Jul 18, 2016

Nintendo Playstation

Super Famicom Playstation prototype (1992)
Late last year, it had been announced that a prototype SuperNES CD console had been discovered.  I would have bet that the story was complete nonsense, but it turned out to be true.  It was developed around 1992 by Sony when they were attempting to work with Nintendo to produce a CD addition to their 16 bit console.  Nintendo famously threw their relationship with Sony away in favor of Phillips, but Sony decided to go ahead and develop their Playstation on their own.

Engadget recently shared a video in which they booted up the console.

Jul 14, 2016

A True Champion

Scott Hall
The Jerry Springer Show (January 1996)
One of the true highlights in professional wrestling that doesn't get talked about as much as it should was when Scott Hall was a guest on The Jerry Springer Show in the months leading up to Wrestlemania XII.  If that's all you heard about it, you might have an image in your mind that involves chair throwing and an all out brawl on stage to promote a big match at the pay-per-view, but that's not at all what happened.

Mr. Hall was working for the World Wrestling Federation in his Razor Ramon gimmick at the time.  He was the Intercontinental Champion, and he appeared on the daytime talk show to meet two young children who were HIV Positive: Hydeia Broadbent (left) and Tyler Small (right).  Tyler was a big wrestling fan, and the producers asked him who his favorite wrestler was when he was being booked to appear on the show.  He told them his favorite was Razor Ramon, and so Scott Hall appeared on the show in character as a surprise to meet the children.  In a moment that was not planned ahead of time, Mr. Hall made the decision to give his Intercontinental Championship Belt to the children on the show.  He didn't give them a replica... he gave them the actual title that was used on television.  In the years since, Mr. Hall has said in interviews that he was worried after the show that he was going to get in trouble for what he had done, but he was told by management that he did the right thing and that the company would have another belt made.

WWE.com staff writer Anthony Benigno recently caught up with Hydeia and Tyler for an interview twenty years after their appearance on The Jerry Springer Show.  They're both healthy and doing well, and Tyler still has the Intercontinental Championship Belt to this day.  Click here to read the article.

Jul 13, 2016

Beach Rest Motel

Beach Rest Motel
Wildwood, NJ - August, 1986
This is the motel that we stayed at when we went on vacation to the seashore.  I'll never forget the smell in the room.  It was a mix of a salty ocean breeze and air conditioning, and it was oddly pleasant.  Once in a while, I'll find myself somewhere that has a similar scent and happy memories come flooding back.

Jul 12, 2016

Jul 11, 2016

Go Ape

Wet 'n Wild Waterpark
Wildwood, NJ - August, 1986
I never rode on any of the waterslides at the Wet 'n Wild park in Wildwood, but the six year old me must have liked the ape on the sign enough to take a photo of it.  Now, thirty years later, here it is, preserved online from a 110 film camera that had Go Bots stickers on it.

All I can think of when I see this photo is Bobby Hill singing "Get wild, get wet, get cool, go bananaaaaas."

Jul 10, 2016

More Beach Rest Motel

Beach Rest Motel
Wildwood, NJ - August, 1986
My grandfather took the photo of the Beach Rest Motel that was posted yesterday.  These photos are from a postcard that we picked up in the lobby on August 29th, 1986.  The first thing my six year old self did when we walked into the room that day was to climb onto the first bed and execute a "Macho Man" Randy Savage elbow drop.  Depending on the sturdiness of the bed, I'd probably do the same thing today.

Jul 9, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr. Saw More Stars Than The Rest Of Us

1996 MLB All-Star Game Ticket Display
Primestar Satellite TV (1996)
The Phillies hosted the 1996 All-Star Game at Veterans Stadium 20 years ago today.  It was a fun night that is best remembered as the last All-Star Game appearance of Hall Of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, but the Wizard Of Oz was not the only highlight of this strange evening of baseball.

1996 National League All-Star Team.
This was the last time that the All-Star Game was played in Philadelphia.  Sadly, it wasn't one of our best seasons, so we only had one representative on the team: closer Ricky Bottalico.  NL manager Bobby Cox brought Bottalico in to pitch the 5th inning.  He retired two future Hall Of Famers back to back by striking out Ivan Rodriguez and getting Cal Ripken Jr. to fly out to left field.  Ripken's teammate Brady Anderson reached first base on a Ken Caminiti error, but Jay Buhner to line out to center to give the Phillies closer a clean inning with no hits or runs.  The National League went on to win 6-0.

Chubby Checker danced with the Phanatic (Getty Images) and Kelsey Grammer sang the Anthem (Associated Press)
There were lots of festivities that night, including Frasier star Kelsey Grammer singing the American National Anthem and one of my teen crushes, Sarah McLachlan, singing the Canadian National Anthem.  Chubby Checker made an appearance and danced The Twist with the Phillie Phanatic.  Local hero Mike Piazza doubled and hit a home run to win MVP honors, and Joe Carter took his booing from the Philadelphia fans with the good nature and respect with which it was delivered.  This was less than three years after he broke our hearts with the walk-off home run in the '93 World Series.  However, few things that took place during the game could compare with the drama that unfolded during the pre-game team photos.

Joe Carter, Roberto Hernandez and Cal Ripken after the 1996 American League All-Star Team photo was taken.
It's not often that a team photo could make the entire baseball universe hold its collective breath, but that's exactly what the 1996 American League All-Star team photo managed to do prior to the game.  After the photo was taken, White Sox reliever Roberto Hernandez tripped as he was walking off of the riser that the players in the back row were standing on.  He attempted to steady himself by grabbing onto Joe Carter's shoulder with his right hand, but his left arm flailed out and clocked Cal Ripken Jr. in the face, breaking his nose.

At this point in his career, Cal Ripken had already surpassed Lou Gehrig's record for the most consecutive games played, but he was still in the midst of his streak of playing in every game, dating back to May 30th, 1982.  The Iron Man was at 2,239 consecutive games at the 1996 All-Star Break.  Thankfully, the broken nose didn't put a stop to the streak.  In fact, he didn't even miss the All-Star Game.  He just popped his nose back into place and went on with his business.  The dude was truly hardcore.

I would imagine there was no one more relieved by Ripken's quick recovery than Roberto Hernandez.  The reliever, who would go on to play for the Phillies in 2004, came within an eyelash of being forever known as the man who tripped and fell and took The Streak with him.

I wasn't in Philadelphia for the 1996 All-Star Game.  I watched it on television from my grandparents house in West Hazleton.  However, I found the commemorative ticket in a thick plastic Primestar Satellite TV stand-up display case on sale at the Hometown Farmer's Market for ten bucks.  The case also had this ticket stub from the Pinnacle All-Stat Fanfest hiding behind the game ticket.  I don't generally collect ticket stubs for games that I haven't been to, but this one is the exception to the rule.  Maybe I'll ask Ricky-Bo to sign it for me if he's ever doing an autograph session in the area.

Jul 8, 2016

Coke In The 80's

I took this photo on vacation in August, 1986 - less than two months after my sixth birthday.  This coke machine and pay phone were in the parking lot of the Beach Rest Motel in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Jul 7, 2016

Crystal Clear Dysentery

The Crystal Pepsi Trail
A parody of the 1985 PC classic Oregon Trail game has been released today at CrystalPepsi.net.  It takes some creative liberties with the decade (for example, the Tamagotchi didn't come out until Crystal Pepsi was a distant memory), but it's a fun game that captures the vibe of the 90's for nerds like me who are looking forward to a return of the clear cola.

Jul 6, 2016

The Final Deletion

The Final Deletion
Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy
TNA Impact Wrestling
I've seen a lot of strange things in over 30 years of being a fan of professional wrestling, but this may take the cake.  All they're missing is a Joe Bob Briggs introduction with Tom Servo and Crow on the commentary desk.

Jul 5, 2016

The Clear Cola Wars

The Sioux City Journal
February 28th, 1993
Click here to enlarge the article.

Jul 4, 2016

The Tab Clear Coupon Caper

Tab Clear
The Coca-Cola Company (1993)
The return of Crystal Pepsi brought back fond childhood memories of another see-through soda from the mid-90's.  Most of the references you'll see online about Clear Tab have to do with the speculation that it was a kamikaze product that Coca-Cola introduced in an effort to eliminate Crystal Pepsi.  The thought process behind this theory is that by using their secondary brand to compete with Crystal Pepsi, they gave consumers the impression that Crystal Pepsi was an inferior product, and by using a diet brand, consumers would think of Crystal Pepsi's as a diet soda (in reality, it came in regular and diet).  I don't know if any of that is true, but I do know two things about Tab Clear: my father loved it, and we drank it exclusively throughout the summer of 1993.

Tab Clear radio commercial (1993)

My dad and I lived in South Florida with my stepmother and stepsister when Clear Tab was released.  Dad is diabetic, and Tab was his favorite soda.  He had an opportunity to try Clear Tab at a demo table in the grocery store, and they gave him a flyer with a coupon for a free 12 pack.  It also allowed consumers to earn more free soda for referrals.  For every address of a friend or family member that you gave to Coca-Cola, both you and whoever's address you gave would get a coupon for a free 12 pack.

Dad gave the address of practically everyone he ever met, and because there were limits on how many referrals they allowed each person to submit, he used every variation of the names of me, my stepmom, my stepsister and himself.  By the time he was done, we had about 40 cases of Clear Tab cola.  The pantry in the kitchen was filled with the stuff, with extra cases stored in the garage.  It lasted throughout the summer and fall and almost until Christmas.

Click here to read the article in full size.  Can photo source: Kevin Trotman (Flickr)

Jul 3, 2016

Right Now, It's Coming Back

Crystal Pepsi originally came out when I was 12 years old.  I loved everything about it, from the taste to the packaging to the "Right Now" campaign with Van Halen.  In just a little over a month, it's coming back.

Jul 1, 2016

Turkey, Chicken and Donuts

There's so much good food at the ballpark that it can be hard to decide what to get.  You can never go wrong with Bull's BBQ though.  It works well for us because I love turkey and my wife's favorite is roast beef, so we can both get dinner without having to stand in two lines.

At around the 6th inning, I got a little hungry again.  I figured what the hell - it's my birthday, and if I want to overeat, I'm going to.  So, I headed back down from the 400 level to find something to eat.

The concession stand to the right of the escalator near the left field entrance used to be the place where you'd order The Schmitter.  It was a steak and salami sandwich topped with tomatoes, fried onions, cheese and a special sauce.  The sandwich was very good, but I'm not at all sad to see Federal Donuts move into this spot.

Federal Donuts has two things for sale at the ballpark - donuts and chicken sandwiches.  Naturally, I had to get both.  The chicken sandwich made from a boneless fried chicken breast that's so large that it sticks out of the potato roll on both sides.  It's topped with pickles, cheese and Rooster Sauce, and it is very delicious!  As much as I enjoyed The Schmitter, I think I like the Federal Donuts Fried Chicken Sandwich even more.

There are two flavors of donuts available at the ballpark: Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Cookies & Cream.  They're sold in a 2 pack, and they're piping hot when you get 'em.  I had the cinnamon ones, and dude, these are really, really good!  This may be my new favorite restaurant at Citizens Bank Park.

Hellboy Takes Down The Champs

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pitching: Ian Kennedy vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Results: Phillies defeated Royals, 4-3

The defending champion Kansas City Royals are in town, so I got to see a rematch of the 1980 World Series for my birthday game this year.  Jeremy Hellickson took the mound for the Phillies against Ian Kennedy.  I last saw Kennedy pitch in a 2008 Triple A game between the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  He's bounced around the league since then, pitching for the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Padres before signing a five year contract with the Royals before the start of the season.

The Phillies have a heck of a lot of natural infielders in this lineup.  Although he's spent his Phillies career in center field, Odubel Herrera was a second baseman in the Texas Rangers organization when the Phillies took him in the Rule 5 Draft.  In addition, Cody Asche is in left field was a third baseman throughout his career.

Caesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco handled 2B, SS and 3B respectively.  This is my favorite Phillies infield combination since Utley, Rollins and Polanco.  Each of them are excellent defensively, especially Galvis, who might be the best defensive shortstop in the game today.  Ryan Howard has been bumped to fifth in the lineup, and if we're being honest, he probably should be hitting 8th.  The Big Piece has been hitting under the Mendoza for quite a while now and is in what will very likely be his last season with the Phillies.  I appreciate all that he's given the team, but I wouldn't be sad to see Tommy Joseph get the bulk of playing time at first base for the rest of the season.

Odubel Herrera led off the bottom of the 1st by hitting a solo home run on Ian Kennedy's second pitch of the game.  Definitely a good start for the Fightins, but the Royals tied it up in the top of the 2nd with a Alcides Escobar double followed by an RBI single from Cheslor Cuthbert.

The Phillies pulled ahead again in the bottom of the 3rd.  Odubel drew a walk, then stole second and advanced to third on a poor throw by Royals catcher Salvador Perez.  With two outs, Cody Asche walked which brought Maikel Franco to the plate.  Franco got an RBI single to put the Phillies up 2-1 and bring Ryan Howard to the plate with runners on the corners and 2 outs.  Unfortunately, Howard struck out to cut the rally short.

Philadelphia padded their lead in the 5th when Cody Asche hit an RBI double to score Peter Bourjos, and again the following inning when Cesar Hernandez singled off of reliever Chien-Ming Wang.  He stole second and scored on an Odubel Herrera RBI single to extend the Phillies lead to 4-1.

Hellickson kept the Royals bats pretty quiet.  He pitched six innings, giving up just one run (in the top of the 2nd) on five hits and a single walk, and he struck out six batters.  Not too shabby!  Edubray Ramos gave up a double to Alcides Escobar to lead off the 7th, but he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning with no damage.  David Hernandez came in to pitch the 8th and wasn't as effective.  Whit Merrifield led off the inning with a single, and Kendrys Morales hit a two run homer to narrow the Phillies lead to 4-3.  Thankfully, he settled down and retired the next three batters to get out of the inning with the Phillies still ahead.  Jeanmar Gomez locked down the 9th to earn his 22nd save of the season and preserve the Phillies 4-3 victory.

Because my birthday is so close to Independence Day, there are some years when I get lucky and get a bonus post-game fireworks display.  This is one of those years, and it was awesome as always - a great way to close out the night.