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,





Monday Blues Therapy Session

Pardon my french, ladies and gents, but its fucking Monday.   Nobody likes Monday.   It’s the stinky bitch in the flower shop.  The slow clerk on drinking night.  The person at the laundry mat who doesn’t understand personal space, breath mints or believe in body soap.  Monday’s suck.   The adjustment period is longer than usual, the nerves are raw and the mood swings like a gazelle.  My words aren’t going to turn your day around, but they may work faster than coffee.  I dish it one way here.  Brutal and coldly honest.  There are no lies here.  While I’m not always right, I’m firm.  This is the gunslinger nerve center of news production.   I don’t pull any punches, especially when I see blood dripping.  Lets get started, shall we?

News of the Moment…

-Cards Win

-Rams Lose

-Obama changes his suit

-Martha Stewart’s daughter bitches about a strict childhood

Goodnight, right?  No fucking way.  I must investigate and explain everything, and find an answer to everything.  It’s a condition Bill Simmons likes to call “what I do”.  Lets roll down the list.

Cards Steal A Win in Philly

Something tells me people will double check the box score for evidence that this team came back from a 4-0 deficit to beat Cliff Lee.   Lee established a hittable strike zone early, and the Cards pounced after Chris Carpenter’s ill fated 3 day rest experiment failed and produced a 4-0 Phillies lead.  Ryan Theriot got a key hit, the bullpen acted like the red cross and Albert Pujols put the Cards on top for good for a 5-4 win.  Allow me fire off the details.

*Carpenter’s 3 day rest start didn’t work out well.  From the first signs of fatigue(three hitters reaching before an out), Carp didn’t look sharp.   Sunday’s start was the first on 3 days rest, and historically, starters going on 3 days of rest don’t fare too well.   The previous 6 starters who pitched on 3 days of rest for Tony La Russa carried an 18.00 ERA(thank you Bj Rains).  Carpenter lasted 3 innings, threw 60 plus pitches and looked a shade of the man who dominated the Astros days earlier.   While I supported the move on Friday when it was announced, I second guessed myself last night.   Why upset a working machine that produced quality starts for the past 2 weeks?  Throwing Carp out there told us La Russa had zero confidence in Edwin Jackson making a solid start.  Jackson has been just as consistent as Carp since late July, so it makes zero sense.  If anyone could go on 3 days rest here, it was Carp, but why here?  Carpenter threw 106 pitches on Wednesday and was tired.  Bad idea, genius Tony.

*After stranding 3 key runners in the first part of the game, the Cards bang out clutch hit after clutch hit.  A Yady Molina single, Ryan Theriot’s double and Jon Jay’s single pull the score even before Albert Pujols cranks an RBI single to put the Cards up 5-4.  After failing to get a key hit, the Cards break through on Lee in the 6th and 7th innings.   Charlie Manuel will second guess leaving Lee in to face Albert before the big hit.

*The Bullpen rescued Carp and La Russa.   6 scoreless innings with only one hit allowed.  Fernando Salas pitched 2 quick solid innings, Octavio Dotel followed with an inning and a third, Marc Rzepcynski pitched 1.2 innings, Arthur Rhodes got 2 outs and Jason Motte recorded 4 outs on 9 pitches for the save.  Motte threw 9 strikes, including a 3 pitch blowout of Raul Ibanez in the 9th.  Rhodes threw a nasty curve to put down Ryan Howard in the 8th as well.   A suspect bunch early in the season has become a valuable weapon for weak starter work late in the season.  After blowing a 6-3 game wide open on Saturday, the Cards bullpen recovers to give the bats a chance to get back into the game.

*Lance Berkman put it best.  Anyone who is surprised by the comeback belongs to the same group who counted us out on September 1st while we were 8.5 games back of the wild card.

*Sunday’s win sends us home for a Tuesday and Wednesday game.  Jaime Garcia faces Cole Hamels on Tuesday in a vital game that decides the swing of the series before Edwin Jackson takes the mound for Game 4, leaving Game 5 up to Kyle Lohse if it is needed.  That’s the real problem with throwing Carp on 3 days rest.  He doesn’t get to start at home on normal rest in a game that could’ve knocked out the Phillies in Game 4.   Now, Lohse gets that game.

*What happened to Kyle Lohse and the Cards in Game 1 on Saturday?  After Berkman’s three run homer and Skip’s leadoff single in the 2nd, the Cards didn’t hit a single ball out of the infield until the 8th inning and Roy Halladay retired 21 straight hitters.   Lohse blew up in the 6th inning, his third time through the order, which I predicted.  He threw a horrible 3-2 changeup that Ryan Howard blasted for a 3 run homer.  2 hitters later Raul Ibanez blasted a 2 run homer to make it 6-3 Phillies.  Mitchell Boggs, Rzep and Rhodes made it 11-3 before the Cards tacked on 3 runs in the ninth.   Lohse proved an old point of mine.   More times than not, decision making and not nasty pitching gets you killed in the major leagues.  Lohse threw close to 80 pitches and only really made 2 horrible mistakes.

*The Cardinals control their fate now and need to use these next 2 home games to turn the tables on the NL favorite Phillies.  Remember, nobody expects the Cardinals to win more than 1 game in this series.  This team has been defying expectations since day 1 in April, so don’t expect them to go quietly.

*Big factor in Tuesday’s game.  Will Allen Craig see one fastball from Hamels after he took Cole deep twice 2 weeks ago in Philly on two plate hugging fastballs?  Craig is a dangerously unknown power bat who has eased the absence of Matt Holliday, so it will be interesting to see Hamels treat him with a heavy dose of changeups.  Craig is still adjusting to changeups so good luck to the kid because Hamels made a name for himself in this league off that pitch.

Tuesday’s Lineup has to look like this-

Furcal, Craig, Pujols, Berkman, Freese, Molina, Theriot or Punto, Jay, Garcia

Every time I look at what this team has done it amazes me.  Their September comeback.  Their comeback against Lee in Philly.   The Cards backs are against the wall constantly and they respond by pushing off and throwing more punches.   They are a resilient pack of rogues and won’t die easy.  Red October is alive and well.

P.S.-Fuck you Cubs fans.

The Rams Drop to 0-4

Folks, there is nothing encouraging about this team’s play.    The Rams are playing pathetic, careless, reckless and straight up lousy football in 2011.   Forget the 4-0 preseason.   Think about the 0-4 regular season.  On Sunday, the Washington Redskins did just enough to stop us, scoring 17 early points and hanging on to beat us 17-10.  The Rams score one offensive touchdown again and still haven’t taken a snap from center with the lead.   Lets roll down the quick list of casualties.

*Sam Bradford didn’t play well or ruin his team’s chances.  Bradford threw for 164 yards on 20-43 passing.  However, he was sacked 6 times and hurried at least 10 other times.   His offensive line and receivers give him zero help.  Bradford also fumbled a ball that turned the tide of a huge drive.  For the fourth game in a row, Bradford has committed a horrible turnover.  He has been good but not great, and isn’t seeing any help.

*The receivers can’t catch.   Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson all dropped big passes that were put on the money by Bradford.  If you can’t catch, you can’t play professional football.   Kendricks is also busy getting 2 false start penalties.  The kid is talented yet stupid.  5 key passes were dropped and killed drives.

*The Offensive Line couldn’t block a defensive line made up of nuns right now.  Jason Smith committed 3 penalties, can’t pass block, and looked lethargic.  The entire line looks average and can’t keep Bradford on his legs or give him time.  This is their one job.  Create room for their quarterback and keep him clean.  The Redskins got pressure on every single defensive play, making Bradford uncomfortable and effective in the pocket.  Unless this line shapes up and earns the 90 million spread around it, Bradford will turn into Bulger 2.0.   Looking over his shoulder at restaurants, ducking and diving in traffic and wincing at the highlights.

*Penalties kill teams.    The Rams lead the NFL in penalty yardage.  They committed 10 penalties on Sunday for 69 yards, and can’t seem to stay away from the improper play.   Penalties show signs of undisciplined football, like we aren’t doing anything correctly.  This is hard to watch football because we shoot ourselves in the foot so many times.

*The outlook is bleak.   After an early bye week next Sunday, the Rams go to work against Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans.   Blame the schedule makers all you want but rest your eyes on a team that can’t score points, stop the run or play sound football.

*The dropped passes make you wonder how Bradford longs for the Holt-Bruce days of easy catching and running.   If you asked Bradford if he would trade a testicle for the services of Calvin Johnson, what do you think he would say?

*Sam Bradford is an elite quarterback playing on an average team.  That’s what it looks like right now.

*Steven Jackson rushed for 50 yards and scored a touchdown.  Decent if a soft running day for SJ39.   Maybe he isn’t healthy or maybe The Redskins contained him.

*Steve Spagnuolo is on the hot seat.   If the Rams continue to lose with increased expectations this season, Spags will be in jeopardy.  Is that fair?  I think Spags is doing a good job, but if his players can’t adjust, the coach is the easiest person to cut loose.  Spags means well with his 4 pillars, his slow approach, easy whip, but he needs to send a charge into this team or risk losing his job.   A tough schedule gets you only so far.  He knows this as much as we do.   The issue isn’t the record but the manner in which the Rams are losing.  The effort is lacking and the lifeless play is throwing dirt on this season where the Rams had the grasp on the division crown.   Look at the standings folks.  The Rams are the only team without a win.

*Ugly stat.  The Rams have allowed 113 points and only scored 46.  A league worst point differential of minus 67.   How can you tell this will improve?

*That’s the disgusting part about this team.   How do we turn it around with the tough schedule?  Who is the easy game now?  We may walk into the Arizona game 0-7 on November 13th.   This season is slipping away from this team very quick.   Home town media pundits can splash kool aide freshner on this bonfire but the real fans see through the happy smoke.  The Rams can’t catch passes, can’t protect the quarterback, can’t avoid costly penalties or get out of the way of incoming gunfire.   The defense is the lone bright spot this week.  They intercepted Rex Grossman twice and kept the Skins in check after a rough first half.  Now James Lauranitis has to ask the tough questions from his defense about leadership and skill.

Get ready for sudden death with the Rams.  They may turn it around or they may finish 3-13 again.   I can tell you right now I am not surprised at the record but disgusted by the details.  How does that change?  A Spags vocal assault that makes every news strip on the world circuit pause and take a look.  He needs to light a fire under this team and point fingers.   Tell Smith if there is one more false start, there will be no food after the game.  Tell Kendricks to catch the ball or lose a finger.  Tell the penatly loves to cool it.  The Rams must play smarter football or they will die.

Blues Bit-

When the regular season starts in a week, this team gets a real section.  For now, it’s quick bits and observations.  If that’s not enough, write me your thoughts and I’ll respond.   Here’s what I know after the last preseason game on Saturday.   Jaroslav Halak is still giving up soft goals and had a bad preseason.   That doesn’t mean he’ll become an easy target this month, but it does sound off warnings about his weaknesses becoming a factor.   He is the anchor this season.  To quote Backdraft, if he goes, this team goes down with him. Young big body forward Evgeni Grachev made the team after B.J. Crombeen broke his shoulder on Saturday.    Grachev is a big forward who is physical and can move the puck and make plays.  Hold onto players like him.   His age is his biggest weapon.   Brian Elliot won the backup goalie spot and Ben Bishop whined like a little bitch.  Cut the oversized freak.   Elliot is decent and has experience but remember what I said earlier.  We won’t win a Stanley Cup with Elliot in net.  He is an insurance policy.  Love the 1-2 big vet tandem of Stewart and Backes and the 1-2 young defensive combo of Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk.   This team is built with so many weapons that it makes this season highly anticipated.   With the Rams reeling and the Cards finishing in a month or less, this city will lean on the Blues for awhile.  Are they up to the task?  We will all find out on Saturday when the Blues open up the season at home against Nashville.

NFL Bits-

*The 49ers upset the Eagles, beating them 24-23 after the Philly kicker missed two easy field goals.   Michael Vick threw fro 416 yards yet still lost and pouted about it.  The 49ers are 3-1 and leading the NFC West.  I think I threw up a little in my mouth.

*Tony Romo returned to chokeville and coughed up the game against the Lions yesterday.  Leading the game by 14 points and heading into cruise control, Romo threw a pair of pick 6 returned interceptions for a score.  After 2 weeks of “tough play”, Romo returned to his roots and sucked it up.  This puts a smile on my face after the Rams washed it off.

*Which record surprises you more?   Vikings or Rams going 0-4?  My bet is on The Vikings, who came stacked with better players and an easier schedule.   Donovan McNabb is having a dismal season and the defense is sinking quickly.

*The Baltimore Raven carve up the Jets and the Steelers lose to the Texans.  The Ravens own the NFL’s best point differential at plus 62 and are putting up points on both sides of the ball.   The Ravens more consistent play puts the Steelers season in jeopardy and makes their next matchup so important.  The Steelers can’t afford to lose any more right now.

Random Bits-

*Martha Stewart’s daughter is saying she was under strict expectations growing up.   What did you think was going to happen in the household built out of a fucking catalogue, kid?   Sweet loving days.   Get this kid some good meds.

*Barack Obama changes his suit and gets back to work.  I had nothing and wanted to see the political hard on crowd bite here and do some scrolling.  Suckers!  There’s nothing new with politics.  It’s the same old game, played the same way every day.   Lies, lies, lies.  I’d rather go watch Clooney play an Obama type who’s carrying a secret that top aide Ryan Gosling is trying to figure out rather to spread or not in the new film, The Ides of March.  This is Clooney back in triple threat mode.  Writing, directing, producing and acting.  Watching politics on screen is far more entertaining and worth my time than watching the same bullshit unfold in real life.

*Hugh Jackman’s new action film, Real Steel, looks retarded on first glance, but if you grew up on rock em sock em robots and crave a father-son story at the heart of a robot tale, go check this one out.   A film about a future without human boxers and full of robot fights. Jackman’s an ex boxer turned trainer who puts new life into a washed up robot with his son in order to win the title.   Same old story, coated in a new paint and with new stars.  Jackman gives this film hope with his screen presence.

TV Recaps-

*Hung on HBO-I like this show for a few reasons.   First, Thomas Jane’s lead performance as Ray Drecker is perfectly low key, confident and anchors the show in the roughneck job chasing soul of Detroit.  This show is about fighting the recession with your own fiery persona and will.   The opening credits show Ray dressing down out of a suit while walking across town and jumping naked into a lake.   Ray is fighting fire with fire and thats the pulse here.  Jane Adams, Rebecca Crestkoff and Anne Heche are all good as the women in Ray’s life, but Jane owns the show and sells the lead role of a man using his big cock as income.   It shows that at the final wit end of America’s economic turmoil, you rely on what you were born with.  Good looks, charm and a long up to the task friend down below.   This isn’t a full blown comedy.  It’s a dark comedic satire with hints of drama.   Check it out.  It’s underrated and features plenty of erotic nudity.

*HBO also came back with How to Make it In America, the guilty pleasure of cable television.   Bryan Greenburg and Victor Rasuk are back as Ben and Cam, the fashion designers trying to make it on their own in the hard charging clothing world in New York.   This show moves quick and carries an Entourage like feel because of the familiar setup.  Young friends from NY try to make a name for themselves in a busy and tough profession.  I dig it because of the authenticity of the script and the camraderie between the friends.   Also, co-stars like Luis Guzman, Lake Bell, and Kid Cudi don’t hurt, and neither does a 26 minute running time.  Fast paced guilty pleasured fun on HBO.

*Checking out Dexter and Boardwalk tonight.

What else???

*Song of the Day-A slow boiler from Greys Anatomy alternative loving soundtrack.  Here’s Ben Francis Leftwich’s slow moving yet sweet “Atlas hands”.  Appreciate the sincerity and pain in the words.

*Showtime’s underrated yet powerful ode on the deadly collateral damage of cancer, The Big C, pulled zero punches in its second season finale.  Laura Linney’s triumphantly free performance is the mint here but the cool quality is the way this series doesn’t manipulate you into watching it with sappy melodramatic scenes of cancer drama.  The blows are dealt at unexpected times in this world, and I appreciate that.  Here’s to a third season.

*Cancer sucks because it takes people you know when you least expect it.   A co-worker of mine passed away last week to lung cancer and while we weren’t close friends, I knew her well, got along with her and will remember her very finely.  She always smiled when I came around and I won’t forget it.  A disease like this doesn’t care about memories or feelings.  It’s a deadly deal that stacks the deck in its favor every time.   Cancer truly sucks because the fight isn’t fair and the selection process isn’t kind at all.  How many 6 year old fall victim and how many mothers and brothers are taken too early?  I’ve lost friends and co-workers and it’s never a fair shake.

*Daddy Blog Bit-Dealing with your kid getting sick is heavy duty for the first few months.   Stomach aches, fevers and ear infections will happen, and how I deal with them will shape me as a parent.   Vincent is getting put through the ringer and is a strong kid and will plow through any sickness.   That is for sure.  How Rachel and I handle it is the real challenge?  Do you act quick and take him to the doctor every time he shows signs of abnormal disgust?  The answer is easier said than done.  Parenting 101 includes a heavy dose of versatility in reaction.

That’s all folks.  Thanks for playing.   Come back for more.  Goodnight.


Moneyball Review/Cards Glimpse/More

Ladies and gents,

Start your engines and allow me to dish a few ideas around the room here.  One of the challenging things about this new role of being a dad is finding time to do the things that were routine before you had a kid.  For me, it’s writing, movies and sports.  Working out and running falls around the work schedule, but those three things are what keep me moving and sane.  Something to chase after.  Many around me are surprised I have kept up the writing since his arrival, and all I can say is I do it because it’s a theraputic experience and serves as a way I can get passionate about something but also move past it the next instant.   Let’s get moving here.  Postcards from Buffa, the Rogue Edition, begins now.  Kicking things off with a movie review.

Moneyball Review

One of the scariest things in the world is change.  Risk and reward circle change and cause people to redefine their goals in life.  Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane went to his owner after the 2001 playoffs saw his team get kicked out in the first round of the playoffs after carrying a 2-0 lead in the series.  Beane asked his owner for more money.  The owner said no.  After that season, Johnny Damon, Jason Isringhausen and Jason Giambi left for free agency.  Beane then discovered a new way to build a baseball team, with the help of Peter Brand, an assistant to the GM in Cleveland, whom Beane meets when Brand shoots down when of Billy’s trade proposals.   Soon after, Beane and Brand are working together on fixing the A’s , who carried a payroll around 39 million dollars.   Moneyball focuses on one idea, a strategy from Bill James, who wrote a book that mixed economics with baseball and changed the blue print for building a roster.  Beane’s wild idea was hated by his scouts, fans and any baseball historian who thinks relying on stats and computers instead of advanced scouting is ridiculous power playing.   Billy Beane is played by Brad Pitt, who slips easily into the skin of this renegade and gives one of his best performances in years.  An important reminder that before Pitt became a face, he was a good actor and live wire who could blow people away.   If you know baseball history from the past 10 years, you know what happens with the 2002 Athletics team.

Part of Brand’s advice and strategy given to Beane is building a roster of players who provide you wins and don’t cost you millions.   In one great sequence, Brand explains the true reason the Boston Red Sox threw 8 million at Damon.   Damon was a potential star and decent leadoff guy, but he wasn’t worth 8 million based on the wins he gave his team.   If any theory proves the overpaid scheme of baseball, James is the front runner.  Brand’s idea is to build a roster of players who bring you wins, which means you need runs, and players who can get on base.  Big sluggers like Giambi and A-Rod are great, but they cost too much money if you’re payroll is 40 million.  Beane tells one of his oldest scouts in a great sequence that in order to survive,  you have to “adapt or die”.  It’s here where the movie takes off.   Beane and Brand visiting Scott Hatteberg, and telling him they want to turn him into a first basemen because he gets on base.  Hatteberg never played first base before 2002.  Beane recruits older players like David Justice and Jeremy Giambi, cheap players who are old and broken or young and stupid but get on base.  On base percentage is Beane’s key idea here and it sticks because it’s an often overlooked stat in the game.  Every hitter’s goal is to get on base, via hit, walk, hit by pitch and hustling through an error.  Beane and Brand’s idea is finding those types of hitters.

Does it all work out?  Do the A’s reach the promise land with their new found ideal?  I’m not telling, but it’s no secret what is on Director Bennett Miller’s mind.   One man trying to change the way the game is played.  Played off the field.  The front office tiny dancers who work the magic behind the players on the field.  Billy Beane turned down a 12.5 million dollar offer to become GM of the Red Sox in 2003, and we are never told why he did it.   Here is what I think.  Beane was a former MLB player who got drafted out of high school by scouts who told him his time was now to make it to the show.  Beane wasn’t ready, but carried all five tools and joined the Mets.  He flopped and soon found himself out of the game.   Beane made a decision based on money, and he swore he’d never do it again.  He didn’t take the job in Boston because that offer was everything he had built himself up against.  Once he couldn’t get a bigger payroll, he changed the entire way he viewed collecting wins.  He couldn’t go back to star chasing.  The Red Sox could win a World Series and that would have been nice for him to be at the helm of it.  Beane’s goal was to change the game.  He wanted to win the World Series with the 39 million dollar A’s team that no one thought could win with a particular strategy.   He wanted to upset a perceived idea.   It wasn’t about wins, rings and glory.  He wanted to prove people wrong and find a different way for a team to win a championship than possessing the biggest bank account.  From 1996 to 2001, the Yankees won the World Series 4 times with a payroll exceeding 150 million.  A year after Beane’s moneyball team made from an “island of misfit toys” won 20 games in a row yet failed to reach the World Series, the Marlins upset the Yankees with a payroll of 53 million.  A small sample size, but Beane started something.  He didn’t have 12 million reasons to stay in Oakland, but he had a few solid ones.

Brad Pitt is the heart and soul of the film, installing Beane with a crafty rebel with a cause attitude that spread throughout the entire franchise.   Pitt is one of those underrated actors who gets lost in movie star land and much of his talent is shaded by his box office pictures.   He is the perfect guy to play Beane because of his live wire ability to get into character and entertain at the same time.  Jonah Hill plays Brand with a capable geek smart whip and does his job of playing off Pitt.   Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Art Howe, the biggest opposition Beane faced in his new ways.  Smaller roles with Chris Pratt as Scott Hatteberg and Robin Wright Penn as Beane’s ex are fine but the keys to the puzzle are Pitt and Hill.

Moneyball works because it is a 5 tool player in it’s own right.  The moral of the story is strong, the acting is versatile, Miller’s direction doesn’t get in the way, the timeliness of the story is worth it, and the cool and cocky script takes the biggest piece of the pie here.   Aaron Sorkin(Social Network, West Wing) and Steve Zaillian contributed to the script and it’s an intelligient mix of baseball jargon and integrity that creates a brand of sports symphony.  It is true some of the facts are stretched and there is a missing element in certain scenes and players are mixed around, but the best part about Moneyball is that the heart of the story stays true in Beane’s vision.  He wanted to change the game and while he didn’t quite reach his goal, the journey he took is worth watching.

Moving on…

Things to Consider in Philly this afternoon-

*Kyle Lohse faces the biggest test of his career.   Taking on The Phillies lineup in Game 1.   A rematch for the Phils against a pitcher who has shut them down twice in the second half and most notably, beat Roy Halladay two weeks ago in a pivotal series for the Cards.  Lohse finished 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA and is trying to make up time here in St. Louis.  After two years of being invisible in value due to bad pitching and injury, Lohse is starting to mean something here.  His start today is huge in order to secure momentum.

*The loss of Adam Wainwright hurts the most in the postseason.   Without him, the Cards lack a potent 1-2 punch in their rotation.   With him, The Cards win this series.  The absence of a 20 game winner pits the Cards as underdogs because that’s where the Phillies have the biggest advantage.   Cliff Lee, Halladay, Cole Hamels are threats.  Chris Carpenter is our only true weapon in the rotation.

*Something to consider.  The pressure factor.  Who faces more pressure to win in this series?  A clue.  They reside in the city of brotherly love.  Also, the place of massive expectations.   After the World Series in 2008, the Phillies faced similiar expectations the past few years but this year after acquiring Cliff Lee to complete the ultimate power rotation, the expectations are even higher.  They won 103 games in the season, and see only one result.  A World Series.  The Cardinals are the underdogs here and that helps them.  They weren’t expected to win anything this season and now reached the playoffs on an amazing streak that many baseball pundits don’t know what to make of them.  If the Cards win this series, the world will be shocked.  If the Phillies lose, they will be called chokers.  Hence the expression called the Upset.   The one thing the Cards dont face is pressure here.

*Roster moves thoughts.   Leaving Kyle McClellan off the roster is smart because he has nothing right now in the shape or form of a threat to a hitter.  He has a dead arm.  Don’t risk the chance of him blowing a game with a hanger.  If Jake Westbrook doesn’t start a game, there is a need to leave him on the roster to serve as a long arm in the bullpen.  Motte, Boggs, Salas and Sanchez are required roster spots and they all made it.  Sanchez for McClellan is key.

*Rotation moves.   Lohse is the right person to start Game 1, with his rest and history against the Phillies.  La Russa decided to start Chris Carpenter in Game 2 on 3 days rest, and while it’s dangerous I understand and approve the move.  Carpenter has never started on 3 days rest, but the Cardinals must take 1 game in Philly and if Lohse doesn’t get it done, you must throw the best at Philly and Carp is it.   Jaime Garcia starts Game 3 at Busch and La Russa declined to name the Game 4 starter.  This isn’t a complex question.  Edwin Jackson needs to start Game 4.   The Cards traded for him to fill a key rotation spot, and he delivered one of the most consistent arms on the team.  Jackson is a young force and can deliver 6-7 innings and keep the team in the game.  He deserves it more than Garcia at this point and unlike Jaime, Edwin doesn’t fall apart so easily.  You don’t need two starters in the pen.  Another unreal La Russa mind game.

*What else is there to say?  Go Cards.  Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman need to continue to dominate and carry the offense.  Rafael Furcal and Matt Holliday will be on the roster, so that’s good news.  Allen Craig needs to find his way into this lineup.  Craig is too hot of a hitter at the moment to keep on the bench.  Bench players like DD and Punto will also play key roles in our depth.

Rams Notes for Sunday

*The Red Zone factor.  Who wins between the Rams and Redskins comes down to which team scores touchdowns once they enter the red zone.  A matchup perceived as a field goal battle can be changed if Sam Bradford and the Rams find their way into the end zone and execute.  Same for Rex Grossman and the Redskins.  Two teams built up in similiar fashion come down to which team gets 7 points instead of 3.

*The Rams have to run the ball all day against the Skins.  Steven Jackson’s durability will be tested here because if the Rams establish the run and push the Redskins back, Sam Bradford can unleash an assault on their secondary.  The Redskins carry London Fletcher at linebacker and Oshimigo Atogwe at safety, but Bradford can find holes if Jackson and Cadillac poke holes up front.  The Rams can’t be one dimensional but they must establish the run.

*My biggest worry in this game.  The big turnover by the Rams.   Sam Bradford has only allowed 3 turnovers, but all of them have been returned for touchdowns and switched the momentum of the game.

*Get the ball in Rex Grossman’s hands and make plays.  The Rams defense must keep Tim Hightower container so Grossman goes to the air and makes mistakes.  If the old Rex shows up(the one that lost the Super Bowl for the Bears in 2006), the Skins will have no chance.  The Rams secondary is the weakest link on this team, but Sunday it will be the biggest x-factor.

*This is a must win game in Rams Park.  Lose this one and we are 0-4 heading into a bye week and following that with Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans.   Does that scare you?  If Ravens QB Joe Flacco can throw for 338 yards against our secondary, how many will be put up by Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and even Tony Romo?  The Redskins game is the one game where we carry a sliver of a chance to win and we must take advantage of it.  We saw how fast the Rams fans came back to the Ed Dome, but do you want to see how fast they can go away.  I’ll always watch, but I’m talking about the blackout attack on television if sellouts don’t happen.   Lose fans and you put the team in jeopardy and Steve Spagnuolo on the hot seat for the rest of the season.  Makes for an uneasy environment.  It would be truly ugly to see the Rams take a step back after last year’s near playoff spot.  Win tomorrow or carry a poisonous 0-4 record.

My prediction-A field goal game takes over in the second half and the Rams inch forward with a minute to go and take the contest, 20-17.

Blues Notes-

*In a tough decision, I have to take Brian Elliot over Ben Bishop unless Bishop plays unbelievable hockey in the preseason.  Elliot is a veteran and Bishop is the kid who could never put it together.  Bishop didn’t impress last year and may of lost it when him and Conklin changed places during games 2 times in March.

*Evgeni Grachev has been a goal scoring machine in the preseason but if a spot doesn’t exist, the kid is only 21 years and can start the season in Peoria.  He just puts pressure on the players to produce.

*Jason Arnott’s surgery on his eye is standard procedure and won’t deter him from taking over the third line. Arnott is important and embues the team with the veteran leadership they lacked last season.

*The Blues feature three strong lines for the first time in years and all three can produce goals and not just effort.  They will be more versatile in 2011-2012.

*Why is B.J. Crombeen on this team?  Grachev will challenge for his spot first and foremost.  Here’s to hoping Ryan Reaves makes the game lineup and gets his chance to solidify himself as the enforcer of this team.  An important spot on a team.

Random Thoughts-

*Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close trailer is going to be an emotional journey but one worth taking.  Mixing together 9/11, a son’s pursuit of his father’s legacy, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and director Stephen Daltry.   Get ready for an emotional and original journey.   Different elements playing together on film is hard to pull off, but take a look here.   We need one of these intensely passionate stories every once in awhile.  How many son’s lost their fathers that day and wonder what got left behind?  A movie about the collision of good people and tough reality which gives way to a healing process.   The son finds a key left behind by his dad, who died in the 9/11 attacks, that unlocks all kinds of memories and sends him on a journey.  Sounds interesting to me.

*Terry Francona’s departure from the Red Sox is an expected move after the monsterous collapse of the team this year in the face of enormous expectations.  I don’t agree that Francona is to blame for the Red Sox rotation suffering injuries and simply not being good enough, the loss of Kevin Youklis in August, the loss of Papelbon during the season and the underperformance of Carl Crawford.  Francona brought two World Series here in his 8 seasons in Boston after they spent decades without one.   That’s what I’ll remember.  We also can’t forget that Francona wanted this as well.

*Upon second viewing, X-Men: First Class is one of the best superhero tales in the past 10 years becauser it is perfectly casted, lays down an origin story thick and also mixes in the Cold War with its plot.  Director Matthew Vaughn and producer Bryan Singer combine here to make a smart comic book film with a real story.  How would mutants fit in and would they take sides if we didn’t accept them into society?  A poignant question.

*Late Update on Cards Roster-Kyle McClellan is left off the roster as expected.   Eduardo Sanchez is also left off the roster due to the choice of keeping only 11 pitchers on the roster, leaving Jake Westbrook on the roster.  Carpenter, Lohse, Garcia, Jackson, Westbrook, Motte, Salas, Boggs, Rzep, Rhodes, Dotel are the pitchers.   I’d like to have Sanchez on there and not Rhodes but Tony’s group doesn’t surprise me.

*Music of the Day-“Who Made Who” by AC/DC, an easy going rock tune perfect for the opening day of the playoffs.

That’s all for now.  It’s time to pull this latest train of Buffa Thought into the station and stop pinching off prose here on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Daddy duty is kicking in and so is the pregame festivities for Cardinal Red October action here at the Buffa Household.  There is more to say, but I have run out of time.

One more thing.  Many around the league and some around the city are saying the Cardinals didn’t earn their playoff spot and the Braves handed it to them.   That’s not accurate.  The Cardinals had to win the games they played and hope the Braves failed on the other end.  The Cards are deserving because they saved their best baseball for last.  If they don’t capitalize on the errors of others, there is no playoffs.  Same case as 2006.  If we don’t take advantage of the Tigers misplays, we don’t win the World Series so easily.  If you do nothing, there is no happy ending.  There it is.  Cut and dry folks.

Thanks for reading and goodnight,



The Comeback

Deep breath in….and exhale.  Okay, here we go.

Elliot Ness once said, never stop fighting until the fight is done.  The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals did just that.   Faced with unmistakably tortureous odds, the Cards bared down and outlasted the Atlanta Braves with a 90-72 record to win the NL Wild Card.  On September 5th, The Cardinals were 8.5 games out of first place.  On September 29th, we are a playoff team.   Ask anyone in baseball or in St. Louis, myself included, if this team had a shot of making the playoffs in late August and you would have been laughed at.  However, once the Cards swept the Braves in September and cut the deficit to 4.5 games, everything changed.   There were many nights of comebacks and second chances, but on September 9th, the Cards proved they were in it for real.   Facing one of the best closers in the game, young gunner Craig Kimbrel, down 3-1 in the 9th and facing two outs with runners on second and third, Albert Pujols stepped to the plate.  Pujols worked the count to 1-1 and then bounced a base hit inside the first base line to tie the score and keep the Cardinals breathing.  A loss could have knocked us out.  Instead, an extra inning win that night kept us alive, gave way to a sweep and started the improbable run.  After that game, Albert Pujols went on a terror.  Kimbrel blew 3 more saves, including a huge one last night to set up the Phillies for their extra inning win.  The Cards rotation went into lockdown mode and the bullpen proved reliable.    How did the Cards really make the playoffs?  They finished the season 23-8, including 8 wins against the Brewers, Braves and Phillies.  The Braves finished 9-18 and collapsed, blowing a 10.5 game lead they held on August 25th.   Once again, the fight isn’t over until the fighting is done.  While I grew despondent at times with the team, I never quit watching them and never lost hope.  While their comeback was amazing, it’s surreal and hasn’t settled in yet.  I woke up today late for work and in a mad rush, so I couldn’t soak in the slow pleasing pleasure of a ride to work knowing my team is in.   As the hours roll by, I will sit here in wonder and amazed at my team.  How did it happen, precisely?  Allow me to explain.

The Recap-The Cardinals scored 5 runs in the first inning, added 3 more and easily dispatched the Astros 8-0 in less than 2.5 hours.  Chris Carpenter took the big lead and shut the door like only an ace of the rotation could.   Carp threw a complete game shutout, allowed 6 hits, and struck out 11 against only one walk.   Carp dominated on the most important night of the year.  Carpenter’s individual comeback, along with Pujols’, was impressive and worth the reward.  After starting 1-7 through mid June, Carp finished 10-2 with a 2.29 ERA.  The Cardinals used RBI hits from Pujols, Berkman, Freese and a late home run by Allen Craig to propel them to victory, but Carpenter was the engine behind the strong finish.   When in need, true ace’s stand up.    This is exactly what the Cards had to do against the horrible Astros.  Get a big lead, throw the arm on the mound and punch this team in the mouth quick to strangle the momentum of the evening.   The Cards victory was never in doubt after the first few innings where Carp looked filthy good.

Smaller Highlights of the Game-

*Allen Craig sure makes the absence of Matt Holliday sting less.   Craig has done nothing but hit clutch home runs, collect a .315 BA and drive in nearly 50 runs in only 95 games played.  Craig finished with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in a bench role.  He gives you plenty of options next season.  An exciting young talent.

*Nick Punto and Craig came up huge in the Astros series.  In the last 2 games, Punto and Craig combined to go 11-16 with three home runs and 5 extra base hits.   Teams win games when their bench players can perform as well or better than the players they replaced.   When Rafael Furcal and Holliday went down Monday, Punto and Craig stepped up in a huge way and helped this team secure a playoff spot.

*The bullpen gets a full night’s rest for the first time in weeks.   There aren’t too many complete gamers on the pitching staff, so the bullpen rest is vital before a playoff series.

Looking forward to The Phillies

*The rotation has to be Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Lohse for the five game set.  There is no way you can let Jake Westbrook work a playoff game with his inconsistent arm.   Short playoff rounds only need to carry 4 starters, so Jake will hit the bullpen for the Phillies series.   Lohse shut down the Phillies twice during the 2nd half and had a great second half all together.  He is a good candidate to get the ball twice because that’s the way the rest fits in.   Garcia’s start needs to be scheduled at home and not in Philly.

*While Albert Pujols finished up the season right below .300 and a RBI shy of 100, he still needs to contribute big hits in this Phillies series.   The Cardinals amazing September finish coincided with AP enjoying one of his best months ever.   When AP is on, the lineup is destructive.  If he comes up short in Philly, this will also.

*Cliff Lee scares me more than Halladay or Hamels.    Lee has as good of pitches and the right mentality to start a playoff game.  His stats are the strongest in the postseason and when he is on, the rest is history.  Lee pitches game 1.   The Cardinals will be tested right out of the gate.

*Craig blasted two homers off Cole Hamels on two badly timed pitches during the Sunday night game last week.  Craig is an integral part of the lineup and that includes going against Hamels, who is a great pitcher but one that makes key mistakes(example being Dan Uggla’s 0-2 bomb last night).

*Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal’s health are in question, but if they aren’t completely healthy, there’s no reason to push.   Punto and Craig are doing a fine job and don’t need to be pushed off by a hurting regular player.   Holliday can’t throw a baseball and Furcal can’t run.  Sit them down if needed.

*The starting pitching is key and the lineup has to produce, but to me its the bullpen which comes under fire this month.   Can Motte close games effectively?  Will La Russa overuse Motte and not use Boggs, who pitched well against Houston?  How many innings will Salas pitch, or will Sanchez(Tuesday’s winner) be able to help him?  Who gets the ball first, Rhodes or Rzep?  In my case, hopefully neither because they aren’t good lately.

*Do the Cards have a chance?  Sure they do.  All a team has to do is get into the postseason and let it rip.  I’m smelling a 2006 style of play this fall from the Redbirds.  Barely crawl into the postseason and then play your best baseball.   Win or lose, the comeback was incredible and the Cards saved their best play for last.  We were 6-3 against the Phillies in 2011, and played them very well in Philidephia two weeks ago.   The Cardinals have a chance to make things happen here or make life a living hell for Charlie Manuel and his troops.   I wouldn’t be surprised if we were beaten up but I also wouldn’t rule out a well played series.  With this team, it’s so hard to predict a result.   Facing Halladay, Lee and Hamels doesn’t faze me.  Good pitching can be defeated.  The small things worry me.   Philly getting hot over the week.  La Russa’s lack of confidence in his bullpen arms.  The Tony mind games.  What will get in the Cards way?  Their manager or their play?

The Wrapup of the Cards regular season finish

Allow me to throw something back here as I fight off a nap, handle the kid and prepare to add more juicy bits to my already forming Comeback Cards blog.  I’ll call this the finishing touch.   Mea Culpa indeed.  The Cardinals surprised all of us, including me, who drew the sunniest outcome for them all the way back in April.

There are reasons for everything, so here is my quick list of reasons why the Cards came back and stole the wild card-

1.)Atlanta let them back in the house.  I always imagined a final month surge as a family keeping their house safe and protected.  The Braves had a 10.5 game lead heading into the end of August, and that seemed stable enough to seal the deal.  However, they played horrible all around baseball and let The Cards slam right through the front door.   Their pitching fell apart after injuries, their closer imploded and their offense couldn’t score runs.   The Cards basically did the opposite.  Hit with power, pitched great out of the gate and found their young closer in Motte.  The Braves and Cards flip flopped fates.  I’ll take it.
2.)You can’t count out the work of Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman in September.   Both hit .360 plus and slugged homers and game changing hits during Matt Holliday’s sixth absence due to moth head and back cold.   Pujols has always been a late season strong finisher, and Berkman supported him on his off nights.  These two provided the basis of a foundation for our run production.
3.)The Bench kicked it up a notch.   Nick Punto filling in for Furcal and slapping hits around the yard.   Allen Craig hitting homer after homer in big games.  Daniel Descalso filling in on defense.   Adron Chambers and Tyler Greene giving us the speed factor late in games.   With the large amount of injuries, the bench had to come through and did.   Big plus.
4.)The starters shut it down in the final 3 weeks.  Cards starters sported a 3.20 ERA and pounded out quality start after quality start.   Carpenter, Jackson and a man named Kyle Lohse(2 huge starts in September) held up the weight while Garcia and Westbrook wandered.
5.)La Russa is a mad man crazy methodically insecure bitch, but he kept the ship moving, made some strong moves and created his own brand of crazy.  I won’t give him too much credit but he did stir this team in the right direction in the crucial stretch.
6.)Jason Motte closed 9 of 11 games in the clutch hour as well.  After setting a record of flawless pitching from June 23rd through September 6th, Motte took over the closer role, ran into exhaustion and growing pains but got the job done.   He came a long way from April of 2009 to September of 2011.  Big gain for this team in getting a closer.
7.)The defense improved.  Furcal coming in at short.  Jay coming in at center, and DD and Punto filling out the edges.  Berkman played well in right field, and the errors were minimized in the last month.

We can dwell on things like double plays, blown saves, micromanaging leadership, starter wear and tear, but during the last month the Cardinals played their best baseball.   Small things like Ryan Theriot becoming the ultimate late inning pinch hit threat helped.   The return of Eduardo Sanchez this week.  Chris Carpenter going 10-2 in the second half.  Pujols coming back.   Berkman finishing strong after a dry period in July and August.   My friends, we can all lay down our picks in April, reestablish those ideas in July, August and September, but the team we watch and torture ourselves over controls the true cards.  Predictions are halfhearted attempts at a GOD complex.   This Cardinals team was the most frustrating group because they drove in so many directions throughout the year.  When they traded Colby, they were in first place.  A month after the deal, we were in 2nd place and buried.  Two months and two days later(today), we are wild card champions.   That’s baseball.  That’s life.  How did this team do it?  Putting all the pieces together and getting a little help from the Braves.  The 2011 Cardinals never gave up.  They just kept on fighting.  A never say die spirit that wasn’t always distributing a pretty display each night and game, but one that got stronger as the season got shorter.   This is a special year because we will remember the hard times and stressful moments to go with the end result.   We bleed this year and got a huge payoff.

Wednesday night, September 28th, was one of the greatest moments in baseball.   The Red Sox, picked to walk to the World Series, dropped the ball horribly in September and were beaten by the Orioles in the clutch hour while the left for dead small salary Moneyball team Tampa Bay came back from a 7-0 deficit to win on a walkoff and steal the AL Wildcard.  A dream of mine is seeing the Cards and Rays, the forgotten teams, battling for the World Series.

It’s easy to say the Cards face a tough challenge in the Phillies.   Would they have it any other way this season?  Facing Cliff Lee and the Phillies in Game 1 on Saturday is exactly what the Cardinals need and the perfect spot to shock the world again.   Was this playoff entrance more thrilling than 2004, 2005, or 2006?  I believe it was because of the manner in which they plowed towards it.   Unpredictable, entertaining, heartbreaking and unforgettable.   Years from now, I can tell my son Vincent that when he was born the Cardinals completed a highly improbable and thrilling comeback that the sport hasn’t seen in years right as he turned 2 weeks old.

Hey everyone, the St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs.  Repeat that a few times until it sticks.  What am I going to do on my night off from The Rogues in Red?  Go watch Moneyball, a film about a renegade GM(Billy Beane) who figured out a different way to build a major league baseball team and make it into the playoffs.   A fitting way to spend my time before the Cards make their desperate walk through October.  The hardest part is over for the Cardinals.  All a team has to do is get into the playoffs.   From there, it’s anyone’s game.

That’s all I have for now.   The surreal nature of this playoff ticket is settling in as we speak.   All day, I have fought off sleep deprivation, tried to keep myself busy and not fall asleep on my forklift.   It’s still a pleasure to hear on the radio that the Cards made it in.   Unbelievable in fact.

Now, I am going to relax and let my eyes close for a few minutes.   The past 24 hours has felt like a jet lagged trip on a french train.   A lot of speed and no in between pauses.  Here’s to the small plunge back into reality.  I am not pinching myself but I do suggest a tiny reminder that what I am seeing is real.

So long for just a little while,


A Pack of Words for the Cool Kids

Hello Ladies and Gents,

A pack of silent words for the cool kids here as we roll around towards 1am.   While I have to be at work in 5 hours, I am withholding sleep(daddy hours limit) and will pound a few words into the wind here before I get a few hours.  I’m one man with one set of hands with a need to inform.

Very Quick Takes on a few subjects-

The Cardinals fire a blank in Houston 
In a season opportunities lost, The Cards miss another golden opportunity.  It doesn’t matter who you face in the big leagues. You have to execute!  If we had did our job and taken care of business on Thursday and tonight, we’d be leading wild card race by a game.  Instead, we are down a game. Players are paid for a result and not just effort.  The Cardinals are a ton of effort, but no result.   We had a chance to score in the 3rd, and Albert Pujols was thrown out at the plate.  We had the bases loaded in the 6th and only got a run on a double play ball.  In the 8th when we tied the game, the Cards had 2 on and nobody out, and nothing happened as Nick Punto slid headfirst into an out at first base.  Ridiculous.  The Phillies put runners on and scored.  They won 4-2.  They have 100 wins.  The Cards have to win the last two and hope that Roy Oswalt and company deliver a couple wins for us to steal this thing.   An amazing run of 20-6 this month is going to fall short unless we can drag out talent and wit together to beat Houston rookie Henry Sosa(no relation to Sammy) tomorrow and Brett Myers on Wednesday.   FORGET about Thursday until we make it there.   The Braves aren’t going to wilt.  Braves centerfield Michael Bourn(no relation to Jason) called his Houston teammates and told them to keep on playing.  Any Cards fan who was mad at the Astros squeeze is a sore loser and forgets the ultimate rule of competitive sports.   You can never look bad by competing your ass off and winning.  The Cardinals head is on the chopping block, and believe me I am done talking about them. 
This is what the Cards need to watch and listen to..

Final Say on Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight
I watched the fight, all 15 minutes of it and have this short cut on it.  The end was exactly what it was called.  A failure to recognize an action by Ortiz.   After headbutt and break, Joe Cortez said “let’s go” and Ortiz left his hands down and got caught. Fair and firm.  The immaturity of Ortiz stood up again.

The Rams Are Ugly Losers
Make no mistake my good friends.  The Rams aren’t just losing.  They are getting their asses kicked.  You’d have to be blind to miss it but you can’t misstep reality.  Sam Bradford and the Rams are playing shitty lazy lifeless robotic football and don’t show any sign of coming out of their tomb.  They are getting outscored 96-36 in their first three games and still have 4 tough matchups before they catch division foe Arizona.  Next week, they get Washington, who lost a close game to the Cowboys tonight yet still own 2 wins under quarterback Rex Grossman(that wasn’t a joke).   Grossman is putting up solid games and doing his job.  If he walks into the Ed Dome and dishes us a beating, I’m going to poke holes in Bradford’s tires, cut open Steven Jackson’s fat lip and shit in Spags’ hat or hide his hair gel.   The Rams can’t score touchdowns in the red zone, and other times we can’t reach it.   The secondary is lousy.   When you allow a rookie playing his first game in Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to score 3 touchdowns in a single quarter, your unit isn’t playing NFL caliber football.   There is no big name stopper on our secondary.   The Rams didn’t care to inquire about one of the Eagles three corners or free agent Antonio Cromartie.   We were set with our collective group of crap.   Where’s Stan Kroneke’s check book now?  Get the ink pen, Stan or realize what you gave up one of our Colorado bases franchises for?  The Rams have stepped back into 2009, where they won 3 games and looked pathetic 89 percent of the time.   Ask Bradford what’s wrong and here’s his answer, honest as a dull knife.  “Where do I start?”  Jackson and the running game aren’t doing much.   Lance Kendricks can’t catch a pass.  The receivers drop too many passes as a whole.   Bradford is going to be hiding in the video room by the end of the season if he keeps getting sacked and blindsided.  The offensive line isn’t protecting him and will relinquish 64 sacks at the current pace.   Big draft pick Jason Smith couldn’t stop Oprah Winfrey on a pass rush right now.  What’s on the agenda at Rams Park?  A strong test of character and skillset.   Spags needs to realize what he has on deck and find out what he needs to pull this ship together and back on course.   Call GM Devaney and communicate with Stan.   Do something.  Go on a team hunting trip.  Kill shit together.  Bond.  Watch Remember the Titans.  This isn’t what we paid for and hoped to see while we nearly drowned in a lockout full of money and greedy grease.  This team was picked by some to finish 10-6 and 11-5.   It’s time to rethink those numbers. My own personal prediction of 9-7 is looking retarded right now.   Rams fans united, what do we really have here?

Until Spags gets a clue, here’s what the Rams need to hear….
“You don’t want to hear it…well, the good news is pal, you’re fired.  And you have one week to regain your job.   Starting with tonight’s sit.”-Alec Baldwin In Glengarry Glen Ross, a classic Mamet film about salesmen in a make or break desperation weekend sale
“You can’t close the leads you’re given.  You can’t close shit.  You are shit.  Hit the bricks pal and beat it, because you are going out.  What’s my name?  Fuck you, that’s my name.  I drove an 80,000 dollar Mercedes.  That’s my name.”

One more time-Peyton Manning isn’t coming back in 2011.  If the Colts are 0-10, why risk the potential of losing Manning for part of 2012, or year 2 of the 5 year 90 million dollar contract?  More commercials for Peyton while he signs his brother up for reading classes.

The Blues Expectations
Make the playoffs and then some.  Do Something productive.  The Cardinals are breaking our hearts again and the Rams are shitting on top of them, so take a stand for the first time in years.I want more than the playoffs.  I want a semifinal playoff game.  The Blues are built to kill and gain a playoff spot on paper, with or without brain damaged Frenchman David Perron.    Perron is a mystery.  I don’t know if he is coming back to the broadcast booth or the team.  He is doing light skating and lifting, but that’s a far cry from getting your clock cleaned on the ice.  They announce big news coming and then tell us he isn’t even expected back for awhile.  Save the ink boys.  Perron is a casualty of war and may never be the same.  Unfortunate because the kid’s talented and puts us over the top this season if he is healthy.  I agree that any production from Perron will be icing on the blue and gold cake.  Take the “soon” out of your first sentence mang.  Perron will attempt to come back during the next 6 months from his concussion, which was suffered last November on a mid ice hit from Joe Thornton in a game I attended.  He scored the winning goal that night and left in the 3rd period.  I’ll believe Perron’s comeback when I see him skate with the team in a game.   The chances hinge on the play of Jaroslav Halak and our defense.   The team needs to improve on the power play and limit the 5 goal games allowed.  If not, well, it’s the same story for the Blues since their arrival here.  Failure on all fronts.    It’s not so hard, is it?  There are 8 playoff spots in the Western Conference.  Get one of them.  That’s double the spots in the National League in baseball, for the Blues fans bashing the Cardinals.   In hockey, the record is polished with bullshit.  Overtime losses aren’t put in the loss column.  They have their own special spot.  That would be nice for baseball.  Lose in extra innings and there’s a special column for it so the record doesn’t look so fucking pathetic.  I guess what I’m saying is this.   Blues, give us something real for a change.  Misery is tapped out here in St. Louis in 2011. 

Very Very Quick Takes
-Tony Romo engineered another 4th quarter comeback against the Redskins, a game the Cowboys won in 6 field goals.  Romo’s still a little choking bitch.
-The Steelers almost lost to the hapless Colts.  There’s the lesson again.  Winning is about executing against anybody. 
-Watch the youtube clips above.  They apply to both those team recaps.  Trust me.  Watch the entire clip.  The best 12 minutes of your day. 
-That’s the difference between winning and losing.  Living and dying.  That inch!  Pacino could light a match under a bunch of fat cats.
-The Red Sox fall with the Rays rise is the best story in sports.   Boston’s payroll is right up there with the Yankees, and they made a big splash in the offseason with the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  Crawford has tanked under the spotlight while Gonzo has thrived, but the Red Sox pitching is shit, starting with Daiska’s final fall, Lackey’s crumbling, Wakefield’s weary arm, Beckett’s health and Lester’s resistance.  The Rays were picked to win shit.   They lost Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano in the offseason.  A piece from each pie, but they added Johnny Damon and found solid pitching and a closer in Kyle Farnsworth.  The Rays tied the Red Sox for the Wild Card last night.  While the Cardinals are struggling to finish their comeback, the Red Sox are choking the hardest.  A desire to be like the Yankees is falling short, unfortunately.   What happens this week will be remembered throughout baseball until the day spring training starts.  Will Boston get back up?
-Watching Jonathon Papelbon close games or pitch in tight spots is must watch television.  The man personifies intensity on the mound.  He burrows his lips into a bullet hole, rears back and fires smoke to go with a devastating changeup.  If the Red Sox don’t want him back, I would be inclined to ask John Mozelaik inquire about his services.  Forget Health Bell.  Paps pitches in the ironclad AL East.  I’ll take him in a heartbeat. 
-If there is a chance to trade Jake Westbrook in the offseason, I pull the trigger and throw in the worn down Kyle McClellan in order to keep Edwin Jackson here.   However, the last thing I’ll ask of Jake Westbrook is to turn in a solid performance tonight in Houston.   That’s all I ask from Jake.  Keep the hope alive and burn every Journey CD in the Cardinals clubhouse.
-Listening to the clubhouse in the postgame of another brutal loss, you wouldn’t know it from the music, chatter and players.  They don’t sound defeated and will come out tomorrow swinging. 
-The 2011 Cardinals officially own the record for double plays at 170 and counting.  Ask La Russa and he’ll tell you we put a lot of baserunners on and that’s what happens.  He’s only half right. 
-TV Shows to Look Forward to-Boardwalk Empire and Dexter.  Empire’s first season chronicled Prohibition and Steve Buscemi’s city treasurer’s Nucky Thompson’s stranglehold over Atlantic City.  A teasing intelligient first season left us wanting more, but I savored the brutality of the characters and the well rounded cast and storytelling.  A slight chill was in the air.  Dexter returns for round 6 on Sunday.  Coming off a season where our good hearted serial killer discovered love lost and did some soul searching, this fall Dexter is going back to straight crimefighting and mixing in spirituality.  I’d be worried if the supporting cast didn’t included Edward James Olmos and Mos Def. 

Right now, I can use a shot of espresso injected into my neck.  That means I am taking a bow and going home to my bed.  Kiss my kid on the head, kiss my wife on her cheek and fall down for awhile.  8 hours of work, a run at lunch, a workout after work, and a Cards game that drained my soul again.  In a few hours, I start it over again and that’s fine by me.  I’ve spoke my mind and the head is clear for now.  I will be back, so read up on this and wait for my return.  Spit up and shitty diapers included. 

Things are changing, but my soul is well intact. 

Goodnight and good luck,


“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a  team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”-Vince Lombardi