A Killer Week

What a week it has been for this guy.  A whirlwind experience that has included parts that felt like a Pink Floyd concert and others that felt like a long walk down the dirt road.  A reminder to me that anything can happen at any time and most of the time, that thing isn’t that kind.  As Rocky Balboa famously told his arrogant son in Rocky 6, nobody punches harder than life.  Sly Stallone saved that series with the sixth film, a poignant tribute to the pugilist that never leaves the memory.  It’s that blunt speech that he gives his kid outside of his restaurant that provides it with the magic.   Rocky Jr. is mad because his life revolves around his dad’s legacy.   When Rocky wants to do an exhibition with a young champion and get in the ring one last time, his son is afraid of the negative not on his dad’s life but on his own life and legacy.  That’s when Stallone goes to work.  He puts the kid in his place and reminds him of how you get things done in America in this day and age. 

“Nobody hits harder than life.  It will beat you to your knees if you let it.  It’s about how many punches you can take and keep moving forward.  That’s how winning is done. It’s not how hard you hit.  It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  If you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta take the hits and pointing fingers.  Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that. I’m always going to love you no matter what.  You’re my son and my blood.  You’re the best thing in my life.  But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”
I’m not waxing Rocky poetry on you for no reason.  My life and the life of my family was rocked this week.   It started on Monday when I was handed my ass by a stomach bug and headache/fever combination that laid me up until the end of Wednesday.   My son Vinny got pink eye on Thursday.   On Wednesday around 4pm, I returned a call to my employer that I had missed earlier.  I won’t name the employer or the person who called me out of personal class but if you had paid attention to previous blogs or know me the company isn’t too hard to fathom.   I was told on the phone by the person that hired me that I was being let go because it wasn’t a good fit.  This didn’t immediately register.  Maybe it was the sickness clogging my mental digestion area, but I just couldn’t believe it.  I just left a previous employer for this job thinking it was stable and long term.   I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my struggles adapting to this picking environment.  Any warehouse operation is a delicate precise arrangement.  It’s not a piece of cake as some would assume.   However, I did nothing to warrant a suspension nor a discharge.  This rocked me because I didn’t expect it.  It did because I had NO WARNING.  
This was a mom and pop operation, a family owned company with class and dignity.  This wasn’t McDonalds or Fed Ex.  It’s amazing that certain employers don’t give a lick of shit about the employee they are letting go once he is gone.  They forget he has a family to support and a way of life.  Once I stop working for them, I could be building bombs in Iraq for all they know.  It’s a cutthroat business ANYWHERE you go in this 2013 moving world.  The people that hired me three months ago and fired me Wednesday aren’t evil people.  It just isn’t that simple.  These are business oriented folks who just made a cut and a reload of their roster.  That’s fine.  It just deserved a fucking warning.  I am still flaming.
There is a particularly distinct anger that comes with getting let go.  Hopefully most of you don’t know this pain.  Hopefully you never do.  I found out how that feels this week.  You have a life in a certain arena of success and forward moving mobility and then you have half of that.  None of it.  I had a job and my family was slowly climbing out of debt and coming back to the even point.  A point where we don’t have to go paycheck to paycheck.  Now we are back up shit creek with one paddle.   Thankfully my wife is a kickass saleswoman and could sell silverware to gold diggers.  We have some money in certain places.  We will be alright.  We have only been taking the punches and moving forward for two years now.  Since Vinny was born, nothing has been easy.   Him in the hospital twice in his first 2 months.  Both of us out of work for months.  Losses in the family.  Changing situations.  Typical situations for these typical times with painfully few choices.  Life still throws the hardest punches and always will.   I am in the ring and on my feet.  
That was my week.  How was yours?  While you rummage together your thoughts, let me unload mine in a little unplugged random roving here.  
*The Cards lost to the Rangers Friday night because Mike Matheny showed that fatherly side with young pitcher Tyler Lyons again.  Instead of sending him down to work on his pitching after losing to the Marlins, he let him take on the Rangers.  After the offense spotted him a 3-0 lead, he handed it back and got only 5 outs before leaving.   This was a bad call.  Lyons has been sent down.  It’s a week late.  Never mind me.  Matheny is a genius.(Yep, that just happened).
*Joe Kelly deserves the 5th spot for a little while.   It seems like the whole team and fan base forgot what Kelly did in 2012.  Started admirably for 3 months while Lance Lynn worked through baby issues and Waino was fighting through his first season back after TJS.  Kelly did great work in the rotation and pen but is a forgotten man in 2013.   That is due to some great new pitching talent but still a bad thing.  On June 5th, he made a brilliant 5.2 IP spot start against Arizona.  Last night he pitched 5 innings, rescued the rest of the bullpen and gave the team a chance to win.  If the team wants Michael Wacha to stay in Memphis and needs more work from Carlos Martinez, let JOE assume the role.  He has done it before and done it well.  Logical, right?
*Allen Craig is a freakish RBI machine and only makes the mind wander how many he can drive in this year if he stays upright.   Every time runners are in scoring position, Craig is a lethal weapon.  As lethal as Yadi Molina.   He has a way of getting a big hit and driving the ball to all fields.  This guy came up 3 years ago with a very long swing and looked to be Joe Mather like.  In 2011, he got some playing time and started cranking.   In 2012, he backed up the talk with more performance.  This year, he is becoming a freak.  He is hitting .313 with 6 HR and 57 RBI and 87 hits.   He will strike out 100 times, but what run producing bat won’t?   This is the stat that drives me insane.   Craig is hitting .486 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, going 18-37 and driving in 27 runners.  That’s just freakish.  
*Remember when Yadi Molina was hitting .219 in the regular season in 2006 and a weak hitting defensive genius behind the plate?   7 years later and he is hitting .364 and driving in runners all over the field and smacking the ball to all fields.   I forgot how long his road was at the plate until I realized he wasn’t always a wizard at the plate.  He used to struggle.  Joe Strauss wrote about this in Thursday’s paper.  It’s a fascinating subject to dive into.  The evolution of Yadi’s plate approach and I will add this.  He does look a lot more relaxed up there, especially in 2 strike counts.  It’s like he knows in his mind there are no strikes and the pitcher has nothing on him.  
*Eventually, he may falter, but let’s enjoy the wonderfully surprising Edward Mujica train as far as it goes.  He is 21-21 in save opportunities/conversions and turning heads.  He goes out there, throws strikes, throws the nasty splitter and gets outs.   He is like Ryan Franklin in a way, but I think he is more nasty than Franklin.   Mujica has better movement on all of his pitches and not just one.   He’s the unsung hero of this 2013 season.  
*I don’t care how great Boggs, Rzep, and Salas pitch in the minors.  They have no spot on this club.  There’s no way you send down anybody on the MLB roster(outside of Keith Butler) for either one of those lost causes.  Let them go.  
*Steve Austin is on twitter and quite frankly sounds as badass as he looks.  He is associated with some program called Redneck Island and recommends it after telling us, “I am taking my sorry ass to the gym.  Delts, Traps, Bis.”  In other words, watch the fuck out gym rats!  Stone Cold is coming to kick some hairy barbecue spiced ass soon.  I propose a Twitter Contest between The Rock and Austin where they trade badass one shot tweets and see who falls.
*I love and use Twitter as much as anybody these days but so many people on there get obsessed with self-analysis.  I tweet about the random thing that might have to do with me but I mostly put out tweets that I know people following me will like.  I call that keeping it real.   Keep it relative.  These sad ass attention hogs that overdo it give Twitter a bad name.
*My colleague Chris McHugh says World War Z is worth checking out.  I guess all the ball sweat put into it by Brad “A semester short of a Journalism degree at MU” Pitt was kind of worth it.  I may have to check it out and add my analysis.  Kind of like a doc needing to see a patient for the final checkoff.  That’s film critic work.  My eyes only.  The Buffa stamp awaits.
*For your money’s worth, go rent The Bourne Legacy on DVD.  Without Damon, Jeremy Renner still makes a hell of a hero and the movie is a kinetic thrill box.  It never stops and provides you with just enough story and action.   There wasn’t just one fucked up scarred nice guy killer in that program.  Renner’s Aaron Cross had the same bunk bed as Bourne, and his story is told here.  Check it out.  Like…NOW!
*I did my first phone interview on Monday with a director and I must say it was a small thrill to talk with a filmmaker.  Antoni Stutz is an indie director who directed Aidan Quinn and Beau Bridges in a little thriller called Rushlights(it wasn’t that great but was easy to digest and had some thrills) but hearing him talk, I got the feeling he is capable of much more.  Antoni is a regular guy trying to pay his rent and make movies.  A good story.  It is posted on my site under Daily Dose.  Check it out.  Next week I am interviewing Virginia Madsen or Darryl Hannah for their new film.  One perk of being a film critic is getting screeners in the mail.  Semi important.  
*Listening to the National right now.  Moody melodic rock with the soulful baritone heavy voice of Matt Beringer providing the moral compass and vocals.  Their new album has a wonderful song called “I Need My Girl” that hits home right now for me.
*Adrian Broner will destroy Paulie Malignaggi in their Showtime fight tonight.  Broner is all power.  Paulie is all flash and dance.  This will end in a TKO.  Stoppage by the 9th round.  Broner is an undefeated young Floyd replica who can hit hard and came up in weight to pound Paulie, a NYC vet who just can’t match the power and speed of his opponent.  He needs to stay in a suit and continue his observing.  Leave the fighting to the real pros. 
*The next movie I will see is White House Down, a thriller with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx which could be a bowl full of summer popcorn fun.   The next movie I look forward to is Wolverine.  Yes, it’s another comic book movie Hugh Jackman’s work as Wolverine, the man afflicted with eternal life as a bad ass avenger with blades coming out of his knuckles, makes the role so easy to love and watch.  In this film he flirts with the chance of having that power taken away and being mortal.  That doesn’t work when bad guys wants to tear him up so conflicting thoughts follow. I am not a diehard lover of the X-Men series but I do love the Wolverine character.  It’s got a credible director(James Mangold) attached and the trailer looks very good.  The last solo Wolverine mission film was no good so this one must improve.  Also, Jackman ate 7 chicken breats a day to get into monstrous shape as the heroic outsider.
*What else?  It’s very warm in St. Louis right now.  Mowing the grass is still only gratifying at the end.  Cars still require gas.  I still love to run outside and not inside.  I have lost more weight just by knowing when to eat and what to eat when I do. It’s simple and doesn’t need to involve counting calories.  Life is just going by.
*The Heat won the NBA championship and I watched the last two games.  I did that because I am a Lebron James fan.  I have liked him since his early Cleveland days because he is exciting to watch.   He turned things around in Game 6 and dominated Game 7.  His haters will hate to understand that he is the biggest reason the Heat pried the championship from San Antonio.  He is the only player to win the Regular Season MVP, Finals MVP and championship TWO seasons in a row.   Ladies and gentlemen, get off his back.  He is legit and will drag the one legged Dwayne Wade and overrated Chris Bosh to at least 1 or 2 more championships.  Miami didn’t buy a championship.  They have play and earn and win every damn game.  Get over it.  
That’s all.  Goodnight.  Thanks for reading.

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