Sunday, December 30, 2012


Fred Trumpler died way too young on April 5. He was just 47 when he suffered a
massive heart attack while holding one of his children in his arms. Trumpler 
died as he lived, caring for and loving others. That's the kind of person Fred Trumpler

During his days at New Canaan High School, he wanted to be everybody's best
friend and would not only give you the shirt off his back, but his pants, shoes, and
coat, as well. Trumpler expected nothing in return. His friendship was unconditional. 

Trumpler loved football. Actually, lived for it. He wasn't blessed with extraordinary
talent, but he played with heart and a burning desire to win. Trumpler didn't care
about personal accolades as much as he did of being part of a great team. All he 
wanted in his football career was to say he was part of state championship team. 
Trumpler's dream came true in 1983 when New Canaan High School won it all.

I often wondered if he slept in the state championship letter jacket he received.
Trumpler wore it all the time, even as the calendar turned to late spring and the 
temperature hit the 80's. Trumpler was so proud of it and he always considered it
his greatest accomplishment in football.

Fred Trumpler was a true character in football and in life. He is missed by the 
many teammates and classmates he came across and touched in his own special

ROBERT TROUP  November 12
Robert Troup was a fixture at just about every sporting event the New Canaan
Rams played. Sporting his long, camel-hair coat with a scarf draped around his
neck and often a resting place for his flowing white locks, he stood on the sidelines
and supported every team in town.

Nobody really knew what Troup did for a living and I never really cared. It added
to his character and intrigue. A World War II veteran, Troup appeared as if he
had seen it all, which he probably did. He was friends with movie stars, actors,
politicians, and just about everybody in New Canaan.

But there was nobody in that tony, little New England town quite like him. Nobody.
He was a true original. Our paths would often cross on Main street, at a game, in
church, or the coffee shop. It often started with, "Hey, devils, what's shaking?",
and  quickly progressed to frequent and hearty laughs.

I always left our meetings with a huge smile on my face and feeling better than the
moments before I had seen him. That was one of Troups many gifts: making people
feel better about themselves.

Carl Beane waited his nearly entire life to get his dream job. At the age of 50,
Beane won a competition to be just the fifth public address announcer in the
history of the Boston Red Sox. It's safe to say, there was nobody in the organization
who loved his job more than Beane.

In May, Beane had a heart attacked and died while driving just outside of
Boston. It seemed so wrong and so unfair.

Beane proudly wore his two World Championship rings and seemingly walked
on sunshine to his perch high atop Fenway Park. With great pride and respect
for his job, Beane would announce all the hitters before they strode to the plate.

Beane wasn't blessed physically, but God gave him a powerful voice that he
used to land one of the most coveted jobs in baseball. I'm sure he standing at
the gates of Heaven announcing the beautiful people like himself, when they
come walking through.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Norman Schwarzkopf was a general straight out of central casting. Big, sturdy,
and intimidating, he was what a leader of the military was supposed to look like.
Even his nickname, "Stormin' Norman" given to him by his aides and subordinates
for his fiery temper and in-your-face style, was perfect.

When he came out for his first press briefing on the Gulf War in 1991, I said to
myself, "With a general like that, this war is going to be over quickly. He was
part John Wayne, part George Patton.  I looked at the guy and said, "This guy means
business. He's going to kick ass and take no prisoners."

Schwarzkopf gave every American the confidence and feeling that Operation Desert
Storm would be well-planned and decisive. It was. The coalition forces drove Iraq
out of Kuwait in just 44 days.

Schwarzkopf was reportedly irate that President Bush ended the mission before
capturing Saddam Hussein and finishing the job. Americans agreed with the general,
and we loved him for it.

Norman Schwarzkopf died of on Thursday due to complications of pneumonia. He
was an American hero and a man who gave a good chunk of his life helping to protect
this country. There was nobody in the history of our military quite like him. He was
a true patriot and a tough, brilliant soldier who was a masterful strategist.

I often felt that Schwarzkopf would've made for a great coach in sports along the
lines of Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant, and Bobby Knight. He had a temper like
Mike Ditka and the ability to game plan like Bill Belichick. He would've commanded
respect in a sports world that had gone soft and filled with prima donna's and divas
like T.O., Ochocinco, and Randy Moss. Schwarzkopf would've put those guys in
their places quicker than he did the Iraqis.

Scharzkopf would have been a dream for NFL Films with their boom and wireless
microphones. You could imagine how entertaining"Stormin' Norman" would've been
on the sidelines:

"Prime Time, what the hell are you dancing for after making a tackle?"
Cut the crap and play like a man, not like your auditioning for a spot
with Danny Tarrio and the Solid Gold dancers. Good, grief, Deion."

"Hey, T.O., get your candy ass back on the field. If you don't agree
with the program, then get the hell out of here."

"I'm tired of all this 'Manny being Manny' nonsense. We pay the guy
to hit home runs, not to be a freak show in the circus."

If he was doing an interview with Stephen A. Smith, I could've envisioned the general
interrupting the mile-a-minute mouth of the ESPN criticizer and asking, "Now, what
exactly does the 'A' in Stephen A. Smith stand for? Does it stand for what I think it
stands for?"

Man, it would've been fun to see Schwarzkopf as a head coach. But it sure was
comforting to see him in the role of  commander of our military. He was big, brash,
and bold.  We felt safe and secure with General Norman Schawarzkopf out in front.
He protected  all of us and the entire country.

Thank you, General Schwarzkopf, we are very grateful for your service
to the United States.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


There are few things more heartwarming than seeing a child rip open presents on
Christmas Day. The pure, unbridled joy that washes over their faces is enough
to put a smile on your face for an entire year.

There are very few smiles in Newtown, Connecticut on a morning that we
celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The people in that small and quaint New
England town are still grieving heavily and mourning the loss of 20 beautiful
and innocent children who didn't make it to this wonderful and glorious day.

There are presents still wrapped and hidden in closets, the ones that were going to
make Jesse Lewis, Noah Posner, Daniel Barden, Dylan Hockley, and Chase
Kowalski flash their megawatt smiles and melt the hearts of their parents who had
planned so carefully for Christmas Day.

Boxes with bows and wrapped with love, containing dolls, pink dresses, and
stuffed animals won't be opened for Charlotte Bacon, Josephine Gay, Ana
Maruez-Greeene, Madeline Hsu, and Catherine Hubbard, all very special little
girls who were in the right place at the right time, except that evil showed up
and took their lives away for no good reason.

Like the others, Jack Pinto had his whole life ahead of him. He was a six-year
bundle of energy who excelled in wrestling and football. Pinto dreamed of
being the next Victor Cruz, the New York Giants receiver whom he honored
by wearing his number 80 jersey.

Today, as we celebrate Christmas, be sure to honor Pinto, Olivia Engel,
James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, and Emilie Parker. Remember to include
Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richma, Benjamin Wheeler, and
Jessica Rekos and Alison Wyatt in your thoughts and prayers.

Keep the parents of all these wonderful wonderful children close to your hearts.
Think of the six adults who taught, served, and tried to protect the children
from harm and sacrificed their lives trying to do so. A deranged gunman snuffed
their lives out and sucked the happiness out of a village, a town, and a good part
of our nation.

On Christmas Day, be happy, be thankful, and feel that you are blessed. But
remember there is little joy or happiness in Newtown and Sandy Hook today.
Presents won't be opened and a nightmare is far from closing.

Take five minutes to say a prayer or think about all the beautiful and innocent
children who are now angels in heaven, looking down on all of us as we smile,
laugh, and celebrate Christmas Day.

Monday, December 24, 2012


The Christmas spirit seemed to be sucked out of the holiday season by the
tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. It's hard to think about celebrating the birth
of Jesus Christ when we are mourning the loss of 20 innocent children
and six caring adults.

But on the eve of Christmas, a little joy was pumped into a sports nation that
is still wiping away the tears from the pain caused by a senseless massacre
in a small New England town. Chuck Pagano returned to work for the Indianapolis
Colts, driving into the team's facility early Monday morning. The first-year head
coach spent the last three months battling leukemia, undergoing grueling rounds
of chemotherapy.

Pagano lost weight and his hair, but not his team, which provided the love and
support rarely seen in professional sports. Most them shaved their heads in a show
of solidarity for their head coach. Two cheerleaders did the same to raise money
for cancer research and show their love for a man who had worked and waited
nearly 30 years to get an opportunity to lead a team.

Chemotherapy treatments started for Pagano on September 26. In his absence,
the Colts played inspired football on their way to clinching a playoff berth, an
amazing accomplishment considering they not only lost their head coach, but
also because they had won just two games the season before. Bruce Arians
stepped in for Pagano and carried the torch  and team to the playoffs. On Monday,
the torch was passed back to Pagano, who has been cleared by doctors to
resume his coaching duties.

Understandably, Pagano was very emotional at Monday's press conference
announcing his return to the Colts. His eyes watered, his lips quivered, and
there were times when the lump in his throat kept him from talking. Pagano
thanked his wife, family, and the entire Colts organization for standing by
and giving him their love and support.

This wasn't about football, but real life. Cancer doesn't lose very often and if
it does, the scars, both physical and emotional, don't go away quickly. With
his comeback, Pagano is now an inspiration to other cancer patients around
the world. He is an inspiration to his team, giving them a lesson in perseverance
and iron will.

His appearance alone gave many the reason to smile again and help ease
the pain for millions who've been affected by the tragedy of Newtown. Pagano
smiled brightly at his press conference, knowing that he beat cancer, while
getting the chance to return to his second home and family, the Indianapolis


Few athletes are as poised and unflappable as Tim Tebow. In the face of criticism,
questions about his faith, and controversy, Tebow has always stood tall and
never flinched. He usually begins every response with a "Yes, sir" and finishes
it with a "Thank you," no matter how invasive or insulting a question is.

Teammates ripped him anonymously in the newspapers saying he was
"terrible" and can't play, but Tebow always took the high road and refused to
throw anybody under the bus even when he had plenty of opportunities
to do so. That wasn't his style or part of his Christian DNA.

Many of his answers include the phrase, "whatever is best for the team" and
the Jets quarterback has lived up to it wherever he's been from the University
of Florida, Denver Broncos, to the freak show in the New York Jets' circus.

He came to New York last year after being dumped by Denver, who found
a new Mile High Messiah who could launch missiles from his arm with pinpoint
accuracy. Tebow said all the right things on the way out of the Rockies because
after all, God had closed one door, only to open another one.

But behind the door that was painted green and white, Tebow found a
dsyfunctional team of epic proportions. Rex Ryan was the ringmaster with
big bravado and an even bigger boiler. The owner named Johnson had a Woody
for an icon like Tebow and dollar signs in his eyes when he the Jets acquired
the apostle named Tim. To Johnson, it was all about selling seats, jerseys,
and advertising for the stadium. They promised Tebow he'd be a big part of the
suped up version of the Wildcat.

Tebow was all in. But with two games left in the season, Tebow decided to go
all out. After being bypassed for the starting quarterback job in favor of the
immortal Greg McElroy, Tebow went off the rails. His attitude no longer carried
the whole, "whatever is good for the team" mantra.

According to reports, Tebow told Rex Ryan during preparations for San Diego,
he no longer wanted to be part of the brilliant Wildcat package and when the team
called for it against the Chargers, Tebow was on the sidelines looking at the chart
of plays on his wristband that was probably replaced by a note to himself that read,
"Get me the hell out of here."

If Tebow did in fact ask out of the Wildcast package, this reveals two things. One,
Tebow's words about doing "whatever is best for the team," was a bag of baloney.
And two, it underscores the softness of Ryan. Most coaches would tell Tebow to
either get out his checkbook and pay a hefty fine or just flat out suspend him
for "conduct detrimental to the team."

What do you think would happen if Wes Welker told Belichick he didn't want to
be part of a certain package? He would've been kicked off the field quicker than
you can say, "Spygate." It would never happen.

But in New York with Ryan, it does. He's more concerned about the players'
feelings that winning football games. It really is very revealing.

Did Tebow get lied to about the role he'd play with the Jets when trying to decide
between New York and Jacksonville? Probably, but that happens everywhere from
the NFL to Nabisco. Companies often say the right thing and make promises they
never keep just to get a prospective employee to sign on. Woody Johnson wanted
Tebow badly and the front-office offered Tebow a deal they couldn't keep. That's
life, that's too bad.

Did Tebow go off his sometimes righteous rails? Probably. Apparently, he had
all he could take and was miffed about a former 7th-round pick getting the nod
over him at starting quarterback. Perhaps, he finally realized he was nothing more
than a pawn in Woody's financial chess game.

Good for Tim Tebow. Good for him snubbing the ringmaster of the biggest
circus in sports. Being a good Christian doesn't mean you have to turn the other
cheek all the time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


With the Newtown tragedy, there has been a push for random acts of kindness to
honor the 26 victims who lost their lives on December 14, 2012. In a way, it's
unfortunate that it takes an unspeakable event like the one that occurred at the Sandy
Hook Elementary School to promote acts of kindness. It's really something that
should be been ingrained in all of us.. Acts of kindness really should be part of our
daily routine like brushing our teeth and washing our hair.  It's that simple.

Here are some acts of kindness and great acts that were done by people in the sports
world in 2012

To help raise money for cancer research and support Chuck Pagano, the head
coach of the Indianapolis Colts who was diagnosed with leukemia in September,
two cheerleaders of the team shaved their heads. Crystal B. and Megan M. (They
didn't want their last names revealed) sat down in a chair between the third and
fourth quarter of a game and had their long, flowing hair shaved off. Yep, just
like Demi Moore in, "G.I. Jane." The women raised $22,000 for cancer research
and showed Pagano that everybody is supporting him during his battle with the

A lot has been written about the play of Tim Tebow recently, but not much has
been said about his acts of kindness, which are part of his daily life. The Jets
quarterback often invites children afflicted by some terrible disease to football
games and meets with them and their entire family after to give them a smile and
words of inspiration. Last January, while he was with the Denver Broncos, Tebow
invited 16-year old Bailey Knaub, who has a rare disease that affects all her vital
organs,  to attend the playoff game against the Steelers with her entire family. Through
last  March, Knaub had endured 74 operations. 74. Think about that. Tebow certainly
has and is doing everything he can to support Knaub and make her life a little better.

Jack McGraw is a 13-year old boy with cerebral palsy. His life is spent in a wheelchair.
This past October, he was a member of the football team at the Haines Middle School
in Illinois. McGraw can't play, but showed up for every practice and every game to
cheer his friends on. In the final game of the season, with his team on the 7-yard line,
McGraw went onto the field with his motorized wheelchair. He was given the ball
and the opponents allowed him to score a touchdown.  Players from both teams mobbed
McGraw in the end zone, making for a moment he'll never forget.

Jack Pinto loved Giants receiver Victor Cruz. He wore number 80 like his idol
and pretended to be him during football games in the backyard. Pinto was killed
during the Newtown shootings last Friday. After hearing he was Pinto's favorite
player, Cruz honored him by writing his name on his shoes during a game against
the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. But Cruz did more than that. On his off-day, he
went to Newtown, CT. to visit and pay respects to the entire Pinto family. Without
telling the media or posting pictures on Twitter, Cruz did a little something to
comfort a family that lost a child. Great move, Victor.

Derek Jeter has been a class act during his entire career with the New York Yankees,
but the captain made one call that elevated his stature with the people in Newtown.
Jeter took time out to call the mother of Victoria Soto, the 27-year old teacher who
was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary. He offered his condolences to the entire
family and brightened an otherwise painful and gloomy day as they continue to
morn the death of Victoria. It was a small thing that touched their lives in a big way.

Up until August 21, 2012, the career of Jim Joyce had been defined by the blown
call he made two years earlier. Joyce was at first base and incorrectly called a runner
safe, botching what would've been a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando
Galaragga. It haunted him. But in late August, Joyce made the best call of his life.
A longtime employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks had suffered a seizure under
the stadium before a game. Joyce calmly sprang into action. He gave the woman,
who had stopped breathing, CPR, and restarted her heart. She was saved from
dying. It was the greatest moment of Joyce's life and one that should be remembered
for rather than his blown call in Detroit. 

Last July, I rode 100 miles in the Connecticut Challenge which benefitted
cancer survivors and research. Through the generous donations of several friends,
I raised more than $1,100. Thank you all for your act of kindness.

Fredi Gonzalez
Dinn Mann
Noah Coslov
Tom Bova
Kara Devlin
Chad Yonker
Dee Jaykus
Kathy Mawn
Kerry Nagle
Michael Rohrlack
Laura McMaster Danforth
Dee Jaykus
Charlene Devlin
Tim Janosik
Laura Decarlo 
Kim McMahon 

Friday, December 21, 2012


Next weelk, Mike Eruzione is going to feel like he won the lottery. The captain of the 1980
Olympic hockey team is auctioning off the jersey he wore when he scored the game-winning goal over the Soviets. Auction experts say the white, number 21 sweater could fetch more than
one million dollars. One million dollars for a piece of history. Wow.

Eruzione will also put up nearly everything he used on the way to hockey immortality, including
his stick, gloves, warm-up suit, cowboy hat, and the jersey he donned when Team USA clinched the gold-medal against Finland.

The question is, why would Eruzione, after nearly 32 years, put these items up for auction. Aren't these prized possessions that should be kept forever?

Eruzione says he's not broke and doesn't need the money. He says he wants the financial windfall
for his kids and grandchildren, which is admirable.

Don Larson, who auctioned off the New York Yankees uniform he wore when he pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956, said he wanted to give the $716,000 he received
for it, to his grandchildren, as well.

Many people in society look at these legends and wonder how they could cash in on their pieces
of history? We wonder why it always has to be about money. I say, why not?

Eruzione's equipment had been pretty much collecting dust in a basement for the last three
decades. To him, it could be just that, equipment. As an athlete, his ultimate goal was to win an Olympic medal, which he did, and is not going to sell for any price.

However, if his jerseys, sticks, and gloves, are just that to him, why not get money from a
person who thinks they are important and part of history. I've never really understood people
who pay millions of dollars for a game-worn jersey, but to each his own. Isn't it just laundry
with a name stitched across it?

Ozzie Smith, the Hall of Fame shortstop, recently auctioned off the 13 gold gloves he won
during his career. Some guy paid $519,000 for them. Smith doesn't need some gold-plated
gloves on a stand to validate his stature as on the best defensive players at his position in
the history of the game. After all, he has a plaque in Cooperstown that tells everybody that.

Perhaps, Smith got tired of seeing his 13 gold gloves lined up in his trophy room and just
wanted to get rid of them. If they're around long enough, don't they become like furniture or
paintings on the wall that you don't even notice anymore?

If athletes hawk their goods for the money, so what? Larson is 83-years old and didn't make
more that $150, 000 during his entire 15-year career. If he's going to get three-quarters of a
million dollars for a uniform he no longer wears, what is the big deal? It's his life, his choice.

I can tell you this, athletes are not as sentimental about their momentous as most of us are. They
don't play for a uniform, bat, stick, or glove. They use those items to take them where they want
to go and achieve their goals. Most of these medals, awards, and trophies just end up in a box somewhere collecting dust.

I think if athletes want to sell their memorabilia, so be it. It's their life, their choices. And if
there is some fool out there who wants to give them a million dollars for a jersey or uniform
they no longer wear, good for them.

They have something that can't be bought and that's their memories of everything that went
into winning a trophy, medal, or other award, which in most cases, means a lot more than
piece of hardware.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Victor Cruz had never heard of Jack Pinto until last Saturday night. The wide receiver
of the New York Giants learned through Twitter that Pinto, who was killed in the Newton
tragedy, idolized him. The 6-year old boy pretended to be Cruz during football games
in the backyard and even had his own Giants jersey with number 80 plastered on the
front and back of it.

Cruz was clearly moved when he found out that he was Pinto's favorite player. He
wrote, "Jack Pinto, my hero" and "R.I.P." on his cleats for the game against the Atlanta
Falcons on Sunday.  Paying tribute to someone this way has long been vogue with
professional athletes in all sports, but it often brings more attention to themselves than
it does to the people they are memorializing. It doesn't take much effort, either.

But unlike most athletes, Cruz did more. On his off day, the Giants receiver traveled
to Newtown, Ct. from his home in New Jersey to visit Pinto's family. His agent didn't
inform reporters, camera crews, or post information about it on Twitter. When some
athletes do an act of kindness, they are sure to turn it into a photo op that says, "Hey,
look at me, aren't I nice?" Cruz didn't want any part of that.

Cruz traveled up I-95 to I-84 just to offer his condolences. Now, offering condolences
to someone you know is hard enough, try doing it to a family whom you've never met
in a town that has been engulfed in overwhelming sadness. It can be awkward,
uncomfortable, and overall, a real challenge. To do it the day after parents bury a
6-year old child who is wearing a Giants jersey with the number 80 on it, is about as
emotional as it gets. I mean, what do you say after, "I'm sorry for your loss."?

Cruz did more than just say those words before turning around and going home. He
hugged Jack's parents and listened to what Jack was like and how much he adored
Cruz. He also played NFL Madden with some of Pinto's friends and teammates from
the Pop Warner league in town before leaving after a visit that lasted a full hour.

The moment definitely had an impact on Cruz, who told reporters at practice on
Wednesday, "you meet the family, you see people and the things they're going through,
it helps you look at life through a different lens, like I said," Cruz said. "It really
changes your view and the way you used to look at things. It changes your view of it."

Cruz is one athlete who "gets it". He doesn't live a world of self-absorption
and isn't inflicted with the disease of me. He knows there is more to life than running
slant patterns through NFL defenses on Sunday and picking up a game check on

There are some athletes who are living in a vacuum and have absolutely no
sense of reality. After getting traded from the Mets to Toronto, R.A. Dickey
told the media he had to take "time to grieve about leaving New York."

Now, this was just days after tragedy that ripped the heart and soul of the people of
Newtown and Dickey wants to mourn over not playing in New York anymore? Really?
20 innocent children and six caring adults were killed by a deranged gunmen and
Dickey is talking about grieving when he gets traded to a team that actually wants
him and is going to paying him $10 million-a-year. Good Lord, R.A. Dickey, get
some perspective.

I wish more athletes would follow Cruz and his act of kindness. The Giants receiver
could have stayed in bed on Tuesday or spent the day playing NFL Madden like most
players around the league seem to do. But he didn't. Without the cameras following
or posting pictures on Twitter,  Cruz did one great act of kindness. The impact that
he made on a family that he didn't even know, is immeasurable.

Athletes need to do more than just scribble the name of a kid on their shoes. It
doesn't take a lot to give something back to those who are less fortunate or suffering
through an incredible loss. You don't have to move a mountain to do what Cruz did.
I wish more athletes would follow the lead of Cruz and touch a life, heal a soul, and
put a smile on someone's face.

It's not that hard. It really isn't.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


In most cases. pain is temporary. It goes away with treatment, medication, or
just time, which they say,  heals all wounds. But the pain for the people of Newtown
and Sandy Hook will probably stay with them forever. The wounds suffered from
the loss of 20 innocent children and six caring and selfless adults, will never close,
no matter how much time passes.

It was that pain and those wounds that tugged at me this morning, just as it has pulled
at nearly every person around the globe. Newtown seems like a world away to most
people, but for me, it's practically in my backyard, just 25 minutes away from where I

Some of the people, including me, who have traveled to the southwest part of Connecticut,
just wanted to pay tribute to the victims of the unspeakable tragedy in some small way.
We wanted to provide some sort of comfort, albeit just a little, through a gift, words,
or just a hug for the people in this tiny part of New England. But like so many others,
I found the trip to Sandy Hook to be one of the most moving and emotional experiences
I've ever had.

Those who do travel here, are surprised at just how small of a place where this unspeakable
act of violence occurred, really is.

If Newtown is the biggest tree in the area, Sandy Hook, resembles the smallest bud 
on its most fragile of branches. It has one stop light, a few tiny churches, and a row
of mom and pop stores. A Subway shop is the only thing that says commercial in
this quaint, little village.

As you travel into Sandy Hook, there are rows of awe-inspiring angels on the
hillside, representing all the people who were killed on December 14. It quite simply
takes one's breath away.

On this dark and gloomy day, which seemed almost fitting for a place that just had 
its heart and soul ripped out, two more beautiful little children were laid to rest. This
small village is eerily quiet, the only sounds to be heard on the streets are soft whispers and
sobs from those saying prayers for the victims, and the humming of the satellite trucks
from television stations that are parked along the streets.

Memorials to the 26 victims of the massacre continue to grow by the hour. There
are Christmas trees, flowers, candles, and countless Teddy Bears that dominate
the surroundings and have become the symbol of this shrine. There are letters

from children at other elementary schools around the country and stockings with 
the names of the 20 innocent children who were taking from this world far too 
soon, stitched into the top of them.

The elementary school where the tragedy occurred, stands just a short distance
away from the memorials. It is off the main street, fronted by the firehouse
where so many parents came to find out the fate of their children, and camouflaged 
by tall and thick trees, which makes it seem like one of the safest places on earth.
I found myself asking, "How could this ever happen. How could anything like this
happen here?"

Except that it did. Evil penetrated a small town and even a smaller village.
Newtown and Sandy Hook will never be the same. Ever. There isn't enough time
left for the planet to heal the gaping wound that has devastated the people here.
The whole, "everything happens for a reason," thing doesn't seem to stand in this
case. No big plan or "reason" should ever include the violent deaths of innocent children.

It truly is sad that, at a time we are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,
we are mourning the death of 20 beautiful children and loving and giving, adults.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Not many people around the world had ever heard of Newtown, Ct. before Friday's
unimaginable tragedy. It's a small, sleepy town that is neatly tucked away in the
southwest part of the state and a good distance away from the bright lights of New
York City. The people there prefer it that way.

Bruce Jenner, the decathlon champion, put Newtown on the the map in 1976 when
he won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Montreal. Jenner had moved to Newtown
when he was 16 years old and graduated from the high school there. Shortly after
the gold medal was draped around his neck, the football stadium at Newtown High
School was named in his honor. He brought national and worldwide attention to the
town, made it relevant, and gave its residents a reason to be proud.

But 24 years later, school officials  took Jenner's name on the stadium after they felt
slighted by Jenner during fundraising efforts for improvements to the field.

On December 14, 2012, Newtown became the focus of national and worldwide
attention again. But unlike Jenner's name on the football stadium, they will never
be able to make it go away. There is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and now,
unfortunately, Newtown. 20 innocent children and six adults killed by a 20-year
old deranged gunman. Innocence lost forever and Newtown will never be the same.

I went to high school in New Canaan, which is just 35 miles away from Newtown.
We played summer league baseball games there, but I never knew much about
Newtown until two years ago. I worked as a baseball instructor at the Newtown Youth
Academy which is an immaculate, 86,000 square foot facility, much like you'd see on
the campus of a major college with a great football program.

It became the centerpiece of the town and a place where kids from 6 to 18 came
to play baseball, basketball, lacrosse, football, and tennis. It's a source of great pride
for the people of Newtown as there is nothing like it in the state. The towns
along the gold coast of Connecticut such as Greenwich, Westport, New Canaan,
and Fairfield are envious of the magnificent facility.

There is a large, turf-covered surface than is much longer than the length of a football
field on one side. Tennis and basketball courts and a full-track on the other. I had
the chance to work with kids between the ages of 6 and 16 during winter sessions
and spring camps.

However, most of our campers were between the ages of 6 and 10. And anyone who
has ever coached and worked with kids, knows  these are the ages of true
innocence, when they play for the true love of the game, and the pure joy that comes
across their faces when they have just a little bit of success, is priceless.

I remember giving one-on-one instruction to a 6-year old boy who was just so
happy to be playing baseball. His demeanor would change when his dad would arrive.
A stage father through and through, he would ask me why his kid wasn't hitting
the ball the other way. I'd respond, "this is the time for your kid to have fun playing
the game. He's six-years old. He's not going to get a major league contract tomorrow.
I prefer to give the kid a lot of swings. Gain some confidence and have some fun.
If he doesn't have fun and gain some confidence, he will get frustrated and quit."

When I heard about the Newtown tragedy and the ages of the children killed in
the massacre, I got a pit in my stomach. This unspeakable tragedy happened so
close to where I once worked. We have yet to see the names or the faces of the
children who lost their lives. When we do, the pain of this entire nightmare, will
increase by 1,000. To see the faces of those innocent children, so happy, so carefree,
and so special---who are no longer with us for no good reason at all, will be gut-

I know there will be at least one face that I will recognize. I worked with so many
young kids in a town with not a lot of them. It will be sad. It will be heart-wrenching.
It is not fair.

The memory of that little kid I had worked with, walking out of the gym with his
father, glove in hand, bat over his shoulder, and the name, "Pedroia" stitched on a Red Sox
jersey with a number 15, is a memory that I took from my time working in Newtown.
I hope and pray, I don't see his face when the pictures of the victims are soon released.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We all know the feeling. Somebody takes a picture and you're feeling
pretty good about how you're going to look. Clothes, good. Hair, check.
Then you see the final product and you let out a big, OMG! I look like
I just ate Vince Wolfork.

You thought you had a body by P90x, except that you're diet said all
"Dunkin Donuts". Not very flattering. A lot of people were thinking that
when they saw the New York Post on Sunday with a picture and the
caption, "DEREK EATER". The Yankees captain was looking softer
than the Stay-Puff marshmellow man after Thanksgiving.

How could it be? Jeter out of shape? Yes, he's been in a boot since
undergoing surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered in the post-season,
but Jeter rarely let's himself go or allows himself to be photographed looking
like that.

Is Jeter really that out of shape or did the New York Post take liberties
with the picture and Photoshop. I mean, a Big Apple tabloid would NEVER
do that. (wink, wink). They would never misrepresent the body of the
Yankees captain just to create a buzz and sell a newspaper, would they?
(sarcasm noted). They wouldn't pull out the shirt a little and make it look
larger, would they? Nooooooooo.

Whatever the case, pictures do sometimes lie. A bad angle, bad lighting, and
slight touch up with Photoshop can make anybody look bigger than they appear.
I was none too please during my photo shoot for the cover of "Sports Ilustrated"
swimsuit issue.when the photographer showed me in a bad light with bad lighting
and an awkard camera angle. There was no way I looked this fat. But they
negated any chance of me making the issue by accentuating my belly instead
of my silky smooth chest hair.

Jeter went on the defensive on Monday, with belly sucked in and tongue
firmly planted in cheek. He even had a picture taken with MLB's Harold
Reynolds to show the world, he was still tight and not far off from being
in game shape. Jeter didn't get upset with the New York Post for having
"a little fun" with his picture. It sure did gain a lot of attention and sell a lot
of papers, that's for sure.

Jeter has plenty of reasons to be smiling with Reynolds. Unlike A-Rod, he
will be ready for opening day. And if he ever starts to fret over the picture
of him being overweight, he can just say, "Well, at least I wasn't pictured
like A-Rod doing this."

Now. THIS is bad.