Monday, August 29, 2011


Last January, when the digital numbers on my scale slowly and painfully turned over
from 249 to the perfectly round number of 250, I texted my good friend and former
teammate Steve Tonra, who was an excellent baseball player in high school. I wrote:
Truth be told, there is only one, and there will always be only one 2-5-0 in that ritzy town
of Connecticut, no matter what anybody's scale says.

2-5-0 is the nickname of Mark Rearick. He was extra large coming out of the womb and grew
 to be a mountain of a man. He put the barrel in barrel-chested, and even though he is light
on his feet for a man his size, 2-5-0 is like the dinasours in Jurassic Park, you can hear him
coming from a mile a way.

2-5-0. Rearick hit that magic number as offensive lineman as a senior in high school. Even by
today's standards, any 18-year old kid tippin' the scales at 250 is large, especially when he's
6'3. That  nickname stuck to Rearick like the tattoo on  Mike Tyson's face. It's on, and it's
never coming off. He was never Mark, Mr. Rearick, Coach, or  Dude. It's always been 2-5-0,
even when the scale spit out a number that was much greater than that.

But there's more to 2-5-0 than a perfectly suited nickname. 2-5-0 is Mr. New Canaan baseball.
He was teaching kids how to play the game going back to the mid-1970's. 2-5-0 was the
president of Babe Ruth baseball and coached every kid who came through the program. A well-spoken, intelligent man, 2-5-0 had more knowledge about the game in his right pinky, than
most of us will ever know.

2-5-0 has worked at New Canaan High School for so long, he's seen the kids of some of the
kids he used to coach, graduate. The man is an instution like IBM, Harvard, and Budweiser,
although 2-5-0 has never even sipped an alcoholic drink. He is "old school" and a straight-
shooter who arrived long before the Rubix Cube, Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. In this day
and age of "look at me" and "what can you do for thee", 2-5-0 is unselfish, genuinely caring
about his players, and always doing what was best for the team.

For many years, 2-5-0 was the varsity baseball coach at New Canaan High School. His teams,
as you might've expected, were intelligent and well-coached. He helped make average teams,
good and good teams, great. 2-5-0 was never one to keep track of his records and he probably
couldn't tell you the exact numbers of years he even coached. He just coached for the pure love
of the game. Oh, that may seem like a glitzky cliche in this day and age, but 2-5-0 lived and
breathed the game. It was his true passion.

A few years ago, the game was wrongfully taken away from him. He coached in a town where
every CEO thought they could manage better than Tony LaRussa and coach bettter than Bill Belichick. His assistant coach threw him under the bus and the new athletic director wanted
to have "his guy" running the team. If was the "perfect storm" that led the Rams to make a change atop the baseball program.

After all his hard work, dedication, and loyalty, 2-5-0 was no longer the baseball coach at
New Canaan High School. Baseball in New Canaan would never be the same. Legends
like 2-5-0, and he is a  legend, should decide when they are leaving, not some buttoned-up
adminstrator who uses too much starch in his shirts and doesn't have a pulse of the town.

But life isn't fair, after all, even Tom Landry, who built the Dallas Cowboys from scratch
and turned them into "America's Team," was unceremoniously dumped by Jerry Jones
when  he took over the team. That's sports, and that's life.

2-5-0's former players, coaches, and even umpires in the area, honored him a couple of
years ago, celebrating his contributions to the game. 2-5-0 is truly loved, admired, and
respected, and the number of people who turned out for the event supported that.
My friends reading this like Tonra, Timmis, Burke, Stevens, and Nanai all know what I'm
talking about.

We all go through school learning from a thousand different teachers and getting  instructions
from a hundred different coaches. There are only a handful that we really remember, and
perhaps just a couple you can say actually had an impact on your life. 2-5-0 is one of those
people and coaches that you never forget. He is a true legend of the game and a great friend.

Thanks, 2-5-0.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Last Sunday, I interviewed a runner who had just won the woman's
division of a 10-mile road race. She told me she would've had a
better time except that she "made a wrong turn and went out of
(my) way a bit."  I chuckled to myself and wondered how anyone
could make a wrong turn on a course that is marked with other runners
ahead of you.

Three hours later, I wasn't laughing. I had gone down to the site
of the triathlon I will be competing in on September 11th. I wanted
to test the bike course and get my "strategery" down, as George
Bush famously said. I wanted to know where I could cruise down
hills, the pot holes to avoid, and locate the best fast food joints
in case I get famished, which there is a good chance I will. Extra
value meal to go, please.

As I followed the directions on my printout of the course which
were barely visible to this 47-year old dude, I came to a turn I wasn't
sure of. I stopped a motorist as he was coming out of a 7-Eleven
and he told me there were two ways to get to where I wanted to go.
I, of course, took the wrong route. I went two miles out of the way,
which meant I had to come back two miles to return to the course.
A great way to start a 56-mile journey.

Pounding my way through the rolling hills of Hudson Valley, New
York, I was on a pretty good pace, or so I thought. Another cyclist
blew past me as if I was standing still. Getting passed like that is
demoralizing, but when I noticed the perfectly-defined diamond
shaped calves of the rider, I didn't feel so bad. That guy rides his
bike as often as Bruce Pearl lies, a lot. Last summer, during a
triathlon I was competing in, I was climbing a steep hill when this
woman on a pink bike peddled furiously by me. The big numbers
stained on her arm gave her age away and when I noticed a 6
and a 2  side-by-side, I almost quit right there. Big guys aren't
built for speed on a bike. I sometimes think the department of
transportation is going to tag me with a red flag and put a sign
on my back that reads, "Over size load".

There was no quiting on my Sunday ride which got supersized
to 60-miles after my earlier mistake. It was a pretty comfortable
ride until I got to the 58-mile mark. I had cotton mouth and was out
of water. I thought for sure I'd pass a convenient store, but there
were none, making them not so convenient. I spotted a pizza
joint who's name I could not pronounce or even understand.

But I'm smart enough to know when that neon sign is glowing
and says "open", that's the only thing that really matters. I
dismounted my  bike and the pain strangled my body like G.I
Joe's Kung Fu grip. I let out a primal scream as if an alien was
stapled to the bottom of my stomach while pumping napalm through
my intestines. Yeah, I know. Don't tell you about the pain, just show
you the baby. This is the second consecutive week that I stopped for
a slice. It's become a tradition unlike any other for me. When I got
my slice of Sicilian pizza and 32 ounces of Gatorade, I was relieved
and in heaven.

I still had a few miles to go, but after completing the required
56 that I'll need for the race, I put it on cruise control. With the
finish to the ride in a park by the Hudson River, I envisioned
what I was going to do when I was done. Strip down to my biking
shorts and sprint for that big body of water and take the Nestea

When I got there, it sure seemed like a Cinco de mayo after, after
party. I was in the minority and when I approached the water
I could of sworn I heard people saying, "El pez grande! El pez
grande!"  Interesting. When I got home I went on to Google translate
to figure out what they were saying. "The Big Fish, The Big Fish!"
is what they were saying.

Less than 21 days to go. I'm down to 234lbs and feeling a bit better
about my chances of finishing the half-ironman

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Three weeks into my Gorilla Fitness program, I hit the proverbial wall.
I've grown tired of salads, steamed vegetables, and endless gallons of
water laced with lemon. (Dr. Oz says the citrus is a good fat-burning

My long, lonely jogs have turned into battles between me and my knees.
Those days of catching in bullpens along Tobacco road and in the
Carolina League finally caught up with me. When my feet hit the pavement
with the grace of a Water Buffalo, it feels like 100 daggers are piercing
what's left of the cartilage around my patella.

As I cringe, my knees look up at me and scream, "Hey, lard ass.
When you were eating all those Krispy Kreme donuts, did you have to
eat the entire box?!" But I endure, even though my knees are whining and
running is my least favorite activity in life. My pace is somewhere between
Fred Sanford and Re-Run (hey, hey, hey!).

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact, that on September 11th, the
tournament organizers of the triathlon are going to "Motel 6" me. They
are definitely going to keep a light on for me as I try to complete a
13.1 mile run, which comes after a 56-mile bike ride, which comes
after a 1.2 mile swim.

I signed up for this brutal test of endurance because my weight had
gotten out of control. I needed a goal and something to help push
me away from the dinner table and toward a weight that didn't begin
with a 2 and a 5.

Through my Gorilla Fitness program and  strict diet, (wink,wink)
I've slimmed down to 238 lbs. I still find it hard to believe that I weighed
in at 208 just three years ago. Losing 30 more pounds seems as realistic
as Reuben Stoddard becoming a Chippendale.

There have been a couple of days where I had the "screw its", times
where I ignored my good conscious that was telling me to work out.
I even cheated on my diet once, ok, maybe twice. I helped a friend
move from her mansion in New Canaan to a regular-sized home
in Old Greenwich. I helped unpack the thousands of boxes littered
across her homestead. After I  worked non-stop for almost 8 hours,
I crashed on the couch and woke up famished at 3am. I definitely
could eat a cow.

I went to the refrigerator and really wasn't expecting much because,
after all, nobody has a stocked fridge when they just move in. I opened
the freezer and there it was, in all her glory. A box of "Skinny Cow" ice
cream cones. It was like finding two, $20 dollar bills in the pocket of
a pair of pants you haven't worn in awhile. My face must have looked
like Indiana Jones' after discovering the Holy Grail. I hit the jackpot.
A Skinny Cow for a hungry fat guy. As that beer commercial once
stated, "it doesn't get much better than this."

Guilt ridden and in need of a work out, I went for a 60-mile bike
ride the following day. It was only 85 degrees but the humidity was
close to 90 percent. I was sweating like Phil Mickelson on the final
day of a major. (No man-boob jokes, please)  Unlike my last
long-distance ride, I brought a lot of energy-boosters, including
fruit and GU, those mini-packets filled with some type of gel that taste
like Elmer's glue and chalk.

With four miles to go in my journey, I stopped off at a pizza place
to get a drink. God, that slice of pepperoni sure was enticing.
Hmmm. Discipline or instant gratification? I said yes to the latter
and ordered up what seemed like half the pie. I justified it by
saying that I had already burned about 5,000 calories and remembered
somebody had told me the metabolism rate keeps churning after
a long ride like that. And I basically said because I had endured
so much pain during the ride, I deserved to have some pleasure.

While sitting on a bench outside the pizzeria, a little man resembling
Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" got out of his large Mercedes
and walked by me with a quizzical look. He said, "Are you going
to eat that whole thing." Ever the wise-ass, I refrained from firing
off a suitable comeback. After all, I was in the midst of eating one
of the best slices of pizza's I had ever tasted.

26 days to race day. Am I ready? Not right now. But while time
is winding down, so is my weight, and that's a really good thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I never knew Brian Bill and unless you were a member of his family or went to school with
him, chances are you didn't know him, either. Bill was one of the 30 American troops killed
when the helicopter they  were traveling in, was shot down by the Taliban with a rocket-propelled
grenade in Afghanistan. The Stamford, CT. native was a Navy SEAL and just 31 years old.

When I saw his picture which was accompanied by a story about his funeral,  I couldn't help
but notice how young, happy, and vibrant he  looked. It was as if Bill knew the world was
his oyster and he could  accomplish anything he wanted to.

Bill accomplished a lot during his short life. He played soccer and hockey  at Trinity Catholic
High School in Stamford, home of the great Bobby Valentine. He earned a college degree and
went to military school. Bill also earned a commercial pilots license, spoke French fluently,
and was an accomplished mountaineer who climbed Mount Elbus in Russia

As a precocious teenager, Bill, according to his friends was hell-bent on serving his county.
And he did, with the same passion, commitment, and dedication  that he showed when he played hockey and soccer in high school.

Bill then became a Navy SEAL, perhaps the toughest and most respected soldiers in our military.
He earned three Bronze stars, among his many other decorations. Bill was a member of SEAL
Team 6, the unit responsible  responsible for hunting down and killing Osama Bin Laden. The
government doesn't release information on the specifics of who did whatfor SEAL Team 6 for security purposes, but after those SEAL's  turned the lights out on Bin Laden, they shined brightly 
in our country, didn't they?

Seemingly, every news organization was doing features on just how tough, brave, smart,
courageous, and physically fit these SEAL's are. Even though we didn't know exactly know
who they were or what dangerous  places they went into, the SEAL's became like cult heroes
in our country.

It's just sad and unfortunate that SEAL's only really get recognized when they die. Sounds
harsh, but its true. Nobody on the vaunted SEAL Team 6 was  honored for the bravery they
showed in taking down Bin  Laden. They never will, either, because of security purposes.

I sometimes get annoyed when sportscasters, analysts, and other journalists use all the
euphemisms and metaphors when describing teams and players. They say a team is "battle
tested" because it goes up against top 10 teams every week. Really? Try going on foreign
soil to battle a faceless enemy where every kid who walks up to you on the street could have explosives strapped to himself to kill you and your entire platoon. How's that for battle

I remember hearing Joe Buck calling Brett Favre a "warrior" because he got driven into the
turf by a 300lb lineman, then got up to throw a 50-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
Warrior? Brian Bill was a warrior. He parachuted behind enemy lines under the cover of only darkness  and battled against soldiers with bazookas and bayonets.

Ray Lewis has been described as so tough, he eats nails for breakfast. Bill was so tough, he
was trained to eat maggots, cockroaches, and just about anything that moved in the desert,
ocean, and snake-infested swamps to survive.

The eccentric reliever of the San Francisco Giants has been fawned over because he has
"the guts of a burglar".  How bout having the guts of a Navy SEAL like Brian Bill. Fighting
for your country and your life every single day.

And one of my favorites when teams face off in Game 7 of the playoffs or championship.
"There is no tomorrow", the broadcaster will say. In sports, there always is a tomorrow. Even
for guys like Bill Buckner and Jean Van de Velde.

There will be no tomorrow for Brian Bill, and that is really a sad, sad thing. People will soon
forget about Bill because unfortunately, that's how life works. We mourn and move on. But
people like Bill, who fought to help our country slow down terrorism, while experiencing a
great amount of terror himself, should never be forgotten.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


When I was growing up in the late 1970's, the Dallas Cowboys were truly
America's Team. Everything about them seemed to be really cool. The
uniforms, the star on the helmets, even that giant opening in the roof of
Texas Stadium was unique. Tom Landry created the "Flex-Defense"
and the offensive lineman used to do that up-and-down shift before the
ball was snapped. I wasn't a fan of the Cowboys, but they did seem,
in many ways, to be bigger than life, especially for a 12-year old kid.

Before cable came along the Cowboys seemed to be on national television
every week. For some reason, it felt like they were always playing the Steelers,
Redskins, or Giants. I'd tune in every Sunday at 4pm EST, to hear
the legendary voice of Pat Summerall call the games. He was joined by
his long-time sidekick, Tom Brookshier. Both of them seemed to have
about three gin and tonics before kick-off.

If Bob Sheppard had the voice of God, then Summerall possessed
the pipes of Moses. There was no better play-by-play man in the country
than Summerall, and that voice helped make for great theatre.
And when he was calling Cowboys games in the late 70's, there wasn't
a team that had a better collection of names than America's Team. That
voice and those names, made every Sunday seem like the Super Bowl.

It seemed like their names were created by a Hollywood producer,
who's job was to come up with unique, memorable names. Heck,
even the Cowboys General Manager had a great name. Is there
a better name for the architect of the Cowboys than Tex Schramm?

Then there was Golden Richards, a speedy-receiver with long-flowing
blonde hair, who always seemed to be on the other end of a brilliant
pass from Roger "the dodger" Staubach. The offensive unit also had
Billy Joe Dupree, Robert Newhouse, Preston Pearson, Tony Dorsett,
Rayfield Wright, Butch Johnson, and Tom Rafferty. "Bullet" Bob
Hayes and Lance Alworth came before Richards and Pearson, but they
had the great names to go along with the talent that earned them a spot in
the Cowboys Ring-of-Honor, which was also cool and unique to every team
 in the NFL.

The best of the best names on the Cowboys came on the defensive
unit. How bout Dexter Clinkscale? Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy "the
Manster" White, Everson Walls, Harvey Martin, Jethro Pugh. Jethro?
There hasn't been a great Jethro before or since Mr. Pugh. Lee Roy
Jordan, Bob Lilly, Bob Breunig. Love it.

The Cowboys have had some great names since, like Nate Newton,
and DeMarcus Ware, but there has never been a collection of great
names like there were on  America's Team of the late 1970's.

If you have any great names you'd like to mention, go for it.

Monday, August 8, 2011


August 9, 2001. It's not a birthday, holiday, or lord knows, the
date of my wedding. 10 years ago, I nearly choked
to death. At work. On a grapefruit. In my office. It could've been
one of the worst ways of saying good-bye to life on this planet.

I sometimes wondered what the headline would've been the
following day. "Sports Anchor dies after choking on a Ruby Red"
might've worked. "Anchor gets all choked up, News at 11" is
kind of catchy. But catastrophe and all the announcements were
avoided thanks to the quick actions of my co-anchor.

I had been working at Fox Sports Net in Atlanta where we
not only produced shows for the South, but also for Arizona,
as well. Yes, it's crazy and I don't have enough space in this
blog to accurately explain it. The duel regions meant the anchors
would have to do four shows a day at 6:30, 8:30, 11:00, and 1 AM.

Yes, it was slave labor, but I loved it. The challenge of doing
four shows alternating between Atlanta and Arizona was an
adrenaline-fueled rush that I became addicted to despite working
15 hour days. It wasn't for everybody.

In between shows, we really didn't have much time to eat, so
I went to the break room to get my grapefruit from the refrigerator.
This was a super-sized Ruby Red sucker, that was a meal in
itself. I was peeling it like an Orange and eating it like one. Now,
those who have seen me chow down, know that I don't just
eat food, I inhale it. It's a bad habit that I picked up while
working in smaller markets where sports anchors had to do
everything themselves and eating on run was standard if
you wanted to make deadlines.

On this evening, I was eating on the run because I had
to write and anchor four, 30-minute shows. We did have
a few producers, but they could never break away from
their fantasy drafts long enough to be of much help
crafting the show.

As I walked from the break room to the studio at a quick
pace, I was peeling and eating, peeling and eating. Man, that
Ruby Red grapefruit was pure, a perfect blend of sweet and
sour that produced a natural high. However, as I got halfway
through the studio, I noticed something wasn't right. That
gi-normous slice of grapefruit wasn't making it down the
trap door.

Panic started to set in as I went through a door back to
my office. An intern, whom I had never seen before, raised
his hand and said, "Hi". The guy wanted to exchange pleasantries
as my face was turning purple while gurgling sounds were
emitting from my throat? Really? I later found out the intern
was asking, "Heimlich". My memory might be good, but my
hearing sucks.

I was wondering if this was really the way I was going
to die. Choking on a grapefruit? At my job? Why couldn't I be at
Ruth's Chris steakhouse tearing into a big side of beef and
choking on that instead? A grapefruit? That's not a good ending.

As I turned into my office, I pointed to my stomach and
made some kind of primal grunting sound, kind of like
the noise a Gorilla in the mist makes after discovering
someone swiped his bananas. Matt Morrison, who was
writing his show, promptly got up, went behind me and
did the Heimlich maneuver.

Morrison, who is a salt-of-the earth kind of guy, reacted as if
he had done this many times before. Calm, cool, and on a
mission to get that thing out of my throat.

With what seemed like a giant bear hug, Morrison knocked
the wind out of me, and out came the slice of grapefruit.
Pam Oliver, the sideline anchor for Fox Sports, was working
on a report at her desk with her back to us, oblivious to
what was going on.

Needless to say, Oliver was quite stunned when the projectile
went over her shoulder and onto her desk. Oliver is a smart, sweet,
beautiful woman, but if you cross her, she'll kick your ass up and
down Main Street. I don't think she was happy with what was
now a slime-like amoeba resting on her desk. She rolled back
from her desk and blurted out, "what the.....?"

After disaster was avoided and I got my breath back, which was
followed by an apology to Oliver, Morrison and I high-fived and
quickly got back to writing our show. With a new show at the top
of the hour, we acted as if nothing happened. However, my heart
rate told me that I had almost checked out at the age of 37. Choking
on a grapefruit. At work. In my office.

As we we're sitting on the set as the show opened, I deviated from
the script by saying, "I'm Paul Devlin, and this is Matt Morrison, the
man who saved my life." The viewers had no clue what was going
on but everyone in that studio certainly did.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


August 3, 2011. 39 days until The Toughman Half-Ironman triathlon.
Fat man triathlon would be more up my alley. The application for the
event required that I mark down my weight. Anything over 210 lbs is
called a Clydesdale. Over 240 should be categorized as a Hippo. I'm
over 240.

After just three weeks of training, I've shaved five pounds off my
6'3" frame. I'm down to 241. Am I ready to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56,
and run 13.1 on September 11th.? Was Tiger Woods a good family man?

I've stepped up my training program. It's called "Gorilla Fitness", which
means going as far as you can, for as long as you can, for as fast as you can.
Now, anybody who saw me run during my illustrious baseball career,
can tell you I never got anywhere quickly. My speed was somewhere
between a tortoise and a tortoise's grand ma-ma.  But I have great endurance.
However, I'm still 25 pounds overweight, which has forced me to train
incognito. The embarrassment of a double-chin flopping from side-to-side
as I ran was simply too much to bear.

The bag over the head works, and I actually look a little younger, if
not thinner. The brown bag has a good slimming effect. I didn't think I
was getting hefty. Perhaps,somebody traded out the mirrors in my bathrooms
for the ones at the carnival  that make overweight people look skinny.

My goal is to get down to 225  and just finish this half-ironman triathlon
on September 11th. I've been  gradually increasing the mileage during
my daily, or in reality, weekly runs. The course near the Hudson River in
Croton is expected to be hilly, so I've been doing a lot of hills with  plyometrics
and calisthenics mixed in. This will help me during transitions and burn more fat cells.

This past Saturday, I seriously miscalculated my "Gorilla Fitness" program
and it cost me two days of much-needed training. It was around 4:30pm
when I got home from work. I needed to bike, but in all honesty, I just
wanted to scarf down about three Klondike bars and lay on the couch
and watch television until it was time to eat again.

Instead, I motivated myself to go on a long ride. I left at 5:00pm and felt
there were about 3 1/2 hours of riding time left in the day. My  first mistake
was not packing a lot of food, or any food to be honest with. On a ride
that long, I'd burn a  billion calories and need to replenish the  electrolytes
and all those other things Dr. Oz says we need  to function properly.
Without proper nutrition, I malfunctioned.

Long story short, I was dehydrated after my 46-mile ride. During the
last eight miles of my journey, when it was dark and I was out of water,
I thought of James Franco's character in "127 hours". He was that hiker
who got his arm caught between a rock and a hard place and eventually
he had to cut it  off.

He also drank his own urine. I certainly wasn't going to do that, but I 
was motivated to finish my ride without passing out or hallucinating. I
made it home through the cover of darkness. But I was cooked from the
sun, exhausted from the ride, and ridiculously hungry because I didn't
have anything to eat during the entire trip. Not exactly brilliant.

Sapped of my energy, malnourished, and dehydrated, I couldn't move
for two days. It felt like somebody had drilled a vacuum into my back and
sucked out my kidneys. I jumped, or at least I thought I jumped out my
bed the following morning,  convinced that I had  lost 10 lbs from the
ride and dehydration. Christ, I got on the scale and I had gained a pound.

What is up with that? Two  things I'm starting to understand. One, it's a
lot harder to drop weight at  47 than it is at 37. Two, I cannot recover
like I used to. Where is Brian McNamee and Miquel Tejada when you need
them? I think I need a few shots of B-12.

Next week I have just one goal in mind: get under 240lbs. Damn, I read that
and realize, that's a lot of weight.