October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween...John Axford Style!

Let's face it...people like their favorite athletes.

A lot.

If it isn't carving your pumpkin to honor Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington...it's dressing your kid up as him.

And really...who hasn't gotten theie whole family together to sing the praises of the San Francisco Giants?

Which brings me to this.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford is beloved by plenty.  This past weekend, the closer was even awarded the Mustached American of the Year Award with a record setting number of votes.

So why am I surprised by the number of people trying to emulate the guy?

I'm just not sure.

By here are some pictures of people who did it well.


Not so well.


Creepy.


Adorable.


Gorman Thomas.


And, of course...dog.


Oh...and there's always room for the obligatory pumpkin carving.


Happy Halloween!


Canadian John Axford Wins Mustached American Award

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford accomplished plenty in the past month.

First, with 46 saves, the closer set a franchise record and topped the National League in the category.

Next, he led the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League Championship Series for the first time in 29 years.

This past Friday...he was named the 2011 Mustached American of the Year by the American Mustache Institute.

And, yeah, we endorsed himKinda.

“We are honored to give this award to the Ax man,” said AMI Chairman Aaron Perlut. “Even though he is Canadian, we believe John represents everything else the Mustached American community values: humor, intelligence and good looks. He is also very tall.”

Axford, who sports a menacing Fu Manchu-style mustache, won the award with more than half of all the nearly 1,000,000 votes cast online. 

Second place went to Bob Kevioan of the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio show.

“I’ve been growing this bad boy out for four or five months but I realized now that it’s not even about growing a mustache out, it’s about representing the community well,” said a humble Axford. “It’s unbelievable. To say that a Canadian if finally winning and Robert Goulet was born of French Canadian parents, it helps it become more of a North American award.”

Can someone please go update this dude's Wikipedia page to reflect this honor?


Tony LaRussa Retires

After the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last week, every indication was that manager Tony LaRussa was planning on returning for season 17.

Now...not so much.

Turns out he’s decided to go out on top.

The four-time Manager of the Year announced his retirement during a Monday press conference just 35 wins away from passing John McGraw for second place on the all-time list behind Connie Mack.

And as the news is circulating around the internet...Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay was the first of LaRussa's former minions to hit up the Twitters.

Congrats to Coach LaRussa on a Hall of Fame career, I am honored to have learned so much from a legend. All the best to the LaRussa family!

La Russa, 67, goes out a champion after leading the Cardinals to their second World Series championship in six years.  The akipper also won the 1989 World Series with the Oakland A's.

My pick to replace LaRussa?  Kyle Lohse...as Tony LaRussa.

<a href='http://foxsports.com?vid=184e7ed2-1f63-4ddf-ae74-938a89434aef&mkt=en-us&from=IV2_en-us_foxsports_videosearch&src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Lohse explains homage to La Russa' >Video: Lohse explains homage to La Russa</a>

October 26, 2011

Yup..."Baseball Wives"

I guess it was bound to happen, right?

Given the success (I guess?) of its other "wives" shows ("Basketball Wives", "Mob Wives", etc.)...VH1 has announced their latest venture.

Yup..."Baseball Wives".

The cast includes Anna Benson (wife of pitcher Kris Benson), Tanya Grace (ex-wife of former first baseman and legendary "slump buster" Mark Grace), Chantel Kendall (ex-wife of catcher Jason Kendall), Brooke Villone (wife of journeyman reliever Ron Villone) and Jordana Lenz (girlfriend of Nyjer Morgan).

Now, I have zero plans to watch this thing and, I'll be honest, I enjoy my fair share of garbage on television.

But until they can get me a show where Kelly Ripken addresses the rumors of her and Kevin Costner almost busting up Cal's consecutive games streak...count me out.

Season two maybe? Fingers crossed.

Of course, if you can't wait until this inevitable piece of shit to premiere on November 30, you can hit up one of the four thousand slideshows Bleacher Report has dedicated to Baseball "WAGS".

Kill me now.

Is Ryne Sandberg Next in Line in Chicago?

Here we go again.

First...it was Theo Epstein being spotted at a Starbucks.  And we all saw how that played out.

Now...it's Hall of Famer and Chicago Cubs great Ryne Sandberg walking the streets of the Windy City.

"We were coming back from lunch, walking east on Walton toward Michigan Avenue," lifelong Cubs fan Frank Mark told the Chicago Tribune. "All of a sudden, I see three people, two ladies and a guy. I eyeballed the guy and said, 'Holy smoke, that's Sandberg.' I'm 99 percent sure it was him. He had the same build, the same slick-backed hair."

To make matter worse...Sandberg also reportedly dined Tuesday night at Japonais.

And we all know how the former second baseman loves his "signature Japanese cuisine that seamlessly fuses innovative presentations, flavors and ingredient pairings."

So...what are the odds of the Hall of Famer becoming Epstein's main man?

"I think there'd be a better chance of Ryno becoming a base coach or something like that. They have to get the Mike Quade question answered first," CSNChicago.com's Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney weighed in after the Epstein press conference Tuesday.

The new Cubs president  interviewed Sandberg for Boston's Triple-A managing job in Pawtucket last year after Quade beat out Sandberg for the Cubs' top job. Sandberg turned it down since he had already had committed to a similar job within the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

Wake me up when Ron Cey comes waddling out of the Lincoln Park Zoo.


October 25, 2011

Mr. Holland's Mustache

St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has been called a lot of things: bright, shrewd, sharp, a hilarious jokester, and a swell square dancer.

Possibly we should add "ignorant" to that list.

Allow friend of The Hall (and chairman of the American Mustache Institute) Dr. Aaron Perlut explain.

About a year ago, I wrote that I had asked Mozeliak whether he was concerned about the lack of mustaches on the Cardinals and the impact that it's having on overall team performance.

He calmly looked at me, seated to the side of the room wearing a large afro wig, tuxedo t-shirt, and plastic red shoes...and then looked back to the rest of the audience and simply said "No."

He moved on as if it was a non-factor, a joke.

Enter Derek Holland, and his lower nose accoutrement.

In Game Four of the 2011 World Series, the Texas Rangers' Mustached American southpaw threw two-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 and even things at two-all.

Holland and his luxurious lip sweater struck out seven, walked two and never was in trouble...coming within two outs of pitching the first complete-game shutout in the World Series since Jose Beckett's gem for Florida to clinch the 2003 title at Yankee Stadium.

FOX Sports analyst Tim McCarver noted during the network's coverage, "The mustache is very important."

Opposing player David Freese of the Cardinals said of the Hollandstache, "I love it. It adds some character. It might even add a little bit to that sinker."

Ironically, I received multiple text messages during the game asking me what I thought of Mr. Holland's Mustache, suggesting it was a "bad" mustache. I simply reminded them that there is no such thing as a bad mustache...just bad people who do not own, nor operate, mustaches.

Mozeliak, a scarf-wearing bare-faced mortal, fails to recognize the impact the Mustache Factor has had on his ballclub, as well as on Major League Baseball altogether.

Consider this:

FACT: Jason Giambi's career was near dead in 2007, until he grew his mouth umbrella and nearly made the all-star team.

FACT: In 2009, the Cardinals grew team mustaches and finished in first place with 91 victories and made the playoffs. In 2010, minus any team mustaches with the exception of stalwart Jason LaRue, the team won 86 games and did not qualify for postseason play.

FACT: In 2009, a densely mustached Brendan Ryan was playing all-star caliber baseball. In 2010, minus the lip cabana, his fall was embarrassing and precipitous.

FACT: In 2009, Rick Ankiel was hitting .70 higher with nasal foliage. The moment he shaved it, his batting average dropped voluminously and then he was hurt crashing into the outfield wall whereas a mouth brow would have cushioned the blow.

FACT: Prior to the 2010 season, Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano's career was virtually dead. With a furrowed upper lip, he won 17 games, which he shaved in 2011 and floundered once again.

Science, good looks nor historical data simply doesn't lie, and John Mozeliak would be well-served to become a greater student of history, as well as purchasing an afro wig, tuxedo shirt, and plastic red shoes, and to consider the Mustache Factor this offseason as he's rebuilding his club.


Obligatory Football Post...Part Two

As the NFL season continues to chug along...it's time to, again, break out the obligatory football post.  The Hall has randomly hooked up with Brian Tinsman from the Washington Redskins to bring to you, yes, you...the "Redskins Hall of Very Good".

Here's Brian's second installment!
The Washington Redskins have gotten a lot of attention from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recent years. In the last four years alone, the team has celebrated the inductions of Darrell Green, Art Monk, Russ Grimm and now Chris Hanburger in 2011.

Each player, however, had to wait more than the minimum fives years before being inducted. Hanburger alone had to wait 28 years.

Today we continue a multi-part series on Very Good Redskins and why they might possibly belong in Canton.

Len Hauss, Center
Career: 1964-1977, Redskins: 1964-1977

Why: Hauss was a dominant offensive lineman in the late 1960s and 70’s, earning five Pro Bowls in seven years. He protected great Redskins quarterbacks Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer and Joe Theismann in his career, ensuring their success.

Here’s Why Not: His impact will never be fully appreciated as he didn’t play for a champion Redskins team, but that does not detract from his own performance as a player. He has some accolades as a player, but again, does not have the historical impact necessary for the Hall of Fame.

What do you think?

 Brian Tinsman is a graduate of Marymount University and works in the front office for the Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder as the team’s associated writer and chief team blogger.


John Axford to Attend Annual 'Stache Bash

This just in from our friends at The American Mustache Institute.

With final preparations underway for ‘Stache Bash 2011 in Chicago, presented by Miller Lite, Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford has announced that he will attend the charitable event on Friday, Oct. 28 in Chicago, hoping to win the “Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year” award.

“My mustache and I are rather confident that we’ll prevail as the Goulet award winner, and I owe it to the Mustached American community to attend ‘Stache Bash in hopes of winning,” said the ruggedly rugged Axford, who will lead his own Movember team.

“I have my handsome mouth escarpment on a special diet of nuts, berries, and Canadian sausages in preparation for this epic event.”

‘Stache Bash, where the Goulet will be named, will kick off the Movember, the global moustache-growing charity campaign raising awareness and funds for cancers affecting men. In the U.S., Movember funds benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The Goulet award is not a best mustache contest but recognizes the person who best-represents or contributes to the Mustached American community over the past year. And clearly, despite being a Communist Canadian, Axford has distinguished himself in 2011.

“It would be a tremendous honor to become the first Canadian to win an American award named after another Canadian that represents the Mustached American people in the most North American manner,” added Axford.

During the 2010 baseball season, Axford burst onto the scene, mustache firmly entrenched upon his upper lip, and became an instant celebrity amongst Brewers fans and Mustached Americans alike.

In 2011, he cemented his reputation as the most mustache-driven professional athlete in major sports today, co-leading the National League in saves with 46, helping lead his team to their first division title since 1982, and had a 1.29 ERA in the playoffs.


The "Buckner Ball" is For Sale

25 years ago, a slow chopper went under the glove of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner...and history was made.

Now...you can own that piece of "The Saturday Night Massacre".  That's right, the famed "Buckner Ball" is up for sale (check out the listing HERE) and owner Seth Swirsky has set his prize.

One.  Million.  Dollars.

"I love my collection. I don't think I've ever sold anything from it," Swirsky told The Associated Press. "But that ball, it's time to pass it along, to let someone else enjoy it."

You  remember our good friend Swirsky, right?  He bought the ball back in 2000 for $64,000 when he outbid Keith Olbermann and one of its former owners Charlie Sheen.

Well, I caught up with the musician/author/envy of all men and on this, the 25th anniversary of Game Six of the 1986 World Series...I bring to you the five favorite balls from his personal collection.

And, yeah, you can click on the picture of the ball to get the full story.


Reggie Jackson becomes "Mr. October"
October 18, 1977

In Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson made history when he hit three home runs off of three pitches from three separate pitchers. This ball is the third home run ball that Jackson hit that night. After he hit this home run, people started calling Jackson "Mr. October."


The longest home run in All-Star Game history
July 13, 1971

In the second inning of the 1971 All-Star game, Reggie Jackson, who was a last minute substitution for the injured Tony Oliva, hit, what is considered, through serious scientific analysis, the longest home run ever recorded in professional baseball history.

The ball hit the light tower at Tiger Stadium over 400 feet from home plate and was seen to still be rising. A study done by Wayne State University says the ball was on a trajectory to travel 650 feet!


The Beatles play Shea Stadium
August 15, 1965

This baseball was signed by all four Beatles -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr...on the night that they played their historic concert at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965.


The "Last Ball of Dodgers 1955 Season"
October 4, 1955

From 1941-1956, the Brooklyn Dodgers played the New York Yankees in the World Series seven times. Of those meetings, the Dodgers lost all, but the 1955 World Series. That year, they beat the Yankees in a seven game series and gained the only World Championship for that storied franchise.


And, of course..."The Buckner Ball"
October 25, 1986

Certain distinguishing marks on an historic baseball help tell the true story of the event. After the exciting game, Arthur Richman, the Mets' traveling secretary, showed the winning ball to Mookie in the jubilant clubhouse. Mookie then wrote on the ball: "To Arthur, the ball won it for us. Mookie Wilson, 10/25/86."

You see more from Swirsky's personal collection (and learn about his other passions) over at his website.


October 21, 2011

Bud Selig is Headed Back to School

Oh, sure...could you have come up with a better title?

Anyway, it's been announced that Bud Selig plans to pull a Thornton Melon and return to his alma mater to write his memoirs once he officially retires his post as commissioner of Major League Baseball one year from now.

"One of the favorite parts of my life was the four years I spent in Madison, and I always thought I would be coming back as a history professor," the 77-year-old said earlier this week. "I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to it, to write my book and do what I want to do in Madison."

Selig, a 1956 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, has been generous throughout the years (he's even given more than a million dollars for a professor to teach the history of sports) is being paid back with a new office in the Humanities Building.

Among the items already in his office...a bowl of Dubble Bubble gum, a container of pretzels, a photograph on the wall of the old County Stadium and photographs of Selig giving the commencement address at UW-Madison in 2009.

There is no sign on the office door.

And now...TRIPLE LINDY!


Friday 5: Jeff Pearlman

A quarter of a century ago, the Boston Red Sox were up 2-0 on the New York Mets and just days away from falling victim to one of baseball's biggest blunders.

And while most people just remember Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner misplaying a routine grounder in Game Six...author Jeff Pearlman reminded us in his book The Bad Guys Won! that there was so much more that made the Mets winners.

HOVG: The Bad Guys Won! came out in 2005...how long did you plan to write about the 1986 Mets and what prompted the desire to tell their story?

PEARLMAN:  It wasn't exactly a lengthy process. I was a writer at Sports Illustrated, and I'd never written a book. A literary agent named Susan Reed said, "How about the '86 Mets?" and I immediately loved the idea. That was my team growing up...an iconic bunch from an iconic era. I wish I could say, "I knew from the moment I held a pen that one day I'd write their story"...but I didn't. That said, sure glad I did.

HOVG: I followed the team religiously throughout the 1986 season and, obviously, the stories you uncovered were ones that most of us had never heard.  What is your favorite story?

PEARLMAN: Hmm...probably the flight back from Houston after the NLCS, which opens the book. It was just pure craziness, which you never see in today's game. This raw, carnal, unleashed joy. I always remember Ron Darling telling me about the woman throwing up on their leather outfits. Still an image that can't escape my mind.

HOVG: Were there any stories you couldn't include in the book (legal or otherwise)...that you wish you could have?

PEARLMAN: Hate to be lame...but, no. None come to mind.

HOVG:  A lot of people are familar with the backlash you're receiving with your current tome Sweetness.  What backlash, if any, did you receive from the Mets or their fans?

PEARLMAN:  Very little. Just the opposite. Of all my books, that's the one that has attained a certain cult status. It's among Mets fans, and maybe cult is too strong. But I always have people come up or write me and say, "Man, that book!" Which gives me such great feelings. It's very meaningful, because the book was a genuine labor of love.  Oh, wait, almost forgot. There was one tiny backlash. I appeared on the "Best Damn Sports Show" in LA. My co-guests were supposed to be Ron (Darling) and Len Dykstra. Dykstra never showed up...supposedly he was pissed.

HOVG:  Lastly, of all the members of the team...who would you LEAST like to meet face-to-face in a dark alley?

PEARLMAN:  Easy...Tim Corcoran. He only played a handful of games, and we never spoke. In an alley I'd be embarrassed, because I wouldn't recognize him.

Jeff Pearlman has had a pretty storied career as a writer having written for SI.com, ESPN.com,  Yahoo.com and Sports Illustrated.  In addition to The Bad Guys Won!, he's penned books about the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

His most recent offering, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

You can follow Pearlman on Twitter at @jeffpearlman.  You can also check out his shenagins on the internets at JeffPearlman.com.

October 20, 2011

This Week in Baseball Cards: October 20

It doesn't matter if your team is in the postseason or not...it really is one of the best times of the year. And here with another installment of "This Week in Baseball Cards" is Bo Rosny!

Another great Sully video last week, this time focusing on some infamous moments in Cubs history.  Did Babe Ruth call his shot? Sully says no. This card is noncommittal, showing the Sultan of Swat’s follow-through.


And while the video isn’t clear about the called shot, the Bambino’s trip around the bases, taunting the Cubs dugout the whole way, has got to be one of the earliest instances of trash-talking caught on film.


Sully also takes Cubs fans to task for blaming Steve Bartman for the Cubs losing the 2003 NLCS. His video shows that others, primarily Alex Gonzalez, should get the blame.

I hadn’t remembered just how badly Gonzalez booted an easy double-play ball. And yet nobody remembers him because of Bartman. Gonzalez may no longer have technically been a Marlin in 2003, but he was clearly the most valuable Marlin of that series.


Speaking of Marlins, here’s a link to another great Sully video about the flamboyantly awesome sculpture being made for the team’s new ballpark that opens up next season, which makes it the most interesting new ballpark in ages.

The new brick stadiums that are cropping up everywhere are becoming as repetitious as the turf-covered donuts of the 1970s.

Can you tell Citi Field from Citizens Bank from Busch from any of these others? With their new stadium, their new manager (Ozzie Guillen!) and their bold new logo, I’ll be rooting for the Marlins to win the NL East in 2012.

They'll certainly be exciting!


And remember, gang, you can check out Bo's daily insights over at his site...Baseball Cards Come to Life.

Dwight Gooden is (or isn't) "Dating" Bai Ling

Ask me who Dwight Gooden is supposedly cheating on his wife with and I would have never guessed it correctly.

Matter of fact, you could have tied me up in bloody meat and threatened to dunk me into a sharktank and I still wouldn't have ever gotten it right.

Thankfully, "Doc" hit up the Twitters today and put an end to whatever rumors were circulating.

Alot of rumors r going around about me & Bai Ling. She is my friend just like the other cast members from the show. I am happily married

And to further emphasize his point...the former Cy Young Award winner followed up that tweet with one to VH1, Deadspin, TMZ, Perez Hilton and the New York Daily News asking them to retweet him.

Now, I'm no Robert Littall (what's up Black Sports Online!), but I'm pretty sure that when you hit the interwebs to claim you are NOT cheating on your wife with a certifiably insane actress...you did.

Any way you slice it...the picture below doesn't look good.



Job Well Done Yankees Fan!

I'll let you fill in the rest of the punchlines...but it appears as though a New York Yankees fan found Moammar Gadhafi.

According to the BBC's live blog (and via Deadspin):

A fighter in Sirte has told the BBC his account of the reported capture. Mohammed, a young fighter in his 20s, wearing a blue T-shirt and a New York Yankees baseball cap, said he had found the colonel hiding in a hole in the ground in the city of Sirte. He told the BBC that the former Libyan leader said to him simply: "Don't shoot".

Alright, so if the cat who caught Derek Jeter's 3000th hit received an assortment of tickets, bats and jerseys as thanks for returning the ball to the future Hall of Famer...what can we give Mohammed for his job well done?

NY Post ARod 640x693 Alex Rodriguez gets annihilated by the New York Post


October 19, 2011

Who Wants a World Series Ring?

Let's say you're a World Series Champion...the thought of selling your championship ring is crazy, right?

Then it might be time to lock up Scott Williamson considering the former Boston Red Sox reliever has put his 2004 World Series ring on the auction block.

The 1999 National League Rookie of the Year isn't going the route of Lenny Dykstra, who raffled off his 1986 World Series ring a couple of years ago amid his personal bankruptcy...he's doing it for the kids.

Specifically, Williamson intends to use part of the proceeds to construct and administer a youth indoor/outdoor baseball academy.

"I can die with that World Series ring," the former big league reliever told the Boston Herald earlier in the week. "But if I die and I have this (facility) and these kids, and I've helped make them better people then my name and what I've done will mean more to me than that."

The ring will be auctioned online by Everything But the House though Oct. 25.  Bidding began at just a buck...and is already close to $30,000.

“There’s never been an auction for a player’s ring from (the 2004 Boston Red Sox), and I don’t expect there will be another one,” said EBTH co-owner Brian Graves. “For collectors, this will be their one shot at owning something like this.”

So if you've got a couple extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket (and wear a Mens 10.75 ring)...you might just be in luck.


The Fall Classic Needs Ron Washington EVERY Year!

Alright, follow me on this one.

I'm not saying the Texas Rangers need to be in the World Series every year...but is there a way to ensure that Ron Washington is taking part in the annual Fall Classic?

Last year, we were introduced to seven-year-old Liam Roybal...or, "Little Ron Washington".


This year...it's the Ron Washington pumpkin.


Well done, Shelby Guthrie.  Well.  Done.

Now, I bring up the Ron Washington stuff only to pimp this...your chance to win an awesome DVD collection.

Here's the deal.

Let me know who you're picking to win the World Series (and in what game) and you're receiving what A&E Home Entertainment calls "unprecedented access to the history laden film and video archives of Major League Baseball Productions".

This is a great deal, gang...answer as many times as you can. And as I see it, there are eight different possible combinations!

Answer in the comments section and tell your friends.


Click HERE to learn more about the prize!