Blogging takes a back seat

Maybe this was inevitable. My blogging rate has been on a steady decline the past two years. Though I have vowed to blog more in earlier posts, I’ve done the exact opposite.

I don’t want to talk about politics. There’s more than enough negativity out there as it is and I’m not interested in stirring things up.

I don’t have that much to say about sports right now. The Cardinals are already on a ledge with the loss of Reyes. The Blues are doing their usual thing of stirring up hope when in reality, they probably won’t get past the first round of the playoffs. Stan Kroenke and his endless greed is old news. April 4th will determine if we get an MLS team or not and I’d probably lean not though I wish it would go the other way.

I’d like to talk about the great progress St. Louis has been making recently. At least we’re staying out of the national spotlight and I know there are great things going on in this metro area but it seems like it’s always one step forward and two steps back or maybe a little side shuffle instead.

I could talk about the work I’ve been doing – lots of video production, some new broadcast campaigns I’m working on in sync with an agency and a few new business pitches here and there – but I haven’t really created anything earth-shattering.

Then there’s my art which I continue to pursue and I’m gearing up for my first solo show since 1994. Opening night is set for Friday, March 3rd at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s now less than two weeks away and there’s still lots to do.

Every day that goes by without posting something makes it that much harder to do the next. It’s so easy to just say no.

This blog post was like a Seinfeld episode. If you read it all the way through, you realize you’ve just read something about nothing.

I’ll try and do better on the next one but if you made it this far, thanks for coming along for the ride.

 

The Cubs, The Blues and Hell freezing over

It’s been a very strange sports year so far for St. Louis.

It started with the Rams moving (though that actually started years ago).

The St. Louis Blues had what has become somewhat of a normal regular season for them, once again, amassing more than 100 points which is truly outstanding considering the injury-plagued season they endured. But points only get you to the playoffs and though finishing second in a brutal division could be considered an accomplishment, the only thing that helped ensure was home ice against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.

When the Blues somehow managed to take the lead in the pivotal seventh game, I imagine that any St. Louisan tuned to the game was fully expecting a fluke tying goal to send it to overtime.

But it didn’t happen. The Blues beat the nemesis Blackhawks and moved on to the next round where last night they actually got to enjoy somewhat of a respite from playoff insanity by drubbing the Dallas Stars, taking a 2-1 lead in the process.

Could this be the year?

Granted, there’s a long, long way to go, even in this series. Right now, that Stanley Cup is about as near as …

the Cubs winning the World Series.

Yes, the Cubs are for real. They have hitting. They have great pitching. They have an improved defense. They have a fun, funky manager who has been to the World Series as a manager (though didn’t win).

Currently, they are steamrolling other teams, looking like they’re well on their way to a 100+ victory season.

Baseball pundits across the board picked the Cubs to go all the way. They’re playing loose, having fun and even all those day games at Wrigley may not slow them down. It’s enough to make any loyal Cardinals fan downright envious.

If the Blues do go on to win the Stanley Cup, there will be a seismic shift in the Universe. That just might unlock the key to the Cubs winning it all.

And if the Cubs do win it all, we all better start brushing up on the Book of Revelations.

The end is surely near.

No need to repent quite yet.

In the meantime, Let’s Go Blues!

 

 

 

Let’s sell some beer

Remember the days when Bud Light used to roll out commercials that would make you laugh? And then two or three weeks later, they’d roll out another one?

Now we get Ian, the guy who gets kidnapped and taken on an adventure that’s broken up into about five parts that’s played over and over and over again.

The first time I saw Arnold playing ping-pong it was surprising. Not so much on the 17th viewing.

Here’s a link to some classic Bud Light commercials ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSGySgH411A

Spend a few minutes watching them and you’ll long for the days when there was humor in TV commercials. I’m not sure what the current market share is for Bud Light. I wonder how many people are bothering to buy the bottle with the twist off cap. That commercial airs about six or seven times on every Cardinals telecast. All it does for me is make me think that if the beer isn’t good enough to drink in one setting, why would I want to bother to cap it off and drink it later?

Budweiser commercials seem to have knocked Bud Light to the back seat – at least from production levels. The recent Bud spot promoting the World Cup is extremely well done – but it might as well have been for Adidas because there’s very little correlation to World Cup soccer and Budweiser, especially in this commercial.

Budweiser Black Crown? I have yet to attend a party where everyone wears all black and dances on a 40-foot long table. I know I’m no longer in the right demographic but I’m not real sure what the demographic is for that Bud brand.

I do like the Bud commercial with the Major League baseball tie-in. The scene at the end of the commercial where the guy is walking into the stadium and we see it’s Busch Stadium is well done. I hope they’ve done that version of the spot for every ball park. If they have, that’s smart marketing. A toast to that one.

Other than that, I think A-B InBev has gotten way off track. They continue to try and introduce spin-offs or variations versus sticking to the tried and true.

Maybe their market research says the tried and true doesn’t work anymore. Or maybe TV advertising is simply no longer where it’s at when it comes to selling beer and everything needs to be experiential – sponsor major parties, do giveaways, generate trial. I know that all needs to be part of the equation and today it probably plays a larger role than ever before.

The Super Bowl is great for launching major campaigns and breaking out the Clydesdales and TV is a major star that can’t be beat in that regard. But when it comes down to what do you run on a Tuesday night for a local Cardinals Fox Sports telecast, we get to see a cap twisting off a bottle multiple times.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it.

Please A-B InBev – refresh thy brands.

 

 

Don’t hand the Cardinals the Division pennant just yet

Fresh off today’s 1-0 win over the Redlegs, Redbird Nation was all aglow with the prospects for this upcoming baseball Cardinals season.

Just like four out of four ESPN bracketologists picked Michigan State to beat Louisville in the upcoming NCAA final, it’s a bit early to rush to judgment.

True, the Cardinals team on paper should easily win the Division, move on to the playoffs, knock off the Dodgers followed by whoever is next in line and move on to yet another World Series where they rightfully claim their 13th World Series title that eluded the team last year.

Keep in mind, though, there are still 161 more games to be played and we don’t have the Astros to kick around quite as much anymore.

Mike Shannon used to say (and perhaps he still does), that great teams need a bopper and a stopper. We’ve got a couple of stoppers, of that there is no doubt. The bopper part, I’m not totally convinced.

Maybe Matt Adams will step up and hit 25-30 home runs. Matt Holliday can probably be counted on for 20 more and maybe Torty, Yadi and a few others can make up for the rest. I hope so.

And I hope all of these golden arms can stay healthy throughout the season. That’s really the key to the Cardinals’ future success.

Our starting rotation is deep. So deep that Mr. Martinez found himself in the bullpen and it turns out that was a great spot for him to be on this opening day.

Motte hopefully will be back soon. Who knows, Jaime Garcia might even return. It’s a pitching staff that virtually any Major League team would gladly do a wholesales swap and be happy with the results.

But we’ve got a long way to go.

Best thing to do is enjoy the present and not look too far down the line.

Right now, we’re in a 3-way tie for first and the Cubbies are only a game back.

That’s probably as close as they’ll come all season.

Go Cardinals!

 

 

 

Grey Day in St. Louis

  It was a grey day today for sports fans in St. Louis.

The Rams lost a game they should have won. The Cardinals lost their last game of the year played at Busch and now have to win two in a row in Beantown and that seems about as likely as the Rams beating the Seahawks did last night. The Tigers are re-grouping in Columbia, a homecoming weekend spoiled by a kick that went off the goalpost. The Blues won another game, teasing us once again with a fast start – but Lord Stanley is so far in the future and the NHL playoffs invite so many teams to the dance that it’s hard to give them any more attention than a page-3 story in the Post-Dispatch.

It was a weekend full of promise. Perfect fall weather, ideal for getting out and enjoying the turning of the leaves before they all end up on our respective front lawns.

Then things went south. Driving in to work today was a bleak ride, grey skies and rain in the forecast and nothing but gloom from the local sports talk radio chatter. This weekend, we fall back, re-setting the clocks so that darkness envelops us on the way home.

But all is not as grey as it seems.

We are in the World Series. Last time we played Boston, we couldn’t say that after the fourth game. We’ve got Michael Wacha on the mound tomorrow and the hope that the Cardinals bats will awaken from their weekend slumber.

The Rams aren’t totally without hope. I was at the game last night and thoroughly enjoyed the defensive performance put on by the team. The defense gave it everything they had and for the most part, so did the offense. I had very little hope once they got down inside the 10-yard line at the end of the game that they would somehow manage to score a touchdown. When Greg the Leg missed his fourth field goal of the night, the writing was on the wall. Had he made it, I was confident the Rams would win. Once he missed, I fully expected them to lose in a goal line stand with an inept final play of the game that can only leave you shaking your head.

It’s okay. Jeff Fisher is a career below .500 coach. We’re going to win this Sunday to put the Rams one game below .500. That’s about right where they belong and one of these days, Stan is going to make a decision to either pull up stakes and take his toy elsewhere or he’ll commit to St. Louis and maybe even build his own version of Cowboys Stadium – but don’t hold your breath.

Today was a good day for getting back to work.

St. Louis probably needed a day off, a chance to re-focus and get back to business.

We’ve had a great recent run of sports. But sports are merely a diversion – though they sure do a  pretty good job of being all-consuming, wrapping you up and tieing your stomach in knots only to hope for the exhilaration that comes with a game-winning home run (obstruction calls simply aren’t very exhilarating) kind of diversion.

I enjoyed the little respite and will be happy to go to sleep tonight without replaying the game I just saw in my head.

Wacha-mania resumes tomorrow night.

Enjoy.

(BTW – the painting shown is one of my favorite ones I’ve ever done and reminds me that it’s time to pick up the brush again and see what might come out on canvas once I put my mind to it.)

 

My plea to Mike Matheny

Hi, Mike.

Tomorrow is Game Six of the NLCS and I congratulate you and all the Cardinals for getting there. It’s been a great season and you’re in a position right now that only one other team in Major League baseball is in – win Game 6 and you head to the World Series.

It’s a big responsibility and as a manager you’ve got to do what you believe is right.

I’m sure that’s what you’ve done all along. All the right moves you made the night before last turned into all the wrong moves last night.

When you brought Pete Kozma into Game Four, he had an immediate impact on the game. His defense may have saved the night. Using Shane Robinson as a pinch hitter was pure genius – at least after he hit his home run.

Then there was last night – where you left Joe Kelly in for too long. Where you refused to use Shelby Miller and still, no one quite understands why. Where you brought in Edward Mujica – I thought it was actually an okay move for him to finish the sixth. He got an out. That was big. But you didn’t stop there. You had to send him out for another inning. Why, I, and the rest of Cardinals nation, can’t quite fathom. But you’re the manager. Maybe you thought the game was already lost and that there was no way the bats could rally for two more runs.

I don’t get that part.

I wasn’t too sure why Mr. Axford took the mound, either. I was completely bummed when he gave up the fourth home run of the day to the Dodgers – a team that hadn’t hit a single homer until yesterday.

But the Cardinals rallied. We had the tying runs on base, the winning run at the plate – only it wasn’t Shane Robinson with a chance to recreate his magic. It was Adron Chambers. I love his speed and I know he’s had some big hits this year. But none in the past 30 days. Two hits in his last twenty at bats doesn’t exactly say, “Yeah, he’s the guy you want at the plate.” But with our bench, it seems all your options are less than ideal. Shane at least would have made some semblance of sense.

The game wasn’t really lost in the 9th. It was lost when Joe Kelly gave up that fourth run when he probably shouldn’t have even been in to give up the third one. Mujica was insult to injury. Axford was damage beyond repair.

But that was Game 5. And we’re not here to talk about the past.

It’s time for Game 6. You may not have a lot to say in the outcome of this game. After all, you won’t be at the plate, trying to somehow get on base against Clayton Kershaw. But you are the one who pulls the strings.

Just remember, this isn’t a Spring Training game. The moves you make or don’t make will be analyzed, scrutinized and either belittled or praised.

You are a good manager. You are intense but you’re also balanced. You live the Cardinal way.

My plea to you: make us proud.

A great day to pass on the Rams

Sunday in St. Louis was a perfect weather day. The sky was a crisp, bright blue with nary a cloud. Temperatures were in the 70s with a slight breeze to knock a few early leaves off the trees to help usher in the first day of Autumn. It was a perfect day for golf (actually, I guess it was a perfect day for just about anything but I was fortunate enough to be playing in a four-man scramble in support of Caritas Connections).

So while the Rams took to the field in the Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium (naming rights to Cowboys Stadium were for sale so AT&T it is), I was taking to the links in Forest Park.

Apparently, the Rams were decked out in their all blue uniforms. I wouldn’t have known because I avoided the TV in the clubhouse bar and instead relied on my phone for occasional score updates.  I heard it was bad from the beginning and a brutal reminder to Rams fans of all the ineptitude and pathetic play that has been a part of this franchise for the last decade.

It’s week 3 and the panic button is just begging to be pushed.

But I won’t push it yet. The NFL has ups and downs every week – look at the Browns – their fans had written them off as of Thursday, then they turn around and win on Sunday. Look at the 49ers who got shredded in Seattle then returned home to lose to Luck and the Colts. Look at Jacksonville – well, never mind on that one.

Maybe, just maybe, the Rams will rebound from this disaster and somehow send the 49ers reeling to their third straight loss this Thursday night as an amped up Rams crowd (all 52,000 attendees) cheer on Sam and Tavon and fire up a D that has sprung all sorts of leaks. Maybe they’ll even get a turnover or two in their favor and not have such an abundance of yellow flags flying on punt returns and crucial downs.

Well, probably not.

Thursday night just might be the night the Cardinals clinch the National League Central.

So I already know that if things get bad down at the Dome, one thing will definitely be different – it won’t be a great day to pass on the Rams – it’ll be a great night.

 

Where have all the good commercials gone?

When was the last time you saw a commercial that moved you? Stopped you in your tracks? Made you think or laugh or say, “I wish I had done that”?

I was thinking that this weekend.  Granted, my TV watching isn’t what it used to be and I know that you’re not going to be blown away by creativity when all you watch is Cardinals games on Fox Sports Midwest, mixed in with a dose of the evening network news and capped off with the local news wrap-up.

Still, I do manage to see some TV beyond that and when my favorite commercials are the AT&T guy bantering with the little kids and an occasional Under Armour or Dick’s spot that tell me that every pitch, every swing, every catch, etc. starts with Dick’s, I find myself wondering, “Where have all the good commercials gone?”

Most of them don’t live on TV anymore – :60, :90 and even 3-minute versions of commercials now stream on the internet but you need to know where to find them.

St. Louis, in general, is not that place.

I went seeking inspiration this evening and I found a bit via this blog http://www.creativebloq.com/3d/top-tv-commercials-12121024

Most of the commercials on here were not done in the states and not every commercial here is available. But if you like creativity, and you’ve been not only missing it, but craving it like I often do, I recommend you set aside 15 minutes or so and enjoy some of the amazing creativity on here.

There’s one spot for Ikea that is extremely enjoyable. There’s another for a baby food that is a joy to watch. There are some amazing special effects on display, great story-telling, great humor – and it makes you wonder, where did it all go?

Especially with local TV advertising. Please, someone out there, tell me three good local commercials that have been done in St. Louis over the last year. Can you even name two? I think Toky did the recent Panera’s campaign and those are fun to watch unfold and tell a good story. Those are the only local commercials I can think of that I would even think of saying, “I wish I had done that.”

Is it that local advertisers are afraid to take risks? If you’re going to spend money on TV advertising these days, that in itself is a risk with the fractured audiences that you get. Have budgets been chopped down so badly and media dollars spread so thin that we can’t afford to spend the production dollars on TV commercials anymore – the cost just doesn’t justify the return? Has St. Louis turned into such a digital driven market agency-wise that we simply don’t know how to do great broadcast anymore?

These are the things I wonder. These are the things I ask.

I’d love to get some opinions on this.

In the meantime, visit the link and see what you’ve been missing.

In-between the Rams and the Cardinals

The dog days of August are upon us and already it’s tough to figure out if the brunt of my sports-following should shift from the Cardinals to the Rams.

I’m worried about the Cardinals. And I’m not nearly as optimistic about the coming season for the Rams as most media types seem to be right now.

The Cardinals are no longer the best team in baseball. In fact, if tonight’s current score ends up with the Cards on the losing end again against the Dodgers, they will slip to the 6th best overall record. In July and August, they’ve been treading water, barely able to stay above .500.

I went to last night’s game and it essentially ended on the second pitch of the evening when Shelby had a line drive careen off his elbow and turn into a double. The Redbirds escaped that inning with no runs scored but you could just sense it was going to be a long night and indeed it was – so long that I bailed before the 8th inning arrived which I normally hate to do – but in this case, it proved to be a wise move as the Dodgers added on four more runs before the shellacking was complete.

Wainwright seems on the verge of having a tired arm. Westbrook seems to have forgotten how to induce ground ball outs which is where he thrives. There’s no telling how the outcome of Shelby’s elbow will turn out and when your two most reliable pitchers are Lance Lynn and Clark Kent (I mean Joe Kelly), you have to worry just a bit about the pitching staff through the end of the year.

Still, even if the Cardinals finish third in their division, they still might qualify as a wild card come playoff time which just doesn’t seem right.

Hockey is made to have third place teams qualify for the playoffs. Baseball shouldn’t be that way.

So then there’s the Rams. The Steven Jackson-less Rams. The Sam Bradford-led Rams. The same old Rams?

I don’t know.

I’d like to believe that Tavon Austin will be a human lightning bug, flitting around and generating electricity everywhere he goes. I want to believe in Sam ‘Big Play’ Bradford – but I don’t. I’d like to think the starting line will give Sam the time to throw and open holes for our Steven Jackson replacement backs. But I’m doubtful. I’d like to think the defense will be able to continue the progress they made last year when they by far out-shined the offense and were actually capable of keeping teams from scoring on almost every possession. But who knows?

You can’t really tell anything from the preseason except who gets hurt and knocked out of future games. A few years ago they went 4-0 in the preseason and then proceeded to completely collapse in one of their all-time seasons for ineptitude.

As I wrap this up, the Cardinals are currently losing 4-1 in the seventh and the Rams are losing 20-13 in the 4th.

The Cardinals need to get back to their winning ways and hopefully the Cubs will help them in that cause this weekend. And the Rams need to survive the preseason without having any major catastrophic injuries.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to try and follow both. But it sure would help if they would make themselves a little more worth following.

Go Rams. Go Cards.

Let’s get through this month. Then the real fun begins.

What will you be watching?

The direction our country takes in the coming months may be on the line tonight as the last presidential debate takes place. Unfortunately, most St. Louisans will probably only hear sound bytes or read about it on websites or in tomorrow morning’s paper as Game 7 of the NLCS gets underway about 50 minutes before the first, “That’s not true” is spoken.

Meanwhile, Monday Night Football features a good clash between the Bears and the Lions that may pull more viewers away from the big debate.

On a national scale, I don’t know what percentage of Americans have been tuning in to the debates – but I know those numbers are going to take a major hit in the St. Louis metro area and on the West Coast.

If tonight’s Cards-Giants game is anywhere close around the 8 o’clock hour, many Americans might choose to see the two teams battle it out versus the two presidential contenders trading barbs. There won’t be as many stare downs or circling the opponent tonight, either, as both Mit and Barack will be seated at a table with the moderator in-between the two.

Batter vs. pitcher has the potential to be a lot more compelling.

It’s a shame the debate couldn’t have taken place tomorrow night. There would be no competing baseball or football and with the NHL season on ice, there would have been virtually no sports contests to lure Americans away from tuning in. The NBA is in pre-season mode and the WNBA wrapped up last night – (in case you didn’t know).

But that’s not going to happen and the show must go on.

Same with the games. I know that tonight I’m going to be a Bird watcher and I’m planning on continuing that watching on Wednesday. Between commercial breaks, I might flip over to MNF.

So tonight’s presidential debate won’t have much influence on my voting in November.

Does that make me a bad citizen?

Nah, just a normal one.

Go Cardinals!