For once, ESPN's East Coast bias (heh) and ability to talk any topic into the ground combine with their highly charitable spirit. The Ice Bucket Challenge is all the rage and it's for a fantastic cause.
Dallas Keuchel has already taken the challenge, caught in this great photo by the Chronicle's Karen Warren:
L.J. Hoes has also taken the challenge, with video on both getting posted to the new Mission Control blog run by Amanda Rykoff. I'm really happy that the Astros have taken to this so readily, for reasons we'll get to in a minute.
I'd been debating taking on the challenge myself, so I did. Here's the video, where I challenge James from Astros County and MLB.com superstar Richard Justice and then an explanation on why I did it. I debated challenging Dexter Fowler, but figured he'd just hurt himself again. I almost challenged Keuchel, but he beat me to the punch. So, we're going old school and new school baseball writing. Ice is in your bucket, James and Richie.
Before we get to the end, I'll issue one more challenge to all of you readers of TCB.
Post our own Ice Bucket Challenge video. FanShot it. Write a FanPost telling your story with a video and a challenge. For every one we get, we'll put it on our front page. Fill it up. Donate to the ALS Association and let's strike out ALS.
It sounds like an Aggie joke. I just dumped a bucket of cold water over my head for no good reason.
It's for a great reason.
Four years ago this September, I lost my dad to a five-year battle with ALS. When people around the Boston sports scene started taking the ice bucket challenge, naturally, I decided to try my hand at it.
Dad was my best friend.
He gave me his love of sports, of music and nature and books. He encouraged my writing, even when I was churning out terrible Star Trek fanfic in middle school.
We read the paper together on the weekends and talked all the time on the phone. Even when I went off to college, we'd talk two or three times a night, usually about the Astros or Rockets.
He loved talking to just about anyone, which made it all the more cruel that this disease took his speech before it took his other muscles started to fail.
All those long phone calls about whether Richard Hidalgo would make it were gone in an instant.
ALS sucks like that.
Instead, we replaced that time with different traditions. We watched football together most Sundays during the season, with me driving in from College Station to spend the day with him and my grandfather. We texted more than we talked. He bragged about beating me and everyone else in fantasy football.
When he was first diagnosed, WebMD told me the life expectancy was 18 months. We got five more years with Dad. He got to hold my son, his first grandchild. He got to attend both my sister's and my weddings.
That was thanks in large part to the research being done around the country on the disease. His doctors at the MDA/ALS Center in the Houston Methodist Hospital System were outstanding. They answered all our questions when he traveled each quarter for tests. When he couldn't travel any more, they came to him.
Their generosity and dedication meant so much.
After he was diagnosed, I've struggled to find ways to make an impact, to return the favor of all those hours spent helping him. Despite being charitably described as "Internet-famous," my skills don't lend themselves to gathering large groups to a common cause.
Organize a charity poker tournament? I wouldn't know where to start.
Dump an ice-cold bucket of water over my head? Perfect. Right in my wheel house. I can do awkward and embarrassing all day long.
In the last two weeks, donations to the ALS Association boomed, reportedly 10 times as numerous as last year.
Why this challenge started isn't important. Who gets challenged isn't the focus, either. It's the awareness raised. It's the donations gained.
I got five years with Dad after he was diagnosed. Maybe these donations will give six years, 10 years to someone else. Maybe it will give them even more time and memories with someone they love.
That's worth it.
For that reason, I took this challenge and I sent it along to a couple others. Richard Justice, Astros County, you're on notice. You've got 24 hours.
Dad stays with me every day. I'm sure he'd appreciate his son dumping all that water on his head.
And yes, I bet he's laughing.