Remembering Dock Ellis and His No-Hitter on LSD

I never saw Dock Ellis pitch, but I always loved hearing his story of throwing the no-hitter while high on LSD.

Sadly, on this date in 2008, Dock Ellis passed away. Thankfully, we can re-live his greatest accomplishment through the video magic of No Mas, a clothing company.

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(Un)Happy Birthday Kevin McHale, You Cheap and Dirty Player

December 19 marks Kevin McHale’s 54th birthday and while he was the Chris Bosh of the Celtics (meaning he was riding more talented players’ coattails to wins) he is often lumped in with those great Boston team’s and their success.

However, he pulled one of the dirtiest moves in NBA history when he clotheslined Kurt Rambis during the 1984 NBA Finals. The NBA gods have made sure he pays for it, as he has been the Matt Millen of GM’s in the Association.

Bad draft moves, terrible trades and cheating (remember the secret Joe Smith deal that got Minnesota in heaps of trouble?) have tarnished his career.

Ahh, but it was tarnished well before then by this terribly dirty play. Even Celts fans have to agree that it was a cheap, classless move.

Christmas Memories: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

One year, I thought I got screwed out of my No. 1 gift on my Christmas list. Every kid has a pecking order of what they want. If they don’t get No. 2 or No. 3, so long as they got No. 1, they are happy.

I couldn't wait for this man to get into my living room.

That year, I think it was 1988, it wasn’t as if I was pissed that I was – to a point – getting screwed out of my No. 1 gift. It was the year the Dodgers won, what I thought would be many, World Series (Nope!) and it was a year where the Lakers had earlier won a title. So, I was playing with house money when it came to really getting what I wanted.

Then, Christmas morning, I got my gifts and as a kid on Christmas morning, was obviously excited. I don’t remember if it was the year we got our beagle, or if it was another one of Santa’s great gifts, followed by a bounty of toys from my folks.

Yet, my No. 1 gift, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, had never materialized on Dec. 25. Maybe I hadn’t asked Santa enough, or dropped enough hints to my parents that I wanted the game all my friends were playing and talking about. Was this my fault?

A few days after Christmas my dad took us to visit his parents and to celebrate Christmas with them. When I unwrapped my final gift, it was a calculator box.

“Thanks!” I said with as much enthusiasm as a kid who gets new underwear on Christmas morning.

I was urged to open the box, but said “It’s OK, I’ll play with it later.” Then I was urged some more to open the box. Fine, I thought, I can write 55378008 and 710773435 on it and turn it upside down and get a laugh (Boobless and Shell Oil).

Inside the stupid calculator box was my No. 1 gift – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. Rejoice! I was excited. Not N-64 kid excited, but I was happy. I had received my No. 1 gift. Finally.

Problem was … my Nintendo was at home and we were at my grandparents for another three days. Talk about buzzkill.

Now, I know my family all coordinated to get me what I really wanted that Christmas and ultimately it came true, but why leave a kid to experience all that dry-humping? What is this, Penn State? (sorry, had to) From not getting the game to finally getting it on the 27th or 28th, to having to wait to play it, it wasn’t nearly as much fun to finally get to play it three days later.

From racist characters to a drunk, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out had it all.

Eh. I made sure to play the snot out of that game for the rest of my Nintendo’s days. I never did beat Mike Tyson, but I had a helluva lot of fun knocking around Piston Honda and Soda Poppinski and even doing some great battles with Super Macho Man and developing Nintendo Thumb. (Tangent: I didn’t realize it at the time, but Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out might have been the last game released that completely throws every stereotype out there and celebrates it – from Piston Honda’s overly slanted eyes and how he talks to the German talking about drinking to “Soda” Poppinski actually drinking and Great Tiger wearing a turban, Punch-Out was ridiculous and probably helped all kids develop their stereotypes.)

Was it well worth the wait? You bet. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play right now. Thanks so much, Internet.

Nintendo Thumb Goes the Way of the Dodo Thanks to PlayStation

Video games have been a small, but influential, part of my life since that day my mom brought home the original Nintendo. Maybe the small thrill I still get out of video games is because I was the first kid I knew to have a Nintendo and play Super Mario Bros. despite the fact I had a single mom busting her ass at work just to make sure we had clothes on and were fed at night.

Oftentimes, nowadays, I will come home from work and just want to veg out with a cocktail and play an hour of video games. It’s rather relaxing and helps ease my mind.

And, of all the years I’ve been playing, first, a PlayStation 2 and now a PlayStation 3, something just occurred to me last night.

I no longer get Nintendo thumb.

Of course I don’t have marathon RBI Baseball tournaments or Super Mario Saturday’s with my friends anymore, so perhaps the 12-hour days of trying to capture the princess have allowed my left thumb to become soft and fleshy.

That damn + controller always led to raw thumbs.

But, when running around the field with Tim Tebow last night, I finally realized the purpose of the joysticks on the PlayStation – and XBox – controllers.

I only thought they were for shooter games and potentially making shifty moves in Madden with a running back; or to rock and fire with a pitcher and move around the protagonist in an adventure game.

Ah, the relief my thumb feels from the joystick.

For years and years when I played Madden, I used the + on the controller to move my men around the field. Old habits die hard, I suppose. Yet, last night when I scrambled around with Tebow, I started using the joystick liberally.

It was like the first time I heard The Beatles.

No more shoots of pain in my thumb. Had I played until dawn, my thumb would be ready for a Super Mario Saturday. I would not need a bandage just to do mundane things as the blister would form from dominating my console.

Stupidly, I always thought the joystick was there to flip back and forth while waiting for your game to load, or to line up your kicks in Madden, or select things during pauses in action games.

Now I know that not only have the graphics of games gotten better, the actual controller has helped erase the weekend pain of Nintendo thumb.

Yeah, it’s only been about 10 years since I have been using one of these controllers, so maybe in the next decade I’ll be able to properly use the Internet, understand the advantage of HDTV and how to appropriately download apps on my smart phone.

As I said … old habits die hard.

RIP Nintendo thumb.

The 9-9-9 Challenge

I don’t remember the first time I heard about the 9-9-9 Challenge, but I knew that I had to at least try it. I told my friends, Mike Moriatis and Mike Traphagen, about it earlier this baseball season and the three of us were down to attempt the feat. Rather than do it at a ballpark where it would cost close to $200, we decided to attempt it during Game 1 of the World Series. We have been planning this for months. So, I decided to write a running account of what happened on Wednesday night.

The 9-9-9 Challenge is simple: You eat nine hot dogs, drink nine beers and do it during a baseball game, so for nine innings. If the game goes extras, you don’t need to continue playing. You can eat and drink ahead of the action if you so desire, as long as you go all 9 for 9.

There is a website dedicated to this (of course) so check out 999allstar.com where they have official rules, a Hall of Fame and gear.

The 9-9-9 Challenge is a ridiculous culinary feat that should be featured on Man Vs. Food, but only if the hot dogs were Dodger Dogs and the beers were from Stone Brewery. Since there are no official rules on the dogs or the beer we went with regular hot dogs and Bud Light. Now, so everyone knows, we are not big Bud Light fans (drinking it only when it’s over 100 degrees outside or when we’re trying to get absolutely smashed) but for the sake of the evening this was the best beer to drink so it wouldn’t completely weigh us down.

By the way, all photos are taken by Mike Moriatis, a hell of a good photographer. Check out his work here: unitstills.net)

Manning the grill.

Here is the running diary of the evening:

By the time Ian Kinsler was thrown out trying to steal second, I was done with my dog & halfway through my beer. Good start? Who knows?

A quick half inning is not a good start. At the commercial break I finish my beer. MM has about half left. Oh wait, now he doesn’t.

By the way, we are all rooting for Texas.

MM: Did you see the kid who dressed up as Ron Washington?

Me: Yeah. I think he snorted coke just like Washington too.

It took 5 outs for us to bring up Tony Larussa’s shingles. Damn, those pictures are awful. But funny.

End of the first inning. “Two!” we yell.

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Too Legit To Quit … A Look Back

For anyone who is older than 25 and was somewhat cognizant in the early 1990s, the following words cannot be said around you without you either A) making the hand gesture or B) thinking of making the hand gesture.

Those words are: “Too Legit to Quit” which sometimes seem to just amble out of someone’s mouth when verifying that things, indeed, are cool. Or legit. Or spot on.

“That’s legit!” someone might exclaim. Then, they might even throw in the famous MC Hammer line. Then, inexplicably, the awesome hand gestures start in your mind.

As a sports-crazed kid who wasn’t really allowed to watch MTV because it was a little risque (how about now? Snooki showing her cookie? Teen Mom?) sometimes I would sneak looks at videos when MTV actually, you know, played videos.

(Oddly enough, I was allowed to have both the Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer cassettes. Vanilla Ice mainly talked about drugs, guns and hos, which I guess is what a rapper is supposed to do. That was viewed as OK since my mom didn’t know the lyrics, but MTV was a no go.)

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Glen Rice and Sarah Palin Hooked Up … Where’s the Problem?

When Glen Rice was relevant – before this week – we loved him as a player. A lot of that came from his proficiency in NBA Jam.

As a Southern Californian, we had no ties to the Miami Heat, except that Harold Miner was from USC and labeled the next Michael Jordan and his NBA Jam stats were way too good. Add him and Glen Rice and they were one of the the best combos in the game. When you featured Glen Rice’s accuracy from 3-point land and Miner’s dunking prowess, you had a lethal combination.

(We will stand by this until we die – the way to win in NBA Jam is simply to have an awesome 3-point shooter – at least a 9 – combined with a power presence in the paint. You control the gunner, let the computer clean up the mess and you win easily. Every time.)

When Rice came to the Lakers, all of Los Angeles was excited. Here was the missing ingredient from a title. Adding a player who could pour in 20 a game with Shaq and Kobe meant an 82-0 season and average wins by 25 points.

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