A stream of consciousness on an early Sunday morning starts now…
The Cardinals finally earned a run, delivered and took a win in Washington. Following a baseball team includes plenty of gut punches and heartache, but the moment your team is able to put together a worthy needed comeback effort, it’s a fair time to smile, do a small fist pump and have a drink. The win goes down in the books as a single victory, but in the hearts of many Cards fans across the country, the win meant much more. After playing 40 innings without scoring an earned run, the Cardinals stormed back in Saturday’s contest with the feared and highly skilled Nationals, scored 10 runs and won in dramatic late inning style. This is the kind of win that gets you out of a rut. The problem is the Cards have done this many times this season. Pulled off a huge comeback and then sank right back to the bottom of the good pile. Can this team pick their shit off the ground and finally walk? We shall see. First, lets take a look back at Saturday’s slug fest.
*It wasn’t like pitching wasn’t allowed in the game or defense wasn’t required, but this was a game of the bats. Head to head. Bat to bat. Power to power. There were 4 home runs in this game, and two from each side. The Nationals led 4-0 and 6-2 and then 8-7, but saw all three leads vanish. The Cards, dead and cold for 4 games that need to be erased immediately, didn’t stay down after the initial punch. We jumped on one of the best pitchers in the game. Jordan Zimmerman, one of the cogs of the Nationals brilliantly diverse rotation whose name sounds like a fashion designer. He allowed 8 earned runs for the first time in his young career. Given two four run leads, he blew both and gave the Cards life. Kyle Lohse received tough luck shitty defense behind him, but gave 4 earned runs on 9 hits in under 6 innings. Each bullpen had rough patches. This was an offensive game.
*The Cards didn’t look great today. Matt Holliday contributed a 2 run bomb to centerfield but he also made a horrible drop on a deep fly ball to left in the first inning that led to two runs. Daniel Descalso fumbled a ball at second base that led to a run. Allen Craig threw the laziest throw to home plate, allowing the Nationals to engineer an extra run in the 6th inning to take the lead 9-8. The defense was suspect and the pitching sucked until the 8th inning.
*I don’t like Bryce Harper. By that I mean he is a very good young ballplayer. It isn’t fun facing him because he forces the issue and takes chances. Sure, he is hitting .258 and strikes out a ton and carries a mouth of a 10 year vet, but the kid is a game changer. He sits in the #2 hole, cranks home runs, hustles out of the box on everything, forces infielders and outfielders to respect his speed and can play a fine center field. He doesn’t like to suck and doesn’t mind being a villain to other teams. Today, he forced the issue by going from first to third on a base hit in the 6th inning and then coming home when the Cards tried to catch another runner trying to take second base. Harper did what few players do in this modern game. Force the player to throw him out. There are few things Harper can’t do and if you are a Nationals fan, that’s fantastic. If you are on any other team’s side, it’s a burden that will never go away. The kid backs it up.
*Jason Motte doesn’t mind Harper. In two faceoffs, Motte has struck out Harper swinging each time on a fastball riding high and away. The first time, Harper glared back at Motte, wondering how he missed the pitch. The second time, on Saturday, the kid just sat down and accepted his fate. Being a rookie closer, getting saves on the road in tough environments is destructive territory. Motte blew through the heart of the Nationals order for his 32nd save.
*Today, we face Steven Strasburg, the young legend. As he tip toes down towards his innings limit coming off Tommy John Surgery, Strasburg is going to bring the heat and intensity in a way few young pitchers can. Gio Gonzalez may be as good of a pitcher as Strasburg, but the persona and reputation brought by the right hander is unmatched in the National League. I don’t think the ace of a rotation should be shut down for arm strength concerns, especially when that team is in first place, ready to make a deep playoff run and playing great baseball. If they were so worried about his innings, why not start him up in mid May so he doesn’t miss playoff starts. Washington didn’t play this situation right at all. Nonetheless, the Cardinals go against Strasburg for a series split and I can tell you it won’t be easy. Expecting Jake Westbrook to match him is like asking Damian Marley to produce a clean urine sample. However, after Waino and Lohse got smoked, it would be nice to see Jake deliver the grit and give us a chance. If the hapless Marlins can get to Straz, the Cards have a shot.
*It’s good to see Yadi Molina jump right back into the lineup and deliver big hits mere days after suffering the collision at home plate. The man has brass balls.
*Let me make something clear. Rafael Furcal going down is a blow because of his presence at shortstop, his defense and the way his bat can change the bottom of the lineup. Losing him isn’t a good thing, but knowing he could avoid surgery and be ready for 2013 sounds better than thinking about the empty area that could have arrived at a pivotal position in spring training. I will tell you right now that Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson aren’t the answers now or next year. They are the same player. Light hitting defensive minded shortstops. If the Cards had any sense, seeing Furcal’s frailty, take the salary that arrives after the departure of Berk and Lohse and start thinking about a long term option at short. With Furcal’s injury and the lack of depth in the organization, the Cards need to fill this area. Daniel Descalso isn’t at his best defensively at shortstop and can’t hit enough to play every day. He is a great bench bat/defensive substitute. Mozelaik can’t continue to solve this internally. This season he is out of choices, but next year he needs to find a true long term option even if Furcal does come back.
The Other News and Notes
*Here’s some artists on my latest mix of tunes. XX, Sarah Jaffe, The Tallest Man on Earth, Melody Gardot, The Lumineers, Eric McCarley, The Black Keys, Rodriguez, The Gaslight Anthem, Ryan Bingham, The Who and a man named Johnny Cash.
*Mitch Romney’s campaign slogan is called “recover” in the same design used for Obama’s change. Really, Mitt, copying off others instead of reinventing a new brand. You aren’t changing anything yet. Fucking Republicans.
*I like being in the middle of the political parties and races. That way I am not bias towards one party’s candidate. I don’t have to vote for the left or right. I vote for the person. This is the reason people can’t watch The Newsroom. They are so hellbent on one side that a show covering past news events pisses them off. Tying yourself to one boat limits your opportunities to learn more about the world of politics, the laws and way the world can turn.
*I am one of the people who believe an elite team of Navy Seals gained access to Osama Bin Laden’s home and murdered him on May 1st, 2011. I just know it. I don’t give all the credit to the President or the previous President. I give direct praise to the brave men and women who went onto enemy turf, sniffed out a bad man and took him down. I will be reading the eye witness account of the Ex-Navy Seal’s book chronicling the mission,No Easy Day, when it arrives on September 11. Call me a sucker, but I love true crime. You either believe what happened that night or you go with an unsubstantial opinion that Bin Laden was killed several years ago. I go where the evidence points me. If that makes me a sucker, then so be it. At least I will have good reading. You think something else happened. Write a book about it.
*I have been watching a lot of crap on DVD lately. Get The Gringo with Mel Gibson, the pale shade of a talented crazy movie star gone straight to DVD. Bernie with Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey could have been an enjoyable black comedy but instead it was porous and slow. The Raid: Redemption was a straight up bone crunching action overkill Japanese martial arts showdown and while it was cool to watch, the lingering effect was the DVD rental was a correct viewing format. Last night I watched a full blown chick flick called L!fe Happens. Yes, that’s an exclamation point in the title. I am a good husband. If I rent a guy film one night, I try to get something for the wife and I the next night. This movie turned out to be a little gem. Krysten Ritter starred and co-wrote the screenplay, playing a single mom living with her two best friends while raising a kid that was an accident yet forced her to change. The plot and script are by the books, but the performances of Ritter and Kate Bosworth raised the film to a slightly higher level. They didn’t turn the brutally tough life of a single parent into a fake world of opportunity. They kept it grounded in reality and Ritter was convincing as a young woman who lost a little of herself with one bad decision. The movie charmed me a bit and it would have made a fair date night in theaters.
*There’s a lot of greed and disconnection in sports. Dishonesty as well. The NHL may have their second strike in ten years. The NFL referees are on strike. The NFL lost part of training camp to a strike last year. Major League Baseball is finding cheaters every month. Boxing is finding cheaters every other month. A legendary cyclist was stripped of his titles for supposed doping. When will it all stop? Just pointing out what I see.
*Keep this name in mind when you think of new power punching boxers. Middleweight Gennady Golivkin, a tank at 158 who fought his first fight in the USA on Friday night fights on HBO and beat a fighter in Grzegorz Proksa, who had beaten several good fighters, to a pulp in 4 rounds. Golivkin is a dynamic puncher with a solid jab, a fierce hook to the body and a straight right that buckles necks. Keep this guy’s name in your mind.
*Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez have a reason to hate each other and each side is justified in their thinking. Martinez is a veteran middleweight southpaw who has crafted a career of beating big names in big ways. Chavez Jr. is a famous boxer’s son who is unbeaten with a belt but hasn’t fought a big name. The older fighter wants to see the young power puncher earn his spot by beating him, while the younger fighter wants to convince the older fighter and many around him that he is a true champion. Great pre fight buildup that is legit. Watch this on two episodes of HBO’s fascinating series, 24/7.
*I have watched the Newsroom finale 6 times. That’s a confession. Also a reminder of how great and meaningful Aaron Sorkin’s show is. It’s a series that challenges the viewer to seek out their own take on a real news story. Can people over the age of 95 acquire a photo ID to vote in all 50 states? What are the roots of the Republican party and have they gone wrong? Is America the greatest country in the world and if not, where did it go wrong? Sorkin says all the little things we want to say but don’t have the platform to shout from. Watch this show my friends. It will get your mind working and your mouth moving. A moving show.
*My next show to watch. AMC’s Hell on Wheels. After several false starts, I may give this series a couple hours to woo me. Something about the building of a railroad, avenging gunslingers, the potential of Anson Mount and feedback I am getting makes this one a show to seek out. It’s this series or HBO’s Game of Thrones or AMC’s Walking Dead. Hell on Wheels gets my first look.
That’s all. I mean it. Over and done.
Oh, one more thing. Is it normal for a nearly 1 year old kid to have the leg strength of a sumo wrestler? Just wondering if my kid is a mutant or just damn strong.
Thanks for reading and goodnight,
Dan L. Buffa
“The L is For Larry”