Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SHELLEY SMITH IS BALD AND BEAUTIFUL

 
Employees at ESPN usually make headlines in one of two ways: saying something
dumb or doing something even dumber. See Stephen A. Smith, Steve Phillips, Sean
Salisbury, Dana Jacobsen, Tony Kornheiser, Hannah Storm, Jalen Rose, Ray Lewis,
and of course, the not-so-lovely and foul-mouth reporter, Britt McHenry.

ESPN is not only the world-wide leader in sports, but boorish behavior as well, and
they certainly earned both reputations.

However, when I read about the return of Shelly Smith to the network, it felt like a big
stick of deodorant wiped out a bit of the stench created by the inappropriate comments
and behavior of the aforementioned crew in Bristol. For those who are still employed
there, anyway.

Smith, a longtime reporter who covers stories for ESPN on the west coast, took a leave
of absence six months ago to battle breast cancer. After months of radiation treatment
Smith was back on the air and cancer-free. She fought a courageous battle that so many
others have lost and was back working the job she loved.

But there was something missing in Smith's return: her long flowing red hair. It was
gone, every single strand of it. The radiation treatments made the red mane, which had
been Smith's most recognizable feature, disappear.

Smith showed up for her appearance on "NFL Live" straight bald. No wig, no short cut,
or even a little stubble. Smith was as bald as Kojak and boy, did it look beautiful

Oh, sure, Smith isn't the first celebrity to appear on television without her hair. Joan
Lunden was on the "Today" show and the cover of "People" magazine all bald and
proud. ABC's Robin Roberts lost her hair to cancer treatments as well. But this was
something different. Smith was not reporting on herself but someone else. She was
just doing her job and she didn't  care one iota of how she looked without her hair.
 

She looked fabulous to me.

The bald head was her badge of courage and a message to all of us that cancer, which
has a pretty powerful record, can indeed, be beaten. Smith's bald head is also a statement
that her talent and performance is far more important than the drop-dead gorgeous looks
that enables a woman to get a sideline job on a network to ask a coach, "What adjustments
do you have to make at halftime?"

Seeing Smith back on television gave ESPN something it desperately needed after the bad
PR it received from McHenry's episode of "Brittany gone wild." This was a feel good
story not orchestrated or sensationalized.

Thank you, Shelley Smith, you are a courageous and brave soul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE FALL OF AARON HERNANDEZ



“Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.”  - John C. Mitchell

Aaron Hernandez was so gifted athletically, he should've had a sign hanging from his
neck that read, "standing room only." He was blessed with size, speed, and a toughness
that brought him fame, fortune, and a life that many of us can only dream of.

However, the string of bad choices Hernandez made revealed the character of a man
who couldn't harness anger nor an appetite for drugs. Most of all, his actions painted
a picture of a man-child who had little respect, if any, for other people. As a result, the
dream life of Hernandez turned into one that will come to a sad and tragic end behind
bars one day.

Hernandez, a former Pro Bowl player for the New England Patriots was sentenced
Wednesday to life in prison without parole for killing Odin Lloyd in 2013. The words:
"semi-pro football player" usually followed Lloyd's name's in media reports about his
death, but he was as far away from living the glamorous life of a professional player as
Hernandez was to being a good guy.

It's so hard to comprehend how a 23-year-old man who was pretty much set for life
after signing a $40 million contract extension, could kill someone and flush the money,
the mansion, and a job with the best franchise in the NFL down the toilet. I mean, the
guy got to catch passes from Tom Brady for a living and got paid handsomely to do it.
It doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Perhaps, the life we thought Hernandez had wasn't so great for him. When he was
just 16-years-old, his father passed away suddenly due to complications from hernia
surgery. Hernia surgery? Who dies from that? According to reports, Hernandez was
lost without his father and incredibly angry about his untimely death. Terri Hernandez,
Aaron's mother, told USA Today in 2009 her son lashed out at the family with frightening
anger and started using drugs frequently.

People react differently to the death of a family member and we all have our ways
of dealing with it. Maybe Hernandez turned to drugs to mask the pain that came with
his father's passing. We will never know with certainty but when Hernandez moved
on to the University of Florida, he allegedly failed six drug tests for marijuana and
punched a bouncer in head with such force, it broke the man's ear drum.

This was the Aaron Hernandez that scared teams off in the 2010 NFL Draft. There
were enough red flags around him to bring New York City traffic to a standstill. The
Cincinnati Bengals of all teams, shied away from Hernandez despite his wealth of talent.
The Bengals! Yes, the team that at one time had more players on the police blotter than
the number of wins they accumulated over a four-year period.

Hernandez was the best college tight end in the country, one who created match-up
nightmares for defenses because of his size and 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. But
teams were passing on him like he was the second coming of Ryan Leaf

He was troubled, toxic, and to many teams, a time bomb who wasn't worth the risk of
having it blow up an NFL franchise.

Bill Belichick saw great value in Hernandez, especially in the fourth round, and rolled
the dice. He snagged first-round talent on the cheap and hoped the 'Patriot Way' would
help Hernandez walk the straight and narrow just as it did for longtime malcontents,
Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, several years before him.

Less than four years after his father's death, Hernandez was in the NFL and at
20-years-old, its youngest player. There he was, really just a kid, excelling in a man's
man type of game. And Hernandez had everything: money, fame, respect, and a
spot alongside Rob Gronkowski, giving the Patriots a nearly unstoppable two-tight
end combination.

A $40 million contract extension followed and so did the words that proved hollow for
Hernandez and haunting for the Patriots. After putting the final touches on his new deal,
Hernandez said:

"I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have
a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family."

Hernandez didn't make the decision to do the right things so he won't have that good
life with his family. He no longer has any hope. None.

Anger got the best of Aaron Hernandez. He couldn't deal with or overcome his past.
Drugs may have helped mask the pain he may have endured from his father's death,
but they didn't help his decision-making process, which clearly exposed his character
flaws.

He shot Odin Lloyd in cold-bold because he reportedly was mad at his 'friend' for talking
with people he didn't like in a night club. Some have said Hernandez feared Lloyd was
leaking information on a double-murder that Hernandez was eventually charged with.

One thing is certain: this is a sad and tragic case. Hernandez killed a man and ruined
so many lives. It was all so senseless and such a waste. Hernandez blew the god-given
talent that enriched his life beyond even his wildest imagination.

Many of his choices turned out to be bad ones, stripping a man of the armor that had
covered up his character flaws. Talent can take a person only so far, character is what
people will always remember.

Aaron Hernandez will be remembered as a bad, bad guy who wasted a great life
because he felt the need to end someone else's.




Monday, April 13, 2015

BRYAN BRENNAN: THE HUMAN SELFIE



I've never met Bryan Brennan but we somehow became Facebook friends recently. He says
he's a videographer for NESN, the goliath of regional sports networks, but judging by the
amount of selfies he takes, it's hard to imagine him having any time to shoot anything in
the theatre of Boston sports.

Brennan is the king of the selfie, the master of the 'me' shot, and the ultimate specialist of
the singular photo. Compared to Brennan, Kim Kardashian is an amateur when it comes to
selfies. He has a true talent for taking them and one thing is certain, he has more fun
than anybody else when he does, which is around eight per hour every hour.


In August of last year, TIME magazine proclaimed Mortao Maotor to be the selfie queen
as the woman from Bangkok has posted 12,000 selfies on Instragram, or half as many as
Brennan has plastered all over Facebook.

Forget about King or Queen, Brennan is the human selfie.

Brennan can't leave home without his iPhone nor curb his obsession with selfies.


"It's a gift," Brennan told SportsRip in-between snapping selfies. "Mookie Betts was born
with a great name. I was blessed with a great eye and a thumb to snap a million selfies."

Brennan's selfies are not of the garden variety and it's obvious that the veteran videographer
doesn't take himself too seriously, if at all. That is, unless, he's scratching his nose to show
off his World Series ring to the stunning blonde across the bar whom Brennan has no shot
of landing even if he gift-wrapped the bling to her.

Brennan, who graduated magna cum laude from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and
is expected to have a building named after him in one of the 18 states the school operates
in and rips people off, takes selfies to an award-winning level every single day.


"Yes, there was a lot of trial and error at first," admitted the talented videographer. "But
then something just clicked. It became natural and I got better and better as my addiction
to selfies went deeper and deeper."

I've often posted on his Facebook photos that NESN should give him his own show to
shoot, edit, and host. Brennan is far funnier than anyone that showed up on NESN's
"Comedy All-Stars" and more colorful than any of those hard-up chowder heads from
the North Shore who appeared in "Sox Appeal", the award-winning dating game that
was filmed during games at Fenway Park.

In his true humble fashion, Brennan responded, "You don't think I know that?"


NESN executives admit  keeping Brennan may be a challenge, considering his
extraordinary talent with the camera and the enormity of his personality and sense of humor.
Giving him his own show just may not be enough.

This just in: SportsRip has obtained an exclusive photo, believed to be the only one of
its kind showing that Brennan actually does work as a videographer. This is Brennan
after a Red Sox game and apparently upset he did not get to partake in the final rendition
for the night of "Sweet Caroline." Nice legs, by the way.


Brennan is to selfies what Mark Zuckerberg is to social media: a pure genius. He is to
selfies what Wade Boggs once was to sex: an addict. He is to singular photos what Tom
Brady is to deflated footballs: an expert.

Nobody does selfies better than Bryan Brennan and you know, that's not a bad thing.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

MIKE CARISTA: HELLO, WORLD!



Mike Carista, a former highly-touted prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization (according
to him) has entered the bloggersphere with "Carista's Call" which gives an in-depth analysis
and his opinion on Major League Baseball.

OK, so 99.9 percent of it pertains to the Red Sox, but you can forgive him because he's part
of a region that thinks everything revolves around the  Old Town team and is the only one
on the planet.

Carista, who is believed to be around 50-years old and close to 320 lbs of shredded steel
while wearing his favorite 1987 T-shirt of the Red Sox or Celtics, could ultimately be a
replacement for Jerry Remy on NESN's broadcasts.


"Remy's time is up," said Carista from his home in North Carolina. "He's gotten old and
stale. I'm the man of the people, not Remy. I was the pride of Saugus High and I actually
played with Curt Schilling in the minors. Check the stats, too. My WHIP and strikeouts
per 9 innings were far better than his. After Rich Gale started working with me, it was
all downhill. Does anybody know where that guy lives? I have a special delivery for him."

In his blog, "Carista's Call", the former flame-thrower turned power-lifter will detail life
in the minor-leagues playing alongside former Red Sox greats including Scott Cooper,
Jeff Plympton, Ken Ryan, and Dave Owen, who Carista says, still holds the all-time record
for chicken wings devoured in a single sitting at the Ground Round.


Carista, who was known as "the Bulldog" long before Tommy Lasorda tagged Orel Hershiser,
will also offer insight on how he curled the brim of his baseball hat like a three-tooth sloth
NASCAR fan in Bristol, Tennessee. "Yep, I invented it. I tried to get a patent on it, but
the government said that Boss Hogg's nephew got to it before me."

After his initial blog went viral, Carista is expected to make a media tour that will include
appearances on the "Today Show", "Ellen," "Kathie Lee & Hoda", and "Queer Eye for
the Straight Guy."



You can view Carista's blog exclusively at www.caristascall.blogspot.com.

Friday, April 10, 2015

HANSON BROTHERS: THE BEST ON SIBLINGS DAY


"He ain't heavy, he's my brother."

Fat, thin, freckled-faced, or forced to wear the worst-haircuts man has ever seen, pictures of
brothers and sisters adorned Facebook on National Siblings Day. Yes, it seems like every day
has become something national. There's National Puppy Day or National Do-Rag Day. I'm
sure the National hide-your-favorite-waitress-from-Tiger Woods-day is coming sometime
soon.

Admittedly, the siblings day thing is pretty cool. Pictures of brothers, sisters, and brothers
and sisters together is kind of, shall I say, heartwarming, which probably isn't all that cool
to admit, but I don't care.

I wondered to myself who were the greatest siblings in sports, but when I thought about the
names like the Manning's, Dean's, DiMaggio's, Hull's, Sutter's, well, all that came to mind
was vanilla, as in boring. Very boring.


Then, the Hanson brothers, popped in my head for some reason. Oh, they never played in
the NHL or won any awards, but if you love hockey and were coming into your own in
the late 70's, then you know all about them.

The Hanson brothers were the guys who put the goon into the movie, "Slapshot", which
was "Bull Durham", well before "Bull Durham." It was an insanely funny movie about
life in minor-league hockey.

I'm quite certain it would be on the level as "Bull Durham" in terms of popularity if
producers found a way to edit it so that it made sense for a general viewing audience.
However, because of the number of four-letter words and nudity, there was no way
any network would show it repeatedly as they do with  "Bull Durham."


And that's too bad because "Slapshot" is, was, and always be a classic and the Hanson
brothers are a big reason why.

These "brothers" didn't look the part when it came to professional hockey players. They
had long-hair and horned rimmed glasses. Yes, hockey players do wear long hair, but
I can't recall too many of them wearing funny-looking glasses. None actually.

The Hanson brothers, glasses and all, loved to fight and play "old-time hockey", which
meant bar knuckle brawls and vicious body checks. They were the guys who stood up
to authority telling referees to "Shut the F%#k up", because they were trying to listen
to the national anthem with blood oozing down their necks. They were the ones who
were "putting on the foil" as they prepared for nightly donnybrooks against guys like
Ogie Oglethorpe.

The Hanson brothers became cult heroes to those fans in the movie and it flowed right
into mainstream America or at least those who loved hockey. Their shelf life doesn't
seem to have an expiration date.

The Hanson brothers still travel around the country to do their gigs at minor-league
rinks and people still very much identify with them. Those "brothers" were actually
Dave Hanson and Jeff and Steve Carlson, all of whom could skate and skate well.

They are the best of the best when it comes to National Siblings Day, even if they
were just a figment of some whacked producer's imagination. They will always seem real
to many of us, though, because they were just crazy  brothers who just loved to have fun
and hit people real hard.


PATRICK GAMERE: THE 'G-FORCE' IN THE BOSTON MARATHON



If you racked up all the miles Patrick Gamere has covered while chasing the big story or
trying to get the perfect shot with his camera, it'd probably cover the distance from Boston
to Los Angeles and back. He's worked as a videographer for NESN for more than a decade,
capturing emotions and the excellence that seems to occur nightly in the greatest sports town
in the country.

On Monday, April 20, Gamere is set to add 26.2 miles to his wonderful career in sports. But
he won't be lugging a 40-pound camera or chasing the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
Gamere is going to run alongside about 30,000 other runners in the Boston Marathon. He got
his bib by raising the required $4,000, but Gamere is going above and beyond in trying to
help others.

Gamere set a goal of raising $13,000 for the Dana-Farber Institute which is a world-renown
center in Boston for cancer treatment and research. He began his training in earnest in mid-
December and endured the worst winter in the city of Boston, battling sub-zero temperatures
and snow drifts as high as the Green Monster.

In nearly 5 months of training, Gamere has logged between 285-300 miles, rising well
before down and running in temperatures that cuts right through you. Not exactly ideal
conditions for  prepping for the mother of all marathons, but Gamere got through it. He did
have a nice three-week break when he escaped the frozen tundra to cover the Red Sox at
their winter home in Fort Myers, and that certainly rejuvenated him.


Focused and committed to his training, Gamere ran in the Marco Island half-marathon in
between covering Red Sox workouts, logging the 13.1 mile course in 2:25.

A former defensive wizard in basketball at Framingham State, Gamere always dreamed
of running the Boston Marathon. His father, a former longtime sportscaster, ran it several
times, and Pat cheered him along the way. Patrick will follow in his footsteps for all 26.2
miles on April 20.

But this race is more than just about completing 26.2 miles for Gamere. NESN, the regional
network Gamere works for, televises the Jimmy Fund telethon every year and he's seen
first hand the heartbreak and tragedy that countless parents suffer when they see a child go
through cancer treatment, and sadly, succumb to it.


Gamere not only wanted to run forward from Hopkinton to Boston, but he wanted to pay
it forward as well. He needs just about $1,000 more to reach his goal of $13,000, which
is a tremendous amount of money for a great, great cause. If you'd like to help Gamere
reach his goal, click on this link and donate.

http://www.rundfmc.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1115928&supid=300367906

GO, G, GO!

Friday, April 3, 2015

MIKE CARISTA SET FOR COMEBACK


Mike Carista, a former highly-regarded prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization,
announced he's attempting to make a comeback after a 25-year break from the game.
According to sources close to Buster Olney, the stout right-handed pitcher from Saugus, Massachusetts reportedly signed a free-agent deal with the Somerset Patriots of the
Can-Am independently league, which Carista confirmed in an exclusive interview
with SportsRip.

"I am ready," Carista said. "I finally figured out my arm slot again.  Rich Gale, who was
my pitching coach in New Britain, screwed  it up royally. I'm going to kill that S.O.B.
next time I see him. I went from throwing 92 to 85 and that was the beginning of my
downfall."


Carista said that he not only regained his arm slot, but added 12 miles an hour to his fastball,
which he inadvertently discovered while trying to win a stuffed bear for his beautiful wife,
Kate, at the State Fair of North Carolina in December.

"My ball had some serious hair on it," he said. "I just had some pulled pork with picante
sauce along with a corn dog and I was throwing some serious heat. My wife was pissed
because I didn't come close to hitting the target and she didn't get her stuffed animal, but
I felt like Jim Baker at one of those evangelical things: I was re-born! I hit 97 on the
gun. Jeff Plympton, Ken Ryan, or Dave Owen never did that!

Carista said he got serious about a comeback in late December and started to hit the
weight room in addition to working the pits at tractor pulls throughout the state.


"You talk about a workout! Between hauling 150 pound tires and pulling those trucks
through the mud, I got real big, real fast," he said.

When asked if he used any PED's during his comeback, Carista admitted he worked
at a local GNC and may have unknowlingly taken them.

"Hey, I feel for David Ortiz," Carista said. "I can see how he could've taken supplements
that were laced with steroids. Did you ever read the ingredients on the back of those
bottles? Good, lord. It's ridiculous.

Carista went from 240 to 310 pounds in three months, increasing his bench press to a
North Carolina record 660 pounds and deadlifting 700.

"I was in Beast Mode long before Marshall Lynch came along," he added.

The former 3-time all-state pitcher and academic All-American said he also unknowingly
became a BFF with Whitey Bulger, the notorious mob leader from Boston who was on
the run for many years before being captured by the FBI in California.

Carista with Whitey Bulger at Applebee's
"He came to North Carolina before heading west. I met him in the gym at the local
YMCA and I asked him to spot me when I was repping 575 pounds on the bench. We
became fast friends. He'd come over to read my scrap book and watch my videos from
spring training with the Red Sox. He was amazed when I told him that I struck out
Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Sandy Alomar Jr. in a row when I pitched against them
when they played in Canton-Akron. Whitey said, 'Holy Shit, you made them swim
with the fishes.' "He was a funny guy."

Carista didn't realize he had been paling around with the FBI's 'Most Wanted Man
in America' until he went home to be inducted into the New Britain Red Sox Hall
of Fame several years ago.

"We don't have cable, the Internet, or satellite radio in North Carolina and the last paper
I read was the Boston Globe after I made the all-area team my senior year in high school.
I go to New Britain and I'm watching CNN and I see Whitey gets busted by the FBI.
I couldn't believe it. He was such a nice guy."

Carista has been working with his former manager in Greensboro, Dick Beradino, hoping
to recapture the magic that put him on the cusp of greatness in the Red Sox Organization.

'Fletch' Carista with Dick Beradino before a work out.
"Did you know I was actually better than Curt Schilling in the minor-leagues? Carista
asked. "I had a better record and ERA and you can look it up. We are still great friends
and he's been helping me prepare for my comeback. He even let me see what notes he
took in-between innings during all his starts. Curt also sent me his bloody sock  that
he used against the Yankees for my comeback. How cool is that?", Carista stated.

Carista will be playing on a Somerset team loaded with ex-MLB players like pitcher
Andrew Cardigan and former Red Sox great Rich "El Guapo" Garces. He's hoping
to impress scouts enough to get a major league contract by July 1st.

The signing of Carista has already paid dividends for Somerset. Tickets to "Mike
Carista Beard Night" sold out within minutes of going on sale. Any fan who has
a beard like Mike can bring a friend with a beard and get them in for free.


"This will be the mother of all comebacks and they might just make a reality show.
out of it. Stay tuned."