In 2009 Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo started the team’s first ever H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week. The idea was to spotlight unsung heroes who donate a lot of time of their time to help those less fortunate than themselves and don’t seek any glory in return. It has quickly become the gold standard in the area of Major League Baseball community relations.
To his credit, Jason Zillo has dug deep over the years to bring awareness to illnesses and adverse situations that few know anything about. A good case in point is last Friday when the Yankees saluted Derek Kilpatrick who attends PS 194 in Whitestone and raised over $16,000 to assist young sufferers of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Derek’s older brother, Taylor, had this unfortunate condition which means that even the slightest touch (even clothing on skin in some cases) can cause severe burning sensations and other sharp pains.
According to their mom, Denise Kilpatrick, RSD can occur from trauma but it should be noted that the occurrence may not seem very traumatic at the time. Although it’s certainly not common, a stubbed toe or a paper cut can trigger this incessant piercing pain.
The good news is that RSD can be reversed. Thanks to physical therapy and medicines, Taylor is feeling like his old self and will be playing on the Holy Cross High School varsity football team this fall according to his mother.
The last two completed Mets series gave ample fodder to both gloomy pessimistic and rosy-eyed optimistic fans.
On the downside, the Mets dropped two out of three last week to the San Diego Padres, a minor league team masquerading as a big league squad. One of the losses was a 6-5 loss in which the beleaguered Mets pitching staff turned a 5-1 lead into a 6-5 loss. Adding insult to injury, the Mets had the bases loaded with no one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and in Charlie Brown fashion couldn’t geta run in.
From a happier perspective, the Mets won their first series in Pittsburgh in five years this past weekend. Matt Harvey won his second straight decision and looked like a reasonable facsimile of his old self. In spite of Yoenis Cespedes’s continued absence due to a quad injury, the Mets kept hitting thanks to the continued hot offense of Jay Bruce and the revival of Curtis Granderson’s bat. It should be noted that Grandy always hits better as the temperature rises.
The Mets need to get better production from their atrocious bullpen particularly in light of closer Jeurys Familia being lost for in all likelihood the rest of the season recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from his shoulder. The team’s record in one-run and extra-inning games has to dramatically improve or they won’t finish near .500 let alone smell the post-season.
There are some fun new additions for the libraries of Yankees fans.
Longtime official scorer and sports journalist Howie Karpin has penned “So You Think You Are A Yankees Fan” (Sports Publishing). Karpin is a natural storyteller and nicely intersperses stats and records with his recollections of players and Pinstripes folklore.
Former Daily News Yankees’ beat writer Mark Feinsand compiles a wish list in “The New York Yankees Fans’ Bucket List” (Triumph Books) as he urges them to visit other American League ballparks and points out their amenities as well as paying their respects to the Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra Museums. In a nice addendum Feinsand recalls Derek Jeter’s appearances on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and how the Yankees, particularly George Steinbrenner, became a plot staple of “Seinfeld.”
Billy Sample played nine years in the majors including one with the Yankees. He vividly and humorously recalls his 1985 tenure with a self-published paperback, “A Year In Pinstripes.” Billy gives a player’s perspective with respect to disputes with umpires as well as guessing when pitchers are and aren’t throwing at hitters. It’s fun to see names as Andre Robertson, Richie Zisk, Marty Bystrom, and Joe Cowley in print again. The years really do go by too fast.
Victor Cruz showed a human side when he expressed pent-up frustration during a radio interview last week at how the Giants treated him last year. Cruz was one of the best wide receivers ever to wear a Big Blue uniform but the combination of injuries and the rise of Odell Beckham, Jr. made him expendable.
As good a wide receiver as he is, Cruz is a better businessman. He has collected endorsement deals over the years with the likes of McDonald’s, Cadillac, and Johnson & Johnson. When I spoke with him at the Thurman Munson Dinner last February I asked him if market size would affect his decision about who is next NFL employer would be and he concurred that it would be a factor for him. By that yardstick, Cruz did well by signing last week with the Chicago Bears.
The sports journalism world lost a literal and figurative giant on Memorial Day with the passing of Frank Deford. It is not hyperbole to state that Deford helped establish Sports Illustrated and he added gravitas to HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” where he served as a correspondent. A new generation learned about him from his commentaries on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” from which he ironically retired just last month.
Dating is always a rough sport that fascinates all of us. It’s not a surprise that Fox Broadcasting scored high ratings last Thursday night with the debut of the revival of “Love Connection” with Andy Cohen serving as host.
The impish Cohen, who is known for his Bravo reality series and for hosting “Watch What Happens Live” on that network, is great at coaxing conversation from the parties who were on the date but I preferred the more low-key style of original “Love Connection” host, Chuck Woolery.
There was no social media or even much of an Internet when “Love Connection” first aired in the lat 1980s. It was fun for the audience to eavesdrop on a date and learn how the action, or lack of, unfurled. On the new edition, selfies during the date are an actual show requisite along with too many other bells and whistles.
Satellite radio’ s Sirius XM ‘70s on 7 station used the Memorial Day weekend for a “remembering the songs we almost forgot” promotion. While it was fun to hear Looking Glass’s “Jimmy Loves Maryann,” Three Dog Night’s “Out In The Country,” Starbuck’s “Everybody Be Dancin’,” and the O’Jays’ “Living For The Weekend” again, the three days served as a reminder of the lack of depth on the station’s regular playlist. After all how many times can you hear “Hotel California,” “YMCA,” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Crocodile Rock,” and “Night Fever” without getting bored?
Thomas Breads, the baked good giant that is famous for its English muffins, always comes up with new flavors whenever there is a change of seasons. It just started making S’Mores lines of English muffins and mini-bagels to give consumers a taste of campfire marshmallow memories that they had as kids. They will be available until around Labor Day.