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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Eternal Connection

My uncle Carl took me to Fenway Park, introducing me to the game of baseball. I got lost in the game, the ballpark, the people, the color, the sounds, the smells. But then he got cancer and died. It’s a passion. It’s a very, very big part of my life. Sometimes I like to be 11 years old. I like being part of something that's bigger than me...than I. Its good for your soul to invest in something you cant control.

The quote above is from a Boston Red Sox themed film, Fever Pitch, starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. And yes, this is the movie that features the colossal catastrophe of 2004, when Boston overcame a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to win four straight games to eliminate the New York Yankees and eventually win the World Series. Anyways…In this specific scene, referred to as “Really Big Fan,” Fallon explains why he is such a huge Red Sox fan.

But Rob, you HATE the Boston Red Sox! You DESPISE their being and presence on earth! What does this have to do with anything?!

True, very true, but I can relate to this quote in a manner that is much, much more significant to me than any rivalry.

January 27, 1997, I lost my best friend. My grandpa, Robert Louis Demirjian (known as Bob to his many friends and family), passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. He was 69 years young. The name of my blog, Oh It’s You Rob, was inspired by my grandpa; the license plate on his red 1964 ½ Mustang convertible read, ‘Oh It’s You Bob’. We did so many fun things together when my family and I visited him and my grandma in Wilmington, North Carolina; he really was the greatest, most fun grandpa of all-time. But one aspect of our relationship is still, a very, very big part of my life. We shared a love that was much more than anything else in the world….the New York Yankees.

Each morning, I would wake up before sun rise with grandpa before anyone else. After helping him walk his dog and prepare my grandma’s breakfast, we would read the sports section of the newspaper. He taught me how to read a baseball box score, as we recapped the Yankees game from the night before; we would use an oversized magnified glass to read the tiny print and memorize every statistic. At that breakfast table, we had such passionate discussions and debates about our team, i.e. whom they should trade for, or which player should be playing over another, or what they need to do to win. If my grandpa was here today, he’d be infuriated with the current state of the organization. I can hear him now, “What the hell are they doing?! Cashman (the general manager) is a bum!”

In October of 1996, from 683 miles apart, we shared our first World Series Championship together, as the Yankees dethroned the Atlanta Braves in six memorable games. Following two dominating outings from future Hall of Famers John Smoltz and Greg Maddox, I was distraught with the Yankees performance. My grandpa called me the following day to discuss the first two games of the series. Calmly he said, “Robert, they gotta beat us four times. It’s going to be okay...I promise.” The Yankees would go on to win four straight games in exciting, dramatic fashion to clinch their first World Series title in 18 long and agonizing years. As Mark Lemke popped up a final offering from John Wetteland, and that last out was secure in Charlie Hayes’ glove, the phone rang; it was my grandpa. We had our championship.

Despite the championship drought of the 80s, I assumed we would share many more World Series moments together. I’ve never told anyone this, but the night before my family and I were to travel back to New York after spending Christmas with my grandparents, just weeks before he would pass away, I played cards with grandpa and his good friend, Nick. I asked the two men, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” Nick said, “Win the lottery!” Finishing his deal, my grandpa said, “I hope to live to year 2000. I want to watch you grow up and play baseball.” My grandpa never got to watch me play baseball, but I know he was always with me. Every time I put on my uniform and ran onto the field, I did my best to make him proud.

To honor his legacy, I will continue to carry on our name with pride. I will always be there for my family, working tirelessly to ensure that they are happy and healthy. I will continue to have the spirit of an 11 year old, rooting for our New York Yankees. I to, like being part of something that’s bigger than me…than I. And it is good for your soul to invest in something you can’t control! My love for the New York Yankees is so much more than baseball. It’s an eternal connection that I have with my grandpa that will never die.

Life is so very short and there is no guarantee for tomorrow. Every moment we have together, we must treasure it as if it’s our last. It is truly a gift.
If my grandpa leaves us with anything, it is that I hope everyone has something so special to them, that words can not describe how you feel. Whether it’s a sports team, or an activity, do it with passion! Act like a fool and scream at the players on TV! Paint a masterpiece or read the Harry Potter collection better than anyone else! Regardless, always have fun and live in the moment. The time is now.

I know my grandpa and my dad’s father (whom I never had the opportunity to meet), have become great friends, as they watch over their children and grandchildren. I know my grandpa's been hanging out with Phil Rizzuto and Joe Dimaggio, driving his beloved Mustang around heaven. After a round of golf with Bobby Murcer and Thurman Munson, they reminisce about the glory days and trade stories over a N.Y. strip and a cold beer, later meeting up with Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin for a nightcap. Have fun boys!

Grandpa, you are my best friend. I miss you like crazy and I love you. GO YANKEES!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"The" Ohio State joke

The conduct of the NCAA and its universities is a shady business indeed. We all know this and nobody expects this circumstance to change anytime soon. We expect rules infractions. The way in which the NCAA manages breaches of compliance and conduct is ludicrous. Corrupt practices are truly dishonorable. Today, we focus on the end of honor and dignity in Columbus, Ohio.


Recently, five Ohio State University football players were suspended by the NCAA. No, not for the BCS Sugar Bowl tonight, but for five games most notably
next season!

The players to be suspended are significant contributors for the overrated Buckeyes, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, leading rusher Daniel Herron, No. 2 wide receiver DeVier Posey, All-Big Ten offensive tackle Mike Adams and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas.


Ironically, Pryor sold his
sportsmanship award from the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, along with his 2008 Big Ten championship ring. Most deplorable to Ohio State fans with common sense, is that he sold his “gold pants.” This gold charm (revered by Buckeye Nation) depicting a pair of football pants, is given to all players and coaches following a victory over the rival, University of Michigan. He must also repay $2,500 for selling the three items.

Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150. Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50. Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring. Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 gold pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.


A sixth player, freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting, who received a discount on tattoos, must sit out the first game of the 2011 season and pay $150 to a charity.


Ohio State Athletic director Gene Smith concluded a news conference by addressing the issue with a lame joke, at a time when this is not a joking matter. “We might," he said with a smile, “hire a tattoo person and put them in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.”


Are you kidding me?


Buckeye fans are in denial, actually forgiving the players of their actions. I feel sorry for them. They really just do not comprehend the situation.


Sources close to the players stated that the reason they sold their materials were to support their families. Because of this, they had no choice, but to commit significant rules violations and receive improper benefits, while also having enough time to get inked up.


Really?


And then the NCAA did not suspend the players for the Sugar Bowl because they “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred.”


Really?


Buckeye fans…your program is corrupt and you should be embarrassed by what’s come of your once proud institution.


Head coach Jim Tressel has built an incredible program that truly honors Ohio State traditions and history. He has instilled pride into Buckeye Nation. Tressel was once of high morals and integrity. He’s won a national championship, wins Big Ten Championships, and most importantly, he doesn’t lose to Michigan.


However, Tressel appears to be just another commoner in the NCAA trash. He has the opportunity to right the ship. He should bench the five players that committed violations and prohibit them from the stadium. In doing so, he would take a stand for his university and program.

By not allowing these players to play in the Sugar Bowl, Tressel would send a loud, prominent message to all of college football that he is a true leader and Ohio State is an elite program for more than just football. He would set himself apart from the trash by breaking away from the norm, putting right before wrong.

I don’t expect he will do so. I expected more from Coach Tressel and of “The” Ohio State University. If he allows those players to play, he will be just another lackey in the NCAA, placing monetary considerations over honor, respectability and integrity.