Jul 31, 2015

Say Goodbye To Hollywood


In his last start six days ago, Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs.  Sadly, it will end up being his final start in a Phillies uniform as he was traded to the Texas Rangers earlier today.

The Phillies ended up getting a pretty decent haul in return, including three of the Rangers top 10 prospects and a veteran starter who may take Hamels place in the rotation when he comes off of the disabled list.  I hate to see Hamels go, but there's reason to be optimistic for the future.

Jul 27, 2015

It's Hip To Be Square


South Main Street from Public Square (1975)
Wilkes-Barre, PA
The building on the left is now Dunkin Donuts.  The Woolworth's is now a Barnes & Noble that also has the Wilkes University and King's College campus bookstore.  To the left of Woolworth's is Boscov's.  The Kresge store has been a bunch of different things over the years.  I believe it's a bar today.

Jul 26, 2015

Congratulations, Pedro Martinez


Earlier today, the 2015 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame were inducted in Cooperstown.  Among them was my favorite pitcher, Pedro Martinez.

Although he'll always be associated in the eyes of fans in a Red Sox uniform, Pedro ended his career in a Phillies uniform in 2009.  He pitched well in the half-season he spent in Philadelphia, going 5 - 1 and pitching well in the playoffs, including 7 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS.

The photo above was taken on September 13th, 2009.  We went to a day / night double header at Citizen's Bank Park against the Mets, and Pedro was the starting pitcher in the night game.  It was a memorable evening.  Tony Danza sang the National Anthem, and my favorite pitcher took the mound against our most hated rivals and his former team.

As excited as I was to get to see Pedro pitch in person, I never could have predicted how dominant he would be.  Pedro threw 130 pitches, struck out 7, and shut down the Mets over 8 scoreless innings.  Ryan Madson came in for the save in the 9th inning and locked down the game for the Phillies.  This was Pedro's fifth win of the season, and the 219th win of his career.  Although I didn't know it at the time, this would be the final win of his career.

Congratulations, Mr. Pedro Martinez - one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the game.  Thank you for your contribution to this game, and for your short, but memorable time in Philadelphia - especially that one September night.

Jul 19, 2015

The Best Garbage A Quarter Could Buy


Garbage Pail Kids
Topps (1985)
Photos taken in and around Hazleton, PA (1987)
I still remember where I was when I got my first Garbage Pail Kid.  I was five years old and my parents friends came over to visit, bringing their two children with them - a girl who was a year older than me, and a boy who was a year younger.  I don't remember the names of the kids, but the girl giving me my first Garbage Pail Kids sticker somehow burned itself into my memory.  It was card #41b - Joltin' Joe.  It was the start of an obsession that lasted throughout my elementary school years.

A pack of stickers was only a quarter, so I ended up getting some any time we went to the grocery store or stopped at Pantry Quik.  The Bloomsburg Fair was where I really hit the jackpot and scored a few rack packs.  I saved the cards in a shoebox and I used the doubles as stickers that I put everywhere and anywhere, including the pole of the swing set at my grandparents house.  I had the Series 1 poster hanging on my bedroom wall.  I even wore a yellow Live Mike t-shirt.  My grandmother bought it for me from Boscov's, but it took some convincing.  She didn't have a problem with Garbage Pail Kids or with getting a shirt for me, but she couldn't get past the idea that the shirt was intended for a kid named Mike.

Looking back on it, it felt like Garbage Pail Kids were huge throughout the decade, but they were only around for a short period of time, making their debut in the summer of 1985 and fading away before the end of 1988.  Although my family was never bothered by them, parents and religious groups practiced their favorite sport of complaining until they were banned by schools across the country.  The protests were effective enough to cause the cancellation of a cartoon series before it even aired.  It was scheduled to be a part of the CBS Saturday morning cartoon lineup for the Fall of 1987.

They made a comeback in 2003 and have been around ever since, but they haven't hit the cultural mainstream in the same way that they did when I was a kid.  This year is the 30th anniversary, and Topps is releasing a special series of cards that will include characters created by the artists back in the 80's that were never published.

Jul 9, 2015

The House That Burger Becky Built


National Space Invaders Superbowl
Warner Building - New York, NY (1980)
This photo was taken at the New York regional competition for the Atari 2600 Space Invaders national championship tournament.  It has been recognized as the first large scale video game competition.  Frank Tetro won this regional match, but was defeated by Rebecca Heineman in the finals.

Burger Becky would go on to become a game developer with a very impressive resume that includes one of my favorite vintage game collections: Activision Anthology.

Jul 2, 2015

Stainless Steel Thighs


Hillary Clinton Nutcracker
Hometown Farmers Market - Tamaqua, PA