On The Ropes

Originally published in Baltimore magazine

It’s near dusk on a weekday in late summer, and at 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore that means work is about to begin. Dozens of kids and a few adults, too, will soon arrive at the Upton Boxing Center to train, spar, and take in the advice that coach Calvin Ford and a partially volunteer staff dish out nightly at this city-funded recreation facility.

“You ain’t nobody until you beat somebody,” Ford says while preparing stations, drills, and matchups for the next few hours. Sage words float around this place, much like the pops from leather gloves smacking training mitts, the beats of 92Q on the radio, and the late afternoon light piercing through a run of high windows in the converted basketball gym.

There are tires to flip. Boxes to leap. Ropes to pull weight. The boxing ring in the center of it all represents a sport, yes, but in the bigger picture, also a refuge from the realities of what’s outside.

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Showalter, pitching have O’s off to fast start

Originally published in Newsday (N.Y.):

BALTIMORE — On the back of the famous red brick B&O Warehouse beyond rightfield at Camden Yards, a large poster of Orioles manager Buck Showalter hangs, greeting fans outside the stadium. Showalter is shown from the waist up in uniform on a mock baseball card; his left hand is extended and he is pointing with his index finger, looking much like Uncle Sam. Below Showalter’s likeness are the words: Are You Ready?

What to be ready for is left open-ended. That’s the idea.

It’s still very early in the season, but the Orioles have a 6-3 record, good for as many wins as they had last season on the first of May, when they were 6-18. They are 40-26 since hiring former Yankees manager Showalter last Aug. 3 to take over for interim manager Juan Samuel. That’s the best record of any American League team since then. They begin a three-game series at Yankee Stadium Tuesday in first place in the AL East, a game ahead of the Yankees.

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