The Rant Lounge

Let’s slip into a little topical discussion in the Quick Hits Variety as the night falls and another 24/7 bull rush settles in.  I don’t get a lot of time these days to blog because of the 50 hour work weeks at Senoret and the life of being a dad and struggling to have one, but here I am with a need to be unleashed.   Let me unplug and load the guns and hit a few things before I shut things down for the night.

Rams Trade 2nd overall draft pick to Redskins-A solid move for a few reasons.   The Rams came away with 3 first round draft picks from Washington the next 3 years.  They also acquired their 2nd round pick this year.   The Rams moved from 2nd to 6th for 4 additional picks and very good good ones at that.   Let’s examine this.

*I like the Cortland Finnegan signing, even at the hefty price of 5 years and 50 million, but this team has more needs.   A legit backup running back and a wide receiver to start.  An offensive lineman or guard to add onto the load.   Paying big for Finnegan, the Nyjer Morgan of the NFL but a very good defender who gets inside receivers’ heads, was expected because it’s the first week of free agency and Jeff Fisher coached him in Tennessee.

*I don’t like the lack of a wide receiver signing on this team.   Watching young track junkies Mario Manningham and Pierre Garcon run off elsewhere and the market for WR start to plummet without a Rams sign is bad news for this offense. If Sam Bradford doesn’t receive a target to hit downfield in 2012, the results won’t change much.   Sure, the offensive line needs to keep him upright, but when he does stand tall in the pocket, he needs a toy to play with and Manningham was almost the guy.   He was talking dollars and years on Sunday night but the Rams lost him to San Francisco.   The main problem on offense is the lack of a wide receiver downfield threat to stretch the defense.    Fail to fix this area and the consequences will be firm.

*Giving defensive end Kendall Langford 4 years and 24 million is a bit of a stretch.  A man who recorded 3 sacks in every game for Miami last season gets 6 million dollars to chase the QB here.   Hopefully he can stop the run or serve another area because giving him valuable cash is something I can’t wrap my head around.  The Rams cut a few players to fix the salary cap room, but bringing in Langford for so much cash is risky business.  Stan Kroneke needs to open the wallet and get a receiver on this team who can outwork a defensive back and make plays.

*A deal in the works for Justin Blackmon in the draft ends all this tribulation.   Blackmon is young, talented, fast and was a stud for Oklahoma State for 4 seasons.   Sign a free agent or find a way to get Blackmon.   Danny Amendola is a slot receiver and he is an unrestricted free agent.   Who is playing wide receiver for this team?   Brandon Gibson and Danario Alexander, a combo that could only fire up an arena football league fan base.

The Decision 2.0.   Peyton Manning chooses the Denver Broncos.   This choice works for all parties.   Manning gets to stay in the AFC, play for a contender, play for John Elway and give Tim Tebow a fresh start elsewhere.   Tebow doesn’t get the harder end of the boot here.   He is beloved in Denver and that could be a bad thing for a young QB like Tebow who needs to improve his passing ability.   Manning comes in, takes over, gives Tebow a chance to return to his hometown in Jacksonville and take over the hurting Jaguars.   Tebow needs to go to a place where he can rebuild a franchise with a willing head coach who can create an offensive scheme around TT football.   Raw arm or not, Tebow is a legit winner.  He took a 1-4 Broncos team in 2011 and turned them into a playoff team who took down the Steelers in Pittsburgh.   He needs to get better but is better than a backup QB in the NFL.   Eventually, he may succumb to a backup QB role but it isn’t happening anytime soon.  The man sells tickets and product.  Think about it.  Tebow took Denver to the playoffs with help but with a flair for winning. A raw arm but a skill set higher than Brady Quinn. He will get a healthy shot in Jacksonville because he will bring excitement and MONEY to a franchise. Playing in his hometown next to Gator town, Tebow will do more for Jaguar nation than Garrard or Gabbert. At least for the short term. Tebow turned a morbid Bronco nation into a winning football frantic frenzy and Elway owes Tebow that no matter what Peyton does. Tebow could throw 18 INT and still bring the fans in. And you know the ultimate rule in sports is the games are secondary to the business. Moneymakers like Tebow are rare. He’ll find work somewhere and it won’t be backing up anyone whose name doesn’t end with Brady. See for yourself.

As far as Manning is concerned, he takes over in Denver with a 3-4 year contract that provides stability to his career and insurance for the Broncos.  Manning will have to adjust to far different conditions in Denver than Indy.   Outdoor grass and colder weather for a man recovering from his 4th neck surgery will be a challenge.   Peyton landing in Denver was a sure thing once Elway got his radar directed at the Tennessee product.   Unless Tebow won a Super Bowl, he was never going to cut it in Denver because Elway wanted a classic pocket passer like Manning leading his team.   Once Manning was released, John went into bounty hunter mode and chased Peyton down like a piece of gold.  Whether or not it works out, the excitement will be hard to resist for a Manning lover or hater.  He stays next to Brady and will still face the Chargers, his nemesis.   He can only meet Eli in a Super Bowl just like in Indianapolis.   The situation changes slightly and Manning picked a solid team to land in.   San Francisco was credible because of the defense and legit all around talent.   Arizona had juice but lacked a structure and instant ability to contend.  Seattle and Miami were kicked out early for unknown reasons having to do with get a map and fuck off.   This will be interesting.

The Blues roll on into first place while taking a tough loss in Chicago, a shutout loss in Carolina while rebounding with a resounding win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Sometimes you have to lose to gain and if you are the Blues, the sweet and the bitter come hand in hand.   The Blues sit comfortably in first place in the NHL at the moment and whatever happens from here on out, take a seat and recognize what this team has become since November 8th when Ken Hitchcock took over as head coach.   We all know the last time  the Blues won the Presidents trophy they choked big time against San Jose in the first round back in 2000.   Something tells me, crazy as it is and will stay the following month, this team is different.   The most amazing thing about the Blues this season is their record and play despite a rash of injuries that tromps previous seasons.    David Perron, Andy Mcdonald, Matt D”Agostini, and Alex Steen have missed significant time.   David Backes went down in Tampa after blocking a shot.   During their time on the ice, Perron and Mcdonald are game changing talents.  Without them for long periods of time, the Blues are staying strong.  That’s something.  What’s going on?  The depth of this roster is stronger than last season and Hitch is unleashing the talent in each player and not restricting it like Andy Murray and Davis Payne did.   Let em go is the motto these days.   Look at them attack teams, hurt teams, walk away wounded only to come back and steal big games.   When they lose, they don’t go down easy.  Take Chicago’s triumph over us last week.   Blowing a third lead in the United Center this season, Jaroslav Halak stole a point from the Hawks with a 37 save pure phenomenal performance.   Halak laid claim to the #1 goalie job on this team with his New Year rebirth and going 9-0-1 in his last 10 starts.   Halak is making big saves and giving his team a bump when they need it.  The goaltending is the strong point behind this squad.   Halak and Brian Elliot rank in the top 5 in the NHL in multiple categories.   Their goals against average is ridiculously stingy.   The depth is strong as well.  Jason Arnott has added 16 goals and much needed grit and leadership to the young team as well as Jamie Langenbrunner, who is determined to throw his body anywhere if it pushes the momentum in the Blues direction.   Ian Cole, newly signed Jaden Schwartz, Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter and young gun Alex Pietrangelo are quiet stars of this team.   Pietro leads the team in minutes and has a 20 game plus points streak.   Backes leads the team in goals and points.   At least 5 players have 15 goals.  This team lacks a Ovechkin or Giroux but contain a versatile group of energy plugs serving one purpose each night.   Win at all costs and don’t blow it all in the third period.   Watching the Blues is a good time right now.  For all the Blues homers who claim the packed houses contain tag along worshipers, think again.  This fan base deserves a real winner.  We have only waited since 1967 for another shot at Cup glory.  If we seem over anxious over our chances, write it off as stalled patient optimism boiling over.   I watch this team good or bad, follow them, lie dead with them and stand tall with them at the moment.  Real fans stick around for every game.   There are 3 weeks left before the playoffs start.   My hopes begin and end with a playoff win.   We haven’t had one of those in 7 years.   St. Louis deserves a hot blooded round of playoff hockey here.   Let’s leave the Stanley Cup drama alone for now.  Focus on finishing strong, getting home ice advantage and winning a playoff game or series.   With the Zig Zag rogues in dark blue, all you can hope for is a baby step.   This week the Blues are in Anaheim and Los Angeles to continue a 7 game road trip.   The Blues’ improved road record has been the high mark of a consistent second half of hockey.

Cardinals start to hit and pitch in camp.  Games are fake but pitches and action are real and clues lie everywhere.   Waino’s quality starts, Freese’s newfound power and early signs of health issues with our senior staff have already dropped obsessive poison into the 2012 championship defense.   Carpenter’s neck injury isn’t as bad but just how bad is it?   Furcal has a sore leg?  Beltran’s body isn’t game ready?  These are professionals, right?  Give me 10 million dollars and play right field with a wooden leg and a strap on for tripod support.  Come on.  Baseball blues are back.  Spring training isn’t my blue heaven for these Redbirds.  Mike Matheny was given a quality set of cards to play with but how long before a few of them bend and break?  How will he do?  Depends on who plays and who sits.   The roster consists of more than a few aging veterans hanging on the thread of past injuries.   Beltran, Berkman, Carpenter, and Furcal all take the field like ticking timebombs.   Matheny seems to know what he is doing and is taking a direct no bullshit approach, but it’s only spring training.   Wait until late May or early June.   Wait until a losing streak.   The real talent and worth of a new manager is how he handles adversity and a real shit stack of fate.   Matheny has respect, strength and a juicy roster.   However, as found on every MLB roster, landmines lie everywhere and one bad day can turn a season on its head.   That’s baseball.  That’s sports.  A daily gamble and headache.   A win only increases greed and need. A  loss calls into question everything a fan knows is right or wrong.   You don’t truly win anything in this game until you throw a cut fastball, watch it soar to medium depth in left field and fall in Allen Craig’s mitt to finish off  the most improbable World Championship run ever.   February and March bring reassessment, rebirth and expectations larger than moderation for a St. Louis Cardinals team still feeling the buzz of a triumph.   Anybody who tells you Game 6 has left their head is lying big time.   Through loss and key gain, the Cardinals are riding high again and won’t go down without a fight.   This roster is built to win without Pujols, but how far can it run on older legs?   Questions surround every corner.    It has only begun.

*Big season for Motte/closer role for Cards.   If Motte is great, a huge problem disappears and the Cards gain 10-12 more wins per season.  If Motte falls to earth and finds his fastball too straight, problems persist in the 9th inning again.  Motte was a big reason the Cards turned things around in 2011.  He took over the closer role in August and sealed a leak previously left for dead by Ryan Franklin, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas.   Motte developed a second pitch and turned into a dominant righthanded threat.    Will that continue?  Motte asked for 2.4 million in arbitration and got 1.8 million for 2012.   His performance affects the entire team, especially a rotation held together by duck tape.

Music of the Week-“Hometowns” By the Band of Skulls.  Slow, melodic, low key and perfect.   Suck this in and breathe easy.

Mumford and Sons’ second album is my most anticipated album of the year.   Their first collection, Sigh No More, took the country by storm and turned them into folk rock kings.   Their second effort is described by lead singer Marcus Mumford as “doom folk”, which means more of the same and that is just fine.   Keep the good tunes rolling with your second effort.   Mumford specializes in storytelling, crowd pleasing banjo blasts and hymm like blues tales.   Here is a track from their soon to be released second album.   It’s called Lover’s Eyes.

*The General’s Tunes-The lost and found Buffa Section.   James Blunt’s “All the Lost Souls” for 3 dollars at Shop N’ Save.  This former British soldier can croon the ballads and deliver with purpose.  A smoother yet just as dark male version of Adele.  Tunes like “Carry You Home” and “Same Mistake” reveal a mellow yet torn side of a talented ballad singer.   Blunt is just that with his music.   A crafty radio voice who seems too good to be true.   For 3 dollars, I’ll take it.

*Black Keys Song of the Week-Leavin Trunk, from the album, The Big Come Up.  Telling you this band is awesome has lost its muster after the 19th mention.   I can only tell you this two man band is one of the best musical revelations in the past 20 years.   Their music is timeless, consistent, full of juicy blues funk and is a mood boost.

*New Artist of the week.  Hanni El Khatib.   This blues garage punk artist combines wicked Keys like guitar hooks with a well worn and worked voice meant for a dive bar located deep in the love dungeon.   Spotted on Showtime’s Californication, Khatib’s new album released in September is very good and deserves a listen.  Here is a taste.

Coffee Drink of the Week-Dark roast, Sumatra blend, kick in 2 shots of espresso.   Ladies and gents, I give you a Black Eye at Starbucks.  Gorillas could bathe in this liquid. Strong as an ox and very tasty.   This coffee could claim an aisle at a paint thinner shop, walk itself to your hand and build you a bench.  Its bold.  Starbucks has a new size drink and its called the Trenti.  A 30 ounce blast of iced coffee for 3.45 that will last a solid needy soul at least 35 minutes.   Starbucks is unrolling new food selections, but keeping the family core wrapped around the almighty coffee bean.   They know what they are and what they do best.  Make strong erotically alarming coffee.    Without coffee, the crime rate would go through the roof.

MU loses in first round.  No madness here my friends.  Just quiet death.  You hear that….its the sound of a choking sensation. Classic Tigers collapse. Another great season dies an early death. SEC bound.  I am a bandwagon rider here and watch them sparingly, but overlooking their choking trend is hard to hold your tongue on.  Being a former MU student also gives me room to slap this team.   They must be reading from the Tony Romo big game playbook.   Losing to Norfolk in the first round while SLU beat Memphis and ran MSU to the buzzer is completely embarrassing.    Another season up in smoke.

Random Hits-

Jeremy Lin, anyone?   The sound of a deflating boner can be heard around the NYC skyline.

While the Caps resemble a trainwreck, Ovechkin is still the most exciting player in the league. The Russian Entertainer scored 2 more goals tonight in Detroit to give him 32 in a season disguising a slow death in Washington.

21 Jump Street was a letdown yet not a disappointment.   I went in with low expectations.  The remake garnered solid reviews, looked decently funny and seemed like a logical choice to hit a theater but I was left unsatisfied.   The problem here was overachieving.   The directors, writers, and stars all tried REALLY hard to make a funny retro remake that called on all buddy comedies and scored with young audiences.   Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are fine, but the overall product here adds up to a hollow slice of Hollywood fluff sent out to confuse audiences into thinking what they are watching is inventive and original.    Just another retread.   You can stop now Hollywood.

Tweet of the Week-From Dwayne Johnson

“Rise and grind – the paycheck aint earnin’ itself. 24/7”

Dan McClaughlin has returned to Fox Sports Midwest after quitting the Jack Clark/Josh Hancock diet.  He left the twins at rehab and is back in the saddle again, for better or worse.  Let’s run back a little bit real quick.  McClaughlin burned out in October, getting his 2nd DWI of the year as the Cards ran towards the title.   He was nearly fired and would have been if Bill DeWitt Jr. had the final say.   He was sent into aggressive rehab, stopped kicking it old school and lost over 40 pounds or one ass cheek from a Kardashian.   Good for him and FSN, which requires mildly annoying news commentators with quirky natures and recycled senses of humor.   Danny Mac is back and without a small chinese boy in his stomach.  The gang is back in the FSN booth.

Sergio Martinez, a lightweight champion, needed 11 rounds to dismantle Irish contender Matthew Macklind on Saturday, but aligns himself for a quality fight that may include Manny Pacquaio or Floyd Mayweather Jr. if they decide to not fight each other again.  Since all parties are afraid of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and his sledgehammer fists, Martinez will look to land a big fight and he deserves it.  He is undefeated in the past 5 years and has slowly climbed to the top of his division.  A quick counter puncher with power, Martinez is an aging lion like Bernard Hopkins, but carries plenty of ability and hunger to be the best.  If Floyd and Pac Man don’t want to share a ring, they should invite Sergio into the ring.

By the way, one can hope that proud immensely likeable Puerto Rican fighter Miguel Cotto lasts the entire fight against Floyd and lives to take the challenge against young gunner Alvarez, the Mexican champion who is 21 years old, packs C4 on his fists and needs a challenge.   Alvarez will end Shane Mosley”s career(chasing one last paycheck) on the undercard to the Mayweather Jr.-Cotto fight card and need someone to fight.  Hopefully, Cotto takes that chance.   Boxing needs to get exciting again because plenty of players exist in the game today.   Leave the business out of it and get in the ring with a man who could take you down.

You learn a lot of things in life.   How to drive.  How to love.  How to cook.   How to survive.   The one thing you don’t learn is how to deal with death.   It shocks, befalls, rips and shakes us in so many ways there isn’t a chance to win.   They tell us to celebrate a life.  When we do that, we get so close to what made them wonderful that it hurts too much.    Every time I think about Meme, I want to talk to her, tell her how I’m doing, listen to her tell me what I should do and go see her.  The biggest obstacle with death is that its impossible to ever truly communicate with them again.   Life sucks at times.   Death sucks every time you let it in your life.

Kids are powerful.   They can change your mood in a second and require you to focus in.   Vinny goes down to sleep at 8pm and I have to go into his room a couple times to rebink him and make him pass out.   Sometimes, I lay him in the middle of the bed, put the bink in his mouth and leave and other times I hang out there and stare at my kid.  He looks up at you like the man standing over him is a million dollars worth of cool and it can cure a rough day.   Honestly, Vinny is my little prince and I am his soldier.  All day, I run around work, making money, doing my job and I come home to my prince and my queen.   Each day includes a decent array of duties and moments, but nothing beats looking down at something you helped create.   Kids are powerful little beings.

Goon may be the best hockey film since Slapshot.   A movie about enforcers beating the shit out of each other for a living has to pay serious homage to the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers cheek crunching teams that lived by the rule of “If They Couldn’t Beat You, They Could Beat the Shit Out of You”.   Sean William Scott plays the lead character, a walk on fighter with a special ability to pound faces into mashed paper but the juicy role here lies in Liev Schrieber’s part as an aging fighter trying to take down the peoples champ in Scott’s new player.   Schrieber played the role as a tribute to old tough guys like Bob Probert and Dave Schultz, the latter being a Philly Flyer who was nicknamed the Hammer.   Schrieber is the reason to see Goon, a must see for any hockey fan.

And I am done here.   Closing up shop and getting some sleep before the grind begins again in a few hours.  Take care and thanks for reading.

Goodnight and good luck,






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