Fresh Spins

Hello again,

The time has come to dish the news and watch it spin.  Here’s something fresh.  Completely random mode turned on here.

NFL Super Bowl Matchup Is Set-A rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl where Eli Manning and the pesky Giants took down the Tom Brady Machine.   I like this matchup a lot because it pits a great offensive juggernaut against a well balanced NYG attack.   How did they get here?  The Patriots arrived via a soft Baltimore offensive attack, late game mismanagement, and a horribly missed 32 yard field goal yanked right by former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff.   On the same day The Ravens defense shuts down Tom Brady(in other words, doesn’t allow a passing touchdown), the Ravens falter late and miss a gimme kick.   The Giants outlasted the 49ers in overtime on a fumble by San Francisco returner Kyle Williams, booted a 30 yard field goal and completed a miraculous run to the Super Bowl that was impressively reminiscent of their Super Bowl run a few years ago.   Eli Manning owns a new record for the most road wins in the playoffs(5) and comes up huge at the biggest stage.   Eli is the anti-Lebron.  He takes low expectations and explodes through the roof on center stage.   My money will be in my pocket but once again I like the Giants to take down the Brady train again.   If Joe Flacco and the Ravens can nearly push Brady to the brink of elimination, the flaming Giants can do it.

Ides of March is a disappointment.   Plain and simple.   George Clooney’s devil’s dance about the cost of politics on the human soul takes a powerfully simplistic subject matter(political swordplay on the mind) and delivers a PLAIN return.   Nothing that happens in this movie is great or surprising.  Nothing blows the mind.   Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei all deliver decent performances but for me the script is weak here.  Clooney’s direction is assured and fine, but there is nothing Oscar worthy(as the bells are ringing around Hollywood right now) going on here.  When I finished the film, I got on with my night instead of taking a drive, smoking a cigar and dicing up my thoughts and emotions over a series or movie like I did when I finished Showtime’s Homeland.   The plot here is simple.   Gosling’s idealistic campaign manager is driving Clooney’s Governor train towards the Presidency when emotions, revelations and a change of heart derail everything.  Clooney is telling us that politicians say one thing and do another and to me that is very old news.   This is the opposite of Margin Call, one of the best films of the year and a candidate in Buffa’s mind here for Best Picture.   Call took a simple concept(the story leading up to the economic collapse) and blew my mind with the execution.   A cast of all star acting talent, a juicy script and potent direction powered that film.   Ides doesn’t execute anything but a general decades old truth.   Politics claims a piece of your soul if you choose to get involved.

The Blues Get a Chance to Be Somebody in Detroit and they failed.  An early 1-0 lead turned into a quick 2-1 2nd period deficit and the Blues drop their 3rd consecutive defeat to the Wings.  Save me the “punch a Red Wings fan” routine and calculate that its quite frustrating to lose three times in a row to the team you are chasing when you have had the lead in two of those games.   The Blues have 64 points and are lingering around the top spot in the NHL.  This team is capable of greatness and needs to take the next step of beating a great team on the road.   Tonight they could have done what the MU Tigers did on Saturday.  Go on the road, beat a great favored team and climb a ladder.  With a win, the Blues would have had 66 points and a point more than the Wings.   With the loss they received a 3 point deficit in the Central and a 4th place seating after midnight’s viewing of The NHL network daily action.

Mike Matheny will be a quality manager in MLB.   You heard it here third but mark my words  I like his approach.   Matheny has a hands on approach when teaching, and that’s a HANDS ON as in distributing knowledge and not HANDS ON as in Jerry Sandusky.   Matheny has something every manager and coach in the pros wishes to attain and that’s respect.

GOP Candidates falling off the board like flies and there’s one reason.  Rick Perry is the latest and here is why.   Politics is a deadly game that makes ambitious souls pay a toll and give a piece of themselves most aren’t willing to sacrifice.

Haywire is a great movie because it is blazing and alert.   Steven Soderbergh’s action thrill ride has one idea on the mind and that’s authentic in your face action scenes mixed with spy espionage and drama.   MMA figher and model Gina Carino makes a fine debut here as Mallory Kane, a CIA ghost forced to kill her way to freedom when her agency betrays her and goes for her head.   Kane goes on the run and the beauty is in the eye of the action scenes here.   Haywire is crafted from the same brain that put Jason Bourne’s journey together, but here the authenticity pays off big.   Matt Damon had to learn a martial art and work for months to attain a certain speed.   Carino already has the speed and instant credibility during the action scenes and can act as well.   The supporting cast here is surprisingly game.   Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor just to name a few.   Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender are two of the assassins who take a run at Kane and the result are two of the greatest cinematic action creations in recent years.   The key is both fights start quiet.  The films opens as  Tatum meets Kane in a diner, attempts to make nice before coffee is tossed into the face and the two engage in a brutal beat down that ignites a story that runs through Barcelona, Dublin and New York.  The second fight, between Kane and Fassbender’s Paul, is a slow devil dance between two killers.   Paul, masquerading as Kane’s partner, walks her back to a hotel room before they sand their fists with human flesh.  Haywire is an energetic spark plug of a film.   Please don’t come looking for a vast story with underlying morals.  This is a shoot em up thriller with genuine talent and small moments of emotion.  Mallory Kane was wronged and she will seek her freedom with a side order of vengeance.   Haywire is the first great film of 2012 because it’s quiet and patient with its action and easy going with the storytelling. The hook is Carino and her brutally honest portrayal of a betrayed soul looking for revenge.   She is the real deal and a big reason Haywire works.   Kudos to Len Dobbs no nonsense script and Soderbergh’s “go ahead and make my day” direction as well as the 93 minute running time.

The Rams hiring of Gregg Williams and Brian Schottenheimer as defensive and offensive coordinator, respectively, continues the buzz around Rams Park.   These are solid inspiring moves that signal a change in the direction.   The hiring of Williams and Schotty Jr. mean one thing.  The Rams are hiring people who come from an environment where a Super Bowl championship is the preseason goal.   There will be no cuddling and pre school sessions this season.  Class is in session and the firing line is set.  Williams won a Super Bowl in New Orleans and Schottenheimer chased one in New York with the Jets.  Stan Kroneke is making his move and I don’t think it is to London.   The Rams signing up to play 3 games in Europe doesn’t mean Stan is moving the team.   Here’s one small assurance.   Fisher went through the turmoil in Houston when the Oilers were moved to Tennessee and he wouldn’t go through that again.  He signed a 6 year deal that runs through 2017.  While we ponder the chances, 2012 is looking better and better.  Now the goal is find these seasoned minds some players to insert into the game plans and schemes and win games with.  First matter of business. Find Sam Bradford a toy to play with in the wide receiver game.

Understand my coffee fascination.   Nearly every night, my home turns into the Buffa Brew house.  I take out my weapons of caffeine aided destruction.   I set up the french press, which distills the least amount of water into and from your coffee for a strong blend.   I brew 2 shots of espresso to go with it, and steam a little milk to put on top of the  gunpowder blended coffee treat. In other words, I don’t fuck around.   I need coffee.  Its my juice.  Every morning before work and every night after I leave work.   Its my gas station.   A cheap addiction.

Give Joe Paterno’s legacy a break people.   Everybody makes mistakes and live to regret them.   Paterno made one oversight and lost his job due to it and saw his school clouded in embarrassment and shame. He didn’t join in the evil doings of Jerry Sandusky.   He basically transferred responsibility.   That is no reason to forget what he did at Penn State.  He won over 400 games, coaches for 60 years there and won a few National Championships.   After 2004 and 2005 when Penn State had bad seasons and he was urged to retire, he stayed and went to the Orange Bowl and won another BCS title.  Paterno endured every kind of obstacle in life and achieved every goal.   He fell victim to inaction but his legacy can’t be tarnished.   Before you jump his grave, ask yourself this.  What would you have done?  Joe’s a legend in my book.

Ryan Braun, on the other hand, can suck it real hard.   Until proven innocent, he cheated, laid an asterisk next to his 2011 MVP and with the departure of Prince Fielder, ruins the Brewers reputation.   He used illegal steroids, got caught and will sit out 50 games.   Mr. Showman gets to take a seat.  Lets not ease up on him because…wait for it…he didn’t know.  He knew exactly what he was doing.

I love Liam Neeson and the way he is reinventing his career.  The man knows how to pick roles and serve a purpose in film.  After many years of misses, he came back in 2005 with Batman Begins, playing a teacher turned villain  and then exploded with Taken, an international action thriller gut shot that gave him his first leading star hit of his career.  Then…he lost his wife to a terrible skiing accident.   Afterwards, all he has done is continue to kick ass in action films and thrillers like A-Team, Unknown and starting this weekend, The Grey.   Neeson plays a security detail attached to a crew of oil drillers whose plane gets stranded in Alaska.   The group think the conditions are dire until they encounter the real enemy, loud angry wolves.  Neeson is a statue of action hero authenticity.  There isn’t one shred of you that doubts the man’s abilities in a role.   All he has done in his career is taken every kind of role.   Drama lead in Schneider’s List.  Romantic supporting part in Love Actually.   Action lead in Rob Roy, Taken, and Unknown.   He is the most convincing aging action star out there that you beg for him to do more films.  He is in demand.

Long Live Justified on Tuesdays.   The FX drama keeps on shooting straight with an episode that raises more issues for Raylan Givens(Timothy Olyphant).   An old flame comes back into his life in the form of a CIA agent(the lovely Carla Gugino).  She compounds Givens’ problems.  He already has a pregnant woman in Fiona, an old nemesis in Boyd Crowder mixing things up, and a new bad guy in town in a mobster from Detroit(Neal McDouraugh).   He is also recovering from a bullet wound that has hindered his aim.   Season 3 promises many new challenges for our favorite lawman.  Olyphant is so good in the lead role that you nearly forget you’re watching the same guy who wavered in cinema for 15 years.

Song of the Day-The Antlers performing “Kettering”

This atmospheric instrumental slow boiling rocker will quietly move down your spine and rush into your heart by midway.   Good stuff for A Tuesday.

The tune comes from the new HBO special, On Freddie Roach, a documentary series from director Peter Berg on the legendary boxing trainer who keeps on training some of the top fighters in boxing while suffering from Parkinson’s.   His punchers include Manny Pacpuiao, Amir Khan, and Julio Caesar Chavez Jr..   Roach is a former fighter who has lived with the disease most of his life and isn’t missing a beat.   He triumphantly maintains every duty of a trainer, including putting the mitts on and going toe to toe with his younger fighters.   Berg’s series on him is an open dedication to a man who inspires the bleakest of conditions to rise up and live their lives as if nothing is wrong at all.   Roach is the classic fighter that will NEVER go down and his words on how he will die leave a mark.  The man is a potent combination of will and determination.

“If I die using the mitts in the ring, so be it.  I don’t want the fighter to be fucking mad.  I will tell him I had it coming.”-Roach

Smaller Things-

*Once again, pull back the 1.7 arbitration offer to Jason Motte and offer him 2 years at 2 million apiece.   Low liability there.  With his performance in last years run, he earned the dough.

*I expect Skip to get challenged by Tyler Greene but the question is can Greene hit MLB pitching.  My answer is no.

*Albert Pujols won’t be the kind of legend in LA that he was in St. Louis.   Plain and simple.  He gave up more than he knew when he left this city.  Icon status.  I respect his work here in 11 yrs but I am severely disappointed in his decision to chase more cash and then cry about it like he was disrespected.   A real shame.

*Why can the Giants win the Super Bowl?  Tell me why not.

*Working out is as much a mental battle as it is physical.   Being at peace with your body is vital in this life.  If not, strive to change things.  We are what we are in this world.  Stop crying about the weight and lose it.

*Watching Wings and Blues brawl at end of a downer and let me tell you. If I was out there, I would be accused of murder. No retreat, no letup, no stopping the aggression. They would escort me from the building for damage done.

*Bruno Mars sucks big time. NO NO, he does people. Every time I hear his song on the radio, I feel like breaking his neck, snapping my radio in half or sending a Black Key over to his house to teach what real music is like.

*Dying happy should have little to do with regret or envy and everything to do with satisfaction.   Be glad where you end up and not where you didn’t go.

I have run out of things to discuss.  There’s a reason behind these words and I hope you got the message.  If not, better luck next time.   All I know is I work in 6 hours and I need some sleep.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

 

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The Buffa Machine Is On

Hello all,

After a week away dealing with elevated work hours and quick nights, I am back and ready to bring the noise once again.  The Buffa Machine has been turned on.   A few things to talk about before the night dies and the new morning begins.    A stream of consciousness begins now.

The Jeff Fisher hiring in Rams Land

I like this hire for a number of reasons.  Fisher was the best candidate on the market and brings instant credibility to the franchise.   His name will have an effect on free agents decisions, opposition game plan and the overall urge from the fanbase.   Its something to be excited about because for the first time since Dick Vermeil walked into St. Louis in 1997, the Rams have a head coach with legitimate head coaching experience.  Fisher has been around for awhile and coached for 16 seasons before taking a breather in 2011 after dealing with the childish Vince Young in Tennessee.  Fisher’s Titans came within 1 yard of sending the Super Bowl in 1999 to overtime, something Rams fans will never forget.  Steve McNair eluding Kevin Carter and D’Marco Farr as he threw the fateful pass to Kevin Dyson who ran into a brick wall in Mike Jones in front of the promise land.  One word associated with Fisher is grit.   The man is a hard nosed enforcer who doesn’t take no for an answer and will transform this team into a physically threatening team.   He is a demanding coach and not a young mind learning on the job like previous coordinators turned coaches in St. Louis.  If anybody wants to gripe about Rams job, tell me how much reason there was to hire another coordinator?  The franchise had been through Mike Martz, Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett and Steve Spagnuolo before finally deciding to throw their hat into the big boy’s ring and nab a real deal leader like Jeff Fisher.   I know this doesn’t translate into instant on field performance, but I am more excited about the draft, the new season and the future.  I will talk later about the future of the Rams in St. Louis, but for the next 3 seasons, Rams football will be different.  Fisher will bring in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from New Orleans, a man known for his hard blitzing style and “go get the quarterback” history of schemes.  The offensive coordinator spot looks to go to former Oakland coach Hue Jackson or former Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer, both of which I would be excited to see land in St. Louis.  Schotty Jr. likes a ground and pound style with subjective QB play and Jackson is a split pass/rush kind of playcaller.   The idea here is new and fresh.  When Stan Kroneke pulled the trigger and went hard after Fisher, he was telling the Rams fanbase he was serious about turning this team around and pulling them out of the NFL gutter.  With the hiring, there is instant buzz around the league.   Take in consideration that the 2012 schedule can’t be as tough as last season’s schedule and I like the Rams chances of winning 5-7 games the coming year.  If the right moves are made and the Rams draft smart and focus on players and not positions(key words here are Justin Blackmon at wide receiver), the Rams can turn it around.  Recovery time is quick in football.  A new coach, couple new players, new system and pow, you have liftoff.  I am being optimistic.  Its my decision to be optimistic.  The hiring of Fisher has me invested deeper in this team.  They are in it for the long haul.   Any doubt left in the street after the Spags firing and immediate cloud of negativity of the 2-14 season is gone now.  There is work to be done but the right men are moving in to get it done.  A quick to do list.

-HAVE A GOOD DRAFT.  A sour spot for the team in the past 5 years is having shitty drafts overall.   Make some smarter player evaluations and take a chance on a kid.   4 of the 8 draft picks in 2011 are gone and that’s a bad sign for a rebuilding team.   The Rams were too old in 2011 and need to get younger.  That starts with a healthy draft.  Look at Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State long and hard because the kid has freakish skills and could change the outlook of the offense right away.  Blackmon is a big tall receiver with catching ability few prospects have so I want him to slide into the team’s plans with the # 2 pick.  If trading the pick means getting Blackmon and other high picks, do it.  Just don’t let the big pick go for a variety of lesser players.

(One four shot latte, homemade, brought my desk by my lovely wife Rachel.   This is a gunpowder midday treat).

-Look at the free agent market.   The linebacker crew and secondary can use some work as well as FA wide receivers like DeSean Jackson and Dwayne Bowe.   Stan will put forth the money and invest in this new look Rams team, so the new GM(whenever he shows up) needs to be creative and proactive with the cash and power this team up quick.  Stick in a tough outside linebacker and beef up the secondary.  The return of Ron Bartell will help.   Williams will utilize Chris Long, Robert Quinn and James Hall on the line but the secondary needs support.  The Wide receiver is thin outside of the return of Danny Amendola, a third down specialist.  Look for an impact move there if they go elsewhere in the draft.  Fisher will formulate a plan here and get his team together.

-Fisher’s  6 year deal worth 6.5 million per year is the going rate for veteran proven head coaches in 2012.   It sounds high but it is actually not.

-Steven Jackson won’t pound and grind out 1,000 yard seasons forever.  The Rams must think about drafting a running back or trading for one.  The failure to secure Darren Sproles when he was available last offseason really came back to haunt the Rams and they have to pull the trigger this time on someone not named Cadillac Williams and Jerius Norwood, who brought in plenty of hype and either weren’t used or didn’t perform well up to their needs.  Jackson is going to wear down and holds trade value.   This is the creative divisions deal but if the right deal came forth, trading Jackson while his value is high would be a steal for this team if the receiving package was juicy enough.  Think of it as a reward for each side.  Jackson going to a winning team and the Rams getting a brighter future.

That’s enough Rams talk.  The hiring of Fisher changes things and along with guys like Gregg Williams, he will cut his own squad of killers.  Rams football after 2014 in St. Louis carries more hope now than it did a week ago.  That is for sure.

What is going to happen to this team after 2014?  The hell if I know my friends.  I will tell you this.  Don’t doubt Stan Kroneke too much.  The guy has invested more money than you think in the Rams and this city.   Back in 1993, after the Rams failed to get an expansion bid, Stan bought 40 percent of the team and that fired up the move to St. Louis in 1994.  Without Stan’s investment, The Rams aren’t playing football here today and there was no Super Bowl won in this town.   Stan made a risky bold bid to finally buy the team outright two years ago and I don’t think he is going to move it out of town so quickly.   The city council and committee is going to present a bid and plan to Kroneke and the Rams by February 1st to fix the Dome and put it back in the top 25 percentile of stadiums in the NFL.  That is where it has to be in order to renew its lease here past 2014.  That is the end game.  Will Stan keep the team here or take it back to LA or in a crazy turn of events, across the ocean to London.  Stan is a smart businessman and that comes from knowing how to approach the future waves coming into the present setup.  Part of being a crafty moneymaker is taking the hits and learning from the incoming signs.   Kroneke isn’t going to set out to move this team out of town, and will only do it if the positive dollar forces his hand.  Love or hate the guy but its all business and not personal.  Fans start hating owners for the wrong reasons and this is a center point example of the rage.   Fans calling into radio stations complaining about Stan not giving them anything as far as a clue about the future.  Let me ask that person this.  What does he have to gain by presenting a false euphoria?  He would shoot himself in the foot by saying the wrong thing right now.  He is playing it close to the chest and that can be taken as a sign that he is taking this very seriously and doing what is best for the city and himself.  He gave up a franchise in Colorado to be able to buy the Rams, and he isn’t going to move out of a town he has worked in for nearly 20 years.  Stay calm and wait for real news.

How about those Blues?  You know, the hockey team that plays on 14th and Clark?

Part of the Blues recovery in the past 4 seasons has been off the ice as well as on it.  Gaining back the trust and approval of their wickedly passionate fanbase.   The transition from the Old Barn Arena to Kiel/Scottrade had its bumps and bruises, and then the team and league went dark in 2005.   Since the return, the Blues have struggled to maintain a sense of real belonging and fallen second to the Cardinals and at times third behind the Rams.  When a franchise hasn’t won a Stanley Cup and teeters on the edge of oblivion for a few years, this is the product.  However, this season the Blues are doing things they haven’t done in years.  Winning with command and consistency in December and January.   Under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues are 20-5-6 and are a point out of the top spot in the NHL.   That’s right, the Blues are 1 point behind the New York Rangers for the top spot and involved in a four team dogfight in the Central Division with Detroit, Chicago and Nashville.   The results aren’t simply in the record and conference standings.  Watching this team play is an invigorating experience.   They play 60 minutes and go north to south on the ice in a way I haven’t seen in a long time.  Every player is making something happen and going after it.   4th line grinders are scoring goals and delivering at each end of the ice.  The Blues have a captain in David Backes that completely fits the role.    The young gun line(Perron, Oshie, Berglund, Petrangelo) are finally coming into their own as hockey players.  The defense is holding the opposition to few shots on goal.  The two goalie tandem of Brian Elliot and Jaro Halak is stronger than ever.   Hitchcock’s methods are still working and producing results. Everything is falling into place for this team and at the right time.   For weeks, I have questioned their ability to keep the tempo and for good reason.  The Blues routinely fall apart in the new year.  Last January, the season was sealed with a 2-8 record.   This month, the team is 6-0-1 and surging to the top of the division.  This Blues team isn’t letting the Red Wings and Hawks run away with it.  They are sticking their skate into their backs and applying pressure and I like it.   I don’t think this team is going to die off.  Wait until Alex Steen and Andy Mcdonald return from concussion related injuries.   The firepower and skill level of this team can only get higher.   The amazing thing is, with the exception of Elliot, this is the same team from last season doing these incredible things.   The Blues are still averaging only around 2.5 goals per game, but they aren’t allowing any goals in the 3rd period.  When they lead after 2 periods, they seem to lock down the game right there instead of give it away.  Here are some other Blues clues.

-They have shut out the opposing team 3 out of the past 5 games.    Halak has two shutouts in his last 3 starts.   The entire team is pitching into the shutout efforts.  The defense is controlling the middle of the ice and making players take shots from outside the box.   Halak and Elliot aren’t being screened or covered up.  They are seeing shots and making key saves.

-The Blues finally won a shootout this past week against the Minnesota Wild on a goal from Shattenkirk.   This was the only sour point of the Hitch Era and was their first shootout win of the season.

-Halak’s play has powered the recent surge of the Blues winning 5 of their past 6 games, the only loss being a close hard fought overtime loss to top Western conference seed Vancouver.    Jaro Halak has turned his season around and responded well to the change behind bench.   He got pressure from Elliot and confidence from Hitchcock and has resurrected his career here in St. Louis.  The Slovakian stopper struggled last season in his first full season of duty but is taking 2011-2012 in stride and only getting better with each start.  He returned to Montreal last week and shut out the Habs in front of his old fanbase and garnered a very classy standing ovation after the game in which he skated around twice after the game because the cheers wouldn’t stop.  Since then, he has been lights out in the net.   Halak’s main problem was reaction speed in net and he is doing so well on rebounds lately.   He is stopping tough shots and giving his team confidence and a fighting chance.   I said it in September.   The Blues long term success rate depended on Halak’s play.  Early on, it was tough because Elliot was outplaying Halak and that isn’t the right order of things.  Every Stanley Cup Champion has that one solid leader in net and Halak is turning into that guy here with strong support from Elliot.

-David “Freight Train” Backes is a force to be reckoned with.   The man has 14 goals and plays every minute harder than anyone and delivers the most excruciating hits in each zone.  He is underrated on defense and powers to the net better than most on the offensive end.   After a down year, it is great to see the new captain take a hold of the leader role and deliver on the ice as well.

-T.J. Oshie’s game has taken the most effect from the Hitchcock Trails.   When he is working well, Oshie’s game is outside the box and takes over the entire ice space.   A north to south missile attack that doesn’t let up.  Did you see blues winner on Monday night? Phenomenal. I’ll spin it for you quick. Petro feeds Oshie an outlet pass, Oshie takes cross blue line, drops it for Perron, heads to the net while DP heads down right wing and Perron feeds him a floater right on net. Oshie takes the pass on backhand, switches to forehand, dekes Lehtonen, slams it home while getting clobbered. Oshie being Oshie. Beautiiiifuuullll! That’s a one goal shutout closer to remember.  The score was highlight reel good and reminds everyone just how special and talented Oshie can be.  He is a man on a mission in 2012 because he is playing for a new contract after a one year deal from the Blues served as a needed push to his skill set.   Oshie is a plus 14 since Hitch’s arrival and has been on fire for weeks.   I only expect it to get better.

Moving on to the NFL playoff action from last weekend.  After a rousing first weekend of football that saw comebacks and unexpected developments hit, the harsh reality of NFL playoff action hit during the second round and brought its own surprise.

Baltimore beat Houston straight up with defense.   After scoring 20 points in the first quarter, the Ravens defense shut down Tyler Yates, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson for the next 3 quarters and held on 20-17 to advance.  In the “boring” game of the weekend, the Balty crew stonewalled any opportunity given to Houston.   Joe Flacco didn’t beat the Texans.   Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, and Terrell Suggs beat the Texans.   Shutdown defense helped Baltimore win a trophy in 2002 so I wasn’t surprised.

New England clobbered Tim Tebow and the Broncos by 4 touchdowns.  Look, I never said the kid was going to walk into Foxboro and take down the Brady Machine.  It was right next to impossible.  Tebow never got loose, played with a rib and lung injury and was shut down by a surprisingly effective Pats defense.    They played with a 2 touchdown lead for nearly the entire game, so stopping Tebow was rather easy.   He didn’t throw well,  saw his running lanes shut down and only had one decent drive the entire game.  However, remember folks,  Tebow doesn’t play defense my friends.  SO MANY PEOPLE jumped on Tebow after the game, mocking his kneel and throwing him into the grinder.  The Broncos defense gave up 45 points.  Not Tim Tebow.  He didn’t play well but when Tom Brady is carving your defense up like turkey dinner, its easy to look rattled.   Tom Brady and company rolled easily through the Broncos and will look for revenge from 2009 when they face the Ravens this week.

Tim Tebow side section-I don’t understand the hatred towards this young man.    I am a fan, but I don’t get the hate part of the equation here.  I am the farthest thing from religious and don’t love his GOD outpouring of love, but respect him for being a great guy and a man who gives back plenty to his community.   The man builds hospitals, helps out under privileged kids and does a lot of good off the field but he is hated for a reason that stems deeper than religion.  His future in the NFL is debatable and he still needs to prove he can be a legitimate NFL quarterback in 2012.  His talent level is negotiable but his drive, effort and good nature isn’t up for discussion.   He is good for football.  He is something different.  You can’t deny the effect he had in Denver.  He took a 1-4 team and took them to the playoffs and won a game, knocking out the reigning AFC champs in Pittsburgh.   He has a lot to improve but the job is his in 2012 to lose.  I just don’t like the straight up hatred towards him.  Its a telling trait of our society to rise against Tebow.   Hate his football all you want.  Just stop hating the man.   More than anything, I think people are afraid of his potential in the NFL.  What if he becomes a better passer?  Oh shit…

The 49ers shocked the world first and beat the Saints in an outcome I wasn’t too surprised with even though I loved Drew Brees’ dominance the past month of the season.  Everything changes in the playoffs and anything can happen.  The 49ers got home field advantage and defeated the Saints by limiting their weapons.  There is NO way to shut down the New Orleans 6 WR/3 RB attack but you can limit it with good linebacker work and a decent pass rush.   The grass field slowed down the Brees passing attack and the emergence of Alex Smith from the land of “dumb and plain bad first round draft picks” continued as he threw the game winning touchdown with under a minute left.   Smith had been the Trent Dilfer of QB’s all season.   Complete passing plays of 15 yards or less, don’t make mistakes and give way to the Frank Gore running machine.  On Saturday, Smith stepped up and made believers of everyone.  He is a dangerous man and along with Vernon Davis, took down the New Orleans Saints.

My pick of the week was the New York Giants taking down the Packers.  NO ONE BOUGHT MY PREDICTION.    Truck drivers, gym rats, random folks, and not even the Pope himself.   Mother Teresa gave me points but that doesn’t count.   The supposedly unbeatable Packers(except for that Chiefs debacle) had a big weakness in bringing the worst defense in the NFL into a game with the hottest team in football.  The Giants are doing exactly what they did in 2007.   Get hot late and sustain it through the playoffs.   Eli Manning played a near flawless game and outplayed the beloved Aaron Rodgers.    Manning took down the redemption seeking Brett Favre in Lambeau in 2007 in an overtime shootout that I remember well.   Manning walked back into Cheesehead Nation and took down their new king.  The Packers will not repeat as champs and the Giants look more dangerous than ever.   That just happened, Green Bay.   The beast is gone.  What lies in return is a potential rematch of the 2007 upset game between New York and the Patriots.   The day Spagnuolo broke the vault and got to the Brady Machine. The Day Eli made his name and put Tom on hold.  The Day something new happened.  The day the dynasty died in Bean town.    The Giants took down the Packers and set the stage for a big time matchup this weekend with the 49ers and possibly, a return to the field against New England.

My heart to heart picks right now are the Patriots piling enough offense on Baltimore to earn a trip to the Super Bowl and the Giants barely getting by the 49ers in overtime on a field goal to reach the final match and set up the rematch of 2007’s back and forth battle.

Quick Notes

-Congress wants to limit our internet reach and continue to invade our privacy.   There’s something not right there.    What is so wrong with people researching things on the internet?  Its not our fault the random kid tries to find out how to make a bomb, buy a gun or do harm to others through internet exposure and pressure.   We shouldn’t lose our rights of freedom on the net for that.

-The weather needs to make up its mind quick.   Low 20s and chilly or upper 50s and cool?  The human body can only take so many weather changes.

-Modot failing to clear the streets in time for the morning rush last week wasn’t a huge surprise.   Weather crews in St. Louis are known for being slow to act.   Snow and cold weather are a beast to defeat and Modot fucking up in their first dry run of the season is no surprise.   The more threatening thing is watching people react by driving like absolute morons.  The necessary reaction isn’t suspending all knowledge of road rules.    Driving very slow and taking turns at 2 mph won’t increase your chances of making it to your destination.  This is where people should have their license suspended during bad weather.   Have an officer make their way to doors and collect their driving IDs for the day.  Everything would be better.  Remember, people cause accidents and not bad weather.

-I carry zero desire to get into the Presidential race this year as of this moment.  I got into with Obama/McCain and looking at the result, I can tell you I only will dip my interest in when a candidate shows himself.   Ron Paul is intriguing but…all politicians are full of wicked hot shit.  It’s their job to play a joker and show a poker face but it doesn’t mean I like it.   I’m doing the nod and whatever thing when politics come into my conversational grasp these days.

Back to Topics Breaking into My Brain

Justified Returns with a Vengeance on Tuesday

The FX Modern western gem with Timothy Olyphant’s renegade Marshall Raylan Givens returned to the airwaves with its third season this week and the first episode, titled “Gunfighter” centered our wounded hero in the middle of another storm.   Starting the season at a deficit with a healing gunshot wound taken in at the end of Season 2, Raylan is struggling to sit at a desk when he is dragged into the appearance of a Detroit mobster(the always evil Neal McDourough) and old hounds in Boyd Crowder(the simply amazing Walter Goggins) and local mischief master Duffy.    Raylan surrounds himself with every kind of scum on this earth and spends the next 12 hours whirling and twirling his way out of a mess.   He finds his aim is off on his shooting and makes contact with a deadly man in an elevator that leads to a showdown at hour’s end that reminds me of how good this show is.  The greatness comes in the patience it takes in potential explosive gun battles.  Raylan, wounded, sitting at a motel table with his woman Fiona(Natalie Zea) at his side and facing down a killer set on taking Givens down is pure juice.   The payoff comes as expected but the table is set for another great season.  Justified has become the reliable hour of entertainment one searches for their whole life.  Expected greatness.   Throughout the whole series, the baddies have been memorable but Olyphant’s steady presence and cool headed appeal sets the tone here always.  He is the rock.

Puncture Movie Review

The true story of two Houston lawyers going up against pharmaceutical companies in the use of dangerous contaminated needles in hospitals is center stage in this indie drama.   Chris Evans is a standout as Mike Weiss, a drug addict/brilliant lawyer who takes the case of a nurse who stuck by a contaminated needle on the job who develops AIDS and wants hospitals to use a new safety needle that ejects the blade after every use.  A one shot needle basically.  Weiss and his partner, Paul Danzinger(co-director Mark Kassen) take the case and run head on with a company who wants to squash the safety needle product and keep their investors and primary profitable operation moving along without pause.   This is a low flying powerful entertainment that rests entirely on Evans’ broad shoulders.  After taking the country by storm portraying Captain America this summer, Evans blows me away here as Weiss, a tragic figure who is trying to keep his demons at bay and fight the good fight.   Evans has put together a long career consisting mostly of action, comedy and thrillers.   This is his first foray into lead power role.   Weiss is the perfect match.  A guy who was addicted to every horrible drug but was great at what he did.  The two lawyers run into walls along their way but the tale here is spun with a few twists and ends on a solid note.  Puncture is a successful true story telling vehicle in that it doesn’t strip any parts of the real tale away and only enhances it with great actors and a game plan that packs a punch in its understated approach.

Albert Pujols Declines the White House

This may be a feeble issue to some, but to me it is a big slap in the face of an organization.   The St. Louis Cardinals visited the White House this week in the annual tour of Champions visiting the White House, and Pujols declined to visit.   Why not?  He isn’t doing anything extremely important in STL or LA right now and owed it to his teammates to show up and join them in their celebration of the 2011 miracle season.   Pujols participated in the run to the World Series and should have showed up.  This only deepens the new found awkward resentment towards the Pujols camp in St. Louis.  A guy who once pledged to stay, decided to leave, stopped to make excuses and whine afterwards and now must find it too weird to share a room with a club he spent 11 seasons with.   What happened to Albert Pujols?  The man who I thought was honorable and worth defending and engaging upon has turned into a different person in the span of 3 months.   I take it as an insult.

Haywire Appeal

There’s something about Steven Soderbergh’s new action thriller, Haywire, that has me hooked.  Say hello to the female version of Jason Bourne.  The tagline of the poster says it all.  “They left her no choice.”  Asskicking included here.   It gives off the vibe of a carefree asskicking action thrill ride with little regret or worry for the safe appeal.   Haywire centers on special ops soldier Mallory Kane,(real life MMA fighter Gina Carino) who is casted out by every known killer in the world and must fight/shoot/stab/kick her way to freedom.   The film gathers all of Soderbergh’s film cronies, such as Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas along with newcomers Channing Tatum and one of the most promising breakout actors from 2011, Michael Fassbender.  Carino and Fassbender’s hotel room fight in the trailer sells me right away.  A calm meeting turns into a smashmouth realistic blood spurting display of physicality spun around a fight to the death.   It hooks you right there.  Carino is the perfect female action star.  She is dark haired sexy, tough, built but not disgusting or overpoweringly imposing.  She has a sweet smile and composure, but can turn on a dime and beat you to a pulp.   Soderbergh has proclaimed he loves to kill off movie stars and right here, he won’t disappoint.   Here is the trailer.

The Random Takes-

*The Texas Rangers made a bad sign today when they handed 60 guaranteed million to Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, a guy who hasn’t recorded one single out in the majors. It is absolutely absurd to hand this kind of money to a player with zero experience.  The 6 year contract could net Darvish 111 million dollars.  The Rangers will invest 100 plus in this kid but won’t hand 120 million plus to Prince Fielder.  That’s crazy.   Fielder is the perfect fit for Texas and can transition to a DH in 5-6 years.  That won’t happen now.

*The Cardinals Winter Warmup is a great way to raise money for charity but I rarely take it in downtown.  I have nothing against it but its one of those things that I just haven’t gotten into.   The question and answer sessions are the best and yield surprisingly honest answers.

*The Blues giving Brian Elliot a 2 year extension is a rewarding sign for the player and organization.  For the first time in years(familiar saying with Blues these days), the Blues have a solid starter and backup in place for the next 2-3 seasons.   Elliot has been quietly dominating all season long when he gets the chance.  With Halak playing better, he will only have to fight harder for a start.  Allow me to roll down Elliot’s accomplishments in 2011-2012.   He is 15-5-1 with a .938 save percentage and 1.68 goal against average.  He owns 5 shutouts in 20 starts, which is a ridiculous statistic.   A comparison.  In 2009-2010 with the Ottawa Senators, Elliot had 5 shutouts as well….in 55 games, more than double his amount this season.   Elliot’s season is a good story and reality that goalies can hit their stride at anytime in their career.  The Blues investment is under 4 million for 2 seasons, an amount good for the player and team.

*I commend Bill DeWitt III and John Mozelaik’s straight forward questions to fans questions about Albert Pujols and the situation.   Mo and DeWitt didn’t pull any punches or make any excuses.  They basically said they stretched themselves for Albert and he declined to accept their invitation to ride off into the sunset together.   A month after the decision, the Mozelaik/DeWitt III side is still the warmer end of the spectrum.

*Situations at my workplace may change but my commitment and effort won’t go down during the busiest time of the year.   The passion and strive to do anything for the job will start to go down though.  Immediate effect of a future with a possible unfortunate end.

*Song of the Day-The Lengths by The Black Keys.   Laidback, groovy, easy listening blues rock delight from the masters of modern day tough rock.   Today I received my tickets to the Keys concert at Chaifetz Arena on April 27th, so coupled with their everyday dominance in my music world, this was good enough reason to lay down this track.   It is part of the 22 song mix I made that could sub as a playlist for this two man wrecking crew that has taken over the musical world long after it made its first great blues album.    Similiar to the Kings of Leon, the Black Keys bloomed late but have risen quite high.

*Cardinals Rant.  With spring training a month away, here is a few things about the team developing in the past couple weeks.   One long winded rant.   The signing of Kyle McClellan isn’t one I felt was necessary to grow as a bullpen but its expected.   An arm ruined by constant change from pen hand to starter comes back for 2.5 million to a group already stocked with righthanders like Jason Motte, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, and Eduardo Sanchez.   McClellan looks like damaged goods and had a horrible end to his 2011 season and was left off the postseason roster.   Daniel Descalso can easily fill Nick Punto’s infield versatility role for less than half the price.  DD is as solid in the field and carries a quality bench bat as well.   Skip Schumacher will have to fight off light hitting Tyler Greene at second base even though Rafael Furcal’s inability to stay healthy will provide playing time.   David Freese staying humble is no surprise.  The hometown kid knows where fortune has taken him.   Lance Berkman needs to grow the March-April beard and get rid of the smooth faced criminal visual.  Seeing Carpenter and Wainwright dance inside the same rotation will provide fireworks early and often.  Matt Holliday is doing his part in coming on radio stations and getting into the public eye more.  Today, he offered to find Freese a girlfriend on the radio.   Holliday was uniquely hurt in 2011 but still provided when he played.  People forget that when they see his stats even though it includes 38 missed starts.  His season ended coldly in October but his small ball plays in the World Series were difference makers.  Jon Jay is approaching a big season to solidify himself in the lineup and will battle Allen Craig for playing time in right field and back up the fragile Carlos Beltran in center field.   If Beltran stays healthy, the Cards have 4 good outfielders.   The Cards are ready for the injury bug to bite and most of the backup is Memphis based.  Breakout player of the year in 2012 is Jason Motte.  A full season in the closer role and picking up right where he left off in October, blowing away Phillies, Brewers and Rangers bats with a new found ease.

*Who has a better year?  Albert Pujols in Los Angeles or Prince Fielder in Washington or Texas?  I expect Pujols to have first year jitters and finish strong again to have a decent AP season.  Watch out for a torrid 2013 season, where AP hits 50 homers and drives 120 plus runs.  Once Pujols gets adjusted, he will still thrive.    Fielder will put up great numbers wherever he goes but the smart and necessary play is lesser years and more money.

*God Rant.  Today I engaged in another god/reality showdown with a co-worker and got the best of him as usual.  It’s easy when logic rides with your words.  My co-worker, an ex addict turned born again fellow who supposedly “walks with GOD” tried to convince me the lord was real and I quickly pounded him into submission with facts, jokes, one liners, six liners and all kinds of shut the fuck up juice.  Listen, here is my take.   For all the religion buffs out there, let me ask you a question.  Where is your reference point?  How do we know your guy is real?  Why is he a guy in the first place?  How do we know?  That is my main beef.  I believe in what I see and I can’t see GOD, therefore I don’t believe in him.  If there is no proof, there is no existence my friends.   Where is the reference point?  The only way we know of GOD is by being told about him and/or reading about him in the best selling novel called the bible.  Therefore, he isn’t real.  There is ZERO PROOF.  If so, tell me.  If you walk with the lord, why can’t I see him?  Its the religious buffs who pound it down our throats everyday(worse than Tebow) that cause me to fire back logical explanations here.  I don’t have to say sorry for saying this either.  Its my fucking blog!!   Please don’t answer the question with “I just know”.  That isn’t a good enough answer to base your argument off of with me in the heat of battle.

*I still think about Meme on occasion.  At least once a week and for extended periods consisting of minutes.   From time to time, I get hit with a wave of memory and think to myself, “is she really gone?”   The uncomfortable realization that she is never coming back and will never ask me another question is still fresh and painful nearly a month later.  When does it go away?  Never.   Meme will continue to pop up in my mind from time to time and that is a good thing.  Some wounds never get stitched close.  They lie open and fester on your brain.  I am thinking of getting Meme’s name and date of birth and death tattooed on my upper arm because it is something worth looking at everyday and will never become a waste of space on my body.   I will never forget that lady and everything in my life has a different feel and vibe without her in it.

This rant is finished.   The unfolding seminar of material has ran its course and this freight train of information is coming to a halt.   My hope is that this information stimulated you in a way few things do and that it will give you a slight and/or small lift on a regular Wednesday evening.  My needs have been met and soon enough, I will come back again with more to spill and carry the desire to inform.  For now, I am done.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

PS.-Here’s another trailer.  Don’t ask me why, but please watch it.   Its got Robert DeNiro in a juicy well needed role as a famous writer who reconnects with his son in a shelter after 19 years apart.  Paul Dano plays his son who is also a writer but is pushing his way through lies, deceit and massive deception.   I love these kind of tales about father and son reluctantly being thrown together to see if there is a beating heart in their bloodline.

“Life is gathering material.   Writers, typically poets, are particularly prone to madness.  I don’t care how good of a writer you are, you can’t kill someone with words.”-Flynn(Robert DeNiro)

 

 

 

The Name of the Game

As I roll into one of the best films of the year, Moneyball, I will unload the latest firing squad of material.    Cut the shit, avoid the glaze and get to the material.   That’s what people come here for.  The goods.  Let’s get to it.

Spags Is Fired

Seen coming from a mile away, The Rams Head Coach was fired mere hours after I wrote about it in a blog early Monday morning.   This wasn’t a surprise.  He compiled a record of 10-38 in his three seasons, taking a huge step back this season in a 2-14 season marred by bad penalties, injury, underachieving quarterback play and a downright ugly brand of football.  The Rams were horrible, and sports rules call for a coach to fall on the sword.   The real reason Spags lost his job was he lost the guts and determination to try new things and go outside the box.  The Rams had zero energy and looked flat every Sunday.  Spags was gun shy and shell shocked from extreme failure, and like a scarred quarterback in the slot with fear of throwing an interception, Spagnuolo was eaten away by his own demons.   Change was needed and he was executed.  GM Billy Devaney was sent packing along with him, a required move for the simple reason that he put the failing squad together.

Jeff Fisher Enters the Picture

The main reason I like Fisher is because he has head coaching experience, and unlike the Cardinals, the Rams need a coach with legit experience and a history of winning with small payrolls.  Fisher took the Titans to the Super Bowl in 1999 with an underrated team and nearly(by a yard) beat the Rams.   12 years later, he will chose between the Rams and Miami this week.   Fisher is a hard nosed tough attitude producing football mind who has taken the time off to reset his engines and prepare for another battle on the sidelines.  Fisher is hungry and dealt with a childish quarterback in Tennessee near his end in Vince Young.   He forced Fisher out and since then, Fisher’s been a free agent.  Pull the record away and the STL Rams are set up with fine pieces to rebuild with.  The main problem with the Rams is they were rebuilding still in 2011 and they had the third oldest team in football.   Rebuilding and old age don’t go together.  The Rams need to get younger and build from their youth.   Scrap the old shitty parts and look at the young.  If I am Fisher, that is my main goal.   Look at Sam Bradford and the potential.   Steven Jackson is old, so think about drafting a young RB in the later rounds.   Look at the defense with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Quentin Mikkel and James Lauranitis.   There are pieces here.   In my opinion, the Rams carry more futuristic flair than the Dolphins even though Miami had a more successful 2011 season.   Fisher makes a choice this week and if the Rams can snag him, the first step taken in rebuilding a dead franchise is a solid one.  You have to start with the head coach, get a general manager who can evaluate talent,  then the draft, and move into free agency and assemble a good team.

Tim Tebow Defies the Odds…..Again

On Sunday, Tebow went into Mile High Stadium with few experts expecting him to take down the #1 ranked defense in the Steelers in the wild card playoff round.   After losing the last 3 games of the season and turning the ball over 7 times, Tebow was once again left for dead.   It’s been a trend in his NFL career.   The college hero with a knack for fourth quarter comebacks who has trouble throwing is now going to New England to play Tom Brady and the Patriots next Sunday in the second round of the playoffs.  How did this happen?  Tebow threw for 316 yards, including touchdown passes of 30 and 80 yards and also a 51 yard completion.   He also ran for a touchdown.   Tebow completed an 80 yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, which qualifies as the longest passing play in overtime in playoff history.   The Tebow critics will come out and shoot this down, calling it a 2012 Mayan apocalypse fluke or a lucky shot.   I am here to tell you the kid has real talent and isn’t going anywhere.  He carries little chance of beating Brady next week, but he will make the Super Champ earn the right to play for the conference.   Tebow is a winner.  He is committed to winning and will do ANYTHING to win.   He is all you want in an athlete coming out of college.  Tebow is Michael Vick without the shitty brain and criminal desire.  A quarterback who can run and throw.  Tebow did it all and then some on Sunday.  Seeing what he does next weekend is something EVERYBODY, critics and supporters, will be dying to see.  For the first time in his career, Tebow won a game with his arm and not just his legs.  It helped that Ben Roethlisberger played the game on one leg and the Steelers didn’t have safety Ryan Clark or running back Rasheed Mendenhall.  It helped that Pittsburgh was playing on the road with a hurt quarterback.  It helped that Denver had a 10 point lead most of the game.   Tebow takes the surrounding factors and correctly plugs them into his own agenda.  No matter how ugly it is, win the game.  He won on Sunday without the ugliness.  One thing is for sure.  Tebow has shocked the world.   If I told you Tebow would be playing Tom Brady in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game back in September, you would have laughed me out of the room.  Expect the unexpected with Tebow.

Dave Duncan Steps Down

Dave Duncan will not be the pitching coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, marking the first time The Cardinals will employ a new manager and pitching coach since 1995.   Duncan is stepping down to be with his wife, Jeannine, who is recovering from brain cancer.   In November, Duncan thought he could stack the duties of a pitching coach on top of looking after his wife.  Last week, Duncan decided he couldn’t do it.   The news began as a leave of absence but developed into a permanent move.   Derek Lilloquist, who stepped into Dunc’s role near the end of 2011, will become the new pitching coach.   The loss of Duncan is a big one for a team suddenly rebuilding the identity of their team after winning a World Series.   Tony La Russa retired, Matheny came aboard, got rid of La Russa’s coaches, Pujols signed elsewhere and now Duncan isn’t coming back.  Say hello to a new friend.   The Cardinals will get by without them in 2012.   In 2011, they defied the ultimate odds and won the championship.   2012 seems like a piece of cake.  Look, you can sit here and cry over Duncan’s exit or take comfort in the fact he is doing it for the right reason and the Cards get his longtime protege in return.

The Blues Rebound, Put Together A Strong Streak

On Monday, I told you the Blues had 3 winnable games this past week.   Phoenix, Edmonton and Colorado.   They won all three games and sit atop the Central Division with 53 points and are 2nd in the Western Conference.   The Blues are playing 60 minutes of hockey, are 5-13 on their power play during the home stand, and seeing renewed production from Chris Stewart.   This team relies on all hands being on deck instead of a single scoring line or one man goaltending show.   Brian Elliot grabbed another shutout on Saturday when the Blues dominated and destroyed the streaking Avs but goals from Berglund, Shatty, Arnott and Backes sealed the win and Elliot saw less than 20 shots.   A team game is developing and that is why the Blues are atop the division.  In October, we had a good team and a chance to win.  Davis Payne was a respected man and coach.   However, he wasn’t pulling results from this team and he was replaced.  Ken Hitchcock came in here with 540 plus wins, sitting at a desk in Columbus, and hungry to coach again.  He has reinvented this team with the same players.   Amazing feat.   What else is there to say?  I am no expert and can only enjoy watching this team that I have waited to see contend seriously again suddenly become a legit force in the NHL.  It would be fool hardy to not recognize a night/day difference with the team under Payne/Hitchcock.  How long can it last?

Moneyball’s Genius

Billy Beane’s idea was simple.  Take a 41 million dollar team and turn them into a playoff team after losing three key players in Damon, Izzy and Giambi in 2002.  Billy Beane made one decision early in his life based on money and swore he would never do it again.   Beane wanted to change the game.  He didn’t want the money, fame or glamour.   He wanted to do something no team had done before.  Take a small market team and beat the big market team.   It was more than that.  His method of changing the game meant relying on stats, computer analysis and on base percentage instead of old school scouting, big salaries and home runs.  His change of thought threatened the livelihood of several GMs, scouts,ballplayers and represented what people fear most in life.  CHANGE IN METHODS OF SUCCESS SEEKING.   The A’s won more games in 2002 than they did in 2001, won 20 games in a row, yet lost in the playoffs to the Twins.   His season was enough to make teams change the way they evaluate talent.   Moneyball is a great film that relies heavily on Brad Pitt’s brilliant portrayal of Beane.  Instead of mimicking Beane directly, Pitt created his own wisecracking version of Beane and delivered one of the better performances of his career.   Bennett Miller unleashed Pitt and in the end created a new sports film classic.  See this film on Tuesday when it arrives on DVD/Blu Ray.

Edwin Jackson isn’t worth 17 million dollar a season.  

The 60-60 pitcher doesn’t deserve that money.   His agent, Scott Boras, is demanding that much and comparing him to past chokers like John Lackey and Aj Burnett, both whose employers are dying to shred now that they are scrubs.   Recalculate Scotty.   Jackson isn’t worth the dough and barely deserves Kyle Lohse money in 11 million per season.  Jackson hasn’t proven he could win consistently at this level and he isn’t a good bet even to a team needing starting pitching.  He will be picked up for a 1 or 2 year deal in February at 12 million per season by an American League team looking to dump money on a landfill.  Jackson is a MLB whore and has slept around the league.

Attention Packers and Saints. 

You score a lot of points but you shall face a New York Giants team that has won 3 in a row and made Matt Ryan and The Falcons look like immature oversized pee wee opponents on Sunday.   The Giants beat the Falcons 24-2 and the only reason Atlanta saw points came via a penalty on Eli Manning in the end zone.  For the second week in a row, Manning threw for 300 plus yards, 65 percent completion rate and 3 touchdowns without any interceptions.   I’m not a fan of the Giants.  I’m simply warning the favored teams.

Albert Pujols still isn’t sure he made the right decision.  

His 10 year 250 million dollar deal was completed this week and it comes with many perks.  Pujols gets a hotel suite on the road, a chance to buy season tickets at an Angels suite, and gets tons of incentives when he breaks records.   It proves that every small detail must be punched out before a player contract is finalized.  The deal includes a 10 year personal services clause that according to my inside sources, the Cards came up with first and the Angels adapted.  That’s right.  The Cards team that Team Pujols said didn’t treat them with respect and comfort first offered him a personal services contract.   There was comfort and 210 million from St. Louis, but Pujols fled.   This exit still doesn’t sit completely easy with me mainly in part to Pujols’ stupidity.  In my eyes, he had no reason to leave and the ones he pointed out don’t make a bit of sense.  Im glad the big guy gets his own suite on the road, Mike Piazza style, and that he is happy out west.  The real proof starts in less than 90 days.

Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals only works if the dollars, years and role perimeters are set up right.   If the Cards could trade Westbrook or Lohse, Oswalt could fit in perfectly in St. Louis, a place where he really wants to pitch.   Oswalt could come here for 5 million and have his salary rise with wins, innings pitched and strikeouts.   If it is possible, I am for it.

Prince Fielder needs to make a decision. 

Shut off the cell phone and tell Boras to leave you alone.   Nearly a month after Pujols signed, Fielder sits without a contract and its peculiar yet not surprising.   Fielder wants 10 years and Pujols money, and teams don’t want to give him the comfort.  They want to give him 5 years and high dollar.   If I were Fielder, I would take the 5 year deal and keep on hitting.    What if a better offer doesn’t come in?  What if the phantom bidder in Boras talks never arrives?   The best fit for Prince is Washington.  They seem primed to give him 5-7 years and 23-25 million per season and the two sides fit each other.   Washington is one piece away from seriously contending.  They have Steven Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and John Lannan in the rotation.  They have Drew Storen in the bullpen.  They have Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Michael Morse in the lineup and only need a big piece to get in line with  the Braves and Phillies.  Fielder will know the team is set up to win for a long time, especially if Bryce Harper makes an appearance in 2012.   If I am Fielder, I tell Boras to make the Washington deal work.  Soon.

For years, I swore Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the person to blame for the mega fight between Floyd and Manny Pacquiao not happening.  

At first, Floyd played the mind games and demanded olympic drug testing.    Manny balked and said no.   The second time, Manny agreed to the testing yet Floyd didn’t come to the table.  The two have fought 3 opponents since the chance for a fight arose.   Floyd seemed to be afraid to harm his unbeaten record, avoid a real challenge for the first time in his career and seemed to run from this fight or make up bullshit to delay it.  Now, the tables have turned.   Floyd got 90 days in jail for domestic abuse this month, but on Friday a judge delayed the sentence until June so Floyd could keep a commitment to fight in Las Vegas on May 5th.  Floyd is available and when asked who he wants to fight, a name wasn’t needed.  He wants Manny for a mega fight.   The only problem now is Manny’s promoter, Bob Arum seems to NOT want to make the fight happen.  Floyd’s promoter, Richard Schfareth is placing the blame on Arum and I am starting to believe him.  Arum took a 4 opponent portfolio to Manny this weekend and it didn’t include Floyd.  When news came around that Floyd had a chance to fight, Arum still dismissed a fight.   WHY?  Nobody wants to see any other fight right now.   Boxing fans and casual boxing fans want to see Floyd and Manny brawl.   Why is Arum holding this up?   Is he afraid a Pac Man loss will kill his cash cow’s future chances?  That doesn’t make sense.  Manny has lost 4 times and if he puts up a decent fight at the very least against Mayweather Jr.,  a rematch will be in order and redemption will be set up.   Arum has zero reason to deny this fight.  His unwillingness to work with Golden Boy Promotions makes me sick and may stop the biggest fight in 30 years from happening.

We Bought A Zoo Review

Cameron Crowe’s first full fledged family film is a true story centering on Benjamin Mee, a writer who decides to take over a zoo in California after his wife dies in order to rehabilitate his grieving family .  Matt Damon stars as Mee, and he makes another leading role seem effortless. The role represents another layer of Damon few film fans have gotten a chance to see.   Damon’s gift is being one of the most versatile actors on the planet.   His skills serve him well in this holiday delight.  Crowe’s gift in filmmaking is injecting an emotional experience into a recycled story that seems familiar.  This film is an emotionally engaging experience that will get the tearducks working by the final frame.   A simple concept taken and rolled into a family film worth seeing.  Mee takes over a closed Zoo and along with his two kids and a staff including every cliched stereotype in film, resurrects not only the zoo but his own life.  The supporting cast features Scarlett Johannson as the zoo keeper and woman who enters Ben’s life at the right time yet finds a cement cover on the soul.   The key to this film is the grace that Crowe delivers it.   Every Crowe film is a version of his own life and every lead character is an alternate personality.   He is a director you immediately get a feel for when watching a film.  The easy going pace, the rich soundtrack and relaxed acting.   Thomas Haden Church co-stars as Ben’s brother and brings a healthy dose of humor to the proceedings.

The Black Keys Come to St. Louis

If you spend any time here lately, you have come to find out that this band has grown to be one of my favorites.  Their music is pure and old school rock n’ roll electricity.  It’s perk up, get in a good mood, wake the fuck up music.   Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney put together the greatest 2 man band in history and keep things simple.  From their first album, The Big Come Up, to their latest batch of tunes, El Camino, the boys haven’t changed a bit. They will grace the Chaifetz Arena on April 27th, finally getting the required space to surround their monstrously cool music.   It’s easy to like the Black Keys if you like old school blues rock.  Here’s yet another sample of their work, a cover of Richard Berry’s “Have Love, Will Travel”.    You wouldn’t know the song didn’t belong to them by the way they invest the song with soul and original wit.   These guys are freakishly good and only get better on repeated listens.  One of the most inventive bands out there at the moment.  To me, while DMB take a break, Black Keys share the musical earth with Mumford and Sons and Florence + The Machine.

Memorial for Meme

On Sunday, there was a memorial downtown in St. Louis for my late grandmother, Henrieta aka “Meme”.   A somber day that was put together to celebrate her life.   There was a mass at St. Raymonds and a lunch at her condo.    Meme is the one and only reason I ever entered a church in my life and for her, I reentered my Catholic upbringing this weekend to honor her memory.   As you know, I believe in GOD on earth as much as Santa Claus or clean honest politicians, so I did this for her.  She loved going there and was a Saint there.   It was a nice ceremony and the place was packed.   I sat between my mom and dad and served as the tough bunker dividing tears and strength.   Afterwards, friends and family flooded the condo for a lunch and memorial.  My good friend, Bill DeWitt III made an appearance and paid his respects.  My grandmother lived next door to DeWitt and his family when they moved here in 1996 and immediately treated them like family.   It was a nice event and a fine sendoff to Meme.   It’s still a fresh wound to think of Meme as deceased but seeing the vast array of people who she collided with in her life made me feel better about letting her go sooner rather than later.   She lived a full and vibrantly aware 81 years and served as a fine example of “living”  for a living.

2011 Look Back Preview

In the next week or so, I will be putting together a look back at the year that was 2011, a period that marked my life with happiness and sadness.  A bittersweet campaign that won’t be forgotten.   Here is a preview at the opening and things that happened and will be delved into.

Life is a give and take process with a fair measure of get.   You give, they take and you get something in return.  In 2011, things happened that will I will never forget.   A year of pain and joy that only strengthens the fact that life can’t be taken for granted.

Meme Passes-The loss of my grandmother on Christmas eve was the equivalent to a bullet ripping into my back at the end of a parade.  She died on the eve of Christmas and on the eve of her wedding anniversary.  Meme would tell me every time I saw her that she would be dead soon and I better come see her more often.   She knew she wasn’t going to be around forever, and that is something my family and I never wanted to buy into or believe.   Now, we are figuring out how to live without Meme’s presence and grace.  It’s a tough walk.

Life is full of  promises, so here is a quick rundown of 2011 just in case I don’t come back to write an official end of year mission statement.  What happened in 2011?  A quick plunge.  My Wife Rachel Quits smoking.  We get pregnant(yes, there is a “we” being used here).    The following9 months are an adventurous blend of excitement, tiredness and new found joy.   Vinny goes into the hospital due to a heart condition named WPW.   He leaves the hospital.  The Cards win 22 games in September and rip into the playoffs on the final day as Atlanta falters like an injured horse.   They outlast the Phillies, smoke the Brewers in six and outrun the Rangers in the World Series to produce the most improbable run in 20 years and win their 11th championship title.  David Freese becomes a national sports hero in 48 hrs with a pair of huge hits to propel the Cards to the title.  The team quickly encounters change with La Russa retiring 2 days after Game 7 and The Pujols Talks encure a week of drama.   Albert Pujols signs with the Angels and immediately regrets his decision, calling the Cardinals to blame for not cuddling him during negotiations.  The Blues crash in the House of Payne yet reinvent themselves under a new veteran coach in Hitchcock.   The Rams completely collapse, igniting a bomb that blows up the front office and sideline.  They finish 2-14, and Spags and Devaney are fired.   The NBA and NFL build a greedy wall around their egos and go through a lockout, the NBA losing a portion of the season.   Vinny goes back into the hospital for a stomach ailment that keeps him for 4 more days in ICU.   He exits and starts to gain weight and grow chubby cheeks.   John Mozelaik carves himself into the Cardinals leadership role by hiring Mike Matheny, who carried no previous coaching experience.  Rescue Me departs FX on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, ending the series with a powerful bang.  The Black Keys, Mumford and Sons and Adele blow the music world away with real rhythm and blues.  A film directly attacks the financial crisis in2008 in Margin Call, my contender for Best Picture. Entourage ends its 8 year run 2 years too late.  Hung closes down after 3 underrated seasons at HBO.  House on Fox grows tired very quick without the House-Cuddy story arc.    Justified, Sons Of Anarchy, and Boardwalk Empire take bold steps in their season.   The Changeup and Horrible Blues produce some of the biggest laughs of the year.  The Killer Elite is smart action entertainment and Moneyball is a quiet contender for a sports classic and Best Picture candidate.  Osama Bin Laden is finally killed, supposedly in the heat of a US ambush in his own home.  A double tap is the final killshot.    The country remembers and salutes the heroes and victims of 9/11 on the 10 year anniversary.   The Cardinals prove that no deficit is impossible to overcome.   Right as my year seems to wrap up quite nicely, my grandmother, Meme, falls, suffers a brain injury and dies at the wise old age of 81.   2012 begins with a memorial.

The Random Bits-

*The secret ingredient of Tebow power is his size.  Unlike the brittle Michael Vick, when Tebow shoots the gap for a red zone rushing score, defensive players have to take down a 245 pound beast instead of a skinny aching athlete.   Tebow punishes tacklers and doesn’t make it easy.  If he improves his throwing, the sky is the limit.

*Ken Hitchcock has a 18-5-5 record since taking over the Blues.

*Spring training begins in less than 40 days.  The tinkling has begun.

*The NBA action is a moot point and that includes the Miami Heat’s fast 9-1 start.

*I can’t stop thinking about Drive so much that I am diving into youtube clips and soundtrack picking.   I am a sucker for stylish brutally violent noir thrillers.   The movie looks very good.  Report to come at the end of the month.

*My son Vincent is cute beyond words.  Literally, I could talk about him all day here and might soon.   A Vinny action blog special.

*Someone forgot to tell Falcons QB Matt Ryan the playoffs started.   The Boston College talent is 0-3 in playoff action in his young career.   Talented guy who can’t do it on the big stage.  Another Tebow comparison here.

*Sam Bradford’s 2012 season is crucial for one reason.  THERE ARE NO EXCUSES THIS TIME KID.  A new coach, GM, and players will enter this team’s picture.   Bradford will have his 3rd offensive coordinator and must make plays and learn to get rid of the ball in the pocket and become mobile.

*Solid move by the Blues to extend Ryan Reaves 2 years.   He is a hard working 4th line grinder who can fight and skate and make plays.   The Blues have done things right and built their core from the ground up with young players.  The Rams must follow suit.

*Barry Larkin rightfully entered the Hall of Fame today on his third try.  Larkin, a long time Reds shortstop, was a slick fielding versatile hitting player for many seasons.   This was a no brainer, as he received 86 percent of the vote.   75 percent is required to enter and you are eligible 5 years after you retire.  If Jeff Bagwell improves upon the 56 percent he received this year and enters soon, how many other steroid users will follow him in?  Bonds, Mac, Clemens?  Things could get very interesting next season if Bagwell gets in.   Where is the threshold set at once one abuser gets in?

*IF Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State is available and the Rams have a decent setup to select him, they can’t hesitate.  The tall muscular playmaking wide receiver could save Bradford’s career the way Calvin Johnson rescued Matthew Stafford’s life and the Rams can’t pass him up.

*Stupid Internet Blogger gripe here real quick.  Jeff Fisher came and went from Rams Park on Sunday.   That’s all there is.   Stop making up rumors Twitter and sports forum nibblers.

IF THERE IS NO NEWS TO REPORT, DON’T REPORT IT.   THE NEXT TIME I HEAR ABOUT KOBE BRYANT’S STATUS OR THAT HE “MIGHT PLAY”, I AM GOING TO SHOOT AN OLD PERSON IN THE ANKLE.

*When it is all said and done, religion taken aside, Tim Tebow will leave his mark on this game.   BUT…he has to consistently throw the ball well.  This is a passing dominated league.  If he can’t, he won’t last at QB.  You can’t be afraid to throw the ball.

That’s it, folks.   All there is to tell for now.  I’ll put the guns down, get some rest and load the chamber again later this week.

Thanks for reading,

Dan L. Buffa

The World of My Own Making

You are what you decide to be in this world, and there is no changing the result because we drive the car in this walk of life.   That isn’t a quote because I just came up with it out of the crowded arena inside my head, so eat it up, use it if you have to, but make sure the residency of its origin lie in my name please.   All a writer wants is proof of existence.  Here we go.  You know how I bring it here.  Cold, brutal and direct with zero punches pulled.  Running begins now..

Homeland on Showtime, Season 1 Quick Review

We have all seen it before in shows and films.   The CIA operative who is in too deep, knows too much, has the complete picture arranged in her mind like a piece of opera music, and only needs a few souls to trust her and believe in her.   The soul who screams everything isn’t as it seems, that the rosy picture painted on the news is made of crimson and not cherry pasts and bright futures.   Claire Danes and Damian Lewis deserve awards for their work, because they each play slowly ticking timebombs.   Dave Matthews’ song, Timebomb, repeatedly played in my head as I watched the final 4 episodes of this series’ first season.   A ticking explosive device waiting to be set off at any given moment.  Danes’ energized renegade operative, who has all the pieces to the puzzle that is Lewis’ returned POW turned Soldier Press Hero and how he is a silent terrorist prepared to do damage to his “homeland”.   That is the main plot here.  A CIA spook who is trying to convince her superiors and associates that this man isn’t a hero and instead has been turned.  The X-factor here is that Carrie suffers from a bipolar disorder that requires medication and speeds up and mixes her focus at times.   Her trusted confidant, Saul(Mandy Patintkin), loves her brain but fears it as well.    We spend 12 hours putting the detective story like clues together.   This is arguably the best show on television right now.   Homeland’s first season ranks with The Sopranos, Dexter, Justified, Brotherhood and Rome’s first seasons.   Memorable, explosive, consistent and packing a punch lasting long enough to send a man out into the night on a midnight ride with only a cigar and music to string an opinion together.   When I finished this series at 130am, I got a cigar, got into the car and drove for 2 hours before landing at Barnes Hospital to pay a surprise visit to my old man.  Homeland is great for its intensity and persistence alone.  You don’t see the cliched plot devices or old script hands used here.  All the scenes and twists are fresh and serve a purpose.  Lewis’ Nicholas Brody, returning after declared dead and missing for 8 years after a failed mission in Iraq in 2003.   Danes’ operative Carrie, immediately convinced that Brody is rogue and spends the entire season proving to herself, the rest of the CIA and us that she is right.   I won’t spoil anything here but the style, dialogue, strategy and format used to provide the answers here are thrilling and worth the ride.   That’s all we want as viewers.  A reason to spend 12 hours with a story.   A payoff.  Homeland provides one.   It validates your ticket.  GREAT television series cause us to become lazy ass couch potatoes.  Glued to the screen and attached to little else.   These shows are few and far in between.   Most shows I watch come after their air date and through DVR.   Homeland is appointment television.  A sophisticated terrorism saga told through realist vision.   A visceral series that focuses directly on the war on terror.  Whether Season 2 keeps up or not is yet to be seen, but if there is a series that needs to be watched, its this one.  It has everything we wish for in entertainment.  Great acting, thrilling pace, a worthy story buried inside a unique and original perspective.  Brains, brawn and efficiency.   Season 1 is available on demand and on DVD.   Find it, watch it, give it an hour and see what you think.   Detectives exist in all of us, a willing need to find an answer to a deadly question.   Homeland sends you on that mission and journey having to do with one center dilemma.  Is he bad or is she just crazy?  If he is bad, why is he doing it?  Who will believe Carrie?  The war on terror is as fresh as the war on drugs.   Cells pop up faster than headaches and this show provides us with a point of view from the CIA, the terrorists and the public.   This is my new favorite show to spread the word about.  Watch it and I will tell you more.  My tease here is over.

Spags/Rams/Fate of the Franchise

The Rams are a disgusting team to watch.   Blunt.   Painful.   They only lost by 7 points on Sunday but the margin of error was more than 20 points deep.  The Rams consistently beat themselves.  Let me tell you about their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers real quick.  The 49ers are the #2 seed in the NFC and they showed the fans at the Ed Dome why they changed so quickly from last season with the same parts.  The 49ers went from third in the NFC West in 2010 to going 13-3 and owning the #2 seed in the conference in 2011.   The only difference was a head coach.  Jim Harbaugh joined San Francisco this season after winning at Stanford with Andrew Luck for years.   Harbaugh took over a mixed up franchise who recently let go of hall of famer Mike Singletaire.  Harbaugh didn’t select a quarterback in the 2011 draft, opting to stick with disgraced and replaced vet Alex Smith.   He maintained the West Coast offense and featured the running back, Frank Gore, as the center of the universe and Smith as the minority in the offense.  The strength of the 49ers was Brad Selley’s defense, powered by MU products Justin Smith and Aldon Smith to go along with Patrick Willis.   Harbaugh didn’t gain any new set pieces.  He used Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Smith, and Gore on offense, just as Singletaire did in 2010.   He didn’t take any snaps but he took the same team and got results that the franchise hadn’t found since 2002.   Now, for the first time in 9 years, they are going to the playoffs.   What happened there that couldn’t happen in St. Louis?  A lot of things happened there.   Harbaugh made that team better.   Unfortunately, Steve Spagnuolo was unable to overcome injury, early deficits and a lack of depth in St. Louis to do what Harbaugh did in SF.   As a result, Spags will more than likely lose his job in the next 48 hours.   Bill Parcells put it best.   A head coach is only as good as his record.  Spags’ record in 3 seasons is 10-38.  The worst record for a coach in STL football history.  Spags is a class act, but in pro sports it begins and ends with results.   Kroneke has to do something.  Spags can’t be the only one to be cut in this surgerical procedure.   GM Billy Devaney and OC Josh McDaniels must go as well.  Blow up the ship.   Giving Devaney and Spags another season could prove to be detrimental to this franchise.  The Rams lease at the Ed Dome only lasts for 3 more seasons.   Time is running out.   If things don’t improve, Kroneke will move the team and I wouldn’t blame him.   The Rams haven’t had a winning season in over 6 years.   After winning 7 games last season under Sam Bradford, they regressed this season and lost 14 games.   That is a huge step backward and something MUST be done.   It’s never the head coach’s fault, but he is the first person to be axed.  Cry foul or scream madness, but that is just the way it is.   I’ll play the Bruce Hornsby song if I have to.   I don’t know who will be brought in to stop the bleeding.   Chargers GM AJ Smith comes to mind.   Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher are rumored coaches.   Who knows?  The Rams job isn’t as shitty a job posting as some think.  There is hope here and pieces in place.  Bradford, soldier of misfortune Steven Jackson(for now), Brandon Lloyd, Danario Alexander(whenever he plays, he makes plays), James Lauranitis, Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Quentin Mikkel, along with injured vets Danny Amendola and Ron Bartell.  The Rams own the second pick in the 2012 draft and have a chance to select a luxury player or trade the spot and collect picks.  We are unfortunately chained to a highly overpaid and overrated offensive line and lack depth at linebacker, in the secondary and painfully unmatched at wide receiver.  The answers to this downward speeding ship are scattered and hard to find, but the first move has to be cleaning house.   I was highly favorable of the hiring of Spagnuolo in 2009.   The defensive minded coach was the brain behind dismantling the Tom Brady machine in the 2007 Super Bowl and was a big catch on the market after Jim Haslett was let go.  He came here and did his best but wasn’t properly equipped to push a sinking franchise in the right direction.  He couldn’t sustain success and as a result, he is the first body to catch a bullet.

Blues Running into a reality wall.

The Blues still own the 5th spot in the conference, but haven’t won in their last 3 games.   They are losing critical games inside the Central Division as well.   They lost to the Red Wings on Wednesday, lost a shootout and collected a point on Friday against Nashville, and got easily defeated in Detroit on Saturday.   Suddenly, the Blues cruising ship is losing speed and stalling a bit.  The goaltending has been shaken a little but Halak and Elliot are making big time stops and lining their team up for a win.  The sticks aren’t producing a lot of goals.   Three goals in their last three games explains the problem.  The Blues are playing a strong 60 minutes but getting outgunned and can’t finish plays.   Players like Patrik Berglund aren’t finishing plays and doing their job.  The Blues are turning the puck over and getting sloppy.   Hot sticks like TJ Oshie are still scoring but aren’t as consistent.  The power play came alive for 2 games but went silent on Saturday.   The shootout production hit an all time low on Friday as the Blues lost in a 5 round shootout.  Halak made 4 great stops and earned the right to victory but 2 Blues couldn’t win the game with a score.   The presence of a sniper is hurting this team.  Chris Stewart has had a rough start and  Andy Mcdonald is missing so the younger players like Oshie, Perron and Bergie are being leaned on.   The result is a mixed bag.  Oshie has 12 goals, Perron is delivering on assists and Berglund may just be the biggest bag of frustrated talent since Erik Johnson rocked the bluenote.  The Blues are still 15-6-5 under Hitch but the wheels are loosening.   GM Doug Armstrong has said he is a buyer at the deadline and that is a good thing.  Between now and February 27th, the Blues will find out how much consistency they are capable of and what they need.  Their next three games are against beatable teams in Phoenix, Edmonton and Colorado and they are all at home, where the Blues own one of the best records in the NHL.   6 easy points lie ahead of this team and with the Blackhawks and Detroit playing great hockey, the Blues need to keep up.   Goals scored has been a problem for 3 straight seasons.   The power play hasn’t been consistent in multiple seasons.  The ability to win on the road is a tough spot for this team.   Beating division opponents is a required asset for a playoff team and the Blues couldn’t do it in December.  They went 2-5 in the division in December after a perfect 3-0 in November.  When the Blues are right, they are beating their rivals.   That will have to continue this week.  Will the Blues continue to slip or regain their winning touch?

Cardinals Face More Offseason Unfortune

New rules in Cardinal land.  Keep Matheny away from knives.   Furcal away from batting cage nets.  Freese away from bars.  Berk away from the 80s.   And  Chris Carpenter away from fishing trips in the Amazon.  He broke a toe this month while fishing with Doc Halladay.  It isn’t known which toe was broke and whether surgery was needed but Carp did suffer an injury and this kind of incident has to be avoided.  Lock these players down.  They are worth too much money to the franchise.  The Cardinals are paying Carpenter 10 million in 2012 and they can’t lose him over a fishing accident.  Plain stupid.   Do this or the Cards are officially looking for trouble.  Quarantine the players until February?  We are 48 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting.   My safe bet is to inform the players to be regular citizens until then.  Stay in St. Louis.  Stay at home.  Don’t touch sharp material.  No planes.  No late night drag races or drinking contests.   Be a fucking nerd until spring training. Without Albert Pujols, every hand is needed on deck in 2012.  Put it in a memo immediately.  In 2012, no fuckups are allowed in Cardinal Nation.  This is where Matheny will be tested.  While players respected him as an ex-catcher and assistant to Mo, will they offer him the same respect as a manager?   Can he crack the whip and lock down troublesome bodies?  That is where I’m looking right now.

Dear Floyd Mayweather,

Enjoy your 90 days in jail.   That fight you lined up in May is off now.  Lessons need to be learned little man.

1.)Stop breaking the law, asshole.

2.)Stop beating women and hitting officers.

3.)Upon your release, take off the chicken outfit and get into a ring with Manny Pacquiao or you will be incomplete.

I respect Floyd’s skills but I really don’t like the guy. Classless fella who finally got what he deserved.  A slap on the cheek for his unguarded arrogance and disrespect for authority.   Here’s to Floyd getting his ass kicked in jail or at least running into a shank.    His jail time knocks out a spring matchup with Pacquiao and sets the unbeaten pound for pound champ on a collision course for a fight in the fall of 2012.  He will have plenty of time to think about his next fight.

This clears the way for a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez for Manny Pacquiao.  After three close battles, these two vets deserve another shot for a clear cut decision.  Pac Man and Marquez produced one of the most entertaining fights in recent memory.  Give them another while Floyd does his time.   Miguel Cotto is out there as well but Manny beat him so soundly the first time a rematch isn’t warranted.   Set up Pacquiao-Marquez IV.

The Random Fire-

-I’m watching Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes frame for frame as he takes us through the film and how it comes together.   The blu ray in effect. The technical aspects and stories.   Staring behind the curtain of a production.   I’m a film junkie.  Love this shit.

-A reminder: Clint Eastwood is the original bad ass and quite a talented man.  Actor, director and composer.

-Fright Night with Colin Farrell was decent and a fair remake if you are in for a straight up treat.    Oscar work doesn’t exist here but it works for a horror flick.

-Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov needs to focus less on “the universe” and more on his goaltending.    Dude got smoked for 2nd time in a week.  5 goals on 16 shots.

-The 24-7 climactic battle today on NBC should be one of the better Winter Classic matchups in the five year history of the event.  The Rangers/Flyers rivalry is one of the oldest and juiciest in league history and both teams sit atop their divisions and near the top of the Eastern Conference.   Seeing Rangers goalie Henrik Lanquist go up against Bryzgalov in net and the physical teams collide will be entertaining and that’s all you can ask for at this point.  The Flyers are without Chris Pronger but Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, Jarmoir Jagr and Max Talbot are picking up the slack.   The Rangers supply a reliable force with Ryan Callahan, Martin Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky.  This game will distinguish hockey as the ultimate love/hate brutality theater because each team wants to destroy the other.   All respect and zero mercy at Citizens Park tomorow.  The Winter Classic introduces old time hockey and a rare cable spectacle of a game sorely missed regularly on ESPN, ABC and FOX.   For one day, The NHL gets the spotlight and deservedly so.

-The National is my band of the week because their music packs so much visceral power.   Their music is a slow building wave of emotional vigor and poetic dive into love from soulful artists who write from experience.  Method songwriting produces the greatest songs and The National are a fine example.  Here is a selection from their first CD, Boxer, and it’s called “Lucky You”.   An understated yet perfect late night ballad.

http://youtu.be/36jo1BYSY0A

Bonus Selection Revisit here-“About Today” taken from The National’s song used in the great newly released on DVD movie, Warrior.

http://youtu.be/eUJxrkPGQ5Q

-One thing about 2011.   Restaurants are changing.  Prices going up, portions going down and it’s only getting worse.  Food is the new oil.

-Greatest thing about water.   Year round, nothing tastes better ice cold than water.  It also doesn’t go bad.  You can leave it in your car for 2 months and come back to enjoy the taste.   Water, along with food, will be the most sought after product in decades to come.   Who has it and where is the cleanest form of it?

-Tim Tebow and the Broncos lost on Sunday but backed into the playoffs with a Raiders loss.   Typical unconventional Tebow action that leaves him with a 7-4 record as a starter but a horrible completion percentage.  The Chiefs were the latest team to find a way to contain Tebow and ended up shutting him down completely.   If I am playing him, I play man coverage in the secondary and flood the box with bodies to cut down his running game and force him to beat you through the air.  He has exceeded expectations but needs to work on his passing skills to stick around as a QB of the future.  However, if I am the Steelers rolling into next Saturday without Rasheed Mendenhall and safety Ryan Clark, I am a little worried about facing Tebow in his home field.  Entertaining games to come.

-Lesson to be learned on Sunday night.   Tony Romo is a choke artist once and for all and Eli Manning has “big game” ability in his genes.   The Giants stomped the Cowboys at home and won a playoff berth.

-Drew Brees is dangerous and will be a threat to any NFC team looking to sneak past New Orleans to the Super Bowl.   Brees played the entire game Sunday and threw 5 touchdown passes.  Last week, he took over the yards thrown for record previously held by Dan Marino at 5,087 and this week, instead of sitting(like Aaron Rodgers), Brees dismantled the Panthers and is ready to duel this weekend.

-I’d love to see a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl or a Saints-Steelers/Patriots Super Bowl.   I aim for an explosive matchup.

-Going to watch the Blues practice later this morning at The Mills Mall.   This will be my first Blues practice since Brett Hull laced up the skates.

-Lesson to be learned from another new year.   Keep your friends and family close.   On New Year’s Eve, I had friends over to my home and it was as good as it gets for this 29 year old.  A couple movies, Wii action, and a cigar to go with great conversation fueled a night of easy going fulfillment.  I found out long ago that I wasn’t a party hound.   I’m getting old and boring real quick and I am fine with that.   I’ll be the guy at 50 sitting in his backyard watching his kids play around next to a fire with a cigar in his mouth and his hands wrapped around his wife.

-I turn 30 next month and the mark carries little reach for me other than to illustrate a point.  I have higher goals set for myself.  While those closest to me think I am content in a warehouse, I have goals that exceed a workplace with a roof covering its floor.  I can tell you one thing.  I don’t want to be driving a forklift when I am 40 years old.   No way.   Whether its breaking into the field of writing or seeking out a career with a climb, I am ready for anything.  I love where I work.  Senoret provides me with good hours, solid pay, and a reliable future.  However, I have seen guys driving forklifts until they retire past 60 and that WILL NOT BE ME.   I am always looking for a better spot and that will never change.  A reminder to the doubters out there or the people who think this young man is content.   The sky isn’t the limit but my aim is right below.

That’s it.  All the juice that is fit to spin into news.  Keep your eyes open and your opinions fresh.   Stay kind but don’t rewind too often.   The past is a catalogue best visiting only when a point needs to be referenced.  Take the hits but keeping moving forwards.  As Rocky said, that’s how winning gets done.  I have no doubts that when catastrophe strikes this earth, humans will turn on themselves and go for anything available.  That is why I suggest that every living soul learn(at least) how to use a firearm.   Do it.  The people who hate weapons will beg for them to save their lives in the end.   Just do it.  Until then, stay loose.

Good morning and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa