Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Jean Parker

Today is Jean Parker's birthday.  I hope it is a great day for her.
I continually say that my sisters are my rock.  I love them dearly.  I know Jean regularly checks, but that is not the reason why I love her (okay, not the only reason...)
There are way too many reasons to list.  She listens to me, encourages me, helps me in any way.  I am lucky to have her in my life.  I am lucky to have her whole family, too.
Jean deserves the best birthday and I hope she gets it.  Happy birthday Jean.  I hope it is awesome!  I love you.
Frank Wroblewski, Jean Parker and me in Houston, TX-Winter 2013.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #170 Darryl Strawberry & Chad Michael Murray

This is a regular series which attempts to combine my lifelong love of baseball cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  The NHL regular season is over and two New York teams finished in last place in their divisions.

Darryl Strawberry played for both NY baseball teams.  On his Celebrity Jersey Card, he is representing the Islanders, who finished in last place in the Metropolitan division.  Straw had his share of success in baseball though, as he was on three World Series winners and 8 All-Star teams.  With that type of resume, Straw should be sporting a Rangers sweater, since they are actually in the playoffs.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Chad Michael Murray is an actor, spokesperson and model.  He has been acting for over 15 years and his breakthrough role was on tv's One Tree Hill.  My favorite #9 from the Sabres would be Norm Gratton.  I am fairly certain CMM's would be someone more recent, perhaps Derek Roy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Welcome to Chicago Shari Onley

I first heard of Shari Onley when I started to research the Legends Football League.  Shari plays for the New South Wales Surge in LFL Australia.  That would be the LFL Australian champion Surge.
Shari plays on the offensive line for the Surge and she played a big role in Bonnie Gillespie winning the league MVP award.  Shari was a force on the line for sure.
I befriended her on Facebook and started kidding her (and Bonnie) about coming over here.  She teased a rumor, but I thought she was just keeping me guessing.  A few weeks ago though, I got word that Shari was indeed coming to the U.S. and specifically the Chicago Bliss.  From champion to champion!
Of course, I had to request the first U.S. interview with Shari.  She politely agreed.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Shari Onley of the Chicago Bliss.
I was immediately impressed with Shari's athleticism, but I was also impressed with her personality.  In the interview, Shari mentioned that the team is a bit more sarcastic than the Surge, but Shari seems to be joining in on that already.  She is going to be a great addition to an already awesome Bliss team.
I am really looking foreard to seeing Shari play in a game.  I have seen her in practice and she is impressive.  The whole team is impressive.  Can you tell that I am itching for the games to begin?
Shari Onley and me in Darien, IL-March 2014.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On the Beat with AliSin Chains of the Windy City Rollers 2014

Yesterday, we caught up with Jackie Daniels of the Windy City Rollers.  In her interview, Jackie gave us her update, as well as briefly explained the Windy City Rollers league.
Today, we are catching up with another of the Rollers, whom we previously interviewed.  That original interview can be found at On the Beat with AliSin Chains.
I start the interview asking about a picture of her in a Green Bay Packers jersey.  Seeing that picture a while ago, lead me to AliSin, who lead me to the Windy City Rollers.  I guess it was rather serendipitous.  AliSin explains the Packers jersey in this interview.  Of course, AliSin also talks about a bunch of other things, including when she thought she broke her hip.
AliSin skates for the Manic Attackers and wears #286 (which she explains in the interview).  She also skates for the WCR All-Stars.  Obviously, she is a very talented player.
In addition to her talent, she is also very personable.  She is a definite fan-favorite (and a favorite).  Did I mention that I love her hair?
Last Saturday, the Manic Attackers beat the Fury, 186-180, in an exciting contest.  Unfortunately, the Manic Attackers are still in last place at 1-3.
The next night of Windy City Rollers action is Saturday, May 17.  The WCR home teams will do battle for the Ivy Cup.  This promises to be another fantastic night.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the Beat with Jackie Daniels of the Windy City Rollers 2014

Scheduling conflicts prevented from returning sooner to see the Windy City Rollers.  Believe me, it wasn't for lack of interest.
As i have previously written, I remember roller derby from the old days, which featured theatrics over athletics.  When I stumbled upon the Windy City Rollers, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this roller derby is legitimate athletic competition, with a little bit of theatrics thrown in.  There are real refs who enforce real rules and real scores are kept.
Oh sure, the players have fun names, like The Jamburglar.  They also have fun mascots, like Fonzo McKnuckles.  If you are looking for over-the-top silliness, look elsewhere.  These ladies are serious about their sport.
On our return to the UIC Pavilion to see WCR, our first interview was with Jackie Daniels, bench coach for the Fury.  Last year, we interviewed Jackie when she was skating for the Fury.  That interview can be found at On the Beat with Jackie Daniels.
Jackie was a great place to start.  She briefly explained the concept and organization of the Windy City Rollers.  To the novice (like we were last year), this really is helpful.
As a former skater with the Fury and current WCR All-Star skater, Jackie also gave us insight on the transition to coach and filling both roles.  Jackie gave us a lot of info, in an interesting way.  It was a great way to get us back into the WCR groove and also to give potential new fans a nice starter lesson.
I really enjoyed talking again to Jackie.  Then again, I am a Coke guy.  What goes better with Jack Daniels than Coke?  (Sorry, I couldn't help myself).
The next night of WCR action is Saturday, May 17.  The WCR home teams will fight it out for the Ivy Cup.  You can get all of the info at
Over the next couple weeks, we will be sprinkling in our other interviews from Saturday night's WCR action.  I hop you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed doing them.  I also hope you give WCR a chance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Replacing Ryno Wasn't Easy

Mickey Morandini is the answer to the trivia question, "Who replaced future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg after he retired (for good)?  The Cubs got Morandini in a trade with the Phillies (like they did with Sandberg years earlier), in hopes of the recent All-Star would fill the void at second left by Ryno.
Morandini played a solid defense for the Cubs, but his offense was a huge dropoff from Ryno, although that was expected.  Ryno spoiled Chicagoans!
After two average seasons in Chicago, Morandini signed as a free agent with Montreal (but was sold back to Philadelphia before the season).  Eric Young replaced Morandini with the Cubs and this started a bit of a revolving door at the position.  The Cubs have used 8 regular starting second baseman since Morandini left.
I always liked Morandini.  I think his career pales because of the wide-spread use of PED's by other players.  His 32 career home runs don't look so impressive compared to some of the inflated stats of others back then.  Morandini would never be considered for the Hall of Fame, but I think his career would have been judged differently in a non-steroid era.
I met Morandini at AU Sports.  He was very fan-friendly and eager discussed his time with the Cubs.  He was a popular player here, but more popular in Philly, where he played for parts of 9 seasons out of his 11 year career.
Mickey Morandini and me in Skokie, IL-Early 2000's.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friendly Encounters: Mark Bodek Meets Denard Span and Steven Souza

This is a regular feature about my friends who have met celebrities.

I first connected with Mark Bodek because of former WWE diva Terri Runnels.  Terri is a long-time favorite of   Terri was one of the first celebrities to call me "Jay Leno," a fact that bothers the Honky Tonk Man to this day.
Mark works with Terri and is a sports fan.  It's an exciting time to be a fan of the Nationals.  Earlier this year, Mark got to meet several of the Nats, including Steven Souza and Denard Span.
The Nats are the third team t play in Washington DC.  They appear to be a success there.  Too bad Montreal had to lose a team though.
I have not seen Terri in several years (way too long).  She is a blast at conventions.  I am really hoping she makes an appearance in the Chicago area in the near future.  If any company is interested in bring in Terri, you should contact Mark.
If Mark and Terri make it to Chicago, I am extending an open invitation to join me at a Cubs game.  I know it is more of a gift for me than them, but at least they will see the most beautiful field in all of sports (notice I wrote "field" and not entire ballpark).
Steven Souza, Mark Bodek and Denard Span in Washington, DC-January 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cards That Never Were: 1975 Topps Chicago Cubs Catchers

For the 1975 Topps baseball card set, the Chicago Cubs were given 3 cards featuring catchers.  Steve Swisher, George Mitterwald and Rick Stelmaszek (my guy) all were deemed card-worthy.  Stelmaszek's card was a decent air-brushing, although seemingly unnecessary since he joined the Cubs in July of 1974.
Three catchers appearing in a team set seems a bit high.  Swisher played in 90 games, while Mitterwald appeared in 68.  That would seem like the two obvious choices (with no disrespect to my man Stelly).
Additionally, Tom Lundstedt appeared in 22 games, starting 9, while Stelmaszek appeared in 16, starting 11.  Stelmaszek did have more at bats and hit .224 to Lundstedt's .094.  They were both 25.  Lundstedt would go on to hit .107 for the 1975 Minnesota Twins.
Since Stelmaszek got a card, I decided to make one for Lundstedt.  While I was at it, I also gave Stelmaszek a better image for his card.  Now, thanks to these Cards That Never Were, all four Cubs catchers of 1974 are represented on 1975 Topps cards.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Celebrity Jersey Cards #169 Trish Stratus & Mickie James

This is a regular series which attempts to combine my lifelong passion for bubblegum cards with my semi-professional interest in celebrities.  I'm a little late, as WrestleMania was last Sunday, but I am featuring two beautiful wrestlers.

Native Canadian and former pro wrestler Trish Stratus won the WWE Women's title seven times.  She was also named 'Babe of the Year' 3 times, 'Diva of the Decade' once and PWI 'Woman of the Year' 4 times.  Her Celebrity Jersey Card Blue Jays uniform has #10 on it, but I can't say it is for Vernon Wells or if that number has other significance for her.  Either way, she is looking good!  I am just sorry to say she is one of a handful of wrestlers I have not yet met but definitely have on my 'want' list.
Mickie James is still an active wrestler.  She also has won numerous titles, but some of her championships have come in TNA, as well as WWE.  Her first WWE Women's title reign started with a victory over Stratus.  How is that for symmetry?  Plus, I was there to witness it!  Her Celebrity Jersey Card features James singing, which happens to be another of hers,  Like Stratus, James is multi-talented and very beautiful.  Unlike Stratus, I have met James (I am happy to report).

Friday, April 11, 2014

Back on the Beat with the Windy City Rollers!

What is it with me hanging with tough and beautiful women?  I have covered the beautifully brutal women of Resistance Pro Wrestling from its debut.  I have been covering the gorgeous women of the gridiron in the Chicago Bliss for the last two seasons.  Now I am happy to report I am back on the beat with the Windy City Rollers.
The Windy City Rollers are based out of Chicago's UIC Pavilion.  WCR is a flat-track roller derby league filled with lively and lovely ladies, divided into four teams, as well as two travel teams which plays against other teams around the country.
I admit the concept is initially a bit confusing, as are the rules.  This is a real sport, not the theatrical stuff of olden days.  The rules are explained and demonstrated before the matches.
While it takes a while to learn everything and to understand how it all works, it is well worth the small effort.  This is fun stuff.  The players are really into it and so are the crowds.
The seating is divided into fan sections, as well as general seating.  You can pick your team or cheer for them all.  I do a little of both.  I also have my favorite players, although I really like them all.
AliSin Chains was one of my favorites from l;ast year.  I initially found her while rambling around online looking for some celebrities in jerseys.  AliSon had a picture in a Packers jersey.  I was intrigued and did some research, which lead me right to the Windy City Rollers.  How is that for serendipity?!
Anyway, we met AliSin on our first night covering the Windy City Rollers.  My interview with AliSin and other women of the WCR can be found on my YouTube channel at On the Beat with the Windy City Rollers.
I am looking forward to getting back to the roller derby excitement.  I encourage everyone to check out the Windy City Rollers tomorrow night with me.  It's a guaranteed night of fun.
AliSin Chains and me in Chicago, IL-Summer 2013.