Friday, September 30, 2011

We Are Merely Players

I presume that I am not alone among Yankees fans in thinking just what it says about the state of their starting rotation that Freddy Garcia is the Game 3 starter in the ALDS. If it was 1999, then I would be thrilled. In 2011, not so much. Perhaps appropriately in a year in which the Milwaukee Brewers are among the eight teams in MLB whose season has a post-script, the Yankees' pitching mantra is, "Sabathia, Nova and Wake Me When It's Over." The Missus and I enjoyed the hell out of the tickertape parade in 2009. Methinks we will be living confetti-free this autumn. I hope I am wrong.

Sunday morning Sue's Crew runs again. Our third iteration shall convene in what shall undoubtedly be the chilly confines of Great Adventure. The predicted high temperature in Jackson New Jersey on Sunday is 58 degrees. When we gather at or about 7:00 a.m. - a time of day where the sun is in the October sky more for coloring than warmth - it will be nowhere near the anticipated high-Mercury mark.

I think, having gone to law school to escape the rigors of mathematics, the number of members on this year's Crew is the most we have had in our three-year history. The uptick in membership is due in no small part to the recruitment efforts of my sister Kara. She was a Crew member last year and has this year recruited nine additional members, including her youngest son Jordan and her hubby Russ. In my house, we have taken to referring to Russ as "The Ringer" for if there is a member of Sue's Crew who has a chance for a podium finish on Sunday, it is Russ. No pressure old man. Just win your age group.

Sunday is - of course - the Race for the Cure, an event held annually on October's first Sunday. October is - as you may or may not be aware - Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Those of us gathered to run on Sunday morning will comment about the cold when we first get exposed to it. It is human nature after all. But we shall not dwell on it or harp on it. Bitching about what is nothing more than a temporary discomfort for longer than the time it takes to utter aloud once (OK maybe twice), "Holy Sh*t it is cold out here!" when in the presence of individuals who are either waging a battle against cancer or who have done so is simply bad form. We do not do it. No one at the Race does.

Good is being done all over the State of Concrete Gardens on Sunday. There is actually an event being held in Somerset County that - but for the Race for the Cure - our family would participate in. Suzy B. was a patient at the Steeplechase Cancer Center at Somerset Medical Center on several occasions during the final couple of years of her life. The facility is beautiful. All of the people who staff it, medical and otherwise, are top-notch. This Sunday, in Hillsborough Township, several thousand runners shall participate in the Steeplechase Distance Run, which benefits the Steeplechase Cancer Center. This is the third annual running of this particular event. If its organizers could ever be persuaded to bump it back one week, then it would be part of my October calendar.

Among the groups participating on Sunday in Hillsborough Township is "Progin's Players". Ian Progin, 33, is the varsity basketball coach at Hillsborough High School. He is a Hillsborough High alumni, having coached now for the past eight years at his alma mater. He is also a husband and father of two little children. He is also someone who is battling cancer. Specifically, Stage 4 Glioblastoma with which he was diagnosed in early May, 2011. Progin's Players is a group that was formed to help support Coach Progin, his wife Courtney, their daughter Payton and their son Jeffery. A young man of 33 should not have to confront issues such as brain cancer. If life was fair, then he would not. It is not. Thus he must.

And he is not lacking for support. According to Jerry Carino's piece in Thursday's Courier-News, Progin's Players is 700 members strong. He did not ask Coach Progin to provide him with the strengths and weaknesses of this roster but one presumes that using "coach speak" Coach Progin would have listed its depth as a strength but the difficulty getting enough minutes for everyone as a weakness.

Being a good basketball coach, he undoubtedly would have noted that solving the latter is his problem - and it is a good problem to have. And for a young man who has been forced to deal with more than his proportionate share of bad problems this year, it is one that he will welcome gladly. Good luck to the Coach, his family and the unstoppable force that is Progin's Players. Not just this Sunday, but every Sunday thereafter.

-AK

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