Friday, April 22, 2016



Wright Thompson deserves a lot of credit. The talented writer from managed to
do what few people have been able to do. He changed the narrative, albeit ever so slightly, on
the downfall of Tiger Woods.

Thompson authored a compelling, scintillating, and fascinating article called "The Secret
History of Tiger Woods." At times, I felt like I was reading a Tom Clancy thriller rather than
something that popped up on I was invested, focused, and hoping the story would
never end. It was that good.

It was also easy for a great majority of our country to buy into and believe as fact. Thompson
laid out Tiger's obsession with becoming a Navy SEAL, the most bad ass of military men on
the planet.  The author, even though he never spoke with Tiger, spun a tale with the imagination
of Stephen King and the precision of Lauren Hillenbrand, whose meticulous research of
war-hero Louis Zamperini, helped her book, "Unbroken" become a best-seller.

Thompson made us feel like we were right next to Tiger as he performed a few exercises
at a SEAL training base in San Diego. There was Tiger running through a KILL house
practicing hostage rescue missions, his heart-racing, eyes wide-open as he got pounded with

Yep, the writing was so good, America bought into Tiger's dream of being a SEAL and how,
in a way, it was part of his downfall from the greatest golfer in the world to something of
a great Greek tragedy. NBC's "Today" show was quick to follow-up on Thompson's article
with  a morning feature and a passionate discussion about Tiger's downfall. The Internet
was abuzz with rapid reaction punctuated with words like, "wow", "amazing", and

Too bad the story is more fairy tale than fact. Tiger's downfall was a result of being
exposed as a serial-cheater and sleaze ball. Mentally, he just couldn't handle that. The
injuries followed. Thompson wasn't brave enough to explore Tiger's alleged PED use,
which went from the whispers to shouts to those in the world of golf, and may have
contribute to his numerous injuries.

Most of all, the entire "Tiger wanted to be a Navy SEAL" story by Thompson was an
insult to SEAL's everywhere, those living and those killed fighting for a country.

A lot of great football players want to be in the NFL, too. They practice, play, train, go
through rigorous combines and fewer than 10 percent ever make it to the big-time. Same
goes for baseball, hockey, basketball, and every other professional sport on the planet.

Same goes for being a Navy SEAL. Thompson's article stated that Olympians and Division
I athletes have tried becoming Navy SEAL's, but most don't make it because they can't
handle the pain and just aren't mentally tough enough. Less than 10 percent of those who
try to become SEAL's fail at it.

Yet, people are buying that Tiger could've been a SEAL. That's laughable. In Thompson's
article, he describes Tiger talking to a Navy class and how he wanted to be a SEAL and
SEAL instructors rolling their eyes in disbelief.

There were a few SEAL's who talked about Tiger's eagerness to become one of them,
but Thompson pointed that most didn't want anything to do with Tiger's fantasy of
becoming a SEAL. They didn't want to be interviewed for the article, but told the
author they didn't think much of Tiger as a man. 

Tiger got to play some games with the SEAL's, but he didn't try to do the brutal
exercises that SEAL's have to do to earn their trident. Tiger didn't sit in hypothermic
water for hours, swim several miles, or try to survive out in the desert without food
and water.

Do you really think Tiger, a person pampered and enabled all his life, could handle
the pain that comes with attempting to become a Navy SEAL? I highly doubt it.

Tiger is legendary for being cheap, tipping very little or even at all. Thompson relayed
the story of Tiger having lunch with a few SEAL's he just went through training
exercises with. When the check came, Tiger, who is worth close to a billion dollars,
went silent and didn't pick up the check. The SEAL's were so stunned, they asked the
waitress for separate checks.

That's another reason Tiger could never be a SEAL. SEAL's protect, fight, and even
die for their brothers. They die instead of their brothers. Tiger can't even pick up a
check for men he allegedly wants to be so much alike. What do you think he'd do in
combat when one of them is wounded with the enemy coming after them?

Yeah, he'd probably think about himself and run away and hide.

There have been stories about fellow PGA players asking Tiger to sign golf balls,
hats, pin flags, and other items so they can auction them off at charity events,
raising money for those less fortunate. Tiger most often declines.

So, if Tiger won't help out his fellow golfers, do you really think that in a dangerous
situation where lives are on the line, Tiger is going to think about anyone but himself?

Tiger has always thought about just himself. He didn't think about his wife or children
when he was out sleeping with every porn star, pin-up, and waitress in the country.

Tiger hasn't thought a lot about his father, either. Thompson points out that Tiger hasn't
visited his father's grave and doesn't even have a headstone for it. How would you
feel if your father didn't have a headstone for his grave?

If I were Tiger, I'd be more embarrassed about not having a headstone for my father
than being exposed as a philanderer, something his father was, too.

The author, Thompson, did his job. He managed to get a lot of people talking
and views for Most people finished the article feeling like Tiger's obsession
with being a SEAL was part of the reason for his downfall.


Nothing will change the fact of what Tiger was or really is: a self-absorbed, self-centered,
liar, and cheater who ruined his career, reputation, and legacy with decisions that
were despicable.

And to try to make Tiger's obsession with becoming a SEAL into the reality he could
actually be one, is an insult to them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I grew up with ABC's Wide World of Sports. No matter where I was in the house, I always
rushed to the television set on Sunday to hear Jim McKay utter the words he made famous:

                                       "The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat"

As soon as McKay said "agony of defeat..." a ski jumper had the mother of all wipeouts,
losing his balance close to the end of the ramp, knocked unconscious, and seemingly headed
for the valley of death.

That image and those words became etched in my memory when I was a 6th-grader, the point
in my life where I knew exactly what I wanted to be: a sportscaster just like Jim McKay.

I'd eventually fulfill my dream of working in sports television, but as I moved through the
ranks and wound up in great cities like Boston and Atlanta, "the thrill of victory and the
agony of defeat"  became less and less important to me. I quit rooting for teams when I
was 16-years-old and my favorite teams were only the ones I was playing for.

As I became more of a grizzled veteran as a sports anchor, the scores became just something
I had to givefor those fans anxiously awaiting for them. (Yes, this was long before the
Internet provided everything instantaneously.)

The human drama became my fascination. I was near-obsessed with telling how athletes
overcame obstacles and adversity to find success in high school, college, and professional
sports. I loved bringing the emotion of it all to viewers, giving the blood, sweat, and tear
count of the athletes, and the sacrifices they made to achieve their dreams.

When I was perusing all the pictures of Monday's Boston Marathon, there was one that
jumped off the page and encompassed everything I love about covering sports and the
human spirit.

Jeff Bauman, who had his legs blown off in the marathon bombings in 2013, was captured
by a photographer embracing his wife, Erin, who had just crossed the finish line.

What a powerful photograph. What a tsunami of emotions.

Erin was running in the 2013 Boston Marathon but didn't get to finish because two homemade
bombs rocked Boyleston Street, just before the finish of the 26.2 mile race. People died,
lives were forever shattered, and Erin's boyfriend at the time, lost his legs--and nearly his

The photo of Carloa Arredondo, who became known as the man in the cowboy hat,
rushing Bauman to the hospital while holding an artery in Bauman's leg so he wouldn't
bleed out, became the iconic photo of that terrible event.

Like the skier wiping out on the Wide World of Sports, it's one that I will never forget.
It's become part of the fabric of the Boston Marathon and helps define the city as tough,
courageous, and caring.

The photo of Bauman and his wife is another one that has been seared into my memory.
There is Jeff, with two titanium legs, sharing a moment with his wife who finished the
marathon in just under six hours without even training for it.

The picture illustrates love, strength, resolve, and most of all solidarity. It shouts out
loud that no matter what happens to us in life, we can never be broken. Everybody else
may move on and forget about us until next year, but we will always have each other,
no matter what.

It says we are Boston Strong. Terrorists can try to attack and disrupt us, but they will
never get the best of us. This is our city. They can take away my legs, but I am stronger
than their strength.  

Most importantly, the picture says, don't feel sorry for us. We are OK. Our lives have been
changed forever, but we are changing it for the better.    


Monday, April 11, 2016



"Jordan Spieth will take that to his grave."

"This will haunt him forever."

"He will have a hard time overcoming it."

"That was the greatest collapse in golf history."

By now, you've probably read all the Monday morning quarterback columns and quotes
about Jordan Spieth's "epic" collapse in the final round of the Masters. Spieth was made out
to be Bill Buckner, Greg  Norman, Jackie Smith, and Jean Van de Velde all rolled into one.

A choker.

Spieth choked, gagged, and fell apart before our very eyes, blowing the greatest tournament
in the world of golf.

Many of the so-called experts from golf analysts, media experts, and experts about everything
on Twitter are wondering if Spieth can recover from this made-on-TV disaster.


Spieth is all of 22-years-old. He is not wired like me, you, or just about anyone else in this
world on the course. He is a spectacular golfing genius with multiple major championships
on his resume and millions upon millions of dollars in his bank account. He is already set
for life and if you think his life and golf career is going to come unraveled by his unbelievable meltdown during the Masters, you have absolutely no clue.


Yes, he blew a 5-shot lead.

Yes, he choked on the par-3 12th hole.

Ye,  he looked like a weekend hacker.

This just in: it can happen.

Jordan Spieth is human, just like you and me. He has his bad moments, days, and weeks.
Pressure gets to him just like it got to Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Scott Hoch and just
about every golfer who has ever played the game.

Mickelson had a major meltdown in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, spraying the
ball all over the place on the 18th hole and gift-wrapping a championship that was his, to
Geoff Ogilvy.

Guess what? Mickelson recovered and won two more major championships.

Spieth is mentally tough, resilient, and a bottomless pit of talent. He's not going to need
sessions with a therapist and he's not going to drop out of sight for a while. After his quadruple
bogey on 12, Spieth bounced back with a birdie on the next hole. He didn't give up, didn't
pout, fall apart, or lose his focus, even if his normal brilliant game was M.I.A.

It was a brutally tough moment for Spieth to go through in front of the entire world on
live television. But it's a moment he will learn from. He will grow from it and become
even better than he already is.

Did you really think Spieth was going to roll through the next 18 years of his career without
facing some kind of adversity? No great athlete does. None. Name one.

It's part of life. It's part of sports. Most of the so-called "experts" haven't played sports at
a high-level. They don't know about the pressure, the nerves, or the demons that can
enter your head at the worst times. Yeah, it happens. And no athlete is immune from them.
It happens.

It happened to Spieth. But he will come back stronger than ever. Count on it.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Like  fashion trends, the O.J. Simpson murder case is back in style and the American
public and media seems to be just as obsessed with it as it was in 1994 when police
discovered the butchered bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman outside
of her condominium.

There seemed to be one and only one suspect: O.J. Simpson, football hero and American

Simpson was arrested for the murders, but in the trial of the century in 1995, which
turned into the biggest three-ring circus this country has ever seen, Simpson was found
"not guilty" and set free. Then, the floodgates opened.

There were books written, reality and crime scene shows created, and Robert Shapiro
ended up making those stupid commercials. Johnny Cochrane died, Judge
Ito disappeared, and the Juice got thrown in jail where he has grown old, gained weight,
and learning all about karma and payback.

But the case never got completely shut and now it's growing a life of its own---again.

Several weeks ago, a large knife found on the grounds of the Simpson home while it
was being torn down, was tested by forensics experts to see if had any DNA residue from
the murders. The media fell for it hook, line and sinker and hyped the headlines and
newscasts with the "Big Story" about the knife and O.J.

This "discovery" coincidentally happened just about the same time the series, "American
Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson" aired on FX. Hmm, I wonder how that
turned out.

America has seemingly become addicted to anything O.J. again like it has Facebook,
Twitter, and selfies. Millions of people watched the O.J. trial series on FX and television
executives, seeing the thirst for it, are trying to squeeze every cent out of O.J murder case
they possible can.

ESPN will have a 7.5 hour documentary called, "O.J: Made in America" that will air
in June as part of its critically-acclaimed 30-for-30 series.

Martin Sheen will be the executive producer of a series that will contends it will prove
that O.J. Simpson is innocent. That's a good angle. After all, I don't think many people
would be interested in a program that would prove that O.J. was guilty. Too easy. 

Perhaps, Martin can get Charlie Sheen to play the role of Kato Kaelin.

This is going to be like 1995 all over again.  Minutes after 'The People vs.  O.J. Simpson',
Kim Goldman, the sister of Ronald who was killed that June night of 1994, took to Twitter
to share her thoughts:


That's the address of the prison in Nevada which currently houses Simpson, who is now
68-years-old and looking every day of it. Goldman encouraged people to send hate mail
to the Juice.

This is just the beginning of it. I've seen the morning programs stack some of their
shows with O.J. content and it will probably increase closer to June when ESPN airs its
special on O.J.

My questions are: what is new? what has changed? And will it ever?

Nothing. Nothing. And no.

So why will the networks continue to pop in stories about the murder case and O.J?

Because America is addicted to it! Black, white, Asian---everybody still seems infatuated
with it.

Why? What is wrong with us?

Monday, April 4, 2016


From Little League to the major one, there are few things in sports like Opening Day.

Freshly-cut and perfectly manicured grass stimulates the senses, baseballs gleam
like white pearls, the spring air feels remarkably clean, and the seeds of big dreams
get planted in our imagination.

As a baseball-obsessed kid growing up in Harrison, New York,  Little League Opening
Day was the biggest event of my young, 9-year-old life, far more exciting than
Christmas and 100 times more electrifying than a birthday party with 15 of my best friends
at Rye Playland.

This was real baseball and the beginning of a journey I hoped would eventually take me
to the major leagues and the mother of all Opening Days.

Some 43 years ago, I was just a rookie, playing with Little League "veterans". There were
no tees to hit off or coaches carefully aiming pitches at your bat, hoping a few of them
lead to a line-drive that lands safely in the outfield grass.

Nope, the baseball training wheels were off, and you were finally on your own,
ready to prove yourself on what is now your field of dreams.

Parents disguised as know-it-all baseball experts lined the fences or settled into aluminum
bleachers, waiting to unleash blood-curdling screams for reasons they weren't even quite
sure of.

Yes, this was Little League and Opening Day, which would signify the start of my
baseball journey. The gates seemingly burst open as if it were the Kentucky Derby
instead of just a game with excited kids playing purely for the love of it.

For the first time in my life, these games really counted, and many of us treated them
as  if they were the most important things on earth. Winning meant ice cream on the
way home, losing seemed worse than getting grounded for failing to bring home a good
report card.

As MLB rips the wrapping off its new season on Thursday, Opening Day brings the
little kid out in many of us once again. It'll put big smiles on our once baby faces, now
accentuated with wrinkles, which are quickly becoming deep grooves like the rings you see
on the downed oak tree in the backyard that had seemingly been around forever.

However, this year was a little different for me. I not only celebrated the renewal of the
game, but I also realized just how lucky and blessed I was to be a part of baseball for so
long and in so many different ways. The great times I had in the game and special people
I met because of it, are just something you can't measure by money, awards, or anything
else for that matter.

There were great struggles and hard times, too. But they were teachable moments and
adversity that nearly everyone who puts on the spikes, has to deal with at one time
or another. It's just part of the reason why it's called baseball and not Twitter or Facebook.

However, I had been guilty of what so many of us are in this country: focused
on the final results instead of really enjoying and appreciating the journey.

Oh, sure, I've heard motivational speakers spew their golden words about things
in life "not being about the destination, but the journey." I had seen all those placards
posted on Facebook shouting out to everybody that it's not all about the wins, losses,
and failures, but the road you traveled.

It never really resonated me. It never sank in no matter how many times I heard from
the messenger. I was just too obsessed with how it all ended to let the words marinate
into a beautiful lesson.

Thursday, it finally hit me like a ton of bricks thrown by Aroldis Chapman. There is greatness
in the journey. Even if you don't land on the moon, playing amongst the stars can be
a wonderful experience.

I finally figured out what others saw and knew. Or perhaps, I just let my guard down
and accepted what is, and what was.

The journey I had in baseball and covering it was truly amazing. I mean, really freaking
amazing. I had focused on the destination for so long and so hard, I failed to see the
greatness in the journey. And looking back now, I am sorry for that.

Baseball took me to Taiwan as part of Team USA, representing my country. I had
the opportunity to play in a land so far away against those same players who had beaten
our Little Leaguers in Williamsport seemingly every year.

Baseball took me to Chapel Hill on a scholarship to play for UNC and with not only
the best players in the country, but some of the best people, as well. I made friendships
that have lasted a lifetime and the stories that came out of that program are priceless.

I experienced failure in baseball for the first time in my life at UNC. Failure led to
doubt, lack of confidence, and what I call 'robotics.' Baseball had always come so
natural to me. I had watched it, studied it, and became obsessed with it long before
I arrived on campus. But everything became so mechanical and anything but second
nature. My swing was so screwed up, I started hitting left-handed my junior year.

Shockingly, baseball at UNC was no longer fun.

It was all part of the process and the journey. Struggles come at different times
for different players, but in baseball, those struggles always come. It's how you
battle and fight through it that matters. Those who want to end their baseball
journey, usually get off when the struggle becomes too much.

I never really wanted the journey to end.

Baseball made me a part of the movie, "Bull Durham", something I shied away
from initially because after all, nearly every sports movie before the late 1980's
had been a bust. Remember "Bang the Drum Slowly"? There's no question Robert
DiNiro can act, but the man cannot ball. Not even close.

I was simply in the right place at the right time of my journey for "Bull Durham."
Somebody told me to get a bat and listen to what Kevin Costner instructs me to
do. A number of cameras, lights, and Hollywood 'artists' were angled about 15
feet from the batter box where I stood. A large piece of plexiglass protected them
from line-drives in their direction.

It was no big deal to me.

I just figured the scene would end up on the cutting room floor. I was so
unfazed by it and so sure of its insignificance, I didn't bother to tell my family or
close friends about it.

However,  the scene made the movie and the ball I hit went "so far it should have a
stewardess on it", according to Costner,  became something I could not outrun and
for those who have seen me run, that shouldn't be all that surprising.

As fate (and the journey) would have it, I was in that same batter's box in that same
park where the real Durham Bulls play less than eight months later. I had signed
a free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox on Christmas Day and was assigned
to the Carolina League. Yep, the same Carolina League the Durham Bulls played in.

And of course, it just happened to be "Bull Durham Night" when we played. I wish
I was making all this up, but I am not. I had zero home runs heading into the game
against the Bulls. With the premiere showing the next afternoon, I was hoping to get
one or risk hearing, "You can only hit home runs in Hollywood, Devlin." until I actually
hit one.

I hit one that night. A grand slam. It was divine intervention. Had to be.

When I hit the ball, I  thought it was a pop-out to right-center field. The ball must've
been juiced or something because I certainly wasn't.

If the fence was 310 feet, the ball must've carried 310 feet and half-an-inch. I kid you
not. But hey, it went down as a bomb on the scorecard and in the movie, I guess.

The magic of Hollywood was fleeting and I ended up on the Red Sox cutting room
floor, released a year later. I went to minor-league camp with the Atlanta Braves and
a few days before camp was over, I hit a home run off Gordie Hershiser, the not-so-famous
brother of Orel. Where was Hollywood when I needed it?

Shortly after getting out of the shower that day, I found out my baseball career was
over. The late Bobby Dews, the Braves minor-league director, called me into his office
and told me I was done. I'll never forget that moment. Dews had more tears in his eyes
than me. They may have been crocodile tears, but god dangit, they were tears.

Ironically, years later when I was working as a sportscaster for Fox Sports Net in
Atlanta, Dews was the bullpen coach for Bobby Cox and the Braves. We had a bunch
of laughs about the day he released me and he'd jokingly tell Cox that if I could hit,
field, throw, and run, I'd be playing in the big leagues.

I had the opportunity to stay around the game and covered many Opening Days
as a sportscaster. I worked for the Red Sox flagship station in Boston in the late
90's, covering their run to the playoffs in 1998. To cover the organization I once
was a part of, was simply electric, which is what Pedro Martinez was when he
started the All-Star game at Fenway Park.

I was in the second row that night as Pedro was throwing mid-90's fastballs with
a wicked curveball and a stop-your-heart change-up. He struck out five hitters in
a row, including Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire back-to-back. Inside, I was still
that 9-year-old kid back in Little League on Opening Day.

Baseball didn't get much better than it did that night---until Ted Williams came out
to the pitchers mound on a golf cart mid-game! Ted Williams back in Boston?!
The roof at Fenway Park almost blew off.

Seeing Williams brought back a ton of memories for me. In spring training of 1988,
Williams stopped by the cages and worked with me for about 15 minutes. I was
that kid on Opening Day of Little League. Wide-eyed with the biggest smile on my
face. OH. MY. GOD. Ted Williams is talking to me about hitting. Wake me up when
this is over.

It was all part of the baseball journey that I had put into a box and stored away for
years. It all came back to me on Opening Day and it was tremendous. It made me
feel so alive.

I was lucky. I was blessed. My baseball journey was incredible.

While working for Fox Sports Net in 2001, I reported on the Arizona Diamondbacks
as they rode the powerful arms of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to the World
Series title. The only thing more memorable than Arizona winning it all in the third
year of existence, was seeing President Bush throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium
shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

That was powerful. I had chills watching it from just behind the third base dugout
back then, just as I had them while writing this now.

I went back to Boston to work for NESN, the Red Sox flagship station in 2004. Our
offices were in Fenway Park, which meant I went to the cathedral of baseball every
single day.  That year, the Red Sox ended their 86-year curse. All the pain, frustration,
and heartache was flushed down the toilet when the Boston swept St. Louis in October
of that year.

This baseball journey just keeps getting better and better.

Opening Day in Boston in 2005 was truly special. On a picture-perfect day, the
Red Sox raised the World Series banner and gave out their championship rings,
all in front of their hated rivals, the New York Yankees.

Dennis Eckersley and Jim Rice, both Hall of Famers and analysts with NESN, were
part of the journey as well. I'd see them nearly every day during the baseball season
and soaked up every ounce of their knowledge and experience.

My baseball journey also took me to where baseball was always on.
The company was loaded with incredibly talented people and baseball men like
Billy Sample, Jeff Nelson, and former Mets GM Jim Duquette, who I came to know
while he was the Mets minor-league director and I was a sportscaster in Binghamton,
where the Mets had their AA affiliate.

I'm not a name dropper or star-crossed, but they were all part of my baseball journey,
and influenced me in one way or another. Incidentally, in 1994 when I was in Binghamton,
the team invited me to play in the exhibition game between AA Binghamton and
AAA Norfolk.  I guess I can say I finally made it to AA right?

What blast. I hadn't played baseball since the game said good-bye to me in 1990.
Hadn't picked up a bat or thrown a ball. Yet, there I was in full-catching gear playing
against the AAA Mets. Hilarious.

You only live once and you never quite know when the baseball journey will end, so
I played. And it was awesome. Oh, sure, that left-handed pitcher I had to catch, looked
like he was throwing 93-mph when it was actually 88-mph. It was a challenge, but it
was something I'll never forget.

However, it wasn't all good. There were a ton of struggles along the way. But that's
what makes the journey so complete. Good or bad, there are always stories I can
now laugh about.

I had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch during a Braves-Diamondbacks
game to my former college teammate, BJ Surhoff. That was a story in itself.

Yep, it's all part of my baseball journey that has enriched my life in so many ways.
The experiences, both good and bad, helped me grow as a person. But the people
I met along the way were, and have been, truly incredible.

It didn't matter where they ended up, most of us started out in the same place.

In Little League with an Opening Day.

All the baseball journeys have to end at some point. I was lucky and blessed that
mine was able to continue long after my playing days were over.

There is nothing like baseball.

And there is nothing quite like Opening Day.