Buffa’s Buffet: Cardinals, Space Jam 2 and chicken sandwiches


Welcome back to the land of hot summers, painful lawn work, and hard-to-please baseball fans. There’s a lot to discuss but I trimmed it down from 55 to 5 things. Topics are in BOLD.

And it’s true. St. Louis Cardinals fans aren’t easy to please. If you checked Twitter, one would think the record read 45-85 instead of 46-47. But for a team that plants a gigantic World Series trophy like a Christmas ornament in their Ballpark Village: Phase 2 area, expectations never cease to exist. For a team with a payroll over $160 million (The Tampa Bay Rays’ 2021 payroll is a nice $69 million) who acquired Nolan Arenado over the winter, being below the .500 mark isn’t acceptable. Here’s the reality: even after the impressive series win over the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis is still nine games back of first place. Forget about two wildcard spots. The West already won them.

The Cubs are in town for a four-game set starting tonight at Busch Stadium. I wish the division showed Cards with a better record than Chicago but that’s not the case–so the home team will have to settle for revenge for last week’s split/rain-out disappointment. This series is huge. It’s July 19, but with the trade deadline in less than two weeks, this is the temperature check team owner Bill DeWitt Jr. will take before deciding on buying/selling. Use the S.F. series as a springboard, or tell fans that’s all you got. Get it together, highly-paid kids game players.

Speaking of which, a deplorable-looking tweet was released Monday afternoon.

Any fair-minded journalist will know there’s more to the story but after the despicable-looking meals that were reportedly being served to minor leaguers earlier this summer, this is the second round in the chamber of a nasty trend. Look, it’s one thing for the hotel to be overbooked; mid-summer isn’t an easy time to find a good hotel. But are the Cardinals front office ready to tell me there were no other neighborhood hotels? Sell it elsewhere. Minor leaguers are the connective tissue of every Major League team. Last year, the pandemic saw the league basically eliminate teams and condense the leagues. It’s about time teams stop treating young baseball players like disposable assets and more like human beings. The story always goes deeper. It’s just an ugly direction for one of the most respected franchises in the game. Legit “yikes” territory.

“Space Jam 2” was released over the weekend and apparently it’s illegal for film critics to trash the film. Here’s a 100% critic-proof release-Lebron James and Don Cheadle acting next to cartoon characters-and certain folks on Twitter are taking offense to the negative reviews. This happens with kids films often. It’s as if the popular notion is that a served-up-snowcone of a film can’t be harmed or else… what?! It’s not as if the cast and crew doesn’t get paid if the film doesn’t score a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As St. Louis Film Critics Association President, Jim Tudor, told me one time after leaving a rough animated film: “that’s our job at the end of the day. Film criticism.” The most important tool for a writer is honesty, and movie reviews are no different. King James will be okay counting his stacks of cash and Warner Brothers will smile at their happy meal going down easy at the box office. Next!

Bullying is one of my biggest pet peeves. It sits way above dirty dishes in the sink, long weeds in the summer, and people who run red lights only to stop at the next one. As a kid, I was bullied relentlessly for my stutter. I couldn’t get two sentences out without looking like Mark McGwire in front of Congress. When people ask me why I decided to start working out, I tell them it was to impress the ladies while I was trying to attach three words together in my mouth. It was terrible. I was mocked every day as a kid and it continued until that weight lifting thing started paying off. But even as I reached my 30th birthday, it was hard to keep up with people. Friends and even family on occasion would strangle away a laugh or mention it. It hurt every time, but I was one of the lucky ones. Some kids and teenagers go to drastic, even deadly, measures due to constant bullying. Name something more useless than bullying.

A new movie opening this week called “Joe Bell” (don’t look it up, trust me) and starring Mark Wahlberg, is about a dad walking across the country campaigning to stop bullying, something that afflicts his son in the film. I’m watching it tonight. You should make time for it this weekend when it opens in theaters. Positive messages, even the toughest ones for a parent, are worth pushing. Hopefully “Space Jam 2” fans understand.

Finally, let’s talk about the best fast food chicken sandwich in town. Can you guess it? Hint: I grew up loving the famous cartoon character who carried this name, but he ate cans of spinach instead. Popeyes has the best, pencils down, chicken sandwich. First off, the filet is huge every time I order it, which is every few weeks. Second, they don’t skimp on pickles. Third, the bread is toasted perfectly. Fourth, the sauce is just right and not 150% tangy. The star of the dish should be the protein and it is here. Don’t overlook the simple pleasures like a good sammy after a tough day at work.

You don’t need fries, strips. cole slaw, or even a biscuit. Don’t overdo it. All you need from this establishment is one classic chicken sandwich. And it’s good meat being used. Don’t immediately think fast means a vast distance between quality and garbage food. Just be more picky about it. Thank me later.

See you next week.