The Cardinals Demise And Future

On Friday, I didn’t think I would be writing this obituary.  The hazard signs on this team’s trail were luminous but easy to avoid because of the lead we had in the series.  The Cardinals were up 3-1 in the series and everything was looking up.  Then…Barry Zito and the Giants wrecked the party on Friday, sent the series back to San Francisco, where the Bay collects many foes and the fans scream beyond the ability of one single soul.   I could tell you I saw this downfall coming, but it wouldn’t be too convincing.  After we came back against Washington, I thought this city was bound for October greatness again.  This is a lesson to all fans to never take anything for granted.  A lead, momentum or an historical night.   Every team has to keep playing and the Cardinals, in humble opinion, took their foot off the pedal on Friday night, thinking the series was wrapped up and there was no way the team could lose 3 straight.  Every season has a way of humbling a team and their fanbase.  The lesson this time was don’t stop fighting until the fight is done.

Honestly, I didn’t think we would make the playoffs.  I thought we would fumble away the second wild card spot and falter.  I didn’t think we would beat Atlanta.  I didn’t think we could stay with Washington.  When San Francisco came along, I overlooked the fact that the team had as much fight in them as the Cardinals.   They just overcame a 2-0 deficit to redirect the Reds flights home instead of onward.  They had Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Bruce Bochy and a resilient bullpen.  They had the lead scrapper of the year in Marco Scutaro, who came over in a midseason trade from the Rockies that made little waves until…well October 22nd.  The Giants were formidable and we all took them for granted.  The Cardinals beat Cain and Tim Lincecum at home to take a 3-1 series lead and found out Barry Zito could still pitch in Game 5.  We also found out that the Cards defense, a problem child all year, was poisonous.  Crucial errors in the last three games doomed our chances along with an offense that went very cold and a rotation that never recovered from last season dysfunction.  Here are statistical reasons we lost.  The Cardinals scored ONE run in the final 28 innings of play.  The rotation yielded one quality start during the last 8 games of the postseason.    Mike Matheny stuck with Lance Lynn a little too long in Game 1 and 5.  In his first season as skipper, Matheny learned some things as well.

I won’t break down the loss on Monday because I didn’t see it.  I spent three hours watching a pile of crap called Cloud Atlas.  I refused to watch us die.  Instead, I listened to it on the way home.  In pouring rain, the Giants finished us off.  We were shut out 9-0 and in a way humiliated on national television.  I re-watched the first three innings on DVR the next day.   The offense missed a flurry of opportunities early on, stranding 5 runners in the first three innings.  The Giants got on the board quick, with single tallies in the first two innings.  In the 3rd inning, the wheels came off for this Cardinals team that sealed the fate.   A five run third inning involved a misplay by Pete Kozma, a wicked grounder off the bat of Pence that hit his broken bat three times which produced a hook that eluded Kozma as well, a pair of infield grounders that produced runs and the sight of Kyle Lohse only completing 2 innings of work.   It was Lohse’s worst start of the season.  He didn’t have his bat crippling stuff and Joe Kelly was the victim of misfortune as he watched three groundballs bring in 5 runs.  Jon Jay overran a ball in centerfield.   Everything went wrong.  Our offense was shut down after that.  The Cardinals came undone after a long 176 game season that saw injuries(Carpenter, Craig, Freese, Berkman, Furcal, Garcia, Schumacher) and inconsistencies that came back to haunt them.

Chris Carpenter made 6 starts and people had this Carpenter mistaken for the 2011 postseason hero.   Stuck in April strength mode, Carpenter was never bound to do anything great this October.

Pete Kozma had 19 RBI from September 22nd to October 18th, but stopped hitting during the three losses.  We can’t fault him or his defense.  His name didn’t even come into full view until mid September.  He is a rookie.  Don’t forget he had the game winning hit against Washington.

David Freese stopped hitting in the NLCS after a home run in Game 1.   Yadi Molina had 4 hits in Game 7 but scattered hits before it.  Matt Holliday had four hits in the series and seemed to piss off Scutaro enough to send him towards MVP honors and an eye for eye mentality.  Holliday’s back finally succumbed.  Allen Craig went missing, along with his mighty RISP bat.  He collected 1 RBI in the series.  Jon Jay hit horribly away from Busch Stadium, as he has all season.  Daniel Descalso’s magic ran out.  Carlos Beltran had the best postseason but even his mighty bat produced only singles in the final three games.  The lineup bit the bullet.  The bench bats of Shane Robinson and Tony Cruz scared no one.

The bullpen was the unsung MVP during the postseason.  They patched up many games after a weakening rotation left them wide open.   Trevor Rosenthal became the player of the future, striking out 15 batters in 8 innings of work.  Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte put in good work.  Edward Mujica started to unravel a bit but finished well.  Joe Kelly was the long arm the entire postseason and proved his worth with great work picking up the garbage left over from Lynn and Garcia.  If there was a way that Game 7 could have been won, the MVP award would have had to be broken into pieces for the pen.

While we can sulk in misfortune and sadness, let’s not forget what this team accomplished.  It’s meaningful to remember that in a year full of big injuries and the absence of Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols, the Cardinals made it to the brink of the World Series.  I didn’t have them getting close, especially the way they were playing in early September.  This team surprised me constantly, let me down consistently, but remained an entertaining team to watch and one that holds a ton of talent for the near future.  We choked away the opportunity to play in the World Series, but we didn’t choke on the season and those two are different.  Instead of falling by the wayside in September, we closed well again, beat the Braves, outlasted the Nationals and almost beat the Giants.  In a way, the magic ran out.  It wasn’t meant to be this time because our arms and bats slowed to a halt.  It’s okay to be mad at the team but don’t spit on them this season.  They took us for a wild ride, accomplished a lot and gave us a lot to look forward to in 2013 and beyond.

Tip your cap to the Giants.  They never stopped playing and kept a cool head throughout the series.   When Pablo Sandoval homered in the ninth inning of Game 4 to make it 8-3, I felt that they weren’t going to just roll over.  They came storming back and won the chance to play the Tigers in the World Series.  As it starts tonight, I do feel a decent amount of pain watching the Giants take center stage.  After a horrible showing in Games 5 and 6, I still sat around Monday and thought there was a legitimate chance we could open the series here on Wednesday.  As it sits now, that won’t happen but its a testament to this team’s inner strength that kept the hope alive.  I am not choking the La Russa horse extra here on purpose, but bringing to light the fact that this team maintained their never say die attitude under Matheny and that bodes well for the future.  You could never count the Cardinals out.  Ever.  They produced one of the greatest moment of my sports life when they came back against the Nationals in Game 5 on October 12th.  That night will never leave my memory and will remain one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.  If it had ended there, I wouldn’t have been disappointed.  I thought that during the 3rd inning when we were down 6-0.  Then, we stormed back and stole the game and series from an up tight Nationals team.   That can’t be forgotten.  The Giants did the same to us in this series.  They simply never stopped.

That’s all there is to say for this collapse.  Looking ahead to the future now.   Kyle Lohse will depart as a free agent because he will command 15 million or more a year at 4-5 years.  Scott Boras will get him that in Washington, Arizona, or Boston.  He finished up very well here giving two solid seasons for two uneven ones.  He reestablished his career in St. Louis.  When he came to us, he was 67-73 and stuck in Edwin Jackson territory.  A gun for hire.  He went 55-35 in St. Louis and will now command top of the rotation type money.   Lance Berkman will either retire to play a year in Houston as their DH.  I hope he finishes in Houston, where his triumphant and quietly Hall of Fame career started.  He was a good guy who got his World Series trophy here and now can rest easy.  I will miss his candid nature with the local media and I am sure they will too.  The rotation is set up for a dogfight at the end.   After the Cardinals use the Lohse money to lock up Wainwright long term, he will lead a rotation with Chris Carpenter.   Can Jaime Garcia avoid surgery and come back from a bum shoulder?  Lance Lynn just completed his first full year in the majors, which means he gets a spot in the rotation with his 18 wins and youthful ambition.  He struggled down the stretch but deserves a chance to be in there.  The kid is only 25 years old.  Jake Westbrook is coming back, even though there are young arms like Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller who deserve a shot.  Westbrook is eating up 8 million for a spot I am sure Kelly could fill well for less than a million.   Kelly impressed me when he took his spot in the bullpen and worked well out of the long inning spot.   After Waino, Carp, Garcia and Westbrook, there will be a dogfight between Lynn, Kelly, and Miller for that fifth spot.  Rosenthal makes for a great blazing bullpen weapon so he could stay there and take Mujica’s spot.   With Lohse and Berkman coming off the books that opens up 26 million in cash to play with.   Locking up Waino long term will cost the team close to 15-18 million per season at 4-5 years at minimum.   Taking into account his return from Tommy John and all, Waino performed well this season.  The Matt Cain contract end up paying Wainwright more money but I don’t think he will get overly greedy.  You pay him 5-7 million more than you are and that leaves 15-16 more to find a RH bat off the bench and a second baseman to challenge Descalso.  Kolten Wong is lurking as your future at second base in 1-2 years and Oscar Taveras will be ready for right field when Beltran departs after 2013.  This team has a deep farm system and a roster full of young talent.  The next 5-10 years will be exciting to watch.  Keep that in mind while you mend the pain of a sudden departure in the 2012 postseason.   We all saw the signs of this club breaking down over the last week or so.  We just wanted to overlook it because we were having so much fun watching this team.   Reality settled in.   There is no honest one real answer as to why we collapsed.  As is the case in any long season of baseball, there are various explanation and theories.  That’s baseball.  That’s life.  It’s never just one thing.  That allure brings us back every February for another round of torture.  See you then.

Look for the occasional blog on the Rams or sudden death of the Blues or film spots or random plugs, but it’s safe to say these hands will be taking it easy for a little while.

Thanks for reading this season,

Dan L. Buffa

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Game 7 Madness

The Cardinals are going to need some magic if they think they can pull a comeback tonight.  Yes, Cardinals fans, another comeback in 2012.  Another comeback for the resilient and frustrating St. Louis Cardinals.  It’s their brand of poison.  A drug that runs through our systems, performing a dreary diagnostic check of the facilities heading into another round of action.  Guess what?  Tonight is it.  Winner take all.  Loser goes home.  Both teams are fighters.  Both can throw a punch and take one while understanding what it takes to climb off the floor to fight again.  I bet this is a hard one in Vegas to score.  Do you throw money on the Giants, who have won 2 in a row, are at home(where they previously sucked before Game 6), and seem to carry all the momentum?  Or do you place your bet on the Cardinals, the unbreakable force of nature that stormed back from being down 6-0 in Game 5 against the Nats only to fire a game saving megaton bullet at Washington’s ankles with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th inning?  The team that pushed back the Texas Rangers while on their knees in last year’s World Series, beat Roy Halladay in a one game winner take all to get there and the club that has won six straight winner take all games.  What do you do?  It’s a good thing I don’t bet nor do I have the money to bet.  All I see is a devoted fan’s painful view of an old western showdown.  Two gunslingers who refuse to fall standing at the corners of a street asking each other, “Say when?”  It all ends tonight my friends.  

The Cardinals blew up their cushion comfort lead by scoring a single run in two games and getting schooled by Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, two journeyman arms who have seen the bottom of the barrel.  Zito the former Oakland A with the big contract(18 million per year) who flunked big time and was left off the playoff roster two years ago when the Giants won the World Series.  Vogelsong is the forgotten brother of Jason Simontacchi, who found a team he could do well on after so many teams dumped him and years passed him by.   Two guys who made the Cardinals life a living hell.  Save me the praise for the Giants bullpen because it doesn’t stick.  They haven’t put in as many innings as the Cardinals because their starters can go more than 5.2 innings on a regular basis.  Take out Adam Wainwright’s stellar Game 4 outing and the other 6 games can only find the Game 3 outing by Kyle Lohse that marks a start that could qualify for a win.  Lance Lynn has blown up twice, Waino got blasted in Washington, and Chris Carpenter has given 8 innings in two starts.  The Cardinals rotation work has been awful in the postseason.  If the Cards find a way to win tonight, snap the MVP award into a dozen pieces and hand it to the bullpen arms.  They are the true heroes of this series and postseason and the ONLY reason we are alive today.  Think about how fucking hard it has been to follow this team in 2012, and be amazed we are playing a Game 7 in the NLCS.  The injuries, the inconsistency and madness.   It’s pretty special but doesn’t mean shit.  Game 7 means everything.

Chris Carpenter is in April mode my friends.  That isn’t an excuse.  It’s a fact.  He has made 6 starts in 2012.  He isn’t right, and won’t be until the start of the 2013 season.  His stuff is off every game and he has to grit out innings.  In Game 2, his defense betrayed him as well as his fastball being misplaced.  That defensive letdown included himself, when he threw an errant toss towards first base that opened the gates for a huge inning.  Last night, in Game 6, Carpenter wasn’t right again.  His fastball couldn’t be tamed again, as it laid out and over the plate to be crushed.  His defense let him again.  Pete Kozma couldn’t field a Vogelsong swinging bunt and that opened up the gates for a big inning.  Marco Scutaro, otherwise known as the obsession of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver’s dreams, had two more hits which included a back breaking 2 run double in the 2nd.  Before we could all settle down and enjoy the game, the score was 5-0 Giants.  Carpenter only gave up 2 earned runs and was in full possession of his curveball(6 strikeouts) but he was still hit hard and often.  The Giants are in attack mode and the Cardinals are in a prevent defense.   They attack with base runners, solid starting, and an extremely loud wannabe in love with their baseball team home crowd and the Cardinals just seem unready to march forward.  What happened to that swagger that we obtained in beating the shit out of Tim Lincecum aka “The Kid” in Game 4?  Misplaced on the so called “happy flight” or lost elsewhere over the better part of our country?   I won’t watch a minute of the MLB network today or indulge in anything more than the quiet words on twitter because I don’t want to hear it be said over and over again.  Don’t count out the Cardinals because they have won 6 straight sudden death games.   Watch out for those Giants, they came back from 2-0 against the Reds to take the NLDS?  My feeling is the networks deep down want a Cardinals-Tigers rematch from 2006.  However, FOX is already putting together Giants-Tigers clips as the two teams who…uhhh…thought they….ummm….fuck I have no clue there.  They will figure something out.  A slow motion reel of Scutaro wincing in pain after Matt Holliday ran him over, followed by Vogelsong’s rested choke necklace and finishing with Hunter Pence’s crazy hick Gideon speech in the dugout which we heard about 34 times in the first two games of this series.

Here are some quick definite thoughts about Game 7-

*Tim McCarver needs to get ran over by a horse carriage.  Twice.  He is worse than Al Hrabosky.  Oh yes he is.  Challenge him to a spelling bee or a pronunciation contest if you don’t believe me.  He also dresses like a former movie theater manager I happen to despise.  If you ever wanted to know what happened to that couch cover you used to own, it’s sitting on Tim’s shoulders masquerading as a suit.   He is just bad.  Drags Joe Buck down with him, who I am sure ridicules him off camera, especially when he is drunk, because we all know alcohol is the best(and cheapest) truth serum.

*If Matt Holliday’s back isn’t right, sit him.  Let’s not play tough guy right now.  I know back pain from working out for 14 years and when its bad you can’t really do much of anything.  Keep Holliday on the bench for that late power source and insert the more than reliable Matt Carpenter, who bombed a two run homer off Game 7 starter Matt Cain, which held up as the winning score in Game 3.    Holliday had a solid year and is the toughest bastard on the roster but when he is off at the plate, it doesn’t help the club.  He jumps at pitches, doesn’t know the strike zone and looks like The Rock playing left field.  Sit him.

*Don’t let Fernando Salas or Marc Rzepcynzski pitch in this game.  No matter what.  Lock them up somewhere.  I suggest Alcatraz, which is technically closed but open on occasion for shitty pitchers.

*Don’t let Edward Mujica pitch in this game.  He gave up an RBI single to Ryan Theriot last night, and that is a federal offense.  Any man who looks like that and barely ever plays gets a hit against Mujica and something needs to be locked down.  Or the fact that Eddie’s pitches are contact pitches and they are being revealed just like Ryan Franklin’s were late in his career.  Let Trevor Rosenthal handle the 7th inning if a STL Cards lead exists.  Pull out all the stops and don’t think about the World Series yet Mr. Matheny.   Worry about leaving the West Coast with a win and coming home Wednesday to host…oops there I go thinking about it.

*Do it for Tony La Russa’s dogs.  I had to say it.

*Do it for Scott Speizo.  He just sold the chin hair from his rally cry 2006 facial hair on eBay for six dollars and 20 cents.   Man needs a lift.

*It wouldn’t be out of the question for all the Cardinals to wear a little sex panther cologne tonight.   Smelling like pure gasoline sends a message to the other team.   Back down or else you can also smell like big foot’s dick.  Sorry, I watched Anchorman the other night.  Force of habit.

*The last Game 7 I witnessed with this team was in last year’s World Series.  The Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead but then Carpenter shut them down and we scored 6 runs to win 6-2.  Easy.  So easy.  That was at home after a life changing stranger humping Game 6 comeback win.  Tonight’s game comes after a earth shattering 6-1 loss.  You figure it out.  It’s hard to determine a future result with past statistics.  That’s my biggest issue with sabermetrics.  They are useful but add up to shit in actuality.

*If Allen Craig shows up and gets some hits, we can win this game.  Craig hasn’t done much of anything this series.   He is due.  There’s my stat of the day.  Allen Craig has hit like crap and is due for a hit.  Slice that up Billy Beane while you watch from home.

*UPDATE(2:35pm)-Matt Holliday is starting, according to Twitter and Team Stream.  Hours after reporting the back discomfort increased during last night’s game and it appeared unlikely he would start, now the Oklahoma State football grunt is in there.  Let’s hope that morphine runs deep and allows him to fire one more deadly lumberjack crack of the bat.  Other than that, you know how I feel about this.

What else is there to say here?  I can go on and on about theories, stats, funny notes and still get nowhere.  Give me another 1,000 words(we are currently at 1700) and all I can promise is entertainment.  Sometimes you just need to stop and watch your team go…somewhere.  Up or down.  Home for good or home for more action.  That’s the beauty of Game 7.  Sooner rather than later, we will get closure tonight on what the Cardinals have left in 2012.  I do know Lance Lynn shouldn’t be allowed to start another game if we advance(insert Jake Westbrook) but that doesn’t matter right now.  Tonight matters.

I’m not promising anything.  I wouldn’t expect a blog tomorrow.  If one does come forth, it may be a one word message.  FUCK.  That can mean, fuck we lost, blew a 3-1 lead for the first time sine 1996 and the Braves, and we are done playing baseball.  It could also mean FUCK we are going to play more baseball and go up against  the Tigers again. Either way, we’re refilling the medication tomorrow.

Tonight, I will be in a 3 hour movie screening of the new Tom Hanks film Cloud Atlas, which looks like a mind bending science fiction fuck bash but right now it sounds less painful than watching my Cardinals die and leave their hearts in San Francisco.

Only time will tell.  Ask yourself this.  What does this team have in store for us?

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

 

*1,900 words in 35 minutes.  I’m getting good at this.

The Postmordem

“What are you going to do?”

“Write.”

“Again?”

“Yes.  That’s my way of getting past it.”

This is the conversation I had with my wife a few minutes ago.  It’s not her fault that she thinks my obsession with a game has its limits.  There are bigger things to live and die over than baseball.  There’s cancer.  Poverty.  Jobless dads.  People who lose their parents before they are 10.  Drunk driver victims.  Therapy.  Look, I don’t pretend to put my obsession over Cardinals baseball over anyone’s struggles, but this game and team runs through my veins with the blood.  They don’t leave my subconscious.  Paid sports writers calls us the smartest people in the room sitting on the couch.   I don’t see much of a difference between myself and Joe Strauss.  He went through journalism school, I think, and gets paid to write the beat.  I get paid nothing to say what I want.  Choose your poison.  We both have the right to voice our opinions.  There’s people on facebook and in the general public who call the obsession over a game where the players don’t give a shit about the fans who watch them “a childish act”.  I disagree.  We all choose the things that we love and are passionate about.  Sometimes its the same thing as your profession.  Sometimes it’s something you do in the dead of night while the house is quiet and the soundtrack is turned down low.  Right now I am listening to a cover of Tom Petty’s classic solo, “I Won’t Back Down”, a song that applies so fittingly to my situation.  I came onto this cover after watching an episode of the only network show I watch, Grey’s Anatomy.  Love or hate the show.  It is the best hospital drama on television since ER entered the season after half its regular’s left.  On Grey’s, doctors actually die and don’t get written off to do other things.  Creator Shonda Rhimes isn’t afraid to kill off fan favorites.  She killed off two in last season’s finale.  The cover played over the final scenes as the surviving doctors of a horrible plane crash had to decide whether to take a settlement from the company behind the makers of the plane or fight the case in court for a preexisting problem with the plane.  In closing, Patrick Dempsey tells the lawyers  and his fellow survivors that its easy to just take the money but its right to take the case to court so no more people are lost.  He compares it to doctors losing patients in a procedure and going back to the books and rules to see where it went wrong, so it doesn’t happen again.  It’s a powerful scene, well timed and perfected by durable actors.  A mix of song and potency rarely achieved on network television.   I am off point, but let me make myself clear.  I am die hard Cardinals fan, and need to explain these tough tough losses in order to get on with the next day.  It’s a part of me, like smoking is to a person who can’t quit.  I have always said losses deserve a blog while wins are optional to discuss afterwards.   It took me two days to write about last Friday’s tremendous comeback win.  Tonight’s nasty loss only took 75 minutes.  Here we go.  Strap in or get out.  I am doing this for me but it’s your choice to observe and respond.

Here are the reasons we lost this game.  Follow along. 

*Lance Lynn pitched like shit.  He struck out 5 in the first three innings, but when the order came around a second time, he faltered fast and couldn’t finish the 4th inning.  In a big game on a huge stage, Lynn failed.  When he took over for Garcia, there was a little hope that the 18 game winner would continue his September form.   Instead, he is back in his June drought.  This could be a painful sign for the years to come.  Is Lynn a starter or reliever?  He was so effective in the NLDS as a reliever, give or take the Werth walkoff.  Lynn can’t seem to put things behind him during an inning and is becoming known as the white Jaime Garcia.  The hickory version of mental instability on the mound.  He made a crucial mistake when he fielded a Hunter Pence groundball and instead of firing to first base for the SURE out, he turned and fired a horrible off balance toss to second base where nobody existed.  The ball skipped into center field and the inning went down the drain.  Brandon Crawford singled in two runs and Barry Zito bunted for an RBI hit.  Inside 5 minutes, it went from 0-0 to 4-0 Giants.  That’s how fast a starter can go from nimble tightrope walker to failed artist.  Lynn let the error undue his entire night.  He could have buckled down and gotten the next hitter, yet walked him to bring Crawford up.  Lynn is making the decision for the 2013 rotation a bigger question.  Right now, it’s Waino, Carp, Westbrook, Garcia(if he starts the season) and a fifth spot that is open.  Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller will push Lynn for that spot.  Kelly has been stellar in relief and pitched well down the stretch before Garcia came back and Lynn was reinserted.  Miller is your future.  Rosenthal may be better suited for that lights out 7th inning role if Edward Mujica departs.   Lance Lynn is pitching himself out of the 2013 rotation.  In a game that meant everything, he failed.  He can’t get another start in this postseason.  If the Cardinals advance, he must be in the bullpen.

*The bats were impatient from the start.  Putting runners on base against Zito yet allowing him to wiggle free by swinging at junk early and often.  Zito got into huge trouble early on.  Lynn didn’t help himself by grounding into an inning ending double play in the 3rd inning.  With the bases loaded, Lynn swung at a 0-1 pitch and ended a big threat.  The Cardinals had 2nd and 3rd occupied with zero outs and didn’t score.  Matheny shouldn’t have let Lynn swing the bat.  He walks or strikes out or watches a wild pitch go past.  At worst, Jon Jay gets a shot with the bases loaded.  Right there, I knew there was danger.  Lynn hurt himself with the ball and the bat.

*The bats remained impatient after the 4-0 deficit.  Jumping at pitches out of the zone. Swinging on hitters counts.  They were down 4-0 and they lost their patience and intelligence at the plate. The big reason we tied the Nationals and took the lead in the 9th a week ago was having patience with Drew Storen.  Molina and Freese worked walks before Descalso and Kozma saved the day.  Tonight, we done 4-0 with 18 outs left and swung too freely.  You do that and play right into Zito’s hands.  Barry pitched the game of his life and no longer refers to himself as a complete fuckup.  Along with sending the series back to San Francisco, we revitalized an overpaid lefthander’s career.  Nicely done bastards.

*The series isn’t doomed.  I know this much.  I also know winning it tonight was the best option.   We wasted a huge opportunity tonight to seal the deal.  Now we go back to the west coast, to the loud as a frat house AT&T Park where nobody can hear anything and where potential doom awaits.  The Cards will get a rematch with Game 2 sensation Ryan Vogelsong, the kid who played for 6 different teams before finding his sweet spot with the Giants.  He outdueled our veteran captain Chris Carpenter in the same ballpark on Monday.  What happens tonight?  Does Carpenter regroup, toughen up and return to the body of the legend who carries a 10-3 record in the playoffs?  Does Vogelsong sting the Cards again and send it to a do or die Game 7 between Kyle Lohse and Matt Cain?  I only have one bit of unfortunate news.  Trevor Rosenthal can’t start Game 6.

*The kid looked great tonight in 2 innings of work.  He struck out 5 and constantly hit 100 mph and mixed in a devastating 81 mph curveball.  Rosenthal can be a special player for this team.  A starter.  Strikeout master in the pen.  Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte’s biggest asset.  I’m glad he is on our side.  Another brilliant night from the bullpen.  After Lynn allows 4(yes, all earned in my book, especially if HE MADE THE ERROR HIMSELF), the bullpen allows only 1 run over 5.2 innings.  Kelly, Rosenthal, Boggs and Mujica.  Outstanding work from the bullpen all series.

*What offense shows up for the Cardinals in Game 6?  The lineup that bruised Madison Baumgarner in Game 1, got the best of Matt Cain in Game 3, beat up Tim Lincecum in Game 4 or the paltry overzealous bats that fell prey to Vogelsong and Zito?  Who knows?  We have around 44 hours to wait and find out.

*One of the biggest bad calls tonight came from Mike Matheny.  When Lynn was in trouble after the error, Matheny had to make the move.  In a must win game, Matheny let Lynn burn the house down.  He saw it unfold in Game 1 and almost lost that game.  Matheny saw Lynn make a crucial error.  Everybody in the state of mind knew Lynn was heading towards a meltdown after that throw.  Everyone except our manager.  You let a pitcher grow in the regular season.  Find himself in May or June.  In October, you make the tough decisions.  The right ones.  In the heat of the moment, Matheny failed and it may have cost his team the game.  He inserts Kelly earlier and you never know what happens.  Losing isn’t as painful as it looks.  It’s when you know why it’s 4-0 and not 0-0 or 1-0 that is the painful part.  After that error, everybody in town knew Lynn would fold.  Why didn’t Matheny make the move?  It didn’t stand alone as the reason we lost but it sure did fuel the fire.

*I don’t want to say this but I will.  The Giants came back from being down 2-0 in the NLDS against the Reds.  They won three straight on the road to shock the Reds in a ballpark where Cincinnati had dominated the entire season.  Now SF have two games to complete another comeback and shock the world again.  I didn’t want it this way.

*The series isn’t over for the Cards.  They are still ahead 3-2.  They still are closer to victory than the Giants.  Will they fumble the opportunity or finish off the Giants in six like they did the Brewers in 2011?  It isn’t time to panic.  It is time to worry.

*I’ve always imagined the greatest punishment for a fan is to lock him in a cell with no phones, computers, loved ones and let him go over it and over it in his mind until he cracks and has a nervous breakdown.  It’s a good thing I get the luxury of sneaking into my 13 month old son’s room with my wife to steal a peek at him while he calmly sleeps  the night away.  One day he will tell me it’s just a game.  A simple game played by millionaires.  I will attempt to not change his mind yet only reveal my own thoughts so my mind is allowed to relax.  We will discuss it for a long time.  One day he will get it.  I hope.  For now, he is my instant relaxer after tough losses.  A sweet wife also helps.  Without them, I’m pacing in the backyard talking to myself like Rain Man.  This is my life.  For at least 3 more days.

Goodnight and Good Luck,

Dan L. Buffa

Go Cards!

The Buffa Blast

Cardinals notes, movie bits, random shit, facts of fatherhood and the daily ritual of mental cleansing by way of the moving hands and a keyboard.  Ladies and gents, the Buffa Blast begins now.

CARDINALS ONE WIN AWAY FROM WORLD SERIES

*Cardinals notch back to back wins at home and push Giants to the brink of elimination.  We are a long way from slide gate, aren’t we?  After the Giants stormed back in Game 2 via a Vogelsong clinic and a controversial slide by Matt Holliday into Marco Scutaro ignited the offense, the Cardinals were at a crossroads.  Start hitting and pitching like champs or check out with good behavior.  The Cards came home and got ace work from starters Kyle Lohse(grinding through 5.2 IP with 5 walks) and Adam Wainwright, who avenged his Game 5 letdown against the Nationals.  After three Cards starters combined for 10 innings pitched in 3 games, Lohse and Wainwright balanced out the ship and thus ignited the Cardinals offense.  Stepping in for an injured sore knee afflicted Carlos Beltran, Matt Carpenter, nicknamed the Super Sub, clubbed a 2 run homer off Matt Cain that held up for a 3-1 win.  Last night, the Cardinals offense got equal shares from each of the lineup holders.   8 different players had hits, 7 different players scored and 5 different Redbirds had RBI.  A 8-1 ass kicking that seemed to send the relentless Giants into a tail spin.  The Cardinals are beating them by shutting down their biggest bat, Buster Posey, and keeping his backup bashers, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, in check.  The bullpen in STL is doing a courageous job once again.  Remember a year ago, The Cardinals starters didn’t fare well and had to be bailed out in relief.  This year, different arms like Trevor Rosenthal(firing 100mph steam with a back breaking 82 mph changeup) are contributing, as well as Joe Kelly(the everyman), Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, and Jason Motte.  They are a shutdown crew that allows Mike Matheny to only ask 5-6 innings of his starters.   Think of a firing squad waiting down the road for the rest of its team to push the enemy into their territory.  Rosenthal, Boggs, Kelly and Motte all throw 98-100 mph and their heat rides up in the zone and makes it tough for hitters to center.  If they have any kind of offspeed pitch, forget about it.  The silent MVP of this series through 4 games is the bullpen.  Here are a few other notes going in Game 5.

*Good to get Matt Holliday going last night.  The big deal over one hard slide(late for sure but talked about too much) and a struggle at the plate kept Holliday in check.  He’s a good guy who plays the game 100 percent every night and might have let the Scutaro train wreck get into his head.  Last night, he collected two hits and drove in a pair of runs.   With his mother recently diagnosed with colon cancer, Holliday is playing with a heavy heart and grinding through.  The man’s a warrior.  Yadi Molina is a warrior who also broke free last night for a pair of RBI hits.  If Molina and Holliday start to hit, the loss of Beltran may be bearable for a week.   Allen Craig got a hit last night as well to slightly break himself free from a cold streak.  The best thing about the Cardinals lineup is its depth and relentless approach.   When two guys are down, two more wake up and ride.  When Beltran’s bat was in a two month coma, Allen Craig picked him up.  When Craig went into a slump in the postseason, Beltran picked this entire team up.  Same for Holliday, Molina, Carpenter, and Freese.   Look at lower order guys like Daniel Descalso(huge in Game 5 against Nats) and Pete Kozma(19 RBI since September 22 lead the team) moving their weight.  The Cardinals are unpredictable yet packed with talent and threat after threat.  One can’t help but feel good about the future of this team while they strive for another pennant and title.

*They are one game away from a World Series berth.  12 in 12 is alive and well.  The Detroit Tigers demolished the Yankees, who dug their own hole by hitting .188 in the postseason.  The Oakland A’s gave the Tigers all they could handle so don’t think they are invincible.  The leaking hazard of the Tigers is their horrible bullpen, outside of a couple arms.  Verlander, Cabrera, Fielder and others won’t be easy to deal with, but don’t underestimate the Cardinals.  In October, they are a wrecking ball.   First, we need to take care of the Giants.  Don’t think for a second that they are done and packing their offseason bags.   They send greaseball Barry Zito to the mound tonight to help them survive another day and get the series back to San Francisco.   Zito had a respectable 2012 season yet got banged around in Cincinnati and hasn’t pitched well against the Cards in his career.  Look for his curve to be established early.  That’s all he’s got.  A 68 mph curve ball.  Smash that and Zito is toast.  The Cards counter with “Big Country” Lance Lynn.  That is my X-factor for tonight’s game for St. Louis.  Lynn and his durability issues.

*Lynn has had trouble getting through the order the 3rd time through since June.  In Game 2, he struggled against the Giants the second time through their lineup.   Lynn falls in love with his 4 seam fastball and after 45-50 pitches, the bats start to connect and launch it out of the park.  Against the Nationals at the end of the season and in his start in the NLDS, Lynn struggled with his command in the middle innings and didn’t establish his offspeed pitches.  Tonight, in order to survive 5 innings, Lynn has to establish his changeup and cutter.   We know his 4 seam heater is good and effective only when his other pitches are working.  The Giants will tee off on him in the 3rd and 4th innings if he doesn’t work his full arsenal.  This is fact.  Look at his starts since the end of June.  He either gets hurt early or when the order starts to time his fastball.  With this in mind, Mike Matheny must have Kelly ready in the 3rd or 4th inning.  Stretch him out and get him loose, especially if the score is tied or the Cards are down.  The leash on Lynn tonight has to be as short as it ever was.  Feelings have to be deleted from the equation this time of year.  If a starter doesn’t have it, he has to go.  Matheny let Lynn get beat up for too long in Game 1.  Struggling to spot any of his offspeed pitches and leaving his fastball up, Lynn almost blew a 6-0 lead before Kelly and the bullpen rescued him.  Get Kelly and Shelby Miller ready to throw.  Don’t be scared by Miller’s first postseason outing.  The defense behind him betrayed him and allowed the Giants to score two runs in the 7th inning in Game 2.  I’d like to see Miller get a shot.

*We are one win away from the World Series.  Don’t hold your breath and tune in tonight.  The Cards need to take care of business tonight.  Don’t let it get back to the West Coast where Vogelsong and Cain can get a chance to wreck our boat.  The Cards have their foot on the throat of the Giants and their gun pointed at their heart.  Push down and pull the trigger.  Do it tonight at home in front of your sea of red.  The Giants are struggling to find air at the moment.  Don’t give them a life line.

MOVIES

*Argo is your best bet right now.  Ben Affleck’s nail biting thriller with a fair dose of comedy will keep you glued to the screen and laughing at the same time.  It’s great theater.  Drama followed by injections of well timed comedy.   Affleck’s career is a true redemption story.  For my new column his fall and rise, go to film-addict.com to check it out or click the link below.  The story is similar to a punch drunk boxer finding his mouth piece, getting up off the canvas and swinging back.  Give it a read.

http://www.film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/on-a-role/item/963-ben-affleck

*Film-Addict’s mobile app is live and working very well.  Our web designer, Samantha Smith, did a fabulous job of putting this mobile version together.  All the pages look sharp and it’s easy to navigate.  The desktop version can be provided via the app or you can get your dose with one click.   It’s the next frontier.

*This next week, we have three screenings that we have free passes to.  St. Louis Film-Addicts are inclined to check out our daily dose section on the home page for more details.

FATHERHOOD BITS

*Vincent has taken 2-4 steps during the past couple days in his journey towards walking, otherwise known as the death of his parents patience and nerve endings.   This kid of mine is stronger than any 13 month I have known, big, ambitious, smart and does something new and crazy every day.  He can also take a fall and punch pretty well.  He’s tough.  After getting through heart and stomach medical issues early on, Vinny is thriving.  No, he won’t run for President if I have anything to say about it.

POLITICAL BULLSHIT

The debate is a joke. Lets ask some real questions. Like when will jobs be returned to the country. Jobs for well qualified guys like me. Or better health care, for kids with health issues like my 13 month old son has had. These two robots aren’t the answer. They are liars. Spenders. They won’t change a thing. Politics is a useless game for people who don’t want to get real jobs. Nothing changes with either candidate in office. These debates are useless.  Obama and Romney are both educated liars playing us for fools.  I won’t be voting this year.  Or casting my unofficial vote for the non-running yet ready Henry Rollins.  Go ahead and laugh.  He would get more done in a week than these suits could do in a year.  Politics is a rigged game. It’s all about making money and not about the people anymore.

NFL BITS

*Peyton Manning Madness. Never say die with Peyton Manning. Down 24-0 at half against the Chargers on Monday night, and Manning and the Denver defense leads a comeback that ends with a 35-24 Denver win.  Manning magic.   Let’s ask the Colts about their decision to trade Manning one more time.  Andrew Luck has big shoes to fill and while I am sure he will one day do just that, trading Manning wasn’t the right plan.  Find this guy a defense and he could easily win another Super Bowl.  Still hoping for a Manning Super Bowl with Eli’s Giants and Manning’s Broncos.

*Don’t count out the Rams against the Packers this Sunday.  Aaron Rodgers and his elite receivers and solid defense won’t be easy to bring down but The Rams are at home(where they are 3-0) and the Packers are vulnerable against a good pass rush.  If the Rams get pressure on Rodgers and give Sam Bradford a shot, expect this game to be close.  The Rams are no longer pushovers.  It makes the winter tolerable.

NHL DEATH NOTICE

The NHL Owners offered a 50/50 split this week to the players association.  This is a fair deal. The way it always should have been. Even split. If players turn down this deal they don’t really want to play and they can keep the “we love the fans” bullshit. These are guys making a lot of money to play a sport. I have this issue with every lockout/strike. MLB. NFL. NHL.  No sympathy for the rich here. This has been going on forever. Ever since countries fought over land. Kings scrambling for every dollar while the regular people like us fall by the wayside. The owners could be playing mind games and the players responded this week with an offer that the Owners refused, so there is a strong possibility that more regular season games are getting cancelled as a result of these groups of millionaires failing to come to a decision.

One can pick either side and be covered in black.  The NHL players contend they are losing money and the owners say the players response this week was a shady 50/50 split meaning that deep down it wasn’t an even split after all.  Each side is playing the other side, gathering leverage and losing focus of the big picture.  Games aren’t being paid.  Blue collar people are out of jobs while rich people divide up cash.  If a 50/50 split can’t be agreed upon, something is wrong.  For better coverage, here is a good ESPN article on the reaction from the players.

http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/8520950/nhl-calls-union-counteroffers-step-backward

RANDOM CLOSING BITS

*What happened to Alex Rodriguez?  The most overpaid man in baseball had a horrible postseason that saw him collect one hit and strike out a ton.  Is it injury, slow bat speed or just older age.  The 37 year old is guaranteed 118 million over 5 more years.   Get your forks out Yankees management and be prepared to eat all of it.

*Jose Valverde and all his closer antics don’t scare me one bit.  The Detroit bullpen can be scored upon.

*If there is no hockey, there will be more random fights in public.   If we can’t see guys be allowed to fight in a regulated game, the street battles will go up.

*Fall is coming in quite nicely here in South St. Louis city.  The only bad part is my son’s nose won’t stop running.  He doesn’t particularly like having his nose cleaned.  He’d rather eat peas and carrots than be given the ability to breathe freely.

*Thanksgiving is a month away.   Halloween is close and for a new parent that means the little man is dressing up as a cop and hitting the streets for sugar.  I will wear a simple outfit that consists of a black hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans and a Jason mask along with my fake cleaver.

*When the Cardinals came back and upset the Nationals, I thought of my good late friend, Troy Siade.  He was a die hard Cards fan, brilliant lawyer and all around great presence in my life from 2002-2004 on the scoreboard and he passed away at the age of 36 due to throat cancer.  Every time the Cardinals do something great, I think about him.

*Never underestimate a great wife my male friends.  Right now, my wife Rachel is busting her ass in a sales position.  A job that has no base pay and only produces a paycheck off commission from sales.   She is doing something new and challenging and doing a great job.  I don’t tell her enough.  I spent so many years working my ass off and us both having jobs, that watching her provide for the family is a new thing.  When she was done one day, I told her to think about her job as being a hitter in baseball.  You collect a hit per day, keep your head up, maintain a .300 batting average and wait for that one big swing/sale.   It’s nice having a wife who comes home to you with the sole idea of seeing you and her kid.   If you are married for the right reasons my friends, tell your wives that you love them.  Women need the reassurance every day.  Men get up, put themselves together and stumble out into the world.  Women think the world is holding a microscope over their shoulders, observing their every move and they struggle with the expectation.  I don’t tell my wife how lucky I am.  Go ahead and tell her right now.  DO IT!  And mean it.

That’s it. My hands are tired and my mind is spent.  This is all for today my friends.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.

Take care,

Dan L. Buffa

2,636 words and counting…

 

 

 

 

The Comeback

The St. Louis Cardinals just..won’t..die.  Joe Buck’s words from Game 6 of the 2011 World Series stuck in my head during the last two innings of Friday night’s amazing Redbirds comeback against the Washington Nationals.   In winning the NLDS in thrilling fashion, the Cardinals offered up an encore of last postseason’s caper.  It was so unreal one would think a con was on the capitol of the country.  What are they doing?  Stealing another win and series right out from under a better and more favored team.   I watched it, lived it, drank a lot of whiskey during it and when I awoke the next day I still didn’t believe my eyes when the Post Dispatch told me we were advancing to the next round.  Flashback to Friday night around 30 minutes after game time and every Cardinals fan can tell you they were designing their 2012 swan songs for their falling ball club.   This guy was writing texts like this to his inner circle of baseball addicts, “No matter what happens, the 2012 Cardinals did good.  They survived injury and inconsistency in order to give us a exciting playoff round.  Short lived yet wildly intoxicating.”  I was drinking away my sorrows, quiet throughout my body except for a furious movement of the metacarpals pounding the screen of my IPhone.  If there are victims in this world, the screen of my phone ranks near the top of the list in the most abused department.  One of the side effects of an unpredictable yet highly enjoyable baseball team.   Flashing back now.

When Adam Wainwright left the mound, he knew what had been done.  As he entered the dugout he looked back at the field and saw that there was a knife sticking out of his team’s side.  Taking the mound in a critical Game 5, Waino quickly surrendered 6 runs inside 3 innings of work and pushed his team halfway into a grave.  Try to imagine Waino’s mood for the next few inning.  A pitcher takes the ball and is the first and last line of defense.  He is the one that controls the action, dictates the pace and offers the other team an avenue of success.  Wainwright let his team down.   He had no idea that Gio Gonzalez, the 21 game winner who ran into control problems in Game 1 at Busch Stadium, would be wound up so tight and slowly let his team down.   The Cardinals got a run in the 4th inning on a Matt Holliday double to make it 6-1 and suddenly, any Cards fan knew there was a chance.  The worst thing about surrendering 6 runs early is your offense goes in chase mode and your pitching staff has to stop the bleeding.  A comeback only happens if the pitching can stop taking damage.  The real hero of Game 5 wasn’t Daniel Descalso or Pete Kozma.  It was the bullpen of the Cardinals that garnered the MVP honors in my opinion.  After Wainwright allowed 6 runs in 2.1 innings, the bullpen yielded only a single run in 6.2 innings.  The bullpen put out a quality start and it was vital to the comeback of the bats.  The offense chipped away more and more.  After the run in the 4th, the Cardinals added 2 more in the 5th on a wild pitch and a walk.  Gonzalez doesn’t yield runs on hits against the Cards.  He hurts himself with bad control and a failure to make pitches with runners on base.  He escaped big damage but let the Cardinals in the door.  In 10 innings pitched in the NLDS, Gio walked 12 Cardinals and threw over 200 pitches.  Instead of showing shades of Sandy Koufax, Gio reminded me of C.J. Wilson from the Rangers rotation in 2011.  A playoff choker.

The Cardinals got single tallies in the 7th and 8th innings on a Matt Holliday groundout and a Descalso home run.  D.D.’s bash off Nationals setup man Tyler Clippard was especially impressive because he passed the Buffa Insult test.   When I jump on a slumping player, they usually respond with big hits.  It worked in the past with Edgar Renteria and various Cardinals, but I kept shouting at the TV screen that Descalso was overmatched.   On nearly every pitch from Nationals pitching(except a Game 2 home run and triple), Descalso wasn’t able to get his bat speed going and either fouled off pitches to the left from being behind or swung through it.   A big factor in Descalso’s future reliability as a starter is his ability to raise his average out of the .220 range.  One thing that lingers in my mind about 2013 is the return of Rafael Furcal from an elbow injury and forcing Kozma and Descalso into a battle for second base.  Furcal first has to prove he can recover from his injury without surgery and make it back to spring training.   Right now, a more realistic option is letting Kozma platoon with Furcal and save the older player for games later in the season, but I know Rafy wants to play every day.   It will be an interesting setup.   Taking a quick time out here from this Game 5 recap, I will give credit here to John Mozelaik and former director of scouting Jeff Luhnow(now the GM in Houston) for crafting a fleet of homemade talent.  Yadier Molina, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Tony Cruz, Descalso, Kozma, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte, Trevor Rosenthal, Sam Freeman(LHP in bullpen in future), Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, and of course Mr. Shelby Miller.  That’s a lot of major league ready or cooking talent.  A huge reason for the Cardinals consistent success while only raising their bullpen marginally over the last few years.   Amazing development with more on the way in the form of Oscar Taveras, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Jason Motte allowed the Nationals a huge insurance run.  After Descalso’ home run made it 6-5 and a one swing game, Motte allowed the Nationals to carve out a little breathing room.  Drew Storen, the Nats closer returned from surgery and only coming back into the role slowly, took the ball in the 9th.   Carlos Beltran smacked a double to start the inning and just like that, the tying run came to the plate.  Matt Holliday and Allen Craig gave the crowd hope.  Holliday bounced out and Allen Craig struck out.   Molina came to the plate as our last shot.  Of everybody on the roster, Molina and David Freese were my preferred hitters because of their ability to come through in the clutch.  Both faced pitcher’s counts and both drew miraculous walks.   They were locked in and focused.  The ability of this team to focus in close and tight situations is amazing.  Storen twice had them down to their last strike, just like 2011 against the Rangers, and Molina and Freese drew walks.   Based loaded, 2 outs, and Daniel Descalso at the plate.  The .225 hitting defensive specialist who constantly gets overmatched yet just launched a solo home run an inning earlier.   Descalso had worked counts equaling 32 pitches inside 4 at bats in Game 4’s 2-1 loss.   This time, Descalso refused to go deep in the count.   On the first pitch, he ripped a 2 run game tying single off shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove.   Suddenly, the crowd went quiet.  The Nationals looked stunned.  Their lead, as comfortable as mac and cheese on a stormy cold night, was GONE.  Jayson Werth from looking like the proud sheriff of Tombstone to the dejected lost soul on Hells on Wheels.   Bryce Harper’s energy slowed.  Storen now had the sword sticking out of his team’s side.  The tables had turned.  The Cardinals were threatening to steal everything the Washington baseball crowd had held dear for 3 hours.  The crowd was packed but I can bet more than half of those people were baptized Nationals followers in the past month.   The bandwagon in the capitol had been tipped over.  Back in St. Louis, I flew off the couch and sent a fist pump and swing so quick I nearly knocked out my wife.   I didn’t know what was wrong with the world at the moment.  I just knew the Cardinals were tied.

When Kozma came to the plate, all I was thinking was, “We are tied.  If we get a hit here, it’s gravy on the top.”   Kozma got behind 0-2 to Storen, but then lined an outside fastball into the right field corner.  Before the hit, Descalso had moved up to second base on a non throw from catcher Kurt Suzuki.  Kozma’s hit brought home Freese and Descalso.  The Cardinals dugout erupted.  Mike Matheny even smiled for more than a second.  St. Louis homes lit up and got loud.  Fireworks were set to go off.  The tide had been turned.  The last thing on our minds was thinking the Cardinals would return to the stage and provide an encore from last year.  Together, as a team, they did just that Friday night.  Something about their resurgence in late September and the luck they have had, is telling me this team could make another run.  A year ago, Chris Carpenter out-dueled Roy Halladay and the Cards outlasted the Phillies in the NLDS.  This year, the Cards outlast the Nationals and come back from a 6-0 deficit to win 9-7 on great bullpen pitching, timely walks and a flurry of clutch hits.  All in one night, everything that went wrong all of 2012 happened and everything that had been great in 2012 also occurred.  Without Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols and Dave Duncan, down 6-0, down to their last strike, The Cardinals never gave up.  This is why I love baseball.  Love this team.  It’s an unpredictable ride.  That ride continues tonight against the Giants in San Francisco.

There aren’t a lot of scary factors to the Giants.  They just came back against the Reds after being down 2-0 in the NLDS.  After dropping two at home, they won 3 in a row on the road.   Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are quality starters.  Tim Lincecum had a horrible 2012 season but owns two Cy Youngs and pitched well in the NLDS.  Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval anchor their offensive attack.  Sergio Romo is their closer, with Brian Wilson on the mend from Tommy John surgery.  I wanted this matchup over the Reds because of the bullpen, lineup and rotation advantage the Cardinals have.  The SF Giants are no pushovers but I expect this to be a gritty and exciting series.  It may go 7 games.

Other Things While I bring my Blood Pressure back down after reliving Friday night there in 1,700 words-

*It’s no surprise Chris Carpenter made a rousing speech in the 4th inning to jumpstart his teammates.  That is what true leaders do.  The man’s an animal.  He also owns 10 postseason wins, which ranks in the top 10 of all time totals in MLB history.  If you told me Carpenter brushed his teeth with a slab of concrete, I’d believe you.

*The Rams coughed up a 17-14 loss on the road against Miami today.  Bradford threw for 315 yards but still holds the ball too long and takes too many sacks.  He has to throw it away.  “The Leg” Greg Zuerlein missed three field goals today on the grass in an outdoor stadium, reminding everyone he isn’t a cyborg.  Steven Jackson and Darryl Richardson ran for nearly 140 yards together.   The receivers played well.  What doomed the Rams were wasting several opportunities early in the red zone.  When you can’t push 7 points on the board on three chances in the red zone, your offense is inept and shitty.  For 6 games, the Rams defense and kicker have helped provide exclamation points on 3 wins and failed to get help from the offense on 3 losses.  I will take the 3-3 record, but it’s hard to dismiss the fact that the Rams could be 5-1 right now.  Miami didn’t play a great game but they stopped the Rams from scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter and Ryan Tannehill did a solid job behind center.  Jeff Fisher’s gang can play football and compete and win their share.  Their next step up depends on the offense’s ability to put up real points early.

*Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado produced the best fight all year in boxing on Saturday night.  The two welterweights engaged in heavy duty jaw shaking warfare for 7 rounds before Rios finished off Mile High Mike with a dosage of heavy right hands forcing the ref to stop the fight.  Both fighters were undefeated and each were warriors in the ring last night and reminded boxing fans there are men out there who want train for 3 months and actually put on a show.  Rios and Alvarado did.  Fight replays all week on HBO.  At the time of the stoppage, Rios was up slightly on one card and the other two had the fight even.  Rios just caught Alvarado with a few healthy right hands.

*Argo is one of the best movies of the year and worth your ticket this weekend.  It is the first film of 2012 to fully embody the idea of an Oscar winner.  A part drama, part thriller, and part delicious comedy comes from Ben Affleck who is currently 3-3 in the director’s chair.  He produces nail biting adult entertainment that involve thought provoking human crime dramas.  This story was true and declassified until recently, about Tony Mendez, brilliantly underplayed by Affleck, a CIA specialist who was good at extracting Americans in dicey situations.  The situation was the 1979 Iranian Revolution in Tehran where the locals went berserk and joined the local army and locked down the streets until The US government returned their leader, called The Sha, to Iran to face punishment for his crimes.  Six American diplomats took refuge in the Canadian Ambassador’s home until Mendez devised a plan to create a fake movie production in Iran to try and get them out.   Affleck’s attention to detail here is insanely good and award worthy.  See it.  Now.  Argo and End of Watch are the best out there.

*If the NHL players care about the fans and the millions of employees who work in arenas across the country, they will give in, take a pay cut and end the lockout.  Regular season games were cancelled last week and while I can see the players perspective, I can also see the owners side.  Both sides can grow some humility and end this soon.

*The Dallas Cowboys find many ways to choke and it’s not just Tony Romo.  Watch the highlights and find out.

*The Falcons are 6-0 but I doubt they win the Super Bowl.   Matt Ryan isn’t a good quarterback in the playoffs and that may never change.  Their defense also isn’t that good.  All they have going for them full time is Michael Turner’s running ability.   I am not sure if that will be enough.

*The Jets find ways to be horrible yet tolerable.  Their Tim Tebow sideshow act didn’t work so well but they might finish at 7-9 or 8-8, against Rex Ryan’s preseason wishes of a Super Bowl.  I’ll say this with full conviction.  Tim Tebow has a better shot of winning a Super Bowl than Mark Sanchez, who chokes on the big stage.  I said it so deal with it.

*Devil’s Cut Kentucy Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a wise well intention carrying friend to have during playoff baseball.

*The little monster known as Vinny keeps talking, moving and growing in ambition.  He isn’t walking yet but he is putting together words and showing intelligence while showing a keen sense for doing things he shouldn’t.   He spreads his “fake” whines out well, loves to get into the trash can and smiles all the time even though he can’t breathe fully with a cough and stuffy nose.  He collects mini concussions daily by throwing himself into wood floors, the head of my dog and pushing and grappling like a full back.   I’ve been a dad for 13 months and I can tell you kids truly are resilient.

*Song of the Day-“Lost Boy” by Greg Holden is songwriting and coalition of instruments to go with a hurtful voice at it’s best.  Check it out.

*Best Show at the moment-Tie between Boardwalk Empire and Homeland.

Best news of the day.  The mobile site and app for my movie website, film-addict.com, is live and ready to use.  It is as sharp and professional looking as anything on our site and the desktop version switch is available.  If you have an IPhone, it gives you the instant option to add it to your home screen.  Please check it out, tell friends and foes, and get people to my site.  Our content is second to none.

That’s all I have for now.  Go Cards!

Sincerely,

Dan Buffa

A Stream of Playoff Consciousness

I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about this loss.  It was a straight up triumph for the Nationals.  They clawed, fought and battled for every inch to force a game 5.  It was a clear yet stomach churning loss.   Tomorrow night, they get their shot.  The Cardinals have been warned.  The Nationals will not go easy.  Let’s make this quick and painful.  Everybody knows that a guy like me has to explain it in order to get rid of it.  Here we go.

 

For starters, I don’t want to hear about Jim Joyce’s strike zone.  This is like complaining about the shadows at the start of the game.  Its exactly like complaining about the weather, gas prices or a politician’s soul.   Useless talk.  The strike zone was horrible.  Inconsistent.  Endless trouble for the hitters.   However, the reason it isn’t worth a lengthy discussion is because Joyce was unfair to both sides all night.  ALL NIGHT.  Let’s move on.

 

A cap tip to the Nationals pitching staff.  Russ Detwiler came out and pitched the game of his life.  Under the microscope of Steven Strasburg’s absence, Detwiler(from Wentzville, MO) carved up the Cards with his versatile array of pitches.  The lefthander didn’t let the Cards get the early lead, quiet the crowd and take over the fate of the season.  He matched Kyle Lohse inning for inning.  The bullpen took over in the 7th inning and struck out 7 batters in getting their 9 outs.  Jordan Zimmerman wanted to atone for his horrible Game 2 start and fired heat.  Tim Clippard and Drew Storen struck out four more and put away the Cardinals.  A good baseball fan knows when your team is outgunned and tonight they were outlasted, beat to the punch and dominated by the bullpen.

 

Lohse and Detwiler each yielded a run but held the game in check at 1-1.  The Nationals bullpen outpitched the Cards bullpen.  Lohse fired 7 inning of gutsy brilliant pitching, giving the Cardinals every opportunity to take the lead and the series.  Mitchell Boggs gave a scoreless frame.  Saving Jason Motte for a possible extra inning close, manager Mike Matheny put Lance Lynn on the mound for the ninth.  Good move.  Lynn can fire off multiple innings, as he did Monday.  He has been great all week.  However, he threw 13 pitches to Jayson Werth in the ninth.  12 of them were four seam fastballs.  Werth hammered #13 into the Cardinals bullpen in left field, right over Motte’s head.  I know the four seam heater is Lynn’s bread and butter pitch, but he survived all season because he keeps a changeup in his command.  He fired it and barely missed on a 2-2 pitch to Werth.  Why not throw it again?  Leadoff walks are killer, but serving up heat to a fastball lover at the plate is a kill shot.  Lance Lynn wouldn’t relent and got burned for it.  A cap tip to Werth.  He knew what was coming.  He guessed right.  That is a hitter’s main objective.  Go up to the plate looking for one pitch.  Multiple pitch searches will leave you carved up.  Mark McGwire teaches his hitters to look for only one pitch.  Werth found a 3-2 heater down the middle and swung just fast enough.  He did and the Cards were burned.  The minute that pitch sailed over the left field wall, a large image of Gio Gonzalez appeared in my head.  A 21 game winner who pitched like dogshit in Game 1 gets to come home tomorrow night and pitch in a place he was comfortable in 2012.  Gio likes Washington’s security.  The capitol serves him well.  His numbers are nearly identical when it is split between home and road games, except for one key stat.  Earned run average.  Gio has a 2.38 ERA at home as opposed to a 3.31 on the road.   He only allowed three home runs there in 90.2 innings.  In Game 1 he pitched decent enough to keep the Cards at 2 runs while giving 8 walks and a hit.  He survived Busch and gets to return to the center stage tomorrow night.   Great pitchers rise to the occasion.  Higher than anyone else on a big stage.   We all know Adam Wainwright will show up tomorrow and bring everything he’s got.  He closed out the Mets in 2006 and threw the last pitch of the World Series.  He pitched well in Game 1.  He is a bulldog and craves the stage like his rotation soldier Chris Carpenter.  Will Gio rise up tomorrow?  As a Cardinals fan, let’s hope not.

 

Kyle Lohse pitched his tail off tonight.  Seven innings with a run allowed and a stout performance.  Lohse was a horse all season.  16-3 record in the regular season.  He wins the wild card game against the Braves.  After two injury plagued crappy seasons, Lohse delivered a decent season and finished it with a stellar season.   Good luck Kyle.  Still a weak fucking name for a boy.

 

Any die hard fan knows when a game is going south.  Watching the Cardinals put on a few baserunners tonight and leave them stranded.  Watch the consistently flabbergasted Matt Holliday whip around and look at the umpire like a little dog who just got his bone taken away from him.  Watch the constantly overmatched Daniel Descalso swing for a high strike.  Watch the Cardinals hitters who ripped Nationals pitching two games in a row for 20 runs and 2 clear cut dominating victories.  This series has seen each team win in different ways.  The Cardinals have won with brute force.  A strong blunt force trauma crack to the head.  The Nationals’ wins have been of the late inning heart breaking variety.  A comeback 2-1 win in Game 1 and the walk off bomb tonight.  The Phillies may be out of the playoffs, but two of their former players are making waves.  Raul Ibanez hit two home runs last night while pinch hitting for the highest paid player in the league in A-Rod.  He tied the game in the 9th and won it in the 12th against the stunned Orioles.  Werth, given a huge contract last year and choking big time before becoming a leadoff hitter in 2012, cranked the game winner tonight.  After the game, Werth said he was inspired by Ibanez.   Two Ex-Phillies casted off by their former suppliers of brotherly love, coming up big with different jerseys on.  That’s baseball.  As I write this, Baltimore’s resurgent Nate McLouth just hit a solo home run to put the Orioles ahead 1-0 in the 5th inning against New York.  Talk about a guy left for dead.  McLouth came to the reborn Baltimore crew as a lost hitter.  A man who boomed with the Pirates, sank after a trade with the Braves and got his life back with Balty.  That’s baseball.

 

A thrilling postseason of comebacks concludes tomorrow night.  The Cardinals, once ahead 2-1 with full control, are not stuck in the political epicenter of the country fighting for their future.  It wouldn’t be completely blood gushing to lose tomorrow.  A month ago, we were barely hanging onto a playoff spot after a season full of inconsistency and big injuries.  We barely made it into the playoffs.  We beat the Braves and got ahead of the Nationals, only to look them straight in the eye at this moment.  Ask anyone on that team and they will preach the Matheny gospel.   “These guys know how to win.  They’re a great group of players who fight every night.  I’m proud of them.  It’s something…”  Alright, Mike, I got it.  Do me a favor.  Win tomorrow night and hit that podium with that John Wayne drawl and tell us the story again.   I can tell you I would be happy if it ended tomorrow.  I can also tell you I might want to damage a printer with a baseball bat at the same time.  That’s baseball for you.  Baseball starts in the spring when everything is coming to life.  It prospers as the temperature rises and everything comes into full plume.   In the late stages of the fall, right at the onset of the winter, it dies.  Only one team survives.

 

If you take away one thing from today, it’s the painful fact that the Cardinals are consistent at being an inconsistent baseball team.  Yes it makes sense. They never make it easy and their fans bleed as a result of it and reach for extra medicine.  Torment is our name.   The same goes for any team in the majors expected to win every season.  The Cardinals will disappoint unless they win the World Series.  That’s life as a Cardinals fan.  Cubs, Pirates, Padres, Toronto and Seattle fans hope for competitive baseball and a .500 record.  The Cardinals are expected to win.  Tomorrow, the season is on the line.  Like any game in life, the march of this team will go on no matter what happens tomorrow.  No team ever stops.  Offseason comes on, deals happen and training for the next season begins.  However, the 162 game season yields a playoff round.  A party for the best teams.  Teams compete for titles and hope to make it to the big series.   What happens to the Cardinals?  They get kicked out of a party or take it over.  Tomorrow’s party is at 730pm.  Prime time.  Adam Wainwright against Gio Gonzalez.  Are the Cardinals going home or not?

 

Random thoughts from today’s game-I started a game blog on WordPress today at game time, but stopped because I was having too much fun participating in the Cardinals Nerve Center text battle with a few good friends.  Here are some excerpts.

*Commercials comment #1-The TBS TV spots are far better than Fox Sports Midwest, whose commercials take the place of a brain numbing pill after you watch around 75 games on their network.  TBS pours similar if slightly more varied commercials that don’t annoy you so fast the last channel button is the most touched piece of equipment on the day.  HP umpire Joyce calls his strike with an emphatic Frank Drebin like scream.   He likes his strikes so I get the feeling the zone will be huge today.  Cough drops may be required later on in the game.

*Commercial comment #2-Bruce Springsteen’s playoff song for TBS is called “In the land of hope and dreams” and after downloading and listening to it in it’s entirety, I can tell you the song is a powerful tribute to the American dream, their fallen saxophonist Clarence Clemons III, and a good tune for baseball.   You need to give it a listen so you can hear more than Springsteen say about 30 times a game, “This trainnnn….”.   I am not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen’s The E Street Band because their songs can overwhelm a set of ears.  I prefer the gritty Bruce with a guitar in his hand firing off acoustic heartbreakers.  Here, the song works.  Then again, if the Cardinals advance, I will be glad because if I hear it too many times, I may revert to hatred instead of my current stand of praise.

*Ladies and gentlemen, the Steven Strasburg pout is on full effect today.  That is what happens when a city doesn’t see playoff baseball for 84 years and one of the best pitchers in baseball isn’t on the roster.
*The Reds have been eliminated.  So long Rolen.  Goodbye Dusty.  Time for you to join another team.  Fuck you Cueto, “kicking impossible”.  Take it easy Walt.  Your team falls again.  The Giants await the Cards-Nats winner.
 
Now I need a drink.  After the game, I smoked a cigar, put the kid on the swing set, grabbed a hockey stick and rocketed tennis balls at my garage door.  BOOM!  It helped a little.  I have written this.  I feel a little better.  Real sports fan understand why the majority of this country requires alcohol.

Non Sports Comment-Unemployment sucks because you have to go into the offices every four weeks and meet with a person who is supposed to help you find a job.   You go into the office, check it on a computer and you can end up waiting a long time for a 5 minute meeting with the person.  They ask you how your search is going.  You tell them you apply and hear little back.   They hand you a sheet full of jobs that you have already applied for.   All this in order to get benefits that I paid for myself when I was paying taxes on my paycheck.  Bullshit.  Just give me my money and leave me alone.  I earned it.

Thanks for reading,

DB

Get some sleep.  At midnight, it’s press time for my website, Film-Addict so I will be up.

 

S.T.L. Cards Wrap up

Let me spin it for you as quick as I can before I drown myself in premium cable entertainment,

I can handle a straight up loss.  One team outplaying another and the final score carrying plenty of versatile evidence of why one team lost and the other triumphed.  I can handle a punishing 9-2 loss.  10-0.  12-2.  6-2.  I can’t handle a loss where the game hinged on one very poor rather stupid decision by a manager.  Those kind of failures stick themselves inside your ribs, deep in your cage, travel up to your head and never like to leave early.  This Game 1 loss to a very beatable Washington Nationals team sent me off the deep end.  With apologies to my wife and son, the last 3 hours have been rough. Let me explain.

With the Cardinals up 2-1 in the top of the 8th inning, Mitchell Boggs had two runners on and Kurt Suzuki at the plate.  Suzuki is the hottest hitting Nationals player from the past month.  He buried the Cardinals last weekend on a 10th inning double at Busch.  This time, facing Boggs, the CARDINALS 8TH INNING SETUP MAN ALL SEASON, Suzuki struck out and Boggs was pumped up.  Personally, I think he could have faced a lefthander and righthander at the plate next and fired three strikes past them as well.  When I saw him bounce off the mound like a red bull injected rhino, I thought we had this game.  Minutes earlier, I had told a few fellow Cards Nerve Center employees that if the Cards lineup blew a bases loaded and nobody out situation, they would lose the game.  Boggs put those fears out.  Then Mike Matheny climbed the dugout steps and made his way to the mound.  By my “watching baseball forever” rule book, I assumed you would take out pitchers when they are struggling.  Boggs struggled at first, gave up a couple of hits and got into trouble but was ready to escape danger and maintain the lead.  Instead, Matheny pulled him and brought in the problem child lefty, Marc Rzepczynski.  “Scrabble” barely pitched all of September, and that was due to a lack of confidence and skill.  He had a bad 2012 season and was being avoided for younger nastier lefthander Sam Freeman.   All of a sudden, in October, Matheny is going to him in key blood drip situations.  Rzep was brought in to face lefthander Chad Tracy, a bench bat added to the Nationals roster at the last minute.   It didn’t take a religious baseball fan to tell you the veteran manager of the Nationals, Davey Johnson, would pull back Tracy and send in a lefthander.  Tony La Russa fell for this shit all of the time, Hall of Fame credentials and all.  Matheny fell for it here, or so I hope he fell for it and didn’t intend for a struggling lefthander to face a rookie righthander Tyler Moore, who had 10 HR and several big hits off the bench.  If he sought out that situation, I want his and pitching coach Derek Liloquist’s head checked immediately.  This is a no brainer dumbass move.  Plain and simple.  Mitchell Boggs has been the setup man for this team all year and led the league in holds.  He is your guy and he has nasty pitches.  Allow me to throw some numbers at you, courtesy of Cards stat magician Tim Trokey, via Twitter.

*Rzep versus first batters he faces-Hitters hold a .338 average(22-65) off him which is 7th worst in baseball.

*Opponents hit .145 with runners in scoring position against Boggs in 2012.

If I had a chance to ask Matheny a question, I would ask him just that.  Looking at the numbers and using common sense Mike, why the fuck did you bring in Marc and not stick with Boggs?  Let’s not get into bringing in Jason Motte there.  If he does that, he has to pinch hit for a Cardinals hitter in the middle of the lineup in the bottom half of the 8th inning, because the pitcher’s spot was due up soon.  Also, Rzep had to pitch to at least one hitter when he was brought in.  Again, you could walk Moore and pitch to Jayson Werth with the bases loaded, but Werth had already left the bases loaded twice in this game and I firmly believe Boggs had a great shot of getting any batter sent to the plate by the Nationals out.  STICK WITH THE SYSTEM MIKE.  Don’t get cute, fancy or neat.  Do what got you here.  Stick with the shutdown crew.  Edward Mujica, Boggs and Motte.  Done.  Simple.  Clear.  Easy.  Instead, when Boggs got into a little trouble yet seem to be escaping it, Mike Matheny pulled him.  BAD BAD DECISION that puts the Cards down 1-0 in a series.   It happened last year against the Phillies, but that was a clear lop sided loss.  Lance Berkman hit a 3 run home run in the first inning but Lohse imploded in the 5th inning and the Phillies beat us 6-3.   Here, the Cards lost 3-2 because Rzep gave up a 2 out 2 strike opposite field bloop single to Moore.  I don’t care if Moore reached for a good changeup and got a piece of it.  He did enough to score two runs and flip the score on its head.  4 outs away from the chance to take control of the series, the Cards coughed it up.  The 8th inning started with 2 hits, and runners at first and third.  Boggs got two straight outs and was pulled.  Ridiculously horrible decision by Matheny.  That wasn’t the only reason we lost but in my mind it was the biggest.

What else happened?  The Cards were given 7 walks inside 5 high risk innings by 21 game winner Gio Gonzalez, and only scored 2 runs on 1 hit.  The offense was missing in this game.  In the second inning, we had a chance for a huge inning and came away with two on a wild pitch and a sac fly.  In the 5th inning, we had 2 on and 1 out and got nothing.  In the 8th inning, we had the bases loaded and nobody out.  Given 7 walks during the game, why would Allen Craig and Yadi Molina swing at the first pitch and respectively hit into a forceout and a double play?  I have no idea.  They are the smartest hitters in the team.  I trusted them to do the right thing.  They failed.  The lineup failed to pounce on a erratic young pitcher sweating under the high beams of playoff lights.  On Friday, we took advantage of errors and bad pitches by Kris Medlen(another supposedly unhittable arm) and scored 6 runs.  Today, we didn’t take advantage of 7 walks and many big opportunities.  We fumbled them and set up the worst decision in Mike Matheny’s first year as manager.  I run it through my head so many times and come up with zero excuses for that decision.

Trust me folks, I have seen it all.  I have watched this team for over 20 years.  I worked for 8 years on the Manual Scoreboard at the old Busch Stadium and saw over 800 games doing that.  I have seen enough games to know which moves are good and which moves are insanely stupid.  My credentials are legit.

Where do we go from here?  Game 2 tomorrow.  More torture.  More unpredictable baseball, which can be wonderful and poisonous to fans inside of one game.  Oh, it’s great when it goes in your team’s direction.  When it hits your team’s spine and nearly breaks it, the blood spills down your own cheek and you get violent towards others.   In the early goings, the pitchers were going against type.  Inconsistent all year, Adam Wainwright had 5 strikeouts through 3 innings.  Gonzalez had shut us down for a complete game victory weeks earlier.  Today, he struggled mightily in walking 5 after three innings.

After the game, I stared at the television for about 10 minutes and then mowed the lawn in furious anger.  Instead of beating an elderly woman on my street or kicking a smart ass kid in his face to appease my anger, I got productive.   Did it quell my anger?  NO.  I am still mad as hell.  What am I going to do about it?

Watch HBO and Showtime entertainment.  Boardwalk Empire, Dexter and Homeland.  Eat some dinner.  Make some espresso.  Crack open a bottle of wine.  Seek out a beer.  Slowly make it to my bed for sleep.  Or I may go to the gym and punish my body further.  We will see.

More Game Notes-

*Yadi Molina, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig went 0-10 with 2 walks in today’s game.

*Wainwright struck out 10 Nationals in 5.2 innings.  He deserved a win.

*Edward Mujica pitched a sweet quick 7th inning where he retired the heart of Washington’s order on less than 10 pitches.

After the game, Mitchell Boggs told the media that he wanted the next hitter but doesn’t make the big decisions.  I think he should have choked out Matheny with one of those high socks.  Instead, he was the noble soldier who took a loss and bullet when he wasn’t afforded the chance to give it up himself.   That must suck for relievers.  You come into a game.  Struggle initially but then get two huge outs.  The lead in intact, your adrenaline is higher than the Arch and then…you see your manager walking toward you while pointing towards the bullpen.  You see who is coming in and internally say to yourself, “What the fuck is he thinking?”  Ask Boggs with a gun to his head what he thought right there.  That is the money answer.

If I asked Matheny my question after the game, he would respond in his poor man’s John Wayne low tenor that he was going with the numbers and experience.  Wrong and wrong.  The numbers say Rzep sucks and last year is history Mike.  I bet Joe Strauss, Derrick Goold, BJ Rains and other Cards reporters didn’t have the balls to ask him that question.  I would have.  As a real journalist/blogger/soul who requires information to put one foot in front of the other, I would have gotten my answer.

For a non baseball topic, I can’t wait for the retarded Peyton Manning haters to come out of their shells and smack him for today’s loss to the Patriots.  They will reference the Manning face, the noodle arm or whatever.  They will forget one thing.   Peyton Manning had a better game than Tom Brady.  He completed 70 percent of his passes.  He threw for 345 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.  It’s too bad he doesn’t play defense, because as Tim Tebow found out in the playoffs last year, his defense is utterly horrible against the Patriots.  Manning was a maniac today and led an ill-fated comeback.  When looking at the tape and the plays after the game, head coach John Fox and his staff will see a game lost because his defense couldn’t make a stop.  After four neck surgeries, Peyton has still got it.  If his defense ever catches up, watch out for the Broncos.  It’s the opposite situation of the Rams.

That’s it.  I’m done.  Take care.  Sleep tight.  Get some rest.  You will need it for tomorrow.  Jordan Zimmerman against Jaime Garcia.  While the skinny Mexican has pitched well as of late, I worry about Garcia on a playoff stage.  He was horrible last October.  We can only hope room service makes his eggs right tomorrow morning.  Hope that he wakes up on the right side of the bed and gets hot water in his shower.  We can only hope that Garcia doesn’t get any mean telepathic looks from people on the street.  Will he get the right parking spot?  Trim his goatee right.  Let’s hope the umpire doesn’t miss a strike call or for a defensive mishap behind him to mess up his fragile mojo.  Garcia has the arm of a veteran crafty lefthanded starter but the head of a high school varsity virgin.  Will he hang tough tomorrow or give the bats a chance to dent Jordan(weak name for a boy)?  We will find out.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

The L is for Larry.  I was named after my grandfather Lawrence Bulus.  He was a hunter, fisherman and saint.  He died of a heart attack.  He was joined by my grandmother, Henrieta(Meme)  last December.  I still remember watching him cut up the fish that we caught and cooking them with him.   He died right before he was going to teach me to shoot a rifle.  I ended up learning on my own.  Good times from a young Buffa’s life.