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Game 7 (NLCS 2): Mets 4 – Cubs 1

Oct
20

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thoughts I had as this game was going on

1: the carriage is turning back to a pumpkin awful quickly

2: I wonder if tickets for Game 5 have dropped in price? (A bit! Hmmm.)

3: the great Tommy La Stella is 0 for 7 with 3Ks in the playoffs.

4: Starlin Castro went from never playing SS even as a backup to being the guy finishing out every game at SS. I’m going to miss him next season.

5: Everyone’s talking about the pitchers giving up 4 runs. They’ve given up 4 runs before. It’s more you’re not going to win games scoring 2 and 1 runs.

6: Really, the power covered up the problems with not getting enough base runners; six home runs in one game only producing eight runs is kind of not good in a way.

7: The silver lining to going down 3-0 in a series is seeing the Kitchen Sink game, with the Cubs trying crazily to win game 4 at any cost. Lester coming back on short rest is in play. Three inning starter is in play. Fernando Rodney starting and batting fifth is in play. Just having Jason Hammel pitch six innings probably not  in play.

8: That might also happen in this game. The Cubs dipped into the bullpen in Game 2, but everyone’s probably as rested and ready to go as they can be. Hendricks will be pulled at the first sign of trouble. Rondon hasn’t pitched in a week, so he’s going to be in at some point tonight. This’ll probably look a lot like Game 4 of NLDS; it’s all about the offense scratching something out.

9: if the Cubs can find a way to win one of the next two games, then Lester and Arrieta come up again and maybe they’ll find a way to be better, and anything is possible in a game 7. I don’t feel like it’s over even with a loss tonight.

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Joe vs. the World #81: WWF 1996, Part 4 (09/23/2015)

Sep
23
Play

Joe Vs. The World returns! Joe (Gagne) and Justin (Shapiro) reunite to power through the final quarter of WWF 1996. They cover it all: guns, driveway brawls, a poetry reading (yes), struggling to think up some Survivor Series team names, John Stewart can book the Royal Rumble, SID stabs Bret Hart, Jake Roberts real revenge on Jerry Lawler, seeding the Karate Fighters tournament, and so much more. Plus the beginning rumbling of the JVSTW 10th anniversary! Nearly two hours of power just for you!

To listen to this show, right click to download the mp3 file here, subscribe to the RSS feed @ http://www.thecubsfan.com/joe.xml, or add it to your iTunes Podcasts by clicking here.

Previous editions:
81: WWF 1996, Part 4 (09/23/2015)
80: Eddie Gilbert & USWA 1980 (07/03/2015)
79: WWF 1996, Part 3 (04/15/2015)
78: WWF 1996, Part 2 (12/04/2014)
77: thecubsfan [Mexico 2014] (09/30/2014)
76: WON HOF (09/10/2014)
75: NXT Roster (07/31/2014)
74: WWF 1996, January to March (05/08/2014)
73: WWF 1995, Part 2 (11/22/2013)
72: WWF 1995, Part 1 (10/11/2013)
71: thecubsfan [Mexico] (10/03/2013)
70: WWF 1994 (11/19/2012)
69: No Holds Barred: The Movie (08/09/2012)
68: WrestleManias XXII to XXVIII (04/07/2012)
67: WWF 1993 (12/21/2011)
66: WWF 1992 (06/29/2011)
65: WWF 1991 (03/05/2011)
64: WWF 1990 (11/25/2010)

63B: THE END [Part 2] (09/07)
63A: THE END [Part 1] (09/07)
62: Justin Shapiro [SummerSlam, Part 2] (08/21)
61: Justin Shapiro [SummerSlam, Part 1] (08/15)
60: Naylor and Bix [ICW/IWCCW] (07/27)
59: Mike Quackenbush [CHIKARA] (07/17)
58: Bryan Alvarez [f4w] (07/14)
57: Tanvir Raquib [Rap & Wrestling] (06/21)
56: Rob Naylor [everything] (06/14)
55: Mike Sempervive [japan] (05/30)
54: Matt Foy [ROH] (05/16)
53: Alex Koslov & thecubsfan [lucha] (05/13)
52: Justin Shapiro [the condemned] (05/06)
51: Dr. Keith Lipinski [everything] (05/02)
50: party time (04/22)
49: Rob Naylor & Bix [GWF] (04/11)
48: Dean Rasmussen [everything] (03/31)
47: Phil Schneider [Best of Japan Indies Results and more] (03/26)
46: Justin Shapiro & Matt Foy [WrestleMania, XI-XXIII] (03/22)
45: Justin Shapiro & Matt Foy [WrestleMania, I-X] (03/17)
44: Chris McLeod, Chris Dempsey, Alan Counihan, Kelvin Cabrerra, Llakor, Kid Zombie and Hobbes [potpourri!] (03/14)
43: Rob Naylor [everything] (03/07)
42: Mike Coughlin [MMA] (02/27)
41: Matt Foy [ROH] (02/21)
40: Mike Quackenbush [CHIKARA] (02/14)
39: Tanvir Raquib [WSX] (01/31)
38: Mark Coale [DVDs] (01/24)
37: Christopher Robin Zimmerman [a little bit of everything] (01/17)
36: Dr. Keith [a little bit of everything] (01/06)
35: Matt Foy & Rob Naylor [year in review, ROH] (12/27)
34: Justin Shapiro [year in review, WWE] (12/23)
33: Adam & Mike [year in review, Japan] (12/14)
32: thecubsfan [year in review, lucha] (12/07)
31: Sven Mascarenhas [wrestling video games] (11/27)
30: American Balloon (2) [wrestling in Japan] (11/23)
29: Scott Christ [TNA] (11/21)
28: Tom Feely [survivor series] (11/19)
27: Rob Naylor (2) [indy] (11/12)
26: Matt Foy (4) [ROH] (11/07)
25: Vince Verhei (2) [comebacks] (10/27)
24: Justin Shapiro (4) [the Marine] (10/21)
23: Bryan Alvarez (2) [everything] (10/10)
22: Ken Dreiling and Jesse “J-tron” Irwin [IWA-MS TPI] (10/05)
21: Matt Foy [ROH] (09/20)
20: Tanvir Raquib [09/11 RAW] (09/16)
19: Rob Naylor [News and tangents] (09/09)
18: Dean Rasmussen [DVDVR, life] (08/31)
17: Phil Schneider [Best of the 80’s Japan Indies DVD] (08/26)
16: CRZ [being CRZ] (08/17)
15: Justin Shapiro and thecubsfan [WON HOF, US, Mexico] (08/10)
14: Dr. Keith Lipinski and Mike Sempervive [WON HOF, Japan] (08/04)
13: thecubsfan [lucha] (07/24)
12: Matt Foy [ROH] (07/17)
11: Bryan Alvarez [being Bryan Alvarez] (07/12)
10: Mike Coughlin [MMA] (07/01)
9: Dr. Keith Lipinski [Japan, general wackiness] (06/27)
8: Tanvir Raquib [ECW, parallel dimensions] (06/17)
7: American Balloon [his career] (06/10)
6: Justin Shapiro [RAW, ROH] (06/03)
5: Albert Ching [Judgement Day, ECW] (05/28)
4: Vince Verhei [everything] (05/21)
3: Matt Foy [ROH] (05/14)
Bonus: Hogan Knows Best recap (05/08)
2: Justin Shapiro [WWE] (04/29)
1: thecubsfan [lucha] (04/22)

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Cake With Make-Up

Jun
02

Cake With Make-Up
by Justin Shapiro

In bygone, yore-based, Middle Englishabethan Times, baking was such an intrinsic foundational act of life that the word “baker” became an occupational surname that went on to define generations of families. My family took its name from what was once believed to be a Hebrew word for heroic sailors, or “ship heroes,” but actually translates from anti-semitic Enlightenment-era texts as “vagrant rapists.”

Nevertheless, I believe I imbue this baking spirit even beyond a patronymic naming system. In April of 2015 in a brazen act I entered an annual cake-decorating contest held by the Pittsburgh Midwife Center as a fundraiser for its ongoing midwife crisis. Please hold your applause.

The contest’s prompt was as follows: “We’re asking bakers to bring the big screen to the cake stand for the theme: Lights, Camera, CAKE! For both the Decorated and Taste categories, this could include cakes inspired by a movie, film genres, an actor/actress, going to the theater, or film production.”

OK.

My goal, in so much as we can pinpoint and verbalize our unconscious dreams, was to have my own stupid cake displaying at this fancy event next to all the real cakes everyone worked on. My corresponding goal in lockstep was to strike the harmonious balance of the optimum idea with the minimum amount of effort.

I also resented the idea that the decorated cakes did not have to be made of edible ingredients, essentially making them arts & crafts projects made out of garbage and not, by most biological classifications, cake. Fondant? More like fondon’t. Wait, actually that zing belongs exclusively to the word “fondu.” Alright, fondant, more like fraud-dant. Thus I made a promise to myself to only utilize natural-occurring food-based ingredients, ultimately electing to work with the Pillsbury company’s “Funfetti” mix.

After consulting with a leading team of scientists in the field of oven entropy, these were the results.

Note: The raisins pictured were not used in the cake; they originate from my personal collection.

photo01

When push-time came to shove-time and the public revelation of this concept was imminent, I started to feel highly self-conscious about showing up in front of Iron City aristocracy at this high society gala with this, let’s face it, blatant undermining of everyone else’s hard and, above all else, earnest work.

Still, clad warmly in a protective mystical cloak of ironic invulnerability, I marched quasi-proudly into an honest to goodness opera house carrying my Bad News Bearclaw of a confection. I literally faced a tall order ahead of me.

photo02

If you’ve read Gamechange, the story of the 2008 Obama/Hillary/McCain presidential campaigns, and I have not, you’ll understand how political campaigns are precariously contested, won and lost on the slimmest, most arbitrary of margins. I believe Julianne Moore played Sarah Palin in the book according to one Daily Show interview. Allegedly, my electoral base was the dispassionate husbands who’d been dragged along to the event, assorted men and dudes acceding bemused nods of recognition as they perused the gallery of confection creation. A “Jason Bateman in Juno” type cool husband told me it was his favorite cake in all 10 years and it “had to win.” Not bragging, not mythopoeticizing myself in hyperbolic first-person narration. Just journalism. This is what occurred.

I’d braced myself all evening, but there were never any scandalized gasps. People were generally … nice. By the end of it, the professional photographer for the event had frightened me into thinking I was going to win the People’s Choice Award, a rarefied air heretofore only attainable by the television programs and films of Melissa McCarthy.

For a fleeting, pipe-dreamt moment, unlike the cakes themselves, I could taste it. But I did not win. That was a disappointing relief. On the one hand, like … obviously. But, still. So tantalizing.

And in the back of my mind, I’m left to wonder — did the inner circle of central midwives put their finger on the scale for the people, fabricating the whole ordeal as if it were some sort of the United States’ discovery and assassination of Osama bin Laden? Did they stuff the ballot box (cake box!) against me to crown a more traditional champion, one that would look better and proper when they put the event photos up on socialized media? More photogenic, more enticing for the? Where better to orchestrate something, after all, than the Pittsburgh Opera House?

Presumably not. At all. Like, even a little bit. But even accepting a second-place at second-face value, I choose to consider myself a champion. Correction: not me. The cake. The synthesis of a vision, catalyzed by science and magic — that magic known as imagination.

A $2 eBay investment and $3 cake mix.

A glowing tribute to Tinseltown and its stars of stage and screen.

A cumulative 35 minutes of work.

A night among Pittsburgh’s most fertile and elite.

A cake.

Of the people, by the people, and for the people. A champion.

photo03

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List Em and Learn Episode 8 – Top 10 WWE Angles 2000-2015

Apr
26

List ‘Em and Learn is back! This time, Matt, Justin and the whole gang (Matt and Justin’s boogers) run down the top 10 WWE storylines from 2000-2015. This episode is a whopper of a doozy, as we discuss all of the great stories told by Stephanie, Michael Hayes and the whole gang (Stephanie and Michael Hayes’s boogers). From the whoppers to the doozies, we talk about the twists and the turns, the great starts, the terrible endings, and all kinds of fun along the way. Listen to it while eating peanut butter for extra BONUS list items. It’s a show where eating peanut butter will get you extra content, so CHECK IT OUT!”

To listen to this show, right click to download. You can add the show to your music player of choice via it’s RSS feed: http://www.thecubsfan.com/cat/list-em-and-learn-2/feed/ You can also find the show on iTunes.

You can find Matt & Justin on Twitter.

8: Top 10 WWE Angles 2000-2015
7: These Ain’t No Holograms (top 10 greatest ECW matches)
6: Life-Affirming Life (top 10 WCW matches of the 1990s)
5: Looking Up (at) the Star(s) (ratings) (top 10 WWE PPVs since 2000)
4: Ladders and Laundry (top 10 WWF matches of the 1990s)
3: Microchips and Mood Music (Top 10 NES Games)
2: A LOT OF SAND (The Top 10 TV Dramas from 2000-2014)
1: Episode 1 (Part 1 & Part 2)

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Joe Gagne’s Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade #57: WWE Legends of Wrestlemania

Mar
24

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Joe Gagne’s Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade #56: AAA Heroes Del Ring

Feb
02

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List ‘Em and Learn: Episode 6: Life-Affirming Life

Dec
15

List ‘Em and Learn is back, this time covering everyone’s favorite topic: WCW. Alan4L joins Matt to determine why WCW managed to stay in business until 2001: sometimes it had good matches. Also lots of other reasons but on this show we just talk about the matches. To be more specific, Alan and Matt list their top 10 WCW matches of the 1990s. Mystery partners, shovels to the head, double cages, and a whole bunch of Dustin Rhodes populate the lists. Sit back and enjoy a trip back to a time when many people didn’t have on-screen interactive channel guides

To listen to this show, right click to download. You can add the show to your music player of choice via it’s RSS feed: http://www.thecubsfan.com/cat/list-em-and-learn-2/feed/ You can also find the show on iTunes (soon.)

You can find Matt & Alan4L on Twitter.

6: Life-Affirming Life (top 10 WCW matches of the 1990s)
5: Looking Up (at) the Star(s) (ratings) (top 10 WWE PPVs since 2000)
4: Ladders and Laundry (top 10 WWF matches of the 1990s)
3: Microchips and Mood Music (Top 10 NES Games)
2: A LOT OF SAND (The Top 10 TV Dramas from 2000-2014)
1: Episode 1 (Part 1 & Part 2)

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Joe Gagne’s Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade #55: TNA Impact

Oct
20

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Joe Gagne’s Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade #54: WWF Royal Rumble (ARCADE/DREAMCAST)

Aug
06

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The Gagne 500!

Jun
26

By Joe Gagne

I remember buying the very first PWI 500 back in 1991 (when Hulk Hogan was #1 and they comically left the Undertaker off the list completely). Basically, they took 500 wrestlers (the vast majority of whom were from the U.S. – David Sammartino finished 1 slot ahead of Mitsuharu Misawa, and Jumbo Tsuruta was 1 spot behind the Yellow Dog, but he did just beat Tim Horner), and ranked them in a kayfabe manner over who was the best. I think I appreciated the scope of it more than anything – I knew all the WWF and WCW wrestlers, and some indy wrestlers I knew of mostly from reading PWI, but the fact 500 wrestlers existed, and someone took the time to rank them and write bios fascinated me. Even when I stopped reading the Apter mags not long after I always tried to track down the PWI 500. It still gets published to this day, and costs about $86 dollars on the newsstands.

There have been fan attempts, most notably the Death Valley Driver 500. I had always thought about doing a list like that, but didn’t think I watched enough wrestling to make a comprehensive list. Remember, back in the day, to see a show from Japan you had to trade tapes or pay $10, if not more. Now, with the likes of Youtube, Daily Motion, Sendspace, MP4’s, and other means, almost any show that happens anywhere can be viewed in about a week, if not live. So given all that…I still don’t watch enough wrestling to make a comprehensive 500. But I can come pretty close.

My approach here was basically to ask: “Who do I most want to see in a match right now?” I’d rather see #9 wrestle more than #10, #5 more than #4, and #1 is the guy I most want to see overall.

Some caveats:

A) This is based on in-ring performance only.
B) I tended to take a “best case scenario” for each wrestler. Tomoaki Honma is a guy who knocks it out of the park when given a high profile singles or tag match, if you only watched him in lower card tag matches where he doesn’t get a chance to shine, you may think his ranking is nuts.
C) There’s obviously a discrepancy in amount of footage for each wrestler. I can see John Cena wrestle 100 times a year easily; for some indie guys it can be tough to track down anything. I tried to watch at least a handful of matches for everyone on the list.
D) No women or mini’s. While there are plenty of both who would deserve being added to an overall 500, I just don’t follow either at the level where I’d be comfortable adding them.
E) Smaller Indies are going to suffer in terms of representation, and that goes for the entire world, not just the U.S. Through the Network and TV, there’s plenty of WWE to watch, lucha is easy to find online, and even not counting iPPV’s on Ustream, a lot of Japanese stuff is available. Indies can get expensive (unless you’re a dirty thief), and I mainly focus on the larger groups. There are also only so many hours in the day to watch wrestling, and indie wrestling is likely the one to get cut. I know there’s a bunch of guys in Europe who should make the cut, but I lack the time and funds to properly rate them. Such is life.
F) I would count tag teams as separate wrestlers, in order to pad the list, and also it’s just fun to think about which teammate is better. In true PWI 500 fashion, tag teams members are usually only a few slots apart.
G) As far as who was included, if I think a person currently injured or on hiatus will wrestle soon, I included them. That’s why CM Punk is here, as I can’t imagine him never wrestling again. I’m also assuming Daniel Bryan comes back close to 100%. The Undertaker is not here, since I get the sense he’s done, and he may only wrestle one more match if he does come back. Evan Bourne is here and fairly high, which may be weird, since he hasn’t wrestled since Obama’s first term, but what can I say? I’m excited to see him wrestle again. Jado may have retired as I type this, but I left him on.
H) Personal biases weigh heavily. Yuji Nagata is likely too high. Don’t care. Kane is probably too low, but I don’t ever want to see him wrestle again so there you go.
I) If I see guys live a lot that also probably affects the rankings.
J) “Just repeat to yourself, it’s just a list, I should really just relax.”

So there you go. Big thanks to The Cubs Fan, Dylan Hales, Alan4L, and Mike Falcone for suggestions, feedback, and finding the embarrassing amount of duplicates in the original list. I had a lot of fun putting this together, but I doubt it’ll be a yearly thing. I could narrow it down to the top 200, which is more manageable, but not nearly as much fun. Anyway, I did it, here it is, enjoy.

(more…)

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