The Independent Thinker

This is the one you take right before you go to bed.   The quick dose of unfiltered opinion that doesn’t have an overall meaning but carries enough narrative strength to give off the impression something productive happened.  Ideas Up for Blogging Auction.

As I watch Robert Downey Jr. take me through Sherlock Holmes 2 scene by scene on this Blu-Ray feature, allow me to fire off a few things here.

  • The Cardinals get a big series against a bad team.    Beating the horrible Rockies 3 games out of 4 doesn’t constitute a nation wide address, but in my eyes, the Cards are learning to win at home and beating this team down is what playoff teams do.   Win, win, and win again.   Losing a single game to the Rockies hurt enough, so the series had to be taken.   It’s a huge win for many reasons.  Lance Lynn reminded you why it’s okay to let Chris Carpenter(more on him in a few) go for the season and why he is a National League All Star.  He pitched 6 gutsy innings without his best stuff and stopped a nasty 3 game losing streak.  He has 11 wins before the All Star break.  Without his contributions alone, the Cards are a bad team.  He passed the test today.   The test of falling from grace and coming back to life again.  Lynn has hit an innings wall yet he can still pitch.  Carlos Beltran has 60 RBI and leads the National League.  Jason Motte has 19 saves(albeit theatrical ones) and finished the job tonight in an appearance that wasn’t entirely needed but I’m all for padding closer’s stats.   At the end of the night, the Cards were 5 games over .500 and close to the Pirates and Reds in the standings.   Let’s look closer.

*5 Cardinals are all stars.   Yes, it’s not right that the All Star Game decides home field advantage in the playoffs but that is the way it is at the moment and fighting over it only loses oxygen so let’s pass it up the fuck up.  The All Star is important because it gave the Cards the home advantage over the Rangers and played a huge part in our triumph in 2011.  The fact that David Freese sneaked in yesterday only makes our chances better.   The fan voting got Pablo Sandoval into the mix over David Wright and that is downright stupid.   However, fans decide one game a year and it will never change.   Freese has solid numbers and deserved a spot.   He is hitting .286 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI.  His numbers are second only to Wright.  I don’t need to hear anywhere that he doesn’t deserve it.   Freese is a hometown kid, a World Series hero and a solid third baseman.   Beltran, Lynn, Yadi Molina and Rafael Furcal join him in an excellent representation(all fan voting and no Tony La Russa selections) for the Birds.  Tuesday will be an exciting night to see TLR madness unfold one more time and hopefully see The NL bring it home.

*Chris Carpenter is done.   We all knew it.  Now it’s time to get over it.   Carpenter wasn’t going to pitch through a nerve injury in his shoulder.   No way.   Shut him down, get it fixed and have ready for 2013.  We can all whine how unfortunate it is and how Carp’s body is made out of parts these days, but that is the nature of the business.   We all know what he can do when healthy and if you forgot already, revisit September and October of 2011.  He threw 4 complete games in September, including the last game of the season to send us into the postseason.  He outdueled Roy Halladay to win the division series with a complete game dominating performance.   He pitched the Cards past the Brewers and Rangers in route to a World Series title.   Carpenter will be back and will be effective again.   After 6 surgeries, I can’t count the guy out.

*Speaking of persistent pitchers, Jason Isringhausen is still playing and he is doing it in LA with Albert Pujols as a member of the Angels.    Years after being cast out by Cardinals fans after a disastrous 2008 season, Izzy is getting paid to come out of the bullpen and pitch effectively.   He got his 300th save in New York last year and is in the American League this season and its a courageous body of work.   Izzy’s six surgeries(3 on his right arm) usually knock out baseball players.   Izzy plays on because he loves the game and not just because he wants a paycheck.  He is the exception to the rule and proof that a heart never stops ticking until the owner is ready.    Izzy is all heart and will.

*Allen Craig is officially the most underrated power hitter in baseball.   43 games, 13 home runs and 43 RBI to go with two stints on the disabled list.   Craig continues to hit, produce and convince me he can be a full time player.   His rise along with Jon Jay’s play in center are proof that the Cardinals farm system is able to produce talent that needs a few tweaks but can be highly productive.  Craig is the reason Lance Berkman’s 12 million dollar salary can go away in 2013.   That’s savings and wins at the same time.

*Kyle Lohse is having a helluva walk year.   8-2 with a decent ERA and a consistency lacking in the previous 3 years.   He has been pitching solid since the middle of 2011.   He  was the best pitcher in 2011 overall and is doing it again this season with a sharpened array of pitches and the intelligence to know when to throw them.  Good for him and us.    Do you keep him after the season if he keeps this up?  Sure, but not at 4 years.   You only walk down that road once.

*Matt Holliday deserved to be an All Star over Jay Bruce and all you have to do is look at the stats.   Since April 19th, Holliday has been on fire and I love to see his critics in St. Louis crawl under a fucking rock when he plays so damn well.   The 17 million dollar bargain(see Carl Crawford’s deal in Boston and Jayson Werth in Washington) continues to hit everything.   He collected 2 more hits last night and 2 RBI.   He now has 14 HR and 56 RBI to go with a .318 batting average.  In his last 10 games, he is hitting .459.   He hits everything hard, hustles like he is trying to stay on the team and has improved in the outfield.   Holliday is the hardest working guy on the team, and all you have to do is look at his jersey to see why.

*Tony La Russa can stir the pot without being the manager of any team.   His All Star omissions of “kicking impossible” Johnny Cueto irked Dusty Baker, even though Tony selected Bruce over Holliday.   Here is the deal.   La Russa is a sure fire Hall of Famer and Baker isn’t.   Dusty has never won the World Series because his teams simply weren’t good enough and he has no clue on how to push his team past limits.   Could Dusty juggle 14 starting pitchers and lose a player in 2002 and propel his team to the pennant?  No way.   Dusty is a jealous old hack who is envious of what La Russa has accomplished.  I hope Tony sent Dusty a fuck you card telling him the 10 reasons why he is managing the All Star game for the third time in Cardinal red and Dusty is on team #3 trying to get there for the first time.

*The Bullpen is the Achilles heel of this team.  Pure and simple.  The rotation has pitched well in the past month and over the course of the season.   The bullpen is the team giving up leads, allowing runs late and giving off an uncertainty that leaves a nasty after taste in a fan’s mind.   I feel safe with no one in the pen right now.  It doesn’t matter how the starters or offense do if a bullpen can’t hold a lead.  The Cardinals have lost a ton of one run games lately.   Ask me what the biggest need is and its bullpen help at the deadline.

*Whether or not the Cards need a starter is up to Jaime Garcia.   If his time table is positive for a return in August, then we don’t need a starter.   If it’s delayed or uncertain, find an arm.  Carpenter is down.   Lynn, Wainwright, Lohse, Westbrook and Joe Kelly are in.   They are doing a fine job and holding up well into the middle of the season.   However, Lynn and Waino’s work load might reach a questionable limit soon.   John Mozelaik needs to keep a look out for an arm.   I am not talking about Zach Greinke or Cole Hamels.  It will be a low hanging fruit probably, which explains my need to examine the area before acting quickly.  I have a bad feeling Jon Jay will be trade bait and not Shelby Miller.

*Right after the All Star break, we take on the Reds for three games in Cincinnati.  A huge series.  The Cardinals are 2.5 games behind the Pirates, who own a 2 game lead over the Reds.   We have 6 games against the Pirates in August, but here is what we need to do.   Be a better team at home.  We are only 21-19 at home and for a team classically strong on home turf, that number is downright atrocious.  Get it together at Busch.

Moving on while I can hold off my baseball addiction meds.

  • The Blues signed David Perron to a four year deal worth 15 million, in a move that signifies hope and assurance.   Perron missed 90 games due to a head injury and the Blues showing the faith to lock him up for four years at nearly 4 million per season is a good risk for the franchise.  Perron scored 21 goals in only 50 games and is a difference maker on the ice.  This is his middle contract and a good shot to see what he brings now that he has security.  I always said the young three were going to have to show something new and Perron is easily the sharpest of the Berglund-Oshie-Perron combo.   Berglund got a 2 year deal before 2011-2012 and Oshie is up for a new deal at the moment.   My feeling is that The Blues will hand Oshie a 3 year deal worth 3.5 million annually.   He is still young, relatively cheap so its easier to keep him than lose him.  However, Oshie may resist a long term deal, reach for another 1 year deal only because he would be a restricted free agent after the 2012-2013 season and get the kind of contract Perron received or better elsewhere.

*The Blues also won’t be making any huge signings this offseason but will probably trade for help.   Bobby Ryan and Shane Doan are two creatively sound options for GM Doug Armstrong to reach for.   Ryan gives you the goal scorer that is needed and a young player with years ahead of him if the Ducks decide to dangle him out the window.   Doan is a proven scorer who can fit in well with this team.   A top line defenseman is also desirable but looking for one that works isn’t easy in this thin market.   After the 2012-2013 season, the Blues lose a ton of payroll and face a better market.    It’s interesting to imagine what is going on in the mind and mobile device of Armstrong, President John Davidson and Owner Tom Stillman.   The Blues can afford to lose Matt D’Agostini and Jamie Langenbrunner if it means acquiring some younger more talented help.   The Blues are almost there when it comes to being a legit Cup threat.

*Elsewhere in hockey, Sidney Crosby and The Penguins make a ridiculous wager of the bank and the soul with a 12 year deal, The Minnesota Wild make their Miami Heat move and sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and Martin Brodeur makes the right decision to end his career in New Jersey and stay away from The Blackhawks.  Who gives out 10-12 year deals in a contact sport?  I laugh at teams like the Penguins giving a concussion prone superstar a 12 year deal.   The Wild have to earn it now that they are paper threats.   Brodeur going to the Blackhawks would be like Pujols leaving the Cardinals, which is not classy at all.

  • The Rams have absolutely nothing going on but offseason shop talk.   Bradford’s future is being stripped and remodeled every day on NFL prime time but what is the difference if you have nothing to go off.   Bradford enjoyed a decent if not great debut season, got banged up and looked horrible in his second season and now has his third offensive coordinator overseeing the operation.   What’s not to love?
  • What needs to be watched in theaters?  After making another plug for my website,, I will tell you The Amazing Spider Man was a solid reboot and erases my hurtful memories of Tobey Maguire as Spider Man and gives Emma Stone another showcase.   Oliver Stone’s Savages is an intoxicating trip through the sweetness and bitter regret of the drug business.   Call Stone a risky attention hogging filmmaker, but isn’t that the point?   When he swings at something, he always has two hands on the bat.  Ted is the best comedy of the year because it handles a risky concept with the ease and skill of a pro.  Seeking A Friend At the End of the World is for the hopeless romantics who need a little breath of fresh air and works so well because Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are brilliant.
  • The Dark Knight Rises gets closer and closer to my eyes.   I have a very evident and vocal boner for this movie.   Nolan’s Batman films are so well done and fascinating to watch because he injects a timely message into each of them and makes you think.  The fierce ideal that good and bad aren’t simply black and white sides in this world.   There’s a gray area in those labels that is harder to fit into a neat realm than people give it credit for.   Nolan isn’t afraid to shed lights on our darkest traits.   Greed, power, ability, responsibility, regret, revenge and the darkness in each of us that is noticeable if not always engaged.
  • My son is a fighter.  Vinny beat the shit out of a kid in the gym daycare this week and I am part proud and part scared.   Is this the life a parent hates to foresee?  Being the parent who gets called about your son’s violence towards others and not the other way around.   Vinny is a monster for a 9 month old.  He is 24 pounds, all baby muscle, can stand on his own, crawl like a snake and do things other newbies simply can’t.   He didn’t just pounce on another 9 month old and throw some punches.  He had the tenacity to be separated, fake going for another toy and pounce on the kid again before being separated for good.   Vinny was up for a play and the kid wasn’t, and the result was clear.  My kid is a tough little bastard and not to be reckoned with.  Welcome to my new challenge.   Kids challenge your endurance in every way possible.
  • TV Section 

*The Newsroom on HBO gets picked up for a second season and after 2 hours, I can easily see why.  The show works and is a timely series.  Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue and monologues for television like David Mamet does for films.   People don’t speak this clear, proud, real or fast in real life so we appreciate it on a screen.  The interactions between Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson make the show for me.  An aging wolf talking to a seasoned pack leader.

*True Blood finally becomes “must watch” television for me in season 5.    Why?  Eric and Bill are finally teaming up instead of going head to head, which is stupid because Eric is so much older.   Alcide is finally getting his shot with Sookie, which needed to happen 2 seasons ago.   The show has a legit, entertaining bad guy in Christopher Merloni’s vampire instead of a lame witch, ferry or refugee.   Most of all, characters are evolving and showing new shades in it’s fifth round.  Count me in.

  • Boxing Recommendation-The reason a fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto could qualify as the fight of the year.   Young gun versus smart veteran.   Boxers turn into legends because they are smart fighters and know how to go about their business.  Canelo, the young Mexican champ with atom bombs for fists, needs a challenge and the proud Puerto Rican fighter Cotto can give it to him.   Cotto has a brilliant record and career of taking the tough fights and producing entertaining slug fests.   His only three losses came in tainted fashion against Antonio Margarito and losses to the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport in Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio.   Canelo has made a slow rise to more stiff competition, brushing off Shane Mosley in May and now needs a legit opponent.  Cotto could bring the fight to his doorstep in September now that the mentally unfit Victor Ortiz went down with a broken jaw.
  • Music Area-Band of Skulls are the one band you haven’t heard about who have two brilliant albums.  Punk rock done right.  Check out their live version of “Lay My Head Down” from their latest album, Sweet Sour.
The Buffa Rundown-Random Sentences
  • Emma Stone’s appeal lies in something deeper than beauty or skill.   Her presence can make any film better.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorcing isn’t a huge deal folks.  It happens all the time in Hollywood.   Let’s not trash Cruise’s beliefs or Holmes’ need to get out.   Scientology isn’t any crazier a religion or notion than believing one man climbed up atop a hill and laid down a set of commandments or believing in little angels flying around.  I hate it when the public instantly trashes the more popular or different thinking party.   Grow up my friends.
  • Traveling to different movie theaters is a fun experience that needs to be taken by any true cinema fan.   Plan your next trip to cinematic paradise by checking out our cinema spotlights on film-addict.
  • Movie adaptations from books are best being made differently than the book.   Who wants to read a reel for reel copy from a book?  The cinema is made for reinvention and imagination so let’s not cry over little details.   Movies are books in motion and it should be kept that way.   It’s impossible to please the book lovers so I implore all filmmakers to not even walk down that road.
  • Lee Child didn’t like the studio’s choice to cast Cruise as Jack Reacher in One Shot, one of Child’s books which was made into a movie.   The producers changed the title of the movie to Jack Reacher, kept Cruise and cut Child loose.  Good for both parties.  Child will never like the movie and the studio will never please Child.
  • Working out in this heat is a challenge of the mind and body.   That is all.
  • The secret to the success of the Sherlock Holmes movies lies in two things.   The chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law along with Guy Ritchie’s ability to inject his own brand of madness into the filmmaking process.   I thoroughly enjoy both these movies and await a third entry.
  • I am getting used to 100 degree temperatures.   Bodies can adapt to any kind of weather.
  • Dave Matthews Band lands in St. Louis next Wednesday and I will be there to see them do their thing.   Matthews and company put on a simple pleasure in their shows. Play for 2.5 hours and leave the fans satisfied.   At this point in their career, DMB are fan base pleasing artists searching for quiet innovation in a studio and fulfilling a promise onstage.   They aren’t making ground breaking music.  They are simply extending an open hand to their loyal fans by hitting the road for 6 months and failing to disappoint.  After a year off(mostly) from touring in 2011, DMB’s tour this year is in promotion of their new album, Away From the World, which lands in stores in September.
Well, that about wraps it up.  Thanks for reading and come back for more when the plate is empty.
Goodnight and good luck,




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