The Mid Summer Classic is upon us. It’s time for MLB to truck out the best of the game – the All Stars. It’s a time to recognize and enjoy player performance. And it’s changed a lot.

I was lucky to go to the 1964 All Star Game. Dad had gotten tickets and drove us off from New Jersey to Flushing Meadows. In my 10-year old existence family road trips had included the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore. Now there was Flushing. It could be land of  the ’64 Worlds Fair and the All-Star Game, but it was Flushing.    

Maybe Robert Moses liked Shea Stadium. I never did. Of course it couldn’t compare to the “House that Ruth Built.” But having also been to the Polo Grounds, Shea just didn’t feel like a ball park. Maybe it was just because I was 10 and didn’t truly appreciate what architecture, concrete and steel could create.

There wasn’t an All-Star “Festival.” There was the game. The game was in the afternoon.

There was no free agency, no interleague play. Players could be ID’d by team and league. And while they competed to get to the Series, they played together against the other side. Bragging rights.  

There was no ESPN-produced “Home Run Derby.”

There was batting practice. That was batting practice with the Mick, Harmon Killebrew,  and Al Kaline. Not bad. But consider the NL: Mays, Aaron, Clemente and Stargell. And the Nationals had Cepeda, Groat, Flood, Mazeroski, Williams and White. Is that six Hall of Fame members?

A youthful Joe Torre played for Milwaukee (the Brewers have 3: Braun, Fielder and Weeks). Ever the clever youngster I quipped, “Hey, if Joe Torre was afraid they could call him ‘Chicken Catcher Torre’.” Rimshot. Two hours in the car was tough on Dad and Bill.

Players wore their own uniforms in 1964. If you lived in the NYC metro that was no big deal. Having both the Yanks and Mets meant all of the visiting uni’s were coming through town. But for some fans it was part of the experience.

In fact, during BP I asked which team had the bright red caps. They weren’t the Reds. Dad explained the Cardinals wore red hats at home and blue on the road. The NL was the home team so the Cards would wear red ones. 

Fans didn’t vote to select the rosters. And there were plenty of Cardinals in the NL roster. They had 4 of the 24 players for 12 NL teams. The Cardinals had position players White, Groat, Boyer, and Flood.

Johnny Callison was the only everyday player from Philly despite a huge lead in the National.

The leagues’ managers were selected by their team’s records at the break. Gene Mauch was leading his Phils. The White Sox’ Lopez would managed the American League.

I loved every moment, every play. My guy, Brooks Robinson, got extra bases despite Clemente’s rifle. The crowd roared when the Mets’ young Ron Hunt singled to be met at first by coach Casey Stengel.

And at the end, my American League was set to finish off the National, 4-3. Then with runners on base Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone (that’s right, Joe Pepitone) threw the ball away tying the game 4-4. With two on, the Americans called on Boston’s Dick “the Monster” Radatz. Callison was at the plate. The Monster fired and Callison hit a bomb into Flushing Meadows.

NL 7, AL 4. And the National League players ran to the plate and await Callison.

I had seen the best. That’s what an All Star Game is intended to be. That’s what an All Star Game should be.

I could have been Brett Carow, a 31-year old from River Falls, WI. Carow was recent recognized as the “Ultimate Fanatic” by the creators of Strat-O-Matic. Friends and I were Strat-O-Matic fanatics 40 years ago.

Strat-O-Matic, originally a baseball board game, was created in 1961.  There were 600 members at the convention celebrating the game’s 50th anaversay. The game gives baseball fans a chance to be the manager of MLB players. The game combines players’ actual statistics, baseball strategy, and probability.

I first encountered Strat-O-Matic at age 12 during a Connie Mack game (Connie Mack was the league for 16-18 year olds in my town).  A few of the older guys were talking about Philadelphia shortstop Bobby Wine.  Sure, Wine was a “1” at short but you had to carry his bat. I asked what the “1” meant and the older guys laughed it off. I didn’t get it.

Years later – 1968 – I was going through the Sporting News when I saw an ad for Strat-O-Matic. I quickly claimed it for my birthday gift, receiving the complete “Deluxe Set” before Spring Training started. And what a great set to have.

The 1967 season had been one of the greatest ever. The Red Sox, long-shots in the Spring, finished as the AL champs after a month-long race against a pack of competitors – Twins, Tigers, White Sox, and Angels. The Bosox’ dreams would be dashed by the St. Louis Cardinals in a 7 game Series. And I could replicate the entire thing. I had all the cards for all players. There was Yaz, the Triple Crown win. I had Bob Gibson. And Al Kaline and Harmon Killebrew. All of them.

Even better, I could trade big Frank Howard from the lowly Senators to the White Sox. How would Eddie Stanky’s great-pitch-no-hit Sox do with Hondo batting 4th or 5th? It might have been the White, not the Red, with the AL Pennant.

And the game offered Old Timers and Hall of Famers. You could buy the 1961 Yanks. Or Philly’s 1950 Wiz Kids. There was the Cardinals’  1934 Gas HouseGang.

The Old Timer team I liked the most was the ’31 Athletics with Lefty Grove, Jimmie Fox, and Al Simmons. I recall a friend inviting me over so my A’s could play 1927 Yankees. Yes, those Yankees. The Ruth and Gehrig Yankees. I believe my A’s were swept…. no, pounded.

But that was part of the fun. Six or seven buddies had Strat-O-Matic. We traded. We had a draft – even though there was no such thing. We had leagues and tournies. We kept score and had stats.

It became more than a hobby. It deepened our love for the game. And it probably created a few accountants or a Pentagon analyst. Andrew’s buddy Eathen’s Dad was in a 4-person league 3 years ago. I know Brewers owner Mark Attanasio played as a kid (I hope he was good at it). The age range of folks who have played must be 10-80.

It is a way to teach and a way to bond. I used Strat-O-Matic as a way to bond with my son Bill. And Andrew and I have played over the past 3 years.

But things change. People don’t play board games. Why play Risk or Monopoly? They’re too slow. Andrew can play baseball on PlayStation. He can swing and throw using buttons. He can even create himself (he’s on a pace to hit 180 homers this year).

Heck. there’s Strat-O-Matic for your PC. Strat-O-Matic is played on the Internet.

Not for me. Strat-O-Matic should be played as a board game. I want to hold and touch the player cards comparing shortstops Bobby Wine and the Tigers’ Ray Oyler. I want to roll the dice.

Special Balls

June 28, 2011

Millions of baseball fans treasure a baseball – maybe more – that reminds them of a  place, a day or a person. Maybe it’s in your den or office. You may have given it to a son or daughter. Perhaps you gave it away or simply lost it.

But it’s really with you.

(Wait, you didn’t think this post was about something other than baseball did you?)

Last year I purchased a ball for Andrew in a chuch  auction. They had one ball signed by the members of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. I figured that ball – complete with Tim Lincecum – would have value. The other was signed by all members of the 2010 NL All Star team. I had no chance, right?

I told my friend Mike to go up to $200 for the Giants ball. Frankly, I thought I was going to be an auction rabbit, increasing the bidding. No surprise when the Giants/Lincecum ball went for $400+.

But I had won the NL All Star ball. Now Andrew would have Lincecum – and Pujos – and Braun – and, well, all NL studs. Only $250. Who really knows what the value. 

Somewhere in our house is a ball signed by Brooks Robinson, a hero of mine, and given to me. There’s a ball signed by, well, we really don’t know. We think it’s Ken Griffir Sr. They are probably in the same place – lost.

But then there are the really memorable balls, like one at Yankees Stadium 40 years ago.

At 10 I was at the Stadium for a game between the Yanks and a sacrificial opponent (A’s?). Early in the game there was a line drive into the seats between first and the foul pole. It was smoking. A big man jumped up and snared it clean. Next day at school I’m talking about the game and Billy Prudin pipes up. It was his Dad that caught the liner. Great. Any kids nightmare, a dentist fast enough to spot a line drive.           

I got my own foul ball at a Yankees-Tigers game in the late ’60s.

Our neighbor Jay and his fiance Gail, invited brother Bill and I to the ball game. Bill begged off. I, of course, jumped at it “third wheel” or not. Hey, he offered. The seats were primo – four rows back and right next from the Pinstripe’s dugout. The boxes between us and the field were empty when Detroit’s Jim Northrup barely made contact. The scribbler came right back. I was slow but the bat boy was slower. I had my ball. Sure, it wasn’t a rocket but who cared – and who needed to know, right?

I lost the Northrup ball long ago. It was ripped up and worn from playing hardball and then lost. I blame Bill.           

I “caught” a ball for Andrew during batting practice before a Brewers game two years ago. I was looking at the game program. Andrew was among 10 kids – gloves in the ready – focused on getting a foul ball. Suddenly, “Look Out!” I looked up just as a ball caromed off my shin. The ball spun in place and a youngster scurried to get it before buddies raced in.

“Hey,” I bellowed,” that’s mine, pal. I took the shot. I get the ball.”

Great. I was getting tough with a kid over a used batting practice ball hit foul by a guy named Dickerson. Two months later Dickerson would be traded and sent to the minors never to be heard from. The kid, stunned, apologized. “Sorry mister.” Now neither the A-train nor I can find it.

If Andrew ever learns his dad moved seats at a game late last year, I’d have a problem. A ball fell right into the seat I had left. Then again I would have muffed it. 

Besides, there will be thousands of balls to come. Maybe one or two will be memorable.

Realign This

June 23, 2011

I needed a serious diversion. It had been raining for days – a soaking, chilly Wisconsin weekend. Andrew’s little league games were washed out. Brewers telecasts were no help as the Crew were finishing a terrible road trip by getting pounded by the Sox in Boston. 

And then Major League Baseball gave me one of the great parlor games: Realignment!

ESPN was reporting a proposal in which the Houston Astros would go to the American League, giving baseball two 15-team leagues. There would be no divisions. Interleague play retained. Each league would have a 4-5 team playoff system culminating in a World Series.

I mulled it over. I had my own initial ideas. Why not? It couldn’t be any more rediculous than all the others. Besides, it’s a parlor game.

So,

Disband the Toronto Blue Jays. Baseball is the “National Past Time.” Well, it used to be – 50 years ago. But the Jays’ attendance is among the worst. And now the Rays are closest to catching the Red Sox and Yanks in the AL East. Here’s a trade? MLB disbands the Jays. The Canadians take back the Coyotes.

Disband the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays. Who would be inconvenienced? It appears “fans” in neither market would really miss the clubs (29th and 30th in home attendance). People might say, “You can’t go to South Beach all the time.”  Yes. Yes, you can. And Tampa, a winner, can’t attract more than 18,000 per game. Lets face it. The best attended baseball in the Sunshine State is Ft Lauderdale for Yankees spring training.

Combine the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s.Kansas City has been declining since the creation of refrigerated rail cars, right? OK, I’ve never been there. But you can only get there by rail road or Greyhound, right. OK. Still after 40 years the Royals can boast of  George Brett, and a blown call at first base. And,yeah, the Green and Gold uni’s and the donkeys were fun. Bando, Catfish, Blue Moon and Rudy were great. And LaRussa’s chemically induced Bash Brothers. But, it’s been more than a  decade since Money Ball and the Magical Been. The two can relocate to Omaha.

Combine the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. Yes, the Nationals are the hottest thing going. Some one should tell the Capital’s residents. The Nat’s are drawing 23,000, 21th in the MLB. The Orioles are getting the same gate. I know. The Orioles have a real history, stretches of success and Washington deserves a chance. True. But not in this exercise.        

The Yankees and Red Sox won’t destrow the game for ever.  The Yanks’ roster is as old as I am (very old). And the Boss has passed. Will the kids be regular winners? The Red Sox? Well, if they were realigned to Finland that would be fine with me. But they’re entitled to a run every 95 years . I don’t think Phillies, Giants, and Rangers fans shouldn’t give up yet.

Fans will lose interest if 75% of all teams has no chance to go to the Series.  Right. Like all clubs in any year since 1900. Alignments won’t produce winners. Today’s divisions system doesn’t insure the Nationals’ success any more than 2 leagues insured the Senators success. It’s all about management and commitment.

How should Interleague play be treated? Easy. Eliminate it. 

In the end, here’s an outcome:

American League – East: Boston, NY Yankees, Cleveland, Detroit, NY Mets, DC-Baltimore.

American League – West: Texas, Houston, Omaha, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago White Sox.

National League – East: Philadelphia, Atlanta, St Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago Cubs.

National League – West: San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado, Arizona, Seattle.  

And, after all of that, the Red Sox and Phillies go to the Series.

I don’t want to root for the Red Sox. Just the name makes me queezy. Sure, I will worrying about their prospects. But, frankly, I have no choice.

The Tosa little league season was about to begin. Andrew and I had gone on the web site when rosters were first posted. He was nervous wondering who had picked him, whether friends would be on his team, how the uni’s would look, and what number  he might wear. They are the concerns of many 11-year olds player.

We were scrolling the list for each team. “Hey, there’s Mathew’s team – the Tigers.” At that moment I noticed all of the teams represented an American League club. He had graduated from the “Minors.” I got it. Dad was a little slow on the up-take. Rays…..A’s…..White Sox…..Rangers…..             

How many of the kids would be enthusiastic starting the season with “Orioles” or “Mariners” on their chests. “Yankees” rolled by. Too bad. My team.

And there it was: Red Sox.  Andrew Nicol will play for the Red Sox.

I don’t like the Boston Red Sox. I have never liked the Boston Red Sox. Growing up in northeast Jersey I had no time for the Boston Red Sox. 

“Look, I’m on the Red Sox!” “That’s great,” I faked. “May be I’ll get ‘8’ like Yaz.” “Cool.” I was trying to sound excited. “Or Pedroia.” Sure. There have to be enough miscreants in the Boston clubhouse to cover uni’s for 13 kids. Or how about Manny? Frank Malzone?

Andrew sensed my mood. “It is just a uniform, Dad. We don’t get real ones. I’m sure we’ll get a red jersey and red cap.” He was assuring me that it was going to be all right. What was the matter with me?

“Of course this year I have to root for the Boston Red Sox because my team is the Red Sox.”

He’s out of the Will.

It was a great holiday weekend. The Brewers were rolling on a home stand when the SF Giants arrived for a three-game series. It couldn’t have been more entertaining. 

Tim Lincecum was starting for the Giants. I had tickets for Saturday afternoon. But I wanted to see “The Freak” in person and he was scheduled to pitch on Friday night. Hm.

I appealed to the High Command. “Listen, I know I have tix for Saturday, but, if we don’t have plans for Friday night, I’m going to exchange them so Andrew and I could see Tim Lincecum. Who knows when Andrew gets to see him.”

Having a young son can really play to a guy’s advantage. My Dad would do the same thing. I’m sure that’s how my brother and I would get to go to the Polo Grounds to see the Giants and Dodgers.

I tried the same ploy and was stunned. “Yeah, ‘the Freak”. Andrew told me about it. Why not go to both games?”

What? What? I think retribution is going to be painful. But there we were in the Loge, 4 rows behind the Giants dugout.

I think Lincecum is the best pitcher in baseball and have been for a couple of years. He is going into the Hall of Fame. He had an 2.09 ERA. He was in a track to again lead in K’s.

Lincecum went seven innings giving up a 2-run blast by Ricky Weeks. The Brewers scratched out a another run to lead 3-1. It wasn’t his best outing but he still looked to be in command.

In the 6th Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum ran out of gas. Unfortunately, he was replaced on the mound only after giving up a grand slam to the Giants Brandon Crawford. The kid has a nice swing but for God’s Sakes a grand slam. It was his first hit in the Majors. Geez.

But the Brewers weren’t done. They loaded the bases in the 9th with two outs. Casey McGehee singled to score Braun but the on third and Prince on second with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. A hit and its tied.

Well, no. Prince tried to score from second but he was thrown out without a crash.

We had seen Lincecum. We had been treated to a great game – tight and dramatic. In a word: draining. OK, draining with a brutal outcome.

Frankly, neither of us was sure we wanted to go Saturday. But, you don’t get too many hall passes. So we went.

Good thing we did. The Brewers scored first when center fielder Carlos Gomez circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. I told Andrew we were lucky to witness the feat.

Both pitchers were hot. It looked like a 2:30 hour game.

Then the Home Plate Ump pulled a muscle, tore a tendon or some darn thing. He couldn’t continue so there was a 20 minute delay as the remaining three pulled lots to see which went behind the plate. In the interim the crowd received a range of fans favorites. You know, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Sweet Caroline”, “Macho Man” and, of course, “YMCA.”

At some point in the interlude Andrew was “dancing” beside his old, overweight , slovenly clothed Dad. It was at that moment Fan Cam (or whatever it is) decided to pan in our direction. More than 40,000 got a good shot of the two of us gyrating. OK. He was gyrating. I was doing what 50+ men do to disco beats.

Andrew loved it. We had an inside-the-park homer and Fan Cam.

But the best was to come. The Giants had scored two undesired runs and it was 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Like the night before the Brewers had a chance to win. And this time they did.

Braun raced from third to the plate seconds before Lecroy buntted the ball towards first. It was unbelievable. It was a suicide squeeze bunt.

The A-train and Dad had witnessed an inside-the-park home, an injured ump, Fan Cam up close and personal, and a game winning suicide squeeze play. Unbelievable. Fantastic. 

The Brewers continued their winning ways on Sunday smacking SF 6-0.

It had been a truly memorable baseball weekend.

Big League Gimmick?

May 23, 2011

Major League Baseball’s interleague has become a gimmick. Worse, it could be harmful to the game. 

I reached this conclusion after the Brewers had finished sweeping the visiting Colorado Rockies. The Crew has won 10 of 12. The Cards and Reds are in sight.  

That was little interest to my brother. He had taken my young nephew, Cam, to NYC for the Yankees-Mets Interleague series. It was a great idea. I told Kathleen we should take the kids on a similar trip. My I idea is Philly to DC – a little national history, a lot of baseball. This was a good opportunity for Bill to take Cam because he had changed jobs. The next vacation might be 12 months away. 

And, sure, the Subway Series is cool for those of us who grew up in Jersey. But I consider it more an exhibition.  

What interleague does do is disrupt and alter an MLB season. Interleague produces imbalanced competition. Consider the following.

Commissioner Selig had sought realignment since there had been 30 teams but 15 in each League. Adopting a plan for 16 (NL) and 14 (Al), clubs could be moved based upon regions, rivalries and other reasons business or competition.

After months of analysis, comment and debate only the Brewers moved. That was “realignment” baseball style. Instead we get unbalanced schedules and competition. Consider the following.

Yes, fans have seen the glamor series – Yanks-Mets, Sox-Cubs, Giants-A’s, Cards-Royals and Reds-Indians. But for every one of those match-ups MLB gave us White Sox-Dodgers, D-backs-Twins, Houston-Toronto, and Pirates-Tigers.

Yes, interleague play has teams like the Yanks, Red Sox and Giants coming to “foreign” markets, but this isn’t the NBA schedule when each city gets to see Kobi and LaBron. It’s more like seeing the Dead or the Stones.

And what about those glamor tours? Well, the Red Sox play interleague series against the Cubs, Brewer, Padres, Astros and Pirates. The Yankees play Mets, Cubs, Reds, Rockies and Brewers. The Rays get the Marlins and the NL Central clubs – Brewers, Astros, Reds and Cardinals. What?!

Its exhibition baseball or worse.

Too bad my brother went to the exhibition. He could have flown in from Denver and spent the weekend with us. I would have bought all the ticks to watch his Rockies get swept in a meaningful series.

The Brewers have played only 31 games into a 162 game season. They have a dismal record, 13-18. Still it’s been only 31 games. The Crews’ poor start has to be put into perspective.

First, there are still 131 games to go. Of course, that’s 131 games of 162. By my math 20% of the season is over.

No problem. It’s not how many games they play. It’s a matter of how many they win. Assuming a final record of 90-72, a club would have a winning percentage of .555. Hey, you don’t have to be the Big Red Matheen to hit that target.

Of course, with a start of 13-18, the Brewers would have to go 77-54 or a winning percentage of .587. Not easy. 

Forget the pure math. A winning percentage among the NL Central clubs should be enough. Although .555 might be just a little shy in the division based upon the past 2 years – Cincy in 2010 (.562) and St. Louis in 2009 (.562). And the Cards are at .563. So 90 wins might be just a little short.

Only the Cubs pierced the .565 the division’s winning percentage barrier in recent years. Chicago had a .602 winning percentage in 2008. The Brewers finished that season with a .556 winning percentage and a Wild Card invite to Philly.

A Wild Card finish this season could be possible but for the 5 or more contenders. At this point, based upon winning percentage, you can ID the Marlins (don’t laff), Braves (just swept the Brewers 4 in Atlanta), Reds (2010 Division Champs), and Giants (just World Champs). Then add the current division leaders – Phillies, Cards and Rockies. That’s 8 clubs including the Brewers.

That’s crowded. OK. Forget the Wild Card. Back to winning the division.

The Brewers are just 5 games behind the division lead! Sure, they are barely ahead of the Astros and have to climb over the Cubs, Pirates and Reds to get to the Cardinals. They won’t be in a two-team race for a month like the 1951 Giants and Dodgers (or even the Giants and Padres).  

But they do visit St. Louis this weekend for 3 games. Despite losing 6 in a row against the Astros and Braves, the Crew could turn it around. They might collect some two-out hits. Some one other than Braun and Fielder might drive in a run. May be none of them won’t get caught on the bases, booting the ball or throwing to the wrong base. Perhaps their bullpen won’t melt down. Maybe they can turn it around.

Forget the records and play. May be they can get 2 of 3.

It’s baseball. There are 131 games left. It’s a long season……

Is Major League Baseball actually going to take over the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most prestigious franchises. It sure looks like it might.

Frank McCourt has a peck of problems – personal and financial – which has left the club’s viability teetering. The Dodgers are $400 million in debt and had to borrow $30 million from FOX to meet expenses. In addition to the financial conditions of the club, the Dodgers “brand” (frankly I hate the term, but it is a business) has taken a beating over the past few years.

The Dodgers have a long and distinguished history. The club was formed in 1888. While most fans are familiar with the Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn’s streets, the club was first the Bridegrooms for multiple players getting hitched at the same time.

And theirs is a history of success. The Dodgers’ 6 World Series are more than all but the Yanks, Cards and Bosox. It seems like the Dodgers have been in the Series, or a force, every decade.

(Note: As a Yanks fan I have to point out most of the Boston success was when there were real trolley dodgers in Brooklyn.)   

The Dodgers broke the color barrier. Baseball got the Dodgers-Yankees clashes of the ’50s. They opened the West (suckered the Giants to Candlestick and gave us the Mets. Ouch.). They have given us “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!…” and “I can’t believe what I just saw!.” They have given the game Jackie, the Duke, Kofax and Drysdale among 57 players, managers, executives, and broadcasters in the Hall of Fame.    

Heck, they gave the game the Kansas City Royals. OK, big deal. But owner Ewing Kauffman emulated the uni’s and created a “school” based on the Dodgers facility in Vero Beach.

Yes, the Dodgers have been a model – but they are not now.

Now they are in the hands of McCourt, Selig, and their attorneys.  Pee Wee is tossing in his grave.

It could have been one of the worst Mondays in a long time. But, in the end it was fantastic, memorable.

The Brewers were swept by the Washington Nationals over the weekend in DC. The Nat’s had been 5-7. What’s worse the Brewers had won 7 of 9 after starting the season getting swept by the Reds. 

Sure, it was only 15 games of 162. But it was a bad start. And, the Crew would be starting a 3-game series with Philadelphia Phillies, the odds-on favorite to get to the Series. The year wasn’t going to collapse on April 18th, right?

I was mulling the question during the 10 am Water Aerobics class at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. Water aerobics hadn’t been my idea. For a couple of reasons, I have the hips of a 12-year old collie. Kathleen had demanded I go.

The first time I attended a session I looked around the lobby and thought “Not bad. A group of 60-year old guys attempting to stay in shape.” Then I realized these guys were dropping off their 80-year old mothers.

I changed my focus to the fact Kate and I had sent out our taxes over the weekend. That was great. We signed the return with 3 days to go. Good thing. It was snowing.

It’s Monday morning. The Brewers had been swept by Washington. I was bobbing in a pool with octogenarian to the beat of disco. I had just sent a check to the Feds. It was snowing.

Brutal. And then, the most fabulous thing in the world happened.    

Kathleen, my wife and partner, won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in the category of “Explanatory” for a series covering treatment of a little boy, Nic, and DNA sequencing. Kate was one of the reporters and photographers who had followed Nic’s challenges over 12 months. It is an incredible story. And Kate and her colleagues got it all down. You can read the series – “One in a Billion” – at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (www.jsonline.com).

It was a most beautiful day. Like no other.