HOFFMAN SOUNDS OFF

Ken Hoffman reveals a unique family link with the polarizing Colin Kaepernick

Ken Hoffman reveals a unique family link with the polarizing Colin Kaepernick
The polarizing Kaepernick has a unique tie to the Hoffman family. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Don't judge by me, but I come from a pretty smart family. There's a bunch of doctors, teachers, and political activists. My Aunt Minnie was in The Godfather Part II, my favorite movie ever.

I'll get back to my family in a minute. Did you see where Colin Kaepernick made a surprise appearance at the Lower East Side Girls Club on Avenue D in New York City last week? Wearing a T-shirt that read, "I know my rights," Kaepernick gave a quick speech about the courage to stand (in his case, kneel) for what you believe, and handed out Nike backpacks to low-income, mostly minority girls. This Girls Club is remarkable, the sheer number of kids it helps along the path to a productive adulthood. It's really an inspirational story.

The mission of the Lower Eastside Girls Club is to "connect girls and young women to healthy and successful futures." The 35,000 square foot, state of the art center offers a safe haven with programs in the arts, sciences, leadership, entrepreneurship, and wellness for middle and high school girls. Programs are offered at no cost to girls and their families, according to its website. 

The site also notes that the Lower Eastside of Manhattan is "one of the most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in New York, with a substantial foreign-born and working poor population."

Back to my family: When I was growing up — early on in Manhattan, later in New Jersey — my family went to Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally's house in Clifton, New Jersey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Uncle Bill made the turkey, but Aunt Sally's mashed potatoes stole the show. They were insanely delicious. Nobody knew how Aunt Sally made them, and she wasn't talking.

Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally had three kids: Lyn, Wendy, and Tommy. I really looked up to them. They were bright and talented and talked about things that were so far over my head, I'd need a telescope to understand them.

Before I left Jersey to start my newspaper career (this long hard climb to the middle) I asked Aunt Sally for her mashed potatoes recipe. Now I'm in charge of the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Aunt Sally's potatoes are still drawing raves.

My cousin Lyn founded the Lower Eastside Girls Club in 1996. She is still the executive director. Lyn has changed the world for hundreds and hundreds of young people. She makes their lives better.

I'm still looking up to her.

The CVS battle: a good sign
After years —years — of battling with my local CVS to put up a sign that reads, "Please stand back" from the pharmacy counter so customers could have privacy when discussing medical matters with pharmacists...

I finally won. There's a sign there now.

This week, while picking up a prescription, I said to the pharmacist, "You see that sign? That's me." The pharmacist asked, "You're the guy who wrote about us?" Then she came out from behind the counter to shake my hand. "We've been begging the store manager for so long to do something about that. Thank you!"

More signs of the times
I'm on a roll. 

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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