The Buffa Blast

Quick and brutal, I’m going to run through a midday stream of conscience while on break.

The Safe Bet For Cardinals Manager-Terry Francona, all end of the 2011 season turmoil in Boston aside, is the most logical outside choice for the Cardinals.   If they interview Jose Oquendo(qualified and safe inside choice), decide he isn’t the right guy for the job, Francona is the best guy for the job.  John Mozelaik doesn’t need to go out and find Wyatt Earp to manage this team.   The Cardinals are a sound group of smart veteran and young players who know how to go about their business.   This team is built to contend and doesn’t need a fiery presence like Lloyd McClendon(a choice of a friend of mine).   The Cardinals need a person to come in, install a sense of order, supervise the activity and stand to the side and let his players work their talent.  Terry Francona won 2 World Series in Boston by letting his players run wild and free.  It backfired on him in September when the team quit playing and players were found to spend time in the clubhouse eating and watching TV during games.  However, Francona fits the Cards mold of safe, strong, experienced leadership.   He is a guy who will take orders, won’t object often and let Pujols and company roam.   Jim Riggleman walked out on the Nationals midseason in true Whitey style  because he didn’t get a contract extension, and that delivered a severe blow to his creditability.  Joe Maddon is staying put in his ground up built academy in Tampa.   Francona is either going to the Cards or he will land in Chicago with his old friend Theo Epstein after he gets rid of Mike Quade.  Francona is a logical choice for the Cards and seems to fit their idea of a manager.  He isn’t my first choice but he could be high on the list at Busch.

I don’t think La Russa’s departure will have a negative effect on Pujols’ situation.  A lot of players have the freedom to do what they want on teams.   Your example was perfect.  The Entire Red Sox team had this freedom.   Eat chicken, watch porn, play video games and do whatever.  Pujols is such a great player he gets to run through stop signs, play hurt and run
wild.   I still don’t think he called his own hit and run.  I just can’t believe it and if he did, he would have swung and not lost a chance at an RBI in a crucial game.  I don’t think Pujols will have an extreme caution to come back because La Russa is gone.  He was a father figure to Albert and treated him like a son, but Pujols will adapt and play fine under a new skipper. Bad
players let new managers ruin their careers.   La Russa’s departure is serious but not a bad thing for Albert’s future.   Pujols won’t be the guy to come out and say this manager sucks and I can’t play for him.  Nothing will stop Albert from doing his normal routine.  It helped that most of the time his daring baserunning paid off, his play at first base warranted the
claim of 2B-1B with his positioning and his decision making helped the ballclub.   If the Cards were smart, they are going to hire a Francona type who is respected yet lets his players run
wild.

There is a 5 day exclusive rights period for the Cards to talk to Albert Pujols and after midnight tonight, he is officially a free agent.   Look, real honest here about Albert.   While the Cards know they waited as long as possible to get this done, Albert has to know the Cards can’t pay him crazy money.   They can’t match Chicago, Texas or The Dodgers with a new owner dollar for dollar.   In the end, Albert’s going to have to take a discount to remain a Cardinal.   That’s the cost of having Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Lance Berkman flanking you every night.  If you want to have a loaded roster in a mid level market, you have to know where the limits are.   Albert deserves the golden deal, but he has to understand who he is talking to.   Reality needs to hit both sides of this negotiation.   Pujols needs to finish his career here and for that to happen, he will have to take 1 or 2 less years and 5-6 less million dollars a year.   That’s the bottom line.   If the talks fall apart, everyone’s eyes will be on Pujols and why he let it go.   I will look at both sides and wonder.   However, Albert Pujols must know where he wants to go because at the end of the day, when all the chips hit the ground, he will have to choose to stay here and not accept the extra 4-6 million or extra couple years.  That’s his choice.  But….

The problem is, Mo and the suits aren’t contacting Albert yet.   With 5 days to exclusively talk to the best player in baseball, they are letting Albert’s people contact
them.  Bad move.  I don’t care what Albert wants here.  Call Lorano now.   You don’t waste those hours waiting before he hits the market.  Why let Albert hit
the market without a new offer and after the recovery MVP second half Albert had, the offer better be bigger than springs offer.   Waiting is stupid, so this completely wipes
out our point.  They should contact Albert, get him signed and promise him a part in finding the manager.  If this leads to Jose getting the job and
Albert staying, I’m fine with it.  If this pushes the two sides apart, let Albert make his brother the manager.   Mo and company would be stupid to not let the sharp mind of Albert have a say in the search.   We agree here.  La Russa’s exit doesn’t negatively impact Albert’s situation unless the Cards fail to contact him soon and let him know about the new skipper.  Remember what The Lakers did to Kobe when they hired Mike Brown without telling him.  It pissed him off.   Let’s not piss off Albert here.  He is too important.

For all the fuck tards that think Lance Berkman can do what Albert can at first base, let me remind you.   Lance Berkman is declining and while he had an amazing season, he will
never do what Albert can do and will have a hard time repeating his 2011 performance.  Everyone is writing in Lance at first, and that is plain stupid.  Berkman is a mere insurance policy for Pujols and always has been.   Prime or late career, Berkman isn’t Albert in any facet of the game.  Leave him in right field to split time with Allen Craig.   Putting him at first base doesn’t mean he will repeat his performance from 2010 or dobetter.   Betting on Berkman doing what he did again is high stakes poker.  I like the guy but stop the nonsense.

For me, giving Jose Oquendo a shot is the safest move of all.   He is well respected, been around the game for a long time, doesn’t carry any negative history and is comfortable in the surroundings of this team.   There would be little carry over effect if Jose stepped into the manager’s office.  Going from third base to the dugout.   You wouldn’t have to convince Albert Pujols that Francona/Riggleman have gotten over their rough past and will be good for the team.  Hire Oquendo and Pujols signs the next day because players are comfortable with him already.  There’s a core of respect and knowledge that exists in Oquendo’s relationship to this team.   He isn’t a risk like Francona and Riggleman are.  He is a cheap, worthy, old school baseball mind with a need to lead.  Hopefully, he is considered.

Yadi Molina win his 4th Gold Glove.  This is a no brainer because everybody in baseball knows how good Molina is and his overall effect on the running game.  Molina doesn’t get as many chances as other catchers because runners simply don’t test him as often.   If it’s handling a changing pitching staff, throwing out runners at second or picking runners off third, Molina is a programmed machine behind the plate.   He shuts down running games.  He is revered in this league.   He is the most deserving catcher in either league and deserves to be honored.

I have no problem with the Cards declining the options of Rafy Furcal and Octavio Dotel.    They both helped this team immensely in the second half of 2011, but there is no room on the payroll to hand Rafy 12 million or Dotel 3.5 million.   You pull them in and renegotiate.   Dotel was a great addition and was key in shutting down big righthanded hitters in the playoffs.   He was also a clubhouse rally soul and lifted this team up and put a vet presence in the bullpen.   Furcal fixed the infield defense with his sure glove and rifle arm.   His bat was streaky and occasionally included power but will never be the Furcal of old.   Furcal needs to realize he isn’t a 12 million dollar player anymore.  Either he accepts that, takes less(4-5 million with incentives) or gets stupid and goes elsewhere.  Dotel pitched better here than he has anywhere in years in the final 3 months.   Both are players I want back but not at 15.5 million. With Albert pending, no way.  I will say the Cards are loaded at depth in right handed relief and have little major league shortstop talent ready, so Furcal is more important.

Switching Gears to Football-

Tim Tebow is struggling and that is to be expected from a kid with unpolished skills and a raw talent set for quarterback.    Tebow played an ugly three quarters against Miami two weeks ago and put together a strong 4th to lead a come from behind win but got hammered last week in Detroit.   He went from escape artist to supreme punch line across America.   He deserves a couple more shots at taking over the job before the forgotten kid, Brady Quinn, gets his 5th shot at being a successful NFL quarterback.   Tebow is the classic underdog.   His head coach, John Fox and owner John Elway don’t want him to succeed because they didn’t pick him to make it and want a pocket passer.  Former Denver Head Coach and current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow with the hopes of installing him in his wild offense.  Tebow is going to have to overcome a lot and drastically improve his overall game if he wants to beat the odds.   He is a good kid, talented physical specimen and has the ability to lead but he needs to improve.  He gets at least another week before Fox pulls him and shuts down the Tebow show.  He is a fine example of a fan favorite being given zero favors in an attempt to prove others wrong.  As Bill Parcells said, you either win or lose at this level and that’s all that counts.

Sam Bradford returns to action this week and hopefully gets into the game against Arizona.  The fact that the Rams won 1 of A.J. Feeley’s starts is tremendous.  Feeley overthrew receivers all day and managed to not mess up a good day.   Now Bradford makes his way back.   After missing 2 weeks with a high ankle sprain, he is back on the field and moving around.   Part of his return is to create a winning streak and maybe salvage the season or exit with a little dignity.  Facing a lowly Arizona team without its starting quarterback is a bonus opportunity.  Kevin Kolb has turf toe(one of this conditions I can’t wrap my head around) and probably won’t play.  This is a chance for the Rams to create some momentum and get back into the NFC West picture.  With the 49ers outstanding start, the likelihood of a comeback here is small if nonexistent.  However, you can’t hurt yourself by winning so I’m excited to see the Rams are standing with their heads up.  Bradford is the cornerstone player here and gives an impact to this team few can match.  He is a smart calculated player who will be thrilled to notice a new toy and set of arms on the outside wing in receiver Brandon Lloyd.  The Rams can’t afford to lose to bad teams and must take care of business this weekend on the road.

If it is left to Feeley and the Rams, Sunday’s game will be ugly.   The Rams and Cards rank near the bottom of the league in penalties and overall ugly play.   Two backup quarterbacks and two bad offensive lines.  The Cards O-Line is horrible, so Chris Long and Robert Quinn should put up great work on the ends.   My advice would be to pound Steven Jackson into the Cards defense all day long and hope Feeley doesn’t lose the game for you.   The Rams need to win this game badly.   Lose and grab a shovel.

Andrew Luck may suck in the NFL.  There, I said it.   I’m sick and tired of hearing how good this kid may be based on college performances and the way he throws or beats defenses in college play.   I have seen the kid play and while he is impressive, there is no guarantee he can put up wins in the NFL.   Wait and see.  No player is a lock to play well in the NFL.  There is no way to calculate Luck making big plays or succeeding in this league.  Look at history.   Tom Brady was picked in the 6th round.   Aaron Rodgers wasn’t taken 1st overall and won a Super Bowl.  Peyton Manning is great but was taken behind the worst #1 pick in history, Ryan Leaf.   Cam Newton was supposed to be a huge flop, got drafted #1 overall, got a shortened training camp and has put up staggeringly good numbers in his first 7 games.  Christian Ponder was on no one’s radar and won a game last Sunday.   Alex Smith is just now starting to not completely fuck things up in San Francisco.  Sam Bradford was a solid pick for the Rams but I couldn’t tell you he would succeed and didn’t feel the need to dry hump him up to the podium.   Luck is a good kid, has a great arm, strong ability, but can he do the things he is doing at Stanford in the NFL.  WHO KNOWS?  Bypass the Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. hard-on classes and hearing Luck is the best player to come out of college in 30 years.  They are brainwashing you.  If a year from now Luck is lighting it up down in Miami, I will eat my words properly.  I am just tired of hearing about how good he is.  There’s no way to tell.  He is a college quarterback who plays in the standard college offense.  NFL defenses are relentless, hard hitting, killers.   College tackles are lame.   Get real folks.  Wait and see.  Don’t place any bets.  Andrew Could be Shit Out Of Luck.

A Change of Pace, Different Seasons-Now that the Cards are done playing and the only conversation is free agents and manager vacancies, I have settled into my off period of the year.   While I still write about the Rams and Blues, the Cards demand so much attention in season that when they aren’t in session, the blogs are looser and more casual.  This isn’t a slap to the other teams or an indicator that I don’t care.  The fact is that the Rams play once a week and the Blues play 3 times at most, which leaves more off days to relax, write about random topics and ease into my blogs instead of running to the computer to confess violent acts.  It also leaves more time for movies, and with a strong entertaining fleet of films on the way this winter, I will be picking and matching like any new parent can.   Here’s a DVD review.

Crazy Stupid Love Review-A polite well written romantic comedy about a guy hitting the ultimate mid-life crisis wall and getting help from an unlikely source.  Steve Carell is Cal Weaver, who gets dumped by his wife in the first scene of the movie.  Cal’s wife Emily(Julianne Moore) is bored and doesn’t feel Cal is interested any longer.  She throws him out and demands a divorce.  Cal is sent adrift and while he has the adoration of his kids, he is left lost on the dating scene.   It’s not until he runs into Jacob(a cool and cavalier Ryan Gosling) that his life starts to change.  Jacob sees a poor tired guy that needs a makeover and so he runs Cal through the gauntlet, throwing him into new clothes, a new haircut and a way of life.   Jacob is a true player, a man who can breath in a woman’s direction and get her in the bed.  Watching him transform Cal into a replica of himself is both interesting and dull because you know where things are headed.   Things get even more interesting when Jacob meets a woman that he actually likes and Cal soon thinks about his newfound life.   This is a film about the destructible practice of falling in and out of love.   The bonds of marriage.  Finding true love and facing up to your past.  Cal and Jacob face the biggest tests of their life.   There are smaller stories here.   Cal’s son falling in love with his babysitter, only to find out an unfortunate secret.   Emily starts to get in touch with a work friend(Kevin Bacon).   There’s a twist near the end that ties everything together and while it doesn’t fail the story, the end is recycled and predictable.  That’s fine and makes for a good fun film, but I guess I wanted more here.  With the sharp script, good cast and set up, there was more to be discovered here.  Dan Fogelman’s script was ambitious and infused with whip smart humor and dialogue.  However, the end is kind of been there and seen that.   Cal’s journey is predictable and Jacob’s reality check is perfectly timed so much that the big speech at the end and plot twist land yet don’t leave a dent.  Crazy Stupid Love is a common story told with some skill and has good acting, but it doesn’t have that “wow” factor that I was expecting.  Gosling is sharp, Carell is the same guy he has been in several films and nobody goes wild here.    If you like romantic comedies, this will satisfy you.  If you don’t and want something fresh instead, it may disappoint.  See for yourself but I’m backing away.

Official Announcement-Mike Quade is out as the Cubs skipper.  New President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made the call, saying he wanted a clean slate in Chicago.  In other words, he didn’t want his new team to suck.   Quade was 71-91 in 2011, dealt with the obnoxious Carlos Zambrano, sunk fast in the NL Central and won’t be back.  I expect Theo to try to reconnect with Francona.  In all honesty, The Cubs need someone more ambitious and fiery than Terry.   This is where Lloyd McClendon would fit in because he is a guy looking to prove his worth and validate his career.  Francona wouldn’t want to dip his solid record into Wrigley hell.   Expect Theo to make a couple moves. He didn’t take the job as a vacation.  Kid likes a challenge.

Johnny Depp’s Crazy Adventures-The main reason I want to see the Rum Diary is Johnny Depp’s zany ability to go crazy inside a film.   He is least effective in films where he has to play it completely straight, like when he played John Dillinger in Public Enemies.  In order to be effective, Depp has to be cut loose and given a wide range to play around in.   Hunter S. Thompson’s stories are the perfect place for Depp.  Thompson was a gonzo journalist, which means he went after the decrepit underworld of human activity.  Drugs, bad decisions, and wild activity.   Thompson wrote stories about his adventures that started in reality and ended inside his head.   The Rum Diary is based on Thompson’s 1960 adventure in San Juan, PR where he went to work for a local newspaper and got mixed up in corruption, alcohol, drugs and the wrong woman.   Depp unearthed this short story long after Thompson died and got it published and helped produced this film.   Depp and Thompson were friends and one can see the connection between the actor and the writer.  A willingness to expose yourself for the love of an art.  The Rum Diary looks fresh and original.   That’s the appeal.

According to Ken Rosenthal, The Cardinals are asking permission to speak to Ryan Sandberg, the hall of fame Ex-Cub who was a front runner for the Cubs managerial spot before the 2011 season before the Cubs kept Mike Quade.   Now, The Cards are making a pitch at Sandberg, currently a coach in the majors.   I like this move because of a respect for Sandberg but you’d have to love the irony of a Cubs legend coming to the Cards to manage this team.  Sandberg would have to halt his depression meds and the Cards would want an apology for all the game winning hits against them during his playing years.   While this is an outside shot at happening, I like Mozelaik going for every possible corner and making the search interesting.   The normal players for the job are Francona, Oquendo, Riggleman, Terry Pendleton, Joe Maddon and maybe the Memphis manager.  Sandberg is a wild card.  Look for more on this.

Little Things-

*Why do medical forms and job application forms have to include answer slots that are so small its impossible to answer correctly and fully?  Are we trying to incorporate polish prison rules or something?

*Song of the Day-My Morning Jacket performing “Victory Dance”, the smooth tempo rocker that kicks off their latest album, Circuital.

*Odds that Sandberg lands in Chicago and Francona lands in St. Louis as new managers.   Decent chance.  I’d say 3-1 on each.

*Was it just me or did half a million adults wish David Freese would have bashed Justin Bieber and Jay Leno in the jaw on Monday Night?

*Tony La Russa-Next Late Night Sports Show Host?  Tony TV Lives.

*What’s uglier on Dallas Cowboys facility?  Rob Ryan’s haircut or Tony Romo’s overall play?

*Remember to Appreciate the little things in life-One of those things for me are the holiday cups used at Starbucks.  That time of year again where the red and white cups come out and boost the mood on a daily basis.  My coffee choice of the moment.   16 ounce cup of the bold pick of the day with an extra shot of espresso.   We call that a red eye selection.

That’s all.  I feel like I have gone on and on here.   Like the Lord of the Rings ending.   Like a politician.   Like a go for broke lawyer on the losing end of a case.  Like Herm Edwards after a Chiefs loss.  Sometimes you just have to say, “when in rome”.  I have no idea what that meant.   Anyway, thanks for reading and goodnight.

-Buffa

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