Jul 3, 2020

Hordes Of Road Warriors Swarm Across Texas


2020 Texas Gladiators
Media Home Entertainment (1983)
I was recently reminded of this direct-to-video classic by Cinemassacre's Rental Reviews: Episode 100 in which James Rolfe discussed the crazy VHS tape cover art.  It's an Italian science fiction film that imagines the year 2020 as a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  One reviewer on IMDB described it as an attempted takeover of Texas by "rouge gangs of bikers, green mutants and one brown UPS delivery truck full of Neo Nazis".  If you take out that bit about the green mutants, it actually wouldn't be too shocking of a headline here in the real 2020.

This is by no means a good movie, but it's so cheesy that it's enjoyable nonetheless.  It's available to watch on YouTube.  I strongly doubt that uploader, Pedro Cinemaxunga holds the copyright to the film, but it's been streaming on his channel for over two years, so I doubt it's going to be taken down any time soon (photo credit: Birth Movies Death).

Jul 2, 2020

The Only Way To Win Is Not To Play


Missile Command
Atari (1980)
One of my favorite video games came into this world at the same time that I did.  The Atari classic Missile Command first appeared in arcades 40 years ago in July, 1980.  The game is played with a three button panel on the left and a trackball on the right.  The trackball is used to set a target, and pressing each button will fire a missile from one of three bases at the bottom of the screen (left, center and right).  The goal of the game is to use your missiles to intercept a missile attack from an off-screen enemy before they destroy one of your cities.  When all of the cities are destroyed, the game is over.

Click to watch a playthrough by Edd Ray on YouTube.
The graphics are extremely primitive by 2020 standards, but this game stands the test of time.  It's a fast-paced, intense experience, especially when you consider the circumstances at the time when this game was released.  In 1980, the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union was in full effect.  When this comes up in conversation with people who were born after the fall of the Soviet Union, I get the impression that they have a hard time grasping the tense atmosphere of the situation.  The "duck and cover" videos were no joke.  There was a very real sense that a nuclear war could begin at any moment, and that once the first atomic strike was launched, it would lead to a series of attacks on both sides and the start of World War 3.  This game boldly captured the panic and anxiety of life during the Cold War.  It also captured the inevitable outcome if such a war were to take place.  There is no way to win the game.  The missile strikes keep coming until you are too slow and exhausted to keep up.  When you put a quarter in a Missile Command machine to start the war, your cities will be destroyed.  It's only a matter of how long you can keep going through the madness before it overcomes you.


I've played many home ports of this game, but none capture the true arcade experience.  The only place I've ever been able to play on the original arcade cabinet since I was a kid in the 80's is at the Timeline Arcade in York, PA.  I believe they replaced the monitor with an LCD, but aside from that, it's an authentic experience of what it was like to play Missile Command back in the day when it made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year - one quarter at a time.

Jul 1, 2020

Welcome To Summer Camp


Wednesday, July 1, 2020
San Diego Padres @ Philadelphia Phillies - Cancelled

Today was supposed to be the 43rd game at Citizens Bank Park and the 86th Phillies game of the season.  Instead, the entire baseball calendar has been 86'ed due to the pandemic, and July 1st is the first day of Summer Camp for the 2020 season.


I'm not going to pretend that I think this is a good idea.  Although this country seems to have gotten bored with the idea of public safety, the virus hasn't gone away.  In fact, the state of the virus in the nation today makes the months of March and April look like a walk in the park.

It seems like Major League Baseball is going to move forward with this plan until we see fatalities among the players, team staff or their families, so all that's left to do is argue about the rule changes.  I'll keep my thoughts on this as brief as I can.  I support the Universal DH, but I find the Extra Innings Automatic Baserunner rule to be only slightly less asinine than the people who argue against wearing face masks in public.  Starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base is a mockery of the game.  If the league is truly hell bent on eliminating games that go deep into extra innings, they should instead adopt the rules of Japanese baseball which allows for a maximum of three extra innings before a game ends in a tie.

Setting aside the question of whether it's wise to risk people's health for a soulless game in an empty ballpark, or whether the rule changes help or hinder the game, my question is whether or not anybody will care about the 2020 season.  Assuming it goes on as planned and we have playoffs and a World Series, how many fans would consider this a valid championship or care if their team wins?
Imagine that you're a fan of the Rangers, Brewers, Padres, Rockies or Rays.  Do you want your team's very first World Series Championship to take place in a 60 game shortened season with no fans in attendance?  What about Dodgers fans, who have gotten close in recent years, but haven't been able to win it all.  How about Indians fans, who haven't had a World Championship in over 70 years?  Would a 2020 World Series Championship be celebrated, or would you prefer that your team not be involved?

If I were given the choice between my Phillies winning the 2020 World Series or finishing in dead last place to get the first overall pick in the 2021 draft, I don't know which I would pick.  I'd like to say that I'd choose the title, but if I'm being completely honest with myself, I don't know that I would.  I think a lot of other fans wouldn't have a quick answer to that question either.  If so many of us have already written off the 2020 Championship as an asterisk tainted victory at best and a meaningless title at worst, why put player's health and careers at risk in the pursuit of it?

So... playball?

Lordy Lordy, Look Who's 40


This is the last photo of me in my 30's.  It was taken yesterday evening.  Dad and I spent the evening together with some pizza and beer, listening to music, watching old home videos and talking about old times.

Life is pretty crazy.  So many things have changed.  Most of my family is gone.  The world around me is unrecognizable from the world I once knew.  Some things have changed for the better.  Some have not.  The one thing that's remained constant through the years is that I've always felt like a fish out of water.  I didn't fit in on the first day of kindergarten, or in middle school, or high school, or college.  I didn't fit in with the mainstream or the outcasts.  I've didn't belong when I was out with friends, or at family gatherings.  I've been the misfit for every job I've ever had.  Some times, I was able to stay quiet and fake it well enough to get by.  Some times, I wasn't.

If you asked me when I was a teenager, I honestly didn't think I would make it to 40, but through a series of second chances and dumb luck, here I am.  Happy birthday to me.

Jun 30, 2020

Make Your VCR Do A Barrel Roll


Starfox 64 promo tape
Nintendo (1997)
These days, if you want to see a demo video of a Nintendo game, you can log into YouTube or the Switch eShop and watch hundreds of them.  It wasn't so easy for companies to promote their new games back in the days before streaming video.  In most cases, all that gamers had to go on was a few screenshots or a write-up in GamePro or Nintendo Power, with the occasional top shelf game getting a television commercial that may, or may not, include a few seconds of game footage.

In the mid 90's, Nintendo began a new marketing strategy of sending VHS tapes directly to gamers through the mail.  The first one I received was a tape advertising Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo.  The one in this photo promoted one of my favorite Nintendo 64 games, Starfox 64, which was released in North America 23 years ago today.  It features henchmen from Sega and Sony kidnapping a test pilot for Starfox and forcing him to spill the beans on everything he knows about the new game.  It's every bit as cheesy as you might expect.  Click here to see for yourself.

Jun 29, 2020

Taco Humps


Triplelupa
Taco Bell (2020)
This bizarre hybrid of a Chalupa mixed with a row of camels walking single file is called the Triplelupa.  As the name and photo implies, this is meant to be a combination of three chalupas.  It's actually just one very long Chalupa shell that is shaped in such a way to give the appearance of three.  Each segment has a different sauce: cheesy, cheesy chipotle and chipotle.


It's an interesting idea and it was tasty, but it's much smaller and thinner than I was expecting.  It's about half as tall as a regular Chalupa.  If I order it again, I'm going to get a regular Chalupa too and put them both on a food scale.  I suspect that the Triplelupa isn't much heavier.

Jun 28, 2020

Advertising That You Can Taste


Crush Soda Airbrush Illustration
Dynamic Airbrush - David Miller (1987)
In recognition of Pride Month on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, here is one of the most electric rainbows I have ever seen in any work of art or advertising.  I'm now dying for a pineapple soda  [source: The Groovy Archives].

Jun 27, 2020

The Phanatic Figurines


Phillie Phanatic Figurines Ad
Acme (1987)
If you go to a flea market or yard sale in Pennsylvania, the chances are very good that you'll find at least one of these little PVC plastic Phillie Phanatic toys.  The first in a series of eight figurines was released by the Acme grocery chain 33 years ago.

Jun 26, 2020

A Covid Petri Dish


Bloomsburg Fair
Bloomsburg, PA
I've been going to the Bloomsburg Fair since before I could walk.  It's one of my favorite places in the world to go.  It's not an exaggeration to say that I look forward to the Fair more than Christmas or my birthday or just about anything else in the year, with the possible exception of the Phillies home opener at Citizens Bank Park.  It's one of the few places where I can go and truly escape; where I can walk around, eat, drink, see the animals, and enjoy what usually ends up being the last warm and sunny days of the year.

Photo Source: Larry Deklinski (2013) Times Shamrock
That being said, I can't believe that they're going ahead with the scheduled opening of the 2020 Bloomsburg Fair in three months.  Anyone who has been there will tell you that it is an absolute sea of people in very close proximity.  Picture a crowded concert mosh pit moving in a massive herd through aisles of shops and vendors and in and out of buildings.  If you wanted an example of the polar opposite of social distancing, you would have to look long and hard to find a better example than the Bloomsburg Fair.

Bloomsburg Fair attendance figures - source: BloomsburgFair.com
The Fair typically draws an attendance of over 400,000 per year.  People come from across Pennsylvania and neighboring states will be walking into a Covid-19 petri dish over a nine day span.  They will then spread out across the region to return to their homes, schools and workplaces - all in a time frame that coincides with the beginning of the school year and Fall temperatures that nearly all of the experts predict will be the start of a second wave of the virus (assuming the first wave actually comes to a stop at some point).  Furthermore, Bloomsburg Fairground officials have made it clear on their social media platforms that they do not intend to require protective masks for vendors or visitors to the Fair.

Holding this event in a country that has become the epicenter of an ongoing global pandemic is MADNESS.

Best of luck to you all.  I will not be attending this year.

Jun 25, 2020

Streaming In The Forest


Depeche Mode
Live From Home (2020)
At 3pm today, Live Nation will be streaming the last concert from Depeche Mode's Global Spirit Tour.  The show was held on July 28th, 2018 at The Waldb├╝hne in Berlin, Germany.  The concert video will also be released along with an album and documentary about the band in the Spirits In The Forest DVD set which will be available starting Friday.


Here is the setlist for the concert stream tomorrow:
  1. Going Backwards  
  2. It's No Good
  3. A Pain That I'm Used To
  4. Useless
  5. Precious
  6. World In My Eyes
  7. Cover Me
  8. The Things You Said
  9. Insight
  10. Poison Heart
  11. Where's The Revolution
  12. Everything Counts
  13. Stripped
  14. Enjoy The Silence
  15. Never Let Me Down Again
  16. I Want You Now
  17. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
  18. Walking In My Shoes
  19. Personal Jesus
  20. Just Can't Get Enough

Jun 24, 2020

Take Me Home To The Ballgame


MLB and the MLB Players Association have announced the plan to start the 2020 baseball season.  The players are scheduled to report to their home ballpark on July 1st for spring summer training.  They are planning for a 60 game regular season that will begin on July 23rd or 24th and end on September 27th.

Quite frankly, I think this is a mistake.  I love baseball more than just about anything this world has ever invented, but I find the idea that the game can continue during a global pandemic in the country that has become the epicenter of Covid-19 is wishful thinking at best.  The pattern I've seen in social behavior regarding the pandemic is that people and organizations in this country fail to take the virus as seriously as they should until it affects them directly.  That is to say, until a person is forced to fight for their life, or until they see a member of their immediate family taken by the virus, the average American tends to brush the idea off as just another risk they take in their lives, no different than the risk of a car accident when they drive to work.  They are mistaken, and it's a mistake that will cost many more lives before the first history book is written on our response to Covid-19.  Unfortunately, I believe that our impatience and arrogance as a country is going to extend the threat within our borders for many months after the rest of the world is able to return to their pre-pandemic way of life.  The European Union is already working towards a plan to ban travelers from the United States until further notice as a result of our reckless handling of the pandemic, and I don't blame them.  If I were them, I would ban us too.

Alright, I've said what I wanted to say about the virus and I won't harp on it any further - at least not today.

One positive that has come out of the negotiations between the players and the owners is that they will stick to the March agreement regarding player salary.  In other words, the team owners will have to pay the players 100% of their pro-rated salary instead of expecting them to risk their health and their careers for a fraction of their contract.  There will also be a number of changes to the structure of the game, including the following:

  • The National League will implement the designated hitter rule.
  • Extra inning games will be shortened by placing the batter who made the final out of the previous inning on second base to start the 10th inning (and any innings that follow).
  • Teams will play against their division rivals and against their geographic counterparts in the opposing league (in other words: East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West).
  • Each team will begin the season with a 30 man roster.  After two weeks, it will be reduced to a 28 man roster.  After four weeks, it will be reduced again to the 26 man roster for the rest of the regular season.
  • There will be a 10 day and 45 day IL for injuries, and a separate IL with no minimum or maximum days for players who test positive or show symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Games that are postponed due to a rain delay will pick up where they left off when the game is resumed, regardless of how many innings were completed.
  • Players who are not likely to participate in the game will sit in the stands instead of the dugout and will be separated by at least six feet.
  • Non-playing personnel will wear face masks in the dugout and the bullpen at all times.
  • Players are forbidden from "celebratory contact" (such as high fives, fist bumps, etc) and will not be permitted to spit or chew tobacco.

I love the idea of a Universal DH.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to most aspects of the game, but I've always disliked the idea of the American League and National League playing under two different sets of rules.  AL teams have had a distinct advantage in interleague play and the post-season since the implementation of the designated hitter as aging hitters who can still produce at the plate are all but pushed out of the National League.  However, I think the idea of starting the 10th inning with a runner on second is asinine.  If they're determined to put an end to extra inning games that go on for hours, I'd rather see Major League Baseball follow the NPB model of allowing the game to continue until the end of the 12th inning.  If a game in Japan is still tied after the 12th, the game is over and it goes into the record books as a tie.  It works in the NHL, and it would work just fine in MLB. 

Here are the dates and deadlines for the 2020 season as they stand today:

  • Transaction freeze end: June 26th
  • Opening day: July 23rd or 24th
  • Trade deadline: August 31st
  • Deadline to be placed on the roster for post-season eligibility: September 15th
  • Last day of the season: September 27th

There are other details, but this is the meat and potatoes of the plan for the 2020 season as it is right now.  I expect that this will be modified throughout the year.  If I'm being totally honest, I have every expectation that the current surge in Covid-19 cases and a second wave of the virus will put a stop to the season before the playoffs are scheduled to begin.  Like everything else this year, time will tell.

Jun 23, 2020

New Faces In A Strange Year


There were 40 rounds in the 2019 MLB Draft, and a total of 1,217 amateur players drafted by major league clubs.  Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Draft has been reduced to 5 rounds and 160 drafted players, some of whom hadn't been scouted since their junior year of high school.

Most of the experts seem to think that the Phillies had a successful draftMick Abel was taken in the first round and is regarded by many scouts as the best high school pitcher in the draft.  The Phillies lost their second round draft pick due to the Zack Wheeler, but they got extremely lucky with their pick of Casey Martin in the third round.  MLB Pipeline had him ranked as the #30 best player in the draft, so getting him with the 87th pick overall was a steal.  Scouts are also pretty high on 6'8" pitcher Carson Ragsdale, who was taken in the fourth round.  Finally, in addition to having a name that sounds like a comic book super-villain, Baron Radcliff has drawn comparisons to Ryan Howard for his raw power.  I hope he makes it to the major leagues for his name alone.  You can just imagine hearing Dan Baker's voice echoing through Citizens Bank Park on that one.


I know even less about the non-drafted free agents that the Phillies signed, but a quick glance at the list will tell you that the team is focused entirely on pitching.  Included in their signings are two ridiculously tall left handers: 6'7" Jake McKenna and 6'6" JP Woodward.

At this time, everyone except Mick Abel has agreed to a contract with the Phillies, and that agreement is very likely going to come within a couple of weeks.  What's far less certain is where these players are going to go.  With the disagreements between MLB and the MLBPA, and the recent Covid-19 outbreak at Phillies camp, the 2020 MLB season is looking like it won't happen.  However, while there is at least a chance of Major League Baseball this year, Minor League Baseball has seemingly fallen completely off of everyone's radar.  I would be extremely shocked if any of these kids play in a single minor league game with the organization until Spring 2021 at the earliest.  That's quite a long gap when you consider that the 2019 NCAA Baseball season ended on June 26th of last year and most high school baseball schedules ending even sooner than that.  From the outside, it seems like this will be the most difficult transition from an amateur to professional baseball career that players have seen in a very long time.

Jun 22, 2020

The Cowboy Rides Away


I was ten years old the first time I saw The Undertaker come to the ring at Survivor Series 1990.  I didn't see it when it happened on Thanksgiving night.  There's no way I was talking my family to dropping money on a wrestling pay-per-view, even if it did hold the promise of an Iraqi Sgt. Slaughter fighting The Bushwhackers, but I rented the Coliseum Home Video as soon as they had it on the shelves at Blockbuster.

When I saw a 6'10" grim reaper come to the ring and destroy "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, it blew my mind.  He was the coolest professional wrestler I have ever seen, before or since.  I never could have predicted that this performer would have the same effect on me at 39 years old when I watched him destroy "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles in the Boneyard Match at Wrestlemania 36.

On the final episode of The Last Ride series that documented his career, The Undertaker announced his retirement from professional wrestling.  It's hard to imagine anyone coming close to the incredible career that he's had.  Thank you for the memories, Mr. Calaway.

Jun 21, 2020

It's As Disgusting As It Sounds


Hubba Bubba Soda
Novelty Beverage (1987)
This bubble gum flavored soda began as a test market item in Chicago before it was launched nationwide.  I stumbled across it one time in my life, but once was plenty.  It was either 1990 or 1991.  I was living in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania called Nuremberg at the time, and Hubba Bubba was one of the sodas in a vending machine outside of Bott's Market.  It tasted exactly like what you would expect it to taste like - carbonated pink bubble gum.  I never saw it again, and I'm not sad about that.

Jun 20, 2020

The Pandemic Hits The Clubhouse


Carpenter Complex
Clearwater, FL
Over the past week, five Phillies players and three team staff members tested positive for Covid-19.  They were all training and working out of the team's Spring Training complex in Clearwater, Florida.  The state of Florida has taken a very lackadaisical attitude towards public safety during the pandemic with packed beaches and an almost total lack of masks and social distancing, so it doesn't surprise me too much to learn that players and team personnel are testing positive for the virus.


There's more I want to say, but none of it is highly positive about the state of this country and it's people, so I'll close with this graph from Johns Hopkins University and my sincere hope that everyone recovers with no lasting damage to their health and quality of life.


As for the talks to restart baseball this year, I'll repeat what I wrote over a month ago: cancel the 2020 season and start working and planning for a safe start to the 2021 season.

Jun 19, 2020

One More Night Of Crazy Kooky Fun


The Last Drive-InSeason Two Finale
Artwork by Justin Osbourn
Hey everybody
Have you heard the news
Joe Bob is back in town
He's over at the drive-in
Hanging around
Watching crazy movies
So come on down to
Joe Bob's Last Drive-In show
Blood, beasties, boobies and more
Joe Bob's last drive-in show
It's a spooky good time
With monsters and ghosts
Crazy, kooky fun
With the world's greatest host
Joe Bob's Last Drive-In show
It's gonna be legendary
Joe Bob's Last Drive-In show
It's gonna be very scary
Joe Bob's Last Drive-In show
Let's go!

Theme song by: Brennan and the Bigfeet

Jun 18, 2020

Nails On A Chalkboard


Lenny Dykstra
Philadelphia Phillies: 1989-1996
The Phillies have historically come out ahead on the trades they made with the New York Mets.  One of the best of these trades happened 31 years ago when the Phillies sent Juan Samuel to New York for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell.  Samuel would only play 86 games with the Mets before they flipped him to the Dodgers in the winter, whereas Dykstra would spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia and was one of the key components in the 1993 NL Championship season.


Dykstra's life after baseball has been significantly less successful than his playing career.  These days, he spends most of his time fighting with Ron Darling and Dale Murphy, but on the positive side, he's managed to stay out of handcuffs for two years.

Jun 17, 2020

The Good Old Days May Not Return


Learning To Fly
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1991)
One of the best rock songs of all time was released 19 years ago today.  It was the first single off of their upcoming album, Into The Great Wide Open, and would go on to reach #28 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Let's hope he was wrong about the good old days.

Jun 16, 2020

Japanese Bonkers With Gummy Bear Bits


Puchao
UHA Mikakuto
These are really good.  They remind me of the Bonkers candy I used to love when I was a kid, but with chopped up bits of gummy bears embedded in the candy.  My favorite flavor out of these four was Mango.  I've heard that they also have fruit soda and green tea flavors.  I'm looking forward to trying them.

Jun 15, 2020

The Ideal Minor League Bus Stop


Breezewood
Edward Burtynsky
This photo has been making the rounds on social media for over a decade, but it's rarely credited to the photographer.  It was taken by Edward Burtynsky, and it's published in his award winning 2009 collection: Oil.  It shows a strip of Route 30 in Breezewood, Pennsylvania that connects I-70 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

According to Amanda Kolson Hurley of Citylab, this massive rest stop exists because of a law in the 1950's that prohibited federal funds to be spent on a road that would take drivers from a free road to a toll road.  The end result is a slow moving stretch of the Lincoln Highway between Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike upon which a wide variety of motels, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants and fast food franchises have popped up.  Catcher Richard Stock called it "an artist rendering of the ideal minor league bus stop."


There's a surprising number of postcards for the small town of Breezewood.  There are over 200 available for sale on eBay right now.  This one from the early 90's shows the same stretch of highway from the other side.  If you look closely in the background on the left hand side, you can see the McDonald's sign that is in the foreground on the right of Mr. Burtynsky's photo.

Jun 14, 2020

The Birthday Boy


Blue-Boy George
Garbage Pail Kids (1986)
This Gainsborough parody was released as sticker #178b in Series 5 of the original Garbage Pail Kids in the 80's.  It was created to honor the lead singer of Culture Club who turns 59 years old today.  Happy birthday, Boy George.

Jun 13, 2020

Wake Me When It's Baseball Season


GamePro Magazine (June 1990)
With team owners holding Major League Baseball hostage as they try to exploit the pandemic to cheat the players out of their guaranteed contracts (and don't let anyone tell you differently), fans are left to get their baseball fix in other ways, such as RBI Baseball and Baseball Simulator 1.000 on the NES.  If you want to truly immerse yourself in the moment, you can go to RetroMags.com and read through old game magazines.  There's no ads (other than the vintage ones in the magazines themselves).  Visitors are welcome (not pressured) to donate, but the entire archive is free to download, including this June 1990 GamePro with a 15 page write up on the hottest baseball games on the NES from 30 years ago.

It may not be the same as going to a Phillies game, but it's better than watching a billionaire steal money from the players while expecting them to risk their health and their careers for entitled "fans" who call them "greedy" for expecting to be paid for their labor.

Jun 12, 2020

It's Not The Years. It's The Mileage.


Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Atari (1982)
The first adventure of Indiana Jones on the silver screen premiered 39 years ago today.  It was followed by an Atari 2600 cartridge based on the film.  It was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw, and is one of the most innovative video games of its time.

Jun 11, 2020

Ready, Willing And Abel


Mick Abel
Philadelphia Phillies (2020)
With the 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft, the Phillies selected right handed pitcher Mick Abel out of Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this pick.  The Phillies Director of Amateur Scouting, Brian Barber said that the scouts were in "unanimous agreement" on Abel as being a "potential dominating presence at the top of the rotation."  However, taking a high school pitcher in the first round is the most risky pick a team can make in the draft.

Source: Richard T. Karcher - Sabr.org (2017)

The fact that shortstop Ed Howard was taken by the Chicago Cubs with the very next pick complicates things even further for me.  I was hoping the Phillies would have drafted him instead.

I hope that I look back on this in ten years and laugh at how skeptical I was.  After all, the Phillies have found success with high school pitchers in the first round before.  Time will tell if Mick Abel develops into the next Cole Hamels, or the next Jesse Biddle.  With any luck, it will be the former.

Welcome to Philadelphia, Mick.

Jun 10, 2020

The Ol' Left-Hander, Rounding Third And Heading For Home


Joe Nuxhall mural
Clark's Sporting Goods - Hamilton, OH
On this day in 1944, Joe Nuxhall made his major league debut.  Pitching out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, he was brought into the 9th inning of a game to face the first place St. Louis Cardinals.  He gave up five runs on two hits, five walks and one wild pitch.  Following the game, he was sent down to the minor leagues where he spent the rest of the season.  For anybody else, this would have been a disastrous debut in the the big leagues, but not for Joe.  He was only 15 years old.  The ninth grader was added to the Reds roster after a number of the team's players were drafted to fight in World War II.

Joe's career was not a blip on the radar.  He made his way back to the Reds at the ripe old age of 23 and pitched in the Major Leagues for the next 15 years.  He was a two time All-Star in 1955 and 1956, and was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame in 1968.  Following his retirement as an active player, he joined the Reds radio booth and worked as a broadcaster for Reds games from 1967 until his death in 2007 at the age of 79.

Three years ago, this mural was painted on the side of Clark's Sporting Goods in Joe's hometown of Hamilton, Ohio.  It was designed by Hamilton High School art teacher Paul Loehle.  It shows a young Joe Nuxhall holding a baseball with his whole life ahead of him alongside the man he would become as the beloved voice of the Reds on the radio for 40 years.

Jun 9, 2020

Mortimer The Squirrel


This is Mortimer.  He lives in the tree in our yard.  Harvey has spent most of the spring chasing him around the yard and back up the tree, so as a goodwill gesture, we now give him apple chunks.

Jun 8, 2020

Matching Mugshots At McDonald's


Dick Tracy Crimestopper Game
McDonalds (1990)
It may be difficult to believe unless you were a kid at the time, but the Dick Tracy movie was one of the most heavily marketed movies of the 90's.  Seriously, this was almost on the level of Star Wars.  It was absolutely everywhere throughout the summer of 1990.

One of the ways the movie was promoted was through the McDonald's Dick Tracy Crimestopper game which began 30 years ago today.  These scratch off game cards are part of my collection of things that most reasonable men of my age have thrown away long ago.  You can see photos of other signs and promotional material from the Crimestopper game from @DickTracyMovie on Twitter.

Jun 7, 2020

Mankind Rides The Phoenix


The Foley Family
Knoebels Amusement Resort - Elysburg, PA (2016)
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley is turning 55 years old today.  Four years ago, the former WWF World Heavyweight Champion celebrated his birthday with his wife and kids at Knoebels.  Their day at the park aired on the WWE Network reality show, Holy Foley.  In this photo, Mick and his three kids are sitting in the display car that is set up near the exit of The Phoenix roller coaster.

I met Mick at a meet-and-greet before a PPW Show in Hazleton five years ago.  He was a very nice dude.  He took a photo with me and signed my copy of his first two books.  I'm glad I met him in a situation like that instead of bumping into him at Knoebels.  As cool as it might be to meet one of my favorite wrestlers at my favorite amusement park, I know I wouldn't have approached him.  I'm sure the last thing he wants to deal with while he's enjoying a day at the park is being stopped every three feet to reminisce with nerds like me about the time that Undertaker threw him off of the cell.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused the opening of Knoebels this summer to be delayed until further notice.  I hope he's still getting some fudge.  Happy birthday, Mick!

Jun 6, 2020

Ernetsuo: The Iron Beard


Ernie the Bearded Dragon
The Last Drive In (2020)
This has not been a good year, but it always gets a little brighter at 9:00 pm on Friday night thanks to Joe Bob and Darcy.  The movies this week were Mayhem and Tetsuo: The Iron Man.  The first flick was great, and the second one was the most confusing 63 minutes of black and white footage I have ever seen, but I could at least attempt to understand and appreciate it with Joe Bob filling us in with the details and an explanation for the plot that I wouldn't have gotten from a thousand viewings on my own.


There are only a few weeks of episodes left this season.  I'm really going to miss this.  Until then, I'm going to appreciate every last moment of a spooky good time with monsters and ghosts, and crazy, kooky fun with the world's greatest host.

Jun 5, 2020

Happy National Donut Day


Mister Donut coupons
Standard Speaker (1986-1987)
The first Friday in June is recognized as National Donut Day.  The TV Showtime insert in our local paper in Hazleton would occasionally include these coupons for Mister Donut.  The one on top is for Smidgets, which was their version of Munchkins.  These coupons won't do you much good in 2020, but if you can find a Mister Donut restaurant or a time machine, you're welcome to try.