The Quick Read

Stay tuned, I am going to make this quick and painless.   The Buffa News Reel. 

Vincent Buffa is home.   At last, my kid exited the hospital today around 1130am and came home to a quiet house of feeding, sleeping and plenty of trips for the Browns to the Super Bowl.   If one thing was consistent the past few days, it was my kid’s ability to produce a solid shit.   If babies had shit charts tracking their diaper disposals, Vinny is up there.  His heart rate is being controlled by medication and so far, so good.  Keep your fingers crossed(save the prayers) and think of my boy when you rise out of bed in the morning.  Rachel and I were treated to a dose of reality this weekend.  Anything can happen, good or bad. 

Tim Tebow Gets the Nod in Denver-Ask me, and its about time.  What is wrong with plugging in a firecracker rookie at quarterback to spark your team?  Former Head Coach Josh McDaniels drafted this kid with Denver and after he was fired last season and Kyle Orton got hurt, Tebow took over and produced a couple solid games to end the 2010 season.   His throwing is unorthodox and his mechanics need work, but that’s why football teams hire quarterback coaches and give rookies time.  If Tebow knows how to do one thing, it’s win with intensity.  This kid got bloodied up at Florida, and ran up and down the sidelines screaming at his team to keep the faith and fight back.  Tebow is a physical specimen and has something a ton of more gifted football players lack.  A true desire to be great.   Tebow will only get better at the scout love requirements if he plays more.  Reps are required for improved play.   The Broncos are 1-4 under Kyle Orton and save me the Orton defense.   Save me the bullshit about him coming to work each day knowing the fans want Tebow.  Athletes are paid millions of dollars to overcome obstacles put up by their fans, coaches, and their own inner demons.  Here’s the facts.  Orton had one great statistical season last year under McDaniels and when he was fired, Orton took a turn for the worst, back to his Chicago Bear average days.  This season, he simply didn’t play well, throwing 7 interceptions to only 3 touchdowns.  It was time for a change.  Denver President John Elway and Head Coach John Fox aren’t stupid here.  They know Tebow will bring the fans, money and excitement to Denver.  If you are going to lose, do it with an exciting rookie and dismiss the boring veteran who can’t produce.  Evidence needed still?  Look at last Sunday.  Tebow takes over after halftime and turns a 14 point deficit into a 5 point loss for the Broncos by running for a score and throwing for one.   During his two games last season, he engineered a memorable comeback against the Texans.   Will Tebow become a great QB?  Time will tell.  I am saying the kid is talented and deserves a shot.  He waited and was patient and has worked his ass off at improving.  Now, he takes over a 1-4 team with a chance to produce.   Stop whining and accept it. 

Theo Epstein goes to Chicago-News of the day here.  The Cubs have a new general manager.   Theo leaves the Red Sox after 9 seasons and two World Series to take over a new challenge.   Restore another cursed franchise.   Epstein is a smart kid and will provide the Cubs with the proper resources to become a winning team.  Will he turn them into a World Series?  Not so fast.   The Cubs are still the Cubs.  Epstein will need time to reload the roster and turn this team into a contender for the playoffs.  I will admit Theo will make this team a contender.   He will call about Albert and Prince Fielder.  The Cubs have money to spend, so keep your eyes and ears ready.   He was only 29 when he took over in Boston after Billy Beane turned down John Henry’s 12.5 million dollar offer.   Theo will restore the Cubs.  How long will it take?   I am interested to find out but a GM can only do so much.   Theo had similiar money in Boston and produced a World Series in 2004, 2 years after his arrival.   It’s hard to doubt the kid but it’s hard to show faith in the sad bears.   He gets 20 million over 4 years to manage the little Bears.

NLCS Intrigue-A small rant before the first pitch flies across home plate with rain coming down.   Carpenter puts 2 guys on base yet gets the fly out to Jay and doubles Mark Kotsay off first base to end a seemingly erratic first inning.   Carpenter shares interesting splits against the Brewers in 2011.   2 great starts at home and 2 rough starts on the road.   He finished the season by holding the Brewers to 2 runs in 17 innings at Busch, and that’s where he faces them tonight.  Brewers young ace Yovani Gallardo finished 17-10, but only 1-3 on the season against the Cards.   He shut us down on May 7th, but struggled in August and September, especially against Albert Pujols.   AP collected 6 hits in 11 at bats, including 3 home runs.   Rafael Furcal and Pujols homered in the first inning twice off Gallardo.   Look for an early assault on him but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pitching duel tonight after 2 offensive explosions in Game 1 and 2.   The Cards control their fate and can snag the next 3 games and head to the World Series, but I see this series reaching a full 7 games.   

Update-Cards erupt for 4 runs in the first inning off Gallardo, including a RBI double by Albert and a two out opposite field double from the white hot David Freese.   Watching Freese bash hits to the opposite field over and over again, you wonder why the defense doesn’t throw 2 outfielders in right field.   Opposite field power like no other. 

Blues Rebound and Get First Win-After falling 4-2 to the Preds on Saturday, the Blues avenged the loss and won 5-2 on Monday afternoon against the Flames.   10 different Blues collected points and Chris Stewart scored a goal with the softest set of hands of all time, floating a backhander over for the final nail.   This team is deep offensively.   Jason Arnott collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Langenbrunner knocked in an assist.   Pietro and Shatty scored from the point and the Blues looked good in their second home game.  Now they hit the road for 3 games, enduring their first real test of the season.  Road warriors or not?

The Avengers Trailer is for the crowd who can forget about reality, dive into the land of superheroes and get a kick out of wild action.   Also, Robert Downey Jr. is in it as Tony Stark aka Iron Man.  That’s enough for me.  Dig it or not, I’ll be watching. 

The Bill and Lions are for real.   This doesn’t surprise me if you watched these teams last year.  They score points and plays bend but dont break defense.   One of them at least makes the playoffs. 

The Brewers Come Back and Get 3 runs off Carp to cut it to 4-3.   I don’t like this from my ace pitcher.  Carp needs to do better.  I’d expect this from average arms like Lohse or Jackson. 

The NBA lost 2 weeks of play.  I don’t care because I have no emotional connection to NBA action which stems from the fact there is no St. Louis team to get behind.  Go ahead and cancel the rest of the season.   Players have to learn to save money one way or another.  NBA action is boring anyway.  Get them ready for the playoffs.  I’ll take a playoff faceoff in June. 

That’s it.  Time to run and watch the rest of this game while finishing dinner, taking care of the little guy and doing other fatherly and husband like duties.  It’s my life. 

Thanks for reading,



Do You Know Who I Am

The Alberto Pujols Rant-
A fastball was heading towards the inside corner.  Pujols saw it, recognized the speed and make, and drilled it to left field.  He slowly walked towards first base, watching the ball sail out like a father watches his son go to college.  He flipped his bat and gave an emphatic look towards first.  The damage was done.  Albert knew it.  The Brewers knew it and we knew it.  Albert Pujols was going to put on a show.
I’m going to give it to you straight.  Alberto Pujols is an MVP.   Few players in sports can dominate the way Pujols can during a single game and like any legendary talent, Albert rebounds from an off night with a clear bang.  A 4 hit night.  A home run and 3 doubles.  5 RBI.  A flawless night at first base.  One flip of the bat included.  When asked what the STL beat writers will say when he explodes, Derrick Goold said, “we will say you made adjustments”.   Albert responded with, “I’m pretty good at that, mang.”  Trash collectors make adjustments.  Albert Pujols just loves to rake history. Previously 1-9 against Shaun Marcum, Alberto Pujols torched a soft 4 seam fastball for a majestic bomb in the first inning that hushed the Milwaukee faithful and sank a knife into their team.  That’s Alberto Pujols.  Who has a bigger impact on a game?  Pujols singlehanded did enough to beat the Brewers in Game 2.   No player puts the media on their knees or make fans jaws drop faster than Pujols. Fact.

If this NLCS is a boxing match between the two biggest free agent first basemen in sports history, Pujols clearly took round 2.   Prince Fielder hit a game changing 2 run bomb in Game 1 but Albert stamped his name into the box score last night.  He not only hit a 2 run bomb, but added 3 more extra base hits, including a laser to center field that made Loud Mouth Nyjer Morgan crash into the center field wall like Jose Canseco.   Alberta, who?  Pujols pulled his dick out last night and didn’t put it away until he got on the plane.  At his biggest moment, Pujols exceeded expectations.

When he has a good game, the Cards win the game most nights.  When he hits game changing baseballs, Pujols tromps an average pitching night by his starter and a 1 game deficit.   He is the greatest player of all time.  Make a case to say different.  I dare you.  Man, I triple dare you?

Who knows what he’ll make in free agency in November.  My feeling is he will once again take less than market value to play in Cardinal Red.  He’ll sign for less than Prince and once again surprise people.   Why would he want to leave a city where he isn’t even the highest paid player on the team but he owns the city and is the face of the franchise?  Who doesn’t want to be king?

Alberto Pujols is a MVP.  In every sense of the word. He is the most clutch hitter.  He is a gold glover at first.  He runs the bases more aggressively than any player.  He is devastatingly consistent.  He plays with the highest expectations each season.

Without Pujols, this team isn’t playing in the NLCS.  In a season where all his critics rallied to finally poke a hole in Pujols’ legend, he reminded them what greatness looks like.  In baseball, Pujols always reminds us to stay thirsty.

You feel that?  That tinkling sensation in your balls.  That’s the feeling I get watching Albert Pujols play baseball.  He’s the guy you hate to face.  While Ryan Braun and Fielder combine to have good games, Pujols does it all by himself.

The next time Albert struggles, remember he is one game away from reminding you how great he is.

I’m done here.  Albert isn’t finished yet. He still wants 9 other rings for the rest of his fingers.
The Rest
There’s no need to discuss much else in the game last night but here’s a few things.
-The Brewers ridiculous beast mode gestures didn’t happen because they were blown out.  The Cards don’t need a gesture every time they get a big hit.
-Edwin Jackson again proved why I don’t see him as a “must sign” pitcher in the offseason.  While he does the job of 6-7 innings while keeping his team in the game most nights he throws, Jackson never blows you away with a performance.  Also, Jake Westbrook has a no trade clause and won’t opt out of it for a younger kid.   Jackson isn’t worth the 12-13 million another team will hand him.  Look at his career record and that’s what he will give you.  I like the guy and will depend on him but there is no room for him on this team next season.
-The Cards piled on runs late just to prove what their lineup can do when everything is working.  11 run destruction.
-Prince Fielder’s 8th inning home run traveled over 400 feet but still only counted for one run.
-Nyjer Morgan didn’t tweet anything last night but Tony Plush was unavailable.
-Jason Motte pitched a much needed 9th inning to stay loose for save opportunities this week.
-It was very cool to see the emotion from Tony La Russa during the Cards big innings.   You can be as professional as a funeral home manager but pure excitement is infectious.
-Who else feels like shooting the TBS broadcasters along with wild dressing Craig Sabel?
-Is it illegal to hang Ray Vinson from a tree yet?
-The Cards win was highly important because now they have Chris Carpenter pitching Wednesday to take control rather than to survive.   The Cards have the Brewers right where we want them.  Tied with the next 3 games at Busch Stadium.


Dan Buffa

26 Day Old Fella


I hope your weekend was more kind and less stressed than mine and here’s to a Monday full of hope and lacking despair.   Allow me to unload here.

Vincent Buffa Update

The 26 day old fellow is making a comeback.   Since Sunday afternoon(his last episode with SVT), Vincent is under a new dose of medicine and responding well.   He has been good for 19 hours and counting(knocking on every piece of wood I can find, including the bark on trees) and finally starting his recovery.  The last 72 hours haven’t been kind to my wife and I, but there’s still a good ending awaiting.   This is the life of a parent.  Constant worry and uncertain danger.  Every time Vinny experienced an episode of SVT distress, it was like trying to quietly leaving a building of doom and getting caught and captured.   Vinny is going to be dealing with this condition for at least a year until he can have surgery to knock it out, but he had to start somewhere.   This is where he starts.  Right now.  He made it through the night without a problem and while the next week will be as stressful as any before, optimism is sneaking into the room at last.   That’s life my friends.  Once you’re shot down, the only way out is up.   Vinny wouldn’t be a Buffa if he didn’t have to fight his way out of a problem.

Cards Fall Flat, Lose Game 1 in Milwaukee

Why did we lose?  Finger pointing is valid in the playoffs.  The Cardinals lost Game 1 on pitching alone.  When your team scores 6 runs and hands the starter two different leads, the lineup’s job is done.  Playing on the road in a hostile environment against a division rival, The Cardinals arms couldn’t hold down the Brewers bats.  In a span of 22 pitches in the 5th inning, the Cardinals lost a 5-2 lead and by the time they exited the inning many pitches later, it was 8-5 Brewers.  A 6 run explosion decided Sunday’s game 1 and halted the Cardinals in their tracks.

The Culprits

1.)Jaime Garcia.   The young kid crumpled in Milwaukee.  Garcia blew a 1-0 lead in the first by serving up a 463 foot blast to Ryan Braun, and when handed a 5-2 lead in the 5th inning, he gave up 5 consecutive hits in a row and handed the game back to the Brewers.  Pitchers carried the weight in the Phillies series and Garcia ruined a potential huge win for the Birds.  Garcia went 4 plus inning, gave up 6 runs on 6 hits and pitched like a child.  After escaping further danger in the first, Jaime settled down and mowed down the Brewers for 4 innings until the 5th, where his stuff and head quickly evaporated.  He made bad pitches and got burned.  Jaime threw a breaking ball that Braun hit for a 2 run double in the 5th and then he served up a first pitch fastball to Prince Fielder that got deposited in the seats.  The loss continues Jaime’s mixed bag trend of the second half.  After an impressive 1st half, Jaime hit rock bottom last night.  Does he get back up in this series?  To be determined.  A poor outing by the young gun.

2.)Albert Pujols.  While Braun and Fielder delivered game changing hits, Albert failed to produce a big hit.  After his 1st inning single, Pujols came up with runners on base his last 3 at bats and missed.   Pujols’ first half of the season was characterized by his inability to hit the Brewers and it showed last night.  Bad Albert showed up.  With the Cards down 8-6 in the 7th inning, Pujols came up with 2 on and 1 out.   With runners on first and third, Albert grounded into his 31st double play of the season.  The play scored a run, but the rally was killed.  Game over.  K-Rod and John Axford finish the game and its over.  I believe Albert when he says 7 other times he hammers that pitch, but the result is all that sits with fans.  Pujols didn’t come through Sunday, and if that continues, the Cards are doomed.  The Cards finished 9-9 against the Brewers, and if you look closer, you will see that comes as a result of Albert Pujols hitting the Brewers well. In August and September, Pujols lit them up.  That was missing Sunday.  While Holliday and Berkman had RBI hits, Pujols came up empty.

3.)Tony La Russa.  His failure to have a pitcher ready in the 5th inning after two leadoff hits was a huge miss in this game.  After Braun smashed a long homer off Garcia, in retrospect, there was no need to let Jaime face him again with two on and nobody out.   Octavio Dotel had success against Braun, striking him out 6 out of 8 plate appearance.  Dotel came in later and pitched horribly, but if there was a hitter he had to face, the man was Braun with the game on the line.  This can be considered a small miss for the coaching staff.  Dave Duncan had to know Garcia’s symptoms pretty well by now, and after Corey Hart and Jerry Hairston hammered hits to begin the inning, a change had to be brewing.  After Braun’s hit, Garcia shouldn’t have faced Fielder.  Clearly rattled, our “young 21 year old Andy Garcia” pitcher relinquished his second bomb of the afternoon.  Leaving Garcia in lost the lead and when Dotel finally reached the game, he gave up the game winning bomb.   Dotel couldn’t reach a swinging bunt grounder by Rickie Weeks, and Yuvisky Betancourt cranked a 2 run homer that widened the lead to the extent that it felt like a 30 run deficit.  Pitching lost the game but La Russa and Duncan dropped the ball when it came to knowing the limitations of their young starter.  I was against La Russa warming Lance Lynn in the first inning, but in the fifth inning and hanging around 85-90 pitches, Garcia was hitting his wall.

4.)Kyle McClellan for bringing his dead arm to the roster.  K-Mac came into a 8-6 game and gave up a run to spread the lead.  McClellan’s arm is dead because the Cards pushed him to enter the rotation and his shoulder gave out in June.  Once he hit the 90 inning wall in late June, McClellan’s second half of the season was a regret exercise in bad decision making.  Once he hit the pen, K-Mac couldn’t pitch two outings without handing over a home run.  This is why some relievers can’t be major league starters.   Their arms aren’t conditioned and cut out for the 6 month haul.   McClellan spent 4 years in the bullpen, and tried to become a starter too late.  The normal progression of versatile arms is starter to reliever, like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley experienced.  McClellan’s arm gave up and his decision making crumbled.  The reason he made the NLCS roster is beyond me, but probably revolved around La Russa’s inability to hurt K-Mac’s feelings.  At this point, K-Mac is useless.

Remember, Cardinals fans, this wasn’t going to be easy.   The Brewers didn’t win 96 games on swagger alone and carry an explosive lineup and deep bullpen and rotation.   They are just as dangerous as the Phillies and playing better baseball.  The Cardinals are the comeback kids, but the Brewers are the ones who failed to put us out of our misery late in the season.  This series is far from over and that would have been said had the Cards won Game 1.   There are 6 more games and the Cards must win Game 2 in order to stand a chance.  That’s the goal now.   Forget about game 1 and set up for Game 2 with Edwin Jackson and Shaun Marcum taking the hill.  A few things to think about tonight.

*Edwin Jackson recovered from his early August implosion against Milwaukee(7 IP, 10 ER, 14 hits) to pitch well against them on two occasions.   He pitched 6 solid innings at home the following week and beat them with 7 strong innings and an RBI single on September 5th.  Unlike Garcia, Jackson is a mentally strong young pitcher with good stuff and the endurance to outlast a bad inning.  I expect him to handle 6-7 innings tonight and give us a chance to win but wouldn’t be surprised if Milwaukee tuned him up.  While a slaughter awaits any Cards pitcher, I carry more faith in Jackson’s ability to adjust.

*The Cards face a tough foe in Marcum, but he is beatable.   While Marcum held the Cards to 3 earned runs or fewer in his two starts in August and September, we all remember Jaime Garcia blasting a 3 run homer off him.   Marcum is a pitcher who works well with his offspeed pitches so its important to see if he is throwing his changeup for strikes early on and attack it.  He doesn’t overpower you and is beatable if the Cards are patient.

*Pujols has to have a big night.  Once again, if he doesn’t hit, we stand a far lesser chance of winning the game.

*A late deficit on sets the Cards up for doom.  If we fall behind in the middle innings, we have to face a Brewers bullpen of LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.  Improved or not, the Brewers bullpen is deeper than the Cards so its imperative we stay away from a 7th inning deficit.  Bullpens function off probability.  The probability of breaking the bullpen’s serve is measured.  Breaking the Brewers is hard work so get to Marcum. 

*The longer the series goes, the better for the Cards because they can throw Chris Carpenter at the Brewers twice.  Carp shut down the Brewers 2-0 at Busch late in the season and is on fire at the moment on regular rest.  Garcia and Lohse won’t win this series.  If the Cards are to win the series, it will be in 7 games.

*A meltdown like Dotel’s on Sunday can’t afford to happen.  The Cards bullpen is overmatched, so the more leads they give over cripples their team’s chances.  Keep McClellan out of there. 

Other than that, lets play baseball.  The stronger teams survive the toughest fights so the Cards simply have to attack the Brewers relentlessly, no matter the score.  If it was easy, every team would make the playoffs.

The Random Thoughts

  1. The Blues face Columbus today at 1pm.  While there are 81 games left, I won’t tell you winning today is optional.   We need this team to get out to a good start and stop the crushing symptoms from years past.  Power play efficiency, strong goaltending and the ability to play a full 3 periods at high energy.  I hate it when I see a lazy flat hockey team on the ice.  Rosters are built to field energy bodies at all times.  Hockey shifts last for 90 seconds or less, so there is absolutely no reason for a flat 5 to skate for the Blues.  That’s the coaches job to regulate the lines and keep the fresh legs on the ice.  The Blues need to come bursting out of the gate, get another lead and keep pushing.   How many soft goals will Halak allow today?  Also, I’d like to see Ryan Reaves knock another player out cold.  That, unfortunately, was the highlight of Saturday’s game. 
  2. The Rams play the Packers, 5-0,next week.   Start the funeral proceedings now.  The Packers are a tough bunch of ballers.  On Sunday night, they came back from a 14-0 deficit against the Falcons to win 25-14.   25 unanswered points. Its hard to watch that game and not think about the high climb facing the Rams.   How many points will Rodgers put up?  What will the Packers defense do to Sam Bradford?  Clay Matthews will be chasing him around night, working Dom Capers blitz packages.  AJ Hawk will shadow Steven Jackson all day.  Also, the game takes place in the cold icy confines of Lambeau Field.   This is the Rams biggest test and they are already 0-4.   If there was a David and Goliath matchup on this schedule, October 16th is it. 
  3. I’m loving Hung on HBO.  A really simple yet well done series about the survival of the fittest in a sea of recession.   Thomas Jane is a perfect low key everyman here, playing Ray Drecker, desperately trying to fuck his way out of unemployment.  A show centered around a pimp carries plenty of heart and soul about the working man.  There are tons of small jewels in this series, including the well rounded cast and comedic story lines.  This isn’t a laugh out loud comedy but a drama with dark comedic undertones. 
  4. Boardwalk Empire is a slow boiling drama that just gets better and better.  The second season is heating things up around Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson’s corrupt city treasurer.   Thompson’s entire internal family is turning on him and setting him up for the fall but there are so many worthy subplots.   Jimmy Darmedy’s chance at going solo in the liqueor running business.   The slow rise of Chicago’s Al Capone, brilliantly played with fear and juice by Stephen Graham(Snatch, Public Enemies).   The desperate drive of FBI agent Nelson Van Alden, who is chasing Nucky’s trail of deceit. Dabney Coleman’s Comodore, who is trying to stea Atlantic City back from Nucky.   At the center of it, Margaret Schroder, who is living and supporting Nucky yet knows what he does for a living.   Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano also stalk the plot here as potential players and everything is rolled into an entertaining batch of gangster drama.  Don’t forget about Michael Kenneth Williams’ Chalky White, the black dealmaker who takes down a member of the Ku Klux Clan in order to protect his business.  The central theme of this show is survival.   A group of criminals fighting for the highest theft during Prohibition.   Critics complain about the pace and the boring storylines, and I’d tell them to watch a network procedural.  Terrence Winter is taking his time and setting up Boardwalk for an explosion.  I like the patience and character building.   TV shows on cable get one upside over network.  Time and money to get things right if there is skill involved.   Backed by Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg as producers, Boardwalk gets the time to set the plot up.   My guess is there will be plenty of blood to go around when its all said and done.
  5. If I told you one of these teams would be 4-1 on this day, which would it be?  The Buffalo Bills or the Philidephia Eagles.   Many would say the proposed dream team, the Eagles.  They would be wrong.  Michael Vick and company are 1-4 and reeling.   The Buffalo Bills, powered by Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick’s golden arm, are shocking football but not me.  
  6. Albert Pujols faces the same scrutiny he has faced for the past 5 years.   Excellence provides the deepest set of expectations.   His .350 average and great defensive plays in the NLDS are instantly forgotten as the NLCS starts.   That’s high profile sports warfare.   What have you done for me lately?  Fans want to constantly see greatness.  That’s what we come to expect from legends like Albert.  Of course, Albert is trying to do too much.  He is used to throwing this team on his shoulders.
  7. Ndamukong Suh will destroy Jay Cutler tonight.   That’s a fact.  If Suh doesn’t do it,  Glenn Haley will or Kyle Vander Bosh will get to him.   The forecast for tonight’s Monday night football action is carnage. 
  8. While the history is clear, the rivalry is old and things have changed between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.  I fully expect Pac-Man to destroy him on November 13th.  Until then, HBO’s outstanding sports series, 24/7, takes us behind the scenes starting October 25th. 

That’s all.    Expect more at a later timen but for now I am closing the curtains on this latest rant.  Don’t worry about keeping me in your prayers.  Just think about Vinny sometime this week and hope(not pray) for a quick recovery.  The next few years of my wife and I’s lives are being reshaped, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hope.  Life is full of surprises.   My son being in the hospital is one of them.  My blogs are not.   Enjoy.





The Press Release

Good evening,

Before I get into the usual daily dosage of Buffa insight here at the Nerve Center, I am going to clear the room first.  This weekend hasn’t been easy for my family and I will tell you why in order to properly set up the blog and avoid a drop of the ball later.

On Friday, my son Vincent Buffa had to go to the doctors for a few symptoms he was having.   Irregular breathing, spitting up his formula and inconsistent spool samples.   Rachel took him while I was at work.  Around 1130pm Rachel texted me that our pediatrician told her Vinny’s heart rate was very bad and his breathing wasn’t strong and he needed to go to the ER at Childrens Hospital.   I met her there and we both watched our son get poked, prodded, stuck with needles and IVs in order to properly address the problem and get him back.   In the end, he needed a small electric shock to get his heart rhythm back in normal range and his heart rate back into the 80-180 beats per minute range.  He was placed in intensive care for the day.  The head cardiologist told us that Vincent suffered from WPW, which is when an extra pathway to the heart is created and sends signals there that sped up his heart and wear it out.  An extra unneeded wiring of sorts.   WPW created a sensation called SVT, which is the rapid speed up of the heart into pure exhaustion.  Imagine a person running a never ending marathon.   Vinny was in bad shape until the electric shock and he was stable condition and regained a healthy color to his skin today.   However, tonight at 9pm, Vinny suffered a small relapse and his heart rate spiked to 290 beats a minute.   Meds are given this time and unlike yesterday, he was brought back under control without electric shock usage.   What does this mean?  My kid is dealing with an irregular heart rhythm, an extra set of wiring thats sending rapid signals to his heart.   The doctors are fighting it with meds and treatment, but this is a condition that will cause him to be medicated and supervised for quite some time.   This has been a traumatic experience for Rachel and I, but we have been given great support from family and friends.   Right now, Vinny is fine and doing well.   There’s nothing like sitting and watching your young 3 week old son battle for his life.  Hopefully, the road to recovery is being paved.   We will see.   Stay tuned.

The regular prose producing daily talk starts now.   Stay seated, get a stiff drink and follow me.

Every sports team deals with an even dose of the good, bad and ugly.  Spaghetti westerns mutate into sports events and feelings are broken and healed through victory.   St. Louis sports teams all experienced their own ballet of emotion this week, so lets take a look.

The Good-Cardinals

Chris Carpenter went into killer mode and the Cardinals shocked the Phillies on Friday night, advancing to the National League Championship series.  Carpenter pitched a complete game shutout, and the Cardinals produced a single first inning run off Roy Halladay to win 1-0 in a thrilling matchup between two titans of the pitching mound.   Old friends Carp and Halladay battled toe to toe for the entire game, and the only flinch came when Skip Schumacher hit an RBI double to follow a Rafy Furcal triple in the first inning.   What did Carp do with the lead?  Here is what he did.

The Carpenter Experience-

*He shut out the Phillies on 3 hits, a hit batsman and a walk.   Carpenter dominated the heart of the Phillies order and only ran into trouble in 2 innings and threw 110 pitches.   In a simple description, Carpenter got revenge for Sunday’s 3 inning debacle and redeemed himself.

*Unlike Brewers pitcher Zach Greinke and his worthless smack talk, Carpenter is the most intense pitcher on the mound.   He grunts, screams and chants after every big out.   He leaves everything on the field.   I’ll take an intense guy on the mound in a game I need to win.  Especially if that guy shuts down the best lineup in baseball.   Carp backs up his talking with performance.   Who hates that?  The Brewers, but they will find out how screwed they are in Game 3 at Busch Stadium on Thursday.

*Carp rescued his career in the final months ot the season.   Carp was 10-2 since June 23rd, but in the final month of the season he dominated and reset his reputation.   From September 7th to October 7th, Carpenter threw 4 complete game shutouts, including defeats of Milwaukee, Philly twice and Houston.   Two wins were clinchers.   Carp pitched the wild card clinching game and the NLDS elimination game.   He continues to amaze Cardinals fans.  Is Carp the best we have seen in a long time in a Cardinals uniform on the mound?  I think so.  His longevity has been rescued and his reputation is intact.  Carpenter was Captain Clutch this September.

*Carpenter is set up to pitch Game 3 and 7 of the NLCS against the Brewers.  This is perfect for the Cards because it sets them up for a momentum grab at Busch and a final stopper in Game 7.    The Brewers will have to go through Carpenter twice in this series.

Talk about the Game 5 clinching win against the Phillies and it starts and ends with Carpenter.  The guy’s a big game stud and didnt disappoint in carrying his team to the next round.   The Cardinals beat the Phillies by outpitching them.   Yes, that’s right.   The Cards starters held the Phillies mighty bats to 6 runs in the final 40+ innings.   The Cards bullpen rescued Carp in Game 2, and locked down Game 4 to send the series back to Philly.   Both teams had their moments of offense, but pitching won this NLDS and The Cards shocked the world by outpitching the best rotation in baseball.   An unexpected yet highly exciting streak of baseball from the Cards isn’t stopping any time soon.  Right when people wanted to count them out after the Game 3 loss at Busch, the Cards stormed back and took the last 2 games to advance.  With the series win, the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox are all gone.   Sorry, big networks, but the small market teams will dominate this baseball postseason.

The Cards facing the Brewers for the NLCS is perfect    Two teams that don’t like each other and have a score to settle.  The Brewers dominated the first half of the season while the Cardinals took 5 of the last 6 games to close the gap on the wildcard.   Chris Carpenter is hated by the entire Brewers team, setting up two juicy matchups.   Nyjer Morgan gets under every team’s skin and he shares a history of hatred with Carp.   The teams exchanged bean balls in August, and the blood started boiling.   This matchup isn’t a final match between NL Central foes.  It’s a great overall matchup.  Yovani Gallardo is a great talent, but the Cards pounded him for 6 plus runs two starts in a row.  Zach Greineke has been tough on the Cards.  Shaun Marcum struggled against the Cards in the final 2 months of the season.   The Brewers have a closer in John Axford who blew his first save since April 18th on Friday night.   The Brewers bullpen, lineup and rotation is strong but the Cardinals are putting things together.  The Cards have gotten their bullpen set up and their defense is improved.  A few more factors in the series…

*Jason Motte will earn his true colors in this series.  He must match Axford blow for blow and smoker for smoker.  The Cards can’t afford to blow a save here.  Every closer must chase a “be as good as Riveria” dream in October.

*Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday must swing the bat well in this series or the Cards are doomed.  If the 3-4-5 murderers row can’t produce, the other 6 guys won’t mean much.   They are the table setters, so let’s hope the September Cards bunch shows up instead of the anemic early season slugging crew.  The pitching will be strong, so this series comes down to the bats.

*How will Jaime Garcia handle Game 1 in Milwaukee?  I am surprised Garcia is throwing tomorrow, but with the rotation set up in a certain fashion and keeping pitchers on regular rest, this move is an odd move but an expected push.   Tony La Russa is holding back Kyle Lohse for Game 2 or 4 and throwing Garcia out there to stop the Brewers.   A gutsy move for a young mentally unstable arm in Jaime, but he must sink or swim.   Playoff baseball accepts zero weak links.

I’m excited and ready for Cardinal Nation to erupt in celebratory joy again, but the exuberance is numbed right now with Vinny’s condition.   Friday night, Vinny was stable and recovering, but while the Cards won and advanced, I was quiet and content yet far from deliriously happy.   Family wounds heal the slowest and I couldn’t get my mind off the little guy being in a hospital bed before he was a month old.   He doesn’t deserve it and will battle a heart condition for the majority of his early life.   The good things are and the thing that connects both passions are being alive.  The Cardinals and Vinny are alive and well.   Prepare for an uncertain exhausting future.

The Not So Good Yet Not Bad-The Blues Opener

The Blues opened the season at home against the Predators in front of a sellout crowd, higher expectations and a decent amount of excitement.  The result was a 4-2 loss that started off promisingly, picked up a notch halfway through the third period yet ended in usual turmoil.   This will be a long season, folks.   While the Blues are loaded with veteran depth and young skill players, they face a wall of conflict in 2011-2012.  The same issues hurt this team on Saturday night.   A weak power play, a lacking penalty kill and soft goaltending.   The Predators converted 2 of 4 chances on the power play and their goalie, glove specialist Renee, outplayed the Blues stopper Halak.  In two key areas, the Blues were defeated and the decision wasn’t hard to call.   There were moments of excitement but others where the team let down the fans in attendance.   The Blues got a lead and quickly lost it and were down at the end of the 2nd and most of the 3rd periods.  Here are some glimpses and opinions.

*Argue all you want, but I am still not sold on young Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak.  He looks slow in the net and gives up too many soft goals.   He is unable to corrall rebounds and stop plays from extending.  Two times, the Preds scored on quirky plays in front of the net that needed to be squashed.  Halak is talented but can he be the leader of this team and take them to a Stanley Cup playoff appearance?  I am not sure.  He doesn’t react well and gets beat too easily for a 4 million dollar talent picked to deliver the cornerstone stopper the team has lacked since Grant Fuhr.  The last decade has been covered in soft goaltending for this team except for the second half of the 2008-2009 season where Chris Mason threw the Blues on his back and gave them a playoff berth.  When will The Blues find that again and get it over several seasons?  Is Halak the guy?  I am still looking for him to give me the answer.  If the goaltending goes up in smoke this season, count us out.

*Patrik Berglund and TJ Oshie combined for some sweet looking magic in the first period.  Oshie cranking hard towards the back of the net only to turn and feed a charging Bergie for the first Blues goal of the season.   The two young guns run a line with headbanging goal monster Chris Stewart.   While Stewie struggled last night, I expect lots of production from this line.

*David Backes and Andy McDonald created most of the offense tonight at least in scoring chances.   Backes and McDonald constantly swarmed the net and created decent chances with Backes’ brute force and Andy’s speed.  The Blues have 3 solid lines, proved by newcoming vet Jason Arnott’s game tying goal on the power play(lone Blues PP tally) in the third period.

*Carlo Colavacovvo exited the game with an upper body injury in the 3rd period.  This man is a decent young defensemen but he can’t stay healthy.   An alarming trend to watch this season.

*Young enforcer Ryan Reaves got his hands dirty in the first period and dropped the gloves with The Preds tough guy Stortini and caught him with a right hand to the jaw and dropped him.   The collision looked like a fall at first but upon replay Reaves hit him flush on the jaw and dropped him.  Reaves is a young horse at 230 pounds and carries enough skill to crack the 4th line on certain nights.  Every team needs an asskicker on the bench.  Reaves doesn’t waste any time and likes to throw punches.

Look, I like this team.  They are entertaining and play tough and live by a similiar code that the Cardinals follow.  Heartbreak warfare on both ends of the ice and a chaotic experience.   The Blues won’t let us off easy this season.  Preseason promise vaporizes once the puck drops.  The Blues play in a loaded division and finished 10 points back of a playoff berth in the Western Conference last season.   They added key veteran parts and reloaded the young talent and will challenge this season but I need to see something that tells me we can win a majority of our games and be a threat.   Power play efficiency, penalty killing and strong goaltending lead the list of required improvements on this team.  My criticism of them is based in a hopeful quarter of positivity in this longtime hometown fan.

The Ugly-The Rams

Sure, the Rams are in a bye week, but their ugly play is felt a week later.   The home team is 0-4 and playing pathetic football.   This team does few things well.   They make a ton of mistakes.  Labeled a playoff team in the preseason, the Rams look hopeless.   Talking about this team is like discussing a corpse.  Where do you start without covering your nose?

*The Rams come off the bye week and face the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.   That’s like arriving at a party and getting kicked in the ballsack at the front door.  Aaron Rodgers and company will torment this defense and their secondary isn’t going to be kind to Bradford and our little troops.   The Dolphins came into Green Bay last season and won a field goal battle, 6-3, but those things don’t happen twice.  Start praying now to your god friend.

*After the Packers, the Rams face the Cowboys in Dallas, a slightly winnable game if the Rams improve their play.   The Cowboys are 2-2 but they score points and can play solid defense.    Tony Romo won’t be pushed over and unless the Rams walk into Dallas and play their A game, why would a logical soul call this a smooth chance for a victory?   This team comes with a lot of “if’s”.

*The Saints come next and we don’t have to discuss the result.  The easy explanation is the Rams may walk into Arizona with an 0-7 record playing for their life.  Can they come back from that?  There’s a small chance.  However, where will San Francisco or Arizona stand at on November 6th when divisional play opens for the Rams?  If the Cards have 3 wins and the Rams have zero wins, the chances start looking slimmer.  Talking so negatively like this is tough to do but the way this team is playing, how can you not look down the road at probabilities?

This team faces a long list of bad deeds.  Naming them is like going through a tutorial in college about telling kids what you can’t do in football.

-Turn the ball over for touchdowns.

-Enter the red zone and come away with 3 or less points.

-Fail to Protect the Quarterback

-Wide Receivers can’t catch key throws

-Hesitative strategy on offense

-Failure to react to another’s teams game plan

-Most Valuable player being the field goal kicker

-Special teams doom

-No Running Game

I’d list more but there are more important things to do right now.   Ten minutes ago, Vincent suffered another SVT episode, with his heart rate skyrocketing to 290 out of nowhere and sending him into a painful fight with his heart.  The doc’s aren’t giving us much here and the process of the meds healing him will be a slow one.  He suffered 2 episodes within 3 hours of each other tonight.  Allow me to end this blog on a blunt note.  Going with the bullets.

  • Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died Saturday.   After changing the way teams were made in the 70s and 80s, Davis became a liability the past 10 years and buried the Raiders.  He failed to properly rebuild his team and lure the right players to the city.   Art Rooney also redefined the goals of an owner in the NFL yet he is still successful.   Davis was poison and is now out of the way.
  • First call bet on Tigers-Rangers series-Rangers have better offense and rotation, and will win series in 6 games.
  • I’ve heard enough about the rally squirrel.   Seriously, this is playoff baseball and the hottest story coming off the presses is a squirrel getting loose at a park.   Say hello to our retarded generation of facebooking, tweeting, pop culture rewriting stupid story following lost souls.
  • Message from Busch Squirrel publicist-Stop talking about me.
  • Talking too much about the Blues or Rams isn’t required right now.  They are only starting their seasons while the Cardinals are fighting for playoff life.  Playoffs rule any sports town.
  • I’d think it would be thrilling to see all 3 St. Louis sports franchises reach the playoffs.  Sadfully, I don’t see it happening.
  • Hospital rooms suck for one major reason.  The beeps, alarms and various sounds that cloud a room.   The hardest part is memorizing the meaning of these things.   One beep means Vinny simply is kicking his IV loose and there is no accurate reading and another can mean code red and his heart rate is blasting through the roof.  Hospitals are just another reminder the control we don’t have in life.
  • What would we do without coffee in these situations?  No, sir, a green sea weed shake won’t take away all my worries so take your calming voice method and shove it up your ass.  Caffeine is what I need.
  • Oh no, did I spell that all right?  I wouldn’t want to fuck with any English professor’s head.  The fact is when taking into consideration the word counts I reach here my spelling is pretty fucking great.
  • In a little over 2 months(69 days), I’ve written 42 blogs here on WordPress.   Impressive for a mad man writer like myself.  Each blog comes in around 3500 words and has hit a high point of 6,000 words so I don’t hide anything here.
  • Yes, I am rambling, so deal with it, bear with me and keep on reading.  My son is in my wife’s arms at the moment, being slowly rocked to sleep after another fight with his own heart, all three of us slowing down to the lovely sound of Ingrid Michaelson covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.  It’s 1238 am and we are all exhausted but neither of us are thinking about quitting.
  • What’s a change in your priorities?  Staring into your son’s eyes as he deals with a major issue and struggles to get back to sleep.   There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a sick baby.
  • Band of the moment-This Will Destroy You, an instrumental group comparable to Explosions in the Sky.   TWDY’s music consist of epic slow moving movie like scores that culuminate in explosive instrumental jam sessions.   If you feel like being swept up inside a song and have your emotions tapped, give these guys a listen.
  • Fast Five is watchable for the pure guilty pleasure of watching guys drive sexy cars, shoot at each other and get into fights.  In particular, the duel between The Rock and Vin Diesel sells the ticket.  A mean and lean 4 minute boots to asses fest.  Solid summer fun done right and with intelligience on DVD now.
  • Watching the Town on my Ipod in the room today, I noticed something amazing about this movie.  It’s a perfectly sound movie that connects in several areas and genres.   There’s something for everyone here.  Action, thrills, romance, drama and a small bit of dark comedy.  Ben Affleck’s cops and robbers morality tale bleeds authenticity and is so well put together that its rewatchable.  A quick smart set of actors, a juicy script, confident direction, gritty locale with real history and a fitting ending.   Affleck didn’t just repeat the success of Gone Baby Gone here.  He improved on it.  Watch it on HBO.
  • If you haven’t started watching Sons of Anarchy, do so now.  The FX drama is a true hardcore gem.  It’s plot twists, stories, action and liquid violent content keeps viewers on their toes.
  • The Cards will sink or fail on their ability to limit their mistakes.   Making pitches, making plays defensively, and getting key hits while La Russa lets his players do their jobs.  Simple as that.  Worry about your own team’s play.
  • Sitting in a hospital room offers little relaxation.   Along with your son’s misery, there’s the pain of the rest of the kids on the floor, the hurt in their parents’ face and the sirens from outside promising more.  A carousel of misery here.
  • George Clooney makes films that matter and he doesn’t waste a bullet.  His latest effort, Ides of March, about a Ohio primary in a Presidential election where political intrigue and a scandal collide for explosive conversations between men in suits and other political players.  The actual stories of politics are tiring but the one true theme in all of it is hit hard in Clooneys film.  The idea of the wager on your soul you make for a chance at success.  How much are you willing to sacrifice of yourself to win?
  • I have one more thing to say.  This game of breathing we go through each day has a wicked sense of humor and planning.  That’s life everyone.  One day you are flying high and the next you can be shot down.   Appreciate every 24 hour set of potential you can get.  Nothing is guaranteed.  The last 24 hours of my life reenforced that theory.

That’s all for now.  Time to get rest and check on the kid.  This will be a slow process of healing and a major learning experience for all involved.  As long as Vincent makes it out 100 percent healthy, I don’t care what happens to me.  That’s the honest truth.

Goodnight, Good Luck and Thanks for reading,

Daniel L. Buffa

The Cards Postgame Wrap(forcing Game 5)

Greetings all,

I’ll make this quick.  The Cardinals took Game 4 last night and have forced a Game 5 winner take all with the Phillies.  The proper thing to do is to list the players of the game.  An important win yields many heroes but certain players commit game changing plays that goes by people’s eyes every time.  As my good friend Carlin pointed out, Albert Pujols was the quiet MVP last night with his two defensive plays.   Let’s run down the list.

Pujols definitely deserves a fair nod for his efforts at first base.  This is exactly why Albert is one of the greatest players of all time.  On a night where he goes 0-4 at the plate, he still dominates the outcome with a defensive gem. His ability to do the little things is incredible.   Utley forgot who was over at first base when he attempted to steal third and Albert nailed him.  A play that I think goes beyond gold glove.  More like golden minded.  This is something we come to expect from Albert.  A great play.  In the 8th, Albert did have to range high to grab the hop off the bag and it just goes to show you how truly valuable he is.  He makes plays at first look so easy.  Flipping the ball to the pitcher, taking grounders to the bag or ranging outside the line for a foul ball putout.  In a word, Albert is amazing.

While his plays were genius, there are a few other stars of the game.  Players who produced huge moments.

1.)Edwin Jackson shutting down the Phillies after the first inning barrage of hits.  Jackson stopped throwing the fastball and started pumping sinkers and changeups away.  His recovery set the tone for the night.  Jackson proved his worth last night by staying alive long enough to let the Cards come back on Oswalt.   In the 6th inning, holding a 3-2 lead, Jackson left two runners on and plowed through the middle of the Phillies mighty order.  He retired Pence and Howard to end the inning after some doubted he had anything left.  Edwin Jackson produced a typical Action Jackson performance.  6 innings pitched and 2 earned runs. 

2.)David Freese’s two huge hits.   Freese broke Oswalt with a 2 run double and a game winning two run blast that seemed to travel 450 feet to center.   The most underrated hitter on the Cards delivered after a 2-12 start to the series.  Freese did it in his hometown and has truly come a long way. From a Edmonds trade chip, to a talented problem child to a talented injury prone player to a clutch hitter in the 6th or 7th spot.   The kid has quietly delivered all season, but nobody will forget his homer last night.

3.)Jason Motte gets considerable credit for slamming the door.  Another rookie who has traveled the stairway to Cardinal heaven.   Motte came in like a beast out of a cage, falling behind Victorino 3-0 before inducing a grounder, blowing away Ibanez on a 98 mph chest high smoker and getting Polanco to pop out.  Motte’s save last night was his defining moment as a Cardinal.  With his team’s neck on the chopping block, Motte delivered the final bullet.

4.)Marc Rzepcynski.  Simple.   With the tying run at the plate in Ryan Howard, Scrabble fired 3 consecutive strikes and put the other hometown kid down.   This was the showdown of the game and the puzzle of a lefty delivered with a nasty changeup down and away.

5.) Matt Holliday contributed 2 hits and 2 runs scored.   When he is in the lineup, Holliday changes things.  A true animal in the lineup.  Its fun to watch this guy run the bases.   I don’t know if its a natural thing but when Holliday runs towards home plate he looks like an enraged gorilla looking to run right through a catcher.  He looks possessed.  He runs like a linebacker.  Good to see him back.

With their backs against the wall, The Cards fought back and delivered.  Again.  Its hard to not feel a rugged sense of nostalgia for this team’s ability to survive.  Who could have guessed on September 1st this team would not only be in the playoffs but taking the World Series picked team to 5 games in a division series.  Amazing.  Right now, the pressure is on Philly.  They were the team that was supposed to ride th chariot to the World Series with their “best that money could buy” rotation.   Now they are against the wall.

Vegas is picking the Phillies in Game 5.    The Cardinals will do everything they can to stop them.  At this point, every team is chasing a dream.

The pitching matchup is perfect.   Chris Carpenter, fully rested, taking on old friend and new foe Doc Roy Halladay.   These two guys will leave everything on the field.  Carpenter is definitely the guy I want on the mound defending the end of the season.   The last time he took the mound with our season on the line, he fired a complete game shutout.   Friday night, I’ll take 7 strong innings.  The Phillies crowd will be loud and crazy, and that is something the Cardinals will have to deal with.   At this point, every player is used to the sea of white flags.   Here’s to hoping the Cards don’t have to raise their own on Friday in Philly.

The Cardinals won’t shock the world by beating Philly, but they will upset the established order of things.  The Cards are 25-10 since the start of September and are showing no signs of letting up.  In their two losses in this series, they made 9th inning comebacks that fell short.  However, the hunger is there.  Will the skill level match up to it?

Winner take all  ladies and gentlemen.  The most exciting game in sports takes place on Friday night.


Cards Postgame Wrap and More

A quick blast of conciousness after the Cardinals drop a heartbreaker at Busch.    Take your meds, add whiskey to it and follow me here. 
Lets cut the bullshit and simply list the reasons why the Cards lost the game in the first place.   Playoffs ladies and gents require a blunt expression. 
1.)Tony La Russa committed an act of retarded genius in the 7th inning and ruined Jaime Garcia’s game.   La Russa called for an intentional walk of 8th place hitting Carlos Ruiz with two outs and a runner on base.   Charlie Manuel was going to pinch hit for Cole Hamels in the first place, but La Russa called for the intentional walk and Ben Francisco(career 1-9 against Garcia) came to the plate with no home runs since May 25th.   La Russa flirted with danger when he intentionally walked Hunter Pence in the 6th with 2 outs and Garcia got Ryan Howard for a third time to escape.   This time, Garcia threw a fastball right over the heart of the plate and Francisco blasted a game winning homer to left.   Game, set, match.  While the Cards are comeback kids, this deficit seemed like closure.  La Russa deserves a decent amount of blame here even though he didn’t throw the pitch.  He upstaged the normal game that was going on and stepped in the middle of Jaime’s workplace.   I could notice Garcia’s displeasure when Yadi Molina told him about the move.   Good history against Francisco, sneaky power of Ruiz and a confident pitcher on mound.  I get it, but I didn’t like it at all.  Tony La Russa’s overaggressive management hurt his team tonight.  
2.)It’s hard to get too mad at Garcia.   He pitched very well, dominated for 6 innings, and made one bad pitch the entire night.   Garcia matched Hamels inning for inning and looked better doing it, but gets a loss for it.  That’s baseball and backs up my theory enforced in covering the Lohse mistake.   ONE BAD PITCH CAN MAKE OR BREAK A PITCHING PERFORMANCE.  Decision making plays key and after La Russa threw Jaime a wrench, he made a bad pitch.   Garcia looked crispy good through 6 innings, throwing 64 pitches to get 18 outs and mowing down the Phillies on 3 hits.  Then, he gave up a leadoff single to Victorino, got a couple outs and saw TLR put his stinky boot into the game.  Managers don’t play but they can cut into a fine dance being put on by a pitcher.  Garcia deserves the loss for making a huge mistake but pitched as well as I wished for before game time.  Mistake in hand, Garcia was impressive but chose the wrong bullet. 
3.)The Cardinals stranded 14 baserunners.  In a one run game, that is killer, akin to sticking a knife in your own heart.  The Cards put two runners on base in 4 innings and pushed past 2 runs on 12 hits.  That’s more than bad.  That’s pathetic.  However, considering their opposition on the mound, the result isn’t too surprising.   The bad part is, when Hamels left after 6 innings and 117 pitches, the Cards pushed past 2 runs on 5 hits against 4 Phillies relievers in 3 innings.   All in all, a bad night for the offense when a comeback seemed only a hit or two away.   The biggest fail came in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and one out.   What’s been the pest all season for the hard hitting on base percentage monster Cards?  Double plays.  Allen Craig hit into an inning ending double play with Albert Pujols on deck.   Pujols doubled and scored in the 9th to bring the score to 3-2, but the Cards came up short when they wasted a golden opportunity in the 8th inning.  In the playoffs, teams can’t waste chances. 
4.)All night, I smelt a Cards comeback.   Being down 3-0 only enhanced the feeling to come back and bury the iron giants.   With the tying run at third base, Yadi Molina grounded out to second base to end the game.  The Cards are a truly resilient bunch.   They got 3 runs off Halladay, beat Lee and made Hamels work for his dinner.  They stand here with only 1 win but this is intense exhausting playoff baseball.   One mistake can lose a game, and the Cards have figured that out in Games 1 and 3 this week. 
5.)Is it time to call the series?  No way.  This is something I can’t do with this team on the field.   Betting against them is a bad idea and I choose to stay in the middle and expect a good fight each night.  The Cards were anything but lifeless tonight and brought a strong effort.  They came up short due to lack of a clutch hit, a bad managerial decision and a ill fated pitch by their lefthander.  Tomorrow, Edwin Jackson takes the mound in his first postseason start against a fastball hitting Phillies lineup.   The Cards face a familiar nemesis in Roy Oswalt, a pitcher who literally turned off the lights in Old Busch in 2005 with a dominant 7 inning performance.   After Pujols bombed a game winning comeback capping sonic blast off Brad Lidge, Oswalt and the Astros came back to silence the Cards and close out the series in 6 games.   Will Oswalt do it again, six years later?  He faces his old friend Lance Berkman on the other side this time.   Ask Lance, the most candid and forthcoming baseball player in baseball and he will tell you this Cards team isn’t quitting until the final out drops.  I like our chances but win or lose this team will go down throwing every possible punch. 
Smaller glimpses from Tuesday’s game-
  • Skip Schumacher made a great catch in the 9th inning on a disputed call.   Ruled a trap at first, Skip’s sliding grab was clearly a catch on a satellite view from outer space and the home plate umpire overruled Jerry Meals initial call.   That was the most animated Skip I have seen in his career here.  Look closely and Skip is an intense competitor. 
  • Jason Motte fired a scoreless ninth and keeping his pitch count low so he is available tomorrow. 
  • Albert Pujols and Ryan Theriot had big games with 4 hits apiece, with Albert logging 3 doubles.  Pujols hits the Phillies well and looks completely locked in right now but got zero help from Lance Berkman behind him.   David Freese struck out 3 times but drove in a run.  Theriot continues his late season assault on pitching.   At the very least, The Riot is a tough at bat, drawing several 3-2 counts and being able to take a hit to any field.   Pujols and Theriot’s efforts were wasted by the rest of the lineup.  
  • Rafael Furcal made a few dazzling plays in the field and provided a key hit in the 8th inning.   Furcal’s great defense has seemed to make a reappearance this past week after a malfunction in late September.
  • Charlie Manuel matches up well with La Russa in move making.  Manuel used 4 pitchers to get 6 outs tonight and that must of caused a premature in Tony’s pants.  I’ll fault La Russa until he pulls his hair out, but both these guys are trying so hard to win they make bad calls.  Tonight, Manuel’s decisions were held up higher by his relievers.  Hamels labored but resisted the urge to give up the big hit.  He didn’t make the mistake that Garcia did.   Pure and simple. 
  • That’s all I have to say about the game.  What else is there to say?  The Cards wasted tons of opportunities, La Russa made a bad call and Garcia followed through with a painful mistake that he would want back with the chance to go back in time.   Baseball is a painful sport to watch because it’s a game of anticipation and skill mixed into a chess match between so called masters.  Like any sport, baseball takes on a heightened sense of appeal and intrigue in the postseason and the atmosphere feeds off of it. 
What else is there to discuss? 
*Win Win is a quality DVD rental if you have the time.  I watched this indie low key gem a couple weeks ago and have now gotten around to a review.  Paul Giamatti is a high school wrestling coach with a law practice, and is struggling to earn enough income to keep his passion going and provide for his family.   He takes on the role of the guardian of one of his clients and puts him in a home, without informing the client or the judge why he is doing it.   He takes on the job to pocket the guardian salary.   This is a man who will do anything for his family and is bending the rules he lives and works by in order to get by.   He doesn’t tell his wife or friends. Life is dim until the client’s grandson arrives on Giamatti’s doorstep and the two connect and the kid wrestles for his team.   Win Win is a movie about getting a lift from an unlikely source but paying for a bad decision.  Giamatti is great and so is Amy Ryan, Bobby Canavale and Burt Young in supporting roles.  This is a warmhearted and well meaning movie. 
*The Rams must improve their play or else they will win zero games this season.   A team that gives up over 150 points, hasn’t carried a lead in 4 games and commits more penalties than first downs converted isn’t going anywhere.  Talking about them today with the idea that hope is still in grasp but play must be improved. 
*Fatherhood is good.  WHY?  I came home from work today, picked up my kid after a feeding, and laid him on my chest for an hour before doing anything but sitting and watching playoff baseball.  A pitcher’s duel nearly turned into a snooze for Vincent and I.   For the first time in my life, there is a central priority that trumps everything else.   After the loss tonight, I moved on with the rest of my night.  This confession period helps here, but Vincent is the cheapest therapist in South City.  A son causes you to change your priorities and make some changes.   Call me crazy but I can’t wait for the Cards to finish playing, whether that’s this week or in 3 weeks.  Blame that on Vinny. 
*Here’s an idea for tomorrow’s game.  Bring in Jason Statham and let him sit or stand right next to Tony La Russa in the dugout.   His job will be to monitor the cockiness of Tony’s decisions.   If Tony steps out of line, this is what Statham does to La Russa.  He walks up to Tony, in a t-shirt and jeans, carrying a small amount of stubble on the head and face, and tells Tony in his cockney cueball tone, “You know, Tony, you make that move and there may be a situation.”   Statham is one of the most intimidating action stars on the planet.  John Mozelaik needs to think this over.  The man does his own stunts and putting bats within his reach is dangerous.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, blokes. 
*What happens if Tony says the wrong thing to Statham?  Check out this truly brutal fight scene from the Killer Elite between Jason Statham and Clive Owen.   This is easily the fight of the year in film. 
Alright, I’m closing out this message.  I need a little rest tonight.   I have a big run in the morning, a 12 mile jaunt into the Kirkwood wilderness that will leave the knees ailing and me requiring a heavy injection of caffeine in order to get anything done the rest of the day.   It’s a challenge.  That’s it.  There are certain times where you need to challenge yourself and see how much you can take.   People who know me well have to understand I am up for anything.  Man Code…or something weird. 
Thanks for reading and goodnight,

30 Minutes to Speak

While the idea of a nap here on my break sounds sexy enough to consider, I am going to plug in here and fire away on a few topics.   30 minute rant starting now. 

Cards-Phillies At Busch Factors

*Jaime Garcia’s head.   He has a ton of talent and is pitching in only his 2nd full season in the majors, but Garcia gives you reason to worry tonight.   Will Garcia keep his head or lose it after a bad umpire call or a misplay behind him?  Garcia is known to combust easily in 2011 and if he loses his cool, the edge follows right along with it and this game could be lost.  If Garcia can keep it together and provide the team with 6-7 profitable innings, the Cards have a decent chance to win this game.  Garcia needs to do his own part, keep the pace with Cole Hamels and give his team a chance or I would consider his 2011 season an overall disappointment.   That’s how one bad start in the playoffs can swing a season around.   Garcia failed the team last week in Houston.  Which Jaime shows up tonight?  He has held Philly to 0.96 ERA in four starts and pitches well at home, but nobody knows which Garcia arrives tonight.  If you know, tell somebody.

*I am not afraid of Cole Hamels.  While his 2011 campaign was impressive, I believe this crafty lefty can be beat on  his mistakes.  Hamels changeup is devastating but his fastball is flat and was pummeled for 9 home runs in September, including a key 2 run blast handed over to Dan Uggla on Wednesday in a tie game.  Hamels picks the wrong time to dish out the heater, and hitters are jumping all over it.   Allen Craig cranked 2 Hamels fastballs out for home runs in the September series in Philidephia.  Hamels is a tough pitcher and has the ability to shut a team down but a good lineup can beat him if they attack his first pitch fastball.  

*Did Sunday’s comeback shake the foundation of the Phillies?  Yes.   I believe after 3 innings on Sunday, with Cliff Lee guiding a 4-0 game into the middle portion of the game, that Phillies fans were setting up for the NLCS and the team was already setting their sights on the next round.   NLDS champ shirts were being made and scouts were being dispatched to Milwaukee, and then the Cards came back.   When handed a lead of 4-0 or better, Cliff Lee was 97-1 before Sunday’s meltdown.  The Cards comeback wasn’t built on a blast but on small ball warfare.   Leadoff singles, walks, a double, and key 2 out hits.   Ryan Theriot cranking a RBI hit down the line.  Albert Pujols hitting an RBI single to put the Cards on top.  When the entire baseball world was forgetting about the Cardinals, they roared back and stole the game.  The same goes for the regular season.  Many pundits wrote off the Cards at the end of August, and we came back.   Story of the season.  Comeback Cards.

*If we can find a way to beat Philly and the Tigers can put the Yankees down, the East Powerhouse franchises would be out of the playoffs.  Television reps and sponsors would go nuts because their favorite teams to put on national television would be out.   Phillies, New York and Boston.   I’m not saying it will happen, but it would be great to see it happen.  Good for baseball to have an unexpected matchup in the pennant and World Series. 

*I’ve said it a few times and I’ll say it again.  With Matt Holliday out, its vital to this team that Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman come up big in this series.   They have to be the foundation of assault.   If they go 0-8, there’s a good chance The Cardinals lose that game. 

*Another thing about Holliday.  If he isn’t healthy enough to throw a baseball or swing a bat with his usual force, sit him down.   The Cards are lucky to have a hot hitting backup in Craig, so feel nothing about sitting Holliday for the rest of this round.   Holliday hurt a tendon in his right hand and can’t do anything without pain.  Instead of risking a rough night in left field, sit Holliday and get him rested.  It’s been an unfortunate season for Matt, but now isn’t the time to push a hurt player.

*What will La Russa do tonight to sink his teeth into the outcome of this game?  Pitching Carpenter on 3 days rest nearly lost the series, so I’m wondering how many pitches Jaime gets before La Russa inserts Arthur Rhodes into the game or starts rolling down his list of masturbation matchups.   TLR is a great manager but a master of disaster as well.  Seek shelter.

That’s all on the Cards. 

A Few Words on the Rams(trust me, only a few)

*Free Agent Productivity-The Rams made small low key moves in the offseason and after a fourth of their schedule, there is little impact.   Guard Harvey Dahl isn’t blocking anyone, after being named a beast in preseason.   Outside linebacker Ben Leber is being dragged 5 yards by running backs.  Cadillac Williams has had modest success but hasn’t did anything spectacular.   Jerius Norwood is missing so far.  Michael Sims Walker is a non factor at wide receiver.  He has accumulated 5 fantasy points so far, which comes out to 100 yards and zero touchdowns.   This team went small and it isn’t paying off at the moment.  I still wonder why this team wasn’t in line to spend money on a cornerback in the offseason.  Stan Kroneke has the cash, so why not spill.   A big miss so far.

*After their bye week on Sunday, the Rams play the Packers, Cowboys and Saints.   A tough stretch that may see the Rams end up at 1-7 at best before the first half concludes.  The Rams can possibly sneak out a win in Dallas, but stand little chance against Green Bay and New Orleans.  After, the Rams face a stretch of 9 games where they have a considerable chance to bring home at least 6-7 wins.   I’m saying there is a chance.   The way they have played in the first four games, I can’t tell you anything for certain with this team.   After the Saints, the Rams face the Cardinals on November 6 and follow with 5 games against their division, The Browns, Bengals and finish with the Steelers.  That 8 game stretch will decide if we finish with a playoff hope or with any ounce of dignity.  As I told you in July, the Rams chances come down to divisional play. 

*Sam Bradford is suffering from Marc Bulger syndrome right now. Unless the Rams find him some help or protect him better, he will be looking over his shoulder all the time.  A talented young kid will be damaged.  At the very least, the Rams need to protect Bradford for the future of their franchise.  Damage control is important here.

A Quick round of bits-

  • I’d kill someone right now, but I am not a fan of tight spaces, like a jail cell.   If I had to do, I’d take the shank over the rape.
  • Key Traits of Being A Dad-Mastering the feeding.   When feeding a newborn, you have to keep a firm hold on their drunk neck, tilt their body up, and jam the bottle into their mouth.  Yes, I said jam.  Whether he likes it or not, there’s a schedule and the kid needs to eat.  Normally, he gets 2-3 ounces every 3 hours but since my son wants to eat like Sinbad, he is taking in around 4 and still sucking on thumbs like there is no tomorrow.   After they are done there, the idea is holding them for 20 minutes so they don’t spit up the greatness all over your face.   After, the hard part begins.  Getting them to relax and go to sleep.   Vincent likes to stay awake and just stare at you.  Babies are masters of the stare.  He’s too cute to get mad at but you get restless when he has been done feeding for 30 minutes and he won’t go down.   Being a parent is an endurance test.  
  • The Cards early start today means I am going home straight after work.  That’s good news here.  I honestly hate going to the gym after work.  I definitely feel anger towards other people at the gym after work.  I don’t like people who stare, hog a machine or walk in my space or attempt to share a locker next to mine and talk on their phone for 20 minutes while their cock flies around my head.  It’s not cool.     Call me lazy but after grinding out 8 hours(its always a grind), I just want to go home, see my kid, pop a drink and relax.   If I could get my body to agree with me, I would work out in the morning and run at lunch.  The gym is a ghost town in the morning, and that’s the way I like it.  However, I am still sleeping in too much.  I need to link up my head with my body.  It’s a work in progress. 

That’s all I have for now.  A quick burst of attitude and ideas before I run at lunch.   3 easy miles around Kirkwood.  Until the next time I need to discuss what’s in my head, I’m lowering the curtain.

Thanks for reading,