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Archive for the ‘The Greatest Sports Town’ Category

STEVEN JACKSON GETS AWARD

“Personally, I like the small feel to St. Louis,” opined the NFL’s highest-paid running back Steve Jackson, 29, between takes in an interview with Post-Dispatch sports scribe Bryan Burwell Wednesday night at the Ritz Carlton.  Jackson paused and chirped, “I feel like a rookie all over again.” He arrived with his sister, Rhonda, who said she manages affairs between her brother and management.  They live in their native Las Vegas near their parents: mom, a real estate agent and dad, a casino pit boss at Caesars Palace. Steve and Blues owner Tom Stillman received visionary awards at the “Dining in the Dark” dinner benefiting the Foundation Fighting Blindness at which guests wore masks while dining to simulate blindness.  An auction was held by Blues KMOX  play-by-play announcer Chris Kerber.  The proceeds of the event from more than 250 benefit research and cures for retinal degeneration disease. Sports figures including the Cardinals’ John Mozeliak, a national trustee of the foundation, Kevin Demoff, exec veep of the Rams, and Bruce Affleck, COO of the Blues were on hand as well as a round of medics including Drs. Alan Londe (reconstructive surgeon) and Daniel Jasper (internist), who had just bowed his boutique practice and confided, “It’s about $1,700 a year for each patient and less than daily cups of Starbucks.”

 

SUPER BOWL XLVI: AMERICANS TO SPEND $11 BILLION

More than 173 million Americans are expected to spend $11 billion on party essentials including 3D televisions, team decor, apparel, food and beverages. Of those  expecting to watch the game, almost 63 million are planning to attend a party – up from last year’s 61 million, according to a new survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.  About 5 million have or will buy a new television especially for the day. While commercials are king for the day, there are many companies using more cross-channel methods to draw viewers to their own websites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. . .Meanwhile, American Express has shot out a promotional pitch to card-holders: “Immerse yourself in a truly European experience. . .Costa Concordia is sailing Feb. 25.” Yep. The ship that sunk and lost passengers. . .Then there’s Coronet Travel’s Joan Kiburz:“How about the way the Republicans are burying each other and giving President Obama enough material on them for his campaign?”

CARDINALS ON ANOTHER TOUR – THE CARAVAN

Another storm hit Joplin with the arrival of Jason Motte, Shane Robinson and Mitchell Bogg during the team’s visit there for a Q&A and discussion with students, helmed by KMOX’s Mike Claiborne.

SEC FOOTBALL IS READY FOR YOU

One happy effect of Mizzou’s move to the Southeastern Conference is linking up with high-powered teams across Dixie whose rabid fans love to travel.  Especially happy are hoteliers in Columbia, where rooms are booking fast for this fall’s football season: Sept. 8 hosting the Georgia Bulldogs, Oct. 6 welcoming Vanderbilt’s Commodores, the Crimson Tide of Alabama rollling in for a big game Oct. 13 and Kentucky playing Oct. 27 as the Tigers’ designated homecoming sacrificial Wildcat. A dozen Columbia hotels are already full booked for homecoming, which is always thickly attended, but excitement is about the new conference action which has lodging filling up for Georgia and Alabama especially. The luckiest travelers are booking the cozy Victorian Taylor House Inn Bed & Breakfast near campus.  The smartest about handy logistics are reserving space at the rustic-decor Stony Creek Inn, an easy fall stroll down Providence Road from Faurot Field.  Across Providence Road from the Stony Creek, the party-minded are already calling about private dining rooms at Grand Cru Restaurant, George and Mariel Liggett’s cozy establishment.  George’s pride is the adjoining Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge, his blue-smoke oasis for the good life in smoke-free Columbia.  Norm Ruebling’s MO-X shuttle vans are familiar sights making the I-70 run between Lambert Airport and Columbia, but Norm’s fleet is now being specially booked for safely transporting SEC football revelers with designated drivers.

BOOKMARK

To borrow the title from Kevin Horrigan‘s book, “White Rat,”  the Rat’s alive after suffering a fall on his head.  That’d be Whitey Herzog, television pitchman for everything from organized labor to hearing aids and in between. The 80 year-old remains legendary and Hollywood’s casting directors in the palmiest days could not have created a Cardinals manager who looked more like him.

THE SPORTING CROWD

The holiday party for board members of the St. Louis Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame at Miller’s Crossing salutedLee Thomas, the former Beaumont star and Cardinal and Philadelphia g.m., who has just been named to the Baltimore Orioles’ front office staff. Toasting Thomas were Ron Edgar, Jerry and Les Mueller, Larry Donovan, Brian Korbesmeyer, Lee Engert, Ray Cliffe, Pat Sweeney, Brian Richardson, Jay Mason, Nate Crump, Rich Barr, Hank Greifzu and Keith Schildroth.

TONY LaRUSSA & MEASURE OF THE MAN

David Letterman

David Letterman

One way to take the measure of a man is watching his ability to come back.  Maybe he bounces back.  More often, he may work his way back deliberately, and with variable levels of pain, and not just physical pain.  The mental, the emotional pain of the struggle is as much a challenge as the physical.  Frequently, more so.

THE PHYSICAL:  Tony LaRussa’s decision to retire caps a remarkable comeback of the most personal, physical kind.  The eyes on that guy – the unwavering eyes of a poker player.  He can see the opposition’s flinches and hesitations.  He can see his own strong men arrayed and moving, many plays ahead.  Does he ever blink? Yet at the start of the championship season, Tony’s most intimidating eyes had angry, ugly affliction. He kept working as his eyes got worse.  It was shingles, which any sufferer can tell you it inflicts awful pain.  But, he came back.
THE MENTAL:  In his visit to David Letterman’s set Monday evening,

Tony LaRussa

Tony LaRussa

Tony spoke of some key advice to his team after the shared rejoicing of a Game 6 for the ages.  It was great. It’s over. On to Game 7. “Put it in a box. Start from scratch.”  What Tony was saying is, a World Series is a series of worlds, all framed by a white diamond, all with a first pitch and a final play.  Grown men get a fresh chance every night.  Yes, a chance to come back and sometimes it’s a great challenge to come back from a victory as a loss because of exhilaration and expectations.
THE EMOTIONAL:  As he spoke to Letterman, Tony gestured with a large championship ring weighting down one hand.  Soon, he will have to select a finger for Ring Number 3.  This from a man who signed to play the game at age 17, and, as he told Letterman, a man who is now a veteran of 50 years in professional baseball and 33 seasons as a manager.  As he looks back. this man who often showed anger and frustration at failings on the field as well as nettlesome nitpickers off the field, can allow himself a smile.  He expressed gratitude to Letterman for leading a team in a great baseball city like St. Louis.  Most places, he told the host, stick with you whether you win or tie.  St. Louis, he declared, is with its Cardinals, win or lose.  As for retirement, Tony says, “It just feels like it’s time.”  That talent for gut instinct has served him well, and the timing does seem opportune – again the Cardinals are world champions, thrice under his watch. May Tony, who turned 67 on Oct. 4, keep on winning in his happy new world, sustained by the certainty that his way is to come back every new day.

ALBERT PUJOLS & HOW TO KEEP HIM

Can you just imagine these headlines in 2050? “Remember when the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011?”  “Baby conceived naturally, Scientists stumped!”
Centene’s Mike Neidorf was pressed tighter than Kim Kardashian’s push-up bra at Tony’s the other night by his glammy wife Neomi, while the couple toasted St. Louis Symph chief Fred Bronstein and 12 others over dinner.  The Symph is the place to be over the weekend when it screens the original “Phantom of the Opera” for a Halloween fest Friday-Saturday and “The Composer’s Dead” concert on Sunday. . .Prominent barrister Jim Gunn was nearby, celebrating with fellow alums of SLU High. . .SLU profs Matt Daniels and Aaron Johnson of the Dept. of Fine & Perf. Arts remain jubilant over their Tavern of Fine Arts in the DeBaliviere nabe. Also at SLU, a new partnership is in the works with Oxford University in a study abroad program. Over at WashU, a committee has been formed to create a new sorority. At Mizzou, Michelle Obama will be paged for a food symposium in March to talk about nutrition. . .Wendi and Norm Pressman caught the Rep. alum Jared Gertner as a standby for a lead in the Broadway production of “Book of Mormon” and he performed that night. Theatergoers remember him well from a standout on the boards at the Rep of “A Funny Thing”. . .Longtime barrister Larry Fleming was put on probation by the Mo. Supreme Court for some unstated ethical violation for at least the second time. . .Elliot Smith, who shuttered his contemporary art gallery on McPherson Avenue, has taken his life. Smith had moved to Ft. Lauderdale and then went to NYC, where he was found dead. .  . .Stephen and Phyllis Suntrup are calling it quits. . .Here’s how to keep Albert Pujols here, according to T.J. Birkenmeir: $10 million a-year for seven years; 9-15 percent ownership interest in the team; Earmark half-1percent of all food concession receipts for duration of his life in a 4-way split to The Pujols Foundation, Cardinal Glennon Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital. . .David Guggenheim, son of the late prolific documentary producer, Charles Guggenheim, is readying his next thriller, “Medalion,” starring Nicholas Cage. Dad Charles was beckoned to our town to become the director of KETC, one of the first public television stations in the U.S.. . ..America Traffic Solutions is applauding the ruling by the Mo. Court of Appeals that red-light safety camera programs don’t conflict with state law.

A CARDINALS WIN & HAPPINESS

Don’t want to keep you away from last night’s rites, while the Cardinals and baseball remain in paradise. Game 1 ratings: the program beat ABC’s “Modern Family” with 12 million viewers; “Modern Family” garnered 11.8 million. GM’s Chevrolet 60-second commercial, “Then and Now”, with vintage photos of America’s eternal brand, seemed to connect with today’s viewers. So, advertisers should be happy about the ratings.

Happiness is just a thing called  Joe, according to the old Woody Herman record.  Happiness, said Charles Schulz, is a warm puppy (it is also a warm bun on your hot dog at Busch Stadium). Other happiness. Hearing a Texan say, “Boy, this city is even better than I’d heard.” Finding a parking meter with 40 minutes remaining while picking up your tickets at the ballpark.  Finding Soulard on a map. A Pakistani protesting millionaires. Jim Vangle of Charlie Gitt’os noodle nook on Sixth Street preparing and delivering to the Rangers’ locker room at Game One: stuffed mushrooms, salad, chicken marsala, linguini montamara, meatballs and penne pasta with broccoli. A better breakfast at the Goody Goody compared to a Texas breakfast of mustard greens and biscuits and gravy. Greaseless fried chicken from Dierbergs is unrivaled especially by that at Bob’s Chop and Steakhouse in Dallas. How about the chauffeur snugly asleep behind the wheel of a limo outside Busch, while his employer sleeps comfortably inside a luxury suite?  The Cards fan in that suite catching cold and getting the first Kleenex out of the box without tearing it. The Cardinals winning tonight’s game. That’s happiness!

CARDINALS FAN & HERO

Of all the Cardinals fanatics who will be watching the World Series, super-fan Mark Lindquist may be the most heroic one you’ve never heard of. But you have heard of the tragedy that changed his life and the lives of so many others – the devastating May 22 Joplin tornado. Mark was the professional caregiver for three mentally disabled teen-aged boys, all scrambling for safe cover at a Joplin group home as the tornado bore down. Mark and co-worker Ryan Tackett covered the three with a mattress and then they laid on top to try holding it in place. While the wind howled and the roof tore away, Mark told Ryan: “If you have ever prayed, now is the time.” Pray they did. Tackett survived the twister that killed 162. But the three young men they tried to protect were killed. Mark Lindquist could not be found. But there was a John Doe, barely alive, pulled from rubble two houses away and carried to medical help on a battered door used as a stretcher. Three days passed before Mark Lindquist’s brother described his brother’s unusual hazel eyes with a large brown fleck – and an intensive care nurse realized she had seen those eyes on John Doe. Thus Mark Lindquist went from caring for the helpless to being cared for around the clock. He spent seven weeks in a coma – every rib and his sternum broken, lungs punctured, right arm dangling from a body with no right shoulder and he had a rare fungal infection doctors now say affected many Joplin tornado injured. Mark’s vehicle was lost in the tornado. He has no job. He had no health insurance, with bills from one University of Missouri medical center alone topping $1 million – hardly offset by meager proceeds from the sale of his home. On top of this misery, Mark was denied workers’ compensation by his employer’s carrier, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, based in Lansing, Michigan. Incredibly, the workers’ comp insurers said Mark was at no greater risk than anyone else when the tornado hit Joplin – even though he put himself in danger trying to protect the three disabled teen-agers rather than seeking shelter just for himself. Mark’s employer is upset by the denial as well, and appeals are under way.Amid all this, Mark, age 51, is astonishly cheerful – partly because of his beloved Cardinals making the World Series, and partly because while he was recovering, he was reunited with a lady friend who accepted his marriage proposal while holding his head as he became ill. Now THAT is love. And, Mark tells The Joplin Globe’s Wally Kennedy, he is happy just to be alive, though still mourning the young men who died. “All I could do was cover them up with a mattress and tell them it was just a drill like we had done so many times before. I would have liked to have saved just one of them. All I know is that God saved me for a particular reason,” Mark tells Wally.Mark Lindquist will continue his recovery at his brother’s home in southwest Missouri, where he will watch the World Series in his battered old Cardinals cap. Surely someone at the Cardinals organization can come up with a new cap for a hero. At least.
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