My Godfather Mark Goldfinger is a Six Star Finisher

Today, I watched my godfather Mark Goldfinger run the 2019 Boston Marathon, his sixth of the six Abbott World Major Marathons.  Mark, along with 5000+ others is a “Six Star Finisher”.  According to their website, “The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City.” 

Mark and his mom stayed a night with us Friday night, and I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his marathon running career.

Mark’s dad Norman passed away last year in San Diego after a battle with prostate cancer.  Until then, both his parents went to cheer him on at every marathon he ran, and his mom Dorene has continued to do so.  She even followed him around in Tokyo where it was below freezing and hailing on race day.  In honor of his dad, Mark has run all six marathons for cancer charities.

“I think what’s motivated me is being able to do something that not everyone can, but people want to do.  There’s a lot of people I run my marathons for; I’ve run all six of them for a cancer charity, the last three have been in honor of my father, and I like running and raising awareness for people who can’t necessarily run or raise awareness for themselves,” Goldfinger said.

Mark ran in his hometown marathon, New York in 2013.

“So far, the New York City marathon in 2013 has been my favorite.  It was my first marathon; the crowds were nonstop the entire 26.2 miles; my dad, my mom, my friends, and my family were all there, and it was really the marathon that gave me the inspiration to continue running,” Goldfinger said.

Boston was his 5th of the Abbott World Major Marathons in 2 years.  After New York, he continued his running career, running the London Marathon and the Berlin Marathon, which were just 5 months apart in 2017.  In London, ESPN featured him in a documentary.  He set his personal best in Berlin.

Mark running the London Marathon (top) and the Berlin Marathon (bottom) in 2017

After his dad’s passing in 2018, he ran in Chicago, Tokyo, and lastly Boston to complete his six stars.

“I was born and raised in New York, so I always knew that had to be my first race,” Goldfinger said.  “About 2-3 months after running New York City, I learned that Abbott World Majors had six major marathons.  Knowing that I had already completed one of them, and that I wanted to do Boston, I thought it would be really cool if I could figure out how to do the next four as well and then finish in Boston.”  “I knew I couldn’t end on any other race except for Boston.”

Mark told me later on that the reason he wanted to finish in Boston was because of its history as one of the world’s most prestigious marathons.

On Saturday, we went with Mark and Dorene to the Boston Marathon Expo where runners could pick up their bibs prior to the race.  Mark told me that things start to feel real for him when he picks up his number for the race.

But before he was able to receive his bib, we had to pass through an airport-like security checkpoint with a metal detector.  This reminded me of the reason this security was added: the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013.  Last year, I wrote an experiential essay about how I learned the true meaning of Boston Strong.

I had never been to this expo before, so this was a unique experience for me.  I was able to see where runners picked up their numbers and explore the various marathon-related booths and displays.

I learned a little more about the Abbott World Marathon Majors, bought a Dunkin Donuts Boston Marathon t-shirt, and took pictures with Mark and the rest of the family at a press photo station.

As per Mark’s request, we cheered him on from the midway point in Wellesley.  Mark is the first Six Star Finisher that I know, and he is very important to me.  Not only is he my godfather, but his dad Norman was my mom’s godfather.

This is the sign we made for Mark and held up when he ran by us in Wellesley.

We were able to track Mark on the official Boston Marathon app.  We had plans to give him high fives when he passed by, so we tried to figure out exactly when he would arrive.  We held up our sign when the tracker said he was close so he could find us.

Mark was running with his friend Danny Elphinston, who has run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors with Mark and received his Six Star medal with Mark.

Though Mark and Danny passed by quickly and we barely had time to say hello, it was pretty cool to watch my godfather run the Boston Marathon live.  We watched him right in between Miles 14 and 15.  Soon after seeing us, he would go on to face Heartbreak Hill, the hardest part of the Boston Marathon. For most of the marathon, Mark was running 8-minute miles.  On Heartbreak Hill, Mark was forced to slow down to about a 10-minute mile.

In the meantime, the elite runners finished the race.  Kenyan Lawrence Cherono led the males, just 1 second ahead of 2nd place in the closest finish since 1988.  Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa led the females.  Though we did not see Mark cross the finish line live, we did catch him on a livestream and I got the chance to talk to him after he finished.

“Today was a tough day,” Goldfinger said about his Marathon Monday.  “I was hoping for a much better time, but the legs just didn’t want to turn.  That being said, I’m excited to be part of the World Major Marathon Club and needless to say, I’ll be back to make up for my time today.”

Check out Mark and Danny’s six star medals:

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Boston Marathon 2019: Runner Spotlight – Michael Palmer and the Snow Angel Challenge

Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day.  As you may know if you have read this blog before, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.  Doctors said I may never speak.  But almost 14 years later, not only am I talking, I am a budding sports journalist who has written this blog for 5 years.

In honor of Autism Awareness Day, the Boston Herald asked me to tell my story for today’s paper!  I met Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief of the Boston Herald at a Red Sox game in 2015.  Since that day, I have gained multiple exciting sportscasting experiences from the Herald, including guest co-hosting a Boston Herald Radio show.

Now, I also serve as a Flutie Fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism so I’d like to share a story about a Dougie’s Team Boston Marathon runner named Michael Palmer.  Leading up to the marathon, he started something inspirational within the autism community.  Below is my video about Michael alongside what I said in the video:

For Michael Palmer, running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Doug Flutie, Jr Foundation for Autism has personal meaning. Michael has Aspergers. He wants to spread the message that people on the autism spectrum are not alone in their daily struggles to connect with others.

Michael literally spread his wings in creating a “snow angel challenge” as part of his marathon efforts. Michael put out the challenge for people to overcome their fears and barriers and support people like him who overcome challenges daily. I can relate to Michael’s challenges and I am grateful for his efforts, as they benefit me as well. I’m Flutie Fellow Andrew Roberts, and thanks in part to Michael’s efforts, the Flutie Foundation is helping me pursue my goal of being a sports broadcaster.

Michael’s “snow angel challenge” spread through other team members and friends of the Flutie Foundation. Then, recently-retired All-Pro New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski got word of the challenge. While he didn’t jump in the snow, Gronkowski did participate in his own way. Thanks Gronk!

If you’d like to support Michael Palmer’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for autism, please check out the Flutie Foundation website at FlutieFoundation.org.

This is not the last of my Boston Marathon coverage.  I will be writing more runner spotlights this year, including one about a runner for Get Air Sports, a partner of the Flutie Foundation.  On a side note the Pats need a replacement for Rob Gronkowski who had fun in contributing the video for Michael.  Will they address the TE position in the draft?  Find out what I think in my upcoming 2019 NFL Mock Draft.

Stay tuned for more sports coverage soon.  But as the Herald headline noted, my sportswriting journey is only just getting started.

Baseball Bits #12: Can Sox Repeat like Few Teams have?

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Welcome to my annual preseason Baseball Bits article!

If you were unaware, today marks 5 years since I started my Boston Sports Mania blog!  The Red Sox were just about to begin their regular season when I started, and just like this year, they were coming off a World Series victory.  On my first day, I posted an article titled “MLB 2014 Preview”, which included my predictions for the 2014 MLB season. I still write these prediction articles every year, including this year

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I call March 25th my “blog-a-versary”, and this year is a big milestone.  All of my opportunities are a result of this blog.  Most recently, I delivered a motivational keynote speech about my story so far at the Visions of Community Conference hosted by the Federation for Children with Special Needs at the Boston Seaport World Trade Center (see below):

I started this blog to write about my favorite sports like baseball, which is what today’s post is about.

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Top: After the Red Sox’s 100th win                     Bottom: After the Red Sox’s World Series win

In 2018 the Red Sox became the 16th team in the 162-game era to win over 100 regular season games and then go on to win the World Series.  They were led by new manager Alex Cora and a new star in J.D. Martinez.  But what most Boston sports fans are wondering about now is how the Red Sox will do in 2019 and whether they will repeat.  I did some research on 100+ win World Series winners in the 162-game era and how they did in their next season below.  

The Research

Baseball Bits #12_ 100-Win World Series Winners – Sheet1

The “Baseball Bits”

Note: In the context of this article, a team who repeats for 2 years in a row is counted for 1 repeat, 3 years in a row is counted for 2 repeats, 4 years in a row is counted for 3 repeats, etc

  • Only 23 of 115 (20%) World Series winners have repeated
  • In the 162-game era, only 16 of 57 (28%) 100-win teams have won the World Series, including the 2018 Red Sox
  • In the 162-game era, only 9 of 56 (16%) World Series winners excluding the 2018 Red Sox have repeated, with 4 of the teams repeating after 100-win seasons
  • Of the 15 100 win World Series winners excluding the 2018 Red Sox:9 teams (60%) made the playoffs4 teams (26.67% of the 15) repeated2 of those teams reached 100 wins when they repeated:1976 Cincinnati Reds
    • 1978 New York Yankees
  • 2 of those teams failed to reach 100 wins again when they repeated:1962 New York Yankees
    • 1999 New York Yankees (repeated again in 2000
  • The Red Sox did not win the World Series in an 100 win season in the 162-game era until 2018
  • Another 2 of the 15 (13.33%) lost the World Series:1968 St. Louis Cardinals
    • 1978 Baltimore Orioles
  • 3 of the 15 (20%) lost in the LCS2010 New York Yankees
    • 2017 Chicago Cubs
    • 2018 Houston Astros
  • 6 of the 15 (40%) missed the playoffs entirely1969 Detroit Tigers
    • 1970 New York Mets
    • 1977 Cincinnati Reds
    • 1979 New York Yankees
    • 1985 Detroit Tigers
    • 1987 New York Mets
  • Each of the last 3 100-win World Series winners lost in the LCS the next year

The Verdict

Based on the research, I believe the Red Sox have a 20 to 25% chance to repeat.  I believe that there is still a select group of elite teams that could win the World Series this year.  World Series repeats are less common during the 162-game era as just 9 of 56 (16%) World Series winners repeated.  However, 4 of those teams were 100-win teams. World Series winners who did not reach 100 wins in this time frame only repeated 12.1% of the time since 1961.  That’s more like a 1 in 8 chance.  100-win World Series winners have repeated 26.67% of the time during the same time frame.  I think the significance of being a 100-win team helps improve the Sox chances to repeat. 

However, as much as I hate to admit it as a huge Boston fan, I am sticking with my prediction that the Sox will fail to reverse the trend of World Series winners.  I think they will lose in the ALCS to either the New York Yankees or Houston Astros.  The odds are stacked against the Sox reaching 100 wins as well since only 4 of the 15 100-win World Series winners even reached 100 wins again the next year.  I don’t think the Red Sox will reach the century mark but will come close at somewhere between 92 and 96 games. A bullpen with no proven closer to start the season helps support my prediction  A World Series repeat is unlikely to happen, though you shouldn’t rule it out yet.

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Alex Cora did wonders for this team last year, so maybe he’ll be able to recreate the magic of 2018.  If he can, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be 2019 AL Manager of the Year.

That’s all for today’s Baseball Bits.  After all I have accomplished in the last 5 years, I look forward to creating even better content over the next 5 years.  Stay tuned for more soon, including the next portion of my MLB Preseason Power Rankings.

My 2019 Visions of Community Keynote Speech

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Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days of my life.  I told my story so far to 300+ people, and hundreds more were watching it live.  In my speech, I told the story of how I turned my obsessions of sports and writing into a passion – this blog.  My goal of the speech was to inspire others and teach people that obsessions aren’t always something that needs to be controlled or discouraged.  After the speech, several parents came up to me asking me to get in touch with their kids.  If you have something you’re obsessed with, I encourage you to start a blog about it.  Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new passion – and eventually find a career.  I have found my passion, and that is the highlight of this first chapter of my life.  But this is only the beginning of my story.  Hopefully, I can take this passion and make it a career.  It all starts with the little things – internships, volunteering, etc.

For those of you who missed out on the livestream, I posted a video with just my speech:

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A picture of me walking up to deliver my speech taken by the Boston Herald for an article about the day (Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

After delivering the speech, I was featured in the Boston Herald.  You can check out the article they wrote below:

https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/03/09/teen-with-autism-turning-sportswriter-dream-into-reality/

I am so thankful to the Federation for Children with Special Needs (https://fcsn.org/) who gave me this incredible opportunity to be the keynote speaker in front of hundreds at the Seaport World Trade Center Ampitheater.

 

I’d also like to thank Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief at the Herald.  He met me back in 2015, and he has continued to provide me with awesome opportunities, the latest of which was appearing in today’s paper.  I also guest co-hosted one of their radio shows last summer.

Most of all, I have to give some credit to my loving, supportive family, who have helped me overcome my challenges and encouraged me in my budding sports career.

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I really enjoyed this opportunity, and I hope that this is not just another milestone in my sports career, but the beginning of a public speaking career.

 

Delivering Keynote Speech at Visions of Community Conference

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For those of you who did not know, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Autistic people often face numerous challenges throughout their life – they often struggle socially, and it often takes them longer to learn life skills than most, which can hold them back from becoming independent.

Though I have faced many challenges, I believe I can do anything I put my mind to, and there are plenty of benefits of autism. I will always be autistic, and I am willing to embrace that.

Like many on the autism spectrum, I tend to grow obsessed with things I enjoy. One thing I have been obsessed with for most of my life is sports.

Obsessions are often portrayed as a bad thing. But obsessions can be a good thing. Almost 5 years ago, I took my obsession and turned it into a passion – this sports blog. I’ve grown to really enjoy writing this blog, and over the years, I have gained valuable sportscasting experiences from it. Now, I hope that this passion can lead me to a career in sports journalism.

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This Saturday, I will be telling the story of my autistic struggles and my budding sports career as the keynote speaker at the Visions of Community Conference, an annual special education conference hosted by the Federation for Children with Special Needs at the World Trade Center in Boston.

Check out my bio on their website.

After the conference, I will be posting a video of my speech that will go on the FCSN website and on my blog.

I am really looking forward to this once in a lifetime experience, and I’d like to thank my former preschool aide, Kristin LaRose for providing me with this amazing opportunity!  Kristin now works for the FCSN – she was inspired by my story, and in October, she asked me if I was interested in being the Youth Keynote at this conference.  Much like when I was given the opportunity to be a NESN junior announcer, I couldn’t turn the opportunity down, and I would like to thank Kristin and the rest of the Federation for thinking of me.

Making My Mark with the Fidrych Foundation

Today, thanks to The Mark Fidrych Foundation, I was invited to play in their 8th annual charity softball tournament.  They sponsored me and all the friends and family of the Northborough Challenger Baseball League.  Like in past years, it was a great way to put a closing on my Challenger Baseball season. The Fidrych Foundation has sponsored my team for the last 5 years and I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to play organized baseball.

Today’s event, held at Memorial Field and Casey Field in Northborough, was even more exciting than last year’s event.  I played third base on the Challenger/Miracle League team and my dad Ken played with me on the field at first.  He batted after me and you can see us both on the bases below.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of my teammates after the game, including NCAA 1989 Final Four basketball star for Illinois, Matthew Schnaderbeck, along with his wife, Catherine, and his two daughters, Jessica and Alexis.  Here’s me with Matthew and his daughters after we had lunch.

I had a lot of fun playing softball and even caught a hot line drive hit right to me at third and also made a few plays throwing to my dad at first.  My teammates and I all got to bat twice, once each inning, so I was happy to get two hits.  After I finished playing, I met up with one of my long time Challenger coaches, Sean Durkin, who has taught me so much over the years and he told me he was proud to see how well I played.

Before leaving, I was very excited to get some photo opportunities with some well-known sports personalities. First, I took a photo with Tessie the Green Monster.  After that, I met up with Women’s Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist Haley Skarupa.  Last but not least, I met up again with sports broadcaster Joe Braverman, who graduated from my high school, Algonquin Regional High School and now I am trying to follow in his footsteps with the same great high school sports coverage that Joe did for four years.  I have already started with “Gonk Knocks” covering the T-Hawks football team and look forward to getting some help from Joe during the year.

I’d like to thank Ann Fidyrich and the entire Fidrych Foundation staff and volunteers for sponsoring me year after year to play baseball and softball in the Spring and Summer.  Today’s event was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to play again in the Spring.

Silver Medal APEX Celebration with the Lagasse Family

On Monday, I met up with Tyler Lagasse and his mom, Deb at APEX Entertainment Center to celebrate his Special Olympics USA Games silver medal win in Seattle.

We met at the sports simulators and I introduced Tyler and his mom to my mom and my brother, Ryan, who could not make it for the Seattle trip.  After that, APEX set us up for a round of golf, and we went live on Facebook.  The video includes Tyler’s first swing at the APEX golf simulator.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Click here for the full video.

We had the entire evening planned out as seen below:

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Since it was my first time playing any kind of golf (besides mini-golf), it took at least five swings for me to get the hang of it.  But with the help of Tyler, I caught on fairly quickly.  Since he is a lefty, he was especially helpful because watching him was like looking in the mirror.  By my 10th swing, I was driving the ball almost 100 yards in the simulator.  We only had time for a couple of holes, and Tyler dominated, but I still really enjoyed it.  I’m definitely eager to give the golf simulator another try, and you never know, golf could be a sport I could try to play.   Of course my broadcasting career will still come first.

Here are some highlights of Tyler and I at the golf simulator:

After finishing at the golf simulator, we had a few minutes to spare before our reserved private go-kart race.  We decided to take each other on in a Boston Celtics basketball arcade game.  I beat Tyler in this one, totaling over 60 points in two rounds.  After our basketball competition, it was time to race.

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Tyler, Ryan, my dad, and I were all in the race.  We walked back to the go-kart track and put our head socks on.  We watched a video on safety rules before putting our helmets on and getting settled in our go-karts.  They started the race very soon after.  After passing Tyler and my dad early, I knew I was doing well.

I beat Tyler by 0.119 seconds with a fastest lap of 38.015, but came in 2nd to my dad, who’s best time was 36.339.  Tyler’s fastest time was 38.134, putting him in 3rd place.  He was a few seconds ahead of Ryan, who had a best time of 41.441.

Here are the results, taken directly from an email I received from APEX after the race:

Thank you for your visit.

Here you can find your results.

Results for Session 30 at 5:18 PM

   Heat overview Best time
1. killerken (my dad) 36.339
2. AndrewrBSM (me) 38.015
3. tyler (Tyler) 38.134
4. Ryguy335YT (my brother) 41.441

Unlike last time, APEX gave us a sheet with more detailed results:

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Here are some highlights from the race:

After that, we headed upstairs to the classic arcade section.  We started by facing off in a few rounds of Olympic bubble hockey.

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In the first game, there were no goals for a long while, but Tyler beat me 1-0 after I accidentally shot it into my own goal.  However, I won the second game, and we both wanted a rubber match.  In the rubber match, it was a close one, as Tyler led 2-1 with seconds to go (It requires a goal to end the game).  If I scored, it went to overtime.  But after a lot of good defense, Tyler scored the game-winning goal to make it 3-1.

Tyler wanted to play Aerosmith pinball after that, one of my favorites.  It wasn’t my best day in pinball, but even if it was a good day for me, I wouldn’t have beat Tyler.  He had never played pinball before but he was a quick study, scoring over 30000 points, earning the multiball, and a winning a free game.  Here are some highlights from the arcade:

Tyler played out his free game, but after that, it was time to bowl.  Tayla Normandie, who was assisting Sean MacLaughlin in hosting us for the day, booked us for candlepin in Lane 1.  It turned out that Tyler’s mom had Tayla as a cosmetology student at Greater Lowell Tech, where she teaches.  She recognized Tayla at that point and caught up with her.  After that, Tayla gave us our bowling shoes, and Tyler, Tyler’s mom, my dad, and I began bowling.

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We were given full Pit Stop Tavern service from the lanes, and I ordered a delicious chicken tender and french fry meal with BBQ sauce on the side and a Sprite to drink.  Tyler ordered buffalo chicken tenders, one of his favorites.  I topped Tyler in our first round of bowling.  I had my best round in a while, including a strike on Frame 2.  But my dad had his best round in a long time with a strike of his own and a grand total of 93.  Between all of our competitions, Tyler and I were tied 4-4.  So we decided to play one more game of candlepin bowling, just the two of us.  I was off to a strong start, but Tyler just got better as he played, and he came back to beat me in a close one.  Check out some of the highlights from the bowling alley:

Below are all our competition results from throughout the day.  It is almost like we played each other in a mini Olympics.

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It turned out that there was a podium at the APEX, so before we said our goodbyes, Tyler and I took a picture on the podium based on our results from throughout the day.

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I’d like to thank Marcus Kemblowski, Sean MacLaughlin, Tayla Normandie, Tyler Lagasse, Nick Savarese, and Deb Lagasse for making this experience possible.  Stay tuned for more experience posts soon, including coverage of the Special Olympics Massachusetts golf championship.

This post is also available on the Flutie Foundation blog.