Author Archives: JT
As a kid, one of the most exciting stadium giveaways to me was baseball cards. I recall begging my dad to take me to the game so I could get a team set that was only available at the park. He didn’t always comply. The first year I got the team set was 1988, and it allowed me to add the first Chris Sabo card to my collection. We went again in 1989, missed 1990 for some reason, then went back in 1991. The ’91 cards are especially nice because they celebrate the 1990 World Championship. I did not get cards in 1992 or 1993, as I drifted away from the hobby. I own a set of 1994 Kahn’s cards, but I honestly cannot recall if I got them in 1994 or more recently.
I have been picking up sets here and there that I missed out on as a kid. I lucked out by finding the 1986 Texas Gold cards on eBay for about a buck; in this area they are generally $25-50. I have not yet found a 1987 set in my price range, and have not sought out the early 1990s sets. I went away to college in the fall of 1994 and did not return to Cincinnati until 2006, so I missed out on a lot of giveaways in that time. Flea markets, card shops, and card shows have filled a few holes in my collection.
Friday night, I picked up the 1996 set at Redsfest. There were several stars from the 1990 team, including World Series MVP Jose Rijo, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, Hal Morris and Joe Oliver. Davis, Sabo, and Oliver all left the Reds for a time, but came back to Cincinnati by 1996; this would be Sabo’s final year in the majors. There are other familiar names: Reggie Sanders (who was supposed to be the next Davis), Jeff Brantley (who is now an annoying broadcaster for the Reds), Bret Boone (an underachieving second baseman at the time), and Ray Knight as manager. It’s an intriguing look at a team mostly past its prime, with some youngsters full of promise. They were good enough to win the NL
West Central in 1995, and even good enough to triumph over the Dodgers in the NL Divisional Series. But no one had a chance against the Braves with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Sometimes I wonder if I would be a Reds fan today if I continued to follow the game in the mid-to-late 1990s.
I picked up two rack packs of 1983 Donruss last night at the Redsfest for $1 each. I thought surely they were just in the wrong place on the table, but no…$1 each. And with a Reggie Jackson Diamond King showing on top, how could I resist?
My oldest son and I braved the winter storm to attend Redsfest Friday night, and loaded up on autographs! I was able to obtain four players that I did not previously have, and got three more cards signed for my 1984 Topps Reds team set autograph project!
If you want to see the scans of the autographs and some photos from the event, click on through…
If there is a baffling name among the inductees for the 2014 Reds Hall of Fame, it is Ron Oester. Statistically, it doesn’t make sense. 1118 hits, 42 home runs, 344 runs batted in, and a .265 batting average in 13 seasons…Hall of Fame? Hardly. But Oester’s personality and contributions to the community told a different story. He was an ambassador for the game, a quietly consistent player on teams that included boisterous superstars such as Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Eric Davis, and Dave Parker. He visited sick children on his own time and brought smiles to their faces when there was really nothing to smile about. Ron Oester wasn’t a great player, but he was a great person.
(Custom Hall of Fame “fun card” by TWJ contributor Patrick.)
The 19th century/early 20th century player selected by the Veterans Committee, Jake Beckley was with the Reds at the turn of the century from 1897-1903. Nicknamed “Eagle Eye,” his batting average only dipped below .300 once with Cincinnati, and he had the second-most home runs in the National League in 1902 with five (not a typo). Beckley was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 via the Veterans Committee and is also a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame.
(Custom Hall of Fame “fun card” by TWJ contributor Patrick.)
This should really be a surprise to no one. Ken Griffey Jr., despite the injuries and diminishing performance, was one of the most popular players in Cincinnati history. Of course he was unable to match the amazing feats he accomplished during his first 11 years in Seattle, when he jacked 398 home runs with 1152 RBI. But 210 home runs in nine seasons is nothing to sneeze at. The Kid connected for his 400th, 500th, and 600th career home runs while wearing a Reds uniform and drove in 602 runs. Griffey was exciting to watch and brought hope to the Queen City; unfortunately his potential was greater than his output. But if anyone from that era besides Barry Larkin is deserving of Reds Hall of Fame honor, it is Ken Griffey Jr.
(Custom Hall of Fame “fun card” by TWJ contributor Patrick.)
Probably one of the shortest tenured players in the Reds Hall of Fame, Dave Parker only spent four seasons in Cincinnati. The Cobra is originally from the area, and after spending a decade in Pittsburgh, he came home to the Reds signing a free agent contract following the 1983 season. In his four years here, Parker launched 107 home runs and drove in 432 runs. In 1985 alone, Parker hit 42 round-trippers and drove in 125, batting .312 and slugging .551. He finished second in NL MVP voting behind Willie McGee. Cobra was traded following the 1987 season in a deal that brought another Reds Hall of Famer to town, 1990 World Series MVP Jose Rijo.
(Custom Hall of Fame “fun card” by TWJ contributor Patrick.)
In a three-way trade involved the Reds, Rays, and Diamondbacks, catcher Ryan Hanigan is headed for Tampa. What do the Reds get in return? David Holmberg, Diamondbacks prospect who pitched mostly in AA last year with a 2.75 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 157 1/3 innings. Is this a great trade for the Reds? Probably not, but it’s better than getting nothing for the aging catcher (33 years old). Holmberg is only 21 and has been compared to Terry Mulholland and David Wells, impressing Kirk Gibson and other Arizona coaches last spring. His AA pitching coach said, “He has a great feel for four pitches. He has good sink, excellent location and he carries himself like he’s never nervous, never fazed. He’s going to be a good, solid major league pitcher.”
The Reds are pretty crowded on the mound, so I don’t expect to see Holmberg in a significant role for Cincinnati for at least a year. But it’s always good to have some insurance in the minor leagues in the event of injury. Just look at what Tony Cingrani did for the Reds last year when Johnny Cueto went down.
While not a great trade that will have immediate positive impact, it does show that Walt Jocketty didn’t want to let Hanigan go for nothing.
Ryan Hanigan, one of my personal favorites, was just traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Possibly a part of a three-way deal, his is the only name that has been leaked to the press thus far.
Hanigan struggles with the bat, but is one of the best catchers in the game from the standpoint of calling a game and handling the pitchers. The Reds will miss his experience; hopefully he taught Devin Mesoraco plenty in the time they spent together. The signing of Brayan Pena a few weeks ago gave the team the freedom to deal Hanigan.
Inching closer and closer to a Runaways reunion, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie have recorded a new Christmas song for the 2013 season, “Rock This Christmas Down.” According to Currie, the song “has the flare of our Runaways legacy but its pure Lita. It rocks like only she can. We took a dim, negative and unfinished past and turned it into a positive future. It doesn’t get any better then that. I know this will be the best Christmas I have had in decades.”
Ford is excited about the new song as well. “I thought the world could use a new Christmas song. The song was Written by Mitch Perry, my guitarist and Michael Dan Ehmig, my lyricist, along with Marty O’Brien on bass, and Rodger Carter on drums. We so rocked it!
“What I didn’t know is that I’d be singing it as a duet with my long lost sister, Cherie Currie. I am blessed to have her back in my life, and what an appropriate time and song to rehash an old friendship. CHRISTMAS!!!
“Cherie hopped a plane from Chicago to L.A., and drove straight to the studio and threw down her vocal track on this rocking song! Needless to say, it was magic and history in the making.”
Of course, this isn’t Lita’s first Christmas song…she also appeared on Twisted Sister’s Twisted Christmas. What’s more Christmas than Dee Snider?
You Can Change Your Life
by Rob Yeung
Pan Macmillan, 2013
As the new year approaches, the minds of many turn to resolutions: breaking bad habits and making positive changes. By the time March rolls around, however, many of those resolutions have been broken. Year after year, resolution after resolution, failures mount. How can one stick to those personal promises and actually change his behavior? Author Rob Yeung offers what he calls “easy steps to getting what you want” in his latest book, You Can Change Your Life.
Even with “easy steps,” the journey to change is difficult. Yeung, a psychologist, acknowledges the difficulty, but argues that by changing one behavior at a time rather than tackling an entire list (as many attempt at the beginning of the year), success is more likely. Yeung presents several studies, self-tests, and other helps to guide the reader towards the change he desires. Included after the main text is “The Change Manifesto” and “Motivation Toolkit” to help one stay on track.
If you are serious about making a resolutions that stick, implementing the suggestions in Yeung’s You Can Change Your Life could help immensely.
…in case you haven’t heard. Yesterday was the phenomenal “Day of the Doctor” special with both Matt Smith (the current incarnation of the character) and David Tennant (the tenth incarnation). I haven’t seen it yet. But I know it’s phenomenal because it’s Doctor Who.
I actually haven’t seen any of the seventh season so far, but I can’t wait to get caught up. Smith is not my favorite Doctor, but I have come to appreciate him more over the past couple of years. I never liked River Song, but the way that played out was quite nice.
One of the great things about the BBC is that they aren’t afraid to spoof themselves from time to time, as evidenced in “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot,” starring several former versions of the Doctor. It can be watched right here on BBC One’s website.
Happy anniversary, Doctor Who…here’s hoping there will be fifty more!
Doctor Who: A History
by Alan Kistler
Lyons Press, 2013
Fifty years is a long time, especially when it comes to television. For a program to last that long—through changes in cast and culture—is quite a feat. Doctor Who debuted in November, 1963, and enjoys more popularity now—fifty years later—than ever before. Children and adults adore the program, and it is finally more than just a cult hit in America.
Comic book historian Alan Kistler examines the classic British program from its very genesis, including the original pitch and evolution of the premise and characters. Each of the first eleven personalities to take on the role of The Doctor are profiled, with background information on the actors and the mannerisms they brought to the role. Special attention is given to the companions and other supporting characters, and of course the TARDIS. The behind-the-scenes players, from Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert to Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, are given their proper due.
From beginning to end, this is a comprehensive look at one of the most beloved television shows in history. Any fan will absolutely love Doctor Who: A History.
Seriously, did anyone see that one coming?
Prince Fielder, slugger extraordinaire, is now a member of the Texas Rangers. Ian Kinsler, one of the most underrated second basemen in the majors, is headed to the Motor City. Jurickson Profar is the likely replacement for Kinsler (unless they pull off another major deal and sign Robinson Cano), while Miguel Cabrera will probably move from third base back to first in Detroit.
What do you think? Did Texas get a steal, or will Kinsler prove to be more valuable to the Tigers than Prince was?
I can’t wait to see The Shlabotnik Report‘s “Hot Stove” customs of Fielder and Kinsler.
- Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive? Legendary Prankster Faked His Own Death, Says Brother And Alleged ‘Daughter’ [International Business Times]
- How To (and How Not To) Audition for ‘Star Wars’ [Yahoo! Movies]
- When Great Isn’t Good Enough [Redleg Nation]
- Choose Your Own Adventure… Fleer [The Baseball Card Blog]
- “Hot Stove” Custom – Brayan Peña Signs With The Reds [The Shlabotnik Report]
- Awesome night card, pt. 198 [Night Owl Cards]
- Creative Parents Bring Their Kids’ Dinosaur Toys to Life at Night [FearNet]
In case you missed it, the final three innings of Jim Maloney‘s 1965 no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs surfaced on YouTube at the end of last week.
What a great video showcasing a historic moment in Reds history!
Maloney made 30 or more appearances each season from 1963-1969. In that 7-year span, his record was 117-60 and had an ERA of 2.90. If you’re into the more “modern” stats, his ERA+ was 125 and Maloney racked up 33.3 WAR in that time period. In 1965 alone, Maloney’s lone All-Star year, his WAR was 8.1, which is considered MVP level. That was second to Juan Marichal‘s 10.3 WAR for pitchers, and only Willie Mays posted a better overall WAR than the two of them.
Maloney finished 21st in MVP voting that year, and five other pitchers finished ahead of him: Sandy Koufax (2nd), Don Drysdale (5th), Marichal (9th), Frank Linzy (13th), and Vern Law (17th). Koufax was the unanimous choice for the Cy Young Award.
Maloney is one of several Reds alumni scheduled to appear at Redsfest this year.
Alternative Movie Posters
by Matthew Chojnacki
Schiffer Books, 2013
Hollywood ain’t what it used to be, and neither are the film posters hanging in movie theaters to promote new movies. But movie fans are a creative bunch, and a passionate bunch, and creativity and passion are combined with talent there is no limit to what can be accomplished. Look at all the fantastic fan films for Star Wars and Batman and countless other fictional worlds that are produced purely for fun. Similarly, artists have professed their love for movies by creating print film advertisements that exceed the quality of what you see on the theater walls. Matthew Chojnacki has collected examples of some of the best in Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground.
There is no shortage of variety in these posters. Some have a distinct 1970s VHS boxart feel to them, such as Justin Osbourn’s send-up for Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon on page 198. Others are styled after comic books, like Adam Limbert’s illustration for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy on page 130, or present a more sinister atmosphere than the film itself, such as Bobby O’Herlihy’s Ghostbusters on page 80. My personal favorite is from Garbage Pail Kids/Cereal Killers artist Joe Simko; he captured the essence of Killer Klowns from Outer Space on page 132.
The book itself is nicely done. The artwork is prominently displayed on the 8 ½ by 11 page, and there is room at the bottom of each page for tidbits about the artists’ influences and favorite films. Many of the artists’ websites are also listed in the book and can be contacted for commissions. Alternative Movie Posters would make an excellent gift for any film buff and is one of the most enjoyable art books I have seen this year.
The Art of Movie Storyboards
by Fionnuala Halligan
Ilex Press, 2013
Films can be considered art on so many levels. There is, of course, the movie as a whole, the individual parts of the movie (from the acting to the set to the cinematography), and the advertising posters for the movie. But before any of that can be considered art, you have to start with something more primitive: the movie storyboards. Film critic Fionnuala Halligan has collected a wide variety of storyboards in The Art of Movie Storyboards: Visualising the Action of the World’s Greatest Films. The sketches are often rough representations of the final product, but the extent to which they are used by directors and actors show how important they are to what we eventually see on the big screen.
Movies represented here include Gone With The Wind, Psycho, The Birds, Rebel Without A Cause, West Side Story, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and many more. Some are instantly recognizable, while others require a bit more imagination. These are, however, all original storyboards, some illustrated by legends of the craft, others anonymous works that contributed to the greatest movies ever made.
Halligan writes in the preface, “Although storyboards are, by their very nature, quick and disposable, they are very much an art form, one which goes much deeper than the strip: they work at a very profound level of the filmmaking process.” She does a fantastic job of collecting them for posterity in this volume. The Art of Movie Storyboards would be a fine addition to any filmmaker’s library.
The teaser on ESPN‘s site reads, “When there’s no ballot room for players like Jack Morris, it’s time for the HOF to change the rules.” Since I’m not an Insider subscriber, I can’t read the rest of the article, but the inference is that Buster Olney supports Morris’ induction. I don’t argue on that point; Morris was one of the most dominant pitchers of his era, despite his ERA. In fact, two of his Tigers teammates should also have plaques in Cooperstown (Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker), but for whatever reason at least 25.1% of voters disagree on all three counts.
Olney’s insistence that the rules should be changed for players who could not get 75% of the voters to check their name in fifteen years is not new; many have been calling for an updated system for years. However, just because one writer (or 67.7% of the writers) think a guy should be in, that is no reason to change the rules.
Let me repeat: I think Morris should be a Hall of Famer, but I’m not stomping my feet and demanding the Hall of Fame change its rules based on my opinion. There is a reason for the 75% threshold. It is difficult to reach that degree of support, and it should be difficult to gain entrance into the most exclusive Hall in all of sports.
So I clicked on the “read more,” and ESPN delivers another tease before they make you pay for the full article. Olney lists sixteen players he would “definitely vote for” (including steroid poster boys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) and three others to “consider within the shifting landscape of who is already in the Hall of Fame” (Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, and Trammell).
Do I agree with some of Olney’s choices? Of course. Holdovers Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Morris are on both of our lists. Newcomers that we agree on include Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas. But there are others that I see as poor choices, mostly because of the steroid connection. I’m not completely sold on Curt Schilling yet, but I don’t necessarily think his inclusion would hurt the integrity of the Hall.
Again, I’m not an Insider subscriber, so I don’t know what new rules Olney suggests (if any). But I doubt he believes those new rules should deal with the voters. His new rules probably want to either extend the life of a player on a ballot, or lower the percentage needed to be called one of baseball’s immortals, or—and this is the most likely suggestion—increase the number of players a writer can vote for. Any of those suggestions is misguided.
Extending the life of a player on the ballot really does little for guys like Morris. This is his fifteenth year on the ballot; he is getting more press because of that and will receive more votes than if he had another five years.
Lowering the percentage needed for induction does not really lower the integrity of the Hall itself, but it is unnecessary. Guess how many non-Hall of Famers (current nominees excluded) would have been included if the threshold was lowered to 65%: zero. Gil Hodges has the most support at 63.4%, and that came in his last year on the ballot in 1983. Everyone who has received at least 65% of the vote has eventually gotten into the Hall of Fame. In fact, Hodges is the only player to ever receive 60% and still be on the outside. That may change after this vote, but there is still the Veterans Committee to consider in a few years.
Increasing the number of players a writer can vote for is a non-issue most years. There are several newcomers this year that will eventually be inducted, even if they are passed over initially. Most writers do not vote for ten players most years; this year might be an exception, but exceptions to the rule do not necessitate changes to the rule.
The rules are fine, Mr. Olney. Jack Morris is not considered a Hall of Famer by at least 25.1%, as much as you and I would like him to be.