The Time of the Season

Good afternoon folks,

The time has come for me to put my spin on the news.  Ready or not, here I come.  Let’s pick up the sledgehammer and bash through the door on a calm rainy Thursday.

The Cardinals Train Keeps on Moving-Am I Looking at a vanilla sky?

Sitting here watching this team make a serious run at the playoffs carries all the benefits a fan could ever ask for, but it doesn’t seem real.   I keep waiting for my arm to be pinched or the crooked suit from The Wire to slap me and go, “Shiiittttttt”.  The Cards are 19-6 in their current stretch of domination, and for the folks who think its all easy team beating; those wins included victories over the Phillies, Braves and Brewers, three other playoff hunting teams.   This is reminiscent of the Cards 2006 playoff run.   After barely making it into the playoffs with 83 wins and facing the Padres, there wasn’t a soul on the USA sports deck who cut us a sliver of opportunity.   All of a sudden, we swept the Padres.   After, we outlasted the Mets in a knockdown
drag out 7 game series that ended with Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran
at the knees.   With a Tigers team out of sync after a 10 day rest, the Cards dropped them for a 5 game series win and 10th World Series trophy.  What happened there and what is happening here, may you ask?  Timely efficient play.

 Everything is falling into place for the Cards at the right time.   Pitching, hitting,
move making, bullpen, and a decent amount of luck are playing roles here.  The Cardinals are playing well and the Braves are sinking.  Short term memories are best kept secrets in this game.  The Cardinals starters are 13-3 with a 3.12 ERA while the Braves starters are 7-9 with a 4.44 ERA.   The Cardinals are thriving with 2 out rallies, having sparked them on Tuesday and Wednesday night to come back and dethrone the Mets.   April wins are nice, but September thrillers are sacred.  This is the most important time of the year.  This is when you have to be at your best.  If teams can’t figure things out by September, they don’t deserve a playoff ticket.  The Cardinals have put fans through one of the biggest roller coaster experiences.   They have taken a zig zag approach usually reserved for the Blues.  Up and down, down and out and back up again.   A thrilling if draining brand of baseball.   This is the same team that blew 24 saves, has grounded into 162 double plays and had their rotation fall apart in July.  The moral of the 2011 Cardinals story is it doesn’t matter how you play from April through July but how you finish in August and September.  Lets run down some clips. 

*The starting pitching is legit.   Jaime Garcia delivered 7.2 innings last night and allowed zero earned runs.  The starters have rebounded from a power outage in July to become a strength in September.  It’s not only Chris Carpenter who is delivering outstanding starts.   Kyle Lohse delivered a clutch start in Philly.   Edwin Jackson got beat up early yet held the Mets in check.   Garcia shut down the Mets after a big inning last night.   The bats can’t come back unless the arms slow the other team down and this month, Cards starters are pitching deeper into ballgames and making the job easier. 

*As I mentioned above, the Cards are delivering huge 2 out rallies.  On Tuesday night, down 6-5 in the 7th inning, the Cards had two outs before Albert Pujols singled to start a 6 run rally.   David Freese delivered two huge hits last night, both coming with two outs.   Unlike the 2010 team, a late deficit doesn’t seem the Berlin Wall.  This team has the ability to put something together with 2 outs and nobody on base.  A much needed trait in playoff baseball where pitching takes over games. 

*Albert Pujols is having another amazing August and September run.  Does his incredible finish have anything to do with the Cards surge?  It’s hard to deny.  Pujols is hitting .389 in the month of September with 20 RBI and 18 runs scored.  AP is doing more than hitting home runs.  He is starting rallies, getting big hits and doing the little things to help his team win.  For 11 straight seasons, Albert Pujols is putting together an amazing season.   What started out as a perplexing story in April, with Pujols hitting .230 and looking more like a double play machine than a hitting machine is turning into another productive campaign.   His comeback coincides with the team’s recovery.   The Cards couldn’t do this without Albert’s efforts.   While others wanted to call it the early decline of Albert, I knew he was going to end up with the regular solid Pujols stats.  He is a player I can’t spend too much time worrying about.  A truly great player who simply adapts at a faster rate than any player in baseball.   Pujols isn’t declining like Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer are.  Once again, the naysayers of Albert have been there his entire career.  The negative cynics who hate to admit the man is a born machine who continues to defy normal standards set by players before him.  Did anyone think he was going to end up with a .305-.310 batting average, 38-40 HR, 105 RBI, 105 runs, and 165 hits in July?  Unfortunately, more than you think.   When the season ends, the Cards will have to pay up because Pujols has put together a career like no other and is tougher than most.  If anyone deserves a golden goose deal, it’s Albert Pujols.  The Cardinals waited to sign Albert and now that he has completed a miraculous turnaround this year, the need to lock him up for the rest of his career is required.  Do it!

*Seeing the Pujols deal ahead, Cards GM John Mozelaik is setting the tables by tying up loose ends on this team for 2012.  This team is going to contend.  Mozelaik is carving a contender with his moves.  Anytime you resign veterans, the win now attitude is continuing.   This morning, Lance Berkman signed a 1 year extension for 12 million, another solid move by Mozelaik.   Berkman is also putting together an amazing finish to his comeback campaign, with numbers right behind Pujols.  He was given a chance by the Cards and paid them back in full.  He gets a 4 million dollar raise that limits the future liability of this team and sets up both sides for next season.  This move benefits both sides in that it satisfied the team needs and Berkman’s desire to stay here.   Also, Berkman’s extension is an insurance plan just in case Albert decides to walk.  A good move on all sides.  This is Mozelaik clearing the table for the Pujols negotiations.  Taking care of the easier extensions and deals. 

*Keeping Furcal won’t be hard.  His down year will pull his price down.  He came here to win a championship, gets to hit leadoff, play every day and play for an instant contender.  Furcal is set up fine here.  Cards offer him 1yr/6 million and he stays.

**NL Central looks weak and unsure next season due to contract indecision. The state of the division hinges on the destinations of Pujols and more importantly, Prince Fielder.   The Cards can contend without Albert to an extent, but the Brewers will be weaker without Prince.

*Edwin Jackson has pitched very well for this team, but there is no spot for him on this team in 2012.  All 5 starters in the Cards rotation are set.   Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook.   All contracts are guaranteed and that is fine by me.  Unless you can move Westbrook or Lohse, the group is set and that’s also good for table setting.   Jackson is young and talented, but he doesn’t blow teams away.  Every one of his starts is a grinder and while he has better stuff than Lohse or Westbrook, he struggles just as they do to complete quick innings.  As much as I like this pitching and his youth, he won’t be back. 

*What does the rest of the season bring?  Thrillers, drama, heroics, headaches and a payoff that’s the greatest of endings.  After 6 months of devotion and hope, all fans want is playoff action.  We sit at a poker table in April, place a bet, make raises and holds, and wait for a payoff.  It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the next 6 days or where this team will be in October, but this current ride is pretty fun and worth the wait.   I still don’t believe its happening, but I am along for the ride. 

Let’s hit some other topics before coming back to the Cards final stand. 

Rams Motiviation Technique

After my unplugged venting on Monday night, I’m ready to settle down and talk about this team.
*The trend of this teams play bothers me more than their record.   Special teams getting in trouble, rough turnovers, penalties, the resistence to playing rookies and the ability to score touchdowns in the red zone.  Starting out 0-2 in the weakest division in football isn’t detrimental.  Its the way this team is playing.

*Risky roster cuts coming back to haunt the Rams.  Cutting talented if brittle receiver Donnie Avery stands out.  Marty Gilyard could return kicks as well as line up.   There was a feeling I knew what the Rams were doing at the time but now I wonder if the right moves were made.

*On second thought, sitting Steven Jackson was smart.  forcing a player with a muscle strain in Week 2 is a bad idea.   If SJ isn’t 100 percent, he can’t play because his liability is too high two games into the season.

*Sam Bradford’s play is encouraging.  He is making throws and driving the team down the field.  His yards, rating and average per catch is solid.  A couple bad turnovers have hidden a quality start from the kid.  Bradford is everything you want in a QB.   Smart, accurate, demanding and carries a short term memory.   Now we’re waiting for results.

*The Rams can move the ball, but can they push it into the end zone.  Monday night, we were inside the 10 yard line twice and failed to get 7.  Do something and get a 7 spot.  Hand off to Jason Brown or throw a fade to the corner of the end zone.   When you enter the red zone, you better leave with 7 points or you give the other team a pass.

*Throw the ball to Danario Alexander.  Throw it to him on 1st down.   Throw him the fade to the back of the end zone. Get that kid the ball.  If he is covered, somebody else gets freed up. *The offensive line needs to give Bradford more time. 

*Our run defense needs to step up.  We’re getting run over all in the these first two games while our secondary is getting ripped for big plays.  Defenses work like a ballet in football.  Each group hinges on the play of the other groups on the field.   The defensive line getting pressure helps the secondary and safety and the initial contact of the line helps the linebackers set up for the run or short pass.  The Run defense needs to step up its play or the offense doesn’t get a chance.  While the main culprit so far is the offense, the defense needs to be less sloppy, stay away from penalties and do a sharper job. 

*This week, Baltimore comes to town and we know a few things about them.   We know Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs can ruin a quarterbacks week.  Lewis brings the heat from all directions while Suggs goes for your spine and Reed waits for the mistake.   The Ravens are a talented team yet beatable.  If you get protection, they can be defeated.   The Ravens destroyed The Steelers in Week 1 and got beaten by The Titans in Week 2.   The difference?  Turnovers.  Pressure on the QB and the lack of a Joe Flacco attack.   The offensive line works in each corner this week.  The Rams get pressure and cause Flacco to throw INT’s.  The Rams offensive line keeps Bradford on his feet and good things can happen.   Another test lies in front of the Rams.  Will they learn from their mistakes and make plays or once again fall prey to a better team?  One can argue the Eagles, Giants and Ravens are better than the Rams, but that doesn’t turn into losses Sunday.  The ability to make plays in the pocket, stop a team on 3rd down and do the little things to win do. 

NFL Takes of The Week-

*Tony Romo plays well in the 4th quarter overall, yet makes horrible decisions that stand out further.  Two weeks of action and we see both shades of Romo.   Week 1 where he blows 14 point lead and turns the ball over twice.  Week 2 where he gets clobbered and hurt early, comes back late and helps his team eliminate a 14 point deficit.  A mixed bag set in stone that will always take smack for failing in the most important moments and laughing about it.  Unlike Marc Bulger, Romo walks away from an interception smiling, and if I were the Cowboys fanbase, I would be enraged.  Today, Romo can’t move around without severe pain and that’s what happens when you get two broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  In order to be efficient for his team, Romo needs to get hurt first. 

*Put down the Cam Newton kool aide.  While I admire and have written on his early solid play, lets not start the comparisons wheel already.  It’s an amateur move by the media to throw Newton into the Brett Favre comparison talk.   It’s a ridiculous claim that’s bent in the wrong direction and isn’t fair to anyone.   Lets try something.  Stop comparing him to other quarterbacks.  Let’s let him play.  A couple years of action and then a status report.  The sports world lives and breathes on weekly ideas, but they get into trouble with serious comparisons.  When I start comparing Jason Motte to a crazier version of Bruce Sutter, shoot me. 

*Name one team that’s hard to beat and I have to say the New England Patriots.  As much as I love to see the call stealing, mighty unstoppable creepy Belechick-Brady train, they are hard to doubt.   The only way you can beat them is to put pressure on Brady.   The only way they lose is if you knock Brady off the field and put the emphasis on their defense, which is “bend if don’t break” built.   The Giants beat the Patriots by constantly pressuring Brady, making him move in the pocket.  The Ravens beat the Patriots by stopping Brady and running the ball all over the defense.  Akin to the Eagles and Vick, you stop him and you stop the Patriots.  Their play functions off the play of the quarterback.   Guess what?  Right now, no team can stop the Tom Brady Machine empowered by the La Russa stoned brain of Bill Belechick.  Picture Albert Pujols as a forthcoming nice media guy who says all the right things and you have Brady.  I would like to shoot him in the face because he is so good, but right now, I just can’t.  Add in the fact that he has to go home to the ugliest woman on the planet in Gisele Buncheon and its hard to not like his chances. 

*If the Rams fail to win this division with the lack of talent within the division, the embarrassment will settle in quick.   While I don’t expect the Rams to knock every good team they face, I do expect them to take care of business against the lesser teams in the division, even the Kevin Kolb enabled Cardinals.   Going from 3-13 to 7-9 in one season was satisfying, but the thirst needs to be quenched with a return to playoff activity and given the lack of talent in the division, the Rams have every reason to take advantage.  The NFC West is a joke, but the bigger joke will be missing out on a golden opportunity.   Easy division can still produce a Super Bowl contender.

*The Giants players faking injuries is pure sacrelige. Wrong in every way one can imagine.   While the Rams were driving down the field in a no huddle offense, the Giants decided to have two players drop to the field in order to get a break from the action.  The NFL responded by sending out a memo to all teams preaching the idea of an honor code.   Sam Bradford said he heard two Giants players whisper to each other, “someone go down”.  That’s just bad for football. 

Interesting Things about baseball’s late season dive-

*Boston’s collapse.  After spending a ton of money on Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and resting his ace of the staff duties on John Lackey, the Red Sox are putting together a regretful finish.  They are 5-16 this month.  It’s a combination of bad defense, bad pitching and an awake or dead offense.  Scary stat.  If the Red Sox don’t score 12 runs, they are 1-15 in September.  They just got beat by the Baltimore Orioles in a pivotal series.  That’s similiar to the Cardinals losing the season in 2010 to teams like Pittsburgh and Washington.   Their collapse coincides with Tampa Bay’s riveting surge.  Tampa Bay lost Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and got off to a horrible start.  Now they are standing tall.  Every season comes down to playing well in September folks. 

*Best 1-2 pitching combo in baseball.  Move over Halladay and Lee.   Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde are coming on as the ultimate game day combo.   Verlander leads the AL in 24 wins and every major pitching category and Valverde is 47 for 47 in save opportunities.   Deadly.  Quietly a dangerous team in the postseason. 

*The Phillies, Braves and Brewers are playing shitty September baseball.  While this may not mean playoff subtraction, the quality of a team’s play does roll into October.  Remember 2009 and the Cardinals enduring a horrible final 10 games before getting swept by the Dodgers?   Playing well in October is all about finishing well, unless you’re the 2006 Cardinals. 

Blues News of the Week-Along with winning their first two preseason games in a home/away series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blues endured bigger news yesterday.   Max Chambers, a Calgary businessman, made a 167 million collar proposal to buy the Blues and was rejected.  This is a development I find unfortunate and short sighted.   Dave Checketts is trying to find a buyer for his main investor, Towerbrook Corporation.  Tom Stillman’s group offered a proposal near the 110-120 million range.   Chambers’ offer is the highest offer this team will get.  Towerbrook wants 190 million, which is ridiculous and out of the question.  Logic is leaving here.  Forbes Magazine lists the Blues value at 165 million, which calls one to wonder why Towerbrook rejected the offer.  Where is the other offer making them hold out?  Why the wait?  Chambers told the STL Post Dispatch that he wanted to inject 8-10 million into the payroll(currently at 52 million) and craft a Stanley Cup playoff team and keep the team in St. Louis.  Checketts isn’t to blame here, because he wants to remain in the ownership and is trying to find a way to remove Towerbrook from the picture.  Chambers’ offer is the best offer this team will get.  Finding a stable owner by the start of the season was important, and now the future of this team’s ownership appears in doubt.  I assume Chambers offer will remain on the table.  However, what does that say about Towerbrook Corporation.  They can’t seriously be asking for 25 million above the listed value of a team, can they?  The sale of the Blues gets delayed once again. 

Appreciate the good start by the Blues in the preseason, but don’t take it too far.  Preseason wins are as worthy as a decent shit.   Once you hit flush, the victory ceases to exist.  You’ll never hear me write that spring training wins mean good things for this team.   The Rams went 4-0 in the preseason and are 0-2 in the games that count.   The serious Blues sections here come when real games are played.  Having said that, I like their start. 

The Other Topics-

*Underrated Movie of the moment.  Book of Eli, currently playing on cinemax.  A movie that thrives on the starpower and great acting of Denzel Washington.  There are a handful of movies that stay alive due to a great script, direction or sheer audacity of the action scenes.  Book of Eli is carried by one of the best actors in the game.  Washington plays Eli, a road warrior with one goal.   Get a sacred book across the country while battling evil and avoiding distraction.  One of the distractions comes in the form of Gary Oldman’s boss, who wants the book for his own gain.  A movie that speaks one language.  Action power.  The idea that if a book ended up in the wrong hands, the entire world may lose its soul.  Eli is a mysterious man with lethal abilities, but we do know his motives are heroic and driven by a need to fulfill a mission.  The supporting cast is fine here, but Washington’s ability to convincingly transform into an action star while maintaining his dramatic range is the strength of this film.  Add that to some amazingly choreographed action scenes and you have a devilishly good film about survival of the fittest. 

*Side Cards Note-Allen Craig cranks a 431 foot homer to put the Cards up 2-0 in the finale of the series this afternoon and also doubled in the third.  Craig is becoming a serious power bat to complement the outfield for 2012 and making a mad claim to a spot with his September finish.  Craig came up in 2009 and didn’t do well.  Too many holes in his swing like Joe Mather.  In 2010, he made adjustments and collected some huge hits and finish with solid numbers.  This season, he started well, got hurt, and has come back with an ability to take over games.  He hit two home runs off Roy Halladay on Sunday and hit a shot off Chris Capruiano today.  Quietly, Craig is becoming the Cards secret weapon in this stretch run.

*Song of the Day-

The National-Apartment Story

http://youtu.be/orpCX6rL_lk

While I celebrate the hidden jewels and wonder of their latest album, High Violet, I present to you an older selection from this great indie rock band.   Taken from their first crack into stardom, The Boxer, comes this track about salvation in the form of a crowd of familiar souls.   Lead singer Matt Bomer’s painfully brutal voice fills the lyrics with a sincerity that you can’t teach and the supporting instrumental empowers the track.  It’s a good track for a calm fall day. Enjoy and ask for more National.  This is a band you truly have to seek out because they won’t come to your doorstep on the radio or MTV.  An independent talent.  It’s plain old moody rock ballads with a tragic tale about individualism, innocence lost and the healing power of music. 

*The Cardinals are playing very well lately, but they carry a weary reluctance to put teams away with early opportunities.  They wasted a bases loaded chance to add on last night in the 4th and this afternoon they have wasted two situations with a runner in scoring position and less than 2 outs.  They must create an ability to step on the throat of teams. 

*Hardest lesson for a new parent.  Being able to decipher between a standard crying session and a loud furious scream.   Dealing with all the levels in between.  Vincent has a way of gearing up for crying that it makes our job harder.   Three reasons a baby starts to cry fall on needing a diaper change, wanting to feed and needing to sleep but being unable to get him to relax.  Finding out what’s wrong when all three have been met is dangerous ground that results in me picking him up and rocking him to sleep.  You also have a schedule that needs to be kept so he doesn’t keep you up all night.  A great line from Will Arnett on the new NBC series, Up All Night, comes when he asks his wife, played by Christina Applegate, if this is real.   “Are we dead?”  A great moment for any new parent to see because of how frequently you are up in the middle of the night and standard hours are thrown out the window.  The fight wages on. 

*Albert hits a bomb to left on first pitch.  37th homer of the season, bringing him closer to 100 RBI and getting his batting average up to .306.  A down season by Albert is a dream season for anyone else. 

*Manny Rameriz wants reenstatement and will serve his ban for his second strike using steroids.   After leaving the game and beating up his girlfriend, Manny wants to go play again.  The role of a housewife doesn’t fit him. Can you picture Manny mowing the lawn or doing the dishes?

*By the way, who the fuck wants to do dishes?  Nobody wants to do dishes. 

*Whether you like or dislike Ben Affleck, his Madden 2012 commercial narrations are awesome.  His Boston swagger talking about the internal battles of digital football war is priceless.  Here’s a taste.

http://youtu.be/j3D3zW2DPdk

http://youtu.be/j5ktK-6pQX0

*Jake Westbrook is the kind of guy who you send on a beer run and trust him to not drop the easy 24 pack on the way back or get robbed by a group of hitters.  He walks a lot of people, gives up long innings of stress inducing baserunner misery, and makes every start a gamble on your mortgage.  He has 12 wins, but has enabled 1200 Cardinals fans to become drug addicts during his turns on the mound.  He makes the game of pitching a riddle of unconventional proportions when it comes to getting 18-21 outs with the lead.  He is tough to watch, like the guy crossing the street with a coffee, the newspaper and a blackberry in his two hands as he checks out the hot chick in the lobby.  Today, he is working with a 4-1 lead in the 6th inning and even when he gets out of it, you feel like you need a shot of whiskey. 

Footnote-This rant is going on and on, but only because I love doing live incerpts as I go about my business here.  Some of my rants are 2,500 word quick hits, but this 4500 word monster will go down as an uneven mess but a worthy walk into the wild badlands of failing to shut the fuck up.  Don’t blame me.  Blame the mind that doesn’t stop firing.  I always have something to talk about.

*Corey Patterson is still employed in the major leagues.  An additional useless hack from the Rasmus-Jackson trade.  Patterson doesn’t  do anything well.  He can’t play the outfield that well anymore.  He can’t hit.  He can’t steal a base.  My bet is he can’t even make a good spaghetti sauce.  Patterson is a classic La Russa crush, because he’s over 38 years old, occasionally gets a hit and grows a fine beard.   When he gets to the plate, you write down a K on your scorecard. 

*Deweys is the dinner destination for the Buffas.   Thats right.  A large brooklyn style pizza that’s so good and fresh you’d bet that a group of tiny italian elves made it supported by a large caesar salad that gets mixed with the perfectly seasoned dressing that it makes you lick the plate clean.  Add a pint of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and lightning may strike your colon. 

*Shows to avoid on television.  Network bullshit.   Zooey Deschanel is adorable and talented, but her new sitcom New Girl is poorly conceived, badly written, and carries that unreal sitcom set aspect that distracts from appreciating the show.   It’s just bad.  23 minutes of boredom that annoys.  She’s a 30 year drama queen who gets dumped and moves in with 3 guys and bores the shit out of them so much they fall in love with her.  Three men and a lady.  She sings to herself, sings about her status and watches Dirty Dancing over and over.  After 23 minutes, when the guys rescue her from a bad date, you want to drop a grenade in her apartment.   This is being hailed as the next TV hit, but let me tell you only having a week off and a lazy remote hand allowed me to run into this worthless piece of FOX created shit.  Give me another prescription for House instead.  I’ll spend 43 minutes with a cranky entertaining narcisistic doctor rather than hang out with an emotional drama queen who doesn’t even take her clothes off. 

*Cards lead 4-1 in the seventh with Arthur Rhodes on the mound.  Going from Westbrook to Rhodes is like exchanging a heart attack for triple bypass surgery.  Switching from a t-bone to a ribeye poorly undercooked.  Another La Russa fossil child.  As I polish off this tormented section, Rhodes records a 1-2-3 inning.  Works every time. 

*Take a shit on Killer Elite all you want critics, because it won’t stop me from enjoying the latest Jason Statham asskicking fest with a little added spice in the form of Robert De Niro and Clive Owen.  These films aren’t made to receive good reviews.  They are crafted to create an entertaining experience that critics can’t understand.  Moneyball is the more likely pick and I can’t blame you for that because Billy Beane’s story is wildly engrossing and Brad Pitt’s live wire tactics make it very interesting.  However, The Killer Elite is a movie I have been waiting for all year.  The early fall action packed thrill ride.  It’s a one course meal.  Take it or leave it. 

*Let me answer a question.  Real Steel, with Hugh Jackman as a former champion boxer turned robot trainer, looks far fetched and retarded.  However, on second glance, you see the father-son relationship as the heart of the film.  The idea of rescuing your life by proving yourself to your son by building and training a robot boxer.  Anyone who likes Rock Em Sock Em robots also has an interest in this film.  It may not be the future, but it’s entertaining.  Every film isn’t made to win awards.  Some just want to entertain.  Certain wonders, like the Town, Inception, and Dark Knight, can do both. 

*Sons of Anarchy is the current show to watch.   A show about a biker club battling the authorities and rival clubs for control of Charming, a small city in California, is entertaining and well made.  Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunman lead a cast that also includes the lovely Katey Sagal.  Kurt Sutter created this FX gem as a story about family values within a criminal corporation and this is a case where you root for the bad guys that carry the least amount of evil.   FX is quietly becoming a versatile series powerhouse. 

That marks the end folks.  There isn’t much left to say and if there is, the content waits for another time and day.   Every day is another chance to get something important done.   Savor the flavor of today’s accomplishments and move on.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. 

Goodnight and good luck,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

 

 

 



Take A Look At My Life

Last week, I wasn’t a dad.  There’s my opening.   One of the greatest lessons in life is the ways it can change in an instant.  Old priorities go out the window at a moment’s notice, and the wheels go in a different direction.   Your time gets pushed in other directions, the importance of making a hangout drops, and work isn’t so grueling becaue it’s a basic countdown to going home to something new.   Make no mistake.  I am a happy man and accomplished a few things in my life.   Tackled the addictive world of sports and wrote about it.   I have a group of friends I wouldn’t trade for dollars.   I am married to a strong sexy woman.   I don’t own a college degree but I did own a 3.8 grade point average in high school.   A problem of my mine in college was misdirection.   I tried two majors that I didn’t feel inspired by yet tackled anyway because of a so called self promise.  College was a step I followed other’s into instead of carrying a legit goal.  The tale of life was finish high school, go to college and do something.  Sports medicine and radiology weren’t passions of mine and I failed.  Once I tackled Journalism, I was drained and saw zero job potential in the field and got knocked out.   I moved in with my wife and worked a series of jobs.  Those mini careers included a gig at Busch Stadium on the manual scoreboard, a movie theater role, security guard, UPS loader, and finally, a warehouse labor artist.  I have been married for six and a half years and wouldn’t trade stock on a single moment. I am outspoken and write down my opinions and fling thoughts like Ndamukong Suh throws quarterbacks into the masses.   What I am saying is that before last week I had accomplished a decent sheet of material, but something was missing.  A son.

The Talk of the Town

On September 14th, 2011, at 4:50 p.m., Vincent Daniel Buffa was born at St. Johns Mercy West Hospital.   After a 29 hour delivery, Vincent came into the world via natural birth weighing in at 6.5 pounds and extending to 19.75 inches.  The man was a little shy at first.  Blinded by light and short on experience, Vincent was overloaded with visitors, nurses and various family and friends.   The most famous souls on the earth other than celebrities are babies.  Put Brad Pitt and my kid in a line and see how many people flock to the midget first before Floyd.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am a dad.  After 9 months of exams, ultrasounds, close calls, pain, stress and anticipation, Vincent is here. He is currently 5 days old with change. 128 hours of wonder.  Every moment I spend with the kid deserves a picture and explanation.   I haven’t accumulated 8 hours of sleep in one night yet but sleep can be made up, unlike great memories with a kid.  Being a new owner of a human being. I tackle diaper changes, outfit swaps and the duties of keeping after a human with a newfound yet previously stored energy.   I won’t tell other dads in waiting that it will kill you.  I will tell them it’s an experience unlike nothing they’ve gone through before.  Being a dad is a 24/7 job in literally blunt form.  In the first couple of months, Vincent will own the clock with his feedings and diaper changes.  Who shits in his pants, gets more looks from women than most models and sleeps more than a stoner…..my son.  I can write all night about being a dad but for now I will say 5 things I have learned in my first week of being a father.

1.)  Sleep does exist.  In small doses, I get sleep.   Vincent feeds every 2-3 hours, so I get up and help Rachel and that means there are no 8 hour snoozes.  Sleep is like food on the fly for a thief.  You get some here and other portions later on.   It’s miserable at times, yet manageable if you adapt to your son’s tendencies, because the kid is predictable.   This is what the 3am rants were all about.  Training for daddy duty.   This myth isn’t entirely true.  Sleep is possible.

2.)Hold the head up.  If you want to find out how protective you are, have a kid.  Any time I handle my son, holding the “drunk neck tendencies” of him is top priority.   An infant’s neck is the most vulnerable thing on his body.  Let it drop and it’s not pretty.  It’s a dead neck drop.  Also, you drive differently.  Once my kid gets into the car, I immediately drive slower and take less chances.  I don’t jump the four car rush on a yield light.  I take less chances downfield and settle for 10 yard assaults in traffic.  I constantly check my sons breathing once he sleeps like a brick.  If anyone looks at my kid with a mean thought, I go into Navy Seal kickass mode.  It’s a serious task that becomes a full time job of watching.   If I am carrying Vinny, I am awake and don’t risk a fall.  A kid heightens the senses of your surroundings.

3.)Hail the power of a kid’s lungs.  Vinny’s got chords.   I think of Vincent as a 5 speed high powered car.  His screams and wails go from a low first gear of muffled fits to a 5th gear wail that wakes up the neighbors and makes you cringe in temporary agony.  Don’t tell me my kid is fine.  The little guy feels like launching a ship on higher authority once you have to change his diaper.   Start playing with his ass, yanking on his legs to install a diaper and he will do the vibrating tongue scream.   If he is hungry and wants to feed, he will let you know.  He is the alarm clock.   That’s an infant.  In a womb, they were well placed, wrote their own schedule and didn’t deal with a strange creature called light and coldness.  The two of us are both going through major change.  Respect the kid’s experience.   If he could wipe his own ass and dress himself, he would.

4.)My kid’s got a good chance of being a soccer player or boxer.   Lean down to him and he will hit you with a few hooks and overhand rights that keep you out of his face.  He kicks at me during changes and can extend his legs fully off my chest.  For Vinny there are plans in place.   My new nickname for him is “kicking impossible” because while his efforts are futile, he doesn’t stop the assault.

5.)The rewards always outweigh the torment.  Lock eyes with your kid and they make you feel like the only person on the planet that’s worth a damn.   Hold a sleeping infant and it’s a cozy experience.  I have watched sports with my kid and while he doesn’t understand the actions, he looks up at the screen with an earnest gaze.   He is a looker.   Hanging out with my kid is my own idea of a good time.   The need to go out and spend money and hang out at movie theaters all the time doesn’t exist anymore.  If I am away from my kid, I want to be with him soon.  He takes over your life in the best way.   He inserts purpose into your step.  I can look at Vincent and see the future a little.   Having a kid makes you bide your time properly.  You take better care of yourself.  You get to see your parents and friends fall to their knees in worship.  A preacher doesn’t own a room the way a kid does.   A kid doesn’t have to say a 1,000 words to get his or her point across.  All they have to do is look cute and wiggle.   Vincent is my life now and that’s fine with me.

A week ago, I wasn’t a dad.  Now, I am the proud dad of a 6 pound son who is going to kickstart my life.  If you need to find purpose and don’t like getting shot at to find your destiny, have a kid.  They will put you to the test constantly and won’t settle for halfass care.  If this paragraph lacked juice or cynicism, it’s because I am a happy dad and not a sad lost soul without a night life.  I won’t state that every couple has to have kids.  They are a hardcore choice and only need to come into the world with planned care and proper caregivers.  Take them or leave them, kids are the most fascinating group of people on this earth. While their actions are predictable, their future are beautifully uncertain and carry a thrilling appeal that never wains.   Stay tuned for more developments.

The Rogues in Red’s Final Push

Instead of giving in and dying, The Cardinals are alive and well.   After taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates and 3 of 4 from the Phillies, The Cardinals are making things very interesting.  Is it too little too late for the Redbirds or do we have a legit chance to knock off the Braves in the wild card race?  It’s too hard to tell, because this team’s swoon’s come on quick.  Here’s what I can tell you.  The Cardinals are 2.5 games out with 10 games to play.  In their last 23 games, they are 17-6, the wins including series triumphs over The Brewers, Braves and Phillies.   They have won 10 of their past 12 games and are putting everything together.  They are supplying full time offense that scores first.   The starters are pitching like real game arms.  The bullpen is finishing and doing their part to hold up a victory.   Albert Pujols is hitting over .400 in September and is right at .300 for the season.   Rafael Furcal is hitting .290 this month with 15 runs scored and amazing defense.  Allen Craig, Daniel Decalso and Jon Jay are doing their part.  Everything they weren’t doing in June, July and August, the Cardinals have done in September.  Do they have enough to complete the miracle comeback?  Lets look at a few things and find out.

1.)Chris Carpenter is pitching like an Ace.   Carp outdueled Cole Hamels on Sunday, pitching 8 innings, throwing 112 pitches and gaining his 10th win and continuing his marvel of a second half act.  Before June 23rd, Carp was 1-7 with a 4.18 ERA.  Since that point, he is 9-2 with a 3.01 ERA.  A mixed bag of a season has turned into a great pitcher finding his groove at exactly the right time.  Carpenter also took over the NL lead in innings pitched with 221 innings.  At the least, Carp is tough and hard to shake.   With his newfound effectiveness, he is a deadly arm and someone the other teams don’t want to face.

2.)Allen Craig is a reliable power bench bat.   In limited duty, Craig has 9 home runs and 31 RBI.   Craig put up similiar numbers in 2010, and is becoming a real tool for this team.   Craig’s got legitimate power to all fields but has a power alley ability to left center, where he launched two homers off Cole Hamels on Sunday night.   Craig and Jon Jay made the Rasmus trade possible.   Craig’s power streak is making up for the loss of Matt Holliday.

3.)Thank you Marlins.   After the Cardinals won tonight, they gathered in the clubhouse and watched Omar Infante bomb a 2 run walkoff shot off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel to bring the wild card deficit to 2.5 games.   The Marlins send their top starters against the Braves this week and the Cards chances hinge on their ability to take down Atlanta.

4.)The Cardinals faced a tough Phillies team this weekend.  Except for Ryan Howard, the entire Phillies lineup was in play during this series.  The Phillies are still gunning for home field advantage, so there is reason to play.  Charlie Manuel is going to play the regulars in order to finish strong and head into the playoffs on a winning streak, which is so underrated in sports today.   The Cardinals didn’t get lucky this weekend.  They soundly beat Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, two of the best starters in the game.

5.)For some reason, Halladay’s 2 Cy Youngs and superior pitching power didn’t scare me as much as Hamels or Cliff Lee’s domination.   Halladay is great but gives up the long ball, and gave up a deuce check to Lance Berkman in the first.  The key to the Phillies defeat was jumping on top of a hard hitting team and gaining the upper hand.

6.)The Wild Cardinals control their own fate this week.   We face the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, 6 of those games coming at home.   Facing 3 teams with losing records, the Cardinals hold the bullets and will decide if they go down fighting or come up limp.   Unlike the Braves, the Cardinals have a slate of bad teams to go head to head with.  They can’t afford to lose a single game.  How are those for circumstances?

7.)How good is the starting pitching this month during crunch time?  During their 10-2 streak, the Cardinals starters are 7-1 with a 2.09 ERA, 3 home runs allowed with 53 strikeouts to oppose only 19 walks.

8.)Tony La Russa still favors the pitching shuffle in late inning games.  TLR plays every move close to the chest and doesn’t waste time, and this is something I have problems with.   Micromanaging hurts you at times and while he deserves credit for pulling this group together and launching them towards an impressive finish, TLR can play less genius games in the ninth.  Jason Motte came into a 4-1 game and gave up 2 runs, but deserved to finish the game.  A true closer is one you live and die by, and not an arm you handle with kid gloves.  While the game is vital to our chances, Motte deserved to lose it.  After he departed, Arthur Rhodes entered to give up a hit and Octavio Dotel finished things up with the go ahead runner at the plate to seal the win.  In classic Mad Tony fashion, the Cards won after using 4 pitches to finish the eighth and ninth.

9.)Kyle Lohse’s work on Monday was impressive.   With the 7.1 inning victory over Halladay and the Phillies, Lohse is 14-8 with a 3.50 ERA.  Decent numbers for a 4th starter thrusted into higher duty this season with the loss of Wainwright.  Lohse worked his way out of 3 jams, pitched to contact, and held up the end on his early run support.  Solid work from a pitcher entering his walk year.

10.)The rotation is set up perfectly to make a great finish.  Chris Carpenter will pitch Friday against the Cubs and finish the season in Houston.   Jaime Garcia and Edwin Jackson also get two more starts.

11.)While it’s futile to worry about offseason activities, the chances of signing Rafael Furcal, Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols and locking up Heath Bell in the closer role are highly unlikely.   Here’s what you do.  Approach the 3 and tell them that it’s important to keep the magic team together and keep winning.  Furcal is going to have a down year no matter how he finishes.  He came here to a win a World Series and will return next season for around 5-6 million.   Berkman is a tricky case because he declined a trade to Texas but may request a 3 year extension and huge raise.   Albert Pujols will stay here, especially if La Russa remains and the rest of the crew returns.   Pujols’ issue isn’t annual cash but years on his deal.  A medium must be reached while allowing the team to bring back the other supporting cast.   Skip Schumacher gives you so many options it’s hard to not bring him back or consider him.   David Freese and Daniel Descalso can patrol third base and Molina comes back on an option.  This isn’t important now, but it will be.

12.)Rafael Furcal is a secret engine behind this turnaround and the chief export of his greatness is his defense.   In particular, his range at shortstop and an ability to track down a ball up the middle.  Furcal is also hitting well and raised his average 35 points since his arrival.  Big time.

13.)Albert Pujols isn’t hurting his offseason prospects, reaching a .300 BA, 36 HR, 91 RBI and 97 runs scored.  He leads the team in all four catagories after hitting .230 in April with 5 HR and 11 RBI.  He is a guy that I never truly had to worry about.  Pujols’ numbers will be there.

14.)While Albert’s a given and Holliday’s injury plagued season is credible, the production of Lance Berkman is a silent MVP for this team this season.   Berk has 31 HR, 87 RBI and a .298 average and has played well in the outfield.   Berkman carried the team during the first half where Pujols was human, Holliday was hurt, Freese was on the DL and Rasmus disappeared.   That production can’t be forgotten.

15.)Motte is 7-8 in save chances this month and deserves a clean chance next spring if he can finish up well this week.   This is Motte’s true test and one hopes he does well so La Russa doesn’t resort to a committee tactic if the Cards reach the postseason.   Motte gives the team a legit value at the closer position.   The team doesn’t have the funds to chase a closer in the offseason if they choose to keep Berkman, Furcal and Pujols.  It’s not financially possible.  Motte is a potential bargain.  Here’s to a solid finish for the Wolf.

16.)Beating Halladay was special.  It was his first loss since August 16th.   The home run given up to Berkman was the first home run allowed this season by Halladay to a lefthander.  The 4 walks were the highest amount given in 3 months.  The Cardinals beat the doctor in his own park.  Very cool.

Bottom Line-The Cardinals control their fate.   We have the opportunity to take care of business against bad teams, pull together a tragically broken season and give ourselves the best chance to make the postseason.  Forget about the Brewers and focus on the Mets, Cubs, and Astros.   These teams will come at our Redbirds as hard as ever, hoping to play spoiler.  The Cards can’t give in or let us down now.  Finish what you started.  Make it happen or forever hold you peace.   The rest of the schedule is weak and it all may come down to Bud Norris burying our playoff chance.  The Cardinals have to play one game at a time.  Savor the flavor of the Phillies kill, and live to play another day because you never know what may come tomorrow.  The Cardinals sent a message with their play in Philly.  My question is how long will it last?  The old baseball adage goes like this.  You can’t hurt yourself by winning, no matter where you lie in the standings.  Play until you drop.

The Rams Troubles Continue

What are the signs of an average football team?  A team that has the tools to succeed yet can’t put it all together to win a game.   The Rams are 0-2 in 2011.  This may come as a surprise to some but not to me.  The Rams have lost by 10 or more points to the Eagles and Giants because they haven’t been effective enough to polish off a win.  The Rams start fast but can’t come through in the clutch moments.  At the moment of truth, this team falls down.

Here’s why the Rams lost for a second week in a row.

1.)The Rams settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.  A huge problem in 2010 is seeping into this season.   The Rams entered the red zone 3 times last night in New York and came away with 9 points before scoring in the 4th quarter in a 19 point game.  Too little, too late.  It doesn’t matter who you put in the offense coordinator spot.  The Rams offense is still stale overall.   These are the bunch who got outpointed in Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland and Tampa Bay because they couldn’t score enough.   Pat Shurmur or Josh McDaniels.  It’s not making a difference.  Injuries have stung the team but there is depth here.  Field goals don’t win many games.   The Rams were on the 10 yard line or closer and kicked field goals of 21 and 25 yards.  Ridiculous.

2.)Individual stats tell a different story.   Sam Bradford threw for 301 yards and a touchdown.   Danario Alexander caught 3 passes for 128 yards(more on him later).   Michael Sims Walker added 6 catches for 92 yards.  Cadillac Williams was restricted in yards but picked up big runs in the game.   There was 1 turnover and it was huge but the numbers were put up with no zero finish.

3.)Mistakes and penalties hurt the Rams.  Sam Bradford threw behind Williams and the ball was returned for a touchdown by the Giants.  The team committed 9 penalties that were costly.   Playoff teams don’t do this and the schedule doesn’t get easier.   This was a game where the Rams outplayed the Giants overall yet failed in the make or break moments.

4.)Where is the fire in this team?  In the 4th quarter, the Rams seemed to be giving up, throwing short slants, screen passes and handing off with 8 box defense sets.   Steve Spagnuolo’s drawback has always been the creeping suspicion that he runs a conservative ship. Instead of firing on all cylinders at teams, Spags likes to play it safe and hold back.  Down by 12 points in the 4th, the Rams coaching staff and players looked finished.

5.)Several people thought the team could easily beat the New York Giants, especially after the Giants struggles against the Redskins in Week 1.   Eli Manning likes to throw interceptions, the defensive line wasn’t as strong, and the running game was weaker.  Right?   Wrong my friends.  The Rams will endure a tough road ahead.   Games against the Ravens, Packers, Saints and Redskins will carry difficulties of all kinds.  Remember this is the same team that went 3-13 2 seasons ago, went 7-9 yet choked in prime time last season and looks flat through 2 games this year.   Pass the kool aide on and settle on stressful Sundays folks.

6.)Steven Jackson needed to play on prime time Monday and I can only hope his quad muscle was severely hurting.   I love the guy and what he brings, but too many times the man has proved to be a pulled muscle away from sitting.   Unfortunate and disturbing.  The Rams were missing their cement truck on Monday night.  Trucks work better than cadillacs.

7.)Here’s a fact that will hurt people’s feelings.   The Rams won’t win any games this year unless we can convert red zone appearances into touchdowns.   Field goals are bullshit unless they come from 30-40 yards out in a tied game with the final seconds ticking off the clock.  Stop drinking the magic potion and get real my friends.

8.)Message for McDaniels.  Throw the fucking ball to Danario Alexander more often.  When Alexander makes 4 or more catches, the team wins.   He is the closest thing we have to a big time threat down the field.  If Alexander isn’t on the field, who is the threat?  Until Lance Kendricks and Greg Salas can catch passes, forget about it.   Alexander ran routes for long TD’s at Mizzou and looks to do more in St. Louis.  Last year, he burst onto the scene, made plays and got hurt.  This year, he refused to sit out due to chronic knee soreness, and was held out of the lineup last week.  WHY?  He is the tall, big time threat on this team. He needs to play and be even more active in the playcalling.  If the ball is on the 5 yard line, throw a fade to Alexander.  Done deal.  If he misses it, throw it again.   When in doubt, give it to the tallest receiver on the team.  Danny Amendola is a hard worker but he will never be as skilled or electric or Alexander on two healthy knees.

9.)Robert Quinn looked ferocious tonight at defensive end and beefs up this defensive sack master crew of killers.   The best part of the Rams D is the D-line.   Quinn and Long recorded sacks tonight and kept Manning moving around in the pocket.   If there was a reason why our first round pick sat last week against the Eagles, I couldn’t tell you why.  Spags needs to play the kids.

10.)Get this straight.   The Rams won’t blow any teams out this season.   Don’t look for it to happen.  We will win in gritty close stressful fashion unless our play improves dramatically.   The discipline of our overall play, red zone efficiency and secondary has to be stronger.   The Rams aren’t built to kill teams.  We will find ways to make shitty teams like the 49ers and Seahawks look competitive.  Our road work has to improve.   I like this team and their chances but they won’t run away with any wins this season.  Look at the first two games and tell me otherwise.

Next week brings in the Baltimore Ravens to the Ed Dome.  Three words for you.  Lewis, Reed and Suggs.  My heart and cartilage in my knee and shoulder go out to Sam Bradford.  The work is cut out for The Rams next week.

Random Bits from Week 2 in the NFL

*Once again, Michael Vick and the Eagles can be defeated if you put pressure on Vick constantly and record sacks.  Pressure from multiple angles.   Vick is a talented if brittle talent.  He is easily knocked out of games and left Sunday’s game against the Falcons with a concussion, and the Eagles lost 35-31.  If Vick leaves, the defense can’t win the game alone and the third string QB on Eagles roster suddenly turns this team dream team into a weakened bunch of frail players.  Michael Vick is beatable.

*Tony Romo broke two ribs, suffered a collapsed lung and became clutch.   After the 49ers knocked him out of the game in the first half and took the lead, Romo came back and led the Cowboys over the hapless 49ers 28-24.  Things change quick in the NFL and Romo went from goat to hero in 7 days.  I still think he’s a weak QB in the clutch and will fail with the game on the line.

*The Colts may finish 0-16.  With their talent base, you’d think they could muster a few wins but we will come to find out just how important Peyton Manning was to this roster.   Kerry Collins isn’t getting anything done and it’s only a matter of time before Curtis Painter gets a shot.  An unfortunate dip for a fanbase used to playoff activity.   Go from Peyton to Kerry in less than a year.

*The Saints are going to be tough.   They ran over the Bears after a slow start and Drew Brees threw for 300 more yards and 3 more touchdowns.   When the system is working, Brees and Sean Payton rip defenses apart with their 4 WR-2 Halfback schemes, spreading 4 bodies wide and arming up to shoot to kill.  They are an explosive pack of playmakers and that’s without Reggie Bush and Marques Colston.  We play them in Week 7.

*Tom Brady can’t be stopped.  He passed for 400+yard and threw for 3 touchdowns on Sunday in a win over Philip Rivers and the Chargers.  I am still waiting for a Saints-Patriots or Packers-Patriots Super Bowl just to see two high powered offensive attacks collide.  Without Peyton Manning and with the Steelers looking rough against their division opponents, this could be the season.

*The Rams have 2 touchdown drives in 23 drives this season.   However, their 2 loss start doesn’t rule them out for the season.   I just expected better overall play from this team.   Things don’t get any easier against Baltimore next week.  Is anyone other than me wondering if our first legit win opportunity comes against our own division in Week 8?  Ouch!  Reality is a son of a bitch in the NFL.

*The Seahawks look absolutely horrible.   2 games, 2 losses, ZERO offense.  Where’s the crazy magic of Pete Carroll this season? How long before he calls Charlie Whitehurst in to face the Rams at midseason?

*It’s hard to not feel happy for Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.  He had a small window of opportunity here, played halfway decent, got a 3rd string spot in Buffalo, and now is leading one of the highest scoring teams in the AFC into New England next week.  Fitzpatrick is a Harvard graduate with a cannon for an arm and a relentless spirit on the field.  He can make plays in the clutch and give his team a chance to win.  Good for him.

*Cam Newton has a lot to learn but he sure does make Panthers games more watchable.   His 1st overall pick happened because of his potential worth in revenue to the Carolina franchise, which was dying a slow death like the Rams fanbase was here before Sam Bradford took over.  QB’s make a difference.

*He is improving, but I still don’t like the ball in Mark Sanchez’s hands with the game on the line.  Shaky.

*Eli Manning owns as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton, but will never be close in caliber to the quarterback that his brother is.  Neck injury or completely healthy, Peyton is so much better.

*Yes, the Giants deserved to win the game on Monday night.  They capitalized on mistakes and scored four key touchdowns to seal their fate.   Messy wins still count in sports.

*Once again, the Detroit Lions are for real.  They can score points, sack the QB and stay in games until the end.

*The Chiefs season just got worse.  Jamal Charles is out for the season with a torn ACL.   Matt Cassell looks horrible and the Chiefs defense crumbles like aluminium foil.  A big fall for the Chiefs.  Their play is simply embarrassing.

That’s it for the NFL for now.

The Blues Open The Preseason

With training camp in full swing and the first game tomorrow night, here are a few things to start thinking about.

*Don’t count on seeing David Perron this season.  He isn’t practicing, is far from any hockey activity and is lost in concussion misery.   His prospects look more dim by the hour because there are players passing him up on roster depth who aren’t damaged.  Players like Jonathon Cheechoo and Evgeni Grahev.  If he doesn’t see the ice, I doubt Perron finishes the season on this roster.

*Who backs up Jaroslav Halak?  Brian Ellliot starts tomorrow and Ben Bishop starts the second game this week.   Bishop is a longtime ficture of promise but Elliot has experience.  Who takes the cake?  The team wants Bishop to win the role but has ran out of patience so Elliot is there to push him.

*Quietly, I am rooting for Cheechoo to get a spot.  Call it my soft spot for a sniper or the reality that the team needs a hungry player on this roster.  I want to see the player who once put 90 + goals in the net in a two season period.   He’ll have to earn it and beat out more consistent players, but here’s to hoping we hear the sound of a train every time he scores at Scottrade.

*Without Perron, our top 4 lines still look solid, especially with the additions of Langenbrunner and Arnott to go with the promotion of Matt D’Agostini to the 2nd line.   There is at least one serious scoring threat on each line and that’s vital towards success.

*Ryan Reaves added 20 pounds of muscle in preparation for taking over the enforcer role of this team.   Reaves brings the rare blend of mild skill set player with a true ability to fight in this league.  Reaves is taller and stronger than Cam Janssen and will command respect on the ice.  I look forward to his action.

*The combinations of Stewart-Berglund and Backes-McDonald are key playmaking duos on this team.

*What was wrong with this team last season?  Injuries, an inconsistent scoring touch during the first half of the season and a late season injury to Halak that broke this team’s back.   This team also allowed an insane amount of goals and surrendered the most 5 goal games in the NHL.   Late game collapses occured, and the House of Payne only came awake during the team’s final stretch of play.    8 teams make the playoffs in the Western Conference and this team is built to go this season.  With the advanced level of young guys like Berglund and Oshie, new big guy tandems Backes-Stewart, a defensive duo in Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo and skill players in Mcdonald and Steen, the table is set.   A failure to make the playoffs this season would be a huge disappointment for a franchise rebuilt to the core and a fan base requesting thrills.

*Also, cancel the annoyingly stupid “Don’t Stop Believing” FSN campaign.   Fuck Journey and fuck the shitty sports promos on the network.

Boxing Notions-Floyd Mayweather KO win over Victor Ortiz….legit or not???

As much I’d love to jump on the firing line of Floyd Mayweather Jr. hate, there is no doubt in my mind he won the fight against Victor Ortiz fair and square.   Floyd had him beat on three rounds and in the fourth, Ortiz intentionally headbutted Mayweather, apologized by kissing him on the cheek, and when the ref separated them and told the two boxers to fight, Ortiz dropped his hands and Floyd nailed him with two punches and knocked him out.   Ortiz played dirty, tried to make nice and got caught in no man’s land.  Hint for Victor.  The oldest lesson in boxing is keeping your hands up at all times.  Ortiz looked at Floyd in the middle of a live round with his hands down and got popped.  Same weak fight and the same result.  I liked Ortiz and his go for broke rough childhood but also remember my mortgage and make sure I know the younger fighter talked a big game on Floyd throughout the training camp, documented on HBO’s 24/7.   Now, Manny Pacquiao runs over an old Marquez and a chance for the boxing event of a lifetime with Floyd in the biggest fight in boxing history.   All it takes is Floyd to shed the chicken label and take a fight with the best fighter in the world in Pac-Man.   Floyd is undefeated but Manny owns titles in 8 different weight classes.  Both offer similiar speed styles but Manny only gets stronger as the night goes on.   Once again, there was no controversy on Saturday night in Las Vegas.   Floyd Mayweather caught Ortiz with his guard down and knocked him out.   End of story.  Next up.  Pacquiao and a washed up Marquez in November.

Random Sports Facts-

*Justin Verlander won his 24th game on Monday.   He leads the AL in wins, W-L record, strikeouts, shutouts and pure awesomeness.  At this point, it’s hard to imagine a more valuable player in the American League.  JV earned that shot thus far.

*The Diamondbacks are an intriguing bunch.  The developments and comebacks on the team are tremendous.  Kirk Gibson loading up a coaching staff of old baseball tough guys like Alan Trammell and Don Baylor.  His roster is full of familiar D-Backs and features special seasons for players I thought were dead and gone.    Former Seattle closer J.J. Putz has 42 saves, former journeyman starter Ian Kennedy is a 20 game winner with Cy Young candidacy and Justin Upton is the power bat they were hoping he would be.   Watch out for the D-Backs because they like to finish.

*Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has went from supreme hot to serious cold this month, blowing 2 out of 4 saves in September and upping his overall total to 7 blown saves   Kimbrel was unhittable before the Cards reached him for 2 runs on September 9th and the Marlins took him deep last night for a walkoff win.

*Mariano Riveria recorded his 602nd save, becoming the all time leader in baseball history at Yankees stadium.  After Trevor Hoffman reached 601 as a Brewers last season.  I am happy for Riveria because he has been the one very proud Yankee since 1996, when he closed his first game in pinstripes.  If there is anything close to automactic in baseball, it’s Riveria.   His ERA in the playoffs is a crisp 1.79 and he pitches 2 innings per appearance in the World Series.  The fact that he did it with one great pitch makes his accomplishment even more remarkable.   As Joe Girardi pointed out, there isnt a chance the saves record gets broken in our lifetime.

The Movie Corner

A couple movies to look forward to this weekend come as followed.

The Killer Elite-What appears as another Jason Statham action film carries depth, go for broke directing and intriguing matchups.  Robert DeNiro plays an old mentor of Statham’s Special forces retired solder who is held captive and Clive Owen plays the bad guy standing in Statham’s way.   A film based on a true story entitled “Feather Man” looks downright intriguing but is taken to another level with the cast.  At the very least, the audience is entertained.   This is an action story with a little spice to it in the form of a coherent interesting backstory.   A film I have been waiting for since its announcement early this year.  A film for Statham fans and action buffs who crave a story and twists to the action.

Moneyball-The tale of Billy Beane’s electriyfing spin on the game of baseball and how one man changed the way teams were built.   Faced with a payroll ranking among the lowest in baseball, Beane(Brad Pitt) and his assistant(Jonah Hill) throw out the book and go to computers to find their production.   The move angers many in baseball and forced Beane to put a target on his back until the Oakland A’s started winning games and made a run at the playoffs in 2001.   Brad Pitt is a live wire genius when he is at his best and his persona and look fit the role of a baseball GM attempting to change the art of building a team in baseball.  Pitt took the role because he loved the idea of a guy questioning “perceived notions”.   That’s the secret juice of Pitt, who challenges himself to different roles and does fairly well while retaining his movie star looks.  The underdog spirit of the film is a real reason to see this movie.   A silent contender for best movie of the year.  Billy Beane stood up to the baseball gods and flipped the game on it’s side, and it was changed forever.  Talk about leaving an imprint on the game.

MUSIC Selection of the Week-Johnny Cash-“Hung My Head”

Cash was a powerfully underrated songwriter who completed a string of powerful works in his final years.   Using a worn down life living voice with tortured stories, Cash recorded some beauitful music during his last days, including “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, “Hurt” and this song.   Wait for the heavy finish with Cash’ mad baritone voice swelling up the background.   Cash’s voice was as recognizable and gaunt as any older artist.  He injects life into these songs.

http://youtu.be/QcmbFKstspk

As I watch an indie film called Stolen with the great Jon Hamm in the title role of a cop investigating the disappearance of his son by diving into a similiar case, it’s time to wrap this thing up.

The end of this rant has slowed down a bit and ran into a few walls, but it’s not that you haven’t gotten a decent pull of info from the launch here and gotten a new perspective along with it.   While this isn’t my best or worst batch of work, the words fill the void of an empty set of hours and gave me something to do between diaper changes of Vinny who is passed out on the floor below me.  All we have in this life is what we are going after at the moment, so do what you have to in order to survive.

One more thing…appreciate the little things.

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

 

 

 

 

Tools of the Trade

Lets run through a quick train of thought as I enjoy Iron Man 2 on the TV and have my stress levels squeezed to death here at St. Johns Mercy.    Writing is a theraputic experience, so allow me to pour out some fresh thoughts here.  A quick dose of Buffa medicine for the masses. 

*Quick Vinny update.   The little Buffa monster is holding his cards and waiting to exit from the hatch.   Something tells me the kid is going to come out in the middle of the night or early morning.   We are going on 12 hours of labor, and the wife is going through contractions that compare to a man having his balls squeezed.   There is nothing I can do, but do everything else and wait for the little guy to make an exit.   Prepare yourselves because within the next 12 hours I will be a father.  That’s a scary thought but here we go. 

*The Cards rebound from an absolutely horrible loss on Monday to win 6-4 tonight.  La Russa charades(pitching change merry go round) broke the Cards back on Monday as they blew 2 leads and lost on an 8th inning double, 6-5.   Chris Carpenter, newly rich and secured through 2013, took the mound Tuesday and gave up 4 runs through 7 innings on 112 pitches.   A subpar outing for an Ace who got a new lease on his career and fell flat tonight.   He blew leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in surrendering the game before Nick Punto and Albert Pujols handed the lead back to the team.  Jason Motte worked a high stakes ninth, setting the field on fire with 2 hits but inducing a double play to end the game.  This Cards team brings the drama and every win will pull the hairs from our head and the strings from our hearts.   The Cards wasted a chance to gain a game on Monday and The Braves won last night to maintain their 4.5 game lead.  Wasted opportunities is the name of the game this season as this team pulls up limp and pathetic every time a must win game arrives.   After disposing of the Brewers and Braves, they have battled Pittsburgh for 2 games.  While I’d like them to just fall down and die, seeing them reach 12 games over .500 and stay in the race gives me small hope.  

*A big drawback this season is starters blowing leads.   I can’t bring myself to blame the hitting because our bats are doing the job nearly every night.   The starters have blown 3 leads in two nights and the bullpen has coughed up a loss as well.  The starters aren’t pitching deep into games with TLR’s quick hook and the bullpen is being forced to pitch too many innings.  All this wears the bullpen’s arms down and makes September a rough month.  We will remember 2011 as the season where the rotation ran out of gas and caused the pen to crash.  

*Now that Carp is taken care of, Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal are next on the list to get deals before Mr. Pujols walks into the room with his future in the balance.   With Carp making 4.5 million less in 2012, the Cards can give Berk a raise and offer Furcal a one year deal at 6-8 million.   Before diving into the Pujols dungeon, John Mozelaik must get the rest of the roster sorted out.   Yadi Molina has a 7 million option to be picked up, which would give him a small raise.   David Freese and Jay return for cheap.   Daniel Descalso and Skip Schumacher will battle for the second base role and bench depth.   Allen Craig and Tony Cruz come to the bench.   The bullpen is set with the return of Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Kyle McClellan, Marc Rzepcynski and Jason Motte returning.   The Cards don’t have as many holes as people think. 

*Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood.   An entertaining talent which can switch from superhero mode to dramatic roles and into comedy while retaining a likeable quality.   Bouncing from Tony Stark to Peter Highman in Due Date to Sherlock Holmes is impressive work.  He makes superhero roles interesting. 

*Hospitals are a place that make you feel safe yet uneasy.   Life, death and hope all dance off these walls and it makes for a slightly complex mode. 

*What’s my friend right now?  Coffee.   I’m working on a fresh pot of Italian Roast and it’s following a 3 shot cafe latte and cafeteria crap blend serving.   This is a time where one can’t be too amped up but needs to be wired and awake.    I’ve been eating healthy, getting coffee and water into my system, and staying alert.   Having a kid has turned me into an anal health nut on speed.  

*Manny Rameriz gets arrested for domestic battery and is released without the freedom to see his wife.   Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me. 

*Justin Verlander wins his 23rd game tonight and still has 3 more starts to go to notch 25 wins for a season.  Verlander is making a strong case for MVP as well as Cy Young because of the impact his presence on a mound does for the team.   Dynamite season.

*Mariano Riveria records his 600th save of his career.  Let’s put it into perspective.   300 saves for closers is considered a solid bench mark.   Riveria and Trevor Hoffman now have 600 saves.   Amazing statistic.  He is in a class all by himself because of his effectiveness in the playoffs(1.63 ERA) and working all this time one pitch.  One of a kind.  

Random notes from a conversation with the Mang from Chicago. 

*Mozelaik has two separate payrollsfor 2012. A Pujols set and a Pujols-less set. We will see what happens but Ican’t get myself to believe Albert is going to leave. It’s as sure as the NFL
lockout ending. The Cards and Pujols aren’t stupid enough to not work something
out. The winter talks didn’t go well because the Cards waited so long and Pujols’ agent wanted a huge deal. Now, things start up again and Mo’s strategy of taking care of the other bodies before the AP trials is good for each party.  No distractions.

*

The Rams have failed in the draft several times. Remember Tye Hill getting selected over Jay Cutler. Trust fund bitch or not, Cutler is thriving in Chicago with Mike Martz and we passed him up for a lousy cornerback. Look at it this way. Take out Torry Holt and Sam Bradford, and
every first round draft pick the past 12 years is shit. Smith, Long, Quinn and others may turn out to be solid players but the immediate impact isnt there. Spags is too tentative to unleash the beasts. Kennedy was a shit player who couldn’t learn how to put his hands up and block. Barron was a false start queen. Carriker was released because he couldn’t get pass an linemen. I blame
the head coaching and staff for holding back Quinn. Quinn looked strong in the preseason on first team series and gets held back. Bad move. The Rams are a better team but still fall flat in developmental stages and the draft. Bring in Mr. Wolf(the fixer) to take care of the draft pick. Underrated draft pick from the Spags regime is James Lauranitis. Love that kid.

*The Steelers defeat was shocking for the fact that the
sacking, interceptions and all out defense usually go both ways in their games.
This time, the Ravens beat the Steelers in every facet of the game. Running,
defense and most surprisingly, quarterback play. Big Ben is as clutch as they
come in the 4th quarter and he sealed the fate with 3 picks. Flacco played way
above his talent level and defeated a great defense. Shocking for the fact that
the Ravens defense completely shut down the Steelers attack and caused the
Pittsburgh defense to crumble. A huge division lift for Balty.

  • No one needs to drink the Cum on Cam juice yet. He played
    well in one game against a very bad defense, but he proved to his harshest
    critics that he can play in this league. He will experience bad games but he
    made some good passes and competed. When he is on, he will be a problem for a
    subpar to bad defense. It’s good to have a game changing receiver like Steve
    Smith, something Mr. Bradford lacks.
  • The NFC West is up for grabs but the Rams will get the short end of the stick playing the hardest schedule early on while experiencing a ton of starter injuries. The Cards won and have a leg up but it comes down to divisional play.
  • Entourage survived as an entertaining blast and I liked it for the camraderie between the guys. When Ari was in the group and they were running wild around Hollywood, the show was at its best. Piven was the heart and soul of the show. His greatness will live on while the other performances will only be seen as mandatory. Ellin gets credit for making us care about a
    dumbshit like Vince and his pack of suckers. He created that and fed Piven great scenes. The funny thing is Wahlberg and Ellin never thought they would get 2 seasons much less 8 full campaigns. Gold was supposed to be a small role and Piven’s audition and performance elevated it into a two time Emmy winning act. He had the toughest job because he had to play the most harshest part and do nasty things but still retained our hope for a happy ending. The final scene cements the show as his own. Watch and you will see.
  • How am I doing? Imagine a gorilla caged inside a room
    with a crazily emotional and uncomfortable woman and you have it. A day that
    seriously got kicked into high gear at 11am when my co-workers alerted me that
    a pregnant woman was going into labor. I talked about it all morning and Vinny
    heard me and started crawling out.

That’s my que to get out.   TIme to enjoy more coffee, maybe get some rest, watch more DVD’s and handle the husband duties of the night that include ice chips, bathroom trips, hand squeezing and some random walks around the hospital ward.   Becoming a dad entails many things and one of them is patience.  I’m learning as we go as I proceed through training here.   One trip to the baby nursery has me both excited and terrified to be in charge of a human being in less than 12 hours. 

So long and goodnight,

DLB

 

The Read

Hello ladies and gents,

Follow me on a small expedition into the back of my head as we begin another work week.  Counting the hours and days until my baby arrives is becoming a stressful experience, which only means I head back to the keyboard and fire off a few rounds of prose for the masses.   Monday stream of conciousness begins now..

What’s impressive about the Cardinals 5 game winning streak?   The all around productivity of this team.   The ability to put it all together helped propel this team back into the wild card race and also keep an eye on Milwaukee.  The starting pitching performed well all week, starting with Carpenter’s gem and ending with Jake Westbrook’s 5.1 innings on Sunday.   The lineup didn’t hit one home run against Atlanta while manufacturing runs with 2 out hits, sacrifice flies and moving runners around via the bunt and key grounders.  The Cards got back to scrappy baseball, producing their first come from behind win on Friday and not relying on the home run for the first time since late June.  Everything fell apart in late June.   Albert got hurt, McClellan and Lohse fell apart and Rasmus started his swoon.  This past week produced the first 5 game winning streak of the season and showed the first signs of unified play in months.   Jason Motte is solidifying the bullpen with his 5 saves in 5 chances the past 2 weeks.   Motte played a part in each Braves beating.  He plowed through the heart of the order on Friday in the top of the 10th to preserve the tie game, locked down a one run win on Saturday and struck out the side on Sunday.  Motte is pitching on an unbelievable stretch of productivity that hasn’t been seen in the Cardinals bullpen in 10 years.  He has allowed only a single run in over 30 innings since late June.   He is making the Cards decision very easy for next season.  With Salas back to setting up in the 8th inning and the return of Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez next season, the bullpen is going to be a strength.  The most impressive thing about Motte’s performance is the timing.   Pitching at the end of the season against competing teams and becoming a strength in September(something Ryan Franklin could never do).  Albert Pujols’ second half performance is also impressive because the hardest stretch to improve your batting average is the last two months of the season.  All around the roster, from Daniel Descalso’s key hits and Rafael Furcal’s defense to Jon Jay’s reemergence, the Cards are finally bringing everything together.

What’s next for the Cards?  Three games in Pittsburgh.  Win all three.   The Cards must continue their stretch of play in order to stay in the hunt, create a payoff for fans and maintain the momentum.  A loss tonight with Kyle Lohse on the mound would cripple this team.  The Pirates are reeling but represent a dangerous speed bump before the birds take on Philly this weekend for four crucial brutal games.   At this time of the year, we can’t afford to lose. With 16 games left, the Cardinals have to go 13-3 and hope for some Braves failure along the way.  We are in must win/watch the scoreboard territory.

The Cardinals lock up Chris Carpenter for 2012-2013.   Doing exactly what I said to do(second wish granted in 3 days), The Cards scrapped the 15 million dollar option and gave him a 2 year extension worth 21 million.  A solid move for both sides, with Carpenter rebounding to put together decent numbers this season(everything except the record is respectable).   Carpenter is vital to this team’s chances, with the unstable back end of Lohse and Westbrook and the shaky future of Wainwright and Jaime Garcia.   Locking him up was a good move.  The rotation for 2012 is in place, which is good and bad.  Good to have one area to not worry about but bad because of Edwin Jackson’s performance in his time here.  Jackson is a talented young pitcher who will want a multiple year deal and due to the fact of giving Westbrook 2 years and Lohse a ridiculous contract 3 years ago there is no room for Jackson in the rotation or in the payroll.

GM John Mozelaik is working smart by starting early.  Wasting time is for weaker general managers. Locking up Wainwright for two more years at a bargained price, giving Carp the extension, and getting in contact with Furcal and Lance Berkman’s reps.   The Albert Pujols talks will take awhile, so it’s smart to get the important small pieces out of the way.   The Cardinals can’t afford to wait on extending key parts of their rotation and defense.  I expect Carp, Furcal and Berkman to be taken care of by the end of the season.   That way, after the World Series ends, the Cards front office can deal with Mr. Pujols only.

The Rams suffer an ugly season opening loss to Philadelphia.  Going into the game, many around me thought the Eagles were unstable and capable of defeat, and I kept correcting them, calling this game a potential upset pick but harder than most expected.  Too much blue kool aide was passed around the table.   The Rams were beat 31-13, and fell asleep after a promising 1st quarter.   Chris Long sacked Michael Vick on the opening series and Steven Jackson ran for a 47 yard touchdown to put us up 7-0 quick, but everything went down hill from there.   Jackson left the game with a quad injury, Vick ran wild for over 100 yards and the Rams defense crumbled in the 4th quarter.

A few notes from the game-

  • Sam Bradford didn’t throw any interceptions, but made a few mistakes and didn’t make much else happen on the field.   He was constantly under pressure and didn’t have many open throwing lanes with the Eagles strong secondary swallowing up the field.  In a nutshell, he was shut down by the Eagles defense, especially after Steven Jackson left.   The Rams didn’t start Michael Sims-Walker or Danario Alexander, so there was no deep threat for Bradford and Josh McDaniels to play with.   Bradford left the game in the 4th quarter when he slammed his hand on a helmet.  X-Rays were negative but there may be nerve damage.  Losing Bradford and Jackson in a single game humbled the Rams fanbase rather quickly.
  • Cadillac Williams ran well in Jackson’s absence.   He accumulated 91 yards on 19 carries, creating a consistent stream of running power but getting zero help from the passing game.  Jackson and Williams backed up the defenders, but Bradford couldn’t find receivers.
  • A key turnover by Bradford flipped this game completely around.  Taking a snap and missing a hand off to Williams, Bradford collided with guard Jason Brown, lost the ball, got tied up and watched the Eagles take it back for a 56 yard touchdown.   This broke the Rams back and we never recovered.
  • Ladies and gents, there are no big game receivers on this team.  Once you cut Donnie Avery, the Rams had to start Walker or Alexander and they did not.   Who is the deep threat on this team?  Brandon Gibson?  Give me a break and step back and realize something.   Can the B Cast of receivers succeed this season under enhanced expectations?  While we figure that out, Rams GM Billy Devaney needs to call Randy Moss’ agent.  Why not?  Moss is a cancerous self centered bastard but….he can catch the deep pass and win a jump ball struggle in the end zone.  The Rams failed in the red zone yesterday and only came away with a couple field goals.   Josh McDaniels can design a master plan of attack but you must have the talent to make it happen.   McDaniels worked with Moss in New England, where Randy resurrected his career.  Now it’s time to call his agent, offer him a 1 year deal and get him into camp.
  • The Rams generated a pass rush but 80 percent of the time they only brought heat from one side of the line of scrimmage, which created an open lane for Vick to run through.   That’s the problem with dealing with a player like Vick.  He can now run and throw, and is equally deadly.  He can step up and fling it 50 yards off his back foot or take off for 15 yards.   Unless you bring consistent pressure from both sides, he will burn you.
  • To quote the great Bill Simmons, “The NFL Season has officially begun.  Steven Jackson pulled something.”  Jackson can’t stay healthy in the latter part of his career and its going to hurt him.  The exact reason the team went out and got real depth at the position.
  • A reality check for the team.   The Rams are going to endure a tough 7 game stretch where the Cowboys, Giants, Ravens, Packers and Saints bring the heat every week.   Next week, we march into New York to take on Eli Manning and the Giants.  The Giants are suffering from defensive injuries and Eli is a mixed bag, but the game will be tough.   A wicked change of perception took this team up to a level that they couldn’t handle.   Going from 6-42 in 3 seasons to 7-9 last year flipped the switch on the expectations.   The Rams ran into a blunt brick wall of truth yesterday.  We will see if they get up.

Moving on with more NFL recaps and further ramblings.

The Cowboys and Tony Romo coughed up another game on National television.  Playing in New York against the Jets on the biggest stage, the Cowboys wasted a 24-10 lead and went down on a last minute field goal.   Romo’s 2 late turnovers poisoned Dallas’ chances and they never recovered, giving Mark Sanchez the chance to become a 9/11 hero and grab an emotional win for the Jets.  An interception and fumble returned Romo to Chokeville.  Quarterbacks, when faced with strict adversity, either make plays in the clutch or they screw up.   Tony Romo will never be a Super Bowl winning QB because he flunks in big moments.  A shaky arm with zero confidence who has a little too much fun on the field and needs to focus and become the leader of this team.  If I am Jerry Jones, I am ordering a few more bottles of scotch.

Post Peyton period started off disastrous for The Colts.   When Kerry Collins came in, one logical football mind could summon up the idea that they would be able to move the ball and score some points.  However, the impact of Manning is being felt already in week 1.  Houston tromped the Colts 35-7.   A sign of things to come.  Side fact on the loss.  I carry 3 Colts receivers on my fantasy team, so I lost as well.  The best case scenario for Colts is to sit Manning for the season, finish 1-15 and select Andrew Luck with the first pick to be groomed as Peyton’s backup.

The Steelers get their ass handed to them at Heinz Field by Joe Flacco and the Ravens.   In a game that is usually won by field goals, blood, sweat and brutal hits, Ben Roethlisberger threw 3 interceptions and the Ravens defeated them 35-7.   A huge season opening blow for Pittsburgh, who suffers a loss to a division opponent and worse, they do it at home.  What happened to the Steelers?

While he was facing a weak Arizona secondary, I was impressed by Cam Newton’s 442 yard, 3 touchdown performance on Sunday.   Anyone still think he can’t throw?  Newton has a good head on his shoulders, is being groomed as the king of Carolina and has time to grow into it

The Packers and Saints will be tough to face.   Thursday’s game must give the Rams nightmares about their meetings with them.   Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers combined for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns in a knockdown drag out slugfest that Green Bay won 42-34.   The defenses were roughed up, but I am quick to point out that both team’s carry explosive offenses.   If the Saints score 34 points on a high ranked Packers defense, what happens in November against the Rams on turf?  Painful.

Ironically, the Packers and Saints games don’t scare me as much as the division games with Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco do.  The Rams don’t care of business against the weak division teams and Arizona will steal this division.

What’s waiting for a baby like?  Imagine waiting on a package from overseas and having zero clue of the landing date.   You sit, wait, wonder, prepare and wait more.  It’s a quietly agonizing experience.   Someone needs to tell Vincent Buffa to break the seal and start the process.   The nursery is beginning to call my name and there’s no baby yet.

Random Selections-

HBO’s Entourage enjoyed a satisfying if tease inducing wrapup to it’s 8 year run.   A fitting farewell to Vince Chase and the gang from Queens precedes a movie version coming in 2 years.  The arc of the storyline from the final season’s subpar bag was brought to an end, but a movie is required to fully satisfy fans.   For now, fans have to be satisfied.  Eric and Vince saw predictable ends but Creator Doug Ellin spun an interesting puzzle for Ari Gold.   The climax of Gold’s story wrap is fine but the short tid bit after the credits sets up the fireblazing agent up for the decision of a lifetime that all the fans can define their own meaning for. Thoughts?? While the final season was weak, the final 2 episodes were entertaining and good enough but leaves us wanting more.  Entourage episodes are classically short and don’t give enough once a week, so a full length 90-120 version would work well.  Entourage is a breezy comedy about the healing power of friendship amidst the star crossed poison of celebrity.   Ellin kept the heart of the story in the Gold Family, which is smart because Jeremy Piven’s shark agent has always been the jewel of the show.  Leaving his story line unfinished is good housekeeping by Ellin and company and leaves the door open.  The series has always been about a movie star and his friends wild journeys, but the acting of Piven has kept Entourage watchable for 8 years. While the guys were nice wannabe millionaires, Ari was the devilish gold digger who spit out every kind of profane racist vulgar batch of destruction that he made us remember what Hollywood is all about and built on.  Money and greed.  Here was the amazing part of Piven’s performance.  Whether he was insulting his wife or cracking a gay joke at his assistant Lloyd, we rooted for him.  When he got fired from his job, we felt as down as he did.   When he was offered the studio head job, we prayed he would remain Vince’s agent.  For everything evil and blunt that came from his mouth, we registered with his sick monster agent.  The same magic goes for Vince and his entourage.  When the show wasn’t funny, we registered with the almighty pack of friendship between these guys.  If you have a group of friends you’d stand in front of a firing line for, Entourage registered with you.  While it was never great or will go down as one of the best shows on television, Entourage reins tall as the greatest guilty pleasure on television.   Watching Vincent Chase and his hounds run around Hollywood trying to make a name for themselves with Ari putting out fires carrying an assault rifle mouth and two cells, you followed them and hoped they’d find success.   The greatest examples of Entourage’s sweet spot came in these two moments.

-Johnny Drama getting the TV role for the mobster show, Five Towns.   Bent out of shape on whether he’d gotten the role with his audition, Drama got into his Cadillac and drove out to the Grand Canyon.  He wakes up in the Cady, answers his cell, finds out he got the role and falls to his knees screaming victory as Cream plays in the background.  One of the most satisfying moments.

-My favorite episode, the Blackout.  Right after Aquaman opens and the boys go see the movie and Gold is scrambling around for box office estimates, a blackout runs through LA.  The boys head to a party and Ari goes home defeated, watching Vince’s future hang in the wings.   News comes in that Aquaman sets the record and Ari crashes the party.   One of the best written episodes of all time.

When Entourage was good, the writing was crisp, Gold was steamed, and the boys met success.   Here’s to another trip with the boys in two years.

On the other hand, True Blood finished it’s fourth season in entertaining unmemorable fashion.  A show that is good if not great because it runs too many storylines at once.  The 4th season finale was a bloody drunk uneven mess, but it brought the action and drama just enough to entertain.   True Blood is like a steak without seasoning.  It’s only good for a few chews until you notice there isn’t much here  A soap opera about vamps, wolves and witches all clawing for a human’s blood is only minimially satisfying.  The 5th season is coming and hopefully Alan Ball keeps the storylines anchored and doesn’t allow the ship to get too heavy.  The acting is good if not a sea of “types” and the ideal mixture of graphic violence and sex makes it watchable.  How deep does TB go?

While I didn’t watch Starz’s series, Spartacus during its first season(finding it comical and flat with the CG blood overdose), I do want to give a warm batch of condolences to Andy Whitfield’s family.   The young Australian actor played Spartacus in the first season and came down with lymphoma before the second season launch.  After an 18 month struggle, the 39 year old actor passed away over the weekend.   Like his acting or not, 39 years is too little to live a life.  Unfortunate loss for Hollywood’s young class.  One of the bright spots of Spartacus was Whitfield, who brought a gritty innocence to the role as its roughest origin.

5 little things that keep me Sane

1.)A clean house.  Nothing says sit down and relax like a clean floor and counters.  I am the kind of anal retentive soul that sees the dust under the entertainment center and instantly grimaces.

2.)A cold beer.  Just 1 at times can do the trick of shifting yourself into a good mood.

3.)Coffee.  Where would any of us be without the java mood boosting jolt in the morning and night?  Buffa’s Coffee Pick of the Week-Starbucks Cafe Sumatra, a middle eastern extra bold blend that is a perfect blood kicker in the cranky hours of the A.M..

4.)Workouts.  If I didn’t run or work with weights, I would be a tension filled anxiety popping maniac.   Thank you 24 hour fitness.  Also a side kiss to the open road, where I spend 30 minutes a day roaming around Kirkwood or South St. Louis.

5.)A good salad.  That’s right.  A little ruffage goes a long way for this hardened italian.    Minimal for sure, but there’s something about a well put together caesar salad with steak or chicken that calms the nerves and creates a standing ovation in the colon.  We all like the standard burger, steak or pasta dish, but a salad hits the spot.  Latest salad crush of the moment-Bread Company’s Steak and Blue Cheese Chopped salad with carmelized onions and sweet vinagerette dressing.

Song of the Day-

Led Zeppelin-“Going to California”

http://youtu.be/zZ2mbCQdBQA

The song used to send Entourage off into the sunset on last night’s finale is a sweet riff on a blues love ballad.  Robert Plant’s creepy yet sweet vocals dance around a garden with Jimmy Page’s sensitively cool guitar riffing.  Scott Venar, Entourage’s Music Supervisor, called this one of his favorite songs and a perfect choice to end the television series.   Give it a listen.  A change of pace for the usually fast moving rocking of LZ.

More Bits-

  • Classy showing by the NFL and MLB in honoring 9/11/11 victims across the country.   Whether it was a field covering american flag or a small video, the job got done and nearly every ceremony avoided a melodramatic pause or wound opening monologue.  A selfless day by sports franchises.
  • Rams Injury Report Update-Steven Jackson is doubtful for next Monday’s game against the New York Giants.  He has a quad strain, which is unfortunate after a preseason that saw him in the best shape of his career.  Sam Bradford has a bruised finger, but will play Monday.   Prime time football is no place to come up limp for your team.   Danny Amendola is questionable and there is no info on his injury.   I seriously don’t know why teams can’t just come right out and say, “this is hurting him”.   For the people who pay these guys their money, we deserve a decent injury report.   Cornerback Ron Bartell has two broken bones in his neck and is out.  According to Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams set a record for the longest injury report for a single game.  A rough way to start a season.   In general, this team took a few bullets to the chest to go with a painful defeat.
  • It’s time to put the happy pills down, Rams fans and understand this team doesn’t see one clear victory in this seven game stretch.   Washington took care of the Giants on Sunday, so that sure win is out the window.   The Giants are a threat in New York on Monday night.  The Rams failed in their last nationally televised game when they lost the tiebreaker to Seattle.   While the Rams are talented and capable of winning, the combined dread of a tough schedule and early injury toll will make the next two months tough.  If we go 2-5 or 3-3, that’s a good start.
  • It’s crazy to get too mad at the Rams for Sunday’s performance.  With the injuries and working machine of the Eagles, the result wasn’t going to be pretty.  The Rams hung with Philly for 3 quarters and got knocked out, a similiar procedure from 2010.   It’s their challenge to change that the next few weeks.  This team simply has to compete and make smarter crisper decisions.  However, please call Moss.
  • With the fall comes hardcore television drama.   HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Showtime’s Dexter return this month.   Good times ahead.  Empire is known for its cold blooded depiction of the men who benefited from Prohibition and the women who backed them up.   Dexter is a serial killer’s pledge for normalcy and justice in a steady dose.  I’m ready.
  • Do the Cards make it or not?  Honestly, I can’t tell you but if I was betting I’d put my cash on failure right now.  When in doubt, go with the odds and history.  Gambler’s fiercest allies.
  • What time is it?  Shower time.  Dinner.  A beer.  Relaxation.   That’s right.  I’m bringing this rant to an end.  My third rant in three days.  Yes, I’m feeling good.  No,  I am not on fire.  What can I say?  With the baby on the way, I’m getting as many blogs done and as many workouts in as I can before Vincent takes over the house.  That’s right.  A 7 pound baby will capture every ounce of attention and every waking moment of my life.   My sleep schedule, my free time, my movements, eating time, and the precious bounty of casual dead zone daydreaming.   This isn’t my swan song, but I’m letting the hands go until I get taken away for a while.

Thanks for reading folks and come back for more.  Remember one thing, I know I’m in my own little world at times, but they know me here.  Do what you do well and stick to it.

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

The Epic Read

Lets run into this stream of conciousness as we run into 9/11/11 here on the clock.  First, a rant about clocks.

That’s right my friends.  A fucking clock. Clocks are everywhere.  Imagine if you ditched every fucking clock in your house?  What’s life like working a full time job?  Relying on clocks and alarms to kickstart our day.  Nothing says “wake the fuck up” like an annoying bullshit talking alarm that never stops unless you throw it into the wall.   Alarms rule our lives and their headmasters are clocks, so guess what everybody, we are ruled not only by banks but also by clocks.  They inform us how much time we have to get from one place to another and how long we can stay or have to be there.   We eat dinner and check the clock for our shows or a game.  We are at work and we train our eyes on the time clock so we know when it’s time to put tires to the ground, keys in the ignition and remove ourselves from the parking lot.   The worst feeling is, leaving work and looking at the clock, knowing in less than 12 hours, work will be approaching again.   Fuck clocks and their motives.  Their ambition is to make us feel trapped, like we don’t have anytime in the world.   Driving through at Starbucks, I get my coffee, give the lady un-exact change and ask her the time because I don’t want to look at my watch because I memorized how my watch compares to my phone clock and to other clocks.  I need a new reference, so fix my damn espresso and give me a new read.   That’s when time really fucks you.  Playing the “which one is for real” game.   Working your nerves and pulling your strings while never revealing which clocks are right.  Are they right in the military because the bastards shout it all the time?  Are they right in banks because they store all the money, which dictates our lives in the first place?  Our clocks at home are like minor league clocks, holding little stock to the real time outside of our house.  Fucking clocks working against us and keeping us in the dark.   We literally never have a real idea on what time it is.   215pm at home might mean 219pm at work and that means my alarm needs to be adjusted so I can still get my 5 snooze taps per morning.   That’s right, Mr. Cellphone Clock, you ring your bell at 5am and I pushing your ass 5 yards immediately.   Tapping the snoozes is like registering penalty flags to yourself for feeling unmotivated.   Three taps one morning and we are starting our day near the end zone, in safety territory, but not the cool safety.  The 2 points on the scoreboard against us safety crap.   It’s not cool.  Time isn’t cool and not on our side.  Fuck you Mick Jagger!  Unemployed, aluminum foil faced fucking 90 pound soaking wet pussy machine lip swirling fuck!   Stop making great rock songs and I will give you a fresh timecard to punch in at my warehouse.   That’s right, gimme shelter and I’ll give you a 30,000 pound Lowes order shipping out at high noon motherfucker.   Time kicks our ass daily and it all starts with clocks.  They are everywhere.   On our arms, in our pocket, across from the TV, in our car and in our grandma’s house.   What does it mean to be self employed or be a millionaire?  Having zero fucking need for a clock.   Mark Cuban gets up every day, sticks another needle in his referee voodoo doll, and doesn’t need to look at a clock.   Bill Gates crawls out of bed(or is lifted by small tiny midget angel men) and stares at his bedroom wall sized computer monitor feeling no need to see 1 number separated by this (:) before a set of other numbers.   It fucking rules our lives and I hate it!  When I leave town and go see the in-laws in Kansas City, I rarely have to look at a fucking clock.  Light and dark make my time capsule observation in the country.   Camping is another spot where cell phones are deemed useless and clocks are only an excuse to look at if you are having a shitty time getting eaten alive by mosquitos, constantly making fire and eating beans while talking about things that never enter a conversation in your own zip code.   When I come back home and get into robot gear, the games start again and the clock owns my life.   Clocks own our lives.   Please don’t deny it because I will ask you to fill out an application telling me what you do for a living.   Here’s a picture of our lives.   Our heads tilting down, up or to the side to look at a clock.   “Momma, can I have a few more minutes?”  “You cannot, get back in line.”  Think otherwise and you are fucking moron.   Men can be the owners of the universe and still hand their dick to a clock.  Same goes for the estrogen powered female race.   Rocking the tight gray suit-skirt-minimal makeup-espresso-blackberry look won’t hide you from checking the clock to see how much time you have to pound that subway sandwich baby, but I do like the way you hold it.   Ladies and gents, time owns our lives and every clock is a official reminder of our ticking timebomb of a life on this cold rock we call earth.

That was a real rant my friends.   Being an official “ranter”, I must occasionally unleash a healthy pinched off loaf of fine prose that is laid down like a steel toed boot to the skull.   I can do it all.  Cover topics, rant, complain and praise.  Lets get things rolling with a movie I will call one of the best films of the year.   A movie called Warrior.   Follow along and you will pick up the idea.

Warrior Review(Spoilers included for the people who want to know NOTHING about the film)

A tale of two brothers, Tommy(Tom Hardy) and Brandon(Joel Edgerton) Conlon.  They come from a broken home, where their dad, Paddy(Nick Nolte, in crash and burn mode) drank himself under the table and took out his frustrations by beating up on their mother.   When the mother couldn’t take it anymore, Tommy went with her to California while Brandon stayed with dad and the family was shattered.   Flash forward around 20 years and Tommy has returned home from Iraq(his duties, actions, and reasons unsure until later) to find Paddy sober and Brandon working as a school teacher with a wife and 2 kids.  Tommy does want to train to fight in MMA because a tournament, Sparta Tourney, is gathering 16 fighters from around the land and pays 5 million to the winner.   Brandon needs a lift because happiness doesn’t come with a healthy paycheck.   His daughter has a heart defect and his house is 3 months from foreclosure.  These are two hardened men who have to fight in order to fulfill the most important things in their lives.  For Tommy, it’s helping a fellow soldier friend.   For Brandon, it’s paying the bills.  Brandon’s wife(Jennifer Morrison) doesn’t like seeing a bruised husband come home with a roll of cash, but that’s the brutal swing of fate for a blue collar family.   Warrior tells a realistic modern time crushing tale about survival of the fittest and the strong.   Soon, the two men find themselves on a collision course, yet they have zero idea each other are involved.  Paddy trains Tommy and Brandon goes back to his old gym rat Frank(Frank Grillo) to find his way around a ring.   The rest isn’t written by Shakespeare, but here are 7 reasons I truly loved this film and it hung with me all day long.

1.)The acting is top notch.  Hardy gained 30 pounds of muscle, adopted a East coast accent and fully develops into the silent killing machine that is Tommy Conlon.   Edgerton carries the beaten up boxer smashed pitbull complection to put Brandon on the table as a guy doing everything for his family.    Nolte is in top form as the retired drunk trying to piece together 30 years of mistakes.   Morrison, Grillo, Kevin Dunn and Kurt Angle in a small role all add their own little spice to the pot.    This is Hardy and Edgerton’s film to carry and they do a great job of showing us blue collar tough personified in the ring.  Hardy is all boiling intensity and Edgerton is cool and assured.  Conflicting roles that pit two souls together as brothers from different sides of the spectrum.

2.)The story is aces because near the end of the film when the two eventually meet in the ring(this was given in the trailer, so lay off me for giving it away), you don’t know who to root for.   You respect each character for their reasons and when you find out more about Tommy’s motives, you only cheer for his quiet persistence.    Tommy tells Paddy early on, “I liked you better as a drunk.  You missed all the fun of watching her die.”   Tommy’s grudge against Paddy is breaking their family apart.  His grudge against Brandon is staying with his dad.  Brandon didn’t get to see his mom so there is an anger between him and Tommy, who didn’t communicate with the two once he left.   Director Gavin O’Connor is so good at implementing emotional punch into his films, and it starts with a real story rooted in family bonds and values.   In Pride and Glory, it was a family of cops who faced corruption and turmoil.  In Warrior, a family of fighters are trying to treat open wounds that aren’t healing.   O’Connor makes testosterone tales that are spiced up with true emotion.   He co-wrote the script and injects a toughness into every scene.

3.)The MMA fight scenes are authentic and real to the bone without being overly violent.   We feel every punch, kick, and choke hold from our seats but the action is quick and swift and doesn’t drown out a queasy viewer.   The filmmakers save the hardest punches in the slower dramatic scenes to fully lay us out on the floor.  This is a movie that fully reveals the MMA industry for putting money into the sport, laying it out as a new power and a real sport of highly skilled and trained athletes.  Your doubts about this sport end when this film’s credits roll.   Tommy is a multiple punch smash artist with his tommy gun round of punches.   Brandon is the Rocky like underdog scrapper, who wins his fights on the ground.   Each character carries a different mixed martial arts style and it’s nicely injected into the film.  This is UFC/MMA’s official introduction to the movies.

4.)O’Connor didn’t just make an action film about fighters.  The running time is long at 2 hours and 13 minutes, but the minutes are earned here because he sets up the story with assertive conviction.   We get to know Tommy and Brandon before we see them get into a serious fight and the outlines of their story are quickly laid in cement before the blood spills.   This is a film about brothers and family and not just an MMA movie.   The MMA is a color for the family drama and not the other way around.

5.)While I can already tell you Hardy is a star to watch from his recent work record(Bronson, Inception, the upcoming Dark Knight Rises), Edgerton is an actor to watch.  He reminds me of a tougher Daniel Craig, with the rock smashed face and edgy overall look.   Edgerton is an Australian and he mastered a hardened Pittsburgh steel American accent.  Brandon Conlon is the real star of this story, and the moral center of the film because of his plight from UFC fighter to school teacher to MMA underdog.  He is the hero of the film.

6.) The ending is well played and earned.   When the two men get into the ring and lock skulls, we don’t know what we want or what will happen.  Its a truly unpredictable pledge once the scene begins.   This wasn’t easy to write and harder to act with.   Hardy and Edgerton shine the brightest here and own the film in the final 15 minutes.  The wonderful pacing of the film leads up to the big showdown and when its over, the audience doesn’t feel cheated and might even be holding back some man tears.   An emotional film about taking chances and earning your living with your birth given fists and ability.   At the core, its a film about forgiveness and all it’s shades of gray.   The final moments of the film are played out right because the filmmakers took the right amount of time to set it up so that when it hits we understand it completely and agree with it.

7.)The film hit me on an emotional level because of my real life relationship with my older brother.   We had two great parents, but near the age of 20 my brother came down with a condition and it separated us as close friends and true brothers.   These days, I don’t get to see my brother or talk to him as much as I want and as a younger sibling, it hurts.  The blame is on my end and his, but it’s rough and this film taught me how every day is a chance to make the call and stay in touch.    Breaking down disease built barriers all comes down to effort and showing it daily or choosing to stay away.   Watching this film’s ending got me more emotional in a theater than I ever have been recently.   It made me want to call my brother just to say hello and keep the blood line fresh and the friendship enabled.  Movie that strike us on an emotional level are the ones we don’t forget.

Warrior is a truly great film that will emotionally knock you to the ground and that’s what you want when you enter the theater.  Entertainment and connection.   See it or potentially feel the weight of a chance passed by.   This is Grade A entertainment.   Movies don’t get much better than this.

The Other Stuff

  • The Cardinals won again and closed the deficit in the wild card race to 5.5 games with 17 games left to play.   A sweep completed tomorrow is required for this team to realistically stay alive in the race.  The Cards are 11 games over .500 for the first time in 3 months and still 6 games behind the Brewers.   A potentially killshot inducing homestand is turning into a comeback trail.   After dropping 2 of 3 to the Reds, the Cards are 5-1 against the teams they are chasing right now in the Brewers and Braves.
  • Here’s something else for the Cards crowd.   In the last three wins, the Cards have only hit 1 home run.   During the second half, the Cardinals’ recipe for success hinged on the home run.   Long balls were our way of exporting success into the standings.   Against the Braves, the Cards have manufactured 8 runs the old fashioned way.   That’s impressive.
  • They keep hitting into double plays though.  2 more on Saturday night puts this team at 155 for the season and 10 short of the record for all time embarassment.  Double play shuffle shows that we put runners on base but exploit the fact we don’t start the runners and can’t steal bases.   Tony La Russa’s American League style offense doesn’t include a running game.   A team relied on bombs gets exposed in double plays.  This isn’t impressive.
  • Albert Pujols seriously flirting with .300 is good television.  One minute, he is nearly there.  The next, he is pushed back.   Right when he gets within a hit of reaching a .300 batting average for the first time all season, Pujols records 3 straight outs and falls back to .296.   Since the guy is red hot and hitting .400 on this homestand, I believe he will reach .300 in Pittsburgh next week or sooner.  This is what being a supreme supporter entails.  You live and die on each at bat.   When Pujols was enduring the worst slump of his career, many Cardinal fans took the opportunity to use the ugly offseason contract talks to cast him off.   They forget this guy is the greatest player in Cardinal Red since Stan Musial and deserves better.  That’s right you picky “best fans in baseball” bullshit crowd.  Stop hating.   For 13 million per season(3 million deferred every year), Albert Pujols has delivered top notch production.  In early October, he will once again carry solid to great numbers so appreciate the guy for his all around greatness and save your disgust for La Russa or the rotation.
  • People are underestimating the value of Peyton Manning to the Colts offense.  Imagine pulling Daniel Day Lewis out of Gangs of New York or Paul Newman out of The Color of Money and you have the idea.  Manning runs the show in Indy.   He called plays at practice, changed them at the line of scrimmage in games and was the master decision maker.    His injury is serious business and big discomfort for people all over the NFL world.   Love or hate him, Peyton is good for football.   You either root to see him succeed(like me) or wish for his downfall(a few of my friends).   Either way, the man helps power the sport and is the engine of the Colts.   Without him, you pull 5-6 wins off their total.   His neck injury is serious.   Knee surgeries and elbow operations are routine.   Neck is a brittle career ending area.   If he comes back too soon and gets rocked, his playing days are done.   Does he want to leave the game like Montana or Elway where he leaves on his feet, or get carried off the field like Troy Aikman or Steve Young?  Without Manning, Sunday’s take a hit.   All along, I knew he was going to miss some time.   Neck injuries are the exception to the rule of being a tough NFL player.
  • The Detroit Lions will score points, win some games but will carry the NFL’s fiercest pass rush.   Thanks in no small part to Ndamukong Suh’s monster potential and aggressive style, the Lions doubled their sack total in 2010 and will put pressure on QB’s and destroy quarterbacks.    Calling them a playoff team might be a stretch, but ask the Rams how much fun they had when they lost 44-6 last season in Detroit.   Don’t take this team too lightly.
  • Also, why is everyone ditching Donovan McNabb?  Sure, he sucked in Washington, but who doesn’t suck as a Redskins quarterback in the last decade?  Ask Jason Campbell about his time there.  Mike Shanahan never liked McNabb and didn’t use him properly or equip him with the right tools.  McNabb put up solid seasons in Philidephia because he had a supporting cast to help him.  Certain QB’s are talented yet need strong players around them.  Donovan isn’t like Peyton and can’t turn water in wine.  However, when Adrian Petersen lines up behind you, your job is much easier.  With a strong defense and talented receiving core and the best running back in the game helping you, who can count out McNabb and the Vikings?  Fools will rush to try.   I am not a huge fan of the guy but to me he is right back in Philidephia with a new Brian Westbrook(Petersen) and a solid 1-2-3 punch of receivers(Percy Harvin, Vincente Shiancoe, Bernard Berrian).   Don’t blame McNabb.  He is a soft thin skinned black man.   Blame the shitty Daniel Snider led Redskins, who won’t go anywhere with Rex Grossman or John Beck as their QB.
  • Here’s to Sam Bradford rolling onto the field tomorrow at the Ed Dome and handing out justice to the over hyped Eagles.   Let’s hope the Eagles offensive line is still undecided and Chris Long and company run all over them.   Let’s hope the Michael Vick from his late Atlanta days shows up and he starts firing sidearm interceptions.    Can Bradford find lanes for passing in a secondary including Dominick Rogers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asanmaga and Asante Samuel?  It’s like driving a car into a police enforced road block.   Can Steven Jackson pound the Eagles up front and generate the running game?  Will the Rams offensive line keep Bradford on his feet long enough to find tiny Danny Amendola on the slant?  So many questions for the first week and I will say this.  I like this Rams team, fear for their safety anyway and like what Steve Spagnuolo is doing.   May the best team win.   Football is a special game because it’s all about who decides to show up and play great.   One week prep for one game.    Here we go.
  • Now that the Blues listened to me and Blues fans on Backes, can I put in another request?  Save the “we come to win” commercials.  They are as bad as the “playing like a Cardinal” spots and don’t promise a damn thing.  Of course David Backes shows up to win.  What the fuck else is he going to do?
  • Right now I am pretty excited.  Why?  Tomorrow, I am going to get up and go for a decent 6-8 mile run around South City.    I do this because when the games start, the eating and drinking starts for me.  Swing around fun town at Buffa’s.   A quiet way to enjoy football with a pregnant wife is to keep the food coming and the noise at high level so the baby hears it and gets familiar with Sunday rituals.  I don’t just watch the Rams game.  Sunday is an all day event.   12pm games on Fox followed by the 3pm game on CBS, all day coverage on the NFL Network, rolling along with the Sunday night game and ending with Sportscenter highlights.   You literally need a mouthguard and playbook to endure the 10 hours of festivities.  Football days usually involve a big pot of chili(powered by beef, a special sauce, cheese and onions) and a consistent supply of beer.  Human beings shed a piece of themselves on NFL gameday.  We get to play coach, player, ref and part time sponsor all in a day’s work.  We scream, wince and scream some more.  If you don’t understand, you suck and must change the channel back to TLC.
  • Daddy prep is in full gear.  Tonight, I calmly walked into Vinny’s room and turned on every music device we have for this kid.   Rockebye baby to ocean music to simple chimes.  After turning them on(4 devices in all), walk into the middle of the room and just stand there and suck it in.   This is the sound of chaos of being a first time father.  Noise at a new level.  Screams, silent pouts and a general frustration with the human race and the circle of life.   Sure, I will be a great dad but this is only spring training and I am taking my licks early.  Saying you suck at it is the first step to getting better at it.
  • Here’s another rant about the dads I have ran into this year while waiting for my kid to show up.  The negative fucks.  Yeah, the dads who tell you all the shitty things about being a parent entails.   These comments come out of their mouth right after they say its wonderful you are pregnant.   The smile turns into a dreadful my life is over yawn and in comes the negative air.   You won’t sleep again!  I know.  You will lose things and have to change your entire house.  Sure thing, everything except the electrical outlets.  They tell you the kid will shit everywhere, including on your life and sexy time.   This is when I tell them to stop telling me about their life.   Dads who weren’t meant to be dads love the new guys on the job, especially the ones who are excited.  They ask me if I am ready and prep their stream line of laughter when I say yes.  Sometimes, I say I am not ready and am scared shitless but hearing tons of negative advice doesn’t help anyone so shut the fuck up.   Every dad is a self prescribed know it all.   Since they have replaced their cologne cabinet with shit, pee and baby powder, your life must be over as well.  I am sick of it.   These guys need to think before they screw their girlfriends turned pregnant wives.   You run into an asshole like this every week and they tell you the same thing.  Be ready for this and worry about that. I tell them all things will take care of themselves.   There is no daddy to be school.   Becoming a dad is like going to a negotiation table with zero notes.   All one guy can do is hope his kid is healthy and all he has to deal with is shitty diapers.   There will be times where I don’t sleep and hate my kid followed by diaper changes that make me never crave a chocolate shake again and redefine the word, “fall apart brownies”.   I get it fuckers!  Lay off the poor man look.   One guy I will never forget.  This guy carried contempt, sadness and despair all in one greeting.  He didn’t say much and didn’t have to.  His face was like a 500 page book on “shoot me at least three times so the real pain kicks in”.   This guy didn’t want to be a dad and I knew it so we skipped the advice routine.   Here’s the end game.  There is no school for being a dad just like there really is no school for driving or a class for life.  You get thrown into it and survive on sheer will power.   It comes down to effort put in or time spent hiding from responsibility.  Hey men all around the world, read this before you slip it in because you are too lazy to find a condom or fail to understand the word, birth control.  Once you get a woman pregnant and she wants to keep it, the game is started and the biggest challenge of a lifetime is on.  That’s my premature, weightless full of shit free hot air advice for guys thinking about becoming dads.   Understanding how to become a dad before you actually have your kid is like trying to understand women.  When you think you know, you are still less than halfway across the street.  Just go with the flow and fuck safe and assured.  Please, don’t tell dads to be it sucks.   That’s bush league.
  • Song of the Day-The National, “About Today“.  Used in Warrior, these slow building method rockers know how to pack a punch into a single tune.  The crumbling voice of the lead singer walking this redemptive story along its path.  Listen to it twice for full effect.  The lead singer barely sings above a whisper and sets a fire in your soul here.

http://youtu.be/v7T2135xCZQ

  • Here’s why Denis Leary is a man on a mission for firefighters getting their due.  After 9/11, firefighters and other first responders were beloved heroes, but that didn’t help their horribly low pay and post Ground Zero cleanup duty effects on their health.   Leary has donated more than 10 million to firehouses receiving better equipment and technology along with making a television series solely dedicated to their existence. He basically refuses to shut the fuck up about firefighters heroics and won’t stop until they are taken care of.   Here’s an article on it.

http://news.yahoo.com/denis-leary-crusades-for-firefighters-after-9-11-loss.html

  • Here’s one more piece of advice from me.   I don’t like to dish it out too often because you have to walk a fine line between helping someone and harmfully preaching a person’s head off.  Today, after you wake up and pull it together, do yourself a favor and call a family member, loved one or good friend.   If you don’t want to or severed ties long ago, make the call anyway.   You only get one blood family in this life and hatred included or not they are your family and you have to keep in touch.   Life was never meant to be easy but family pulls you through the shitty eras of our lives.  Call them and tell them how valued they are in your life.  You can even mix it into a routine checkup call so you don’t feel weird.   On a day where nearly 3,000 innocent people died, this is required duty.   So many people died that day before their time and before they got to see something important to someone close to them.   We simply don’t express ourselves enough people.   It’s the truth and I see it every day.   A separation or isolation.   That’s just not living.   Instead of playing it safe, rescue yourself and call someone today.   Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Call a brother or sister.   A simple way to honor the dead on 9/11 is to keep in touch with the living.   Do it while you can.  Before your time is up.   Do the right thing today because tomorrow might not even exist.  That’s all I got.

Thanks for reading as always and entering my theraputic experience here.  I write to clear out the noise in my head and keep things quiet in my mind.  As I take care of that, I also inform you of my opinion.  All this is here is a circle of information and resolution.   Good conversation is needed in this world.  The good old fashioned journalism war room back and forth fire talks that leave two friends or combated souls tired but feeling they just learned something about themselves and someone else. Enlightenment is a tricky experience that’s worth your time.   Hopefully, my words here get you talking.  If not, I failed at my job as the voice of the people.

So long and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

 

Midnight Talk

Greetings,

A man sits down at a computer desk and stares into the screen.   He is tired yet willing and a tad needy.  There are things inside his head that require exporting before he can rest his eyes.   As he settles his hands onto the keyboard, the screen asks him, “what do you got, tonight?”  The man is bringing the action.   Action of a kind that only a writer can bring.   The earliest form of writing happened when men and women sat down in parks and expressed themselves in words.  In this modern age, the computer is our vessel for releasing tension built up in the mind and body.   The man tells the computer there is a toll to pay.  If he doesn’t write, he fails and remains boddled up like a cage animal.  The computer requests the animal to be unchained and released, if only for a short while.   The man could write for days if given the time, but quality never runs as far as quantity in this game so time is cut short for a reason.   After a brief pause, the man places his hands onto the keyboard and starts to type.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a few things to tell you tonight and I will run down the list randomly with direct action.   Politicians lie, thiefs steal, runners don’t like to walk, singers need a mic and writers only need a little time to compose a thought.   Lets roll into a little dialogue as the MU Tigers tie Arizona with a late touchdown.

*The MU Tigers will put together a decent record but don’t expect a huge bowl game or serious impact.  Jimmy Franklin has weapons and time to grow into the quarterback position in Columbia, but he is no Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert. The kid carries the #1 on his jersey but he will encounter serious trouble.  His throwing is marginal and his legs only take him so far.  T.J. Moe is a NFL ready receiver and will put up fine numbers but hold your expectations on this team.   They are tied at 30 with 3 minutes to go and Arizona State is driving down the field as I type.  In a few moments, the Tigers may be 1-1 on the season, so hedge your bets somewhere else and watch this team rebuild under Gary Pinkel again.

*The Cardinals score a huge come from behind win tonight against the Atlanta Braves, and cut the wild card deficit to 6.5 games heading into tomorrow evening’s game.   A game big in many small ways.  The first come from behind win for the Cards since early July, when Tony Cruz sent us home at Busch against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Down 3-1 in the 9th inning, Albert Pujols came to the plate and once again established himself as one of the best late inning clutch bats in the game.   After grounding into his 29th double play ball in the 8th inning, Pujols arrived in the ninth with the bases loaded and 2 outs.   On the second pitch, he drilled a hit down the right field line and tied the game. Pujols delivered in the clutch, like he has been doing for 11 seasons.   At the core of Pujols, he is a team player who does anything to help his team win.   With his batting average at .298 and 87 RBI, Pujols is directing all his power towards these final 18 games.   Soon enough, his bat and glove is put down and he will engage in contract talks that may decide the rest of his baseball career.   Let’s enjoy his final 3 weeks here whether it’s his final days in red or not.   Tonight was an old fashioned treat.  More details on the game.

*Jason Motte pitches a 12 pitch 10th inning, blazing through the heart of the Braves order.   Motte carved up Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Freddy Freeman to send the Cards to the bottom half.   He now carries a 1.67 ERA and has only allowed 1 run since June 24th.  Brilliant work for Motte, who is making every possible statement to close in 2012.  With his team falling out of the race and wavering at the contention line, Motte has stepped up and put together a streak for the ages.  A big moment for the kid who was catching for Memphis 4 years ago.   Motte is the Cardinals first pure red gunslinger in years.  Appreciate his work.

*Edwin Jackson is doing everything the Cardinals asked him to do when he came over in a trade from Chicago on July 27th.   In 9 starts, Jackson has produced a quality start in 7 of them.   He has pitched 6 or more innings and only allowed 2 or less runs.  Quality starts are legit folks.   They keep a team in a game.  Jackson is a strikeout pitcher learning to pitch here in St. Louis and putting together a consistent streak of reliability.   A serious candidate for the team to consider bringing back if the finances are there.

*Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is lights out, except when he faces the Cardinals.   In April, Kimbrel blew a save and lost a decision on back to back days.   Before giving up Pujols’ 2 run single, Kimbrel had put together a Motte like streak, not allowing a single run since June 11th and striking out 67 batters.   He carried 39 saves and hadn’t blown a save in 3 months.  Friday’s blown save was Kimbrel’s first in his last 26 chances.  The Cardinals are Kimbrel’s poison pill.  How many times does a team defeat a great closer 3 times in a season.   Kimbrel cuts up the Phillies, Giants, and Brewers.   The Cardinals have his number and this spells trouble for the Braves in the final 2 games.

*For those of you rooting for the Brewers to lose in Philidephia this weekend, remember one thing.  Next week, the Cardinals travel there for 4 games and will face Roy Halladay and/or Cliff Lee along with the rest of the rotation and the fiercest lineup in the NL.   Cheer now, but forever hold your peace.

*Jon Jay is hitting .307 while Colby Rasmus is on the DL hitting .239 with 2 HR and 8 RBI with the Blue Jays.   With Brian Tallet and Trevor Miller released, Rasmus is the key piece in the deal and he flunked this season away.   Jackson, Marc Rzepcynski and Octavio Dotel have helped the Cards win games.   Jay rebounded from a slump and is thriving again.   This is 2 seasons in a row that Jay has played a ton of games and hitting around .300 at the end of the season.   Ladies and gents, he no longer is a 4th outfielder for this team.  He is a starting center fielder.  He offers you more now than Rasmus and I’ll take my bets on him producing more next year as well.   A highly scrutinized trade at the time looks aces for the Redbirds right now regardless if they make the playoffs or not.

*Lance Berkman collected 3 hits last night and also made a run saving catch in the first inning.   Before the year, Berkman’s defense in right field was supposed to be a liability.  After watching him in over 140 games, I can tell you the guy plays a solid right field.  Without a great arm or young legs, Berkman does the little things right.  He cuts off balls headed to the corner, gets the ball back in quick and can make the occasional great running catch.  He misjudges certain hits, but so does every single outfielder in the major leagues.   Berkman has been a slightly above average right fielder and that’s a pleasant surprise for a guy picked to only participate in 120 games.

*The MU Tigers lose 37-30 in Overtime after missing out on an opportunity for a late field goal.  A 48 yard miss by the MU kicker sent the game into overtime where Arizona State took it home.

*Rescue Me note.   One of the things Denis Leary and Peter Tolan did very well was confront 9/11 head on in the right ways.   The characters talked about it all the time, dissected its affect and let it have a dramatic effect on their work and personal lives.   It wasn’t brought up in familiar fashion yet instead bluntly confronted.  A firechief talking about the useless need for a memorial for the fallen first responders and instead needing to remember their deeds and actions.   A firefighter talking about conspiracy.   Tommy Gavin challenging bar dwellers to a 9/11 style name selection.   Creatively and assertively, Leary and Tolan confronted the aftershocks of 9/11 in a way no documentary or series can.   They were the first responders to the creative bay of dissecting and explaining 9/11’s aftermath.

*The Blues name David Backes captain a day after 20,000 Blues fans request the move.   This was the best move of the offseason.   Any sports team is like any company or corporation.  Infrastructure is required.   A leader with his assistants at his side.  Backes is the 20th Blues Captain in franchise history and his alternates are Barrett Jackman, Alex Steen, Jamie Langenbrunner and Andy McDonald.  A solid move by the franchise that sets up the preseason opener on September 20th.  I’m excited to see what this team has in store for us.

*The Rams have a solid chance to win on Sunday but please don’t consider the Eagles a push over folks.   Michael Vick and his receiving corps and defensive upgrades will create plenty of trouble for this young Rams team.   Both the leaders on the Rams, Sam Bradford and James Lauranitis, will face challenges of every kind on Sunday.   Can Bradford find receivers in the strong Eagles secondary?  Can Lauranitis keep Vick in check?  It’s going to be a battle and while the Eagles aren’t a dream team, they are a tough group.   I’m hearing around town that this game is in the bag and whoever says that is a fucking moron.  I’ve followed and loved this team since they landed in 1995 in St. Louis, but I also love honesty.  I want the Rams to go 15-1 this season, but my realistic guess is 9-7.   That is enough to win the NFC West.  However, the Rams will have to improve on the road, a place they didn’t fare too well in 2010.   Aside from their triumph in Denver, the Rams had trouble figuring out teams outside the Ed Dome.  Terrible defeats in Tampa, San Francisco and Detroit broke this team last season.  Have the Rams made the necessary changes to get to the next level?  On Sunday, we find out what this team is really made of.   Preseason wins are meaningless.  The truth is required to fully appreciate a team’s success.

*Sam Bradford will face the pressure of being a known commodity.  Can he handle it?  Yes he can.  He will be able to adapt because he is a smart grounded kid who knows how to use his teammates.   He doesn’t accept decent performances and has the burning desire to win inside him.   The NFL knows about him now and will bring the pressure.  Ray Lewis, James Harrison and A.J. Hawk are licking their chops right now.

*The Cards have lacked a lot of late inning comebacks….in the second half of the season.   Friday’s thrilling win was their 10th come from behind win of the season.   In June, this team went flat.

*I am entering the twilight zone otherwise known as the final week of time before the projected birth date for my kid Vinny.   Today is September 10th, and the projected date was September 18th.   Soon enough, we are on a literaly anytime basis.   As I write this, I am getting short of breath and becoming lightheaded.  Like someone just flipped over my pair of aces in the middle of the reveal of the bridge in a texas hold’ em tournament.   Everything is on the table now.   At any moment, my life can change.  Labor can begin any moment now.

*If you want a different look back at 9/11, consider 9/11:The Days After on the History Channel.  It airs tonight at 630pm and on Sunday evening.   Without narration, the footage is raw looks from amateur photographers and local TV crews.  Firefighters and police organizing rescue efforts or just pausing to come undone for a moment.   People offering blood, sweat and any form of help.   Search efforts.   Phone calls and messages on radio shows from people calling around the Towers as they were hit.   While we all know the story and seen the documentaries, this is a different look.   A brutally raw portrait of an American tragedy.   Give it a look.

*Lincoln Lawyer, the 3rd time.   A great movie and still my pick for the best movie of the past year.  Matthew McCoughnahey is so good as Mickey Haller, the go for broke suit who represents the roughest and toughest souls in LA and does his work like a slick snake out of the back seat of a Lincoln town car from the 1970s.  The cast is strong and the direction is assured.   The real thrill of this film is the unfolding of the detective story at the heart.  A man charged with assault and battery claiming he is innocent but carrying a scent of mischief.  After an early reveal, the film doesn’t skip a beat because of the strong story and the satisfying conclusion.   A good time at the movies.   MM is the blend of movie star and actor that is long been underappreciated in Hollywood.   Akin to Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, McCoughnahey can act and is silky smooth in the role Haller here.   Rent this film TODAY.

*Music Selection of the Day-Lincoln Lawyer Soundtrack pull here.  Like the film, a smooth blues funk track that goes down just right and satisfies the music craving soul.

Marlena Shaw featuring Ya Boy-“California Soul”

http://youtu.be/Va2FPxo8WXc

That is the end of my round of ammo tonight.   Thanks for coming and reading.  I appreciate each click and set of eyes that I can get.   I do this for my own ease and don’t expect a response but appreciate every reply.   My work here is done, so I am retiring for the night.

Coming Soon…

-A Live Daddy Blog

-Warrior Film Review

-Cards weekend wrap up

-Entourage Finale Review

-More Rescue Me Notes

-A Gift Package in the form of Ari Gold clips, George Carlin advice and a solid article about Flight 93.

 

Until then, take care of yourself and keep your opinion relevant.

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

 

 

The Buffa Dispatch

Let’s throw another clip into the Buffa gun and just start firing.  The latest news and insight begins in an unfortunately familiar arena.  The home of tragedy and despair.   Before anything gets discussed here, I must address the Russia plane crash that claimed the life of 43 hockey players and coaches and goes down as the worst aviation sports casualty of all time.

“Live for today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.”-Chris McHugh

A sad and tragic offseason for hockey continued Wednesday morning when a charter plane carrying KHL Russian hockey league team Lokomotiv crashed shortly after takeoff into a riverbank and tower.  43 men on board perished in the crash, including former NHL players.   The most notable name in the list is Pavol Demitra, a former Blue, Slovakian captain and personal fan favorite here in St. Louis for many seasons.    Demitra was 37 years old and had a wife and kids.   Other NHL players included Ruslan Selei and Alexander Karpestev.   A haunting tragedy that lingered for the entire afternoon yesterday.   That’s the horrible ingredient of sudden death in life.   You instantly find out how important breathing is and how every day is a gift and not a privilege.  This horrible tragedy was the latest blow for a sport that has taken a beating in recent months.   Three NHL players died of sudden causes, including Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak.   I can’t stop thinking about the toll this crash is taking on the families.   Demitra’s family as well as other members of the team.  A team official released this statement on the website, “At first we didn’t want to believe it.  Now all hope is lost.  Our team is gone.”   Imagine one of the players leaving their home yesterday morning, meeting at the airport miles outside of Moscow and thinking it was going to be another routine flight.  How many flights had the players been on in their lives?  Hundreds of takeoffs and landings.  Death is a cruel reminder of the ticking clock that exists right next to our heads every waking minute.   This horrible loss is the worst single blow to a sport since The Marshall college football team crashed shortly after a win 30 years ago.   The saddest day in hockey history for sure.  Whether or not it affected every fan, this bruise spreads throughout the entire league because of the different countries affected.   The plane carried players from Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Canada and Switzerland as well as the United States.   A brutal offseason.   A drug overdose, two apparent suicides and a deadly plane crash have affected the world of hockey in 2011.  Hopefully, this is the last punch this sport takes.

Rescue Me Series Finale-Rescue Me ended its 7 year run in brutal reliable fashion. A fitting tribute to firefighters and a well blended cocktail of irish whiskey dark humor and blunt drama worked into a symphony of chaos.  Denis Leary’s epicly devilish ode to the lives of firefighters went out with a quiet bang last night, and ended the series on its own terms.  *SPOILER ALERT*As in, the last episode wasn’t washed in sappy melodramatic sentiment and overreaching emotion.   It was cold, hard and to the point the show has drilled into our heads for 7 years.  After the huge fire that put the whole crew in jeopardy at the end of last week’s episode, the finale kicks off with a dream sequence involving a church, bag pipes and a tearful speech.  Tommy wakes up afterwards to remember he is alive and another is no longer breathing, a painful realization that hits the head immediately after you decipher the dream.   What follows are storylines patched up and new beginnings being crafted.  Leary and Peter Tolan don’t let us go without their moments of dark humor(a wake with ash spreading mixed with cake mix) and tough silent moments(Tommy discovering a body, reading a letter to his crew).  They don’t pound us with stories but instead slowly bring several different bits to the finish line and wrap the series up right where it began.  Will Tommy retire or stay on?  What happens to the rest of the crew?  Right when the creators tip toe around a familiar area, they retreat and set off an explosion before they tear open a new wound.   Tommy standing in front of the 343 names shaped like an American Flag honoring the souls who perished in 9/11 and giving a speech to the new recruits.  Instead of soaking the moment with a fake touch, Tommy speaks rather bluntly.  ““This ain’t a job. It ain’t an occupation. It’s a calling, a need, a desire that you feel in your bones and your brains and your nutsack.”   If Rescue Me failed at anything, it failed to conform to other television series norms.  Leary and Tolan had zero interest in making something familiar and flat.  Every effort was made to ensure we didn’t just honor the fallen heroes at 9/11 but the men and women who run into burning buildings on a daily basis.  The finale had a piece of every great quality.  The biting darkly ironic humor.  The poignant restrained drama.  Great acting from it’s all star cast including Leary, John Scurti, Daniel Sunjata, Steve Pasquale, Mike Lombardi, Larenz Tate, Robert Burke, Lenny Clarke and its two lovely ladies, Callie Thorne and Andrea Roth.  While Tommy was the center of attention, every actor had a chance to shine here and take their swings.  Rescue Me was real, hard hitting, powerful consistent entertainment that left a dent in your stomach if you cared to stay awhile in it’s wild unsteady world of anti heroes.

Where does Rescue Me rank all time on my list?  It is my favorite TV series of all time.  Those are big words from a man who has watched many series over the years, but I have reasons and will lay them out as the words roll on.   While this will simply function as an opening of the RM series recap, cement will be laid on opinion here.   Rescue Me is the best to me because unlike The Sopranos, it was consistently brutal and unpredictable in it’s storylines and characters.   Also, RM carried a more fitting poignant ending than Sopranos, the other contender for my favorite series.   A certain amount of space was left open here, but the 62 Truck Firehouse got closure and started a new chapter with its final 80 minutes.  The great thing about Rescue Me is it’s willingless to push its characters to the limit.  They do and say the most horrible things, commit errors and show flaws but the acting carries out the mission every time.  Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin is the raging bruised moral center, and he hit every obstacle a hero with survivor’s guilt could hit.  RM doesn’t play it safe and never gets sentimental.  It constantly delivers direct doses of dark humor inflicted drama.  This series was limitless.  Men and women acting on realistic intentions yet fueled by dark histories.  Since football is in the air, allow me to use a couple analogies.  Rescue Me is the quarterback that scrambles around in the pocket looking for the riskiest throw.  Instead of kicking field goals for a couple seasons, RM pounds the running game down your throat with a confidence that doesn’t break.  Leary gave himself the darkest, trickiest role of a lifetime and gave an Emmy worthy performance.  His bigger achievement was resisting the urge to conform to regular TV rules.  How is all of this better than HBO and Showtime’s stellar lineups?  Look at the all together success of Rescue Me in establishing a story line, taking the characters to the limit, staying unpredictable and resisting sentimental urges while banging out scenes full of tears of joy and laughter.  It was more powerful and consistent than Sopranos, as edgy and daring as Dexter, and didn’t skip a beat while ending on it’s own terms.  This won’t be the last you hear from me about this series, but for now it will due.

Cardinals School of Economics

After failing over the weekend to gain ground, the Cardinals win their last series with the Brewers at Busch and stand 8.5 games out of first place while only 6.5 games out of the wildcard opening up today.  For the reachers, I’ll confirm some things here  Are we mathematically alive?  Yes.  Is it realistic to catch the Braves?  I’ll tell you on Monday.   Are the Brewers untouchable?  Baring a monumental collapse with 19 games left, yes the division is wrapped up.   The Cardinals are a tragic team for letting fans down this season, failing to sustain winning streak and enduring painful defeats.  It isn’t a strong move to reserve emotional stock in their comeback, so it’s best to stand off to the side and watch baseball and see what happens.   An example.  After coming home from a sweep last week, the Cardinals started the homestand off by losing 4 of 5 and falling back to 10.5 games out of first place.   Right when the interest level spiked, they let us down AGAIN.  In a matter of 5 games, the Cards show their true colors.  Now, they enter a series with the Braves(who play 2 games today before coming to St. Louis) only 6.5 games back.   The interest level is up again, only because this team refuses to die at 76-67.  The Cardinals honestly must go at least 16-3 the rest of the way to hold a single ounce of hope when the season ends.   After playing 3 with the Braves, the Phillies host us for 4 games next weekend.  Things won’t get easier for this team.   Remember, the team did this to themselves, using their own shovels and inconsistent play.  Let’s run down some notes on the club to better point out problems and bright spots.  First, what happened against Milwaukee the past 2 days to bring us a win?

Tuesday Recap-Kyle Lohse pitches 6 solid innings, Berkman gets two key base hits, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday crank homers late to get the Cards a 4-2 win.  Lohse outduels Yovani Gallardo, who gets battered by the Cards again to put his record against us at 1-7.  Gallardo gave up two home runs in an inning for the third time in three weeks to the Cardinals.  The most important part of the game came in the 9th inning, when Jason Motte gave up 3 hits and hung on for the save.  Tony La Russa’s reluctance to pull Motte was his best move in weeks.   With the hopes barely clinging to life and the Brewers threatening, Motte was in trouble but fulfilled a role he has perfected this season.   Escape danger.  Motte earned his 3rd save.  Cards win.

*Kyle Lohse is 13-8 with a 3.39 ERA this season, quietly holding the best numbers in the rotation.  After a great start and tough two months, Lohse is pitching better and winning again.  Lohse is a frustrating pitcher who prolongs starts, gives up baserunners and gives up big innings.   However, his success is a rebound season from his last two years and sets him up for a walk year explosion in 2012.  While I’d like to see him traded, his performance on par with the rest of the rotation can’t be lost.  I still hate guys named Kyle.

 

*Jason Motte finally allowed an earned run Tuesday night yet stuck in for the save. Facing the top of the Brewers order, Motte gave up 3 singles yet induceda key double play and escaped. While inherited runners allowed is the key statfor a reliever, one can’t totally dismiss ERA. Motte didn’t allow an earned run from June 23rd to September 6th, covering close to 30 innings. Keep in mind he
pitched in many tough tight spots and had to find his way out of trouble. When compared to other relievers, Motte’s feat is solid. Look at Kyle McClellan. He comes into two games over the weekend and gives up a big home run. A reliever’s job is to put out a fire or maintain the current score. Motte did that
perfectly for 2.5 months while the rest of the bullpen was a trainwreck. TLR was right to stick with him and Motte got the job done. He also fooled two hitters on his 88 mph slider, which is improving. I like this kid.

Wednesday Recap-Chris Carpenter put on an economics class and shut the Brewers down.  A night to put the resolve of Chris Carpenter on display.  After struggling against Milwaukee all season, Carpenter put on a clinic.  99 pitches, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, and zero runs.  In a mixed bag of a season for the Ace, Carpenter righted the ship after two letdown starts.   Working with two runs of support, Carpenter cut up the toughest lineup in the National League.

*Nyjer Morgan is a pest and a trouble maker.  Plain and simple.  Any attempt to defend this fuckstick will be dealt with appropriately on this front.  Let me explain his latest stunt.   After striking out in the 9th inning, Morgan cursed at Carpenter and tossed his tobacco towards the mound, causing Albert Pujols to come at him and empty the benches.  Don’t tell me Morgan is a guy who is enjoying the game.  Brandon Phillips enjoys himself and likes to get the tempers flaring but he doesn’t act like Morgan on a baseball field.  Morgan’s antics sour the performance of a team with a commanding 8.5 game lead.  Play the clip of Morgan causing trouble to little league players and tell them this isn’t how a major league baseball player acts.  Carpenter didn’t say a thing towards Morgan, struck him out and blew a gasket.  It was all a big effort to get into Carp’s head and it was too late.  Getting caught up in the emotions of a game and making plays has nothing to do with looking like a fool.  Don’t forget that Morgan ran his mouth towards Carp in spring training, causing a bench clearing dispute.  Last season, he ran across the plate and threw an elbow into Cards backup catcher Matt Anderson.  Morgan isn’t having fun.   He is crossing the line and needs to be thrown back into his original sport(played college hockey with Barrett Jackman) and get his ass kicked.   The unfortunate aspect of baseball is there isn’t justice on a baseball field.  Just a crowd of men pushing and shouting.  In hockey, the gloves are dropped and the proper action is taken.  Here’s to Morgan pissing off a UFC fighter soon.

*Whether the Cards are mathematically eliminated or not, I will continue to watch.  As long as it’s warm outside, baseball is the sport to watch.   It’s an uncontrollable desire to stay connected to a sport that hasn’t been broken since childhood when it originated.  Until the fire trucks arrive, I stay on the burning ship.  A metaphor many hardcore fans know well.

The Albert Pujols/Cardinals Contract Talks heat up again soon.  USA Today and Sports Illustrated weighed in this week.  Pujols played the usual card and said he hopes to stay here(good), has no control(wrong) and will see what happens.   USA TODAY reports Pujols’ camp wanted 10 years at 23 million per year and the Cards offered 9 years at 22 million.   To me, this is low for both sides.  After getting a bite from a Rant List Member Mark Stangl today, here are my thoughts.

*I would give AP 6-7 years at 25 million per Mark.  If anyone deserves a golden ride Wilmer, its Albert.  He deserves market value and a solid deal.  If the Cards didn’t want to pay Pujols 25 million a year, they waited too long to work this out.   Once Ryan Howard signed for 25 per, the Cards had to pay more because the market went up.  I don’t want to give any player 9 or 10 years.  That’s too long.  However, Pujols deserves a great deal. He has played for 13 million(3 million deferred) for 6 seasons.  His performance(even this season) has reached or heavily eclipsed that salary.
*The one thing I don’t agree with is Albert saying he has no control.  He has complete control.   Questions?  Does he want to change his life and leave his kingdom?  Does he want to move mid-career?  I don’t think so but u never know. Pujols has full control.  He makes the call.  He is the commodity and the result.
*The Cardinals missed a chance to lock up Albert when they signed Matt Holliday.  They gave Holliday(younger) 8 yrs at 17 million per season.  With Pujols’ production, they have to at least give Albert 6-7 years at Howards rate.  If they locked up AP at that time, before Howards game changing deal, the price would be lower.  I liked the Holliday deal but I’d like to see Pujols locked up at the same time to set in stone this match made in pitcher killing heaven.  The Cards waited awhile to talk money with AP and may pay in price.

That’s the situation.  Pujols having control but the Cards needing to open up the vault here.  What happens?  A 7 year deal that starts around 27-28 per year for 2-3 seasons and the annual value dropping around year 4 or 5.   Both sides benefit there.   Remember this.  If the Cards gave Holliday a long ride, they must lock up Albert.   Its going to be 23-27 million per season.   Market value.  Like I said, the dispute between a difference of one year and 2 million is ridiculous on both sides.   However, Albert Pujols is a piece of gold Mark so u don’t want to let it go.   The Cards knew this day was coming so hopefully money is ready.   The Cards sport a 110 million dollar payroll but generate close to 300 million every season in overall merchandise, TV and Radio income and attendance.  My answer-Pujols listens and Cards pay up.  Get it done quick.

That’s my take.

The Official Return of Football starts tonight with the Green Bay Packers opening up their title defense against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.   Aaron Rodgers against Drew Brees in a classic example of how the NFL is a quarterback powered league.   This is going to be an explosive game that features tons of yards, touchdowns, and huge plays.  Rodgers and Brees are 3 step drop bombers and carry a fleet of weapons.  In an ironic way, this game will come down to a battle of secondaries.  My pick is the Packers.  They are deep, solid on both sides of the ball, carry the best QB in football and are completely healthy.  When they won the Super Bowl in February, they weren’t healthy.  They had 7 Week 1 starters miss significant time in 2010.   They missed two key defensive pieces and didn’t have a legit running back in Ryan Grant behind the line.  The Saints are loaded and furious coming off the playoff upset to the Seahawks.  As long as Drew Brees is playing quarterback and Gregg Williams is working his blitz packages at defensive coordinator, the Saints are going to be tough.   The Packers, though, have the tougher all around defense, the sharper QB in Rodgers and the home field advantage.  Tonight, outside in cold Wisconsin, the Packers will win 31-27.

Rams-Eagles Preview-3 Keys to the Game

1.Sam Bradford against the Eagles secondary.   If Sam can’t find holes in this all star secondary powered by Nmandi Asmongna, the Rams offense is doomed.  The secondary puts pressure on Bradford, which hurts the run.  It’s a trickle down offense that is running up against a Pro Bowl defense.  Antonio Cromartie and Nnamdi will create complexities and disruption for Bradford.  A huge test for the rookie will come in his ability to audible, check down and limit his mistakes.

2. The Rams defense against Michael Vick and his fleet of receivers.   The whole attack centers around putting pressure on Vick and forcing him to make mistakes and leave the game with an injury.  Vick is quick and talented, but he is brittle.  If Chris Long and James Hall throw a body into Vick and mess up his timing, good things happen.  If not, Vick runs wild, throws deep bombs to Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis all day long and this game turns into a route.  While I won’t claim the Eagles as Super Bowl bound, they are deep in scoring attacks and will challenge a defense to make plays.   Vick isn’t a guaranteed repeat for MVP performance, but he will take advantage of an average secondary if he has the chance.  The Rams secondary has to make plays, get contact up front with Jackson and Maclin, and hinge on the defensive line moving Vick into their zones of trap.

3. The Rams running backs attacking a weak Eagles linebacking and defensive line crew.   Steven Jackson, Cadillac Williams and Jerius Norwood have to push the Eagles back, gain the tough yards, wear down the front 7 and open up space for the receivers.  The Eagles will stack 8 in the box at first and force Bradford to beat them deep.   A strategy that works well unless the trio of backs starts to break up the linebackers and force help to come down in the safety.   Hit the Eagles where they are weak and ram the ball down their throat.  Get Jackson 10 carries in the first quarter and start to mix in Williams and Norwood.  There is depth at this position so take advantage.

The Rams have a tough first 6 games.   Playing the Giants, Ravens, Cowboys, Packers and Redskins after the Eagles lines the Rams up for a make or break run.  However, this team wins 2-3 games in this bunch and we are doing just fine.  After the first 6 games, the Rams play within the division 6 out of the next 8 weeks and have a chance to make up ground.  Unless the Cardinals and Seahawks play above their potential, the division will be wide open in mid season.   A tough first part is good because we get to see what the Rams are made of and how real they are after a solid preseason.   The middle part of the schedule is the breathing room in 2011 and if the Rams make it there 3-3, their chances for playoff activity are very good.   The ride begins this Sunday.

NFL Topics-

Peyton Manning is done folks.   Today, Peyton Manning underwent his third surgery in the past year on his neck, as a cervical neck fusion was performed this morning.   An invasive procedure that requires 2-3 months of rehab places Manning’s season in serious jeopardy.  We are talking about football players here.  Football requires a player to go through an entire rehab because of the severe contact in the sport.  To me, this kills the Colts chances for a quality season.   The creeping suspicion since May that Peyton was in worse shape than most wanted to think has come full circle.   This Sunday, a different QB will stand behind center for the Colts for the first time since 1997.   Manning’s 227 straight starts are the most since Brett Favre’s unbreakable streak.   That ended yesterday when he was officially put down for a week.  After several meetings with doctors around the country, Peyton is going to miss serious time for the first time in his career.   How long will his body take to recover?  Take Peyton off the team and you have a broke ship.   Imagine taking Joe Montana off the 49ers and think about how many trophies Bill Walsh’s San Fran destructive squad has?  Peyton Manning is indespensible to this team.  He makes also ran receivers like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie Pro Bowl potential catchers.   He is everything.  Think about it.  What does Manning do before every snap?  He walks up the huddle, examines the defense and calls an audible.  While some calls are pure bluffs, Manning is running the field like a computer system.  Ask teammates and coaches and he has full rein over the plays that get called.  He is the captain of the ship.  He is the most valuable player in the league to his team.  He is indespensible to the Colts.  That doesn’t make him the best QB in the league. He is the most valuable to his team.   When Tom Brady missed a full season two years ago, Matt Cassel came in and took the Patriots to a 11-5 record.   Kerry Collins, 39 years old and retired last month, can’t walk into Peyton’s cathedral(and yes its a church of football knowledge) and turn in 11 wins.  It won’t happen.  The Colts will be lucky to win 8 games if Peyton misses more than 6 games.  Under Manning, The Colts were going to get 10 wins.   Under Collins, they won’t win more than 8 games.   Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai all shined under Manning.  How good are they on their own?  We will see.  Same goes for the Colts.  Good luck.  This is a huge blow.  It’s everything the Colts fanbase worried about all summer.  What’s wrong with Peyton?  Take Albert off the Cardinals for 4 months and see how well they do.

-Ndamukong Suh and James Harrison are the fiercest most feared and destructive defensive players in football.  These are two guys quarterbacks, receivers and running backs do not want to run into.   Suh may be fined 100,000 dollars by Christmas but he isn’t a dirty football player.  He is a real old school hitter.   Same goes for Harrison, who isn’t a dirty player.  Harrison and Suh hit every player the same.   They are bone crunching football players and the most feared.   My picks for defensive player of the year candidates.

-Will Tony Romo ever leave Chokeville and take hold of the Dallas Cowboys and make them his team and lead them to the promise land?  Ever since he fumbled the snap in the playoffs, Romo hasn’t performed well, crashing and burning in the playoffs, and getting hurt last year.   Romo is full of talent and carries even more potential.   He is a stat king when he is on, but his attitude needs to be strengthened.  Coming off a serious injury, Romo has to adjust his attitude and lead the criminally clown class in Dallas back to the win column or forever be known as a talented QB who couldn’t cut it in Jones dome.

-Super Bowl Pick Before Any Football Action.   A rematch of last year’s Super Bowl.  Green Bay against Pittsburgh.   That’s all.  Respond and I will give more.

Blues Hockey Clips

As the season nears and the roster forms and this team comes together here are some quick takes on familiar topics.   This may sound repeatable from my side but until moves are made, they can be brought up and discussed.  Lets get to it.

-The acquisitions of Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott are the biggest moves of the offseason and a head turner.   Scott Nichol and Kent Huskins can impress me all they want but bringing in Stanley Cup Champions who still have years left and can instantly beef up the 3rd-4th line is huge for a team that entered last year with an average age of 28 years old.   Langenbrunner and Arnott are old hands but they can both score points and are moving into supporting roles in this system loaded with young talent like David Backes, Chris Stewart, Tj Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo and Andy McDonald.   These two are hardnosed offensive players who can also play fine defense.  They bring years of experience and a fearless attitude.  Experience is the gain here.

-Jaroslav Halak is the X-Factor here.   Last season, when Halak went down, the Blues went into free fall and their two backups, Ty Conklin and Ben Bishop, performed horribly.   The loss of Halak was the last injury cut this team could handle and it broke their season.   Halak returned and played well but needs to produce over an entire season because this team isn’t stacked enough to shoulder average goaltending. Halak was brought in as the young savior.  His first year was a mixed bag.  What happens in Year #2?  It doesn’t take a passionate Blues fan like myself(followed them from age 8) to tell you the playoff chances  hinge on Halak.

-Give David Backes the captain patch.   Do it now.  Let’s not slice it up into 3 alternate captains.  How many teams with 3 ALTERNATE captains win the Stanley Cup?  Not many folks.   Backes embodies everything a team needs in a captain.  On ice presence, a brutal edge to his play, an ability to make a game changing score, hit or pass.   Backes waited for this responsibility.  Give it to him.   Tell me all day about Barrett Jackman’s leadership and I will tell you he is the other teams best scorer at times.   Pietro is too young to take the captain job.  He deserves an “A”.   Oshie is a favorite among fans, but also with the local pubs who serve him lots of alcohol.   “Furnace Face” is a good player but needs to mature.  Backes is the man in my opinion.  Annoit him.  Hey, just for kicks, he takes care of dogs.

-Ryan Reaves needs to share time with Bj Crombeen because every team needs an enforcer out there.   Someone who can be called on to get off the bench, hit the ice, and serve justice.   Reaves is a solid 4th line player.  He can handle the puck and make a play but he is a young talented fighter who made a claim to the throne last season and made it easy to release Cam Janssen.  Crombeen can kill penalties and score goals but so can the first 3 lines.  The 4th line is an aggressive pressing line that needs to employ a tough guy.   Reaves needs to play.

-Tj Oshie is at a crossroads.  A contract delay led to one thing for a Oshie. A wakeup call from the team. asking him to step up and show what he can do.   Oshie wanted a 3 year deal but the Blues offered 1 and told him to put up the numbers to claim the longer contract.  A challenge from talented GM Doug Armstrong, who showed a Mozelaik like flare to bring in the right talent for the right price.  Oshie is a versatile threat but can he stay healthy and give the 100 percent effort all year long?  This is a big year for Oshie.

Ready or not, The Blues season is right around the corner and there’s more hope this year with the growing maturity of the younger players, the additions of the vets and the second year of Halak.   Is this the year?  That’s a question for later but I will say the Blues will be an entertaining team to watch and will challenge for one of the 8 spots in the Western Conference.

The Music Pick of The Day

Alison Mosshart-What a Wonderful World

Mosshart is the voice of the Kills and The Dead Weather.  A gothic Queen with the pipes, look and skill level to take a classic from Louis Armstrong and put her own spin on it.  A slow moving burner used in Sons of Anarchy’s Season 4 Premiere on Wednesday, Mosshart makes the song her own here.

http://youtu.be/PsWXE6Itvms

Movies Blitz

Warrior-Film to See This Weekend

I know when there is a film for me to see when I heavily anticipate the reviews on it from my select group of critics.  Warrior is a film I have waited for since Tom Hardy announced he was taking the role of a MMA fighter named Tommy who trains for a tournament only to find out his brother awaits him in the ring for the championship.   Joel Edgerton co-stars with Hardy in this heartfelt film from Gavin O’Connor, who directs from the chest every time he steps behind a camera.   A film about two brothers getting involved in a brutal sport to balance out the chaos in their lives.   Count me in for the first time in 40 days.

Also, Contagion, released this weekend-A Steven Soderbergh dream cast about a airborne virus contracted through germs that turns the world into a sea of victims and every moment into a fear induced coma.   Matt Damon, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Gweyth Paltrow flood the cast but the only drawback here is the plot involving a virus and a good idea of how it ends.   Familiar plot, great cast and director collide with a fine idea but make this the second choice.

Television Opening Act-

The Return of Sons of Anarchy.   The 4th season finds the brotherhood just released from jail after a 14 month stint for gun running.   Jax(Charles Hunman) comes out wanting to find a way out of the club.   Clay(the steely presence, Ron Perlman) is wearing down and his hands are getting worse with severe arthritis.   The rest of the gang is intact and the gun running continues with the Irish and the Russians.  A new drug cartel is coming into Charming and things get hotter with a new sheriff in town wanting to lock the sons up and a district attorney mounting a case against them.   The season premiere ends with a classic music induced montage.  Any time you see a montage in television, something big is going to happen and a plot will unfold.   This is going to be another explosive season of biker wars or as I call it Sopranos on Bikes.  Another great FX show, the new great network.

FX’s LIneup of Quality Shows-Just in case you or I lost track

Rescue Me(retired, 7 seasons)

Justified

Sons of Anarchy

The League(if you love sports and fantasy football, watch this show)

Archer

Lights Out(retired, one season)

Parting Shots

  • The Cardinals need to stop complaining about the shadows affecting them during 3pm games.   If the Brewers have no problems scoring 4 runs and winning the game, why can’t Pujols and Holliday hit well enough to help their team win?  It’s only a problem if affects both sides.
  • Barack Obama is introducing a new economic package to help our country out.   One day, Washington DC will get it right the first time.   How many strikes does a President get?
  • The Rams can beat the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins.   The Eagles, Ravens and Packers will be harder than ever.  3-3 is good enough.
  • Sam Bradford’s expectation will continue to rise and the seat will get warmer.   The better the Rams get, the more pressure sits on Bradford’s shoulders.  It’s a good thing he handles it very well and doesn’t crack.   Super Bowl Winning Quarterbacks are supreme condition performers.
  • Up All Night, a new NBC comedy with Will Arnett and Christina Applegate as new parents, is something I must watch because it’s like adult entertainment for new fathers and mothers.
  • Watch the new promo for Madden2012, with Ben Affleck narrating about the rivalry between two brothers.   “The hatred you have for him is biblical”. Affleck’s words come from experience.
  • New Albums to look forward to this fall.   Coldplay, Florence and the Machine and hopefully, the Dead Weather.
  • Status Update on Vincent Buffa development.   After a visit with the Doctor on Tuesday, the little Buffa is looking like he is coming closer to the original birth date, September 18th.   At this point, I’m ready to be a dad.  Too much drama for a pregnancy.   Bring on the midget fury.  The waiting room for fatherhood is getting old for a few reasons.  You can only read so much about being a dad before actually doing it.   How long does a nursery stay empty?  The wife drives you nuts by telling you how much she wants it out.   The time has come.  The car is packed, my blog is full, and we are ready.   We got 9 years to build a home for a child and set things up.   The previews are over.  The movie starts soon.  Let’s hope.

One more thing…

Appreciate every single day folks.  If the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, the KHL plane crash and the many sudden deaths around the country have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared to go at any moment.   The only way you can do that is to suck in every moment life gives you.  A sentimental if true word of advice.  Don’t waste a pitch my friends.   Make them all count.  When those 44 hockey players boarded the plane, they thought it was a regular day.  Same for the 2,983 souls who perished on September 11th, 2001.    Regular days could turn into the last ones quick.   We don’t think about this because we don’t want to believe tragedy can find us.   It’s like playing a hide and seek game with the Reaper.   You’ll lose the game.   Here’s the idea.

This is a life changing event for anyone who sinks their teeth into it.   Here’s the deal.   Some of us choose to not pay attention to the news, details and stories because the fear of our mortality having a few bullet holes ripped through it is too much to bear.   Think about it.   Get up, wash, brush teeth, work, home, dinner, internet activity and a little time for…….I MAY FUCKING DIE TOMORROW.  That’s always been my way of sight here.  Go one day at a time while you pencil in the future.   Next year may not happen and while on paper we are here until a projected age, anyday may be our last.   To most, its a tough realization that is avoided in order to enjoy the party.  To me and the few who read here, including the great Irish one McHugh, life is a gift and a moving one. Spread the story around.

Movie or not, the impact is blunt here.  A horrible tragedy that affects the entire world because hockey is a sport but life is vital to everyone.  It’s like I am standing in a field and I just saw 44 men fall around me but I am still standing because I don’t play hockey in a Russian league and didn’t jump on that plane that day.  Moral of the story.   Death sucks and gives no escape unless you care elsewhere.

That’s all for now folks.  Thanks for reading and have a good night.   The time has come to pull the curtain down on this latest Buffa Blast.   At this moment, my mind is at ease.

Take care and keep your head up,

Dan L. Buffa

P.S.-Here’s a link to a story on the WordPress site from a writer who carried a rather special perspective of the KHL Plane Crash Tragedy.  Read the entire story because its best I don’t give details.