Monday, March 5, 2018


Let's face it. Our society is reading less and less, unless, of course, the subject matter is on
social media where you can get all the news you can use in 140 characters or less. I know, I
know, Twitter doubled the number of characters to 280 last November but who are we kidding?
Nobody really wants to invest a lot of time and energy reading a lengthy story when most of
us believe we can ascertain everything about it just by reading the headline. 280 characters?
Man, that's like reading an entire book to some people.

When knowledge was indeed power, most of us acquired it by delving deep into books. That's
not the case in this A.D.D. world we live in where we swipe, scroll, and scan 100 stories to
get our information in what seems like 20 seconds or less so we have the ammunition needed
to comment on another ridiculous post about politics, gun control,  or religion, which no one
can possible be an expert on by reading a five-word headline or 140 characters on social media.

Oh, but I'm probably wrong about that since everyone has become experts about everything
because we read a paragraph or less on social media!

Once upon a time, we got our news and information from powerful news sources like the New
York Times, Washington Post,  Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. They were credible,
trustworthy, and home to some of the greatest writers in the world. If something was reported
and printed in those papers, it was almost a stone-cold lock of being true.

Today, a good majority of our society gets a tsunami of news and information from Twitter
and Facebook where very little is ever right and a good majority of it just so ridiculous and
outlandish that most people with a smidge of common sense would, dare I say, LOL.

We hear about endless stories of Fake News, yet, most people still believe everything
they read - especially if it's on the Internet! We often tweet and re-tweet links to an article
without having fully read it, comprehended or figured  out if the body of it is close to
being the truth. Just as long as long as the headline appears to fit our narrative, well, that
is good enough for us.

Several months ago, during the height of the national anthem protests in the NFL which
were ignited by the kneel-down of Colin Kaepernick, there was a story spreading around
social media where the flight crew of the plane carrying the New Orleans Saints all took
a knee, refusing to take the team to its destination as a protest to the players' protest.

The article was fronted by a picture of a plane that appeared to be owned by the Saints,
complete with their name in big letters with the team's iconic quarterback, Drew Brees,
plastered on the side of the 747.

I couldn't stop laughing.

The comments posted beneath the article came in fast, furiously, and were freakin' incredibly

"Yeah, that is awesome. Screw those players disrespecting the flag."

"Every flight crew everywhere should take a knee and tell the players to take a hike."

It was all highly-entertaining only because people were exposed for their extreme foolishness.

First of all, before this season, not a single NFL team owned their own plane. That changed
when Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, purchased not one, but two 767's
to fly his team to and from games.

Secondly, nobody would plaster a picture of Drew Brees on the side of a plane.

Thirdly, the news source was something called the FreakingShun. com. Google the story and it
also comes up on other sites like and

Yeah, those are three very credible new sources. Love it!

I'm sorry. If you want to check the validity of an article, start by looking at the source.
If it's the website of the New York Times, Washington Post, or Chicago Tribune - there
is a decent chance of it being true. However, if it's from some wacky site called Freaking and doesn't have a reporter's name behind it, then it's trash.

If there isn't a single quote from anyone involved in the story - there's a good chance you've
been played. Yes, our society as a whole is reading less and less and we think for ourselves
even less than that.

In the never-ending question to get maximum clicks, standards and credibility of news
gathering operations have taken a hit - even ones like ESPN who have chased the clicks
and ratings by catering to the likes of LaVar Ball, a total buffoon whose only talent is his
big mouth. As for credibility, he has none.

The World-Wide Leader in Sports seems to have dipped into the Fake News pool in an
effort to gain attention or go 'viral' which seems to be ridiculously important in our society
today. In February, ESPN cast their line with the biggest name in sports, Lebron James, who
is a magnet on social media. used a headline saying the King James could be on his way to Golden State
next year if they created cap-room for him. Knowing we are a society that gets hooked by
a headline, ESPN accomplished what they set out to do. They created a huge buzz and
won the Internet that day. Anyone who bothered to read the second paragraph, would've
known the story was pure garbage:

                 "There is no indication that Golden State is evaluation such option to
                   acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time."

So, if there was no indication that Golden State is evaluating such an option then where the
hell did it come from? Lebron? Cleveland? Donald Trump? Good, Lord. Why would anybody
buy this garbage? Simple. Most people just read the headline and ran with it. Our society buys
headlines all the time.

As for me being born a Jewish Muslim? Well, go ahead and believe what you read and don't
bother thinking for yourself, either. You are probably in good company.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


February 10, 2013.

That was the last time I voluntarily drank poison.

For those keeping score at home, that's 1,825 days without alcohol. No sips, shots, or
supercharged funnels at a tailgate before an NFL game. No Jack with Ginger or Tom
with his good friend Collins for five entire years.

My liver loves me and the scale no longer spits out  big crooked numbers that had
me screaming to the heavens, "What the f#*k?!!!"

It's all good. Real good.

When I tell people I don't drink, the usual response is, "Do you have a problem?" And
before I can respond with the smallest negative word in the digital dictionary, I get
ambushed with the, "Are you in AA?" thing.

After ordering a cranberry and seltzer, the bartender gives me the look, the nod, and
asks, "Are you a friend of Bob?"

No, no, and no with an exclamation point.

I realize that's our society. Thinking and almost hoping for the juiciest piece of gossip that
becomes fuel to keep pace in this social-media driven world. Sorry, folks. I never had a

Five ago today, I gave up alcohol along with bread, butter, baked goods, ice cream,
candy, and pizza. Pretty much anything that was poison to the human body, I gave up.

The original plan was to give it up for the Lenten season, which starts with Ash Wednesday.
I was so anxious to clean up and clean out my system, I began my mission the Sunday before

Getting through the six weeks of Lent was a breeze, so I went without some of life's guilty
pleasures for the next 10 months. That's right. No cookies, candy, bread, pizza, ice cream
---and most importantly, alcohol, for almost a year.

I started working out like a maniac, completing seven half-marathons in preparation for
the grand daddy of them all, the New York City Marathon. Man, I felt great. Those early-
morning alarm clocks were like music to my ears. Yep, jump out of a bed for a 10-mile

It's all good.

I wanted to continue my journey without alcohol so I signed up for an Ironman. I more or
less used training for a 140.6 mile event as an excuse not to drink. "Hey, Paul,
you want a Jack & Coke?"

"No, thank you. I'm training for an Ironman. That's a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike
ride, and a 26.2.  Nope, can't do it." Whatever it takes.

Not one, not two, but four Ironman events later, I still haven't had an ounce of alcohol. And I
don't think I ever will again.

Oh, life has kicked my ass many a time over the last five years. Ripped my heart, soul, and a
few other things out along the way. It would've been easy to give in and tie one on, so to speak.
Could've medicated myself to take the pain away for a night and  just forget about everything
for a while.

That's the easy thing to do. With Jim (Beam) and Jack (Daniels) staring me in the face,
ready to soothe my soul and bandage whatever ailed me, I just said, "Whatever,
it's not worth breaking the streak."

(Huge: definitely when I was drinking)

Sure, Peyton Manning can ask me over to drink a lot of Budweiser and hum the
Nationwide jingle, but I'm not going to give in. A Papa John's pizza, yes, because I'm
indulging in that again, as well as bread every once in a while. An ice cold
Budweiser? Um, no.

The streak has become kind of sacred to me. I don't count the days, but I always
remember February 10th as the anniversary. 2-10 is a good number and is just about
what I tip the scales at now which is what I weighed as a senior in college when
I was drinking them big 'ole blue cups of beer at "He's Not Here" in Chapel Hill.

I have friends who've tripled my abstinence streak for alcohol and I sincerely
applaud them. I discovered what they have: alcohol is an unnecessary evil. There is nothing
good about it. 

People can judge me all they want for not drinking. They can think whatever they want,
as well. I do not care one iota.

I never had a problem. Ever. I didn't start drinking until I got to college and regret that
I ever did. It is the single biggest waste of time, money, and poison to your body and
mind in society today.

I do often wonder if nobody ever drank. I wonder how much money this country
would've saved in lawyers, court costs, and civil suits. I wonder how much property
damage and bodily harm could've been avoided.

I wonder how many marriages and families could've been saved if over-consumption
of alcohol didn't result in infidelity, unwanted pregnancies, and the like.

I wonder about the pain that goes with the death of a loved one because of a DUI. I wonder
about the nightmare parents experience when getting a call from a university president
telling them their 19-year-old daughter died at  a sorority party because she consumed
so much alcohol her heart stopped.

And I wonder about the embarrassment a parent feels when they learn their son away at
school got so intoxicated, he lost his mind and killed a girlfriend.

Yep, it happens nearly every day in this country. Don't believe me? Google is just
a few clicks away.

I have friends with kids just entering the work force and enjoying the spoils of a
big city. I've heard them complain about $10 beers and the tab a night of drinking
adds up to and the hangovers they endure.

I don't preach, but I try to tell them the quicker they learn that alcohol serves absolutely
no purpose, the better off they'll be, physically, mentally, and financially.

I do not judge and I don't like to make it seem like I'm standing at the pulpit. But
drinking is not a sport. You don't get medals or win anything for doing it. Nobody's
obituary has ever read, "Yeah, but that boy sure could drink."

Drinking is a badge of nothing. Not courage, not manhood, not toughness.

One way or another, it catches up to you. The only way you can outrun it, is to quit.

And trust me, it's not a hard thing to do, even at my age.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


After the Hall of Fame ballots were tallied and the results were announced, I had a conversation
with a friend about the class that will be ushered into Cooperstown later this summer. My friend
is a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan and a real baseball junkie.

"Clemens should've gotten in, same for Schilling," my friend screamed through the phone. As if
I was surprised. He thinks Oil Can Boyd should be immortalized in the Hall of Fame, too.

I responded, "Any election that doesn't include El Guapo has to be rigged."

A big, hearty laugh blitzed its way through the cell phone and pierced my ear. "I loved
El Guapo! He was a great guy," my friend said. "I wonder whatever happened to him."

El Guapo is Rich Garces, who pitched for the Red Sox from 1995 - 2002. He was a cross
between Bartolo Colon and Pablo Sandoval: all belly. I covered Garces and the Red Sox on
my first tour of duty in Boston and  El Guapo was the sunshine on a team of prickly assholes.
He was a lovable guy who always had time to say hello - to everybody.

The media guide listed El Guapo, (the handsome one) at 215, which was off by about 35
pounds. He always had a smile on his face as he meandered his way through a clubhouse filled
with players who acted as if they'd rather be anyplace other than Fenway Park.

El Guapo could pitch a little bit, too. He morphed into one of the American League's premier
set-up men, posting a 5-1 record with and 1.55 earned run average in 1999. The following year,
the handsome one had a record of 8-1  with a 3.25 ERA. General Manager Dan Duquette, a
card-carrying member of the physique police, urged El Guapo to lose weight. He did and
was never the same.

El Guapo, who is a still a folk hero in Boston to this day, was done with the Red Sox in 2002, his
velocity disappearing along with his excess weight. However El Guapo found a home in 2007 pitching for the Nashua Pride, an independent team in New Hampshire.

El Guapo was such a draw for the Pride, they scheduled a bobblehead night for him. Well,
it wasn't exactly a bobblehead. The anatomy was a little off. It was a bobblebelly in honor of
El Guapo's boiler.

How awesome is that?

Two days after my conversation with a friend about El Guapo, I walked into a baseball facility
in Fairfield, Connecticut for a feature I was producing. The owner of the top-tier baseball
program said, "We have a great staff here. There's Willie Upshaw, he played for the Blue Jays,
and you remember Rich Garces, don't you?

I said to myself, "You have to be sh*%ting me! It's El Guapo!"

There he was in all his glory. El Guapo is still a handsome devil after all these years. He
didn't look much different from the guy I watched and covered at Fenway Park in the late
90's. He had that same geniune smile along with the same body type and was very approachable.

I was a minor-league player in the Red Sox organization and had covered El Guapo in Boston.
We talked and shared a few belly laughs. It was one of the moments in life, that you find
yourself saying, "Damn, what are the chances of that?"

He still had the bobble-belly, too, but that's OK. After all, he is El Guapo - a true character of the game.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


2017 was defined by natural disasters, everything Trump, mass shooting and salacious sexual harassment scandals involving the likes Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Matt Lauer, and a cast
of what seemed like thousands in the news and entertainment industry.

Believe it or not, there were some positive stories that inspired many of us during the year.
Here are a few that caught my attention and motivated me to put into words.

Please click on the headline of story to read.

A DAD'S GREATEST CHRISTMAS GIFT Chris Pinder had a successful baseball career but
came up short in his bid to make the Major Leagues. His son, Chad, made it, though, and last
Christmas presented Pops with a gift he'll cherish forever.

July afternoon, I traveled to West Point to interview Mike Viti, who is the running backs coach
at the U.S. Military Academy. He played for Army and served the country in Afghanistan. He
also walked across the country to raise awareness Gold Star families. Viti is one amazing person

MY DAD'S BEST FRIEND PASSES AWAY Jack Graham was a man of class, integrity
and honor. I will never forget how he cared for my father when he was battling Alzheimer's

BRIAN BILL AMERICAN HERO. Like Viti, Brian Bill served his country but made the
ultimate sacrifice, killed during a mission in Afghanistan. I remain in awe of the person Brian
Bill was.

KATY SULLIVAN: BLADE RUNNER Katy Sullivan was born without lower legs but that
didn't stop here from representing our country in the Paralympics and setting American records.

LUKE MAYE: THE SON ALSO RISES  Mark Maye became a high school football legend
as a quarterback in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the most coveted recruit in the country
but  never lived up to the lofty expectations with the Tar Heels. His son did, though, becoming
an instant legend after hitting the shot against Kentucky that sent the Tar Heels into the Final

Canaan, CT. steps up to support Graham Harden who was diagnosed with ALS.

THE BIRTH OF CAFE MARTIN  There's a new hot spot in Boston honoring one of its
favorite sons who is battling ALS.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


2017 is finishing strong as the year of sexual harassment. Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly,
Harvey Weinstein, and just about every politician who captured at least a vote somewhere are
tumbling in the news cycle because of their inappropriate behavior.

It's a hyper-sensitive time in workplaces across the country, so much so, that 21st Century Fox
instituted the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure a proper workplace environment."  In the 21st century, 21st Century Fox has to monitor adults who are
more suited for Romper Room than a newsroom, but hey, that's for another day.

With nearly every company on high-alert for sexual harassment in the workplace and taking
precautions to avoid the multi-million dollars settlements 21st Century Fox has dished out, the
Anaheim Ducks took a plunge into dirty waters.

To help celebrate the NHL's 100th birthday, they produced a video showing one of their players,
Ryan Kesler, walking through the team's offices butt-naked. Oh, they didn't show everything.
A strategically placed black rectangle (digital effect) covered blocked his five-hole. Kesler is
seen strolling past a couple of female workers at their desk.

I'm not sure if the comedic club with Anaheim was trying to one-up the writers on "SNL"
when they showed NFL legend Tom Brady walking around an office in front of women in his underwear, but whatever the case, but their attempt at this type of humor was just plain stupid.

The Ducks social media arm posted it on social media and the video promptly got destroyed.

The first wave of criticism came in as passively as napalm destroying terrain during a war.
As soon as the brilliant folks in Anaheim got wind of it, they hit the delete button on Twitter
and sent out a statement.

"Our tweet posted earlier today was meant to be a lighthearted video celebrating the NHL’s
100th birthday," the apology read. "We realize in retrospect the content of the video may have
been insensitive and we have removed the video and apologize."

I'm  neither brilliant nor lacking in sense of humor, but this display for the Ducks is beyond
ridiculous. First of all, it's not even close to being funny. I mean, that's the best these
writers and producers could do for a 100th birthday?

Personally, I'm not easily in offended in world where everyone gets offended when the wind
is blowing north, when the meteorologists said it would go south. But in this hyper-sensitive
society, people that are distributing content across social media need to get a clue. You can't
be posting stuff like the Ducks did - no matter what. It's just a bad look.

The social media department either spent too many hours updating their Facebook
page while the rest of the world was blasted with the sexual harassment in the workplace stories
by the 24-hour news channels OR they just put the 'deaf' in tone deaf.

I'm just curious when they were planning and videotaping this little skit, didn't ANYBODY say,
"Hey, I don't really think this is a good idea."? I mean, this wasn't spontaneous or on live television.
It was planned out and executed.

If this display of stupid happened on the ice, the referees would be forced to give the Ducks
a gross misconduct. They need to sit in the sin-bin and think about this one for a while.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


2.4 mile swim. 112 mile bike. 26.2 mile run. In one day. That's the Ironman.

People often ask me why, as a 50-something, semi-good former athlete, I would put myself
through all that torture just to complete the race. I don't have a single answer for that. I have
many of them.

It's not a bucket list item. As somebody who is on the back nine of life, I can think of many
other fun things to do with the $750 entry fee than grind my way through close to 13 hours
of non-stop action to complete a 140-mile race.

For me, doing the Ironman is an annual celebration of life. It's another opportunity for me to
be thankful that I'm still healthy enough, at my age, to swim, bike, and run.

I don't have anything to prove. I squeezed out every ounce of energy and talent out of myself
in trying to be a success in baseball. I got a scholarship to UNC and played in the Boston Red Sox organization and don't have any regrets. It was a phase in my life that I enjoyed but it has long
been over.

Father Time is catching up to me, but doing the Ironman let's him know that running me down,
no matter how slow I may be, won't be all that easy.

People often want to tell me that doing the Ironman "can't be good for the body." Neither is alcohol,
junk food, and staying out all night. I'd rather break down because of over-exercising than over-
indulging in the poisonous things you put in the body.

I don't do the Ironman for the fancy medal awarded upon completion. I usually give the
hardware to my niece or nephew before it has a chance to be draped around my neck.

I do the Ironman to compete against the clock and challenge myself. As far as I'm concerned,
there is nobody else on the course, despite getting clubbed by elbows, arms, and feet during
the 2.4 mile swim.

I compete in the Ironman because I love swimming in open water. There are few things as
exhilarating as navigating your way through a course filled with 2,000 other competitors. You
can't see what's below you and the sight of mountains, trees, and the sunrise can be pretty

I do the Ironman because the energy and vibe of the event is truly incredible. It provides
an adrenaline rush that can last for weeks, as it did when I completed my first Ironman
in Lake Placid at the age of 50.

I love the Ironman because I get an up close and personal look at the human will and spirit
of others. I enjoy hearing their stories, where they are from, and why they do the Ironman. I
really believe anyone can do the Ironman. After all, most of us can run, bike, and swim. The
will to complete it is definitely the key.

I enjoy the mind games that come with completing the event. It truly is an oddesey for the
mind, which often tells you to quit and go home for good. I tried to quit forever after
completing my second Ironman in 2016.

Almost as soon as I crossed the finish line, I made a b-line to the pizza tent and finished
off an entire pie and then some. I announced my retirement to no one in particular and
didn't work out a single time for the next seven months.

But the Ironman sucked me back in. I couldn't do without it. Oh, it's not an addiction,
trust me. I'm not obsessive about it and have never followed a routine, hired a coach, or
watched every little thing that goes into my body. If I felt like doing a 100-mile bike, I
would do it. If I had a 10-mile run in me, I'd bust it, too. I've alway trained by 'feel' and made
sure not to overtrain or abuse my body.

I signed up with the Ironman in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec just under four months before
the race. I completed it for my fourth career Ironman.

This June, I'll travel to Boulder, Colorado for my fifth Ironman.  Can't wait. The Ironman
doesn't consume me, but it is very much a part of me. And I love it.