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The Good Press - Issue #43: Decency

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The Good Press

February 10 · Issue #43 · View online

A newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind


Esteemed baseball reporter Pedro Gomez was a pillar of decency and kindness, and his sudden passing makes me yearn for warmer days amid the cold. We can all use more random acts of decency in our lives, and we should always pay it forward.

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
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The baseball community will miss Pedro Gomez (Photo: Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)
The baseball community will miss Pedro Gomez (Photo: Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)
Decency
When I began, I thought I was going to write a good chunk of today’s issue about the large football game from last weekend, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I didn’t find the game (or the commercials) all that interesting.
Tampa Bay’s coaching staff had a perfect gameplan and their players were able to do the impossible: make Patrick Mahomes look like any other player. The Kansas City quarterback suffered the worst loss of his budding Hall of Fame career, even though he may have been the best player on the field. It was a tough break for KC, and now they have a looooooong offseason to digest it. For more coverage of the big game, I would recommend trying almost anywhere else online. I’ve seen enough of Tom Brady for one lifetime.
There’s an old joke among baseball fans that baseball season begins the very moment after the final whistle that ends the football season, even if there’s snow on the ground, no matter what kind of weather the groundhog predicts.
Normally, early-to-mid February is when players start trickling in to their respective training facilities across Florida and Arizona ahead of the annual Spring Training preseason of practices, scrimmages, and exhibition games. By late February into March, Spring Training is in full swing, and with March comes the undying optimism of every team’s fans, wondering if it’s their year.
March is normally the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. March 2020 didn’t get that memo, of course. We’re still awaiting the “like a lamb” portion of last March, and we’ve had plenty more “lion” since.
With COVID-19 still raging, the league and the union have had to agree to some ad hoc health and safety protocols for the second straight season, as they try to navigate the pandemic across a full 162-game season this time. Like last year, they will likely find a way to push through to the end, and hopefully, they won’t have any more reckless mishaps as they did in October.
Last Sunday, as fans were excitedly anticipating the looming dawn of spring, the baseball community was stunned to hear the news of the unexpected sudden passing of longtime baseball reporter Pedro Gomez at the age of 58.
Gomez, who covered baseball since before I was born, was probably best known by fans for his coverage of Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants as Bonds chased Hank Aaron’s legendary home run record in the mid-2000s.
Pedro Gomez was an incredibly well-regarded journalist and was seemingly universally held in the highest esteem by everyone he had ever come across in the game of baseball, from colleagues to journalists at other outlets, to players, coaches, other baseball subjects he covered, and to baseball fans.
“Pedro was far more than a media personality,” the Gomez family said in a statement on Sunday evening. “He was a dad, loving husband, loyal friend, coach, and mentor. He was our everything and his kids’ biggest believer.”
His oldest son, Rio, is a left-handed pitcher in the Boston Red Sox minor league system, and Pedro’s colleagues always remarked about he would gush about his sons any chance he could, a proud family man through and through.
Born to Cuban refugees in Miami, Gomez was able to return to Cuba in his work capacities as a journalist, none more memorably than in 2016, when he covered a uniquely rare exhibition game between Major League Baseball teams in Havana, Cuba, during the height of modern U.S./Cuban diplomacy. In an emotional interview with Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter that spring, Gomez talked about fulfilling his father and brother’s wishes to have their ashes spread in Cuba, in a homeland they had not able to step foot in again.
Countless tributes have been pouring in over the last few days from across the media landscape and the baseball community from the many people that were positively affected by the time they were able to spend with Gomez.
Remembering ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez | ESPN
Michele Steele
He was our colleague. He was our friend. A tribute to Pedro Gomez that aired on SportsCenter last night, from our own @ShelleyESPN https://t.co/fvjIuuhhO5
Colleagues, protégés, MLB players express condolences for ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez
The collection of tributes to Gomez in the above links are a testament to how willing he was to lend a helping hand and an ear to an entire generation of journalists who came after him, especially as a trailblazing bilingual reporter. Fans always enjoyed his work (myself included) and he seemed to be a close friend to so many in an industry that is often very cutthroat and competitive. He stood up for many who were trying to find their voices, and he knew the whole baseball community would benefit from a rising tide lifting all boats.
In Other Words
Those who knew Pedro Gomez knew him as a man of decency, and we could all use more decency in our lives. I think that’s an underappreciated quality.
Decent” is often thought of as just a synonym for “okay,” but it means much more. I’m talking about the first entry for decent in the dictionary, defined as an adjective that means “marked by moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill.”
As a proud member of the baseball community, as well as a longtime fan of the work of Pedro Gomez, it makes me smile to know that the decency that he always displayed on TV seems to have been authentic to who he was. Baseball is better for having had people like Pedro Gomez involved in it, and I hope that all of the people he influenced can continue to bring that generous spirit to a sport that finds itself at a trepidatious crossroads at this moment in time. Baseball is in need of some tender, loving, care and I sincerely hope that the camaraderie of the community at large can leave more of a lasting impact on the sport than nakedly commercial interests that tend to push fans away.
That is a story for another day. There are so many decent people in the baseball community, and that is what I want to pay homage to today. The many problems that are dragging the sport into irrelevancy are a rabbit hole that deserves its own critical analysis. I’m not going to cram it into this issue.
Moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill. Human decency. Being nice to others because it feels good to lend a helping hand with no strings attached. I’ve been fortunate to know a lot of decent people of moral integrity in my life, and I’m grateful every day for their kindness. It makes me better every day. It motivates me to pass that decency along in every big (and small) way I can.
I don’t think it’s something that ever goes out of style. In fact, I would say that simple kindness, goodwill, integrity, decency, generosity, altruism? If you could invest in them, I sure would. They go a long way, in this day and age. So I say be a mensch and perform some small mitzvahs here and there when you can. Random acts of kindness and decency are gifts that truly keep on giving.
We may be living in some cruel, unforgiving times right now, but we have the agency to carry ourselves any way we choose. We can control how we treat others (and ourselves, too, for that matter). Be decent because it feels good to spread smiles. Even in these tough times. Especially in these tough times.
Parting Thoughts
Thank you to everyone who sent good vibes last week to my parents as they made the 1200+ mile journey from New York to Florida. I’m happy to report that, after a one-day delay due to weather, they hit the road last Thursday, had an overnight hotel stay, and arrived safely at their destination on Friday.
They made such good time on their drive down I-95 that they actually beat the moving trucks by a matter of days. They will spend some time this week with my grandparents, who live only a mile or so away from their new home.
I can’t wait till my fiancée and I are fully vaccinated so we can spend a few weeks down there and spend time with all of them. The virus numbers in Florida look absolutely horrific right now, and tens of thousands of maskless football fans celebrating their championship in large crowds in the street are going to create a tragic surge in the coming weeks. I’ve never liked the Florida heat and humidity, which is why I usually visit each winter. It’s been very odd to have had January come and go without seeing my grandparents.
My mom’s side of the family is an expansive family tree. We usually spend a weekend each June at a family reunion that sometimes rolls 80-90 people deep. More and more of my mom’s cousins live in Florida now instead of New York and I’m sure someday I’ll end up down there, too. But not today. I still say that Austin, TX would be a much better and more fun place to retire.
I’m thrilled for my parents though. They were a little nervous about traveling such a distance with the two cats and the 85-lb family dog, but apparently, they were on their best behavior and have taken to the new digs quite well. That’s retirement for you. Just watch out for those unexpected rainstorms!
Meanwhile, we’ve got more snowfall here, though it’s not as bad as last week. It would be nothing short of beautiful if I didn’t have a car to dig out again. I’ll grab my ice scraper/snow brush now and schedule this issue for publishing.
Till next time,
-Jon
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press - Issue #42: Accumulation
The Good Press - Issue #41: Be The Light
The Good Press - Issue #40: The Big Bet | Revue
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