STL Soul Food

Welcome to the latest gathering of material that has formed in my head over the past week.   A variety of material collected over the last few days that requries inspection.   Topics come and go, but true juicy content survives here.   For example, I won’t be providing any british royal news this evening.  I have not one ounce of care for Henry, Harry, Kate or her sister.  There will be no Spencer and Heidi talk.  If you don’t know who those people are, consider yourself lucky to be alive.  I will try not to complain about the harsh hot St. Louis weather, but since I work and run in it daily, the urge will be hard to avoid.  After all, this is an unplugged Buffa blast going on here, not a library study session.   Gas Prices get no space here either.  Like stocks, they go up and down with or without our participation.  Talking about them is similiar to starting a conversation with a hot woman with, “How about those gas prices at QT, so expensive?” as you walk out of the market with 2 hot dogs, a bag of chips, beef jerky and a donut.  What’s the [point?  The areas I choose to cover here consistently(sports, film, random facts, personal insight, ideas) has nothing to do with your life, but every now and then, a interaction occurs and interest is spiked.  As the great Todd Snider once told the audience before a show, “I’m not here to change your mind, yet ease my own.”   With that lovely explanation planted, lets get moving.

The Cardinals
A puzzling frustrating pack of middle of the road contenders struggling to be great.   The Cards are a good team that constantly denies the urge to reach greatness.   After taking the first games in back to back series to Houston and Chicago, we drop the ball in the final contests and that led to a rough series in Milwaukee, where we literally escaped with one win.  The main problem is the pitching and it starts and ends with the rotation.   Since mid June, this group of hurlers have underachieved and failed to go deep into ballgames.   During the last week, Carpenter, Garcia and Lohse have struggled to reach the 6th or 7th inning and the only reason Edwin Jackson finished 7 yesterday was to save the bullpen.   In short, the less innings thrown by the rotation puts an extreme weight of pressure on the bullpen, which collapses and increases the pressure on the lineup to score more runs.  The Cards have one of the best hitting lineups in the league, and over the past week, the evidence stacks up against the rotation.   All I see is blown leads and big innings allowed, gentlemen.   Carpenter blew a 2-0 lead on Monday, Garcia blew a 6-3 lead on Tuesday(given by himself) and Jackson surrendered a 4-3 lead yesterday.  Small margin advantages to begin with, but still a trace of error.   Also, the Cards defense is average at best, starting in the infield and stretching into a palpable outfield attack.   Errors are made but more often than not, plays simply aren’t made.  Balls aren’t run down and grounders are fumbled.  A lack of deep starting pitching and soft defense makes for a losing record.   Since mid June, the Cards are under .500 and fallen out of first place.   Will they finish 4th or 5th?  No.  They will struggled to contend with Milwaukee if they don’t get better lead protection and more innings from their starters and release the tension from their bullpen.   GM John Mozelaik made a couple decent trades, but the rest of the team has to make them stand up and produce wins.  Right now, this Cards team is a mystery.  They must go into Florida this weekend and dominate, and win at least 3 of 4 before coming home to face the Brewers at Busch.
The Biggest miss came during the past week with the Cards only winning 4 games on the homestand and not taking at least 6.   When  The Cardinals split with the Astros, the home stand was doomed to suck.   While the games with the Brew Crew loomed larger than most, the homestand against shitty NL Central talent was a key push ahead.   After they acquired the Action Jackson package, the Cards went to sleep for two games and lost two crucial ballgames to the Astros, a bad team that just got worse.  After winning two solid games against the Cubs, we dropped the finale on Sunday and lost ALL of our momentum.  That’s the key here, folks.   Momentum.  Building a solid game to game energy that leads to an unbreakable winning streak that either carries you along with a team or pushes you ahead in a tight race.   When the Cards lost 2-3 more games than they needed to, we lost ground on the Brewers.   The worst park about the past week.  Losing 3 games started by Chris Carpenter or Jaime Garcia.   The Rasmus-Jackson and company trade improved this Cardinals team on paper, but when it comes to seasonal trades, the aftermath is the entire plate of soul food.  Losing two in a row to a lowly team like Houston put the Cardinals in a tough position.   A playoff team takes 6 of those 7 games on the homestand.   The Cardinals didn’t take advantage and in turn, lost an advantage to the Brewers, who have won 7 in a row after last night’s victory.     A big problem in this 2011 team during the month of June and July is consistency.   During the first two months of the season, the Cardinals only lost 2 series’.   In June and July, they have lost more than 6 series and haven’t tied any wins together.  Unlike the Brewers, the Cardinals can’t put wins together and more importantly, finish team when they are down.   In each series leading up to this crucial three game set, the Cardinals took the first two games in commanding fashion, only to lose balance and drop the proceeding finales. 
Any true Cardinals fan understands the wager of confidence in this game.  During a tight race, every game that’s within reach has to be pulled in for victory.  If the Cardinals continue to blow early leads, lack a clutch hit and get failed by their defense, the losses will pile up and the Cardinals will be out of this race by the end of the month.   The Cardinals make it harder on themselves to bring a series win to Florida this weekend.   The classic spin on this 2011 team is overachievement due to a heavy injury toll, but a more fitting description is an enigmatic bunch of talented seekers.   Fully loaded with talent, depth and reliable firepower, the Cards are set up to win the Central Division and go deep into the playoffs.  If you look on paper, the Cardinals are stacked.   That’s the beauty of baseball and the biggest challenge for these Redbirds.   Taking their blueprint for success(midseason trades) and turning it into a strong foundation of consistent winning baseball.   Trades don’t win divisions.   Teams that use the trades to their benefit and ensure their survival are the last ones standing.   The one thing this Cardinals team promises this season is a roller coaster ride to the finish line.  However, if they fail to win this series or at least steal a game, the rest of this month will prove to be an impossibly difficult course.   You heard your general manager, boys.  WIN NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR POTENTIAL. 
Other Things to Consider about this team-
Albert Pujols
The Mang struggled mightily in Milwaukee, going 1-14 with one bloop hit that barely escaped the infield.  Along with Berkman’s poor series, Pujols didn’t produce much of anything in a key series.   In a perplexing season for AP, this is the latest speed bump.  When your best hitter only collects one hit, hits into 3 double plays, leaves 10 runners on base and strikes out more than he walks, the series won’t belong to your team in the end.   This comes after a solid homestand from AP where he bumped his batting average up to .283 and started to look locked in.   On the cusp of breaking loose, Albert continues to stall.   However, it must be pointed out that AP is only having an off year by his own standards.   While others praise Berkman’s comeback year of .286, 28 HR, 72 RBI, Albert Pujols’ season of .275, 24 HR, 65 RBI is considered a rough patch.   That tells you the different universe Pujols works in.  Compared to Berkman, Pujols’ numbers are fine.  According to the last 10 years of AP production, they are not so good.   When you are a phenomenal talent, the expectations go through the roof.   Pujols must catch fire or dare I say this Cards attack will eventually hit a big time speed bump.   A closer Pujols inspection provides a small hint into his 2011 troubles.   Pujols has only walked 38 times in 2011.   His walks are down, which means he is putting the ball in play more often and his batting average takes a hit.  Pujols’ career low in walks came in his rookie season, where he received 69 free passes.   Unless his walks drastically increase, he will set a career low this season.   When you aren’t walking as much, you are a free swinger, failing to take pitches and giving the defense a chance to beat you.  Pujols has drawn 100 plus walks per season throughout his career, which puts pressure on pitchers to give him hittable offerings.  What does this mean?  Pujols is pressing more in 2011, which makes sense since this is the first season he is playing in without a contract set up for the next year.  Pujols is earning his weight right now, which explains the low batting average and on base percentage.  Hopefully, after 10 seasons, Albert isn’t losing his patience and getting solved.  It’s either one or the other.  For the Cardinals and fans sake, let’s hope the old AP shows up soon. 
All this comes after Pujols collected his 2,000th hit on Friday against the Cubs.  Pujols hit an RBI double down the line, trotted into second base, pointed to the sky in Pujols fashion, and took a moment.  He tipped his cap twice, got emotional and all in one moment understood what it meant to be a god in a city of baseball lovers.  This is another reason why AP is staying in St. Louis.  Why leave a kingdom? 
And please stop talking about the high pitch up and in, La Russa.   Albert was hit, Motte hit Braun, and the world keeps moving.   Pitching inside is part of the game. 
Edwin Jackson
Action Jackson hit a brick wall of reality in Milwaukee, running into fastball loving hitters and getting clubbed for 4 home runs, 10 runs(8 earned), 14 hits in seven long innings of work.   This is why I didn’t demand an extension for Jackson in the Rasmus trade.  He is a 27 year old power arm, but an enigmatic starter with a mixed bag of a career.   In 14 innings of work in his two Cards starts, Jackson has allowed 12 runs(10 earned), 22 hits, struck out 12 and walked 2.   One good start and one bad.   Jackson surrendered 3 home runs to one player for the first time in his career.  A first for a Card since 1976.  My main question comes down to this.   Is Jackson better than Lohse or Westbrook? How much?  I like Jackson but need to see more from him and need to be impressed in order to give him a multi year extension.   His next start allows for instant redemption.  He takes on the Brewers at Busch next week. 
Yadi Molina gets suspended 5 games today by MLB for making contact with and accidentally spitting on the umpire in Tuesday’s nights game.   A worthy suspension for a calm player who blew a gasket late in the game.  If you watched the roller coaster 8-7 Cardinal victory, you noticed the inconsistent strike zone, the tensions, the emotions and boiling water that was flowing throughout the game.   The umpire was calling a wickedly inconsistent strike zone and it troubled the players.   Molina snapped and completely lost his temper towards the end of the game.  Its normal for players to argue with umpires and get tossed out of a game.  Molina’s behavior was abnormally dangerous and simply bad for baseball.   He took the argument too far.  After a called third strike call inside(a pitch that wasn’t consistently called all night), Molina immediately turned around and opened vocal and physical fire on a seemingly helpless official.   What we don’t know is the possibility of an all game chatter between the two that lit the fuse.  What is known is Molina’s actions warranted a heavy suspension.  What he did in the end was hurt his baseball club in a bad way in the middle of a playoff race.  Molina’s actions were unacceptable for a professional major leaguer.   This is something you would of expected from a minor league bat or a little league coach/dad.   Instead of Tony Rasmus hollering in the umpire’s face, it was a respected ballplayer like Molina.  Bad for business.  If Molina is smart, he’ll avoid a useless appeal, serve his suspension immediately in Florida this weekend and only miss one game with Milwaukee next week.
The Early Returns on the Cardinals Moves the past week are positive.   Jackson will remain an interesting puzzle, the bullpen arms are working well(Rzepcynski and Dotel solid through 4.2 innings), Patterson has provided a bench bat and spot starter, but the biggest change was the addition of Rafael Furcal at shortstop.   For the first time in years, The Cardinals have a spark plug at the top of the lineup and a gold glove caliber shortstop in the field.   Furcal’s arrival pushes Ryan Theriot into a platoon situation at second base with Skip Schumaher and strengthens this team for the long run.   Furcal was coming off an injury, only hitting .200 when he got into St. Louis on Sunday, but he has provided big hits already.  A 2 hit game on Monday, a game saving catch on Tuesday and a 3 run homer on Wednesday.  Less than a week into his time here and Furcal is making an impact.  This is a potentially game changing player.  Furcal can make the great defensive play and provide a big hit.  The cost is only 1.4 million for two months and a potential 12 million option for 2012.  
-Tony La Russa needs to stop using “closer” Fernando Salas in non save situations.   Looking at his appearances in 2011, half of them have been in non save situations and that’s counting since he took over in late May.   Salas has closed every game the past two months, yet still finds himself in tied or out of touch baseball games.   Closer’s can’t be overused or exposed.  They are the finishers, not the mediators.   Salas comes undone and his pitches are less effective after 1 inning of work.   He is becoming more hittable.  Less swings and misses and more dangerous contact.   La Russa must utilize his new bullpen hands and limit Salas to save only situations in order to keep him fresh and effective.
It’s August and the pretending is done.  This team must step up its play and run after this division crown.   The Cardinals could afford to win series’ in May and June.  Now is the time to sweep and dominate teams.   They must walk into Florida this weekend and take at least 3 of 4 or else the games are useless.   With Milwaukee playing the hapless Astros, the Cards can’t afford to lose right now.   The division deficit is 3.5 games, and if it grows by the time The Brewers arrive Tuesday, the Cards chances of catching starts to diminish.  August means teams need to step up and perform.   With the trades and healthy players returning, the Cardinals have no more excuses.  Its do or die for this frustratingly exciting bunch. 
Getting away from Cardinals news for now and going into free style.
Rams Signings
A good set of moves that won’t include any “wow” reactions, but GM Billy Devaney filled holes on the roster.  He signed a beast of an offensive guard in Harvey Dahl, signed an outside linebacker/pad popper in Zach Diles, brought in talented safety Quentin Mekkel(replacing Atogwe), and signed two running backs in Jerius Norwood and Cadillac Williams to provide a speed burst behind Steven Jackson.   Also, in my favorite move, the Rams signed wide receiver Michael Sims-Walker, a quality receiver from Jacksonville.  These are quality low key roster moves made by a team that drastically needed to improve in key areas.   Instead of practice squad running backs behind SJ, the Rams now employ two established halfbacks.   Sam Bradford gets an established receiver to throw to in Walker and gets more protection in Dahl.   Zach Diles will complement most valuable defensive player James Lauranitas.  Withou 100,000 dollars to cut before tomorrow, the Rams upgraded their roster.  
NFL News
The laughable part of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is the slow movement of the ratification of the agreement, allowing new players to practice with their teams.  Today, at 4pm, the new Rams players were pulled off the field because the votes weren’t in from the players.   That is pure laziness.   It will be fitting when these players get into a preseason game and find out how big of a mistake it was for this negotiating period to drag out so long.  Injuries will happen.  Emotions will run high.   Coaches will add gray hairs and grate the nerves.   Owners will pour a whiskey.   Players will feel the pain of days and weeks lost toying around in suits and shorts.  Any more delay in the CBA ratification would be futile.  
Randy Moss isn’t retired.  He is waiting for a team to pour more money in his agent’s direction.    Call this Brett Favre holdout, Part 2.  Moss retired on Monday, but a smart football knows that decision is far from final.   Moss doesn’t want to go through training camp, so he is waiting for a team to lose a wide receiver and come calling with a better offer.  My hope is that it isn’t the Rams, who really don’t need his bad attitude, lack of involvement on plays and playoff collapsing ability unless our roster is weakened.  As much as Moss hovers over the NFL, The Rams won’t bite.   
Peyton Manning signed a worthy 5 year, 90 million dollar contract on Saturday, ending his long discussions with Colts ownership and proving how much of a team player he is.   The Colts wanted to make Manning the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, but Peyton turned the bigger contract down and asked for Tom Brady money.   Manning has only one Super Bowl ring, but he is a guaranteed producer.  He takes his teams to the playoffs, puts up big numbers and turns ordinary wide receivers into Pro Bowl performers.   He earns that paycheck, being the face of the franchise and having played in 240 plus straight games.   That streak may be in jeopardy with a neck surgery performed in the offseason, but I doubt it prevents Peyton from playing in September.  One bite of the lockout was players being unable to meet with their team physicians.   When you are recovering from your second neck surgery, the need is critical to work with a trainer who is familiar with your body and makeup.   Manning is going to miss some camp but will be ready to play this season.  When it comes to getting the job done, Peyton is as sure as rain.  His playoff success has improved and it would be fool hardy to place the entire blame of the Colts last two playoff defeats solely on Manning’s shoulders. 
The Eagles made the biggest free agent splash but that doesn’t mean they can beat the Packers, Saints or Cowboys.   Teams that look good on paper still need to walk into camp, games and earn a playoff spot.   If Michael Vick stays healthy, the chances are high.  If DeSean Jackson avoids a long holdout, the chances are high.   If Vince Young doesn’t prove to be a cancer, the chances are high.   If the defense can properly insert 3 great corners into the defense, the chances are high.   In sports, the “if’s” outweight the paper potential.  Hold your bets Las Vegas. 
Blues News
David Perron won’t start the 2011-2012 season on this team as an active player.  If the last sentence surprised you, congratulations, you are an idiot.   Perron and his agent met with team officials yesterday and came to a decision that due to Perron’s lack of ice time, he won’t be ready to go in September or October.  Don’t expect to see the frenchman until 2012,  if you ask me.   The logic here is clear.  Perron hasn’t skated with the team since his injury, a deadly mid ice collision with Joe Thornton in November.   Perron hasn’t seen game activity in 9 1/2 months.   That is too long to see this guy get whipped into shape in less than two months for game activity.   When will he be able to take a decent hit?  Perform on a 90 second shift?  When will Perron hold value to this team’s record again?  The question is up in the air along with the potential sale of the team? 
Here’s a bet.  The team gets sold before Perron suits up for a game.  You can take my word and dangle it over a fire if you want.  I simply don’t see Perron entering a real game or a physical practice session before the new year begins.   A highly unfortunate injury for a talented young player.  Perron only weighs 165 pounds soaking wet and isn’t a collision ready player to begin with.  His recovery will take time.  Right now, Perron is dead to this team.  If you think that was too dramatic, you don’t know hockey.
This is a make or break year for Jaroslav Halak.  Entering the second year of a four year highly lucrative contract, the Slovakian youngster needs to carry this team and become the star goalie the team set him up to be.   Halak’s performance makes or breaks this team.  The Blues will score goals this season and be consistent.   The question is will Halak back up their play with sound goaltending.  It remains to be seen.  While the defense in front of him was suspect at times, Halak’s play needed to be at a higher level. 
It would be nice to avoid the phony cheesy television commercials with Blues players awkwardly walking down streets being followed by fans or David Backes telling us they are in it to win.   At least the Cards spots involve humor and a little class.  The Blues TV spots come off as a team begging its fan base to come out for another season.  Save the money on the spots and put it towards the team.  One more thing.  Don’t show me Andy McDonald walking down the street and expect me to be scared.  I would bash that scrawny runt to a pulp off the ice.  Two years ago, the spots showed Blues players like Oshie, McDonald and Erik Johnson walking down the streets looking tough.   Please, dudes!  Save the cash and put it into real effort and wins.
TV Recommendations-
Rescue Me On FX
Once again, gents, this is the best show on television.   After last night’s thrilling start to finish hour involving firefighter Tommy Gavin going through the gauntlet of giving 9/11 interviews for the 10th anniversary, Denis Leary reminded us once again why he is painfully overlooked on this show.  An underrated dramatic actor who fits into the role here of Gavin and consumes every one of his demons.   Tommy Gavin is a man who has taken every wrong turn in his life and is starting to pay for his mistakes, publically and personally.  When you have an affair with your best friend’s wife, cheat on your wife constantly, drink like a fish, take too many risks on the job and repeat these mistakes for years, a person runs into monumental problems.   There are no gimmicks here, gents.   Just hardcore brutal drama. 

The General Idea of Rescue Me’s last season carries a variety of questions to be solved by September 11th, 2011.

-Will Tommy Gavin die?  After years of avoiding death and barely escaping the clutches of his mortality, will Tommy make it out alive?  This is the beauty of a cable network.  They don’t have to worry about keeping their main character alive because when they say they’re done, its for real.  All bets are off.

-If Tommy doesn’t die, who will?  Every week carries a reality show like competition, where you are lining up odds on who makes it to the next episode in this drama that keeps you off guard with the light dark comedic moments mixed with dark ambitious ones.

-Will Tommy either drink his way back into trouble or cheat on his wife, Janet(whose pregnant by the way) before the end?  When it comes to Gavin, his shortcomings walk around wherever he goes.  If there is a vodka and a willing lady ready to open the gates, trouble awaits for a Gavin.  If he does cheat, will it be with cool cancer patient Tracy or with ex-flame/crazy bitch Sheila?

-How many episodes pass by until Tommy Gavin’s next legendary rant about being badass, running into fires, breathing smoke on a regular basis, on 9/11, and on the everyday roller coaster that consumes his life? Every season carries at least one TG rant and it is glorious.  Give Example.

-Will there be a happy ending or a grim finish?  Ask Tommy Gavin in last week’s episode if there are positive outcomes and he bluntly told a 9/11 reporter, “there are no happy endings”.   Since the show is a tribute to 9/11, a few will bit the dust but there will be a hopeful outcome.

-Will the show get any respect at next year’s Emmy’s?  For years, Denis Leary and company have been looked over for any winners and that is downright fraud.  For 7 seasons, Rescue Me has been a dynamite unpredictable thrill ride of an inside look at the heroes that put out the fire.   Where is the love?  Rescue Me is a groundbreaking show.  How many other firefighter dramas are out there?  Denis Leary took a sensitive subject, withheld the melodramatic manipulative tendencies and simply inserted gritty storytelling into the tale of heroism.  His endeavor took a healthy set of brass balls, and ask any critic around and the crew pulled it off.   Leary and Peter Tolan.  Whenever a new cop show, legal drama or hospital drama comes to the table, they are copying a formular and adding their own spin to it.  Rescue Me took a hard subject matter(heroes personal lives) and made it funny, thrilling and personal.  That’s worth an honor.  On most shows, you get 1 or 2 highly developed characters.  On Rescue Me, every character carried a particular set of dimensions.  How many times can you hand a prize to 30 Rock or Mad Men?

Watch this show because it is the best show on television and worth the next tasting session when your need for a new show comes along.

DVD Reviews-Conviction and Casino Jack.   Here are two worthy, compelling true stories brought to film that are worth your time in a living room, if not a movie theater.   Conviction stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell and tells the story of a woman who goes to law school in order to prove her brother is innocent of murder.   Swank and Rockwell are great and the story, while predictable, tells itself and leaves a bite at the end.   A sad get lucky tale that is better digested at home where the expectations are lower.   Casino Jack is an intriguing look at the powerful super lobbyist Jack Abramoff(a perfectly casted Kevin Spacey), who was the biggest piece of “infleunce” around Washington before he went to jail 6 years ago.  Abramoff specialized in influencing different parties in ways to invest their money and become richer.  In the process, Abramoff and his partner, Mike Scanton(Barry Pepper), got rich as theives and lived the high life until a Washington reporter and an Indian community brought them down for fraud.  Abramoff and Scanton’s actions lead to corruption, murder and the two face the price of living off the movements of others.   A hard hitting film that’s deliciously enjoyed at home and features another great performance from Spacey.  The first scene of the film is the table setting moment where Spacey’s renegade stares into a bathroom mirror and goes on a 5 minute rant defending his profession, ending it with Abramoff’s catchphrase, “And I work out every day!”.   His game was confidence and hustle, which led to a downfall.  Check out either films and come away satisfied with a compelling true American story.

A 9/11 Rant

With the 10 year anniversary rapidly approaching us, I will start sprinkling little rants about that day and the effects that still exist a decade later.  Unless you have ice running through your veins, that tragic day took a piece out of you and caused you to stop and realize at once that anything can happen and life isn’t a guaranteed pass.   In one day, 3,000 people lost their lives, including over 343 firefighters and over 300 cops, first responders and security workers.  When the World Trade Center towers were struck by planes on a Tuesday morning and unleashed a cloud of black smoke and death over New York, a memory was implanted in your brain.  Ask anyone and they can give you a story. Here is what I don’t like.  The first 9/11 rant here will be about remembering the final stats of the day.   Since the infamous afternoon, many have come forward and drawn up conspiracy theories and the idea of US government involvement.  I am not against the idea of Bush’s corruption stemming from these attacks and wouldn’t be surprised if the truth came out that the Bush Family was in bed with the Bin Ladens.   However, there are some people who take this issue too far and forget about the selflessness and heroism that happened that day.  Whether or not corruption was present or terrorists simply caught our country off guard, the reality is the same.  Over 3,000 people died that day and whatever the truth is, they stay dead.   If a theory was proved right, it isn’t like a mother, father, son, daughter, friend, grandmother or stranger will all of a sudden pop out of the grave and come alive.  That’s the problem with death.  The crime can be solved but the dead stay dead in the end.   A close friend of mine thinks there were no planes at all that day and the images were fabricated.  Honest.  What is forgotten is the loss that occured that day and the efforts of many to save lives.  When people were sprinting from the Towers, firemen, police and paramedics were running towards the building and died when the Towers collapsed.  That’s heroism that can’t be forgotten.  The only thing survivors can do is honor their memory by respecting the effort and not spitting all over it by mixing up political jargon and weightless theories.  We, as a country of survivors and living breathing souls, are better than that.

Cardinals Update-The Current line on Kyle Lohse right now.  50 pitches, 3 runs, 6 hits, and 4 outs recorded.   That’s right.  Lohse blew a 3-0 lead and has surrendered 8 base runners without recording 6 outs.   Horrible.  Another example of why this team isn’t going anywhere is the paltry starting pitching the past 6 weeks.  While the bullpen has improved and the lineup produces, the rotation(Lohse especially) isn’t getting the job done.  They aren’t doing their part.   Kyle Lohse avoids a big inning, getting a double play to keep the game tied at 3.   However, he has thrown 53 pitches through two inning, which means he is barely finishing 5 tonight.   After throwing 65 pitches through 5 against the Cubs on Saturday, this is unacceptable and will force the bullpen to see significant action again tonight.  Big problem in little city.

Side Note-Matt Holliday is having another quietly productive season.  After missing 20 games, Holliday is hitting .316 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI and is one of the hardest working players on the team.

Back to Things to Watch-

Brian Wilson On Showtime’s The Franchise

The SF Giants closer is every bit a character as you think he is when seen on this solid cable sports series, which follows the Giants in 2011 as they defend their world championship.   Whether its discussing a snack he likes to eat(BBQ pop chips with chalua), talking about 9/11 or dressing like a biker with style, Wilson is pure entertainment.  The man is an interesting ball of emotion, intellegience, and quirky humor.  When describing the snack, Wilson comes alive with energy, repeating to the interviewer, “It’s so good, so good”.    From the mega beard to the wickedly surprising sense of humor, Wilson is the reason to watch this show.   Other than that, its a solid interesting show.  Anytime cable mixes with sports for a series, the result is golden. 

Daddy Blog

Tomorrow, I get to see Vinny on the ultrasound screen again.   For the last few weeks, I’ve missed appointments due to a heavy workload at the warehouse, so I am excited to see my son tomorrow.  Spending the nights feeling his kicks and watching a remote get moved on my wife’s belly is good theater, but the time has come to lock eyes with this guy on a screen.   There is less than two months to go before I officially become responsible for this kid, so the waiting is starting to get cut short.  Anxiety and patient excitement fill my days while I watch Rachel get bigger and bigger.   Feelings over becoming a parent feel like becoming the owner of a car or house, only heightened to a much broader level.   You never know what kind of dad you’ll become until you are one.  Here’s to a solid first one on one encounter with Vincent.  

Political Frustration

Look, I have nothing personally against Barack Obama and I voted for him in 2008, but in the end, he won’t be able to fix much in this economy.   He has tried, faltered, tried and faltered.   Its not his fault particularly.  He works in a faulty system, called Washington DC.  Every time I hear someone complain about Obama, I roll my eyes and ask them what did they really expect.  By now, we have to know.  We won’t be able to believe a President or look for an impact until 2025.   There is so much debt caused by Clinton, Bush, and Obama that any move by a leader ends up being a deeper hole.   This much is known.  George W. Bush was a horrible President, a C-average earning alcoholic son of a President who fell into the ownership of the Texas Rangers, fell into a college diploma, fell into the Governor’s seat and eventually and regretfully fell into a President’s chair.  Look, people, the man can’t speak properly or spell.   He wasn’t the answer, got the country into wars that with good intent but horrible strategy.  Obama signed a health care bill that left millions without it, caught and killed Obama but covered up an Oil Spill and is lying to this day about the debt factor.  Every time a politician opens his mouth and produces a dish, the recipe is 85 percent bullshit and 15 percent hope.   That’s politics in the end.   A worthlessly unsatisfying unforgiving GAME.  Call me when Henry Rollins makes it into office to dish out real truth, or when a lady not named Sarah Palin makes it into office.  At the very least, make the game interesting.

Another baseball note-The Pittsburgh Pirates are sinking fast.   Since their series loss to St. Louis, the Pirates have sunk below .500, 6 games out of first place and are on the verge of being swept by the Chicago Cubs tonight at home.   This isn’t a surprise.  The Pirates are a young, inexperienced team looking for the extra push in the final two months.  This team hasn’t contended since 1993 and find themselves in an awkward spot in no man’s land.  All along, I told you this division wouldn’t be decided until the last week of the season.   I still believe that.  What I refuse to believe are the Pirates being involved in this race in September.  The fall will continue.  Since the win over the Cardinals in Sunday walkoff fashion,  The Pirates are 1-9 and on the verge of their second straight series sweep and 7th loss in a row.  With the Reds falling away quick, this is becoming a two team race.

Scary Moment for the Cards-David Freese catches a high fastball to the helmet and leaves the game tonight.   Freese took the pitch off the head and went down and eventually left.  This will result in a couple days of rest. 

Albert Pujols Fights back and Shows his Worth-Against the Marlins tonight, Albert is 2-2 with a long home run, a single, a walk and three runs scored.   He also started a nifty double play from his knees in the 4th inning.  In less than half a game, Pujols is reminding you what he is worth to this team when he is on.  

Music Recommendation

The Dead Weather-“Die By The Drop”

Jack White’s second passion project, the LZ inspired funky rock band infused with the goddess of rock, Alison Mosshart(The Kills), delivers a true blues rock classic here.   Coming off their second album, Sea Of Cowards, this tune is consistently great and can be enjoyed on many levels.  White’s specialty is guitar, but here he plays the drums and slips into the background, creating an ensemble of musicians delivering a sound that is at once familiar yet untraceable.  Here’s the song.  Listen please.

http://youtu.be/K0YI0UUazkU

Cowboys and Aliens Intrigue-There is one real reason(and smaller ones) to see this film, which I will tonight after I wrap up this epic taut blog at the Moolah Theater.  Pure Summer Fun.  While it will prove to be a box office failure and critical bomb, I want to see it for three reasons. 

1.)The chance to see Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford match tough personas and go head to head on screen.   Craig stepped into Bond’s shoes smoothly and Ford is the classic man of few words, so I am interested in this matchup in a cowboy setting.  In one year, Craig will star as a cowboy, as an obsessed reporter in Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and put on the tux for a third Bond film.  Ford is collecting aging actor support on the final wheels of a long career.  Good chance this could be one of Ford’s last rides in the saddle.

2.)Olivia Wilde’s gorgeous face, body and ability.  Wilde is a step above most pretty faces in Hollywood.  As she has proved on Fox’s HOUSE, Alpha Dog, Tron and here, Wilde is more than a sex symbol. A small sample size but worth noting.  She has a slowly budding future as an actress with looks.  I don’t see an Oscar in her future, but what I do see is an interesting blend of beauty, free style talent and ambition.  She dumped her Italian Prince of a boyfriend in real life and signed up for a western.  Along with her looks, I like it.

3.)Jon Faveau playing with toys in the desert which are anchored by deeper moments in between.  The film’s high points will include special effects filled battles between the cowboys and the invading aliens.  However, the quiet moments will be appreciated.  The man with no name element of Craig’s character, who wakes up in the desert with a weird metallic lit up bracelet on his hand capable of deadly ambition.  The fact that his character can’t remember anything except for a woman being yanked out of their house into a ship.  The mystery of the characters real intentions. 

Basically, why not check out a summer action film with tough guys, hot women and some fantasy?  Better than two hours of reality television.

What’s on tap this weekend-

-The Changeup, a comedy from the director of Wedding Crashers and writers of The Hangover, starring Jason Batemen and Ryan Reynolds as friends who accidentally swap bodies while pissing in a fountain.   One is a family/job driven family man.  The other is a ladies man with no direction or future.  Guess which one starts as one and ends up as the other.   The result is killer comedy.  

-Rise of the Apes.  The real intrigue here is simple.  My favorite animal group are apes.  Gorillas, monkeys, chimps.  Getting to see the spectacle of a Kong sized ape leap off the Golden Gate bridge and slash a helicopter in two pieces is hard to avoid.   Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake was only good when the focus was the actual monster with a sense of detachment.  The plot is simple.  Planet of the Apes tale on homeland.  James Franco’s doctor takes in a chimp as a medical experiment, placing the ape in his home and teaching him human traits. Think of Project Nim in a fictional tale.  Soon enough, the Ape attacks a stranger, gets thrown into a lab, tested on, and eventually unites with his fellow apes and attacks the city.   Bad things happen.  Monkeys gone wild.  

-A Brewery Tour at Anheuser Busch, featuring the official meeting between me and my favorite beer, Shocktop.   Beer making.  Free beer.  History lesson.  90 minutes of it.  Count me in.

-An 8 hour pregnancy course at St. Johns on Sunday.   All day breathing, stretching, learning and baby school.  Getting ready to have a baby school.  Every time I think about the birth of a child, I think of this. 

http://youtu.be/mOP52g_rO24

With that dose of Mr. Cosby, my time here is done.  There isn’t much more to say here because I am pretty sure I have said it all.   There comes a time where you must decide to stop.   For me, that time is now. 

Thanks for reading, and if you made it this far, find me and I will buy you a drink. 

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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