Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Thai Sweets

     I'm labeling these foods as Thai because they were all made in Thailand.  However, it's a bit more complicated than that.  Of the two companies whose products I'll be discussing, one of them, Lotte, was started by a Korean man, Shin Kyuk-ho, while he was living in Japan.  The two main headquarters of Lotte are therefore in Korea and Japan.  The other one, Ezaki Glico, is a Japanese company.  But, clearly, both of these companies have manufacturing centers in other places, including Thailand.  I sampled the chocolate and green tea flavored biscuit sticks from Ezaki Glico, and the chocolate creme and strawberry creme cookies from Lotte.
     The Koala's March cookies from Lotte take this theme pretty strongly.  Each cookie has a (edible) drawing of a a koala bear on it, in various poses and moods.  Some are scuba diving, some gardening, some hula dancing, some sleeping, and their moods range from happy to pissed off.  (Some appear to be male, and others female, additionally.)  The company also supports the real animal, as they're part of the Australian Koala Foundation.  The company's name is not a Korean or Japanese word or person's name, but is short for "Charlotte," a character in Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (1774). which founder Shin Kyuk-ho was quite the fan of.  (Classic horror readers may recall that this book is one of the three that the Monster found, and learned from, in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," the others being Plutarch's "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans" and Milton's "Paradise Lost.")  Returning to the cookies, alternate flavors include vanilla, honey, cafe latte, and banana.
     The Ezaki Glico company was a target of a bizarre terrorist group back in 1984-85.  First the president of the company, Katsuhisa Ezaki, was kidnapped, but managed to escape.  Then the company received letters from a person (or more likely, a group) billing themselves as "The Monster with 21 Faces" (after a character/group in the famous Japanese detective series written by Edogawa Rampo) threatening to put Glico products on shelves that were laced with deadly cyanide.  No poisoned confections were found, but the company lost an estimated $21 million when they were compelled to pull their products out of stores.  Further taunting letters were also sent to the police and the press.  Then, the group switched to the Moringaya candy company, and this time poisoned candy was actually found.  (Oddly, the tampered packages were marked, "Danger: Contains Toxins.)  No one died from these, but again, sales were clearly adversely affected, and people were understandably frightened.  Still other food companies also received threatening letters from this terrorist cabal.  Finally, a police superintendent, Yamamoto, evidently out of shame about not finding the group and bringing them to justice, committed suicide in an especially disturbing fashion, by self-immolation.  This seemed to placate The Monster with 21 Faces group, as after a final letter they stopped their communications and activities.  And they got away with it--good suspects were found to have airtight alibis,  Video footage was recovered of a man putting a poisoned package on a shelf, but he wasn't identified.  Another man was followed as he was acting suspicious near one of the ransom drops, but he also got away.  The statutes of limitations have since passed for all the group's crimes.  So kind of a Japanese version of the poisoned Tylenol scare in the Chicago area in 1982.
     But I've gotten off track.  Back to the innocent confections.  I'll once again use my typical ratings  based on the U.S. scholastic system--"A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, and "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as necessary.

Lotte's Koala March cookies, strawberry creme flavor: A-.  These cookies are small, and shaped like bow ties.  Very good,  They reminded me of similar flavored wafer cookies.

Lotte's Koala March cookies, chocolate creme flavor: B+.  Fairly similar to their strawberry sibling, a little less tasty.  But still better than average.

Ezaki Glico Pocky biscuit sticks, chocolate cream flavor: B.  These are skinny, rod-shaped sticks, with about 80% of the stick being covered in a chocolate coating.  Very good as well.  (It's hard to mess up a treat covered in chocolate, I guess.)

Ezaki Glico Pocky biscuit sticks, green tea flavor: C-. Looks like the chocolate kind, only mostly coated in green. Tastes like green tea, to the snack's detriment--I don't particularly like green tea, and thus this stick.  Also had a rather unpleasant, lingering aftertaste.

     I forgot to mention earlier, but other flavors of the Pocky sticks include milk, mousse, honey, coconut, and then some stranger ones--sweet potato, and corn on the cob.  Also, the kind with dark, bitter chocolate is called, "Men's Pocky."  (Which is an odd title to me, since I've known many women who prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, and bitter flavors in general, like IPA beers, maybe even more so than men.  But whatever.)
     So, to sum up, I liked the Lotte cookies, and would snap these up again, or additional flavors.  Don't think I'll buy the Pocky sticks again, unless it's another flavor (especially the vegetable-flavored ones, more out of morbid curiosity than actual interest.)
     If any readers have more detail on the "Monster with 21 Faces" case, I'd certainly be interested in hearing about them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Best Regular Season and World Series Hitting Pitchers

    Whenever you watch a National League Major League Baseball game (or an interleague game played in a National League city, or during World Series games in National League parks), you almost always see a rather pathetic sight--a pitcher trying to bat.  If there are men on first and/or second, they'll probably attempt to lay down a sacrifice bunt (and sometimes look helpless and awful even doing this).  Otherwise, they'll take their hacks, and the result is typically dreadful--terrible swings, often late, at pitches, or alternately, no swings at obvious strikes in the hopes of drawing a walk.  The overwhelming majority of pitchers are "easy outs," and in the rare instances when they get hits it's usually a big surprise.  Which is probably the main reason why the American League went to the designated hitter (or DH) in the 1973 season, to try to increase offense for ratings and fan interest.  This designated hitter bats instead of the pitcher, and doesn't play a defensive position.  In addition to all regular season games between two American League teams, the DH is used in interleague games in American League parks, and also in World Series games in American League parks.
     But, there are some pitchers who are average, or even good hitters.  Today I'd like to mention some of these guys, and include some records.  To do this, I looked at my copy of "The SABR Baseball List & Record Book," along with my Baseball Encyclopedia and the list of Silver Sluggers (this is the yearly award since the late 1970's which picks the best offensive players at all positions, including pitchers).  Also, I checked various articles online and checked the stats with   But statistics about pitcher's hitting prowess are a little spotty, so this list isn't necessarily comprehensive.  I welcome more info and opinions from any interested readers.
     Also, bear in mind that most sources don't separate hitting statistics achieved while pitching from those achieved during pinch hitting, except for most of the home run totals in the SABR book.  I've eliminated players who obviously played significant time at another position, but many of the pitchers mentioned here did pinch hit at least several times because they were so good at it.  I more or less arbitrarily came up with 200 at bats as a minimum for these records and lists.  Clearly, starting pitchers in the first half of the 20th century, and especially those before 1920 pitched way more complete games and innings, and also started more games period.  Meaning they then batted way more than most of their modern contemporaries.  Therefore, they have a distinct advantage in cumulative stats like hits, home runs, and rbi.  The flipside is that they had to bat effectively over many more at bats, meaning modern day pitchers may have an advantage in non cumulative stats like batting average, on base percentage, slugging, etc.  Pre-1900 pitchers pitched even more ridiculous numbers of games and innings, and the game itself was more different, with different rules, etc.  Therefore, I'm not including these players, with the exception of Cy Young, who played about half his career before 1900 and half after (1890-1911).  Judge his stats accordingly.  Finally, I'm just starting to get into more advanced stats, like WHIP and OPS, etc.  Some readers may prefer other, even more advanced and detailed statistics, which they feel may be more illuminating.  Hopefully I'll continue to progress on this front, but for now I'll stick with the more basic ones I'm familiar with.  But let's get to the guys with the following lifetime batting records, as best I can determine.

Highest batting average:  .289 George Uhle
                                         .283 Micah Owings
                                         .280 Wes Ferrell
                                         .275 Jack Scott
                                         .272 Les Sweetland
Highest on base percentage:  .351 Wes Ferrell
                                               .341 Les Sweetland
                                               .339 George Uhle
                                               .338 Don Newcombe
                                               .328 Schoolboy Rowe
Highest slugging percentage:  .502 Micah Owings
                                                 .446 Wes Ferrell
                                                 .406 Ken Brett
                                                 .389 Red Ruffing
                                                 .388 Carlos Zambrano
                                                 .386 Bob Lemon
Highest OPS+ (on base percentage plus slugging average, adjusted for time period, ballpark, etc 100 is average for a position player.)
                                                    106 Micah Owings
                                                    100 Wes Ferrell
                                                      95 Ken Brett
                                                      88 Schoolboy Rowe
                                                      87 Tim Lollar
Most home runs hit:  37 Wes Ferrell ( 1 more as a pinch hitter)
                                  35  Bob Lemon (2 more as a pinch hitter)
                                  35  Warren Spahn
                                  34 Red Ruffing (2 more as a pinch hitter)
                                  33 Earl Wilson (2 more as a pinch hitter)
                                  29 Don Drysdale
Most hits:   623 Cy Young
                   547 Walter Johnson
                   521 Red Ruffing
                   393 George Uhle
                   378 Grover Cleveland Alexander
Most rbi:   290 Cy Young
                  273 Red Ruffing
                  251 Walter Johnson
                  208 Wes Ferrell
                  190 George Uhle

     Now let's move to World Series hitting records by pitchers.  Single series ones first.

Most at bats: 18 Deacon Phillips, 1903 Pittsburgh Pirates (series was 8 games, best out of 9 games)
Most hits: 5 Jack Coombs, 1910 Philadelphia Athletics
Most runs: 3 (tie) Jesse Barnes, 1921 New York Giants, Dizzy Dean, 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, and Mudcat Grant, 1965 Minnesota Twins
Most doubles: 2 (tie) Dizzy Dean, 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, Marius Russo, 1943 New York Yankees, Murray Dickson, 1946 St. Louis Cardinals, Ken Holtzman, 1973 Oakland Athletics, Orel Hershisher, 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers
Most triples: 2 Dutch Ruether, 1919 Cincinnati Reds (bear in mind this was the infamous "Black Sox" scandal Series, so many of his opponents weren't playing their best!)
Most home runs: 1 (I'll list all 15, by 13 different players)
                   Jim Bagby, 1920 Cleveland Indians
                   Jack Bentley, 1924 New York Giants
                   Rosy Ryan, 1924 New York Giants again
                   Jesse Haines, 1926 St. Louis Cardinals
                   Bucky Walters, 1940 Cincinnati Reds
                   Lew Burdette, 1958 Milwaukee Braves
                   Mudcat Grant, 1965 Minnesota Twins
                   Bob Gibson, 1967 St. Louis Cardinals
                   Jose Santiago, 1967 Boston Red Sox
                   Bob Gibson, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals
                   Mickey Lolich, 1968 Detroit Tigers
                   Dave McNally, 1969 Baltimore Orioles
                   Dave McNally, 1970 Baltimore Orioles
                   Ken Holtzman, 1973 Oakland Athletics
                   Joe Blanton, 2008 Philadelphia Phillies
Most rbi: 4(tie) Dutch Ruether, 1919 Cincinnati Reds and Dave McNally, 1970 Baltimore Orioles (McNally hit a grand slam)
Batting average (3 at bat minimum) 1.000 Orel Hershisher, 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers (he went 3 for 3)

Now on to lifetime World Series hitting records by a pitcher

At bats: 49 Whitey Ford, all with the New York Yankees
Runs: 4 (tie) Ken Holtzman, Oakland Athletics, Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals, and Whitey Ford, New York Yankees
Hits: 9 Christy Mathewson, New York Giants
Doubles: 3 Ken Holtzman, Oakland Athletics
Triples: 2 Dutch Ruether, Cincinnati Reds
Home runs:  2 (tie) Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals and Dave McNally, Baltimore Orioles
Rbi: 6 Dave McNally, Baltimore Orioles
Batting Average, minimum of 10 at bats: .417 Jack Bentley, New York Giants
(5 for 12),
Slugging percentage, at least 10 at bats: .833 Ken Holtzman, Oakland Athletics
On base percentage, at least 10 at bats: .462 Jack Bentley, New York Giants

     Finally, I'd like to end with brief profiles of (arguably) the 20 best hitting pitchers, all time, not in order.  Some who just missed the cut were Mike Hampton, Carlos Zambrano, Gary Peters, Don Robinson, Rick Rhoden, Les Sweetland, and Jack Coombs.  "Slash" is batting average/on base percentage/slugging average, with OPS+ (adjusted OPS) and then home runs, rbi and total hits.

1) Wes Ferrell, 1927-41, with several teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.
     .280/.351/446, 100 OPS+, 38 home runs, 208 rbi, 329 hits.

2) Bob Lemon, 1946-58, with the Cleveland Indians.  Hall of Famer.
     .232/.288/386, 82 OPS+, 37 home runs, 147 rbi, 274 hits.

3) Red Ruffing, 1924-47, with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox.  Hall of Famer.   .269/306/.389, 81 OPS+, 36 home runs, 273 rbi, 521 hits.

4) Earl Wilson, 1959-70, with the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and San Diego Padres.
       .195/.265/.369, 76 OPS+, 35 home runs, 111 rbi, 144 hits.

5) Walter Johnson, 1907-27, with the Washington Senators.  Hall of Famer.
       .235/.274/.342, 76 OPS+, 24 home runs, 255 rbi, 547 hits.

6) Jack Harshman, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954-60, with four teams, including the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox.   .179/.294/.344, 73 OPS+, 21 home runs, 65 rbi, 76 hits.

7) Schoolboy Rowe, 1933-49, with the Detroit Tigers, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Philadelphia Phillies.
       .263/.328/.382, 88 OPS+, 18 home runs, 153 rbi, 239 hits.

8) Jim Tobin, 1937-45, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, and Detroit Tigers.
       .230/.303/.345, 83 OPS+ 17 home runs, 102 rbi, 183 hits.

9) Don Newcombe, 1949-51, 1954-60, with several teams, mostly the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers.
      .271/.338/.367, 85 OPS+, 15 home runs, 108 rbi, 238 hits.

10) Micah Owings, 2007-12, with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and San Diego Padres.   .283/.310/.502, 106 OPS+, 9 home runs, 35 rbi, 58 hits.

11) Tim Lollar, 1980-86, with several teams, mostly with the San Diego Padres.
       .234/.286/.377, 87 OPS+, 8 home runs, 38 rbi, 54 hits.

12) George Uhle, 1919-36, with several teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.
        .289/.339/.384, 86 OPS+. 9 home runs, 190 rbi, 393 hits.

13) Carl Mays,, 1915-29, with several teams, mostly the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
        .268/.313/.350, 82 OPS+, 5 home runs, 111 rbi, 291 hits.

14) Claude Hendrix, 1911-20, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and with 2 years in the competing Federal League.  .241/.275/.366, 86 OPS+, 14 home runs, 97 rbi, 222 hits.

15) Don Larsen, 1953-67, with several teams, most notably the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.  .242/.291/.378, 81 OPS+, 14 home runs, 72 rbi, 144 hits.

16) Jack Scott, 1916-29, with several teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Braves.
       .275/.319/.354, 84 OPS+, 5 home runs, 73 rbi, 187 hits.

17) Sloppy Thurston, 1923-33, with several teams, including the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox.    .270/.299/.383, 79 OPS+, 5 home runs, 79 rbi, 175 hits.

18) Ken Brett, 1967-81, with 10 teams, including the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals (also he was Hall of Famer George Brett's brother).    .262/.291/.406, 95 OPS+, 10 home runs, 44 rbi, 91 hits.

19) Dutch Ruether, 1917-27, with several teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.   .258/.314/.335, 76 OPS+, 7 home runs, 111 rib, 250 hits.

20) Dontrelle Willis, 2003-11, with several teams, most notably with the Florida Marlins.
      .244/.319/.378, 75 OPS+. 9 home runs, 39 rbi, 95 hits.

     Oh, and one more bit of trivia, the record for home runs hit by a pitcher in a game was 3 by Jim Tobin (see profile above).
    So let the arguments begin, I guess.




Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Quenepas

     The local Shop Rite in New Jersey paid dividends once again.  While cruising through their rare and strange fruit section last week I came upon a new one--quenepas.  As with many other foods I've talked about in this blog, quenepas go by more names than a secret agent in a Cold War thriller.  Some of the fruit's aliases are Spanish lime, genip, chenet, limoncillo, skinip, and mamon.  Even, in a couple of places, ackee, which is very confusing, as to most people this refers to an entirely different kind of fruit (see January 16, 2014 post for more on the "real" ackee).  Nowadays quenepas are grown throughout South and Central America, Mexico, and various Caribbean islands.  Originally they hailed from parts of Northern South America.
     Quenepas are considered to be very healthy.  They have decent amounts of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamins A and C.  Some alternative medicine folks credit them with being able to lower blood pressure and aid with asthma.  One site even mentioned that their lysine content would help with "proper growth and for preventing herpes."  (Which made me recall the safety strategy for the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park."  Were these creatures especially susceptible to this disease?)
     Most people eat this fruit raw.  When ripe, of course.  (This is rather important, too, as websites noted that unripe quenepas are toxic.)  Consumers bite into one, breaking open the rind.  Then the inner pulp-covered seed is popped into the mouth, and the pulp essentially sucked off (one of the fruit's many names is a local word meaning, "to suck").  In Mexico chili powder and salt are occasionally added, to give the fruit some bite.  The juice is infamous for its brownish stain-causing attributes.  In fact, traditionally it was even used as a dye.  The seeds are edible, too, after drying and roasting, typically.
     The quenepas I bought were still on the vine.  They were small, dark greenish, somewhat shiny fruits, about the size of a cherry tomato (about 1 inch in diameter, or 2.5 cm.).  The pulp was a yellowish-orange in color, and soft and almost gooey in texture.  I did as was suggested and just popped the seed and pulp in my mouth after I bit it open.  Then I basically melted the pulp off the seed, which I then spit out.  (Given my severe aversion to cooking or food preparation I didn't even try to cook and eat the seeds--I threw them out.)  The taste was alright.  Fairly tart, with a mealy, crab apple-like texture.  But here's the thing--the seed is huge.  Like 80-90% of the space under the rind.  One would have to eat like 50 quenepas  to get a decent amount of the pulp.  All in all, I didn't find it to be worth the effort.  They were also quite pricey, being $2.99 a pound (my 7 individual fruits set me back about 50 cents).  Therefore, I don't think I get these again.  Maybe if I could buy the separated pulp or juice, I might consider it.  Although that would presumably be even more prohibitively expensive.

     On an unrelated pro football note, the Carson Wentz era starts in a few days for my Philadelphia Eagles.  Hopefully he's more like Donovan McNabb, or even Randall Cunningham, and less like Bobby Hoying or Brad Goebel.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Tree House Brewing

     Last week I found myself in the Hartford, CT area.  While there it struck me that I might be fairly close to a newish, highly lauded brewery--Tree House Brewing.  Fortunately, I was, as Tree House was less than an hour's drive away.  The brewery's hours are rather limited--Wednesday through Saturday, but luckily I was able to find a night when I could go.
     If you look up Tree House's products on the Beer Advocate website (, they're almost ludicrously represented in the site's Top 250 Beers (in the world).  At this writing, 15 of the top 250 are Tree House's, including the #1, #8, #11, #12, #14 and #15 spots, and 13 of the top 100.  Other than Hill Farmstead (VT), Toppling Goliath (IA), and Trillium (Boston, Mass.) I couldn't see any other brewery which had over 5 separate beers in this "best of" list.
    Alas, there's a catch.  Like many of the popular, but small breweries, trying their beers is hard to do.  Essentially, you have to visit the actual brewery, located in Monson, Mass.  (It's possible that some of the local beer stores and bars might get some Tree House offerings, but I couldn't find any, and certainly I've never seen them in any places I've visited, even those with great selections.)  I was lucky enough in previous years to get a hold of some of the rare Vermont beers (from The Alchemist, Lawson's, and Hill Farmstead) while working up there, but I haven't been close to Monson, Mass. in quite a long time.  (I should explain.  I a semi-crazed beer snob, but even I have my limits.  I'm not willing to drive like hours to visit a particular brewery/store.  Anything over an hour or so one way is too much.)
     Similar to Hill Farmstead, Tree House Brewing is located on a farm, way out in the boonies, as they say.  There was information on the website ( imploring customers not to bother their neighbors, and/or park on the neighbors' property, so evidently that's been a problem.  I thought I was being smart by arriving half an hour before they opened, but I was wrong.  There was a already a line of maybe 200 people snaking out from the building, going out to a field behind the brewery.
     The line moved slowly, but steadily.  There was a fountain/wading pool and some cornhole (beanbag throwing) games set up for the amusement of small children who were waiting for their parents.  I overheard another customer expressing amusement about how some fanatics apparently come from as far away as Ohio to get some Tree House beers.  Another overheard conversation was about the psychological component of rating alcohol.  A man brought up the studies that have been done where wine experts are fooled by switched labels, or even by white wines that have been secretly dyed red with food coloring, etc.  Which is an interesting point.  I've often wondered how well I'd do in a blind taste test of a collection of beers.  Would I rate "crappy" beers over rare, expensive, "great" beers?  I'd like to think I could at least recognize the major beer styles--i.e. I presumably wouldn't think a Miller type lager was a great IPA or anything, but who knows?  Maybe someday I'll test myself in a double blind experiment.
     Despite my initial fear, the wait wasn't too long.  In about 45 minutes I was inside, at the counter.  Since I had the choice I went with the cans instead of the growler fills (I'd forgotten my empty growlers, and quite frankly, I don't need to pay for more).  I got there on a good day--they had 3 types of beer available.  There were two American Double IPA's, and one American Pale Ale.  The IPA's were Doppleganger (#41 on the Beer Advocate Top 250), and Haze (#44), while the American Pale Ale was Pride & Purpose.  There were strict quotas enforced.  Each individual customer was allowed to buy up to 2 Dopplegangers, 2 Hazes, and 8 Pride & Purposes.  Pretty much everyone bought the maximum allowed, which went for $43.  Since each can was 16 ounces, this equates to 16 twelve ounce beers, and between $3.25 to $4.25 per can.  Which is, clearly, very expensive, close to what a pint of beer costs in a bar or restaurant.   The can themselves are very simple, befitting the brewery's smallness.  The Doppleganger has a blue/black label on a silver can, the Pride & Purpose has a white/gray label on a silver can, and the Haze can was completely purple.  All of these labels had a stylized drawing of, of course, a tree house.
     But here's my take on them.  Using the U.S. scholastic rating system--"A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as necessary.

1) Tree House Pride & Purpose, American pale ale, 5.1% alcohol:  B+.  Cloudy.  Nice hop bite, pulls back from going overly bitter and unpleasant.  Smooth.

2) Tree House Doppleganger, American double IPA, 8.2% alcohol:  A.  Pleasant odor.  Very nice.  Spicy.  Well balanced.  I see what the hype is about.  Also hides alcohol well.

3) Tree House Haze, Amercian double IPA, 8.2% alcohol:  A.  Similar to Doppleganger.  Nice and spicy and hoppy.  Very drinkable.  Also hides alcohol well.

     So, as you can see, I think Tree House's superior reputation is justified, at least from the 3 types I had.  The "worst" of the bunch, the Pride & Purpose, was still well above average.  I certainly don't regret spending the time and money for these.  And if/when I'm near the Monson area again (or if they start shipping cans and kegs a bit) I'll eagerly try these again, or any other types.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crime and (Non) Punishment

    This is another autobiographical article, which I originally wrote back in 2003.  I submitted this one to "Morbid Curiosity" as well, but it wasn't accepted.  The reason given was that the accounts inside happened to friends of mine, with me as an observing bystander.  I was reading over this recently, and happened to recall a couple of more examples, from my stays in hotels.  Anyway, enjoy.

     Like a lot of students, I was fortunate enough to be able to live in off-campus housing for much of my college career.  Also like many others, I found it to be vastly superior to living in a dorm.  First off, there was the extra space; instead of being cooped up in a single small room, in the off-campus apartments and houses you had a kitchen, semiprivate bathroom, living room, and sometimes a basement and porch in addition to your bedroom, which occasionally you had to yourself.  Secondly, there was the freedom; unlike a dorm there wasn’t an upperclassman preceptor lurking about, with the power to write you up and toss you out of your room if they caught you with a beer.  Lastly, there was the responsibility; true, sometimes this was negative, with the unsupervised fights between housemates, tension over late payments of rent and bills, and such, but overall I think the experience led to as much maturing as the actual class work.  I certainly recommend it to anyone who can manage the cost.
     However, this is not to say there weren’t other problems associated with the off-campus housing experience.  All three years (1991-1994) of my apartment/house living were off the Douglas campus in New Brunswick, NJDouglas is one of many schools under the Rutgers University umbrella.  And, as it turns out, it’s surrounded by some pretty sketchy neighborhoods.
     Our first apartment, on Handy Street, proved to be fairly uneventful from a safety standpoint.  The only damage done to myself, my roommates, and the apartment itself was self-inflicted from overindulgence in alcohol or overzealous wrestling matches.  We did have an annoying elderly neighbor who called the cops on some of our parties, but this problem was solved when we learned the trick of guilting her into not calling by inviting her (a bit of no-risk etiquette not condoned by Miss Manners).  My Reservist roommate found a M-16 firing pin in the street, but that was all.
     The next place, a house on Comstock Street, only two blocks away, proved more unsettling.  It was located right on the border where the neighborhood began to get bad.  Our first clue about what the situation was came on the first day there, moving day.  One of my housemates had left his van open between unloading trips.  To our surprise, we looked out the window to see a guy in his van, lying underneath the steering wheel trying to hot wire it.  Fortunately yelling at and then chasing him frightened him off, and nothing was actually stolen or damaged.  Still, it was quite unexpected, especially since the van had been left unattended for only a minute or so, and it was broad daylight.
     But a month or two passed without much further happening.  We did have some tension with neighbors, particularly the house directly across the street.  They were mad that we didn’t mow our lawn in a timely fashion, and we hated them for their screaming matches and general rudeness.
     Then the next incident occurred.  At that time there were five of us living there—myself, my friends Nick, Mike, and Leon, and our sub letter Chuck (who was a nice fellow but kept to himself and his own room).  Leon was out of town with his girlfriend, and Chuck and Mike both left the house by ten or eleven a.m. (Chuck going to work, Mike going out with his girlfriend).  Nick was working the night shift at UPS and so he didn’t get up until noon or one p.m., and I normally arose somewhat earlier, but not that day because I’d been up partying until five a.m. the night before.  So, at around noon Nick and I came downstairs from our second floor bedroom to discover that we’d been robbed, again during daylight, obviously between eleven and twelve or so.
     It had been a simple job.  The burglars had broken the lock on the back door and had stolen Nick’s television, Leon’s VCR, and Nick’s mountain bike.  The police came and filled out the report, and even futilely dusted for prints on the remaining bike stand.  Our landlord was extremely unhelpful; he didn’t get around to fixing the broken lock for several days, apparently waiting for a relative to have some free time.  (This was our first clue to our landlord’s cheapness concerning repairs; he didn’t fix one of the toilets for over six months and didn’t replace a broken basement window for over a year after we moved out.)
     All in all, the robbery mainly affected our sense of safety rather than our wallets.  Nick wisely had insurance on his possessions, so he was able to get them replaced.  Leon didn’t have insurance on his VCR, but it wasn’t new and didn’t work that great, anyway (we hoped it ate all the thieves’ videotapes).  But it was jarring to think that we’d been robbed, in the day, while we were in the house sleeping upstairs.
     Then several more months passed.  Classes had started, and our lineup had changed, as different housemates and sub letters had moved in and out.  After the burglary we’d become more security conscious, and made sure the house and all our cars were securely locked.  Until one day…  My housemate Mike had just visited the grocery store, and had many bags of food.  During the thirty seconds or so between unloading trips, he’d left his pull-out stereo in his car, although behind locked doors.  Once again it was daylight, mid afternoon.  So of course he came out for another load of food to find his window smashed, and the stereo gone.  Alas, he had to pay for the repair and replacement on his own, as the total was below his insurance deductible.  A few days later one of our enemy neighbors came over and told Mike that she knew who’d done it.  She blamed her ex-boyfriend, who lived just down the street.  Ultimately her information was useless, as she wouldn’t speak to the police about this knowledge.  Since we weren’t exactly the vigilante types, coupled with the fact that our source was a questionable, possibly biased one, we didn’t hunt the neighbor down or anything
     Fortunately this was the last criminal act perpetrated on my group at the Comstock Street house.  Our final off-campus housing, a really nice condominium, was located about six or seven blocks away on Neilson Street.  After our experiences we were slightly concerned about our safety, especially given the new surroundings.  We were adjacent to a run-down housing project and several other shady areas.  However, despite its appearance, we had slightly less trouble here than on Comstock.  Vehicles had a rough time of it, though.  At least three times a car of ours or of a visiting friend was the subject of a hit and run, the worst being a friend of ours whose car was basically totaled.  Plus once again Mike had his car broken into, and like his previous vehicle, the thieves broke a window to gain access to it.  On this occasion his book bag was stolen, and with it several of his college textbooks and notebooks.  He was less upset about the loss of the possessions than the fact that he had wasted four hours on the lost homework inside one of the purloined books.  Other than these incidents, though, our property or persons were not assaulted.  Surprisingly, too, this final theft took place during the more traditional cover of darkness.
     These three years were my only brush with burglars.  My boyhood home has never been broken into, nor have I had anything stolen in the various hotel rooms I’ve called home since college (I live on the road for my business, contract archaeology).  Hell, to be accurate I never had anything of mine stolen, I just lived with people who were unfortunate enough to have this happen.  Nevertheless, it has made me conscious, some would say obsessive, about security.  I’m still amazed when I meet people (who usually come from other parts of the country, not the Northeast) who commonly leave their rooms, or cars open.  Or even more extremely, learning about households who never locked their doors, and sometimes didn’t even have locks on them!  That’s unthinkable to me, which I guess sort of sad in one way, realistic in another.  My residences may be broken into again, but I at least believe in making the perpetrators work at it at least a little
     (Update)  Since I wrote this piece, I’ve remembered a couple of more incidents concerning theft.  Like the others, these actually occurred to friends of mine, and not to me directly.  Both happened to archaeologist friends, while staying at a crew hotel.  Which, are sometimes a mixed bag, as you’ll see.  (See my April 7, 2012 post about bad hotels, for more on the lackluster or even horrible ones.)
     The first one occurred in 1995.  Since that was so long ago, I’m very hazy on the details.  But, anyway, my friend and coworker Kim was staying in a project hotel that seemed mediocre.  However, one day she reported she’d been robbed, almost certainly by the maid.  She’d (in my mind, somewhat foolishly) left cash in a box in a drawer on her nightstand while she was at work.  Since the maid had a key to her room, and had cleaned it, she was the obvious leading candidate (there was no sign of forced entry or anything else).  When Kim complained to the hotel owner, his response was to tell her which maid had cleaned her room (and may have even pointed her out), and told Kim to confront her.  So, kind of like my earlier story, he was encouraging vigilante justice, it seems.  (I don’t recall why Kim didn’t call the police.  Or perhaps she did but they couldn’t do much because it was a hotel.)  Whatever the exact details were, I think this was awfully strange. Kim chose not to get in a futile screaming match (or worse), so she didn’t get any justice or satisfaction.
     My final story took place in 1996.  I’ll use my coworker’s nickname, to protect the guilty.  (I should state that in the 20 years since this occurrence he’s married, has kids, and is a successful businessman and a landlord, so he’s undeniably gotten more responsible.)  “Dennis the Menace” enjoyed a certain smoke-able herb, and evidently his maid did too, as she stole his stash.  Clearly this type of theft isn’t one you can report to either the hotel or the police.  (Well, you could, I guess, but it would be really stupid.)  A day or too later we saw “Dennis” walking around at work with poison ivy leaves in a bag.  This was extremely weird behavior, of course, so we asked him what the hell he was doing.  His plan, he explained, was to rub it on the doorknob of one of his rooms (his girlfriend worked on the job too, so they each got a room.  But they mainly stayed in one, while using the other for storage.)  He also was going to rub it on that room’s toilet seat, in the hopes that the larcenous maid would use it and get the poison ivy rash on both her hands, and more sensitive areas as well.  All of us spent some time convincing him not to go through with this attempted revenge.  We pointed out that the odds of her using his toilet were slim to none, for starters.  Then we mentioned that the far more likely scenario was that he would forget about his actions and accidentally touch the doorknob and/or the toilet seat himself, perhaps while drunk (he enjoyed alcoholic beverages, sometimes to excess, as well).  Finally, what if the maids occasionally switched who cleaned particular rooms, or the marijuana thief was sick and a replacement did his room?  An innocent person might get a nasty, and unfair surprise.  “Dennis” grudgingly conceded our arguments, and thus his maid got away with her stealing with no consequences.  But at least “Dennis” didn’t compound his property loss with more itchy rashes, in way worse places than we field techs normally get.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Portuguese Soft Drinks, and a Short Discussion about the NFL Preseason

     Recently I found myself in Danbury, Connecticut.  The local supermarket had something surprising--a Portuguese food section in their ethnic foods aisle.  So evidently Danbury has a fairly sizable Portuguese population, or at least a large number of people who enjoy their food.  Most of the selections were things I'd had before, such as canned seafood, but they did have some soft drinks I'd never sampled.
     Sumol + Compal, S.A. is a major soft drink manufacturer in Portugal.  The company, which is a combination of two smaller companies, also markets juices/nectar, water, and beer.  It primarily sells to European and Northern African countries.  Soda flavors include orange, passion fruit, pineapple, and mango.  I was able to locate the first two kinds.
     The other drink I bought is a bit of a mystery.  The bottle says it's made by Kiki.  I wasn't able to discover much of anything about the company online, and the bottle only mentions it was manufactured for Miranda Imports, Inc.,, out of Massachusetts.  So that's all I have.  I tried the orangeade flavor, or "laranjada" in Portuguese.
     So here's my opinions, rated in the usual U.S. scholastic system.  "A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, and "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as necessary.

Kiki laranjada (orangeade): D-.  Orange color, came in a 12 ounce (355 ml.) bottle.  Really disappointing.  Very bland and dull.  Just a hint of orange taste.  Was it expired?  No expiration or "best by" date on bottle.

Sumol orange flavor: D.  Came in a huge, 1.5 liter bottle.  Has 10% orange juice and pulp.  Kind of like the Kiki, it was very dull and bland.  Just a hair better.  My father liked it, though.

Sumol passion fruit flavor: C+.  Is 6% juice, and came in a 330 ml. (11.15 ounce) can.  Yellow color.  Much better than the others.  Had a stronger taste.  Not strong overall, but improved.

     So, as you can see, I wasn't very impressed with the Portuguese soft drinks.  Even the one I liked was basically a tad better than average.  Obviously my main complaint is that these sodas didn't have very strong, distinctive tastes.  I wouldn't buy any of these again, except maybe the orange Sumol for my father.

     Switching topics, I'd also like to get into the NFL preseason a little, since it just started.  First off, the NFL doesn't like the term "exhibition games" even though that's exactly what they are.  Kind of like the recent trend in dealers calling them "pre-owned cars" instead of the more honest and direct, "used cars."  Up until the NFL was founded in 1920, there was no real agreement on what were "real" games and what were exhibition ones.  The pro teams of the era simply scheduled games with whatever teams they thought would get them a decent paying crowd.  In 1921, the NFL enacted a rule that only sanctioned games between members of the NFL constituted official games, and these then counted in the standings.  But, teams could, and did continue to play other non-NFL teams until the end of the 1930's, even though they didn't count.  Even during the regular season, during "bye weeks," or weeks where they weren't scheduled to play anyone.  Now, of course, this seems ridiculous--why risk injuries, during the season, for games that didn't count?  It was a different time.
     By 1960, the NFL and the competitor American Football League (AFL) both played a 14 game regular season and 4-5 preseason games.  Then, when the AFL and the NFL merged (in 1970, into an NFL with two conferences, the NFC and the AFC), every team started playing 14 regular season games and 6 preseason games.  This didn't last too long, though.  When the NFL expanded its regular season to 16 games, the preseason schedule dropped to 4 games for most teams, and a fifth for the two teams that played in the preseason debut "Hall of Fame" game.  Aside from 1999-2001, when an odd number of total teams (31) meant that a few more teams had to play a fifth preseason game, this has been the same up until the present.
     There was a weird exception to the typical NFL preseason from 1934-76.  The first preseason game used to be between a team of college all star players versus the defending NFL champion team.  The college players even won 9 of these, while losing 31 and tying twice (the 1974 game wasn't played due to the player's strike that preseason).  By 1977 this College All Star Game was discontinued, after concerns about rising insurance costs and the fear that college prospects would get injured before they could be drafted by the NFL.  A strange rule was made by the NFL in 1963 in response to author/journalist George Plimpton's immersive book about playing football, in which he practiced with the Detroit Lions at quarterback.  Journalists were barred from playing in the preseason (or in the regular season, I assume) when it became apparent that the Lions might actually do so.
     Clearly, preseason games aren't much a barometer for how well a team will do in the regular season.  Much of the action is played by men who won't even make the final squad, or if they do it will probably be in a reserve role.  Teams limit their regular season starters' time for the very realistic fear of injury in a game that doesn't mean anything.  Typically the 3rd preseason game (or 4th for the 2 teams that played in the Hall of Fame game) is the one where the starters play the most, usually 2-3 quarters.  So, if you're wondering which game is most significant to view, that's the one.  And to illustrate just how little the preseason does predict teams' success, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who had a perfect 17-0 season, lost 3 preseason games, and the 2008 winless (the only 0-16 team ever) Detroit Lions went 4-0 in that year's preseason.
     I'd end on some preseason game individual player records, but I couldn't find them (I didn't look especially hard, but still).  Apparently the NFL doesn't care much, and nor do the fans.  Including myself, really.  The NFL does, though, make season ticket holders pay for the 2 home preseason games a year as well as for the 8 regular season ones.  Several individual and class-action lawsuits haven't been able to change this.
     So, enjoy the completely unimportant August games.  Or don't.  At least the regular season starts pretty soon--September 8th sees a rematch of the previous Super Bowl participants (the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers), while the rest of the league starts on September 11th (or the 12th for the 4 teams playing in the first Monday Night games).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some More Multi-Talented Athletes

     Recently a friend of mine posted a snarky bit about Brian Jordan, who played in both the NFL and Major League Baseball.  This sparked me to look into the phenomenon of people who played in more than one sport on the highest levels a bit more. (Also included are a couple of guys who became famous for, or at least did some major acting.)  Any long time readers may even recall that my third ever blog post (February 19, 2012) was about this, so this is kind of a sequel, I suppose.  Some of the athletes mentioned were Olympic athletes, which is appropriate since the 2016 Summer Games are obviously underway.

1) Jim Brown.  Starting with one of the very best, Jim Brown is definitely one of the greatest football players ever.  In his 9 year career with the Cleveland Browns at running back, he led the league in rushing yards 8 times, and was a Pro Bowl pick 9 times.  All told, he accumulated a then-record 12,312 rushing yards (with a 5.2 average carry), 2499 receiving yards, 106 rushing touchdowns, and 20 more receiving touchdowns.  He was part of one NFL Championship winning team, for the 1964 season.  For all these reasons, he was a very deserving Pro Football Hall of Famer.  However, he was also an excellent lacrosse player in college, at Syracuse University.  So much so that he's in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, too.  Finally, he became a successful actor after retiring from football.  He had at least supporting roles in films like "The Dirty Dozen (1967), "Ice Station Zebra" (1968), "100 Rifles" (1969), "The Running Man (1987), "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988), and "Mars Attacks!" (1996).

2) Tim Stoddard.  Stoddard was a mostly mediocre reliever for 6 clubs in the 1970's and 1980's, including stints with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.  Overall he had a won-loss record of 41-35, with a 3.95 ERA, 76 saves, a WHIP (walks and hits per inning) of 1.420, and an Adjusted ERA of 101 (100 is exactly average).  While with the Orioles he played in the 1979 World Series, and was awarded a ring for the winning 1983 Orioles team (although he didn't play in that series). However, he was also a very good basketball player.  In college, with the North Carolina State Wolfpack, he was a starting power forward on their NCAA title-winning 1973-74 squad.  The team that interrupted the UCLA juggernaut. As such, he's the only guy to play in a World Series and win a NCAA basketball title.  ( Kenny Lofton came close, but his University of Arizona team lost in the Final Four.)

3) Cumberland Posey (who went by the now embarrassing nickname of "Cum").  Posey was an excellent basketball player and a decent baseball player.  Alas, because of the racial barrier in most professional sports in the early 20th century in the U.S., the African-American Posey wasn't allowed in the big pro basketball leagues or Major League Baseball.  Instead he played for the segregated teams that he could.  Unfortunately, these leagues didn't keep extensive statistics, so I can't tell you his scoring average, slugging average, etc.  His basketball ability is mostly based on the opinions of competitors and audiences.  After a brief playing career in baseball, he became a manager, owner, and league official in the Negro Leagues, with the Homestead Grays, one of the best teams in the league (they won pennants from 1937-45).  Because of his accomplishments, he was elected to both the Baseball Hall of Fame (2006) and the Basketball Hall of Fame (2016).

4) Chris Bahr.  Bahr is best known for being a long time kicker in the NFL, playing 14 seasons  with the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers from 1976-89.  He converted 63% of his field goal attempts, 94% of his extra point attempts, and finished with 1213 points.  He also kicked for two Super Bowl winning teams with the Raiders, Super Bowls 15 and 18.  However, he was also an accomplished soccer player (or football player, to readers in pretty much every country but the U.S.).  In fact, he was Rookie of the Year for the 1975 NASL season, with the Philadelphia Atoms.  He scored 11 goals in 22 games.  (I realize this league wasn't on par with the best leagues in other countries, like Europe, but still.)

5) Michael Carter.  Carter had a very successful NFL career as a nosetackle with the San Francisco 49ers from 1984-92.  He started 97 of 121 games, got 22.5 sacks, was named to 3 Pro Bowls, and was rated All-Pro 3 times as well.  Continuing the "3's" he was part of 3 Super Bowl winners, in Super Bowls 19, 23, and 24.  But, he was also an excellent shot-putter.  He won the Silver Medal for the U.S. in the 1984 games.

6) Ollie Matson.  Like Carter, Matson was a great football player and Olympian.  In the 1952 Summer Games he won a Bronze Medal in the 400 meter run, and then a Silver as part of the 4X400 relay team.  From 1952-66 he played in the NFL, with the Chicago Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, and the Philadelphia Eagles.  A halfback, he accumulated 5173 rushing yards (4.4 average) with 40 touchdowns, and then 3285 receiving yards, and 23 more touchdowns.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

7) Eddie Eagan.  Eagan has the distinction of being the only person to win gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics in different events.  In the 1920 Summer Games Eagan won gold for the U.S. in boxing, as a light heavyweight.  Then, in the 1932 Winter Games, he again won gold, this time as part of the 4 man bobsled team.  He later became a lawyer, and then a Colonel in the army.

8) Sammy Byrd.  Byrd started out as a baseball player, as an outfielder.  Largely a reserve player, he played 8 years, accumulating a .274 batting average, .350 on base percentage, .412 slugging average, with 465 hits, 38 homers, and 220 rbi.  He played for the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds.  As a Yankee, he earned the nickname "Babe Ruth's Legs," as he often replaced Ruth late in games on the bases as a pinch runner or in the field (the rotund Ruth was neither a fast runner nor a good fielder at this point in his career).  He played in the 1932 World Series with the victorious Yankees.  However, he cut his baseball career short to concentrate on golf.  He had good success as a pro too, winning 6 PGA events.  In golf Majors he finished 3rd (1941) and 4th (1942) in the Masters, and 2nd in the 1945 PGA Championship.  He's the only man to play in both a World Series and a Masters.

9) Katie Taylor.  Taylor is mostly known as a boxer, in the lightweight division.  She won a gold medal at the 2012 Games for Ireland.  She also was good enough at association football (soccer to Americans) to make the Irish national team from 2006-9, playing midfielder/forward.  She's currently competing in the Summer Games, so she may well add to her medal total.

10) Sir George Thomas.  This one is a bit of a stretch, since it involves a game rather than a sport.  But, Thomas was presumably the best badminton player England ever saw, as he was the champion in singles, doubles, or mixed doubles from 1906-28.  He also played tennis, reaching the semifinals in doubles at Wimbledon in 1911.  He was the inaugural member of the Badminton Hall of Fame.  Additionally, he was the British Chess champion in 1923 and 1934.

11) Charlie Ward.  Ward won the Heisman Trophy playing quarterback at Florida State University in 1993.  However, it became known that most scouts predicted he would be a 3rd to 5th round NFL draft pick.  There were concerns about his height, among other things (he was 6'2", which is on the short side for a quarterback). Ward said he would play basketball if he wasn't picked in the 1st round.  Subsequently he wasn't chosen at all in the NFL draft.  The NBA's New York Knicks, though, did draft him in the first round of their draft.  Charlie went on to a solid 11 year career at guard, averaging 6.3 points a game, 2.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.2 steals, mostly as a starter.  He also played for the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.

12) James Jett.  Jett won a gold medal as part of the 4X100 relay in the 1992 Olympics.  After that, he began his 10 year career in the NFL, playing wide receiver.  He started 75 of 140 games, and caught 256 passes for 4417 yards (17.3 average) and 30 touchdowns.  And along with Usain Bolt he probably has the most appropriate name for a fast runner.

13) Rebecca Romero.  Romero won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in the quadruple sculls (rowing) for England.  Unfortunately, injuries forced her to retire.  However, she went into cycling instead.  And became good enough to win a gold medal in individual pursuit cycling in the 2008 Summer Games.

14) Charley Powell.  Powell had a 7 year career in the NFL, with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders in the late 1950's/early 60's.  He played Defensive End, Linebacker, and End.  Alas, defensive stats weren't well recorded in those days, so I can't provide much detail.  He is alleged to have sacked Hall of Famer Bobby Layne 10 times in one game (sacks weren't officially recorded until the early 1980's).  Powell also was a professional boxer, competing in the heavyweight division.  His final record was 25-11-3, with 17 knockouts.  He did knockout the then #2 contender, Nino Valdes, in 1959.  He was ranked as high as #4 himself.  Included in his career were losses to such notables as Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay).  In addition to these accomplishments, he also played minor league baseball and was offered a tryout with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

15)  Chuck Connors.  Connors is best known for starring on the television series "The Rifle Man," from 1958-63.  However, he was also quite the athlete.  He played 2 years with the Boston Celtics at forward/center, back when the team was in the Basketball Association of America (they were absorbed in the NBA in 1949).  He played in 53 games, and averaged 4.5 points a game, and 0.8 assists (rebounds weren't tabulated back then).  Moving to Major League Baseball, Chuck played 2 seasons, with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs.  His batting average was .239, his lifetime on base percentage was .280, and his slugging average was .302.  He hit 2 homers, and drove in 18 runs, and finished with an OPS adjusted of 55 (or not very good at all--100 is average).  As an actor, in addition to "The Rifle Man" he had roles in 1957's "Old Yeller," 1963's "Flipper," 1971's "Support Your Local Gunfighter," 1973's "Soylent Green," 1979's "Tourist Trap,"  as well as in the famous television series "Roots" (1977).

16) Jim Riley.  I'll end on the most obscure one.  Riley played several years of professional hockey, mostly with teams in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in the years before and after World War I.  He was even on a Stanley Cup winning squad, the Seattle Metropolitans in 1916-17, back when the Cup was awarded to teams in other pro leagues if they beat the National Hockey League champion squad, in a playoff series, as happened here.  Later, Riley did play briefly in the NHL, with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks in 1926-27.  He played in either 9 or 17 games (the sources differ), and had 2 assists.  He also had a very brief MLB career, playing with the St. Louis Browns in 1921, and the Washington Senators in 1923.  He played in 6 games, accumulating 0 hits in 14 at bats.  (He did score 1 run ,and walk 3 times.)  So his batting average was .000. his on base percentage .176, and his slugging average .000, for a total adjusted OPS of -52!  But, to give Riley credit, to date he's the only man to play in both the NHL and MLB.