Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bear Down Sunday Game #11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Chicago Bears are 4-6 and tied for last.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-8 in sole possession of last.  This is another game the Bears should win, but nothing is certain with the Bears.  I will continue my Bears-Bliss connection from last week, by featuring star wide receiver-safety All Alberts.
Alli is one of the best players in the Legends Football League.  She should have been Rookie of the Year in 2013 and she was even better this season.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alli before she even played for the Bliss.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Alli Alberts.  That might have been her first interview ever.  In any case, it started me on my wonderful journey with the Bliss.
It has been a pleasure watching and knowing Alli.  She is a smart player and she plays with the ferocity of Dick Butkus.  Unfortunately, sometimes she has that mindset outside of football which has been known to cause an injury or two (which drives Coach Keith Hac crazy).
I won't go grumpy old man and complain that today's players should play both ways, like Alli does, but I will say they should play with the same level of intensity.  Alli leaves it on the field every time on both sides of the ball.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Bears had such a talented wide receiver who was not a head case?  Also, wouldn't it be great to have a defensive back like Alli?  Dare we dream.  At least we are fortunate that she is on the Bliss.  I am also grateful that is is on Team Johngy, as the picture clearly shows!
Alli Alberts and me in Darien, IL-June 2014.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #198 Marg Helgenberger & Spike Lee

This is a regular feature which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.

Actress Marg Helgenberger was born and raised in Nebraska.  Her first tv role was as Siobhan Ryan on Ryan's Hope, but her longest running role was on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  None of this explains why she wore a Panthers jersey when on a talk show.  The Panthers allegiance stems from a suggestion from her husband when she was filming a movie in North Carolina.  He figured it would to bond the Nebraskan, New Jersey native and their son, the Californian, together to cheer for one team.  That is the history behind this Celebrity Jersey Card.
Spike Lee's Celebrity Jersey Card is a bit more obvious than Helgenberger's.  Spike is all in on New York.  If I searched hard enough, I could probably find him wearing a jersey of every New York team (past and present).  At least I have to applaud his loyalty.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ribbin' With Hardcore Heather

I knew Heather Owens from her wrestling career.  I first saw her live at Resistance Pro.  When I saw she would be at Days of the Dead in Indy 2014, I had to get an interview there.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Hardcore Heather Owens.  
Aside from her in-ring career, Heather cohosts (with Eddie Gonzalez) a podcast called "Ribbin' on the Square."  It is part of the network and it is a lot of fun.  They talk all thing wrestling and they have a lot of fun, as you will while listening.
I am looking forward to seeing Heather today at Days of the Dead.  I am always up for an update from the Hardcore One!
Heather Owens and me in Indianapolis, IN-July 2014.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Johngy Is PsychoBabbling

Mike Preston is the creative force behind, a podcast done in talk show format.  Each show can feature pretty much anything from an Ozzy impersonator to a random assortment of comedians.  In short, PsychoBabble is aptly named.
I met these wackos while on Bliss coverage.  They did not go for the hardcore sports angles.  Instead, they went their own unique way.  With the Bliss, that way is far more entertaining.
PsychoBabbletv is sort of Johngy's Beat's goal.  I have no complaints about my site and my stuff, but Mike and the PsychoBabble crew just take it to another level.
This weekend at Days of the Dead, I will be teaming with them for a bit.  This should be a fun partnership.  We each bring something to the table.  No matter what, this should at least be a unique experience.
Mike Preston and me in Mount Prospect, IL-November 2014.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Backup Catcher Hall of Fame Class of 2013-14

The Backup Catcher Hall of Fame is the brainchild of Cuzz Gekas and myself.  The germ of the idea stems from many long road trips and our interest in all things off the beaten path.
We both have an affinity for backup catchers.  We recognize their value and their lack of exposure and we decided to try to do something to salute the very best backup catchers.  We hope that everyone sees our sincerity, especially the inductees.  We really wanted to highlight these under-appreciated players.
We set up some guidelines for eligibility (which can be found in previous posts on the BCHOF here) and started with backup catchers from our lifetime (basically post 1965).  It is a work in progress.  We know there are a lot of other worthy candidates and we will get to everyone in time.
After three years of inductions, we took off 2013 to regroup a bit.  We have come back strong to announce a new class of 2013-2014, which includes our first "veterans committee" selection (thanks to Baseball Historian Dave Zeman).

To recap our previous enshrinees......

The BCHOF Class of 2010:Duffy Dyer, Bob Montgomery, Bill Plummer and Jeff Torborg
The BCHOF Class of 2011:Ron Hodges, Tom Lampkin, Doug Mirabelli, Mark Parent and Lenny Webster
The BCHOF Class of 2012:Bruce Bochy, Larry Haney, Steve Lake, Junior Ortiz and Todd Pratt

Now onto the class of 2013-2014...
Paul Bako (1998-2009) served as Greg Maddux’s personal catcher with the 2001 Atlanta Braves and the 2004 Chicago Cubs. Bako played 12 years and rarely stayed with the same team wearing a total of 11 different uniforms. He would sign yearly free agent contracts for any team in need of a quality backup catcher. Over the course of his career Bako appeared in 789 games and batted .231 with 24 homeruns. He currently is an equipment representative for Marucci Bat Company in Baton Rouge, and lives in his hometown of Lafayette, LA with his wife and two children.
Henry Blanco is the quintessential major League backup catcher earning entry into the BCHOF in his first year of eligibility. Blanco played for 10 teams over 16 seasons appearing in a total of 971 games (1997-2013). He was the primary backup virtually every year with the exceptions being a platoon role on some terrible Milwaukee Brewer clubs (2000-2001) and filling in for an injured Joe Mauer with the 2004 Minnesota Twins.  Although, his lifetime average was only .223 with 72 homeruns, he boasted a .994 fielding percentage and was known as an excellent handler of pitchers. The Venezuelan born Blanco was initially signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989, and credits Mike Scioscia for helping him develop his skills as a backstop. Blanco is currently on the coaching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sal Fasano enjoyed an 11 year major league career (1996-2008) playing for several teams, but is probably best known for his years with the Kansas City Royals (1996-1999) and his single season with the Philadelphia Phillies (2006). The strapping 6’2, 200 pound Fasano had a lifetime average of only .221, however, slugged 47 homeruns in only 1,109 at bats. Fasano was known as an excellent teammate and a man of outstanding character. While with the Phillies his distinctive Fu Manchu mustache earned him cult admiration of Phillie fans, who began a club called Sal’s Pals. Fasano showed his gratitude by buying the group tickets and pizza. Fasano, born and raised in Hoffman Estates, IL is currently the roving catching instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Marc Hill began his major league career in 1973 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1974 and was more or less their regular catcher in 1977-78 before settling into his rightful destination as a career backup. He was given the nickname “Booter” by teammate Willie McCovey in reference to the term Boot Hill. Hill was signed as a free agent by the Chicago White Sox in 1981 where he spent the remainder of his career retiring in 1986. While with the Sox he backed up Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk. Sporting a good sense of humor, Hill proudly stated that in 1985 he and Fisk combined for the most homeruns (37) in one season by White Sox catchers. Fisk had 37 and Hill had zero. Over the course of his career Hill appeared in 737 games and batted .223 with 34 homeruns.  Like most backups his value to the team went beyond the numbers.
Mike Sadek played his entire career (1973-1981) with the San Francisco Giants serving as their backup catcher. A reserve playing for only one team in his career would be unheard of in today’s era of constant player movement. The undersized backstop (5’9’’, 165) even backed up fellow BCHOFer Marc Hill during Hill’s two year stint as a Giants starter (1977-1978). The light hitting Sadek batted .226 with 5 homeruns in 383 games over the course of his career. However, the Giants desire to continually re-sign him is a testament to his dependability in his role as a backup catcher. After his retirement Sadek worked for the Giants as a Community Representative and Assistant to the Director of Community Services.
The BCHOF is proud to induct our first “Veteran” backup catcher. Charlie Silvera, a World War II veteran, played from 1948-1956 with the New York Yankees before finishing up with one final season with the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees starting catcher during those years was Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and although Silvera had a lifetime average of .282 and an on base percentage of .356 he had no chance of unseating Berra. He even earned the nickname “Yogi’s Caddy”. In today’s game Silvera likely would have been a coveted free agent for any team looking for a starting catcher. He did earn six world championship rings and after retirement became a scout and minor league manager. During his playing days he developed a friendship with Billy Martin and landed coaching gigs with the Twins, Tigers and Rangers in the 70s. Silvera currently resides in his hometown of San Francisco, CA. 

We hope you enjoy our work with the BCHOF.  While it is a fun endeavor, we take it (relatively) seriously and with the utmost respect for the backup catchers we feature.  We truly have a deep appreciation for the job they do and what they have accomplished.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Johngy Meets The Center Square of Pop Culture

I first met Cryptosis at C2E2.  Scott Beatty handled the interview duties.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Cryptosis.
"The center square of pop culture" is a natural fit for "the 316th best source for pop culture nuggets."  Together, we cover a lot of pop culture goodness.  Actually, for Dr. Ivan Cryptosis, it goes further.  He is the "Billy Mays of Hosts, and Curator of the Macabre. The voice and face for the entertainment industry."  
At this year's Flashback Weekend, we ran into our old friend.  The good Doc was talking to fans and catching up with other horror icons.  He fit perfectly at this convention.
Cryptosis is busy in the entertainment industry, but some of his best work is on Facebook.  His thoughts, rants and observations are very interesting.  I encourage everyone to follow him and join the fun.
Cryptosis and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Jacques Baron and Jason Priestley

This is a weekly feature about friends who have met celebrities.

Last week, I featured Gabe Baron and Paul Williams, a bit of an unlikely combo.  Today, I am giving equal time to Jacques Baron and Jason Priestley, another sort of unlikely duo.
Priestley is best known for his role on Beverly Hills 90210.  His resume includes far more than just that show though.  He has acted and directed many projects steadily since his 90210 days.  He even has carved a bit of a career on the race track.
While Gabe eloquently described his interest in Paul Williams, Jacques was a bit less descriptive and far more succinct.
"I love me some Jason Priestley," he posted on Facebook.
What else needs to be said?  Who doesn't like Priestley?  He is a good guy, by all accounts.  Actually, the same can be said for Jacques.
Maybe the two of them are more similar than one would think.  I could see Jacques hanging at the Peach Pit.
Jacques Baron, Jason Priestley and Brian Malone in Rosemont, IL-August 2013.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bear Down Sunday Game 10 Minnesota Vikings

The Chicago Bears are reeling at 3-6.  The Minnesota Vikings are one step better at 4-5.  They face off today, in what could determine last place in the NFC North.
The season is dismal.  The team is underachieving.  We all need something to give us hope.  We need something to cheer up the mood.  We need some bliss in our lives.
Did someone say we need some Bliss?
It's always a good time to feature the Chicago Bliss.  They are the reigning LFL champs (having won the title in 2013 and 2014).  They are a class organization off the field and a tough, exciting, awesome team on the field.
Nobody epitomizes all of that better than Dominique "DC" Collins.  I love DC.  She was the first Bliss player I interviewed at a game and I have interviewed her many times since.  She is a consummate pro.
DC is versatile on offense, rushing or receiving.  She can block, too!  On defense, she is tenacious.  In short, she is a joy to watch.
While the Bears are muddling through today's game (win or lose), I will be recalling the many great moments of the Bliss season.  DC will surely pop up in a lot of those highlights.
Thank you to DC for being such a pro.  Thanks for always being great to us on Johngy's Beat.  Thanks for giving us great memories (especially during this forgetful Bears season).
Dominique Collins and me in Milwaukee, WI-August 2014.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #197 Sophie Simmons & Gene Simmons

This is a regular feature which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  Since the Chicago Bears are done for the year, I looked north of the border for football.

Sophie Simmons achieved her first real exposure on tv's Gene Simmons Family Jewels.  She must get her looks from her mother (Shannon Tweed) and apparently she gets her vocal chops from papa Gene.  She has two famous parents, but is trying to carve her own path.  I'd be glad to mentor her anytime.  As a start, I am giving her our first Canadian Football League Celebrity Jersey Card.
Gene Simmons was born in New York, but his business acumen and talent have taken him everywhere, including British Columbia, which is captured on his first Celebrity Jersey Card.  I would have thought he would have donned a Los Angeles Kiss jersey by now.  Maybe I missed it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Traci Lords Made My Days (of the Dead)

I am a longtime fan of Traci Lords.  I loved her in the campy classic Not of This Earth, the cool Cry Baby, tv's Melrose Place and many other projects.  She is versatile, talented and very pleasant.
Traci also has been known to adopt different looks.  I have seen her as a redhead, a blonde, a brunette and some shades in between.  Believe me, she looks stunning no matter the color.
More importantly, Traci is sweet.  She is one of the better celebs at making each encounter special.  There is always limited time, but the key is always the simple gesture that makes it special.  Traci always does the little extra bit to make it a great experience.
Her fans come in all shapes and sizes.  Her career is so varied, she draws from all sides.  I have met her many times over the years and I have yet to see a bad time had by anyone at her booth.
I applaud Traci for her convention interaction and I applaud the Days of the Dead staff for bringing in such classy guests.
Days of the Dead is not afraid to try different things.  I think the only real requirement is the celeb must give a full effort.  I have met hundreds of celebrities at the various Days and I cannot recall any bad experience.
Traci Lords and me in Indianapolis, IN-July 2012.