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…..my 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.

http://youtu.be/QcmbFKstspk

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,

DLB

 

 

 

 

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Author: D. Buffa

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

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