Let's face it, our country has been drowning in tragedy and scandal. We've been shaken
to the core by senseless deaths and destruction. Since mid-December there has been Newton,
Lance Armstrong, Benghazi cover-up, Boston bombings, Cleveland abduction case, and
the Oklahoma twister. Throw in Manti' Teo, Rutgers, and the trial of Jodie Arias and
you have a lot of Americans who feel so dirty, they are in need of a good lather, rinse and
On Tuesday night, there was a moment that put a stick of deodorant on the United States
and made it feel fresh again. Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo, who are forever linked
because of the Boston Marathon bombings, threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park before
the Red Sox-Phillies game.
This was a spine-tingling, raise every goose bump on your body moment. It gave me chills,
and I'm not afraid to admit, a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Bauman, who lost both
his legs in the bombings, delivered a fastball to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and triumphantly yelled out, "that was a strike", with a mile-wide grin on his face. It was more than
a Kodak moment. This rinsed a lot of the ugliness that we've seen and felt over the last five
months. The pure joy on Bauman's face made a lot of our pain and problems disappear, albeit
the world. And Bauman probably was. Throwing the first pitch in the cathedral of baseball in
front of 38,000 fans and a regional television audience that absolutely adores you, could be
the highlight of his young life.
Bauman is a symbol of courage, perseverance, hope, and happiness. Yes, happiness. The guy
had his legs blown off and he has the strength to forge ahead with a laugh and a big smile on
his face. How great was that pitch? How great was that moment?
The man who saved Bauman's life, was also honored by the Red Sox and all of New England.
Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat, who like Bauman, also lost two of something very
precious to him: his two boys. One was killed fighting in Iraq, the other took his own life
because he couldn't deal with the pain of losing his brother.
Arredondo was at the marathon watching a few runners who were honoring his sons. He had
a smile on his face, but the pain, must still have been unbearable for Arredondo to endure.
When the bombs went off, it would have been easy for him to scramble for safety like thousands
of others did. Nobody can blame anybody for a decision they make during sheer panic and
terror. While many people were thinking when the next bomb would go off, Arredondo was thinking about whose life he could help save.
After running down and removing some fencing from a section near the finish line, Arredondo found Bauman with his legs almost completely shredded. If you've seen the pictures, you
know just how gruesome it was. Rick Pitino and the Louisville basketball team turned away
from the compound fracture of the leg of Kevin Ware suffered during the NCAA tournament.
They didn't rush to the aid of a fallen teammate, instead, they waited for someone else to help
him when he was writhing in mind-numbing pain.
Arredondo must have been beyond horrified when he saw the carnage on Boyleston street.
We all could understand if he froze, backed off, or even just ran away. That scene was gruesome.
With death and terror in the air, Arredondo calmly applied tourniquets to what was left of Bauman's legs to help stop the bleeding.
He then put Bauman in a wheelchair and rushed him to the first aid tent. A photographer
snapped what has become an iconic picture, capturing both the fear and courage of two men
who didn't know if they were even going to live to see it. There was Arredondo holding the femoral artery in his hand and pinching it so Bauman wouldn't bleed out. Think about that. He
had a long artery in his hand while rushing Bauman to safety. The man is the definition of a hero.
As I've said many times before, the city of Boston should erect a statue depicting that scene
with Bauman and Arredondo next April before the 2014 Boston Marathon. It should be
placed right in the precise spot where the first bomb went off. Arredondo wheeling Bauman
with the artery in his hand is the defining moment of the Boston Marathon after the bombs
went off. It symbolizes everything that is right in our country: caring for others without worry
about what happens to yourself.
Tuesday's first pitch was just a small reward for Arrendando who should never have to buy
a meal or drink in Boston. He should become a cult hero as he defines what Boston Strong
is all about. Same goes for Bauman, because after all, the two are linked forever.
This was a great moment for me and it's something I won't soon forget. With all the negative
news suffocating our world, I had forgotten what a feel-good could do for the soul. Thank
you Jeff Bauman. Thank you Carlos Arredondo.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
On Friday night, Craig Sager broke out another not-made-for-TV ensemble from his closet.
The TNT sideline reporter must have dressed in the dark while nursing a hangover which
is something, thanks to the Internet, we've seen before. There was a collage of pinks, reds,
and rasberries, encased by vertical and horizontal stripes, making for a, "what the...." hell
This is Sager's schtick. I can't ever remember his breaking a story or telling the viewers of
anything of significance, unless you consider Dwayne Wade going to a high school prom with
a local teenager, big news. Sager, who entered the national picture in 1974 when he was
a cub reporterand just about greeted Hank Aaron at the plate when the Hammer set the all-time
home run record, has put the "color" in his colorful wardrobe.
I don't know who designs his outfits, nor do I care. They are intended to do one thing: get
Sager attention and make him standout from the two million sideline reporters who say
nothing, ask nothing, and are basically good for nothing. Television is a copycat business,
where people steal ideas, fads, and styles. Sager's style is a flat-out rip off from Don Cherry,
the NHL commentator and legend for the CBC and "Hockey Night in Canada".
When it comes to wild and wacky outfits, Cherry has been on top for a long, long time. He
is often imitated by Sager, but never duplicated. The former player and coach set the standard
years ago, and no matter how hard Sager tries, he'll never displace Cherry as the best/worst
dresser on television.
Cherry, a crusty, sturdy, and distinguished looking man, can get away with wearing outrageous
outfits. When it comes to hockey, he is old-school, a commentator who thinks bare-knuckle fighting
is part of the game, and excessive celebrations are not. And besides, he just looks a lot cooler
than Sager in his outfits. Cherry is more likely to be in the middle of an alley-fight, while Sager
looks like an 8th-year senior still trying to make it into a college fraternity.
In an "all about me world", Joe Solimine has always been about helping others. For more than40 years he has been the pillar of Pelham, New York, giving his time, money, and giant-sized
heart to support a close-knit community that's just a Ruthian shot away from the Big Apple.
Solimine is the Babe Ruth of Pelham, a man who seems bigger than life with his 6'3' frame,
booming voice, and magnetic personality. He's the kind of person you meet once, and remember forever. Solimine is the former town supervisor and has been on the board and nearly every committee with Pelham's name of it. He is a remarkably unselfish man who gives, gives, and
gives some more to ensure that everyone in his town is happy and taken care of.
Now, the people of Pelham are trying to take care of the man who has given them so much. In
February, Solimine was diagnosed with leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. The town
has organized bone marrow drives to help find the match that Solimine and others need. There
is an 80 percent chance of finding a bone marrow match for Solimine. The percentages of ethnic minorities are significantly smaller. Being the selfless man that he is, Solimine has started a fundraising drive to help those who have been affected by the disease. He has produced teamsnooks.com, a web site that supports those in need of bone marrow transplants.
Solimine was a legend long before he arrived in Pelham. Playing high school baseball in the
shadows of Yankee Stadium, he was a lot like Babe Ruth, a big left-handed hitter who could belt
tape-measure shots with a flick of his powerful wrists. He signed a professional contract with
the Pittburgh Pirates at just 17-years old. and reached AAA before retiring at the age of 26.
Solimine brought his love of baseball to Pelham where he was the general manager and coach
of the Pelham Mets. He often suited up in his 50's and still wielded a dangerous bat.
Today, Solimine is stepping up to the plate and digging in against a dangerous disease. Knowing
Solimine as I do, I have little doubt that he will once again hit a home run and beat leukemia,
while helping others.
For more on Solimine and his fundraising efforts, please check out teamsnooks.com.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Nearly five years after his death, Brian Bill is still very much my hero. Bill was one of 30
SEAL's riding in a helicopter on a mission in Afghanistan in 2011 when the Taliban brought
it down with a rocket-propelled grenade. Everyone on board died.
Bill grew up in Stamford, CT, which bordered my hometown of New Canaan. I never met
him but I was fascinated by his story and the type of person his friends said he was.
Triathlete, mountaineer, pilot, engineering degree, Navy SEAL---Bill squeezed more out of
his 31-years on the planet than most people do during their entire lives.
Bill had a megawatt smile and was a magnet to his friends. Everyone loved Brian Bill and wanted
to be his best friend. Heck, I never even met him and I wish he could have been my BFF. He just
looked so cool. Hollywood cool.
Since his death on August 6, 2011, the people who were touched by Brian Bill have done a great
job helping to keep his legacy and memory alive. Athletic events have been named in his honor,
a Facebook page has been created for him, and there are plans in place to have a statue constructed
for him in Stamford, CT. In September of 2011, I dedicated the Toughman Triathlon to one of
the toughest guys I never knew. I competed with his name and the date of his passing on
Before and after the race, I was asked about Brian Bill and was more than happy to tell his story.
He fought for our country knowing the percentages were extremely high that he would pay the
ultimate price. Bill was a Navy SEAL who performed the most dangerous of missions, trying to
vaporize terrorists on their home soil. He would often make the impossible become possible,
rescuing U.S. soldiers behind enemy lines where assault rifles, IED's, and rocket-propelled
grenades were the weapons that could send a SEAL to a painful and gruesome death.
It was an honor for me to tell his story and explain the type of person he was. I know, I never
met him. But you didn't have to meet Brian Bill in person to know about his character. It jumped
off the page of his pictures. Look at the ones of Bill with his family and friends and you can
tell he was the life and most popular person at the party.
Most of all, Bill was a SEAL, the toughest and most courageous of all military trained soldiers.
He knew he'd never be on the cover of magazines, get featured on CNN, or get a ticket-taper
parade for his accomplishments. That's the drill when you're a SEAL. Every great accomplishment
is expected and never made known to the public.
Bill did so many great things for our country that we don't even know about. Most of it is classified
and will stay that way. Bill liked it that way. He didn't get into the service for medals or the glory.
Bill just wanted to defend its honor and help protect it while most everyone back in the United
States was sleeping comfortably in their own beds.
I wrote a few articles after his death and I was touched by the response I received from his
friends and members of his family. When I was competing in a swim meet a few summers
ago, Brian's aunt was in attendance and introduced herself. It was a great moment for me
as I got to learn even more about the person Brian Bill was. Brian Bill is still very much an
inspiration to me.
I realize that he is just one of the more than 4,000 troops killed in the Iraq/Afghanistan wars.
Every one of them who fought and died for our country deserves the highest of honors and
universal respect and admiration. On this Memorial Day, I hope people take the time to
remember and thank them properly. They made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedom
Memorial Day has become far more important to me because of Bill's death. His sacrifice
really brought out the appreciation I have for him and all the soldiers who have been killed
in action over the years. They are a symbol of courage, bravery, commitment, and dedication
to our country.
On Memorial Day, please remember Brian Bill and all the fallen soldiers who made the ultimate
sacrifice for our country.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
When I set my alarm clock on Friday night, I was kind of hoping the battery on the cellphone
would die or malfunction before 3:45am around. I was emotionally spent after marking the fifth
anniversary of my father's death and covering an adrenaline-filled story for a local television
station. I didn't know where the energy to run the Brooklyn Half-Marathon was going to come
3:45am arrived and my phone went off like a 5-alarm fire. Man, that was painful. I rolled out
of bed with my running shorts already on. I didn't care. Anything to save time. I smelled like a
pair of socks that hadn't felt liquid Tide in two weeks, but I had no interest in taking a shower,
after all, I was going to run 13.1 miles, not trying to find a date for that night. A generous
stick of Old Spice and Crest would take care of that, anyway.
I looked in the mirror and saw something staring back at me that looked like it got hit upside
the head with a shovel. It wasn't pretty. Father Time caught me and is kicking my ass. I went downstairs, stuffed my face with the leftover pasta I chowed on the night before. Had to do
that carbo-loading thing. Still half-asleep, I wolfed down two bananas, a cold hamburger from
the fridge, and a pear. There's nothing scientific about my race day diet. I eat pretty much the
first thing I see. I stopped at a McDonald's drive-thru on the way to the race and stuffed
three pancakes (more carbs) and a piece of sausage down my throat like it was my last meal.
As I was making the 1.5 hour drive to Brooklyn at 4:30am, I said to myself, "What the hell are
you doing? You're 48 years old and going to run 13 miles in Brooklyn, New York. There's
nobody on the road and you're eating dry pancakes from McDonald's!"
I got down to lower Manhattan where I planned to park and then take the subway to Brooklyn
for the race. As I was looking for a spot, I passed a nightclub at 5:15am. A throng of 20-something partiers were coming out of night club. Boy, did I feel old. I'd much rather be in bed at this time
and these kids are just going home. I'm going to run a half-marathon, and they're going to get
laid. What's wrong with this picture?
I parked and made my way to the nearest subway station and quickly discovered I was heading
in the right direction. The platform was filled with people looking exactly like me. Jogging shoes,
shorts, IPod, Bib number already attached to shirt, and bottles of water in hand. It's 5:30am and
I was in great company with people who, like me, wanted to punish their bodies as the sun was
coming up. I didn't feel badly. I actually felt energized.
We all walked out of the subway an exited near the Brooklyn Museum. I had never seen so
many joggers in my life. It felt like the United Nations with Nike's on. Black, white, Asian,
Muslims, there was even two guys dressed up like Jake and Elwood who sported British accents.
This had all the makings of a great experience, and it was.
Nearly 20,000 people entered the race and took off around 7am. The Ethiopians were long gone
and out of sight by the time the mere mortals and weekend warriors crossed the starting line. I
cranked up my IPod and opened up the race to Jay-Z's, "Empire State of Mind". I found it
fitting because he's from Brooklyn and rapped about many of the places we'd be running through. It was easy to feed off the song and the energy of New York City. There is no place
The people's whose idea of exercise is watching people run, lined the streets to gaze at everybody
going by, perhaps laughing at all of us who chose to endure nearly two hours of pain on a Saturday
morning. I love people watching, and I got as much out of viewing the characters of New York
City as they got out of checking out 20,000 runners barreling through their neighborhoods while
sweating and writhing in pain. It'll take me a while to get the sight of an overweight, frosty-
white man in nothing but a red, white, and blue speedo that was two sizes too small, out of my
mind. Right, it's NYC, what else did I expect.
My only goal on this day was to finish without injuring myself. I strained a calf muscle just
three weeks before the race and I was apprehensive every time my left foot landed and hit the
pavement. But I ran the first three miles of the race with a canyon-sized grin on my face. This
was fun and exhilarating. I took in the atmosphere, the faces, and all the charm of Brooklyn.
I can only imagine how great things were when it had the Dodgers and Ebbets Field.
After meandering our way through New York City's largest borough, we came down a highway
ramp that led to the final four miles of the race. It was nothing but a flat, straightaway, leading
to Coney Island and the finish line. This was my third half-marathon since March 24th, so my
body was accustomed to the pain and punishment that goes with a 13.1 mile race. I was hoping
for a 1:48 finish, which would have been a personal record. When I reached the boardwalk at
Coney Island, I checked my watch and saw that wasn't going to happen. But I didn't care. This
run was all about the journey. The 3:45am, the drive to NYC, the subway ride, and the 13.1
jaunt through Brooklyn. It was a great experience. Running in the Big Apple is simply awesome.
I crossed the line in the amusement park at 1:53:04, which came out to be 8:38 per mile. Out of
21, 378 runners, I was the 7, 908th to cross the line. Finishing 7,908 never felt so good. I saw
some of the pictures taken of me on-line early Sunday night, and I, well, I didn't look so good.
The pain on my face said I was laboring with quintuplets. Nobody ever looks good with pain
on their face.
Inside though, I felt great. It wasn't about the ending, but rather the journey, and it was awesome.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
If you've never been to Boston, get there before you're too old to fully enjoy it. If you're in the
sports media, try to get a job there because one hasn't truly covered sports until they do it in this
town. There is no place on earth that can match Boston's charm, education, energy, diversity,
sports, and most of all history. Ever since Paul Revere bolted from out of the gates in Boston
for Lexington in 1775 to warn everybody that the British were coming, the city has been a
magnet for unbelievable events, both good and bad.
On April 15th, two bombs rattled the city to its core during the beloved Boston Marathon. It was
a devastating blow that knocked not only Boston, but the entire region flat on its back. This was
the worst event on its home turf, one that tested the resolve and spirit of a city that has great pride
and people fiercely loyal to it. But Boston is strong and resilient and it's well on it's way to
Another chapter was added to annals of the city less than a month later, as the Bruins pulled off
a remarkable comeback in the NHL playoffs on Monday night. I realize that sports is not life and
any event pales in comparison to what happened at the Boston Marathon, but there are some
parallels between the two, and things to be admired. And in terms of sports, this was big, really big.
The Bruins were down 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 of the playoffs. The Fat Lady wasn't
singing, but she had the vocal cords humming and Toronto's bus was warming up outside the arena. Keep in mind, no team in NHL history has ever come back from a three-goal deficit in the
final period to win the deciding game.
Flat on its back, the Bruins mirrored the passion, energy, and dogged resiliency the entire city
showed in the aftermath of the bombings. They, like Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the horrific
event, didn't sulk, quit, or feel sorry for themselves. They stood strong, just as Bauman has done,
in the face of adversity, when all seemed lost. If they were going to go down, they were going to
go down having squeezed every ounce of energy they had left in their tanks.
The Bruins trailed 4-2 with just under 90 seconds to go. There was NO WAY they could possibly
come back and tie it. They not only tied it, but Pierre Bergeron's goal in overtime won it for them.
The city, which is still very much in mourning and pain, let loose. The celebration was like a
power cleanse that led to total euphoria. This was another great moment in a sports town overflowing with them. This electrified a city still recovering from a broken heart. This
comeback allowed the city to pump up their chests and yell out, "We are wicked Boston Strong!"
With all that's happened to Boston in the last month, one has to begin to wonder if this is all
part of a bigger plan. A moment like last night, which wreaks of destiny, has a way of powering
a team and a city to much bigger and greater things.
This script could have an ending produced straight out of Hollywood. The Bruins hoisting the
Stanley Cup and then parading down Boylston Street, the same one rocked by two bombs. It
would show everybody that the city is truly Boston Strong and nothing, not even two terrorists
could rip it apart.
Yes, the city is still hurting and the pain may never truly go away. But a championship could
provide more relief for city and all the victims. It could be another way to honor those who
lost their lives.
The team is still 12 wins away from making that happen, but the amazing comeback win has
galvanized the city and something tells me, there's something special 'bruin' for a town that
is truly special.