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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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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