One of the Greatest

Go through life and you always discover people who — for whatever reason — make an impact on who you are.

For me — and for many others — one of those people died this week.

It wasn’t a surprise. He’d been sick. Does that make it easier? Of course it doesn’t. It just makes it more real.

Ironically, I was on my way to a funeral earlier this week when the text came in:

“Lost another great one this morning.”

I froze. And, well, for the first time ever, I pulled over to send a reply message back:

“One of the greatest.”

Many of you reading know who I’m referring to, so a lot of what is to come here won’t surprise you. But to those of you who don’t know this man, maybe the next few minutes you spend here will make you want to say a prayer for the hundreds — and I mean hundreds — of people who are saddened by the loss of this great man.

What made him great? You can ask me, but I’m not sure I can tell you. It was sort of a thing where you just had to experience time with him to understand. Maybe the best thing to say is his greatness was in his commonness — yet he was by no means a common man. Does that make sense? It does to me.

He was simple. He was hardworking. He was honest. He was a family man — having been born into a huge one and raising a great one. He was a proud man. And for what he accomplished in life and how he impacted people, he should be proud. And nothing should make him or his family prouder than the amount of people who are going to pay their last respects to him Friday and Saturday.

A friend sent me a message that said, “so many people that shaped our lives are going to soon.”

Amen to that.

This was a man who shaped so many lives. In such subtle ways.

A man I had such admiration for. Such respect for. Such love for. How could anyone who ever met him not have those three things? Simply impossible.

I just have so many simple memories of him. And, again, that plays into his greatness. Nothing incredible. Just normal things. But lots of them. And all good.

Besides the fact that he’s the father of a dear friend, my connection to him — like many others — was through sports, particularly baseball. I wish I had the chance to see him play because this is a man who was drafted by the Mets in 1962. He was a Yankees fan, but one you could talk to because the only thing he loved more than the Yankees was the game itself. And that’s where we connected. Our conversations were always so much fun. More like arguments, really. Two stubborn Irishmen trying to prove a point — often times the same point yet one person had to ‘win’ the argument.

This man taught me more about hitting in 10 minutes than I learned in 10 years. Too bad it was after my playing career was over. He was a coach at the Little League where kids in my generation grew up during the summer. He coached softball — and that’s where he made the biggest impact on the lives of so many. Teaching them how to play the game. And always doing it the right way. So spending time with him watching others was so great for me. He taught me to see things I’d never seen before. “For God’s sake, Michael, watch the hands. Everything is in the hands.” I can hear his voice to this day. And I know exactly where we were when he said that to me.

But what he really did was help teach me respect for the game. How it should be played. What lessons you can take from it. What value it has besides just runs scored and someone winning. That sort of thing. You know, what’s really important.

And I’m not special here at all. He taught this to so many. Yes, it’s true. He taught them to hit better. Field better. Throw better. But he taught them to play better. To appreciate better. To respect better.

And he started with my friend, his oldest daughter.

When we were in high school, I was the sports editor of the school newspaper, and I wanted to write a feature story on my friend. She wasn’t the strongest, the fastest or the most talented. But her success came because she got the most out of her abilities by working harder than anyone else.

Hmmm. I wonder where she learned that from?

As I was thinking about her dad today, I remembered that I still had a copy of that school newspaper, published Tuesday, February 23, 1988. I knew the end of the story was about her dad. I just had to find it. And I’m glad I did.

These are the last two paragraphs of that story:

She credits her father for helping her along. She says he has always stressed hustle, hustle, hustle.

“He always told me, ‘Give 100 percent. Do the best you can, even if poeple don’t think it is enough. As long as you know that it’s enough inside, it’s good enough.'”

A pretty good lesson, eh?

She learned it well.

And so did everyone else who was touched by this man.

Yes, the text I got earlier this week was true. We have lost another great one.

And nothing is greater than the legacy he leaves behind.


Another Form of Death

So, yeah.

After watching what just happened.

I really got nothin’.

Congrats to my friends rooting for the Giants. And, if you truly are my friends, well, we’ll never talk about this night.


Since We Last Met…

Greetings, one and all.

Glad to be back. The I Got Nothin’ holiday hiatus is over — at least for the time being.

This is just a quick post to let you know what’s been going on in I Got Nothin’ World. More on these topics and others to come very soon. Honest!

Without further adieu, since we we were last together:

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Erin enjoyed her first Christmas (at least we think she did). But, more importantly, at long last, she cut her first tooth!

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Aidan definitely enjoyed his Christmas. The reaction to the toys and other presents is one thing, but the absolute belief in Santa and the reindeer etc, well, to steal a line, it’s priceless.

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The Patriots went 16-0. And, oh by the way, I was there.

Oh yeah, and I met Clink.

That’s all for now, readers! Have to leave you with a little suspense, right?

What else? I got nothin’.


I Had it Half Written.

Wow. What a game.

Patriots 24, Colts 20.

For the first three quarters, I was writing a glowing commentary to the Colts in my head. Why?

Well, my friend KLC and I had a bet. She’s a huge Colts fan. I’m a huge Pats fan. If the Pats won, she’d have to write 400 words on how good of a team they are. If the Colts won, I had to do the same.

Based on the first three quarters of the game, I thought for sure it was going to be me. But, then it happened. Tom Brady, who looked horrible, did it again. Some how. Some way. He did it again.

It wasn’t pretty, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. They won. That’s what matters.

But, man, the Colts. They are good. Good. Good. Even with four guys out, including one of the best receivers of all time. They took it to us early and seemed in control. Maybe they just ran out of gas. Regardless, I think we’ll see them again — and who knows, maybe it’ll be for a trip to the Super Bowl.

So, for now, I’m thankful. And I’m sure KLC is bummed. That’s OK. Her team is fantastic. And everytime our teams play, it’s an amazing game. And I sure look forward to reading about it! So check here and see if she’s posted yet. If not, take a look back later today. One thing I’ve learned, she’s a good sport and loves her Colts. And for a little part of today, she won’t mind loving the Pats — at least for a bit!

What else? I got nothin’.


Sometimes I Amaze Even Myself.

So I’m home waiting for the DIRECTV guy. Oh, don’t worry, he’s coming between 8 a.m. and noon. Yeah, it’s 11:10 right now.

Anyway, the phone rings. It’s my cousin.

“Want to join me at the game tomorrow night?”

Now, keep in mind, when he says ‘game,’ he’s only talking about Game 2 of the World Series featuring my beloved Red Sox. Oh, and the game is at Fenway Park.

“Um, for real? Hell yes,” I say walking to the calendar. “Shit. I can’t. Work function. Wait. Let me think. Give me 30 minutes to figure this out.”

 “Ok, but the ticket is gone after 31 minutes.”

First of all, can you imagine how many people get rejected when inviting someone to the World Series? Like zero.

The problem is, we’re going away this weekend, and there are work commitments Thursday and Saturday night. Now, those of you that know Molly works for me are probably saying, well, can’t Molly cover? Well, she’s already covering Saturday night.

Of course, it’s the World Series. And perhaps the last game of the year at Fenway. And Schilling is pitching. And, it’s the World Series. Have I mentioned that?

I hemmed and I hawed. I called a friend for advice.

And, well, here’s my loyalty problem. I feel like I should be at the work thing tomorrow. It’s a pretty big thing. Now, keep in mind, Molly can handle it. And would if I wanted her to. But I feel like I should be there. So I will.

“I can’t go. I can’t do it,” I said, the words barely coming out of my mouth.

“I understand,” he said.

He understands? He’s being polite. He doesn’t understand. Hell, I don’t understand.

Attention bosses as we get ready for this merit review process, your ace publicist just turned down a ticket to the game of a lifetime because of work. That alone is worthy of a raise.

What else? I got nothin’.


Emptying Out a Cluttered Mind

It’s Tuesday. I’m not sure what that means, really. Just stating the obvious. I guess it means that it’s time to share with you a few random thoughts. So, without further adieu:

It’s a great time to be a New England sports fan. The Sox are in the World Series, the Celtics have their buzz back and the Patriots may well be the best assembled football team ever. These are the glory years.

Two related sports things.

First, Renee and I were never going to have kids. We just weren’t. It wasn’t our thing. Well, that obviously changed with the arrival of Aidan in 2004. Know what else happened in 2004? Yeah, the Red Sox won the World Series.

Well, my loyal readers will know that Erin was born this year — 2007. And, look at where the Red Sox are. The World Series. We are both Sox fans. Have been for life. And, heck, I gotta tell you, if they win this year, that means you can thank Renee and me.

It also means we might have to (at least!) entertain the thought of a third! I mean, Red Sox Nation could be counting on us.

The second interesting thing sports wise is related to my friend, KLC, who just happens to be a huge fan of the team that shall not be named here. Here’s a hint, they were lucky enough to win last year’s Super Bowl.

Well, if you follow football,  you know that November 4 is a huge day. It’s the day when the two best teams in the NFL will play. On the field, you’ll have Brady on one side, Manning on the other.

Off the field, it’s me on one side, KLC on the other. And, based on the results of that game, there will be at least one very interesting blog on November 5. You see, when the Patriots win, KLC has to write a minimum of 400 words about how great of a team they are and how good Tom Brady really is. If for some reason the Colts actually win, then I have to do the same on my blog — post about how good the Colts and Peyton Manning really are.

Should be interesting!

New DVR coming tomorrow, along with a new dish. I’m a little nervous about giving up my TiVo, but Directv doesn’t have a contract with them anymore, so what can I do. I’m sure the DVR will be fine — afterall, it holds 100 more hours of programming than my current TiVo.

I love Pushing Daisies. If you’re not watching, you should. Besides being funny, it has, well, only my favorite Kristin Chenoweth (love her).

Ok, so it’s slipped here and on a few blogs that Bon Jovi is my man crush. Heck, why not, right? Well, I’ve got a new female celeb crush. Maybe crush isn’t the right word. I’m going with intrigue. Who is it you ask? Well, don’t hate me in the morning….but I will say I’m oddly fascinated and intrigued with Kim Kardashian. I know, I know.

I turn (gulp!) 38 in just over a week. Are you kidding me? Thirty-freaking-eight? When did this happen actually? Am I more than half way through my life? These are the things you think about when you are about to turn 38.

And, related to that, I’m going to announce my big plan on my birthday. Time to get the house in order, so to speak. It’s not earth shattering. It’s common sense, and I’m going to rely on all of you to help.

I’ve had two huge customer service sagas in my life lately. I won’t bore you here, but let’s just say I won them both. Let’s also just say that if you ever have to call Verizon customer service, talk to Jackie. I’m sure there are 100 Jackies, but the one I had, well, let’s just say she rocked — and all the Verizon people should know it was her and her alone who kept me a customer. If you know me well, you realize now Jackie should be nominated for sainthood.

Speaking of Jackie, that’s my mom’s name. And, speaking of my mom, it’s clear where I get my sentimental stuff. Just the other day, she hands me a folder of stuff that she thought I’d want to add to this incredible scrapbook she made for me and my siblings years ago.

What was inside? Well, among other things, the first two letters I wrote home from college. Can you believe that? Safe to say I was a naive geek. Excerpts from some of those letters to come.

And, given the spirit of the season, you’ll also soon be blessed with a picture of my candy corn collection. It’s not just any collection, however. Stay tuned to learn more.

What else? I got nothin’.


Of Garbage Cans, Bobbleheads and Old Magazines

So I’ve discovered two cool elements to this blogging thing.

First, you learn a lot about your friends who also happen to blog. And, as a result, they learn a lot about you.

Secondly, you become BFs with others. BFs you ask? I’m making it up right now. Blog Friends. Therefore, from now on, I must be credited each time you use that. Well, anyway.

One of my BFs, Clink, is fun to read. Now she’s younger than me. Dare I say it, she’s a generation behind me. However, she wrote something recently that I felt like I just had to follow up with a post of my own.

You can read her post here.

My point in writing this is to help her understand her fiance’s point of view. And, I’m not just helping Clink, I’m helping all like her. Or at least I’m trying to.

If you don’t pop over to read Clink’s take, and you should, the point is simple: she and her fiance will be merging assets. He has a Patriots garbage can. He wants it. She doesn’t. More importantly, I think it’s safe to say that she doesn’t understand why he would still want it.

That’s where I come in.

It is so much more than just a garbage can. And that might be the hardest thing for Clink or anyone in her situation to grasp.

I’m not even sure I can tell you what it is. But it is oh so much more than a garbage can. In terms of the Patriots, that garbage can represents a lifelong journey as a fan. We were down in the dumps (um, no pun intended, seriously) for so long. And now we are the pinnacle. That garbage can is a part of that. To get rid of it, well, who knows what would happen then.

That garbage can represents hours and hours of hope, loss, disappointment and excitement. I know, you think I’m kidding. But, go ahead. Watch a game with a Patriot fan. Tell me that’s not true. But it’s not just Patriot fans. It’s any fan. Or, should I say, it’s any guy fan.

We (um, guys) hold our teams in highest regard. We want to have symbols of those teams with us — and that’s anything from t-shirts, hats, mouse pads and, well, garbage cans.

The same goes for bobbleheads and even old issues of Sports Illustrated. I’ve got stacks of them. Have I ever gone back to read them? Well, no, who has the time? But, I will get back to them at some point. I mean, you don’t expect me to remember every play from the 2004 World Series or one of the Patriots Super Bowls, do you? Yeah, I know. You do. But, just in case I don’t, I’ve got Sports Illustrated there to help me remember the key moments — and to have them forever in pictures.

It’s like my favorite blanket. It’s a Red Sox World Series blanket. Whenever the feet need a little covering while watching TV, out comes the Red Sox blanket — not any of the others we have. Why use those when I can use the Red Sox blanket?

While I don’t have a Patriots garbage can (attention, Santa), I do have a Red Sox garbage can. Now, of course I don’t use it. Again, not the point. The point is that I have it and that I could use it if I wanted to. This Red Sox garbage can was used early on, but maybe my diryting it hindered the team’s chances? Hey, you never know.

I mean, since I stopped using it as an actual garbage can, they go on and win the World Series. I’m not going to tempt the gods. That garbage can will never be used as a garbage can again.

But, regardless of what it is used for, it’s mine. And I love it. My wife doesn’t say anything about it. She doesn’t say anything about the bobbleheads. Or even the old Sports Illustrated issues.

She doesn’t say anything about that. And I don’t say anything about her shoes.

And that’s the beauty of marriage. Compromise.

What else? I got nothin’.