VOL. 131 | NO. 196 | Friday, September 30, 2016
The Press Box
The Press Box: Flawed Feathers, Grizz Preseason, and Dak’s Fame
By Don Wade
Wading in with a few thoughts as the baseball postseason nears, the Grizzlies get ready to play games that don’t count, and Dak Prescott’s new-found fame …
The St. Louis Cardinals, in all probability, will not make the playoffs. Oh, sure, as I write this they are mathematically alive for a wild card spot. They win out, they get help – the San Francisco Giants’ combustible bullpen being the most likely source – they could sneak in, even win the wildcard game, and find themselves facing the rival Chicago Cubs in the Division Series.
But do Cardinal fans want or need this?
Earlier this week, for the first time in a long time, fewer than 35,000 fans turned out for a game at Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals have been especially dreadful this year (34-43 at the point they had four home games left).
The Cardinals have been prolific in their home run hitting – 218 long balls through 158 games, giving them a shot to surpass the 223 they hit in 1998 (heart of the Steroid Era) and the second-most in franchise history; they belted 235 in 2000.
Of course, this is a trend all across the game this year: Going into the last week of the season, teams were hitting home runs at a rate of every 3.06 percent of their plate appearances – a record, with teams never before having eclipsed the 3 percent mark, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
The Cardinals’ problem is that unless they do hit a home run they’re not so good at getting runners in from scoring position. The pitching and the defense also have been less than championship caliber.
Give the Cardinals credit for being gritty this season but they are who they are at this point and easily would be the worst of MLB’s 10 playoff teams if they make it.
Maybe it would be better to just start working on plans for next season and avoid getting a first-hand look at the Cubs celebrating as they advance to the National League Championship Series.
Monday, Oct. 3 begins the Grizzlies’ preseason with a 7 p.m. game at FedExForum vs. the Orlando Magic.
“Feels like the season just got done,” said Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green.
Yes, it kinda does.
If you are a hardcore Grizzlies fan, or curious and wanting to be there for the first game under new coach David Fizdale, a word of warning: You won’t see a lot of the main players.
Marc Gasol is coming off foot surgery. Mike Conley’s 2015-16 season got shut down because of an Achilles injury. Chandler Parsons is not even playing 5-on-5 yet after a second knee surgery. And Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are – trying to be respectful here – a bit past age 30 and don’t need to waste minutes in early October. Their appearances will be fleeting at best.
Which doesn’t mean there are not some potentially intriguing minor plot lines. Former Memphis Tigers D.J. Stephens and Chris Crawford are on the training camp roster. Long shots to stick, yes, but you never know. The Grizzlies do appear to have some interest in Stephens.
And what about one-time Grizzly Tony Wroten? He’s back as a bit of an insurance policy if young players, most notably 2016 first-round draft pick Wade Baldwin IV, do not appear ready to spell Conley.
The Grizzlies picked up Troy Daniels purely for his shooting and early reports are that he’s at his own level.
“Something they’ve been lacking is shooting and that’s something I do very well,” Daniels said. He sounds confident, very un-Courtney Lee-like if you will.
Dak Prescott is the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys, which is not like being starting quarterback in Starkvegas.
So how is Prescott dealing with the fame?
“I guess I’ve been noticed more lately,” he said. “People in the drive-thru ask if I’m Dak. I tell them no, then tell them yes as I drive off.”
Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” Tuesdays at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.