What I’ve Learned So Far in St. Louis by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

For seven weeks, I’ve been a St. Louisan as the program director of 101 ESPN – one of the best sportstalk radio stations in America.  This is the first move my family has made in 18 years, and the first time as bona fide adults.  There is a lot to know, and I’m picking up as much as I can as quickly as I can, and it’s a challenge.

Here is a list – a bit of a primer – of the lessons for those considering a similar change in course:

Selling a house is not cheap, and it’s not easy – All those accommodations home owners make to the age of their home are exposed and corrections must be made.  We replaced or updated a long list of items that had been petty annoyances for years.  There is a feeling for us that we want those who trust us enough to buy our home to be very happy with their choice.  We owe it to the buyer to make sure everything is right, so we replaced faucets, carpeting, and shower doors.  Julie and Ryan worked their asses off to make the backyard the wonderful getaway that we always wanted it to be.  I wish we had done it years ago, so we could have enjoyed it more.

The best part of the house not selling in the first two weeks it has been listed is that we have absolutely no idea where we want to live in St. Louis.  City?  Country?  Near work?  Near golf?  In the woods?  In a town?  Julie, Ryan, and I have no idea where to land.

Driving 280 miles each way every weekend isn’t that tough – The drive between Indianapolis and St. Louis isn’t a bother at all.  I enjoy a little solitude now and then, and the almost four-hour drive is a simple and mindless jaunt without a metropolitan area in between.  101 ESPN has a huge signal – I can hear it almost all the way to Terre Haute – so listening uninterrupted is easy and because the product is high quality, very enjoyable.

With family in Indy, working is all there is to do in St. Louis – People always say that there is no such thing as work if you love what you do, and that’s true.  Maybe that’s why I don’t mind being in the office from before eight to after seven most days.  It also helps that my option is another night alone in my hotel room at the Doubletree.  Nothing against the Doubletree, but all things being equal, I’d rather be in the office.  When Julie and/or Ryan move out here, that will change a little bit as the discipline to devote time for family is every bit as important as the discipline of working hard.  I learned that while working in Indianapolis – accepting more and more responsibility as a manager’s faith.

Meeting new people can be joyful – I’ve never been a gregarious guy with new people.  It has always taken me a significant period of time to feel comfortable with strangers, but that seemed more a choice than a psychological disorder, so I told myself to ignore the impulse to dip my toe in the water before easing into the social pool.  I jumped in, and continue to get lunch with people as though they will be future friends rather than longtime strangers.  Let’s face it, I’m not George Clooney or Sam Bradford, so people aren’t going to tolerate my social reticence because in the end it will be worth it.  Fortunately, St. Louisans are a welcoming bunch, so I’m having a great time introducing myself to people I haven’t met.

St. Louis is a cool city (not in climate) – The people in St. Louis tend to stay in St. Louis, so there aren’t a huge number of ambassadors running around the midwest extolling the many virtues of the ‘Gateway to the West’.  That might be how St. Louisans like it.  The city is like some secret along the Mississippi that some very lucky outsiders occasionally wander into.  Getting around town is a challenge, but well worth it.  It ever a midwestern city was built for GPS, it’s St. Louis, but the rewards of a meal on ‘The Hill’, a trip to Rams Park for practice, or a game at Busch Stadium has all been more than worth it.  There are an endless series of suburban towns – some of which are forest filled and rural, while others are very typical.  The people, as I mentioned earlier, are very friendly.  People told me when we decided to move to St. Louis that its people are “very provincial”.  If they meant people are proud of their hometown, they were right.  But I got the impression that they meant the people were cold to outsiders.  I have found that purely false.

In a related thought, heat is relative.  It’s been really hot and humid since I got to St. Louis, but it no longer bothers me at all.  It’s not a dry heat, but it’s a heat that is easy to ignore.

St. Louis is a great golf town – I like golf.  Rather than a good walk spoiled, I see golf as a great hike enhanced.  St. Louis has beautiful and affordable courses.  The grasses are very hearty, so the divots are small.  My shoulders and elbows throb a bit after a round in Indy.  The turf is so loose that I can get a little deep with divots, and the shock of the impact causes some aches and pains.  In St. Louis, no such worries.

Baseball is good for sportstalk – During summers in Indianapolis, the only major league – and I realize I’m stretching the definition of the term ‘major league’ – is the WNBA.  That’s right, from the end of the Pacers season through the opening of Colts camp, the Indiana Fever are the only game in town.  St. Louis, with the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues, is a 365 day sports town.  People love all three teams, and all are committed to bringing in high character guys.  I love it.

The Cards are great – I know that as a lifelong Cubs fan, I’m supposed to somehow hate the Cardinals, but they play the game the right way.  Despite the Cubs current run of seven straight wins, they continue to run the bases like tools, miss cutoff men, and swing at pitches outside the strike zone.  Rooting for the Cubs, where no culture of winning exists, is a brutal exercise in futility.  The only culture is of unearned exorbitance.  The Cards are completely unlike the Cubs.  They play baseball the right way.  I have long thought that Albert Pujols is the best hitter I have ever seen, but watching him night after night it’s clear that his excellence extends beyond what he does with the bat.  While not fast, he might be the smartest baserunner I’ve seen since Roberto Clemente.  He wins games by taking the extra base, and that surprised me.  Maybe he is just on a great run of luck not getting thrown out, but over the last seven weeks, I’ve been stunned by his smart aggression.

All NFL teams are not run like the Colts – There is no denying the consistent excellence of the Colts over the last decade, but there is also no denying that their treatment of the media is more than a little off-putting and unnecessarily paranoid.  The Rams are the opposite.  I stood next to Rams GM Kevin Demoff for a half-hour the other night talking about all kinds of things, and it struck me more than once that doing the same with a member of the Colts front office would be almost unthinkable.  At one point with Kevin, I excused myself because practice was ongoing.  He said, “No, no, stick around.”  I have great respect for Bill and Chris Polian (and like both), but it’s nice to know there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to dealing with the media.

It’s hard to argue with the success the Colts have achieved, but I believe the same results (or better) might be gained by relaxing a little bit and enjoying the company of people who want nothing more than to help build the popularity of the franchise.

Working and writing are not compatible – I would love to write more often, but it’s impossible.  To those of you who enjoy this website, I apologize for not being more active here, but as I get more and more settled, hopefully I can find the time and energy to write things worth reading.


Week 5 fantasy football preview by justinwhitaker

By Justin Whitaker

After taking my bye last week, I’m back and ready to help forecast Week 5 of fantasy football in the NFL.

The Studs

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts versus Kansas City Chiefs

Manning could easily be in this spot every week but this week’s situation makes him King Stud.  The Kansas City secondary ranks 24th in the NFL in passing yards but once Manning gets done with the Chiefs look for them to be even lower. The first quarter of the NFL season’s MVP will continue his hot streak this week.

Projected Stats: 335 yards, 3 TDs

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills

While MJD started off slow, the bowling ball is slowly but surely on the rise. Look for MJD to be a strike this week as he rolls over the dreadful Bills defense who give up a league worst 31.2 points per game.

Projected Stats: 125 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving, 2 TDs

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions versus St. Louis Rams

As evident by the fact that Shaun Hill is throwing him the ball, Kent Sterling or myself could be throwing him the ball and he would be having an All-Pro season. If Johnson had an elite QB, his statistics would be the best in the league year in and year out. Due to St. Louis’ lack of corners expect a big day out of the Georgia Tech product.

Projected Stats: 9 catches, 120 yards, TD

Honorable Mention: Matt Schuab, QB (300 yards, 3 TD), Matt Ryan, QB (275 yards, 2 TD), Arian Foster, RB (115 yards, 2 TD), Jahvid Best, RB (150 total yards, TD), Roddy White, WR (7 catches, 115 yards, TD), Reggie Wayne, WR (8 catches, 110 yards, TD)

The Duds

Gotham City's former DA and Joe Flacco's alter-ego, Two-Face.

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens versus Denver Broncos

Thus far Flacco’s season has mirrored Batman villain Two-Face. One half of it has been really good (Week 3, 262 yds and 3 TDs) and the other has been dreadful (Week 2, 154 yds and 4 INTs). Champ Bailey does a great job limiting a team’s No. 1 receiver so look for Anquan Boldin to struggle in this game also. Flacco will be Harvey Dent’s bad side in this game, stay away.

Projected Stats: 220 yards, TD, INT

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers against Oakland Raiders

After all the preseason hype and SI.com’s Peter King stating, “Take Mathews in the first round, he’s worth it.” Well sorry to burst your preseason bubble Mr. King, but Mathews has played more like a waiver wire drop. He’s 100% owned in all ESPN league but 100% a bust up until now. Sure it’s only Week 5 and he’s been banged up, but 156 yards and a TD is something he should’ve had in a game, not three. Plus look for Mike Tolbert to steal a lot of carries since he’s actually playing well

Projected Stats: 10 carries for 42 yards, 2 catches for 15 yards

Anyone seen Marques Colston?

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals

Whenever you are shopping at your local Marsh, Kroger, look at the back of a milk carton. If Colston isn’t there, no one knows where he is. He’s had no game with over 5 catches or 67 yards and no touchdowns. It’s not like the Drew Brees in the Saints suddenly starting running the Maryland I. Something is off sync here, but up to now, Colston has been a huge disappointment.

Projected Stats: 4 catches for 38 yards

Honorable Mention: Matt Cassel, QB (250 yards passing, TD, 2 INT),  Beanie Wells, RB (15 carries for 54 yards), Joseph Addai, RB (12 carries for 36 yards), Braylon Edwards, WR (3 catches, 40 yards), Dez Bryant, WR (4 catches, 27 yards)

The Sleeper

Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns versus Atlanta Falcons

Having back-to-back games of over 100 yards and a score in every game doesn’t make you a sleeper, but playing for the Cleveland Browns does. With all of Hillis’ success this season, no one is really noticing because of the team he’s on and the rarity of the success of a white running back. But jump on the bandwagon now, he’s getting all of the carries in Cleveland and has been successful so far. Just hope the bandwagon doesn’t break down before everyone else jumps on.

Projected Stats: 115 yards rushing, TD

Honorable Mention: Carson Palmer, QB (275 yards, 2 TD), Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (105 yards, 1 TDs), Jeremy Maclin, WR (6 catches, 100 yards, TD)

Sports From the Couch-Views From the Couch by jshowal2

By Jeff Showalter

It’s time to take a look back and then look ahead at what’s going on in this crazy little world of sports.

Bad news for Colts fans as Melvin Bullitt is gone for the year with a broken bone in the shoulder. I’m amazed Bullitt has lasted as long as he has considering the dude ways a buck ninety at most. I don’t care what the Colts say he ways. The Couch has stood beside Bullitt and there is no way he is over 2 bills. With Silva out, Bullitt out and Sanders out (like that was a shock), it looks like the Colts are going to be looking for a safety. You can only take “next man up” so far and Safety is too big a deal in the cover 2 defense. Tampa Bay is also looking so I would guess the Bucs list would be similar to the Colts since they play the same D.

Look Hoosier football fans, I wanted my alma mater to win as much as the rest of you but let us be honest for a minute. Bill Lynch isn’t going to win you a lot of football games with his coaching expertise. If the dude could coach, he wouldn’t be at Indiana. You can not have “co-defensive coordinators”. All that means is both guys suck and what you get is a defense that is SLOW, unprepared and incapable. Chappell threw for 480, but when you know your defense is jello, you have to have a QB that is perfect. Not many QB’s are perfect. IU does need to throw downfield more because good defensive teams are going to keep 8 back and bust the wide receivers up on these short routes.  IU has to stretch the defense. Of course after OSU hangs forty on the Cream and Crimson Saturday, it will begin to look more and more like another 4-8 season in B’Town.

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Indianapolis Colts Start Season a Week Late – Thoughts About Manning Bowl II by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

One thing is for sure.  It’s unlikely the Colts will either look as good again as they did last night, or as bad as they did against the Texans in week one.

  • Kevin Gilbride Is a Moron

Whether the season is a success or not will depend upon which level of effort they can bring more often.  Too bad the Colts only get to face a Kevin Gilbride offense once every four years.  Buddy Ryan tried to wise him up more than a decade ago with a straight right hand, but he’s still just as dumb as ever.

Most games, Colts fans watch their team to gauge their effort and energy.  Last night, the Giants first offensive play was an end around.  Ask any second-grader at Fishers Elementary what the Colts defense is built upon and the response from the little imps will be “Speed!”  Gilbride decided to fire his first salvo directly at the Colts strength.

Predictably, the result of the play was failure, and that set the tone for the game.  The Colts gave up one meaningful positive play to the Giants, and the offense looked as poorly directed as it executed.  It’s hard to tell – even in watching the game again – whether the Colts were great, the Giants sucked, or if it was a combination of both.  The Colts were light years better than the Giants, and they definitely have the right Manning brother.

Gilbride is to offensive coordinators what Jimmy Carter was to U.S. presidents

  • Which Colts Team Is Real?

Two weeks in, the Colts are the least consistent team in the NFL.  Which team shows up in Denver will likely be the group that fans see throughout the rest of the season.  No one should expect Mike Pollard to roll over the top of DTs through an entire game again as the Colts roll to 124 first half rushing yards, but the Colts are not nearly the team who rolled over late against the Texans.

  • Mathis Is a Monster

Robert Mathis was a beast last night, and there are going to be tackles that he owns.  He is the most disruptive second best pass rusher on any team in the NFL, and he is obviously closing the gap between his talent and Dwight Freeney’s.  If Mathis is still 1B, it’s not by much.

  • Peyton Manning – a Savant?

The one guy for the Colts who is there week in and week out is #18.  I’m not sure in what state the non-football areas of Peyton’s life are, but most people I’ve known who are unbelievable good at one thing, suck at everything else.  Manning’s work ethic is beyond question, and he is always prepared to compete against every team the Colts face.  That takes time, focus, and diligence.

Choosing to dedicate time to one thing inevitably robs it from another.  Life is all about choices, and Manning has consistently chosen football first, branding second, and whatever is third has to suffer greatly.  Devoting all of your energy to everything is impossible, so if one area gets great energy, the others cannot.

Manning has been brilliantly successful at keeping the public away from his personal life.  We know virtually nothing about Manning’s life off the field, and the rumors spread very quietly and slowly.  He is the guy we love to watch play, but really don’t care about otherwise.  Striking that balance might be Manning’s greatest feat.

I live in Indianapolis, and talk to people who should know what Manning does in his spare time.  I can count the number of weird stories on one hand.  He’s been here more than 12 years.  There are almost constant rumors about he and Ashley divorcing, but they keep showing up together at charitable events.

  • Jim Caldwell’s Eyes Are the Driest Surfaces on Earth

It’s rained less than an inch at my house since the end of July.  The grass that used to be so green is now totally brown.  It is still comparatively moist compared to Jim Caldwell’s irises.  He never blinks – never.

At the press conference that announced him as the guy who would replace Tony Dungy as the coach of the Colts, he spoke for 20 minutes.  No blinks.  It took me three or four minutes to realize that he hadn’t yet blinked, so I started to pay close attention.  Never blinked – not once.

I’ve spoken to him at length, only because I wanted to see if he ever blinks.  I stared at him and prattled on and on about nothing as he waited to be interviewed by Dan Dakich on 1070 – The Fan.

For seven minutes I spoke to Caldwell, and paid almost no attention to what I was saying because I was waiting for him to blink.  God knows whether I made any sense because my brain was entirely tuned to Caldwell’s eyes, and I didn’t blink either because I sure wasn’t going to blink and miss his simultaneous blink.

I finally ran out of gas, and ended my monologue.  Caldwell wore me out.  I still have yet to see him blink, as I wait for proof of eyelids.

  • Wade Phillips Is the Most Successful Failure in NFL Coaching History

Without looking at the paragraph following this one, guess how many times in eight previous seasons as a head coach Wade Phillips’ teams posted a winning record.

The answer is seven.  I was shocked when I saw that.  How could a coach with an 81-56 career record be viewed by experts and fans everywhere as a failure?  He’s 1-5 in the postseason without a single trip to a conference championship game, but now with his fifth team as a head coach (two of those were quicky interim deals with the Falcons and Saints) he has had only one losing season – 7-9 with the 1994 Denver Broncos.

Yet, when people talk about Phillips, whose almost constant look of bamboozlement on the sidelines doesn’t help his image, it’s usually in terms reserved for resolute losers like Rich Kotite.  Phillips is in his fourth season at the helm for the Cowboys, and after an 0-2 start, people are calling for his head.  The record of his previous three seasons with the Cowboys?  13-3, 9-7, 11-5.  So after an 0-2 start, Phillips has to go?

Colts Dominating NY Giants Through First Half by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Everyone in the world of sports journalism will appropriate the Mark Twain quote, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  While the quote is as hackneyed as it is germane, I would hope for more from clever scribes.

The Colts looked like a sack full of ass last week against the Houston Texans.  Couldn’t run or stop the Texans from running.  Tonight, the Giants have been just as bad, only Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-conspirator, where his brother was the only class in the Colts act in Texas.

The first play from scrimmage for the Giants, following a precise touchdown drive by the Colts to open the game, was a reverse.  The Colts greatest asset defensively is speed, and the Giants reverse?  That gain of one might have been the high point for the Giants offense, who looked thoroughly outmanned, out-schemed, and out-hit.

The Colts run offense that ranked 31st and 32nd in the NFL during the past two seasons had no problem at all moving the ball, and minus a Reggie Wayne drop, the Colts were perfect as they built a 24-0 first half lead.

Peyton was as good as Eli sucked, going 13-of-18 for 154 yards, but the story was how the Colts ran the ball.  Joseph Addai carried 13 times for 80 yards, and Donald Brown chipped in with 10 rushes for 44 yards.  One stat you can take to the bank, if the Colts average 5.4 yards per run, they will beat anyone.  the first half total of 124 yards was nearly 50 more than their average during the past two years.

An 18-5 advantage in first downs tells the story of the first half as loudly as any, although Eli’s passer rating of 6.3 is telling.  Peyton’s rating of 135.0 gives the almost constantly televised faces of parents Archie and Olivia something to be proud of.

Despite getting throttled through the first half, Giants coach Tom Coughlin stuck with his run-first philosophy on offense, running 13 times, and throwing only eight times.  That was necessitated by the Colts domination in time of possession – 19:10 to 11:02 – (someone tell the stat crew that totals more than 30 minutes.

The Colts played an almost perfect first half.  Let’s see whether they can finish.

Colts Try to Avoid First 0-2 Start Since ’98 by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The Indianapolis Colts have suffered slings and arrows of the media all week after looking terrible in losing to the Houston Texans in the openers last Sunday.  ESPN’s Mark Schlereth was the most egregious in his assessment of the Colts, saying the their slow start is in part due to the way the team approaches the preseason, as though this preseason was any different from the last decade when the Colts compiled the best September record in the NFL.

If the Colts have truly seen the beginning of the inevitable slide back to mediocrity, the reason is personnel not the methodology of preparation in Anderson.  Whether Jim Caldwell rode the Dungy wave last year and now that the team is truly his there is a slide also bears discussion if the Colts can’t right the ship tonight.

As the Colts built the team that won Super Bowl 41, they enjoyed some very successful drafts.  During the last four drafts, that luck turned south.  Take a look at the first and second round picks from 1996-2005 (overall draft position in parentheses):

1996 – Marvin Harrison (19), Dedric Mathis (51)

1997 – Tarik Glenn (19 ), Adam Meadows (48)

1998 – Peyton Manning (1), Jerome Pathon (32)

1999 – Edgerrin James (4), Mike Peterson (36)

2000 – Rob Morris (28), Marcus Washington (59)

2001 – Reggie Wayne (30), Idrees Bashir (37)

2002 – Dwight Freeney (11), Larry Tripplett (42)

2003 – Dallas Clark (24), Mike Doss (58)

2004 – Bob Sanders (44)

2005 – Marlin Jackson 29), Kelvin Hayden (60)

There were a few second round misses, but that’s life in the NFL.  When giant men collide at high speeds, tendons, muscles, and bones are in jeopardy.  The only first round whiff was Rob Morris, and he wasn’t a bad player for the Colts.  The rest were very productive, and four might wind up in Canton.

It’s easy to look at those drafts and see how they put together seven straight 12+ win seasons.  The sheer tonnage of talent aggregated there is stupefying.

Now let’s peek at the drafts from 2006-2010:

2006 – Joseph Addai (30), Tim Jennings (62)

2007 – Anthony Gonzalez (32), Tony Ugoh (42)

2008 – Mike Pollak (59)

2009 – Donld Brown (27), Fili Moala (56)

2010 – Jerry Hughes (31), Pat Angerer (63)

The good news is that all those players, minus Jennings, are still on the roster so the real value of those picks can still move upward.  Most have failed to move the Colts needle forward at all.  Jennings was a total bust as a corner.  He was an open-up corner (the absolute opposite of a shut-down corner).  Teams picked on him wherever he was on the field.

The Tony Ugoh pick was expensive, as he not only represents a wasted second rounder, but also a spent first-rounder (29) Bill Polian traded to move up from 63 to 42 so they could grab him.  The 49ers drafted a fellow named Kentwan Balmer, who was traded this past offseason to the Seahawks for a future sixth round pick.  That pick was a bust, but 11 picks later the New Orleans Saints took Tracy Porter, who would have looked a hell of a lot better in a Colts jersey during last year’s Super Bowl than he did in a Saints jersey.

It’s too early in the careers of Brown, Moala, Hughes and Angerer to tell whether they are going to be legit contributors to a great team in the future, but to this point the past five drafts have not measured up to the standards Polian set during his wildly productive 1998-2005 era.

Here’s an incontrovertible rule of sports – good players win, and great players win a lot.  Bad players lose, and terrible players lose a lot.  The Colts should still win more than they lose, but the run of 12+ win seasons will end.  That will happen not because of Jim Caldwell, the way they prepared for the season, or because of some cockamamie curse.  The Colts will finish 10-6 because the talent is good enough to win 12 games.

ESPN’s NFL Analyst Mark Schlereth Is a Boob by kentsterling
September 17, 2010, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Indianapolis Colts, Kent Sterling, Media | Tags: , ,

by Kent Sterling

On today’s afternoon’s loop of ESPN’s Sportscenter, Mark Schlereth offered an absurd explanation for the Colts losing their first game, and his prediction of the first 0-2 start for the Colts since 1998. Schlereth ascribed the Colts poor performance against the Houston Texans to their lack of passion and focus in the preseason.


Minus the aberration of the 2008 season when quarterback Peyton Manning was still recovering from two knee surgeries – one of which involved an infection that caused Manning to lose a lot of weight – until the Colts lost last Sunday, they had not lost a single game in September since 2004.

That’s right, Schlereth believes that the Colts, undefeated coming off the preseason with a string of wins in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 that extended through the first month of the season and sometimes well into November before losing a single game, take the wrong approach to their preparation in the preseason.

It’s hard to sit in that studio and be right about everything, but Jesus, how’s a guy paid that well to know shit about 32 teams and that’s all get that wrong?

That’s exactly the kind of high-handed supposed wisdom that spews from the mouths of guys who don’t do the work needed to get it right. You will never hear Merrill Hoge say anything that dumb because Merrill does the work needed not to sound like some boob on a sportstalk radio show in Peoria – no offense to any host in Peoria.

ESPN should be better than that. All they have is people in Bristol who look-up stuff just like this. You walk through ESPN in Bristol, and there are rooms filled with people doing research so their talent don’t sound like idiots. Still, Schlereth manages.

Sports fans deserves more than the shoddy work Schlereth did today. We all make mistakes, but a simple google of “Colts seasons” is all he needed to not sound like a fool.

I would paste a video clip of it, but if you are that interested, take a look at the Sportscenter running all afternoon.