Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Computer Viruses Really, Really Stink

Over the last two weeks, I have been recovering after being struck with the PC Defender computer virus. It incapacitated my computer and attempted to steal my identity (unsuccessfully).

It was a real wake up call to how screwed you can be if you lose your on-line part of your life, this blog notwithstanding. I lost all ability to stay ahead of the curve at work, been missing out on the kid's school stuff (since it's all on line too) and just general entertainment.

My initial estimates for repair ranged from 200-300 bucks and there was no way I was going to spend that much. I began looking for a new computer until a co-worker from the tech department offered to help. Since I was on his time (and for free), I had to take what I could get. I just got the box back yesterday evening.

I am in the process of repopulating all the files that were able to be saved and uncorrupted. I am reloading all of the old programs that had to go as a result of the restart. I'm also in the middle of baseball practice, Cub Scouts, doctor's appointments, school conferences, parent organizations and not to mention family time.

I hope to resume posting again shortly. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

#266 Bernie Carbo

Who was this player?
Bernie Carbo, reserve outfielder, St. Louis Cardinals
By the time the 1980 season had ended, Bernie Carbo had completed a very interesting season. The lefthand hitting veteran began the season with the St. Louis Cardinals, appeared in only 14 games and was released on May 28th after batting just .182. When he failed to land a job with another major league club, he became a hairstylist in his native Detroit. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed him for the stretch drive, and he appeared in seven September games, batting .333. When the Pirates released him on October 8, his seven year major league career had come to an end.

As a highly touted prospect, Carbo was selected on the first round of the 1965 amatuer draft by the Cincinnati Reds, ahead of longtime Royal Hal McRae and future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. He was with the Reds by 1970 and posted career highs in several offensive categories. Carbo helped lead the Reds to the World Series and was selected Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News. He was involved in one of the more controversial plays in Series history, when he was called out at home plate by umpire Ken Burkhart as Burkhart had his back to the play.

However, Carbo was unable to maintain the momentum of his strong rookie campaign. In recent years, he has claimed that he initially became addicted to speed in Cincinnati and that invariably led to other drugs. In Carbo's words:
I was introduced to cocaine in 1973. So from 1973-80, I was taking Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Darvons, sleeping pills, smoking dope, drinking beer, doing cocaine, and chasing women, and I never played a day without it.

He never again fully achieved full-time playing status and moved to several teams throughout his 12-year career: Cincinnati, St. Louis, Boston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. It was with the Red Sox, though, where Carbo achieved his greatest fame and made his deepest connection with fans. His pinch-hit home runs in the 1975 World Series endeared him across New England and when he was shipped out of Beantown in 1978, it was seen as a dramatic blow to the team's psyche.

After retiring, Carbo became a born-again Christian and stopped using drugs and alcohol. In 1993, he founded Diamond Club Ministry in an effort to aid and instruct youth. He was the manager of the independent Pensacola Pelicans for three years (2003-05) and was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also currently active with the Red Sox Alumni Association.

Why I love this card
In 1980, I knew nothing of Carbo's pinch-hit homers, his drug use or the play at the plate in the 1970 Series. All I knew was that Bernie Carbo had one awesome afro. My Mom thought that he looked like Art Garfunkel. Yes, I knew who Bernie Carbo was before I knew who Art Garfunkel was.

Something else....
I thought that it was ironic that the Carbo story made the rounds this week with a post on him upcoming. At first, I thought it was an April Fool's joke making the rounds on the internet, but apparently Carbo has been quite open about his addiction for some time. I still wish I could find more information about his time as a hairdresser.

On this date in 1980:
The Grateful Dead appeared on Saturday Night Live. You can watch a snippet of the show here. There's a brief mention of the Pirates in there and the start of the 1980 season.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

#265 Robin Yount

Who is this player?
Robin Yount, shortstop, Milwaukee Brewers
Hall of Fame, Class of 1999
When the 1980 season began, most preseason publications expected the Milwaukee Brewers to contend. Amazingly, many of them did not devote a lot of ink discussing shortstop Robin Yount. While the Brewers may have not lived up to their billing, Yount took a big step forward in 1980, as he achived career highs in most offensive categories (since surpassed). He was selected to the American League All-Star team for the first time, won the Silver Slugger Award and led the league in doubles. When the season concluded, Yount was now firmly established as one of the top shortstops in all of baseball.

A baseball prodigy from William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, CA, Robin Yount was the third overall selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1973 amatuer draft. After half a year in the minors, the 18-year old Yount was inserted into the Milwaukee lineup on Opening Day 1974 and remained there for the next 20 seasons. While major league stardom did not come immediately, he still set a record in 1975 for most games played in the major leagues as a teenager. Robin also created a small controversy in 1978 when he threatened to retire from the game and take up professional golf.

It was during the 1980s where Yount built his Hall of Fame career. In addition to leading all of baseball in base hits during the decade, Yount was also a two-time American League MVP (1982, 1989). He was one of the few power hitting shortstops in the history of baseball in the early part of the decade but a shoulder injury moved him to centerfield in 1985. He remains only one of four players to win the MVP at two different positions.

1982 was likely his most memorable year. In addition to being named a starter in the All-Star Game, Yount helped directly lead the Brewers to their only World Series appearance to date. He led the league in hits, doubles and slugging en route to a .331 29 114 season. Robin dramatically hit two homers off of future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer on the final day of the season to clinch the AL East and became the only player in history to have two 4-hit games in the World Series. Unfortunately, Milwaukee fell short in seven games.

As the 1990s opened, Yount was tabbed as likely to achieve 4000 hits. He reached 3000 in 1992 and retired the following year at the relative young age of 37. He retired as the team leader in nearly every offensive category. Yount was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 in one of the most memorable classes of all-time (Nolan Ryan, George Brett). In retirement, he has served as coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Brewers and most recently released a lemonade drink, called Robinade.

Why I love this card
The mention of Robin's brother Larry on the back of the card. It puzzled me for years since I tried to equate him with Jim Perry or Joe Niekro. If he was the brother of a major leaguer, my logic went, then he must have a card or at least have done something notable. Turns out Larry Yount did. He was injured warming up on September 15, 1971. Since he was announced, he entered the game, but did not throw a major league pitch. He was never recalled to the majors after that so he is listed with 1 game played but no batters faced.

Something else....
Apparently, William Howard Taft High has some notable alumni. Other than Yount, the school was also home to Ice Cube, Bailey from WKRP, Phoebe from
Friends, the voice of Handy Manny, and Jenny from Forrest Gump.

On this date in 1980:
As Spring Training came to a close, the Milwaukee Brewers released catcher Ray Fosse. The 32-year old Fosse had been trying to stay in the majors as a backup catcher but instead, his star-crossed career came to an end.