The Bullet Round

With the Blues and Blackhawks waging war today in The Windy City and the home stead dialed down to a quiet roar right now, allow me to fire out a bullet round full of versatile material. Expect everything and wear extra padding if you feel the need. I used to write these once a week, but since my writing is stretched all over the cyber net today I only bang them out once in a while. Here it goes.

  • Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was caught with pine tar on his neck and will miss 10 games, or 2 starts. Pineda is a great young pitcher but felt the need to waste his talents on corrupt material. What a dope. Players continue to look for angles to cheat in a sport that is doing all they can to clean the sport up. No sympathy.
  • The Hawks may be up 3-2 in this series, but I don’t feel like the Blues are really hanging off the edge. This has been a very close series and each team has skin in the game. Chicago is the defending champs and St. Louis is doing all they can to topple the king. I expect a bloody rage fueled Game 6.
  • I like the Henrik Lundqvist commercial with the Rhino racing towards him that explodes into a thousand pucks. He’s a solid goaltender and the spot works very well.
  • The song that plays in the Honda Civic commercial is by a blues group called Vintage Trouble but unfortunately the song isn’t available yet. The band is pretty good.
  • The first time I heard Pharrell’s “Happy” tune was at the Oscars and I loved it. Upon hearing it for the 98th time this past week, I feel like stabbing someone. The radio can be brutal overkill for music. Play something else!
  • I can’t tell you how many goals the Blackhawks have scored this series by flicking the puck at the net from the right point. Yes, it’s 1-0 Hawks in the first period.
  • Bryan Bickell needs to be knocked out. Leave Seabrook alone and knock out this deflection beast in front of Ryan Miller.
  • I swear if I have to see another picture of a dog brutalized from a dog fight I may walk outside my house and challenge the first ugly person to a fist fight. Poor pit bulls being torn apart via fight meant make horrible men money in the gambling trade. Yes, every time this comes to mind I think of a certain QB because when he did this, it made a lot of people think it was cool to do. Michael Vick isn’t the only one but he inspired a lot of others to take it up. Fuck him and them sincerely.
  • I am not a hunter and never will be. Sure, let’s sit in a ditch in the woods with a gun making weird sounds hunting deer when we can buy the meat at the store. Let’s arm the animals instead. If you are going to hunt, use a damn knife. Earn it. Don’t shoot from a distance. That’s coward shit.
  • My friend PJ and I use an old technique called the Edgar Renteria effect and it just worked with The Blues and Oshie. We complain about a player for not contributing and then he scores or gets a hit. It can’t be overdone but when it is used right the damn strategy can’t be beat.
  • Lucas Matthysse won his fight on Saturday night by knocking a guy out in the 5th round. It would be thrilling to match him up against The Russian Rocky Ruslan Provodnikov. Sometimes you have to just lower the hands and bang in the center of the ring. These two fighters don’t allow the sweet science to get in the way of a good old fashioned blood knuckle battle. Boxers train for weeks to get ready for 12 rounds of boxing and why waste that time dancing around the ring. If you have the chin for it, go for the bruise early and often. I hope this fight happens.

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1917 Soundtrack Hits The Live Stage

1888470_985903310420_585129979_nOn Thursday night at The Coliseum in downtown St. Louis, a couple miles from Scottrade Center where playoff hockey was getting fired up, a local band 1917 Soundtrack was starting their live stage experience. The Coliseum is a showcase for a number of artists, featuring painters, models and musicians. In a special event hosted by RAW, an enterprise designed to give indie bands and artists a shot at stardom, 1917 Soundtrack didn’t waste their opportunity. Mario Mathon, Jordan Mays and Amonte Henry hit the stage with precision and verve and had the crowd engaged for their full 30 minute set.  This is the land of the free and home of the independent artists who strive every day to make their next day the moment they take off. All three men work regular everyday jobs and get their feet dirty. That’s the game. Work your way by day and reach towards the future by night. They came to the stage dressed as hardcore blues brother gangsters Thursday, with stylish button up collared shirts and vests to go with shiny slacks. In order to impress, you have to look the part as well. While their sound is still coming together and there were some technical difficulties regarding the vocals, Mathon and company didn’t waste a second Thursday night.
photo (10)Mathon is the true character of the group, a man who uses every inch of the stage to let his body express the words that are flowing from his mouth. He will talk to the audience in between songs, promoting the bands social media pages while he catches his breath before the next song.  Henry is the beast behind the drums, setting up the pace and raising the roof. Off the stage, he is the rock of the group. He holds the three body tripod of musical synergy together.  Mays is the silver lining, playing the guitar like the room and life of the song depended on it. He is a man of few words, a gunslinger with an electric lady in his hands.  With additional help from local musicians, 1917 Soundtrack were playing the first of hopefully many live shows at The Coliseum with many family and friends in tow. The longer they were on stage, the harder it was for faces to keep their eyes off the stage. That’s a true band for you trying to make it big. They draw you in slowly with the performance and lock you in before they exit the stage. With a million different things happening in the room and with competing artists awaiting their chance right off the stage, 1917 Soundtrack played like they didn’t want to leave.

Tonight, they take the stage as the headliner artist at Cicero’s.  1917 Soundtrack will be touring extensively this summer and hopeimage (8)
to hit Las Vegas before they stop. Everything with a local band like this carries the audacity and allure of a dreamer. Mathon, Henry and Mays are making their play to be full time musicians. I can relate to that because I work a 40 hour gig every week while pushing my writing. Without dreams in this life, you may as well lock yourself in a room and throw away the key. You can find love in this life but you need to have something to chase. 1917 Soundtracks chases the dream every time they step on stage, whether it’s The Coliseum, Cicero’s or the Las Vegas strip.

This is the time you want to get in on the act. Follow this band now. Don’t wait until they explode. There isn’t a more special feeling than finding good music. Get out to Cicero’s tonight at 7 p.m. and see what I am talking about.

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The Avenging Filipino

On Saturday night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, Manny Pacquiao got a little redemption. While a heavy majority of the boxing united will tell you what they saw wasn’thi-res-c9c6b436459206356364d133e9d9f3fe_crop_north surprising, vindication came in the form of a majority decision for the W.B.O. champ. Pacquiao didn’t destroy Timothy Bradley in their rematch, but he did more than enough to convince three judges this time that there was a clear victor inside the ring.

So many people get down on Pacquiao because of the past three years and the events that took place. After looking unbeatable for six years, he has run into a bit of turbulence. First, he won a messy undeserved third bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. He then took on Bradley and lost a controversial decision. A fourth fight with Marquez brought one of the most brutal six round fights that ended with the right counter hook heard around the world as Pacquiao’s career and consciousness temporarily left his side. An easy win over Brandon Rios in November set up the Bradley rematch.

For the first six rounds, a different Pacquiao was in the ring. A fighter who was taking his time and not chasing his opponent around the ring, Manny was biding his time. Bradley landed the cleaner shots and seemed to be riding to a decision win before Pacquiao ended the sixth round with a flurry of punches. In the seventh round, Pac Man took over. He hit Bradley with a flurry of punches in the middle of the round that left Bradley dazed and confused. After surviving the round, Desert Storm Bradley came out and ate more wicked combinations. Vintage Pacquiao was settling into the fight as the tenth round came into play. Any time Bradley cared to stick his head into the cookie jar, Pacquiao snapped his head back.

While he has lost power over the past couple of years(the reasons can be divided up between PEDs usage or plain old 36 years of boxing), Pacquiao can still box, use his hand speed and take a punch. He has an underrated chin and is relentless in a boxing ring. He is going down swinging if all else fails. Bradley simply couldn’t match that. A very good boxer in his own right, Bradley couldn’t figure out a good strategy against a guy who could punch, take a shot and move around and be crafty enough late in the fight. The fight wasn’t as easy to call as the first go around, but I easily scored the fight 7-5 for PAC and could see a 8-4 score as well due to a few toss up rounds.

The career of Pacquiao will continue as he awaits the winner of a May 17th match between Marquez and Mike Alvarado. He can also consider a fight with fellow sparring partner Ruslan Provodnikov. The one thing that won’t happen is a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and for some fight fans that is hard to swallow. 4 years after the idea seemed golden, these two men aren’t going to step into a ring. Floyd can talk all he wants and Manny can say his phone line is open, but the circumstances force these two worldwide personalities apart. Floyd and Golden Boy hate dealing with Bob Arum and Top Rank, and since Floyd left HBO for Showtime, the chances for a fight climbed into the ground six feet deep.

The most important thing is a fighter found redemption inside the ring. Pacquiao got tuned up for the bout with Rios and that long journey culminated in a decisive victory Saturday night. His future is rumored to include 2 more years of boxing with an eye on the Senate seat in the Philippines. Pac will rest up, welcome his fifth child into the world this summer and consider his options. The one thing he proved this past weekend is that not only does he still have the skills to compete with the elite in boxing but he has the hunger to keep fighting. Pacquiao is far from done in the world of boxing. Saturday night, he proved he’s still got “it”.

 

Captain America: Winter Soldier/Divergent Movie Reviews

My takes on Captain America 2 and Divergent.

It’s time for a Dose of Buffa at the movies my friends. Quick, to the point and a perspective that demands attention. The pharmacy is open. Here are my latest reviews.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: THE WINTER SOLDIER

captain-america-winter-soldier-poster-evans-610x872Setup-The sequel to The First Avenger and post Avengers new Marvel film finds our titular hero, Steve Rogers, having finally adjusted to the modern world. He is working with SHIELD yet knows where the line between right and wrong is. That stance is tested by Robert Redford’s new executive at the Headquarters, who wants to send Captain after criminals before they commit a crime. That means crossing a line with the world’s privacy.  Along with Black Widow, Captain has to find a way to do the right thing without stepping over people’s freedom. When he is faced with a new enemy who carries a familiar face from his past, Rogers/Captain must battle every single inner demon he has in order to save the world.

My Take-This is a very well done film with a full backstory and plot set up to put one of Marvel’s best heroes in the mix for a great adventure. Chris Evans continue to command the screen as Rogers/Captain America and the supporting cast does a fine job as well. One of the best performances comes from Robert Redford’s tricky new suit who wants to twist the idea of good and bad with a strategy that is very similar to the one the real life government is thinking about putting on us. By installing a real world plot device in a super hero film, directing duo Anthony and Joe Russo heighten the action and provide more than just an experience.

Do you want to see this movie if you hate comic book movies? Yes and no. There are comic book elements brought to the big screen here as well as a plot you could see in any other action thriller. I think this sequel improves on the first film because of the relationship Evans and Sebastian Stan(playing the villainous Winter Soldier) create on screen as two men standing on separate sides of the law yet sharing a link from the past. Their connection isn’t a mere setup but more fully fleshed out here and by the end of the film resonates with any person who ever lost a friend to the dark side.

The supporting cast is solid. Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous and convincing as the Black Widow, kicking ass while conveying a mysterious loneliness with her character. The most sublime part of the Marvel films is showing us how alone and sad these heroes are. They fight because of their unique skills and hunger to do right, but deep down they are very isolated from the rest of the world. Frank Grillo creates his usual maniac presence, playing a good man twisted by circumstance who will play a larger role in the next sequel. As noted earlier, Redford is money and Samuel L. Jackson turns in assured work once again as Nick Fury.

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Pacquiao-Bradley II Preview

Two years ago, Manny Pacquiao climbed into the ring against Timothy Bradley and was ready to hand the undefeated fighter his first loss. Over the course of 12 rounds,Pacquiao_Bradley_face2face-farina Pacquiao did more than enough to deliver on that bet. Any time a fighter takes on another over money in front of a big crowd, he is making a bet that he can beat that guy and prevail.  In order to understand the stakes at hand this weekend in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand for the rematch, you have to understand the beginning. Let’s roll back.

On that hot June night, Pacquiao seemed to be dominating Bradley. Whatever Pacquiao had lost in power he made up for with speed and a constant narrow angle attack that few fighters can escape. Bradley suffered a pair of foot injuries and went into survival mode midway through the fight. He connected with his own punches but neither of them caused Manny to stop the attack or get truly fazed. He laughed them off. Bradley, slipping and off balance from the beginning, simply didn’t do enough to win the fight. He lost. It was clear, logical and coherent. My two year old son could have told you Pacquiao won. After 12 rounds, all Pacquiao could do was look at himself and ask if he did enough.

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One of the Filipino’s shortcomings has nothing to do with boxing skill and everything to do with compassion. Manny is a dedicated congressman and supports his home town country of the Philippines with constant charity and acts of care. Sometimes, that care and compassion sneaks into the ring and infects his fights. Far too often since Pac found god and Congress a few years ago he has encountered trouble in finishing opponents. He doesn’t pound fighters until they drop. He’s a predator for 7-8 rounds and then recedes because he doesn’t want to hurt the other man. That is fine if this were golf or bowling. This is boxing, Pac. Attack, attack and attack again until the other guy hits the canvas. If you don’t attack like that, the judgement is left to people who have never fought and they could betray the shit out of you.

What happened two years ago? Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Bradley and lost his belt. He lost a lot more respect when he walked into a majestic Juan Manuel Marquez right hand but the decision handed down by two judges threw Pacquiao’s career into a tailspin. He deserved the win that night but held back late in the fight and therefore left open the opportunity that he could be robbed. A man once said, let your fists be the judges. On April 12th, Manny needs to follow this mantra to the tee and back.

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What Happened To The St. Louis Blues?

The Blues are in serious trouble as they attempt to find their footing heading into the playoffs.

It’s official. The St. Louis Blues are in serious trouble. It was only 36 hours ago that I wrote a post on Arch City Sports about the team simply needing to find an energy and58f1c76bbe9b420ab3fcee80d69ddcec-bea9a0d12fd24044b2ddc20f22f06f68-5 get back to their winning ways before the playoffs started next week. I went to a movie and came out to find that the Blues had lost 4-1 in lackluster style to the Washington Capitals(minus Halak in net). Alexander Ovechkin came in and draped the net in red Russian fury, scoring once to start things off and assisting on another goal. The Blues were beaten again at Scottrade Center and have scored only four goals in their last 4 games there. Also, the Ducks hopped over the Blues tonight with 112 points to take over ownership of the Western Conference with 3 games to go.

What is going on with this team? Let me run down a quick list of potential issues and ideal remedies.

*GET A SHOT ON GOAL. Let’s not speak lightly here. The Blues defensemen and forwards are horrible at putting pucks on net. If it isn’t Alex Pietrangelo air mailing a slap shot from the point into the upper left boards or Alexander Steen unleashing a wildly inaccurate slap shot, the team simply isn’t hitting the targets. They are ranked 24th in the NHL when it comes to getting shots on net. We want to. We try. We simply can’t. Change that.

*It’s been a while since this team scored a lot of goals over a decent multi-game stretch. Sure, they have won a decent amount and risen to the top of the division via fine defense and goaltending, but the Blues aren’t scoring furiously anymore. As nice as it is to see T.J. Oshie make a fool out of a goalie in shootouts, it would be swell to see this team take charge this last week and put a few pucks in the net.

*When you have trouble beating teams like Buffalo, how do you expect to fare against Colorado and Chicago? The Blues peaked in the early part of the year, went to Sochi, came back half asleep, woke up briefly and have now fallen off a cliff into pure despicable solitude. If you know a way out, comment below. I’d love to hear it.

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Remembering Troy

Every home opener at Busch reminds me of a fallen friend.

When the Cardinals home opener rolls around, one thing instantly comes to my mind. My good friend Troy Siade. Troy and I met while working the Manual Scoreboardphoto 3 around 2002 and instantly hit it off. If hitting it off meant giving each other as much shit and trouble as we could. Two peas in a pod on a versatile group of scoreboard degenerates getting paid to watch baseball games, Troy and I were alike in many ways. We were loud, blunt, dirty and diehard Cardinal fans. When we weren’t scaring scoreboard visitors with our vicious ice cube battles or firing insults in each other’s direction, we were hanging shoulder to shoulder watching the game talking about the action. Troy was a joker on the surface, but deep down he was one of the best guys I have ever come to know on this earth. He was caring, devoted and modest behind all the loud talking exterior. The reason I think about Troy so much on opening day here in St. Louis is because 10 years ago, on April 23rd, Troy passed away at the age of 38 to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The last time I saw him was on opening day earlier that month.

Troy was a good looking guy. Full head of dark hair, huge smile, big laugh and a walk that even the proudest gangster would fail to imitate. When Troy lived, he was on top of the world. We were living inside his movie set. He called the shots, told the jokes and made us laugh all night long. When the Cards blew a game late, he would shout and pace the scoreboard like a mad professor looking for the new theory of relativity. I remember a car drive with him that involved a massive thunderstorm and Troy slamming on the steering wheel extremely hard because he wanted to get back to his house so he could show off his home to another scoreboard friend and myself. Troy was an entertainer at all times. Part of the reason I miss him to this day has everything to do with need and less to do with baseball. Troy had an energy. A will to pull a smile out of a dark corner or take the mood of a room and toss it through the ceiling. When you work 70-75 games of a 82 game home schedule, there can be some dull nights. If Troy was there, the forecast called for a good time no matter what the score turned out to be.

STINSON-R6-033-15cBeing the outgoing personality that he was, Troy was able to keep certain things private. Many of the scoreboard guys didn’t even know he had an illness or disease until a year before he passed. He didn’t want us to know. The comedian doesn’t let the curtain fall to show it all. Troy only let us know when he was getting very seriously ill. Cancer can be a deadly quick moving disease. It can come in and smash everything within months. Troy was here, alive and well, towards the winter and end of a rather forgettable 2003 season that saw no playoffs and a horrible September series in Wrigley that had Troy and I ranting for an entire homestand. Troy was okay then. By the beginning of the 2004 season, he was nearly gone.

There are two moments I will never forget with Troy. Okay, three. I will warn you they start happy and end sadder than shit.

The first was that stormy night back in the summer of 2003 he invited me and a friend back to his home to play pool, sit in his Busch Stadium terrace reserved seats he had installed in his basementphoto 2 and listened to rock n’ roll while drinking like fishes. The Cards beat the Orioles 8-5 with an Albert Pujols three run bomb. We crashed at Troy’s and went to the ballpark the next day. It was perfectly Vegas behavior. It was a night I will never forget.

The second was a random day where Troy showed up at my apartment and asked my wife and I to dinner spur of the moment. He had just left work, suit and tie on, and wanted to take us out. He cared like that. He hung out with people he liked and loved. My wife got a kick out of him and we really wanted to go. In a decision I will regret to the day I die, I turned Troy down. We had plans with my parents to go to dinner. Plans I should have broke. Plans I should have shredded. I will never forget the look in his face when I said we couldn’t. Whether they admit it or not, a light does flicker out in someone’s eyes when they are let down. He reached out and I said no. I hate that move to this day. My first back in time fix job.

The third was seeing him for the last time. It was opening day, 2004, about three weeks before he passed. He didn’t want ANYONE coming to see him. Especially the ones he knew and liked. He didn’t want us to see him in a weakened state. I didn’t follow those orders. I went down to the field box level and saw him. His flock of hair was gone. His smile was flexing yet fading. He was slowly leaving. I shook his hand and gave him a brief hug. I don’t remember how I departed or if I shed a tear. Maybe I don’t want to remember all of it. It was tough.

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