maybe he could be our closer. Well, probably not. Trevor, you’re still the man – at least, we think you are.

Lance Lynn was strong all year. And the Cardinals still seem to hit when he’s on the mound. Too bad he’s not on the mound more often.

The offense is anemic. But it will surprise you.

Oscar Taveras is a huge disappointment. So far.

Randall Grichuk is the best hitting .245 batter I’ve seen in a while. He’s fast. But not as fast as Peter Bourjos – who apparently is not a very good base stealer – even though he’s fast. Sometimes, he’s going so fast that he slides right over the bag and they tag him out. Lou Brock, please give poor Peter some tips.

Matt Holliday failed to bat .300 and failed to reach 100 RBIs. Yet he was clutch. And he’s normally not clutch. Matt was fierce on the basepaths. He has an enormous will to win – almost bigger than his forearms. If the Cardinals are smart, they’ll trade a pitching prospect or two and maybe a not so great younger left fielder next year for a proven hitter. Maybe Allen Craig.

Matt Carpenter had an off year, a funky year. Yet he still has an uncanny ability to get on base. As Matt goes, so go the Cardinals.

Then there was our pleasant surprise at shortstop. Jhonny had the most home runs of any Cardinals shortstop ever. And his glove was much better than advertised. The ball jhumps off of Jhonny’s bat – (at least when he hits it).

Yadi was Yadi. When he was gone, we treaded water. When he returned, things got better.

So now, here we go into the postseason facing Clayton Kershaw in LA where he’s almost unhittable.

I have very low expectations. In fact, I have virtually no expectations.

But I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the Cardinals facing off against Albert and David in a few weeks.

Throw the predictions out the window and Go Cardinals!


My return to painting, part II

A step in the right direction

It was back on June 24 that I posted I was going to jump back into the fray and begin painting again.

Here it is, the middle of September and this is all I have to show for it.

One very small canvas that looks like it may have been done by a 4th grader.

I had such grand ambitions.

Instead, I was saddled with a canvas that measures 9″ x 12″.

I felt like such a hack.

I used to air brush my skies, trying my best to create Magritte-style cloud formations. But currently, my downstairs office space is not set up for any air brush work. So it was all acrylic and brush work for me as I tried to jump back in to the painting game.

Some people might wonder why there’s a painting of a ladder in a field with a few tree branches jutting out from the side.

I do, too.

All of my paintings always start off as mini sketches. This one began as a ladder leaning against a brick wall. I even went out and took some photos of an old wooden ladder leaning against a wall and thought I was good to go. But the subject matter didn’t do a whole lot for me. It had no mystery to it.

Remove the wall the ladder was leaning against and suddenly, it became a little more interesting.

Figuring out how to make this happen from my limited skill set proved to be almost comical.

It all began with a return visit to Art Mart, a place I hadn’t set foot in for 16 years. Tom Jr. had bought me my tiny canvas, some brushes, a drawing pad and some paint for Father’s Day but I felt that I needed more supplies. I was determined to do something – anything to get back into it. I used to mask off quite a bit with my airbrush work and figured I could do the same with this painting, covering up the tree branches and ladder while I filled in the sky and the ground around it.

My sales rep at Art Mart said they no longer made the kind of 3M tape that I used to use all the time for my masking work so I bought some type of frisket or something that refused to stick to the canvas and was very tough to cut with an X-acto knife. I was stumped. So the canvas sat partially covered in frisket that was peeling up from the canvas for several weeks before I finally decided I could work without a net. I pulled up the frisket and began painting the sky, doing my best not to fill in the ladder. The clouds are abysmal.

But at least you know they are clouds.

So then I moved to the ground and I actually kind of liked what I did with it, crude though it is. The ladder was next and though far from perfect, if asked what it was, you would identify it as a ladder.

And if you have the benefit of seeing the sides of the painting (not shown here) you can tell the branches are part of a bare tree.

So all in all, I guess you know what this is.

You just may never know why it is.

But that’s why they call it art.

As to the title of this one?

A step in the right direction.



The beginning of the end

We went to the mighty St. Louis Rams season opener yesterday. It was a gorgeous Sunday morning and we enjoyed some pre-game festivities, walking around Rams plaza (or whatever it’s called) before the game. Bands playing, people tailgating, a mix of Vikings fans and Rams fans – all decked out in their respective jerseys. I saw a lot of Bradford jerseys and a few Michael Sam jerseys, too. Collector’s items.

Truth be told, in another year or so, all St. Louis Rams gear may be collector’s  items.

Yesterday was the start of the season. As we entered the dark confines of the dome, there was actually a noticeable buzz in the crowd. The on-screen graphics on that big, narrow screen were pretty well done. They got rid of the Led Zeppelin intro music. The National Anthem was well-performed and by the time they got around to the opening kick-off, it almost felt like old times – back when the Rams used to have winning seasons. That was more than a decade ago.

Then the game started and nothing happened. The Rams would complete a pass, then have a penalty. Run for a 1-yard gain, then have a penalty. The defense wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t really very good, either, and you just kept waiting for AP to break one or have some long bomb unleashed by the legendary Matt Cassel.

Still, they were only losing 6-0 when they got the ball back with a few minutes to spare before halftime. Maybe they could somehow get to the Viking 40-yard line and Greg the Leg could cut the margin in half. But no, there was a poorly thrown pass that should have never been thrown in the first place. Interception. Moments later, touchdown Vikings.

You could literally feel all the air go out of the dome. The Rams were deflated. Again. The second half was going to be a joke.

And it was.

I don’t even know how much of the game was left when we decided to get out of that dank, dismal dome and go take in some September sunshine.

When Jeff Fisher was hired, people were looking to him as some sort of savior. I looked at him as a football coach who had a career winning percentage that was barely above or below .500 (I can’t remember which it was but it’s well below .500 now).

Stan Kroenke has a lot of toys. In addition to the lowly Rams, he owns the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, the Pepsi Center where they both play, Arsenal Football Club which is one of the most valued sports franchises on the planet, the largest working ranch in Canada, 540,00 acres in Wyoming, a home in Colorado, another in Malibu and another one in Columbia, MO. He’s #92 on Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America and his wife occupies the spot immediately above him.

I’m sure that Stan is seeing how the Rams just aren’t faring too well here in St. Louis and he’s probably ready to pull the plug on his toy and move the team to LA or London.

So many people would like to say good riddance.

I’m not one of them.

I’m a person that believes having an NFL team in our city helps legitimize us in the eyes of the rest of the nation – but only to a degree. If we were to have two football franchises up and move, I don’t think we’ll ever see another one.

The bigger picture is this: if the Rams leave, it’s another sign to get out of Dodge to corporations. It’s another reason to not move here because unlike other major cities, we don’t have an NFL franchise. It’s another sign that we’re heading more in the direction of Des Moines or Topeka (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those places). We’re on a downward spiral, not an upward swing.

Despite what the national news media may tell you, there are great things going on in this city and this region. And yes, there are a multitude of problems that need fixing here as well – and whether or not we have an NFL football team really doesn’t even enter into the equation for many of those problems. I know that.

I also can see that the end is coming.

The Rams seem destined for mediocrity or worse this year. Sam has thrown his last pass as a Ram. Attendance will plummet. And before we know it, the moving vans will once again be packing up our team.

Can it be stopped?

Only Stan knows. And Stan is not telling.

Get ready for some monster tractor pulls, coming soon to a dank, dark dome near you.


25th anniversary of the demise of Kenrick Advertising

Coming back from a round of Labor Day golf today, I checked my email and saw that Steve Unger had sent me a message, letting me know that it was 25 years ago yesterday that Kenrick Advertising closed its doors for good.

25 years has created some cobwebs in my brain as the exact details are no longer quite clear in my head so hopefully, some other Kenrickian will clear up exactly what happened that day.

I don’t remember if we were shut down to begin the day or whether it happened after we were coming back from lunch. That seems to be the way I recall it – there were either armed security guards or police officers there to greet us as we got off the elevator at Aragon Place and told us to go grab our immediate belongings and get out.

Denny Long had filed Chapter 11.

Seriously? How could he? Why did he? You have got to be kidding me.

But it wasn’t a joke.

The third largest advertising agency in St. Louis and the only agency job I had worked at coming fresh out of college was no more.

Many of us gathered at Powers, a local Clayton watering hole that was the site of many a Kenrick gathering – both lunchtime and after work. I still remember Denny being interviewed on TV as the news of the shutdown made all of the local channels and how lucky Powers was that a beer bottle didn’t shatter the set. We were furious. We were dumbfounded. We were out on the streets without jobs.

In 11 short months, Denny had come in, purchased all of the Aragon Companies consisting of Kenrick Advertising, Aragon PR, MultaVista, Patrick Promotions, Kingsbury Graphics, Technisonic Studios and I think one or two others – Aragon Consulting Group and maybe some research-based company and before we could even celebrate a year with him at the helm he pulled the plug and abandoned ship.

Most of us didn’t see it coming.

But that’s life. That’s business.

I remember several of us meeting a few days after with hopes to save the company. Maybe buy it back, hold on to the key accounts we had, right the ship and all would be good again.

Turns out a few of us from that meeting had other plans. That was the birth of Brighton.

The rest of us had to fend for ourselves. And gradually, most of us somehow managed to land on our feet. Technisonic was purchased and continued on for many years. Quite a few Kenrickians went to Adamson. Geile-Rexford was born and turned into Geile-Leon and they’re doing great work now with a culture that is reminiscent of the Kenrick days.

I spent 16 years at Hughes and for the most part, it was a great place to work.

But it was never like Kenrick Advertising.

Maybe it was because it was my first real agency job. Maybe it was because I was in my 20s and didn’t know any better.

But I’ve never felt that.

Kenrick Advertising was a place that encouraged creativity. I used to think of it as a grown-up kindergarten, a place where I went to play and was encouraged to come up with big ideas that were totally targeted, totally focused but also out-of-the-ordinary. It’s where I learned the simple expression, “In order to do the extraordinary, you must resist the ordinary.”

There are so many great people that I got the opportunity to know through Kenrick.

Some are no longer with us. Others are scattered about the country. But most of us are still here in the midwest, many still here in St. Louis, many still doing the same kind of work that we were back then. Only different.

So to anyone that once worked in the Aragon Companies and particulary those who strolled the halls of KAI, wherever you are, join me as I raise a toast and pay homage to the many memories of Kenrick Advertising.