Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Back Pages: Farewell To The Captain... We May Never See Your L...

My Back Pages: Farewell To The Captain... We May Never See Your L...:   A legend played his last game in Yankee Stadium tonight. I have watched this still young man from the time that he was a 19 year old roo...

Farewell To The Captain... We May Never See Your Like Again..

 A legend played his last game in Yankee Stadium tonight. I have watched this still young man from the time that he was a 19 year old rookie through the present day. He is a man of grace and honor. He wore his uniform with pride, and he brought honor and a will to win to a storied franchise. Derek Sanderson Jeter was raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan by loving, caring, parents. They instilled in him a sense of respect and honor that he has carried with him his whole life. His mother had contracts with him concerning his schoolwork and baseball time. His father constantly challenged him to be competitive. Not to show him up, but to make him always try to do his best. 
 I first heard of Derek from another Yankee legend: Phil 'Scooter' Rizzzuto. He would mention him often during Derek's time in the minor leagues. He spoke glowingly of "This kid, Jeter, that the Yankees have in the minor leagues. He's going to be the next great shortstop! Fittingly, Scooter called his first home run when he came up from triple A.
  The 'Boss', George M. Steinbrenner, knew what he had in Jeter. He listened to Stick Michael and his braintrust, and observed him for himself. Derek grew to love the 'Boss' over the years, and they had a special relationship. When Steinbrenner signed Alex Rodrequez, he let him know that he would have to learn third base: George already had a shortstop, and his name was Derek Sanderson Jeter. Derek caught the eye of manager  Buck Showalter and he, to this day, speaks glowingly of Derek. When Joe (Mr.) Torre took over as manager, he knew that he had something special in the the cocky, but respectful, Derek Jeter. He always says that Derek always seemed to fit. He never seemed to be the rookie.. he was an old soul. That's not to say that he was rude or disrespectful, he was just the opposite. He was always respectful of the veteran players.. he just always seemed to fit.
  Derek was a part of the 'Core Four' ... the players that were in the middle of the Yankee's push for World Series dominance. Jeter, Posada, Petite, and Rivera, helped them amass the needed wins to dominate the baseball world in the mid to late '90s. One thing that they all had in common was that they were all good people. One by one, they have gone from the stage... Derek is the last. I will always remember him rubbing Don Zimmer's head for luck..... calling Joe Torre 'Mr. Torre' out of respect, and having Bob Sheppard announce him, even after Mr. Sheppard had died. I will remember the play where he dived headlong into the stands to catch a pop fly, seriously hurting himself, because the game was important. Meanwhile, his contemporary, Nomar Garciaparra, sat out the game because he was in a dispute with the Boston Red Sox. This was at the end of the discussion of who was the better shortstop, Garciaparra, Rodriquez, or Jeter. Derek has show them all how a great player and a good man reacts.
  They've tried over the years to find something on Derek.. some flaw, something that they could sink their predatory teeth into. The New York Post and Page Six always tried, but Derek was always above reproach. He would do nothing to sully himself, his parents, or the New York Yankees. This is one of the reasons that George M. Steinbrenner made him 'Captain. Derek has always been class, but never at the expense of thinking himself above the people who came to see him. He was always interacting with the fans, and they loved him for it.
  Tonight was Derek's last game in Yankee Stadium. Typically, the game came down to him, and, always with a flair for the dramatic, he won the game with an single to drive in the winning run. I am listening to him now thanking the fans again for cheering him on.  Derek is a truly good human being.. as is Mariano. Derek's Turn 2 foundation is helping deserving need kids. Derek is truly a good man. The tears in my eyes are for the passing of a truly deserving legend. Goodbye, Derek. Thank you just for being you and really being a shining example. We love you!
John Zaffino
 Kent Lakes NY 
September 25, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Back Pages: Fading

My Back Pages: Fading:   I haven't written anything in a while..... not because there are not things that I have strong opinions about, but because I just c...


  I haven't written anything in a while..... not because there are not things that I have strong opinions about, but because I just can't find it lately. I'm in a funk, and I don't know what to do about it. I have started no fewer than four different blogs in the past month and a half, but I just can't find the rhythm to flesh them out and finish them. I hate this.. it's like losing my voice in the middle of a conversation.
  I've had a lot of things going on in my life this year. Perhaps this is the cause of the loss of my ability to put words to print. It's hard to find clarity amidst chaos, and that's what it's been since the early Spring. Added to that is the fact that I have been in some pain recently, mostly in my hands and knees. Age has a way of slowing you down, and it's never subtle. In any case, I have been distracted by these things, personal and public, that have made it hard for me to compose.
 I have plenty of opinions about all that is going on in the nation and the world, but I just can't find it in me to write it down. I would love to be able to tell you how I feel about the NFL, and the way that they have invaded all aspects of our lives, but I can't get it together. I would love to talk about ISL, and how I feel that the entire Federal Government has failed us. I cannot do so at this time.
 To those who read what I have written: Thank you for being so kind and loyal to me, even when what I have written was poorly written. You have been my friends to the end, and I will always appreciate that. 
 I don't know when, or if, I will ever find the inspiration that I need to write again. If I do, well, then.. you will see it here. If not, all I can say is that it's been fun. I've always written from the heart. 
  I wish Peace and Love for you all. Never forget the angels of Sandy Hook. I know that I will not.
 John Zaffino, September 20, 2014
  Kent Lakes, NY

Friday, September 5, 2014


What has happened to people in our society? We seem to have lost any regard for those who raised us, or came before us. RESPECT... it's a simple word, and a simple concept; yet, so many have lost the ability to respect anyone, or any thing, that they do not agree with. It has come to the point where the younger generation does not acknowledge a death, or a sad occurance in the lives of those who came before them. 
 Oh, I do not mean everyone. I have had so much grief in my family in the past year, and my family, for the most part, have responded with love and respect. First, I lost my godmother, Aunt Mary Huffman, last October. Then, my great nephew, Damien, died this past Spring. My cousin, Phil Cassara, died just a few months ago, in July.  The outpouring of support and love from my dear friends across the world, overwhelmed me. Yet, there were those that should have been among the first to come forward to offer support, were dead silent.. These same people demand that I respect and love them for who and what they are. Well, I have taken enough disrespect from them over the years. I have always supported them, and helped them whenever I could, and yet they continually show me that they do not respect me or my darling wife. Not only do they not respect us, they shower us with contempt! It breaks my heart.
  I always try to respect everyone. It does not matter what religion, what ethnic group, or anything else that they belong to. The point is that I  respect and accept what they believe in, and who they are. Sadly, some of them do not offer me... do not offer US, the same courtesy. I/we have been called 'Low class  trash'... well, I submit to you that anyone who does not offer condolences to those who are grieving, to those who are suffering, are the real 'Low class trash!'. I am sad for you all...but, I will not forgive you! The love in my heart extends to all who want it.. to all who reach out and love me back... not for who I am, but just for the fact that I am a good human being.
 To my family, who loves and respects me, and to my great friends around the world, I want you to know that I love and respect and support you all, no matter what your political beliefs, no matter what you believe... I love you all.
 To those of you who find that they must do everything that they can to humiliate us because they do not support our beliefs, I can offer you nothing. If you hate us, if you feel that you must do everything that you can to destroy us, I can only tell you that you will never succeed. Still, I wish you happiness, as long as it does not interfere with ours.
 Love and Peace to all of my dear friends, as always.
 John Zaffino, Kent Lakes, New York
 September 5, 2014