Before I get into the usual daily dosage of Buffa insight here at the Nerve Center, I am going to clear the room first. This weekend hasn’t been easy for my family and I will tell you why in order to properly set up the blog and avoid a drop of the ball later.
On Friday, my son Vincent Buffa had to go to the doctors for a few symptoms he was having. Irregular breathing, spitting up his formula and inconsistent spool samples. Rachel took him while I was at work. Around 1130pm Rachel texted me that our pediatrician told her Vinny’s heart rate was very bad and his breathing wasn’t strong and he needed to go to the ER at Childrens Hospital. I met her there and we both watched our son get poked, prodded, stuck with needles and IVs in order to properly address the problem and get him back. In the end, he needed a small electric shock to get his heart rhythm back in normal range and his heart rate back into the 80-180 beats per minute range. He was placed in intensive care for the day. The head cardiologist told us that Vincent suffered from WPW, which is when an extra pathway to the heart is created and sends signals there that sped up his heart and wear it out. An extra unneeded wiring of sorts. WPW created a sensation called SVT, which is the rapid speed up of the heart into pure exhaustion. Imagine a person running a never ending marathon. Vinny was in bad shape until the electric shock and he was stable condition and regained a healthy color to his skin today. However, tonight at 9pm, Vinny suffered a small relapse and his heart rate spiked to 290 beats a minute. Meds are given this time and unlike yesterday, he was brought back under control without electric shock usage. What does this mean? My kid is dealing with an irregular heart rhythm, an extra set of wiring thats sending rapid signals to his heart. The doctors are fighting it with meds and treatment, but this is a condition that will cause him to be medicated and supervised for quite some time. This has been a traumatic experience for Rachel and I, but we have been given great support from family and friends. Right now, Vinny is fine and doing well. There’s nothing like sitting and watching your young 3 week old son battle for his life. Hopefully, the road to recovery is being paved. We will see. Stay tuned.
The regular prose producing daily talk starts now. Stay seated, get a stiff drink and follow me.
Every sports team deals with an even dose of the good, bad and ugly. Spaghetti westerns mutate into sports events and feelings are broken and healed through victory. St. Louis sports teams all experienced their own ballet of emotion this week, so lets take a look.
Chris Carpenter went into killer mode and the Cardinals shocked the Phillies on Friday night, advancing to the National League Championship series. Carpenter pitched a complete game shutout, and the Cardinals produced a single first inning run off Roy Halladay to win 1-0 in a thrilling matchup between two titans of the pitching mound. Old friends Carp and Halladay battled toe to toe for the entire game, and the only flinch came when Skip Schumacher hit an RBI double to follow a Rafy Furcal triple in the first inning. What did Carp do with the lead? Here is what he did.
The Carpenter Experience-
*He shut out the Phillies on 3 hits, a hit batsman and a walk. Carpenter dominated the heart of the Phillies order and only ran into trouble in 2 innings and threw 110 pitches. In a simple description, Carpenter got revenge for Sunday’s 3 inning debacle and redeemed himself.
*Unlike Brewers pitcher Zach Greinke and his worthless smack talk, Carpenter is the most intense pitcher on the mound. He grunts, screams and chants after every big out. He leaves everything on the field. I’ll take an intense guy on the mound in a game I need to win. Especially if that guy shuts down the best lineup in baseball. Carp backs up his talking with performance. Who hates that? The Brewers, but they will find out how screwed they are in Game 3 at Busch Stadium on Thursday.
*Carp rescued his career in the final months ot the season. Carp was 10-2 since June 23rd, but in the final month of the season he dominated and reset his reputation. From September 7th to October 7th, Carpenter threw 4 complete game shutouts, including defeats of Milwaukee, Philly twice and Houston. Two wins were clinchers. Carp pitched the wild card clinching game and the NLDS elimination game. He continues to amaze Cardinals fans. Is Carp the best we have seen in a long time in a Cardinals uniform on the mound? I think so. His longevity has been rescued and his reputation is intact. Carpenter was Captain Clutch this September.
*Carpenter is set up to pitch Game 3 and 7 of the NLCS against the Brewers. This is perfect for the Cards because it sets them up for a momentum grab at Busch and a final stopper in Game 7. The Brewers will have to go through Carpenter twice in this series.
Talk about the Game 5 clinching win against the Phillies and it starts and ends with Carpenter. The guy’s a big game stud and didnt disappoint in carrying his team to the next round. The Cardinals beat the Phillies by outpitching them. Yes, that’s right. The Cards starters held the Phillies mighty bats to 6 runs in the final 40+ innings. The Cards bullpen rescued Carp in Game 2, and locked down Game 4 to send the series back to Philly. Both teams had their moments of offense, but pitching won this NLDS and The Cards shocked the world by outpitching the best rotation in baseball. An unexpected yet highly exciting streak of baseball from the Cards isn’t stopping any time soon. Right when people wanted to count them out after the Game 3 loss at Busch, the Cards stormed back and took the last 2 games to advance. With the series win, the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox are all gone. Sorry, big networks, but the small market teams will dominate this baseball postseason.
The Cards facing the Brewers for the NLCS is perfect Two teams that don’t like each other and have a score to settle. The Brewers dominated the first half of the season while the Cardinals took 5 of the last 6 games to close the gap on the wildcard. Chris Carpenter is hated by the entire Brewers team, setting up two juicy matchups. Nyjer Morgan gets under every team’s skin and he shares a history of hatred with Carp. The teams exchanged bean balls in August, and the blood started boiling. This matchup isn’t a final match between NL Central foes. It’s a great overall matchup. Yovani Gallardo is a great talent, but the Cards pounded him for 6 plus runs two starts in a row. Zach Greineke has been tough on the Cards. Shaun Marcum struggled against the Cards in the final 2 months of the season. The Brewers have a closer in John Axford who blew his first save since April 18th on Friday night. The Brewers bullpen, lineup and rotation is strong but the Cardinals are putting things together. The Cards have gotten their bullpen set up and their defense is improved. A few more factors in the series…
*Jason Motte will earn his true colors in this series. He must match Axford blow for blow and smoker for smoker. The Cards can’t afford to blow a save here. Every closer must chase a “be as good as Riveria” dream in October.
*Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday must swing the bat well in this series or the Cards are doomed. If the 3-4-5 murderers row can’t produce, the other 6 guys won’t mean much. They are the table setters, so let’s hope the September Cards bunch shows up instead of the anemic early season slugging crew. The pitching will be strong, so this series comes down to the bats.
*How will Jaime Garcia handle Game 1 in Milwaukee? I am surprised Garcia is throwing tomorrow, but with the rotation set up in a certain fashion and keeping pitchers on regular rest, this move is an odd move but an expected push. Tony La Russa is holding back Kyle Lohse for Game 2 or 4 and throwing Garcia out there to stop the Brewers. A gutsy move for a young mentally unstable arm in Jaime, but he must sink or swim. Playoff baseball accepts zero weak links.
I’m excited and ready for Cardinal Nation to erupt in celebratory joy again, but the exuberance is numbed right now with Vinny’s condition. Friday night, Vinny was stable and recovering, but while the Cards won and advanced, I was quiet and content yet far from deliriously happy. Family wounds heal the slowest and I couldn’t get my mind off the little guy being in a hospital bed before he was a month old. He doesn’t deserve it and will battle a heart condition for the majority of his early life. The good things are and the thing that connects both passions are being alive. The Cardinals and Vinny are alive and well. Prepare for an uncertain exhausting future.
The Not So Good Yet Not Bad-The Blues Opener
The Blues opened the season at home against the Predators in front of a sellout crowd, higher expectations and a decent amount of excitement. The result was a 4-2 loss that started off promisingly, picked up a notch halfway through the third period yet ended in usual turmoil. This will be a long season, folks. While the Blues are loaded with veteran depth and young skill players, they face a wall of conflict in 2011-2012. The same issues hurt this team on Saturday night. A weak power play, a lacking penalty kill and soft goaltending. The Predators converted 2 of 4 chances on the power play and their goalie, glove specialist Renee, outplayed the Blues stopper Halak. In two key areas, the Blues were defeated and the decision wasn’t hard to call. There were moments of excitement but others where the team let down the fans in attendance. The Blues got a lead and quickly lost it and were down at the end of the 2nd and most of the 3rd periods. Here are some glimpses and opinions.
*Argue all you want, but I am still not sold on young Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. He looks slow in the net and gives up too many soft goals. He is unable to corrall rebounds and stop plays from extending. Two times, the Preds scored on quirky plays in front of the net that needed to be squashed. Halak is talented but can he be the leader of this team and take them to a Stanley Cup playoff appearance? I am not sure. He doesn’t react well and gets beat too easily for a 4 million dollar talent picked to deliver the cornerstone stopper the team has lacked since Grant Fuhr. The last decade has been covered in soft goaltending for this team except for the second half of the 2008-2009 season where Chris Mason threw the Blues on his back and gave them a playoff berth. When will The Blues find that again and get it over several seasons? Is Halak the guy? I am still looking for him to give me the answer. If the goaltending goes up in smoke this season, count us out.
*Patrik Berglund and TJ Oshie combined for some sweet looking magic in the first period. Oshie cranking hard towards the back of the net only to turn and feed a charging Bergie for the first Blues goal of the season. The two young guns run a line with headbanging goal monster Chris Stewart. While Stewie struggled last night, I expect lots of production from this line.
*David Backes and Andy McDonald created most of the offense tonight at least in scoring chances. Backes and McDonald constantly swarmed the net and created decent chances with Backes’ brute force and Andy’s speed. The Blues have 3 solid lines, proved by newcoming vet Jason Arnott’s game tying goal on the power play(lone Blues PP tally) in the third period.
*Carlo Colavacovvo exited the game with an upper body injury in the 3rd period. This man is a decent young defensemen but he can’t stay healthy. An alarming trend to watch this season.
*Young enforcer Ryan Reaves got his hands dirty in the first period and dropped the gloves with The Preds tough guy Stortini and caught him with a right hand to the jaw and dropped him. The collision looked like a fall at first but upon replay Reaves hit him flush on the jaw and dropped him. Reaves is a young horse at 230 pounds and carries enough skill to crack the 4th line on certain nights. Every team needs an asskicker on the bench. Reaves doesn’t waste any time and likes to throw punches.
Look, I like this team. They are entertaining and play tough and live by a similiar code that the Cardinals follow. Heartbreak warfare on both ends of the ice and a chaotic experience. The Blues won’t let us off easy this season. Preseason promise vaporizes once the puck drops. The Blues play in a loaded division and finished 10 points back of a playoff berth in the Western Conference last season. They added key veteran parts and reloaded the young talent and will challenge this season but I need to see something that tells me we can win a majority of our games and be a threat. Power play efficiency, penalty killing and strong goaltending lead the list of required improvements on this team. My criticism of them is based in a hopeful quarter of positivity in this longtime hometown fan.
The Ugly-The Rams
Sure, the Rams are in a bye week, but their ugly play is felt a week later. The home team is 0-4 and playing pathetic football. This team does few things well. They make a ton of mistakes. Labeled a playoff team in the preseason, the Rams look hopeless. Talking about this team is like discussing a corpse. Where do you start without covering your nose?
*The Rams come off the bye week and face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. That’s like arriving at a party and getting kicked in the ballsack at the front door. Aaron Rodgers and company will torment this defense and their secondary isn’t going to be kind to Bradford and our little troops. The Dolphins came into Green Bay last season and won a field goal battle, 6-3, but those things don’t happen twice. Start praying now to your god friend.
*After the Packers, the Rams face the Cowboys in Dallas, a slightly winnable game if the Rams improve their play. The Cowboys are 2-2 but they score points and can play solid defense. Tony Romo won’t be pushed over and unless the Rams walk into Dallas and play their A game, why would a logical soul call this a smooth chance for a victory? This team comes with a lot of “if’s”.
*The Saints come next and we don’t have to discuss the result. The easy explanation is the Rams may walk into Arizona with an 0-7 record playing for their life. Can they come back from that? There’s a small chance. However, where will San Francisco or Arizona stand at on November 6th when divisional play opens for the Rams? If the Cards have 3 wins and the Rams have zero wins, the chances start looking slimmer. Talking so negatively like this is tough to do but the way this team is playing, how can you not look down the road at probabilities?
This team faces a long list of bad deeds. Naming them is like going through a tutorial in college about telling kids what you can’t do in football.
-Turn the ball over for touchdowns.
-Enter the red zone and come away with 3 or less points.
-Fail to Protect the Quarterback
-Wide Receivers can’t catch key throws
-Hesitative strategy on offense
-Failure to react to another’s teams game plan
-Most Valuable player being the field goal kicker
-Special teams doom
-No Running Game
I’d list more but there are more important things to do right now. Ten minutes ago, Vincent suffered another SVT episode, with his heart rate skyrocketing to 290 out of nowhere and sending him into a painful fight with his heart. The doc’s aren’t giving us much here and the process of the meds healing him will be a slow one. He suffered 2 episodes within 3 hours of each other tonight. Allow me to end this blog on a blunt note. Going with the bullets.
- Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died Saturday. After changing the way teams were made in the 70s and 80s, Davis became a liability the past 10 years and buried the Raiders. He failed to properly rebuild his team and lure the right players to the city. Art Rooney also redefined the goals of an owner in the NFL yet he is still successful. Davis was poison and is now out of the way.
- First call bet on Tigers-Rangers series-Rangers have better offense and rotation, and will win series in 6 games.
- I’ve heard enough about the rally squirrel. Seriously, this is playoff baseball and the hottest story coming off the presses is a squirrel getting loose at a park. Say hello to our retarded generation of facebooking, tweeting, pop culture rewriting stupid story following lost souls.
- Message from Busch Squirrel publicist-Stop talking about me.
- Talking too much about the Blues or Rams isn’t required right now. They are only starting their seasons while the Cardinals are fighting for playoff life. Playoffs rule any sports town.
- I’d think it would be thrilling to see all 3 St. Louis sports franchises reach the playoffs. Sadfully, I don’t see it happening.
- Hospital rooms suck for one major reason. The beeps, alarms and various sounds that cloud a room. The hardest part is memorizing the meaning of these things. One beep means Vinny simply is kicking his IV loose and there is no accurate reading and another can mean code red and his heart rate is blasting through the roof. Hospitals are just another reminder the control we don’t have in life.
- What would we do without coffee in these situations? No, sir, a green sea weed shake won’t take away all my worries so take your calming voice method and shove it up your ass. Caffeine is what I need.
- Oh no, did I spell that all right? I wouldn’t want to fuck with any English professor’s head. The fact is when taking into consideration the word counts I reach here my spelling is pretty fucking great.
- In a little over 2 months(69 days), I’ve written 42 blogs here on WordPress. Impressive for a mad man writer like myself. Each blog comes in around 3500 words and has hit a high point of 6,000 words so I don’t hide anything here.
- Yes, I am rambling, so deal with it, bear with me and keep on reading. My son is in my wife’s arms at the moment, being slowly rocked to sleep after another fight with his own heart, all three of us slowing down to the lovely sound of Ingrid Michaelson covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. It’s 1238 am and we are all exhausted but neither of us are thinking about quitting.
- What’s a change in your priorities? Staring into your son’s eyes as he deals with a major issue and struggles to get back to sleep. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a sick baby.
- Band of the moment-This Will Destroy You, an instrumental group comparable to Explosions in the Sky. TWDY’s music consist of epic slow moving movie like scores that culuminate in explosive instrumental jam sessions. If you feel like being swept up inside a song and have your emotions tapped, give these guys a listen.
- Fast Five is watchable for the pure guilty pleasure of watching guys drive sexy cars, shoot at each other and get into fights. In particular, the duel between The Rock and Vin Diesel sells the ticket. A mean and lean 4 minute boots to asses fest. Solid summer fun done right and with intelligience on DVD now.
- Watching the Town on my Ipod in the room today, I noticed something amazing about this movie. It’s a perfectly sound movie that connects in several areas and genres. There’s something for everyone here. Action, thrills, romance, drama and a small bit of dark comedy. Ben Affleck’s cops and robbers morality tale bleeds authenticity and is so well put together that its rewatchable. A quick smart set of actors, a juicy script, confident direction, gritty locale with real history and a fitting ending. Affleck didn’t just repeat the success of Gone Baby Gone here. He improved on it. Watch it on HBO.
- If you haven’t started watching Sons of Anarchy, do so now. The FX drama is a true hardcore gem. It’s plot twists, stories, action and liquid violent content keeps viewers on their toes.
- The Cards will sink or fail on their ability to limit their mistakes. Making pitches, making plays defensively, and getting key hits while La Russa lets his players do their jobs. Simple as that. Worry about your own team’s play.
- Sitting in a hospital room offers little relaxation. Along with your son’s misery, there’s the pain of the rest of the kids on the floor, the hurt in their parents’ face and the sirens from outside promising more. A carousel of misery here.
- George Clooney makes films that matter and he doesn’t waste a bullet. His latest effort, Ides of March, about a Ohio primary in a Presidential election where political intrigue and a scandal collide for explosive conversations between men in suits and other political players. The actual stories of politics are tiring but the one true theme in all of it is hit hard in Clooneys film. The idea of the wager on your soul you make for a chance at success. How much are you willing to sacrifice of yourself to win?
- I have one more thing to say. This game of breathing we go through each day has a wicked sense of humor and planning. That’s life everyone. One day you are flying high and the next you can be shot down. Appreciate every 24 hour set of potential you can get. Nothing is guaranteed. The last 24 hours of my life reenforced that theory.
That’s all for now. Time to get rest and check on the kid. This will be a slow process of healing and a major learning experience for all involved. As long as Vincent makes it out 100 percent healthy, I don’t care what happens to me. That’s the honest truth.
Goodnight, Good Luck and Thanks for reading,
Daniel L. Buffa