Here is my article why on Redsoxmaniac.com
Sometimes you these selfless moments in the game. A guy hits a homerun for the opposing team, and a 10-year old, just indoctrinated into the system of hated rivalry, will launch maybe the only ball he’ll ever catch, right back onto the field. The rivalry, the anger of seeing another team one up your own, your fandom, and your love for your home team, transcends any logical decision of keeping the souvenir and showing your friends the next day ( Also, some fans in Chicago and Boston won’t give you a good response if you hold an opposing team’s homerun ball for long, but hey, we can leave tha out of the story:).
This story of how a fan caught Manny Ramirez’s 500th homerun, goes against the norm of the so-called “fans” of the game, the ones who have so much concern for the game, the players, and their enthusiasm that they demonstrate this love by selling their new-found treasure for huge sums of money. A pile of cash and a lucky seat, and he’s considered a fan.
The story of how Damon Woo, a Sox fan who is a New York native, goes along the lines of a compelling tale of how he went with his brother to Camden Yards with an insight that he will “catch Manny’s 500th homerun tonight.
The compelling tale reaches its climax when Manny hits the first pitch off of Chad Bradford, and everyone watches it fly in the right-center field seats. On closer look, and on Woo’s account, he tries to get an advantage to catch the ball as it heads towards him, and it hits him right in the neck.
No insult to the pain, he is able enclose the ball after the body hit and place it into his hands.
Most stories you will see end with people running leaps and bounds to the nearest auction agency, dribbling drool from their bottom lip as they trade off their love of the game for their love of the green. They talk about how they are fans of the game, but rarely do they make any comments about the history that they are a part of, or at least give examples of their dedication to the sport ( at least have a story of how you babysat Dwight Gooden’s kids or something/)
But this story ends with Damon and his older brother meeting up with Manny Ramirez in the clubhouse after ( or during since Manny was taken out of the game? MLB marketing whores!), and giving him the ball, without asking for anything in return. Nothing. Not a dime, not even a bat ( although it is understood someone who has the ball is going to get something regardless.
” It’s his accomplishment, It’s his achievement, it’s his ball. It is the right thing to do,” Said the 40-year old Woo.
Where would you get a quote like this from the guy who caught Sammy Sosa’s legendary balls? Or Mark Mcgiwre’s? Or Barry Bonds ( although he is a prick; I wish someone caught his homerun ball and sold it just based on the fact he’s a complete asshole. Thank god he doesn’t play anymore. Insane eye though; I’ll miss that)?
What put the cherry on top of this story, is the fact that Manny is going to auction off the ball to charity. Not to himself. He hit the ball and would rather it go to help others. Manny-being-f&%king-Manny. Way to go. An accomplishment he may not match ( although he is counting on hitting 600+), but nonetheless it shows a bit of selflessness for such a feat.
Damon Woo did get some stuff and some perks for bringing it back, but give this guy a beer tribute for going out of his way to do an honorable thing.
Now, if we want some more empirical evidence, lets see what happens when Griffey get his big hit…
ps: Wow, Jay Bruce? Wow is all I got to say…
This guy is an amazing analyst. Amazing. I am surprised with his quality of knowledge and ability to break down basketball gameplay so well on two levels:
1) I am surprised with all of his knowledge that he hasn’t been talked about in many of my peer circles. These circles revolve around blabla WEEI radio in Boston ( I don’t get home till 12AM often so its usually Fox Sports; fun shit to listen to before sleepy time), my friends who may/may not know shit about sports, blogs, etc. I always feel a lot more in tune with the game when Gundy is ranting in the background!
2) That he hasn’t been touted to take or at least be a high candidate in any coaching position. He actually was a candidate for the Knick’s job ( Walsh’s Indiana team was re-vamped in the offseason after getting clobbered by Van Gundy in the 99 Eastern Conference Finals ), but he took himself out of the offering ( Great article on his days as the Knicks’ head coach ) This guy goes onto teams and tends to win. If anything, I would be given him Rick Carlisle money if I needed him to run my team!
My friend finds him annoying and that he rants too much during the game ( an editorial I found also found him guilty of ranting). I find this to be bullshit, because for one thing, that is his job. It is to rant about situations that happened, and piece the game-play together. For another, he usually is right on point about a lot of what’s going on with the game, and he does it with the style of the old uncle-with-beer-in-hand-yelling-at-the-tv type of way. His perspective in basketball is way beyond the average fan, but he analyzes it in such a way that anyone can understand, or at least relate to his intensity when he is conveying his thoughts.
Lastly, he hasn’t really been saying much as the playoffs has started, and gives Mark Jackson ( whose voice gets so deep I sometimes go: “WTF, did they get the movie preview guy to analyze the pre-commercial replay?!”) a lot of breathing room to call his shots.
His humor is top-notch, and sometimes at such a peak that he does shift away from the game at hand. I remember one game when San Antonio was playing another team, and before the 4th quarter did a flashback to Avery Johnson beating the Knicks in 1999 on a wide open 3-pointer with little time on the clock. Jeff van Gundy, taking the brunt of that loss being the coach of that team, screams during the flashback:
(paraphrasing) ” Allan Houston! Transition defense! We knew this play was coming, we practiced against this play all the time. Allan Houston, if you are watching this right now, transition defense!”
His analysis is on-point, and I always feel smarter about what I am watching in basketball when I listen to him. Today, he talked about how the pick & roll is a greater play-option now for Pierce than when he was younger since he would make bad decisions in congested play-schemes ( such as the pick & roll where 2 or more defenders may play against it, and places multiple players in a small spot.) . The fact that he sees that Pierce is better at producing in this play has made me understand how Pierce is utilizing this play more than he did when he was younger. Gundy also pointed out that in this game, the Celtics were having Pierce play the pick & roll more than any other time he has seen in his career.
Hey, I am always a fan of hyperbole, and anyone would be able to refute the comment, but this is rich commentary that gives such an in-depth insight to the game and strategy that I feel apt to see how the game is played. The most I can do is contest Gundy’s observations, but he is so specific and knowledgeable, that refuting a lot of his theories would require me to observe the game with a better eye. Thus, from his analysis, I am a better basketball watcher.
I can go on and on about this guy, but I have a beer in my hand ( Steel Reserve High Gravity to be exact. ) and I am drinking it in honor of Jeff Van Gundy. You rock!