World Series Ticket

Without further delay, allow me to dive straight into the gauntlet of hope, dreams, and the resistance of failure.  Beginning with the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals remarkable run into the World Series.  Anyone who pays attention and knows me should know where this blog is heading.   Strap in for the ride, because I am loading up here and firing on all cylinders.

The Cardinals are National League champions for the 18th time in franchise history, and entering their 2nd World Series in their past 6 seasons.   A fitting defeat of their division rivals, The Milwaukee Brewers, in 6 games gives this team a ticket to the Series.  After all the bad blood, loud talk and pregame waves made by the Brewers, the Cards pounded them into submission Sunday night to advance.  The highly improbable trip this Cards team is taking will extend for another week.  This isn’t over yet, and I have a feeling this stress inducing dream team will put us through the ringer for another 7 days.   Before I give you the small details of another Cardinal victory, here’s a relaxing fact.  This is where being a true fan pays off.   A season long plunge into the depths of baseball addiction leaves me with a satisfied feeling as I write this.   The die hard’s sit here in absolute delight, because our pain and suffering over the course of 6 months is paying off as we enter the final and biggest stage.   That’s the fun part of sticking with this team.  I will be honest up front and admit(there are words to back this up) that I wrote(wrote, didn’t actually believe and stick to my dismissal) that the Cards were done.  On August 25th, we were 10.5 games out and coming off a  sweep at home at the hands of the Dodgers.  That was the bottom of the barrel.  On September 9th, we had defeated the Brewers at home but were still 8.5 games back.  On September 14th, we were 5.5 games back.  Slowly but surely, The Cards pushed their way through a door of improbability.  There’s no way to track or deny that.  All I did was keep watching and quietly hoping for a comeback.  A hint of life in a troubled team.  Ask any sports writer if they believed we could come back and make it all the way to the World Series in early September and I’ll buy that man a bottle of scotch.    This is the wildest silliest and most fulfilling run of any Cards team in my lifetime.    This victory tour is highly satisfying because of the frustration produced by this team, but mostly for the longevity of the complexity of a 6 month season.   They are easily the hardest team to watch because of their ups and downs throughout the year.  It’s only fitting to look at the troubles and rough stretches this team faced.  In order to appreciate the sweet, the bitter must be explained completely.  What happened?  What changed?

Starting in spring training with the loss of Adam Wainwright and ending with the pop of champagne after a magical 23-7 run to finish the season and steal the Wild Card, here’s a season look at the torment this team faced.

1.)The Loss Of Waino-Right off the bat, the Cards lose their best starting pitcher, who promised 18-20 wins and a dominant presence in the rotation.   Wainwright suffered a torn ligament in his throwing arm, which needed Tommy John Surgery.   He is throwing off the mound already and will be ready for 2012 spring training.  A team losing their Ace in the spring isn’t picked to win much.  This was the first blow.

2.) More Injuries-Where do you end?  David Freese, the NLCS MVP, was lost for two months with a broken hand.   Albert Pujols missed 2 weeks with a hairline fracture in his wrist.  Lance Lynn missed two months with an oblique strain.    Skip Schumacher missed 2 months with a shoulder injury.  Matt Holliday missed several patches of games that equaled a month and a half of lost playing time.   The Cards lost a position player from each spot in the field and managed to pull help from the bench and fill the holes.

3.)Closer Meltdown-After producing 2 solid seasons, Ryan Franklin blew 7 games in April and burned out quick as the Cardinal closer, forcing his release in June.   Franklin got hammered early and often, and started a moving chair formation of closers on the team that produced over 20 blown saves.

4.)Milwaukee Brewer power-A close race exploded in July and August as Milwaukee took control of the division with a flawless home record, great starting pitching and bullpen work and a solid lineup.   As the Cards went down, the Brewers moved quicker and powered their way to a huge division lead.

5.)Colby Drama-A 6 year promising prospect finally crashed and burned in late July, when the Cards traded Rasmus to Toronto for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepcynski.  The trade was pivotal, controversial, and looked good on the Cards end.  Rasmus tanked in Toronto, and Jackson and Dotel plugged the Cards leaking pitching problem.   Rasmus collision with La Russa and his father, Tony Rasmus, drove the kid into a 2 month long dry spell at the plate that also affected his defense in center field.   Combined with Jon Jay’s ascension to the spot, Rasmus was doomed here and traded off for important season finishing parts.   What happens when a dad gets in the way of his kid’s career?  Trouble with the coaches and a doomed fate.   When Colby left, this team sank yet found a way to get back to the top.  Fundamentals or a lack of pure desire led Colby away.

The Cards dealt with every possible roadblock in their journey to the World Series and came out on top for certain reasons.  Key players and moments.   Here are a few big time second half players.

1.)Jason Motte becomes the closer.  Motte closed down 10 games in September and has recorded 4 saves in the playoffs.  He has been slamming the door on opponents since late June, but not until early August did Motte take over the role and make it his own.   After Fernando Salas burnt out and blew 6 games, Motte took the reins and only blew one save down the stretch.   Finding a true closer was the first piece towards a comeback.    What began as a project for 2012 ended up as a vital part of a turnaround.

2.)Jon Jay and Allen Craig inject a surge into the outfield when injuries come crashing in.   As Matt Holliday spent time on the DL and Rasmus was shipped out, Jay and Craig came in and added fundamentally strong baseball and power from the bench.   Craig produced 11 home runs and 40 RBI off the bench and Jay hit .300 and turned another negative(center field, #2 hole) into a positive for this team.   Along with Daniel Descalso and Nick Punto off the bench, Jay and Craig pumped this team up with young go for broke blood.

3.)Edwin Jackson seals the rotation up.  While not being completely overpowering, Jackson solved the riddle of the end of this rotation.  When McClellan hit an innings wall, Jackson came in and shored up the spot with a consistent performance.  Jackson gave this team 6-7 innings of productive pitching.   Jackson isn’t lights out and won’t throw any complete games too often, but he gives you a consistency that fixed a leak here.  While hittable and a lower end starter, Jackson’s arrival helped this team.

4.)The Bullpen becomes a strength.   With addition of Dotel and Rzepcynski to the pen and the insertion of Motte as closer, the group got a little structure late in the game.  Salas went back into setup, Dotel was the 2 inning arm, Rzep was the matchup lefty, and Motte closed the door in the end.   Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez made it back from injury and Lynn has come up huge in the postseason, but the group as a whole picked up a tiring rotation in the second half.

5.)Chris Carpenter makes a comeback.  It’s simple.  Carpenter repaired his career with a second half surge that included a 10-2 record and a 2.74 ERA. He pitched 4 complete games in September.   He pitch the playoff clinching complete game against the Astros.  He outdueled Roy Halladay in Philly to lock down the NLDS.  He recorded the only 5 inning decision of any starter in the NLCS.   Carpenter found his groove and carried the rotation to the playoffs.  He was rewarded with a 2 year extension and a chance to play for more gold.

6.)Albert Pujols finally showed up.  After a disputed contract extension chat and a sleepy April and May, Albert exploded in the second half, hitting 30 home runs and driving in more than 70 runs since the end of May.   Once Albert fixed his problems, the team truly caught fire and finished well.   Pujols hit .400 in September and rediscovered his MVP ways when the Cards needed him most.    He reclaimed the throne, put together another solid season and has hit .400 in the playoffs.

7.)Rafael Furcal and the infield defense.   Furcal came over in a trade on July 30th and fortified the infield defense.   Take away a 5 error stretch of play in September and Furcal played lights out defense and has risen to the occasion in the playoffs.   Freese and Descalso have shored up the third base position and Nick Punto has boosted the play at second base to turn this Cards infield around completely.   The addition of Furcal in the field and at the top of the lineup was a slow burn of success on this team.

How Did the Cards defeat Milwaukee?  Careful precision.   The Brewers made a playoff record 9 errors.  The Cards destroyed Yovani Gallardo, Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum in 5 starts, getting 4 wins from those solid starters.   The Cards outhit the Brewers in the clutch and took better at bats.   The Cards bullpen recorded a 0.93 ERA in the series and pitched more innings than the rotation.    Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday hit .400 plus and drove in key runs, with Pujols cranking 5 RBI and a HR in Game 2.  David Freese won the NLCS by hitting close to .500 and driving in 14 runners.   Freese became the secret weapon and Mr. Clutch.  He buried the Brewers.   The Cards pen held Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to 5-28 hitting with only 1 RBI.  All in all, the Cards outplayed the Brewers in nearly every facet of the game and took the series in 6 games.  While the Cards starting pitching wasn’t strong, the Brewers big 3 didn’t fare that well and were the victim of bad defense.   A small detail left hidden is the fact that St. Louis’ defense improved towards the tail end of the season and came up big in this series.  The bullpen carried the starters, the lineup overpowered their pitching and the Cards played sound defense to shock the Brewers.

As my good friend Derek Winters said, the fans and writers have been forced to come full circle with this team with their entertaining erratic play.   Look back and we have been defying logic the entire season.   When Waino went down, the Cards were picked to finish 4th and had an outside chance by others to reach the playoffs.  It was amazing the Cards were able to steal the Wild Card on the last day of the season and have the Phillies beat the Braves to clear them away.   Then, we thought it would be amazing to push the Phillies to 5 games in the NLDS.  We out pitched their big 3 arms and hung in for a Game 5 showdown between Carp and Roy Halladay.   We beat them in 5.   The Brewers came along and we weren’t supposed to beat them, much less play 6 games.   Fans thought, it would be amazing to push the series to 7.  After a Game 1 loss, things looked bleak.   Then, our bats broke out and won 4 of the next 5 games, sending us to the World Series.   For awhile, the Cards played the role of losers, diving into a July-August swoon and burying themselves.  Slowly, we dug ourselves out and put up a fight.  We took every punch known to inner season despair, with injuries, position breakdowns and meltdowns, but La Russa and his bench made the calls and plugged the holes.   The 2011 Cardinals weren’t expected to do anything and have a chance now to win everything.   That’s amazing.   Starting hot, falling slow, crashing mid season and slowly picking themselves up, this team resembles an underdog boxer.  A Rocky squad.  It’s going to be fun to see if they can finish the job.  After taking down the two best NL teams, what’s stopping the Cards now?  The AL Champ Texas Rangers.   My mind will be consumed by the Rangers for the next two days and how we can beat them.    Hint…it’s not easy, not even a little bit.

Can we beat the Rangers?  How?  The Cards have banged down every other obstacle in their way, and if the task were easy now, the Cards would probably lose.  The Rangers are tough.  There’s no getting around that scary fact.   They are well rounded and strong in nearly every area.   They have a rotation armed with 3 good lefthanded starters, which puts the pressure on Pujols, Holliday and Freese.   Cj Wilson and company will expose the fact this Cards team doesn’t hit lefties well.  If Randy Wolf was a handful, Wilson and Lewis will present problems.   The Rangers are an offensive juggernaut, powered by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young.  THey score runs in bunches and finished in the top 3 in the AL in hitting and situational production.   Hamilton and Young are the hammers and Cruz is the “Freese” on their team, the 7th spot bat that does damage.   This group will be hard to stop or slow down.   Their closer, Feliz, is one of the best finishers in baseball.   The Rangers are stacked and will put up a huge fight.

Here is a “must do” list for the Cards-

1.)The starters have to be better.   Jake Westbrook may enter the rotation and how can you dispute it?  Westbrook pitched in the AL for a long period and can shut teams down with his sinker.   He earns the right to turn the ship around.   The real question is, can anyone other than Chris Carpenter a game for this team?   Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia, and Edwin Jackson pitched average to horrible overall so far in the postseason, so where’s the hope?  If this group can’t improve, get out the shovels because the bullpen won’t save us this series.

2.)As mentioned, The righthanders in our lineup must produce clutch hits.   If Pujols, Holliday, Molina and Freese are shut down, there are serious problems.     Allen Craig and Holliday will trade the DH spot and this Cards lineup will be stacked for the 3 games in Texas.   Facing a lefthanded based rotation, the big bats must come through.   Lance Berkman is due for a breakout game.

3.)We MUST SCORE FIRST.   Every time we scored first in the regular season and postseason, 95 percent of the time we won.   It’s a tactic that sheds the pressure and gives your weaker pitching staff confidence.   Get ahead early and don’t stop throwing punches until the 27th out.

4.)Use the Home Field advantage.   The Cards get the first 2 games and last 3 at home in this World Series and it’s important.  The Rangers play very well at home in Arlington Field and are more beatable on the road.  The Cards played well down the stretch at home and must continue here.

5.)Jason Motte must match Feliz save for save.   A closer’s margin for error in the World Series lowers to zero.   Closers have to get their “Riveria” on now and go into lockdown mode.  Motte has been lights out in the postseason and that must continue.   The same goes for the rest of the bullpen.   My guess is the starters will be exposed and the pen will be in rescue mode again.

Basically, the Cards have to keep doing what got them here in the first place.   Score first and get clutch 2 out hits, finish well with the bullpen, outrun your opponent and hope for a solid start from your rotation.   The Cards beat the Brewers with their bullpen and now need other areas to step it up.    The Texas Rangers are a tough foe and will bring everything they got and more in this series, but they are beatable.

The X-Factor-Chris Carpenter’s elbow, a new fascination in the local media here in St. Louis.   A small issue that was going to be shadow his Game 7 start against Milwaukee two days ago is still a lingering worry.   My best guess is arm fatigue, being that Carp has thrown nearly 260 innings this season.   That’s a heavy workload and will cause a smal amount of wear on a pitcher’s arm.   However, a truck couldn’t stop Carp from taking the mound tomorrow, so to me this is a non-issue but it had to be addressed.

Moving on to other areas while the hands are still hot and my Cards hype count is momentarily low.  After pounding out nearly 3,000 words on the Cards, I am ready to explore other topics.

The St. Louis Rams misery continued on Sunday in Green Bay. Until the Rams stop beating themselves(penalties, turnovers, dropped passes, sacks allowed), they won’t stand a chance against anyone in the NFL?  If this play continues, we could finish 0-16.   The 49ers are 5-1, legit defensively and in the running game.  They own this division.   The Bengals, Browns and Cards won’t be pushovers and next week’s game in Dallas is going to be scary for one reason.  If Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can generate a pass rush that breaks down the mighty Patriots O-Line, what will he be able to do against our shitty bunch of blockers?  Bradford’s life may change next week in a very bad way.  Chokeville Romo has to be excited to face our horrible secondary.   Naming the bad things on this team is like throwing a dart at a wall blindfolded.  Easier than you think.  Hopefully, the additions of Brandon Lloyd(Mcdaniels disciple in Denver) and Mark Clayton give Bradford some chests to throw to that can hold onto the ball.
The Rams are facing injuries with Danny Amendola out for the rest of the season with shoulder surgery and Bradford now wearing a boot due to a high ankle sprain.   Things are crashing fast in Rams Nation, but the play must pick up or this team will be in danger of losing fans and the head coach being fired.  Listening to the apologetic and defensive Steve Spagnuolo on the local radio here, its hard to not feel for the guy’s situation but it must improve or the team needs to go in a new direction.   Blaming head coaches is the easiest job in sports journalism, but if the players aren’t responding to Spags’ pillars of character, it’s time for a change.  The NFL is a “can or can’t” league, where results tromp effort.   Tell me they are hard workers and I will ask why they make so many mistakes.  Why can’t Jason Smith or Roger Saffold resist a false start if they try so hard?  They aren’t elite talents and never will be.   For all the millions invested in the offensive line, their work is cutthroat and average.   Bradford’s brain will be under examination before long.

The addition of Lloyd can spark the offense.  Under Josh McDaniels in Denver last season, Brandon Lloyd caught 11 touchdowns and accumulated 789 yards in receiving.   The Rams got him for a 5th round pick.   A steal if you ask me.   Hopefully, McDaniels can insert him right away and use his explosiveness to the offense’s advantage.   Right now, I’ll take anyone who can catch a pass.   Apparently, Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson work hard yet can’t bring in a catch during games.   Lloyd will change that and Mark Clayton worked so well with Bradford that these two have to make a difference.

Why is the supposedly high powered McDaniels offense not working in St. Louis this season?  The Cardinals have scored more runs than the Rams points in the playoffs and that’s quite pathetic.  McDaniels offense is creating yards yet not bringing in touchdowns in the red zone, a huge problem last season.   Red Zone Efficiency.   Is it a personnel issue or McDaniels’ offense falling flat?

Green Bay is a great team and easily handled us with one explosive quarter to hammer it down 24-3 in Lambeau territory, but the manner in which the Rams are losing is hard to watch.   Going from 7-9 to 0-5 and seeing Spags record with the team at 8-29 is depressing.   The team’s play matches it.  The Rams are fundamentally horrible and can’t make plays to save their idiotic ways.   Penalties, dropped passes, sacks allowed and horrible red zone efficiency.   If this continues, the Rams will be in for change again come 2012.  Owner Stan Kroneke doesn’t care about character or good will.  He will make the right moves to craft this team into a winning franchise and one that makes money.  Right now, this team isn’t making anything but mistakes.

Sign Posted Outside The Ed Dome Right Now-“HELP WANTED”

The Blues Get Dealt Another Bad Hand by Luck-After splitting the first two games of a road trip, the Blues lose forward Andy Mcdonald to a concussion.   He has been placed on injured reserve and will miss 25-30 games or until he can handle daylight and contact at the same time.   This is the second consecutive season that McDonald has missed extensive time with a concussion.   An unfortunate turn for the Blues as they battle through early struggles and skate at the moment to a 2-3 record.   Bad luck comes in the form of losing two gifted players, arguably the best on your roster in McDonald and David Perron to concussion related injuries.  Evgeni Grachev fills McDonald’s spot on the top line after logging minutes with Backes and Oshie in the preseason, but this is a huge blow.   When McDonald went down last season along with Perron, the team’s play took a turn for the worst.

Hockey is producing more concussions these days and speed demons like McDonald are always going to be subject to a hard hit that knocks them out.   Too bad.  What do you do with him as he nears the end of a contract and struggles to stay healthy?  Look for a trade if there is one available.  He will miss a 6-8 weeks but he may hold value to a team looking to load up around the new year.     I do shop him and look for defensive help, a penalty killing forward.   Our special teams suck,  so there is help needed there.  You can’t replace McDonald, so the search for a top line forward isn’t worth the trouble.

What’s the deal with the goaltending on this team?  Goaltending on this team is strung up in Halak, Elliot, Bishop and Allen.   Halak is here for 3 more seasons and Elliot is the Conklin of this season.   Halak is inconsistent yet I am not sure you trade him because what can Elliot give you full time.  In my opinion, Bishop had his chance to win a spot here and failed.   Kill him off.   Jake Allen comes into play next season and will start pushing Halak and be the backup.   Moving Halak is dangerous because the market is thin(unless you can work a trade for someone better) and his 4 million salary is heavy to hand off.   I’d entertain a trade, but I am not sure it exists.   Halak can catch fire, take control of the position, Elliot is your backup and Allen is setting up to challenge Jaroslav next season.

While they will remain exciting to watch and a threat to score a playoff spot, the Blues latest injury bug proves this season will be a frustrating extended round of pain and anticipation.

Random Voice On the Radio-My boy, local talent Jon Hamm , on 101.1 ESPN radio’s Fast Lane yesterday afternoon.   Hamm is a big time Cards and Blues fan, and is growing in Hollywood stardom as we speak.   A lead on AMC”s Mad Men and a fine supporting actor in cinema features, Hamm is getting better and better.  Hamm lives in LA now, but spent a majority of his life in St Louis, growing up here after his parents passed away and he went and taught at John Burroughs High School.   Hamm is a cool guy, is hilarious in interviews, and made a name for himself the hard slow way.   Until he auditioned for Mad Men, he was a bit actor and a lingering body in film.   Now he is a known name, and he still keeps his roots and comes back to St. Louis.   You can confirm that I have a man crush on Mr. Hamm.   A cool talented guy and since he is from St. Louis he is a representative of my neighborhood and city.   A proud feeling after the talent runs away.

Real Steel Review-A  well done and engaging robot boxing flick that keeps an eye towards the future but maintains an emphasis on the heart with a father/son story. Look, if you like something new, exciting fresh and love old school boxing and storytelling, give this flick a shot. Jackman is fine and Real Steel delivers.  The setting is decades into the future, and boxing combat between mortal humans has been replaced by large financially powerfully robots.   Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a former boxer currently playing his part in the new age as a trainer, operator and promoter.  Kenton is the classic fuckup artist who finds different ways to screw things up and wager his soul on a robot.   The juice doesn’t exist in the details here of the rules and regulations of the new boxing world, but rather in the father and son story attached to it.  Kenton’s ex wife dies, and before his son Max goes into the custody of his ex sister in law, Charlie takes the kid for the summer.  The establishment of their relationship is the heart of the film, as Kenton and his son spar and come together over their love of boxing.   If you are a son who has looked up to his dad before, this film will click.   There’s nothing extraordinary in the storytelling here and some of the material of recycled from other sports films, but Director Shawn Levy lays the weight on Charlie and Max here and it pays off.  Max finds an old sparring robot, and they restore it and take it on the fight circuit as the underdog contender.  The finale is familiar yet well played.  Real Steel is a satisfying escape for a fan of old school action dramas.

Music of the Week-Alexi Murdoch’s “All My Days”, a somber ballad about the 24/7 grind of life and how decisions are the ultimate answer to anyone’s riddle.  Murdoch’s moody slow baritone vocals lay the bricks here as slow acoustic guitar wrap around the lyrics to form a relaxing melody that is fine for any evening.  If you want something slow and heartfelt, give this a look.

Random Bits

Donovan McNabb has lost another starting quarterback job.   This is the third in three teams.  After getting ousted in Philly and Washington, McNabb’s lackluster 2011 start has gotten him shoved to the side for top draft pick Christian Ponder.  Ponder was the surprise QB pick for the Vikings and was selected as a security blanket behind D-Nabb’s washed up skills.  There’s no person to blame this time for Donovan.  He simply isn’t good enough anymore.  With a talented set of receivers and all star running back behind him, McNabb failed to put up the stats and is gone.

Carson Palmer kept his word about sitting in Cincinnati and now gets a shot with the Oakland Raiders.    Palmer is a talented QB with knee issues and a player who lost his tolerance for Cincy drama.   There wasn’t a single NFL analyst who thought Carson would keep his promise of refusing to play for the Bengals, but things worked out nicely for both sides.  Palmer sat, Andy Dalton filled in nicely and now Carson gets a shot in Oakland after Jason Campbell goes down.

The Blues sale should have been final by now.   After a couple weeks of final talks, the Blues were supposed to be locked in with new ownership.  All I hear is that the two sides are close.   David Checketts and Towerbrook Corporation selling their share to Michael Huskiez, a businessman from Chicago.  While sales of teams take time, one would have suspected this deal would be done by now.  I guess not.  Does this bother you?

Bernard Hopkins was wrongly given a bad decision in his light heavyweight bout against Chad Dawson.  Dawson picked up Hopkins in the second round and slammed him to the canvas, dislocating Hopkins shoulder.  The referee ruled it a technical knockout, which is absurd.  The decision should have been a no contest.  When did boxing become the UFC or NFL?  If Hopkins has a dislocated shoulder, he can’t continue and the ruling needed to be changed.   Dawson decided to get dirty instead of lose the fight, and I smell a rematch in the making for Hopkins, who at 46 years old isn’t done beating up young guys yet.  The man’s a technician and got a bad decision.

Olivia Wilde gave House a fresh dose of unpredictable fire.  Now that she is gone, what happens with the wiring on this falling FOX drama?  Wilde’s character, mysteriously named Thirteen as in the 13th candidate for the last spot on House’s team, brought something fresh to table here.  Her character’s ailment was a disease that was going to kill her in 10 years or less.  Her conflict was deciding to run away or stay a doctor with House.   While staying away from romance, House and Thirteen shared a bond that was bound by being different and isolating yourself from the outside world.  She felt that if she left her post at the hospital, that she would be bound with a lifelong guilt.  In the end, House took care of her decision by giving her an out, firing her.   At the core of Hugh Laurie’s brilliantly played Gregory House,when you get past the narcissistic rage and supremely cynical desire, is a heart of gold.    That’s the show for newcomers.  House’s brilliance and arrogance giving way to real kindness that shows up in small shadow hints.  Wilde, along with being gorgeous, is a decent actress and she played Thirteen perfectly.  She shared a connection with House because they were both tied to their jobs by guilt.  House freed her, yet took away one of the better characters on the show.   On a show that was watchable yet slowly dying, Wilde’s unpredictable portrayal of a woman chained to her profession and freed by her will, was something new and cool.   Now what?

The bad rap on bloggers isn’t proper at all.   All I hear from people when I tell them I blog is a blind expression and small smirk on the other end.    Is it a day and age where writers who aren’t paid don’t get the proper respect and can’t be taken seriously without a paycheck?   That’s crap.    Bloggers have more freedom and land to cover with their words.  I can write exactly what I’m thinking and get away with the freedom of speech.   While I respect paid writers and read several daily, I like my roguish stance in the world of creative journalism.   While I would cross over for a paid job if the right offer came along, I feel a bit of renegade spirit lies in my words.   The knockers of bloggers should give it a shot first.   They might find more freedom than they ever imagined. 

Being a father brings a certain level of anxiety.  All my wife and I do is check on Vincent and make sure he is okay.   We monitor him like a piece of china at an auction.   One small disturbance and we turn into the A team.   That’s being a parent.   A neverending worry and anticipation of the worst possible scenario.   Since he came home, we check his heart rate by the hour and give him his meds but also look at him every second.   We are ready for danger now because we’ve experienced it front and center.   Our days in the ICU and Cardialogy wing will never go away.   I wouldn’t change a thing because those 6 days taught me a lesson I couldn’t learn elsewhere.   Survival techniques.  

Vincent is a guaranteed mood boost.  Look at the kid and you easily become happier.    I have taken close to 100 pictures of the guy on my phone and I can’t delete one of them.  Every image carries a small memory and carries detail.   

That’s all for now.   5,500 words should do the trick of emptying the head.  It’s time to pull this latest Buffa train of thought into the station and start prepping the next batch of material.   Every word is followed by another, whether you see it or not.   Everything must be explained because every story comes with an answer or opinion.    For now, I am done.   It’s time to leave this material for inspection from the masses.   Thanks for reading and take care. 


Dan L. Buffa


The Friday Spill

Ladies and gents,

We are gathered here today to discuss the common topics found in my realm of the blog.  I have been know to dive into sports, film, TV, a splash of music and almost anything in between.   It’s hard to stay unpredictable when you know what you do well.  Today, I take a look back at the Cards game from last night. Standard fare for the trained eye.

NLCS Recap-The Brewers aren’t going lightly.   They evened the series last night at 2 games by coming back from being down 2-0 to win the game 4-2 and set this series up for at least 6 games.  The Cards and Brewers have split the season/playoff series so far at 11-11, and the Brewers have outscored the Cards by only 2 runs at 90-88.    These two teams play hard fought baseball games and neither are going down easily.   A co-worker of mine told me the Cards could polish the Brewers off in 5 games and I laughed lightly and told him the 2011 Cards don’t do anything the easy way.   Everything this season has been bloody and stressful.   Talking about this team has to include pain medication or a stomach pump to recall past events.   Lets roll over some more details.

*The Wolf silenced us again.   Randy Wolf pitched 7 strong innings to reverse an early 2-0 deficit.   Wolf keeps the Cards off balance with his range of speeds on his curveball, fastball and changeup.   He beat the Cards for the 4th time in 2011 and its one of those matchups that’s always going to be a deficit.  Wolf is a pest to this team and there’s no way to explain it.   He makes the Cards extend their swings and widen their strike zone.   A week after Arizona kicked around Wolf, he walks into Busch and shuts down a hot offense.  You have to tip your cap to him while wishing him to fail.

*The Allen Craig for Lance Berkman move paid off.  Craig hit a solo home run and Berkman hit a single in the 9th to bring up the tying run.   Berkman comes back tonight to face Zach Greinke and Craig goes back to the bench.

*The Starters have to be blamed for their poor work in this series.  In 17.2 innings, the Cards rotation has allowed 13 runs and haven’t went past 5 innings of work.   This is a problem and if this trend continues, they won’t win this series.   You can only count on the bullpen for so long before they break.   The bullpen pitched great last night.  Mitchell Boggs allowed a go ahead single to Ryan Braun, but limited the damage.   Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes followed suit and kept the game in hand.  Sooner or later, a Cards starter needs to deliver a big start.   It’s been a week since Carpenter pitched a complete game against the Phillies.

*Jaime Garcia goes for redemption tonight.   Garcia is coming off a rough game 1 start where he blew a 5-2 lead and only lasted 4 innings in a loss.   Garcia made game breaking pitches to Braun and Fielder.  He needs to redeem himself tonight.   Facing Greinke on the other side, if Garcia falters, this game is lost.

*The Starters have also been blowing leads this series.   Garcia blew 2 leads in Game 1, Carp flirted with it in Game 3 and Lohse blew a 2-0 lead last night.    Getting mad at Kyle Lohse is like getting mad at a retarded kid for screwing up the alphabet.  He isn’t a big game pitcher and not someone to lean on for a quality start on a big stage.  He is a good pitcher but he will have that one bad inning where you feel like disowning him.

*Ryan Theriot had a bad night.   He failed to get a runner in from third with one out and made a costly error in the 6th inning.  Theriot is a player you don’t get too excited about.

*The Cards situational hitting was horrible last night and continued a nasty trend from Wednesday’s game.  After scoring four in the 1st inning on Wednesday,  The Cards failed to produce with runners in scoring position and went 0-10 last night, including 2 instances where there was a runner on third base and only one out.  If you fail like that in a 2 run game, odds are a loss is going to be hitting the board. From the 2nd inning through the ninth inning last night, the Cards failed every single time they had a runner in scoring position.   How can this team win if we can’t pull through in the clutch?

*Watching this team do everything the hard way, you’d think they were paid to make it this interesting.    A torture test for fans that has been going on for 6 months.  It has nothing to do with talent and capability and everything to do with the competition put in front of you.    The Brewers are fighting to put an end to their playoff dismal record in the past decade.  The Cards are fighting to reclaim the order in the Central and play for a chance to go to the World Series.  Who else thinks it’s comical to see two teams from the NL Comedy Central fighting for a pennant?

*This series will go 7 games because these two teams are so evenly matched no team will get too far ahead. 

Other Material-

*The Rams will need a miracle to beat the 5-0 all mighty Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.   A pure David VS. Goliath matchup that doesn’t look good at all for the Rams.    This is the game you go into thinking we will lose and hope for the best.   All we can hope for are the Rams to leave the field standing.   I am not shitting on my team here.  Just being honest.   It’s going to be a tough day at the office.  This is the game on the schedule with a large “L” next to it. 

*Blues fans, it’s going to be a long season.   In a similiar fashion to the Cards, The Blues are going to put us through the ringer this season.   Up and down, zig and zag play while being entertaining and contending for a spot.   The first three games have produced a win and two losses along with scary trends.   Goalie Jaroslav Halak is allowing 3 goals per game while facing less than 25 shots.  The entire team sleeps through the first periods.   The Blues are pounding the opposition with shots and have hung in their two losses.  Patrik Berglund, Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner have looked impressive so far along with Daggs.   It’s important to understand this team is going to frustrate us this season.   The result is undetermined but the effort will be there.  

*There’s a chance I make it to the movies this weekend.   Real Steel or Ides of March are the options.  A robot story with a father/son bond at the heart or a cold hearted morality play about losing your life to politics.   I’ll take my chances with Jackman or Clooney. 

*While being tough and active, Vinny is the cutest kid on the earth.   I didn’t look to the scorecards.   This is pure opinion.  He wins a ton of staring contests. 

*Music to Seek Out-The Black Keys early album, Rubber Factory.   Full blooded blues rock is good for the soul. 

Final Thought-If I was a car, I’d run on coffee.   No day is complete without it and there are some days I wonder what I would do without it.   Seriously, don’t underestimate the value of coffee.   Today, I spent 3 hours walking around like a zombie.   Then, all of a sudden, I found coffee and everything is better.  If I stayed in a hospital and they were willing, I’d get an IV of coffee.   If there is one thing that is required for me to be as sharp as I can be, it’s coffee.   Just a cup of morning joe.  My coffee of the moment is Gold Coast Blend from Starbucks, a rich bold flavor that stings the nostrils. 

Thanks for reading everybody and have a good weekend.  Do something nice and tell them I sent you.


Dan L. Buffa

The Daily STL Outlook


Let me rip into the daily news here and provide you with a little perspective on certain subjects.

*NLCS Insight-The Cardinals bullpen shut down the Brewers last night after a 4 run outburst by the bats in the first, enabling the Cards to take a 2-1 series lead.   The win came from the classic grinder format.    Offense provides early lead, starter is rusty, offense fails to add to lead, lead dwindles and the bullpen comes in to rescue the day.  In 23  innings in the postseason, the Cards bullpen is posting a 0.93 ERA.   Jason Motte has 3 saves and Lance Lynn’s return has provided a much needed boost with the downfall of Kyle McClellan.   The Cards bullpen is outperforming The Brewers strong pen and earning this team victories when the starting pitching isn’t there.

Other Thoughts on the Series-

*Thinking about the Cards go for broke streak had me wondering the last time I stepped foot in Busch Stadium.  The Last Game I went to came in early September with the team out of contention.  The Cards were 10.5 games back, playing in a half empty stadium, facing Milwaukee on September 6th.  Its amazing what a difference winning makes even in a baseball town.  From Funeral prep to a carnival like gathering.   That’s sports.  The Cards were playing for desperation that night, when Kyle Lohse defeated Yovani Gallardo and the Cards won 4-3 on a Lance Berkman home run.   The game carried more significance than anyone in Busch could ever dream of.

*If Milwaukee is wondering why their suddenly crippling beast mode ride is in danger, they can look in the mirror at the culprits.   They faced the Cards 6 times in September and lost 5 of 6 games.  With a chance to bury us, they failed and we stormed the weakening Braves for the Wild Card.  Simple as that.   The Brew Crew had a chance to put us away and they screwed it up.  That’s similiar to leaving the back door open in your home when you go to sleep.  Bad idea.

*Expect nothing from Lohse or risk being let down tonight.  After starting red hot in Philly, Lohse got beat up in the 6th inning and made 2 horrible pitches and lost the game.  What does he bring tonight?  Uncertainty.   Let’s hope the bats come out in full force after last night’s grinder.  While we won 4-3, the pitching dominated the victory. The bats threw up 4 runs in the 1st and then quit.   Tonight, the Cards must solve Randy Wolf, who owns a 21.53 ERA in the playoffs.

*It’s hard to pinpoint the Cards success off a fine young pitcher like Gallardo, but sometimes a pitcher can’t solve a lineup.   It comes down to one pitch.   The Cards hammer Gallardo’s best pitch, a power slider that never gets far enough off the plate.   Albert Pujols continues to own him, collecting two hits to pump his personal record against the Brewers Ace to 8-13 with 3 home runs and 3 doubles.

*Albert Pujols has responded with a vengeance in this series.  After a one hit letdown in Game 1, Pujols has hammered out 6 hits in 7 plate appearances with 2 walks, a home runs, 6 RBI and 4 doubles.   Right now, he locked in and facing a pitcher tonight in Randy Wolf, who always seems to shut him down.   Will Pujols continue his torrid streak?  I’d bet on it because Albert is the best adjuster in the league.  Very few pitchers manage to keep him down for long.

*Is it just me or does David Freese seem to hammer every big hit to the opposite field?  His success makes you wonder why the opposing pitchers even throw him a fastball on the outside corner.   I picture Ron Roenecke realigning his Brewers outfield to put two players in right field guarding the track.    Freese hits those line drive doubles/home runs to to the exact same spot every time.  Amazing opposite field power.  The cheapest clutch bat in baseball right now is David Freese.  Pour that man a drink of Captain Morgan, because if he keeps bringing home the loot in his home town, the future looks bright for this kid.

Yes that was a shameful Captain Morgan commercial plug, but eat it up and keeping reading.

*Jason Motte is so much better because he can spot his 99 mph heater and has improved his secondary pitch, a slow biting cutter clocking in at 89 mph enough to fool the hitter and keep them honest at the plate.  Motte is making a strong claim to the closer role while La Russa resists labeling him the finisher.   Motte’s got 99 problems but a fastball isn’t one, and it was electric last night to see him blow smoke past Cards killer Casey McGahee to close out the win.   Imagine if we had Motte since April 1st.   Possibilities are endless.

*Somebody tell Matt Holliday that the pitch on the outside corner isn’t a strike.   Lumberjack Matt is helping the opposition by failing with runners in scoring position.  He is healthy but he is getting fooled.   His string is getting pulled on outside breaking pitches.  A smart play to Holliday that has the Brewers walking Albert to get to him.  Pujols is only as good as the guy behind him and 17 million dollars isnt being given to Matt to screw up.

*Allen Craig is going to challenge the slumping Holliday and Berkman, rightfully, for playing time here.   In the playoffs, ignore stature and salary and go with the hottest hand.  Craig deserves a look after being shunned after Game 1 of the NLDS.

Random Note-If Lebron James is keen on taking a shot at the NFL, here’s an idea that needs to be passed along to John Clayton at ESPN.   Have James meet at a football practice field in Miami and send Ndamukong Suh, Ray Lewis and Troy Polumalu to greet him with reality.   A tough reality.   James was probably joking or wanting attention because he is out of work and felt like getting some sportscenter minutes, but let me take him seriously for a minute.  Have Suh, Lewis and Troy hit him with every painful shot they can possibly take.   Line up James and let Suh rock him on a rush.   Let James catch a pass and have Troy pop him.   See if King James can find a way around Lewis in the middle.   Listen, Lebron, youre talented and performed well in high school but this is the NFL.  Don’t be a stupid millionaire.   Stay in shape, play some hoops at the gym and stay ready.   If you come into the NFL, your career is over.   Every thirsty NFL piece of scrap metal will aim to take you down and why not.   You’re a superstar and most of them aren’t.   Stay home James.

Final Thoughts-

*Watching television in a hospital on a 19 inch wall TV makes you appreciate your larger set at home.   The combination of bad announcers, several commercials and a very small television made the Cards games rather painful.   Coming home to my 47 inches if 1080pi powered plasma was fitting. 

*Vinny is home, doing a lot better and responding well to his medication.   I couldn’t tell you what will be happening in a month, but right now the kid is fine. 

*The Brewers complaining about their ticket packages for their families only puts pressure on them during games.   The lesser the distraction, the better for a team. 

*Music to Listen to At the Moment-Band of Skulls, a punk rock indie band with one album of pure gold.   Check it out.   Baby Darling Dollface Honey.

*How much money would you need to let Ndamukong Suh hit you without pads on?   Plenty of money and a good health insurance plan.  He is the most feared body in the NFL, so think carefully. 

*Show to Watch Next-Breaking Bad On AMC.   Hearing great things about it, and it seems like a well done man version of Weeds.  Bryan Cranston is a good actor and got the role of a lifetime, akin to Timothy Olyphant on Justified or James Gandolfini on Sopranos.  The magical meeting of an actor and a role is rare in Hollywood these days. 

That’s it.  Honestly, I am done here.  Enjoy the rest of the evening, watch some Cards action and find some food to starve off the hunger strike.  It’s time to go home and make myself useful. 


Dan L. Buffa


The Quick Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,


Do You Know Who I Am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dan Buffa

26 Day Old Fella


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

Vincent Buffa Update

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

Cards Fall Flat, Lose Game 1 in Milwaukee

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

The Culprits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Random Thoughts

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

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





The Press Release

Good evening,

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

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

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

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

The Good-Cardinals

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

The Carpenter Experience-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Not So Good Yet Not Bad-The Blues Opener

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ugly-The Rams

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

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

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

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

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

-Turn the ball over for touchdowns.

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

-Fail to Protect the Quarterback

-Wide Receivers can’t catch key throws

-Hesitative strategy on offense

-Failure to react to another’s teams game plan

-Most Valuable player being the field goal kicker

-Special teams doom

-No Running Game

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

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

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

Goodnight, Good Luck and Thanks for reading,

Daniel L. Buffa

The Cards Postgame Wrap(forcing Game 5)

Greetings all,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cards Postgame Wrap and More

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

30 Minutes to Speak

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

Cards-Phillies At Busch Factors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all on the Cards. 

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

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

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

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

A Quick round of bits-

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

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

Thanks for reading,