By Jason Klein 

Girls play baseball.

My daughters play.  So do thousands of other girls.

Some of them are good.  Some are really good!  All of them make a choice.

Girls who play youth baseball have to decide how comfortable they are playing alongside boys.  Sometimes, that’s hard to do.

YES PEPPER is an empowering new book for girls who play baseball.

A few years back, my daughter questioned her place in the sport.  She asked me if baseball was for girls.  I tried to reassure her but could tell she still had doubts.

To show her how many people supported the idea of girls playing baseball, I asked Twitter for help.

“Show my daughter she’s not alone,” I tweeted.  “She doesn’t think she can play little league with boys this year.  I told her baseball is DEFINITELY a sport for girls, too.  She’s skeptical and I want to show her how many people agree with me.”

The tweet went viral.

My post garnered 5.1 million impressions and 80,000 combined likes and retweets! It received support from Major League Baseball, Little League International, USA Women’s Baseball and Baseball For All.  The Washington Post even wrote a feature story about us.  

Celebrities, athletes, pro sports teams and global brands responded with retweets and direct messages.  I also had thousands of parents reach out to encourage my daughter and to share their personal stories with me.

Jessica Mendoza, a top ESPN baseball analyst and advocate for girls in the game, tweeted, “Tell your daughter I not only agree with you but I’ve got her back!!! Go play!”

Justine Siegel, the first woman to coach at the Major League level & the founder of Baseball For All, told my daughter to, “Go Play and have fun! Baseball is a sport for everyone!!”

The response left me humbled.  It also left me wondering how many other little girls out there have similar concerns. Who is supporting their passions and helping them overcome society’s stigmas? 

I decided to write a book to help build their confidence and inspire them to do what makes them happy.

YES PEPPER is an empowering story of inclusion for girls who play baseball and is set to be released this Summer.

The story’s heroine, Abby, loves eating peppers and playing baseball, but both make her the subject of schoolyard teasing.  Classmates start calling her “Pepper” and claim that “girls can’t play baseball.”  This leaves Abby feeling lonely and insecure.

With some encouragement from her parents, Abby agrees to do what she loves and play in the local baseball league anyway.  What happens next is inspiring and comforting for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.

YES PEPPER sends a positive message to any little girl who doubts herself.  My wife and I are raising our daughters to know they have every opportunity to do what they love.  With this book, I hope to spread that same sentiment to others.

Today, women continue to take on some of the most important professional roles in the world.  They are doctors, they are lawyers, they are CEOs and they are even Vice Presidents of the United States.  The same is true in baseball.  

This past year, Kim Ng was hired as the General Manager of the Miami Marlins and Rachel Balkovec was promoted to Manager of the Tampa Tarpons, a New York Yankees affiliate.  Just last month, the New York Mets hired Elizabeth Benn as their director of Major League Operations.  

Eight years ago, a 13 year-old girl named Mo’ne Davis dominated the Little League World Series.  She graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and captured America’s heart.

She also had advice for my daughter who was trying to decide if she could play baseball with boys, too.

“I definitely think she can hang with them and be better than them,” Mo’ne tweeted to me.  “That’s coming from a girl who has done it before.”

Mo’ne chased her baseball dreams, but still, many girls haven’t.  Maybe they don’t believe they can do it.  Perhaps they were teased or told they couldn’t simply because they’re a girl.

I wrote YES PEPPER for them.

I wrote it to build their confidence and help them feel more comfortable with their choice to play ball.

I’m hopeful that young female ballplayers find Abby’s journey relatable and inspiring.  I want them to know that they’re not alone.

Girls play baseball.  They can, too.

PRE-ORDER TODAY! Reserve your copy of YES PEPPER here!

Follow YES PEPPER on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok!

Contact Jason Klein:

Easy to See What Made Ed Lucas Special

By Jason Klein 

I never got to see Ed Lucas.

Instead, our bond developed over the phone.  It was our two voices that carried hours of conversation and years of friendship.  We would mostly talk about Ed’s favorite subject, baseball.

Developing a relationship without ever laying eyes on a person was new for me.  Not so much for Ed.  

Ed Lucas covered MLB for almost 60 years, despite being blind.

At the age of 12, he took a line drive off his forehead while playing ball with some friends.  It was 1951 and he had just watched his favorite team, the New York Giants, knock off the Brooklyn Dodgers to capture the National League Pennant.  

The game is best known for Bobby Thomson’s walk off “Shot Heard Round the World” homerun.  As it turned out, it was the last game Ed ever saw. The ball that hit him between the eyes detached both his retinas, leaving him blind.  

Ed went on to live another 70 years after that incident.  On Wednesday, at the age of 82, he passed away.  Although he spent the majority of his life without sight, he always maintained tremendous vision.

Against all odds, he got his communications degree at Seton Hall and went on to become a writer, reporter, broadcaster, and even a New Jersey Sports Hall of Famer, covering the subject he was most passionate about…the very game that robbed him of his sight, baseball.

He would often amaze others with his ability to accurately hear where the ball was hit, just by the sound it made off the bat.

Over the course of his career, he covered Joe DiMaggio, Aaron Judge, and pretty much everyone in-between.  He was a beloved figure in the clubhouse and revered among players and other members of the media.  When he was around the ballpark, everyone was excited to talk to Ed.

Aaron Judge & Lucas

I felt the same way whenever he called me.

I picked up the phone one afternoon while working at Steiner Sports and Ed was on the line.  I had never spoken to him before, but we quickly developed a strong rapport.  He was looking to buy something autographed by Cal Ripken and I had just the piece for him.

What should have been a quick five minute transaction turned into an hour-long conversation.  He modestly told me about his career and briefly recounted that fateful day that left him blind in the fall of 1951. 

We also talked baseball, of course.  I told him of my life-long affinity for the New York Yankees and he told me about the time Phil Rizzuto introduced him to his wife, Allison.  

In a later conversation, he revealed that he and Allison were married, at home plate, inside an empty Yankee Stadium.  They were the first, and only, couple to ever be married on the field in the old Stadium.  In fact, George Steinbrenner personally granted them permission and even paid for the catering.  

Ed & Allison were married at Yankee Stadium

Inspired, I decided to ask my wife, Alyssa, to marry me under similar circumstances.  I waited until the Yankees were on the road, and arranged to have access, alone, inside the House that Ruth Built.  Alyssa and I got engaged that day.  Ed was one of the first people I shared the good news with. 

My wife, Alyssa and I got engaged at an empty Yankee Stadium

We had countless conversations through the years.  He wasn’t a big memorabilia collector, so, he would often call me just to check in and say hello.  After leaving Steiner Sports, I remained in contact with Ed.  I regret never making plans to see him in person, but value the time I had with him on the phone.  He made quite an impression on me through the years, as he did with everyone he came in contact with over the course of his remarkable 82 year life.

So much so, that many of the athletes he covered wanted to support him in any way that they could.  When Ed decided to write a book about his journey, Derek Jeter personally asked to publish it under his own imprint, Jeter Publishing.  Also, David Cone hosts an annual golf outing to benefit The Ed Lucas Foundation, the organization Ed started to help those with visual impairments like his.

Ed never let his lack of sight stop him from achieving his goals and he wanted to empower others to do the same.

He was an inspiration to all that knew him and a truly special person.

That was easy for anyone to see.

Zach Wilson Can Help Jets Fans Forget Tortured History

By Jason Klein 

Prove them right, Zach.

Please!  For the sake of all Jets fans.  For my personal well-being.

Just prove the Jets right.

I’ve seen the wristband and the wall in your parents’ living room.  I know you wake up every day looking to “Prove Them Wrong.”  I respect it.  I appreciate it.  Now go spend the next decade proving them right, instead.

Jets Fans Need Zach Wilson To Prove Them Right.

Start on Sunday.

Show the football world why the Jets selected you with the second overall pick in the draft.  They traded Sam Darnold to clear your path down Zachs Fifth Avenue.  They chose to build around you rather than doubling down on Sam.  Validate that decision.

I’m begging you.

Us Jets fans need things to work out this time.  Our team has rarely gotten it right.  Ken O’Brien had moments, Browning Nagle never did.  Boomer Esiason and Neil O’Donnell had big names but little success.  Vinny Testaverde got close.  Chad Pennington got hurt.  Mark Sanchez got Tebow’d.  Geno Smith got punched.  Darnold got Gase’d. 

Things never seem to work out for us.  It’s been 52 years since Super Bowl III.  We’re tired of rooting for the same old nonsense.  But you, Mr. Wilson, can change the narrative.  Please, take us Zach to the Future.  Help us forget our past.

We don’t want to think about fake spikes or butt fumbles.  We’re done with shovel passes, seeing ghosts and Snoopy Bowl suffering.  Pull the plug on Heidi Games, burner accounts and mononucleosis.  

We don’t want to hear about Mark Gastineau’s personal foul in Cleveland or Leon Johnson’s halfback option pass in Detroit.  We’re done talking about Peyton Manning staying in school and the HC of the NYJ haphazardly scribbling on a napkin.  We’re sick of the Idzik 12, foot fetishes, and “brilliant offensive minds.”

No more Vernon Gholston, Blair Thomas, Dee Milliner and Johnny “Lam” Jones.  We never want to hear about Lou Holtz, Rich Kotite or Adam Gase again.

We want to give Joe Namath’s interview with Suzy Kolber a big kiss goodbye.  

We’ve unfollowed Jamal Adams and Le’Veon Bell on social media.  We’re tired of hearing that our head coach thinks he’s “rich as f*ck,” or that our owner “hopes this team actually shows up.” No more rooting against our own team in hopes of securing the first pick in the draft.

We’ve tripped over our own logo in the end zone for the last time.  No more firing General Managers AFTER they run our drafts.  Put away the Pick 6’s, PSLs and advice from Peyton Manning.

We want to forget about Brett Favre’s torn biceps, Chad’s torn shoulder and Vinny’s torn Achilles.  Give the hook to I.K. Enemkpali’s right hook.  We’re done living in Tom Brady’s shadow.

Enough googly-eyed press conference memes.  No more Cover Zero Blitzes.  We can’t take any more planes flying over practice or 1-15 seasons. Oh, and Woody, you most certainly CAN have too much Tebow.

Please, Zach.  We’re pleading with you.  End this endless string of ineptitude for us.  No more Mud Bowls.  Only Super Bowls.  Take the chip on your shoulder and go get a chip for that trophy case in Florham Park.  We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but a Lombardi will prove them right, one day, for sure.

It won’t be easy.  You’re about to go all gas, no brake with an organization that’s mostly been stuck in reverse.  We believe in you, though.  We’ve heard the hype.  We’ve watched the tape.  We’ve listened to all the experts and analysts and coaches who have gushed over your arm talent, praised your work ethic and admired your leadership qualities.

We think you’re the one to lift us from the green and white abyss.  We trust you’re the pilot to finally help us take flight.

We need things to work out.  This time has to be different.

Please, Zach.  For the sake of all Jets fans.  For my personal well-being.

Prove us right.

Why We Still Clap

By Jason Klein 

We open our garage at the same time every night.

No matter what.

We stop whatever we’re doing and open it up.

We’ve been doing it for more than a year.  Every night.  Without fail.

Our quiet neighborhood knows, when that garage goes up, something loud is about to go down.

Our 7:00 PM “Clappy Hour.”

Each night at 7:00 PM, my wife, two daughters, and I emerge from our garage like a family of bears waking from hibernation.  We walk to the top of our driveway, look around our calm and peaceful development, and then start celebrating like a walk-off hit just sent the Yankees to the World Series.

We clap!  We yell!  We cheer!  Sometimes, we even sing!

We’re loud!

Our noise pierces the air like a vaccine jab to the shoulder.

We started doing it in April 2020, about a month into the COVID-19 Pandemic.  It was the trendy thing to do back then.  Now, we share “Clappy Hour” with just one other couple in our development.  It’s our nightly salute to all the frontline and essential workers who have bravely sacrificed for us over the last 15 months.

Yeah, we’re still doing that!

On occasion, some of our neighbors, unknowingly out for a leisurely stroll, get caught in the middle of all our racket.  Sometimes, we get funny looks, as if to say, “this is still going on?!”  Other times, our unsuspecting peers decide to start clapping along with us as they walk by.

Their bewildered behavior indicates this ritual may have lost steam with some, but it’s remained an important part of our day.  For us, the clapping is sort of therapeutic.  It’s a short moment of jubilation that’s kept us going during an otherwise difficult and lonely period of time.  It’s a daily opportunity to honor the extraordinary sacrifices that our frontline and essential workers have made.  It’s also a time to reflect.

My wife at work during the Pandemic

While clapping, I often think about my health, my family’s health, and the difficult decisions we’ve made to sustain it.  I honor those who guided us along the way with responsible, fact-based advice.

As my daughters jump up and down, shrieking in celebration, I think about how challenging the past year has been for them.  They experienced a year of childhood, through a screen, without friends or activities.  However, their ability to adjust and entertain themselves with endless creativity has made me proud.

I also clap every night to show my gratitude.  My wife sits atop my list.  She’s spent the last year covered in PPE from head-to-toe.  As an inpatient Physical Therapist, she’s been helping COVID patients regain strength after difficult bouts with this ruthless virus.  Her daily, direct exposure has been a challenge for our family, but it’s also kept us educated and aware.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve started applauding for vaccines, the scientists that developed them, the medical professionals administering them, and the millions of selfless people who have taken them to protect themselves and their neighbors.  My wife was vaccinated in January.  I got mine in April.  I respect someone’s right to opt against vaccination, but I clap with boundless amounts of gratitude for those that chose this safe and effective path out of Pandemic hell.

Vaccinated in April 2021

Finally, I find myself celebrating the simple things that got me through it all.  I clap for Zoom, Netflix and high speed internet.  I honor my daughters’ teachers, the mailman, UPS and FedEx guys. I recognize my Bluetooth earbuds and a limitless stream of podcasts and music.  I cheer for my Twitter feed, puzzles, take-out food, hazy IPAs and my Peloton.  I salute the athletes who entertained me on TV and the grandparents who entertained my children on FaceTime.

One day, the clapping will stop.  My appreciation for everyone and everything that got us through this Pandemic will not, though.

Until last call for “Clappy Hour,” we’ll continue to applaud our slow return back to more normal times.  Times when we can safely see all our friends and family. Times when most things in society open up…besides our garage, of course.

Sam Darnold Gave Me Hope. The Jets Gave Him None.

By Jason Klein

Sam Darnold deserved better.

We all did.

I was inside MetLife Stadium when he was drafted.  The Jets were about to secure their long-coveted franchise quarterback and I needed to be there the moment it happened.

I watched the screen in the corner of the end zone, with my dad, as Sam put that crisp draft day Jets hat on for the first time. We finally had “our guy!”  He was instantly the most promising quarterback prospect the team had selected since Joe Namath. I was giddy just thinking about all the possibilities…and…this was only the beginning!

That night, Sam gave me something I rarely have as a Jets fan.

That night, Sam gave me hope.  

Unfortunately, the Jets never gave Sam any in return.

Darnold Was Never Given Tools To Succeed in NY.

On Monday, the New York Jets traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, without ever giving him the proper tools to Take Flight.

They failed Darnold in every way imaginable. 

Long before any pandemic, Jets personnel should have been wearing masks while they robbed Sam of his opportunity in New York.

The organization had a responsibility to give their young quarterback everything he needed to win while still on his rookie contract. Instead, they gave him nothing.  They surrounded him with a shoddy supporting cast and never built an offensive line to protect their most valuable asset. They never even thought to hire an accomplished coordinator or QB coach to cultivate his unique talents and help him reach his potential. 

Their most damning decision was to hire an historically incompetent head coach to be Sam’s “Quarterback Whisperer.” Adam Gase was never the right coach to entrust the most critical years of Darnold’s development to.  He could never “coach football to where it was going.”  He was a football charlatan with a toxic personality and an archaic offensive scheme.

Everyone knew it from the day he was hired. Everyone saw it. Players, media, fans, opponents…everyone knew. That is, everyone except the one man on the planet who had the authority to make this decision: acting owner, Christopher Johnson.

Everyone Knew What Darnold Needed…Except The Jets

At times, it felt as if Johnson sat around and purposely hatched a plan to systematically stunt Sam’s growth. 

To be fair, Darnold didn’t do anything to help himself out.  His completion percentage was always too low and his interception totals were always too high.  On the field, he made plenty of bad decisions.  It’s just that his team’s decisions were always far worse.

The way the Jets failed to support their young QB was nothing short of football malpractice.  No QB in the league could have succeeded in the cesspool Darnold was stuck in.  

Other teams like the Bills, Browns and Ravens invested heavily in the pieces around their young stud QBs. As a result, Josh AllenBaker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson are all thriving members of the same QB class of 2018.  The Jets were negligent with Darnold from day one, and watched his window of opportunity close without ever getting a proper chance to see what kind of player he could be.

Through it all, the classy Darnold never pointed fingers.  He blindly defended Gase and always supported the organization’s position.  He consistently took the high road, even when he should have put his car in reverse.  He never made excuses, but he had plenty of them.

There was his nagging sprained foot in 2018, his Mono diagnosis in 2019 and busted shoulder early in 2020.  There’s no telling how any of these setbacks impacted his play because, well, he would never be caught telling anyone about them.  A true leader, Darnold shouldered all the blame instead.

Monday’s trade ends months of speculation.  Still only 23 years-old, and now fully healthy, Sam escapes New York and gets to work with a roster more talented than anything he ever had with the Jets. He’ll finally get his shot to work with elite offensive weapons like Christian McCaffreyDJ Moore and old buddy Robby Anderson.  He’ll have Head Coach Matt Rhule on his sideline and a true offensive guru, Joe Brady, in his ear.   

The Jets Will Likely Select BYU QB, Zach Wilson #2 Overall

Meanwhile, the Jets are certain to use the #2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft to take Sam’s successor – likely Zach Wilson of BYU.

Wilson is young, gifted and exciting.  He is incredibly accurate and has all-world arm talent.  He is also a perfect fit for the new west coast offensive Matt Lafleur will run under Head Coach, Robert Saleh.

Should Wilson be the pick, his arrival would give me something I rarely have as a Jets fan.  

Zach would give me hope. 

For his sake, the Jets must handle the critical early years of his development much differently than they did Darnold’s.

After all, Wilson deserves better.

We all do.

Without Sports

By Jason Klein

I can live without sports.

I just did it for nineteen weeks.

During a global pandemic, some things are hard to make sense of.  For me, one thing became very clear. IMG_3682

I can do it.  I can live without sports.

Long before this virus, my Grandma tried to put things in perspective for me.  It was 1997 and the Jets had just thrown another season away.  I was devastated.  I was inconsolable.  I needed time alone to collect my thoughts and regain control of my emotions.  Recognizing my agony, Grandma put her arm around me, leaned in, and whispered:

“Jason, dear…It’s just a game.”

Just a game?  Just a game?!

She was trying to trivialize one of the most important things in my life.  I couldn’t muster a coherent response.  I sat stewing in silence.  Sports were so much more than “just a game!”  Sports were my passion, my escape, my everything!  How could she not understand that?  How could my own Grandma be so insensitive?  How could someone with so much wisdom be so wrong?

It took me twenty-two years, but now I understand what she meant.

On March 12, 2020, the games stopped.  In that time, I learned how to live without them and better prioritize what really matters. nypostback 3-12-20

Without sports, I focus almost exclusively on my health, my safety and my ability to provide those two things for my family.  I’m more patient, more tolerant and more grateful for the things that I have.

Without sports, my calendar is empty, but my days are full.  While home schooling my daughters, I got to study the American Revolution and do art projects with my 4th grader.  I practiced sight words and built forts with my Kindergartener.  I became a Google Classroom savant and somehow figured out how to fill twelve hours, daily, with socially distant and educational activities.  I also gained immeasurable respect for the teachers who flourish in these demanding roles during normal times.


Home School With My Daughters

Spending all day, every day, with my children is a blessing and a challenge at the same time.  Coffee helps me perk up and tequila helps me wind down.  I have a better appreciation for my personal time.  I treasure small windows where I can exercise, read, or simply go to the bathroom without little fingers reaching under the door.

Without sports, I know the true value of Clorox wipes, Lysol spray, and a good mask that doesn’t pinch the back of my ears.  I appreciate short lines at the supermarket and a store shelf stocked with toilet paper.

Without sports, I can easily identify real heroes.  They’re the ones who work at the supermarket, deliver my mail, haul away my garbage and battle this disease on the frontline every day.  Healthcare workers, like my wife, make sacrifices to keep themselves and their families out of harm’s way.  It’s something we deal with in our home.  It’s nerve-racking, and at times, scary, but I’m thankful for the protective measures we’ve taken to secure a safe and comfortable living environment.


Staying Safe With My Family

Without sports, I’ve become a big fan of science, facts and rational thinking.  I’m grateful for those in our local community who follow suit.  They’re the ones who keep proper hygiene, maintain their distance and responsibly wear masks in public to protect others.  They’re also the ones who choose common sense and human decency over politics.  They set a good example and help me manage virus-related anxiety and paranoia.  I’m hopeful other parts of our country start to take things this seriously.

During our time without sports, this cruel and savage virus has separated us from our loved ones when we need them most.  I miss hugging my parents and having drinks with my friends.  I miss date nights with my wife and taking family vacations.

Pandemic life has been challenging.  It’s been exhausting.  It’s been stressful.

It’s been without sports.

Until tonight. Hal-Boone-Cashman-Masks

Major League Baseball returns this evening with a small dose of normalcy.  Typically the
soundtrack of my summer, baseball has been silent since mid-March.  An abbreviated 60 game season will start, but the virus determines if it will finish.  Empty stadiums, player testing, social distancing and masks in the dugout still might not be enough to prevent COVID-19 from upending MLB-20.

While it lasts, I’ll enjoy something familiar and reassuring.  I’ll take solace in the mental
escape sports provide.  It will be nice, for a change, to worry about Aaron Judge’s health instead of my own. IMG_3684

For many reasons, it can be argued that this is the most important season in baseball
history. Yet, if COVID cases rise, and more lives are at risk, baseball should stop in its tracks.  After all, my Grandma was right, baseball is just a game.  This virus, most certainly, is not.  Nineteen weeks later, I fully understand this.

I’ve learned I can live without sports.

With baseball back, I’m just glad I don’t have to anymore.


Old Jets Logo Was Cool…Like Kevin Arnold.

By Jason Klein

I always thought Kevin Arnold was the coolest.

He had Winnie Cooper, but more importantly, he had that vintage New York Jets jacket.

Played by Fred Savage, Kevin was the star of The Wonder Years, a family


Kevin Arnold Had Winnie Cooper…and That Jets Jacket.  So Cool.

comedy/drama that was “appointment TV” for me from 1988-1993.  Well before Netflix or Prime, I made sure I was in front of a TV when it aired each week.  Back then, the only thing streaming were tears…each time an episode’s moral tugged at your heartstrings.

Change was a central theme of the story that took place during the turbulent late 60s and early 70s. There were political changes, social changes, and tons of personal changes that Kevin experienced over the show’s 6-year run.

Through it all, one thing remained constant for Kevin.

That Jets jacket.

I loved that jacket. There was something so endearing about it.  The Jets have never really had a place among pop culture.  Their players didn’t star in commercials.  Musicians or rappers never performed in Jets jerseys or caps.  The Jets were never even the most popular football team in their own city.  Yet, there was the star of a primetime network hit wearing a Jets jacket every week.

Taking place between 1968-1973, Kevin’s jacket featured the logo made famous during


Joe Namath – Super Bowl III.

Super Bowl III.  It was the same emblem Joe Namath wore the day he wagged that finger and delivered a Lombardi Trophy.  Namath was always so cool.  With that Jets logo on his jacket, so was Kevin Arnold.

As it turns out, Broadway Joe will be the only quarterback to ever win a title with that logo on his helmet.

That’s a guarantee.

Later today, change is coming to the New York Jets.  At 7:30 PM, Gang Green will introduce a new uniform and logo.  It will be the team’s first wardrobe change since 1998.  That’s when Bill Parcells pulled a Marty McFly and went Back to the Future – bringing those famous Super Bowl III jerseys back.

They wore the throwbacks for 21 seasons, but could never repeat what Namath did.

Vinny Testaverde got close, once.  Mark Sanchez had two shots at immortality, but came up short.  Even Chad Pennington made 3 playoff appearances in those Namath-style threads, but his ring finger remained bare, like the Jets trophy case over the last 50 years.

Maybe change is good. Perhaps a new identity will turn the tide, improve karma and provide some positive feng shui over in East Rutherford.

With a new head coach and two young cornerstone players in Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams, this feels like the right time to move forward with a renewed identity.


Sam Darnold Wearing Old Jets Logo.

Still, there’s something special about continuity and tradition.

I watched Derek Jeter win five World Series in the same uniform my dad once watched Mickey Mantle win in.  Now, my daughters see Aaron Judge try to do the same thing.  The generations change, but the pinstripes never do.

There are rumors, and unconfirmed leaks on Twitter, that suggest this Jets update will maintain some elements of the old logo.  I’d like that.  We’ll know for sure after tonight.

If I can’t have that classic logo, or Winnie Cooper for that matter, I’ll take a Super Bowl victory in whatever uniform they trot out tonight.

That would be cool.

Even cooler than Kevin Arnold.


Like Parcells, Gase Has Chance To Change Jets Identity, 50 Years After Super Bowl III

By Jason Klein

Fifty years.

That’s how long it’s been since the New York Jets won a Super Bowl.

Hell, that’s how long it’s been since they even appeared in the big game.

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Super Bowl III.  January 12, 1969 is this team’s identity.  It’s the defining moment in their franchise’s history and it happened 50 years ago today.


Parcells Took Over in 1997.  Gase Gets His Shot in 2019.

Yes.  Fifty!

Imagine being best known for something you accomplished a half century ago.

When will the narrative change?  Well, it’s been 22 years since their last, best chance.  In 1997, after winning just 4 of their previous 32 games, the Jets hired the coach they thought could rescue them from irrelevance and completely change everything.  This week, they did it again.

Tuna then. A Dolphin now.

There are a lot of similarities between what Bill Parcells faced in 1997 and what former Miami Head Coach, Adam Gase is about to take on.

Both inherited a floundering Jets franchise in desperate need of a new beginning.

Parcells’ rescue mission followed the team’s historically horrible two-year run from 1995-1996.  He began the makeover in his second season by introducing new uniforms.  He brought back a modern version of the team’s jerseys worn between 1964-1977, a tribute to that only Super Bowl team in franchise history.

Next, he added a ton of new players.  Game-changing players.  Names like Curtis Martin, Kevin MawaeKeith Byars and Bryan Cox.  They brought a new attitude and gave the team instant credibility.

Finally, he found a top-level Quarterback.  Vinny Testaverde arrived, leading the Jets to a Division Title, a 12-4 record and a trip to the AFC Championship Game.  Though they fell one win short of a Super Bowl appearance, the team had clearly turned a corner.

When Gase is introduced as the new HC of the NYJ on Monday afternoon, he’ll also inherit a team coming off a historically horrible run.  Over the last three seasons, they’ve won just 14 of their previous 48 games.

namath-darnold edited

Sam Darnold Hopes To Be First Jets QB Since Joe Namath To Win a Super Bowl For Jets.

Like Parcells, Gase will attempt to change the team’s identity.

New uniforms are coming this spring.  With the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and close to $100M in cap space, Gase and GM Mike Maccagnan must find new, game-changing players like Parcells once did.  Lucky for Gase, he’s already got the QB in Sam Darnold.

Both Parcells and Gase took over Jets teams at pivotal junctures in franchise history.  They were both hired by questionable ownerships with limited football knowledge.  Gase also takes on an angry, skeptical fanbase who is tired of losing, just as Parcells did.

Parcells was able to quickly flip the script and almost get that elusive second Lombardi Trophy for the Jets.  Now Adam Gase has his chance.

“I’m excited about him coming,” said Joe Namath, the man under center 50 years ago today.  “I believe he can do it.”

If he does, according to acting owner, Christopher Johnson, he’ll be a “Freaking Legend.”  It’s been a freaking long time since this team had any real legends to celebrate.

Fifty years, to be exact.


Darnold Gives Jets Fans Like Me Hope.

By Jason Klein

Thursday night, I left the Meadowlands with a win.

I’ve walked out of there many times through the years.  This time felt different, though.

Inside, there were no passes thrown, no yards gained and no touchdowns scored.  My team gained no ground in the standings either.

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Sam Darnold – Drafted 3rd Overall By The Jets.

I still left with a win, and it was unlike any victory I’ve experienced in that stadium, or the old one.

I won because I left with hope.

Like, long-term hope. Like, hey, I might have several years of meaningful football ahead of me kind of hope.  Maybe even a decade of hope.  Maybe even more.

Thursday night, I left the Meadowlands after the New York Jets selected Sam Darnold with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL Draft.  I was there, watching along with other Jets fans, at the team’s 2018 Draft Party.  When Darnold put on that crisp Jets cap and held up that green jersey, he immediately became the most promising prospect to play Quarterback for the Jets since Joe Namath left forty years ago.

He was not expected to be available for the Jets to select.  Like so many of the games I’ve watched in that Stadium, I felt Darnold was just a little out of reach. Too good to be true.  Not meant-to-be.

I was wrong.

Somehow, as I watched inside MetLife Stadium, Darnold, arguably the top Quarterback in the draft, miraculously fell into the Jets lap.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen to the Jets. Ever.  This is a team that finds a way to lose, even when they win.  Not this time, though.


Attending the Jets Draft Party at MetLife Stadium

Mark it down as a “W.”

I’ve waited a long time for this.

I had a Ken O’Brien jersey as a kid.  I traded that for a Boomer Esiason uniform.  Browning Nagle and Glenn Foley were teases.  I never bought into Neil O’Donnell, but I fell hard for Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington.  Mark Sanchez brought me closer to a Lombardi Trophy than anyone since Vinny…twice. Ultimately, he had the rug pulled out from under him.  Brett Favre was a gimmick.  Tim Tebow was a distraction.  Geno Smith was never the answer and Ryan Fitzpatrick was a bearded bridge to nowhere.

So many different Quarterbacks through the years.  Some showed the promise to rise above the ineptitude that has so often hampered this organization.  All of them ended up sinking, one way or another, deep into the swamps of Jersey.

Unfulfilled potential. Unfortunate injuries.  Undermined by management.  Unbelievable misfortune.

This is different. Landing Darnold is a franchise-changing victory.

Sure, he could be a bust. He could turn out to be just another name to add to the list of failed Jets Quarterbacks.  We won’t know that for several years.

But, what if he succeeds? What if he’s a true Franchise Quarterback?  What if he leads the Jets to the playoffs?  What if he gets one of those Lombardi Trophies?  What if he gets more?

What if he has a long, historic career for the Jets?  Like, a 10-12 year career?  My daughters are in 2nd grade and pre-school now.  What if Sam Darnold is still the Quarterback of the Jets when they’re in college?  What if?


Darnold Introduced to New York.

That’s what makes this pick a win. A conquest so different than all the others I’ve seen through the years in East Rutherford, NJ.

It’s the hope.  It’s the optimism.  It’s the faith and belief in my team that I’ve lacked for far too long now.

Sports fans need hope. Without it, what’s the point?  Why spend the time or the money?  Without hope, rooting for a team becomes a robotic ritual. Passionless and pointless.

I want my Sundays in the Fall to matter.  I want to trust in a process and be confident in a plan.

The last few years, I’ve watched this team with indifference.  There seemed to be no strategy for the future. Drafting Sam Darnold changes that.

Drafting Sam Darnold gives me hope.

For me, that’s a win.


When My Daughter Had a Question, Twitter Stepped Up To The Plate!

By Jason Klein

My daughter asked a question.

36,852 people answered.

Little league registration was due, but something bothered my 7 year-old.  She wanted to know if baseball was a sport for girls too.  I tried to reassure her.  Our town doesn’t have softball for her age group, so I reminded her how much fun she had last season playing baseball.

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With My Daughter, Last Season.

I also pointed out the other three girls we had on our team.  We reminisced over all the times we’ve played catch and watched Yankees games together.  I even pulled up old YouTube videos of Mo’ne Davis’s dominance during the 2014 Little League World Series.  She still had her doubts.

I decided to do what any reasonable and resourceful parent would do in 2018.

I tweeted.

I asked Twitter users for their opinion: “RT to show my daughter she’s not alone…” I pleaded.  “I told her baseball is DEFINITELY a sport for girls, too.  She’s skeptical & I want to show her how many people agree with me.  Thank you!”

As a second grader, she doesn’t know what social media is yet.  She can proudly count “all the way to 100,” though.  I thought, if I could somehow get a hundred people to back me up, I’d make her a believer.

Fortunately, I did a little better than that.

Over 3,000 people retweeted my post within the first 24 hours.  That’s when Jessica Mendoza (@JessMendoza) of ESPN decided to lend her support.

Mendoza has her finger squarely on baseball’s pulse.  As an announcer for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, she consumes baseball daily.  She’s also been criticized for being a women broadcasting a “men’s sport.”  Certainly, my daughter’s concerns resonated with her.

“Sports, any sport, is for everyone,” Mendoza tweeted to me…and her 107K followers!  “Tell your daughter I not only agree with you but I’ve got her back!!! Go play!”

After that, my tweet’s statistics rose faster than Aaron Judge’s home run totals.

Major League Baseball’s official Twitter handle (@MLB) got involved, addressing my daughter’s trepidation with their 8.1 million followers!

“We agree!  Baseball is for everyone.” They tweeted.

Mo’ne Davis (@Monee__11) – the same Mo’ne Davis I had used as an example earlier in the week – then jumped in.

“I definitely think she can hang with them and be better than them.” Davis tweeted.  “That’s coming from a girl who has done it before.”

Even Little League Baseball’s official account (@LittleLeague) chimed in, urging me to “Tell your daughter we’d love to have her, and any other girl, playing Little League Baseball this year.”

If that wasn’t inspiring enough, the USA Women’s National Team (@USABaseballWNT), Play Ball (@PlayBall) and Justine Siegal (@JustineBaseball) – the first woman hired as an MLB coach and founder of Baseball For All – all chimed in with encouraging words.

From there, hundreds of celebrities, athletes, organizations, leagues and journalists caught wind.  So did thousands of everyday Twitter users: men and women, old and young, all willing to support my message and share their own personal stories with me.

Hundreds of parents sent me pictures and newspaper clippings of their own daughters playing ball.  Many told me that the best player on their son’s team was female.  All of them insisted that baseball was a sport for girls too, and wished my daughter luck with her upcoming season.


Baseball Is For Girls, Too!

The response was humbling.

By March 11, 2018, my tweet garnered 36,852 retweets, 42,036 likes, over 2,600 personal comments and more than 3.7 Million impressions.  I also received direct messages from many supporters, including writer Jacob Bogage (@jacobbogage).  Bogage was so impressed, he decided to write a feature on us for the Washington Post.

Just incredible.

I set out looking to build my daughter’s confidence by having a little fun on social media.

I ended up starting a positive and empowering conversation for young girls looking to simply do what makes them happy…play ball!

I want my daughter to grow up believing she has the same opportunities as boys.  I want her to do what she loves, be confident in herself and accepting of others.  My tweet helped reveal thousands of other parents who feel the same way.

Twitter is often filled with so much negativity.  Many times, it’s directed at women.  I’m happy I could temporarily change the dialog and motivate thousands of people to join in the conversation.

Although my daughter is more impressed by candy and treats than Likes and Tweets, she is convinced that baseball is a sport all girls can play, watch and enjoy.  She even signed up for her second season of Little League.

No questions asked, this time.

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