The Rum Diary Review and More

Here is the news.  Quick and to the point.  I don’t waste any time here telling you what’s good or bad for your eyes.  All I can do is write what I think and send it towards your brain.  Let you decide what stays.  Prepare for a fresh blast of new material.  I call this…the Daily Dose of Buffa.
The Rum Diary Review

Walking into The Rum Diary, I didn’t know what to expect.  Hunter S. Thompson’s short story adaptation about a writer’s mental manifestation in Puerto Rico with the help of corruption, friendship, rum and bad choices.  Sounded like something that came across better on the page.  However, the Rum Diary is a wild untamed comedic adventure with its soul based in hardcore old school journalism.  The Pursuit of truth and all its friends.   Chasing a story and stopping at nothing to wrap your head around it.   In a modern age featuring the death of newspapers, this 1960s chaotic tale rings a few bells.   Thompson’s genius was set in his ability to take a period of his regular life and turn it into an adventure.    Johnny Depp helped Thompson unearth the Rum Diary in 1998 and immediately became his co-pilot in bringing it to life.  The tale centers around Depp’s NY writer Paul Kemp and his arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico for a job at a newspaper.   The paper is being buried into the ground by EJ Lotterman(the brilliant Richard Jenkins), a burnt out editor looking for a safe inspiring writer and instead gets Kemp, an alcoholic misfit who has no problem finding trouble and aims to write the next true no bullshit cover story.   Kemp befriends newspaper photographer Bob(Michael Rispoli, reliable as usual) and they start to investigate a local businessman Sanderson(Aaron Eckhart) after he confronts Kemp about writing positive stories about his land deal.   All is fine until Kemp grows a conscience and falls for Sanderson’s fiance’, Channel(Amber Heard, old school sexy).   Soon enough, Kemp is way in over his head, playing with fire, chasing a story no one wants to hear and getting himself and anyone in the same zip code into a lot of trouble. This is a perfect foil for Depp’s understated crazy madness.  Here is an actor who can let go of his comfortable reputation with one scene yet never have to overplay a gig for extended laughs.  Depp makes playing a mad writer in a bad spot look easy and thus the movie is easy on the eyes.  At the heart of it all here is the pursuit of renegade journalism.  All Kemp wants to do is right real honest economy biting columns and hits brick walls of safety until he gets his hands on a corruption case he simply let go of.   The Rum Diary isn’t perfect.  It slows way down at the mid point, goes in 6 different directions and the plot is sometimes hairline.   However, the intent is right there to see.   Thompson wrote these stories by inserting himself into an adventure.  Kemp is an alternate personality of Thompson, who wrote for a paper in San Juan in 1960.  He does what every creative writer with intention strives to do.   Create a fantasy to prove a point.  There’s ton’s of great one liners here that sting.  Staying with Kemp and Bob is Moburg, played with a go for broke rage by Giovanni Ribisi.  Moburg is the writer who says all the things many are afraid to.  Moburg on the existence of GOD.  “This entire way of life started with slavery and the depression and then they handed out GOD like soap.  If the bible is God’s good book, why did he hand a copy to everyone?”   Ribisi, Rispoli and Depp make a hell of a dark comedic team and the entire movie is played off as an extended psychedelic acid trip.   Depp is amazing in keeping things loose and low key and the plot moves just enough to bring us to an end of days climax for journalism and the papers that carries a timely hit for the fall of newspapers.  The Rum Diary sweats hardcore method reporting, dirty notepads, broke down cars, alcohol induced adventures, outlandish behavior disguised as a search for the truth.    Outstanding.  See The Rum Diary if you want something original with a message attached to it.   Write until death finds you.
Bob Forsch Dies
A week after throwing out the first pitch at Game 7, Cards pitching great Bob Forsch has died of mysterious causes at his home at the age of 61.   A real sudden shock for a franchise in disarray right after winning the World Series.   Reports have Forsch collapsing, which would lead one to believe from an apparent heart attack.    Whether or not the cause sticks, the loss of Forsch is brutal.   Forsch is the only Cardinal in history to pitch 2 no hitters and finished with 163 wins all time, second on the team’s list.   He threw his second no hitter in 1983, a year after I was born and retired in 1989 so I never got to see him pitch live but I have been told stories about his understated brilliance.   Forsch shut teams down with his mix of offspeed pitches and decent fastball.   A true Hall of Famer who circled the wagon when he threw the first pitch out last Friday before the Cards clinched.   A tough break for the Cards and a sad one for Forsch’s family.  RIP #40.
Update-Forsch died of an anneurism in his upper chest.  
Floyd Starts His Games
A week before Manny Pacquiao fights Juan Marquez, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is doing his usual publicity stunt aimed right at Pac Man.   When he fought Antonio Margarito, Floyd made a racist video making fun of Manny’s nationality.  Now, he comes out and says his team is locking down the MGM Grand on May 5th, 2012 for the biggest fight in history.   This comes after 2 years of ducking Manny and his pleas to get into the ring.     Floyd is a trash talking troublemaker, but is this the way to do business.   This is unprofessional, something that has marred my respect for Mayweather Jr.’s skill and unbeaten record.   Floyd has fought old men and unworthy opponents lately, including Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Juan Marquez.   The first two guys Manny pounded into submission and ended their careers.   Why is Floyd doing this?  He is masking his fear of fighting Manny straight up.    He must put together this mental game, which won’t have any barring on Pacquiao.   I don’t think Floyd got into Manny’s head before the Margarito fight, when he beat the much bigger Margarito so bad he sent him to the hospital for a broken orbital bone.  Margarito hasn’t fought since.   Manny is destroying his opponents.  You see what I am saying here.   Instead of doing things right, Floyd is going the bully route and pegging Manny as a guy who doesn’t want to fight.  All this time, Manny has wanted to fight Floyd and made it clear.   First, Floyd made this big deal about olympic testing before the fight, to which Manny balked towards at first but eventually agreed to. Floyd walked away and stayed away.   Why?  He is afraid. What other reason is there? Manny is in the best shape of his career and after he pummels Marquez once and for all, Floyd has to be next.   There is too much money on the table for these two to resist each other much longer.  Watching Manny train on HBO’s 24/7, one gets the feeling he is taking this one personally.   Facing the one man who ever gave him a real challenge and finishing him.   I look at this picture and I see a scared man using the media and fans as a shield covering his fear.   When the fight is over on November 12th, Floyd can do the proper thing and have his people at Golden Boy get in touch with Manny’s promoter, Bob Arum.  Will Floyd be willing to put his unbeaten record on the line?  We will see. 
Cards Managerial Search Heats up
Names flying across the board all over the past couple of days.   Former Cardinal Joe McEwing, Memphis coach Chris Maloney, and former Cub Ryne Sandberg all got interviews this week.   Today, Terry Francona flies into St. Louis for a meeting with John Mozelaik and Bill DeWitt Jr. to see if he is a fit for this club.   I like the wide range in candidates but I know it will come down to Jose Oquendo and Francona.    Internal or external hopefuls will be cut down.   Sandberg and McEwing are nice thoughts, but hardly real manager material.   What happens?  I still like Francona, and if he expresses real interest today in the job, the Cards need to hire him and keep Theo Epstein from bringing him to Chicago.  You can’t pass up on a veteran winner like Tito unless you are 100 percent sure Oquendo(who I like for it but not my favorite choice after further analysis) is fit for the job.   The Cards don’t need to stretch here.
Theo’s Work in Cubs land
The kid is trying to spit shine the misery dwell in Wrigley, but I am still not afraid of this team.   Theo can reformat this team and add players and trade bodies and the Cubs will still continue to lose.   He turned around one curse but turning the Cubs from 71-91 losers into winners is no easy task.    Epstein has been busy lately.  He fired manager Mike Quade, told Sandberg he wasn’t getting the job, flew in Francona,told Aramis Rameriz his services weren’t needed and is looking at Pujols and Prince Fielder as first base candidates.   Good for him.  The Cubs still suck.  The turnaround in Wrigley won’t be as fast as Boston.  Curse me for saying this but I just don’t see it happening.   If he is deeming all these coaches and players unfit for the little bears costume, why is Carlos Zambrano still on the team?
The Blues Face a Big Test
Exactly one year after David Perron went down with a concussion that’s kept him from game play since then, the Blues are still a riddle unsolved.   Tons of questions, inconsistent play and trade rumors starting in early November.  The preseason anthem is clear.  Don’t stop believing indeed.   Who knows when this team will be dominant again?   Please don’t cry to me about Andy McDonald being hurt.   The additions of Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner were supposed to shore up the lack of veteran depth on this team.    The Cards were dealt a stiff blow in spring training when Adam Wainwright went down.   Jaroslav Halak, luck withstanding, hasn’t played good enough.  He is slow and struggles to defend rebounds.   Backup Brian Elliot already has a fan page and better results in nearly the same amount of playing time.   Trouble exists on every corner and while the Blues are 5-6 overall, there seems to be a shadow of doubt around this team.  No one is safe.   Head coach Davis Payne is on the hot seat in his second full season.   T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund are having disappointing years after signing new contracts.   Ben Bishop and Ian Cole are expendable.  The next 10 games before the year starts its closing cermonies are huge for the Blues.   If the inconsistent play continues and they only win 4-5 games, change is coming.  Any logical fan can see this.   See something not working and try to fix it.  The same process is happening at the Edward Jones Dome with the Rams.   The Rebuilding phase isn’t pretty, especially when the team struggles past the point where the phase was complete.  The Blues need to win and do it quick.   It’s early in hockey town and the Blues have a pulse, but what else do they have in store before the New Year?  Either they are gelling or look different come 2012.   On January 2nd, 2010, Andy Murray was fired in the middle of a disappointing season.  Does the House Payne await the same fate?
Smaller Things-
*The Lokomotiv hockey team crash in Russia comes at the hands of a pilot error.   Moments before takeoff, the pilot accidentally pressed on the brakes, keeping the plane from gaining enough and speed for takeoff.   The plane derailed and crashed.  Horrible news for the hockey world.  It wasn’t a twist of fate yet only a mistake on one man’s part.  He not only put himself in danger but took 41 other souls with him to the ground.   Bad moment or lingering issue?  Answers will come soon.   The Blues honor the fallen former Blues players Pavol Demitra and Igor Koralev on November 8th. 
*At this stage in fatherhood, Vinny is basically a little drunk.   He shits in his pants, throws up over his family, pisses at random, always has the munchies and cries a lot afterwards.  Little drunk stage here at 7 weeks.   He is so adorable that you can’t manage to get mad at him.   It’s impossible.  He is throwing up due to reflux and it comes in heavy amounts all over us, the couch, floor and moving objects.  He is a reckless little man and the hardest deal here is trying to keep him calm after an incident.  The kid has stronger lungs than Mariah Carey.   Parenthood works over you one day at a time.
*It’s a good sign to let Rafael Furcal wait while the Cards find a manager, deal with Albert and breathe slightly, but GM John Mozelaik needs to wrap the SS spot up.  Find out what he wants and see where his agent stands.   Furcal isn’t a guy we can’t win without, but he brought something to this team(high caliber defense, occasional pop) and if he is in the right price range, you strike.  Shortstop is too important of a position.  At this point, the Cards have to be keeping a portion of the payroll put aside for potential Albert money. 
*Chris Carpenter practiced with the Blues yesterday.   Carp was an all state defenseman in high school, stands tall and mean at 6 foot 5 inches, and has to be a mighty presence on the ice.   It’s cool to see the STL teams having some fun together.   We all know Carp got to move around on the ice and at any given moment a Blues player could take him off his feet, but can you imagine the big Ace throwing down in a brawl.   I’d pay to see it.  Can he sign a waiver and play defense for a few games? Come on.
*What’s next at the movies?  For now, nothing.   Paranormal Activity 3 and Ides of March have to wait as I don’t like to spend too much time away from the kid.   Picking movies is a cracked apart science I am still working on, but I hit the theaters once every 2 weeks.  That’s where Blockbuster comes into play.  Staying home is the number 1 option when it comes to being in control of a human. 
*If the Rams lose on Sunday, they may not be worth watching for a while.   Losing to a 1-6 team without their starting quarterback and a dismal offensive line to begin with paints a sad picture here.   While it won’t mean much in catching San Francisco, this weekend’s game is huge.   If Bradford starts, we HAVE to win.  No excuses now that the schedule has gone soft.
*Song of the Day-Bon Iver performing “Blood Bank”.  Copy and paste it into youtube and enjoy. A somber Friday ride home tune that’s just right for a soul in need of rest. 
*Last Thought.  Brothers and sisters are important.   Parents are the makers and the keepers until a certain age, but siblings are the connective tissue as we get older and more distant.   I don’t get to see my brother a lot and it hurts more than one can imagine.   No detail needed.   All I am saying is if you have a brother or sister, don’t ever stop trying to keep the bond alive.   They are your blood and the last line of defense.  
It’s time to follow my own rules here.  Shut it down.  Get away.   Go outside and do something useful or at least try.   Thanks for reading.  Eyes are always appreciated.

Let the Games Begin

Is everybody here?  Fuck it, I’m going anyway.   This may not rip your face off but it will make contact with your brain. 

Reasons Why Terry Francona is a solid safe choice for the Cardinals Open Manager Spot

1.)The man won 2 World series titles in Boston from 2004-2010 after Boston went decades without a title.   Francona is a proven winner, and a guy who can handle a clubhouse full of superstars and heavy ego battles.   Manny Rameriz, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, and Jonathon Papelbon all served under Tito and he got results.   You can’t blame the guy for the September meltdown.  The Boston rotation blew up an ERA of 7.51 and the team just stopped playing good baseball.  No one is chasing Freddy Gonzalez for his job after the Braves collapsed in Atlanta.   A few Boston players hung out in the clubhouse during games and that looks bad on Francona, but I still like him for the job here because he won big time in Boston.

2.)Did I mention he won in Boston, fierce rival of the New York Yankees?  Francona managed a top of the market baseball club with a diehard fan base in the toughest division in baseball, the AL East.  Terry Francona will move from the Al East to the comedy NL Central, marking a drop in competitive baseball and making this job seem like a piece of cake.

3.)The Cardinals are set up to compete for a World Series in 2012, with or without Pujols.   Francona doesn’t have to come in here and realign a strategy and start fresh.  He is walking into a clubhouse with hired killers who get the job done.  He comes into a team with 5 set starters, cornerstone players and a fan base ready to see playoff baseball.  He is joining a team that just won the World Series.  There is pressure, but he is built for it.

4.)Francona has the support of Dave Duncan, the best pitching coach in baseball.  They could make a great team.

5.)Francona is a good guy, carries a solid baseball mind and is well respected.  He is a perfect skipper to work under Mozelaik and DeWitt Jr..   He doesn’t make excuses, gets the best out of his players, works well with players and made the classy gesture in Boston and left before the team could kick him out.  When the dark cloud fell on Boston and Theo Epstein scrambled off to Chicago, Francona decided to resign, take the heavy side of the blame and did the right thing.  Start clean.  St. Louis is a good spot for Terry Francona.  The two sides fit each others plans.

Francona gives the Cards stability, a strong resume, a history of World Series activity and a seasoned veteran presence to watch over this team.  The Cards can give Francona a second lease on life in Cardinal Nation.   Once again, Oquendo deserves an interview for his experience and history with club, but Francona is a big name to go out and grab.  You can’t buy the respect the players have for Oquendo, but you can’t write off the fact that Francona won 2 championships in the hot tundra of MLB baseball in Boston.   If he wants the job here, I’d be surprised if Mo turned him down.

A random chat with P.J. today brought out these other Cardinals needs-

Agree on the lefty specialist role fill and it should be easy.  Rzep is your long guy and all we need is a one out arm.
-Pujols is biggest task for this team.   Mo didn’t get much time to celebrate when days later the manager spot was vacant and Pujols’ clock ran out.   He has to get to work and once again, the Cards need to offer Pujols a new deal.   Start the betting yourself. 
-Furcal is  the biggest need because Cards have zero organizational depth at shortstop.  Do we really want to hinge our season hopes on Tyler Greene playing 162 games this season?  The answer is no.    Rafy is most important recall.   Incentive based deal is in effect there.
-I don’t mind Jose Oquendo as the skipper if Francona fell through because there wouldn’t be a big adjustment there either because players know him well and will only see him in different role.  I agree with Bernie that they shouldn’t hire Jose because he is Alberts buddy.  That would kill Jose’s creditibility and hurt the team.   Some morons are screaming that in this city and I had to shoot it down. 
-Finally, there aren’t too many holes on the team.   Figure out Albert, shortstop, the lefty specialist and maybe second basemen and the team is good.   First, Albert gets a deal.  That is the deal for which every other deal hinges on.   Albert’s epic saga of his future here.  Until we finish that deal, nothing else can be done.   However, the Cards should have an amount in their head annually that Albert is getting so if Furcal or Dotel want to come back, its easy. 
-Jose Reyes is too injury prone and I don’t want to blow 15 million on his future.  Too injury prone to risk it for.   If Pujols gets greedy and runs away, you do have 20 million plus dollars opening up but I would be very hesitant to hand any over to Reyes.  Explosive player that gets a leg injury every 30 games he plays. 
-Allen Craig is your right handed compliment to Jon Jay in Center field based off his big bat and improved defense.  There is no need to rumage through the free agent wire for a bat when you have Craig at your disposal and cheap.

I expect things to happen in this order-
-Hire Francona in less than a week
-Sign Pujols before Christmas
-Take care of loose ends.  

Cardinal Nation lives on for another season.  This team is set to contend for the pennant next season with a few recalls. 

Other Things-

  • Sad part about Rams directional path.   If this weekend’s game was being played at home, it wouldn’t sell out and the game wouldn’t be on television.  After last year’s finish, I can’t believe those words are here but its true.   If the backups start in Arizona, wear a mask to the couch.
  • The Blues play Vancover at home and who gets the start in net?  Brian Elliot has been solid and is 4-1.   Jaroslav Halak is a starter who gives up too many goals and looks dead in the net but could be victimized by a bad defense.   Who gets the call?  If I am controlling the ship, Halak gets one more night to put a stranglehold on position.  You have to see what he has left. 
  • What is a gonzo journalist?  A writer who inserts himself into his own stories.   Hunter S. Thompson was a gonzo journalist.  He put himself into a situation in real life and built a story around it on paper. 
  • What would we do without caffiene?  Right now I am lit up on two cups of strong coffee, but I feel the need for more.  What would we do if we didn’t have caffiene fixes, nicotine hits or a buffet food bar?  Chaos in the streets. 
  • If there was a show on television that pushes the boundaries of good/evil right now more than FX’s Sons of Anarchy, please tell me where it’s at.  Ron Perlman’s Clay made a decision this week that twisted my stomach but its a good twist for the show.  Good TV shows keep the viewers guessing what their characters’ motives really are. 
  • Hells On Wheels on AMC is the latest shot at a Western.   I am in for the first episode.  In the 1960s and 1970s, westerns owned television.  Now things have changed.  AMC is hot right now, so look for the railroad revenge drama to score first.
  • Once again, listen to The Black Keys new single, Lonely Boy from their next album, El Camino.  Like the car its named after, the song and album bleed modern blues rock.  

That’s all I have for you today.  Short, brutal and quick. 



The Buffa Blast

Quick and brutal, I’m going to run through a midday stream of conscience while on break.

The Safe Bet For Cardinals Manager-Terry Francona, all end of the 2011 season turmoil in Boston aside, is the most logical outside choice for the Cardinals.   If they interview Jose Oquendo(qualified and safe inside choice), decide he isn’t the right guy for the job, Francona is the best guy for the job.  John Mozelaik doesn’t need to go out and find Wyatt Earp to manage this team.   The Cardinals are a sound group of smart veteran and young players who know how to go about their business.   This team is built to contend and doesn’t need a fiery presence like Lloyd McClendon(a choice of a friend of mine).   The Cardinals need a person to come in, install a sense of order, supervise the activity and stand to the side and let his players work their talent.  Terry Francona won 2 World Series in Boston by letting his players run wild and free.  It backfired on him in September when the team quit playing and players were found to spend time in the clubhouse eating and watching TV during games.  However, Francona fits the Cards mold of safe, strong, experienced leadership.   He is a guy who will take orders, won’t object often and let Pujols and company roam.   Jim Riggleman walked out on the Nationals midseason in true Whitey style  because he didn’t get a contract extension, and that delivered a severe blow to his creditability.  Joe Maddon is staying put in his ground up built academy in Tampa.   Francona is either going to the Cards or he will land in Chicago with his old friend Theo Epstein after he gets rid of Mike Quade.  Francona is a logical choice for the Cards and seems to fit their idea of a manager.  He isn’t my first choice but he could be high on the list at Busch.

I don’t think La Russa’s departure will have a negative effect on Pujols’ situation.  A lot of players have the freedom to do what they want on teams.   Your example was perfect.  The Entire Red Sox team had this freedom.   Eat chicken, watch porn, play video games and do whatever.  Pujols is such a great player he gets to run through stop signs, play hurt and run
wild.   I still don’t think he called his own hit and run.  I just can’t believe it and if he did, he would have swung and not lost a chance at an RBI in a crucial game.  I don’t think Pujols will have an extreme caution to come back because La Russa is gone.  He was a father figure to Albert and treated him like a son, but Pujols will adapt and play fine under a new skipper. Bad
players let new managers ruin their careers.   La Russa’s departure is serious but not a bad thing for Albert’s future.   Pujols won’t be the guy to come out and say this manager sucks and I can’t play for him.  Nothing will stop Albert from doing his normal routine.  It helped that most of the time his daring baserunning paid off, his play at first base warranted the
claim of 2B-1B with his positioning and his decision making helped the ballclub.   If the Cards were smart, they are going to hire a Francona type who is respected yet lets his players run

There is a 5 day exclusive rights period for the Cards to talk to Albert Pujols and after midnight tonight, he is officially a free agent.   Look, real honest here about Albert.   While the Cards know they waited as long as possible to get this done, Albert has to know the Cards can’t pay him crazy money.   They can’t match Chicago, Texas or The Dodgers with a new owner dollar for dollar.   In the end, Albert’s going to have to take a discount to remain a Cardinal.   That’s the cost of having Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Lance Berkman flanking you every night.  If you want to have a loaded roster in a mid level market, you have to know where the limits are.   Albert deserves the golden deal, but he has to understand who he is talking to.   Reality needs to hit both sides of this negotiation.   Pujols needs to finish his career here and for that to happen, he will have to take 1 or 2 less years and 5-6 less million dollars a year.   That’s the bottom line.   If the talks fall apart, everyone’s eyes will be on Pujols and why he let it go.   I will look at both sides and wonder.   However, Albert Pujols must know where he wants to go because at the end of the day, when all the chips hit the ground, he will have to choose to stay here and not accept the extra 4-6 million or extra couple years.  That’s his choice.  But….

The problem is, Mo and the suits aren’t contacting Albert yet.   With 5 days to exclusively talk to the best player in baseball, they are letting Albert’s people contact
them.  Bad move.  I don’t care what Albert wants here.  Call Lorano now.   You don’t waste those hours waiting before he hits the market.  Why let Albert hit
the market without a new offer and after the recovery MVP second half Albert had, the offer better be bigger than springs offer.   Waiting is stupid, so this completely wipes
out our point.  They should contact Albert, get him signed and promise him a part in finding the manager.  If this leads to Jose getting the job and
Albert staying, I’m fine with it.  If this pushes the two sides apart, let Albert make his brother the manager.   Mo and company would be stupid to not let the sharp mind of Albert have a say in the search.   We agree here.  La Russa’s exit doesn’t negatively impact Albert’s situation unless the Cards fail to contact him soon and let him know about the new skipper.  Remember what The Lakers did to Kobe when they hired Mike Brown without telling him.  It pissed him off.   Let’s not piss off Albert here.  He is too important.

For all the fuck tards that think Lance Berkman can do what Albert can at first base, let me remind you.   Lance Berkman is declining and while he had an amazing season, he will
never do what Albert can do and will have a hard time repeating his 2011 performance.  Everyone is writing in Lance at first, and that is plain stupid.  Berkman is a mere insurance policy for Pujols and always has been.   Prime or late career, Berkman isn’t Albert in any facet of the game.  Leave him in right field to split time with Allen Craig.   Putting him at first base doesn’t mean he will repeat his performance from 2010 or dobetter.   Betting on Berkman doing what he did again is high stakes poker.  I like the guy but stop the nonsense.

For me, giving Jose Oquendo a shot is the safest move of all.   He is well respected, been around the game for a long time, doesn’t carry any negative history and is comfortable in the surroundings of this team.   There would be little carry over effect if Jose stepped into the manager’s office.  Going from third base to the dugout.   You wouldn’t have to convince Albert Pujols that Francona/Riggleman have gotten over their rough past and will be good for the team.  Hire Oquendo and Pujols signs the next day because players are comfortable with him already.  There’s a core of respect and knowledge that exists in Oquendo’s relationship to this team.   He isn’t a risk like Francona and Riggleman are.  He is a cheap, worthy, old school baseball mind with a need to lead.  Hopefully, he is considered.

Yadi Molina win his 4th Gold Glove.  This is a no brainer because everybody in baseball knows how good Molina is and his overall effect on the running game.  Molina doesn’t get as many chances as other catchers because runners simply don’t test him as often.   If it’s handling a changing pitching staff, throwing out runners at second or picking runners off third, Molina is a programmed machine behind the plate.   He shuts down running games.  He is revered in this league.   He is the most deserving catcher in either league and deserves to be honored.

I have no problem with the Cards declining the options of Rafy Furcal and Octavio Dotel.    They both helped this team immensely in the second half of 2011, but there is no room on the payroll to hand Rafy 12 million or Dotel 3.5 million.   You pull them in and renegotiate.   Dotel was a great addition and was key in shutting down big righthanded hitters in the playoffs.   He was also a clubhouse rally soul and lifted this team up and put a vet presence in the bullpen.   Furcal fixed the infield defense with his sure glove and rifle arm.   His bat was streaky and occasionally included power but will never be the Furcal of old.   Furcal needs to realize he isn’t a 12 million dollar player anymore.  Either he accepts that, takes less(4-5 million with incentives) or gets stupid and goes elsewhere.  Dotel pitched better here than he has anywhere in years in the final 3 months.   Both are players I want back but not at 15.5 million. With Albert pending, no way.  I will say the Cards are loaded at depth in right handed relief and have little major league shortstop talent ready, so Furcal is more important.

Switching Gears to Football-

Tim Tebow is struggling and that is to be expected from a kid with unpolished skills and a raw talent set for quarterback.    Tebow played an ugly three quarters against Miami two weeks ago and put together a strong 4th to lead a come from behind win but got hammered last week in Detroit.   He went from escape artist to supreme punch line across America.   He deserves a couple more shots at taking over the job before the forgotten kid, Brady Quinn, gets his 5th shot at being a successful NFL quarterback.   Tebow is the classic underdog.   His head coach, John Fox and owner John Elway don’t want him to succeed because they didn’t pick him to make it and want a pocket passer.  Former Denver Head Coach and current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow with the hopes of installing him in his wild offense.  Tebow is going to have to overcome a lot and drastically improve his overall game if he wants to beat the odds.   He is a good kid, talented physical specimen and has the ability to lead but he needs to improve.  He gets at least another week before Fox pulls him and shuts down the Tebow show.  He is a fine example of a fan favorite being given zero favors in an attempt to prove others wrong.  As Bill Parcells said, you either win or lose at this level and that’s all that counts.

Sam Bradford returns to action this week and hopefully gets into the game against Arizona.  The fact that the Rams won 1 of A.J. Feeley’s starts is tremendous.  Feeley overthrew receivers all day and managed to not mess up a good day.   Now Bradford makes his way back.   After missing 2 weeks with a high ankle sprain, he is back on the field and moving around.   Part of his return is to create a winning streak and maybe salvage the season or exit with a little dignity.  Facing a lowly Arizona team without its starting quarterback is a bonus opportunity.  Kevin Kolb has turf toe(one of this conditions I can’t wrap my head around) and probably won’t play.  This is a chance for the Rams to create some momentum and get back into the NFC West picture.  With the 49ers outstanding start, the likelihood of a comeback here is small if nonexistent.  However, you can’t hurt yourself by winning so I’m excited to see the Rams are standing with their heads up.  Bradford is the cornerstone player here and gives an impact to this team few can match.  He is a smart calculated player who will be thrilled to notice a new toy and set of arms on the outside wing in receiver Brandon Lloyd.  The Rams can’t afford to lose to bad teams and must take care of business this weekend on the road.

If it is left to Feeley and the Rams, Sunday’s game will be ugly.   The Rams and Cards rank near the bottom of the league in penalties and overall ugly play.   Two backup quarterbacks and two bad offensive lines.  The Cards O-Line is horrible, so Chris Long and Robert Quinn should put up great work on the ends.   My advice would be to pound Steven Jackson into the Cards defense all day long and hope Feeley doesn’t lose the game for you.   The Rams need to win this game badly.   Lose and grab a shovel.

Andrew Luck may suck in the NFL.  There, I said it.   I’m sick and tired of hearing how good this kid may be based on college performances and the way he throws or beats defenses in college play.   I have seen the kid play and while he is impressive, there is no guarantee he can put up wins in the NFL.   Wait and see.  No player is a lock to play well in the NFL.  There is no way to calculate Luck making big plays or succeeding in this league.  Look at history.   Tom Brady was picked in the 6th round.   Aaron Rodgers wasn’t taken 1st overall and won a Super Bowl.  Peyton Manning is great but was taken behind the worst #1 pick in history, Ryan Leaf.   Cam Newton was supposed to be a huge flop, got drafted #1 overall, got a shortened training camp and has put up staggeringly good numbers in his first 7 games.  Christian Ponder was on no one’s radar and won a game last Sunday.   Alex Smith is just now starting to not completely fuck things up in San Francisco.  Sam Bradford was a solid pick for the Rams but I couldn’t tell you he would succeed and didn’t feel the need to dry hump him up to the podium.   Luck is a good kid, has a great arm, strong ability, but can he do the things he is doing at Stanford in the NFL.  WHO KNOWS?  Bypass the Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. hard-on classes and hearing Luck is the best player to come out of college in 30 years.  They are brainwashing you.  If a year from now Luck is lighting it up down in Miami, I will eat my words properly.  I am just tired of hearing about how good he is.  There’s no way to tell.  He is a college quarterback who plays in the standard college offense.  NFL defenses are relentless, hard hitting, killers.   College tackles are lame.   Get real folks.  Wait and see.  Don’t place any bets.  Andrew Could be Shit Out Of Luck.

A Change of Pace, Different Seasons-Now that the Cards are done playing and the only conversation is free agents and manager vacancies, I have settled into my off period of the year.   While I still write about the Rams and Blues, the Cards demand so much attention in season that when they aren’t in session, the blogs are looser and more casual.  This isn’t a slap to the other teams or an indicator that I don’t care.  The fact is that the Rams play once a week and the Blues play 3 times at most, which leaves more off days to relax, write about random topics and ease into my blogs instead of running to the computer to confess violent acts.  It also leaves more time for movies, and with a strong entertaining fleet of films on the way this winter, I will be picking and matching like any new parent can.   Here’s a DVD review.

Crazy Stupid Love Review-A polite well written romantic comedy about a guy hitting the ultimate mid-life crisis wall and getting help from an unlikely source.  Steve Carell is Cal Weaver, who gets dumped by his wife in the first scene of the movie.  Cal’s wife Emily(Julianne Moore) is bored and doesn’t feel Cal is interested any longer.  She throws him out and demands a divorce.  Cal is sent adrift and while he has the adoration of his kids, he is left lost on the dating scene.   It’s not until he runs into Jacob(a cool and cavalier Ryan Gosling) that his life starts to change.  Jacob sees a poor tired guy that needs a makeover and so he runs Cal through the gauntlet, throwing him into new clothes, a new haircut and a way of life.   Jacob is a true player, a man who can breath in a woman’s direction and get her in the bed.  Watching him transform Cal into a replica of himself is both interesting and dull because you know where things are headed.   Things get even more interesting when Jacob meets a woman that he actually likes and Cal soon thinks about his newfound life.   This is a film about the destructible practice of falling in and out of love.   The bonds of marriage.  Finding true love and facing up to your past.  Cal and Jacob face the biggest tests of their life.   There are smaller stories here.   Cal’s son falling in love with his babysitter, only to find out an unfortunate secret.   Emily starts to get in touch with a work friend(Kevin Bacon).   There’s a twist near the end that ties everything together and while it doesn’t fail the story, the end is recycled and predictable.  That’s fine and makes for a good fun film, but I guess I wanted more here.  With the sharp script, good cast and set up, there was more to be discovered here.  Dan Fogelman’s script was ambitious and infused with whip smart humor and dialogue.  However, the end is kind of been there and seen that.   Cal’s journey is predictable and Jacob’s reality check is perfectly timed so much that the big speech at the end and plot twist land yet don’t leave a dent.  Crazy Stupid Love is a common story told with some skill and has good acting, but it doesn’t have that “wow” factor that I was expecting.  Gosling is sharp, Carell is the same guy he has been in several films and nobody goes wild here.    If you like romantic comedies, this will satisfy you.  If you don’t and want something fresh instead, it may disappoint.  See for yourself but I’m backing away.

Official Announcement-Mike Quade is out as the Cubs skipper.  New President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made the call, saying he wanted a clean slate in Chicago.  In other words, he didn’t want his new team to suck.   Quade was 71-91 in 2011, dealt with the obnoxious Carlos Zambrano, sunk fast in the NL Central and won’t be back.  I expect Theo to try to reconnect with Francona.  In all honesty, The Cubs need someone more ambitious and fiery than Terry.   This is where Lloyd McClendon would fit in because he is a guy looking to prove his worth and validate his career.  Francona wouldn’t want to dip his solid record into Wrigley hell.   Expect Theo to make a couple moves. He didn’t take the job as a vacation.  Kid likes a challenge.

Johnny Depp’s Crazy Adventures-The main reason I want to see the Rum Diary is Johnny Depp’s zany ability to go crazy inside a film.   He is least effective in films where he has to play it completely straight, like when he played John Dillinger in Public Enemies.  In order to be effective, Depp has to be cut loose and given a wide range to play around in.   Hunter S. Thompson’s stories are the perfect place for Depp.  Thompson was a gonzo journalist, which means he went after the decrepit underworld of human activity.  Drugs, bad decisions, and wild activity.   Thompson wrote stories about his adventures that started in reality and ended inside his head.   The Rum Diary is based on Thompson’s 1960 adventure in San Juan, PR where he went to work for a local newspaper and got mixed up in corruption, alcohol, drugs and the wrong woman.   Depp unearthed this short story long after Thompson died and got it published and helped produced this film.   Depp and Thompson were friends and one can see the connection between the actor and the writer.  A willingness to expose yourself for the love of an art.  The Rum Diary looks fresh and original.   That’s the appeal.

According to Ken Rosenthal, The Cardinals are asking permission to speak to Ryan Sandberg, the hall of fame Ex-Cub who was a front runner for the Cubs managerial spot before the 2011 season before the Cubs kept Mike Quade.   Now, The Cards are making a pitch at Sandberg, currently a coach in the majors.   I like this move because of a respect for Sandberg but you’d have to love the irony of a Cubs legend coming to the Cards to manage this team.  Sandberg would have to halt his depression meds and the Cards would want an apology for all the game winning hits against them during his playing years.   While this is an outside shot at happening, I like Mozelaik going for every possible corner and making the search interesting.   The normal players for the job are Francona, Oquendo, Riggleman, Terry Pendleton, Joe Maddon and maybe the Memphis manager.  Sandberg is a wild card.  Look for more on this.

Little Things-

*Why do medical forms and job application forms have to include answer slots that are so small its impossible to answer correctly and fully?  Are we trying to incorporate polish prison rules or something?

*Song of the Day-My Morning Jacket performing “Victory Dance”, the smooth tempo rocker that kicks off their latest album, Circuital.

*Odds that Sandberg lands in Chicago and Francona lands in St. Louis as new managers.   Decent chance.  I’d say 3-1 on each.

*Was it just me or did half a million adults wish David Freese would have bashed Justin Bieber and Jay Leno in the jaw on Monday Night?

*Tony La Russa-Next Late Night Sports Show Host?  Tony TV Lives.

*What’s uglier on Dallas Cowboys facility?  Rob Ryan’s haircut or Tony Romo’s overall play?

*Remember to Appreciate the little things in life-One of those things for me are the holiday cups used at Starbucks.  That time of year again where the red and white cups come out and boost the mood on a daily basis.  My coffee choice of the moment.   16 ounce cup of the bold pick of the day with an extra shot of espresso.   We call that a red eye selection.

That’s all.  I feel like I have gone on and on here.   Like the Lord of the Rings ending.   Like a politician.   Like a go for broke lawyer on the losing end of a case.  Like Herm Edwards after a Chiefs loss.  Sometimes you just have to say, “when in rome”.  I have no idea what that meant.   Anyway, thanks for reading and goodnight.


A Stream of Concious Thought

Let the games begin on another round of quick potent to the point topic firing from the southern end of St. Louis cyber space.   As The Black Keys flood the background with hardcore blues rock, I’m going to run down the list here.

Tony La Russa retirement thoughts, Day 2-Does this have any effect on Albert Pujols coming or going in the offseason?  Very little.   Look, Albert has to know Tony wasn’t going to be here forever and one day he would play for a different manager.   It’s common sense and shouldn’t get in the way of Pujols returning.  Honest thought.   While I was surprised by La Russa’s decision, it wasn’t a shock and I didn’t immediately grow weary of Albert’s status when I heard the news.   The Cardinals just won a World Series, Tony retired, Albert cried like a baby, hearts were touched but business is business and logic wins out here.   La Russa will tell Albert to stay put and that will be the only effect.  Pujols isn’t stupid enough to think he lives in a world where he would have one manager his entire career.  Pujols knows where he wants to play and will make a decision.   That is all it comes down to.   Pujols will miss La Russa but be able to perform to his standards under a new manager, especially if his name begins with Jose.  These guys are professionals.  They can handle it.

Possible  Suitors for Cardinals vacant managerial post-Jose Oquendo gets the the first interview if you ask me.   Jose has the complete respect of the team and its core players like Pujols, Molina, Carpenter and Wainwright.   Oquendo has put in his time here and is a sharp baseball mind with leadership to offer and many pearls of wisdom to share.  He interviewed for many open posts the past few years and came back here every time.   Jose put in 12 years as a player here and has coached third base for 12 years.   He is a defensive wizard who will expect the best out of any player, superstar or utility bat.   He is the most qualified for THIS job.  Experience?  Who needs experience when you have spent half your life in this city?  Here’s a bit for the experience junkies.   4 of the 8 teams in the postseason this year were led by first time managers, including Ron Washington and Ron Roeneke, two managers the Cards defeated.  Oquendo is legit and has waited his turn here.  He at least gets an interview.  Any hiring is a risk.   Finding a manager is like drafting in the NFL.  You do your homework, calculate the odds, and choose.   Its a hail mary toss either way.

After Jose, it’s a three legged horse on the open market between Terry Francona, Jim Riggleman, and John Maddon.  Bobby Valentine steps into Busch Stadium as a candidate and I will shoot him on sight.  Francona managed the Red Sox for 8 years, won 2 World Series titles but left in turmoil after his team literally quit playing in September and rumors came to the surface that players ate snacks and played video games during games.   Francona is a smart respected manager and he’ll get a look.  Rigglemen spent time on the Cardinals major league staff and Memphis coaching staff throughout his career, and managed the Washington National until midway through the 2011 season, when he was denied a long term contract and he quit.  Rigglemen did a fine job there but was being set up to be fired win or lose.   He chose his dignity over slumming the rest of the year.   Maddon manages the Tampa Bay Rays but has a year left on his deal and has always liked the Cardinals.  Either one of these guys works and has pedigree, but Jose gets my early vote.

It’s amazing how things change in a week.   Last Monday, the Cards were down 3-2 in the World Series.   Last night, La Russa is discussing retirement with David Letterman and David Freese is bumping shoulders with Justin Bieber on Jay Leno.   Wow.

A Better Life DVD Review-A powerful little indie film about one man’s survival pledge for his son in the harsh economy of Los Angeles.   Demian Bichir stars at Galando,an illegal immigrant who spends his days as a low pay making landscaper with dreams of opening his own business and making a better life for his son.   Any father can appreciate and admire this tale about fathers and sons.   Bichir is amazing in the lead role, injecting Galando with a world weary attitude and toughened outlook.   While we feel sorry for his situation, Bichir never lets the action turn into pity.   This man is strong and only wants to do better.   If you have a son, all a father wants is for that son to do better in this world.   I think of it as a pitcher leaving a game and handing the ball to a younger version of himself, daring him and wanting him to do better. Galando gets the opportunity to run his own show, but things fall apart fast and he is fighting at the same time to keep his son out of local LA gangs.  The end is bittersweet and deeply provocative.  A scene between Galando and his son, Luis, in a room at the end is one of the most heart wrenching moments in a film all year.   One man looking into the other’s eyes, asking for forgivness and a promise.   A Better Life is a fine gem of a film and promises something for the whole family.   It carries a message that never dies.   There is a scene near the end of the film where Luis asks Galando why parents have kids and why he was born if his mother took off early in his life. Galando tells him he had him because in the end when there is nothing left to live for, a son gives you hope.  He wanted something to life for and Luis was that something.   Powerful stuff that doesn’t leave the head so fast.

What Gets on My Nerves-Being second guessed by old guys in my warehouse.   That’s right.  Generally, Old guys think young guys suck.  They miss 1975 or want to get back to 1820.  It’s the natural law of making it past 60 years of age.  The Clint Eastwood condition in full effect.  Every time I tell this guy at my plant something, he thinks in his head, “Who does this young dude think he is?”   I hate repeating myself for a third time but I hate even more being second guessed.  When somebody thinks I am lying to them about something just for kicks.   Old guys do this.  They can’t get through their head that this is a young man’s world and they are still living in it.  I told this guy the location of a product in the warehouse and minutes later I hear him telling another worker, “You know, I asked Dan where it was, he told me it was right here, and I don’t see it, damn it”.   It was right in front of him.  Fucking old guys.   Yes, the greater percentage of guys who do this are a lot older than me.  When you get to be fossilized, it’s time to start listening and resist the second guessing.   Rule of thumb for any Lee Marvin fans out there.

Here’s another team that won’t ever win a Super Bowl with current roster intact.  The San Diego Chargers, who blew a late comeback away and lost to the Chiefs last night 23-20.   Every year, the Chargers are mentioned in Super Bowl pick chats and I laugh.   First thing, Phillip Rivers isn’t a big game quarterback and constantly suffers from Tony Romo Choke syndrome.    Second, Norv Turner teams tend to choke big time.   Third, the Chargers can’t put together solid consistent streaks of play.   They aren’t hard to beat on a big stage, which makes them Super Bowl non factors.

Matt Sebek Tweets-A St. Louis fellow who loves to dish sharp sarcastic humor that you could slice with a knife on the Twitter boards.  I use Twitter mainly to follow local sports writers breaking news and celebs crazy comments, but Sebek is a freak of nature when it comes to shedding an original light on fresh stories.

A Sprinkling of Sebek genius here with a few of his tweets-

-Armed only with an AM radio and a cooler of Molson Ice, Tony & Colby Rasmus share a tender embrace on a frozen Toronto pond.

-(On Tony’s retirement)This, of course, opens the door for Albert Pujols as the first St. Louis player/coach since Darryl Doran.

-One has to wonder how La Russa’s retirement will affect the career path of future tiny, white, substandard middle infielders.

-Speculation aplenty about today’s 9am Cardinals presser. Clearly, it’s to name Jason Motte the closer for 2011.

-Dan Lozano reps Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and now, Carlos Beltran. He’s either aligning his chips or forming another Menudo

-Loved the beard, but I’m happy to see that Lance Berkman has his lesbian look back.

-Cardinals broadcasting car just went by. Dan McLaughlin was not driving.

Sebek is a STL sports blogger who likes to mix it up and throw darts at sports types.  Love the guy.  A solid tweet can be a mood boost after a long work day.

Conan O’ Brien returns to New York(the scene of his first 10 years on at the Late Night Show on NBC) this week to do a week of shows at the Beacon Theater.   A homecoming parade for Conan, who has enjoyed a fine first year on TBS and cleared out the late night spot the cable network all by himself.  While Letterman and Leno get high profile stars like Johnny Depp, David Freese(haha), George Clooney and Tony La Russa, Conan gets character actors, indie bands and does his own original thing.  Conan is the kind of guy who would book Nick Punto or Daniel Descalso and kill it better than Leno or Dave, who seem tired and bored these days.   Conan would let Punto shred his suit or tell Descalso to show him what D-Money means.   Part of the reason he’ll always have a job on late night is his willingness to be self deprecating.

George Carlin on God-Look folks, this is pure personal opinion and not meant to be a shot at anyone.   George and I think alike on this subject and we do so by presenting plausible arguments, something a lot of religious people can’t seem to do when I am catching God talk to my face.   You can’t escape these people.   They want you to feel their beliefs inside and out.  I don’t want any part of it.  So I come here and present my case, along with the late yet great George Carlin.    George prefers to believe in the sun and Joe Pesci, and there’s an explanation behind this.   I believe in what I see, because as Carlin points out, it really helps the credibility factor.   Listen to the whole clip and don’t cut it short because it doesn’t align with your thoughts.   It’s not supposed to.   Everyone can’t agree with your idea and if you can’t protect your beliefs with a steel shield, what is the use in having them?   Scroll and click, and then we will move on.

For me, that’s the perfect way to end a rant.  A little rant on GOD.   For all the people who may of been offended, you didn’t HAVE to read it.  Simple as that.  This is an optional read.  I am not jamming this down your throat.  Pure opinion.   Anyone can do it.  I put my words on the board and back them up 100 percent.  If people can’t handle that, tell me personally and I will remove you from the list or warn you to stay away from my WordPress blog.   Taking these words personally is a bad idea unless you can handle the conversation.   Words are the best way to spark a juicy conversation and that is what laid the foundation for this civilization.  Two or more people going at it over their beliefs and what is right and wrong.  If you are up for a fight, I will bring it.  Please don’t shut me out because of what I think because that is weak my friends.  Freedom of opinion is all we have left.

Thanks for reading and goodnight.   More will come at a later time.  For now, I am shutting it down.


Dan L. Buffa

Hangover Notes

As the lovely wash of a World Series title hangs in my memory, here’s some thoughts as I deal with the side effects.

Happy Halloween readers.  First shock of the day is…

Tony La Russa retires from baseball.  To me, this wasn’t a shocking move at all.  La Russa managed here for 16 seasons, won 2 World Series titles, went to the playoffs 10 times, won 3 pennants and has picked the right time to walk away from the game.   What’s a bigger high note than completing a miraculous recovery and winning the World Series.  I suggested he make his exit after this season when we were down 10.5 games in August and that was when he contacted GM John Mozelaik.  Look, its hard to fault what La Russa has done here with a wild variety of baseball teams.   He has dealth with tragedy, injury and a set of young and old ballplayers like a pro and accomplished a great amount in his long career.  Love or hate him, you can’t fault his 3 World Series titles, 6 pennants and finishing 3rd on the all time wins list.   He leaves a hole in the dugout that won’t be easy to fill.  This works for the Cards because while veterans like Carpenter, Berkman and Holliday are coming back, the team is slowly transitioning into a young talent based team.  Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas and David Freese are all coming into bigger roles and now is a good time to introduce some new blood into the manager’s post.   It will be genuinely weird to not see La Russa stalking that dugout step during games, removing his glasses as he makes his way up those stairs for a pitching change or revel in his in game genius calls.  More on this as it develops, but as mentioned, this is a good time for La Russa to exit.   Leave when you have done it all and planted your feet as one of the best.  It’s better to leave on a high note than walk away with people speaking of your decaying existence.  My guess is he will be back in baseball soon, whether its in Chicago with his friend Jerry Reinsdorf or on the West Coast somewhere.  La Russa will have a job in the front office or get back in the dugout.  Today was his time to exit Cardinal Nation.

First Interviews for the New Job.   Third base coach and well respected former player Jose Oquendo has to be the first choice on the table.  Oquendo is highly respected by the players and the front office, and waited for the opportunity to manage this team.  Hire Oquendo and Pujols will stay for sure.   He managed a team in the World Olympics and is a smart tenured baseball mind worth putting in charge.  After Oquendo, I expect Mozelaik to make a call to Terry Francona(recently parted ways with Red Sox).  Everything is up in the air, and I respect La Russa for making the decision earlier rather than later.  Last season, he took a road trip to decide but this season the idea of a summer off hit him early enough for the team to make plans.

World Series Thoughts-Sitting on my couch on Sunday, the idea that the Cardinals had won the World Series slowly began to roll in.   Being a die hard fan, you don’t know how to let go once a season ends.  The MLB Network is showing replays of the postseason Cards games, so I found myself watching some of the highlights.   There isn’t much more to say other than the Cardinals winning it all allows a fan like myself to ease into the offseason more comfortably.  There is no rage or anger.  I am content.   I know what the Cardinals have to do and now that La Russa is retired, another interesting jaw of possibilities is thrown into motion.   The idea now is set our sights on Pujols’ contract and the inevitable calm of peace in an offseason not marked by questions yet carrying a definitive grasp of joy for a season well done.  We not only won the World Series.  The Cardinals won one of the most memorable and thrilling World Series in baseball history.  Chew on that.

The Rams Swallow the Red Pill, Beat Saints

If someone had told me The Rams would beat the Saints with ease at home yesterday, I would have tested their blood for narcotics.  Taking a 24-0 lead into halftime and only allowing a late surge by New Orleans with the game in hand, the Rams finally broke through with an overall strong team performance.  Let’s break it down in bullets.

  • The Defense played very well, creating a pass rush that got to Drew Brees for 6 sacks and several hurry up throws and hits.  Those hits allowed the secondary to get an extra step and intercept Brees twice and return one for a score, the Rams first INT return for a touchdown for the season.   James Lauranitis had 10 tackles and a sack.   Chris Long had 3 sacks, each in a different quarter.  Long is capable of being a top flight DE threat in this league and showed another flash of his talent against the Saints strong offensive line.  The defense also held the Saints huge running game to 56 yards on 20 carries.
  • Steven Jackson ran wild, accumulating 159 yards on 25 carries and scoring 2 touchdowns.  He also caught 4 passes for 32 yards.  This is what Jackson can do when given the space and protection.   He is one of the top 5 running backs in the league for his consistency and his resolve to make this team a winner.  He has grown into a team leader and led by example yesterday.  When he gets an extra step or a little room, Jackson can separate himself from a D-line and get big yards.  The only chance a defense has of stopping him is getting him early.   Jackson is a battering ram out there and simply wore down the Saints all day.  Look at yards accumulated over the past 5 seasons and Jackson is up there.   He has consistently put up numbers with a decaying Bulger behind center, a rookie last season and A.J. Feeley yesterday.
  • Speaking of our 3.5 million making backup QB, Feeley had a mistake free game.   He threw for 175 yards and a touchdown, making Jackson the feature player on the offense and for good reason.  Filling in for an injured Sam Bradford, Feeley wisely took a supporting role.
  • The Rams were 3-3 in the Red Zone, improving in a previously horrible category.   Teams win games by scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
  • There were bad spots and dark holes on the day.  The Rams were penalized 9 times for 64 yards, continuing a bad trend early in the season.   There was a horrible fumble drop deep in Rams territory that the Saints returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.  Greg Salas dropped a pass that was nearly recovered.  The Rams were 5-16 on 3rd down, which only equals out to a mere 31 percent.
  • Brandon Lloyd led the Rams receivers with 6 catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.   Lloyd has sparked the passing game a little in his two games and things will only get better when Mark Clayton joins the team.

Overall, a solid win that still sits this team at 1-6 nearing the halfway mark.  This team hasn’t had the easy road.  After finishing 7-9, the Rams were dealt a brutal schedule that included a 7 game death walk to start.  They have lost Danny Amendola for the season and Bradford for two games along with Danario Alexander.  Nothing has been easy, and watching this team hasn’t been pretty because of the lousy play.  Before Sunday, the Rams were plain old ugly.   Do the Rams have a shot of catching 6-1 San Francisco?  I doubt it, but it’s encouraging to see this team fall off the top draft slot for this town’s sake.   A win over the Saints makes one wish we could have pulled off the Redskins or Giants game, but we go to Arizona on a high note with Bradford hopefully making his return soon.  With the Rams, it will always be sweet and bitter.  Appreciate the effort on Sunday as the Rams took a page from the St. Louis Cardinals and went out and played their asses off.

The Blues lose their second in a row, raising more questions

The Blues continue to be a zig zag franchise, winning 3 games and then losing 2 in a row to destroy any confidence built up.   This team has scary areas of need and with the injury to Andy McDonald and pending status of David Perron, one wonders if they can improve their play enough to challenge for a playoff spot.   Right now, the playoffs are non factor.  Playing consistent hockey is key and right this moment, the Blues look rough.  Here are some points.

  • Jaroslav Halak is playing bad and inconsistent hockey, but is also getting put out to pasture by a bad defense.  How many times does the opposing team come skating in with the advantage and fire willingly on Halak?  This has been the problem for years.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Manny Legace, Chris Mason or Halak.  Unless the Blues defense improves, the goalie doesn’t stand a chance.   Rather its Barrett Jackman turning over the puck or the Blues getting beat down the ice, Halak is facing a firing line every time.  Granted he hasn’t been sharp.  Allowing 4 goals on less than 25 shots is bad for business.   Halak is 1-6 with a 3.58 goals against average and a unbearable .843 save percentage.   The real question is, why is Brian Elliot faring so much better in net?  He is 4-1 with a 1.67 GAA and a shutout.  Where is the disconnect or the plug here between two goalies?  Sometimes, players go hard for one player over another.  Answers will come in time.  Halak is the 4 million dollar kid that has 3 more seasons in net here while Elliot is the go for broke 1 year veteran.   Is Halak losing focus while Elliot is sucking in every opportunity or this a matter of defense in front of the net?
  • Alex Steen can’t be faulted, scoring 6 goals and netting 9 points in the first 11 games.   A two sided player who can penalty kill and possesses the best one timer on the team, Steen is making his big contract stand up in the second year.
  • With the additions of Scott Nichol, Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner in the offseason, I would think the depth would be better on this team but they are still struggling to make up ground and get the first goal in games.
  • The power play is stagnant at 2-39 in the first 11 games.  If this doesn’t improve, you won’t see more wins put on the board.  If you can’t score with the man advantage, how can you be expected to do so at full strength.
  • The penalty kill isn’t much better, ranking near the bottom of the league in efficiency.
  • The Blues aren’t ugly to watch yet they rarely put together long sustainable winning streaks.  It’s hard to generate excitement early when you produce uneven hockey.  It’s early and there are 71 games left to play but the Blues don’t look too hot right now.  Their home/road splits aren’t drastic in any direct area.  The overall level of play isn’t there yet.
  • One small hint.  Play Ryan Reaves.  The kid is a born enforcer and can handle the puck as well and skate on a fourth line.  Just a small suggestion.

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez, 24-7 on HBO

Watching these two prepare for their November 12th fight, I can’t get over the fact that Marquez doesn’t stand a chance against Manny.  Granted, the last time these two fought in 2008, many thought Marquez got the decision and not Pacquiao, who hadn’t risen to the top of the boxing world yet.   Manny has only grown in power, strength, speed and overall skill since then while Marquez has taken a step back.   These two produced two legendary battles that ended in a draw and a close decision.   That was 3 years ago.  Since then, Manny has risen to the top while fighting anybody who steps forward and he has jumped in weight class and won 8 belts in separate weight classes.   Marquez looked lost and old in a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. two years ago, the only other time Juan had stepped up to the lightweight division.   Manny has something to prove this time.  He wants to destroy Marquez and prove to the world who is the best in the three fights.  HBO produces breathtaking sports entertainment, and 24/7 boxing is no joke.  Liev Schrieber narrates while the cameras swoop in and out of Manny’s gym in LA and Marquez’s camp in Mexico.   It’s wonderful theater, as the promo promises, “go into their lives before they go into the ring”.    This is just another useless pit stop before Manny once again waits for the cowardly Mayweather Jr. to step up and agree to a fight.  Once again, for the kids who choose to live under a rock and not pay attention, Floyd is scared of Manny.   He is afraid Manny will ruin his legacy by handing him his first loss.   Why else is there for Floyd not too fight Manny in a mega fight that would pay 20 million easily to each camp.   If Floyd is about the money, he would fight Manny.  Instead, he builds up this bullshit blood testing excuse and gets into tons of legal trouble out of the ring.   Be honest.  Floyd doesn’t care about clean boxing.  The Boxing Commission takes care of that and Manny has passed all their tests.  He agreed to Floyd’s propaganda but Floyd didn’t come to the table.  As Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said, the fight will never happen because Floyd is afraid of Manny.  For now, we get to see Manny destroy an old foe.

My Prospects as Cardinals Manager-Since La Russa retired this morning, people have asked me should I get into the running?   I responded with a sure fire grin and a promise to produce highly candid post game press conferences and a renegade style to games.   I can only imagine myself, the youngest manager of all time, stalking the dugout steps, making pitching changes, taking wrath and smack from writers and fans.   Who is this kid?  I’d welcome it with open arms and work for what I make right now.  If I did well, then I’d accept more pay.   I would be the first in a revolutionary upheaval in sports.  Young blood.   Don’t get too excited.  Even if I donated a kidney to one of the owners and saved Busch Stadium from a fire, I would never be made manager.  I’m too young, inexperienced, and have nothing to show for experience.   Just a thought.  What If Scenario.  I’m just a fan and it will stay that way.  However, if I am called, I accept the offer.   First request from me.  Sign Albert immediately so we can get to work.

Daddy Blog Entry-Dealing with baby issues is the hardest thing about being a dad.   What is wrong and what is normal?   That’s the fight.   This week Vinny is vomiting projectile style.   This is especially bad when it happens out of nowhere.   One minute he is fine and the next he is covered in white fluid, crying and helpless.  As a parent, you take the blunt of the worrying and blame yourself and the genetic makeup.   You won’t see the doctor more than when you have a kid.  You won’t hear the phrase, “Yes, thats normal” more than when you have kids.   Everything is trauma when you have a newborn.  We are a natural born ER center at home now.   One wrong cry and we both run for the crash cart.   This isn’t complaining but only mere explaination.   I love being a dad but I warn against wannabe parents….this won’t be easy and it will be the most entertaining and original ride of your life.    Take your meds. 

NFL Sunday Quick Thoughts-

*The Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo.   Complain if you can but remember what I said.   He is a choker and Jerry Jones better realize it.  Tank the rest of the season and trade up for Luck.  

*Once again, Tom Brady can be beat like any other QB if the opposing team gets consistent pressure on him.   Pittsburgh forced it and they beat the Patriots.  Beat Brady and the deal is done. 

*The Eagles won, but I still don’t believe they can beat the Packers. 

*Come to think of it, no one can beat the Packers right now. 

*Watch out for the Lions.   They lost a couple games but when they are clicking, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can put up points and the defense closes the gap.    Watch out Packers on Thanksgiving. 

*Mark Sanchez is a horrible regular season quarterback but a great playoff quarterback.   Weird. 

*Are the Cardinals crying for Kurt Warner yet?   Correction-Is Larry Fitzgerald crying for Warner yet?

Random Bits to close up shop-

*I’m going to the doctor today for a random checkup.   First time with our new doc.  Would it be inappropriate to not wear pants?

*Watched The Rock in Faster on Saturday.   Great action film.  One course asskicking fest.   Don’t overjudge it.   These kind of simplisitic action thrill ride that are rarely done well these days.   He plays an ex con who spends 10 years in prison after the death of his brother waiting to get released and go killing.  

Great line from the end-

Bad guy-“I created my own hell,didn’t I?”

The Rock-“And I’m the devil that crawled out of it.”

*Song to Listen to Right Now-Dawes performing “When My Times Comes”

*Final Thought-The Cardinals need to get a manager quick so Pujols can settle in and get his deal and the Cardinals can get to work.  They knew this time was coming and that Pujols would need to get paid.   If they were smart, they would have given Holliday and Pujols 8 year deals 2 years ago and been done with it.    Now, they must the manager vacancy so the Pujols talks can get wrapped up before the new year.    Less distractions the better.

That’s all folks.  Thanks for reading.



The First Dose of Happiness(Extended)

Ladies and Gents,

We came, we fought and we conquered.  The Cardinals did the impossible and won their 11th World Series.   21 hours later, I am still in minor shock and awe dealing with the feeling that the team I hand my life to for 6 months a year won the prize.   A surreal and truly great feeling.   That’s 2 World Series in the last 5 years and 3 trips in the past 10.   Very solid.  Move over Phillies, the Cards carry the big stick now. 

While I will unveil a larger more compact blog later tonight or tomorrow, allow me a few thoughts as I digest dinner, play highly underrated indie band The National in the background and set up some french press coffee for an evening with a good friend.   10 Things to Point  Out and Look Forward to.

  • Chris Carpenter was my unsung hero for the entire postseason.  A strong armed general that provided the team with stability.  Carpenter deserved the World MVP for his three solid controlling starts but I have no problem with Freese getting it.  Carp rescued his career with the last 3 months of his season but his postseason performance and overall numbers prove his ultimate worth.  A true beast.  His Game 5 beating of Halladay and the Phillies will go down as legendary in it’s own right.
  • Freese makes for a good story.  Kid came a long way to from being an injury prone drunk to taking over the playoffs, driving in 21 runs and coming through with the clutchest hit in recent Cards history.  The fact he did in his hometown takes it to another level. 
  • Lance Berkman is also a guy I feel pretty happy for.   Before the season, he called the Astros about coming back for another season or 2 to wrap things up and that he had gotten healthier over the offseason.   The Astros told him to go fuck himself.  Told him he was done, broken and worthless.   Berk called the Cards next.  Rest is history.  He stuck the ultimate stick of “told you so” serum into the Astros by putting together a great season, proving he could play right field at his age and came through with big World series hits.  Good for him.  Glad he is back in 2012. 
  • While he only produced one good offensive game in the World Series, Rafael Furcal fortified the infield defense and hit very well on this team.  He came here to win a World Series, got one, and I have a strong feeling he will stay.  He means so much with a ground ball pitching staff. 
  • The clock ticks on Albert Pujols now.  Will he or won’t he?  My feelings are still the same.  He has no reason to leave now.  He is king of the city and will get a good deal.  It comes down to his choice.  He put together an overall strong postseason and I don’t think he is going anywhere.  He deserves the golden deal, so hopefully the Cards provide him with one.  He is simply too good to short change.  For the people who will only offer him 3 years, you are retarded.  He is worth so much more and has earned it.  At least 5 years will be given here.  In the end, Albert will stay because the Cards have kept their promise of competing and Albert’s life, family and future are set in stone here.  Sometimes, business gets pushed to the back burner.  
  • While Descalso and Jon Jay were big pieces, Allen Craig is a player who gives hope after Berkman retires after 2012.   Craig only got better with more playing time and had a great World Series.  He hits for power to all fields and also plays solid defense, as seen with his catch last night.  Like Jay, Freese and Descalso, he gives the Cards a cheap productive player. 
  • The good thing this team is set up strong for next season and doesn’t need many pieces to look for in free agency.  Pujols is the main need and after he is done, where do you look for fixing?  Skip had a solid comeback season and is cheap at second where Punto or Descalso can share time.   Furcal will come back for cheap.   Freese, Holliday, Jay, and Berkman are set.  Molina will get a deal and stay put.  Wainwright’s options are picked up and set.  Westbrook and Lohse are here for another year and barring a magical deal, can’t be traded.   The bullpen is strong.  Rzep is back.  Salas, Sanchez, Lynn, Dotel and Motte are all coming back.  I like this team’s chances to return to the playoffs in 2012 with or without Pujols, but I’d like the Mang’s services rendered and returned.
  • McClellan’s job has to be in jeapardy with Lynn and Dotel coming up big.  K-Mac was solid for 4 seasons yet started to wore off after his return to the pen in August.
  • Tony La Russa will be back because the Cards will be a veteran led team next year.  For one more year at least, we will be subject to La Russa’s brutal mind draining genius.  
  • Of all the returning young soldiers, Motte is the one I’m looking forward to the most.  He brings so much and has come a long way from his early propane fused arrival.   His secondary pitch is improved and the location of his fastball is nearly pinpoint.  He has the chance to be a lockdown closer for a long time if he strangles the job and continues to pitch lights out.   He pitched very well under the harsh lights of the postseason, which is a huge test for a kid like The Motte.  Motte can provide this team with the first old school heater based closer since Bruce Sutter and at a low price.  If we are to hand Pujols millions, we will need to get production from the cheap end in certain areas.   This team carries plenty of it. 

If there is one thing this team did in 2011, they redefined the idea of “out of the race”.   They recovered from 10.5 games out with a month to play and won it all.   An inspirational group of ballplayers who proved, it’s never over until the fighting is completely done.   I’ll never forget this season for everything that it was.  Frustrating, entertaining, exciting, awe inspiring, maddening and ultimately successful.   Game 6 is never leaving the memory.  The 2011 Cardinals provided the best 7 weeks of baseball I’ve ever seen.   If we learned anything here, it’s that giving on your team with a month to play is a useless activity because in sports, you never know what can happen with the right performance from every area of a team.   I’ll never look at this team the same again.  That’s my lesson.

*Fun Fact-In 1982, when I was born, The Cardinals won the World Series.   My son Vincent was born on September 14th, 2011 and the Cardinals won the World Series 45 days later.   Connections are real and intact.  Vinny gave this team a surge right when they needed something extra, or I am just being a proud dad bragging about his kid.

That’s all I have for now.  Out of time.  Digest and prep for more.  Tonight’s menu includes watching the Rock kick ass, beer intake and hanging with Vinny.  Dos Equis Amber included.


excited, mentally drained yet content to relax

Here is more on the season after a chat with friends-Sunday, 1230 pm

As I just wake up here after a semi wild night of drinking with friends and being up here and there with Vinny during the night, allow me to load up the gun and fire back.  
Drinking is possible with a newborn IF you have a great partner for a wife and two awesome friends who aren’t baby phobic.  Last night, I stayed thirsty with both Dos Equis Original and Amber. 

Pujols and Free Agents on the team
I don’t think I’m being over ambitious here.  If Skip wants more than 1-2 million a year for having a down year offensively from when he got his 2 year deal, I say cut him loose and insert Daniel Descalso who can do nearly as well for a lot less money.   Furcal had a horrible year offensively and can’t ask for more than 5-6 million a year, which the Cardinals can afford.  He is so important because of the way he changed the infield defense and he did improve the leadoff spot on this team.  If he commands a lot, you cancel his Visa and tell him to fuck off.  My feeling is he will stay here for not much money at all.   Dotel is a pitcher I like a lot, and loved when he came here in the Colby trade.  He shuts down righties(very good righty bats like Braun) and is a keeper.  His return has to cancel K-Mac’s and I am fine with that.  Pujols will be a good sign?  Jimmy, are we talking about the same player who has produced 11 magical seasons and stayed pretty damn healthy for those 11?  Why is he only a good sign?  He’s played 11 seasons for way under market value, less than your favorite player Holliday and he is only a good sign.  Once again, he deserves the golden deal and if he wants 5-7 years, I fucking hand him it on a silver platter with some salsa.  Who else deserves it?   The thing I have grown tiresome to me is Pujols’ age.  Why is he so suspected?  When 9/11 happened, every foreign baseball player was checked thoroughly and cleared.  Pujols goes back home to Dominican Republic every offseason and has the same VISA if he was older or not.  Why is this an issue?  Is it because Miguel Tejada was found to be a couple years older?  Well, guess what, his baseball ability is also 5 years older and done.  Pujols’ play hasn’t dropped and he stays in good shape.  It enrages me when people think he is 35 or 38 years old.  You know I say, prove it.  You know I question.  Russian hockey players like Ovechkin.  Where’s his passport at and his age?  Why is it that we only suspect Latin America players of age?  How old really was Ryan Franklin in spring training this year?  38 or 58 years old?   Albert Pujols is the age he says he is until….something can be proved in a court of law.   The Pujols rant had to be happen because I deal with people at work who suspect him of his age and it bothers me.   In the end, if the crowd seriously needs dirt on the man, no matter how old he is, as long as he stays productive(pretty nice “off” year in 2011), you pay him his money.   He is the face of the Cardinals and has done very well with his time in St. Louis.  A charity Robin Hood and a Ruth on the field.  Why is it hard to hand him the golden deal?  Skip, Dotel and Furcal are debatable.   Albert Pujols is not.   I have said this for years.  If Pujols wants to stay, he will stay.  He is the pilot of his own flight and control his own destiny.  No matter what he says, he calls the shots in his career, with or without an agent.  Hopefully, the Cards make it easy and offer him a deal that rivals Ryan Howard’s at the very least.  I have said this many times.  The Cards knew this day was coming and had to get themselves ready for it.   Come on now.  This is simple economics.  A smart team would have set him up with Holliday and lock down the future 3-4 spots of your lineup at once.  When asked last night about the Pujols situation and if he is staying I said this, “If you owned a piece of gold, would you let it walk away?”

I guarantee you that Holliday will come back with a fury in 2012.  For having missed 38 games, his 2011 stats were solid and he played on 2 sore legs for a month.  Ask any local sportswriter and no one is more respected in the Cards clubhouse than Holliday.  He plays the game hard and paid for it this year.   Before 2011, he never missed that much time to injury, averaging 155 games per season in his 6 year career.  Jimmy, you knock him and that’s your right, but I will say in stone that Holliday is a bargain in left after Crawford and Werth’s deals, and backs it up with his play.   However, Allen Craig provides a comfy backup plan if Holliday or Berk are hurt in 2012.

Also, Berkman has one more year left in him.   Unless he duplicates what he did last season, you can’t keep paying him 9 million a year.  He was great and I’m happy for him, but the best case scenario for this team is him in right field sharing time with Allen Craig.   Berk missed time this year to injury and doesn’t have 3-4 years left anywhere on the field.  He is an insurance body for Pujols but I’d rather see him playing 130 games in right field.  He proved he can play the outfield at his age in 2011.

Bring back Dotel and the group is solid.  Motte’s motion is dangerous, but he proved how effective he can be under the monsterous pressure of the postseason light.  This was his test and he passed it with flying colors.  He has the look, ability and age(how old is he behind that beard??).   His arm angle and motion are rough to say the least, but if he does miss time, Lance Lynn backs him up in the closer role.   The Cards, for the first time in years, have lots of great hard throwing arms in the bullpen in Sanchez, Lynn and Motte.  Salas is a key part and so is Rzep with ability to pitch more than a single inning.   Rhodes may come back for more dancing but I’m not thrilled about it.

La Russa will guide this ship until he decides to leave.  That’s been the rule since his arrival.   He stays until he wants to go.  You can’t argue with the results.   10 playoff appearances, 3 World Series trips, 2 titles, lots of great runs.   He can suck the ability out of a roster but also put it to good use.  While I wouldn’t cry over his departure, I’m fine with another dance as long as there are meds to take.

Game 6 was legendary.  The scoreboard would have made it bearable for everyone.  The best thing about those days were the surrounding support on the board.  We were shrinks for each other.   Those were the days.  I would have needed a horse to get home for all the alcohol and words sent in and out of my mouth.

Wrapping the head around a magical run will take time.   I am sitting here, talking about team without the true knowledge that THE ST LOUIS CARDINALS ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPS.  You see, it still doesn’t sound right…yet.   To me, we are still complaining and explaining as usual.   A few days from now I’ll understand that our team went on a magical run that started around September 14th and ended on October 28th.   45 days of great baseball that I will never forget.  Vinny has stories for a long time.
“Vinny, this would be the night that La Russa failed to remember who was throwing in the bullpen”
“This is the night where Carpenter shut down the opposition”
“This is the night where a former drunk and dropout David Freese lit up St. Louis.”
“Albert Pujols is a God among men.”

Troy’s sister Bianca told me he was up there making things hard on us just like old times, but that he would bring out a happy ending.   He is truly missed today.   I would have loved to include him in the text-email chain gang.

Fuck anyone who attempts to take our title away in 2012.  I like our chances.   Kudos to Ron Washington and the Rangers.  I don’t have a bad word for that team.   Except for Nolan Ryan needs to lose weight and the camera needs to stay away from his face.

So long because it’s time for breakfast,


World Series Intrigue(2 Part Blast)

The initial blast at 10am-

A mini Buffa Blast begins now…
Last night’s unbelievable comeback was the best game I have ever seen, scoreboard days or at home.   A 4.5 hour nail biting, frustrating, nailbiting and ultimately satisfying win.    Everything about the season came into play last night.   Horrible defense, bad starting pitching, a lack of early clutch hitting, and back and forth scoreboard changes.    The 2011 Cards showed up in full proof form and made us sweat until midnight.   David Freese, the hometown hero who gave up on baseball and came back to it only to arrive in St. Louis for the departed Jim Edmonds and become a World Series hero.  After dropping a pop up earlier in the game that led to a run, Freese redeemed himself in the greatest fashion.   Out of all the monsters in our lineup, who could have guessed the former alcoholic injury prone hometown kid would be the Rangers slayer.   If baseball was a video game, Freese wouldn’t be gaining points, he’d be winning back brain cells.   His home run was the greatest postseason home run since Jim Edmonds walkoff shot in Game 6 of the NLCS in 2004.  Down to their last strike twice, the Cards came back and won, 10-9 on two huge Freese hits and a Lance Berkman single.   I have a lot more to say and I will try here.  This will have to do.  Waking up this morning to a Game 7 was bittersweet.   Tonight brings elevated joy or a small collapse into sadness.  One thing is for sure.   I will never forget Game 6 from the 2011 World Series.  It will live on as one of the greatest of all time.  Buster Olney called it the greatest of all time.   Bill Simmons said he called the matchup of “Darren Oliver and Kyle Lohse in the 10th inning” all day.   Heroes are made in October.   David Freese became one this month.  

I love this team.   Everything about them.  Easily the greatest stretch of play I’ve seen in my lifetime.  On the biggest stage in sports, the Cardinals are coming up with some of the most dramatically entertaining baseball.   How about another round of calculated torture for the masses tonight?  Every Cardinal fan walks up to the bar of temptation today and asks for another drink.   One more drink and then I’m gone. 

Game 6 goats are Jaime Garcia for pitching 3 innings and handing back a lead.   Garcia threw 63 pitches through 3 and made several mistakes.   A rough end to his season.  Rangers starter Colby Lewis outpitched him.   Matt Holliday broke up a key double play at second in the 6th inning but dropped a crucial fly ball in left field and got picked off third base in a rally.   Holliday needs to sit tonight in favor of the hotter hitting Allen Craig, who hit a solo homer off Derek Holland in the 8th inning.  Albert Pujols wore the collar until he started the 9th inning rally with a double.  Jason Motte got beat for a 2 run homer in the 10th off Josh Hamilton.  Rafael Furcal continued his horrible hitting, failing to spark at the top of the lineup.   While I like him in there for defense, Furcal has to get on base to set up the big bats. 

Game 3 heroes, silent and loud.   After Freese, Berkman has 3 hits, including a 2 run homer in the first and a game tying single in the 10th inning.   Jake Westbrook pitched a scoreless 11th inning and picked up the win.   Tony La Russa managed a good game, pulled the right strings and didn’t overthink his motives tonight.  Well managed game from the dugout.  A bizarre Game 5 loss featuring some of Tony’s greatest demons produced an impressive Game 6 recovery. 

This team has been fighting for the last 7 weeks.   Being casted off in late August by everyone(including myself), left for dead and bleeding, the Cards stormed back to win the Wild Card, upset the Phillies and the Brewers, and have taken The Rangers, seeking their first World Series in 40 years, to Game 7 with lesser pitching, a hurting bullpen and a streaky lineup.   If this team doesn’t inspire you, there’s no blood running through your veins and pumping your heart my friends.   Game 6 decisions are what every kid dreams about as a kid, what every adult craves and what every writer(low key like myself included) dream to cover.  All I thought about last night after Freese’s homer sailed into the grass was the words I would use to describe it.   Let’s look ahead and end this thing.

What does Game 7 look like?  Good for the Cards.   Chris Carpenter is pitching tonight, and carries the shaved head bearded look of a man looking to close down the series.   Classic Carp needs to show up tonight.   Rangers players Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz hurt themselves last night and join the list of the walking wounded.    Ron Washington wore out his bullpen and roster last night.   He made some gutsy calls and they backfired, proving every decision by a manager comes down to the players backing up their thinking.    Opposing Carp is Game 3 starter Matt Harrison, whom the Cards beat up for 6 runs.   The tables aren’t set against the Rangers, but a common thought running through my head last night as we came back was, “If the Cards manage to win this game, Game 7 will seem like a walk in the park.”   You never know in baseball, so all bets are off.   However, if I had house money, it would be on the Cards.   They carry a Rocky mentality right now.  A never say die inner strength.  Every time they get knocked down, we think they are done and start wrapping up the season in our minds.  Then, like the Philidephia bruiser, this team gets back up, throws a big punch and gets back into the fight, asking for more.   The 2011 Cardinals are hard to count out because they are so hard to knock out.  

I said it before and I’ll say it again my friends.   This team wasn’t expected to win anything but now has the chance to win everything.   Amazing.  Unlike anything I’ve seen in my 29 years on this planet. 

Thanks for playing and Go Cards!

Tonight, we play for the prize.  The ultimate distinction of champion of your sport.  Do or die begins at 7pm.   Are you ready?  I am more than willing to sacrifice another night to the Rogues in Red. 

Let’s finish the job!

-Dan L. Buffa
aka Dream

The Follow up At 4pm-

Adron Chambers in for Matt Holliday for Game 7

A solid move based on the condition of Holliday, who left Thursday’s game with a bruised ego and sprained wrist.   Holliday has dealt with a variety of injuries all season, starting with an appendectomy in May, back issues August, leg injuries in September and a right hand issue in October.  The injuries have zapped his power(no homers in last 101 abs) and limited him heavily in the World Series, where he is 3-19 with a ton of runners left on base.   This isn’t a smack to Holliday, one of the better all around players in the game.  Missing 38 games in the regular season, Holliday still hit .296 with 22 home runs, 75 RBI, .388 on base percentage and 36 doubles.   He is a bargain in left field, especially after the Crawford and Werth retarded deals.   Holliday plays harder than anyone on the team and did everything he could.  Right now, he isn’t healthy, effective or the right choice.  He sits.  Chambers gives team speed and a decent at bat.

Chris Carpenter in for Game 7 against Harrison, offiically

Matt Harrison only allowed 3 earned runs on Saturday, but he threw 73 pitches in 3.2 innings and looked weak.  Harrison is a 4th arm in the rotation and went 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA in the regular season.  He hasn’t pitched over 5 innings in a start since early September.   Carpenter is working on 3 days rest but is still the best option for the Cards.   He is an intense competitor and will be able to adjust to a less than sharper array of pitches.   Carp is the general and he gets the ball because he carries the highest win probability on the Cards and shut the Rangers down in Game 1 and 5.   In 13 innings pitched in the World Series, Carp has allowed 4 earned runs and 11 hits to go with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks.  He is the better option over Lohse and Jackson, who produced little in their starts resembling quality.  Carpenter gives you an edge that can’t be prescribed per notice.

Remaining Factors

*Should Cruz have caught Holliday’s drive in right?  People are debating this IN ST. LOUIS this morning so much?  First thing, it was hit to the right field wall.  Cruz didn’t get a good jump and when he did jumped out for it, he missed it.   Why is this a big issue?  It worked out well for Cards and made Freese a temporary hero.  This should only catch fire in Texas.

*Again, Matt Holliday is hurt and can’t contribute much other than a walk at the plate.  He is banged up and that comes from playing a hard 9 every night.  He broke up a key double play in the 6th, drew 2 walks last night and while he was picked off third, his presence was felt.  When he left, we rallied but I miss him on the roster.  He had a rough 2011 season due to injury, something that didn’t affect him during 2009 and 2010, when he played 156 and 158 games respectively.  If Holliday is hurt and is ineffective, that’s the reason he is resting tonight.  He’ll be hungry in 2012 and his role may be a lot bigger.

*For all the people bashing Pujols, remember he started the rally in the 9th inning with a double.   Also, let’s stop the “Except for Game 3” slaps.  Its a valid point but remember what he did in Game 3.  He turned a 8-6 game into a 16-7 slaughter with 3 home runs.  For the ones who want to sit Albert because of his lack of hitting, don’t forget he is the complete package.   Defense, clutch hitting and an ability to take over a game.   Also, the ultimate team player.  See him on the top step of the dugout during rallies like a leader?  Albert Pujols is baseball, people.

*Watching last night’s game, you got the feeling that the Rangers were losing the grip on the game and their abilities.  Cruz fading back on the ball.   Washington pinch hitting for his best reliever Scott Feldman after letting Colby Lewis hit for himself earlier.  If Wash lets Feldman hit, the game is still tied but his best bullpen arm is still pitching.  Big loss of thought that brought up Wash’s lack of experience even when considering last year’s Rangers World Series trip.   The Cards got better as the game went along while the Rangers started to lose it.  That’s because the Rangers thought the game was won in the 9th inning.  After struggling to be dominant in the series, Naftali Feliz blew a save and his team unraveled.

*Allen Craig playing for Holliday is a plus because Craig is swinging a good bat right now.  He can work a long count and punish a mistake.  He homered in the first off Harrison in Game 3.  While hitting 2nd in front of Albert is a decent thought, keeping Craig’s bat down below in the 7th hole aka The Freese launch pad, is also deadly.  Think about.  Power down below.

*Lineup for the final game needs to roll like this.

Furcal-SS, Skip-CF, Pujols-lB, Berkman-RF, Freese-3B, Molina-C, Craig-LF, Theriot-2B, Carp-P

Enough with lefties facing lefties.   Skip is swinging a good bat and has a better arm in center than Jay.   Theriot gets the nod over Punto, who has had a terrible playoff at the plate.

*The greatest thing about winning Game 6 is hearing the chatter today.  Agree with it or not, it’s good to hear it around town.  Walking into a gas station and hearing about where people were at, talking to the UPS guy at work about him taking his son to it and telling the kid he could stay home from school or hearing the grocery ladies jabbering about the celebration.   The Cardinals are battling for the ultimate price.  Champions.  Love the talk around town about team.

I’ll say it again.  Win or lose, I love this team and what they have done.  The ride they have taken us on the past month will be hard to match next season or in the future.  From the cellar to the captain’s chair in 7 weeks.  Amazing.  This is something to remember tonight after the last out, win or lose.  Remember what this team did in 2011.  It means something.  Correction-It Means Everything.  It is better to have loved and got burned than not loved at all.

Play ball, ladies and gents.  Thanks for reading.  Take your meds, be patient and don’t quit on this team.   The population of Rangers jerseys and cheers early on last night told me a lot of Cards fans bailed on their seats with their team down 3-2.  They missed the greatest game of all time.  Don’t quit on this team until the final out.  They deserve the attention.

Tonight, it all ends.



South STL  Nerve Center aka Voice of the People