I haven’t written about an unsung athlete you should root for in a while, and I came across a great one in the Sunday New York Times.
Jeremy Affeldt is a 32-year-old pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He’s had an OK career, bouncing from team to team, but that’s not really important.
What is important is all the good work he does. He’s involved with so many charities, not just lending his name but his time. Right now Affeldt is helping build an orphanage in Uganda. He financed ballfields in Brazil and Thailand, and helped build a well in Uganda.
Clean drinking water. Such a little thing. Such a big thing.
Listen to this quote from an athlete who so clearly gets it:
“I don’t want to be an American that just sits there and says, ‘I only care about my country; it’s all about me in America,’ ” Affeldt said. “Sometimes, because of what we have — and we’re blessed to have it, I’m not against it, every day I feel very fortunate — we’re selfish. We think of all the problems we have in America, but they’re not problems compared to the rest of the world. So I try to remove myself from that and say, ‘What can we do to help out humanity?’ ”
So many athletes are in a position to help. Not that many go to the lengths that Affeldt does. What a good man.
**I really hope there’s more to this story than this. Because if it’s true… a Danish tourist was on a bicycle in New York City last month when she claims a police officer pulled her over and told her her skirt was too short, that it was too racy for the street, and that she was “dangerous” and a distraction to the drivers.
Because, yeah, New York drivers have trouble with distractions. You have 4,332 distractions every second when you’re driving in NY.
Maybe the cop was just trying a new pickup line. After all, ya gotta figure that eventually the “I’m a police officer, so I can drive as fast as I want” line gets old after a while.
**There really was no way I wasn’t going to love the HBO documentary about Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
It was the tennis rivalry that started making me a fan. It was the summer I turned 5 when the Swedish ice king and the bratty New Yorker with the ridiculous touch on the court met at Wimbledon in 1980. As a little kid I remember always rooting for the bratty Johnny Mac, while my Mom hated his tirades and cheered for Borg.
Until 2008’s Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal clash at Wimbledon, Borg/McEnroe 1980 was considered the best tennis match ever played. Borg won an epic five-setter for his last Wimbledon title, then abruptly retired in 1981, shocking everyone because he was still near the top of his game.
The movie, coming on the heels of two new books about the rivalry, does an excellent job looking at their contrasting personalities and styles, and how each of them suffered “tennis burnout” in the 1980s.
I think the most telling moments come when Borg still struggles, 30 years later, to explain why he stepped away from the game, and when McEnroe talks of how he was diminished without his rival around.
Even if you’re not a huge tennis fan, I think you’d enjoy McEnroe/Borg: Fire and Ice. It’ll be on HBO tonight (June 14) at 8, and Friday at 7.
And if you’re a tennis nut like me, it’s required viewing.