Tuesday, May 24, 2016


The family of Tony Gwynn filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tobacco industry
Monday. The Hall of Famer died in 2014 at the age of 54 because of salivary gland cancer
which was most likely caused by Gwynn's 31 years of dipping smokeless tobacco.

Every day for 31 years he put poison in his mouth.

Gwynn knew the dangers of tobacco. Knew it could cause cancer. Knew it could kill him.
It did. Now his family wants someone pay for his death.

I respected Gwynn as a player and person. He was a good guy and "Mr. Padre". But I'm
not a fan of his family going for the money grab.

Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets turned 43 years old Tuesday, one day after shutting
down the Washington Nationals on one run over seven innings. Colon has become a cult
hero around baseball, especially after hitting his first career home run in early May against
the San Diego Padres. 

Colon has 222 career wins, which is more than Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. The big fella
was busted for PED use a few years ago when he was with the Oakland A's, but people
seem to have given him a pass because he is far more likable than say a Roger Clemens or
Barry Bonds who never failed a test but have always been under the jet black cloud of
suspicion since the Steroid Era.

I guess it all depends on who you are.

Ichiro has been seemingly lost in the large shadow cast by Colon, the oldest player in
baseball. However, the Japanese superstar who is 42-year-old and just five months younger
than Colon, is starting to make people take notice. Ichiro had four hits for the Marlins
Monday night, raising his average to .417 for the season.

Ichiro is now just 40 hits shy of reaching 3,000 in his MLB career. Ichiro, unlike Colon,
is a fitness fanatic who keeps himself in terrific shape and it's paying off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


May 17, 2016.

Today marks the eighth anniversary of my father's death. Anyone who has lost a parent
knows the tsunami of emotions that flood one of life's most difficult, yet enjoyable days.

The memories of my time with my father blitz through my mind like a slickly-edited
highlight package on ESPN. The smiles, laughs, and cherished moments come to life and
there is there is that hope my dad will come around the corner with that big smile
on his face and give me a big hug, which he did almost every day of my life.

It feels like that dream that is so good, and so real, but then you wake up and realize that
wonderful moment that weaved through your mind in a deep sleep, will never happen

However, nobody can take away those moments and times I shared with my dad. They
are etched in my mind and soul forever.

One thing that will never get washed away are the great acts of kindness by the many
people who helped my father during the last five years of his life when he was suffering
from Alzheimer's disease, the wicked thing that robs a person of his mind and memory.

Alzheimer's disease not only changes a person inflicted with it, but often changes the
way people treat them. I spent a lot of time with my father during his last few years,
taking him to his golf club where he was loved and well-respected. My dad was a
funny man with a big personality. He loved life and the Westchester Country Club was
one of his favorite places to be.

However, I noticed after my father was in the grips of Alzheimer's, some of his friends
really didn't know how to react to him. I reckon some of them just wanted to remember
him for who was during all the great times and shied away, which stung me a lot more
than it hurt my dad.

I understand. There is no manual on how to treat someone with Alzheimer's. Some people
can be uncomfortable, others can be shallow, some can act like nothing ever happened.

But there was nobody like Jack Graham, my dad's best friend. He treated my dad not
only like who he had been, but who he was at the time. They had been golfing buddies
and friends for almost 40 years. Graham, who is still going strong at 94-years-old today,
is a man of impeccable character, integrity, and honor. He had Hollywood good-looks and
the most down-to-earth, humble personality few men have ever been blessed with.

My dad had a lot of friends at the club, but none like Jack Graham. My dad knew
he could always count on Graham in the best of times on the course and found out,
Graham would be there through the worst of times, off it. When dad was suffering
from Alzheimer's, Graham was always there for my him.  He would often come over
and pick my dad up and take him out for lunch, putting a big smile on his face.

At that point, Alzheimer's didn't always allow my dad's speech to be in sync with
his mind and flowing conversations were often difficult. But Graham was incredibly
patient and made my dad feel comfortable and loved.

That is Jack Graham.

His friendship is  unconditional and his care for my dad was unforgettable. He is the
definition of a "best friend".

In many ways, I grew up with Jack Graham. When our family was in the process
of moving from Chicago to New Canaan, CT. before my sophomore year, Graham
welcomed me into his home so I could have a place to stay during summer football

When I tagged along with my dad during his rounds of golf at WCC, I'd often
ride in the cart in-between my dad and Graham. He was as humble on the course as
he was off it. A great athlete who starred on the football field for Boston College,
Graham was an excellent golfer. I'd ask him what he shot after a round and he'd
often say, "I'm not sure. But I hit some good shots." I'd look on his scorecard and
the number of shots would always be in the 70's.

As great a golfer Graham was, he is a better man and person. You'd have to search long
and hard to find anyone to say a single bad thing about Graham. He is beyond reproach
and as pure as they come.

I will never, ever forget how Jack Graham treated my dad through the tough times.
He was so kind, so caring, and such a great friend to my father.

My dad loved Jack Graham.

So do I.

Thank you, Jack Graham. You are the best friend my dad ever had.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


''It's never too late to be what you might've been."
                                                          George Eliot

On March 20, Mat Orefice walked onto the stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse to make
his comedic debut. He had taken a eight-week course to prepare for this moment, but in
reality, it was more like 47 years in the making.
"I have been a stand-up comedy junkie since I was seven," said the 1979 graduate of
New Canaan High School. "I always scoured the TV Guide looking to see when Steve
Martin, George Carlin, or Flip Wilson would appear on Merv, Johnny, or the Michael
Douglas show.
The TV Guide? That went out long before the Rubik's Cube, acid-washed jeans, and the
Sony Walkman. At 54-years-old, Orefice knew he wasn't getting any younger, so in
January he decided to go after his dream.
"I just never had the guts to try it myself," said Orefice. "But I made a resolution
to toughen up and go for it. That, and I was waiting for my parents to die to avoid
disgracing their good names," he said jokingly.

If Orefice was nervous, he certainly didn't show it. He was relaxed, confident, and
downright funny as he entertained the lively crowd. At 6'6", Orefice is an imposing figure
and with a last name like his, there is enough material to bring down the house.
"Yeah, my dad's name really is Dick," he said. "Some things just write themselves."

Everyone who saw Orefice's stand-up debut posted on Facebook wrote complimentary
things about their friend's performance. They weren't just being nice, they were being
honest because Orefice has some real talent to make his own mark in the industry even
if he is just a rookie.

"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago," the Fairfield resident said. "The second-best
time is today." Orefice added. "I try to put fear in the backseat so I get to drive the car.
And I'm a notorious late-bloomer, so this stuff isn't totally out of character."

No, it most definitely is not.

Orefice had another obsession growing up: punting a football. His hero was Ray Guy,
the Hall of Fame punter of the Oakland Raiders. In middle school, Orefice competed in
the annual Punt, Pass, and Kick competition and spent hour after hour booting footballs.

He never punted a single one for New Canaan High School because as Orefice puts it,
then-coach Harry Shay didn't want anyone on the team "who would just stand around
to kick and punt."

After graduation, Orefice headed to SMU, which was on the cusp of building a national
contender, thanks to a lot of $1,000 handshakes, flashy sports cars, and two spectacular
running backs named Eric Dickerson and Craig James. Without punting a single football
in high school, Orefice thought it was time to chase a dream.

"I tracked down the special-teams coach (Jeff Kohlberg) in the fall of ’80 to ask for
a tryout," he said. "I punted barefoot, but stopped and put on cleats soon after it got cold."

Orefice got to walk-on, but the coaches would often try to make him walk-off with
killer workouts that were not meant for the faint of heart.

"I had never lifted weights or done sprints before and I would be so sore and barely be
able to walk for two weeks, but I stuck it out," Orefice said.
Orefice ended up sticking it out for three years and there were perks that came with
his perseverance. The Mustangs won bowl games, competed for conference titles, and
while he didn't receive any $100 handshakes from boosters, because after all, he was
just a punter, Orefice got an all-access pass to one of the country's best football

"Coaches gave us the keys to Texas Stadium where the Cowboys played because they
figured if we were going to punt footballs around, we might as well do it where we played,"
he said. "We'd do pretty much whatever we wanted at Texas Stadium."

Even in today's game, kickers and punters aren't thought of as 'real' football players
who get their craniums busted up every day in nutcracker and Oklahoma drills designed
to 'toughen' players up, and back in the early 80's, the punter from New Canaan
didn't get special treatment from one the team's most special players.

"My locker was right next to Eric Dickerson's for three years and he always used to
say to me, 'Man, you are NEVER sweaty,' recalled Orefice.

The NCAA eventually caught up to the "cash-and carry" scandal and put the program
on probation during Orefice's junior year. A few years after Orefice graduated, the
NCAA gave SMU the 'death penalty', shutting down the football program.

"Was it deserved? Yes. But it was devastating and the program is still feeling the effects
of it today," he said.

Today, Orefice is the founder and president of Wordplay Inc. He is married with
two children and still plays drums and writes songs for a band called, "The Zamboni's."

Orefice is also a stand-up guy, one with unlimited potential and enough time to
be who he still wants to be.


One day isn't long enough to honor the women who mean everything to us.

There isn't enough space on a blog or page to contain all the superlatives needed to
describe our mothers.

No chocolate is sweet enough to match the contents of the most important person in our

There isn't a bouquet of flowers or gift, no matter how expensive it is, that can match
the real value of those we call "Mom".

Charlene Devlin is my mom. The most important person in my life, as well as my brother,
Patrick, and sister, Kara.

She is more than just a mom, though. She is our best friend, confidant, cheerleader, and
inspiration. She has been the walking, talking, and living manual on "how to be a great
mom" for my sister, Kara. My sister observed, took great notes, and now embodies
everything our mom is all about.

My mother has always lived by her own "Golden rule." She does everything for everyone
else and never asks for a thing in return. Never.

She's never been in a bad mood. If she has, we have never seen it. Ever.

Mom has held us up, calmed us down, and always steered us in the right direction. Her
moral compass is perfect, unquestioned, and guides us for every decision we have to make.

My mother was blessed with many gifts: beauty, sense of humor, and great personality.
But her greatest gift is a heart of gold.

When her husband of nearly 50 years, and our dad, got Alzheimer's, one of the most
dreadful diseases, mom became his caretaker 24/7. It could have broken her, but she
remained strong, determined to give everything back to the person who gave her such
a wonderful life.

With her six grandchildren, mom has, in a way, gotten to be  a mother all over again,
getting to do what she does best: giving joy and happiness, not to mention an endless
barrel of gifts to them. Every day is Christmas to my mom and she always wants to
play Santa.

I can go on and on and on about what mom has meant to all of us, but it still won't
do her justice. I can only say, "Mom, thank you for being you, the best mother anyone
could ever ask for. I love you."

Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I grew up with ABC's Wide World of Sports. No matter where I was in the house, I always
rushed to the television set on Sunday to hear Jim McKay utter the words he made famous:

                                       "The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat"

As soon as McKay said "agony of defeat..." a ski jumper had the mother of all wipeouts,
losing his balance close to the end of the ramp, knocked unconscious, and seemingly headed
for the valley of death.

That image and those words became etched in my memory when I was a 6th-grader, the point
in my life where I knew exactly what I wanted to be: a sportscaster just like Jim McKay.

I'd eventually fulfill my dream of working in sports television, but as I moved through the
ranks and wound up in great cities like Boston and Atlanta, "the thrill of victory and the
agony of defeat"  became less and less important to me. I quit rooting for teams when I
was 16-years-old and my favorite teams were only the ones I was playing for.

As I became more of a grizzled veteran as a sports anchor, the scores became just something
I had to givefor those fans anxiously awaiting for them. (Yes, this was long before the
Internet provided everything instantaneously.)

The human drama became my fascination. I was near-obsessed with telling how athletes
overcame obstacles and adversity to find success in high school, college, and professional
sports. I loved bringing the emotion of it all to viewers, giving the blood, sweat, and tear
count of the athletes, and the sacrifices they made to achieve their dreams.

When I was perusing all the pictures of Monday's Boston Marathon, there was one that
jumped off the page and encompassed everything I love about covering sports and the
human spirit.

Jeff Bauman, who had his legs blown off in the marathon bombings in 2013, was captured
by a photographer embracing his wife, Erin, who had just crossed the finish line.

What a powerful photograph. What a tsunami of emotions.

Erin was running in the 2013 Boston Marathon but didn't get to finish because two homemade
bombs rocked Boyleston Street, just before the finish of the 26.2 mile race. People died,
lives were forever shattered, and Erin's boyfriend at the time, lost his legs--and nearly his

The photo of Carloa Arredondo, who became known as the man in the cowboy hat,
rushing Bauman to the hospital while holding an artery in Bauman's leg so he wouldn't
bleed out, became the iconic photo of that terrible event.

Like the skier wiping out on the Wide World of Sports, it's one that I will never forget.
It's become part of the fabric of the Boston Marathon and helps define the city as tough,
courageous, and caring.

The photo of Bauman and his wife is another one that has been seared into my memory.
There is Jeff, with two titanium legs, sharing a moment with his wife who finished the
marathon in just under six hours without even training for it.

The picture illustrates love, strength, resolve, and most of all solidarity. It shouts out
loud that no matter what happens to us in life, we can never be broken. Everybody else
may move on and forget about us until next year, but we will always have each other,
no matter what.

It says we are Boston Strong. Terrorists can try to attack and disrupt us, but they will
never get the best of us. This is our city. They can take away my legs, but I am stronger
than their strength.  

Most importantly, the picture says, don't feel sorry for us. We are OK. Our lives have been
changed forever, but we are changing it for the better.