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.
- 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.
- 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,