Saturday, July 4, 2020

Cards That Never Were: Baseball Card Breakdown's Mike Squires

A few days ago, I saw a comment on my post Sahvanna Jaquish Game One MVP. The comment from Brett Alan alerted me to a post on his blog that he felt would interest me. I clicked the link, which took me to the Baseball Card Breakdown blog, and was surprised to see Mike Squires Appreciation post (Post for Johngy).
The post started with a nice compliment to me, followed by the blogger lamenting that I have never commented on his blog. He wrote it was one of  his life goals to have me comment on his blog.
He mentioned my fandom of former Chicago White Sox player Mike Squires and to further sweeten the pot, he created seven custom Mike Squires cards. He went above and beyond by using pictures not seen on other cards. He made interesting card design choices, too. These cards are beautiful and much appreciated. Below is his take on a 1988 Topps hockey card featuring Squires.
I was completely blown away. Having someone compliment my blog is cool, but having someone go so far to dedicate a blog post to me, hoping for a comment is incredible and humbling.
The truth is I am a regular reader of Baseball Card Breakdown. The other truth is I do not comment enough on other blogs. There are so many great ones out there and I know how much comments are appreciated. With the second half of 2020 recently started, I will make a half-year resultion to comment more on other blogs.
Baseball Card Breakdown is very entertaining. Obviously, sports cards are a big pat of the blog, but there is also other fun stuff, too. Recently, he featured a new dessert discovery. Because he is a self-admitted dessert guy, I wonder what his thoughts are on cannoli, the greatest dessert ever created.
One successful blog is enough for most of us, but not this guy. He also produces the 1991 MusiCards Blog, a fun trip through the 1991 Pro Set MusiCards set.
Brett Alan asked for a comment and I gave him one on his post, but his grand gesture deserved more. I encourage all to check out Baseball Card Breakdown and 1991 MusicCards.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Lita Ford at Days of the Dead Chicago 2013

Days of the Dead returns to Indianapolis July 17-19. As always, it will be a weekend of horror and pop culture fun. Until then, I recall some of my fun times at previous events.
Meeting Lita Ford and interviewing her at Days Indy 2013 ranks up there with one of the coolest things I have done and Lita is certainly one of the coolest celebs. My interview with her can be found at On the Beat With Lita Ford.
As I have previously written, that was also the time Lita did an impromptu duet with a fan. This guy was ecstatic and the rest of us were envious and happy to witness it. This type of stuff doesn't happen often at most cons, but I have seen similar things happen several times at Days of the Dead.
That speaks volumes on the quality person Lita is, but also speaks of the relationship of celebrities with the organizers of DotD. The celebs have a great relationship with the Days crew and they have fun at events.
Lita has been a presence in music since her teens, when she formed the band The Runaways. Now in her early 60s, Lita is still rocking stages (and conventions).
Follow Lita at @LitaFord on twitter for news and updates. Go to DaysoftheDead.com for all of the info on Indy and the other shows. Also, check Days of the Dead on Facebook for more frequent updates.
Lita Ford and me in Schaumburg, IL-November 2013.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Taylah Tsitsikronis and Missing Softball

Continuing my attempts to fill my softball void, I am featuring a softball player from down under. Taylah Tsitsikronis 
In 2017, eight players from Team Australia joined the Chicago Bandits in a very interesting partnership. The Aussie Eight were such a fun bunch. They added a whole new element to the Bandits. Of course, they also added a new fan base.
It was cool seeing fans from across the globe following the Bandits. I have to admit, it was also fun having the Aussie fans following my interviews and other coverage. They were very supportive and vocal in their appreciation.
Listed as a catcher/utility player, Taylah is a versatile player. She brought a lot of energy to the team and was always fun on and off the field. Our interview can be found at On the Beat With Taylah Tsitsikronis.
Taylah is another player I saw return as an opposing player. The Aussie Eight had been joined by several others to form their own team in the NPF. The Aussie Peppers were based in Mankato, MN. As always, it is bittersweet seeing players return with other teams. On the other hand, new Bandits are always welcome and it does expand my softball world.
Whether the Aussie Eight or the Aussie Peppers, it has been quite a social experiment, as well as good training for the team. I imagine it is difficult for the players to be so far from their homes and families. The NPF fans treated them well though and they returned the love. I would never have so many friends and acquaintances from Australia if not for the NPF.
Go to ChicagoBandits.com for more info on the Bandits. Also, check Team Australia for news on our friends 
Taylah Tsitsikronis and me in Rosemont, IL-June 2019.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On The Beat With Mike Pankow of Windy City Slam

Mike Pankow and I have crossed passed personally and professionally for years. We shared an interest in celebrities, wrestling and more.
A couple years ago, Mike started Windy City Slam, a website covering the world of wrestling in Chicago and around the world. Mike features the big companies, like the WWE, AEW and Impact, but also shines the spotlight on Chicago area independent companies. It's a great combination of all worlds of wrestling.
Mike is a good guy and a tireless worker. A veteran journalist, Mike knows how to get a story and an interview. At Wizard World a couple years back, he scored interviews with Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer and more. Over the years, he also had a couple very important interviews with Chris Nowinski, a former wrestler and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
I have wanted to interview Mike for a while and the pandemic presented the opportunity. With no live Chicago events, Mike has a little extra time.
Mike talked about the history of Windy City Slam, some of his favorite interviews and wrestlers, his thoughts on AEW and more. As a knowledgeable fan and journalist, Mike has interesting thoughts on all.
After you watch the interview, check out WindyCitySlam.com. Also, follow Windy City Slam on Facebook for news and updates. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Jourdan Skirha and the Bandit Academy

The National Pro Fastpitch Chicago Bandits should be entering the last third of their season, but unfortunately 2020 has been derailed. There is still a lot of great stuff happening at the Ballpark in Rosemont though.
The Bandit Academy is open and there to help young softball players. The main group of instructors include Holly Scott, Abby Ramirez and Jourdan Skirha, but they are occasionally joined by others, including Bandits.
Jourdan is pulling double duty, as she is also the assistant GM for the Bandits. At a young age, she already is compiling an impressive resume.
A grad of Oak Forest High School, Jourdan was a member of the 2009 IHSA 3A State Championship team. Jourdan earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, junior, and senior and was named 2nd Team All-State in 2011 and 2012. She went on to Drexel University, where she played third base, second base, shortstop and outfield. In 2017, She was nominated for Drexel University’s Best Athletic Play for her pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam against Colonial Athletic Association conference rival, University of Delaware. I included a video of that grand slam in my interview with Jourdan at On the Beat With Jourdan Skirha.
I have often said that Jourdan is a blur of activity at the games, while in charge of game day operations. She oversees a lot of pre-game and in game fun activities. I am sure she brings the same type of dedication, energy and talent to the Bandit Academy.
Jourdan is a great role model, especially for young girls. At a young age, she holds a big job with a pro sports team. Earlier this year, Jourdan was very vocal on social media about the social and racial climate in the country. I applaud her courage in speaking out. Jourdan has a bright future and I will be proud to say I know her.
On a personal level, I appreciate Jourdan facilitating my first pitch and my batting practice session, two of my most memorable times covering the Bandits.
For more info, go to ChicagoBandits.com. Also, follow the Chicago Bandits on Facebook for more frequent updates and other news.
Jourdan Skirha and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2017.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Friend Encounters: Magglio Ordonez, Kailee and Erin

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Baseball is back. With that announcement, my nephew Contributor Extraordinaire Matt Parker sent me a perfect picture for today.
Back in the summer of 2004, Matt's future wife Erin and sister Kailee went on the field at and met Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez. Matt quotes Erin as saying, "He was so cute."
Unfortunately for Erin, Kailee and Sox fans, this would be Ordonez's last season with the Sox. After the season, he signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers.
Ordonez played seven seasons with the Tigers, for 15 total seasons in MLB. He had 2,156 hits, 294 HRs and a .309 batting average. That would put him in the Hall of the Very Good.
Like Erin, I was also a fan of Ordonez, although not particularly a fan of the Sox then. I would have liked to see Ordonez finish his career with the Sox. It would have been cool to see him and Paul Konerko together for so many years.
While Ordonez bailed out of Chicago, Erin eventually signed as a free agent with Matt. They now are raising their beautiful little girl Delaney to be a Sox fan. Looking ahead, I wonder who Delaney will find "cute" on the team. Perhaps Nick Madrigal? Garrett Crochet? Only time will tell. Maybe someday in about 15 years, we will all find out when Delaney has her own encounter with a Sox player.
Kailee, Magglio Ordonez and Erin in Chicago, IL-Summer 2004.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Celebrity Jersey Cards #676 Natalie Martinez & Lori Petty

This is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. Once again, we are working our way alphabetically through all of the Major League Baseball teams.

Miami native actress and model Natalie Martinez has appeared in several music videos, as well as television shows and movies. She had a recurring role on CSI: NY, among other series. Martinez tossed a ceremonial pitch for her hometown Marlins to get a Celebrity Jersey Card. I just love the orange jerseys, but Martinez would look good in any color jersey.
Born in Tennessee, actress Lori Petty co-starred in A League of Their Own, one of my favorite movies. Among other roles, she also was in Point Break, as the woman who taught Keanu Reeves how to surf. More recently, she had a recurring role on Orange Is The New Black. The Marlins honored the 25th anniversary of A League of Their Own by having Petty throw out a first pitch, which landed her on a Celebrity Jersey Card.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sahvanna Jaquish Game One MVP

Last Monday was supposed to be the first game of a summer series pitting the USSSA Pride against the Scrap Yard Dawgs. It would be a showcase of past and future Olympians, as well as other elite softball players. The Pride won 4-0, but a tweet from the Dawgs official twitter account was the big news.  
My coverage of the controversy can be found at Controversial Tweet Overshadows Pride-Dawgs Softball Game on Global Women's Sports Radio.In the aftermath, the entire Dawgs team quit and the future of the series is in doubt.
Lost in the mess was an interesting game, highlighted by a great performance by Sahvanna Jaquish.The former Chicago Bandits player doubled for the first hit of the game and later belted a three run homer to give the Pride a 3-0 lead.
I had the pleasure of seeing and knowing Sahvanna during her time with the Bandits in 2017. Our interview can be found at On the Beat With Sahvanna Jaquish.
The catcher-infielder was a star player at Louisiana State University. Among her other achievements, she was a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Finalist. She has played on the international stage with the Puerto Rico National Team and now Team USA.
It's unfortunate that Sahvanna's big game and the team's win was secondary news to the tweet. Sahvanna, the teams, the fans and the sport deserve better. The tweet created an ugly mess.
As I have expressed already, I hope somehow the series can continue and the teams can turn this into something positive longterm.
You can follow Sahvanna at @S_Jay27 on Instagram. Also, go to USSSAPride.com for more info and news.
Sahvanna Jaquish and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2015.

Friday, June 26, 2020

PJ Soles at Days of the Dead Chicago 2014

Days of the Dead returns to Indianapolis July 17-19. As always, it will be a weekend of horror and pop culture fun. Until then, I recall some of my fun times at previous events.
I have been a longtime fan of PJ Soles. I loved her as Riff in Rock 'n' Roll High School, but she has appeared in so many other classic movies, too. Carrie, Halloween, Stripes and Private Benjamin are just a few of her older movies. She was even in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
PJ is not just one of my favorites, she is one of the best convention guests. Whether at her table or in the hallways, PJ is always ready with a smile or hug. She has a large supply of several pictures. She is also ready for a little chatting about the Ramones, her Rock 'n' Roll High School co-stars.
It's fun meeting favoerites and it is even better when they are very cool in person. Making my experience with PJ even better is I had the pleasure of interviewing her. Thanks to Matt Parker for his patience in helping me get this one. It is one of my favorites and can be found at On the Beat With PJ Soles at Days of the Dead. It was the end of a long day at the con for PJ, but she was kind enough to do the interview.
PJ doesn't do every DotD, but she does many. It definitely is a great place to meet her. You might even see me hanging around her table.
Go to DaysoftheDead.com for all of the info on Indy and the other shows. Also, check Days of the Dead on Facebook for more frequent updates. 
PJ Soles and me in Schaumburg, IL-November 2014.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

On Global Women's Sports Radio

Monday night, the Scrap Yard Dawgs and the USSSA Pride started a 25 game summer series. The two former National Pro Fastpitch teams would play each other in Florida and Texas throughout the summer in a sort of nod to barnstorming teams of yesteryear. Although I wouldn't be attending the games, I was set to cover the series for Global Women's Sports Radio. Unfortunately, things took an ugly turn during the game, creating controversy and ill feelings, along with putting the series in jeopardy.
The game started okay. Former Chicago Bandits Sahvanna Jaquish of the Pride hit a double for the first hit of the game, but the game was scoreless until she clubbed a 3 run homer in the 4th inning. The Pride added one more run to seal a 4-0 victory.
This should have been an exciting start to a summer of great softball. It might be one and done, however.
The Dawgs official twitter account, tweeted a picture of the Dawgs standing for the National Anthem, accompanied by “Hey @RealDonaldTrump Pro Fastpitch being played @USSSASpaceCoast @USSSSAPride  EVERYONE respecting the Flag!”
The tweet has since been deleted, but the damage was done. The Dawgs organization has not commented on the situation as of yet. The outrage started immediately and is outgoing.
Players, staffers and fans of both teams have spoken out in disgust and disappointment. Perhaps the most poignant statement came from the Dawgs' Kiki Stokes.
“I'm so hurt. Never in my entire playing career or even life have I ever been so hurt. I have never felt so small in a locker room, so helpless, so lonely. I feel betrayed, embarrassed, disgusted, angry...to come into that locker room after a game and have no idea that the organization I stayed loyal to for the last 5 years and put my honest to God heart and soul into wasn't looking out for me, but more importantly, my community hurts.”
What a horribly sad statement from a fine young woman. She deserves better. 
These athletes deserve better. The sport deserves better. My hope is that somehow the players can still continue the series and use it as a platform of positivity to really shine the light on the cause.
I wanted to cover softball this summer. I'd rather not be writing about this ugly situation, but I will continue to cover this as it develops. My story for Global Women's Sports Radio can be found at Controversial Tweet Overshadows Pride-Dawgs Softball Game.
kIKI sTOKES and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2017.