Tools of the Trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random notes from a conversation with the Mang from Chicago. 

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

*

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

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

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

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

So long and goodnight,

DLB

 

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The Read

Hello ladies and gents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few notes from the game-

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

Moving on with more NFL recaps and further ramblings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Selections-

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 little things that keep me Sane

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

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

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

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

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

Song of the Day-

Led Zeppelin-“Going to California”

http://youtu.be/zZ2mbCQdBQA

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

More Bits-

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

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

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

The Epic Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Other Stuff

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

http://youtu.be/v7T2135xCZQ

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

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

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

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

So long and goodnight,

Dan L. Buffa

 

 

 

 

Midnight Talk

Greetings,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marlena Shaw featuring Ya Boy-“California Soul”

http://youtu.be/Va2FPxo8WXc

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

Coming Soon…

-A Live Daddy Blog

-Warrior Film Review

-Cards weekend wrap up

-Entourage Finale Review

-More Rescue Me Notes

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

 

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

Goodnight and good luck,

DLB

 

 

The Buffa Dispatch

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinals School of Economics

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my take.

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

Rams-Eagles Preview-3 Keys to the Game

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

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

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

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

NFL Topics-

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

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

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

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

Blues Hockey Clips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Music Pick of The Day

Alison Mosshart-What a Wonderful World

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

http://youtu.be/PsWXE6Itvms

Movies Blitz

Warrior-Film to See This Weekend

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

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

Television Opening Act-

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

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

Rescue Me(retired, 7 seasons)

Justified

Sons of Anarchy

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

Archer

Lights Out(retired, one season)

Parting Shots

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

One more thing…

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

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

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

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

Take care and keep your head up,

Dan L. Buffa

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Round of Material

As the clock strikes midnight, my hands get to work on the latest round of material.    News, ideas and general thoughts on a variety of subjects.   Without further delay, we are off.

  • Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather Jr. crash in another round of HBO’s brilliant sports series, 24/7, where the network follows two boxers leading up to a fight.   Without examining the odds and careers of each man, I can tell you Floyd is the hands down favorite to win this fight.  A 34 year old tactician artist who is adapt at speed and planning his attack over a 12 round period.   The man is a greedy rich prick who runs his mouth and attitude too far and long, but he is a great fighter and deserves the hype.  An old saying goes in boxing that if you want to talk, make sure your hands are right behind your mouth.   Ortiz is a pure underdog, a fighter who crashed and burned early in his boxing life but has made a steady comeback and is hungry to take down the champ and shock the world.   Ortiz handed Andre Berto his first defeat in convincing fashion, by outpunching a hard punching fighter in Berto.   Ortiz is fighting off “parental issues” until the day he dies, being left with his brother at the age of 4 by his mother and father to feud for himself.   The kid carries a boulder on his shoulders of rage and redemption.   24/7 gives you what they usually hand out.   Deep profiles of each fighter and an insight into their camp.   Ortiz’s trainer, Danny Martinez, faces his own drama with the separation from his brother and father, after he took over training Victor from his brother Robert.   Hearing Danny talk about that, “loving his brother but not knowing if he is loved back” is deep material.   Baggage follows Floyd around in the form of his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., an older version of Junior who carries the same size ego and half the hand speed.   At the end of round 1 in the series, the Floyd’s go through a 5 minute long cursing and ego blast that ends with dad leaving and son in a fit of rage.  The things that intrigue me about this fight are this.   Ortiz is the youngest fighter Floyd has faced in a long time.  Ortiz is a southpaw and Floyd doesn’t fare as well with lefties as he does with righties.  Ortiz is hungrier than Floyd’s previous opponents.  Oscar Dela Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Juan Marquez were Floyd’s last few fights.   Old beaten up heads with little to prove yet only there to claim a sliver of light and a paycheck.  In Ortiz, aka mini gangster monster, Floyd is facing a young shark who just wants to beat him.   I like that about this fight.  Floyd will win but this will be a fight and Ortiz won’t wear down.   Berto gave him the fight of a lifetime, and Ortiz outlasted him.   Floyd is so strong at getting tougher as a fight continues and he benefits off an old tiring fighter.  What if Ortiz doesn’t falter and gets stronger as well?  Intriguing fight.
  • The Cardinals are officially done.   When they lost Friday against Cincinnati, the idea of a comeback died.  A pulse was lost Sunday after the Reds won the series.   After Milwaukee and Randy Wolf walked in on Labor Day and easily beat them 4-1, a final bullet was fired into this team’s head.   Game over, folks.  The sweep in Milwaukee means nothing now.  Coming home for a huge homestand only to lose 3 of 4 to open it up, the Cards are simply not good enough.   They can’t put it all together at the same time.  The hitting isn’t there when the pitching is and vice versa.  They have hit into 150 double plays and blown 24 saves.   Their starting rotation was never good enough.   A lineup that includes 4 hitters that carry a decent chance of hitting .300 doesn’t garner most of the blame.  A team that’s only 2 games over .500 at home doesn’t make the playoffs.  A team that can’t play consistent baseball doesn’t survive a battle and win the war.   The 2011 Cardinals are done. That’s it.  Let’s talk future needs.  Follow the proceeding bullets.
  • While the Cardinals have a figure to offer Albert Pujols, they have to get other parts of the roster figured out.   Start talking to Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman’s people, and contact Rafael Furcal’s posse as well.  These are the easier deals because they are older declining players who caught a good ride here and want to stay and will work something out.
  • Chris Carpenter is a war horse and won’t start the season 1-7 again.   He is a solid top of the rotation arm who eats innings, dominates for a long period of time and is a warrior out there.   His 15 million dollar option can be reworked into a 2 year deal worth less per season or you just pick up his option.  Looking at his injury history and average season and you try to restructure.
  • Lance Berkman avoided a trade to Texas and wants to stay.  Offer him a 4 million dollar raise and offer him an extra year.   2 years at 24 million is a solid raise and good way to end his career.  If he demands more than that and 3 years, you say goodbye and put Allen Craig in right field and spend hard elsewhere.   Berkman is a huge piece of the puzzle, hit his way back into commission but isn’t worth the boat.
  • Rafael Furcal is worth the return because of what he gives the Cardinals.   Things they haven’t had in years.  A steady leadoff bat and a very strong shortstop.   Furcal has instantly improved this infield defense in his time here and makes the great plays.   With a groundball pitching staff, a quality shortstop is required.   Please don’t let this team employ Tyler Greene or overpay for Jose Reyes.  Just bring back Furcal.   Throw out his 12 million dollar option and offer him less with incentives attached.  While his career is in decline and his bat doesn’t pop as much as it used to, Furcal’s great defense and leadoff bat get him back here and make him a priority.
  • Remember folks that if Albert comes back, he is getting a 10 million dollar raise.   Factor that into the areas and all can’t be kept.   If Pujols leaves, Berkman moves to first base, Allen Craig goes to right, and you spend more money on a notable shortstop, second basemen or closer.   Since the preseason talks didn’t fade so well, the possibility of Albert leaving is there and real.   Going to Chicago?  No way.  Pujols isn’t that stupid.   However, while I don’t want to truly believe it, the chances of a departure are there and this team can still be competitive without Pujols.   If he departs, 20-25 million dollars opens up per season and that’s huge.  If you are a legit Cards fan, you keep that in mind.   Here’s why he is staying.
  • The man built a life here and wants to stay.   Call it trite or sentimental, but the man is a king here 11 years into his career.  I honestly don’t think he would change it now.   If I am Albert, I tell my agent to start talking to the Cards and get a deal worked out.   The Cards have two different payrolls set up for 2012.   A Pujols abled roster and a Pujols-less roster.   The team has to know what they think he is worth.   John Mozelaik and company know what they see in AP.  A player approaching 500 home runs, 600 home runs, multiple record breakers, memorabilia, dollars, merchandise.  Add that to his onfield play and it’s easy to determine the guy’s worth.  His name almost reaches his play.  It comes down to the man in the end.  He decides if he comes or goes.  It’s not simple but on an overall level, clarity wins.
  • How long will Loranzo drag the talks out?  The Cards can’t afford to let Albert Pujols deaden their 2012 chances.   Get a real figure in mind for AP, and attack the other free agents before they go elsewhere.  A rough future for the Cards is a Pujols less lineup.   An even bleaker outlook is one that doesn’t include Berkman, Carp and Furcal.  Matt Holliday will not carry this team to the playoffs on his own credit.  No way.  Albert Pujols is still putting together a great season on any player’s account and a ton of his hits are game changing hits.   However, you don’t want to lose him and 2-3 other important players.   Save your ship and let the strongest hand make his own way back.
  • I’ll say this about Pujols.   He deserves a great deal.  A grand deal.   Many wanted to see him finish with horrible numbers and come down from his perch.  I’m glad he found his way and is finishing well.   Pujols played for below market value for his production for 5 years.   He deserves a golden ride, but he does control his fate.  When he says he doesn’t control it, he is 100 percent wrong.   To unfortunately quote Bon Jovi, it’s your life, Albert.  Get it done.
  • I’m going to the game tonight for the pure love of the game.  That’s it in a nutshell.   Kyle Lohse is pitching against the Brewers and we will probably lose.  However, a true fan goes for the love of the game and all its details.   The chance to see big moments and big plays.  Individual achievement.  A good contest.  Get with it or stay home.   You will see hardcore fans or floaters looking for a bench clearing brawl or a place to enjoy a game for 5 innings.  Tonight, its me in my final game as a guy without a kid.   The final chance to sit down for a night with my team with my boys.  Take it as you will.
  • Rams are back in less than a week folks.  It’s time to get excited because the practice games are over and the real deal starts.  Sam Bradford takes the field for his second year in battle and carries more expectations.   Final cuts are in and here are my thoughts.
  • Marty Gilyard carries a ton of talent as a wide receiver, but he got his time here to learn a playbook and failed.  He can return kicks but there are other players on this team who can do that and are younger and more hungry   He is gone and that is a good move.
  • Donnie Avery is a big talent with a lot of speed.   His achilles heel is his brittle body and his ability to miss a ton of time every season.   His cut is a team telling him they have ran out of patience not with his talent but with his body’s ability to take a beating.   I think the move is a risk because he has the most speed on this roster, but I understand the move.   Avery was a guaranteed tough cut.
  • Cutting a player is tough business and a team annoits one man to take out the duty.   Watching Hard Knocks on HBO and see these guys walk into players hotel rooms in camps and directly end their chances with that team.  Brian Billick compares it to a classic scene in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.    “You take away everything a man ever had and everything he ever will have”.  In a nutshell, that’s what the process is.   The killing of a dream.
  • The Rams can beat the Eagles on Sunday.   If our defensive line gets to Michael Vick and causes problems, there’s a shot.   Bradford has a capable core of receivers and a trio of running backs behind him.   The tables aren’t set against Bradford and the Rams, but it’s a tough way to open a season.   Here’s a few factors.  When on, Vick is the most dangerous player in the NFL.   Bradford is throwing against two of the best corners in the league.   The Rams will have a chance to run on the Eagles weak run defense and lack of a pass rush.    Chris Long, James Hall and company will get their hands on Vick.   The game takes place in The Ed Dome, which instantly gives the Rams a shot.  They didn’t fare too well on the road last season.
  • This is the Rams division to lose.   They have to survive the early parts of the tough schedule and then they must take care of the division.
  • Cliff Lee has 6 shutouts this season.   Let me sprinkle some perspective on it.  The Cards don’t have 6 shutouts combined from their entire rotation. The Phillies rotation and lineup will be tough to deal with.
  • Peyton Manning’s 227 game streak of starts will be snapped this weekend.   The man’s neck and back aren’t right and you can’t step on an NFL playing field and try to escape 6-8 guys every snap with a bad injury.  The Active Iron Man in the NFL will see the record stop due to a second neck surgery.  Will he miss half the season?  No.   Will his absence hurt the Colts?  Yes and no.  Kerry Collins is a good fill in quarterback but he isn’t Peyton.   Their season is in jeopardy without Manning.
  • Danny Amendola is a threat in a Josh McDaniels offense.   A returning threat, a slot receiver and a playmaker on all fronts.   A genuine weapon who is a good story because he worked long and hard to earn this spot as the Rams go to receiver.
  • Herm Edwards is a hard driving blunt football voice and his words are always fun to hear.   Telling his Chiefs team in 2007 before a preseason game, “You get to play football tonight, so put a smile on your face.”  After a bad preseason(it was very bad), Edwards blames himself.  “I put together a bad football team.  It’s my fault.”   Edwards is akin to Jon Gruden.   Brutally honest and blunt.
  • Here is a completely un-bias take on the Albert Pujols situation from ESPN’s Bill Simmons led Grantland website.  A great piece by Jonah Keri.  I can take you 6 directions but a piece of my opinion on Pujols will carry a hometown bias because I’ve watched the kid play since he got his first at bat in the major leagues.   Jonah doesn’t carry an ounce of bias.   Read this.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6917549/st-louis-cardinals-big-decision

  • Bill Simmons on the MVP race in the American League.   Jose Bautista or Justin Verlander.   The great thing about Simmons and this is a disputed notion is that he can give you a blunt opinion that detaches from his Boston love.   He compares Bautista to Tom Hanks in Turner and Hooch.  Great player on a bad team that makes it work.   However, he compares Verlander’s season to Pedro Martinez in 1999, when Pedro destroyed opposing lineups, won 23 games, pitched 200 plus innings and struck out the first six guys in the All Star game.   He was deadly and Verlander is the same.   If Justin Verlander doesn’t pitch, the Tigers starting pitcher gets ripped for 5 or 6 runs.   To quote Simmons, watching Pedro pitch was like watching a Broadway play with Daniel Day Lewis on Wednesdays and watching one of Alec Baldwin’s brothers on the rest of the days.   Verlander deserves the MVP because you take him away and the Tigers aren’t leading the Central and nowhere near the top.   20 wins before September 1st and unbeatable numbers.   Most Valuable Player.  It’s a given he wins the Cy Young.  Verlander will win the MVP.
  • Switching to TV.   Rescue Me’s series finale comes on Wednesday and there is so much to look forward to if you watch this show.   It’s deeper than seeing who lives and who dies.   Storylines being resolved and characters getting a fitting last look are side issues.  The main appeal is seeing where this show leaves us with the final scene and figuring out if that’s enough for a devoted fan.   Denis Leary and company filmed this last year and have said it was a perfect way to leave the audience.  Well, little Denny, that is up to the viewer to decide.   Every final moment gets studied.  Sopranos’ mysterious ending is still a love/hate relationship.   Where does Rescue Me leave us?  Expect a fine dose of comedy and drama blended into a gritty cocktail of honesty.
  • Jim Jeffries is a good comedian because he is really honest on stage and has a truly developed dirty sense of humor.   He never enters the stage without a beer and is a self proclaimed alcoholic.   His latest standup act on Showtime is called Alcoholocaust.   Jeffries jokes range from drunk quotes, political parodies, sex, religion, gay defending and hating people who bad mouth drinkers.   Simple comedy infested with a real drinker.  An Australian rambling drunk.  Jeffries once told people who didn’t drink to fuck off and try harder.  Here’s a sampling of the latest from Jeffries.  This isn’t for the weak or sensitive minded.

Jeffries on arguments-“So many times when you get done with a long argument you tell yourself that it could of been dealt with a lot quicker with a punch.”

Jeffries on the gay community-“Gay means happy.  If a man wants to be happy and jam his cock into another man, so be it.”

Jeffries on doing shows in front of the troops-“Im sitting in the chopper with the guy and I look down and we are being fired upon by a little Arab fellow. I tell the guy with the big gun in the chopper what’s the holdup.  He tells me his bullets can’t reach us.  Well, I bet our bullets can reach him.”

Jeffries on a blind man wiping his ass-“It’s a very visual activity.   We wipe and check.   This is where the dog comes in.   The blind man wipes and holds it out in front of the dog and the dog barks a certain number of times.   I’m sure he gives the dog a good treat.”

Jeffries on hearing WWII stories from his grandfather and telling them to people-“Im sure there was racism in there.  I just can’t point out where it was.”

To some he is a Aussie drunk who rambles but the man talks about relevant topics and injects a blunt honesty into the routine.  I appreciate a comedian who uses blunt force honesty in his act.  Here’s a bet most of Jeffries’ act isn’t an act at all.

  • Correction-The Entourage Finale is this coming Sunday(not this past Sunday) and I can say the last 26 minute episode set it up better but I am still looking for a lot with a little time frame.   The movie will come out in a couple years but I’d rather see a strong initial finish.  One more Ari Gold rant.  A fitting end to the Vincent Chase project.  A good Drama moment.  Scenes that don’t feel recycled yet come off relatable.  Sum up the series in a satisfying fashion.   For Doug Ellin, it’s going to be a challenge.
  • Baby news.  Tomorrow, Rachel goes in to find out when is the right time for this kid to arrive.   Whether she will have to be induced or we will wait longer.   A good bet is laid down here that this baby is coming out by the weekend.   The timeline for arrival is in 7 days or less.   September 18th is out the window.  This could be my final non-daddy blog.   Weird is the feeling.
  • Music selection of the moment.   Frank Sinatra crooning about being on top of the world in “I got the world on a string”.   A classic tune that’s best heard when under a good moment.   Listen to it when you feel good or did something right.  A mood booster.   Sinatra’s gift was his ability to control his breathing in his songs and his velvet fine delivery is on display here.  A 2 minute classic that sums up happiness in this life.

http://youtu.be/1cPG1t52GgI

  • Film to see.   Warrior.   A passionate film from a hardcore director.   Gavin O’ Connor, director of heartfelt family tales like Miracle and Pride and Glory, directs this tale of two brothers set to clash in an MMA tournament.  Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star as the brothers, Tommy and Brandon Conlon.   This film is worth seeing for any MMA fan but also anybody who understands what providing for your family no matter what means.   Tommy is back from Iraq and needing to filter his rage into MMA action.   Brandon is the older brother with a daughter with a heart defect and a mortgage that needs to be paid.   He enters the ring to provide for his family because its one of the things he can do well.   Tommy’s departure from the military carries questions but one thing we do know is the two men were once close but something drove them apart.   Their dad,Paddy(played by Nick Nolte), was a raging drunk who tore the family in half with his addiction.  Paddy trains Tommy for the fights.  This film is an action packed shot from the heart from O’Connor, whose family sacrificed plenty working for the NYPD.  Chaotic family bonds, brotherly torture and love, daddy issues, and MMA brutality.  The brutality of the sport mirrors the hardship in this family dynamic.  If you like strong family tales that include physicality, see this film.  It’s raw, brutal and direct.   Hardy and Edgerton are great young actors, and Nolte is an old pro.   O’Connor’s direction always veers towards punch drunk pathos and dedication to a dying breed of family loyalty.  This is the first film in awhile that I’m looking forward to.  MMA is the coat of paint being used to tell a story of family bonds broken and being put back together.

That’s all for now.   More to come later, but consider this the potential final blog before I become a dad.   That’s real news.  A ticking clock.  A belly set to explode.   Time will tell what fatherhood does to me.   Here’s to the words existing in the moment.  I’ve spent too much time on this blog and it’s time it hits the streets of reception. This wasn’t my greatest or my worst, but for now it will due to get my message across.   All over the place but packing a punch.  Thanks for reading.

Goodnight and good luck my friends,

DLB

 

A Resurgence of Thought

Let another round of word producing activity begin.  A stream of conciousness on a hot Friday afternoon begins now.

*I can’t get enough of 9/11 coverage this week.   It’s something you truly have to let form a pool around your head and completely swallow you up in order to register the full power of it’s impact.  I am not talking about the conspiracy theories, timeline of events or causes and effects of the day.   I covered that in Monday’s blog.  Now, I am diving in deep into the Rising of Ground Zero on the Discovery Channel, a 4 hour miniseries on the rebuilding projects that have been going on for nearly 10 years now.   That’s right, the hour after the towers went down, workers and various souls scoured the area for life and found a lot of death.   Rebuilding project supervisor Ron Vega spent 9 months climbing into the rubble.   Today, he looks at a finished memorial, with each tower land print preserved with the biggest man made waterfall flowing into the towers foundation walls, with imprints of the 2,983 names that were lost on 9/11.   It’s a truly breathtaking picture to uphold and to stare into.   The final plate of names(covered in bronze) were filled in two months ago and set up for the 9/11 memorial ceremony.  Family members and friends can go there and see their lost souls imprinted forever.   Dads will sit next to their son’s names, like former firefighter Lee Lelpi, who lost his firefighter son on that day.   Plumber Jimmie Walsh lost his mother, Barbara, when the first plane slammed into her floor on the North Tower.   Jean Roger, a flight attendant who was on United 11 that crashed into the North Tower, can have her name seen by her parents.   For family members like Walsh and Roger, it’s imminently special because they weren’t able to recover any part of their lost ones.  Over 1,100 people were never recovered that day, including chief transportation project contracter Pete Lyons’ brother, Michael.   Lyons went down to search for his brother and stopped after 2 months, and quit his job and got involved in the rebuilding.  Over 1,000 workers fill the 16 acres of land that stands in place of the lost towers.   The reason I love watching these documentaries is hearing the stories from people who lost close ones that day.   I am a sucker for a story and hearing these people pour out their soul in front of a camera about a son, daughter or brother who died that day is overwhelmingly powerful.   A couple who both worked on the North Tower separated by one floor both died that day.  One daughter called their parents and told them, “something is happening,” after which the line goes dead.   The designer of Tower 4 is also making it possible for the sun to strike The North Tower fountain right at 846am on every September 11th morning.   That’s the kind of detail being worked in there.  A truly special project that deserves a lot more words than I can provide here.   If you get a chance, on September 11th in 9 days, the entire series is being played again from 5pm-11pm.   Watch some of it.   Try and sit there with a human heart beating in your chest that when the promo starts and you see builders, the fountains and the new buildings coming into shape that you don’t feel something unique awakening inside you and I will confirm you dead.   While I was miles and states away that morning going to school at Mizzou, it took a piece out of me too.  That day carved a piece into my soul as far as memory is concerned.  Every time I see a relic of 9/11 in my vision, I feel something personal and real kick inside me, like a second heart built for mourning nearly 3,000 souls, mostly innocent people running through another day in their lives before having their lives halted.  The chance to have my son born on 9/11/11 is very special, whether it happens or not.   Aside from being the day you came into this earth, it is also the landmark date for a 24 hour set this country will never forget.  Something I can’t wait to do is take Vincent to New York and show him Ground Zero and explain what happened and how the city and country got up off their feet and built something meaningful in it’s place.  The first tower, Tower 1, opens in September of 2013.   That sounds like a date that I won’t break.

*The Cardinals must take care of business this weekend against the Reds.   If they lose tonight, every win in Milwaukee this week is wasted.  It’s that simple.  At this point, you do or you die.   Chris Carpenter takes the mound in a huge contest against “Kicking Impossible” Johnny Cueto of the Reds.   It’s fitting that standing between a high stakes showdown with the Brewers next week are the pesky spoiler Reds.   In some frame of mind, I see John Mozelaik and Walt Jocketty standing face to face in a desert somewhere staring each other and their decisions down for a matter of minutes.   On the opposite side of the field from Tony La Russa is his old nemesis Dusty Baker.  Dusty brings out the best and maddening set of skills in La Russa.   These two will be playing poker for three days.   If you care to buy into this “too little, too late” campaign by La Russa’s hard nine crew, one must hold the rugged mindset of a win at all costs in their persona.  Seeing the Cardinals play well again, hurt teams, score runs,win games has slightly lifted the fog off a rather disappointing season.

*What’s gone missing in the August reel is the outstanding play of the defense.   Since Rafael Furcal joined the team in late July, The Cardinals defense has improved.   Ground balls get sucked up by an infield and plays are made.  The outfield, minus the reckless lost body of Colby Rasmus, can make plays as well.   Furcal is a true gold glover at shortstop and he makes the rest of the infield better.   If Matt Holliday can’t track down a hanging bloop, Rafy comes flying out and grabs it.   He can get left or right, fire a strike from his cannon slingshot arm from anywhere on the field and nail fast runners.   With him, Ryan Theriot looks average at second and Skip Schumacher is better.  David Freese plays with less pressure at third base, and Daniel Descalso jack of all trades style can be mixed all around.

*The bullpen rose up in Milwaukee and won that series along with the offense.  While Jake Westbrook and Brandon Dickson combined to pitch 8.1 innings, throw 111 pitches and allow 6 runs, the bullpen shined bright.  Kyle McClellan worked two scoreless innings on Wednesday.   Octavio Dotel, in his best work in years, worked 2.2 scoreless frames with 5 strikeouts yesterday in his rescue of lost cause Dickson.   Without a reliable bullpen, the Cards lose that series.   Jason Motte pitched two more scoreless innings to extend his flawless record.   Marc Rzepcynski struggled on Tuesday but pitched a scoreless frame on Wednesday.   Fernando Salas closed out Tuesday’s game and pitched 2 innings on Thursday.  In a time of need and a rotation baring road wounds, the pen is stepping up.

*Alberto Pujols showed up in Milwaukee during the last couple games.   After cranking a solo homer on Wednesday, AP put on a show on Thursday.   He smashed a 462 foot homer in the first inning, and followed it up with a grand slam in the third inning that gave his team all the runs they needed.   He finished 4-4 with his average sitting at .292, the highest it’s been all season.  Slowly, frustratingly, Albert is kicking the average up.  What else is he doing?   He has hit 34 home runs, drove in 84 and scored 90 and it’s September 2nd folks.   The man is having a terrible season,right????   The answer is no, folks.   Albert is reclaiming the crown for the best in the game by tearing up the second half.  Since May 6th, he is hitting .312 and slugging .600.   The culprit for Pujols’ season is a very bad month of April.  He had less than 6 home runs and less than 15 RBI on May 1st and his average was right around .215.   Since then, he has come back and picked up his crown.  My message to the Cards.  Pay the man his money.  Get it done quick.   Games like Thursday are the reason Albert is a special player.  He now has 442 home runs in less than 11 seasons.   He has accumulated 5 RBI 12 different times in his career.  That’s a Cardinal record.   He now owns 12 grand slams.  When his career is over, I’d wager serious cash that Pujols will have broke a ton of records and did nearly everything a player could do.  That’s a guy you want to keep around.  That’s a guy you don’t want to see raise a World Series trophy in another uniform.   He’s our guy, folks.

*Once again, La Russa.   Give Jason Motte the ball in the 9th inning.   His 9th inning performances against the Pirates and Brewers tell me this kid has changed since his early downfall in 2009.  The absence of Lance Lynn and Edurado Sanchez is hurting Motte’s chances of taking over the 9th inning.   The only problem I can see with moving Motte to the 9th is taking away his fire extinguishing duties in the 7th and 8th innings.  That’s where Sanchez and Lynn come into play.

*Michael Vick’s 6 year, 100 million dollar contract carries a mixed blend of crazy, ambitious, confidence and madness as any huge deal does with a brittle slowly aging player.   First, look at it in amazement and the triumph of talent.   Personally, Vick can die a thousand different ways.  He is an evil soul whose acts will never be taken away.   That’s a fact from this mind.  However, he served his time and came back to reclaim his spot as one of the top QB’s in the game.  2 years ago, he was getting out of jail and trying to find his spot.   Now he is a top dollar arm and set of legs.  A huge portion of his contract is going to debt collectors and attorneys and the IRA along with the Falcons.  He sold most of his assets before entering jail but now that he is making real athlete money, there are bills to pay.   He owes his former agent millions.  He owes debt collectors millions.   The Falcons want a signing bonus back.   His life will still be chaotic and the pressure to be great only rises.   His first test comes against the St. Louis Rams on 9/11/11.   How do the Rams beat him?   Put 7 in the pocket, and send the blitz repeatedly.   The Eages offensive line is weak and is letting Vick get pummeled during the preseason.   Beat him with the blitz.

*Speaking of the Rams, they finished their fake schedule round at 4-0 with a 24-17 victory over the Jaguars last night.   Tough to get too excited over preseason activity but a win is a win.  The biggest story of the preseason is the play of Thaddeus Lewis, the 3rd string quarterback.   Lewis led a game winning drive in the 2nd preseason game, and put up solid numbers last night.  Sure, Lewis plays against 2nd and 3rd string defenders, but he is an intriguing talent.   The Rams have A.J. Feeley behind Bradford, so Lewis will most likely hit the practice squad and be picked up by another team looking for a fresh pulse.  If I were San Francisco or Seattle, I would take a look.   Imagine Lewis lining up against the Rams in a meaningful game.

*The Blues set up camp in 2 weeks and play their first preseason game on September 20th against Steven Stamkos and the Lightning.  This is the great time of the year where all three sports are in session at the same time.  Rams football, Blues preseason and the Cards season finish.   With the Cards and Rams recent play, all the Blues can do is add to the party.

*Another NHL enforcer, Wade Belak, died this week.   Belak, according to investigators, hung himself on Wednesday.  He was 35 years old and recently retired from the NHL to become a color analyst for the Toronto Maple Leafs.   A sad offseason for the sport continues.   Like previous victim, Rick Rypien, Belak suffered from depression and took his own life at a young age.   The enforcer count is up to 3 bodies in the past 3 months.   Rangers forward Derek Boogard overdosed on a cocktail of dangerous drugs.  Rypien took his own life 2 weeks ago.  This week, Belak goes down.   Boogard’s brain was donated to scientists tracking a connection between tough guys, their style of play and brain disease.  This started after Bob Probert’s death at the age of 45 last year, and he was the father of all fighters.  The idea of brain degeneration isn’t a surprising development in hockey.  It’s a tough grind of a sport and once a player leaves the locker room, the effects can settle in and have various effects.   Stu Grimson, a former fighter and attorney at law these days, says there is an immense pressure to be an NHL enforcer.   Fighting is good for the stress level, but thinking about what goes through the mind of a puncher in this sport from fight to fight is intriguing.   There are answers there.  For now, all one can do is mourn.

*HBO’s thrilling series, Hard Knocks airs a best of segment this weekend as the series is taking a year off due to the lockout shortened offseason.   Expect plenty of Rex Ryan F-bombs.   Thinking of Hark Knocks and the NHL version of 24/7 makes me wonder how Rex Ryan and Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau would get along.   My bet is fittingly with lots of profanity and honesty.   Watch Hard Knocks if you are in the mood to get fired up about upcoming NFL action.   A very good series that puts you in the face of NFL training camp and into their inner circles.  Be there when players are released, in coaches meetings and after the games when the FOX and ESPN crews leave because they can’t air any of the profanity and brutal nature of the coaches and players.  This is bare bone insight here my friends.

*Tennis is returning to the center stage this week with the US Open in New York.   Two rounds haven’t been finished and Maria Sharapova is gone.   Andy Roddick will be next.   One hopes for a showdown again between Nadal and Federer but my guess is Novak Djokovic will have something to say about it.

*Mizzou football fires up tomorrow against Miami.   This is a new team on the field this year after Blaine Gabbert departed for the NFL.   Expectations are stuck in the medium level of anxiety and hope.

*Once again, the daddy countdown is ticking live as we write and read.   Anytime now, I may become a dad.   Once my wife is dilated and the contractions are less than 9 minutes apart, it’s showtime.   Until then, stand by.  A fair mix of fear and hope exists in my head at this point.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by and have a good night.  Be sure to come back because I will be back soon to deliver the news.

So long for just awhile,

DLB