The Missouri Tigers, along with head coach Dennis Gates, pose for a photo after defeating the University of Illinois in the Annual Braggin' Rights Game, 93-71 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Thursday, December 22, 2022. 

As the calendar turns to 2023, there are some things I would like to see happen in the coming year on the local and national sports scene. It will be a happier athletic new year if:

Jack Flaherty avoids injury and become the dominant ace pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals that he was for much of 2019. The Cardinals need him to return to that form if the team is going to go farther than the first round of the National League playoffs.

The Cardinals and Bally’s make a serious effort to hire a Black or female broadcaster to replace Dan McLaughlin on televised games. The first candidate to be interviewed should be Mike Claiborne of KMOX. 

St. Louis CITY SC comes out kicking tail in its inaugural MLS season. While its new stadium will be packed for every game during the upcoming season, the team and city will gain more national exposure if it is competing for a spot in the playoffs. Note, that as an expansion team this will be a difficult assignment.

The St. Louis Blues stabilize and make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, as the team did just three seasons ago. In part because I wagered $10 on them winning the title at 70-to-1 odds. I’d also like the Blues to add a player0of-color to the roster during this season, or before the fist faceoff of the 2023-24 season.

The NBA, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards bring a preseason game to St. Louis featuring MVP contender Jayson Tatum of the Celtics and the Wizards’ Bradley Beal. I still think Beal could be a member of the L.A. Lakers before this season ends, which means the preseason game could also mean a visit from LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Billionaire SLU donor Richard Chaifetz again floats the idea of landing an NBA franchise in St. Louis. The Phoenix Suns were just purchased for $4 billion, a league record. He’s got that, and the desire to make this longshot become a reality.

Missouri coach Dennis Gates leads his team to an unexpected NCAA Tournament bid. After being crushed by Kansas, the Tigers rebounded by battering Illinois in their annual showdown on Dec. 22. Gates’ team is part of a suddenly very competitive SEC so he and his players have some work to do. He could shut up detractors and create momentum for the program if he reaches The Big Dance.

An HBCU football classic weekend returns to St. Louis, featuring teams with national followings. The failed effort in 2022 was an embarrassment to the shady promoter, not St. Louis and certainly not HBCU football. With corporate financial support, this game could kickoff in the fall of 2023. A part of the proceeds from the NFL/Stan Kroenke lawsuit settlement should be earmarked for this project.

The St. Louis Battlehawks pick up where they left off during the truncated 2020 XFL season. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is primary owner of the league, which is displaying its quest for diversity through its coaching staffs and front office executives. The Battlehawks were among the most-popular teams in the XFL attendance-wise before the season was shut down due to the pandemic.

The Illinois 300 NASCAR race somehow tops itself in 2023. It was an amazing weekend in June 2022 at World Wide Technology Raceway, and WWT Founder and Chair David Steward Sr., was deserving of all the praise that came his way.

Bubba Wallace, the circuit’s lone Black driver, wins a few races and becomes a factor in the NASCAR playoff run at the end of the season. He’s got the team, he’s got the car, now it’s time for him to get a few checkered flags.

The Missouri state legislature finally realizes how ridiculous it is to have every border state offer legalized sportsbook gambling, and not the Show Me State. Millions of dollars are taking a trip across the state line in every direction, and Missouri is allowing it to happen.

More Black urban youths are introduced to hockey, swimming, rowing, and non-revenue sports that offer full ride scholarships to colleges and universities of all sizes throughout the nation. African American participation in collegiate athletics plummets once you get away from football and basketball.

Happy New Sports Year.   

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