Wednesday, September 24, 2008

161st and River Avenue: Where I Fell In Love

After the lights were shut off for the last time on September 21st, 2008 in Yankee Stadium, many have reported and reminisced on the history of the historic stadium. It's been written and talked about everywhere. The perfect games. The legendary players. The Papal visits. The football games. The big fights. The world series games. Yankee stadium was the stadium.

And like many, yours truly will be sad to see the stadium at 161st and River Avenue go. It was a place that I too grew up with.

There were many, many games in the early nineties watching a putrid Yankee team, yet rooting for my favorites in Mike Stanley, Jimmy Key and my main man, Don Mattingly.

There were many arguments of how much the Yankees were going to miss Roberto Kelly (Only to be replaced by some guy named Paul O'neil).

Getting excited about Kevin Maas.

Experiencing Derek Jeter replacing Tony Fernandez...and watching him grow over the years.

Accepting that Kevin Maas was not the guy.

The surprise of the 1995 season where it was, "Hey, I think we're good" turning into the magical 1996 season of, "Hey, we can win this."

The dynasty years of struggling to find tickets. Yet, feeling like whatever seat in the house it may have been, it was all worth it to watch Bernie, Tino, Jeter, Pettitte and Posada with Mo shutting the door.

Losing our voices, and butchering Sinatra's "New York, New York".

The many birthdays, friends, family and myself, celebrated at the stadium.

Jeter's 2,000th hit.

The smell of grass and hot dogs mixed with the sight of blue, and the sound of obnoxious new yorkers all blending for the perfect atmosphere.

And the thousands of other memories that are currently slipping my mind due to the flood of joy running through my heart.

Nonetheless, most importantly, I will miss the stadium because it was the place where I learned and fell in love with the game of baseball.

Although, I will never be able to experience the chills of walking through that blue tunnel and seeing that big green field again, the memories, and influences that Yankee Stadium has had on me throughout my life will never fade away.

Yankee Stadium 1923 - 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quit Playing Games: 2008 Candidates For U.S. President

With all the problems that face this great nation moving forward into a new presidency, Monday, September 15th, 2008, added yet another to the growing list.

Lehman Brothers.

Meryll Lynch.

Never before have financial and investment banks become as popular as they have in the last 48 hours with the United States market and fiscal atmosphere continuing to crumble. An atmosphere that includes a wacked housing market, a shattered credit market, an unemployment rate nearing six percent, a Meryll Lynch buyout, AIG borrowing over forty billion, and The Lehman Brothers becoming another paragraph in Chapter 11, the next presidential regime has as big of a financial problem since President Roosevelt on the heels of the depression.

Oh yeah, lest we not forget Hurricane Ike, the damage that it has done, the cost of relief, and the impact on the American oil and energy refineries.

However, in this race for the White House, we continue to see the typical political "strategies" played out by both Senators, Barack Obama and John McCain.

This has nothing to do with being blue or red, liberal or conservative, a donkey or an elephant. This is about the state of a nation that is in dire need of several solutions on several fronts.

This could possibly be the most important election in American history.

So quit with the political tactics and the constant bashing of your opponent. I do not care. I do not care about bulldogs and lipstick. I do not care about what race or gender you are. I do not care about who's child is pregnant or who's wife said what. I do not care about your age. I do not care about knowledge of your real estate, nor do I care about the sport you play in your leisure time or who's definition of "change" is correct.

What I do care about, is what can you bring to the table to help this country in it's time of need; and how do you plan on solving these problems?

Plain and simple, cut and dry.

How can you help this nation?

Senator Obama. Senator McCain. Please, why don't you both heed the "change" that you both seek, and quit playing politics and start giving us some real answers.

Lady America is hurting, and there is no time for playing games.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Life of Glory: One of Simplicity and Truth

Don Haskins.

38 Seasons with the University of Texas-El Paso.

719-353 record.

Seven Western Athletic Conference Titles.

1 National Title.

With all those accolades, many still know him as the coach from the Disney movie and his biography, Glory Road as well as his famous decision to start five blacks against Kentucky University in the 1966 NCAA Championship game. The title, very fitting for the biography and movie, as Don Haskins led a life of glory: One of simplicity and truth.

Haskins was a man of respect, honor, and integrity as he represented and expected the same qualities in and from others that he held for himself. He did so without discrimination of gender, color, race, creed, nationality or anything else society attempts to divide itself with.

In a time when discrimination and segregation was as thick as the Texas heat he enjoyed, Haskins turned a small school in south Texas into an NCAA powerhouse through hard work, sacrifice, and what was then considered, controversial recruiting - recruiting blacks.

In a time when such an act was considered unthinkable, Haskins recruited all over the United States, and used his pipelines for many inner city talent to fill out his roster. In his biography, Haskins stated that was not trying to make a political or social statement, but was "just looking for the best basketball players."

Haskins did the same whether he coached on the NCAA level, or in his earlier days coaching High School Girls basketball.

He treated everyone equally.

And that was his most impressive accolade of them all.

Haskins, like Jackie Robinson, was a true pioneer in intergrating the sport of basketball through his coaching and mentorship. Often, his work goes unnoticed because of the success of many athletes beyond his time. Nonetheless, Haskins never thought so. In fact, Haskins never liked to talk about himself, his accolades, or his place in history. That's just the type of man he was, which makes him more revered (Biography is highly recommended).

Despite his humiltiy, Haskins not only helped pave the way for a better game today, but helped blacks during the sixties (and all that came with that time) when hope was all there was. Haskins, like Robinson, went through the fire, receiving hate mail and death threats because of his beliefs and qualities. Despite the rough roads, Haskins stayed the course and opened doors for blacks to athletics and education.

All of it because he believed that people were just that - people. Nothing more, nothing less.

He simply treated everyone equally.

And because of that, Haskins paved a glorious road for an integrated sport- a better sport-and a better nation.

Don "The Bear" Haskins (1930 - 2008)