People, it’s time for Bernie Bits!


TORRY HOLT: In his fifth time as a finalist, the great St. Louis Rams wide receiver Torry Holt came up short in voting support for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s nothing personal. Holt will get there. You don’t become a five-time finalist without eventually making it into Canton. To his credit, Torry has handled the voting results with exemplary class and grace. That said, it’s frustrating to see Holt kept on hold.

I’m not sure what else Holt could have done in the NFL. It’s true that Holt’s receiving status slowed during his final two seasons (2008, 2009) but he was competing on one healthy knee. And knee surgery brought his career to a close.

Why does Holt belong? Let’s just stick with Holt’s most impressive numbers that reaffirm his historical prominence. The elite production made him a dominant presence in the 2000-2009 decade.

Most receptions (868) ever by an NFL wide receiver in single decade.

Most yards receiving (12,594) ever by an NFL wide receiver in a single decade.

During his eight-year career peak – 2000 through 2007- Holt led NFL wide receivers catches (753), receiving yards (11,076), receiving first downs (563) and was third in touchdown grabs (65.)

Holt held NFL records in several categories including most consecutive seasons (6) with at least 1,300 yards receiving – and consecutive seasons (6) with 90+ receptions.

Holt was an All-Decade selection for the Aughts. If you’re an All-Decade pick, you’ve qualified for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Holt has strong backers on the Hall of Fame selection committee including the respected analyst Mike Sando of The Athletic. Sando took the best eight seasons of a player’s career – the peak – to measure Hall of Fame worthiness. Holt not only warrants selection into the Hall of Fame, his eight best seasons put him in a very  exclusive company of wide receivers.

“Holt ranks fourth behind Jerry Rice, Don Hutson and Randy Moss in my elite production research,” Sando wrote. “Steve Largent, Julio Jones, Marvin Harrison, James Lofton, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson and Terrell Owens round out the top dozen.”

Though Holt had a slightly better career based on the approximate value metric, Andre Johnson was voted in ahead of Holt this time around. Holt should be next. In the recent vote for the 2024 selection, Holt had more voting support than Wayne, another strong wide receiver candidate. Hopefully, Torry Holt’s patient wait will come to an end when voters do this again, early next year.

If I had one criticism of the current Hall of Fame board, it’s their tendency to live in the moment and downplay the past. Their refusal to induct the exceptional AFL wide receiver Art Powell and acclaimed 1950s coach Buddy Parker was a disgrace. Both men were nominated by the seniors committee, which did a great and thorough job of vetting all senior candidates. That committee takes this very seriously, and makes these decisions with a clear conscience.

Instead of going along with the committee’s recommendation with a simple “Yes” vote, the committee snubbed these two late legends in a heartless act of mean-spiritedness. The senior nominees are stand-alone candidates. They’re voted in as individuals — a straight yes or no — and don’t take away votes from modern-era finalists such as Holt. That makes the pettiness of snubbing Powell and Parker even more embarrassing. I served on the Hall of Fame committee for a long time. I wouldn’t want to serve on it today. The process has been poisoned by too many Hot Take personality types who don’t care about doing the meaningful research. And the attention spans are growing shorter every year.

FANGRAPHS TOP 100 PROSPECT RANKINGS: No surprises. Four Cardinals’ prospects made the list. Roll call: shortstop Masyn Winn (25th), pitcher Tink Hence (79), center fielder Victory Scott (83rd) and pitcher Tekoah Roby (88th.) Here’s the blurb on Winn: “Huge arm is icing on a cake made mostly of plus bat-to-ball skills and viable shortstop defense.” On Hence: “Changeup took a huge leap while his fastball backpedaled a bit last year. He’s still tracking like an impact arm but needs to get stronger.” On Scott: “Infielders beware, Scott is a bunt-inclined speedster and potential Gold Glove center fielder.” And what about Roby: “Has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, but whether or not he can stay healthy enough is another matter.”

THE JAYSON TATUM FILE: This weekend the Boston Celtics star will play in the NBA All-Star game for the fifth straight season. And he’ll be a starter for the second year in a row. Earlier this month listed its top-selling jerseys during the first half of the season and Tatum came in at No. 2 among league players and only Steph Curry is ahead of him. That puts Tatum above the likes of LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic … the St. Louisan is having his best all-around NBA regular season for the winningest team in the league, the 43-12 Celtics. Tatum is averaging 27 points per game and is posting career bests in overall field goal percentage (.475), effective FG percentage (.554), two-point percentage (.561) and assists per fame (4.8). Tatum’s current 3-point shooting percentage (.361) is his best since 2020-2021. And his average of 8.6 rebounds per game is the second best of his career … Saturday Tatum will be on TNT to provide on-air analysis of the annual  3-point shooting contest – as well as the 3-point shooting showdown between Curry and Sabrina Ionescu … sticking with the NBA: since returning to the Phoenix lineup on Dec. 29, St. Louisan Bradley Beal shot .501 from the floor and averaged 19.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his first 23 games. After a slow start Phoenix has improved to 33-22, which is is sixth in the Western Conference … former Mizzou power forward Jontay Porter has been in and out of the lineup for the Toronto Raptors this season, starting five games and appearing in 17. Porter signed a two-way contract with Toronto before the season. He’s spent some time with Toronto’s G League team … let’s close with more on Taytum: in the Las Vegas sportsbooks, he’s listed at No. 5 among the favorites for NBA Most Valuable Player this season. Tatum should be receiving more support than he is, but at least he’s in the discussion. As ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said of Tatum: “Does being the best player on the best team matter? I’d say it does.” 

JOE SHEEHAN RATES THE CARDINALS: Over at his superb baseball newsletter, our friend Sheehan is doing position-by-position rankings for MLB starting players in advance of 2024. Here’s where he put each St. Louis starter: catcher Willson Contreras 6th, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt 6th, second baseman Nolan Gorman 6th, third baseman Nolan Arenado 7th, shortstop Masyn Winn 25th, left fielder Lars Nootbaar 4th, center fielder Tommy Edman 19th, and right fielder Jordan Walker 7th. Sheehan sees big things for Walker and Gorman in 2024.

“I’m all-in on Gorman, who just needs to stay healthy for a full season to validate this ranking,” Sheehan wrote. “Back problems have been an ongoing issue. When in the lineup, he hits the ball hard as much as anybody in the game, with a top-ten barrel rate (16.5%). He’s a capable second baseman, if not much more than that. Big breakout coming,” … Sheehan had this to say about Walker: “This is aggressive. It reflects what I think will be a big leap by Walker at the plate, with him driving the ball in the air more. I remain convinced he’s a first baseman and am eager to see him prove me wrong about that. Manny Ramirez broke out at age 22 with a .269/.357/.521 line in a season cut short by the strike. Vladimir Guerrero hit .302/.350/.483 at 22. That’s the kind of year I see Walker having.”

Other samples…

* Nootbaar: “I’ve talked up Nootbaar in the past; even fighting injuries, he contributed across the board and posted a three-win campaign.”

* Arenado: His “big 2022 season looks less like a bounceback and more like a bounce,’’ Sheehan said. “Last year, he had his highest strikeout rate since 2018 and his lowest walk rate since 2015, and the first half of the season was the worst he’s ever looked defensively.”

* Goldschmidt: “He needs maybe one more good year to lock up a Hall of Fame case; as is, he’s pretty close to a match for Todd Helton, who just went in.”

A word about Sheehan: he’s among the very best analysts writing about baseball. His newsletter is a subscription service but he’s offering a free, weekly look at the newsletter so you can check it out. (No commitments. No obligation.) Just a weekly freebie that will be emailed directly into your inbox. To sign up just send Joe a message at

BLUE NOTES: Since Drew Bannister took over as interim coach on Dec. 14, the Blues rank 11th in the NHL with an average of 3.05 goals per 60 minutes. In their 28 games under Craig Berube the Blues ranked 26th with a rate of 2.80 goals per 60 … update: the Blues are 16-8-1 since the coaching move and rank 8th in the league with a .660 points percentage over that time … that .660 percentage is fifth best in the Western Conference since Dec. 14. More impressively and during this stretch the Blues have gone 5-0 against teams ahead of them in the conference standings. With Bannister they’re 2-0 vs. Dallas, 2-0 vs. Vancouver and 1-0 vs. Edmonton … Thursday’s entertaining 6-3 win over visiting Edmonton marked the third time we’ve seen the Blues get goals from six different scorers in a victory in the last 21 games. Before that the Blues had goals by six different players only once in their first 32 games …

Since the coaching change Blues center Robert Thomas has nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points. The 24 assists is tied for third most among NHL centers since Dec. 14. Only Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon have more helpers than Thomas over that time … Jake Neighbours has four goals and three assists for seven points in his last four games after tallying three goals and five points in his previous 15 games … with 19 goals this season, Neighbours is moving up the charts in most goals in a season by a Blue age 21 or less. Right now his 19 goals rank 12th in the category. But with three more goals, Neighbours will move past David Perron, Mike Murphy, Wayne Merrick, Doug Gilmour and Patrik Berglund and into seventh place for most goals in a season by a Blue age 21 or less.


* ESPN’s current projection on the 2024 Cardinals: 85.3 wins, 12th overall in the majors and a 59.1 percent chance to make the playoffs. Here’s some wishful thinking from Bradford Doolittle:  “Two things the Cardinals love to do: bring back players who used to excel for them, and take away the Cubs’ nice things,” he wrote. “They could do both, right now, and if they did, they could really establish themselves as preseason favorites in the NL Central. On the ex-Cardinal front, Jordan Montgomery is dangling out there and the St. Louis rotation could sure use him. You can say the same thing about Blake Snell, but he doesn’t fit our ex-Cardinal narrative. The Cardinals did bring back a former standout in Matt Carpenter, but perhaps they would have been better suited to make a splash and target Cody Bellinger for the position group. He’d start in center, provide a two-way upgrade to the lineup, and, best of all, they’d prevent him from re-signing with the Cubs.” Here’s the link but it’s behind a paywall.

* Retrospective on Steve Spagnuolo as head coach of the St. Louis Rams:  From 2006 through 2011, the Rams chose 52 players in the NFL Draft. Only ONE of the 52, defensive end Robert Quinn, was selected to the Pro Bowl as a Ram. Spags took over as head coach in 2009 and inherited a roster wrecked by terrible draft choices. And that continued through his final season, 2011. Guard Rodger Saffold was drafted by the Rams in 2010 and had a good NFL career before retiring at the end of the 2022 season. Saffold made two Pro Bowls — but both honors came in the final two years of his career. He was never picked for the Pro Bowl as a St. Louis Ram. Spags had a poor 10-38 record. But that’s what happens when you go to work for a horrendous organization that can’t identify talent. He’s a good who had the misfortune of going to work for a horrendous organization that happened to be plotting and scheming a franchise move. When Spags has had a fair chance, he’s helped his teams win four Super Bowl championships — the most by a defensive coordinator in the Super Bowl Era.

* As of now, FanGraphs has St. Louis ranked in the third tier among MLB teams. That tier also includes the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Phillies and Rangers. The Braves, Dodgers and Astros are in the first tier. The second tier has the Yankees, Rays, Twins, Blue Jays, Mariners and Orioles. FanGraphs has St. Louis with 83 wins.

* Here’s FanGraphs’ STL summary from Jake Mailhot: “You can quibble about who they brought in, but the Cardinals had one job this offseason and they went right after it, signing Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson to revamp their starting pitching. Those three should be better than the patchwork staff that derailed St. Louis last season. Combined with a strong offensive core and solid bullpen, an improved rotation should be enough for the Cardinals to make last year a one-year blip rather than the start of a long decline.”

* There’s no excuse for Mizzou’s basketball season. None. The Tigers are 0-11 in conference play; today they are ranked No. 149 at KenPom. For perspective, Mizzou’s worst ranking under Cuonzo Martin was No. 137 in his final season. This season’s Mizzou squad has entered the Kim Anderson Zone in KenPom ratings. Year Three will be a big one for coach Dennis Gates.

* I’m not surprised to see St. Louis show out with phenomenal TV ratings for the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a great and under-appreciated football town. The ratings are extraordinary and have been higher than in all but several NFL markets.  Despite the efforts of pandering local media to convince STL fans to continue with the diaper-baby crying and pouting over the NFL, it didn’t work. Like it or not, this is an NFL Nation. People love to watch football, wager on football and have gatherings to view NFL games on Sundays. This includes St. Louis. As I’ve always said: you can hate the NFL as an institution and criticize the league for its corrupt relocation process. But the coaches and the players don’t vote on franchise moves and had nothing to do with the Rams/NFL dirty business. So if you enjoy watching football, then watch football. No one in the media has the authority to  shame you into some half-witted boycott that failed. The huge TV ratings only reaffirm the intense interest in pro football in St. Louis, and that’s a really good positive thing.

* The sharps in Las Vegas are on the Blues. The smart money has picked up on the trend; since the coaching change the Blues are 16-9 against the betting-line spread, or 64 percent. That includes an 8-2 ATS mark in the last 10 games.

* The new MLB uniform shirts look like shirseys. Buying one of the new-look (and more expensive) jerseys is the equivalent of buying a knock-off Rolex watch or Gucci bag. It’s like buying breakfast cereal: the box looks the same, and is the same size as ever, and cost the same … but once you look inside you realize that there are fewer Corn Flakes in the box.

* Enough already with the Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes word blast in a fake debate over The Greatest Quarterback Of All Time. Brady played 23 NFL seasons and started 371 games including the postseason. Mahomes has been Kansas City’s starting quarterback for six seasons and has started n 114 games including the postseason. Brady won seven Super Bowl rings. Mahomes has three. But if you want to join the argument and throw something cute into the fray, here ya go: Brady won a Super Bowl for every 53 games started in the NFL. Mahomes has won a Super Bowl for every 38 games he’s started in the NFL. What does this prove? They’re both great. We don’t have to vote yet. Mahomes has a long way to go.

* Good luck to St. Louis City SC. The offseason went by quickly and that’s a wonderful thing. The first season was tremendous. The second season will be just as much fun and satisfying. The team will be very good, but the expansion season presented a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience and shouldn’t be set as the standard for judging subsequent STL City teams.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link. We’ll be recording a new Seeing Red on Monday, Feb. 19.