April 28, 2012

Bo Knows Cycling? Apparently

Bo Bikes Bama in Tuscaloosa
Four days and 300 miles later, Bo Jackson's charity bike ride across the state of Alabama came to an end Saturday and along the way, the former two-sport star raised more than $400,000 for the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund.

"Bo Bikes Bama" was designed as a way to raise money and awareness for the continued recovery from storms that devastated Alabama one year ago.

"I hope we can keep this going," the Bessemer, Alabama native said following the event. "The people out there who have lost loved ones, their homes and their jobs because of this storm are going to appreciate it more than we will ever know."

Hundreds joined the former Heisman Trophy winner for the ride, including former Major Leaguer Ken Griffey Jr., NBA star Scottie Pippen and all-world cyclist Lance Armstrong. 

Riders could join Jackson for $200 a day.


April 27, 2012

Bryce Harper to Debut Saturday

According to everyone in the Twittersphere (and, yes, I pretty much mean everyone), mega-prospect Bryce Harper is set to make his debut Saturday when his Washington Nationals take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The move comes after the club's placement of Ryan Zimmeran on the 15-day disabled list.

Question.  If we already had "Strasmas"...does this mean it's time for a "Harper New Year"?

The 2010 number one overall draft pick is hitting just .250 with one home run in 82 plate appearances for Triple-A Syracuse.


"Buckner Ball" Headlines Spectacular Auction


One of my favorite people to talk to in the world is Seth Swirsky.  So, naturally, when I saw that he was partnering with Heritage Auctions and putting his entire baseball memorabilia collection (save one item…more on that below) up for sale, I had to reach out to him.

First, about that auction.  But, where to start?

From jerseys to baseballs.  Handwritten letters to game used bats…Swirsky’s 236 piece auction is full of everything.  There’s a ball signed by both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  The home run ball from Reggie Jackson’s 1971 All-Star Game moonshot.  There’s even one those hideous, collared Chicago White Sox jerseys.

Oh, and, of course, the (in)famous “Buckner Ball”.

I had a chance to catch up with Swirsky and talk about the auction.

HOVG:  I’m not even going to ask you why you’re auctioning off your collection.  The first thing I want to know is this…what was the reaction from your friends and family when you announced that you were selling your stuff?

SWIRSKY:  They were very supportive. As supportive as when I start projects, they were as supportive as I finished this one. 

HOVG:  We’ve all seen the stories.  Everyone used to write about the “Buckner Ball”, but now…it’s all about the Jose Canseco “Home Run Header” cap.  Seth, when people visit the house and look at your collection…what was the most popular piece to your collection?

SWIRSKY: Everyone loved the ball all four Beatles signed the night they played the famous Shea Stadium concert in August 1965. Obviously, the “Buckner Ball” drew a few gasps as did Reggie Jackson's third home run from Game Six of the 1977 World Series. I tried to collect pieces that told stories (and elicit a few gasps!).

HOVG:  Is there a piece you’re going to miss more than another?

SWIRSKY: I love the letter that Babe Ruth wrote when he retired. He gave a young boy some advice: not to take money for things from his parents. To work for things. he wrote, "the most successful men I know started as poor boys". It shows what a true Horatio Algier, rags-to-riches, uniquely American story Babe Ruth's story was.  He came from nothing and became the most famous man in the world and one of the most beloved. I enjoyed sharing his great advice with my three children.

HOVG:  What do you think is going to fetch the most money? 

SWIRSKY: Possibly the letter written by Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Shoeless Joe Jackson telling him that he won't be reconsidered for reinstatement into baseball because of his “throwing of the World Series of 1919”. An incredibly historic baseball artifact.

HOVG:  Of all the 236 pieces up for auction, is there one item that you’d consider a “hidden gem”?  Personally, I like the handwritten pieces…the letters, notes, Pete Rose’s “black book”.

SWIRSKY: The 1912 check written to Boston Red Sox manager Jake Stahl when the Sox won the Series that year. It comes with a Boston newspaper that shows the actual $88,000 check. (It’s) an amazing piece of baseball history and extremely undervalued at this point. We're talking about the World Series check from one of the storied franchises in the history of the game.

HOVG:  Be honest, Seth…you’re keeping something, right?

SWIRSKY: My 1969 Topps set of cards. They were the cards I collected as a nine-year-old. They aren't about value; they're about memories.

HOVG:  I feel the same way about my 1983 Topps set.  I was also nine.  It isn’t complete, but it’s about as close as I could get before the next season’s cards came out.

Seth Swirsky is an American pop music songwriter, recording artist, author, filmmaker and, obviously, a memorabilia collector. His music credits include working with the likes of Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Michael McDonald and Al Green.

Most recently, he has recorded with The Red Button alongside Mike Ruekberg. Their second album “As Far As Yesterday Goes” was released in 2011 to critical acclaim.

Swirsky’s three books "Baseball Letters: A Fan's Correspondence With His Heroes", "Every Pitcher Tells A Story: Letters Gathered by a Devoted Fan" and "Something to Write Home About: Great Baseball Memories in Letters to a Fan" are half of the books I’ve read in the last two years.


April 26, 2012

This Week in Baseball Cards: April 26

A week after it was revealed that Brian Wilson got a Johnny Cash tattoo this past off season, the San Francisco Giants clsoer underwent season ending surgery on his bum right wing.

In true Wilson fashion, he hit Twitter and posted the following.

Surgery was perfect. Borrowed ligament from my ol' pal Sasquatch. Only side effects: hairy arm and I talk like a wookie


In honor of The Beard's new tattoo, and the fact that he now has plenty of time to get more tattoos this year, let’s play a game of “match-the-ballplayer-to-the-tattoo”.

Eric Hinske, Atlanta Braves


Jason Giambi, Colorado Rockies


Scott Spiezio, Retired


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

April 25, 2012

Paul Konerko Reaches Home Run Milestone

He's already off to a great start this season...so why not add in a milestone.

Wednesday, Paul Konerko became just the 48th player in Major League history to reach 400 career home runs when he sent a Grant Balfour offering deep to left to force extra innings against the Oakland Athetics.

And the best part...he did it in grand fashion

The milestone homer was also the slugger's 2000th hit in a Chicago White Sox uniform.  Konerko sits ninth among active players in home runs...or eighth if you don't count Manny Ramirez.


Happy 40th Birthday Chipper!

Sure, he's not the oldest guy in the league (we all know who holds THAT distinction), but I think it's fair to say that Chipper Jones is having one heck of a birthday.

Matter of fact, the Atlanta Braves third baseman celebrated his 40th birthday Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in pretty much the same way he's celebrated most of his birthdays in the league...he caught fire.

Thirteen times, Jones has played on his birthday (April 24) and in those games, he's batted .429 (21-for-49) with five home runs and 11 RBI.  And his team, they've done alright too...going 11-2 along the way!

Oh, about those five home runs.  Yeah...that ties Jones with Todd Helton with the most birthday roundtrippers among active players.  We'll have to wait until August 20 to see if "The Toddfather" can get his sixth.

So, Jones does well on his birthday...cool.  But how does he do the day after?  As it turns out...not so shabby.

In fourteen April 25 games, the future Hall of Famer has hit .333 (18-for-54) with two homers.


April 24, 2012

"Idol" Winner Takes Grounder to the Throat

A few months back, 2011 "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery was back on the mound for the Garner Trojans.  And, frankly, while I'm surprised...I'm kinda glad the dude is sticking it out.

This past Thursday night, however, I'm willing to bet that the 18-year-old might be thinking otherwise.  You see, in the third inning of Garner's contest against East Wake (North Carolina) High School...the country crooner took a grounder to the throat.

Not so cool when you're the reigning American Country Awards' New Artist award winner!

"He took a grounder to the chin, but is OK," Garner baseball coach Derik Goffena told the News & Observer. "Scared him more than anything."

McCreery stayed in the game, pitching 4 1/3 innings for the Trojans.  He left with a 2-1 lead. Overall, the righty struck out six, walked none and allowed seven hits...including a home run. 

For the year, McCreery is 1-0 with a 2.06 ERA.  He has struck out 19 and walked one in 13 1/3 innings.


Kevin Youkilis Joins "The Brady Bundch(en)"

You hear stories all the time about the measures baseball players go to in order to break a slump...but marriage?

Maybe.

This past Thursday, Boston Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis married his fiancee Julie "sister of Tom Brady" Brady at their home.

Now, I'm sure the wedding has nothing to do with Youkilis' recent struggles at the plate and has more to do with the Red Sox having an off day...but it sure is fun to speculate, right?

The "Greek God of Walks" is hitting .174 so far this season and last week, was in the crosshairs of skipper Bobby Valentine.  But, at least now we know why dude was, according to Valentine, not "physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason".

He was planning a wedding, man.  C'mon!

Oh, and because everyone will mention it...yes, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen were on hand to toast the new bride and groom.

Youk's new manager in BeanTown was absent.

April 23, 2012

Tampa Bay to Sign "Godzilla"

After two seasons out west, "Godzilla" has returned to the American League East.

This...according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.

Hideki Matsui is expected to soon sign a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Matsui hit .251 with 12 hrs and 72 RBI for A's last year

Sure, Matsui heading to the Rays won't make that much of a splash, but this is a guy who, at 37,  can continue to make a little bit of a name for himself.

Last season, you might remember, Matsui entered the 500 home run club...but not in the way that you might suspect.  Dude hit 332 for the Yomiuri Giants before coming stateside.

But, still...pretty cool.


April 22, 2012

CM Punk Set to Sing at Wrigley Field

Since 1998, an interesting cast of characters have been invited to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning streth at Wrigley Field.

When the Chicago Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves May 8...professional wrestler CM Punk will join the long, distinguished list.

This isn't the current WWE champ's first time as part of the sideshow at "The Friendly Confines"...last July, the Chicago native was on the field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

More like "take me out to the BRAWLgame"...am I right?


April 20, 2012

Jose Canseco is Back in Baseball...Again

I've said it before and I'ma say it again...I can't seem to quit Jose Canseco.  Sersiously, the guy hasn't picked up a bat and swung at Major League pitching in more than a decade, yet, every day, he's making headlines.

Friday morning was no different.

Apparently, the Worcester Tornadoes are the latest team to buy into the hype.  They signed the 47-year-old slugger to a one-year contract.

"We expect Jose to bring a lot of excitement to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field," said Tornadoes General Manager Jorg Bassiacos. "He brings vast, high-level Major League experience to the team and we expect him to be a very strong contributor. We are looking forward to a very successful season."

I get it...it's a publicity stunt, and the Tornadoes will find themselves in the news.  But let's not confuse that with "success" on the field.

Last season, while the former American League MVP was playing for and managing the Yuma Scorpions he'd send his brother out in his place (allegedly), once put himself in as his team's starting pitcher, brought in octogenarian Tony Phillips and, ultimately, threatened to sue the franchise.

I suppose all of that is better than trolling for ass on Twitter though, right?

Best of luck to all!


April 19, 2012

Ten Things About Fenway Park

When the Boston Red Sox play host to the New York Yankees Friday, it will mark the 100th anniversary of the team’s historic stadium.  You see, Fenway Park opened its doors April 20, 1912 against (coincidentally) the New York Highlanders and beat the soon-to-be-renamed Yankees 7-6 in eleven innings.

Here are ten things you might not have known about the historic park located at 4 Yawkey Way.

$650,000
In 1911, then-team owner John Taylor broke ground on the piece of land that ended up being home to Fenway Park.  $650,000 and a year later…the stadium was complete.  And in case you’re wondering, that’s a mere $15.7 million by today’s standards.  By comparison, the New York Yankees just spent close to $1.5 billion for their new home.

99,000
Without a doubt, Fenway Park is regarded as a hitters’ park…but it’s not for the reasons you might think.  Never mind the short porch in rightfield, it’s the league-small 99,000 square feet of foul territory that helps (according to George Will) add “five to seven points to batting averages”.

47,627
When Fenway Park opened 100 years ago, it could hold 35,000 fans.  Today, a capacity crowd is 37,493.  During a September 22, 1935 doubleheader against the New York Yankees, the team managed to shoehorn 47,627 people into the bandbox.

1822
Of the 28 hitters with more than 3000 career hits, only a handful ever suited up for the Boston Red Sox.  And of those hitters, it’s Carl Yastrzemski that is tops when it comes to hits at Fenway Park.  The 1989 Hall of Fame inductee collected an amazing 1822 regular season base hits at the stadium.

719
In 2008, the Boston Red Sox broke a Major League record by selling out its 456th consecutive game.  Assuming Friday’s game against the rival New York Yankees is a sellout, it will be the 720th consecutive sellout for the team…dating back to May 15, 2003, a 12-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

502
As the story goes, on June 9, 1946, Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams hit a 502 foot home run that crashed through the straw hat of a New York Yankees fan.  In case you’re curious how far that home run traveled, head to Fenway Park and look for Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21…it’ll be the lone red seat among a sea of green bleacher seats.  The original seat is is the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

47
As a shock to no one, the 2005 movie “Fever Pitch” didn’t bring home a single Academy Award nomination.  On the other hand, John Williams has been nominated for 47.  What does the legendary composer have to do with the Boston Red Sox?  Dude composed the official theme for the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park.  Yup…there is such a thing.

37.167
Everyone knows the Green Monster in leftfield is just a hair more than 37-feet high, right?  But, does everyone know that it didn’t start at that height?  From 1912 to 1933, the then wooden wall was 25-feet high and featured a 10-foot high incline in front of it.  Why?  Something had to support the thing and, naturally, a mass of dirt would be the likely candidate.

3
At the base of the Green Monster is Fenway Park’s legendary hand operated scoreboard.  Since it has to be seen from hundreds of feet away, the numbers are definitely a little bigger than one might suspect.  But just how big?  The runs and hits tiles are 16 inches by 16 inches and weigh three pounds apiece.

0
From World Series celebrations to NHL hockey games.  Legendary rock concerts to championship boxing matches…Fenway Park has been the home of plenty of memorable moments.  That said, the 100 year old stadium has never seen a perfect game.  The closest it came was in 1917.  Babe Ruth started the game and walked the leadoff hitter.  Ruth argued the call and was tossed out of the game.  Ernie Shore came in in relief and after that initial batter was thrown out trying to steal second…retired the next 26 batters he faced.

Lastly, and this isn't as much a fun fact as a "look below", did you know that the purchase of the land Fenway Park sits on was recently the subject of a stage play?  Look below!



Jose Canseco is Looking for Tail on Twitter

As if Jose Canseco's routine public Twitter meltdowns weren't bad enough...there's this from The Blemish.


The other day, Jose Canseco hypothesized that global warming could have saved Titanic. Now we find out he’s been trying to hook-up with girls through Twitter's direct messaging system for the past few months despite have a girlfriend (I think?).


Yipes.  Below is his conversation with random Tweetster Jamila Marie.


And if that exchance wasn't bad enough...he went on to hit on some girl calling herself @actuallyAngie. His DM...“Your very pretty how old are you.”


Well, well, Mr. Canseco...seems to me you've got some 'splaining to do since anyone who follows you knows how, daily, you profess your love to Leila Shennib.


Buy Jose Canseco's Cap!

I'd like to imagine that my buddy Seth Swirsky is currently dusting off his mantle, preparing for the arrival of the next piece to his already impressive memorabilia shrine.

Why?

The cap that then-Texas Rangers outfielder Jose Canseco was wearing on May 26, 1993 is up for auction.  And, yes, before you ask...it's THAT cap.

Here's the rather lengthy description from Heritage Auctions.

1993 Jose Canseco Game Worn Texas Rangers Cap from "Home Run Header." Painful and humiliating. And that's just Canseco's recent life. The self-established face of the Major Leagues' steroid era likely longs for the days when the bloopers reel and a sore noggin represented the extent of his troubles. Presented is the cap the Texas Rangers outfielder was wearing as he tracked a deep fly ball off the bat of Cleveland Indians utility infielder Carlos Martinez on May 26, 1993. As Canseco felt the crunch of the warning track under his feet he was momentarily blinded by the sun, turning his head just in time to allow the ball to bounce off the top of his skull and bound upwards and over the outfield wall for an assisted homer. Canseco himself authenticates the size 7 1/2 New Era brand Rangers cap, signing the brim "Jose Canseco #33, Cleveland 5/26/93." Underside of visor holds Canseco's markered number "33," and a small pen notation "5/26/93 used," likely written in the dugout after the game when it became apparent this cap had an important future role in the collectibles market. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Pre-certified by PSA/DNA (autograph). Auction LOA from James Spence Authentication (autograph). Guide Value or Estimate: $800 - $1,200.

To make matters more surreal (yup, it's possible!), Canseco himself is hoping to purchase the cap for his personal collection.

My Rangers cap from the 4 Base Error header is in the Heritage auction right now would be great to get it back hope the bidding stays low

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm kinda hoping Canseco can someone put together the money to purchase the cap.  Anyone want to help the guy out?



***Fist pound to Big League Stew.***

April 18, 2012

"Pudge" Set to Call it Quits

Unable to find a ride for the 2012 season, catcher Ivan Rodriguez is set to call it quits Monday in Arlington, Texas.

According to sources, the plan to retire was conceived after no decent playing opportunities presented themselves this past off-season.  "Pudge" had hoped to get a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, but, well...we all know how that panned out.

The 40-year-old Rodriguez began his career 21 years ago with the Rangers.  Along the way, he made 14 All-Star appearances and brought home 13 Gold Glove Awards.  In 1999, he was named the American League MVP.

Rodriguez ends his career with a .296 batting average, 311 homeruns and 156 hits shy of 3000.

Read more here: http://sportsblogs.star-telegram.com/foul_territory/2012/04/sources-ivan-rodriguez-to-retire-monday-in-arlington.html#storylink=cpy


How About a Holographic Harry Caray?

Now that the Tupac Shakur hologram has officially taken the world by storm...is it time to wonder who/what should be the next hologram to perform "live"?

I think so.

And, apparently, so does CBSSports.com blogger C. Trent Rosecrans.

Since Caray's death (which was actually about a year-and-a-half after Tupac died), the Cubs have had guest singers...it was cute for a while, especially early on when they got big names to do the singing, but now it's just old and sometimes sad.

Instead of just a sing-along with the organ or a recording, let's go with holographic Harry. Tupac cost somewhere between $100,000 and $400,000, and that's just pocket change compared to what the Cubs are paying Alfonso Soriano -- and less of a defensive liability to boot.

Now, I had never thought of bringing Harry Caray back, but if I did, I guess I would have proposed something akin to the Rock-a-Fire Explosion.

But since it was brought up, I decided to reach out to friend of The Hall (and grandson of the Chicago Cubs broadcasting legend) Josh Caray to see what he had to say.

"It would be a great way for a new generation of Cubs fans to know who my grandfather was," the younger Caray told me.

And maybe Josh is right.  Frankly...anything is better than this.


April 17, 2012

MLB Toast? Yes, Please

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "must have"...but I sure do like the idea of it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to a toaster that can, well...just read for yourself.

The MLB Original ProToast toaster emblazons team logos across the face of fans' favorite starchy sustenance. The ProToast's twin slots sear team loyalty onto multiple slices of bread, and its adjustable settings ensure grains with no team spirit also toast to perfection.

Yes, please.

But here's the best part.  The cost?  For a limited time, they're only 26 bucks!

The worst part?  It is only available for 29 of the 30 big league teams.  And so you don't have to scroll through the list and figure it out...sorry, Toronto Blue Jays fans. 

You're out of luck.


Greg Swindell on Brian Wilson: "He is done"

While it isn't yet official that he needs the surgery, Brian Wilson said Sunday that he was leaning toward having another Tommy John surgery on his ailing right elbow.

Wait, another surgery?

That's right, the San Francisco Giants closer went under the knife in 2003 while still in college and while he bounced back from that one...what are the odds of returning after a second such operation?

Well...that's a beard of a different color and it has many voicing their opinions.

And Monday night, former big league pitcher Greg Swindell hit the Twitters to voice his.

No maybe he will shave the beard and crawl into his shell. No way prob will make him feel more important. Which he is not. He is done. DONE

Now, I'm not sure what the one-time All-Star is basing his diagnosis on, considering he never had the surgery, but at least Wilson is a little more optimistic.

"It’s the mental part that can be overbearing, but you know what? I’ve done it once. Do it again. That’s the case," Wilson told reporters Sunday.

Something tells me this story is long from over...and that Wilson will keep his now-signature black beard.


April 16, 2012

Jake Peavy: Party Animal

After a couple of lackluster years with the Chicago White Sox, Jake Peavy is getting back to normal...by partying with normal folks.

You see, back when the pitcher was tearing up the National League, the former San Diego Padres pitcher was known to be quite the party animal as well (see here and here).  And if the pictures over at Deadspin are any indication...he's back, baby!

So, um, I guess that's refreshing.

Sunday night, the righty was spotted out at the Houndstooth Saloon near Wrigley Field.  And, yeah, I'm not sure what's worse...playing for the Sox and getting snapped in Wrigleyville or posing with a half naked dude.

My guess is that the Kangaroo Court will make a ruling.


Another Hall of Fame for Bob Uecker

Ho hum...another year, another Hall of Fame ceremony for Bob Uecker.  Thankfully, this one is more relevant than the last two.

Tuesday, the longtime Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

But what about those last two inductions, you ask?

In March 2010, Uecker found himself enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.  A couple of months later, the former catcher was inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

Uecker was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001 and honored with the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence in 2003.  The five-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year is also in the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame. 

In 2005 and 2009, he was added to the Milwaukee Brewers' "Ring of Honor" and the Milwaukee Braves' "Wall of Honor" respectively.

Pretty cool for a guy who was, more or less, lackluster as a player...and a sitcom star.


April 13, 2012

A-Rod Joins Griffey on All-Time List

Alex Rodriguez started the season sixth on the all-time home run list.  And with one swing of the bat, the New York Yankees star tied his former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. with 630 career bombs.

A-Rod took Los Angeles Angels starter Ervin Santana deep in the third inning of the Yankees home opener Friday.  It was his first of the young season.

Rodriguez now trails Barry Bonds (762 home runs), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) on the all-time list.

Of Rodriguez's homers, 285 have been hit in Yankees pinstripes. The three-time MVP had 189 with the Seattle Mariners and 156 with the Texas Rangers. Only Reggie Jackson and Darrell Evans have hit 100 or more home runs with three different teams.


Brian Wilson Has a Message for You

I'm not sure what evidence there was to support this previously, but I'm pretty sure Brian Wilson is officially turning his body into a college dorm room.

Yup, the San Francisco Giants closer now has a tattoo of Johnny Cash flipping the bid on his calf.  You know the picture...it's hanging on the wall of every rebelous hipster across the country.

Sure, it's said to be "in remarkable detail", but c'mon B-Weez, mix in a t-shirt or a poster...there's no reason to get Cash's finger flippage put on your body.

And now, a quick history lesson about Wilson's new ink.

The photo itself was shot during a soundcheck at Cash's iconic 1970 concert at California’s San Quentin prison by photographer Jim Marshall.  The pose was the result of Cash’s response to the request “John, let’s do a shot for the warden”.

Okay, okay...maybe the tattoo is a little awesome.