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.


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

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