The Rum Diary’s Spell

I am here to tell you The Rum Diary is a very good fucking movie.  A concoction rarely made in Hollywood but quietly breeding on the hills outside the cage.  First, let me tell you what I am doing here.   I love the movies for very easy reasons.   The escape, the delightful mind game and the aftermath that leaves you in a wash of amazement.  When done right, movies can transport you the fuck out of a hot, exhausting summer that’s only get revved up.   The Rum Diary, adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s story about a crusading journalist going up against real estate kingpins in Puerto Rico, is one of those ridiculously hypnotic experiences that reminds you of the imagination lacking in Hollywood on a full time basis.  While Christopher Nolan creates masterpieces, The Rum Diary tells a different story.   A tale of hard fought journalism.  Johnny Depp is the reason the movie was made.  He found it in Thompson’s home a little after Hunter committed suicide and brought it to his Hollywood suits.   He got it made and the story wasn’t changed in any way.   Thompson’s dirty rotten bastards story line is kept intact and for good reason.  If you can dig down deep into the plot full of rum, bad decisions, dangerous women and consequences followed by serious action, you will find a lesson with a slow pulse.  As Thompson’s muse in the Rum Diary, Depp’s Paul Kemp explains to his readers, “There will be ink, full of rage.”    When you like a movie, you walk the streets explaining how great it can be and try to convince people to see through the crazy subplots and recognize a moral.   Some movies need a little time and patience.   They don’t deliver the goods in the first half of the movie yet struggle to keep the stranglehold on the audience.  It’s not easy to do anymore.   Instead of dusting off fine old books and putting them in motion, Hollywood wants to dust off a franchise or do another remake.   Where’s the creativity gone?  People do their best work when they don’t seem to care as much what the entire world will think of their product.  We need more renegades in Hollywood.  Bruce Robinson and Johnny Depp take that leap of faith in this movie.   A mad man tale about taking your last shot at redemption.  How many armies can a single man build?

In the movie, Paul Kemp comes to Puerto Rico looking for work with a newspaper to mull his writers block on a novel.   Kemp is a drunk and a seeker.   He moves with the current of crazy addictions.   He gets involved with the wrong people, makes a bad friends, and finds himself being a hired writing gun for a real estate shark to steal an island for hotel construction.  Soon enough, full of booze, drugs and paranoid momentum, he finds himself coming out of his haze and realizing the story he must write.  Too bad the paper he works at is closing up shop due to a lack of creativity.  Kemp finds himself in a state of moral clarity yet sees his hands tied.   All the while, falling in love with a beautiful woman named Chenault(Amber Heard, classy and sexy as ever).   Depp is the perfect man to step into Thompson’s world of madness.   In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he played a bumbling writer on a road trip to hell.   Here, he plays a man pulling everything together at the wrong time.  A man who wants to fight the good fight and only needs a barrel of ink, willing eyes and paper to make it happen.  Johnny Depp hasn’t aged a bit as he turns 49 this year and he is a uniquely versatile actor because he can play any role and seem convincing.   He can go on rants and sound profound while looking out of sorts.   He can do it all and isn’t afraid of any choices.   The man who plays a cutthroat pirate can also play a lawyer and an alcoholic writer.  I admire him as much as I like him, because he doesn’t fake anything.   He was a close friend of Hunter S. Thompson’s and got the movie made to honor his memory.    Thompson was a different kind of journalist.  A gonzo journalist.  A form of reporting where the reporter inserts himself into the story to make the idea seem more interesting and wild.   Thompson didn’t just write stories.  He lived them.  Every damn moment.  I like that.  Calling his work an acquired taste is like calling whiskey a muscle relaxer.  It doesn’t begin to explain the appeal or ultimate delight.

The Rum Diary is worth watching because it’s different, doesn’t answer all the questions, nor does it feature characters who we can nail down inside 5 minutes.   It’s original, fresh and quietly provocative.   At the heart of it is the battle for the soul of true journalism and the unfortunate state of the newspapers at the moment.  For a movie taking place in 1960, The Rum Diary tells a timely tale and asks a good question.  Do we still tell the news or merely print it?  Somewhere, Aaron Sorkin would appreciate this movie.

Watch the movie or buy the book.   Find the soundtrack as well.  They are all worth seeking out.

“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
― Hunter S. ThompsonThe Rum Diary

-D.L.B.

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The Independent Thinker

This is the one you take right before you go to bed.   The quick dose of unfiltered opinion that doesn’t have an overall meaning but carries enough narrative strength to give off the impression something productive happened.  Ideas Up for Blogging Auction.

As I watch Robert Downey Jr. take me through Sherlock Holmes 2 scene by scene on this Blu-Ray feature, allow me to fire off a few things here.

  • The Cardinals get a big series against a bad team.    Beating the horrible Rockies 3 games out of 4 doesn’t constitute a nation wide address, but in my eyes, the Cards are learning to win at home and beating this team down is what playoff teams do.   Win, win, and win again.   Losing a single game to the Rockies hurt enough, so the series had to be taken.   It’s a huge win for many reasons.  Lance Lynn reminded you why it’s okay to let Chris Carpenter(more on him in a few) go for the season and why he is a National League All Star.  He pitched 6 gutsy innings without his best stuff and stopped a nasty 3 game losing streak.  He has 11 wins before the All Star break.  Without his contributions alone, the Cards are a bad team.  He passed the test today.   The test of falling from grace and coming back to life again.  Lynn has hit an innings wall yet he can still pitch.  Carlos Beltran has 60 RBI and leads the National League.  Jason Motte has 19 saves(albeit theatrical ones) and finished the job tonight in an appearance that wasn’t entirely needed but I’m all for padding closer’s stats.   At the end of the night, the Cards were 5 games over .500 and close to the Pirates and Reds in the standings.   Let’s look closer.

*5 Cardinals are all stars.   Yes, it’s not right that the All Star Game decides home field advantage in the playoffs but that is the way it is at the moment and fighting over it only loses oxygen so let’s pass it up the fuck up.  The All Star is important because it gave the Cards the home advantage over the Rangers and played a huge part in our triumph in 2011.  The fact that David Freese sneaked in yesterday only makes our chances better.   The fan voting got Pablo Sandoval into the mix over David Wright and that is downright stupid.   However, fans decide one game a year and it will never change.   Freese has solid numbers and deserved a spot.   He is hitting .286 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI.  His numbers are second only to Wright.  I don’t need to hear anywhere that he doesn’t deserve it.   Freese is a hometown kid, a World Series hero and a solid third baseman.   Beltran, Lynn, Yadi Molina and Rafael Furcal join him in an excellent representation(all fan voting and no Tony La Russa selections) for the Birds.  Tuesday will be an exciting night to see TLR madness unfold one more time and hopefully see The NL bring it home.

*Chris Carpenter is done.   We all knew it.  Now it’s time to get over it.   Carpenter wasn’t going to pitch through a nerve injury in his shoulder.   No way.   Shut him down, get it fixed and have ready for 2013.  We can all whine how unfortunate it is and how Carp’s body is made out of parts these days, but that is the nature of the business.   We all know what he can do when healthy and if you forgot already, revisit September and October of 2011.  He threw 4 complete games in September, including the last game of the season to send us into the postseason.  He outdueled Roy Halladay to win the division series with a complete game dominating performance.   He pitched the Cards past the Brewers and Rangers in route to a World Series title.   Carpenter will be back and will be effective again.   After 6 surgeries, I can’t count the guy out.

*Speaking of persistent pitchers, Jason Isringhausen is still playing and he is doing it in LA with Albert Pujols as a member of the Angels.    Years after being cast out by Cardinals fans after a disastrous 2008 season, Izzy is getting paid to come out of the bullpen and pitch effectively.   He got his 300th save in New York last year and is in the American League this season and its a courageous body of work.   Izzy’s six surgeries(3 on his right arm) usually knock out baseball players.   Izzy plays on because he loves the game and not just because he wants a paycheck.  He is the exception to the rule and proof that a heart never stops ticking until the owner is ready.    Izzy is all heart and will.

*Allen Craig is officially the most underrated power hitter in baseball.   43 games, 13 home runs and 43 RBI to go with two stints on the disabled list.   Craig continues to hit, produce and convince me he can be a full time player.   His rise along with Jon Jay’s play in center are proof that the Cardinals farm system is able to produce talent that needs a few tweaks but can be highly productive.  Craig is the reason Lance Berkman’s 12 million dollar salary can go away in 2013.   That’s savings and wins at the same time.

*Kyle Lohse is having a helluva walk year.   8-2 with a decent ERA and a consistency lacking in the previous 3 years.   He has been pitching solid since the middle of 2011.   He  was the best pitcher in 2011 overall and is doing it again this season with a sharpened array of pitches and the intelligence to know when to throw them.  Good for him and us.    Do you keep him after the season if he keeps this up?  Sure, but not at 4 years.   You only walk down that road once.

*Matt Holliday deserved to be an All Star over Jay Bruce and all you have to do is look at the stats.   Since April 19th, Holliday has been on fire and I love to see his critics in St. Louis crawl under a fucking rock when he plays so damn well.   The 17 million dollar bargain(see Carl Crawford’s deal in Boston and Jayson Werth in Washington) continues to hit everything.   He collected 2 more hits last night and 2 RBI.   He now has 14 HR and 56 RBI to go with a .318 batting average.  In his last 10 games, he is hitting .459.   He hits everything hard, hustles like he is trying to stay on the team and has improved in the outfield.   Holliday is the hardest working guy on the team, and all you have to do is look at his jersey to see why.

*Tony La Russa can stir the pot without being the manager of any team.   His All Star omissions of “kicking impossible” Johnny Cueto irked Dusty Baker, even though Tony selected Bruce over Holliday.   Here is the deal.   La Russa is a sure fire Hall of Famer and Baker isn’t.   Dusty has never won the World Series because his teams simply weren’t good enough and he has no clue on how to push his team past limits.   Could Dusty juggle 14 starting pitchers and lose a player in 2002 and propel his team to the pennant?  No way.   Dusty is a jealous old hack who is envious of what La Russa has accomplished.  I hope Tony sent Dusty a fuck you card telling him the 10 reasons why he is managing the All Star game for the third time in Cardinal red and Dusty is on team #3 trying to get there for the first time.

*The Bullpen is the Achilles heel of this team.  Pure and simple.  The rotation has pitched well in the past month and over the course of the season.   The bullpen is the team giving up leads, allowing runs late and giving off an uncertainty that leaves a nasty after taste in a fan’s mind.   I feel safe with no one in the pen right now.  It doesn’t matter how the starters or offense do if a bullpen can’t hold a lead.  The Cardinals have lost a ton of one run games lately.   Ask me what the biggest need is and its bullpen help at the deadline.

*Whether or not the Cards need a starter is up to Jaime Garcia.   If his time table is positive for a return in August, then we don’t need a starter.   If it’s delayed or uncertain, find an arm.  Carpenter is down.   Lynn, Wainwright, Lohse, Westbrook and Joe Kelly are in.   They are doing a fine job and holding up well into the middle of the season.   However, Lynn and Waino’s work load might reach a questionable limit soon.   John Mozelaik needs to keep a look out for an arm.   I am not talking about Zach Greinke or Cole Hamels.  It will be a low hanging fruit probably, which explains my need to examine the area before acting quickly.  I have a bad feeling Jon Jay will be trade bait and not Shelby Miller.

*Right after the All Star break, we take on the Reds for three games in Cincinnati.  A huge series.  The Cardinals are 2.5 games behind the Pirates, who own a 2 game lead over the Reds.   We have 6 games against the Pirates in August, but here is what we need to do.   Be a better team at home.  We are only 21-19 at home and for a team classically strong on home turf, that number is downright atrocious.  Get it together at Busch.

Moving on while I can hold off my baseball addiction meds.

  • The Blues signed David Perron to a four year deal worth 15 million, in a move that signifies hope and assurance.   Perron missed 90 games due to a head injury and the Blues showing the faith to lock him up for four years at nearly 4 million per season is a good risk for the franchise.  Perron scored 21 goals in only 50 games and is a difference maker on the ice.  This is his middle contract and a good shot to see what he brings now that he has security.  I always said the young three were going to have to show something new and Perron is easily the sharpest of the Berglund-Oshie-Perron combo.   Berglund got a 2 year deal before 2011-2012 and Oshie is up for a new deal at the moment.   My feeling is that The Blues will hand Oshie a 3 year deal worth 3.5 million annually.   He is still young, relatively cheap so its easier to keep him than lose him.  However, Oshie may resist a long term deal, reach for another 1 year deal only because he would be a restricted free agent after the 2012-2013 season and get the kind of contract Perron received or better elsewhere.

*The Blues also won’t be making any huge signings this offseason but will probably trade for help.   Bobby Ryan and Shane Doan are two creatively sound options for GM Doug Armstrong to reach for.   Ryan gives you the goal scorer that is needed and a young player with years ahead of him if the Ducks decide to dangle him out the window.   Doan is a proven scorer who can fit in well with this team.   A top line defenseman is also desirable but looking for one that works isn’t easy in this thin market.   After the 2012-2013 season, the Blues lose a ton of payroll and face a better market.    It’s interesting to imagine what is going on in the mind and mobile device of Armstrong, President John Davidson and Owner Tom Stillman.   The Blues can afford to lose Matt D’Agostini and Jamie Langenbrunner if it means acquiring some younger more talented help.   The Blues are almost there when it comes to being a legit Cup threat.

*Elsewhere in hockey, Sidney Crosby and The Penguins make a ridiculous wager of the bank and the soul with a 12 year deal, The Minnesota Wild make their Miami Heat move and sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and Martin Brodeur makes the right decision to end his career in New Jersey and stay away from The Blackhawks.  Who gives out 10-12 year deals in a contact sport?  I laugh at teams like the Penguins giving a concussion prone superstar a 12 year deal.   The Wild have to earn it now that they are paper threats.   Brodeur going to the Blackhawks would be like Pujols leaving the Cardinals, which is not classy at all.

  • The Rams have absolutely nothing going on but offseason shop talk.   Bradford’s future is being stripped and remodeled every day on NFL prime time but what is the difference if you have nothing to go off.   Bradford enjoyed a decent if not great debut season, got banged up and looked horrible in his second season and now has his third offensive coordinator overseeing the operation.   What’s not to love?
  • What needs to be watched in theaters?  After making another plug for my website, http://www.film-addict.com, I will tell you The Amazing Spider Man was a solid reboot and erases my hurtful memories of Tobey Maguire as Spider Man and gives Emma Stone another showcase.   Oliver Stone’s Savages is an intoxicating trip through the sweetness and bitter regret of the drug business.   Call Stone a risky attention hogging filmmaker, but isn’t that the point?   When he swings at something, he always has two hands on the bat.  Ted is the best comedy of the year because it handles a risky concept with the ease and skill of a pro.  Seeking A Friend At the End of the World is for the hopeless romantics who need a little breath of fresh air and works so well because Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are brilliant.
  • The Dark Knight Rises gets closer and closer to my eyes.   I have a very evident and vocal boner for this movie.   Nolan’s Batman films are so well done and fascinating to watch because he injects a timely message into each of them and makes you think.  The fierce ideal that good and bad aren’t simply black and white sides in this world.   There’s a gray area in those labels that is harder to fit into a neat realm than people give it credit for.   Nolan isn’t afraid to shed lights on our darkest traits.   Greed, power, ability, responsibility, regret, revenge and the darkness in each of us that is noticeable if not always engaged.
  • My son is a fighter.  Vinny beat the shit out of a kid in the gym daycare this week and I am part proud and part scared.   Is this the life a parent hates to foresee?  Being the parent who gets called about your son’s violence towards others and not the other way around.   Vinny is a monster for a 9 month old.  He is 24 pounds, all baby muscle, can stand on his own, crawl like a snake and do things other newbies simply can’t.   He didn’t just pounce on another 9 month old and throw some punches.  He had the tenacity to be separated, fake going for another toy and pounce on the kid again before being separated for good.   Vinny was up for a play and the kid wasn’t, and the result was clear.  My kid is a tough little bastard and not to be reckoned with.  Welcome to my new challenge.   Kids challenge your endurance in every way possible.
  • TV Section 

*The Newsroom on HBO gets picked up for a second season and after 2 hours, I can easily see why.  The show works and is a timely series.  Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue and monologues for television like David Mamet does for films.   People don’t speak this clear, proud, real or fast in real life so we appreciate it on a screen.  The interactions between Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson make the show for me.  An aging wolf talking to a seasoned pack leader.

*True Blood finally becomes “must watch” television for me in season 5.    Why?  Eric and Bill are finally teaming up instead of going head to head, which is stupid because Eric is so much older.   Alcide is finally getting his shot with Sookie, which needed to happen 2 seasons ago.   The show has a legit, entertaining bad guy in Christopher Merloni’s vampire instead of a lame witch, ferry or refugee.   Most of all, characters are evolving and showing new shades in it’s fifth round.  Count me in.

  • Boxing Recommendation-The reason a fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto could qualify as the fight of the year.   Young gun versus smart veteran.   Boxers turn into legends because they are smart fighters and know how to go about their business.  Canelo, the young Mexican champ with atom bombs for fists, needs a challenge and the proud Puerto Rican fighter Cotto can give it to him.   Cotto has a brilliant record and career of taking the tough fights and producing entertaining slug fests.   His only three losses came in tainted fashion against Antonio Margarito and losses to the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport in Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio.   Canelo has made a slow rise to more stiff competition, brushing off Shane Mosley in May and now needs a legit opponent.  Cotto could bring the fight to his doorstep in September now that the mentally unfit Victor Ortiz went down with a broken jaw.
  • Music Area-Band of Skulls are the one band you haven’t heard about who have two brilliant albums.  Punk rock done right.  Check out their live version of “Lay My Head Down” from their latest album, Sweet Sour.
The Buffa Rundown-Random Sentences
  • Emma Stone’s appeal lies in something deeper than beauty or skill.   Her presence can make any film better.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorcing isn’t a huge deal folks.  It happens all the time in Hollywood.   Let’s not trash Cruise’s beliefs or Holmes’ need to get out.   Scientology isn’t any crazier a religion or notion than believing one man climbed up atop a hill and laid down a set of commandments or believing in little angels flying around.  I hate it when the public instantly trashes the more popular or different thinking party.   Grow up my friends.
  • Traveling to different movie theaters is a fun experience that needs to be taken by any true cinema fan.   Plan your next trip to cinematic paradise by checking out our cinema spotlights on film-addict.
  • Movie adaptations from books are best being made differently than the book.   Who wants to read a reel for reel copy from a book?  The cinema is made for reinvention and imagination so let’s not cry over little details.   Movies are books in motion and it should be kept that way.   It’s impossible to please the book lovers so I implore all filmmakers to not even walk down that road.
  • Lee Child didn’t like the studio’s choice to cast Cruise as Jack Reacher in One Shot, one of Child’s books which was made into a movie.   The producers changed the title of the movie to Jack Reacher, kept Cruise and cut Child loose.  Good for both parties.  Child will never like the movie and the studio will never please Child.
  • Working out in this heat is a challenge of the mind and body.   That is all.
  • The secret to the success of the Sherlock Holmes movies lies in two things.   The chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law along with Guy Ritchie’s ability to inject his own brand of madness into the filmmaking process.   I thoroughly enjoy both these movies and await a third entry.
  • I am getting used to 100 degree temperatures.   Bodies can adapt to any kind of weather.
  • Dave Matthews Band lands in St. Louis next Wednesday and I will be there to see them do their thing.   Matthews and company put on a simple pleasure in their shows. Play for 2.5 hours and leave the fans satisfied.   At this point in their career, DMB are fan base pleasing artists searching for quiet innovation in a studio and fulfilling a promise onstage.   They aren’t making ground breaking music.  They are simply extending an open hand to their loyal fans by hitting the road for 6 months and failing to disappoint.  After a year off(mostly) from touring in 2011, DMB’s tour this year is in promotion of their new album, Away From the World, which lands in stores in September.
Well, that about wraps it up.  Thanks for reading and come back for more when the plate is empty.
Goodnight and good luck,
DLB

 

 

 

Unemployment Post From a South City Refugee

Story time…

The other night, I decided to go for a run at midnight.   Granted, the idea didn’t completely drop into my lap with a spur of the moment tea party, but I did suddenly look at my Ipod, the television, a couple friends and thought to myself, “lets get something done tonight”.   There I went, into my running gear(under armour shirt, shorts and blues cap), and out into the mildly warm night on a fresh Friday morning.   I never know how long I am going to run or where I am going.  I leave the house, run up the street and go from there.  Sure, I follow certain patterns and streets when its dark and stay away from the crack houses, but I am free spirit with the feet on my jogs(silent j).   Why am I running outside in the heat?For some reason, I hate running on the treadmill at the gym.   It sucks in every way.  There you are, trying to focus on a machine jammed into a line of 8 machines next to people flinging their sweat and attitudes your way as you try to do something that really isn’t fun at all. I avoid the treadmill like I avoid Chuck in an alley.   I prefer to run outside because I feel like I am going somewhere and not confined to a workout space.  For the people who have treads at home for their own personal use, I hate and envy you bastards.  Back to my running story.  I ended up running 6 miles that morning and when I was done, my body felt like it was ready to break down.   There isn’t a more grueling workout on this planet than running.   It engages the entire body, forces you to find any amount of energy stored in your system and challenges you to be stronger than you really are.  Anybody can go out and run 3 miles.  Get out there and run a little more.   Take it further.  Try to do a little more.    That’s the key to staying in good shape.  Pushing yourself past your own limit.    Guess what?  This isn’t a new theory.  People know this.  Everybody who is out of shape knows how to get into shape.   It’s not a fucking complex idea.   You cut down on your carbs, get on the cardio machines and alter your life a bit.   Do more, eat less.   I hate people who complain about their weight when the solution is so clear.  Stop smoking, stop eating bad food, get out there and run until you drop.   There is a clear reason why The United States’ current generation is one of the fattest, dumbest, naive packs of shitheads ever to walk on solid ground.   Now, on with the rest of my blog.

Now that I have installed a message here, let’s get to more random fare.   Sports, recreation, entertainment, personal thoughts and the usual suspects.

The 2012 Cardinals are a maddening pack of players.   Right when they begin to turn things around, the team subjects their fans to ridiculously ugly baseball.   Inconsistency mixed with inspired play making for a deadly concoction to swallow.   After completing a 6-3 road trip that included a sweep in a revengeful KC sweep and a series win in Miami, the team comes home with a chance to gain ground on the division foes ahead of them with a three game set against Pittsburgh.   They go down 2-0 early, and rally with 5 runs in the 3rd to make it 5-2 and Adam Wainwright is settling in.   He has 5 strikeouts, is cruising through the Bucs lineup and the night seems to obtain a jazzy tune.   Then, the fifth inning drops a grenade on the evening.  With 2 outs, Waino loads the bases with Pirates.   He gives up a 3 run double to tie the game.   The Pirates add two more runs in the 6th and four more runs in the 8th inning.    They end up winning 14-5 and the season long lesson comes to the forefront again.    How long will the Cardinals pitching betray their bats?   For the most part, 2012 has been a success at the plate for the Redbirds.   They have remained in the top 5 in nearly every hitting category.   They produce runs, get on base and give the starters and bullpen second and third lives on any given night.   Against the Marlins on Wednesday, they gave the starter a 2-0 lead in the first.   Joe Kelly blew it but rebounded to pitch 6 solid innings.   The Cards gave the bullpen a 3-2 lead, which Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Sam Freeman went on to give right back.  Take out a series in New York against the Mets in early June and the offense on this team has done the work.   The starters endured a great April, a bumpy May and rebounded in June.   However, they are capable of giving up a lot of runs and their two best starters, Waino and Lynn, have collapsed this past week.   The bullpen doesn’t have an innocent arm, with closer Jason Motte having blown 4 saves already.   The bullpen is young and carries plenty of skill but doesn’t have an ounce of consistency.   The lineup’s production is impressive, especially when considering the lack of everyday players.   Lance Berkman has missed 6 weeks.  Skip Schumaker and Jon Jay have missed a lot of games.  Allen Craig, one of the most underrated young power hitters in baseball, has missed two separate chunks of time.  They still manage to produce while the pitching gives leads back.   So while it is easy to summarize that the Cards can’t put everything together at the same time, that doesn’t cover the entire playing field.  I can tell you simply that the bullpen is the weakest link on this team and overall, the pitching on this 2012 team needs immediate help.    Here’s some way to attack the area.

*Find out what is going on with Chris Carpenter.   He has a thoratic nerve disorder, which means he will need surgery at some point and the only question is when.   He threw a couple bullpen sessions this past week, shut it down for a few days, threw again yesterday and has announced he will try to pitch through the issue.  I just don’t see this happening.   How can he attempt to pitch through pain that has caused him to shut down 3 times this season?  He throws 35 bullpen pressure free tosses and can’t recover the next day and we expect him to throw 3 times that amount.   No way.   Look, I love Carpenter and what he brings to the table.   The man is an animal on the mound and a true ace.   We saw what he could still do with his arm in September and October of 2011.   However, his body is breaking down.   Is it really smart to push him so hard halfway into this season and risk losing him for a chunk of 2013, the final year of his contract?  I hate to hand him 10 million dollars to be a cheerleader this year, but I don’t want to give him two years in a row off.   He missed 2007 and 2008 after a spectacular 2004-2006 run.   I want Carp to pitch again, in some capacity for this team.   If John Mozelaik finds out what is going on with him, he can attack the other areas of this team.   There are starters out there, like Matt Garza of the Cubs, who can help this team.   Roy Oswalt was available way back when, and the Cards opted to avoid him while he practically begged to pitch for St. Louis.   Mozelaik didn’t know Jaime Garcia was going down as well, but grabbing Oswalt(who made his first start last week) would have been wise.  If we know Carpenter is out, the Cards can go after a starter at the deadline because the only way a bullpen can recover is if the rotation continues to give innings.   The 2012 Cards bullpen can’t be asked to get 12 outs in a game more than once a week.  That was the request made on Friday night and the result was a 9 run finishing deficit.

*Get bullpen help.   My, oh, my, this team needs bullpen help.    Sam Freeman is a talented young lefthander, but he is being overexposed and needs help.   Marc Rzepcynski has been horrible all season and may need a demotion or release.   Eduardo Sanchez can’t pitch with runners on base or in any pressure situations unless you care to see walks.   Fernando Salas’ pitches have flattened out.  Every time I want to heap praise on Mitchell Boggs, he relapses into a funk.   Jason Motte has 16 saves, yet is too scared of his second pitch in order to reach the next level and makes saves too interesting.  In the heat of 2011, Mozelaik reached into his farm system and made upgrades.   This time, he may have to go to the market because I am sure Makael Cleto and Charlie Fricke aren’t the solutions to our problems.   Antonio Bastardo is an effective lefty with the Phillies who need a new home in a few weeks.   The Cards need to get fresh talented arms into the bullpen and stop hoping all the young kids will play out.   A team can’t afford to lose so many one or two run games once you enter July and August.

*Play well against your division foes.   The race in the NL Central will be tight to the end, so the Cards need to nail down wins against the Pirates and Reds.    That includes playing better at home.   The Cardinals have a bad trend going at home, a place they have dominated over the past 5 seasons.   Playoff teams play great baseball at home.   Winning on the road and outside your division is one thing, but home dominance is key in any sport.   If teams upset you and embarrass you in your house, your life is ending.  If the Cards can’t get important games this weekend against the Pirates, what chance do they have in the latter parts of the season?  There’s no definite notion that the Pirates will stay in contention, but they are a tenacious bunch who didn’t die in 2011 until September.   The division won’t close up a gap until the final day folks.  The Cards need to get the division under their grasp because it’s their own to take.   All this time while we have struggled, the division has stayed in reach.

*As always, stay healthy.   Getting healthy is a pale wish, but maintaining health is more important while the injured heal.   Allen Craig and David Freese can play big roles if they stay on the field.   When Lance Berkman returns, Craig moves into a platoon there and forces Jay to maintain his stats.   Skip Schumaker keeps Daniel Descalso on his toes.   Healthy rosters only fuel the teams versatility.   It has been the goal since the start.   The 2012 Cardinals must stay healthy to win this division, but they need better pitching from their bullpen in order to stay in the race.

That’s all on the Birds.   Now a few words on the Blues and Rams.

The Blues are setting up for the free agent storm that will touch down on Sunday.    GM Doug Armstrong knows what he needs to do in order to make this team stronger.   Find a left handed defenseman to play with Alex Pietrangelo.   Find another legit goal scorer to roam the wings.    Keep Jason Arnott over Jamie Langenbrunner because of the production.   Decide if TJ Oshie or David Perron stay on your team, or keep both.   They are both young and relatively inexpensive, but does somebody need a real push?  The goaltending was the core of the teams strength in their amazing December-February run, so that doesn’t need any tampering.   We all know David Backes, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen are here.   Vladamir Tarasenko is on his way from Russia.   Patrik Berglund came alive and showed us more than ever in the playoffs.   He is ready to make a huge impact.   The Blues need to cut off the loose parts of their roster.  Get rid of the players who don’t belong, like Carlo Colaiacovo.  You can’t keep Barrett Jackman and Carlo.   Give Ian Cole a bigger role on defense if the free agent market brings no matches.  All I know is the Blues are 28 million dollars under the cap and have money to spend.   With new ownership in place and a foundation settling in, this team needs to upgrade.   Another good question.  Is John Davidson coming back?

The Rams are in training camp prep mode, which means there isn’t much to say.   Without further moves, the Rams will contend for a pulse in 2012.   Their wide receiving core is still a mystery, the linebackers around Lauranitis are suspect, and the offensive line is a huge question mark.  The Rams had a good draft, improved their secondary but other than that, didn’t do much to install a bigger sense of hope.   There isn’t much news on this team except for the fate of their stay in St. Louis, which is an issue that is less than 2 years away.

Boxing remains exciting, even with the horrible Pacquaio-Bradley decision(which was reviewed by 5 different judges, who ruled in Pac Man’s favor) and the absence of Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the circuit.   Victor Ortiz lost a chance for a shot at Canelo Alvarez in September when replacement fighter Josesito Lopez broke his jaw.   Cornelius Bundrage fights Cory Spinks tonight and will probably destroy him in the same manner he did in 2010.   Pacquiao has told his promoter Bob Arum that he wants to fight Mayweather Jr. soon and that fight will probably happen in early 2013 after Mayweather gets out of jail, gets a pickup fight in and Pacquiao either revisits Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez this November.   Finally, Arum was told what needs to happen.  That’s a good thing for boxing.   Take into account their ages and situations, and the mega fight needs to happen soon.  Boxing, along with the judging foolery, has taken a lot of shots this year.  Two mainstream fighters, Lamont Petersen and Andre Berto, tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, which resulted in two hyped rematches being cancelled.   Seeing two young good fighters cheat and deprive the world of a couple good matches is downright wrong.   Berto was set for a rematch with Ortiz after their thrilling 2011 fight, but that didn’t happen.  Petersen was set to face Amir Khan for a second time after their first battle included 4 knockdowns and a stoppage, but that didn’t happen.   This sport is already scraping its knees against the concrete in the pursuit of MMA events.  While there is plenty of decent fights out there, boxing needs the Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr. clash to not only happen but deliver on the promise in order for the sport to stay strong.    Until then, the fights to look forward to are  Sergio Martinez taking on young Mexican champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Chad Dawson taking on middleweight Andre Ward in September.

*My website, film-addict.com, is moving along well and growing in interest.  At least I hope it is.   My staff and I continue to pound out work on it daily and in my eyes and people I know, is a quality site.   Without giving too much away, here are some instant thoughts on a few films I have seen lately.

Magic Mike is entertaining at first, overly preachy and formulaic towards the end, and lacks a Soderbergh stamp.  DVD.

Ted is very funny, worth seeing twice and can even reach the non Family Guy fans.

People Like Us-Tough family drama that requires coincidences and a few cliches to make an experience worthwhile.  Pass.

The Amazing Spider Man(opening Tuesday) is a surprisingly solid summer action film that gives the best glimpse into the world of Peter Parker’s vigilante.  The performance of Andrew Garfield is the difference maker.

That’s it.  Visit the website, http://www.film-addict.com, for full reviews and stories.  Consider that a tease.

I need to raise the temperature in this blog before I bring it to a completion.  I won’t call this one of my best sources of outgoing mail, but it will exist as merely a “I’m still here” alert.

The Buffa Bullet Round begins-

  • Glen Hansard’s new album is a must own.   The Swell Season/Frames front man is a rarity.  You see, there are certain musicians who sing because its a job and others who sing because THEY HAVE TO.   Glen wears his heart on his sleeve.   Hansard gets on that stage and belts tunes because it’s part of his DNA.  His story, life and passion fuel his music in the same way as most  singers but with him it just feels real.   More depth and honesty.   We all know him from the movie ONCE and his torrid love affair with his bandmate, Marketa Iglova.   What is missing is the brilliance shown on stage and in the studio.  His solo effort, Rhythm and Repose, is a set to seek out.  He will visit the Pageant in September.
  • Henry Rollins returns to the road for a particularly interesting tour this summer and fall.   His tour is called Capitalism, and he will be doing shows in all 50 capitols of the United States.   Which means he is hitting Jefferson City for a show in Missouri, one I will be attending this October.  His final show will be in Washington DC on the eve of the election.   Rollins doesn’t sit with either political party, but unleashes his ideals on his audiences with ease and assurance.  He is the political animal who will give you his honest “take it or leave it” thought process on politics but won’t hamstring you with preachy knowledge.  He wants you to vote but doesn’t slam you over the head with a candidate.   He is a ranting maniac and to me that is fun to watch on stage every once in a while.   When in doubt, ask Henry.
  • It means little to his future potential as a St. Louis Cardinal, but it’s good to know we still have intelligent young ballplayers out there.   Newly signed first round pick James Ramsey spoke to the media on Friday and hearing him talk, you felt good already about the deal.   Ramsey is an outfielder who will make a trip to High A ball on Monday, but he knows what has to be done in order to make it to the big leagues.   He hit very well in the Cape Cod league, prefers the wooden bat over the college issued aluminum and respects his elders.  He took some BP with the big league team and told the media he is a “do whatever it takes” kind of player and I happen to believe him.   In a few years, look for the name of James Ramsey to come into the news.
  • While I can say I don’t know a lot about soccer or have a grasp over the teams and players, I can watch the Euro2012 tournament with ease.  Soccer is a sport I don’t have to fall in love with in order to enjoy.  I don’t stress over it, have a favorite team or go crazy about it.  I can merely sit and admire it.
  • My son, Vincent, is getting big.   He weighed in at 23.6 pounds, and is 2.5 feet tall.  Those are the stats.  Here is the great part.   The little monster continues to show more life and ambition than I have seen in a baby.   He can almost stand up, crawls with ease, will be walking soon enough and also has curbed the gray area between knowing what pain feels like.   He also has his parents in the palm of his fat little hands.   The man doesn’t have to wear pants and and he is the king.   Every morning at 545 am, he launches up and demands a bottle.   He doesn’t like going back to sleep, wants to bounce and then demands a meal at 9am.   Babies want attention and space to move.  Vinny hates having his diaper changed, put into a small with no toys or left alone.   The kid is an attention hogging little maniac.   The more women, eyes, toys, food and things that weigh under 5 pounds in his grasp, the better.  The kid continues to keep me on my toes.
  • It’s 105 degrees outside, and its a dry heat.   Deadly, but carrying little humidity.   This is the kind of heat you have to get used to, stay away from or avoid all together.    If you go outside, count on sweating.   People who complain about the weather are dinosaurs.    It’s going to get hot and stay hot.   The winter was weak, so the summer will be brutal.  This is dangerous heat and its bad because of the effect on the body.   It kills your appetite and soaks your clothes.   I can handle the winter because it simply requires an extra layer of clothing.  The heat strips you to your bones and can kill you unless you pound water all day and night.   Without complaining about it, I will say it is dangerous.  Stay thirsty out there.
  • What else?  Reality television is retarded but apparently in my house, addicting.    My DVR is full of Real Housewives of New Jersey, Bachelorette and other house hunting programs.   The closest I get to reality TV is the food network and only because it showcases….wait for it…delicious looking food.  Reality TV is a waste of time.
  • Charlie Sheen’s new show, Anger Management, is appealing only to fans of Charlie.  He is a funny guy, fun to watch, and can make even the most network gimmicks look good.  The only bad part is, for a FX show, Anger Management’ didn’t take any chances in it’s first two episodes.
  • The Newsroom is the new “must watch” show on television for one simple reason.   It’s brilliantly done and gives a hopeful spin to the political nature of journalism.   Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterson will all deserve Emmy awards this fall and the show, written and created by Aaron Sorkin, deserves to be watched.   A show about non-partisan cable news anchor Will McAvoy and his show’s drive to put real news on the viewers tables.  The show starts out with the rant of all rants, as McAvoy is forced into a debate at a college, where he finally unleashes his true thoughts on America.   The aftermath sends him on vacation and his staff out the door, but the show picks up when an old flame of his(Mortimer) is hired to be his producer and they attack the Oil spill in the Gulf.   Sorkin is a brilliant writer but he scores high here by putting an emphasis on real events.   McAvoy is the kind of news hungry grump who wants to say what he thinks but knows the ratings aren’t going to tag along.   Its his word against everybody else’s in the building as we get to watch the way a newsroom unfolds during production.  I have always been hungry for this kind of show.   Watching the mighty heart of journalism be fought over in a newsroom where true journalism still lives.   It’s invigorating.   Sorkin is the man to write it and Daniels is at the top of his game here.   The political parties will slice and dice the show up so it fits into their own agendas and ideals, but for an independent like me, it’s pure infatuation.  Just watch the opening scene of the show where McAvoy loses it at the college.  It’s one of those bravura moments that only come every so often on television.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKklog0T9a4&feature=related

That is a good place to end.   Thanks for reading and come back for more.
Goodnight and good luck,
Dan L. Buffa

 

 

Buffa Talk

Ladies and gents, here are the latest things to keep a room in my head.   In sporadic format, allow me to unload a little here via the bullet points.

  • Lance Lynn’s power.  While he lost last night in Detroit, the man knows how to pitch.  The Cardinals new found ace 25 year old hurler is 10-2 for a good reason.  He relies on the same tricks but is efficient in his ways.   Lynn has a methodical way of disposing of hitters.   It’s called “Here it is, hitters, now try and catch it”.   Throwing 75 percent 4 seam fastballs every start means one thing.   He’s an old school power arm.   If they hit it, he tips the cap.  That’s a welcome rarity in today’s game.  Lynn’s fastball moves in a manner Jason Motte would kill for.  It rises and sinks and contains a power at the end that consistently fools hitters a 2nd or 3rd time.
  • Speaking of Motte, the kid has a second pitch but needs  to use it more often.  He has an effective 88 mph cutter that can fool hitters.  Why not throw it more often?  While a true offspeed pitch would be ideal, I will take the lower form of moving heat.   He just doesn’t throw it enough.  On Sunday, he blew his 4th save because he relied too heavily on his high octane fastball to get three hitters out.  WHY?  With 2 outs and an o-2 count on Royals power hitting bench hand Billy Butler, Motte fired a fastball STRAIGHT down the middle and Butler tattooed it towards South America.  Motte lowered his head, finished the inning, pitched a perfect 10th inning and told reporters after the game he is a fastball oriented pitcher.  He will continue to throw it.   Well, Mr. Motte, I have news for you my bald wolf like man.  Unless you feel like getting burned every 3rd save opportunity by a pitch major league hitters are taught to wait and feast on, make a change.   Unless you feel like going to arbitration this winter again, make a change.   I love Motte and think he can close for years to come.   I just know what he needs to do.  The question is…does he and is his ego too large to climb over in order to fix the struggles?
  • Stop complaining about the frequency of no-hitters and perfect games.  In a modern style of play that favors the hitter and the home run, seeing a pitcher like Matt Cain strike out 14, walk no one and throw a perfect 27 outs in a game is always welcome.  I’ll take one a week.   I won’t sit here and say pitching is harder than hitting, but I will say baseball makes things harder for the man on the mound.
  • Roger Clemens isn’t guilty but that doesn’t make him clean.  Similar to the case of Ryan Braun, Clemens’ team of lawyers found loop holes in the court system and got him off.   Clemens, in the eyes of evidence and witnesses seen and read, is as guilty as Barry Bonds and the rest of the cheaters.
  • Attention, Mike Matheny.  Unless Matt Holliday is missing an appendage, he has to play more than 9 innings in Sunday’s debacle in the Busch finale against the Royals.   All of a sudden, Holliday is becoming this years David Freese.   Last year, Freese exited every game in the 8th-9th inning for defensive responsibilities, and to a certain degree(being that grease ball wizard Daniel Descalso replaced him) it was understandable but still regretted in games.  Seeing him Adron Chambers, who isn’t a defensive improvement over Holliday, take over in Sunday’s game directly pissed me off.  Chambers isn’t a major league talent and can’t hit or play good enough defense to exist as anything other than a late inning pinch runner.  I like Matheny and approve of most of his methods, but this reminds me too much of La Russa.  Every player goes through certain minor injuries and bruises as the 162 season wears on, so save me the precautionary explanation/excuse.  He needs to play through those injuries.   Let me break out the Scott Rolen salary breakdown for you with Mr. Holliday.   Matt Holliday makes 17 million per season before taxes.  He makes 104,000 per game.  He makes 26,000 per at bat.  In short, he makes in a couple at-bats what I make in a year at Senoret.  That is fine, in some form of logic, if he play the full game.  Case closed.
  • As a Blues fan, I can argue both ways in the 3 year deal handed to Barrett Jackman today.   On one hand, he is a deeply flawed player who gives away more pucks than the mascot, but on the other hand he is a tough veteran defenseman who younger players see as the Lee Marvin of ice soldiers.  Jackman gets around 3 million per year and that is a little much, but it’s a done deal and one I can say has sweet and bitter notes to it.  Jackman is a player I like for 2 year, 4 million dollar deals but apparently, Doug Armstrong thought differently.  If he wasn’t retained, I wouldn’t be angry.  Now that I know he is staying, I am fine with it while wondering where that money may have went.
  • The NBA Finals is heating up with the play of Lebron James going to a whole new level.  The man is averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds per game but is adding those points in the meaningful parts of the games.   Miami is up 3-1 off the play of James, especially with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh too hurt to make a huge impact.  He is one win away from silencing the critics who say he can’t do it by himself.  Without the consistent help of Wade or Bosh, Lebron has taken over the NBA Finals, stealing the chance at glory right from young upstart Oklahoma City’s grasp.   I neither love nor hate James.  I find him a fascinating figure to watch.  I root for his triumph and wait for his failure.  He made a choice to burn the bridge behind him when he left Cleveland.  Now we get to watch him make his mark on history.  In 2012, as opposed to the 2011 NBA Finals, he is making an impact and is a win away from a championship, his first as a player.  Lebron James learned from last year’s meltdown and is thriving.  Good for him.  That’s an honest answer.
  • My screening schedule is heating up this week.  I had a pair last night, starting with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and after I have Safety Not Guaranteed.  A big release and an independent feature. I am very intrigued for Abe’s alternate story.   Based off a graphic novel of the same name, the story is a reimagining of the life of one of the greatest Presidents to ever grace the Oval Office.  What if Lincoln was a vampire killer and brought justice outside the office as well as inside it?  I find the theory fascinating because I find Lincoln to be fascinating beyond belief.    One of the most active presidents who actually made a difference getting an additional chapter casting him as the ultimate savior of mankind.  The director of Wanted is tackling it and completing the cast are newcomer Benjamin Walker as the young Abe, Rufus Sewell(with a face made to be evil) as the main bad guy, and Dominic Cooper(Devil’s Double) running around in the background.  A low key yet explosive cast, an action packed director and an intriguing subject.  I am in.   Safety Not Guaranteed is an indie film about time travel.   Yes, time travel.   An ad placed in a newspaper about the need for a time travelling buddy is answered and an adventure is born.  On Thursday, I am taking in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World with Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, which contains a man preparing himself for the end by meeting the woman of his dreams.  Imagine that in life.  Searching for 35 years for a soul mate and finding him or her right before a meteor hits earth.  That sucks but makes for an intriguing story as well.  Three delicious films that promise a better result than my three features last week, which involved 2 turds(Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy) and a decent yet not great animated film(Brave).
  • Things I love right now.   HBO.   Namely, Christopher Meloni as the new baddie on True Blood.  A longtime guilty pleasure if overrated summer delight gets a decent drop of tough venom this season as Meloni’s Vampire leader attempts to put a lock down on Eric and Bill, our new heroic vampire duo.   Thankfully, Anna Paquin’s fine ass yet annoying character Sookie is pushed to the background.   Meloni played a noble cop on Law and Order: SVU for years.  All an actor wants to do after being good for so long is go completely bad.   His one scene on Sunday in the season’s 2nd episode told you all you needed to know about his sucker king.  He will kill lots of people, won’t die easily and leave a mark.  That’s all I want to go along with my side of righteous asskicking werewolf in Joe Manganiello’s Alcide.  I also love the new promos for Aaron Sorkin’s new drama on HBO, Newsroom.   Jeff Daniels as a cable news anchor who finally cuts his non partisan cloak off and deals his true feelings ON the air looks deliciously acceptable on Sunday nights with True Blood.  Daniels can’t make a bad call these days and his character looks to cut a hybrid of two or three real life cable talkers and make an honest to ink prime time renegade.  I love shows that thrive on juicy back and forth dialogue and this show promises a thrill ride.   I am loving my pandora selection of Jimi Hendrix on this slow hot day at work.  I am digging my new toy at home, a Keurig coffee maker.   A shotgun one cup coffee making machine that I now live by.  I…
  • I don’t love changing light bulbs at 40 feet in the air.  Closing down my work means cleaning up and fixing things up in order for my old owner to get out of his lease to the owner of the building.   It’s all fun and games until you climb a boom lift and go 40 feet straight up in the air inside a shaky cage and change bulbs.  I changed around 175 and I can say I will never do that again unless I get paid lawyer money.   I am not afraid of heights but I am also not too fond of them at the same time.  You can cut that one up as you will.
  • The rest of the week at work will hopefully my my last and it will consist of waiting for contractors to fix repairs and finishing out the mandatory hours at Senoret.   My time there will come to an end on June 22nd and I am glad.   I’ve emptied the warehouse, made repairs, followed their orders and now want my money and my freedom.   It’s going to be time to try something else as they say and no matter which manner you chose to say goodbye, the effect and result are all the same.  It’s time to get out.
  • If you are still reading this blog, I am going to give a teaser for my reviews of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Safety Not Guaranteed before they go live on http://www.film-addict.com on Friday.
  • Lincoln was a pure delight and something to recommend to all film fans because it has so many different skill sets.  It injects the real story of Lincoln into this fantasy myth that gives depth to the normal action film.  It’s hard to feel something when you are watching this film because of Lincoln’s overall message.   Carving your own place in this world, and taking a stand for a reason.  The entire production is impressive and Walker is a wonderful Lincoln, filling out the coat and personality.
  • Safety is a movie that will come off as odd but the quirky nature is established very early.  The vibe of this movie is dealt early and the theme is an unique one about freedom.  This story pulls no punches in notifying you that this isn’t Twilight or Batman.   It’s a feel good film about being an outsider in this world and wondering if there is more to life than what you can see or touch.
  • I am not going to lie to you about the Cardinals.  They are playing like absolute shit since mid May.   After starting 20-11 on May 11th before a home series with the Braves, they have gone 14-23 since and are swinging at everything.   Injuries can be a decent blame but Bernie Miklasz’s point about plate discipline carries depth to it.   In the past 2 months, the Cards rank last in the National League in pitches seen per at bat.   Meaning we are chasing, swinging too much at crap and wasting at bats.   Allen Craig chased a Justin Verlander slider with the bases loaded last night that Verlander called his best slider ever.   That’s fine against a Cy Young owner who has thrown 2 no hitter’s but if they come up short tonight against the very hittable Rich Porcello, something is wrong.  It is late June and we are hovering around .500.   It’s a problem that needs to be fixed first with renewing health and then more disciplined baseball.   The Cards need to draw more walks, steal more bases and generate more offense without leaning on the home run.   A little more democracy and less dictatorship.   The bullpen has to do their part if the rotation is giving innings.   This is the basic rehab talk every baseball team hears in the middle of a slump.   Soon enough, the Reds aren’t going to slow down and wait for us to get back in contention.   They will run off with the division.  Is it okay to be worried on June 20?  Yes.  Is it okay to panic?  No.   There is plenty of baseball left to play.  Keep an extra dose of meds handy.
  • Enjoying Rolling Stone’s latest issue with stories on Charlie Sheen and John Mayer.  You know how I feel about Charlie but I happen to really like Mayer’s music, his sense of humor, honesty and story as well.  After racing to the top of the charts from 2001-2010, Mayer flamed out in 2010 after a RS article where he compared women to “sexual napalm” and uttered the “n word”.   It wasn’t good.  He went from being one of the most versatile musicians to the biggest dick in the west.   Did he deserve the flames?  Yes from a certain standpoint, but it was over the top.   This is where I hate the general public’s retarded take on gossip and celebrity news.  A huge reason why our country qualifies as the group lacking brilliance.  Blaming Mayer for dumping Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson and Taylor Swift is child’s play.   It takes a true dumbass to say, “Man, how could he mess it up with Jennifer Aniston?”   People always want to side with the woman no matter what and  it irritates me to my core.   Jennifer Aniston is pretty, but who the fuck knows how she is in real life with no cameras around.   Who are we to judge if she is worth spending a lot of time with?  Past the obvious roles she plays and the visual sensation, I could tell you she is a horrible actress with a fine body but past that I have no clue.  Why is it okay to blame Mayer for deciding he didn’t want that?   Mayer isn’t a bad guy but has a wicked mouth.   If you ask these guys questions and always expect a bland one note answer, the readers are bound to be surprised.    I like his honesty in the same way I like Sheen’s honesty.   He knows what he did and went away for 2 years.    He bought a house in Montana, built a studio and laid low.   Now he is back with a new album and it is pretty damn good.   The man is one of the most talented musicians out there.   A wicked guitarist and singer.  He just needed to get his personal life together.   Kudos to him.   Both the articles are available at http://www.rollingstone.com.
  • What else?   I am a fan of Under Armour clothing.   I have slowly acquired pieces of their highly expensive clothing and have come to love the feeling of their material.   It’s a sweat resistant material, a combination of polyester and sheer cotton.   I work a physical job, work out, run and stay on the move most of my life.  I need a material to keep up with me because I happen to sweat a ton in anything I do.   Under Armour, unlike Nike or Reebok, has the kind material that when you sweat in the morning, the material dries quickly and you are ready for something else.   Cotton gets sweaty and the weight of the shirt triples and that’s not good.  When it comes to shirts, comfortable is the main need no matter what I am doing.   I will be acquiring more loose fit sporting shirts.   The compression shirts, where it sucks all the air from underneath your chest, are something I won’t be trying any time soon.  Those  require a physique I haven’t achieved yet.   I am in good shape but not freakish shape.   Not yet.
  • While coffee is always my friend, Starbucks’ Iced Passion Tea Lemonade is my new crush.   Unsweetened, thirst quenching and absolutely tasty, this high priced yet deeply fulfilling beverage is your late afternoon recovery drink.

Alright, this is over.  My rule is once I start writing advertising statements for my blend of drink, it is time to bring this show to an end.   My run isn’t over yet, but the curtain is closing for a little while.   Thanks for reading and come back again when the thirst for news is alive.   That’s all I do here.   Cut my view out and throw it on the table as hard as I can.  If you made it to the end, the pleasure is all mine.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

A man asked me what I am doing after my time at Senoret and I told him I wasn’t sure yet.   I had options to think about, a resume tailor made by the wife and a list of opportunities.   When given the chance to rewrite your future, where would you plant your feet?  I am not mad at the person who asked me this question, nor am I mad at the owner who sold his company.  He built it from the ground up and deserved to sell it for all its worth.   In doing so, he changed my life but didn’t end it.   The course is open again and the ideas are wildly kicking.   There are money jobs, careers carved by your passions and the American Dream, which is doing both of those at the same time.   The  man pondered for a few seconds and told me, “I am sure you will figure something out”, flashed me a smile, turned and left to catch a plane to New York.  That man was my previous owner.   In short, I will do something, and it will be grand.   When in doubt, what would Red say…..get busy livin or get busy dying.

The End

Topic Analysis

 

Good evening friends,

 

The night is old and the news reel is ready so let’s get down to business.   These days, I have to write when I can find the time.  Now, I have the time.  Let’s go with the bullets entry here.  Expect font changes and inserts, but judge the material by the words alone.  Content is key here.

 

 

 

  • The Boxing Debacle-Covering the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight that yielded a horrible, not just controversial, decision.  48 hours later, after talking it over with the Mang, I came to some new desirable conclusions. Ask Dan Rafael, Harold Lederman, Jim Lampley, Bradley’s manager or the average boxing fan and they will tell you Manny dominated the fight.   It’s not rocket science.  If I gave any round to Tim, it was Round 1 or 9.   That is it.   He didn’t hurt Manny, barely hit him clean and basically survived the fight.   This wasn’t a black eye for boxing.  It was an internal bleed.  An explosion in the chest.  A leaking kidney.   This will have an effect that goes on for months.  If it was fixed it was for more money to be made in the rematch.  This is the finality of a boxing decision.  We don’t want think it was a fixed decision(engineered for more cash) because we are boxing fans.   The facts are it was a horrible decision.   It gives Pacquiao an undeserved loss and sets up a useless rematch.  This also endangers a match I know you don’t care about(Floyd and Manny), but several million boxing fans do.  A fight to see who is the best.  What went wrong last night?  A lot and it had nothing to do with the action in the ring.  2 of the judges were 80 years old, Arum said.  Its quite pathetic, especially when you look at the punch stats.  Pac-Man landed 34 percent of his punches compared to 19 percent for Bradley.  He landed 90 more power shots.   Pacquiao landed 18 more jabs and “hurt” Bradley several times.  Pacquiao clearly won.  June 9th was a bad bad night for boxing.  While I’m not a big UFC guy, I see why that sport is thriving.  If there is a rematch, here is some advice for Manny.   Finish Bradley this time.   Don’t let the judges get involved.  To borrow a line from Lights Out, a one year boxing show on FX, let your fists be the judges. You can’t teach speed.   Pac Man had speed to spare on Bradley.  Next time don’t let up.  I like Manny despite his bad promoting choices, wild behavior and waiting games, because of what he does for his country(he is in it to help people and not just look good, like Floyd).   He pummeled Bradley, got a career flipping loss, and has to deal with horrible judging/rigged activity.   One judge said Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson.  Unless the lesson was setting up your face to get slammed, I am sure he is crazy.   Anyway, this puts bigger fights on hold and that sucks dearly.   We don’t get a Pacquiao-Marquez IV(which needed to happen to solidify who is really better) or a better fight in general.   It’s a stop gap situation and two old fossil fuck judges are to blame.   Or is that all there is to it?  The good news is Bob Arum is having the Nevada Boxing Commission review the decision and go back over the fight in order to see how mad the judges were.  Hopefully, they right a severe wrong and give the decision to Pacquaio.  No one could dispute the decision, including Bradley or his corner.  They looked like lottery winners on Saturday night, not true winners.   It doesn’t affect Pacquiao’s credibility but it helps his record and denies a rematch that is painfully unneeded.  The true judges need to step in here, look over the clear evidence, watch a lopsided fight and wipe the slate clean for the sport of boxing.   This extends beyond Pacquaio and Bradley’s reputation.  It pertains to boxing’s future.   Clean it up.  Just look at Bradley’s knees buckle not once, not twice but three times in the fight.   He was clearly beaten.  Fix it.   I applaud Arum this time only for trying to make this right.  Representing both fighters, he could very easily leave it alone and make a ton of money in the rematch.  He is doing the right thing.
  • This has nothing to do with the potential for a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Pacquiao fight.   That will happen on separate terms.  This is saving boxing so that megafight isn’t tarnished in any way.
  • Are the Cardinals in severe trouble?  Yes and no.   Read along.  This team isn’t shipwrecked but merely being exposed for its current roster makeup.  You aren’t going to win 5 games in a row with Tyler Greene and Shane Robinson starting in your lineup more than twice a week.  It’s basic survival instincts right now.   You can’t fool anyone with AAA talent and bad pitching.  The Cards are trying to get by until they get healthy.   Nearly everything has missed some sort of time in the first 2 months.   Carp and Berk went down hard.   Carp Jr. was a decent fill in and then he went down.   Skip has been down and out twice.   Freese hasn’t been right since he hurt his hand 2 weeks ago.  Matt Holliday hurt his back last week.   Jaime Garcia got a soft shoulder and is out 2-3 months.   The rotation and lineup is being held together by glue and tape right now, so the bench and bullpen are getting exposed BAD.   Maybe they should have took Oswalt like we suggested, but who could have guessed STL would lose Carp as well as Pablo Escobar’s nephew.   Matheny is mixing and matching as good as any skipper could, playing his La Russa card in switching the lineup around and giving players the right bump when needed.   At this point, however, we just have to keep playing.   I won’t write off this year yet mang because our bats are too strong and when healthier, our pitching will improve.   I believe Carpenter will return and that there is salary to play with at the deadline.   It’s good to see Lynn and Waino stay strong as well as Lohse pitch his ass off on Saturday.   It’s good to see Beltran with 18 home runs on one good knee.   We didn’t sleep walk through May.  We got pushed around by pretty good teams.   April was nice because the opposition was soft.  However, as noted earlier, you can’t fool good teams with exposed players and bad pitching.   I will say Joe Kelly showed promise today in harnessing the Indians with his “Suppan” ball.  He had decent movement on a 94 fastball and changed speeds well.   He may do for a few weeks.  At some point, Shelby Miller will have to make an appearance.  When in need, bring up the best talent.  I don’t want to hear “it’s not his time or he needs to blossom at Memphis first”.  He is a first round pick and pitching well enough to get up here and sustain his MLB appetite.  It may be Miller’s time if Kelly softens early or the trade deadline doesn’t show a tasty treat.   Right now, the Cards have to play .500 or slightly better baseball and stay with the Reds.  Survival is the idea, but a call to Chuck Finley may not be far behind.  If we can hold the fort and stay in contention(5 gms over .500 and within 5 games of the Reds), we are in good shape.  No team is running off with the Central.  Trust me.  The Cards need to get healthy.  Taking it all into perspective, this team hasn’t played that bad.   The pitching and defense has been pretty bad in spots, but we are hanging in there with band aid equipment.   Not bad for a team missing its starting first baseman and two of the top starters in their rotation.   Step up work by Lohse and Molina can’t be forgotten either.   We need to take this series against the White Sox, a hot team, in order to get some confidence back.
  • Matt Adams is going to be a major league first basemen in a few years but he will benefit from more time in Memphis.   I like that the injuries gave way for the fans to see what Biff Webster Country Fried Steak Adams had to offer.  It’s a bright future for the young man.  He has a big swing, plays a decent first, and can adjust to pitchers.   Good news for the team that young talent like Adams, Craig, Jay, Freese, Motte, and Eduardo Sanchez can hold a spot on this team for years to come.
  • Jason Motte is still my closer of choice but the wolfman needs a genuine offspeed pitch.   Some kind of misdirection.  A 2 seamer is effective only when coupled with a true offspeed addition.  I think Motte has the mental makeup to be a solid closer for years to come, but watching former Cardinal Chris Perez notch his MLB leading 20th save on Sunday at Busch, a slight burn was felt.   Motte needs to get together with Waino and Carp and start working on a curve.  The Cards can’t afford to blow any saves the next 2 months.
  • I will be out of a job on June 29th.   Details aren’t needed but my company was bought out and our warehouse is being cleared as we speak.   We were then given a choice to stay with the company during the transition and get a decent severance or cut and run.  I chose to stay because of the severance and the website starting up called for my job status to remain the same.   The goal is for Rachel and I to both be working, but the time could come with her working and me staying home with Vinny and feeding the site.  That’s fine, but there’s a need in me to earn money for the household.   Everything happens for a reason and this only ensures that I don’t spend the rest of my life on a forklift.   In the end, I will like the sale of Senoret waking me up to the opportunities that lie just over the hill of visibility.  I look at realistically.   That’s all I can do.   My main goal is to find a job with decent medical benefits, for Vin’s heart meds and checkups.  We had to take him into the hospital 3 weeks ago for a bad fever and elevated heart rate.  Into the ER cost us 200 dollars on the spot.   Rough work but…its our son so there is no choice.  Without benefits we would have paid a lot more.   I do see it as an opportunity for a new start.   My life has changed and I am taking my shot with Film Addict, so finding something to work with the screenings and writing for the site would be great…but we will have to see.  Main goal is to be realistic.
  • Mad Men finished its fifth season in grand fashion last night.   A subtle end to a season after back to back powerful twist filled hours of television.   To me, Mad Men is the light overhand left that catches you at your weakest moment and buckles your knees.  It packs a punch but is silent up until the point of contact.   A Sopranos writer, Matthew Weiner, runs Mad Men and its main storyline, the trials and tribulations of Ad man master Don Draper is similar to Tony Soprano.   HBO passed on Mad Men and I can only wonder the possibilities of the series on a premium cable network.  You know my affection for Christina Hendricks runs bone deep, but I truly love the work of my St. Louis home talent Jon Hamm on Mad Men.   He fully embodies the dark heart and soul of Draper, playing a man who took another’s identity during World War II to forget about his rough upbringing.   Imagine a man so good at something(advertising) that is living a complete lie.   It’s quietly addicting to watch.   I can only hope when your time comes to find Mad Men, that you get it and give it the time to settle in your spine.  The show is brilliant.  Here is a clip to solidify my words.   Check it out.  It’s 70 seconds long.  Here’s the thing to remember about Mad Men.  Advertising is about so much more than simply selling a product.  It’s about ownership, comfort and confidence.   Back in the 1960s, these guys were like rock stars.  They turned a product into gold with just a few words.   Draper tells you how here.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgh3f6Ke3Lw
  • Do the Blues have enough scoring help?  Does the addition of Vladamir Tarasenko help the cause or merely represent a soft surprise?  Here’s my take.  The Blues scoring troubles have been legit the past 3 seasons.   We have problems lighting the lamp on a consistent basis and in my opinion, the superb 2011-2012 comeback was due to great coaching and excellent goaltending.  The KHL is a highly fertile league for proven talent and hungry young players, and I was impressed with Vlady turning down serious Russian dollars to come overseas and play Blues hockey.  I don’t make a big deal with offseason team news either, but I report what I think is solid news and this was.   Tarasenko could be the cheapest impact player the Blues have gotten in the last 10 years.   He could be what this team is missing.  A dangerous goal scoring threat.
  • More on the Rams Stadium issues and ultimate decision.  The Rams fate may be determined by their play.  It isn’t a good situation.   Your football team is shit, your hometown fans are bandwagon riders who are staying away and forcing blackouts, and your city doesn’t want to pay for improvements.    If you are in Stan’s spot, he may be thinking about moving this team and letting the city suck the glass clean on the way out.  However, he bought this team in order to keep them here and I believe that.   Then again, he is a businessman and needs to do what is best for the business.  Who knows?  Either the city ponies up the cash or decides to cut the funding off and let the Rams walk.  I went to 4 games the past 2 seasons and even when we are winning, it’s like watching the stock exchange in a large warehouse.  Nothing.  There are factors here.  This city needs to pay its cops more and get more uniforms on the street and fix the city in order to keep crime under order, but having a football team is profitable.  Ultimately, you can’t argue with either decision.
  • The Los Angeles Kings finished off the New Jersey Devils tonight in six games to win the Stanley Cup.   I am not a fan of the Kings or Devils, but I love underdogs and admired the Kings run.   They got hot in April and never quit playing do or die hockey.    They were the more complete team, had the momentum, got the early lead and rode the shoulders of a rejuvenated lineup and the great play of goaltender Jonathan Quick.   I tip my cap to the Kings.  An 8th seed that never quit.
  • The NBA Finals open tomorrow and I will be watching.    It’s the best against the best here.  Two young players, Durant and Lebron, on top of the world playing for the title.   There’s a lot to like here, and while I wished the Celtics magically found a way around the Heat, I like the idea of Lebron having to go through the best home team in the NBA for the prize.   He promised 6 rings, and will have to break down a serious wall to lock onto one of them.   Lebron is the most polarizing figure in pro sports, and Durant is the well liked young giant.   It’s the perfect good against bad matchup that networks, casual fans and diehard ballers can all appreciate.   Who gets their first ring?  The beloved superstar turned ultimate villain who left home to get a title or the young gun who has stayed at home to this point in order to bring his town their first championship?  They finished 1-2 in MVP votes and I have a feeling this series goes 7 games.
  • My coffee urge starts in the morning.   I don’t find a way to avoid the morning temptation.  I head straight for the Starbucks in Kirkwood, making my way into the joint like a muscled zombie in need of fusion.   I get the morning bold pick and suck it down.   I usually head there after a workout in the evening for an iced coffee, usually coming in at over 30 ounces.   It is something I need and run on.  Without coffee, I am sure I would hurt small children at least once a day.   I will soon be a gold card member because I am loading my card up and spending on it at will.   There is something calming and assured about a cup of coffee.  For a little while, you can sit there with a simple cup of hot liquid and get a mood and body boost.  No vitamins or supplements required.  Just java bold.  I add a little sugar to my coffee but most of the time drink it bold and black.   It’s worth the breath and smell afterwards.   Smelling like coffee is like smelling like a man.   It must sting the nostrils or its too soft a blend. I also press my own cup at work when I miss the morning stop.  I have a press at home and at work.   I have come to love making up names for my bold concoctions.   Such as…

 

-Buffa’s Italian Chest Hair Blend

 

-Gorilla Pube Infusion

 

-Gunpowder Blend

 

-Lead Shots

 

-Biff Webster Delight

 

  • Film Addict provides plenty of perks and one of them is movie screenings, which are now press screenings for the FA staff, such as myself.   We get invites and take our pick.   Tonight, I saw Rock of Ages and allow me to tell you it wasn’t good and fed my natural hatred for musicals.   A movie feature length version of Glee with a couple cool performances from Tom Cruise and Russell Brand.   Prometheus was very good because it presented interesting questions about the creation of mankind and didn’t need to answer all of them.   Read my Prometheus review now at http://www.film-addict.com/dose-of-buffa.   Get The Rock of Ages review on Friday at the same place.
  • Tomorrow I screen Adam Sandler’s latest turd-to-be, That’s My Boy and Thursday it’s the Pixar creation Brave.  The slate is getting full but no movie tromps the anticipation that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter presents.   My favorite president getting the makeover action treatment.   That comes next week.
  • One of the harshest parts of being a father while working 50 hours a week is finding time to be with him.  My current situation doesn’t allow me the time at home for Vinny to feel as comfortable with me as he does with Rachel.   She has unfortunately been out of work for 10 months and be with Vinny every day, so he clings to her more.   Clinging is fine, but when you try to give the kid medicine at 10pm without waking him up and he gets upset to a point to where you need to call in the wife for help, its helplessly demoralizing.  A night was upended an hour ago when I couldn’t get his heard meds down without pissing him off.  That prompted a fight between my wife and I, one of our first serious fights in a couple weeks.  When things go wrong with Vinny, I can get frustrated to a point to where it looks like I am being mean to the kid and that is not true.  It’s the unbearable tendency that you are playing catch up with your wife and in this department, it hurts down to the bone.  If I happen to be out of work, I can ride my severance for a couple weeks and get some makeup time with Vincent.  I love the kid more than anything and sometimes feel like I am arriving to the party late.  A incurable feeling.  That’s part of life.
  • Here’s my lesson in life, derived from my current situation and overall frame of mind.    Take it or leave it.  I see life as a game of trying to stay in the middle.  Be yourself but surprise people.   If you’re too reserved, people say you are no fun.   If you’re too wild, people call you dangerous.    If you don’t gamble, you’re playing it safe.  If you gamble and you lose, you are a bad bet.  It doesn’t matter what people think in the end.  It matters what you think of yourself.   That’s life.  Changing events can happen any day.  Kids.  Death.  Work stoppages.  Stuffing hobbies, pauses and passion into the regular mix of life’s chores is the task we all face.

 

And with that last bit of deep prose and introspection, my time is up.  Thanks for reading and spending a little time here.   Hopefully it was worth the minutes.

 

Goodnight and Good Luck,

 

 

 

Dan L. Buffa

 

 


Buffa’s Take

Starting this rant with excuses about my four week absence would only drain the following bullets unloaded from my overloaded chamber, so let’s just say I have been away on business.   If you know me well, you understand my time crunch situation.  If you don’t, think of it as a duty that found itself at the back of the line.   Let me go ahead and run straight into the gauntlet of hot topics.   First, my take on the Rogues in Red, the St. Louis Cardinals.  

Warning: This will be a long blog.  Epic length that shocks Poe, kicks Hemingway in his grave and hands the poets another cup of scotch.   It has been awhile and if you have ever seen a coffee addict tackle his or her first cup of coffee after lent(I have, its something to behold), you will understand the journey I am about to take you on.  

The Cards endurance test hit a massive speed bump in mid May.   This team personifies the lyrics from the Frank Sinatra classic, That’s Life.   They were riding high in April and got shot down in May.   They need to change the tune and get back on top in June before mid season finds them at a deadly crossroads.   There are reasons for a team falling apart and for this group, it’s easy.  I call it the tripod of doom.   Bad pitching, sloppy defense and a tougher schedule.   After facing their own NL Central crews for a solid month, the Cards ran into the East/West trap.   They struggled on the road, got no hit by Johan Santana, saw their rotation severely struggle and their bullpen has followed that up with burnt out arms and extended leads handed to the other team.   Take out the 3 game offensive cold streak last weekend, and the lineup has done their job.   The Cardinals lead the league in batting average, runs scored and home runs.   When your lineup scores 8 runs and loses two games in two weeks, the pitching isn’t holding up their end of the bargain.   The Cards troubles don’t end with a lack of performance.  They have gotten hammered early on with injuries again, which will be discussed in the next section.    The good thing for this team is it’s only June 8th.    Slumps, tough games and bad habits don’t land too hard in June.  Teams can pick themselves up.   Baseball is a game of attrition and endurance.   162 games are played for a reason.   A long season frustrates fans, puts managers on the hot plate, throws general managers into a monopoly frenzy and tests a players resolve.  It’s all part of the game.  The question is, can the Cardinals survive a little adversity and learn to thrive again without playing bad teams.  The answer lies in their 2011 season ending run that led to a title.  Doubting this team would be futile to a smart fan’s plans.  As Rocky Balboa told his kid, it’s about taking the punches and keep moving forward.  Taking the hits and keeping the legs moving.  Do what you can.  Seasons aren’t won in September. They are won in May and June when a team decides to give up or fight back against the natural flow of bad play and injuries.

More Notes on the team-

*Matt Adams has been impressive in his time here.   He started 12 consecutive games and hit decent yet did something very rare for a young slugger.  He adjusted to pitchers on the fly.  In at least 3 games, he struggled early on and later delivered a big hit.   Adams wasn’t supposed to play here this year, but he is giving the team a reason to keep him around or remember his impact.   Matt “Biff Webster Country Fried Steak”  Adams isn’t wasting his time and it’s good to see the depth on the farm producing solid talent.

*Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia experienced horrible months of May.   Westbrook couldn’t last more than 5 innings, gave up a ton of early runs and hit a wall.   Garcia started hot, collapsed with 3 bad starts, and now finds himself looking  for a second opinion on his shoulder.  The Cards rotation is being held up by Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright.   Kyle Lohse has experienced setbacks in May but pitched decent as of late.   Without Chris Carpenter and soon to be missing Garcia, the rotation strength will only be further tested.   Brandon Dickson or Joe Kelly will make starts when interleague play starts at Busch against the Indians this weekend.   Questions will be answered but we know right now Westbrook is expendable and Garcia is damaged.   Rotation thinness is showing.

*Allen Craig is a hitting machine and providing evidence that 2011 was no fluke.   In 21 games, he has 7 home runs and 22 RBI.   He has missed 20 plus games to injuries but when he is in the lineup, he hits big and collects clutch hits.  The lineup gets better with his presence.   Holliday and Beltran get more protection and he pairs nicely with Yadi Molina and David Freese.   As long as Craig stays in and gets support from Adams, Lance Berkman won’t be missed.

*While the offense thrives and obvious players get attention, one man that is quietly exploding at the plate in 2012 is Molina.  He is hitting .328 with 8 HR and 32 RBI.  He had 10 HR in over 500 at bats in 2011.   Molina lost weight, changed his stance and has gotten even better at the plate.  His trademark eye is intact but his power numbers are up.   He is just another replacement bullet in losing Albert Pujols.

*As I write, David Freese has put the Cards on top huge in the Astros game tonight with a 7th inning grand slam.   The score is now 12-2 in favor of St. Louis.   This is an example of the Cards lineup picking up the pitching.   After Lance Lynn put them behind 2-0 early on, the Cards erased it with a 3 run 3rd inning.   They added on and added on and now Freese drills in the nail.   On a night where the pitching needed to go deep, the bats have silenced the Texas night and produced a seemingly positive end to a treacherous road trip.  Through bad pitching and bullpen meltdown, the bats have kept working.  Forgetting about a three day stretch in New York where the Cards scored 1 run in 29 innings against Santana, R.A. Dickey, and Jonathon Niese, the lineup has given its fair share of support.  Tonight is only an example.

*It’s easy to give the bullpen more blame than the rotation.   I beg to differ.  The Cards rotation’s main problems came down to a lack of innings produced.   When the starter gives up 4-6 runs in the first inning and pitches less than 5 innings, bad things will happen.  The bullpen is forced to pitch a lot of innings and crumbles.   This happens with any bullpen in baseball, trust me.   The domino effect came into play when the starter’s came up short on back to back games.   Bullpen arms are engineered to pitch a certain amount of innings.   Look at Fernando Salas last season.  He was a weapon in June and a casualty in September.  Too many innings wear down any arm.

-I like Matheny’s style because it mixes in the La Russa way and his own skill set.

-Shane Robinson, Tyler Greene and Adron Chambers aren’t legit major league players but they are feeling holes and providing.   Robinson plays a great defensive center field, takes a good at bat, gives you the occasional power stroke and gets on base.   Greene gives you the speed factor, power stroke and defense along with a ton of strikeouts.   Chambers is a .300 hitter with speed who also serves as a clubhouse leader.  The Memphis trio is doing its part until the professionals come back to work.

*Anything Daniel Descalso does at the plate is a big fat bonus.  The man’s glove in the field at second and third base is undeniably gold glove caliber effort.

*In a nutshell, what is hurting this team?  Injuries, tougher schedule, light innings from rotation, and bullpen eruption is dealing a blow to our division standing but once again, its early, chill out.

Main Idea With the Cards Moment of Distress-The Cards hospital waiting room is getting crowded.   Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter are on or have spent time on the disabled list.   While Craig returned last week, David Freese has missed time with a hand injury and Carlos Beltran is already gingerly playing the outfield on sore knees.  The result of many years in the grinding halt of 162 game seasons.   We have a lot of games left and a lot of dates with The Reds, so fear not Cards fans.  It’s early, and while the blood on the walls suggests a dark future, the fight in this team and the depth is holding them afloat.   Imagine a stretch where the Cards are completely healthy.    Yes, a lead of 3 runs or less handed to the bullpen right now is like handing a 5 year old a live grenade.   The starters are getting smashed early but arms like Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright are only getting stronger.   Wainwright pitched his first complete game in over 200 games last week against the Padres and that brought him back from the dead land of self esteem deprived elite pitchers.   Lynn collected his 8th win on Monday.   There are four Cardinals with at least 10 home runs.   Matt Adams has adjusted to pitching in the majors and is holding the fort at first base until Craig returns to help stage a platoon.  Beltran has 44 RBI and 16 home runs, and is making his 12 million stand up in the same manner as Ex-Astro Berkman did in 2011.  Bats will slow down, arms will rise and fall, managers will stress and wonder, but the season will simply keep moving.   You learn these things following a baseball team passionately and obsessively.  It’s a long road and I’m on it.  The real question is…are you?

Moving onto other less painful topics-

*The Russian is coming to town and his name is Vladamir Tarasenko.   The 20 year phenom is making his way to America from the KHL for lesser money in order to take the next step in professional sports.   He is trying to become a worldwide talent.   Tarasenko turned down a three year deal in the Russian hockey league in order to join the Blues and while hesitation sets in like any draft pick in any sport, this kid makes you anxious for winter ice wars.  Prospects provide the excitement and registered dread in fans because we don’t know what the transition talent provides.  The Tarasenko signing means things get interesting in 2012-2013, because who leaves and who stays?   Obviously, the quick moves are Matt D’Agostini, BJ Crombeen and one of the vets in Langenbrunner and Arnott not coming back next season.   T.J. Oshie will sign the 1-2 year deal unless the team feels they don’t need him.  He is a fan favorite who nets 18-19 goals per season and gives you the energy lacking in other players.   He is the expendable asset in the kid line, because Perron gives you the all around skill set and Patrik Berglund gives you the size and ability that Chris Stewart sometimes lacks.  The Blues have to decide if they want to get older or go all in with young players.   Berglund staying meaning Stewart can go?   If Oshie leaves, does Jaden Schwartz get a bigger role or does Tarasenko get a spot on one of the top two lines?   Your keepers are David Backes, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jaro Halak, McDonald, Steen, Berglund, and Perron.   Tarasenko’s landing means a roster shakeup is in order.

*The Rams dome issues come down to this.   Does the city want to pay for the fixes or do they want to watch it go and resist a second chance at a football team?   If they don’t comply with The Rams demands and the dome falls out of the t0p 15 home stadiums ranking, the lease is broke in 2014 and the team leaves.   Remember people, the lease lasts until the end of 2014.    The Rams presented the city with the required work to turn the dead end Ed Dome into a place that people want to watch football.   I like the idea of a retractable roof because this city won’t pay for another stadium to be built.   If Ballpark Village hit a wall, a new place for the Rams won’t get past the early stages of planning.  The only way to keep the Rams here is to make the required constructive repairs and additions to the Dome.   I like it.   Put in a retractable roof so outdoor games are possibility.   Put in a new gallery outside the dome to pull people in.  Install creative fixtures inside around the field.    Look, Stan Kroneke will have to put his own investment in the new Dome repairs if he wants to see everything done properly.   My feeling is, the city will benefit from the Family Arena(which is connected to the Dome and shares revenue) and get revenue from the Rams games as well.  The city should pay for at least 2/3 of the repairs.   They will make plenty of money if the new Dome does well.   The Rams team is being rebuilt with new players and coaches, so there is hope here.  If the next three years yields a finer on field product and fans come out and fill the dome, I say make the repairs.  If not, the city will let the team walk away.   It’s up to them, because as much as Kroneke wants to keep the team here, he won’t bend his own finances over backwards to make it happen.   He has waited long enough for the Rams to be his and won’t risk losing them or putting them in the wrong situation.  The city council needs to figure out how bad they want the football team.  The ball is in there court.   I say come to an agreement on price and get the project done.   This is the city’s last chance at an NFL team.

*Messing with the Mayweathers makes my day.   Let me explain myself.   Before I was blocked by Roger Mayweather, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s uncle and trainer, last Saturday, I engaged in a back and forth twitter battle.   It was fun and lit a fire under Mayweather’s ass.   Roger Mayweather is a former fighter with a 59-13 record and a big loud annoying mouth.    His tweets end with “muthafucka” and usually involve a bet or slam on Manny Pacquiao, the only fighter who poses a real threat to his nephew.  This gave me the idea of messing with him with a flurry of Buffa bullets aimed at getting a rise out of Roger.   I messed with his lost bets(which ranged from 350,000 to 900,000 dollars on playoff basketball), his 13 losses, his big mouth and his willingness to expose himself with his massive hating.   Before long, I was known in the Mayweather family and friend clan as “the bald pedophile who looks like Dana White”.   I wore the label proud.   The name calling continued and understand the entire time I am reaping the benefits of getting on Roger’s nerves from so far away.   He could launch a tirade on my family and call me anything.   That was my job being done for me.   When he finally blocked me after I tossed him my 6th handful of shit on his nephew spending 50-87 days in a 7 by 12 foot jail cell with no millions, he blocked me.   I also follow Floyd Mayweather Sr. but chose to leave him alone.  One Mayweather per month is enough.    Go ahead and ask the question.

Why did I mess with Roger Mayweather so much?  First, I don’t like loud trash talking old average fighters who make no difference as a trainer.   Second and more importantly, I don’t put a lot of stock into trainers, coaches or side shows in a big league sport.   I believe that Floyd Jr. would be the same kind of brilliant fighter without Roger in his corner.   With the rare exception being Freddie Roach or Dave Duncan(who connect with their pupils), trainers/coaches don’t make a bit of difference.   Watching Roger train with Floyd is like watching an old man cling to boxing life.   He doesn’t teach him anything.  He doesn’t help him too much.  All he does is cash a check.   Floyd would argue with me until I threw a stack of cash into the corner for him to play with.   Ask Floyd if Roger wanted a bigger cut from the fights and see how important he is.   I don’t think so.

*The Los Angeles Kings are on the brink of disposing of the New Jersey Devils and bringing home the first Stanley Cup to their town in a long time.   Something poor Wayne Gretzky could never do in uniform could happen this weekend.   The same team that easily kicked out the Canucks, schooled the young Blues, and sawed the Pekka Rinne led Predators down to size is up on the Devils, three games to one.  If the Kings win, it’s a triumph for Darryl Sutter and the 8th seeded team.   They are a signature impression of the team playing the best hockey wins the Cup and not the league’s best team.   The league’s most complete team could be the Flyers or Rangers, and they both perished.  The Kings played hot in April and haven’t stopped winning.   The acquisition of Jeff Carter, the play of Dustin Brown and the goaltending of Jonathan Quick.  Martin Brodeur can’t stop the mighty Kings train and when they win(and they will), the NHL will only get stronger.  A different champion each year displays the power throughout the league. Dynasties are boring.    The Kings are the underdog winners of the year.   Look for them on HBO.

*The Cardinals win 14-2 on two Freese homers(Grand slam, two run blast) and another strong Lance Lynn performance.   Lynn is now 9-2 and has held up through the middle of June.   Many picked him to fall down last month and he has maintained his sturdy rotation presence.   Wainwright and Lynn saved the Cards road trip with back to back “bend without breaking” performances.  The offense delivered tonight as well, giving 4 home runs and forcing the Astros to use a position player on the mound in the 9th.  Now we come home for the Indians, without Harry Doyle, Rick Vaughn and Jake Taylor.

*Can Lebron take down the Celtics?   The question posed last week and throughout the playoffs is the big mountain that Lebron can’t seem to climb over.   Tonight, he pushed another Game 7 in the East finals.   Lebron isn’t going down without a fight and the Celtics, my personal favorite team, won’t catch up to father time and quit.   A great battle that will provide an answer to the earlier question.  Can Lebron step up and take control like the greats before him or will he shrink, hand off the ball and let the game play him?   Since he left Cleveland for South Beach, Lebron has rightfully faced a ton of scrutiny and pressure from the fans.   He made a huge decision and jumped a title-less ship in order to join a star studded roster and win as many as six rings.   Instead of winning last year, he choked in the Finals against Dallas.   This season, he is having problems with Paul Pierce and the Celtics.   James won’t take the big shot and instead passes it off.  Instead of standing up and taking a three pointer, he passes.  Instead of driving the lane and drawing a foul, he charges and passes.   He has always been a selfless player and expert defender and passer, but I am talking about a lack of confidence and hesitation here.  Tonight, he delivered with 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists to keep the Heat alive.  The bigger question is…. can he deliver again to seal another trip to the NBA finals?   We all know Lebron can take over a game and win it by himself, like he did tonight.   He needs to do it Saturday night or else all will be forgotten.  You have to win titles in this league and not just MVP trophies.

*Can Kevin Durant get past the Spurs?  Yes he can, because Russell Westbrook is his classic wingman and helped Durant overcome a 2-0 series deficit and storm back to win 4-2.   Durant is the big time young talent in basketball at the moment and all he needs is a title win to clamp his feet in the ground.    His tale mirrors the fight of the Celtics and Lebron.    An old trio fighting to stay alive, a former superstar turned polarizing figure, and a bright young warrior trying to put his name on the game’s mantle.   The NBA doesn’t get interesting until the playoffs begin.  Everything comes to a head this weekend.

*Film Addict Plug- Here’s a clue to my time issues the past month.  A small passion project called Film Addict.   A movie website that looks great, had new juicy material and needs members and marketing plugs.   Allow me to dish on new things going on with the site.   My piece on Robert Downey Jr. is up on the site under “On A Role”.  I go back over the long brutal career of RDJ and provide his comeback story.   Eric Moore provided a cinema spotlight on Granite City theater, highlighting their unique qualities.  Chris McHugh, Moore and I plug the site with new reviews every week.    I am injecting my daily dose of Buffa into our news feed page.   The small perks of this side job is getting to watch movies for free at screenings.  Being on the list of screenings means less money spent and more movies seen.   I have 3 films lined up next week, and they are Rock of Ages, That’s my Boy and Brave.  Reviews go up on Fridays unless by special mention and insight is given in a format that is only sharpening my movie reviewing ways.   The Addicts Corner, where we introduce topics and invite fan reaction is our key spot of the website.   Hearing your feedback is our main goal and can only feed the site.  The problem is marketing and advertising.  The boys and I have bought shirts and are handing out business cards and fliers, but we need the word spread.   Go to http://www.film-addict.com, and see for yourself.   If you like the site, recommend it to anyone.  The target is every single person on this earth.     Give it life and we’ll give right back.

 *The Job Hunt Begins in a month.  Life changing events always sneak up on you.  My company, Senoret Chemical, is folding up the chairs, closing shop and dropping the curtain in three weeks.   At the end of June, I will be out of a job.   My owner, Tom Kraatz, sold the company and a lot of people who worked hard for the company are out of work.   It is a business matter, doesn’t involve much hate on my end, but the sting is all the same.   I am out of work in less than a month and in a job I have grown to feel comfortable in.   However, opportunities only knock when change strikes, so I am in for a new ride.   There is a lot of shit and shine to this situation, but one that comes out of the other end is my need to find new life in a new career.    All can wish Film Addict could produce faster than expected, but baby websites take years to return any profit.  If you hear of any work, send it my way.  I have a resume ready to send out, thanks to my beautifully adaptable wife Rachel.

*Manny Pacquiao faces a huge test this weekend against Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, and the fact that Bradley is an undefeated bulldog hard working competitor runs second to Pac-Man needing a good showing after his controversial win over Juan Marquez in November.   Pacquiao looked out of sync, slower, more hittable and not as sharp against his long time adversary and nearly lost if it weren’t for a little hometown bias.   He faces a fresh young talent in Bradley, who has never faced a large scale mega opponent like Manny.   Each fighter needs each other and this fight to prove to themselves what they are worth right now.   Pacquiao needs a tuneup before Floyd gets out of jail and Bradley needs to find out if he has what it takes to stand with the top fighters.   Who wins is anyone’s bet, but my hard earned cash would be on Pacquiao, who has too much to lose at this point.  He has gone two knees and a long throat deep on GOD, re-motivated himself, and looks ready to return to killer Manny pound mode.   Can Manny remind us who he used to be or will he continue to be distracted by his political title in the Philippines and lose sight of what he is truly good at?   He can do good for his country long after his fighting days are over.   Right now, he needs to focus on boxing and becoming the best.

*I love music that moves me someplace else.   Tunes that crawl inside the veins and swim around for a few hours before departing to my playlist mixes.   That’s the beauty of music.  Everything about it seems right when it is done…wait for it…right.   You know right away if it works or not.   Here are six songs that are working for me right now.

Andrew James O’ Brien-Through the Days

The Lumineers-Ho Hey

David Gray-Shine

Band of Skulls-Wanderluster

Nina Simone-Feeling Good

James Brown-The Payback

*The power of Mad Men’s fifth season is leaving imprints on my soul.   In other words, the latest season is fucking good.   After a two year wait that was spent working out the details between creator Matthew Weiner and AMC coming to an agreement, the episodes this season have been so well done, one can’t decide if the layoff did any good or if you wish the crew never stopped working.  What’s going on this year?  Let me throw you a few bones you may or may not understand.  The young advertising firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce,  is struggling to land big accounts after the loss of Lucky Strike, with its main figure, Don Draper(the coiled rage master Jon Hamm), also struggling to maintain his edge and brilliance amid changes in the home and workplace.   Everything spins off Draper’s centerpiece.  A sea of lost souls rotating around one man living off a fake identity.   Season 5 is where my lovely crush Christina Hendricks saw her character Joan’s story fleshed out and taken to the forefront of the show.   Roger Sterling(the wonderful John Slattery) trying to keep his dying trade noticeable.    The scenes between Slattery and Hamm are old school bravado at its finest.   Two worn souls talking like old lions chasing a young man’s game is money.  In the last episode, the second to last of the season, Hamm nailed a Draper pitch to Dow Chemical, telling them bluntly, ” Success is only good because its temporary. You already ate a meal and you’re hungry again. I’m not happy with 50 percent of anything. I want 100 percent and I won’t stop until I get it”.   Ad men with blood on their mouth chasing down the pitch of a lifetime is Emmy award winning television.   The work by Jared Harris as the tragically doomed character, Lane Pryce, has been stunning this season as well.   Mad Men keeps you interest levels high at all times.   It makes for good and addictive television.  The season finale is this weekend and it won’t leave without taking a piece of me and pouring me a couple drinks.

*Charlie Sheen is making another comeback to television this month with Anger Management on FX.    I will be watching.  Why?   It’s fun to watch the Sheen madness, and its only juicier if we know he is basically playing himself on camera.   People get so annoyed with this guy but I love his attitude, whatever comes out of his mouth rapid fire tommy gun fucked up confidence game and overall appeal.   He has been this way for quite some time.   The top just popped off last year in a contract dispute with Two and a Half Men, a shitty show Sheen held up for many years before departing.     Think of it in the same manner as Mel Gibson finally losing his cool.   These are people my friends and not mere actors.   They are as dramatic as your next door neighbor or best friend.  Part of the problem with people and celebs like Sheen is they take them too seriously.  We all want to think he is simply acting out a role.  90 percent of artists are addicted to something and as crazy as the next psych ward patient inside while displaying happiness on the outside.   Sheen’s raging crazy streaks have marked his entire career.  The kid spent most of his first 10 years on the road with his actor father, Martin.   He spent many hours on the Apocalypse Now set with Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper spinning tales with his dad.   You think Charlie is acting?   Wrong.   Charlie Sheen is fucking crazy and it’s highly enjoyable to watch.  His madness is the sell.   You don’t get this anywhere else.  It would only get better if Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez would join him for a family reality show on HBO.  The best part about Sheen’s madness is he hasn’t apologized for his behavior in order to save his career.   He has never made excuses for his behavior early in his career where he challenged James Spader to who could arrive to the Wall Street set more hungover.  According to Martin, Charlie is the most honest person he knows and has never resisted the hits that come with his turbulent life.    He has made Hollywood dance to his tune.   He got a show because they came to him with an idea and pitch.   Please don’t doubt Sheen’s television rock star status.   He took over Spin City for Michael J. Fox and turned it into an even bigger hit than it was before he arrived.   Then he made Two and A Half a global hit.   A stupid comedy about a pair of dudes living with a kid trolling through life on a sitcom set.   Sheen played himself, a bowling shirt, boozing, womanizing wild man who never gave up.  When show creator Chuck Lorre refused to write episodes for Sheen and the cast when he got out of rehab early, Sheen went off.   Lost in the media spin was Sheen making a plea for his cast and crew to get paid.   People love to prop wild things like Sheen as a poster child for “Please Avoid This When Older”.   Rightfully so in a way, but still, they get carried away when they embrace other crazies in Hollywood.  Rolling Stone put him on the cover this week because they wanted a wild story.   Charlie Sheen has been mad for years.  He is now being paid to be mad as hell.  I would spend a night on the town with this man, lose my mind and come home to return to sanity.   However, I bet I wouldn’t forget that night.  That’s Charlie Sheen.  Unforgettable.

*In other boxing news, Sugar Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito finally hung up their gloves and retired.    Quite simply, it’s about damn time.   How many more fights did Mosley need to take a pounding and how blind would Antonio need to get in order to recover his logic.   It’s time to seek other work, possibly in a line of duty where you don’t get punched for a living.

*Glen Hansard, formerly of the Swell Season and the Frames, is coming to the Pageant in September.   This singer-songwriter is immensely talented and tells sweetly proud stories in between songs and his live work is genuine.   Musicians get the final stamp of approval from me when they can sound great on stage.   Come watch this man play and you won’t be disappointed.   You may well be enlightened.

*In July, my favorite band, The Dave Matthews Band, returns to St. Louis after a two year layoff that included a vacation in 2011 for the band.    For the first time in 16 years, the band took a summer off for the most part, except for a four show caravan tour.   This only wet the lips of fans seeking their DMB fix, so on July 12th it will be time once again to get lost under the lights and dark of night with Mr. Matthews and his crew of jam specialists.

*True Blood is a good if not great show.  Save me the speech or joiner plea.   It has a rapidly attentive fan base and I am not one of those diehards.  I like it enough as a guilty pleasure soap opera with real sex and hardcore violence.   The acting is decent, the blood is frequently spilled and the lady love is strong.    I don’t NEED to watch it.  It’s not that good.

*Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises opens in July and the expectations on this end are greater than usual.   This is my pick for the film of the year.   Nolan’s last two Batman sagas have set up the grand finale that he is calling his “biggest film yet”.   This coming from a famously secretive and quiet genius filmmaker.   Why am I so excited?  Nolan creates “big” films with realistic settings.   He used 11,000 extras to film a climactic battle scene in downtown Pittsburgh.   He travels to actors homes to have them read the scripts and he waits while they read it.   This happened with Michael Caine, one of the most famous British actors of all time.  Nolan makes films for a creative reason and not just a financial gain or job title filling.  His final chapter to the Batman series is promising because he threw all his weight into the design and execution.   Nolan is the kid who makes good on a bet.   He took the challenge of reviving a dead franchise and did so with flying colors so bright the series is a critical and box office sensation.  It’s hard to doubt Nolan’s vision because his aim is so sharp.

*The growth of Vinny.   The kid is the light of my life.   You understand that saying when you have a kid.   They take over your life, kidnap your soul and never let go….even when they call you horrible things, see you as the entitlement of embarrassment and go away to college.  This is the way things go down with parenthood.   I love it even when I hate it.   At his worst, Vinny is an adorable drunk.   At his best, his laugh can lift your day up faster than a pair of hands could lift up a chair that fell down in the middle of a party.   He is a gem.   He is officially crawling, flirting with older women, and negotiating words.   In other words, he is spitting out random sounds, a few relatively normal sounding words and seeing how they all add up and stick together.   He is coming along so fast.  25 pounds and over 2 feet of madness.

*Softball istaking its toll on a 30 year old man.   While I am in good shape and a decent player, the lazy sport taxes the shit out of me.  Allow me to explain my situation.  I took the field this week for the first time in 8 months.   I sub on teams from time to time and my good friend R.J. Morrison’s team is a frequent service.   It’s a thrill, even when you left the sport due to a lack of time, to get on the field and mix it up.  I play the game of softball as hard as you can.  I dive on rock hard dirt for grounders, slide into home plate to lose the skin on my calf(scars on both legs to prove it), and always go from 1st to 3rd on a single.  I don’t always crush the ball but I get on base and I wreck the other team’s plans.   I play a solid first base and just like being one of the guys on a team and not the leader lately in the Forest Park field of play.   I spent 5 years leading a team so these days I am happy to be a supporting leg on a much better team.   However, being older means your body can’t recover as quick as it used to.   That’s the real painful part of sports.  Recovery.  We can all get out there and shake a leg.   My 58 year old dad could get back out there, pitch, hit and run the bases.   When he gets home, his knees will need ice and a 8 hour bed rest with moans and groans.   Its the after party that pain catches up to you.   That’s the kicker when you get old….er!  A sport as lazy and fat man happy as softball can take its toll on a 30 year old body who goes after it on a field of play.

Closing Thoughts(yes this has been the longest damn rant in 3 months, but it’s still got legs)

*Prometheus is worth your hard earned money this weekend at the theaters.  There’s your one Rant Members List tidbit from my Film Addict review page, located right here

http://film-addict.com/news-and-reviews/a-dose-of-buffa/item/337-prometheus

*Will The Saints ever cut out the monkey business and give Drew Brees his money?  If the Colts gave Peyton his monstrous contract before he went under the knife and the Patriots amped up Tom Brady’s bank account right after knee surgery, the Saints need to give Drew his cash.  He has turned that franchise around and brought a Super Bowl to a tragically ripped apart city.  He produces every year and is an elite quarterback.   If they think the bounty hunting scandal and the loss of Sean Payton  is bad, think about being without Brees when the first game goes under the clock in September.  Nightmares follows.

*The Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox will be no pushovers when they hit Busch this week.  The Cardinals need to jump off their Texas boner 2 game winning streak and dig in deep and get a surprise series win this homestand.

*Fatherhood only gets to you if you let it.   Seriously, take a minute when your kid lets loose and just remind yourself that the person screaming bloody murder in front of you is your production and in some crazy way, is communicating with you.

*Remember the beer, Tank 7, a Boulevard product out of Kansas City.   A Smokestack series brew that stings the nostrils and buries the hatchet of a rough week better than any cup of coffee.   It’s hoppy, bitter, and a direct effect beer.   You take a sip and immediately know what you’ve gotten yourself into.  It’s delicious and my recommendation of the week.

With that beer crush, I am done.   My work is finished and I need to get on with the evening.   Somewhere, I am needed elsewhere.  I may not know it yet, but I can make a fair bet my name is being called right now.   It’s not fatherhood.  It’s not work.  It’s not the website.  It’s a life that needs to be lived.

Thanks for reading and come back next time for more madness.

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

A Buffa Rant

“Life is like sucking honey from a thorn.   There’s good times and bad times. “-Robert De Niro in The Killer Elite

There are things to discuss and a fair amount of time has passed since my last posting here in the Buffa Rant Lounge, so let’s dive right in.   In no logical order, I am going to fire off about a few things but I will give them a number.   Here are 12 things to talk about.

First, an opening rant-I don’t like the assumption that baseball players aren’t as skilled as hockey players.   Bullshit.  That is a wrong statement.  This isn’t a knock against hockey players but a simple correction.   Let’s look at this bluntly.   You could train a baseball player to skate and shoot a puck with a stick.   It would harder to take a hockey player to hit a moving fastball or wait on a curveball or throw one.   Hockey and football are games of supreme athleticism and skill, but it must be known that baseball involves the hard task of hitting exploding sliders and nasty offspeed offerings from some of the best pitchers on the planet.    Baseball requires a mental and physical skill and in my opinion, is as skillful if not more so than hockey.  Skating isn’t required in baseball but all you have to do is look at the old fashion matchup of pitcher and hitter to see how hard it is.   Skating and shooting can be taught quicker than hitting moving baseballs and throwing them.   You ever seen a non baseball player throw a baseball.  It’s not pretty.   Just saying.  Let’s get on with it.

1.)The Cardinals.   Yes, the rogues in red continue to play good baseball while remaining a step away from greatness.   At 20-12, they are easily leading the feeble NL Central but are running into the gauntlet of outer divisional matchups for the next few weeks.   After playing their own divisional foes for 30 plus games, the Cards battled the Diamondbacks and are welcoming the Braves at Busch this weekend.   Last night’s 9-7 loss in 11 innings brought to light the wonder of this team and the question marks.   The good part is our offense is powerful and firing on every cylinder available.  Carlos Beltran’s signing looks like expertly invested cash.  The vet is sitting with 12 home runs and 29 runs batted in and coming up with huge go ahead hits.   In Lance Berkman’s absence, Allen Craig has cranked 4 homers and along with Matt Carpenter, is making first base a well oiled machine.   David Freese continues his quiet assault on NL pitching, racking up 25 RBI as pitchers continue to think they can get him out on the outside corner instead of pounding him inside with heat.   The Cardinals swept the D-Backs and battled the Braves close and it’s good to know this team can hang with better teams.  Atlanta is the first team to give the Cards a true challenge, as the Central division teams only gave our Redbirds a chance to beat themselves.   Losing two walkoff shots to the Cubs at Wrigley or failing to register a sweep of the Reds, Brewers and Pirates stung but didn’t reveal a real weakness.  Sure, in July, the Cards will look back and wish they pushed the knife into the jugular when the chance was present, but April and May is all about winning series’ and establishing a solid form of play.   This team has weaknesses.  Their lefthanded relief isn’t strong, with Rzep struggling and JC Romero being the worst “flier” signing of the winter.   Their starting pitching has shown flashes of brilliance and domination, but also has trouble collecting 6 innings of work.   Adam Wainwright is looking better but has given up 7 home runs.   Kyle Lohse got bruised against the Astros this past week, but rebounded against the D-Backs.   Jake Westbrook is looking sharp but not getting run support.  Jaime Garcia enjoyed a fine April but is getting blasted early in starts in May.   Lance Lynn is the silver bullet of the rotation so far with a 6-0 record to go with a 1.40 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.  My two biggest appreciations fall in Beltran and Rafael Furcal, who is hitting .362 with 24 runs scored and 46 hits.  Furcal is meeting the hype that his contract provided in January.  He has become the leadoff bat that the Cardinals have been coveting for years and supplying the sure handed defense in the field.  Many complained about the contracts of Beltran and Furcal and while their health is a walking question mark, their production right now is anchoring a lineup that isn’t at full speed.  Imagine a lineup with Craig lurking as your extra bullet in the hole.   The goal facing this team will be to maintain the offensive attack and get more innings from their rotation.  For all the little bumps and bruises ran into by the bullpen, their work has been solid thus far.   The lineup and rotation are the team’s life support lines and right now, each is strong enough to carry a team weakened by the absence of two of their top players in Berkman and Chris Carpenter.  Are Craig and Lynn legit or mere 2 month band aides?

2.)The Blues.   After beating the Sharks in the opening round, the LA Kings swept the Blues and ended their run.   Taking the loss into perspective, the Blues season was a still a fiery success and something to build off of for the future.   After Ken Hitchcock came on board and installed new styles of play and an attitude into the team core, the Blues were the best team in the NHL for the last 4 months of the season.   Their defensive first approach and goaltender strengthened attack launched them to a 2nd place finish in the Western Conference.   After early trouble, they quickly delivered a knock out punch to the Sharks to advance into the second round against the Kings.  While hopes were high that the series would deliver a thriller, the Kings were too much for the Blues.    The failure was on a group effort, The main issue was the Blues lost their two man attack in net.  Jaro Halak injured his ankle badly in the Sharks series and his absence helped expose the weakening skill set of Brian Elliot.  Elliot was stellar against the Sharks but against the Kings multi-layered attack, he allowed bad goals and in heavy doses.  His play in front of rookie Jake Allen left the team with few options and led to the demise of the playoff run.  The Blues defense, namely Carlo and Jackman, gave up two many odd man rushes and allowed the Kings to apply constant pressure in front of Elliot.  The Blues took a ton of bad penalties and their disciplined play went missing in Game’s 2 and 4.   Chris Stewart scored 3 goals after being benched in Game 2 but it wasn’t enough while most of the offensive players of the Blues didn’t provide anything.  The biggest strength during the season for this team was their goaltending tandem.   When Halak was weakening, the Blues were able to insert Elliot.  When the backup was starting to crack, the Blues had Halak waiting.   The strong play of both gave the Blues the protection against exposure.  Neither were required to start 4-5 games in a row, and they racked up 15 shutouts together and carried the team to the playoffs.  Upon Halak’s injury, the pressure was too much for Elliot, the defense weakened, the top 6 stopped scoring and the discipline disappeared.  The Blues weren’t undone by roster depth but by their own play forced upon them by domination from the Kings.   The LA Kings outworked them, beat them to pucks, were faster in their own zone and attacked our zone with more force and skated circles around our defenders, which led to Elliot’s fall.   In the end, the Blues were fed a spoonful of their own medicine.  Taking everything into account, the Blues accomplished something missing for 10 years.  A playoff win.   They collected 4 playoff wins and look to build on that with the new ownership in local businessman Tom Stillman and his group.   The team has holes to fill.  A powerful lefthanded defenseman and a proven goal scorer would boost the talents on this roster.  The cost will probably be one of the kids on the roster.   TJ Oshie or David Perron will have to be shipped out in a trade and my guess is Oshie, who is the less talented player of the two and a player that’s hard to gauge and build off of while measuring his excitement.   Patrik Berglund is signed up through next season but I wouldn’t rule his departure out either.  The core is David Backes, Alex Pietrangelo, and Andy McDonald.    Stillman will work with John Davidson and Hitchcock and work to fix the leaks in this Blues attack that must build on the playoff success accomplished this season.  You’re nothing if you take a step back.

3.)The Rams didn’t grab a flashy player in the NFL Draft but they filled holes.   Michael Brockers didn’t knock the socks off anyone but he will fortify a strong defensive line with middle power.  He will work on stopping the run attack that has hurt the Rams the past 3 seasons.  The Rams grabbed Brian Quick, a running back from Appalachian State with great tools but needing work.  A 220 pound 6′ 4” speed back who can complement Steven Jackson.  CB Janoris Jenkins has off field problems but amazing abilities on the football field.  He will team with offseason signing Cortland Finnegan and improve a terrible area for the defense.   In order to add depth, the Rams picked up RB Isiah Pead and CB Trumaine Johnson.   The Rams loaded up on players to fill holes instead of taking that big talent.   That move is hard to grade until we see performances on the field and playing time given.   I can say this team missed out on Michael Floyd, Fletcher Cox and Morris Claiborne but there is no proven guarantee that those players will pan out.  The draft is merely a gamble and fake representation of promise.   The Rams produced a helpful draft.   GM Les Snead found players that suited Jeff Fisher’s style of play and this season will go down as a Fisher experiment.  The Rams draft was bold, risky, impressive and unexpected overall.   They did things the hard way and if Steve Spagnuolo was in charge, he would be hung with the lack of starry selections.   Jeff Fisher installs a confidence in problem child picks and his pillars of winning football are under construction.  He is no wizard but someone you feel better with in charge.  We all wanted Justin Blackmon, including Fisher(whose reaction when Jacksonville stole the 5th spot was a simple “fuck”), but we live with the versatile picks.

4.)Being a greedy fan is part of the baseball.    I may sound greedy fan when I say the Cardinals need to sweep the Pirates and Brewers while winning the series is substantial enough but there is a plan behind my madness here.   Every game counts in this league.   If I need to cement my case for that, look to the last day of the 2011 season.   The Cards and Braves battling things out to the final out with the Red Sox and Rays doing the same thing in the American League.  Wild Card matchups only get more intense with the one game playoff in 2012.  You need to stick the knife into the other team’s jugular when you have the chance.  Do it often because now that the outer division matchups have started, those easy roads will start to look more distant.    As noted earlier, Beltran’s power presence is fueling a Cardinals attack that is scoring 65 more runs than their opposition.   Success within the division is a double edged sword.   The competition is weak but its good to know you can handle those team on a consistent basis.   We face the NL Central the most so we need to be effective.  When he is clicking, Matt Holliday’s violent swing can carry a team and one of the attributes of Holliday’s most forgotten by fans is his old school hustle.  No one plays the game harder than Holliday.   Watch him play day in and day out and make a case to differ with me and I will squash you.  David Freese is the best hitter with 2 strikes and 2 outs.

5.)While I won’t divulge any movie reviews, I will provide a few notes on trailers.    The Dark Knight Rises produced a second and eventful preview of Christopher Nolan’s finale to his Batman saga, and the final duel looks like a carbon copy of the Dark Knight with an additional amount of spice and political intrigue.   Batman is faced with a new bad guy, terrorist Bane(Tom Hardy) who is looking to burn Gotham to the ground and not just expose Batman like The Joker wanted to.   In Dark Knight, The joker didn’t just challenge the Batman straight up.  He challenged Batman’s carefully constructed world.  He thwarted Batman’s getaway plan by taking out Harvey Dent and his ambitions of being the new White Knight in Gotham.  The Joker turned Dent into a mad man but killing Batman’s love, Rachel Dawes.    He also turned the public against Batman by forcing him to go outside his justice comfort zone, challenging him to kill him and not merely arrest him.   He went after everything in Batman’s life and while losing the battle in the end, he won the war and pushed Batman to take the rap for Harvey’s killing spree and ride off as a fugitive.  In DKR, Bane is back and more deadly than the Joker because his plans are more bold and he brings something to the table the Joker did not and that’s the physicality to match Batman’s abilities.   Hardy took a page from Heath Ledger’s memorable playbook and went after the devil behind the face with Bane, a well known mad man in the Batman comics.   His scary voice, demeanor and physical power looks to have drained the older and casted out Caped Crusader.   Nolan doesn’t waste a punch and I expect his last hurrah to be legendary and pack a wallop.  Here is the trailer.

Also looking good in small dose tastings are The Expendables 2, Sylvester Stallone’s second ode to action heroes coming out in August.   Sly’s escapism combo pack reloaded now includes Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in bigger roles.   Think of this second chapter as bigger and badder when you think Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Jet Li and Randy Crews are returning.   Stallone will tell you but this is a simple gathering of friends with one goal in mind and that’s blow shit up and look cool doing it.   There is no bigger goal here than kicking ass and taking names.   Action films carry an art of their own and no one gets that more than writer, producer and star Stallone.   Look for this one to knock your socks off.   I wouldn’t be far off if I asked for Sly and Arnold to square off once and for all to see who the real badass is.

6.)  My new website, Film-Addict, is live and needs viewers and members.   Eric Moore, Chris McHugh and I created this movie website with the goal of one day doing it for a living but for now the passion project is meant to entertain and inform.  Tell a friend.   Tell them to inform 20 others and spread this.  My attempt at working for myself starts now.  That’s what the idea is.   The goal in life has to be working for yourself and leaving the days of working for somebody behind.   That’s the real American dream.   Making your own hours and doing it on your own.   Film Addict has launched.   Go there and enjoy the content.  Go to Addicts Corner and post your questions and thoughts.   Tell us if we are good.   Comment if we are wrong or need a second look.  Just give us some popularity by giving us your time.   Spread this preferred film flavor like a cocaine brushed wildfire.   That’s how these things go crazy and get interesting.

Instead of finding them here, go to http://www.film-addict.com/dose of buffa for my latest reviews on Avengers, Dark Shadows, Think Like A Man and Safe.

Once again, my website is http://www.film-addict.com and that is the place to find movie news, reviews, showtimes and fan forums that recreate connection in the film community.

7.)Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr. gave a reminder that boxing is far from dead by delivering a thrilling fight last weekend in Vegas.   Puerto Rican champion Cotto gave Floyd his biggest challenge of his career and made the invincible legend sweat and bleed in a 12 round battle that produced the best fight I have seen in a few years and I have watched a lot.   Cotto is the quiet proud fighter who went against the loud and flashy Mayweather Jr. and forced him to reach deep into his arsenal of tricks to win the fight.  Floyd won the fight easily but this was the first time Floyd was hit hard and often by a fighter on prime time.   Cotto hit him, forcing bleeds on Mayweather’ s nose and cheek and while Cotto took more damage himself, he never stopped coming and applying pressure.   Floyd respected Cotto and gave him the pleasure of a non Floyd like post fight slam fest.   Every boxer knows when he is hit and hit hard, and Floyd respected the challenge Cotto brought him.   While MMA fights have taken over Pay per view and pushed boxing to the brink of extinction, this isn’t a case of the internet burning newspapers.    The Cotto-Mayweather Jr. fight produced 1.5 million buys and 94 million in television revenue alone.   Boxing is alive and draws like Cotto, Mayweather Jr., and Pacquaio are proof that the sport is far from hitting the canvas.   Cotto’s future looks bright now that he has held his own against Pacquiao and Floyd, the two best pound for pound boxers.   He looks to fight Sergio Martinez or Canelo Alvarez next.   Canelo easily dispatched the old Shane Mosley on the undercard.   Canelo’s powerful straight left hands and right hooks nearly sent Mosley to the canvas and this young Mexican is the future of boxing because he is good and marketable.   Alvarez is a quiet deadly puncher who will soon enough challenge the likes of Floyd, Cotto and Manny.   For now, he deals merciful beatings to clock punchers like Mosley, a champion far past his expiration date.   Boxing is full of contenders and the best part about it is they haven’t faced each other soon enough.   Life can be found in this sport if you pay any kind of attention.   Cotto taking the unbreakable legend Mayweather to the brink of failure proved the strength still exists.

8.)DVD Selection of the Week-Haywire, a quick action packed solidly acted thriller that proves hard boiled Hollywood filmmaking can be still be done.  Steven Soderbergh’s take on the female Bourne starring Gina Carino was a movie I really enjoyed.  Also, it doesn’t waste any of your time with the 95 minute running time.

9.)Albert Pujols’ struggles don’t require a master class in observation.   He is choking under the extreme pressure of a big contract with a new team under new expectations and hopes.   I have no soft spot for Albert’s struggles or sympathy for his condition.  He is a millionaire athlete who chose to leave a kingdom and now he will pay the price.  Albert, I have a lyric from the Silent Comedy’s new killer song, Bartholomew for you, “And you best believe there will be hell to pay”.   Look, Albert is facing the same kind of pitching he did in the National League.  Major league professional class.   Pitchers are busting him inside and making him reach for pitches off the plate.  They are making him over-extend himself and expand his zone.   Same tactics used in the first 11 seasons but now they are working.   He walked today for the first time since April 26th.   Last season, his walks were down and his ground ball rate was up.  This season, Albert is hitting .195 with 1 home run and 13 RBI.  He isn’t walking and he is striking out.  He is grounding out to third and shortstop.   He isn’t a difference.   Last season at this time, he was starting to come out of his season opening drought.  This season, I can’t tell you if he will because he doesn’t have the comfort of St. Louis to guide his recovery.   The man is in a new city who wants the 25 million salary backed up with production.  He chose this setup and will have to work his way out of it.  As a good friend said, I respect the man and what he did here for 11 seasons but I have turned my back on him.   I wasn’t crazy when I said the best place for him was St. Louis.   He had the legendary status, the comfort zone and the surroundings to dominate.  In LA, all he has are the expectations that his legend laid out for him to live up to the next 10 years.

10.)The Black Keys live from Chaifetz Arena produced a solid concert but one that left the diehards wanting more.   The Oklahoma musicians played for only 75 minutes and while they sounded crisp and as good as the studio recordings, I wanted them to play for another 30 minutes.   Their live music is great but their set lists need an extension.   The set wasn’t worth 40 dollars and the gas and parking fee to boot.   Their opening act, Arctic Monkeys, played the same exact same noise for nearly an hour before the Keys came on 90 minutes into the arrival time and played for a brief time that you forced the question, “Was it St. Louis or is this their gig?”   In the future, I will reconsider the idea of spending that kind of cash on a tease.  The band is one to die for but their live show is far too short.

11.)Vincent is 8 months old and nearly 24 pounds.   He is becoming more of a man every day and is perfecting the one arm crawl and can also make his way into three different rooms.   Being small and adorable makes it easy to escape and get away with anything.   Vinny is a good little baby but he also presents challenges just like any new addition to civilization.   He makes you stop what you are doing because he is discovering what you don’t do with electronics and also how hard a wood floor hurts when you slam your head on it.  Normal concussion related moments and times where you try to teach him the warnings of life.   It’s an ongoing process.

12.)Junior Seau’s suicide can only teach us that larger than life athletes can be fallible to the pressures and expectations life can place on you.   Once he stopped being a football player, a new kind of challenge began for Seau and the problem most athletes face is replacing the adrenaline rush of the game they leave behind.   Seau’s suicide will never be able to be deciphered completely because suicide involves so many details and private urges.   What I saw on the NFL network was a happy ready to go individual and what I heard about was a guy putting a bullet in his chest to end his life.   What you strive for in between is a reason that we will never get because the only man who can provide that is Seau himself.   I don’t like calling suicide victims cowards because there are so many variables that go with each life and the different fuels required to remain happy.  How can you label someone that if you don’t know all there is to know about their life?   We don’t know Junior’s life so let’s celebrate what we did know.  He was a great football player and a great guy off the field.   A worthy soul was lost.  Before people call Junior Seau a coward, know that there is a fine history and medical evidence stating the effect of concussions causing former athletes to go through bizarre mood swings, rapid depression and revert to suicidal urges. This is not an excuse, but a well documented claim.   However, there is indeed a huge gray area in athlete suicides. Lot of details that will be buried with Seau. Family left to pick up the pieces.

Closing Rant-Last Sunday, I celebrated 10 years of being together with my wife, Rachel.  10 years since our first date.   One of the perks of being married is the ability to talk to women without any pressure.   Since I am happily married, I don’t have to worry about impressing women when talking to them.   That is the greatest thing in making the right choice to get married.  All the anxiety and pressure to go with the interaction with women is gone.   The worry in the words isn’t there.   I can walk up to any woman and say almost anything and I don’t have to worry about revealing too much, being too harsh or being a bit too kind.   Single men have to worry about what they say.  Saying too much may ruin a future chance at a kiss, sex or love.   I don’t have to worry about that.  I have found my woman.  The rest can deal with my brutal honesty.

That said, it is time for me to check out of here.  Get some things done, get set for the night and have a little fun.   Work is a stressful process because the transition between Senoret and Woodstream is making the days at work a gut wrench at times and film-addict is forcing me to see bad movies more often than I want to.    Life at home is great but produces its own challenge.    The weekend is a time to unwind, but today a blog needed to be done.   The unplugging of the mind is required to keep the systems fresh.   Now that this is done, I can keep moving.

Thanks for reading and come back next time?

Sincerely,

Dan L. Buffa