Just Another Buffa Blast

Right as rain and clear as a bullet’s path, I have arrived again, ready to unplug the noise in my head onto this page via the written word.   Let’s get right into it, in a style I like to define as erractically confident.   Random and brutal.

  • Steve Spagnuolo’s fate and the Rams Final Game.   The Rams are a trainwreck, but I would be interested in seeing what the offseason brings them. Spags is toast for the simple reason that the man is akin to a quarterback who is gun shy and shell shocked in the pocket.  He doesn’t want to take one risk on a football field because he is afraid of the opposition blowing it up in his face.   Spags is gone, and so is McDaniels and GM Devaney.   The Rams need a GM like Mo and Doug Armstrong, who know how to build a roster and put together a winning team.   Devaney’s moves brought us to the top 2 spots in 3 of the last 4 seasons, so he is finished.  Spags can’t get anything going.  He is 10-37 in his tenure here which won’t convince Kroneke a fourth year is needed.  Start fresh.  Blow the ship up and buy a new boat.    Gruden is a stretch and his exit from the ESPN booth will take certain chess pieces to take a different location.   Chargers GM Aj Smith is being rumored to be dangling from his position by the owner, so if he leaves, the belief is that Gruden follows him.  Kroneke has been known to be in connection with Smith, so that’s the small tie there.  Its all talk, and we know where that usually leads.  A pile of bullshit.  I love Gruden as a coach for this team, whether its fiction or not.   Gruden is the opposite of Spags.   Determined, in your face, no bullshit, no excuses and hard nosed football.  He won a Super Bowl with Shaun King in Tampa.   He nearly won another with Oakland with Rich Gannon behind center.  Gruden is the real deal.   I love the guy and recall the pre draft one on one with Bradford where Gruden told him point blank, “look man, you hold onto the ball way too long and in the NFL it will get you killed”.    Bradford looked at him with that nerdy Keanu Reeves smirk and seemed to forget who he was dealing with.  During the Seahawks-Rams Monday night game, Gruden took a run at Bradford, saying the Rams need to take a long hard look.  The comment threw him into a verbal war with ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski(who I think is a fucking moron).  Gruden knows this team has pieces and players to build a playoff team with.   Jeff Fisher is a solid coach with a decent background and true character.  If it wasn’t for Mike Jones, Fisher owns a Super Bowl today and Dick Vermeil and the Rams do not.   Fisher wouldn’t be too afraid to come here, especially after the way he left Tennessee, where he encountered a childish QB in Vince Young.   Fisher would embrace the opportunity to work with Bradford, who has a level head on his shoulders and little ego and only a burning desire to be perfect.   While the job isn’t attractive for logical reasons, the Rams job isn’t a dead end.   Look at the division.  San Francisco is tough, but not unbreakable.  Seattle and Arizona are having comeback seasons but can be beat.   The Rams need far more than a coach and new GM calling the shots, but its a start.  The defense has a solid foundation in Chris Long, James Lauranitis, Quentin Mikkel, Ron Bartell(injured) and rookie Robert Quinn.   Losing Oshie Atogwe hurt badly.  The offense has Bradford and Steven Jackson along with Danny Amendola.  If the Hawiiaan kid Mike Houmanohouii can stay healthy, the Rams have a decent tight end core in him and Lance Kendricks.   The wide receivers need a big name and a offseason catching the football program.   Too many drops this year and the loss of third down specialist Amendola hurt.  There are pieces to build with here and coaches know Kroneke doesn’t want to fuck around and watch this team lose any more value.  The Rams would do the local fans a favor by letting it all go on Sunday against the 49ers.   Spags and McDaniels need to fire up every wild play call in the book, go no huddle all 4 quarters, blitz on every down and simply wish to spoil and hurt San Francisco’s chances for a smooth playoff entrance.   The game is meaningless except for the respect and gratitude that Rams fans deserve.   The city has shown up for years while getting nothing solid since 2004 in return.   Pathetic.  Unless Kroneke improves this team or sees a profit post 2014, I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved the team.
  • Albert Pujols’ Favor to the Angels-News reports that Pujols agreed to backload a heavy portion of his contract so the team could sign free agent pitcher CJ Wilson aren’t surprising.  Pujols has always wanted to clear a path for winning and backloaded his Cards long term contract to give the team a chance to strengthen the team.   However, this puts the Angels in a deadly and illogical position.   Pujols will make 12 and 16 million in 2012 and 2013, and towards the end of his playing contract the annual fee turns into 30 million.   As Pujols approaches 40, he will be making 30 million to probably DH 130 games a season.   It’s criminal to doubt the machine known as Alberto Pujols but its pretty evident that the Angels were plucking AP5 out of the Cardinals gambling league and placing him in an entirely new territory known only to the Yankees and Red Sox, each of whom are acquiring smarter ways of player additions.   Simple thought.  The Cardinals had zero chance to match the Angels offer and instead stood tall at 10 yrs at 210.   I disagreed with Albert’s choice(judging by his post conference comments, he does a little as well) and I didn’t care for his finger pointing but the final chip fell today and its really time to move on.   The Angels are in win now mode and are playing the scary futures brew master game.
  •  The Blues lost a tough one in Detroit last night for two reasons.  They could have overtaken the Wings with a win and they failed to do so and also blew a 2 goal lead.   Allowing the goal at the end of the second period was a bad blow and gave a great Detroit team renewed life.  The main problem isn’t the goaltending but the way the Blues defense allows about 5 players to get in the way of the goalie and the shooter.   Brian Elliot had zero chance to stop 2 of the 3 goals because he didn’t even fucking see it until it slammed into the back of the net.   Tough to blame a goaltender when he is blinded out there.   This affects Elliot and Halak, even though a big reason why Halak isn’t as effective is because he can’t seem to pounce on rebounds as quickly as Elliot.   The Slovakian midget is a bit slow in the net.   With the loss, the Blues are still only 4 points out of the top spot in the Western Conference and seem to hold their own with any team in the league.   They easily beat both 24/7 Eastern Conference power house teams in the Rangers and Flyers, and also beat Pittsburgh(with Crosby and Malkin).    We are 15-3-4 under Hitchcock, a great record and are the best team in the NHL at home.   We play 10 of our next 13 games at home in January.   The next month will define how long we stay behind Detroit and Chicago or how far we launch ahead.  With the loss last night, I still love the way this team is playing.   They play Nashville at home tonight before engaging in a Joe Louis rematch with Detroit on Saturday.  The return of Vladamir Sobotka and Bj Crombeen should give this team a fresh burst of energy.
  • When the Rams do get their pick of the top two draft slots after Sunday, it would be nice to take an unconventional approach.    If we get the top pick with a loss/Colts win this weekend, I say take a long hard look at the top 10 players in the draft.  Trading down and accumulating picks is smart, but only if there isn’t one great player.  Don’t draft by need.  Draft for the best.   If there is a potential all star wide receiver at the top spot or 2nd spot, go for it.  If not, trade down and accumulate 2-3 first round picks and 2-3 second rounders.   I can go either way as long as this team knows what the fuck they are doing.   Kroneke needs to blow up the ship and completely destroy the drafting department.  The Rams main issues are being draft casualties and investing far too much money in an offensive line that isn’t doing much protecting.  Get those areas right and reinforce the lagging spots.
  • Drunk Drivers/Sleepy Drivers need to be taken off the road.   Immediately.   Dumb shits who drink too much or get behind the wheel tired or sleepy are asking for trouble.  Years ago, when Rae and I were living on McCutcheon behind the Galleria, a drunk driver plowed into and totaled our car.   Last year, as you know, we were hit from behind by a drunk moronic driver and had our car totaled.  We have lost two fucking cars to drunk/sleepy/stupid drivers.  I simply have no tolerance or excuses for retarded souls who like to drive at less than 100 percent.  The kid fucked up your sister’s newly paid off car and needs to be bull whipped and stripped of his license for it.  Let a class of 5 year olds sit in on that jury.   Its an easy case.  When we were hit last year, the car that was totalted was a 2003 Chrysler Concorde and was paid off.  Along with my Malibu, we had no car payment.   The resulting accident forced us to buy a new car and pay 230 a month.  Then, my car’s transmission went to shit and I got another car from my parents, which exist as a used car lot for Rachel and I thankfully.   In the end, because of the drunk driver, Rae and I have a car payment again.   While the Buick SUV is luxury class and nice, I’d rather have no payment.   That’s what stupid people do to this country.  Fuck up people’s lives and cause additional stress and hardship.   Once again, execute the fuckers.
  •  It is still unreal to see “2011 Cardinals” and “World Series Champs” in the same sentence.   The magical run they went on in September and October is something that won’t dim for quite some time in my head.  So much that every other sports story and need shrunk that evening we won.   Overcoming the loss of Waino, the early slump of Albert, the erratic rotation, the malfunction of Franklin, and the deep hole in August was legendary on all counts.  I am very excited for 2012 because of the new look club that takes the field in February.  Spring training is a month and a half away.   Cue the boner.
  • The NBA is back and have I noticed?  Let’s see.  The Celtics are 0-3 and the Heat are 3-0 but that doesn’t mean shit.   Everything is taking place as if 2 months of the season wasn’t missed due to a halfhearted lockout based on equal greed and stubbornness from each side.  Kevin Durant is an amazing athlete but can he carry a good team to the playoffs?   Lebron is hot to start but what happens in April with the game on the line?  Will Kobe Bryant lead the league in ESPN injury updates or points per game?   Man sprains his knee more than a 3 year old on a playground in cheap shoes.   Duncan and the Spurs are always a threat but are they too old?   Will Dirk and the Mavs repeat or go back to hiding behind Mark Cuban’s egotistical sideline nature?   What happened to the Knicks?  Is Dwight Howard playing for a trade?  Is Derrick Rose the best player in the league?   The season isn’t a week old but even a half full glass fan like myself has interesting inquiries.
  • Random Gun Fire. Watched Sherlock Holmes last night on Blu ray.  Director Guy Ritchie took me through the entire film, giving off technical details and bits about the film.  As a film junkie, I completely suck all this shit in and respect the filmmaking process more today.  Ritchie and Downey are highly intelligient movie makers.  Part of the coolness factor of 24/7 is hearing the players mic’d up and cursing each other out before they drop the gloves and fight.   Unplugged athleticism is fine but hot blooded hatred is delivered on this show.  Looking forward to Peter Berg’s 6 part documentary on boxing training legend Freddie Roach.  I respect Roach a lot and love Berg’s renegade style of story telling.  I would be quite content listening to The Black Keys and Mumford Sons year round with occasional stops from Florence Welch and Adele.  The Black Keys simply can’t do any wrong right now.  Their latest, El Camino, is solid.  Their previous release, Brothers, is one of the greatest albums of all time.  I could listen to it every day like it was my personal anthem.   The key to their success is the songwriting and blues rock blunt comraderie during the performance.   Seriously looking forward to Ryan Gosling and an ensemble of character actors in DRIVE, a gritty noir action thriller about a stunt driver who gets in way over his head with drug dealers and a mysterious woman, forcing him to rely on his driving and survival skills to get by.    This film hit critics on the side of the head unexpectedly in September and is being raved as the best kept secret of 2011.  The film is a throwback to 1980s crime films that had a soul to go along with a plot and great characters.   Gosling is the king of the land in 2011, scoring in Drive, Crazy Stupid Love and Ides of March.   My verdict is still out because I have only seen one of the mentioned titles, but Drive looks like a ton of guiltless pleasure.   Fastern your seatbelts kids.
  • When the Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran last week, any animosity towards his agent, Dan Lozano, had to die down from St. Louis fans.   Lozano, as we all know, represents Albert Pujols and the belief from some(including, momentarily, yours truly) was that Lozano was steering Pujols away from St. Louis.   That turned out to not be true.   Pujols called Lozano and chose Anaheim and that was the end.   Lozano may be a capital A sleazeball but it comes with the territory of being a sports agent.  Every agent carries a couple ounces of cutthroat swagger and sleazy indulgence.  When you represent the spoiled rich kids, you slowly allow a piece of yourself to take their form.  Getting mad at Lozano would mean throwing flame throwers at every agent of a high level athlete.  Its not worth the words or the frustration.   In the end, Lozano did his job with Albert and also fulfilled Beltran’s wishes by landing him with St. Louis.  As Ari Gold once said, an agent goes where the work is.   Brothels, whorehouses, slums or broken homes.  If Lozano had something personal against St. Louis, he would have pulled Beltran away.   The only person worth building a grudge towards on the Pujols exist is Alberto himself.  He pulled the trigger. 
  • Yes, talking about Albert Pujols’ exit from St. Louis and subsequent awkward landing in Anaheim is still news here.  Bypass it if you shall, I don’t blame you, but the man won’t leave my head no matter how many times I say its done and finished.
  • I don’t blame local columnists Bryan Burwell and Howard Balzer for defending the idea for Spagnuolo to keep his job.   They like the guy and have covered him for years and gotten to know him.  I simply disagree with the notion that Spags deserves more time to make things right.   Once again, he is fried and won’t be able to take any risks next season without the feeling of a machete hanging over his head.  He is shell shocked and spent and doesn’t have any fire left.   The logical and clear choice is to fire him and everyone else and bring in an entirely new staff to salvage the final 3 seasons before the lease at the Ed Dome runs out and the Rams are available.   The Rams don’t have time to give Spags another chance.   Going 10-37 with this hopeless squad costed Spags his job and that is the way things go in professional sports.   Teams massively underperform and the coach gets hacked first. 
  • Life without Meme is hard for all the little things.  For example, I haven’t gotten a nagging call from her in nearly 3 weeks.   She usually calls every 3-4 days and unleashes a firing squad on me that included questions about me, my job, Rachel, Vinny, Vinny’s health and other things.   She cared so much about me that I took it for granted. Now that she is gone and the calls don’t come in, things are different and its awkward and weird.    I feel like going to her condo, sitting at the table and simply answering all the things that she wanted to know on a weekly basis.  I would be talking to walls, but at this point, one can write it off as bereavement therapy.   I called her voicemail a few times just to get a whiff of Meme mania.  That’s what I miss right now.  Meme Mania.  She hit you like a hurricane.   The calls, advice, questions and pressure that any great grandmother puts on the people they love.  There will come a time when this will become too much and I will need to let it go and move on.   My question is, where is the mania that tells us how to get there and how long it takes.   All I know is that time won’t be coming any time soon.  I miss Meme and her hurricane of questions and heavenly presence. 
  • Ben Breedlove’s videos before he died at Christmas from heart disease are haunting and inspiring all at the same time.  A kid with a degenerative heart condition sending a form of love letters through a couple videos speaks volumes about the strength each human being needs to strive for in their hour of departure.   The kid had balls of steel and simply wasn’t afraid to die.  He had made his peace with his condition and treated the last few hours like a parade.  Look up “Breedlove” and get a look at a fearless young man.   Every time I wish to cry about a particularly bad day, I’ll remember this kid’s fight.
  • The one comfortable divide between mourning and poise is my son Vincent.   The kid has healing powers.   Something as simple as smiling at me after he gets dressed or as he drifts to sleep can cure a bad day with ease.   Children have a way of making us go insane but also bringing us back to reality.   They teach us the most common survival traits without using words.   Looking at him, I see a comfortable future.   One with some hope.  That doesn’t bring back the departed, but it makes the next day seem a lot better.
  • It should be safe to assume that Adam Wainwright will be close to himself when he returns from Tommy John surgery.   Over 80 percent of pitchers come back stronger than before from the procedure.  Wainwright was a Cy Young caliber pitcher before he went under the knife.  The returning soldier will more than fill the deep hole left in his absence in 2011.  
  • Alex Steen will miss tonight’s Blues game with Nashville due to concussion like symptoms.   The latest hockey player to fall to the increasingly debillatating injury.   David Perron missed 97 games due to post concussion symdrome.   Andy Mcdonald has missed significant portions of the past 2 seasons due to concussions.   Sidney Crosby’s career may be over.  Eric Lindros retired due to concussions.   Flyers young gun Claude Giroux missed 5 games  with a concussion this month.   The brutal truth is you can’t stop concussions from happening.   Hockey, like football, is a tough deadly game of physical acceleration.   Players come and go due to head to head contact and heavy hits.  That’s the nature of the game.  My issue is the detection of the concussions.   Steen suffered the concussion on Monday against Dallas and played Wednesday against Detroit. Waiting for symptoms is one thing.   Checking on players who make a living bashing each other’s skulls in is another.  Postgame player checkups may be able to detect concussions and withhold players from hurting themselves further after a head injury.   These injuries may be preventable through extra precaution.   When it comes to injuries, anything below the neck is hard to stop or monitor.   Head injuries are career enders.   They need to be limited or decreased next year.   It could be time for the football helmet in hockey.
  • What’s good on television?  At the moment, absolutely nothing.   It’s break down amongst the power house television entertainment section and in a couple weeks things start to move.   What needs to be watched?  The desire exists where?   Justified on FX kick starts a third season on January 19th.   Shameless returns to Showtime in mid January.   Californication comes back for round 5 this month also.   Check out those three shows but if I had to place a MUST on one single program, it would be Justified.   The modern western drama keeps getting better and better and the pilot is a direct hook. 
  • What else?  2012 is upon us.   The meaning only comes in the appreciation that you made it through another year.   New Year’s Day is a bloated celebration.  In the end, it’s just another day and not a reason to get very drunk and make bad decisions.   Celebrating is one thing.   Poor judgement is quite another.  Have fun with safety is my advice.  I will be at home with friends and family on the eve of 2012. 
  • For all you hunters out there, don’t pull a Cheney and blow someone’s head off.   Deer seem to laugh at that kind of stupidity.   While I don’t openly hate hunters, I simply can’t put a bullet in an animals head for sport.  It’s either me on the beast or me waving and moving on.  I’ve always thought the animals should turn the tables on the hunters and attack instead of hide.  Give the animals a rifle and see what happens. 
  • Fright Night and Columbiana are by the numbers thrillers with a little extra.   Fright Night stars Colin Farrell as a vampire terrorizing a small town and the latter stars Zoe Saldana as a avenging Latino gunning for the killers of her parents.  Standard fare that doesn’t spark the need to scream to the masses.   Its ordinary entertainment. 
  • Song of the Day-“Start A War” by the National

http://youtu.be/k1UwnMJ-5KE

  • Clip of the Day-Taken from No Country for Old Men.  Javier Bardem playing the mysterious killer who stops into a gas station and asks the clerk the ultimate question.  Watch the entire clip and you will understand.

http://youtu.be/mhXJcfczNIc

That’s all I have for today.  It’s time to get out and do other things.  Explore the land and see what happens. 

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

 

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Midnight Ramblings of a Mourning Soul

Good morning,

The Opener-On 830am on Christmas Eve, my sweet grandmother, Meme, passed away.   She was a fierce 81 years old, and only fell because she made a tragic mistake one night at a party.   She spent 13 days in the hospital and finally gave way to a horrible brain injury that defeated her mighty will.   The world didn’t shake Saturday morning but it lost a wise soulful lady who made her presence known every time you came into contact with her.   She blessed her company with a bit of sharpened wit and never let up on telling you what she was feeling.  She loved her wine, 60 Minutes on weeknights and owned the Plaza Frontenac in her own mind where she enjoyed sophisticated French independent cinema.   While this loss will rock my family to its very core, we will learn to appreciate a woman who always made you feel special.   Honor her life by sticking her formula to our own journey and using it as a wise guide.  Yes, I have used “wise” three times in this opening rant.   Henrieta Bulus was wise.  More than given at birth and greater than the sum produced at a certain older age.   There’s no method to use in healing from a sudden loss.  The human heart hasn’t derived a way to move on quickly without getting blown away by a missing person in their life.  This will be the first of many sections about Meme because I could write for hours about her.   She deserves words, and to me that is the highest regard a person can attain.   The request of words to summarize her time here.   While I build better ways to describe her, let’s take a look at my life in the past 48 hours.  A whirlwind of small bits of material swung into a batch of prose.

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s nostalgia filled enchanting waltz through the city of lights stars Owen Wilson as Gil, a writer trying to find a worth in his current reality by slipping in 1920’s Paris and meeting the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.   Gil is a longtime screenwriter looking to invent something truly special and he feels old time Paris is a good place to start.   He arrives there with his fiance’s family, and they have the opposite intentions of our lone wolf explorer.   Gil is a romantic and man who craves “the golden age”, a place that doesn’t exist in his current reality but lies in an older time period that he can only escape to.   Watch this film if you appreciate a sweet romantic comedy with great shots of dialogue and story details.   Gil’s flight mirrors our own as we all wish to bite a piece of true life off the large pie known as life.   Wilson locks into the role like an old pro, showing us a man desperate for a connection in a sea of modern realists with zero desire to play around in their own minds.  A Woody Allen trait is to insert his leading men into stories that revolve around versions of himself.   There is plenty of Woody in Wilson’s Gil.   Neurotic adventure, ambitious romance and a dash of true talent.   Allen loves to film in Paris and this is his best film in years, maybe even since Mighty Aprodite.  See it if you like an escape.

The Rams Drop Another and Inch Towards First Place in Failure

The Rams were shut out for the second time on Saturday and it only goes to teach a Rams fan one thing.   Wish for any sign of hope from this team and you shall be disappointed.    Sam Bradford won’t play again this season, which frames his 2012 season in high tension anxiety to reveal which QB the Rams selected in the 2010 draft.   The rookie of the year or the sophomore breakable piece of glass who couldn’t generate an ounce of excitement?   Steven Jackson put together a 24 carry, 110 yard performance against a Pittsburgh defense waiting for him on every play.   Jackson’s 1,000 yard season is a miracle when you think what he was working with.  3 different quarterbacks, no spark, no creativity and a dead end offense.   Jackson’s 8 year career is a tragic misunderstanding of talent.   He has fired off 1,000 yard seasons even in seasons that he doesn’t play 16 games but gets nothing to show for it.  One wonders what he would do on a better team.   If the Rams cared about Jackson at all, they would try to trade him for a batch of players before next season while he still has a year left on his deal.   Jackson had an ugly contract dispute, but he became a team leader in the past 4 seasons and deserves better.   Trade the fella.   The Rams main culprit of misery is their inept ability to draft well.   4 of the 8 draft picks in this year’s draft aren’t on the team any longer.   The top draft pick, Robert Quinn, has only started one game.   What are we doing there?  Our scouts are horrible or we don’t do the proper amount of homework, or they don’t give a shit.   The Rams bad drafts and overpaid offensive line are the foundations of their 10-36 record in Spags’ coaching campaign.   I agree with my good friend Irish.  If you fire Spags, fire the entire coaching staff and front office.  Clear house.  Don’t just place the stick of dynamite inside one office.  Blow up the whole building.  Start fresh.  Do it sooner rather than later.  Spags has to go because sending a message begins with firing the head coach.  Spags is 10-36 so he has to go.   Josh McDaniels goes next because his offensive strategy has gone nowhere and doesn’t fit with Sam Bradford’s plans.   Bradford carried more success under Pat Shurmur’s deadened West Coach schemes than McDaniel’s supposed run and gun formula.   When you score less than 180 points inside 15 games, something is wrong.   Fire defensive coordinator Ken Flajole because he can’t find a way to stop the run or prevent the big pass play.   Fire the Special teams because they let Patrick Petersen beat them twice.   Fire GM Billy Devaney because he has been here for too long and produced zero results and brought in players that didn’t pan out at all.   Owner Stan Kroneke has to seriously look up and down the roster and inspect his front office and coaching staff.   We will know a lot about him and his plans for this team post 2014 when he makes his moves in the upcoming offseason.   Watch for an explosion.  Soon, the Ed Dome will be empty, which means zero home games air on local TV.  Soon, the hype for football will be as loud as the support for an NBA team is.   Soon, people will hate the Rams so much they will beg for them to leave, not knowing the last chance for football in St. Louis leaves right with it.   Soon, we will have nothing.   Stan, your time starts now.  Why did you reallllly buy this team??

The Blues Bring Things Home For Measure

With two games this week against Dallas and Detroit, the Blues attempt to distance themselves from lower competition in the Western Conference and make a run for Chicago in their Central Division.   The Blues are 20-10-4 and are approaching the halfway point of the season.   Since Ken Hitchcock’s arrival, the team is playing a fresher faster more successful brand of hockey and its paying off in the standings.   The question is…do you make any changes to the roster?  My feeling is no.  Unless a need suddenly emerges, keep the roster intact.  Why mess with a winning formula?  If a player exists who can quickly improve the power play output and the cost on your end isn’t too hard, pull the trigger.  If not, keep what you have and ride it out.  GM Doug Armstrong is similiar to Cards GM John Mozelaik in knowing WHEN to make the move and not forcing the issue for little reason.   The Blues play 11 of their next 14 games at home, a place they have dominated all season long.   It’s crucial that they win at least 9 of those and get a point in 11 of them.  This will keep up the pace and give them a shot at catching Chicago and Detroit while keeping them ahead of the lower rung teams.   Just keep winning.  Follow Hitch’s lead and play 60 minutes at a time.

Cardinals Lookback

While putting the brain to the green over the 2012 Cardinals team, its never too late to relive the 2011 World Champion Cardinals thrill ride through September and October.  On Christmas, FSM replayed Games 6 and 7 of the World Series and its hard to watch those battles without a small smile on your face.   A few things I will never forget.

-Joe Buck’s playcalling that puts him in high class of sports announcers.  I have said for years that Jack’s kid was one of the best and in this series that notion became a truth.   His call of David Freese’s game tying triple, slowly shouting, “Cruz goes back, and its….off the wall!”   His mantra for the 2011 Redbirds.   “They just won’t go away.”   David Freese’s home run sailing out of Busch and stretching the series to 7 games.  “We..will..see…you…tomorrow…night!”    Chills go up and down the spine.

-Jason Motte’s final pitch, Craig catching the ball, and Yadi Molina bear tackling Motte at the pitchers mound.   Pure elation.

-Freese’s dead on look at third base after his game tying series saving triple.  He looked like a man possessed.   His infectious smile friendly dance down the third base line after his game winning homer in Game 6.   Everything about the local kid’s work makes you feel proud that he is a hometown boy.

-Albert’s 3 bombs in Game 3 rewiring the series and giving the Cardinals a much needed if short lived 2-1 series lead.  Pujols turned a close brittle 3 run lead into a 6 run cushion by disposing of three pitches from three different Rangers pitchers.   Hate him all you want but remember his work here and over his entire career.

-Beating Milwaukee in the NLCS brings all kind of pleasures.   Slamming shut Nyjer Morgan’s mouth, shutting down Braun and Fielder in the right moments late and watching our bullpen almost singlehandedly preserve the series.  A season long feud ended on one Jason Motte pitch in Game 6 in Milwaukee.   Silencing every fan in the house never looked or felt so good.

-Chris Carpenter’s postseason defining defeat of his rival/friend Roy Halladay to win the NLDS 1-0 on the road at Citizens Park.  He beat the best pitcher in baseball, shut them out in clutch fashion, and watched their best player, Ryan Howard rupture his achilles on the last pitch.  The Cardinals crippled that city on one night in October.

The 2012 season brings new adventures and a new look but before we dive into the torture of that 162 game plunge, let’s remember the glorious run this team took.   Start there before you design anything up in your head for next season.  Trust me.

The Random Slices-

*Tim Tebow has exceeded expectations and can only stack great things on top of a highly transformative 2011 season.   He experienced his worst game as a pro, throwing 4 INTs(2 for scores) and Denver got blown out by Buffalo.   However, as people jump on him at the first sign of downfall, Tebow is taking the brutal defeat in stride and will be gunning for a playoff spot next week.   Tebow has throw 11 TD and 6 INT, and ran for 6 more touchdowns on the ground.  He has fumbled 5 times yet lost only 2 of them.   He may not be a protypical or sound NFL quarterback, but he has done very well, isn’t done yet and deserves the chance to prove critics wrong in 2012.   He’s an exciting player.

*Here is Edward Burns’ take on the process of delivering indie films digitally into our video on demands at home.    Interesting read from the Hollywood vet, who once made a film for 23,000 and made 10 million back.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/26/edward-burns-director-of-newlyweds-on-the-changing-face-of-indie-film-distribution.html

*I can’t seem to get Iron and Wine’s “Freedom Hangs Like Heaven” out of my head.   Folky blues rock with spice on the back end.

*If you love fighting in hockey and wish a league would embrace it like the 1970s and let the blood fly for real, here is Seann William Scott(aka Stiffler) as a hockey enforcer in the February release, GOON.   He plays a regular guy who defends a friend in the stands by knocking out the fighter on a hockey team in epic one punch style.   He takes over the role and becomes a one man wrecking crew of anti-flaccid entertainment.   He meets his match in Liev Schriber’s legendary fighter and there’s an epic fight in the end.  There is nothing truly new here but if you crave old school hockey fights and need a badass tooth bashing rockheaded shitbrick to make it happen, here you are.   William Scott is a regular comedy participant and while this film carries varying degrees of comedy, there is something far more grand taking place.    Scott gained weight and muscle for the role and looks the part.  Here’s a taste.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/26/edward-burns-director-of-newlyweds-on-the-changing-face-of-indie-film-distribution.html

*Christopher Nolan doesn’t make films for simple financial gain or a tool for wasting time.   He sets out to tell stories.   The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final film in his Batman trilogy and I am sure it won’t disappoint.   No other director comes close today when it comes to combining big screen spectacle, story an fascinating characters.   He makes good and bad forces facing off seem Shakespearian.   Secret Ingredient in this one.   Tom Hardy as the ultimate bad guy, a terrorist named Bane.

*The Holidays are a very good way to ignite the recharging of the batteries.   Seeing your family, answering questions, giving opinion and relaxing.    This year was especially important.   The only way to get over a death is to come together and help each other out.

*Who else writes to clear out the voices in your head telling you to talk about something?  To me, writing is a competition. Write it first, get it out there and swell the minds with your thoughts.   No true writer wants to call another’s work good or quality before giving forth their own.   When I stage my opinion, I try to avoid Bernie’s opinion or other paid writer’s views until after I am done expressing mine.  If I read something and think its shit, I’ll say it.  If I think it is good, I get anxious and need to fire my own version out.  Writers have to get to the bottom of their barrel first before seeking out other views.  Its human nature.  I love the works of others but see them as the competition.  Writing is a mad arms race.

This latest race in my head is finished.  Enjoy.  Digest. Read it over.  Respond or carry on.  My worries on your end don’t exist.  My work here is done.   The mind is at ease for the time being.

Soon, that will change and I will come back.  Until then, down this dose or give me else something to talk about.

Thank you and have a good safe day at your office,

Dan L. Buffa

 

The Eve of the Written Word

Before we get into making Christmas wishes come true or attempt a New Year’s resolution, allow me to throw a few logs of firewood into the pit here.  Making conversation is easy.  Sustaining it over a period of time and working it into an extended debate is top of the line grade A human persistence.  That’s what I do here.  Introduce topics.  Discuss events.  Run over the required data of the 24 hr cycles that sound alarms in my head.  Here we go..one more time before Christmas strikes.  Santa may not be real kids, but the Buffa train of thought stops for no one. 

Mission Impossible 4 Review

Typical Tom Cruise mayhem goes on here.  2 hours of action packed suspenseful drama done right by director Brad Bird(who crafted the Incredibles, a legendary animated film that gave us the idea he could do a live feature with ease and skill).  Here, he centers the action around Cruise and lets the little guy run wild.   Cruise returns in the fourth installment of the spy franchise as Ethan Hunt, who we last saw walking into love filled bliss with his wife(Michelle Monaghan).   At the beginning of this story, he is in a Russian prison with friends on the outside setting to break him out.  The reason is unknown at first, but its the start of a thrill ride that truly never lets up until the final momnets of the film.  If there is a film that will razzle and dazzle your senses, this is it.  Hunt and his crew get involved in a job at the Kremlin, and when it explodes into a thousand pieces, the attack is pinned on his team.  That initiates ghost protocol, which then sets Hunt on a mission to clear him and his crew members names from the rigged gig.   That’s all you need to know.  Jeremy Renner plays a mysterious agent named Brandt, Simon Pegg and Paula Patton show up as members of his team and Cruiser takes care of the rest.   Knock Tom all you want, but respect his hard work and dedication to getting a fine product out there.   He is the hardest working actor in Hollywood and respect him for doing all his own stunts.  Most actors in Hollywood require stunt doubles to do the ugly work of their acting duties, but that’s Crusie hanging from the side of the largest building in the world in Dubai.   Mission Impossible films always promise death defying stunts and plenty of explosions but Bird adds his own measure of class and humor to the equation.  The film has the makings of an old school noir tale mixed with new age action and well worn suspence.  I approve of MI4.

Carlos Beltran Comes to St. Louis

Here is the way I look at it.   Carlos Beltran signed a 2 year, 26 million dollar contract to play outfield for the Cardinals.  Albert Pujols will make 26 million in 2012 to play first base for the Angels.   A fair trade by the numbers.  The Cardinals get the likes of Beltran and Berkman, two legendary Cards killers, for the price of Pujols in 2012.  This is an exciting deal for many reasons but the biggest comes in the fact that Beltran is a known threat.  Pitchers have to respect his switch hitting power to all fields and the likelihood that his bat will do damage.   In what many considered a down year in 2011, Beltran hit .300, compiled a .385 on base percentage, hit 22 home runs and drove in 84 in 142 games.  Beltran isn’t coming to the Cardinals to be the main man, replace Albert or be the heart and soul of the offense.  He is merely a member of the killing squad.  The finishing touch to the puzzle.   Beltran is a party member, a #2 hitter who will do damage with his legs, bat speed and ability.  He is a plus outfielder and an all fields hitter.   This deal carries the risk of Beltran’s questionable health over the past 4 seasons.  He had knee troubles in 2011 and has had shoulder and knee surgery, but once he made it to the Giants at the trading deadline in 2011, he played out the rest of the season and finished well.   The crowd who rip the Cards for not spending will come here and rip them for giving 26 million to a 34 year player with health concerns.  That’s a predictable statement.  However, in order to acquire his services, the Cards had to give him years or a higher annual salary.  They wisely chose the latter.  GM John Mozelaik is making a lot of bold risky moves during this offseason, starting with hiring a manager with zero MLB coaching experience, letting Pujols walk to LA, signing Furcal to a 2 year deal and now giving Beltran 2 years at 13 million per.  This is a young general manager setting himself out from the pack.   Mo knows exactly what he is doing and the consequences awaiting him if this method fails.  Carlos Beltran is an impact player.   Someone who will do damage.  I like the Beltran deal because of what he does to lineup and in the field.   Impact signs for 2 yrs are very important and well done.  Mozelaik came, attacked and conquered here.  If Beltran can stay healthy, the deal looks like a sprinkle of genius power playing by Mo.  If he falters and spends time on the DL, the move will be lamented.  Its important to remember all deals come with a risk.  Signing Berkman to a one year 9 million dollar deal before 2011 was risky.  It paid off.  Beltran will add an explosive element to this team.  He has mileage left in the tank and could pay huge dividends.  I like this move, sink or swim.

The lineup is set now and it will look something like this. 

Furcal, Beltran, Holliday, Berkman, Freese, Molina, Jay, Skip, pitcher spot

The needs have been filled and now Mo can look to find a bench bat or let the kids run the roost.   Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene will serve as defensive depth players and a power bat can be added through free agency.   I hope and expect Tony Cruz makes the team as the backup roster because he showed true potential in his games played in 2011.  Brian Anderson simply can’t hit at this level.   The bullpen is run by closer Jason Motte, and assembled with power parts like Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez, Kyle McClellan, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepcynski and JC Romero.   K-Mac has expired and I wished he would be packaged in a deal for a bench bat.   Young arms have taken over the pen and McClellan has be worn out by 100 innings in the rotation.  Dead arm awareness comes into play here.  As long as Motte doesn’t blow 6 games in April, the stopper slot is fine.  What other need exists on this team?  Right now, I see no real need.  Mo has done fine work.   Now the wait and see process happens.

The Cardinals would do well to lock up Yadi Molina for the foreseeable future.   His 7 million option for 2012 was picked up, but they need to extend him now before letting him reach free agency and run off to Anaheim.  Molina means so much to this team in every facet of the game.  He handles the pitching staff, is the best defensive catcher in the game, can hit .300 and showed a stroke of power in 2011 previously untapped.  Molina is an essential tool for Dave Duncan and needs to be taken care of.   Mozelaik would save himself a potentially major headache by locking Molina up.  If any catcher deserves 10 million a year, its Molina.  Looking at the many things he does, its hard to dispute it.   Give him a 4 year, 40 million dollar deal.

Let’s do “remember this before you look and sound stupid” class again.  Please stop shitting on Albert Pujols.  Look, its done, he made a move, left for Anaheim, made a mistake in letting emotion get in the door and made excuses, but there is no reason to tarnish his legacy or accomplishments here.   Many want to give his number away to Beltran or Holliday and that’s absurd.   Albert Pujols’ #5 will be retired in the future.  This is no time to tarnish what he did here.  He won 3 MVPs and brought the city 2 World Series titles along with a hall of fame caliber 11 year career.   Why do we light a fire on that once he left?  Pulling a Lebron slam game here is unwarranted.  It’s perfectly cool to be mad at him and wonder about his true character and honesty.  It’s quite another to dismiss his accomplishments in St. Louis.   Short sighted and unfortunate come to mind.  While he will never be the #1 Cardinal of all time, Pujols put together a 11 year career that few Cardinals if any can top.   Remember that the next time you settle into a Pujols rip rant.   His exit was unfortunate and ill-advised and wrongly played by Team Pujols, but his time here was brilliant.

The Blues Learn to React To Adversity

On Wednesday, the Blues came out and got caught in an early 2-0 deficit in Colorado.   They fought back to tie the game at 2, but lost on a late goal and dropped only the third regulation loss under Ken Hitchcock.  On Friday night, the Blues reversed the result and beat Phoenix 3-2 to bounce right back.   The Blues are learning to deal with adversity and avoid losing streaks.  They haven’t lost two regulation games in a row under Hitchcock and have only failed to pick up a point in those 3 losses.  They are 14-2-4 since Hitch took over.   They refuse to lose on the road and fare well on the road.   Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a complete team capable of beating teams in many ways.  The Blues can fall in an early hole and fight back, as they showed against Columbus and Colorado.  They can also win by assaulting teams early and often, as seen against the New York Rangers and Phoenix.    When was the last time you felt this comfortable with this team’s chances on any given night?  There are 3 players with 11 goals or more and 6 with at least 7 goals.  This is all happening without Andy Mcdonald and only a small contribution from forward Chris Stewart.   Captain David Backes is a human freight train on the ice, handing out justice in the form of clean open ice hits and tallying 11 goals to go with it.  Alex Steen has 12 goals.  TJ Oshie has never looked faster or sharper.   The kid line of Oshie-Perron-Berglund is back together.   Things are going in the right place and it could only get better.  The Blues are the best home team in the NHL and 11 of the next 14 games come on home ice for this team.  Here is a chance to separate themselves from the 7th, 8th and 9th spots in the Western Conference.  Chasing Detroit and Chicago will be an all season chore but the next month and a half will determine how much staying power and consistency this team provides.

The Rams Playing Spoiler

Heading into Heinz Field against one of the best defenses in football in the Steelers Curtain, one can predict sudden death for the Rams.    Call it now.   That is the easy move.  I wish to see if this team can pull off the unthinkable and truly damage Pittsburgh’s playoff spot landing.   Once your chances of making the playoffs run out, its time to play spoiler.  The Rams can do damage today.   Kellen Clemons will play quarterback again and attempt to do the unthinkable.  The Steelers are without their starting quarterback as well and will install veteran Charlie Batch into the equation.  More important, Marcus Pouncey will miss the game and without him at center, The Steelers will be susceptible to a pass rush.  The Rams have a decent pass rushing team in Chris Long, James Hall and Robert Quinn.   The key to the game is applying pressure to Batch and finding a way to slow down running back Rasheed Mendenhall.  If Mendenhall runs wild, the game is over.   Batch can plug away at a prevent defense and bury us.   That’s what many(smart people included) expect to happen.   There’s a fair chance Clemens gets rocked by James Harrison or Troy Polamalu.   There’s a small chance the Rams find a way to win.  Forget about losing for Luck.  The Rams will likely trade away their top three pick for several lower picks and for good reason.  This team needs  lot of work so why try to solve it in one area?  The Rams can ruin playoff hopes today.   Will they show any sign of life?

I agree with Bernie Miklasz in saying Spags and GM Billy Devaney don’t get an extra few inches of string in their efforts here.   Where else would a head coach with a record of 10-36 be allowed to continue after 3 seasons of misguided misery,   Why would Devaney be allowed to put forth another down year?   The time to clean house doesn’t come out of nowhere folks.  For those saying the Rams have dealt with injuries and Spags hasn’t gotten a fair shake, let me run down the list of injuries for the rest of the NFL, including division rivals Seattle and Arizona.   Arizona is winning with a third string quarterback in John Skeleton.   Seattle is winning without Sidney Rice and with Taveris Jackson throwing.    Every NFL team deals with injuries and I have always wondered why the Rams get a longer reach in failure.   The Cards get slammed every year if they fall short.  The Blues get a leeway as well but its starting to shorten.   The Rams are allowed to lose and that’s bad for a franchise.   Unless things turn around, owner Stan Kroneke will have no choice but to move this team to LA or elsewhere.  If he isn’t making money, consider it done.  If we lose in 2012, this franchise will not recover.   The causes don’t start and end with the head coach, but remember why the coach goes first.  It’s not for anything personal he did around here.   It will be because the results of his team isn’t meeting standards.   When you fire the head coach, you send a message to the rest of the players to get their shit together.   It’s a message and not personal.   Spags has a year left on his contract but my feeling is he will be canned.   That’s what has to happen because when you don’t fulfill the job requirements set forth in the beginning.   Several people rush to Spags defense because he is a good guy and I understand the position.  However, do your home work and see what the effects are of an instant decision and having to get training from a new mind(Hitchcock/Blues).   Remember the NFL is a business like any other and if wins aren’t happening, a change needs to be made.  Good guys need to be held accountable for their actions.

The Random Bits

  • The NBA season begins on Christmas and for fans of the sport, that’s great but for me, it’s just another day where basketball takes place.  I will admit the sport getting a half season in is important for the overall image of sports.    Nobody wants a sport laying down in the dumps for too long.
  • Hate Kobe Bryant all you want but respect his toughness and will to play with injuries.  The man is playing on a bad set of wheels and suffers other injuries like wrist soreness and shoulder pain, and hates to sit down.  Kobe has the killer instinct and drive to succeed that Lebron James lost when he left Cleveland.   He knows its him against the world and the expectations are high.  People pay to see him play and he doesn’t wish to disappoint.   Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan we have in the game today.   He plays with one idea in mind.  Win now, win it all and don’t worry about anybody else until you have handed the championship trophy back to your owner in the post game ceremony.
  • The Boston Bruins aren’t one time wonders.  Last week, they destroyed the Philidephia Flyers 6-0 and last night beat the Florida Panthers 8-0.   Granted, The Panthers aren’t that good, but shutting a team out and scoring 8 goals doesn’t happen often in the NHL.   Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, Brian Marchand and the boys will be on the doorstep to defend the trophy this spring and the road to the Stanley Cup will go through Beantown.
  • Homeland is getting better and better as I roll through the first season on Showtime On Demand.  I’m 5 episodes in and completely digging this show.   Homeland’s amazing first season seems to be making up for lackluster been there/done that season of Dexter.   Damian Lewis and Claire Danes are locking horns in a beautiful devil dance between two tortured souls, one suspecting the other of a crime far worse than simply treason.   Danes is reinventing herself as an actress here, playing an unstable CIA analyst hellbound on convincing her superiors and herself that Lewis’ POW is a terrorist putting together a mission.   You can pick one side here but its never certain.  The writers and directors keep you off balance with subtle hints and twists.   The finale has to be explosive powerful and send a politically charged message that cuts deeper than protest.
  • Fun Blues notes from Insider/Beat writer Lou Korac.  Brian Elliot has played 1,044 minutes in goal this season and only allowed 27 goals.  After notching the win over the Coyotes on Friday night, Elliot is 14-3 with a 1.55 GAA and .943 save percentage.  A supreme comeback season for Elliot that is easing the burden on Jaro Halak’s mixed season and the goaltending foundation.   Its going to get hard to not give Elliot more starts as the season presses on unless Halak establishes himself as the leader.
  • Looking forward to seeing Waino freeze Beltran with another curve in intra squad games.   Protect the knees and prep for the buckle Carlos.
  • For all the people who felt the need to trample and nearly kill last night over a pair of Jordan sneakers, please tune in now.   It’s only a pair of shoes.    If outsiders need a clue to why our civilization is a cloud covered muddy ditch, look no further than this crowd of insane fucksticks.
  • The Black Keys are the best band working in music today.   Write it down.  Look them up.  Start listening to this band.  Start with their finest album, Brothers(2009).
  • Mel Gibson is officially single.  Who wants a piece of this mad Australian lit fuse of talent and fiery vengeance?  The man needs to make more movies.   He can’t let a little PR trouble get in the way of great acting.
  • The Town on HBO is the most rewatchable film on cable right now.  A truly brilliant Boston crime saga about cops and robbers based on true stories.
  • Warrior on DVD is the movie to seek out on the low scale film front.   Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton’s raw edged performances make this film about two brothers riding a collision course through a MMA tournament speak volumes about heartbreak and violent promises do significant damage to the psyche.
  • The question isn’t whether or not Barack Obama is a good president or not.  It is whether any worthy candidate will come forward and have enough favor and money to beat him.
  • Hanging out with good people never gets old.  Find and assemble your own entourage of trusted souls.  It will become a required life line during rough times.
  • A wonderful wife and beautiful son don’t hurt either.

The Final Word-An Update on my grandmother, Meme.  My sweet grandmother has landed in the hospice floor at Mercy West.   She is breathing on her own, but at this time it’s only a matter of making her exit a comfortable departure.  She is alive but slowly slipping away.  If there is one thing I will learn from her life, it is this.  Don’t take it for granted, live life to the fullest, and do things instead of waiting.   Rachel and I wouldn’t be where we are without the help of Meme.  She gave until it was gone and now all we can do is dedicate the rest of our lives to the style she lived her own.   I will miss her dearly and I feel like a piece of my heart is being stolen.  Now I must take care of my mother, who will take this blow the hardest.  Every death leaves a crop of thorns in its wake but the one thing that needs to be realized is a life that was lived to the most complete level of fulfillment.   Losing Meme will be hard on all of us.   Remembering her and the effect she had on people who had a chance to meet her has a lasting power and responsibility.  I am not guilty of what happened to her, but I told her sorry on Wednesday because I felt I should have been by her side that fateful night.   I called her home phone just to hear her voice again last week.   Her last words to me were wildly ironic.   It was a voicemail from a call I missed 5 hours before she fell down the stairs.  She told me that she loved me, that she enjoyed going to the movies with Rachel and I the previous Wednesday and that The Cardinals would be fine without Albert Pujols.  My grandma worrying about Pujols is my lasting memory of her now.   My grandmother was a giver and a provider.  Whether heaven exists or not, a true angel will show up when Meme passes on from this rock.

That’s all for now.  This stream of consciousness is finished.   Come again for more insightful thoughts from this Southern St. Louis city corner of cyber space.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

The Buffa Blast

The Buffa News and Notes of the Week

Happy Holidays, now lets get down to business.   There isn’t a better indicator of Christmas than snow on the ground, low temperatures freezing the air and good old fashioned warm hearted gestures.  Since we don’t have all of the proper ingredients yet, I bring you the news.   What I will bring you is the brutally honest truth.   I don’t believe in GOD on earth, have little use for politics, and only deal in things that matter to me or have been requested attention from others.   Follow me here as I load another bullet into the chamber and fire it out.

Meme Update-The last 10 days haven’t been kind to me or my family as we struggle to come to terms with the fact that more likely than not, my grandma will not make it through Christmas.   The shock and awe of tragedy is the speed it can take hitting you on any given day.   One day she was completely fine and the following night she was not.   One mistake ladies and gents is all it takes.   My grandma made a fatal mistake.   Older people taking steps while drinking is like young people choosing to drive while under the infleuence.   Dangerous methods of transportation.   I don’t beat myself up over it every day but I will admit one level headed soul could have told my grandmother to sit the fuck down and take it easy.  She went down being herself.  If you knew her, you would understand she wasn’t happy until she spoke to every single soul at a party.   She wanted to ask questions, grab the person’s arm and get answers.   She was wise, spoke many languages and was persistent so you couldn’t bullshit your way out of 20 questions with the little lady.   My idea of her moments before the fall include her getting up from one group of people to go seek out another and it just so happened that the required pack of souls who hadn’t been slammed with a dose of Meme were located downstairs.   Meme probably had 2-4 glasses of wine, was having fun, forgot about her just healed broken hip, and tackled the steps with stub heels and the carpeted stumps defeated her.  She took a tumble backwards down the 9 step case and smacked her head on the wooden floor below(supported by concrete beneath).   Imagine slamming your head into the hardest man made surface outside of pure metal and you have it.  The final hit was the one that broke her.   It took her down.  Everything else that happened before didn’t matter.  The broken wrist, collarbone or punctured lung would heal in time, even for an 81 year old.  The blow that did my grandmother in is the same blow that ends athlete’s careers.  A blow to the head.   Brain trauma.   The one thing doctors and surgeons play with and examine to this day is the ability, activity and strong/weak areas of the brain.  They haven’t completely figured it out.  They know one side specializes in one ability and the other carries another trait, but the recovery ability is something they haven’t touched on yet.  The heart is so different.  Something happens to that area and they immediately know what it is, how it can be fixed and how long it will take.  The brain leaves so many question marks.  My grandmother wasn’t brought down by her age alone.  She was brought down by a mistake.   One brutal mistake.   Folks, don’t drink and drive.   Think before you drink and walk.

Now let’s get on with it.  First, a review of a very good film.

“What do you see?”-Gyspy

“Everything, that is my curse.”-Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes 2 is a game of shadows and entertainment.  If you want something fun and engagingly cool at the movies, please go see this film.  It’s an old fashioned adventure film that will razzle and dazzle you for two hours and take your mind off ordinary stress related issues.  The plot is fairly simple.   Professor Moriarty is using multiple terrorists to launch an attack on the world so wars start, money is made and the evil empire he is putting together eventually overtakes the government.  Sherlock and Watson must stop him and enlist several tools and friends, including a gypsy woman(Noomi Kapani) and Sherlock’s brother, Eli(Stephen Fry).   In the end, it comes down to a battle of wills between Holmes and Moriarty, something we all expect but have no idea how fun it can be.  Why does this film work so well? Let’s pop the hood and take a look.

-Robert Downey Jr. is the key ingredient.  While his chemistry with Jude Law is important, Downey’s slick smart and cool portrayal of Holmes is the reason to see this movie.  The chief export of joy.  Downey doesn’t take it too seriously and isn’t afraid to add a bit of comedy to serious moments.   He is the ultimate actor.  One who can morph into any kind of hero.   A skilled performance.  Downey Jr.’s Sherlock is the guy every man wants to be.  Smart, nimble, tough and persistent in every corner of their life.

-Digging Guy Ritchie’s Holmes formula.  Instead of boring us with the slow moving more soft spoken Holmes, Ritchie engages Conan O’ Doyle’s earlier version of Holmes and once again serves up the thinking man’s action hero.  There are smarts to his strategy here.  Every Ritchie adventure consists of clues, history, juicy dialogue battles and the usual Holmes/Watson gamesmenship.   Anybody who shits on Ritchie’s formula doesn’t like fun.   With a cineplex full of depressing powerful downers, action stories with a brain included are required.

-Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law do make for a great team.   Finding the right actors to fill legendary roles is the most important part of reinventing Sherlock Holmes and these two talented actors are up to the task.  Ritchie paired the two as friends before the start of the first film and the interplay comes through on the big screen.  Their exchanges are relaxed, carry a unique brand of humor and always entertain because the two are working partners but on a simple plain are best friends trying to look out for one another without making it look homesexually inaccurate.   Downey Jr. and Law are brilliant here.

-Jared Harris makes for a great bad guy, playing the legendary Professor Moriarty with an evil blend of menace and brains.   Harris doesn’t overplay the role yet doesn’t tip toe around it.  This is the greatest villain Holmes ever faced because each found a match in each other as far as ability was concerned.   The first film’s villain, Lord Blackwood, was a fake magician easily taken down by Holmes.   Moriarty is a lot more difficult to defeat and very intelligient, making a fine match for Holmes’ mad methods.

-Everything about SH2 is big in scale.  The sets, costumes, action, drama and overall spectacle.  Ritchie doesn’t mess around or go light in these areas of Victorian period delight.   He pumps up the surroundings with wild colors, characters and a culture lost long ago.    It supports the story very well.

Sherlock Holmes is a perfect “getaway” delight.   Action adventure, humor, and a little drama.   The ending fulfills the time spent and sets up a third film.   I left the theater feeling that I wanted more but in the best possible way.  I didn’t want the adventures to end and felt like going back for another round of entertainment.  SH2 is classic entertainment.  It sweeps you off your feet for two hours, takes you back in time and tosses you into an adventure before setting you back in the modern hour wondering why things got so damn boring.

 The Cardinals Seeking an outfielder.   There are people who can wait and analyze a move after it is signed, done and complete.   A few of my friends are patient when it comes to speculation.   They have an ability I do not currently own.   The ability to NOT pay attention to MLB news updates.   I am a different blend.   I like to stick my hand inside the oven while the product is still cooking.  I’m bad.   I dig into all the hype, talk and potential until my brain needs 5 minutes to uncoil.   The Cardinals are a brand new band.   Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols are gone.   Mike Matheny doesn’t have a game of managerial or coaching experience but he takes over the team that just won the World Series.   GM John Mozelaik is slowly putting his roster together.  He resigned Rafael Furcal, Skip Schumacher and pulled JC Romero from the free agent market.   This is Mozelaik’s team now.  The Walt Jocketty products are few and far between on this roster.  Mozelaik cleared out most of La Russa’s coaches and confidants.  He brought in his own manager and assigned his own coaching staff.   He allowed Pujols to walk and won’t make a big pitch for Prince Fielder.  Mozelaik is as cool as a cucumber.  Everything is riding on his shoulders and he seems to approve of the pressure.  He likes the danger that bold choices bring to his desk.   If Matheny fails, it is on him.  If The Cards fall and the Angels rise, Albert’s defection will somehow bite Mo in the ass.   This is common sense news folks.   Mozelaik knows exactly what he is doing.  He was preparing for Albert Pujols-less baseball in September and October.   He formulated his plan of attack in November and engaged it in early December.   So far, I like his moves.

Furcal, Skip, and Romero are solid smart low key moves.   Role fillers and then some.   The next question for this team is the outfield depth.  Please save me the Adron Chambers speech.  The kid needs more time.  In less than 20 at bats he put together some solid at bats, got on base and did a few things but lets not go crazy and say he can replace a .300 hitter like Jon Jay.   Chambers is a good speed bat off the bench late in the game but his defense in the outfield is suspect and his long term value is in question.  He can’t replace Jay or Allen Craig.  NO way.  Save me the Matt Adams hype note from Memphis.  I don’t care what he did in the minors.  There are tons of power bats down there who arrive in the majors and fizzle.  Look at Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather.  Save it.  We’ll see him in September for a few at bats.  Until then, ship his ass to the Andrew Luck department of worthless hype and hard-on’s.   Let’s get serious.  Here are a few of the candidates.

Ryan Ludwick is a smart, low key fit for the Cardinals.   Mozelaik brought Lud to the Cards in 2007 and kickstarted his career after knee injuries delayed it in Cleveland.  Lud is a plus defender and can hit for power.  He will drive in 75-85 runs and performs well at Busch.   He will only cost you 2-3 million per year and you can lock him down for a 1 year or 2 year deal.  Lud doesn’t have much leverage after a down year split between San Diego and Pittsburgh.   I didn’t like when we lost him in 2010 and would like him back in this lineup, backing up Jay in center and filling in for/splitting time with Craig in right field.

Coco Crisp has been linked to the Cardinals in talks.  Crisp is a known trouble making pest but he is an effective leadoff hitter.  He hit 8 home runs and drove in 54 while hitting .264 last season but he also stole 49 bases.  That’s right.  A base stealer.  Something the Cards haven’t had in a long time.   The Cardinals didn’t steal 49 bases as a team in 2011.  This is something to look into.  Crisp would cost the Cards 4-6 million at least and may be worth a look.  He is the player you hate to face but wouldn’t mind having on your team.

Carlos Beltran-The expensive big fish on the market.   Beltran’s talent is clear cut.  He destroyed the Cards in 2004-2006 while with the Astros and Mets, but has become an injury prone mess since 2009.   Beltran hit .300 with 22 HR and 84 RBI last season between the Mets and Giants but will command a high salary.   After Michael Cuddyer got 10 million per season from Colorado and Jason Kubel got 7.5 from Washington, I would expect Beltran to command 15 million per season.   However, sources say he will take a 2-3 deal worth 12.5 million a season.   Still rich for my blood but I wouldn’t dispute the move if the Cards signed him.  Every player brings risk and Beltran’s risk is greener than others but his potential impact is immense.  He can play all outfield spots and hit anywhere from the #2 hole to the 6th spot.  A potentially dangerous player, in terms of potential and injury threat.

Ryan Ludwick, Crisp or Carlos Beltran?   My money is on Beltran.  My brain is with Ludwick.   I would be fine with Crisp.

The Blues win an ugly battle against Columbus on Sunday, 6-4 and roll into 4th place in the Western Conference with 42 points.   This team is 13-2-4 under Ken Hitchcock.  Enough said.  They are doing a lot of things right at the moment and will try to continue the trend against Colorado tonight on the road.  Sunday’s win was characteristic of Hitchcock’s effect on this team.  They simply don’t give up.  On a night where Jaroslav Halak gave up 4 goals and the defense struggled at times, the Blues were relentless and kept after the puck.   The troubles with shootouts continue to confound this team but hopefully the shoots taken in those extra sudden death sessions improve and the Blues grab a post overtime victory under their new coach.   Until then, I’ll enjoy the rugged new brand of Blues hockey.   While the Rams tank another season, I am happy with the Blues taking over the winter here in St. Louis.  It’s about time the bold moves of Doug Armstrong pay off.

The Rams lose again.   World moves on.   The examination process takes longer if you wish to inspect the losing ways of this football team.  What is Arizona and Seattle(both 7-7 with bad to average quarterbacks) doing differently?  The Rams roughly have the same talent buildup here, so why aren’t we seeing results?  The Seahawks have beat us twice along with the Eagles and Chicago.   The Cardinals beat the 49ers last week.   What is wrong with the Rams? It doesn’t start and end with the coaching, but there has to be a problem there.   Injuries have hurt, but I look at the ridiculously stupid penalties this team takes.  How can you win football games if you aren’t disciplined?  The NFC West competition has improved their play with the same or lesser talent.  The Rams can’t do so.  I don’t care if they are playing hard for Spags or McDaniels.  This is a results driven league and the St. Louis Rams aren’t getting any results.

Game Notes from the Cincy defeat-

*Kellen Clemens played well for a guy who has only been here 2 weeks.  Clemens developed momentum on drives and threw for a late touchdown before coming up short.  However, Kellen did as much or more than Sam Bradford has done all season.   He gives a small ounce of excitement to the final 2 games.

*Chris Long racked up sack #13 on Sunday.  A stellar player having a career season on a bad football team.   Long has slowly developed into the premiere pass rusher the Rams were hoping for when they drafted him 2nd in the 2009 draft.  Long has put together 2 very strong back to back seasons now.   Him and Robert Quinn give you a foundation on the defensive line for years to come.

*The defense played “bend yet don’t break” for another week, allowing big yards on the ground and enough points to outlast their offense while performing horribly on special teams.   This unit deserves better and saves us from a winless season but spots can be strengthened.

*The Rams would be smart to sit Sam Bradford for the rest of the season with his high ankle sprain.   The next two games are against Pittsburgh and San Francisco, two very powerful defensive minded playoff teams looking to position themselves for the playoffs.  Tell the kid to shut his mouth and ride the bench.  I don’t care about Bradford’s desire right now.  I care more about his desire to live to see another day when he is shell shocked and scared of getting hit.   Bradford hasn’t shown me that yet.  The ability to take a hit and not see his play completely drop in production.  Bradford isn’t healthy and can’t play.  Start Clemens the last two games for the sheer fun of seeing what he can do and saving your franchise player for a fresh start.  Spagnuolo’s future may hinge on his treatment of Bradford.

*If the Rams finish 2-14 and get the #3 pick, The GM(whoever that is) has to give serious consideration to trading it for more picks because the Rams don’t just need one player.  They need a quartet of producers.   The Rams need to start prepping for 2012.   This season is horrendously over.

Ndamukong Suh may be a dirty old school player but the big guy is a game changing defensive player and begs the question;  Did the Rams make the right choice?  Franchise Quarterback or Franchise defensive player?  The call goes to the Rams, due to Bradford’s potential impact and Suh’s negative impact, but in five years the answer may be different.

SONGS TO SEEK OUT

Musician to Investigate-Frank Ocean.  Give his new song with Jay Z and Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild”, a listen.   An unorthodox choice for this blog but something new and fresh.

http://youtu.be/Qv-BeEa0bw4

Black Keys Song of the Week-Mind Eraser, from their latest, El Camino.  A hard charging blues rock song that defines the band to a direct tee.   This is what they do.  Make hardcore blues rock that lingers and drives you to the rest of their music catalog.   One of the best signs a band is working its magic on you is when you search for their older work.   Listen to this song and tell me it doesn’t move you or get you going in their direction.

http://youtu.be/ZB4f4AT8R-0

Weddings-Good, bad and ugly traits.   Over the past weekend, I had a chance to serve as best man for a fourth time at a wedding and the experience always brings a few different flavors.   The good comes in the form of being directed associated with the wedding.   You are the eye of attention and get to do things first.   Eat first, make the toast and push the proceedings along.   I gave another speech and it went well and hit the marks.  I like weddings.  I am a believer in marriage not only because it has worked for me but also for the idea of marriage.   Two people meeting out of the blue, falling in love and deciding to spend the rest of their life with one another.  The promise of a lifetime.  Isn’t that what we all strive for in some way?  Companionship.   The bad part comes in dealing with all the anxiety and nerves of the pre wedding activities.   Getting to the facility, dropping your belongings in a room and heading to the hall to go over the plays for the wedding.   Stand here, walk to here, look here and hold this.   Weddings are an event and one small fuckup cripples the entire day so careful tactics are taken.  Wedding planners are bitches because they promised heaven to the bride.  The Groomsmen show up and do the best they can to make it happen.  My part was walking up to my friend Eric, standing next to him, smiling and handing him the rings.   The speech was extra.   Weddings are symbolic of life.  Stress, nerves, anxiety and the pursuit of happiness all in one night.  The ugly comes when people close to you drink too much because when people really drink, emotions come out and make themselves known.  Unstoppable forces meet unfortunate people and things happen that can’t be reversed but only heal over time.   Overall, weddings are good and fun but will wear you down with the pressure and aftermath.   I still believe in the institution of marriage but continue to question the procedure for which it is reached.

Fatherhood At Three Months

What is there to say that hasn’t been said by dad’s that have run around before me?   Probably little, but they didn’t have a son as cute, willing or time consuming as my little man Vinny.   Every day I come home and the kid is pissed, sleeping or hungry or a combination of all three.   I am tired and holding little energy but I make it a task to spend a little time with the guy every night.   Tonight, I read him a fine sweet book, “Go The Fuck To Sleep”.   That is the title of the book and it was a great Christmas gift.  This is a book you can’t read straight faced or get through without breaking into laughter.  Lines such as “You are hungry, that’s bullshit, now go the fuck to sleep” stopped me three times in my tracks.  We don’t do the ordinary books to rock our kids to sleep here at the Buffa’s.    Unorthodox approaches our house frequently.  As I laughed, Vinny stayed wide awake and looked at me like I had a few too many drinks.   Being a parent requires you to call a few audibles and do things differently just to tell yourself this is a fresh experience.   While exhausting and patience sucking, being a parent is the role of a lifetime.  And it never ends.  I’m up for the ride.

Here is another song because it reminds me of my family and our struggle with getting over a tough event.   David Gray performing “Draw The Line” live in a studio in London like he’s blasting a package of C4 inside his chest.  That’s the only way Gray can bring it.   Straight and blunt and with meaning.  There are few musicians you look at on stage or in studio and say to yourself, “what you see is what you get”.   Gray belongs to that group.  An English musician with one idea.  Sing from the heart.  Give this raw edged song a listen.  I’m touring Youtube at the moment and came across this one inside various searches.

http://youtu.be/ujr2f4Vl31s

Moving on to the Random Topics-Bullets included

  • Tim Tebow’s Broncos lose to Brady and the Patriots and people wish to smack Tebow for not leading a comeback.   Well, when your defense gives up 41 points and your fellow offensive players like to fumble the football, what can a quarterback do?  Tebow had another solid game, throwing for 194 yards and rushing for 90 while scoring 2 touchdowns on the ground.   Tebow is playing great football and did all he could against one of the best QB’s in the game.   It’s time to leave the man’s religion alone and analyze his football skills alone.
  • Ben Roethlisberger had a performance on Monday Night Football many will wish to forget.  Playing on one leg, Big Ben threw 3 interceptions and fumbled once and his Steelers lost 20-6 to the suddenly Super Bowl threat SF 49ers.   When your quarterback commits 4 turnovers, you won’t win that often.
  • Blues president John Davidson has a point when discussing the rising number of concussions in hockey.  It’s the speed of the game, the size and athleticism of the players and taking away of mid ice tactics that lend themselves to bigger hits.   Players can’t hold and hook players in the middle of the ice and without the red line taking away two lane passes, players are getting caught cold in the neutral zone.   In the end, unless you change the framework the game has taken, the concussions won’t stop.
  • You can take every measure possible in hockey and football but bad injuries will happen.   It’s a physically brutal sport and you can’t teach players how to not hit someone.   The players know the risks involved.  They know the sport is slowly killing them one game at a time.
  • Andre Ward beat Carl Froch in the super middleweight Super 6 boxing championship on Showtime on Saturday, staying unbeaten and beating a flawless british fighter on the Boardwalk in Jersey.   Ward took apart the unbeaten Froch and outpointed him easily while earning a close decision.  While the two American judges had it 115-113 for Ward, the british judge(feeling zero empathy) gave the fight to Ward at 118-110.  With Froch representing Britain, I take the lopsided Ward decision as a true indicator of who won the fight. 
  • The Yu Darvish negotiating rights victory by Texas is absolutely ludicrous.  Why spend 51 million dollars on one player to only win the rights to negotiate a contract with him?  Did Nolan Ryan and company fail to see the mistake Boston made with Daiska Matusurka.  They handed over 50 million to win the rights to talk a deal,and Daiska has been a shell of himself since his America arrival.   Darvish is a Japanese pitcher with 99 wins and a 1.99 ERA in Japan.   There is no data telling me that will transmit over to the states.  There is no real way to tell.   The Rangers won’t give Prince Fielder, a proven slugger, a long term contract but they will hand 51 million to negotiate a potential 120 million dollar contract for a guy who hasn’t thrown 1 major league pitch yet.   Sounds like giving a rookie QB 50 millio before he takes a snap.   Darvish could be Ichiro or he could be a complete bust.   The pursuit makes zero sense to me.  
  • One intriguing quality about Beltran coming to St. Louis is his friendship with Lance Berkman, who teamed up with Beltran to nearly cripple the Cards in 2004.   Beltran also sported a .385 on base percentage in 2011 while hitting .300 with two clubs.   If healthy, Beltran could be a great signing.   Place him in the #2 hole in the lineup with the speed and power.   This is just an idea.  If they sign Lud or Crisp, I would understand and support it because it’s smart.   Signing Beltran could produce a big reward if they take the leap.
  • MMA fights are highly skilled fights but they don’t last long enough to throw pay per view money on.   There is nothing worse than tossing 50 dollars on a fight only for it to last 2 minutes.  Mike Tyson used to be a sure bet for a waste of cash unless you liked seeing human eclipses inside a boxing ring.  I’d rather give my 60 dollars to a boxing match because the chances for a 90 minute 12 round battle are higher.  Fighters get up off the mat more often because they are only allowed to toss fists and not elbows, legs and heads. 
  • The Dark Knight Rises trailer promises high stakes action between Batman and Bane.    For the people who can’t erase Joel Schumacher’s Batman films from their head, the mention of Bane won’t perk interest because Schumacher didn’t portray him right.  He isn’t just a muscle goon.  He is a highly intelligient deadly villain who can get into a person’s head. Think of the Joker with muscle to go with brains.  The final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece 3 film set comes down to Batman/Bruce Wayne deciding to return to Gotham after being casted out at the end of the Dark Knight.   He comes back to see his city in ruins, this time at the hands of a terrorist named Bane(played by the deliciously evil Tom Hardy).   Anne Hathaway shows up as Catwoman, and the usual players(Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman) all come back along with Joe Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard.  Nolan’s films are so good because he pays as much attention to story strength and character development as he does to the action and set pieces.   Everything is done with skill and class.   This will be the film of the year in 2012.  Here’s the trailer for those seeking to wet the lips. 

http://youtu.be/XXAzGGX2tpw

  • The NBA lockout ends officially on Christmas day and while I couldn’t care less, there is new hope for basketball fans seeking a fix.   I don’t carry resentment towards Kobe, Lebron or Derrick Rose.   I just find it difficult to care until the playoffs come around.   The shortened season works for me and should be tested in other sports.   Shorter season with the playoffs featured at top billing.  
  • HBO’s 24/7 just gets better and better.   There are so many things to love about this show.  Liev Schriber’s narration.  The film work and sequences.   The music chosen to carry the scenes of physical carnage.  The stories behind the fighters and players.  If sports were made into a theater play, this would be the best example.   Players fighting for respectability and triumph against  a sea of competitors while dealing with the normal issues of life off the ice or outside the ring.   Boxers locking together mind and body before a fight.   Its hard to ignore emotion in a show focused on taking us inside the lives of athletes.   I highly recommend this show.   24/7 Rangers-Flyers premieres their second episode tonight. 
  • Woody Allen’s film about a writer getting lost in Paris sounds like an idea for an evening with Owen Wilson.   Wilson is a comedic actor but can be effective when inserted into the right role.   Here he plays a guy who walks into the past during hallucinations overnight in Paris.  
  • Warrior comes highly recommended on DVD this week from me.  Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play rival MMA fighters struggling to make ends meet, physically and psychologically, so they enter a tournament and set themselves on a collision course.   Father issues,abandonment and hatred enter the picture in this fighter drama.  NO, its not just about MMA fighting.  There is a story about brotherhood here.  
  • The Packers losing to the Chiefs only reinforces the idea that anything can happen on any given Sunday.   When they hoist the AFC in another Super Bowl, they will be glad they lost in the regular season.

Something tells me today will be a day that Iwill never forget.  There’s so much on the table that the idea of  thinking this 24 hour set will go down like any other isn’t valid.  I expect lots of drama. 

That’s all for now.  So long for just a little awhile. 

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

Also….The only thing I can say that is comforting about Meme’s exit is being reunited with my grandfather Larry.   Its only been 21 years since he died so that’s nice. Other than that, this passing will rock my family. Like I said, this could be a day to remember or forget.

We will see. Life is full of surprises.

The Latest

Hello ladies and gents,

A week of frenzied drama isn’t letting up.  Allow me to uncoil a few details before I run into the latest gauntlet of material.   On Sunday, my sweet grandmother, Meme, took a nasty fall down a flight of steps at party and hit her head hard enough to cause a bleed in her brain, requiring surgery and a bed at Mercy Hospital.   She had another bleed on Tuesday, which was caused by a stroke.   She hasn’t completely woken up or recognized anyone.   As the moment passes here, she is stable yet stuck in a stalemate.   She isn’t making progress and there is no telling when she will respond to commands.   Adding insult to injury, I got sick on Tuesday as well and was couch stricken all of last night.   While lying helplessly, I did throw some topics into the chamber.   Allow me to throw some topics at the wind.

The Pujols Camp Dragout-Just Go Already!

DeeDee Pujols, the wife of Albert Pujols, can’t seem to cut and run.  Instead of packing up her belongings and sending them to California and departing the city that has been her home for11 yrs, DeeDee felt the need to unload some frustration on a radio station over the weekend.  I don’t need to run over her comments for long here so let me sum it up.  She said the Cardinals didn’t commit enough personal attention to her husband and that there never was a 10 year offer.   This goes against every report out of Cardinals camp and the media.   My question is…what does she have to gain here?  What is she doing?   Albert Pujols did the same thing in his press conference on Saturday.  He started making claims and taking tiny shots at the Cardinals for making bad offers.   My plea to them is this.  Tell the wife to shut her mouth.   Take her and her diamond studded sandals and diamond cluttered baseball cap and get out of town.  Albert Pujols made a choice and so far he is having problems sticking with it.   Were the harsh words and reactions too much for him to take?  Did he expect fans here to simply shrug their shoulders and not care at all?   That would be a signal of our love being conditional.    Apparently, in the end, Albert Pujols’ love for the Cardinals was conditional.   Bill DeWitt didn’t cuddle Pujols camp and tell them sweet words of compassion as BUSINESS was being discussed.   That was the missing element in those tweets.   Now, Albert and his wife are making attempts to sway the fans back into their corner instead of moving to LA and staying quiet.   They are the ones who took 254 million over 210 million over 10 years with an additional 10 years of service on the backend.   If Albert was worried about finding a job in Busch Stadium after he retired, look around the place.   Mike Matheny managing,  Mark McGwire(steroids and all) as the hitting coach and many Ex-Cards hovering over the FSN desk.   On Friday, I came to a conclusion that each side did what they had to do and business was passed out and we could move on.   Now, Team Pujols is holding up the truck.   They want the last ounce of sympathy from Cardinal nation and we aren’t giving it up.   Joe Strauss of the Post Dispatch confirmed from a source at Busch that there was a 10 year offer on the table to Pujols from the Cards.   In the end, it simply was passed over.   Albert made a choice and moved on financially.   He can’t seem to move on emotionally.   At the press conference on Saturday, he seemed nervous and unsure, leaning on CJ Wilson for cover.   Was Albert second guessing himself for the first time in his life?  Was he thinking twice too late?   Did he send Dedre onto the radio station to fire one last round of ammo?   Who knows…all I know is this.    Albert Pujols had 3 offers on the table, including a generous respectable offer from the Cardinals, and he took the Angels bid.   He walked away from the chance to be THE ICON, not a icon, of the Cardinals.   He could have broke every record in franchise history, won another ring or two, a couple more MVP awards and finished in St.Louis.  It was there waiting for him.   The 5 year, 130 million dollar offer was the Cardinals attempt to give him a higher dollar.   That was a smack in the face to the 31 year old.   The 10 year 210 million clearly wasn’t enough or else Albert would be a Cardinal today.   The Cardinals didn’t kiss Albert’s ass enough in the end.  The 10 year STL offer didn’t include a pack of rainbows and shiny hearts.   Albert made a business decision.   Someone needs to remind him what a business decision means.

In the mean time, shut his wife up and allow me to toss a story in here.  A good friend of mine summed up the fan reaction by using a scene from Goodfellas.   Towards the end of Martin Scorsese’s classic, Henry Hill(Ray Liotta) comes to the boss of the family(Paul Sorvino) and asks for money because he is broke, drugged up and snitching to the feds.   The boss gives him some cash and says, disappointedly, “Take this, but now I have to turn my back on you.”   Henry looks on in disbelief.  Our comments and reaction last week was the “take this” part of the equation.   Now most fans have turned their back on Pujols.   He needs to do the respectful thing and head to LA.   His time here is done.  He pulled that trigger.   A page has been turned.  The Ship has sailed.   I wish him well in the AL land of California, but he is on the other side.   The one harboring the potential enemies.  Goodnight and good luck Alberto.  I respect him as a player but I lost respect for him as a man.

The Spagnuolo Investigation/Rams Recap

Look, the Rams suck.   Plain and simple.   There are various reasons for that but a 2-11 team doesn’t need a painful analysis.   A despicably poor offensive strategy, a worthless offensive line that accumulates more penalties than blocks, a running game that goes nowhere because of the lack of a passing game, and special teams coverage that ranks right up there with Safe Auto Insurance.    The biggest question is…who gets the blame?  In my opinion, the share gets spread around.

Sam Bradford is having a poor season, supported by a lagging injury in his ankle and a lack of talented receivers.    By now, we know that Bradford is talented yet brittle and requires good receivers to elevate his game.   Sam is the future(as least for now) and the Rams shouldn’t be in the running for a quarterback, unless that guy’s name is Peyton Manning.   Bradford is flawed and showed rust in his rookie season.   This season, the seams have torn.   Bradford holds onto the ball too long, can’t complete a pass, and gets zero help from his offensive line and when he throws a ball on the mark, its dropped.   Next year, Bradford faces a lot of tests as he tries to hold onto the job.

Steven Jackson has given this team 8 solid years in an era where a sound offensive line and quarterback haven’t existed.   He’s a leader and a bulldog, but sooner rather than later you have to explore the trade market for him before he hits free agency.   If the defense needs help, its in linebacking depth and secondary quality.   Big plays and a horrible run defense haunt an otherwise solid core of players on defense.

The coaches are another story.   By now, holding a 10-35 record in his time spent head coaching in St. Louis, one would assume Spagnuolo’s message has either gotten into these players heads or given some kind of surge.   As of now, it isn’t happening.  You then ask yourself, is it Spags himself or a lack of talent hurting him from outset?   Spags is a good coach but is he the right guy to pull this team out of a ditch?  His first season ended in 1-15, rebounded with 7-9 and now has collapsed into a dismal 2-11 shred of hope.   What does Stan Kroneke do?  Fire Spags or fire GM Billy Devaney and let Spags finish his contract in 2012.    Where do you start?

My gut feeling right now is Spags finishing his contract in 2012 and Devaney and Josh McDaniels losing their jobs.   Devaney brought the current talent depleted roster in and the GM needs to go first in order for the new leader to assess his troops.  McDaniels’ offense isn’t fit for Bradford’s skill set and its plain depressing, so he is gone.   Spags’ ability to push the players through four quarters of hell is impressive.  While he isn’t getting results, he is getting effort and will.   Kroneke may let him finish his deal and see if he can turn the ship around in 2012 as he nearly did in 2010.   The last three games the Rams can play spoilers.   Beat the Steelers and you mess up their head to head battle with Baltimore for the division seed.  Beat San Francisco and you mess up their chances at home field advantage, a big time need for John Harbaugh’s crew.   Beat Cincinnati and you screw with their playoff hopes in the wildcard.  There is something to gain and a ton to lose for Spagnuolo’s group of losers.   Bradford may have to sit out the rest of the season because he played hurt in Seattle, but isn’t playing hurt a part of a QB’s makeup?   Jackson could be playing for a trade, but it wouldn’t be his choice.  Say what you want about SJ39 but you better not question his leadership and drive on the field.   He will never quit.   How many sacks can Chris Long get?  In the middle of  turmoil, Long and James Lauranitis are having solid seasons.   The Rams need to get through the rest and finish up as well as they can and prepare for an active offseason and draft where wide receiver and cornerback are the priorities.

The Blues Roll Right Along

After beating the Rangers last night in front of the 24/7 HBO crew, The Blues are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.   This team is slowly becoming a real threat in the Western Confernce and throughout the NHL.   Ken Hitchcock came in here and legitimately changed things.   The Blues are only third in their division because they stand behind the powerhouses Chicago and Detroit.   They are plowing through the rest of the division and placing themselves in prime position for a playoff run in 2012.   For the first time in years, I can say this run of action may not end until the Blues do reach the playoffs.   The effort on the ice right now is amazing.  The defense is stronger and allowing fewer opportunities for good hockey players.   The goaltending has been tremendous.  Brian Elliot has the numbers of a stellar starter but he is only splitting the starts with Jaroslav Halak, who is hanging around in the selection committtee with his revitilized play.   David Backes is a fucking freight train of physical firepower on the ice, netting the tough goals in front of the net or laying out players on a regular basis.  Backes leads the team in hits and collected 5 last night against NYR.   Every time he hits the ice there seems to be a chance of a collision that won’t put Backes on his ass but send a message to the other team instead that a beast is on the ice.   T.J. Oshie continues to improve and deliver on the promise of a one year contract.  His health is always the question but he is delivering on every end of the ice.   Alexander Steen has 10 goals.   Ryan Reaves is playing like he deserves to be in Chris Stewart’s spot, a big man capable of pummeling someone and becoming an asset on the ice.  The Blues are cycling the puck like a unit and not hoping for a connection to be made.  The power play is taking baby steps but the penalty kill is flawless.   You know a team is doing well when they have the best scoring chance on a penalty kill.   All one can say is to keep the madness at Scottrade moving forward.  As Rocky once said, its all about taking the hits and keeping the momentum going forward.   The Blues are beating very good teams in NY Rangers, Philly Flyers, Red Wings, and the Blackhawks.   They are winning 4-1 and 1-0.   They are grinding other teams out and smashing them.   How long can it last?  When will the Hitchcock formula wear off?  In Blues fans minds right now, the hope is never.   For the first time in a long wait, the Blues are playing like a legit threat and a team capable of breaking into Lord Stanley’s house.

NFL ACTION

*Tim Tebow takes the field against Tom Brady and the Patriots this weekend in another rendition of “Doubt Tebow, Watch him Run”.   Tebow will take a couple years to refine his throwing method, sharpen his accuracy and put the whole package together, but he is making good progress.  He has only thrown 2 interceptions against 12 touchdown passes and has added rushing scores as well.   He turns on his game at the exact time game changers are paid to show up.   He takes 3 quarters off, assessing the defense and considering his pouncing methods and the 4th quarter doesn’t seem to matter.   That’s Tebow’s game.  If Brady and the Patriots can find a way to handle the tough Denver pass rush, they better score early and often.   If this game gets into the third quarter with the lead holding at 10 points or less, my money is on Tebow.   Love it when the old know it all ex-players are wrong.  Bet against the guy.  Go ahead.  It feeds his energy.

*The Rams face the Bengals on the road and will likely get tromped but…..you never know.   Spoiling can happen at any time.

*Who chokes and puts their head coach up on the chopping block in the NFC?   Tony Romo or Eli Manning?  While Manning has had a very good season, Romo has been all over the place.   On one Sunday, he can throw 4 touchdowns and watch the game sealing catch fall through Miles Austin’s hands.  On another day of church, Romo can cough up the game like is 2008 all over again.   Look, I don’t particularly like either guy, but my money is on Manning pulling through, making the big play, and carrying his team into the playoffs.  Romo will bite it, suck it down and help hack off Jason Garett’s job or at least put the Cowboys on the outside looking in once again.  How many more years does Jerry Jones stick with Tony Romo? He isn’t the entire problem but come clutch time, he seems to pass the test or drop the ball entirely.   Interesting duel.   If the Giants find a way to lose it, Tom Coughlin is gone.  Furnace Face Sr. has been given the ultimatum.

CARDINALS MOVES

I like John Mozelaik’s style.   He has moved on from the departure of Albert Pujols by making key moves to formulate his roster for the coming season.   While Pujols and his wife are making waves trying to convince themselves they made the right choice, Mo is doing his thing and dealing.   Low key moves are all this team needs to do in order to compete but I wouldn’t rule out a high profile stab and no its not for Prince Fielder.  Let’s run over them and also add the ones that I would like to see happen next.

*Rafael Furcal signs up for 2 year and 14 million.  At first glance, its a lot of money but after the initial pause, this is a good deal.   Furcal’s option was 12 million, so Mo restructures it and gets him for 2 seasons at 2 million more than his one year extension called for.   For a veteran former All Star shortstop, 7 million is a fair price.   Furcal was crucial in this teams run to the playoffs last season.  His shortstop defense cleaned up the infield and made others better as well.  With a groundball pitching staff, Furcal is required.  His leadoff bat and speed will also help.  The injury scares worry me as it would any team, but the risk is worth the potential reward.

*Skip Schumaker signs for 2 years and 3 million.   A good signing that locks up one of the most versatile players on the roster.   Schu can play second base and any outfield position and can pitch in an emergency(threw 91 mph heat last year, come on).   He is the best defensive outfielder on the roster and has hit .285 or better in 3 of the past 4 seasons.   Skip can start at second and lead off or play right field and hit 8th and gives you the same tools day in and day out.  Solid fundamental ball player who gives until its gone.

*JC Romero isn’t what he used to be, but this crafty lefthander will complete the last piece in the bullpen.   He will team with Marc Rzepcynski and fortify the Cards lefthanded bullpen.   Romero nearly came to the Cards at midseason in 2011 but the deal never came around.   Now, he signs a one year deal and preps to give the Cards the lefthanded specialist.   We want the Romero from 2008, where he posted a 2.75 ERA in 81 games with the Phillies.  Romero isn’t a great pitcher and will need to improve on his last few years.  The worst thing are his walk totals.   He has 372 walks against 520 strikeouts in his career.   In 2011 in split time between the Phillies and the Rockies, he walked 15 guys in 24 innings.   He only struck out 19 batters.  Romero is clearly a contact pitcher, and while it worries at first, Romero will be another project for Dave Duncan.   This isn’t a quality sign but a fine low risk buy.

*What’s next?  Outfield help.   Mozelaik can go high with Carlos Beltran, an injury prone vet with gas in the tank yet a high price.   Beltran hit .300, with 22 home runs and 84 RBI in 2011 between the Mets and Giants.   He is still a quality player and like Lance Berkman, rips the Cards every time he faces them.   Beltran isn’t a crazy buy, but he is older and injury prone.   If he wants more than 3 years and higher than 10 million per season, you let him walk because that isn’t what you need.   Jon Jay is returning and Allen Craig will be back from knee surgery by late May/early June at the latest.  You need a platoon player or power bat with something to prove.   My high buy here is Beltran, but if you want to get crafty and bring back a fan favorite, sign Ryan Ludwick.  Ludwick will never produce a 30 hr, 100 rbi season again but he is capable of driving in 80 runs and is a plus outfielder.   Ludwick hit well and had his best seasons at Busch Stadium.  He can play right field until Craig gets back and split time with Jay when Craig returns.  Ludwick is the more reasonable contract here, because he will only cost you 3-5 million.   Ludwick has something left.  He hit a power outage in San Diego’s pitcher friendly Petco Park but rebounded and drove in 75 runs in Pittsburgh.

*The Cards can go low key this season because Adam Wainwright is returning you have a young firepower throwing bullpen, including the bargain buy of the season in Jason Motte.  The closer role was a problem child until Motte took it over in 2011.  Franklin blew 7 saves, Salas blew 5 and others combined to give up 5 more but Motte put a wrap on the position and turned it into a big plus in the playoffs.   The Cards beat teams with their bats in 2011 and were forced to do so.  In 2012, the feature will be pitching and manufacturing runs on offense.   Players like Jay, Furcal, Skip, and Greene will get on for guys like Holliday, Freese, Berkman and Craig.   The lineup has tons of potential and will go over the top with Beltran(makes for a perfect #2 hole hitter) or be fine with Ludwick.   With Pujols sailing away, the Cards have flexibility and that lies in their free agent market selection.  It would be foolish to lay back and do nothing but it would be even crazier to dive in too deep, like overpay Beltran or beg for Fielder.  Mozelaik doesn’t work that way.  He is a smart, calculated businessman.  Michael Cuddyer was an intriguing possibility until the Rockies overpaid him considerably at 3 years and 30 million.   Cuddyer hit .284 with 20 home runs and 70 runs batted in.   In the right place, Ludwick could do that for half the price.   Be smart, Mo, keep being smart.  He’s a chess player with plenty of moves left.

*The Cards gain 5-7 wins in the rotation and gain 10 more saves at least with the return of Wainwright and a whole season of Motte in the closer role.   Factor that into the equation of last season’s run and bank it against the loss of Pujols and we are looking good.

*The rest of the NL Central didn’t do much but trade players.   Aramis Rameriz went to the Brewers from the Cubsand Alex Gonzalez went to the Brewers from the Reds.   Prince Fielder remains an interest of the Cubs but Scott Boras’ 90 page booklet on Fielder will pull in bigger offers.   Or will Boras settle for a 5 year deal worth a higher annual value and let Prince cash in around Albert’s age with a career ending contract.   Fielder has 4 years on Pujols and teams are rightfully unsure about his growth potential with age and his effectiveness at first base.  He doesn’t want to go to Baltimore or Seattle, but if the Cubs or Rangers got into the game, something may happen.   The idea is the rest of the Central division looks the same.  Favors the Cardinals.

The Final Word on Albert Pujols-Read This Section Now

Allow me one more section(until spring training) on Albert Pujols.   The ultimate question.  Why did he really leave?
Albert Pujols didn’t just leave for the money.  It wasn’t ALL about the money.   That would too simple and clear for this ordeal.   Albert Pujols was emotionally fucked by the Cardinals and comforted by the Angels.  Perfect for the religious man that Albert is.   Albert let emotions get in the way of a business decision.   He signed with the Angels to get back at the Cardinals “cold” business tactics.   DeWitt and Mozelaik didn’t cuddle Albert enough.   They didn’t attach a lovely lullaby to the 210 million dollar offer that Pujols left on the table.  From the moment I heard about the decision, I knew it couldn’t just be about the money(saying the “just” part very slowly).   There had to be something else.  That didn’t just happen.   Sure, 254 million dollars is a lot of cash and enough green to convince a man to change sides.  However, so is 210 million dollars.   If it was all about the money, why is Pujols still looking back.  Today.  Tomorrow.   Why is his wife talking to radio stations?   Why?   The answer.  They are still convincing themselves they made the right decision.   Albert is suddenly full of doubt.  Shocked by the past.   He is carrying the normal burden of player expectations but now he carries a little of Lebron James weight as well.   He has to live with his decision.  That’s the hard part, Albert.   Easy to say yes to Arte Morenos smooth talk and easy to ignite the fires on a deal but so very hard to MOVE ON.  Just wait.  Spring training comes around and you see Musial, Gibson and Red.   They’ll look at you not in disgrace but in disappointment.  You could have been the greatest of them all.  Albert Pujols could have been #1.   Now, unfaithfully departed, he will be #2 in Cardinal history.   That’s what he lost on December 8th.  He lost the chance to be THE ICON and not just A Icon.    That, my friends, is why Albert Pujols is still looking back at St. Louis and asking the fans for justification. He knows what he lost and what he will never get back.  Pure unconditional adoration.  Goodbye Albert.  See you on the other side.

My thoughts on Ryan Braun-Dirty as a devil.   Rather it is confirmed or not through his appeal doesn’t affect the cloud of shit surrounding Braun’s name right now.  Right after winning the MVP, Braun tested positive for a steroid or performance enhancing substance.   Deny until you die you confident swagger carrying dirt bag,  but remember it will never go away.   To me, Braun’s entire career is in question.  Yes it is.   He gets the same treatment as Manny Rameriz.

Television Show to Watch at the Moment-Homeland on Showtime

If you haven’t made the dive for this terrorist conspiracy thriller, go ahead and do so.  I sank my teeth into three hours of this thrilling suspence story and I can’t get enough of it.   This is my kind of story.  One person in Washington telling everybody she smells rotten dirt on a so called hero and nobody giving her the time of day, so it takes 12 episodes for them to get the  drift.  Whether or not Corporal Brody(Damian Lewis, perfectly casted) is a terrorist or not, this show is worth the ride.   The simple story.   A CIA operative(Clarie Danes) instantly suspects Brody of carrying different plans when he is suddenly rescued in Iraq 7 years after going missing.    Is she right?  Is she crazy?  The minute he lands, a hero is crowned and all her agent can do is collect info, keep eyes on him and try to convince her closest associates and intelligience.  It’s a 24/7 mind game.  The writers and producers do a fabulous job of crafting an aura of suspicion around Brody yet cast doubt on her plans as well.   The aftershocks of 9/11 haven’t left her, and to her, this is her second chance.  Sunday, the finale airs.   This weekend, I will throw myself completely into this series.  Its worth a few hours of your time.

Random Thoughts-Things to Think About

*Tony La Russa wasn’t defending Albert Pujols in the interview.  He was giving his side of the story.  Take it like a view from a father.

*If you haven’t called your grandma or grandpa in awhile, do it now.  Please don’t hesitate.  As my grandmother lives the last hours of her life in the hospital for one tragic mistake, please don’t forget to keep in touch with your family.   Don’t fucking wait.  Just do it.  Trust me, in the end, it will worth the minutes that is taken away from television, friends and sleep.   I am reliving every lost chance I had a chance to grab with my grandmother Meme right now.   The end is near and I am full of regret, joy, guilt and inspiration from a life lived full and happy.  I just wish I would have seen her more before she chose to take a trip down a flight of stairs.

*The Black Keys new album, El Camino, is crafting itself into the Album of the Year.   Such a great Blues rock band.  These two guys are musical geniues.

*I am a fan of Adele.   The british goddess of heartbreak is a real joy to listen to because of the depth she brings to her songs.  The place she pulls her music from can’t be produced in a studio or requested.  Adele is a method singer.  She sings from experience and sadness and provides us with a real take on love lost and pursued.   She makes you want to know more of her story and thus makes you a fan of her tunes.  Florence Welch and Adele are the power house female musicians right now.

*Hospitals are a place of healing and death but overall they suck.   They remind you of your mortality and the fact that you are indeed slowly dying.   They are the end and in that respect scare the shit out of you.   Watching a healthy angel like my grandmother spend the last days of her life there have reinforced the notion that life is a gift but death is a painful reminder of the moments we take for granted.   The clock never stops at a hospital.  One of the few places on earth that isn’t closed.

*Curse doctors but they don’t get any days off in between saving lives and watching others leave.   They are always on call.  True fact.  Respect nurses.  They knock out 12 hour shifts and do all the dirty work.

*Sherlock Holmes 2 is a film to see because it promises fun and games.  Robert Downey Jr. is a genius and his chemistry and interplay with Jude Law as Sherlock and Watson is a thing to see.

That’s all for now.

Remember.  Please call your grandparents.  Don’t wait.  Just call.   Sooner or later, they will be gone and you will regret leaving the idea on the floor to see them or talk to them.   They are angels sent from above to keep your ass in line.  When they are gone, you are on your own.  Parents and siblings don’t count.   I am facing this task this weekend.  Losing my caretaker.

Sometimes it really is too damn late.

Okay, I’m done for now.  I will be back with more but I can’t promise a date.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan Buffa

 

The Buffa Aftershock Notice

Actions speak louder than words my friends.   Remember that every time you are filled with rage at Albert Pujols.  Now, let me begin.  First, let me repeat.  The Mang has left the building.  This really happened folks.   Albert Pujols is gone.  Scroll the credits….

The Buffa Aftershock Notice

12-9-2011

*Albert Pujols Rant, Round 2

“One man doesn’t make a team.”

Main Idea-Albert Pujols won’t instantly make Angels World Series  contenders. He also won’t make the Cardinals turn into the Cavaliers after Lebron left. In short, we will live to win many games.

-Think of Terminator 2 tagline. “Nothing personal”. While Pujols slipped in judgement and lost a little integrity here, he can’t be hated for chasing the higher dollar. He didn’t take 275 million in Florida. He took 254 million in LA. What people can’t forget is what he did in St. Louis over 11 seasons. If he retired today, Albert Pujols is a first ballot hall of famer. The Cards got the best 11 years of his playing career. The Angels may(hypothetical nudge here) get the worse 10 years of his career. Pujols started his career here,won’t end it here but produced a 11 year run few athletes can match today without the help of performance enhancing drugs or a 250 million dollar payroll.

This Cardinals team is very good without Albert Pujols.  Their pitching staff is among the best in the league. Their lineup is still a force and the bullpen is young and talented with plenty of depth. Players will be held more accountable for their actions. Matt Holliday and David Freese each can’t miss a third of the season due to injuries. Lance Berkman needs to stay healthy. Holes must be plugged wisely. Players like Skip Schumacher, Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig are key because they can play multiple positions. Albert Pujols wasn’t the heart and soul of this team. He was a great player, a legend in fact, but only one man renting a spot in the King’s chair.

I don’t fault John Mozelaik and the Cardinals front office for giving the negotiations their best shot. Clearly, Mo’s offer wasn’t even close to Angels GM Jerry Depote’s offering in LA. The Cardinals didn’t have the ATM rocket launcher. USA Today sports writer Bob Nightengale(one of the more reliable Winter Meeting sources) wrote that Mo hurriedly packed up his bags and left the hotel without his staff to catch a plane out of Dallas. That could have been to set up the press conference back home at 330pm, or maybe the Mighty Jew was stung by losing his guy. He has nothing to be ashamed of. Once again, Mozelaik is a smart businessman and was given the general manager post for a reason. He doesn’t get outfoxed too many times. He’s a good chess player in player talks. The Cards set a ceiling worth on Pujols and weren’t going to overextend past it. 10 years,while I supported it,is too long of a contract for a 31 year old player with bad legs and recurring injuries. The Cardinals have work to do now and plenty of time to do it. Mo and company need to think of this as a new beginning and a chance to create their own roster of players.

I wish the best to Albert. I really honestly wish him well in the AL. I will follow him in LA and track his performance because I am interested to see if he can make his contract stick. I won’t be the shallow souls running out to shit on his statue outside in his restaurant in Westport. I will appreciate what he did here. His legacy in St. Louis is intact. I will wear his jersery proud to Cards game. Ask people this question. This is the classic case of love had and love lost. Ask people. Would you have rather had Pujols for only 11 years or never had him at all? Answers will surprise you and give you a true measure of a Cardinals fan. Ladies and gents, this is a business and not a morality play. If you want feelings and loyalty, watch Entourage. If you want cold hard brutal business ethics, stay tuned. The next 10 years will be fun for Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals. For Angels GM Jerry Depote, I am not so sure.

-The stories and reports are flying in like shrapnel in a firefight, but here is my particular favorite.  Bernie Miklasz’ anger free session on the departure of Pujols.  I found it to be direct, honest and closely reflecting my points a day later.  It’s easy to take personal shots at Pujols than to form a complete opinion and think of it like an adult.  The flames towards Albert represent resentment towards all sports athletes and their big contracts.   We all thought Pujols was different and in the end he wasn’t and it burned us.   That’s the basis of the hate around town today.  We took that walk onto the short plank of belief in integrity and got burned when it broke yesterday morning.  It was intriguing to see Post Dispatch writers Miklasz and Bryan Burwell spar and differ this morning in their articles.  Writers are only as good as their consistency in opinion and ability to call a story how it is without any bias or carried over feelings.  Here is Miklasz’s article and a few excerpts I pulled from it.

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/bernie-save-the-blame-game-it-s-just-business/article_c202431e-5c7f-5432-8aab-1648fbafc151.html#ixzz1g4AEGLxX

Miklasz on Pujols’ departure-

“I’m genuinely saddened by Pujols’ departure because I wanted to believe that he’d be different, that he would stay, that he would fully appreciate what he had here. Cardinals fans and Pujols simply adored each other for the last 11 years.”

“I sincerely wanted to trust Pujols when he offered this testimony during a 2009 interview: “Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course. People from other teams want to play in St. Louis, and they’re jealous that we’re in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 million or $4 more million a year? It’s not about the money. I already got my money. It’s about winning, and that’s it.”

“Financially, Pujols is a winner. I think he’s lost something special, the chance to retire as the second-greatest Cardinal of all time, just behind Stan Musial and slightly ahead of Bob Gibson.”

“I’ll say it again: This franchise doesn’t have to be ashamed of that offer. It wasn’t the best, but it was generous. The Cardinals’ offer was also insane.  Pujols will be 32 next month. His numbers are slipping. He has a partially torn ligament in his right (throwing) elbow. He limps on wheels that feel the strain of carrying an increasingly thicker body.”

‘The Angels are in better position to absorb the cost of paying Pujols for the inevitable downturn. The Angels already generate more cash than the Cardinals, have a higher payroll than St. Louis and are negotiating a new local TV contract that will lead to a huge spike in revenue.”

“The Cardinals and their fans were privileged to get the best of Pujols. It truly was an honor. And now the Cardinals and their fans don’t have to worry about paying for the worst of Pujols.”

Back to Buffa-
When I saw the headlines, pictures and analysis roll in yesterday, I was quite shocked and felt like someone hit me in the back of the head.   For years, I never truly thought Albert would leave.  He built a career, legend and life here.  Until yesterday morning, I told everyone, including family, friends and random people that Pujols would accept an offer here and stay put.  Finish his 20 plus season career inside Busch Stadium.  However, playing the optimist card comes with a price.  Reacting to this news is like getting punched in the face.  At first, your bone structure and nerves are rattled and bruised.   Slowly, you begin to feel and taste blood.   However after the swelling goes down, you realize it only made you stronger and more willing to punch back.   I took a blow today that I denied like hell for a month.   I am over it.  It will be different not seeing #5 out there setting up for another great moment(or double play) but sooner rather than later these Cardinals will remind us that this team just…won’t…go…away, as Joe Buck famously said.
This isn’t the only time a big star left a team with unfinished business of sorts.  Other than Lebron’s premature defection to Miami, here are others from Anthony Castrovince of mlb.com.  “We saw it with Shaq and Kareem leaving their “hometown” teams for La-La Land and when Clyde Drexler blazed past the Blazers, Houston-bound. We saw it when Wayne Gretzky skated his way out of Edmonton. Or when David Beckham left Manchester United for Real Madrid.”
Albert’s last at bat came on a strikeout against the Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series.  I will never forget Pujols getting big hits, running out of the dugout to congratulate teammates or playing the game with reckless abandon.   11 years of excellence doesn’t get destroyed by one moment of wounded integrity.  Something I’ve reminded people today is that Albert is the greatest Cardinal I ever watched.  That doesn’t change now that he plays for a different team.  I’ll look for him to mash Fenway, Yankee Stadium and attempt to knock the Rangers off the American League pedestal in 2012.   The animosity is gone.  Hatred doesn’t exist here.  I’ll leave that to the unfortunate souls who can’t recognize an action here that spoke louder than words.  Pujols left.  Get over it.  I am nearly past it.  This team is full of possibilities.
A Few Notes on the Potential Moves For John Mozelaik-

*Fielder is intriguing but not worth the years and fighting with Boras.  If Mo thought Lozano was a tough bitch to talk to, imagine his Round 2(first being Holliday) with The Shark.   I will kindly take a pass on Fielder.  He is the hot woman you glance at twice walking through a mall.  She is hot but you know she is bad for you long term.  Interesting but no thanks.  Maybe a game of “just the tip”.  Anyway.

*Alex Gonzalez signed with the Brewers so we will see plenty of him.   Dotel broke down and went to Detroit, but we have plenty of righties in the pen.   I’d shoot Kyle McClellan in the fucking head first.

*Hanley Rameriz, you little hairy mexican chicago bitch, was an interesting thought until I remembered Jeffrey Loria would peel the paint off Busch Stadium’s walls to give him to us.  Shelby Miller would be involved and I say no thanks.  He is a head case with tons of talent but not worth a 2 year joy ride for a potential career of pitching.

*I say go for Placido Polanco because he is a fucking hit machine.  He can play second base.  I would offer a one year offer to Rafael Furcal because of his defense and pop in his bat.  This team can use some veteran blood.   Also put out a flier to Ryan Ludwick.   He can help Allen Craig in right field and Jay in center and offers a strong defensive presence.  I have had fun correcting fucknuts all week about the fact that unless we can sell Lohse or Westbrook away, our rotation is set for 2012.  After the season, that 20 million comes off the books.   That is when this team will go first baseman hunting.  I can’t see Berkman lasting past this season.
Wainwright’s return solves any issue in the rotation.   If all goes well, here is the projected win totals of the rotation.
Waino-18
Carp-15
Garcia-14
Westbrook-13
Lohse-14
Estimations and nothing else.

*Jimmy Rollins is a solid shortstop defensively and has some pop offensively but in order to outbid the Phillies, you will have to overpay in dollars and years so no thanks.  If we can get Rollins on a short term 2-3 year deal, I would go for it.  He is an excellent team leader.

*Carlos Beltran isn’t worth the dollars and years to risk against predictable injury.  Beltran is a great talent that is as brittle as glass the past 4 years.  Remember the guy who punished the Cardinals in an Astros uniform and Mets uniform from 2004-2006?  That man is gone, diminished and buried.  Beltran is a liability unless he wants a 2 year deal.  Dan Lozano, Pujols’ agent, represents both these dudes.  He’ll go big after sucking 254 million from SoCal for Alberto.

*Ludwick, Polanco, Skip, Renteria and possibly a guy like Michael Cuddyer are intriguing options.  If Berkman goes back to right field, Mozelaik can sign Casey Kotchman, an excellent first basemen and .300 hitter, to play first base.  There are tons of possibilities.

*Here is one thing I have discovered.  Could the departure of Pujols make things easier on Mike Matheny in his first year as a manager?  Alberto was a clubhouse giant and presence who sucked up most of the attention on a team with great players and personalities.  This wasn’t a bad thing because every team needs a true leader.  However, with Albert gone, Matheny gets more control to take hold of his team and can appoint his own lieutanants.  Think about it.   This Cards team will look extremely different in 2012.  No La Russa stalking the dugout steps and no Pujols at first base.  Scary, cool and surreal because for the last 11-16 years, those two spots have been taken by legends of the game.  Now they could be filled by a manager with zero experience who can’t handle knives and a former Cardinal Killer moving to the infield.  Weird all around but..I like it.

Moving on to other subjects before I wrap it up.  Quick blog fashion being enforced today.

Spagnuolo-A nice guy with a good heart but he has to go.  10-35 record doesn’t speak promise.  It’s a finality.  Think of it as a classroom of kids failing to make the grade for their teacher.  Something needs to change and the coach goes first.   Look at Hitchcock and the Blues.  A new skipper.  Someone tougher than Spags who doesn’t look at them as wounded family members.

Blues-Its hard to argue with a 10-2-3 record in the past month and a half but beating Boudreau’s Ducks Thursday night was another big win.  In a playoff heavy division, every win counts.   T.J. Oshie continues to raise his game to a whole new level and it has been compiled of health and go for broke madness on the ice.  In a season where Andy Mcdonald is out, David Perron is coming back after a 97 game absence, Patrik Berglund is stuck in another mixed bag of a season and Chris Stewart can find the third line faster than the net, Oshie is pushing this young ship in the right direction.  Since the last few games of Payne’s tenure and in the 15 games of Hitchcock’s time, Oshie is leading the team in points.   He scored a goal last night on a nifty wrist shot and netted an empty netter to finish it off but for the past 5 games the kid is unleashing the energy on every shift.  In other news, Halak made some huge saves last night, stopping the ageless Teemu Selanne twice in a 1 goal game and has his GAA back to 2.44.   The play of Brian Elliot and Halak has this team where they are right now.  Before the season started, I said this team depended on good goaltending.  2.5 months later, we are high up in the Western Conference thanks to the stoppers and a new found energy discovered after the 3rd coaching change in the past 5 seasons.

Side Note-24/7 Flyers-Rangers starts this week on HBO.  A thrilling HBO series that chronicles the two teams before their Winter Classic battle on New Year’s day.  A bloody boiling rivalry between two East coast power ships culuminates on cable TV first.  As it does with their boxing series, 24/7 takes viewers inside the players homes and heads.   Clubhouse footage, practice footage and interviews are all part of the process.   Bruce “Fucking” Boudreau rose to his legend here.  That’s where I discovered the guy.   Who comes out of this edition a new legend?

The Descendants is a powerful film about tough love, decisions and finding a healing element through tragedy.   This is also Clooney’s best work since Syriana.  Oscar caliber performance.  He makes it look easy and painful at the same time, playing a man coming to terms with his marriage and trying to decide on a life changing land deal.  This movie reminds you of the important things in life that long go forgotten.  Clooney is Max King, a regular guy with a wife and two kids who seems to be slowly losing his mind.   He lives in Hawaii, has a law practice, and seems to be floating through life when his wife goes into a coma after a water skiing accident.   When he brings his oldest daughter back home for help with the younger girl(he is a “backup parent” being thrusted into a lead role), he finds out his wife was having an affair.  To go with that mental torture, King owns a large piece of land enshrined through his family heritage and will that members of his family are wanting to sale for cash.  All in a matter of a week Max has to deal with this.   The situation sets King and his girls on a journey of self discovery and re-connection.   There are surprises along the way and once again, director Alexander Payne(Election, Sideways) makes an offbeat drama with dark humor undertones slowly stab itself into your soul.  It starts with the acting, especially Clooney, going through a range of emotions that starts with panicked and shocked and flows into free will and quiet rage.  Clooney is a very underrated actor.  A movie star who has quietly been building a resume of juicy roles in Syriana(won an oscar), Goodnight and Good Luck(also wrote and directed, oscar nominated), Michael Clayton, Confessions of A Dangerous mind(also wrote and directed), Out of Sight, Up in the Air and O’ Brother Where Art Thou.   Clooney is a ticking time bomb here as King, pressured by his daughters to find the cheater and trying to make a decision on his family land.  Think about throwing a butter square into a pan and slowly watching it burn up.  That’s Clooney in this role.  You wish to doubt him at first but by his final scene in a hospital room, he peels back your criticism layer by layer before it shatters in one exchange.  You don’t expect Clooney to blow you away here, but he does.

The Random Bits Roll into Play Here as I throw the Black Keys new album, El Camino into the player.   Keep moving with me…

*Two other things about Pujols’ departure that stings.   The fact that my son Vincent won’t get to watch him play for the Cardinals in person.   I looked forward to taking my son to see the player who did everything.   That won’t happen.   Also, Pujols won’t get to break records as a member of the Cardinals. The juicy records.    He will get 3,000 and maybe 4,000 hits.  He will chase 500 and maybe even 600 home runs, especially since he is in the American League park track now.   He will set records, break them and accomplish historical goals in an Angels uniform.  Small things I will miss being a part of.   That’s why we have 2 World Series DVD’s at home for.  Memories never die.

*Dexter had faltered this season before a late twist in the season narrative and plot.  The first time in the 5 plus seasons that the good guy killer seemed to be losing a little speed on its fastball.   Television shows start to pick up a shovel when they retread and recycle old plot devices.   Dexter finds people to kill, hides his identity from his family and friends, talks to his dead dad, realizes there is one very BAD killer out there and destroys him narrowly with collateral damage possible.   That’s the scroll of every season and while it’s wonderfully juicy and interesting, this latest season has hit a snag…until a twist kicked in late and now the season may(big if there) recover.   A season with strong co-stars is dragging slightly but may recover and is supposed to set up the final two seasons as well.   There is one central theme here.  Will Dexter’s identity come full circle and what happens then?  The intrigue plays out and Michael C. Hall remains the main reason to watch this show.  His mixture of rage, guilt and cold blooded ability to erase souls is award worthy.

*The Black Keys new album is simply awesome.  2 times through and there is another batch of blues rock greatness that requires a few listens to fully appreciate.   This is a band that works for its dollars, stays under the radar and only makes trailer reels and commercials months after their album reached earth.   Appreciate what Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney produce here.  After listening to El Camino, I went after one of their old creations, Magic Potion, because I can’t get enough here.  The mixture of wicked electric blues guitar, road weary lyrics and overall production here with Danger Mouse is something to cherish if you love good old school rock.

Key Tracks to Listen to-

Gold on the Ceiling-(the rhythm work here is quite brilliant, real effect of Danger Mouse’s production is felt here, something extra)

http://youtu.be/ogAfoYZJFug

Little Black Submarines-(Wait for the explosion at the 2 minute mark…acoustic into electric…)

“Voices calling me/they get lost/in and out of time/I should of seen the glow/but everybody know/that a broken heart is blind”

http://youtu.be/F20zZKWeXyg

*Daniel Radcliffe is the Entertainer of the Year.  Look I am not Potterhead so I don’t like the series that much but now that the time has come and I can stop seeing the kids hog the cover of magazines everytime a reader farts Potter out into the masses is a good time.   Soon enough, the Twilight bitches will also be finished and we can get real entertainment cover stories back and not a franchise sucking the creative air out of the room.   No offense to little Danny, but fuck off please.  And yes I’ve watched 3 of the films, which equal out to 7.5 hours of my life that I could have back.

*Michael Fassbender playing a sex addict in SHAME is something to watch because you have to be a great actor to convince me being a sex addict is a tortured state of living.   Fassbender is the actor of the moment and for great reason.  He stunned in his portrayal of a young Magneto in X Men First Class and also carried a small role in the wildly confident Inglorious Basterds.  Here he plays the inside out rager who can’t seem to quench his sexual hunger.  Is that enough to see a film about a New Yorker gone mad?  Yes sir.  This is called spin a concept around in circles and throw a game actor into the middle of the madness.

*Sam Bradford has every reason to want to find the football field on Monday night against the Seahawks.  His desire is the one strength he can count on in a misguided bad season.   Bradford has regressed and extinguished plenty of the elite QB talk built up from last year’s arrival onto the scene.   The kid can use a great National spotlight night against a division rival led by Taveris “Im Joe Montana against the Rams” Jackson.   Bradford needs to step up and shine or die a thousand deaths into the offseason.   He is safe but he can make Spags look good for once.

*Memo to Spags.  Unleash the offense.  Let Josh McDaniels do whatever he likes.   At this shallow point, 2-10 and doormat shitty, let it all go!

*Something about Luck intrigues the shit out of me.   The Michael Mann/David Milch production, the teaming of Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, and the excellently gritty looking production about a horse race bookie in Hoffman coming out of prison and getting back into the action.   This series premieres in January, which is called the feeler phase for cable television.

*Do yourself a favor and buy the first season of Justified at Best Buy right now for a low price.   This modern gunslinger western cool series will hook you within an hour.   Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens will reenforce the idea of a man crush and hard worn lawman. This series is so damn good HBO has to be drooling after missing out on this one.  Any show that can survive without the R rated brutality seen on HBO and Showtime and tell a compelling violent story is a diamond in the massive rough.

*Being a father is an everyday pleasure.   Every time I get to hold the kid and spend even a half hour holding him or feeding him, the joy rushes in quick.  The early days are tiring yet highly rewarding, especially when the kid starts to light up the face and becomes a looker.   Vincent is a special kid and I am lucky to be his dad.  If you love kids and want to go on the ride of a lifetime, physically and mentally, have a kid.  Do it.  Be ready for what it entails, but don’t be afraid to explore the right to create.

That’s it.  I’m done.   Walked into the land of open worded explanation and did my part again.  The mind is free to explore.  Enjoy the result.

Goodnight,

Dan Buffa

 

 

 

The Decision Of A Lifetime*greed included*

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 1st Annual Pujols destruction cleanup crew is here.   This isn’t easy to explain so let me take a big swing at this tree…

Albert Pujols made a choice.  Call it a financial obligation, a need to impose his will or a desire to play elsewhere.  Albert Pujols stepped out of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise for the first time since 1999 and is gone.   He took a 10 year, 260 million dollar deal to go to The Los Angeles Angels and officially ended his 11 year run in St. Louis.   After nearly 60 hours of hard to kill negotiations between the Marlins and Cardinals, the Angels flew in with a never look back deal that Pujols accepted.   This leaves me with a ton of feelings, emotions and thoughts, so in no particular order, here are a few bullet rounds on one of the biggest days in Cardinal history.

  • I am disappointed in Albert Pujols because he went back on his word.  His entire career was marked with a “Im not about the money” smoke screen” and today that was proved to be false.  Albert took the 250 million offer over the Cards offer of 220 million.   He took financial comfort over home comfort.  He made a decision that directly impacted his legacy here in St. Louis.  I can’t tell you another person who went from Saint to Sinner faster.  His statue will be full of shit.  People will set his house on fire.  HE will be  cursed for a few months.  His career here won’t go away but his legacy is on fire right now.   I am disappointed that I put my stock in Pujols’ words and got burned but that is the price for touching a hot stove and thinking there’s a soul inside.   This is a business ladies and gents and not a family play.  Pujols left for the dollar and while it sucks and makes me regret defending the guy, there are opportunities out there.
  • I am happy for Albert in a small way.   He got paid the top dollar and if anyone deserves the best deal, Albert does.  It just couldn’t happen here.  Not for 250 million.  Pujols had played here for 11 years and averaged 10 million a season to put up a Hall of Fame career.  He will be the highest paid first basemen in baseball.   Good for him.  Uncertain for the Cardinals.   Albert Pujols got a great deal in LA and its hard to get too worked up here because in the end a sport athlete went for the top dollar.   He didn’t die to play in LA.  He went for the highest dollar.  That is clear as day.
  • I am surprised that Albert Pujols left.  Every sane STL fan knew it would take one monstrous offer to pull Pujols way from St. Louis and the Angels provided the opportunity.  I never got too scared by the Marlins offer because I clearly didn’t think Albert would go to a city depending on real estate revenue and stadium profits in order to pay his salary.  Pujols just looked at the Marlins history of signing a load of free agents and dumping them later in order to say no there.  Once he got denied the no trade clause in Miami, he wasn’t going there.  The Angels worried me last night when they dropped a bomb on the Cards talks.   Around 4pm yesterday, things looked good for the Cards because they were all alone.   Until the Angels showed up.   The mystery team showed up.
  • This provides the Cards with 20-23 million of free money to explore the market with.   An uncertain yet creatively exciting future.   WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET PRINCE FIELDER.  If Dan Lozano got Pujols 10yr/250, Scott Boras will break the bank entirely for Fielder, who is 4 years younger and DH friendly as well.   John Mozelaik has informed the media he will not pursue Fielder.  That was before he bit the bullet of Pujols’ departure, but I doubt the Cards throw a 10 year offer at Prince.  Fielder is a great player but hamstrung by weight issues, a bad set of genes and a future looking at a DH spot.   Instead of blowing 22 million on Prince the Cards can get a shortstop, second basemen and a little extra ammo for right field.  Pujols was the target.   Now that he is gone, the Cards set their sights elsewhere.
  • Here are a few suggestions.  While Hanley Rameriz is intriguing and young, The Marlins don’t really want to deal him and will request a kings ransom in return.  If possible, the Cards need to play small ball here and fill the roster with low key moves.  Fielder, Rameriz, and Pujols are high end expensive talents.  Look around the bush here.  Bring back Rafael Furcal, a defensive expert with a little pop in his bat.  Let Tyler Greene shadow him at short.  Make a trade for former Cardinal Placido Polanco, a hit machine coming off hernia surgery who could play second base for the Cards.   Have Daniel Descalso back him up.   With Lance Berkman moving to first base and Allen Craig on the mend with a knee surgery, sign Ryan Ludwick to a one year incentive based contract.   The biggest scare here is replacing Albert’s production, and while placing Berkman in that spot is comical, the need to spend big in a revenge deal isn’t a smart play.
  • A quote from Boardwalk Empire comes to mind.   Arnold Rothstein tells Nucky Thompson to resist making a quick move when he is indicted on election fraud.   He tells him to stay quiet, go away for a while and resist the urge to go big.  He tells him to do this because there is no play so why press it.  However, when the time comes and the opportunity arises, Rothstein tells him to bet it all.  Every single dollar and penny.  That is what the Cardinals have to do now.  Pujols is gone.  You saved 250 million dollars for the future and can build a team out of Whitey Herzog products mixed with demolition bats.   Cardinal Nation loved Albert Pujols, me included, but the split is official so all this team and the fanbase can do is look forward.
  • Please don’t say you hate Pujols.   The guy made a business decision that didn’t go our way.   He left, went against his word but didn’t break a promise.  What he did was win 2 World Series rings, 3 MVP’s and produce the greatest 11 year career this city has ever seen.  He isn’t Lebron James.  Albert didn’t choke.  He made a choice.  Please don’t forget what he did here.  That would be trivial and a denial based move.   Remember the times you went nuts after a Pujols bomb.  The game winning hits.  The celebratory hits.  The 2 walkoff shots against the Cubs in June.   The 3 home runs against Texas.  The hundreds of big Pujols moments.   This deal has plenty of implications on this team.   The one thing that can’t happen is a hatred for Albert.  No need to burn his jersey or destroy his statue.  He brought this town magic for 11 seasons.   Don’t be a child about it.
  • John Mozelaik has nothing to be ashamed about.  He made a quality offer and didn’t get suckered into a crazy deal that strung his team out on one player.  Look, I supported the need to resign Albert and even approved of the 10 year offer but that doesn’t mean I think it’s entirely logical.  10 years is a long time to hope for a player to produce past the age of 30.   Mozelaik left The Winter Meetings without comment and I wonder why.  He made a good offer.  If it was 9 years at 22 million a season, I am cool with that.  It’s a good offer.  Mo and Bill DeWitt Jr. didn’t budge here and fall prey to Pujols and his agent.  Once again, Mozelaik was the smarter GM and declined the need to stretch his own limits.
  • This does place the team in an uncertain place because who does the team belong to?  Matt Holliday is the main guy now when it comes to image, stats and salary but he can’t replace Albert Pujols.  Lance Berkman isn’t a project anymore.  David Freese’s health comes into question.  The empty spots at shortstop and second base loom large.  Yadi Molina has a 7 million dollar option for 2012 and has nothing beyond.  Jon Jay commands center field now.  Without Albert Pujols, there is a missing presence and source of production on this team.   This will make for a creative offseason where this team has to find its way back home again.   This team changed a lot in the past 2 hours so I am anxious to see how it all plays out.
  • Peter Gammons of ESPN said something interesting on Monday at the beginning of the Winter Meetings.   His theory about the Cardinals mindset and reluctance to throw an offer at Albert right away came from the basis that an era could be ending.  When they won the World Series and Tony La Russa retired, this was the time to possibly start over without Pujols.   This will be a big moment for John Mozelaik.  Seeing how he deals with the first technical loss of his time as general manager.   To me, it’s not a loss but a gain in millions.  Mozelaik can’t think he lost here.  He made a smart move to resist the urge to dive into a black hole after Albert.  Now he has to learn to live with it.  Gammons had a point but hopefully  Mozelaik gets it.  This is his team now.  The Era is ending now.  La Russa is gone.  Pujols is gone.  Mo hired his own manager and has full rein.  He is looking at a roster full of players he put on this team.   For the first time in his career here, Mozelaik has his own team.
  • What was my instant reaction?  Like I was punched in the stomach.  Folks, I will be honest with you and tell you I wanted Pujols back and was willing to see the Cards and season ticket holders pay the price.  Losing him won’t be easy.  I wanted my kid to watch him play.  Tell him stories about Pujols’ greatness.   And yes my friends, Albert Pujols is full of greatness whether he is in a Cards uniform or an Angels uniform.  My reaction was sorrow, disappointment, relief and ultimately, a fair mixture of shame and gratitude towards Pujols.   He left but he didn’t personally smack the Cardinals.  He made a choice, so the hell with it.   The best thing about baseball is that with or without a franchise player, there will be baseball.  The Cardinals will take the field in April to defend their 11th World Series championship.  Albert Pujols joins the Angels gunning for their first in decades.
  • Let me refresh your memory on what he did here.  Pujols is a three-time National League Most Valuable Player and a 10-time All-Star. He’s a lifetime .328 hitter with a .420 on-base percentage, a .617 slugging percentage, 445 home runs and 1,329 RBIs. He has won two Gold Glove Awards and six Silver Sluggers, and even won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2008.   Let’s not forget what he accomplished here in his time.  Foolish ones forget his dent.
  • Think of it this way.  It was a business transaction.  In the end, more than just money.  Albert gets money, a new league, a quality team, new challenges and a wide open future.   He may of wanted it the entire time.  Who knows?  I am covering, discussing, breathing out and releasing here.   This is my way of dealing with it.  Writing.  Coming to every resolution.  This is therapeutic.  What I don’t like are the non Cards fans coming out of the woodwork to comment on or slam the true die hard Cards fans getting over the loss of a franchise great.   It’s easy for the slow half wits to throw a smack on this news because it suits their interests. If anyone gets to call Albert Pujols a lying greedy bastard, its me, the guy who sweats red bullets over every game, not a fantasy hack who checks the box score every morning.
  • How do I really feel about it?  Mad at the outcome, disappointed in Albert and relieved its over.   Its a business deal but Albert needs to save the GOD preaching and be quiet about his intentions and what he holds in the highest regard.   Save me the “I just want to win, that’s all, I don’t care about personal statistics” speech.  Albert Pujols indeed ran for the bigger paycheck.   There’s no getting around that.   I am disappointed in the outcome because Albert Pujols went against everything he had built himself up to be.   Today, we found out Albert Pujols was human, not a savior, and just another great baseball player trying to get the highest dollar.  When the Marlins bowed out last night, the Cards seemed to be in prime position to give Pujols a long long term deal.   Instead, the Angels came in with a bigger paycheck.   Unfortunate business transaction.
  • Save me the philanthropic excuse here.  Pujols does a ton of charity work in the area and builds hospitals in his native Dominican Republic during the offseason, but that doesn’t mean he had to take 250 million over 200 million.   I can’t and won’t feel sorry for Pujols here in the regard that he HAD to go after the highest dollar.  He had a choice and he went the hard route.  A place with the most pressure.  As Denis Leary once joked about millionaire athletes, what is Pujols feeding his kids?  Mercedes Benz vehicles each night.   The one game I won’t play is the sensitive game here.  Pujols got greedy and went big here.  He had an obligation to secure the biggest deal and finished the deal and left town.  He leaves charity work, a restaurant, couple homes, thousands of memories and a legacy that will be hard to beat.  Everybody has picked a side in this fight.  I am in the middle.  I feel both the flames.  Bittersweet and nasty.  That’s the news.   Newspapers wouldn’t want me right now.  I’d be too nasty, unpredictable, fiery, unplugged and straight up mean.

Is that it?  I don’t have much more to say here but let me try.  What else is there to say?

The Cardinals fought a good fight and lost.  In losing, they gained 200 million to spend over the next 10 years.   After the 2012 season, when Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse come off the books, there will be 20 million more to spend on a potential first basemen on the market if Lance Berkman fades according to schedule.  The Cards will spend 11 million on first base and not 22 million.   They will save cash at third base, center field, right field, and second base.   The rotation makes 44 million but its stocked and ready to go.  The bullpen is a Memphis product machine.  Mike Matheny gets a fresh start as manager with a new staff and no Albert Pujols to take his best swing with.   I feel hurt that I defended Pujols’ word for years personally and got burned today when he chased the Washington’s out to Southern California. 

You can’t tell me with a straight face that Albert wasn’t greed here.  I have no problem with him chasing the best offer. I have a problem with him going back on his popular word.   Integrity is key here.   Albert Pujols left that at home this morning.

The Summary of Events-The Meanings behind the Blaze

As Richard Justice writes on MLB.com, The Cardinals are still the team to beat in the NL even without Albert Pujols.   They were doing this before he got there and will continue to do it. The one upside here is that the Cards have 16 million-22 million dollars a year to play with the next 10 years.   They have money coming off the books after 2012 season completes.   They have Adam Wainwright back in the rotation.   The Brewers will most likely be without Prince Fielder and appear weaker.  The Reds and Pirates have been silent.  The Cubs are fading fast on options.  

-The Cards got away from tying themselves to Pujols for 10 seasons, when he would finish at 41 years of age.   Whether I like it or not, the numbers don’t show a good production in the 8th,9th and 10th years there.   I approved of the commitment the past year but I never truly agreed it was a solid business decision.  Yesterday, I was thinking to myself that I would have to load up my guns to defend Albert when he started declining.   In theory, the Cards would be better off strapping themselves to a bomb.   You can’t replace Albert Pujols in the lineup, but you really can’t replace him in 2019.    This could have(big guess) ended badly on our part.   Thats why John Mozelaik should feel good right now.  He gave it his best try, got denied but has funds to work with in building his own team. 

-I wouldn’t be against offering Prince Fielder a contract even though its not realistic.   He’s young, exciting, full of power and an energetic young player.   He would fit in nicely at Busch, where he won a home run derby in 2009.  This isn’t realistic or smart because his agent Scott Boras will ask for the house after Pujols got his money.   Those two are linked in their going rate for salary.   Mark Teixera got 22 million over 8.   Ryan Howard got 25 million over 5.   Albert Pujols got 25 over 10 years.  Prince Fielder is the youngest of the group and offers a DH probability to AL team.  I’d love for the Cards to give him an offer, but the team Prince will go to are the Rangers.   They have to respond to the Pujols move and they will get into the Fielder sweepstakes.

Instead, Mozelaik plays small ball, waits his turn, holds and pounces when the opportunity strikes.   This team can contend with any team in the National League.   The Phillies are weakened without Howard and Rollins.  The Marlins don’t have starting pitching past Josh Johnson.  The Braves couldn’t hold up in 2011.  The Cardinals will make a statement in 2012.  A year after they won the World Series without Wainwright, they will attempt to do it again without Albert Pujols.

It’s a new dawn, its a new day and while I am not feeling satisfied or good, I am interested and curious in the future of this team.  They aren’t dead yet.

To be continued when I find some whiskey.   Thanks for reading.   Here’s the Justice article for the people needing a bag to breathe into. 

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111208&content_id=26128588&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

The End.

I won’t expect this to change your mind folks.  Just free mine for a little while.  It’s getting loud up there.  Hopefully this quiets it down.

Sincerely with no regrets,

Dan L. Buffa

Cardinals fans,we will be fine.   I think….