Day 28: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Ending Bitterness & a Mets Hat

So as many know, I used to be a beat reporter in radio…well sorta. I was a producer mostly but they’d let me go to ballgames and gather sound and cover the team, but there was little or often no money in it. It was however a cool atmosphere to be in and I learned a whole lot and got to cover some very cool events like the 1996 World Series.

Now a bit more background on my baseball obsession. I grew up a fan of the New York Mets. Everyone in my neighborhood was a Yankee fan, so I decided to be different at the age of 6 or 7 and root for the other team. Actually, what happened was that I turned on the TV and Steve Henderson, hit a home run and so I wanted to root for him and for his team–namely the Mets. Neither one of those things was too smart. Hendu was an OK player but never panned out to be the star that the Mets hoped he would be and these Mets were cellar dwellers. So for the first few years of my fandom in Mets world they simply stunk.

Then came 1986 when all was wonderful, the Mets won it all that year and haven’t won since. Fast forward to 1992 when I began to cover sports for WFAN and then later for WOR in 1995. I didn’t travel with the team, merely covering the teams when they were home. So while my Mets were on the road I’d head to the Bronx and cover the cross town Yankees.

Now here’s a real irony: The Mets treated me awful. The Yankees treated me very well. That may be because the Yankees were winning again and the Mets were awful. There’s nothing like winning to make someone a nice guy and nothing like losing to make you a cranky jerk. Some of the crankiest were in the Mets locker room. The owner, Fred Wilpon was the crankiest of all and today he paid a not-so-small fortune to settle his end of the Bernie Madoff case. Guys like Jeff Kent and Bobby Bonilla were always jerks in the locker room and made it easy to hate this team known by at least one writer, Bob Klapisch as: The Worst Team Money Could Buy.

So all that made it easy for me to make a vow. I stopped rooting for the Mets and said I wouldn’t root again until they were sold by their current ownership. Which looks like that might not happen anytime soon unfortunately as Wilpon seems to have dodged a bullet.

Today I root for the Cubs because I can’t really justify rooting for the Yankees after being a Mets fan. You’ll never hear me say a bad word about Derek Jeter, a classy guy or their now deceased owner, George Steinbrenner who always made time, even for small time guys like me.

So at some point during my time here in Buffalo, someone thought I was a Mets fan and they gave me a Mets hat which I have never worn once. I’ve decided to give it to one of my favorite medical students C.J. Cancino who is a huge Mets fan and who I know will appreciate it. C.J. has also taught me the value of gentle invitation and of breaking down barriers that lead to greater cohesiveness in relationships. He’s always finding out new things about his classmates and if he finds out that you’re Catholic he’ll gently let you know that he comes to the 8PM mass here and he’ll invite you to come along. He’s helped us increase our medical student participation greatly and I am indebted to him for that. We’ve even got a great number of people working as lectors and eucharistic ministers at mass.

But the lenten lesson for me is to remain in relationship with others, to reach beyond keeping people out of my life and even if bitterness exists, to see the value of relationship over all else. C.J.’s commitment to his classmates has inspired me. It would be easy for him to simply be a student who really competes against his classmates for grades or honors. But instead, C.J. simply chooses to relate to others as himself and helps others when he can and keep conversation going. He’s a great student and his class is one of the best that the school has ever seen. They’ve impressed not merely me, the rube, but also the medical school faculty with their openness and their brilliance. They’re a tight knit group and they’ll be great doctors. C.J. is considering pediatrics and he’d be great at that and he’s always planning events around children–a recent endeavor was to put together a Halloween party for kids with diabetes. Ugh! No candy! Well C.J. found sugar free stuff and created a Haunted House and a lot more fun stuff with the help of his class.

Today, his gift reminds all of us to stop being self-concerned and to simply let go of resentments and to remain in relationship. I’ve come to love the Cubs, but I no longer hate the Mets, nor their owner or anyone else. Life is too short and there’s more energy I need to not waste on bitterness that I can use in better ways.

So pray for our medical students, that they might not stress out too much in their very difficult studies. And pray that I might be able to help them when they need someone. May God bless their hands and their hearts so that they might stay in relationship with their patients to bring them to a better sense of health and may they be bearers of light to the world by their vocation.

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