Let another round of word producing activity begin. A stream of conciousness on a hot Friday afternoon begins now.
*I can’t get enough of 9/11 coverage this week. It’s something you truly have to let form a pool around your head and completely swallow you up in order to register the full power of it’s impact. I am not talking about the conspiracy theories, timeline of events or causes and effects of the day. I covered that in Monday’s blog. Now, I am diving in deep into the Rising of Ground Zero on the Discovery Channel, a 4 hour miniseries on the rebuilding projects that have been going on for nearly 10 years now. That’s right, the hour after the towers went down, workers and various souls scoured the area for life and found a lot of death. Rebuilding project supervisor Ron Vega spent 9 months climbing into the rubble. Today, he looks at a finished memorial, with each tower land print preserved with the biggest man made waterfall flowing into the towers foundation walls, with imprints of the 2,983 names that were lost on 9/11. It’s a truly breathtaking picture to uphold and to stare into. The final plate of names(covered in bronze) were filled in two months ago and set up for the 9/11 memorial ceremony. Family members and friends can go there and see their lost souls imprinted forever. Dads will sit next to their son’s names, like former firefighter Lee Lelpi, who lost his firefighter son on that day. Plumber Jimmie Walsh lost his mother, Barbara, when the first plane slammed into her floor on the North Tower. Jean Roger, a flight attendant who was on United 11 that crashed into the North Tower, can have her name seen by her parents. For family members like Walsh and Roger, it’s imminently special because they weren’t able to recover any part of their lost ones. Over 1,100 people were never recovered that day, including chief transportation project contracter Pete Lyons’ brother, Michael. Lyons went down to search for his brother and stopped after 2 months, and quit his job and got involved in the rebuilding. Over 1,000 workers fill the 16 acres of land that stands in place of the lost towers. The reason I love watching these documentaries is hearing the stories from people who lost close ones that day. I am a sucker for a story and hearing these people pour out their soul in front of a camera about a son, daughter or brother who died that day is overwhelmingly powerful. A couple who both worked on the North Tower separated by one floor both died that day. One daughter called their parents and told them, “something is happening,” after which the line goes dead. The designer of Tower 4 is also making it possible for the sun to strike The North Tower fountain right at 846am on every September 11th morning. That’s the kind of detail being worked in there. A truly special project that deserves a lot more words than I can provide here. If you get a chance, on September 11th in 9 days, the entire series is being played again from 5pm-11pm. Watch some of it. Try and sit there with a human heart beating in your chest that when the promo starts and you see builders, the fountains and the new buildings coming into shape that you don’t feel something unique awakening inside you and I will confirm you dead. While I was miles and states away that morning going to school at Mizzou, it took a piece out of me too. That day carved a piece into my soul as far as memory is concerned. Every time I see a relic of 9/11 in my vision, I feel something personal and real kick inside me, like a second heart built for mourning nearly 3,000 souls, mostly innocent people running through another day in their lives before having their lives halted. The chance to have my son born on 9/11/11 is very special, whether it happens or not. Aside from being the day you came into this earth, it is also the landmark date for a 24 hour set this country will never forget. Something I can’t wait to do is take Vincent to New York and show him Ground Zero and explain what happened and how the city and country got up off their feet and built something meaningful in it’s place. The first tower, Tower 1, opens in September of 2013. That sounds like a date that I won’t break.
*The Cardinals must take care of business this weekend against the Reds. If they lose tonight, every win in Milwaukee this week is wasted. It’s that simple. At this point, you do or you die. Chris Carpenter takes the mound in a huge contest against “Kicking Impossible” Johnny Cueto of the Reds. It’s fitting that standing between a high stakes showdown with the Brewers next week are the pesky spoiler Reds. In some frame of mind, I see John Mozelaik and Walt Jocketty standing face to face in a desert somewhere staring each other and their decisions down for a matter of minutes. On the opposite side of the field from Tony La Russa is his old nemesis Dusty Baker. Dusty brings out the best and maddening set of skills in La Russa. These two will be playing poker for three days. If you care to buy into this “too little, too late” campaign by La Russa’s hard nine crew, one must hold the rugged mindset of a win at all costs in their persona. Seeing the Cardinals play well again, hurt teams, score runs,win games has slightly lifted the fog off a rather disappointing season.
*What’s gone missing in the August reel is the outstanding play of the defense. Since Rafael Furcal joined the team in late July, The Cardinals defense has improved. Ground balls get sucked up by an infield and plays are made. The outfield, minus the reckless lost body of Colby Rasmus, can make plays as well. Furcal is a true gold glover at shortstop and he makes the rest of the infield better. If Matt Holliday can’t track down a hanging bloop, Rafy comes flying out and grabs it. He can get left or right, fire a strike from his cannon slingshot arm from anywhere on the field and nail fast runners. With him, Ryan Theriot looks average at second and Skip Schumacher is better. David Freese plays with less pressure at third base, and Daniel Descalso jack of all trades style can be mixed all around.
*The bullpen rose up in Milwaukee and won that series along with the offense. While Jake Westbrook and Brandon Dickson combined to pitch 8.1 innings, throw 111 pitches and allow 6 runs, the bullpen shined bright. Kyle McClellan worked two scoreless innings on Wednesday. Octavio Dotel, in his best work in years, worked 2.2 scoreless frames with 5 strikeouts yesterday in his rescue of lost cause Dickson. Without a reliable bullpen, the Cards lose that series. Jason Motte pitched two more scoreless innings to extend his flawless record. Marc Rzepcynski struggled on Tuesday but pitched a scoreless frame on Wednesday. Fernando Salas closed out Tuesday’s game and pitched 2 innings on Thursday. In a time of need and a rotation baring road wounds, the pen is stepping up.
*Alberto Pujols showed up in Milwaukee during the last couple games. After cranking a solo homer on Wednesday, AP put on a show on Thursday. He smashed a 462 foot homer in the first inning, and followed it up with a grand slam in the third inning that gave his team all the runs they needed. He finished 4-4 with his average sitting at .292, the highest it’s been all season. Slowly, frustratingly, Albert is kicking the average up. What else is he doing? He has hit 34 home runs, drove in 84 and scored 90 and it’s September 2nd folks. The man is having a terrible season,right???? The answer is no, folks. Albert is reclaiming the crown for the best in the game by tearing up the second half. Since May 6th, he is hitting .312 and slugging .600. The culprit for Pujols’ season is a very bad month of April. He had less than 6 home runs and less than 15 RBI on May 1st and his average was right around .215. Since then, he has come back and picked up his crown. My message to the Cards. Pay the man his money. Get it done quick. Games like Thursday are the reason Albert is a special player. He now has 442 home runs in less than 11 seasons. He has accumulated 5 RBI 12 different times in his career. That’s a Cardinal record. He now owns 12 grand slams. When his career is over, I’d wager serious cash that Pujols will have broke a ton of records and did nearly everything a player could do. That’s a guy you want to keep around. That’s a guy you don’t want to see raise a World Series trophy in another uniform. He’s our guy, folks.
*Once again, La Russa. Give Jason Motte the ball in the 9th inning. His 9th inning performances against the Pirates and Brewers tell me this kid has changed since his early downfall in 2009. The absence of Lance Lynn and Edurado Sanchez is hurting Motte’s chances of taking over the 9th inning. The only problem I can see with moving Motte to the 9th is taking away his fire extinguishing duties in the 7th and 8th innings. That’s where Sanchez and Lynn come into play.
*Michael Vick’s 6 year, 100 million dollar contract carries a mixed blend of crazy, ambitious, confidence and madness as any huge deal does with a brittle slowly aging player. First, look at it in amazement and the triumph of talent. Personally, Vick can die a thousand different ways. He is an evil soul whose acts will never be taken away. That’s a fact from this mind. However, he served his time and came back to reclaim his spot as one of the top QB’s in the game. 2 years ago, he was getting out of jail and trying to find his spot. Now he is a top dollar arm and set of legs. A huge portion of his contract is going to debt collectors and attorneys and the IRA along with the Falcons. He sold most of his assets before entering jail but now that he is making real athlete money, there are bills to pay. He owes his former agent millions. He owes debt collectors millions. The Falcons want a signing bonus back. His life will still be chaotic and the pressure to be great only rises. His first test comes against the St. Louis Rams on 9/11/11. How do the Rams beat him? Put 7 in the pocket, and send the blitz repeatedly. The Eages offensive line is weak and is letting Vick get pummeled during the preseason. Beat him with the blitz.
*Speaking of the Rams, they finished their fake schedule round at 4-0 with a 24-17 victory over the Jaguars last night. Tough to get too excited over preseason activity but a win is a win. The biggest story of the preseason is the play of Thaddeus Lewis, the 3rd string quarterback. Lewis led a game winning drive in the 2nd preseason game, and put up solid numbers last night. Sure, Lewis plays against 2nd and 3rd string defenders, but he is an intriguing talent. The Rams have A.J. Feeley behind Bradford, so Lewis will most likely hit the practice squad and be picked up by another team looking for a fresh pulse. If I were San Francisco or Seattle, I would take a look. Imagine Lewis lining up against the Rams in a meaningful game.
*The Blues set up camp in 2 weeks and play their first preseason game on September 20th against Steven Stamkos and the Lightning. This is the great time of the year where all three sports are in session at the same time. Rams football, Blues preseason and the Cards season finish. With the Cards and Rams recent play, all the Blues can do is add to the party.
*Another NHL enforcer, Wade Belak, died this week. Belak, according to investigators, hung himself on Wednesday. He was 35 years old and recently retired from the NHL to become a color analyst for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A sad offseason for the sport continues. Like previous victim, Rick Rypien, Belak suffered from depression and took his own life at a young age. The enforcer count is up to 3 bodies in the past 3 months. Rangers forward Derek Boogard overdosed on a cocktail of dangerous drugs. Rypien took his own life 2 weeks ago. This week, Belak goes down. Boogard’s brain was donated to scientists tracking a connection between tough guys, their style of play and brain disease. This started after Bob Probert’s death at the age of 45 last year, and he was the father of all fighters. The idea of brain degeneration isn’t a surprising development in hockey. It’s a tough grind of a sport and once a player leaves the locker room, the effects can settle in and have various effects. Stu Grimson, a former fighter and attorney at law these days, says there is an immense pressure to be an NHL enforcer. Fighting is good for the stress level, but thinking about what goes through the mind of a puncher in this sport from fight to fight is intriguing. There are answers there. For now, all one can do is mourn.
*HBO’s thrilling series, Hard Knocks airs a best of segment this weekend as the series is taking a year off due to the lockout shortened offseason. Expect plenty of Rex Ryan F-bombs. Thinking of Hark Knocks and the NHL version of 24/7 makes me wonder how Rex Ryan and Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau would get along. My bet is fittingly with lots of profanity and honesty. Watch Hard Knocks if you are in the mood to get fired up about upcoming NFL action. A very good series that puts you in the face of NFL training camp and into their inner circles. Be there when players are released, in coaches meetings and after the games when the FOX and ESPN crews leave because they can’t air any of the profanity and brutal nature of the coaches and players. This is bare bone insight here my friends.
*Tennis is returning to the center stage this week with the US Open in New York. Two rounds haven’t been finished and Maria Sharapova is gone. Andy Roddick will be next. One hopes for a showdown again between Nadal and Federer but my guess is Novak Djokovic will have something to say about it.
*Mizzou football fires up tomorrow against Miami. This is a new team on the field this year after Blaine Gabbert departed for the NFL. Expectations are stuck in the medium level of anxiety and hope.
*Once again, the daddy countdown is ticking live as we write and read. Anytime now, I may become a dad. Once my wife is dilated and the contractions are less than 9 minutes apart, it’s showtime. Until then, stand by. A fair mix of fear and hope exists in my head at this point.
That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by and have a good night. Be sure to come back because I will be back soon to deliver the news.
So long for just awhile,