I had a crazy day recently that
will surely be one of the most memorable of my
life. It started with a long lost half brother. I know that sounds like
the start of a bad novel, but this is all true. A few months ago, I
met a brother I didn't know existed. He spent the first 35 years of his
as an only child, but that changed a few months ago when I paid him a
visit during a family barbecue. He had murky childhood memories of my
existence, but they had faded as he progressed through life. He greeted
his insta-brother with open arms and we arranged to meet at a later
time to spend a day together.
This week he came to San Diego with his wife to cram some three decades
absence into 24 hours. I decided we'd spend the morning at the "world
famous" San Diego Zoo. The Zoo never disappoints. The underwater
at the polar bear plunge was the hit of the day.
From there we traveled to Petco
Park, where my San Diego Padres were
pitted against his San Francisco Giants. As luck would have it, the
Padres were one win from clinching the National League West Division
Championship, which added some extra excitement and anticipation to the
late-season game. We showed up early to watch batting practice as
guests of John
Moores. Besides being the owner of the Padres, he's also an
outstanding entrepreneur and a personal friend.
Moores, Michael Robertson,
and Lance Armstrong
My wife pointed down to the field and said "Isn't that Lance
Armstrong?" Unlikely, I thought. What the heck would he being doing at
San Diego baseball game?But before I could dismiss the observation as
lunacy, the public address announcer introduced "special guest Lance
Armstrong and members of the 2005
Tour of Hope," a pan-US ride designed to raise awareness for cancer
I've followed Lance Armstrong closely since my unremarkable but fun
amateur collegiate cycling career. For those unfamiliar with
Lance he's the now retired seven-time winner of the hardest race in the
world - the Tour de France. (My 6-year old thinks his name should be
Lance Legstrong.) As if seven victories is not impressive enough, he's
also a cancer survivor. And by survivor I mean "almost died, had to
have brain surgery, doctors didn't think he would make it" survivor.
Unimaginably, his Tour victories came after he endured
surgeries and his body withered away by the ravages of chemotherapy.
His transformation from talented, arrogant Texan to cancer battler to a
more humbled (but still Texan) husband, father and best cyclist of
all time is chronicled in his book It's
Not About The Bike. The title refers to a cycling maxim emphasizing
that it's the peddler that matters not the equipment.
The Padres jumped out to an early lead scoring runs in the first three
innings and slowly building a cushion. About that time I was summoned
by someone from John's staff to a reception area. Much to my surprise,
Lance was there drinking a cold beer.
I approached him and told him I was a huge admirer. I had to attempt
the word "admirer" three times before it came out cleanly. Admirer is
not a word I use lightly or regularly, and I was a little nervous. We
chatted for a few minutes about cycling and digital music. I asked him
who would lead Team Discovery next year and he said there
was no clear leader but to watch the young Ukrainian Yaroslav
I know he's an iPod fan and so I mentioned how I played a role in
battling for the legality of the first MP3 player, which paved the way
for such devices. He said that music played a critical role in his
lengthy training regiment and he couldn't do it without it. Before I
left, I told him his threats to "un-retire" and ride in next year's
to "piss off the French" was quite funny and appropriate given the
unfair treatment he has received at their hands.
He agreed to pose for photos and
even signed a baseball that was given
to me. I'm sure there are many Lance-signed cycling jerseys, but I
doubt there's many baseballs. My half brother came up and met Lance as
well. The photo and signing were arranged by John Moores which is a
favor I'm not sure I'll ever be able to repay.
Armstrong and I
at Petco Park
Meanwhile, the Padres were pounding out more runs leading to a 9th
inning appearance by ace reliever Trevor Hoffman. He closed out the
game clinching the playoff spot and triggering fireworks and
On the ride home, I tried to reflect and move the memories over to
long-term storage but it was tough. I was exhausted - not physically,
but mentally. A new brother. A new bond. Beating Bonds. Division
championship. Lance Armstrong.
I told my new brother not to expect this kind of day on his next visit.
MichaelThe Michael's Minute Meter
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