Having blood on the field has never been easy for me. I'm talking about having family involved in major sporting events. It started with my brother Scott, who broke in to the big leagues around the time I was beginning my career as a sportswriter. Then came my brother Bob, who became a pro soccer coach, eventually the coach of the U.S. national team, as I was having my best years professionally, as a writer for ESPN The Magazine. Then came Bob's son, my nephew Michael, who became a player for the U.S. A key player. It's been overly emotional. I've mostly watched from afar. But last Sunday, I took my wife and son to see Michael play for the U.S. against Turkey. I saw him create a goal with a deft assist. I heard the crowd, many wearing his jersey, chanting his name. And the emotions were amazing.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Each and every one of us has seen a shooting star, someone who comes through our life in a flash and then disappears. In 1987, I took a job as the assistant director of sports information at Harvard University. I was 23 years old. The quarterback at Harvard was a kid from Crown Point, Indiana, named Tom Yohe. We listed him at 6-feet, but he didn’t look more than 5-9. Yohe was a tough S.O.B. who led the Crimson to the 1987 Ivy League title, winning “The Game” at Yale Bowl - a winner-take-all championship game -- on a frigid afternoon. Anyway, I’d heard in the past few years that Yohe went on to produce NFL games on Fox, and was very good at his job. And then last week, I heard he’d passed away at the age of 46. A shooting star, for sure. Rest in Peace.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The New York Times reported the other day that the New York City Football Club will play its first three seasons at Yankee Stadium. The news took my breath away. Not a year. Three years. Three years of trying to weave 16 league soccer games in with the Yankees’ 81-game home schedule. Three years of excavating the infield and laying sod. Three years of playing on a field that would be considered small for a high school game. Major League Soccer has come so far. At its best, it’s Portland, Seattle or Kansas City, with their fans standing and singing. At its worst, it’s probably the New England Revolution in Gillette Stadium or DC United at old RFK. The NYCFC plan was supposed to be about raising the bar for the league in the nation’s largest media market. Instead, it all seems as makeshift as the team’s temporary home field.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
It’s Masters Week. This is the week when I feel that Spring is actually here. The images we’ll see from Augusta do the trick. The azaleas. The green, green grass. The “patrons” dressed in colors that signify the warmer temperatures that will soon be here. And, more than anything, watching the game’s best players work into the evening hours, with enough daylight to carry on. I was lucky enough to cover the Masters nine times, including the one that took place 10 years ago, where Phil Mickelson finally won his first major. Maybe some young fans don’t remember it as epic, because Phil’s gone on to win two more green jackets, a PGA and a British Open. But in 2004, Mickelson was known more for coming up just short in the big events. When his long birdie putt on the final hole fell into the cup, his reputation changed forever.
Friday, April 4, 2014
During my 13 years at ESPN The Magazine I really enjoyed writing about golf. Probably enjoyed it because I was allowed to move my way down the Money List and write about guys who were not flying private jets here and there. Guys like Jason Bohn, Brian Davis, Casey Martin and Paul Casey. One of the best characters I met along the way was Will MacKenzie, whom I met at Q-School in 2005. Willie Mac’s backstory was incredible. A golf prodigy who gave up the game as a kid and became, basically, a snowboard/skate/surf punk, only to come back to the game and become a Tour player. Spoke to Will the other day. Told me about a lot of mistakes he’s made along the way. Basically, blew all his money. Anyway, he’s 11th in the FedEx Cup standings right now with six Top 10s so far in 2014.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Every once in a while I get feisty. Today is one of those days. Stayed up late last night and watched my nephew play his ass off against Mexico. Brought back memories of four years ago. I was in Spain writing about Giuseppe Rossi. We went to lunch with a photographer. A “huge soccer fan.” He starts talking about U.S. soccer. “What the hell is the coach’s son doing on the field?” he asks. Rossi looks at me. I wink. Photographer continues, “I mean, did that kid even play for a good college program?” I catch eyes with Rossi. “No,” I answer. “He didn’t even play in college.” The photographer sits back and says, “I didn’t think so.” At that point I said, “He didn’t play in college. He started playing professionally at 16. Went to Holland at 18. Plays in Germany now in their top league.” Check, please.