By Eddie Mayrose
Jeter Chases Gehrig
Anytime a Major League player is mentioned in the same sentence as Lou Gehrig, he’s accomplished something significant. In Derek Jeter’s case, passing Gehrig as the all-time hits leader of the New York Yankees is an achievement that should be listed somewhere near the top of his Cooperstown resume. For this record, or any like it, to stand for seventy years and survive the many, great players that have been part of Yankee history makes it that much more special when it finally falls. To have it eclipsed by the team’s most popular player is simply an added gift for the fans as they get to share the moment with their hero; something apparently lost on Yankee broadcasters convinced that the attraction is not Jeter’s assault on the record but their description of it, instead.
The pre-game soliloquies, (Whatever happened to, “Hi, this is Frank Messer and welcome to Yankee baseball.”?), the silly stats and the wink-wink, “I spoke to Derek”, nonsense that seems to have become a competition among the broadcast crew, has grown more and more tiresome as the shortstop has struggled to get the last few hits he needs. And can you imagine the over-the-top silliness that Sterling has already come up with for the record breaker? How about just letting the fans enjoy Jeter without getting in the way?
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Read this week that Eric Mangini still hadn’t announced his starting QB for the Browns’ opener on Sunday and started to respect Rex Ryan a whole lot more.
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Next time you hear someone start whining about how today’s athletes just don’t care, that money is everything and team loyalty is a thing of the past, mention Carlos Beltran. Out three months with a bone bruise that hasn’t completely healed, Beltran came back to a Mets’ squad so devastated by injuries that many advised the center fielder to shut it down for the year.
Or Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford; reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He spurned the millions that awaited him in the NFL in order to return to school and join his teammates in their quest to win the National Championship that they just missed last season. Pundits were criticizing Bradford’s decision this week after he sustained a shoulder injury in Oklahoma’s opener. As if a guy who thinks team first isn’t already above their criticism.
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Denver Broncos: Tough Love?
Strange coincidence in Denver where WR Brandon Marshall, suspended indefinitely for insubordination, redeemed himself in his coach’s eyes just in time for the season opener.
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It’s a sorry September in Major League Baseball as only one of the six divisions has even a sniff of a pennant race. Despite Bud Selig trying to sell me on the Wild Card, I’m not exactly flipping to Sportscenter to find out how the Red Sox and Rangers did.
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September 11, 2009
Eight years ago, just prior to the kickoff of a freshman football game between Xaverian High School and Xavier High School, the captains from each team proceeded to midfield. The pregame ritual seemed as mundane as every other coin toss; eight kids who’d never met greeting officials and opponents they probably wouldn’t recognize an hour later. Until one of the Xaverian captains, the smallest actually, reached across to the Xavier side. “We’re really sorry about your coach”, he said. “Thanks, man” came the reply, “thanks a lot.”
Almost two months earlier, on September 10th, a whole new world opened up for those kids as they started their high school careers. The next day brought a whole new world for all of us. While football became a refuge for the Xaverian freshmen; their safe haven from the sadness and fear, it was a daily reminder of both for the Xavier kids who’d lost their coach in the World Trade Center attacks. And now, just before a game that was as much a neighborhood rivalry as any they would ever play, these young boys took a second away from the sport to address their grief.
I thought about that game when I saw that the two schools would open their Varsity seasons against each other tomorrow night, September 11th, at Aviator Field in Brooklyn. I remembered how I felt back then; that there would never be a time that I’d enjoy anything on that day. I thought about those high school freshmen; college grads now, and how they managed to find their way through those terrible times. Finally, I thought of how often since that horrible Tuesday morning I’d been told that the loved ones we lost would want us to enjoy our lives. That, to do so, would honor the rescuers whose sacrifice was made to preserve that freedom. Maybe, after eight years, it’s time to let that advice sink in.
So, I’ll be there tomorrow night because, after all this time, it’s where I think I should be. It’ll be my tribute to those we lost, those we didn’t and those overseas fighting to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again. And I’ll carry those eight young football players in my heart; grateful for the example they set on that autumn afternoon. Thoreau once wrote “All men are children”. But, on that day, children were men.
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Happy 19th Birthday to one of LaSalle University’s finest, Ryan Mayrose.