Monday, March 29, 2010

Through The Eyes Of...Garrett Berger and The iFungo Ordinance Bat Line

The following is part of a weekly series called "Through the Eyes Of....". In each segment, I share interviews with or stories about those that I view to be the "Good Guys."
"Through the Eyes of..." is a part of my personal crusade to present baseball in all it's beauty, splendor, and goodness, instead of through hashing and rehashing all that is broken with our National treasure.

It is 12:40 a.m. and my family has been asleep for nearly four hours, while I am still glued to the longest double shutout I can ever remember.

Fifteen innings, 11 hits total and zero runs scored between the Red Sox and Yanks. In my world, believe it or not, it doesn't get any better than this.

As I write, A-Rod deposits one in the seats and the play-by-play man dubs him a hero. I chuckle to myself. Partially in disgust, as the Sox have fallen another game behind the Bronx Bombers, but due in part to the announcers loose use of the word "hero."

I flip off the tube and decide to finish my Q and A piece with Garrett Berger, the first pick of the Florida Marlins in the 2001 draft. Quite fittingly, Garrett Berger knows who the "true heroes" are and is doing something about honoring them.

You see, Garrett Berger is the owner and CEO of iFungo. And while our troops are fighting around the globe to ensure our freedom, Garrett Berger is doing all he can to make sure we don't forget them while they're away.

So, as you read my interview with Garrett Berger and learn about his new Ordinance Line of baseball bats, remember...A-Rod's not a hero. The men and women of the US Armed Forces and their husbands and wives and children who are waiting for them to come home are our heroes.

Civ: After baseball, you started iFungo. How did this come about?

GB: The idea was presented to me and then I immediately jumped at it. I thought it was a great idea and concept and had always thought it would be beneficial for people to sell premium products to all players.

My first few years in pro ball, I saw a demand for high-end equipment, especially for those players without agents. Now, not only do we supply minor leaguers with their equipment, but now we make professional equipment available to the masses.

Civ: Explain what iFungo does/is.

GB: iFungo supplies all players with high-end equipment. Whether you’re a professional or a professional at heart we offer the same equipment the guys on TV use and make our amateur/professional players more confident in their pursuit of their dreams. Whether it is pro gloves or big league bats, we have it all.

Civ: Who have you met in the baseball world that readers would know; your coolest brush with greatness?

GB: Playing for six years in affiliated ball you meet a lot of great players and great guys. The past two years playing for Tommy John was a priceless experience. The players that were on my team as well made my time there a very humbling experience.

Between the guys I played with and the guys I played against, it made a great experience playing with the true professionals like them.

Civ: Tell me about your new venture with USA Cares.

GB: iFungo has teamed up with USA Cares to create a way to give back to the brave men and women who defend our freedom. We call it the “iFungo Ordinance Bats.” These bats are very special in every sense of the word.

Family members can now purchase bats with their soldiers name and rank on Line One, as well as, a personal message to them on Line Two.

Fifty percent of every bat sold will go to USA Cares and our goal is to reach 555 bats by 9-11-09 so we can donate $10,000.

We just had a bat sold the other day with the personal message, “Husband, Father…Hero.”

With personal messages like these you can feel the type of power and emotion we are bringing to the table with these bats. I am truly grateful to be a part of something like this.

Civ: What did USA Cares say when you came to them with the proposal?

GB: They loved the idea. There are a couple of wood bat companies that have had similar ideas but none of which were willing to donate 50% to them. They have been great about trying to help us get this cause out there.

Civ: Who do you see buying the bats?

GB: Anyone. Businesses, families, celebrities, anyone who wants to supports these brave men and women.

We would love celebrities to purchase these bats and take them overseas when they visit the troops so they can sign them and give the troops something special, while helping a great cause and organization in USA Cares.

Soldiers can even purchase them for their sons or daughters to be used in their games! I mean how great would it be to have the son or daughter of a soldier step up to the plate swinging a bat with their parents or family member's name on it. If that doesn’t give you confidence at the plate, I don’t know what will!

Civ: Do you have family or friends in the military?

GB: Yes my parents' god son is in Baghdad right now; as well as I know a few friends over there as well.

Civ: How is the program doing so far?

GB: Its going great! We have received a great response of people about the bats and how they love the overall concept. So now it’s all about spreading the word of mouth and getting these amazing bats in the hands of soldiers or soldiers' kids.

Civ: Do you envision kids of the military using the bat in a game or displaying it?

GB: Yes. Think of the power in this. A player is playing in a wood bat tournament and his family member is serving overseas.

He steps up to the plate with an ordinance bat with his family members name and a personal message on the bat saying, “We love you son” or “Swing hard!” If that doesn’t give you goose bumps, you're un-American!

Civ: Think back, if you were the child of a military person using one of these bats in a game, what would be going through your little head?

GB: This is all theoretical for me, because I could never say I was one of those kids, however, I can only imagine the confidence that this bat would be able to provide for these players.

They won’t have to think what horrible things there family member is facing because right before they step in to the box they can see them saying, “It’s ok” or “We Love You!” Very powerful stuff!

To order your iFungo Ordinance Bat go to

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for the Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at with comments or story ideas.

He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own", the award winning children's book that is capturing the heart of the nation. For more information visit the site at and purchase under today's donor code USC247 USACARES.

Friday, March 26, 2010

J-NO Celebrates Birthday 1980's Style

On the 22nd day of March during a wide-ranging span of years throughout history, the Heavens parted and out dropped the likes of many famous individuals from various walks of life including: comedian Chico Marx (1887), actor Karl Malden (1912), "Captain Kirk" William Shatner (1931), Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko (1972), actress Reese Witherspoon (1976), composer Andrew Lloyd Weber (1948) and sportscaster Bob Costas (1952). Each spent this day celebrating the anniversary of their birth some number of years ago.

Little did Boston Breakers' midfielder Jen Nobis know that when parents Pam and Mike Nobis headed for that little hospital in Quincy, Illinois on that fateful day in 1984, that she would end up sharing her special day with such an illustrious group.

With Marx and Malden laid safely to rest and Captain Kirk, Stojko, Witherspoon, Weber and Costas undoubtedly celebrating with family, the star of the Breakers got together with a couple of her closest friends, Darci and Kim, and celebrated birthday number 26 this week, 1980's style.

JNO, as she is called by friends and teammates, will likely miss the season due to an injury to her ACL. She has healed enough, however, to exhibit a few of her famed dance moves and displays of flexibility as filmed in her suburban (and somewhat unkempt) Boston apartment.

Nobis, whose outgoing and open personality has made her a media darling amongst local professional athletes, was willing to share her celebration as part of this exclusive birthday interview and her festive YouTube video shot prior to her night on the town with Darci and Kim.

Somehow I think I can hear Girls Just Wanna Have Fun blasting out of the eight-track player of Nobis' lime green Gremlin tooling around the streets of Boston. Happy Birthday JNO...and many more.

Todd Civin: Were you especially excited when you woke on your special day?

Jennifer Nobis: Yes, and then I realized I was up at 6:00 AM because I had to nanny! Such is the life of an injured Breaker.

TC: What flavor birthday cake is your favorite?

JNO: Confetti birthday cake!!!!!

TC: Do you eat the cake or the frosting first or both at the same time?

JNO: All at the same time. Love the feeling of double sweetness!

TC: Do you have a special birthday ritual?

JNO: I turn my music loud and sing the birthday song in whatever style of song I am listening too! Happy Birthday to me!

TC: What was the menu for your birthday dinner?

JNO: My favorite meal of ALL times is Macaroni and Tomato juice, so that's what we feasted on. I'll share the recipe with your readers. It's super simple. Drain the macaroni and put Campbell's tomato juice in it. DON'T mistake this for Tomato paste or soup. It's straight up JUICE. The key ingredient though is lots and lots of pepper! Enjoy!

TC: Was there a theme to your party?

JNO: I was born in '84, so our theme was 80’s!

TC: Did your host family get you anything special?

JNO: Sure did. They left for Paris for ten days and I had the big house to myself. The perfect gift.

TC: Any game playing like pin the tail on the donkey, bobbing for apples, clothes pin in the bottle?

JNO: Spin the bottle. Just kidding. We had a handstand contest, dance contest and, of course, who could get the most numbers that night! Ha,ha.

Tell us about your best birthday party growing up. How did this compare?

JNO: I had too many great ones. My twin and I use to have our birthday parties at the gymnastic center. Ha, ha I miss sharing my parties with Tyler.

TC: Who had the most outrageous 80's costume?

JNO: The birthday girl of course!! I was “Classic” 80’s, while Darci was “Cheerleader” 80’s and Kim was “Barbie” 80’s.

TC: Describe the music played at your party.

JNO: Ace of Base, Michael Jackson, Gangster Paradise. Let's say, I'm a well-rounded girl with lots of variety.

TC: Were there any birthday spankings or other approved "rough play"?

JNO: Todd, you know better that any kind of spanking isn't approved or appropriate at the age of 26.

TC: What is your preference, the traditional happy birthday song or the version sung at the 99 or Outback?

JNO: Neither, I like the Beatles version , but my favorite is when my parents and brother call me every year and sing to me!

TC: After playing in Sweden this season, can you say Happy Birthday in Swedish?

JNO: Grattis pŒ fšdelsedagen.

TC: What was your favorite gift received?

JNO: My underwater IPOD, so now I can swim laps and listen to music. From my parents. I LOVE YOU!!!

TC: Do you prefer a Hallmark or a homemade birthday card?

JNO: Homemade, by far!!

TC: Do you consider yourself to be 26 years old or 26 years young?

JNO: I am a 26-year-old who lives in a ten-year-old's body and mind! Well maybe not so much body, but mind for sure.

TC: At what age will you stop celebrating birthdays?

JNO: Never! Celebrating keeps you young no matter what age!

Jennifer Nobis' frequent blog posts can also be found at Connect World Football , along with that of fellow Boston Breaker, Tiffany Weimer and several other female soccer stars.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report, Sports, Then and Now, and Seamheads. He also shares his top stories on his blog The 'xoxo' of Sports. He is a supporter of Team Hoyt, the father/son marathon and triathlon team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. He encourages you to support their movement of "Yes, I Can" by visiting their Web site at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why Build Your Kids a Fort When You Can Build Them a Web Site?

A couple summers ago, I thought I'd score some big points with my step son, Dakota. I promised him I'd build him and the neighborhood kids a fort in our back yard. I slaved for literally hours. I sat down and drew out plans. I used a T square and a triangle and designed a mansion that looked like it came from Newport, RI.

Unfortunately for Dakota and the rest of the kids, my design skills are far superior to my carpentry skills. The poor little guys ended up with a dilapidated shack that looked like it had been built by Spanky and the crew from Our Gang. My wife, Kate, wouldn't even let the kids venture inside.

I later found out that the kids used to pee in the fort when they were locked out of the house and nature called.

When the guy next door, who happened to double as a carpenter came over laughing but with hammer and saw in hand, was I relieved?

So, I assume that when Mike Winn's kids, Michael, Ryan, and Samantha asked him to build them a sports journalism Web site instead of a fort, Mike was equally relieved. Unless, of course, he happens to be blessed with that G.D. carpenter gene that some how eluded my gene pool (Thanks, Dad!).

In December of 2008, Winn, who is the general manager at Absolute Broadcasting and WGAM Radio in Manchester, NH, used his knowledge of sports and the Internet to create Boston Sports U18, a sportswriting and reporting web site for aspiring writers under the age of 18. Much like Bleacher Report, but for the Hanna Montana crowd, the site allows both Winn's kids and others to report sports from a kids perspective.

"During my career I have met many very talented kids that really want to get into sports journalism," said Winn, who also coaches baseball, football and basketball in his free time. "I thought this would be a great way to give them practice. I just kind of put my love of sports and the need for a journalism site together."

Much the opposite to my kid's fort, Winn's project seems to be built on a sturdy foundation. "Right now, we have 7-10 bloggers between the ages of 9 and 18. It fluctuates as kids get busy or they go and get girl friends" laughed Winn.

The well designed site, which can be found at, has articles about the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, as well as many of the minor league sports. "The kids can pretty much write about anything they want to, as long as it is Boston or New England sports related. It's their site."

Winn, who playfully taunted me when he told of he and his kids had dinner with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek last fall, sees the site as a way to give opportunities to his kids and any child who participates.

"I've been in the radio business for 15 years or so," Winn says. "It has given me the opportunity to do things I never imagined I would be able to do and meet people who were my heroes growing up. It has also allowed me to offer perks to my own kids."

Being slightly over the age of 18, Winn doesn't write for the site, but he too gets excited when he gets to meet sports legends.

"I got to have lunch with Red Auerbach about five or six years ago as part of a promotion," he says. "For a kid who grew up bleeding green, you can't get much better than that."

I asked if he shared a victory cigar with Red and he said, "He gave me a cigar that I will probably never smoke."

Boston Sports U 18 currently has promotions running with the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Lowell Spinners, where youth bloggers are actually able to go to the games and interview budding major league ball players.

"I am thrilled to be working with an organization like the Pawtucket Red Sox” explained Winn. “The PawSox are the Red Sox of tomorrow and will be a great partner for Boston Sports U18.”

Though I, too, am about three decades beyond the 18-year-old age limit, I visited the site and was amazed at all the bells and whistles it offers. Articles about kids nutrition, videos about how to break in a baseball glove and how to shoot a slap shot, as well as photos, games, and even a story about Ryan and Mike Winn's sky diving experience.

"I was only an average athlete growing up but I've been involved in sports through coaching and through my job," Winn says. "I love the lessons of life that sports can teach kids and I think involvement in sports has helped me to deal better in business situations as well."

I asked Winn if any of the parents ever get involved. "I make all parents sign a consent form because we publish the kids names and in same cases a bio on the kids. All of the parents have been very appreciative of the opportunity that the kids have been given.

"I also hear from the parents of readers who like that the site is a 'positive site' and doesn't get into many of the 'off the field issues' that some of the athletes run into."

I concluded my day with the "Winn"er of the Father of the Year Competition by asking what he'd like to see the site become. "I would really like to expand into radio and TV with a weekly show," Winn says. "I think the goal is to provide interesting information to sports minded kids and also develop some good sports journalists.

"My wife and kids have been very supportive to put up with Daddy being on the computer a lot at night posting blogs, emailing out marketing ideas and reaching out to total strangers and asking for help."

I left Mike's office and drove home thinking what I could do to give to my kids and their friends in the same way Mike has. And then it hit me. I got home, strapped on my tool belt and headed into the backyard to try to shore up that fort I built.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Man with the Golden Touch

In the grand scheme of things, I know nothing. Oh sure, I think I have things all figured out—some days more than others. But, whenever I try to think of the world, the Universe, God's creation, I truly get freaked out.

It is bigger than I am. God is too amazing, too huge, and too omnipotent for a mere human like me to stay one step ahead.

I often think that this amazing play that God is writing is similar to a soap opera. In a Soap, something may happen last July, which helps to explain what happens six months from now.

I'm not sure if the writer's know in advance or figure it out as they go, though. God, I believe, has a little better handle on things than the writers of "As All My Children Turn the World's Hospital."

Well, I'm about to tell you about the story of Danny Gearin. It's a two part story. Part one is how his touch forever changed my world. The second part is about how his touch changed the worlds of many.

In the fall of 1976, I was a wide-eyed freshman at David Prouty High School. I had long brown hair to about my shoulders, which was the rage in the mid 70's in Spencer.

As I walked down the crowded halls of dear old DPHS, I was dwarfed by the throng of kids in the hallway. At about 5'0" tall, I was clearly the Little David in which represents David Prouty to this day.

As I hustled to Mrs. Rivers' English class, a hand reached out from the office of the Athletic Director and touched my scrawny shoulder. I looked up and saw a man with a bald head and a gentle, kind smile. He was wearing a plaid sport jacket and khaki slacks.

He squeezed my shoulder with his big, wrinkled mitt.

"Hey kid. You like sports?" I remember being startled until I saw who it was.

I recognized Mr. Gearin as the school A.D.

"Yes, sir." I said it in a tiny pre-pubescent crackling voice (or so I suspect).

"Can you write?" he continued.

I lied and said yes.

"I need you to be at the football field tomorrow for the Prouty-Millbury game. You're our stringer. I need you to call the Worcester Telegram and Gazette office and tell Gus Gushe who you are."

For the next four years, I didn't miss a high school basketball or football game. Like the post office, I sat through wind and rain and autumn snow and never missed calling in stats, buzzer beaters, and long touchdown runs. I covered cheerleading tournaments (rode on the bus with the cheerleaders, I might add).

I also ended up having my own weekly sports column in the local paper, The New Leader, and twice had cover story pieces.

Once I wrote about Mike Pecha, an independent truck driver and his plight to survive as diesel fuel rose to almost a dollar a gallon...(yes, $1.00 for a gallon of diesel...1978). I also wrote about small town farmer Ken Adams and his plight to survive due to state regulations which controlled the price that he could sell milk for.

Gearin's golden touch sent me to Syracuse University where I majored in newspaper journalism and met the greatest friends that a guy could ever ask for.

In the mid 90's, I published my own magazine for three years, and now, I do what I love and write for the Bleacher Report. I even believe that Danny's touch will be instrumental, as I wait for a call from in hopes of landing the greatest job this guy could ever hope for—a gig with the Red Sox.

Yes, Danny Gearin's firm touch upon this 13-year-old boy's shoulder forever changed my life.

When Danny passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack during my senior year of high school, I wrote a good bye piece entitled "Only The Good Die Young". Danny was good.

But, my life wasn't the only life that Danny changed.

See, 53 years ago today, "Little Danny" Gearin's touch changed the lives of more than just me, when tiny Assumption College of Worcester took on, then perennial power-house, Holy Cross.

The following is excerpted from a story which appears in the Assumption College Intercollegiate Athletic Brochure to this day.

It was Assumption's grandest moment on the court . . .

"Little Danny Gearin, a home-grown product, perpetuated the greatest upset the auditorium has ever known last night when he blithely swished home a free throw after playing time had expired, to shove Assumption College's perky upstarts to a 69-68 victory over Holy Cross." It was March 7, 1957 - 50 years ago!

Worcester Telegram Sports Editor Paul Johnson's memorable first paragraph said it all. Assumption College, a school with barely more than 100 students, knocking off the former N.I.T. and N.C.A.A. champions from across town. It was then, and still is today, the single most important date in Assumption College athletics history.

When the tornado ripped through the old campus on June 9, 1953, the rebuilding process began immediately. It was the idea of then President Rev. Armand Desautels, A.A. to give scholarships for basketball in the hope it would help raise awareness and much-needed funds. By 1957, the College had relocated to a brand new campus and the basketball team finished 21-1 as the premier small college team in New England.

The Greyhounds chose to play in the Pete Houston Appreciation Day doubleheader in lieu of advancing to their third straight regional tournament. The games benefited Houston who suffered a head injury earlier in the season and twice required brain surgery. The funds collected helped defray medical costs.

"Gearin's free throw-and he might well have stifled a yawn before shooting, so calm was he at the line-was the climax of a dramatic evening of basketball in front of more than 3,000 fans."

....... And the drama unfolded over the waning minutes as the Hounds crept back in, down 68-64, with 1:53 left. Gearin's rebound and left-hand hook shot cut the gap to two. With 25 seconds left O'Brien hit his fourth straight jumper over a Goba screen to tie the game and set the stage for Gearin's post-buzzer heroics.

Gearin's heroics may have been foreshadowed by the season opener, when he swished a jumper at the buzzer to give the Hounds a rousing 57-56 overtime win at Providence College. It was one of Assumption's most impressive years, as the Greyhounds would never again beat both Providence and Holy Cross in the same season.

So, I sit and wonder if Danny is overlooking us all today. His protege of sorts is busily typing at the computer and thinking of how Danny's touch changed his life...

And I suppose his teammates are sitting in their living rooms at 15 different parts of the Globe telling their grandkids how Danny Gearin's touch changed their lives too.

Danny...wherever you are...Swish. Swish.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bernie Williams Drives Home the Winning Message of "A Glove of Their Own"

When any baseball fan hears the name Bernie Williams, a distinct image immediately comes to mind. Brimming with class, a confident smile, and, of course, dressed in pinstripes, Williams is to the Yankees what The Stadium is to the Yankees—forever connected until the very end of time.

Williams, however, possesses the undeniable character traits which transcend the uniform and are universally admired by fans from New York, Chicago and, yes, even Boston, whenever his name is mentioned.

"Bernie Williams is a class act," explains Bob Salomon, coach of the award-winning children's story A Glove of Their Own. "I guarantee you that every teammate, every opponent, and every fan of baseball describes him in much the same way. A kind and caring family man, who also happened to be one hell of a baseball player.

"Bernie, the man, is far bigger than any stats he put up on the board," added Salomon, who is the "man behind the movement" that has the entire baseball world talking about his wonderful children's story.

"He defines what my project is all about."

Williams is the latest in a growing roster of star players and coaches who not only promote A Glove of Their Own, but who have aligned themselves with its message of giving.

"It's about paying it forward and that is what these players are all about. Players like Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Tommy John, Dick Drago, Craig Biggio, Roy White, Phil Niekro, Ken Griffey and Luis Tiant Jr.," Salomon said. "These are the players who have become synonymous with kindness and have become such a huge part of the movement that surrounds the pages of the book."

Salomon and authors Keri Conkling, Debbie Moldovan, and Lisa Funari-Willever created A Glove of Their Own less than a year ago as a way to teach kids about paying it forward through baseball.

The book has a heartfelt, rhyming message that allows children to experience giving through a simple act of kindness performed by a stranger. It is through this act that the message of the book becomes apparent.

Salomon, a Little League coach, husband, and father of two, considers himself fortunate to work with the players and often has difficulty understanding the magnitude of what he is building.

"I speak to these athletes frequently. Guys like Drago, Tiant, Junior, and Tommy John have become my friends," Salomon said. "Their advice is invaluable and we share a mutual love of the game.

"Bernie and the other players worked their whole career to project a certain image every time they put on the uniform. They played the game the right way. They were bigger than steroids, cheating and skyrocketing salaries, and they each lived their life outside of baseball in much the same way.

"I'm confident that if you took the salaries out of the game, these guys would still suit up each day, slap on some eye-black and be at the field two hours before game time. That's what these guys stand for and what my book stands for, too."

Salomon speaks endlessly about using the book to heal the black eye that baseball has gotten in recent years. He is passionate about cleaning up the negativity that surrounds the sport and uses the book as part of his platform to resurrect the game's image.

"Baseball has gotten a bad name and that really upsets me," he said. "It's time to start discussing the positives in baseball. To bring baseball back to what it was intended to be. Baseball is a kids game. This is what my whole project is about. Giving baseball and all the goodness that surrounds it back to the kids."

Like perhaps no other, Salomon is humbled by the greatness of the lineup he has assembled and is grateful for their participation in the project.

"This isn't about statistics. It's about the character of the man," he said. "This All-Star team is about far more than hits, walks, and errors. It's about life."

And the addition of Williams gives Salomon the clean-up hitter that allows him to knock his message home.

"Bernie represents what this project is all about," Salomon said. "The man lives to give.

"People often forget about the goodness that these athletes try to promote. That's why they start their own foundations. As a way to thank God for the amazing good fortune that they have been blessed with."

Players, coaches and organizations like Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Modell's Sporting Goods, Upper Deck, and iFungo have also aligned themselves with the book and are using it as part of their campaign of giving.

For each sale of the book, $3.30 is donated to any of the 100 affiliated non-profit organizations listed on a drop down menu on the book's popular Web site.

"We have some wonderful organizations that are benefiting from sales of the book," Salomon said. "Groups like Covenant House, who recently came on board and does so many great things for homeless children. It is a great pleasure to welcome them as part of the Glove team."

According to Salomon, he's nowhere near finished with his vision. He has plans to continually update the book to include a reference section where fans can be made aware of the players' foundations and showcase all the good that they do off the field.

"The final step in my project is to hold a huge charity event that brings all of the players together to simply thank them and to let the fans thank them," Salomon said. "Then—and only then—will my mission be complete."

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for Bleacher Report, Seamheads, and Boston Sports Then and Now. He can be reached at He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award-winning children's story that teaches paying it forward through baseball.

Please visit the site at and purchase the book under today's donor code CVH113 Covenant House Foundation or RWF626 The Roy White Foundation, as $3.00 from each book sold will be donated to these wonderful charities, while an additional 30 cents will be used to purchase sporting equipment for underprivileged children.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

They're Talkin Baseball With Grilli on WTAM 1100 Cleveland

With Opening Day only four weeks away, it doesn’t get any better than hearing Jason Grilli talk about the ticket that got him here. Grilli sits down with Cleveland Indians beat writer, Nick Camino, on WTAM 1100 AM Cleveland Indians Radio, aka The Big One in this up close and personal talk about Spring Training 2010.

Listening to Grill Cheese talk about topics including, his chances of making the 2010 version of the Cleveland Indians, his off-season preparation and pitching for Team Italia in the World Baseball Classic makes it nearly impossible to think of anything, but Opening Day.

Grilli and fellow Italian, Camino, share some good ol’ Pisan humor during this candid and entertaining interview at the Indians Spring Training facility in Goodyear, AZ. Grill and Camino even break away from baseball for a bit and discuss Grilli’s business, Perfect Pitch Marketing and the new CU3000 Globalinx Video Phone.

So sit back, relax, oil up the mitt and listen to Grilli talk baseball on WTAM 1100, The Big One!

The Jason Grilli Interview on Radio WTAM with Nick Camino

Read Jason Grilli’s blog daily at or visit his website at Grilli speaks about social networking, baseball, business opportunity and shares stories of inspiration through his daily blog posts. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting Silly With Angeli; Boston Breakers Jordan Angeli

The following is part of a weekly series in which writer Todd Civin presents the lighter side of the Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS).

The league is built based on the down-to-earth nature and approachability of its athletes. "Getting Silly with the Breakers" is a fun-filled way to create a comfortable bond between the fans and the professional athletes who are the Boston Breakers.

A special thanks to Erica Hunt, the communications director for the team, as well as the players themselves for making this approach possible.

Boston Breakers rookie defender, Jordan Angeli, tweeted the following last night in anticipation for her initial day as an official member of Women's Professional Soccer, "First day with the Breakers tomorrow."

For most little girls the thought of starting work as a professional soccer player, would probably be mind boggling. For the little red headed girl from Lakewood, Colorado, the thought is a lesson in dedication and perseverance.

Angeli, who was named the 2009 West Coast Conference (WCC) defender of the year while playing for the Santa Clara Broncos, has waited for this day for six years after being forced to red-shirt the 2007 and 2008 seasons due to debilitating knee injuries.

Angeli, who scored twelve goals as a sophomore in 2005, suffered a torn ACL in her left knee before her senior season in 2007. After months of grueling rehab, the same ligament gave away as she prepared for her second senior season in 2008.

Third time is a charm they say as her injury is now a distant memory. She came back as strong as ever during her "third" senior campaign, leading the Broncos to a 14-7-2 record. While starting all 23 games for Santa Clara, she led the team in goals (7), points (17), and game winners (4) while scoring the game-winning goal in overtime on two occasions (Sept. 6 at Georgetown, and Oct. 18 at St. Mary's).

Her long awaited entry into the professional ranks was made official when Breakers coach Tony DiCicco slected her in the second round with the 16th pick in the draft. She and four of her Santa Clara teammates were selected in the 2010 draft, second only to University of North Carolina with seven.

So as Angeli prepares to step on the Breakers practice field to start her much awaited WPS career, the precocious gal with the orange locks was nice enough to let her hair down in the following edition of Getting Silly with the Breakers.

As you will see, she not only plays a mean game of soccer, but can also play the recorder with her nose and isn't afraid to exchange a few barbs when prodded.

Todd Civin: How long does it take you to straighten your hair?

Jordan Angeli: I have a pretty good system going now so I can just blow-dry it straight in about 20 minutes. Then I have to touch it up a little after to make sure its not too poofy. Sometimes it can resemble look something like a Pomeranian! This is much better then the 45 minutes it used to take. But this is a rare occasion, I tend to rock the curls most of the time.

TC: The Santa Clara media guide states that you can play the recorder with your nose...will you be putting on a demonstration for your new teammates?

JA: Give me a recorder and I will give them a little tune to sing-a-long to!

TC: It states your favorite cartoon growing up was Ninja Turtle. Which of the four was your favorite and why?

JA: I liked Michelangelo. Orange was my favorite color so that was my initial connection to him. Then he was a goof-ball and loved pizza so it was a match made in heaven.

TC: What has been your greatest all-time soccer moment

JA: This is a hard one. Playing Notre Dame my sophomore year was such a fun game. Scoring two goals and beating the defending National Champs at home under the lights was pretty amazing. I also loved playing for my country and with some of my best friends in the U20 World Cup in Russia. Our game against Germany in the quarters was one of the best games I have ever played in.

But, I am most proud of this past fall when I overcame all my injuries to play every game my senior year. Stepping back on the field in my Number 18 Santa Clara jersey was one of the top five happiest moments of my life. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole game.

TC: It took you six years to graduate college, too much partying?

JA: When you're the life of the party, no one wants you to leave! That and none of my teachers would pass me. No, I had a couple of injuries that held me back, but it just made the old saying "college is the best four years of your life" change a little to "the best six years of my life." I was okay with that!

TC: You red-shirted your 2007 and 2008 seasons, did the shirt clash with your hair?

JA: Yes and it was traumatizing! Red was never my color. I should of thought of that before I got injured.

TC: Your Favorite shop at Belmar Shopping Mall?

JA: Tough one...I probably spend the most money there at the movie theater, my last purchase being Valentine's Day. There is a little coffee shop called, The Press Coffee which has delicious drinks and treats. But, my all time favorite was American Apparel which I loved, but they took it out a couple years ago. So I guess I am still kinda mad at them for taking that out.

TC: Will Santa Clara Stuft Pizza be naming a menu item after you?

JA: Actually, now that you mention it, I need to call them back with a confirmation on the new pizza flavor. Guess you will just have to take a trip to Stuft to find out what it is.

TC: And your greatest achievement or moment outside of soccer?

JA: In college I was in a business writing class where we had to develop a community service project and implement it. Our group chose Right to Play, which give underprivileged kids in countries across the world a chance to play sports. We raised over $1,300 which was donated directly to Right to Play.

The reason it meant so much to me is because sport has been such a huge part of my life and I was excited to help provide that opportunity to other kids from all over the world. The class was awesome and it is an accomplishment that I will never forget.

TC: You scored a team leading 12 goals as a sophomore on 80 shots. Six game winners. Were you the biggest thing on campus?

JA: If you would call someone who is carried around on a queen-like throne the biggest thing on campus, then yes.

TC: Greatest player in SCU history, you, Leslie Osborne, Ali Wagner or Brandi Chastain?

JA: That is a tough one. I obviously don't quite belong with those caliber of players yet because all three of them are amazing and I look up to all of them. But of course, I have to go with my good friend and teammate again, Leslie Osborne.

TC: Did you participate in the cardboard boat race made famous at Green Mountain High or was that started after you graduated?

JA: It must be a new thing because I have never heard of it. And, my family could vouch for this, that I probably wouldn't be too good at making a cardboard boat because I have always been better at taking things apart/breaking them then putting them together.

TC: Describe your ideal breakfast?

JA: Yum. Breakfast is my favorite but I would want a little of everything. French toast, chocolate chip pancakes, veggie scramble with egg whites, yogurt with granola and fruit! Just about four bites of each with a vanilla latte on the side...ideal! A lot of food, but what can I say? I love breakfast!

TC: Greatest single thing about growing up in Colorado?

JA: Colorado was an amazing place to grow up. I loved fall time for a couple reasons. First, it is so colorful with all the leaves changing to yellow, orange, red. When I was at school, my Mom would send me pictures of the trees in our neighborhood to give me a little taste of Colorado. Fall also meant club soccer.

I played for the Colorado Rush for my whole club career and my team was pretty much the same for those eight years. I played with girls, who are still some of my best friends to this day. I loved being around them at practice, games, and away trips. We have some great memories that made growing up in Colorado amazing.

TC: What will be the first thing you want to see when you arrive in Boston?

JA: I have never been to Boston so there will be many places for me to explore. The Boston Tea Party Museum is pretty high up there on the list. I love going to sporting events so I want to go to a Celtics and Bruins game, but don't be mad if I root for the Nuggets and Avalanche (sorry I'm a Colorado girl at heart!).

I really cant wait to go to Fenway Park and watch a baseball game in the summer. My Dad got me a Red Sox shirt when I was little and I it has always made me want to go there. I am just excited for a new city and to learn my way around.

TC: If you could prepare dinner for one famous person, who would it be and what would you serve?

JA: I have always had a thing for Justin Timberlake. I think it was those curly-cues back in his N'sync days that really hooked me. I don't know what I would serve though. I love watching the food network and trying new things. Cooking has turned into my new hobby so I would probably try something new and hope it turns out great for my first, of hopefully many, dinner dates with Justin.

TC: Most embarrassing life moment?

JA: It might sound weird, but I don't really get embarrassed that easily. I just laugh at myself when I do something stupid because everyone else is. I figure I might as well join in on the fun.

TC: Favorite ice cream flavor?

JA: Cappuccino Chip Gelato from Dolce Spazio in Los Gatos, CA. I could eat it everyday!

TC: One thing the fans of Boston should know about you.

JA: I do a pretty mean Rock Band rendition of Spice Girls "Wannabe." I own the mic!

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report, Sports, Then and Now, and Seamheads. He also shares his top stories on his blog The 'xoxo' of Sports. He is a supporter of Team Hoyt, the father/son marathon and triathlon team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. He encourages you to support their movement of "Yes, I Can" by visiting their Web site at