Tag Archives: Tom Verducci

Good News Friday: So many great stories about the end of the Cubs’ 108-year drought. The 85-year-old man who was a flower girl at his granddaughter’s wedding. And a state senate contender from Calif. makes best political ad of year

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I’m not sure about you, but I’m still kind of exhausted from Wednesday night.

It had to be epic, right? If you’re going to break a 108-year curse, a curse that has survived world wars, the invention of television and air conditioning, and a New York Yankees dynasty that has yielded 27 titles before you got another one, then of course it had to be epic.

You think the Cubs were just going to win a nice, boring, 5-2 Game 7 in Cleveland? Of course not.  It had to drain everyone watching and playing completely, and come down to the very last out with the highest of drama.

Man. That was some freaking baseball game. I don’t know, if you were watching, you could ask for anything more. Huge home runs. Great pitching. Incredible comebacks. A rain delay (because God decided, at 6-6 in the 9th, that neither the Cubs nor Indians were quite ready to win a World Series).

And in the end, a third baseman named Kris Bryant scooping up a slow dribbler, smiling the whole way, and tossing it to first base. And there, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo squeezing the ball in his mitt, then immediately placing the ball in his back pocket for safekeeping, an incredible example of poise and smarts under pressure (seriously, you know how much that thing is now worth?)

I felt happy for so many people when the Cubs won; this was so different from 2004, when the hated Red Sox broke their curse. I was happy for people like Bill Murray and Jeff Garlin, celebrity Cubbies fans, but also for the millions of average Chicagoans who’ve waited their whole lives to see their team win.

As you’d expect, there were a ton of good stories written about the Cubs’ win Thursday, and the Indians’ heartbreaking defeat (is the sting of this loss eased at all by the Cavs’ winning a few months earlier? I think probably not).

Loved this Tom Verducci piece on SI.com, but the story that blew me away was from Wright Thompson, the immensely gifted writer for ESPN.com. He tracked a few Cubs fans on some emotional journeys in the 24 hours before, during and after the game, and his writing is just emotional and beautiful.

Go, Cubs, Go. Sports, man. Sports.

**Next up today, if you’re as sick and tired of all the horrible, negative, nasty political ads and stories, consider this something completely different this election season.

It’s a hilarious and brilliant commercial from a California state senator named Scott Wiener, starring Jaleel White (“Urkel”) , Joe Montana and MC Hammer, among others.

It also features the Huey Lewis song “Hip to Be Square” and a pair of gay dads. Don’t ask, just watch…

If you’re not smiling at the end of this one… your face might be frozen shut. So clever.

**Finally today, a sweet story about a very unusual flower girl at a wedding. Georgia bride Jennifer Briskin knew she wanted her grandpa, Stanley, to be involved in the ceremony somehow. As a joke, she thought maybe he could be the flower girl.

Then it started to sounds like a great idea. Stanley agreed, and except for the part where he threw flower petals at the guests and not on the ground, it all went swimmingly.

“I really didn’t think she was serious for a while,” Stanley tells PEOPLE. “I did hesitate for a while – who has ever heard of something so ridiculous! But Jen was so excited about it. And I’m glad I did it!”

Really sweet stuff.

Good News Friday: Remembering the great Yogi Berra, with a smile. The baby who loves books more than any baby, ever. And the best 100-year-old athlete in the world

Yogi

And a Happy Friday to you; it’s been a good week in that I survived my Yom Kippur fast, the Jets are 2-0, and I’m getting a ride in the Popemobile today (OK not really, but wouldn’t that be awesome?)

We don’t usually start Good News Friday celebrating someone’s death, but you know what? Yogi Berra always made me, and millions of others, smile, and that’s what so many people have been doing the last 48 hours since his passing: Smiling at the memory of all that Yogi did, all that he gave us, and all the funny things he said, over the course of his 90 years.

Picking a favorite Yogi quote is like picking the prettiest mountain or the most beautiful flower: There are just too many options.

I’ve always loved “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” and also, “Hey, Yogi, what time is it?”
“You mean now?”

But there are so many others. There are also numerous instances of Yogi’s innate goodness, his charitable works, and how every single tribute to him that’s flowed in has talked about his humility, and his kindness toward others.

Lawrence Peter Berra was a war hero (he had a part in the D-Day invasion), a 10-time World Series-winning catcher, an incredible hitter, a manager who brought two teams to the brink of a World Series title, and a baseball legend, permanently ensconced in the Hall of Fame.

But maybe the best epitaph for him? “He was a truly nice man.”

I’ve read a bunch of wonderful Yogi tribute stories the last few days, but my two favorites are this one from the brilliant Tom Verducci of SI, and Joe Posnanski’s sweet column on NBCSports.com

**Next up, I really think this is a good news video, even though there’s a baby crying in it. Meet Emmett, the adorable little fella who cries every single time his mom finishes reading him a book.

Emmett loves books SO much, he just can’t handle it, emotionally, when they end.
Love it! He’s going to grow up to love books and probably become a librarian.
Wish my kid loved books that much. These days he just tries to eat the pages.

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**Finally today, meet Don Pellmann. He was born before World War I ended, and he’s still competing as an athlete.

He’s 100, and at the recent San Diego Senior Olympics he threw the shotput (or put the shot, as it’s properly said) more than 21 feet.

He also competed in the high jump, winning a gold medal there (3 feet, 1 1/4 inches) and then broke 27 seconds in the 100-meter dash (not to quibble, but can we really call it a “dash” if a 100-year-old is doing it?).

What a tremendous medical marvel.

“I guess I have pretty good genes,” Pellmann said.

Good News Friday: Superhero window-washers visit sick kids. A tribute to Roger Angell as he enters the Hall. And the awesomeness of whales

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Man, if there’s ever a week where we’ve needed Good News Friday, this has gotta be it.
The world is going haywire. Unconscionable violence in the Middle East. Planes crashing or being shot down on what seems like a daily basis. Iraq in ruins. Civilization as we know it about to end because a gay man is playing with an NFL team (sorry, threw that in there to see if you were paying attention. Godspeed, Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams).

It’s been a miserable news week. But hopefully these stories will make you smile.

And how could you not smile at this? On Wednesday at a New York City hospital, window-washers dressed up as superheroes to entertain the sick children who unfortunately were patients inside.

The hospital staff got in the spirit too, as you can see by these photos. One small gesture made these kids’ whole week, I bet. Watch the video below of the scene…

**Next up, the greatest baseball writer of all time is Roger Angell of The New Yorker. This is pretty much universally agreed-upon, which is rare, because sports fans don’t ever universally agree on anything.

Angell is 93 and still writing, and this weekend he’s finally being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It’s an honor long, long overdue, and to celebrate him, one of the best sportswriters working today, Tom Verducci, has written a marvelous profile of Angell for Sports Illustrated.
It’s just about perfect.

**And finally, this was the coolest video I saw all week. You’ve got to love whales. This couple was kayaking on the coast of Argentina and came upon a whale. So naturally, they got closer and closer, and just watch what happens at around the 45-second mark here.

It’s the whales’ ocean, people. And don’t you forget it!

The Baseball Hall of Fame properly elects no one. Celebrities reading mean Tweets. And Jon Stewart, pissed off about guns

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There are lots of issues in sports that I can see both sides on.
The idea of baseball players who used steroids being elected and inducted into the Hall of Fame is not one of them.

This is a very, very simple thing in my eyes, and apparently in the eyes of a majority of baseball writers who on Wednesday declined to elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa or any other members of the “Steroid Generation” to the Hall of Fame.

I don’t want to hear any of the ridiculous arguments friends of mine, and many baseball writers (including my beloved Joe Posnanski) make to say that Bonds, et. al should be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Don’t tell me “everyone was doing it,” don’t tell me “it wasn’t against the rules at the time,” and most insultingly, don’t try to tell me that steroids “don’t help you hit a baseball.”

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and their juiced-up brethren knew they were cheating to get an unfair advantage. They took steroids, they were either caught, implicated or presented SO much physical evidence of steroid use (Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, I’m looking at you, and those are two photos of Barry Bonds, above, notice the huge difference in head size), and now they will suffer the consequences.

Of course the Hall of Fame has cheaters in it. So we should excuse the 1990s stars because of past misdeeds.

These guys cheated, prospered, and were never truly punished. Well you know what? They don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

And I’ll feel that way until I’ve watched my last-ever game.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated says it much better than I could here.

**And now, one of my favorite features of the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” which oh by the way has now moved to 11:30 p.m., to go head-to-head with Letterman and Leno.
In this bit, Kimmel got celebrities to read, out loud, some of the meanest Tweets they’ve received lately. Warning: Language NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

Pretty darn funny, especially the Tenacious D one.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

**Finally, Jon Stewart and the brilliant “Daily Show” team have been on vacation for a few weeks, so they hadn’t had a chance to weigh in on the Newtown massacre and the gun control debate we (hopefully) are about to have; one positive step was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (who I believe will be the Dem. nominee for President in 2016) announcing strict new proposals on Wednesday).

Stewart took a very strong but reasoned approach on his show last night, keeping the humor to a minimum but laying things out very plainly and simply. I couldn’t embed the clip but please watch it here.

Celebrating two extraordinary lives that ended Thursday, Gary Carter and Anthony Shadid. And some awesome winter photos

I was going to continue with Good News Friday like usual today, but the tragic deaths of two wonderful human beings Thursday forced me to shelve that idea. Each of them deserves to be thought about and appreciated today.

The first death that saddened me was that of Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher for the Mets and Expos. Carter was 57, and had been suffering from a brain tumor.
There’s no way to picture Gary Carter without thinking of his smile. It was enormous, room-filling, and so genuine. There might not have been a baseball player alive who enjoyed the game and showed it more than “The Kid.” He was the cornerstone of the 1986 Mets, and a catcher who played the game with verve, passion and a whole lot of skill for his whole career.

He was mocked, in the media and by his peers, for his “good-guy” persona, and he seemed too good to be true (he even wanted to take his wife on road trips, which in baseball circles is kinda like worshipping the devil).

But Carter was the genuine article, a decent man who enjoyed life and played the game the right way. He will be immensely missed. Two fabulous tributes to Carter I read Thursday night were this from SI’s superb Tom Verducci and this story from my buddy Pearlman in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s video of Carter’s last hit in the major leagues, from September, 1992 with the Expos. The outpouring of love can be felt through the screen…

The second death I mourned Thursday night is a man who was legendary in my former profession as a journalist. To say Anthony Shadid was a foreign correspondent is like calling Einstein an inventor, or Michael Jordan an athlete. For three newspapers over 15 years, most recently the New York Times, Shadid saw the horrors of war up close, reported on them, and then wrote some of the most beautiful prose you can imagine.
So many people in journalism are great reporters. Others are great writers. It’s very, very rare for someone to be both. Shadid went into the worst places in the world and survived, putting names, faces and humanity into the stories of Iraqis, Afghans, and recently, Libyans. Only 43 years old, it is cruelly ironic that after surviving battlefields forever, he died of an asthma attack.

His friend Tyler Hicks, a world-class photographer and with whom Shadid had been kidnapped with last year, carried his body from Syria to safety in Turkey.

Shadid was a giant in the field, and his loss is a great one. Here is a story he wrote to win one of this two Pulitzer Prizes, here is his obituary from the N.Y. Times, and here is a link to some of his other “greatest hits.”

Gary Carter and Anthony Shadid. Two very different men, but both leave an immeasurable hole in the hearts of many.

**And now, a few happy thoughts. I’m on vacation for a week starting today, as the junior high I’m working at closes for mid-winter break (thank you, Presidents Lincoln and Washington for this holiday! The exhausted teachers of America salute you!).

College basketball is getting insanely exciting as it usually does in mid-February; Michigan State got a big win Thursday, my Duke boys pulled another David Copperfield act (seriously, this is the most bizarre Duke team of my lifetime as a fan), and Florida State pulled off another miracle, too. Can’t wait for March Madness.

And here’s a lovely gallery of people skating through the winter. These pictures hopefully will bring a smile to your face, as they did mine. They’re courtesy of Boston.com’s The Big Picture, a site I love and tout frequently on here.