Tuesday, September 29, 2015

IT'S NATIONAL FILL-IN-THE-BLANK DAY

 


Tuesday is national Coffee Day. It's also national Confucius Day. I kid you not. According
to some calendar I looked up, September 30 is national Chewing Gum Day. Woo-hoo!
Maybe Bazooka bubble gum will pass out free chunks of gum!

What the hell is going on here?!

It seems like every day is national something day. National dog day, rock-skipping day,
cat day, make your bed day, bird day, chocolate day....I'm half-expecting the NFL to come
up with a national Patriots cheating day. All these days are maddening!

Who is coming up with all these national days?


Is it because of the content tsunami that is social media? Are people making up these days
as we go along? Sometimes I think all these morning talk shows have conspired to produce
all these national days just so they have so ridiculous content to fill out there shows.

It seems rather silly to me and for a person who sometimes appreciate silly, it's borderline
ridiculous.

Have we just become too bored with life. Is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram not enough
where everyday seems to be national selfie and love thyself day?

I can't wait until the calendar flips to October because there are some great national days
coming up.

October 4 is national vodka day

October 6 is national chocolate chip day.
 


October 8 is national noodle day.

Man, who said life is boring? With all these days you can fat, drunk, and noodled in the
span of five days. THAT IS LIVING!

Some days that I'd like to put on the national calendar:

October 15.....national beat-up Stephen A. Smith Day. What would be better than everyone
going to Bristol and punching the ESPN loudmouth in the face?


October 16....national Don Orsillo Day. We honor the soon-to-be former voice of the Red
Sox after the good guy got screwed by NESN and the team he covered for 15 tremendous
years.

October 17....national ban on Selfie Day. This would be one day where America would
go deaf, dumb, but certainly not blind. A day without a selfie? Impossible.

Ah, yes, no wonder Donald Trump wants to make American great again. These national
days aren't making us look very good.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DON ORSILLO'S FINAL CALL AT FENWAY

 
Don Orsillo walked out of Fenway Park Sunday afternoon the same way he entered the
Cathedral of baseball for his first day as the voice of the Boston Red Sox some 15 years
ago: with class, dignity, a great work ethic, and a passion for the game.

He is much wiser, more measured, and tougher than he was when he called his first
Red Sox game in 2000. That'll happen when you work in a region obsessed with baseball
and a media market that's the most skeptical and judgemental in the nation.

Orsillo did a great job navigating the landmines in the business, avoiding the political
animals, and working on his craft until he become one of the best play-by-play voices
in the game.

It wasn't good enough.


Sunday's game was the final one Orsillo called at Fenway Park, thanks to the power
brokers with the Red Sox and NESN, who felt the need to "re-energize" the team's broadcasts
despite the fact that Orsillo was extremely popular and universally respected throughout
the game.

This was the second time in less than a year the Red Sox had a desire to "re-energize" things.
Over the winter, they felt they felt the need to jazz up the offense and thus, threw out
more than $200 million to sign a pair of dogs in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.

How'd that turn out?

It might have been the first time the "re-energizing" explanation was given for dumping
a broadcaster. Let's face it, the Red Sox on the field provided all the excitement of a
mortician at the end of a double-shift. Next time the United States captures some terrorists,
they should bring re-runs of the Red Sox into the interrogation room and force the criminals
to watch them for a 100 hours straight. The pain of it all will surely get them to talk.


Ratings on NESN were down and the broadcasts lacked "energy?" Seriously?

The Red Sox and NESN made Orsillo take the fall for it, which is criminal in itself. Yep,
the team sucked so the voice of the Red Sox has to go! Makes perfect sense!

As an employee, Orsillo was perfect. He was dependable, hard-working, loved by
everybody and fiercely loyal. He never missed anything: a game, a meeting, a public
appearance, or a silly photo op the company asked him to do. Orsillo was a 'yes' man
in a great way. Whatever NESN asked him to do, the answer was always 'yes', 'yes' and
'yes' again.

Orsillo represented the Red Sox and NESN like Derek Jeter did with the New York
Yankees. In 15 years there wasn't one bad story or even a bad word about Orsillo. Living
in a fishbowl and the age of social media, nobody could ever come up with a negative
tweet, argument, or a bad situation Orsillo got in. That's because there wasn't a single
one, which is pretty remarkable and just showed the kind of person Orsillo is.


He was fiercely loyal to NESN for giving him his first opportunity to cover a major league
team. Orsillo was a New England native and like most everyone in that region, he lived
and died with the Red Sox. Calling their games was his dream job and he lived it every
single day for the last 15 years.

Orsillo took the hometown discount and there was no way you could knock the smile
off his face even though NESN paid him as much as 50 percent below what the average
play-by-play announcers make working for flagships stations and  networks around the
country.

Orsillo could've taken his talents somewhere else over the years to make more money
but he was loyal to the Red Sox and NESN. Loyalty meant something to Orsillo.

It's too bad it doesn't mean much to the Red Sox and NESN.


Several weeks ago, news broke the Red Sox and NESN were not going to re-new
Orsillo's contract. Orsillo had become part of the fabric of Red Sox Nation coming
into every home in the region nearly every single night. He was one of them, a New
England native who loved the Red Sox, worked hard, and had fun. No, he wasn't perfect
but was the perfect man to call Red Sox games.

Like most television executives, the ones in Boston, felt they could always get
something better. A few days after new broke that Orsillo wasn't coming back, the
network and team announced Dave O'Brien would be taking over for Orsillo.

A New England native himself, O'Brien is a supremely talented broadcaster who
has worked for ESPN in addition to being the play-by-play voice for the Mets and
Marlins. He has a golden voice and a wealth of knowledge. He will do well in
his position with the Red Sox and NESN and you can bet O'Brien will get paid
more handsomely than Orsillo ever did by taking the hometown discount.

When the uproar reached a crescendo, NESN asked Orsillo to tweet out to the
world that their parting was by "mutual" agreement. Nice try, Orsillo said, (or
something like that which was more than G-rated)



Orsillo has stayed silent through the ordeal but you know the pain is there. I
first met Orsillo when both of us were covering the Mets AA affiliate in Binghamton
back in 1994. Our paths crossed several times after that and in 2004, we became
co-workers at NESN.

If someone has said something bad about Don Orsillo, I've yet to hear it. And
in the broadcasting business where badmouthing and backstabbing is an art form,
that's pretty remarkable.

Orsillo won't say a bad word about getting a bum deal from NESN, but he is sure
to get the last word and most likely, the last laugh. Orsillo is a talented man and there
are already a number of teams and networks after his services.

Orsillo will land on his feet, that's for sure. And when he does, he'll have that trademark
grin washed across his face. Orsillo was always too good for NESN. He will soon
prove that.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

DEAR CHICAGO: IT'S TIME FORGIVE BARTMAN




The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of something special. They have remarkable young talent,
the game's best manager, and a city that's about to come apart at the seems with the resurgence
of their lovable Cubs.

They've clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 and with the magic touch of
Theo Epstein, the franchise is set up for long-term success.

Yes, life is good in Chicago, especially if you're a Cubs fan.

Steve Bartman was a die-hard Cubs fans once. He loved rooting for his favorite team
and paying homage to them in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. But that all changed
one October night in 2003. The Cubs were playing the Marlins in Game 6 and appeared
to be on the verge of going to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Then it happened.

A ball of the bat of a Marlin was lofted down the line and drifted towards a pack
of fans down the left-field line. Moises Alou, the team's veteran left-fielder thought
he had a chance at it, but when he couldn't come up with the ball, he screamed
and pouted like a petulant 5-year-old child who just had his favorite toy taken away.

In the aftermath, the cameras focused on one guy: the one in the green turtleneck, headphones,
and Cubs hat. It was Steve Bartman. In a milesecond, it seemed the whole world had turned
against him and made him into a villain. Yep, just a fan who, like so many around him, just
wanted a souvenir ball.


But when you're a fan base that has lived through curses and collapses, this was the guy
who just spooked everybody in Wrigley Field. As soon as the ball dropped out of Alou's
glove, everything became eerily silent. Everybody knew. Everybody knew this was the
beginning of the end.

When play resumed shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted a near-routine double-play ball that
would've gotten the Cubs out of a jam and Bartman off the hook. The pain increased a
a million fold. The team was doomed. Everybody knew it.

The Cubs went on to lose Game 6 and 7, shattering their dreams of going to the World
Series. The season ended for them, but it didn't stop for Bartman. He became enemy
number one and a recluse.

Yeah, all because he supposedly got in the way of Alou and prevented him from making
the catch.

Yep, the only person in the history of sports who got blamed for making his team choke
a World Series appearance away.

Only in America.

Bartman has really been nowhere to be found since that night. Sure, a reporter from ESPN
tracked him down outside his place of employment, but nobody has really seen him,
which in this day and age of cellphone cameras and social media, is truly incredible.


Unless he's gone to Wrigley Field disguised as Harry Caray, nobody can be sure he's
been to a Cubs game since 2003.

Chicago, it's time to forgive Bartman. I mean, truly forgive him.

What you did to him was nonsense and borderline criminal. Sorry, he had absolutely
nothing to do with the Cubs losing that series to the Marlins. Nothing.

Imagine if you were humiliated like that? Turned into national joke and recluse? Man,
that is wrong--and painful.

I hope the Cubs reach out to Bartman and allow him to throw out the first pitch if the
teams gets a home playoff game.

It is time.

It is time to truly forgive the man who did absolutely nothing wrong. Nothing.



Give him a great moment instead of the one he's had to live with forever. Give him
his life AND his joy back.

The Cubs will be very good for a long time, give Bartman the chance to be a part
of it once again.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

WHAT THE POPE WOULD SAY ABOUT.....



Imagine if Pope Francis took time out from his whirlwind tour through the United States to
talk about some of the issues in the sports world today. What would he say, what would he
think? I could only imagine....

The Pope on Deflategate:



"What a colossal waste of time, energy, and money. The NFL could've donated the
$5 million they spent on some "independent" investigation that was anything but independent
and given it to the homeless. That would've been money well-spent"

The Pope on Bill Belichick:

He reminds me of Satan, but I'd love to get one of his Hoodies to watch the NFL on Sundays
after Mass.


The Pope on the one sports figure he'd like to play him in the movie:

That's easy. DITKA. He was a saint, you know.



The Pope on Yogi Berra's passing:

"It's finally over. What a life he had. He came to a fork in the road and he used it well.
When I pass away, I hope I can sit next to him in God's dugout"

The Pope on Tiger Woods:

"He sold his soul to the devil and look what happened. I like Jack Nicklaus, anyway. He
wasn't going to break the Golden Bear's record. No way."

The Pope on his favorite baseball team:


"The Cardinals, of course. Albert Pujols said God told him to be an Angel, but if he asked
me, I would've told him to stay in St. Louis forever. That city loves baseball with all their
heart. Anaheim will always be the red-headed stepchild to the Dodgers."


The Pope on New Orleans Saints:

They need more than a miracle to make the playoffs. After they finally won a Super
Bowl a few years back, the well has run dry. They are out of luck---and divine intervention,
I"m afraid.

The Pope on the Matt Harvey rules:

"He'll never play on God's team."






Thursday, September 17, 2015

P.K. SUBBAN'S GREATEST GIFT



"In life I believe you are not defined by what you accomplish, but by what you
 do for others,"  P.K. Subban.

In his brief 26 years on the planet,  P.K. Subban had been defined by what he does,
a beautifully skilled hockey player who took his talents to the NHL. But for the rest of
his life, the veteran of the Montreal Canadiens, Subban will be remembered for what
he did Wednesday.

Subban donated a whopping $10 million dollars to a children's hospital in Montreal,
making it the biggest philanthropic gift by a professional athlete in the history of the country.

$10 million.

For a children's hospital.

Wow. Simply amazing.

If Subban ever wins the MVP of the NHL or raises the Stanley Cup, it still won't be
enough of an accomplishment to surpass the one he achieved Wednesday. To the people
of North America, Subban is a hero forever. To make such contribution to a children's
is both jaw-dropping and beyond heartwarming.


The $10 million donation will be made during the next seven years, and part of it
will be used to create a fund called "P.K.'s Helping Hands," which will provide financial
assistance to families of sick children so they can concentrate on caring for them instead
of worrying about how they will provide for their family while their child is in the hospital.

Amazing.

In a sports world that's been rife with scandal after scandal and poorly behaved athletes
like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson, Lance Armstrong, and Tiger Woods, Subban
is a huge deodorizer that temporarily covers up the stench. He's the breath of fresh
air the world needs right about now.


There are many, many athletes who make far more than Subban, who recently signed
an 8-year, $72 million contract, but few that will ever do what Subban did.

I have played and covered sports for nearly my entire life and my days of hero worshipping
ended when I was about 16-years-old. I admire and respect professional athletes for their
awe-inspiring talent, but I learned a long time ago, they are just human beings like the
the rest of us, complete with warts and imperfections.

P.K. Subban has changed that. I don't care what kind of hockey player he is, but his
gift to the hospital in Montreal, made him a person I respect and greatly admire.
He is professional athlete who truly "gets it', as evidenced by what he said at Wednesday's
ceremony.

 "Sometimes I try to think, 'P.K., are you a hockey player or are you just someone
who plays hockey?' I just play hockey. Because one day I won't be a hockey player a
nymore. I'll just be someone who played hockey. So what do I want people to remember
me for other than being a hockey player?

"Well, every time you walk into this hospital, you'll know what I stand for."

P.K. Subban gets it. I just wish other athletes would "get it" as well.





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

FACEBOOK + 'DISLIKE' BUTTON EQUALS DISASTER



Since the birth of Facebook in 2004, we've certainly learned a lot about ourselves
and other people, haven't we? The mother of all social media networks has allowed us
to be shameless self-promoters and discover just how high the level of narcissism can
go.

Facebook has been like a psychiatrist we don't even have to pay for, using it to massage
our egos and a public relations firm to tell the world just how great our lives are even if
they are not. After all, it's just Facebook where it's all good, all the time.

That is about to change. Social media czar Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday  Facebook
users will be getting a 'dislike' icon in the very near future. Oh, man, this is going to cause
some serious mayhem, leading to a de-friending epidemic of epic proportions,  I'm sure.



The 'dislike' button should be great test to see how a world seemingly offended by everything,
reacts when somebody gongs a comment, picture, or another Candy Crush invitation you
just sent out for just about the entire world to see, or at the very least all your BFF's.
Is the social media really ready for this?

Apparently, Zuckerberg seems to think testing the depth of people's skin will make Facebook
a little more exciting and entertaining. Perhaps, he saw how the world reacted to Donald
Trump disliking nearly everything from the questions Megyn Kelly asked to our country's
nuclear deal with Iran.

Facebook might just start looking like an episode of the "Housewives of Orange County"
complete with cat fights and bickering threads:

Karen Bagadonuts: I can't believe you 'disliked' my new profile pic! Thanks!

Cindi Goldigger: Lay off the botox, will ya? That face is so tight it could withstand
a tsunami.

Karen Bagadonuts: OMG. You biatch! I'm de-friending you.

This new dislike button just may turn Facebook into the social media networks, "Slapshot,
an epic classic known for its foul language, cheap shots, and bench-clearing brawls.
'Disliking' can beget de-friending and watching it all unfold may provide enough LOL's
to last an entire month.

Can you just imagine that 50-year-old women who has seen her best days go well-behind
her, posting a picture of herself in a tini-bikini from 10 years ago just to get a little bit of
an ego boost only to see it shattered after a few 'dislike' icons get lit up in red?

Oh, this is another stroke of genius by Zuckerberg.

Can't wait for it to be installed, letting all the pettiness and nastiness begin.

If this 'dislike' button comes to fruition, these are the top 5 things I'd punch the
icon for.

5. Pictures of injuries. OK, I realize Facebook is the biggest platform in the world
to show and tell your life story, but for the sake of Joe Theisman's snapped fibula, can
all users refrain from showing pictures of your injuries like broken bones, fat lips, and
black eyes. It's ridiculous. DISLIKE.



4. Pictures of your feet by the ocean. It was kind of cool in the beginning of Facebook,
but come on, people, its gotten real old, real fast. Try spinning a basketball off your
big toe or something. That'd offer a little excitement. If not, I'm hitting DISLIKE--a lot.


3. Changing your profile more often than the number of days in a year. Seriously,
the world is not going to leave you behind if you only update your profile picture once
a week.  According to Dr. Oz, Phil, and Doolittle, if you are constantly changing your
profile picture, you need electric shock therapy.  DISLIKE.

2. Checking in from somewhere USA. I don't care that you just walked into the Waffle
House and ordered hash browns chunked, smothered and covered. Neither does anyone
else. OK then, just 'dislike' and de-friend. I won't mind.



1. People who post pictures of themselves taking a selfie in the mirror with the
smartphone pictured. Really? Do you how stupid this looks?






Saturday, September 12, 2015

MIKE TOMLIN AND THE CRYING GAME


The NFL season picked up right where it never left off: with everybody bitching about
the New England Patriots and their alleged cheating ways. Oh, yeah, tell me they got
busted for 'Spygate', so they are forever branded as cheaters. Whatever. Never mind that
Mike Ditka, John Madden, Jimmy Johnson, and Mike Shanahan have stated everybody
tapes signals  Six Super Bowl rings combined gives them nooooooo credibility so why
should we believe them? 

Because America wants to believe the Patriots could only win four Super Bowls by
cheating!

Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff heard interference in the form
of the Patriots radio broadcast in their headsets. I guess it's rough not only seeing your
defense smoked by Tom Brady, but having to hear it must be like getting the water
boarding treatment in a detention camp.

As soon as Chris Collinsworth of NBC reported the headset problems, the football
nation said, "It's the Patriots cheating again!"


Yeah, that's what Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thought and he was livid in his
post-game press conference saying those type of things always happen when teams
come to Foxboro. (Another thing happens, too: those teams lose.)

This coming from a coach who provided his own 'interference' two years ago against
the Baltimore Ravens. Jacoby Jones was returning a kick down the sideline when Tomlin,
with his back to Jones and watching the Jumbotron in the stadium, juked like he was
going to tackle Jones. It didn't help of course, Jones went the distance for the touchdown.


Hey, Mike, do you want to talk about the 'integrity' of the game?

Tomlin was fined $100,000 for his 'sideline interference'. It was a total bush move and
one that should've have resulted in a suspension in addition to the fine.


Many in the football world, may look at that as 'cheating', but they don't because
everyone is focused on the Patriots shenanigans as they continue to dominate the NFL.

'It HAS to be because they cheat', everyone says.

Ben Rothlisberger complained the Patriots broke an 'unwritten rule' by drawing his unit
off-sides by shifting the defensive line before the snap. Ben, it's either a rule or not
a rule in the NFL's officiating guide. What the Patriots did with the line was perfectly legal.
Your team was just not prepared to deal with it, just as the Ravens weren't ready
to deal with the unbalanced formations the Patriots employed in last year's
AFC Championship game.


They Ravens complained so much and the referees were so confused, the NFL outlawed
the formations in the off-season, but when they occurred, it was completely legal. In
fact, as we saw in the documentary, 'Do Your Job', the Tennessee Titans used the
same formation in a game last season. But I guess when you suck like the Titans,
nobody really cares. However, when it's the convicted cheaters (Patriots) it becomes
the biggest issue in all of sports.

The accusations against the Patriots have become laughable and is making for the
theatre of the absurd. Everytime somebody gets whupped by the Patriots, and it
will happen a lot this season, people are going to cry as they always do because there
has to be some reason why your team got destroyed. Head-sets, deflated ball, lights are
too bright, noise is too loud, drones flying over practice, boogie man in the locker
room, video cameras inside Belichick's hoodie--oh, I'm sure we're going to hear
a lot of them this year.

I'm sure we'll hear from ESPN's intrepid reporter Chris Mortenson, who according
to "unnamed sources", has learned the Patriots are responsible for the hairdo of Donald
Trump.

It's quite laughable, really. And quite sad, too. There's no crying in baseball, but there
is enough to go around in the NFL for the season and that's just one game old.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

'DO YOUR JOB' AND ITS BEAUTIFUL IRONY



There is such beauty in the irony of 'Do Your Job', the documentary unveiled on the NFL
Network on the eve of the season. The NFL tried its hardest to smear and damage the
success of the Patriots in all of their witch hunts during 'Deflate-gate', yet allowed their
production team and own network to reveal the truth about why the team has won four
Super Bowls and been to six of them during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed obsessed with smearing the greatness of Brady
over the last seven months and throwing gasoline on a fire for a football nation that already
hated the Patriots, who were branded as cheaters for good in 2007 for their starring role
in 'Spygate.'

You can't change ignorance, but you can change perception and thanks to the NFL and a documentary that didn't include one, "according to unnamed source" attribution, the Patriots
are looked at a lot differently today than they were yesterday and their success has nothing
to do with cheating. The reality is, they are just better coached, better prepared, and mentally
tougher than every other team in the league. If you can't see that after last night's show, then
you can't be helped.

The Patriots did their job and almost by accident, the NFL really did theirs by showing in
pictures what makes the Patriots great. There were no "unnamed sources" or false information.
Just a documentary of what actually happens behind closed doors with the Patriots.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

MATT HARVEY RULES


The media can vilify Matt Harvey all they want. It does not matter

The fans can rip their ace for being a sellout, diva, and selfish player. He does not care.

Matt Harvey cares only about himself and that's not a bad thing. If fact, it's just the American
Way, isn't it?

Harvey and his super agent, Scott Boras, shocked followers of the Mets, not to mention its
front-office when they let it be known Harvey would be shut down for the season when he
reaches 180 innings pitched.

Smack dab in the middle of the pennant race, this wasn't what the long-suffering fan base
wanted to hear. It just ruined the good vibe that has been flowing since the beginning of
August when the Mets took over first place and started to put some distance between
themselves and the Washington Nationals.


Harvey missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery, something that has
plagued so many pitchers at an alarming rate over the past five years. He went through a
year of painful, taxing, and arduous rehabilitation program to return and front the Mets'
brilliant rotation.

At times during the season, Harvey has been his dominant self, at others, he's been just
average. He's complained of a dead arm and some other things that goe with throwing
near 100-mph fastballs.

Yes, and there's a reason starting pitchers only toe the rubber once a week. It takes time
to recover from throwing more than 100 speeding bullets, knee-buckling curveballs,
and unhittable change-ups. It damages the arm every time. Rest is needed.

Now, with the Mets nearing their first division title and playoff appearance in years,
Boras made it be known to the Mets, Harvey is done after reaching 180 innings. Trouble
is, Harvey has already thrown 166. For those scoring at home, Harvey is just 14 innings
away from putting his arm on ice, so to speak. That means the Dark Knight probably
won't be pitching in the post-season and to Mets' fans, that flat-out sucks.


OK, let's cut past the Mets front-office being shocked by the demands of Boras and
their position that they will be using Harvey the way they want to. Harvey is not going
to budge and that's smart.

With a $200 million payday just a few years away and the chance to be set for his
life, the life of his children, who are yet to be born, and their kids, Harvey should be
worrying about himself and his livelihood. It's his arm, his future, his legacy.

And that's OK. You'd do the same thing. If you say you'd sacrifice everything for
the good of the team, you're either an idiot or a liar. You can give use the line, "I'll
do whatever it takes for my company or team," but it would just be a lot of hot air.

Harvey has one arm which has been heavily reconstructed and one great chance to
capitalize on his talent in the form of a $200 million contract. Should he jeopoardize
everything for the good of the team?


He hired Boras, the best agent in the history of sports, to protect, serve, and make
him obscenely wealthy, something Boras has done for more a heckuva lot of players.
Google "Scott Boras" and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The New York Mets want to win the World Series and that's great. They've taken
care of Harvey with kid gloves over the years and that's fine, too. But we also know
they are still the Mets, who are cheap and realistically, have no intention of investing
$200 million pitcher whose already had Tommy John surgery. It's just how they
operate and their medical staff has a history of making bone-headed diagnosis with
some of their players.

Mets' fans can spew all the venom they want at Harvey and Boras, it does not matter.
They do not care just as you don't care what they think of them as you work and try
to provide for your family.

It's all about Matt Harvey and that's just the way of the world these days. If you had
a monster payday coming down the pike, you'd act the same way.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

CHANNELING MY INNER ROB KONRAD


6.2 miles in the open water is a long way, making for a lot of time to think about
things. Long before I drew down my googles and jumped in Lake George for the
start of the marathon swim race, I knew exactly what I was going to think about to
help get me through this endurance challenge:

Rob Konrad and his epic, swim-for-his-life journey eight months ago

The former fullback of the Miami Dolphins fell out of his boat off the coast of Florida
and had just two options: sink or swim to safety. Trouble was, safety and land was nine
miles away. Nine long miles. He had to swim through the night with sharks circling around
him without having any food, water, or a competitive swimming background. Can't
imagine Konrad was liking his odds of surviving.

I just about came out of the womb swimming and swam competitively until I was
12-years-old. Years of mind-numbing double-sessions and the boredom that goes with
staring at a black line for more than 6,000 yards a day, was just about all I could handle.
I was cooked and said bye-bye to the sport. Or so I thought.


When I started my swim around Lake George, which is one of the cleanest, freshest lakes
in the world, I thought about Konrad and what he had to endure to make it back to
shore that January night in 2015. That was my ticket for getting through this grueling event.
I figured if a guy like Konrad could survive in the ocean's salt water and all that goes with
it, I could go the distance of 6.2 miles.

When the water got choppy on the way out to the turnaround point, I thought of Konrad
battling five-foot waves during his nine-mile swim. Now, that is tough. I grinded it out
the only way I knew how.  I just attacked it. Exactly a month earlier and less than an
hour away, I completed the iconic Ironman for a second time, which included a 2.4
mile swim.

Even at the age of 51, I can pretty much fall out of bed in the dead of winter and complete
a 2.4 mile swim in under 1:10. Swimming came naturally to me. However, I only spent
five sessions in the pool preparing for the 6.2 mile race in Lake George. Not finishing
was not an option. It was just a matter of how much time it would take me and what
shape I would come out of the water in.

Konrad finished his swim-for-life, nine mile journey in 16 hours basically because
he kept getting pushed around by the waves. He said he followed the lights on shore that
he saw through the darkness. I tried to follow my line of sight to each buoy flanking the
course, but I kept going of my mark.  I was incredulous to how Konrad could find his
way back to shore in the darkness in waves that were crushing him.


Many people were skeptical of Konrad's story but they didn't account for his incredible
will. They seemed to forget all he endured to be a college All-American, second-round
draft pick, and a man who survived six years in the dog-eat-dog world of the NFL.

Only the strong survive in that league. He was mentally tough, had a high-pain threshold,
and when he was in the Atlantic Ocean, Konrad was driven by one thing: seeing his
wife and three girls again. He didn't want them to have to grow up without a father.

I was hardly in any danger of losing my life, being fish food for sharks, or getting
hypotherma. Konrad got that plus severe dehydration, and a condition that sees the
fibers in the muscles break down.


The only thing I battled during my 6.2 mile swim was a pair of burning shoulders. It
felt like someone was jabbing a red-hot poker into my rotator cuffs over the last two
miles of the race. Other than that, I actually felt great.  Thinking of all that Konrad
went through made the distance seem easy for me. If I were in Konrad's suit and had to
swim in the ocean at night and sharks circling, my heart would've jumped through
my throat.

My swim was a piece of cake and I loved every minute of it. Using Konrad's experience
during my quest to complete the race made it seem like a mile swim in the pool.


I came out of the water and crossed the finish line in a time of 3:21, which wasn't too
bad. I wasn't popping champagne but I was thoroughly satisfied with my performance.

I can't wait to do it again next year. I'm quite sure Rob Konrad didn't utter those words
after coming onto the shore in Florida that early morning in January.

There's a good chance he's telling everyone who will listen that anything is truly possible.