Let’s get right into this latest stream of consciousness…
The Connecticut shootings are downright sickening. It’s been all over the news and broken down a million times and dissected by anchors, parents, experts and unfortunately, with child interviews. On Friday morning, a gunman named Ryan Lanza fought his way into the elementary school and opened fire on a kindergarten classroom and also on 4th graders. 28 people were killed, including 20 children. The monster strikes again, this time in horrible fashion because it takes the lives of young children. The moment I heard of the incident, I couldn’t get the thought of Vinny playing in a classroom and suddenly seeing a gunman looking down on him. As a parent, this event rocks you to your core and makes you question the security at schools. It’s a sad truth that in today’s society, a shooter walking into malls, theaters, city hall or other public places is common. However, when it happens at an elementary school and kids are involved, a table is turned over and a line is crossed. Columbine shocked the world over 12 years ago. It brought down students and teachers. Yesterday, very young kids, still young and full of hope and dreams, saw their lives come to a shocking end. I could write for hours about this and still have things to say. A national tragedy for anyone with a heart. I can’t help but wonder how the holidays will seem like a black sky to 28 families. Thanksgiving will represent the calm before the storm with Christmas being an empty afterthought of lost emotions. The shooter followed ritual and took his own life after he was done shooting. What pushes a kid to open fire on innocent people is the question here as it always is? Why not just take your own life? Why take 28 people with you? WHY? Suicide is bad, but multiple homicide requires an investigation into the mental health of our young teenagers and adults. If this action is a symptom of a disease, the time to seriously start tracking and stopping the disease from manifesting into murder is now. Reform health care. Put higher security in at schools. I wouldn’t arm the teachers. That is a recipe for disaster. Keep guns out of the classroom. Please don’t try to enforce gun control. That ONCE AGAIN isn’t the problem here. A 20 year old kid got two hand guns(probably 9mm pistols) and an assault rifle and used them at a school. My brother in law owns similar weapons and wouldn’t harm an innocent soul if his life depended on it. The police who rushed the buildings had guns used to protect. Millions of Americans are armed and for good reason. Protection. NOT FOR MURDER. Drop that moral dilemma now. Focus on security and mental health. It was later found that Lanza suffered from personality disorder and may have been autistic, according to his brother. Lanza shot and killed his mother at home before going to the school and his dad was a teacher at the school. People have said making a big deal out of this only fuels future killers because it puts a nobody in the spotlight. My response to those morons. How are normal people, including parents, supposed to react? With silence and amazement? I reacted like any other mother or father would. I put myself in those victims parents shoes and got full of rage. I was sad, slightly depressed and distant. Walking around the gym, trying to keep my focus on the weights and not the 5 television sets featuring minute by minute coverage. It’s not easy to overlook this tragedy or talk about it. If you have a heart, you think about it. Those kids and teachers had no chance. That’s sickening. It’s time for higher security at schools. You create jobs and keep our kids safe. If not parents will pull their kids. Today will set a record for most conversions to home schooling and its right and wrong with no winning side. We are on our own. I can’t imagine if something like this happened to Vinny. It’s not a pleasant thought but one that won’t leave my head. I can’t imagine the pain those families are in. Hugging my little guy tight tonight. The events remind me of a quote from the movie Seven(as many national tragedies do). Morgan Freeman’s veteran cop staring into space at the end of the film trying to make sense of a horrible crime and its resolution. Here is what he said. “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “the world is a fine place, and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.” That pretty much sums it up.
Moving onto lighter subjects-
*Skip Schumacher is no longer a Cardinal and it’s okay. Skip played well here for four years, hitting .300 in two of them and making a team first conversion from outfielder to second basemen in 2009. Skip was the ultimate utility guy and clubhouse leader. He was a grinder who would do anything to help the team win, including getting out of a squirrel’s way in a playoff game. He did a fine job and will be utilized well in Los Angeles under Mark McGwire as a Dodger. Skip came up rusty in 2007 and was sent down to Memphis many times before sticking in 2008. He hit leadoff and did a good job, getting on base and scoring a lot of runs. Skip never did any particular thing extremely well. He never solved lefties, didn’t have power, had limited range at second, ran hard but not fast, and had a strong arm and suspect range in the outfield. He gave everything when he played and that is vital for a team. Towards the end of 2011 and into 2012, Skip’s playing time decreased due to Mike Matheny’s love for Daniel Descalo’s glove. He had nine at bats in the 2012 playoffs and got zero hits. With minor league prospect Kolten Wong on the way, Skip’s playing time would have been sporadic at best in 2013. The best thing to do was trade him. We didn’t get much for him(AA starting shortstop), but that wasn’t a surprise because teams knew his value to the Cards had diminished greatly. I expected his departure and appreciate his contribution and hope he does well in LA.
*The Cardinals signed Ty Wiggington to hold down the righthanded bench spot on the team. A 2 year deal worth somewhere around 5 million for a guy who hits lefties very well, hits home runs, can’t hit for average and plays the corners and outfield spots. This isn’t a wonderful signing. The team missed out on Scott Hairston’s more advanced bat and settled on Ty, a player they have liked for years. He will help but this isn’t something you lose your shit over.
*The Reds traded for outfielder Sun Shin Choo from the Indians, making him their leadoff hitter and strengthening their lineup. Choo hits for average, gets on base and will be a required threat to get out if you don’t want Votto, Bruce and Ludwick hitting with a chance for damage. The Reds also moved dynamic closer Aromas Chapman into the rotation and setup man former closer Jonathon Broxton into the closer role. The hard throwing Chapman will find a hard time going from pitching one hard frame to being expected to throw 5-6 every five days. I think he will get worn down and revisit his wild tendencies that hurt him in 2011. Broxton is a solid closer but is far more hittable than Aromas. He doesn’t have godly pitches. The Reds will still need to match the Cardinals in pitching in order to win the Central again, something that may be harder if our Redbirds rotation stays mostly intact in 2013. Only time will tell.
*The Angels made another big splash on Thursday, signing Josh Hamilton to a 5 year, 125 million dollar deal. An outrageously risky contract for an injury prone aging and unstable talent. No GM in their right mind was going to give Hamilton more than 3 or 4 years on a deal, but Angels owner Arte Moreno once again wanted to point out that his wallet is deeper than the rest. He is quickly becoming the George Steinbrenner of the modern era of spending and the shock owner in MLB. He isn’t looking up anymore. With the Dodgers pulling 2/3 of Boston’s payroll into their bank account in July and giving Zach Greinke ridiculous years and money, the Dodgers-Angels rivalry is starting to mirror the Yankees-Red Sox billionaire program. With the Yankees and Red Sox looking to rebuild soon, The LA teams are taking over. If these teams don’t meet in the World Series in 2013 or 2014, this spending spree is a waste of time and a bust. This is WIN NOW spending, not build for the future intelligence. The Angels have a stacked lineup yet have barely any starting pitching. Greinke is gone after the midseason trade in 2011. Erwin Santana went to the Royals. Dan Haren departed via free agency to the Nationals. Their rotation is thin outside Jared Weaver and their bullpen is suspect. You can buy wins but you can’t buy a World Series in this day and age, and not with offense only. The Angels will not win the AL pennant. Mark my words.
*Kobe Bryant scores 30 points a game and his Lakers can’t win yet he is relaxed as ever in interviews. I see a man who isn’t afraid of his career ending soon. He owns 5 rings and countless praise as the best. Bryant is getting old, and so is teammate Steve Nash. Dwight Howard is seeing the big lights of LA drown out his talent, along with criticism from Shaq. The Lakers have had two coaches this season and may have a third in February. Once again you can buy wins but you can’t buy a championship. The Staples Center will remain quiet. This is simply bad basketball. Putting superstars together and hoping they gell. It worked in Miami but not sure it will come to fruition in LA.
*Greed isn’t good when it halts an entire sport and withdraws the exciting sport of hockey from the dockets of fans, who pay the contracts of the players with their attendance and merchandise purchasing. I’m talking to you Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.
*The Rams are looking legit these days. An improved team who is gunning for playoff entry. Putting Rams and playoffs into the same sentence would require laughing gas a year ago. I made a mistake in my blog on Sunday. The Rams have been 6-6 this late in the season before this past weekend. They were 6-6 late in Sam Bradford’s rookie season two years ago. They lost to Seattle in a do or die game that would sent them to the playoffs. I forgot about the preemptive comeback season because of the bad taste ringing from 2011’s bitter 2-14 finish. This year, under a new coach and the same young QB, The Rams have three in a row and can make a real push towards the wildcard spot with a win over Minnesota at home tomorrow. They have nearly beaten the 49ers twice, thrashed around the Cardinals twice, while stopping RGIII earlier in the season. They came back on Sunday with 2 minutes left. Their wins aren’t pretty and are full of true grit but they count all the same and for the former doormat of the NFL, I can take it. The Rams aren’t dead anymore. The victory in Buffalo proved they weren’t a fluke.
*Sam Bradford isn’t bad, but he isn’t particularly impressive by himself either. He has a rough concoction of Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and Phillip Rivers in his ability. A smart slightly mobile QB who can make terrible decisions at times but also can’t think too long because he has around 2.5 seconds to get rid of the ball before he is clobbered. He plays behind a young suspect offensive line. He has receivers who can’t get open. The nice way to put it is telling you that Bradford is growing along with Jeff Fisher’s new regimen, working his 2nd head coach and 3rd offensive coordinator in three years. He is neither a bust or a booming talent. He is stuck in between signs of showing rise and decline. He is a fickle friend of talent who can’t yet shake stupid decisions. He holds onto the ball a long time and his shoulder is fragile. Sam can made deadly accurate passes in the red zone and then throw a bad INT inside his own 30 yard line. He is young, plain and simple.
*Ides of March packed more of a punch the second time I saw it than the first. At initial glance, George Clooney’s dark look at the political shenanigans behind a campaign was bland, soft and crawled through the first 50 minutes towards a conclusion that received a head shake from me. The dirty politics saga of Clooney’s Governor/President hopeful making a painful mistake and his young idealistic campaign manager, played by a brilliant Ryan Gosling, using it against him didn’t land flush on my jaw the first time. Watching it again under the advisement of my dad, this seedy drama got me. Gosling’s ambitious good kid thinking he is part of a campaign that would change the world only to find out it would simply shift his conscience around. He found out the politicians he looks up to are mud covered liars with enough dirt to fill a wine cellar and that always makes for good drama if you have the right actors. Clooney and Gosling were marvelous in a late film confrontation where the shit hits the van and these two men break down the entire movie in one scene. Backroom poker between a pair of smart men who are just now recognizing the blood on their hands and the chalkboard telling them how the game is played. It could be the change in times that allowed the content to enter more directly. Clooney wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film and didn’t release it in 2008 because of the feel good campaign generated by Obama. This film is a dark shot of whiskey from the talented filmmaker of Goodnight, Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He gave us a peek into the world of liars and manipulators and didn’t close the curtain on the shame at the end. He left it up. The moral at the end of the film basically said this. If you want to survive in this world, you have to get dirty and swim with the sharks. Powerful little film. I got it.
*Manny Pacquiao will come back. Losing never changes from childhood to adulthood. You either walk home bleeding or you go to the hospital shrouded in shame wondering if time travel would allow you a more favorable outcome. Pac Man will not retire face down on the canvas after a viciously well timed Juan Manuel Marquez right hand that knocked out Manny cold. He will come back and challenge the proud Mexican to a fifth fight. Trust me. The megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. may be out of reach right now but recovering dignity is within grasp. Floyd will make his return in May and fight Robert Guerrero in May and then challenge Canelo Alvarez in September. Marquez will beat the shit out of Timothy Bradley to unify his belts. Pacquiao may throw Amir Khan, his former sparring partner and also a man looking for redemption tonight against Carlos Molina, a bone in May and battle to recover his respect. Boxing is only heating up at the end of the year. 2013 looks bright and full of red.
*I am tired of people blabbering about the importance of politics yet I see them do absolutely nothing. Words without action are boring and a problem with our generation. These are the same drumsticks who say sports are worthless and put it down. Last time I checked sports were more entertaining and brought more people together than corrupt politics. Sports help this country heal wounds. Boxing got people through the depression. Women’s baseball helped the wives in world war 2. Baseball eased people’s minds during Vietnam. Hockey triumphed during the Cold War. Yankees baseball brought a city together after 9/11. Sports are more real and emotional than anything politics has to offer. Ask anybody save for a cynic. Sports doesn’t require a filter.
*Lost in the tragedy of yesterday was the fact that I was given a full time job at Ronnoco. It didn’t seem too important yesterday. Today, it’s hitting me a little more that I am officially back in the working class. The job isn’t glamorous or particularly wonderful but it pays the bills and gives me the 8 hour aroma of coffee and tea. I will take it. For now…
*I don’t post many trailers here anymore but I will post the new preview for The Man Of Steel, Zach Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s new Superman movie. Yes, the thoughts of another attempt to match Christopher Reeves set was tiring at first, but if anyone gets the right to look into the famous hero’s past, it’s Nolan. He is producing here and guiding 300 director Snyder towards his first masterpiece. With a cast featuring newcomer Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Shannon and the lovely Amy Adams as Lois Lane, the movie’s first full trailer is powerful and intriguing. The thing forgotten most about comic book fans and casual moviegoers is the element of Superman’s alien status making him seem like an outlaw to our world at first. The whole movie goes off the notion of an alien superhero coming to earth and changing our world. Batman and Iron Man are smart billionaires with issues, but Superman is an alien with superpowers. You can find layers and depth in that story and bring it to the screen if the right people are involved. Last time I checked Nolan turned Batman into a legendary three film trilogy that will be talked about for decades. He has his hands wrapped tightly around this one. The teaser mimicked Batman Begins too much but this second trailer sets things up perfectly. An alien trying to fit into our world and protect it at the same time. Would we allow it to happen or reject him? See for yourself.
Also, I am becoming more of a fan of Cavill with this trailer. He looks, acts and resembles the part of the legendary DC hero every time I see him in a preview.
As I prepare to make a mix featuring the great new band in my music world, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I leave you with these words.
Don’t define, caution or make an attempt to truly figure out the tragedy in Connecticut. Like many unfortunate events, it’s cause and effect will be lost forever in the dead cold mind of a killer. All we can do is learn from it, prevent it from happening again and keep living free.
Thanks for reading and goodnight,
Dan L. Buffa