2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Skip Schumaker

Skip Schumaker

Bryan Price got a lot of negative publicity last week for going off on the media. This week, it’s time for some positive publicity for the Reds.

Skip Schumaker is a utility player, a bench player, a role player. But more than that, he is a human being with a kind heart. A young lady named Ashlea attended a game last weekend between the Reds and Cardinals, and when Schumaker saw her, he made a point of speaking to her and taking some photos with her. Ashlea was suffering from cancer, and just a few days later passed away.

Skip  Schumaker

Ashlea’s sister-in-law posted one of the photographs to Facebook with the story about meeting Schumaker and the sad news of her passing. Someone passed that on to him, and Skip wrote a note to the family:

I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember talking to her about her baseball design on her nails. She seemed really sweet and much too young to be gone.

It was my pleasure to meet her and I’m praying for her family during this tragic time.

-Skip

With all the selfishness and negativity we see in professional sports, it is touching to read about the good guys. Thank you, Skip, for being a positive influence.

Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond by Bill Deane (2015)

Baseball Myths

Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond
by Bill Deane
Rowman & Littlefield, 2015
220 pages

Baseball is the most romanticized of all the sports, with legends growing more legendary with each passing season. In the days before the internet, unbelievable stories were told among friends and incredible feats were reported in newspapers…but how many of those stories and feats were embellished? The truth behind some of the game’s most enduring tales, while based on actual occurrences, are uncovered by author Bill Deane, former senior research associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and managing editor of Total Baseball.

Legends surrounding Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Derek Jeter, Pete Rose, and Babe Ruth are all examined and for the most part soundly refuted. Some issues may still be left to speculation and disagreement, but Deane has done a remarkable job with his research and explanation of his findings. The book is divided into four sections: “Baseball’s Infancy,” “The Truth About Ruth,” “The Lively Ball Era,” “Timeless Myths,” and “The Expansion Era.” In this paperback edition, two additional myths are disproved about Cool Papa Bell (scoring from first base on a bunt) and Harry Chiti (the player traded for himself).

Each myth is clearly marked and swiftly dealt with; the reader can take in one or two at a time, or delve into larger chunks of text and learn more about baseball’s history in a short amount of time. Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond is excellent for young fans as well as old, and everyone who picks up this book will be able to start separating fact from fiction in the national pastime.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield.

Purchase Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond by Bill Deane.

Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre: A Biography of The Doors by Mick Wall (2014)

The Doors

Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre: A Biography of The Doors
by Mick Wall
Orion Books, 2014
512 pages

Jim Morrison is one of the most enigmatic figures in rock and roll history, and in the four decades since his death, there is as much myth as there is fact believed about the singer of The Doors. British music journalist Mick Wall sets out to separate fact from fiction and clear up the misinformation that has been widely accepted as accurate history. One such area of confusion deals with Morrison’s death: Wall refutes the long-standing notion that the singer died in a Paris bathtub, and presents the truth of Morrison’s demise.

Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre—which is subtitled “A Biography of The Doors”—is about Jim Morrison. The other members of the group—Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore—are each given a brief biographical sketch, but after that are generally only mentioned in relation to the singer. Make no mistake, this is a biography of Jim Morrison more than it is of The Doors, because without Morrison, The Doors would not have existed. That is not to discredit the musicians that provided his backdrop; Wall is very respectful toward them and gives them as much ink as is possible. But even after his death, they are simply overshadowed by Morrison.

Wall was able to secure some reluctant interviewees for his book, including Jac Holzman, Bruce Botnik, and Bill Siddons. Along with interviews with Manzarek, Kriger, and Densmore, and others who knew Morrison during his days with The Doors, Wall paints a picture of a larger-than-life individual who was made even bigger than that by posthumous biographies such as No One Here Gets Out Alive and Oliver Stone’s 1991 film. Wall tries to reign in some of the legend that is so ingrained in the minds of the fans, but it will be interesting as time goes on how much truth wins out over the more tantalizing tales that have been told.

Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre is a necessary work to understand who The Doors—and specifically Jim Morrison—really were. There are obviously sensitive themes and crude language throughout, so it is not recommended for younger readers, but adults should find it entertaining as well as enlightening.

Learn more about Orion Books.

Purchase Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre: A Biography of The Doors by Mick Wall.

Purchase music by The Doors.

Fun Cards: 1978 Topps “Rookie Rockers” Van Halen

The Night Owl raved last night about music trading cards. And he showed off some cards he received from a reader, some from the early 1990s and some from the late 1970s. I have a few music cards in my collection as well, but I don’t believe I own any of the early 1990s “Rock Cards” that Night Owl flaunted. While the card designs (if you want to call them designs) aren’t attractive, the subjects are perfect for headbangers. From Slaughter to Poison to Skid Row…I would have loved these cards back in the day.

Forget “back in the day.” I would love these cards today. Though I would hope they could hire a better graphic designer.

But what I would love even more is for Topps to do something like this…

1978 VAN HALEN

Van Halen’s first album was released in 1978, so I put the foursome’s mugshots on a 1978 Topps rookie card. This is the kind of set I would like to see, and maybe Topps can make it happen. Maybe they can sign some of my hair metal favorites to contracts and produces an Archives-style music trading card set. Members of Mötley Crüe on 1982-style cards, KISS on a 1974-style cards (like this), Winger on 1988-style cards. That’s a set I would collect.

How about it Topps?

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Bryan Price (updated) #77FBombs

Bryan Price

Late to the party, but this just popped into my head.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Jason Marquis

Jason Marquis is not a good pitcher

Jason Marquis has been playing big league baseball since 2000, and the Reds are his ninth team. He has had an ERA under 4.00 only three times in his career, and it doesn’t look like 2015 will be #4. In his first two games, Marquis gave up 12 hits over 10 innings, allowing seven earned runs.

Tonight, Jay Bruce launched a grand slam in the top of the third inning in Milwaukee, giving Marquis a four-run lead. In the bottom of the third, Marquis allowed four earned runs.

Back to square one. Again.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1960 Season by David Finoli (2015)

pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1960 Season
by David Finoli
Arcadia Publishing, 2015
128 pages

Nearly every franchise has that one season that is etched into the minds of hardcore fans—one season that stands above all others. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, that season is 1960. Third baseman Dick Groat was the MVP, while 20-game winner Vern Law won the Cy Young Award. Young right fielder Roberto Clemente was coming into his own, while Roy Face was one of the most successful closers in the game. More than a half century later, Danny Murtaugh is still revered for his tenure as manager of the team. Baseball history will never forget Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic Game 7 home run to win the World Series against the New York Yankees.

In Arcadia Publishing’s latest release in the “Images of Baseball” series, author David Finoli recalls the magical season at Forbed Field through vintage photographs featuring the players, the front office, and the park. In addition to the stars, Finoli examines the lesser-known players, from Rocky Bridges to Bob Oldis to Gino Cimoli. The photographs are a mix of portraits, candid, and action shots. There are a couple of unfortunate instances when the photo extends past one page, and part of it is obscured in the binding between the two pages. The most glaring example is on pages 66-67; Face and Mazeroski can be clearly seen, but Smoky Burgess is lost in the fold. Fortunately, there are very few instances of the photo taking two pages.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1960 Season is a great way to learn about one of the best teams the Steel City has ever fielded, with a fine selection of photographs collected for posterity.

Learn more about Arcadia Publishing.

Purchase The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1960 Season by David Finoli.

2015 Reds, 1990 Score style: Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco

The 2014 All-Star hasn’t played in over a week, and during that stretch the Reds have only won two games and lost five. Coincidence? Would Devin Mesoraco have driven in a few of those dreaded “runners left on base” during those games? Injuries and bullpen woes were the downfall of the team last year, but it’s too early to write off 2015 already, isn’t it?

The new Fantastic Four trailer dropped yesterday

Even though I loved the first Fantastic Four film, this looks pretty cool.

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First by Ian Doescher (2015)

Shakespeare-Episode-I

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First
by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books, 2015
176 pages

Much like the movie it was based on, Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is the weak link in this series of books. It would be difficult for anyone to dress up George Lucas’ greatest misstep, but Doescher does his best and remains true to the filmmaker’s vision, Jar Jar Binks and all. Doescher does some interesting things with the characters, such as giving Jar Jar more intelligence than most would. When speaking in asides to the audience, Binks speaks Shakespearean English, fully in iambic pentameter just as the other characters; when conversing with the other characters, however, the last syllable drops off. Conversely, the other Gunguns receive the full ten syllables, even with their native dialect.

There are other deviations from the iambic pentameter with other characters: Yoda speaks in haiku, while Valorum tacks on an eleventh syllable at the end of his lines. Another quirk with the language includes the two-headed podrace commentator, who uses the pronoun “we” instead of “I.” Qui-Gon Jinn has a Julius Caesar moment during his final battle with Darth Maul, and tribute is paid to Samuel L. Jackson’s long career in Hollywood in several stanzas.

One of my favorite parts of William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is the conversation Doescher inserted between two unnamed Jedi in Act IV, Scene 5, foretelling the regression of technology and Jedi skills that would be seen in Verily, A New Hope. A weak explanation, but a nod to the lack of consistency between Lucas’ original trilogy and the prequels.

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace is a step back for the series, but Doescher should be able to right the ship with the next installment (scheduled for a July release) as he will have better source material from which to work. Still, for the completist, this tale is necessary as it tells the innocent beginnings of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars saga.

Learn more about Quirk Books.

Learn more about Ian Doescher and follow him on Twitter.

Purchase William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First by Ian Doescher.

Purchase William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set: Includes Verily, A New Hope; The Empire Striketh Back; The Jedi Doth Return; and an 8-by-34-inch full-color poster.

KISS gets animated with Scooby-Doo

I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back by Ben Blatt & Eric Brewster (2015)

idontcare

I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back:
30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever

by Ben Blatt & Eric Brewster
Grove Press, 2015
272 pages

If you have ever dreamed of visiting all thirty major league stadiums in a single summer, read this book first. Especially if you want to make the trip in an even more cramped period of time, such as thirty days. Harvard graduate Ben Blatt devised a schedule using a computer-generated algorithm that would take him to every stadium in a 30-day period in the most efficient way possible. His friend, Eric Brewster, agreed to tackle the journey with him, even though he didn’t like baseball. A missed first pitch, a rainout, and three speeding tickets later, the pair accomplished what they set out to do.

This is the ultimate road trip book for baseball fans, even though it doesn’t delve into the baseball much. It is more a story of friendship, of helping each other execute a task that seems crazy and impossible. Along the way they got to hang out with Theo Epstein, do laundry with David Lough‘s father, and eat lunch with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back is an entertaining read from start to finish, and might cause the reader to wonder how much he really loves baseball.

Learn more about Grove Press.

Purchase I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever by Ben Blatt & Eric Brewster.

Star Wars > Dawn of Justice, but still…

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

The new trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has been leaked. Assuming it hasn’t been taken down yet, here it is. Enjoy, fanboys.

Marvel’s Daredevil (2015)

Daredevil

Marvel’s Daredevil
Starring: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Vincent D’Onofrio
Netflix, 2015
13 episodes, 48-59 minutes each

[Review by TWJ contributor Joshua.]

Marvel’s Daredevil takes place after the catastrophic destruction of New York in 2012’s The Avengers. It ties in perfectly, making many obvious references to the cinematic universe, as well as subtle nods to the comic book readers who may be watching. One of the major themes throughout the show is the methods used to rebuild, both literally and figuratively, as New York reconstructs homes and businesses, and the citizens try to move on, despite the troublesome times.

The series focuses on a blind attorney, Matthew Murdock, working from a criminal defense office he owns with his good friend, Foggy Nelson. Their neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, is ridden with drugs distributed by the Russians, manufactured by the Chinese mafia, and enforced by the Japanese mob, all of whom are led by a seemingly untouchable man at the top, the Kingpin.

Matt may know the law, but that doesn’t mean he abides by it. In order to clean up the city and keep civilians out of harms way, Murdock dons a mask to combat the evil spreading through the streets. His heightened senses and advanced knowledge of multiple forms of martial arts makes him more dangerous than most criminals realize, which often spells their undoing.

From the very beginning we see Matt struggling with the morality of his actions and his methods of keeping the peace, while also showing us how a boy learns to use his disability to bring out his inner strengths. Marvel’s Daredevil is definitely a show worth watching from the unsettling crimson musical intro all the way to the climactic finality of the end. The show does a fantastic job of taking us along the journey Murdock follows to transform from a man of the law into a symbol of dark justice.

Sign up for Netflix and start watching Marvel’s Daredevil now!

Random Awesomeness (part 188)

Random Awesomeness


Purchase Vito & the Salutations – Unchained Melodies: Their Complete Recordings.

“Chewie, we’re home.” The new Star Wars trailer features Han Solo, Chewbacca, a mangled Darth Vader mask, and more!

MAKE IT FULLSCREEN…

…AND WATCH IT (at least) TWICE.

Man, I cannot wait until Christmas! J.J. Abrams is one of my favorite people in the world right now.

May the Force be with you.

Cincinnati Reds Legends by Mike Shannon, illustrated by Chris Felix, Scott Hannig, and Donnie Pollard (2015)

redslegends

Cincinnati Reds Legends
by Mike Shannon
illustrated by Chris Felix, Scott Hannig, and Donnie Pollard
Black Squirrel Books (an imprint of The Kent State University Press), 2015
100 pages

There are countless books that rank the best players for each team, and each list has a different set of standards and a different outcome. Mike Shannon’s recent release, Cincinnati Reds Legends, is no different in that regard, except it doesn’t rank the top forty Reds against each other. Rather, it lists them chronologically, starting with the Wright brothers (who count as one) of the 1869 Red Stockings to Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi to several Big Red Machine teammates to current Reds Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. The book is divided into four sections, each representing a time period and each containing ten players. The one-page biographies are well-written with nuggets of information that readers will enjoy, but the real value in this book is the artwork.

Each player is featured in a full-page illustration by one of three renowned sports artists: Chris Felix, Scott Hannig, and Donnie Pollard. The author himself admitted that art would “carry this book,” and it does. Without the artwork, Cincinnati Reds Legends is simply another book about Reds players, a listing of some of the most famous names to wear the Cincinnati uniform. And as interesting as Reds fans would find such a book, the art sets it apart and makes it more accessible to non-Reds fans as well.

As for the players included, it is far from an exhaustive list of Cincinnati greats. Those excluded include Roy McMillan (though his portrait is featured before the title page), Leo Cardenas, Jack Billingham, Chris Sabo, and Johnny Cueto. Shannon writes, “If you want to tell us whom we shouldn’t have left out, you also have to say which included player you’d take off the team.” A difficult task, as Shannon concisely demonstrates why each included player should be considered a legend in the Queen City.

Reds fans will go crazy for this book, while baseball fans and sports art fans will treasure the illustrations found within. Hands down, this is my new favorite Reds book.

Learn more about Black Squirrel Books (an imprint of The Kent State University Press).

Purchase Cincinnati Reds Legends by Mike Shannon, illustrated by Chris Felix, Scott Hannig, and Donnie Pollard.

#TBT at twjfuncards.tumblr.com

1938

This morning I posted 15 “fun cards” in the style of 1938 Goudey baseball cards that I drew 25 years ago at twjfuncards.tumblr.com. I have posted these here before, but the image links expired long ago, so I decided to re-upload them to tumblr for posterity.

I remember working on these at my desk in my bedroom, and a few nights ago I told my son to go find some index cards and colored pencils for me. But I am hesitant to try again. When I get up the courage to attempt a new drawing, I will post it here for everyone to laugh at. In the meantime, enjoy the 25-year old “fun cards.”

Skid Row Re-Record “18 and Life” and I Don’t Hate It

Listen to it (and download it free and legal) here.

Skid Row Tony Harnell

Skid Row announced last week that former TNT vocalist Tony Harnell had been hired to replace Johnny Solinger behind the mic. Solinger has decided to focus on his solo career, which is geared more toward southern rock and country music than hair metal. With Skid Row since 1999, he recorded two full-length albums (Thickskin and Revolutions Per Minute) and two EPs (United World Rebellion: Chapter One and Rise Of The Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two).

Harnell’s resume with TNT dates back to the mid-1980s, and he has also worked with Starbreaker and Westworld, as well as releasing four solo albums. Now with Skid Row, the first offering is a re-recording of one of the band’s most classic singles, “18 & Life.” I may be in the minority, but I love what the group is doing here. Putting to rest any rumors of a Sebastian Bach reunion by quickly announcing a new singer and releasing a new track—even if it is an old song—shows that the group is moving forward.

Bach has a nice solo career of his own, even if it took forever to start. He left Skid Row in 1996, but it was not until 2007 that a new studio album was released by the singer. That record, Angel Down was all sorts of fantastic. The two albums since then have fallen short, but he continues to tour and draws large crowds (albeit at smaller venues than he used to play).

The new recording of “18 & Life” not only shows that the group is moving on, but that Harnell is up to the task. No, he is not Sebastian Bach. Guess what? Bach ’15 is not Bach ’89 either. This re-recording is faithful to the original and Harnell handles the vocals perfectly. Solinger labored for fifteen years with Skid Row and handled his duites well despite a lack of respect from supposed fans. Hopefully Harnell can be seen as a legitimate replacement and will garner the respect that he deserves.

2015 (ex)Reds, 1990 Score style: Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Ludwick (Texas Rangers)

Shin-Soo Choo Texas Rangers 1990 Score

Shin-Soo Choo had a down year for the Rangers last year, batting only .242 and stealing three bases after a .285 campaign with 20 steals in 2013 for the Reds. He is still struggling in 2015, batting .182 through seven games. But that’s better than 2014 Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick, who was released on March 29 by the Rangers and has not found a new team yet. I never really understood Walt Jocketty’s obsession with Ludwick. Other than 2008, he was never really all that good.

Ryan Ludwick Texas Rangers 1990 Score

I think I prefer Billy Hamilton in centerfield and Marlon Byrd in left.

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