Hangover Notes

As the lovely wash of a World Series title hangs in my memory, here’s some thoughts as I deal with the side effects.

Happy Halloween readers.  First shock of the day is…

Tony La Russa retires from baseball.  To me, this wasn’t a shocking move at all.  La Russa managed here for 16 seasons, won 2 World Series titles, went to the playoffs 10 times, won 3 pennants and has picked the right time to walk away from the game.   What’s a bigger high note than completing a miraculous recovery and winning the World Series.  I suggested he make his exit after this season when we were down 10.5 games in August and that was when he contacted GM John Mozelaik.  Look, its hard to fault what La Russa has done here with a wild variety of baseball teams.   He has dealth with tragedy, injury and a set of young and old ballplayers like a pro and accomplished a great amount in his long career.  Love or hate him, you can’t fault his 3 World Series titles, 6 pennants and finishing 3rd on the all time wins list.   He leaves a hole in the dugout that won’t be easy to fill.  This works for the Cards because while veterans like Carpenter, Berkman and Holliday are coming back, the team is slowly transitioning into a young talent based team.  Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas and David Freese are all coming into bigger roles and now is a good time to introduce some new blood into the manager’s post.   It will be genuinely weird to not see La Russa stalking that dugout step during games, removing his glasses as he makes his way up those stairs for a pitching change or revel in his in game genius calls.  More on this as it develops, but as mentioned, this is a good time for La Russa to exit.   Leave when you have done it all and planted your feet as one of the best.  It’s better to leave on a high note than walk away with people speaking of your decaying existence.  My guess is he will be back in baseball soon, whether its in Chicago with his friend Jerry Reinsdorf or on the West Coast somewhere.  La Russa will have a job in the front office or get back in the dugout.  Today was his time to exit Cardinal Nation.

First Interviews for the New Job.   Third base coach and well respected former player Jose Oquendo has to be the first choice on the table.  Oquendo is highly respected by the players and the front office, and waited for the opportunity to manage this team.  Hire Oquendo and Pujols will stay for sure.   He managed a team in the World Olympics and is a smart tenured baseball mind worth putting in charge.  After Oquendo, I expect Mozelaik to make a call to Terry Francona(recently parted ways with Red Sox).  Everything is up in the air, and I respect La Russa for making the decision earlier rather than later.  Last season, he took a road trip to decide but this season the idea of a summer off hit him early enough for the team to make plans.

World Series Thoughts-Sitting on my couch on Sunday, the idea that the Cardinals had won the World Series slowly began to roll in.   Being a die hard fan, you don’t know how to let go once a season ends.  The MLB Network is showing replays of the postseason Cards games, so I found myself watching some of the highlights.   There isn’t much more to say other than the Cardinals winning it all allows a fan like myself to ease into the offseason more comfortably.  There is no rage or anger.  I am content.   I know what the Cardinals have to do and now that La Russa is retired, another interesting jaw of possibilities is thrown into motion.   The idea now is set our sights on Pujols’ contract and the inevitable calm of peace in an offseason not marked by questions yet carrying a definitive grasp of joy for a season well done.  We not only won the World Series.  The Cardinals won one of the most memorable and thrilling World Series in baseball history.  Chew on that.

The Rams Swallow the Red Pill, Beat Saints

If someone had told me The Rams would beat the Saints with ease at home yesterday, I would have tested their blood for narcotics.  Taking a 24-0 lead into halftime and only allowing a late surge by New Orleans with the game in hand, the Rams finally broke through with an overall strong team performance.  Let’s break it down in bullets.

  • The Defense played very well, creating a pass rush that got to Drew Brees for 6 sacks and several hurry up throws and hits.  Those hits allowed the secondary to get an extra step and intercept Brees twice and return one for a score, the Rams first INT return for a touchdown for the season.   James Lauranitis had 10 tackles and a sack.   Chris Long had 3 sacks, each in a different quarter.  Long is capable of being a top flight DE threat in this league and showed another flash of his talent against the Saints strong offensive line.  The defense also held the Saints huge running game to 56 yards on 20 carries.
  • Steven Jackson ran wild, accumulating 159 yards on 25 carries and scoring 2 touchdowns.  He also caught 4 passes for 32 yards.  This is what Jackson can do when given the space and protection.   He is one of the top 5 running backs in the league for his consistency and his resolve to make this team a winner.  He has grown into a team leader and led by example yesterday.  When he gets an extra step or a little room, Jackson can separate himself from a D-line and get big yards.  The only chance a defense has of stopping him is getting him early.   Jackson is a battering ram out there and simply wore down the Saints all day.  Look at yards accumulated over the past 5 seasons and Jackson is up there.   He has consistently put up numbers with a decaying Bulger behind center, a rookie last season and A.J. Feeley yesterday.
  • Speaking of our 3.5 million making backup QB, Feeley had a mistake free game.   He threw for 175 yards and a touchdown, making Jackson the feature player on the offense and for good reason.  Filling in for an injured Sam Bradford, Feeley wisely took a supporting role.
  • The Rams were 3-3 in the Red Zone, improving in a previously horrible category.   Teams win games by scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
  • There were bad spots and dark holes on the day.  The Rams were penalized 9 times for 64 yards, continuing a bad trend early in the season.   There was a horrible fumble drop deep in Rams territory that the Saints returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.  Greg Salas dropped a pass that was nearly recovered.  The Rams were 5-16 on 3rd down, which only equals out to a mere 31 percent.
  • Brandon Lloyd led the Rams receivers with 6 catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.   Lloyd has sparked the passing game a little in his two games and things will only get better when Mark Clayton joins the team.

Overall, a solid win that still sits this team at 1-6 nearing the halfway mark.  This team hasn’t had the easy road.  After finishing 7-9, the Rams were dealt a brutal schedule that included a 7 game death walk to start.  They have lost Danny Amendola for the season and Bradford for two games along with Danario Alexander.  Nothing has been easy, and watching this team hasn’t been pretty because of the lousy play.  Before Sunday, the Rams were plain old ugly.   Do the Rams have a shot of catching 6-1 San Francisco?  I doubt it, but it’s encouraging to see this team fall off the top draft slot for this town’s sake.   A win over the Saints makes one wish we could have pulled off the Redskins or Giants game, but we go to Arizona on a high note with Bradford hopefully making his return soon.  With the Rams, it will always be sweet and bitter.  Appreciate the effort on Sunday as the Rams took a page from the St. Louis Cardinals and went out and played their asses off.

The Blues lose their second in a row, raising more questions

The Blues continue to be a zig zag franchise, winning 3 games and then losing 2 in a row to destroy any confidence built up.   This team has scary areas of need and with the injury to Andy McDonald and pending status of David Perron, one wonders if they can improve their play enough to challenge for a playoff spot.   Right now, the playoffs are non factor.  Playing consistent hockey is key and right this moment, the Blues look rough.  Here are some points.

  • Jaroslav Halak is playing bad and inconsistent hockey, but is also getting put out to pasture by a bad defense.  How many times does the opposing team come skating in with the advantage and fire willingly on Halak?  This has been the problem for years.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Manny Legace, Chris Mason or Halak.  Unless the Blues defense improves, the goalie doesn’t stand a chance.   Rather its Barrett Jackman turning over the puck or the Blues getting beat down the ice, Halak is facing a firing line every time.  Granted he hasn’t been sharp.  Allowing 4 goals on less than 25 shots is bad for business.   Halak is 1-6 with a 3.58 goals against average and a unbearable .843 save percentage.   The real question is, why is Brian Elliot faring so much better in net?  He is 4-1 with a 1.67 GAA and a shutout.  Where is the disconnect or the plug here between two goalies?  Sometimes, players go hard for one player over another.  Answers will come in time.  Halak is the 4 million dollar kid that has 3 more seasons in net here while Elliot is the go for broke 1 year veteran.   Is Halak losing focus while Elliot is sucking in every opportunity or this a matter of defense in front of the net?
  • Alex Steen can’t be faulted, scoring 6 goals and netting 9 points in the first 11 games.   A two sided player who can penalty kill and possesses the best one timer on the team, Steen is making his big contract stand up in the second year.
  • With the additions of Scott Nichol, Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner in the offseason, I would think the depth would be better on this team but they are still struggling to make up ground and get the first goal in games.
  • The power play is stagnant at 2-39 in the first 11 games.  If this doesn’t improve, you won’t see more wins put on the board.  If you can’t score with the man advantage, how can you be expected to do so at full strength.
  • The penalty kill isn’t much better, ranking near the bottom of the league in efficiency.
  • The Blues aren’t ugly to watch yet they rarely put together long sustainable winning streaks.  It’s hard to generate excitement early when you produce uneven hockey.  It’s early and there are 71 games left to play but the Blues don’t look too hot right now.  Their home/road splits aren’t drastic in any direct area.  The overall level of play isn’t there yet.
  • One small hint.  Play Ryan Reaves.  The kid is a born enforcer and can handle the puck as well and skate on a fourth line.  Just a small suggestion.

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez, 24-7 on HBO

Watching these two prepare for their November 12th fight, I can’t get over the fact that Marquez doesn’t stand a chance against Manny.  Granted, the last time these two fought in 2008, many thought Marquez got the decision and not Pacquiao, who hadn’t risen to the top of the boxing world yet.   Manny has only grown in power, strength, speed and overall skill since then while Marquez has taken a step back.   These two produced two legendary battles that ended in a draw and a close decision.   That was 3 years ago.  Since then, Manny has risen to the top while fighting anybody who steps forward and he has jumped in weight class and won 8 belts in separate weight classes.   Marquez looked lost and old in a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. two years ago, the only other time Juan had stepped up to the lightweight division.   Manny has something to prove this time.  He wants to destroy Marquez and prove to the world who is the best in the three fights.  HBO produces breathtaking sports entertainment, and 24/7 boxing is no joke.  Liev Schrieber narrates while the cameras swoop in and out of Manny’s gym in LA and Marquez’s camp in Mexico.   It’s wonderful theater, as the promo promises, “go into their lives before they go into the ring”.    This is just another useless pit stop before Manny once again waits for the cowardly Mayweather Jr. to step up and agree to a fight.  Once again, for the kids who choose to live under a rock and not pay attention, Floyd is scared of Manny.   He is afraid Manny will ruin his legacy by handing him his first loss.   Why else is there for Floyd not too fight Manny in a mega fight that would pay 20 million easily to each camp.   If Floyd is about the money, he would fight Manny.  Instead, he builds up this bullshit blood testing excuse and gets into tons of legal trouble out of the ring.   Be honest.  Floyd doesn’t care about clean boxing.  The Boxing Commission takes care of that and Manny has passed all their tests.  He agreed to Floyd’s propaganda but Floyd didn’t come to the table.  As Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said, the fight will never happen because Floyd is afraid of Manny.  For now, we get to see Manny destroy an old foe.

My Prospects as Cardinals Manager-Since La Russa retired this morning, people have asked me should I get into the running?   I responded with a sure fire grin and a promise to produce highly candid post game press conferences and a renegade style to games.   I can only imagine myself, the youngest manager of all time, stalking the dugout steps, making pitching changes, taking wrath and smack from writers and fans.   Who is this kid?  I’d welcome it with open arms and work for what I make right now.  If I did well, then I’d accept more pay.   I would be the first in a revolutionary upheaval in sports.  Young blood.   Don’t get too excited.  Even if I donated a kidney to one of the owners and saved Busch Stadium from a fire, I would never be made manager.  I’m too young, inexperienced, and have nothing to show for experience.   Just a thought.  What If Scenario.  I’m just a fan and it will stay that way.  However, if I am called, I accept the offer.   First request from me.  Sign Albert immediately so we can get to work.

Daddy Blog Entry-Dealing with baby issues is the hardest thing about being a dad.   What is wrong and what is normal?   That’s the fight.   This week Vinny is vomiting projectile style.   This is especially bad when it happens out of nowhere.   One minute he is fine and the next he is covered in white fluid, crying and helpless.  As a parent, you take the blunt of the worrying and blame yourself and the genetic makeup.   You won’t see the doctor more than when you have a kid.  You won’t hear the phrase, “Yes, thats normal” more than when you have kids.   Everything is trauma when you have a newborn.  We are a natural born ER center at home now.   One wrong cry and we both run for the crash cart.   This isn’t complaining but only mere explaination.   I love being a dad but I warn against wannabe parents….this won’t be easy and it will be the most entertaining and original ride of your life.    Take your meds. 

NFL Sunday Quick Thoughts-

*The Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo.   Complain if you can but remember what I said.   He is a choker and Jerry Jones better realize it.  Tank the rest of the season and trade up for Luck.  

*Once again, Tom Brady can be beat like any other QB if the opposing team gets consistent pressure on him.   Pittsburgh forced it and they beat the Patriots.  Beat Brady and the deal is done. 

*The Eagles won, but I still don’t believe they can beat the Packers. 

*Come to think of it, no one can beat the Packers right now. 

*Watch out for the Lions.   They lost a couple games but when they are clicking, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can put up points and the defense closes the gap.    Watch out Packers on Thanksgiving. 

*Mark Sanchez is a horrible regular season quarterback but a great playoff quarterback.   Weird. 

*Are the Cardinals crying for Kurt Warner yet?   Correction-Is Larry Fitzgerald crying for Warner yet?

Random Bits to close up shop-

*I’m going to the doctor today for a random checkup.   First time with our new doc.  Would it be inappropriate to not wear pants?

*Watched The Rock in Faster on Saturday.   Great action film.  One course asskicking fest.   Don’t overjudge it.   These kind of simplisitic action thrill ride that are rarely done well these days.   He plays an ex con who spends 10 years in prison after the death of his brother waiting to get released and go killing.  

Great line from the end-

Bad guy-“I created my own hell,didn’t I?”

The Rock-“And I’m the devil that crawled out of it.”

*Song to Listen to Right Now-Dawes performing “When My Times Comes”

*Final Thought-The Cardinals need to get a manager quick so Pujols can settle in and get his deal and the Cardinals can get to work.  They knew this time was coming and that Pujols would need to get paid.   If they were smart, they would have given Holliday and Pujols 8 year deals 2 years ago and been done with it.    Now, they must the manager vacancy so the Pujols talks can get wrapped up before the new year.    Less distractions the better.

That’s all folks.  Thanks for reading.

Goodnight,

DLB

The First Dose of Happiness(Extended)

Ladies and Gents,

We came, we fought and we conquered.  The Cardinals did the impossible and won their 11th World Series.   21 hours later, I am still in minor shock and awe dealing with the feeling that the team I hand my life to for 6 months a year won the prize.   A surreal and truly great feeling.   That’s 2 World Series in the last 5 years and 3 trips in the past 10.   Very solid.  Move over Phillies, the Cards carry the big stick now. 

While I will unveil a larger more compact blog later tonight or tomorrow, allow me a few thoughts as I digest dinner, play highly underrated indie band The National in the background and set up some french press coffee for an evening with a good friend.   10 Things to Point  Out and Look Forward to.

  • Chris Carpenter was my unsung hero for the entire postseason.  A strong armed general that provided the team with stability.  Carpenter deserved the World MVP for his three solid controlling starts but I have no problem with Freese getting it.  Carp rescued his career with the last 3 months of his season but his postseason performance and overall numbers prove his ultimate worth.  A true beast.  His Game 5 beating of Halladay and the Phillies will go down as legendary in it’s own right.
  • Freese makes for a good story.  Kid came a long way to from being an injury prone drunk to taking over the playoffs, driving in 21 runs and coming through with the clutchest hit in recent Cards history.  The fact he did in his hometown takes it to another level. 
  • Lance Berkman is also a guy I feel pretty happy for.   Before the season, he called the Astros about coming back for another season or 2 to wrap things up and that he had gotten healthier over the offseason.   The Astros told him to go fuck himself.  Told him he was done, broken and worthless.   Berk called the Cards next.  Rest is history.  He stuck the ultimate stick of “told you so” serum into the Astros by putting together a great season, proving he could play right field at his age and came through with big World series hits.  Good for him.  Glad he is back in 2012. 
  • While he only produced one good offensive game in the World Series, Rafael Furcal fortified the infield defense and hit very well on this team.  He came here to win a World Series, got one, and I have a strong feeling he will stay.  He means so much with a ground ball pitching staff. 
  • The clock ticks on Albert Pujols now.  Will he or won’t he?  My feelings are still the same.  He has no reason to leave now.  He is king of the city and will get a good deal.  It comes down to his choice.  He put together an overall strong postseason and I don’t think he is going anywhere.  He deserves the golden deal, so hopefully the Cards provide him with one.  He is simply too good to short change.  For the people who will only offer him 3 years, you are retarded.  He is worth so much more and has earned it.  At least 5 years will be given here.  In the end, Albert will stay because the Cards have kept their promise of competing and Albert’s life, family and future are set in stone here.  Sometimes, business gets pushed to the back burner.  
  • While Descalso and Jon Jay were big pieces, Allen Craig is a player who gives hope after Berkman retires after 2012.   Craig only got better with more playing time and had a great World Series.  He hits for power to all fields and also plays solid defense, as seen with his catch last night.  Like Jay, Freese and Descalso, he gives the Cards a cheap productive player. 
  • The good thing this team is set up strong for next season and doesn’t need many pieces to look for in free agency.  Pujols is the main need and after he is done, where do you look for fixing?  Skip had a solid comeback season and is cheap at second where Punto or Descalso can share time.   Furcal will come back for cheap.   Freese, Holliday, Jay, and Berkman are set.  Molina will get a deal and stay put.  Wainwright’s options are picked up and set.  Westbrook and Lohse are here for another year and barring a magical deal, can’t be traded.   The bullpen is strong.  Rzep is back.  Salas, Sanchez, Lynn, Dotel and Motte are all coming back.  I like this team’s chances to return to the playoffs in 2012 with or without Pujols, but I’d like the Mang’s services rendered and returned.
  • McClellan’s job has to be in jeapardy with Lynn and Dotel coming up big.  K-Mac was solid for 4 seasons yet started to wore off after his return to the pen in August.
  • Tony La Russa will be back because the Cards will be a veteran led team next year.  For one more year at least, we will be subject to La Russa’s brutal mind draining genius.  
  • Of all the returning young soldiers, Motte is the one I’m looking forward to the most.  He brings so much and has come a long way from his early propane fused arrival.   His secondary pitch is improved and the location of his fastball is nearly pinpoint.  He has the chance to be a lockdown closer for a long time if he strangles the job and continues to pitch lights out.   He pitched very well under the harsh lights of the postseason, which is a huge test for a kid like The Motte.  Motte can provide this team with the first old school heater based closer since Bruce Sutter and at a low price.  If we are to hand Pujols millions, we will need to get production from the cheap end in certain areas.   This team carries plenty of it. 

If there is one thing this team did in 2011, they redefined the idea of “out of the race”.   They recovered from 10.5 games out with a month to play and won it all.   An inspirational group of ballplayers who proved, it’s never over until the fighting is completely done.   I’ll never forget this season for everything that it was.  Frustrating, entertaining, exciting, awe inspiring, maddening and ultimately successful.   Game 6 is never leaving the memory.  The 2011 Cardinals provided the best 7 weeks of baseball I’ve ever seen.   If we learned anything here, it’s that giving on your team with a month to play is a useless activity because in sports, you never know what can happen with the right performance from every area of a team.   I’ll never look at this team the same again.  That’s my lesson.

*Fun Fact-In 1982, when I was born, The Cardinals won the World Series.   My son Vincent was born on September 14th, 2011 and the Cardinals won the World Series 45 days later.   Connections are real and intact.  Vinny gave this team a surge right when they needed something extra, or I am just being a proud dad bragging about his kid.

That’s all I have for now.  Out of time.  Digest and prep for more.  Tonight’s menu includes watching the Rock kick ass, beer intake and hanging with Vinny.  Dos Equis Amber included.

Goodnight,

Buffa
excited, mentally drained yet content to relax

Here is more on the season after a chat with friends-Sunday, 1230 pm

As I just wake up here after a semi wild night of drinking with friends and being up here and there with Vinny during the night, allow me to load up the gun and fire back.  
Drinking is possible with a newborn IF you have a great partner for a wife and two awesome friends who aren’t baby phobic.  Last night, I stayed thirsty with both Dos Equis Original and Amber. 

Pujols and Free Agents on the team
I don’t think I’m being over ambitious here.  If Skip wants more than 1-2 million a year for having a down year offensively from when he got his 2 year deal, I say cut him loose and insert Daniel Descalso who can do nearly as well for a lot less money.   Furcal had a horrible year offensively and can’t ask for more than 5-6 million a year, which the Cardinals can afford.  He is so important because of the way he changed the infield defense and he did improve the leadoff spot on this team.  If he commands a lot, you cancel his Visa and tell him to fuck off.  My feeling is he will stay here for not much money at all.   Dotel is a pitcher I like a lot, and loved when he came here in the Colby trade.  He shuts down righties(very good righty bats like Braun) and is a keeper.  His return has to cancel K-Mac’s and I am fine with that.  Pujols will be a good sign?  Jimmy, are we talking about the same player who has produced 11 magical seasons and stayed pretty damn healthy for those 11?  Why is he only a good sign?  He’s played 11 seasons for way under market value, less than your favorite player Holliday and he is only a good sign.  Once again, he deserves the golden deal and if he wants 5-7 years, I fucking hand him it on a silver platter with some salsa.  Who else deserves it?   The thing I have grown tiresome to me is Pujols’ age.  Why is he so suspected?  When 9/11 happened, every foreign baseball player was checked thoroughly and cleared.  Pujols goes back home to Dominican Republic every offseason and has the same VISA if he was older or not.  Why is this an issue?  Is it because Miguel Tejada was found to be a couple years older?  Well, guess what, his baseball ability is also 5 years older and done.  Pujols’ play hasn’t dropped and he stays in good shape.  It enrages me when people think he is 35 or 38 years old.  You know I say, prove it.  You know I question.  Russian hockey players like Ovechkin.  Where’s his passport at and his age?  Why is it that we only suspect Latin America players of age?  How old really was Ryan Franklin in spring training this year?  38 or 58 years old?   Albert Pujols is the age he says he is until….something can be proved in a court of law.   The Pujols rant had to be happen because I deal with people at work who suspect him of his age and it bothers me.   In the end, if the crowd seriously needs dirt on the man, no matter how old he is, as long as he stays productive(pretty nice “off” year in 2011), you pay him his money.   He is the face of the Cardinals and has done very well with his time in St. Louis.  A charity Robin Hood and a Ruth on the field.  Why is it hard to hand him the golden deal?  Skip, Dotel and Furcal are debatable.   Albert Pujols is not.   I have said this for years.  If Pujols wants to stay, he will stay.  He is the pilot of his own flight and control his own destiny.  No matter what he says, he calls the shots in his career, with or without an agent.  Hopefully, the Cards make it easy and offer him a deal that rivals Ryan Howard’s at the very least.  I have said this many times.  The Cards knew this day was coming and had to get themselves ready for it.   Come on now.  This is simple economics.  A smart team would have set him up with Holliday and lock down the future 3-4 spots of your lineup at once.  When asked last night about the Pujols situation and if he is staying I said this, “If you owned a piece of gold, would you let it walk away?”

I guarantee you that Holliday will come back with a fury in 2012.  For having missed 38 games, his 2011 stats were solid and he played on 2 sore legs for a month.  Ask any local sportswriter and no one is more respected in the Cards clubhouse than Holliday.  He plays the game hard and paid for it this year.   Before 2011, he never missed that much time to injury, averaging 155 games per season in his 6 year career.  Jimmy, you knock him and that’s your right, but I will say in stone that Holliday is a bargain in left after Crawford and Werth’s deals, and backs it up with his play.   However, Allen Craig provides a comfy backup plan if Holliday or Berk are hurt in 2012.

Also, Berkman has one more year left in him.   Unless he duplicates what he did last season, you can’t keep paying him 9 million a year.  He was great and I’m happy for him, but the best case scenario for this team is him in right field sharing time with Allen Craig.   Berk missed time this year to injury and doesn’t have 3-4 years left anywhere on the field.  He is an insurance body for Pujols but I’d rather see him playing 130 games in right field.  He proved he can play the outfield at his age in 2011.

Bullpen
Bring back Dotel and the group is solid.  Motte’s motion is dangerous, but he proved how effective he can be under the monsterous pressure of the postseason light.  This was his test and he passed it with flying colors.  He has the look, ability and age(how old is he behind that beard??).   His arm angle and motion are rough to say the least, but if he does miss time, Lance Lynn backs him up in the closer role.   The Cards, for the first time in years, have lots of great hard throwing arms in the bullpen in Sanchez, Lynn and Motte.  Salas is a key part and so is Rzep with ability to pitch more than a single inning.   Rhodes may come back for more dancing but I’m not thrilled about it.

La Russa will guide this ship until he decides to leave.  That’s been the rule since his arrival.   He stays until he wants to go.  You can’t argue with the results.   10 playoff appearances, 3 World Series trips, 2 titles, lots of great runs.   He can suck the ability out of a roster but also put it to good use.  While I wouldn’t cry over his departure, I’m fine with another dance as long as there are meds to take.

Game 6 was legendary.  The scoreboard would have made it bearable for everyone.  The best thing about those days were the surrounding support on the board.  We were shrinks for each other.   Those were the days.  I would have needed a horse to get home for all the alcohol and words sent in and out of my mouth.

Wrapping the head around a magical run will take time.   I am sitting here, talking about team without the true knowledge that THE ST LOUIS CARDINALS ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPS.  You see, it still doesn’t sound right…yet.   To me, we are still complaining and explaining as usual.   A few days from now I’ll understand that our team went on a magical run that started around September 14th and ended on October 28th.   45 days of great baseball that I will never forget.  Vinny has stories for a long time.
“Vinny, this would be the night that La Russa failed to remember who was throwing in the bullpen”
“This is the night where Carpenter shut down the opposition”
“This is the night where a former drunk and dropout David Freese lit up St. Louis.”
“Albert Pujols is a God among men.”

Troy’s sister Bianca told me he was up there making things hard on us just like old times, but that he would bring out a happy ending.   He is truly missed today.   I would have loved to include him in the text-email chain gang.

Fuck anyone who attempts to take our title away in 2012.  I like our chances.   Kudos to Ron Washington and the Rangers.  I don’t have a bad word for that team.   Except for Nolan Ryan needs to lose weight and the camera needs to stay away from his face.

So long because it’s time for breakfast,

Buffa

World Series Intrigue(2 Part Blast)

The initial blast at 10am-

A mini Buffa Blast begins now…
Last night’s unbelievable comeback was the best game I have ever seen, scoreboard days or at home.   A 4.5 hour nail biting, frustrating, nailbiting and ultimately satisfying win.    Everything about the season came into play last night.   Horrible defense, bad starting pitching, a lack of early clutch hitting, and back and forth scoreboard changes.    The 2011 Cards showed up in full proof form and made us sweat until midnight.   David Freese, the hometown hero who gave up on baseball and came back to it only to arrive in St. Louis for the departed Jim Edmonds and become a World Series hero.  After dropping a pop up earlier in the game that led to a run, Freese redeemed himself in the greatest fashion.   Out of all the monsters in our lineup, who could have guessed the former alcoholic injury prone hometown kid would be the Rangers slayer.   If baseball was a video game, Freese wouldn’t be gaining points, he’d be winning back brain cells.   His home run was the greatest postseason home run since Jim Edmonds walkoff shot in Game 6 of the NLCS in 2004.  Down to their last strike twice, the Cards came back and won, 10-9 on two huge Freese hits and a Lance Berkman single.   I have a lot more to say and I will try here.  This will have to do.  Waking up this morning to a Game 7 was bittersweet.   Tonight brings elevated joy or a small collapse into sadness.  One thing is for sure.   I will never forget Game 6 from the 2011 World Series.  It will live on as one of the greatest of all time.  Buster Olney called it the greatest of all time.   Bill Simmons said he called the matchup of “Darren Oliver and Kyle Lohse in the 10th inning” all day.   Heroes are made in October.   David Freese became one this month.  

I love this team.   Everything about them.  Easily the greatest stretch of play I’ve seen in my lifetime.  On the biggest stage in sports, the Cardinals are coming up with some of the most dramatically entertaining baseball.   How about another round of calculated torture for the masses tonight?  Every Cardinal fan walks up to the bar of temptation today and asks for another drink.   One more drink and then I’m gone. 

Game 6 goats are Jaime Garcia for pitching 3 innings and handing back a lead.   Garcia threw 63 pitches through 3 and made several mistakes.   A rough end to his season.  Rangers starter Colby Lewis outpitched him.   Matt Holliday broke up a key double play at second in the 6th inning but dropped a crucial fly ball in left field and got picked off third base in a rally.   Holliday needs to sit tonight in favor of the hotter hitting Allen Craig, who hit a solo homer off Derek Holland in the 8th inning.  Albert Pujols wore the collar until he started the 9th inning rally with a double.  Jason Motte got beat for a 2 run homer in the 10th off Josh Hamilton.  Rafael Furcal continued his horrible hitting, failing to spark at the top of the lineup.   While I like him in there for defense, Furcal has to get on base to set up the big bats. 

Game 3 heroes, silent and loud.   After Freese, Berkman has 3 hits, including a 2 run homer in the first and a game tying single in the 10th inning.   Jake Westbrook pitched a scoreless 11th inning and picked up the win.   Tony La Russa managed a good game, pulled the right strings and didn’t overthink his motives tonight.  Well managed game from the dugout.  A bizarre Game 5 loss featuring some of Tony’s greatest demons produced an impressive Game 6 recovery. 

This team has been fighting for the last 7 weeks.   Being casted off in late August by everyone(including myself), left for dead and bleeding, the Cards stormed back to win the Wild Card, upset the Phillies and the Brewers, and have taken The Rangers, seeking their first World Series in 40 years, to Game 7 with lesser pitching, a hurting bullpen and a streaky lineup.   If this team doesn’t inspire you, there’s no blood running through your veins and pumping your heart my friends.   Game 6 decisions are what every kid dreams about as a kid, what every adult craves and what every writer(low key like myself included) dream to cover.  All I thought about last night after Freese’s homer sailed into the grass was the words I would use to describe it.   Let’s look ahead and end this thing.

What does Game 7 look like?  Good for the Cards.   Chris Carpenter is pitching tonight, and carries the shaved head bearded look of a man looking to close down the series.   Classic Carp needs to show up tonight.   Rangers players Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz hurt themselves last night and join the list of the walking wounded.    Ron Washington wore out his bullpen and roster last night.   He made some gutsy calls and they backfired, proving every decision by a manager comes down to the players backing up their thinking.    Opposing Carp is Game 3 starter Matt Harrison, whom the Cards beat up for 6 runs.   The tables aren’t set against the Rangers, but a common thought running through my head last night as we came back was, “If the Cards manage to win this game, Game 7 will seem like a walk in the park.”   You never know in baseball, so all bets are off.   However, if I had house money, it would be on the Cards.   They carry a Rocky mentality right now.  A never say die inner strength.  Every time they get knocked down, we think they are done and start wrapping up the season in our minds.  Then, like the Philidephia bruiser, this team gets back up, throws a big punch and gets back into the fight, asking for more.   The 2011 Cardinals are hard to count out because they are so hard to knock out.  

I said it before and I’ll say it again my friends.   This team wasn’t expected to win anything but now has the chance to win everything.   Amazing.  Unlike anything I’ve seen in my 29 years on this planet. 

Thanks for playing and Go Cards!

Tonight, we play for the prize.  The ultimate distinction of champion of your sport.  Do or die begins at 7pm.   Are you ready?  I am more than willing to sacrifice another night to the Rogues in Red. 

Let’s finish the job!

-Dan L. Buffa
aka Dream

The Follow up At 4pm-

Adron Chambers in for Matt Holliday for Game 7

A solid move based on the condition of Holliday, who left Thursday’s game with a bruised ego and sprained wrist.   Holliday has dealt with a variety of injuries all season, starting with an appendectomy in May, back issues August, leg injuries in September and a right hand issue in October.  The injuries have zapped his power(no homers in last 101 abs) and limited him heavily in the World Series, where he is 3-19 with a ton of runners left on base.   This isn’t a smack to Holliday, one of the better all around players in the game.  Missing 38 games in the regular season, Holliday still hit .296 with 22 home runs, 75 RBI, .388 on base percentage and 36 doubles.   He is a bargain in left field, especially after the Crawford and Werth retarded deals.   Holliday plays harder than anyone on the team and did everything he could.  Right now, he isn’t healthy, effective or the right choice.  He sits.  Chambers gives team speed and a decent at bat.

Chris Carpenter in for Game 7 against Harrison, offiically

Matt Harrison only allowed 3 earned runs on Saturday, but he threw 73 pitches in 3.2 innings and looked weak.  Harrison is a 4th arm in the rotation and went 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA in the regular season.  He hasn’t pitched over 5 innings in a start since early September.   Carpenter is working on 3 days rest but is still the best option for the Cards.   He is an intense competitor and will be able to adjust to a less than sharper array of pitches.   Carp is the general and he gets the ball because he carries the highest win probability on the Cards and shut the Rangers down in Game 1 and 5.   In 13 innings pitched in the World Series, Carp has allowed 4 earned runs and 11 hits to go with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks.  He is the better option over Lohse and Jackson, who produced little in their starts resembling quality.  Carpenter gives you an edge that can’t be prescribed per notice.

Remaining Factors

*Should Cruz have caught Holliday’s drive in right?  People are debating this IN ST. LOUIS this morning so much?  First thing, it was hit to the right field wall.  Cruz didn’t get a good jump and when he did jumped out for it, he missed it.   Why is this a big issue?  It worked out well for Cards and made Freese a temporary hero.  This should only catch fire in Texas.

*Again, Matt Holliday is hurt and can’t contribute much other than a walk at the plate.  He is banged up and that comes from playing a hard 9 every night.  He broke up a key double play in the 6th, drew 2 walks last night and while he was picked off third, his presence was felt.  When he left, we rallied but I miss him on the roster.  He had a rough 2011 season due to injury, something that didn’t affect him during 2009 and 2010, when he played 156 and 158 games respectively.  If Holliday is hurt and is ineffective, that’s the reason he is resting tonight.  He’ll be hungry in 2012 and his role may be a lot bigger.

*For all the people bashing Pujols, remember he started the rally in the 9th inning with a double.   Also, let’s stop the “Except for Game 3” slaps.  Its a valid point but remember what he did in Game 3.  He turned a 8-6 game into a 16-7 slaughter with 3 home runs.  For the ones who want to sit Albert because of his lack of hitting, don’t forget he is the complete package.   Defense, clutch hitting and an ability to take over a game.   Also, the ultimate team player.  See him on the top step of the dugout during rallies like a leader?  Albert Pujols is baseball, people.

*Watching last night’s game, you got the feeling that the Rangers were losing the grip on the game and their abilities.  Cruz fading back on the ball.   Washington pinch hitting for his best reliever Scott Feldman after letting Colby Lewis hit for himself earlier.  If Wash lets Feldman hit, the game is still tied but his best bullpen arm is still pitching.  Big loss of thought that brought up Wash’s lack of experience even when considering last year’s Rangers World Series trip.   The Cards got better as the game went along while the Rangers started to lose it.  That’s because the Rangers thought the game was won in the 9th inning.  After struggling to be dominant in the series, Naftali Feliz blew a save and his team unraveled.

*Allen Craig playing for Holliday is a plus because Craig is swinging a good bat right now.  He can work a long count and punish a mistake.  He homered in the first off Harrison in Game 3.  While hitting 2nd in front of Albert is a decent thought, keeping Craig’s bat down below in the 7th hole aka The Freese launch pad, is also deadly.  Think about.  Power down below.

*Lineup for the final game needs to roll like this.

Furcal-SS, Skip-CF, Pujols-lB, Berkman-RF, Freese-3B, Molina-C, Craig-LF, Theriot-2B, Carp-P

Enough with lefties facing lefties.   Skip is swinging a good bat and has a better arm in center than Jay.   Theriot gets the nod over Punto, who has had a terrible playoff at the plate.

*The greatest thing about winning Game 6 is hearing the chatter today.  Agree with it or not, it’s good to hear it around town.  Walking into a gas station and hearing about where people were at, talking to the UPS guy at work about him taking his son to it and telling the kid he could stay home from school or hearing the grocery ladies jabbering about the celebration.   The Cardinals are battling for the ultimate price.  Champions.  Love the talk around town about team.

I’ll say it again.  Win or lose, I love this team and what they have done.  The ride they have taken us on the past month will be hard to match next season or in the future.  From the cellar to the captain’s chair in 7 weeks.  Amazing.  This is something to remember tonight after the last out, win or lose.  Remember what this team did in 2011.  It means something.  Correction-It Means Everything.  It is better to have loved and got burned than not loved at all.

Play ball, ladies and gents.  Thanks for reading.  Take your meds, be patient and don’t quit on this team.   The population of Rangers jerseys and cheers early on last night told me a lot of Cards fans bailed on their seats with their team down 3-2.  They missed the greatest game of all time.  Don’t quit on this team until the final out.  They deserve the attention.

Tonight, it all ends.

Goodnight,

D.L.B.

South STL  Nerve Center aka Voice of the People

 

Quick Hits on Topics

Since Boredom knows my name very well at the moment, I am going to pound out a few thoughts here on lunch. One of those occasions where you have nothing to do so you create an idea. Writing is basically putting thoughts, ideas and images into words. I’ll make this quick.

Last Thoughts on Tony La Russa’s bullpen meltdown/malfunction
Quite honestly, it’s hard not to believe Tony when he explains the miscues and blunders he went through trying to get the right arms to the mound in Monday’s brutal loss. For the first time in a few years, La Russa wasn’t a jerk to the media, sat there and took his punches. When has he ever been so candid and forthcoming with the question and answer session. Instead of telling us he made a move and it didn’t work out, he said it was a horrible night. That’s amazing in itself. La Russa failing to be able to digest his own genius. He threw most of the shots at the podium, calling the night “an embarrassment” and “my house of horrors”. Think about it? Monday night was the worst time in the history of the Cardinals for a manager to have a breakdown. For Cards fans, we aren’t surprised because this is what Tony exercises on a daily basis. His plan didn’t work because he wasn’t paying attention. In a key spot in the game, he made a phone call to the bullpen for a certain group of pitchers to warm up. Octavio Dotel was the first arm, followed by Rzep if there was trouble and Jason Motte in case any serious threat arrived. Dotel gave up a leadoff double, struck out Cruz and was ordered to walk a batter and step down. There was the first fault. Dotel is very effective against right handers and Tony sank the hook into him too soon. This is where he called for Rzep to come in and for Motte to play catch. The bullpen coach didn’t hear Motte. Why didn’t Tony look out and wonder why there was no one out there? He had made 2,300 pitching changes in his career and didn’t feel the need. By the time Motte was needed, Rzep was facing trouble and Lynn was coming in even though he threw 47 pitches on Saturday and was shut down for the night. For a detailed look at Tony’s answers and issues, here’s Jayson Stark’s column from ESPN.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2011/story/_/id/7149522/2011-world-series-tony-la-russa-st-louis-cardinals-takes-full-blame-bullpen-phone-mix-up

Game 6 Intrigue
*What does the postponement mean for the Cardinals? It sets up Game 6 and 7 with their best arms. Jaime Garcia takes the mound tonight and Chris Carpenter has the chance to pitch on 3 days rest tomorrow for a possible game 7. Historically, pitchers on 3 days rest don’t fare so well, but this is a different situation that requires alternate thinking. Does any honest Cards fan want Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson taking the mound in Game 7 to decide the season? NO. Handing something important to Lohse is like handing a bomb to a little baby. Bad news. Carp said he is set for Game 7 if it happens, so that plan is set. Never mind what comes out of La Russa’s mouth.
Back to Game 6 Questions-
*Which Jaime Garcia shows up in Game 6? Garcia shut down the Rangers in Game 2 by keeping the ball down and putting the Rangers off balance at the plate. Breaking ball away and fastball up at the letters to go with a decent slider. Can he do it again? Garcia has 2 great starts in the postseason and 2 bad starts. He is a puzzle that can’t be solved these days. He’ll cruise through 4-5 innings and hit a wall of mental chaos in the 6th inning. There’s no telling which Garcia shows up tonight, so all hands need to be on deck in the bullpen.
*The Cards #1 and 2 hitters need to get on base so they have to pitch to Albert Pujols. That’s his best protection.
*Which Albert Pujols shows up? If he happens to see a pitch to hit, Albert needs to do damage tonight. If Ron Washington can’t put him anywhere and he gets a chance to swing the bat, Pujols delivers or this team fails. Track our offense and Pujols is right around the same mark. Albert was 5-6 with 3 home runs in Game 3 but is 0-12 with 5 intentional walks elsewhere in the World Series. That’s tough numbers to win with. Will Albert Pujols get a happy ending before his contract talks begin? Pujols last couple games carry equal measures of fortune and fame.

*Can Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman cash in on Ron Washington walking Albert? When Albert reaches first base, can the cleanup bats behind him make the Texas manager pay for his free pass allowance? Holliday is battling leg injuries and can’t produce an extra base hit for his life and Berkman hasn’t hit a home run in a long time. Each hitter is having a bad World Series stat wise. Holliday failed twice in key spots in Monday’s Game 5 to bring in more runs and Berkman has come up flat as well. Players like Freese, Berkman and Holliday will determine if Washington is a genius or a moron.
*Derek Holland will not start Game 7, according to manager Ron Washington. As of right now, Washington is going with Harrison, the starter from Game 3, whom the Cards clobbered for 6 runs. Washington is sticking to his postseason rotation and will not throw the ultimate wrench into the Cards path if they starve off elimination tonight. Holland is a nasty lefthander who went 16-5 during the season with 165 strikeouts and 195 innings pitched and treated the Cards like worn down minor leaguers in Game 3. This is a huge advantage for the Cards.
*Win or lose my friends, and I won’t be disappointed with the 2011 Cardinals. You can’t be disappointed. Look at what this team has accomplished this season and you have to be amazed and frustrated at the same time. A long season of up’s and down’s concludes in an unlikely playoff berth on the last play of the night in a Phillies game, propels us into a series with the Phillies and we manage to not just get past them but also defeat the Brewers in 6 games to reach the World Series for the 18th time. Now, our backs are against the wall and there is no team that plays better with that position than the Cards. Rest easy and be impressed with what you see. Tonight will be fun and while we all want more and seek the gold, appreciate the effort this team has produced…..then again…

If you make it to the World Series and seemingly outplayed the other team, you might want to win the whole damn thing. That’s right, the Cards have only been thoroughly outplayed one time in this series. Holland’s Game 4 masterpiece. Game 2 was a 9th inning blowup. Game 5 was a complete failure on the lineups part to produce clutch hits. The Cards have been just as good in this series yet sit one game back. A few coaching decisions and huge hits separate these two teams. If the Cards want their 11th World Series trophy, they will have to reach out and grab these last two games by the throat. Play like there’s no paycheck waiting if you don’t. Play like it’s the last day you’ll step on a field. Win it because millions of fans’ moods are hanging on your performance. That’s the thing about sports. They raise you up out of the mundane, pick you out of the ordinary, and put you on a temporaily pedestal that feels pretty good. The Cards are playing for a lot more than themselves tonight. They’re playing for a city of fans with needs.

Other S.T.L. Sports Team News-

*The Blues win again on the road and improve to 5-4. This is the 4th win in a row after the dreadful 5-0 defeat in L.A.. “Backup” goalie Brian Elliot, a journeyman goaltender who spent time in Buffalo recently, has taken this time from a disappointing start to a promising quick comeback by stabilizing the goaltending behind this team. He is 4-0 with a 1.59 goals against average and a .950 save percentage in 4 starts. Now, one can’t expect a backup to maintain this level of play over a month but it’s refreshing to see what this team can do when given solid goaltending. Halak couldn’t provide that in the early going and now Elliot has filled a weak gap. When Halak was giving up 4 goals on 18 shots, the Blues were hopeless and losing. Elliot stopped 32 shots last night and has faced more action and threats from teams and played better. Is this how the season was supposed to go, Blues fans? I’d guess not, but you can’t take your eyes off this team. While not being the vocal point of the city at the moment, the Blues are proving with the right pieces they can win. Alex Steen has 5 goals on the season and Matt D’Agostini is a league leading plus 9 on the ice. With the play of Elliot, the Blues have found out what was missing early on. How long does Elliot keep Halak on the bench and can the Blues keep this up? We’ll see. I won’t be the first one to tell you Halak needs to take over the team but you can’t sit Elliot while this streak is alive.

*Rams QB Sam Bradford is still in a walking boot with his high ankle sprain, so don’t expect him on the field this weekend against New Orleans. Cue the slaughter. If the Saints scored 62 points on a Peyton Manning less Colts team, what happens to the Rams on Sunday in their home dome? Drew Brees is going to light up this injury depleted average secondary and Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is going to bring the heat on the blitz packages. What happened to this team between the Seattle playoff game in December and the game on Sunday against the Cowboys? The Rams are back to be being terrible and pathetic after one season of inspired improved football. With Bradford on the field, we were 0-5 and getting slammed. The Rams are the doormat of the NFL again and it doesn’t feel good. What next? You don’t draft Andrew Luck. Bradford is the answer but just like the Colts are finding out, a team needs to be fully loaded with talent and not dependent on one player’s contributions. Expect another beatdown this weekend to set this team up at 0-8 going into the home game against the Arizona Cardinals, the first team we have a small chance of beating. I wish the Rams secondary and QB A.J. Feeley luck this weekend in slowing down the Saints.

Random Bits-

*Small Things about Vinny. Amazing how babies possess unique qualities. When he was in the hospital, Vinny was felt up by at least 5 nurses. That’s right. My kid is starting early on the lady charm. Vinny has the ability to turn his asshole into a minature chocolate ice cream machine. Vinny’s grip is stronger than Chuck Norris’ pinkie finger. Vinny gets anything he wants whenever he wants it. A bottle or warm outfit is one scream away. Wouldn’t it be nice to be swaddled for the night? Yes. Vinny squats off my chest like he is in the Olympics. Vinny wins every staring contest. Kid’s got eyeballs that could change a terrorist’s mind. Anyway, my kid’s pretty cute and acquiring abilities by the day. To be continued.
*There isn’t an actor in Hollywood more comfortable in his own skin than Johnny Depp. Depp plays the weirdest, wildest and most original characters of all time. Depp stars in The Rum Diary this weekend, a movie about a gonzo journalist’s mad intent to find a story in Puerto Rico while fighting off crooked businessman’s wives and the alluring sensation of rum. He gets to be his wild crazy self here. Watching the trailer, you understand there isn’t any other actor in Hollywood who can play the role better than Depp. He is the reason to see it. One of his amazing qualities is being able to slip into character without changing his look too much. Aside from his Jack Sparrow routine, Depp pretty much looks like Depp yet is a great actor. The Rum Diary is Hunter S. Thompson semi autobiographical(based loosely on his own experiences) short story and will make for a wild, uneven yet original ride. Count me in.

*Would it be too weird for Vincent to adopt the voice of Jason Statham while he’s a baby?

*Something to talk about? Pediphiles….I’m kidding.

*Something that doesn’t need further explanation. Amy Winehouse’s death. She died of alcohol poisoning, aka drank herself to death. She had 5 times the amount of alcohol in her system that is legal to drive under while willowing away in her home. She died in a sea of vodka bottles and shame. Thinking of her death, I keep replaying Frank Sinatra’s fateful line. “I did it my way.”

*The Next Iron Chef is a must watch for Food Network fans because this year’s edition is labeled, “Super Chefs”. All the chefs we see on the network will come together to get the ultimate label of Iron Chef. My money is on Robert Irvine, my favorite Brit in the kitchen and star of Restaurant Impossible. It premieres this Sunday at 8pm.

*Also this Sunday at 8pm on HBO is Boardwalk Empire. One of the most underrated and brutal shows on cable television. In one hour, a man had his face smashed in and another was scalped and it never seemed out of place with the story. That’s great writing and acting. The ability to stay within the confines of the story when violence or sexual content is on display. I highly recommend this show for its cold heart towards the Pre-Great Depression Era of Prohibition. A cold heart goes a long way in storytelling.

Also hot on TV right now. HBO’s Hung, Showtime’s Dexter and FX’s Sons of Anarchy. It’s all good well acted and written juicy stories.

That’s it folks. Go Cards! Do or die tonight begins in three and a half hours. It’s time to get out of work, medicate and relax. This is going to be a long night.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

Cards Recap And More

Lets get things moving with a quick Cards recap from Game 5’s tough defeat.  Quick it will shall be.  How much time does this team deserve at this point?  Putting down the cuddly hammer and picking up a dull knife. 

The Cards Lose Game 5, 4-2, and fall 3 games to 2 in the World Series.   Could the remarkable run be coming to an end on Wednesday at home with Jaime Garcia on mound?  That potential fatal dilemma can be saved for another day.  Lets see why we lost tonight. 

Chief Reason-The lineup went completely limp, flatlining in Game 5 just as they did in Game 4, plus a couple of 2nd inning runs.   Check the scoreboard and The Cards have scored 2 runs in 18 innings since plowing through the Rangers 16-7 in Game 3.   The Texas Rangers, as predicted by many, took 2 of 3 in Texas and did so by reacting better than the Cards, pitching better and coming up with more clutch hits.  Mike Napoli has taken over this series, hitting home runs in the first game, cranking a pivotal 3 run shot off Mitchell Boggs in Game 4 and hitting a go ahead 2 run double tonight.  He also threw Allen Craig out twice at second(more on that later).   The Cards aren’t delivering in clutch spots.  They went 1-12 with RISP tonight, which is downright pathetic.  As my good friend and Cards nerve center colleague Pj noted, we didn’t deserve to win Game 5 because we wasted so many opportunities to build on an early 2-0 lead.  Chris Carpenter pitched sharp, went 7 innings, allowed 2 runs on 7 hits but couldn’t shut out the Rangers.   Texas can hit, reach base, and play with your head.  The Cardinals lineup has been befuddled by Derek Holland, Cj Wilson(bend yet don’t break starts), and the Rangers bullpen in Games 4 and 5.  We mustered 2 hits last night and 5 hits tonight.  2 runs and 7 hits in 18 innings, ladies and gentlemen.   The main reason the Cards are down 3-2 is because the bats went cold.

The pitching has been fine.   Edwin Jackson walked 7 yet restricted the Rangers from blowing it open for 6 innings.   Carpenter pitched very well tonight.   Boggs and Rzepcynszki made mistakes but did so against a good hitter in Napoli.   The bullpen was going to wear down after carrying the team in the NLCS.   The pitching has been there and only Kyle Lohse has been hit very hard in this series.

Game 1-Carp goes 6, holds Rangers to 2 runs, wins

Game 2-Garcia pitches superbly, going 7 strong, striking out and allowing no runs, No decision

Game 3-Lohse nearly blows 5-0 lead, gets pulled in the 4th inning.

Game 4-Jackson goes 5.1, gives up 3 runs, walks 7 but limits damage in gutsy performance

Game 5-Carpenter goes 7, allows 2 runs and gives team chance(the elbow soreness issue is dead, right?)

The bats have disappeared and if they don’t return, the Cards are done.  Jaime Garcia can’t be expected to allow no runs in 7 innings again.  The lineup will have to find a way to hit Colby Lewis, the one pitcher in Texas’ rotation who pitches to contact with marginal stuff.   Wilson and Holland are beasts in the rotation, but Lewis is the hittable arm who stifled us in Game 2.   He keeps the silent treatment intact and Garcia’s arm won’t matter.

Main Idea-The Cards had numerous chance to break this game open.  Tons of opportunities lost.   Matt Holliday grounded out twice with 2 runners in scoring position.  Nick Punto failed twice at the plate to bring in a runner from third base.  This wasn’t clutch.

Stop complaining about Allen Craig getting thrown out at second.   The first one was a supposedly hit and run play put on by Albert and it failed.  He took a pitch in the 6th inning and Craig got hosed by Napoli.  There would be no reason to steal second with Albert up because Texas skipper Ron Washington would walk him.  He intentionally walked AP three times.   Craig had to moving on a hit and run.   In the 9th inning, Albert swung through a 3-2 pitch 5 inches off the plate and Craig, going on pitch, was gunned down again.   Hit and runs are put on because the Cards grounded into 160 double plays this season.   La Russa wasn’t wrong in this decision.

Here’s who I blame.  Albert Pujols.   Lets look at the big guy.   He was 5-6 in Game 3 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, and 4 runs scored.  In the other 4 games, he is 0-12 with 5 intentional walks.  Albert worked a 0-2 count off shaky Rangers reliever Feliz in the 9th to a 3-2 count but swung at 3 straight pitches off the strike zone.   Why? Hit and run or not, Albert needs to recognize a ball and take it for ball 4 and let Craig walk to second.  Instead, Albert swings at ball 4 and Craig gets gunned down.   Momentum dead.  Pujols is having an alright series off the work in one game.  He has been missing in every other game.  He needs to show up big in Game 6 or we will drown.  When Albert hits like we all know he can, the Cards win.   When he fails in big spots, we lose.

Unfortunate Stat #1-The Texas Rangers haven’t lost back to back games in their last 44 games.

Unfortunate Stat #2-The Cards were given 9 walks in Game 5 but only pushed one of them across plate. 4 of those walks were intentional, so don’t praise the Cards hitters.

Unfortunate Stat #3-Derek Holland’s porn stache is real.

Unfortunate Stat #4-Tim McCarver is a fucking moron.  Game 4 slip up-“The Cardinals barely won the Wild Card, and didn’t even finish first in their division.”  Ouch!  Game 5 slip up-“Pujols caught Craig in corner of his eye and had to swing to protect him.”  NO TIM!  He had a 3-2 count and another pitched sailed outside and he swung at it.  He takes it and there are 2 on and no out.

The Cards didn’t take good at bats in Games 4 and 5 and lost because of their impatience and intolerance for big hits.

Sunday the Cards got outpitched and shut down by a talented lefty finding his groove.  Game 5, the Cards had EVERY chance to get a big lead and wasted every opportunity.  Sad, sad terrible news.

However, the series isn’t over yet.  No team in baseball plays better with their backs against the wall than the 2011 Cardinals.  Savor the flavor of defeat and all its friends, but get ready for Wednesday’s sudden death match.   More on that later. One more thing.  Worry about Game 6.  Stop talking about Game 7.  One game at a time my friends.   Game 7 is about as real right now as Santa Claus delivering me a bag of italian roast this Christmas.  I have to buy it myself.  The Cards will have to earn a right to play in Game 7.

Other News Bits-

  • The Blues are starting Brian Elliot in net on Wednesday.   The right call.  Play the hot hand at all times.  Oldest rule in sports book.   Forget feelings and try your best to win.  Jaroslav Halak is being taken to school right now on the bench.  I like the Blues chances of winning and Halak’s chances of learning a thing or two.
  • The Rams suck.   Plain and simple.  Losing by 27 points to the Cowboys was no surprise but the sting still caught our hearts.   Without Sam Bradford, the offense was stale and the defense got shredded on the ground and in the air.   This team may not win a single game outside Seattle this year.  Next up-The New Orleans Saints, who killed(using a rocket launcher) the Colts on Sunday night 62-7.  So bad, MU alum Chase Daniel took snaps in the third quarter after Brees had 6 touchdown passes and exceeded his fantasy points limit.  Make the record 0-7.
  • Reggie Bush throwing his team under the bus.   This is nothing new with the Bust Bush.  He is averaging 3.9 yards on ground, has fumbled 3 times and scored 1 touchdown on a pass.  Shut up Reggie.  Your Pizza Hut commercials are crap.  You are a horrible fantasy pick.
  • NetFlix losses 800,000 customers.   Why?  They insanely raised their prices in one day and called themselves out on it.  In a modern age of Redbox $1 dollar rentals and cable lore, Netflix gambled wrong.  I dropped Netflix and subscribed to Blockbuster for $7.50 per month to get any movie/game I want for as long as I want.   Change didn’t do Netflix good.  Crash and burn.
  • Tonight, after work, I ran 13.2 miles.   Pure challenge.  I’ve been running 3-4 miles on lunch for the past 2 years with occasional 7-9 mile bursts and didn’t train up for this run.  I just did it.  The results were mixed.  I barely made it to the end and am sore from head to toe right now.  I did it in 2 hours, 44 minutes but it seemed like 3 days and the run registered to my body like 30 miles.   However, I am happy I challenged myself and love the taste of ibuprofen and the feel of a warm blanket.  I got back to my car, developed chills, a headache, a thirst quest and was sore all over but…I am glad I did it.  Sometimes, people, you have to challenge yourself for no reason known to man or woman.  Just do it.
  • If I have to see the Jennifer Lopez FIAT spot one more time on FOX, I may stab a kid with a pencil in the shoulder.   The first few times it was okay and passable.  Now, I see her big ass in that tiny car, talking about her rise in Brooklyn and I feel like turning her off and giving that car seat some BenGay.   Fiats suck by the way.   Old school that needed to stay in the basement.
  • It’s a known fact, but banks own us in this world.   That will never change.   Student loans, house loans, car loans and credit cards all contain interest that entraps us for life.   Forget about gangsters, doctors and GOD.   Banks own this world.  This popped into my head the other day and didn’t leave.
  • Anyone notice gas is going down yet staying up?  No.  That’s what I thought.  The last thing I pay attention to are gas prices unless they jump 50 cents in 2 days.  Same as the weather.  Hope for good and prepare for the worst.
  • We are reading Vincent books now.   He can’t understand a word but he likes the sound of our voices and goes to sleep on them.   Ducks, pigs, dogs or fish.  Any story about love, hugging and relaxing does the trick.  Main problem…spit ups at random.   That’s the unpredictable nature of your kids.   Awaiting danger and fighting off sleep.

Speaking of which, I’m going to go get a few hours of rest.   My body is aching and my mind is shot.   It’s time to pull this latest blog in for an edit and shut things down for the night.  Be safe tomorrow and come back again.

Thanks for reading,

D.L.B.

The Daily Breakdown

Let’s cut the opening chat and get right down to the daily dose of Buffa Opinion.   This isn’t celebrated talk but it is freshly squeezed from the brutally honest section.   Eyes wanted yet not required.  Ready, set, go!

2011 World Series, Game 3 Recap-Pujols Greatness Arrives in Texas

A series of heroes rescued the Cards after a Game 2 meltdown, but the list begins and ends with one man.   Albert Pujols.  Once again, Pujols put on full display to the world why he is the best player in baseball and why he deserves the greatest contract.   If dollars and cents connected with long balls and great swings, Albert Pujols cashed in at the bank last night.   After a mild controversy about avoiding the media after Game 2, Albert Pujols put on a show again that no one will soon forget.   It’s a common thing these days for Albert to turn around a slow start(0-6 in first two games) into a monstrous display of power and consistency.  He put together the greatest game in World Series history, slugging 3 home runs and a pair of singles to equal 5 RBI and singlehandedly turn a 8-6 grinder into a 16-7 destruction in Arlington last night.  With Nolan Ryan, George W. Bush and the Rangers faithful looking on as the Rangers attempted to come back from an early 5-0 hole, Pujols cranked a 3 run homer in the 5th inning to make it 11-6 Cards.  He smashed a solo homer in the 7th and another in the 9th to stretch the lead to 9 runs and officially put down the Rangers in their own house.  The amazing part about Pujols this team is that he is having these amazing games on the road in the playoffs.   In Game 2 against Milwaukee, he exploded for 2 home runs and 4 hits to redirect the momentum in the series.   Here, in Texas, in Game 3, he redirected the energy after a demoralizing loss in Game 2 in which he played a key role.  Pujols is the classic adjuster, transforming his performance to rig another game changing explosion.   How is this guy still surprising us?  Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he wants to outlaw Albert, and that’s the only way to stop him.   Put a bat in Albert’s hands and a ballsy pitcher on the mound, and he will destroy baseballs.   Last night, a line from Rounders came to mind.  From the mouth of Teddy KGB(John Malkovich) after Matt Damon’s poker player defeated him after an all night game of cards.   “Pay the man his money.  He beat me straight up.”   Attention, John Mozelaik, were you paying attention last night?  Remember it clear as day and mark it down.  Pay Albert his money.   Get the check ready, the keys set to hand over and get it done quickly.   You don’t let a piece of gold walk away.  For 11 seasons now, Albert has constantly redefined the word “amazing” in a Cardinals uniform.

Other Heroes and Keys to Last Night’s Game-

*Bring the bats.   The Cards banged out 22 hits and 16 runs in 4 hours last night, rescuing a bad start by Lohse and a rough performance by Fernando Salas in the pen.   In the 3rd inning, this game was already 5-3 Cards with nobody out.   After two nail biting games, the bats finally reached the ground and tore up pitching so much one thought a crash cart was being rolled out in the 7th inning stretch last night.   EMT’s were being lodged in the bullpens instead of arms.   The Rangers didn’t back down early, turning a 5-0 deficit into 5-3 and a 8-3 deficit into a 8-6 contest before Pujols took out the shotgun.   The bats will continue to play a part today as two talented yet vulnerable arms in Edwin Jackson and Derek Holland take the mound.   Each throw hard and challenge hitters, which means more runs and hits and manager mind games will follow.   The fireworks aren’t over yet.

*Credit Lance Lynn with sticking the tranquilizer into the Rangers last night.   He pitched 2.1 innings and only allowed 1 run to finally put an end to the Rangers fighting spirit.  Lynn is a talented weapon out of the bullpen, throwing 95 mph heat with a decent 80 mph curve to back it up.  A starter at Memphis transformed into a late inning stopper, Lynn has been a breath of fresh air for an aching bullpen.   He’s the silent hero last night.

*I’m tired of hearing about the call last night at first base where Matt Holliday was out but called safe, leading to 4 runs by the Cards.   Umpires can’t get every call right and are having a pretty good series making close tough calls.  Let’s not forget Mike Napoli fired a horrible toss from first base that allowed 2 runs to score on a one hop grounder.   That was the big play of the inning.   Umpires aren’t perfect and wont make every call and the Cards won’t be the recipient of every wrong call.

*Yes, the Thursday collapse still lingers in my mind.   The one thing I can’t get away from is pulling Motte for Rhodes and conceding the run to Texas.   Here’s to hoping Motte gets a shot to clear his head tonight on the mound and shut down the game.

*Prediction for tonight’s game.  Today’s game will be another slugfest but there is a small chance of Jackson coming through and delivering 6 to 7 solid innings.  He will have Jake Westbrook backing him up just in case but he could really put a charge into this team and provide the bullpen with some rest.   Jackson is really good when he mixes up his assortment of pitches, throwing more power sinkers and changeups.   When he starts firing fastballs 95 percent of the time in the 1st inning, he gets into trouble.  The entire series, we have seen the Rangers are susceptible to good offspeed pitching.   Can Jackson get that done?  We will see.  I still think the bats will stand tall tonight for either team.  A 8-5 game is likely, but that doesn’t mean Jackson can’t provide innings.   We need innings tonight and good ones.   He is pitching for a contract for next season so the kid better listen to Duncan and keep the damn ball down.  That’s where his effectiveness lies.   Down in the zone, throwing sinkers in the dirt and fastballs above the letters to set up a nasty changeup.   He sticks to a gameplan and he is fine.  If not, bombs away!

Albert Pujols and Company Avoiding the Media

Reports came in Friday morning that Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and other vets left the clubhouse last night after the game without giving the media their 5 minutes.   I didn’t like this news.   Professional athletes in the modern era have to answer the media’s questions.  Its part of the 16 million dollar package.   Don’t run from the media.   If Albert truly ran, I have a problem.   Hearing him today come right up to the media hounds in Texas and debate his case provided answers.  If we are to believe the guy, here is his answer.  He waited for 40 minutes for the media to find him.   There’s a code in sports these days that the media has to notify the team rep that they want to speak with Albert or another player.  Nobody contacted the Cards guy, Brian.   Albert said he stuck around for awhile, showered, ate something and never got a request. Is he telling the truth?  Is that his fault?  Look, the guy isn’t going to be cleaning off a seat for the media after a horrible loss.   It’s not happening.  However, professionals follow code and I don’t think Albert veered off to far here.   It was wrong to leave the rookies to feud off the reporters, but if the writers don’t request these guys, they can’t complain too much.   If he wasn’t requested to talk at the podium and he waited for the opportunity to be circumsized by the media, can we get mad at him?  I decide to stop after a brief complaint.  This isn’t heavy news, but it was worth a look.  Veterans are expected to speak after a win or loss, but there isn’t a horrible crime in Pujols failing to stand outside waiting for the media.

Tim Tebow Fury

Look, I’m a Tim Tebow fan.  I have been since his sophomore year at Florida, in the middle of his record setting tenure with the Gators.   He won two national championships(beating Rams QB Sam Bradford in one Rose Bowl) and winning the Heisman.   He was selected 25th in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by The Broncos and Rams offensive coordinator(then head coach) Josh McDaniels.   Tebow is an underdog with a million fans.   Last week, he was named the starter of the Broncos and takes the field this Sunday against the Dolphins.  I hope he shreds their defense and fires pass after pass into their secondary.  No, I will not be going out and buying a Tebow jersey.  I won’t paint religious scriptures under my eye or speak the word of GOD like Tebow.  However, I like the kid a lot.  I appreciate hard work and a player working against the odds(every NFL analyst telling the world you will suck at QB) to achieve a goal.   Tebow waited a year and a  half, playing in three games for Denver and playing well.   Nobody will forget the comeback against the Texans or last week near comeback.   Tebow is a winner and always has been.  He’s psychotically intense on the sidelines, screaming at his teammates and pushing himself.  That didn’t change from college to the pros.  Tebow is a unique athlete with ability.  Everybody in Denver wanted him to be the quarterback this season.  It didn’t happen.  The recycled QB Kyle Orton got 5 games and played horribly.   He was pulled after halftime two weeks ago, and Tebow came in and generated excitement.  I won’t sit here and tell you Tebow will be a good quarterback.  That’s too hard to tell in this league.   I couldn’t tell you if Bradford would make it.   The NFL changes quarterbacks.  It destroys kids wet out of college with a dream.   Tebow transformed the classic perceived notion of a quarterback.  He busted his ass to reshape his throwing method.   He spent months in training while other NFL bound college hustlers waited for a call.   What’s Tebow’s idea of training?  Going out with his dad and brother to chop up trees and push cars down the road.   Tebow isn’t fucking around and has made it.   He starts on Sunday.   All his critics are hoping he falls on his ass so they are right and all his fans are wrong.   Here’s to hoping they don’t get their wish.  You have to love the underdog in these situations.  Imagine someone telling you that you can’t do something yet you know that you can….that Tebow’s fight.  Hell, that’s everyone’s fight.

Blues Win At Home, Find a Pulse on Road

After impressively coming back from a 2-0 hole in the second period on Friday night to beat the Carolina Hurricanes at home 3-2 in overtime on a sweet Matt D’Agostini goal, the Blues walked into Philidephia last night and beat them 4-2 in commanding fashion.  Two straight wins and a little hope and breath of fresh calming air for Blues fans.   It’s nice to see us produce home/away wins on back to back nights.    After Tuesday’s ugly 5-0 loss in LA, Head Coach Davis Payne called a team meeting and more than likely called a few players out and said some painful things that needed to be heard out loud.   Payne is a young soft spoken yet blunt speaking head coach.   He calls it straight.   Last night, after TJ Oshie did something individual based and wrong, Payne benched him for an entire period.   Payne said he is tired of bad individual play that is crippling the team.   The Blues aren’t good enough to win based on one individual’s efforts, like Pujols taking over Saturday’s game.  They need an entire group effort every night.   Signals from each corner of the bench.   Friday’s win was satisfying.   Saturday’s win was impressive.   Without Oshie in the second period and after David Backes left with an upper body injury, the Blues fired 40 plus shots at the Flyers net and came away with a solid victory.   What’s the difference now?  The power play notched a score last night with Daggs plugging one in, but thats still only 2 power play goals on the season.   The key, plain as day, has been the change in net by the Blues.  Backup goaltender Brian Elliot has taken over for the Blues the past 2 games and played very well.   Elliot has seen 30 plus shots in each game and made some very big saves.   He is 3-0 with a 2.08 GAA on the season and more than likely will get another start.   Payne has to play the hot hand right now.  What does this do to Jaroslav Halak?  Light a fire under his ass, hopefully.  This is a performance based league and world, and Halak wasn’t doing the job.  He wasn’t the only problem, but he was arguably one of the bigger issues.   While Halak plays with the pressure of a big contract and a #1 status, Elliot is on a one year deal and fighting off young players like Ben Bishop and Jake Allen behind him.   Elliot is on the one year lease and has to impress.   He is doing more than producing smiles right now.  He is raising hope in this city.    I play him until he falters or until Halak is red faced, insanely angry and ready to lay down the law in net.  For now, let Blues executive former great Al Maclinnis fire slap shots at him for a few more days with a player poking rebounds right back at him on the follow up.   Halak isn’t going anywhere folks and is simply going to school right now.  Waiting for his chance.  Lessons are learned in turmoil.   I like the way this team is playing.   We need them to produce exciting games this season and get into the playoffs.   This has to be the year, with or without Andy McDonald.   Jason Arnott has 7 points in his first 7 games.  There is more depth on this team.  Alex Steen and Daggs are out to great starts.   Depending on the severity of Backes’ injury, this team may be looking at more adversity.   Payne just needs to look at the Cards.   They got hit with several injury blows and kept playing and shocked the world.   The Blues can do it too.  Just keep playing.  If they are to pull it off, they will need good goaltending and the ability to win on the road.   The past 3 days has produced a little hope in Blues Nation.

Rams Fate in Dallas

What happens today in Dallas for our Rams? The Rams personnel made a smart call yesterday in keeping Sam Bradford on the bench today against the Cowboys mighty pass rush.   Bradford has a high ankle sprain and doesn’t need to be exposed to a Rob Ryan powered pass rush that broke down the Berlin Wall of the Patriots offensive line last weekend.   Dallas DE DaMarcus Ware is a killer and would have loved to chase around a gimpy rookie all day.   Now, Rams backup A.J. Feeley gets to take the snaps and a beating today.  This is what backups are for.   Stepping in when the starter isn’t well and trying to pull the impossible.   Feeley is a veteran and will do fine if his receivers catch and his line gives him a few seconds to make a decision.   Rams receivers Mark Clayton and newly acquired Brandon Lloyd are back and will provide sure hands.

A Few Keys to the Game for St. Louis and a Way to Cause headaches for Jerry Jones-

1.)Put pressure on Tony Romo, cause the mayor of chokeville to make mistakes.   Romo is either pretty good or very bad this season, causing 4th quarter comebacks or collapses.  The Rams need to put a pass rush on him and cause interceptions.   I hate Romo and hope he leaves the field full of tears and rage.

2.)Rams receivers MUST CATCH what Feeley gives them.   Attention Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson.   When the man manages to stay on his feet and keep breathing, catch his pass.   Clayton and Lloyd will help.

3.)The blockers need to give Feeley time to throw.  A few seconds is all he needs.   If Feeley gets crushed, the game is over.  Tom Brady doesn’t play for the Rams.

4.)Run wild, Steven Jackson.  If the Cowboys chose to bring the heat, burn them with the run.   Jackson needs to get 30 carries today.  With your top quarterback down, the running back needs to be the feature player today.   Establishing the run in football is like a pitcher establishing his curveback in the first inning.   Lay down the idea and keep pounding the ball all day long.   Sooner or later, Jackson will break through to the Cowboys weak secondary.

5.)AJ Feeley needs to do some timely damage to a bad Cowboys secondary.  If they blitz the house, throw quick and burn them underneath.   This ties together with points #2, #3 and #4.    Give him time, throw, and catch.

Prediction-The sadness continues.  It’s hard to bet on a team that’s only carried the lead in 2011 for 6 minutes and 28 seconds combined.   The Rams have scored the fewest points in the league and struggle to be effective in the red zone and can’t resist stupid penalties.   They will continue to struggle against Dallas but will put up a fight and go down 27-17 today.   The defense will keep the game close and the Rams will put up points late, but will fall to the Cowboys on the road.   I sincerely hope I am wrong but right now, all I hope for with this team is a pulse.  Once they get out of ugly territory, we start to win games.

Random Bits-

*The Kurt Warner rags to riches story is still one of the better in sports history.   Warner’s flight is being told on the NFL Network’s series, “A Football Life”.   Warner went from being a grocery store shelf stocker to a European league to a Rams backup that was given the chance of a lifetime and led two teams to 3 Super Bowl games and came away as one of the most productive Quarterbacks in league history.   The amazing thing about Warner is that he was never picked to lead a team.   Trent Green went down, and he took over for the Rams.   He played briefly in New York before Eli Manning pushed him out.   When Matt Leinart went down, Warner took over in Arizona.  He is a classic case of “walking the walk” in his football life.  Warner spoke for himself with his ability.   Great story.

*Song of the Day-Jimi Hendrix-“Fire”

No Explanation needed.   Hendrix is a music legend and his music speaks for itself.  Enjoy.  If there was a universal song for a man feeling the need to make a play for a woman’s attention while knowing the dangers of getting close, here it is.

http://youtu.be/Nr8gCB0NIIY

“You don’t care about me, I like it like that, You have a burning desire, let me stand next to your fire.”-Jimi

*Sunday night means HBO and Showtime entertainment.   The night of my juicy dramas on cable television.   Boardwalk Empire, Hung, How to Make it In America, and Dexter.  A gangster drama, comedy with dramatic undertones, guility pleasure and a classic serial killer kill fest.  My kind of time on the tube.

*For the last time, if MU wants to leave and can leave the Big 12 for the SEC conference, get it done.  There are bigger games, better coverage and more money to be made in that division.  If they want to play with the big boys and get a chance at bigger bowl games, make the move.  I’m tired of hearing about it.  Right now with the way they are playing, it doesn’t matter where they play.  They will lose.  This is a team in transition.  Move now.

*Memo to Brandan Shanahan, the new NHL honcho on hits/fights in the NHL.   Don’t outlaw fighting.   It’s a part of the game and an integral way of establishing order on the ice.  As Tony Twist beautifully explained on the Fast Lane on Friday afternoon, fighting establishes an order and justice.   If a big star gets hit on a cheap shot, that guy will meet the team’s enforcer the next play or period.   There are unwritten rules on the ice and they can’t be outlawed by a lame rule.   Let the players fight and continue a way of life.   Don’t let the NHL turn into MLB when it comes to confrontations.  Let the fists fly.  Al Maclinnis once said he would take a cardboard cutout of Tony Twist over another player on the ice because it gave him a couple extra seconds to shoot.

*Message to Barack Obama and his staff of 1,000.  It’s about time.  The US soldiers in Iraq are coming home at Christmas.  I don’t care about the details or what made this happen.  I am glad hundreds of thousands of innocent American lives are being restored back in home with their friends and families.  There was no reason to be over there.  Not anymore.  Let the civil war go on without US bloodshed.  It’s been going on for a long time.  Why are we standing in the way?  Solid move here.

*Movie to See this Week-Ides of March, George Clooney’s latest mind jewel that takes a harsh run at the world of politics and bluntly explains the cost of taking your shot in the political playground.   A 90 minute killshot I’m going to invest in.

*Daddy Duty is great.   Routines are being set in and the time required to change the kid for me is getting smaller every day.  Diapers, baths and changes are welll practiced theater and the challenge isn’t on my shoulders any longer.   Now, we monitor his heart rate and keep him happy.  There are small pleasures with babies.   Taking care of the kid by myself for 2 hours or taking him out to Bread Company with the parents only to have the kid turn into Brad Pitt for 30 minutes and attract strangers.   Babies remind us of an innocence that exists in us that has to be preserved over time.   They’re good people.  Last night, Vinny got to hang out with his extended family, my entourage of friends.  This morning, he met his grandparents and great grandmother for breakfast.   The kid is getting play all over town.  I’m the kind of parent who loves to have my kid be held by his friends and family.  I don’t get in between the kid experiencing new people and situations.  I hate parents who lock their kid down around people they trust.   What’s the point in bringing the kid out if he can’t be visited by others?   Next up for Vincent.  Negotiating his deal with Bill at Busch and getting his playing career started.  I’m scheduling side sessions for March.   Main idea here.  Daddy duty is treating me well.

That’s all I have to say.  I’m pulling this Buffa Train of Thought into the station.   Shutting it down.  Thanks for reading and come back for more later.

Goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

2011 World Series Game 2 Recap

I’ll say it again.  The only way to get over a horrible loss is to explain it completely.   By getting over Thursday’s crippling momentum shifting defeat at Busch, I am going to prep myself for Game 3, clear my head and set things straight. 

There’s no need to talk about the first 8 innings.   Jaime Garcia and Colby Lewis dueled for a bunch of scoreless frames before Allen Craig got a hit off Texas reliever Ogando for the second straight night to drive in the go ahead run.  1-0 Cards heading into the 9th inning.   Yes, the Cards hit into a few double plays, left runners on base, wasted chances to get more runs, but Texas didn’t fare much better and the game produced another even match.   Even fights can only produce one winner.   Texas won and here’s why.

Tony La Russa lost faith in his closer.   You don’t pull your young closer when he still has the lead and a chance to escape.   Motte entered the ninth, and quickly gave up a bloop hit to Ian Kinsler.  The ball dropped into the empty vicinity in left field because Matt Holliday was playing near the warning track.   Outfielders playing so far back to start an inning is a bad idea and always a move by the manager.  Never mind that Kinsler has 32 homers, I still play standard depth in the outfield.  Kinsler’s pop would have found a glove if Holliday is playing normal depth.   Kinsler goes on to steal second base by a small reach off Yadi Molina.  Motte wouldn’t have hurt himself by throwing to first a couple times to keep a known base stealing threat close.   He didn’t throw once and Kinsler burned him.   Elvis Androus was next.   He worked the count to 2-2 after a couple foul balls and slapped a base hit to right center.   Jon Jay cuts it off and fires a worthlessly lame attempt towards home plate that triple hops into the middle of the infield.   Here comes the detail that starts the mini letdown.  Albert Pujols is the cutoff guy and doesn’t get a glove on the throw, allowing it to roll to the foul line and Elvis moves up to second base.   I don’t know if Yadi told him to let it go(if so, that’s still a moronic move, no chance Jay’s throw gets there to nab Kinsler, who stopped at third base).   Pujols failing to corral the throw allowed Elvis an extra base, who eventually scored the winning run.   Second and third with the gimpy Josh Hamilton coming to the plate.  Hamilton would be on the DL if this were the regular season.  That’s how bad his groin injury is.  He has been swinging one legged and with no power. With no outs and two on, you need a strikeout.   Why does La Russa pull Motte for the lefty Arthur Rhodes?  La Russa doesn’t trust Motte to get the out and escape.  He only trusts a veteran over 40 years old.   Rhodes is no match to strike out Hamilton and keep the ball on the infield.

This is the point where I can’t get past.   Why pull your ace closer with the lead in hand?  You live and die by your best arm and you don’t pull your closer with a lead?  NO MANAGER DOES THAT!!!  Plus, Motte is a strikeout pitcher and he is the perfect match to get a slow swinging Hamilton out.  Motte put runners on base and didn’t pitch great but his stuff was hitting the spots and he deserved the chance to make it right.   This raises the aggravation level for me.  If Motte stays in and Hamilton hits a 2 run double or a home run, I am mad but I am content with the right move being made.   You let your closer make the final pitch and only pull him when the lead is far gone and his pitch count is high.   Tony La Russa put in Rhodes to cover up the fact that he didn’t trust Motte.   Arthur Rhodes’ 87 mph fastball wasn’t enough to keep Hamilton from hitting a deep enough fly ball to score Kinsler and move Androus over to third base.  He failed.   A fly ball wasn’t the answer there.  A strikeout was, and Motte was the man for the job.  Big miss here by Tony.

So far the misfires are-

1.)Playing outfield too deep

2.)Pujols missing cutoff

3.)La Russa pulling Motte without a good reason

4.)Failing to think about walking Hamilton to load bases for the force out.

La Russa takes Rhodes out and inserts Lance Lynn.   Lynn gets to 3-2 on Michael Young and surrenders a deep fly ball to center that scores Androus.   Rangers lead 2-1 and all of a sudden the momentum in this series is lost for the Cards.  It shifts to Texas, who just climbed out of a scary 2-0 hole that few teams have survived in the World Series.   You can’t blow saves and hope to win the World Series.   You really can’t make the wrong moves from the bench.   La Russa and Motte fucked up this game.   Tony’s decision defies logic.    Once he put Lynn into the game with one out and a runner on third base, why not walk Young and set up the double play ball for Adrian Beltre.   Beltre ended up grounding weakly to third base, which could have been turned for a double play and the game is still tied heading to the bottom half of the 9th inning.   Where was La Russa’s gamesmanship and genius there?   Save the praise for La Russa’s moves up to this point in the playoffs.   Once Game 2 started, everything that any player or coach had accomplished went out the window.  A new dawn and a new day with heavier expectations.   The latest TLR debacle is all I see here.

Here’s one more thing-Why do you take out David Freese in the 8th inning?  Freese is your hottest hitter and a decent third basemen, so why does Tony deplete his bench with a one run lead?   He also put in Skip Schumacher for Lance Berkman, which I support more because of Skip’s arm in right and the ability to throw someone out at home plate.  The move to take out Freese was a bad one because you need your bench for extra innings.  You have to manage that way at all times.  Taking out Freese and Berkman made the Cards lineup beatable and hindered the shot of a comeback.

Looking ahead to Game 3-

*Predicting what Kyle Lohse brings to the mound is hazardous role playing.  Lohse starts Game 3 in an offense enabled ballpark and once again his main task will be to keep the ball down.  Lohse will have to survive 6 strong innings and give his lineup a chance to hammer Texas’ pitcher, Harrison.  Lohse holds the cards and that’s scary.  He’s like the driver in the getaway car who you only trust with his foot on the pedal. 

*So far, the Cards bats are being tamed by the Rangers pitchers.   Take away Allen Craig’s two pinch hits and the offense has produced 2 lousy runs through 17 innings of play.   A matchup of two powerful lineups is being tamed by pitching thus far.  Albert Pujols, Holliday and Berkman are all being held in check.   Pujols is getting close and Holliday and Berkman are chasing.  This has to stop or else the Rangers will take control.  It’s only a matter of time before the Rangers start to hit.  Now that Jaime Garcia and Carp have pitched, the next two games in Texas are huge.  With Lohse and Jackson/Westbrook taking command, the lineup needs to wakeup. 

*Let’s not forget Jaime Garcia’s outstanding work on Thursday night.  A recovery performance from two bad Mikwaukee outings.  Jaime controlled the Texas lineup, throwing 7 innings, striking out 7 and only allowing 2 hits.   He dominated and gave his team a very good chance to win.   My pressure boot is off Jaime’s neck for now.  He is in line for the Game 6 start at home.  While this start was impressive, the next may be the biggest of his career yet. 

This is the World Series kids.  Strap in and get comfortable.   The Game 2 collapse was heartbreaking and knocked this Cardinal team down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get back up.  Respond to force with excessive force.  Arrive in Texas ready to score early and often.   Two pitching dominated close battles will give way to offensive firepower.  The question is….which pitching staff breaks first?  The Rangers have used Ogando and Mike Adams,and gotten mixed results.  The Cards have used everyone and pitched decent.   The starters have been very impressive.   The lineups are being held in check.   Which group breaks out of the cage first?   We will see.  Game 3 and 4 this weekend in Texas will be high stakes poker.  Who comes out with the lead?   With the two teams so evenly matched and playing so close, the answer is unclear.  All a fan can do is think about the Game 2 failure and hope for a happier ending in Game 3.   That’s life.  Hope for the best and wait for the worst.   You never know what’s coming next in the playoffs.   As we do in life, we deal and keep on coming back for more.

There’s nothing else to talk about.   As a man once said, say what you have to and do nothing more.   Treat your audience like a ticking timebomb.   Speak firm and tread carefully across the vulnerable waters.  I’m done here.

Thanks for reading,

Buffa