Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A-Rod, Pettitte and Joba Spend A Day In The Park For A Good Cause

"Hope Week" activities continued today, with Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and Alex Rodriguez showing their philanthropic side. Today's story is a touching one, and it takes place right in our old stomping grounds - Greenwich Village:
A child with cerebral palsy who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate through conventional speech became an inspiration to his Little League teammates by dressing in uniform, sitting in the dugout with them and giving high-fives as necessary. This season, the team won the league championship. Additionally, his father is the inventor of revolutionary equipment that allows non-verbal individuals to communicate in new ways. Yankees players will meet the child and his best friends for lunch at a local eatery. Afterwards, everyone will go to the local Little League field to meet the child's teammates and other children with cerebral palsy. Yankees players will then give a talk about baseball and sportsmanship before holding a brief baseball skills clinic. The child and his teammates will attend the Yankees game that evening.
A stadium insider correspondent was on hand to capture photos of the special moments (after the jump).

There are some questions to be asked about the shameless self-promotion surrounding "Hope Week." Celebratory logos have been painted on the field at Yankee Stadium and all stadium employees are forced to wear "Hope Week" buttons - even though half of them probably don't know or care what "Hope Week" is. Last night between innings, the couple being honored was interviewed on the video board and had clearly been given talking points by the team, heaping well-deserved praise on the Yankees in a very rehearsed manner. The experience at the stadium stunk of the Yankees turning very generous and genuinely thoughtful activities into a PR stunt. What is the sense of promoting "Hope Week" other than a means of patting themselves on the back? Fans can't donate to "Hope Week" and they aren't invited to join in on the activities.

All of that aside, our Stadium Insider correspondents had a firsthand look at how some of the Yankees star players are dealing with their mandatory participation. From the photos above, you can see that they passed with flying colors. According to those on the scene, A-Rod held the child's hand the entire time, while Pettitte and Joba were all smiles. It is undoubtedly a day that the kids in Greenwich Village Little League will never forget, especially the boy with cerebral palsy.

"Hope Week" seems to be one of the best things the Yankee organization has done for a long time, but they'd be smart to tone down the rhetoric and act like they've been there before. Isn't that the Yankee way?

IMPORTANT ADDITION - Bryan Hoch points out how you can make a difference in his "Hope Week" story.
The Yankees have encouraged those inspired by the HOPE Week stories to look to New York City's NYC Service (www.nyc.gov/service) and President Barack Obama's United We Serve (www.serve.gov), which promote and find outlets for volunteerism.

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