I am a Christian guy. There are a lot of emotions going through my mind as I type this. The most prevalent one is anger. Here is what I would like to say?
How could you? You coward! You are a fake and a cheat and now you want to retire? No way! You get back out there and you take the pain. You stand in front of the cameras and tell us that you are a fake. Tell us that you only care about money. Look directly into the camera and tell us that you don’t give a crap about baseball and that this was always about money! Look into the camera and tell us that you are so stupid and entitled that you are willing to put anything in your body if you think it will help. You took OVULATION MEDICINE DUDE. You were such a fake, that you put medicine in your body that helps you produce eggs for reproduction. You should have eaten raisins. I hear they help you think.
That is how I feel. Those are the feelings that make me want to lash out. But I am not going to say that. I am going to calm down and think before I type. I’m going to step away from the computer and think about what my actions mean. I’m going to walk into the living room and hug Beckett, Chase, and Ava. I’m going to think about my wife Christi and thank God for allowing me to have a wife who loves me. I’ll be right back.
That took a little longer than I expected. Here is what I am actually going to say.
Manny. You’re ripping my heart out man. I had so much respect for the way you hit. I told my friends, “Manny doesn’t cheat. He’s legit.” But you aren’t man.
I want to be angry and raise my voice. But I’m not going to do that. I am calm right now. This is what I want to tell you from my heart.
You don’t have to be a great baseball player for people to love you. We love your personality. You seem to be a happy guy and that is what we love.
Manny, happiness isn’t about money. I know we are all tricked into thinking that money will make us happy, but it doesn’t have that power. The only thing that provides us with real happiness is living for something greater than ourselves.
I’m not made or angry with you anymore. I’m not going to sign off in a condescending way. In fact I want to thank you for making me realize what this life is about. I just got back from hugging my kids and kissing my wife. I have been praying and thanking God for allowing me to have such blessings.
Manny, your actions have reminded me how thankful I am that God blessed me with the natural ability to play in the Big Leagues. When my kids ask me about baseball and the Steroid Era, I will look at them and say,
“You know you don’t have to cheat to make it in life. All you have to do is try as hard as you can. There will be times when you are really tested and you’ll want to take the easy way out. But you don’t have to because I will love you no matter where you end up. And if you do mess up, I am going to love you. And if you mess up again, I will love you. Beckett, Chase, and Ava, this world will try and trick you into thinking that you need to cheat. The world will make you think that it is fine to do what everyone else is doing even if it hurts you. You don’t have to. Work hard and don’t give in. Life isn’t about money or fame. Life is about caring for those around you and you can do that in any job. Work hard. You can do it! I love you.
Check out what Steve Henson wrote…
An Old Ballplayer And His New Soul
It was a simple act. David Newhan held open a restaurant door for a person in a wheelchair. And yet he was overcome by emotion. Gratitude gave way to longing, longing gave way to resolve, resolve circled back to gratitude, and then he wanted nothing more than to find the nearest ballfield, crush a fastball and dash around the bases.
As the wheelchair rolled past, Newhan silently thanked God for his own miraculous luck. A surfing accident off the Southern California coast in September 2009 snapped the C2 vertebrae in his neck — much the way it is done in a judicial hanging — but Newhan’ spinal cord was somehow spared. He walked home unaware of the extent of the injury, surfboard under his arm, and calmly asked his wife to drive him to a hospital.
Eighteen months later, Newhan recognizes in other situations what so easily could have been his own. Divine providence spared him paralysis or instant death, he believes, and he won’t take a single day for granted. He can hold his wife and two children, take strolls on the beach, and — why not take this reprieve as far as he can? — play baseball in a major league uniform.
Newhan is 37. He has spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues for five different teams. He is versatile, he hustles, he’s a guy coaches say plays the game the right way. Yet he spent the entire 2009 season in Triple-A obscurity and the 2010 season rehabilitating from the neck injury. Transitioning into a coaching career or the broadcasting booth seemed prudent. Easy, even.
To everyone but Newhan.
He got his doctor’s OK to play, contacted the San Diego Padres, convinced them he was serious about a comeback, and headed for spring training. He’s spending most of his time in minor league camp sweating off the rust, but he’s played in one major league game, getting two memorable at-bats.
After enduring some good-natured ribbing from Padres manager Bud Black (“What’s the deal with you, David? Are you here to play or coach?”), Newhan stepped into the batter’s box for the first time and again nearly burst with gratitude. Actor Christopher Reeve had suffered the same injury after being thrown from a horse in 1995 and was left a quadriplegic. Numerous others had died instantaneously. And here he was with a bat in his hands, taking a gulp of warm Arizona air, a voice screaming “Ice cold beer!” in the stands behind him.
Newhan backed out of the box and gathered himself. He took another deep breath and told himself to return to the moment. He set up in his left-handed stance and drilled the first good pitch he saw into right field for a single.
He ran to first.
“Just to be on the field was awesome,” he says. “I see someone in a wheelchair and think about how lucky I am to have a full recovery. How bad would that person want what I have been blessed enough to be doing?”
His second time up, he drove a pitch into the left-center field gap but the left fielder made a running catch. No matter. Newhan has carried the euphoria of those two at-bats with him through the grind of daily workouts. His goal is to make the Padres’ Triple-A team, polish his game and be available to the big club as the season progresses.
Newhan is primarily an outfielder, but he’s also played a lot at second base and some at third and first. He’ll happily play anywhere now. His recovery from the accident is complete, and reaching the big leagues again would bring closure to his career.
“Let’s see where it leads,” Black says. “You can never count David out. He’s already proven that.”
Black wasn’t necessarily referring to Newhan lying on the ocean floor, filling up with water and terror. But he might as well have been. Because no obstacle Newhan faces in baseball can come close to that moment.
He sneaked out to catch a few late waves that afternoon, two blocks from his home in Oceanside, Calif. Newhan grew up in Southern California and attended college at Pepperdine in Malibu, so surfing was as much a rite of passage as baseball. He was no novice.
“It wasn’t like I wiped out,” he says. “I made a bad decision by jumping off my board. I was far enough offshore and didn’t think it was shallow. I thought I’d skim the top of the water.”
Instead, his head struck full force into a sandbar. He went completely numb, barely aware of the salt water coursing through his nostrils.
“I had a stinger throughout my whole body,” he says. “I was trying to move knowing I couldn’t. I was floating up. I thought, ‘If I can get my head above water, I’ll try to call for help.’”
His next thought was more of a prayer: “Jesus, let me move.” His arms and legs responded, and he grabbed his board and slid his belly onto it. He slowly paddled to shore, gingerly walked home and called his wife, Karen, who was visiting her parents 10 miles away.
“I think I should get an X-Ray,” he told her. “Something happened, and something is wrong. My neck is locking up.”
The hospital emergency room was packed and Newhan sat for several hours before receiving care, unaware that if shards from the vertebrae shifted even a millimeter, he would die. Finally it was his turn, and a CT scan revealed a spiral, compound fracture in three places. The doctor gasped, the nurse called it a “Hangman’s break,” and Newhan was fitted for a neck brace.
He wore a halo brace for two months, then a smaller one for another month. He slept on his back. He couldn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. He was allowed 45-minute walks in the morning and evening with Karen. Sometimes they’d bring along their son, Nico, and daughter, Gianna, who now are ages six and three.
“Karen has been unbelievably strong,” Newhan says. “And for her to support me giving baseball another shot, I can’t say enough how much that means.”
Recovery accelerated when he began an alternative physical therapy regimen called the Egoscue methodwith trainers Jordan Feramisco and Liba Placek. Within a few months, Newhan built a batting cage in the trainers’ Sorrento Valley, Calif., facility and began giving hitting lessons to youngsters in addition to taking swings himself. The baseball bug had bitten him again.
He put out feelers to major league teams last summer but couldn’t find a taker. He kept working out, and a few months ago made a call to longtime friend Jason McLeod, the Padres assistant general manager. “All I want is a shot,” Newhan told him. Nobody expects Newhan to return to the peak form he displayed when he hit .311 for the Orioles in 2004, but eventually contributing in a utility role would be enough.
And if it doesn’t work out, Newhan won’t be down. He’s played for nine organizations in 14 pro seasons. He’s been demoted. He’s been released. He’s been through a lot. And as everybody knows by now, he’s a tough out.
My friend broke his neck.
The moment his head hit the sand bar he knew he was going to die. He couldn’t feel his body and the waves kept pushing him back down to the ocean floor. What was going through his mind? I’m sure he said a prayer. I’m sure he thought about his wife, son, and daughter. I wonder if he thought about his baseball career?
My friend didn’t die. He lived and the story is amazing. He is in Spring Training right now trying to make a team. But I am not going to tell you the rest. My hope is that reporters start asking around. They can find him and it will be the biggest story of Spring Training.
PS…To My Buddy, I know you wanted to keep a low profile, but people need to hear this story.
In a show of solidarity, I too will move the non-story I didn’t write about the Pujols deadline by 24 hours. The new Pujols/Cardinals deadline will now be Wednesday, February 16 at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time. To show just how serious I am about not writing anything relating to the Pujols deadline, I have decided to use “Zulu” time. Since I am on the west coast, my non-story deadline will be 1700 Zulu Time. Below you will find a couple of charts to help you know what time to check my site for absolutely nothing because nothing will be written about the topic. Read the rest of this entry »
Aunt Sue is Christi’s aunt. She is famous in my circle of friends for being fun. In fact, one of her names in “Fun Aunt Sue.” So why would I be talking about her? What does she have to do with baseball? Well, a lot. Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »
Well we did it! MLB Radio is hiring me to do shows for the 2011 season. This is very exciting for a few reasons. First, I love interacting with people who love baseball. Second, I am able to do this job from anywhere in the country. More on that. Finally, I am excited about readers to drive the conversation. But how about I talk about the experience? Read the rest of this entry »
Sirius/XM MLB Radio Tuesday 8pm Eastern/5 Pacific
Welcome to the 2011 season! A lot has happened since last season. But first I have great news! I am getting a chance to tryout for a Radio Show on Sirius XM Radio.
Here is what is going down. I have a 2 day tryout starting on Tuesday night at 8 PM Eastern/ 5 Pacific. The host is Mike Farrin and we will be taking calls about all of the questions that you have about this coming season.
What I think is cool about this is that I am telling you that I am in an actual tryout. It is rare that anyone ever alerts you to this fact. Being the realist that I am, I love that you get a chance to see if I am good or bad. Most are afraid of feedback, but we have learned here that I encourage it. It is the only way for me to get better.
My request from you
Can you listen to the show and tell me what I am doing well or what I am messing up on? I understand that this is an unusual request in that most players don’t want to know your opinion at all, but I want to be on a show that actually speaks to your questions.
The show is on XM 175 and Sirius 210.
Over and out…….