Take 5 With Buffa

Good afternoon and weekend my friends, 

 
Let’s do five things and get out quick.  In the future I am going to be more blunt and focused with my blogging.  Instead of wildly shooting down topics, I am going to focus on 1 topic or do a format like today.   This way, it is more to the point and urgent.  Guerrilla journalism!  I’m taking a cue from Bernie Miklasz here, who said that blogging is about getting an idea in your head and HAVING to get out immediately.  Why wait for a list to gather up?  Just launch into motion when the material calls for it.  Alright, enough talk and time to put the hands to the keys and get started.
1. Adam Wainwright and The Cards agree to a trade and I love it.  A few points on an outstanding long term relationship.
*The deal is 5 years for 97 million dollars.  This works for both sides.  Wainwright gets paid, security and peace of mind.  The Cardinals don’t overextend themselves and get to keep their ace intact for a long time.  
*Anyone who utters the most bland set of words, “If he stays healthy…” needs to be punched hard. Twice.  Every long term deal carries risk and reward.  The Tigers did it yesterday with Justin Verlander and The Giants did it with Matt Cain.  This is obvious and tedious to include in an argument.  Sports is all about taking risks and trying to be the smartest man in your room.  The Cards wanted Waino here and the pitcher felt the same.  Deal done.  How do you get anything done without risk?  Sign more Ronny Cedeno types???
*Wainwright is a good guy and didn’t force the Cards to hand him the bank.  Sometimes, the human being can rise up in a high stakes conversation and make things simple.  It’s hard to not think about Albert Pujols here.  The Cards offered him a similar deal with a higher annual value and Albert took it as an insult.  Different situations and players but similar in the scope of the extension.   Wainwright didn’t reject this deal and test the free agent market in November.  He knew where he wanted to be and stayed put.  Albert went elsewhere to try and prove a point to himself and will regret it soon.  This is why players like Wainwright are special. 
*The deal locks up a much needed anchor to this soon to be very young rotation.  After Jake Westbrook departs this winter, the Cards rotation will be full of men in their 20’s and that is good if you have a wise formidable anchor to hold the bunch in check.  That person is Waino.  The deal cements the long term effectiveness of the Cards pitching staff.  Without him, your ace in 2013 is Jaime Garcia.  Go ahead and puke in your mouth a little.  Now, the rest of the rotation can be filled out by the likes of Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly or Michael Wacha and we are still strong for the long haul.
*Sure, I would love to tell you Wainwright will bounce back from a labor filled 2012 campaign but the season wasn’t bad.  After June, he really locked in and started to look like the Wainwright of old.  Coming off TJ surgery, patience is required and 2013 is the season where we see him fully come back. 
 
2. The Blues are heartbreakers for a few reasons.  Clear reasons.
*In the truest sense of the word, this team breaks your heart into several pieces.  They win a couple games and lose a couple games.  Their goaltenders can’t supply anchors.  Their defensemen can’t clear the puck after a shot.  The forwards can’t forecheck.  The boys just can’t gather momentum and sit in 7th place in the conference.   What seemed like a fabulous season to finally bring Stanley Cup action to St. Louis is turning into a greatest hits version of the classic tragedy on ice.   After winning all three games on their last homestand, the Blues dropped two games in Canada and now have lost two straight at home.   Since their 6-1 start, they are 11-12-2.  Chew on that with your lunch.
*Jake Allen has been sent to Peoria this afternoon to make room for the newly acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold, whom we gave up 2 draft picks for.  In his last two seasons, he has averaged 30 points and around 11 goals.  This season, he has 8 points.  Offense isn’t everything but lets hope he is a defensive wizard.  If not, what happened here?
*The shuffling of the goalies must mean Brian Elliot will resurface and get another chance to earn his 2 million.  When Halak went down earlier this season, Elliot choked on the big stage and I can’t see another way he avoids that ending.  He plays with too much pressure and has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Like it or not, the players in front of you thrive off your confidence and Elliot has none.  
*The reason I am annoyed by Halak’s work in net is his slow reaction to shot attempts and rebounds.  He just doesn’t move fast enough.  He made 35 saves on Thursday but still couldn’t seal a good ending.  Yes, the winning goal involved the net being moved but why can’t Halak smother a fucking rebound.  Is there some wicked science to this that I am missing.
*The defense has to learn how to clear the zone after a shot attempt.  If you give the team enough chances to shot on net, the damn thing will go in eventually.  Our defense is either stellar or horrible.
*The euphoria of last season is dying off quick.  The second round of playoffs reached, the momentum, thrills and style of Hitchcock hockey is starting to look very familiar to Andy Murray and Davis Payne hockey.   Inconsistent, exhausting and maddening.  
*The Blues Play The Wild on Monday with Halak in net.  What happens is something I couldn’t even bet on without a slight eye drag.
 
3.  Film-Addict Updates and General Recommendations
*His new film, GI JOE: Retaliation, may be a pile of garbage but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a legit Hollywood star and has accomplished a lot in his young 42 years.  And he is a beast.  Read my piece on him.
*New Trailer spots for White House Down and The Wolverine on the Daily Dose.  Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx go against Jason Clarke in Roland Emmerich’s White House thriller which looks a lot like Olympus Has Fallen but will be better.  The Wolverine takes another hack at making a decent Logan origin tale.  Origins truly sucked and Hugh Jackman and the character deserve better.
*DVD recommendations.  There is a lot.  There is more worth seeing at home than in theaters right now.  Rust and Bone, The Intouchables, Searching for Sugar Man and Skyfall all can be found at the neighborhood Redbox or on our website via Over The Counter and Amazon.  Truly fine cinema.
*Killing Them Softly is my white hot pick on OTC.  Brad Pitt is at his best playing dark violent characters and he plays an enforcer brought in to fix a poker game robbery in a dirty broken New Orleans setting.  James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins and Ben Mendelsohn costar but its Pitts show.  The guy is a marvel at playing characters who own a shade of mystery and danger.  Ignore the political overtones as it takes place in 2008 on the eve of the election.  Come for the juicy dialogue and phenomenal acting.   Here is a duel review from November between a staff critic and myself on Film-Addict.
 
4.  Paying it Forward Lives on.   
Today at Starbucks, after my first gym visit in two weeks(new job, laziness, lack of time, usual excuses), my son and I drove through for my daily dose of bold flavored caffeine and he snoozed in the backseat.  I ordered a 20 ounce cup of black coffee.  When I pulled up to the window to pay, the employee informed me that my drink was already paid for.  This is the second time this has happened to me this past month.   A stranger paying for my drink.  Trust me, if I knew the person we would have spoken after the stop.  This is one of those things that sneaks up and floors you in life.  A little reminder that good deeds aren’t dead.  I asked the Starbucks employee if this happens a lot and he said yes it does quite often.   I am going to pay for someone’s drink at a random time.  I didn’t do it then because I want it to be random but I will pay it forward.  It is also a blind reward and probably better that way.  The person who paid for mine didn’t have to worry about the eye locking or looks afterwards because by the time I found out he or she paid for my cup, they were gone.  The awkwardness is missing and this way it is a masked form of goodness.  I can’t get this out of my head.  Truly special moment.  
 
5.  Random Shit.  Yes, the random material lives on, but its now in one tight paragraph and not in a list that goes on a very long ending to a movie.  Here we go.  
I don’t drink much beer at home anymore.   Unless it’s off draft and out, I just don’t care for it.   Bottles don’t cut it anymore and cans suck.  I am downing about 3 cups of coffee a day but with very little sugar and it can only help the body.  My other drinks are aspartame/sugar free energy drinks and water.  This way, I don’t get any unwanted sugar and my kidneys don’t get attacked by artificial sweeteners.  My son is saying whole words now and at 18 months knows what he wants and when he wants it.  It takes teenages years to figure this out.  Suck it teenage wasteland!  My wife is killing it at the Tile Shop in Sunset Hills.  Think little of this and I will fight you.  Sales based totally off commission is MAD MEN territory and deserves respect.  She is doing this without smoking 100 cigarettes and drinking scotch at 9am in the morning.  If you don’t sell, you hit the curb and don’t get a pad for your landing either.  My wife has designed over 100 bathrooms and kitchens in homes across the city.   People call the place asking for her services and this is not even her true calling in life, which is computer networking.  You have made it in life when strangers call for your services.   Spring is arriving and that is great because this hunk of 230 pounds of Italian muscle gets out on the open road for more running.  Cardio separates the men from the boys.  That’s all.  
 
Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.  
 
Sincerely,
Dan L. Buffa
 
Advertisements

The Daily Dose

Here it goes.  Quick and blunt.  My usual format of exportation of the goods that exist and move around in my brain on a daily basis.  These things poke and prod around my mind as I work my full time gig and shove everything else crucial in life into the rest of the frame of my days. This is where it is freed for good and more room is made for new ideas.  Follow along and get my take.

 
Cards name Shelby Miller the 5th starter
I like this move for a few reasons.   Miller is a first round pick with lots of promise, ability and a stream line progression into a rotation spot.   He is different than Adam Wainwright, who developed initially in the Braves farm system, came here in a trade and worked in the pen before being inserted into the rotation.   Miller has ALWAYS been a starter and the way he is pitching, there is no reason to sidetrack his progress by making him work out of the pen.  I believe that pitchers need to know what they are going to do in the majors as much as a coaching staff can.   What is this kid destined to do?  Is there a spot?  Since Miller is untouchable in trade talks, get him in the rotation and resist paying a veteran 9 million to fill a role.   Joe Kelly is your everyman on the team.  He can start, relieve, pitch long, mop up or do something else.  He proved his flexibility last fall.   He is more fit for the bullpen than Miller.   I like this move.  The great thing about the new Mozelaik-Matheny regime is the surplus of young starters.  For three and a half years, Matheny and Mo worked together to develop these guys along with Jeff Luhnow.   While Tony La Russa was prepping his exit, the suit and the future manager were prepping their own future.  Following Miller looking for rotation work will be young arms Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez.  Other teams would kill for the Cards pitching depth.  Believe me.
 
Closer Situation
Jason Motte is heading to the DL with an elbow strain, or a flexor tear or whatever the Cards sell us in the following weeks. He is out for a little while or maybe a month.  We can whine all day about that but it is a product of the game and hits many pitchers in baseball.  The biggest concern is how the team rolls with it.  The team has inserted Mitchell Boggs as the interim closer.  Here is why I don’t like that move.  Boggs is an excellent setup man.  He led the league in holds in 2012 and put up outstanding numbers.  Along with Motte and a late addition in Edward Mujica, he helped slam the door on NL teams in the last part of 2012.  He has found his niche after starting, relieving, closing, relieving, and finally setting up.   Leave him there.  He is only going to go back there once Motte returns, which he will in May. Why mess with him again?  Let’s not McClellanize poor Mitchell Boggs and shift him around in different roles.  Why not let Trevor Rosenthal, the floating cannon armed rookie get a shot at closing?  Are the Cards afraid he would be too fucking good to remove when Motte returned.  I have digested all the hype on Rosenthal and believe in the kid.  He has a deadly array of pitches, ranging from a 101 mph fastball to a 80 mph changeup.   He has lights out stuff.  Let him close for a month.  What can be lost?  Nothing.  You wouldn’t lose any momentum or fool anyone with a change of roles.  Rosenthal still hasn’t been completely exposed to the entire National League.   He is a little secret in a way and that works in our favor if you ask me.  Once again let me state that I like Mitchell Boggs and think he is a high quality setup guy.  Why change that?  Let Rosenthal close.  He is a roving young gun right now, without a role on the team and resurfacing in different areas.  He is perfect for the temporary closer assignment.  Let’s not let the ninth inning turn into a crime scene again like did right for seasons upon seasons between the demise of Izzy, the conversion of Wainwright to the bloom and the doom of Ryan Franklin.   Let’s keep it strong and load another bullet into the chamber for those final three outs.  Just my thoughts.  I am sure Boggs will close about 80 percent of the games he tries to save.
The Endurance of the Cardinals 
2013 hasn’t been kind to the Cards.  They didn’t even stretch out in camp before Chris “Wyatt Earp” Carpenter called in severely sick and told the team his right arm was useless due to a reemerging nerve damage issue.   They lost their rock before spring.   Then, our worst fears about Rafael Furcal’s condition came true and he will be out with Tommy John Surgery.   Before a week of games were played, the Cards lost 19 million in salary with two players hitting the deck.  A top rotation arm and a starting shortstop.   Mike Matheny hurt his back and required surgery.  He missed a week but I hear he is so tough they didn’t even put him to sleep during the operation.  Man is tough as nails unless he is holding a knife.  Anyway, the Cards have seen David Freese and Carlos Beltran miss time due to minor injuries.   Motte just went down with a elbow problem.  They cut Ronny Cedeno because he really isn’t that good.   The Cards have lost three huge pieces and a real game hasn’t been played yet.  However, this team rolls on in part due to great strategy and brains from its coaches and general manager and owner.   The Cards have the amazing ability to take punches, barely raise their payroll and contend for the season while building for the future.  They have built an arsenal of young pitching talent and fielded young players in their lineup(Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Yadi Molina, Freese, Matt Carpenter, Pete Kozma, Matt Adams, Motte, Boggs, Rosenthal) while bringing in consistent offensive producers like Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran.  They can take a loss like Adam Wainwright in the spring of 2011 and turn around and win a championship.  They can enlist 14 starting pitchers and lose a player to death and still make it to the NLCS like they did in 2002.  They can lose Carpenter, Berkman, and Furcal in 2012 and come within a win of the World Series.  This is what the Cardinals do in a time of dismay and sudden loss.  They roll with it, take the hits and keep on moving forward.  It brings to mind the Rocky Balboa speech to his kid in the sixth and last installment of the movie series.  Outside his restaurant, Rocky tells his son why he must step back into the ring and fight the young champion and how there’s nothing embarrassing about never giving up or crying about circumstance.  You win in life by taking the hits and moving forward at the same time.  The St. Louis Cardinals DO THAT every single year.  They contend, fight, scratch, claw and kick their way to wins and a playoff berth.  They don’t go down easy or complain about losing a vital piece of their team.  They aren’t built that way.  Credit La Russa with that.  Credit Mozelaik and Matheny and the coaching staff with that.  It’s not in their DNA to fold up and go home.  These Cardinals fight and I can tell you the Cincinnati Reds may be favored to win the Central but it won’t come easy because the Cards have a deep roster of young talent and money to spare.  In baseball, nothing is set in stone and you never know what can happen.  That’s what makes it great and what makes the Cardinals an efficient and respected franchise.  You know why the Cards are hated around the league?  They win every year or die trying.
The Blues Riddle Continues
They play a few road games, win one and lose two and return home.   What can be said about this team that hasn’t already been debated over and over again?  They always seem to sit on the brink of greatness before muddling backwards.   It’s a difficult and disappointing habit for a player but also exhausting and confounding to a fan.   The Blues take huge steps forward with a great home stand against good teams and fall flat against shitty teams on the road.  Last night they seem to be coming back in Calgary and then Jarome Iginla somehow sneaks one by Jaro Halak to seal the game.   Let me run off on my Halak rant now and you can hate me later.  HE ISN’T A #1 GOALTENDER.  He has had solid seasons as a Blue but never has completely taken the #1 job.  He gives up a ton of soft goals and while it is not all his fault, the team doesn’t seem to play as strong for him as they do for Jake Allen, who is 8-2 and needs to be in net more often than not.  At this point in the season, you have to forget about who makes more money or who was supposed to lead in goal and go with the hot hand, which is still Allen.   Iginla’s goal needed to be stopped.  The defenseman made a great play and blocked the big bodied winger from getting a clear shot but somehow Iginla snuck it past Halak.   He can’t give up those type of goals at that particular time.  It just can’t happen!  He wasn’t the only reason the Blues lost but he was a huge factor.   He gets a shutout the other night in Edmonton because he faced only 19 shots and didn’t have to save the game.  When put on the pedestal of carrying this team in a crucial stretch, Halak has failed.  I don’t think he is a #1 goalie.  At least not in St. Louis.
More Blues Stuff
Chris Stewart is having a bounce back season and also is playing for a long term contract.  He lost weight, got into shape, and has been dominating at times this season and really turning it on as of late.   It is no fluke but there is a narrative here.  Stewart is playing for a contract and if he completes the season red hot, the Blues should give it to him.  We can only hope he keeps up the production once he is taken care of.   T.J. Oshie has reached his ceiling.   Sure, he rebounded last night from coughing up the puck which led to a Flames goal by scoring a goal himself and assisting on another, but let’s face it the kid is wearing out our patience and isn’t wooing me anymore.  David Perron and Patrik Berglund have more talent and upside and unfortunately shorter term deals in place.   If a team wants to take on Oshie’s contract I say pull the trigger.   I am sure there is a few reasons to keep him but to me he has exorcised his potential.  I know there is a reason for it but I don’t like seeing Ryan Reaves sit down for a single game.  He changes the way the other team plays and adds a dimension out there.   David Backes isn’t a bad captain but what happened to his production this season?   Can someone tell Perron it’s okay to go to the net and finish.    When will Brian Elliot be freed up and traded?  There are no starts for him here.  Between Halak battling for starts and Allen making the job his own, Elliot is up the creek without a boat right now.  Matt D’Agostini was relieved of his duties last week.   This week Elliot will be traded for next to nothing if a team takes on his 2013-2014 contract.  
 
Great Television Leaves Great Reward
There’s something sexy about getting invested in a show late.  You donate the time to get caught up, throwing yourself into a sea of characters and stories that have been playing for a couple years.   Gameo of Thrones lingered in my internal queue for months.  When would I stop, sit, and digest the 20 hours of epic medieval madness of kings, queens, sons, daughters and their battle over the thrones?  Well, that time came on Saturday and I am 5 hours in and fully engrossed in the wonderful world of George Martin(who wrote the novels) and David Benioff’s writing of the episodes.   This series is a hypnotic blend of great character actor showcases, fine storytelling, juicy twists and a list of characters that you can’t put your thumb on.   The dialogue is fantastic and really pulls you in.  A mother telling their son the immortal words of a Macbeth like Queen(“Anyone Who Isn’t Us Is Our Enemy”) or a king telling his son that a man who gives out a death sentence needs to do the killing himself.   Heavy material that is handled so well by a cast that includes Sean Bean, Lena Headley, Emilia Clarke, Jason Momoa, Peter Dinklage, Aiden Gillen, and Mark Addy.  The show adds an intriguing blend of unpredictable behavior, breathtaking visuals, a sweeping score and a promise of blood and nudity to amp up the watchable factor.  Game of Thrones is very similar to another HBO series, Rome, only here the events come from a collection of books.   I am ready for more and if you haven’t dipped in yet, I strongly suggest you do.  
 
Film-Addict Hits Comic Con in STL
This past weekend, my website got a ton of exposure and new fans at the downtown Wizard World Comic Con, where the comic and movie geeks come out in full force and support their crushes.   Artists, actors, comic book dressed heroes and villains alike filled the Convention Center and Film-Addict had a table where people could come by, sign up for the site, get free posters and t-shirts and learn more about us.   Eric Moore, my film-addict partner, spent the entire weekend there while daddy duty kept me from only spending an evening there.  From my two hours I can tell you that this is the best way for a small time business/enterprise to get legs underneath their passions.   Spread it to the masses, interact with strangers and tell them why your site is the best.  Attach a face to the content.  It was a huge success and may finally break down the wall of advertising and marketing we have been working towards.  
 
BRMC Album Hits
The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have flown coolly beneath the radar for close to 15 years now and produced 6 albums.  They make music when they want to and not when a label demands tunes to meet a quota.  It’s true rock n’ roll and musicianship when a band has the freedom to do what they please creatively.  Their latest album, Specter At The Feast, is a collection alternative rock mixed with real rock and blues rock which manifests itself into an experience that satisfies the soul when its done.  It’s hard to label their music.   Rock lives inside it but takes different shapes.  The lead singer carries the longing howl of a punk rocker with the blues but the guitars and scale of their songs suggest something more.  Their best trait is the ability to change speeds, going from loud rocker to slow rock ballads and the gift here is real songwriting and storytelling.   A few years ago the lead singer’s dad, who was a member of the band, had a heart attack and died backstage at a show.   The experience nearly crippled the band and forced them to realign themselves in their careers.  Time off was in order and a future wasn’t certain.   However, the greatest kind of medicine for a rock n’ roll band is the ability to walk into a studio and pour your heart into a microphone with an instrument in your hands.  That’s what Robert Been, Peter Hayes, Leah Shapiro Nick Jago, and Michael Keating did with this record.  The sound reflects the emotion and power behind the tunes.  The songs contain a lifeform inside every hook and beat to go with every word.   This is real music people.  The goods.  Give it a listen and find out what it’s like.
 
Chronicles of Vinny
My son is 18 months old and off the charts in height and weight.  He says full words now, gets more intuitive by the hour and shows the raw emotion of a toddler with the growing perceptions of a boy.   He smiles, cries, and throws his weight around.   He never fails to exhaust me, scare me with his physical leaps or brighten up a day with one loud laugh.   I can’t tell you how much better he is than other kids his age or how advanced he is because I don’t spend enough time around other kids and don’t want to get bogged down in the statistics of where he needs to be.  All I can tell you is my wife and I are raising a fine young man.  He wants to do more and learn more.  He never stops looking.   It’s a great walk of life to be a dad.  What happens next?
 
That’s the question and the end here.  Thanks for listening.  I am off for house duty and film-addict chores.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Buffa

Mozart Recording Session

There’s talking and then there is definitive statements.  I only wager the latter when I take to the keyboard for our chats.   Stay tuned and strap in because my words are only meant to hook you and keep you in place.  

 
The Rams signed Jake Long.  I really like this signing for many reasons.  First, the Rams got Long for their money and not his.  This reminds me of John Mozelaik’s rather beautiful defeat of Scott Boras at the negotiating table years ago when they brokered a deal for Matt Holliday.   Boras wanted serious Mark Teixera 22 million a year dough.  Mozelaik wanted to give 17-18 million.  In the end, the deal was 8 years and around 17 million per year.  Keep in mind Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford got very dumb money a short time later(Teixera money).  I go into this comparison so deeply because the Rams signed Long for 9 million a year over 4 years when he wanted 11-12 million per season.   Long is a beast when healthy and a premier left tackle who will beef up the Rams defense of Sam Bradford.   The long Bradford stays on his feet the better and Long on the left side with Roger Saffold on the right and Scott Wells in the middle works in our favor.  Long is a big sign and a focus of the offseason approach from Fisher and Snead.   They signed Jared Bell and now Long.  They let go of injury liability Danny Amendola and freed the shackles of Steven Jackson.  They didn’t indulge in Miami’s silly chase of Brandon Gibson.  They have a lot of top draft picks and may pull in a wide receiver or safety.   I suggest making a nice offer to Giants WR Victor Cruz and former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.  Just saying.
 
The Cardinals are moving closer to the season and the questions that remain are depth issues.   Does Matt Adams make the roster or not?  How many starts does Pete Kozma get at short before Mozelaik pulls off a late deal for a SS?  Who wins the 5th spot in the rotation?  My money is on Joe Kelly now that the coaching staff is taking its time.   Shelby Miller will either be a long reliever or a Memphis starter until Jake Westbrook blows a hammy or Jaime Garcia’s shoulder explodes.  Is Mike Matheny a reincarnation of Cool Hand Luke or just a tough dude?  Can Jon Jay get hits on the road and resist crashing into the outfield wall?  Does David Freese play more than 130 games?  How many starts does Matt Carpenter get at second base with his batting average hovering around .330 in May?  Back off Daniel Descalso.  This lineup needs hits and a big bat.  Secure the defensive bench spot.  What year does Allen Craig have with a 5 year cushion under him now?  What does Adam Wainwright do without a contract? Does Matt Holliday cut the shit and have that breakout year we have been waiting on or continue to produce just solid production?  What stops the Cards from having the best 7-8-9 inning gas station squad in Rosenthal, Boggs and Motte?  Last but not least, does Carlos Beltran avoid the Lance Berkman injury bug in his second year as a Card.   Questions of curiosity and depth.  It’s that time of year.
The Blues made a breakthrough last week.  They swept their homestand, beat three decent to great teams and put their foot back in the Not Fucking Around Crew ring.  When this team is right, they are fucking dynamic and hard to outlast.  They may get outplayed on the overall quality of play front(winning faceoffs, forecheck) but looking at the scoreboard is the best measure of any team and the Blues have won 5 of 6, including a pair of recent overtime triumphs.   The last involved a beautiful give and go between Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Stewart.    Stewie is on fire as of late, scoring 7 goals and assisting on 7 goals in his last 7 games.  He earned player of the week honors.   The man is a 20 pounds lighter version of his previous devilishly talented self.  He has the hands of baby jesus and made Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller look like chopped meat in net in sealing the win on Saturday.  The team is currently at fourth in the conference and plays Vancover tomorrow with the returning services of Andy McDonald.  All the injured parties are returning to the pack as we speak, which should only strengthen the team.   What eats at me is the painful fact this team will let us down again?  It’s a sad fact and one that I hope is wrong.
If you need a reason to get hooked on Banshee, watch this breathtaking fight scene from the show’s first season, which concluded in blazing fashion on Friday night with Season 2 to begin filming shortly.  I call this The Albino VS. Lucas Hood.  Brutal is the word here.
 
It’s amazing how a critic like myself can have second thoughts on a film a few days after he posts his review.   There are movies I am sure about and then there are others that I jump too quick on or against.  The latest example is The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  I liked it, laughed a decent amount and gave it 3/5.   Days later, I am thinking about those parts and not holding the same framework.   It’s not that I think it is bad but is it worth seeing in theaters?  I am not sure.  I am going to start taking a little time before I post my reviews.  Unless it’s instant love or hate.  This official film critic deal is still new to me.  There was a time where I could give two different reviews of a movie to two different people.  Now that is hard to accomplish.  I have a reputation to uphold.
 
Twitter is opening more doors for my writing and website.  Tonight, just by chance I am engaging in a conversation with Banshee co-stars Antony Starr and Hoon Lee about who is better looking(no homosexual overtones, just fun shit) and who is tougher on the show.  Other Banshee fans on twitter are getting in on it and the conversation reaches new levels of insanity.  It’s just a testament to how well this social site connects the random people.  Facebook is dying.  Twitter is growing.  This is why.  True connection.  People don’t use Facebook for serious communication anymore.  Twitter is a more engaging and challenging practice.  I have more fun and get more electric on there.  The key is using creative and popular hash tags after your words.  I have coined hash tags like “Manshee”, “FansheeArmy” and more common ones like “TrueGrit” or “STLCardsObsessive”.   That way, people who don’t follow me but use the hash tag see it and we connect.  More common ones are team names like #STLCards or #STLBlues.   It’s not for everyone but if you have a need to inform and crave exposure get on there and get to work.
 
Started work at Bommarito.  Without getting too excited I can tell you this job is smoother, sharper and less taxing on the nerves than my last two jobs.  Bommarito Wines is a highly efficient company that has been around for decades.  The owners, Anthony Bommarito Jr. and Sr. are on the floor daily and talk with the workers and give them advice.  It’s a personable working environment.  Everybody doesn’t love their job but nobody hates it.  It’s not a perfect gig but I left it not feeling pissed, stressed or needing alcohol through an IV on my car ride home.  It’s only been one day but I can tell you this job will do just fine for now while I plan world domination with Film-Addict.
 
Speaking of my website, we have a table at the Convention Center this weekend for the Wizards World STL Comic Con.  It’s our first huge chance at exposure and marketing.  We have merchandise, posters, t-shirts to giveaway and all people have to do is sign up and register.  If you have time, come on down.  Big time for my site to get thrown out of the nest and fly a little.
 
Sam Bradford’s time is now.  Now that Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola are gone, this Rams team belongs to Bradford.  Coming into his fourth year as a pro, Bradford has to make it happen this year with or without new weapons.   In the NFL, you are expected to win with less than great talent.   Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have done it their entire career.  Bradford isn’t expected to play up to their caliber but sooner or later the kid has to break the youth bread and become a better team commanding passer.   He has gotten three years to get bumped, bruised and mentored by older players.   He has a solid foundation in the coaching staff for the first time in his career.   Bradford has zero excuses to fail.   If the Rams acquire OL Jake Long this week, Bradford’s job may get a lot easier.   Older and less mobile Long is better than Roger Saffold at full strength.   With more protection, Bradford’s job gets easier.  He’ll get more time to find a target and can set himself.  Unless the Rams acquire a big high profile RB or WR, this team is Sam’s team.  Play him the Herb Brooks speech in the USA-Russia title game.   “This is your time!”  The time is now for Bradford to step up.  He is making elite QB money now and has to start playing like one.  He has showed improvement but I want more.  I want this kid to dominate games.  If he can, this team is a threat and can steal a wild card spot.  If he is not, the Rams are easily a 6-10 team. 
 
I am glad I am one of the few people from my generation that doesn’t have to drink in order to have a good time.  If I got a dollar for every FB post on my timeline about “being drunk and feeling good”, I wouldn’t have to work.   It’s quite pathetic to witness.  People seeing alcohol as some form of drug needed to relax and lose themselves.  I can go hang out with my dad, have a good cup of coffee, a beer or two, a fine cigar and talk about everything from beautiful women to life and not get drunk doing it.  It’s something that I am proud of.  There is no need to GET DRUNK and act obnoxious.  I’m sure Ill get plenty of sneers and snide remarks for this post but damn it this had to be posted.  I see too much of it ending in pain, tragedy and regret.  Trying to raise a kid in this mad world is harder than I thought.  As a parent you have to play defense for your kid to all the human engineered pollution that goes on every day. Just do me a favor and remember.  Alcohol isn’t required to have a good time.  End of rant.
 
T.J. Oshie is hurt again and I am not sure how much more time he will get on this team of burgeoning young talent.   With new stars like Vlady Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz making big time contributions how much more time does the fan favorite get.   I’ve said it once and will say it again.  David Perron produces with his stick and Oshie doesn’t do it enough.   You give and you take.   All I see TJ doing is taking steps back and getting hurt.   If he were healthy I would call him trade bait.   Something has to give there.
 
Example of St. Louis weather.  82 degrees on Thursday.  39 degrees on Saturday morning for my St. Pats run downtown.   What a smoky heaping pile of bullshit.  This is why my knees are killing me.  Changing weather kills your bones.   It’s just brutal.  It’s a good thing I have sex, coffee and bacon to block out most of the pain.  
 
And with that note, I am gone.  
 
Something to remember first.  If you love good old fashioned Rock N’ Roll music, buy the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s album tomorrow, Specter At The Feast. They are real rockers and used this album as a healing process after the lead singer’s dad died backstage at a show in 2010. True storytelling power going on here.
 
If you want a truly great film you will rent either Rust and Bone or The Intouchables on DVD today, both of which received a perfect 5/5 review from me in 2012.   
 
That’s all there is to tell.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.
 
Sincerely without warning,
 
Dan L. Buffa
(The L is for my grandfather Lawrence, a writer for an old retired paper in St. Louis.   I believe he is where I got my writing ambitions and skill set from.  He was a great man.  He gave my dad hell for dating my mother, but was strong and good to his grandchildren.  He is missed.)
 

Quick Jolt of Thought

Here we go again…back into the fray.   I truly never leave this area.   Take 7 starts now. 

 

The Blues open a three game homestand tonight against San Jose.  All year, they have had an inability to win consistently at home.  That’s not the ideal situation for a playoff team.   Jason Arnott wasn’t signed because Alex Steen and Andy McDonald are coming back.  My question is…how long do you keep three goalies in a playoff push?  Brian Elliot can’t afford to hold a therapy session on the ice right now.  His head is gone and won’t be back.   A relief appearance is his only hope. 

(Update: The Blues beat the Sharks 4-2 on home ice and start it off right.  They get a lucky skate bounce from David Perron, a couple goals from Chris Stewart(rebounding nicely from a porous 2011-2012 season) and another solid performance from Jake Allen.   The kid isn’t perfect but is 6-1 and has a save percentage of 95 percent.  Its going to be hard to sit him when he is producing those kind of results.)

 

If it is true the Rams are letting Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola go along with Quentin Mekkel(3 million), there must be money to at least pursue a free agent wide receiver.  Either use the cash or dangle the draft picks.    The Rams probably can’t afford to fix both areas so seal up one before the season starts.   A backfield of Darryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead won’t spark fear in the hearts of any defense.  Did you see the Rams offense without Amendola in 2011 and 2012?  Few receivers could get space or break away from a defender.    Chris Givens and Brian Quick are talented young players but how will Givens do without a slot genius like Danny and can Quick get more snaps?  If you don’t shore up an area and power up an offense, this team will take a step back.   The defense is strong but will break under the pressure of a 3 and out offense.   Sam Bradford needs weapons.  Proven weapons to throw to.  He can also use a backup.  The Rams are facing a huge test this summer.  The 49ers and Seahawks, the best two teams in the NFC in 2012, went out and acquired premium proven receivers yesterday.   What will the Rams do?   They HAVE to react.  If not, you suffer a recession.   Jeff Fisher and Les Snead want to build the team out from under with drafted talent and young core players.  That’s great.  Every team needs a few threats on the field.   On offense, the Rams may have none in 2013.   Just saying.  Where is the money going on this team?  You can draft safeties and offensive lineman in the middle to late rounds.  The time to put your hands on the free agent table is now. 

 

With Ty Wiggington on the bench and acting as your primary corner infield backup, I don’t see a lot of starts for young husky slugger Matt Adams.  The kid is white hot down in Jupiter right now, but can you afford to put him on the roster to fill a glorified bench spot at this stage in his career?  My vote, right now, is no.   Wiggington will be backing up Craig and Freese with help from Descalso and Matt Carpenter, who looks to get a ton of reps at 2nd base.  Adams needs to play every day and build his stamina and stay ready.  If Freese or Craig goes down, he gets the call.   I am also a member of the camp that thinks the Ty Wiggington signing was marginally acceptable and I do not like the 2 year 4 million dollar term.  With Adams, Descalso and Craig in play, Ty wasn’t really needed.  He hasn’t hit well in four years.   Just putting it out there.

 

Twitter continues to be  valuable tool for me and my website.  Along with being in contact with the entire Banshee cast, I also talk to sports and film fans on there and connect with people I’ve never met.  I can count Bernie Miklasz as a follower as well after bonding over cigars last week.   I am in the Twitter cause deep down.  It’s not for everybody but for me its EXPOSURE for my writing and website as well as a chance to, you got it, connect.  I also find the challenge of 140 character thoughts to be harder than it seems.  Lots of quality opportunity on Twitter if you like the attention and exposure.

 

I haven’t seen a great film yet in 2013.   I have seen crap(Identity Theft), DVD worthy films(Dead Man Down), and a few quality films(Snitch, Side Effects) along with my preferred blend of 1980s action that can’t be considered more than decent material(Sly, Arnold and Bruce’s latest adventures).   I’m looking for a film to blow me away.  One that makes me laugh out loud works as well.  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone may be funny tonight or it may miss the mark.  With a cast including Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde and James Gandolfini, my hopes are slightly off the floor.  Still, I haven’t been blown away or really thrilled with a movie in theaters.  The Place beyond the Pines, with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, about the intertwining lives of a cop and a thief, comes out in 2 weeks and may be that power packed preferred dose of cinema I have been waiting for.  Until then, happy hunting for this guy at the movies.

Update-Burt Wonderstone was very funny and Steve Carell anchored the whole thing.  A nice little ode to the tough aging process of performers.

I will say Perks of Being a Wallflower, on DVD right now, was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.   That is worth checking out.   I went all in.   Bought it the next day and now own the wickedly sharp soundtrack.   Must see.

 

The Following just went to a whole new level with its episode last night.   An effective thriller about a serial killer inspiring people to follow his code and build an army got the much needed jolt of chills in its latest hour with the killer, played by a wickedly sinister and talented James Purefoy, dispatching one of his followers after the man failed twice on a mission.  It was the background music, the slow buildup and the weapon of choice(a big knife) that completed the climax to the episode.   Kevin Bacon and Purefoy are the primary protagonist/antagonist duo of the show, but the rest of the characters are mysterious and the writers complement that well.   The shocking deaths happen every hour and the drama is building.   How many more will die before Bacon’s FBI agent tracks down killer Joe again?  The characters have their quirks and backgrounds colored in shades of grey and the series improves every week but last night the first season was officially set in motion.  I stated that when Purefoy’s Joe got out of prison and fully engaged with Bacon’s cop, Ryan Hardy instead of being locked up in a jail cell, the show would take off.  It did.  Shit got real and quick!

 

Time to go back to life.  Thanks for reading.

Mad Man Ranter Diary

Here’s a dose of what I think.  When the work on my website, Film-Addict.com, is done and the time for me to expand my mind and fire off shots at the more general topics comes to mind, I come here.   If you care to read, scroll or scan, I appreciate the eyes.  A writer is only as good as his audience’s analysis.

The Rams Choose to Part Ways with Their Free Agents
There’s a good chance Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola won’t be Rams this year.   There’s an even greater chance Brandon Gibson won’t be a Ram.   Safety Quentin Mikkel was released today.   If you are wondering what is happening and why, let me give you an idea.   The Rams are shedding payroll and preparing to utilize their draft and free agent options.   Jackson is an underrated back who has put up good numbers amid conditions that mirror the fellow soldiers of General Custard’s clan.  Jackson has worked with 8 offensive coordinators and 6 head coaches.  He will move on to a contender and I am happy for him.   Amendola is highly effective in this offense but also has a hard time staying healthy.   He missed significant portions of the 2011 and 2012 seasons due to shoulder injuries.   He is like a miniature version of Matt Holliday.  He plays the game as hard as anyone and sometimes his body talks back.
Amendola wants a lot of money and the Rams apparently have told him no.  At first, I was mad and then I understood the position.   Gibson will never be a #2 receiver in the NFL.  He isn’t consistent enough and doesn’t have breakaway speed.   Mekkel was going to make 3 million and the Rams are going to draft a safety to start in his spot.  Jeff Fisher’s Rams are trying to stay young and that is fine because I trust him and GM Les Snead after seeing their dramatic change in personnel and performance this past season.   They are unloading a lot of talent and hoping to retain, regain or reacquire it in another form.   The Rams will make a run at Michael Turner in free agency, even though he is getting older like Jackson and is the same style of RB but could have more upside.  They can also draft a running back with one of their 4 picks in the first two rounds.  The same goes for the wide receiver area, a place where the Rams can always use a boost.  Greg Jennings and Victor Cruz are free agents, but it’s hard to think the Rams will make a serious play for their services with the price tag looking shiny and high.
The Rams don’t have as much cap space as they will going into the 2014 season, so they will have to be crafty.  They can’t afford to take a step back after engaging their fan base in a reinvention this past winter.   The Rams were a competitor in the playoff picture until late and can’t turn into an embarrassment.   As STL Post Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz pointed out, the Rams can cut veterans as long as they replace the production.   Reallocation of funds is a part of the sports business but a drop in play can’t be tolerated.  Sure, the Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin today and the 49ers received Anjuan Boldin in trades, but the Rams just have to react, sign with intent and draft smart.  A team’s quality control depends on the men making the moves above the field.  Who comes in and replaces the departing talent.  The pillars are there.   Sam Bradford, Chris Long and James Lauranitis.  The WR corps has young guns like Brian Quick and Chris Givens.  The Running Back core can’t be led by Darryl Richardson but Isiah Pead may get a shot.   Possibilities are endless for the team and they have to keep moving forward.  They hung with their NFC championship game division contenders in 2012, but have to stay in route.  2013 summer session will be interesting.
The Cards Sign Allen Craig and Look to Lock Down Rotation
A few things about the Cards.   They signed first basemen slugger Allen Craig to a 5 year, 31 million dollar deal.  I really like the deal.  Craig gets his hurt more than any GM would like but swings a big stick and could put up All Star numbers for under 7 million a season.  The Cards weren’t going to let him explode with a monster season and pay him 10 million a season.  John Mozelaik didn’t waste any time locking up the cornerstone first basemen.  Craig made a serious adjustment at  the plate 2 years ago, shortening his swing and staying back longer in the box, and has turned into a beast.  Who puts up better numbers and plays more games in 2013 and 2014?  Craig or Albert Pujols?  Don’t answer too quick.
The fifth spot in the rotation was supposed to be shaping up by today but the Cards are giving Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly one more round of action on Thursday to see what is in store.   It’s coming up to the middle of March and the starter who gets the spot needs the innings going into the end of spring training so a decision has to be made.  It was my impression that Miller won it with a better outing last Thursday, but Kelly gets one more chance to make a run for a piece of the starters pie.   Personally, while its fitting for a young starter to go through a year in the bullpen, Miller has always been groomed to be a starter and looks better there instead of coming out of the pen.  Kelly proved to be a reliable piece in both areas in 2012.  I see Miller winning the spot.
Mike Matheny is having back surgery this week and talks about it like it’s a dentist appointment.  Will they even knock him out?  The man is tough as nails.
Anybody who thought I was giving Mo and his team too much credit after my blogs last week about Furcal were mistaken.  I am mad at this team for not recommending surgery for a partially torn ligament in August when it occurred.   Reporters and team reps tell us it wasn’t an option then or in November and I regress with my deep knowledge of human anatomy and physiology.  A ligament rarely repairs itself with rest, especially given an advanced age.  He rested it, tested it and tore it.  Now in order to save his career, Furcal wants to have surgery. I think this was an unfortunate miss by the Cards and resulted in a tough situation for the suits who gambled and lost.   Maybe I juggled my words a little but here I won’t.  The Cards let Furcal have a say in his future and didn’t press for surgery at a time when a return to action was possible and a partially torn ligament could have been fixed before hurt any further.  I said it was unfortunate because then Mo’s hands were tied in finding a more suitable replacement for Furcal.   He also didn’t want to give up prospects in a trade.  He messed up and he knows it when he looks at the average Ronny Cedeno turning double plays.   Hopefully, Pete Kozma slugs enough to get us to the trading deadline.
Real baseball is rushing upon our shores fans.  I am telling you.   April will be here before we know it and the obsession will begin.   I am still not sure I am ready.
One thing is locked and loaded with this team.  The bullpen’s right side.   Trevor Rosenthal returned to the pen and continued throwing white hot 100 mph moving heat over the weekend.   He has to anchor the 7th inning this season when the team has a lead.  He is also your strikeout pitcher in a close game.  Reliable weapon to have.
The Blues Come Home
They made a push on the road and came up with an acceptable 2-3 result.  They had an impressive 6-3 win over Phoenix on Thursday, came back and beat the Sharks in Saturday and blew a late lead in Anaheim to a high scoring team last night and lost.   This team is looking better with Jake Allen and Jaroslav Halak in net and the offense scoring plenty of goals but the defense continues to break down and they seem to take stretches of play off.   There are too many times when the defense can’t clear the puck and the team gets too many shots at our net.  Wide open looks and shots through traffic.   I will stand here and say Jake Allen needs to start the majority of the games because he is the hot hand.  At this point, with 23 games left, it doesn’t matter who makes more money or holds the experience.   Whoever is stopping shots and inspiring the right play in front of him needs to be in net.  Which means there are few to none for Brian Elliot, who carries the confidence of a recovering alcoholic locked in the cold section of Friar Tuck’s right now.  Elliot can’t take too many starts to find himself. I believe, as he did last year, Hitch will give Halak a good chance to win the spot but in my mind Allen is the white hot rookie who the team is ready to get behind.  Make your excuses.  Those are my thoughts.  The team comes home for three games and can’t afford to lose either of them.  They have 28 points and there is a log jam at the 7-8-9 ranking area in the conference standings.   Which means 5 teams have 28 points and a loss or two could sink one of those teams.  Put up or shut up time is here so it would be nice if the Not Fucking Around Crew would show up tomorrow night.
Blunt Rants Of The Week
I hate being asked why I am tired.   It’s a silly fucking question for any person.   It seems older people think that younger people should never be tired.  This is why they are called senile and useless.   Older people are just jealous they can’t do the things the younger bodies still can.   I get told this every day when I yawn or simply look tired.   Here is what I do every day.   I go to work at 545 in the morning, sometimes without coffee if I don’t get up soon enough.   I work in a dock area, doing physical labor and am required to assist many areas with my skills.  This means providing production with skids and boxes.  Unloading and loading trucks.  Driving the company truck across the street.   Wrapping skids for outbound orders.   Putting away stock.  It’s a body buster.  I then go to the gym after work at least 3 times a week.  I work out and don’t TALK.   I then go from there to get my kid at daycare.  I get him home, feed him, play with him, bathe him, and get him into bed.  It’s nearly 8pm.  Then, I may do some writing or film-addict work.   Wife gets home.   Chat, dinner and a TV show or two.  I may not go to bed until midnight because I also need to take some solo time for myself and re calibrate.   The thing starts over the next day.  Granted, I am starting a new job next week and this changes but its still a full time job and other things.  I work full time, have an 18 month old, seek a life, try to be a good husband, do web work and write for my site, write more on the side, work out and watch some quality TV while secretly learning how to cook and doing house chores.   THERE IS NO BREAK for a dad and active participant of life.  I yawn because I am fucking tired and human.  I really hate this question.
Here’s something else I hate.  People who complain about their jobs.  Every day I hear this bullshit from men and women alike.   Here’s a clue.  If you don’t like your job, QUIT.  If you can’t, find a way or stop whining.  It gets old to another person really quick.   Do it at home around your family who is required by law to listen to you complain.  Don’t do it around fellow hopeless workers.  The painful part of humanity is the freedom of speech.  Everyone shouldn’t get this right if they are going to abuse it.  Stop complaining.  Here’s an example.  I didn’t like the way my workplace is changing and the company is evolving.  I see a lot of distress and disorganization.  I see turmoil ahead.  I don’t like it here.  What I did was sought out another job, found one, accepted it and changed my life.  I am leaving one job for another this next week.  I didn’t like where I was at and instead of whining about it like a nerdy high school slab of neurotic meat spits shit about a C grade on a paper, I went out and changed things.   That is how real tough people get shit done.  End of story.
IF YOU DON”T LIKE YOUR LIFE THEN CHANGE IT.  End of session.  That will be no charge.  Just act on it.
If only politics today had Abe Lincoln.   When Lincoln comes out on DVD this month, watch it.  A great film with true power.   Steven Spielberg carved out a 4 month chunk of Lincoln’s life and put it inside a bullet casing and fired it at your head this past winter.  At the end of his life, Lincoln gave his soul to the future and knew full well he would die for it.   In order to abolish slavery with an amendment, he prolonged a war and that made certain people mad.  A book called Team of Rivals explains all this well.  The movie is more exciting and features another simply killer Daniel Day Lewis performance.  He gives about 7 speeches in the film but the one that resonates is the one where he is convincing his fellow members of Congress to understand his mission.   He urges them to believe in not just rectifying a present problem but fixing it for ALL TIME.  He united whites and blacks way before Martin Luther King Jr. did.  Things didn’t go as planned and took decades upon decades to settle down but like MLKJ, Lincoln died for this present we work with today.   He stood strong, made decisions and impacted this country with his wise knowledge and strength.  When will another politician ever do that again?  This is another reason I don’t do politics.  Give me a reason.
Random Bits
  • The IHOP Pancake house on Chippewa in St. Louis city is gone.  A childhood establishment was closed months ago but was finally demolished this past week.  It’s amazing when you literally see things change in your life.  A place I went to over 100 times is gone now.  Places like IHOP and Uncle Bill’s are old nostalgic treasures revered more for their personality than food.   That place will be missed.
  • It’s amazing the friendships one can create inside four months at one job.   While the job wasn’t great, I did meet some interesting and good people at my current job.  It’s crazy how many people we pass through in this life.
  • Banshee is concluding its first season this Friday and I am literally on the edge of my seat waiting.  It’s been a long time since I so anxiously waited for a season finale.   This cinemax pleasure pack with a secret depth is coming back next year but what the hell will I do until then?  Probably take up a retiring show like Southland.
  • Flowers for your wife aren’t a bad idea if you can surprise her with them.   Sure, they die, but they are damn pretty for two weeks with the right care and stand as a sign of appreciation.   Saying they are a waste is kind of stupid.   Buying a woman food can be called a waste because she eats it and releases it.  Flowers mean something.   I don’t get them for Rae every month but I do like to surprise her every once in a while.
  • There’s nothing wrong with proposing to a woman at a sporting event.  As long as she is not criminally shy or hates sports.   If not, do it.  Element of surprise is nice but not needed.
  • There’s nothing wrong with standing in front of a charging basketball player getting ready to dunk either, poor Brandon Knight.  At least you tried.
That’s it.  Time to go do more of those things that make people tired.  Thanks for reading if you stayed.
Weary yet blunt and able,
Dan L. Buffa

Zeus’ Rant

Good afternoon friends(or good evening or night, depending on how you roll),

 

Everybody works different shifts and leads a different set of hours.   That’s why we get worried when certain people don’t say a word for weeks or a month.  Dumb selfish people put together a scenario where that one friend is hiding in a corner laughing at the torment he or she is dishing this particular person.  In fact, none of it is probably true(unless you have haters in your life).   This is the way I take it.  Life is busy.  Time flies.  People forget.  I get it.  If you ever think I am wondering about a response to one of these self centered bitching sessions, think again.   I do love feedback of any kind.  Until that reply button is touched, let’s a few quick things said.  

This might rock your facial features or just come off as regular prose.  A stream of consciousness with no particular order.

 

 

The Blues only remedy was to change the goaltender.  Bring up the kid. They Did.  This is the first step.  Believe me.  With 26 games remaining, the best thing this team can do is make a quick dramatic change in a position that affects the entire team.   You defense can’t vastly improve its skills inside a season.  They are who they are.   The goaltender gives the entire team confidence if he can make a save percentage shine better than 16 saves out of 21 shots.  Talking to you Mr. Halak.  Bring up Jake Allen, who showed in a handful of games the future looks bright in net for the team.  A small sample size for sure but this is a short season so you have to go with your strongest weapon.   Brian Elliot is a scared man right now with zero confidence.  He needs a fresh start.   Put him on waivers and let Allen share starts with Jaro, who I have never been convinced is a #1 starter anyway.   Do this or rupture the entire season.  Remember when Manny Legace was put on waivers and Chris Mason’s iron man work for 32 games pushed Blues into playoffs.  This team needs that kind of jolt.  Allen starts tonight.  He played well when Elliot freaked out weeks ago and Halak went down.  The situation is similar now.  Facing the Coyotes tonight, the youngest kid on the ice needs to take the entire game over or at least make a save percentage better than the Blues league worst 83 percent.  That’s it.

 

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if TJ Oshie or David Perron didn’t end the season as a Blue.  They aren’t kids anymore and not that cheap.  Grow up or get out kids.  Oshie takes games off and Perron takes horrible penalties and tries to deke the entire team.  If I had to choose,  Oshie goes.

 

Rafael Furcal is out for the season with a torn ligament.  It’s official after 4 doctors.  He will require Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2013 season.   Now, show me your shocked face.  I am not shocked at all.  I knew this back in September.  He went down with a partially torn ligament and is a long throw making shortstop so damage can reoccur here.   In November, after three months of rest, the ligament was showing improvement.   Of course it did, coming from the unofficial doctor in the room here.   When you don’t work a muscle or put stress on a ligament, magic happens and it improves.   However, when you test it, bad things can happen.  When Furcal tested it this month, he tore it completely.  I believe that.  It makes sense.  At least I want to believe it and digest the fact that the Cards gambled and lost big time here.  Look, I took a flame thrower to them the other night.  Here, let me recount the temptation of the front office when Furcal’s elbow showed improvement in November.   You are paying an aging ballplayer another 7 million dollars to hopefully play in 2013.  You gamble and hope he comes to camp, makes throws, starts games and does well.   The Cardinals seemed to come to camp with few questions and little worry.  That, my die hard fans or casual lookers, was a false impression.  Trouble has surfaced and is sticking around.   This is an unfortunate situation.   The gamble backfired and Furcal tested the elbow and it blew up Wainwright style.   Bye bye 7 million.   I get mad about them doing nothing in the winter and I think, well, who was out there?  Stephen Drew.  Really?  For 9 million dollars, you want to bring him on board.  16 million dollars to a past his prime decent guy and an aging former All Star.   No way.  Trade for the Indians young shortstop or the Rangers solid shortstop.  Sure, if you want to give up at least two young pitching prospects.   Mo didn’t break and stayed with his gamble, all his chips on red.   It didn’t work out.  Now he is stuck with Pete Kozma and some guy I want to call Roger who is really former cub Ronny Cedeno.  Two weeks into camp, and even Mo said on the radio today that the older Ex-Cub isn’t doing well.  Cue the Kozma uprising.  Pete homered today.   Pete is the shortstop.  Remember what he did against the Nationals.   Good.  Remember what he did against the Giants.  Yeah, I know.  Scramble those two together and that is what you get.  A person who needs to overachieve.  Back to the bad gamble.   Along with Furcal going down, Chris Carpenter walks in and says he is done.  Crying while he speaks over the phone.  Toughest man in the world(who has Chuck Norris’ rib in his shoulder somewhere) is breaking down.   This happened a month ago.   You are watching two guys now sit on the bench making a combined 19 million dollars.   Stop, think, slice up the Benjamins and eat up.   Your other ace, Wainwright, is discussing a long term deal with the team that is going up and down depending on the day.  It’s a lot of money and years because other teams went crazy with their ace and your guy is coming off TJ surgery himself.   If you wait and he has an explosive 2013, you are paying him 24 million dollars in 2014.  Sign him now and it may only be 18-20.  What do you do?  Albert 2.0 or a more Yadi Molina type ending?   Also, Carlos Beltran, your 12 million dollar balky kneed outfielder is playing in the World Baseball Classic.  That’s like letting another country borrow a bunch of diamonds for an exhibition and hoping to get them back.   You also have a key piece of your bullpen, Mitchell Boggs, throwing for the USA in the same tournament.  Lots of key pieces around the table.  You have a rotation that will be dominated for young unproven men.  You have a player with 85 year old ankles playing third base.  A guy who fucks up his legs every year at first base.  A center fielder who crashes into walls.  A left fielder who likes to deadlift 500 pounds in season and hurt his back.  A catcher who doesn’t mind collisions at home plate.  A bench that is dominated by young unproven men.  A closer who….has a big beard and pitched very well in 2012(had nothing on my boy Motte there).    Anyway, a supposedly smooth spring has turned into a typical St. Louis Cardinals spring.   Let’s all say it.  FUCK!  Enjoy the rest of the fake games and take your meds now.

 

Keep this in mind.   Trevor Rosenthal is better suited for bullpen.   Imagine a Rosenthal-Boggs-Motte end of game door slam crew.   Deadly for teams.   Our team has pitching to spare and pushing a cannon arm like RosenGAS to 5-6 innings hurts the rotation. Keeping him as a late inning bullet means the starter just needs to give 6 quality innings every night.  Think about it.  Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly are more suited for the rotation than Rosenthal, who carries a deadly offspeed pitch and a 101 mph propane heater that has a little movement to it.  

 

What else?

 

101.1’s The Fast Lane is a decent guilty pleasure radio show.   Randy Karraker is a know it all fossil, Chris Duncan knows his baseball and D’ Marco Farr needs to go off and be fat somewhere else.  He can barely talk football without a huge bias streak entering the room and knows little about baseball or hockey.   He annoys the hell out of me, yet I listen to these three guys every day after work.  Why not give Steve Savard a football show, Duncan a baseball show and Kelly Chase and Tony Twist a hockey show.  All these guys know their sport and aren’t overly bias and are fun to listen to.   Two thugs, a tryout football player and a failed left fielder who owns a ring.  Go with it.

 

The Rams don’t have to resign running back Steven Jackson, but have to either select an impact back in the draft or make a run at Michael Turner.  Sam Bradford can’t take over this offense by himself yet. He isn’t that type of quarterback and the offense isn’t designed around him.   

 

Danny Amendola deserves to get paid.  That man has went from little known slot receiver to the the best slot receiver in the NFC and a reliable if fragile football player.   He is good, tough and the Rams need to figure out a fair balance in a long term deal.  He gets hurt a lot but he is worth the cash.  Without him in the lineup, our offense looked one note and lost.  He is too valuable to let go.  YES, the Rams could use another wide receiver.  A big name.   Will it happen?  NO.  I would like to see Brian Quick given a bigger role along with Chris Givens.  Brendon Gibson is too inconsistent.  Tight end anyone?

 

Dead Man Down is worth seeing for its cast, director and gritty crime thriller story.  This critic hasn’t seen a film in 16 days.   That’s what having a small yet reliable staff can do.  Save you time.   

 

Banshee is awesome and has two hours left on its season.    Doom and gloom will be coming into this week’s episode with the pasts of its two central characters, career criminals turned noble role players, starting to lose their grip on their second lives.   My twitter feed is exploding with material about this show because I can’t stop thinking about it.   

 

Let me frank here.  Justified is still the best show on television.   In it’s fourth season, the lawman series continues to break boundaries and maintain its story and versatility in character development.  Timothy Olyphant and Walter Goggins are the heart and soul.  

 

What else???  Losing my ideas here.  Let’s play 5.

 

Warm weather is making a cameo.  

Baseball games for real start in less than a month. 

The Cardinals can STILL hang with the Reds in my opinion.   Remember.  Pitching is huge in a 162 game season.

The Movies are dead right now.  No REAL killer film yet in 2013.  Normal.  Is Dead Man Down that killer film?  Tomorrow I will know.

This man is starting a new job next on March 18th. Details to come.  

 

Goodnight and good luck,

 

D. Buffa

 

Beethoven’s B-Sides

Greetings friends and readers,

 
The Buffa Blogs will not be sent out of the Gmail account instead of the Hotmail address.  You see, this summer hotmail is being scrapped for Microsoft Outlook and while I have used that email before, I felt it was time to grab hold of the google train and stay on board.  The backup email is now the primary one.   Everybody around me keeps telling me hotmail is for losers and dead.  My response is, hey dumbshits, I have used it for 10 years so I don’t really care what the cool email is.   That is a #1 reason Clint Eastwood calls us the weakest generation ever.   We worry about’s what in and what’s not even when it comes down to emails used.   Pathetic.  Anyway, I digress and get to the main topics.  The Buffa Bullet Round begins now.  (Reason alone to board Google.  The fonts, such as this one, kick the living shit out of the hotmail types).  
 
  • One of my biggest pet peeves in sports is when athletes think they are suddenly medical experts who have full knowledge of the way their body works.   For instance, Rafael Furcal’s situation with the Cardinals.   Back in August, Furcal made a throw from short and partially tore a ligament in his elbow.   Overnight, Furcal turned into a snake charmer or white coat specialist and immediately refused surgery in order to make it back for the last part of the season.  He never came back because the doctors(Cards medical staff included) prescribed rest.   They could have just poured voodoo cream all over the appendage.  Same effect.   The season and playoffs ended and in November, the Cards medical staff, so good at these kind of calls, told a thrilled Furcal that surgery wouldn’t be needed and the healing was underway.    They had no idea that any complications could come up or cause the elbow trouble.  I believe Rafael duped his team and medical staff.   I think the Cards went soft here and didn’t want to demand surgery to an aging vet that they were paying a shit ton of money.  Wait a minute, repeat that last part.  7 million dollars.   Let’s see.  Ligaments don’t just heal.   Give me one example of a player’s elbow getting fully healed in his late 30’s and coming back to play without surgery.  While you look,  I will keep going.  This was a bad call.   On the Cards part, John Mozelaik’s part and Furcal’s part.  His year could be over.  A bone spur has caused continued discomfort in his elbow and he can’t make a throw from shortstop.   Wow.  Whoa! Wow!  I was playing doctor there.  Me and Gene Wilder.  Frankenstein has gotten loose in the Cards medical staff again.  Bernie Miklasz nailed this in today’s column.  How many players does this medical staff fuck with?  Scott Rolen, Mark Mulder, Kyle Lohse, Brad Penny, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday.   Telling us everything is fine and good, keeping the tax payers happy.   
  • Guess what MO?  We aren’t happy.  I am not pleased that nothing was done to provide insurance for a Furcal breakdown in the spring.   Roger Cedeno doesn’t count.  How many Ex-Cubs does this team need to rehabilitate?  Cedeno plays horrible defense and his on base percentage is .290.   I don’t care what he did in 2009.  This is 2013 if you have locked yourself under a rock.  Cedeno sucks and the only good thing is he doesn’t slice his wrists because of it.   Pete Kozma followed 5 years of minor league futility with a whopping 19 RBI at the end of September and into October, helping beat the Nationals.  He then came apart with the rest of the team against the Giants, making 32 errors it seemed like and his bat quieting down promptly.  Kozma deserves a shot over Cedeno but is that a great battle to watch?  A never was against a fizzled late bloomer.  Was Kozma exposed after a certain amount of at bats?  How many games before the rest of the National League spots the former Cub in a shiny red Cards uniform and starts throwing him ungodly sliders?   I am making sense here people.  We all knew(including my 18 month old kid) that Furcal wasn’t going to play.   He tore a ligament.  That requires surgery.  Both my parents work in the medical field.  I know my anatomy and physiology.  Come on.  Stephen Drew wanted playing time and 9 million dollars but the Cards didn’t give it to him because Furcal was healing and making 7 million already.   Two year deals to players like Furcal and Beltran are poisonous promises.   One could argue Mo’s hands were tied with the salary donated to Furcal but something else could have been done.  No, Oscar Taveras can’t play shortstop.   Right now it’s Kozma, Cedeno and Daniel Descalso(not good either).   Stop the Brendan Ryan talk.  He couldn’t hit a pig in the ass with a snow shovel and made plenty of errors to go with his marvelous ones.  Jose Vizcanio is a call away.   These are horrible options.   Sure, the Cardinals can afford to put a lighthitting player at short because of their power elsewhere but this team is very vulnerable to injury.   What if Craig, Holliday or Freese goes down?   What if a big bat or two croaks?   It may just be my cry for a long term shortstop that is eating me here.   I wasn’t blind to the numbers.  Furcal was declining rapidly when he got hurt.   He isn’t the answer even when he is 85 percent healthy.  That is my point.  The Cards didn’t think that far ahead.   Now they are fucked until the trade deadline, where they may be forced to hand over one of their young pitchers not named Lance Lynn or Joe Kelly.  I like our young pitching surplus but I also like a good shortstop who can hit.  For now, my vote is with Kozma based on what he did last fall. He deserves a look and while he isn’t a good option, the kid exists as the most logical one.  
  • I am torn with whether Oscar Taveras will make this club now out of spring.   Sure, he could stay down in Memphis and play everyday but the kid is a special talent and can provide Beltran with rest.  He may also be needed to push Jon Jay, a .300 hitter who gets hurt easily and can’t hit on the road.  Taveras possesses real power and is a threat.  He can’t hide down there for long.  Matt Adams is a good bench bat but he can only play first base.   I say keep them both and have that waiting at the end of games.   Adams and Taveras could provide the Cards with that bench pop along with Matt Carpenter.  However, keeping Taveras down at Memphis to get reps isn’t a bad play either.  The Furcal injury changes things.
  • Lance Lynn may have lost a baby goat’s worth of weight but he still has problem throwing 1-2-3 innings and not giving up the long ball.   Country Twig Mountain Hatch Jones got thinner this winter by shaving his 6 lb beard and eating less fatty foods(simple diet of wheat and hay) but still struggles to find the flow he has from April through May of 2012.   He is someone to watch because if he improves, the trade value only climbs.  Joe Kelly and Rosenthal await behind him.
  • Banshee mention of the day.   It’s a great show, fresh(8 hours in) and is pure entertainment at least.   Suck on that while I keep going.
  • The Following survived tonight by finally putting the baddie James Purefoy out of jail and among his killing buddies.    A faceoff is dry and boring if one half is in jail.   Now that the killer can be matched with Kevin Bacon’s agent, the thrills can really begin.  The twists, turns, shock kills and other ridiculous cable network devices to convince us they are as good as a premium cable network series(still not true) had grown tiresome by last week’s hour.   Now that Bacon and Purefoy can share some more time, their scenes radiate with tension, the show will get better.  Much better.  The story is still golden.   A killer becoming more powerful through a massive following of fans taking up his work.  Dicey news for good guys but makes for great theater.  May the killing carry meaning.
  • Californication and Shameless survive on Showtime by pushing that nervy dirty comedy and in your face nudity with the white hot naughty dialogue to the brink of being overblown and tip toe back into safety.   Each show is anchored by great acting that can deliver dialogue very well.
  • I am reading The Heart and The Fist at the recommendation of a man named Affleck.   A true story about an Oxford grad turned humanitarian turned Navy Seal Eric Greitens or as Affleck refers to him, “Jason Bourne with a PhD.”   So far so good.  The man has saved more people than one can count and put himself in the fray as much as any soldier all at his own request.  Tough as nails.  Old school.  
  • Dead Man Down is my first must see of 2013.  A cold blooded crime thriller starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard as a deadly tripod of revenge fueled anger.   One man lost his wife and kids to a murderer while the woman had her face sliced and diced by the same guy.  Guess who wants payback?  It arrives this Friday.  The film looks tight, well written, acted and could cast a cold hard spell over the soul if the cards are played right.
  • Janie Hendrix released another 12 tracks recorded by her brother, Jimi, today.   One may ask how the hell the legendary guitarist is still putting out tunes and I will tell you again.  He owned his own studio, Electric Ladyland, and spent several nights playing and playing until his fingers went numb, he ran out of drugs or needed fresh air.   Hendrix was an introvert when he was off the stage and locked himself in a recording studio with a guitar and his band and played.   He recorded everything.   These 12 tracks, which I just purchased and have sampled, are devilishly polished guitar driven blues tunes that stay around for awhile after a listen.   Nobody played the guitar like Jimi.   Over 40 years past his death, people still think of him as the best and that group includes Eric Clapton, Tom Morello and Jimmy Page.  He created sounds, music and ideas with an instrument in a way few could.   These tracks are his everlasting legacy.   Think of it as a neverending encore.
  • The Blues are frustrating bunch of cock teasers.   They win, lose, repeat and pour misery into our drinks.   They are the streakiest bunch of players ever to step foot on the ice.  They are worse than a bad team.  They are full of talent, doom and inconsistency.   Dangerous blend.   They started 6-1, lost 5 straight, and have split the last bunch of games.  After sprinting back at home down 2-0 to defeat Edmonton 4-2 and getting off to a 1-0 start Sunday in Dallas, the Blues lost 4-1 and now play 5 more games in 8 days starting with LA tonight.  They are 20 games in and unpredictable.  They play well on the road and shitty at home.   I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week.   Ken Hitchcock’s disciplined team from last year is coming and going.   Brian Elliot is petrified and exposed because the Blues don’t lead the league in least shots against(a title held in 2011-2012).   Jake Allen is down in Peoria for now.  Jaroslav Halak can only play as good as his defense allows him.   Neither goalie can take over a game.  They need great defense to excel(except for Allen, he could be a game changer).   Early on in the season, the Blues defense was strangling teams at the blue line and not allowing shots.   That led to 3 early shutouts.   When the shots increased, the goals followed and Elliot is next to useless right now.  If he manages to win a game or two, he is easy trade bait.   Halak could go down at any moment and I can tell you right now Allen will be back soon.   The offense is hit and miss, failing to forecheck or create a sustained pressure.   David Backes and TJ Oshie takes every other game completely off.   David Perron is talented yet takes very stupid penalties.   Patrik Berglund has been missing for 3 games.  The team is playing without Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen and Andy McDonald.   That is no excuse to be embarrassing to watch.    Last year, the team dealt with injuries and found a way to win.   This year, they have to do it again or else Doug Armstrong will make some trades.    Jason Arnott coming in won’t save this team, at least not the 2013 version of Arnott.  Something else will have to be done.  Only if there was a way we could acquire Jarome Iginla or lure another legit FEARED goal scorer away from their home.  The Blues will continue to thrill us and kill us.   
That’s all.  Thanks for reading.
 
-DLB