I am here to point out a few things. A power packed power point presentation with little leeway for negotiation. This is the way I see things and while feedback is welcome, don’t forget this is an opinion or state of mind. Read on my friends.
Why Watch the Cardinals Battle The Dodgers at Busch This Week-
On Lance Berkman’s Nickname, “Puma”
Denis Leary’s Tweets
Leary’s tweets range from cynical bashing to borderline serious ideas. You either find it funny or don’t. I can’t SELL his humor to anybody, but I do think what the man has to say is worthy of a look if not an explanation. Leary is topical and original and hits everything with his own irish spin. I dig it. Here’s his tweet today about 9/11.
Helmets are a safety weapon, but they do look very funny and only stand up in certain situations. I respect the attitude and view here and will agree most of the time, helmets aren’t needed and don’t look good. However, with the completely stupid drivers who roam the streets, sometimes a good helmet is needed. The price you pay to be safe on the roads.
The Green Movement
People, this is largely a pack of bullshit wrapped up into a phony batch of optimism. After a healthy chat with a close friend(whose name won’t be used but his input will), let me break it down for you. Going green doesn’t help anything or won’t starve off global warming. When you use electric cars, electricity is being used so natural energy is still being required. Natural energy sources are still being depleted. It’s a big joke to go hybrid unless you need a cheaper form of transportation. You aren’t helping anyone. Instead of proceeding with this phony element, lets look into creating alternate forms of energy. There’s your ticket. Instead of remaining in connection with and leaning on Iraq’s oil supply, lets create different sources of energy to power our cars that doesn’t included gas and doesn’t suck up electricity. Create alternate types of useable energy and stop draining our original sources. That’s the harder part no one wants to dip into. It’s easier to pronounce green and run behind a fake brand. Chris and I were giving Rachel, a recycling lady herself, a little hard time by examining the way water bottles are dispensed with. They are burned using Natural Heat, and that smoke goes into the air and pollutes the shit out of our living breathing area. There’s always a gain in revenue or commerce involved with the green movement. Corporations make tons of cash off of it. When Al Gore’s fat ass made the Inconvinent Truth(not the film about his three chins), he was looking out for himself as well. There’s no way to truly stop global warming. The world is going to eventually come to an end and I will be there to take its biggest punch and won’t need a green environment to do so. He made millions every time people bought phony carbon bonds. Gore is a fraud who couldn’t beat a dumb hick for President, didn’t want to get a real job so he tackled global warming instead. Let me tell you something, Al Gore will be long gone from this world if it ever goes up in smoke. He doesn’t really care. Going green is a phony brand of optimism. The only reason I recycle is to keep Rae off my back. Its one of those things we disagree on yet I toss my beer bottle in the special can just to get her to shut the fuck up. Here’s my hope that The Sawtooth bottle survives extermination and becomes the leader of a small beer bottle pack. Id pay to see that. Organic food is something I don’t get too excited about either. Organic food tastes like shit and doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs. I can eat a lean steak, a piece of chicken or grilled fish and get plenty of protein and vitamins while sucking down a glass of regular 2 percent milk to get my calcium and eat real mac and cheese for the pure taste. Organic, like going green, is just another phony brand of commercial power. It reminds me of the early days where people made up the idea of GOD, and told the dumb people to live like this and only eat this. It’s an attempt at getting more money and power. A classic power play. Whole Foods Market is the biggest rip off joint. Charging 9 dollars for a piece of organic germ free chicken. Selling specialized fruit drinks at ridiculous prices that doesn’t give you more than a simple glass of orange juice. The place to go for food(healthy, good tasting natural joy) is Sam’s. Best bang for buck, especially if you eat a ton. You can go to Sams and buy a monster package of Bacon, pack of shredded cheddar cheese and a pack of water for under 15 dollars and be set for a month. There is nothing fucking organic about it.
So, yes, the green movement sucks and I wouldn’t mind jamming a bottle down one of these supreme optimists throats. The Organic food raid is also a load of bullshit.
Power packed episode of Rescue Me last week. With the final season marching towards a 9/11 memorial session, last week’s hour ran a truck into a brick wall when it came to the infamous day. After a few hours of tiptoeing around a touchy subject, we got a dose of pain. The hour started with Gavin and his crew staring straight into the Ground Zero hole, and after it led to a wide open discussion of the need or lack of a need for a monument. I know most of you are starting from the beginning but if you want a reason to dive into this series, last week’s 9/11 centered episode has the reach to pull you in. After the guys meet at Ground Zero and stare into the abyss, they go to a diner. At breakfast, the chief tells Gavin and the guys why memorials are overrated. One of the guys talks about there being no 9/11 memorial(there is now, two waterfall fountains with the names aligning the barrier above). The Chief reminds them about the real way to remember someone and talks about going to look at the Vietnam wall and saying it didn’t do much for him and that he didn’t want to see the men’s names that served under him and died under him there. Instead, he pulls out pictures of them and tells stories. He tells them that you have remember the people’s deeds, their faces and what they died for instead of a fucking memorial/monument. It hit me so hard because that’s what I said about Troy and keeping him alive through memory. If you want, check it out on FX’s web site or on FX all week. Its a great hour of television and doesn’t spoil much for a future beginner.
A technical reason to watch. See how Edwin Jackson finishes, which determines his value next season. Jackson is an intriguing case of talent and misdirection in his career. Will he ever be able to put the finishing touches on his power pack arsenal of pitches. Take out the rough start in Milwaukee and Jackson has pitched capably for this team. His situation effects the rotation after the season. He is put into a pool with Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse. Seeing how Jackson finishes determines what the Cardinals try to do with Lohse and/or Westbrook. Will he stay or go?
If Berkman gets too greedy, reach out to Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick will never put together the 30 HR/100 RBI seasons he did early in his Cards career, but he is still capable of driving in 90 runs, hitting .270, bashing 15-20 HR and playing a strong right field. Berkman returned the favor to the Cards in performing higher than expectations, which means he may reach for a 3 year deal worth more money than the Cards can give. After seeking a multi year deal in 2010, Ludwick’s status has taken a hit and he will come cheaper. Lud played well in St. Louis and left too soon, and with the loss of Rasmus and potential loss of Berkman, Lud is an option.
What separates Cards and Brewers in the past 2 months? Starting pitching. The Brewers have plenty of it and the Cards’ rotation went soft in the second half of the season. Since mid June, Cardinals starters haven’t reached the 7th inning on a regular basis or strung together quality starts. The Brewers have thrived off their starting pitching, led by Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Pitching has separated the top two teams in the NL Central. This is an area where the Cards were handicapped early with the loss of Adam Wainwright, but struggled more with the demise of Kyle McClellan and Kyle Lohse to go with the mixed bag specials of Jake Westbrook and Edwin Jackson. For the second season in a row, the Cards made an unsuccessful trade to patch up a bad injury. In 2010, they traded for Westbrook, giving up Ludwick when Brad Penny went down in May. This season, the Cards suffered the major loss of Waino and ended up trading Colby Rasmus for Jackson’s services, who has been decent yet unable to prop this team up and gas it up for a run.
The Biggest Need(after signing AP)-A true closer. Fernando Salas did a commendable job this season, and has closed 22 of 26 games and improved an early season rough spot. However, this team needs a shutdown closer for 2012. Since the malfunction of Isringhausen and Franklin’s ineffectiveness, the Cards have lacked a true closer and haven’t seen playoff success since the last time the ninth inning looked confident, which was back in 2006 with Adam Wainwright blazing a trail towards World Series glory. Admit it or not, finding a closer is the biggest challenge this offseason if this team cares to contend. Looking at a full season’s work, Salas would blow 6-8 games and that’s not going to work. If it means handing serious cash to Heath Bell and going cheap in center, right and second base, do it. Without a finishing touch, the starter and lineup mean little.
More Offseason Ideas–
Carpenter is up for a 15 million dollar extension. The Cards need to approach Carp and renegotiate a new 2 year extension, pulling the per year price tag down to 10 million per season and adding incentives. Carpenter has proved he can still pitch at an elite level with his second half surge, but his extended rough patch drew up concern. Look, Carpenter owes the Cards a couple years. His arm blew out in 2007, and he was paid for 2007-2008 20 million dollars worth to make 5 starts as he healed from Tommy John surgery. The Cards gave him a chance when no team wanted a look at him in 2004. Business is business but he needs to remember the past here. It does play a factor here. Carp is an important piece of this team in the future, but he needs to rethink the dollars.
Rafael Furcal, sprained thumb or not, has changed the infield defense drastically. Add in Furcal and take out Theriot and the errors have decreased. He adds wins to the rotation with his defensive range and offers pop at the top of the lineup in true leadoff fashion. He is up for a 12 million dollar option as well, but the Cards and Furcal will be wise to sit down and figure out an extension that offers Furcal security but pays him less annually. Furcal can hit .350 the rest of the way in 2011, but his season will be a huge downer and he needs to recognize his age and injury factor. He is an elite defensive shortstop and can still offer offensive support as well, so this is something both sides must work out.
I’d rather not see Lohse for another season. He is 11-7 with a decent ERA in 2011, but he simply isn’t a commodity any longer. He starts hot and fizzles quickly. He is a guy who struggles to get through a lineup the third time and hits a wall in most starts. He had 6 wins in early June and has went 5-6 since with horrible results. Take away offensive support and you see 2-3 wins drop off Lohse’s plate of accomplishments. It’s an ugly situation that started with an overblown contract given to Lohse after one solid season in 2008. 3 years into a bad 4 year contract, Lohse seems expendable. Jackson has age and potential over Lohse. If Jackson finishes well, the Cards must find a way to work Lohse out of the equation via a drop or trade.
After dropping 2 of 3 over the weekend to the redhot Chicago Cubs at Wrigley, thus dropping out of the race completely, it’s fitting to look at the actual reasons the Cards failed to contend in 2011. As one friend said today, just say they suck and be finished with the rant. That is something I can’t and won’t do. As the great Bill Simmons said, everything must be explored because every questions deserves an answer. I must find out every reason why we won’t contend in 2011 because it makes things easier for me. Being a diehard fan of a team is like being strapped to a bomb that takes a long time to explode. You know by the middle of the ride up into the sky if it was right or wrong to stay this long. Here are a list of reasons why the Cards aren’t a playoff team in 2011(with an assist from Bernie Miklasz)-
-135 double plays
-22 blown saves
-29-28 against weak NL Central
-Not good at home, going 16-25 since June
-bad defense overall, with too many errors on the infield
-An overall weak rotation
-Inconsistent bullpen(lots of changes, little consistency outside of Jason Motte)
-A Down year from AP
The Cards aren’t good enough. Look at the Cubs series. If the Big 3 don’t hit, the team loses. Pujols, Holliday and Berkman went a combined 1-14 in the two losses on Friday and Saturday. They found ways to win without them in the first half of the season. On Sunday, the Big 3 combined for 7 hits, 8 plate appearances in 15 at bats and the Cards won 6-2. The home run is playing too much of a part in the Cardinals attack in the second half. After the first half saw manufactured runs, the Cards hit for their wins or drown in defeat. On Sunday, they hit 4 home runs and won. On Saturday, they hit zero and got shut out. The Cards blew two crucial games this week on Wednesday and Friday. Blown saves, a reliance on the home run, and a lack of overpowering starting pitching make a recipe for unsuccessful baseball. The Cardinals are 8.5 games out of first place in the Central and 9 games out of the wildcard race. I won’t tell you to prepare for football and hockey just yet, but if you are wondering about Busch Stadium action in October, it better include a tour or grounds crew work.
Moving on to more positive ground-
The Blues owner Dave Checketts set a deadline for today for prospective buyers to present an offer to buy the team. That doesn’t mean he will see an offer he likes or will be accepting something soon. An intriguing game I am playing is wondering which I will see first this year. A new Blues owner or David Perron playing a shift in a real game for this team. With Monday’s deadline set and 2-3 potential buyers stalking Scottrade, I will stick with my early guess and pick new owners before Perron action. This team has plenty of young talent and a balanced roster and a future upside to go with sold out home games, so a money man has to come in sooner rather than later. Right???
The Rams looked impressive..and shaky on Saturday in their 17-16 win over the Titans. Sam Bradford fired a 83 yard touchdown pass early and finished 7-15 for 40 yards the rest of the first quarter while Aj Feeley tossed a touchdown pass to Donnie Avery in the third quarter. Steven Jackson only ran for 10 yards on 6 carries, showing zero signs of impersonating a semi truck. The Rams run defense got shredded for 200 yards by a Tennessee running game that lacked Chris Johnson. The Rams secondary looked shaky while recording their 3rd interception of the preseason. However, Rams 3rd string QB Thaddeus Lewis enginneered an impressive 2 minute warning drive to set up Josh Brown for a 42 yard game winning field goal as time expired, giving the Rams another win. Preseason games are meaningless in wins or losses, but more capable to set a winning mentality that is a good sign for this team. If the games are meaningless, the forward progress of a young team working with new parts, a shortened schedule and a 2nd year savior quarterback is good to see.
-Here are other thoughts on this team.
*Bradford is the man to lead this team to another Super Bowl. Look into this kid’s eyes and you see intelligience, a will to win and a drive that few young quarterbacks can own up to in this league. When we selected him, I was skeptical about his health and long term tolerability to the fast strict game of this profession, but he has impressed me in his 1 year plus time in a Rams uniform. The playoff hopes fall directly on his shoulders and I think he is up to the challenge. It isn’t about the money with this kid. Ask him how he did Saturday and he will tell you he did pretty bad, because the kid demands excellence and that is a winning mentality this team is wisely building around.
*The Rams proved they could bounce back from a rough defensive night and an average night from their main man in order to steal a win. Lewis intrigues at the 3rd QB spot.
*Failing to keep WR Mark Clayton could come back to harm this team if Avery or Danario Alexander don’t hold up to a 16 game schedule or barely escape the first 6 games. Clayton was a legit playmaker before hurting his knee last season, and letting him walk to New England wasn’t a smart move.
*Josh Brown is living up to his potential as the “big clutch foot” in late spots. Rams fans know this guy from his triumphs with the Seahawks earlier in his career, but he is settling in here in St. Louis as a reliable late game kicker. He booted a 60 yarder last week against the Colts to go with 3 other field goals, and on Saturday kicked 2 game winning 42 yard bombs in the 4th quarter. After Titans coach Mike Munchak chose to freeze Brown after his first kick, Brown fired a dead center winner. On a team learning a new offense and carrying a suspect defense, there will be close games in 2011 and my money is on Brown winning a few games for this team with his right foot.
*The Rams running game looks strong, albeit with Jackson’s light workload. Cadillac Williams continues to impress and will form an unstoppable unit with Jackson and Norwood. Will all 3 hold up? The acquisitions of Williams and Norwood was a pure injury proof move.
*There is so much to like about James Lauranitis that it’s hard to find a starting spot. He commands the defense, looks to improve in his 3rd season and is only getting better. Lauranitis is a leader and took control in his rookie season. He works harder than anybody on this team and also carries a humble head on his shoulders. The Rams defense requires a center piece and James has fallen right into that spot and will pay off hugely in incorporating Zach Diles into the unit. Lauranitis is a surefire fan favorite and for good reason. The kid is 100 percent blue collar hard work personified.
Preseason or not, the Rams look intriguing and easily the strongest team in the NFC West. However, a potential tortureous first half of the season awaits and the second half doesn’t let up too much, so they must continue to improve and make themselves legit. Progress doesn’t have strong legs.
The Little League World Series probably doesn’t belong on national television but I will be honest and say I have watched a few innings this weekend. Some of the kids have real talent and will be names that see big league action in the future. It’s a change of pace to watch kids play the game for the pure joy of winning before the horror sets in the form of real potential.
There are movies to see at the theater, but I haven’t made it to one in a couple weeks due to money cutbacks and a lack of a “must see” film. Fright Night looks fun simply for the joy of watching talented actor Colin Farrell take another page from the unpredictable book in playing a blood thirsty comedy delivering vampire, but it isn’t worth 9 dollars. One Day, starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, is a thoughtful love story about two people who run into each other on July 15th every year no matter what, but it too isn’t worth 9 dollars. What is worth 9 dollars? Right now, nothing. 30 Minutes or Less carries a potentially funny scheme in seeing Jesse Eisenberg running around with a strapped bomb from the director of Zombieland, but it doesn’t look compact enough. With age comes careful selections in theaters, and becoming a dad limits the cash flow. I will be arriving in a theater some time soon and you will be the first to know, but lately I am content watching First Blood(the best Rambo film by far) on Cinemax HD and rewatching Ben Affleck’s heartfelt cops/robbers Boston tale The Town on HBO HD. Until then, feel free to send me a movie review or reason to go to the movies. The Changeup is the funniest film I have seen in 2011(with a small edge over Horrible Bosses and Hangover 2) and it was the last film I saw. Help wanted but not needed here.
After watching another episode of the Franchise, A Season With the Giants, I have a newfound respect for Brian Wilson. While he is a crackerjack comedian in the clubhouse and a man who fully indulges in his cult legend status, a personal story drew me in last week. After every save, Wilson turns away from home plate and crosses his arms in the air and looks to the sky. At first glance, it looks like a religious ploy or a wrestling dedication. In reality, Wilson is saluting his dad every time he does it. As a youngster, Wilson lived in a military family and learned the game of baseball from his dad. It was a rough upbringing with strict guidelines, but through his dad, Wilson crafted his future and became the man he is today. At the age of 12, his dad took him for a drive and mixing humor with a tragic situation, told his son he had kidney cancer. From 12 to 17 years of age, Brian Wilson didn’t see his dad much because he was driving around the country for cures and test trials. At the age of 17, his dad beat kidney cancer and things looked up. However, his dad developed brain cancer from the treatment that cured his kidney cancer, and he died soon after. Wilson dedicates every save to his dad by making that gesture. Watching Wilson tell it with such conviction and stone cold sadness, you see a side of the guy that you previously only guessed at. It’s a revealatory episode and worth checking out. The best moment is hearing Wilson tell the story as you see Wilson close out Game 5 of the World Series last winter against the Rangers. He said he could only imagine what his dad would think, seeing all that hard work at a young age pay off. With Wilson on the DL with a sore pitching elbow(he had Tommy John surgery in 2003), I’ll be rooting for his recovery and hoping to see the arms crossed again soon. Wilson owns the most saves of any closer in MLB over the past 4 seasons to go with the colorful attitude.
Music Choice of the Week-The Black Keys, rocking an old blues rock bleeder here on their older record, Rubber Factory, singing the tune “Keep Me”. Starting off with wicked blues guitar followed by a creeping croon from lead singer Dan Auerbach, this song works on every note. From the opening guitar riff to the last scream of desperate joy, its first class action here. Enjoy.
What else is there?
Terrell Pryor will lose 4 games but will be selected by an NFL team in need of a new spark this season. Count the Seahawks, 49ers and Colts as players.
The Arsenal Soccer team is in the process of cutting and players, much to the disliking of the fan base. Head coach Arsene Wenger maintains that he isn’t stubborn but simply wants to buy the right players for a playoff push in the Premier League. The Gunners are trying to keep up with the so called Yankees of Soccer, Barcelona, and that is never easy. After losing 2-0 to Liverpool on Saturday, patience is growing thinner with each game but from my point of view, Wenger is holding firm as he deals with player injuries and suspensions.
Plaxico Burress caught a TD pass from Mark Sanchez for the Jets on Sunday. Who cares? Did people really think the guy lost all his skills in 2 years? Burress biggest challenge will be to maintain a good player/teammate conduct after a career of trouble. Before he shot himself in the leg, Burress struggled to make team practices and meet player conduct rules in New York. Now that he has crossed into Brooklyn, he needs to turn his attitude around and keep his play up.
Novak Djokovic exits a Cincinnati tournament with shoulder pain. That is what happens after you win several majors and over 45 matches in 2011.
Jared Weaver gets a new 5 year, 85 million dollar contract from The Los Angeles Angels. At the age of 28, this is a strong move from LA, making a claim to keep their ace pitcher under wraps until he is into his early 30’s. In 6 seasons with the Angels, Weaver is 78-45 with a 3.30 ERA, including a 14-6 record with a 2.10 ERA in 2011. A solid move. 5 years is a long deal for a pitcher but with Weaver’s age and effectiveness, it works.
Rick Rypien, a 27 year old NHL enforcer/grinder, died on Thursday. He was found dead due to a “sudden and non suspicious” death that looked like suicide at first glance, due to Rypien’s life long struggle with depression. Many dismiss the disease as an excuse, but having lived close to it with a loved one’s struggles with it, I understand its power fully. Depression is a powerful disease that can only be limited and slightly controlled with medicine. Rypien’s career was looking up, as he left Vancover for a 1 year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. Teammates and friends thought the player had his disease in control and were shocked to hear of his death. RR was a tough player, usually fighting bigger enforcers and coming out on the winning end. He was a hard worker and worthy teammate and player. We may never know what really happened but when the details do arrive, the loss will still sting. After Derek Boogard died of a lethal drug overdose, the NHL loses another young hockey player with plenty of life left. Life is a son of a bitch no matter how you slice it.
Daddy Blog Entry-There is now 4 weeks or less until my son arrives at St. Johns Hospital. There are no words for the prep and no rest for the weary. All I can do is wait, learn, listen and get ready for the test of a lifetime. While we all get up every time and hope to keep ourselves in one piece, my journey of responsibility starts this fall in keeping track of a human being. If my son is anything like me, he is going to express his opinion, move endlessly and stop at nothing to get his way. The challenge is teaching him good values, good morals and preparing him for his trek of meaning. While I have found work and passion in life, my goal is to help him locate it as well. A father always wants his son to do greater things than himself. With each version we make in this life, improvement must be made. If that means him rocking the banjo or swinging a baseball bat or wielding jurisdiction in a courtroom or firehouse, I will be happy. The process begins in less than a month. I am both scared shitless and excited at what the next year brings. My life is getting ready to REALLY change. You can’t write this shit. What if my son is born on 9/11/11? Theories.
With that final burst of thought, this latest Buffa State of Mind session is coming to a close. Pulling the curtain down and laying the hands to rest for a few. Until next time, thanks for reading and goodnight. I didn’t expect this message to blow your face off but I do expect this blog to hit you straight in the forehead and get you thinking.