When Styles Conflict Inside A Boxing Ring

Posted in Boxing on July 20, 2014 by dbuff82

Lara-CaneloOn July 12th, Saul Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara waged war on each other in a middleweight title match. Lara called out Canelo and the Mexican superstar told his handlers that the fight had to happen. That night, I followed the action on Twitter via my trusted source Dan Rafael of ESPN and other good boxing handles. Canelo won by split decision, winning 115-113 on one card and 117-111 on the insane card of judge Levi Martinez. What I witnessed was a split decision on the social media page. Half of the crowd liked Canelo’s second half resurgence enough to give it to him and the other half said Lara was robbed.

Last night, I watched the fight and scored it as I watched on my IPhone notepad page. I wrote notes down as I scored rounds and I will admit the style contrast in the fight led to these troublesome scoring and a fight that wasn’t entertaining at times and lacked a big moment. Without adding much, here is my live analysis. Keep in mind I don’t hold a special admiration for either fighter. I do like watching Canelo fight but don’t particularly pull for him like I do Manny Pacquiao or Miguel Cotto. I hadn’t seen Lara fight that much so I was green on his action skills.

Lara and Canelo Scorecard

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Frank Grillo: The Authentic Tough Guy

Posted in Film-Addict Pieces, Interviews on July 20, 2014 by dbuff82

Frank Grillo is a real tough guy. He isn’t the tough guy you see on movie screens but a man who has fought for every role he has played in this world of make believe.

When you see Frank Grillo fight on screen, keep in mind that isn’t a stunt double and those men he is punching better be glad its only a movie. Grillo trains like a fighter year round and his hard work is paying off with bigger roles. In the past 9 months, you have seen him fight Captain America and British action star, Jason Statham. He turned 51 last month, but don’t think for a second he is slowing down. Grillo is signed up for more Captain America action as Crossbones, has a Direct TV series this winter and more mayhem on the docket. On Friday, he headlines The Purge: Anarchy, a sequel to last year’s surprise hit about a 12 hour period where Americans are allowed to do whatever they like. Talking to Grillo, you get the feeling this guy is doing exactly what he grew up wanting to do. Kick ass, take names and make a little money doing it. I talked to Frank last week and let’s just say it was a no holds barred conversation.

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Dan Buffa-You are a New Yorker. What brings you to Los Angeles at the moment?

Frank Grillo-I’m filming this ten episode series for Direct TV. It’s like Warrior Meets Friday Night Lights. It’s MMA at the mid level. It’s a family drama. It’s called Kingdom.

DB-You have busted your ass in movies for a long time in supporting roles. How does it feel to be the star of Purge: Anarchy?

Grillo-It’s funny because before the Purge, I had a few independent films where I was the lead guy. It’s been a progression. As far as being in a studio film and being the lead guy, it’s great. You finally get to be the guy and have this whole story arc and carry the film on your shoulders. Its equal parts scary and exciting. I’m not a kid. Some actors get their shot early. I’m older and I think I am more well equipped to handle the responsibility.

DB-My first impression of you came in Warrior and I thought you stole that movie from Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.

Grillo-It’s interesting, brother. Those two guys had full characters and the movie was about them. The director was like, “I got this thing and its right up your alley and I think you could crush it. I don’t have a third act. If you want to go to New Mexico and find out who this guy is and bring it to me, I’m game.” In my position, you have to work twice as hard as the guy with the lead role or else you fall by the wayside. It’s about working hard. It doesn’t have to do with talent. It’s about working harder than the other guy. Warrior was it and that movie was the thing that popped in my career.

The biggest compliment for me is when I get phone calls or emails from people saying, “Hey man, I wrestled in Arizona, and I know you are a coach.” And while I have to turn them down, they are paying me the highest compliment when they do that.  That movie, and The Grey, will always be very close and dear to my heart.

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A Hero For One Day

Posted in Random Fire on July 17, 2014 by dbuff82

I will be honestly admit this isn’t easy to write. When it comes to kids dying at a young age, my hands clam up and my heart starts to bounce off my chest. These are the things that make us human and fragile as a species. Untimely and sad losses of young innocent life. Bring me the most cynical person on this planet and if I told them a four year kid died a week before his 5th birthday, they would crumble within seconds. This is a harsh brutal world and as a fictional boxing legend said on screen, it will beat you to your knees if you let it.

ashtonOn Sunday, Ashton Twibell, a four year old who loved superheroes, died when he accidentally fell out of the window of a loft in Springfield, Missouri. The first time I heard this I immediately thought about Eric Clapton’s kid and his death. Twibell’s mother happens to be a friend of two of my coolest friends on Twitter and Facebook, Deana Stoker and Adrian McClure. McClure sent me this story about the horrible tragedy and told me how it hit close to home for him because another close friend had lost a 2 year old at an early age.  This is far from unfair. There’s unfair and then there is downright tragic and Ashton’s death fits right into that spot.

The minute my son, Vincent, was born, my world was shifted into the form of a protector and overthinker. When you have kids, suddenly your everyday life is similar to a secret service agent working full time. Wherever your kid is, you have eyes there in some way. If your kid goes to the store, the location of your kid is put above everything else. Your own body and its health becomes instantly secondary to your kids. When Vin was born, he was #1 priority. There are times where he strays for even a second and I have get myself straight and know where he is at.  Kids don’t care about consequence at an early age, so that’s our job every single minute. We are their protectors.

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All Part Of The Plan

Posted in Random Fire with tags , on July 14, 2014 by dbuff82

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7When Lebron James announced Friday that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I wasn’t surprised at all. This was always a part of the plan for James. He was born and raised there. He played high school hoops there and started his NBA career there. He became a superstar there. He was the Dan Marino of the NBA for 7 seasons until he made a decision in July of 2010 that will go down as one of the most polarizing topics in sports history. The Decision. On national television, Lebron said he was taking his talents to South Beach and he did it with a nervousness that was real and apparent. When I saw Albert Pujols make his first appearance as a Los Angeles Angel after he signed a 10(in reality, 20) year deal in December of 2011, he had that same nervous look that Lebron had.

James and Pujols are teaching us in those small moments that they are superstars and human beings at the same time. They have blood running through their veins and their blood pressure can rise like anyone else’s can in a big moment. Their makeup is similar to us but differs when it comes to athletic ability. Sitting on that stage 4 years ago, James couldn’t rely on a deadly jumper or dominating route to the hoop. He said 6 words and everything changed. It was a bad plan with good intentions. No one wants to admit that the Decision raised millions of dollars for The Boys and Girls Club of America. That’s not juicy enough. Everybody was quick to turn Lebron into a villain. Cleveland fans did a 360 and burned jerseys and trashed rooms all over the city and state of Ohio. The streets ran red with Lebron venom that night. To a certain degree, it’s understandable. If Pujols had departed after 7 seasons, which would be in 2008, Cardinals fans would put away their Best Fans in Baseball logo and bring out the bats and flames. There would be jerseys burned but no riots. Cavs fans felt betrayed.

The owner, Dan Gilbert, wrote a hate letter before his plane could land. A letter full of erratic statements such as promising a championship before Lebron could win one in Miami(comedy) and attacking James in a number of ways. I said it then and I will say it now. Dan Gilbert overreacted. He forgot that James made him rich and the Cavaliers a great team. Before Lebron got there, th Cavaliers were a dormant team. A laughing stock. James won 3 MVP’s and took them to the finals. He carried them up a mountain like a giant carries a midget and couldn’t bring home a talent. That weighs on a man’s soul. Failing to win the big one. Ask Marino about that when Super Bowl discussions come around. It’s tough. Gilbert should have been mad and disappointed. He didn’t have to burn a bridge.

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Father/Son At Busch Stadium: Volume 1

Posted in Random Fire, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , , on July 12, 2014 by dbuff82

photoWhen people ask me about taking my son, Vincent, to a game and what it is like, I have an answer automatically. It’s like being the manager of a rookie pitcher on the mound. You don’t know what is going to happen but you hope for the best and by the end of the night, for your mood to not lose out to your nerve. Vincent is 2.5 years old, and he turns 3 in September. He is a little beast, all power and a little scrap. He is 37 pounds and stands a little above 3 feet tall. On Tuesday night, I took my wife, Rachel, and Vinny to the game. The Cardinals were playing the Pirates. When a pregame interview I had set up got cancelled at the last minute, a couple hours opened up before game time.

We stopped in Ballpark Village and got a taste of the Hall of Fame Museum. My son stared up at the Hall Of Fame plagues of Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean and Ozzie Smith with an intriguing glare that ended with this statement…”baseball, daddy”. For the entire visit to Ballpark Village, my son kept saying baseball. Basically, dad, all this historical stuff is nice and will have a bigger meaning when I am older but right now I want to see Fredbird, watch some baseball and say hello to the other 35,000 people at Busch Stadium.

In case you didn’t notice or guess, my son is a people’s person. He wants to stand up on his seat, turn around and talk to people behind him. He wants to say hello to strangers. He wants life, in general. This was Vinny’s 4th or 5th game but the first one where he seemed to really have some fun.

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As the pregame cermonies started, he sat there and asked nicely if he could go on the field. The answer was no. I am sure the security guards wouldn’t stop him but they would arrest me so it wasn’t happening. He then asked if we could go home. NO! For the first time in a public place, though, I noticed my son being patient. He watched the field. He looked at the sky. He scanned the crowd. He ate three cheese sticks, 2 bags of chips and a couple pretzels. Suddenly, the game started and he was ready. He looked like me with a glee that one couldn’t possibly explain with words.

Remember how I said in the beginning that taking your child to a game is like being a manager and watching your rookie pitcher take the mound. Here’s why.

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Molina Injury Adds To A Challenging Season

Posted in Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , on July 11, 2014 by dbuff82

The old saying isn’t a lie. A team is tested most when things don’t go according to plan. With the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals, the team picked to easily mop up the National League and head back to the World Series, very little has gone right or smooth. This is just another weight being dropped on the shoulders of Cardinal Nation.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago CubsSo far today, I have heard crying, whining, panic modes and people calling for a wholesale of the team and for the organization to throw the white flag. Why? Yadier Molina will miss 8-12 weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb. He suffered the injury sliding into third base in Wednesday night’s win. Molina left the game and underwent an MRI after the game. The results came in this morning and at 2:45 p.m. General Manager John Mozeliak informed the media and general public that Molina would be out a long time. Twitter exploded. Talk shows spiked. Minds went rampant. I was quietly thrown for a loop and almost…dropped my coffee. At the most, Yadi could be out until the beginning of October. At the least, he isn’t stepping on a field until mid September. For the first time in a long time, Molina won’t anchor this team and carry them into a stretch run.

This is a devastating injury folks. There is no getting around that. When you lose Molina, an MVP type player, the chips will start falling quick and people will panic. What happens next? Tony Cruz, a very able backup who has trained under Molina for years, becomes the starting catcher and Audrey Perez(that one guy you don’t remember and rather shouldn’t) will back him up tonight as the Cards go for the sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cincinnati and Milwaukee have lost already. If the Cards win tonight, they are one game out of first place, That’s the closest they have been since early May. The Cardinals don’t have time to panic. That’s what writers do as they come up with fables to spin for the screaming public. John Mozeliak will look at the market for a veteran catcher to back up Cruz but I don’t expect any other big moves as a result of this injury.

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Appreciating Tim Howard

Posted in Random Fire, Sports on July 4, 2014 by dbuff82

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Tim Howard and I are both bald and bearded men. That’s basically where the comparisons end.

It’s easy to like, admire and appreciate Tim Howard. Trust me, I have little clue how the many rules of soccer work and the way leagues operate. I watch the game with the simple idea of hoping for some kind of miracle and a respect for the pace of the sport. However, liking Howard is easy to do because of his position, his status and his performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

For the most casual soccer fan, Howard is the goalie who made 16 stops in a World Cup game(most in 50 years) on Tuesday that should have been enough to fuel a USA win over the Belgium(aka The Jean Claude Van Damme’s) and advance the Americans to the next round. The diehard soccer fans love him. The non soccer fans love him. Everybody in the world likes Howard, including the opponents he has faced. Howard breaks those barriers of devotion and fleeting senses of care because his position is easy to understand and easy to admire.

Tim Howard is a goal keeper, which is one of the easiest to comprehend if toughest to play positions in soccer. The man has to cover a net that stretches incredibly wide and he must use every piece of his body to stop the shot. He is outnumbered most of the time and if he allows a goal, guess what, that could be the deciding goal in a game(look at the Germany win). Howard can only do so much but as a goalie, and if he fails he isn’t letting down a team. He is letting down a nation. The man lives and breathes pressure.

When Tim Howard gets a cup of coffee at Starbucks, he will get nods, hat tips and probably the cup of joe for free.

When he goes to a car wash, strangers will offer to scrub his vehicle.

T-shirts will be made with his bald dome and bearded face hulking across the fabric. Babies will wear Howard onesies and suck on pacifiers that say “Believe in Howard”.

Howard won’t pay for drinks.

When he is at the gym and blocks a basketball from hitting a child playing next to the court, the parents will beg him to sign it.

Tim Howard will sign boobs, baby foreheads, cups, caps, shirts, cars, pieces of hotel paper, arms, legs, chests and will make many Americans shave their head and stamp TH on them.

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People won’t be able to remember a single American soccer player’s name off this team(sorry Julian Green, who scored the last goal and is 19 frigging years old) but they will know Howard’s full story. He started his career stateside in 2003 before signing with the Manchester United in 2007 and eventually playing for Everton. He played with a team called the Wanderers. He is from North Brunswick, New Jersey and his net worth is 6 million dollars.

People will identify themselves with Howard the way kids try to act like their favorite athletes. Forget you Michael Jordan. This kid wants to be like Howard and leap 10 feet to his right and block a shot and somersault up to grab the ball and launch a majestic clearing kick halfway down the field. Howard has made soccer cool for a lot of people who previously thought of the sport as a lullaby.

Women will adore Howard and tell their men to shave their heads. Like now.

It doesn’t hurt that Howard is bald, bearded, tattooed and menacing looking on the field. It just helps the T-Shirt sales. For every fan who doesn’t like Ronaldo’s pretty boy haircut, they can point to Howard for another style of sports fueled manliness.

Men will stop him and tell him where they were when he jumped high and deflected that shot over the net and seemed to carry a team of misfit toys and a country on his back for 2 weeks.  He will smile, listen and wait for the next interruption to his simple walk down the street.

You know what? All this attention is deserved. Howard has been playing this game for a long time. He was good in 2010 but this year he stepped his game up a few notches. He nearly aided the team in taking down Germany and did the same against Belgium. If it wasn’t for a magical pass from Cristian Ronaldo with seconds left, maybe the USA would still be playing with a better placing and matchup. Howard made that happen. He is a 35 year old soccer player in the twilight of his career who produced a legendary performance on Tuesday that will convert millions of fans and turn little kids into soccer goalies. Thank him for that. With the sport slowly uncoiling in the states, people need a face to connect with this sport. A tough looking stopper who can stand on his head in a great game on a national level and make am impact. Tim Howard deserves every bit of attention he will get.

When the Secretary of Defense calls Howard, it may not be for ways to stop enemy missiles but it will be to congratulate the player. When he goes on Letterman and Fallon, he will get standing ovations. When 2018 rolls around and his face goes up on the screen, people will holler and scream and raise their drinks. The USA may have lost but Tim Howard made sure the country won something. A newfound love and respect for the game.

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No, Tim Howard won’t be elected President of the United States in 2016. He is too young and doesn’t want to sit in an office. Howard will return to his team and keep stopping soccer balls. He will coach younger players on how to be great. He will ride this current wave of fame into many television appearances and acclaim from all ends of the world.

For a casual soccer fan like myself and one that  jumps on the USA bandwagon every four years, I can appreciate, admire and get behind that story. It’s an easy one to love and digest.

Tim Howard made soccer cool again.

 

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