Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spectacular Goal by BU hockey star

Monday, April 11, 2011


A funny thing happened on Sunday. I was watching a golf tournament
and a NASCAR race at Talledega broke out. These fine-tuned machines,
with the exception of a stocky one from Argentina, were fighting for
position while barrelling toward the finish. There were no restrictor
plates, just a bunch of guys hell bent on glory, throwing caution to the wind.

It was white-knuckle time. The slightest of errors would crush the chance
for sports immortality. One mistake, and you could lose control, turning a
nice Sunday drive, into an unforgettable disaster. Remember Greg Norman
at the Masters in 1996. He was up by six shots with 18 holes to play.
The Butler cabin already had the chairs lined up, and his jacket size
ordered. However, he spun out and wound up like Rusty Wallace
in 1993 at Talledega. Wallace flipped over seven times before coming
to a stop. His car, a skeleton of its former self, kind of like Norman.

Rory McIlroy made that one crucial mistake, a colossal one that caused
a terrible wreck. You wanted to turn away, or at least put your hands
over your face. But you couldn't. You peaked through your fingers and
watched a gut-wrenching disaster.

McIlroy, in position to win the Masters at just 21-years of age, came
apart right before our very eyes. Like Wallace did 18 years before him, the
golf prodigy walked away without any physical damage, the psychological
effects however, may rear themselves next week,  next month, or as
McIlroy hopes, in his next lifetime.

Nobody will ever be able to get inside of McIlroy's head to find out
what he's thinking. But after watching him handle a most public failure,
we certainly know what the kid is made of.

His errant drive on the 10th hole was the start of his epic disaster. Few
of us will ever forget the image of him standing, looking shell-shocked,
as he pontificated his next shot in the shadow of  Butler cabin. The misery
for McIlroy didn't end until he tapped in for an 80, a score comparable to
Chipper Jones hitting .210 for the season.

The coveted green jacket in his rear view mirror, and all the critics
straight ahead of him, McIlroy could've made excuses or hid like Rafeal
Soriano after blowing a save earlier this season.

But McIlroy stood tall and acted with amazing class and dignity. His
one car accident was horrific, along the likes of Norman's incredible
wipe out. However, McIlroy vowed to learn from it, and many athletes,
including Tiger Woods, should learn from him, as well.

During his spectacular crash, McIlroy didn't slam a club, drop an f-bomb,
stare down a restless photographer, or act like a petulant 5-year old
who didn't get his way. The kid kept his composure and never really
lost his temper. Oh, sure he flung his putter after 3-jacking on the 12th
hole. But it was more of a surrender than a Tiger Woods attempt at
a record javelin throw with his putter.

McIlroy envisioned walking up the 18th fairway to a thunderous
applause, the prelude to being crowned a champion. But after blowing
a big-lead on the final day, it must've felt like golf's walk of shame.
A stroll accompanied by incredible pain, and incessant thoughts
of what might have been. An opportunity lost, and the story
of a major collapse written. Rory managed a little smile and gave
a tip of the hat, thanking the patrons for trying to ease the torture
that came about from his nine-hole hell.

Unfortunately, McIlroy's meltdown will be etched in the annals of
Masters history, along side Norman and the choke of Scott Hoch.
But his pure class and the way in which he handled an embarrassing
failure, will be respected and remembered for a long time as well.
McIlroy may have lost the tournament, but he won over a great deal
of fans.

Friday, April 1, 2011


You've probably never heard of Lou Gorman, and chances are
you'll forget about what he accomplished in baseball by the next
edition of "SportsCenter".  But if, and when you come across his
name again, I hope you'll say, "Yeah, Lou Gorman, I heard he
was one heckuva nice guy."

Gorman died early Friday morning, just hours before his beloved
Red Sox were going to open their new season. A cross between
Captain Kangaroo and the Pope, Gorman was a man of impeccable
character and integrity, who wouldn't say a bad thing about anyone,
not even Oil Can Boyd.

A captain in the Navy, Gorman served our country for eight years
before embarking on a baseball career that few could only dream of.
He was a general manager in Seattle and Boston, and helped build great
farms systems in Baltimore, Kansas City, and New York. He earned
two world series rings as a consultant with the Red Sox and was
inducted into six Hall of Fames.

I first met Gorman during spring training in 1988 when I was just a low
level minor-leaguer trying to find my way in camp. He was the general
manager of the Red Sox, who just two years earlier, came within a
strike of beating the Mets, a team he helped construct, in the World

We had finished a minor-league workout and I went to watch
the big team play an exhibition game. I kept getting kicked out of seats
by people who had actually paid for them. Gorman had been
watching all of this, and invited me to sit next to him in his customary
spot just off press row. I was a nobody and he made me
feel like a somebody. That was Lou Gorman.

Gorman let me sit there the entire game and pick his brain about
building a team and inquiry about all the players he had drafted,
from Jim Palmer to George Brett to Daryl Strawberry. It was
flat-out awesome and something I'll never forget. I thanked him
for the experience, and then we went our separate ways.

18 years later I made it to Boston, not as a player but as a sportscaster
for NESN. Our offices were in Fenway Park and we shared a break
room, or at least I did, with Red Sox front-office personnel. What
money I made from NESN, I felt guilty because it felt like stealing.
Boston. Red Sox. Fenway Park. Baseball. NESN. Are you kidding

I was in the kitchen one day stealing all the Red Sox food supplies,
(kidding, kind of) when Gorman walked in. It was like seeing
your grandfather after so many years. I introduced myself and told
him of our meeting in Winter Haven in 1988. He said he remembered
me, which he clearly didn't. Lou always wanted you to feel good
about yourself and feel important. That was Lou Gorman

This is how Lou treated everybody, like you were his best friend.
Always happy, always positive, he made everybody feel at home.
I still had an itch for baseball and asked if I could talk with him
some time and get his advice on making a career move back into
the game. Lou said it was no problem at all. He gave me his card
and said to call to make an appointment.

I called two weeks later and made the trek to his office at Fenway
Park. Trying to find it, one has to navigate the narrow hallways
as if they were galleys on the submarine in "The Hunt for Red
October." I managed to find Gorman's pint-size office and he
welcomed me like I was a member of the family.

We talked and talked and talked some more about baseball.
We'd get interrupted by phone calls, and Gorman would just say
he was busy and kindly asked to call back. I had the chance to
soak up all of this man's knowledge of the game, and the stories
were priceless.

He was instrumental in drafting some of the best players in the game.
George Brett, Willie Wilson, Bret Saberhagen, Dwight Gooden,
Strawberry, Dykstra, Mo Vaughn...the list went on and on.
As a baseball junkie, I had gone to the right place to get my fix.
Lou Gorman was amazing.

I asked him about the infamous trade of Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson,
one that followed him forever with the Red Sox. He didn't bat an eye.
"We already had Wade Boggs at third, and Scott Cooper, another solid
prospect in the minors," Gorman would say. "Bagwell hit for average in
AA but didn't have much power. We projected him to be a 10-15 home
run guy." Then the steroid era came. My words, not his. Bagwell went
on to hit almost 500 home runs for the Houston Astros.

People stopped by Gorman's office as if they were visiting Santa
Claus at the Mall before Christmas. Everybody loved Lou Gorman.
Everybody. He was a guy you hoped, would live forever. He deserved
to. A gentleman, a patriot, a man who helped so many others in
need, Lou Gorman was a class act. That was Lou Gorman. He will
be missed.