Friday, December 30, 2016

GOOD-BYE, UNCLE JACK



Death.

2016 has seemingly been defined by it. Perhaps, it's because a lot of famous people died
in a country that's obsessed with both celebrity and social media.

David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Arnold Palmer,Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson,
Alan Thicke, Craig Sager, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds were among those from the entertainment and sports world that passed away, most of them suddenly, drawing shock and
awe from a majority of a society that never knew, much less even met any of them.

But we mourned them all as if they were somehow connected to us. And that's OK. Death is
not easy and there isn't a manual on how to handle it, even if you didn't know the departed,
personally. We all do it in our own way. For those like me, who are on the other side of 50,
there are far more funerals to attend  these days than weddings or christenings. It's just
part of the cycle of life.

I will be attending another funeral very soon. My Uncle Jack passed away this morning,
shortly before the door slams shut on 2016, the year of death. Jack Devlin. 78-years-old.
The youngest of four children who all died with Alzheimer's disease. The Devlin curse.
Nobody dies of Alzheimer's disease, though, it's usually something else that robs them of
their last breath. Alzheimer's disease just makes the ending cruel, very cruel.


Jack was more than just an uncle to me, he was my godfather and really good friend. Jack, like
my father and his other siblings, was extremely Irish and very Catholic. I'm not sure he ever
missed Sunday Mass before suffering his cruel fate that was Alzheimer's disease. He was
successful in his career of television advertising sales and was blessed with the same sense of
humor my father and his brother, Jimmy, had.

Uncle Jack also had a heart of gold, willing to do anything for anybody at anytime. However,
he was  quite blunt, and often lacked a filter. But that's one of the things that made
Uncle Jack who he was. He told it like it was, never sugar coating a thing, or steering anyone
in a direction other than the one he felt they should go. (wink, wink)

That was Jack Devlin.

He laughed like Arnold Horshack, was sarcastic in an Archie Bunker kind-of-way,
but harmless as a Teddy Bear.

Uncle Jack had some tough times recently, but my cousin and his niece, Tara, was simply
remarkable in her care for him. A pure angel and godsend, she rescued him from Wisconsin
where he lived alone and took him back to San Diego where he received tremendous care.

Thank you Tara Blackburn for all you did in taking care of Uncle Jack. You are amazing.

Jack is at peace now and in a much better place along with his brothers Pat, Jim, and sister
Mary. I am truly thankful for that and thankful that 2016 is almost over.

Good-bye, Uncle Jack. You were one-of-a-kind and will be truly missed.








Wednesday, November 23, 2016

GOOD-BYE, RALPH BRANCA


Ralph Branca will be always be remembered as the guy who gave up one of the most iconic
home runs in baseball history. Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants crushed a fastball
off the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher for a walk-off win in the 1951 playoffs, making it "The
Shot Heard 'Round The World."

I will always remember Branca for so much more

Branca died Wednesday morning at the age of 90. He was a great friend and golfing
buddy of my father, who passed away eight years ago. They had a special friendship which I
benefitted from greatly.

I was addicted to baseball as a little kid, often playing from sun up to sundown with my
neighborhood friends. Branca would come over to our house and we'd have a catch in the
backyard. He saw my passion for the game and helped take it to an entirely different level.


In 1974, when I was just 10-years-old, Branca, who married into the O'Malley family, which
owned the Dodgers at the time, took me down to Shea Stadium to meet the team. Growing
up in Westchester county, New York, I was a die-hard Mets fan, but that all changed when
Branca took me under his wing on a hot summer night in July.

He ushered me into the clubhouse of the Dodgers, one that was filled with the likes of Steve
Garvey, Ron Cey, Don Sutton, and Reggie Smith. Most kids are in awe when they go
to Disneyworld to see Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. I was in fantasyland that day,
meeting major league players in a real clubhouse. Not a locker room, but a clubhouse which
was filled with buckets of bubblegum, sunflower seeds, and the greatest players in the world.

After introductions to all the players, Branca led me through out through the tunnel and
onto the field at Shea Stadium. Forget about being as happy as a kid in a candy store, I
was walking on cloud nine with the biggest smile the world has even seen.

I was on a big league field meeting all these players I had seen on television. There was
Tom Seaver and Rusty Staub of the Mets. Hey, there goes Tommy John and Davey Lopes.
Oh, my god, are you kidding me?!

Branca then took me back to the dugout to meet this coach who had an audience all his
own. He was loud when he talked, even louder when he laughed. The man had a bit of
a gut that was hanging over his leather belt as he sat on the green padded bench.
At the time, I thought everybody in baseball was in shape, but I guess coaches were a
different story.

It was Tommy Lasorda, who was the third base coach at the time. Branca introduced me
to Lasorda and he was very friendly, taking care of me like I was Branca's own little kid.

He said to me, "Paul, if you think I'm going to be the next manager of the Los Angeles
Dodgers, I will give you this hat." That hat had number 52 written under the brim. It looked
brand-spanking new as if it just came out of the box. It was Dodger blue with "LA" stitched in
white across the front of it.

Lasorda said the hat would be mine. All I had to do was say  I believed he'd be the
next manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and he'd hand it over. I did. And he did.

This was the greatest day of my young life.

From that point on, I became a Dodgers fan, following them religiously while pretending
I was Steve Garvey, who became my favorite player. The hat Lasorda gifted me allowed
me to be the coolest kid in the school for a day. Of course, I wore it around even though
it didn't come close to fitting.

Wearing the Dodgers hat Tommy Lasorda gave me.

However, good 'ole Ralph Branca wasn't done being good to me. A few years later, while
our family was vacationing in Florida, the Dodgers legend suggested to my father he go
to the team's spring training site in Vero Beach.

My father got me in the car and we traveled a few hours to see the Dodgers play a spring
training game. Vero Beach was baseball paradise. A field of dreams lined with palm trees.
It might as well have been heaven to me.

We approached the clubhouse of the Dodgers and met a Japanese man named Nobe Kiwano,
who turned out to be the team's clubhouse man. My father said to him, "We are here as
guests of Ralph Branca." I looked around and didn't see any sign of Branca and wondered
what was going on.

Kiwano then said, "Come this way." He led me into the Dodgers spring training clubhouse.
My father stayed behind. I was like, "This is unbelievable."

That's pretty much the same thing I said when I entered the clubhouse and saw Steve
Yeager and Pedro Guerrero sitting side-by-side at their lockers smoking cigarettes.
I couldn't believe it. I didn't think any professional athlete smoked cigarettes and here
were two players I admired taking drags off butts like they were in a big hurry.

I was in a bit of a shock for a second, but was quickly re-set by the sight of Garvey
strolling through the clubhouse. He was the MVP in 1974 and my favorite player. Kiwano
saw my eyes, which had to be as big as half dollars, and he took me by the arm and
introduced me to Garvey.

The Dodgers first baseman asked me where I was from, how old I was, and what position
I played. I by-passed answering the first two questions and immediately told him I
was a first baseman just like him.

Man, that was awesome.

I went out on the spring training field, making like I was a seasoned veteran, even
though I was just 12-years-old. I was still wearing the hat that Lasorda and I was hoping
to say hello to him. However, he did indeed become the manager of the Dodgers and
every reporter was gathered around him asking him a bunch of questions.

I was lucky. Real lucky, thanks to Ralph Branca.

I saw Branca many times after that and played golf with him several times over the
years. He always took the time to ask  about my baseball career and offered advice to
improve my game.

When I heard the news that Branca died today, I lost a bit of my breath. He was
a wonderful man who was a great friend to my father and a person who brought me
so much joy and happiness by taking me to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers. News
of his death brought a tinge of sadness to my day, knowing it came just before
Thanksgiving.

I am so very thankful to have met Ralph Branca. I was lucky enough to have played
catch with a baseball star and soak in the advice he gave me along the way.

Rest in peace Uncle Ralph, you will be missed.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

GRAHAM HARDEN FACES HIS TOUGHEST OPPONENT



During his lacrosse career, Graham Harden was assigned to defend against the opponent’s most skilled attackman, those trying to penetrate the zone and fire the ball on net. Harden, a New Canaan, Connecticut native, was incredibly gifted with physical tools, smarts, savvy, and unquestioned toughness.
Harden weaved all that talent into an incredible legacy which he cemented at the University of North Carolina. He was named the National Defenseman of the Year in 1991, earning All-American honors in the process. Harden also captured ACC Player of the Year honors that same season and led the Tar Heels to a national championship.


In 2012, Harden was voted to the ACC’s list of the Top 50 players of all-time, capping a lacrosse career very few have ever matched.


Today, Harden, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, is defending against another powerful opponent.
Graham Harden has ALS.
Harden received the devastating diagnosis in August after experiencing weakness in one of his legs.  A team of physicians concluded Harden had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a progression neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.  Those afflicted with the disease eventually lose all motor skills throughout their entire body.
There is no cure or effective treatment for ALS. The average time a person has left to live after being diagnosed with the disease is just three-to-five years.


Life is not fair and it can be downright cruel. One only has to remember what happened on December 14, 2012 to realize that. 20 innocent children at the Sandy Hook Elementary school were slaughtered by a deranged gunman who had no regard for human life. It made me question hard the “everything happens for a reason” statement many of us like to lean when bad things happen.
I thought about life being so unfair and so cruel when I learned of Harden’s ALS diagnosis. Graham is one of the most wonderful human beings you could possibly meet. Forget about his legendary lacrosse career, Harden is about as solid of a person as a 150-year-old Oak tree in Waveny Park.


He’s been a pillar of his community in Cincinnati, volunteering as a firefighter and EMS member. He also lends his time and expertise as a volunteer coach at a local high school. Everybody loves Graham Harden and anyone who grew up in New Canaan and knew his family, loved and respected them, as well.

Lucy Gail, the mother of four wonderful children who all grew up to be amazing people, could be one of the nicest human beings ever to walk this earth. That's not hyperbole. Anyone who has met Lucy Gail will tell you the same thing.
Just as Graham did to his opponents during his brilliant career, he is taking the insidious disease that is ALS, head on. He and his brothers, Boyd and Holmes, both of whom were also All-Americans in lacrosse at UNC, and sister, Shea,  have formed Team Harden, coming together to battle ALS.


They have started “Game On! Graham Harden and G-Force against ALS.” The foundation raises money for research and medical care for those afflicted with ALS.
The Cincinnati community where the Harden family resides is also giving back.



Knowing there are three children and a wife to be taken care of, friends have initiated fundraisers to help with the financial burdens that will mount in the coming years.
As of November 1st, just over $78,000 has been raised through the G-Force campaign. The goal is $300,000.
It is my hope the New Canaan community comes together to take help take care of one of its own. Graham Harden is a special person who made New Canaan proud. His entire family is part of the fabric of the small Connecticut town.
The road ahead is a tough one for Graham. He needs our help.


If you’d like contribute and help make a difference in the lives of Graham, the entire Harden family and others afflicted with ALS, you can donate via www.youcaring.com/graham-harden-ii-family-trust-660908/donate#wp

Monday, October 3, 2016

WINNING ONE FOR JULES


When I walked into the office of Carl Alexander at the Golf Club of Purchase
several years ago, two things stood out to me. One, the rich black and white photographs
of famous golfers that lined the walls. They are breathtaking, classic, and nearly
perfect---taken by one of the world's best photographers.

The other thing that captured my attention was the number of oversized paychecks
tucked away in the corner of it.Those paychecks represented the prize money that
Alexander, the head professional at the prestigious club which is located about a
Bubba Watson drive outside of New York City, has won over his playing career.

Last Thursday, Alexander added another oversized paycheck to his office and honored
the man responsible for all those spectacular photographs hanging on the walls.
Carl's father, Jules Alexander, passed away in August after 90 great years on this earth
and a legacy that will live on forever through the countless lives he touched through
his wonderful photographs.


Playing in his first tournament since his father's passing, Alexander won the Met
Senior PGA event by two strokes, winning the top prize at the Metropolis Country
Club in White Plains.

"I hadn't played a lot of golf since my father's death," said Alexander, "But I felt really
comfortable out there."

Before the tournament, Alexander paid a visit to his mother's home at the Westchester
Country Club and took a momento of his father for the two-day tournament.

"He had a box with a lot of valuable coins. I saw a 1969 silver half-dollar that I took
to the tournament and used as a ball marker," said Alexander. "69 is a good number
in golf."

In the first round of the tournament, Alexander carded a 69.

"I knew dad was looking down on me, especially after I hit one towards the woods.
It hit a tree and popped back into the fairway," Alexander recalled. "I said, 'Yep,
dad is definitely with me now."


Alexander led by one-stroke after day one of the tournament then came up clutch
late in the second round to win it.

On the par-5 16th hole, Alexander squared up a 4-iron from 197 yards away, knocking
his second shot to within six feet of the hole. He drilled the putt for a spectacular
eagle. Alexander then birdied 17 en route to a 67 and a two-shot victory over Craig
Thomas, who had the advantage of playing on his home course.

"This won was definitely for Jules, " Alexander said. "He taught me how to play
the game and a lot was going through my mind on the course. It's a four and a half-hour
round so I had plenty of time to think of him. The win meant a lot to me."

It was a picture-perfect win for Alexander and one that had to put a big smile on the
face of Jules from up above.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

SIDE-BY-SIDE FOR A SPECIAL HONOR


Shortly after informing me I was going to be honored by the New Canaan Old-Timers
association, historian Terry Dinan started waxing poetic on what a great event it
was going to be.

"We are going to have a big crowd, continental breakfast, a luncheon...." he said.
It all sounded great, but I was hoping to hear something else. "And Paul, it's going to
be an awesome time." No that wasn't it.

"That's great, Terry," I said. As I finished that sentence, I realized it wasn't going
to be all that great because I didn't hear what I was hoping for. As I was about to
say good-bye, Terry interjected with excitement in his voice. "And Paul, you're sister,
Kara, is going in with the you."


Strike up the band and pop the champagne! Those 11 words were the sweetest
ones I've heard in a long time. They brought a mile-wide grin to my face as a shot
of adrenaline rushed through my entire body. My sister, Kara, a 3-time All-American
swimmer at New Canaan High School would be joining me on Sunday, September
18 for a celebration I can promise you I will never forget.

To be able to share a day, the stage, and a wonderful honor with my sister is so
special, not to mention really cool. I knew we were going to be on this list of New
Canaan athletes, but to be on it as "Kara and Paul Devlin", is one of the highlights
of my life.



Let's face it. I'm on the back nine of life. Honors and awards at the age of 52 are
few and far between. Unless, I beat Mick Jagger's record for having a kid past the
age of 73, there probably won't be any more honors coming my way.

And that's ok, because this is just awesome.

I realize it's not like we are going into  Cooperstown together, but it's a great honor
and something both of us are extremely happy about it. Devlin & Devlin. That's
pretty damn cool

Kara is one of my heroes. In the pool, she was as fierce a competitor as I've ever
come across in sports. I used to joke with my friends that Kara was so tough, she
eats nails for breakfast. She was driven and had the heart the size of Texas. As a
16-year-old  sophomore, Kara posted a time in the 200-meter butterfly that earned
her a world  ranking of 16th. No, not in town, county, state, or even the country, but
the entire friggin' world. I was so proud of that.


I'm not sure Kara was, though. She was so humble and never talked about her
many impressive accomplishments. Being boastful wasn't part of her DNA.
Chuck Warner, her longtime swim coach, was quoted in a local paper saying,
"Kara is like a country club swimmer. She dives in the water. Beats the hell out of
everybody. And then just goes home."

In this country, swimmers really only get appreciated once every four years with
the Olympics. I appreciated, admired, and respected my sister every single day after
seeing how dedicated and committed she was. She'd rise at 4:45 every morning,
eat breakfast, and then get driven by our mother 30 minutes away to swim practice.

She'd pound out a 5,000 meter workout in the morning, eat a snack on the way to
school, then do it again after the final bell sounded. I'd pick her up after  evening
practice and seemed never seemed to be exhausted and never complained about
being tired. That was my kid sister.

After earning two consecutive Connecticut swimmer of the year honors, Kara was
recruited by nearly every major swimming program in the country. I was at the
University of North Carolina playing baseball when she came down on a recruiting
trip with the Tar Heels. Selfishly, I wanted my kid sister to join me in Chapel Hill.

That would've been an awesome experience. However, my parents and I wanted
it to be her decision. It was her life, her career. We wanted her to do what she
wanted to do and not be influenced by us.


Kara chose to go to the University of Florida, which at the time, was the top-ranked
program in the country. She wanted to be pushed hard by the coaches to see how just
how great she could be. Part of me was upset that we couldn't support and be there
for each other in Chapel Hill, but that's just life, I guess. I was happy she made
the choice on her own and was following her dream.

Kara earned All-America honors at Florida during her freshman year before
transferring to USC where she duplicated the feat. That was a great accomplishment.

I'm even more proud of my sister for the person she became after her swimming
career ended. Kara is a wonderful mother to four great children and a wonderful wife
to her husband, Chad. She is so loving, giving, and unselfish. Blessed with our late
father's sense of humor and our mother's heart of gold, Kara has always been a
magnet, drawing people to her in a very special way.


Even though we live about as far about as you possibly can in the United States (Kara
in Santa Barbara, CA., brother Paul in Norwalk, CT.) she has been a rock for me and
one my biggest supporters. She was always there for me during some times in life
and, of course. when I attempted to become an Ironman. Kara was always sending
me articles and videos for  motivation, while getting me on a diet and training plan
so I'd be at my the best for the grueling 140.6 mile race.

A day didn't go by where I didn't have an email from her on my computer. There
would always be some words of encouragement, a motivational speech, or a "get-
your-ass-pumped-for the race" music video.


That is Kara. So thoughtful, so inspirational, and really so wonderful.  I have been lucky
to experience a lot of great things in my athletic career. I had the chance to represent my
country on a baseball tour of Taiwan. I got to fulfill my dream of signing a professional
contract. And, oh yeah, there was that "Bull Durham" thing.

However, my greatest honor comes Sunday when my great sister, Kara , and I will
be honored together in New Canaan.  That is going to be special---really, really special.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

DEAR NFL PLAYERS: DON'T SIT ON 9/11



The NFL is a lot like the Kardashians. They just loooove attention. They are quite addicted
to it, actually. It doesn't matter if the subject they are dealing with is good or bad, just as long
as it makes them the center of attention, it's all fantastic.

Both franchises have used social media, talk shows, and 24-hour networks to push their
product and make obscene amounts of money. The NFL is a multi-billion industry that
is bullet proof to scandal and, in many ways, thrives off it.

I mean, the NFL is the brand that let a little air being let out of Tom Brady's balls
mushroom into a nearly two-year reality show. It was something they could've ended after
one episode, but instead, let it develop into a seemingly longer sit-com than "Seinfeld".

Hey, if it was good for ratings, the almighty dollar, and season-ticket renewals, then by
golly, let the "controversy" keep on rolling, they must've thought.

Now, the NFL has another controversy on its hands. Colin Kaepernick, a mediocre
quarterback on an even worse football team, ignited a storm two weeks ago by sitting
down during the national anthem. However, unlike Hurricane Hermine, it didn't fizzle
out and die quickly. In fact, it just got stronger and stronger.

The Kaepernick case is now a runaway train with nearly everyone in the country
weighing in on the subject. Athletes, politicians, CEO's, and co-workers at the
watercooler have all put their two cents in. Some have been thoughtful, others insightful,
while more than a few have been downright ignorant.

However, something tells me the suits that occupy the NFL offices on Park Avenue
in New York City, are grinning from ear to ear.

The controversy means more attention given to their game. More eyeballs, more ears,
more tweets, and ridiculous epic rants on Facebook.  You see, in that boring period
of meaningless preseason games played mostly by those you never heard of before
training camp opened and perhaps, will never hear from again, the NFL dominated
everything: social media, ESPN, the talks shows, headlines and front pages.

The frenzy is sure to equal higher-ratings and a louder cha-ching at the cash register.
Yep, as they say, bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. And the NFL is soaking
it all up. Everybody is talking about Kaepernick and the league couldn't be happier.

Come Sunday, it needs to stop.

Sunday is the first full weekend of the new season. It's the real "opening day" for the
league and a time to celebrate.

It's also 9/11. One of the most significant days in our nation's history.

We are 15 years removed from that terribly tragic day that saw more than 3,000
innocent people lose their lives. Among them were heroic firefighters and police
officers who rushed the towers in an effort to save lives. Instead, many of them
perished when the buildings collapsed atop of them.

To Colin Kaepernick and anyone else who thinks Sunday is about something else,
please do the right thing and stand when the national anthem is played wherever
you are. I realize the 49ers play on Monday night, but Kaepernick should just lay low
or even disappear when approached by a camera or microphone.

Oh, I understand it's everyone's constitutional right to do what they want to and
protest anything they wish, but 9/11 is not the time. That day is sacred. 

For two minutes and change, pay your respect to all those who lost their lives. You
don't have to love everything about the country. You may not feel everyone is treated
the same and you may be upset about how some police officers deal with minorities.
I understand that. There is a time to discuss all that.

9/11 is not that time.

I really don't have a problem with Kapernick and others expressing their views and
using their freedom to protest. Our constitution assures everyone of that. However,
I will have a problem if he or anyone else does takes a sit or a knee when the national
anthem is played on 9/11. It is the one day where people should really think about
others and not about their views or making a statement.

The NFL can't make anyone stand for the national anthem, but I sure hope they get
the attention of the players by Sunday and make sure they all get the message about
the right thing to do. That would be the statement they need to make.


Friday, September 2, 2016

PENN STATE WEAK


Penn State plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno's first game
coaching the Nittany Lions on September 17 when the school takes on Temple.

Seriously?

When I first read that sentence my skin crawled and I got a pit in my stomach.

After a child molestation scandal  was uncovered in 2011, costing Paterno his job
and putting Jerry Sandusky, his former longtime defensive coordinator behind bars
for the rest of his life, the administration thought it'd be great to celebrate their former
football coach five years later.

Wow. Talk about tone deaf.

There's long been a saying the smartest people in the room often make the
dumbest decisions. This move by the highly-educated folks in Happy Valley certainly
supports that statement.

How could they possibly think a "commemoration" of Paterno's first game at a school
he helped besmirch the reputation of forever, is a good idea? Do they think
selling JoePa T-shirts to mark the occasion is going to put their income into a higher
tax bracket?

Did they think the world forgot about all the sordid details of a scandal where Sandusky
sexually abused more than 26 children? Did they see all those lawsuits the families of
the children settled at a cost of almost $100 million as no big deal?

We will never know what exactly Paterno knew about the sick behavior of Sandusky
and when, but it's clear he knew a lot and for some reason still employed Sandusky as
his highly-accomplishment coordinator.

We will never know why he gave Sandusky cart blanche to the football offices, stadium,
and locker rooms after he retired. According to court records, Sandusky brought young
children into those facilities and showered with them.

In is last interview before dying, Paterno admitted  he "should've done  more." He
stated he told his superiors about an incident and then left it up to them deal with it.
Those superiors, the school president and athletic director would up being charged
with failing to report crime against children, among other things.

It turned out to be on very big cover-up by the administration and Paterno in order to
protect his legacy, the reputation of the school, and their jobs. They didn't care about the
welfare of the children back then, now the administration wants to honor Paterno now?

This is almost beyond belief.

Five years might be a long time for some people to put things back together, but it's
not enough to heal the wounds all those children suffered. Most of them will carry
them to their graves. And no matter how much money they received in the settlement,
it won't be enough to rinse away their insufferable pain.

Somebody at Penn State needs to explain why they feel  now is a good time to
'celebrate' Paterno. Oh, I know that 50 is a nice, big, and powerful number, but like all
his wins in Happy Valley, it has been rendered meaningless.

The rest of country doesn't care about the number of wins Paterno had or how long
ago it was that he first ran onto the field in Happy Valley. Nope, not when the residue
of the most despicable scandal in college sports history is still evident at the university.

Anniversaries and milestones mean nothing when the black cloud of child abuse sex
scandal still hovers above. It's just too bad the administration at the school can't see
it because everyone else does.




Wednesday, August 31, 2016

WHY KAEPERNICK'S PROTEST IS A GOOD THING


Someone on Facebook responded to a post I made concerning Colin Kaepernick and
his decision to sit during the national anthem before NFL games with San Francisco 49ers:

"When it's all said and done, Kaepernick's protest will accomplish nothing."

My response was simple: He already has.

The veteran quarterback ignited a firestorm that mushroomed into a towering inferno,
causing heated debates about the American flag, national anthem, patriotism, oppression,
freedom, racism, and law enforcement.

And you know what? That's damn good thing for a lot of different reasons.

Oh, sure, when news first broke of Kaepernick dissing the national anthem, America
did what it does best: it went bat shit-crazy, overreacting, and talking stupid. That
can happen when the knee-jerk reaction is strong enough to split the uprights with
a football from 95 yards away.

My goodness. Some people act like Kaepernick committed mass murder, jeopardized
national security, or bilked the country out of its lifetime savings.

Many people wondered how Kaepernick can cry about oppression when he lives
in a country that's afforded him the opportunity to make $19 million dollars a year
slinging a football around. I believe they got that part wrong because Kapernick
made it clear he is standing up for others who are being oppressed, not him.

Kapernicked was blistered for disrespecting every person who fought for this
country and protecting our freedom, which actually gives everybody the right to
protest and criticize those who do.

Stan VanDriver, a 12-year Navy veteran, told USA Today, "I and other veterans
fought so he could have his freedom of speech rights, so that all Americans can
have the right to free speech, the right to protest."

This from a person that actually fought for the country, the flag, for you and me.
Do you respect his opinion?

All of these issues needed be talked about and discussed. And everyone's
talking about them from legends and social activists Jim Brown and Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar to military veterans, law enforcement officials, and just about
every athlete in the sports world has weighed in on the subject, as well.

And that is truly a great thing.

Many people think Kaepernick snubbed his nose at the American flag, national
anthem, and patriotism when he chose to stay on the bench while everyone else
saluted them. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said the protest was actually very patriotic.
People have different views on it, which again, is their right.

The outrage touched off by Kaepernick has actually shed more light on what
many African-Americans have had to endure in their lives and that flag and song,
no matter how beautiful and sacred it is to most, represents something completely
different to others, including Jackie Robinson, who faced more obstacles than
any athlete in the history of sports.

In his autobiography, Robinson wrote:

"I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am
a black man in a white world."

Whoa! I had never heard that before. That's from the immortal Jackie Robinson and
a history lesson right there. So, if you hate Colin Kaepernick then you must also hate
Jackie Robinson, right? I don't think many are willing to crush the legacy of 42, that's
for sure.

If you despise Kaepernick, then shouldn't you also despise the late Muhammad Ali
for refusing to fight for the country after being drafted? Just about everybody admired
Ali for "taking a stand", albeit years after Ali became a true legend. So, why are we
vilifying Kaepernick for what he did?

I am quite certain that for all their love Americans have for the national anthem, flag,
and country, most do not know all the lyrics to the song or understand what the 13 stripes
on Old Glory represent.

After Kaeperick's protest, I am thinking most Americans will become more attentive
when the national anthem is being played and that flag is unfurled. They will make
damn sure they know all the words and become better educated on what every stripe,
star, and color of the flag represents. Going to the bathroom  while the Star
Spangled Banner plays at a sporting event will no longer be considered.

On Memorial Day weekend next year, perhaps, people will stick around for a
parade and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, even thanking a veteran
for their service, instead of bolting to the Hamptons for a barbeque.

And that would be a great thing.

Some people had a problem with the method by which Kaepernick tried to send
his message. But what was he supposed to do to get everybody's attention? Tweet
something out? Post it on Facebook? Give me a break. He went big and bold and
got the world talking.

Perhaps, with Kaepernick's protest and the debates that follow, we will get a better
idea of what comes with all the rights the founding fathers crafted and every
member of the military fought so hard to maintain. And what true freedom actually
means.

Freedom of speech is a powerful thing. So is the freedom to protest. I have the right
to put my thoughts down in a blog, you have the right to bash them. Whatever the
case, we have been given the right to do both.

Kaepernick may have cost himself friends, a fistful of dollars, and eventually, a
football career, but he may have done something positive that most of us may not
understand for quite a while.

He has forced us to think, debate, and perhaps, even sympathize. It may have
come at a great cost, but I believe this country really needed it.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

JULES ALEXANDER AND HIS GREATEST GIFT


Jules Alexander's career was defined by the iconic photographs he took of golf
legend, Ben Hogan. They helped him become a bit of a rock star in the golf industry
where he cultivated friendships with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and
even Hogan himself.

While his photographs of Hogan earned him a name in the sport, it was Alexander's
generosity with his wonderful gift that revealed a large part of his character. The
Bronx native, who died on August 19, was Santa Claus with a camera, showering
his friends with family photographs capturing moments that were both magical and
unforgettable.

Alexander never asked for a thing in a return, nor would he charge his friends for
photographs. And he and his family had many friends--more than you could possibly
know or even count. If you were lucky enough to have caught the keen and creative
eye of Alexander, then you probably received something that could only be categorized
as "priceless."

I was luckier than most.

I grew up as a childhood friend to Alexander's sons, Paul and Carl. We did everything
together, playing Little League, Pee Wee football, golf, and just about anything else
little kids did back then. Our families became best friends and Jules was always there
to capture moments the Devlin's will never forget.



I am so grateful to have known Jules.

Jules Alexander documented a big part of my life with his signature photographs,
always rich in black and white, capturing the raw emotion in a way that only Jules
could. I have posted many of those photographs on Facebook for all to see and I often
get comments like, "Wow, it must've been nice to have your parents pay for a
photographer to be at all your games."

My parents never paid anyone to take pictures of me playing a game. Ever. Jules
did it because he loved doing it and was so good at it, none of us ever knew he was at
the games taking photographs. Jules Alexander was just that good.

In the fall of 2002, I was home from Atlanta visiting my father, who started to have
some health issues. We were playing a round of golf with Jules like we did so many
times over the years. When we got to the 12th hole at Westchester County Club,
Jules took out his camera and said, "I have the perfect shot that I want to take."

There was another foursome finishing the previous hole and there wasn't exactly
enough time to do a full-fledged photo shoot. Jules didn't need it because he had
picture the shot in his mind long before we arrived at the tee box.


That was the greatness of Jules as a photographer.

When he presented the photograph to us several months later, we were speechless,
breathless, and forever grateful. It was amazing.

No one could possibly have captured the love between and a father and son like
Jules. The picture is worth far more than 1,000 words and one I will cherish forever.

When I attended the 90th birthday party of Jules in early June, I shared a moment
with him in his studio which was lined with some of the most beautiful photographs
man has ever laid eyes on.


I said to Jules, "That photograph you took of my Dad and I is the greatest gift that
I've ever received."  That wasn't hyperbole, but fact. No material thing or amount of
money is worth more to me than that photo of my father and I. It captured the total
essence of the relationship and friendship I had with my father, perfectly. 

Jules Alexander died less than two months later. I am so glad I got the chance to
tell him that how much that photograph meant to me. It is truly special.

That was the beauty and greatness of Jules Alexander. Nobody could do with a
camera what he did. Nobody. And he shared his wonderful gift with all his friends,
never charging a cent for photographs that were so special.







Friday, August 19, 2016

JULES ALEXANDER AND A LIFE WELL-LIVED


Jules Alexander passed away peacefully Friday morning August 19, 2016.

It marked the end of an truly incredible life that was rich with an amazing family, 
countless friends, and almost universal love and respect.


Simply put, Jules Alexander lived a life well-lived. One with few regrets, incredible
times, and a legacy fortified by the keen eye of a photographer who captured moments
that became indelible ones in the lives of so many, including my own.


Alexander had a personality as unique as his first name. He was thoughtful, measured,
loyal, honorable, and blessed with a gift for not only taking pictures, but telling stories
in a way that not only made people laugh, but left them feeling better about themselves.

The Bronx native photographed everyone from John F. Kennedy to Muhammad Ali.
In between there was Frank Sinatra,  Christie Brinkley, and a young Mike Tyson.
However, it was his spectacular pictures of golf legend Ben Hogan that helped
Alexander gain fame within both the photography and golf industries.


In 1959, Alexander, made the short journey to the Winged Foot Golf Club to
photograph  Hogan. Alexander was fascinated with just about everything the legendary
golfer did.

He studied his swing, how Hogan stood, the way he dressed, and even the way he
took a drag off his cigarette. Alexander would build a collection of Hogan photos
like the tradition of the Masters: unlike any other.


It was pure gold and nearly every golfer on the PGA Tour would flock to
Alexander's home which sat at the end of the driving range of the Westchester
Country Club. They wanted to see the perfect pictures of the golf legend who
possessed a near perfect swing.

He became friends with Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Player, Mickelson, and
just about every other big name in the game of golf. But Alexander's named carried
a lot of weight, as well. Say the name, "Jules" and everyone in the industry
knew who you were talking about.

Alexander's first name was Jules, but to nearly everyone at his home course
at the Westchester Country Club, he was the "Hawk", which was the nickname
of his hero, Ben Hogan. When he played, Alexander dressed a lot like Hogan,
right down to the white hat Hogan used to wear.

Jules played the game with style, a little flair, and the laser-like focus of Hogan.
He loved the game dearly, had fun with it, and was damn good, always
carrying a handicap in the single digits. And anybody who played a round with
Jules was always a little disappointed that it had to end after 18 holes.


Alexander also got paid to travel the world to shoot amazing holes on the
best golf courses ever built. They would be turned into spectacular calendars that
always seemed to show up in the hands of all of his friends.

His best friends in life were his wife, Danna, a former model, who could deftly
handle Jules and his big personality like no one else. She is brilliant, kind, and
magnificent. She was the perfect partner for Jules during their more than 50 years
of marriage.

Then there is Paul and Carl, the sons who made golf into careers as professionals,
presiding over two of the most prestigious country clubs in New York, located
within a Bubba Watson drive of where they grew up.

Jules, Paul, and Carl were as close as any father and sons could possibly be. The
kids worshipped Jules, who got to see, play with, and photograph them as they
grew into spectacular golfers known by just about everyone in the industry along
the Eastern seaboard.

I was best friends with Paul and Carl growing up. We spent countless days playing
baseball, golf, and just about everything else kids did to pass the time. Jules was
seemingly always there with camera in hand. From Little League, Pop Warner
football, to the golf course, Jules took incredible pictures and gave them to
the family, never asking for, or expecting anything in return.

In June, many of Jules' good friends gathered at his home to celebrate his 90th
birthday. There were great pictures, even better stories, and that laugh from Jules
that we all loved and could never forget.

Sadly, it turned out to be a good-bye for many people, the last time they would
see or talk to Jules. I have known Jules since I was 7-years-old. He was family
and a big part of my life as well as the rest of the Devlin clan.

Jules took his last breath Friday morning, putting the period on the story of an
incredible life well-lived.


I will miss Jules. Countless other people will, too. There was nobody like him. Nobody.

Rest in peace, Jules, everybody loved you.



WHAT RYAN LOCHTE WOULD DO?


It's hard to believe Ryan Lochte had his own reality series that was shown on one
of those mindless networks that pollute the airwaves. Yep, in 2013, there was an
eight-episode series featuring the Olympic swimmer who lived his life more like
Spicoli than Spitz.

The title of the series? "What would Ryan Lochte do?"

The cameras followed Lochte after his impressive performance in the 2012 London
Olympics and the TV world found out that while Lochte swam a lot like Mark Spitz,
he was about as smart as Spicoli, the surfer dude featured in the classic movie,
"Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Unbeknownst to Lochte, the cameras were on him during an early morning in
Rio during the Olympic games, capturing a moment that would change his life forever
while giving television producers, reporters, anchors, analysts, and world of critics
enough juicy content that should be labeled:

"What Ryan Locthe did."

Yeah, the frat boy made up a story that Manti Te'o would be proud of. But instead
of an imaginary girlfriend, Lochte made up a tale that included an imaginary gun being
thrust into his forehead, accompanied by a demand for all his money.

The world believed all of it, because that's what the world usually does. It believes
everything it hears and read, especially if it's on Twitter, Facebook, or any other of
the million ridiculous things that can be found on the Internet.

Turns out, Lochte's tales about he and three other American swimmers being robbed
at gunpoint, was one big lie. But hey, give Lochte a gold medal for a fertile imagination.
I mean, getting robbed at gunpoint by a group of Brazilians posing as law enforcement
officials complete with badges and uniform? That is awesome and probably made
Brian Williams scream to the heavens and say:

"Why didn't I think of that?"



Lochte concocted the story with a river of alcohol soaking up his pea for a brain.
That reality show he starred in three years ago must've sparked the creative side of
that pea brain and he asked himself:

"What would Ryan Lochte do?"


After trashing the bathroom at the gas station and being confronted by security,
Lochte's imagination started to run wild. Most people involved in that type of
situation, especially celebrities would try to keep the entire incident
a secret. I mean, who wants to tell anybody a 32-year-old man trashed a bathroom
at a gas station at six in the morning while bombed out of his mind?

What would Ryan Lochte do?"

Yeah, he texted his mommy and told her he and his buddies had been robbed
at gunpoint. Hey, that's a great story to tell that hot Brazilian you just met, but
not your mother! Way to go, Lochte. Your mom is only slightly less addicted
to attention than you.

What would Mrs. Lochte do?  Yeah, she contacted somebody in the media and
the story got Usain Bolt-like legs and took off faster than the speedy Jamaican.

Most athletes-celebrities would lay low and try to temper the concocted story
and its aftermath.

What would Ryan Lochte do?

Yeah, he strolled down to the Olympic village and just happened to run into
Billy Bush of NBC and whatever show he is a host of.  Lochte could've avoided
the attention, but he's addicted to it, so he gave Bush the "exclusive" on what
happened.

We were robbed at gunpoint, said Lochte. Some fierce looking guy put a gun
to my head and I was like, "whatever"

Whatever? Who says whatever while having a gun stuck into your forehead?
Oh, sure, Spicoli might've said, "Whatever. Just as long as you don't take my
weed or surfboard, you can take whatever you want."

Lochte made it seem like one of his BFF's told him he was canceling plans
to get his hair dyed silver just like him. "Whatever."

As the story about the early morning heist began to fall apart, most people would
disappear and stay quiet

What would Ryan Lochte do?

Well, he disappeared, leaving Brazil, but he couldn't resist talking about the
incident. Lochte spoke by phone to NBC's Matt Lauer and his original story
began to change. He told Lauer that the gun wasn't actually stuck in his forehead
but waved in his general direction. He also said the taxi he was in was not
pulled over by guys dressed up as cops.

When asked why the events of the story changed, Lochte blamed it on
"traumatic mischaracterizations." Traumatic mischaracterizations?! That's right
up there with Roger Clemens making up the word, "misremember."

Just over 24-hours after concocting this spectacular tale, it all blew up in
Ryan Locthe's face. He has been branded a liar forever and a big fraud. He
should be remembered as a world-class swimmer with a crate full of Olympic
gold,  silver, and bronze instead, he is now one big liar.

What should Ryan Locthe do now?






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

GABBY DOUGLAS AND A NATION OF HATERS


I've often said that while most adults graduate from elementary school, a great deal
of them act as if they're still sitting in the back row of their second-grade class.

I was never more confident of the validity of that statement than I was after observing
the way in which American gymnast Gabby Douglas was treated by millions who
slither their way around the social media cess pool in search of the almighty 'like'
and re-tweet.

The nation's nastiness started last Tuesday after the United States won the gold
medal in the team competition. During the medal ceremony, Douglas didn't have
her hand placed over her heart as the American flag was raised and the national
anthem played. Twitter went into obsessive overdrive, accusing Douglas of
disrespecting the country and our flag.

Seriously?

You want to berate and bully a 20-year-old girl with viscous Tweets and criticism
because she forgot to place her hand over her heart in the midst of one of the
biggest adrenaline rushes of her life?

People were reacting as if Douglas, a 3-time gold medal winner, disgraced our
country like Bowe Bergdahl, who is awaiting trial for disserting his fellow United
States soldiers during combat in Afghanistan several years ago.

They unleashed more vitriol on Douglas than they did on Edwin Snowden, who
leaked some of the country's most classified information while working for the NSA.

Sadly, most of the haters didn't actually see the medal ceremony to determine for
themselves if Douglas acted "inappropriately". As in most cases, they read about
it on-line or drew their conclusions thanks to a tweet or post by someone else.

Oh, and I forgot the time when they won a gold medal in the Olympics and acted
perfectly and by the book.

Man, I sure don't remember other athletes getting bombarded like Douglas has
when they didn't do the right thing. The words below are courtesy of an article
that appeared on the ABC News web site in February of 2012 explaining the
protocol for the national anthem during sporting events like the Super Bowl.

"As Kelly Clarkson sang the national anthem at a packed Lucas Oil Stadium in
Indianapolis Sunday night, the camera flashed from her face to fans and football
players - many of whom did not have their hands over their hearts. Though New
York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin held his hat there,  some of his players - including
Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Martin - appeared to have their arms at their sides."

Wow. Grown men forgot to put their hands over their hearts during the national
anthem? That's unpatriotic and they disrespected the country! Damn, they should
have been stoned to death, right?

Perhaps, the football players didn't feel the wrath Douglas did for her "omission"
because they weren't decorated with gold medals like Douglas has been three times
over. Or  maybe, just maybe, Douglas was a far easier target to shoot vicious tweets
at than those football players.

In the 2012 Olympic games in London, Douglas became the first African-American
female to win a gold medal in the all-around competition. Making history at just
16-years-old is a pretty big deal and Douglas capitalized on her accomplishment
with endorsement deals, public appearances, and for better and probably worse,
her own reality television series.

But nobody in this country or on Twitter would be envious of her success would
they? Nope. The great people of the United States would never be jealous of
someone blessed with so much and talent achieving more in their first 16-years
of life than most people ever do during their time on this planet. No, way!

What did I say again about adults acting liking they're still sitting in the back row
of their second grade class?

Elementary school was still in session on Twitter as people were attacking Douglas
about everything from her hair, facial expressions, and body language. They didn't
think acted "happy" enough when some of her other teammates were having success.

I often wonder what is really going through the minds of people who take the time
to go on Twitter and post viscous comments about someone they don't even know
as they hide behind an avatar or some clever and crafty twitter handle.

Does it  make them feel better about their lives which clearly contains a lot
of misery? Grown men and women taking shots at a 20-year-old kid?

How pathetic?

Gabby Douglas is a world-class athlete who has represented this country admirably.
With the world watching, Douglas never embarrassed herself, family, or team.
She didn't get caught using PED's or wind up on the police blotter. Yet, when
Douglas doesn't put her hand over her heart or act how the social media maggots
want her to, she becomes the worst people on the planet.

These are the same people who give Jose Reyes of the New York Mets a standing
ovation after he returns to the team after serving a long suspension for beating the hell
out of his wife.

These are the same critics who give Nelson Cruz, then of the Texas Rangers,
a standing ovation after he returns from a 50-game suspension for testing positive
for PED's.

Good grief.

Douglas worked hard, made tremendous sacrifices, and performed incredibly
well under pressure that would cause 99.9 percent of those on Twitter to fold
or crack. She made history in becoming the first African-American female to win
gold in the all-around competition. That can never be taken away from her no
matter what the fools say on Twitter.

But those fools brought Douglas to tears and pretty much ruined her Olympic
experience this year. Like most of us, except for the Twitter scum, Douglas is
human. She has feelings and emotions that can become raw and exposed.

I've heard some people say that Douglas should've ignored social media. That's
funny. Social media seems to have become as important to our lives as breathing.
We can't do without, so don't blame Douglas for doing the same and seeing how ugly
the world truly is.

The critics and so-called experts on Twitter are most likely those who never
got into the arena and competed. They never broke a sweat, endured ridiculous
pain or overcame any obstacles to capture true victory. They are the people
who show up 10 minutes late for church, leave five minutes early, and don't
take 15 seconds to thank a veteran for his service to the country.

Yes, the critics are incredibly perfect.

Anytime an athlete gets into the area to compete, they are signing up for the
possibility  of failing. They know there can be heartbreak and tremendous
disappointment. Years of hard work can be flushed down the drain
in a fraction of a second.

Gabby Douglas should be recognized for the incredible world class athlete
she is, not as some kind of unpatriotic villain who in a split second, simply
forgot to put her hand over her heart.

Douglas has the heart the size of California. She earned three golds medals
for the United States which is truly a great accomplishment.

I ask the critics: what have you done for your country?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WHY DO WE HATE TIM TEBOW SO MUCH?




Tim Tebow.

Those two words alone seem to ignite a cauldron of hate in a lot of people.
We spit out vitriol like a King Cobra spews venom on its prey when somebody
rolls Tim Tebow off the tongue. Many act as if he is about to rob us of something,
whether it be a coveted opportunity or a thousand likes on Facebook and Twitter.

My question is, why do we hate Tim Tebow so much? Wait. I'll correct myself.
Why do we hate a person we don't even know with such incredible passion?

Our society thinks they know someone because they heard a 15-second sound bite
with an athlete like Tebow on ESPN. They judge based on how he smiles, sounds,
and expresses himself in the smallest of sample sizes. The conclusion is, take your
pick: a fraud, self-righteous, entitled, perfect, too-good-to-be true, or just a nice guy.

It's all in the eyes and ears of the beholder, but for some reason, Tebow has caused
a lot of people to hate him for simply being Tim Tebow.

Oh, sure, I know Tebow has millions of supporters in his home state of Florida
and amongst the legions of Gator fans who worship him like no other athlete in the
history  of the school. A significant part of Colorado adores Tebow, who led the Broncos
to a playoff win before John Elway got into the shotgun formation and blew him out
of town in favor of Peyton Manning.

However, it seems like the rest of the sports-obsessed country just hates Tebow and
when word spread that the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was going to
try to make it as a professional baseball player, the hating on Tebow seemed to reach
an entirely new level.

Many people who didn't bother to get the facts straight, hated on Tebow even more
simply because they thought major league baseball was opening the doors to an
opportunity that just  about  everyone who has ever picked up a bat and ball, covets.
They thought Tebow was getting a contract and going straight to the big leagues
simply because he is Tim Tebow.

Reality is, Tebow invited every major league team to watch his personal talent show.
They can come if they like, stay at home if they wish. People act as if Tebow said,
"I'm Tim Tebow. I can walk on water and heal sick children, now please give me a
professional contract to sign."

And people began to hate Tebow even more.

Why do we waste so much time and energy hating on a guy we don't even know?

Why do we hate a guy for wanting to see if he can do something he dreams of doing?

Are we jealous?

Do we hate our lives that much that we are envious of someone else's?

Do we just wish god had blessed us with a body and the athleticism that Tebow has?

Do we hate him because we wish we had lived our lives like Tebow does, one that
doesn't include drinking, smoking, promiscuous sex, and bad-mouthing others?

Seriously, why all the hate towards Tim Tebow, a guy that 99.9 percent of us have
never met, much less even know?

Jose Reyes returns to the New York Mets after beating the hell out of his wife and
serving a long suspension and the fans give him a standing ovation. Seriously?

Nelson Cruz gets busted for PED's, missing 50-games which may have been a
reason the Texas Rangers ended up in one-game playoff game. The fans give him
a standing ovation upon his return and then he goes on to sign a mega-contract with
another team.

Wonderful.

I could go on and on and on about all the love fans show athletes who have broken
the law, embarrassed their teams, family, and friends, but I won't. If you've been a
sports fan over the last 20 years, you know what I'm talking about.

I just don't understand why all the hate comes out for a guy who doesn't drink, smoke,
get in trouble, or has ever embarrassed a team, teammate, or coach. Tebow has
always acted with class, dignity, and shown everyone respect. He's never said,
"I'm all this, I'm all that, and by the way, you can follow me on Twitter @I'mGod."

Oh, that's right, he wrote a religious note on his eye-black sticker. He got on one
knee and prayed before, during, and after a game that he was in and just played.
And he thanks his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on national television. And people
hated that.

By the way, don't turn the channel when a football game is over. Stay and watch the
cameras focus in on players from both teams at mid-field, holding hands, kneeling
down, while praying to someone. Do you hate on them like you do Tim Tebow?

You live the way you want to live, why don't you let others live the way they want
to live? Instead of wasting so much time and energy worrying about Tebow's life,
why don't you do something constructive like focus on a goal or going to the gym
and work hard to improve your body and fitness level. Try spending time at the food
kitchen or helping others who are less fortunate than you.

Oh wait a minute, then you'd be like Tim Tebow and we wouldn't want that, would we?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TIM TEBOW AND THE BEAUTY OF HIS BASEBALL PURSUIT




Tim Tebow will attempt to become a major league baseball player.

Go ahead and mock, criticize, and even laugh at his dream to make it in a sport where
so many, including Michael Jordan, have failed so miserably. Twitter was on fire with
jokes, condescension, and plenty of haters the second news broke that Tebow would
hold a workout for every major league team later this month.

Criticizing, doubting, and mocking others have long been the American Way and it's
already in overdrive with the latest news about Tebow, the squeaky-clean, God-lovin'
person most of society loves to hate. He doesn't smoke, drink, or been in any kind
of trouble, but somehow rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Perhaps, it's because
he openly prays, is so kind to others, and says all the right things.

By the way, there are so many athletes in professional sports who publicly thank
their Lord and savior, Jesus Christ or point to the Heavens after a touchdown or home
run but never feel the wrath bestowed on Tebow for expressing himself and his
beliefs. The athletes who won a silver medal in synchronized diving for the US
Monday night were thanking their savior profusely on national television but there
weren't very many tweets on the feed criticizing their actions.

Tebow, who failed miserably in the NFL, according to the so-called experts, hasn't
played baseball since his senior year of high school, where he made the all-state
team in the filthy talented-rich state of Florida. He's 29-years-old now, which is
about the same age Jordan was when his airness quit basketball to try to make it
with the  Chicago White Sox.

By the end of the day, most of us with be all Tebow-ed out from ESPN trying to
break down Tebow and his chances of making it to the major leagues. We will
probably be praying for NBC to air re-runs of synchronized diving earlier to break
up the overkill of Tebow's next adventure. People will be on social media incessantly
spewing all their hate towards Tebow and mock him for his latest mission.

I will not be one of them.

I applaud Tebow for what he's doing and hope people who are so blinded by their
disdain of him, can somehow see all that is good in Tebow's desire to become an
MLB player.

Tebow may not have fulfilled  his expectations in the NFL. Many will label him
a  colossal failure. He was mocked, vilified, and criticized harshly by fans, players,
and front-office personnel, but Tebow never lost his composure or lashed out at
anyone, anywhere, and at anytime through the media. He never quit, either. Never
listened to the haters and doubters. He kept working, believing, and striving to
be the best player he could be.

When he was told he wasn't good enough to make the team, he thanked the
organization and moved on, always with the same class and dignity.

Now, after failing in football, Tebow wants to play a sport where failure is a
significant part of the game.

Good for him.

In the face of all the haters, doubters, and critics, Tebow isn't afraid to fail again.
He's chasing a dream. And perhaps, doesn't want to look back 20 years from now
and say, "What if?"

What is wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing.

Tebow isn't going to be like Michael Jordan who just took 10 swings for the Chicago
White Sox and basically told them he'd be signing with them.  The former Heisman
Trophy winner doesn't have any ties to a major league team like Jordan did.
(Jerry Reinsdorf, who owns the Chicago Bull, also has a big chunk of the White Sox.)

Tebow is putting it all out there in a try-out for every major league team to see. He will
hit, run, and throw for scouts and let them determine if he is worthy of signing a
professional contract. He has enough belief in himself to attempt to make it in a game
that spits so many players out.

What is wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing.

First-round picks often come up short of their dream to make it to the major leagues,
so the odds are definitely stacked against someone who hasn't played baseball since
high school.

However, I applaud Tim Tebow and daring himself to dream a really big dream. Isn't
that what we tell our kids. Isn't that what we preach to the Little Leaguers we coach?
Don't we encourage them to believe in themselves and never let anyone dissuade or
destroy their dreams?

So, go ahead. Make fun of Tebow. Disparage him on Twitter. Go on a rant for
all your Facebook friends if it makes you feel better.

I will always applaud the person who actually gets in the arena and fights for what
he wants. I will never criticize the man who bleeds, breaks a sweat, and runs toward
achieving something instead of running away from it.

I am pulling for Tim Tebow. I hope he overcomes every obstacle to achieve his
dream.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

AUGUST 7, 2016. A DAY UNLIKE SO MANY OTHERS IN SPORTS


If you've worked in the sports media for a long time, there are times when the
stories you cover seem to blend into one another. Mind-boggling contracts, steroid cheats,
domestic abusers, player releases, coaches fired, etc. They can dull the senses, jade us,
rob a little of the joy we all thought was just about guaranteed in the profession.

Every once in a while, we get blessed with the spectacular whether it be a no-hitter,
a 50-point game, or another type of performance that leaves us in total awe, demanding
that we recognize and appreciate greatness.

Then you get a day like August 7, 2016. Long before NBC signed off on its Olympic
coverage for the evening, there were performances, milestones, and news that made us stop
and go, "wow."



It all came so fast and furiously that Twitter seemed to be on the verge of overload. News
broke around 9 a.m. that the Alex Rodriquez and the New York Yankees scheduled a
press conference for 11 a.m. Anybody with a clue knew this wasn't going to be an
announcement for an upcoming A-Rod bobblehead day at the stadium.  Either A-Rod
was retiring or getting released.

I didn't wait around for the news conference.  God didn't create a day like today to sit
around and watch ESPN. I went out for an 8-mile hike. I wasn't all that surprised when
I checked my cell phone around 12:15 p.m and read about A-Rod's plan for departing
the game. Not a shock, but still big news when a player of A-Rod's stature says good-bye
to the Yankees and the game, albeit this Friday.

Then things started to get real interesting as I scrolled down the Twitter feed. Jim Furyk
shot a blistering 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship. A god-dang 58!
The lowest round in PGA Tour history. The dude has an ugly head, an even uglier swing,
and is on the doorstep of playing on the Senior Tour and he shoots a 58!!  Unreal.


Something not quite as unreal as Furyk's 58 but still amazing, were the first three at-bats
of Manny  Machado. The All-Star third baseman of the Baltimore Orioles hit home runs
in his first  three at-bats against the Chicago White Sox and had seven RBI's. This
was all before his fourth at-bat in the fifth-inning, plenty of time to tie the record for home
runs in a  game with four. Machado gave it a good effort, but ended the game with those
three home runs.


A few hours later in Colorado, Ichiro made MLB history by roping a triple for his
3,000th hit. He is the 30th player in the history of the game to reach that milestone.
What's incredible is that Ichiro didn't start playing in the big leagues until he was
27-years-old,  spending the first seven years of his professional career playing in Japan.
It took the Miami Marlins 42-year-old outfielder just 16 seasons to reach the 3,000
hit mark, which has proven to be an automatic ticket to Cooperstown. 


There were a few interesting things of note  that caught our attention but got buried
under the avalanche of milestones and major news Sunday. Venus and Serena Williams,
the most dominant double tennis players in the world, lost in the first round of the Olympics
in Rio.

And the NFL's Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio was cancelled because of poor
field conditions. Yep, on a sun-splashed afternoon  and with a synthetic turf field, the
NFL made the decision to cancel the game.. Brilliant! Apparently, the field was like
concrete after a Tim McGraw concert was held there Friday night. I'm sure Roger
Goodell will try to pin the blame on the New England Patriots. LOL.



Only 30 players in the history of the game have 3,000 hits or more, so yes, today was a
very special day in sports even without the A-Rod drama. Throw in Furyk's incredible
58 and this is a day that made you go, "Wow."

*Note. This article was written before Kate Ledecky of the US set a world record and
Michael Phelps captured his 19th career gold medal as part of the 4 x 100 relay.

I'll say it again: wow! what a day in sports!