Congratulations to the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia. Broken hamate and all, he managed to have a phenomenal season this year. After a slow start he got on a roll, played pretty much every day, and never let up.
Just another example of a kid who, 10 years ago, would most likely have gone undrafted. I’ve always understood, to an extent, scouts looking for size and stature in draftees, but in Dustin’s case, much like Youk, you watch, you see not one tool that screams 5 stars or All Star.
However, when you watch both of them for 162 games, and you assess the body of work, you see two guys that were born to play baseball, period. It’s also a testament to the way this organization scouts and drafts young players.
Much like New York, this team has to look deeper, in my opinion, at the players it considers due to the “X factors” inherent in playing in these markets. There are extra parts to the puzzle that makes up the big league organizations in these cities. From relentless win it all at all costs expectations every single season, to the media contingent that can measure 5-10 times the size of other local beat writers and columnists in other cities. Playing here, succeeding here, and enjoying it, means you have to be built a little different than you might playing somewhere else.
Also today, Shonda and our two oldest children had a chance to attend a joint Microsoft/USO event held in NYC at the Radio City Music Hall. The luncheon was held to honor 5 different award recipients of the first ever “Above and Beyond” awards presented by Microsoft.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with the folks at Microsoft, and regardless of whether or not 38 Studios and Microsoft ever are able to work together I can honestly say I have an immense amount of respect for what Mr Gates, his wife, and the entire company do philanthropically. Microsoft and the Gates family give HUGE amounts of time and money to an extraordinary amount of charities and this event is the result of their desire to positively impact not just their communities, but our country at large.
I had a chance to chat with Vice Chief of Staff, US Army, General Richard Cody, as well as many other high ranking US Military officers. Mark Romano from Microsoft Federal, and Ed Powell, President and CEO of the USO. It was an incredibly well run event.
The highlight of the night for my 10 year old daughter was meeting Selena Gomez and getting her and her friends picture taken with them.
The award winners were the true heroes at this event, along with the many men and women from Walter Reed Hospital who were able to attend. I am kicking myself right now for not remembering his name, but I met a young Marine who told me the story of his Gunner. His gunner was a huge Red Sox fan, and the Marine I met, not so much. His gunner was killed in action but this man promised him he’d wear his Red Sox cap if he didn’t make it. He now wears that cap and made a point to tell me the story. If you are out there, and you read this, thank you, I’ll never forget you or your friend. If you ever run into this Marine, and you aren’t a Red Sox fan, I’d strongly advise you to keep your opinions to yourselfJ
Patti Patton-Bader received the Effort Award. Patti started a non profit called “Soldiers Angels” please see www.soldiersangels.org to help. Basically this group sends care packages to troops overseas, and to date she’s got a group of over 100,000 members who have sent tens of thousands of care packages to men and women overseas. An even cooler footnote? She’s the great-niece of General George S Patton.
Paulette Nelson received the USO Promotion and Success Award. This amazing woman spends upwards of 10-13 hours a day at the Savannah airport, greeting troops returning home, and saying good bye to troops shipping out. She does every ounce of this as a VOLUNTEER! An absolutely incredible story.
Walter Fricke received the Medical Attention Award. Mr Fricke, a helicopter pilot during Vietnam, founded Veterans Airlift Command (http://veteransairlift.org) to provide free air transportation to wounded and recovering troops and their families, friends, through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners. This man speaks from experience and his story was an awesome one.
I, along with Ms. Selena Gomez (much to my daughter’s amazement) got to present Brittany and Robbie Bergquist with the Youth Leadership Award. These two kids, and they ARE kids, have raised over 1 million dollars for their cause. They read a story about a soldier who had spent over 8,000 dollars on phone calls to home. So what did they do? They went to the bank, deposited their last 21 dollars, and told the bank manager they were saving up to purchase phone cards for troops overseas. The bank manager was so impressed that he added 500 dollars to the deposit and their program began. From car washes to bake sales, to recycling old cell phones, here they are, 1 million dollars later, with a story that makes you realize there is a lot more good in the world that you are led to believe when you open your newspaper, or turn on your television. These kids ‘get it’, and it was truly an honor to be part of this presentation.
I should also add that they are from Norwell, Mass, and proud members of Red Sox nation!
Major Todd Schmidt of the U.S. Army received the Everyday Difference Award. During his latest deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom he founded the non-profit Operation Dreamseed (www.operationdreamseed.org) which had as its initial plan to provide kids in the cities and towns torn apart by war, with books and school supplies. During the past four years it, and he, have accomplished so much more. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books and school supplies have been sent to local villages in Iraq and Kosovo. Under this mans guidance they even built a SCHOOL! Outside Kandahar City by raising over 80K for the cause.
You just can’t make this stuff up. These people are real, and they’re Americans. I don’t give a rip what your political affiliation is, what I do know is that people like this ARE making a difference and ARE changing the world. At the end of the day that’s all that really matters. They could have spent their time, and their money, doing just the opposite. Instead of protesting, instead of making comments that put our soldiers in harms way even more than they currently are, they did the exact opposite. They showed that no matter how many people use their pulpit, their forum, to denounce our President, denounce policy, denounce the war, there’s still an enormous amount of men and women proud as hell to call themselves Americans and even prouder that the country we live in is populated with some of the worlds best people.
It truly was an honor to participate and a heartfelt thank you and congratulations to each and every award winner, veteran, and soldier that attended today, as well as the hundreds of thousands currently serving in country, and abroad. God Speed to you and may you come home safely.