Month: December 2011

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

  • 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.

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,



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.

*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.

*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 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

  • 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.


*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… 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.


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


*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:

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  “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.
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)

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”

*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.


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, 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.

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….


The Weekly Shot Glass

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place… and I don´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But ain’t about how hard you hit… It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you worth, go out and get what you worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying: You ain´t what you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain´t you! You´re better than that!” -Rocky Balboa

Good evening ladies and gents,

A stream of conciousness if you will on a cold week night with the first hint of winter falling to the ground in the form of snow flakes.   There are two signs winter is on the doorstep.   Decent cold air and snow falling.   If you are an athlete and participate in fitness opportunities, the cold air can cut you in half, because you take deep breaths outside and have to survive the cold air if you are to maintain a routine.  One that includes right now a boring snoozy opening monologue like this.   All of a sudden, this is Rosie O’Donnell’s fat ass yelling about adoption, lesbian love affairs and her need to be the white Oprah.   In my opinion, day time talk shows suck big time.  Moving on.  This rant was written over the course of three days, so respect the storytelling process.

The topic of the day is Albert Pujols and the Winter Meetings.(12-5-2011, 2pm)   The Cardinals GM John Mozelaik landed in Washington today for the meetings and will be there until the end of the week, where he hopes to find out where Pujols and his people stand and what are the chances of him returning.   This will be the topic of the hour until he signs a contract.    What has to happen here is a compromise of sorts.  The Cards need to figure out what their future shows and design an offer from that model and Pujols has to accept or reject their idea.   If Pujols wants years, the Cards will come down in yearly wages.  If the years are less, the annual dollar will rise.   Somewhere along this line, the two sides have to meet.   As DeWitt and a million other people will say, The Cards are a lot better team WITH Albert Pujols than without.   That can hold true for the next 4-5 years and maybe even a 6th.   Its hard to bet against Albert’s production.   People consider last season an off year and forget Albert’s amazing second half and the fact he compiled those stats while missing 16 games.   Rearrange your thoughts there until you look at the stats.   Bernie Miklasz wrote a fine column in Sunday’s Post about the ideal ending for both parties and I happen to agree.  I will post the link after the section but here are a few random excerpts from the column followed by my position.

Miklasz-“What could possibly get in the way?(of a deal getting made) One word:ego”

My take-I agree here.  The ego’s of Mozelaik, DeWitt, Pujols and Lozano’s clash here and there is no way around it.  If they can be maintained, a result can take shape.

Miklasz-“If the Cardinals are entrenched and resistant to being flexible on a Pujols Contract, then they’ll increase the risk of losing him.”

My Take-Basically, if the Cards fail to improve their January offer whether in yearly salary or an adjustment of the years, they run the risk of losing Pujols.   I agree and disagree with this.  9 years is a more than sufficient amount but 21 million is low for an annual salary.  However, if Pujols wants a long term deal, he has to take a lower annual average to loosen the liability or pay more money up front and slowly come down as the years reach 8 and 9.

Miklasz-“Pujols has frequently said he wants to be like Stan Musial, who spent his entire Hall of Fame career here.   By staking out that admirable position, Pujols risks being exposed as a fraud if he bolts town for the highest offer.”

My Take-Absolutely agree here.  Albert is a man who has constantly preached the need to be like Stan, put winning first, and finish in one uniform.  If he runs off to the Rangers for more million rather than stay here, where’s the promise exist then?   Words are only words, but with Albert you get the feeling they were more.

Miklasz-This is what it comes down to.  The length of contract.”

My Take-I agree here.   The Cards would be more than willing to pay Albert 28 million for lesser years.   However, if he wants a career sealing deal, my feeling is the Cards want him to meet them in the middle on years.   The Cards want protection and so does Albert.

Miklasz-The Cards obviously don’t want to get stuck paying an aging broken down player 25 million a year when he is 38,39, and 40.   If a long term deal goes sour, it limits their ability to put a good product on the field. But isn’t Pujols the same guy who tells us winning is everything.   If that’s the case, surely Pujols can grasp the potential consequences of clogging the payroll with an enormous salary.”

My Take-This is a popular take and its understandable.  This is the bread and butter of the dispute.  Albert wants to win and has said so 3500 times in his 11 years here.  He MUST know if the Cards have a chance to field a playoff team, he can’t make 30 million for 8-10 years.   The answer is clearly no.   Why would Albert consider signing with Miami, who have signed Heath Bell and Jose Reyes but lack the starting pitching to challenge the Braves and Phillies.   Why would  he consider going to Chicago, where depression takes over?  If winning is the optimal goal, why jet from a franchise where you have the best chance to win?

Miklasz-The Cardinals are subject to the same scrutiny.  If they are sincere in their desire to maintain a winning tradition after the retirement of La Russa, they’ll need Pujols in the lineup.”

My Take-If Mike Matheny is going to have a chance, Pujols will need to stick around and guide the ship.   Take Pujols out of the clubhouse and lineup and away from first base and this team is weaker defensively, weaker in clutch moments and their personality takes a huge hit.   People say they are okay with Pujols walking away and they forget about his yearly average of 38 HR, 110 RBI, .310 batting average to go along with gold glove defense and a strong baserunning aggression.   Do you really want to deprieve Matheny of the greatness of Pujols?

Miklasz-This isn’t easy, trying to determine whats fair.   The Cards have received 11 years of excellence from Pujols at a bargain rate.   He’s average about 10 million in salary over his career. 

My Take- He makes as much as Lohse to be great.   The Cardinals hesitant approach to Albert through his career has paid off HANDSOMELY for this franchise.  Is a long term deal for the king so absurd?  I think not.

Miklasz’s compromise is the same as mine.   The Cards raise the annual salary and Albert agrees to less years to limit the liability.  The Cards aren’t the Yankees and can’t give Albert the A-Rod treatment(10 yrs, 275 million), which is an incredible amount of bullshit.   Pujols understands that right.   The Cards understand the caliber of player Pujols is, so they know they have to improve on their January offer.  Trim it down to 6-7 years and average 24 million a season.  My proposed deal has always been 5-6 years at 26-28 million per season.  Albert gets to be paid as the elite athlete in baseball(a label he deserves whether he wants it or not), and the Cards don’t hand him 3-4 extra years of unknown production.   If Albert is a beast at 36, the end of a 5 year contract, sign him for 3 more seasons.   Compromise takes shape here.   Two sides come together as one on a hot topic.  Pujols wouldn’t get the years he wanted but the Cardinals would pay a higher salary than they wanted to.   In the end, Pujols gets to stay comfy and The Cards retain their franchise player.  Everybody wins.

If Albert keeps his word when he says winning is everything, a good product around him is vital and doing it just like Stan are true, he would take this deal.   The Cards, though, have to offer him something this week at the Winter Meetings.  How much time can they waste allowing other teams to sway their slugger?   Offer him something and make sure it respects his status as the best.  Everybody can worry about his production in 2016-2018 but the fact of the matter is every team overspends in a long term deal.   Your idea does make each side happy because in the end Albert makes this team 35-45 million per season in revenue and merchandise.   However, if this deal doesn’t work, go for a shorter deal that makes him the highest paid player but limits the long term liability.  Give him 5-6 years at 28 million the first 3 years, where the Cards don’t need much reinforcements around him.   The final 3 he gets 20 million.   Albert gets paid and the Cards don’t overextend themselves.   In the end, it will come down to both sides finding a compromise and putting their egos aside.   I’d fire Lozano if he pulls a Boras and tries to be bigger than his client.  A-Rod fired Boras and worked out his own extension with New York.  Albert can do the same thing.  Tell Lozano to sit a few plays out and go suck a dick.  Pujols doesn’t need an agent because his performance names the price and sets the deal.  He can go up to Mo and tell him to wrap this up.  No suits required.   I question if Lozano is looking out more for himself than Albert.  That’s not an agent’s job.   If Lozano doesn’t cut it, Albert needs to hire this guy……click on link to find out…’
In the end, both sides would be stupid to break up this marriage that’s included 110 million over 8 years and 2 World Series to go with 3 MVPs and possibly the greatest player in Cardinal history.   Pujols can taste Florida all he wants but in the end the BEST spot for him financially and competitively is St. Louis.  Hire Gold.  Get it done.

Albert Pujols to Miami???(12-6-2011, 11am)

Do I really think Albert is going to Florida?  Last month, no way.  Last night, the chances grew.   Miami will contend in 2012.   Ryan Howard is missing half the season and Jimmy Rollins and Roy Oswalt are bolting to free agency, so the Marlins will compete.  The acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell increase the competitive drive.  Owner Jeffrey Loria has a new stadium and a bank of cash.  It worries me slightly that Albert is getting repeated intention from an owner trying to rebuild a fan base,  and I can see it happening.

However, the Cards have to make an offer.  QUICK.   Why wait for the whole market to take shape?  Present a new offer and get the ball rolling so Albert knows whats waiting for him.  You can see the angle from both sides and understand each position.  The Cards have to respect their future, Pujols’ future and the pursuit of the Marlins.   I have never been a fan of the 10 year deal, but that may be the need.  Reports from Buster Olney have the issue in January between STL and Albert being annual salary and not years.   This is the problem with watching these negotiations.  You are stuck listening to others and various sources leak out information that may or may not be true.   This is the life of a fan.   Follow, wait and prepare.   I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins were able to snag Pujols, but I obviously don’t want that to happen.

If the Marlins sign Albert Pujols for 10 years at 22-25 million per season, I wouldn’t be surprised but I would be shocked Pujols is willing to leave St. Louis for a little more money at this point in his career.  The BEST fit for him, personally, competitively and career wise is to stay with the Cardinals.  If he moves to Florida and he suffers through a bad season or the Marlins struggle, the backlash will fall on him and not Reyes/Bell.   Albert is the star of the group and will receive the most pressure.  If he wants that kind of pressure, so be it.  THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT BUT WATCH AND CRITIQUE.

Moving onto other topics before I return to The Pujols talks later.

The Blues Slow Down over the Weekend/Regroup on Tuesday

The Blues Rant….starts now-

After going 8-1-2 under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues lost two over the weekend and slowed the gravy train down a little.   The main things haunting this team throughout their improved style of play is a horrible record on the power play.  The Blues rank last in power play efficiency and they are supremely struggling with clearing their own zone when the other team sets up shop.   It doesn’t matter which goalie is back there.  If the shots keep coming and there is no clearing, the puck will eventually go in.    Simple science.   On Friday and Saturday, several Colarado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks shot flurries lasted longer than required and goals found the net.   The Avalanche had 5 men cycling the puck and put repeated shots on net until Halak missed a screen shot.   It’s easy to blame Halak(I did), but watching Elliot struggle with the same issues on Saturday, one noticed the Blues unhealthy trends are still alive.   Saturday’s loss was the first legit(loss by more a goal) beating of Hitchcock’s tenure here.   The Blues are now 8-2-3 under him, which looks great on paper but when figured up in reality mode, its 8-5.   The wheels aren’t off the track here but the Blues have to improve in areas or they will fall into the usual New Year regression.   Something has changed under Hitch, but old styles of play aren’t easy to kill.    Hitch said himself that they are facing opponents for the second time now and next up is Detroit.  The one bright shining light on Saturday was the return of David Perron from a 97 game absence due to post concussion syndrome.   Perron wasted little time getting back into the swing of things, scoring his first goal and logging 19 minutes.    Perron is a stylistic forward with uncanning speed and ability to create plays and he will help a sour power play and also breathe life into a dead zone on this team called the shootout.   The Blues have lost 3 games on shootouts in the past three weeks and they come on lousy shots with no creativity.  It doesn’t take a master to present the idea of getting the puck up towards a top slot than try to put it between the goalie’s legs.   Improve in power play, shootout and zone defense and the Blues will ride high for a while.   Brian Elliot was eventually going to stumble and allow some goals.  His career numbers don’t back up a 10-2 record with a 1.80 GAA.  He is playing above his ceiling this season and it won’t stick.   If the Blues are smart, they would still look to shop Berglund/Oshie while they carry value, wait for Andy McDonald to return and ship his 5 million out of town and also consider moving Barrett Jackman since there is a surplus of defensemen in the system.   Also, don’t rule out Brian Elliot because while it would be hated by fans, Elliot holds a high value at the moment with his play in net.   His career swing stats suggest a far worse stopper.  This news shouldn’t sour Halak’s hard on fans.   If they love him so much, would it be painful to see our 4 million dollar netminder become the vocal point again?  I think not.   The Blues are an entertaining group as always.   They play energetic physical hockey and are finishing games.   How high does their talent ceiling reach?   If they don’t correct a critical area like power play goals, they can’t expect to compete in April.   Their power play is wretched but they manage to pull off wins lately with solid goaltending.  If that falters, watch out.  That’s why you look for a trade, untie some young mixed up talent, make a deal for a true scorer like Bobby Ryan or Jarome Iginla and get this team some offense.    You can’t keep winning 2-1 games.  The Blues are almost there.

Update-The Blues beat Detroit 3-2 at Scottrade to improve to 9-2-3 under Hitchcock and stay right behind the Red Wings in the Central.   The zig zag nature continues.

The Rams Suck.  Plain and simple.   Any explanation for their 26-0 thumping at the hands of the NFC West Division Champs  San Francisco 49ers is futile.   They aren’t worth a conversation.   The news here is still the same.  Spags needs to be fired.   The Rams need to start the rebuilding process in the coaching department and front office as soon as they can.   I’ve said it for weeks.  When does enough become enough on the sidelines?  How many more Spags crouches with his head in his hands displays do we need?  The man is out of clues, ideas and lost with this bunch of floaters.   It isn’t all his fault but he is the first one that has to fall.   Get it done.  I don’t care how mad owner Stan Kroneke got about the shutout loss(unheard of in football but not in St. Louis).  It doesn’t matter unless he does something about it.  I can sit here and get mad about it.  Then I get on with my night.   Stan has a huge investment here that will start going south unless he cuts the head off the snake, cuts players, brings in talent and fuels the car here.   Put Steven Jackson on the trade block because while he is playing well in a bad offense, the team isn’t winning with him at running back.   Move him for a package.   If Jackson leaves, the HEAT goes way up on Sam Bradford, which is appropriate.   Offensive line help or not, Bradford needs to return and play better to restore faith in the fan base that he is the man for the job.  Kurt Warner he is not.   The man isn’t even close to Marc Bulger as far as efficiency in his first 2 seasons.   It was different back then with Martz/Bruce/Holt, but Bradford couldn’t hit them with a beach ball right now.   This offense is horrible.   They accumulated 9 yards on 4 series yesterday in the second half.  By the way, AJ Feeley stepped behind center yesterday and failed miserably.  He threw an interception, fumbled and didn’t make anything happen.   Feeley is a horrible QB and doesn’t deserve his 3.5 million.  The Rams would be fit to let a bartender go behind center next week in Seattle.  At least he would be able to make a drink for the coaching staff after the game.   At this point, sitting at 2-10, it’s only a matter of time before Stan Kroneke blows up the front office.  When will it happen?

On the other hand…how about Tim Tebow ladies and gents?   When your home team is in the dumps, you turn to a player you admire, an underdog, a player who has only stepped in for a 1-4 team and picked them up and turned their season around into a 7-5 dream.   Tebow did it again on Sunday, coming from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road, 35-32.   On a day when the defense was without star linebacker Von Miller and they were getting shredded by Christian Ponder and not Adrian Petersen, Tebow stepped up and matched the Vikings offense bang for bang in the second half.  He threw for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns.   He set up the game tying field goal drive to knot it at 32 before Ponder threw a INT that led to the Broncos’ game winning field goal as time expired.   Tebow is a 4th quarter warrior and I am not surprised.   I knew this kid was good back in college.   He was different.   Ambitious.   Crazy.   Most of all, Tebow is unbreakable.  The man’s own head coach and President didn’t want him to succeed and couldn’t call him the answer.  Now Elway and coach John Fox are saying all the right things.  They are the benefactors of Tebow’s sudden greatness.    He has never stopped making plays.  He is the most exciting player in football right now because he has the unique ability to make his best play at the most crucial hour.   Anybody miss Kyle Orton right now in Denver or crying for Brady Quinn?  The answer is no.  Tim Tebow is the answer and the supporters/detractors will take the predictable steps.  Supporters will preach their initial opinion now that its valid(my work) and detractors will keep throwing punches at his image or attack his faith.   I don’t believe in GOD, but I do believe in Tim Tebow.   The kid is defying all odds and is leading the Broncos towards the playoffs.

Updated Thought on Pujols/Cards/Marlins-As the Marlins brass goes into the war room and the Cards set up to counter, here is a fresh take.  

(12-6-11, 2pm)If Pujols takes the 10 year 220 million dollar deal, how is he seen as demonic if he turned down a 9 year 200 million dollar deal in January?  Very similiar offers and he takes the Miami one.  That would be unfortunate but I can’t get too mad at either side.   Both sides are obligated here.   They dont have to keep a marriage going.  The Cardinals have the right to not tie up 22 million on one player for the next 10 years.  Pujols has the right to choose where he plays.  I can say he wants to be Stan and win, but that all goes out the window because this is a business and not a charity foundation cover.   It comes down to choice….on both sides.  Pujols picking a deal and The Cards choosing to match or stay away.   I can’t tell you how this will end.  The Marlins have definitely made things very interesting with their 5 day rennassiance mission.    Bell, Reyes and now maybe Pujols. Watch out NL East.  Pujols will have a chance to win there so don’t discount his statement.   The Marlins have a history of doing this.   They have won 2 world series in their 18 year existence.  The Cardinals have won 2 in their past 29 years of play.    With Howard down/Rollins and Oswalt out and the Braves the only threat,watch out for Miami if they get ALbert.

Of course I want it to fall the Cards way, no matter the price but that’s my stance the entire time.   I have said since last November it comes down to Albert making a call.  That holds true today and for the short term future.  I think Albert is more likely to regret a long term cash/challenge chase down to Miami and less likely to regret staying here to cement his legendary status here.  What does he want?   Iconic status here or a renegade expert there.     The Lebron comparisons lack weight because Pujols brought STL 2 rings, unlike the newly crowned Choker.   It comes down to what comfort level Albert wants.   Staying here allows him to decline on his own terms.   If he goes to Miami and flunks, he is in for a rude awakening because Loria can place the blame on him and not Reyes and Bell.  Albert is a savior and he knows it if he goes down there that the results fall on his shoulders.

J.Edgar Review

A bland dissatisfying Clint Eastwood epic about J. Edgar Hoover, the mysterious lawman who brought the FBI together and became the biggest anti-hero in the world for his risky decision making, political power play and ruthless attitude.  Leo DiCaprio gives a by the books performance, looking like an actor playing a part for the first time in years instead of an actor disappearing into a role.  J.Edgar had talent attached but felt distant with its main character, underwhelmed overall and 72 hours later, I’m finding it quite forgettable. It didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know about Hoover.  Dustin Lance Black’s script hints at his sexuality but never does it confirm it.   The movie moves around in the timeline of events, going from his early days to his final days in office.   The result is a film with the pace of a snail and the moral code of a boring historian.  There is little to like here and more to admire but in the end, J.Edgar isn’t a good time at the movies.

Miguel Cotto Gets his Revenge and Destroys Antonio Margarito

On Saturday night, Cotto got valid retribution and delivered cold hard sweet revenge to Antonio Margarito, pounding him for 9 rounds before the ref, ring doctors and eye specialists ended the fight due to Margarito’s right eye swelling up completely.   Cotto won a lopsided fight that most likely ended Margarito’s career and brought clarity to any boxing fan needing to know if he is dirty or not.  Since he was caught with illegal hand wraps in 2009 against Shane Mosley, Margarito hasn’t been the same fighter.  Cotto pounded him into submission and left little to wonder about.  Cotto controlled the pace, stepped in and fired wicked combination’s, spinning away and coming in to land 3-4 more punches.  He landed 83 punches to Margarito’s restructured right eye.  By outboxing Margarito, Cotto pummeled him.  Now that he has taken care of Margarito, Cotto can move on and seek other challenges and leave the river of doubt by itself.  In the end, Margarito was a cheat and Cotto was the proper champion.  Each man is going down an opposite path now.  Margarito had every opportunity to earn the respect and prove to people he is a rightful victor, but Cotto refused him the opportunity by battering his right eye and swelling up his face.   Poetic Justice carries a sweet/bitter taste.  Cotto reached both ends and came out a proud champion.

Pujols Saga Continued-

*In a day of deals and talks that have felt like a marathon through Europe, Albert Pujols has a decision to make.   According to sources local and in Miami(all speculation at this point), Albert has a pair of 10 year 200 million dollar plus offers on the table.   The Miami Marlins offered Albert 10 years between 200-220 million, and Albert pays less taxes in Miami but doesn’t get a no trade clause.   This is something Albert has with the Cardinals, since he has 10/5 status(1o yrs in MLB, 5 with one team).  The Cardinals have put forth an offer of 10 years in the same price range.   There are tons of factors folks but in the end its a decision.   I firmly believe the Cardinals did everything they could here to sway Pujols back home.   They gave him money, years and security after he is retired.  If he chooses to go to Miami, he is giving up a lot in St. Louis that has nothing to do with money.  Albert has built a life here in 11 years and for a minute lets think outside of speculation.   Lets ask ourselves a question but first place markers down.  Pujols has every right to choose where his next 10 years take him but how much money and security does it take to have him leave the Cards.  There are ideas that the Cards refusal to deal with a new contract until Miami came along would frustrate Albert and those are true.   Does Albert want a challenge?  That being said, doesn’t he have a big enough challenge in St. Louis?  What is Albert chasing down to Miami?  The media game is a theater show few like to play(a good friend of mine is staying out), but in the end it comes down to business making and personal choice.  Albert needs to talk to his family, turn off his cell phone and think about this.  Does he want to break up a marriage that has produced 11 seasons, 3 MVPs, 2 World Series and tons of money in order to start fresh in Miami at the age of 31?   My feelings are still strong that Albert faces less pressure in St. Louis than Miami.   If he does decline somewhat, the noise will be louder in South Beach.

*(12-7-2011, 10am)Is it smart to give any player a 10 year deal?  NO.  However, if any player deserves it, Albert Pujols does.   He has proven to be remarkably healthy and consistent over 11 years.  His 2011 season minus 19 games supplies the notion he hasn’t slowed down much.   The Cards have every right to say they aren’t handing a player 10 years at 30 years of age or more.  Each side has an obligation to not step outside their moral and financial boundaries.   Many STL fans are mad at giving him 10 years.   My question is folks…do you want to pull the 10 year offer and let him walk to Miami?  That’s the Cardinals dilemma.  I am sure they are lining up the future right now.    If Albert leaves, who plays first base after 2012?   If Berkman plays first base, who moves into right field?  Allen Craig just had knee surgery, so he may not start the season.   Can Craig produce the same numbers with 550 at bats?   If Craig plays right, who warms up the bench for late innings?  Can the Cardinals trade/sign a shortstop?   Which one?  If Albert leaves, Matt Holliday is the guy and can he stay healthy or was 2011 a sign of things to come?  Is this team better without Albert for the next 10 years or worse?  Answer that and you have reached peace.

*Let’s play in an imaginary world where the Cards and Marlins both offered 10 yrs at around 22 million per season?  If you are Albert Pujols, where do you go?  Consider all the factors.   Loyalty, home base, single team career icon status and plenty of cash to justify your professional drive in St. Louis.  A new opportunity, potential dream team, and a challenge in Miami.   Everyone knows the Cards will compete in 2012 and beyond.  How sure are they on Miami?  See my point.  Albert Pujols would be stupid or a little crazy to leave St. Louis for a few more million and without a no trade clause in Miami.   That’s my opinion.   Albert would have to look me in the eye and tell me why he is leaving.   Sad over St. Louis contract talks….get over it because you’re a big boy.   One hopes his wife tells him to cut the bullshit and sign in St. Louis.    Somebody needs to step in here.  More to come.  I imagine this will be finished in the next 8-10 hours.

Margin Call Revisited

A Below the Radar Oscar candidate.  One of the best of the year.  Margin Call was a painfully disturbing film that hung around inside your head for days.   The cast was uniformly excellent, especially Stanley Tucci, who only had 3 scenes but nailed each one.   His rant about the number of years he saved in peoples lives by building a large bridge was legendary and must of flattened the crew on set that day.   Spacey, Irons, Bettany, Quinto and Baker are all very good.  This film doesn’t pick a side on the financial crisis.  It just paints the walls with the blood shed that day mentally and physically.   This script and direction plays like a David Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross 2 for example.   Powerful piece of movie magic that expertly combines star power and gritty storytelling.   There was no one party to blame that day, so why point a finger.   Irons chief of the firm coming in and telling Spacey’s soldier on the front line, “This has been happening since the beginning of civilization.  We overextend ourselves, regroup and keep on spending.   Its the way of the land.”   I am definitely watching this again and a third time just to soak in the magic.   This is a film that reminds you how important original ideas are in Hollywood.  Fuck 3D and a remake.  Give me a story with blood hanging from the page.

NFC Feelings

If there is any quarterback that can take down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, its Drew Brees and his mighty Saints.   The first game of the season featured a 42-34 Packers-Saints pointfest where each quarterback threw 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and over 300 yards.   The defenses battled during that game.  Next time around, the game will most certainly take place in Green Bay in the cold tundra of Lambeau Field.   Brees has the weapons, talent and consistency to take down Green Bay and is the only team that can possibly knock off the Unbeaten Rodgers train.   This would make for an explosive game and a worthy rematch.

The Black Keys New Album, El Camino

The great blues rock band The Black Keys, comprised of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, return this week with a new collection of charging garage rock tunes that also qualify as old school funky cool music.   These two guys are as simple as musicians can get and frame their music and world in the same format.   Two men, a drum set and a guitar, hitting the road.  The album cover features a broken down old Chrysler van, which they went on their first tour inside.  The title refers not to a car but to a Spanish phrase known as “the road”.   The Black Keys enjoyed a blast to stardom similiar to the Kings of Leon with their last release, Brothers, in 2009.   That was one of the best albums I have ever listened to.  Full, tight, zero skipping, and full of wonders every time you took a trip through the playlist.   This release promises to be more of the same yet carry a hard rock feel.  To me, the Black Keys are walking the contrary route as musicians.  Instead of releasing a radio friendly safe album, they are going with their original arsenal and tool kit.   Stick with what you do best gents.   Look forward to a album review of this in the coming weeks.  It will get repeated turns at home, in the car and in any location with a CD player.

Rocky 6 Speech-Link of the Week(spoiler alert)

First thing, Rocky 6 ended the series perfectly.  After a punch drunk 5th film in the series with Tommy Morrison as his nemesis, Rocky 6 started clean back in a cemetery in Philly with Rocky next to Adrian’s grave.   With the death of Adrian, Sly Stallone reset the series and breathed fresh air into it.  He faced a real life boxer in an exhibition bout in the final installment, but it was more about Rocky reconnecting with his son and getting past the death of his wife.   Here is a great scene between Rocky and his kid, where he has to teach the younger man how success is found in life and where you get the inner strength to do the little things.   Its a hall of fame scene that gets lost because critics forget about these scenes in decent series ending films.   To me, this is an inspiration and can lift anyone up on any given day.

Sons of Anarchy Finale Hype

“It’s like war, isn’t it?  Easy to get into.  Hell to get out of.”-The Wire

If this FX gem promises anything in this week’s Season 4 finale, its that the ride to the top of a criminal biker club involves blood, death and consequences and that the escape from such power isn’t easy to untangle yourself from.   Here is a show that carries more balls than most cable programming.   The story of the Sons of Anarchy, a biker club in California going through power issues this season, coming to a head in the finale with the young Jax facing off against the leader, Clay.   Jax has the opportunity to take his family and leave town and the nasty business of gun running behind, but he is tied to the club through his mother Gemma and late father John.   The ties that bind don’t loosen too often.  Season 5 promises a game changing setup that won’t leave everyone breathing.  I like a show that takes chances.  Sons of Anarchy combines the criminal cool of Sopranos with the tragedy of a Greek Tragedy.

The Random Topics

  • As the days pass by, I get the impression Steve Spagnuolo will never be fired.   When your team loses 26-0 and you survive 48 hours, the idea is that the rest of the season is yours to keep.  A football team can’t lose much worse than 26-0, so my idea is the changes in the Rams come after the season.
  • Prince Fielder’s field of play will erupt once Pujols signs.  Fielder is a slugger 4 years younger than Pujols, so if Pujols gets a 10 year deal, Scott Boras will demand a 10 year stable for his client.  However, most teams are hesitant to give Fielder 10 years because of his father’s history hinting at Prince’s inevitable decline.   AL teams are more likely to give Prince a long term deal so when his first base days are over, he can transition right into the DH role.   My clear bet and quiet favorite for Prince is either the Cubs(Theo will go nuts until he spends his cash on a long term splash) or Texas, where a first basemen is needed and the will to compete is there.  If Prince goes to Seattle or Baltimore, he is stupid.
  • All signs point to me finally sitting down and viewing The Descendants tonight with my wife and grandmother.  The Clooney Oscar hopeful has been circling my radar for weeks, but as any new parent will tell you, it takes time and not money to get out of the house.  The story of a father learning that his wife, recently bound to a coma induced state, cheated on him and now he must deal with the fallout while raising two girls.  Juicy story dripping all over this one.
  • There’s no better Christmas gift than a homemade DVD.  Enough said.
  • The Debt on DVD is a solid rental.  Combine an action thriller, WWII, Hitler’s doctor, 3 agents and a job gone horribly wrong and this is the result.  Hard boiled drama with bullets.   A film about decision making costing you a life.  Review to come.
  • People forget Albert was just a 13th round pick in the 1999 draft.  An overweight slugger with a little upside that the Cards took a chance on.   A KC product with origins in the Dominican Republic who took the league by storm in 2001.  Amazing how beginnings are forgotten.
  • While I dip into the speculation and rumors of Pujols Mania, I will acknowledge most of the phrases that begin with either “Sources say” or “This isn’t confirmed yet…” end up being bullshit.  I am a kid who touches a hot stove even though history tells me I only get burned as a result.
  • Justified returns to FX in January.  The travels of Raylan Givens come full circle again as Timothy Olyphants renegade Marshall full of piss, vinegar and cool tries to keep Harlan, Kentucky safe.   A highly enjoyable television series that is only 2 seasons old.

A Final Thought on Albert Pujols

In the end, its about money, desire and comfort.   Albert Pujols finds all three of those things here in St. Louis before he finds it anywhere else.   He started here and should finish here.  If he runs off to Miami for more millions, he is entitled to do so but he will suffer a backlash here and it will be righteous.  Words don’t mean much in sports, but Pujols has said for years he wanted to retire here, winning was top priority and he didn’t need to make the most money.  If the Cards, and that’s a huge IF, offered Albert a 10 year contract worth 200-220 million and he turned it down, we will know all we need to know about Pujols and his real moral code.    I like to think the guy calls his own shots and will tell his agent Dan Lozano any minute now that the time to cut the Marlins off and head home is now.   Get it done and out of the head.  There’s no need to drag this out.   Make a choice, Albert.   An old saying is that the only way to find out what a person is truly all about is to offer them a boatload of cash in order to change their life and see if they do it and leave it all behind.  Money answers every question, folks.   Miami will contend for a playoff spot, but Albert Pujols belongs in St. Louis.   If reports by Bernie Miklasz are true, The Cards came to Lozano 2 years ago for an extension and he told them the starting point was 10 years and 275 million.   Now, 2 years later, the Cardinals are still willing to pay Pujols’ way home from his career.  From this point of view, Albert’s decision looks easy.   Stay comfortable, get paid and keep gunning for World Series rings.  If Pujols heads to Miami, we will all know money had something to do with it.  The real question will be….how far was St. Louis behind?

Tonight or early tomorrow, we get an answer.

Until then, I am done.  My fingers are bleeding and my mind needs to be freed for the moment.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more.  Hopefully, you enjoyed the storytelling here.



A Hail of Bullets

Hello everyone,

A few rounds of ammo being loaded into the hands here to fire out at the masses.   Enjoy the final indulgence of the week here at Buffa Cyber Space Headquarters, where the truth runs wild and the limits are endless when it comes to topical discussion.   Get comfortable, settle in and prep your eyes please.  This won’t be kind but it will be fair.   The order will be random so excuse my wild firing tendencies.

  • Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito Fight Hype Final Clip.  A great read on ESPN’s Grantland by Eric Raskin about the brutal love/hate relationship between boxing and its fans got the fluids rolling.   Raskin writes for The Ring magazine and unfolds a perspective on boxing that is true to my own.   Margarito is the perfect way to define our love for boxing.   Our hate for him fuels our energy to see him take a beating yet also illustrates our blood thirsty revenge for the sport while in the end we all wish the guy would have stood down against Manny Pacquiao in November, 2010.   Margarito’s name is soiled in bad blood because of three incidents that cloud his entire career.   The hand wrapping case before the Mosley fight that put his win over Cotto in question.   The brutal beating he took from Pacquaio, which led to eye surgery and repeated delays on his second Cotto fight.    Third, the prefight bullshit where Margarito and his crew mocked Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach’s Parkinson’s Disease right before the fight.   This guy loves to be a bad guy and fuels the reputation.   On Saturday night, I can only hope Cotto delivers a beating that puts Antonio out of business once and for all for his sake and the sake of boxing, but a part of me wants to see him stick around to play the villain.   Boxing is only as good as the animosity between two fighters entering the ring to resolve unfinished business.   Cotto is out to prove a failure wasn’t done with ordinary fists.  Margarito is out to prove he isn’t a cheating boxing criminal.   Raskin is so good in devouring the connection boxing has with its fans through animal instincts and a need to see violence.  Ask anybody what their favorite fight is and it will be a vicious beatdown fight.    That’s what we want and that’s why we watch.   Nobody watched boxing to see a pair of guys dance around a ring and bump gloves.   We watch in detail and curious vigorous enjoyment to potentially see a split open nose, a bloodied eye or a ruthless destruction of a human face.   We wince at times, but its the addictive drug of seeing a beatdown that we keep coming back to boxing.    UFC can take the top spot in the rankings.  Boxing keeps bringing me back because there is a sweet science here, a pre-fight river of animosity running through the fighters veins and the fights can be exciting.  Cotto-Margarito II easily defines the addiction of boxing.   Two men with a reason to step back into the ring.  A promise of violence.   That is the hook that keeps us there.  I will be watching, as Raskin will, on December 3rd, rooting in Cotto’s corner to deliver a brutal beating to Margarito because he is justified and because it’s the perfect foil of good and bad.   However, when the worry for a boxer’s health enter our blood stream that is thirsty for violence.   Boxing defines us as a species.  The perfect irony in life.  We don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but we also like “a good fight”.   Boxing will always be a part of my life because I respect the profession, the risk and the reward to go along with the stories that unfold in the ring.   No fighter is promised a victory.   Saturday night, a fan has been promised a violent battle.   Here’s to the reality that I hope the promise is kept.  Does that say more about me or about people as a whole?  Interesting.  Here’s Raskin’s article on the fight and his life of writing for the sport.  A very in depth passionate column on Bill Simmons’ wonderfully juicy commentary site, Grantland.

  • Margin Call is one of the best movies of 2011.  Easily a modern classic that sticks to your gut and lies on your bones far after the end credits roll out.  Margin Call is a disturbingly great movie.  A calculating, tough love packaged slow pot boiling look at the wreckage of the economic collapse in 2008.   “Remember this day, gentlemen.  Remember this day,” Kevin Spacey’s risk management firm manager pleads to his staff.   A film about an epic economic oversight at one firm that led to a fire sale that led to a worldwide economic collapse  that happened in 2008 but as stated by Jeremy Irons’ chief near the end, “This happens all the time and we never learn from it.  1901, 1974, 1939, 2001 and so on.  Money is just paper that keeps us from killing each other for a meal.”  The  tight 110 minute film here examines the events that took place the night before, where everything changed. The main problem here is greed, and as stated, we have done this to ourselves several times over the years. Leveraged too much, spent too much and got greedy and had to start over.  Margin Call gets under your skin in a painful way.   You see the building of economic wealth slowly collapse in this story because facts were avoided.  How often do we hurt ourselves by denying the facts and taking a risk?  A great cast including Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto and Irons works this very provocative and deeply personal script like pros.   Every actor is suited to the role.  A script is Mamet like and flies smooth without pulling a punch.  There’s a calm pace to this movie.  Watch it.  Don’t ask questions.  Just watch.  The beginning of the financial crisis started right here, in a lions den full of people trying to maintain control over the world.
  • “You’re selling something that you know has no value.”-Sam(Spacey)
  • “We’re selling it to survive.”-Irons
  • “There are three ways to make a living in this business.   Be first, be smarter or cheat.”-Irons
  • Scene of the Film-Stanley Tucci’s character, Eric Dale,  is fired in the beginning of the movie, an event that triggers the rest of the plot and sets the film in motion.   Tucci’s character is a risk analyst working on a program that he gets fired before he can finish, so he hands the flash drive to a younger analyst Peter(Zachary Quinto) to finish.   Peter punches in the numbers and finds out that the company is way in over its head and the finances are slipping.  The irony of the film is Dale is fired on the day where his actions come into play in a big way.  The entire film sees all the key players trying to track down Dale, who hasn’t come home and has run off to a corner of the city to soak in his dismissal.  He is one of those hard workers who unfortunately got cut by circumstance and not performance.   When Will Emerson(Bettany) finally catches up to Dale, the two men sit on a poach and Dale tells him he once designed and built a bridge that saved people over 150,000 miles of driving and kept them out of a car for a combined total of 1,051 years when all the traffic and miles were combined.  It’s a wonderful rant that doesn’t define the film yet shows a shade of the effort of the people who lost their job.
  • Great movies do that to you.  They connect a real life truth inside a fictional world with our brains and engage our mind.   Margin Call achieved that and will make me go back and watch it again just to appreciate the smaller moments.   Imagine if I tried to sell you a phone that I knew didn’t work but I needed to get rid of in order to survive.  That’s what these firms did in 2008.  They sold everything and lost every ounce of trust their buyers had in them.   I’ll go back for that.   The acting.  The message.  The moral.  The real deal.
  • Lets talk Rams football.   Here is something interesting I heard this morning on the radio listening to Bernie Miklasz.   The Seahawks beat the Eagles last night with ease, 31-14, and more importantly, QB Tavaris Jackson passed for 190 yards and complete 13 of 16 passes for a touchdown.   The same Tavaris Jackson picked to fail in Minnesota and to have zero chance in Seattle.   Jackson beat the Rams 2 weeks ago.   He is a well known bad quarterback.   How are the Seahawks getting it done with a bad quarterback, power running back and a lack of good receivers?   Look at The Arizona Cardinals, who have won more games than the Rams with John Skelton at quarterback.   How are they doing it with a bad offensive line and one good receiver?  Alex Smith, a first round pick left for dead several times by different coaches, is making things work and doing his part in San Francisco.   How are Skelton, Smith, and Jackson performing well and Bradford is supposed to be the answer here?  It comes down to coaching here.  The Rams coaches have similar tools and aren’t producing results.   Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, and a sound defense creating turnovers should produce a decent offense, but its not and looking at other teams in the division getting results with lesser talent is truly discomforting.   Seattle has a good offensive line and San Francisco has a great defense, but seeing the Rams standing at 2-9 and 0-3 in the division stands to raise several questions about their coaching staff and the ability to  pull results from a product on the field.  Results drive this league and the Rams inability to score points with decent talent at certain areas while other teams can means something isn’t working.
  • As I noted, it’s time to blow up the front office and coaching staff.    Spags and his coaches aren’t doing the right things if this offense is this horrible and being the main problem on a 2-9 team.
  • It’s proper to take shots at Sam Bradford because he is a first round pick, highly touted, referred to as an elite quarterback and hasn’t looked elite since last season in Week 15.  He has looked like a bum broke arm with no future.  Went from hero in 2010 to goat in 2011.    Bradford has been bad in 2011 and he needs to improve his play.   He has to be feeling pretty miserable watching lesser talents prosper elsewhere.   Finding him an offensive line would help immensely.  Everybody in St. Louis knows the most money in this town has been wasted on the offensive line.   Jason Brown and Jason Smith are injury plagued mistakes.   Roger Saffold was a disappointment.  Jacob Bell is average.   The biggest defense of Bradford is that he has a horrible offensive line that gives him zero time to throw.   True and understandable.   However, the Rams QB and future of the franchise should be able to produce more.   The other teams in the division aren’t working with premiere talent in the offensive line but the QB gets the job done.   Where’s the problem?   I will tell you this.  Once the Rams finish 2-14, fire the head coach, get rid of the general manager, bring in new coaches and a new system and reset the competitive buttons, all eyes will be on Bradford.   If he gets a couple decent protectors and a new lease here, the onus is on him to succeed.  If not, he will be sitting.   That’s the NFL.   Get it done or get out.   Right now, Bradford has excuses for his bad play.   What happens when those go away?  Accountability takes shape.
  • How much will the 49ers beat the Rams by this weekend?   20 or 30 points.   Tough to see a chance with the SF 49ers playing so well and the Rams having an inability to score points off Arizona and Seattle’s defense.   The Rams can’t score touchdowns against Cleveland, Arizona and Seattle.   How can they put up points on the best defense in the NFC?  Bradford will be on his back and I envision another low scoring total for the Rams.
  • The Blues land in Colorado tonight with one of the best records in the NHL and a chance to pick up a road win before 5 wins at home.  The Blues are playing great hockey and tonight features another matchup with Erik Johnson, Peter Statsny and the Avalanche, who are slumming through another season in the lower end of the West.   The Blues made a trade on February 19th that sent Johnson and Jay McClement to Colorado for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk and its easy to see who came out the winner on that end.   The Blues have gotten big performances from Stewie last year and Shatty overall enough to see this as a positive deal for the Blues.   Johnson is the Blues version of Colby Rasmus, a player who has all the talent in the world yet can’t transmit talent into performance.   Johnson regressed here, was traded and made immature comments about his time here.  Along with strengthening the winning ways and climbing the conference wall, the Blues can deliver a blow tonight and put Johnson and the Avs down.   These are two teams headed in opposite directions and this game is a matchup for the Blues to take advantage of or fall prey to on the road.   Road games are always a test.
  • The Cardinals would be smart to pursue Alex Gonzalez at shortstop if Rafael Furcal wants to ask for 3 years to go with his old age.   Gonzo has more pop in his bat, is younger and can play sound defense and will come at less than half the price.   Anything that keeps Tyler Greene, a minor league talent, away from the starting lineup.   Gonzo is a smart move by the Cards if they pursue it further.  There’s money in the payroll while waiting for Albert to make a move.
  • I expect tons of action at next week’s Winter Meetings.
  • Solid read in the post today about Mike Matheny and his determined work to come into the 2012 season fully prepared and ready to tackle managing.   The guy was a bold pick for the Cardinals after La Russa departed, and the expectations are high for a man with no experience in the coaching department.   Mozelaik didn’t hire his friend here or some outside source.   He hired an Ex Cardinal known for hard work and due diligence.    Matheny is taking notes from fellow managers, creating binders of spring training schedules, watching every game from last season, and doing everything a first time skipper can do to get ready.   Can Matheny pull results from this team?   Experience is a question but the fact that every Cardinal on the roster would go to war for Matheny says more in my opinion.   If he falters, he’ll take the heat and have to deal with it.  If the team does well, he’ll get the credit he deserves and his hard work will pay off.  If not, everyone lands on the hot seat because unlike the Rams and Blues, the Cards don’t get a pass for not making the playoffs.
  • Albert Pujols is a hot topic these days and yesterday my roundtable of Cardinals Nerve Center associates fired over 12 emails at each other debating my Pujols Contract/Cubs Talk blog section.  Here are some excepts of mine in the exchange.

Here’s a summary of the Pujols Talk From Thursday-

*Until his age can be proven otherwise, he is 31.  As my friend noted, he immigrated to America with his family for the purpose of living here and not just baseball, and has been here for quite some time.   Prove it or leave it alone.

*Albert Pujols isn’t going to the Cubs.  No way.

*The Cards will offer him a contract next week after the meetings.

*The hiring of Mike Matheny is a factor but Pujols likes and respects him so there should be no negative factor there.

*The market determines the deal unless the player is a saint.  Season ticket prices will go up but a good product on the field can justify that rise in money.   Pujols earns the Cards over double his salary in yearly revenue and deserves a great contract.   He is a big benefit to the Cards and will continue to make them money, which works from a owners standpoint.   A fan’s standpoint is seeing a winning team on the field.   Albert has been here 11 years, won 2 World series, went to 3 World series, won 3 MVP awards, over 3 gold gloves and completed the greatest 11 years in league history.   There’s no data to suggest he will continue that but there also is no factor telling us he will slow down.   In the end, deal with it, Cards fans.  He is the best player in baseball, will be overpaid in any deal and will remain a Cardinal.   You won’t be complaining when he is winning games in 2012 and beyond.

*I wish Pujols would fire Lozano and make the deal himself.   My head, heart and pocket book support the pledge to give Pujols a healthy new contract that keeps him a Cardinal for life.  This team is worse without him until at least 2016.  I won’t bet against him.  I can’t do it.  I’m not a season ticket holder but I know what this team needs and I have seen worse risks than Pujols getting 25 million a season.

The Pujols topic does produce plenty of banter, opinions and hot blooded conversation.  When he signs, it won’t end.   This is a “what have you done for me lately” world and Pujols will have to back up the big contract.   I just can’t wait to see how hardnosed smart baseball fans turn on him fast when he falters again and be quiet when he rounds into shape and does amazing things every day.

The Double Plays for Albert do need to come down.   That is opinion proof.

A Small Defense of Matt Holliday-It’s popular now to bash him for missing 38 games, failing at times in the playoffs, and falling to numerous injuries.   MH had played 155 games or more in his career the first 7 years of his career.   The predictable crowds came out and attacked him, calling him a wimp.   Other players have missed time due to an appendectomy, hamstring injuries, hand injuries and avoided criticism.   He makes a lot of money, but also plays very hard, leaves himself open to injury, couldn’t stay healthy yet produced solid numbers based on his at bats.  Going bold(disregard if you are Carlin or The Mang).

He has only had one injury plagued season and it was 2011.   He will bounce back.   At 17 million, he is a bargain.   He also produced a solid season in 2011 while playing in only 124 games.   Give him those 38 games back and does he have more than a .294 BA, 24 HR, 75 RBI?   He played a decent left field in 2010 and regressed in 2011.   Was there a connection there?  You can tie it to health issues.   Holliday was playing hurt and conceded the position, rightfully to Craig.  Its easy to shit on Holliday and praise Craig and his 200 at bats.   Holliday is the one playing with the big contract, but one thing you can’t say about Holliday is that he doesn’t hustle.  The guy plays the sport like football out there and made a difference in the NLCS and World Series.  If he doesn’t hustle in Game 6, we lose.  If he doesn’t stop the rally in Game 3 in Texas, we may not win that game.    He dominated the Brewers in a 6 game set and came up with big hits against the Phillies.   I hear from you in Philly when he had some hitless nights and didn’t hear from you when he collected 9 hits in 3 games against the Brewers.    

He still hit 24 HR, 75 RBI and hit .294.   People forget his crucial two plays in the World Series where he broke up a double play and beat out a grounder to give the Cards 2 runs that helped them win Game 6.   He also threw out a runner at home plate in Game 3.  He was playing on bad legs and had an injury plagued season.    Carlin, I didn’t hear a peep from you when he hit .400 in the NLCS and dominated Milwaukee.   Holliday is a cornerstone player and worth the cash.   His first season was a solid performance and he will have something to prove in 2012.   With Werth making 22 million in Wash and your boy Crawford tanking like a 1.5 tool player in Boston(look at the greatest hits), Holliday is a bargain here.   I’ll take him.   He is a player that plays the game hard, has troubles in left but runs out grounders(big in your book) and finishes plays.  

What else do I have for you today?  Follow along because I am almost done.  

  • The Eagles lost again last night, Vince Young threw 4 interceptions, Marshawn Lynch shredded the highly touted Eagles defense and everything is going downhill for the Super Bowl hopeful Philly team.  They only have 2 more wins than the Rams, and one of those includes a win over us at home.
  • The NBA is back.   Comments from here……no.   I am not affected by this news.
  • According to a good friend, the Premier Soccer League is the place to be on Saturday morning.
  • Comparing Pujols to Lebron is plain dead wrong.   Pujols, unlike Lebron, didn’t bolt after failing to win a World series from 2001-2005.   He signed a new deal, won a ring in 2006 and another in 2011 while matching Lebron’s MVP total with 3.   Pujols didn’t run away to the Yankees or Red Sox.   He stayed in St. Louis.  The man is loyal folks.
  • Only the Boston Bruins have a higher winning percentages since November 8th than the Blues and they happen to be the defending Stanley Cup Champions.   Watch your back, Zdeno Chara.  This turnaround by the Blues is much better than the Blues reacted to Davis Payne or Andy Murray.   Hitchcock is installing something here.  Impressions have come and gone.
  • With Vinny its all about speed.   Get him the bottle as fast as he can.   Get him to the crib as fast as you can.  Hold him right and don’t let his head roll.   Taking care of  a kid is all about attention.   They want to be held, fed, and tended to whenever they please because they are the cutest things in the world and we have no say.
  • Song of the Day-My Morning Jacket-“Slow Slow Tune”

That’s all.   Enjoy the weekend.  Thanks for reading.  If I faltered, the intent wasn’t there.  I only come here to unload the noise in my head and hope it lands in coherent fashion.   It’s an ongoing game.  That’s free lance writing for you.

Goodnight and Good Luck,


Remember, go see Margin Call.   Don’t worry about Albert’s contract because it will sort itself out and all we can do is watch.    Appreciate the Blues run because it’s not fake.    Don’t cut the Rams any slack because they didn’t return the favor.   Whatever you do, make sure its enjoyable.  Life’s too short to worry all the time.   Get out there.



Daily Notes From The Dream

Hello ladies and gents,

Here’s is what has been rolling around the head the past week.   A series of thoughts, opinions, and notes about the usual suspects section of material.   Things you may have heard about but haven’t gotten the opportunity to receive from this direction.   Without further delay, the latest Buffa Blast begins.

Spagnuolo and the Rams-The beginning of an explosion

Sooner or later, Spags has to be fired.  As a head coach, he hasn’t done the job necessary to retain it going into the following season or in my opinion, the following week.   The last nerve was touched this past weekend when Spags failed to go for it on 4th and 1 late in the game with the Rams near midfield.   These moments, where Spags doesn’t have the guts or grit to take a risk, define his time here as the head coach.   Why not go for it and work towards a win?  Your team is 2-8 and is out of the race, so why not have some fun, take a risk and install confidence in your players.   When coaches don’t take risks, they are either not built for coaching or think their team will fail.   Spags isn’t equipped with the greatest roster money can buy but he has better players than other coaches who have lost their job.   Let me explain it again.  A record of 10-33 doesn’t get you very far in any sport and the results need to render a change in the master seat.  The tipping point for me came in 2 doses on Sunday.  First, why punt it to Patrick Petersen when he singlehandedly defeated you 2 weeks ago in Arizona?  That’s a coaching misfire.  Spags should have kicked that ball himself out of bounds.  You don’t hand a killer like Petersen a loaded gun.   The second string came when he failed to make a run on 4th down.   Head coaches must gamble with the odds and take an unconventional approach if they are to feel good on cutting day.  Spags is too restrained, scared or has misplaced his balls since he took the job here.  He never simply goes for it.  Leading a 2-8 dead squad means mix in some creative playcalling.  Spags dug his own grave yesterday and there’s no way he survives the season.  How can he make it three years at 15-33(at best) and not feel the heat in his seat?  Stan Kroneke needs to take a look uptown and see what the Blues are doing under new veteran leadership in Ken Hitchcock.  Hitch didn’t come in and wipe the kid’s asses.   He told us that there would be a new style of hockey.  He isn’t a liar and doesn’t make excuses.   He installed a strict new order of play that has stuck for 10 games.    Spagnuolo’s main problem is treating his players like his sons and not like paid professionals.    The blowup in Rams Park needs to start at some point and Spags is the first to go.   While his contract is up at the end of the year, Kroneke needs to go unconventional here, make a statement and fire Spags and get some new blood in here to find out who belongs on this team and who needs to go.  You can’t find that out in offseason stat sheets.  You need to see it in games.  Bring in a roving coach and let him slap some sense into these guys.  Or bring in “motivational speaker” Bruce Boudreau to rile up this bunch.   Boudreau, fired by the Washington Capitals today, broke the HBO 24/7 record for “fucks” inside a 5 minute segment.  He is a no bullshit go for broke “eat my shit or your own” head coach.   Bring him in for a week and see what happens.   This is a joke but what isn’t excusable is allowing a failing coach to work 5 more weeks when those weeks can be spent seeing what a team has left under a new coach.   Look at the Blues.  They have RESPONDED to a coaching change and turned their entire season around.  The Rams can’t rescue their season but they can find a bit of dignity in the end.  Every team shuffle begins with the head coach going down. I didn’t write it that way but that’s the method that works.  When a coach hits the dirt, players all of a sudden are accountable for their actions.   While he is a good guy and someone who will work in the NFL elsewhere, Spags isn’t pulling results from this team and hasn’t been for 3 seasons on a consistent basis.  Kroneke needs to fire Spags and GM Billy Devaney.

Side Notes On The Rams

Coaching changes aside, the Rams have to go out and find some talent in the offseason.   Sign a talented legitimate wide receiver, refuel the secondary and linebacker positions,and take a good long hard look at your offensive line, which can’t keep Sam Bradford on his feet.   Switching out the coach is the first move, but the roster comes next.   Get new receivers in here and strengthen up the defense in the secondary.   Coaches are only as good as their talent.

Coaching Options.   There are names out there.   Bill Cowher is the golden goose who is probably headed for New York after Tom Coughlin is fired.   Cowher is a great coach who crafted a legendary career with the Steelers and is waiting to get back into coaching.  Kroneke needs to prop up Bradford and beg Cowher to come here.  Jon Gruden is one of my favorite ex-coaches but he has a 4 year deal at ESPN he will not break.   There are others out there.   Brian Billick won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and could shake things up.  Jeff Fisher, former Titans head coach, is on the market.  Fisher is a hardcore football mind who nearly won a Super Bowl and coached well in Tennessee and got fired after the Vince Young fallout.  I like Fisher and think he would be good for this team.   He won’t rock the boat or flip the car 360 degrees, but he will demand a performance and expect results and install a sense of urgency here.   The wild candidate is Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the long haired loud mouthed buffoon who could bring some much needed color and charisma to the Ed Dome.   Imagine his post game pressers and thrills are there to be had.   Walking to the podium with a pabst blue ribbon freshly popped, waving his hair back as he sticks chew into his mouth while answering questions regarding his decision to call 45 blitz packages against a team with a great reactive QB.   Ryan pressers would make Tony TV seem like national geographic.  Cowher and Gruden are the golden gooses, but Fisher and Ryan share their own appeal.  Don’t be scared off by a little attitude.

The Blues Hot Streak Continues in Washington

Facing a team reeling from the firing of their coach Bruce Boudreau and a Capitals team mentioned in the same sentence as “Stanley Cup Contender”, the Blues dominated Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington last night.  Ladies and gents, its safe to say that the Ken Hitchcock style of hockey is working in St. Louis.   Joining the team 4 weeks ago and getting only a practice and an optional skate to work with before a matchup with Chicago, Hitchcock has found the winning desire on this young team of hockey soldiers and created a winning hockey team.  As he said at the press conference introducing him as head coach, we are watching the Blues play and seeing a hockey team that plays the game right.   What more are you going to do when your team is winning?   Search for the dirty areas?  Enjoy the ride?   Challenge the schedule to a duel of prediction?   All of the above.  Lets look at the little things.

*The goaltending is strong as ever and carrying the team.  The stoppers have held several 1-2 goal leads.  The best thing Hitch did when he came to this team was tell the city that Jaro Halak was going to remain the starting goalie and stay in the rotation.   He knew that a young goaltender struggling in the first month of the season needs the time and minutes to find his game and round it into shape.  It was a gutsy move because it seems like backup bargain bin grab Brian Elliot hasn’t allowed a goal all season and was playing great when Hitch came in.  If there was one great thing in October, it was Elliot’s play behind Halak.   However, Hitch did the right thing in sticking with Halak.  The Slovak has lowered his goals against average from 3.53 to 2.44 in the time period and produced a shutout.   Elliot has maintained his level of excellence, reaching 10-1 and leading the NHL with a 1.44 GAA and .950 save percentage.  95 percent of the time, Elliot stops the shot.  Amazing.  Halak is keeping up the pace and these two have formed the most unlikely goaltending duo in the league.  Betting on these two being the dynamic combo in October is like calling the Cards a playoff contender in September.  Crazy and requiring a heavy dose of whiskey.

*Hitchcock’s style is sticking.  The most consistent play this team has seen in 6 years. 8-1-2 since his arrival and risen to 3rd in the conference and 4th in the entire league.   The change in this team’s game to game play looks like night and day on the tape.

*Power play and stupid penalties are still problems but fixable.  The Blues do understand that only 5 guys can play on the ice at once? 3 penalties for 2manymen on ice the past month.  A coach’s worst nightmare is the failure to keep only 5 on the ice at once. Now isn’t the time to resemble  The Rams.

*David Backes is coming into his own while Chris Stewart regresses.  Two big men going in opposite directions.  Backes has 9 goals and 5 in his last 8 games and is knocking bodies down and keeping the order on the ice while killing penalties, working the top line and power play.   Backes is everywhere and Stewart has taken a step back since his 3 game suspension.   Stewie stormed into St. Louis last March and took the franchise by storm, scoring 13 goals in less than 2 months of play.    This season, he is stale, easy to tromp and tentative after an early league slap from Safety honcho Brendan Shanahan.   When Backes and Stewart run at the same high speed, this team will only get better.  Yes, Blues fans, this team can get better.

*Something to Note.  The Blues are winning like this without Andy McDonald, David Perron, a hot playing Patrik Berglund and with a rotating goalie situation.

*With the same players Davis Payne had to work with, Hitchcock is getting results.  It starts and ends with the 0 to 60 style of play and the strong goaltending from Jaro Halak and Brian Elliot.   The Blues passed their test when they survived their first road test, winning 2 and losing 1 in regulation and 1 in a shootout but after a Friday duel in Colorado, they come home for 5 straight beginning with a date with Jonathon Toews and the Blackhawks, a team Elliot shut out to start the wild ride of Hitchcock weeks ago.   The Blues manage to get 2 points tomorrow night and they can come home within a point of the NHL lead by the time their plane lands at Lambert airport Friday morning.   There’s a lot to be excited about in Blues land right now.   The Blues are playing the most consistent hockey their city has seen in 6 years, when they last resembled a legitimate playoff team.    What is the cause for that with the same players running around the rinks?   A new infusion of energy from the coaching department, a veteran like Hitchcock breaking the chain on the talents of Oshie and Daggs and allowing their talent to roam free.    While Payne stressed structure and patience, Hitch is letting the Blues do their own thing on the ice and see where the minutes take them.   Free will is being injected into the cold blue veins of the Blues and its working.   I’ll let you know when it stops.  Hopefully it doesn’t until the end of May.

The Alberto Pujols Epic Contract Bit of the Week-Cubs Getting in the Mix

I won’t sit here and tell you that there is absolutely no chance Albert plays for the Cubs in 2012.  I am telling you that there is a very little chance Pujols takes his talents up north to the windy side of depressive baseball for a few more million dollars per year.   GM Theo Epstein has a new boss in Chicago and he knows about the John Lackey, Carl Crawford and JD Drew deals that Theo authorized.   The Cubs need more than just one marquee player to become a winner again.   Please don’t tell me they need to resell Cubs baseball back to that town. Bullshit.  Wrigley will be filled to the brim no matter what, the same way Kansas City Chiefs games at Arrowhead sell out no matter the record.   Theo needs to spread the wealth or dive after a younger player in Prince Fielder, who has ties to the new manager Dale Sweuvm, who was the hitting coach in Milwaukee.   Looking at this from an un-bias standpoint, I just don’t see it coming.  Buster Olney of ESPN and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated both shot it down on Twitter and they have no secret agenda.   Heyman said there is no way the Cubs want to battle for Pujols with the Cubs.  They would only lose AGAIN!  Olney said its a smoke screen to raise the price tag for the Cards.  No way.   This comes down to Albert.   The Cards need to make him another offer first, but in the end Albert makes a choice.   Simple as that.   I don’t think Albert is a big enough bastard to leave his kingdom and join the rivals.

He isn’t going anywhere.  Why?  St. Louis is the best possible situation for Albert.  I will say this all the way until New Year’s Day and wrap it into a song because it makes too much sense.  Dan Lozano can be the biggest Scott Boras impersonator and go head to head with The Mighty Shark but in the end this is Albert’s choice and if he is true to his word and gets a decent deal, he will stay here.  Out of Florida, Chicago and St. Louis, Pujols has the best chance to win….here.   The roster is built to contend in 2012, with or without Rafael Furcal back at shortstop.   People complain to this day that he is just one player, but remember he is the best player on this team and the best in baseball.   Why is it that I have to hear Cards fans who hailed him as the greatest on facebook, twitter and in the news now say he can go if he wants.   How do we know what he wants?  I go off what he has said in the past and the consistent dialogue rolling from his tongue.  He wants to retire here, like Stan, play for a contender and win more World Series rings.   This is a guy who would have at least 5 MVPs if it weren’t for a cheating Barry Bonds.   This is the best defensive first baseman in baseball.  The best pure hitter.  People who complain about his age have ZERO PROOF as always and I can tell them if he is hitting like this and might actually be 37 years old, its even more impressive.   If he is so old, why has he only missed scattered amounts of time?  Steroids, they say.  I respond with the missing proof.   FOX 2 once tried to tie Pujols to steroids and took a huge credibility hit.   I go on and on here because this is how you destroy the dim minds in St. Louis who think its okay for Pujols to walk because WE THINK he wants 30 million a year.  That is untrue, thank you Ken Rosenthal.  Albert turned down a reported 9 year, 198 million deal in January and I feel split on that move.  The years were solid yet too long but the salary was around 21-22 million per season.   Good raise but not reaching market value.  I think Lozano got the better of Albert and told him to wait.  Albert responded with a very strong if not typical Pujols campaign and probably dropped his value a bit.   In the end, the only team to offer him 200 million will be St. Louis and since they are best contender, they are the best spot.  When I say this is the best landing spot, I do that out of careful analysis and not blind optimism.  There’s a difference my friends.   Albert to the Cubs is media dog food, meant for short term enjoyment and bringing a bad taste to those looking for a real story.   Allow me to destroy that ridiculous notion.   Back to reality folks.

Next week, the winter meetings will solve a lot of problems and answer several questions.   Next Friday, December 9th, there could be big news coming out of St. Louis.  There’s my prediction, thought and final bit on Pujols Destination 2012 Mania.

Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito, Part 2

This weekend, in Madison Square Garden, two men do battle for a common attainable goal.  A reuniting of a rivalry, in and out of the ring.  The chance to acquire revenge and redemption all in one setting.   Cotto is the proud Puerto Rican champion looking to avenge his ugliest loss and his first loss.   A severe beating at the hands of Margarito, a joker of a talent whose career has been marred by the fact that a substance containing the ingredients to create plaster was found in his hand wraps before his Shane Mosley fight, the one right after the Cotto fight in 2008.   A cloud of ethical mystery surrounds the first Cotto-Margarito fight because of those hand wraps.   Yes, Margarito used illegal hand wraps against Cotto.  After reviewing the photos, evidence and reading articles, I can tell you, its clear as day.  Tony cheated here.   It will never be proved and Margarito can deny it until he dies but I will spit it on his grave.   He is a decent puncher but if they found plaster before his fight against an aging Mosley, why would he not have it in his wraps against a powerful hard punching undefeated champion like Cotto.  Put it together folks.   This is a battle between good and evil and it makes for an outstanding night of boxing.   Cotto has won his last two fights while Margarito nearly had his career ended by Manny Pacquiao.   He suffered a broken orbital bone in his right eye from 12 rounds of pounding from Pac Man last November.  Cotto took a similiar beating from Manny yet made it out clean.   Cotto lost his father in 2010 and is fighting for his honor as well, because when he woke up in the hospital after the fight in 2008, his father was waiting for him.  24/7 created the greatest episode of their series’ lifespan last week, when the two episodes covered the handwraps, Cotto’s dad and the buildup to this fight in one thrilling hour.   Ladies and gents, this is a juicy fight because there is legitimate animosity growing between these two men.  Cotto is highly motivated to pound the living crap out of Margarito’s criminally made face and Antonio wants to prove a trip to Home Depot isn’t required to win a big fight.   Saturday night, these two wage war in New York City’s roman palace, Madison Square Garden, the site of many legendary sporting events.   Puerto Rico against Mexico.   Good versus Evil.   Revenge in the air with redemption and falling into one single stove top lit to a high heat.   Boxing fans have to appreciate a matchup like this.   Cotto is a solid legit boxer, carrying a 36-2 record that’s included several battles.   Antonio has 7 losses but is known to be a force that can’t be stopped or knocked down.  Tony has said he will die in the ring.   Cotto will not because of his devotion to his family.   Can you feel that?  The tinkling sensation down below.  I can because this fight is going to be great.   Get a group together, purchase it on pay per view because unlike MMA, this fight will go 10-12 rounds and give you the satisfaction that’s sometimes lost in a 3 minute martial arts fight not involving Dan Henderson.  Book it.

DVD Reviews-

Beginners-An engaging drama/comedy about Oliver Fields(Ewan McGregor), who is given a double dose of life changing news when his father, Hal(an award deserving Christopher Plummer) tells him he has terminal cancer and that he is gay.   This film is injected with a script that creates smooth realistic dialogue and a wonderfully cool and calm pace for a story that starts small and ends up in grand stages.   Oliver is a middle aged man who is afraid of loving someone because he has never truly known his father and the two strike up a friendship 45 years after his dad marries his mom and they only grow closer when he tells Oliver at the age of 75 that he has a gay lover and has always been gay.   The main reason to see this film comes from the experiences and scenes between Oliver and Hal, two men who have collided at the end of the long game of life instead of at the beginning.   A tragically hip love story.   A man getting over the secrets of his father’s life by embracing his past, learning to see life at a difficult angle and opening himself up to loving someone.  Inventive film that takes you places where you carried little idea of before watching this movie.   Whether you are supportive of gays or against their free will(if its the latter, shame on you), this film will find a way to your heart.  Truly captivating and a film I didn’t stare at my watch once during its running time.   Oliver meets a lovely french woman(Melanie Laurent, sexy and free afer Inglorious Bastards breakthrough) and falls for and as the two travel through love’s tunnel together, Oliver takes a look back at his father’s life.  The Beginners is a film that takes you on a journey through a man’s life and doesn’t require any stunts, effects or previous novel to steal from in order to deliver a lovely experience.   Highly recommend Beginners.

The Devil’s Double-Flipping the switch from dramatic comically memory engagement to enraged and dangerous ground here.   Here is another inventive vivid dose of action thriller menace.  Dominic Cooper plays Latif, an ex-soldier living in Baghdad, who is kidnapped one day by Uday Hussein aka The Black Prince, the son of Saddam, and his men.   Uday is also played by Cooper in a brilliant portrayal of hot and cold, noble and evil, wild and tamed, normal and crazy.    Latif is handpicked by Uday to be his double, handling some of his affairs and put his life on the line to maintain Uday villainous rampage of rape, murder and drug using lifestyle afloat.   Cooper plays both and the entire movie rides on his ability to show you the creepiness of Uday and the goodness of Latif, as two souls battle inside one persona.    This is all based on a true story and the real Latif served as a consultant on the film.   The weight of the plot is these two men butting heads, Latif wanting out and Uday wanting him to keep his life in order.   The talent here is in the ability of the director to splice together Cooper as each man into the same shot and not make it look entirely fake.   Cooper owns the film and the brutality of Uday mixed with the soulfulness of Latif makes for a performance of depth. Uday is the enraged petulent child and Latif comes off as the normal person struggling to stay sane.  There isn’t much depth in the movie or obvious reach but Cooper makes it all watchable.

Warning-Flypaper, a bank robbery comedy caper starring Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd, is easily the worst movie of the year and in quite some time and will go down as 82 minutes I am never getting back.   Its a horribly written, badly acted, completely stupid and wasteful exercise in witty dark comedy.   A group of people get caught between two sets of bank robbers, and people mysteriously start dying.   The rest is entirely stupid and the only reason I made it to the end was to see the identity of the killer.   Look, its not worth it.  If someone saw this film and told me it was good, I couldn’t take their opinion on film seriously ever again.   DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.  An ill-advised adventure gone very wrong.

Watching Never Let Me Go as we speak.  A film about three young friends who find out they are genetically enginneered to produce and donate vital organs.  Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan star as the three who start out their young lives at a makeshift boarding school, thinking this is an extended camp or rugged form of Harry Potter schooling.   What they find out is that they are created to extend life by providing their organs to others in need.   Imagine if you were given the opportunity to breathe ever so briefly only to provide a stranger with life while you slowly died and your life span would be complete by their middle age.  You are born and learn to find out you only get to run half the track of life.  This film follows them as they run away and attempt to live their lives as free as they can.   There’s a love triangle between the three that grows as they get older and move to different facilities.   Being a part of these donor packs is like being part of a traveling band.   From the first shot of Carey Mulligan looking down at a donor and telling us her side of the story, this film truly takes hold of you in a powerful manner.   Stay tuned.   Garfield(so good in Social Network and filling Spider Mans shoes soon), Knightley(Pirates, Domino) and Mulligan(The Education, Wall Street 2) are all highly talented young actors and are all very well suited for the roles of dreamers and wanderers through a brief stay on this strip.   That’s only a drip of the plot so wait out for more or seek it out.

The Random Shots-

*Bruce Boudreau was fired because he wasn’t able to pick a talented group of players in Washington and turn them into a top tier playoff team or produce a Stanley Cup.  THose were the expectations and he failed.  He won over 200 games and went 17-20 in the playoffs, including a first round exit two years ago after winning the Presidents Trophy.   Boudreau was a coach made famous for his 24/7 profanity laced rants, once throwing 16 fucks into a single post game speech.   The man wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind.  In the end, his players performance and his reliance on a team game produced zero results.

*NFL playoff teams are getting an unhealthy dose of bad luck.   The Texans lost Matt Schaub to a foot injury and backup Matt Leinart immediately hurt his shoulder and is out as well.   Tyler Yates starts for an 8-3 team and top seed in the AFC this weekend.   The Chiefs lost Matt Cassel and their replacement, Tyler Paiko, took a pounding from The Steelers and threw 3 interceptions with newly acquired Kyle Orton on the bench.   Orton was rumored to join the Bears, who lost Jay Cutler to a broken thumb, and Caleb Hanie couldn’t life his team above the Raiders, currently without starter Jason Campbell.   Quarterbacks get hurt but in a small 2 week time frame 3 different playoff hopeful teams lost their quarterbacks.   Bummer.

*Sam Bradford hooked up with Brandon Lloyd twice on Sunday on one drive in a glimpse of what the Rams offense could produce.  For once, I saw a Josh McDaniels style offense.   Push the ball downfield, line up 4 receiver sets and run and gun the other teams.   It was a pretty 2 play scoring drive that tied the game at 20 before The Cardinals utilized the Spags failure on 4th down and ended up kicking an easy field goal.

*Just for the record, Patrick Petersen beat the Rams twice this season, with game defining punt returns for touchdowns.   What’s the lesson, Rams fans?   Kick it out of bounds.  If it’s too hard, find a different punter.

*The Blues have only allowed 13 goals in 11 games since Hitchcock took over.  Stronger defense isn’t taking away the penalties but framing up the defensive core of this team.   The Capitals had 11 shots through 2 periods on Tuesday.  An impressive turnaround.

*Tim Tebow won again on Sunday, beating another playoff hopeful team in the Chargers.    He beat another critically loved quarterback in Philip Rivers, and led the Broncos on a game winning field goal drive in overtime to win 16-13.   Tebow wasn’t pretty all the time, but ran the ball 22 times for 65 yards and threw for 168 and a touchdown.  He made two key throws of 20 plus yards in overtime to help set up the drive.   This kid is for real folks.  5-1 as a starter and pulling this Denver team left for dead back to life along with a very strong defense.   Tebow gets most of the credit but Elvis Demervil and Von Miller are beasts on the defensive line and are truly disrupting offenses across the league.  There are equally loaded sides on the Denver team, and the defense has been just as clutch as Tebow.  However, the reason behind the attention on Tebow is that he wasn’t supposed to be this good.  Merril Hodge and Trent Dilfer and tons of other supposedly smart football minds had this kid pegged to fail.   He couldn’t throw like Joe Montana and was STEALING a job from Orton and Brady Quinn.   His own President, John Elway, didn’t want the kid to succeed and knew he couldn’t.   Head coach John Fox resisted the urge to give into Tebow mania.   That’s what people have wrong.   The defense was supposed to be this good.   Tebow wasn’t who they thought he was.  He is making clutch plays and delivering game winning drives.  The defense didn’t help him run 20 yards for a game winning score 2 weeks ago.  hat was an option play that Tebow expanded into a good run.  What started out as an ugly win over Miami has developed into an impressive win over the Chargers.   Results have to measured these days by expectations.  Tebow wasn’t supposed to be this good.   He happens to be pretty damn good.  Tell me he isn’t a quarterback all you want and I will hold those messages and thoughts with my secretary until the kid loses in decent fashion.    He is doing enough and the offense has reshaped itself around his wildcast fused talents.  A strong defense helps.  Tons of doubters help.   I’m not religious AT ALL but I wouldn’t make fun of the kid for his beliefs.  A very strong unbreakable will also helps.  Tim Tebow is for real folks.   He has 5 wins under his belt in 6 tries.  Sam Bradford has 8 wins in 24 attempts.   I’m just saying.   #1 pick against #24 pick.   Expectations are everything here.  The NFL is a results driven league and look at the stats becausey they don’t lie.  Defenses are starting to line up to stop Tebow and he has 8 touchdowns to go with 1 interception.   Add a few rushing scores to that and the manner and clutch time frame they fall in and you get the picture.   Love or hate the guy is a choice.   Respect the results.

*Rams are 0-3 against NFC West and they are facing the 49ers for the first time this weekend.  Preseason hype has officially crashed and burned.  I said this in August.  If this team can’t win in its own division, they stand no chance. A game that involed 2 turnovers, 2 red zone stalls, decent defense, 3 false starts, no clue of direction on offense and a slow decay at home.   The St. Louis Rams everyone.

*Another sign Steve Spagnuolo has to go.   If he manages to steal a win in his final 5 games, which would require some luck, Spags would finish 11-37.   Is that a record over 3 years that a owner will see as progress?  Hell no.   Spags has to go.   If he gets to finish the season after a 49ers pounding this weekend, I’d be surprised.

*Yes, what Ndamukong Suh did on Thanksgiving was wrong but the man is an unforgettable beast. He’s living in 1980 football and chose the wrong route when he denied stomping on a player’s arm after a play and then going back to apologize for doing it.   Suh is a dirty player but its his style of play and it will never change.  Stomping on an arm was uncalled for and prohibits Suh from chasing quarterbacks for 2 games.  The Lions aren’t as watchable.

*Brett Hull is showing interest in joining Tom Stillman’s group to purchase the Blues.   Yes, the proposed purchase by Hulszier still hasn’t been finalized yet, which leaves the Blues on the market.   Hull is serious about joining and it all comes down to the amount of money he throws in and how much it bumps Stillman’s offer up.   A local businessman, Stillman has made two unsuccessful offers to buy the team but maybe just maybe Hull can push him over the limit if Hulszier’s offer falls through.   Hull has a strong history here and a hockey sense that few possess.

*Saul Canelo Alvarez just pulverized Kermit Cintron with a barrage of straight right hands in a light middleweight bout.  Neck snapping power.  Alvarez is the real deal.  Watch out Chavez Jr.  Chavez Jr is a paper champ, and before he KO’d a spent Manfredo he lost a decision in his last fight in my opinion.  Alvarez is an entertaining boxer because he engages and fights straight forward and hits hard.  He reminds me of a smarter Tyson.  His defense needs to improve before he takes on Floyd.  However, if Cotto gets past Tony, id like to see Canelo and Miguel hook up. If Cotto loses, have Canelo destroy Tony.  That’s the fight though.   Chavez Jr and Alvarez are hot and are mexican young guns.   Good speed boost for Alvarez to hand Julio a beating.

*What’s the cost of a drunkened afternoon with your bosses?  A 6.5 mile run to work to pick up the car. Have too much fun partying with your work associates at a holiday function and the beauty lies in running to go pick up your car three days later. 60 degrees, little wind, rain in forecast, I am gone.

*I dropped my family Directly in the Black Friday Walmart mischief. This is where the real side of people arrive. Desperate, deadly and driven.   The Joker was right.  In the end, these civilized people, will eat each other.  Making it out of here alive and sane won’t be easy. Prozac given at door with Jack chaser.

*Watching 2011 Cardinals WS DVD with the family on Thanksgiving. Getting chills reliving the glory road this team paved through Philly, Milwaukee and Texas. Jason Motte taking the mound in Game 1 and walking out of the bullpen in a slow motion shot in Game 7.  A thrilling production from MLB Films and solid narration from my boy Jon Hamm.   Getting emotional and pissed at  the same moments. Craigs two pinch hits, pulling Motte in G2, Pujols’ 3 homers, the bizarre Game 5, Freese in the later games and every moment. The moments still get under the skin. That’s a diehard for you.  Game 6 had a Pacquiao/Marquez like tenacity to it.   One team struck a blow and the other counter punched right back, producing a thriller at Busch that seemed to last for days and was given an ending by Mr. Freese.

Closing Thoughts-

*Urban Meyer goes home to Ohio State.  A proven winner, my future for Meyer would have been painted in NFL colors. Alas, a good decision.  Staying with something he knows.

*Mission Impossible Series-Consistent producers of solid action mayhem.  The Chief export of these films are Tom Cruise stunts.

*If I do one thing in my lifetime, it will be stopping every pedophile on this earth. Syracuse Coach Bernie Fine is the latest molester.

*The Eagles demise isn’t a surprise.  Preseason hype often ends in vicious turmoil.   Didn’t anyone learn from Lebron and Dwayne’s harsh predictions.   Reasons for it are as followed.

1.)Brittle inconsistent QB

2.)Soft defense

3.)Classless acts by star players

*Dexter on Showtime just pulled out a rug that redirects an otherwise dismal and troublingly ineffective season.   A plot twist that redefines the chase of the season for our good guy serial killer.   A perfect place to challenge the downfall of a series that always survives on the thrill of watching Dexter Morgan going hunting.

*Boardwalk Empire simply keeps getting better and better.  Stephen Graham, who plays a young Al Capone, looks to play a heavy part in the Second Season finale.  Just a thought.   Man’s going to make a move.

*When did the line “there are no deferrals, Tommy.  There never have been any deferrals,” carry more weight.   This movie I am watching, Never Let Me Go, keeps adding on pounds of power with each closing scene.   I will leave you to find out the meaning in that line.   FUBAR is a clue.

*Tony Twist looks like a italian gangster coked up musclehead in the postgame here with his monsterous wedding ring, black suit, shirt and purple tie.   The true enforcer still looks like he could destroy a human on the ice.   I heard Twister on the radio recently and he can dish it pretty well.  Very honest.   His bit on “keeping the justice on the ice” was priceless.

*The Russian stout was as strong as Rasputin’s dick hair.   Seriously, I popped one open after a 2am breakfast cooking and it kicked my ass in a good way.   This stout reminds of a Arrogant bastard ale if Stout took shape.  You know what you are drinking, which is good.  I liked it and have drank another bottle since Saturday.   A preferred brew of beer I happen to like a lot in the winter.

*Someone please Tell Mozelaik Tyler Greene isn’t a MLB shortstop.

*My next movie to seek out.  Margin Call, a story about the 2008 economic collapse and the events at one firm the night before the country went boom.  Good cast, energy and script.

*Never Let Me Go is a tragically courageous film.   Three friends struggling in finding the ability to seek the ideal meaning in saving lives by giving your own.  This film will take a piece of you and keep it for a few days.  A piece of your mind runs away with it.

“I wonder if our lives will be any different than the people we saved.   Will we ever know what we lived through or if we had enough time?”-Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go

*While I waited on my car getting an oil change last night, I watched the Justified pilot on my Ipod.  That show is so good, so flavorful when it comes to character development, plot and direct blunt action that it makes you anxious for it to return.   Olyphant brings it all together, honing Raylan out of part anti-hero will, old school cool and an authority few actors have on television.   The moment at the end of the pilot episode between Raylan and Boyd before their guns are pulled is the best scene of the series.   This show returns for a third round in January.  Justified is a show to look forward to because it takes a familiar concept and spins a fresh story every week while holding the underlying tone of the show.

*Theo Epstein will overpay for Albert Pujols, but I doubt the Cards will fall for the desperate plea to contend. They have waited this long so they will wait a little more, not that I agree with their strategy.   I can fault the Cards all I want, but if Pujols goes to the Cubs, there is no excuse but to question his decision making.  I highly doubt he will end up in Wrigley.  This story gets little attention from me.

*Drew Brees is a pure weapon when playing against a soft defense in the Superdome.   The midget is unstoppable and is a fantasy dream.  5 touchdowns last night.  If The Pack face a challenge, its New Orleans because Brees can match Rodgers blow for blow.  He came at the Giants with his guns hot.

*Margarito won’t be able to contain the Puerto Rico bald headed monster because he wasn’t able to go to home depot before the fight for the plaster.   Cheating mexican will be fucked in the streets of NYC.   If he dies, he dies.  The poetic justice will be glorious.

*Don’t be afraid to leave the genius button on because you never know when you will be surrounded by a pack of lying, cheating stupid ass spitfucks.   That’s my motto.

*Truly, my motto is not giving up.  On anything in life, give it your best shot because success is ours but we have to fight to maintain and keep it along way.  Strive for greatness but prepare for a downfall.   With that, the musical selection of the week is…

*The Black Keys performing “These Days”, an ode to the never ending will to survive in a competitor’s world.   This band is easily one of the best bands I have discovered in the past 5 years and the genius goes back to their first 2 albums.  This is off their last, the all time great Brothers.  Their new album, El Camino, comes out Tuesday.  Enjoy it like you are supposed to.   Click and listen.

That’s all I have tonight.  A 7,000 word blog/rant here that never seemed to stop because the material kept loading up and I had to bring it.   If you have read some of this material before in a previous email the past couple days, I apologize.  My blogs are collections of my thoughts since the last blog was sent out.  A one man scavanger hunt that accepts anything with substance.  Sometimes, the words come out in a different setting and are recycled here.   It’s what I know how to do.   Tell it like it is until a point gets across.  For now,  I am done.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa