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 now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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