HOFFMAN SOUNDS OFF

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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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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