No Question About It

No Question About It

Today was the final airing of the ESPN show Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard. For those who are unaware, HQ is a sports-talk show launched in 2011 featuring former Miami Herald columnist and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard and his father Gonzalez.

The show was rooted in irreverence and was born from a bit Dan would do on his radio show where he would call his father, affectionately known as Papi, surreptitiously record the conversations, and then play them on air. There was never a more honest sports take than the ones that came from Papi, especially when he would talk about the Marlins or the Dolphins.

In the nearly ten years the show was on the air, it was a staple of my daily sports diet. I was sure to set my DVR to record the show, and it always served as comfort food for my soul. Not because of the sports topics. As I said earlier, the show made it a point to never take itself too seriously. What drew me in day after day was the evident joy Dan had in doing that show with his father.

Dan Le Batard and I share similar backgrounds in that we’re both products of parents fleeing communist Cuba and we were both raised in South Florida. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting Dan, but the fact I’ve always been a fan of his writing, I’d listen to his radio show daily, and the geographical kinship of growing up in the 3-0-5 makes it feels like I’ve known him my whole life.

As I started writing in 2004, I found myself trying to model my work after Dan’s. His sentence structures, the way he’d formulate an argument, his professional approach, even when injected with personal vulnerability; they all contributed to my personal writing style. For so many years he’s been my mentor and he doesn’t even know it.

Yet it’s not the technical aspects of his writing I admire most. As his popularity, and subsequently his influence, has increased. Dan has consistently used that leverage to help those around him. With his show, he made room on the marquee for Bomani Jones. He didn’t have to share the spotlight of his television series, but doing so undoubtedly improved the product and kept quality talent at the network (Jones was being courted by Fox at the time). In his contracts with ESPN, Le Batard negotiated creative control over money because not only did he want to do the show his way, he wanted to do it with his people. In fact, part of the reason Le Batard left ESPN is because they included one of his producers in their most recent round of layoffs, a move that caught Dan by surprise.

To paraphrase Dan, it’s not about reaching the mountaintop. It’s about sharing the view with the people you love.

As I watched his show daily, I’d watch with admiration a man who never made it about “look at me,” but rather always made it about “look at us.” I’d watch a man who made it a point to use his talents and opportunities as a means to constantly thank his parents for the sacrifices they made. I’d watch with vicarious envy as he got to share those special moments on-air with his dad, me having lost my father in 2004. As he gave his tear-filled goodbye on his final show, I watched, misty-eyed myself, with heartfelt appreciation at the impact Dan has made in my life.

I look forward to what the future has in store for him, and I know the next decade of his career will be equally entertaining, informative, and inspiring.

Thank you, Dan.

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day

On this Veteran’s Day, I am reaching into the past and sharing a blog post from nine years ago. My sentiments remain the same, and it’s my prayer God continues to protect our women and men in uniform and that we take a moment whenever we can to thank them for their service.


I’ve been putting off writing this blog. The Random Writers prompt for this week is, “Using a military theme (in honor of Veterans Day), what is one change you wish to see in the world?”

*blink*

You know that feeling when your teacher tells you to turn in your assignment and you thought you had an extra day but you really didn’t, and you realize at that moment you don’t have anything to turn in? Or when you’re in a meeting at work and someone asks you for a status on your deliverable and you realize you haven’t done jack with that deliverable since it was assigned to you?

That’s me right now. I’ve got nothing.

Let me sprinkle my requisite caveats on that last statement. I have the utmost respect for the women and men in uniform who protect and defend our great country. I have a heart full of gratitude and admiration for all the brave soldiers who have served our nation, especially those who sacrificed during times of conflict. I look at them all knowing I cannot do what they do.

Yet I sit here not having a clue as to how to approach this week’s topic. I think it’s a matter of genuinely not knowing the environment about which I am supposed to write. My knowledge about our military is peripheral at best, limited to the depictions I’ve seen in movies and television. Anything I express would be a mostly uninformed opinion, and I fear it would be more of a disservice to our troops than anything else.

That being said, if I had one wish for change in our military, it would be to use our troops as defenders of the innocent. From genocide in Africa to repression in Asia, there are voices that are crying out for freedom and justice around the world; voices that are silenced by the tyranny of evil. If it were up to me, I’d use the might of the greatest military on the planet to protect the men, women, and children fighting for their own personal freedoms, and to ensure their voices are heard. We’ve seen flavors of this in the past, most recently with our country’s involvement in Egypt.

Still, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if that would be a prudent thing to wish for. I keep thinking about this scene from the HBO mini-series ‘Generation Kill’ (like I said, movies and television).  A battalion of Marines encounters a throng of refugees along a road in Iraq. The officer in command, Lt. Nate Fick, assesses the situation and relays the following information to his Sergeant. “Look. We don’t know who anyone is. There could be a suicide bomber among them, so stay frosty. Keep your vehicles at a walking pace, and – this is important – keep your distance from these people.”

The scene continues with various soldiers succumbing to human instinct and deciding to allow the elderly and the children to ride on their vehicles as opposed to just watching them trudge along. A grunt walks by clutching a newborn in his hands. The Gunnery Sergeant asks him if he’s okay. With eyes that appear to be welling up with emotion, he responds, “Yeah, Gunny, I’m good. We’re helping people.”

The grunt walks by and Lt. Fick looks disapprovingly at his Gunnery Sergeant and says, “This humanitarian stuff. We get lost in it, we’re not combat effective.”

And there lies the rub. Would I wish for the soldiers of our country, the defenders of our freedom, to lessen their effectiveness in name of humanitarian efforts? It’s a dilemma for which I am not sure I have an answer. It’s a question that can easily be argued on both sides. We, as a nation, should do what we can to prevent the tyranny of evil from spreading. Yet it is this tyranny that is unpredictable, and I know I sleep better at night with the knowledge our troops are eternally viligant for and prepared to fight against such tyranny.

So, instead, I wish for the continued recognition of the women and men in our military. I wish that every time we see a soldier in uniform, we take the time to thank them for their service and dedication. I wish that even though we operate with the knowledge our military system is far from perfect, our troops feel a level of compensation in the honor we bestow upon them.

At the very least, that’s something I know I do correctly for them.

This post was originally published November 7, 2011 via Random Writers.

Overwhelmed

I’ve stated before how fortunate I am to be surrounded by the community of individuals I know through church, music, and social media. This also includes my neighbors, family, and former coworkers.

I want to take a moment to thank them all as I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support following my blog about my car accident. From calls to texts to DM’s and emails; the collective group hug has helped me heal and rest with a smile on my face. Just continued blessings all around.

Thank you all so much for the support. I am happy to say I am feeling much better.