There are times that the sports world provides us with a memory we will talk about for years. That’s what happened in The Bronx on Thursday. Mariano Rivera, who did his job better than any other reliever ever, said farewell in his Yankee home finale. There was an incredible reaction when he came out of the bullpen to his renowned theme song of Enter Sandman. The ovation from the adoring fans was deafening. Then he pitched beautifully. retiring four batters. At that point, manager Joe Girardi sent out veterans Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter to remove Rivera. The emotion of the moment was too much as Rivera was reduced to tears. After the game, Rivera took one more curtain call, going out to the mound to collect some Yankee Stadium dirt as a collector’s item. It was an amazing night. Nobody will remember that the Yankees lost to the Rays. They won’t care…Mariano’s farewell was memorable.
What a trip we had to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. I was the surprise guest speaker for a wonderful company, Paychex. They had their top sales people for a conference at the Atlantis, and I was thrilled to be able to share my thoughts and ideas on motivation and the Game of Life with them. I can’t thank Marty Mucci, CEO, Mark Bottini, VP of Marketing and Toni Thomas, event coordinator for all their hard work in organizing the event. It was first class all the way and all the people I met could not have been more welcoming to me and my family. The Atlantis is an incredible resort and I was happy to be able to share this time with my wife, daughters, son in laws and five grand kids. It was a special three days.
I am so excited to see college basketball practices starting all over America this Friday. We used to have to wait until mid-October, with Midnight Madness. You will still see special events at many schools to commemorate the opening of the new season. I think it is great to give the players and coaches more time to work together. It will make the product better, teams will be more cohesive early on. It is a win-win situation. Why are practices starting so early? There was a rule change that extended the time for practice from 30 days before the opening game, up to 40. This season, many schools are starting their schedule on November 8th, so 40 days before would have meant a first practice on a Sunday. The NCAA allowed schools to have that first workout on a Friday. There is also time built into this practice plan, so schools will actually have 42 days to hold 30 practices. Coaches will make sure their players are in better shape and ready. It should help newcomers to the college game make the adjustment. They will be able to learn more quickly and get that hands on work with their coaches.
Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference in the world for a head coach. Just ask Andy Reid about that. His Kansas City Chiefs are now 3-0 after beating the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. Kansas City won just two games all of last season. It was an emotional night for Reid, the former Eagles coach, returning for a contest in the City of Brotherly Love. You could see the respect by the eagles players after the game as they came over and gave him a hug. Reid had a solid career in Philly, but it was time to move on after he was let go. The Chiefs went with the verteran coach, and so far, so good, baby!
I had a fantastic time this morning speaking to the financial advisors for Signator Investors Inc. at their conference in Orlando at the Disney Yacht Club Resort. It was a terrific event and I truly appreciated the standing ovation from the crowd. Signator Investors Inc. has as its parent company, John Hancock, who has been in the business for over 150 years. They are here as an educational conference to gain familiarity with various investment strategies for their clients. My speech theme was about pursuing your dreams and goals and having a sense of passion and pride about what you do.
If the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays want to keep the team around, they have to step up and show up.
I cannot blame ownership when less than 11,000 fans show up for a big game vs. Texas in a pennant race. I would be disappointed if the team ever left as I am a diehard fan, but the attendance on Tuesday was sad.
The team has reasonable ticket prices. I know the economy is tough right now, but the team deserves better support. This franchise has put a winner on the field for six straight seasons despite having one of the lower payrolls in baseball.
The Rays are batting for a spot in the playoffs and deserve better.
I was so excited and thrilled to be asked to present Rick Pitino at his Hall of Fame induction in Springfield, MA. When Rick called and told me, I was truly touched. Hubie Brown and I were there for Pitino during his special moment. It was special to see a great class inducted into the Basketball shrine. Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, Guy V. Lewis, Bernard King, Dawn Staley and company joined the creme de la creme.
Pitino always had a magical touch, right from the start. He went to Boston University and they had success. Pitino went to Providence and he ws one step ahead of everyone by utilizing the three point shot so effectively. He led the Friars to the Final Four in 1987, among the Golaiths like Indiana, which cut down the nets. The trifecta was so vital as Billy Donovan was a threat for the Friars during the Final Four run. Donovan will make it to the Hall one day himself. I believe Pitino will be his presenter.
That moment when you are giving your speech at the induction is incredible. You stare out at the greats that are also in the Hall, seeing Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, John Thompson and all of the greats…that is why it is so special. What a club to join! I am so happy to be a small part of that group. Why has Pitino made it to the Hall of Fame? It is a lot more than just the impressive number of wins. It is about his ability to inspire people. He is a master motivator who knows how to get the most out of his players. He knows how to handle his team and to make adjustments. Pitino has done that throughout his career. He never allows the opponent to get into a rhythm offensively because he changes defenses frequently. One time, he may trap full court, another switching to half court traps, man to man. He is a master strategist who gets the most out of his talent.
My definition of a coach is a person who can get the most out of his people. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and utilizes their skills to reach success. That is why he reached the pinnacle of the sport, the Hall of Fame!
College football is in full swing, and there are important games each week. Look at what happened last weekend. Georgia knocked off South Carolina in an important SEC game. Miami got a huge win over Florida. Michigan remained unbeaten at home, under Brady Hoke, getting past the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. This weekend is no exception. Alabama takes its number one ranking into College Station, Texas to face Johnny Football and the Aggies. Nick Saban’s team has a lot of incentive after being stunned by A&M last season. Do you think the Tide circled this game on the calendar? Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M club has been solid offensively, but the defense was vulnerable in wins over Rice and Sam Houston State. This should be an intense battle, one I am looking forward to.
What a great weekend it was in South Bend for the Irish season opener versus Temple. My family and I enjoyed a terrific two days on the Notre Dame campus cheering on the Irish. The student body was electric at the pep rally and the luncheon, as they have high hopes for another great season! It is always so special to walk on the campus for a college football weekend. Notre Dame will always hold a special place for my family, as both my daughters attended there, as well as both son in laws. The Irish looked sharp beating Temple, but the real test comes this weekend at the Big House versus Michigan!
College football is under way and there were a lot of exciting moments in week one. Alabama was impressive in a win over Virginia Tech. Special teams and defense helped key that victory. Clemson knocked off Georgia in a showdown between ACC and SEC powers. Washington took care of business against Boise State. Teddy Bridgewater threw five touchdown passes against Ohio University. Notre Dame beat Temple, setting up this week’s showdown vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor. The biggest surprises came when the little guys, FCS schools, beat some of the big boys of the FBS. Eastern Washington shocked a ranked Oregon State squad. Kansas State, which didn’t suffer a loss until November 17th last season, fell in the opener as Bill Snyder’s team was stunned by North Dakota State. Connecticut fell to Towson. McNeese State beat South Florida. Northern Iowa won at Iowa State. Eastern Illinois upset San Diego State. Pigskin fans are in their glory as college football is back, baby!