Thursday, July 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday Janet Jackson!

I was digging through the catalog looking for a Throwback Thursday item and found some very interesting pieces. How about Bob Dylan? Burt Reynolds? Mike Ditka? These guys are all great but not really the kind of cultural icons capable of bringing back a flood of memories. And then I saw her, Janet Damita Jo Jackson. Janet Jackson! Holy crap, doesn’t get much more throwbacky than that that.

Janet Jackson Signed 8x10 Photo
Janet Jackson Autographed 8x10 Photo

Janet Jackson, the youngest of the nine Jackson kids (I bet you thought there were only 5), was born May 16, 1966 in Gary Indiana and was quickly assimilated into the family business. She first hit the stage at 7 when she joined the family in their Vegas stage show at the old MGM. Then it was on to TV; Good Times when she was 11, Diff’rent Strokes when she was 16 and then the dance school drama Fame in 1984.

*Trivia alert – she played Willis' girlfriend Charlene for 11 episodes of Diff'rent Strokes. How many times do think she had to hear “What you talking about Willis?”

By 1981 Janet’s brother Michael was a huge international star and dear old dad Joe thought she should release an album of her own.  Her first couple of albums did OK but in 1986 she blew up with the release of Control.  A massive hit with 5 singles, this is the album that took her out of her brother’s shadow.

Which brings us to 1989 when Janet released Rhythm Nation 1814. 14 million albums were sold, it won a record 15 Billboard awards, the Rhythym Nation long form video won a Grammy award, and Janet won Songwriter of the Year award from BMI.

Janet rocketed to the top of the pop music world and pretty much went on to own the 90’s as the world’s top Diva. So what else was going on in your world in 1989 Throwbackers? Here’s our short list of music, sports and entertainment moments:

Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrerzemski elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
Michael Jordan scores his 10,000th NBA point in his 5th season
Kareem Abdul-Jabar becomes 1st NBA player to score 38,000 points
Wayne Gretzky sets 2 records, his 45th hat trick & 10th 40+ goal season
Mike Tyson TKOs Frank Bruno in 5 for heavyweight boxing title
Madonna's "Like a Prayer" premieres on worldwide Pepsi commercial
Worst US oil spill, Exxon's Valdez spills 11.3 mil gallons off Alaska
NHL's NY Rangers fire GM & coach Phil Esposito
"Dead Poets Society" starring Robin Williams premieres
Mets Dwight Gooden wins his 100th game (100-37) 
Movie "Batman" premieres
Rod Stewart hits his head while on stage & knocks himself out
President Ronald Reagan sportscasts All Star Game
Pete Rose is suspended from baseball for life for gambling
Glenn Frey joins Don Henley on-stage (for 1st time since 1981)
Larry Bird (Celtics) begins NBA free throw streak of 71 games
Germans begin demolishing Berlin Wall

Monday, June 30, 2014

World Cup Soccer - German Style

World Cup Soccer - German Style

The World Cup is all about tradition, athleticism, national pride and heart. Some of this can be seen in the colorful and sometimes unusual nicknames that get hung on teams: Brazil: "Canarinho" ("Little Canary"), England: “Three Lions”, Mexico: "El Tri", Spain: "La Furia Roja" ("The Red Fury"), Netherlands: "Clockwork Orange", and Greece: "Piratiko" ("The Pirate Ship"). When you look at the teams you can see why they have these nicknames.

And then there’s Germany’s nickname; Nationalmannschaft (“National Team”) No frills here. No colors, no animals, no movie titles, no bullshit. Just 100% badass. The Germans show up at these World Cup events every four years with the expectation of winning every game, every time. Why do you need a funny name when you’re job is to make your opponents cry? Its German culture delivered to the world on a platter, and that platter is the green grass of the most famous sporting event on the planet.

For every team that makes it to Cup play, simply beating the German team is almost as good as winning the whole thing. In 2014 Cup play the Nationalmannschaft has been methodically grinding its way toward the inevitable (at least in their minds) and it will take the perfect storm to beat them. The Americans lost to Germany in Group play by 0-1 and you would have thought they beat Brazil in the final by the amount of press they received. Yeah, they moved to the next round but the big story was really about how they didn’t get run out the stadium.

The largest worldwide TV viewership happens when the Germans are on the pitch. Everybody loves watching them play. Their passing is crisp, their headers almost impossibly accurate, and they never seem to tire. They are simply a technical joy to watch. That said, there is also a bit of NASCAR fan in all of us – we want to see the favorite in a fiery crash. We want a close game. We root for some Cinderella team from a small South American country to keep it close, take them into overtime and maybe even a shootout. But in the end we want the A Team moving forward. We might not want the Germans to win the final but we sure do want to see them get there. The final won’t be at its best unless one of the teams is the machine that is Nationalmannschaft.

2014 Germany Team Autographed World Cup Home Jersey

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The LeBron James Sweepstakes

The LeBron James Sweepstakes

C’mon, admit it, you hate Lebron James because he appears to be an arrogant gazillionaire egomaniac. On the other hand, you love him because he is a bona fide basketball god. Love or hate, he might be on the move to a city near you. LeBron recently opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat to see how much attention and money he can attract from the rest of the basketball universe. In the wake of his announcement it seems likely the other two members of The Big Three, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, will also declare free agency. Hmmm.

These kinds of things get basketball fans all aflutter because it gives them hope that a championship might be in their near future. Great players floating around as free agents have that effect. The prevailing opinion on who might woo LeBron boils down to six possible suitors; Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Los AngelesLakers. These six are the only teams who can afford the LeBron entry fee of $23.7 million per year. (The going rate for Wade and Bosh will be substantially lower.)

Every team owner with a fat checkbook knows the formula for winning in the modern NBA; get one superstar, a couple of regular stars and then a roster full of pretty good role players. Worked for Boston Celtics during the Bill Russell and Larry Bird eras, worked for Los Angeles Lakers during the Wilt Chamberlin, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant era’s, and worked for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. In the tiny world of type-A billionaire team owners, winning is the business goal but having the best player is the personal goal. Its an ego thing.

Whatever the outcome of this exercise, the result will likely be the breakup of Miami’s fearsome Big Three. It’s a little sad but it’s been a good run for the Heat, lots of titles and a couple of championships. And its good for basketball because it keeps the mix fresh. 

Miami fans are already talking about the future of the franchise but they’ll never forget the magic of the LeBron era. 

LeBron James / Dwyane Wade / Chris Bosh signed Basketball
LeBron James / Dwyane Wade / Chris Bosh Autographed Basketball
autographed basketball memorabilia, signed basketball memorabilia, lebron james autograph, dwyane wade autograph, chris bosh autograph

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

15 Things About Soccer Star Rafael Marquez Alvarez

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Mexican Soccer Star Rafael Marquez Alvarez
Mexico National Football Team
One of the best things about high profile, televised sporting events is getting to know the players and their stories. Everybody has a story. From the poor kid who makes the team but never plays to the elite star who was born from royalty, every story has the same theme – natural talent and hard work. All players who reach the highest levels of competition are born with a natural desire to win and the ability to work hard. However, not all players are born with the talent to take them to the pinnacle of the sport.

Mexican Soccer Star Rafael Marquez Alvarez was born to play soccer. His father, Rafael Márquez Esqueda, was a professional soccer player in Mexico and taught his son everything he would need to know to ascend to the highest levels of soccer stardom. Rafa grew up to be big, fast and aggressive and became known for his fierce defensive skills. Through the course of his career he played with the best teams in Mexico and Europe and even took a weird detour through New York with Red Bull New York of the MLS. Marquez was a controversial figure during his time with Red Bull and was eventually lured away by Leon FC in Guanajuato Mexico in 2013.  

In 2014, Márquez made history by becoming the first player ever to captain his national team in four consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments. He led team Mexico in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Here are a few fun facts to impress your friends while watching the next game:

·      Full Name: Rafael Marquez Alvarez aka Rafa Marquez
·      Position: defensive midfielder
·      Height 6’1”
·      Weight 185 lbs
·      Born February 13, 1979 in Zamora Mexico (age 35)
·      The son of former professional soccer player Rafael Márquez Esqueda
·      Age 17 he made his professional Mexican debut with CS Atlas in 1996
·      Age 20 he made his professional European debut with AS Monaco in 1999
·      Age 24 he was signed by FC Barcelona with a yearly salary of $5 million
·      First player ever to captain a national team in four consecutive World Cups
·      Fastest player on team with reported top speed of 31.03 km/h (
·      Wife du jour: Jaydy Michel (ex-wife of singer Alejandro Sanz)
·      Random fact: Appeared  in the 2010 World Cup Shakira video Waka Waka
·      Appeared as a guest on talk show Hora Q in 2009
·      Net Worth $25 million

Rafael Marquez Signed Mexico Soccer Ball

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Monday, June 23, 2014

15 Things About Brazilian Soccer Star Neymar

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Brazilian Soccer Star Neymar

The Brazilian soccer prodigy known simply as Neymar has been hailed as the “second coming” and I’m not talking about Jesus, I’m talking about Pele (although I can see where Brazilians might get confused).
 Brazil Nation Soccer Team

At the tender young age of 22 Neymar has already had a remarkable career in the Brazilian pro soccer league and is off to a fast start in the Europe as a forward for perennial powerhouse FC Barcelona. Neymar joined soccer god Leo Messi at forward in 2013 and Camp Nou immediately became one of the hottest destinations on the continent. (Be ready to pay more than $500 per ticket from scalpers for a regular season game.) Here are a few fun facts to have at your fingertips while watching the next game with your friends:

·      Full Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Jr.
·      The son of a former professional soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos
·      Born February 5, 1992, in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil. At
·      Age 7 he joined the Portuguesa Santista youth club in 1999
·      Age 17 he made his professional debut with FC Santos in 2009
·      The Santos contract paid $1.7 million per year
·      Neymar scored his 100th professional goal on his 20th birthday in 2012
·      He received four straight Player of the Year awards while with FC Santos
·      Moved to Spain in 2013 to play for FC Barcelona
·      FC Barcelona signed a long-term contract worth $119 million
·      Lead Brazil to victory in the 2013 Confederations Cup
·      Height 5’9”
·      Weight 142 lbs
·      Girlfriend du jour: supermodel Gabriella Lenzi.

·      Car du jour: Audi R8

Neymar Signed 2014 Brazil Home Jersey
Neymar Autographed 2014 Brazil Home Jersey    

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Argentina and the World Cup

The Argentina National Football Team has a lot to prove during the 2014 World Cup and their first win over Bosnia and Herzegovina didn’t do much to advance their cause. They were not impressive as they struggled to beat an underrated Bosnia club. Lionel Messi admitted as much when he deadpanned “We must improve.”

But I’m not here to analyze the team; I’m here to chat about Argentina’s fans. Its been said that Argentina fans are among soccer's rowdiest and most violent and not above screaming about politics to anyone who will listen. Maybe, but maybe not. Not quite hooligans but certainly not saints. 

50,000 Argentines are believed to have made the trek from all points south to Brazil with the intent of supporting their team and raising a little hell along the way. Argentina and Brazil have a long history of friction and as a result have a complex relationship. Brazil is bigger, richer and generally dominates soccer in South America. Argentina is, well, Argentina. Dictators, corruption, a permanently teetering economy, open class warfare, and above all, the warmest, most fun loving people you would ever want to meet. The combination of the two cultures isn’t necessarily a conflict as it is competition, like a lively sibling rivalry.

Argentina does have reason to be a little more cocky this year in that they have a legitimate shot at going all the way after a long, 30 year dry spell. They also have a history of magic moments that can turn a game around in a moment like Diego Maradona's memorable "Hand of God" goal in a key quarterfinal match against England in 1986. Whatever the thinking process, Argentine fans are now taking every opportunity to remind the Brazilians that they too have won the World Cup and will do it again this year.

As we move through the series, pay attention to crowd shots from the stands, from street scenes, and from Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana beach. Look for any group of rambunctious fans wearing the signature blue and white shirts. When you spot them you can bet they’ll be giving everyone within earshot a speech on Argentine superiority and the futility of Brazil’s hopes. And they’ll be doing it with a smile.

2014 Argentina Team Signed World Cup Home Jersey
This Adidas Argentina 2014 World Cup Home Jersey has been personally hand signed by Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel Garay, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Fernando Gago, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Martín Demichelis, Maximiliano Rodriguez, Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero and Sergio Romero. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Greatest Sports Hero San Diego Ever Had

Mr. Padre has left the stadium. The sad news that Tony Gwynn finally succumbed to salivary gland cancer this week has reminded the baseball world what a remarkable man he was. Beyond being one of the best players to ever play the game, he was a devoted family man and active participant in more than two-dozen organizations including the Police Athletic League, the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation and Padres Scholars. Tony Gwynn was everywhere, all the time, helping whoever needed help and always with a smile on his face. He was the quintessential role model sports hero. 

To baseball fans Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters who ever lived and had the nicknames to prove it; The Sultan of Singles, The Master of Mechanics and Captain Video. His relentless work ethic and consistency produced results that are usually only found in cheesy Hollywood sports movies. The short list of ridiculously impressive numbers:
  • Played 20 years for one team, the San Diego Padres
  • 15 time All-Star
  • 3,141 hits
  • .338 lifetime batting average
  • Hit over .300 for 19 consecutive seasons
  • 8 batting titles
  • Struck out only 423 times total in 20 years (!)

I could go on but I think you get the point. He was awesome. When the experts talk about the science of hitting a baseball they talk about three guys -Tony Gwynn, Honus Wagner and Ted Williams. That’s some rarified air there.

From all accounts, Tony Gwynn was a great player and, more importantly, an even better person. That he died at the relatively young age of 54 makes this story even sadder. However, to his legions of fans, Tony will live on through fond memories and his good works. But mostly he’ll be remembered for lending a helping hand as a smiling hero. RIP Mr. Padre.

Baseball Hall of Fame Legends Signed Photo
Baseball Hall of Fame Legends Autographed Photo