Some random thoughts on a gloomy January day:
º Red Alert: Spring training is about a month away, and there already seems to be quite a bit of speculation about how the Cardinals and Cubs will fare in the National League Central Division. Neither team has had an active offseason and question marks abound.
My gut feeling says the team to watch in this division could very well be Cincinnati. The Reds took some giant strides a year ago and have further beefed up their roster since the end of the 2019 season.
Cincinnati will enter 2020 with arguably the strongest pitching staff among the five NL Central clubs. The Reds' expected rotation of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Travor Bauer, Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani is ranked No. 6 in all of baseball by FanGraphs, the highly respected analytical site. The Cubs are No. 12 and Cardinals No. 15.
Add to the Reds' rotation a competent and deep bullpen and it's easy to see why Cincinnati is a popular preseason pick to win the division.
Cincinnati also added slugger Mike Moustakas, who should take some of the longball pressure off Eugenio Suarez.
º Local baseball fans will get their annual winter baseball fix at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Quincy University when the annual Cardinal Caravan visits. Harrison Bader will be among the St. Louis representatives.
º Area fans will also be able to celebrate the national pastime Jan. 25-26 at the 32nd annual Quincy Mall Baseball Card Show.
Cardinals broadcaster and former St. Louis outfielder Jim Edmonds will be signing autographs noon to 3 p.m. on Jan. 25 inside the Fountain Court area.
Highest paid?: Ever wonder which of your favorite celebrities are cashing the biggest checks?
Dwayne Johnson -- a.k.a. "The Rock" -- tops the Forbes magazine list of the world's highest-paid actors, collecting $89.4 million for the 12-month period that ended in June 2019. A revised listing will be available in June 2020.
Among actresses, Scarlet Johansson ($56 million) was tops.
In non-movie entertainment circles, superhost Ryan Seacrest leads the pack, having made a reported a $71.5 million in 2019. He's the reigning king of major TV event hosts and the face of "American Idol" on ABC
Seacrest also has other sources of income, having launched his own lines of menswear fashion and skin care.
Some other incomes of note over the past year include TV host/comedienne Ellen DeGeneres ($50 million), sports host/analyst Jim Rome ($30 million) and Fox News political analyst Sean Hannity ($29 million).
Early favorites: The 92nd Academy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 9, and the two categories drawing the most attention seem to be leading actor and best picture.
Joaquin Phoenix ("Joker") looks to be a heavy favorite for the Oscar for leading actor. Robert DeNiro ("The Irishman") and Taron Egerton ("Rocketman") are also in the conversation.
Movie-wise, there's at least a half-dozen favorites at this point, but "1917," the World War I epic, seems to be gaining quite a bit of momentum. A sleeper could be "Ford V. Ferrari" with Matt Damon and Christian Bale.