St. Louis

Saint Louis Zoo named best zoo in the country, again

The Saint Louis Zoo has been named the best zoo in the country for the second year in a row. Not that there was ever any doubt in our minds. Saint Louis was voted No. 1 in the USA Today best zoo category in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest. The Saint Louis Zoo was one of 20 nominated U.S. zoos, which were hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts. “We’re humbled to be chosen again as the best zoo by our dedicated fans in the St. Louis region, across Missouri and friends around the country,” Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said in a statement. “Our visitors, volunteers, members, generous donors, employees, and especially the taxpayers of St. Louis City and St. Louis County are the real champions. It’s through their strong support that we can provide superior care for the animals, save wildlife in wild places, connect people with nature, and offer a great place to spend time with friends and family members.” Visitors to the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards website were asked to vote for their favorites between April 2 and April 30. Behind the Saint Louis Zoo was Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and rounding out the top five are, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo. In addition to winning in the best zoo category, the Saint Louis Zoo’s Sea Lion Sound exhibit also was named the best zoo exhibit in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest.

Nice!!  Growing up in St. Louis, I used to go to the St. Louis Zoo ALL the time.  And, sure I’m biased..  BUT..  Having been to the zoo in San Diego, and the National Zoo in D.C, both of which are outstanding, I can still see how the St. Louis Zoo won.  Congrats to Jeffrey Bonner and his team at the St. Louis Zoo.  Another great win for St. Louis!  Excellent!!    🙂

Dream come true for St. Louis — Blues reign as Stanley Cup champions

The scene was surreal, almost beyond comprehension. Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo hoisted the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Boston. It happened. It really happened. The star-crossed franchise won the Cup. That this thrilling title run came when it was least expected — after the Blues sank to the NHL cellar midway into this season — was so appropriate. The Blues did not win it all with Brett Hull and Adam Oates working their magic. They did not win it after hiring Mike Keenan and trading for Wayne Gretzky. They did not win the Cup after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger dominating the blue line. They did not win with Ken Hitchcock cracking his whip on his hard-hitting, veteran-driven team. They won when their interim coach rallied the troops and their No. 4 goaltender became a local sports legend. They won on the road 4-1 in Game 7 against an excellent Bruins team in Boston. Perfect! This unlikeliest of runs triggered so many memories. I came to the Post-Dispatch in 1986, just missing the “Monday Night Miracle” season and catching the tail end of the ever-colorful Harry Ornest Era. I quickly learned this franchise had really bad luck but incredible heart. I learned that from Barclay Plager, who was battling on as an assistant coach while fighting brain tumors. In layman’s terms, doctors inserted wires into his tumors and fried them. The tumors kept coming back and the doctors kept frying them. This took a heavy toll on his body but not his spirit. When he was able, Barclay assisted new Blues coach Jacques Martin, who came from junior hockey, and assistant coach Doug MacLean, who came from the Canadian university scene. Barclay pushed and pushed and pushed forward until his stamina finally gave out. He took a scary fall at the Buffalo airport while he was still traveling with the team. He refused to concede to his illness. Even by hockey player standards, that was insane, I sat with Bob Plager at the Affton Ice Rink during Barclay’s final days, discussing their life story, their early runs at the Cup, their pride in wearing the Blue Note and the old-school values they passed on to the next generation. For these men, playing for the Blues and their fans was a privilege. That’s their legacy and Bob remained around the organization to remind us of that. So many heart-and-soul players followed the Plagers, guys like Bernie Federko, Brian Sutter, Kelly Chase, David Backes and Barret Jackman. So much happened to this franchise before my time, such as Bob Gassoff’s fatal motorcycle accident, the near-move to Saskatoon and the franchise shutting down when the NHL blocked that sale. So many things happened during my time, such as losing broadcaster Dan Kelly to cancer and losing nice guy Doug Wickenheiser to his prolonged cancer battle. Two No. 38s who played here, Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev, died in a Russian plane crash. More recently there was Todd Ewen’s suicide, a tragic reminder of the high price hockey’s tough guys paid for the barbaric (Chuck) Norris Division days. There was the craziness of Mike Shahanan and Jack Quinn taking on the league as outlaw operators. There was Quinn and Keenan taking the insanity to the next level. There was Bill and Nancy Laurie throwing crazy money at the Blues while also trying to land a NBA team. There were the various work stoppages, a strike and lockouts, half-seasons and a lost season. There was the Laurie Fire Sale (Pronger for Eric Brewer!) and more questions about the franchise’s future. There was the phone call that came out of the blue. Broadcaster John Davidson tracked me down on the road in rural Ohio during my eldest daughter’s visit to a prospective college. Could the NHL still succeed in St. Louis? Davidson played for the Blues back in the day and felt the love of the fans, but he wanted a market update. He was calling around to get opinions on the state of the team. He heard the same things again and again: The Blues have an unfailingly loyal fan base. It wasn’t huge, but it was resilient. Make an effort and those Bluesiers will turn out to back the team. Dave Checketts and Co. banked on that support and saved the franchise. Davidson left his successful broadcasting career for the bigger challenge of rebuilding the Blues and rewarding fans for their patience. Davidson started the Blues down the road to overdue glory. Tom Stillman’s ownership group took over and finished the job. And so here we are. St. Louis is going crazy. This long-overdue party will carry well into Thursday which will be a low-productivity day in this region. There will be a parade, too, and more partying. Some folks who hung high above the goal in the cheap seats at The Arena will be there. So will fans who lined up before dawn to gain admission into Brentwood Ice Rink for training camp. Sadly, so many great Bluesiers have passed on, superfans like my friend John Mohan. He lived for Blues hockey to the moment he died. This Cup is for all of John Mohans who kept the franchise going through the lean years. This Cup is for all those diehards who never quit believing that this day could come. It did. Believe it or not, it did. Party on St. Louis, party on.

What a game!  What a series!  As someone originally from St. Louis, boy I wish I was back home.  On a personal note to that story above..  John Mohan was the older brother of my older brother’s friend.  St. Louis is a big city, with a small-town feel.  Thanks to local St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports write Jeff Gordon for giving us that feel.  For videos and such from the local media regarding this historic victory for the Blues, and it’s loyal fans, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!     🙂

St. Louis Blues advance to Stanley Cup Final with Game 6 win against Sharks

The St. Louis Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970 with a 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Enterprise Center on Tuesday. St. Louis, which won the final three games of the best-of-7 series, will play the Boston Bruins in the Cup Final. Game 1 is at Boston on Monday. ladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn each scored a power-play goal, Ryan O’Reilly had three assists, and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for the Blues. “The final minutes, counting down there and how loud the rink was and the atmospehere was awesome,” Binnington said. “We’re excited and looking forward to the next round.” Dylan Gambrell scored, and Martin Jones made 14 saves for the Sharks, who were without defenseman Erik Karlsson and forwards Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski because of injury. “I was proud of our group tonight,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t think the score reflected the work that we put in. I know what the scoreboard said at the end of the night, but I felt we made them earn it tonight. I thought we showed up under tough circumstances. … That’s all you can ask.” Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 1:32 into the first period when he tipped a shot from Sammy Blais. Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 16:16 of the first. He had at least one point in each game of the series (three goals, five assists). “Nobody wants to fly four more hours back to San Jose,” Tarasenko said. “We had a chance like this [to clinch in Game 6 of the first round against the Winnipeg Jets]. Everybody was preparing and ready to end it tonight.”

GO BLUES!!!!!!       🙂

Ozuna homers, St. Louis Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

Marcell Ozuna homered and Austin Gomber tossed six shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night. St. Louis has won a season-high eight straight. The Cardinals, who are 18-9 since the All-Star break, captured their sixth successive series after taking the first three of the four-game set. Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which has lost four in a row and seven of nine to fall below .500 and nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The current skid began with a loss to the Cubs on a two-out, walk-off grand slam. Ozuna homered in the second inning, his 14th of the season and his first since July 30. Gomber (3-0), in his fourth start of the year, gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four. Bud Norris pitched the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 27 opportunities. Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina added run-scoring hits for St. Louis, which improved to 19-9 since Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by interim manager Mike Shildt. St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk in the fifth. It’s the longest current streak in the majors. Carpenter left the game in the seventh after he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Matt Grace, but X-rays were negative. Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) left in the fifth inning after colliding with Bader on a play at the plate following a wild pitch. Hellickson gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two. Bader, who had three hits, also made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Bryce Harper in the fourth. The Cardinals, who have an NL-best 12-2 mark in August, remain one game behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot. They are four games behind Chicago in the NL Central.

Yeah!!!  GO CARDINALS!!!     🙂

Brooks Koepka holds off Tiger Woods, Adam Scott to win PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka secured his status as one of the best golfers in the world Sunday as he won his third major in 14 months at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis. Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills in June, shot a final-round 66 to hold off Tiger Woods (64) by two shots. Adam Scott shot 67 to finish alone in third, a shot behind Woods. Koepka is the first man to win two majors in the same calendar year since Jordan Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015. He is the first man to pull off the U.S. Open-PGA Championship double since Woods in 2000. His 72-hole score of 264 set the PGA Championship scoring record and matched the major championship record set by Henrink Stenson at Royal Troon in the 2016 British Open. The 28-year-old Floridian also joined Jordan Spieth, Woods, Nicklaus and Tom Watson as the only players with three majors before turning 30 since World War II. Koepka had started the final round two shots ahead of Scott, who was playing with a heavy heart after fellow Australian pro Jarrod Lyle died of cancer earlier this week. The Florida native appeared to be in command halfway through the round, weathering bogeys at 4 and 5 to take a three-shot lead over Scott at the turn. But Scott rallied at the same time that Koepka’s touch with the putter deserted him. The Australian birdied 10, 12, and 13, while Koepka missed short birdie putts at 12, 13, and 14. With Koepka stuck in neutral, Woods put on a charge and sent the galleries into a frenzy when he birdied the par-4 15th to get within a shot of the lead after sticking his second shot within a foot of the flagstick. However, Koepka regained control of the championship on the 15th hole, when he drilled a 10-foot birdie putt into the center of the cup to take a one-shot lead. He added to his advantage at the par-3 16th, when he stuck his tee shot to inside seven feet of the hole, then drained the ensuing birdie putt. Scott had one last chance to force some drama on the last hole, but a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th green that would have put him within one shot of Koepka curled wide of the cup. He then bogeyed the final hole to slip out of a tie for second. Woods’ 64, which included two bogeys, is his lowest final-round score in any major. It was his seventh runner-up finish and first since the 2009 PGA Championship. Woods and Koepka played nine holes of a practice round on Wednesday, and the 14-time major champion knew what he was up against. “It’s tough to beat when the guy hits it 340 down the middle,” Woods said. “What he did at Shinnecock, just bombing it, and then he’s doing the same thing here. … And when a guy’s doing that and hitting it straight, and as good a putter as he is, it’s tough to beat.” Koepka never imagined a year like this. He missed four months at the start of the year when a partially torn tendon in his left wrist, causing him to sit out the Masters. He outlasted good friend Dustin Johnson at Shinnecock Hills to become the first back-to-back U.S. Open champion in 29 years. And now this. Koepka joked about working out in a public gym this week with Johnson and not being recognized. He has been motivated by more serious moments, from being left off the “notable scores” section of TV coverage at tournaments and even last week, when he was not summoned for a TV interview to preview the PGA Championship. He now is No. 2 in the world, with a shot at overtaking Johnson in two weeks when the FedEx Cup playoffs start,

Tiger came close…but no purse!  Congrats to Brooks!  Over 55,000 fans were in attendance and the players were impressed with the politeness and positive attitude of the St. Louis fans.  Excellent!!  To see some pics and videos from Bellerive Country Club in West St. Louis County, just click on the text above.    🙂

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who had brain surgery after being hit in head tosses 7 no-hit innings in MLB debut

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon was 14 months removed from suffering a life-threatening injury when he stepped on the mound in Cincinnati for his first major start — and tossed seven no-hit innings. Monday night was Poncedeleon’s MLB debut and his lengthy rehab culminated in a magnificent performance. Even though he didn’t earn the win. And the Cardinals didn’t either. Poncedeleon, 26, was struck in the right temple by a line drive on May 9, 2017 while pitching for Triple-A Memphis. He suffered a fractured skull, which caused bleeding in the brain and required emergency surgery. A slow recovery followed. The righty made his first start this season with the Triple-A squad on April 5 and quickly worked his way back to form. In 18 minor league games, Poncedeleon posted a 2.15 ERA with 103 strikeouts. Opponents were only batting .198 against him in the Pacific Coast League. Monday, he finally got a taste of the major leagues and was able to get the Reds’ first batter, Jose Peraza, to lineout to right field. “I don’t know if words can describe that,” interim Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s what’s magical about this game and what we love about this game — stories like that.” Poncedeleon was battling a sore neck heading into his debut and once he threw pitch 116, Shildt had no qualms about taking him out early. “We weren’t in a situation where he would have been able to finish that game with a no-hitter,” Shildt said. The Cardinals had a one-run lead when Poncedeleon left. However, the Reds made a charge in the bottom of the ninth against Cardinals closer Bud Norris, winning the game, 2-1.

What a great story, indeed!  Congrats to Daniel for his performance.  GO CARDINALS!!!    🙂

St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher hits 105 mph twice on radar gun

A relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday lit up the radar gun with two pitches registering at 105 mph in the team’s 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. USA Today, citing StatCast, reported that Jordan Hicks threw the five fastest pitches in the major league this season, hitting 104.2 mph, 105, 104.3, 105 and 103.7– all with sinkers. “You see 105 up there. That doesn’t happen. I don’t know what the exact mph was, but we’re all wondering if it was 105 point, or where on 105 it was,” Jack Flaherty, the game’s starter told MLB.com. “I wish I could throw 105.”

Holy crap!!  Click on the text above for a video, and more on this incredible story.  Go Cardinals!!      🙂