The Cubs Fan’s Guide To Happiness by George Ellis (2014)

Cubs Fan's Guide to Happiness

The Cubs Fan’s Guide To Happiness
by George Ellis
Triumph Books, 2014
224 pages

One might expect this to be the shortest book ever written. Or a book full of blank pages. But no, author George Ellis exercises his wit to entertain readers—especially non-Cubs fans. While the author claims to be a Cubs fan, the jabs he takes against his own kind are relentless and hilarious.

This is a “revised and updated version” of the book originally published in 2007. With the addition of Theo Epstein to the Cubs’ front office, Ellis thought it appropriate to include the man who turned around the Red Sox franchise. After all, if anyone could turn this team around, it’s the brilliant mind of Epstein. He hasn’t done it yet, but there’s always next year.

Seriously, The Cubs Fan’s Guide To Happiness is sure to bring a smile to any baseball fan’s face.

Learn more about Triumph Books.

Purchase The Cubs Fan’s Guide to Happiness by George Ellis.

Krokus – Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust (2014)

Krokus Long Stick Goes Boom album review

Krokus
Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust
The End Records, 2014
70 minutes

Perhaps one of the most underappreciated bands in hard rock, Krokus consistently produces quality fresh music embracing a heritage largely ignored by other bands that came to prominence in the 1980s. With seventeen studio albums now behind them, each better than the last and 2013’s Dirty Dynamite one of the best of any band that year, Krokus refuses to rest on past accomplishments. The latest offering to ravenous metal fans is Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust. While I generally do not like live albums, Krokus does it right with a mixture of old and new, purposely avoiding some of those moderate hits that have already been heard on other live releases.

History has not been erased; the title track comes from 1982’s One Vice at a Time, and there are four tracks from the 1980 Metal Rendez-Vous. However, all but one of the band’s moderate hits are absent: “Midnite Maniac,” “Stayed Awake All Night,” and “Eat the Rich.” Only “Screaming in the Night” makes the cut. In place of the more well known songs are recent cuts, including two full songs from Dirty Dynamite and another two worked into a medley with “Rock City.” 2010’s Hoodoo is represented by “Hoodoo Woman,” as is the title track from 2006’s Hellraiser. It is refreshing to see a band continue to play songs from recent releases, even when not actively promoting those records anymore.

This is the way it should be done. No, Krokus doesn’t have a plethora of hits like Motley Crue or Poison, but all the same the band does not feel the need to use even their minor hits as crutches as they grow older. Krokus continues to make new quality music, something that the Crue struggles with and Poison refuses to do. Krokus is living for today and for tomorrow, while other bands from the era are content to live in the past, robbing fans of the pleasure of hearing something new in the present.

Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust is a record that should be purchased by die-hard fans of hard rock, and enjoyed at maximum volume. Marc Storace scatters a few curse words here and there, but not as many as you would hear from Bret Michaels or Vince Neil on a live album. The production of the album is perfect, and the performance by the band is spot-on. Vocally, Storace still brings it. One could complain about the songs that are omitted, but that defeats the purpose of continuing to make music in the twenty-first century, especially since those songs are available or prior live releases. Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust is a perfect addition to the Krokus discography.

Tracklisting:
1. Long Stick Goes Boom
2. Hallelujah Rock ‘n’ Roll
3. Go Baby Go
4. American Woman
5. Tokyo Nights
6. Fire
7. Rock City / Better Than Sex / Dog Song
8. Screaming In The Night
9. Hellraiser
10. Bedside Radio
11. Easy Rocker
12. Heatstrokes
13. Live For The Action
14. Hoodoo Woman

Learn more about The End Records.

Learn more about Krokus.

Purchase Krokus – Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust.

Get The Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World by Denny Somach (2014)

Get The Led Out Denny Somach Led Zeppelin Book Review

Get The Led Out:
How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World

by Denny Somach
Sterling, 2014
256 pages

So much has been written about Led Zeppelin since the group disbanded, it is difficult to imagine anything more could be said. Yet Denny Somach has put together an informative guide of Zeppelin’s touring itinerary, interviews with those who knew the band and all four members themselves, and a record-by-record breakdown of Zepplin’s discography in Get The Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World. Filled with images of ticket stubs and concert bills along with a number of illustrations by the legendary Ioannis specifically commissioned for this book, there is little lacking from Somach’s tome to the greatest rock and roll band in history.

Of special note is the interview with Mick Wall, the author of 2008’s When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. It is clear that Wall is a fan, yet refuses to pull any punches. His treatment of the group’s musical influences and Jimmy Page’s appropriation (or outright theft) of songs from other artists is blunt but truthful. Also interesting is Robert Plant’s interview, conducted in 1982 after the release of his debut solo album.

Originally published in 2012, this new printing of Get The Led Out is a wonderful addition to any classic rock lover’s library.

Learn more about Sterling.

Purchase Get the Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World by Denny Somach.

R.I.P. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

(May 6, 1937 – April 20, 2014)

Hurricane

Boxer who was wrongly convicted of murder, inspiring a Bob Dylan song, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter succumbed to prostate cancer on Sunday.

R.I.P. Bill Blair

(October 17, 1921 – April 20, 2014)

Blair

Negro League pitcher who played for the Indianapolis Clowns, Cincinnati Crescents, and Dallas Black Giants, Bill Blair passed away Sunday. During World War II, he was the youngest African American to serve as a first sergeant in the Army.

Random Awesomeness (part 162)

Random Awesomeness

Cards in the mail from THE Tim Wallach fan

Robinson

Whenever I come across a Tim Wallach baseball card, I know what to do with it. No, not throw it away. Just because it’s not “worth anything” to me, doesn’t mean it’s not worth something to someone else…especially this guy. I’ve sent Mr. Stackhouse a few PWEs and he’s good about sending some Reds back my way, even though I never ask for them. (Speaking of sending cards out, I need to get rid of a few more non-Wallach cards. See the bottom of the post for info on how you can help out.)

Bench

This package was full of awesome Reds cards that I didn’t have, including three Johnny Bench issues. One was an insert from the current Topps release, 50 Years of the Draft.

Votto

These red-bordered cards look really good with Reds players on them, especially Reds players who might end up in the Hall of Fame someday like Joey Votto. Maybe they don’t work for the Padres or Giants, but they absolutely do work for red-themed teams. Perhaps Topps should consider using team colors instead of a white border in the future?

Cueto

Alright, so the colored borders don’t always work. 1964 isn’t supposed to look like this. But I always enjoy adding Johnny Cueto cards to my collection.

Bruce

This Jay Bruce is the first of the 1971 minis I have received. I really like them, and the smaller size doesn’t bother me at all like it does other bloggers.

There were a lot of other great cards in the package, from Jack Hannahan to Eric Davis to Chris Sabo to Dave Parker. Thanks for the cards, Mr. Stackhouse!

Now for sending out other non-Wallach cards, if you would like to be added to my list of bloggers to send stuff to, drop me an e-mail with your favorite team and/or player and your address. As finances allow, I would like to start to whittle down my non-Reds collection via PWE send-outs. Even if you think you’re already on my list, send me your details again just to be sure. I won’t mind.

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley

Minnesota Twins Baseball book review

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie
by Stew Thornley
The History Press, 2014
128 pages

There are certain names that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the Minnesota Twins: Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer. The franchise’s history reaches much deeper than its Hall of Famers, though. Before the Twins came to town, Minnesotans were entertained by Ollie Bejma of the St. Paul Saints and Willie Mays of the Minneapolis Millers, and the franchise that eventually became the Twins had its own roster of greats, most notably Walter Johnson. After fifty years in Minnesota, however, the Twins no longer have to rely on those stories to thrill baseball fans. They have their own.

Author Stew Thornley has done an excellent job of tracing the Twins’ roots in Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. Recalling anecdotes of Killebrew and Vic Power, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry, and more recently Mauer and Justin Morneau, the author presents an informative look into this underappreciated franchise. While the chapters are packed with details, the most entertaining part of this book are the asides about the All-Star Games, in-season exhibition matches, and the pine tar incident that occurred years before George Brett’s infamous blow-up.

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie is a nice primer at only 128 pages to help one start to learn about the Twins baseball club.

Learn more about The History Press.

Purchase Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley.

The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac (2014)

Jack Kerouac The Haunted Life book review

The Haunted Life and Other Writings
by Jack Kerouac
Da Capo Press, 2014
208 pages

The long-lost story written by the late Beat Generation legend Jack Kerouac finally sees the light of day thanks to the vision of editor Todd F. Tietchen and Da Capo Press. The work was lost in 1944 and did not reappear for nearly 60 years when it was sold at auction. The Haunted Life was written during Kerouac’s formative years, when the author had not yet fully found his voice, and as such it suffers in comparison to his later writings.

The novella is incomplete; that should be kept in mind when reading. Even so, there are moments of pretension that surely would have been edited in later drafts had the manuscript not been misplaced. Kerouac once asserted that he had left it in the backseat of a taxicab in New York; it is more likely that it was lost in Allen Ginsberg’s dorm room at Columbia, later discovered by another resident, though never returned to Kerouac. When one finishes reading The Haunted Life, there is the desire for more, but not in the sense of craving it; rather, there is that absence of completion that haunts the book itself.

The story is easy enough to understand and follow, and the dialogue flows naturally even if the pretension distracts at times. If only Kerouac had finished it, edited it, and given it more meat. The “Other Writings” refer to preparatory notes made for The Haunted Life, as well as essays written by Kerouac about his later work, The Town and the City. Also included are letters written between Jack and his father, Leo Kerouac.

While it is a treat to see such an early work by one of America’s truly great writers, The Haunted Life and Other Writings is not an essential addition to one’s personal library. It is frankly more of a curiosity that a literary gem.

Learn more about Da Capo Press.

Purchase The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac.

Baseball Road Trips: The Midwest and Great Lakes by Timothy M. Mullin (2014)

Baseball Road Trips

Baseball Road Trips: The Midwest and Great Lakes
by Timothy M. Mullin
Triumph Books, 2014
224 pages

As a teenager, my dad took me to a lot of baseball games for summer vacation. That’s the way I preferred it; I wasn’t much of a beach bum. We visited several major and minor league parks within reasonable driving distance from the Cincinnati area, from Chicago to Boston. Alright, so Boston might not have been considered reasonable by some, but for a Fenway visit? Definitely reasonable. It was not difficult to figure out the schedule; we just had to write the team ahead of time and request one. This was before the days of the internet and looking up the website or even e-mailing a team representative. But for other activities in the area, we were on our own to figure out.

That’s where a guide similar to Timothy M. Mullin’s Baseball Road Trips: The Midwest and Great Lakes could have come in handy. The book covers nine states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. All the major league and minor league stadiums are profiled, complete with quirks at the concessions, advice on parking, and even general safety tips in the surrounding area. Brief profiles are given for other baseball attractions, such as the Field of Dreams movie site, the Louisville Slugger Museum, and even Chicago cemeteries where Hall of Famers such as Ray Schalk and Kenesaw Mountain Landis are buried. Hotel options are listed, as well as local restaurants for those who want to taste the city they are visiting.

As a frequent attendee of Reds games at Great American Ballpark, I was curious to see what Mullin had to write about my hometown team. While he seems more critical of Cincinnati than other cities, I cannot disagree with much of what he writes. However, I must take issue with his advice when it comes to the Reds Hall of Fame. Mullin says, “Don’t go,” but how can you skip the historical significance that is found inside? True baseball fans need to experience as much of the team as possible, especially when visiting for a short time during a road trip. While it is true that the Reds have many inductees, the room that houses those plaques is a very small part of the museum itself. There are rotating exhibits and interactive displays as well as beautiful statues located throughout the museum. To skip this part of Reds baseball is to miss out on what makes baseball so important to Cincinnatians.

Mullin’s book is useful, to be sure, and I intend to use it when making a trek to Chicago (and maybe Milwaukee or St. Louis) later this year. But I will think twice before skipping any baseball-related activities on the author’s suggestion.

Learn more about Triumph Books.

Purchase Baseball Road Trips: The Midwest and Great Lakes by Timothy M. Mullin.

Fun Cards Submission: “Red Surge” Joey Votto

Red Surge Votto

If you missed Joey Votto‘s appearance on “Intentional Talk” last week, you missed a rare treat. The aloof first baseman actually provided a bit of Canadian-style comedy. I’ve never seen that side of Votto, but I hope he does share his strange humor with us more in the future. TWJ contributor Patrick created a “fun card” to commemorate Votto’s first foray into stand-up comedy.

Of course, thanks to YouTube, even if you missed it last week you can still watch it…

Vacation is over

I spent an enjoyable week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with my family last week. The kids swam, my wife and I watched the sunrise, and all of us enjoyed trying new restaurants not available to us at home. That is my rule about vacations: we don’t eat McDonalds or Dominos or any other restaurant that we have easy access to in the Cincinnati area. Our dining experiences included the Hard Rock Café and Fuddruckers, but also Prosser’s BBQ and 2 Goombas Pizza and Brother Shuckers Fish House and Gino’s Real New York Pizza. It was fun dining in these strange establishments, nibbling on familiar foods in unfamiliar places, with slightly different recipes or presentations or atmospheres.

By the way, the next time you’re in Myrtle Beach, if you don’t try anything else, you need to eat at Brother Shuckers.

Brother Shuckers Fish House Myrtle Beach South Carolina

Vacation ended Sunday with a long drive home made longer by a jackknifed tractor trailer. The kids had to be back for school on Monday; I still had two more days before work slapped me in the face again. And now, only a few days after pulling into the driveway, we’re back into our routine of waking up, taking the kids to school, and going about our boring, humdrum, mediocre activities.

Fifty-two weeks in a year, and only a few of those weeks are reserved for vacation; relaxing and recharging and revisiting what I miss about being young: lack of responsibility. Of course, the responsibility is still there, just waiting for you to come back to it, but for that one (or two, or if you’re really fortunate three) week(s), there is nothing holding you back from having fun (except for the predetermined spending limit).

So for fifty-one (or fifty, or if you’re really fortunate forty-nine) weeks, we work for that short time of pleasure. Sure, there are days off during those fiftyish weeks. There are long weekends, and holidays, and the like. But that’s not really enough time to truly get away from it all, and even if it was, who has the money for it?

I envy authors who are sent on book tours, though I’m sure if I was a published author I would dread those book tours. I love visiting different cities. They don’t even have to be exotic. Just different, away-from-Cincinnati cities. But I’m not a big fan of personal appearances, even on the audience side. I suppose I’m a bit shy and just feel out of place, like why should I be going to see this author or ballplayer or musician or whoever it might be? He’s just a person, like me (albeit with much greater talents than I possess). Sometimes I’m embarrassed to ask for an autograph or to ask a question. And then I imagine how I would feel in their place…why on earth would people want to sit and listen to me talk or ask me a question or get my autograph? And so the book tour part of it is not so appealing, but the traveling certainly is.

I would love to quit my “day job” (which is actually a night job) and just travel, crashing on people’s couches and eating at different restaurants and visiting off-the-wall museums and just living life. Because I don’t really feel alive while I’m at work, or even on the days between work. On those days in between, I’m just dreading the next day that I do have to work, so there’s still no living being done.

Is it a rut? Is it boredom? I’m not really sure. One thing is for sure: vacation is over.

R.I.P. The Ultimate Warrior

(June 16, 1959 – April 8, 2014)

Ultimate Warrior

Former WWF Champion and one of the newest members of the WWE Hall of Fame, The Ultimate Warrior passed away yesterday. He had just been inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame Saturday night, and made an appearance on Wrestlemania XXX the next day and Raw on Monday. He collapsed while walking to his car with his wife outside an Arizona hotel Tuesday night. The cause of death has not been announced.

Baseball cards on vacation?

I’m a baseball card junkie, I’ll admit it. But I don’t like the shiny, nor do I go nuts over the latest certified autographs or “can’t miss” prospects. I’m all about the cheap stuff featuring players I like and guys from the Reds. If I can buy it for under a buck, I might be interested.

Last week in Myrtle Beach, I stopped at a card shop called Baseball 17. As soon as I walked in, I knew I would be spending a bit of time there. It was just like the baseball card shops I grew up with…boxes upon boxes of cheap cards, 25 cents each or five for a dollar. Other boxes boasted, “Stars 50 cents!” I immediately dove in to a box, and started pulling Reds.

I’m not talking about 2013 Topps or 2014 Heritage. I’m talking old-school…1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s. Five for a dollar! Barry Larkin, Ken Hunt, Don Blasingame, Leon Wagner. Here’s a sample of just a few of the Reds I picked out…

Hunt 1962 Topps

Hunt 1962 Post

Larkin 1992 Fleer

But I didn’t stop with Reds. I found a 1979 George Brett, a 1975 Rangers team card with Billy Martin, and this sweet 1976 3-D Super Stars Dave Parker

Parker

I also spied a 1989 Broders Rookies Ken Griffey card. I have a couple of the 1988 sets, but had never seen a 1989 series before…

Griffey

You just can’t beat that, can you?

Actually, yes you can. This card, featuring three Hall of Famers, set me back twenty cents…

Gibson Marichal Jenkins

Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, and Fergie Jenkins…on a 1969 Topps card…for twenty cents. I always get a bit jealous of card bloggers who stumble on deals like this.

I also visited the “Stars for 50 cents!” box, and pulled a couple more Gibsons…1969 and 1975.

1969 Gibson

1975 Gibson

I remember the 1975 Gibson card from my grandmother’s house. She had a nice stack of 1975 cards, not sure who they belonged to but I was never allowed to ask if I could keep them. I recall looking at those cards, and I remember seeing the Gibson in that stack. I probably had no idea who he was at the time, but I always liked the card anyway.

The 1969 card has an amusing cartoon on the back, highlighting one of Gibby’s many extraordinary feats from the 1968 season…

Gibson 1969

I had a great time in Myrtle Beach, and Baseball 17 made it even better. I only dropped about $10 there in two visits, but it was great reliving the memories of the card shops of my youth. I can’t wait to go back next year and see what else I can find in the bargain bins.

Random Awesomeness (part 161)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Kongos – Lunatic.

Photoset: Myrtle Beach Pelicans vs. Salem Red Sox (April 4, 2014 @ TicketReturn.com Field, Myrtle Beach SC)

The tickets

The family vacation was last week, and of course I took my camera with me. I didn’t catch any concerts (the asking price for Weezer at the House of Blues was just a little too rich for my blood), but we did stop in to see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans play on Friday night. The Pelicans are currently the Class A Advanced team for the Texas Rangers.

Buckel Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Cody Buckel (above) started the game for the Pelicans, while William Cuevas (below) took the mound for the visiting Salem Red Sox. Buckel only allowed one hit in four innings, but was wild and walked four. Cuevas, on the other hand, allowed six hits but didn’t issue any free passes.

Cuevas Salem Red Sox

One of the big prospects for the Pelicans is catcher Jorge Alfaro, a 20-year old from Colombia who was #41 on the Baseball Prospectus pre-season list. He hit 18 home runs in 2013, went 1-for-4 Friday night against the Sox, and looked comfortable on defense behind the plate. I snapped several photos of Alfaro on offense and defense:

Jorge  Alfaro Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Jorge  Alfaro Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Jorge  Alfaro Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Jorge  Alfaro Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The catcher for the Salem Red Sox is not ranked on any prospect lists. As a 24-year old in his seventh pro season, never playing about Class A Advanced, Carson Blair doesn’t turn many heads. He played well Friday, though, hitting a two-run blast off Cody Ege in the top of the 8th.

Carson  Blair Salem Red Sox

Carson  Blair Salem Red Sox

Carson  Blair Salem Red Sox

The Pelicans ended up losing the game 4-0, but we had a great time watching this young team battle. We had great seats, too…front row, directly behind home plate. I certainly plan to visit the Pelicans again next time we vacation in Myrtle Beach.

Kela Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Keone Kela

Garia Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Chris Garia

Bostick bunting Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Christopher Bostick

R.I.P. Mickey Rooney

(September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

Mickey Rooney

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: KISS edition

KISS Ultimate Mixtape

As the Rock Hall of Fame induction approaches in which KISS will take its proper place among the immortals, I thought it would be fitting to offer up the best the band has to offer in the form of “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape.” But this is no ordinary mixtape…there are rules.

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • Live albums are a waste of time. Obviously, the first two live albums by KISS were epic, as was MTV Unplugged. But all the other live records by this band are superfluous.

Make sense? Hit play on the video, and scroll through my selections…

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: KISS edition…
“Deuce” (KISS, 1974)
“Comin’ Home” (Hotter Than Hell, 1974)
“She” (Dressed to Kill, 1975)
“Rock and Roll All Nite” (Alive!, 1975)
“Detroit Rock City” (Destroyer, 1976)
“I Want You” (Rock & Roll Over, 1976)
“Shock Me” (Love Gun, 1977)
“Love Gun” (Alive II, 1977)
“Speedin’ Back To My Baby” (Ace Frehley, 1978)
“Hooked On Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Peter Criss, 1978)
“Radioactive” (Gene Simmons, 1978)
“Tonight You Belong To Me” (Paul Stanley, 1978)
“I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (Dynasty, 1979)
“Two Sides of the Coin” (Unmasked, 1980)
“A World Without Heroes” (Music From “The Elder,” 1981)
“I Still Love You” (Creatures of the Night, 1982)
“Lick It Up” (Lick It Up, 1983)
“Under The Gun” (Animalize, 1984)
“Tears Are Falling” (Asylum, 1985)
“Thief in the Night” (Crazy Nights, 1987)
“Hide Your Heart” (Hot in the Shade, 1989)
“Domino” (Revenge, 1992)
“Beth” (MTV Unplugged, 1996)
“Jungle” (Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions, 1997)
“You Wanted The Best” (Psycho Circus, 1998)
“When Lightning Strikes” (Sonic Boom, 2009)
“Back to the Stone Age” (Monster, 2012)

And now for the bonus tracks, featuring side projects, solo projects, and post-KISS projects…

Bonus Tracks:
White Tiger “Live To Rock” (White Tiger, 1986)
Ace Frehley “We Got Your Rock” (Frehley’s Comet, 1987)
Vinnie Vincent Invasion “Let Freedom Rock” (All Systems Go, 1988)
Badlands (with Eric Singer) “Dreams in the Dark” (Badlands, 1989)
Dudes of Wrath (with Stanley) “Shocker” (Shocker, 1989)
Peter Criss (with Frehley) “Walk the Line” (Cat #1, 1994)
Union (with Bruce Kulick) “Old Man Wise” (Union, 1998)
Richie Scarlet (with Frehley) “Too Far Gone” (The Insanity Of Life, 2002)
KISS “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” (We’re a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones, 2003)
Paul Stanley “Live To Win” (Live to Win, 2006)
Alice Cooper (with Eric Singer) “The One That Got Away” (Along Came A Spider, 2008)

Celebrate KISS and the upcoming Rock Hall induction, Rock and Roll All Nite!

Remember Wilbur Wood?

Sports Illustrated Wood

When you ask a Chicagoan about the pitcher named Wood, they might tell you about the All-Star ace for the Cubs, Travis Wood. Or the pitcher who showed so much potential in 1998, Kerry Wood. But how many remember the guy from the south side, Wilbur Wood?

His career line is not phenomenal: 164-156, 3.24 ERA, 1411 K, 52.1 WAR. But when you look at some of Wood’s individual seasons, particularly 1971-1973, the knuckleballer seemed to be destined for greatness. True, he was already 29 years old and had spent most of his career in the bullpen, but once he was moved to the starting rotation, he was dominant on the mound.

In 1971, Wood amassed 11.7 WAR, the 35th highest single season total for a pitcher, and the same as Pedro Martinez’s highest single season total. Wood won 22 games that season with a 1.91 ERA, but finished 3rd in Cy Young voting behind Vida Blue and Mickey Lolich.

Wood followed with an equally impressive 1972 campaign, leading the league in wins with 24 and racking up 10.7 WAR. Gaylord Perry was the only pitcher with a higher WAR that year. Again Wood lost out on the Cy Young Award, this time to the future Hall of Fame spitballer.

Wood won 24 games again in 1973, though his ERA went up to 3.46 and WAR dropped to 7.5. Twice in 1973 Wood pitched both games of a doubleheader, an amazing feat and one that is unlikely to ever be replicated.

Wood saw his fourth consecutive 20-win season in 1974. The next season was a disappointment as his record fell to 16-20 with a 4.11 ERA.

A freak accident ended Wood’s 1976 season early when Ron LeFlore hit a line drive up the middle and shattered the pitcher’s kneecap. At the time of the injury, Wood was 4-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 162 ERA+. He came back the next year, but was not his former self. He limped through 1977 and 1978 with an ERA around 5.00, pitching his last big league game August 22, 1978.

The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions by George Cantor (2014)

The Tigers of 68 George Cantor

The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions
by George Cantor
Taylor Trade Publishing, 2014
240 pages

Every franchise has that special season that is forever ingrained in the minds of the fans. For the Detroit Tigers, that season was 1968. Journalist George Cantor, who covered the team for Detroit Free Press, brought the season back to life in his 1997 book The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions, recently reprinted in paperback by Taylor Trade Publishing.

The late Cantor entertains readers with interviews and profiles of the team’s biggest stars: hometown hero Willie Horton, former convict Gates Brown, and thirty-game winner Denny McLain. The book begins at the end of the disappointing 1967 season and the riots that marred the city, but quickly turns to the hope of spring 1968 and the magic of the season, including the memories of the players themselves collected many years later.

The Tigers of ’68 is an entertaining book and offers a glimpse into one of the great championship teams in baseball history.

Learn more about Taylor Trade Publishing.

Purchase The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions by George Cantor.

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