February 28, 2013

Hunter Pence Plays a Mean Ping Pong

After an inspirational postseason, Hunter Pence adopted a pretty unique training regimen to prepare himself for the upcoming baseball season.

More ping pong.

“Sounds crazy, right?” Pence told reporters. “It works your fast-twitch muscles. You react. I just got a bunch of different friends and we didn’t play games. It was just rallies, as hard and as long as we could.”

Apparently the San Francisco Giants outfielder has been a table tennis enthusiast for a while, but it wasn't until his brother Howie pointed out that the more Pence played in the off season...the better he did during the regular season.

And after batting a career low .253 while splitting time between San Francisco and the Philadelphia Phillies...Pence was down to try anything.

“It might be a coincidence,” he added, “but it was worth a try.”

Absolutely.
 

 

February 27, 2013

Astros Pitcher Hates Dolphins

Ten months ago, Philip Humber threw baseball's 21st perfect game.  Now...the righty is in camp with the Houston Astros talking about, for some reason, his hatred of dolphins.

Wait...what?

Apparently, as the story goes, the then-six-year-old Humber and his family were on vacation and his father gave him some cash to buy a souvenir.  Humber, coincidentally an Astros fan, bought "the most expensive item he could afford"...an Astros ring.

Then, the family went to Sea World in San Antonio.

“I had the ring on, and we go into this dolphin exhibit where you can actually get the dolphins to come up to you and touch them," Humber describes. “The ring falls off. It’s loud in this place, and I’m yelling to my dad, ‘I can’t reach it!’ And here comes this dolphin and swallows that ring. Oh, it was devastating, man. I hated dolphins for a long time after that.”

Grab some pine, ducklips!


***Thanks to Astros County for the tip.***

 

Joe Mauer and Wife Expecting Twins

When word came that Minnesota Twins superstar Joe Mauer and his Maddie were expecting twins...I'm pretty sure fans from Rochester to Fergus Falls completely lost their mind.

Yup, the guy who, when it's all said and done, might supplant Kirby Puckett or Harmon Killebrew as "Mr. Twin" is about to have twins of his own.  And it does make sense though, right?  Mauer was born in St. Paul, grew up a Twins fan and was drafted first overall by his hometown team in 2001.
 
"Obviously, we're both really excited and couldn't be happier," Mauer said on Wednesday.  "Everything so far is good." 

Oh, before you ask, no, the 2009 American League MVP will not be the first Twins player to father Twins.  According to the boys over at Larry Brown Sports, Denny Hocking, who played with the Twins from 1993-2003, and his wife had twins while he was playing for the team.

No word as to whether or not  Mauer and the Mrs. are expecting boys or girls (or one of each), but, well, I'm sure they'll be born with "great lookin' hair".
 


All-Star Catcher Leaves Team Canada

Alright, I'm not even sure where to begin with this one, so I'll just throw it out there.

Three-time All-Star Russell Martin left Team Canada earlier this week because, well, they wouldn't let him, a catcher by trade, suit up and play shortstop in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Now, I'm not sure why I didn't see this story until today, but let me get this straight...Russell Martin, newly acquired catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates is leaving Team Canada because they won't let him play shortstop?

Ridiculous.

''It's a pretty simple reason,'' Martin said on Sunday.  ''The Pittsburgh Pirate organization wasn't comfortable (with) me going to play shortstop over there. I don't think the Team Canada organization was too comfortable with me going to play shortstop.''

For the record, Martin was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2002 draft as, wait for it, a second baseman.  That said, he never played an inning at the position in the Minors.  In the Majors, he's played second for two innings in 2011.

Which brings us back to shortstop.

Martin, a Gold Glove Award winning catcher in 2007 has played 98% of his games in bigs behind the plate and outside of those two innings at second two seasons ago, the only other position he's played...third base.

So, why shortstop?  Your guess is as good as mine.


Vintage Auction Item Has Sketchy Past

Wednesday night, bidding will end on an 1870 photograph of former big leaguer (and 2012 "HOVG Heroes" subject) Al Reach.

Not a big deal really (bidding sits at a mere $1000), but if you consider that this particular photograph might have been part of a heist...look out!

This from friend of The Hall Peter Nash:

Like everything else in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection, the 1870 CDV photograph of Al Reach and the Philadelphia Athletics was donated by someone.

Long ago, a librarian scribbled assorted numerals on its reverse preceded by a designation Hall curators know well as “BL” representing items in the Baseball Library, the National Baseball Library, that is.  The Hall of Fame does not purchase artifacts and relies solely on the generous donations of the enshrined players immortalized with bronze plaques, their widows, their kids, their grand-kids and even everyday Joe’s who somehow came into possession of something truly Cooperstown-worthy.

Back in 1983, authors John Thorn and Mark Rucker set up a photo shoot in Cooperstown to capture many of these treasures on film for a retrospective of nineteenth-century baseball photography in a Society For American Baseball Research (SABR) publication called The National Pastime. The publication was highly regarded in the baseball collecting community since it featured images of many rare and never before seen images depicting the early game.

Nearly a decade after that photo shoot took place at the Hall of Fame something strange appeared in a black and white auction catalog produced by auctioneer Rob Lifson, then of Hoboken, New Jersey. It appeared to be the exact same CDV of Al Reach’s Philadelphia team that Thorn and Rucker had captured on film in 1983.

The auction catalog photograph was extremely small but visible was a tell-tale surface scratch on the vintage albumen photograph identical to the one found on the contact sheet from the Hall of Fame shoot. In his lot description Lifson wrote, “Extremely small abrasion on reverse and a single insignificant scratch in brown background are the only imperfections that keep this card from being Mint.”

You can check out Nash's entire critique (and see the evidence) of the Reach photograph over at his site Hauls of Shame.


Cubs Ban (Some) Celebs from Booth

Last season, the Chicago Cubs decided to add a new scoreboard (gasp!) and this year, well...they're continuing with the changes.

The team announced Wednesday that the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" will no longer be the hodge podge of random celebrities it has turned into. 

"I think the last couple of years we had gotten away to a couple of people who weren't tied to Chicago," said Jim Oboikowitch, the Cubs in-game programming director.

The new plan calls for local Chicago celebrities and former Cubs players to sing the song onetime broadcaster Harry Caray made famous.  Essentially, they're going to try and create more of a "who's who" rather than a "who's that" mentality when it comes to lending the microphone to visitors.

"They're always exciting for people to see," Oboikowitch added, "to have them back and relive some of the glory."

That said, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka might not be the answer.


February 26, 2013

Dodgers to Broadcast in Korean

The Los Angeles Dodgers are about to become trilingual.

When their new contract with Time Warner Cable takes effect prior to next season, the Dodgers will become the first team in the Majors to broadcast in three, count 'em, three different languages...English, Spanish and Korean.

And it makes sense, too...Los Angeles is a pretty Korean-friendly city.

Team co-owner Todd Boehly said the Dodgers have shared “lots of details” with MLB without delivering a copy of the actual contract. The 25-year deal with Time Warner is believed to be worth between $7 billion and $8 billion to the Dodgers.

But, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have yet to submit the contract for approval.

We can only hope that this gives Korean pop sensation Psy his second fifteen minutes of fame.


Manny Ramirez...Heading to Taiwan?

Looks like it's time for Manny to be Manny again.  Again.

And, yes, I apologize for using one of baseball's most overused, but it's true...according to ESPN Deportes, the disgraced slugger is has a deal in place to join the EDA Rhinos of the China Professional League.

"It will be a new experience, experience another culture while I keep doing what I love and all I've done in my life, playing baseball," Ramirez said.

Apparently the agreement won't be completed until March 7 because, well, dude is still holding out hope that he gets a deal from a Major League team.

Man, I can't wait to see if there's going to be a wacky Taiwanese animation about this, because the other one they did was awesome.
 


February 25, 2013

John Axford Owned the Academy Awards

Conventional wisdom would dictate that if you spend enough time on the road as a professional baseball player, you've seen more than your share of movies.

And if you're Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford and you also happen to a self-proclaimed "Film Aficionado" (and film major in college)...you probably had an opinion on what was going to take home the top prize during Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony.

Prior to the awards show, Axford hit the Twitters and revealed his picks for 15 of the categories.  And, suffice it to say, dude did alright.


The only pick he got wrong?  Axford went with Steven Spielberg for Best Director whereas the Oscar went to Ang Lee.  That said, it's probably good that "The Ax Man" didn't take any Best Picture advice from Jose Canseco.


Ooops.


 

February 24, 2013

Andy Pettitte's Kid Throws a No-No

 
Not long after dad Andy got done throwing a 24-pitch batting practice session on Friday in Tampa, Josh Pettitte put on his own pitching display.

The Deer Park (Texas) High School senior no-hit the Boerne Champion Greyhounds 9-0, scattering 10 strikeouts and walking just one.

"What a fun game to be apart of," the 6'1" righty said on Twitter following the game. 

But probably equally as fun...the congratulatory messages the young Pettitte received from his dad's New York Yankees teammates.  I mean, it's not every day that a Texas high schooler gets tweets from CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, right?

Pettitte is heading to Baylor University in the fall having made his intentions known this past November.

"Josh knows how to pitch. He has a great presence on the mound and command of three pitches," Deer Park coach Chris Rupp said. "He is a good student with a good work ethic and will only continue to get better. Josh is very coachable and will be a good college pitcher.”

Last season, as a junior, Pettitte went 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA, striking out 32 in 23 innings pitched.

 
 

February 23, 2013

Josh Booty is Back in Baseball

After being out of professional baseball for 15 years, former first round draft pick (and NFL prospect) Josh Booty is back in the game.

As a 37-year-old knuckleballer.

Booty, who was taken fifth overall by the then-Florida Marlins in 1994, saw his Major League career fizzle after just 13 big league games from 1996-1998.  Now, after winning the MLB Network's reality series "The Next Knuckler"...he's hoping to latch on with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I think that there's a chance, even if it's small," Booty told Arizona Sports 620.  "If you can throw that knuckleball for strikes; it's such a change of pace on what everybody else is doing it will throw people for a loop."

"I'll be following it very close," Booty's mentor, and knuckleball legend Tim Wakefield said following Booty's reality show victory Thursday night, "and I think he's got a real chance of making the team out of spring training." 


"I've got a long way to go," Booty said, "but my wildest dream is to have the chance to take the mound in a Major League Baseball game."

And, really, why couldn't he have a chance.  Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey throws a knuckleball, and not only did he win the 2012 National League Cy Young Award...but he's also just inked a two-year, $25 million extension to do so.

"We don't want to put him out there as some gimmick," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "My job is to give him an opportunity to show what he can do."

To win the contest, Booty, a former quarterback at LSU, had to beat out four other signal callers...brother John David Booty, Doug Flutie, David Greene and Ryan Perrilloux.  And as the winner, not only does he get a shot at making the Diamondbacks as a non-roster invitee, but he'll earn $179.43 per day to cover food, housing and other expenses.

A far cry from the reported $1.6 million he pocketed as a 19-year-old with the Marlins organization.



February 22, 2013

Michael Jordan Offered Baseball Contract

Hey, you know all the hubbub last week about Michael Jordan's 50th birthday?  Yeah...it's still going on.

The Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League have offered the 50-year-old former NBA superstar (and onetime Chicago White Sox minor leaguer) a baseball contract.

“Who knows how the book is written if there was no Major League Baseball strike in 1994?” team general manager Chris Franklin said. “It worked out pretty well for Michael and basketball fans around the world, but we would like to offer MJ the opportunity to write the final chapter by playing baseball for the Joliet Slammers or, at the very least, honor him in a way nobody else has.”

And in case you're wondering where Joliet, Illinois is in proximity of the Windy City...it is 45 miles south of the United Center.

“There are a lot of loyal Chicago Bulls and White Sox fans who I believe would fully support his decision to come back to the game of baseball,” Franklin said. “When he started with the White Sox, hitting coach Walt Hriniak asked him if he was serious about playing baseball. Michael may ask us the same question Walt asked him and we have the same answer he did. Dead, dead serious.”

You can only assume the Slammers are just as serious. 

The team is offering Jordan the league maximum contract of $1600 per month with $20 daily meal money and a host family if needed.  Although that's probably unlikely given Jordan still has a home in the area.  The Slammers would also be willing to provide Jordan with a Loaded Luxury Suite for 23 people that includes all-you-can-eat and drink hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, mustard potato salad, baked beans, cookies and Pepsi products for 90 minutes every game.

Mustard potato salad AND baked beans...how can he pass this up?!?

If you ask me, it looks like the Slammers are throwing a lot out there for a 50-year-old who, in one season of minor league baseball hit .202, but then again...what do I know?

“Again, we’re serious about giving Michael the opportunity to play professional baseball with the Slammers this summer,” Franklin said. “We do have an age limit in our league, but like Nike and the red and black Air Jordan’s his rookie year in the NBA, we’ll take the fine. There are dozens of gimmicks we could throw out there in the offer, but we’re playing by the rules and think he would respect that. It could be one last challenge for the greatest competitor of all time.”

I can only assume Jordan will not be responding to (much less accepting this offer) any time soon.


February 21, 2013

Hall of Fame Broadcaster Hangs it Up

Legendary broadcaster (and former big leaguer) Joe Garagiola took center stage Wednesday and announced that he's retiring from broadcasting.

"I really appreciate everything that has happened to me," Garagiola said at news conference at the Arizona Diamondbacks spring training facility in Scottsdale. "I don't deserve a lot things that happened to me, but I remember Jack Benny said he had arthritis, and he didn't deserve that either."

The 87-year-old made his Major league debut in 1946 with the St. Louis Cardinals.  During his nine seasons in the bigs...the former catcher his .257 with 42 home runs and 255 RBI.  He batted .316 for the Cardinals World Series championship run in 1946.

But is was shortly after his baseball career, that Garagiola's second career, broadcasting, took off.

The season following his retirement, Garagiola began calling Cardinals games.  And in 1961, he begam his nearly three-decade association with NBC.  An association that would include the network's game of the week telecasts, serving as a panelist for the "The Today Show" and, even as a fill-in for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show".

Garagiola would also have a pretty decent career as a game show host.  Some of the shows he went on to host..."He Said, She Said", "Sale of the Century", "To Tell the Truth" and "Strike It Rich".

In 1991, the longtime broadcaster was honored with the Ford Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was inducted into the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Yup.  That's a thing.  Sure, not as prestigious...but still pretty cool.

Oh, and he's got a beautiful "head of skin".


February 19, 2013

Brian McRae to Appear in Horror Movie

The randomness of the internet...oh, how I love it so!

I mean, where else could you find a common thread between a low budget horror movie, current Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and former Major Leaguers Brian McRae, Billy Sample and Jim Leyritz?

Oh, and that "common thread" I referred to?  It's none other than the new indie film "Gravedigger" which, spectacularly enough, features what Dread Central referred to as the "oddest cast ever assembled".

Currently filming is 2013’s most gruesome tale of fear and fright, Gravedigger. A sinister collaboration among the minds of award-winning actor Keith Collins (Stuck in the Middle, The Meat Puppet), Doug Bollinger (Waltzing Anna), and Brandon Ruckdashel (“Co-ed Confidential”) and from the eerie ink of NY Emmy-award winning writer Joseph Pepitone and his brother, Billy Pepitone (Stuck in the Middle), Gravedigger is a horrifying shockfest that will keep you on the edge of your seat and the brink of insanity throughout a terrifying journey of paranoia.

Yeah...I have no clue who any of those people are.  That said, I wonder how many low budget horror movie write ups include the line "(insert year here's) most gruesome tale of fear and fright" or "horrifying shockfest"? 

In the meantime, feel free to check out "Gravedigger" over on the Facebooks

And, yes, in case you were wondering, they are making a gravedigger movie without adding Richie Hebner to the cast.  Wait...perhaps it is a biopic.




Pedro Plunked 'Em...on Purpose!

 
Simply put, there are certain Major Leaguers that if you put a microphone in front of them...I will listen.

Monday, former pitching great Pedro Martinez, the Boston Red Sox newly minted special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, was front and center answering reporter's questions. 

And, suffice it to say, I would have loved to have been there to listen because,according to Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe, there were some gems.  Especially when the subject of teaching young pitchers the value of being able to pitch inside was brought up.


"I  think it's all part of the game. You have to pitch inside and you have to brush them back when you have to," the three-time Cy Young Award winner said.  "I will preach it and I will say they need to pitch inside if they want to have success."

But the best part, Martinez added that "90 percent" of the batters he plunked...he did it on purpose.  Retaliation for his teammates he maintains.

Oh, and about that 2003 incident with Karim Garcia of the New York Yankees?  Martinez claims that wasn't on purpose.

"It didn't even hit him, it hit the bat," Martinez added.  "Lucky bastard."

 Suuuuuuure.
 

February 18, 2013

Lance Berkman Doesn't Need a Glove

Lance Berkman is being a little presumptuous, isn't he?

The newly acquired Berkman is so confident he's the Texas Rangers full-time designated hitter, he didn't even bother to bring a glove to Spring Training.

"For 12 years I never had to worry about it because the equipment guy in Houston just packed up my locker and it showed up in spring training," Berkman told reporters Friday. "I forget, this is an oversight on my part because I'm fairly new at this switching team's thing, but I forgot to have them have a glove here. It wasn't on purpose. I have plenty at the house."

A mistake, I get it, but hold on...Berkman broke out the old "equipment guy in Houston" story?

Really?!?

First off, this is Berkman's third team (the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals being the other two) since leaving Houston in 2010.  And, since "Big Puma" dude last suited up for the Astros on July 28, 2010, he has played in the field 178 times.

And my guess...he was wearing a glove.


February 17, 2013

Auction House Pulls Fake Baseballs Off The Block

If you follow the memorabilia scene at all, you know that there were a pair of pretty high profile baseballs coming up for auction.

First, the ball that purportedly made the final out of the 1917 World Series and the other...a baseball signed by Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig.  Unfortunately, both balls have been revealed to possibly be fakes.

According to the New York Post, both balls were manufactured years after their consigners claim.

“There are some questions on the balls’ stamping, and to err on the side of caution, we removed them from the sale,” Heritage Auction’s director of sports auctions, Chris Ivy said.

Oh, and the dude at the forefront of the investigation?  None other than Hall contributor Peter Nash from Hauls of Shame.  Among his findings...stamping that dates the 1917 World Series ball to no earlier than 1926 and an inconsistency in the number of stitches (116 versus 108). Also...Heritage claims to have already sold the ball that made the final out of the 1917 World Series this past May.  Oops.

I encourage you to read Nash's full piece on how/why the 1917 ball is a sham.

"While I think it's great that the auction has pulled the bogus balls they are still offering an important document stolen from the Hall of Fame," Nash said late Saturday night after finding out the two baseball's had been removed from the auction. 


And about that other ball?  You know...the one that Lou Gehrig supposedly signed.

Nash says that the ball, which was, by his account, manufactured after 1940, would likely not have been able to have been signed by the New York Yankees legend.  You'll recall, Gehrig retired in 1939 and by 1940, his signature would not have been legible at all.


The Gehrig ball was expected to fetch more than $25,000 while the last bid for the 1917 World Series ball was $10,000.




Theo Epstein Shows Off His Bunting Skills

When Dale Sveum took the reigns of the Chicago Cubs prior to last season, he unveiled a fun little bunting contest to loosen up Spring Training.

And since Sveum is back for season two...so is the bunting contest!

On Saturday, for some reason, the front office staff took part in the contest in an effort to round out the field of 64 contestants.  64 you ask?  Yes, according to ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers the breakdown consists of 62 players (including last season's champion David DeJesus), a bullpen coach and the yet-to-be named 64th participant.

Alright, you know darn well this thing wouldn't get any mention whatsoever if it was full of random office employees.  Yeah, you guessed it...team president Theo Epstein took part in the contest, beating general manager Jed Hoyer in the first round.


But, alas, Epstein's success was short lived.  He lost to his 25-year-old wunderkind director of baseball operations Scott Harris who, in turn, lost to assistant video coordinator Nate Halm.


"Nate might get an invite to camp on a minor league contract," Epstein joked with the Chicago Tribune.  "That was impressive."

Feel free to click the picture below to see Epstein flaunt his bunting prowess.



February 15, 2013

Cal Ripken's Kid Left Off Roster


Uh oh, stop the presses...Billy Ripken's nephew didn't make the roster for his college baseball team.

According to The Herald, Ryan Ripken, son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., is poised to redshirt this upcoming season for the South Carolina Gamecocks.  The team released their roster Friday, just hours before opening the season and absent...the freshman first baseman.

Young Ripken was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 20th round of last year's draft.  He opted to head to college instead of competing for a spot on a minor league roster.

Last season, as a high school senior, Ryan Ripken hit .377 and drove in 25 runs.

Dave Winfield Doesn't Understand Satire

Apparently Dave Winfield is trickable.

The Hall of Famer proved Friday night that, well, you can't always believe what's on the internet.


Now, I'm not really sure how to respond other than to say, yes, yes, Dave Winfield...you CAN make that up.  You know how I know?  Because the story the ESPN baseball analyst linked to was from The Onion.

And no, I don't believe for a second that Winfield was trying to pulled anyone's leg.  I'm as certain that he thought this was a real news story as I am that he vacations with Magic Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson

And, yes, I only posted that link above so you all can see Magic's sick yacht.  Damn.



Arizona Does the Harlem Shake

I was really, really hoping we'd have more time between crazy internet video memes, but, well...move over "Gangnam Style".

Unless you've seen otherwise, it looks like the Arizona Diamondbacks are the first team in the Majors to jump on the "Harlem Shake" train.

Enjoy.

And, yeah, the best part...Kirk Gibson re-enacting his famous 1988 World Series home run trot at the end, followed closely by Baxter the Bobcat going all Teen Wolf on that golf cart.


Friday 5: Erika Monroe-Williams

Is it just me or are we at a point where the wives of some professional baseball players (past and present) are almost becoming as visible as their spouses out on the playing field?

When I saw Erika Monroe-Williams take center stage a couple of weeks ago on ABC's new cooking show "The Taste"...I got excited.  And why not?  Monroe-Williams on TV meant that every week, we were going to be able to see a little bit of what the one-time news anchor cooks for "The Carson Crusher".

But, unfortunately, her stint on the show was shorter lived than I had hoped.  Tuesday night, after lasting through four of the eight episodes...Monroe-Williams was dismissed from the cooking competition.

HOVG:  Your time on "The Taste" was relatively short lived, but I've got to think you took plenty from the opportunity.  What can you share from your journey on "The Taste"?

MONROE-WILLIAMS:  It was so incredibly amazing and, honestly, shocking that I was picked from more than 10,000 chefs and home cooks who tried out. I really wanted to be on Nigella Lawson's team. I have admired her for a long time and have all of her books. I loved all the mentors and made a lot of lifelong friends along the way. Anthony Bourdain was hilarious, smart and fun to be around...and TALL!  I am 5'10" and even with 4-inch heels, he towered over me. I learned so much about cooking from each and every chef/cook and mentor on the show...it made me a better home cook and gave me great ideas for my website and fans.

HOVG:  What did your husband, former Major Leaguer (and current coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks) Matt Williams think about his wife competing on "The Taste"?  And what is his favorite meal that you cook?

MONROE-WILLIAMS:  Matt is so supportive! He LOVES Anthony Bourdain so he thought this was really cool. Matt doesn't like the limelight, he likes to keep his nose to the grindstone and focus on the work (baseball) and not TV, but he supports me in what I do and that's one of the reasons I love him so much! I think his favorite thing I cook for him is my Lime and Coriander Crusted Tuna with a Coconut Lemongrass Cream Sauce and Spicy Watermelon and Mango Salad that I made on "The Taste. Although, he also loves my meatloaf. He is not a fancy guy and that's another reason why I love him so much.

HOVG:   You've spent a great deal of time in front of the camera over the years.  How did this latest foray compare to your previous experiences?

MONROE-WILLIAMS:  I had a terrible experience with a horrible embarrassment of a show (that I will leave nameless), and that made me gun shy for this project. I was so excited that this was all about cooking and included Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and a primetime ABC time slot with a really reputable production company so I just went for it!  I started out in television doing national commercials before I got into news, then moved to Texas and Phoenix to anchor the news, and I also hosted "DBacks on Deck" with Matt, the Diamondbacks' pre-game show in addition to hosting morning show cooking segments...so I have spent a lot of time in front of the camera and I am very comfortable with it. The television part of it didn't make me nervous but cooking for these mentors with their incredible knowledge of food made me VERY nervous!

HOVG:  I've gotta know.  Who is easier to be around...your fellow cast member from that show that will remain nameless, the unpredictable Anna Benson, or culinary bad boy Anthony Bourdain?

MONROE-WILLIAMS:  Anthony Bourdain was really fun to be around.  He is so intelligent, well traveled and just a generally great guy. The kind of guy you want to sit and have a beer with.

HOVG:  What's next for you?  Where can we expect to see you pop up next?

MONROE-WILLIAMS:  I have some really exciting things happening! I can't talk about them at this time, but I will keep you updated. In the meantime, I have a cookbook that I am working on, my website where I cook, photograph and write everything you see (a huge undertaking!) and there's my new HD video series which has been so fun to do and we are getting an amazing response. Quick videos that show you how to make amazing recipes without a huge time commitment in watching the video. Stay tuned!