Baseball is the most imperfect and perplexing, yet alluring of all sports. Hitting a round ball, whistling by at ninety miles-per-hour, with a round bat defies logic. I can then square this round ball as hard as I possibly can, but still get out? The opposing force of this contact may cause my bat to explode in shards. Actually, I don’t have to hit the ball to get on base, it can hit me. I can fail seventy percent of the time and be regarded as one of the best. There is nothing perfect about baseball, yet it continues to be America’s pastime and my greatest passion. Baseball, the game of failure, entices me because its imperfections have an uncanny resemblance to life and invaluable lessons to be learned.
Baseball is one of the only sports without a clock, but always has an end. There’s no telling how long a game could last, especially if it goes into extra innings. In this fast paced world people want a faster paced game, but they fail to see all of the intricacies within the long game. Jahred Adelman, Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago describes baseball as “a beautiful game that allows people to watch and understand physics at work.” Adelman also explains that the same physics of hitting, catching, and throwing a ball can be found in the motion of roller coasters, rocket ships, and in the acceleration of a car. It is so much more than see the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. It is mixture of mathematics, physics, and luck accompanied by rituals and dressed in tradition. The game is surrounded by sights, sounds, and aromas that stir the soul. The variables are endless and just as in real life, we never truly know when we will be thrown a curveball or when the game will come to a close.
Like no other sport, baseball keeps people honest and tallies their mistakes and imperfections. It is intimidating for most people to have to address their demons so to speak, knowing their errors are out there for all to see. However, we all face adversity. People and players that continually fail, often do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different outcome. The most successful people in life make many errors, but it is the ability to adjust that leads to further success. In life and baseball, it’s important to embrace mistakes and failures, learn from them, and improve for that next opportunity, that next at-bat. The beauty of baseball lies in going up to the plate after batting 0-3, making contact or better yet, hitting it out of the park. I never go down just “looking,” instead I observe and make adjustments.
Baseball is truly a game of failure! In fact, the best players fail at least seventy percent of the time. These same players have a .300 batting average putting them into elite company. Anyone who fails seventy percent of the time would be regarded as terrible in the private sector, but instead they are considered a leader simply because their peers are failing slightly more. In a world where everyone wants to be a homerun slugger and a hero, it is often a player that sacrifices their own personal gain that is the true hero. A sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, or getting hit by a pitch can be a game changer that garnishes respect.
The physique of the baseball athlete is also an enigma. There is no average body type as baseball invites everyone from the imperfect to the athletic, from short and stubby to tall and thin. According to Eric Ding’s 2010 Harvard study, over 55% of players are overweight. A seemingly out of shape and overweight pitcher in their late 30’s with a beer belly can have an amazing command of the game. Yet a seasoned physically fit athlete, such as Michael Jordan, struggled to find any success. Contrary to reason, baseball doesn’t encourage conditioning as much because fitness doesn’t matter in the traditional sense unless you are stretching a double into a triple. Heart, grit, passion, skill, and other intangibles make up for any shortcomings in physique and this is all part of baseball’s imperfect charm. It is a truly an American sport, played and watched by American bodies. All sizes, on the same field, compete together at next level. It allows the fans to think, “Hey I can do this too.”
Life and baseball can be disappointing and hard at times. Baseball is a game of failure and so is life with many unpredictable variables, but that’s what makes it so exciting! I may miss that fastball down the middle, my golden chance at success. In life, there are times I may have a great opportunity, but miss it. I may even drive a ball hard, but the competition makes a spectacular play. I gave my best effort, yet still failed! This frustration motivates me to come back and hit the ball even harder, strengthening my determination to improve. Author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the “10,000 hour rule” stating that most skills can be mastered by practicing correctly for 10,000 hours. So, I take responsibility and action through practice, pushing myself and trying new things. This beautifully imperfect game has taught me that despite one’s best efforts, things may not go your way. It has also empowered me to know that when life throws me a curve, there will be another at bat, and when that time comes, I will be ready for the long game.
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Baseball = Failure
In response to a feature article on Bleacher Boy in the newspaper, The Journal Times, I am reposting a topic that was highlighted.
I am always reminded that baseball is a huge game of failure. Great hitters hit a .300 average. Look at it this way, it means you FAIL 70% of the time. That’s a huge percentage. You are guaranteed to fail. If while at bat, you advance a runner and he gets into scoring position, but you get out, do you fail? Absolutely not. Your batting average will be lower, which may look bad on the surface. However, you are part of a team whose goal is to score runs. Let’s say the winning run is on third and you crush the ball to the outfield and the fielder makes an amazing play. You don’t fail because your goal is to hit the ball solidly and you succeeded. You tip your cap to the defender and try again. This unfortunately is a scenario that’s happened to me many times. Another scenario would be if there is a full count and bases are loaded in the last inning. You strike out. Yes, this is failing, but it’s part of the game. It happens to everyone. No matter how hard you try, the game of baseball will always win. So you will always face adversity, but it is how you respond to it that makes the difference between good players and great ball players!
Negative Thinking = Contagion
On my traveling baseball team, many of the kids get very upset after committing an error or not batting well. ( Parents, it doesn’t help if you’re screaming or putting pressure on your kid.) If this ever happens to me, I just try my best to be positive and to keep my head up as well as encourage teammates. Otherwise, this can cause you to play horribly because you are not in a good mental mood. If one person starts having a bad attitude, it spreads like a disease. Everyone starts getting upset and frustrated and the team starts to fade. The other team smells this frustration and takes advantage of it and then uses it against you. They will crush you to pieces. I’ve seen this happen to my team numerous times. Kids crying, helmets thrown, missed grounders, bad throws -it’s ugly. I’ve heard that scouts hope to see errors when looking at players. They want to see how a player handles mistakes mentally and how/if they can recover. My advice: Let it go! Don’t mix offense and defense. Leave the error on the field. Leave the strikeout in the batter’s box. Each player needs to find what works for them – so learn to forgive yourself and move forward!!! And “PLAY BALL!!”
Tim Tebow’s first spring training is officially underway! Recently in a press conference, he responded to a reporter with an eye opening statement…
What a beautiful statement…
This press conference reminded me to keep things in perspective. In our world today, we are often so self absorbed, spoiled, overindulged, and happy to be rewarded with participation trophies. The result is that we are often overly sensitive allowing the slightest correction or criticism to offend/hurt us. In sports, we feel so defeated about matters that mean nothing in the long run like making an error or being in a slump. How can we feel so pressured, so worried about ourselves when there are so many people suffering? There are people without clean water or shelter and we are worried about selfish superficial “1st world problems” like purchasing the latest cleats or high tech bats. There are much bigger things to worry about than my baseball games or being angry when my team loses in the playoffs. So much of our life is just a game filled with noise and stuff – it’s a social media profile. Life should be more than a stat line and likes/views on a post.
Let us all try to follow Tebow’s words as wanting to be a person that brings “faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” The world is so much bigger than us and we must keep things in perspective. So let’s do better! Get out there and be someone’s home run while helping the less fortunate. It will result in the most rewarding stats of your life.
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In The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieveing Your Dreams, Derek Jeter lays out his top 10 life lessons. These are wonderful guidelines that can apply to everyone. Here is my take on each of Jeter’s life lessons.
1. Set Your Goals High
Always set your goals high. If you don’t dream big and set goals to accomplish your dream, then you will be disappointed. The quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” applies perfect. Derek does not want you to wish for things. He wants you to make that wish a goal and work for it.
My goal is to be a journalist covering baseball one day. I hope my plan of creating a name for myself through this platform can help me accomplish my goal.
2. Deal With Growing Pains
The road to success will never be easy. There are always bumps on the road. Derek Jeter had numerous slumps throughout his career, but he dealt with them and got back on his feet. Mistakes carry value. It’s where we learn, build upon ourselves, and get better.
People are always going to doubt you. Sometimes they are threatened by your potential. Harness that doubt and negativity into positive energy. When someone doubts me, it only fuels my fire to become a better player, writer and person.
It’s all about the attitude we posses when confronting our growing pains that ultimately helps us deal with and overcome them.
3. Find Role Models
Role models can be crucial to one’s success. They are someone you can always go to for advice and help. Some people may not have any role models they know personally in their lives, so they may look up to their favorite star as a role model. This is why I feel it is of utmost importance for “stars” to lead by example. We are all watching and many follow in their steps.
Some huge role models of mine are my parents, coaches, friends, and siblings. They are my number one fans and will always be there for me through thick and thin. Another role model of mine, a friend I made though my platform, is Tom Pipines of Fox News. He has taken me under his wing and I’m grateful for his mentorship. Pip is always there for me.
4. The World is Not Always Fair
The worst of things can occur to the best of us. Only focus on what you can control and strive to be the best in it.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Who better to tell us this than a superstar in the game of failure? If all we did was succeed, do we truly know what success is? Our worst of times, bring out our best. Failure is a constructive obstacle that makes success more fulfilling. Failure is our opportunity to learn, improve and challenge ourselves.
6. Have a Strong Supporting Cast
I have never been forced to like or do anything by my role models. I have been able to discover my identity on my own with the unconditional support of people around me. You can’t reach your dream by yourself. It takes a village to raise a star.
Another way to look at a strong supporting cast is competition. Look at others in your prospective field as friends, but also as competitors to challenge you. Most importantly, STAY AWAY FROM THE HATERS!
7. Be Serious, but Have Fun
If you want to be successful in whatever it is you want to do, it has to be taken seriously. Work harder than anyone you’re competing with. Understand the task at hand and do everything you can to accomplish it.
If you have a true love and passion for what you desire, the fun should come along with it. Nothing is more fun for me than baseball practice everyday and writing countless number of articles to share. Everyone has heard that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life and it has to be true. However, as soon as the fun is lost, everything goes down with it. Work becomes a chore and motivation is lost. You start to “go through the motions.” Maintaining that fun, love, and passion is crucial to a happy successful life.
8. Be a Leader, Follow the Leader
Showing the traits of leadership will help you rise in the eyes of others as well as the ranks of your job/task. This certainly includes, but does not have to mean a vocal leader. Actions speak louder than words. Coaches will always notice heart, hustle, and attitude and they will eventually be rewarded. Derek Jeter was one of the best “lead by example” types out there. Not once did I ever see him not hustle and his heart was always undeniably in the game.
Another part of this lesson from Jeter, is to follow the leader. This can be taken two ways. One way is to follow in the footsteps of a role model. Another is, until you are at the very top, there is always someone above you to look up to. It is always very important to respect a superior. It will pay off in the end.
9. Think Before You Act
Every action has a consequence, good or bad. Ask yourself, is this good for me? Is this going to help me accomplish my goal in life? If the answer is no, it’s probably something to avoid. We must all control our impulses and focus on the bigger picture.
10. Life is a Daily Challenge
Every day we are met with challenges. There will always be good and bad days. Life is not easy, but we if we attack it with the right mindset and work ethic, we might just be up to the challenge.
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Header image from Jordan Derek Jeter tribute ad
In honor of the anniversary of my brother Zach kicking cancer’s butt, I wanted to post our story.
I was sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, in early October, 2005 drawing a picture. My sister Delilah was at her friend’s house, my brother Zach went to a car show with friends, and my twin, Sophie, was home with me. The sun was shining, trying to add warmth to the crisp cool fall day. And, there I sat, carefree, enjoying the pretty fall colors, drawing leaves with assorted crayons of red, yellow, and orange. Then, my mother received a troubling phone call from one of Zach’s friends. His friend, Nate, with a sickening worry in his voice told my mother that Zach was having intense pain in his groin and lower back. He couldn’t even walk. I saw my mom put down the phone, knowing something was wrong from the look on her face. Even though I was only five years old, I could sense something wasn’t right. That was when the darkness came.
As soon as Zach got home, my mother rushed outside. I never actually saw Zach and that’s when I knew that it could be more serious. She told me she had to take Zach to the hospital. That’s when I flipped my picture over to draw something else. I started to draw a picture for Zach of him in an ambulance. I was hoping everything would be okay.
Looking back, I remember my mother telling me that she thought Zach may have just torn or popped something in his groin or lower back because he was a skater and may have fallen. She thought some movement may have made it “out of whack.” Zach had a slight pain for a little while before the car show day. He even went to a chiropractor for some physical therapy. This was a very reasonable and a logical thought. She was very wrong and the darkness stayed.
Mom transported Zach from his friend’s car to our car and rushed him to the hospital. There, they found a mass on one of Zach’s testicles. My mom heard a vague comment about Lance Armstrong, but was confused. They wouldn’t tell her anything other than to come back the next morning to see a specialist. They decided to do immediate surgery even without a biopsy. A biopsy was too risky because there was a risk that trying to extract this suspicious mass would cause some cells to fall into the bloodstream. If some cells fell into the bloodstream, it could spread throughout his body.
After surgery, the doctors reported to my parents that Zach had cancer for sure. It was called testicular cancer. They told her it was the most aggressive type of cancer cell. The doctors did say that they believed that they extracted all of the cancer. Zach was sent home and everything was thought to be okay. They also found nothing in his blood cells to detect cancer. They didn’t know Zach was “marker negative,” which means the cancer cells would not come up in blood tests. My mother thought it was strange that he was just fine. Maybe it was just the darkness, but she had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
Just to be sure, my mother wanted a second opinion. She took Zach down to Rush hospital in Chicago. The doctor they saw was a trained specialist in this field. He worked under the doctor that treated the famous biker, Lance Armstrong, who also had testicular cancer. After Zach was checked out, the doctors brought back terrible news. The cancer had already spread to parts of his abdomen and lymph nodes. It would be awhile before the light and laughter would return to our home.
It’s so weird how life can literally change in an instant. Before this, Zach was on top of the world. He had just turned sixteen, had a girlfriend, got a driver’s license, and he got a sharp little sports car. He had just started his junior year at Walden H.S. Then it came all crashing down on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The clouds and the darkness came in the form of cancer, an uninvited stranger in our home. If left unchecked, the cancer would have progressed to the lungs and to the brain. Zach again needed a very complicated and immediate surgery. If my mother didn’t trust her gut and didn’t bring him in for a second opinion, the doctors said Zach would have died within six months to 2 years.
My mom and dad, understandably, had trouble dealing with the news. They felt overwhelmed, depressed and shocked. They couldn’t process and learn all the necessary information fast enough. My sister, Delilah, was in fifth grade and adored Zach. She was scared, but young enough to be a little clueless. Sophie and I could sense something was wrong, but we were confused. Cancer was like having an unwelcome stranger move in, where everyone is acting differently, and I tried to be on my best behavior. Sadness clouded our family. We were scared that we didn’t know what was wrong. There many hushed phone calls and sleepless nights for us all. Zach was down mentally and physically, scared, exhausted, yet hopeful, and strong. It was frustrating for him to have to rely on everyone else to do things for him. Zach was used to being thought of as a good-looking guy and vanity wise, it began to hurt his ego. He just wanted life to get back to normal.
In the surgery they removed all of the cancerous areas that were shown on the MRI’s. Then, they ordered several treatments of chemotherapy to flush out all remaining cells. He was out on a six month plan which was considered short, but still treacherous. Chemotherapy is a variety of medicine that they put through an IV in your body to attack your cancer cells. But in fact, it really is poison that kills the fastest growing cells in your body which include the lining of your mouth, your intestines, white blood cells, hair, nails, skin, and finally cancer cells. So while you’re attacking cancer cells, you are attacking all of those other things. A lot of people think chemotherapy is one thing, but each phase is different. It’s specifically designed for each patient. There is also some trial and error because too much can harm you and too little wouldn’t help at all.
Just when you think having cancer is bad enough, going through the chemotherapy results in devastating side effects. When mom brought Zach to the chemotherapy section of the hospital she said it sucked the air out of her lungs and she couldn’t breathe. Everyone around her looked like they were dying. She realized Zach would look like this soon. Zach lost his hair everywhere on his body. He once said that you don’t realize how much you need you nose hair because when you bend over everything drains out. He laughed, a little bit of light broke through. His hair follicles even hurt. A vivid memory my mother still sadly tells me is when Zach was lying in the hospital bed and complained that his head hurt. When he shifted, a huge chunk of his beautiful, black, thick hair was now part of the pillow and no longer a part of Zach. It took my mother’s breath away and she was speechless as she started to tear up. When Zach lost his hair I remember being terrified of him. Until then, the scars and gory stuff was buried beneath bandages and clothes. Now, I could see the metamorphosis left behind by cancer. Sunken, lifeless eyes and pale grey, hairless skin moved into my brother’s body. Zach was so weak, so sad that his little siblings, including myself, were scared of him. He was frightened, not recognizing his own reflection in the mirror.
The darkness grew and black spots began to appear on his fingertips and toes. It was the chemo burning his body from the inside out. Also as a result of the chemo, Zach had painful ulcers in his mouth and intestines. He experienced nausea and brain fog. My mother tells me that one day Zach woke up screaming and peeing blood because of kidney stones caused by the chemotherapy. To try to counteract some of the side effects they gave Zach steroids. These at least provided some relief and gave Zach an appetite, but also resulted in a bloated look, further distorting his normal good looks. But Zach, my brother, my inspiration, was not going to be beat.
Glimmers of light started to appear and brighten our home and Zach’s spirits. We were all going to battle to fight this! Zach’s support from Walden was monumental. Students and staff sent him well wishes and bought him a PSP video game to occupy his time at home. Many of his friends were always there for him. At my grade school and church, St. Rita’s, we would pray for him every day. We were fortunate to have many friends and family that helped make and deliver meals to our house. The support and prayers from others helped us greatly as well. The doctors and nurses were amazing. They all began to provide hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel that drove out the darkness.
About a year later, Zach was finally done with treatment. It’s a bitter sweet, and somewhat fearful feeling that treatment is over. It didn’t feel like an endgame, it felt like a waiting game to see if “it” comes back. Zach wasn’t going to sit around and wait for anything, there was too much living to do. Zach went on to enjoy prom, graduate from high school and get a degree from Marquette University. He is happy, healthy, handsome again, and the bravest man I know. And here I sit, nine years later, at the kitchen table, not drawing but typing. The sun is shining brightly, adding warmth to a glorious cool day.
“You beat cancer by HOW you live, WHY you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
Former NFL QB and Heisman winner, Tim Tebow, has decided to pursue a career in professional baseball. This is completely SERIOUS. So serious that he plans to hold a workout for MLB teams later this month and he’s been reportedly training over the past year in Arizona to refine his skills since he last played as a junior in high school in 2005. At Nease High School, Tim Tebow was an all-state baseball player who raked .494. Below is Tebow pictured in high school. Mark DeRosa jokingly said on MLB Network that he swings like Mark Teixeira.
Not convinced yet? Tebow’s agents, Jimmy Sexton and Nick Khan,, are working with Brodie Van Wagenen, the co-head of CAA Baseball, to make his baseball dream come true. Van Wagenen said in a statement, “This may sound like a publicity stunt, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have seen Tim’s workouts and people inside and outside the industry – scouts, executives, players and fans – will be impressed by his talent. As an agent, I have a genuine respect for how hard it is to succeed at the game of baseball and a true admiration for those who possess the talent to play it at the Major League level. Tim’s tool set is real.”
The reactions revolving around Tebow’s baseball dream have been mixed…
Former Major Leaguer Gary Sheffield and 9-time All-Star has been impressed with Tebow:
Chad Moeller, a former MLB catcher has had great things to say about Tebow, “I am beyond impressed with Tim’s athleticism and swing, and it goes without saying that he has shown a high level of discipline and strong work ethic. I see bat speed and power and real baseball talent. I truly believe Tim has the skill set and potential to achieve his goal of playing in the Major Leagues, and based on what I have seen over the past two months, it could happen relatively quickly.”
Tom Kotchman, former Los Angeles Angels scout said to WEEI-AM, “We wanted to draft him, but he never sent back his information card. Who knows if it got to him, and if it did we just never got it back. Otherwise we were going to take him.”
An Independent League team has even offered Tebow a contract:
The White Sox AA affiliate, the Birmingham Barons joined in on the fun with a Michael Jordan reference:
Adam Jones, Greg Swindle, Dontrelle Willis aren’t too sure about Tebow:
Tim Tebow will continue to be ridiculed for his choice, but that won’t stop him. He’s dealt with media crap his whole career. Tim Tebow is the role model every kid should strive to be. He is incredibly hard working, committed and persistent as well as a fantastic all around man. I am rooting for him to make it. Is it likely? Odds are against him but anything is possible and I would love nothing more than to see Tebow prove everyone wrong!
The New York Mets have signed free agent shortstop, Jose Reyes, to a minor league deal after clearing waivers with the Rockies to reunite the two parties. Jose Reyes was a star for the Mets from 2003-2011 and left for a $106 million contract spanning 6 years with the Marlins. He was then traded to the Blue Jays, then the Rockies acquired him in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Reyes was suspended without pay (lost $6.25 million) through May 31 for his domestic violence incident last October where he grabbed his wife by the throat and pushed her into a glass door while in Hawaii. He was arrested, but after his wife was uncooperative with the prosecution, the charges were later dropped. Even though he was never formally charged, he still violated the MLB domestic abuse policy which led to his suspension. The Mets GM Sandy Alderson feels Jose has learned from his mistake, served his punishment, and deserves a second chance saying:
“I did meet with Jose personally. We talked for about an hour. Obviously, this domestic abuse issue was the focal point of that conversation. I came away feeling that he had taken responsibility for this mistake on his part, that he was remorseful. He obviously has paid a penalty for this, both financially and in terms of his career. He, I believe, is committed to ongoing counseling and support of organizations working against domestic abuse. And obviously, in addition to this personal meeting, we had a lot of internal conversations. [Chief operating officer] Jeff Wilpon was directly involved in this every step of the way. We were aware of the possible controversy this would generate. We’re also fully aware of the responsibility we sort of have to be leaders in this area of fighting domestic abuse.” Sandy also said, “At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so, if you think of it in those terms, us as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt that he deserved a second chance, and that second chance was most appropriate with us.”
“We fully understand there will be differences of opinion about this. Some people will feel strongly and differently. I think we accept that. We respect that. All I can say is both Jose and the organization will be held to a standard going forward that recognizes the seriousness of domestic abuse and a commitment to stand against it.”
Reyes expressed regret for his actions and is looking forward to future saying below:
“As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family. I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York.”
The Mets are hoping this second chance for their former star helps a line up desperately looking for a boost as well as add depth. He will spend around a week in the minors to recalibrate his skills before joining the MLB roster. The Rockies are responsible for the $39 million he’s owed and the Mets only have to pay him the league minimum of $507,50. This is a great low-risk, high-reward opportunity for New York. His role will not be as shortstop with the Mets as Asdrubal Cabrera blocks him there. He will be playing 3rd and even work in the outfield. Reyes should be slotted into the leadoff spot to boost the Mets order. He will also bring a much needed speed to a team barren of it. It is unfair for anyone to expect his 2011 batting title days coming back as Alderson said on his expectations:
“Do we expect him to win the National League battle title this year the way he did in 2011? No. Has he lost a step – maybe? Is he the premier shortstop that he once was? It doesn’t really matter — he’s not going to play shortstop. So we’ve taken all of those things into account. We think he can help us. You know, from a motivational standpoint, I don’t think we would be able to find a player who is more determined, more highly motivated to perform than Jose is today.”
I personally used to be a fan of Reyes, but lost all respect for him after his altercation with his wife. With the statements from Alderson, it seems that the Mets have and are continuing to handle the situation well. It is great to see the MLB as a whole handling domestic violence seriously. I hope Reyes has truly learned from his mistake. Based on the statements, both parties feel that he has. It is good to see that his counselling will continue while in New York. Even though I will never look at him the same like many others and rightfully so, I wish the best for him and his family and hope he grows from this experience. You can spend your life working hard, building up your reputation, and respect, doing great things – but it only takes one regrettable act to have it all come crashing down. Any man that hurts his wife is not a man at all. However, I do believe in second chances.
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