Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trivia Down Through The Decades This Week

Trivia Night returns to Professor Thom's this Wednesday night at 8:30 PM with "Name The Decade Trivia" as the Special Category. I will give you seven events down through history (since the start of the 20th century, that is), and you have to tell me which decade it occurred in (like the 1950s for example). The questions will encompass such subjects as history, sports, music and other pop culture examples.

The Q Train lightning round will be "US Historic Places Trivia." I will give you the names of ten famous places in America and you have to tell me which state you would find it in.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"How many chess pieces in total are there for each player in a standard game of chess?"

We've had some huge crowds in the two weeks I have returned to Professor Thom's, so come out as early as you can on Wednesday night! See you then.

Monday, February 27, 2017

"Beyond the Ballpark"

I am a big fan of reading baseball histories and biographies, and the first one I have read in 2017 is "Beyond the Ballpark: The Honorable, Immoral, and Eccentric Lives of Baseball Legends." It was written by John A. Wood, who is a professor of religion at Baylor University, and is also a member of SABR, the Society of Baseball Research.

Wood has complied a book on the lives of 50 members of Baseball's Hall of Fame, and it goes beyond the usual statistics that the greats have put together that fanatics like myself can quote in their sleep. He puts his immortals into four categories: "Good Guys," "Mixed Bags", "The Eccentrics" and the "Sad Cases."

The Good Guys are the ones you'd expect, like Walter Johnson, Hank Greenberg and Cy Young. Men who lived stellar lives and who'd love to go and have a beer with and talk about not just baseball but life in general.

The Mixed Bags are the men who were great players or managers, but whose flaws are well-known, like John McGraw, Ty Cobb and Leo Durocher. McGraw is shown as a caring and decent man away from the game but will do anything, absolutely anything, to win games.Wood goes into plenty of detail about Cobb, one of MLB's most controversial figures of all-time, and about Cobb and race. He repeats some of the widely-held beliefs about Cobb's racism, which has been challenged recently. (Please read Charles Leerhsen's terrific book "Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty", which seeks to debunk many of which Wood goes into.)

The Eccentrics goes into what can easily be called "The Clown Princes of Baseball." They include Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel and Rube Waddell. I've always found Rube an interesting study, and Wood goes into all his antics, from chasing fire engines to playing with kids by the stands. These are the guys who made baseball fun, and MLB today could always use guys like this today.

The final chapter is the Sad Cases, the immortals who made their mark on the game, but came to sad ends after their playing days concluded, such as Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and the trio of Tinker, Evers and Chance.

Wood goes into plenty of detail about the lives after baseball of all the immortals in his book, touching on their religions, families and wives, and how successful they were in the next lives. It is a fascinating look at the men whose exploits on the field will live forever at Cooperstown, but for many, weren't as successful when the game concluded.

"Beyond the Ballpark" is now available through Rowman & Littlefield Books.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"Playing Pepper 2017: Boston Red Sox"

I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and before every season, Daniel Shoptaw, who runs the fine blog covering the Cardinals, C70 At The Bat,  puts together a collection of questions for bloggers of every club about how they think the team they cover will do. I have taken part in the Q&A for the last few seasons, and this year is no exception. Here are five questions Daniel asked me about the Red Sox and their chances for 2017. (And here is the complete post for all the Red Sox bloggers involved this year.)

My thanks to Daniel and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance for letting me take part again this year.

C70: Was it a good offseason for the team? Did they do what they needed to do? Is there any move you wished they had made that they didn’t?

MQM: I thought it was an excellent offseason for the Red Sox. They filled a huge hole in the rotation with the trade for Chris Sale. It now gives the Sox an amazing 1-2-3 at the top of their rotation. They gave up two of their best prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, but they have a deep system, and Sale is still of MLB’s best left handers. I am also very glad the neither Andrew Benintendi nor Jackie Bradley was sent in the trade. The trade for reliever Tyler Thornburg gives the Sox another power arm at the end of the game, and it offsets the losses of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. I also like the free agent signing of Mitch Moreland, as he is the current Gold Glove winner at first base, and allows the Sox to give Hanley Ramirez more time at DH.

C70: 2017 starts the post-David Ortiz era. How different will that be for you and for the team?

MQM: There is simply no replacing David Ortiz. He is the greatest clutch hitter in team history and a sure Hall of Famer. He went out in 2016 on his own terms, and I have great respect for him for that. Big Papi’s departure will be felt by everyone, but it will be up to the guys in the middle of the order, Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to pick up the slack. The Sox have put together a very good young team that will just get better. We will also see if Pablo Sandoval can return from the shoulder surgery and return to form. He’s lost a lot of weight and so far management is happy with his progress. Dustin Pedroia now becomes the “grand old man” on the Sox, and I’d love to see him officially become the team captain.
 C70: What’s the thinking on Craig Kimbrel? A bit of an off year or the beginning of a decline?

MQM: It’s hard to say if this is the beginning of a decline for Craig Kimbrel. It may have just been a year of adjustment to Boston for him. He was very good after he had knee surgery in July, but there were games when he simply couldn’t find the plate, and his walk totals just exploded. The Sox made a wise move bringing in Tyler Thornburg, who has experience as a closer in the past. If Kimbrel struggles early in 2017, I’m sure the wolves will be howling at his door.

C70: Is there an unheralded player that people should keep an eye on this season?

MQM: Reliever Carson Smith returns from Tommy John surgery by mid-season, and it will be interesting to see if he can bounce back quickly. He put up excellent numbers as a setup man in Seattle, and most Red Sox fans don’t know much about him. He could be an excellent addition around the trade deadline. It was also be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with their catching situation. Is this the year Blake Swihart goes back behind the plate and has a breakout season? 

C70: What’s your projection of the team’s record and/or where will they finish in the division?

MQM: The Sox won 93 games and the division in 2016, and I expect them to top that in 2017. They’ll take the East this year with 95 wins. The Blue Jays will give them the most problems, but Toronto has slightly regressed. The Orioles and Yankees will fight it out for third, and the Rays are still the bottom team of the division.

C70: Who is your all-time favorite Red Sox and why?

MQM: I became a Red Sox fan in my youth because I was a Carl Yastzemski fan and he will always be my favorite. He will be closely followed by David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia from this generation. They both were heavily responsible for bringing championships to Red Sox Nation, and they made my life in New York City so much more bearable!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trivia Q&A: February 22

On my second night back at Professor Thom's, we had an amazing turnout of 25 teams for Trivia on Wednesday night. The bar was just packed as we got going at 8:30, and there were even folks standing, with all the tables and seats gone. That was just incredible to see.

The scores were generally strong through the night, but I may have made Academy Awards Trivia a bit too tough. We had a good race with seven of the teams within six points of the top going into the final round. But the team of DIMS won the night, getting 49 points and winning by four points. Second place went to Gassy Baby with 45 points, and third place went to Slap The Bag with 44 points.

Best Team Name went to "Gonorrhea With The Wind."

My thanks to all of you for such a wonderful turnout, and all the compliments many of you gave me when the night concluded.

Current Events
1. Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate last week to be the head of what government agency?
2. Princess Cristina of what European country was found not guilty in a business fraud case and she was the first member of that royal family to stand trial?
3. Scientists believe there is an underwater land mass beneath what Pacific Ocean nation that can be classified as a new continent?
4. C-SPAN released its Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership last week, and ranked this president as the best ever for the thirs straight time.
5. What 1970s teen hearthrob gave a concert in southern California and appeared to have slurred his words and at one point fell off the stage during the show, and he has now revealed he's battling dementia?
6. Daniel Craig officially became the second-longest serving actor to play the role of James Bond this past week, 4,147 days (11 1/2 years). What actor was James Bond the longest?
7. Vitaly Churkin, the UN ambassador from what country for the last 11 years, died suddenly this past Monday from heart failure?

Academy Awards Trivia
1. Which 1970 film by the Beatles won an Oscar for Best Original Score?
2. Who is the only actress to win four Best Actress Oscars?
3. What actor has been nominated a record 12 times for acting Oscars?
4. In March 1981, the Academy Awards ceremony was postponed for just the second time in its history and for 24 hours for what reason?
5. What 1977 film was Woody Allen's first movie to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay?
6. Denzel Washington won his first Academy Award for what film?
7. Martin Scorsese won his first Best Director Oscar for what 2006 film?

The Q Train: 1-25 Trivia
1. This number is needed to win a game in badminton or table tennis.
2. A total number of this many men walked on the moon.
3. Abraham Lincoln was this number US president.
4. This is the number of frames per second at which motion picture film is usually projected.
5. Jim Carrey starred in a 2007 film about an obsession with this number.
6. Aquarius is this number sign of the zodiac.
7. This is the number of points on a Star of David.
8. This is the number of holes in a stipulated round of golf.
9. At the Last Supper, there were many people around the table.
10. This number has been retired for MLB Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Reggie Jackson.

General Knowledge
1. What star sign would you be if you were born on July 22nd? ( 1 pt)
2. How many square inches are there in one square foot? ( 1 pt)
3. What do the letters FM stand for in radio? ( 1 pt)
4. The Willis Tower is located in what US city? ( 2 pt)
5. In what field of endeavor is the Fields Medal awarded? ( 2 pt)
6. From which country do the most tourists who come to the US each year? ( 2 pt)
7. What is the largest state in Australia by area? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Percheron, Lippizzaner and Appaloosa are all breeds of what animal? ( 4 points)
2. Aquidneck Island is located in what eastern US state? ( 4 points)
3. Hanson's Disease is better known bt what more common name? ( 5 points)
4. Who was the first MLB player to have his number retired? ( 4 points)
5. What color appears in the title of all three studio albums by Nicki Minaj? ( 3 points)

Current Events
1. EPA; 2. Spain; 3. New Zealand; 4. Abraham Lincoln; 5. David Cassidy; 6. Roger Moore; 7. Russia.

Academy Awards Trivia
1. "Let It Be;" 2. Katherine Hepburn; 3. Jack Nicholson; 4. Ronald Reagan shooting; 5. "Annie Hall;" 6. "Glory;" 7. "The Departed."

The Q Train: 1-25 Trivia
1. 21; 2. 12; 3. 16; 4. 24; 5. 23; 6. 11; 7. 6; 8. 18; 9. 13; 10. 9.

General Knowledge
1. Leo; 2. 144; 3. frequency modulation; 4. Chicago; 5. mathematics; 6. Canada; 7. Western Australia.

IQ Trivia
1. horse; 2. Rhode Island; 3. leprosy; 4. Lou Gehrig; 5. pink.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Oscars Take Center Stage Wednesday Night

On Wednesday night, Trivia returns to Professor Thom's at 8:30 PM with the Special category of "Academy Awards Trivia," seven questions about the history of the Oscars, regarding films, actors and actresses, and general records about the film industry's biggest night.

The Q Train lightning round will be "1-25 Trivia." I will ask you 10 general knowledge questions, and every answer will be a number from 1 to 25. And every answer will be a different number, so there will be no repeat answers.

The Sneak Peek question is:
"How many square inches are there in one square foot?"

We'll get going at 8:30 PM tomorrow. Remember that first place is a $50 gift card to the bar, while second place is one for $20, and third place is a pitcher of beer. Best team name will also get a free pitcher of suds as well. Professor Thom's is a 219 2nd Avenue, between East 13th and 14th Streets. Hope to see many of you tomorrow night!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Back In The Trivia Saddle Again

Hello all Trivia players! Yours Truly is back to hosting Trivia again, and I'm back where it all started for me, Professor Thom's. Yes, the "divorce" is officially over, and I will be hosting Trivia every Wednesday night at 8:30 PM.

I last hosted Trivia there over four years ago, and we actually had our first Trivia Night last night, and we had a terrific turnout of 16 teams, and even a few old friends turned out to wish me well.

I'm doing the same format I've always done. Five categories featuring Current Events, General Knowledge and IQ Trivia, along with the two special categories. We'll be giving away a $50 gift card to the winners, $20 to second place and a pitcher of beer to third place. And we will award a pitcher of beer to the best team name.

Last night seemed like I never left. I appreciate all the good wishes I've gotten so far.

Every Tuesday morning, I'll be posting the Sneak Peek question along with the two special categories. And on Thursdays, I'll post the previous night Trivia Q&A.

Professor Thom's is located at 219 2nd Avenue, between East 13th and 14th Streets. I look forward to seeing many of you on a future Wednesday!

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Truck Heads South Today

We had an amazing comeback finish in the Super Bowl last night, as the New England Patriots erased a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28. It was simply a stunning finish, with the Pats marching down the field in overtime to score before Atlanta even got a chance to get the ball.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick earned their fifth Super Bowl ring each, and now there is no question that they are both the best of all-time at quarterback and head coach. Congratulations to all my friends who are Patriots fans, as it was an incredible game for the ages. (And after every team wins the Super Bowl, I always remind myself that I hope I live long enough to see the Minnesota Vikings lift the Lombardi Trophy. Just once.)

And that wraps up the NFL season. And that also means all eyes turn to baseball.

Today is Truck Day, as the Red Sox pack up at Fenway Park and send the tractor trailer on hits way south to Ft. Myers. Pitchers and catchers report next week.

A very Happy and Blessed Truck Day to you all!