Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cano gives his dad - and all dads - a special gift

I’m sure I wasn’t the only dad feeling a little misty-eyed watching Jose Cano pitch to his son, Robinson, in the MLB Home Run Derby last night. I couldn’t help but think back to simpler times in my life, grabbing a bucket of balls and tossing batting practice to my son, Christopher, for hours on empty diamonds. Those were incredible bonding moments that I’ll always treasure.

So, yes, I was pulling hard for Robbie “Don’t Ya Know” Cano to win it all, which he did with a remarkable 12 homers in the final round to edge Adrian Gonzalez. My exhortations had nothing to do with the fact I’m a long-time Yankee fan, and everything to do with the fact I’m a fan of dedicated dads, like Jose Cano. This was a special moment for baseball and for any parent who has spent time bonding in an activity with his or her kids.

There clearly have been other good sporting moments in recent days – moments that have taken our minds off the avaricious lunacy of lockouts and reminded us of why we follow these silly games in the first place.

That header goal in the waning seconds of overtime by Rochester’s own Abby Wambach vs. Brazil in the Women’s World Cup Sunday was every bit as dramatic as a game-winning shot in the NBA Finals or a walk-off World Series homer. As I discovered while covering her during the United States’ march to Olympic soccer gold in Athens in 2004, Abby is one of those rare athletes who has a flair for the dramatic. And it’s also become obvious that literally and figuratively, her head is always in the game.

And while we’re on the subject of cerebral and clutch athletes, how about Derek Jeter, who entered the 3,000 Hit Club Saturday afternoon with a home run and a five-for-five batting line, which included the game-winning hit?

Perhaps the cherry on the topping of this historic day was the decision by fan Christian Lopez not to keep the milestone ball Jeter drilled into the left-field stands. Lopez could have pocketed more than $200,000 had he put the spheroid up for auction, but instead graciously turned it over to the Yankees icon. I know many people will say he was crazy, but I believe he did the right thing.


Jeter has been a model athlete with a rare knack for doing the appropriate thing on and off the diamond. But I disagree with his decision to beg out of tonight’s All-Star game. There were reports that he was emotionally drained from his pursuit of 3,000. And I can understand that. But it would have been good for baseball had he shown up tonight and was introduced with the rest of the stars. He wouldn’t even have had to play an inning. Just soak up the adulation and savor a special moment in the twilight of your career.


PERSONAL MATTERS: Congratulations to my niece-in-law, Laura O’Brien, and her new hubby, Donnie Smith, who were married Friday in Buffalo. Yes, there is a sports connection here. Donnie played briefly for the Rochester Americans several years ago, but was forced to cut short his professional hockey career because of concussions . . . Here’s wishing a speedy recovery to my fellow Bills (Radio) Brother John DiTullio, who is recuperating after having his appendix removed Friday . . . And, lastly, please keep my friend and former newspaper colleague, Allen Wilson, in your thoughts and prayers. Many of you might remember Allen from his days covering sports for the Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union before he left to write sports for the Buffalo News. He’s a good, kind-hearted man. Get well, my friend.

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