1998

Scott Weiland is dead and nobody is really all that surprised about it

Scott Weiland is dead.

Anyone that knows a thing of two about Scott Weiland is hardly surprised by the news that spread throughout the world early Friday.

Over the course of a decade Weiland fronted Stone Temple Pilots, which built a massive following in the midst of a transition from the grunge era of the early 1990s to the stadium rock scene that followed.

Truthfully, I was lukewarm to STP’s arrival when their 1992 debut Core was put in rotation. The song “Plush” was just too much of a Pearl Jam ripoff for me to ever embrace. But then 1994’s Purple arrived and caught my attention with its layers of depth and groove. In 1996 Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop took the madness to an unprecedented level, and at that point I found myself in way over my head in the band’s psychedelic rollicking.

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Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell & MLB’s rookie one-swing wonders

Imagine waiting three years for your one big opportunity. Then imagine knocking it out of the park on the very first pitch.

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

That’s how the first Major League Baseball swing played out for Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell in 1986 when he connected for a homer off Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in his first trip to the big league plate.

It turns out that after being called up from the instructional league in September of that year Bell got some solid advice from future Indians manager Mike Hargrove, who advised the struggling hitter on the way to the airport to swing at the first pitch he sees as it would likely be a fastball.

The irony was likely not lost on the baseball fans in attendance that day.

After being taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1984 Bell was part of a minor league package shipped to Cleveland in exchange for Blyleven.

Cleveland also received pitcher Curt Wardle and outfielder Jim Weaver up front in the deal, and later pitcher Rich Yett. The man affectionately known as the Frying Dutchman would go on to help the Twins win a championship in 1987 just as Bell’s career was getting started.

Can you imagine how rare it must be to hit a major league home run off of the first pitch hurled your way?

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NASCAR wrecks that changed racing

Today’s Daytona 500 looks a lot different than it did decades ago. Although that’s a bummer for most purists of the sport, the advancements in safety that’s since altered races has proved necessary at each and every turn throughout NASCAR’s existence.

Take a look at the YouTube video below posted by MarkED912 featuring a long list of the crashes that have changed NASCAR over the years.

Playlist: Beck (1994-2014)

I never intended to make a post that’s in any way associated with the Grammy Awards.

Hell, I hardly even pay attention to the Grammy Awards, unless I’m wandering aimlessly on social media and happen upon the typically ridiculous placement of artists in categories of which they have no business earning an award.

But then Kanye West blasted Beck for winning album of the year, for an album I admittedly dismissed upon its release much in the same way I did Sea Change in 2002. And although I own multiple albums by both Kanye and Beck, I found West’s response to Beck’s triumph as equally annoying as nearly every other music fan.

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Playlist: Wu-Tang Clan solo & affiliate compilation (1997-98)

By the time Wu-Tang Forever was released in 1997 the Wu-Tang Clan were the undisputed leaders of a genre otherwise dominated by coastal beefs and southern cocaine rap. Forever reconnected its members for a double CD that showed the group at their peak following a string of standout solo albums, which I compiled into a 26-track collection back in May.

What followed in the wake of that release were a flood of side projects that incorporated countless affiliates of the group and set the stage for a second dose of solo albums from key members. But before those rolled out near the end of 1998, often overlooked projects during the two year period from 1997-98 featured countless tracks worthy of revisiting.

Missing from this compilation is tracks from Sunz of Man The Last Shall Be First (1998) and La The Darkman Heist of the Century (1998) because neither is available on Spotify. Killarmy Dirty Weaponry (1998) was produced by 4th Disciple and Mathematics but does not feature official members. All songs in this list are produced by RZA unless otherwise noted.

Let me know what you think. The third installment will be released before the end of the year.

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Michael Cuddyer Hits For the Cycle For Second Time in MLB Career

It’s hard enough for players to hit for the cycle at least once in their Major League Baseball careers, never mind becoming just one of three big-leaguers ever to do so in both the American and National leagues. What makes the only cycle of the 2014 season so interesting is the familiarity involving a couple players and a pair of games.

Late Sunday night Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer accomplished the feat with a huge grin on his face when he belted a double down the third base line off of Manny Parra in the eighth inning of a 10-5 win at home over the Cincinnati Reds.

While with the Brewers on May 22, 2009, Parra gave up three of the hits Cuddyer would need for his first cycle (while with the Minnesota Twins) before going on to finish it off at the Metrodome with a triple off of Jorge Julio, who had played for the Rockies two years earlier.

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Random Movie Review: The Best of Times (1986)

When news spread about the passing of Robin Williams on Monday in northern California people of all ages shared memories about what the actor and comedian meant to them over the years.

For me, I’ll always remember Williams for his roles in such movies as World’s Greatest Dad (2009), What Dreams May Come (1998), Good Will Hunting (1997), Jumanji (1995) and Dead Poets Society (1989).

But the first time I remember seeing Williams in a movie was when he played Jack Dundee in The Best of Times (1986). Dundee, a mediocre wide receiver at Midway Union High School in Taft, California dropped the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds of a rivalry game in 1972. After 13 years of living in agony as a banker in his blue-collar town, Dundee gets one more shot at hated rival Bakersfield High School.

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