Excuses grow on trees around the world of sports. If a player gets hurt, expect it to be newsworthy down the road as a reason why that player isn't performing well. If a team is playing poorly, there must be something wrong that has nothing to do with the roster. Mother Nature, perhaps?

When it comes to the Chicago Cubs and excuses, Joe Maddon has given the world enough chapters to fill a soccer mom diary packed with disgust. In addition to the random thoughts in the head, let's tackle that among other things here on a pleasant September evening. Instead of the usual "whatever comes next" strategy, let's make this a true buffet by presenting sections for the content.


~Seriously, Joe Maddon doesn't expect me to feel sorry for a bunch of highly paid baseball players for having to play a packed September schedule. The Hurricanes that have affected the East Coast over the past month have hit the Cubs hard in the schedule, with the biggest hits occurring in Washington this past weekend. Still, would Maddon be complaining if the team was winning and not in the process of coughing up first place to the Milwaukee Brewers? Would it be an issue if things weren't going poorly? This is the latest chapter in the Maddon excuse novel, and not the first time he's complained about schedules, long games, and the general state of a 162-game schedule. Next, he will be confusing world peace with a game. The Cubs haven't gotten an easy stretch this month, but the schedule-based whining is something Ex-Cardinals manager Mike Matheny managed to avoid.

As I break out the world's smallest violin just for Joe, let's move onto another topic.

~Jake Allen has back spasms, which will keep him out of the majority of training camp with the St. Louis Blues. Either way you slice this baby back rib news bit, it's not good. As my colleagues over at St. Louis Game Time pointed out, this could serve as an excuse later in the 2018-19 season. Can you picture it? Let me help. Allen goes down in September, and young goaltending prospect Ville Husso has an amazing camp, and rockets into the season with a few starts. He plays well, and when Allen struggles when he returns. Later on, which is January for Allen, excuses will come out that the lack of a FULL training camp is the reason for the highly paid goaltenders’ woes and not an annual breakdown. Can you see it now? All kidding aside, it may be a minor injury and precautionary tactic. Right now, it's just the first nugget of controversy in an otherwise highly promising season.

In unimportant news, I came very close to giving new Blue Patrick Maroon a ride via the Uber service last weekend. He came out of a downtown establishment...and got into a cab. I must say I am disappointed in the big fella. In case you missed it, cabs are terrible.

~I'm not a football fan anymore, but what were the Oakland Raiders thinking in trading Khalil Mack? I don't believe that he didn't want to play in Oakland suddenly, so someone must have changed his mind or made him feel betrayed. Either way, you don't trade arguably the best defensive player in the league. There's a rule written somewhere..."here thy thee do not trade se great player in the prime." Something like that. Oakland made a mistake. David Carr agreed with a well-done two-word tweet.

~The San Jose Sharks are getting Eric Karlsson, making their blue line attack the most powerful in the NHL. Karlsson will join the offensive-minded Brent Burns, giving the Sharks a scoring attack and well-balanced defensive front that makes them even deeper on the roster and a threat to contend for a Stanley Cup. It's reaching unfair levels over there. I guess the San Jose General Manager was mad about Doug Armstrong stealing the offseason thunder.

No worries, the Blues are getting back Jay Bouwmeester this season. In dog years, he's only 85.

~I used to be a fan of Cris Collinsworth, but he's about as insufferable as Ricky Horton these days in the broadcast booth. Mind you, I haven't watched a full game in years, but I caught a little of a game Collinsworth was calling, and it's just 100% rubbish. Bad. Yes, I was trying to be sly and cool there with that word.


~Henry Cavill reportedly parting ways with Warner Brothers and DC Films as Superman is bittersweet yet expected. Justice League was a stinkbomb, and with the rising success of Marvel, the new bosses at Warners have to make a quick transition. There's a lot riding on James Wan's Aquaman in November, because you can't stand on Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman as your only success. If you don't think Marvel's electric run at the box office and friendly rapport with critics is making their opposition double-down, you are blind. It's a shame, because Cavill carved a solid take on Clark Kent/Kal-El in his three films.

Man of Steel wasn't as great as I initially perceived, but it wasn't as bad as some made it out to be. When it performed poorly at the box office, Warners shifted plans for a sequel, going for a clash with Batman instead. The result was a poor film and a lost chance at creating something with the British actor. It was only a matter of time, I suppose. This does open up Cavill to do other things, and if this summer's Mission Impossible adventure is any indication, the S will miss Henry more than the other way around.

~Amazon Prime's Jack Ryan is riveting television, and it's a huge success from the casting down to the writing. John Krasinski continues his rise as the new thinking man's action hero, and Wendell Pierce is a wonderful foil as his boss at the CIA. Unlike the film adaptations of Tom Clancy's work, this is an origin tale that tells you how Ryan went from a brainy numbers analyst to a field agent in a matter of days. As my wife pointed out after the fifth episode, the writers crafted an antagonist who may do terrible things, but isn't necessarily evil. Ali Suliman's terrorist's ideology isn't some second-hand reheated garbage, but a true backbone for motive. The action is sudden and well-edited, and the eight-episode format doesn't wear out its welcome. You are left wanting more, so Season 2 can't come soon enough.

~White Boy Rick isn't as powerful as it wants to be and the true story doesn't land as hard as the filmmaker may have intended, but the performances carry it to a higher place. Namely, Matthew McConaughey. He should be up for some awards this year playing a dad who has the desire to save his son from a life of crime but lacks the tools. I appreciated the sly attempts at humor in Rickie Wershe Jr.'s story. Go see it.

~Mark Ruffalo saying the Russo Brothers are still finishing up Avengers 4 doesn't surprise me. Reshoots are common on these big-budget summer films, and the filmmakers had plenty of time to rethink or pivot to a different ending, especially with the announced delay of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Anthony and Joe Russo are trying to make the best possible finale to a series of films that started ten years ago. Let them work and don't fret for a second.


~A big hat tip to the local businesses and people of St. Louis in rising to the occasion after the cancellation of LouFest. Entertainment companies like We Are Live Radio produced comedy shows and served local beer products and put on a packed show at Southtown Pub while Arch Apparel had a block party over by Crestwood. Unfortunate things happen often in this world, but good people find a way to make it work. St. Louis got knocked down, but got off the canvas quick, and it showed all over the city.

~Speaking of beer, give Piney River Missouri Mule IPA a shot if you see it on-tap or in a bottle. A strong and bitter brew with enough hops to take your mind off adulting for at least 30 minutes, it was a fine substitute for my favorite, Boulevard's Tank 7. With the weather slowly but surely getting cooler, IPAs and stouts will come into season and consideration here soon.

REALIZATION: Netflix's Marvel superheroes are best served in supporting doses. Full servings often disappoint.

COMPLAINT: Construction again. Working on a road is one thing, but do crews have to work on multiple highways on the same night and shut down miles of road in the process? If so, I'm still mad.

NEED: Days to move slower. If I had a superpower, it would be slowing down time. Working three jobs and having a life is too much for 24-hour sets.

Speaking of time flying, my son, Vincent, turns seven years old tomorrow. I remember when he was a little boy attached to my hip, and now he's an independent and highly intelligent bundle of energy. A message to young parents who want sleep: appreciate those early years, because they run fast.

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