Cole Hamels, Wilmer Flores, and Tom Brady: It’s About Passion!

Passion for SportsWhat sports memory comes to mind when you close your eyes and your 10-years-old? Barry Sanders juking his way for a gain despite being surrounded by would be tacklers; Michael Jordan flying through the air, tongue out, on his way to a slam dunk; Wayne Gretzky streaking toward the net on a breakaway; Albert Pujols slamming another homerun.

Whatever the memory is, it surely brings you joy, pure joy.

This has been an interesting week in sports with two main stories dominating the headlines: The MLB trade deadline and the NFL ruling. Ultimately, this week comes down to three names; Cole Hamels, Wilmer Flores, and Tom Brady.

Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels joined the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 when he was just 22 years old. By 2008 when the Phillies won the teams 2nd World Series since there creation more than 100 years before, Cole Hamels was their best starting pitcher. In fact, he won Most Valuable Player for his performance in the Playoffs and World Series. His accomplishment led to him becoming a beloved figure by Phillies fans.

These days the Phillies are arguably the worst team in baseball. They are severely lacking in overall talent. However, Cole Hamels remains an elite pitcher, and when he pitches, the team’s chances of winning are good.

But he had to be traded or so said the experts.  A top pitcher on a weak team is wasteful. Besides the team needs to rebuild and that is done through prospects, which is what they got in the trade.

Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores is an infielder for the New York Mets. Next week, he will turn 24. He was drafted by the Mets out of Venezuela when he was just 16. In his time in the Major Leagues, he has shown himself to have some skills but is not a star.

Yesterday, it appeared the Mets had traded him. Flores and the fans were under the impression that he would be leaving the team for Milwaukee. Typically, when this happens, the player is pulled from the game, but Flores wasn’t. He batted and grounded out and the fans gave him a big cheer as a show of respect and appreciation for what he had given the team. He took the filed in the bottom half of the inning.

When he did so, Flores had red eyes and moist cheeks. He wiped his nose and lip on his glove, took off his cap and wiped both eyes on his sleeves. Why was he doing this? Well, it wasn’t the humidity. Flores had been crying.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady has been embroiled in a mess since just before the Super Bowl. By the way, his team won the Super Bowl, and it was the fourth time he has quarterbacked a team to the pinnacle of his sport. He also was a sixth round draft choice of whom little was suspected. It’s also been widely reported that Brady has restructured his contract numerous times so that the Patriots were able to sign other players who were crucial to the team’s success.

From the information that has been released, it appears that Brady is guilty of what he is being charged and deserves to be penalized for it. Patriots nation does not agree. The team’s fans are in an uproar. Many have turned into amateur lawyers looking for holes in the report that was released about the incident.

Here’s how a 10-year-old reacts to sports; Each victory is savored, each magnificent play is the greatest ever, and each star player is a hall of famer.

Nobody stays 10 and the pure joy for sports fades even if the interest remains.

You know what brings it back?

When the sport is not only about money and caps and drugs and cheating.

Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter in his last start for the Phillies. The team is 30 games below .500, yet they celebrated as if they had won the World Series. It was the whole team celebrating the game and Cole Hamels for what he has done for them over the years. The passion was evident.

Wilmer Flores was passionate about being a Met. He wasn’t just putting on a jersey prior to a game, he was putting on a Mets jersey which meant something to him. His emotions came pouring out. .

Tom Brady has been the consummate professional. He takes the beating that quarterbacks do and rarely misses a game. He doesn’t boast. He puts on his helmet and gives his all for his team. Brady is still that 6th round pick who has a passion for the game.

We fans want passion from our athletes. We want them to care. We want them to try their best. We want them to celebrate victory. We want them to mourn defeat.

We know money plays into everything that happens in sports these days. But passion must as well.

And when passion is evident in our sports stars, we fans will follow. We’ll remember, we’ll clap, and we’ll support. Just ask Cole, Wilmer, and Tom.

Picture is courtesy of Google Images


Neatness Counts

Neatness CountsI’m a neat freak, and I’m raising an 11-year-old slob. Where did I go wrong?

I cringe at the heap that lies on the rug in my son’s room. It includes baseball cards, Lego pieces, balled up underwear, popsicle sticks, and the first 20 pages from a book that was read into oblivion. Add the half-eaten yogurt that’s turned sideways on the desk, and I feel uncomfortable.

More than uncomfortable.

At least the bed is made. Not well, but made. I insist on that. I have to draw the line against sloppiness somewhere.

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I Killed Summer

I Killed Summer

Photo Credit – S. Bernstein aka Ms. MMK

The alarm went off this morning just after six. And my daily routine began: morning service, breakfast, drive kids to camp, work, pick up kids, work, dinner, hang with kids, and work.

Oh, how could I forget – ensure kids have done their summer work.

Yup, that’s pretty much my daily routine.

You know what that reminds me of? The rest of the year!

Remember when Summer was different? Remember when summer could not come fast enough and it could not stay for long enough?

What filled your summer days?  My summer days changed over the years but all had an element of magic.

My boyhood Summers were full of languid days of stickball, baseball cards, and fireflies. Summer was simple.

Eventually, part time jobs – busboy, cashier, and stock boy – were part of my Summer. But so were swimming pools and late nights hanging out at friend’s houses. Summer was energy.

Then college ended and I traveled during the Summer going to the Middle East and Europe multiple times and there was time spent time out West.  Summer was exploration.

Graduate school years brought more Summers of part time jobs and exploring New York City. Summer was wonder.

Then came the publishing industry and the marketing departments of Architectural and Engineering firms. Summer nights were for friends, dates, and destinations. Summer was socialization.

Finally, there were over ten years as a teacher, and summer meant a part-time job for extra money (if there is such a thing for the middle class). Summer was recuperation.

That brings us back to the present.

I killed Summer. Summer is mundane. It’s the workday grind. It’s the worries of a new business. It’s the concern about bills. It’s the lack of time.

Is Summer done? Are July and August just like February and March save for sweat and brown grass? Turn off the heater, and turn on the air conditioner.

Well, my family and I will go on vacation (budget permitting), the kids are in camp, and bedtime is more flexible. And Summer work is not the same as homework. So, there is some easing of the grind.


I do miss the ease. I miss the feeling that Summer was one long day at the park. Possibilities existed, and if they arose, there was time to explore.

I know, I know. It’s responsibility and adulthood. Most people are in jobs that see little difference in terms of workload during the Summer. For me, however, this is a new phenomenon. I’m in my adjustment period. Don’t worry though – I’ll be fine.

It’s just I Killed Summer, and I miss it. Sighs.

P.S. Which way to the beach? Oh, never mind.

Change, Time, Thought, and Optimism

Change, time, thought, and optimismStream of conscious. I have some thoughts running around my head. Blogging as therapy or at least release. Work it out on the page.

SJ had a sleep away at camp. BR is no longer interested in reading with me at night. And I’m having a birthday.

Where does that leave me? Not going all Patricia Arquette at the end of Boyhood. I drop BR off at camp.

“You want me to walk in with you?”
“You sure?”

So, I watch. I make sure he’s on the curb and others are around. He’s fine. He is. So, I drive away. He doesn’t need me. This is the goal to help your child become independent. Figuring out my role here. Mentioned this situation before. Still figuring it out.

I know are children are always taking steps toward independence. From their first steps till they step out of the house. Yet, this step is more confusing for me. How do I let go and stay involved? I know each this step is the hardest one.

SJ isn’t far behind. Maybe, I’ll figure a few things out when he’s at this stage. Hopefully.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Everyday, I see changes where before things were less perceptible. My aunt’s passing impacted me. Life is made up of days. What am I doing to make the most of mine?

I’ve read a bunch of self-helpish books lately. Well, philosophical might be a better description.

I recently read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbudry. I know it’s classified as science fiction but as well be philosophy. In his look at a futuristic world, he’s clearly exaggerating some points he saw in the world of his day. By the way, the book was written in 1953.

“You can’t shut off the risk and the pain without losing the love that remains.” That’s a line from Human Touch by Bruce Springsteen. It came to me as I was discussing Fahrenheit 451.

People are always in a rush, society is becoming excessively politically correct, everyone wants to just be happy, technology was taking over, and people don’t have interest/need for books.

Those seem to be what Ray was saying. Is it true that some of these ideas are what every generation thinks of the next one? I’m sure parents today could say some of these things about their children.

I wish I had more patience. Is it outrageous to say that every aspect of one’s life is better if they are patient? Maybe, patience is the right word. Sometimes, it’s stick to it ness. Sometimes, it’s acceptance. Sometimes, it’s vision. Sometimes, it’s love.

I’m nostalgic or an excellent whitewasher. I look back at times and my life and think “those were good times.” I can say that about nearly every time period in my life. Yet, if you asked me at the moment, I have no idea how I would answer. Why not just savor the moment in the moment and not wait for some distant time to smile on it? I don’t think you can be happy all the time, but maybe you can see good all the time, or at least most of it.

I think people can change. It would be depressing to think people can’t change. Maybe, some are more capable and to greater degrees. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s been some study about it. There’s studies conducted on everything. Anyway, when I’m not in a good mood, I think things are fixed, unchangeable. When I feel like I can fly, I’m sure things are possible.

The realist in me is screaming that you have to have your feet planted if you hope to move forward. You have to dig in and be willing to work.

Okay, I think the two are reconcilable. Digging in and flying. While you are striving to do whatever it is you are striving to do, a part of you has dig in and be ready to do what needs to be done.

One of my favorite biblical figures is Aaron. It is said that he lit the ceremonial candles everyday (other than the Sabbath, I suppose) and he did it with equal enthusiasm.

Wow! Bringing enthusiasm to your task, to your everyday, even if it’s seemingly mundane or repetitious – can you imagine?

Greatness can be reached in any task.

If you’ve read till here – thanks for sticking with me. This has been fun. I hope you’ve gotten something out of it. I hope something made you think. Let me know what it was. That includes you to, Ms. MMK – even if you’ve heard these things before.

P.S. One of my favorite complements I ever got while teaching was from J. She said, “Mr. B, you make my head hurt.” We were reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I was going into some deep thoughts, and I could see J. thinking, contemplating, turning things over. Love it!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay