JANUARY 6 2011 UPDATE
WILLIAMS RETURNS TO BANDITS
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Chicago Bandits Owner Bill Sokolis wasted no time making a
splash this offseason, working with former Northwestern shortstop and 2009
National Pro Fastpitch Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Tammy Williams to return to the Chicago Bandits. She spent last season playing in Japan and for Team USA.
In Memory of Shelby Perez
FROM Donna Williams, manager, Lil’ Rebels
I know that most all of you have already heard that our Las Vegas Softball
Family has lost a very special young lady. Shelby Nicolle Marie Perez passed
away on Monday night. Shelby and her family have touched the lives of such a
large part of this softball family over the years. She will be greatly missed
by all. Please keep her parents, Leo and Nicolle, and her family members in your
thoughts and prayers as they attempt to get through this very tragic time.
Shelby was a long time player in the SNFA SW leagues and was a player/pitcher
for the Lil’ Rebels 96 team the last several seasons. She was also a freshman
at Palo Verde High School. She was an amazingly talented athlete and had the
most beautiful smile which she always wore.
To assist the family with funeral expenses, the Lil’ Rebels Organization has
established a Memorial Fund. Any and all contributions will be greatly
appreciated. You can donate at any Wells Fargo Branch.
Shelby Perez Benefit Memorial Fund
Nevada Account # 7913927062
Please keep Shelby’s family in your thoughts and prayers.
A SPECIAL SPORTS STORY
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez went to work Tuesday, preparing for a big football game. Some 40 miles away, a little boy from Queens, N.Y., was buried — a friend of the New York Jets quarterback.
Sanchez and Aiden Binkley, 11, met each other only a few weeks ago, but they became fast friends. Binkley was suffering from a rare form of cancer, and he had only two wishes — he wanted his two brothers to stay healthy and he wanted to meet Sanchez.
And so he did.
Aiden visited the Jets’ training facility Dec. 15, and he received the VIP treatment, as if he were a big-name player making a free-agent visit. He watched practice and was escorted to owner Woody Johnson’s second-floor office, where he met Antonio Cromartie, Dustin Keller, Mike Devito and others.
And, finally, Sanchez. The people who were there say Aiden’s face lit up like Broadway at night.
“He sat there, beaming and smiling,” said Aiden’s mother, Lisa Binkley, who initially wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to make the trip because Aiden was in such pain.
“Nothing meant more to him than coming here and meeting Mark and meeting the Jets,” Keller said quietly Wednesday in the Jets’ locker room. “Great kid … a tough situation.”
The 24-year-old quarterback was immediately taken by Aiden and his upbeat personality and his love of the Jets. A few days later, Sanchez & Co. beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh — the biggest win of the season — and Sanchez sent his new friend a game ball.
Sanchez was deeply touched by Aiden, who battled rhabdomyosarcoma, according to a 2008 New York Daily News article. There was a lemon-sized tumor that spread from his pelvis to his lungs, and he required 60 weeks of chemotherapy.
They became texting buddies and, one day, Sanchez surprised Aiden’s parents by asking, “Can I come over?” When Sanchez arrived, the boy was sleeping. Sanchez sat at Aiden’s feet, waiting until he woke up.
“He opened his eyes and there was Mark, sitting on the couch,” Lisa said. “He was so sweet.”
They ended up having a long conversation, like a couple of old friends. Aiden took Sanchez to his bedroom and showed him his sports stuff, including his hockey stick. He gave Sanchez a camouflage bracelet with the inscription “Binkley’s Battle.” Sanchez and Keller were wearing the bracelets Wednesday in the Jets’ locker room.
“My man, Aiden … breaks my heart,” Sanchez said Tuesday during his weekly spot on “The Michael Kay Show” on 1050 ESPN Radio. “He’s so tough.”
Sanchez, choked with emotion, paused several times as he talked about Aiden, whom he met through the Teddy Atlas Foundation. Atlas, the boxing trainer and ESPN analyst, was a Jets special assistant under former coach Eric Mangini.
“He brought me so much inspiration. … It’s hard to talk about him,” Sanchez said. “He meant the world to me. I felt like I’ve known him forever. … I saw his personality. I saw his competitive spirit. I saw him fighting every day.
“I’m complaining about a shoulder. Are you kidding me? … I think he was 11 years old, and he has cancer eating away at his body,” Sanchez continued. “This kid is fighting every day. He’s smiling every time I talk to him. I visited him at his home. I mean, he has to get carried up the stairs because he’s so weak and all he wants to talk about is LT [LaDainian Tomlinson] and Darrelle Revis and Rex Ryan and me.
“Oh, man, it kills you, just thinking about it. I love him to death.”
Sanchez was sitting at his locker before facing the Steelers, going over the game plan one last time, when he received a text from Aiden. His friend was concerned about the chilly weather.
“He’s saying, ‘It looks cold out there in Pittsburgh. I’m glad I’m watching from home. Good luck,’” Sanchez said with a chuckle. “Little stuff like that really fires you up.”
After the game, Aiden fired off a congratulatory text to Sanchez. Don’t expect a return text, his mother warned, explaining that Sanchez would be too busy to answer an 11-year-old boy. So they watched his postgame news conference on TV, never imagining they’d hear from him.
About 20 minutes later, the phone rang. It was Sanchez.
“We were blown away,” Lisa said.
In his final days, Aiden’s cancer was so unbearable that he couldn’t get out of bed. But he kept his phone close by, just in case his friend Mark decided to call or text.
“He’d be lying in bed, in such pain, and the phone would ring — and he’d smile,” Lisa said.
Funny thing about Sanchez’s texts: Instead of a simple, inspirational message, he always posed a question, trying to initiate a conversation.
Their friendship was born at a difficult time for Sanchez. The Jets were on a two-game losing streak after being embarrassed by the New England Patriots 45-3 and showing no energy in a 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Even Ryan admitted he thought about pulling his franchise quarterback from the Miami game.
“I’m not a happy camper, I’m upset, I’m frustrated,” Sanchez said. “I want to make it right. I want to hurry up and play another game.”
Along came Aiden.
“All I hear from someone is, ‘There’s a youngster who’s terminally ill with cancer and all he wants to do is meet you,’” Sanchez said. “It changes your whole world. It stops everything. You get a chance to step back. It’s really close to my heart. … He’s the best. I love him.”
Keith Sullivan, an Atlas Foundation board member, was struck by Sanchez’s sincerity. In that initial meeting, Sanchez and Aiden exchanged cell phone numbers, with Sanchez telling the boy, “I’ll shoot you a text later. We’ll talk.” And Sullivan hoped it wasn’t just lip service, a millionaire athlete trying to appease a starstruck kid.
Sanchez called. They talked.
“Aiden had a smile on his face for the last three weeks of his life,” Sullivan said.
Aiden lost his courageous battle last Thursday. Before the Jets’ game last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets honored him with a moment of silence.
Elaine’s. Elaine Kaufmann , the proprietress, greeter and guiding light of her eponymous saloon on 2nd Avenue, NY, was noted for the welcome she extended to authors of all kinds, journalists, actors and other celebrities. First time I went there, I used my old press pass to gain entrée past the waiting line and was rewarded with a good table. The last time, I flashed my State Department credential to get past the waiting line; no luck. On Second Avenue, so near the United Nations, everyone with a brief case passed themselves off as diplomats.
The Spruce Goose. I had never heard of McMinnville, OR, until Thanksgiving when daughter Allison treated me to the spectacular Air and Space Museum outside this small town, where a gigantic hangar houses Howard Hughes’ infamous flying boat (flown once by Hughes for a mile). Founded by a local aviation enthusiast, and existing on private donations, the Museum rivals that outside Washington. The “squadron” includes renowned WWI and WWII fighters and bombers – a well-maintained B17, a Mitchell, Spitfire, Mustang, P38 Lightning, ME 109, Zero, Sopwith Camel, Flying Tiger Warhawk and others – while an adjacent building has a full array of spacecraft and rockets. Bit of a hike outside Portland but well worth the trip.
Pope Benedict. Portland has a number of small eateries, casual and comfortable, including a small café off Fremont (near 47th) called Bumblekiss. Specializes in a varied breakfast menu; includes traditional eggs Benedict, but also includes the Pope Benedict – eggs over Canadian bacon, topped by a rich Hollandaise sauce, and Seattle coffee. The eggs Benedict rival the serving in New Orleans famed Brennans (where the bananas Foster was so succulent and atmosphere-inducing that I proposed to my girl friend and she accepted).
One hand on the heart, one in the trough. 75 of the Congressmen who voted against the stimulus packaged lobbied Treasury et al to fund projects in their districts.
What Recession? The various cruise lines reported a spike in business over the holidays.
Chavez. Known in some quarters as Don Porter’s friend, the caudillo took emergency powers allowing him to rule by decree – in advance of a new legislature which will include some strong opponents. The financial press reported that Chavez has amassed a personal fortune of more than $30 million. Among the most anti-American dictators in the world, he proclaims an interest in buying major weapons.
Sooner success? The Oklahoma newspapers give credit to Stoops’ play calling, Landry’s passing, the strong running game (while noting big lapses on special teams – OU leads the nations in kicks run back for touchdowns) and a defense which stopped Connecticut from scoring an offensive touchdown. The real secret? For five successive BCS bowls, I wore an old Sooner letter sweater, and OU lost – including three national title games. This Christmas, my daughter Kathryn surprised me with a new monogram sweater from the OU store – and Oklahoma won.
The Congressional rush to adjourn. Couldn’t agree on citizenship for children born here to illegal immigrants, but found time to expand protections for sharks.
Showing the flag. Alan Joyce, president of Quantas, rode an Airbus 380 from Sydney to Manila to demonstrate faith in the jumbo’s Rolls Royce engines, the first to fly after an engine blew up and prompted Quantas shutting down the planes until all had been examined and declared safe.
Brazil wins World Youth Cup
BRAZIL DEFEATS SOUTH FLORIDA FOR YOUTH WORLD CUP
Last Thursday at the International Softball Federation’s world headquarters complex in Plant City, Florida, 22 teams from eight different countries began what would be seven days of (age) 16-and-under girls’ fast pitch competition. It all came to a climax this evening as Brazil defeated the South Florida (Tampa) Mini Bulls, 3-2, in the gold medal game, after Puerto Rico had posted an 8-2 triumph over the Oviedo (Florida) Blaze in the bronze medal game.
The title game defeat was South Florida’s first loss of the tournament, having been 8-0 up to that point.
|Brazil claimed the 2010/2011 Easton Foundation Youth World Cup title thanks to an RBI from catcher Daniela Fukunishi in the bottom of the sixth inning. South Florida second baseplayer Delaney Rickey singled to open the top of the seventh and was successful stealing second base, but when she got thrown out trying to steal third, it was only left to pitcher Milena Calixto to entice Macie Hand into a fly out and then striking out Amanda Green to bring the Brazil players spilling out of the dugout to join their teammates in celebration.The Bulls had opened the game with a run in the top of the first, only to see Brazil tie the score in their first at-bat. The eventual champions went up 2-1 an inning later before South Florida tied it at two in the top of the fourth when Morgan Litchfield crushed a home run over the left field fence.
Shortstop Leticia Matsuoka finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and one RBI for the winners while three different Mini Bulls had two hits apiece.
The bronze medal game saw Oviedo up 1-0 after two-and-a-half innings, but Puerto Rico scored four times – with two outs – in the bottom of the third and then, after Oviedo cut it to 4-2, put three more runs on the board an inning later for the beginning of the end. Oviedo did look like they were going to come right back, getting back-to-back singles and a walk with one out in the top of the fifth, but pitcher Lissette Garay struck out the next two batters to get Puerto Rico out of the bases-loaded jam.
Garay would finish with eight strikeouts in four-and-two-thirds innings to record the save after relieving starter Jocelyn DeLeon following an Aleshia Ocasio lead-off double, then a fielder’s choice in the top of the third. Oviedo finished with a game-total of three errors and their last eight batters of the game went down in order, eliminating any hope for overcoming a Puerto Rico team that won six of their last seven games of this tournament.
Catcher Yahelis Munoz finished 2-for-4 at the plate and led the winners with four runs batted in. She also scored one run. Dayanira Diaz, who entered the game as Puerto Rico’s leading hitter (.500 batting average in 41 plate appearances), went 2-for-3 and scored two runs.
Losing pitcher Haley Wiseman and left fielder Kiley Dechau each went 2-for-3 for Oviedo, with Wiseman driving in both of her team’s runs.
At the end of 2011 the ISF’s IX Jr. Women’s World Championship (19-and-under fast pitch) will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, (December 6-17), with 16 national teams from five regions expected to participate.