Let me introduce this new round of action: Since I started blogging to a pack of buddies via an email blast over 10 years ago, I have always liked firing out a post on a wide range of topics. I’d call it “The Buffa Bullet Round” or “A Buffa Blast”. Bullet points, quick and smooth, about different things. One-topic articles are great but sometimes, firing away on a wide range of things can make for a fun read. On a radio show, they do the same thing. Over the course of the 2-3 hours, a host goes over a range of topics offering his take. Here is my first dispatch/bullet round, STL sports talk.
- As spring training heats up and games start on the 28th, center field continues to be a hot topic. The Cards brought in Peter Bourjos by shipping out the hometown boy David Freese so they could improve the defense in the outfield. In 2013, the Cards were wretched in the field out there and hurt their team’s chances by not doing the pitchers many favors. Bourjos was brought here to help that. Some are claiming Jon Jay can hit better than Bourjos, which if you compare the two’s baseball cards is true; however, remember the context of the trade that was made. Bourjos gives you fantastic defense in center field and if he can get on base, could change the lineup speed-wise. Jay has been good here and is a good teammate, but I just don’t see where he gets too many at bats if the Cards and Matheny need great defense in center. That was the idea. A platoon doesn’t work because Bourjos can’t hit lefties any more than Jay can. With Jhonny Peralta giving shortstop an offensive boost, I would be willing to sacrifice a bat for a glove in center until Oscar Taveras is ready. And that’s another thing: when Oscar is ready, how many starts will Jay receive? Like Daniel Descalso on the infield, I see Jay as injury insurance. Mark Ellis is rookie meltdown prevention insurance with Kolten Wong taking over the reins at second base. Jay is going to have a hard time finding at-bats unless he discovers some new defensive ability.
- Thank you, T.J. Oshie, for slashing away at the Russian express in the Olympics. Oshie did a lot more than sink some pucks in a shootout: I have a feeling the “Oshie in Sochi” sensation destroyed the Russians’ morale and paved the way for their loss today against Finland. Coming into the Games with monstrous expectations, Russia didn’t see the Oshie Express coming and got cut in half. Oshie didn’t just perform amazingly in the shootout, say the right things about heroes, and earn an additional 160,000 Twitter followers in a matter of days, I think he handed the Russian hockey team a full-on case of depression. Good for the Americans, the St. Louis Blues and the tournament overall.
- Let’s not forget about David Backes and his efforts. The man doesn’t go anywhere without making an attempt to change a team and affect the environment he is in. He scored his third goal today against the Czech Republic and shut down their best player, Jaromir Jagr. Backes has three goals, one assist for the Games and consistently changes the other team’s complexion every time he hits the ice. It isn’t always about goals and assists in hockey, it’s about the rugged intangibles: inspiring your team to do better, pushing your teammates and setting an example. Backes is the perfect captain because he looks the part and works his ass off to prove it to others. Every game is a chance to be a presence. Backes is also helping find a home for abandoned dogs in Sochi when he isn’t dominating on the ice.
- Thank you, Rick Majerus. I am not a huge college sports fan but I appreciate the effect this man had on St. Louis Billikens basketball. When he came here, the team was in shambles and not faring so well. His hard work, maturation, belief in the school and fearless personality turned this team into something the entire NCAA tournament field will have to worry about. Nice job, Rick. Everyone should remember this guy by devouring some barbecue because that is what the man loved. Food, life, basketball and making everything around him better. (Editor’s note: Rick Majerus died of heart failure. We recommend healthy eating at all times, including celebrations of coaches.) (Writer’s note: Eating barbecue in moderation, as in once a year to celebrate a man’s passion for life, isn’t going to end any lives.)
- Every Cardinal fan who claims to hate Robinson Cano’s lack of hustle on groundouts can feel very good knowing their high paid outfielder, Matt Holliday, sprints down the line every time no matter what. Holliday hustles the most on the team. Pure, true grit.
- The Rams have two picks in the NFL draft’s first round. #2 and #13. Unless there is a great deal to be made, I wouldn’t trade down. Keep your picks, get the best players available and improve your team. Sure, it’s a deep draft. Then again, the Rams have other picks in the preceding rounds and can do something then. I hope they take a long hard look at Sammy Watkins, one of the hottest receivers in the draft. We all know Tavon Austin didn’t exactly blow the minds of Rams fans last year, but he was still impressive in his first season with 2 different quarterbacks. Austin was a big-time high draft pick by the Rams. Do they do it again with Watkins a year later? If he is as good as they say and could team up with Austin and make the offense more dynamic, pull the trigger. Every pick is a toss-up so consider everything a probable outcome. I trust certain football minds and they all say Watkins could kill it in the NFL.
- Despite all the scares and rumors going around, everybody in L.A., including the Los Angeles Times sports writers, think there is little to no chance of an NFL team coming back to town. In the end, my wise words are that St. Louis will put up the money to improve the Edward Jones Dome or work with Stan Kroenke to build a new stadium. All signs point to this happening, and with the team’s improving attendance (no local blackouts in 2013) and stature in the NFL, things are only going to improve. This is my genuine feeling about the situation. Stan doesn’t say a lot but if you do your homework, you will know this. Cities rarely want old departed football teams back and the NFL isn’t in favor of it either. Expansion teams mean more money and revenue all around. The Rams are here to stay in St. Louis.
- Rams fans, remember when Jeff Fisher came to St. Louis two years ago and flatly said, “I love Sam Bradford at quarterback, and that is a huge reason why I am here”? He wasn’t lying. Fisher loves Sam and his ability to help turn this football team around and the stats are there to support it. Since the middle of Fisher’s first season (starting with the ninth game), the offense has been better overall, in the red zone and generally scoring points. Bradford was putting together a superb season before his injury last year and was doing so without a set running attack. Stop talking about not bringing back Sam in 2015 or possibly not extending his contract. Unless he bombs in 2014, which I don’t expect to happen, Sam Bradford is the Rams number one quarterback. Look at his stats and not the team’s play. He is only one man and can only control so much. Blaming Bradford for the Rams’ scuffling ways would be almost as illogical as blaming Steven Jackson for the many losing seasons.
That’s all I got. I can’t wait to watch the United States Of America’s hockey team take on Sidney Crosby and fellow Blues Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester in the semifinals game on Friday at 11 a.m. Central Time. Book it folks. A gold medal for the American team could create a unique set of thrills here back home.
Thanks for reading this bullet round. I hope you enjoyed it.