March 2013

Sandy Hook tragedy to be remembered Opening Day

The Yankees and the Red Sox, legendary rivals, will stand together Opening Day in dedicating the April 1 game at Yankee Stadium to victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, their families and the greater community of Newtown, Conn.

Pregame ceremonies will feature joint honor guards of Newtown police and firefighters, along with a moment of silence, during which a list of the Sandy Hook victims’ names will be recognized on the center-field video board.

Yankees and Red Sox players will wear a special ribbon on their uniforms for Opening Day to honor those lost and those affected by the tragedy. This ribbon will also be prominently painted on the field in front of both dugouts.

To show Major League Baseball’s solidarity in remembering the victims, their families and the greater community of Newtown, commissioner Bud Selig has asked the 28 other teams to follow suit in wearing the ribbon during their respective Opening Day games.

The Yankees have also invited approximately 3,000 children, families and members of Newtown to celebrate summer recess Sunday, July 7, by attending the Yankees’ 1:05 p.m. game that day against the Orioles. The Yankees have proclaimed the date “Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium” at a time of year after the school calendar is complete that allows for the greatest number of children and families to be able to attend.

“On Opening Day, we will reflect upon more important things and play the game to honor the community of Newtown,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Since the day of the tragedy, our hearts and thoughts have been with those who were affected. We hope that bringing the families of Newtown together at Yankee Stadium later in the summer will give the community an opportunity to create new memories and aid in the difficult process of moving forward.”

Added Red Sox principal owner John Henry, “Months have passed, yet we are still trying to come to grips with this incomprehensible tragedy. “As our teams look to face each other on Opening Day, we will stand united in support of the families affected as we remember and honor those who were lost.”

“The Yankees organization has supported our community in several ways since the tragic events of December 14,” said Pat Llodra, First Selectman, Town of Newtown. “Their generosity and compassion during this difficult time means a lot to all of us. We also would like to thank Commissioner Selig, the Red Sox and Major League Baseball for this meaningful tribute to our community.”

Cano’s MVP play in WBC could be catalyst for Yanks

Robinson Cano certainly made a big comeback in the 2013 World Baseball Classic from his disappointing 2012 postseason for the Yankees. The All-Star second baseman earned Most Valuable Player honors for his pivotal role in the Dominican Republic’s capturing the event.

“Well, this is something that you never are going to get done by yourself, so I want to thank the guys, my teammates, the manager, also the Dominican team for giving me that opportunity to be here with all these guys, all this great talent,” Cano said. “Without my teammates, I would have never won an MVP, so I would say it’s not only me, it’s about the whole team.”

Such an attitude is what the Yankees have always seen in Cano, a team-first guy. It was also a major accomplishment for another member of the Yankees family, bench coach Tony Pena, who served as the manager of his home country’s entry in the WBC, an event that has yet to connect as strongly with fans in the United States as fervently as with those in places beyond our borders.

“Now, Robinson Cano is starting to see himself like a leader,” Pena said. “He’s starting to see himself like giving direction to all the players and talking to the young players.”

Watching the DR beat Puerto Rico for the WBC title was akin to a World Cup soccer match, and throughout the tournament Cano was something to watch. He led all tournament players in hits with a record total of 15 while batting .469 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 RBI and 6 runs in 32 at-bats. Robinson became the first position player to be named MVP. Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was the MVP of the first two WBC events.

Cano’s performance soothed some of the bitter taste he felt after last year’s two playoff rounds in which he was a combined 3-for-40 (.075) with 2 doubles and 4 RBI. He went into a slump at the absolutely wrong time of the year. It is hoped his WBC play will be a catalyst for Cano to get the Yankees off to a hot start to the 2013 season that is right around the corner.

GM ends up on DL

On second thought, it would have been better for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman if he had limited his sky dives Monday to one. The daredevil executive has made an annual Christmas event of his shimmying down the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn. Monday in Miami, he took part in a parachute jump with the U.S. Army Golden Knights at the Homestead Air Reserve Base to help raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Cash ended up getting wounded himself. The first jump went smoothly, so much so that he went up a second time. He landed poorly, however, and suffered a broken right fibula and a dislocated right ankle. He was scheduled for surgery to be performed by Dr. Dominic Carreira at Broward Health Medical Center.

“I’m in great spirits, and it was an awesome experience,” Cashman said. “The Golden Knights are first class. While I certainly didn’t intend to raise awareness in exactly this fashion, I’m extremely happy that the Wounded Warrior Project is getting the well-deserved additional attention.”

Granderson to launch kids’ fitness campaign

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is recovering from a fractured forearm injury, and his Grand Kids Foundation, in partnership with New Balance, will launch a six-week Grand Kids Challenge Tuesday to promote physical fitness and education at Academy Prep in Tampa, Fla.

Granderson plans to participate in classroom lessons in which students will document their daily physical fitness activities and in afternoon recess with students from the sidelines. The Grand Kids Challenge will highlight the importance of physical activity at the Academy Prep Centers of Education, encouraging students to document their daily fitness minutes in a Grand Kids Journal in which student teams – divided by grades five through eight – will compete to win the Grand Kids Challenge. Granderson will return to Academy Prep at the conclusion of the program next month to award students with New Balance prizes.

“Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese,” Granderson said. “My foundation focuses on all facets of education – including physical education –‐ and the importance of health and wellness. Thanks to our partners at New Balance, we’re excited to launch the Grand Kids Challenge in partnership with Academy Prep to help motivate students to stay active.”

“Academy Prep students will not only prosper from the leadership and example set by Mr. Granderson but also the Grand Kids Challenge will empower them to make physical fitness a daily lifestyle choice,” program director Kristy Craig said. “Healthy bodies grow creative spirits and persevering hearts – the type of students we cultivate here at Academy Prep.”

“As a company, New Balance is dedicated to the cause of preventing childhood obesity, so we are thrilled to support Curtis and his Grand Kids Challenge at Academy Prep,” New Balance general manager Mark Cavanaugh said. “We look forwarding to supporting Curtis’ efforts on and off the field in 2013.”

Established in 2007, the Grand Kids Foundation focuses on improving the educational experience for youth nationwide. In 2009, Curtis released a children’s book, All You Can Be, which shares personal stories from his youth encouraging children to chase after their dreams. Proceeds from the book benefit the Grand Kids Foundation. The foundation has zero operating costs. Every penny donated to the foundation goes back into the education of the nation’s youth. Granderson also serves as a National Ambassador of the White House’s anti-obesity campaign, “Let’s Move!”