Come for the Adenhart story, stay for Gumbel’s closing thoughts

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A reminder about tonight’s HBO “Real Sports” (10 p.m., with many replays) — Mary Carillo does a segment on how the Angels dealt with the April death of pitcher Nick Adenhart, talking to his parents as well as lone accident survivor Jon Wilhite.

“It’s a very tough story indeed,” Carillo said this morning. “We interviewed Nick’s parents and a few of his teammates, Jered Weaver, (agent) Scott Boras … every one of them talked about Nick as though it was still hard to believe he could be gone. Though we didn’t get it into the piece, Boras got very jammed up talking about the kid he’d been watching since high school. He told me about how he had to make a bunch of calls that night, and among them were calls to his kids.
” ‘You called them?’ I asked.
” ‘I called them to make sure they were safe…and to tell them I loved them.’ ”
“We went to the Little League field where Nick first showed his stuff as a kid — the field his father still visits every day, now named after his boy. His mother had not spoken about Nick until she talked to us. Boy, she’s a terrific woman. And her boy Henry, almost 16, who grew up idolizing Nick, is a very fine baseball player in his own right, and hopes to make the bigs as well.
“I happen to have a 22 year old boy myself, so this story got stuck between my ribs from the time I first heard of it.”

At the end of the program, host Bryant Gumbel offers this essay:

“Finally tonight, a few words about the New York Yankees. I will admit upfront to some bias, and I’ll certainly understand if the folks in Anaheim would beg to differ, but having the Yankees in the World Series is clearly in the best interest of Major League Baseball. As the most polarizing team in the game, they’re certain to make their matchup with the Phillies the most compelling fall classic in years.

“Now before you start throwing things at your screen, I would ask that you keep in mind one simple truth…that sports works best when there’s a gold standard…something or someone to be measured against. Like it or not, when Tiger Woods struts, when Bill Belichick cheats, when USC tops the football polls, when the Lakers are running…when the time tested best are winning, people care, no matter the sport. And no team has ever won more than the Yankees.

“With their rich, historic tradition and their obscene, exorbitant payroll, the Yankees represent, to many, all that’s right and wrong with Major League Baseball. They arouse levels of passion nationally that teams in most outposts can’t even fathom. And they remind true sports fans of why the national pastime is still baseball, and not betting on some point spread.

“Yes, Yankees fans are loud, passionate and often obnoxious. So too are these who see red when they see pinstripes. Some are provincial, some are envious, some would even claim to actually hate the Yankees…when, in truth, they probably don’t. For as Celtics great Bill Russell once wisely noted: the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy.”

If only the Yankees were playing the Dodgers ..

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