Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The image and story of Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman have been seared into my
consciousness forever. Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat, trying desperately to save a
person who, in an instant, became just like him: damaged, broken, and forever scarred by
Bauman, just 27-years old, was waiting for his girlfriend to cross the finish line in the Boston
Marathon. Turns out, he was in right place at the wrong time, as a bomb exploded, ripping his
legs apart. Arredondo, who was sitting across the way in the VIP section, rushed to his side
and saw wounds on Bauman that were as big as the emotional ones that ripped out his heart
nine years earlier.
In 2004, Arrandondo's 20-year-old son, Alex, was killed during the war in Iraq. It was August
25th, the same date as the elder Arrendondo was born. That was too cruel, too painful, and too
much for Arrendondo to handle. Three Marines came to his home in Florida to notify Carlos
of his son's passing. Carlos was so distraught, he jumped into the van of the Marines, doused
himself with gasoline and lit a torch. He suffered second and third-degree burns on 25 percent
of his body.
Seven years later, as Carlos was coming out of his battle with depression, his other son, Brian,
lost his fight against his. Brian was depressed, the loss of his brother too much to overcome.
At just 24-years-old, Brian took his own life.
They say no parent should ever have to bury a child, to have to say good-bye to two of them,
especially when they are so young, is beyond cruel. The guilt, thoughts, and questions about
whether you had done enough to prevent a son from committing suicide would be too much to
bear for most people, but as we saw on Monday, Carlos, the man in the cowboy hat, is not like
According to reports, he talked to Bauman as the lower parts of his legs had been blown apart.
The injury to Louisville's Kevin Ware was minor compared to what Arredondo was seeing.
But unlike Ware's teammates, he did not cry and turn away as an injured man lay helplessly
on the ground. He wrapped a tourniquet around Bauman's leg to stop the bleeding and lifted
him into a wheelchair. Shocked, his face ashen, Bauman was in jeopardy of bleeding out.
Arrendondo reached down and pinched the artery in his leg to help stop the blood from
Bauman made it to the hospital where doctors saved his life, but couldn't do the same for
his legs. Both were amputated, his life changed forever. Bauman and Arredondo lost something
they can never get back. Arredondo lost two sons, Bauman lost both of his legs.
Arrendondo somehow found the strength to move on and focused on becoming a peace activist
and working with families who lost loved ones to suicide. Odds are, Bauman will find depression
staring him in the face. Losing both legs, will be a major adjustment and one that will test his
resolve and resiliency. But he only has to look at the man who helped save his life for inspiration.
I can't help but think how the picture of Arredondo helping wheel Bauman in his chair reminds
me of Dick Hoyt , who has pushed his son through more than 30 marathons in a wheelchair. The strength, character, and heart of Hoyt can't be measured , but his courage and selflessness were immortalized in a statue that was unveiled before the race.
Perhaps, when Boston gets pasts the horrific tragedy that happened on April 15, 2013, they can
add a statue of Arredondo and Bauman to its streets. They are two men, linked forever like Dick
Hoyt and his son. They are a symbol of heart, courage, and perseverance that never should be forgotten.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Boston is like a powerful and addictive drug. It stimulates, energizes, and consumes you.
It's electric every day and makes you feel alive as it enriches all five of the senses. The world-class city is rich in everything: history, tradition, politics, education, the arts, but most of all, sports.
As I've written many times, Boston is the best sports city in the country, bar none. The Red Sox,
Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots have won seven world championships since 2001 and the hockey team
at Boston College has captured three national titles during that stretch. Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, and
Ted Williams have been forever stitched into the fabric of Boston and Fenway Park is the crown jewel of the city as the cathedral of baseball.
Fenway Park was my home away from home for more than a year when I worked at NESN, whose
offices were located just outside of the famous Green Monster. As a sports junkie all my life, I felt I had the greatest job in the world and was like a kid in a candy story, covering sports every day in
I never got to cover the Boston Marathon, but I did get to experience and fully enjoy it. My studio
apartment, which was so small I had often joked I had to sleep standing up, was located at the
epicenter of the city. I walked out the front door onto Newbury Street. If I decided to go out the
back way I could fall onto Boylston Street, which was the home stretch of the 26.2 mile race.
It's an event like no other, filled with smiles, laughter, and often several alcoholic beverages. This
was living, I often said to myself. This was the marathon and Patriots Day, a day like none other
anywhere in America.
It will never be the same after Monday's events. Two bombs went off near the finish line killing
three people and injuring more than 140 others. A perfect day interrupted by evil. There was
chaos, confusion, and mass casualties. The race was intended to honor the victims of the Newtown
tragedy with many of the parents of those small children killed in that horrific event sitting in the
VIP section across from the first explosion. How terrible, how tragic, and how unfair is that?
The Boston Marathon will never be just the Boston Marathon anymore. Like Newtown, it will
always have a story of a great tragedy attached to it. The event was so perfect, so right, and so
very pure. It's a day of a million smiles, which all have been turned upside down by someone or
some group whose goal was death and destruction.
The spirit may be sucked out of this great city for the next few days or even weeks, but it will
recover. As President Obama so eloquently stated, the people of Boston are tough and resilient.
They have dealt with great heartbreak before and have bounced back. This tragedy hurts like no
other. An 8-year-old boy was killed just moments after hugging his dad who ran past his
entire family to complete the race. This wasn't fair. It was pure evil. Pure madness.
Boston is in my blood and in my heart. I have so many great memories from my time living and
covering sports there. It is strong and rich in character.It will take time, but it will recover. The Boston Marathon will never be the same again, but the people of the great city will. They will
bounce back. I'm sure of it.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
years ago. He's one of the biggest human beings I've ever come across. He stood 6'5" and
God supersized nearly everything on his physique. His legs, back, arms, and shoulders
were massive. Bibby looked more like a current NFL defensive end than a former major
league pitcher. His smile, laugh, and personality matched the size of his physical gifts,
making him a person you couldn't soon forget.
I'll never forget shaking hands with Bibby at our first introduction. His hands were the
size of lobster traps, making mine appear to be those of a two-month old baby. Bibby
was one of the few people on this planet who could hold eight baseballs in one hand. I
can hold three. A man with extra large hands can hold five. The sight of Bibby cradling
eight is mind-boggling.
Bibby used those hands and a right-arm that could fire 95-mph fastballs to put together an
11-year career in the major leagues. He tossed a no-hitter and recorded 111 victories playing
for four different teams. Bibby pitched for the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates
during the late 70's and, unfortunately, is pictured in two of the worst uniforms in the history
of the game.
In 1976, Bibby toed the rubber for the Tribe in those hideous all-rust colored uniforms. After
getting traded to the Pirates a year later, Bibby pitched in either all-gold, all-black, or half and
half. Imagine seeing a guy that big in those uniforms, throwing darts in the mid-90's? Scary.
The baseball must've looked like a Tic Tac coming out of those monster hands, rearing back
in attire better suited for Halloween than major league baseball games.
There was a lot of little boy in this mountain of a man. When I played in Lynchburg of the
Carolina League, Bibby was our pitching coach. He appeared as if he never had a bad day in
his life. He was loud, funny, and still ultra-competitive. Bibby threw batting practice to us nearly every day and always made it like he was on the mound in the 1979 World Series for the Pirates.
He moved up in front of the pitching rubber, making the distance to the plate about 50 feet. Bibby would grunt, groan, and try to turn your bat into kindling wood. He always had a big grin on his
face and roared with laughter every time he blew one past a hitter, who was nearly half his age.
When we would be at the mound for a conference with the pitcher, I'd flash back to his days
in the major leagues and laugh at an experience that seemed so surreal. As I kid growing up,
I was a baseball junkie. On Saturday afternoons, I'd always have to find a television to watch
NBC's Game of the Week with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek. I vividly remember a game on
a hot summer afternoon in Pittsburgh back in 1979.
Bibby was on the mound and I recall Gowdy saying, "Bibby is really laboring out there. Just look
at the sweat dripping off the brim of his cap." It wasn't dripping. It was more like a torrential downpour. I had never seen anything like it. I couldn't believe a human being could possibly sweat that much.
I saw first hand just how much Bibby could sweat. It was like a tsunami rolling through the
hills of Virginia. Forget about towels, he needed blankets to dry the sweat off his brow. Ah, but it didn't matter to Bibby, he just had that big 'ole grin on his face, as if he was having the most fun
of anybody that walked the face of this great earth.
That was Bibby, he loved life and never spent a day worrying about the past. That was gone
and he seemed like a guy who always set his alarm early because he didn't want to miss out on what the day would have to offer.
Bibby died in 2010 of bone cancer. He was just 65 years old, yet still just a kid in a large man's
body. In the journey through baseball and life, you meet a million different people, but only a few that you remember or can say had an impact on your life. Bibby was a special man, so large, so
humble, and so full of life. He was a fun-loving guy who just never seemed to want to grow up.
But that was OK. He was Bibby and everybody loved him.
PITCHER BART HALEY AND JIM BIBBY
Monday, April 1, 2013
Bryce Harper is old school. The 20-year old phenom runs hard on ground balls back to the
pitcher and sprints around the bases after crushing 450-foot bombs off them. He plays with
the reckless abandon of Ty Cobb and the all-out hustle of Pete Rose. They could've only wished
they were blessed with Harper's kind of power. I love everything about the kid...except his hair.
In the name of Sid Vicious, what the hell is going on there? In less than a year playing in the big leagues, Harper has showed up with more weird hairstyles than Phil Spector in a court room.
off his helmet for a curtain call and I was like, "What the hell is that? Put your helmet back on
now!" I don't know, maybe I'm behind the times, but this doesn't appear very cool to me. I expect
to see that kind of cut on somebody from the back roads of West Virginia or in the re-make of
"Deliverance", but not a major league player of Harper's caliber.
A week ago, Harper tweeted he was looking for a "rockabilly" barber in D.C. Rockabilly? Really? No, I'm not embarrassed to say that I've never heard of that before, are you? Man, that is one bad cut. You don't think he paid more than $10 for it, do you?
Hey, I realize the kid is just 20-years old and is still trying to find his way, or perhaps, he's just trying
to set a trend and go against the grain (or colics). That's cool. Maybe it's the fact that he's kind of
twisted being a Mormon who was born and raised in Las Vegas. I mean, all these hairstyles would
even turn a lot of heads on the strip, where nearly everything goes, and usually does.
However, in our copycat society, I'm sure every high school baseball player will have this Bryce Harper hairstyle by the end of the week. Remember when Harper graced the pages of "Sports
Illustrated" with his "war paint", which is really just eye-black. It was way over-the-top, but if
you went to a scholastic game soon after that, you probably noticed that 90 percent of the players were wearing their eye-black just like Harper. It was cool to them and they wanted to be just like
Harper is the hottest thing in the game right now and he is setting the trend for terrible hairstyles.
You can probably expect to see this kind of cut in high schools, around the mall, and plastered
all over Facebook in the coming days. In his brief time in the big leagues, Harper's had the "skullet"
traditional Mohawk, "Layers of Lettuce", and a few other styles that people have yet to come up
with appropriate names for.
In less than two decades on earth, Harper's had more hairstyles than I've had in nearly a half-century. It's funny, interesting, and now that's he the best 20-year old player in baseball, worth talking
about. Or maybe not. The way he's going, I'm sure Harper will have plenty of curtain calls
in his career. I just really hope that he keeps his helmet on for the rest of them.
When Kevin Ware of Louisville snapped his leg in two on Sunday, it didn't conjure up memories
for me of Joe Theismann's gruesome injury on "Monday Night Football" back in 1985. I didn't
feel sorry for Rick Pitino when he said he "almost threw up" after seeing the injury. I didn't
really care that teammate Chane Behanan said that he had never seen anything like.
I didn't text or tweet anything to my friends or followers saying, "OMG. Did you see that?" I
am sorry that I didn't feel Ware's pain, or the emotion of his Louisville coach and teammates. I
just couldn't. My thoughts were with the thousands of men of woman of our military who have
come home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without their arms and legs and nobody outside
of their immediate family ever really cared. They certainly didn't receive the love and support that Ware will get from people around the nation in the coming days and weeks.
It is sad. It's really, really sad.
Kevin Ware will not lose his leg and he will be able to walk again. More than 1,500 soldiers
have returned home from fighting wars they weren't really sure why they were really fighting in
the first place, as amputees, their lives changed forever. They will have to adjust to prosthetic
limbs, wheelchairs, countless hours of therapy, and the stares from people who think they are
not really "normal."
And what about the men they fought with, their teammates so to speak? When Ware went down
with his shin sticking out of his leg a good six inches, his teammates scattered and his coach was
too grossed out to attend to him. It was awful. Now, imagine being on the front lines and seeing
the person next to you have his arms and legs blown off by a roadside bomb. There is no time to
get "freaked" out or even call time-out for an injury. And people wonder about post-traumatic
stress disorder. Yes, it's very real.
It is sad. It's really, really sad.
During the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, how many times did you think of the
troops fighting for our freedom and security? Unless you had a friend or relative putting his or
her life on the line, the answer is probably, not much. Many of us went on with our daily lives
and forgot about the sacrifices being made thousands and thousands of miles away. Then these
amputees come home wondering if it was all worth it. If you've read just one of the hundreds
of books written by those who fought in the wars, you know they had doubts about why
they were fighting and questioned if it was all really worth it.
There will a few media members who will be writing today that Kevin Ware put it all on
the line for his teammates and was a true warrior, fighting through the pain to tell his team to
"win the game!" His story will be told over and over, and whether he plays another game or
not, he became a star just because he broke his leg during a nationally televised game. ESPN
will be sure to run a story about his recovery and the impact the injury had on his life, a year
Who is writing about the amputees from the war? Who is even caring about them? Are you?
It is sad. It's really sad.
Millions of people saw Ware break his leg, which really, is nothing in comparison to getting
your legs blown off. There are no reverse angle replays of that coming from Iraq or Afghanistan.
There are no first hand accounts of how somebody's life was altered forever. There will be no
tweets or texts about the courage of our soldiers fighting on as they lose blood on the soil.
There will no super-slo replays showing the bravery and character of young kids who have to
deal with living with carbon-fiber prosthetics.
Kevin Ware's injury was frightening and he showed strength when it came to dealing with the
pain. It should serve as a reminder that there are others who are dealing with a lot worse who
need love and support just like Ware.
Don't forget Kevin Ware. And please, don't ever forget those who sacrificed life and limb fighting
for our safety and freedom.