R.I.P. Nick Menza

(July 23, 1964 – May 21, 2016)

Former Megadeth drummer who played on some the band’s biggest albums, including 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, Nick Menza passed away Saturday night after suffering from heart failure while performing a concert with OHM.

Baseball cards from Orlando

packs

I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…

Davis

First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.

Mattingly

The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.

Davis mini

Franco mini

Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.

Benzinger

Benzinger

Clark

Clark

I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.

Big Hurt

I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.

Griffey All-Star

Henke

Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.

Ryan

Henderson

Also from the same 1992 Score pack.

Thome

There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.

Dennys

Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.

Double Headers

Double Header

I have always wanted some Double Headers, but have never seen them in person. Vince Coleman is from 1990, while Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson are from 1989.

Brett

candy

Think this candy is still good from 1991?

buttons

Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.

Topps Now ignored the biggest opportunity of the season

Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.

The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.

To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.

Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.

I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:

Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.

R.I.P. Sammy Ellis

(February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016)

Ellis 1966

Cincinnati Reds pitcher and 1965 All-Star, Sammy Ellis passed away on Friday in Florida. Ellis pitched for the Reds (1962-1967), California Angels (1968), and Chicago White Sox (1969), and served as pitching coach for the Yankees (1982–84; 1986), White Sox (1989–91), Cubs (1992), Mariners (1993–94), Red Sox (1996), and Orioles (2000). He was inducted into the Mississippi State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook (2016)

Home Game

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family
by Bret Book and Kevin Cook
Crown Archetype, 2016
272 pages

Being the son of a major leaguer must be daunting, with athletic expectations high. Being a third-generation ballplayer, especially when no one ever followed both their father and grandfather into the professional ranks before, the pressure had to be immense. But not for Bret Boone, who was not satisfied to have a famous last name. He wanted to prove that he belonged, and not just a feel-good story for the media.

In Home Game, Boone admits that he regrets the way he approached his big league debut. He should have given more credit to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both who had solid careers. Ray led the league in RBI and was an All-Star; Bob showed him up by becoming one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game and making multiple All-Star Games. Bret carried on the tradition of family excellence, leading the league in RBI like his grandfather and becoming a stalwart defensive second baseman and All-Star in his own right. And he was not alone; he was joined by his brother Aaron Boone at the top level of professional baseball.

Boone honors his heritage, showing respect to his late grandfather and his father, relating a handful of stories that were passed down to him. He tells about growing up in the Phillies clubhouse, getting batting tips from Mike Schmidt, and later, when his dad was with the Angels, playing catch with Reggie Jackson. He discusses his disappointment in being drafted so low out of high school, and in not being drafted until the fifth round after a few years at USC. He recalls his time in the minor leagues and his struggle to get to Seattle, where he butted heads with Lou Piniella at first. He also tells of the hazing he endured from Jay Buhner, and the friendship that developed as he handled it in stride.

Boone mentions the allegations made by Jose Canseco, denying that he ever took steroids and stating emphatically that their supposed conversation at second base never happened. In his denial, Boone does admit to using greenies, but says of those who claim ignorance when steroids are found in their system, “It’s your job to know what’s in your body. It’s your job to stay clean and test clean.”

There is some foul language throughout—not as much as some autobiographies contain, but it is present. Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family is a good behind-the-scenes look at the game, covering three generations of All-Star baseball. Aside from the Boones, there is mention of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey, and Barry Larkin, among others. It may be some time before we see another three-generational All-Star family, and this peek inside the family tradition of the Boones is well worth the read.

Learn more about Crown Archetype.

Purchase Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook.

2016 Reds, 1983 Style: Joey Votto

1983 Topps Votto

This has been an excruciating season for Reds fans so far. The bullpen is horrendous. Young starters are pitching well, but not long enough, and the ball is being handed over to guys that can’t keep the opponents from scoring. It’s a wonder they can even dress themselves.

The offense was supposed to be the bright spot this season, anchored by veteran Joey Votto at first base. But Votto has had a slow start, batting only .234 in the first 34 games with five longballs and 20 ribbies. For the sabergeeks, Joey’s WAR is an atrocious -0.1. Yes, negative 0.1. Hopefully he can turn things around soon and start hitting like he did during the second half last year. If the bullpen has a ten-run lead, surely they won’t blow it, right?

I’ve gotten a very late start to the Reds “fun cards” this year. I debated long and hard on the design to use, finally settling on the 1983 Topps style. This is a classic look, an update of sorts of the 1963 design, and just an overall good look. I hope you enjoy the cards, even if you have trouble enjoying the games this season.

Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman unite/reunite to form Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman (ARW)

Yes ARW

Long-time YES fans, rejoice! Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman are proud to announce that after a hiatus of 25 years, they are to reform the definitive YES line-up as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW).

Since they last played together in 1990 on the highly successful YES ‘Union Tour’, there have been various hybrid versions of the band. However, none featured the iconic voice of Jon Anderson, the outstanding guitar talent of Trevor Rabin, and the keyboard wizardry of Rick Wakeman. The aim of the band will be to restore the standard of excellence in performance that they established with their 1990 shows, which saw YES members past and present come together for the first (and only) time of the legendary band’s career.

“To be able to sing and perform with Rick and Trevor at this time in my life is a treasure beyond words,” explains Jon. “I’m so excited to create new music and revisit some of the classic work we created many years ago, it’s going to be a musical adventure on so many new levels.”

“Trevor and I have wanted to play Yes music together since the Union Tour,” adds Rick. “And as for so many of us, there is no Yes music without Jon. The ‘Holy Trinity of Yes’ is for me, very much a dream come true.”

The most successful prog rock group of all time, YES was founded by Jon Anderson in 1968 and went on to sell millions of units with releases such as Fragile, Close to The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Going For The One and 90125, as well as embarking on several record-breaking world tours.

While Rick is associated with the ’70s “prog era” of the band (which saw YES become a worldwide stadium headliner) and Trevor associated with the ’80s “pop era” of the band (which furthered the band’s popularity, including the band’s biggest chart success), Jon is the bridge between both factions (as he was a member of both eras).

Not content to rest on past glory, Jon, Trevor and Rick are working on new songs, which are currently being recorded. The band will make its live debut in North America in October/November, followed by the Rest of the World in 2017.

The worldwide ARW Tour is being produced by legendary concert promoter Larry Magid, who is considered an architect and leader of the modern concert business. With over 16,000 concerts to his credit and still counting, he has produced national and international tours for Yes, Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Earth Wind & Fire, Il Divo, The Allman Brothers Band, Patti LaBelle, Grover Washington Jr. and many others. In 1985 Larry Magid co-produced the American portion of Live Aid and in 2005 he was the producer of Live 8.

The following are confirmed dates, and on-sales for each market will be announced soon. Additional dates may be added:

Tue/Oct-04 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live
Thu/Oct-06 Hollywood, FL Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Fri/Oct-07 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
Sun/Oct-09 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Ctr
Mon/Oct-10 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
Sat/Oct-15 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Sun/Oct-16 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Wed/Oct-19 Boston, MA Wang Theatre
Fri/Oct-21 Wallingford, CT Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Sat/Oct-22 Huntington, NY The Paramount
Mon/Oct-24 Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theater
Wed/Oct-26 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
Fri/Oct-28 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Event Center
Sat/Oct-29 Akron, OH Goodyear Theater at East End
Tue/Nov-01 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
Wed/Nov-02 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
Fri/Nov-04 New Buffalo, MI Four Winds Casino
Sat/Nov-05 Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
Mon/Nov-07 Nashville, TN Schermerhorn Symphony Ctr
Wed/Nov-09 St Louis, MO Fox Theatre
Fri/Nov-11 New Orleans, LA Saenger Theatre
Sat/Nov-12 San Antonio, TX Majestic Theatre
Mon/Nov-14 Austin, TX ACL at the Moody Theater
Wed/Nov-16 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
Thu/Nov-17 Salt Lake City, UT Capitol Theater
Sat/Nov-19 Las Vegas, NV The Pearl
Sun/Nov-20 Phoenix, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Tue/Nov-22 Los Angeles, CA Orpheum
Fri/Nov-25 San Francisco, CA Masonic

FOR TOUR, TICKETS AND VIP INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
www.ARW-tour.com

God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen by Mitchell Nathanson (2016)

God Almighty Hisself Dick Allen biography Mitchell Nathanson

God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen
by Mitchell Nathanson
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
416 pages

One of the most polarizing players of the 1960s and 70s, Dick Allen never seemed to be happy. He had enormous talent, but he did not believe he received the respect he deserved. He faced racism, bad press, hecklers, and more during his career, and made plenty of enemies along the way. In this new biography by Mitchell Nathanson, those events are chronicled and put into historical context in the best possible way, using newspaper articles and archived interviews as the primary source for information, with newer interviews conducted to flesh things out when needed. Allen himself declined to participate in the interview process, but the quality of reporting throughout his career served to paint a portrait of the oft disgruntled star.

There is very little to criticize in this book as far as the writing goes; Nathanson deals with the material honestly and openly, not shying away from the negativity that always seemed to surround Allen. My primary criticism would be with the title, God Almighty Hisself. Not knowing the context, one might assume that Allen referred to himself in such a way. The quote from which the title is taken actually refers to the troublesome nature of dealing with the player, with a former manager quipping, “I believed God Almighty hisself would have trouble handling Richie Allen.” As such, the book should have been titled differently.

Overall, however, this biography of Dick Allen is an enjoyable read, shedding light on the surly superstar who often held out for more money, was frequently traded, and was dismissed all too soon by the voters for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Learn more about University of Pennsylvania Press.

Purchase God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen by Mitchell Nathanson.

Congratulations @Max_Scherzer

Scherzer strikes out 20

Only three others have done it. Roger Clemens was the first in 1986, and the second in 1996. Kerry Wood followed in 1998, and the Big Unit Randy Johnson in 2001. Add Max Scherzer to the list of pitchers who have struck out twenty batters in a game.

Of the five 20-K games, three have been in May, one in April, and one in September.

This is the second “highlights” card in the 2016 TWJ set. You can see all the cards, including highlights and final tributes, at TWJ cards on tumblr. Fifty-nine base cards have been posted so far, along with 14 final tributes, two highlights, and a Jackie Robinson card. At least one new card is posted each day.

After The Laughter by The Silvers (2016)

The Silvers

The Silvers
After The Laughter
Genterine Records, 2016
40 minutes

Like it or not, the Beatles are the most influential band in the history of rock and roll. At times, a band borrows directly from the Beatles sound, as in the case of early Oasis records. The Silvers’ After The Laughter largely follows this path as well. Simple chord progressions and catchy melodies immediately call to mind the boys from Liverpool. Certainly, there are some tracks that are more memorable than others, such as “Little Minds, Little Hearts,” but each song on this album has its own strengths. I particularly enjoyed the innocence of “Good Friends” and the common sense plea to try to get along, a good reminder especially in the volatile political climate of America right now.

Watch the video for “No More (This Time I Mean It)”:

Tracklist:
1. Running Away
2. No More (This Time I Mean It)
3. Sunday Girl
4. Little Minds, Little Hearts
5. Good Friends
6. Nothing Really Matters
7. Down and Out
8. Hey, Marie
9. It’s Alright
10. I’m Just the Other Guy
12. So Long
13. You Ask a Lot of Questions
14. When the Time Comes

Lineup:
Mick Orton (bass, vocals, piano)
Tom Kelley (6 & 12 string electric guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Ricky Zero (electric & acoustic guitar, vocals)
Glenn Stone (drums)

Learn more about The Silvers.

Learn more about Genterine Records.

Purchase The Silvers – After The Laughter.

A pleasant surprise

When I went in to work Friday, there was an envelope in my work mailbox. The work mailbox is not used a great deal by me, other than to store my headset and some other random papers that may someday be important. So I was a little surprised to see an envelope inside.

This was not a regular envelope, though. This was a small, padded envelope. The type used by baseball card collectors to send each other goodies. All that was written on the outside was my name, so I knew it came from someone who I worked with.

I tore it open, and this beauty fell out…

Hamilton

A Topps NOW card featuring Billy Hamilton, commemorating the Reds’ five single-inning stolen bases earlier this year! This was a very pleasant surprise, and I got busy trying to figure out the identity of the mysterious baseball card fairy. It did not take long, and the trail led straight to TWJ contributor Patrick. We no longer work in the same building, but we still exchange baseball cards, memorabilia, and books from time to time.

Such a great surprise on a Friday night! I’m very grateful to Patrick and his continued support and contributions to The Writer’s Journey.

A few words about Topps NOW…I’m not a huge fan of the process. And I’m not the only one. For me, it’s the price that bothers me. However, I noticed something on the Topps NOW website a few minutes ago:

prices

$3.99 or even $4.99 is a lot easier to swallow than $9.99. Of course, that is only if you are purchasing multiple copies of a single card. But what if the idea was extended to include multiple cards? Say I wanted to place an order for ten cards that were to be produced during the season. Obviously, I don’t know what ten cards I would want, but each day I could check the Topps NOW site, and if I decided I wanted one of those cards, I could click “add to cart” and the quantity. When I accumulate ten cards in my cart, they are then shipped to me. If there are additional slots in my cart at the end of the year, I automatically receive that quantity of the last card in the set (which will likely be a celebration of the Chicago Cubs’ first world championship in over a hundred years).

If I were buying individual cards throughout the year, that would run $99.90. But if I pre-purchased a ten-card package, it would only be $49.99. Or the twenty-card package for $79.99. That might be something I would be willing to do (if the Reds had a better team and I expected them to have 10 or 20 Topps NOW cards this season).

I like the concept of Topps NOW, I really do. But the price for a single card is way too high for this bargain-bin collector. I would love to see Topps make some sort of “subscription” like I described above available to collectors like myself.

Chris Archer K-Counter Bobblehead and a brief recap of my weekend in Florida

Bobblehead

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I went to a Tampa Bay Rays game on Saturday. As a friend said, I was making lemonade this past weekend. I was presented with an opportunity to attend a pretty awesome music festival in Orlando, and booked a non-refundable airline ticket and hotel room. Much to my chagrin, the concert was cancelled. Since I couldn’t recoup my expenses, I decided to make the most of the situation. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I rented a car for the weekend and made the trek from Orlando to Tampa (actually St. Petersburg) Saturday night to catch the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did I get to see a pretty spectacular game, complete with Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria longballs and a walk-off bottom-of-the-ninth hit, but I got to take home this very awesome Chris Archer “K-Counter” bobblehead. I’m not really a bobblehead collector, but I don’t turn them down when offered, and I love being able to take something home with me after I go to a ballgame.

Not only did I see a great ballgame and take home a cool souvenir, I also visited a pretty sweet museum called the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. The museum is located in the centerfield area of Tropicana Field.

display

Several all-time greats are featured including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Aaron.

display

There are also a number of guys who are in the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame who have not made it to Cooperstown—at least, not yet—like Alan Trammell, Pete Rose, and George Foster. It was cool to see all of this baseball history on display.

Williams

DonaldsonI also got to see one of my favorite American League players, last year’s Most Valuable Player, Josh Donaldson. Even if I think his haircut is quite ridiculous, he is fun to watch. And I did enjoy hearing all the Tampa fans mocking his rat tail.

I sat next to a gentleman from British Columbia, and was very entertained by his accent and constant use of “eh?” at the end of each sentence. I always though comedians exaggerated the whole “eh?” stereotype, but it’s really true how much some Canadians use it. It was difficult not to laugh every time he said it, but I managed.

I did have a smile on my face nearly the whole game. It was just such a neat experience, although really weird to watch a baseball game played indoors. And I got to cross another major league stadium off my list. I have now seen a game in nine current parks (Baltimore, Boston, Tampa, Chicago AL, Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago NL, and Cincinnati), and seven that are no longer with us (New York AL, Chicago AL, Cleveland, Detroit, New York NL, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati).

After the game, I drove back to Orlando. On Sunday I visited a local church and ate supper with a cousin I don’t believe I had previously met. She grew up in Florida, and said her family did come to Ohio once when she was younger, so it’s possible we met way back then, but neither of us can remember for sure. It was great to connect with her on a non-Facebook level.

On Monday, I killed time by walking around the Florida Mall and stopping by a baseball card shop. They didn’t have any dime or quarter boxes, but they did have fifty-cent packs. I’ll show off a few of those cards in a future post.

baseball cards

Fun Cards Submission: 2016 Topps Now Reds Bullpen

Reds bullpen

I’m not sure what Bryan “Fisher” Price is trying to prove. It’s painfully obvious that the Reds’ bullpen is absolutely atrocious, so why not shake things up? Let a starter go seven or eight or (gasp!) nine innings. See if they can’t seal the deal from beginning to end. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE COMPLETE GAME?

Last season, six major leaguers pitched four complete games. The last time a National League pitcher has reached double digits was last century. Randy Johnson, in 1999, finished 11 games. James Shields was the last American League pitcher to accomplish that “feat”—five years ago—and he was the first in the Junior Circuit since Scott Erickson in 1998. For three straight seasons in the 1970s, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro completed at last twenty games per season. In his 24-year career, Knucksie started and finished 245 games.

I know, not everything in “the good ol’ days” was actually good. But looking at Cincinnati’s bullpen performance this year, it’s hard not to long for a few complete games from the starters that are pitching well.

Thanks to TWJ contributor Patrick for reminding us how pitiful the Reds’ relief pitching actually is.

Fun Cards Submission: 1990 Topps Debut Tim Adleman

Adleman

Rookie Tim Adleman made his major league debut on Sunday against the Pirates, pitching six innings while giving up two runs on three hits. A pretty impressive start, striking out six batters including Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison, and Starling Marte. Bryan “Fisher” Price decided Adleman was pitching too well, so he brought in the bullpen to give the Pirates a chance. Amazingly, the Reds’ offense powered through and Cincinnati ended up winning 6-5 when Scott Schebler doubled home Eugenio Suarez in the top of the ninth and Blake Wood (who?) got three scalawags to ground out in the home half to end the game.

I apologize for the delay in posting this. TWJ contributor Patrick sent it shortly after the game, but I was out of town and did not have my computer with me. I didn’t get in until late last night (thanks, Atlanta airport!), and have been trying to rest ever since. I’ve got some cool stuff to show off from Saturday’s Rays game, and some new baseball cards, but I need to rest a bit more first. Thanks for the “fun card” Patrick!

The Dead Daisies set to open U.S. “Freedom To Rock Tour” for rock legends, KISS!

Dead Daisies

KISS: AMERICA’S # 1 GOLD RECORD AWARD WINNING GROUP OF ALL TIME ANNOUNCES HIGHLY ANTICIPATED 2016 SUMMER AMERICAN “FREEDOM TO ROCK” TOUR

There are few rock bands as legendary as KISS. So with America’s # 1 Gold Record Award Winning Group of all time having announced its 2016 Summer American “Freedom To Rock” Tour and to get an opportunity to play with the masked foursome—let alone open a tour for them—is an instant career highlight. And this summer, The Dead Daisies will be doing just that – opening a month’s worth of dates for KISS in the U.S. (beginning August 10th in Green Bay, WI, and wrapping up on September 10th in Huntington, WV) – in support of their forthcoming SPV/eOne release, ‘Make Some Noise’ (arriving on August 5th 2016).

An Australian-American collective of musicians originally formed in 2012, the current The Dead Daisies line-up is comprised of John Corabi (vocals), Doug Aldrich (guitar), David Lowy (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), and Brian Tichy (drums). ‘Make Some Noise’ is their third studio effort overall (preceded by 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Revolución).

Dead Daisies

Doug Aldrich: “The Daisies playing with KISS – how cool is that? I have known the KISS guys for ages, so I’m very happy that we get to bring the Daisies to the US on this tour. This will be awesome!”

Brian Tichy: “Once again, I’m psyched to go out on tour soon with The Dead Daisies opening for the mighty KISS! There’s never anything wrong with playing drums in a cool rock band, with your buds, in amphitheaters, in the U.S., in the Summer, opening for one of the world’s greatest live bands! Hope to see you there!”

The Dead Daisies have already established itself as a must-see live act, having toured with the likes of ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Def Leppard, as well as their old friends Kiss (including previous U.S., Euro, and Australian tours, plus two appearances aboard the Kiss Kruise). Additionally, the band has been a part of such renowned festivals as the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, Rock in Vienna Festival, Download Festival, and Graspop Metal Meeting.

Dead Daisies

Get ready to rock and roll all night, when the Dead Daisies unite with Kiss this summer!

THE DEAD DAISIES/KISS TOUR DATES:
Wed, Aug 10, 2016 Green Bay, WI – Resch Center
Fri, Aug 12, 2016 Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County Memorial Coliseum
Sat, Aug 13, 2016 Saginaw, MI – Dow Event Center
Mon, Aug 15, 2016 Kalamazoo, MI – Wings Event Center
Wed, Aug 17, 2016 Springfield, IL – Illinois State Fair
Fri, Aug 19, 2016 TBA
Sat, Aug 20, 2016 Rockford, IL – BMO Harris Bank Center
Mon, Aug 22, 2016 Dayton, OH – Nutter Center
Wed, Aug 24, 2016 Toledo, OH – Huntington Center
Fri, Aug 26, 2016 Youngstown, OH – Covelli Centre
Sat, Aug 27, 2016 Erie, PA – Erie Insurance Arena
Mon, Aug 29, 2016 Rochester, NY – Blue Cross Arena
Tue, Aug 30, 2016 State College, PA – Bryce Jordan Center
Thu, Sep 1, 2016 Allentown, PA – The Great Allentown Fair
Sat, Sep 3, 2016 Worcester, MA – DCU Center
Sun, Sep 4, 2016 Portland, ME – Cross Insurance Arena
Wed, Sep 7, 2016 Bridgeport, CT – Webster Bank Arena
Fri, Sep 9, 2016 Richmond, VA – Richmond Coliseum
Sat, Sep 10, 2016 Huntington, WV – Big Sandy Arena

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
thedeaddaisies.com
facebook.com/TheDeadDaisies

Random Awesomeness (part 210)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Ace Freheley – Origins Vol. 1

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani (2016)

Empire Strikes Back Topps Cards Book

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two
introduction and commentary by Gary Gerani
Abrams ComicArts, 2016
548 pages

Many fans of the greatest space opera contend that the best film of the series is Episode V, better known as The Empire Strikes Back. It is fitting, then, that the book chronicling Topps trading cards for the film exceeds the initial volume in quality. The creative driving force behind the design and writing of the cards, Gary Gerani, tells the process of meeting with LucasFilm executives to read the script and select images for the cards. The movie’s big reveal was kept secret from Topps at the time; Gerani recalls the first time he learned of Darth Vader’s familial relationship with Luke Skywalker was when he saw the film in Manhattan.

Initially, Gernai and Topps were told they could not use Yoda in their set, as he was a “mysterious creative element” that George Lucas and Irvin Kershner wanted to keep him a surprise for the public. Lucas eventually relented, and Yoda is prominently displayed on several cards in the series. Gerani wrote the copy for many of the cards, making up dialogue that fit with several of the characters’ personalities.

In addition to the reproductions of all three series of cards, front and back, the book also features images of sell sheets, packaging, stickers, and the 30-card set of giant photocards. Also, as in the first volume, actual promotional trading cards are also including with the hard copy purchase. In addition to that, Topps has included a code for a free pack of digital trading cards on their Star Wars Card Trader app.

Learn more about Abrams ComicArts.

Purchase Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two.

Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life by Ron Darling with Daniel Paisner (2016)

Ron  Darling Game 7 1986

Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life
by Ron Darling with Daniel Paisner
St. Martin’s Press, 2016
256 pages

Imagine yourself as the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series, and your team wins…what an absolute thrill that must be, right? Ron Darling experienced it in 1986, the Mets and Red Sox tied up 3-3 in the Series, and at the end of the night as he celebrated the victory with his teammates, one thought cast a shadow over the pandemonium: “Wishing like crazy I could forget how it started.”

Darling had long dreamed of this day, though in his childhood fantasies he was on the mound for Boston, not New York. His outing did not turn out the way he had pictured it; in less than four innings, he gave up six hits and three earned runs. He was pulled for Sid Fernandez, who gave way to winning pitcher Roger McDowell and closer Jesse Orosco. The team won, but Darling didn’t. Most players don’t write books about their biggest disappointments, but Darling did.

Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life recounts Darling’s preparation for the game, his pre-game ritual which had to be repeated on Monday because of the Sunday night weather cancellation, a vague death threat, notes about the batters he faced in those three and two-thirds innings, and the opposing pitcher Bruce Hurst. Darling touches very briefly on the recklessness of the team off the field, including the night in Houston he was arrested for punching an off-duty police officer outside a bar. But those are passing references; the focus of this book is on Game 7.

While the team won, Darling writes, “I’ve had thirty years to deal with the disappointment of my Game 7 performance.” Despite the victory, he believed he let the team and the city down because he could not shut down the Red Sox bats in the first few innings. He also reflects on the wasted talent of the team, believing that they should have done more, particularly Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. Considering their talent, they should have been all-time greats, and Darling writes that “the further away I am from my playing days, the more I resent how they squandered their gifts.”

The 1986 team was a special collection of players, one that will always be remembered both for their dominance and their arrogance. Darling’s recounting of the final game of the World Series is a good reminder that it didn’t always go their way, but in the end, they were able to pull off the championship.

Learn more about St. Martin’s Press.

Purchase Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life by Ron Darling with Daniel Paisner.

Cards from a Royals fan in Nebraska

Klinker

On more than one occasion, I wondered why Mike was a Royals fan. He lives in Nebraska. There is no connection whatsoever between Nebraska and the Royals, is there? Then it dawned on me…OMAHA! The city has hosted the Royals AAA affiliate since 1969, so it makes sense for Mike to be a Royals fan. (To be fair to Mike, he has probably told me this and I just forgot. My memory seems to be slipping more and more with each passing day.) The Royals actually have an A-ball team about an hour from me; maybe I’ll try to get down there and catch a game sometime this summer with the boys.

I started this post off with a 2011 Bowman card of Matt Klinker (parallel! green border! numbered to 450!) because Klinker was a career minor leaguer, and 2011 was his last season, split between the Carolina Mudcats and Louisville Bats. He also spent some time in the Venezuelan League in 2011, but has not pitched professionally since according to his B-R page. It would have been nice to have seen Klinker on the big league stage with the Reds; the back of his card says he grew up as a Reds fan in Kentucky. His B-R page shows that he graduated from Lakota West High School in West Chester, OH, a suburb of Cincy. I love the local-kid-makes-good story, but it wasn’t meant to be in this case.

Mike sent over several other awesome cards. Let’s travel back to 1972 with George Foster

Foster

…then to 1984 with an autographed Dann Bilardello

Bilardello

…then to 1989 with an autographed Van Snider

Snider

…before returning to the present time with some 2016 Donruss cards, including speedster Billy Hamilton

Hamilton

…and the best first baseman in the majors, Joey Votto

Vottomatic

I know Donruss gets a lot of grief from collectors because of the lack of logos, but I like the cards and am so happy to see an alternative to Topps this and Topps that and Topps then and Topps now. The 1982 throwbacks are especially nice, though the logo and year seem a bit big and bulky. Other than that, I think Donruss is doing a pretty fantastic job.

Thanks for the cards, Mike, and be watching for an envelope full of Royals coming your way!

There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Don’t you just love it when old friends come home?

On July 31, 2015, Jim (better known as GCRL to many in the baseball card blogging community) made his final post on the Garvey Cey Russell Lopes blog. He had been an active blogger since September, 2008, and was a great trading partner. He continued trading after his blog went silent, but his wit has certainly been missed.

But not for much longer…

FrankenDodger

Mr. GCRL is returning in May with a brand new blog called FrankenDodger. I’m no Dodger fan, but I am a GCRL fan, so I will be following the new blog, and I can’t wait for the first official post.

To hold me over, Jim sent some Reds cards my way. A brand new card of the dearly departed Todd Frazier

Fraz

Some sticky non-cards of a former Red (Aroldis Chapman) and a maybe-soon-to-be-former Red (Jay Bruce)…

Topps stickers

A 19-year old card of Jeff Brantley, one of the Reds’ current announcers that I can’t stand to hear…

Brantley

Now, some of you young whipper snappers may not think getting a 19-year old card is all that special. But consider this: I started collecting in 1985. To get a 19-year old card then—a 1966 card—would have been something pretty spectacular. To get a 27-year old card would have been nearly unthinkable. I mean, 1958? That’s what dreams were made of…

Jim helped make my dreams come true, many years later. That’s not just a 27-year old card, man. That’s a 58-year old card, man! This Johnny Temple All-Star is my very first 1958 Topps Reds card. It’s not the oldest card in my collection, but it’s older than me!

I’m very happy to have these cards (and stickers) in my collection. I still haven’t had time to update the wantlists, but I will soon. Thanks Jim!

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