Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Craig Kimbrel? Who the heck is he?

The David Ortiz Farewell tour? Yeah, get back to me when the Duck Boats are ready?

David Price? He's on the Red Sox? Wicked awesome!

Nobody in Red Sox nation cares about those guys and their stories.  Nope, not when
Pablo Sandoval showed up in Fort Meyers with the biggest gut the sunshine state has
seen since John Daly was pounding golf balls and beers in the Honda Classic.

Sandoval makes $17 million a year to play baseball and, hopefully, use a Stairmaster at
least three times during the off-season. Yes, the Panda is lovable, but nearly everyone in
the region obsessed with baseball and the Sawx, let out a collective (insert a thick
Boston accent here) WTF???????!!!!!!!! after seeing him arrive for spring training.

The media coverage has been out of control. They've written articles including advice
for Sandoval from leading dieticians in the world. Yep, showing up out of a shape to
spring training is considered blasphemous to those who worship the Red Sox in
the cathedral of baseball (Fenway Park).

I could almost hear Dean Wermer's voice echoing from Fenway Park South in Florida,
admonishing Sandoval for being a waste of an athlete, reciting one of the most memorable
lines (there were plenty) from "Animal House."

"Panda! Being fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Several of the Red Sox power brokers addressed the media Tuesday about the state
of Sandoval with answers that were just so comical.  Management knows that, in this day
and age of the pampered athlete, saying anything that would offend or embarrass a
player could prove costly.

Here is a list the things they said about Sandoval and what they actually meant to

Team president Dave Dombrowski

What he said
"I'm not concerned."

What he actually meant
"Hell, yes, I'm concerned. He's slow, fat, can't move, and he's hitting like Bip Roberts.

What he said
"We were watching him very closely all winter."

What he actually meant
"We were watching him until he just disappeared like El Chapo. We couldn't find
him for nearly three months, but received multiple reports Pablo ran for the border and
almost made Taco Bell go out of business.

What he said
"We had people with him at least once a week."

What he actually meant
"We had people with him at least once a week. That's our fault. Next year, we're
paying Oprah to sit on him and tape his mouth shut."

What he said
"The goal was for Pablo to get in better overall condition."

What he actually meant
"The goal for Pablo was to lay off the Ring-Dings, Ho-ho's, and Suzy Q's.
That was a big fail."

What he said
"I feel like he did improve.”

What he actually meant
"Jesus. I'm starting to sound like Hilary Clinton.

Team chairman Tom Werner, who has never set foot in a gym or fitness center in his
life, also weighed in on Panda's weight. Asked if he was disappointed with Sandoval.

What he said
"Yes, I am."

What he actually meant
"Hell, yes, I am! When a professional ballplayer shows up in worse shape than Dr.
Charles Steinberg, that's a problem. A really big one!

What he said
"I would like to say as somebody who knows Pablo, he has a tremendous work ethic.”

What he actually meant
"I help pay his salary, but he doesn't have a clue who I am. He has no idea I created
the Cosby Show. But I've personally seen Panda destroy a buffet table and it's tremendous.
It would make for great TV."

Monday, February 22, 2016


In the land of the million selfies, very few stand out these days. We've grown
accustomed to seeing Facebook plastered with pictures of egomaniacs who can't start
their cars before taking a selfie.

Or they just have to take a selfie of the new hairstyle they just received at Super Cuts.

Here a selfie, there a selfie, it seems like this whole god dang world is one big selfie.


But every once in a while, a selfie comes along that gets your attention and makes
you laugh out loud. It's one that is spontaneous and captures an emotion that has a
feel good element to it.

It happened to me over the weekend when Chris Pinder, former minor-league baseball
player who has been easily overtaken in talent and success by his two rock-star playing
sons who are on the road to the big leagues.

Saturday, Pinder took a road less traveled when he decided to go for a run before his
son, Chase, was to take the field for the Clemson Tigers. Daddy, who lives in Virginia
in one of those places you've never heard of, or care to, put on his Nike's on and ear
buds in and tried to work up some sweat and shed some pounds along the way.

And of course, he had his cellphone at the ready just in case his other son, Chad,
called from Arizona where he's in his first spring training with the Oakland A's. Yep,
the kid's a bona-fide stud. MVP of the Texas League (AA) in 2015. I'll say this
about Chris, the man is smart. He picked a wife with some serious athletic talent.

Chris was a pitcher at Florida State and in the minor-leagues. In other words, he was
a non-athlete. You see, in baseball, pitchers aren't really considered true athletes. They
pitch once every five days and drink beers and eat chicken wings on the other four.
Seriously, do you think all the talent his boys have been blessed with came from him?

Anyway, Pinder went out for a run and took a god dang selfie. Yep, forget about one
of the 87 pot holes per square mile on those South Carolina roads he could have
caught a foot and tore up a knee in, Chris had to take a selfie.

And it turned out to be funny as hell. The selfie of the year in my book.

Pinder posted the selfie to mock my workout regime as a two-time Ironman.
And he was teasing me about my life as a college and minor-league baseball player
and my appearance in the movie, "Bull Durham." Yep, Pinder was throwing the
whole kitchen sink at me for the entire Facebook world to see. 

It's all good. We are friends. Kind of. Chris said we played against each other
in the Carolina League. But I don't remember him. He says we have a lot of
the same friends, but they don't remember him, either. But I've been a good
egg and gone along with it for the last five years. (That's when he requested
a friend 'thing' on Facebook.)

Back to his selfie. The look on his face is priceless. It's as if he's being chased
by a pit bull. Unfortunately, the pit bull is not pictured. At nearly 50 years old,
Pinder runs about a 12 minute mile, but in the picture, his face seems to be
rippling like he's in a 100-mile wind tunnel or running like Usain Bolt.

The expression in his eyes seems to say he really likes the Taylor Swift song
on his playlist but doesn't really want anyone to know that he's a huge groupie
of the pop icon.

I'm not sure what's going on with the hair. It looks like part-weave, part-shoe
polish. You know, like the kind Gaylord used on the cat he desperately wanted
to look like Mr. Jinks in "Meet the Fockers"? 

But it works for Chris. Seriously.

This selfie is a classic and a keeper. Thanks again, Chris. What team was it
again you played for in the Carolina League?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In 1950, author William Meade Prince tagged Chapel Hill as the "Southern part of
Heaven." With its magnificent tree-lined roads and spectacular university in the middle
of the small town, many people still think of it that way and it's hard to argue with the
description of it.

In 1983, I arrived on campus and began to live out my dream playing baseball for the Tar
Heels in Carolina blue. Born and raised in New York, I, like so many of my teammates
were 'Yankees' through and through. Many of us had an edge, thought we had all the answers,
and never had a problem with confidence. We had so many players on the roster from
above the Mason-Dixon line, you could say we put the 'North' in North Carolina baseball.

Making the transition to a different culture and way of life seemed pretty easy for us,
especially with all its sweet tea, barbeque, and mellifluous accents. Other than that, I didn't
really think there was a big difference between the two regions, except for maybe the weather
and beautiful girls.

However, that changed near the end of the Fall baseball season when we were having
a picnic after a practice. It was the moment I really knew I was in the South.

"Miss Nancy."

Mike Roberts, our baseball coach with a thick Southern accent hatched in Tennessee,
uttered those two words with affection towards his wife.

"Miss Nancy."  Nobody in any part of the country but the South, puts a "Miss" in
front of a woman's first name. I remembered hearing it over and over again in
 "Gone With The Wind",  the American Classic which was set in the deep South

There was "Miss Scarlett", "Miss Melanie", and "Miss Prissy" uttered over and over
throughout the movie, signifying the utmost respect and admiration for a woman.

When I heard our coach address his wife in that manner, I realized this indeed, was
the South and the "Miss" before the Nancy couldn't be more fitting, signifying so
much admiration and respect of a woman who was deserving of it.

With her style, grace, class, beauty, and kindness, Nancy Roberts seemed truly
perfect. She was always impeccably dressed, her black hair perfectly coiffed,
and extremely poised and well-mannered.

Nancy Roberts could've been cast in "Gone With The Wind" as the quintessential
Southern woman, and as the wife of a coach who spent more than 20 years at the
university, "Miss Nancy" became the First Lady of Carolina Baseball, a role she
played so well, but there was no acting, it all came so naturally.

Eva McCullough's, wife of beloved "Coach Mac", an assistant to Roberts, leaned
on Nancy during their days together being the spouses of coaches who spent long
hours at the stadium and away from their families.

"I remember what a great role model she was for me," Eva McCullough said. "I
was so immature and clueless as a parent and I learned so much from her."

During the high-intensity of baseball games at Boshamer Stadium, I remember
Nancy always being so dignified and so composed, which wasn't all that easy. Most
of the opposing fans came to Chapel Hill just to heckle her husband on the field,
showering him with foul language and insults. I imagine Nancy had to heating up
inside, but she never, ever lost her cool.

Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, Nancy played basketball in high
school before moving on to UNC, where she met Mike. She may have come to be
known as the wife of the baseball coach, but Nancy was much more than that to
players and the women that eventually became their wives.

Patty Hubbard, wife of former All-ACC third baseman, Jeff, found strength in Nancy
after losing a son several years ago.

"Nancy was a beautiful example of the hands and feet of Jesus," Hubbard said. "She
embodied Philippians 2:3, always serving others with quiet humility."

Nancy was a great mother who helped raise a daughter, Angie, and a son, Brian, who
was like her "mini-me." During  my freshman year, I vividly remember the scar on Brian's
chest after having open-heart surgery to patch a hole in his heart. He must've been five
or six at the time, and I remember thinking what a brave little kid he was to be able
to endure that frightening procedure.

Brian had his mother's coloring and quiet and respectful manner. The mother's pride
and joy grew into a major league player, enjoying a solid career with the Baltimore
Oriole and New York Yankees.

Several months ago, Nancy, like her son, had surgery on her heart. However, complications
ensued and an infection ravaged her body. Miss Nancy Roberts died February 10th at
the age of 66. She's gone far too soon but her memory will live on forever with all the players
who came through the UNC program during her time as baseball's First Lady.

Miss Nancy will be laid to rest this Saturday in Durham, North Carolina. She impacted
the lives of many, never asking for a thing in return, 'always serving others with
quiet humility.'

"I will miss her  as my role model and my dear friend," Patty Hubbard said.

Rest in peace, Miss Nancy, you will be missed.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Jennry Mejia of the New York Mets tested positive for a banned substance for a third
time, thus earning a lifetime suspension by Major League Baseball.

Here are the Top 10 excuses Mejia will probably use for his stupidity.

10. David Ortiz gave me a piece of his meat and it was tainted.

 9. I got over-the-counter supplements and they must've been laced with a PED.

 8. The Valentine Day's chocolates I ripped open early from my girlfriend had to
     be spiked with Boldenone  

7. That weird looking dude from BALCO said they were gummy bears.

6. The B-12 shot Miguel Tejada gave Rafael Palmeiro must've gotten into my system.

 5. The gel my stylist gave me must've seeped into my skull and caused the positive
     test. I'm appealing.

 4.  Mike Piazza gave it to me. He said it worked for him so it should work for me.

 3.  Peyton Manning's wife shipped it to me. Blame her.

 2.  I rode Lance Armstrong's bike. It must've gotten into my system through his seat.

 1.  I was framed!  MLB hated my hair and wanted me out of the game!


Jennry Mejia of the New York Mets made major league history and didn't even have to
throw a pitch to get a piece of baseball immortality.

The right-handed pitcher was the first player in the history of the game to be permanently
banned from ever playing in the big leagues again. Friday, Mejia tested positive for a banned
PED for a third time, knocking him out of the game.


My goodness, he's either the dumbest guy in the history of the game or his supplier
just flat out fooled him.

I mean, Alex Rodriquez has taken just about every PED known to man and he
never tested positive for them when it counted. A-Rod got banned because he left a
paper trail in the biogenesis case.

Mejia was caught using the steroid, Boldenone,  while still serving a 162-game suspension
he earned last July 29 for failing a second test. That came just a few weeks after finishing
an 80-game recess from a first failed test.


With two strikes against him, Mejia HAD to know he was a marked man, right?

If you know everybody in the game is watching you, wouldn't you watch every single
thing you were putting in your body? Hey, Doc, does this Flinstone chewable have
a banned substance in it? No? All righty then, give me a glass of juice to wash it down.

I know there is a lot of money to be made in the game, but why take the chance of
ruining your reputation forever? Did you really have to throw 98-miles-an-hour instead
of 94?

This is insane!

Even Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro, two stone-cold lock Hall of Famers who
got busted for PED's are probably shaking their heads and laughing their asses off.

Not even they would be that stupid.

I would've just like to have seen the face of Mejia when informed by MLB that his
career was over. "No, way! It wasn't me. Miguel Tejada gave me a B-12 shot and
it must've had a PED in it! It's not my fault, blame him, " is likely to have been his

Oh, I'm sure he'll put out a release Friday saying that he took something over-the-counter
and it just must've had a banned PED in it!

Wow. Spring training hasn't even started yet and Major League Baseball gets this? Man,
it could have all the makings for a memorable season.

Jennry Mejia. The man with the million dollar arm and 10-cent head.

You're outta here!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


He sulked, was short with his answers, and stormed off the podium well before the entire
world thought it was time to. Now, that entire world, along with the social-media wasteland, which has really become one and the same, has painted Cam Newton a "sore loser" because
they didn't think the Carolina Panthers quarterback acted appropriately after playing poorly
in the Super Bowl.

And that's OK.

We are all entitled to our own opinions just as Newton is entitled to be his own man,
make his own decisions, good or bad, and walk away when he felt it was time to.
Nobody anywhere at anytime is obligated to talk. The NFL only mandates a player
show up to a press conference. It's up to the player on what he chooses to say.

Sorry, Newton doesn't owe the media, the NFL, or anybody else anything, despite the
position he plays or the amount of money he makes.

If America wants to be Picasso and create a masterpiece of Newton as a "sore loser", then
it might as well break out the broad brush to include many others who don't act all nice
when things don't go their way.

Tiger Woods. Sore loser. Sydney Crosby. Sore loser. Bill Belichick. He is the gold
standard. Peyton Manning. Sore loser. Serena Williams? Who can forget her breaking
rackets and trying to jam a tennis ball down the throat of linesman the size of Victor
Rosario a few years ago?

 John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Jim Mora, Dennis Green. Sore loser, Sore loser, Sore loser,
sore loser.  Cam Newtown pouted after losing a Super Bowl. What shall we call the
incomparable Walter Payton after he brooded on the sidelines and shied away from the
media because he didn't score a touchdown in the Super Bowl his team actually won?

Oh, that's right, it didn't really happen because Twitter wasn't around back then.

It's funny how we think, know, and all but demand how a player should act all the time.
We think they should all possess the cool of Joe Montana, the class of Derek Jeter,
the savvy of Russell Wilson, and the style of Roger Federer, don't we?


If every athlete acted that way it would be incredibly boring, wouldn't it? Social-media
would be tepid and ESPN wouldn't be able to put those slick montages together of
players going postal and coaches going ballistic! I mean, who didn't get a kick out
of Dennis Green (sore loser) after "the Bears who were who we thought they were and
we let them off the hook! (Slam of the fist for emphasis).

Cam Newton admitted he's not perfect and on record as a sore loser. “Who likes to lose?
You show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser, " said Newton Tuesday in Charlotte.

God has produced only one perfect quarterback and that's Tim Tebow. He always did
and said the right thing, trouble is, his talent and tools weren't good enough to play
in the NFL, much less be an MVP like Newton. Hard to believe Tebow beat out Newton
for the starting job at Florida, isn't it?

Newton was gifted by God with everything but maturity, and it's not a guarantee that'll
ever come. It didn't for Terrell Owens and Ochocinco (sore losers) and Newton may never
grow up either.

However, Newton is his own man. Smiling, sulking, putting footballs in the hands
of kids, pouting in front of adults with microphones, celebrating with selfies, being
surly with a hoodie. Dabbing and distraught. He's emotional. That's who he is.
There is nothing wrong with that.

Appreciate, don't annihilate it.

Just like Tiger, Serena, Peyton, LeBron, Belichick---sore losers all, Newton is wildly
successful. He is immensely talented, driven, and a winner. Nobody gets the awards
and accolades like the aforementioned people, if they are not. Getting to the top isn't
always pretty and they can't always act the way you want them to act.

How Newton or any other athlete or coach acts shouldn't affect you one bit.

If it does, then it's you who is a loser.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


February 10, 2013.

That was the last time I voluntarily drank poison.

For those keeping score at home, that's 1,095 days without alcohol. No sips, shots, or
supercharged funnels at a tailgate before an NFL game. No Jack with Ginger or Tom
with his good friend Collins for three entire years.

My liver loves me and the scale no longer spits out  big crooked numbers that have
me screaming to the heavens, "What the f#*k?!!!"

It's all good. Real good.

When I tell people I don't drink, the usual response is, "Do you have a problem?" And
before I can respond with the smallest negative word in the digital dictionary, I get
ambushed with the, "Are you in AA?" thing.

After ordering a cranberry and seltzer, the bartender gives me the look, the nod, and
asks, "Are you a friend of Bob?"

No, no, and no with an exclamation point.

I realize that's our society. Thinking and almost hoping for the juiciest piece of gossip that
becomes fuel to keep pace in this social-media driven world.

Three years ago today, I gave up alcohol along with bread, butter, baked goods, ice cream,
candy, and pizza. Pretty much anything that was poison to the human body, I gave up.

The original plan was to give it up for the Lenten season, which starts with Ash Wednesday.
I was so anxious to clean up and clean out my system, I began my mission the Sunday before

Getting through the six weeks of Lent was a breeze, so I went without some of life's guilty
pleasures for the next 10 months. That's right. No cookies, candy, bread, pizza, ice cream
---and most importantly, alcohol, for almost a year.

I started working out like a maniac, completing seven half-marathons in preparation for
the grand daddy of them all, the New York City Marathon. Man, I felt great. Those early-
morning alarm clocks were like music to my ears. Yep, jump out of a bed for a 10-mile

It's all good.

I wanted to continue my journey without alcohol so I signed up for an Ironman. Yep,
I more or less used training for a 140.6 mile event as an excuse not to drink. "Hey, Paul,
you want a Jack & Coke?"

"No, thank you. I'm training for an Ironman. That's a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike
ride, and a 26.2.  Nope, can't do it." Whatever it takes.

Not one, but two Ironman events later, I still haven't had an ounce of alcohol. And I
don't think I ever will again.

Oh, I've had a few tough things go against me and it would've been easy to give in and
tie one on, so to speak. Could've medicated myself to take the pain away for a night and
just forget about everything for a while.

That's the easy thing to do. With Jim (Beam) and Jack (Daniels) staring me in the face,
ready to soothe my soul and bandage whatever ailed me, I just said, "Whatever,
it's not worth breaking the streak."

(Huge here: definitely when I was drinking)

Sure, Peyton Manning can ask me over to drink a lot of Budweiser and hum the
Nationwide jingle, but I'm not going to give in. A Papa John's pizza, yes, because I'm
indulging in that again, as well as bread every once in a while. An ice cold
Budweiser? Um, no.

The streak has become kind of sacred to me. I don't count the days, but I always
remember February 10th as the anniversary. 2-10 is a good number and is just about
what I tip the scales at now which is what I weighed as a senior in college when
I was drinking them big 'ole blue cups of beer at "He's Not Here" in Chapel Hill.

I have friends who've tripled my abstinence streak for alcohol and I sincerely
applaud them. I discovered what they have: alcohol is an unnecessary evil.

People can judge me all they want for not drinking. They can think whatever they want,
as well. I do not care one iota.

I never had a problem. Ever. I didn't start drinking until I got to college and regret that
I ever did. It is the single biggest waste of time, money, and poison to your body and

I do often wonder if nobody ever drank. I wonder how much money this country
would've saved in lawyers, court costs, and civil suits. I wonder how much property
damage and bodily harm could've been avoided.

I wonder how many marriages and families could've been saved if over-consumption
of alcohol didn't result in infidelity, unwanted pregnancies, and the like.

I wonder about the pain that goes with the death of a loved one because of a DUI. I wonder
about the nightmare parents experience when getting a call from a university president
telling them their 19-year-old daughter died at  a sorority party because she consumed
so much alcohol her heart stopped.

And I wonder about the embarrassment a parent feels when they learn their son away at
school got so intoxicated, he lost his mind and killed a girlfriend.

Yep, it happens nearly every day in this country. Don't believe me? Google is just
a few clicks away.

I have friends with kids just entering the work force and enjoying the spoils of a
big city. I've heard them complain about $10 beers and the tab a night of drinking
adds up to and the hangovers they endure.

I don't preach, but I try to tell them the quicker they learn that alcohol serves absolutely
no purpose, the better off they'll be, physically, mentally, and financially.

I do not judge and I don't like to make it seem like I'm standing at the pulpit. But
drinking is not a sport. You don't get medals or win anything for doing it. Nobody's
obituary has ever read, "Yeah, but that boy sure could drink."

Drinking is a badge of nothing. Not courage, not manhood, not toughness.

One way or another, it catches up to you. The only way you can outrun it, is to quit.

And trust me, it's not a hard thing to do, even at my age.

Monday, February 8, 2016


America couldn't wait to pounce on Cam Newtown, could it? Every sports jock and
talking head across the country was just waiting for the Carolina Panthers quarterback
to screw up so they could unleash their jealous, ignorant fury on the magnificently gifted

They all got their wish when the MVP had his worst performance on the NFL's biggest
stage. He played poorly in the Super Bowl and acted even worse during and after it. Newton
didn't like some of the questions he was asked after the game and showed everyone he
didn't have time for them as he walked away from his post-game press conference quicker
than Marshawn Lynch ever said, "I'm only here so I won't get fined, boss."

Suddenly, Johnny Manziel was off-the-hook as the quarterback America loves to hate.
Newton became everything Manziel has been called over the last two years: punk,
immature, baby, spoiled, entitled, fill-in the blank. Luckily, Newton has an MVP trophy
to hang his hat on or you'd think those jaw-dropping athletic gifts he's been blessed with
are just a figment of Mel Kiper, Jr.'s imagination.

Social Media was on fire with words like "classless", "sore loser", "poor sportsmanship",
which have been tagged to the likes of Bill Belichick, who hardly even seems to enjoy
winning and acts even worse when he doesn't.

We've seen Tiger Woods pout at the end of major tournaments and bust out of press
conferences early. He slams clubs, drops f-bombs, and yells at people who blink during
his back swing. Belichick is about as short, rude, and arrogant as a human can possibly
be in his post-game press conferences. Should we bring up good 'ole Bobby Knight
from his coaching days when talking about good sportsmanship and class?

The experts say that it's time for Cam Newton to grow up. If he's going to celebrate
excessively in victory, then he must be gracious in defeat, they say. Of course, it's
always easy to tell someone else how to act and if you do it with great emotion, then
chances are, you'll probably end up "trending" on Twitter and that's exactly the goal
of nearly every talking head on the planet.

And if you want to get up on your pulpit and scream that Newton has an obligation
to be a role model, you're in fantasy land. Professional athletes have nicks, dents,
and other imperfections just like the rest of us, in many cases, even more so.

Newton is 26-years-old so it's tough to say, "well, he's just a kid and he'll grow up."
Everyone is different. Some mature earlier than others, some figure it out sooner, and
others finally "get it", when they get it.

Judge Cam Newton and his attitude, immaturity, and behavior all you want, it doesn't
mean a thing. He is the guy who gets in the ring and competes. You don't. He's the guy
playing in front of 100 million people with heat-seeking missiles disguised as linebackers
who are trying to rip his head off. You surely aren't.

He's the guy with an MVP, Heisman Trophy, national championship, and countless
millions of dollars in the bank. Cam Newton is far from perfect, but he's living life
the way he wants to live it, not the way others want him to live it.  He's his own man
and there's nothing wrong with that. He knows he can't please everyone, so he's not
even going to try. It'd be a colossal waste of time and energy.

Cam Newton made some mistakes on a big, big stage. So, what? The sun will rise
tomorrow and he will recover. Life goes on. Go ahead and continue to waste your time
hating on the man, he doesn't care. You'll continue to watch his games and think he's
immature, a bad sport, or classless, but does it really matter what you think about him
when it's all said and done?