Brian Wilson Revisited/A Reason Cards fall is good/Blues Sale/More

Now that the smoke has cleared from the first day of work for the week, allow me to add a few things to last night’s epic run.   Consider this the epilogue to the initial madness.

More Brian Wilson

It’s hard to stop talking about one of the most chrismatic pitchers in the game.   If you missed last night’s section about the reason behind the post save celebration, here it is.

“While he is a crackerjack comedian in the clubhouse and a man who fully indulges in his cult legend status, a personal story drew me in last week.   After every save, Wilson turns away from home plate and crosses his arms in the air and looks to the sky.   At first glance, it looks like a religious ploy or a wrestling dedication.   In reality, Wilson is saluting his dad every time he does it.   As a youngster, Wilson lived in a military family and learned the game of baseball from his dad.  It was a rough upbringing with strict guidelines, but through his dad, Wilson crafted his future and became the man he is today.   At the age of 12, his dad took him for a drive and mixing humor with a tragic situation, told his son he had kidney cancer.   From 12 to 17 years of age, Brian Wilson didn’t see his dad much because he was driving around the country for cures and test trials.   At the age of 17, his dad beat kidney cancer and things looked up.  However, his dad developed brain cancer from the treatment that cured his kidney cancer, and he died soon after.   Wilson dedicates every save to his dad by making that gesture.   Watching Wilson tell it with such conviction and stone cold sadness, you see a side of the guy that you previously only guessed at.   It’s a revealatory episode and worth checking out.  The best moment is hearing Wilson tell the story as you see Wilson close out Game 5 of the World Series last winter against the Rangers.  He said he could only imagine what his dad would think, seeing all that hard work at a young age pay off.   With Wilson on the DL with a sore pitching elbow(he had Tommy John surgery in 2003), I’ll be rooting for his recovery and hoping to see the arms crossed again soon.   Wilson owns the most saves of any closer in MLB over the past 4 seasons to go with the colorful attitude.”

Here is a look at Wilson losing his cool and talking about what closers go through after blown saves.  Interesting because he doesn’t hold a thing back and unloads here.  Video joy, so suck it up full.

http://youtu.be/9UlmwcEIWUw

“As a closer, it’s embarassing to be taken out of the ninth inning.  It’s your job.  Win, lose or draw.  Go out there and get the win.  You’re the last man standing.   Well, I wasn’t the last man standing, so I was a little pissed off about it.”-Brian Wilson

“It’s a cooler.  It’s made of plastic. It’s fine.   We get a double play.  Giants win.  I’m over it.”-Brian Wilson beating up a cooler post blown save

A Reason The Cards Falling out of the Race Works for Me

In less than a month, I will be a dad.  There it is in a nutshell.   There’s one good reason the Cards are falling out of it.   Call it sappy or sentimental but understand it’s a real fucking statement.   What kind of dad would I be to give a halfass effort to my son the moment he is born during a playoff race?  Vincent doesn’t need a dad confounded and perplexed by a sport.  He needs a dad.  100 percent.  Full time.  The Cards will miss the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 years, the only year they won a playoff game being their Game 5 triumpg over the Detroit Tigers for their 10th World Series.  Since then, one playoff berth, zero wins and a load of disappointment.  It is what it is but the facts are hard to avoid.  The Cards will miss the playoffs but my son gets my full attention.   As Albert swings towards a contract, I learn to take care of a human being.   Believe me I won’t repeat a yearly Cubs fan sentiment, but this team lives to play another season with a different makeup.   Interesting future lies ahead, for me and the Cardinals.   That went well, right?

Blues Sale Pending

If David Checketts is smart, when Tom Stillman presents his offer, he will consider it heavily.   If Stillman’s offer is anywhere near the required amount  Checketts needs to give his investors the right parachute to jump out of this Blues hockey plane, he needs to take the deal, move on and get on with his life in another sport.  He needs to finish the deal here and give this team a fresh start.   Do what’s right for the city and your investors.   If they want out of hockey, tell them this is the last possible deal and the best it gets.   Plead to them to accept Stillman’s offer.  Tom Stillman is a good local personality who will take care of this team.   He is getting assistance from Cards President Bill DeWitt III and has friends in the right places and will push this team forward.   Business logistics are involved here for sure, but we can all hope Stillman’s offer today fits the mold crafted by Checketts and his handlers.   Walk the ransom money back to the big fish and get out while the plane is still hanging low.  Checketts brought the Blues back from the bottom of the barrel, reenergized the fan base and set the future up to be bright.  Now it’s time for the final piece to drop.

Chris Carpenter pitches for #9 tonight

For the first time this season, Chris Carpenter can go over the .500 mark in his record.   Carpenter has been one of the bright spots in a second half swoon for the team.  He is 7-1 in 11 starts since June 23rd, turning his season completely around after a 1-6 start.   If Jason Motte is the bright light in the bullpen, Carp is the ace once again of the rotation.   A dominating presence the past 2 months while sucking up innings in every start, Carp has made another comeback.  His ERA has shrunk from 5.00+ to 3.68 entering tonight’s game against the Dodgers.  He has accumulated 178.1 innings pitched in 26 starts, going 8 innings or more in 5 of his last 10 starts.   Carpenter’s best season was 2005, where he went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA, 7 CG, 4 shutouts, 213 strikeouts and 51 walks.   He is quietly racking up numbers this season with 2 complete games, 142 strikeouts to 44 walks.   Tonight, with win #9, Carpenter inches closer to another season of double digit wins.

Cards Mission for the Last 5 weeks

Figure out question marks for the offseason.   See what you have,  see what is expendable and what needs to stay next year.   Here is a quick checklist.

-Keep Albert.  Once again, you don’t let a piece of gold walk away.  His 2011 down year is still impressive for any other major league player.  He put on a hitting show last night, going 4-5 with a home run to close out a disappointing series in Wrigley.  He isn’t slowing down, but only pressing in a contract season.

-Examine Edwin Jackson this next month.  Is he worth a long term deal and do you want to keep him along with Carp and move Westbrook or Lohse?  Jackson is full of talent, only 28 years old, has a live arm and could fit comfortably into Busch Stadium pitching zones.   Will this kid put it all together?

-See how Rafael Furcal’s health holds up the rest of the season?  He is a vital defensive arm and quality leadoff guy, but be sure he is healthy for next season.

-Who stays and who goes at second base/utility position?  Can Daniel Descalso replace Skip Schumacher?  Ryan Theriot isn’t coming back.   Is Tony Cruz your new backup catcher in 2012?  Where does Allen Craig fit into the fold or is he trade bait?  Figure it out.

-What is Jason Motte’s role?  If a deal for Heath Bell falls through, do you give Motte another shot at the closer role?  Sure, he got a shot before Ryan Franklin took over in 2009 but he only got a brief look.   He blew 2 of 3 saves in the first part of April of 2009 and was hooked quickly.  Since then, he has refined a second pitch, is able to locate his 98 mph fastball and carries the look and mentality of a closer.  Motte can locate his propane heater and that is devastating for hitters to deal with in the 9th innings.   Consider it a laser with a target.  Motte is a strikeout pitcher who puts fires out right now, but can he be more?  I think so.

-See how greedy Lance Berkman gets.  Hopefully, Berk takes a 2 year deal here, gets a little security and allows Allen Craig to platoon with Jon Jay in center field.   Before this year, no team wanted any part of Berkman after he looked spent and finished in a horrible 2010 campaign that ended in pinstripe misery.   After the Astros rejected him, the Cards welcomed him and watched him put his career back together.  These two sides need to reward each other and get something done.  If not, don’t forget about Ryan Ludwick.

-Stop griping about Chris Perez’s amazing season in Cleveland.   There was no telling Perez would rise so quick as a shutdown closer in Cleveland and no telling he would of been great here.  Perez came up with plenty of pressure and faltered early in his Cardinals debut.  Going to Cleveland allowed the pressure to fall off and he excelled.  The Mark DeRosa trade bit the Cards hard but it’s time to move on.   Stop living in the past Cardinals fans.  The Cards will get a shutdown closer this offseason and put Fernando Salas back in a more versatile bullpen role.

That’s it on the Cards.

What’s on tap tonight?  Dinner with the wife, Cardinals baseball and a little Showtime series entertainment later on tonight.   Add in a shocktop or two and the night is set.  Today was a busy yet highly fulfilling day of work.   Worked out in the morning, worked a hard 8 at the warehouse today, ran at lunch and came right home after work.  Productivity deserves a rest at the end.   The curtain is falling on this message.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Buffa State of Mind

Ladies and gents,

I am here to point out a few things.   A power packed power point presentation with little leeway for negotiation.   This is the way I see things and while feedback is welcome, don’t forget this is an opinion or state of mind.  Read on my friends.

Why Watch the Cardinals Battle The Dodgers at Busch This Week-

 True fans watch until the last pitch is thrown.   People forget that the Cards finished hot last season and their record reached 10 games above .500 and they were only 5 games out after the last game.   This season could be a repeat.  This team could fall out of the race and put together a fine finish that means very little other than to slightly raise the morale of their fanbase.  I doubt La Russa will take Pujols, Molina, Holliday, Furcal or Freese out of the lineup.  However, he will implement AAA lineups more often.   You have to shoot Tony to prevent it from happening.  It’s his way of going with Mozelaik’s flow.  When Stavs, Tyler Greene and the rest of the average wild bunch show up, this lineup will get fucked straight up the asshole by La Russa and his genius scenarios.  Would you rather see him send this team into a tailspin with bad lineups and prompt his departure or see the team play very well just good enough to finish 2nd?  Interesting questions.  Those are the only kind of questions I like to ask here bitch.  As pointed out yesterday 34 times, this team needs to do the unthinkable to get into the playoffs.  Win 95 percent of their remaining games(30-32) and hope the Brewers or Braves lose.  The chances are as slim as one of Cooper’s neck hairs.  I do agree that salaries are being paid and players need to play.  I am just telling you what will happen.   Let’s try out something new.  Force players to earn their salaries with good performances.  If Pujols goes 0-4, pay him nothing and feed him dog food.  If  he blasts a pair of homers, give him his game check.  Just an idea to fire up these players.   The problem is I do think they are trying to win and giving effort, as most La Russa teams do.   Their talent level can’t reach their desire.   In the key areas(rotation, closer, shortstop, clutch production), this team failed.   The Cardinals will continue to put forth the effort to win games, just don’t plan on seeing too many wins because this team is bound to disappoint and frustrate every other game.   Alright, I’m at the point of strangling a small puppy, so I am stopping for now on “the team’s issues” department.

 On Lance Berkman’s Nickname, “Puma”

 According to a source this is a Berkman created nickname.  Lance made it up back in Houston.  Nicknames are a tricky business.  They are created and people accept them and run with them or call them stupid.  Popular opinion makes or breaks a nickname.  As dumb as they sound, the likeability determines the distance they travel and miles they reach.  I am not surprised Puma is a self made name.  Berkman is a character in that clubhouse, carries a decent sense of humor and keeps it loose in there with his hickory smart attitude.  Part of the signing had to do with returning a sense of ease to the clubhouse and this guy fit the bill.   The fact that he has pounded 28 HR and driven in 79 is a bonus.  I will call him whatever the moment selects.  At times I may call one of his home runs a “berk jerk” or I may just note that “Berkman got the job done”.   I like to keep you pale dudes on your heels.

Denis Leary’s Tweets

Leary’s tweets range from cynical bashing to borderline serious ideas.  You either find it funny or don’t.  I can’t SELL his humor to anybody, but I do think what the man has to say is worthy of a look if not an explanation.   Leary is topical and original and hits everything with his own irish spin.  I dig it.  Here’s his tweet today about 9/11.

 “NYC firefighters not invited to 10th anniv of 9/11 at Ground Zero.  They weren’t invited on that day in 2001 either.  They just showed up.” True of many souls, but topical since Leary carries a deep connection to the events and shares a family bond with firefighters in Boston and New York.   
 All his tweets don’t aim to engage  a laughing session.  He carries a Rollins disdain for authority and I’m a fan.  If someone said I tend to agree or like what Leary has to say, that wouldn’t be a false statement.    He is an irish soldier of cynical descent.  Take him or leave him.  As you know, I am taking him.
Soccer Passion
 No one is lame for liking soccer.  Men, relax and give the ladies their tampons back.  It’s all good.   While I don’t dip into soccer unless its World Cup action, I can admit the sport is fucking addicting.   The british announcer who called every World Cup game and does many of your league games is awesome.   And I actually loved the loud horn at the WC games, and almost implanted one in the house during the action.   A friend of mine likes the Arsenal team, which is owned by Rams Majority owner Stan Kroneke.  I’ll have to check out some of the Arsenal’s games as well.  Stan Kroneke put a ton of effort and manpower into acquiring that team and I appreciate the passion.  Both my good friends here in STL, Chris and RJ, are soccer nuts and I feel bad because while I understand and appreciate the game, I can’t really give any insight into their soccer rants.  However, there’s always tomorrow, so I might dive into some action this weekend.  When you are watching a game, text me and I will find it as well.   The world is full of surprises and those include engaging in new sports.  

 Helmets

Helmets are a safety weapon, but they do look very funny and only stand up in certain situations.  I respect the attitude and view here and will agree most of the time, helmets aren’t needed and don’t look good.   However, with the completely stupid drivers who roam the streets, sometimes a good helmet is needed.  The price you pay to be safe on the roads. 

 Bike Riding Maniacs
 Bike riders are a weird pack of self centered jackoffs. While I appreciate a good ride, I don’t take my ass through rush hour traffic. The thing I hate the most are the fuckers who ride down a skinny two lane(one in each direction) road and force me to move into the opposing side of traffic to get around him to avoid clipping his sorry ass. I also hate when they stick out their hands like human blinkers. If my name was Machete, I would carry a long knife and lean out and hack their arm off every time they did it.   Bike riders feel they are entitled to the road when they need to realize the Moving Mass of Metal OWNS THE ROAD.   Cars own the road.   When I run at lunch or in the morning, I stay away from cars and feel like tripping up bike riders.   The ones that wear all the Tour De France gear are comical loonies as well.  Hey, spaceman, since you have your suit on, why don’t you fondle my balls real quick before you ride down your path of righteous prickish activity.   Fuck bike riders who try to command a part of the road.   Run them off the road with any kind of automobile available.  Save the Dodge Challenger.  Use a mini van and take out 3 at a time.

The Green Movement

People, this is largely a pack of bullshit wrapped up into a phony batch of optimism. After a healthy chat with a close friend(whose name won’t be used but his input will), let me break it down for you.  Going green doesn’t help anything or won’t starve off global warming.   When you use electric cars, electricity is being used so natural energy is still being required.  Natural energy sources are still being depleted.  It’s a big joke to go hybrid unless you need a cheaper form of transportation.  You aren’t helping anyone.  Instead of proceeding with this phony element, lets look into creating alternate forms of energy.   There’s your ticket.  Instead of remaining in connection with and leaning on Iraq’s oil supply, lets create different sources of energy to power our cars that doesn’t included gas and doesn’t suck up electricity.  Create alternate types of useable energy and stop draining our original sources.   That’s the harder part no one wants to dip into.  It’s easier to pronounce green and run behind a fake brand.  Chris and I were giving Rachel, a recycling lady herself, a little hard time by examining the way water bottles are dispensed with. They are burned using Natural Heat, and that smoke goes into the air and pollutes the shit out of our living breathing area. There’s always a gain in revenue or commerce involved with the green movement. Corporations make tons of cash off of it. When Al Gore’s fat ass made the Inconvinent Truth(not the film about his three chins), he was looking out for himself as well. There’s no way to truly stop global warming.  The world is going to eventually come to an end and I will be there to take its biggest punch and won’t need a green environment to do so.   He made millions every time people bought phony carbon bonds.   Gore is a fraud who couldn’t beat a dumb hick for President, didn’t want to get a real job so he tackled global warming instead. Let me tell you something, Al Gore will be long gone from this world if it ever goes up in smoke. He doesn’t really care. Going green is a phony brand of optimism. The only reason I recycle is to keep Rae off my back. Its one of those things we disagree on yet I toss my beer bottle in the special can just to get her to shut the fuck up. Here’s my hope that The Sawtooth bottle survives extermination and becomes the leader of a small beer bottle pack. Id pay to see that.   Organic food is something I don’t get too excited about either.   Organic food tastes like shit and doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs.  I can eat a lean steak, a piece of chicken or grilled fish and get plenty of protein and vitamins while sucking down a glass of regular 2 percent milk to get my calcium and eat real mac and cheese for the pure taste.   Organic, like going green, is just another phony brand of commercial power.   It reminds me of the early days where people made up the idea of GOD, and told the dumb people to live like this and only eat this.  It’s an attempt at getting more money and power.   A classic power play.   Whole Foods Market is the biggest rip off joint.  Charging 9 dollars for a piece of organic germ free chicken.   Selling specialized fruit drinks at ridiculous prices that doesn’t give you more than a simple glass of orange juice.  The place to go for food(healthy, good tasting natural joy) is Sam’s.   Best bang for buck, especially if you eat a ton.   You can go to Sams and buy a monster package of Bacon, pack of shredded cheddar cheese and a pack of water for under 15 dollars and be set for a month.    There is nothing fucking organic about it.
So, yes, the green movement sucks and I wouldn’t mind jamming a bottle down one of these supreme optimists throats.  The Organic food raid is also a load of bullshit.

 Dick Vermeil visited the Rams at practice today.  
He also did some crying, to no one’s surprise.  That man brought us a Super Bowl, knows football, but man he loves to include the waterworks.  I always imagined him at Subway or McDonalds trying to order and just breaking down in tears.  “What would you like, sir”.  Dick-“I….could…use..something(crying incessantly).  Afterwards, the kid walks out with Vermeil’s arm around his shoulders telling him to go back to school and get an education or something.   Vermeil mastered the tough guy cry.  The slow fade from a regular face to a cracked expression to a breakdown.  I love Vermeil and all his emotion.   I wished he would of stayed after winning the Super Bowl and kept Mad Mike in the offensive coordinator booth.  He is like Herman Edwards with tears and emotion.  A hardcore football guy who truly knows his shit.  He rescued two franchises(Philly, Rams) and took them to the promise land. 

 Power packed episode of Rescue Me last week.  With the final season marching towards a 9/11 memorial session, last week’s hour ran a truck into a brick wall when it came to the infamous day.   After a few hours of tiptoeing around a touchy subject, we got a dose of pain.   The hour started with Gavin and his crew staring straight into the Ground Zero hole, and after it led to a wide open discussion of the need or lack of a need for a monument.  I know most of you are starting from the beginning but if you want a reason to dive into this series, last week’s 9/11 centered episode has the reach to pull you in.   After the guys meet at Ground Zero and stare into the abyss, they go to a diner.   At breakfast, the chief tells Gavin and the guys why memorials are overrated. One of the guys talks about there being no 9/11 memorial(there is now, two waterfall fountains with the names aligning the barrier above).   The Chief reminds them about the real way to remember someone and talks about going to look at the Vietnam wall and saying it didn’t do much for him and that he didn’t want to see the men’s names that served under him and died under him there.  Instead, he pulls out pictures of them and tells stories.  He tells them that you have remember the people’s deeds, their faces and what they died for instead of a fucking memorial/monument.   It hit me so hard because that’s what I said about Troy and keeping him alive through memory.  If you want, check it out on FX’s web site or on FX all week.  Its a great hour of television and doesn’t spoil much for a future beginner.

 While the Cards do suck, they are still watchable.  If you can withstand the torture, there is a reason to watch the Cards. Entertaiment value.  Win as many games as you can and see where you end up.  Playoffs or not, this team has perks.   Watch Pujols’ race to 40 HR, 100 RBI and a .300 BA so he gets the contract he deserves.   Walks or not, the mang is putting together a pretty good season and deserves to be paid for being the centerpiece here.   If anyone in baseball deserves a golden goose ride home, it’s Albert.  While not worth a 10 year/300 million dollar deal(pure suicide for a player at 32 yrs), he is worth the money of a long range deal.  When lost without hope, Albert is always fun to watch. 

 A technical reason to watch.  See how Edwin Jackson finishes, which determines his value next season. Jackson is an intriguing case of talent and misdirection in his career.   Will he ever be able to put the finishing touches on his power pack arsenal of pitches.  Take out the rough start in Milwaukee and Jackson has pitched capably for this team.   His situation effects the rotation after the season.   He is put into a pool with Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse.   Seeing how Jackson finishes determines what the Cardinals try to do with Lohse and/or Westbrook.  Will he stay or go? 

 Other Reasons

 If Berkman gets too greedy, reach out to Ryan Ludwick.  Ludwick will never put together the 30 HR/100 RBI seasons he did early in his Cards career, but he is still capable of driving in 90 runs, hitting .270, bashing 15-20 HR and playing a strong right field.   Berkman returned the favor to the Cards in performing higher than expectations, which means he may reach for a 3 year deal worth more money than the Cards can give.  After seeking a multi year deal in 2010, Ludwick’s status has taken a hit and he will come cheaper.   Lud played well in St. Louis and left too soon, and with the loss of Rasmus and potential loss of Berkman, Lud is an option. 

 If second base needs true fixing, reach out to Aaron Miles. Cheap options will need to be desired if we keep Pujols, Carp and Berkman and attempt to sign a closer.    Think about it.  While finding a true second baseman to team with Furcal, the Cards may have to downsize if they don’t keep Skip Schumacher.  Miles was a hit machine in St. Louis and is hitting .300 for the Dodgers this season as an everyday player. 

 What separates Cards and Brewers in the past 2 months?  Starting pitching.   The Brewers have plenty of it and the Cards’ rotation went soft in the second half of the season.   Since mid June, Cardinals starters haven’t reached the 7th inning on a regular basis or strung together quality starts.  The Brewers have thrived off their starting pitching, led by Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum.   Pitching has separated the top two teams in the NL Central.   This is an area where the Cards were handicapped early with the loss of Adam Wainwright, but struggled more with the demise of Kyle McClellan and Kyle Lohse to go with the mixed bag specials of Jake Westbrook and Edwin Jackson.   For the second season in a row, the Cards made an unsuccessful trade to patch up a bad injury.  In 2010, they traded for Westbrook, giving up Ludwick when Brad Penny went down in May.   This season, the Cards suffered the major loss of Waino and ended up trading Colby Rasmus for Jackson’s services, who has been decent yet unable to prop this team up and gas it up for a run. 

 Please don’t overlook the loss of Wainwright and the blown saves for the reason behind this team’s demise.   It’s hard for me to blame the offense too much with their rankings in runs scored and batting average.   While the lineup has been inconsistent, the real reason this team suffered in 2011 lies in the rotation and the bullpen being unable to finish games.  

 The Biggest Need(after signing AP)-A true closer.  Fernando Salas did a commendable job this season, and has closed 22 of 26 games and improved an early season rough spot.  However, this team needs a shutdown closer for 2012.  Since the malfunction of Isringhausen and Franklin’s ineffectiveness, the Cards have lacked a true closer and haven’t seen playoff success since the last time the ninth inning looked confident, which was back in 2006 with Adam Wainwright blazing a trail towards World Series glory.    Admit it or not, finding a closer is the biggest challenge this offseason if this team cares to contend.   Looking at a full season’s work, Salas would blow 6-8 games and that’s not going to work.   If it means handing serious cash to Heath Bell and going cheap in center, right and second base, do it.   Without a finishing touch, the starter and lineup mean little. 

More Offseason Ideas

 Carpenter is up for a 15 million dollar extension.   The Cards need to approach Carp and renegotiate a new 2 year extension, pulling the per year price tag down to 10 million per season and adding incentives.  Carpenter has proved he can still pitch at an elite level with his second half surge, but his extended rough patch drew up concern.   Look, Carpenter owes the Cards a couple years.  His arm blew out in 2007, and he was paid for 2007-2008 20 million dollars worth to make 5 starts as he healed from Tommy John surgery.   The Cards gave him a chance when no team wanted a look at him in 2004.   Business is business but he needs to remember the past here.  It does play a factor here.   Carp is an important piece of this team in the future, but he needs to rethink the dollars.

 Rafael Furcal, sprained thumb or not, has changed the infield defense drastically.  Add in Furcal and take out Theriot and the errors have decreased.   He adds wins to the rotation with his defensive range and offers pop at the top of the lineup in true leadoff fashion.   He is up for a 12 million dollar option as well, but the Cards and Furcal will be wise to sit down and figure out an extension that offers Furcal security but pays him less annually.   Furcal can hit .350 the rest of the way in 2011, but his season will be a huge downer and he needs to recognize his age and injury factor.   He is an elite defensive shortstop and can still offer offensive support as well, so this is something both sides must work out. 

 I’d rather not see Lohse for another season.   He is 11-7 with a decent ERA in 2011, but he simply isn’t a commodity any longer.  He starts hot and fizzles quickly.   He is a guy who struggles to get through a lineup the third time and hits a wall in most starts.   He had 6 wins in early June and has went 5-6 since with horrible results.   Take away offensive support and you see 2-3 wins drop off Lohse’s plate of accomplishments.   It’s an ugly situation that started with an overblown contract given to Lohse after one solid season in 2008.   3 years into a bad 4 year contract, Lohse seems expendable.  Jackson has age and potential over Lohse.   If Jackson finishes well, the Cards must find a way to work Lohse out of the equation via a drop or trade. 

 After dropping 2 of 3 over the weekend to the redhot Chicago Cubs at Wrigley, thus dropping out of the race completely, it’s fitting to look at the actual reasons the Cards failed to contend in 2011.   As one friend said today, just say they suck and be finished with the rant.   That is something I can’t and won’t do.   As the great Bill Simmons said, everything must be explored because every questions deserves an answer.  I must find out every reason why we won’t contend in 2011 because it makes things easier for me.  Being a diehard fan of a team is like being strapped to a bomb that takes a long time to explode.  You know by the middle of the ride up into the sky if it was right or wrong to stay this long.   Here are a list of reasons why the Cards aren’t a playoff team in 2011(with an assist from Bernie Miklasz)-

-135 double plays
-22 blown saves
-29-28 against weak NL Central
-Not good at home, going 16-25 since June
-bad defense overall, with too many errors on the infield
-An overall weak rotation
-Inconsistent bullpen(lots of changes, little consistency outside of Jason Motte)
-A Down year from AP
-Milwaukee improvement

 The Cards aren’t good enough.   Look at the Cubs series.  If the Big 3 don’t hit, the team loses.   Pujols, Holliday and Berkman went a combined 1-14 in the two losses on Friday and Saturday.  They found ways to win without them in the first half of the season.   On Sunday, the Big 3 combined for 7 hits, 8 plate appearances in 15 at bats and the Cards won 6-2.   The home run is playing too much of a part in the Cardinals attack in the second half.  After the first half saw manufactured runs, the Cards hit for their wins or drown in defeat.   On Sunday, they hit 4 home runs and won.  On Saturday, they hit zero and got shut out.   The Cards blew two crucial games this week on Wednesday and Friday.   Blown saves, a reliance on the home run, and a lack of overpowering starting pitching make a recipe for unsuccessful baseball.   The Cardinals are 8.5 games out of first place in the Central and 9 games out of the wildcard race.    I won’t tell you to prepare for football and hockey just yet, but if you are wondering about Busch Stadium action in October, it better include a tour or grounds crew work.  

 Moving on to more positive ground-

 The Blues owner Dave Checketts set a deadline for today for prospective buyers to present an offer to buy the team.   That doesn’t mean he will see an offer he likes or will be accepting something soon.   An intriguing game I am playing is wondering which I will see first this year.  A new Blues owner or David Perron playing a shift in a real game for this team.   With Monday’s deadline set and 2-3 potential buyers stalking Scottrade, I will stick with my early guess and pick new owners before Perron action.   This team has plenty of young talent and a balanced roster and a future upside to go with sold out home games, so a money man has to come in sooner rather than later.  Right???

 The Rams looked impressive..and shaky on Saturday in their 17-16 win over the Titans.   Sam Bradford fired a 83 yard touchdown pass early and finished 7-15 for 40 yards the rest of the first quarter while Aj Feeley tossed a touchdown pass to Donnie Avery in the third quarter.  Steven Jackson only ran for 10 yards on 6 carries, showing zero signs of impersonating a semi truck.   The Rams run defense got shredded for 200 yards by a Tennessee running game that lacked Chris Johnson.   The Rams secondary looked shaky while recording their 3rd interception of the preseason.   However, Rams 3rd string QB Thaddeus Lewis enginneered an impressive 2 minute warning drive to set up Josh Brown for a 42 yard game winning field goal as time expired, giving the Rams another win.   Preseason games are meaningless in wins or losses, but more capable to set a winning mentality that is a good sign for this team.   If the games are meaningless, the forward progress of a young team working with new parts, a shortened schedule and a 2nd year savior quarterback is good to see. 

-Here are other thoughts on this team.

*Bradford is the man to lead this team to another Super Bowl.   Look into this kid’s eyes and you see intelligience, a will to win and a drive that few young quarterbacks can own up to in this league.   When we selected him, I was skeptical about his health and long term tolerability to the fast strict game of this profession, but he has impressed me in his 1 year plus time in a Rams uniform.  The playoff hopes fall directly on his shoulders and I think he is up to the challenge.  It isn’t about the money with this kid.   Ask him how he did Saturday and he will tell you he did pretty bad, because the kid demands excellence and that is a winning mentality this team is wisely building around.

*The Rams proved they could bounce back from a rough defensive night and an average night from their main man in order to steal a win.   Lewis intrigues at the 3rd QB spot. 

*Failing to keep WR Mark Clayton could come back to harm this team if Avery or Danario Alexander don’t hold up to a 16 game schedule or barely escape the first 6 games.   Clayton was a legit playmaker before hurting his knee last season, and letting him walk to New England wasn’t a smart move. 

*Josh Brown is living up to his potential as the “big clutch foot” in late spots.   Rams fans know this guy from his triumphs with the Seahawks earlier in his career, but he is settling in here in St. Louis as a reliable late game kicker.  He booted a 60 yarder last week against the Colts to go with 3 other field goals, and on Saturday kicked 2 game winning 42 yard bombs in the 4th quarter.  After Titans coach Mike Munchak chose to freeze Brown after his first kick, Brown fired a dead center winner.  On a team learning a new offense and carrying a suspect defense, there will be close games in 2011 and my money is on Brown winning a few games for this team with his right foot. 

*The Rams running game looks strong, albeit with Jackson’s light workload.   Cadillac Williams continues to impress and will form an unstoppable unit with Jackson and Norwood.   Will all 3 hold up?  The acquisitions of Williams and Norwood was a pure injury proof move.  

*There is so much to like about James Lauranitis that it’s hard to find a starting spot.   He commands the defense, looks to improve in his 3rd season and is only getting better.   Lauranitis is a leader and took control in his rookie season.  He works harder than anybody on this team and also carries a humble head on his shoulders.   The Rams defense requires a center piece and James has fallen right into that spot and will pay off hugely in incorporating Zach Diles into the unit.   Lauranitis is a surefire fan favorite and for good reason.  The kid is 100 percent blue collar hard work personified.

Preseason or not, the Rams look intriguing and easily the strongest team in the NFC West.  However, a potential tortureous first half of the season awaits and the second half doesn’t let up too much, so they must continue to improve and make themselves legit.  Progress doesn’t have strong legs. 

The Little League World Series probably doesn’t belong on national television but I will be honest and say I have watched a few innings this weekend.   Some of the kids have real talent and will be names that see big league action in the future.   It’s a change of pace to watch kids play the game for the pure joy of winning before the horror sets in the form of real potential. 

There are movies to see at the theater, but I haven’t made it to one in a couple weeks due to money cutbacks and a lack of a “must see” film.   Fright Night looks fun simply for the joy of watching talented actor Colin Farrell take another page from the unpredictable book in playing a blood thirsty comedy delivering vampire, but it isn’t worth 9 dollars.   One Day, starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, is a thoughtful love story about two people who run into each other on July 15th every year no matter what, but it too isn’t worth 9 dollars.   What is worth 9 dollars?  Right now, nothing.   30 Minutes or Less carries a potentially funny scheme in seeing Jesse Eisenberg running around with a strapped bomb from the director of Zombieland, but it doesn’t look compact enough.  With age comes careful selections in theaters, and becoming a dad limits the cash flow.   I will be arriving in a theater some time soon and you will be the first to know, but lately I am content watching First Blood(the best Rambo film by far) on Cinemax HD and rewatching Ben Affleck’s heartfelt cops/robbers Boston tale The Town on HBO HD.   Until then, feel free to send me a movie review or reason to go to the movies.  The Changeup is the funniest film I have seen in 2011(with a small edge over Horrible Bosses and Hangover 2) and it was the last film I saw.   Help wanted but not needed here.

After watching another episode of the Franchise, A Season With the Giants, I have a newfound respect for Brian Wilson.  While he is a crackerjack comedian in the clubhouse and a man who fully indulges in his cult legend status, a personal story drew me in last week.   After every save, Wilson turns away from home plate and crosses his arms in the air and looks to the sky.   At first glance, it looks like a religious ploy or a wrestling dedication.   In reality, Wilson is saluting his dad every time he does it.   As a youngster, Wilson lived in a military family and learned the game of baseball from his dad.  It was a rough upbringing with strict guidelines, but through his dad, Wilson crafted his future and became the man he is today.   At the age of 12, his dad took him for a drive and mixing humor with a tragic situation, told his son he had kidney cancer.   From 12 to 17 years of age, Brian Wilson didn’t see his dad much because he was driving around the country for cures and test trials.   At the age of 17, his dad beat kidney cancer and things looked up.  However, his dad developed brain cancer from the treatment that cured his kidney cancer, and he died soon after.   Wilson dedicates every save to his dad by making that gesture.   Watching Wilson tell it with such conviction and stone cold sadness, you see a side of the guy that you previously only guessed at.   It’s a revealatory episode and worth checking out.  The best moment is hearing Wilson tell the story as you see Wilson close out Game 5 of the World Series last winter against the Rangers.  He said he could only imagine what his dad would think, seeing all that hard work at a young age pay off.   With Wilson on the DL with a sore pitching elbow(he had Tommy John surgery in 2003), I’ll be rooting for his recovery and hoping to see the arms crossed again soon.   Wilson owns the most saves of any closer in MLB over the past 4 seasons to go with the colorful attitude.

Music Choice of the Week-The Black Keys, rocking an old blues rock bleeder here on their older record, Rubber Factory, singing the tune “Keep Me”.   Starting off with wicked blues guitar followed by a creeping croon from lead singer Dan Auerbach, this song works on every note.  From the opening guitar riff to the last scream of desperate joy, its first class action here.   Enjoy.

http://youtu.be/z2S5xHMyvLo

What else is there?

  • Terrell Pryor will lose 4 games but will be selected by an NFL team in need of a new spark this season.   Count the Seahawks, 49ers and Colts as players. 
  • The Arsenal Soccer team is in the process of cutting and players, much to the disliking of the fan base.  Head coach Arsene Wenger maintains that he isn’t stubborn but simply wants to buy the right players for a playoff push in the Premier League.   The Gunners are trying to keep up with the so called Yankees of Soccer, Barcelona, and that is never easy.   After losing 2-0 to Liverpool on Saturday, patience is growing thinner with each game but from my point of view, Wenger is holding firm as he deals with player injuries and suspensions. 
  • Plaxico Burress caught a TD pass from Mark Sanchez for the Jets on Sunday.   Who cares?  Did people really think the guy lost all his skills in 2 years?  Burress biggest challenge will be to maintain a good player/teammate conduct after a career of trouble.   Before he shot himself in the leg, Burress struggled to make team practices and meet player conduct rules in New York.   Now that he has crossed into Brooklyn, he needs to turn his attitude around and keep his play up. 
  • Novak Djokovic exits a Cincinnati tournament with shoulder pain.  That is what happens after you win several majors and over 45 matches in 2011. 
  • Jared Weaver gets a new 5 year, 85 million dollar contract from The Los Angeles Angels.   At the age of 28, this is a strong move from LA, making a claim to keep their ace pitcher under wraps until he is into his early 30’s.   In 6 seasons with the Angels, Weaver is 78-45 with a 3.30 ERA, including a 14-6 record with a 2.10 ERA in 2011.  A solid move.   5 years is a long deal for a pitcher but with Weaver’s age and effectiveness, it works. 
  • Rick Rypien, a 27 year old NHL enforcer/grinder, died on Thursday.   He was found dead due to a “sudden and non suspicious” death that looked like suicide at first glance, due to Rypien’s life long struggle with depression.   Many dismiss the disease as an excuse, but having lived close to it with a loved one’s struggles with it, I understand its power fully.   Depression is a powerful disease that can only be limited and slightly controlled with medicine.  Rypien’s career was looking up, as he left Vancover for a 1 year deal with the Winnipeg Jets.   Teammates and friends thought the player had his disease in control and were shocked to hear of his death.  RR was a tough player, usually fighting bigger enforcers and coming out on the winning end.  He was a hard worker and worthy teammate and player.   We may never know what really happened but when the details do arrive, the loss will still sting.  After Derek Boogard died of a lethal drug overdose, the NHL loses another young hockey player with plenty of life left.   Life is a son of a bitch no matter how you slice it. 
  • Daddy Blog Entry-There is now 4 weeks or less until my son arrives at St. Johns Hospital.   There are no words for the prep and no rest for the weary.  All I can do is wait, learn, listen and get ready for the test of a lifetime.  While we all get up every time and hope to keep ourselves in one piece, my journey of responsibility starts this fall in keeping track of a human being.  If my son is anything like me, he is going to express his opinion, move endlessly and stop at nothing to get his way.   The challenge is teaching him good values, good morals and preparing him for his trek of meaning.   While I have found work and passion in life, my goal is to help him locate it as well.   A father always wants his son to do greater things than himself.   With each version we make in this life, improvement must be made.   If that means him rocking the banjo or swinging a baseball bat or wielding jurisdiction in a courtroom or firehouse, I will be happy.   The process begins in less than a month.   I am both scared shitless and excited at what the next year brings.  My life is getting ready to REALLY change.  You can’t write this shit.   What if my son is born on 9/11/11?  Theories. 

With that final burst of thought, this latest Buffa State of Mind session is coming to a close.  Pulling the curtain down and laying the hands to rest for a few.   Until next time, thanks for reading and goodnight.  I didn’t expect this message to blow your face off but I do expect this blog to hit you straight in the forehead and get you thinking. 

DLB

The St. Louis Cardinals Obituary Notice

This is going to be a full blooded Cards rant.  There will be no other topics here except for the Cardinals.  If you don’t like the Cards, don’t care about them, like the Blues more or anticipate the Rams, please disregard this message.  For those of you looking for answers, need an ending statement and crave the details of Cardinals baseball, do me a favor and read on.  I withhold nothing here, so enjoy.  Just don’t whine about the Cards heavy action here.  We wear caps and sleeves in this league, people.  Lets roll.

I am framing this message in bloody crimson because that is all the nurses saw last
night at PNC Park. The river’s ran red with Cardinal blood last night in Pittsburgh my friends.
I will withhold my official mourning section until the end of the season just so I don’t coincide with your depressing statement, but from park to park this team shall know that it dropped the fucking ball big time. Taking a page from my family’s hospital background, I will say the
surgeons and doctors pronounced this team dead at 1930 hours last night due to
a bleed in the coronary. Highly unfortunate and sad, the 2011 Redbirds saw hope
fleetingly and crashed horribly. While the collapse was similiar to previous
seasons, this pain had a feeling that hit the psyche fresh and unexpected.
Alright, I am really hurting so I am going to put down the Dexter knife set,
refuse to harm others, and simply respond here. I do hate guys named Todd.

You know the drill.  I bring the news.  You take what you choose and the world keeps moving.   Lets keep it rolling here.  I’m not going to make this quick.

It’s August 17th and I can you one thing, Cardinals fans.  The St. Louis Cardinals playoff hopes are dead.  This team is alive, but their chances of the ultimate goal, the playoffs and a World Series, are gone.  Similiar to previous collapses(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), this fall carried its own blend of torture.   With 37 games to play and more than a month left on the schedule, one could make the mention that there is still time to pull everything together.   However, a more logical sports mind, a person who watches each game and knows this team well, can say the 2011 Cardinals team is finished.  There’s simply no other way to put it.   This team doesn’t have the pieces to make a comeback in the Central Division.   I don’t like open ended statements, so I’ll provide a few reasons.  </strong>

*There were two things the Cardinals couldn’t afford to do the rest of the season.   Blow a save and lose in walk fashion.   Both happened on Tuesday night.   There were good elements to the game.  Chris Carpenter struck out 10, threw 100 pitches, and fired off 7 solid innings that included only one 3 run mistake pitch.   The Cards rebounded from an early 3-1 deficit and took the lead 4-3 on a Matt Holliday sac fly in the ninth inning.   Fernando Salas came to the mound, threw a first pitch fastball against Neil Walker, and Walker sent it into the right field seats to tie the game.   It was Salas’ fourth blown save in 26 chances(not good, not bad) and it was a backbreaker.  After two more innings of the Pirates putting two runners on base and nearly winning, Arthur Rhodes gave up a solo home run to Garrett Jones in the 11th inning.   Pirates win, 5-4.  Game, set, match. 

*The lights have gone out in this building folks.  With two swings, the Pirates effectively severed the Cardinals chances.   Once again, the Pirates team who got swept over the weekend by the Brewers while only scoring 3 runs in 28 innings have scored 11 runs in 20 innings against the Cardinals.  When you lose to teams that painfully down on their luck, the result needs to be a victory.  The Cards came into this series needing a sweep or at the very least, a series win.   They leave tomorrow with a series loss, no matter the outcome tonight.   That’s a rough situation, where the outcome of tonight’s game figures very little into the overall equation.  The Cardinals dug this hole themselves, climbed down into it, and are telling another person to toss dirt on them.  This season is quickly slipping away and while its hard to announce, the chances of their recovery are slim to none. 

I have never been one to point out that preseason football is here, so lets dismiss baseball.   A diehard fan never looks away until all hope is lost.  At this point, however, the Cardinals just don’t look strong enough or capable of turning this trainwreck down.  Unless they can fire off a 5-10 game winning streak, The 2011 Cardinals are dead on arrival.  The hope was to make the next 6 games against Milwaukee mean something.  Now that doesn’t seem very likely.

Thinking back to April and the early deficit the Cardinals faced, its a tough realization but not a surprising one.  While I stored faith in this team, the idea of a Brewers run never left my mind. 

Looking at the Brewers, its easy to understand.
-Good lineup
-Solid rotation with 3 guns
-Shut down bullpen
-Playing well at the right time
In middle of a dogfight, Brewers are dominating while only scoring 2-3 runs a game.  The Pitching is carrying the stick there. 

The Cards lead MLB with 133 double plays and are second in blown saves with 21.   Small hints of a demise that also leads to the back end of their rotation looking vulnerable with Jackson, Lohse and Westbrook.  Combined, they are 29-24, which isn’t good or bad but a sign of early season success for at least Lohse. 

The struggles of Pujols, Salas, the rotation and the average defense only lead to one realization.   The 2011 Cards simply aren’t good enough.

Good things from last night-
*Albert has 30 HR and will reach 100 RBI and might even hit .300.
*Rafael Furcal is a game changing defensive shortstop with pop.  First legit shortstop for Cards in 4 yrs.
*Carpenter looks sharp and will finish strong. 

Bad thing-With 37 games left, we face a 7 game deficit and can’t beat the Pirates.

Result-Goodnight Cards….at least for a while. 

*Tony La Russa deserves blame for putting old hand Arthur Rhodes back out there for his second inning in the 11th.  Rhodes was never built to throw 2 innings and was a victim of bad TLR decision making.  La Russa does that in order to preserve pitchers for later or the next game when the reality is he should be managing every game like its Game 7 of the World Series.  Don’t worry about tomorrow or the next day.  Worry about this game only.  La Russa’s run could be coming to an end. He had K-Mac, Boggs and Rzep back there. All hands on deck in a must win game. La Russa continually makes moves that I know are wrong.  That’s not good.  Don’t forget about Octavio Dotel who can pitch 2 innings as well.

This is like figuring out a cause of death and for this team its easy. Bad Management and waste of opportunity.

*The Braves won so each deficit is 7 games. 

*Things got so bad last night Chris and I were comparing Pujols to a latino gangster. 
Walking around bases”do you know who I am?  I am Jose Alberto Pujols.  I piss salsa and shit guacamole!  Close your eyes and I make a chimichanga.  Joddy, pull up the car!”

Using bullets to finish the carnage here-I wasn’t lying when I called this a blood soaked Cardinals rant.

  • Albert Pujols deserves top dollar but I hope the Cards dont give him an
    A-Rod type contract worth 10 years and too much money. That is setting yourself
    up to fail. Bad business. 5-7 years at 26-28 million per season with incentives
    is fine for both sides. While Albert deserves the bank, he has said his entire
    career he wants the team to field a competitive team and asking for more would
    hurt those chances. Once again, it will come down to Albert wanting to stay
    put. Take the agent, numbers and future away. If he holds his word, he’ll stay.
    The Cardinals would be stupid to low ball him after the season, especially if
    he dominates like a Dominican Mobster with a lethal weapon in his hand. Pujols
    means more to this franchise than home runs and RBI. As he approaches the end
    of his career, he will begin to achieve various milestones like 3,000 hits and
    600 HR. AP will mean more to this team than production. His name will only
    bring this team more cash as he gets older. 2011 was an offseason but if he
    maintains the on/off pace, he still ends up with 38 HR, 100 RBI and a .290 BA.
    Pretty good to me, but falling below AP standards.
  • What’s the latest on Berkman or Jerky Berk, Slinging Lance, Puma Cock? So what if it was stolen from one of the nicknames given to Tiger Woods cock? Berkman is having a great year and deserves a healthy extension. I am all for giving this guy 2 years but nothing more than that. He is only getting older and will become very injury prone after 2013. 2 years at 12 million per is
    perfect. His season has been very impressive and easily trumped his past 2
    years. While his power stats have declined in the second half, he is still
    hitting .295 and after one more visit to Houston, can easily launch his numbers
    to 35 HR and 100 RBI. Imagine getting that for only 8 million? Ryan Ludwick,
    who? Keeping is a priority but will be tricky. Since we have AP to sign and
    Carp to keep, money has to be divided reasonably. AP is #1 as far as offseason
    goals, so hopefully Berk waits.
  • Skip has put together a very good second half, raising his batting
    average to .294 while playing average defense. However, his 2 million per season
    will be off the table and unless he wants to come back at a lower salary, he
    will walk. Descalso can replace his production or close to it with a 1/3 of the
    money.
  • The decline of this team. Pitching and hitting never really
    got into bed with each other at the same time in 2011. The pitching was hot
    early, the bullpen was horrible early and got fixed, the hitting has been
    relatively strong all season but fallen asleep on important nights. The clutch
    all around performance has went missing at the crucial hours. All in all, a
    team that simply can’t put it all together.
  • TLR will make his choice in the winter but I hope he considers it
    thoroughly. Look, what he has done in the 15 seasons in Cardinal red is
    remarkable and very consistent. 9 playoff appearances, 2 World Series and
    “always in it” competitiveness with makeshift rosters is skillful
    work. While the rest of the NL Central has experiences overturned rosters, many
    managing changes and reworks, the La Russa Factory has stayed open for business.
    However, his little genius moves are nagging and he constantly has to outsmart
    himself. For a fan, it’s grinding. I am all for Jose Qquendo to take over. Jose
    has resisted the urge to sign elsewhere or is waiting for Tony to step down. He
    gets the vote over Joe Pettini because he has the respect of the players and
    is a smart baseball guy. Also, secretly, we will find out he is the father of Albert and
    Joddy.
  • Finding a second basemen hinges on the signings of AP, Berk, and Carp.
    The Cards could look for a trade with a team, handing over a
    prospect/Lohse/Westbrook in return for a halfway decent second basemen. It
    would be nice to stop the carousel.
  • Keeping Furcal is very important, especially if he reworks his 12
    million dollar option after a down year. Furcal is Duncan pitching staff
    friendly. He makes plays few shortstops can make with his cannon arm and range.
    His hitting will tap out at .280 BA with some pop and 140 hits, and I will take
    that for the defensive upgrade.
  • Keep this in mind about Skip. He got better as the year went on while
    Ryan Theriot got worse. That’s the exit door for the Riot. It also helped
    Theriot to get off Shortstop because he was really bad there.
  • What does “out of it with 37 games left” really mean? That
    means the Cards have to pull off the impossible. They have to do what they
    haven’t be able to do all season. Put together a 7-8 game winning streak and
    hope the Brewers decline. That’s what it will take in order to come back to
    life. That legitimizes why we say they are done because they seem to be
    incapable of putting together a solid winning streak.
  • The Brewers are 18-2 in the past three weeks. Hard to keep up with
    that. They are clicking at the right time. The Preseason favorites are holding
    up the piece of paper of their potential and making it stick. The Brewers have
    the glue that the Cards lack.
  • Jeff Gordon summed it up well. The Cards are a good team that creates
    plenty of bad moments. A true letdown squad.
  • The Mang/Dream session created blog yesterday had its hits and misses but you
    have to love the varied topical range it carried. As I noted, when Pj and I go head
    to head, great material falls to the keyboard like fresh fruit. I take
    advantage of a good back and forth ranting session between two true blue
    maniacs.
  • I agree that Jon Jay/Allen Craig will work in center field. Don’t
    forget about Skip in the outfield either. He is a better defensively outfielder
    than both(very good arm and range) and has caught Jon Jay in batting average
    and hits while missing 26 games. You can’t hand it to Jay and Craig. Mix Skip
    in there, especially if you find a second basemen. I do agree that center field
    is a low cost area.
  • I won’t say this team is 100 percent finished because they
    are just frustrating enough to put together a small run and stay alive RIGHT as
    we count them out. You aren’t 100 percent finished until the magic number runs
    out. However, the party is over and the mexican cleaning crew can start picking
    up the trash for sure. Let’s put it this way, I won’t HAVE to watch the game
    tonight. It will be an option so Rae can watch her shows. The urgency is gone
    in this team so my urgency to watch them has went down considerably.
  • The fact that they blew last night’s game when they only
    needed 3 outs to get it done hurts the most. Last night’s debacle is a true
    symbol of this team. They carry the potential to win but don’t contain the
    shutdown pieces(CLOSER, CLOSER, CLOSER) to seal the deal enough. Blue balls is
    the case here. The best way to say it is this way. They had the chance to stay
    alive(barely) and they really blew it.
  • Fernando Salas isn’t your closer for next year. This team needs a legit closer. Chase Health Bell if you have to(the man is money the past 2 years for the Padres weak hitting team). Salas
    isn’t made to be a closer, was thrown into the role, pitched decent with
    setbacks and doesn’t have the high propane heater or devastating offspeed pitch
    to notch 35 plus saves. This team needs a true anchor in the bullpen. After
    Albert, Berk, Carp, the need for a closer sits right behind those other open
    ended problems.
  • The only reason to watch this team is to see what Albert can
    end up with, see how many wins Carp gets and wonder if Holliday and Berkman can
    finish with solid stats as well. What we are looking for is players keeping up
    a level of play while the overall record dips below acceptable. The crazy thing
    about this team is that we are playing better than we did in July, and could
    easily finish 12-14 games over .500 and still not make the playoffs. Individual
    stats is the reason to watch. I downloaded an app last week that notifies me
    every time the Cards score, so that will tie me to this team for the remainder
    of the season.
  • The Cardinals did lack a true Ace starter, lost AP for 2
    weeks, lost Holliday for a month, Freese for 2 months, Skip for a month, had
    Theriot at short for too long, got zero from Colby and only retained Yadi as a
    solid year long starter. They also didn’t have a solid layered bullpen until
    late July and didn’t carry a great closer. It’s amazing they stayed competitive
    until last week.

One More Thing folks.  Do you know who I am? Some call me Albert, but my name is Jose Alberto Pujols, and I sling my cobra dick wherever the ladies prefer. Close your eyes and
you’ll see what I can do. I’m dreaming up a cartoon with AP and Yadi as the
protagonists and Albert haters as the bad guys. Several age, steroid and
production issues follow as they fight crime to teach people they are legit in
their actions.
My mind never stops working, but my hands will be done for now. Time to clean up,
get ready to relax, browse over the Redbird action, and prepare for another
thrilling hour of Rescue Me. With only 4 episodes left, every hour is crucial
in this landmark series. Great television is a mood boost. Getting lost in the
fictional fantasy takes you away from the pains of reality like the Cards
descent.

My work here is done.  Thanks for playing and have a good night.

-Dan Buffa

aka A Blunt Gentleman

The Work of a Blunt Gentleman

Some say I’m nice and some say I am a little blunt for their taste.   All I can do is be myself.   As the last bit of Tuesday rolls off the table, here are some thoughts for you to consider.   Reading my rants is like listening to a maniac before being thrown from a plane.   When you hit the ground, you remember what you want.  Here we go in list format.  If my previous rants carried a certain order, this one will maintain zero sign of organization.  Completely random and off the top of my head but heavily taken from my all day conversation with Pj The Mang Nolan today in his response to my previous blogs.   When PJ and I go head to head, ambulances don’t even bother because the level of dialogue is so high and dangerous that help isn’t wanted.  The guy brings out the best in me.  Here are some excerpts and additions from our conversation today.

Dexter, Season 5 comes to DVD-I liked the last season of Dexter because it was a change of pace.  For once, Dexter connected with someone who shared the will to kill for a reason.  It was fleeting, but I liked the different look.   Following Trinity, the bar was impossible to meet so I think they did fine.  As long as it stays par for the course, this series is a cut(wink wink bitch) above the rest.  Seasons 1 and 4 were the best because they contained the best story and finale.   Season 6 finds Dexter free at last to battle the bad guys again.  Remember, Dexter goes killing, not hunting, in this world.  Something to look forward to.  As shows gets older, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Just keep delivering the goods.

Sam the Ram is an easy name to hate but I don’t think it’s that bad.   What’s better?   Sammy Rocket?  Bradford Special?  How about this nickname?  The Oklahoma kid.   Simple, majestic or elegant.  Pick a poison.  I am also cool with calling him Sam Bradford.  As long as he slings touchdowns and wins games with his ability, I don’t care what people call him.  Sam the Ram was first printed in the Post and I have the newspaper because it was the next day after the draft and it had all the stories  However, every star doesn’t require a nickname in order to craft a legend.   We incorporated part of Pujols’ speech into his nickname and it stuck.   Prince Albert is retarded.  Don’t ever say that again or I will give you one of Taylor’s hats.

The Blues have a slightly higher chance to contend in the Western Conference, but still need to prove they can play well through the middle part of the schedule.  Will anyone become homicidal if Jonathon Cheechoo makes the Blues team and every time he scores, a train horn fires off inside Scottrade Center.  “Its the Cheechoo Train, baby”.

Albert Pujols, as we have both pointed out, is swinging at more pitches out of the zone, increasing his out potential and decreasing his walks.  During the four games against Florida and four games over the weekend, he showed amazing ability to resist the urge to reach.   Can he keep it up?  Entering his holy ground of baseball destruction in PNC Park, I see it happening.   After, who knows?  I expect AP to resign here for a modest deal but this season is a tricky walk but remember the guy missed 2 weeks and still has 29 HR, 75 RBI and a .289 BA with 80 runs scored.   Not bad, but not Pujols.   Pujols said it best.  Most players would kill to have this numbers right now.  That’s the unfortunate concept of being awesome.  Yes, the world would spin better if he went on a usual Aug-Sept terror and destroyed pitching.  However, Pujols’ bat is as confounding as this team’s play.   You don’t know which Albert will show up from series to series.   If he doesn’t rake the Pirates at PNC, when can we really count on him to do anything against the Dodgers or Cubs?

The Cardinals can’t put it all together and until they do, life will be hard on them in the final 38 games.   They dug their own hole last week when they failed to pick up ground on the Brewers, losing 2 painful games and losing ground after gaining momentum in Florida.  Now, its a constant game of catch up.  It will be up to their starting pitching to get the job done because the lineup will produce more times than not.   Can we catch the Brewers? Right now, it looks doubtful but sooner or later the Brewers must hit a wall.  If not, this season is over.

Tiger/Steve-Here’s what happened with Tiger Woods and Stevie(more lame and pathetic) Williams.   As Tiger struggled, Williams old ancient ass tried to give Tiger some tips and suggestions.  After about 13 “okay, fine, thanks” routines, Tiger snapped and said something like this.
“Steve, shut the fuck up.  I don’t care what you think.  I don’t pay you to think or suggest.  I pay you to walk.  Here’s the deal.  I am the best.   I piss excellence.  I’m the one with the big black mamba cock who fucked 14 different women while telling the world I was a family man.  I have the greatest player in the world(including India) tag on my back.  You see all those people on the sidelines.  They come to see this brother work, not your crusty old ass who couldn’t hack a three wood from a playground sand box.   What do you hear in the air right now?  GO TIGER!  The world wasn’t built with kings getting suggestions from meaningless old guys.  Did Michael Jackson need to be told how to dance?  Fuck no.  Did someone tell Eddie Murphy to wear leather?  Hell no. Did a key grip on a porn set tell Ron Jeremy how to eat that pussy? No.  See what I’m saying.  You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.  So save your words for the little ones who are too dumb to understand.   Here’s an idea.  When I’m drilling 3 hookers tonight, would you be so kind to reach down, pick up my cock and hand it to me?  Thanks.  Just don’t tell me how to fuck.”
A caddy is a bat boy, a carrier, a stand in.   Can you imagine the bat boy telling Albert Pujols about his swing?   If Woods wanted help, he’d hire a swing coach.  Hopefully, Adam Scott reminds Williams of the rules of caddies.

I am also all for a Woods unplugged session.  He has to be sitting in a room thinking to himself, “Well, if my ability is leaving me, that doesn’t mean I can’t say what I want”.   I always imagined Woods and Mickelson engaging in a hockey fight halfway down the 18th hole, as they sprinted towards a winner take all birdie.   Woods calling Roy McGaroy a worthless kangaroo humping fag.   Screaming out loud during Adam Scott’s tee off, “AIDS, AIDS, AIDS”.   Literally fucking a woman on the green before he putts.    Tiger Unplugged is HBO Emmy winning potential.   If you can’t win anymore, use your other tool.  Free speech.   Tiger Woods comes to the putting green in a thong and lets his cock finish the putt.   “How do you like me now, bitches!”.   As an athlete gets older, they get more blunt and now is time for Tiger to rip the cover off his recovering nice guy persona.   Being a halfway in/out golf spectator, I would love to see Tiger cut loose, because it would piss off the golf die hards, like Carlin.

George Carlin’s Greatness-There’s no fucking doubt Carlin was the greatest.   He blended comedy and relevance better than any comic.   Everything he said carried a meaning and had a target.  He was the Greg Maddux of comedians.  He didn’t waste one joke for a phony laugh.  For that alone, he is miles ahead of Leary, Cook, CK, Attell or any other hack.   He crossed any line if it meant getting a point across.  He was the rare comedian who taught you something while you rolled around in laughter.   Even as he got older and lost some of his fastball, Carlin was still sharp and literal.   There will never be another Carlin.

Sleep Deprivation/I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead-Its an unplanned event.  I literally finished a show with Rae the other night, and told myself a rant had to be done.   After a series win against the Rockies and before a work week is a perfect time for a blog.   There’s nothing worse than holding thoughts over for an extra day while fresh news rolls in.  I have half a rant wrote Friday that I never got back to, and two days later, half of it was old broken shit that didn’t exist.   Also, its no benefit to your body to sleep for 2-3 hours and get back up.  That’s torture.  A smarter soul just stays up, stays busy and gets stuff done.  For as tired as I was last night around 10pm, I accomplished a shitload in a day.    A full blown rant, a workout at the gym, a 3.6 mile run, 8 hours of work, a reply to you on lunch, 2 hours of softball, dinner made, 2 shows watched and then bed.  This so called crazy man(planted on my head by at least 3 people) was very productive by staying up throughout the night.  Sleep is something you can always make up.

I am not even sure The Cardinals are even worth a mention here because of their lousy fucking play last night.   Look, this team isn’t going to win shit if they can’t build some momentum.   They beat Florida, lose to Milwaukee, beat Colorado, and lose the first game to Pitt.   Momentum as in winning series after series with the occasional sweep.  That is the only way we are going to stand a chance.   You can’t call this team dead because they will fire off 2-3 consecutive wins, hang in the race and make this final month a torture session.    However, they aren’t good enough right now to stay in this race.   Here is the disgusting part.   Over the weekend, the Pirates only scored 3 runs.  3 GOD DAMN RUNS!  3 runs in 28 innings.  On Monday against us, they score 6 runs.   That is nonsense and the main reason we are having serious problems.  I agree with your peaked theory, but will add that wonder boys McClellan and Lohse were winning every start and locking down teams.   Things were going just right and now, in crunch time, they are not.   This lineup is powerful, but goes to sleep on certain nights where big hits are required.   Life would be simple if our pitchers only needed 2-3 runs to win a game, but that’s not the case.  Westbrook, EJ, and Lohse all need more support than 2-3 runs and when they falter early like last night, the lineup is falling behind and failing in key spots.  The Cards can’t hit enough to make up for average starting pitching.   Once again, we look to Carp tonight to stop the bleeding, stitch the wound and point us in the right direction.   If we lose tonight and give up this series, I will join you in saying this team is dead to rights.   However, whether we win or not this week, I don’t see this team catching Milwaukee.   While the Cards have talent, they don’t have enough to erase a 6 game deficit.  On August 16th, that is my general opinion.   I will still watch them play and battle, but slowly the urge to see them stay in the race will slip away.  Atlanta is in our sights, but what are the chances of catching them with our style of play right now?  Pj, this team isn’t good enough right now to catch anyone because they need to spend less time watching the scoreboard and keeping their eyes on the outcome of the game happening on the field in front of them.   Fucking losers are still shitty!

Jeff Mauro, Newest Food Network Star-Jeff and his so called fancy sandwiches.  He is a pretty likeable fellow who can make anything into a sandwich.  He would make you a bacon sandwich and keep it simple and tasty as hell.   Everything on food network isn’t fancy you little shit.   It’s just fresh ingredients and very very fucking tasty LOOKING food.  Jeff is a hometown guy with a wife and kid who quit his job to try out for this competition and beat a lot of fancy cooking bitches.   I love a guy who can make any fine cuisine into a big mouth watering sandwich.   While a lot of the Food Channel is finesse cooking, Jeff is all old school.  His show is on Sunday mornings, a good spot for a newcomer.  Its called Sandwich King.  Watching the guy cook, he owns up to the title.  He took duck meat, covered it in peppers and cheese, and served it on foccaia bread and I literally wanted to strangle someone for it.

Rams Record in 2011
It all depends on their division play.  Mang, if they fuck up against the 49ers or Seahawks with horrible QB’s, how can we expect this team to go into Dallas, New York, Balty, Pitt and take down good teams.   The Redskins are pushovers but you never know.   The quality of this team depends on the health of their receivers, the running game and the secondary not getting burned.  While Philly isn’t a shoe in for the Super Bowl, Michael Vick is going to have fun with our secondary and make our linebackers work.   The Rams must sweep or lose only 1 game in their division if they are going to win 10 or 11 games.   However, I think the Rams are the most well rounded team in the division and should it with a 9-7 record.

The reason The Milwaukee Brewers are so good.  The bullpen.   K-Rod and John Axford make every game a 7 inning exercise.   It’s just good and hard to beat.  When Wainwright went down with Tommy John, The Cards chances were cut in half.  The Brewers picked up Zach Greineke from the rescue shelter in Kansas City and acquired Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays.  Two solid starters.  The Cards lost one great arm and the Brewers gained 2.   This division was stacked in the Brewers favor.  They were picked to win this thing or fall to the Reds.  It’s a testament to the resilience of the Cards that we are still in it to win it and are separated from the rest of the division with Milwaukee.  Just a perspective.  The Brewers have a great rotation, great lineup and hard to beat bullpen.  Did I say how hard it is going to be to overtake them?

Sometimes you have to say when in Rome.  Anchorman fans will get that expression.

Going without internet or cable is like taking water and food from me for two hours.   A mad man session.   As long as I had a notebook to write in, I would be fine but eventually I might kill someone.   It’s the way we are all set up these days.  Internet, cable, coffee, relax, sleep. Repeat.  Which could I last longer without, cable or internet.  Cable.  Think about this though.  If you have the internet, you must have some kind of computer/laptop/notebook to use it on, so you could watch several shows, videos and songs while on the internet.  It is hard to turn the genius button off.

Watch The Other Guys, with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg two times my friends.  It’s a hidden comedy blast. Watch it again and hold judgement until then. Unlike dramas and action films, comedies need a little room to fully land.   Different brands of humor effect everyone in their own time.  I didn’t expect the Other Guys to blow my head off the second time….but it did and now whenever its on I stay tuned for at least 30 minutes.

Denis Leary-Leary’s routine was a guy standing in the middle of the stage ranting, looking a little disturbed and pissed off.   He was all material and not physical comedy.  A ranter.  I’d pay to see Leary rant about random shit.   I am not saying the man deserves a nobel peace fucking prize for his quotes, but I find his comments on 9/11, The Osama kill, firefighters, and politics in general to be quite blunt and appreciative.  You want a real taste of his everyday cynical bite, start following him on Twitter.   It won’t cost you a thing and will give you a taste while I find some clips worth sending.   Also, start watching Rescue Me, which is one of the best shows on television any time of the year.   Leary is a respected guy because he tackles issues with touchy subject matters and goes all in.  His next subject.   Paramedics in a show called Sirens on the USA network.

I am for a Dirty Tiger Woods appearance.  Think about it, golf nuts and golf casual souls everywhere.  He needs to grow a froo on his head, dress like a pimp and have 6 or 7 greasy ugly slightly overweight women follow him on the green.   If you can’t be great, look original and take home the attention prize.   Give up the harvard lawyer look and get a few tats on the arms.   Sponsor Church’s chicken and Panda Express.   Audiences play a game guessing which hole Tiger will fuck.  He sinks a birdie and yells, “I JUST FUCKED THAT HOLE REAL GOOD!”  It’s only bad if you didn’t laugh people.

I do have a sick mind, but I’m in my own little world and they know me here.

The Legend of Troy Siade-Sunday would of been my good late friend Troy Siade’s 43rd birthday.  He passed away in 2004 at 36 and Sunday I thought about him a little.  There are many days where I think about TS, and it happens right after a Cardinals game.  While he delivered the zingers about life and was a helluva lawyer, Troy was a baseball nut.  He was one of the internal nerve center warriors on the Manual Scoreboard in Old Busch Stadium.   A lot of people die too young from cancer.  Kids in their teens.  Kids in pre school.   Its simply not fair.  That’s my only way of explaining it.  Life takes a piece out of you when it wants and all we can do is deal with it.  I finally posted the framed picture of Troy sliding a number into the board on the same wall with the rest of my scoreboard/Cards attire.  The day we spread his ashes was a day I will never forget.   We laid our the man over his favorite player, Jimmy Edmonds.   Always a good moment to remember Troy.

Jason Isringhausen, one of my favorites of all time, reaches 300 saves last night in San Diego.  A milestone of 300 saves is a place where over 20 have reached and some say isn’t too substantial of an achievement.  How great can you feel about 300 saves when two guys named Trevor and Mariano have over double your amount.  However, Izzy battled and fought for his 300 saves.   When the Cards left him for dead and baseball forgot about him, Izzy kept working to get healthy and come back.  He joined the Mets in a non closer role this season, and when K-Rod was traded, he took over in New York.  He is 7-11 with the Mets in save chances this season, which isn’t very good or very bad.   300 saves means different things to different players, and for Izzy, it was the top of the mountain.  He reached it after 15 years, 4 or 5 surgeries and 4 teams.   Once a premier closer for the A’s and Cards, Izzy is just another arm now but still getting the job done.  A pitcher who drove you nuts and made things interesting, but always took the blame.  I always liked Izzy for his attitude and post game tolerability as much as his skills on the field.  He was a true ballplayer and good teammate.  He never made excuses and took the blunt force trauma of the fans and media after a blown save.   Getting 300 was his goal and 4 surgeries, 15 years of pitching and changing uniforms later, he reached the end.   I stood by him during his rough patches so I have to take calls here for a good deed.  It’s like a lawyer telling praise for his client staying clean for a full season.

Jim Thome becomes the 8th player to reach 600 home runs.  One of eight.  That’s special.  Thome is a true ox of the game.   Like Griffey Jr., he never got looked at in the steroid era because his power is all natural country fried steak plowing.   If The NL had a DH, I would love to have Thome on the Cards.   ESPN loves anything about the Yankees and Red Sox because they are the money clubs.  Imagine if Thome played for the Yankees while getting 600?  600 is a serious milestone.  Pujols will easily reach that club.

The Cardinals mission.  It’s quite simple.   These next 12 games will determine if the Brewers series in late August and early September mean anything.   If we can’t go 10-2 against the Pirates, Cubs and Dodgers, we don’t deserve anything and may as well hand the keys over to Milwaukee.   However, we will know for sure after that game against Milwaukee on September 7th if the last 3 weeks mean anything.   If the Cards can’t beat their opponent, don’t worry about the help.

I will try Curb Your Enthusiasm soon.  Larry David’s follow up comedy series to Seinfeld is a show I have passed over for years but made a bet with PJ to watch while he dives into Rescue Me.  I might jump into a little of this season before I go back since the story lines are disjointed.   I loved Larry David’s cameo on Entourage where he talked to Drama.   He seems like a funny guy.  Curb is one of those shows that seems cool and fun to watch if I had all fucking day to watch television.   In the choices world I live in(as you and many others do), I choose other shows.   Luck of the draw.  It has nothing to do with the brand of humor.  Breaking Bad and Walking Dead fall into that category as well.   Solid looking shows that I haven’t found time to dive into yet.   Sometimes I need to watch shows that don’t require me to think at all and don’t force me to write about them.   Shows like Chopped, MasterChef and Iron Chef.  All on the Food Network.

I still say Pujols is staying in St. Louis after the season.   I honestly don’t think he wants to take this “I’m King of the World” act anywhere else 11 years into his career.  His price tag will drop a little, but the Cards will pay up.  As my friend Chris said, it will come down to the man, not the stats, agent or amount of years and dollars.  If Pujols wants to stay, he will.   I think he sounds stupid when he says he has no control over the outcome.  You have an agent to figure out the dollars and years.  The player makes the choice.   I understand agents’ work but sometimes a guy has to take the reins of his life into his own hands.   Albert makes that choice in the end and I hope he stays.

That is all folks.  Another round of unfiltered opinion is closing up.  If you chose to read this, I appreciate it.  If not, better luck next time.  My words will catch up to you eventually, in person or on the page.

Until then..(hesitantly)…Go Cards…(sad look on face)….

Goodnight and Good luck,

DLB aka A Blunt Gentleman

 

 

The Extra Bits of Info

Furthermore…

Now that I am out of work, away from the clutches of supervisors, CEO’s and the meat of my company and at my Buffa base, the office, allow me to add some additional ammo to my response. 

 

-As I arrive at the internet doorway, my Yahoo home page fires a video about a husband who lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks.  Jack Grandcolas got a few a fateful calls that morning from his wife, who was on United 93, which crashed into the Pennsylvania cornfields after the passengers stages a revolt against the hijackers.   People dispute this ever happened, but according to audio and calls from the plane, I do believe it happened and Jack’s wife was on the flight.   The kicker here is that Jack’s wife, Lauren, was pregnant with their child.   Right when I saw that, fuck, I couldn’t resist clicking on it and watching the sad video to go with the shock of the tragedy.  Every time I think about that day I can’t stop wondering about the thousands of little sad stories.   A kid losing a dad.  A sister losing a brother or fellow sister.   Parents going away in one day.  Lives being shattered.   Just another story.   For a dad to be, this one stung a bit. 

 

-I must say the man made waterfall pools that have replaced the towers at their exact location are very nice and fitting in their memorial to the lives lost.   The largest man made pools waterfalls in the country are surrounded by rows listing every single name of the 2893 souls lost on that fateful day.   A good way to remember the people lost is to list their name right at the location where they fell and make it as if they never left.   Being a New Yorker and crossing Ground Zero daily has to be tough.  Whether you were there or not, I guarantee you I would spend at least a couple hours staring into the abyss that used to hold two of the taller buildings in the country.   Soon, new towers will surround the pools, according to architecture design, but for now, the pools forming waterfalls with the names around the top barrings will do for people needing names to fill voids.   For many who lost loved ones or friends that day, the lost souls became ghosts in the way that people didn’t see their demise, but only heard about it after the fact.   A tough way to grieve, wondering what really happened.   Its easy to stuff a story into a memory that fits the space than to imagine what really happened.   However, I am writing this from Missouri, where I was when the towers were attacked.   However, people all over the country felt something that day and while a single word can’t be used to sum it all up, my biggest feeling came down to one word.   Fear. 

 

-Changing gears and moods.   One way to unwind after a long day of work.  Watch a sexy italian woman on the Food Network take you to cooking school.   Giada DeLaurentis, the lovely lady with the wit and knowledge around a kitchen that stuns plenty, graced my screen when I arrived home today.  Watching her make a jam from scratch and use it for a sweet bread snack was marvelous all for the idea of watching her work.  When I see certain women, I literally turn into an animal and acquire different instincts.  Every guy is guilty of this transformation.  We see a beautiful woman whose natural and sophisticated and it elicits a set of aggressive tendencies.  These are the facts.  We see beauty and instantly think pleasure.  When I think of Giada, I think of a sexy Espresso chip ice cream melting.  When I think of Christina Hendricks(Mad Men), I get a fiery rage thinking of those hips, breasts and that red hair.   Certain Women do things to men that can’t be explained and will always grant them the power to change our minds.  Some women make us crazy and lovely ladies like Giada and Mrs. Hendricks are two of a kind.  What makes you go nuts?

 

-The road ahead is simple for the Cards.   Do or die!  They have been starving off death all season, winning series’, putting together four game winning streak, imploding, coming back and rising up above expectations.   With the injuries and acquisitions, its hard to think of this team’s true goal.  Here it is.  Win every game.   This team can’t afford to lose any games with Milwaukee streaking right now.   THis isn’t being done to jinx the Redbirds in their chase, but to clearly state the obvious.   The Cards dug themselves this hole, jumped in it and now have to climb out before the Brewers bury them.   All they can do is focus on their games and hope for luck from elsewhere.  They can’t afford to lose a game against Pittsburgh.   An analyst mentioned that the Cards need to go 9-3 in the next 12 games.   Those losses better be hard fought contests because this team really needs to go 10-2 or 11-1 to make up ground and gain on Milwaukee.   End of story. 

 

-Tiger Woods isn’t above average any longer.  He is playing golf way below average and lacks the instinct required to be who he used to be.   Woods is scarred, damaged goods and in need of helpful doctors.    On course meltdown coming soon.

 

-Right now, I am going on 32 hours of no sleep and getting ready to push off into a two hour bout of softball in Forest Park.   Yes, I am crazy and have a healthy antidote ready to plug in upon my arrival and that’s called a couch and remote.   Why did I do this?  They are never planned all nighters, but only a small development over time.  Writing until 130-2am produces a thought that a little sleep will just fuck with me, so I stay up.   Send out the blog, go to the gym, and come back to work and do a run.   Hours later, I sit here fried.  Daddy training?  Yes and no.  Feeling the effects of my decision making?  Yes.    This is something I don’t recommend but always feel impressed by when I hear. 

 

-Carlos Zambrano deserves to be barred from baseball for the rest of the 2011 season.   How many times can Big Z go off on his teammates, lose his control and alienate his team?  On Saturday, he allowed 3 home runs(8 earned runs), threw at Chipper Jones, stormed off the field, went to his locker, cleaned it out and told the trainer he was retired.   Zambrano made a fool of himself and the organization with his actions and needs to be punished.   30 games without pay or play is a start.   The man is a child and needs to be treated like one. 

 

-Remember folks, preseason football doesn’t mean shit but can provide small hints at a team in the 4 week exhibition period. 

 

-Since this dad to be is cutting out softball from his fall schedule, any time I can make the field is worth a jump, which explains my dip this afternoon on no sleep.   Its going to be hard for me to say no to a round of softball in the park.  

 

-Food Network Star crowned a new king Sunday night, and that man was Jeff from Chicago.   He is known as the sandwich king and will be on the Food Network Sunday at 1030am for the debut of his show.   Jeff is a charming presence with a huge personality and knack for pulling an audience in.   Look for this guy on the Food Network.  

 

-Skip Schumaher is hitting leadoff tonight for the Cards and starting in centerfield.   I like the move because Skip is a solid defensive outfieler and the hottest hitter on this team since the All Star.   In his last 10 games, Skip is hitting .458 and reaching base constantly.  He has raised his batting average from .271 to .292 after last night and is locking in.   Skip missed a nearly  a month with a forearm injury and will have to keep up the hitting to remain in the lineup.  

 

Well, folks, That’s all I got.   I’m slowly losing my grip here on the keyboard and need to rest a little before the softball plunge.   Thanks for coming back and reading and take care tonight. 

 

-Dan L. Buffa

The Buffa Blast(unfiltered opinion)

Here we go,

After a calm relaxing weekend, the time has come to unleash the rage at the keyboard once again.   Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a rant from this head.   Notes, opinions, and little details are formulated over a 2-4 day period and put down in a complex cocktail of unfiltered digestable opinion and data analysis.   As spectators in this tricky game of breathing for a living, we look, digest and analyze everything that comes into our specs.  So follow me here as I take you through the course of my mad mind.  Starting with the relentless St. Louis Cardinals(all Chicago Cubs fans, please skip over or get our a needle).

The Cards Blood Shop

This team continues to drive me insane.   Every game carries feelings of anticipation followed by nerve rattling introspection.  It’s like watching a 6 month thriller that has as many twists and turns as it does revelations.  When does the pain stop in following a sports team? The day they decide to stop playing for good.  While the football diehards come out and declare baseball dead, this die hard Cards fan refuses to get involved with PRESEASON activity and instead stays grounded in a playoff race.  What is going with this team?  I’ll start things off with a good, bad and ugly section.

The Good-Since our last gathering here, the Cards are 3-1 and seem to be back on track.  The driver is back in the seat and pushing this team forward.   After losing two crucial games to Milwaukee, the Cards got a hold of themselves and took the finale and won the series with the Rockies over the weekend.   Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter came up huge in the Brewers finale, with AP delivering 4 timely hits and Carp pitching 8 strong innings to get his 8th win to even his record.   This team’s offensive capabilities sprung to life over the weekend, taking down the Rockies by scores of 6-1 and 6-2 while losing 6-1 in between.  Rafael Furcal continues to shore up this infield defense, which hasn’t committed more than 1 error in a ballgame or 3 in a series since his arrival.   Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaher form a solid platoon at second base and the outfield is doing fine if not great.  The bullpen isn’t losing games anymore, instead becoming a deep well rounded force for manager Tony La Russa to play with.   Octavio Dotel and Mark Rzepcynski have pitched very well in their short time with the team.  Dotel struck out 4 in a crucial moment in Sunday’s game and Rzep pitched 3 scoreless frames on Saturday.  The only question lying in vain on this team is the starting pitching.  Which leads me to my…

The Bad-The Rotation, with the exception of Carpenter, looks weak in August.   Jaime Garcia hasn’t pitched well in his past 4 starts, winning only one game while his team has lost his past two starts.   The Rockies roughed him up on Saturday and ruined what looked like a potential sweep.   Kyle Lohse pitched 6.1 innings of  solid ball on Friday and Edwin Jackson pitched solid on Sunday after a shaky start but what I am not seeing is deep starts by this group.   After Carpenter grinds out 8 on Thursday, Garcia and the rest can’t reach 7 in their starts.   In the past week, starting with the Brewers series, the rotation pitched decent for the entire home stand.  However, leaks are popping up and alarms are flashing.  This group is getting weaker and not stronger.   Lets run down the list.

Carpenter-A  Manny Pacquiao like tenacity on the pitching mound during the second half.  After 100 pitches, hitters only getting Carp for .155 BA and .391 OPS in 66 plate appearances.  Stronger as the innings pile up.   Also, in 2011, stronger as the season rolls along.  He is 6-1 in his past 7 decisions.  His performance on Thursday showed you why he is the Ace.  With the backs against the wall, Carp proved to be a Stopper.  Carpenter has 1 win as he walked into June and now he has 8 wins to match 8 losses.  Carpenter has turned into an Ace once again.

Garcia-A perplexing talent with 10 wins and deserving of 3 more at least but a pitcher who continues to struggle away from Busch Stadium and beginning to look vulnerable at Busch.  Garcia allowed 5 runs on Saturday night, the second coming on a two out two run single.   Two out hits are hurting this staff, and Garcia gives up a ton of them.  His young mind on the mound can’t seem to bounce back from a bad call from the umpire and unravels.  A top of the rotation talent that is struggling to stay consistent and pitch into the 7th-8th innings.

Lohse-A hot start that went away fast in June and July but is beginning to level back out.   Lohse rebounded from a rough outing in Florida to pitch 6.1 innings on Friday night and get his 9th win.  Lohse is 10-7 with a 3.44 ERA.  In his last 10 starts, he is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA.   During those 10 starts, Lohse has only reached 8 innings once and the rest have been 6.1 innings or less.  Lohse isn’t pitching deep into games at all.  His last 4 starts have seen a total of 19.1 innings, an average of less than 5 starts per start.  Pitiful for August.  A 10 game winner with holes in his performance.  The main problem with Lohse is that he doesn’t have an out pitch and struggles to put away hitters.

Westbrook-Jake the Snake is a literal puzzle.   What do you get from this guy from start to start?  No one knows.  Westbrook’s numbers are better than Lohse in his past 10 starts(3-2, 4.23 ERA, four starts of 7 IP or more), but you wouldn’t know it if you watched the man pitch.   He is tough to watch, walks too many and can fall apart in one inning.  However, he is 9-6, has pitched well in the second half and seems to come up big in huge contests.  Still, a man that will make you grind your teeth.

Edwin Jackson-A straight up mixed bag of a talent.  He has 2-1 as a Cardinal but his ERA has risen from 3.92 to 4.04 since a move to the NL.  That’s an unhealthy concept.  However, take out the rough start in Milwaukee and his numbers as a Card look shiny.  Jackson’s main problem is the long ball and getting ahead of hitters.   His K-BB ratio is good but he often falls behind hitters and needs to throw a ton of pitches to recover.  He doesn’t start too hot and gives the opposition many chances to hurt him.  A 27 year old arm with a high octane heater(95-96mph) who induces tons of contact from hitters.  He doesn’t strike out a ton of hitters, pitches for contact and gives way to big innings.  He also exited tonight’s game with a suspected hamstring issue in the 6th inning.  There’s another problem.  This man eats up innings only if he allows the hits and runs to make you nervous.  If he gets past 7 innings, damage will be done. A mixed bag.  Genuine talent but take how far?  Will he ever rise into a top 3 starter or continue to change teams and sit in the lower half of a rotation.  He is effective but lucky at times.  He is a power arm who tips his bullpen after most games and that’s not a good thing.

All in all, a talented if unpredictable bunch of arms.   We know this team will score runs.  The Cardinals rank near the top of the league in runs scored, batting average and power stats.   However, we also rank near the top in double plays.  Read it all and this team produces baserunners and runs.  A never say die lineup that has came back in 2011 and won games after they were losing.   The bullpen is improved and pitching well.   Each arm has an assigned role down there and knows their role.   However, the rotation is the crutch of this team.   They will determine if we reach the playoffs or not.   After Carp and Garcia, the rotation is a true mixed bag of potential outcome.   Asking me to hand the ball to Jake Westbrook or Action Jackson for series win is like telling me a live hand grenade is on the mound.  The rotation will decide if we do or die, crack or prosper, win or lose in 2011.

The Ugly-The Brewers aren’t slowing down.   While the Cardinals won the series over the weekend, The Brew Crew swept the hapless Pirates and gained a game on the home team here.   The Cards are 5 games out of the first place because they wasted a game Saturday and the Pirates wasted every opportunity to take a single game in Milwaukee.   In a scoreless game on Saturday, the Pirates had chances in the 9th and 10th inning to get a run in and failed.  On Sunday, a passed ball gave Milwaukee a chance to tie the game and opened a chance for a walkoff win in the 10th.   The Cards dropped a game Saturday and lost a game in the standings.  The Brewers are 16-2 in the past three weeks.   Deadly effective and waiting for no one to tell them to slow down.  The Brewers took 2 CRUCIAL games against the Cards at Busch and beat up the Bucs.   Their next four series are against teams with bad records, including Chicago, Los Angeles, The Mets and Pittsburgh.  The Cards face Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Chicago and Pittsburgh at home.   The Brewers are playing so well that the Cardinals can’t afford to lose a game.  You start falling 6-7 games out of first place in mid to late August and the shovels come out.  Quite honestly, the Cards are in must win territory every night.

An example-If the Cards walk into Pittsburgh tomorrow night and lose, the season is slipping out of their hands one finger at a time.  Here’s the issue.  If they lose a game and the Brewers lose as well, ground isn’t lost but at the same time an opportunity to gain ground is also lost.   If we win and they win, the standings stay the same.  If we lose and they win, a crucial game is falls to the floor.  Must win mode.  The Pirates are 3-15 since the controversial call at home plate against Atlanta.  The young bunch have fallen apart and are requiring beating hours.  I am not saying the Cardinals will win.  I am telling you they HAVE TO WIN.   Throw their 5 starting pitchers into a interrogation room and tell them its time to put up or shut up.   Pitch well, earn your cash or go the fuck home and suffer the priceless reward and fate of a hack millionaire athlete.   This is where I wish athletes had to truly earn their cash.   What am I talking about?  If Albert Pujols goes 0-4 at the plate, he doesn’t collect his 550,000 per game salary.   If Kyle Lohse doesn’t pitch well enough, he doesn’t get his 333,000 dollars.  If Yadi Molina doesn’t reach second base on a double off the wall, don’t feed him after the game.  If Skip lets a grounder roll through his 5 hole at second, tell him he can’t restrap his batting gloves between each pitch or he gets tased.  If Albert rolls over on a grounder and doesn’t hustle, tell him GOD just jerked off the devil.   Leave the religion out of it and put the gloves and bats to work men.   The St. Louis Cardinals are going to have to fight, claw, and slug their way to a division title this season.   When Adam Wainwright went down, the deck was stacked against us.  Anyone with a suit and cash in Vegas tossed this team in a 6 foot hole in the desert.  This team wasn’t picked to finish dead last but it seemed that way in April.  Every fucking game counts and I am not even talking about a midsummer classic.  Here’s what I want to see happen.

A Round of Advice and Future Need

1.)Albert Pujols to completely destroy pitching in August and September.  In his 11 year career, AP loves to swing in the last two months.  He is a clutch hitter.  Since his sobering two game performance against Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday, Pujols has broke back out of the cage.  He is 9-15 in his past four games and risen his average to .288, the highest it has been all season long.   Slowly, AP is coming around.  After cranking a 465 foot blast on Sunday night(longest in Busch III history), Pujols leads the NL in home runs and is in the top 6 in RBI.   Pujols is hitting game changing home runs.  Each of his past 4 home runs have either tied the game or given the Cards the lead with his one swing.  The only mind boggling issue with Pujols are his walks and strikeouts.   Pujols has more strikeouts(43) than walks(41) in 2011 and that is unheard of for the Mang.   The past 6 seasons, Albert has accumulated close to or over 100 walks and less than 80 strikeouts.  While his K’s are normal, his walk rate is horrible.  He is swinging at pitches out of the zone more times than not in 2011 and that is his main problem.  He also leads the league in double plays at 24.   A fan can only hope Pujols is slowly snapping out of his funk and locking in for the home stretch.   Tonight, Albert is hitting in his favorite ballpark.  At PNC Park in Pittsburgh in 83 games, AP has put together power stats good for an entire.  .386 BA, 27 HR, 80 RBI, 80 R with a .462 on base percentage.  In Pittsburgh for his career, he is a machine.  In 162 games(equivalent of an entire season) Albert has put together 46 HR, 139 RBI, and a .454 OBP.  If there was a case for Albert Pujols going anywhere outside of St. Louis, it would be Pittsburgh to let it rip 82 games a season in PNC Park.  Pujols dials in and destroys pitching like no other hitter in that park.  Get ready this week for some fireworks.  If the Pirates were smart, they would have Pujols arrested on sight the minute he steps off the plane.   Go hunting Albert and let that fucking bat eat!

2.)Fernando Salas keeps his quiet effective streak going.  In his last 10 appearances, Salas is 6-7 in saves, only allowing 1 run in 11.2 innings pitched and zero runs in his past 8 outings.   He has a 13-3 K to BB ratio and has finally notched a few 1-2-3 saves.  Against the Brewers, he struck out the side on Thursday after allowing a hit.  Salas is recapturing the midseason form and fooling hitters again with a deadly concoction of moving fastballs, diving sliders and effective breaking pitches.  A good closer means a winning team.

3.)Stay Healthy.  Now that the team is staying out of the trainers room and in the lineup, good things can happen.  Matt Holliday, stop lifting heavy weight.  Do some reps, tone the muscle and be nice to the back muscles.  You play baseball every day and travel constantly.  The body already hates you so compromise.  Lance Berkman, drink herbal tea, stretch and ice the knees big guy.  Age isn’t your friend so be kind to the body.   Arthur Rhodes, cash in the AARP checks and throw strikes.  Sunday night wasn’t a good debut for the newest Cardinal.   Edwin Jackson, listen to everything Dave Duncan tells you.   Write it down.  Jaime Garcia, carry a pen and pad, and ask Chris Carpenter about staying strong in the middle of a hellish inning.

4.)Jon Jay, relax and play baseball.  Center field is yours to lose and while your bat has slipped, the level of fundamentally sound play has stayed strong.   Good defense in center, a worthy bat in the #2 hole and a big future.  Jay’s batting average is still .293, but his on base percentage is slipping and his strikeouts are going up.  However, he still deserves to start over Corey Patterson, who swings at fastballs above his head.  Jay is a good player and smart bat.  Keep him in there.

5.)Rotation.   Pitch deep into games.   Listen to your coach and catcher.  Make smart pitches.  Don’t give up so many two out hits.  They kill a baseball game.   You wear the birds on the bat and pitch at a major league level and get paid millions to do it, so back up the money with a solid performance.

6.)Jason Motte’s extraodinary run of success in 2011 is flying under the radar.   Since July 24th, Motte has only allowed 1 hit  in 16.1 innings, with hitters only going 1-26 against him.  He hasn’t allowed an earned since June 23rd.   Motte has redefined the strikeout pitcher for hire in the bullpen.   When trouble rises, Motte comes in and shuts the door.  This is a pitcher that has a defined role and holds value on this team.   Quietly, through changes and up and down streaks, Motte is putting together a hell of a season.

This team is in need but playing well.   They simply have to keep it up.  Stay consistent.  This team hasn’t been consistent with their play all season.  Right now, the Cardinals need to play consistent tough competitive and smart baseball to hold ground and possibly gain on the Milwaukee Brewers, who need a sledge hammer to be knocked out of a streak.  What happens the next 39 games is something I can’t bet on, predict or call.   All we can do is watch and wait.  There is one thing I do know.  This Cardinals team is going to drive you fucking nuts but always show the effort, will, and relentless attitude to win baseball games.  They either watched too much Blues action from the last two years or need to realize they are healthy and fully equipped to overtake the Brewers.

RAMS NEWS

The preseason started off bright on Saturday night with a 33-10 Rams win over the Colts.  Look fans, I won’t bullshit you here.  The Rams were playing a Peyton Manning less team in the first game of the preseason.  That’s like facing an unloaded gun.  Peyton was spending more time at Busch than on a playing field this weekend.  Taking away Peyton from the Colts is like cutting the head off a snake.  However, Sam Bradford and company looked very good, capable and fresh on Saturday night.

Highlights-

-Sam Bradford and AJ Feeley moved the ball all night.   Every time I flipped back to the Rams game, the offense were in the opposing territory and driving into the red zone.   Ball movement is key and the Rams had it on Saturday.  Josh McDaniels is calling plays that pound the other team and hit them at different spots on each play.   Last preseason, fans needed a good book and helpful cell phone to get them through a game because Pat Shurmur’s offense was a snoozefest.  McDaniels, bad head coach or not, is a wizard with a playbook who wants to punch holes in a defense.  Bradford was the electrician and McDaniels was the navigator.

-Feeley played very well after a rough training camp.   Backups carry a clipboard and headset for 16 games if everything goes right, but they have to be ready just in case and Feeley looked sharp, accurate and moved the offense.  Good for 3.5 million dollars.

-The running backs look like a trio of bruisers.   Jackson, Norwood and Williams are going to put a hurt on teams and fit perfectly into McDaniels’ multi back schemes.  Steven Jackson’s knees and body just got legitimate(no offense to Kenneth Darby) help.

-The Defense looked sharp.   The defensive line is once again going to collect sacks and pressure the quarterback.   Fred Robbins, Chris Long, James Hall and newcomer Robert Quinn are going to give an offensive line a hard night’s work each ballgame.   Quinn looked especially impressive for a man who missed part of training camp and hasn’t played in an organized game in 2 years.  Quinn was doubled teamed in the second half and got faster and stronger as the game went on.  Quinn will emulate Long in his ability to wear down a guard over 4 quarters of play.  He has the burst and willpower to succeed here.  A Spagnuolo brand of player.

-Speaking of offensive line work, the Rams O-Line looked good if not great.   Bradford, Feeley and Thaddeus Lewis saw pressure but never got sacked.   Many football fans forget that the hardest working players on the field are the offensive and defensive lines.   Every single play, two lines of men get thrusted into each other for a tug of war and full body workout/contest.   While we watch the quarterback roll back and set up, the offensive line forms a line in front of him in an attempt to protect and produce seconds worth of time to throw while the defensive struggles(and I mean fights) to break through.  It’s a long forgotten concept because there are no fantasy points to be seen in an offensive lineman.  However, the wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks wouldn’t score anything if it weren’t for the offensive lines work.  The Rams O-Line has really improved over the past 2 years and will keep Bradford on his feet.

-This team faces a tough opening stretch of play that includes games with the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys, but if they can make it through the first six games with 3 wins, the middle part of the schedule contains divisional play that will make or break this team.   Sam Bradford carries a yearful of knowledge into round 2 but also a heavier set of expectations.  The Rams went from 3 wins to 7 wins in one season after his arrival.  The bar is being set high.  One friend of mine has this team winning 10 games, including wins over the Eagles at home(a stretch) and the Giants in NYC.   Whether you agree with that assessment or not, one thing is for certain.   The Rams aren’t a bad team any longer.   A certain level of play is expected from them in 2011.  What happens is anyone’s guess.  I’m glad football is back and our team looks ready to roll.

The Adventures of Sam the Ram and his enforcers continues this fall and winter.  When the weather cools down and the cold air starts to move in, football has arrived.  Dust off the wings and chili recipes.  Wipe down the flat screen.   Stretch out the legs and break out the grill my friends.  NFL action is back.  Is it more important than baseball at this point?  No, but its slowly coming alive.  The first game of the season is less than a month away.

Blues News-The team isn’t sold, preseason games are a couple weeks away, but hockey is around the corner as well so listen up.

-Jonathon Cheecho gains a little life for a roster spot with David Perron’s health failing to give way to serious action.   Cheecho is a long shot to make the roster and stay, but the thought of this former gunslinger finding Scottrade is exciting.  Why not?  Brad Boyes got two years to try and become a sniper.  Give Chee a second(or third) shot at glory here in the city of blinding optimism.

-Once again, make David Backes captain of this team.   It’s time for a true leader to take over this locker room.

-Tell Barrett Jackman we love his team player attitude, ability to block shots and get his nose dirty, but remind him that he plays for the Blues and not the other team.   Lessen the puck giveaways which lead to goals, asshole.

-Inform Ryan Reaves that it’s okay to walk over and bash the other team’s enforcer in the lip.  A young kid getting a shot at becoming the enforcer on a team is like a young man going to prison.   The first thing they must do is build up their rep as a badass and challenge anyone and everyone to a fight.  Reaves won’t be taking it up the ass anytime soon but he will be seen as weak and soft if he doesn’t get on the ice and bash skulls.  He isn’t out there to score goals(that and defense would be nice), but he skates to send messages that arrive in blood soaked fists.  As a father told his son on a recent FX boxing show, let your fists be the judges.  Let people know you don’t mind throwing a punch and taking one as well.   Fear builds and notoriety begins.  I like this kid, love his style play and want to see him come into his own here in St. Louis.  The enforcer job is his to lose and he will command a look with Perron out.

-Tell the Slovakian midget to put his game face on.   His first season as a Blue carried all the potential of prom night.   Promise, potential reward and breakdown in clutch moments.  Jaroslav Halak started out well, broke down after a few injuries to his team, started letting in soft goals, got hurt himself, came back and played decent when the games didn’t matter.  Halak is making big money in a big contract to be The Man.  His play determines if he stays there or starts to look brittle.  He is a smart goaltender and can take over games when he is right, but drown games when he is wrong.   With an old hand and a young pup standing behind him in the backup section, this is Halak’s team and they go where he takes them.

-Defense, give Halak a chance to see half the shots coming towards the net.   What marks a Blues game?  A 5 minute period towards the end of the game where the opposing team fires shot after shot at Halak and the defense in a close game.   This must end.

All in all, a season marked with higher expectations.   The acquisitions of Marty Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Cheechoo, and the return of the young talent and Halak make this team a threat.   However, the Central Division is stronger than ever and will force the Blues to make every game count in January and February, an area where they usually start to tail off.   How consistent can this Blues team be?

The Random Sports Bits

-Tiger Woods is never coming back folks.  Call his career done.  He will continue to participate but how many more times can we see Tiger fail to make a cut and still think of him as a threat.   People think Pujols is declining.  Point your lens at Woods, who never recovered after the reality of his personal life and true nature of his health.   His knees are shot, his swing is flawed and with or without head speaker Stevie Williams at his side, Tiger is finished.  Call it.  Time of Death.

-The NFL season looks up for grabs once again.   The NFC and AFC look wide open and I could name 2-3 teams in each conference with Super Bowl chances.   Last season, I correctly named the Green Bay Packers as a team to keep an eye on.   They won the Super Bowl without 2-3 of their top players.   Right now, I would put Green Bay, Philidephia and The Saints into a pool with Pittsburgh, New England and either Indianapolis or The Jets.   Also, don’t count out Minnesota, Dallas or Baltimore.  While we could see The Packers and Steelers in a second straight Super Bowl, the matchup could easily feature two different teams.  There are no clear cut dynasties in football these days, which makes for great theater and emotion.  16 weeks of energized emotion and inches earned or lost.  Will there be a different winner for the 4th season or a returning titan to the throne?  You never know.

-Stepping between the lines in a baseball game is dangerous.  Before Sunday night’s Rockies-Cards game, Rockies third base coach Rick Durer took a ball to the face that sent him to the hospital for a broken nose and CAT scan.   Durer was standing near first base when Chris Nelson was completing a double play drill and slung a hard throw towards first base with no target.  Durer wasn’t paying attention and took a smash to the face.   On Sunday, Jason Marquis took a line drive off his lower leg, pitched through, and ended up collapsing in pain a couple innings later to a broken leg.  A few days ago, a Rockies pitcher took a line drive to the face.   Baseball is dangerous in its own way.  Stepping between the lines requires a lightning quick awareness that few have.

-Dan Uggla carried a 33 game hitting streak into Sunday’s game that was snapped after an 0-4 outing.  Listen up folks.  NO ONE will ever break Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak record.  The pitching is too good, the schedule is longer and the grind is harder today.  DiMaggio’s streak will remain intact.  I don’t see a hitter reaching the 40s anytime soon.  It is too hard.   Uggla used the streak to break out of a season long dreadful slump, raising his batting average 35 points and carrying his team into the wild card race.  However, hitting in 56 straight games in this day and age is something that will never be reached.  71 home runs is one thing.  71 home runs in 162 games.  Hitting in 56 straight is far harder.

-Osi Umenyiora wants a promise to be fulfilled.   Two years ago, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese told Osi that if he kept up his level of play in 2009 and 2010 that he would give him a raise and a new contract.  Osi kept up his play and now wants to get paid.  This is the same reason I agree that Chris Johnson deserves to get paid by Tennessee.   Certain players reach a higher level of play than their salary pays, and a raise is expected.  In Osi’s case, a raise was promised and needs to be fulfilled.  Every player must fulfill a contract but an owner has to stand by his word.  He had a team high 11.5 sacks and also forced a league high 10 fumbles in 2010.  Pay the man his money.   Umenyiora is practicing on Monday without a new contract.

-Chad Ochocinco wants to live with a New England Patriots fan for the first part of the 2011 season.  That’s nice, but does he understand what he is getting into here?   Does he understand how much seriousness is invested into the games in Boston?  Does he know?  He wants to live with a fan to get better acquainted with the territory but what happens when Chad comes home after a loss where he drops 4 potential game changing passes from Tom Brady and the fan wants to grill him.   Where will he hide?  Is there a clause in the living arrangement contract that calls for a timeout from questioning?  If he fucks up, Tom Brady and Bill Belechick will let him know how bad it was.  Imagine going home to hear a fan tell you the same thing.  Good luck.

-The Los Angeles football scene wants a football team again and really want the Rams to return home.  I say get your own fucking team and leave ours alone.  LA once owned the Rams, but lost that right in 1995.   16 years later, they want them back.  Sorry, but that isn’t an option, especially right now, where the Rams have a leasing agreement until 2014.

-Tom Hoberstroh at ESPN.com Insider writes that a trade between Orlando and Miami involving Dwight Howard and Lebron James would work.   While it will never happen and especially never come up in the middle of a labor dispute, the trade does work on certain merit.  Howard is exactly what the Heat are missing, a big inside presence that can support Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the inside.  James takes his talents to Orlando and officially gets his own team again.  While Orlando has supporting pieces in place, James wouldn’t deal with the overwhelming expectations in Miami and once again gun for his championship on his own terms.  Howard helps Miami and James helps Orlando.  Florida gains power with a mega blockbuster trade which will never happen. A good idea.

-Alex Smith will never be a good NFL quarterback and isn’t the answer in San Francisco.  Now, head coach Jim Harbaugh can play him all he wants and Rams fans can rejoice.   Or he can call Troy Smith or Daunte Culpepper and bring in a quality arm.   The 49ers looked horrible on Thursday night and mostly due to the fact of their QB play.

-Kobe Bryant says he will play overseas.  Who gives a shit?  Is this really news on a daily basis?  This falls between Casey Anthony’s release and the Jersey Shore group having issues.   Wow, this is our culture in 2011?  No wonder opposing countries see us as a joke drowning in debt and carrying very few clues.

-All hail ESPN writing mastermind Bill Simmons, who on his most recent mailbag session, compared his love for a TV series(Curb Your Enthusiasm) to a pitcher’s record for a season.  He went from Season 1 to the latest season and gave each a pitcher’s record and stats.   Brilliant.  This is my hero.

MOVIES-While I didn’t catch any movies in the theater over the weekend, I did take in two on DVD at home.  Here is a quick take.

Kill The Irishman-An indie film about the legendary life of Danny Greene, a Cleveland based irish gangster who created a business on his own, grew to be the Mob’s worst enemy, survived countless assassination attempts and eventually took down the Cleveland Mob.   Ray Stevenson(Pullo on HBO’s Rome) plays Greene as a renegade young tough guy who used his intellect and deep knowledge to rise up against the most powerful men in town.   Here is an underdog story.  Greene started out as a longshoreman, but eventually took over that union, started his own gang and went head to head with the biggest criminals in the city.   Stevenson invests wit and a charming cold streak into the role, the pace is quick, and the tale is deliberate enough to hold interest.  Here is a mob story few know but most will believe upon conclusion.  Val Kilmer, Vincent D’Onofrio and Vinnie Jones also star in this fine crime drama.

I Love You Phillip Morris-A true story here as well, about famous con man Steven Russell(Jim Carrey), who escaped prison four times, eluded the authorities many other times, all in the name of changing identity and living happily ever after with the love of his life, Phillip Morris.  Russell was a closeted homosexual until he left Virgina Beach, where he was a police officer and started a life of theivery that didn’t slow down until many years later, when George W. Bush made an example out of him.   Jim Carrey is a thrill to watch here, once again showing us his man on a wire ability to go back and forth between drama and comedy.   While we laugh and soak up his con man efforts, we see the true sadness in Russell failing to craft a life for Morris and himself.  Ewan McGregor plays Morris straight and does a decent job, but the movie belongs to Carrey, who is brilliant as a man who constantly is on the move from honest identity.  The role of Russell is a tough assignment, but Carrey nails it by bringing every element of his reportoire to work here.   Physical comedy, dramatic tendencies and a confidence.  Russell once walked out of a jail dressed as a cross dresser and also left in plain clothes at times.  Escaping prison became an artform.  When he wasn’t in jail, Russell was bankrupting a law firm while robbing the retirement funds and masquerading as a lawyer.  A con film is always fun to watch and Carrey makes this true story stand tall with an engaging charmful performance.

Television

Rescue Me does it again.  Another power packed unsentimental hour of television last week.  Instead of manipulating viewers with 9/11 sensitivity, Leary and Peter Tolan sneak up and punch you in the cheek with an episode about family loyalty and using secrets to manuveur around a bad call in judgement.  When Tommy Gavin is suspended for going off on a reporter during a 9/11 interview that went south, his family step up to the plate in order to clear the slate of their renegade firefighter.  As one chief calls it, you fight fire with fire in order to get things done.   What keeps coming up huge for this series is an ability to not wring the audience dry for sentimental value.  Tolan and Leary aren’t creating melodramatic sappy memorials.  They are telling a story that is beginning to close the door on a tough subject.   Instead of dwelling on the tragic day, they use it as a story framing device for tales about people and emotions.  Leary never lets you forget that 344 firefighters lost their lives on 9/11, but he sneaks in the bitterness of the aftermath in small doses.   The main issue at the center of this show is Tommy Gavin learning to live with himself after 9/11.   Can Tommy Gavin really survive 9/11 or will he eventually succumb to its effects on the soul?  What if you made it out alive and 64 fellow co-workers you knew well didn’t?  A compelling question dived into each week here.   Leary’s narrative is so strong because he calls on the tales from real life sources.  Leary is friends with real firefighters in Boston and New York, and they keep this show grounded in reality.  This week, the crew visits Ground Zero and more hell breaks loose.

Also check out a column on Leary and the show in The New York Times right here, where he dishes on getting to use a new 27 million dollar boat that is meant to aide a future attack, using real firehouse humor in the script, crafting Tommy Gavin from two real men, and centering the theme around real heroes and 9/11.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/arts/television/02rescue.html?adxnnl=1&ref=denisleary&adxnnlx=1313393231-6Wu4awHTzr1rwXfi4OiFlg

Look, I really like Denis Leary because he is an underrated actor, writer and a quiet crusader.  When nobody wanted to touch a firefighting series after 9/11, Leary and Tolan jumped at the chance to spread the word on this profession.  Leary donates millions of dollars to firehouses and police departments yearly.  He is a blunt force of honesty who tweets daily on any subject.  Many will say his comedy career started with him stealing jokes, to which I will call another accusation and point out the man created most of his comedy from his upbringing and life in a big family.   I like the guy because he is good at what he does and has class and chops to back it up.  He recently wrote a wonderfully comic column in Entertainment Weekly about never winning an Emmy award while being nominated several times.  His quick takes.

On Being Irish and Lucky-From the Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/denis-leary/i-feel-good_b_570297.html

On Gay Marriage-“(Best Comedy)The gay marriage debate. Because there isn’t one. We have couples who want to legally declare their devotion to each other, raise children in loving households, AND willing to fight for their country? How much more American do you want them to be? Do they need to gain 40 pounds of belly fat and wear black socks with sandals and buy tickets to see Jimmy Buffett? One day soon you will have a gay family living next door. And their kids will be better dressed, better behaved, and WAAAY better dancers than your kids.”

On The Killing of Osama Bin Laden-From the Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter: How do you feel about bin Laden being killed?

Denis Leary: I admire the Navy SEALs who pulled the thing off. But having worked with so many firefighters on the show, it was weird. I think there’s a lot of closure for certain people and not for others. When I drive by Ground Zero, which I do almost every day, none of it makes you feel better. There’s celebration in the idea that this big, evil guy got caught, but I would much rather have the guys back.”

All in all, watch Rescue Me, look for Leary’s work elsewhere and keep a lookout for his new series, Sirens, an adaptation of a British series about paramedics, coming the USA network in the coming year.

Alright, my Rescue Me and Leary love section is finished.  Now we can move on.

Other TV to Look Out For-

-Entourage is wrapping things up in slow motion.  The episodes have ended with a fire, a break up and a cocaine induced suicide, which gets high marks for creativity yet is failing to ground the series in its comedic Hollywood roots. I’m waiting for Creator/Head writer Doug Ellin to give us a wow episode and unleash Jeremy Piven on one more Ari Gold rant.  The final season is good yet needs to get better.

-True Blood is starting to pick up speed in its witch infested season that sets up the Witches against the Vamps with the werewolves in between.   A show grounded in sex spiked violence and romantic crossed action needs faceoffs to bolster the intrigue and after a false start, this 4th season is off and running.

-Hard hitting entertainment bringing heat around the corner.   The 4th season of Sons of Anarchy on FX, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and Showtime’s Dexter return in September.   When one season of summer power ends, the fall season always produces the most epic fireworks.   That is what’s on tap.

-After a season of recovery and love, Dexter Morgan goes killing once again.  That’s good to know.   Every Dexter fan knows that this series is at its best when its anti-hero is doing what he does best and that is killing bad people.  We have had enough feelings and love stories.  We want blood, Dexter.  Michael C. Hall promises more kills this season.

-If you need genuine laughs, catch Archer’s second season on DVD.  An animated spy comedy series that mixes James Bond with Anchorman and Dirty Harry.

Music Recommendation of the Week-

Bruce Springsteen-Devils and Dust

I’ve always said that I liked Bruno more when he sticks to his acoustic roots, meaning standing in an empty street with a harmonica and a guitar singing about the blues.   Devils and Dust marked a collection of hard to the bone gritty acoustic wonders, with this title track bringing the most juice.  Save me the E Street noise and give me Bruce all wound up and only needing a couple instruments to explain his torment.  Look for the brilliant use of the harmonica here, which covers more ground than a electric guitar or drum solo ever could.  This song is built with a story walking behind it.

http://youtu.be/cG8ZQkeZvzc

The Final Bits

Starting with a Daddy Blog entry.  A quick one tonight.   Counting the number of times where my wife tells me, “I wish men could experience this pain”, to which I respond with, “Sorry, it will never happen.   It’s science.”  During a pregnancy, your wife or girlfriend will tell you the most wonderful of things.  The idea of having two small legs crash into your ribs at zero notice.  Having a small monster push on your sciatic nerve.  Great feelings that can only be told to a man who started the madness.   All men can do is sit there in amazement at the wonderful ability of women at their most unflattering hour.  Believe me, you can tell them they are beautiful, aren’t in any way bitchy or fat, and they will hate you nonetheless a fair amount of the time.  Its just the way it is.  The creation of a human being begins with wonder, continues in complexity and hardship and never stops creating emotions.  We have a little over a month left before Vincent arrives and the amount of times I hear about the female birth experience will never cease to amaze.

-Barack Obama’s approval rating drops below 40 percent.  So what?  Presidents weren’t built to be liked or approved.  They were built to take the blame for massive overspending, bad decisions, coverups, lies, cheating, and bad management.   Obama was hated the minute he stepped into the office.  It won’t change with a different person, white or black.

-Anders Behring Breivik returned to the scene of the crime Sunday, the site where he killed 91 vacationing innocent souls in Norway.   Breivik was taken there by police to walk them through the events that led to him killing nearly a 100 people in a span of a couple hours.   That must of been intense and unsettling.  Walking a confessed cold blooded killer through a crime scene as he takes you through step by step his way of killing.  How many times did the police officers involved think…”What would happen if I put a bullet through his brain right now?”?   Many times.   That would be like taking Osama Bin Laden to ground zero and asking him to completely explain his motives.  It wouldn’t go over well.

-The cool weather opens up several possibilties.   The Outdoors become a option for hangouts when you have company over.  Instead of dying in the heat, a group of friends can have a good time outside the house.  Late night and early morning runs are a great option for runners, like myself.  During the past week, I have engaged in three late night/early morning runs and felt better than ever.  Running in cool weather allows the body to naturally perspirate and not go into dehydration survival mode.  Good times all around come from weather that ranges from 65-80 degrees.

-Fall/Winter films are going to change for me as fatherhood approaches.   Over the past 2-3 years, I have started to cut back the films I see in theaters from the ones that can wait until DVD or cable.  Looking at my EW Fall Preview for films, the choices will be hard to make because there is so much to see.   Clooney’s latest directing-starring effort about a political campaign, Ides of March.   The Statham-Owen-DeNiro Action fest, The Killer Elite.   Sherlock Holmes 2, which is promises rollicking fun and Downey Jr.-Law-Ritchie genius.   Steven Soderberg directing Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Law and others in the virus drama Contagion.  The crowd pleasing Real Steel with Hugh Jackman.  Clint Eastwood directing Leonardo DiCaprio as J.Edgar Hoover.   Those are only a few of the upcoming pleasures.   More are coming with it.  I’ll lay out the ones to look forward to and the ones to avoid in an upcoming rant.  For now, that’s good enough.  Choices will have to be made ahead.

Well, folks, that’s all I got for now.  This session has gone on for long enough and the time has come, once again, to pull the curtain and exit the stage.  My hopes are that this was informative and enjoyable to read.  A good read is all I hope for here.  I am not trying to curve your opinion but only ease my own mind by giving a perspective.  For now, I am done.

Until next time, take care and thanks for reading.

-Dan L. Buffa

Cards-Brewers Recap(Rage included)

Hello folks,

Lets get the unfortunate introspection started.  Trust me, I’d rather not dissect the latest Cardinals meltdown, but in order for the mind to move on, some theraputic cleansing must take place.  Here I go.  You can only stare into the abyss for so long before the need for reasoning ceases to exist.  

The Cards are a classic case of frustration, a team that fails to put it all together at the same time.  Last week in Milwaukee, the starting pitching hurt this team.  This week in St. Louis, the bats aren’t getting the job done.  According to BJ Rains on twitter, The Cardinals are 3-8 against the Brewers this season, hitting .229, carried a 270 on base percentage and a .332 slugging percentage.   The Big Three(Pujols, Berkman, Holliday) are hitting .184 against the Brewers this season and .306 against other teams.   The Cardinals swept the Marlins, and seemed poised to come home and do damage against their rival division leader.  Instead, the Birds have faltered.  According to Bernie Miklasz’s calculations, the Brewers bullpen has pitched 27 scoreless innings, allowing 21 baserunners, with 24 strikeouts, a .165 batting average to add up to a 0.67 ERA.  The Brewers are 22-8 in their last 30 games and only getting stronger, going 10-4 on the road, while the Cards have gone 14-16 at home since the All Star break.  That’s just not good enough. 

Last night, the Cardinals played like lazy souls.  That’s what I see out there right now.  Lollygagging pathetic baseball players. 

Notes from Last Night’s Game-

  • The lineup last night wasn’t good enough.  With the loss of Matt Holliday to a back injury, the outfield featured Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Corey Patterson, which scares absolutely no one.   Craig’s first game back, Jay is slumping and CP is a bench hand.  Lance Berkman wasn’t in the lineup because he doesn’t hit Randy Wolf well, but with Holliday hurting, a quality power bat like Berkman had to be in the lineup.   A weak lineup.  
  • Albert Pujols continues to struggle ONLY against the Brewers lately.  Take away the Brewers and Pujols is having an electric second half.   Lets look at it as one examines his paltry sub .120 batting average against Milwaukee.   He tore up the Chicago Cubs at Busch two weeks ago, and then collected 1 hit in the Milwaukee series.   He tore up Florida and comes home and is currently 1-7 with a sacrifice fly against the Brewers this week.   It all adds up to a player who is consistently shut down by his team’s top rival.  That’s bad news.  With Holliday out, Pujols had to step up and he didn’t.  My bet is that Pujols lights the Rockies up this weekend when the Cards are 6 or 7 games out of first place.  Albert is 1-25 in last six games against MIL and 5-42 on the season.  That’s downright horrible.
  • Pujols and Berkman are 10-76(.132 BA) against The Brewers.  
  • Please don’t blame the umpires.   Yes, Skip Schumacher was safe at home on Tuesday night and The umpire botched a play at first base that Pujols was correct that the Brewers runner was out but was called safe.   You can’t pull two unfortunate mistakes from two games and hang the losses on them.   The Cards have scored 4 runs in 18 innings in the two biggest games of the season.  That’s not up to par and makes this team resemble a dead bunch. 
  • Right now, this team doesn’t look like a playoff team and doesn’t deserve to participate.   Its almost time to get the memorial service scheduled, the autopsy finished, and the suits and shovels in motion.   As my wiser than 20 year old scotch Pj Nolan pointed out, the last two games have made this very clear.  The Cards aren’t built for the playoffs. 
  • The Loss of Lance Lynn and Holliday hurt last night but that can’t be placed in the blame box either.   Losing your hottest bullpen hand and hottest bat in 18 hours is a huge loss, but the rest didn’t take care of business last night. 
  • Mitchell Boggs is pitching himself out of a bullpen position.  He came in and allowed two inherited runners to score on a two run single.  He allowed two runs on Sunday in Florida.  While the bullpen has been lights out for the better share of the past month, Boggs’ control is slipping and his efficiency is lacking.  With Eduardo Sanchez on the mend, Boggs spot is getting hotter.  When Lynn comes back, Boggs may find himself in a watercooler role in the bullpen. 
  • Jason Motte carries more value than Boggs because he is getting stronger as the season progresses.  Motte hasn’t allowed a run in 16 straight appearance and his ERA is sharp along with his strikeouts to walks ratio.   Motte is finding better location on his 98 mph fastball and mixing in a slider.  Motte is a useful weapon.   I keep him over Boggs. 
  • Chris Carpenter stands as the last line of defense tonight.  Expect a hot, intense, fiery performance from Carpenter as he stands in front of the Brew Crew freight train.  Every ACE must step up and stop a losing streak.  Now it’s Carp’s time.  If Carpenter can’t stop a losing streak to your rival, the deal is done.  If he folds, count this Cards team. 
  • Speaking of starting pitching, Edwin Jackson and Jake Westbrook acquitted themselves quite nicely in this series.  A pre-series warning turned into a strength.   Jackson atoned for his rough start in Milwaukee and threw 6 innings, allowing 3 runs with 5 strikeouts to a hot hitting offense.  Westbrook started badly last night, allowing 3 runs in the first 4 innings while walking 4 but settled down for 8 innings and pitched 4 shutout innings to close out his night.  Starting pitching hasn’t been the issue in these crucial losses. 

When I arrived at work this morning, a co-worker/friend of mine tried to pull information about the game from me and I simply didn’t want to talk about it.   There are times when examinations can be rendered and others when nothing needs to be said about a corpse.   After running through Florida, the Cardinals have found a speed bump that won’t give in Milwaukee.   The 2011 Cardinals trademark has been come from behind triumphs and a never say die atttiude.   What happens when your luck runs out?  This team turns me into a mad man and I can’t control it.

The Cardinals botched a chance to gain ground in the division and now can only hope to stay within 4 games of the lead.    They failed.  To quote the great Robert De Niro in the underrated cop drama COPLAND, “You had the chance to do something, I gave you the opportunity, and you BLEW IT!”  In this case, the mentally impaired receiver of DeNiro, Stallone’s sheriff, is the Cardinals team.  The Cardinals dropped the ball.   When I think of this team’s awful play in the last 48 hours, I think of a cop chasing a bad guy through the streets.   In this case, the cop is the Card and the bad guy is the Brewers(STL perspective).   The cop is poised to chase him down, make an arrest and has the tools and backup to do it.   Instead of catching up to him, the cop trips up and breaks his leg.  He wastes a chance to make an arrest, put a dent in the crime rate and do good.  He fails.  That’s the Cardinals this week.  Failing to take advantage of an opportunity.

Bottom Line-If The Cardinals lose tonight’s game against Milwaukee and fall six games out of first place, the rest of the season starts to unravel.   Every time we lose to the Brewers, the team’s chances take a bullet.  Will the Cardinals go down for the count?   When their back is against the wall, how will the Cards react?  Can they be rescued by Carp and the arrival of fresh lumber? 

My question-Are they worth saving?  Of course, because if you are a true baseball fan(not the one who tells you he doesn’t care yet likes to comment when the losing streak hits 2), you will never stop rooting for this team.   If it’s in your blood, the urge never dies.   However, the lights are dimming on this season.   If we can’t find a way to beat the Brewers, we don’t deserve anything.   One can’t that enough in order for the message to be correctly delivered.

Stay tuned for more tortued drama from the St. Louis Cardinals.   

So long for just awhile,

-DLB