Month: September 2011

The Comeback

Deep breath in….and exhale.  Okay, here we go.

Elliot Ness once said, never stop fighting until the fight is done.  The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals did just that.   Faced with unmistakably tortureous odds, the Cards bared down and outlasted the Atlanta Braves with a 90-72 record to win the NL Wild Card.  On September 5th, The Cardinals were 8.5 games out of first place.  On September 29th, we are a playoff team.   Ask anyone in baseball or in St. Louis, myself included, if this team had a shot of making the playoffs in late August and you would have been laughed at.  However, once the Cards swept the Braves in September and cut the deficit to 4.5 games, everything changed.   There were many nights of comebacks and second chances, but on September 9th, the Cards proved they were in it for real.   Facing one of the best closers in the game, young gunner Craig Kimbrel, down 3-1 in the 9th and facing two outs with runners on second and third, Albert Pujols stepped to the plate.  Pujols worked the count to 1-1 and then bounced a base hit inside the first base line to tie the score and keep the Cardinals breathing.  A loss could have knocked us out.  Instead, an extra inning win that night kept us alive, gave way to a sweep and started the improbable run.  After that game, Albert Pujols went on a terror.  Kimbrel blew 3 more saves, including a huge one last night to set up the Phillies for their extra inning win.  The Cards rotation went into lockdown mode and the bullpen proved reliable.    How did the Cards really make the playoffs?  They finished the season 23-8, including 8 wins against the Brewers, Braves and Phillies.  The Braves finished 9-18 and collapsed, blowing a 10.5 game lead they held on August 25th.   Once again, the fight isn’t over until the fighting is done.  While I grew despondent at times with the team, I never quit watching them and never lost hope.  While their comeback was amazing, it’s surreal and hasn’t settled in yet.  I woke up today late for work and in a mad rush, so I couldn’t soak in the slow pleasing pleasure of a ride to work knowing my team is in.   As the hours roll by, I will sit here in wonder and amazed at my team.  How did it happen, precisely?  Allow me to explain.

The Recap-The Cardinals scored 5 runs in the first inning, added 3 more and easily dispatched the Astros 8-0 in less than 2.5 hours.  Chris Carpenter took the big lead and shut the door like only an ace of the rotation could.   Carp threw a complete game shutout, allowed 6 hits, and struck out 11 against only one walk.   Carp dominated on the most important night of the year.  Carpenter’s individual comeback, along with Pujols’, was impressive and worth the reward.  After starting 1-7 through mid June, Carp finished 10-2 with a 2.29 ERA.  The Cardinals used RBI hits from Pujols, Berkman, Freese and a late home run by Allen Craig to propel them to victory, but Carpenter was the engine behind the strong finish.   When in need, true ace’s stand up.    This is exactly what the Cards had to do against the horrible Astros.  Get a big lead, throw the arm on the mound and punch this team in the mouth quick to strangle the momentum of the evening.   The Cards victory was never in doubt after the first few innings where Carp looked filthy good.

Smaller Highlights of the Game-

*Allen Craig sure makes the absence of Matt Holliday sting less.   Craig has done nothing but hit clutch home runs, collect a .315 BA and drive in nearly 50 runs in only 95 games played.  Craig finished with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in a bench role.  He gives you plenty of options next season.  An exciting young talent.

*Nick Punto and Craig came up huge in the Astros series.  In the last 2 games, Punto and Craig combined to go 11-16 with three home runs and 5 extra base hits.   Teams win games when their bench players can perform as well or better than the players they replaced.   When Rafael Furcal and Holliday went down Monday, Punto and Craig stepped up in a huge way and helped this team secure a playoff spot.

*The bullpen gets a full night’s rest for the first time in weeks.   There aren’t too many complete gamers on the pitching staff, so the bullpen rest is vital before a playoff series.

Looking forward to The Phillies

*The rotation has to be Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Lohse for the five game set.  There is no way you can let Jake Westbrook work a playoff game with his inconsistent arm.   Short playoff rounds only need to carry 4 starters, so Jake will hit the bullpen for the Phillies series.   Lohse shut down the Phillies twice during the 2nd half and had a great second half all together.  He is a good candidate to get the ball twice because that’s the way the rest fits in.   Garcia’s start needs to be scheduled at home and not in Philly.

*While Albert Pujols finished up the season right below .300 and a RBI shy of 100, he still needs to contribute big hits in this Phillies series.   The Cardinals amazing September finish coincided with AP enjoying one of his best months ever.   When AP is on, the lineup is destructive.  If he comes up short in Philly, this will also.

*Cliff Lee scares me more than Halladay or Hamels.    Lee has as good of pitches and the right mentality to start a playoff game.  His stats are the strongest in the postseason and when he is on, the rest is history.  Lee pitches game 1.   The Cardinals will be tested right out of the gate.

*Craig blasted two homers off Cole Hamels on two badly timed pitches during the Sunday night game last week.  Craig is an integral part of the lineup and that includes going against Hamels, who is a great pitcher but one that makes key mistakes(example being Dan Uggla’s 0-2 bomb last night).

*Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal’s health are in question, but if they aren’t completely healthy, there’s no reason to push.   Punto and Craig are doing a fine job and don’t need to be pushed off by a hurting regular player.   Holliday can’t throw a baseball and Furcal can’t run.  Sit them down if needed.

*The starting pitching is key and the lineup has to produce, but to me its the bullpen which comes under fire this month.   Can Motte close games effectively?  Will La Russa overuse Motte and not use Boggs, who pitched well against Houston?  How many innings will Salas pitch, or will Sanchez(Tuesday’s winner) be able to help him?  Who gets the ball first, Rhodes or Rzep?  In my case, hopefully neither because they aren’t good lately.

*Do the Cards have a chance?  Sure they do.  All a team has to do is get into the postseason and let it rip.  I’m smelling a 2006 style of play this fall from the Redbirds.  Barely crawl into the postseason and then play your best baseball.   Win or lose, the comeback was incredible and the Cards saved their best play for last.  We were 6-3 against the Phillies in 2011, and played them very well in Philidephia two weeks ago.   The Cardinals have a chance to make things happen here or make life a living hell for Charlie Manuel and his troops.   I wouldn’t be surprised if we were beaten up but I also wouldn’t rule out a well played series.  With this team, it’s so hard to predict a result.   Facing Halladay, Lee and Hamels doesn’t faze me.  Good pitching can be defeated.  The small things worry me.   Philly getting hot over the week.  La Russa’s lack of confidence in his bullpen arms.  The Tony mind games.  What will get in the Cards way?  Their manager or their play?

The Wrapup of the Cards regular season finish

Allow me to throw something back here as I fight off a nap, handle the kid and prepare to add more juicy bits to my already forming Comeback Cards blog.  I’ll call this the finishing touch.   Mea Culpa indeed.  The Cardinals surprised all of us, including me, who drew the sunniest outcome for them all the way back in April.

There are reasons for everything, so here is my quick list of reasons why the Cards came back and stole the wild card-

1.)Atlanta let them back in the house.  I always imagined a final month surge as a family keeping their house safe and protected.  The Braves had a 10.5 game lead heading into the end of August, and that seemed stable enough to seal the deal.  However, they played horrible all around baseball and let The Cards slam right through the front door.   Their pitching fell apart after injuries, their closer imploded and their offense couldn’t score runs.   The Cards basically did the opposite.  Hit with power, pitched great out of the gate and found their young closer in Motte.  The Braves and Cards flip flopped fates.  I’ll take it.
2.)You can’t count out the work of Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman in September.   Both hit .360 plus and slugged homers and game changing hits during Matt Holliday’s sixth absence due to moth head and back cold.   Pujols has always been a late season strong finisher, and Berkman supported him on his off nights.  These two provided the basis of a foundation for our run production.
3.)The Bench kicked it up a notch.   Nick Punto filling in for Furcal and slapping hits around the yard.   Allen Craig hitting homer after homer in big games.  Daniel Descalso filling in on defense.   Adron Chambers and Tyler Greene giving us the speed factor late in games.   With the large amount of injuries, the bench had to come through and did.   Big plus.
4.)The starters shut it down in the final 3 weeks.  Cards starters sported a 3.20 ERA and pounded out quality start after quality start.   Carpenter, Jackson and a man named Kyle Lohse(2 huge starts in September) held up the weight while Garcia and Westbrook wandered.
5.)La Russa is a mad man crazy methodically insecure bitch, but he kept the ship moving, made some strong moves and created his own brand of crazy.  I won’t give him too much credit but he did stir this team in the right direction in the crucial stretch.
6.)Jason Motte closed 9 of 11 games in the clutch hour as well.  After setting a record of flawless pitching from June 23rd through September 6th, Motte took over the closer role, ran into exhaustion and growing pains but got the job done.   He came a long way from April of 2009 to September of 2011.  Big gain for this team in getting a closer.
7.)The defense improved.  Furcal coming in at short.  Jay coming in at center, and DD and Punto filling out the edges.  Berkman played well in right field, and the errors were minimized in the last month.

We can dwell on things like double plays, blown saves, micromanaging leadership, starter wear and tear, but during the last month the Cardinals played their best baseball.   Small things like Ryan Theriot becoming the ultimate late inning pinch hit threat helped.   The return of Eduardo Sanchez this week.  Chris Carpenter going 10-2 in the second half.  Pujols coming back.   Berkman finishing strong after a dry period in July and August.   My friends, we can all lay down our picks in April, reestablish those ideas in July, August and September, but the team we watch and torture ourselves over controls the true cards.  Predictions are halfhearted attempts at a GOD complex.   This Cardinals team was the most frustrating group because they drove in so many directions throughout the year.  When they traded Colby, they were in first place.  A month after the deal, we were in 2nd place and buried.  Two months and two days later(today), we are wild card champions.   That’s baseball.  That’s life.  How did this team do it?  Putting all the pieces together and getting a little help from the Braves.  The 2011 Cardinals never gave up.  They just kept on fighting.  A never say die spirit that wasn’t always distributing a pretty display each night and game, but one that got stronger as the season got shorter.   This is a special year because we will remember the hard times and stressful moments to go with the end result.   We bleed this year and got a huge payoff.

Wednesday night, September 28th, was one of the greatest moments in baseball.   The Red Sox, picked to walk to the World Series, dropped the ball horribly in September and were beaten by the Orioles in the clutch hour while the left for dead small salary Moneyball team Tampa Bay came back from a 7-0 deficit to win on a walkoff and steal the AL Wildcard.  A dream of mine is seeing the Cards and Rays, the forgotten teams, battling for the World Series.

It’s easy to say the Cards face a tough challenge in the Phillies.   Would they have it any other way this season?  Facing Cliff Lee and the Phillies in Game 1 on Saturday is exactly what the Cardinals need and the perfect spot to shock the world again.   Was this playoff entrance more thrilling than 2004, 2005, or 2006?  I believe it was because of the manner in which they plowed towards it.   Unpredictable, entertaining, heartbreaking and unforgettable.   Years from now, I can tell my son Vincent that when he was born the Cardinals completed a highly improbable and thrilling comeback that the sport hasn’t seen in years right as he turned 2 weeks old.

Hey everyone, the St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs.  Repeat that a few times until it sticks.  What am I going to do on my night off from The Rogues in Red?  Go watch Moneyball, a film about a renegade GM(Billy Beane) who figured out a different way to build a major league baseball team and make it into the playoffs.   A fitting way to spend my time before the Cards make their desperate walk through October.  The hardest part is over for the Cardinals.  All a team has to do is get into the playoffs.   From there, it’s anyone’s game.

That’s all I have for now.   The surreal nature of this playoff ticket is settling in as we speak.   All day, I have fought off sleep deprivation, tried to keep myself busy and not fall asleep on my forklift.   It’s still a pleasure to hear on the radio that the Cards made it in.   Unbelievable in fact.

Now, I am going to relax and let my eyes close for a few minutes.   The past 24 hours has felt like a jet lagged trip on a french train.   A lot of speed and no in between pauses.  Here’s to the small plunge back into reality.  I am not pinching myself but I do suggest a tiny reminder that what I am seeing is real.

So long for just a little while,


A Pack of Words for the Cool Kids

Hello Ladies and Gents,

A pack of silent words for the cool kids here as we roll around towards 1am.   While I have to be at work in 5 hours, I am withholding sleep(daddy hours limit) and will pound a few words into the wind here before I get a few hours.  I’m one man with one set of hands with a need to inform.

Very Quick Takes on a few subjects-

The Cardinals fire a blank in Houston 
In a season opportunities lost, The Cards miss another golden opportunity.  It doesn’t matter who you face in the big leagues. You have to execute!  If we had did our job and taken care of business on Thursday and tonight, we’d be leading wild card race by a game.  Instead, we are down a game. Players are paid for a result and not just effort.  The Cardinals are a ton of effort, but no result.   We had a chance to score in the 3rd, and Albert Pujols was thrown out at the plate.  We had the bases loaded in the 6th and only got a run on a double play ball.  In the 8th when we tied the game, the Cards had 2 on and nobody out, and nothing happened as Nick Punto slid headfirst into an out at first base.  Ridiculous.  The Phillies put runners on and scored.  They won 4-2.  They have 100 wins.  The Cards have to win the last two and hope that Roy Oswalt and company deliver a couple wins for us to steal this thing.   An amazing run of 20-6 this month is going to fall short unless we can drag out talent and wit together to beat Houston rookie Henry Sosa(no relation to Sammy) tomorrow and Brett Myers on Wednesday.   FORGET about Thursday until we make it there.   The Braves aren’t going to wilt.  Braves centerfield Michael Bourn(no relation to Jason) called his Houston teammates and told them to keep on playing.  Any Cards fan who was mad at the Astros squeeze is a sore loser and forgets the ultimate rule of competitive sports.   You can never look bad by competing your ass off and winning.  The Cardinals head is on the chopping block, and believe me I am done talking about them. 
This is what the Cards need to watch and listen to..

Final Say on Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight
I watched the fight, all 15 minutes of it and have this short cut on it.  The end was exactly what it was called.  A failure to recognize an action by Ortiz.   After headbutt and break, Joe Cortez said “let’s go” and Ortiz left his hands down and got caught. Fair and firm.  The immaturity of Ortiz stood up again.

The Rams Are Ugly Losers
Make no mistake my good friends.  The Rams aren’t just losing.  They are getting their asses kicked.  You’d have to be blind to miss it but you can’t misstep reality.  Sam Bradford and the Rams are playing shitty lazy lifeless robotic football and don’t show any sign of coming out of their tomb.  They are getting outscored 96-36 in their first three games and still have 4 tough matchups before they catch division foe Arizona.  Next week, they get Washington, who lost a close game to the Cowboys tonight yet still own 2 wins under quarterback Rex Grossman(that wasn’t a joke).   Grossman is putting up solid games and doing his job.  If he walks into the Ed Dome and dishes us a beating, I’m going to poke holes in Bradford’s tires, cut open Steven Jackson’s fat lip and shit in Spags’ hat or hide his hair gel.   The Rams can’t score touchdowns in the red zone, and other times we can’t reach it.   The secondary is lousy.   When you allow a rookie playing his first game in Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to score 3 touchdowns in a single quarter, your unit isn’t playing NFL caliber football.   There is no big name stopper on our secondary.   The Rams didn’t care to inquire about one of the Eagles three corners or free agent Antonio Cromartie.   We were set with our collective group of crap.   Where’s Stan Kroneke’s check book now?  Get the ink pen, Stan or realize what you gave up one of our Colorado bases franchises for?  The Rams have stepped back into 2009, where they won 3 games and looked pathetic 89 percent of the time.   Ask Bradford what’s wrong and here’s his answer, honest as a dull knife.  “Where do I start?”  Jackson and the running game aren’t doing much.   Lance Kendricks can’t catch a pass.  The receivers drop too many passes as a whole.   Bradford is going to be hiding in the video room by the end of the season if he keeps getting sacked and blindsided.  The offensive line isn’t protecting him and will relinquish 64 sacks at the current pace.   Big draft pick Jason Smith couldn’t stop Oprah Winfrey on a pass rush right now.  What’s on the agenda at Rams Park?  A strong test of character and skillset.   Spags needs to realize what he has on deck and find out what he needs to pull this ship together and back on course.   Call GM Devaney and communicate with Stan.   Do something.  Go on a team hunting trip.  Kill shit together.  Bond.  Watch Remember the Titans.  This isn’t what we paid for and hoped to see while we nearly drowned in a lockout full of money and greedy grease.  This team was picked by some to finish 10-6 and 11-5.   It’s time to rethink those numbers. My own personal prediction of 9-7 is looking retarded right now.   Rams fans united, what do we really have here?

Until Spags gets a clue, here’s what the Rams need to hear….
“You don’t want to hear it…well, the good news is pal, you’re fired.  And you have one week to regain your job.   Starting with tonight’s sit.”-Alec Baldwin In Glengarry Glen Ross, a classic Mamet film about salesmen in a make or break desperation weekend sale
“You can’t close the leads you’re given.  You can’t close shit.  You are shit.  Hit the bricks pal and beat it, because you are going out.  What’s my name?  Fuck you, that’s my name.  I drove an 80,000 dollar Mercedes.  That’s my name.”

One more time-Peyton Manning isn’t coming back in 2011.  If the Colts are 0-10, why risk the potential of losing Manning for part of 2012, or year 2 of the 5 year 90 million dollar contract?  More commercials for Peyton while he signs his brother up for reading classes.

The Blues Expectations
Make the playoffs and then some.  Do Something productive.  The Cardinals are breaking our hearts again and the Rams are shitting on top of them, so take a stand for the first time in years.I want more than the playoffs.  I want a semifinal playoff game.  The Blues are built to kill and gain a playoff spot on paper, with or without brain damaged Frenchman David Perron.    Perron is a mystery.  I don’t know if he is coming back to the broadcast booth or the team.  He is doing light skating and lifting, but that’s a far cry from getting your clock cleaned on the ice.  They announce big news coming and then tell us he isn’t even expected back for awhile.  Save the ink boys.  Perron is a casualty of war and may never be the same.  Unfortunate because the kid’s talented and puts us over the top this season if he is healthy.  I agree that any production from Perron will be icing on the blue and gold cake.  Take the “soon” out of your first sentence mang.  Perron will attempt to come back during the next 6 months from his concussion, which was suffered last November on a mid ice hit from Joe Thornton in a game I attended.  He scored the winning goal that night and left in the 3rd period.  I’ll believe Perron’s comeback when I see him skate with the team in a game.   The chances hinge on the play of Jaroslav Halak and our defense.   The team needs to improve on the power play and limit the 5 goal games allowed.  If not, well, it’s the same story for the Blues since their arrival here.  Failure on all fronts.    It’s not so hard, is it?  There are 8 playoff spots in the Western Conference.  Get one of them.  That’s double the spots in the National League in baseball, for the Blues fans bashing the Cardinals.   In hockey, the record is polished with bullshit.  Overtime losses aren’t put in the loss column.  They have their own special spot.  That would be nice for baseball.  Lose in extra innings and there’s a special column for it so the record doesn’t look so fucking pathetic.  I guess what I’m saying is this.   Blues, give us something real for a change.  Misery is tapped out here in St. Louis in 2011. 

Very Very Quick Takes
-Tony Romo engineered another 4th quarter comeback against the Redskins, a game the Cowboys won in 6 field goals.  Romo’s still a little choking bitch.
-The Steelers almost lost to the hapless Colts.  There’s the lesson again.  Winning is about executing against anybody. 
-Watch the youtube clips above.  They apply to both those team recaps.  Trust me.  Watch the entire clip.  The best 12 minutes of your day. 
-That’s the difference between winning and losing.  Living and dying.  That inch!  Pacino could light a match under a bunch of fat cats.
-The Red Sox fall with the Rays rise is the best story in sports.   Boston’s payroll is right up there with the Yankees, and they made a big splash in the offseason with the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  Crawford has tanked under the spotlight while Gonzo has thrived, but the Red Sox pitching is shit, starting with Daiska’s final fall, Lackey’s crumbling, Wakefield’s weary arm, Beckett’s health and Lester’s resistance.  The Rays were picked to win shit.   They lost Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano in the offseason.  A piece from each pie, but they added Johnny Damon and found solid pitching and a closer in Kyle Farnsworth.  The Rays tied the Red Sox for the Wild Card last night.  While the Cardinals are struggling to finish their comeback, the Red Sox are choking the hardest.  A desire to be like the Yankees is falling short, unfortunately.   What happens this week will be remembered throughout baseball until the day spring training starts.  Will Boston get back up?
-Watching Jonathon Papelbon close games or pitch in tight spots is must watch television.  The man personifies intensity on the mound.  He burrows his lips into a bullet hole, rears back and fires smoke to go with a devastating changeup.  If the Red Sox don’t want him back, I would be inclined to ask John Mozelaik inquire about his services.  Forget Health Bell.  Paps pitches in the ironclad AL East.  I’ll take him in a heartbeat. 
-If there is a chance to trade Jake Westbrook in the offseason, I pull the trigger and throw in the worn down Kyle McClellan in order to keep Edwin Jackson here.   However, the last thing I’ll ask of Jake Westbrook is to turn in a solid performance tonight in Houston.   That’s all I ask from Jake.  Keep the hope alive and burn every Journey CD in the Cardinals clubhouse.
-Listening to the clubhouse in the postgame of another brutal loss, you wouldn’t know it from the music, chatter and players.  They don’t sound defeated and will come out tomorrow swinging. 
-The 2011 Cardinals officially own the record for double plays at 170 and counting.  Ask La Russa and he’ll tell you we put a lot of baserunners on and that’s what happens.  He’s only half right. 
-TV Shows to Look Forward to-Boardwalk Empire and Dexter.  Empire’s first season chronicled Prohibition and Steve Buscemi’s city treasurer’s Nucky Thompson’s stranglehold over Atlantic City.  A teasing intelligient first season left us wanting more, but I savored the brutality of the characters and the well rounded cast and storytelling.  A slight chill was in the air.  Dexter returns for round 6 on Sunday.  Coming off a season where our good hearted serial killer discovered love lost and did some soul searching, this fall Dexter is going back to straight crimefighting and mixing in spirituality.  I’d be worried if the supporting cast didn’t included Edward James Olmos and Mos Def. 

Right now, I can use a shot of espresso injected into my neck.  That means I am taking a bow and going home to my bed.  Kiss my kid on the head, kiss my wife on her cheek and fall down for awhile.  8 hours of work, a run at lunch, a workout after work, and a Cards game that drained my soul again.  In a few hours, I start it over again and that’s fine by me.  I’ve spoke my mind and the head is clear for now.  I will be back, so read up on this and wait for my return.  Spit up and shitty diapers included. 

Things are changing, but my soul is well intact. 

Goodnight and good luck,


“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a  team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”-Vince Lombardi

The Proper Way to Anticipate If You’re A Sports Fan

Fine Ladies and Wise Gents,

We have officially entered do or die territory in Cardinal Nation.  The theory no longer applies.  The reality is alive and well.  The Cardinals control their fate this week in Texas.  The idea is that we have 3 games to decide our fate in Houston.  The Cards defy the normal thought of momentum.  When we seem to be running on 4 legs, a brutal loss halts us in our tracks.  Momentum is poison to this Cards team.   What can a fan do?  Stop predicting, hoping and praying.  Just watch and see.  The odds are in our favor, but does that mean anything at this point?  The Cards are facing the worst team in the major leagues and the Braves are facing the best team in baseball, according to record.  In Vegas, we are looking good.  In reality,we are ordinary contenders.  Will the team fall victim or become the predator?

Before you calculate the odds, realize how far this team has come.  A month ago, we were 10.5 games behind the Brewers and Atlanta.   Hopeless bitches without a chance.  Today, we are a game behind the Braves and looking dangerous to a first round opponent.   Once this team lost Waino’s 20 wins and Carp and Albert took first half naps, this team was toast.   If you need to see how a team is doing, look at the table setters.   Carp went 9-2 in the second half and Albert hit .360.   Both recaptured their dominance and helped this team get right. There were smaller contributors but these two led the way.   We were picked to finish 4th in the NL Central.  We’ll finish 2nd to a bionic Brewers team and no worse than 14 games over .500.  The Cardinals didn’t piss excellence until September, but this week everything is up for grabs and its fittingly ambitious for a team that couldn’t decide if they were good, bad or ugly.

We can look back on missed opportunities like a tourist scanning a field of dead bodies.
-25 blown saves
-166 double plays hit into
-Horrible defensive lapses
-Thursday brutal collapse

Gentlemen and ladies, I’m all in.  I’m a true diehard fan and I never left the team.  I cut my arm open a long time ago and started bleeding next to this team.   I didn’t jump ship like most(I’m talking to you, season ticket holders in late August) and are now scrambling back.   Whether I like it or not, I am strapped to this bomb.

Tonight, we face Wandy Rodriguez, the pesky lefty who shut us down in July but is a vulnerable starter playing with a AAA offense behind him.   My questions are simple..
-Will the mentally unstable Jaime Garcia be able to pull off the start of a lifetime?  This is his first true playoff atmosphere test.   Will he sink or swim?
-Will Pujols reach 40 HR and 100 RBI and stay above .300?  Forget the pending free agency.   He has 3 or more games left this season.   Advice to local media.  Stop asking him about it.  The man is a machine and needs to focus.
-Will Tony La Russa micromanage, overanalyze and wreck this team ship?  That’s my biggest fear. La Russa mismanaging the bullpen is a huge X factor here.

Remember, folks.  One game at a time.  There are people asking me about Thursdays one game playoff.   We have to survive first.  One game at a time.  The Cards are built to disappoint but aren’t going down without a fight.   Wait and see my friends.

How am I treating my pregame wounds?  A 20 ounce starbucks iced coffee with an extra shot of espresso.   Bold, black and strong like Oprah.  A Gunpowder blend of coffee.

That’s all.   Thanks for playing.   The season is almost over.  Will October matter to the Cards?  We need this.  The Rams are playing like lifeless cardboard impersonators and the Blues are an entertaining if uncertain bunch.

As a sports town, we need a comeback.

Go Cards!


A Rant, Pure and Simple

“My father once told me, life is like sucking honey from a thorn.  There’s good times and bad times.”-Robert DeNiro in The Killer Elite

The Anatomy of A Comeback
There I am, driving down the street prepping a day of shopping that will result in an exhausted glow of despair for the upcoming evening.   My wife and I are attacking the beast on a Saturday afternoon to clear the Sunday bill for football and relaxation before my ass heads back to the warehouse on Monday.   In addition to our shopping misery comes an extra passenger in our car, a man by the name of Vinny.   The kid doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going on, spending the heavy share of the day in a car seat with little wiggle room and only a bink to suck on.   We leave the house and the Cardinals are down by a single run heading into the top of the ninth.  The tip of the iceberg is approaching this 2011 Cards ship, ready to crack it in half.  If the Cards lose today, we stay 3 games out of first place and with 4 games to play, that’s a stiff deck of cards to pull a quality hand from.   As we pull out of our street, Lance Berkman ropes the first pitch from Cubs closer Carlos Marmol to center field straight into Marlon Byrd’s mitt.  One out already.  Before I can hit a fucking stop sign, this team is down to 2 outs.  The Chicago Cubs are holding the knife this weekend, plunging the dull blade into our shoulder as the blood starts to pour all over our hometown grass, which was cut that morning.   Marmol is a nasty pitcher with a power fastball and an unfair slider that dives off the plate.  He throws a pitch and gets one out, but the fun is only starting for Cardinal nation.  The 42,000 in attendance are getting loud, rumbling the seats, shaking their drinks, and screaming like its the Last Supper.  They honestly can’t shut up and the Cubs have no idea what this means because they eternally suck.  Before the first pitch, the crowd was going so crazy Cards radio play by play legend Mike Shannon commented that this was the loudest he had heard this crowd get before a rally.  “LISTEN TO THIS CROWD!”.   Shannon said all they wanted was a couple tallies.  I’d take a sign of life.  Since their brutal loss on Thursday, the Cards surrendered their bats to their psychic evil twin  The lineup had registered only 1 run in the 19 innings, and it came in a suicide squeeze in Friday’s 5-1 loss.  It’s like the Mets stole the game and hid the bats from our boys.   Motherfuckers!  Anyway, Marmol gets the ball and climbs the hill against Matt Holliday, the returning brute who has pounded the ball into the ground all fucking day.  2 groundouts to third and a useless bounce to short.  On the second pitch, he rips a line drive to right center for a long single, cut off by the amazing Byrd, who has spent the entire day robbing the Cards of plays.  Cards bench speed demon Tyler Greene runs for Holliday, basically telling the Cubs catcher Geovanny Soto to put his arm in lock and stock mode because a steal is coming.  Greene steals second and the ball glances off his back and into center field.   With one out, the tying run is at third.   The crowd gets louder.  By this time, we are pulling through the ATM, which is always a frenzy.  There I am, paying attention to the game and depositing a check.  It isn’t rocket science but sometimes a lab coat is needed to roll through a bank ATM and stay focused.   Making sure I don’t withdraw 500 dollars instead of giving 50, I take my time and work slow.  Like a jungle cat on steroids speed slowly coming down from the high point of the drug.   Type in my bank code, listen to a pitch, tap deposit, listen, hand the check over, listen to a pitch.  This takes a multi-tasking brain plan that puts you in an athletic frame of mind.  Three cars sitting behind me.  They are waiting for their own chance to see the misery of their bank statement while I juggle two tasks at once.  What are they doing?  Talking on the phone, listening to Yanni, jerking off.   I’m doing important shit and need to concentrate.  My heart starts to skip a few beats.   It’s uncontrollable.  I finish and pull away, but Rachel knows I am off my driving game.  She is my co-pilot for life, and right now I am flying the plane at 60 percent participation with a portion of my heart, brain and mind on a baseball field 15 minutes away.   David Freese strikes out.  Chump.  Greene is still at third and Marmol is gaining confidence.   The Cubs are a classic fuckup artist franchise, blowing leads for life and becoming the symbol of embarrassment in the major leagues.   It’s a shameful practice.  Marmol carries the weight of 103 years of futile baseball on his shoulders every time he closes a game.   He has 34 saves on the season, but he won’t reach 35 today.   Yadi Molina comes up and works the count to 3-2.  Molina is a perfect foil for Marmol’s power sinker-slider-fastball assortment, because he is a Harvard grad when it comes to taking pitches and making pitchers work.   He confounds Marmol.  He fouls off a couple pitches.  Marmol throws the slider and Yadi lays off and walks.   First and third, 2 outs.  Skip Schumacher strolls to the plate.  In my eyes, a 50/50 clutch hitter.  He steps out between each pitch to tighten his batting gloves and preach quiet words of confidence to himself(look closely at him at the plate and he is speaking to himself).  The man watches Caddyshack and Ted Knight too much.   Marmol is starting to lose control completely.   His counts with Freese and Molina carried a confidence and fear during the matchups but Skip is seeing zero hittable pitches.  The count runs to 3-1 before Marmol misses by a foot off the outside portion of the plate.  Bases loaded.  Adron Chambers runs for Molina.  Second and third base are full of speed, meaning a single will most likely score both and give the Cards a win.   Corey Patterson, a regretful excuse for a major league roster spot, stands on deck during Skip’s at bat.  A decoy towards Mike Quade’s Cubs bench to fool them into thinking they will get to face the Ex Cub Patterson and escape with a victory.  La Russa closes the book on Patterson and sends in another Ex-Cub, Ryan Theriot.  Simply put, Theriot will draw a walk before Corey Patterson lays off any breaking pitch.   Theriot works the count to 2-0 and the umpire hands a gift basket to Marmol in the form of a strike call, which registers as Marmol’s 2nd strike in 10 pitches.   Theriot works the count full.   Tension rises.  We have pulled into the Blockbuster parking lot to return a film(Bridesmaids=sucked) and Rachel wants to get a bite to eat.  I am hungry but my capacity to focus right now on anything other than a 3-2 pitch isn’t possible.   Theriot takes a close inside pitch and walks.   The game is tied.  Brand new life for the Cards.  Rachel knows me well.  She knows when I am frustrated, tense, disturbed and sitting in the palm of this team’s hand.  She takes my Subway order and leaves the car.  Now, it’s the radio, Vinny and myself.  My own private Idaho.  Bases loaded, Rafy Furcal up and the Cubs haven’t left the danger zone yet.  I smell something in the air.  That’s fresh bread from Subway, my mistake.   It’s hard to explain the next few moments because I nearly went into shock and sat in disbelief.   I would later find out that Marmol threw a nasty sinker on an 0-1 count, that passed Furcal, Soto and the umpire back to the backstop and bounced towards the Cubs dugout.  Chambers streaked down the third base line, scored, jumped into Molina’s arms and the Cardinals won 2-1.   A thrilling victory that almost didn’t seem real until Mike Shannon came back from a break and read the box score.  Shannon is still a marvel behind the microphone in tight situations.  With Theriot at the plate and a 3-2 count, Shannon dusted off an old gem, “Here we go, folks.  The most exciting play in sports.  Bases loaded.  3-2 count.  All runners off with the pitch.”   When Chambers scored, I pounded on the steering wheel in Troy Siade fashion.   Aggressive celebration is the only way to do it.  After 48 hours of misery, the Cards recaptured the spirit of the fans and their souls with a breathtaking comeback.  Sure, Marmol handed them the win but taking pitches and working a walk is harder at times than making contact.  I can tell you with money down that if Patterson hits instead of Theriot, the game is over and the Cardinals lose 1-0.   Theriot hasn’t had a good year but he hasn’t had a bad one either.  He is hitting .272 and has gladly taken a bench/sub role since Furcal showed up.   Theriot is clutch and can draw a walk and has improved at second base.  He was the true star of the game because that 3-2 pitch was close.  Folks, this is living.   Sitting in a car, emotionally tied to your team, with the rest of your day hanging on their actions.   True freefall dedication.  Being strapped to a bomb comes with a fair dose of sweet and bitter. 
In the end, the Cards won 2-1 and stayed alive in the wild card race.   With 4 games to play, they are 2 games out. I can’t tell you the odds right now.  I’m too close and keeping this one close to the chest.  I could tell you the boys have a shot and be proved wrong tomorrow when everyone is watching football.  I will say this to the masses and the experts of the world….anything can happen.

Will Sunday be Albert Pujols’ last day in Cardinal home red and white? 
My answer would be no.   I can’t see this team without Albert at first base.  After the 11 years he has put together, I can’t see a single route where the Cards don’t make every gesture, move and attempt to keep AP here.  Give him what he wants.  He has done something A-Rod has not, and stayed maddeningly consistent for 11 seasons at a reasonable price.  Pujols deserves a raise and will get one.   We all would love to see Albert play the blue collar cool card, walk into Cards headquarters tomorrow morning before the biggest game of the season and tell John Mozelaik that a deal needs to be locked up and I’ll play for 8-10 more years at 16 million.   That would rock the baseball world and put Dan Lorzano in a mental home.  It won’t happen, but its our own little dream.   Easy measures aren’t located in lengthy contract talks.   The local media is prepping the swan song ride for Pujols on Sunday and I refuse to play along.  I have said all along that Albert Pujols is a man of his word.  When it comes time to decide yes or no, he will make the call and stay here.  He wants to retire here like Stan Musial.  He has built a kingdom here.  He makes a good salary.  His entire life is here.  Does he really want to change that at this point in his career?  I really don’t think so and already have a standing bet of 20 dollars with a co-worker of mine.  When the media noise lessens and the two camps meet in a quiet conference room to discuss the contract or convene over a phone call, the real ideas will come out.   Mozelaik knows there is too much revenue in Albert to let him go.   He means 200,000 in attendance to this team.  The Cards won’t gross 3 million fans in 2012 without Albert.  While they would contend in a poor division, the Cards money bank would take a hit without Albert.  He is approaching milestones, carries the Cards name on his chest and is the face of the franchise.  What happened to Edmonton when Gretzky left?  What happened to Cleveland when Lebron left?  Money was lost.   In some way, shape or form, the organization will take a hit.   It makes more sense to keep him here.  Pay the man his money.  Instead of having a bad year, Albert rebounded, hit .395 down the stretch and has pounded 37 home runs, 98 RBI and scored 102 runs to go with a .302 batting average.  There’s no way Albert walks away from St. Louis and there’s no fucking way the Cards let him.  Please don’t believe what you hear in the press, local or national.  Every paid writer has a motive and an external plan to their words and point of view on Albert.   I’d bet the mortgage that Pujols or his agent never asked for 10 years at 300 million dollars.   That was media created.   Albert doesn’t want to be the highest paid player in baseball.  He just wants market value and a fair deal that represents his status as the best in baseball.  Both sides aren’t stupid enough to break up this happy marriage.  End of story.

Movie Reviews Of The Week

The Killer Elite is an engaging action thriller with dramatic weight and action chops to set it up as the latest great thinking man’s action ride.   Jason Statham holds his own with Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro and the story is solid.  Based off a true story and adapted from a book called “The Feather Men”, this movie works a British Spy tale into a delicious cocktail that’s part Ronin, Munich and The Mechanic.   Statham plays Danny, an Ex-Special Ops agent pulled back into the operation to save his mentor, Hunter(DeNiro) from a Sheik who wants revenge for the murder of his three sons.    The kills came at the hands of the British SAS, which means Statham must bring down 3 hardcore killers in order to get his friend back.   Standing in his way is Ex-British SAS agent Spike(a cunning and clever as always Clive Owen), who wants to protect the isolated agents against the will of his former superiors.  The movie sets the three men on a collision course.   The rest is action drama gold.   Director Gary McKendry knows how to fuse fine drama with full blooded action sequences.   Statham and Owen clash in a series of fights that satisfy the action fan, while the quieter moments between Statham and DeNiro please the more complacent crowd.  One has to think the producers had Statham attached and came up with an idea to up the ante with the additions of DeNiro and Owen.   The result is a deeper than usual action film, with plenty of twists and turns towards the end and an ending that leaves the audience wanting more yet glad they paid money to attend it.   Statham is at his usual bone crunching best, but his acting talent displayed in Snatch and Bank Job come through here.   Unlike Arnold or Jean Claude Van Damme, Statham can act when he has to and add the wild action stunts as a dessert course.  The Killer Elite is an entertaining british spy film that combines the rugged brutality of Statham, the clever talent of Clive Owen and the wise wine of DeNiro to create an intelligient action story about natural killers running the world like hungry lions in a den.  This is more than just another Statham banger with the game acting and worthy story.  See it to believe it before you cast it off into the wasteland of contending films for your attention. 

Bridesmaids sucked.   A disappointing film that failed to match the hype given to it upon its release and weeks later when it grossed over 100 million dollars.   Look, I went into this so called Judd Apatow produced “Female Hangover” with a decent set of expectations and wanted to like it.  The result was a comedy that loaded up on the raunchy material yet fell short in laugh out loud moments and a solid script.   Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, a single woman in need of a bump up in her life.  She recently lost her bakery and her boyfriend in one swift shot and now she is reeling.  Right at the moment of despair, her best friend Lillian(Maya Rudolph) tells her she is getting married.   Cue the fireworks.  Lillian brings in Helen(Rose Byrne), who quickly becomes a thorn in Annie’s side and the two start to butt heads on the wedding and start ripping Lillian in half.   The rest of the film is the buildup to the wedding and the slow maturation of Annie as she struggles to find any sense of safe ground in her life.  Melissa McCarthy has some laughs as one of the bridesmaids, but she isn’t enough to carry the film.  The biggest weight of the miss falls on Wiig, a SNL veteran and a fine supporting actress who can’t carry the proceedings here.  Wiig is too bland to care for here and Rudolph and Byrne don’t help at all.  I never cared too much about  Annie’s fight because the entire film is played like a joke and when it tries to get serious late, the attempt is incomplete.   Comedies that don’t reach the level of their hype carry a case of anticipation blue balls syndrome.  The Hangover carried the same weight heading into theaters.   The word of mouth was strong, the trailer was hilarious and the setup looked fresh and with a talented comedy director(Todd Phillips) navigating and the star in the making Bradley Cooper headlining the cast.   That met and exceeded expectations because all the jokes weren’t located in the trailer.   The comedy was fresh but the reason the film was loved was because we cared for and believed in the group of guys slowly losing their nerve yet regaining their souls in Vegas, the land of wild fun and absolute turmoil.  The fact that the ladies go to Vegas in this film is an insult.   The one highlight of the film comes in the form of Jon Hamm, who works 3 scenes here as the biggest douchebag/fuckbuddy of Wiig’s Annie.  Every time Hamm comes into frame, the movie gets a push.  This comes from a big Hamm fan, but the reason I liked him here was we saw another shade of his talent.   While he plays a cutthroat bastard on Mad Men, Hamm’s role here carries an extra serving of asshole.  How is this for a greeting?  “What’s up, fuckbuddy?”  Hamm owns the film and he only appears in 3 scenes.   Bad news for a heavily favored contender like Bridesmaids.  Pure disappointment. 

Ten Final Bits of Info

  • How did MU do against Oklahoma Saturday night on FX?   To quote the great Ari Gold, how did the fucking bay of pigs go my friends?  MU got their ass handed to them and I once again remind you this will be a down year for the school.   Rebuilding a team doesn’t happen in one season.   QB James Franklin will learn to throw better or simply run faster than a linebacker.  T.J. Moe will provide plenty of highlights but Gary Pinkel’s team will suffer a losing season.   This is what happens when there is no QB in the waiting when your star leaves for the NFL.   Blaine Gabbert is starting for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, so there’s one small perk.  He didn’t leave for nothing.  How many games has Chase Daniel started in the NFL?  Zero.  Hello to the life of Drew Brees’ backup.
  • Can The Rams beat The Baltimore Ravens on Sunday?  Sure they can.   Matt Hasselback and the Titans kicked their ass last week.   It comes down to red zone efficiency and the minimalization of mistakes for this Rams team.  Will there be a fight in this team or will we beat ourselves again?
  • How many interceptions will Eli Manning throw against The Eagles tomorrow?  My cold hard cash is banking on at least 3 picks, with one being a pick 6.  Michael Vick will rip apart the Giants secondary and the Eagles roll 38-21.
  • Song of the Day-Florence and the Machine-“What the Water Gave Me”.   Forgo the soft name and enjoy the well trained pipes of Florence Welch.  The red haired shedevil can sing and her vocals power this fast moving alternative rocker. 
  • Enjoying a small treat in being a dad right now.   As I write here, little Vinny is passed out in his basonet next to me listening to the rockabye baby soundtrack.   Marley, Vinny and I are all getting a little tired but this is what I dreamed about when I found out Rachel was pregnant.  Creating prose right next to my creation.
  • Attention all old drivers.  Stop fucking driving unless you can follow the simplest rules of the road.   Signal, drive the speed limit, stay in your lane and look before you turn.   Stay at home and die or get a bus route. 
  • Beer of the Week-Guinness Black Lager, a new combination of a lager(one of my favorite kinds of beer) and the Guinness stout.   A stone cold tough guy/girl blend of malt.  Try it if you dare.  We aren’t talking bud light or michelob ultra here.  Prepare yourselves for something called TASTE.
  • The Blues lose to fall to 3-2 on the preseason.  Why can’t the regular season carry 5 Blues game in a week?   I love this tommy gun schedule of back to back to back games in a single 7 day stretch.   The idea is that the training camp is so short, the leagues gets the teams on the ice as fast as possible to throw them into serious game shape.   If you come back from the offseason in shitty shape, good luck in the preseason.   While the scores don’t count, the shifts do and the floor scrappers looking for work need to be ready to push the first week.   Once again, there’s no way the Blues shouldn’t contend for a playoff spot this season.   After two shitty seasons of being unable to finish in the top 8 spots in their division(imagine is MLB carried 4 extra spots per league in its playoff picture), the Blues need to make the playoffs and go deep this season.  The team isn’t young anymore and the veteran presence is ingrained into this team’s roster for the upcoming 2011-2012 campaign.   There’s no more excuses.  Get it done.  The first week proves this team will score plenty of goals but how well the defense and goaltender Jaroslav Halak play will determine the fate of the St. Louis Blues.  Stop the Journey commercials and win some fucking hockey games, dudes!
  • After being off work for nearly 2 weeks, I return to Senoret Chemical on Monday.   While I loved being at home for Vinny’s first week, the time to return to work is right and I will be a proud producing papa working the blue collar grind to keep a roof over our heads.   Going to work carries an additional incentive now along with the sadness of being away from my kid for 10 hours for 5 days a week.   Remember what I said earlier.  The sweet isn’t as sweet without the bitter.
  • There are times when being a father is lovely and full of ambitious excitement, and then there are times when your son fires shrapnel like shards of shit at your face while you change his diaper in a Walmart parking lot.   Priceless moments my friends.  For the record, he missed me for the most part.  This matchup will carry a sequel. 

The time has come to wrap this up.   A mini Buffa Blast of thought and opinion.   Remember, be nice to your friends and family but keep them close and don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel and speak your mind at all times.  Blood bonds and likeness should never hide a brutal shot of truth serum.  

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

The Autopsy Report of a Cards Loss

First, let me start things off by saying the Cardinals suck.   That’s right.  They are losers and in my overall opinion,don’t deserve to deliver food to a playoff stadium based on the amount of stress and heartache they have saddled their fanbase with this season.   The 2011 Cards are a series of false starts and severe fumbles, if its okay to use football jargon to apply to this summer burn.  Thursdays loss was easily the worst loss in the last decade on the basis of its significance. If they blow a four run lead in the 9th on April 22nd, fans shrug and shake it off.   When the carnage falls on September 22nd and in the heart of a pennant race, an autopsy report must be filed and an investigation must be laid out.  This is the price of being a true sports fan.  Emotional investments come back to haunt you and unless you root for the Yankees, Patriots or Red Wings, there’s a decent chance your soul will be burned.  Let’s go over a few reasons we lost on Thursday and wasted a golden(truly crispy golden brown crust variety) opportunity to gain a half game on the idle Braves.   Vicodin may be required.

1.)Motte pitching the 9th yesterday in a 4 run game after throwing 24 pitches on Wednesday night.  A bad call to push a guy who’s have to assume the role of Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas the past 2 months.  Motte recorded a 4 out save the night before and needed the day off.  Closers don’t come into 4 run games and if you know Cardinal history, they often blow up non save situations.  La Russa’s failure to recognize Motte as the closer the past few weeks led to this move.  If Motte was closer in chief, he wouldn’t be out there throwing 29 pitches and walking 3.  This isn’t giving Motte a pass for a bad outing. I’m simply telling you it never should have happened.  La Russa argued after the game that the media put it in Mottes head that he was a closer and that it hurt him.  I disagree with the genius.   Motte was the closer based on performance but if he understands how to read a box score, the kid was wearing down.   Where was Mitchell Boggs, a forgotten man who could of started the 9th inning?  Motte is wearing down from an innings and role workload.  Thanks to La Russa for that.  He fucked up the setup of this game with his desperate push of Motte, who has started to weaken the past week.  Bad call by Don Tony.

2.)Furcal’s error was detrimental to success in the 9th.   After a leadoff walk, Motte induced a double play smelling soft grounder to short that Rafy Furcal booted and fumbled away.  A potential inning changer gets wasted in one hurried movement.   Furcal is so good that you sit in shock when he makes a Theriot like error.  However, that’s his 5th error in his past 6 games and 11th as a Cardinal.  We forget about this because he makes the amazing plays so often and looks so smooth. However, he has made several low throws to first and muffled a few easy plays the past week so it may be time for a rest.   Start Daniel Descalso at short or put a shock bracelet on Furcals wrist.  The great shortstops always try to make the great plays but in this case Furcal fucked up an easy 6-4-3 DP and it broke his team and set up a big inning that saw 3 relievers get used.  La Russa set up the damage but Furcal compounded it with another mistake.  His bat doesn’t produce enough to cover up a few ordinary play misfires, especially at this time of the year.

3.)Does this bury the Cardinals?  No.  There is still time.   6 games against the Cubs and Astros, who are a combined 300 games under .500 and only exist as spoilers in this last second race.  This is a painful loss because of the timing, but there’s still time.  Painting a coat of shine on a shit storm of a game isn’t easy, but here I go.  The Braves face a pesky Nationals team this weekend, including a DC opening task of taking on Steven Strasburg.  The Nationals are hot, winning 10 of 12 including a beating of the Phillies this week.  After that, The Braves face the Phillies.  Charlie Manuel wants to get his team going before the preseason, so you’ll bet the Phils will be tough.  Things are set up for the Cards to win this race, but losses like Thursday definitely change the attitude of the fanbase.  The lesson gets spread around the camp that no wins come easy and 4 run leads can be blown by any team.

4.)The bullpen is burnt.  Anyone else think Jake Westbrook could have pitched a 7th inning after only 84 pitches?  During the past month, La Russa has a quick hook for Westbrook, which is fine if he was pitching bad.  Jake was pitching well into the 6th and an extra inning saves the bullpen and allows Octavio Dotel to finish the game.  A huge factor in the teams downfall is the tendency of La Russa to lose faith in his rotation and put the pressure on the bullpen to pitch more innings than required.  The micromanaging brain of La Russa got him in trouble yesterday and its an ugly trend that hasn’t lost steam all season.  A perfectionist always screws up the outcome.

5.)There’s no room to blame the offense.  Were there moments for them to score more runs?  Sure, but 6 runs is enough to win most games and I can’t fault the bats.  They built a 2-0 lead, added to it and gave the arms a chance.  A realization this season has been that the lineup has done the job amidst the turmoil.   Thursday’s loss was reminscent of the entire season.  The starter doesn’t go deep into the game and the bullpen takes a push to finish the game and crumbles.   A sad story.

What happens next?   The Cards and the Cubs clash tonight in a matchup that makes me feel uneasy. The Cubs are playing better lately and always play the Cards tough in September.   Chris Carpenter will pitch tonight and Wednesday, giving the Cards a fighting chance.  The bats are firing on cylinders right now, scoring 23 runs against the Mets.   The bullpen has to rebound and La Russa must unleash Sanchez if he carries zero faith in Boggs.   If a manager carries zero faith in a pitcher and only uses him 3 times in 3 weeks, why keep the player on the roster, and that’s whether he’s good or not.  Mitchell Boggs hasn’t gotten a chance in the second half, so why keep him here?  Sanchez could be a fresh tool to throw in the shed.

In summary, what the hell happened yesterday?
-Tony La Russa micromanaged,panicked a bit, pulling Jake Westbrook earlier and letting a tired Motte enter the ninth and refusing to pull him while the inning got detonated.  Managers don’t play the game but they can still make an impact on a game with their decisions.
-Rafael Furcal commits a horrible error and shifts the momentum of the inning.  He muffled a routine grounder and lost a chance at a double play, which could of drastically changed the inning.  Furcal is looking worn down and making more errors on plays he usually makes with his eyes closed.  A pure shame.  Bad defense helped lose the game.
-A throwing error, wild pitch and passed ball allowed a run in the 7th inning that gave the Mets a run and showed off the rough Cards defense.   The Cards D has been a liability all season.
-Instead of gaining a half game, the Cards fall 2 full games back.
-Allen Craig and Albert Pujols homers are wasted.

All in all, a game that may haunt the Cards.  A bad day at the office.  If we lose out on postseason play by a game, this will be the painful reminder of an opportunity lost.  That will never go away, but its a pain that can be saved for next week.

Along with savoring the unfortunate flavor and moving on, the Cards need to clear their heads and just keep playing.  There’s six games left to erase the memory.  Get on with the dance because the drama isn’t letting up.

While I wait for the miracle drug, I’m going to calm my nerves by watching Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen do battle in the Killer Elite.  Until killing becomes legal, we watch others blow shit up and enjoy ourselves.

Also, a key to keeping my cool when watching the Cardinals blow a huge lead in a game.  Sitting next to my son, Vincent.  That’s right my friends.   Putting your kid next to you in games makes you take a more quiet approach.   If you wake him up, its time to clean up shit or get him carried away back to sleep.  Parents spend the first part of their lives avoiding doom.  Vincent is my new therapist.  I made a shirt for him that says, “Don’t”.

Alright, thats it.  I wrote a bulk of this earlier today, took a break to see the film and now will send it off.  Take it as you usually do.  Straight up and down the hatch of reality.

Thanks for reading,


The Time of the Season

Good afternoon folks,

The time has come for me to put my spin on the news.  Ready or not, here I come.  Let’s pick up the sledgehammer and bash through the door on a calm rainy Thursday.

The Cardinals Train Keeps on Moving-Am I Looking at a vanilla sky?

Sitting here watching this team make a serious run at the playoffs carries all the benefits a fan could ever ask for, but it doesn’t seem real.   I keep waiting for my arm to be pinched or the crooked suit from The Wire to slap me and go, “Shiiittttttt”.  The Cards are 19-6 in their current stretch of domination, and for the folks who think its all easy team beating; those wins included victories over the Phillies, Braves and Brewers, three other playoff hunting teams.   This is reminiscent of the Cards 2006 playoff run.   After barely making it into the playoffs with 83 wins and facing the Padres, there wasn’t a soul on the USA sports deck who cut us a sliver of opportunity.   All of a sudden, we swept the Padres.   After, we outlasted the Mets in a knockdown
drag out 7 game series that ended with Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran
at the knees.   With a Tigers team out of sync after a 10 day rest, the Cards dropped them for a 5 game series win and 10th World Series trophy.  What happened there and what is happening here, may you ask?  Timely efficient play.

 Everything is falling into place for the Cards at the right time.   Pitching, hitting,
move making, bullpen, and a decent amount of luck are playing roles here.  The Cardinals are playing well and the Braves are sinking.  Short term memories are best kept secrets in this game.  The Cardinals starters are 13-3 with a 3.12 ERA while the Braves starters are 7-9 with a 4.44 ERA.   The Cardinals are thriving with 2 out rallies, having sparked them on Tuesday and Wednesday night to come back and dethrone the Mets.   April wins are nice, but September thrillers are sacred.  This is the most important time of the year.  This is when you have to be at your best.  If teams can’t figure things out by September, they don’t deserve a playoff ticket.  The Cardinals have put fans through one of the biggest roller coaster experiences.   They have taken a zig zag approach usually reserved for the Blues.  Up and down, down and out and back up again.   A thrilling if draining brand of baseball.   This is the same team that blew 24 saves, has grounded into 162 double plays and had their rotation fall apart in July.  The moral of the 2011 Cardinals story is it doesn’t matter how you play from April through July but how you finish in August and September.  Lets run down some clips. 

*The starting pitching is legit.   Jaime Garcia delivered 7.2 innings last night and allowed zero earned runs.  The starters have rebounded from a power outage in July to become a strength in September.  It’s not only Chris Carpenter who is delivering outstanding starts.   Kyle Lohse delivered a clutch start in Philly.   Edwin Jackson got beat up early yet held the Mets in check.   Garcia shut down the Mets after a big inning last night.   The bats can’t come back unless the arms slow the other team down and this month, Cards starters are pitching deeper into ballgames and making the job easier. 

*As I mentioned above, the Cards are delivering huge 2 out rallies.  On Tuesday night, down 6-5 in the 7th inning, the Cards had two outs before Albert Pujols singled to start a 6 run rally.   David Freese delivered two huge hits last night, both coming with two outs.   Unlike the 2010 team, a late deficit doesn’t seem the Berlin Wall.  This team has the ability to put something together with 2 outs and nobody on base.  A much needed trait in playoff baseball where pitching takes over games. 

*Albert Pujols is having another amazing August and September run.  Does his incredible finish have anything to do with the Cards surge?  It’s hard to deny.  Pujols is hitting .389 in the month of September with 20 RBI and 18 runs scored.  AP is doing more than hitting home runs.  He is starting rallies, getting big hits and doing the little things to help his team win.  For 11 straight seasons, Albert Pujols is putting together an amazing season.   What started out as a perplexing story in April, with Pujols hitting .230 and looking more like a double play machine than a hitting machine is turning into another productive campaign.   His comeback coincides with the team’s recovery.   The Cards couldn’t do this without Albert’s efforts.   While others wanted to call it the early decline of Albert, I knew he was going to end up with the regular solid Pujols stats.  He is a player I can’t spend too much time worrying about.  A truly great player who simply adapts at a faster rate than any player in baseball.   Pujols isn’t declining like Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer are.  Once again, the naysayers of Albert have been there his entire career.  The negative cynics who hate to admit the man is a born machine who continues to defy normal standards set by players before him.  Did anyone think he was going to end up with a .305-.310 batting average, 38-40 HR, 105 RBI, 105 runs, and 165 hits in July?  Unfortunately, more than you think.   When the season ends, the Cards will have to pay up because Pujols has put together a career like no other and is tougher than most.  If anyone deserves a golden goose deal, it’s Albert Pujols.  The Cardinals waited to sign Albert and now that he has completed a miraculous turnaround this year, the need to lock him up for the rest of his career is required.  Do it!

*Seeing the Pujols deal ahead, Cards GM John Mozelaik is setting the tables by tying up loose ends on this team for 2012.  This team is going to contend.  Mozelaik is carving a contender with his moves.  Anytime you resign veterans, the win now attitude is continuing.   This morning, Lance Berkman signed a 1 year extension for 12 million, another solid move by Mozelaik.   Berkman is also putting together an amazing finish to his comeback campaign, with numbers right behind Pujols.  He was given a chance by the Cards and paid them back in full.  He gets a 4 million dollar raise that limits the future liability of this team and sets up both sides for next season.  This move benefits both sides in that it satisfied the team needs and Berkman’s desire to stay here.   Also, Berkman’s extension is an insurance plan just in case Albert decides to walk.  A good move on all sides.  This is Mozelaik clearing the table for the Pujols negotiations.  Taking care of the easier extensions and deals. 

*Keeping Furcal won’t be hard.  His down year will pull his price down.  He came here to win a championship, gets to hit leadoff, play every day and play for an instant contender.  Furcal is set up fine here.  Cards offer him 1yr/6 million and he stays.

**NL Central looks weak and unsure next season due to contract indecision. The state of the division hinges on the destinations of Pujols and more importantly, Prince Fielder.   The Cards can contend without Albert to an extent, but the Brewers will be weaker without Prince.

*Edwin Jackson has pitched very well for this team, but there is no spot for him on this team in 2012.  All 5 starters in the Cards rotation are set.   Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook.   All contracts are guaranteed and that is fine by me.  Unless you can move Westbrook or Lohse, the group is set and that’s also good for table setting.   Jackson is young and talented, but he doesn’t blow teams away.  Every one of his starts is a grinder and while he has better stuff than Lohse or Westbrook, he struggles just as they do to complete quick innings.  As much as I like this pitching and his youth, he won’t be back. 

*What does the rest of the season bring?  Thrillers, drama, heroics, headaches and a payoff that’s the greatest of endings.  After 6 months of devotion and hope, all fans want is playoff action.  We sit at a poker table in April, place a bet, make raises and holds, and wait for a payoff.  It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the next 6 days or where this team will be in October, but this current ride is pretty fun and worth the wait.   I still don’t believe its happening, but I am along for the ride. 

Let’s hit some other topics before coming back to the Cards final stand. 

Rams Motiviation Technique

After my unplugged venting on Monday night, I’m ready to settle down and talk about this team.
*The trend of this teams play bothers me more than their record.   Special teams getting in trouble, rough turnovers, penalties, the resistence to playing rookies and the ability to score touchdowns in the red zone.  Starting out 0-2 in the weakest division in football isn’t detrimental.  Its the way this team is playing.

*Risky roster cuts coming back to haunt the Rams.  Cutting talented if brittle receiver Donnie Avery stands out.  Marty Gilyard could return kicks as well as line up.   There was a feeling I knew what the Rams were doing at the time but now I wonder if the right moves were made.

*On second thought, sitting Steven Jackson was smart.  forcing a player with a muscle strain in Week 2 is a bad idea.   If SJ isn’t 100 percent, he can’t play because his liability is too high two games into the season.

*Sam Bradford’s play is encouraging.  He is making throws and driving the team down the field.  His yards, rating and average per catch is solid.  A couple bad turnovers have hidden a quality start from the kid.  Bradford is everything you want in a QB.   Smart, accurate, demanding and carries a short term memory.   Now we’re waiting for results.

*The Rams can move the ball, but can they push it into the end zone.  Monday night, we were inside the 10 yard line twice and failed to get 7.  Do something and get a 7 spot.  Hand off to Jason Brown or throw a fade to the corner of the end zone.   When you enter the red zone, you better leave with 7 points or you give the other team a pass.

*Throw the ball to Danario Alexander.  Throw it to him on 1st down.   Throw him the fade to the back of the end zone. Get that kid the ball.  If he is covered, somebody else gets freed up. *The offensive line needs to give Bradford more time. 

*Our run defense needs to step up.  We’re getting run over all in the these first two games while our secondary is getting ripped for big plays.  Defenses work like a ballet in football.  Each group hinges on the play of the other groups on the field.   The defensive line getting pressure helps the secondary and safety and the initial contact of the line helps the linebackers set up for the run or short pass.  The Run defense needs to step up its play or the offense doesn’t get a chance.  While the main culprit so far is the offense, the defense needs to be less sloppy, stay away from penalties and do a sharper job. 

*This week, Baltimore comes to town and we know a few things about them.   We know Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs can ruin a quarterbacks week.  Lewis brings the heat from all directions while Suggs goes for your spine and Reed waits for the mistake.   The Ravens are a talented team yet beatable.  If you get protection, they can be defeated.   The Ravens destroyed The Steelers in Week 1 and got beaten by The Titans in Week 2.   The difference?  Turnovers.  Pressure on the QB and the lack of a Joe Flacco attack.   The offensive line works in each corner this week.  The Rams get pressure and cause Flacco to throw INT’s.  The Rams offensive line keeps Bradford on his feet and good things can happen.   Another test lies in front of the Rams.  Will they learn from their mistakes and make plays or once again fall prey to a better team?  One can argue the Eagles, Giants and Ravens are better than the Rams, but that doesn’t turn into losses Sunday.  The ability to make plays in the pocket, stop a team on 3rd down and do the little things to win do. 

NFL Takes of The Week-

*Tony Romo plays well in the 4th quarter overall, yet makes horrible decisions that stand out further.  Two weeks of action and we see both shades of Romo.   Week 1 where he blows 14 point lead and turns the ball over twice.  Week 2 where he gets clobbered and hurt early, comes back late and helps his team eliminate a 14 point deficit.  A mixed bag set in stone that will always take smack for failing in the most important moments and laughing about it.  Unlike Marc Bulger, Romo walks away from an interception smiling, and if I were the Cowboys fanbase, I would be enraged.  Today, Romo can’t move around without severe pain and that’s what happens when you get two broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  In order to be efficient for his team, Romo needs to get hurt first. 

*Put down the Cam Newton kool aide.  While I admire and have written on his early solid play, lets not start the comparisons wheel already.  It’s an amateur move by the media to throw Newton into the Brett Favre comparison talk.   It’s a ridiculous claim that’s bent in the wrong direction and isn’t fair to anyone.   Lets try something.  Stop comparing him to other quarterbacks.  Let’s let him play.  A couple years of action and then a status report.  The sports world lives and breathes on weekly ideas, but they get into trouble with serious comparisons.  When I start comparing Jason Motte to a crazier version of Bruce Sutter, shoot me. 

*Name one team that’s hard to beat and I have to say the New England Patriots.  As much as I love to see the call stealing, mighty unstoppable creepy Belechick-Brady train, they are hard to doubt.   The only way you can beat them is to put pressure on Brady.   The only way they lose is if you knock Brady off the field and put the emphasis on their defense, which is “bend if don’t break” built.   The Giants beat the Patriots by constantly pressuring Brady, making him move in the pocket.  The Ravens beat the Patriots by stopping Brady and running the ball all over the defense.  Akin to the Eagles and Vick, you stop him and you stop the Patriots.  Their play functions off the play of the quarterback.   Guess what?  Right now, no team can stop the Tom Brady Machine empowered by the La Russa stoned brain of Bill Belechick.  Picture Albert Pujols as a forthcoming nice media guy who says all the right things and you have Brady.  I would like to shoot him in the face because he is so good, but right now, I just can’t.  Add in the fact that he has to go home to the ugliest woman on the planet in Gisele Buncheon and its hard to not like his chances. 

*If the Rams fail to win this division with the lack of talent within the division, the embarrassment will settle in quick.   While I don’t expect the Rams to knock every good team they face, I do expect them to take care of business against the lesser teams in the division, even the Kevin Kolb enabled Cardinals.   Going from 3-13 to 7-9 in one season was satisfying, but the thirst needs to be quenched with a return to playoff activity and given the lack of talent in the division, the Rams have every reason to take advantage.  The NFC West is a joke, but the bigger joke will be missing out on a golden opportunity.   Easy division can still produce a Super Bowl contender.

*The Giants players faking injuries is pure sacrelige. Wrong in every way one can imagine.   While the Rams were driving down the field in a no huddle offense, the Giants decided to have two players drop to the field in order to get a break from the action.  The NFL responded by sending out a memo to all teams preaching the idea of an honor code.   Sam Bradford said he heard two Giants players whisper to each other, “someone go down”.  That’s just bad for football. 

Interesting Things about baseball’s late season dive-

*Boston’s collapse.  After spending a ton of money on Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and resting his ace of the staff duties on John Lackey, the Red Sox are putting together a regretful finish.  They are 5-16 this month.  It’s a combination of bad defense, bad pitching and an awake or dead offense.  Scary stat.  If the Red Sox don’t score 12 runs, they are 1-15 in September.  They just got beat by the Baltimore Orioles in a pivotal series.  That’s similiar to the Cardinals losing the season in 2010 to teams like Pittsburgh and Washington.   Their collapse coincides with Tampa Bay’s riveting surge.  Tampa Bay lost Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and got off to a horrible start.  Now they are standing tall.  Every season comes down to playing well in September folks. 

*Best 1-2 pitching combo in baseball.  Move over Halladay and Lee.   Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde are coming on as the ultimate game day combo.   Verlander leads the AL in 24 wins and every major pitching category and Valverde is 47 for 47 in save opportunities.   Deadly.  Quietly a dangerous team in the postseason. 

*The Phillies, Braves and Brewers are playing shitty September baseball.  While this may not mean playoff subtraction, the quality of a team’s play does roll into October.  Remember 2009 and the Cardinals enduring a horrible final 10 games before getting swept by the Dodgers?   Playing well in October is all about finishing well, unless you’re the 2006 Cardinals. 

Blues News of the Week-Along with winning their first two preseason games in a home/away series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blues endured bigger news yesterday.   Max Chambers, a Calgary businessman, made a 167 million collar proposal to buy the Blues and was rejected.  This is a development I find unfortunate and short sighted.   Dave Checketts is trying to find a buyer for his main investor, Towerbrook Corporation.  Tom Stillman’s group offered a proposal near the 110-120 million range.   Chambers’ offer is the highest offer this team will get.  Towerbrook wants 190 million, which is ridiculous and out of the question.  Logic is leaving here.  Forbes Magazine lists the Blues value at 165 million, which calls one to wonder why Towerbrook rejected the offer.  Where is the other offer making them hold out?  Why the wait?  Chambers told the STL Post Dispatch that he wanted to inject 8-10 million into the payroll(currently at 52 million) and craft a Stanley Cup playoff team and keep the team in St. Louis.  Checketts isn’t to blame here, because he wants to remain in the ownership and is trying to find a way to remove Towerbrook from the picture.  Chambers’ offer is the best offer this team will get.  Finding a stable owner by the start of the season was important, and now the future of this team’s ownership appears in doubt.  I assume Chambers offer will remain on the table.  However, what does that say about Towerbrook Corporation.  They can’t seriously be asking for 25 million above the listed value of a team, can they?  The sale of the Blues gets delayed once again. 

Appreciate the good start by the Blues in the preseason, but don’t take it too far.  Preseason wins are as worthy as a decent shit.   Once you hit flush, the victory ceases to exist.  You’ll never hear me write that spring training wins mean good things for this team.   The Rams went 4-0 in the preseason and are 0-2 in the games that count.   The serious Blues sections here come when real games are played.  Having said that, I like their start. 

The Other Topics-

*Underrated Movie of the moment.  Book of Eli, currently playing on cinemax.  A movie that thrives on the starpower and great acting of Denzel Washington.  There are a handful of movies that stay alive due to a great script, direction or sheer audacity of the action scenes.  Book of Eli is carried by one of the best actors in the game.  Washington plays Eli, a road warrior with one goal.   Get a sacred book across the country while battling evil and avoiding distraction.  One of the distractions comes in the form of Gary Oldman’s boss, who wants the book for his own gain.  A movie that speaks one language.  Action power.  The idea that if a book ended up in the wrong hands, the entire world may lose its soul.  Eli is a mysterious man with lethal abilities, but we do know his motives are heroic and driven by a need to fulfill a mission.  The supporting cast is fine here, but Washington’s ability to convincingly transform into an action star while maintaining his dramatic range is the strength of this film.  Add that to some amazingly choreographed action scenes and you have a devilishly good film about survival of the fittest. 

*Side Cards Note-Allen Craig cranks a 431 foot homer to put the Cards up 2-0 in the finale of the series this afternoon and also doubled in the third.  Craig is becoming a serious power bat to complement the outfield for 2012 and making a mad claim to a spot with his September finish.  Craig came up in 2009 and didn’t do well.  Too many holes in his swing like Joe Mather.  In 2010, he made adjustments and collected some huge hits and finish with solid numbers.  This season, he started well, got hurt, and has come back with an ability to take over games.  He hit two home runs off Roy Halladay on Sunday and hit a shot off Chris Capruiano today.  Quietly, Craig is becoming the Cards secret weapon in this stretch run.

*Song of the Day-

The National-Apartment Story

While I celebrate the hidden jewels and wonder of their latest album, High Violet, I present to you an older selection from this great indie rock band.   Taken from their first crack into stardom, The Boxer, comes this track about salvation in the form of a crowd of familiar souls.   Lead singer Matt Bomer’s painfully brutal voice fills the lyrics with a sincerity that you can’t teach and the supporting instrumental empowers the track.  It’s a good track for a calm fall day. Enjoy and ask for more National.  This is a band you truly have to seek out because they won’t come to your doorstep on the radio or MTV.  An independent talent.  It’s plain old moody rock ballads with a tragic tale about individualism, innocence lost and the healing power of music. 

*The Cardinals are playing very well lately, but they carry a weary reluctance to put teams away with early opportunities.  They wasted a bases loaded chance to add on last night in the 4th and this afternoon they have wasted two situations with a runner in scoring position and less than 2 outs.  They must create an ability to step on the throat of teams. 

*Hardest lesson for a new parent.  Being able to decipher between a standard crying session and a loud furious scream.   Dealing with all the levels in between.  Vincent has a way of gearing up for crying that it makes our job harder.   Three reasons a baby starts to cry fall on needing a diaper change, wanting to feed and needing to sleep but being unable to get him to relax.  Finding out what’s wrong when all three have been met is dangerous ground that results in me picking him up and rocking him to sleep.  You also have a schedule that needs to be kept so he doesn’t keep you up all night.  A great line from Will Arnett on the new NBC series, Up All Night, comes when he asks his wife, played by Christina Applegate, if this is real.   “Are we dead?”  A great moment for any new parent to see because of how frequently you are up in the middle of the night and standard hours are thrown out the window.  The fight wages on. 

*Albert hits a bomb to left on first pitch.  37th homer of the season, bringing him closer to 100 RBI and getting his batting average up to .306.  A down season by Albert is a dream season for anyone else. 

*Manny Rameriz wants reenstatement and will serve his ban for his second strike using steroids.   After leaving the game and beating up his girlfriend, Manny wants to go play again.  The role of a housewife doesn’t fit him. Can you picture Manny mowing the lawn or doing the dishes?

*By the way, who the fuck wants to do dishes?  Nobody wants to do dishes. 

*Whether you like or dislike Ben Affleck, his Madden 2012 commercial narrations are awesome.  His Boston swagger talking about the internal battles of digital football war is priceless.  Here’s a taste.

*Jake Westbrook is the kind of guy who you send on a beer run and trust him to not drop the easy 24 pack on the way back or get robbed by a group of hitters.  He walks a lot of people, gives up long innings of stress inducing baserunner misery, and makes every start a gamble on your mortgage.  He has 12 wins, but has enabled 1200 Cardinals fans to become drug addicts during his turns on the mound.  He makes the game of pitching a riddle of unconventional proportions when it comes to getting 18-21 outs with the lead.  He is tough to watch, like the guy crossing the street with a coffee, the newspaper and a blackberry in his two hands as he checks out the hot chick in the lobby.  Today, he is working with a 4-1 lead in the 6th inning and even when he gets out of it, you feel like you need a shot of whiskey. 

Footnote-This rant is going on and on, but only because I love doing live incerpts as I go about my business here.  Some of my rants are 2,500 word quick hits, but this 4500 word monster will go down as an uneven mess but a worthy walk into the wild badlands of failing to shut the fuck up.  Don’t blame me.  Blame the mind that doesn’t stop firing.  I always have something to talk about.

*Corey Patterson is still employed in the major leagues.  An additional useless hack from the Rasmus-Jackson trade.  Patterson doesn’t  do anything well.  He can’t play the outfield that well anymore.  He can’t hit.  He can’t steal a base.  My bet is he can’t even make a good spaghetti sauce.  Patterson is a classic La Russa crush, because he’s over 38 years old, occasionally gets a hit and grows a fine beard.   When he gets to the plate, you write down a K on your scorecard. 

*Deweys is the dinner destination for the Buffas.   Thats right.  A large brooklyn style pizza that’s so good and fresh you’d bet that a group of tiny italian elves made it supported by a large caesar salad that gets mixed with the perfectly seasoned dressing that it makes you lick the plate clean.  Add a pint of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and lightning may strike your colon. 

*Shows to avoid on television.  Network bullshit.   Zooey Deschanel is adorable and talented, but her new sitcom New Girl is poorly conceived, badly written, and carries that unreal sitcom set aspect that distracts from appreciating the show.   It’s just bad.  23 minutes of boredom that annoys.  She’s a 30 year drama queen who gets dumped and moves in with 3 guys and bores the shit out of them so much they fall in love with her.  Three men and a lady.  She sings to herself, sings about her status and watches Dirty Dancing over and over.  After 23 minutes, when the guys rescue her from a bad date, you want to drop a grenade in her apartment.   This is being hailed as the next TV hit, but let me tell you only having a week off and a lazy remote hand allowed me to run into this worthless piece of FOX created shit.  Give me another prescription for House instead.  I’ll spend 43 minutes with a cranky entertaining narcisistic doctor rather than hang out with an emotional drama queen who doesn’t even take her clothes off. 

*Cards lead 4-1 in the seventh with Arthur Rhodes on the mound.  Going from Westbrook to Rhodes is like exchanging a heart attack for triple bypass surgery.  Switching from a t-bone to a ribeye poorly undercooked.  Another La Russa fossil child.  As I polish off this tormented section, Rhodes records a 1-2-3 inning.  Works every time. 

*Take a shit on Killer Elite all you want critics, because it won’t stop me from enjoying the latest Jason Statham asskicking fest with a little added spice in the form of Robert De Niro and Clive Owen.  These films aren’t made to receive good reviews.  They are crafted to create an entertaining experience that critics can’t understand.  Moneyball is the more likely pick and I can’t blame you for that because Billy Beane’s story is wildly engrossing and Brad Pitt’s live wire tactics make it very interesting.  However, The Killer Elite is a movie I have been waiting for all year.  The early fall action packed thrill ride.  It’s a one course meal.  Take it or leave it. 

*Let me answer a question.  Real Steel, with Hugh Jackman as a former champion boxer turned robot trainer, looks far fetched and retarded.  However, on second glance, you see the father-son relationship as the heart of the film.  The idea of rescuing your life by proving yourself to your son by building and training a robot boxer.  Anyone who likes Rock Em Sock Em robots also has an interest in this film.  It may not be the future, but it’s entertaining.  Every film isn’t made to win awards.  Some just want to entertain.  Certain wonders, like the Town, Inception, and Dark Knight, can do both. 

*Sons of Anarchy is the current show to watch.   A show about a biker club battling the authorities and rival clubs for control of Charming, a small city in California, is entertaining and well made.  Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunman lead a cast that also includes the lovely Katey Sagal.  Kurt Sutter created this FX gem as a story about family values within a criminal corporation and this is a case where you root for the bad guys that carry the least amount of evil.   FX is quietly becoming a versatile series powerhouse. 

That marks the end folks.  There isn’t much left to say and if there is, the content waits for another time and day.   Every day is another chance to get something important done.   Savor the flavor of today’s accomplishments and move on.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. 

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa







Take A Look At My Life

Last week, I wasn’t a dad.  There’s my opening.   One of the greatest lessons in life is the ways it can change in an instant.  Old priorities go out the window at a moment’s notice, and the wheels go in a different direction.   Your time gets pushed in other directions, the importance of making a hangout drops, and work isn’t so grueling becaue it’s a basic countdown to going home to something new.   Make no mistake.  I am a happy man and accomplished a few things in my life.   Tackled the addictive world of sports and wrote about it.   I have a group of friends I wouldn’t trade for dollars.   I am married to a strong sexy woman.   I don’t own a college degree but I did own a 3.8 grade point average in high school.   A problem of my mine in college was misdirection.   I tried two majors that I didn’t feel inspired by yet tackled anyway because of a so called self promise.  College was a step I followed other’s into instead of carrying a legit goal.  The tale of life was finish high school, go to college and do something.  Sports medicine and radiology weren’t passions of mine and I failed.  Once I tackled Journalism, I was drained and saw zero job potential in the field and got knocked out.   I moved in with my wife and worked a series of jobs.  Those mini careers included a gig at Busch Stadium on the manual scoreboard, a movie theater role, security guard, UPS loader, and finally, a warehouse labor artist.  I have been married for six and a half years and wouldn’t trade stock on a single moment. I am outspoken and write down my opinions and fling thoughts like Ndamukong Suh throws quarterbacks into the masses.   What I am saying is that before last week I had accomplished a decent sheet of material, but something was missing.  A son.

The Talk of the Town

On September 14th, 2011, at 4:50 p.m., Vincent Daniel Buffa was born at St. Johns Mercy West Hospital.   After a 29 hour delivery, Vincent came into the world via natural birth weighing in at 6.5 pounds and extending to 19.75 inches.  The man was a little shy at first.  Blinded by light and short on experience, Vincent was overloaded with visitors, nurses and various family and friends.   The most famous souls on the earth other than celebrities are babies.  Put Brad Pitt and my kid in a line and see how many people flock to the midget first before Floyd.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am a dad.  After 9 months of exams, ultrasounds, close calls, pain, stress and anticipation, Vincent is here. He is currently 5 days old with change. 128 hours of wonder.  Every moment I spend with the kid deserves a picture and explanation.   I haven’t accumulated 8 hours of sleep in one night yet but sleep can be made up, unlike great memories with a kid.  Being a new owner of a human being. I tackle diaper changes, outfit swaps and the duties of keeping after a human with a newfound yet previously stored energy.   I won’t tell other dads in waiting that it will kill you.  I will tell them it’s an experience unlike nothing they’ve gone through before.  Being a dad is a 24/7 job in literally blunt form.  In the first couple of months, Vincent will own the clock with his feedings and diaper changes.  Who shits in his pants, gets more looks from women than most models and sleeps more than a stoner… son.  I can write all night about being a dad but for now I will say 5 things I have learned in my first week of being a father.

1.)  Sleep does exist.  In small doses, I get sleep.   Vincent feeds every 2-3 hours, so I get up and help Rachel and that means there are no 8 hour snoozes.  Sleep is like food on the fly for a thief.  You get some here and other portions later on.   It’s miserable at times, yet manageable if you adapt to your son’s tendencies, because the kid is predictable.   This is what the 3am rants were all about.  Training for daddy duty.   This myth isn’t entirely true.  Sleep is possible.

2.)Hold the head up.  If you want to find out how protective you are, have a kid.  Any time I handle my son, holding the “drunk neck tendencies” of him is top priority.   An infant’s neck is the most vulnerable thing on his body.  Let it drop and it’s not pretty.  It’s a dead neck drop.  Also, you drive differently.  Once my kid gets into the car, I immediately drive slower and take less chances.  I don’t jump the four car rush on a yield light.  I take less chances downfield and settle for 10 yard assaults in traffic.  I constantly check my sons breathing once he sleeps like a brick.  If anyone looks at my kid with a mean thought, I go into Navy Seal kickass mode.  It’s a serious task that becomes a full time job of watching.   If I am carrying Vinny, I am awake and don’t risk a fall.  A kid heightens the senses of your surroundings.

3.)Hail the power of a kid’s lungs.  Vinny’s got chords.   I think of Vincent as a 5 speed high powered car.  His screams and wails go from a low first gear of muffled fits to a 5th gear wail that wakes up the neighbors and makes you cringe in temporary agony.  Don’t tell me my kid is fine.  The little guy feels like launching a ship on higher authority once you have to change his diaper.   Start playing with his ass, yanking on his legs to install a diaper and he will do the vibrating tongue scream.   If he is hungry and wants to feed, he will let you know.  He is the alarm clock.   That’s an infant.  In a womb, they were well placed, wrote their own schedule and didn’t deal with a strange creature called light and coldness.  The two of us are both going through major change.  Respect the kid’s experience.   If he could wipe his own ass and dress himself, he would.

4.)My kid’s got a good chance of being a soccer player or boxer.   Lean down to him and he will hit you with a few hooks and overhand rights that keep you out of his face.  He kicks at me during changes and can extend his legs fully off my chest.  For Vinny there are plans in place.   My new nickname for him is “kicking impossible” because while his efforts are futile, he doesn’t stop the assault.

5.)The rewards always outweigh the torment.  Lock eyes with your kid and they make you feel like the only person on the planet that’s worth a damn.   Hold a sleeping infant and it’s a cozy experience.  I have watched sports with my kid and while he doesn’t understand the actions, he looks up at the screen with an earnest gaze.   He is a looker.   Hanging out with my kid is my own idea of a good time.   The need to go out and spend money and hang out at movie theaters all the time doesn’t exist anymore.  If I am away from my kid, I want to be with him soon.  He takes over your life in the best way.   He inserts purpose into your step.  I can look at Vincent and see the future a little.   Having a kid makes you bide your time properly.  You take better care of yourself.  You get to see your parents and friends fall to their knees in worship.  A preacher doesn’t own a room the way a kid does.   A kid doesn’t have to say a 1,000 words to get his or her point across.  All they have to do is look cute and wiggle.   Vincent is my life now and that’s fine with me.

A week ago, I wasn’t a dad.  Now, I am the proud dad of a 6 pound son who is going to kickstart my life.  If you need to find purpose and don’t like getting shot at to find your destiny, have a kid.  They will put you to the test constantly and won’t settle for halfass care.  If this paragraph lacked juice or cynicism, it’s because I am a happy dad and not a sad lost soul without a night life.  I won’t state that every couple has to have kids.  They are a hardcore choice and only need to come into the world with planned care and proper caregivers.  Take them or leave them, kids are the most fascinating group of people on this earth. While their actions are predictable, their future are beautifully uncertain and carry a thrilling appeal that never wains.   Stay tuned for more developments.

The Rogues in Red’s Final Push

Instead of giving in and dying, The Cardinals are alive and well.   After taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates and 3 of 4 from the Phillies, The Cardinals are making things very interesting.  Is it too little too late for the Redbirds or do we have a legit chance to knock off the Braves in the wild card race?  It’s too hard to tell, because this team’s swoon’s come on quick.  Here’s what I can tell you.  The Cardinals are 2.5 games out with 10 games to play.  In their last 23 games, they are 17-6, the wins including series triumphs over The Brewers, Braves and Phillies.   They have won 10 of their past 12 games and are putting everything together.  They are supplying full time offense that scores first.   The starters are pitching like real game arms.  The bullpen is finishing and doing their part to hold up a victory.   Albert Pujols is hitting over .400 in September and is right at .300 for the season.   Rafael Furcal is hitting .290 this month with 15 runs scored and amazing defense.  Allen Craig, Daniel Decalso and Jon Jay are doing their part.  Everything they weren’t doing in June, July and August, the Cardinals have done in September.  Do they have enough to complete the miracle comeback?  Lets look at a few things and find out.

1.)Chris Carpenter is pitching like an Ace.   Carp outdueled Cole Hamels on Sunday, pitching 8 innings, throwing 112 pitches and gaining his 10th win and continuing his marvel of a second half act.  Before June 23rd, Carp was 1-7 with a 4.18 ERA.  Since that point, he is 9-2 with a 3.01 ERA.  A mixed bag of a season has turned into a great pitcher finding his groove at exactly the right time.  Carpenter also took over the NL lead in innings pitched with 221 innings.  At the least, Carp is tough and hard to shake.   With his newfound effectiveness, he is a deadly arm and someone the other teams don’t want to face.

2.)Allen Craig is a reliable power bench bat.   In limited duty, Craig has 9 home runs and 31 RBI.   Craig put up similiar numbers in 2010, and is becoming a real tool for this team.   Craig’s got legitimate power to all fields but has a power alley ability to left center, where he launched two homers off Cole Hamels on Sunday night.   Craig and Jon Jay made the Rasmus trade possible.   Craig’s power streak is making up for the loss of Matt Holliday.

3.)Thank you Marlins.   After the Cardinals won tonight, they gathered in the clubhouse and watched Omar Infante bomb a 2 run walkoff shot off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel to bring the wild card deficit to 2.5 games.   The Marlins send their top starters against the Braves this week and the Cards chances hinge on their ability to take down Atlanta.

4.)The Cardinals faced a tough Phillies team this weekend.  Except for Ryan Howard, the entire Phillies lineup was in play during this series.  The Phillies are still gunning for home field advantage, so there is reason to play.  Charlie Manuel is going to play the regulars in order to finish strong and head into the playoffs on a winning streak, which is so underrated in sports today.   The Cardinals didn’t get lucky this weekend.  They soundly beat Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, two of the best starters in the game.

5.)For some reason, Halladay’s 2 Cy Youngs and superior pitching power didn’t scare me as much as Hamels or Cliff Lee’s domination.   Halladay is great but gives up the long ball, and gave up a deuce check to Lance Berkman in the first.  The key to the Phillies defeat was jumping on top of a hard hitting team and gaining the upper hand.

6.)The Wild Cardinals control their own fate this week.   We face the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, 6 of those games coming at home.   Facing 3 teams with losing records, the Cardinals hold the bullets and will decide if they go down fighting or come up limp.   Unlike the Braves, the Cardinals have a slate of bad teams to go head to head with.  They can’t afford to lose a single game.  How are those for circumstances?

7.)How good is the starting pitching this month during crunch time?  During their 10-2 streak, the Cardinals starters are 7-1 with a 2.09 ERA, 3 home runs allowed with 53 strikeouts to oppose only 19 walks.

8.)Tony La Russa still favors the pitching shuffle in late inning games.  TLR plays every move close to the chest and doesn’t waste time, and this is something I have problems with.   Micromanaging hurts you at times and while he deserves credit for pulling this group together and launching them towards an impressive finish, TLR can play less genius games in the ninth.  Jason Motte came into a 4-1 game and gave up 2 runs, but deserved to finish the game.  A true closer is one you live and die by, and not an arm you handle with kid gloves.  While the game is vital to our chances, Motte deserved to lose it.  After he departed, Arthur Rhodes entered to give up a hit and Octavio Dotel finished things up with the go ahead runner at the plate to seal the win.  In classic Mad Tony fashion, the Cards won after using 4 pitches to finish the eighth and ninth.

9.)Kyle Lohse’s work on Monday was impressive.   With the 7.1 inning victory over Halladay and the Phillies, Lohse is 14-8 with a 3.50 ERA.  Decent numbers for a 4th starter thrusted into higher duty this season with the loss of Wainwright.  Lohse worked his way out of 3 jams, pitched to contact, and held up the end on his early run support.  Solid work from a pitcher entering his walk year.

10.)The rotation is set up perfectly to make a great finish.  Chris Carpenter will pitch Friday against the Cubs and finish the season in Houston.   Jaime Garcia and Edwin Jackson also get two more starts.

11.)While it’s futile to worry about offseason activities, the chances of signing Rafael Furcal, Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols and locking up Heath Bell in the closer role are highly unlikely.   Here’s what you do.  Approach the 3 and tell them that it’s important to keep the magic team together and keep winning.  Furcal is going to have a down year no matter how he finishes.  He came here to a win a World Series and will return next season for around 5-6 million.   Berkman is a tricky case because he declined a trade to Texas but may request a 3 year extension and huge raise.   Albert Pujols will stay here, especially if La Russa remains and the rest of the crew returns.   Pujols’ issue isn’t annual cash but years on his deal.  A medium must be reached while allowing the team to bring back the other supporting cast.   Skip Schumacher gives you so many options it’s hard to not bring him back or consider him.   David Freese and Daniel Descalso can patrol third base and Molina comes back on an option.  This isn’t important now, but it will be.

12.)Rafael Furcal is a secret engine behind this turnaround and the chief export of his greatness is his defense.   In particular, his range at shortstop and an ability to track down a ball up the middle.  Furcal is also hitting well and raised his average 35 points since his arrival.  Big time.

13.)Albert Pujols isn’t hurting his offseason prospects, reaching a .300 BA, 36 HR, 91 RBI and 97 runs scored.  He leads the team in all four catagories after hitting .230 in April with 5 HR and 11 RBI.  He is a guy that I never truly had to worry about.  Pujols’ numbers will be there.

14.)While Albert’s a given and Holliday’s injury plagued season is credible, the production of Lance Berkman is a silent MVP for this team this season.   Berk has 31 HR, 87 RBI and a .298 average and has played well in the outfield.   Berkman carried the team during the first half where Pujols was human, Holliday was hurt, Freese was on the DL and Rasmus disappeared.   That production can’t be forgotten.

15.)Motte is 7-8 in save chances this month and deserves a clean chance next spring if he can finish up well this week.   This is Motte’s true test and one hopes he does well so La Russa doesn’t resort to a committee tactic if the Cards reach the postseason.   Motte gives the team a legit value at the closer position.   The team doesn’t have the funds to chase a closer in the offseason if they choose to keep Berkman, Furcal and Pujols.  It’s not financially possible.  Motte is a potential bargain.  Here’s to a solid finish for the Wolf.

16.)Beating Halladay was special.  It was his first loss since August 16th.   The home run given up to Berkman was the first home run allowed this season by Halladay to a lefthander.  The 4 walks were the highest amount given in 3 months.  The Cardinals beat the doctor in his own park.  Very cool.

Bottom Line-The Cardinals control their fate.   We have the opportunity to take care of business against bad teams, pull together a tragically broken season and give ourselves the best chance to make the postseason.  Forget about the Brewers and focus on the Mets, Cubs, and Astros.   These teams will come at our Redbirds as hard as ever, hoping to play spoiler.  The Cards can’t give in or let us down now.  Finish what you started.  Make it happen or forever hold you peace.   The rest of the schedule is weak and it all may come down to Bud Norris burying our playoff chance.  The Cardinals have to play one game at a time.  Savor the flavor of the Phillies kill, and live to play another day because you never know what may come tomorrow.  The Cardinals sent a message with their play in Philly.  My question is how long will it last?  The old baseball adage goes like this.  You can’t hurt yourself by winning, no matter where you lie in the standings.  Play until you drop.

The Rams Troubles Continue

What are the signs of an average football team?  A team that has the tools to succeed yet can’t put it all together to win a game.   The Rams are 0-2 in 2011.  This may come as a surprise to some but not to me.  The Rams have lost by 10 or more points to the Eagles and Giants because they haven’t been effective enough to polish off a win.  The Rams start fast but can’t come through in the clutch moments.  At the moment of truth, this team falls down.

Here’s why the Rams lost for a second week in a row.

1.)The Rams settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.  A huge problem in 2010 is seeping into this season.   The Rams entered the red zone 3 times last night in New York and came away with 9 points before scoring in the 4th quarter in a 19 point game.  Too little, too late.  It doesn’t matter who you put in the offense coordinator spot.  The Rams offense is still stale overall.   These are the bunch who got outpointed in Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland and Tampa Bay because they couldn’t score enough.   Pat Shurmur or Josh McDaniels.  It’s not making a difference.  Injuries have stung the team but there is depth here.  Field goals don’t win many games.   The Rams were on the 10 yard line or closer and kicked field goals of 21 and 25 yards.  Ridiculous.

2.)Individual stats tell a different story.   Sam Bradford threw for 301 yards and a touchdown.   Danario Alexander caught 3 passes for 128 yards(more on him later).   Michael Sims Walker added 6 catches for 92 yards.  Cadillac Williams was restricted in yards but picked up big runs in the game.   There was 1 turnover and it was huge but the numbers were put up with no zero finish.

3.)Mistakes and penalties hurt the Rams.  Sam Bradford threw behind Williams and the ball was returned for a touchdown by the Giants.  The team committed 9 penalties that were costly.   Playoff teams don’t do this and the schedule doesn’t get easier.   This was a game where the Rams outplayed the Giants overall yet failed in the make or break moments.

4.)Where is the fire in this team?  In the 4th quarter, the Rams seemed to be giving up, throwing short slants, screen passes and handing off with 8 box defense sets.   Steve Spagnuolo’s drawback has always been the creeping suspicion that he runs a conservative ship. Instead of firing on all cylinders at teams, Spags likes to play it safe and hold back.  Down by 12 points in the 4th, the Rams coaching staff and players looked finished.

5.)Several people thought the team could easily beat the New York Giants, especially after the Giants struggles against the Redskins in Week 1.   Eli Manning likes to throw interceptions, the defensive line wasn’t as strong, and the running game was weaker.  Right?   Wrong my friends.  The Rams will endure a tough road ahead.   Games against the Ravens, Packers, Saints and Redskins will carry difficulties of all kinds.  Remember this is the same team that went 3-13 2 seasons ago, went 7-9 yet choked in prime time last season and looks flat through 2 games this year.   Pass the kool aide on and settle on stressful Sundays folks.

6.)Steven Jackson needed to play on prime time Monday and I can only hope his quad muscle was severely hurting.   I love the guy and what he brings, but too many times the man has proved to be a pulled muscle away from sitting.   Unfortunate and disturbing.  The Rams were missing their cement truck on Monday night.  Trucks work better than cadillacs.

7.)Here’s a fact that will hurt people’s feelings.   The Rams won’t win any games this year unless we can convert red zone appearances into touchdowns.   Field goals are bullshit unless they come from 30-40 yards out in a tied game with the final seconds ticking off the clock.  Stop drinking the magic potion and get real my friends.

8.)Message for McDaniels.  Throw the fucking ball to Danario Alexander more often.  When Alexander makes 4 or more catches, the team wins.   He is the closest thing we have to a big time threat down the field.  If Alexander isn’t on the field, who is the threat?  Until Lance Kendricks and Greg Salas can catch passes, forget about it.   Alexander ran routes for long TD’s at Mizzou and looks to do more in St. Louis.  Last year, he burst onto the scene, made plays and got hurt.  This year, he refused to sit out due to chronic knee soreness, and was held out of the lineup last week.  WHY?  He is the tall, big time threat on this team. He needs to play and be even more active in the playcalling.  If the ball is on the 5 yard line, throw a fade to Alexander.  Done deal.  If he misses it, throw it again.   When in doubt, give it to the tallest receiver on the team.  Danny Amendola is a hard worker but he will never be as skilled or electric or Alexander on two healthy knees.

9.)Robert Quinn looked ferocious tonight at defensive end and beefs up this defensive sack master crew of killers.   The best part of the Rams D is the D-line.   Quinn and Long recorded sacks tonight and kept Manning moving around in the pocket.   If there was a reason why our first round pick sat last week against the Eagles, I couldn’t tell you why.  Spags needs to play the kids.

10.)Get this straight.   The Rams won’t blow any teams out this season.   Don’t look for it to happen.  We will win in gritty close stressful fashion unless our play improves dramatically.   The discipline of our overall play, red zone efficiency and secondary has to be stronger.   The Rams aren’t built to kill teams.  We will find ways to make shitty teams like the 49ers and Seahawks look competitive.  Our road work has to improve.   I like this team and their chances but they won’t run away with any wins this season.  Look at the first two games and tell me otherwise.

Next week brings in the Baltimore Ravens to the Ed Dome.  Three words for you.  Lewis, Reed and Suggs.  My heart and cartilage in my knee and shoulder go out to Sam Bradford.  The work is cut out for The Rams next week.

Random Bits from Week 2 in the NFL

*Once again, Michael Vick and the Eagles can be defeated if you put pressure on Vick constantly and record sacks.  Pressure from multiple angles.   Vick is a talented if brittle talent.  He is easily knocked out of games and left Sunday’s game against the Falcons with a concussion, and the Eagles lost 35-31.  If Vick leaves, the defense can’t win the game alone and the third string QB on Eagles roster suddenly turns this team dream team into a weakened bunch of frail players.  Michael Vick is beatable.

*Tony Romo broke two ribs, suffered a collapsed lung and became clutch.   After the 49ers knocked him out of the game in the first half and took the lead, Romo came back and led the Cowboys over the hapless 49ers 28-24.  Things change quick in the NFL and Romo went from goat to hero in 7 days.  I still think he’s a weak QB in the clutch and will fail with the game on the line.

*The Colts may finish 0-16.  With their talent base, you’d think they could muster a few wins but we will come to find out just how important Peyton Manning was to this roster.   Kerry Collins isn’t getting anything done and it’s only a matter of time before Curtis Painter gets a shot.  An unfortunate dip for a fanbase used to playoff activity.   Go from Peyton to Kerry in less than a year.

*The Saints are going to be tough.   They ran over the Bears after a slow start and Drew Brees threw for 300 more yards and 3 more touchdowns.   When the system is working, Brees and Sean Payton rip defenses apart with their 4 WR-2 Halfback schemes, spreading 4 bodies wide and arming up to shoot to kill.  They are an explosive pack of playmakers and that’s without Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.  We play them in Week 7.

*Tom Brady can’t be stopped.  He passed for 400+yard and threw for 3 touchdowns on Sunday in a win over Philip Rivers and the Chargers.  I am still waiting for a Saints-Patriots or Packers-Patriots Super Bowl just to see two high powered offensive attacks collide.  Without Peyton Manning and with the Steelers looking rough against their division opponents, this could be the season.

*The Rams have 2 touchdown drives in 23 drives this season.   However, their 2 loss start doesn’t rule them out for the season.   I just expected better overall play from this team.   Things don’t get any easier against Baltimore next week.  Is anyone other than me wondering if our first legit win opportunity comes against our own division in Week 8?  Ouch!  Reality is a son of a bitch in the NFL.

*The Seahawks look absolutely horrible.   2 games, 2 losses, ZERO offense.  Where’s the crazy magic of Pete Carroll this season? How long before he calls Charlie Whitehurst in to face the Rams at midseason?

*It’s hard to not feel happy for Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.  He had a small window of opportunity here, played halfway decent, got a 3rd string spot in Buffalo, and now is leading one of the highest scoring teams in the AFC into New England next week.  Fitzpatrick is a Harvard graduate with a cannon for an arm and a relentless spirit on the field.  He can make plays in the clutch and give his team a chance to win.  Good for him.

*Cam Newton has a lot to learn but he sure does make Panthers games more watchable.   His 1st overall pick happened because of his potential worth in revenue to the Carolina franchise, which was dying a slow death like the Rams fanbase was here before Sam Bradford took over.  QB’s make a difference.

*He is improving, but I still don’t like the ball in Mark Sanchez’s hands with the game on the line.  Shaky.

*Eli Manning owns as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton, but will never be close in caliber to the quarterback that his brother is.  Neck injury or completely healthy, Peyton is so much better.

*Yes, the Giants deserved to win the game on Monday night.  They capitalized on mistakes and scored four key touchdowns to seal their fate.   Messy wins still count in sports.

*Once again, the Detroit Lions are for real.  They can score points, sack the QB and stay in games until the end.

*The Chiefs season just got worse.  Jamal Charles is out for the season with a torn ACL.   Matt Cassell looks horrible and the Chiefs defense crumbles like aluminium foil.  A big fall for the Chiefs.  Their play is simply embarrassing.

That’s it for the NFL for now.

The Blues Open The Preseason

With training camp in full swing and the first game tomorrow night, here are a few things to start thinking about.

*Don’t count on seeing David Perron this season.  He isn’t practicing, is far from any hockey activity and is lost in concussion misery.   His prospects look more dim by the hour because there are players passing him up on roster depth who aren’t damaged.  Players like Jonathon Cheechoo and Evgeni Grahev.  If he doesn’t see the ice, I doubt Perron finishes the season on this roster.

*Who backs up Jaroslav Halak?  Brian Ellliot starts tomorrow and Ben Bishop starts the second game this week.   Bishop is a longtime ficture of promise but Elliot has experience.  Who takes the cake?  The team wants Bishop to win the role but has ran out of patience so Elliot is there to push him.

*Quietly, I am rooting for Cheechoo to get a spot.  Call it my soft spot for a sniper or the reality that the team needs a hungry player on this roster.  I want to see the player who once put 90 + goals in the net in a two season period.   He’ll have to earn it and beat out more consistent players, but here’s to hoping we hear the sound of a train every time he scores at Scottrade.

*Without Perron, our top 4 lines still look solid, especially with the additions of Langenbrunner and Arnott to go with the promotion of Matt D’Agostini to the 2nd line.   There is at least one serious scoring threat on each line and that’s vital towards success.

*Ryan Reaves added 20 pounds of muscle in preparation for taking over the enforcer role of this team.   Reaves brings the rare blend of mild skill set player with a true ability to fight in this league.  Reaves is taller and stronger than Cam Janssen and will command respect on the ice.  I look forward to his action.

*The combinations of Stewart-Berglund and Backes-McDonald are key playmaking duos on this team.

*What was wrong with this team last season?  Injuries, an inconsistent scoring touch during the first half of the season and a late season injury to Halak that broke this team’s back.   This team also allowed an insane amount of goals and surrendered the most 5 goal games in the NHL.   Late game collapses occured, and the House of Payne only came awake during the team’s final stretch of play.    8 teams make the playoffs in the Western Conference and this team is built to go this season.  With the advanced level of young guys like Berglund and Oshie, new big guy tandems Backes-Stewart, a defensive duo in Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo and skill players in Mcdonald and Steen, the table is set.   A failure to make the playoffs this season would be a huge disappointment for a franchise rebuilt to the core and a fan base requesting thrills.

*Also, cancel the annoyingly stupid “Don’t Stop Believing” FSN campaign.   Fuck Journey and fuck the shitty sports promos on the network.

Boxing Notions-Floyd Mayweather KO win over Victor Ortiz….legit or not???

As much I’d love to jump on the firing line of Floyd Mayweather Jr. hate, there is no doubt in my mind he won the fight against Victor Ortiz fair and square.   Floyd had him beat on three rounds and in the fourth, Ortiz intentionally headbutted Mayweather, apologized by kissing him on the cheek, and when the ref separated them and told the two boxers to fight, Ortiz dropped his hands and Floyd nailed him with two punches and knocked him out.   Ortiz played dirty, tried to make nice and got caught in no man’s land.  Hint for Victor.  The oldest lesson in boxing is keeping your hands up at all times.  Ortiz looked at Floyd in the middle of a live round with his hands down and got popped.  Same weak fight and the same result.  I liked Ortiz and his go for broke rough childhood but also remember my mortgage and make sure I know the younger fighter talked a big game on Floyd throughout the training camp, documented on HBO’s 24/7.   Now, Manny Pacquiao runs over an old Marquez and a chance for the boxing event of a lifetime with Floyd in the biggest fight in boxing history.   All it takes is Floyd to shed the chicken label and take a fight with the best fighter in the world in Pac-Man.   Floyd is undefeated but Manny owns titles in 8 different weight classes.  Both offer similiar speed styles but Manny only gets stronger as the night goes on.   Once again, there was no controversy on Saturday night in Las Vegas.   Floyd Mayweather caught Ortiz with his guard down and knocked him out.   End of story.  Next up.  Pacquiao and a washed up Marquez in November.

Random Sports Facts-

*Justin Verlander won his 24th game on Monday.   He leads the AL in wins, W-L record, strikeouts, shutouts and pure awesomeness.  At this point, it’s hard to imagine a more valuable player in the American League.  JV earned that shot thus far.

*The Diamondbacks are an intriguing bunch.  The developments and comebacks on the team are tremendous.  Kirk Gibson loading up a coaching staff of old baseball tough guys like Alan Trammell and Don Baylor.  His roster is full of familiar D-Backs and features special seasons for players I thought were dead and gone.    Former Seattle closer J.J. Putz has 42 saves, former journeyman starter Ian Kennedy is a 20 game winner with Cy Young candidacy and Justin Upton is the power bat they were hoping he would be.   Watch out for the D-Backs because they like to finish.

*Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has went from supreme hot to serious cold this month, blowing 2 out of 4 saves in September and upping his overall total to 7 blown saves   Kimbrel was unhittable before the Cards reached him for 2 runs on September 9th and the Marlins took him deep last night for a walkoff win.

*Mariano Riveria recorded his 602nd save, becoming the all time leader in baseball history at Yankees stadium.  After Trevor Hoffman reached 601 as a Brewers last season.  I am happy for Riveria because he has been the one very proud Yankee since 1996, when he closed his first game in pinstripes.  If there is anything close to automactic in baseball, it’s Riveria.   His ERA in the playoffs is a crisp 1.79 and he pitches 2 innings per appearance in the World Series.  The fact that he did it with one great pitch makes his accomplishment even more remarkable.   As Joe Girardi pointed out, there isnt a chance the saves record gets broken in our lifetime.

The Movie Corner

A couple movies to look forward to this weekend come as followed.

The Killer Elite-What appears as another Jason Statham action film carries depth, go for broke directing and intriguing matchups.  Robert DeNiro plays an old mentor of Statham’s Special forces retired solder who is held captive and Clive Owen plays the bad guy standing in Statham’s way.   A film based on a true story entitled “Feather Man” looks downright intriguing but is taken to another level with the cast.  At the very least, the audience is entertained.   This is an action story with a little spice to it in the form of a coherent interesting backstory.   A film I have been waiting for since its announcement early this year.  A film for Statham fans and action buffs who crave a story and twists to the action.

Moneyball-The tale of Billy Beane’s electriyfing spin on the game of baseball and how one man changed the way teams were built.   Faced with a payroll ranking among the lowest in baseball, Beane(Brad Pitt) and his assistant(Jonah Hill) throw out the book and go to computers to find their production.   The move angers many in baseball and forced Beane to put a target on his back until the Oakland A’s started winning games and made a run at the playoffs in 2001.   Brad Pitt is a live wire genius when he is at his best and his persona and look fit the role of a baseball GM attempting to change the art of building a team in baseball.  Pitt took the role because he loved the idea of a guy questioning “perceived notions”.   That’s the secret juice of Pitt, who challenges himself to different roles and does fairly well while retaining his movie star looks.  The underdog spirit of the film is a real reason to see this movie.   A silent contender for best movie of the year.  Billy Beane stood up to the baseball gods and flipped the game on it’s side, and it was changed forever.  Talk about leaving an imprint on the game.

MUSIC Selection of the Week-Johnny Cash-“Hung My Head”

Cash was a powerfully underrated songwriter who completed a string of powerful works in his final years.   Using a worn down life living voice with tortured stories, Cash recorded some beauitful music during his last days, including “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, “Hurt” and this song.   Wait for the heavy finish with Cash’ mad baritone voice swelling up the background.   Cash’s voice was as recognizable and gaunt as any older artist.  He injects life into these songs.

As I watch an indie film called Stolen with the great Jon Hamm in the title role of a cop investigating the disappearance of his son by diving into a similiar case, it’s time to wrap this thing up.

The end of this rant has slowed down a bit and ran into a few walls, but it’s not that you haven’t gotten a decent pull of info from the launch here and gotten a new perspective along with it.   While this isn’t my best or worst batch of work, the words fill the void of an empty set of hours and gave me something to do between diaper changes of Vinny who is passed out on the floor below me.  All we have in this life is what we are going after at the moment, so do what you have to in order to survive.

One more thing…appreciate the little things.

Goodnight and good luck,






Tools of the Trade

Lets run through a quick train of thought as I enjoy Iron Man 2 on the TV and have my stress levels squeezed to death here at St. Johns Mercy.    Writing is a theraputic experience, so allow me to pour out some fresh thoughts here.  A quick dose of Buffa medicine for the masses. 

*Quick Vinny update.   The little Buffa monster is holding his cards and waiting to exit from the hatch.   Something tells me the kid is going to come out in the middle of the night or early morning.   We are going on 12 hours of labor, and the wife is going through contractions that compare to a man having his balls squeezed.   There is nothing I can do, but do everything else and wait for the little guy to make an exit.   Prepare yourselves because within the next 12 hours I will be a father.  That’s a scary thought but here we go. 

*The Cards rebound from an absolutely horrible loss on Monday to win 6-4 tonight.  La Russa charades(pitching change merry go round) broke the Cards back on Monday as they blew 2 leads and lost on an 8th inning double, 6-5.   Chris Carpenter, newly rich and secured through 2013, took the mound Tuesday and gave up 4 runs through 7 innings on 112 pitches.   A subpar outing for an Ace who got a new lease on his career and fell flat tonight.   He blew leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in surrendering the game before Nick Punto and Albert Pujols handed the lead back to the team.  Jason Motte worked a high stakes ninth, setting the field on fire with 2 hits but inducing a double play to end the game.  This Cards team brings the drama and every win will pull the hairs from our head and the strings from our hearts.   The Cards wasted a chance to gain a game on Monday and The Braves won last night to maintain their 4.5 game lead.  Wasted opportunities is the name of the game this season as this team pulls up limp and pathetic every time a must win game arrives.   After disposing of the Brewers and Braves, they have battled Pittsburgh for 2 games.  While I’d like them to just fall down and die, seeing them reach 12 games over .500 and stay in the race gives me small hope.  

*A big drawback this season is starters blowing leads.   I can’t bring myself to blame the hitting because our bats are doing the job nearly every night.   The starters have blown 3 leads in two nights and the bullpen has coughed up a loss as well.  The starters aren’t pitching deep into games with TLR’s quick hook and the bullpen is being forced to pitch too many innings.  All this wears the bullpen’s arms down and makes September a rough month.  We will remember 2011 as the season where the rotation ran out of gas and caused the pen to crash.  

*Now that Carp is taken care of, Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal are next on the list to get deals before Mr. Pujols walks into the room with his future in the balance.   With Carp making 4.5 million less in 2012, the Cards can give Berk a raise and offer Furcal a one year deal at 6-8 million.   Before diving into the Pujols dungeon, John Mozelaik must get the rest of the roster sorted out.   Yadi Molina has a 7 million option to be picked up, which would give him a small raise.   David Freese and Jay return for cheap.   Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumacher will battle for the second base role and bench depth.   Allen Craig and Tony Cruz come to the bench.   The bullpen is set with the return of Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Kyle McClellan, Marc Rzepcynski and Jason Motte returning.   The Cards don’t have as many holes as people think. 

*Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood.   An entertaining talent which can switch from superhero mode to dramatic roles and into comedy while retaining a likeable quality.   Bouncing from Tony Stark to Peter Highman in Due Date to Sherlock Holmes is impressive work.  He makes superhero roles interesting. 

*Hospitals are a place that make you feel safe yet uneasy.   Life, death and hope all dance off these walls and it makes for a slightly complex mode. 

*What’s my friend right now?  Coffee.   I’m working on a fresh pot of Italian Roast and it’s following a 3 shot cafe latte and cafeteria crap blend serving.   This is a time where one can’t be too amped up but needs to be wired and awake.    I’ve been eating healthy, getting coffee and water into my system, and staying alert.   Having a kid has turned me into an anal health nut on speed.  

*Manny Rameriz gets arrested for domestic battery and is released without the freedom to see his wife.   Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me. 

*Justin Verlander wins his 23rd game tonight and still has 3 more starts to go to notch 25 wins for a season.  Verlander is making a strong case for MVP as well as Cy Young because of the impact his presence on a mound does for the team.   Dynamite season.

*Mariano Riveria records his 600th save of his career.  Let’s put it into perspective.   300 saves for closers is considered a solid bench mark.   Riveria and Trevor Hoffman now have 600 saves.   Amazing statistic.  He is in a class all by himself because of his effectiveness in the playoffs(1.63 ERA) and working all this time one pitch.  One of a kind.  

Random notes from a conversation with the Mang from Chicago. 

*Mozelaik has two separate payrollsfor 2012. A Pujols set and a Pujols-less set. We will see what happens but Ican’t get myself to believe Albert is going to leave. It’s as sure as the NFL
lockout ending. The Cards and Pujols aren’t stupid enough to not work something
out. The winter talks didn’t go well because the Cards waited so long and Pujols’ agent wanted a huge deal. Now, things start up again and Mo’s strategy of taking care of the other bodies before the AP trials is good for each party.  No distractions.


The Rams have failed in the draft several times. Remember Tye Hill getting selected over Jay Cutler. Trust fund bitch or not, Cutler is thriving in Chicago with Mike Martz and we passed him up for a lousy cornerback. Look at it this way. Take out Torry Holt and Sam Bradford, and
every first round draft pick the past 12 years is shit. Smith, Long, Quinn and others may turn out to be solid players but the immediate impact isnt there. Spags is too tentative to unleash the beasts. Kennedy was a shit player who couldn’t learn how to put his hands up and block. Barron was a false start queen. Carriker was released because he couldn’t get pass an linemen. I blame
the head coaching and staff for holding back Quinn. Quinn looked strong in the preseason on first team series and gets held back. Bad move. The Rams are a better team but still fall flat in developmental stages and the draft. Bring in Mr. Wolf(the fixer) to take care of the draft pick. Underrated draft pick from the Spags regime is James Lauranitis. Love that kid.

*The Steelers defeat was shocking for the fact that the
sacking, interceptions and all out defense usually go both ways in their games.
This time, the Ravens beat the Steelers in every facet of the game. Running,
defense and most surprisingly, quarterback play. Big Ben is as clutch as they
come in the 4th quarter and he sealed the fate with 3 picks. Flacco played way
above his talent level and defeated a great defense. Shocking for the fact that
the Ravens defense completely shut down the Steelers attack and caused the
Pittsburgh defense to crumble. A huge division lift for Balty.

  • No one needs to drink the Cum on Cam juice yet. He played
    well in one game against a very bad defense, but he proved to his harshest
    critics that he can play in this league. He will experience bad games but he
    made some good passes and competed. When he is on, he will be a problem for a
    subpar to bad defense. It’s good to have a game changing receiver like Steve
    Smith, something Mr. Bradford lacks.
  • The NFC West is up for grabs but the Rams will get the short end of the stick playing the hardest schedule early on while experiencing a ton of starter injuries. The Cards won and have a leg up but it comes down to divisional play.
  • Entourage survived as an entertaining blast and I liked it for the camraderie between the guys. When Ari was in the group and they were running wild around Hollywood, the show was at its best. Piven was the heart and soul of the show. His greatness will live on while the other performances will only be seen as mandatory. Ellin gets credit for making us care about a
    dumbshit like Vince and his pack of suckers. He created that and fed Piven great scenes. The funny thing is Wahlberg and Ellin never thought they would get 2 seasons much less 8 full campaigns. Gold was supposed to be a small role and Piven’s audition and performance elevated it into a two time Emmy winning act. He had the toughest job because he had to play the most harshest part and do nasty things but still retained our hope for a happy ending. The final scene cements the show as his own. Watch and you will see.
  • How am I doing? Imagine a gorilla caged inside a room
    with a crazily emotional and uncomfortable woman and you have it. A day that
    seriously got kicked into high gear at 11am when my co-workers alerted me that
    a pregnant woman was going into labor. I talked about it all morning and Vinny
    heard me and started crawling out.

That’s my que to get out.   TIme to enjoy more coffee, maybe get some rest, watch more DVD’s and handle the husband duties of the night that include ice chips, bathroom trips, hand squeezing and some random walks around the hospital ward.   Becoming a dad entails many things and one of them is patience.  I’m learning as we go as I proceed through training here.   One trip to the baby nursery has me both excited and terrified to be in charge of a human being in less than 12 hours. 

So long and goodnight,



The Read

Hello ladies and gents,

Follow me on a small expedition into the back of my head as we begin another work week.  Counting the hours and days until my baby arrives is becoming a stressful experience, which only means I head back to the keyboard and fire off a few rounds of prose for the masses.   Monday stream of conciousness begins now..

What’s impressive about the Cardinals 5 game winning streak?   The all around productivity of this team.   The ability to put it all together helped propel this team back into the wild card race and also keep an eye on Milwaukee.  The starting pitching performed well all week, starting with Carpenter’s gem and ending with Jake Westbrook’s 5.1 innings on Sunday.   The lineup didn’t hit one home run against Atlanta while manufacturing runs with 2 out hits, sacrifice flies and moving runners around via the bunt and key grounders.  The Cards got back to scrappy baseball, producing their first come from behind win on Friday and not relying on the home run for the first time since late June.  Everything fell apart in late June.   Albert got hurt, McClellan and Lohse fell apart and Rasmus started his swoon.  This past week produced the first 5 game winning streak of the season and showed the first signs of unified play in months.   Jason Motte is solidifying the bullpen with his 5 saves in 5 chances the past 2 weeks.   Motte played a part in each Braves beating.  He plowed through the heart of the order on Friday in the top of the 10th to preserve the tie game, locked down a one run win on Saturday and struck out the side on Sunday.  Motte is pitching on an unbelievable stretch of productivity that hasn’t been seen in the Cardinals bullpen in 10 years.  He has allowed only a single run in over 30 innings since late June.   He is making the Cards decision very easy for next season.  With Salas back to setting up in the 8th inning and the return of Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez next season, the bullpen is going to be a strength.  The most impressive thing about Motte’s performance is the timing.   Pitching at the end of the season against competing teams and becoming a strength in September(something Ryan Franklin could never do).  Albert Pujols’ second half performance is also impressive because the hardest stretch to improve your batting average is the last two months of the season.  All around the roster, from Daniel Descalso’s key hits and Rafael Furcal’s defense to Jon Jay’s reemergence, the Cards are finally bringing everything together.

What’s next for the Cards?  Three games in Pittsburgh.  Win all three.   The Cards must continue their stretch of play in order to stay in the hunt, create a payoff for fans and maintain the momentum.  A loss tonight with Kyle Lohse on the mound would cripple this team.  The Pirates are reeling but represent a dangerous speed bump before the birds take on Philly this weekend for four crucial brutal games.   At this time of the year, we can’t afford to lose. With 16 games left, the Cardinals have to go 13-3 and hope for some Braves failure along the way.  We are in must win/watch the scoreboard territory.

The Cardinals lock up Chris Carpenter for 2012-2013.   Doing exactly what I said to do(second wish granted in 3 days), The Cards scrapped the 15 million dollar option and gave him a 2 year extension worth 21 million.  A solid move for both sides, with Carpenter rebounding to put together decent numbers this season(everything except the record is respectable).   Carpenter is vital to this team’s chances, with the unstable back end of Lohse and Westbrook and the shaky future of Wainwright and Jaime Garcia.   Locking him up was a good move.  The rotation for 2012 is in place, which is good and bad.  Good to have one area to not worry about but bad because of Edwin Jackson’s performance in his time here.  Jackson is a talented young pitcher who will want a multiple year deal and due to the fact of giving Westbrook 2 years and Lohse a ridiculous contract 3 years ago there is no room for Jackson in the rotation or in the payroll.

GM John Mozelaik is working smart by starting early.  Wasting time is for weaker general managers. Locking up Wainwright for two more years at a bargained price, giving Carp the extension, and getting in contact with Furcal and Lance Berkman’s reps.   The Albert Pujols talks will take awhile, so it’s smart to get the important small pieces out of the way.   The Cardinals can’t afford to wait on extending key parts of their rotation and defense.  I expect Carp, Furcal and Berkman to be taken care of by the end of the season.   That way, after the World Series ends, the Cards front office can deal with Mr. Pujols only.

The Rams suffer an ugly season opening loss to Philadelphia.  Going into the game, many around me thought the Eagles were unstable and capable of defeat, and I kept correcting them, calling this game a potential upset pick but harder than most expected.  Too much blue kool aide was passed around the table.   The Rams were beat 31-13, and fell asleep after a promising 1st quarter.   Chris Long sacked Michael Vick on the opening series and Steven Jackson ran for a 47 yard touchdown to put us up 7-0 quick, but everything went down hill from there.   Jackson left the game with a quad injury, Vick ran wild for over 100 yards and the Rams defense crumbled in the 4th quarter.

A few notes from the game-

  • Sam Bradford didn’t throw any interceptions, but made a few mistakes and didn’t make much else happen on the field.   He was constantly under pressure and didn’t have many open throwing lanes with the Eagles strong secondary swallowing up the field.  In a nutshell, he was shut down by the Eagles defense, especially after Steven Jackson left.   The Rams didn’t start Michael Sims-Walker or Danario Alexander, so there was no deep threat for Bradford and Josh McDaniels to play with.   Bradford left the game in the 4th quarter when he slammed his hand on a helmet.  X-Rays were negative but there may be nerve damage.  Losing Bradford and Jackson in a single game humbled the Rams fanbase rather quickly.
  • Cadillac Williams ran well in Jackson’s absence.   He accumulated 91 yards on 19 carries, creating a consistent stream of running power but getting zero help from the passing game.  Jackson and Williams backed up the defenders, but Bradford couldn’t find receivers.
  • A key turnover by Bradford flipped this game completely around.  Taking a snap and missing a hand off to Williams, Bradford collided with guard Jason Brown, lost the ball, got tied up and watched the Eagles take it back for a 56 yard touchdown.   This broke the Rams back and we never recovered.
  • Ladies and gents, there are no big game receivers on this team.  Once you cut Donnie Avery, the Rams had to start Walker or Alexander and they did not.   Who is the deep threat on this team?  Brandon Gibson?  Give me a break and step back and realize something.   Can the B Cast of receivers succeed this season under enhanced expectations?  While we figure that out, Rams GM Billy Devaney needs to call Randy Moss’ agent.  Why not?  Moss is a cancerous self centered bastard but….he can catch the deep pass and win a jump ball struggle in the end zone.  The Rams failed in the red zone yesterday and only came away with a couple field goals.   Josh McDaniels can design a master plan of attack but you must have the talent to make it happen.   McDaniels worked with Moss in New England, where Randy resurrected his career.  Now it’s time to call his agent, offer him a 1 year deal and get him into camp.
  • The Rams generated a pass rush but 80 percent of the time they only brought heat from one side of the line of scrimmage, which created an open lane for Vick to run through.   That’s the problem with dealing with a player like Vick.  He can now run and throw, and is equally deadly.  He can step up and fling it 50 yards off his back foot or take off for 15 yards.   Unless you bring consistent pressure from both sides, he will burn you.
  • To quote the great Bill Simmons, “The NFL Season has officially begun.  Steven Jackson pulled something.”  Jackson can’t stay healthy in the latter part of his career and its going to hurt him.  The exact reason the team went out and got real depth at the position.
  • A reality check for the team.   The Rams are going to endure a tough 7 game stretch where the Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Packers and Saints bring the heat every week.   Next week, we march into New York to take on Eli Manning and the Giants.  The Giants are suffering from defensive injuries and Eli is a mixed bag, but the game will be tough.   A wicked change of perception took this team up to a level that they couldn’t handle.   Going from 6-42 in 3 seasons to 7-9 last year flipped the switch on the expectations.   The Rams ran into a blunt brick wall of truth yesterday.  We will see if they get up.

Moving on with more NFL recaps and further ramblings.

The Cowboys and Tony Romo coughed up another game on National television.  Playing in New York against the Jets on the biggest stage, the Cowboys wasted a 24-10 lead and went down on a last minute field goal.   Romo’s 2 late turnovers poisoned Dallas’ chances and they never recovered, giving Mark Sanchez the chance to become a 9/11 hero and grab an emotional win for the Jets.  An interception and fumble returned Romo to Chokeville.  Quarterbacks, when faced with strict adversity, either make plays in the clutch or they screw up.   Tony Romo will never be a Super Bowl winning QB because he flunks in big moments.  A shaky arm with zero confidence who has a little too much fun on the field and needs to focus and become the leader of this team.  If I am Jerry Jones, I am ordering a few more bottles of scotch.

Post Peyton period started off disastrous for The Colts.   When Kerry Collins came in, one logical football mind could summon up the idea that they would be able to move the ball and score some points.  However, the impact of Manning is being felt already in week 1.  Houston tromped the Colts 35-7.   A sign of things to come.  Side fact on the loss.  I carry 3 Colts receivers on my fantasy team, so I lost as well.  The best case scenario for Colts is to sit Manning for the season, finish 1-15 and select Andrew Luck with the first pick to be groomed as Peyton’s backup.

The Steelers get their ass handed to them at Heinz Field by Joe Flacco and the Ravens.   In a game that is usually won by field goals, blood, sweat and brutal hits, Ben Roethlisberger threw 3 interceptions and the Ravens defeated them 35-7.   A huge season opening blow for Pittsburgh, who suffers a loss to a division opponent and worse, they do it at home.  What happened to the Steelers?

While he was facing a weak Arizona secondary, I was impressed by Cam Newton’s 442 yard, 3 touchdown performance on Sunday.   Anyone still think he can’t throw?  Newton has a good head on his shoulders, is being groomed as the king of Carolina and has time to grow into it

The Packers and Saints will be tough to face.   Thursday’s game must give the Rams nightmares about their meetings with them.   Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers combined for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns in a knockdown drag out slugfest that Green Bay won 42-34.   The defenses were roughed up, but I am quick to point out that both team’s carry explosive offenses.   If the Saints score 34 points on a high ranked Packers defense, what happens in November against the Rams on turf?  Painful.

Ironically, the Packers and Saints games don’t scare me as much as the division games with Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco do.  The Rams don’t care of business against the weak division teams and Arizona will steal this division.

What’s waiting for a baby like?  Imagine waiting on a package from overseas and having zero clue of the landing date.   You sit, wait, wonder, prepare and wait more.  It’s a quietly agonizing experience.   Someone needs to tell Vincent Buffa to break the seal and start the process.   The nursery is beginning to call my name and there’s no baby yet.

Random Selections-

HBO’s Entourage enjoyed a satisfying if tease inducing wrapup to it’s 8 year run.   A fitting farewell to Vince Chase and the gang from Queens precedes a movie version coming in 2 years.  The arc of the storyline from the final season’s subpar bag was brought to an end, but a movie is required to fully satisfy fans.   For now, fans have to be satisfied.  Eric and Vince saw predictable ends but Creator Doug Ellin spun an interesting puzzle for Ari Gold.   The climax of Gold’s story wrap is fine but the short tid bit after the credits sets up the fireblazing agent up for the decision of a lifetime that all the fans can define their own meaning for. Thoughts?? While the final season was weak, the final 2 episodes were entertaining and good enough but leaves us wanting more.  Entourage episodes are classically short and don’t give enough once a week, so a full length 90-120 version would work well.  Entourage is a breezy comedy about the healing power of friendship amidst the star crossed poison of celebrity.   Ellin kept the heart of the story in the Gold Family, which is smart because Jeremy Piven’s shark agent has always been the jewel of the show.  Leaving his story line unfinished is good housekeeping by Ellin and company and leaves the door open.  The series has always been about a movie star and his friends wild journeys, but the acting of Piven has kept Entourage watchable for 8 years. While the guys were nice wannabe millionaires, Ari was the devilish gold digger who spit out every kind of profane racist vulgar batch of destruction that he made us remember what Hollywood is all about and built on.  Money and greed.  Here was the amazing part of Piven’s performance.  Whether he was insulting his wife or cracking a gay joke at his assistant Lloyd, we rooted for him.  When he got fired from his job, we felt as down as he did.   When he was offered the studio head job, we prayed he would remain Vince’s agent.  For everything evil and blunt that came from his mouth, we registered with his sick monster agent.  The same magic goes for Vince and his entourage.  When the show wasn’t funny, we registered with the almighty pack of friendship between these guys.  If you have a group of friends you’d stand in front of a firing line for, Entourage registered with you.  While it was never great or will go down as one of the best shows on television, Entourage reins tall as the greatest guilty pleasure on television.   Watching Vincent Chase and his hounds run around Hollywood trying to make a name for themselves with Ari putting out fires carrying an assault rifle mouth and two cells, you followed them and hoped they’d find success.   The greatest examples of Entourage’s sweet spot came in these two moments.

-Johnny Drama getting the TV role for the mobster show, Five Towns.   Bent out of shape on whether he’d gotten the role with his audition, Drama got into his Cadillac and drove out to the Grand Canyon.  He wakes up in the Cady, answers his cell, finds out he got the role and falls to his knees screaming victory as Cream plays in the background.  One of the most satisfying moments.

-My favorite episode, the Blackout.  Right after Aquaman opens and the boys go see the movie and Gold is scrambling around for box office estimates, a blackout runs through LA.  The boys head to a party and Ari goes home defeated, watching Vince’s future hang in the wings.   News comes in that Aquaman sets the record and Ari crashes the party.   One of the best written episodes of all time.

When Entourage was good, the writing was crisp, Gold was steamed, and the boys met success.   Here’s to another trip with the boys in two years.

On the other hand, True Blood finished it’s fourth season in entertaining unmemorable fashion.  A show that is good if not great because it runs too many storylines at once.  The 4th season finale was a bloody drunk uneven mess, but it brought the action and drama just enough to entertain.   True Blood is like a steak without seasoning.  It’s only good for a few chews until you notice there isn’t much here  A soap opera about vamps, wolves and witches all clawing for a human’s blood is only minimially satisfying.  The 5th season is coming and hopefully Alan Ball keeps the storylines anchored and doesn’t allow the ship to get too heavy.  The acting is good if not a sea of “types” and the ideal mixture of graphic violence and sex makes it watchable.  How deep does TB go?

While I didn’t watch Starz’s series, Spartacus during its first season(finding it comical and flat with the CG blood overdose), I do want to give a warm batch of condolences to Andy Whitfield’s family.   The young Australian actor played Spartacus in the first season and came down with lymphoma before the second season launch.  After an 18 month struggle, the 39 year old actor passed away over the weekend.   Like his acting or not, 39 years is too little to live a life.  Unfortunate loss for Hollywood’s young class.  One of the bright spots of Spartacus was Whitfield, who brought a gritty innocence to the role as its roughest origin.

5 little things that keep me Sane

1.)A clean house.  Nothing says sit down and relax like a clean floor and counters.  I am the kind of anal retentive soul that sees the dust under the entertainment center and instantly grimaces.

2.)A cold beer.  Just 1 at times can do the trick of shifting yourself into a good mood.

3.)Coffee.  Where would any of us be without the java mood boosting jolt in the morning and night?  Buffa’s Coffee Pick of the Week-Starbucks Cafe Sumatra, a middle eastern extra bold blend that is a perfect blood kicker in the cranky hours of the A.M..

4.)Workouts.  If I didn’t run or work with weights, I would be a tension filled anxiety popping maniac.   Thank you 24 hour fitness.  Also a side kiss to the open road, where I spend 30 minutes a day roaming around Kirkwood or South St. Louis.

5.)A good salad.  That’s right.  A little ruffage goes a long way for this hardened italian.    Minimal for sure, but there’s something about a well put together caesar salad with steak or chicken that calms the nerves and creates a standing ovation in the colon.  We all like the standard burger, steak or pasta dish, but a salad hits the spot.  Latest salad crush of the moment-Bread Company’s Steak and Blue Cheese Chopped salad with carmelized onions and sweet vinagerette dressing.

Song of the Day-

Led Zeppelin-“Going to California”

The song used to send Entourage off into the sunset on last night’s finale is a sweet riff on a blues love ballad.  Robert Plant’s creepy yet sweet vocals dance around a garden with Jimmy Page’s sensitively cool guitar riffing.  Scott Venar, Entourage’s Music Supervisor, called this one of his favorite songs and a perfect choice to end the television series.   Give it a listen.  A change of pace for the usually fast moving rocking of LZ.

More Bits-

  • Classy showing by the NFL and MLB in honoring 9/11/11 victims across the country.   Whether it was a field covering american flag or a small video, the job got done and nearly every ceremony avoided a melodramatic pause or wound opening monologue.  A selfless day by sports franchises.
  • Rams Injury Report Update-Steven Jackson is doubtful for next Monday’s game against the New York Giants.  He has a quad strain, which is unfortunate after a preseason that saw him in the best shape of his career.  Sam Bradford has a bruised finger, but will play Monday.   Prime time football is no place to come up limp for your team.   Danny Amendola is questionable and there is no info on his injury.   I seriously don’t know why teams can’t just come right out and say, “this is hurting him”.   For the people who pay these guys their money, we deserve a decent injury report.   Cornerback Ron Bartell has two broken bones in his neck and is out.  According to Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams set a record for the longest injury report for a single game.  A rough way to start a season.   In general, this team took a few bullets to the chest to go with a painful defeat.
  • It’s time to put the happy pills down, Rams fans and understand this team doesn’t see one clear victory in this seven game stretch.   Washington took care of the Giants on Sunday, so that sure win is out the window.   The Giants are a threat in New York on Monday night.  The Rams failed in their last nationally televised game when they lost the tiebreaker to Seattle.   While the Rams are talented and capable of winning, the combined dread of a tough schedule and early injury toll will make the next two months tough.  If we go 2-5 or 3-3, that’s a good start.
  • It’s crazy to get too mad at the Rams for Sunday’s performance.  With the injuries and working machine of the Eagles, the result wasn’t going to be pretty.  The Rams hung with Philly for 3 quarters and got knocked out, a similiar procedure from 2010.   It’s their challenge to change that the next few weeks.  This team simply has to compete and make smarter crisper decisions.  However, please call Moss.
  • With the fall comes hardcore television drama.   HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Showtime’s Dexter return this month.   Good times ahead.  Empire is known for its cold blooded depiction of the men who benefited from Prohibition and the women who backed them up.   Dexter is a serial killer’s pledge for normalcy and justice in a steady dose.  I’m ready.
  • Do the Cards make it or not?  Honestly, I can’t tell you but if I was betting I’d put my cash on failure right now.  When in doubt, go with the odds and history.  Gambler’s fiercest allies.
  • What time is it?  Shower time.  Dinner.  A beer.  Relaxation.   That’s right.  I’m bringing this rant to an end.  My third rant in three days.  Yes, I’m feeling good.  No,  I am not on fire.  What can I say?  With the baby on the way, I’m getting as many blogs done and as many workouts in as I can before Vincent takes over the house.  That’s right.  A 7 pound baby will capture every ounce of attention and every waking moment of my life.   My sleep schedule, my free time, my movements, eating time, and the precious bounty of casual dead zone daydreaming.   This isn’t my swan song, but I’m letting the hands go until I get taken away for a while.

Thanks for reading folks and come back for more.  Remember one thing, I know I’m in my own little world at times, but they know me here.  Do what you do well and stick to it.

Goodnight and good luck,


The Epic Read

Lets run into this stream of conciousness as we run into 9/11/11 here on the clock.  First, a rant about clocks.

That’s right my friends.  A fucking clock. Clocks are everywhere.  Imagine if you ditched every fucking clock in your house?  What’s life like working a full time job?  Relying on clocks and alarms to kickstart our day.  Nothing says “wake the fuck up” like an annoying bullshit talking alarm that never stops unless you throw it into the wall.   Alarms rule our lives and their headmasters are clocks, so guess what everybody, we are ruled not only by banks but also by clocks.  They inform us how much time we have to get from one place to another and how long we can stay or have to be there.   We eat dinner and check the clock for our shows or a game.  We are at work and we train our eyes on the time clock so we know when it’s time to put tires to the ground, keys in the ignition and remove ourselves from the parking lot.   The worst feeling is, leaving work and looking at the clock, knowing in less than 12 hours, work will be approaching again.   Fuck clocks and their motives.  Their ambition is to make us feel trapped, like we don’t have anytime in the world.   Driving through at Starbucks, I get my coffee, give the lady un-exact change and ask her the time because I don’t want to look at my watch because I memorized how my watch compares to my phone clock and to other clocks.  I need a new reference, so fix my damn espresso and give me a new read.   That’s when time really fucks you.  Playing the “which one is for real” game.   Working your nerves and pulling your strings while never revealing which clocks are right.  Are they right in the military because the bastards shout it all the time?  Are they right in banks because they store all the money, which dictates our lives in the first place?  Our clocks at home are like minor league clocks, holding little stock to the real time outside of our house.  Fucking clocks working against us and keeping us in the dark.   We literally never have a real idea on what time it is.   215pm at home might mean 219pm at work and that means my alarm needs to be adjusted so I can still get my 5 snooze taps per morning.   That’s right, Mr. Cellphone Clock, you ring your bell at 5am and I pushing your ass 5 yards immediately.   Tapping the snoozes is like registering penalty flags to yourself for feeling unmotivated.   Three taps one morning and we are starting our day near the end zone, in safety territory, but not the cool safety.  The 2 points on the scoreboard against us safety crap.   It’s not cool.  Time isn’t cool and not on our side.  Fuck you Mick Jagger!  Unemployed, aluminum foil faced fucking 90 pound soaking wet pussy machine lip swirling fuck!   Stop making great rock songs and I will give you a fresh timecard to punch in at my warehouse.   That’s right, gimme shelter and I’ll give you a 30,000 pound Lowes order shipping out at high noon motherfucker.   Time kicks our ass daily and it all starts with clocks.  They are everywhere.   On our arms, in our pocket, across from the TV, in our car and in our grandma’s house.   What does it mean to be self employed or be a millionaire?  Having zero fucking need for a clock.   Mark Cuban gets up every day, sticks another needle in his referee voodoo doll, and doesn’t need to look at a clock.   Bill Gates crawls out of bed(or is lifted by small tiny midget angel men) and stares at his bedroom wall sized computer monitor feeling no need to see 1 number separated by this (:) before a set of other numbers.   It fucking rules our lives and I hate it!  When I leave town and go see the in-laws in Kansas City, I rarely have to look at a fucking clock.  Light and dark make my time capsule observation in the country.   Camping is another spot where cell phones are deemed useless and clocks are only an excuse to look at if you are having a shitty time getting eaten alive by mosquitos, constantly making fire and eating beans while talking about things that never enter a conversation in your own zip code.   When I come back home and get into robot gear, the games start again and the clock owns my life.   Clocks own our lives.   Please don’t deny it because I will ask you to fill out an application telling me what you do for a living.   Here’s a picture of our lives.   Our heads tilting down, up or to the side to look at a clock.   “Momma, can I have a few more minutes?”  “You cannot, get back in line.”  Think otherwise and you are fucking moron.   Men can be the owners of the universe and still hand their dick to a clock.  Same goes for the estrogen powered female race.   Rocking the tight gray suit-skirt-minimal makeup-espresso-blackberry look won’t hide you from checking the clock to see how much time you have to pound that subway sandwich baby, but I do like the way you hold it.   Ladies and gents, time owns our lives and every clock is a official reminder of our ticking timebomb of a life on this cold rock we call earth.

That was a real rant my friends.   Being an official “ranter”, I must occasionally unleash a healthy pinched off loaf of fine prose that is laid down like a steel toed boot to the skull.   I can do it all.  Cover topics, rant, complain and praise.  Lets get things rolling with a movie I will call one of the best films of the year.   A movie called Warrior.   Follow along and you will pick up the idea.

Warrior Review(Spoilers included for the people who want to know NOTHING about the film)

A tale of two brothers, Tommy(Tom Hardy) and Brandon(Joel Edgerton) Conlon.  They come from a broken home, where their dad, Paddy(Nick Nolte, in crash and burn mode) drank himself under the table and took out his frustrations by beating up on their mother.   When the mother couldn’t take it anymore, Tommy went with her to California while Brandon stayed with dad and the family was shattered.   Flash forward around 20 years and Tommy has returned home from Iraq(his duties, actions, and reasons unsure until later) to find Paddy sober and Brandon working as a school teacher with a wife and 2 kids.  Tommy does want to train to fight in MMA because a tournament, Sparta Tourney, is gathering 16 fighters from around the land and pays 5 million to the winner.   Brandon needs a lift because happiness doesn’t come with a healthy paycheck.   His daughter has a heart defect and his house is 3 months from foreclosure.  These are two hardened men who have to fight in order to fulfill the most important things in their lives.  For Tommy, it’s helping a fellow soldier friend.   For Brandon, it’s paying the bills.  Brandon’s wife(Jennifer Morrison) doesn’t like seeing a bruised husband come home with a roll of cash, but that’s the brutal swing of fate for a blue collar family.   Warrior tells a realistic modern time crushing tale about survival of the fittest and the strong.   Soon, the two men find themselves on a collision course, yet they have zero idea each other are involved.  Paddy trains Tommy and Brandon goes back to his old gym rat Frank(Frank Grillo) to find his way around a ring.   The rest isn’t written by Shakespeare, but here are 7 reasons I truly loved this film and it hung with me all day long.

1.)The acting is top notch.  Hardy gained 30 pounds of muscle, adopted a East coast accent and fully develops into the silent killing machine that is Tommy Conlon.   Edgerton carries the beaten up boxer smashed pitbull complection to put Brandon on the table as a guy doing everything for his family.    Nolte is in top form as the retired drunk trying to piece together 30 years of mistakes.   Morrison, Grillo, Kevin Dunn and Kurt Angle in a small role all add their own little spice to the pot.    This is Hardy and Edgerton’s film to carry and they do a great job of showing us blue collar tough personified in the ring.  Hardy is all boiling intensity and Edgerton is cool and assured.  Conflicting roles that pit two souls together as brothers from different sides of the spectrum.

2.)The story is aces because near the end of the film when the two eventually meet in the ring(this was given in the trailer, so lay off me for giving it away), you don’t know who to root for.   You respect each character for their reasons and when you find out more about Tommy’s motives, you only cheer for his quiet persistence.    Tommy tells Paddy early on, “I liked you better as a drunk.  You missed all the fun of watching her die.”   Tommy’s grudge against Paddy is breaking their family apart.  His grudge against Brandon is staying with his dad.  Brandon didn’t get to see his mom so there is an anger between him and Tommy, who didn’t communicate with the two once he left.   Director Gavin O’Connor is so good at implementing emotional punch into his films, and it starts with a real story rooted in family bonds and values.   In Pride and Glory, it was a family of cops who faced corruption and turmoil.  In Warrior, a family of fighters are trying to treat open wounds that aren’t healing.   O’Connor makes testosterone tales that are spiced up with true emotion.   He co-wrote the script and injects a toughness into every scene.

3.)The MMA fight scenes are authentic and real to the bone without being overly violent.   We feel every punch, kick, and choke hold from our seats but the action is quick and swift and doesn’t drown out a queasy viewer.   The filmmakers save the hardest punches in the slower dramatic scenes to fully lay us out on the floor.  This is a movie that fully reveals the MMA industry for putting money into the sport, laying it out as a new power and a real sport of highly skilled and trained athletes.  Your doubts about this sport end when this film’s credits roll.   Tommy is a multiple punch smash artist with his tommy gun round of punches.   Brandon is the Rocky like underdog scrapper, who wins his fights on the ground.   Each character carries a different mixed martial arts style and it’s nicely injected into the film.  This is UFC/MMA’s official introduction to the movies.

4.)O’Connor didn’t just make an action film about fighters.  The running time is long at 2 hours and 13 minutes, but the minutes are earned here because he sets up the story with assertive conviction.   We get to know Tommy and Brandon before we see them get into a serious fight and the outlines of their story are quickly laid in cement before the blood spills.   This is a film about brothers and family and not just an MMA movie.   The MMA is a color for the family drama and not the other way around.

5.)While I can already tell you Hardy is a star to watch from his recent work record(Bronson, Inception, the upcoming Dark Knight Rises), Edgerton is an actor to watch.  He reminds me of a tougher Daniel Craig, with the rock smashed face and edgy overall look.   Edgerton is an Australian and he mastered a hardened Pittsburgh steel American accent.  Brandon Conlon is the real star of this story, and the moral center of the film because of his plight from UFC fighter to school teacher to MMA underdog.  He is the hero of the film.

6.) The ending is well played and earned.   When the two men get into the ring and lock skulls, we don’t know what we want or what will happen.  Its a truly unpredictable pledge once the scene begins.   This wasn’t easy to write and harder to act with.   Hardy and Edgerton shine the brightest here and own the film in the final 15 minutes.  The wonderful pacing of the film leads up to the big showdown and when its over, the audience doesn’t feel cheated and might even be holding back some man tears.   An emotional film about taking chances and earning your living with your birth given fists and ability.   At the core, its a film about forgiveness and all it’s shades of gray.   The final moments of the film are played out right because the filmmakers took the right amount of time to set it up so that when it hits we understand it completely and agree with it.

7.)The film hit me on an emotional level because of my real life relationship with my older brother.   We had two great parents, but near the age of 20 my brother came down with a condition and it separated us as close friends and true brothers.   These days, I don’t get to see my brother or talk to him as much as I want and as a younger sibling, it hurts.  The blame is on my end and his, but it’s rough and this film taught me how every day is a chance to make the call and stay in touch.    Breaking down disease built barriers all comes down to effort and showing it daily or choosing to stay away.   Watching this film’s ending got me more emotional in a theater than I ever have been recently.   It made me want to call my brother just to say hello and keep the blood line fresh and the friendship enabled.  Movie that strike us on an emotional level are the ones we don’t forget.

Warrior is a truly great film that will emotionally knock you to the ground and that’s what you want when you enter the theater.  Entertainment and connection.   See it or potentially feel the weight of a chance passed by.   This is Grade A entertainment.   Movies don’t get much better than this.

The Other Stuff

  • The Cardinals won again and closed the deficit in the wild card race to 5.5 games with 17 games left to play.   A sweep completed tomorrow is required for this team to realistically stay alive in the race.  The Cards are 11 games over .500 for the first time in 3 months and still 6 games behind the Brewers.   A potentially killshot inducing homestand is turning into a comeback trail.   After dropping 2 of 3 to the Reds, the Cards are 5-1 against the teams they are chasing right now in the Brewers and Braves.
  • Here’s something else for the Cards crowd.   In the last three wins, the Cards have only hit 1 home run.   During the second half, the Cardinals’ recipe for success hinged on the home run.   Long balls were our way of exporting success into the standings.   Against the Braves, the Cards have manufactured 8 runs the old fashioned way.   That’s impressive.
  • They keep hitting into double plays though.  2 more on Saturday night puts this team at 155 for the season and 10 short of the record for all time embarassment.  Double play shuffle shows that we put runners on base but exploit the fact we don’t start the runners and can’t steal bases.   Tony La Russa’s American League style offense doesn’t include a running game.   A team relied on bombs gets exposed in double plays.  This isn’t impressive.
  • Albert Pujols seriously flirting with .300 is good television.  One minute, he is nearly there.  The next, he is pushed back.   Right when he gets within a hit of reaching a .300 batting average for the first time all season, Pujols records 3 straight outs and falls back to .296.   Since the guy is red hot and hitting .400 on this homestand, I believe he will reach .300 in Pittsburgh next week or sooner.  This is what being a supreme supporter entails.  You live and die on each at bat.   When Pujols was enduring the worst slump of his career, many Cardinal fans took the opportunity to use the ugly offseason contract talks to cast him off.   They forget this guy is the greatest player in Cardinal Red since Stan Musial and deserves better.  That’s right you picky “best fans in baseball” bullshit crowd.  Stop hating.   For 13 million per season(3 million deferred every year), Albert Pujols has delivered top notch production.  In early October, he will once again carry solid to great numbers so appreciate the guy for his all around greatness and save your disgust for La Russa or the rotation.
  • People are underestimating the value of Peyton Manning to the Colts offense.  Imagine pulling Daniel Day Lewis out of Gangs of New York or Paul Newman out of The Color of Money and you have the idea.  Manning runs the show in Indy.   He called plays at practice, changed them at the line of scrimmage in games and was the master decision maker.    His injury is serious business and big discomfort for people all over the NFL world.   Love or hate him, Peyton is good for football.   You either root to see him succeed(like me) or wish for his downfall(a few of my friends).   Either way, the man helps power the sport and is the engine of the Colts.   Without him, you pull 5-6 wins off their total.   His neck injury is serious.   Knee surgeries and elbow operations are routine.   Neck is a brittle career ending area.   If he comes back too soon and gets rocked, his playing days are done.   Does he want to leave the game like Montana or Elway where he leaves on his feet, or get carried off the field like Troy Aikman or Steve Young?  Without Manning, Sunday’s take a hit.   All along, I knew he was going to miss some time.   Neck injuries are the exception to the rule of being a tough NFL player.
  • The Detroit Lions will score points, win some games but will carry the NFL’s fiercest pass rush.   Thanks in no small part to Ndamukong Suh’s monster potential and aggressive style, the Lions doubled their sack total in 2010 and will put pressure on QB’s and destroy quarterbacks.    Calling them a playoff team might be a stretch, but ask the Rams how much fun they had when they lost 44-6 last season in Detroit.   Don’t take this team too lightly.
  • Also, why is everyone ditching Donovan McNabb?  Sure, he sucked in Washington, but who doesn’t suck as a Redskins quarterback in the last decade?  Ask Jason Campbell about his time there.  Mike Shanahan never liked McNabb and didn’t use him properly or equip him with the right tools.  McNabb put up solid seasons in Philidephia because he had a supporting cast to help him.  Certain QB’s are talented yet need strong players around them.  Donovan isn’t like Peyton and can’t turn water in wine.  However, when Adrian Petersen lines up behind you, your job is much easier.  With a strong defense and talented receiving core and the best running back in the game helping you, who can count out McNabb and the Vikings?  Fools will rush to try.   I am not a huge fan of the guy but to me he is right back in Philidephia with a new Brian Westbrook(Petersen) and a solid 1-2-3 punch of receivers(Percy Harvin, Vincente Shiancoe, Bernard Berrian).   Don’t blame McNabb.  He is a soft thin skinned black man.   Blame the shitty Daniel Snider led Redskins, who won’t go anywhere with Rex Grossman or John Beck as their QB.
  • Here’s to Sam Bradford rolling onto the field tomorrow at the Ed Dome and handing out justice to the over hyped Eagles.   Let’s hope the Eagles offensive line is still undecided and Chris Long and company run all over them.   Let’s hope the Michael Vick from his late Atlanta days shows up and he starts firing sidearm interceptions.    Can Bradford find lanes for passing in a secondary including Dominick Rogers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asanmaga and Asante Samuel?  It’s like driving a car into a police enforced road block.   Can Steven Jackson pound the Eagles up front and generate the running game?  Will the Rams offensive line keep Bradford on his feet long enough to find tiny Danny Amendola on the slant?  So many questions for the first week and I will say this.  I like this Rams team, fear for their safety anyway and like what Steve Spagnuolo is doing.   May the best team win.   Football is a special game because it’s all about who decides to show up and play great.   One week prep for one game.    Here we go.
  • Now that the Blues listened to me and Blues fans on Backes, can I put in another request?  Save the “we come to win” commercials.  They are as bad as the “playing like a Cardinal” spots and don’t promise a damn thing.  Of course David Backes shows up to win.  What the fuck else is he going to do?
  • Right now I am pretty excited.  Why?  Tomorrow, I am going to get up and go for a decent 6-8 mile run around South City.    I do this because when the games start, the eating and drinking starts for me.  Swing around fun town at Buffa’s.   A quiet way to enjoy football with a pregnant wife is to keep the food coming and the noise at high level so the baby hears it and gets familiar with Sunday rituals.  I don’t just watch the Rams game.  Sunday is an all day event.   12pm games on Fox followed by the 3pm game on CBS, all day coverage on the NFL Network, rolling along with the Sunday night game and ending with Sportscenter highlights.   You literally need a mouthguard and playbook to endure the 10 hours of festivities.  Football days usually involve a big pot of chili(powered by beef, a special sauce, cheese and onions) and a consistent supply of beer.  Human beings shed a piece of themselves on NFL gameday.  We get to play coach, player, ref and part time sponsor all in a day’s work.  We scream, wince and scream some more.  If you don’t understand, you suck and must change the channel back to TLC.
  • Daddy prep is in full gear.  Tonight, I calmly walked into Vinny’s room and turned on every music device we have for this kid.   Rockebye baby to ocean music to simple chimes.  After turning them on(4 devices in all), walk into the middle of the room and just stand there and suck it in.   This is the sound of chaos of being a first time father.  Noise at a new level.  Screams, silent pouts and a general frustration with the human race and the circle of life.   Sure, I will be a great dad but this is only spring training and I am taking my licks early.  Saying you suck at it is the first step to getting better at it.
  • Here’s another rant about the dads I have ran into this year while waiting for my kid to show up.  The negative fucks.  Yeah, the dads who tell you all the shitty things about being a parent entails.   These comments come out of their mouth right after they say its wonderful you are pregnant.   The smile turns into a dreadful my life is over yawn and in comes the negative air.   You won’t sleep again!  I know.  You will lose things and have to change your entire house.  Sure thing, everything except the electrical outlets.  They tell you the kid will shit everywhere, including on your life and sexy time.   This is when I tell them to stop telling me about their life.   Dads who weren’t meant to be dads love the new guys on the job, especially the ones who are excited.  They ask me if I am ready and prep their stream line of laughter when I say yes.  Sometimes, I say I am not ready and am scared shitless but hearing tons of negative advice doesn’t help anyone so shut the fuck up.   Every dad is a self prescribed know it all.   Since they have replaced their cologne cabinet with shit, pee and baby powder, your life must be over as well.  I am sick of it.   These guys need to think before they screw their girlfriends turned pregnant wives.   You run into an asshole like this every week and they tell you the same thing.  Be ready for this and worry about that. I tell them all things will take care of themselves.   There is no daddy to be school.   Becoming a dad is like going to a negotiation table with zero notes.   All one guy can do is hope his kid is healthy and all he has to deal with is shitty diapers.   There will be times where I don’t sleep and hate my kid followed by diaper changes that make me never crave a chocolate shake again and redefine the word, “fall apart brownies”.   I get it fuckers!  Lay off the poor man look.   One guy I will never forget.  This guy carried contempt, sadness and despair all in one greeting.  He didn’t say much and didn’t have to.  His face was like a 500 page book on “shoot me at least three times so the real pain kicks in”.   This guy didn’t want to be a dad and I knew it so we skipped the advice routine.   Here’s the end game.  There is no school for being a dad just like there really is no school for driving or a class for life.  You get thrown into it and survive on sheer will power.   It comes down to effort put in or time spent hiding from responsibility.  Hey men all around the world, read this before you slip it in because you are too lazy to find a condom or fail to understand the word, birth control.  Once you get a woman pregnant and she wants to keep it, the game is started and the biggest challenge of a lifetime is on.  That’s my premature, weightless full of shit free hot air advice for guys thinking about becoming dads.   Understanding how to become a dad before you actually have your kid is like trying to understand women.  When you think you know, you are still less than halfway across the street.  Just go with the flow and fuck safe and assured.  Please, don’t tell dads to be it sucks.   That’s bush league.
  • Song of the Day-The National, “About Today“.  Used in Warrior, these slow building method rockers know how to pack a punch into a single tune.  The crumbling voice of the lead singer walking this redemptive story along its path.  Listen to it twice for full effect.  The lead singer barely sings above a whisper and sets a fire in your soul here.

  • Here’s why Denis Leary is a man on a mission for firefighters getting their due.  After 9/11, firefighters and other first responders were beloved heroes, but that didn’t help their horribly low pay and post Ground Zero cleanup duty effects on their health.   Leary has donated more than 10 million to firehouses receiving better equipment and technology along with making a television series solely dedicated to their existence. He basically refuses to shut the fuck up about firefighters heroics and won’t stop until they are taken care of.   Here’s an article on it.

  • Here’s one more piece of advice from me.   I don’t like to dish it out too often because you have to walk a fine line between helping someone and harmfully preaching a person’s head off.  Today, after you wake up and pull it together, do yourself a favor and call a family member, loved one or good friend.   If you don’t want to or severed ties long ago, make the call anyway.   You only get one blood family in this life and hatred included or not they are your family and you have to keep in touch.   Life was never meant to be easy but family pulls you through the shitty eras of our lives.  Call them and tell them how valued they are in your life.  You can even mix it into a routine checkup call so you don’t feel weird.   On a day where nearly 3,000 innocent people died, this is required duty.   So many people died that day before their time and before they got to see something important to someone close to them.   We simply don’t express ourselves enough people.   It’s the truth and I see it every day.   A separation or isolation.   That’s just not living.   Instead of playing it safe, rescue yourself and call someone today.   Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Call a brother or sister.   A simple way to honor the dead on 9/11 is to keep in touch with the living.   Do it while you can.  Before your time is up.   Do the right thing today because tomorrow might not even exist.  That’s all I got.

Thanks for reading as always and entering my theraputic experience here.  I write to clear out the noise in my head and keep things quiet in my mind.  As I take care of that, I also inform you of my opinion.  All this is here is a circle of information and resolution.   Good conversation is needed in this world.  The good old fashioned journalism war room back and forth fire talks that leave two friends or combated souls tired but feeling they just learned something about themselves and someone else. Enlightenment is a tricky experience that’s worth your time.   Hopefully, my words here get you talking.  If not, I failed at my job as the voice of the people.

So long and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa