Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Bryce Harper didn't say anything during the home run derby on Monday night, but we learned
more about him than we had ever known. The 20-year old phenom of the Washington Nationals
brought his father, Ron, and brother, Bryan, to take part in the All-Star festivities and they
showed us that style is all in the family.

First of all, watching a father throw to his son on baseball's biggest stage, was pretty special. It
brought back a lot of memories for all of us who grew up with our dad's pitching batting practice
on a local field somewhere across the United States. But as the night and contest wore on, we
got to see a lot more than that. The cameras opened a window and let the world see what a
baseball family is really like. We saw the love, respect, and strangely enough, the style of the
Harper's and it was interesting, to say the least.

There was Bryce with his unique, "Rockabilly",  hairstyle. It's part Mohawk, part something
really strange. But that's Bryce, he has long walked to the beat of his own drummer, setting
fashion trends along the way. Remember the 'war paint' eye black he wore on his face in
high school that seemed so over the top to be imitated, but lo and behold, nearly every kid
around the country was wearing their eye-black just like Bryce. I'm not sure if kids are going
to be running to their local barbers to get their hair cut like Bryce, but one never knows.

I never knew Bryce had a brother until Monday night. His name is Bryan, 23, and he stood
out  last night because of one thing: his handlebar mustache. Yeah, he's gone retro--
bringing Rollie Fingers back into the game. Bryan is a left-handed pitcher in the Nationals
minor-league system and has be the only player in professional baseball with a stache' like
that. I've never seen a kid that young sporting the handlebar mustache. It's definitely unique.

The father of Bryce and Bryan has style, as well. We didn't see much of his face the whole
night because the cameras were placed behind him as he tossed cut fastballs to Bryce. But
after he and Bryce embraced for the final time, the cameras gave the television audience a
close-up which revealed a sole patch! Yep, the old man has a sole patch. Bryce has the 'rockabilly'
hair cut, Bryan has the handlebar mustache, and dad has a sole patch. How cool is that?

In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and iPads, nobody seems very much
into style anymore, but it's clear the Harper family is. I used to think they were all about
baseball and not much else, but I was wrong. They are cool

Monday, July 15, 2013


Our world has seemingly become a more hateful one, fueled by jealousy, envy and a social
media super highway that makes it easy to attack others without fear of repercussion. We
often despise others because of their fame, fortune, or sadly, just because of the way they
look. Some are mocked for acting too good, while others are damned for being far from it.

Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong,, A-Rod, and Manti' Te'o didn't turn out to be the people
we thought they were and they became athletes that we love to hate. Barry Bonds, Roger
Clemens,and Bobby Valentine never made it easy for anybody to like them and since they
didn't appear to care, they were hated even more.

The sports world is filled with liars, cheaters, and even alleged murderers, yet people have
a problem with Tim Tebow. Really?

It's littered with self-absorbed ego-maniacs like T.O., Ochocinco, Dennis Rodman, and
many others who scream out, "Look at me, aren't I great?", even though nobody but their
followers on Twitter seems to really care. Mike Rice fires basketballs at his players, Joe
Paterno looks the other way, and Ryan Braun has a new excuse for the PED cloud hovering,
just about every other day.

And people want to criticize Tim Tebow? Seriously?

I don't get it. The sports world has turned into one giant cess pool and people want to
hate on the one guy who appears to be squeaky clean? Tim Tebow doesn't drink, smoke,
or show up on a police blotter and yet, people love to criticize him. Tebow has been tried
and true and has never wavered from his faith and people continue to bash him. At a time
when this country is yearning for role models who live their life the right way, haters want
to hate on Tebow? Incredible.

People seem to be offended because he's open about his faith, pointing to the sky or taking
a knee to pray to the Lord, but when Albert Pujols points to the sky and says that God told
him to sign with the Angels, it's no big deal. Barry Bonds seemed to do it after every one
of his final 300 home runs, but nobody gave it a name like the "Tebowing" stance, did

The media has tried to bait him, his former teammates on the New York Jets talked behind
his back, and many still hate him. Tebow has just turned the other cheek, choosing not to get
into the pettiness that permeates professional sports and locker rooms. He doesn't call out
a teammate or trash him via Twitter. He's just a stand-up guy who is just trying to do the
right thing and live the way his Lord and Savior, paved the way for him to do. What's
wrong with that?

Oh, sure, Tebow is not a great passing quarterback, or even a good one. You don't have to
be an expert to know he'll never throw a pass like Tom Brady, or even Brady Quinn, for
the matter. But when given the chance, he wins, going 7-4 as the starting quarterback for
the Denver Broncos.

Winning is all Tebow has ever done---in high school, college, and with the Broncos. His
year with the Jets was just a colossal waste as the team had no idea how to incorporate him
into the offense, something Bill Belichick will have no trouble doing this season in New

I read an article last week where Daryl Strawberry, twice re-born and on a whole new path,
said he wished he lived his life like Tim Tebow during the early part of his career. Strawberry
went down the wrong road, filled with drugs, woman, and a whole lot of danger, producing
a lot of deep regrets.

Perhaps, people bash Tebow because they are just envious of the way he has lived his life.
Maybe, just maybe, they, like Strawberry, wished they lived their lives like Tebow. When a
man is stripped of everything else, fame, fortune, and a career, what else is there? Right, just
you and you're reputation.

People hate Tim Tebow for all the wrong reasons. There is never a good to hate, but everybody
has the right to do it. I'm just wondering why anybody would spend any time hating on a person
like Tebow, when there are so many other shady characters in the sports world to choose from.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


The morning after Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope across the Grand Canyon before a
world-wide television audience, Jason Yost performed his daredevil act in front of an audience
of three, including me. who accepted his offer of working on his crew for a couple of days.
What I  witnessed over the next eight hours left me in awe of his talent and vocation, which in layman's terms, is a tree surgeon.

On a sizzling, 90-degree morning in North Stamford, CT., Yost, who was a drummer in my
brother's band during their days at New Canaan High School, had the mission of trying to bring
down a 100-foot tree that was sandwiched between two multi-million dollar homes. With all
the extreme weather in the area over the last two years, the client was worried the tree would
fall on her neighbors home, causing major damage, and with it, a potential lawsuit.

Yost, who is 5 feet and a smidge, and not more than 125 pounds when soaking wet, has been
an arborist for more than 25 years. He is old school, learning the business by trial and error,
and works with equipment that has long been outdated. Think flip-phone versus iPhone.
Imagine the wooden racket of Bjorn Borg against the graphite bazooka employed by Rafeal
Nadal. There is nothing fancy about his operation like hydraulic machines his competition uses
that hoist a surgeon up to his destination in a safe and comfortable bucket.

Nope, Yost scales the tree himself  with a heavy belt strapped around his waist with enough
clips, ropes, and chains to sink a small ship. With a tree that seemed to touch the clouds, standing
not more than five yards from the neighbors yard and a meticulous garden larger than most
people's backyards in his clients, there was absolutely no margin for error. I know what you're
wondering: how the heck do you bring down a tree that size and in that spot without causing
mayhem? The answer is simple: piece by piece and branch by branch.

Yost was like spiderman and a lumberjack rolled into the one. The athleticism and precision
he showed while baking the blistering sun, was simply incredible. The job might be best
described as a controlled demolition or dismantling. Yost would rope a large 'segment' of a
tree then have a worker hoist up a chainsaw on a rope. He'd unfasten it and then slice part of
the tree, and,  because it had been roped already, Yost would control its descent so it wouldn't
go crashing into the neighbor's yard or the client garden. He'd then turn off the chainsaw and
fasten it to his belt.

This process went on for the next four hours straight. No breaks or relief. Rope, chainsaw,
release, and repeat. It may seem boring but it was truly fascinating. Like the speed of the
athletes can't truly be appreciated by watching on television, one can't fully comprehend the athleticism, focus, and dexterity of Yost until seeing him do his thing in person. As someone
who has competed in sports, covered them, and appreciates great athletes, I can say that Yost
was electric when doing his job.

He'd take a break for lunch, remove 25 pounds of  gear, then relax for a little while before
suiting back up and scaling the tree once again. It's kind of like doing a marathon, having a
break to re-group, then going out to run another one. The work of Yost was that tough and

Yost single-handedly took down a tree that measured almost 100 feet in two, eight hour
days that were so hot, you were dripping in sweat after blinking twice. I'm not in awe of
many things these days, but I marveled at the work of Yost. It was simply incredible.

If  it had been broadcast to the world, many people would've found it a lot more compelling
and demanding than Wallenda's walk across the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I turned 49 today. 49 is really not a sexy number or significant milestone like 40 or
50. It's just kind of there. In sports, the number 49 is pretty boring and  never worn by
anybody spectacular. Oh, it's kind of unique in baseball because great knuckleball pitchers
like Hoyt Wilhem, Tom Candiotti, Charlie Hough, and Tim Wakefield all wore the number.

49 meant nothing to me until last week when I reported on a woman bartender who is
exactly twice my age. Yep, double up 49 and you get 98-year old Angie McClean. She works
eight hours a day, six days a week at a bar located on the mean streets of  Bridgeport, CT.

When I arrived with my photographer, there she was in all her glory. And McLean looked like
Old Glory, dressed in red, white, and blue from head-to-toe. She had more than 30 miniature
American flags dotting her perfectly coiffed hair. McLean, is a star, who, after living nearly
a century, has more than earned her stripes. As I got set to interview her, I watched her buzz
around the bar, mixing drinks and serving customers with a smile on her face, and just wondered
to myself all the things she has experienced in her life, one that begin on April 6, 1915

I also said to myself, "This woman is living life. Retirement is a four-letter word to her. She
is 98-years old, working six days a week and has a smile on her face. I love this person."

As McClean settled in behind the bar for her interview, she seemed ready for my first question,
as if she knew it was coming.

"Why are you still bartending at 98-years old?", I asked.

"Because I'm not the type of person to sit around and watch TV. That's not for me," she

Great answer and one that left me saying, "Wow", to myself. I'm just praying I'm still
above ground and playing shuffleboard with my friends at 98, and this woman is loving
life as a bartender, slinging drinks six days a week. Take time to think about that for a second.......

McLean lives by herself and is picked up by her bosses who take her to work and drive her
home after work every night. She dresses up for every holiday. On July 4th, McLean is an
American flag. On Christmas, she morphs into a Christmas tree with all the ornaments.

"Do you ever get tired from working six days a week," I asked her.

"Of course not. You have to keep moving. Life waits for no one. If you stop, it passes
you by," she said matter-of-factly.

Amazing. Perhaps, I was really talking to the sister of Norman Vincent Peale or the
grandmother of Anthony Robbins. She was so positive, so full of life and her energy
was rubbing off on me. I knew I was in the presence of someone truly special. No, she
wasn't a great athlete, movie star, or politician. Angie McLean is just a normal person
who has lived an extraordinary life exactly how she wants to live it.

Less than a week before my 49th birthday, McLean gave me a special gift without even
knowing it. She inspired, motivated, and educated me. Today, I am 49-years old, exactly
half the age of McLean. There is so much of life left to live, so much left to accomplish.

If I become a bartender for the rest of my life that won't be a bad thing, just as long as I
do it with a smile on my face like McLean has on hers every single day. Thank you
for the gift, Angie McLean.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I haven't kept up with the Oakland A's this season and when I saw this long-haired, long-bearded
guy circle the bases the other night, I wondered if general manager Billy Beane had signed one
the ZZ Top guys to a contract in the off-season. Upon a Google search, I discovered it was
outfielder Josh Reddick, who was once a clean-shaven member of the Boston Red Sox.

It seems like beards are in this season in baseball. Not neatly trimmed beards, but those that
haven't seen a clipper, scissor, or razor since Christmas. They are like Chia Pets on steroids, out
of control, but still kind of cool. Perhaps, baseball players are tying to channel their inner NHL players, who follow tradition by never shaving during the playoffs.

Maybe they are just hiding behind their own type of mask, one that allows to play the role of a
character other than themselves. When I see Nats outfielder Jayson Werth, I think Ted Kacynski.
Can you blame me?


During the 1970', A's owner Charlie O. Finley paid all of his players to grow mustaches.
Rolle Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and the rest of the swingin' A's
all sporting them. The mustaches set the A's apart from every other team in baseball. There
isn't an owner in today's game that would pay any of his players to grow full beards, but it
would kind of be cool, wouldn't it?

The Red Sox might be the closest team to pulling it off with Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli,
and Johnny Gomes leading the way. Gomes is one of those guys who have more hair of on their
face than they do on their head. Classic

Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson had the greatest beard in the history of
baseball until injuries forced him from the game. The all-star closer was known simply as
"The Beard". It kept growing and growing, taking on a life of its own, so to speak. If you're
a hitter, how the heck can you concentrate when see all kinds of weird things flying out of
that beard?
But as they say, "Beard today, gone tomorrow." It seems like since Wilson has been gone
from the game, the aforementioned players are battling to take the title of best beard in baseball.
Heck, even Wilson's former teammate Sergio Romo has grown one that rivals that of Wilson.

One thing is certain, on 95 degree days, those fury beards can't be all that comfortable. But
as far as style goes, they are pretty cool.