Here is the noise in my head at the moment….
When the Cardinals are done playing, I will be a calmer man. I will breathe easier, roll through my nights smoother and keep a cooler head about the everyday lifestyle of a baseball maniac. This team has a stranglehold on my heart and nerve and will never let go, no matter how many kids or incidents in life I have. It’s a lifelong obsession. This is why they get the biggest section of my blogs. They are the lifeline to my sports soul and permanently corrupted it. It’s not even fair to the Rams. If I am a man on the edge of the ocean talking about the Rams and Blues, I am right next to the shark’s mouth when it comes to the Cardinals. When they stop playing the days are easier if not as much fun. There’s a thrill to gameday that can’t be put into words easily. An anticipation that builds throughout the non playing hours up until the first pitch. Will this day be a win, loss, or a season changing triumph or collapse? The thrill of sports lies in it’s unpredictable natures and tendencies. When I say the marriage with the Cards ends in October/November, I mean it. The divorce is final and only rekindles in February. We each off to our respective vacation homes recovering from the previous 7 months and setting up for another. While lives end and many start, baseball always comes around on the calendar. The reason I am rambling about this is my latest effort to explain the beast that is the St. Louis Cardinals. My wife said they don’t have it this year. She said this in the middle of Monday’s horrible defeat in San Diego. I didn’t go as far as disagreeing with her, but I had to point out last year and the comeback. This is a natural defense mechanism. As a sports fan, it’s okay for you to call your team shitty. If someone else, even a wife or close friend, says these things, it’s an attack on your internal submarine. She had some sense in her corner, but I had to make a better point. The point is this fucking team won’t go down so easy. They will fight, struggle, plunge, rise again, surge and fall again until the end of September. The Cardinals do this every year. They keep your head up but aren’t afraid to slam it down. Up until the Yankees decided to underestimate the Orioles, the Cards were one of the few teams in baseball that was guaranteed to be in the race for the division. This year, they have gotten more than a shove out of the way by the Reds as the Brewers did in 2011. If they chose to recover, get the wild card and surge into the playoffs is their own inner soul predicament and a lingering factor in our minds. Will they do it again or just die off this time? I can promise you this. They won’t do it quickly. They will cling to life, like the character in the movies who you figure would have bit the bullet by now but seems to annoyingly stay alive. That is this team. They are relentlessly infuriating, inconsistent and not bad enough to fit the doomed catalog. Here are a few notes on them before I detonate the bomb in my head residing around their heart beat intact corpse.
*Carlos Beltran is still useless at the plate but a weapon in the field.
*If the Cardinals care about winning, they won’t let Jaime Garcia start a game on the road, much less the most important start of the year for the team, this Saturday in LA.
*The answer to the previous riddle. Let Shelby Miller get a shot. After Lance Lynn blows a huge fiery hole in the road trip this week, Miller can hopefully clean up his mess.
*Lynn shouldn’t be allowed to start a game. His shoulder can’ t last more than an inning or two. It’s burnt out.
*Chris Carpenter’s return, with Jake Westbrook’s injury and Jaime’s troubles, is ultra important at the moment. Get him on the mound because his right arm could save the season.
*The Cardinals are a bizarre exercise in self mutilation. Given an opportunity to escape an inning, the Cards starters give up 2 out RBI hits to the opposition. On the cusp of an escape, they give up back breaking hits. In tonight’s game, Kyle Lohse(who pitched a decent if not great game) gave up a two out base hit that allowed the winning run to score. That can’t happen. Lost in the shuffle of a horribly weak hitting lineup is a starting rotation that is going off the hinges. The Cards ERA as a rotation is right around 8 runs per nine innings in September. The entire machine in Cardinal nation is coming off the hinges.
*As I write this, the Cards just got swept by the San Diego Padres, one of the hottest teams in baseball since June 1st who happen to be 5 games under .500. Going into the series with the West Coast secrets, I knew it was a tough matchup but failing to get one win while the Pirates waste away and the Dodgers fidget is bad business. Now, the Phillies and Brewers are within 3-4 games of the second wild card spot while the Braves run off with the first spot. If the Dodgers lose, the Cards miraculously could still cling to the second wild card spot. In mid June, the Cards were eight games over .500. Now, they are only seven games over .500. What does that mean? They have gone nowhere. In three months, this team has stalled. Blame it on a lack of situational hitting, an inconsistent rotation, worn down bullpen or a number of direct injuries, but remember this. The Cardinals haven’t been able to produce big plays, hits and wins on a regular basis in 2012. Their depth has been questioned and I think our offensive future is in question with the inbound disappointments of Pete Kozma, Shane Robinson, Steven Hill, Bryan Anderson and so on. Neither of those players are future big players. Garcia can’t pitch well on the road. Is that young nerves or permanent mental sclerosis? Berkman, Beltran and Furcal all wore down and came to a halt by August. All these things make a fan wonder. What does this team have to offer not only the next three weeks but the next few years? Next year’s team won’t look that different. Kyle Lohse may be gone from the rotation. Berkman will be replaced by Allen Craig/Matt Carpenter. Second base will feature a full time free agent or a platoon of utility guys. The bullpen will look similar. Why question a team with a wild card lead with just under three weeks to play? We just got swept by the Padres in shutdown style.
The biggest problem with being a passionate Redbirds fan is a double edged sword. You are happy to see they constantly contend but you are also confined to a success required franchise. The Cards aren’t just expected to win divisions but win pennants and titles. As opposed to the Blues and Rams, whose success is greeted with a fair measure of surprise. Expectations change a team and their fans. The Cards, with a 100 million dollar payroll and a decade of consistency, are expected to do great things. A fanbase follows that notion to the tee. Myself, seeing the Cards win the series a year ago, can give them a small hiatus but when the painful losses fall down it still stings. In a way, sports is a “what have you done for me lately” business. At least that is the way of the St. Louis Cardinals.
In other news-
*In NHL labor talks. The players don’t want to take a drastic cut in salary and I see their reasons beyond the natural charge of greed. The owners allowed all these ridiculously long contracts of 12-14 years and over 100 million to several players and now they want the players to take a paycut. The owners started the madness and can’t all of a sudden cut their losses and ask the players to take a huge cut. Lessen the percentage suits, because this crazy spending started by you. The owners have buildings, employees and many costs, but why do they put themselves in this position. The owners need to give.
*Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes on Sergio Martinez in a super middleweight match this weekend and I am pumped to see how this fight unfolds. As I have mentioned before, Martinez is the cagey craftier veteran southpaw who has a belt that he won legitimately with impressive knockouts. Chavez Jr. is the son of the a legend who was halfway handed a belt by beating a bunch of bums. Now the kid has to face a legitimate champion and great fighter. Chavez Jr. is in his early 20s. Martinez is 37 years old. The stakes are set and high enough to get a rise out of a boxing fan like me. Martinez thinks Chavez Jr. is entitled and he is right. Chavez Jr. wants to hand Martinez a cane and knock him out into retirement. Both are wildly comically in disdain of each other and its for real. The reasons are legit. It’s easy for a fan to hate Chavez Jr.’s immature reckless style of training that disrespects his trainer, Hall of Famer Freddie Roach. However, Roach sees something in him, a potential that could break out on Saturday and that is why he is training the kid. Unlike his father, Junior has to work hard at his craft and brings a fiercer power to the ring than his father. He is determined to convince people he not only deserves a title but he deserves respect. That is impressive to hear and makes you hungry to see the kid pull off the impossible or fall on his face. Forget the bookies and the odds in the betting race. The Mexicans will flood the box and make the odds more even than they should be. Look at the matchup instead. Young gun versus smart veteran. A belt holder against a legit champ. Hunger versus Assurance. JCCJ wants to prove he is a champion. Martinez, a man who didn’t fight until he was 20(unheard of in boxing circles), still trying to completely win the respect of fans and experts. Saturday night in Vegas will be explosive. My appetite is wet.
*Looks like Manny Pacquiao is taking on Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time. In one case it is good because they always produce closely contested fights that are entertaining and good for boxing. The deal is being finalized right now. When you fight in Vegas, you tend to get the odds thrown in your favor and in your face. If Pacquiao were to lose it could kill a fight between him and Floyd. Yes I know some have cooled on it but not me. In a sea of pretty good fights and duller bouts that is still the fight I want to see. Each man is to blame but the anticipation of that fight is too good to pass up. His loss to Bradley was meaningless because every boxing analyst and their dead aunt knew PAC won the fight. That’s also why he didn’t want a rematch. A fight with Marquez is good for boxing but possibly detrimental to Manny’s chances of reaching the ring with Floyd.
*Check out my website daily for movie news and every Friday for the freshest reviews and material about everything having to do with cinema. If you have been under a rock since May, here is the website. http://www.film-addict.com. Call this my shameless plug of the week.
*Watching the Klitschko 2 hour special on HBO on the heavyweight champion Russian boxing brothers. Riveting story, as it takes you back to their childhood in Kiev, where their father was military and dealt with the Chernobyl radiation while raising his sons to be fighters. The knock against them is that no one in the heavyweight division is fit to take them down, but that can’t be a fault on their part. They are a two man wrecking machine that many boxing insiders want to see take on each other. They have sworn against fighting each other, telling me at their advanced age the possibility is dwindling. My thoughts? It’s their own option to fight each other and if they are happy destroying the competition and building their legend one knockout at a time, good for them. They are tall, hard punching iron jawed Russian killers. Vitali and Wladamir Klitschko will retire as legends one way or another whether had a Frazier, Foreman or Hagler to rival themselves against. David Haye talked a fine game but got dominated by Wladamir in 2011. No one since has challenged either one as Vitali destroyed Manny Chara on Saturday. Their story is great television and it’s hard to not respect their careers. Going from living with their uncle, mom, dad and aunt in one room of a broken down home in Kiev during a time of war to well known champions is good TV..
*9/11 came and went on the calendar again. Every year, I feel a little down on the anniversary. It’s something that climbs up into my soul and dares me to a fight. Remembering a horrible day where so many people died for one man’s infinite plan of domination is hard to swallow. Harder to swallow is the millions of souls who claimed conspiracy that day. It’s a waste of time and a supreme act of denial. One man defeated us that day and it was Osama Bin Laden. He orchestrated an attack on our country that will never heal completely. Get over it. What we did was climb back off the ground, come together and help each other. I advise people to treat that day as a lesson in life’s virtues. Appreciate sacrifice. I can’t stop thinking about the first responder’s who ran back into the buildings when they knew doom awaited them. They were trying to save lives. That is something you either have or don’t at birth. Courage to give your life up and become truly selfless. That sticks with me. The video where the firemen run into the building and minutes later the whole thing hits the ground in a matter of seconds. Chilling clings to 9/11 as much as courage. Whatever you do, remember this and this only. No bullshit included. Eleven years ago our country was attacked suddenly. Nearly 3,000 people died. Firemen and police ran into burning buildings. Strangers came together in the midst of torment, murder, discord and tragedy. It doesn’t matter what caused the massacre. Outside of a terrorist cell, i have no answers for you. It doesn’t matter. Those people aren’t coming back. Ever. What we can do is honor those who died in 9/11 by living a little today. Fight less with your spouse. Call your parents. Talk to your siblings. Hug your kids. Talk to a stranger because one day in the future you may lean on him or her for instant support.
*Covering a press junket for a TV Guide Network star tomorrow at the Four Seasons hotel downtown, which marks my first plunge into the true life of being a film critic and website creator. While I am not a fan or viewer of Katie Cazorla’s Hollywood Nail Files show, I will cover it for a local publicist who may help me out in the future. In this business, you have to reach out and help others if you want to survive.
*Movie Theaters tease for the Weekend? Go see Arbitrage with Richard Gere about a hedge fund billionaire in deep trouble. It may be his best work.
*Listening to The Black Keys latest album, El Camino. The Track listing punch of Gold on The Ceiling and Little Black Submarines back to back is dynamite listening pleasure. Two of the best songs released in 2011 still leave a dent.
*Awaiting my deluxe album from the Dave Matthews Band in the mail. The producer of their early work took over the reins on this one, Steve Lillywhite. The result, through 2 songs I have heard over the past month, is a different sounding DMB while retaining a smooth hint of their instrumental brilliance. Dave sounds more weary than ever and I can see the band is aging gracefully. Their sound hasn’t diminished. Just a fan comment. Also, it’s good to see Dave keeping his monstrous fan base active. For the video for their first single, Mercy, he used 14,000 inbound videos from around the world of his fans singing the song to comprise the video. Pretty cool stuff, fan or not.
*Quick, very quick, political comment. Obama had good intentions. He tried to deliver on his promises. With the shit pile he was handed coming into office, he simply didn’t get the job done. He took a hefty swing at the issues debilitating our country and for the most part, missed. His health care bill left millions without coverage, he didn’t want to acknowledge an horrible oil spill in the gulf and didn’t help unemployment. He didn’t create jobs, which is what our country needs. Fuck, it’s what I need. Right now. He did initiate the plan to kill Bin Laden, but that was set in motion before he stepped foot in office. All in all, the office needs fresh blood. Who? I can’t tell you that. May I nominate Henry Rollins for President without him running? No, alright then.
That’s all for me. If you want to reach me, send me a reply at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave one here. I love to tango with fellow writers or people who have an opinion and can withstand an argument defending it.
Thanks for reading and look for me to come back to dish here soon,
Dan L. Buffa
“The L is for Larry”
P.S.-The Rant posting #983 is a random selection. I have no idea if that is my actual number of postings but it can’t be far off.