It Was Just A Mission Statement

Good morning folks,

Allow me to begin this small dispatch by stating that I love the movie Jerry Maguire.  Tom Cruise’s Oscar nominated performance as a renegade agent dumped by his company and left for dead who picks up his one good client(Cuba Gooding Jr.) and makes a drastic attempt to stay in the game.  Jerry writes a mission statement, a memo informing the agency how they need to conduct business better and connect emotionally with clients more and make a personal effort.  A good hearted plea to be better.  The agency fires him.  He takes one of his guys and tries to stay afloat.   Along the way, he meets and falls in love with Renee Zellweger(when she was warm hearted, unknown and good looking to a degree) and also becomes a father figure to her son Ray(Jonathon Lipnicki). The classic comeback story. This made you feel good about agents.  What if they were all like Jerry?  As he reminded people throughout the movie,    Cruise reminded you how good he was when given the right role.  Maguire was an agent with a heart of gold and exposed it in every scene of the film.   It nearly makes him homeless, but when it comes to ethics and pride, Maguire leads the pack.   And then I read an article on Deadspin on Dan Lozano, Albert Pujols’ agent.   Interesting stuff to say the least.  A column that gets you thinking.

The oldest rule in the book is to think of agents as angels in suits.  The cutthroat sharks who attack the shores of teams for their players and don’t leave until they’ve eaten all the goods.  Lozano is a liar like the other 95 percent of agents in the sports world.  The article portrays Lozano as your typical agent.  A guy who never graduated from college, ordered escorts for his clients, and poses as the ideal man for each of his clients.   For Mike Piazza, it was a party man.   For Albert Pujols, Lozano was a man of faith.   The column includes the theory of Lozano being the main problem in Albert finding a landing spot this offseason.   Written that he messed up chance for Albert at the negotiating table once and may do so again.  The article goes on to tell us that Lozano owes several players money.   That’s where things get dicey.  Every sports fan has went to Shark Agents 101 school, but the intrigue here is what Lozano isn’t telling Albert.   The idea that Lozano is using Albert’s big contract to pay off his own personal debt.  Albert may not like that.  Look, Pujols can fire Lozano and still get a huge contract.  He doesn’t need a super agent.  He isn’t a hanging on the thread of his talent player.  Pujols can sell himself.  Is Lozano hurting Albert’s future here with his demands?  Personal debt is Lozano’s business, but Pujols is a true man of faith and may not like the acting from his agent.   If he smells dirt on Lozano, he may cut him loose.   This is what makes this a topical piece for Cards fans.  What if Lozano is pushing Albert Pujols away from the Cardinals?  This is where I get enraged.  Are his actions hurting Pujols?  Financially, there is no chance.  Albert will get a boatload of cash somewhere.  However, if Lozano is leveraging Albert elsewhere to make a few million on his own, I want his neck.  Most players love this kind of wild gun activity, but not Albert.   He’s Tebow deep on god and doesn’t like bullshit.  I only hate Lozano if he is holding up a deal with the Cards by being extra greedy for himself instead of serving his client.  This has nothing to do with working a room or being a good agent.  This is client-agent ethics.  Jerry Maguire territory.   All agents become chameleons for their clients.  They shape themselves for each player’s needs.   The question is Albert not liking that kind of role playing.  Albert wants to get a deal done and Lozano may be standing in the way.   Bad news.  It becomes a problem when agents start serving themselves more than their client.   Scott Boras did it with A-Rod and got fired.  Lozano may be doing it.  Albert Pujols may need to get new representation or pull a Matt Morris and work his own deal.  This redefines the idea “It’s not all about the money”.   Its about player-client relationships and keeping those healthy at all times by pumping honesty into them.  It was just a mission statement.  Good agents would sell their home to get a deal done.  Great agents would sell their home with the family inside to get it done  Where does Lozano fall in the end?  Honestly, I want Pujols a Cardinal and if Danny is in the way, that’s when I get mad here.  Otherwise, let it ride.  Will Albert step out and make his own choice?   How hard is it to walk up to the Cardinals and say, “I’m the best.  Pay me like it.”

Here’s the link.  Enjoy.
http://deadspin.com/5861982/dan-lozano-albert-pujolss-superagent-king-of-sleaze-mountain

Other Things Before I head to a Thanksgiving party-

  • Great NFL games tomorrow.   Three decent games are on the television tomorrow.   Dolphins and Cowboys, Ravens and 49ers and The Packers against the Lions.   The chance to see Romo shine during his best month.  Seeing two Harbaugh brothers go up against each other with bruising defense with Balty and San Francisco.   My game of the day will be Packers and Lions.  The undefeated Packers going against the suddenly powerful Detroit Lions.   Can Matthew Stafford pull off an upset and dismantle the Packers?  Will Aaron Rodgers pick apart the Lions secondary or be crushed like a turkey by Ndamukong Suh.   Every game involving two great offenses comes down to the defenses.   Game on.
  • The Blues lose a close game last night to the Kings 3-2 on a late goal again.  Barrett Jackman contributes to his most valuable player for the other team routine by coughing up the puck twice, leading to 2 Kings goals.   The main issue on this team is giving up the puck in their defensive zone.  Halak played well and the Blues pressured the Kings with great chances and scored a pair of slick goals but came up short.  This team is still headed in the right direction.  This was their first regulation loss with Hitchcock in 7 games.  Work to be done but I like the play out there.  Tonight, the Blues walk into Pittsburgh to face Sidney and company with Brian Elliot in goal.  This win would be huge and a loss would be a step back.
  • To the people who think we need to let Albert walk in order to plug other areas.  Let me ask you a question.  What other areas?  This team is nearly set to compete.   Bring back Furcal, Dotel, and Skip on 1-2 year deals and you can easily give Albert a healthy raise.  If the payroll gets raised, so be it.  This Cardinals franchise makes a ton of money and can afford to raise the payroll, and that doesn’t always mean season ticket prices will go up and the cost will go up.  Every ballpark in America raises their season ticket prices and its called a rise in consumerism.   Don’t blame Albert for it.  Man wants to get paid like the best and doesn’t need the most in the league but a healthy package.   Stop saying we don’t need Albert.  Look at what he has done for this team for 11 years.  What he means to the team.  The Cards made the mistake in waiting and they must pay up.  Last year, his stats were down slightly, but his production in August and September was huge and picked up this team.  He singlehandedly put Game 3 of the World Series out of reach and hit .330 in the playoffs.   What don’t you people understand?  Pujols deserves and needs to stay a Cardinal for life.
  • Staying home for Thanksgiving carries only one bit of grace.  We don’t get to drive 10 hours this weekend.   Road trips like that kind of suck, especially with a 2 month old who loves attention.
  • Movies to see this weekend.  Clooney’s The Descendants or Matt Damon in a special screening of “We Bought a Zoo”.   Clooney or Damon?  Tough choice.
  • Movie to rent.  The Devil’s Double.   Dominic Cooper stars as the man who doubled as Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son, Uday.   Cooper plays the man doubling as Uday and Uday himself in this explosive true story that feels like Scarface mixed with Traffic.    Imagine being someone wanted dead in several countries who was known as the Black Prince?  Dangerous.  Cooper is a firecracker of a young talent, so I am intrigued.

That’s all I have today, folks.  Have a good Thanksgiving and stay safe on Turkey Day.   All the best from this corner of cyber space.

So long until next time,

Dan Buffa

Tough Little Fella of Mine

Initial disclosure.   This is a poem I wrote about my son for a work contest.   I have written thousands of pages of material in my blog for the past 6 years and this marked the first poem off my fingertips in years.   It isn’t a perfect poem, and if it were held up to any height of poetic standard for colleges, it wouldn’t stand for long.  However, instead of writing a sports themed Buffa Sonnet, I went from the heart here and wrote about the experience of seeing your son in a hospital room under duress.  Think of it as a recipe.   A touch of bright optimism mixed with the ever lurking shade of gray.   Poem or blog, writing comes down to being able to attach words to emotions and allow a connection between the heart and head to take place.   Everyone can write.  All you have to do is sit down, take some time and give a little of yourself to the public.  Writing is difficult only for those who can’t completely open up.  Think of it as dancing with your hands.  A sense of freedom and fearlessness has to be included into the package or it won’t work.  There, enough of the monologue.  I am already losing your attention and I haven’t even given forth the main idea of this blog.   Like a politician picking the wrong speech.   Anyway…..Enjoy this.  A brief detour from the Usual Buffa Blast route of material disposal.   Experiences like the ones I have had in Vinny’s young life only produce these kinds of words.  

“Tough Little Fella of Mine” By Dan Buffa

The kid climbs into the ring one more time/determined to destroy whatever lies in his way

The heart rate rises/the saints come running into the room in all shapes and sizes

The tough little fella looks around/struggling to make a leap over this tall medical bound/

I look deep into his eyes like a broke angel/

I pledge/be calm my child and this too shall pass

What lies in his future/A father cannot know

The mother stands near/She shakes like a  deer

Tough little fella of mine goes to war/fighting for his future all over again

Fluids run through his body like security teams/putting out dangerous fires wherever they seem

All a father can do is sit there and wonder/Why is this happening to my child?

He pierces a glance through my eyes/Strong blues on scared brown skies

Two men staring at each other/generations connected through touch

His hands collapsed on mine/like pebbles on a rock

Experiences don’t yield words at first/but through emotions they grow at once

The Coats and Scrubs come to stay/tall angels keeping evil genes at bay/

Tough little fella of mine/The kid rises/he is safe once again

The End

The Daily Post

The random give and go from the Monday Exchange-

Talking to a close friend and frequent responder on the cyber waves today about soccer and here is what came away from my side.  My friend has recently dived headfirst into the Premier League, a Soccer league that features some of the best players in the world.   He laid it out note by note for me and all I could do was counter punch away. 

The Soccer rant.    If this were Swingers, I’d be Mike and my friend would be Trent, showing me the sweet science of dating.    In general, I’m a new lover to soccer’s door.  Let’s roll through the basics and opinions.

*The knock on soccer is correct.  People hate this game because packs of men chase each other up and down a field for 2 hours and only score 1 to 3 goals.   I’ve always seen this game as a test of stamina.   Running, running and more running.  I have had problems following it not for the boring factor but for the idea of getting into it and passionate about it.  When people say something is boring, they can’t get into it or find a connection.   When I throw in an indie film that’s slow, Rachel struggles to follow it so she whips out the smart phone solitare.  This is a natural reaction for 80 percent of Americans.   Sports is a community thing.  The more people following it, the better.  Without my close knit group of sports friends, baseball wouldn’t be as much fun.  Sports are only as fun as the connection you hold with it and through others.

*Other sports seriously need to adopt relegation.  Relegation is a tactic in the Premier League where the worst team in each division is wheated out into a minor league like section.   Great tactic of trimming the fat off a sport and lining up the right teams in for a playoff run.  Goodbye Pirates and Royals.  Rebuilding years aren’t fun to watch.  Every true fan wants competitive activity.  90 percent of fans are bandwagon drivers or riders.

*The Champion system in this league puts a high emphasis on games played and ensures no team takes off a game.  The end is anti-climactic when the top team wins the tournament but there are no easy games in this league.  La Russa would hate this because he couldn’t have his throw it in Memphis Sunday game where he hands the game over.

*Soccer basically trims off the annoying weak parts about other sports.  Commercials, extra teams in divisions and throw away games.    I love the non stop action.   The nauseating part of any Cards/Blues game is seeing Ray Vinson 18 times a game.   Soccer eliminates that bc they give back to their sport and don’t need extra advertising.  Brilliant.

*The timing of the games does hurt the popularity in the states.  Imagine if the NFL had the Sunday games on at 7am?  This country would go nuts quickly. Everyone wants to see things live and soccer here is hurt because its origin lies in Europe. There are two barriers to overcome. Time of the match and the pace of it.   You either have a connection and need to watch or you don’t.   I am in the middle right now.  I am not a simple casual fan who watches for a few minutes to impress people.  I get sucked in for at least an hour.  I’m nowhere near the level of commitment of a diehard fan like my friend Pj, but if I showed up at his place and he told me it was soccer, a dark stout and nothing else all day long, I’d be fine with it.

More on The Pacquiao-Marquez Fight/Decision

Look, when sitting on the fence, judges will always play it safe and hand it to a champion.   When in doubt, think dollars and cents.   Pacquiao went 1-4 at the plate, had a rough night against a guy who has constantly given him trouble.  Both fighters did enough to earn a draw or escape with a decision but in no way was a man robbed.  Anybody who harbors feelings for Marquez had preset conditions.  Its not as if Pacquiao went out there and got schooled by Zab Judah.   Marquez is a legit threat to Pacquiao, which is why Manny takes the Floyd fight next.  Freddie Roach even seemed worried and offered after the decision that Marquez deserved a fourth fight.   If Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is smart, he leans towards Floyd first.  Manny must make adjustments or Floyd will pick him apart.   Manny can land combinations with the best, hound a fighter for 12 rounds but needs to learn a defense mechanism.  Punch, punch, block.  Something like that.   Roach and Pac will figure it out and the Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao fight will be glorious.    If people want to be mad at a particular person, be mad at Marquez’s trainer, Nacho.   He did tell Juan that he was ahead with 4 rounds to go.  Big mistake.  It’s a mistake to listen to anyone with the name “Nacho” but here it paid dearly.   Bad idea if you’re a trainer to discourage your fighter from pushing the initiative.   Trainers don’t control the fight but Marquez did slow up in the later rounds and it may of cost him the fight. End of story. Once again, the Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr.  parties must get this fight done or they will deprive us of a potentially legendary night.   Put all the emotions and get down to business.

The Pujols Equation

I’ll draw it up simple.   The Cards should have taken care of Albert with Matt Holliday.   7-8 year deals with Albert getting more money.  When they gave Holliday a long term deal and passed him up, a mistake was made. I’ve maintained through this process that the Cards are the ones who need to seek out Pujols and his people.  Gold doesn’t chase the prospecter.  Its simple business.  Taking care of Albert would have saved this team dollars because it came before Ryan Howards 5 yr, 125 million dollar deal.  Howard’s contract set the table for Alberts talks and this is where the Cards will play extra.   Since they waited and waited for Albert to hinder his value, they will pay more.  Thankfully, the talks come after a down year so a deal will get done.   If a deal doesn’t happen, I will point a finger at the Cards for making a bad bet.   However, Albert is fit to chase another ring this year and the next few years so I don’t see how he leaves.    Chances of Pujols staying are 70-30. While not a sure thing by any means, I simply can’t think outside the box and see him going anywhere else. Its just not logical for him to take a walk or for the Cards to let him go. I’ve said this since the beginning along with tons of other things. If Albert holds true to his word, he will stay here. Let me break it down. He has always said he wanted to retire a Cardinal and only wanted a competitive team around him. Next year, the Cards are ready to attack the World Series again with established pieces in place. The Cards wasted opportunities to sign him before but would be crazy to not offer him a fair deal that suits his needs professionally and personally. Also, Pujols would be making a bold move to take his show on the road 11 years into his career, especially after winning the World Series and equipped to attack next season and the years after that. The Cards aren’t a sinking ship or preparing to lose. Why would he leave this hard charging train now? This is why he may sign a shorter than expected deal. 5-6 years that takes him to when he is 37 or 38 years old. It’s simple. Pay him 28-30 the first 3 years and slowly back it down to 15-18 million at the end of the deal so he isn’t worried about his reputation or lasting image. Pump up those last 3 years with stat incentives. Get it done. Florida/Miami isn’t getting him. The Cubs want Fielder and Albert wouldn’t go there over his dead body. The Rangers and Angels will seek out Fielder and only toss a friendly offer at Albert. The market isn’t where Albert’s agent, Dan Lozano, wants it to be. In short, The Red Sox and Yankees aren’t buying. I sincerely hope this doesn’t end in a 1 year deal because that would be pathetic on the Cards part and disappointing on Albert’s end. Cardinals, it’s time to pay up. I would disappointed at the Cards like you stated because this is a business decision they put off for 3-4 years and wagered Alberts health against their payroll. Now, they have to pay the difference. Do it! Either the Cards are incredibly stupid or the Pujols camp gets very greedy. We will see. I expect a move around mid December after the Winter Meetings.

The Rams Misery

The Rams are disgusting.   Last year was a mere glimpse of an improvement but its gone.  The Rams offense hasn’t won a game this year or scored more than 2 touchdowns in a game.   Sam Bradford has talent but can he transfer talent into big game performances.  He hasn’t had one of those yet and while his receivers don’t own Pro Bowls, other quarterbacks have dealt with less.  I’m also tired of Fox commentators calling Bradford an elite quarterback.  He isn’t elite at all.  He’s sloppy, damaged, and can’t throw an accurate pass over 20 yards.   He is average.  He may imitate an elite quarterback at times but not right now.   Why isn’t Bradford getting the same scrutiny as Colt McCoy, Tebow, Sanchez or Alex Smith.   All, except for 1, are first round draft picks.   Bradford is a top pick so why is he not getting put on a hot seat. The kid’s getting a pass while playing shitty football.  Those other quarterbacks don’t have protection or a roster laced with Pro Bowlers either. It comes down to getting the job done.  Ben Roethlisberger got the job done in 2008 while leading the league in sacks taken.  He also won the Super Bowl.  He is the future and the job is his but the elite talk needs to stop.   Who do you want right now running a 2 minute warning comeback drive?  Bradford and Tebow.  Most NFL analysts and scouts would swallow a pigs tongue before admitting the truth to that question. Also, there’s no way Josh McDaniels runs this offense.   His Denver team put up points with similiar talent.   How can Spag’s keep his job another week with these results? Steven Jackson is doing all he can.  His stats and effort are top notch.   This team simply sucks.  They collected 3 turnovers in the first quarter yesterday and took zero points away from them against The Seahawks.  That’s pitiful.   Excuses can be made but this much we all know.  Steve Spagnuolo has to go.   How much more time can he get?

The Blues Ability To React

This team does react well to coaching changes and it will be interesting to see if we can win on the road and maintain this fresher, faster more complete style of play.   Hitchcock has definitely installed a sense of urgency here and the goal will now be to keep it going.   This team is always on the cusp of playing very special hockey.   I’m interested to see where Hitch takes them.  Unlike Murray and Payne, he won a Cup in Dallas.  How far can he push this team?  Their performance on the ice is still chasing their potential.  We play the Kings tonight at home, but the more interesting matchup comes Wednesday against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.   Sidney Crosby is back and tallied 4 points in his game in 10 months since a hit in the Winter Classic gave him a concussion that knocked him for the rest of the season and the first month and a half of this season.  The Penguins are offensive machines at home and the addition of Crosby makes them as deadly as it gets.   The first true test for Hitchcock’s boys comes tomorrow on the road against a very good team.  That’s the game that will tell us where this team is really at.  If they can beat the Penguins on the road, anything is possible.

Tim Tebow Talk

Tebow is a fabulous athlete, elite competitor and a guy who would throw himself into Ray Lewis for a score.   Besides his greatest asset which is his conditioning and quickness, I think what makes TT a good quarterback at this point is his ability to react and notice a defense.  On the game winning drive, he saw that a linebacker was left in 1 on 1 coverage and  he shredded him and won the game.  I agree that he will probably not turn into a prototypical elite throwing quarterback or adapt into an arm like Vick’s, but his entertaining style and record will keep him at QB.   All of your points are valid.  Defenses will adjust and play him differently, crowd the box and even leave a receiver wide open to rush him, but he will take the challenge.  The next 6 games are going to be thrilling football.   Who do you want to be right now, A Denver fan or Rams fan.    Given the lazy coverage, I doubt Bradford could have engineered that drive like Tebow did.  As I mentioned, who do you want more with the game on the line?  Sam or Tebow?  Answer is simple.  I want an athlete who can translate talent into performance.   Rip off Rivers arm and attach it to Tebow and Godboy is a legend.   With his own unique set of skills, Tebow is turning his talent into results, something Bradford can’t do.   While he may not be a long term QB, Tebow will be an exciting player to watch.  No one has worked harder to get where they are or sucked in so much crap from so called experts.   There will be downfalls(Detroit killing) and high moments(Jets game) but Tebow will entertain and win games on pure athleticism and the ability to win under any circumstances.  He’s always been a winner.  Clear and simple.   For now, he is a quarterback.   The man can flat out play.  I saw something special here.

More Tebow Hits

-Unlike most young quarterbacks, Tebow can make that big play when his team needs him most. He may play 50-55 minutes of bad football and be unable to hit his grandma on a post route, but when the chips are down and the clock yells GO, Tebow turns it on. That is the one thing that will keep him at quarterback this year and maybe most of next at the very least. Denver would be smart to either bring in a veteran quarterback or young college kid to push Tebow to keep things the way Tim likes them. He plays at his best when everyone expects him to fail. His ability to make the big play separates him from Sanchez, Rivers, and Bradford.
-He is so much fun to watch back there. He is the only quarterback in NFL history who can complete 2 passes and win a game on sheer aggression and inner strength. How many times can you be told that you were a Josh McDaniels mistake and not simply quit. The kid is strong inside and out. Impressive. A special on ESPN called “Everything in between” chronicled Tebows training through the draft process up until his selection by the Broncos. Great stuff if you haven’t checked it out yet.
-In addition to being a ridiculous athlete and physical specimen, Tebow is also a good guy. He won’t get into trouble, like sniff cocaine off a girls ass on a yaht or get caught with a gun in a nightclub. He’s a perfect symbol for the Broncos.
-He can’t throw well but that can improve. The last 6 games will tell us what kind of arm he has but what if he finds a way to win 4 of those 6 doing everything else well. Fullback or tight end would work but the kid won’t back down from being a quarterback after everything he has done to this point. His throwing will either improve or he will find himself in another spot but I don’t expect him to get shoved out easily. John Elway and John Fox both didn’t want this kid and he basically bull-rushed the team depth chart and tore his way onto the field. This is the same kid who ran up and down the sidelines in Florida in college, blood rolling down his shoulders and head, screaming at his teammates that they could win this game. The kid is a beast and against all popular and sane opinion, will remain at quarterback for at least the rest of the season. Shoot Brady Quinn and trade Kyle Orton because they both suck and will get you nowhere.

Stan The Man Musial turned 91 on Monday. Holy fuck knuckles, that’s old. If I make it to 90 with my genetic blood pressure and heart ailments and the beating I have put on my body and the stress induced from running through walls of disadvantage, I’ll be a happy whop bastard. Here’s to the true knight of The Cardinals organization, a man who spent his entire career in St. Louis, fought in the war and came back to kick ass before finishing with a .335 plus batting average and tons of records. The guy symbolized what an athlete should strive to be. A good man and player, all in one. Long live Stan.

Justin Verlander wins the MVP in the Amercian League. This is the easiest decision the league could ever make.  Verlander adds the MVP to his mantle to go along with the Cy Young Award this season.  He joins the short list of pitchers that have accomplished the feat of winning both in one season.   Verlander was the most valuable on any team in either league. Without him, the Tigers finish in 3rd place or worse in the Central division. He was dominant in the way Pedro Martinez annillated opponents in 1999. Remember when Pedro took the mound every 5th day and seemed to send a message to the other team that they were fucked. He blew smoke past a juiced up Sosa and Big Mac. Verlander is the same way. He attacks hitters in a way few pitchers do in the modern era. Fastball, fastball, curve! It’s unorthodox for a pitcher to win an award like this but he earned it. Look at his stats and they tell the story. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, .92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts. Rigodamndiculous!

Little Things-

Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout is delicious. Halfway through my 6 pack and counting the days until I go out and search for new beer again. I hold a six pack of Shocktop and 3 Landsharks in my fridge like a gunslinger keeps a rifle in the den. I seek out different types of beer because there’s too much taste out there. I could easily become an alcoholic in Friar Tucks.

Boardwalk Empire just keeps getting better and better. If you sincerely have no care to dip into FX entertainment, go for this two season slow boiling drama.   I can say a character was dispatched on Sunday in the most shocking and brutal fashions that I have ever seen on television.  The death wasn’t grotesque in any way.  Just sudden.  There are so many traces of Sopranos in here that it makes you feel like Tony will walk around a corner any minute breathing heavy.

Listen to the Black Keys or Mumford and Sons. You can’t go wrong there.  Yes I have mentioned this exact line before yet since I didn’t get any response, I give it out again.

This guy had to write a poem for work this week.   After years of blogging, essay writing and different formats of writing, I tackled poetry again tonight, writing a 191 word poem about my sons early struggles with his health.   Writing is the same practice in the end.  Find a subject, direct it, and let the hands go.

There is absolutely no reason for the Colts to trade Peyton Manning.   Have they seen the effect of his absence this season that they think selecting a wetback like Andrew Luck will fix everything?  Peyton makes a lot of money but he takes control of the team and if he is ready to roll, you go out and plug the holes around him and make the Colts a better team.  They will finish 0-16 in 2011 and for a reason.  Their head was cut off in training camp.   There is no reason to trade Peyton.   Don’t listen to Tony Dungy or Herm Edwards.  Keep Manning, draft a QB, and fill in the spaces around him.   The Colts relied on Manning for everything and now that he is back, they can rebuild those areas.   Trading him doesn’t solve a thing.  Who do you replace him with?

Parking continues to be a problem for humans.   Parking between the lines is a huge problem.  Saying you have no room to park between the lines means you are dumb or simply can’t operate a vehicle.   When you drive to Walmart, through a parking garage or in a large parking area, the slow boil inside of you burns because you find out how bad human drivers are.   All races, skin colors and tones.   It doesn’t matter.  I watch these fucksticks try to park and it’s like asking a 3 year old to spell his name with plato.   Once again, the aliens aren’t coming here anytime soon because they get enough of a comedy show from a distance that getting any closer would affect their intelligence.

Working out in the morning is so much better than going after work when you are tired, beaten down and simply want to find a soft spot and stop moving for a little while.  Working out early wakes you up, revitilizes the systems and sets you up for a decent day.    If you want to start a fitness program, go in the morning.   The rules are simple.   Have good form, log some cardio and don’t forget about the abs.   When you start dancing during a set, something is wrong.  Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.  An hour on the bike or 6-8 miles on the treadmill.  If it scares you, do it.  Thats been my motto for over 10 years.

Unfortunate news for the Seattle Mariners in the death of young player Greg Holland.  Holland was stabbed to death in his native Netherlands on Monday morning, and the kid was in his 20’s and only starting to realize his potential.   Anytime a sports athlete goes down, it reminds us that these athletic celebs are as fallible as we are.   Sad news.  Unless, we find out Holland was a secret ninja, and died in a knife fighting incident.   A little humor goes a long way.

ESPN Boxing Analyst Dan Rafael has a solid point in accusing the New York City Boxing Commission of causing a potential delay on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight.  Why did they wait so long to make Margs go back to the eye doctor and get a followup exam.   There are 11 days until the fight at Madison Square Garden.   The eye condition comes from several Manny Pacquiao delivered punches from their fight last November.  Margarito suffered a broken orbital bone and hasn’t fought since.  The second condition is Margarito’s illegal hand wraps discovered before the Shane Mosley fight have him on a limited license in The States.  He got a license to fight in Dallas last year but New York is playing hardball and its too late in the game to cause a delay to a fight both fighters have trained hard to reach.   A lot of show and tell here. Here’s the story by Rafael.

http://espn.go.com/blog/dan-rafael/post/_/id/576/nysac-has-made-mess-of-margarito-license

Also, everything considered, I think Miguel Cotto is going to destroy Margarito.   This is putting my bias standing for Cotto aside.   Cotto has everything to prove here.  That he wasn’t beat by man alone and that Margarito was fighting with an aide last time.  He also lost his father last year, a close confidant in his training, and Cotto tells a story about waking up in the hospital after the Margarito fight only to see his father watching him.  The guy’s got a lot of built up anger and revenge tactics.  Angry blood flowing through the veins.

Don’t forget.   2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series DVD arrives today with Jon Hamm narrating.   Live the moment one more time.

Now I am officially done. Fingers are bleeding, wife is hungry and Vin is telling me to schedule a meeting with a bottle.

Sincerely,

Buffa

The Wrap Up

Before the work week begins, allow me to throw some sticks on the fire here as St. Louis temperatures drop and the wet cold rain falls on our homes.   I can only call it like I see it, so tonight I am going to keep things short, blunt and to the point.   The ordinary people have gone to sleep, and now all we have are the minds who contain their own little world.  I come here and open up a cathedral of thought that runs an epic mile, so this time I am going to trim it up and send it out with a little more tone and figure.   Aiming the gun at the news reel and we are off!   I object!  Sorry, but I’ve always wanted to say that and I really can’t get the great new comedy The Changeup out of my head.  

Opening Arguments-

*My Take on Manny Pacquiao- Juan Marquez, Part 3

Its hard to throw an easy explanation on such a close fight.  Boxing has a way of yielding fights that test the mind and train us to think about what really determines a decision.  These two guys have met in the ring three times over 7 years and each time the result was controversial.   My take is that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez fought to a draw on November 12th.  I scored it round by round and this was as hard as sizing up Donald Trump’s toupee.  There were no knockdowns, no 4 or 5 punch flurries and whenever one fighter landed a shot, the other came right back and landed one of their own.   Pacquiao was the aggressive attacker throughout the night and landed more punches.  Marquez landed more accurate punches but fought the entire match moving backwards.   Every Marquez shot didn’t seem to stop Manny for long.  At the end of the night, Marquez’s face was bruised and beaten while Manny was setting up for a concert with a cut above his eye from a head clash.   My decision here is that nobody got robbed.  Marquez didn’t win easily and the cards across the judge table and ringside show it.   I scored it 6 to 6 in rounds for each.   It wasn’t easy.  There were at least 3 rounds where the decision could have went either way because neither fighter did enough to claim it.   Should there be ties in the rounds for fighters?  Probably not, but there were cases here where neither fighter “won” the round.   Did the judges hand the night to the champ to be safe?  Sure.   Did Marquez get robbed by the judges?  NO WAY.  Take away all the Marquez underdog faithful and you have two men fighting neck and neck for 12 rounds.   Pacquiao was never stunned by a shot and Marquez countered all night.  The result is that Marquez didn’t do enough damage to unseat a champion.  Call it wrong or foul but you must thoroughly defeat a champ in a high prize fight.  If Manny loses, the Floyd fight still lands on the table.  Now that he has won, Manny and Floyd must fight.   This isn’t a bias view.  While I clearly have liked Manny since he floored Ricky Hatton in the 2nd round, I also admire Marquez in the same fashion.  This was simply a hard fight to judge.  If people want to be mad at a person, get enraged at Nacho Beristain, Marquez’s trainer.  Nacho told Marquez he was up on all the cards after the 8th round and from there on out Marquez slowed down his attack and Manny won rounds.  After 8 rounds, 2 of the 3 judges had it tied at 76 apiece.  The one thing a trainer never tells his fighter in a close fight is that they are up and its okay to relax.   Nacho was a moron and trust me, he knows it.   Get mad at him and leave the judges alone.  Watch the fight and tell me different.

Once again, its time for Floyd and Manny to fight.  Clear out the bullshit, sit down at a table and sign up for the biggest fight of all time gentlemen.  This is the fight that the world wants to see.   It’s stupid to think that Floyd isn’t a clear favorite now that we have seen Manny be matched by a counter puncher.   Floyd is the master counter puncher and unless Manny learns how to deflect incoming damage, Floyd will win the fight.  However, boxing fans want to see it.  Make it happen.

*The Rams lose and are officially kicked out of the NFC West race

What a shame!  After nearly making the playoffs earlier this season, the Rams fall to 2-8 after a pitiful 24-7 loss to the Seahawks at home today.  They get eliminated with the help of Tavaris Jackson, one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL.   The 49ers win and improve to 9-1 and the Rams are out.  Watching this offense, it’s hard to think a wizard like Josh McDaniels runs it.   He had similiar talent in Denver and put more points on the board.   What is going on here?  The defense is the star of this team.   Take away the Rams defense and the Rams are easily 0-10.   In the first quarter, The Rams intercept 2 passes and Robert Quinn blocks a punt and the Rams get zero points off those turnovers.  If they at least get a field goal each, its 24-16 or closer.   That’s the difference between winning and losing.  Taking advantage of mistakes and cashing in.  Sam Bradford can’t throw a ball accurately over 20 yards and looks broken out there behind a patchwork offensive line that gives him less than 2 seconds to throw.  Steven Jackson had been on fire recently but got plugged up today.  There was an instant meeting between Bradford and Brandon Lloyd for a touchdown early, but that was it.   At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Rams had 8 first downs and 8 punts.  Story of the season.  Injuries, undisciplined play, a lack of offensive firepower, zero ability to come back and a tendency to give games away.   If this doesn’t get Steve Spagnuolo fired, what does?  He is 10-34 here as head coach.  If Davis Payne gets fired after 2 years of failing to meet expectations, what will ambitious new owner Stan Kroneke do with Spags?   If Stan isn’t making money folks, he will start firing at this roster and coaching staff.   He didn’t come here to build a losing team and watch The Ed Dome resume the status of a ghost town.   There is zero electricity in the dome and this team shows zero chance of finishing with more than 3 wins.   Pathetic, pitiful and downright depressing for a team that looked like they hit the comeback trail less than a year ago.   This team isn’t going anywhere.  It’s time to start cutting heads and while he is an honest good hearted guy, Steve Spagnuolo goes first.   The reshaping begins today.

The Cards Look to Sign Free Agents Sooner Rather than Later

Alberto Pujols is first on the agenda, but I’d like to see the team keep Rafael Furcal and Octavio Dotel.   Skip Schumacher is also an option.  The Cards are one team that doesn’t need to look for a new face.   Retain the old ones and the race is on.   I truly believe Albert Pujols will sign here because this is the perfect place for him.   Rumors have the Marlins only offering him around the same amount of annual salary as St. Louis did last offseason.   Albert isn’t going anywhere, folks.  It’s simple economics and fortitude being used here.  Common sense has St. Louis being the best option for Pujols.  Why would he leave?  He will get paid handsomely here, be able to compete and retire an icon in this city.  He stays and he gets a statue next to Stan or bigger than Stan.   He’s a fucking king here.  The big markets in Boston and New York have first basemen making 6 million more than Pujols.   Los Angeles just gave Matt Kemp the keys to the city in the form of 160 million dollars.   The Angels and Rangers aren’t making waves and if they were, its for a younger commodity like Prince Fielder.   Pujols’ options on the free agent market aren’t good and that only gives him and his agent Dan Lozano one more reason to sit back down with John Mozelaik and carve out a deal that suits both sides.  How many more millions does he have to make?  How important is he to St. Louis?  Easy answers for logical minds.   Furcal’s options are limited and my idea is he is waiting for Albert’s move.  Same goes for Dotel.   The Cards are acquiring the best starting pitcher on the market and that’s Adam Wainwright.   Jason Motte is the closer.  David Freese is the secret weapon.  Jon Jay and Allen Craig are your center field combo, especially after Craig’s improved defense in the playoffs.  Matt Holliday has something to prove.  The Berk is back.  Molina’s option will be picked up for 7 million and extended.   A young core bullpen of Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepcynski and Eduardo Sanchez is back.  The rotation is set.  Mike Matheny’s troops are set and all we are waiting on is Albert, Lozano and Mozelaik to agree on a couple numbers.  My honest opinion is Albert has earned the right to be overpaid and deserves a long term contract.   Every team overpays in these deals.  Just ask the Yankees(Jeter, A-Rod) or The Giants(Zito).    Albert is as good or better than those players.  Give him his contract and stop fucking around.  The Cards need to make the first move.  Albert is the commodity and The Cards require his services.  Please don’t mention Berk to first/Craig to right because they can’t be backed up by facts or stats.

The Blues Lose on the Road Yet Maintain The Sense of Strong Play

Ken Hitchcock’s team lost in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night 3-2 yet came away with a point for the 6th consecutive game, all under Hitch.   The style of play and tempo were up, and in the end, the Blues were simply outlasted by the Wild, a tenacious bunch of hard players.   The Blues led 2-1 until late in the 3rd when The Wild’s great gun, M. Koivu, scored for the 2nd time and roofed a shot over Jaroslav Halak.   Koivu also scored in the shootout to officially finish off the Blues.   Halak played well, stopping 26 shots of 28 shots and simply didn’t get enough support on the offensive end.   The Blues struck early and were ahead on T.J. Oshie’s goal late, coughed up the lead yet played good enough to win on most nights and came away with a point.  The Blues are right around the 8th place final playoff spot at the moment, and could ascend with a soft schedule into December.   Time will tell but this team playing good hockey.   4-0-2 under Hitchcock shows this team has a lot of fight left in them and the inspired play is no fluke.

Closing Arguments-

*Main Reason why The Changeup is so good.  Jason Batemen.   The classic everyman gets to cut loose here and show his wild side as a family man suddenly given the chance to relive his teenage kingdom.   Thanks to a switch, Batemen’s stressed out family man lawyer gets to step into single shoes and enjoy life again.   This formula works here in the same way it did in Faceoff with John Travolta and Nic Cage.   Each actor, Batemen and Ryan Reynolds, get to play each character and its incredibly fun to watch.  Batemen steals the show with his double edged sword of envy and frustration.   Watch for the scene where he sets up to have sex with Leslie Mann, until seeing her hit the toilet.  Another has Batemen comparing his testicles to a can of tennis balls.   Mix in a sell to a foreign business company using a sexual encounter with a morman girl and the guy is incredible.   If you like Batemen, you have to see The Changeup.

*Watching more soccer these days.   You won’t see me in a Premier League jersey at work but I do enjoy the sheer excitement and energy of soccer.   I catch the replays at 1pm on Sundays and usually get sucked in for at least an hour.   A bunch of grown men storming up and down the field without bottles upon bottles of water and on sheer aggression.  First, you admire the conditioning.  After, you fall in love with the skill.  A Liverpool player, Glen Johnson, taking in a pass, cutting across the middle of the field, outdueling an opponent and firing a kick past the goaltender to win the game against his old team.  I credit the World Cup with getting me sucked in, but every now and then, a little soccer goes a long way.

*For the first time in 9 years, I will be spending Thanksgiving in St. Louis.  Since Vinny had surgery last Sunday, we don’t feel like it’s safe to travel and will not be making the trip to Rachel’s moms in Kansas City.   An unfortunate occurance because of the getaway joy and hangouts with her family producing every year at this time.   Having the chance to get out of town and enjoy a mini vacation is precious and not getting it is quite shitty.   I love getting the chance to see my family on Thanksgiving but hate not going to KC more.  The perfect balance is being upended this year by a tiny kid’s predicament.  Go figure.

*Feel like challenging yourself in the gym, friends, try out a different cardio or simply stop taking breaks.   I find that the best workouts are the ones where you go from one workout to the next.  Super sets and forward movement.   Do not keep your phone on you and do not talk to people.   This ain’t social hour.   Talk’s cheap and a workout is serious business.  Treat it like a mentality and you will get results.  Its not supposed to be fun.  If that were the case, the US wouldn’t lead the world in obesity.

*Remember, Cardinals fans.   Tuesday, The World Series 2011 championship DVD comes out and its a must own.   Relive the Cardinals thrilling season ending run through the last week of the season, and past the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers to win their 11th World Series.  This is a celebration folks.

*Song of the Day-Mumford and Sons performing “Hold Onto What You Believe”, a new song from their second album making the rounds on their live tour.  An uplifting rocker capable of boosting the mood and putting the rest of the day in a good frame of mind.   These British rockers can do no wrong right now and simply put out great consistently enjoyable and powerful music.   Give it a listen.

*I didn’t know a Yahoo Sports hitman was parked outside my house, setting up to take out ALL my fucking fantasy quarterbacks.  One week Matt Schaub goes down with a season ending foot injury.  Then, Jay Cutler, my backup, breaks his thumb today and he’s out.  Back to the drawing board.

*Vincent is doing a lot better and regularly downing 4 ounce bottles every 2-3 hours.  In short, he is gaining weight, not vomiting and looking healthier.  A second trip to the hospital looks a little older each time we wake up and he is okay.   Looking at his hand on mine is like seeing a pebble on a rock, but the sheer joy of being a parent can only shine when your kid is healthy and in a good mood for the most part.  It doesn’t take more than a lock of the eyes or a grin on his face to make my day.    It’s been a tough 10 weeks but my kid is doing better.  I thank you all for the support in such a difficult time.  It isn’t forgotten for a second.

That’s all I got this morning.  It’s time to put the hands down and get some rest.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.

-Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

Words of The Day From Mr. Buffa

Good evening folks,

There are times when a real conversation is required in life.  Every day.  What is a real conversation?  A talk between two or more people that can have the ability to get heated yet stay grounded on a subject matter.   Certain people don’t like touchy subjects, rough topics, and stay away from the tough fights.   Look for a coward and ask them about something that they don’t want to talk about.   Those are the weak ones.  If you can’t handle a real conversation, that makes you a girl or boy, no matter what age you are.   I love real conversations.  I revel in them as they play out and after, when I am red hot and feel like I can take on the entire world in a debate.   Arguing is the basis that makes the foundation of this civilization.   One person says something, another calls bullshit and the two go at it for a matter of time.   That’s how things are decided, through pure unplugged conversation.  Real conversation.   That’s what I do here.  The people that come here to actually read some of the words and not breeze over the majority already know that.   The others are only trying to keep up.   Here we go, ladies and gentlemen.  Random topical conversation with the aide of bullets.  When I aim for a topic, I go for the jugular.  That’s the truest place to hit.  A few things to hit on as we approach another week in the life of the working class.    The latest Buffa blast begins now.

Let’s take a look at some popular, random and all together interesting topics.   First, a movie review.   
Barneys Version On DVD This is a great film.   A true acting showcase that proves hardcore acting talent still exists in Hollywood and original storytelling can take place.  An indie gem.   Paul Giamatti is Barney Pandrofsky, a man who has lived a full life, paid his dues and made a clear attempt to learn from his many mistakes.  Barney’s Version takes us on a joy ride through his life, and while he is harmfully blunt and fearlessly unapologetic, Giamatti manages to make him irresistable and a willing soul to observe.  If we don’t like or care to follow Giamatti, Barney’s story is worthless.  The power of a lead performance.  Giamatti’s gift is inserting a sense of invincible charm and goodwill into any character he plays and here it is on full display. A man who is in love with himself and at odds with his mortaility at the same time.   The film begins as Barney is in his 60s and reflecting on his life.  We see him in full grump mode, avoiding a real conversation with his kids and looking miserable at his work, where he produces crappy television.   As he drinks at a bar, Barney starts to take us through his life and its many events.   Three wives, one true love, a couple friends, a lost friend and regret painted all over it.   Barneys Version celebrates life lived to the fullest if not perfectly performed.  Barney’s first two wives are role players, women present to simply occupy space in his life.  His best friend, Bernie(a real scene stealing Scott Speedman) is a great writer with no need to publish any of his novels, something that irritates Barney to his core.   Barney is a guy who meets the love of his life, Miriam(The beautiful and talented Rosamund Pike) at his own wedding and she isn’t the pride.  Giamatti and Pike have a frisky sensibility during their scenes that splits the sex appeal clash in half.  Their chemistry leads to the unearthing of the most unlikeliest love stories that feels real and earned.  Barney is the guy who rushed out of his own wedding to chase down Pike’s Miriam in a train station to let her know how he felt and that they should run off to Italy before the feeling evaporates.   As we time travel through his life, which spans 30 years and carries the sweet and the bitter, Barney is always accompanied by his father, Izzy(Dustin Hoffman in top form), who doubles as his best friend and confidant.  If life had playcallers on the sidelines, Izzy is Barney’s coach in life.  This film is one of those stories that one can truly get lost inside.  During the time it played in my living room, I lost track of time and didn’t look at my phone once.  I was swept up in Barney’s life and moral lesson dispensing.   By the end of the film, when all Barney has in life are his choices and his current state of health lies in question, we feel like we are getting off a great ride that’s been worth the time.  The true quality of movies can be measured by the idea if the time spent watching it was worth it.  Barneys Version is worth the 134 minutes, which in a new dad’s timeline, are precious.   Giamatti is an actor many take for granted, because he also disappears into roles so well.  We expect him to be good, but here he is flawless and in charge.  This is Giamatti’s movie and he conquers the screen, holding it in his hands and only handing it to another actor when the scene calls for it.   He takes us inside Barney’s troubles and shows us a flawed man who needs fixing.  Hoffman does some of his best work in years, and his scenes with Giamatti are truly special.   Two acting titans trading punches inside a make believe world.  Pike and Speedman offer fine support and director Richard Jones lets the actors control the pace with their handling of the script, which was adapted from a pulitzer prize winning book.   Watch this movie if you crave acting and storytelling.  In the end, this is worth the time.  Barney’s Version is a silent great gem.
Manny Pacquiao’s Future Plans First, understand I still haven’t watched Saturday’s fight yet.  However, I will comment on the new notion of Pacquiao as “a villain”.   This is something I don’t understand.  Pacquiao fought a good fight, pressured Juan Manuel Marquez for 12 rounds, took some shots, and kept on coming.   Seeing how Marquez still gives him trouble, this fight may cast him as an underdog in a matchup with Floyd Mayweather Jr..   What did Pacquiao do to deserve the label of “villain”?  He took the decision in a close fight.  Two guys bashing each other, connecting with punches and leaving everything in the ring ended in a decision.   As I said, the oldest rule in boxing is if you want to take a champion’s belt, you better pound him and not allow him to pound you.   Marquez was as beat up as Pacquiao because he took the punches in order to deliver the counter shots.   Understand that these two fighters have now fought three aggressively close fights.   Pacquiao took the decision back in 2004 when he was nothing, so what makes you think he stole the decision last Saturday.   These two will fight again.  They have to.   The reason Pacquiao-Marquez IV will wait is that we know these two guys can put on a show and deliver a great fight no matter the gap in years.  Manny needs to fight Floyd in May while the iron is still hot.  I don’t put a ton of stock in what Floyd’s camp is saying right now, that they delivered an email to Top Rank and Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, and it was rejected.   Leonard Ellerbe said Arum didn’t want the fight and that is wrong.  Arum hasn’t said anything publicly yet, and when it comes to Floyd/Pac Man talks, everything is public.   Remember, when Arum and Pacquiao wanted to fight last year and 2 years ago, Mayweather found an excuse(blood testing, legal troubles) to not come to the table and get this fight done.  Each side needs to pick up a phone and realize that millions of dollars are on the table and the biggest fight in the world is hanging by a thread.  Right now, each fighter is so marketable and ready.   Take in consideration Manny escaping with a win and still he makes for a great underdog challenger to Floyd’s unbeatable throne.   Personally, I like Pacquiao and the way he lets his hands speak for themselves in a ring, unlike Floyd.   After the Marquez fight, Manny said “everyone wants the fight” and he means it.   Since Floyd wants to do everything on his own terms, he walked away from the fight last time.  Now that we have seen Manny’s weakness is counter punching and Floyd is the best counter puncher in the world, this fight gathered more energy.   I always thought Floyd was too afraid to fight Manny because he might lose and his unbreakable streak would vanish.  Now I wonder why both sides can’t come together, put personal feelings aside and give the fans what they want to see.  The clash of the titans.  I won’t take away my view of Floyd as a chicken until I see him formally issue an invitation to brawl and I won’t pull my skepticism from Manny until he makes a real effort to meet Floyd in the ring.   Enough of the he said/she said bullshit.  Get it on. 

Tomorrow night, I will watch the fight and then I will let you know who I thought won the fight, if anyone was robbed and what is the big deal about the ruling.   One thing I don’t need to tell you is what the next fight needs to be.  It’s Pac Man and Mayweather.    Get it going while Floyd wants to and Manny is on his hot streak.   Strike while the gloves are hot.   Marquez is disgusted with losing again, so he will need time and another fight to tune up.   Pacquiao and Marquez will add a fourth fight to their legendary battles for sure, but for now the fight with Floyd has to land.   The clock is ticking, as each man gets older, slower, more tired and least willing to put their honor, pride and reputation on the line against a top opponent. 

Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II This is an interesting fight in my opinion.    Two guys, one with bad blood on their hands, getting into the ring for a rematch after a fight that left both fighters bruised and bloodied.   A decision left in the air over a cloud of cheating and controversy.   This fight has more juice than any fight but Manny and Floyd.   Cotto isn’t 2nd tier.   His only two losses came against Margs in dispute and against the best in Manny.   He is a very good fighter who wants to right a blemish on the record.   Margs is a brick faced hard punching villain out to prove to himself that he can fight within the laws.   His two fights since have been a pair of lopsided defeats to Mosley and Pac Man.   There’s a lot to like here, especially from a guy who watched that entire fight and was surprised Cotto had to take a knee in the 11th round.    His wife ringside looking at her husband all torn to shreds.  I guess that is what happens when you get a ton of plaster to the face.   Pacquiao fight or not, this is a big story today.   A rematch between the fighters makes this current because of what happened the first time.   It would be pathetic if this got news and there was no fight.  However, you have valid proof that is being denied and Margs needs to catch a beating.   Put yourself in Cotto’s shoes for a second.  In actuality, the Pacquiao fight/chance of a Floyd fight are dominating the web today and this is only an HBO thing.    These two guys hate each other and it always makes for a great fight.  Bring it on. The sitdown with Max Kellerman is legendary and clearly the best prefight hype vocal battle the HBO scene has ever seen. This is indeed a promotional program for the fight.   They do it for all their pay per view fights and not just this one.   Ortiz-Mayweather, a fight that carried ZERO juice, was a boring chat with Max because both guys went through the motions.   Here, Cotto and Margarito have a legit beef with each other.   I do not think it was scripted.  The previous Max chats seem scripted.  Margs and Cotto are two fighters who need to fight again to prove who is actually better.   Their first fight was a candidate for fight of the year in 2008 and this one should be no different.   Money has to be made, so there is a gain in financial and emotional stakes here.   You can’t script the response of Margs when Cotto starts to attack him with the ipad picture and the backup proof.   Margs goes on defense instantly from being a proud fighter into a scared bitch.    Cotto never loses his cool and its interesting.   Cotto never accused him of his fixed gloves, but he knows deep down that the wrap was illegal and he wants Margs to admit it.  That 3 minute exchange of mad spanish can’t be scripted dude.   Its simply too good and if it was, my hat is off to each fighter for not faking anything while reading from a teleprompter that had to repeatedly say, “FUCK YOU”.   I disagree that it was scripted, but we do see eye to eye on the obvious theory that this is promotional value for HBO.  Unlike recent Max talks, this one was entertaining and looked real. Boxing fans will like this fight.  It won’t generate anything near the Pac-Floyd potential fan base, but this is a good fight to watch if you are a fight fan.  I am a fan of Cotto but I have talked to non Cotto fans and they want to see it as well because its a classic case of good and bad, which always translates well in the ring.  Even casual fans will watch this fight in my opinion.  On December 3rd, Cotto steps into the ring to right a wrong in his career against a man few think holds any creditibility.  Each fighter has something to lose here.  Who falls this time?

Tim Tebow Power On Thursday night, with his team down 13-10, Tim Tebow took the ball at the 5 yard line with a couple minutes remaining.   The Jets were set to stop him one more time and celebrate and improve their record to 6-4.   Let me correct myself.  Everyone in the NFL was waiting for the Jets to put an end to Tebow mania and in Denver.   Tebow had rushed for only 48 yards and thrown for less but he had the chance to be a hero.  All he needed was 3 points to tie.  Tebow got 7 and won the game again in breathtaking fashion for the Broncos.   Where are all his naysayers now?  NO ONE said it would be pretty to watch.  Tebow completed 2 passes and won the game a week before.  With seconds remaining on Thursday night and standing 20 yards from the end zone, Tebow walked up to the line and noticed the defensive coverage.  A blitz was coming.  He spotted the linebacker set to chase him down, and took the snap and made a quick dash to his left, outrunning the pass rusher and linebacker and darted into the end zone.  17-13 Broncos and game over!  Cue the crowd roar, the twitter ejaculation for Tebow and all his faithful followers standing in attention and screaming “We Told You So”.   I have been saying it since his junior year at Florida.  The kid is special and will win football games at any level.  He is a pure legit winner and doesn’t win games with his arm or head but with his heart and fearless mentality.   He never accepts a loss and will only get better.   For all the people who constantly rip him and smack him for his religious kneel at the end of games(coming from a non believer, I don’t mind it), this is time to chew on your words.   After Kyle Orton led them to a 1-4 record, Tebow has them at 4-1 and sitting at 5-5 with games to play.  Tebow’s run took its place as the longest game ending touchdown score in NFL history.  One record down and several to go.  I still have little idea if Tebow will hang around as a starter in Denver.  It depends on John Fox and John Elway’s patience.  He will bring in fans and produce thrilling endings.  The man doesn’t accept failure.  I said it when he beat Sam Bradford and Oklahoma in the BCS Bowl game in his junior year and won the Heisman Trophy.   I said it when he threw for 522 yards in his final college game.   I said it during the draft he was selected 25th in.  I said it when he landed with Denver.  Tebow is an elite athlete and will excel in this game at some point or somewhere.  Thursday’s win was another nail in the choker coffin for Tim Tebow.  This guy made Chuck Norris read the bible. 

The Blues New Look The usual tale of the tape for the Blues is their ability to build up your hope and shatter it like a sword hitting a vase.   Inconsistency has marked their play since the NHL lockout years ago.   The team can’t properly set their feet down.   Under coaches Mike Kitchen, Andy Murray and Davis Payne, the team found some success yet a ton of failure.   It’s all their in the record.   Under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues look legit and play 60 minutes of hockey each night, roughing up the other team and producing an energy that I haven’t seen in years.   During his first 5 games as skipper, Hitchcock pulled 4-0-1 record, getting the Blues through regulation either with a tie or win.  The Blues haven’t allowed a goal in the 2nd and 3rd periods under Hitch.   T.J. Oshie, Jamie Langenbrunner, David Backes and Mike D’Agostini are all improved.   Patrik Berglund is finally using his size and speed.   The defense, led by Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk and supported by vets Roman Polak and Barrett Jackman, are defending with fury and pushing the other team away from the net.  There are no flurries of shots from the opposition.   The Blues defeated Chicago, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida.  Two of their rivals and two other serious contending teams.   Brian Elliot shut out Steven Stamkos and the scoring monsters in Tampa.   Jaroslav Halak restricted Jonathon Toews and Patrick Sharp of Chicago.   Right now, the Blues have two great goalies playing for their team.   Two nights after Brian Elliot defeated Detroit, Halak stopped 20 shots and beat Florida last night.  For the first time all season, I saw the real Halak stand up and make big saves.    The push of Elliot(7-1, 1.43 GAA, .947 save percentage) is getting to Halak and pushing his play up a notch.  The players are responding to Hitchcock’s vertical pedal style and the energy is up.  I’ve never seen Berglund reverse check a player into the boards like I did last night.  There are reactions to a quicker style of play.  Chris Stewart got suspended 3 games for boarding a Red Wings player on Tuesday.   Hitchcock changed things.   The Blues have gone from 13th place under Payne to 6th place and rising with Hitch.   This is no longer considered coincidence or players making an impression.  This is pure consistent performance.  This team is reloaded and the same players, with the exception of newly added defensive speed demon Kris Russell, are taking the ice for the team.   Hitch is taking the same ingredients Payne had and mixing them up just right to get a result.  The Blues are fun to watch and don’t break after an early deficit.   This team finishes better than the past two years.   We don’t see late one goal leads evaporate.  When the game is in hand, the Blues keep pressing.   David Backes put the Blues ahead last night and finished the scoring with an empty netter.   Vladamir Sobotka threaded a late pass to Russell for one of the prettiest goals all season.  In one game, the Blues convinced me they were back and the Hitchcock stamp is engrained.  Tomorrow night in Minnesota and the following week in Pittsburgh(with Sidney Crosby), the Blues take their new act on the road.  Can they play this style of hockey in front of a crowd screaming for them to fail?  That question is in the air as we speak and as the Blues step down in the north.   The Blues have their manhood back.  How long can they keep it?  Also, I’m taking fliers for a weight loss program for Keith Tkachuk, who looks like he ate a ref or two since he put down the stick. 

Joke of the Day-From Boardwalk Empire and other voices A man is drowning in a body of water.  A lifeguard official comes out and tries to rescue him only to have the man tell him, “No Thanks, god will save me”.    Soon after, a sail boat comes up and offers help, and the man tells them, “God will save me.”  Soon enough, a ship comes along and pledges to save the man.   He tells them the same thing.  God has this one in the bag, right?  The man drowns and when he goes to heaven or wherever he lands first, he seeks out GOD.   When he finds a man claiming to be the righteous one, the man tells him angrily, “I called for you, and you never came…”   God responds by telling the man, “Sure I did.  I sent you a lifeguard and two boats.  What else could I do?”   The moral of the story is I believe in what I see.  You tell me a man is coming to save me and he never shows up, what does that leave us?  The difference between a reality and a myth.  How strong is your belief in GOD?  Would you strand yourself out in a dangerous body of water hoping for saviors to come upon you or would you call actual help?  You can take the joke either way.  As a believer or non believer.  I heard it and thought it was clever.   There’s reality and then there are fake theories and hopes. 

Tyler Dasher’s Unfortunate Death-The 13 month old who died too young Susan Dasher killed her son in Afton on Tuesday because he wouldn’t stop crying.  Welcome to the 21st century.  There’s nothing more horrifying than a mother killing her child.  How do you take something out of this world that you created?  Because he was crying too much???  No excuses in child murder.    Instead of killing her, put her in solitary confinement for the rest of her life.  Mental decay is more powerful than murder.  Let her demons eat away at her. Lock her up and throw away the key.    She took away everything Tyler had and everything he was ever going to have, as Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven(the best Western ever by the way).   She destroyed him for something so premature.   This is why everybody wasn’t meant to be a parent.  Part of the mentality of being a parent is the amount of hard moments you have to stomach and deal with.  A kid crying or screaming, either in pain or misfortune.   At times Vincent appears helpless and unhappy.  The last thing I would do is harm the little fella.   I pick him up and hold him close to my chest and sway him to a quiet peace.  Parenthood 101.  Don’t freak out when your kid does.  It’s not healthy.  Remember, kids are the future.  Do whatever you have to in order for them to survive.  I’d die for my son.  Parents shouldn’t outlive their children. 

The Misery of Hospitals and Dealing With Doctors And Surgeons First, let me say nurses are angels.   They are the people who deal with your kid most of the time while the doctors make cameo appearances and only arrive for a few minutes.  Nurses have to deal with mad babies and kids.  It’s a rough living that my mom has made for nearly 30 years.   She taught me to appreciate nurses when I watched her work growing up.   She takes care of babies for a living at Children’s Hospital.  Since I have spent 11 days there with Vincent in his early life, I have grown to appreciate nurses more and more.   They care for your kid, check his vitals, change his diapers while he is hooked up to 69 cables and wires, and never stop smiling.   It’s not in their job description.  They can’t break down while everyone else is.  Their foundations of character are resolute and their moods are high.  I’ve warned other dads to not piss off the nurses because if they reach the breaking point, all the pain and hardship they have had to harness will be unleashed.  Rise of the Apes?  Try Attack of the Sweet Nurses.   It’s just a theory.  I love nurses.   Doctors and surgeons???  Not so much.  They play the game of telling us only so much for us to stay seated.   They carefully use words so we won’t strike.   They are like human GPS systems with erratic functionality.   Unsure, full of theories but no real direction.   They tell you to turn one way and then go the opposite direction.   They always make you take the longest route.   Lifesavers for sure but they aren’t always right and its painful.  As my sister in law said, they call it “practicing medicine” for a reason.  Every kid is a trial in skill testing.   Doctors and surgeons should have “happily ever after” percentages.   If there is a medicine for parents going through their own mental trauma, I’ll take a dose at any minute.   You can tell me it gets worse, but I might beg to differ.   Tell me if your child has spent a third of his life in Cardiology units under observation and we will talk. 

Henry Rollins Comes Back to St. Louis Going to see Henry vent is a real treat if you appreciate open ended conversation.   Some like to label Rollins a comic and one that tries to quietly pass off as a comic.  I disagree.   Rollins has pointed out in the past that he isn’t going for laughs.   He is simply telling you things on his mind and shedding light on topics through his experiences and travels.   I love what he brings to a stage.   Seeing him live is an experience unlike many others, and one every free speaking soul should take part in.   I’m in need of a Rollins fix.   His latest spoken word tour, “The Long March Tour” arrives in St. Louis next spring.   I’ll be waiting to hear what Henry has to say.   Rollins paid his dues and has earned his place on the stage.  At 51 years old he is still on stage and its because of hard work. Rollins backs up his words with hard work off the stage.  A small intimate gathering for a guy who needs to get stuff off his chest.  Henry and I have something common.

Gary Pinkel’s Grave Mistake Sure, everyone is entitled to a second chance in life and when Pinkel, MU’s proud and clean football coach, was arrested on suspicion of a DWI on Wednesday, the first idea from heads came out like, “Well, it happens to everybody.”   Let me clear things up.  Pinkel fucked up bad here.  He has been an advocate for safe driving and a renegade against drunk driving throughout his entire career at MU.   It’s been his longstanding ideal.   This week he broke it and I doubt it can ever be repaired.   It’s like a politician slamming gay marriage and going home to his gay lover.   Come on.   Hold up your end of the deal, Gary.   College coaches can’t do this for one simple reason.  What can you tell the kids who play for you now when they stumble under your guidance?  “Don’t ever ever drink and drive, unless you’re feeling good…”  Look, I am not trying to slam Pinkel here.  He’s a good guy and a quality leader, but he messed up big time and will pay the price with a suspension and huge credibility hit.   A huge hit for MU after its big time move to the SEC. 

Boardwalk Empire/Sons of Anarchy-A treat for Sopranos withdrawal I am not saying this show is better than Sopranos.   Anyone who thinks that is a fucking moron.  I am telling you there are clear trends shared by and mixed with the Sopranos.   The head writer of Sopranis, Terrence Winter, is the creator of Empire.   Steve Buscemi, a supporting actor on Sopranos, carries the lead in Empire.   Character actors like Buscemi and Dominic Chianese are used in Empire in the same manner they were used on Sopranos.  To create an unbreakable presence.  What I love the most about the shows connection is the basic drive of every character.  A fear of mortality.  The need to fight it off and run from it at times.  That’s the fight in life.   What am I doing here, what can I accomplish and when will I die?  When I am gone, will anyone remember me?  Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson loses his father in this week’s episode and while he hated the old man, there’s an indelible presence of power in the bloodline, a sense of connective tissue that can’t be broken between a father and son.   Thompson barring on this show is responsibility, stature, and the ability to appear good when he is all together bad playing with a warm heart.  Thompson is the classic anti-hero.  A character who needs to be feared for what he can do with his brain and not his hands yet can be redeemed by his rare gestures of goodwill.    Winter’s gem here is quietly taking shape.   Whether it meets the Sopranos in television series legend is up for question.  Give this series a chance if you feel a need for a cold blooded hard boiled gangster tale if you have the need to watch a strive for power amidst a desperate sprint from mortality.  Brilliant series that likens itself to Sons of Anarchy on FX.  SOA is in a revelatory season because one of its main characters, Clay, played by the one and only Ron Perlman, and his ability to set fire to everything personal in his life.  This 4th season has put on firm display the difference between criminal nature and evil deeds.   Clay, a criminal leader of a motorcycle gang who runs guns and now dabbles into drug trade activity, is crossing the line from bad to evil and its amazing to watch.   The quality of acting on these types of shows comes in one’s ability to make us care for his character still while he commits horrible acts.  I could tell you more but you need to watch some of it first. 

Smaller Notes of Interest-Cardinals Activity included

*The MLB Labor Talks will conclude with a Tuesday announcement of a new 5 year deal.   Bud Selig may have gotten things horribly wrong in 1994, but he has learned from his mistakes and turned this sport into a 7 billion dollar revenue sharing monster.   The NBA Lockout isn’t going well and the NFL lockout lasted 3 months.   The MLB talks didn’t need 2 weeks.  Smart minds work well when greed doesn’t exist. 

*The Official St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series DVD arrives on Tuesday and the narrator this time is my boy, St. Louis native Jon Hamm.   Hell YES!  Watching the DVD is like taking a trip back down memory lane and reliving your team’s flight from pretender to contender to champ.   Only one team gets the pleasure every November.   For the 2nd time in 6 seasons, that honor falls on my Cardinals.   That saying doesn’t get old.  

*24/7 on HBO is so freaking good.   The narration by Liev, choice of music and the depth of their coverage of two boxers facing the fight of a lifetime can’t be matched on cable.  HBO is still the all around champ in premium cable entertainment.   Doubt it??  Here are a couple examples.  Videos for your pleasure.  

 http://youtu.be/yEXlfRZtEIA

“History will preserve the pictures they leave behind, even if its the invisible that fuels their craft.”

http://youtu.be/wts-kxfdo4I

“Hockey won’t hold still to give you a better look.   You wouldn’t want it to anyway.  It’s the action that makes the possibilities endless.

http://youtu.be/96n-ESpeP2U

“They strife for lasting legacies, ultimately earned on impulse. They train for months on end, to prepare for battles that can be decided by a single blow. They enter the ring searching for victory, in times secret collection of vicious beats”

*You have to admire Bob Costas for going straight after Jerry Sandusky on 60 minutes this week.   Costas firing body shot after body shot at the accused sexual abuser on prime time TV and resisting the idea to give him a bit of space to breathe with.   Bob always brings the heat and doesn’t let up.   Great reporters don’t give up in an interview no matter what.   They fire tough questions, repeatedly like punches, and won’t stop until they hear the truth.  While Bob never heard the truth, he reached it.   Long live good reporting.  That interview had bold hair attached to its testicles. 

*Rafael Furcal is meeting with the Brewers and its all smoke and mirrors.  There’s no way Doug Melvin is going to lose Prince Fielder and sign an older shortstop like Furcal with Jose Reyes on the market.   Melvin isn’t giving Furcal a three year deal.  No team in their right mind will hand Rafy 3 years and 15-20 million with his age and health issues.   The Brewers already have a fine shortstop in Yunisky Betancourt, who hits better than Rafy and also plays great defense.   Furcal would be smart to return to St. Louis to play with a contender for a reasonable price again.  His agent is crazy right now.  

*Matt Sebek Tweet-The Blues had half of the Cardinals roster drop pucks this season.  Except, ironically enough, Matt Holliday….pause for the boom boom pow.

*Breaking news.  Cal Eldred and John Mabry headed to Mike Matheny’s bench.   A joke my friends.   FSN’s broadcast team is already weakened with the departure of Matheny, so they need all the ex soft Cards they can get.  

*True news  The Cards are talking to Octavio Dotel about returning, and that’s something I like and the team would prefer.   Dotel came up huge late in the season in extended relief.   He shut down Ryan Braun and many other top hitters.  He healed the wound left by Miguel Batista’s failed experiment.  

*Terry Francona wanted the Cardinals job, didn’t get it, and immediately dropped out of the Cubs manager running.  Excuse-He rethought his priorities.   Real reason being he didn’t want to contemplate suicide so late in his career.   The miserable Bears continue.   Fuck the Cubs.

*My Opinion on Pujols rumors.   Believe them or disregard them, but know this.  Whenever the Cards deny things, especially brainy Mo, something is in the works.   Hint hint, the Rasmus trade in July.   The right offer changes everything.  Just saying be ready.   

*The Matheny coaching staff doesn’t surprise.  Mark McGwire had a huge effect on Allen Craig’s power, David Freese’s versatility and Skip Schumacher’s improvement as a hitter.   The demotion of Dave McKay and Joe Pettini were required moves because they are hardcore Tony guys who might have problems excepting orders from Matheny.    Good to keep Oquendo in the fold and promote Chris Maloney from Memphis.  Matheny needs to load up his own staff with guys he can trust with his life. 

*Great tweet from a fake Mike Matheny account-“One Thing I will do that Tony never did?  Rip that toothpick from Dusty Baker’s mouth and beat his ass with it.   He just pisses me off.”  Priceless.  

Song of the Day-“After The Storm” by Mumford and Sons.   This British band headed by Marcus Mumford continues to amaze me.   Their debut album, Sigh No More, took the world by storm and for good reason.  These guys can play and get your attention with your “complete” album.   That’s right.  Every song, all 12 tunes, are gems on this release.   Find it and tell me wrong.  Its like the band tells you a story from 1 to 12.   This album always gets at least 2 plays in the car when it gets thrown in.   Makes every day of errand running that much better.  “I will die alone and be left there, I will just go home, God knows where, because death is just so fair, and mine so small, and Im scared of whats behind and what’s before.  There come a time you’ll see, when love wll not break your heart but dismiss your fears.” http://youtu.be/EMsTSdHIJds

Final Words-Something I tell my son every day is to strive to be better than his dad.   This is not a complete smack to my life and what I’ve accomplished.  I own a house and Im not 30 years old yet.  I have a good paying job and many friends and passions.   I am in good hands with my parents and in laws.   I know my way around and carry intelligience. I’ve done well and am capable of much more, but every father wants their kid to be better.  In some way or fashion.  My one hope I tell him is to reach higher.   Make your own time.  Find something that you are passionate about and get paid to do.   Make peoples lives a kinder place to visit.  Brighten the day.   Resist the need to be completely cynical but don’t abandon the practice entirely.  I lean into his ear and whisper to him to always be the better man.    Good men live long because they are smart and divide their time well.   And also, don’t forget about the cardio and no red meat.   Essentials of any life is to be breathing in the end while others fall from a failure to LISTEN and OBSERVE.  

I am done here.  Thanks for reading and please come back to read more in the future.  I won’t sit here and beg, but I do have a tendency of not going away.  Every writer is only as strong as their latest content. 

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

The Monday News Clips

Good afternoon folks,
 
Just a few things to sprinkle on your lips this morning.  Gauge your reaction to a few topics and see how they hold up in a court of non profit writing law.   Follow me here as I will make this as quick as a trip to Mom’s Deli.  In, out, and rewarded with the best sandwich in St. Louis.  Notice the plug there?  Alright, here we go.
 
Matheny Hire Additional Thoughts-As the boner of a hire finally eases up and comes down, let me allow another point of view to take the stage here.     Whether you like him or not, STL PD writer Bernie Miklasz can drill home a point and back it up with legitimate fact.   When you’ve already fired a healthy round of ammo on a subject, don’t be afraid to give the perspective of a paid set of hands.  
 
Bernie’s Take on the Matheny Hire-
http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-thoughts-on-matheny/article_ac8c3bd8-0e80-11e1-9677-001a4bcf6878.html
 
Here’s what I get out of his column and my additional thoughts on the hire.
 
1.)The question of experience.   No one is an expert on the useful quantity of experience in the world of sports.   Matheny is a brass balls hire by Mozelaik and if he fails, the cannon is pointed at Mo’s head for sure.   That’s the nature of the business and the cutthroat payoff in this world.   You make it a move and it doesn’t pay off and the emphasis falls on your head.   Mo will accept that and take full blame.  But here’s my point.   There’s also no legitimate claim for experience paying off for a manager in the rugged history of sports.   Look at Steve Spagnuolo in Rams park.  Spags worked for many years as a defensive coordinator with the Eagles and Giants before he got the head coaching spot with the Rams.  Spag is 10-33 as the Rams skipper.   Is that a direct connection to Spags’ individual skill as a motivator/leader?   Yes and no.   My point is there is no exact scientific method to hiring a manager/head coach.   Mo had plenty of time to think this through and made a decision.  From La Russa’s August 25th meeting to the beginning of November, there was time taken there.   I respect that more than anything.   Wild thoughts need time to grow.
 
2.)Why Matheny?  Let me respond with, “why not?”   Matheny played in this organization, was a true leader, and has worked with Mozelaik for the past 3 years as an adviser.  He also attends spring training and coaches the younger players.  There’s a reason David Freese referred to Matheny as “Captain America” in Twitter last night. Players like the guy a lot and the Cards coaches all admire him.   That is the start of a good friendship readers.   Matheny has worked with Mozelaik since his retirement and only stayed away from a managing or coaching job until his kids left for college.   Yesterday, both his kids signed letters of intent to play sports in college, so that gave Matheny the clarity to make a decision.   The retirement of La Russa allowed Mozelaik to call on one of his own to take over the job but he did the right thing and interviews 5 other candidates, including Francona, Sandberg, McEwing, Maloney and Oquendo.   This choice fits the organizations need for a different vibe in the dugout.
 
3.)Does this mean he will work out well as a manager?  NO.  As Bernie pointed out, theres no real history of gauge Matheny’s hire with.   We are all going in blind here.  He may be successful  or he may be bad.   Time will tell.   My biggest question is how dugout mentality and attitude.   How will Matheny look in the dugout?   Matheny was an intense competitor and wasn’t afraid to shout and scream.    Will that carry over into the managing days or is he more calm?   That’s what I want to see.  What will he compose his lineup cards with?   How much will he tinker?  Will he second guess himself and revolt against the media?  Matheny has always had a relaxed give and go with the local media,so I expect no problems there.   Will Matheny tell Molina and Albert to run harder to first?  Who cares? That fake Charlie Hustle bullshit never bothers me because Pujols is playing on bad wheels and how mad would Cardinal Nation be if he blew out a hamstring running out a routine grounder?  Ask yourselves that question Cardinal reader blowhards.   Will Matheny be a by the book instructor or an unconventional leader?  There’s so much to look for that I can’t put it all into one post.  Expect more on later.  
 
Let me copy and paste Bernie’s section on the affect of Matheny’s hiring on Pujols’ decision in free agency. It fits so well with my own words that I won’t bother adding to it. 
 
“Folks keep asking: will this hiring help or hurt the team’s chances of keeping Albert Pujols? My opinion: it does not matter. Pujols and Matheny were teammates. Pujols certainly seems to like and respect Matheny. But so what? This will be a money deal for Pujols, as it should be. He’s entitled to do that. He’s earned the right to cash in as a free agent. Pujols has to do what’s best for Pujols and family. And if the Cardinals low-ball Pujols, the manager’s identity is irrelevant. If the Cardinals pay Pujols what he wants, he’ll come back, and the decision won’t have a thing to do with the manager. ”
 
My easy addition-There is no connection.  It comes down to Albert and his choice.   No GOD involvement needed here.
 
Matheny has big shoes to step into here but my feeling is he can handle them.    Will it turn into success?  There’s no real clue but I’d like to think so.  I don’t think he will get nervous or crumble under the weight of expectations.   Matheny’s played and worked with La Russa.   He’s played with Pujols and Molina.  He’s been around the organization for years, lives here year round and is a maniac about taking new challenges.  Also, another key ingredient is Matheny welcoming back coaches Duncan, McKay and Oquendo.  A rookie manager has to surround himself with smart seasoned talent, like Kirk Gibson in Arizona and Ron Roeneke in Milwaukee.  Matheny is off to a good start.   For now, folks, let it be.
 
4th Down Attempts and Why I Don’t Agree with the Popular Method
 
On Sunday, Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith made a gutsy call on fourth down in overtime with the Falcons tied with the Saints.   Two teams fighting for a playoff spot and Smith went for the drive on 4th and inches.   Bad call?  That depends if it works out or not. As my good friend Rj told me, if the move works out, Smith is a genius.  It didn’t work, so he is a controversial goat today, but I am here to debunk the myth of fourth down strategy.   Let me start with a question.  Why does it always have to be a running play?  Fourth and a yard or fourth and a foot, it doesn’t matter to me but why does the play always come down to a running back getting the ball and running into a sea of defenders?  To me, it doesn’t make sense.   Let’s say its fourth and inches, like yesterday’s predicament.   You only need inches to keep the drive alive.   Matt Ryan, the quarterback, takes the handoff from center and since the play call was a run, needs to step back 3 yards in order to hand it off to the tailback, who lines up 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.   WHY HAND IT OFF?   The entire defense is crowding the line of scrimmage, begging for a run play.   Why not have Ryan take the snap and dive to the left or right for the first down?  All he has to do is fall forward and he gets it.   How about this?  Take the snap, fake the handoff and roll out on a play action and possibly connect for a big gain.   Do a quick slant inside.  Something other than a run.   A week ago against Arizona, Spagnuolo and McDaniels went for it on 4th down and late in the game, and called a run straight up the gut.  Steven Jackson could be made of pure metal and he still wouldn’t get through that line of meat.   No way.  It’s just a suggestion from the couch/sidelines here.   I’m asking why the popular opinion is to run the ball when the entire defense is expecting it.   Try something different, NFL so called wizards.  It’s a game of inches, but those inches can be gained with a more creative brain power tactic.
 
The NBA Gets Nothing Done.  Ha ha.   That’s really all I can say at this point about a league that is so far apart on player compensation and overall revenue split that you hesitant to believe the sport is played by men.   The Owners don’t want to give more than 45 percent of their share away.   The Players want restricted status and a bigger piece of the pie.   I will say the owners giving the players an ultimatum to agree to a deal is right because of the fan’s impact on the game.   For the people who follow the NBA religiously and don’t just watch playoff action like me, this is a painful time.  However, I simply don’t care what happens and if all I watch this winter is hockey and football, so be it.   Greed gets a whole new name in pro sports.  The NBA lockout will go into December at the very least.
 
Rex Ryan is really chomping on his words this morning after going 0-2 against the Patriots this season.  I am usually a fan of Rex’s mouth magic but here he went on and on throughout the season about beating the Patriots and going to the Super Bowl.   Attention Mr. Ryan, until your defense can consistently stop Tom Brady and your guy Sanchez can take the ball and lead his team down the field on a game changing drive, nothing will work.   I will go down and say this.   Sanchez and Joe Flacco will never win Super Bowls because they don’t have that intangible in their game where fear doesn’t exist. 
 
Eagles news of the day.   Michael Vick broke 2 ribs and looks more brittle than an antique plate.   DeSean Jackson apologizes for missing a team meeting that helped his team lose to the Arizona Cardinals, which is like losing to the Bad News Bears.   The Philly bunch are overrated losers who will win nothing in 2011.  I love when predictions go wrong.
 
Craig Kimbrel is your Rookie of the Year as long as you don’t count September.  The Braves young closer blew up big time on the big stage, failing to close down a game on the last day of the season and force a playoff game with the Cardinals.   How did Motte do in high pressure situations overall in September? Better.  Just sayin.
 
The Big 10 removes Joe Paterno’s name from the trophy.  OUCH!   One major oversight cost Joe a lot of credibility now and for the rest of his life and the span of his legacy.   From now on, it’s “Joe was a great coach and owns 409 wins but he also disregarded a warning sign about a pedophile”.  
 
Looking forward to George Clooney’s new film, the Descendants.  Cloon plays a dad whose wife goes into a coma and only then does he find out she was having an affair.  He must cope with his two daughters and struggle to understand where it all went wrong.  Clooney is a master player in Hollywood because he chooses smart scripts, directs, produces and picks his parts.   The Ides of March-Descendants power punch will translate into some Oscar nominations in January.   I want to see this film because it’s about a guy who has been knocked down by the tragedy of life and needs to find his way out of a trap.   The film is directed by Alexander Payne, the king of pain, and comes out Wednesday.   This brand of film fits the wild nature of Rum Diary and assured greatness of Warrior as a required venture into the brutally realistic landscape of Hollywood stories. 
 
According to Buster Olney, several Cardinals went to the plate for Mike Matheny the past few weeks during the manager search.  
 
The Dodgers are smart to lock up Matt Kemp while they still can, which means doing it this offseason before the Red Sox and Yankees are hunting next year.   The Dodgers need new owners and players to build around.   Building around Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw is the way to go. 
 
Vincent is doing better today yet won’t eat until tomorrow morning for the first time since Saturday morning.   The kid has went through the ringer this weekend, and only wants something to eat.   Cut open, worked on, faked with IV fluids and generally upset about his situation, my son is a mad man.   I can see him carrying a general disdain for hospitals when he is older and I tell him he spent the better part of his early life inside on one.  It’s all a painful process…but he’s healthier now.  Selling point.
 
With that final gesture of medical approval, my work here is done. 
 
Thanks for reading and goodnight,
 
DLB
 
 
 

The Usual Suspects

Hello folks,

A quick stream of consciousness as I tend to Vinny here in the hospital.    Saying its been a long couple days is like saying the Bay of Pigs went smoothly 40 years ago.  It’s been hard and tough.    Look, the biggest anxiety and stress test for a parent is to see their kid in a state of pain, shock, or general “go fuck yourself” work state of mind.   It’s just not good.  There’s no pain meds or drink for this.  All one can do is trust the doctors and nurses around to curb the attitude, restore the mood and present a better future.    Vinny had his surgery today to fix his case of plyoric stenosis, a condition that causes the hole in his stomach that collects food to be so tiny that he wasn’t getting any food down or digested and instead vomiting it up like a sick kid.   Imagine eating and having no way of transformation below to break it down.   The muscle in the stomach is so strong when he tightened it the food came flying out of his mouth.   This is a common problem with new borns, as it affects 3 in every 1000 kids born and surgeries are done here at Childrens 3 to 4 times a week.   Still, this being the second visit for Vinny to the hospital in his young 2 month old life is too much for him or us to handle.    Every time my kid knocks down an obstacle in the ring, another problem steps in and wants to fight.   Watching nurses trying to put an IV in the kid’s arm qualifies as the worst experience a parent can go through.   He’s sitting there, looking at you like you just destroyed every bottle of formula in the world and now two nurses are poking his arm and stealing his go go juice.  NOT FAIR, DAD!  He leaves this incident with a decent incision on his chest, 2 cm wide, that will only score him instant cred at daycares.   Picturing Vinny walking up to a couple girls and saying, “Hey, lookee here ladies, my diapers full and(raising shirt) I got this as well.   Thats right, give me your daycare hours.”   The only true meds in life that don’t come in pill or liquid form is a good sense of humor.   Keep that healthy and you can survive anything.

Let’s rip into some topics today as the day slowly winds down into the evening.

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez try to kill each other in Vegas

Right after sending you the Frazier-Ali Manila article, here are two more guys looking to seriously hurt one another.   This was the third fight in this epic series of welterweight pros, and Manny got the decision on a close majority decision.  While I didn’t watch this fight, I received texts from a good friend and followed it on ESPN mobile.   The conscensus was that each fighter could have left with the decision, but since Pac Man is champ and it takes a one sided beating to dethrone a champ, he left with the nod.   Every fight has been close between these two.  The reasons for that are left to be determined, but I chalk it up as two fiercely competitive old school fighters standing toe to toe in a ring and dishing out punishment.  Unlike most current boxers, Pacquiao and Marquez like to actually FIGHT in a ring and not dance, hold onto each other or continously butt heads while imitating combat.   These two love to hit each other because each is confident they are the better boxer.   The first fight in 2004 ended in a draw.  Both men beaten and bruised like soldiers of fortune left in a box to play.   The second fight, in 2008, went to Pacquiao in a decision Marquez thought was tilted in his direction.   The third fight last night, surprised me and convinced me that these two simply know how to fight each other.   No one has given this monster from the Phillipines as much trouble as Marquez.   Manny has dished aside bigger and stronger opponents with ease, coming out of the fight with a few bruises and a sense of humor and ready to play his afterparty concert.   Last night, he looked a little beaten up, slurred speech and hesitant.   Once again, Marquez had pushed him to the depths of defeat and Manny barely escaped with a win and a clean record in his last 15 fights.   The idea of the fight was simple.  Pacquiao kept coming with shots and pushing the action, while Marquez stood his ground and fired counter punches at will that landed flush on Manny’s face.   Deciding a winner depends on what you see as most important in a fight.   Energy, punches landed and pace or accuracy of punches.    Manny landed more and pushed the action while Marquez decided to sit back, return fire but give off the notion of a man deciding to not attack excessively.  A decisive 12th round where Pac Man challenged and landed big shots while Marquez laid back and let it go to the cards may have led to the close decision.    One judge had it a draw while one gave it to Manny 115-113 and another scored it 116-112.   The unofficial judge, HBO’s Howard Lederman, scored it 116-112 in favor of Pacquaio.  My friend had it scored at a draw but said either earned the decision and that it took a lot of unseat a champion.   There’s a secret layer of politics here as well.   All promoters, judges and fans need to know that the next fight in this town with Manny has to be with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and that only works with Manny getting a decision.  This isn’t me saying Manny unrightfully stole the decision.  The fight was so close you may have blinked and missed a tide turning blow but the two hit each other so frequently all night a decision came down to personal perspective and appeal.   I can’t wait to dive in and watch it this weekend when it encores on HBO.   Did Manny deserve to win or was his victory a finacial step towards Floyd’s epic battle?  I side initially with the former because reading the descriptions and recaps, Manny pressed the action, landed plenty and closed better.  Floyd fight or not, Pacquiao and Marquez will fight again because all commercial appeal aside, boxing needs more fights like this.   Brutal, bloody, close quartered slugfests that remind old school fans that it is still possible for a pair of men to stand in a ring and deal punishment.   Boxing is being defeated by Mixed Martial Arts because of skill sets but more importantly because the sport gives back revenue to its practice and delivers exciting if fleeting matches.  Fights like Pac Man and Marquez remind us that good boxing matches still exist.   Fierce reminders that boxing is a land of warriors and not a land of wimpy clutching dancing muscle bound athletes.   There’s science and command, but a healthy dose of “I need to beat you bad so I survive this night” mentality in there.  That’s Manny’s MO these days.   Get into the ring and deal because we didn’t train for 3 months to dance around in a ring and tap each other.   The intent in boxing has to be punishment and pain.   That produces real fights and pure entertainment.   The Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy of wars is the medicine that boxing needs.

Quick Takes on Cardinal Offseason Questions

*Mike Matheny will be named the new manager tonight or tomorrow.  I’m a big fan of this hiring because it makes sense for this franchise.  Matheny is a perfect choice for the new era and brings a true grit to the dugout.  Experience isn’t everything folks.  Respect counts. As Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday, when those guys look into your eyes, they have to believe.  Matheny is a risk and a good choice for this team.  Now is the time to be risky.   Matheny represents a bold and risky choice for general manager John Mozelaik and owner Bill DeWitt III.   This is their first official hire and instead of going the safe and assured route with Francona, they may be looking towards putting their own stamp on the bench with a 41 year old ex catcher in Matheny.  This is Mo’s way of putting his own foot on franchise. The hiring of Matheny means brass balls on Mozelaik’s part, bringing a rookie manager to handle the baseball cathedral in St. Louis.   This team needed some new blood.   Risky blood.  Matheny doesn’t have 3 World Series but he played with Molina, Pujols and Carp and really connects with Duncan and Mozelaik.  Mozelaik didn’t make a crazy wild move here.  He made a measured one. Since La Russa called it in late August, Mo has been talking to Matheny for 3 months.   Matheny played for the Cards from 2000-2004, providing the Cards with a general behind the plate and the man who personally trained Yadi Molina to be a great young catcher.   Matheny was a leader of men on the field and is imminently respected inside the Cards clubhouse.   He has worked as an adviser to Mozelaik for a few years and waited for his chance to climb into the dugout.   He has zero experience as a coach or manager but I invite the unpredictable outlook as the suits here.  Matheny is a good, risky, cheaper yet easy choice.   You have to choose where you want to go after La Russa stepped down.   Stay with the assured vet or go with the risky rookie?  If sources hold up, the Cards are getting dirty and digging their feet into the future in hiring a veteran player to handle his first coaching job as manager of the Cardinals.   I like the choice because it’s bold and it also makes sense.  This team has won 2 championships in the past 10 years and will compete.  This is a team that doesn’t depend on its manager to win games each night.   Expect fireworks tomorrow.

*Thoughts on Albert and his choices.  My biggest case for Albert is I think he’s earned a long term deal to finish in STL. As my good friend Pj points out, every long term deal presents risk to a team.   The Cards or any other team will be overpaying Albert in the future to keep him here now.   It’s part of the deal and current frame work of MLB contracts.   With Albert, the idea of consistency should tromp plenty of the doubt.   It’s not hard to believe in a few years he will still be cranking 30 HR, 100 RBI and hitting .300.    If not, the Cards jump on the sword like any other team in signing Albert.  If any player has earned the right to name his price and home, it’s Albert.   I’ve always said it’s his choice but the Cards must present him with an offer that is respectable.   They can’t give him the bank but they can pay him handsomely for his service.  Anybody who whines I will sing the Bruce Hornsby classic to your ears.  “That’s just the way it is/some things just never change/that’s just the way it is.”   He’s played for 11 yrs at 16 or less and earned the security blanket. As far as where he lands, its his choice.  Does he want to become part of rebuilding mode in Florida?  He knows The Cards contend every year for a championship.  Which does he want?   Wins, cash or a challenge.  He gets all three here. I rest my case.

*If The Florida Marlins are smart, they will give their new cash to Jose Reyes and a starting pitcher.   It’s impossible to think expanding a budget by 23 million nets you 3 great players.   Instead of handing 23-28 million to Albert, the Marlins take a leap of faith with Reyes and sign a starting pitcher.  They need to correct several areas and first base isn’t one of them.   While Albert is a great marketing tool and fits in well in the Latin America packed Florida area, the Marlins can be smart here.   If only Reyes could stay healthy, he would be an unbeatable free agent.   Reyes gives you five tools in a big time star.   A starting shortstop with gold gloves to back up his reputation, a leadoff hitter with pop and the ability to hit .340 and a base stealing threat to get into scoring position.  He covers 2 vital positions on a team.   Shortstop and leadoff hitter.   All bias put aside, Florida would be smarter to lock down Reyes and sign a starting pitcher like C.J. Wilson to a long term deal.   Don’t throw big bucks at Mark Buerele, who is getting older and can’t win 15 games anymore.  Bring in C.J. Wilson and rework your rotation.  If the Marlins have 25-30 million to spare, use it on those two players.  They give you two strong players who are both younger than Pujols and suited for the rebuilding project down south.

*John Mozelaik told Joe Strauss that he likes a middle infield of Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso.   While DD is dependable and gives you a small pop at the plate, Greene isn’t a major league shortstop.   Tyler Greene isn’t sharp enough defensively and can’t hit major league pitchers.   He is a career minor leaguer.  Greene gives you a late inning baserunning sub and nothing more in the majors.   Descalso is a more useable commodity as a utility player who can play third base, shortstop and second.   If Furcal can be brought back for 4-6 million, I’d think about bringing back Skip Schumacher for 1 to 2 million.  Why?  Skip is a hard working versatile player who has hit .280 or higher 3 out of the last 4 seasons.   A cheap weapon.   Keep Greene in the Memphis truck keeping the engine warm.

Blues Talk-The Hitchcock Era Unfolding??

Three games into the Blues run under new coach Ken Hitchcock, I am seeing the imprints of his style of play being injected into the Blues play.   The energy is higher and the player seem to be playing without a watchful fatherly eye.   Hitch is allowing his players to let it go and roll into their own rhythm.   T.J. Oshie is on fire in his past 5 games.  Barrett Jackman played one of his best games on Saturday.   David Backes is bringing it every night.   You don’t see Hitch shouting at players or looking stressed out like a 2008 placed accoutant looking at a ticker tape.   Hitch seems to be relaxed, laid back and enjoying himself.  He said he invited the return to coaching because he had found a calmer way of life in his time in the Columbus Blue Jackets office.  It shows behind the Blues bench.  Beating the Tampa Bay Lightning was a huge step towards showing consistency.   A very impressive win by Blues.   60 mins, 200 ft of play.   Shut down a very good offensive team in TB.  Team is full of energy.  Three strong games in front of Hitchcock represents a change.  See viable imprints of hard nosed high energy hockey.  2 shutouts and a shootout loss are signs of improvement for this team is zig zagging rogues.  Brian Elliot notched his second shutout and third for the team last night in the 3-0 win over the Lightning.  The Blues shut down a high scoring team last night, a favorably sign for their defense.  The penalty killing and power play unit, with exception of the first period on Thursday against the Maple Leafs, are looking very good.   Is this a coincidence or evident improvement under Hitchcock?   I’m withholding judgement until a few more games but I’ll say the new skipper is showing signs of turning this ship around.

The Rams Score An Ugly Win In Cleveland

Once again, this team makes an attempt to hand the game back to the opposing team.   The Rams led the Browns 10-9 for 20 minutes today before holding on for a 13-12 win that won’t be something to write home about.   Wins are wins in the NFL, but the Rams barely won and only escaped with a win because their defense played very well.  It would have been downright wrong for a team with a defense holding the opposing offense to a touchdown in 2 games to lose both contests.   Bradford looked rough all afternoon, showing an inefficiency to make passes in the red zone.   Steven Jackson went over 130 yards rushing and had his 3rd quality game in a row.   The Rams can’t play 4 quarters without losing a couple players.   Tight end Michael Houmaniiwaui hurt his knee and left in the 3rd quarter and the defense also lost a cornerback.   Injuries affect this team more than any other recent season and is a small clue to the reason we are 2-7 on the season.   Overall, this team isn’t a good team and doesn’t score enough.   We scored 1 touchdown against a defense which has been shredded by every other team.   Hard to win with this style of play but we managed to do it today.

Small NFL Tidbits-

*The Eagles and Ravens can’t be serious playoff threats.   The Eagles are 3-6 today after losing to the Arizona Cardinals, who are 3-6 as well.  The preseason Eagles, picked to win the Super Bowl before games were played, produced another downer of a game.   In part to DeSean Jackson missing the game due to missing a team meeting and being benched.  No discipline leads to losses.   The Ravens lost to the Taveras Jackson led Seahawks today, which has to end the talk of them being the AFC threats.   Joe Flacco will have a hard time leading this team anywhere if he can’t beat the Seahawks a week after beating Pittsburgh for the second time.   Which Ravens team shows up next week?

*The Patriots and Jets face off tonight and one has to like the Jets based on past history.   While Sanchez continues to think the other team is wearing a Jets jersey when he passes, the Jets play strong defense and finish well and always seem to surprise the Pats.  Tom Brady’s suddenly crumbling kingdom needs a win with a 5-3 record, so look for smashmouth football in Foxboro tonight.   Can Shawn Greene run over the Pats?  Can the Pats stop the running game?  Will Brady see another consistent pass rush?  All clues.  Having said this, the Pats will go on a tear and win by 36 points.

*The Saints beat the Falcons again by 7 points or less in game ending fashion.  Every season, Drew Brees figures out a way to beat Matt Ryan in the closing minutes.   One day, The Boston College product breaks through for a win.   Love the way these two teams battle each other.  I have always thought these two could play a helluva NFC title game.

*My dream match for the Super Bowl is The Patriots and Packers.   Tons of points put up on the board with two weak secondaries and two great QB’s firing on every cylinder.   I want an entertaining Super Bowl and it would inviting to see Brady, king of the old, face off against the new kid on the block in Rodgers.   I am not a fan of Brady but love to see him on high stakes matchups.   This would be a good game.

*The Steelers will go as far as their defense takes them.   Ben Roethlisberger is a great fourth quarter player and the running game is strong with Rasheed, but the defense carries this team.   I’d like to see a Patriots-Steelers AFC title game, which could also set up a Packers-Steelers rematch in a juicy Super Bowl.  This is the story of a Rams fan.   Predicting championship games without your home team.

*The Rams have the core pieces in place but need a new coach, a big receiver and more discipline play.   Red zone efficiency.   Bradford is the type of Super Bowl arm that is capable of playing at that level, but right now he can’t make the big throws that separate regular season QB’s from playoff heroes.   Steven Jackson is a quality running back and gaining great yards without a good passing game to back him up.   The receivers are anchored in B-types, which doesn’t produce big plays.  The Defense lacks a true secondary warrior but James Lauranitas and Chris Long anchor the front staff of the unit and have played well against big teams like Philly and Baltimore.  The Running game still gashes the Rams and their overall offensive attack doesn’t lack creativity(McDaniels calling good plays), but receivers aren’t catching and Bradford isn’t throwing great.   There are too many problems with this team for them to be playoff bound and that’s the exact opposite from earlier this season.   Expect a big offseason coming up for this team as Owner Stan Kroneke decides who stays and who goes.

The Random Bits

*If I could save the world, I would.   I would give my son Vincent a bottle right now that he isn’t supposed to have.   I would solve world peace.  I would provide water to all the deprived regions.  I would cancel interest rates on credit cards and hire henchmen to collect payments.   I would put a laundry mat inside bars so people could be productive and have fun.  “Hold that shot of Jack while I change over a load” is a phrase that would be fired at will.  I’d create more jobs by breaking more things.   I’d have people do more cardio and get in better shape.   I’d open a gym with their own isolated cardio rooms for people to concentrate and not get nervous around a packed room of machines.   I’d open more diners with healthier food.   Mix a courtesy diner with bread company?   I’d buy more albums and DVD’s for collections.    In a nutshell, I’d produce more original scripts in Hollywood instead of remakes.  I’d make the world a better place by having drivers retest every 20 years.   I’d create different energy sources so we could stop depending on oil loaded countries and electric car nonsense.   With time and money, I’d fix things. (Sorry, I had to include the political hunk ending)

*I respect Jeremy Renner because he has earned his status as a desired actor in Hollywood.  10 years ago, he was eating on 5 dollars a week in a tiny apartment with no electricity because he wanted to be an actor.  I appreciate actors who work hard for a craft and don’t give up on a dream.  Renner ate ramon noodles, doughnut holes and Mcdonalds cheeseburgers while living in LA with his bulldog.   There are harsher circumstances but Renner’s perserverance is impressive.   Now he is starring Mission Impossible 4, Hurt Locker, Avengers and more.

*One more thing on Matheny.  This moves was in the wings for a while and only slowed down when Francona and Sandberg entered the picture in late September.  La Russa informed Mo of his decision in late August, meaning there were talks between Mo and Matheny for 3 months.   Experience counts, but there are tons of managers out there with experience that are doing badly.   Sometimes, a dose of fresh blood is good for a franchise.   I like the Matheny deal for several reasons but mainly I like the boldness of the pick.   Proves Mo’s got balls of steel.

*Now that Robert Irvine has been eliminated off the Next Iron Chef, I am losing interest.   With cooking competitions(tougher than you think, how well can you cook under pressure and with judges and timers?), I have one favorite and when he dies off, I kind of stop watching.   Irvine is a British cook with real skill, but made a hummus too thick and lost a close 1 on 1 battle in Kitchen Stadium.   That’s how tough those competitions are.   Make the tiny error and lose it all.   That’s the challenge of skill on display on the Food Network.   Check it out before you knock it.

*While things are in dire straits with Vin this weekend, I do get to find comfort in my lullaby being a combo of HBO shows so potent that anyone can get a mood boost out of them.   Starting with Boardwalk Empire, continuing with Hung and ending with How to Make it in America.  2 hours of television that’s better than most movies.

Ending Thought-Vinny’s predicament should inspire all of us to redefine our thoughts of bad times.  In essence, don’t sweat the small stuff.   When you are done about something, remember what my kid has gone through before he was 2 months old.   Vinny was born a small baby, coming into this world undersized and ranking in the 2 percent range of newborns.   He was diagnosed with WPW, Wolf Parkinson White, an ailment causing SVT, and causing his heart rate to skyrocket.  Vinny’s been poked, prodded and given 2 throat tubes.   He was dealt a hand this week of plyoric stenosis, a condition that doesn’t allow food to be digested and has restricted him from gaining weight and getting a bottle for 48 hours.  My kid has had it rough very early so the next time you feel like life is closing in on you, remember Vinny.

That’s it.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.   My work here is done.

Sincerely,

D. Buffa