Time to panic for St. Louis sports

Bradley Piros, Assistant Sports Editor

Happy Halloween everyone. It’s every sports fan’s favorite time of the year. The World Series was just crowned to the 108-win Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Rams continued their undefeated run against Aaron Rodgers’ Packers and the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson just broke the NBA three-point record set by his own teammate. Needless to say, it’s a crazy month in sports. But that’s not what I’m here for.

I’m pretty upset. The best news I’ve heard all month is that St. Louis finally are in contentions to get a new MLS (Major League Soccer) team. But with the Cardinals crashing and burning out of playoff contention, and the Blues worst start to a season in years, I’m here to tell you why it’s time to panic if you’re a St. Louis sports fan.

Let’s start off with the Cardinals. This team really made me believe this year. Sure, the beginning of the season was a little slow under manager Mike Matheny, but they were still above .500 after the first half (48-46). They maintained pretty steady, still above .500 and at this point still chasing the Cubs in a close race with Milwaukee.

Then August happened; Matheny was sacked, and Mike Shildt was promoted to head coach. He led the team to winning 22 games over the course of 31 days, including an eight-game win streak as they swept the Miami and Kansas City. They won 10 series in a row and really looked like they could have leapfrogged Chicago and leave Milwaukee in the dust.

September went a little worse. Losing series to some of the worst teams at the time in the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers. I mean come on, those should have been easy sweeps, but instead they lost both series two games to one. They went on to win two against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then lose three straight to the Dodgers.

After this series, it was panic mode. They made up for it, winning their next two series against Atlanta (2-1) and then sweeping San Francisco. This left them in pretty good shape for a wildcard spot, as Milwaukee had caught up and passed us by this point.

It was down to this, our last two series of the year, the Milwaukee Brewers at home and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley. Well what happened? That’s right, the Cardinals were swept by the Brewers. I went to one of those games and watched as MVP hopeful Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun celebrated their playoff berth on our field. Oh, and then we lost the series to the Cubs 2-1 which officially ended the Cardinals season.

So, what can we do? Sign Bryce Harper. This Cardinals team relied heavily on the bat of Matt Carpenter. He led the National League most the season with 36 homeruns but was eventually passed by Yelich and a couple others. He finished with an OBP (on base percentage) of .374 and was an all-around solid player offensively and in the field as well. But he needs help, serious help.

Signing Harper and having that combo, along with the likes of Jose Martinez, Marcel Ozuna, Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong and Matt Adams, and all of a sudden, we might have a pretty solid batting lineup, not to mention how good these players all are at fielding too. This signing most likely won’t happen, but it would rejuvenate the team and give it the much-needed life to make it back to the post season.

To be honest though, I’m not exactly a baseball guy. I’m a Cardinals fan and I’m a St. Louis fan over anything else. I can’t wait to get this MLS team. I’ve said for years if it finally happens, I will be a season ticket holder. So, I have that to look forward too, but for now all I have is the Blues, and oh boy have they been a letdown this far.

Ten games into the season and we only have three wins. We’re last in the Central division with only nine points. Now this is a team that I finally bought in to. We made all the right moves in the offseason. Bringing in new offensive additions like Tyler Bozak from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ryan O’ Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres. St. Louis native Patrick Maroon debuted in his home city after leaving New Jersey and David Perron returns for his third stint with the Blues from Vegas.

Robbi Fabbri and Nikita Soshnikov are healthy and playing again with our AHL affiliates. We finally have the depth, but for some reason, the Blues just can’t figure it out. It’s not that we aren’t scoring, we have 36 goals still. I’ve been watching every game, and they usually start well at least.

The Blues kicked off a seven-game home-stand against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It started fabulously, taking an early 2-0 lead. Then they tied it up. Then they scored two more. We scored to make it 4-3, but then they scored three more. We scored a consolation goal to end it but fell 7-4 after leading by two. I turned it off at 4-2 because I just couldn’t stand to watch anymore.

Then we played the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues finally showed their potential in this game. Chicago finally got their starting goalie in Corey Crawford back, but it didn’t matter, as he watched the puck fly into his net seven times. I went to the first Blue/Blackhawks meeting of the season, and once again I was upset as I sat and watched Jonathan Toews score a breakaway goal to end the game in overtime 5-4. Then the Blues lost 4-3 in the second meeting, also in overtime, this time over at the United Center, but third times a charm, I guess.

The teams exchanged goals in the first period, as it ended 2-2, shaping up to be something special. Then Vladimir Tarasenko and Bozak scored to make it 4-2. My least favorite man on Earth, Patrick Kane, scored his second goal of the night to bring it back to a one-point game.

The Blues led the third period by one until scoring three straight goals in under five minutes. Kicking things off was Tarasenko for his second of the night and fifth overall, followed by captain Alex Pietrangelo for his first of the season and then finished off with a power play goal from Alexander Steen for his fourth of the season.

But this is still about worrying and panicking. Was it a great win? Of course it was, we beat the Blackhawks, there’s nothing better to me, but all jokes aside, we’re still last. There are 72 games left and I’m still hopeful we can make it back to playoffs, and even win it all, but it won’t be easy.

The Blues lost their starting goalkeeper Jake Allen a little over halfway through the routing of Chicago, relying on backup Chad Johnson to save the day. Allen left late in the second period with a reported injury. The specifics have not been released yet, but he has still been placed on injured reserve. Head coach, Mike Yeo, said Allen would be evaluated soon, but that was Saturday, so it’s a little weird to not know by now.

If this is something serious, the Blues could be in big trouble. They are only as good the starting goaltender behind them. Goaltending has to be reliable if the Blues have any chance of coming out of the hole they have dug themselves these first 10 games. I could be wrong; our defense could step up and make things a little easier for Johnson and his backup Ville Husso, but I doubt it. Our offense will have to be spectacular if we want to do anything in the Central.

It’s still early on, but every game matters from here on out, especially these next two. The Blues will be back in action tomorrow against the red-hot Las Vegas Golden Knights. They’ll need to use all their momentum from that Chicago game if they want to compete. Then it’s back to central division foes on Saturday, as they take on the Minnesota Wild.

Back-to-back wins here would jumpstart the Blues’ season and maybe give them the strength to hang in there in the ever so difficult Central division, but until then, I’ll try not to panic.