The Idea of Open Minded Speaking

When it comes to ranting like a maniac, there is no real end in sight.  You go on and on, and only stop when you sleep, but in all actuality, stats are being counted, ideas are being born and the world keeps moving as you sleep.  That’s the way my mind works.  When something happens that gets my attention, there’s a need inside me to speak my point of view on it.  Call it crazy, purposeful but please respect a man with a keyboard with guns in his hands.  Here we go. 

It’s been 4 hours since my last post.   Since then….

Jason Isringhausen saved a game for the Mets against my team and his former team, The St. Louis Cardinals.   Ironic and fitting to see an old hand deal the Cards a slap on the second leg of this road trip.  Izzy takes over the role for the Mets after the team traded Francisco Rodriguez(23 saves) to Milwaukee to set up for John Axford.   Izzy has 294 saves, and rather or not some think its credible, that is the benchmark for closers to reach and feel satisfied.   After three years toying with retirement, getting healthy and slowly making his way back to respectability, Izzy gets his first save in 3 years.  The last year he closed games for St. Louis, 2008, Izzy collected 12 saves in a doom filled season that saw him and Ryan Franklin share duties in an off year for the team.  Remember?  Izzy starting the season by blowing 3 saves in the first week of the season, sounds familiar to actions seen in 2011.   With K-Rod gone, Izzy is inserted into the pressure cooker known as Citi Field in Mets land.   Tonight, he looked sharper than ever, the best since 2007, and made the middle of our order look like a Double A grunge band.  Matt Holliday reached for a curve and grounded out.  Lance Berkman reached for curve and grounded out.   David Freese struck out on a checked swing and before 15 pitches were thrown, Izzy had his first save of the season.  Let me tell you why this means something to me.  Izzy was my favorite Cardinal for 4 seasons.   As I have marched through my years as a Cardinal die hard follower, I’ve taken plenty of shots to the chest for Isringhausen.   When his hip blew up, his saves disappeared and my need for a bullet proof vest at my old job, on the Manual Scoreboard at old Busch Stadium, became increasingly apparent and required practice.   When Izzy fell, my job started as non profit counsel for Izzy’s former estate as a better than average closer.  Izzy was a thrilling guy to watch in the 9th inning because he made things interesting, hung every pitch on our shoulders and took every beating like a pro.  That’s why its good to see Izzy back in the saddle again.  He has earned it.  When he crashed, Izzy burned.   No one in the major leagues has worked harder, acted so selfless, taken the abuse on the chin, kept his head high and been as patient for his last chance than Isringhausen.  When I see him climb the hill like a former gunslinger who retrieved his lost gun(the deadly curve) and shut down my team, the death didn’t hurt as bad as when Francisco Cordero closes the door two nights before.  In short, for one night, it was alright to see Jason Isringhausen find his closing touch, gain save #294, and find a piece of his dignity lost three years ago at Busch Stadium.   A guy whose wife had to take their daughter out of Busch Stadium because the “best fans in baseball” screamed every possible negative one liner at Izzy as he walked off the field after a blown save.   A guy who has gone through 2 shoulder surgeries, one elbow surgery, 2 hip surgeries and various other injuries in his career to remain throwing 93 mph tonight.   If anyone has earned a second chance, its Jason Isringhausen.  Move over John Franco.  There’s a new aging closer in Queens. 

The Cards lose to the Mets because they couldn’t score more than 2 runs off a rookie pitcher, David Gee, that they never faced before or saw pitch at all.   A common trend for this team is to lose to rookie pitchers, so tonight wasn’t a surprise.  One must crawl over this dead body, sign off on the autopsy(no hitting, average performance from Kyle Lohse, efficient pitching and timely hitting NYM) and prepare for Game 2.   There’s bad news in this series.  Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia will not pitch.  There’s good news in this series.  David Wright isn’t playing but David Murphy can hit cleanup and bash deep fly balls over our drawn in outfield’s head.  The story of tonight’s game was Murphy crushing a 0-2 pitch from Raul Valdes with 2 outs over Jon Jay’s head in center.  If Jay is playing at normal depth, the deep fly ball is caught and the inning is over, leaving the score at 2-1 Mets.   Why is an outfielder playing so shallow with 2 outs and the cleanup hitter at the plate?  A horrible decision by Tony La Russa(probable cause) or a rare mistake from Jay(least likely).   Either way, the 2 run double makes the score 4-1 and the game is sealed. 

The worst thing about a defeat is the aftermath and effect.  With the loss, the Cards drop to 2 games out of first place and fall into third place behind the Pirates and Brewers.   Guess what the Pirates did for the second night in a row?  The Bucs shut out the Reds, 1-0, marking 18 innings of scoreless Reds offense.   John Hanrahan locked down his 28th save, the Pirates needed only 1 run, and they won again. After breaking the Cards hearts and taking 2 of 3 from us over the weekend, the Reds can’t produce 1 single run in 18 innings against Pittsburgh.   Do I take back my theory that the Pirates won’t hold up?  I will not do such a thing. Does the awareness of this weekend’s three game set between the Cards and Pittsburgh up East gain significance?  Yes indeed.  I am no expert at all folks, but I don’t like the Pirates one bit right now. 

Small bits on the Cards.  

  • Albert Pujols grounded into his 20th and 21st double play tonight, and in a two run loss those failed opportunities are huge.  AP is slowly arriving but his average can’t get past .283 and his double play tendencies are alive and well.   If he is going to stay around slugger weight(.270 BA, 20 HR, 55 RBI) he has to run out those grounders harder, especially on double plays. 
  • Nick Punto took grounders from shortstop and third base to prove to the team that his unintentionally funny lolly pop throw in Cincy was a fluke and that his elbow isn’t in two pieces right now.   Punto is vital to the Cards defense and bench, so if he sticks around and avoids his third DL stay of the year, its a positive development for this team. 
  • Colby Rasmus sits down again, holding his bad batting average and low hanging power stats in check for one night.  Colby saw zero action tonight.  No pinch hitting or wakeup calls.   Message, farmboy.  Start hitting quick because Tony La Russa gets his way in this town and that means bad news for young hot shot talent trains that derail easily.  Colby’s laidback demeanor doesn’t bother me too much.  His lack of production is the thorn in the side of my dick every time he strikes out in a crucial moment and homers in a useless at bat.  4 of Colby’s last 5 hits have been home runs.   Too bad I am talking about a 3 week period.  Colby, get well or be gone.  You have two weeks to wake up. 
  • If the Cards deal Rasmus, I will be surprised.   That’s all.   This isn’t a supporting statement for Colby or a presser on the Cards front office, just a know well hunch.  This is me saying the ego of the Cardinals front office and suits section is as big as 5 football fields.  They want to be right.  These are high powered businessmen with law degrees and money.  Are you surprised?
  • Put a gun to a GM’s head and ask him how much he likes a certain player and how much he really likes a veteran manager.  Don’t cock the trigger.  Just hold it and ask him.  I am curious.
  • Lance Berkman homered again tonight, bringing his season total to 26, almost twice the amount Puma collected last season in two different uniforms.   There are three things to consider here.  First, Lance Berkman isn’t done putting up big seasons in the majors.   Second, the Cards would be wise to negotiate an extension for 2012 now rather than at the end of the year when he has 42 HR and 110 RBI.  Third, this is what healthy knees, a repaired psyche and new digs can do for a veteran slugger who hid under the radar for 8 seasons.
  • How much can a fan trust the Cardinals bullpen right now?  Allow me to compare the situation to a person leaving his stove on low heat while he or she ran to the grocery store for a missing ingredient.   That’s about right. 

That is enough for now about this team that constantly wishes to drive me insane.   How many things in your life do you passionate about that you can’t control?  Please don’t tell me it is just a sport or a game.  Those who think that never played it or really got into it.   What we take seriously in life has to do with a truth inside us that can’t be explained.  This is the same reason I don’t frown on people who care two shits about baseball yet live and die over who some ugly lady on The Bacholorette picks to be her 1 year husband in training on live television.  We all have our passions. This is mine.

Movie Idea of The Week-In Time, starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfrield and directed by Andrew Niccol(Lord of War, Gattaca)

Imagine a world that took the phrase, “Time is money”, seriously?   In Niccol’s new film, societies aren’t cut up into separate pieces of geography yet decided by wealth and poverty.   The wealthy groups wear long button down shirts and waste time.  The poor wear zip up clothing(faster to assemble and wear) and must rush to work, through life and home in order to stay alive?  What if one day, you were told your time was up and you had to make it to work on time in order to “buy more time”.   That is Timberlake’s character’s predicament.   Please don’t knock JT.  The man is supremely talented and versatile.  He has taken several supporting roles in film and knocked all of them out(Alpha Dog, Social Network, Black Snake Mamba, Bad Teacher) while selling platinum records, killing on SNL and having sex with Jessica Biel.   Multi tasker who finally gets a movie of his own here.   This is a film that gets me excited because A)It isn’t an adaptation, sequel, or superhero CGI fest.  B)The script is fresh, the concept is smart and the cast is versatile and perfectly calibrated.  C)Andrew Niccol, director of visionary future world plots such as Gattaca and brilliant films lik Lord of War, is guiding the ship.  Imagine a world where you had to buy time.  A world where wasting time on a couch is seen as a crime and punishable by death.  Every moment is high stakes poker.   This is a film I am interested in.  Comes out in the fall, when the true heavy hitters start to arrive.

Secondary television isn’t advertised but it happens because unless you work 60 hours a week, drink like a fish, read a lot,  go to school and work full time or study plants or have a kid you have time on your hands at night.   When I watch MasterChef, Weeds, and Big C all in one night, I am in need of something to do with my time.   Secondary television can be seen as a guilty pleasure or as an ambitious kick in the head.   One of the good things with a kid arriving is time will have to be earned and not wasted on secondary television.  Here is an example.

First Rate Must Watch TV-Rescue Me, Dexter, Californication, Entourage, Wire, Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy

Secondary Television-Weeds, Big C, MasterChef, Royal Pains, Chopped

In the middle-Entourage, Man VS. Wild, Sons of Guns

Entourage is in there twice because depending on the season and the writing of Doug Ellin, Entourage can be a must watch or a show stuck in the middle of guilty pleasures and a waste of time.  

Speaking of the Boys from Queens attempt to make it big in Hollywood HBO series, the last season starts on Sunday.   An 8th and shortened final season and look at Vincent Chase and his band of theives from home.  The rock of the show still belongs to super agent Ari Gold, played like a bullet fired out of a glock by Jeremy Piven.  Piven gets the best lines, scenes, setup, leeway room in ad libbing and guides the best moments.   Aside from that, the appeal for this show for me is this.  The appealing nature of friendship.   The fun part is watching this group of friends take the hits and keep on coming.  Sure, they drive Aston Martin’s and live in Mansions, but they are regular guys at the core and in that divide lies bare boned appeal and intrigue.   Here’s to 4 more hours of Ari Gold zingers, good times with the boys and a halfway happy ending for the star crossed movie mini god Vinny Chase. 

Preview Ari Gold Zinger-“You don’t want Vinny mistaking your pale round head for a crack rock, Eric.”

If Doug Ellin(creator and head writer) did one thing well, it was expand Piven’s role on this show into a role that has earned Piven two Emmy awards and several nominations.  As Gold would advice, put on your armor, get your sunblock, because we’re going to hell and back. 

Song of the Day-Reaching into my U2 vault here and pulling out an old goodie, “Running to Stand Still”, from their finest achievement in making a complete album, the Joshua Tree.  This is a slow burner that needs to be listened to in the quiet of the morning or the deep hours of the night.  Either now or in 7 hours.

http://youtu.be/kioyUGaABjA

What else is there to talk about?  Follow me as I make my way down the rest of the list.

-If you want to know how older rock bands keep their mojo, listen to U2’s last two albums, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and No Line on the Horizon.

-After seeing the 90 second first preview in theaters and watching it three times in a row online,  Christopher Nolan’s epic conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is the ultimate must see film of 2012.   That’s right.  One year before its release date(July 20th, 2012), a teaser is released.  Welcome to the 21st century ladies and gents.   Here’s why it is the most anticipated film with 365 days left to wait.  Nolan’s genius.  He picked up a dead franchise and inserted new life into it.  He did the unthinkable and combined a blockbuster superhero film with a hardcore drama and created a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars and provided Heath Ledger with the role of a lifetime(his swan song) and a supporting Oscar to share in his grave.  Look at the 90 second spot and its details.   The Liam Neeson voiceover from Batman Begins starts things off here.

“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, than you become something else entirely, you became a legend, Mr. Wayne, a legend. “

That’s what I tell myself in the morning, but after that we see Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon staring down a person we know to see Batman while stricken with an unknown illness in a hospital bed.   Gordon is telling Batman that Gotham needs him back and that evil has rised up in his absence.  At the end of the last Nolan entry, The Dark Knight, The Joker had turned the city against Batman, leading to the dark hero taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s death and was casted out as a fugitive and rode off on his Batpod with Gordon smashing the bat signal.  This final film marks the return of the Caped Crusader to bring down justice on very bad guys like Bane(played by tough Brit/Nolan alum, Tom Hardy).  Look at the rest of the cast.  Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Oldman, Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt.   Stellar casting marks every Nolan production.  If you haven’t dipped into Nolan’s Batman universe, do so right now.  Put down the remote, go buy Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and get educated on film appreciation.  You have one year.  Here is the trailer.

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/07/18/the-dark-knight-rises-trailer-video/

To run or not run at this late hour in South St. Louis City?  I am not sure.

On Sunday, I took in the small film known to many as Harry Potter.   The final chapter came out on Friday and I took the wife(who read all seven books in stealth mode) to see it with friends.   My report.  The Potthead was who I thought he was.  It wasn’t bad or great, and exactly as I predicted.  A good time, full of adventure, little boys with little sticks, dealing with dark lords, angry witches, mysterious creatures and 2.25 hours of it.   Do I want to read all the books?  No.  Do I want to go back and watch every film?  No.  Will I admit the films are a tad bit enjoyable and slightly addictive to watch when in the seat?  Yes.   That is all.  There is no need for further review on Harry Potter.   He is good.  Another is bad.  Only one wins.  Go see for yourself.

Also in front of Harry Potter came the first trailer for Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows, the second Guy Ritchie-Robert Downey Jr.-Jude Law exercise in the famous detective story.   The first film, released on Christmas of 2009, was a highly enjoyable, rewatchable filmmaking treat that showed Downey at his peak and Law in fine form.   The key love fact on Ritchie’s take on Holmes is the way he turns him into a thinking man’s action hero with brains and wit to spare.  While the action is good and story is strong enough, the make or break factor is the chemistry between Downey’s Holmes and Law’s Watson.   Greatness.  Here is a clip.

http://youtu.be/bHBHMtl9YWw

One Reason to Want to see The Changeup, despite its body switching plot revisiting.  

1.)It stars a comedy dream team in Jason Batemen and Ryan Reynolds

2.)The director of Wedding Crashers is working here.

3.)The writers of the Hangover also work here.

Calling all comedy buffs.   Batemen’s family man speech on babies acting like “mini drug addicts” gets me in the door.

Hard Part for a Dad to be-Telling the wife that he doesn’t have the patience to wait for his future son to respond to a tap on the belly with a kick back.   I feel horrible pulling away from my wife, but its frustrating when you feel nothing. 

Tomorrow’s forecast-Hot as hell with a chance for more heat.  The heat index(what it feels like) is 115.   That’s it.  Do I really need to show a radar or chart?  Why is so much time wasted on the weather in prime time bland news segments?  Useless money wasting to watch a man with a clicker move around a green screen moving his hands up and down, making 150,000 dollars a year doing it and being wrong 50 percent of the time.

The NFL Lockout comes to an end, the NBA lockout only begins and free agency arrives all in one week in July.   The NFL lockout will end, hopefully, in less than 5 months. 

Appreciate a well made cup of coffee in the morning.   Tomorrow’s wakeup call.  Cafe Sumatra Blend from Starbucks.  Delicious.

Why did I start a blog?  The chance to speak to a room of millions of instead of the hundreds.   Simple as that. 

Until next time, you know the drill. 

All Politicians lie. 

Gas Prices go up and down like stocks.

Time keeps moving.

People live and die inside 24 hour periods.

There’s nothing we can do about it except for, maybe, talking about it afterwards.

That’s life, in my opinion, a series of conversations. 

Thanks for reading and goodnight.

-Dan Buffa

 

 

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A Round of Opinionated Discussion

Hello,

Now that the weekend is finished and the Monday Blues have come and gone, lets do a little recap of the action that took place over the past couple days.  This rant may not reinvent the idea of public opinion, but it will free my mind in the end. 

USA WOMEN’s TEAM DROPS THE WORLD CUP
The ladies blew it on Sunday, giving up two leads in the latter part of the game and eventually falling in penalty rounds to the Japan team by 3-1.   After wasting opportunities early in the game, the USA team got ahead 1-0 and blew it 4 minutes later.   They reclaimed the lead in extra time 2-1, but couldn’t starve off the Japan team as they tied the game 3 minutes before extra time ran out.   In this tournament, there is no sudden death overtime.  When you score in overtime, you must hold off the opposition until the end of the given time.  Abby Wambach proved clutch again, scoring the second goal on a perfectly timed header and scoring the only penalty shot for the USA team.  USA goalie Hope Solo stopped as many shots as she could but in soccer, the angles don’t favor the stopper, so in the end Solo was helpless.   The Japanese fought hard, tied the game twice, and used their knowledge of the USA penalty session style of to beat them in the end.  The USA team had played with fire throughout the entire tournament, and their lack of finish got to them on Sunday.   Simply put, the USA team dropped the ball at the wrong time.  With Japan on the ropes early, they didn’t capitalize on several scoring chances.  Late, when in the lead, they couldn’t clear the front of their net and lost control of the outcome.  On the bright side, it was good for Japan to win because of the devastation their country went through in the Tsunami.   They needed this more than we did, so in a small way, you were happy for them.   On the other side, it was a disappointing finish for a USA team that seemed bound for glory once again.   Wambach’s dream of lifting the Cup will have to wait 4 years until the next FIFA World Cup tournament.  Once again, the World Cup action was addicting to watch.  At one point, I was leaving the Cards game just to see how many minutes the game had left before the USA team would leave Germany with a win.   Soccer is a nail biter of a game to follow because while the action is slow building and emotion stirring, patience is rewarded when the goals fly into the net.   Every American had to be on their feet during this game and crashed and burned with the ladies in crunch time.   A missed opportunity from a thrilling team to a country that needs a win.  Sports titles stand as symbols of hope in this world and the World Cup will heal part of the tragedy of the tsunami.  The intention was to win the Cup but at least in the aftermath, the loss comes to a country in need of a lift.  On a racial slur note, how many times did I scream during the crucial moments of that game, “OH GOD, THIS IS PEARL HARBOR ALL OVER AGAIN! CLEAR THE NET!” At least four different times. Abby Wambach’s header to give the USA a 2-1 lead was a thing of beauty but we lost and that’s the way the chips fall. Also, on a body cleansing note, is it okay to ask the USA Women’s head coach to shave her beard now? That is highly disgusting in HD. Just saying.  While she was explaining the loss, all I could do was count her facial hairs.   Horrific.

THE CARDS DROP A SERIES IN CINCY
Once again, the Cardinals doomed themselves from the outstart when Fernando Salas blew his third save on Friday.   Similiar to a series in mid May in Cincinnati, the Redbirds came back from being down 2 different times to carry a 5-4 lead into the 9th inning, where Brandon Phillips hit a walkoff bomb to literally rip the hearts out of every Cards fan chest.   This guy getting the last laugh is like Bill Bidwell walking into Rams Park and lighting a fuse on another team.   Phillips hit the sure homer, jumped and hopped around the base paths like it was Game 7, rubbed it in as much as he could, and at that moment the Cards lost the series.   Salas blew his third save and put his own job in jeopardy right around the trade deadline.  The Cards starved off back to back bleed out stabbings in the Redlands on Saturday behind more Albert Pujols power and Chris Carpenter grit, winning 4-1 and Salas getting redemption in locking down his 17th save. Albert Pujols is alive and well, hitting 2 go ahead home runs over the series and looking more locked in than ever.   However, the bats went cold on Sunday and the Cards defense and lineup couldn’t solve Homer Bailey and the back and forth Reds-Cards rivalry continues.  Right when you think we could snap their backs with a come from behind win on Friday, Salas blows it up and the momentum shifts on Sunday.   If it weren’t for Carpenter gritting out 8 innings in the Great American Home Run Derby Park and Pujols’ clutch laser, the Cards may of been swept.  A Reds dominated series that sets the Cards up now as zig zag artists, a team that can’t figure out if they want to stay up and take another kick to the ribs. 

More Notes-
    • The Salas blown save/recovery over the weekend isn’t easy to explain but let me take a crack.  First thing is, the man doesn’t walk many batters.  He carries a 3-1 strikeouts to walks ratio and only gets beat by pitch location.   His fastball to Phillips caught too much of the plate and got sent out.  Jose Bautista’s home run at Busch was a well placed outside cutter that got lifted out.  Salas doesn’t make many mistakes but the ones he leaves over the plate are getting hit hard.   One defense of Salas is that La Russa uses him in several tied game situations and non save spots.   If he is the closer(17 saves makes you the closer, TLR), than he should only pitch in tied games that take place during the extra innings.   Salas is being overused by La Russa and is being exposed with the inning total.   Granted, the loss of Eduardo Sanchez and lack of a quality lefthanded reliever put a strain on La Russa’s choices but he can’t keep dipping Salas in frequent situations that aren’t a save spot.   Salas is slowly coming undone, enduring a subpar late part of June/first part of July after a stellar 6 week stretch after taking over the closing duties.  He is wearing down because this is a real innings load for the young righty and that’s a wall every pitcher hits in their first full season.   Can he last?  My answer is mixed because I know how La Russa will use him, in his reluctancy to name Salas the official 9th inning arm.   Another factor is Salas doesn’t get many 1-2-3 saves, and that leads to blown saves.  Base runners put on by closers lead to breakdowns in the current situation or future save chance.   Salas doesn’t have shutdown stuff.  His pitches are far better than Franklin’s arsenal, but Salas is slowly getting hit.   Friday’s meltdown could lead to a trade for Heath Bell.  I was against the move two weeks ago because Salas wasn’t wearing down too badly yet but now the move may be apparent.   The Cardinals can’t lose heartbreakers like Friday’s game in August and September if they wish to contend in this tight division race that has had a different leader each day of the past week.  I like Salas could see him move into an 8th inning setup role with Lance Lynn if Bell arrives in St. Louis.   The sticky spot here is the price required for Bell’s services.   Colby Rasmus is expendable(making the Padres carry two Ex Cards in their outfield), but what else would San Diego want?  The Padres are a sinking ship and want to move Bell but will ask for Shelby Miller, a highly touted pitching prospect that Mozelaik will not release.   Mo will also want to lock up Bell for 2-3 yrs  if a trade is made, which is smart if you are giving up Rasmus/2 other decent prospects.   The Cards aren’t a win now team because they have a deep roster and farm system of reliable talent and carry young players on their roster(Albert, Yady, Waino, Garcia, Freese, Jay, Holliday) but are unloading salary and contracts at the end of the season.   Do the Cards want to pay Bell 10-12 million a year if they are going to resign Albert, Berkman and potentially Carpenter?  That’s the question.  I don’t want to trade great prospects for a two month rental of Bell.  It’s just stupid.    However, there is a lot to like about Bell.   He closed down 19 straight games before blowing a save Thursday and is 73-75 the past two seasons in San Diego pitching on a light hitting(that’s a nice label) team.   Imagine his chances with the Cards high powered attack and the sky is the limit.   However, can the Cards keep Bell around and what would San Diego want in return for a A-list closer? Big questions in little St. Louis. 
    • Albert Pujols is still only hitting .280, but he is starting to crush the baseball.   He has 11 home runs since June 3rd and is slugging close to .700 in that period.   He nearly hit a homer in the 1st inning Friday but Chris Heisley robbed him with a great catch.  He is cranking line drives all over the field and has decent power stats heading into the last two weeks of July.   AP has 20 home runs and 55 RBI, and has also scored a team high 59 runs.  He isn’t walking a ton, but he isn’t striking out either.  He has hit into 4 ground ball double plays the past month after hitting into 15 the first two months.  He will eventually kick that average up near .290 and by the end of the year could be sitting with .300, 34 HR, 105 RBI, which would down for his standards but a great recovery.  Again, this comeback season does affect his contract talks but won’t split them in half.  My belief is AP wants to stay in St. Louis and will only be able to ask for a lesser amount of years and lower annual pay.  The 10 year deal is out the window, but the contract will still be strong if he finishes strong.  Albert sets his fate here with his finish.   He showed an amazing ability to recover from a serious injury and come back hitting stronger.  My feelings are still him asking for 5-6 years at 23-25 million per season, which for Albert’s below market value requests/great production is fair on both ends.
    • Non performance note.  I ran into David Freese at the Quik Trip in Kirkwood last week during the All Star break and can report the man is a gracious fella who stopped to say hello and provided me with a small bump to my usual paltry Monday.   Any time you run into an athlete and find out they aren’t an asshole is a cool thing to be a part of.  I said hello, congratulated him on the game winning home run against Arizona the day before, and also said farewell as I left and wished him well in the second half.  I didn’t say, “stay off the booze buddy”, because that would of ruined things a bit but it is good to see Freese has turned into a cheap productive player and stayed sober for the most part during his past year of recovery.  For a while there he was on a road to becoming Josh Hancock, Part 2 and his rehab from two DWI arrests is good to see.  Freese came to St. Louis in the Edmonds to San Diego trade and the move is looking better every time Freese delivers a clutch opposite field hit.  Once again, if we are to resign Albert and others, the need for cheap reinforcements at other positions is necessary.  Players like Freese and Jay are required to make the budget fit the guidelines of the team.
    • One more thing about Colby.  I don’t want to trade the guy for nothing and still see him as a worthy talent because something we are all forgetting is the kid is only 24 years old and still has years in front of him, a couple including cheaper ones.  In actuality, Rasmus is collapsing under high expectations set down by team scouts, management and owners.   Tony La Russa looks at him and sees potentia that’s going unrealized and eating up space in his daily lineup card.  In all fairness, Colby isn’t an expensive guy to keep in center field.   Here is the real kicker.  If Colby could perform half way near his expectations, Jon Jay stays on the bench and is a dynamite 4th outfielder.   If Colby hits, the team is near perfect on the lineup card.   You have Allen Craig when he returns and Jon Jay on the left side or pressuring Colby for at bats.   Rasmus has been given every opportunity this year to seize the job in center field but he hasn’t progressed, instead taking a step back.  However, John Mozelaik isn’t going to give him away for two bullpen arms or toss him away.  My firm belief is that he will hold onto Colby and give him more time to get into his zone.  If Colby hits, the Cards offense is unstoppable, literally.  There is no real weak spot in the first 7 spots if Colby hits.  By failing to succeed at a position crafted for him, Jay is being pushed into more starting and going away from his role.   Can Jon Jay be an everyday player and keep up the stats?  While taking into account my argument on the subject, there is zero evidence to challenge that Jay is ready to take the everyday role.   Which is why I see this happening.  The Cards take fliers on Colby, see what’s out there, ultimately keep him, give him another shot because this team is doing so well with minimum output from Rasmus.  Mozelaik won’t deal Rasmus because he won’t be enough to bring Bell into the closer role here or grab a rotation arm worthy of pushing Kyle McClellan back to the pen.   Mozelaik believes Colby needs more time, and also that Salas can close and be reliable.   Mozelaik’s entire plan is based on young players making big contributions and so far this 2011 team is near first place because of it.   While we don’t care to see Rasmus get more chances to strike out or misplay a ball in center, he will get that chance unless a big trade presents itself.  In the back of my head, I’m still quietly hoping that Colby starts to get hot.  It raises his trade value and helps this team during this crucial two week stretch where we play The Mets, Pirates, Astros and Cubs. 
    • The Pittsburgh Pirates get a dose of reality on Friday when they face the man they truly hate to see on a pitching mound and that’s Chris Carpenter.   Carpenter is 4-1 in his last 5 starts, hurling 8 innings per game, looking sharper and sharper and throwing 120 pitches a start.   In short sight, Carp is dominating right now and the Pirates will have to bring their A game to take him down.   While I like the renewed spirit in the Bucs, I won’t jump on the black and gold kool aid bandwagon and say The Pirates have a chance to win the Central and say hot throughout September.  This weekend’s series between the Cards and Bucs is huge because in order for the Pirates to steal this division they will have to continue to beat NL Central teams and that includes the Cards and Brewers.   Big time action this weekend.
    • Quiet reason why Ryan Theriot was tossed from Sunday’s game by an umpire after making contact and saying the magic words.   The ump leaned in and told him, “You really suck as a shortstop you overachieving ex Cub bitch”.   Just a thought.  This carries as much weight and humor as making the claim that Tony La Russa never had shingles and Colby Rasmus punched him in the eye several times one night when Tony kept referring to him a dumb calf.   Another thought.  Colby Rasmus hates Tony La Russa and that’s why he will never reach his full potential here.  La Russa has always been reluctant to start or play Rasmus because of his laidback style of play and inconsistency.  The sad fact that a simple change of scenery may do Raz a lot of good.  Unfortunate but probably true.   Theriot was suspended two games for his contact with the umpire, a rightful charge because there are certain things a player can’t do in a chat with the wardens on the field.   Make contact, say certain words and try to seem like the smarter man. Bad idea. 
A Few Work Pet Peeves of Mine-
  • Please don’t lean over me while I type.   Whenever I work on a rant at lunch or on break at work, I deal with several co-workers who lean down, breathe on my left ear and slowly read out loud my rant as I work on it.  I feel like swinging around, smashing them in the ankle and shoving them back into the left side of my cubicle.  Its simply impolite to lean over someone’s shoulder as they work.  Its too remiscent of high school, where teachers loved to spy on you during assignments.  The people that lean down over me are the same souls who will eventually get to read the rant when it is sent out.   Everyone wants to know what Buffa thinks about this and frankly, they have to wait.  The next time someone leans down over me as I write, I am going to push a button, which launches a pencil out of my shirt and into that person’s eye.   Every request is best delivered through blood, sweat and tears.
  • Monday’s suck, which means for the first 3 hours of my shift at work I really don’t need the mini press conference of questions, comments and remarks from co-workers.   Sometimes, a man needs to be left alone.  I leave myself out for slaughter because I am a very social person from 10am-330pm, but for the first few hours I don’t want anything sent my way.  You ever give bad advice because it was too early and you hadn’t gotten a cup of coffee yet to correctly simulate a potent response?  That happens to me all the time.  Its quite tragic.   One day, a person asked me about world peace at 830am and I responded quite tartly, “World Peace is overrated”.    In reality, I respect the idea of World Peace but will admit the world thrives off a little dose of anger throughout the days of our lives.  The fact is here that for the first 2-3 hours of work I don’t want to be talked to and need peace in order to perfectly calibrate my mind for the day’s activity.   Hold the press conference, the 20 questions, the need to get inside my head and soon enough I will be ready to talk Cards, politics, Asian religion, Chinese cuisine, and other random topics.  Give me some time. 

More Topics-

  • Cam Janssen signed a 1 year deal with the New Jersey Devils, returning to the team he started with and ending his 4 year career in St. Louis.  After coming over in  a trade for Bryce Salvador, Cam made the most of his chances and turned into a cheap effective enforcer, making 600,000 a season to run his body around the ice and take a fight when needed.    He was a local hero who gave more back to the city in community service than any athlete in town.   A St. Louis boy who was given an opportunity and seized it.  He was also a player who wouldn’t turn down a fight and often fought the biggest guy on the other team and held his own.  Up until the end of last season, Janssen was a credible fighter who won his fair share.   When Ryan Reaves arrived, Cam’s playing time was cut and his effectiveness in fights and ice time decreased.   Reaves is a hungrier fighter and a better all around player, so the move was warranted.   Cam will be remembered as the underdog city boy who gave until it was gone on the ice.   Good Luck Cam Janssen, one of my favorites.  I look forward to a Reaves-Janssen matchup in the middle of the season.  While I lament the departure of Cam, I understand it within the guidelines of this team.
  • The NFL Labor Deal is coming to an end this week.  Hopefully, the millionaires have sorted out their billions and the rest of us blue collar lovers can enjoy their fall football action on time.  A CBA will be reached by Thursday, opening up free agency by Friday.   For 3 days, teams can negotiate with their own free agents until Monday, when open free agency begins.  A long annoying useless battle may be ending just in time for tackling to begin.  Expect the Rams to be busy with an owner in place.
  • The 100 degree temperatures continue today and that means consistent sweating from 7am to 7pm.  There comes a time where you tell yourself that a stop point for sweating won’t come any time soon.   My work environment is a piece of scorched earth that hits you in constant waves.   Walk from office cool out into the warehouse heat and experience something the body doesn’t take a liking to.  I am not one to constantly bitch about things out of my control(heat, gas prices, politics), but when you are standing still doing next to nothing and burning up so much that you are infected with sweaty arms, the feeling is not good.  Here’s to 3 more days of this 12 hour madness. 
  • Last week was Lincoln Lawyer, and this week’s DVD must have is Limitless, hitting the shelves today and in need of viewing.  Ladies and gents, Bradley Cooper’s first solo mission as a movie star was dynamite entertainment and one of the most enjoyable movies of the year.   The story involed Eddie Morro(Cooper), a struggling writer with zero energy, blinded ambition and a life that represented a ticking clock towards slackerhood.   Then, Eddie’s brother in law stops in and gives Eddie a pill that is designed to unlock all the hidden brainpower that scientists tell us exists lost in the mind.   In less than 24 hours, Eddie is cleaning up his look, finishing his book, learning different languages and making friends in high and low places.  With powers comes new responsibilities and soon Eddie finds himself a target.  The rest spins quite nicely when seen.  The power vessel of this film is the star making crackerjack performance of Cooper, free from The Hangover ensemble to chew on his own steak here.  Cooper’s wild eyed gaze and ability to throw himself into the role breaks down a wall for the viewer because if we don’t like Cooper as Morro, the rest of the film falls flat.  Robert DeNiro carries a part as a banker interested and perplexed by Eddie’s abilities.   Cooper and DeNiro carry four great scenes together, carrying the look of two diggers circling a pot of gold.  Both deserve credit for their work here  DeNiro for taking an actual role where he can give a performance and Cooper for not shrinking in the competing role.  If you have the cash and time, rent this film.   A perfect mind rush for a hot summer night.
  • Every time I watch the trailer for Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s film about Billy Beane’s overhaul with the Oakland A’s in the earlier parts of the decade, I like the hints more and want to see this film.   At first glance, Pitt doesn’t seem a physical fit to play Beane, but when you make movies about real people and their stories, the look doesn’t have to be identical.  Did Russell Crowe’s beefy post Gladiator physique fit the skinny frail look of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind?  No, but Crowe was magnificient and nearly won an Oscar, losing only because Denzel blew us away with his evil nature.  Pitt carries the charm, cagey attitude and easygoing confidence to play Beane, a man who singlehandedly changed the way baseball teams were built.  Instead of relying on advanced scouting and feedback, Beane and his assistant(Jonah Hill) used sabermatrics, raw stats, and the numbers game to seek out their players.  Dealing with a small payroll and a sinking franchise, Beane changed things and turned the A’s into a playoff team.  While not liked, Beane’s actions were warranted.  Moneyball is a film worth seeing if you like true sports stories told from the inside out.   Pitt’s performance and the base of the story make this highly anticipated.
  • U2 blasted Busch Stadium on Sunday evening, bringing their 360 degree tour to St. Louis for a show that few will soon forget.   If I had the money and the time, I would of been there to take in a once in a lifetime show.  U2 is a band that I have admired since I was in my teens, growing up on their legendary Joshua Tree album and savoring their hits over the years and finding time to take in their latest work. How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and No Line On the Horizon.   While some will say U2 have abandoned their original style of music, I will argue that Bono, The Edge and company have stayed true to their roots while stretching their music inside the universe of different genres.   They can change styles of music from album to album yet retain their core sound.   There is no better way to recognize a U2 song than to hear the electric sound of The Edge’s guitar.  The thing I admire about this band is that they perform great live(based on several trusted accounts from friends) and they deliver consistently across the globe.  Bono is a great rep for World Peace and The Movement to improve Poverty and does several good deeds.   Bono is a musician/celeb who doesn’t just make promises yet fulfills them too.   This is a band that gives back as much as they receive, something they haven’t lost over the years.   While Bono’s voice has taken a hit(25 years of work will do that to a small irishman), his songwriting has remained strong on the past two albums, especially low riding hits like “All Because of You” and his shot to the heart from dealing with the passing of his dad, “Some Things You can’t do on your own”.   While some complain that their giant stages and tours aren’t needed, they have grown into that arena of rock and earned the spectacle.   I am 100 percent sure that if a fan of the band were thrown into that environment on Sunday, they would find little to complain about once the lights went out and the music got loud.   U2 are one of the few bands who hung together, still create fresh music and don’t forget about their fans, young and old. 
  • A key to remembering lost good friends.  A nod to my late friend Troy Siade, because the man deserves more words than my fingers can produce.  The only way to extend a person’s legacy is to talk about them constantly.  Remember his actions, his face, his electric humor, his energy and the way he changed the makeup of a room once he entered it.  That’s the only way I’ve been able to get over his passing.   Remembering him and keeping in touch with fellow friends of the Manual Scoreboard of Old Busch Stadium.  Keep them alive in your own memories.  I never wish to make someone emotional over a retelling of Troy’s effect on me.  I bring them up because I miss them and the only way to heal is to remember what they did here.  A friend asked me the other day why I am such a die hard Cards fan.   Avoiding the usual thesis statement answer, I simply told them this.   “I have to be double die hard for this team for myself and a late friend.” 
  • A key to knowing which friends of yours are the true ones.  The friends you can go to the edge with in a conversation and come right back to a common ground of fair and concentrated opinion.   Those are the keepers.  I happen to have more than one in my back pocket and it keeps me sharp. 
  • Shows to Watch right now.   Rescue Me and True Blood.  If you only have one hour, make it Rescue Me. 
  • Once again, I’ll take the winter over the summer because cold weather is easier to protect yourself against. 
  • One more thing.   I am not an expert but I do happen to know a few things.   I don’t stand here as a god of all opinion.  Just another guy unloading his inner thoughts.  
Thanks for listening and goodnight.

-DLB

The Weekly Buffa News Reel

A stream of semi concious thought begins with an opening statement.

A reminder. If it comes out of your mouth, than in some way, you meant to say it.   The one thing I hate in life is people who don’t appreciate a good memory.   A family member or friend will say something to you and days or months later will forget that it ever happened.   They will say that they didn’t mean it.   It was a fluke of built up proportions inside their throat that got put on the vocal chord speedbelt without editing.   What they forget is that the target never forgot the intention of the words.   Hopefully, by now, you understand what I am talking about.   Joking doesn’t exist.  Sarcasm is a tool used to shadow real intent.  When words come of someone’s mouth, the makers had a clear intention for them.  It’s almost unfair how sickeningly good my memory is.  I remember everything that comes out of a person’s mouth, or pretty close to everything.   This isn’t taking everything personally, trust me.  This is a database of dialogue that helps in future conversations and arguments.  If you said it to me in a tantrum or a blast during an argument, there was truth to it and for that it must be stored in the memory.  Words aren’t wasted here.  If drunk or high, words still aren’t wasted.  If mad or happy, words aren’t wasted.   Truth serum isn’t needed anymore.  People reveal themselves through the language they speak.   If its thrown in your direction, there was meaning and precise thought behind it.    Remember this always. 

Now let’s begin with the ideas, thoughts and random bits hiding inside my brain.   Let the unplugged firing session begin. 

A Tragic Note-Arlington firefighter Shannon Stone died last week at a Texas Rangers game while lunging for a baseball thrown to him by Josh Hamilton.   Stone was sitting in the outfield bleachers, reached over a waist high pole, and flipped over it down between the seating area and the outfield wall 20 feet head first into a concrete floor.  Lights out.   Stone was a 18 year veteran of the firefighting force in Brownwood, Arlington.  He died tragically and suddenly in front of his 6 year old son, who fellow friends and coworkers said was inseparable from his dad for his entire life.   This is a sad story that will likely bring a lawsuit from the family’s lawyers about the safety measures in Arlington Stadium.   This is two accidents in two seasons for the Rangers.  Last year, a man with a few beers in him, flipped over a middle section onto the concourse below, and lived.  Stone fell to his death doing what many fans would do.  Reach for a baseball given to him by an All Star baseball player.  Personally, I don’t reach for baseballs at games, but if thrown right in my direction by Albert Pujols, I might see the need to make an effort.  Stone was stupid, but did something risky and paid for it.  He was a firefighter after all.  They are paid to take huge risks in high danger situations.   Hamilton will feel horrible for a while.  He didn’t kill a person, but he flipped a baseball that forced a fan to overextend himself and plunge to his death.   If I were Hamilton’s “special adviser”, aka the person who keeps him away from drugs and alcohol, I would keep a close eye on him these next couple days and weeks to protect him against a relapse.   Watching a man fall to his death the minute you connect with him and his kid is rough ground for a fragile addict like Hamilton.   Just a precaution. 

BLUES-Taking 5 players and going with it
-David Backes-Give him The Captain stitch.   Backes has earned it with his solid play, leadership and pure style of play over the last 3 seasons.   A captain isn’t about points, goals or winners.  Its about reputation.  What the other players think of you and how your play sprinkles onto their future chase.  Backes breeds toughness, smart play and knows how to play hockey.   He deserves the right after Eric Brewer jokingly carried it for several seasons of mediocre play.
-David Perron-A mystery that could only get worse with decision making on horizon.   GM Doug Armstrong pumped these team up with veteran juice last week with the additions of Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Scott Nichol.   This puts David Perron in a hard spot if you ask me.   Perron has been sidelined completely from hockey activity since November after suffering a mid-ice blind sided hit from Joe Thornton.  Since the hit, Perron scored a game winning goal, took a seat the rest of the season and hasn’t done much since the last game at Scottrade.  He is a poor French boy with a headache that won’t go away.  Armstrong has a suddenly crowded roster that includes Matt D’Agostini, a 20 goal scorer from 2010-2011 who doesn’t deserve to play on the 4th line unless David Perron is out.   Unless Perron starts hockey activity by next week, he will be out until November.   What do you do with the talented yet head broken kid?  Big decisions coming up.  The team insurance is paying him while he heals from his massive concussion, but this isn’t a money issue.  It’s a roster issue.  He can’t go to Peoria, but he can go on the extended injured list.   Perron’s concussion has built a huge boulder in the middle of his career.  Highly unfortunate. 
-T.J. Oshie-Wake up kid.  Fourth year is the make or break session.   A one year contract from your team means only one thing.  Impress me now.   Fan favorite or not, Oshie is on the hot seat. 
-Patrik Berglund-A 2 year deal doesn’t mean to lay down the ambition verve either.   Bergie, when he is on and playing at full ability, is a game changing talent.  A Colby Rasmus like talent that is only great when fully realized.  Berglund has the size, skill and soft hands to score 35-40 goals in this league, but will he ever do it?  50 point seasons need to stop now and PB needs to step up. 
-Jaroslav Halak-Look you little Slovakian fuckstick, its time to put up or shut up.   The Blues found you more muscle, but can you provide a consistently strong net presence.   The soft goals need to be cut down.  This team needs a dominating goaltender to take over the games where they can’t light the lamp.  Can you be that guy?  The team gave you a 4 year safe and secure contract after seeing you play a great half season in Montreal.  We stole you from Canada, so prove your worth. 
Note-The Blues sign former sniper/right winger Jonathon Cheechoo to a 1 year, 2 way deal.  If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Cheechoo was a promising scorer five years ago.   From 2005-2007, in two seasons, Cheechoo tallied 93 goals and 69 assists with the San Jose Sharks.   He was a grinder, a goal scorer, and a guy who would get dirty if he had to.  However, his production slipped so bad that in 2009-2010, the Ottawa Senators released him.   If you are looking for the answer to the riddle of his lost touch, look elsewhere.  He simply stopped scoring, lost value, got traded and then released.  The Senators released him when they traded for Dany Heatley, who has since left Ottawa.  From 2008-2010, he had 10 goals.   He spent the last two years in the AHL in Worchester.   Playing for a different Sharks team, he had 18 goals and 29 assists last season.   His deal with the Blues is a second chance in the NHL.  A go for broke signing that leaves low liability on the Blues end and gives Cheechoo a chance to recapture what was lost years ago.  The scoring touch.   With Arnott and Langenbrunner, I’ll take this 30 year old winger looking for redemption because he doesn’t have a weight on his shoulders, will have to earn his minutes and could end up being a steal.   A two way deal means his contract is valid in St. Louis or Peoria, meaning the Blues can send him back to the AHL if he doesn’t produce up here or a spot is needed for younger talent.  In general, Cheechoo is back yet on the clock.  An exciting deal.   The pay is 600,000 dollars if he makes it up to the NHL with the Blues, and 105-225,000 if he stays in Peoria.  The Blues are paying Cheechoo as much money to attempt to revive his career as they are Brian Elliot to fight with Ben Bishop for the backup goaltending slot.  Its make or break money and a contract that puts the ball in the player’s court.  Cheechoo has been training all summer, working on his speed and hopefully can get back being the once promising player who collected 10 points in a playoff series.  A comeback story only missing the production.   As Yahoo News’ Greg Wyshynski writes, Cheechoo’s headline can read:”Blues sign former 50 goal scorer”, which is comparable to seeing the poster for M.Night Shymalan’s next movie with the reading, “The Director of the Sixth Sense and Unbreakble”, not knowing what the result will be.  Cheechoo is a mystery.  Will he be worth the look or a waste of time?  We’ll find out.
CARDS
-Jaime Garcia getting a 4 yr, 28 million dollar deal with two options is a smart move by Mozeliak. Lock up a talented young lefthander for 7 million a season in the prime of his career. A similiar deal that Mozelaik worked out with Yady Molina and Adam Wainwright. A testament to Mozelaik and head scout Jeff Luhnow’s system. Look up and down the roster. Garcia, Pujols, Molina, Wainwright, Jon Jay, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Kyle McClellan, DD, and Jason Motte.  Future rotations arms Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez are on the way.   The Cardinals are building a team of young guns.  A team of minor league born talent fully arrived. Garcia is latest to be locked in.   Garcia is 9-3 with a decent ERA and duplicating 2010’s success.   Anytime you can get a very good lefthanded starter at a young age for 7 million a season set up long term, you take the deal.  If this is on the table, the Cards need to get it done. 
-With Adam Wainwright on the mend, The Cards would make an extremely smart play to bypass the holding period, break the urge for Wainwright to rush back from Tommy John surgery, and exercise the options on his contract for 2012 and 2013, which would pay him 9 million and 11 million annually.   Wainwright is a Cy Young caliber talent when healthy, and if you have a chance to reserve his services for less than 15 million a year, why wait on a rehab to complete or present other dangerous options for the righthander.   If there is a chance to get him cheap, do it.  If the cards are in play, go ahead and negotiate an extension to the options, throw on an extra two seasons at 15 million and 18 million for 2014 and 2015.   Keep him here.   He is a young highly talented pitcher, and will more than likely come back strong from a huge injury.  Instead of waiting and praying, just sign Wainwright up, kick in the options, and allow him to slowly make his way back.  Take the gun out of his hand and get him a chair for this season.
-Did Albert Pujols deserve to be at the All Star game?  When the initial fan votes came out, my answer would be no.   Joey Votto and Prince Fielder were more deserving and Pujols was still on the disabled list with a then serious wrist injury.  However, now that he is back and healthy and hitting, his case gets stronger.  Also, with 5-6 players pulling out of the game, there is a spot for Pujols on the team.  It’s weird to see him not on the team.   His first half stats are only subpar by Albert Pujols standards.  .277 BA, 18 HR, 52 RBI, .355 OBP.   You trying to tell me AP isn’t one of the top 35 players in the National League?  After all the sitouts and injuries to voted in players, Albert should of received a call from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.   Scott Rolen and Miguel Montero don’t deserve to be on the roster in front of Albert.  Any way you slice it up, something is wrong here. 
The Jon Jay VS. Colby Rasmus Argument
-Jon Jay is a smarter play for the Cardinals right now than Colby Rasmus.  With the trading deadline rolling up and the Cardinals sitting with a few needs, its time for Rasmus to be trade bait.  If I had to pick one of the players to ride out the rest of this season, my answer is easily Jay.   Look at what Jay has done in 224 at bats in 2011.  He has hit .300, drove in 22 runs and hit 7 home runs and plays fundamentally sound baseball.   Jay is an all around better player than Rasmus.   Colby is a huge disappointment to me.  From 2009 to 2010, Rasmus showed improvement.  In the same amount of at bats, he hit 7 more home runs, drove in 14 more runners, hit 25 points higher, doubled his walks and scored 30 more runs.   He progressed from his rookie season to his sophomore session.  In his third season, he is regressing and declining.  He is hitting .249 with only 9 home runs and 36 RBI, and in his last 10 games he is hitting .132 with 1 home run and 4 RBI.   He isn’t getting the job done and he is getting worse in center field.   Colby can’t make big plays and doesn’t possess a strong arm.   He hasn’t hit well in one spot in the order.   With runners on base and a chance to tie the game on Friday night at home, Colby struck out on 3 pitches.  He has struck out 15 times in the past 10 games and walked just twice.   He is getting worse.  Jon Jay is a cheaper, more sound and skilled option in center field.  A few more reasons. 
-Jay will come cheaper.   In a free agent period where the Cards will battle to keep the likes of Pujols, Berkman, Chris Carpenter in Cardinal red beyond 2011, keeping the cheaper player in Jay is a smarter play.  
-With Holliday and Berkman back in the outfield and Freese and Pujols back in the lineup, there isn’t a need for a power hitting speed option in center field or in the # 2 hole in the lineup.   Jay is a contact hitter with occasional power but can give you the big hit and hit .300 with more playing time.  He has risen above the overexposure label with his performance in 2011.   Jon Jay gives you balance in the lineup. 
-Colby is heading for arbitration after the season, which will cost the Cardinals money if Colby stays and finishes well.  
-Jay is a more clutch hitter, pulling a .333 BA with Runners in scoring positon and 2 outs.   Colby is hitting .233 in the same spot. 
-Jay possesses far better defense in center field, carries more range and can make the amazing catch, as he has 3 times in the past month.   Jay has a plus arm while Colby has an average to poor arm. 
-Jay simply plays the game the right way.  He is a smart hitter who makes contact, doesn’t strike out as much and plays the game right.  A classically fundamentally sound baseball player.  In short, he isn’t stupid out there.
-Colby offers you more on the trade market and the Cards have needs.  A 5th starter and lefty help in the pen stick out and Rasmus is a key componet.  For years, Walt Jocketty and John Mozelaik resisted the urge to deal Colby in order for him to reach the next level of center fielders, but he hasn’t made it and gotten worse in his third season. 
Quite simply, who you want at the plate with the game on the line right now?  Jay or Rasmus.   Who do you want in the lineup?  Jon Jay, end of story.  He is more clutch, defensively skilled and able.   He is cheaper and just what this lineup needs.   He is a perfect #2 hitter who can be the table setter for the big bats in the lineup.  This is a tight NL Central race and decisions have to be made.  In my opinion, Jay has risen above the backup label and turned into an everyday player here in St. Louis while Colby has taken a step back.   Keep Jay and deal Raz if the deal is there to make. 
A Word for Colby Rasmus
Look, I don’t dislike Colby and want him gone because he is the basis of every bad mood in my life.   To me, he is a player with supreme talent who may never reach the top of his potential.   Every time we think he is going to move up, he takes two steps back.  He is an exhaustingly talented player who confuses fans.  That’s why he is expendable, not untouchable but I don’t want the Cards to dump him for nothing.  I am not surprised my good friend and Cards President Bill DeWitt III is defending Colby on the radio and telling us we need to be patient.  For 6 years, Rasmus has been the golden child of this organization.  He is playing in his third year in the pros this season and stopped making progress.  To an owner/president, he is going to be the player you never want to let go.   To a fan, he is a player who is increasingly hard to watch.  Once again, he made big improvements from 2009 to 2010.  His numbers went up and he showed promise.  In 2011, he has gone down.  Maybe it’s Jon Jay flanking him in left field when Holliday missed time.  Maybe he looks at Lance Berkman and doesn’t see him going anywhere, so he thinks Jay is right behind him in 2011.   Jay is directly behind him and waiting to take over.  That puts pressure on a player, but remember, this is the major leagues and pressure is the main ingredient blocking supreme success.   Colby either deals with it or succumbs to it.   His father isn’t helping things, because Tony La Russa wants to be the only control freak in this town.  Tony Rasmus, Colby’s dad, keeps an open line next to his bed, throws Colby BP after games at Busch Stadium, and is plugging his own knowledge into his sons head like he is still 5 years old in the back yard playing catch.  Tony Rasmus, this isn’t little league anymore.  Its the major leagues.  Its chess and not checkers, so back off.  I’m all for father-son exchanges on baseball, but when he is on Cards property working with his son and going on internet forums saying Rasmus needs to leave St. Louis, he needs to shut it down.   Rasmus is an intriguing talent, a good player, but what more will he ever be?  He doesn’t get the patience that Pujols/Holliday get during their slumps.  They have years and decades of proof that their hard times come to an end, but Colby, he has nothing.    He will always be a commodity to the Cardinals, but sooner or later, the Cards have to realize that Colby’s value as a commodity towards other teams could take a fall.   They need to strike while the iron is hot. 
More Cards News
-Fernando Salas finishes the break with 16 saves in 18 chances, bringing an imperfect blend to a broken arrangement and fixing the situation with effectiveness.   Salas doesn’t complete many 1-2-3 ninth innings but he has restored order to an early season casualty.  If he can keep it up, the bullpen is a strength instead of a liability.  Its easy to find a lefty on the market than a real good closer.   In the same manner as center field where Jon Jay offers you a cheaper more effective reward, Salas may present the Cards a chance to keep their prospects at the end of the month and leave Heath Bell in San Diego. 
-Albert Pujols has reclaimed the magic touch at the end of the first half, going 5-8 on Saturday and Sunday to bring his comeback numbers up to 6-20(.300), 1 HR, 5 RBI and 4 runs scored.   Pujols finished the first half with .280 BA, 18 HR, and 50 RBI.   His walk total is down, but he only struck out 27 times.  He has scored a team high 54 runs.  AP hasn’t been himself for the first half but he has shown enough progress to not worry about his power numbers while his average struggles to climb.  His extended snub from the All Star game hurts, but the four days off to rest the wrist and let him get locked in for the second half are good news.  What is his free agent status right now?  A mystery.   He has the chance to finish with .300, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 100 R and stay under 60 strikeouts and still command a 4-7 year contract at 24-25 million per.   His prospects of getting a ridiculous 10 year deal are gone, but I doubt Albert ever wanted to tie the teams hands together with that long engagement. 
-The needs are starting pitching help because if you find a decent fifth starter, Kyle McClellan goes back to the bullpen and both sides get help.   A lefthanded reliever is also a need unless La Russa wants to utilize Trevor Miller and insert Raul Valdes into a bigger role.   Tampa Bay and Toronto are suitors for Rasmus but a deal must be equal on each side to be green lit. 
-When Eduardo Sanchez returns, the bullpen gets stronger.   Sanchez carries a 1.88 ERA in 28 innings with a 2-1 K-BB ratio.   The Cards need to treat his shoulder delicately so he is 100 percent and ready when he returns.
The Road Ahead For Cardinals Baseball
-Overall, the Cards finished the first half 49-43 and tied for first place.  I’ll take that with the damage given to this team.   Their outlook is decent, especially when you consider they spent the better part of the first half injured and walking with a limp.  Now, fully equipped, this team is primed to take off if a couple new players arrive.   The Cards will play their 10th game fully loaded on Friday, with their entire starting lineup from opening day intact.  The team survived because the bench stepped up, namely in rookies Daniel Descalso, Jay, Allen Craig, Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Lance Lynn.   If there is no bench help, this team plummets.   Lance Berkman’s MVP effort powered this survival also.  Pujols has woke back up from his slump, Carpenter has taken ahold of the rotation, and this team has 5 walkoff wins in 2011 so far which means the team isn’t going down without a fight.  If I am a Cardinal fan, I am intrigued yet worried by this team because they’ve shown an ability to come back and stay up but collapse too easily.  Friday’s series opener in Cincinnati is a huge start and a big series for a team looking for positive traction directly out of the gate.  Will Colby rise up and claim his job?  Can Carpenter hold up?  Will Salas keep the saves coming?  The biggest question is…what will Albert do?  The Brewers, Pirates, and Reds will continue to hang around and fight for this thing so the second half will be interesting.  The division is up for grabs, so worry about winning that first.  Getting into the playoffs is first priority.  Worry about the details after the October starts. 
All Star Game Recap-The National League beat the American League in a good old fashioned game of clutch hitting, timely defense and excellent pitching.  The NL pitched better, got a couple more timely hits and made plays in the field.  For the second year in a row, home field advantage exists with the NL and that’s a good thing if you are a Cards fan.   If you think home field advantage doesn’t mean anything, think about if you would rather play Game 7 of the World Series inYankee Stadium or at Busch Stadium.   The Giants took advantage of their home field edge in beating the Rangers in 2010.    Its a big deal and while the format is wrong, the end result is clear.  The deciding factor for home field advantage in the playoffs shouldn’t be decided by an exhibition game, but as most things are in life, that’s just the way it is so we deal with it.  Here are some things I’ll remember about the All Star game in 2011.
-Hunter Pence’s bullet throw from left field that nailed an overambitious Jose Bautista at home plate in the pivotal momentum changing 4th inning.  Bautista made a nice catch in the 2nd inning, got a base hit but took a huge risk in rounding third and taking a chance at home.  Pence’s throw was a direct shot to Brian McCann at home plate and nailed Bautista.  The instant I saw it I thought to myself, “There’s no way that was Matt Holliday who made that throw”, and I look up and Pence subbed in for Holliday.  Great throw that changed the direction of the game.   Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a solo homer off Cliff Lee, and two singles later, the AL were poised to break through, but Pence’s throw ended the two out threat. 
-The Prince bomb.   After Pence’s throw, Fielder bombed a 3 run game deciding homer that clinched the game and barely got over the left field wall.  The home run came off Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson.   Fielder scored the MVP with his big hit and made up for a dropped pop up in the 2nd inning.  
-Lance Berkman’s single and caught stealing in the 2nd inning.   There’s no telling what made Berkman(0 steals in 2011) make a dash for second base with Matt Holliday at the plate, but the result was a strike out-throw out that ended the threat and led to both Cards being taken out of the game.  Yady Molina scored a double off Chris Perez in the 7th and did a classy deed in tipping his cap to the former Cards hurler before and after his hit. 
-Heath Bell’s 17 mph dash from the bullpen to the mound in the 8th inning, which ended with a pop up slide in front of the mound.  Known for bringing out the unpredictable nature of bullpen mutts, Bell drilled humor into a pitching duel infused game. 
We can break down the pro’s and con’s of the mid season classic all day, but I will say I enjoy it and appreciate the additional effort of players since the game started to carry meaning.   Its an exciting nostalgic experience to see your favorite players in one setting battling against each other   This was an exciting game that included everything we love about the game.   Great pitching, timely hitting and a key defensive play.   The change of the guard in the power from AL is NL is pleasing and the last two games have been dominated by the NL, which is a good sign for a league shut out from 1996-2009.   I don’t like the idea that Derek Jeter declned a chance to show up and participate.   Fans travel across the country to see the players they help vote in, so when Jeter takes an “emotional break”, its a letdown all around.  He doesn’t get a choice.  He needs to show up and please the people who pay his salary.  The Home Run Derby sucks and carries no thrill unless your player is in the final round.   Its a glorifed session of batting practice that gets old after the 3rd or 4th home run.   Seeing Robinson Cano bash 24 home runs in 3 rounds to win it isn’t anything special because he is hitting soft toss pitches.  If they wanted to make it real interesting, put real pitchers on the mound and tell them to pump heaters at the plate and then see how many home runs gets hit out.  Do that and its a contest.   There’s also the strategy of getting rid of the derby all together because it sucks up prime time and puts the futures game on Sunday afternoon.   There are several things you could change with the game but as long as the games are entertaining and worth watching, the festivities and complications that come with them can be tolerated. 
Changing gears into a Movie Review-Horrible Bosses
I highly recommend Horrible Bosses for various reasons that start with hilarious and end with satisfying.   Solid comedies are hard to pull off and when a movie brings all the componets together, one must take notice and spread the word.  The plot is simple.   Three friends, played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, and Charlie Day, have evil manipulative rotten bosses.  Horrible Bosses is a joke drunk look at the corporate ladder of envy, shame, powerless standing, and general miserable life of the working class souls.  The three friends who suffer throughout this movie can found in real life everywhere.  90 percent of work slaves hate their bosses and wish harm to them.  Its a natural tendency and that’s why this film’s concept works.  The success of the jokes and jokers playing make it a great time at the movies. The three protagonists have it bad here.   They complain about their bosses every day and wish they were gone but haven’t done anything about it.  One night, they hatch a plan to murder them, which sets off mishaps, complications, mistakes and hilarious adventures.  Here are a few reasons why this movie works.
1.)A raunchy well written comedy is always welcome in the summer when sequels, superheroes and CGI madness is going on.  Comedy is golden because of its synthetic basis and makeup.  The need to laugh and watch realistic situations play out horribly is classic fun.   The script contains classic one liners, dirty dialogue and hilarious scenarios setting up our protagonists.  The writers pull no punches and soak the script in filthy humor that plugs the film with required deadly dry humor.
2.)The film pulls a page from Hangover, citing an emphasis on the adventure of a group of friends instead of leaning on a concept alone.  Everybody hates their bosses in some manner, but we must care about the good guys here or else the bad things they do hit down wrong.   Great comedies don’t rely solely on a good concept.  We must care about the characters in the script and follow them through their travels.   Similiar to the Hangover, we care about what happens to these three friends desperatey trying to correct a piece of their lives.   Batemen is a guy who is worthy of a promotion but gets stepped on by his user of a boss, played with complete evil deeds by Kevin Spacey, pulling a page from his Swimming with Sharks rotten bad guy.  Day is a dental assistant who is sexually assaulted by his boss(a reinvented Jennifer Aniston) and only wants to be a good husband to his fiance’.   Sudekis is a chemical company worker who loses his mentor in one day and has to deal with his worthless son(Colin Farrell, add hairpiece and gut).   The problems these guys face are the problems of many, so we relate and follow.  Key part to the film.
3.)Great ensemble acting, including a wow performance from Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell.  Aniston carries the dirtiest dialogue in the film and reinvents herself as an actress here by doing something here she never does.   Play dirty and bad.  She sheds clothing, spits out the naughty dialogue and pulls interest in her corner.   She will never be a good actress, but she can play the occasional good role.  This is one of them, because she goes away from her normal routine and spices things up.  Farrell has always been a gifted actor, and plays the lowest of the shitty bosses in a four scene cameo meant to not shock his fans but add another layer of genius to it.  Batemen, Sudekis and Day are all fine as well.   Batemen gives another quality understated performance here, capturing the working man’s headache in a non sentimental way while Sudekis soaks up the lady man jokes and Day is the energetic speed demon, racing through his jokes while being effective.
4.)Quick pace keeps the action moving.  Every comedy needs a good pace in order to let the jokes fall in place but keep the story moving.   Comedies slow down and the excitement dies.  Moviegoers want to be lost in a comedy’s good natured fun but don’t need too much plot.
5.)Consistent jokes that aren’t in the trailer.  The key to any good film is to resist giving away all the goods in the trailer  Throughout the film, we get new setups and jokes that weren’t seen in the trailer, which means Director Seth Gordon didn’t play his entire hand in the preview.  This is always a good thing because surprises are in store. 
All in all, a very good film for the simple fact that the script ranks as high as the players reading it and the running time and scenes don’t let up until the credits roll.  Do the bosses get their due?  In a matter of ways, but the juice is in seeing the manner in which an ending is met.   The satisfaction here lies in the last third of the film bringing the entire plot together.   A very funny film and highly worth seeing in theaters.  
USA Women’s Team Headed to Final
While I am not a soccer fan and only get infested when it comes to the World Cup and other top flight tourney play,  I can jump on the bandwagon here and appreciate the Womens team effort.   After outlasting Brazil in a thriller shootout on Saturday, The USA knocked out France today in commanding fashion, 3-1 and will meet Japan or Sweden in the championship game.  Its alright to get on the bandwagon because this team represents the entire country when they step on the field.  The women are playing for every American who was born, raised and lives in this country.   That’s why its easy to get excited.  This is America’s team and we are behind them.   Its hard to forget 1999’s thriller finish when the Women’s team won the final in a shootout and the Brandi Chastan fell to her knees, ripped off her jersey and screamed in wonder as the entire team swarmed her at mid field.  In that moment, womens stance in sports took a major step up.   What sport do women receive worldwide play here?  Tennis and maybe golf.   The triumph in 1999 brought women’s power in sport to the world and put women on a pedestal for the first time since Bille Jean King won in New York against the top male tennis competitor.  This is everything.   The chance to see the women take down the top competitor and win the Cup 12 years later is a thrilling concept and worthy of everybody’s attention, soccer fanatic or not.  I watch as much league play as I do chinese chess.   World matches are a completely different story.  If they win again, you can chant USA and feel better.   Wear the colors, scream and get loud about the country where you grew up.  The thrill of world play is standing behind your country no matter what.  We saw it with The Men’s action two years ago, and we will see it again this week. 
The Return of Rescue Me to Television
Wednesday nights just got a whole lot juicier my friends.  Rescue Me, Denis Leary’s shot from the heart to firefighters series on FX, is back for its 7th and final season.  The series that chronicles the years following 9/11 in a NYC fire house that goes beyond the firefighting and takes us into the lives of these men and women who give until it’s gone every second of their life.  A show that tackles every demon in the bottle.  Guilt, alcoholism, bitterness, shame, heroism and pure despair.  The epic trials and tribulations of Tommy Gavin(Leary) come center stage this year.   Will he stay or go?  That’s the hottest question on this show.  Will Tommy make it out alive?  Does he deserve to?  I’ll take a shot at that question here so follow along.  Calling Tommy Gavin a conflicted man is like calling Whitey Bulger a criminal.   It only explains the first page of the book.   Gavin is a classic good hearted fuckup, a firefighter who manages to be brilliant at his job yet destroy everything else in his life.  He has divorced and reunited with his wife three times, lost his son to a drunk driver(a scene that still gives me cold goosebumps every time I watch the clip), saw his brother have an affair and a kid with his ex wife, went on to have an affair with his cousin’s wife, drinks like a fish, watched his daughter become an alcoholic and above all else, can’t shake the dramatic effects of 9/11, where he lost 60 firefighting friends and 4 in his own house.   This show is Denis Leary’s baby, the peak of his career in show business.  A man that will tell you he is hitting .200 lifetime in his movie career will nod to this show as his shining medal.   Its a rightful choice.  Rescue Me is a consistently powerful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking look at a way of life.  Tommy Gavin’s struggles aren’t alien to real life firefighters, as Leary based the show off real men he knew and dedicated it to the 340 firefighters lost on 9/11/01.   This is my favorite show of all time.  Big words speak a truth here, but this is a show that constantly tugs at my heartstrings and pulls out the rug on me at any given moment.  Rescue Me represents a reality that many of us face everyday.   The idea that livings carry a measure of pride in them yet break into our personal life in tough ways. The idea that life is a constant game of give and take.    What we choose to do for a living, our jobs, takes a piece of our life away and turns us into a person we never thought we would become.   Tommy Gavin chose to be a firefighter and in doing so, brought on measures of pain, sadness and guilt that sees the light of true heroism from time to time but turned him into another person.   As he tells his wife Janet in the 7th season opener, “Normal isn’t an option anymore.  Normal was buried on Ground Zero beneath the rubble.  Its gone.”  That is the paradox within Gavin on this show.  The lingering rage inside him that divides a pack of souls into the strangers he has saved from death and members of his family that he has hurt.  An ongoing struggle.   This is a show to talk about because it takes a real life event, mixes it with a true calling and puts a tough reality on display.  A crowning acheivement for Leary and company.  Will Tommy make it out alive on September 7th, the series finale?  Yes, because they have tried to kill him off many times and decided not to do so.  There’s a reason.  Tommy living through the end is a sign of hope for a series that started out as a dedication to the firefighters who not only gave their life on a tragic day but it speaks for every firefighter working today.   As Denis Leary writes in a guest column for Entertainment Weekly Magazine, “firefighters run towards a fire when everyone else are running away from it.  They rescue you no matter if you are gay, straight, yoga pants or not.  They have balls under their chin.”   Denis Leary gives most of the DVD sales of Rescue Me’s first six season to a charity supporting Boston and New York City’s fire departments, helping them buy new equipment and brand new technology.   A passionate morality tale that takes shape in real life.  If you want a taste, don’t about asking me, just go ahead and call.
The Random Nature of Things
-Another person nearly dies at a baseball park reaching for a home run derby long ball.  Prince Fielder hit a smash on Monday and a man got up on top of a metal drink holding table, leaned over and was ready to dive 20 feet onto a concrete pool area before two of his friends pulled him back.   There’s a meaning in this and its this.  People are naturally stupid and some never mature.  A near tragedy less than a week after Shannon Stone fell to his death in Texas.
-Leave Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and his comments on Roger Goodell and his team alone.  Harrison spoke to Men’s Journal about Goodell, the lockout and his team this week in his cover story and he made the headlines with his words.   You know what?  Ask a liberal about his opinions on people and get ready for the feedback.   This is a free country and while Harrison is under contract to the Steelers and represents their franchise, off the field he can say anything he wants.  Its called the freedom of speech.    If he wants to call Goodell a “liar” and “the devil”, that is his opinion.   Basically, if you ask a man a question, be ready for the response.  Men’s Journal knew what they were doing when they approached Harrison about an interview.   Harrison has reason to be mad at Goodell.   The commissioner used him as a scapegoat when the NFL installed new rules on hard hits last season, fining the linebacker over 100,000 dollars for clean football hits in my opinion.   Due to safety regulations and public fear, the NFL is trying is soften the hard knock game of football and Goodel singled out Harrison last season, so JH can be made all he wants.   Football is a deadly physical game and takes a toll.   Concussions are part of the way of life in the sport.  Asking a linebacker to slow his momentum towards a player carrying the football is not an easy request.  Harrison has a job to do on the field and that’s prevent the ball carrier from passing the line of scrimmage.   He is an old school tough hard hitting linebacker, and in my eyes a true throwback to the old days where players aimed to put quarterbacks, halfbacks and receivers out of the game with pulverizing hits.  Dick Butkus said that if he didn’t want see the quarterback leave on a stretcher, his job wasn’t being done.   Harrison has the right to speak his mind to a reporter.  Off the field, he is free to say and do what he wants.  Frankly, Harrison needs to set Big Ben straight when it comes to avoiding the true public eye in the offseason with stupid behavior.  It would be disappointing to see Harrison ride his motorcycle off the road or sexually harass a few women in hotels and nightclubs.  That’s not right.  What Harrison is doing is simply nothing new or wrong.  He is speaking his man.  Put a microphone in front of an outspoken player and be ready for anything.  The only reason I criticize Harrison is that he had to use a gay slur in his comments(bad for business) and did hammer  2 of his teammates, which needs to happen behind closed doors and not in an interview. 
-The Black Keys secret ingredient in their music are brilliant lyrics and a bluesy style of music that creates an addicting listening experience.  Something they have done their entire career is stay true to their original intentions and build songs off strong writing.   Once again, if you haven’t bought and listened to their latest album, Brothers, do that as soon as possible.  It’s a great record.
-The Cardinals don’t need to trade Colby unless there is a solid return on their end.  Rasmus is expendable but doesn’t need to be moved for nothing.  John Mozelaik has to fix a hole if he creates one.   When he moves Colby, he creates a hole on his bench by moving Jon Jay to the outfield.   However, with the return of Allen Craig, the bench will get stronger.  I’d trade Colby for a quality lefthanded reliever or 4th-5th starter.
-Update on Women’s Soccer Team.   The USA will take on Japan on Sunday, facing a team they are 22-0-3 lifetime and 3-0 against this year.  The ladies will have to defeat themselves in order to lose this game.  
-Brewers Acquire Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez.   Intriguing, confusing and risky move by the Cardinals competition.   I’ll tell you why.   K-Rod has 291 career saves, carries 23 this season for the Mets before the trade, and will want to close games.  The Brewers have a promising young closer in John Axford.  If you are a Cards fan, you want this overload of 9th inning power to turn into high stakes poker drama for The Brewers organization.   Axford is enjoying a very strong season, carries 23 saves in 25 chances, 2.43 ERA,  51 strikeouts to 17 walks, has only allowed 2 home runs in 41 innings pitched and is the future of the bullpen for Milwaukee.  So, what are the Brewers doing here?  Loading up or bringing in insurance for their young hurler.  Axford waited for Trevor Hoffman’s large shadow to leave baseball last season after he reached 600 saves.  Now, he is dealing with another premier closer in Rodriguez.   K-Rod will want to close.  He didn’t accept a trade to just walk onto a playoff contender.  If you differ, remember who we are talking about.   K-Rod is putting together a solid season until the trade, carrying 23 saves in 26 chances with a 2.41 ERA and 44 strikeouts to 15 walks.  The deal breaker here is if Rodriguez finishes 21 more games, a 17.5 million 2012 option kicks in immediately, putting the Brewers on the tab for that and killing their chances of resigning Prince Fielder.   This could be a desperation throw by GM Doug Melvin, setting the Brew Crew on a win or lose it all mission.  Clearly, they won’t shove their rookie closer to the setup role, partly due to keeping K-Rod from reaching the option stats.   Let me add something else.   NO CLOSER IS WORTH 17.5 million dollars.   Mariano Riveria makes 15 million in New York and that is borderline crazy, so K-Rod doesn’t deserve 17.5 million for 2012.   A confusing yet intriguing move.   The last thing the Brewers want to do is confuse and insert conflict into Axford’s head, causing him to lose his edge and start blowing saves.  I can’t see how the Brewers want to pay K-Rod, so it must be a platoon situation or they will slowly move K-Rod into a setup role or hold him for the playoffs, if they make it.   Why did the Cards not acquire K-Rod, who went to the Brewers for 2 average minor leagues? There’s 17.5 million reasons but all you need is one.   The Mets are salary dumping, and K-Rod is the first to go with Carlos Beltran next.  The Brewers bought the bait, hoping to strengthen their team when they could be potentially cribbling it.   We will see.  Lots of intrigue.
-Wall Street 2:Money Never Sleeps….but does my first viewing verdict?  The sequel is on HBO now, and I have caught different parts the last week, dipping my eyes back into a good if not great and ultimately forgettable film when I saw it in theaters.   Michael Douglas returns as Gordon Gekko, searching for his old kingdom after serving 20 years in jail.   He sees young broker Jake(the very good Shia Laboeuf) as a way into the modern room of stock legends.   Jake is dating Gekko’s daughter, so this presents a three way relationship tug of war between Gordon, Jake and his daughter.  As I watch it on cable, I am sucked into this commercially built morality play that takes place right at the cusp of the 2008 stock market crash that broke the economy in half and executed several Wall Street players.   While we aren’t immediately told of Gordon’s true intentions, the reality is there that most people don’t change, especially old lions like Gekko.  The main player in the plot here is Jake, played with ease and authority by the young supremely talented Laboeuf.   Throughout his career, Shia is turning into the new everyman, an actor who can be wickedly funny and serious inside two scenes.  He holds his own here with Douglas, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langhella, and Carey Mulligan.  The appeal on cable is getting to rip back into the film’s many layers of plot and see if it works.  The answer is that Oliver Stone crafted a more commercially efficient yet strong character piece here that stands up as a worthy sequel.  The end is sweeter but the chase is the juicy part here.  Watch if you dare.
-Early tell on Jon Favreau’s summer action film, Cowboys and Aliens.   A fun time at the movies.  Judging from the trailer, there is a lot to like here if you buy into the silly premise of cowboys and aliens doing battle on US soil.   Daniel Craig plays a mysterious outlaw who has no idea who he is, where he came from and doesn’t know what the weapon on his wrist does or contains.   Harrison Ford is the cranky old cowboy gunning for Craig’s lost soul.   Olivia Wilde is the woman helping the men meet their goals yet carries a secret.  Favs’ makes enjoyable action stories with a spice of comedy along their spine.  Summer popcorn fun. Dig in or get out.The trailer will tell you all you need to know about the desire to see this film.
-The biggest comedy of the year, according to Denis Leary, is the Gay Marriage debate. I agree and will explain.  Since it was officially legalized this past week, many religious buffs have spoken up that its wrong and unjust.   Let me ask you something.  What is so unjust about choosing to be in love with a man instead of a women, or the other way around.   What is wrong with starting a family, living together as a married couple and the natural will power to choose your own life in this country?  People who argue against gay marriage have no case and need to stay out of church.   Gay rights is the biggest proudest member of civil rights, because it says people can spend the rest of their life with whoever they want.   Do I want to see two men make out in public?  No, but I am sure they don’t like watching a man and a woman make out in public either.   There is nothing wrong with choosing to be gay.  I have known several gay people in my life and they are great people.  Get over it and remember what the foundational rock of this country is.  Freedom to choose.
Buffa’s Mid Season Film Report Card -My Top 5 movies of 2011(no added support required, because by now you will know why I like them)
1.Lincoln Lawyer-Released on DVD/Blu Ray this week. Please check this film out.  It is the most satisfying and well made stand alone film of the year.  The real comeback of Matthew McCoughnahey.
2.Limitless-Bradley Cooper’s thrilling power play on the ability to turn into a genius is the actor’s first starring masterpiece.   It comes out on DVD/Blu Ray next week. 
3.Super 8-The imaginative detailed sketch of the loss of childhood innocence amongst a group of young friends when their small town experiences a weird invasion of government property.
4.Source Code-An underrated sci-fi action drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier desperately trying to prevent terrorists attacks in Chicago.  An emotionally solid movie.
5.Adjustment Bureau-Matt Damon and Emily Blunt’s chemistry powers this tale on the pursuit of free will in a world where your future can be controlled.   An old school film for hopeless romantics.
Catagory semi finals-
Best Action Film-Fast Five
Best Comedy-Horrible Bosses by a hair over Hangover 2
Best Documentary-Conan Can’t Stop
Best Guilty Pleasure-Thor
The Bad Films-The Tourist and Hanna
Best Film Released in 2010 that arrived in St. Louis in 2011-127 Hours
More Random Bits of Opinion
-Roger Clemens is guilty of using steroids.   There is no judge, jury or lawyers required to know that.   The Rocket’s legacy is full of juice.  He decided to not admit his wrong doing, and against hardcore evidence, the judge ruled a very wrong mistrial.   What do we do?  Remind ourselves that a court doesn’t decide truth all the time.   Read….Casey Anthony, OJ Simpson, Drunk Drivers. 
-Mowing the Law sucks.  Save me your “its freeing, fulfilling and satisfying”.  Mowing the lawn is as satisfying as a good run.  You love it only when its done.   When its 95 degrees outside and your grass is taller than required, there is nothing good about it.   Save me the bullshit proud father routine.  Mowing sucks.
-I am personally waiting to see if the Pittsburgh Pirates can hold up over the second half of the season.   Anytime a previously bad team heats up, fixes some areas and wins games, analysts and sports minds get in over their head and call them playoff teams.   While I like the return of Pittsburgh to competitive baseball, I will remain skeptical of their talent until I see consistency.   This is a young team that has no idea what competing for a division title means.   They are new to the party.  Without a true star player, it will be interesting to see if they can hold up in their second half schedule of NL Central play.  If they make the playoffs, they will earn it.
-The Dark Knight Rises trailer showing on Harry Potter’s last ride through film in theaters right now is a reason for me to see the movie, along with getting the wife into a theater to see a Potter adventure on the big screen for the first time.   Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film is the most anticipated film of 2012.   A year before its release, we get a tease.   Nolan is the key appeal here.  A true renegade director who only makes great films.   He assembles the biggest most talented casts and puts a golden script in their hands and a brilliant concept to work with.  The moral struggle in Nolan’s Batman Gotham universe has always been the clash of good yet flawed heroes and truly bad villains in a real world setting.   Nolan uses Bruce Wayne’s inner demons to slowly peel back the layers that make up the dense complicated meaning of what it means to be a hero and the choices you have to make in order to be a good guy in a mad world.   I await this film as the next great film.
-Until July 12th, 2012, I will wait for December’s delivery of Sherlock Holmes 2:Game of Shadows, the second Robert Downey Jr.-Guy Ritchie tag team spin on the legendary thinking man’s action hero.  
Daddy Blog-If had to choose right now which feeling was winning the pre-daddy stage war going on inside my head, excitement or fear, I would choose pure fear this week.   Those are the two general feelings in a dad to be’s head from the moment you find out your wife is pregnant and the day of birth.   You can hear stories from people you know or read a ton of books, but the weekly struggle is Excitement Vs. Fear.   Right now, I am scared shitless.   I am scared of not having enough money right after my son is born because my wife will need 4-6 weeks of maternity leave before she can work.   There’s a stranger called Mortgage working there.  I am scared of being left alone with MY KID for the first time when Rachel goes to job training.  I am scared of something happening to my son as he gets older.  Watching Rescue Me and the horror in what happened to Gavin’s kid(riding the bike in street, hit and killed by drunk driver) made me ill yesterday.   These are the things in my head.   What if I make a shitty dad?  What if I can’t protect my kid?   What if he finds out his dad is a fork lift driving blue collar grunt and that isn’t cool enough for me and him to stay friends past high school?   Fear my friends lives in me right now.   I can’t wait to be a dad, but I want to know what its like on the other side of reality where real life takes over expectation and history.  I am scared about the future of a kid being the center of my life.   Its all a huge game to me.  A Game 7 battle between me and my future self.   A funny weird ordeal that only dad to be’s and current dad’s know about.   That’s the most honest daddy blog I have written.  Enjoy it as it will continue to pour out as we count down the last two months towards Vincent Daniel Buffa’s arrival.  Here’s to the unbreakable power of health. 
Song of the Day-The Black Keys-“10 A.M. Automatic”
That is all for now my friends.  Thanks for reading and be ready for my return, for I am always loading up the guns of thought in my hands. 
Goodnight and Good Luck,
Dan L. Buffa