Let’s get it out of the way. Tomorrow I turn 31 years old. There will be a party, a few friends, food, a football game to watch and fun to be had. It’s nothing special. Just another year in the chamber. I’m still alive and kicking. Walking and talking. Making decisions, paying bills, working full time and building a passion project on the side. I’m still a father and a husband first and foremost. That is what I am. Everything else I simply decide to do. There are things that you are born to do and everything else just falls under the daily docket. I love my life while I admit that it can improve but you won’t hear me complain. I am healthy, out of danger, at home and full of opportunity. The greatest thing in life is still and always will be free will and finding people who make you a better person. That’s not just America’s call of duty, but the world’s. We are free…until we let ourselves get chained up by possessions and problems. My advice to you at 31 years is be your own person, seek freedom, have some fun but stay healthy. Your body goes to shit and your scale in life gets tipped downward. The Bullet Round begins now. These things rarely get written in one sitdown.
Vinny Buffa Rant
The kid just woke up from his nap after only 100 minutes. Usually, Saturdays are long nap days for Big V but today he wakes up early. Ranting is on hold. After two hours, cuddling, feeding, laundry and checking him for stinks and snots, Vinny is playing around the house and acting like a tazmanian drama queen. Full of energy, spiked with ambition yet feeling the need to cry and bitch about when a toy doesn’t do what he wants or it doesn’t respond to a demand. My man is 16 months old and only beginning to discover the cruelest joke in this world. Nothing happens on a simple command. While he plays I will get back to the leading part of this latest blog.
Super Bowl Thoughts
The Super Bowl will be a grindhouse bloody bare knuckle battle. Two teams known for their bone crunching defenses and fierce running games will match wits tomorrow night. I don’t carry a horse in this race but will watch with the excitement of a guy seeking a close battle worth a set of eyes. Taking place in the city of comfort in New Orleans and inside the haunted heroic Super Dome, it is a fitting return for the palace that featured the end of the Greatest Show on Turf. When Warner, Faulk and the Rams ran into a buzzsaw called Bill Belicheck, Tom Brady and The New England Patriots in 2002, nightmares came to life and a great wonderful enterprise ended. Suspicion haunted one team while a doormat existence settled into the other while the Superdome itself was a cathedral of refuge for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Tomorrow night, two teams coached by brothers will take over the field and blood will line the streets. The Ravens are led by Ray Lewis, king of changing identities and massive controversy lined up with intensity and a marked past. This is Lewis’ last stand and he won’t go down easy, deer antler spray or not. Joe Flacco has quietly put together a career of taking down beloved quarterbacks. This past month he has ended Andrew Luck’s rookie storm, Peyton Manning’s comeback and Tom Brady’s quest for salvation. Flacco has been nearly perfect and will take on his toughest defensive test to finish the job. If he wins a Super Bowl, he won’t receive as much credit as others on his team like Lewis or Ed Reed but football fans will take notice and release Flacco from the shackles of bland only good quarterbacks. Win a ring and you get respect. The 49ers will feature an array of veteran and young talent. Defensive beasts(both from Mizzou) Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, who will chase Flacco all over the field. Quarterback rookie sensation Colin Kaepernick, who stretches any defense with his ability to plant and throw, tuck and sprint, or pass on the move. Kaepernick is my secret weapon in this game and the main reason I think the 49ers will pull this out in a close battle. Frank Gore and Ray Rice will smash heads together and try to force the opposing defensive coordinators to readjust their schemes. Coaches Jim and John Harbaugh will pull every trick they can out of their book of intense tactics in order to take the other down. There are tons of story lines going on this weekend. The Harbaugh’s is the main one and I respect these two guys. While others label them whiny or too intense, I happen to think of them as two solid leaders who love to stand up for their players. They are close with their dad and help save his small college football program years ago and that earns my respect as well. It’s amazing the way people will toss labels on everything. These are the two teams nobody thought would make it to the Super Bowl but let me correct the annoying coach honors. That award goes to Belicheck, Pete Carroll and Rex Ryan. The Harbaugh’s are good old fashioned football minds. They are the spotlight this weekend. I am excited to watch Colin take on the Ravens defense and find the holes. I want to see who dominates the ground game. Which defensive line will break through? If it is San Francisco, then its big trouble for a pocket passer like Flacco and a huge task for a lineman like Michael Oher to protect him. In my mind, the unbreakable skill set here is the guy who do it all on a field and surprise people at will and that is Colin Kaepernick. He will throw and run all over the Ravens but this game will be decided by a leg and not an arm. This is where my pick becomes risky. David Akers had the worst season of his career as a kicker on the Bay. Neither leg in this game is direct money so this may be the most compelling story of all. Which kicker chokes and which one thrives on the big stage? Akers or young Ravens kicker Justin Tucker?
My Pick-49ers 27, Ravens 24
Commercials are always a secondary delight. No football turns on the game just for the commercials. That time slot is dictated for beer and food filling station trips. However, I will be looking out for the fresh movie trailer spots and a few honestly hilarious spots like The Rock’s “Got Milk” ad. They don’t hurt if they are funny. It’s always interesting to see what Budweiser comes up with. Just like the game itself, these are the championship rounds for television advertisers.
A Look At The Cards-A Few Things Before Camp
Camp opens in 10 days, so let’s run down a small list of questions, demands and investigations…
*Why isn’t David Freese signed yet? Get it done. The ball is in the Cards court on this one. They don’t want to hand a third basemen who cranked out 20 home runs, drove in 79 and hit .293 while playing a decent third base slot. 3.75 million isn’t that expensive WHEN compared to what other third basemen are making this year? There’s a guy named A-Rod making 30 million who struggled to produce what Freese did. David is clutch, local and proved his health and worth in 2012. Get it down Cards.
*I have no faith in Jaime Garcia’s left shoulder. A ligament and area that has caused the fragile Mexican to miss significant amounts of playing time gets no encouragement here. He broke down in the middle of the 2012 season and missed 2 months. He came back in September only to break down in the middle of a playoff round. How many more wait and see rehabs will this team go through before they order a knife job on the shoulder? He makes 7 million dollars in 2013 to make in my estimation 18 starts. He will break down again and require surgery. This is simple anatomy and physiology class here. That shoulder is bound to tear and need repair.
*Why did we sign Jake Westbrook to a 9 million dollar deal again? He tore his oblique muscle in September, missed the playoffs but we wanted to bring him back anyway. This team is stocked with two rotations worth of pitching. Why hand Westbrook 9 million when Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal sit at your disposal? I have a feeling this is linked to the Garcia worry foundation. Westbrook isn’t a bad pitcher but never makes you comfortable for too long when he is on the mound. He puts runners on base, throws a ton of pitches and creates anxiety. He has never won more than 15 games and didn’t need to come back when younger cheaper talent could put together than record.
*Why did we sign Marc Rzepcynzski to a 1.1 million dollar deal? He sucked big time in 2012 and that came solely from his lack of confidence in his breaking ball. He doesn’t have the heat to blow away a hitter so if he doesn’t execute his off speed pitches, he is doomed. Are the Cards trying to assemble 10 million dollars or wasted cash in two players or just having fun because Pujols isn’t around? Sam Freeman is young and talented and could improve with more innings. He could team up with Randy Choate(our big offseason sign so far) and get it done. Not to mention the fleet of arms crowding the pen with Kelly, Rosenthal, Miller, Mujica(signed), Boggs(signed) and Motte(signed). Scrabble didn’t do enough to earn a return trip.
*Ty Wiggington, Roger Cedeno and Choate may prove to be understated wonders in 2012 but I am still waiting on Mozelaik to make a move sometime this month. He has a lot of pitching and a weak bench. I don’t think he is done yet. This team doesn’t need a lot but still could use a bench bat unless Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras make the team earlier than expected. Bench power was a big soft spot in 2012. Wiggington and Cedeno don’t make it look much better. And I threw Shane Robinson off a cliff so he is no longer available.
*People do forget how miraculous this team’s 2012 run was because they forget about the injury. Without La Russa and Pujols plus a ton of key injuries, this team came within 1 win of the World Series before succumbing to the team of destiny. Lance Berkman missed nearly the whole season. Rafael Furcal missed 2 months. Allen Craig and David Freese missed a month each. Chris Carpenter missed the first 5 1/2 months. Garcia missed 2 months. Skip Schumacher missed 2 months. Jon Jay missed nearly 2 months. This team rarely fielded a full squad for three games in a row and nearly stole the show again. Duly noted.
*I don’t think Lance Lynn owns the 5th spot in the rotation when camp breaks. My feeling is Kelly or Miller will take it from him unless Mozelaik and Matheny hold up Lance Lynn’s run support inflated 18 win season in 2012 over the entire camp. Lynn is a trade chip if you ask me. Get something for him while he is valuable. Shelby Miller is your longtime rotation answer. Lance Lynn is a big band aide. Just my thoughts.
*I expect Beltran, Holliday and Allen Craig to kill it this year. Tons of power located in Busch Stadium this year and if our pitching keeps its legs beneath them, the Cardinals are a very dangerous team.
They lost to the Red Wings last night in a bitter contest marked by inconsistent play and very bad referee calls but this team is still a pleasure to watch. They erased a 2-0 deficit with two quick goals and took a brief 4-3 lead in the 3rd period against an angry Detroit team in Joe Louis Arena before allowing two strikes against their replacement stopper in Brian Elliot, who took net for an injured Jaroslav Halak. The Blues are 6-2 on the season and those two defeats have come on the road in close battles. That’s important to remember when assessing this team game by game. How are they looking in the defensive and neutral zone? How is their special teams work? Do they play 60 minutes? Can they compete on back to back nights? The answers are all yes so far. This team doesn’t quit and won’t win them all but will cause enough fucking trouble to make teams remember who they barely escaped. A different kind of Blues team is taking shape before us. There are 40 games left and the pace will only rise and with it the real test of these players. They are young and have never played this many games so close together. Who has endurance? Patrik Berglund may finally be filling out the borders of his potential. He has 5 goals, as does Russian sensation Vlady Tarasenko. This team will score a lot of goals. Every night. Defense and goaltender health will be their difference makers. We are good so far. Take away a now defunct David Backes major penalty and the outcome may have changed last night. That is how close these losses are and that is a positive development.
Rams and Rob Ryan Divorce before their Honeymoon Concludes
He wasn’t a real good find to begin with and was only a name based on his volume on the sidelines and his brothers. Rob Ryan isn’t a bad defensive coordinator but was he worth his potential ship shaking trouble? His best defense finished 19th and he ran a different scheme than the Rams 4-3 alignment. Jeff Fisher got a call from Ryan on Monday and the two decided it wasn’t a good match. The best thing about Ryan was his willingness to be honest. The search will continue.
Bullet To The Head is a solid action 1980’s throwback and Sly Stallone proves that 96 minutes of brainless action still does the body good. The film will tank and only gross around 6 million but I liked it. It executed the promise of its trailer and that was it. What Walter Hill and Stallone set out to do is what they accomplished and that was enough for me. Far too many critics walk into films with higher expectations than required. This was a guilty pleasure. He has a long storied career and is smarter than many movie fans give him credit for. He has two Oscar nominations, 25 screenplay credits, 8 directing credits and his scene at the end of First Blood is his Hall of Fame moment. A long time ago, aka when I was born, First Blood was one of the first films to take a look at post traumatic stress when it dealt with John Rambo’s post Vietnam conditions. He was great in that role and proved his acting chops at that very moment. Find out more details by reading my full piece at the link below.
Royce White Rant
Royce White is blaming his anxiety disorder for failing to play a game for the Houston Rockets. The 2012 draft pick out of Iowa State was arguably the 5th best player in the draft but fell 20 spots because of his off court demands. White has anxiety disorders, just like millions of people in this country, including my wife. He is making 3.5 million dollars and trying to stage a crusade for mental health polices in the NBA to reform themselves. If it sounds like bullshit and fragile souls, then you aren’t crazy like White. Tons of people deal with his condition and clock in every day to work. They just don’t make his millions while doing it. He dominated Anthony Davis(#1 pick in same draft) in March Madness but can’t step on a court without a special doctor watching over his nerves. Wow. Hello 2013 drama. White’s case is a slightly noble yet mostly futile mission. He didn’t miss one game in college due to anxiety yet blankets his pro career with it. Man’s a politician and he doesn’t even know it. He will play sooner rather than later, at the exact moment the agent pulls the pacifier out of his mouth.
Papa Buffa Goes to Work
Since my dad only works weekends now, he is an asset to Film-Addict’s cause. This past week, he watched an 11am screening at a local theater for me and left me a two minute voicemail that mainly consisted of him humping Al Pacino’s leg and recommending the film. I wrote up a quick paragraph, registered him with the site and published it under his name. This is versatility at its finest. He watched it, I wrote it and he helped us out. The funny part is me creating an email address for him since he doesn’t have one of his own and using that to create his Film-Addict ID, which is PapaBuffa54. He grew up on movies like Stand Up Guys and introduced me to the fine arts of cinema, so I am putting him to work.
Banshee is my latest television crush. A cinemax dark action drama with solid performances, blunt action and a good old fashioned anti-hero story anchored by the unknown Australian talent Antony Starr. In it’s third episode, this series grabbed you by the throat. Starr plays a long time con man who gets out of jail, goes back to his hometown, runs into trouble and ends up becoming the Sheriff of the town and butting heads with its corrupt suit, an Amish community gangster hiding his own past. The show is relentless at times but has the ability to slow down and tell a wild tale of redemption and romance that contains brutal violence. Alan Ball left True Blood to fire up this highly entertaining delight, so please take notice.
Listen to The National if you need a change of pace slow down folk rock cleanse. These guys can really put together a song.
That is all I have tonight. Thanks for reading. Have a good night and week. Catch me next time for more topical discussion. It could be tomorrow or next Saturday. I have no idea when I am going to set off. I just know it will happen sooner rather than later.
If you have a message for me, send it to me here and avoid the bottle in the ocean trick. It really doesn’t work.
Dan L. Buffa