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…
http://youtu.be/7LNITt85-Rc’
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.

Goodnight,

DLB

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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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