Category Archives: Sports

the green mile essay

Uh oh! What do I do now?!

I am faced with a conundrum that took more than 30 years to develop.

I am a soccer fan, not only because I played the sport from a very young age, but because as a native Argentine, the religion of soccer is ingrained in my DNA.

We worship at the altar of our favorite professional clubs, but we all set aside our religious sects to venerate the national team.

This worship is not unique to Argentina or Latin America. The fervor of rooting patriotically is in the fabric of every country.

I experienced this firsthand when in 1986 on a June afternoon I made my way to the heart of the downtown district of Buenos Aires.

Halfway around the world in Mexico City, my heroes of the Argentine National Team were about to face Germany in the final game of the FIFA World Cup.

When the final whistle blew, Argentina won 3-2 and I found myself in a large, pulsing living organism for a spontaneous celebration I would never forget. I later found out that the number of fans that converged around me and the giant screens reached more than 200,000.

Even as a naturalized United States citizen I still remained the rabid Argentina soccer fan that my blood cells are stamped with.

Living in a country that did not care for soccer at a league level and even less at a national team level, I had no worries of ever having my love for a foreign nation conflict with my adopted one.

That started to change, however, in the early 90s.

Soccer came to this nation slowly and then suddenly in 1994, the United States hosted the ultimate soccer tournament, the World Cup.

Historically, the U.S. always fielded a weak team, a mere speed bump for the major soccer powers on their way to the top prize.

In that World Cup though, the U.S. Men’s National Team not only held its own, but shocked many by upsetting an overconfident Colombia.

The U.S. team did not get much further and over the next few years its level of play peaked in 2002 by reaching a quarterfinal in the World Cup.

But in the last few years, the team has started to show a level of play that, although still not at the level of historically strong soccer nations, was starting to draw some attention.

Through all this, I was and am a strong supporter of the USA National Team. Fast forward to now.

Once again the USA is hosting a major FIFA tournament. It’s the oldest international competition and it is called La Copa America.

I again have been rabidly following both nations. Now I have my kids and wife joining me at every game, cheering my birth nation, Argentina, and their birth nation, the United States.

Now the conundrum: For the first time in their history, Argentina and the U.S. will match up in a major tournament and at a very high stage, the semifinal game of the Copa America 2016.

I have the conflict of cheering for or against one of the two nations that mean so much to me.

On Tuesday night I will be rooting hard for the nation I grew up rooting for all the while knowing that if my adopted nation pulls off the greatest soccer upset in history, I will not be disappointed.

I will still have the fervor and sincerest desire to see them advance and win it all.

ARGENTINA! ! !  USA! ! ! !

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It’s my Fault the New York Mets Lost the 2015 World Series

Most fans are blaming Terry Collins, Daniel Murphy, Fallout Boy, or some combination of the three, for the Mets crushing World Series failure. The sad truth is that I am solely responsible for the Kansas City Royals being this year’s MLB World Series champions.

You see I’ve been blessed with very powerful baseball mojo. I didn’t seek out this power, it was thrust upon me. Who am I to refuse a gift from the baseball gods?

It’s been both a blessing and a curse and, while a tremendous responsibility, I’ve always been able to carry out my duties without fail…until now.

I first noticed the baseball mojo as a youngster. My wearing of a plastic team-branded batting helmet while swinging a Roy White engraved bat during Yankees at bats single-handedly powered them to consecutive championships in 1977 and 1978.

It was after that second Yankees championship that I realized I must use this awesome ability for good and help the sad sack National League team in Queens.

From 1979 to 1983, I used all the weapons in my arsenal: rally underpants (rally caps are a just a lame variation which I DO NOT get credit for inspiring), not washing team t-shirts during winning streaks (my mom was purple with rage about this at first but mine was a baseball-loving family and she eventually understood), eating the same meal on game days (just the smell of Chef Boyardee ravioli will bring on horrific flashbacks these days).

I pulled out all the stops.

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It was slow going, but by 1984 the Mets were finally coming around. My mojo was getting results.

Bill Buckner’s error gets the lion’s share of the credit for the 1986 Mets winning it all but folks forget that his blown play occurred in game 6. It was my deep hatred of the Boston Red Sox, a steady stream of “Boston Sucks” chants and a complete banishment of anything that could remotely be confused for the color red from my home that sealed the deal for the boys in Flushing.

1987 and 1988 were tough. Like a late inning relief specialist, I had thrown too many pitches and had nothing left in the tank. I stepped away from the game I loved.

By 1995 it felt as if my mojo was stronger than ever and since I’d neglected the Yankees in the 80s, my new goal was to bring World Series glory back to the Bronx!

I helped rebuild the Yankees championship dynasty in the late 90’s with a deft mash-up of the classic batting helmet / Roy White bat combo and a series of vulgar opposing team chants.

In 2000 I set my sights on doing what was heretofore considered impossible: a subway series between the Mets and the Yankees.

Much like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun.

I’d stretched myself too thin after that series and, except for a fluke in 2009 where I wore a Yankees spring training cap for the whole season, my baseball mojo laid dormant until this season.

This year I wanted back in the game. As a crafty veteran, I would rely on guile instead of power. My mojo would get the Mets back on top using a radical approach: I would ignore them for the entire season.

It worked — although I read a box score in July and that sent their bats into a nasty funk for a long while.

But then it happened, the awful occurrence that has me telling this tale.

I was working at home with the television on in the background. The sound was down on the set and as I took a quick break from my editing, I stared at the screen for about 10 seconds. It was game one and Lucas Duda was at bat. When I realized what was happening, I scrambled for the remote to shut it off. I was in a panic.

To make matters worse, the next night I walked in on my wife watching game 2 and witnessed an unidentified Met pop out.

We instituted a total media blackout at home for game 3 and that helped a bit but the damage was done. You all know the rest.

I let the Metskis down just when they needed me most. For that I humbly beg you all for forgiveness.

Oh well, there’s always next year!

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Let’s Go Mets! Recalling the 1986 Ticker-Tape Parade

In October 1986, baseball history had been made and Chris Mele and I were ready to experience a ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan for the World Series Champion New York Mets.

We were men with a plan:

Chris was going to meet me on Park Row by City Hall, where the parade would climax. I had jury duty in the Bronx and I planned to jump on the No. 4 train, which would bring me right to City Hall.

Of course, 2.2 million other people had the same idea.

I caught the train, and the crowds poured in.

I had to stand all the way but I didn’t even need to hold on as we were packed in and couldn’t move.

Then the “LET’S GO METS!” chants started. We were all screaming at the top of our lungs.

The energy was unreal.

These chants turned into “Who Do You Love? Bill Buckner!!!” OMG! Poor Bill Buckner, the weight of Boston’s loss on his shoulders.

(Cheer up, Bill. Even if you would have fielded that ball, you never had a chance beating Mookie to the bag.)

I finally arrive at City Hall. I figured my chances of finding Chris were slim, but we connected on Park Row — all without cellphones — imagine that?!

We try to get a good spot to watch the parade wind down Broadway.

People were standing on cars, light posts, mailboxes and we could hear the cheers and the “LET’S GO METS!” chants as the vehicles carrying the champs got closer.

Paper rained down from the buildings, even some toilet paper.

We are able to catch a glimpse of Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling as they worked their way to the front of City Hall where Mayor Ed Koch, Gov. Mario Cuomo, and Sen. Alfonse D’Amato waited to give speeches and share in the victory.

Chris and I tried to make our way over to City Hall, but there were so many people, we could hardly move.

The police corralled a large crowd of us down one of the side streets and blocked both ends. We were jammed in and the mob was getting rowdy and ugly.

The police were holding us back while the crowd pushed and shoved.

There was a couple of mounted police in there with us and the next thing I know I was face to face – no, face to rear — with the backside of a very large police horse.

I thought that’s it: Either the horse is going to kick me into oblivion or the officer on the horse was going to club me down for bumping into him.

Finally, the police opened up the end of the street and we broke out of there.

We caught some of the presentation from the City Hall stage, and Koch and Cuomo had to cut their words short as the crowd drowned them out with chants and cheers for the champs.

I think at that point we decided we had enough life-threatening experiences for one day and we parted to safer grounds. We escaped the area before the throngs started heading out.

The sanitation crews were already out cleaning up the paper and debris on Broadway, as life in the city never stops and doesn’t miss a beat.

AMR 11: Olympic Bobsled? Piece O’ Cake.

The AMR posse, with a few exceptions, aren’t big on sports but they are big on cracking-wise and busting stones.

Come to think of it, if either were Olympic events, we’d be nationally ranked and medal contenders for sure.

Until the IOC gets their act together and lets us do our thing on a global scale we must console ourselves with taming the bobsled run at Lake Placid’s Olympic facility.

Yep, you read that right.

On this episode you’ll join me and Chris as we hurtle down Whiteface Mountain in a metal bathtub, um, bobsled. I meant bobsled.

Why’d we do it? Because it was there…and because both of us felt it was important to start facing our fears. What better way to do that than by racing down an icy track in a metal tube sandwiched between two complete strangers.

The entire experience was a pulse-pounding thrill, so much so that we’re ready to take on more challenges. Maybe we can convince the entire AMR Posse to join Chris and El Kaiser on our next macho adventure.

I hear skydiving is a lot of fun!

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