Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trade with "It's like having my own Card Shop"

A couple weeks ago Daniel posted this sweet Ernie Banks card on his blog, It's like having my own Card Shop:

I left him a comment that I would be interested in adding it to my collection if he would be willing to part with Ernie.  He agreed to my request and I sent him some Diamondbacks, which can be seen here.

I love my Cubs and Daniel tossed in a couple handfuls of some sweet Cub randomness.

Hee Sop Choi!  He was supposed to make everyone forget about Mark Grace.  Um, no.   If memory serves we were able to flip him to the Marlins for Derek Lee.

Antonio Alfonseca.  Nice!  He had the nickname of "El Pulpo," which is Spanish for octopus.  Why?  Well, he's a polydactyl pitcher and what other deserving nickname would you give a pitcher with six fingers on each hand?  I always thought that Alfonseca would be able to throw some filthy breaking pitches with the extra digit, but he pretty much threw just the fastball and he would occasionally mix in a change or a slider.

A shiny Henry Rodriguez.  Henry was a decent signing and provided some pop as a left fielder.  Who can forget the Oh Henry! chocolate bars that infrequently found their way to the playing field after he hit a homer?

 Turk Wendall.  I don't think I own this Turk Wendall card and he's one of my favorite middle relievers!  I loved Turk for all of the superstitious antics.  For example, he wouldn't start pitching an inning until the center fielder waved back to him.  Good stuff!

Shiny Brian McRae.  My camera didn't do this card justice: the entire border is mirror-like.  Topps Chrome is a product that I've never sank any amount of money into, but I really like the shininess. Interest in shiny objects is just one of many characteristics that Gus, my cat, and I share.

Jessie Hollins is a former Peoria Chief that made it to the majors with the Cubs.  Injuries derailed his career, but he could throw some serious smoke when he was healthy.

The above cards are just a small sampling that Daniel sent my way.  Thanks for a great trade!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cat Math

The junior girls softball season officially got under way last Monday.  After the first day of tryouts the other coach and I were opening up and putting away the new equipment.  As per usual when I run across cat-sized boxes, I snuck one. 

So, let's do a little math, because heck, I need to knock the rust off before I go back to teaching in a few weeks.

One box:

One window seat:


A cat in a box who won't move for nothin'.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gus.

Bobblehead Monday #10

Bobblehead #10
Inside of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Name: Buck O’Neil
Position: Manager
Team: Kansas City Monarchs
Description: 7.25 inches tall; standing with hands on a baseball bat.
Relevance: I visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Fame in January of 2008 with some friends after running the Groundhog Run in Kansas City.
How Acquired: I bought this bobblehead at the Negro League Baseball Museum.
Other Notes: Buck O’Neil was a great person and had a very interesting life in baseball.  He played fourteen seasons in the Negro Leagues, thirteen with the Kansas City Monarchs, and he took two years off for military service in the middle of his career to serve in World War II.  He later became the manager for the Monarchs and managed Ernie Banks before Ernie was the first black baseball player for the Cubs.  Soon thereafter, he transitioned to a position as a scout for the Cubs and he is credited for discovering Lou Brock.  O”Neil then became the first black coach in the major leagues.
During the later years of his life he played a pivotal role in the creation and opening of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.  He served on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee that was in charge of selecting Negro League players to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  At ninety-four years of age he was allowed to bat in the Northern League All-Star game in 2006, which effectively gave him the title of oldest person to bat in a professional baseball game.
Buck was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, MLB’s Beacon of Life Award, and MLB’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  He has a statue outside the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, and a red seat has been designated the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.  The Royals select an individual who best exemplifies O’Neil’s spirit to sit in the seat each game.
O'Neil Legacy Seat
Buck O’Neil has since passed on, but his pet project, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, has found new life after the MLB All-Star festivities in Kansas City this summer.  I would definitely recommend blocking out half of a day to spend roaming the museum and taking in the history.  It’s not nearly as large as the HOF in Cooperstown, but certainly worth the trip to Kansas City.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Trade Deadline, Twitter, and Watermelons

This has been a rough season for the Cubs, but understanding that this was to be a rebuilding season has made it much easier to be a fan.  Hey, they weren't supposed to be good this and they're not supposed to good next year either.  So, no pressure, right?  But behind the curtains Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been scheming and planning to position this club to make a push toward the top in the not so distant future. Or, so I thought.

Unfortunately, the trade deadline is almost upon us and the Cubs have not flipped any of their veterans for prospects.  Reed Johnson is hitting over 0.400 as a pinch hitter.  Jeff Baker is a pretty decent utility guy and mashes lefties.  Bryan LaHair made the All-Star team.  Paul Maholm has five wins in his last five starts.  Ryan Dempster has an ERA that is more than a run better than league average.  Matt Garza throws hard and has really weird facial hair.  Of the group, only Garza really has the projected sustainable talent to help the Cubs when the games could possibly matter again. 

Theo and Jed, pull the trigger already!

Meanwhile, the Cubs have pulled themselves out of last place in the division and are currently sitting at a record of 40 wins and 58 losses, which projects to 66 and 96 over the course of a full season. 

They are playing better as of late, except against the Redbirds.  Here's another reason I love Twitter, because it gives me baseball stats!  Sweeeeet!

Oh wait, that wasn't something to get excited about.  Why is it every time we play the Cardinals they seem to make our pitching staff look as though they're throwing watermelons to Gallagher?

Yeah, I went there.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things are a bit upside down.

The past week or so has been a bit of a whirlwind.  You know how "they" say that things always happen in threes?  Well, I think I just experienced that.

1.  A little over a week ago my wallet and camera were stolen.  Yuck, what a hassle.  You can imagine all the phone calls and running around that ensured as my entire identity was in that wallet.  A secondary consequence, and albeit much more minor consequence, was I could no longer take pictures.  I can't blog without pictures! 

2.  The electricity went out Tuesday night.  Well, call me pampered if you like, but that was a horrible night's sleep.  My grandfather tells me stories about sleeping on a fire escape in Chicago when he was younger.  I'm not sure how he managed, but another night without AC is not something I'm hoping for anytime soon.

3.  This morning I used my wife's car to jump mine so I could drive to softball practice.  Yes, junior high softball has started already.  Can you believe it?  Anyway, I tried to get the other coach to jump the car after practice so I could then round up a new battery.  Nope, no dice.  Libby (my car) wouldn't take the jump.  Two hours later I was back on the road.  Yuck.

As I said in the title, things have been turned a little bit upside down as of late.  But, that was the third inconvenient thing so now I'm in the clear.  Remember, this is coming from the guy who jumped over the third/first baseline to and from the dugout.  Call me superstitious or silly if you wish, but that's the way I operate.  So, again, I'm in the clear ... well, at least for a while.

I have new credit cards, a new camera, the electricity is working, and my car battery is now the cleanest object under the hood.  Woo-hoo!

How do I celebrate?  Let's turn some more things upside down!

Laura really has an eye for decorating and I like to lend a hand when I can.

 Close up:
Yep, that's a rocking chair hanging from out ceiling in the dining room.  Oh, and it's upside down.  Go figure.  That's what she wanted and that's what she got.

I'm glad things are back to normal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cardinals Double Cubs to Death

I went with some friends to the Cubs-Cardinals game this past Saturday with the hopes of seeing the Cubs, who were playing decent baseball, sneak out a victory against our fiercest rivals.  Nope, no such luck.
The game was moving along at a pretty fast clip until a major hiccup in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The score was 0 to 0 before the start of the inning, and the game was all but over after the inning.  The Cardinals tied a major league record with seven doubles in one inning and they tied a franchise record by scoring twelve runs in one inning.  My group stood and sarcastically clapped once the third out was recorded.  Oh, the horrors of being a Cubs fan stuck in Busch Stadium after the Cardinals put a twelve spot up on the board.  Actually, the heckling wasn't too bad.

A side note:  I took my sister to the game to celebrate her birthday.  Not only did she put up with the Cubs futility, but she also took the sophomoric shenanigans of my friends and I with grace.  Jane, I'll make it up to you!

We stayed until the bitter end.  My uncle, who was also attending the game with his son, John, offered to show us around the inside of Bush Stadium.  My Uncle Brian has a pretty sweet part time gig working in the control room at the stadium.  He does graphics for the jumbo-tron, pieces together highlight footage, and sometimes works a television camera.  Uncle Brian gave us a quick tour of his main workstation and a brief explanation of what he and his co-workers do during the game. 

Here's some of the pictures of myself and my friends/family in the control room.  (Thanks to Jane for the pictures!)

My sister, Jane, at the sound board.

Jim, captain of our slow-pitch softball team, at the microphone.

Jeff working over the organ.

 Craig editing film.  He's really excited!

Vince using binoculars to makes sure he's got the scoreboard right.

All the other cool jobs were already taken.  So, I just started unplugging cords and reinserting them elsewhere.  That'll teach those crazy Cardinals to beat up on my Cubs!  (Seriously though, no wires were unplugged and we all behaved ourselves on the tour.)

Thanks Uncle Brian and John for putting up with us and showing us some sweet St. Louis hospitality.  And Jane, Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #11

Bobblehead #11
Name: Paul Maholm
Position: Starting Pitcher
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Description: 7.25 inches tall; taking ball from glove in middle of pitching motion
Relevance:  In July of 2010 I was able to take in a game at scenic PNC Park with my good friend, Jeff.  We stayed in downtown Pittsburgh, walked across the Clemente Bridge, and were spoiled with freebies once we entered the park.  Free program, free scorecard, free pencil, free t-shirt, and a free bobblehead! 
How Acquired: I won this bobblehead by spinning a “Wheel of Fortune”-esque wheel on the concourse at the ballpark.  It landed on “bobblehead” and I was instantly psyched!  One less bobblehead to purchase for my stadium tour project! Woo-hoo!
Other Notes: Um, yeah, and PNC Park is now my favorite MLB stadium.  Sorry Wrigley Field, PNC has found a way to capture history, tradition, and amenities in the same useable space.
Bonus Note:  Paul Maholm is now a Chicago Cub, so this worked out really well in my eyes.  He’s thrown well this year, I follow him on Twitter, and he seems like a pretty decent guy.
Hopefully, Paul will help usher in a winning tradition at Wrigley Field. Good luck, Paul!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welcome to the hall, Ronnie!

Congrats to Ron Santo and his family on Ron's Baseball Hall-of-Fame induction today.  I'm too young to have ever seen Santo play, but I loved him in the radio booth. He was a great ambassador for the Cubs and JDRF.  It's too bad he's not here to enjoy his day in Cooperstown. 

Ron played on those great teams during the 1960's that had hall-of-famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Ferguson Jenkins.  Because of the radio ties and the connection that so many fans felt through them, including myself, Ron is my favorite Cub not named Ryne Sandberg.  Ron had a great sense of humor, could tell a good story, and seemed to genuinely be the biggest Cub fan of them all.  I loved him for that.

Let me leave you with my favorite quote from Ron when his number was retired by the Cubs:

"This flag hanging there down the left-field line means more to me than the Hall of Fame.  I'm so overwhelmed.  I can't tell you how much this means to me.  I don't care if I get into the Hall of Fame.  This is my Hall of Fame.  And I really mean it.  I can't explain it, but this is the ultimate."

(The card/art at the top of the page was given to me by dayf, a fellow blogger.  The backside of the card is pictured below.  Thanks, dayf!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #12

Bobblehead #12
Name: The Mariner Moose
Position: Mascot
Team: Seattle Mariners
Description: 6.75 inches tall; standing with arms outstretched.
Relevance: In June of 2009 Laura and I went to visit her sister in Seattle.  Unfortunately, the Mariners were out of town, but we were able to go on an hour-and-a-half long ballpark tour of Safeco for $9.  Yeah, my wife is pretty cool.
How Acquired: I won the Moose from an eBay auction.
Other Notes: I’ll be traveling to Seattle again in late September to visit a high school buddy.  This time I get to see the Mariners in action and hopefully the Mariner Moose!
For the record, I have never seen a moose in person.  Yeah, that would be pretty cool.