When I was around 11-years old, I used to help out Pete Pellegrino (who lived around the corner) with his afternoon paper route. Pete was about three or four years older than me. I started out by helping him lug the papers on days where it was a heavy edition. Eventually, Pete would let me do the route by myself on days when he had something else to do. In total, it was around 100 houses on the route. Pete would pay me when I did the route – albeit not that much. The real draw for me was his promise that the route would be mine once he was ready to quit. And, pretty soon, that day came.
When Pete shared the news, I was pumped.
But, the week that Pete told me that he was quitting, John “Pinky” Newman came looking for me as well. Newman (who lived about a half-mile from me) was, like Pete, a few years older than me. They called him “Pinky” because his complexion was always, well, kind of pink. From what I was told, he didn’t like the nickname – so, it was something that you never called him, to his face, unless you were bigger than he was (and I was not). Newman also had a rep for roughing up the younger kids, like me – so, I was not thrilled when I heard he was looking for me.
When Newman finally got me, he told me that he was taking Pete’s route – that he had it all worked out with the paper already (as he was on a waiting list). I was upset and I told him that Pete promised me, etc. I’m not sure what else I said to him – it probably didn’t matter as he was mostly laughing me off.
Still, I was determined to show up the next week and start doing my route.
That next week, both Newman and I showed up at the paper drop. When the distributor drove up, he pulled me aside. He said that I was too young to have a paper route – and it didn’t matter that I used to help Pete and that he promised it to me. The distributor said that he was giving the route to Newman. While he was nice in his breaking the news, I was heartbroken, pissed, you name it.
When the distributor was done talking, I just walked away. I had to pass Newman who was now loading “his” papers into a shopping cart. (All the paperboys would steal a cart from the supermarket and use it to deliver their papers.) Just as I passed “Pinky,” he said to me: “I have to give you credit. I was sure that you were going to cry like a baby. But, you took it like a man.”
Don’t get me wrong, at that time, I was still heartbroken, pissed, etc. But, after Newman said that to me, I, at least, also felt proud over the fact that I didn’t back down and that I had earned the respect, even if it was just for that moment, of someone who usually treated people like me (meaning a little kid) with great disdain.
Moving to the Yankees…If Carl Pavano pitches well on Opening Day, great, good for him. And, I’m sure many will love him for it. But, if things don’t go Pavano’s way on Monday, he can still gain some respect (like I did back-in-the-day with Newman) of the fans, his teammates, and the media, by not backing down (during the tough moments as they arise) and by taking whatever happens in the end “like a man.”
I often say, in baseball, it’s all about the results and not the methods. But, in this one situation, meaning the case of Carl Pavano’s first start of 2007, it’s actually more about the method rather than the results – at least to this Yankees fan.
Leave it to Carl Pavano to make me start thinking backwards.