Vick’s House Goes to the Dogs

Michael Vick, the Quarterback for the Eagles, who was jailed for more than a year for participating in a dog fighting ring has sold his house.

Guess who bought it….a rehab center for dogs!

“Dogs Deserve Better” purchased the house, which was previously the site of Vick’s “Bad News Kennels” dogfighting operation, for approximately $600,000. The 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year owned the five-bedroom home until 2007, when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges. He began working with the Humane Society of the United States soon after his release to try to stop organized animal fighting.

Thayne, though, says she doesn’t think his efforts have been sincere.

“I would like to see that he’s really remorseful, and I personally don’t feel that I’ve seen that because actions speak louder than words. I haven’t seen him really put effort into making amends,” she said.

I kind of agree and disagree. If Vick hadn’t been caught, would he be remorseful then? There’s a side of me that thinks the only reason he is remorseful now is because he has to be in order to play a sport he loves.

However, I’m open to the idea that Vick has been changed. Many of us don’t change unless something causes us to change. We get caught in the act or perhaps we think more deeply about our actions on our own. Whatever the case remorse doesn’t depend on one or the other. The cause of someone’s remorse is something I’m much less interested in. Perhaps we should be glad that Vick isn’t saying that his arrest is unjustified and has stood up and admitted that what he did was wrong. Unlike the hordes of baseball players who have used steroids without an inch of remorse oozing from their huge forearms. (Cough: Bonds, Cough Palmiero, Cough, McGwire).

In any event I’m glad that the house will finally be used for some good. One thought: couldn’t Vick have donated the house to the charity? They had to plunk down $600,000 for it. Maybe Vick should pay the mortgage? Maybe then folks might get serious about how bad this problem is and we won’t see any more dogs that look like this:

Day 37: 50 Day Lenten Giveaway: Mets Ball

So I have fond memories of going to Mets games with one of my college roommates, Scot Foley–who is now a hot shot lawyer for the government and is hoping that they don’t shut down anytime soon. He’s a great guy and I am happy that his new significant other lives right here in Buffalo (well…Orchard Park to be exact). Indeed it is a small world.

To get your ball, Scot, you need to come to Buffalo for either a Bisons, Sabres or Jets/Bills game. =)

See when you clean out the clutter you find good memories and hope to make more.

Called to “The Other”

An afternoon of playing basketball and kickball with a bunch of kids really wiped my energy. I haven’t played hoops in ages and it showed. Even my kickball skills have slowed. Regardless, it was awesome day.

As mentioned earlier, we started at St Herman’s cleaning out these apartments owned by the community. The eccentric who ran the place was a major horder and it was quite a mess. We filled an entire dumpster.

We also worked alongside court ordered community service guys, people who broke the law and have been given community service hours as their punishment. I noticed the guys reminded me of old school friends, some of whom also went the way of a life of crime.

Oliver, who I mentioned yesterday was facing a similar situation financially as my own sister. And the kids in the after-school program played the same
Games and acted like I did when I was growing up. Would I one day be afraid of these same children when they grow up?

God calls us to remember that these people who grew up in not such different circumstance than I did are not simply like us in terms of their common humanity, but rather, there’s a bit of us in each on of them. One bad decision makes us like those guys in the morning, the lack of a caring teacher or mentor turns one of our lives into chaos in middle or high school and how far are any of us from being financially in debt?

We have met the children of the working poor, the hungry, the criminal and they are us, even if only a bit of us.

Today let us pray for all those who live in dire situations. Those who feel there is no way out of poverty’s cycle. Let us cry for the children caught in the mess of their parent’s decisions. And let us pray for ourselves that we may always recognize ourselves and our God in those that we often think of as “the other.”

Today: off to a hospice or a book collection for prisoners and later a drop in center and we’ll do some work for Central America as well.

Day 4: 50 Day Lenten Giveaway: The Sexy Hat

This hat is my actual high school baseball hat. I sweated in it when I played and we won a city championship with it my freshman year. I wear it often even today but have taken amazing care of it. Why am I giving it away?

Good friends are the real memories that we should treasure and Michelle has been that for me for over 22 years. Now that she has a child of her own, I hope she can instill the same value of friendship that she has given to many in her own life. I always sign my notes to her “Mike S. Hayes” so here’s to a running joke for 22 years. Hope you like it, Mitch!

Pegula Day in Buffalo: A Hopeful Sign

Yesterday Buffalo was all a-flutter because the Buffalo Sabres (the hockey team for those unaware) introduced their new owner to the media.

Terry Pegula, a natural gas magnate, is a lifelong fan and has always dreamed of owning the team. In recent years, it seems that the current organization had been hamstrung by an inability to spend money, keeping the team short of their goal of capturing the Stanley Cup. Something the Sabres have never done.

OK, so I’ve only lived here a short time. While I was in NYC I was never Mr. Hockey, preferring baseball and football and even college basketball to the pucks. But it is hard to NOT be a hockey fan here.

Dare I say, the Sabres are much like a religion here. People are dedicated to the team and their devotion runs deep. Even Pegula openly wept when he saw Sabre great Gilbert Perrault.

“He’s my hero.” was his simple and emotional line.

It’s all the all-sports station talks about and people are major fans. I liked the Islanders growing up and remember the excitement of their 4 Stanley Cups in the 80s. I worked in the studio for a majority of Ranger games during their Stanley Cup run. Another exciting sports moment since they had not captured the cup in 54 years! Martin Brodeur, the Devils goalie, brought the cup to WFAN when I worked there so I have a picture of me with the cup and Marty let me carry it back up to his car. Funny story: I clanged it off the metal railing at one point and shouted the old Homer Simpson “D’oh!”

Brodeur: “Oh Mike, no worries! It’s been through much worse than that. We were rolling it down Second Avenue last night!”

So Pegula, buys a team for $198 million. I hope his dream of a Stanley Cup in Buffalo comes true. I know this city needs it.

So Pegula, buys a team for $198 million. I hope his dream of a Stanley Cup in Buffalo comes true. I know this city needs it. There are sections of the city that are quite downtrodden. Abandoned houses and apartment complexes–victims of a bad economy. Gang violence still haunts the city. Younger people come for school but leave

Sports can often transcend life, bringing us to believe in the impossible. Perhaps that’s just what Buffalo needs. One big reason to believe in itself.

Cubs Legend Ron Santo Dies

A sad day for Cubs fans as their former nine time All Star third baseman and longtime broadcaster, Ron Santo has died at the age of 70.

Santo holds a warm place in my heart because he battled diabetes throughout his career and after retirement he lost both of his legs to diabetes but always maintained a positive attitude. My sister is a diabetic and I know how tough of a disease that is. Sources say that diabetes wasn’t what got him in the end though. The Cubs legend died of bladder cancer.

Santo kept his diabetes a secret and wanted to prove that he could play baseball at the major league level with the disease. He feared that people would ask him to sit out if they knew or even retire. For 12 years Santo toughed it out and became one the greatest third basemen ever.

I knew Santo mostly from his broadcast career but also knew that he was an absolutely amazing ballplayer too. His heel clicks after a Cubs win were legendary and in my opinion, the guy should have been elected to the Hall of Fame. After 19 tries he failed to make the cut and is widely regarded as the best player to not be in the Hall. He was an awesome defensive player and yet was no slouch at the plate and often was so feared that pitchers would work around him as he led the league in walks four times. Again, it’s a shame that he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

Santo was also the biggest fan of his team in the booth. A self-described homer while on the air, Santo offered no apologies for openly rooting for the Cubs.

If you ever get a chance watch the documentary, This Old Cub, which chronicles his life. It was co-produced and directed by Santo’s son, Jeff and if you don’t shed a tear once in it than you have absolutely no heart. Here’s the trailer:

Rest in peace, Ronnie. You’ll be missed. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Ron’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Freddy Sez: “Rest in Peace”

One of the joys of going to Yankee Stadium and one of the great highlights of my time covering the team as a reporter was simply being around a man named Freddy. Freddy Schuman was kind of an unofficial mascot at the stadium. He had a sign that he carried around with him that would say:

Freddy sez: “Opening Day 2010: Let’s make it 28!” (a reference to the number of World Series Championships the Yankees have won.)

He’d also carry around a kitchen spoon and a shamrock laden pot (more like a pan really) that would hang from his sign and he’d bang that pan with the spoon and allow fans to tap it as he walked around the stadium.

Freddy was a genius in simplicity. What many don’t know is that Freddy was not just a Yankee fan but was also a great supporter of the Bronx in general. I saw him at Fordham games often and Manhattan College games (which is strangely located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and not Manhattan). I’d see him on the subway and he’d often take in a high school football game as well in his beloved borough. But it was indeed the Bronx Bombers that he was most in love with. Yankee jacket in tow, Freddy was an institution.

“Clang, clang, clang!” Here comes Freddy! I said it probably a thousand times and it never got old.

Sadly, Freddy, that Yankee institution, died at the age of 85 after having a heart attack on Friday night.

One of the moments that I remember from Freddy was the time that some idiot stole Freddy’s tin pan. He had been using the same one for the entire time he had been attending games–an incredible span of 22 years! About 10 years ago, the pan got stolen. The New York Daily News even ran a piece asking the thief to return the pan with no questions asked. I don’t think I ever saw Freddy sadder than when he was without that sentimental piece of his mascot-dom.

The thief did indeed return the pan to the News and when it was given back to Freddy he began to strike that pan with such pure unadulterated joy! It was a moment I will never forget.

The Yankees will have a moment of silence for Freddy tonight, but I think it would be more appropriate if the starting 9 all brought pans and spoons out to their spot on the field and filled that silence with the clanging that Freddy brought with him to the stadium each and every time. Maybe the fans could also join in although I doubt security would allow them to bring in all that metal.

Regardless, tonight, remember a nice man named Freddy who only sought to support his team, bring us all a bit of joy and bang a pot with glee.