FANTASY FOOTBALL: THE THRILL

The year was 1963. The place was New York City’s Milford Plaza Hotel. A limited partner of the Oakland Raiders, Wilfred Winkenbach and Bill Tunnell, the Raiders former public relations manager, along with a reporter Scotty Stirling created what would become the first Fantasy Football League. Who would have known at that time that this interactive virtual reality competition would become such a phenomenon.

Fast forward to 2013. The Internet has transformed Fantasy Football from a Cult Obsession into a mainstream phenomenon. Today an estimated 28 Million People play in some type of Fantasy Football League, and the virtual league garners an estimated 800 Million Dollars in revenue on a yearly basis. Business men, office leagues, Internet leagues, friends, even athletes themselves take part in this growing Icon.

Today, more women than ever are even joining the craze. As more and more people are involved the sport continues to become more popular. There are anywhere from 4 Team Leagues to 12 Team leagues. There are some leagues that become keeper teams where a team is drafted and the owner keeps certain players on a yearly basis and drafts to improve. As far as money goes…the average fee for a league today is $150.00 dollars which goes towards league dues, transactions and such and then the pot is divided however the league commissioner sees fit. There is even a group of Wall Street Titans, an exclusive group that competes for a Million Dollar Pot.

So, the past few weekends heading into this weekend kicks off the new year with the all important Draft. Drafts are done numerous ways in different ways and is the way that team owners build their team. It used to be that running backs were always going in rounds 1 and 2. Today you see more leagues going with the philosophy to draft the best player available. Draft orders are determined a number of ways. The most popular draft creation happens by the “old” picking the name out of the hat.

The part of Fantasy Football that makes this phenomenon so fun is the fact that every Sunday and every week it gives people a chance to enjoy the NFL in a different way…even if their favorite team is not competitive. Yes, the money is lusted for and the ultimate goal is to win the championship, but really there is more to this than those two outcomes. It actually gives people the chance to act like general managers and make transactions to better their teams, just like in real life.

I myself had not played fantasy football for five years until last year. I decided to join my old neighborhood league and figured it would be fun to interact with people that I had not saw in years. It turned out…I had the last pick I’m the draft…#8. I still was able to draft a pretty solid team and I was hoping that Peyton Manning, who I got in the fifth round would come back to old form. Well…true story. I started out 0-3 and came back to come one win away from the championship. Not only did I win a nice chunk of change, but I was able to have fun with my friends.

It was week six. I was 2-4 and things seemed bleak. I told my best friend that I was about to quit the league. Just like in real life…it’s not over until the fat lady sings he said. And he was right. I finished the season 7-6 and made the playoffs. I then came three points from winning the Bowl. So that should be incentive for anyone who ever gets down on their team to stick with it. You never know what can happen.

Well, as people spend the next few days having their drafts, keep in mind that although this virtual competition does require some skill and knowledge, a lot of leagues are affected by the injury bug. Who will be this year’s detrimental injury? Who will be the first player taken in most drafts? Who will be the number one quarterback? These questions and more will be answered this weekend in many homes, sports bars and offices this weekend. Most leagues have the annual draft day party where large amounts of food and alcohol are consumed.

As we head into another year of Fantasy…just remember this is a game and it is supposed to be fun. And as I say goodbye today, I wish everyone good luck in their draft and be smart. Don’t cheat. And just have fun and be safe!!

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AVENGED SEVENFOLD COMING OF AGE

Image AVENGED SEVENFOLD JUST RELEASED IT’S FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM ON TUESDAY, “HAIL TO THE KING.”  DURING THE BAND’S EXISTENCE THAT BEGAN IN 1999, IN SUNNY CALIFORNIA, A7X AS THEY ARE ALSO KNOWN BY HAS EVOLVED FROM A PUNK METAL STYLE TO A MODERN HEAVY METAL STYLE THAT THEY PLAY TODAY.  TO DATE, AVENGED SEVENFOLD HAS RELEASED FIVE STUDIO ALBUMS, ONE LIVE ALBUM/DVD, EIGHTEEN SINGLES, ALL THE WHILE SELLING OVER EIGHT MILLION ALBUMS WORLDWIDE.  A7X HAS STOOD THE TEST OF ULTIMATE TRAGEDY AND OVERCOME TREMENDOUS OBSTACLES TO END UP WHERE THEY ARE NOW.

     The band was originally formed by M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, “The REV”, and Matt Wendt.  The band’s name actually came from a reference to the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible, found in Genesis 4:24.  Although there was a lot of speculation they are not a religious band.  All of the band mates names were actually nicknames that each member had in High School.  Matt Wendt was then replaced by Justin Sane the bassist for Suburban Legends, another up and coming band at the time.

     Avenged Sevenfold’s debut album, “Sounding the Trumpet” was released in 2001, while all of the members were still in High School, a pretty amazing achievement.  At this point Guitarist Synester Gates joined the band and was followed by Johnny Christ  in 2001, as the band began to gain popularity playing with such bands as MushroomHead and Shadows Fall.  In 2003, they released their sophomore album, “Waking the Fallen,” which had a more refined sound.  

     After those albums, A7X joined Warner Brothers Records in 2004.  On June 7, 2005 “City of Evil,” the band’s third album was released and debuted at 30 on the Billboard Top 200, selling 30,000 copies the first week.  City of Evil portrayed a more classic metal sound.  M.Shadows also worked with a vocal coach Ron Anderson, who had also worked with Axl Rose and Chris Cornell in the past.  This did away with the “growling/screaming” vocal tone and achieved a more metal tone with grit.  As their album tour raged on, their lead single “Bat Country” reached number 2 on the Billboard 200 and also number 1 on MTV’s Total Request Videos.

      On October 26, 2007, A7X released their fourth studio album as a self titled hit.  The album debuted at Number Four on the Billboard 200.  Another monumental moment was on April 16th, when they joined Slash on stage to perform “It’s So Easy,” a former Guns n Roses Hit.  Then as the band was growing to new heights tragedy struck.  On December 28, 2009 James “The Rev” Sullivan was found dead at his home at the age of 28.  It was later revealed that James had overdosed on Painkillers.  There was such shock and grief, that the band almost quit.  

     They then recruited Dream Theater’s Drummer Mike Portnoy and released “Nightmare,” their fifth studio album.  The album blew away sales projections and debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200.  Nightmare was the band’s best piece in their growing catalog and had a tighter sound and meshed with the more classic sound of the bands metal idols.  Avenged Sevenfold lists Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth as their major influences as a band.  Their career took off even further at this time as they even began to headline tours.

     Ok, so yesterday the Band released it’s much anticipated Sixth Studio Album, “Hail to the King.”  Hail to the King leads off with the song Shepherd of Fire, which is a Metallica-esque Blaster that is a direct metal classic.  The Band has shed its hardcore punk sound for the more traditional metal sound.  And why not, just look at the T-shirts that the band wears, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, MotorHead etc and you can definitely understand why this band is ready to take the torch as the next great Metal Band to carry on the next few decades.  Along with Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold are the new Metallica, the new Megadeth, the new GNR, the new Iron Maiden.

     Zacky Vengeance and Synester Gates are at their best on this album and they establish the dual solo styles of other greats like KK Downing and Glenn Tipton, Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, and other greats who use dual lead and backup guitar to produce a power metal sound.  The new drummer Arin Ilejay does an excellent job at producing the pounding bass drum hits that “The Rev” was so known for.  Shepherd of Fire is a song that portrays a theme of the devil singing as if its in the third person.  Hail to the King is another Slam Dunk.  Doing Time sounds like a true GNR song, M.Shadows even sounds exactly like Axl Rose on a few of the lyrics.  The whole album features Synester Gates and some very impressive solos.

    I have now listened to the album three times straight through and I give it a 9/10.  It is definitely Avenged Sevenfold’s best work of art thus far.  Nightmare put them on the map but Hail to the King puts them on top.  In my opinion, they are one of the best modern day metal bands around.  I enjoy listening to them because they are inspired by all of my favorite bands.  This album has a Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden feel.  Many of the solos also delve closely to Dave Mustaine and Slash.  M.Shadows has become a stellar lead vocalist and provides the band with a talented front man.  If you haven’t done so, purchase the album today at a local store or on ITUNES.  Avenged Sevenfold has graduated to the next level!  Its been real…Be back soon my Friends!  ROCK ON! HAIL THE KING!

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PRESCRIPTION PILL EPEDEMIC

PRESCRIPTION PILLS HAVE BEAT OUT CAR ACCIDENTS AS THE NUMBER ONE KILLER IN AMERICA TODAY. PILLS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A HEAVILY ABUSED DRUG BECAUSE OF THE EASY ACCESS AND THE FACT THAT THEY ARE TECHNICALLY LEGAL. HOWEVER, IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS THE EPIDEMIC HAS TRIPLED IN NUMBERS AND IS SILENTLY KILLING MANY PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY, MAINLY TEENAGERS. AS A RECOVERING ADDICT MYSELF, I FIND IT FASCINATING THAT SO MANY PEOPLE ARE HOOKED ON THESE DRUGS.

It would not surprise me if an undercover investigation was to somehow find the Government behind some of this mess. I remember back in my high school days the drug of choice was marijuana. Marijuana was not only readily available, but it was relatively safe as it has not been found to be a direct cause of death. However, pills are killing thousands! Hundreds of Thousands.

The craziest part of this epidemic is that most of these drugs, when used properly, are totally healing and helpful. However, these pills that decrease pain, help mental status and relieve anxiety and stress are SO HIGHLY addictive. If one finds themselves on the cusp of addiction to pills, they might as well expect a trip to rehab. That’s just how it is. Stay tuned…I will have a follow up post on this phenomenon and will learn more about the subject.

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STONE BABY UNCOVERED: THE OFFICIAL INTERVIEW

Image Hey Folks, It’s been awhile but I am back.  Today I have a special treat for my fans and followers.  As Everyone Knows, music has molded and shaped my life.  Even this blog was inspired by my love for music…most notably “Heavy Metal.”  However, my musical interests run much deeper than just Metal.  I also have a passion for local bands that are trying to carve their way onto the map.  With the growth of Social Media and the Internet…It’s much easier today to promote and network bands.  However, it always remains a fact that many bands never make it past the local scene onto a national or international plateau.  One of my goals as a blogger is to help these bands get noticed.  One local band that has really caught my ear is StoneBaby.  StoneBaby is a band that has it’s roots right in the heart of Southern New Jersey.

     StoneBaby is not considered a Metal Band.  They actually combine a folk Americana Style of song writing with an eighties type of tempo.  If one was to describe StoneBaby, there would not be one category that they fit into, but they are considered a modern day pulp rock band.  Anyways…I was able to sit down recently with the band and find out more about them on a personal level.  The following is a Full Length Interview that I was able to conduct with the band in order to let you get to know them and learn about their foundation and their future plans.  Without further a due…here is my interview with StoneBaby.

Q.  How long has the band been playing and what is the story behind the name?  (Scott Philipp-Vocalist/Guitarist)…Well the current band was formed a little over two years ago.  However, me and Tony Schiavo (Drums) have been band mates for over twenty-five years.  As far as the name goes, there is no real story behind it we just came up with the name and it represents, “Rock with a Little Soul.”

Q.  Who actually formed the band and how did you get to the current lineup as StoneBaby?  (Scott)…Me and Tony Schiavo actually created the band and the original name was Silent Rain.  We formed the band Silent Rain in 1986 during the rise of “Hair Metal.”  We were in the same circles as Britny Fox and Cinderella.  We played many venues of past and present including the old Cell Block in Bensalem, which is now history as it burned down.  I was actually out of music until a few years back when Tony convinced me to get back into the scene.  Bobby Leonhardt (Guitar) actually joined the band two years ago.

Q.  Are you currently in the Studio working on any material as a followup to your recent EP “Illuminated?”  If so, how many tracks do you have complete so far and is there an album name?  (Scott)…We are not currently working on a new album.  However, Bobby and I are working on a side project with my Guitar Teacher, John Lilley (The Hooters).  We have four tracks down so far.  We are also about to enter the studio again to work on a new single which will be the followup to our last hit single, “Understand.”

Q.  What style of music do you emulate and what band(s) do you compare yourself to?  Are there any particular bands that inspired you?  (Scott)-I would say early Hall and Oates, The Hooters, and even Philly’s own Tom Gilliam and Craig Simon.  (Bobby)- As the new member of the band I am not too familiar with these bands, but I would say that Kings of Leon has been one of my greatest influences along with Dear Hunter.

Q.  What has been the band’s highpoint thus far and what are your future goals as a band?  (Scott)- I would definitely have to say that the high point in our career was on this past July 25th, when we opened for Poison’s Brett Michaels in Stanford, Connecticut.  There were well over 15,000 screaming fans, which is by far the largest single crowd that we ever played in front of.  (Bobby)- I agree with Scott, the Stanford show was EPIC and was my most memorable moment in this band.  (Scott/Bobby)- As far as our future goals, we obviously want to keep going with the band and gain more local notoriety.  

Q.  What advice would you give to any up and coming bands?  What is the most important aspect to focus on?  (Scott)- “A wise man once said to me…Don’t fall victim to the marketing giant.”  Bands need to focus on the “music” and actually listen to the music.  You need to find a way to get the music out there to the people…get air play so that people can hear the music that you are playing.

Scott Philipp (Vocalist) Interview

Q.  What inspired you to start singing and what year did you realize you wanted to be in a band?  Well, it’s actually a funny story.  I never knew I was going to sing until Tony asked me to sing in his band.  Tony had already been a long time musician and he had started the hair metal band “Silent Rain.”  At the time the vocalist ( a popular football player also) was dismissed and the rest was history.  That was in 1986 when I began to sing.  After the band had some issues, we split up and I quit music altogether.

Q.  Who is your favorite front man in music and who do you emulate yourself too?  I really do not have one favorite vocalist.  I would say that I have a few that I really like such as Darryl Hall (Hall and Oates), Colin Hay (Men at Work), and Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople).  Mott the Hoople was an English Rock/R&B band in the early seventies.  I have not saw too many singers that are on the same level vocally as Ian Hunter.  I would say that the Front Man that I emulate today is Michael Sweet (Stryper).  I consider myself a power singer and he is one of the best!  I also like Barry Manilow.

Q.  When was the first time that you sang on stage in front of a crowd and what song did you open with?  The first song I sang was in 1986 at the Oaklyn Municipal Building for a school dance.  We opened with “Stone in Love” by Journey.

Q.  Have you had any vocal training of any kind and how do you keep your voice fresh?  No, I have not had any type of vocal training and I would say that I keep my voice consistent by smoking plenty of cigarettes and drinking Scotch Whiskey….Haahaaa.

Q.  What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?  Well, I have had many embarrassing moments both on and off the stage, but I would have to say that it was during one show, while playing in Silent Rain.  I was drunk and I actually fell backwards knocking out the drums and taking Tony out as well as we both fell to the back of the stage.

Q.  What is your Favorite Band?  Well…that’s a really tough question.  I really don’t have ONE favorite band because I enjoy many types of music.  I like so many bands so I really cannot answer that question.  Do you have a favorite band? LoL.

Bobby Leonhardt (Guitarist) Interview

Q.  At what age did you begin playing guitar and what inspired you to continue?  I actually began playing guitar in 2005 at the age of sixteen.  My sister was actually started playing before me.  I am very competitive by nature so I wanted to be better than my sister…that’s why I continued to play.

Q.  What was your very first guitar?  My first guitar was a Squire Bullet.

Q.  Who is your favorite guitarist of the past and who do you compare yourself to now?  My favorite Guitarist of all time is Thomas Erak from Fall of Troy.  Matthew Followill of “Kings of Leon” is the best guitarist I can compare myself too.

Q.  What was the first song that you learned to play on guitar?  Welcome Home by “Coheed and Cambria.”

Q.  Is StoneBaby the first band that you played in?  If not who was your first band?  No, I actually played in another band first.  It was a cover band and we did not really have a name.

Q.  What is the highlight of your career so far and what are your goals as a guitar player in the future?  I would have to say that my greatest moment so far was the show in Stanford, Connecticut opening for Brett Michaels.  It was a surreal moment that I will never forget.  As far as my goals, I want to continue with a music career in whatever capacity I can achieve.

Tony Schiavo (Drums) Interview

Q.  What inspired you to play the drums and what age were you?  At the age of six I strummed my first guitar strings.  When I realized that the guitar was not for me I began playing drums.

Q.  Do you remember what your very first drum set was?  Thats easy…It was a Ludwig Set.

Q.  Who is your favorite Drummer?  Dave Wekel…he is actually a jazz musician.

Q.  Do you remember your first time on stage and were you nervous?  My first time on stage was with a band called “Opposition.”  Gary Burns was on Guitar and Chris Aberle was the singer.  And yes…I was nervous as hell!

Q.  What was the very first song that you played on the drums?  Good Times/Bad Times by Led Zeppelin.

Q.  What advice would you give to any up and coming drummers that are trying to play in a band?  The Three T’s….Timing, Tempo, and Tuning.  It is also very important to get some roadies as Drum sets tend to be extremely heavy.  I also want the young drummers out there to know that I give exclusive lessons for $300.00 an hour…haha.  Just Kidding.  But seriously drummers, its the same as any other instrument…PRACTICE.  I would tell them not to look too far ahead and set short term goals.  To be successful one must build stepping stones.

    So that was my official interview with StoneBaby.  Scott, Tony, and Bobby are all great guys and very personable.  They all love the music they play and strive for excellence.  For anyone looking to expand their music catalog, I would strongly suggest purchasing their first EP Illuminated.  It can be purchased on ITUNES.  For those of you that have not heard the band…they came up in the same scene as Hall and Oates, Bon Jovi, and The Hooters.  As mentioned earlier, Scott has a good relationship with The Hooters John Lilley.  Illuminated is a very dynamic album and Scott really showcases his vocals.  He mentions Michael Sweet as one of his inspirations.  Michael Sweet, the lead singer for Stryper is widely known for his power vocals.  The band also covers Journey’s “Send Her My Love” which blends their own style of the song.  They even use a saxophone…Jay Davidson, who also played for Cinderella, Whitney Houston, and Billy Preston jams out with the band.  As far as reviews go…I give the album a solid 8/10.

     The Band has a boatload of future events coming up in the near future.  On September 13th and 14th, they will be playing at a Festival in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The night before the festival, they will be doing a radio interview and playing a local club.  Then on Saturday, September 28th, StoneBaby will be playing at the Fall Arts Festival.  This Festival plans on bringing over 31,000 Fans to the area of all music styles.  The Festival will also feature one National Act still to be announced.  

     October 5th, they will be playing the Red Dwarf Studio in Sewell, New Jersey.  This will be followed by an appearance as the main act at Shady Katies in Somerdale, New Jersey.  In November, the band is planning on opening for “Like a Stone,” a Christian Rock Band that tours with bands like Creed, Skillet, and Switchfoot.  Finally, there is a huge contest that is sponsored by Rausch Racing called the “Distractor Face Contest.”  This contest pits local band against national bands for the right to get their picture on the race car.

     In conclusion, I must admit I did not know what to expect when I set up this interview.  I really had not heard much of the band’s catalog and I only knew Bobby on a personal level.  However, this was an awesome opportunity and I found another diamond in the rough.  I have spent the entire evening sampling Illuminated, their single “Understand” and Scott’s solo album “Just Another Day.”  StoneBaby is an awesome Rock Band that should be playing major venues every night.  Hopefully, this blog will help promote their band and bring more notoriety.  In the meantime, do yourself a favor and go check out one of their live events…I know that I will!!!!  Also, don’t forget to purchase their material from ITUNES.  I can tell you personally, the single,”Understand” could easily be a number one hit on the TOP 200.  On that note…I leave you.  Stay tuned , next week I will have a review of the new Avenged Sevenfold album which is due out Tuesday………..ImageImageImage

PHILLIES BETRAY MANUEL

On Friday the Phillies organization once again showed why they used to be the laughingstock of the National League for all of those seasons. In a low class move, even lower than a New York Yankee minute, the Phillies cut ties with Charlie Manuel. They just tossed the winningest coach in Team history, only the second manager to bring this city a World Series Title, and a loyal ambassador for this team to the curb.
Charlie Manuel’s contract was up at the end of the season anyway and it was assumed that the team would be parting ways with “Uncle Charlie.” So instead of loyalty, the team chose to belittle this good man. What a slap in the face to get rid of a coach that tried his heart out to get these players to perform on the field. They couldn’t even let him finish out this season. That would have been the right thing to do…but since when has this team ever done anything the right way.
Although the team thinks that they are making Charlie a scapegoat for this team…the fans know better. These fans are not dumb. Yes we have been spoiled by winning over these past seven years. Yes this team has clearly underachieved. However, I put very little of this on Manuel. In fact, if they has another manager this team may have packed it in even earlier.
Injuries have cost this team dearly the past few years. But the ultimate truth is that it’s Star Players have not performed. Do not forget, that 2008 team that won the World Series was actually Pat Gillick’s team. Gillick virtually built that team by scratch…so Amaro inherited a playoff team with a chance to become a dynasty. Instead, the Phillies have become everything but a dynasty and have slowly deteriorated. This is not Manuel. Amaro has ruined this team.
Amaro has basically ripped apart the teams farm system by trading away most of their top prospects. Another Phillies prospect Travis D’arnaurd just made his Major League debut for the New York Mets today. Amaro has made a few bold moves bringing in Roy Halladay, trading for Cliff Lee twice as well as Roy Oswalt at the trade deadlines. However, he has completely wiped out their youth and all of their veterans have gotten old quick.
Ryan Howard is a shell of what he used to be. Chase Utley still has something left but he is definitely not close to the leader that he used to be. He is not the same caliber player as he has aged and suffered numerous injuries. Jimmy Rollins has also aged and is doing more harm than help to this lineup.
In Conclusion, the Phillies made a very class move by firing Charlie instead of letting him finish out the season. The wrong guy was fired! Ruben Amaro deserves to be fired tomorrow. He has ruined this team and there is no quick fix in sight. This team has just got old. Their window of success has vanished. Sorry Charlie. The move that the Phillies made does not represent what the majority of fans in this city have as an opinion. If a poll was taken, it’s almost a given that the number one enemy on the list is Amaro.
The Phillies have betrayed the one man that made this team a winner. The one man that always had his players backs. It’s sickening to see it go down like this. And all of this talk of Ryne Sandberg becoming the next manager…that is a joke in my mind. This team needs a fresh new leader, a new set of eyes, and a new General Manager. Look out Ruben…KARMA is a bitch and KARMA is coming for you.
You can run but you cannot hide Ruben. You have singlehandedly ruined this team. You have destroyed the good feeling that the fans bring to the ballpark everyday. It’s totally unfair to let Manuel go now. This was an absolute joke and I’m sure their are many angry fans! Like if you feel that the Phillies were scumbags for this move and others to come!

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PHILLIES NEED OVERHAUL: LOOK TO THE FUTURE

    Well here we are.  The dog days of another MLB August run for the Phillies and for the first time since 2006, they are not in contention for a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, as fans of this team we have become spoiled during the past eight years.  However, all good things must come to an end.  In the beginning of this season, I picked the Phillies to make one last run in the playoffs.  They have proved me wrong once again.  This season has been no different from the past few years, as the team has been riddled with injuries.  Unfortunately, this year their talent alone could not push them forward for one last playoff run.

     Last night was a milestone win for Charlie Manuel as he won his 1,000th game as a manager.  This is tremendous for a coach that many Phillies fans used to make fun of and humiliate.  Sorry Charlie…You have been awesome for this city and we will never forget you…just as we never forgot Jim Fregosi, Dallas Green, and Paul Owens.  Cole Hamels picked up only his fifth win with a masterful complete game showing.  Hamels is a disappointing 5-13 after a huge contract extension.  No one can totally fault Cole as his ERA has dropped to a more than respectable 3.65 and he is once again on pace for 200 Innings and 200 Strikeouts.  Hamels, like most of the Phillies has not received much offensive support from an inconsistent bunch of underachievers.

    Nonetheless, it is time to blow this regime up.  This team is way past its peak and there is no re tooling or replacing that can fix this team now.  Phillies ownership must realize that this team as we know it is done.  Believe me, as sad as it is to admit this as a fan, this team really has lost it.  It always starts at the top.  Ruben Amaro has been tremendous for the most part with an aggressive approach that has saw this team spend tons of money and make many trades year after year in order to compete for a Championship.  However, the past few years Amaro has not been able to make the moves that could retool this team and once again put them at the top.  Ruben, you are the first one that must go.

     Uncle Charlie, as much as the fans love you, the reign has come to an end.  The Phillies need a leader that is not afraid to discipline his players.  Yes, your management style did bring the team a World Series ring,; however, that team was much different than this one.  You had a younger core that was hungry…all homegrown talent…Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, and Kyle Kendrick.  Burrell is gone, Howard has been injury riddled and is a shadow of what he once was, Utley and Rollins are on the downward curve of their careers, Werth and Victorino (Both who were Rule 5 Free Agents) have moved onto other teams as have Brett Myers and Ryan Madson.  Carlos Ruiz is now a player that must go in my mind after a controversial involvement with PED’s and a 50 Game Suspension.  This leaves only two players: Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick who make up 2/5 of the Phillies starting rotation.

     The 2008 Team also had some extremely important key veterans like Jaime Moyer, Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, and Matt Stairs.  Face it tho, it was the home grown talent that brought this Phillies era to GREATNESS.  So yes, Charlie it is time to move on.  The Phillies need to rebuild.  So far…thats a new General Manager and a new coach.  Ok, now the current roster.  Contrary to what many fans have complained about, I was all for the Utley and Rollins extensions.  I believe in loyalty and these two players deserve to end their career with the team they started with.  They both still have a few years left in the tank, even if they are just here to mentor the next wave of youngsters.  

     Domonic Brown has solidified his spot as the Teams Starting Left Fielder for years to come.  Ben Revere, even after an injury is still very young and brings a lot to the table at Center Field.  Ok, so that means we need a new Right Fielder, possibly a younger free agent with some pop.  Now lets move to the infield.  Cody Ashe is your Third Baseman of the future so I would ride him the rest of this season to see what he’s got.  Freddy Galvis can be your starting Shortstop until Utley retires.  This leaves First Base with Ryan Howard.  The Phillies need to take a long hard look at this position because if I am making the decisions, I go with Darin Ruf and somehow eat the rest of Howard’s Contract.  I am sure that some American League team would be interested in his services…if only as a DH.  Carlos Ruiz needs to go and either bring up one of the young guys or sign a steady free agent.  

     Now we head to the Pitching arena, which on paper has been the Phillies strong suit the past four years.  Obviously, Cole Hamels is your ace and I firmly believe that this season is an aberration and that he will bounce back.  I think the Phillies definitely need to trade Cliff Lee in the offseason and get some young talent back to rebuild the farm.  Kyle Kendrick has been consistent enough to solidify a spot in the rotation.  The wild card is Roy Halladay.  If he comes back healthy here and is willing to sign a smaller contract to stay with the team, I am all for it.  I can see Roy Halladay ending his career here and then becoming an awesome pitching coach.  Then we have the two young prospects Johnathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd.  They should both be in line for a spot.  And finally, I am not a John Lannan fan so I either trade him or move him to the bullpen.  Relief Pitching is another area that must be upgraded.  I would scrap the entire roster, trade Paplebon and start over.

     Once again, I have never proclaimed to be an expert.  This is just an honest opinion from an honest fan.  I just believe that the time has come to rebuild.  No fan base ever wants to hear that word; however, this team as we know it is gone.  So in conclusion:  The Phillies need to cut their ties with Amaro and bring in a more intelligent general manager that thinks young, they should go with a manager that is tough and hard nose that knows how to get the most out of his players, one that will not be afraid to discipline and make changes.  I am not so sure that Ryne Sandberg is the answer…just a thought.  And then finally, the team must part ways with Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, and Johnathan Papelbon all of who which can bring back some nice young prospects.  And then see how Halladay does and maybe bring him back on a smaller contract that is low risk/high reward.  This is my plan if I am Phillies ownership.  It should be interesting to see what happens in the next five months.ImageImageImage

BLACK SATURDAY A HIT

     Black Sabbath visited Philadelphia last night at the Wells Fargo Center.  Not only was this a big deal…as the last time they played together as the original unit…Ozzy had to sit out sick while Judas Priest “Rock God” Rob Halford killed every song without missing a beat.  There will never be a doubt or an argument that Rob Halford is a way better vocalist than Ozzy, even in Ozzy’s hey day.  However, this was my first Sabbath show EVER including the DIO era.  I have also never saw Ozzy Osbourne live.  

     Anyways, considering the year is 2013 and the band is over 45 years into existence…it was an AMAZING experience to see the Forefathers of Heavy Metal Music in action.  Their set list included 17 songs, even four from the new studio album 13.  I don’t care how horrible Ozzy’s voice may be (Years and Years of Drugs, Alcohol, and vocal abuse)…the experience was once in a lifetime for me and I am glad that I was able to see them, as it may be their very last tour.  Of course, never say never to a band that I never thought could take the stage let alone put out a brand new full length studio album.  13 may be one of this band’s best all around albums due to the technology of today.  

     Nonetheless, the band began with the EPIC “WAR PIGS”…as the sirens were blaring and the strobe lights were flaring!  Ozzy welcomed Philly with his calling card HAHAHA evil sounding laugh that only Ozzy can pull off.  Yes, the band did drop down on many of the songs  as far as tuning goes, but it still sounded masterful.  I was extremely curious how the band would sound without one of its core members, drummer Bill Ward.  However, Tommy Clufetos from Rob Zombie and Ted Nugent was absolutely STELLAR!!! He actually did an over eight minute drum solo that rocked the crowd.  

     Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were both at their absolute BEST.  The setlist was as follows: War Pigs, Into the Void, Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes, Snowblind, Age of Reason, Black Sabbath, Behind the Wall of Sleep, N.I.B., End of the Beginning, Fairies Wear Boots, Rat Salad, “Drum Solo”, Iron Man, God is Dead, Dirty Women, Children of the Grave, and an encore with the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Intro into Paranoid!  Not bad, seventeen songs for just over a two hour show for one of Metal’s epic bands ever.  The show opened with Andrew WK who mostly whooed the crowd with many Metal Classics.  I am not just saying this, but I thought Ozzy sounded better than I have heard him in years, although he was off tune quite a bit.  

     I will say this, I was shocked that the band did not play “Sweet Leaf”, as I must admit I never smelled the aroma of green as much at a single concert as I did last night.  The entire show was a blast and I will never forget seeing the band that started it all for me and everything music that I enjoy.  At least now I can say, I SAW BLACK SABBATH…well at least 3/4.  It would have been nice to see Bill Ward but unfortunately even the best fight in time.  Greed does not discriminate.  Oh well, Tommy was AWESOME!  Any of my fans that are reading this, I strongly suggest that you attend an upcoming SABBATH show as they ROCKED the HOUSE.  Also, I have put four of their videos on YOU TUBE for your viewing pleasure.  In conclusion, BLACK SABBATH was way better than I expected and I feel like I have visited the Holy Grail of Heavy Metal.  Until next time….Children…Children…children…children of the Grave.ImageImage

SABBATH BLOODY SATURDAY

Well it’s Saturday, August 11th! Tonight, Black Sabbath comes to Philly and the Wells Fargo Center to continue their Summer Sabbath Tour. I must say, when I found out that I had an opportunity to attend this show I was ecstatic. For me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that probably will never come again.

First of all, I have never saw Black Sabbath live. Secondly, I have never saw Ozzy live so this will be a first on both ends! Wow!!! I am so stoked about this show! As a true Metal Head…I consider Black Sabbath as the forefathers of Heavy Metal. Basically all of the music I listen to now has some type of link to Sabbath. To have the chance of a lifetime to see this band is an honor for me.

I am not sure what to expect as far as a set list, but I am sure they will do a variety of their hits, music from their latest studio album, and maybe some Ozzy classics! I must say, when I first purchased 13…I was not sure what to expect as far as the sound and the skill of the album. Well, anyone that has heard this album has to admit that this is “CLASSIC” Sabbath at its best with the heavy power chords, dark sound, and Iommi’s signature solos!

The only white elephant of this opportunity is the absence of former drummer Bill Ward. It really is ashamed. When you have a band of this Caliber and legend, you really would hope to see the entire original group. However, I will take what I can get. I hope to hear some songs from the DIO era…not sure what the chances of that are. However, this is going to be a Great Day in my life and I will be able to say that I saw the Fathers of Metal live!

I can’t wait to hear the classics…”War Pigs, Paranoid, Black Sabbath, Sweet Leaf, NIB, Lord of this World, Iron Man, Solitude, Children of the Grave…the list goes on and on. Well, the show starts at 7 so we are t minus 10 Hours and counting! I am sure the place will be rocking and there is going to be a certain aura in the air! Anyways, I will provide a review of the show tomorrow. I hope to see Eddie Trunk and the rest of That Metal Show cast. Till next time…”Rock on Droogies”. I AM IROoOOON MaaaN!

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BOOK REVIEW: Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

I am passing this along because I am such a fan of Eddie Trunk and he may be one of the most knowledgeable Metal Analysts of all time!

mikeladano.com

EDDIE 1

Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

by Eddie Trunk, 2011, Harry N. Abrams publisher

Here is a book that I heartily endorse — for beginners.  I bought my best bud Peter a copy of this for his birthday a couple years ago.  For a guy like Peter, a general survey book like this is perfect.  It’s boiled down to the essentials, by a guy that many trust:  Eddie Trunk.

I normally don’t go for this kind of book, because what can Eddie Trunk tell me about Judas Priest in three pages that Martin Popoff didn’t in his excellent book, Heavy Metal Painkillers?  So this book is for the people that just want the facts, ma’am.  Anybody who’s listened to Eddie Trunk’s show on Sirius XM knows that this guy is the real deal — he knows his stuff, he knows the bands personally, and he doesn’t pander. He…

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AROD’s LEGACY DESTROID

In light of the recent Major League Baseball scandal, there are a few things that should be reflected upon. First of all, the Biogenesis Clinic that was busted is the largest of its kind in the Professional Sports Arena. According to several sources, Bud Selig is prepared to impose a lifetime ban on Alex Rodriguez “AROD” for his participation in the drug ring and his use of various performance enhancing drugs during a two year period beginning in late 2009.

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers has already been suspended for 50 games and after further investigation, Major League Baseball is on the verge of suspending approximately 20 more players for 50 or more games including the lifetime ban of AROD. To me…the suspensions are the best punishment I have saw in any sports as far as the punishment fitting the “crime.” It is very likely that Alex and his agents will appeal the suspension but we will deal with that another time.

What we will focus on is the fact that one of the most dominant players, both offensively and defensively at his position will likely see his Hall of Fame career demolished all in the name of cheating!!! During AROD’s 19 year career…he has put up mind boggling numbers…In 2,524 games he has a .300 Average, 647 Home Runs (Good Enough for Fifth in the All-Time list), 2901 Hits, 1898 Runs Scored, 1950 RBI’s, and 1217 walks…while posting a .560 Slugging Percentage. These numbers are SICK if you look at the other all-time greats that have played the game.

As a 37 Year Old Sports Die Hard, AROD has played in as many seasons as half of my life. During my era, he is probably one of the most prolific hitters that I have ever saw. He received the largest contract in Sports History at 10 Years and $275 Million Dollars by the cash cow Skankees…I mean Yankees. Now this 38 Year old role model is watching his career deteriorate right before his eyes. His legacy has now been destroyed.

This is embarrassing for Major League Baseball to have one of its Markee Faces go down in a bunch of flames. However, it is also great to see that the League is taking the utmost drastic measures to punish these CHEATERS! I cannot say that I am shocked. Most people have suspected Alex of using drugs for a long time now and this just confirms all of our suspicions. I must say…I don’t care if the New York Yankees have to still pay this guy the rest of his contract…that’s what they get for signing controversial players! I’m just glad that this time around, the league has policies and that these players cannot escape like the Barry Bond’s, Roger Clemmens, Mark McGwires of the league! This is a blemish on the league but its also a positive step to setting an example. Good Job MLB!

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