first_imgWill the Reds repeat as Central Division Champions? The jury is still out, of course. One of the debates that keeps coming up is their style of play. They play for the home run rather than advancing runners and playing “small ball”. Part of this is the result of the ball park they play in. GABP is an easy park to hit home runs in, so everyone believes they are home run hitters. When you depend on the home run, your batters usually have a longer swing arc. They try to generate the power by literally winding into a swing rather than using a short swing and trying to put the ball in play. Some blame this on the hitting coach, but most of them have less influence on hitting at the major league level. These players are paid to do certain things, and getting them to change is hard at best. One thing is fact–teams who depend on home runs are more likely to also strike out a lot and this is happening frequently with the Reds this year. We will all forget this debate if the Reds get really hot as they did last year. What we do know is that St. Louis is a “small ball” team, and as long as they are winning, we will have this debate. Fans like one thing, and that is winning! If you win, the talk will stop.last_img read more

Pardew: Zaha has to raise his game

first_img Sir Alex Ferguson paid £10m to sign Zaha in January 2013 but the Scot retired that summer and Zaha fell out of favour under both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. “That’s a big environment for a young footballer to go into – Manchester United and all the pressure that you’re under and the competition. “Sometimes you just can’t break through and I think he was a case of that. “You have to start again in a way and that’s what he’s doing with us.” Pardew added: “Jason Puncheon’s an example, he’s somebody that I took to Southampton when nobody really wanted him. “I always believed in his technical ability but what I find now is a player who has this inner confidence. “That’s what Wilf has got to gain – he’s got to gain that inner belief that he can play at this level and deal with whoever the full-back is, whether he’s an international or a second-string player. “He needs to know he’s going to have a good day against him – that’s the standard he needs to get to.” “I hope I can get him back to his best but those games weren’t in the Premier League,” Pardew said. “It’s a higher standard and he’s going to have to raise his game because we’ve got real competition in that area of the team at the moment. “Obviously he didn’t start at Everton – this isn’t the Championship where he was a star. “This is a level up and he needs to be a star at this level.” Zaha has been in and out of the Palace starting line-up this season and despite some encouraging performances, he has scored only once in 19 games. “What does he need to improve? Concentration – his concentration when the opposition have the ball – his final product and his desire to improve,” Pardew said. “Those are the three areas and I see the latter one in him – I think if you’ve got that then you’ve got a chance of putting everything right. “He wants to be a top player and he’s going to have much easier access to the first team than he did at Man United so he’s definitely got a great chance.” Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has told Wilfried Zaha to forget about his Championship success with the club, insisting the winger needs to raise his game if he wants to make it in the top flight. Zaha made his loan stay at Palace permanent on the last day of the transfer window, re-signing from Manchester United for an initial fee of £3million. The 22-year-old made just four first-team appearances at Old Trafford and struggled to reproduce the displays that saw him named Championship Player of the Year in 2013. Press Associationlast_img read more

Kroos to miss San Marino, Italy matches

first_imgFRANKFURT, Germany (AP):Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will miss Germany’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against San Marino and the friendly against Italy because of a foot injury.The German federation says Kroos has a hairline fraction in his right foot and will be unable to practise for 10 days.Germany plays San Marino on Friday and meets Italy on Tuesday in Milan. The Germans lead their group after winning their first three matches.The team is seeking to win the group and gain a direct berth in the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia, where it hopes to defend its title.last_img read more