Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 25th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

There seems to be an emoji for everything.

Every facet of life, every emotion, can be expressed with the appropriate smiley face.


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I’ve yet to find one that depicts an idiot.

I needed one of those to accurately reflect my level of stupidity and embarrassment following a brief Twitter spat with Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander a few days ago.

There I was ringside at the Claridge on Saturday night, close enough to the action to have to wipe drops of sweat and blood off my laptop and iPhone.

Between boxing bouts, I was scrolling through Twitter and noticed that reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mike Trout, a Millville native, had registered his first career hole-in-one while golfing at a Phoenix course Friday.

Trout said he used a 56-degree wedge to ace the 127-yard second — this 58-year-old golfer needs at least a 9-iron to hit it that far — at Raven Golf Club. He was playing golf after playing the first half of the Angels’ Cactus League game earlier that day.

“A lot of golf played, but the first one ever,” Trout, who is a 6-handicap, told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday. “It’s pretty cool.”

I thought back to my first — and only — ace. It happened in 2003, when I was playing Harbor Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township with former Press colleague Mark Simenson.

With a strong wind at our backs — it was actually the day before a tropical storm passed by — I flushed an 8 iron from 162 yards away. Neither of us could find the ball on the green. Finally, I looked in the cup and saw a Titleist NXT at the bottom.

I started yelling and thought about disrobing.

Mark’s reaction?

“Nice shot.”

Because he didn’t drink, I only had to spring for a Diet Coke in the clubhouse afterward.

Trout apparently also got off easy at the course, though the Angels are planning on cashing in on his feat.

“We missed the round of drinks, but he’s going to buy a couple of lunches for us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Times, adding that Trout would provide In-N-Out Burger and Dominican food.

But some people didn’t seem that impressed.

News of Trout’s feat was was followed by a Tweet by Verlander that read, “If this ‘alleged’ hole in one is true I think u should pick any AL hotel and every player gets a free drink #RulesAreRules #ace.”

He also wrote, “Video or it didn’t happen,” followed by three emojis that symbolized nausea.

I almost threw up.

Instead of realizing he was merely having fun with a buddy, I stupidly thought Verlander was suggesting that Trout had made up the ace.

“Seriously?” I wrote. “How many recreational rounds of golf do you video?”

Ten minutes later, Verlander responded.

“No Dave.... I was not serious.”

He even included one of those smiley faces with rolling eyes.

On one level, I supposed I should have been flattered that Verlander had taken the time to respond. He must be pretty busy, between getting ready for the upcoming season and trying to keep teammates from ogling the photos of his fiance, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton, who’s almost wearing some terrific swimsuits in this year’s issue.

But I should have known better than to think he was questioning Trout’s honesty.

I quickly apologized.

If I could have attached an appropriate emoji, I would have added it.

Update: The power of prayer is real.

That’s clear by the way you reacted to my recent Extra Points column about the plight of Jerry Griffin, a 28-year-old Cape May/Lower Township teacher and baseball coach who suffered multiple strokes two weeks ago while working out at a local gym.

On Saturday, Griffin’s sister Alison wrote on his GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $92,000, that Jerry was discharged from Cooper University Hospital that day and was transferred to a Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation to begin “acute rehab.”

He was able to stand with the help of two staff members at Cooper and is now breathing on his own and “tolerating a puree diet with thickened liquids.”

Here’s more from Alison: “We have read a few of the cards that have been sent to Jerry & it’s been very emotional for him as you can imagine. We would like to thank everyone for keeping us in your thoughts & prayers. Your love & support has been keeping us going.”

(David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.)



Twitter @pressacweinberg


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