Month: May 2013

Open Fire Session

It’s time to let the hands go and unleash the greatest blog in the history of cyber net writers.  Well, not really.  Just a collection of words from a guy whose only tool is blunt truth.  Here we go with no Pitbull included.  I have been dealing single subject blogs for a few weeks but this one is all over the place.  Special and intact.  Starting with my Redbird Stress Burners….

Cards Talk Central-10 Things About My Team
*Say what you want about John Mozelaik’s scarf collection but the man knows how to brew up some young pitching.  11 of the Cards 31 wins this season have come from the rookie arms on our staff.  Tyler Lyons came up from Memphis(where Tiger Blood is being served daily) and flung seven solid innings on the road in San Diego.  John Gast won two starts before coming out of tonight’s game with a sore shoulder.  Seth Maness has been putting out fires in the 6th and 7th innings before getting tagged tonight.  Carlos Martinez is striking everybody out.  Mo took over as GM in 2007 and promised this team would build from within.  While the LA Dodgers place manager Don Mattingley on a pressurized timebomb in LA with a 211 million dollar payroll, the Cards stroll along with the leagues best record at 31-17 and behind a 110 million dollar staff.  Let’s take a closer look at that 110 million budget.
*The team lost Rafael Furcal to Tommy John surgery in February, so that’s 7 million being picked up by the insurance.  Jason Motte went down with Tommy John Surgery earlier this month, so that’s another 2.5 million.  Chris Carpenter had a dead arm until last month, so we will see how much of the 10 million he earns.  Jaime Garcia pitched solid for a month and a half before going down for season ending shoulder surgery so there is 7 more million added to the heap.  Jake Westbrook has hit a brick wall twice on his return from elbow inflammation, so his 9 million is hanging in the air.  Add it all up and right now we have 35 million in salary hanging around the 60 day DL or the full season bench list.  Tonight, Gast left after six hitters with shoulder tightness so expect ANOTHER move to happen in the next few days.  
*This team can only resist the Michael Wacha urge for so long.  I have heard the defense moves by the local scribes.  Starting his free agent clock.  Bringing him up to stay.  Yeah, I get all of that but right now you are burning pitchers like dollar bills at a strip club so its time to pull the trigger and bring the Wachanator up here.  Quick nickname drop there, take it or leave it.  He can’t be any worse than Garcia after a missed call or a error behind him.  He’s blowing hitters away in Memphis and my rule is when he doesn’t have much to prove down there and there is a need here bring him up.  Judging by the first two months, the rookies in this farm system know how to pitch up here so make the move Mo so we can keep singing your praises amid your Machiato intake at Starbucks.  
*Carlos Beltran is raking and aiming for another big season.   Oscar Taveras is hitting decent down in Memphis so this brings up the future look at the outfield situation in 2014.   If Beltran rides out an even better season than last year, do you try to pull him back on a 1 year deal and keep Oscar in developmental phase or move Jon Jay to a 4th outfielder and ditch Shane Robinson once and for all?  Juicy question that is premature so pardon me a glance here into the looking glass.  Beltran tired out last year in the final months before revving it up in October.  He is a force when cranking. Oscar is the best prospect in baseball but you never know when MLB action takes over.  This all hinges on Beltran taking a one year deal here in 2014 because he could cash in on a 2-3 year deal as a DH in the American League.  Just putting it out there that I would support keeping Beltran here another season if he wants to, especially since we are breaking off the Westbrook and Furcal contracts after the year ends.  
*Expect Kolten Wong to make an appearance at Busch before August.  The kid is lighting up Memphis pitching and getting on base a ton.  Matt Carpenter is playing solid at second and David Freese is coming alive with his bat with DD on the bench but Wong will present the team with uncomfortable yet good questions in the coming months.  The job is his in 2014 but he may be here sooner.
*Chris Carpenter could be facing hitters this week and going to Memphis in 2 weeks.  This is an amazing story that only gets better with each positive report.  Three months ago he was done for good and now he is pumping 85 pitches per session and looking better every time.  With the starting pitcher troubles, Carp’s 9th comeback from the pitching reaper could be perfect timing.  If all goes well, he fills Garcia’s spot.  One last hurrah would be good no matter how the ending plays out.  I want some more Carp!
*Ty Wiggington came to the plate tonight as our final hope.  I would have preferred a gun and a shot of whiskey over that fat over the hill turd who is hitting .170.  He is 2 million dollars of wasted space.  Make Shane look like gold.  He is officially Roger Dorn in Major League 2.
*Daniel Descalso does a good job as a utility player and I support Bernie’s fine words on him in his Friday blog.  A lot of fans shit on him because of his .220 average when they forget he is officially a backup with Carp Jr. at second and Freese a mainstay at third.   DD had a couple huge hits in SD, plays great defense and is a very good team player.  He is Skip with more grease and a real beard.  However, if Wong keeps heating up, the uncomfortable decision making may lead Mike Matheny and his staff to look at Descalso’s name.  
*By the way, Matheny is doing a great job in his 2nd year.  Tip a cap friends.  He has been through the ringer his first two years, taking over the job from a legend after the team wins a World Series and loses its biggest star while suffering major injuries.  Matheny almost took us to to the World Series in 2012 and is holding strong with another dish of injury fated misery in 2013.  There’s something to be said here for a guy who got a lot of bad press after being given the Cards skipper job without any experience.  So far, with the expected hiccups and bad decision making here and there, he is doing a damn fine job.
*Tonight’s game was a rough loss but digestible for a few reasons.  When you lose your starting pitcher after 3 outs are recorded, your chances of winning go down the tubes.  Gast left, and the ill prepared Joe Kelly managed to fire off 4 innings and allow only a single run.  Adrian Gonzalez had 3 big hits, Nick Punto helped beat his old team and Matheny sent out his biggest mistake as a manager, Mitchell Boggs to the mound in a one run game.  Just enough madness to spare.  Boggs coming into a close game is like pouring gasoline on a burning building.  It’s bad news.  Matheny continues to cling to this broken pitcher.  MM took a quality setup man in Boggs, pushed him into an ill advised spot as the closer and the young pitcher snapped.  I don’t think Boggs will ever be right again.  He is trade bait this July if any takers grows a pair of balls.  The Expendables right now are Wiggington, Rzep(roughed up in Memphis), Boggs, Salas and DD.  
That’s all for now.  On to other things of relatively lower importance.
*Hint Time-Stop calling the Cardinals’ fans the best in baseball.  It just brings on unneeded wrath.   No team has the best fans.  It’s a bullshit moniker to throw on a franchise.  We are as bitchy and second guess vengeful as any other team’s supporters.  We are lucky to have a team that competes every season.   Take LA for example.  3/4 of those fans don’t even know who is playing third base as their ownership attempts to buy a World Series.  Nice try Magic.  Just because we cheer hard doesn’t make us the best.  
*The Blues can take a look at the Boston Bruins as an example of talented players coming together in a nucleus of gritty winning style for future reference on what it takes to win.   Instead of relying on their own tendencies and playing a singular game of hockey on the ice, the Bruins players bypass ego craters and display a selflessness that can’t be taught.  There are no true stars on the Bruins or at least there isn’t an Ovechkin or Crosby.  However they knocked off the Rangers in 5 games today to advance to the Conference finals where they will take on the Penguins.  My bet is they get by them in 7 hard fought games or die trying because they go hard for 60 minutes and their goaltender doesn’t choke in big spots.  When will the Blues take a look in the mirror and realize their young nucleus of overrated young players(Oshie, Berglund, Perron) won’t win them a Cup?  Hopefully soon, guys, I am graying up a little in the beard.
*Mad Men had its best episode of the season on Sunday when the entire staff got drugged up with adrenaline from a special doctor and was up all night writing ads for Chevy.   There isn’t a better sight than watching Jon Hamm running mad around the office on no sleep ranting about ideas with a gallon of scotch in him and the ripping desire to cheat on his wife going through his head.  There are mad souls on this show who do very bad things but they are so addicting to watch we respect them anyway.  Writer and creator Matthew Weiner let it go in this hour.
*Game of Thrones is having a solid third season.  It’s too hard to explain the latest developments in this ever growing plot so I will only say that I am moving from Team Stark to Team Lannister slowly but surely.   Look, the Starks are the noble warrior family that does everything so clean and right that rooting for the bad bunch of Lannisters is more energetic and fun.  Take Jaime Lannister for example.  He is known as a swordsman who stabbed a king in the back and fucks his sister and has fathered all her children.  However, this third season has shined a light on his story and while he is far from perfect, he isn’t an evil man and has layers.  The Lannister’s King is ruthless and played by Charles Dance and Peter Dinklage is amazing as Tyrion, the bastard child.  I am taken aback by the actors in the roles so give me that little small bit of leverage there.  There are the fans who adore the books and I haven’t read a single page of them.  This show is another addiction.
*The new show I am looking forward to the most is Showtime’s Ray Donovan.   First, it stars the undeniably talented and underrated Liev Schreiber(featured in Film-Addict’s Character Actor Spotlight today) and he is most deserving of a leading role.  Second, the supporting cast is strong and Jon Voight is a member of it.  No one plays a estranged, sinful shitty father better than Voight.  Third, the plot is gritty and simple.  Schreiber’s Donovan is a Hollywood fixer whose life is turned upside down when his long time grudge holding father is released from jail.  With his life already diced in small chunks of misery, his father’s arrival just increases the flames.  Think of a tornado ripping through a family and you have Ray’s predicament.  It all makes for great drama and it will play after Dexter’s 8th and final season this summer.  This show looks like a keeper.  Here’s a sneak peek.
The song in the trailer is played by Dead Man’s Bones, led by none other than the supremely talented actor Ryan Gosling.  Apparently, in 2009, he started a band with one other guy and produced an album.  The song is called “Lose Your Soul”.  It’s pretty good.  Add him to the club of celebrities who think they can sing and are actually halfway right in their thinking.
*Every day my son gets bigger, smarter and more ambitious. I look at him and see so much of me.  I just hope he does better than me.  That’s always the hope for a father.  You look at your kid and want him to achieve more.  Granted, I still have a lot of life left and a couple avenues of opportunity to hit it big if I am smart and lucky(Film-Addict, my writing) but Vinny has to be greater.  I won’t place the weight of the world on his shoulders but I will tell him there is a difference between having to work until you are 70 and being able to to retire when you are 50.  I hope he does great.  He is my prodigy.
Transitioning here into even more random areas as I crack open my second Bud Select.  
*Carl Froch and Mikael Kessler beat the shit out of each other on HBO Boxing today and Froch won a well deserved decision.  It was 12 rounds of war and deserves a look from any real boxing fan.  The sport is far from dead and these guys are another reminder of it.  They got into the ring with the intent to do damage and provided some entertainment.  If you have HBO, watch it. If not, just imagine a Brit beating the shit out of a brawler from Denmark in Nottingham and both leaving with cuts and bruises.  Solid hand to hand combat.
*Fast & Furious 6 is exactly what a summer film should be.  Loud, exciting, non stop action and full of eye candy.  It’s not high art.  Just good old fashioned fun and boy does this film deliver.  Vin Diesel and The Rock were put on this earth to kick ass and look good doing it.  There’s a teaser in the credits for Part 7 and let’s just say another one of my action heroes will be playing the bad guy in the next installment.  
*The Hangover 3 is a mistake and plays like a direct to DVD retread.   Todd Phillips listened to his fans and shuffled the deck too much and forgot to sprinkle in the sharp edged comedy that I am used to in a Hangover movie.  I liked Part 2 because I expected it to be the same exact story only set in Bangkok.  This addition feels forced and plays like a bland showcasing for moneymaking. Skip it.
*Rent Jack Reacher, Silver Linings Playbook or Broken City.  Two of them are solid and one is an absolute gem.
*Running into Know It All Car people is bad news for me.  I know very little about cars except for engines and transmissions are the heart and soul while the tires make it a smooth trip and the more horses the faster your car will gallop.  Just got told that Mustangs and Chargers kind of suck tonight it came from a kid who was working at Starbucks so I basically wrote it off.  How many engineers work with foam all night?  I pleaded the fifth, grabbed my 4 shot Americano and went home.  
*The Rams aren’t going to LA but they may get a new stadium in St. Louis if their owner decides to help the city build it.  Stan Kroneke needs to show interest for the project to get done.  Also, after seeing the packed house of Busch Stadium for a soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester City, the incorporation of an MLS team into that new stadium for the Rams could help a lot.  STL has a strong following of soccer fans that filled up our baseball cathedral on Thursday and even had this relatively casual and barely intense soccer fan watching from start to finish.  I would be in support of a soccer team coming to St. Louis and see an open stadium being built in Earth City sometime in the next 5 years.  
*A treadmill and punching bag in my basement could keep me from beating up several drivers and other people I come into close contact with.   Cardio and fitness help save lives everyday.  Caffeine as well.
*Every job has its issues and bright spots.   My job at Bommarito Wines in Brentwood has its usual warehouse malfunctions but for the most part is a decent gig.  The atmosphere is loose, the women in the office are nagging yet non threatening and I get to wear headphones and fill my head with tunes and movies all day while I pick orders.  I didn’t envision doing this when I was 16 but it will do for now while Film-Addict grows.  
Speaking of my growing site, there are things coming up.  In the middle of June, we shoot a 15 second video that will play in four theaters in St. Louis.  Galleria, Chase, Moolah and The new MX Theaters downtown.  Second, we are bringing in local advertisers to the site.  Third, we are gaining access to stars and directors for interviews.   It’s a lot of work but a passion project that may hit big one day.  Joblo was started by a kid in his mother’s basement and now generates 2 million per year.  That site and other sites hit big right around the time that internet was beginning to explode so we are behind the ball a little but I believe with the right exposure and willing investor, our big moment is right around the corner.  We have been around for 1 year now so progress is being made.  Check out the site and get your fill of movie news.
That’s all I got tonight.   Have a good holiday.  Tomorrow, Shelby Miller takes on Clayton Kershaw in LA and it will be a pitching showcase for the ages.   In my opinion, Miller will have a better career than Steven Strasburg because he has great stuff and an ability to shut down teams.  We will have to wait and see.  
Goodnight and good luck,

Redbird Torture Chamber Notes

Being a Cardinals fan is like being a fan of Evel Knievel.   Every time they go to work, something bad could happen.   A chaotic horse race.  A traffic jam on a broken highway.  Loud noises in a grocery store.  Baseball will snap your heart 10 ways from Sunday and there’s no stopping it.  The season is so damn long you wonder how your body and mind adapt and survive every year.  This is why I admire and respect the casual fans.  They watch, put one foot into the door and escape before devotion and addiction settle in.  Believe me, if you can do it, I am all for it. The problem is when I was 5 years old I was hooked and haven’t let go since.  Baseball owns me.  I own myself partially.  Life goes on.   

Let’s talk about a few things and I will try not to bore you, waste your time or lose your attention to the point of you playing a cellphone game while you read this latest dose.  
Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook Hit The DL
It was announced an hour ago that Tyler Lyons would take Garcia’s spot in SD this week.   An unfortunate development in Cardinal nation that compounds when you add it to the loss of Jake Westbrook(elbow inflammation) last week.   The St. Louis Cardinals attract doom like Oklahoma lures in tornadoes and this latest storm may rock the pitching surplus filled ocean shores of Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals  will have to go back into the vault to fill a spot and Lyons doesn’t intrigue me.  He has a 4.30 ERA over 2 seasons at Memphis and is a lefty who doesn’t throw too hard.   He doesn’t walk a lot of guys but what does he bring with him?  Questionable intrigue.   Let’s back up and complain about the Garcia injury before I forget because this is classic Cards medical staff foolery.  
*Last year around this time, Garcia went down with a shoulder strain.   It was later discovered that he had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.  Rest was prescribed.   He didn’t return until September.   After starting against the Nationals in Game 2 of the NLCS and sucking, Garcia gave in once again and left the series and playoffs with the same injury.  He saw a number of specialists in the offseason, including the increasingly popular Dr. Andrews.  Out of four surgeons, Andrews was the only one to tell him rest could heal the torn piece in his shoulder.  More rest.  Rest hasn’t done this team good the past 6 months.  Let’s review.
*Rafael Furcal hurt his elbow in August last year.  The doctors found a torn ligament in his elbow in the offseason but no surgery was required or so the experts told us.  Rest was prescribed all the way up until spring training in February when Furcal hit another wall and Tommy John Surgery was authorized and the shortstop’s season was lost.  
*Jason Motte felt a pop in his elbow in March and was prescribed REST.  When it was found that he had a partially torn ligament in his elbow, the same condition as Furcal, he was still prescribed rest and given a shot of cortisone. Weeks later, he tried to make a last ditch attempt to return by playing catch from 60 feet before the arm said something like this, “HEY JASON, GUESS WHAT, I’M TORN AND NEED REPAIR, SOFT TOSS WON’T HELP HERE, THANKS…YOUR ELBOW”.  
Jaime Garcia is a talented young pitcher.  When right, he can dominate and his record in 2013 backs that up.   5-2 record with a couple wins taken away by a man called Boggs who coincidentally replaces him on the roster this weekend.   The young lefty has a 4 year deal that is in progress that pays him 7 million per season.   With shoulder surgery on the horizon, I just ask one thing.  Could this have been done last November?  When it flared up again, why was rest given AGAIN?  Post Dispatch writer Derrick Goold told me that teams and players never want to rush to surgery.  I understand that but also push this forward.  What if there are no other viable options and you are hurting your team’s chances this year and next by delaying the inevitable?  Motte resting and making the one pitiful effort may cost him next April as well.   Garcia could be gone for the rest of the season.  Was rest the best option and when did players become doctors? They are hired to pitch and not have the final say on their health right?  If my back was preventing me from doing a good job at my warehouse gig but I told my bosses(who have a business to run) that I could work through it, I would hope they would stop me and tell me to rest up and heal properly or get a procedure done so 100% Buffa returns sooner.  It’s just logic.  I understand when the paid writers have to think about the team they are covering when breaking this issue down.  I just fire off what I think and know from a team that I have followed, studied and loved for 26 years.
Thunderstorms strike this team in doubles often.  As Garcia goes down, Westbrook hit a setback in his recovery and needed another shot of cortisone(that magical serum currently on back order at Busch Stadium) and will miss another start.  Who knows when the fire in his elbow will go out and he can resume throwing?  John Gast will get a 2nd start today after pitching decently against the Mets on Tuesday.   Lyons starts in San Diego this week and may just be a temporary fix until Seth Maness and/or Carlos Martinez can get prepped for starting duty.  I would prefer Maness and Martinez stay in their current roles because the bullpen has benefited from their precise abilities.  The depth in this organization’s pitching arsenal will be tested all season and this is the biggest strike.  Don’t forget about a guy named Chris Carpenter who is rehabbing as we speak.  Sports Illustrated just visited the team this past week to do a feature on their stellar rotation.  Is this the SI curse in full force or is that too much?  The cover hasn’t ran yet so maybe it’s not a viable complaint.  At this point, I’m looking for anything.    
That’s the biggest news for this team right now.  They are 27-15 and doing very well.   Having a great homestand that is only limited by their ability to not beat lefthanded starters and shoot themselves in the foot.  After losing the final game to Jonathon Niese and the Mets on Thursday, the Cards took Friday’s game 7-6 but blew a 2-0 lead and lost in 10 innings yesterday to the Brewers 6-4.   Joe Kelly made his first appearance in weeks and didn’t look good.  Maybe he needs a trip to Memphis to get reworked as a starter.   He isn’t being used correctly or barely at all here at the moment so why not.   
Let’s break down the options for the future of repairing this leaking rotation.
  1. Carlos Martinez.  Fire ball tossing mini Pedro Martinez has been with team for 3 weeks and would need to be sent back to Memphis to retool as a starter again.  I like him as the fireman in this bullpen, the strikeout artist who can pitch a full inning.  Leave him be for now unless setbacks occur.
  2. Seth Maness.  He is a strike throwing machine and gets more double plays than Cardinals Care can keep up with but would also need to be sent back to Memphis to retool to be a 5-6 inning arm again.   He is so effective in his role, like Martinez, that I don’t want to move him right now.  Future wise he is a starting prospect.  Right now he is a plumber who fixed a leak in the bullpen first, taking over Edward Mujica’s role when he left for the closer spot.
  3. Joe Kelly.  Once again, he was used in relief yesterday and has been playing more catch with the right fielder between innings than pitching in games.   I am not sure if he bought Mike Matheny a knife for a gift this year or was he simply forgotten.  He needs a Memphis trip to be retooled as a starter so he can help this team in June and onward.
  4. Michael Wacha.  The most intriguing choice was passed over for Lyons even though his next start would fall in turn with Garcia’s missing appearance.   The Cards may not want to start Wacha’s clock too early but I say if the kid has the goods to pitch here, then start the ticker and get him here.  Why waste a start with Lyons when you have Wacha dominating Memphis bats?  He stays in AAA for now.  Excuses to follow in the papers.
  5. Chris Carpenter.  A month away at least but the big guy is progressing with a starter workload in his rehab.   He is throwing close to 100 pitches and getting closer to a rehab assignment in Memphis.  If all goes well there, he will step into either Garcia or Westbrook’s role, especially with the rotation on fire.  John Cast and Tyler Lyons are intriguing young arms but if you have a guy named Carpenter lurking in your corner, you put the gloves on him and send him into combat.   Chris Carpenter at 75% is better than most pitchers at full blast because of his tenacity, intensity and pure volatility on a pitching mound.  Hanley Rameriz still can’t get the shit stain out of his pants from the time Carpenter screamed at him up the first base line at Busch in 2011.  Chris Carpenter is brass balls fury and will make it to Busch sometime in June.  
  6. Tyler Lyons.  I don’t know a thing about this kid and neither does any scribe on twitter yet so we will have to wait and see when he takes the mound in Ron Burgundy Country this week.
  7. John Gast.  If he pitches well over 2-4 starts and Westbrook comes back and Carpenter isn’t ready, you move the young crafty lefthander into Garcia’s spot.  For now, he faces a big task today in taking the rubber game against the Brewers.  
Other Cards Bits-Reading Time, 1 cup of slightly cooled off coffee
  • Anybody else hear the boulder fall off David Freese’s shoulders on Friday when he launched that grand slam to center field in a home run reminiscent of his 2011 World Series bomb from Game 6?  It was one hit but a meaningful one for the native.  He is a good hitter and will bust out of the funk.  Friday’s bomb helped.
  • I like resting Carlos Beltran 2 times a week.  It will keep him fresh and ready to roll in the late season high stakes action.  
  • Edward Mujica’s work is truly remarkable and isn’t getting enough attention, which could be a good thing.  He is 12-12 in save opportunities in the month since taking over in mid April.  He has retired 40 of the 46 hitters he has faced since that time.  He is making it look easy.  He is also a cool dude and a father of a young girl.  Just icing on the cake.  Chief is getting the job done in a big way. If it continues, this will be the most shocking and smooth recovery in the Cards bullpen in years.
  • No one hits a ball harder than Matt Holliday and sports science backs it up.  According to studies, the ball comes off Holliday’s bat at near 100 mph.   The only player who stings the ball harder is Giancarlo Stanton in Miami.   Holliday hits into so many double plays because he hits a missile to the middle infielder on a hop and its an easy turn.  Holliday sprints down the base line every time.  Something to think about to go with Holliday’s effectiveness in 2 out/RISP situations in 2013.
  • The Cards only like to score a lot of runs with 2 outs.  Kind of their thing so far.  I expect this to change.
  • CORRECTION-Joe Kelly has pitched 4 times in the past 6 days.  This guy was wrong.  He still doesn’t have a role and deserves better.  With Gast, Lyons, Maness and Martinez up here, it would be good to send Kelly back down to retool as a starter.  I think he helps the team the most in that role.
That’s it. I am sure I forgot a few things but that is why I always come back to rant a little more.  Non sports notes of the day.  Listen to Alabama Shakes tune “Always Alright” and watch Broken City on DVD/Blu Ray.  Quality picks.
Have a good day and thanks for reading,

St. Louis Blues Wrapup Blog

Sports teams are made to break our hearts.   Athletic players coming together with one common goal of winning a championship that temporarily puts their hardcore fans on a pedestal.   It’s a freaky concoction of competition, addiction and inner strength.   You could go to any main street and toss a rock at a crowd and hit a person who could deliver a 10 minute uncut rant about sports easily.   It’s a common element of life and one that hits people who don’t even like sports.  The Blues break out hearts so often that we are used to it.  That doesn’t mean the pain goes away or the incoming crash is any weaker.   Every year, playoff built or not, we think to ourselves what it would be like to celebrate up and down 14th and Clark and around the city for the Blues and not the Cardinals.  A myth, pipe dream, and goal shared by old men, ambitious young men and women and kids alike.  What if the Blues won the Stanley Cup?  Typing the sentence involves a necessary pause because in their time here since the late 1960’s, the Blues haven’t won a single Cup.   We are without a championship banner and it sucks.  On Friday, our hopes for one in this lockout shortened season were destroyed.  The Los Angeles Kings came back from a 2-0 series deficit and beat the Blues four straight games to capture the first round and send every Blues fan to the cold hard concrete ground with a thud.  Too bad we all knew it would come, now or later.  The Blues have given us this sickness in our systems.  A feeling of inevitable failure.  What a terrible thing.  Not as horrible as a rash in a sensitive area but one that itches at us in other ways.   Here are my thoughts on the Blues.

*Confession.  I slept through the final period of hockey for the Blues on Friday night.  After a long ass hard week of dual jobs, fatherhood and general running out, I was wasted mentally and physically as I carved out a spot in the corner of the couch for my trunk of a body.  It was 2-1 Kings after a soul draining last second goal in the third period by Dustin Penner that somehow(stretchy thought) eluded Brian Elliot’s body and equipment.   I spat out around 5 strong words of profanity and turned away, waking up around 1am to the final score of my phone and a replay of FSN post game.   The two anchors, a weird guy named Scott and a former player, looked devastated.  It was as if a mortar hit the Arch and brought it down.  That or a man named Jonathan Quick who brought it down for the second season in a row.  Let’s begin.
1.)  That’s right.  The Kings have knocked us out cold twice in a row.  The Blues can’t find a way to win in LA and we can’t beat them in a series.  Last year, they knocked us out cold in four games.  This year, they let us get ahead before sticking the knife in deep enough.  Quick gave up a couple silly goals in Games 1 and 2 before righting himself and the LA ship in route to four straight wins.  The Kings are the new nemesis in the Blues life.  Move over Hawks and Wings.  Preds also.
2.)  Games 3 and 4 defined this series.  The outcome was carved there.  In Game 3, we lost 1-0 but missed several clear open looks at the LA net to tie or take the lead.   One of the biggest factors in the playoffs for the Blues was MISSED SHOTS.  Professionals failing to put the puck on net.  We missed the net 111 times in the 6 games against the Kings, which is as bad throwing 111 gutter balls in a game of bowling.  It’s unacceptable and something that Brian Elliot has nothing to do with.  The forwards especially couldn’t hit the net.   I am talking to you Andy McDonald, Chris Stewart and David Perron.  How fucking hard is it to shoot a puck on net?  Do I need to strap on my skates from high school, take the ice and fire a few wrist shots at the net.  I know it’s the playoffs and the action is quick and relentless but these guys are built for this type of play and they failed.  BIG TIME.  Game 4 we had a 2-0 lead and a chance to step on the Kings throats and we then blew a 3-2 lead in route to a 4-3 loss.   These two games in LA were the back breakers.  We were up 2 games to one and we blew it.  The lead was gone.  Vanquished.  In playoff hockey, it can happen that fast.  In any sport, it can happen that fast.
3.)  Brian Elliot isn’t better than or as good as Quick.  We knew this going in.  So stop throwing all the blame on Elliot for the series loss.  I told you before the series started that we would go as far as Elliot would take us.  As far as his PLAY could take us.  He had an uphill climb with Quick opposing him and for 3 games he was as good or better than the Vezina Cup winner.  Then, reality set in and he started to roll downhill.   I don’t blame Hitch for keeping him in there.  This was Elliot’s team and not the whiny bitchy midget Slovak Halak’s team.  This was his series to lose.  Elliot had a dramatic season.   He took over for an injured Halak less than a month into the season and quickly got rocked to the point of being benched for Jake Allen, who saved us in March.  Then, Elliot reappeared after a 2 week sit and a Peoria assignment to win back the starting gig and he did it in a big way.  He carried the team through April and to the 4th seed when they were barely scoring goals.   Elliot once again played above his ability and overachieved for the second season in a row.  He did give up a few soft goals in the LA series, including the game winner in Game 5 at Scottrade and the game winner in Game 6 in LA.  He just broke down again and met his match in the Kings.  Elliot did a stellar job, especially if you think back to March when most Blues fans(me included) cast him off to the minors.  He came back and like the team, fell short.  When he went down, the Blues overall play went with him.
4.)  What to do with the kid line that is getting more stale by the minute?   TJ Oshie is an injury prone energy player who won’t score more than 20 goals EVER!  He is a talented player with a high ice IQ but he takes games off and can’t stay on the ice.  He has a 5 year deal so it will be hard to move him but if you listen to many analysts, he is the freshest thing since Budweiser(I don’t understand it).  He has reached his ceiling in my opinion but will be hard to receive any return in a trade.  David Perron has another year left on his contract and is the most likely player to be dealt.  He can score in bunches but loafs around too much, tries to be a pest, takes very stupid penalties and may never reach his potential.   Patrik Berglund is a big Swede with streaky scoring touches but also a SOFT player.  Far too many times he is beat in the corner and can’t forecheck for his life.  He is a big forward with a decent contract so I don’t think you can move him.   These players have gotten the chance to flourish and have hit brick walls lately.  They are still incredibly young so I wouldn’t be surprised if they all came back.  If it isn’t working, why let it run forward?  Changing things would help.  Any fan who whines about Oshie’s departure can be reminded of what has been won during his time here.  NOTHING.  If Doug Armstrong brings back the same players what message is being sent to fans?  We are contenders and pretenders.
5.)  Goodbye Andy McDonald.   You have speed to kill but take concussions like breakfast and disappeared in the playoffs.  He also makes 4 million, which comes off the books as the summer begins.   He is gone.  Jamie Langenbrunner is also gone.  There’s 5.5 million freed up.   Chris Stewart had an inconsistent season to say the least.  He scored what seemed like 10 goals in a week and then took a week off.  He was on a contract run and may have gotten another short deal with the team or an exit to somewhere else.  I wish I could take out the iron tenacity and strong will in the corner checks and forechecking from Stewart and put it into Patrik Berglund.   Stewart offers you that big forward with a little attitude but for the money he will command, I don’t think he is worth it.  I would give him a 2 year deal but not give him a no trade clause so you have the option to trade him at will.  If he balks, see you later.  More money comes off the books.
6.)   The Blues didn’t generate a lot of income during the short season and won’t have EXTRA money to make moves.  Armstrong’s moves will come through trades and not signings.  Until owner Tom Stillman finds more investors and sponsors, the Blues will be scraping the bottom of the payroll barrel in the NHL.   Think about it, and it’s amazing what they were able to accomplish with the 3rd lowest payroll in the league.  Still, results spawn bigger expectations so the team will have to gain revenue or rely on Dougie to spin the wheel.
7.)  I do like Armstrong.  I liked when the Blues gave him the GM gig.  He has the risky brass ball set to make big deals and try to improve his team and help his coaches.  He has a lot of Mozelaik in his brain.  He can find a lot with a little.  He brought the team a high quality defenseman in Jay Bouwmeester and he is a guy who can pair up with Alex Pietrangelo next year to create a great tandem.    He did bring in the painfully average Jordan Leopold but that was more of an insurance move that ran too long.   Ken Hitchcock should have thrown Kris Russell into the mix in the LA series when Leopold was exposed.  Armstrong can make a deal or two so I trust him.
8.)  While I like Elliot, I think Jaro Halak gets one more shot at being #1.  He is made of glass and gives up as many soft goals as any goalie but is a playoff beast and has pretty good stats with the team.  In three seasons, he is 59-38-15 with a franchise tying 16 shutouts.  When healthy, Halak is a #1 goalie.   The problem is he hasn’t been able to stay in net without sustaining a long term injury.  Elliot makes 2.5 million next year and Halak makes 4 million.   Jake Allen is the silver lining here and deserves to be on the NHL roster.  He has nothing more to prove in Peoria and proved his skill set in March.  Which means the Blues have to decide whether to keep Halak or Elliot?  You can’t keep both, or at least I wouldn’t.   Halak whined to Hitch in the LA series and that happens way more than you think so its a tad overblown.  However, I think Halak gives you a better chance in a playoff series and that is the blocker in front of this team right now.  A playoff goaltender.  Keep Halak, trade Elliot and have Allen as your backup.
9.)  The Blues took a step back.  They beat the Sharks in the first round last year and came up short this year which represents a step back.  Clearly, we can get to the playoffs and are that kind of team again but it isn’t enough.  Blues fans have come back after 2 recent lockouts and supported their team.  They have gotten NOTHING in return for it.  What will Doug Armstrong and company do to reward our patience?  You can’t keep the same lineup every year with minor tweaks.  Something must be done.  Dramatically.
10.)  Adam Cracknell, Ryan Reaves and Chris Porter proved they are your CPR 4th line next season.  They disrupted the Kings more than any line in the series and were true pests.  They all need to be on the roster.   Jaden Schwartz can move into McDonald’s playmaker spot and continue to grow, as well as Russian prodigy Vladamir Tarasenko.  David Backes gives ypu everything you want in a captain so I am okay with his production going down.
11.)  This team needs a bolt of new blood.  A GOAL SCORER.  Stop me if you have heard this before because it is an old dance tune.   The Blues need a difference maker on the ice.  An instant threat.  Perron, Berglund and Stewart have the ability to score but often come up short.  We need a player like Teemu Selanne, who continues to score for the Ducks and is a threat on the ice.  He has close to 700 goals and won’t leave the West Coast represents that player we need.  Bobby Ryan has been linked to the Blues in many cases.  He is a good scorer.  Jarome Iginla is a big time scorer and would cherish the chance to play for a contender for a full season.  Dustin Penner, the man who sunk our ship, is a free agent.   The Blues need to make a move like the Columbus Blue Jackets did when they traded for Martin Goborik or the Kings did when they trade for Jeff Carter.  This team needs that difference maker on the ice who WON”T miss the net. With freed up cap space and trade parts, hopefully we can make this happen.  If not, I don’t see the team getting past the Kings or Hawks next year.
What will the team look like in October?  The intrigue begins soon.  My time here is done.  Time to watch the Cardinals.  They are 36 games into a 162 game march.   The Blues are out, playoff hockey is still entertaining but the Cards are now in full gear.   It’s too bad for the Blues.  I thought this was their year.  Their youth and shortened season gave them advantages.  However, as the great Bobby DeNiro told Sly Stallone in the underrated drama Copland, “I gave you a chance to be the hero here and YOU BLEW IT.”  It’s that simple.  The Blues choked and blew their opportunity to do something special.  I end this rant with the most dreaded line in sports and the Cubs slogan.
Maybe next year….
Thanks for reading and goodnight,
D. Buffa

St. Louis Blues Breakdown Game 5

Before the puck drops on Scottrade’s freshly paved ice tonight at 8pm, let me toss out a few thoughts.  Warnings, ideas and basic sports prose sprinkled with analysis and attitude.  A pregame warmup session if you will allow the description to take flight.  The Cardinals avenged last night’s pathetic loss to the Cubs today with a nailbiting 5-4 win, so all the focus is on the BLUES.  Here we go.

  • Chris Stewart.  The enigmatic winger has gone missing for 2 weeks now except for one great pass to Barrett Jackman in Game 2.  Seriously, this is the main problem with Stewie.  He is passionately streaky.  He doesn’t play it low key and take a game off.  He takes a group of games off.  There are times where his energy level is also suspect.  He skates around, gets into a few scrums but doesn’t crash the net enough.  His job is to score goals and he isn’t doing that.  If Hitch wants to bench a guy, pick Stewart or demote him.  Time is running out, and this guy isn’t doing anything.
  • Andy Mcdonald.  The little guy hasn’t scored a goal since Mitchell Boggs’ last save and can’t hit the net with a shot.  Like Stewart, his job is to make plays, score goals and avoid concussions that make him miss 45 games.  McDonald is MISSING.  He isn’t leaving a dent on the ice, and looks slower every game.  He shows up tonight or he needs to be demoted.  He also happens to make 4 million dollars.  When was the last time he had a big game?  Don’t hurt yourself thinking.
  • David Perron.  The Frenchman has done little outside of hump Jonathan Quick’s leg before every whistle.  He hasn’t scored in a long time and looks flaky out there.  Perron is a playmaker and not paid to be a pest.  He makes nearly 2 million dollars to put pucks in the net, and that is as simple as it gets.  Let Chris Porter get into Quick’s head.  Perron needs to light up the damn lamp.  
Those three players need to score goals, stop being pests, show some energy and do more than give an effort.  School teachers give effort.  Hockey players like Stewart,Perron and Mcdonald need to produce results.   This starts tonight.  
Brian Elliot can be blamed for one of the 4 goals but I think he once again did a hell of a job in the net in Game 4 and stopped a lot of great shots.  He allowed one soft goal and did his best, which for an enigmatic offense and troublesome defensive team is a lot.   Elliot is still the gamebreaker on the team and just needs to keep his team in the game, which he has.  
Hitch sitting Adam Cracknell for Vladamir Tarasenko on Monday made little sense.   Tank only played 5 minutes and 40 seconds.   Cracknell is part of the CPR line, the 4th line grinding gang which gave the KINGS all kinds of trouble in the first three games and held them to 3 goals.  Why break that up to insert a rookie that Hitch has as much faith in as he does in the Pakistani bomb squad.  It made no sense.  Sure, Cracknell and the gang average only 6 minutes and 33 seconds the first three games but those are spent being pests, disruptors and controlling the Kings top lines.  Tarasenko seemed to jump on the ice for a few moments and immediately leave the ice.  If you don’t want to play the kid, that’s fine.  Sit him.  If you dress him, put him out there and leave one of the above listed daydreamers on the bench.  At this point it doesn’t matter who makes more money.  RESULTS matter.  The Blues need to pull their head out of their ass.  
Final thoughts.
-When they get a lead, it would be nice to see the Blues maintain the intensity.  It seems like when they get a goal or two, they take their foot off the pedal. Against the defending champs that’s a bad idea.  
-The team has put themselves in a bad spot.  They blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in Game 4 and let te Kings get life, momentum and threaten to take away this series.   They had the power after Game 2 with a big series lead, but now it is gone and that is due to failing to capitalize on 10 open net chances in Game 3 and blowing leads in Game 4.  They could have come home tonight with a virtually indestructible 3-1 lead and instead the series is tied at 2, and the Kings have confidence. They have fought to the death with the Blues and gotten close early and prevailed the last couple games.   Have they figured something out in our defense or are the Note just letting up too soon?  
-We have a long way to go in this playoff session so why slow down so damn early?  The Blues have talent for days but lack the finish right now.  Certain high paid players need to step up and produce and the defense needs to really learn how to clear a puck properly.   Ryan Reaves needs to put his fist through someone’s head and the hits need to keep on coming.
-The Blues have home ice advantage with 3 games left and need to use that weapon.   I predicted this series was going 7 games so I am not surprised but that doesn’t mean I would be mad if it ended earlier.   The question this team has to ask themselves is how bad do they fucking want it and how long can they maintain that intensity out there tonight? The LA Kings got off the plane at Lambert looking for blood.   Who throws the first punch tonight?
It’s game time.  
Thanks for reading and GO BLUES!

Breaking Down the Blues and Cardinals

My take on the Blues before Game 4-

After losing to the Kings 1-0 on Saturday, the Blues found out a few things about themselves.  First, putting the puck on net is harder than it looks.  The Blues lead all playoff teams in missed shots.  Second, they found out Jonathan Quick can be pushed around in his crease by a 175 pound Frenchman named David Perron.  Third, they and the fans realized Brian Elliot can carry them in a game.  
Since they can’t hit Quick with a brick and knock him out of the game, they will have to find ways to make him uncomfortable.  Putting pressure on him and his defense.  Force him from the crease, where he is shaky.  Put shots on him, and get them up high.  The Blues seemed to have like 40 chances to stuff a rebound and couldn’t while the Kings slammed home their lone goal on a rebound.   The key to the game is pounding the net and keeping the majority of the shots on goal.  
The Blues defense and goaltending has been superb.  The offense has been dull save for Alex Steen and Barrett Jackman and a puck going off Patrik Berglund’s leg.  Where is Chris Stewart, TJ Oshie, Perron, Andy McDonald and David Backes in this series?  Effort and defense is great but results are another.  The Blues got the 2-0 series lead on Thursday but must act on it and not let the advantage slip away.  It isn’t easy but it was never drawn up that way.  NHL Playoff hockey is tough and brutal.  Raising that cup often means several players have to raise their game to get there.  
Who stands out for the Blues tonight because Elliot can’t hold the Kings off for much longer.  Allowing 3 goals in three games to a decent offense is otherworldly work from a goalie who had zero confidence in March.  
Can the Blues forwards actually step up and win a game or will the Blues return home Wednesday tied up in the series?  We find out tonight.  


My Take on the Cardinals before their series in Chicago-

On April 30th, the Cards were barely above .500 and hurting from bullpen malfunction.  Starters were producing wonders but the bats were cold and the relief gave anything but help.  Mitchell Boggs was self-destructing and Mike Matheny was holding the on/off switch.  A week later, they are 20-11 and carry the best record in the NL.  How?  Finding their bats and being consistently rotten to their division foes.  
It started with Jaime Garcia, Matt Holliday and Edward Mujica turning back the Reds last Tuesday.  Garcia fired 8 innings or brilliance, Holliday hit a laser and Mujica struck out the best three Reds batters to close the deal.  They beat the Reds the next afternoon and went to Milwaukee.  
On Thursday, the bullpen nearly got in the way of a 6-5 win.  Friday, they beat Kyle Lohse for the second time in a month in a big way.  Saturday and Sunday, they made statements.  Adam Wainwright got rocked and gave up a 4-2 lead, but the offense came to the rescue of the rotation for the first time.  They won 7-6 in dramatic fashion.  On Sunday, Allen Craig and Jaime Garcia shut down the Brewers and we won 10-1.  The Cards outscored the Brew Crew 29-13 and the lineup went nuts…on the road.  In the early part of 2013, the Cards are telling divisional foes that if we have to lose to you, it will be us dropping the grenade and not you.  They swept the Brewers and took a second series from the Reds after losing the first game.   This team is streaky with their bats but lethal with their balance.  
Mujica has stabilized the closer situation that cost the team 5 wins.  Boggs and Marc Rzepcynzski are in Memphis.  Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness are with the team and thriving.  Craig and Holliday are RBI monsters.  Yadi Molina is ridiculous with his batting average.  
The rotation members all rank in the top 15 in wins and ERA.  They have been terrific ALL YEAR.  Where does this team go from here? 
To Wrigley Field for 2 games and then home.  It’s time the Cards step foot in their nemesis’ home and do damage.  Keep the bats flying and the arms mighty.  The Cards are white hot!  
The only way we lose is if we do it to ourselves.

Take 6 with Buffa

Here comes the latest Dose of Buffa.  

1.)The Blues surprise us and the Kings with two wins at home.   I predicted the Blues would win this in seven games so I know the series will get much tougher when the Note travel to LA tonight for Game 3 in Staples Center, where the Kings owned the best record in hockey.   However, seeing my team take the fight to the defending champs, punch them in the mouth, knock them down, respond to a lazy period with a strong one, and outplay LA for two games and get this slack on the first round rope, I’ll take it.  After losing a 1-0 lead late in Game 1, the Blues responded with a Alex Steen rush behind the net that shocked Jonathan Quick out of his skates and he threw it in the net for an OT steal.  That is when I officially knew the Blues could hang with the Kings.  After losing the bearings of a 1-0 lead so late in the game, Ken Hitchcock’s boys never stopped fighting.  In Game 2, after two rough periods, the Blues responded with a fierce 3rd and scored two goals to win it and take the series and a bet back to the west coast.  Everybody in the NHL world, all the know it all’s and so called experts, are spinning their heads right now at our Blues.  How in the hell are they doing it?  I will tell you to the best of my ability.  Constant pressure, resilience and a new defensive attack that the Kings can’t get past.  Credit Jay Bouwmeester with the Pronger like ability to clear the puck and use his quick feet to take the puck up the ice.  Credit David Backes and Chris Stewart with throwing their weight around and dictating the pace.  Credit the 4th line for playing way above the skill level of a energy line.  Credit Steen for powering our scoring for game 1.  However, most of the credit goes to Brian Elliot.  He took a personal and professional setback in February, got help and rest, and came back to save this team in April and power it through May.  If we win the Stanley Cup, it will be from the play of Elliot in net.  He’s the rock right now.  Go Blues!  It won’t be easy in LA but I believe in this team’s heart and will, so prepare for a few more shockers.
2.) The Cardinals look different since the last time I ranted about their troubles here.  They have also won 4 of 5, beating the Reds twice in a row and beating the Brewers in the first two games of their road trip stop in Milwaukee.   The bats have come alive, scoring 4 plus in the past 3 games.  The starting pitching has been superb, with Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller delivering potent starts to fine tune their records.  The bullpen got plugged in with new fresh arm power as the suffering Mitchell Boggs was finally dispatched to Memphis to find his head, arm and psyche before it eroded in bad relief efforts.   Pitching phenom Carlos Martinez joined the team yesterday and threw a scoreless frame.  Rookie callup Seth Maness also threw a scoreless frame in last night’s 6-1 win.  When in need, this team will only seek younger help.  Unless, that help comes in the form of Chris Carpenter.  This morning, Joe Strauss alerted his twitter followers that Carpenter is throwing again and with purpose.  This isn’t Jason Motte playing catch from 65 feet.  Carpenter is throwing with an intent to return and help in the bullpen.  
Allow me to expand on this.  
*The lights may have went out on Motte’s 2013 season yesterday when Tommy John Surgery was FINALLY prescribed, but Carpenter is still fighting.  Throwing punches, taking plenty and winning on points.  Motte had a torn ligament in his elbow and as a man who never went to medical school yet pays attention to the stumbling nature of this ballclub can understand, ligaments don’t heal with rest.  Remember Rafael Furcal in March.  Chris Carpenter’s situation is different.  He suffered from nerve damage in his neck/shoulder area and coming from someone who has had nerve damage, I can tell you that condition can improve or outright go away with plenty of rest.  Carpenter has rested for three months now since he stopped throwing in February.  If anyone can make this kind of comeback, it’s Carpenter.  The man is a bionic man, made of several recycled body parts, and is the toughest bastard on the planet.  The other day, I was thinking about the missing mound presence of Carp.  I miss his tall glare coming down at hitters, the snake eyes towards the umpires and the screams and shouting from the mound at the player who dare cross him.  He comes from a different breed of athlete and belongs in a different time capsule.  This team needs Chris Carpenter.  Imagine him coming out of the bullpen in a time of need and the picture starts to burn.   Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” blaring from the speakers as longtime hockey fanatic Carp runs in from the pen with a goalie mask on and a stick in his hand.   Well, maybe not that extreme, but close.  If Carp can contribute anything, I will take it.  
*Edward Mujica continues to amaze me with his ability.  He is 7-7 in save chances and while he allows a few baserunners, he convinced me on Tuesday night.  He struck out Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in a close game to seal the win.  When his team needed it and after a flawless Jaime Garcia performance, “Chief” brought it home.  Hope he keeps it going.  That Zach Cox for Mujica trade last July looks pretty damn good right now.
*David Freese woke up.  Matt Holliday hit a ball halfway towards South America last night.  No one hits a baseball harder when their bat hits the sweet spot than Holliday.  Carlos Beltran continues to rack up power numbers.  Pete Kozma is holding his own at shortstop and dishing out some hits.  Matt Adams returns on Tuesday.  Allen Craig is heating up.  Yadi Molina lost about as much weight as Lance Lynn and is hitting over .320.  The bats are thawing out and they beat Kyle Lohse for the second time in a month last night.  I don’t think he will be the same pitcher there that he was for the Cardinals in 2011-12.  Too bad.  Like a certain guy named Pujols, we got the best of Lohse.  
3.)Iron Man 3 is exactly the kind of summer film that the movie crowd needs.  Its loud, quick, action packed and peels a few more layers off the billionaire, genius, philanthropist superhero that is named Tony Stark/Iron Man.   Robert Downey Jr. continues to amaze us with his versatility and the movie is unpredictable and risk taking for a comic book film without going all dark like Chris Nolan.  See it.  Read the rest of my review and Chris McHugh’s right here on Film-Addict.
4.)Film-Addict celebrated its first year yesterday.  365 days of hard work by myself, Eric Moore, McHugh, Landon Burris, Leigh Ann Jones, Marie Robinson and last but least web designer Samantha Smith.  Everybody has done their fair share and the site is moving in a positive direction.  In June, we could be shooting a video that will play in front of local movie theaters.  We are in contact with two advertisers for the site and are spreading the word as much as we can while feeding the site with fresh material.   This is my dream job.   Right now it’s a side job and a hard one at times.  It’s not seeing movies and getting in free, especially for the main 3 guys.  As I call us “the cinematic tripod”, we have to throw the material on the site, make slides, resize pictures and keep the site fresh.   A movie site with old news is about as useful as a car with no engine.  You’re only as good as your last story and how you put it out there.  As a rookie group who all work full time jobs, we do our best and allow me to say that we do a fine kickass job.  The second year will only get better.  Thanks to everyone who has supported us passionately, which means more than a mere site visit and exit.  You know who you are and we love you for it.  
5.) Vincent is 19 months old and full of ambition, passion, words, and bruises.  My son has the look of a bare knuckle brawler.  He has a cut above his eye, a busted lip and scratches on his leg.  The kid is a tough little midget.  He takes the lumps and keeps on trucking.   Words(something close to words) come out of his mouth and my wife and I do our best to understand them and make sure he is clean enough, safe enough and ready.   As a parent, 95 percent of your job is damage control.  What is he doing and is it okay?  As long as it doesn’t involve electric equipment or things he shouldn’t swallow, all is well.  I pity the parents who treat their kids like china and baby them up.   I prefer to let Vin take a hit, learn how to get up and become a kid a lot faster than most.  It’s the Buffa way.  
6.)Can Robert Guerrero beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. tonight?  If my money was on it, I would say no but I think Guerrero can hurt Floyd.  Remember what Miguel Cotto, an older and tired fighter, did last year to Floyd.  For three rounds, Cotto landed punches, made Floyd bleed and wore down that previously indestructible defensive wall of Mayweather Jr.’s.  Cotto did that, rightfully lost in the end, but left Floyd with a few cuts and bruises.   Guerrero is a young talented champion.   He has fought legit men in his career and is tall, lefthanded and will tower over Floyd.   After being away for a full year and serving 54 days in jail, is Floyd still fast enough?  He is starting to slow down, unable to get away as quick and will have to rely on his punching power soon enough.   When a fighter gets old, their knees give in and their legs slow down.  Guerrero is a brawler but also a smart boxer.  He will keep coming and in my opinion, penetrate the defense of Floyd.  If Floyd can survive, he will only be staring at superstar power puncher Saul “Canelo” Alvarez waiting for him September.  Mayweather’s life will only get tougher.  If he beats Guerrero and Alvarez somehow, he will retire.  My feeling is he won’t retire undefeated.  No Way!  Toughest thing for a boxer to do is know when to say when as age becomes a factor.  They only breed one Bernard Hopkins every 40 years.  Floyd will run into trouble tonight.   What kind of trouble?  We will have to wait and see.  The days of him fighting an aging Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley are over.  I respect his ability but I don’t like him as a person.  I still hold out hope that he will lose.   My hard earned money in on the red headed Mexican to deliver the blow.   Tonight, Floyd wins a decision in a lot closer fight than usual.  115-112 on the cards.  
That’s it.  Thanks for reading and stay classy.  As the recently rejuvenated actor Matthew McConaughey famously said, “Just keep livin.”
Dan Buffa
Song of the Week(or Year) is “Monument” by The Fossil Collective.  Listen here.  I could listen to this all day on a loop.  So cool, effortless, and relaxing.