Thinking out loud here and putting the hands to work, with a glass of Cabernet and hot chai tea awaiting my hands as the rest of the head goes to work. This has to be done. The wife and kid are asleep. The house is quiet except for the faint soundtrack of souls under hypnosis, laundry running below and a television in my left ear. My kind of time to vent. Here we go. You know how this game plays. I write, you read, and in the end I go to reload and you decide whether to digest or simply click delete.
*The Cardinals are atrocious. It’s not visible in their record or their current standing in the wild card. Just look at their disgustingly inconsistent offense, leaking oil veteran players or the pitching that can’t buy a 1-2-3 inning. After coughing up a weekend series to the Nationals and taking a series at home from the Mets(who were hot coming in), the Cards were primed to push the Milwaukee Brewers back out of the race. I can stomach losing to R.A. Dickey, who has beaten us twice this year and is on his way to a Cy Young award with Steven Strasburg bowing out early. Flash forward to tonight and we have lost the series, let the pesky Brewers, once left for dead on the side of the road next to a dusty can of Milwaukee’s Best, back into the wild card race. If you happen to watch this team closely over the past month, you will be shocked that they are 9 games over .500 and currently hold a wild card entry spot. They played bad baseball in August and haven’t started September off too hot. What is wrong with this team? Everything. Almost. The lineup is horribly inconsistent, collecting a few runs and shutting down for games at a time. The starting pitching is getting shell shocked more often than not. The bullpen, equipped with more arms(in good ways and bad ways) is pulling its weight but starting to buckle. At the most important time of the season, the Cardinals are playing bad baseball and trending downward. The opposite of their play in 2011. I’m not saying this team can’t flip a switch and start killing teams again. I am saying it will only last 2-3 games before shutting down again. The Cardinals are doing everything possible to hand the second wild card spot away. The LA Dodgers aren’t going away and we head there for a more than crucial 4 game set in a week. Let’s go over some details.
*I won’t rant on and on about the 13 inning 4.5 hour loss to the Brewers on Friday, but I will say we squandered several scoring opportunities. After getting a 2-0 lead and Kyle Lohse going 6.2 inning, the offense didn’t score anything until the 8th inning and that was it. 4 runs in 13 innings and a 5-4 loss. I will say this. With runners at first and third and one out in the 11th inning of a tie game, Mike Matheny called for Bryan Anderson to pinch hit instead of Lance Berkman or Carlos Beltran. I wanted Berkman(I will explain later), but Matheny sent Anderson to the plate. The surfer dude who has 3 at bats all season, little MLB experience and zero chance of solving a crafty pitcher. Anderson watched strike three go by and the Brewers escaped, scored in the 13th and won. That was that. Bad move by Matheny. Very bad move.
*I would have liked to see Lance Berkman take his cuts there. While he is halfway useless in the field and lacks any true power, Berkman is still a smart hitter, can draw a walk or at least lift a fly ball to medium range in the outfield for a game winning sacrifice fly. He may strike out or pop up, but his chances of succeeding are far greater than Anderson’s. I don’t want to hear the La Russa 2007 All Star game excuse and have someone tell me Mike was saving Berk for later. No way. You have a chance to win a game and you go for it right there, when the clock is past 1am. Bad move and it costed us the game.
*Carlos Beltran is absolutely useless. The comeback player of the year candidate is playing on bum knees and has a bad wrist, which means he won’t be hitting for power until he gets rest. A lot of it. On Friday night he went 0-5 and didn’t hit a ball out of the infield. Either he watches too much Pedro Cerrano tape or he can’t get his legs under his swing. He will end the year hitting .250, cranking 28 homers and driving in close to 90 runs. That is it. He hasn’t had an extra base hit in 49 at bats. He hasn’t hit a home run since early August. Beltran can’t hit any better in the #2 hole than in the #3 or #4 hole. He is useless. A pinch hitter with a cannon in right for an arm but slow legs. He cuts off a base hit in the corner like Pedro Guerrero. It’s tough to watch a veteran fight it this late, but Beltran, barring a miraculous change of health, will be a third wheel for the remainder of the season.
*The unfortunate truth about Beltran brings a completion to the old man circle of Cardinal vets in 2012. A warranted risk at the beginning of the season, the truth has been laid out carefully. Bet on old bodies and you lose. Berkman has missed nearly 3 months, hit 2 home runs, driven in 7 runs and been a non factor. Beltran was productive until late August. Rafael Furcal was white hot until the all star break and then tailed off before ripping up his elbow in mid August. Chris Carpenter, to this point, hasn’t thrown a pitch in a regular season game yet in 2012. Add up all that cash and 39 million dollars won’t pull a full season of work from either investment. In 2013, only two bodies will remain. Cards general manager John Mozelaik took a risk when he signed Furcal, Beltran, Berkman and Carpenter to fresh contracts but you can’t blame him for throwing the deep pass on proven talent.
*The biggest problem with the Cards is their inability to get a huge hit in a clutch spot during a close game. Their record in one run baseball games and extra inning is truly horrendous and doesn’t signify a playoff team. Why are the Baltimore Orioles knocking on the Yankees door in 2012? They finish well, have a great closer and have the best record in baseball in 1 run games. Every team enjoys a blowout, but the true winners are the groups that finish first in a close battle. The 2012 Cards don’t do that at all. It maybe their undoing.
*Chris Carpenter returning is pivotal to the last 10 days of the season. If the Cards are still hanging onto the last Wildcard spot or in it, all hands are needed on deck. Please don’t forget what Carpenter did at the end of 2011. He was the difference making ace that catapulted the Cards into the World Series. He can come back and earn some of that 10 million dollar salary. Seeing him throw pain free for 2 weeks straight is a big deal. It means he is ready, once again, to compete in 2013. It also means he could return for a cameo appearance in 2012. I will take it. This is Chris Carpenter we are talking about. The tall righthander with the sweeping curve, deadly cut fastball and the intensity this team has lacked all year. Let the lion out of the cage if he has all four feet working.
*Matt Holliday is having a solid season and does more than most fans give him credit for. For all the fans who hated the way Albert Pujols lagged down the line on grounders or on lasers off the outfield wall, look at the way Holliday plays the game. Hard nosed and gritty. He runs out every grounder and runs the bases like a fullback. He has even improved his outfield work, which will never be remarkable but fits decently enough. He guts out injuries and constantly produces. Every bat in the lineup has endured an injury or slump but with the exception of a few games here or there Holliday has pushed through. His numbers back up his contract and suggest consistency. Who would you rather have, experts? Holliday or Carl Crawford? Let me hear your answers. How about Jayson Werth? Mo made the right choice and Holliday is worth the cash. His numbers aren’t as gigantic as Albert, but one player is trending down and the other is heading up. It’s a business.
*Allen Craig continues to produce and has to be the cleanup hitter the rest of the way.
*Yadi Molina is the true MVP. He does everything on a baseball field and I can only laugh at the people who scuffed at his 5 year, 75 million dollar contract. In addition to hitting .327 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI, Molina is the best catcher in baseball, throwing out 45 percent of would be base thieves. On Saturday, Ryan Braun tried to steal second base and Yadi gunned him down by a mile. He threw it so accurately that Skip Schumacher didn’t move his glove. Braun is having another MVP season but the suspicion around him will never leave now that the doubt has been let in the door. His attempt at second base completes the thought process that the substance he may have taken enhances the recovery but not the intelligence. Fuck him eternally. Yes, that was a Ryan Braun rant after a Molina praise.
*Tomorrow, we salvage a game against Milwaukee and go on the road against San Diego, a team playing great baseball since the All Star break. Beware of the losers standing in your path in September.
*Vladamir Tarasenko arrived in St. Louis this week. The new St. Louis Blue player is a Russian phenom and comes to the Midwest hoping to be the Blues equalizer on the ice. While their scoring improved last season, the Blues are in still need of a true goal scorer. Can Tarasenko become that threat? We will see. The guy off the bench that everybody fears will change the course of the game. His name carries weight coming into the NHL. What will his game bring? If you are lifelong Blues fan like me, watching the team since the early barn days on Oakland Avenue, you want to think Tarasenko is the answer to every sore knee prayer. That’s what October stands for. Blood soaked ice bravery. However, unless the rich fucks decide on how they want to split their millions, there may be another lockout in the NHL(the second in the last 10 years).
*The Rams open action later this morning against the fiercely talented Detroit Lions. The Lions are that team on the verge of deep playoff football action. Loaded up offensively and defensively with young talent, they can’t be fooled around with. This season opener won’t be easy to survive, much less win or barely compete in. The Rams have to get to Matthew Stafford, shut down Calvin Johnson, and stop a man named Suh from destroying both of Bradford’s shoulders. Game one will be a huge test of the Jeff Fisher era of Rams football. He better stock up on pain meds, pepto bismo and other stomach helpers. His post game press conference may feature a burning mustache.
*Andre Ward decimated Chad Dawson last night in a light middleweight boxing event on HBO. Ward is an undefeated fearless boxing specialist. He won an Olympic medal. He won a Super 6 Middleweight tournament that matched him with the best talent in boxing. Ward faced Dawson, one of the best light middleweight fighters in the world and destroyed him, beating him to every corner for 10 rounds before a stoppage. Ward is what boxing is all about. The sweet science personified in one man. He is easily in the top 3 boxers conversation, behind Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Ward is a great methodical boxer who reminds me of Joe Calzage, who retired undefeated. You just can’t hurt him or barely touch him no matter how hard you try in a ring. Dawson represented the best and Ward dominated him. He is a genuine threat to Floyd and Manny’s reputation and doesn’t back down from anyone. That can’t be completely said of Mayweather or Pacquiao.
*Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes on Sergio Martinez in a middleweight bout next Saturday. Chavez Jr. is trying to carve a place for himself among the greats in boxing. He is 41-0 but hasn’t fought a fierce opponent yet. Martinez is the middleweight champ and is at the top of his game. While it’s easy to respect Martinez(a fighter who picked up the sport at age 20, rarely done), I find myself rooting for the young buck in the Mexican champ Chavez Jr.. He is a good kid and the son of a legend. What people don’t know is the young Julio took his dad, drug riddled and alcohol driven, into rehab and got him cleaned up. He was told at an early age he would never be as good as his father and he busts his ass trying to prove them wrong. He isn’t careless. He is relentless. His training is similar to Floyd. Anytime and anywhere. His work ethic is unmatched. Why else would hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach work with him? He may not leave that fight on Saturday with a win but he will leave with Martinez’s respect. I have stepped into these fighters lives before they stepped into the ring by watching the truly mesmerizing show, 24/7 on HBO, narrated by Liev Schreiber.
*No Last Day hit bookshelves this past week and it is one Ex-Navy Seal’s account of taking down Osama Bin Laden. Mark Bowen(not his real name but close enough) is writing the book, taking into full gritty bloody detail the stakeout, planning and takedown of Bin Laden in May of 2011, almost 10 years after the horrible tragedy. I will be reading this book and do so proudly. I don’t need to hear the military or government try to make a fake stand about the content revealed in the book. The same crowd is also bitching and moaning about Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the mission, Zero Dark Thirty. Here is my take. It’s bullshit. No lives or identities are being put at risk here with a movie or book. In real life, Navy Seals are ghosts and protected. If there was a serious scare, Bowen’s book would have been squashed after page one. This is fake “face saving” being done by the United States government. Save it. Let the world hear about one of the greatest missions in the history of our country. The takedown of the ultimate boogeyman who rocked our livelihood and orchestrated an event that took nearly 3,000 lives in one morning. If there was a huge risk, why would 7 real Navy Seals be authorized to put their tactics and skills on the big screen in last January’s potent film, Act of Valor? In Act of Valor, 7 Seals were used in the film, without name of course, and their methods were on full display in a fictional tracking and capture of a terrorist cell. You see, this noise about the book is all smoke and mirrors. Enjoy the real life entertainment.
*What music am I listening to right now? The Tallest Man On The Earth. A folky Swedish singer-songwriter with the whiskey soaked voice of Dylan and the ability to conjure a mood with his hands on a guitar and his mouth in front of a microphone. Kristian Mattsson is his name and he is only 29 years old, putting together 3 albums and is a voice that can simply sweep you off your feet on a late night drive and whisper stories into your ear. Tales of love, loss, changes and soul searching. As is the case with David Gray, all you see is a man and his guitar telling stories. Stripped down musicians luckily aren’t a dying breed.
*September means the return of cable network giants like Boardwalk Empire, Dexter and Sons of Anarchy. All three are gems but Boardwalk is one I am looking forward to the most. Why? The stakes got higher after the conclusion of Season two, where Nucky Thompson(Steve Buscemi, the anchor of a top notch cast) finally became a gangster by killing someone close to him. This season, it’s 1923, the boom of opportunity and a new bad guy is in town. Gyp Rossetti, played by the stellar character actor Bobby Cannavale. Rossetti is a Sicilian from Italy who wants to take a piece of Nucky’s action, which only starts a war. Plenty of blood will be spilled and Gyp will be at the center of it. Watching the trailers, you get the feeling a memorable performance is taking shape. The show is full of Emmy worthy acting, but Cannavale is the true villain this series has lacked up to this point. The bad man amongst criminals. It’s going to be great. True villains are fun to watch and as worthwhile as good heroes. Cannavale, walking around in the three piece suit, the long barreled handgun, the top hat, and olive oil stained skin of a killer, was born to play this role.
*The life of Mr. Mom is an endless cycle of duties centered around the house. Being a worker for the majority of my last 10 years, I know this life on a part time basis but right now its full time and the change is visible. You get woken up at 5am for a diaper change and a bottle. Vincent rarely goes back to sleep. You can risk letting him toy around your room while you nap, but he may drag a cable box off the dresser and have it land on his head. That happened this morning. He gets breakfast, which involves pancakes, fruit or cereal. There is a reason my kid is a beast and that is he eats three good meals a day. You take him to the gym where you get that hour of dirty noise free time to blast weights, sweat a little and get a workout in. You scoop up the little brat and head to get coffee and home for a snack/bottle of milk and throw him down for a nap. Being up since 5am, when you leave the gym at noon, he will be down for the count before you receive your cup of joe. Look for the head slag to the left as you pull away from Starbucks. He sleep for an hour or two, and gets up hungry. He gets an assortment of meat, cheeses and veggies before a yogurt or pudding. The next two hours he moves around the house like a drunk midget spy, going for anything and everything in his reach. Dinner is fed, a bath is in order, some wrestling in the living room before a retirement to the bedroom for bedtime baby einstein. Don’t ask me why he watches this or other retarded annoying kids shows. They drain adult brain power but ignite the eyes of an infant. Get over it. He goes down around 730-8pm. He may get up around 11pm for a whine, cuddle or bottle, but you don’t go in that damn door unless he is crying out loud in an insane manner. A parent’s toughest test is resisting the urge to cave and let the true boss of the house, the little man himself, hold you in the palm of your hand. Vinny loves bath time, except getting his hair washed out of shampoo. Somehow getting water running down his face and halfway dunked for a rinse near the water doesn’t settle his needs. What makes this a good day? An insanely cute kid. Vincent gets away with a lot because he is adorable and tough. He’s endured a tough first year and it’s hard to come down on him. Sure, I scream back at him, beat him up a little, try to be hard on him but the kid is resilient. He turns one on Friday.
*Also, what is this notion that the American dad can’t or doesn’t want to change diapers. I am diaper changing fucking ninja. I don’t hesitate to handle the worse brownie mix overflow gaslight anthem barking turd that arrives out of my son’s anal region. Every day I see a public men’s bathroom that doesn’t have a diaper changing table. What the holy incessant fuck is going on? What is so harmful about your own child’s shit or piss packed diaper? Get over it. Train. Get your wipe patterns down. Get confident. Work your forearms out at the gym not to help you jerk off but to be able to hold both the child’s legs while you clean up a rash infused asshole. It’s a skill and something lacking in this country. Mom’s don’t own the home anymore. Dads are right there or need to be. If I have to start a revolution I will. Tomorrow maybe?
Right now I am starting the end of this message. Film-Addict is growing little by little. The Google Analytic’s are looking up and advertising is next. The mobile version is setting up to launch, where we will reach millions of movie lovers. Our goal is to lure you in with original takes on movies, offer fan connection, engagement and build our site up to be a global giant. I want the world’s attention. A little advice. See The Words but skip Cosmopolis but if you want a sure thing, go watch Killer Joe. If that isn’t available, seek out The Bourne Legacy.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and goodnight.
Your South St. Louis City cyber correspondent,
Dan L. Buffa
“The L is for Larry”