Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Spahn Ball

Born thirty miles due east of Syracuse, pronounced SARR-AH-QUUSE, in what is now pretty much a shithole that is Oneida, NY, I grew up as most of us did - as enthusiastic sports fans – Yankees, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and the Dallas Cowboys. I was equally satisfied watching an entire Yankee game with my grandma as I was watching Dan Devine’s Irish take on the Trojans of USC. I never missed a Syracuse basketball game on the television and was able to see many in person, both in the final days of Manley Field House and in the inaugural season of the Carrier Dome. As an aside, did you know there is no air conditioning in the Carrier Dome?  

Outside of the Syracuse jaunts to see the Orange(men) play football or hoops, the first epic trip was to Boston with my dad, my uncle Bob, my cousin Jean, my sister Kris, and my best pal Pat Flanagan – we were heading there for a 2-game series between the Sox and the Yankees. Damn skippy! Pat was actually a Boston fan. My dad and sister didn’t give a shit. Jean, Uncle Bob and I were ha-yuge Yankee fans. The year – 1978, summer of course. Highlights included being in the vicinity of a Reggie Jackson home run ball and sitting next to the Yankee bullpen where we sat watching the likes of Goose Gossage and Catfish Hunter. THE highlight though, took place in the lobby of the hotel where the New York squad was staying. Heading over to the place my dad and Bob felt certain the Yankees would be staying, I recall feeling a little less than optimistic that we'd see much less meet any of my heroes.  

We walk in. It’s the nicest hotel I had been in to date. Howard Johnson’s may have been the front runner leading into this moment. The lobby was cavernous and with no shortage of glass and escalators. We go up one. And approaching us and going down, per my dad, is Bucky Dent. Dad: “Danny…here comes Bucky Dent.” No way! Bucky looks cool as shit. Certainly on his way to go chase some skirt. Blue jeans, cowboy boots, dress shirt, cowboy hat. 

We get to the top, swing around, and reverse direction keeping an eye on him all the way. Fortunately for us, he made it easy. He was heading to the front desk, probably to leave a key for his Boston hook-up. He finishes his interaction and turns around toward us. There we stood, looking at him like a thirsty dog would his owner. He practically has to get through us to get by. As he approached, I think it was my Uncle Bob who asked on our behalf for an autograph. He somewhat pleasantly obliged. He certainly was not eager to stand by and shoot the shit though. He had fish to troll. And that was it…my first brush with fame, and Yankee fame to boot from number 20 himself, the Dentster. I was hooked. Get me some more of that action please! We continue to meander around the hotel. Up where we had originally stepped off the escalator before turning around to pursue Bucky, a nice hotel restaurant sat. It was quiet, not a lot of action, as in none. As we approach, an older man donning a suit stood guard at the entrance. As we get closer to him, we see sitting at a table through the glass wall, all by himself eating fried eggs and toast, is #44 himself. HOLY SHIT!!!! The man in the suit was the gatekeeper and he shut us down quickly. "Mr. Jackson does not want to be disturbed while he's eating." We gazed for a few more seconds at the man and went on our way. The weekend was just incredible, top few of my adolescence. I honestly don’t remember much outside of the baseball games themselves other than these two brushes with fame, but that’s all ya need. It was this particular weekend when I became a tad more entrenched in my deep like for the game.
Image result for Bucky Dent images
#20 - Bucky Dent

The house I grew up in – you’ve heard about it. I’ve waxed poetic on the social hub that was our house, both for my parents and older sisters. It was an old house but it had key ingredients conducive for get-togethers, both in and out: a good sized yard, and a bar. Here’s the roof of the house (top left of image) See the yard. Lots of activity in this here yard – name the sport, but also add in igloo making and ice skating. That’s right…more than one ice storm afforded us the ability to walk outside and skate in our back yard. I don’t miss that. 

Summer, 1979. Another of my grand memories from childhood. Cooperstown was an hour and fifteen minutes from where I grew up. We get up early. Well, I get up early. My dad was always up at crack of dawn, showered and shaved. I can tell you that unless I crossed paths with my dad while on his way to his morning shower, I never, ever, saw him un-showered and un-shaved. And we would cross paths occasionally because they did not have their own bathroom in that house, and this just dawned on me. One full bathroom. Can you imagine having a wife, 5 kids, 3 of whom are teenage daughters, and sharing a bathroom with them? 

We head out. I in the customary back right position in the standard very large cruising vessel that was probably a Crown Victoria. My dad tells me he we are going to meet a guy for breakfast on the way. Okay. We stop at a diner. I think we sit at the diner bar. His guy comes in and sits next to us. The relationship is a working one…either my dad is a client of his or vice versa. I had never met him. My dad wasn’t in the habit of taking me to work-related breakfasts with his associates quite yet. That came at eleven. The man hands me a square white cardboard box, smallish, about the size that could hold a baseball. I open it. It’s a baseball. It has a light-blue Chevy logo on it. I guess this guy had some sort of Chevrolet connection? I didn’t care. It was a brand new baseball! Boy am in the midst of a swell day! We eat, finish, shake hands, and head out. To Cooperstown!
Image result for 1978 Crown Victoria
the standard car of my early days
It’s a day. A beautiful one. Warm for sure, sunny. We do the Hall. Plaques, busts, trophies, balls, bats, gloves, photos, videos, all sorts of people. My dad liked baseball but in retrospect, this was all about me. He was not the type to meander through such a place with intent and focus. With little patience and a disdain for crowds, he must have wanted to speed this along.

This was forty years ago. Many of my recollections don’t come with absolute clarity. That said, I can’t remember when it was shared with me that we’d be attending a baseball game while in Cooperstown. It could have been in the days before the trip. It could have been in the car while in route. But a real life, professional baseball game was going to be played and patronized by me and big daddy.

The Hall of Fame Game in 1980 was played between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox. We all know who won the 1979 World Series don’t we? Willie Stargell. Dave Parker. The ugly hats that all of us probably owned. I did. Our seats were in left field…it may have been general admission. Either way, we were front row, right behind the fence. Within minutes a ball is hit right toward us. Oh shit…I’m going to get another ball today. Sailing Sailing Sailing. Chet Lemon running running running. Right toward us. Outreached arm. Full speed. Ball comin in hot. Going to be close. May be a dinger. May not be. Lemon fast! Chet is running RIGHT AT US, ball too. Arm outstretched. Ball grazes glove. Chet meets wall. Wall meets Chet. Ball hits wall and bounces back toward infield. Chet is DOWN. Chet is bleeding. Chet is attended by trainers with white towels. Towels become red, and quickly. Chet gets carted off with more red towels and the need for lots of stitches and probably some plastic surgery. Had I witnessed that a few years later, “Gnarly” would have been appropriate. But that word didn’t exist at that point, in my vocab anyway. I probably just said, “Wicked”. A recap of the game that summer day. No mention of the sliced Lemon though. 

During the game, they honor Warren Spahn. My dad tells me who he is, and the announcer backs it up with a purging of stats and honors accumulated by the man. Most victories by a left-hander (still holds up) with 363 wins. Thirteen 20-win seasons. He had a 23-win season at the age of 42. Today, the Warren Spahn award goes to the league's best southpaw each year. (Wiki can't hit me for plagiarism can it?) From left field he looks to be a mile away on the pitcher’s mound. He looks old though, that I know. Old and never having heard of him, I’m not moved. Can we get back to the game please?
Image result for Warren Spahn ImagesGame ends. We head over to the hotel where, you guessed it, the players stay. Much easier to figure in Cooperstown than in Beantown. We sit in the lobby bar and my dad has another guy he’s meeting, but this one I know from back home. He too was at the game. They order a couple of beers, PBR’s I’m guessing. The area is busy with the game having been let out an hour or so ago, but somehow we get a table. My dad didn’t wait around for stuff like tables. Before the first half beer was downed, my dad’s pal whispers, “Danny, that’s Warren Spahn that just sat down.”  I look over and can only assume what he’s telling me is true. He does look like the guy that stood on the pitcher’s mound a couple of hours ago. He looks old too. He’s sitting with who must be his wife and some other gent. She too looks aged. This guy is no Bucky Dent.

My dad’s bud Frank says, “take that baseball over to him and ask him to sign it”. I was pretty damned shy and very reticent with this seemingly easy task. Bucky was different. He was walking towards us and another adult did the work for us. This was all on me. I hesitated, probably even shook my head no. Frank goaded me though. I get up and tepidly make my way. Spahn's back is facing me with his body open to the right, facing his wife who is looking straight at me as I approach. What the fuck is her problem? Why is she looking at me like this? She looks like one of my nuns at school. Does she know me? I block it out and make it to Spahn’s periphery. He opens up more and sees that I have a baseball in my hand. In the meekest of fashion, I say, “Mr. Spahn, could you sign my baseball?” It came out barely a whisper. What a pussy I am. It didn’t matter. He had done this before. Before getting through the request, he took the ball out of my hand, grabbed a pen from his suit coat pocket and did the deed. Mr. Warren asked if I made it to the game that day, and if I had fun. Yes sir I did! Did you see Chet bust his head open?! Wow, that was too easy. This autograph thing is wicked awesome. Who else is in this joint?

And so here we are…the denouement. Fast forward a year or more. Fall has approached. A weekday in the backyard with a few other young lads. The game of the day is baseball which is DUMB. Wiffle or stick ball w/a wiffle or tennis ball…sure. Frisbee…yeah why not. Kickball…absolutely. Pickle or “Hot Box” as we sometimes called it – no downside. But baseball, statistically, was going to end badly.

Click HERE. Wait for it. My apologies – I know there was an easier way to do this, but our interns were out this week.

In the top left of the image, the home with the nice sized yard and the two white cars in front of – that is where I spent the first twelve years of my life. And roughly 20 for my oldest sisters and parents. Now, look at the bottom left hand corner where you get a glimpse of a road, and to the right of the road, there is a small opening in the trees where you see a patch of darkness. That darkness is a creek.

A view from the front….the house on the left is my house. The garage you see behind it was roughly half the size of the one that sits there in this image. The creek is behind and well below house level, a thirty foot descent down a pretty steep, but navigable slope. If anything round rolls over the edge…

The pitches would come from right to left, and balls hit from left to right. The batter stood just on the road side of the garage but even with the garage wall. You following? A ball pulled hard left isn’t good. And considering everyone was right handed, what were the chances?

Must I continue?

We rarely played actual baseball in this yard. I don’t need to explain why. We must have had an itch on this downtrodden day. And it was. Heavy cloud cover, very cool, depressing really. Winter is coming. Mid-October had to be. We were probably knee deep in a World Series which is the only reason I can think of that had us playing baseball. It’s almost dinner time and we are two balls down. We have no balls left. The supply is tapped. Gonzo. Fuck, man.

“Don’t you have a ball in your room Dan?” asks someone.
“Oh yeah! I do…good thinkin!” says I.

I jet inside the backdoor and make my way to the stairs, up two at a clip and into the room where I grab the ball that sits atop my dresser and without motion to spare zip back down and I do this in roughly fifteen seconds.

“Do NOT hit this in the creek! This is the Warren Spahn ball.”

Yours truly was on the dirt that day. That and third base – my domains. Craig Nettles. My guy. At the plate – had to be Dave Hawthorne or Billy Shoeneck (sheh-nick). I guess it could have been Mark Edick though too. Yes, real name.

Ball. Ball. Swing and miss. Foul tip. Foul ball pulled left not terribly hard rolling rolling ball being run down by shitbird at third ball approaches edge ball now over edge ball could possibly get caught up on something on the way down since it’s not hit too terribly hard but who the hell am I kidding that ball is creek-bound we all make it to the edge and catch the ball descending and bouncing picking up speed bounce bounce closer and closer and closer and faster and faster and splash and current is real strong today and ball is out of sight in 5 seconds. This would would be the view from where the ball would be coming from, just a hundred or so yards from behind our house. 

Game Over. Well, that stinks! At first I wondered what Dad will do if he finds out. Will he be pissed? Do I tell him or just leave it be? I left it be, for years...the story would be told and re-told, usually among my crew and dad over beers, or in strange blogs. Turns out it would not have phased him. It was my ball. My stupidity.

Enter 40 years later. A friend asks for your address. A few days later.....the story gets a new, and better ending. I like it so much I replaced my head with it. 
Thanks again Whit. A Hall-of-Fame worthy random act of kindness. 

The End.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Gheorghasbord, Early Holiday Edition

In honor of not one, nor two, nor even three of my neighbors already having their external Christmas decorations up on November 18, here's a seasonal run-through of the various bits and bobs running through my increasingly taxed headspace.

It's not the season yet, but it's close, so if you're looking for both a gift for me, and some new holiday tunes, you could do worse than grabbing the first holiday album by Old 97's. Entitled 'Love the Holidays', it's mostly a bunch of new tunes with vaguely holiday themes, with a handful of standards thrown in. It's a stealth new Old 97's record, and coming one week after Rhett Miller's latest solo release, 'The Messenger', it makes for a nice little Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa box set for the 97's fan in your life.

We've written about Becky Hammon here in the past, and we're on record as thinking that women deserve real chances to coach, manage, and generally be involved in operating sports teams of both genders. But the recent trial balloon floated from Cleveland about the possibility of Condoleeza Rice as the Browns' new head coach is a mockery. There are any number of women working their asses off across the major sporting landscape (not enough, nearly), and for Rice to jump the line because she's a high-profile fan who's dabbled in the game a bit belittles their hard work.

We found a sport that's right up TR's alley. Or, perhaps in a more apt analogy, one that's a bullseye for our friend. No less august a journalistic enterprise than Reuters reported this week on a fragrant kerfuffle in the world of competitive darts. Dutchman Wesley Harms accused his opponent at the Grand Slam of Darts, Scotsman Gary Anderson, of aggressively odoriferous flatulence during their round of 16 match. Said Harms, “It’ll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose.” Said TR's wife, 'Been there'.

Thirty-three years to the day of Joe Theismann's gruesome leg injury, Washington quarterback Alex Smith was felled in similar fashion. Pundits quickly offered Colin Kaepernick as an option for a team with playoff aspirations that are now tied to Colt McCoy's performance. Others were quick to note that Kaepernick would be unlikely to sign for a team with a racist mascot. I think this is right, which offers Dan Snyder and the NFL a unique solution to its collusion problem. Little Danny Starfucker should offer Kaepernick a contract, which he'd refuse on principle. The NFL's lawyers would be quick to note to the court that a team did, in fact, seek to employ Kaepernick, and as such, there's no case for colluding to keep him unemployed. Checkmate.

And speaking of checkmate, we're seven games into the world chess championship, and current champion Magnus Carlson and American challenger Fabiano Caruana have drawn each one. Wake me up when someone blitzes.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mostly Dead: A Brief Celebration

Pour out a little bit of iocane powder-laced wine for William Goldman, who passed today at the age of 87. The Academy Award-winning screenwriter and novelist wrote the screenplay for All the President's Men, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, and a number of other prominent films. More importantly, for the purpose of this bit of filler, he also penned the screenplay for The Princess Bride.

May he spending his eternity free of the fire swamp.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

We'll Be Back After These Messages

We pause for station identification and some commercial interruption.

Gheorghe: The Blog

Friday, November 09, 2018

This Year in Wrenball: The Balls

William & Mary's basketball team has won 95 games over the past five seasons, most in the CAA. The Tribe has 54 league victories over that span, also tops in the conference. They've reached two CAA tournament finals, had a CAA Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and multiple all-conference selections, and played in a couple of the most epic games in league tournament history.

And still, after all that, they haven't made the NCAA Tournament.

In an effort to reverse this not-really-curse and change the Tribe's narrative, the school has taken drastic steps. A team that's known for its finesse, its shooting touch, its high-octane offense, and its extremely indifferent approach to defense needed something.

Maybe, according the the school's decision-makers, the Tribe needed some balls. And during Homecoming this year, in the newly-christened Tribe Plaza near Zable Stadium, some balls we got.

That link is a typically W&M student response to something we should celebrate as whimsical and unique. While we make any number of other juvenile phallus-and-testes-related jokes.

As for the action on the court, your Tribe is undefeated during the Era of the Big Balls, as this shall come to be known. W&M reversed last season's dismal opening result, topping High Point, 79-69, in Williamsburg. Junior wing Justin Pierce led four W&M players in double-digits with 23 points, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. Matt Milon added 19 points on just nine shots, while freshman wing L.J. Owens got all 14 of his points in the first half, showing off a slashing, athletic game. Junior post Nathan Knight was in foul trouble for most of the game, finishing with 11 points and 6 boards in a modest season opener.

One game doesn't a season make, but we knew this team would be different from last year's elite offensive side. W&M was the best shooting team in the nation in 2017-18, and one of the best ever. Tony Shaver's team was the first team in NCAA history to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line, and 80% from the free throw stripe. Connor Burchfield led the nation in three-point percentage. He's gone, along with David Cohn, the floor general who drove that efficient offense.

Against High Point, W&M shot 49/36/69. Small sample size, to be sure. And despite not scoring as efficiently, the Tribe did hold High Point down on the defensive end. Luke Loewe, Cohn's primary replacement, isn't as good on offense, but he's tough and strong on defense. His maturation will be one of the stories of the season.

Knight got a lot of ink over the offseason, and he's begun to draw attention from NBA scouts. Averaging 18.5 points on 57.8% shooting as a sophomore tends to do that. And he'll be an extremely important factor for the Tribe.

But for my money, Justin Pierce might wind up as W&M's best player. The 6'7" wing averaged 14.7 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds last season, and he improved measurably as the season progressed. Wednesday's 23/14 was a statement of intent. I think Pierce could be a future CAA Player of the Year. And on nights when both Pierce and Knight are playing well, W&M will be a very difficult out.

In the end, Tony Shaver will field another very competitive squad. The preseason 4th place pick in the league has the potential to win the CAA Tournament, assuming a couple of the highly-touted freshmen (in addition to Owens, 6'9" Mekhel Harvey, 6'5" Thornton Scott, and 6'4" Chase Audige all got double-digit minutes against High Point, though only Harvey scored) contribute off the bench.

We've got big balls. May they be bouncing in March.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Gheorghe: The Blog Turns 15 Today

Happy G:TBday, gheorghies!

I know you are all amid your G:TBday celebration, but I’m hoping you can take time out to drink in this post, as I have formalized the holiday and sent out gifts accordingly.

No, today isn’t Gheorghe MureČ™an’s birthday! You know that’s February 14! His birthday revelry supplanted that other 2/14 Hallmark holiday years ago.

Rather, today is G:TBday, the birthday of Gheorghe: The Blog. The 15th birthday at that. 15 years of taking life less seriously via regularly scheduled dipshittery. Here’s to many more.

Think about it for a moment.  15 years of blogging here.  A decade and a half.  Rob and I started Misery Loves Company about seven months before Gheorghe (BG), blogging about the Red Sox and Mets. We gave it a good run, maybe hung around a couple of seasons too long, and shuttered our doors. After six-and-a-half years.  This is 15 years -- without an annual hiatus between trophy hoisting and pitchers and catchers.

How to commemorate such an occasion? To borrow from Otter, I figured that we had to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part, and we’re just the guys to do it.

To that end… some months back I stumbled upon a website, and I now can’t remember how or why. (Thanks, Dale.) Doesn’t matter. What matters is that I found it, and it enabled me to bring a large dose of the sublimely ridiculous to this corner of the ‘sphere whilst giving back to the roster of G:TB that I love so well.

It’s an auction site, and I decided to get you each a little something. No… hell, no… it’s not bringatrailer.com, and I definitely didn’t buy you each a car. After I make my fortune, I will, though. (In the meantime, Zman's stellar car selections for each gheorghie will have to do.)

The site is Pristine Auction, and it’s a treasure trove of collectibles of varying value. The auctionables are memorabilia, almost all of which have been autographed and certified. Sports items predominate the loot, but there are plenty of music and movie artifacts, as well as sections dedicated to “Fine Art,” “Coins and Bullion,” and “Celebrity.” At this writing this site's items range from $1.00 (Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Signed 8x10 Photo Inscribed "With Very Best Wishes") to $9,870 (1957-58 Topps #77 Bill Russell rookie card).
This is currently $735

There are countless lots that would be cool to have.  There are thousands more that are just ludicrous, and it’s amusing to see that someone’s bidding to acquire them.

I know you’ll spend a few moments checking it out, so I won’t waste time and space describing the site and its time-suck/dollar-suck attributes. Let’s get to the gift-giving!

Before we do, actually, there are a couple of caveats to this ridiculousness.  I planned to get each gheorghie on the G:TB masthead a very small something from the site in honor of our 15 years together.
This is currently $2.10
Well, first of all, I happened to expand a tad beyond the official roster to include Squeaky and Shlara, just because I ambled upon auction lots that seemed up their alleys, so to speak. I have been looking for items for Rootsy, the KQ's, and others, but please accept my apologies. This is a work in progress.

Second, some of you got more than one gift. Chalk it up to either disorganization on my part or that I got you something and then found something way more suitable.

Third, along the way “small somethings” became mildly more substantial. I won’t divulge how much so, but let’s just say I later needed to give myself an intervention to break myself of visiting the site every day.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the question of  What the Fuck Do I Do with My G:TBday Gift?

These are meant as silly gestures, but some of this stuff is kind of cool. If it’s crap, feel free to chuck it or shelve it in your garage. Or re-gift it. Or, of course, auction it off yourself and make a buck! If you like it, frame it. Or place it prominently in your home.

Or what I really, really hope you do (in the case of apparel) is wear it!! Framing signed jerseys seems silly to me. Wear it around. It’s a shirt and a conversation piece. I want photos of you with it in a bar. I've been wearing my signed Sonny Jurgensen jersey during Skins games for a few weeks. It worked well until last week.  Next up, Gary Clark.

Do whatever you want with it, my friends.

With all of that said, here we go…
(If it's in bold, this gift is currently en route to / has arrived at your respective places of residence.)


Timmy Marls is a good example of the aforementioned progression from silly to more substantial (and more silly). To start: who doesn’t want a perfectly frameable autographed action shot of a platoon second baseman? The Teufel Shuffle!
Tim Teufel Signed Mets 8x10 Photo Inscribed "86 WSC"

But then I saw the perfect gift to match his Twitter handle. Marls… I expect to see pictures of you wearing this around town whilst strolling your babe. Enjoy.
Dave Kingman Signed Mets Jersey Inscribed "442 HR"


I’m aware of a handful of Mark’s interests, and they include shoes. But the Michael Jordan Signed Original 1997 Nike Air Jordan 12 Flu Basketball Shoes were $3,150 and rising, so I went another direction. Towards Gainesville. I started with one guy local to my town and snagged this:
Percy Harvin Signed Florida Gators Jersey Inscribed "2x Nat'l Champ"

But then I (think I) remembered that Mark always appreciated the stylings of Corey Brewer, and I dig this particular photo, so what the hell?
Corey Brewer Signed Florida Gators 8x10 Photo


What else could it be, really?
O.J. Simpson Signed USC Trojans Jersey Inscribed "Heisman 68"

If you don’t take a marker and change the 68 to 69, I’ll be a tad disappointed. And you should wear this, no matter how big or how small on you it is. Keep the fire.

Oh, and speaking of Yacht Rock, you are also getting this.
John Oates Signed "Hall and Oates" 11x14 Photo


I was all over Buffalo, virtually speaking, but the truth was I had to reach out to Zed and ask him, seemingly randomly, who was his favorite Bill. I got my answer without any delay. The Thurmanator is on his way.
Thurman Thomas Signed Bills Jersey Inscribed "HOF 07"

As a throw-in, you get a little something from the tennis circuit:
Rod Laver Signed 8x10 Photo


This one was a real coup, considering that the item isn’t a regular occurrence on Pristine Auctions. Given the completion of your masterpiece this year, and that 1983 topped (sorry) them all, it feels so right. If you already have this complete set, it will feel so wrong, and I apologize.
1983 Topps Complete Set of (793) Baseball Cards with #498 Wade Boggs RC, #82 Ryne Sandberg, #482 Tony Gwynn

And this was a toss-in, a $3.81 purchase that made me chuckle and keep this pitcher a marketable auction commodity:
Bert Blyleven Signed 2011 Memories & Dreams Magazine


Dave was one of the most difficult to come up with, and I settled for the signed jersey from the QB of his second favorite team as a kid (we’ll ignore the guy’s supposed coaching career):
Jim Zorn Signed Seahawks Jersey

And then this appeared. And I had to have it. This is a coffee table companion, a drinking game starter, reading material for the john, and just stupidly amusing. The Dude abides:
Jeff Bridges Signed "The Big Lebowski" Full Movie Script


For Shlara, some eye candy for her wall. Enjoy.

Jay Wright Signed Villanova Wildcats 16x20 Custom Framed Photo Display


For Squeak, a jersey to wear whilst playing futbol.  I hope it fits, though most of these jerseys run pretty large.

Pele Signed Cosmos Jersey

And now for my favorite two gifts…


There are Red Sox items galore on Pristine, most of them vastly overpriced. I wanted to snag him a signed picture of Timmy Wakefield, a frequent subject of blessing and cursing at MLC during our 7-year run there. Alas, I lost out to an avid knuckler collector. Then, I wanted these:
Lot of (2) David Ortiz Signed Game-Used Batting Gloves Inscribed "9/30/16"
$220 was just out of my price range. Man, I would have enjoyed seeing Rob belly up to Tortuga’s next year with those on. I kept with the team theme when I scooped up this dandy:
Kevin Millar Signed Official 2004 World Series Baseball Inscribed "Cowboy Up"

Pretty cool. But then, one misty morning, like a vision, this gem appeared to me, as if to say, “Say when…”

Val Kilmer Signed "Tombstone" Cowboy Hat Inscribed "I'm Your Huckleberry"

Yes, yes, that’s right. A cowboy hat inscribed by Doc Holliday himself (well, Val Kilmer), “I’m Your Huckleberry.” So good. And so Rob. I battled for it and won it over some other eager bidder, walking over him like a ghost over Johnny Ringo’s grave. Gonna need to have Rob wear this around Loudoun County. Cowboy up, indeed.

And finally, perhaps the very reason I landed at this auction website at all…


You had to know this was coming, Dan.
Warren Spahn Signed Baseball

Yes. Free at last. The curse has been lifted. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. And I would actually be amused to no end if you played ball with it out by the creek.

(Back in 2014, Danimal promised to write the post that would explain this gift. Time’s up, Danny!)

* * * * *

So there it is – your G:TBday 15 gift extravaganza.

Oh, fear not, my friends, as I naturally treated myself to a few goodies along the way, including:

Dwight Gooden Signed Mets Jersey
Mike Mills Signed R.E.M. "Document" CD
Pernell Whitaker Signed 8x10 Photo
Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina Signed "Full Sail" Vinyl Album
Davey Johnson Signed 1986 World Series Baseball Inscribed "86 WS Champs"
George Wendt Signed "Cheers" 8x10 Photo
Jordan Reed Signed Redskins Jersey
Gary Clark Signed Redskins Jersey
Sonny Jurgensen Signed Redskins Jersey

Yep, this is all pretty ridiculous.  But something struck me yesterday as I sat in my office listening to a nice, if verbose, gentleman of easily 65 years issue the following definitive statement... he said, "You can count the number of truly great people you know personally on one hand."

All goofy, inane, preposterous, tongue-in-cheek, farcical, dipshittery aside, I immediately thought to myself, "He is so wrong. All my gheorghies are truly great, they number way more than five, and that's just my friends that write on a silly little blog." I thought that. I think that.  You guys are the best. And let me borrow from Coach Norman Dale.

I love you guys.  Here's to 15 more.  Happy G:TB Day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Happy New Year

On this election day, I'm here to break down...

Nah, I'm not here for that. What will be will be, with respect to the path our nation will choose. No, on this day, we celebrate something a lot more fun than politics.

Happy first day of the college basketball season, my friends. The schedule's packed with games, but the headliners feature Michigan State against top-ranked Kansas and Duke against Kentucky, both from Indianapolis.

The nightcap marks the competitive college debut, and one of likely just 30 some-odd collegiate games for Duke freshman Zion Williamson. One of the most hyped players in recent history, Williamson may be the rare beast to live up to the advance billing.

I saw the 6'7" Spartanburg, SC native at last year's Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, he was in street clothes due to injury. So I missed all this:

That shit is absurd.

Way more to come from these parts on the new season, including our This Year in Wrenball preview (hint: we're not going to make the dance this year, but we're going to be decent once again). But for now, let's just enjoy the fact that we can turn off our brains and enjoy some good old-fashioned amateur sports coached by millionaires.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

A New Era Bustin' Loose

Tonight in a heretofore overlooked and underserved section of the Nation's Capital, a renewal of sorts began to take root. The Capital City Go-Go played their first ever game, christening the D.C. Enterprise and Sports Arena with a 107-105 overtime loss to the Greensboro Swarm - they're doing their part to keep DC hoops terrible.

Chasson Randle led the home team with 37 points for head coach Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Mark's guy Chris Chiozza missed all seven of his three-point attempts, but the shortest guy on the floor grabbed 13 rebounds and added 10 assists. Former Kansas star Devonte' Graham had 31 for Greensboro, who overcame a 12-point deficit in the final 2:27 of regulation.

This isn't a game story. We don't do that here. But we need to celebrate the birth of the Go-Go somehow.

I got it:

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Vamos DC!

When we last looked in on DC United, the Black and Red had nearly completed an improbable climb from the cellar of MLS' Eastern Conference into a playoff berth. As our man TR pointed out in a comment yesterday, Ben Olsen's squad summitted that particular mountain, and stands poised tonight to take one more remarkable step.

Luciano Acosta loves GTB
DC United not only made the playoffs, they secured the fourth seed in the East and will host the Columbus Crew in a knockout match this evening at the resplendent new Audi Field. DC finished the season 12-2-1 at their home venue, now colloquially known as Fortress DC. (Just go with it, man.) The opening of the new park and its near-immediate transformation to a significant advantage for the home side was a major element of United's worst-to-fourth run.

United's opponent, Columbus Crew, has had its own drama this season, most of it off the field. Owner Anthony Precourt announced his intent to move the charter MLS club to Austin, TX, which touched off the #savethecrew movement. Just a few weeks ago, the league announced that an ownership group headed by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was purchasing the team and keeping in in Columbus. Carpetbagger/scumbag Precourt is getting an expansion team in Austin, so nefarious scheming still pays in Trump's America.

While the #savethecrew drama was playing out, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter (the extra 'g' is for Gregg) is widely rumored to be the next head coach of the US Men's National team. His live man walking story may have contributed to the Crew's stumbling finish to the season. They went from solidly within the playoff safe zone to needing help to qualify, losing seven of their final ten games.

DC United, meanwhile, won seven of ten, so they're the form side.

But as Olsen says as part of a much better preview than this hastily-dashed-off drivel (seriously, don't fact check this fucker), "“It’s better to be in form and getting results, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. You have to show up on Thursday, be the better team, and make the plays that make the difference.”

Roll the balls out, let 'em play. Vamos DC!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What Car Should a (non) Gheorghie Drive -- failed rushees Edition

I have WCSAGD ideas for all of you but I want to do each post justice. Rather than rush any of them, here’s a list requested by TR of cars for non-Gheorghe rush failures.

1. Sean took a shake and gave it back to go SAE in 1993. He was a bad bad man—he almost made the Olympic judo team. He also was a bad dude—he slapped his girlfriend at College Deli once. Luckily Teza knew the young lady in question and stepped in. Not many other guys on campus could’ve handled that situation. TR called this type guy a “diesel tool” because he’s a tool but he’s too diesel for you to do anything about it. Sean Hannon should drive a 1987 Buick Grand National GNX. It looks like something a villain would drive and it has a crazy powerful engine to destroy anyone else in a drag race, but it’s still a Buick.

2. Graham was Sean’s roommate. He also took a shake and gave it back to go SAE in 1993. I don’t remember much about him other than the time he said to me, after his shake, “We’re basically brothers now, right?” and I said “Well you still have to pledge.” Maybe that’s why he unshook himself—he was too shook to keep the shake. Otherwise he was pretty boring and unremarkable, but he was smart and I understand he’s very successful. He should drive a beige Toyota Camry, year and engine don’t matter. A completely bland and uninspired car that sells very well.

3. Boutros Boutros Batros also took a shake in 1993 and ditched it to go SAE. Craziest cross-rush pattern ever. I could see fading us for Lambo or even Theta Delt, but SAE is way way different. I don’t remember much about him either other than that he had $300 and could live in a room. He should drive a Honda Civic, basic transportation that you turn to out of necessity rather than interest.

4. Mikelowski took a shake and gave it back remain independent (I think) in 1993. We really killed it in the Fall 1993 rush, by the way. When he found out I was dating the woman who became my ex-wife he told her “Oh, you could do so much better.” He should drive a Trabant because it’s generally considered to be the worst car ever made anywhere in the world.

5. The Dwonger was TR’s favorite rushee ever. He was essentially an Asian version of TR but chubbier and happy and fun to be around. He was pretty fratty, in a sloppy fat drunk and happy kinda way. He became a Sig Ep. He should drive a 1966 Lincoln Continental converted into a Deathmobile.

6. Brandon should drive a 1995 Lincoln Town Car, the getaway car from the bank robbery scene in “Heat.”

7. The kid who transferred in from Villanova and took a shake only to give it back to go Sigma Chi should drive a Mini Moke.

8. I only saw Farrar a handful of times but he was always wearing a black Members Only jacket. He should drive a 1985 Pontiac Trans Am.

9. Warren initiated but I never saw him again so he should fly around in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.

Lynda Carter y'all.

Monday, October 29, 2018

What Car Should A Gheorghie Drive — rob Edition

rob recently bought a Mini Cooper convertible. His instincts are good, but this isn’t the exact car he should drive. In another overly long post, I’ll tell you the right car for rob.

rob is compact. He is also light. Based on this post he appears to be swift and nimble, some might say athletic and lithe.

No one would consider him to be particularly powerful or intimidating, in the physical sense. But he is a thinking man. He enjoys self-improvement, working on things over and over to improve his skills and get better. He loves sports in all forms and often waxes poetic about them, finding the sublime where others see only mundanity. I also sense that he’s meticulous about some aspects of his life, like his attire—he works hard at looking like he didn’t work hard to look cool (or at least something approaching cool).

rob should drive a 1965 Lotus Elan in British Racing Green with a yellow skunk stripe.

The Elan is the epitome of British sports cars. Some consider it to be the ultimate roadster. Others say it is the best handling car ever. It is the perfect embodiment of Colin Chapman's philosophy to "simplify, then add lightness.”

Chapman also noted that "Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere." The Elan is really light—rob's 1965 version only weighted 1,485 lbs. For comparison, a 2018 Mazda Miata weights 2,332 lbs. One of the reasons the Elan is so light is that it is really really small. Like, insanely tiny.

The Elan only made 105 horsepower, but with so little mass to cart around it could hit 60 MPH in 7.6 seconds. And with a low center of gravity, short wheelbase, and genius suspension geometry, skillful drivers barely need to use the brakes to navigate turns. Despite being wildly underpowered compared to other cars of the period, the Elan could get around the track faster than everyone else through a combination of small size and cleverness. That said, it takes practice to hustle one of these things through the chicanes. You can't just jump in and drive like Jim Clark, you have to learn how to finesse an Elan properly.

And it's really fucking cool! For example, before she was Olenna Tyrell, Diana Rigg tore around England in a catsuit and an Elan. Paul Newman had one too.

Talk to any Elan owner or read their comments on message boards or car-related websites, and you'll see just how much people love these cars. Once you get to know one of these diminutive little buggers they inspire tremendous loyalty and affection. That's what rob should drive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Game, Blouses

The NBA's now-annual City Edition uniform program gave us some dope togs last year. Utah's, in particular, was inspired. And Milwaukee's was pretty killer, too.

 But none may be as good as this year's Minnesota Timberwolves' City Edition gear.

Inspired by the Twin Cities' most famous musical resident (with apologies to Husker Du), the Wolves' kits feature a font that looks just like that on Prince's Purple Rain album cover.

I don't care what the rest of the uniform looks like. I only want to see these standing in the purple rain.

(We already had a Game Blouses label. We're the best.)