Results tagged ‘ Rob Thompson ’

Yankees ‘fight’ it out for a thrilling victory

Mark Teixeira, who will call it a career at the end of the regular season and will be honored by the Yankees on the final homestand, had a retirement gift for the club before it showers him with presents. It came with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning Monday night, and did the Yankees ever need it.

Tex’s 14th homer of the season and career No. 408 passing Duke Snider on the all-time list tied the score and gave the Yankees a chance to salvage something from a disastrous trip. His grateful teammates responded with a rally that produced four more runs, nearly all of which proved necessary when Dellin Betances had another meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Tommy Layne, who has done a solid job as a situational left-handed reliever, was magnificent in bailing out Betances and nailing down a 7-5 victory.

It was an incredible finish to a trip in which the Yankees lost eight of 11 games and have come painfully close to falling out of contention for a playoff berth. The Yankees are on life support as far as postseason play is concerned. But they sure showed a lot of fight.

With Luis Severino letting himself get baited into a retaliation battle with Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, the Yankees ended up having to use seven other pitchers to get through the last game of a very bumpy trip. Happ took two pitches to hit Chase Headley in the second, the inning after Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson had been struck by a pitch from Severino. Plate umpire Todd Tichenor issued a warning after benches had emptied with a lot of shoving but not much else.

Severino was tossed after he hit Justin Smoak to start the Toronto second. That cost the Yankees their starter, who was ejected. Once again, benches emptied into the usual scrum. When the smoke cleared, not only was Severino tossed but also manager Joe Girardi, bench coach Rob Thompson and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The Yankees were furious that Happ should have been warned after the first close pitch to Headley and thrown out after he hit him. Maybe so, but that does not excuse Severino, who did not do a smart thing by getting ejected from a must-win game for the Yankees in the second inning.

The Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead into the eighth, and thinks looked bleak for the Yankees. Brett Gardner doubled with one out in the eighth and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury to make it a one-run game. With overworked Jose Osuna unavailable, Jays manager John Gibbons gave the save situation to Jason Grilli, who got a quick out but was victimized by Teixeira. Didi Gregorius kept the inning going with a single, and Aaron Hicks thrust the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. They added two insurance runs that proved needed on a double by Donovan Solano, a walk to Gardner, a single by Ellsbury and a sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez.

Betances, who had a miserable trip, walked the leadoff batter for his third straight inning and made an error on a bunt, then walked another batter to load the bases with none out. Layne was called on to face Toronto’s dangerous right-handed hitters. He walked in one run and gave up another on a single but made a sensational fielding play to get a key out at the plate and ended the game by getting Troy Tulowitzki on a fly ball.

The victory kept the Yanks’ frail playoff hopes alive. They are still five games out of the second wild card slot with six games remaining, but the last three are against the Orioles, who were not scheduled Monday.

HOPE Week: Students pack kits for disadvantaged

At the start of the 2014-15 academic year, Robert Gardella, principal of the Southern Boulevard School in Chatham Township, N.J., embraced that core concept and adapted the HOPE Week initiative for his school. Principal Gardella, along with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, wanted to reorganize the school’s service projects by taking inspiration from the Yankees’ HOPE Week.

Throughout the week of Nov. 17-21, 2014, kindergartners created weekend snack kits for low-income children who participate in the free lunch program. First-graders made care packages with essentials like diapers, baby wipes and other toiletries for infants from disadvantaged families in the local community.

Second-graders were tasked with making no-sew fleece blankets for Project Linus, an organization that provides blankets for children in need, whether it’s from illness, homelessness or abuse. Third-graders made “Holiday Hope Chests,” which consisted of decorated shoe boxes filled with small toys and art supplies which were distributed to children in local shelters during the holiday season.

Dozens of Southern Boulevard School students were at Yankee Stadium Wednesday to meet and spend time with outfielder Carlos Beltran, shortstop Didi Gregorius, pitcher Luis Severino and bench coach Rob Thompson, who thanked them for their service to the community.

Principal Gardella, accompanied by students Claire O’Rourke and Bennett Polomeni, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Yankees’ game against the Twins. After the game, the students and the Yankees players were to enjoy an ice cream party in the press conference room at the Stadium.

The school also encouraged students to apply the HOPE Week sentiment at home by seeking out items that could be donated to different causes. They created “Caring Corners” in the school, where students could bring in items to donate. One corner benefitted Jersey Coats, which assists families with coats during the cold winter months. Students also collected pennies for the Pennies of Peace program, which provides school supplies for children in impoverished communities overseas. The participation in this program is designed to broaden students’ horizons by teaching them about the impact they can make on a global scale.

By getting everyone involved—from the office staff, to the teachers, to the students and their families — the Southern Boulevard School used inspiration from the Yankees to show their students the internal rewards that come from making a difference in the lives of others.

Rally-killing out at the plate sinks Yankees

The worst rule change in baseball went against the Yankees in the fifth inning Monday night and cost them the chance to tie the game against the Rays. At issue was blocking the plate, which Tampa Bay catcher Ryan Hanigan clearly appeared to do as Stephen Drew attempted to score on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Yet after a video review, plate umpire Vic Carapazza upheld his original call. The new rule has become so nebulous it is difficult to interpret. The catcher is now supposed to give a runner trying to score a lane, but he also has to try to catch the ball, which in this case was directly on target.

Major League Baseball issued a memorandum Tuesday clarifying plays in which the ball clearly beats the runner to the plate, which in truth was the case against Drew. Under previous rules, Drew would have no recoil but to collide with Hanigan and try to pry the ball loose.

That is not allowed any more, although Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes a runner in that situation has no alternative. “He had no place to go,” Girardi said of Drew. “I’m not sure whether to instruct my runners to knock the catcher over. I know the sprit of the rule, but maybe we should just go back to normal and suspend a player if someone gets hurt.”

I have seen enough of these plays at the plate this year to equate this rule with that in basketball in the 1970s when the dunk was outlawed in college and high school. Really dumb. Take a fan-pleasing aspect of the game and throw it out.

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the slide home on a close call. At least it used to be before the powers that be decided to turn it into a dance routine. Is this ball or ballet? The inning was still alive, but Derek Jeter hit a bullet to second baseman Ben Zobrist, who flipped to second to double-up Chris Young.

The play at the plate obscured the fact that it was a rare bad send by third base coach Rob Thompson. Another rule of thumb is not to make the first out at the plate. Had Thompson held Drew at third base, the Yankees would have a run in and the bases loaded with none out and the middle of the order coming up.

The Yankees were marching back from a 4-0 deficit against Chris Archer, who is always been tough against them (5-0 career mark). The righthander was perfect for three innings before Ellsbury homered leading off the fourth. Archer began the next inning by hitting Chase Headley with a pitch and then proceeded to give up four straight singles, including a two-run knock by Young, the Mets’ free-agent bust, following Drew’s RBI hit. Two guys who have had miserable years accounted for the Yankees’ three runs that inning.

Young was playing left field because regular Brett Gardner is still bothered by an abdominal strain. Could he have aggravated it last week when he had that temper tantrum at the plate that got him booted from the game? Just asking. Also out with continuing hamstring soreness was Martin Prado, which is why Drew was in the starting lineup at second base.

Hiroki Kuroda, who had won his three previous decisions, was not sharp and failed to get through the fourth inning. James Loney hit a second-deck home run off Kuroda in the second inning and drove in one of the two Tampa Bay runs in the third with a single. Kuroda was replaced after yielding an RBI single to Zobrist in the fourth.

Seven Yankees relievers combined to shut the Rays down on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts for 5 2/3 innings, but the Yankees had only one hit after the fifth and could not prevent a 4-3 loss that further damaged their already perilous situation in the standings.

“It leaves us in a big hole,” Girardi said. “Basically, we have to win every day.”

Pretty tall order.

Running until you get tagged out

It looked for a while there as if the Yankees may have needed some base running drills. For the second straight game, they ran themselves out of a rally with the trail runner not paying attention to the third base coach, Rob Thompson.

In the sixth inning Saturday with the score 1-1, Brian McCann, who had doubled with one out, was still at second base with two out. Yangervis Solarte singled sharply to right field and rounded first base heading to second in hopes of having the Twins cut the ball off to go after him while McCann scored.

The problem was that Thompson put up the red light on McCann, a slow runner, which meant that Solarte was a dead duck at second base. Too bad for Solarte, who had three hits and got his batting average back over .300. Every times it seems that the eight-year minor league veteran is finding sea level after a torrid start, he gets hot again.

The same thing happened Friday night with of all people in the center of it Derek Jeter. He singled to right field with two out and made the same maneuver while Brett Gardner was being held at third base by Thompson. Gardner tried to bail out Jeter by coming down the line to draw a throw, but he got caught in a rundown and tagged out. Jeter got to third on the play but died there as Jacoby Ellsbury ended the inning with an infield fly ball.

“It’s my job in my situation, if you think there’s a play at the plate, you’ve got to go and try to go to second base to trade an out for a run,” Jeter said after the game. “But I’ve got to make sure he’s going. It’s not my job to think what’s going to happen. I have to know. Good play by them, but I assumed he was going. I shouldn’t assume.”

As it turned out, base running played a pivotal part in the Yankees regaining the lead over the Twins in the eighth inning Saturday. Ellsbury, who singled to center with one out, stole second and continued to third on an errant throw by catcher Josmil Pinto. After Brian Roberts walked, McCann smoked another double on a liner past Joe Mauer at first base and down the right field line to give the Yanks and Masahiro Tanaka a 2-1 lead.

Losing series in Toronto unexpected

Who would have thought the Yankees would stall in Toronto? They came to Rogers Centre having won 12 of 13 games against the Blue Jays this year but dropped two of three after having done the same in the previous stop at St. Petersburg, Fla. As the calendar days wear down, the Yankees can ill afford losing series.

The 7-2 loss Wednesday night pushed the Yankees 5 ½ games behind in the wild-card chase, which is their only realistic shot at a piece of the postseason since they are 8 ½ games out of first place in the American League East. This loss was especially painful considering the pitching matchup.

The Yankees had Hiroki Kuroda, who has emerged as their ace this season, going against Todd Redmond, a 28-year-old journeyman righthander who has spent nine years in the minor leagues. You’d have bet the ranch on Kuroda – and you would have lost.

It is fair to say now after three subpar starts that Kuroda has hit a wall. The righthander was down 7-0 by the third inning, although two of the runs were unearned due to a bizarre play by the normally reliable Chris Stewart behind the plate. After a passed ball that went back to the screen, Stewart threw wildly to first base for an error that allowed two runners to score.

Kuroda was already in trouble by then. A terrific, diving play by shortstop Derek Jeter kept the first inning from being truly disastrous as if four runs were not enough. Before Stew’s blunder, Kuroda gave up hard-hit doubles to Ryan Goins and Brett Lawrie, walked one batter and hit another.

A four-run, deficit with eight innings to go is not the uphill climb that would have faced the Yankees before their lineup became fortified by the returns of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez and the additions of Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds. Redmond (2-2) gave up run-scoring hits to A-Rod and Reynolds but shut down most of the rest of the order for 5 2/3 innings. Three relievers stopped the Yankees on two hits over the next 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Yankees were poised for a big inning in the fourth but a questionable send of A-Rod by third base coach Rob Thompson choked the rally. Rodriguez after two hip surgeries does not run the way he once did and was thrown out at the plate.

Reynolds, the nouveau second baseman, had three of the Yankees’ five hits. He made his first start at the position since he was in the minors eight years ago and did a respectable job. If nothing else, manager Joe Girardi found out he can use Reynolds at that position in the future if an emergency calls for it. Eduardo Nunez was in the original lineup but was a late scratch due to soreness in his right knee that he injured Tuesday night. Robinson Cano, who was hit in the left hand by a pitch Tuesday night, is expected back in the lineup Friday night when the Yankees open a weekend series against the Orioles.

As for Kuroda, he made it through five innings, but the results were not pleasant – nine hits, seven runs (five earned), one walk, four strikeouts, one home run (by Edwin Encarnacion, his 34th, an absolute bomb).

It was the third straight shaky start for Kuroda, whose ERA over that stretch has gone from 2.33 to 2.89. In his past three starts, Kuroda is 1-2 with an 8.10 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. Thursday’s open date allows Girardi to give his starting pitchers an extra day of rest in the rotation. Kuroda certainly seems in need of it.

1st-inning fade costs Yanks and CC

It really came down to the first inning. The Yankees had a potential big inning going against Royals righthander James Shields, a pitcher they repeatedly roughed up over the years in his time with the Rays.

A bunt single by Brett Gardner followed by single by Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead before an out was made. After Travis Hafner struck out for the first of three times in the game, Zoilo Almonte singled to right field to load the bases. Third base coach Rob Thompson was smart to hold up Ichiro at third because right fielder David Lough got to the ball quickly.

With two outs, it is a different story for the third base coach. It is hard to get successive, two-out hits. But with one out, the assumption is that someone down the line can keep the rally going. It did not happen as Lyle Overbay struck out and Eduardo Nunez flied out to center.

“You think you’re going to get more than one run in that situation,” manager Joe Girardi said.

That one run was all CC Sabathia had to work with all game. He held the lead through the fifth working on a one-hit shutout. Then the Royals stung him with something the Yankees have sorely lacked recently – extra-base hits. Leadoff home runs by Lough in the sixth and Billy Butler in the seventh and back-to-back, one-out doubles by Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer in the eighth turned the game around in Kansas City’s favor, 3-1. Sabathia’s 37th career complete game was a loss, the ninth such result of his career and the first since July 21, 2011 at Tampa Bay.

“It doesn’t matter how many runs you give up; a loss is a loss,” Sabathia said. “It’s frustrating. We’ve lost a lot of guys [to injury], but the guys in here have done a great job to keep us in this thing until the others come back.”

Those extra-base hits for the Royals really stuck out on a night when the Yankees hit nothing but singles again, six of them in all with four coming in the first inning. The Yanks scored one run for the third consecutive game, and 34 of their past 37 hits have been singles.

They had let Shields off the hook, and he got into a groove after that. Double plays came to his aid in the second and third innings before he retired the Yankees in order through the seventh as he registered 14 consecutive outs. Shields improved his career record against the Yankees to 8-15 with a 4.34 ERA and 3-9 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 starts at Yankee Stadium. He had not won in the Bronx since May 20, 2010.

Girardi continued to express support for a group that has been offensively challenged for quite some time.

“I never forget how hard it is to play this game,” he said. “There is no lack of effort. I said from the beginning of the season that we are going to have to win close games. Asking about trading for players is asking me to put down the guys in that room. I will never do that. We have to play the brand of ball we are capable of playing. I feel like these guys can get the job done. I’ll always believe in them.”

HOPE Week: Andy & Andy

Jill and Marc Fass came to Yankee Stadium Wednesday with their 5-year-old son, Andy, to watch another Andy pitch. Andy Pettitte first met Andy Fass at a Double A game while the lefthander was pitching for the Trenton Thunder to prepare for a return to the Yankees.

When the Fasses entered Suite 4 at the Stadium, they were greeted by pitchers CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Clay Rapada as part of the HOPE Week celebration that was just the beginning of a fruitful afternoon for the family from Hamilton, N.J.

After Wednesday’s Yankees-Indians game, those three pitchers, shortstop Derek Jeter, catchers Russell Martin and Chris Stewart and coaches Rob Thompson and Mick Kelleher joined Andy Fass for a private tee-ball lesson and other games with kids who also have Andy’s condition of albinism at the MLB Fan Cave in Chelsea.

A chance encounter gave Andy Fass a new goal and hope. As someone who has a condition called oculocutaneous albinism, which affects approximately 40,000 people around the world, Andy is legally blind and without pigment in his skin, forcing him to avoid long exposure to the sun. Though Andy has always gravitated to people and many individual activities, he was told baseball would never be an option due to the contact and the chance of injury due to moving objects.

All that changed, however, April 25, 2012, when Pettitte, who was making a start at Trenton, gave little Andy the baseball he was using to warm up. Encouraged by the gesture, little Andy – who was attending his first-ever professional baseball game – was immediately inspired to sign up for tee-ball and take on the challenge.

“Andy is legally blind, but he can make out some shapes and forms,” Jill Fass said. “He will be playing tee-ball with an orange ball to see it better. We didn’t find out about this until we got to the parking lot. What the players are doing is really fantastic.”

Starting pitchers normally do not communicate with anyone before the game the day they start, but Pettitte chatted briefly with young Andy next to the dugout before his new fan threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

“Andy Pettitte is my favorite player because he is the best player in the world,” Andy said.

Clutch hit a long-time coming

The Yankees waited all night Monday for a clutch hit and finally got it in the 12th inning from Raul Ibanez, the club RBI leader through the first five games with six. He can thank Orioles reliever Pedro Strop for speeding up his bat to produce the game-winning hit in the Yankees’ 5-4 victory.

How many times do you see it? A flame thrower simply throws the ball past a hitter, then tries to get cagey and allows the batter to hit a softer delivery. The Orioles challenged Ibanez, who pinch hit for Andruw Jones in the 11th and remained in the game as the designated hitter, by walking Curtis Granderson with Robinson Cano, who led off with a double, on third base and two out.

Ibanez couldn’t catch up to Strop’s gas and swung through two 95-mph fastballs. Then Strop got cagey and tossed up an 84-mph slider. You could almost hear Ibanez lips smack as he crushed the pitch for a ground-rule double to break the tie that had existed since the sixth inning. It was only the Yankees’ second hit in 18 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game.

Hitting in RBI chances has been a problem for the Yankees in the early going. They are batting .189 in 53 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season. Cano had two doubles and a single Monday night but still has not driven in a run this year. Neither has Alex Rodriguez, who was 0-for-5 and stranded four of the Yankees’ 12 runners left on base.

Cano might have gotten his first RBI in the seventh inning when he doubled down the left field line, but a strong throw to the infield by left fielder Endy Chavez and a remarkable relay to the plate by shortstop J.J. Hardy nailed Nick Swisher running from first base at the plate.

It was something of a questionable “send” by third base coach Rob Thompson considering that Swisher had reached base by getting hit in the ankle and that there were none out with Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira due up. Cut Rob some slack, though. With only one RBI combined from A-Rod and Tex in 39 at-bats so far, who could blame him for forcing the Orioles to make a great play, which Hardy did.

Fortunately for the Yankees, the Orioles were even more futile. Baltimore was hitless in eight at-bats in the game and is 2-for-23 (.087) in those situations in the series. Only one of the Orioles’ runs was the result of a hit – a first-inning home run by Hardy – as Baltimore took advantage of two wild pitches by Freddy Garcia and an error by catcher Russell Martin for its other runs.

Mariano Rivera, whose blown save in the season opener set a sour tone in the lost weekend against the Rays, reverted to form with a perfect, 2-strikeout bottom of the 12th for career save No. 604, which gives the Yankees a chance to get to .500 Wednesday night at Camden Yards.

Rewarding off day for A.J.

Had Friday night’s game been rained out, it would have cost Ivan Nova a start. The Yankees have penciled in Nova to start the night portion of Saturday’s split-session doubleheader after Bartolo Colon starts the afternoon game.

Nova is technically on the roster of Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he is expected to be recalled to make the start. Thunderstorms pushed back the starting time of Friday night’s game against the Orioles to 8:50 p.m. Had the game not been played, A.J. Burnett would have been held back to Saturday with Colon, and Nova would have headed back to Pennsylvania. I have a feeling Nova is going to be an important pitcher over the final two months for the Yankees, so I am glad to see him back and starting a game for the big club.

Let me share a story about Burnett that is worth telling. Thursday was an open date on the schedule for the Yankees, a rare off day that players truly covet. This is HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel), the week-long community program involving each player on the roster.

So the players assigned to the block party Thursday on Staten Island for Megan Ajello, 17, who has cerebral palsy and scoliosis yet is a committed social activist, were giving up their off day to make this a special day for her and her neighbors.

Burnett was among the group that went to Staten Island, along with fellow pitchers Boone Logan and David Robertson, infielders Robinson Cano and Eduardo Nunez, outfielder Andruw Jones, coaches Mick Kelleher and Rob Thompson, video coordinator Charlie Wosnowicz and general manager Brian Cashman.

It was quite a scene. The players and coaches mingled with the fans, had pictures taken with them and made generous donations to Megan’s lemonade stand, which was constructed by Yankee Stadium carpenters and presented to her by them and Cashman. The GM was also a good sport in being the first volunteer for the dunking tank. Jones, Logan and Robertson also did time in the water.

As the hours went by, there was no Burnett, however. Players came separately in transportation donated by a local car service. Unfortunately, the driver taking Burnett and his sons to Staten Island from his residence in Scarsdale got lost. A drive that normally might take an hour and a quarter took close to three hours.

Burnett would have had every reason to ask for another car to take him right back home. The event was winding down at that point anyway, although there still was a large crowd. A.J. got right into the swing of things by signing autographs and having his picture taken with fans.

One woman told me she was happy to meet him because she had arrived late and the other players, who were on site for more than two hours, had already gone. She said that A.J. had graciously agreed to sign several items for her grandchildren.

It was an impressive showing by a player who certainly understood the spirit of HOPE Week.

HOPE Week: Lemonade not all that was wet

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was all we wet Thursday. So were pitchers David Robertson and Boone Logan and outfielder Andruw Jones.


They all volunteered to take time in a dunk tank set up on a Staten Island lawn as part of Thursday’s HOPE Week celebration of Megan Ajello, 17, who despite the handicap of cerebral palsy and scoliosis that has resulted in six surgeries, including a spinal fusion, is a committed community activist.

Cashman, along with Yankee Stadium carpenters, surprised Megan at her home with a custom-built lemonade stand for her sixth annual street-side sale that raises money to support the Special Olympics. Megan was further surprised by the appearance of Scooter, the mascot of the Yankees’ Class A Staten Island affiliate.

“She’s familiar with Scooter,” Daniel Ajello, Megan’s father, said. “We go to a lot of Staten Island Yankees games.”

But these were big-league Yankees who showed up at the neighborhood block party. Second baseman Robinson Cano, infielder Eduardo Nunez, pitcher A.J. Burnett, baseline coaches Mick Kelleher and Rob Thompson and advance scout-video coordinator Charlie Wonsowicz were also on hand.

For Charlie Wonz, who now lives in New Jersey, the trip was a homecoming because he grew up in the same Princess Bay neighborhood. Charlie’s mother, Arlene, was also on site. Later, Charlie planned to treat Kelleher and Thompson to dinner at W’s, a popular dining spot in Tottenville owned and operated by his parents.

Since 2006, Megan has hosted a charity lemonade stand outside her home, which has grown from a gathering of neighbors raising a few hundred dollars to a must-attend event for people from as far away as upstate New York, which raised $4,000 last summer. Thursday’s event took in a record $11,000 with the Yankees Foundation adding another $5,000 to the fund for the Special Olympics and $5,000 more to Megan’s school, the Seton Foundation.

Megan has also been active in fighting for handicapped accessibility for a nearby playground and by donating her Sweet 16 Party gifts to the Marine Toys for Tots program.

Cashman was the first to sit in the tank and was a real sport in getting dunked about a dozen times as youngsters in the block party lined up to take their shots. Fortunately, the GM did not have his cell phone in his pocket. With the trade deadline coming up July 31, Cash has to man the phones on an hourly basis.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the monotony and the urgency that we feel, but in reality, what’s more important than this?” Cashman said. “People have real needs that are daily challenges, not necessarily whether we get a trade done or whether we get our next hit or how we match up against an opposing team. This is real-life stuff.”

Megan was also presented with a special cake with a figure of her in a wheelchair at her lemonade stand by TV’s “Cake Boss,” Buddy Valastro, as well as three Sports Illustrated swimsuit models and the New Jersey Nets dancers. The Ajello family will be the Yankees’ guests at Saturday’s day portion of the split-admission doubleheader at Yankee Stadium with Megan driving the ceremonial first pitch to the plate.

Said Linda Ayello, Megan’s mom, “It’s a tragedy that Megan, who has done so much for so many, has to experience so much physical pain. When she fights for something, she goes after it no matter the obstacle, and there’s very little we can do to stop her. But then again, why would we want to? All she ever does is to bring out the best in people.”