Friday, July 30, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, I continue working my way alphabetically through all MLB teams.
Born in Los Angeles, California, actor Mo McRae earned his Celebrity Card with the cross-state rival San Diego Padres. McRae co-starred in the very underrated Pitch television series about a woman pitcher. McRae is probably better known for his role on Sons of Anarchy though. Although he has a lengthy resume in his 20ish years of acting, I will take his role as Blip Sanders in Pitch above all others.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Vida Blue was selected by the Kansas City Athletics in the second round of the 1967 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 1969 and pitched for the A's through the '77 season. Along the way, he won the Cy Young and MVP in '71 and three World Series with the A's. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants prior to the '78 season. After five seasons with the Giants, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals. He pitched two seasons for the Royals, missed the '84 season and signed with the Giants for the '85 season. After two seasons with the Giants, he was released and signed back with the A's, but did not appear in the majors with his original team. All told, he went 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA.
For his efforts, he received cards in every Topps set from 1970-'83 and 86 and '87. That left nly an '84 to be filled.
Friday, July 23, 2021
The Olympics started Wednesday. Of course, my main attention is on Team USA and softball, but I also have some love for the other softball teams, like Team Australia.
A few years back, Team Australia sent eight players to the National Pro Fastpitch Chicago Bandits Stacey Stacey was one of the Aussie Eight, as they were so creatively called. Stacey is a middle infielder for Team Australia.
It was a great experience getting to know the Australian players and their families and fans, too. Through the NPF, I got to hang around the elite players from the USA, but I never thought I would also be able to get to know great international players, too.
It was a great experience having the Aussie Eight play for the Bandits. It was like worlds colliding in the best way. Their fans became fans of the Bandits. We made a lot of new friends down under. Stacey's mom even gifted me a cute koala stuffed animal, which now sits on my shelf with my other NPF stuff. It was such a lovely gesture on her part. I appreciate it greatly and always smile when I see it.
Of course, I will be rooting for Team USA in the Olympics, but I am excited to see my friends from other teams and I wish them a lot of success. They are all elite athletes and great people. From sopcial media posts, it looks like they are all soaking in every moment, as well they should. I am so happy for them and for softball fans everywhere.
My interview with Stacey can be found at On the Beat With Stacey McManus. You can find more Australian players and other Olympians on my Chicago Bandits playlist on YouTube.
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
I have never been this excited about the Olympics, which start tomorrow in Tokyo, Japan. I always respected the athletes, but I never had much interest, except on rare occasions like the 1980 USA Miracle on Ice. This time it's different. This time it's personal.
Many of the softball players from Team USA and other countries are friends of mine. I watched them up close as they played in National Pro Fastpitch and other leagues in preparation for the Olympics.
Softball returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. It will not be part of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but will probably be back for the 2028 games in Los Angeles. The 17-game softball competition culminates July 27 with the gold medal game, which should feature Team USA.
Led by Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman, two of the greatest pitchers of all time, Team USA is ranked No. 1. Also on the main, 15-person roster is pitcher Rachel Garcia, 2018 and 2019's USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Pitching tends to dictate outcomes, especially in tournaments like this.
It's been especially great seeing their recent social media posts after they arrived in Tokyo. Witnessing their efforts and talking to them over the last few years, I love seeing them realizing their dream.
As much as I appreciate the passion these elite athletes have for their careers, I am also amazed at their dedication to growing the sport. After playing two-hour games in the heat, it is not unusual to see them sign autographs and meet with young fans for the next two hours.
Of course, I’ll be cheering for Team USA, but with friends on every other team, I will be watching and wishing good performances to all.
The only disappointment so far was the recent announcement that the alternates (Taylor Edwards, Hannah Flippen and Keilani Ricketts) could not attend the games and were heading home. I don't know the reason, but I am guessing it is part of the COVID precautions limiting the overall attendance. No mater the reason, it has to be very disheartening for the three and even their teammates who hated to see them go.
These three worked just as hard as their 15 full roster mates. They were just as excited, even if they weren't going to play. Now they will watch from home as their teammates go for the gold.