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.

 

A special salute to the Stan and Jeff show

The Los Angeles Rams are not the worst team in the NFL – though I imagine that if they played Cleveland home, away or in Stan’s Emirates Stadium in London that the Browns would somehow manage to come out on top – maybe by like a 5-2 score.

Jeff Fisher has the chance to go into the record books as the coach with the most losses in NFL history. With Stan Kroenke's backing, he should easily take the record to new heights (or lows).

Jeff Fisher has the chance to go into the record books as the coach with the most losses in NFL history. With Stan Kroenke’s backing, he should easily take the record to new heights (or lows).

Even though they’re not the worst, they will soon have the coach who has been on the sidelines of more losses than any other coach in the history of the game. That is quite a distinction and certainly worthy of a 2-year contract extension to assure that Jeff Fisher manages to firmly cement his name at the top of the list as the biggest NFL loser of all time.

Stan Kroenke is certainly astute enough to know that when he’s this close to a record, he’s got to go for the gusto and with their band of Merry Pranksters, they should be able to virtually guarantee another two years of ineptitude to really rack up Jeff’s loss total to unapproachable levels.

The Rams are already irrelevant in Los Angeles. They rank in the bottom tier of TV ratings for NFL cities overall. Other NFL games not involving the Rams have drawn more viewers in La-La land than Rams games multiple times this season. The amount of empty seats is more prevalent in L.A. than it was here. Today’s slaughter was witnessed by 53,979 brave souls, most of whom were probably stuck in traffic somewhere by the time the 4th quarter rolled around. That’s almost 40,000 no-shows.

Together, Stan and Jeff share that special Alfred E. Newman ideology of, “What, me worry?”

Why would they? Jeff Fisher is getting about $7 million a year to lead the charge of this pitiful product. Stan is in the midst of constructing a new NFL palace that also will have attached retail and living arrangements and he owns all the land.

He is not someone I would want as a landlord (just ask the hundreds of people on the Waggoner Ranch down in Texas). Once the stadium is built and the area is developed, Stan will be rolling in even more riches – provided of course, that the city of Los Angeles doesn’t demand that the Rams leave and stop shaming their city.

It’s all kind of comical to watch and I know I’m not the only St. Louisan attuned to their failure. Personally, I’m hoping that Stan tears up that two-year deal and instead, signs Jeff to a lifetime contract so that the Rams can continue to go on to 4-12 or 5-11 seasons into infinity.

So congratulations, once again to Jeff Fisher. I’ll be pulling for you to break the record this Thursday night on national TV. The Seahawks should be more than motivated to help you make history.

Okay, Stan, you win

(Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com)

(Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com)

As a long-time St. Louis Rams season ticket holder, I have seen a lot of lows over the past decade. Dropped passes. Offsides after offsides. Interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles, games that were over before half time – the list goes on and on.

The futility never seems to end. Our draft picks, as a rule, are generally a bust. Free agency signings have been awful. Trades go south. Players get concussions and stay in to give away games. Other players get concussions, get sent back in and then get removed again, concussed by their own teammates.

St. Louis is guaranteed, once again, that we will not have a winning football season.

It’s all a broken record. It’s David Byrne, singing, “Same as it ever was” over and over and over.

This weekend, walking in to the fabulous Edward Jones Dome, it felt more like we were on our way to a funeral than an NFL game. And in a way we were.

The Rams days here in St. Louis are numbered. Coach Fisher says if you think the players have given up, “you can kiss my ass”.

Bottoms up, Jeff. They’ve given up.

Firing your offensive coordinator is only going to lead to more penalties, more botched plays, more offsides.

It’s all playing out exactly how Rams owner Stan Kroenke hoped it would.

Hire a lifetime under .500 coach. Stop all communication with the city and refuse to speak to any reporters. Make the fan base loathe you.

Congrats. You win.

We loathe you.

We’re tired of watching this sad sack of a team.

When they put up the “Make some noise” message on that pathetic scoreboard that has to be among the worst in the NFL, it’s all a joke. There is no reason to make any noise.

I was bummed when we went for it on 4th and 2 from the whatever yard line we were on in the 4th quarter. I knew there was no way the Rams would get a first down. I wanted to cheer another 3 points, watching the team double its output for the day.

They failed.

It’s all so unfair.

Stan Kroenke should be docked pay. He should be penalized for mismanagement. Instead, he’s going to make out like a bandit, earning millions upon millions when he moves this sorry franchise back to Los Angeles. And we’re going to be stuck with a dome, trying to book tractor pulls and indoor rodeos while we wait for spring training to roll around.

Stan wins. We lose.

And I’ll say it again. It’s just not fair.

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.

 

What’s the plan, Stan?

The media-shy, billionaire owner of the Rams is playing poker with the city of St. Louis and he now holds a pretty good trump card.

As usual, he refuses to give any insight as to his future plans for the as of now, St. Louis Rams.

It seems like this has been going on for years – and it has.

I think I first heard about the top-tier clause in the Dome lease agreement as early as 2008 though it’s been present from the time the Rams and the leasing parties signed the deal, all but assuring that this thing would boil to a head when the lease finally expired in 2014, granting the Rams a free pass to go to whatever market willing to take on the privilege of calling itself an NFL city.

Take a look at the list of major metropolitan markets (for St. Louis’ sake, you can’t measure this area by city size due to our city-county split) and there is only one market out of the top 20 without an NFL franchise.

That would be Los Angeles.

Stan just bought 60 acres there, which is more than enough room to put in a new stadium but not quite enough room to build an NFL kingdom. Still it’s enough to get everyone’s attention.

St. Louis is number 19 on the largest metropolitan area list that I googled, though they called our metro area St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington and I don’t quite consider Farmington to be in our immediate metro area. Still, somebody does and from that population mix we roll in at more than 2.8 million people.

The majority could probably care less whether or not we’re an NFL city. They don’t want their tax dollars being allocated to helping Stan make even more money than he already has, caving in to the demands to build a top-tier stadium somewhere between St. Charles, St. Louis and downtown Farmington.

The whole process angers me. If Stan decides to play that trump card and move his franchise elsewhere when the lease comes up, we’re stuck with a dome that would be used about 10-15 times a year. And if he does decide to stay, we have to somehow dump about $700 million into making it better which seems preposterous – or build a brand new stadium somewhere, again, leaving the dome a place that is used about 10-15 times a year.

It seems like a lose-lose situation for St. Louis no matter how you look at it.

One would hope that Stan Kroenke might decide to be a civic hero and have a community forever indebted to him by dropping a billion or so into the franchise to make those improvements to the stadium on his own or buying a parcel of land and then building a new state-of-the-art Kroenke-Dome that would make Jerry Jones jealous.

But that’s not going to happen.

Stan has four professional sports franchises in his portfolio. I don’t think he plays favorites and the way things have gone recently, the Rams are probably at the bottom of his list.

He has a city that’s backed into a corner. He’s got a plot of land in LA that could be a future home. He also owns a really nice football (soccer) franchise over in London and would probably love to be the first owner to bring the NFL across the pond, opening a new era of international football.

I have no idea what’s going to happen.

I won’t say St. Louis needs the NFL to be considered a major city or that having the Rams here makes this area a better place to live and work. I certainly don’t consider Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville or Oakland to be anything close to an ideal metropolis. Without an NFL team though, I’d knock those cities down a few more notches in my own personal mindset.

Bottom line, I hope Stan stays.

I guess we’ll find out.

 

 

 

 

 

Take a stand, Stan

The Rams will not make the playoffs this year. Again.

They won’t have a winning season. Again.

They’ll be lucky to win one more game of their three remaining matchups and will probably finish in the bottom third of the NFL standings. Again.

So what’s Stan Kroenke supposed to do with this mess? He didn’t cause it, did he?

He made what almost every media person said was a great coaching hire by bringing in Jeff Fisher – who before joining the Rams had a winning percentage slightly above .500 and now enjoys one that is slightly below.

I’m not upset with Coach Fisher and from everything I’ve read, neither is his team.

It’s not Jeff’s fault that Sam Bradford shredded his knee. Sam wasn’t all that mobile to begin with and unlike many who have had Tommy John surgery, I don’t expect him to find new-found mobility or ability when he returns next season. The Rams have a quarterback problem. Again.

It’s not Les Snead’s fault that Tavon Austin hasn’t quite had the breakout year we were all hoping for. Tavon had that one game with the punt return, the end-around and a few great grabs and he’s had a few great returns called back because of penalties which the Rams seem able to accumulate faster than points. But it’s hard to be a major flash when you’re running a guy who weighs about half of what a defensive lineman weighs up the middle. He’ll get better next year, I’m sure.

It can’t be Brian Shottenheimer’s fault that the offense hasn’t quite jelled. We lost our QB. Now we’ve lost our center. We shifted to a power running game without having a power running back. And all these games are now beginning to take their toll on Zac Stacy who has taken the place of Daryl Richardson who took the place of Steven Jackson who has had his own problems down in Atlanta.

It can’t be the fault of the Rams receiving corps, either. We didn’t really have a shining star to begin the season and though Pettis, Quick, Cook, Bailey and Kendricks have had their share of drops, who can blame them when Sam was rushing his throws and now Kellen is still trying to find his groove?

Maybe it’s the fans fault. I’ve been to three Rams games so far this year and will be at the upcoming debacle against the Saints this Sunday. Our seats are in the end zone and the majority of games we have been surrounded by fans of whatever opponent the Rams were facing. Upper tier seats generally show their lovely purple colors because no one is sitting in them. It’s hard to fill a stadium when your team has one of the lowest winning percentages in the NFL the last 10 years and there’s really no reason to be optimistic that things are going to get better any time soon.

No, it’s not the Rams fans fault.

I’m going to place all the blame on the Invisible Man.

Just once, it would be nice if Stan Kroenke would emerge from his mansion in Columbia, Missouri, or one of his two mansions in Colorado or one of his other mansions in Malibu Beach or his 124,000 acre ranch in Montana or his Steamboat Springs duplex or whatever dwelling he may have in London when he’s watching his Arsenal team in action and come out and say, “Hey, St. Louis, I’m committed to the Rams being here and we’re going to turn this organization into something that would make the Rooney family jealous in Pittsburgh and create a dynasty where season tickets get passed on in wills like in Green Bay.”

But that’s probably not happening. We’re stuck with one of the richest men in the world as an owner who has other priorities and who, if he had the chance, would probably move the Rams back to L.A.

But the NFL has basically reserved that spot for an expansion team and moving across the pond to London-town is still a concept that is far, far away.

So the Rams are going nowhere, playing in a second-tier stadium with a lease that’s about to expire. The fan base is fed up with losing and afraid to really support a team led by an owner who never shows up for games or comments on the state of the team or gives any indication that he has any intention whatsoever of keeping the team here.

It’s a big, sad, mess of a football franchise.

Please, Stan, take a stand.

Tell St. Louis your vision for the Rams. Let us know where you stand and maybe that might help right the ship.

That would be the right thing to do.

But I’m not holding my breath.

 

 

 

Be a season ticket holder, get a free Rams hat

The Rams first moved to St. Louis in 1995. Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?

I remember going to the very first Rams game in St. Louis – it was at the old Busch Stadium and if memory serves me correct, they managed to beat New Orleans in that game to move to 2-0 on the season. I don’t think the rest of the season went very well but professional football was back in St. Louis and that was a good thing.

We tried to become PSL holders for that first season but our name wasn’t selected. In year two, my in-laws, along with Chris and I became season ticket holders and we’ve been going ever since. Same seats every year. Section 129, row GG, seats 13 & 14 (I could be wrong on the seat numbers). We were there for the great years.

We’ve been there for all the others, too.

This year, we renewed our season tickets, knowing that there may not be many more years where we get the opportunity to see professional football in St. Louis (that supposedly includes the Rams). As a great token of their appreciation, the Rams rewarded us with a Rams hat. But this is no ordinary hat – on the back, it states, Rams Season Ticket Holder.

Wow!

I am so glad that Mr. Kroenke had the wherewithal to dip into his coffers and award us long-time season ticket holders with such a prestigious gift. They’ve really gone all out to warm our hearts and our heads. (We’ll have to take turns wearing it, though.)

If I could, you know I’d be wearing the hat with pride over in London when the Rams take on the Patriots in what would have been the best football game of the year in St. Louis. But that’s a really tough there and back both time, and money-wise – so we won’t be at that game.

I’m hoping that maybe this year they’ll add a special add-on to the “Rams Rules” video that was such a big hit with fans and the YouTube crowd last year. This one can be on how to properly wear your Rams hat at games – when to take it off, when to wave it, etc.

The Rams have a new football coach this year, several new players and a brand new ad agency – Boxing Clever. ¬†Hopefully, Boxing Clever weren’t the masterminds behind the big hat giveaway.

Mr. Fisher, the new players and Boxing Clever all have their work cut out for them.

I hope they all have us cheering and loving the 2012 edition of your St. Louis Rams.

And if they do, you know what?

I’ll tip my hat to them.

Extreme housing

The front page of today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch had two extremely interesting stories. (I guess that in itself is news.)

One showcased the new proposal submitted by the St. Louis Rams for the renovation of the Edward Jones Dome. The other covered a new controversy brewing over a proposed tent city that would go up on property leased by Larry Rice off of Vandeventer near Highway 44. Talk about compare and contrast!

As a co-PSL holder for all but the first year of the Rams existence here in St. Louis, I have seen good times and bad times at the Dome. The bad certainly outweighs the good but I always tell myself on game day that I’m getting to see professional football in action – and the Rams are playing, too.

I definitely want the Rams to remain here in St. Louis and I’m all for progress and building construction of any sort to take place downtown. When was the last time a major new building or structure went up in the downtown area, anyway?

Busch Stadium? That cookie-cutter design still disappoints me. To me, creating a new sports venue should be seen as the chance to make an architectural statement, creating something that is truly unique.

The actual playing field of a baseball stadium should not be messed with – no hills in center fields with flagpoles to potentially run into, no garish multi-colored walls or cascading waterfalls – that’s not necessary. But the outside presentation is the chance to shine and the Cardinals ownership group dropped the ball, going the route of seven other throwback-style stadiums. It’s nice, but certainly uninspiring, particularly when your stadium is number eight in line.

So what about the new plans for the Dome? Personally, I like just about everything I read about with one exception.

Do we really need a retractable roof?

Two NFL preseason and eight regular season games take place each year. They also mention the possibility of a college game being played there, maybe even a Super Bowl. Professional soccer is another possibility but I somehow don’t see 68,000 fans lining up to see nil-nil MLS draws for a franchise that we don’t even have right now. And if memory serves me right, of the 12 possible football dates I mentioned, at least half would be taking place in November, December, January or maybe even February. And I would just as soon sit in the confines of 70 degree, climate controlled comfort rather than sit outside in temperatures that hover at or below the freezing mark. But maybe Mr. Kroenke knows more about global warming than I do and St. Louis really is turning in to the San Diego of the MidWest so on every game day we should pop that baby open and let the sun shine in.

The little $700 million dollar price tag is going to be a tough sell in this market in this economy. Maybe if they subtract the roof and the deluxe flushing toilets I read about, they can get the price tag down around $500 million. Considering the going rate for NFL stadiums these days, that would be a bargain and in the end, the whole area would benefit – but just like the federal debt, we’d probably be passing on the burden of paying for the Rams new roost to our children. And I know it doesn’t sit well with many people when you have a multi-billionaire at the helm who’s asking others to pay the freight so he can earn even more money.

Perhaps Stan could do us all a favor and chip in $200 or $300 million to cover part of the price tag. We’ll gladly call it the Kroenke Dome if he’d like. Then again, he’d lose money via the naming rights so forget about that.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the well-meaning Larry Rice proposing to build a new tent city (no retractable roof to my knowledge). Though I applaud his actions and I understand his intent, I just don’t think a tent city is the answer to anyone’s problems, even the homeless. As we recently learned, tents are not storm shelters. When nasty weather hits them, bad things happen. There’s also the issue of sanitation – with no running water, no toilet facilities (with no fancy flushing), no utilities and no real ordnances to cover how many people can live there, it just doesn’t seem very well thought out and doomed to failure.

So St. Louis has two proposed new structures that both seemed destined to fail – one because it costs too much, the other because it probably doesn’t cost enough. In either case, I just don’t see St. Louisans ready to pitch in and help.

Will we be able to find a middle ground on either one?

Doubtful.

What do you think?

The London Rams

News came out this morning that our 2-14 St. Louis Rams will now be giving up one home game a year to go play in London.

The Rams are spinning it that this is a tremendous opportunity for St. Louis, a chance to showcase our fine city to the world and build our international fan base.

Yeah, right.

I can just see boatloads of Londoners making their plans right now to make that trans-Atlantic journey to come watch the Rams in action as they take on the Seahawks in a fierce battle for last place in the NFC West.

Give me a break, Mr. Kroenke. You might as well announce your plans right now that you’re moving the Rams to London. This is your time to be seen as the visionary who brought professional football across the pond to show all those Europeans what real football is all about. You own the stadium already and surely Arsenal will be willing to give up a few Sunday dates and play on a slightly beaten up field to accommodate their new stadium mates, the London Rams.

I’m sure NFL players will be excited about the opportunity. The Raiders, Seahawks, 49ers and Chargers will all be thrilled to take the short, 13-hour flight to play the Rams in their new home and then make the happy return trip, victory in hand as they prepare to play the next week, still a little jet-lagged but better off for the experience.

I imagine they’ll have to re-do the conferences. It was hard to justify how the Rams were members of the NFC West when they were in St. Louis. It’s really going to be a stretch when they reside in London. I guess maybe they’ll be new members of the TransAtlantic East division.

We’ve been PSL holders since the second year the Rams arrived in St. Louis. We enjoyed the glory days of “The Greatest Show on Turf”. But overall, we’ve seen a lot of really dismal football. I’ve always maintained that it’s fun to go see an NFL team in action – who just so happen to be playing the Rams. The past few years, we have renewed our season tickets, paid for those totally meaningless pre-season games and kept hoping that maybe this is the year they turn things around.

Now, we have one less home loss that we don’t have to attend. When the Rams leave St. Louis, I don’t think we’re going to be in line for another NFL franchise any time soon. That is a horrible shame and I truly mean that. To me, it’s just another indication that this city and this region is moving further down the ranks and continuing to become more of a flyover city than an international hub.

I can’t stand that. I can’t do much about it. Mr. Kroenke and his multi-billions could.

But all signs indicate that he prefers tea and crumpets and warm beer.