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.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7299977/how-much-punishment-enough

  • 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,

D.L.B.

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.

 

 

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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