Brothers: Best Friends, Worst Enemies and the Greatest Inventors 

​Brothers are best friends and worst enemies… strongest ally and biggest rival. I know… I have one, I live that so called “sibling rivalry.” I’ve made him eat dirt and thrown him through a wall (literally through) and he broke my nose. I also would want him by my side if there was something going down (unless Chuck Norris or Conor McGregor were available). Now I get to watch two brothers play this game of sibling chess from the outside looking in. 

Everyone gave the warnings, “expect the worst. Jax is going to regress, he’s going to be full of anger and jealousy. He’ll be completely uninterested in the baby… he won’t understand the change. The first time they meet Jax might hit him.” 

There were nerves all around that day in the nursery. We set the meet and greet up w caution and care. It was like setting your best friend up on a blind date. “Dont worry, it’ll be great, he’ll totally get you!” “You guys will hit it off right off the bat.” “Just be yourself and it’ll all be fine.”

Rewind 30+ years ago… I’m told I didn’t handle the situation very well. My little brother didn’t get such a warm welcome upon his entry into this world. But that was short lived. We enjoyed a ton of fun, experienced many life altering situations and caused/got into our fair share of trouble. From snake attacks, to the steam roller, to the babysitter who sprayed potpourri everywhere, enduring bringing home another sibling… this time a sister, to pillow wars on thanksgiving resulting in vomiting turkey and stuffing everywhere… to running the courts in the Bronx with the “neighborhood ‘friends’ who carried knives”… to car clubs and booming systems and holding each other’s blocks at the starting line and winning gold and setting hurdle records togethercollege roommates… well that’s another story. Let’s just say a Britney Spears poster, a comforter and a gallon of spackle saved us a lot of money that year. However, I’m pretty sure the best thing to come out of our relationship was the invention of the Olympic pending sport “All Out Basketball.” Imagine living in the northeast where winter pretty much kills the idea of playing basketball on outdoor courts… even with a shovel and some ice melt… there no way to have a “real game.” Dribbling is impossible, there’s no traction and the backboard can shatter with one erratic shot. 

Enter… ALL OUT BASKETBALL. A basketball based, rugby, football hybrid. It’s designed for icy backyard courts and is best played when wearing boots and 14 layers of clothing. It allows the competitors to combine the best parts of all three sports and is perfect for brothers because of its violent nature. No dribbling and a hoop low enough to dunk like you were Vince Carter in his early days (NOTE: Just for clarification… I could dunk on a 10 foot rim too). The game was played on a shotty shoveled outdoor court and competitors benefited from a slightly deflated ball (we were the Tom Brady of the neighborhood) and often resulted in ripped snow pants and fractured limbs. But it was fun… and Vinny and I are still holding out hopes the IOC will adopt it for the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Fast forward, back to February 2017… a dimly lit nursery on a cold and snowy (ironic) day. Jackson carefully selected a present for his new little brother and partner in crime. Although his first choice of a Sudoku book, was not the best pick… the blue puppy stuffed animal was perfect. He repeated, “Me hug, kiss baby Ollie.” The whole way down the hallway and up the elevator… although he had time to spell his name and count to ten for the lady who didn’t think he could find the D button for her on the elevator.  

Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited me the first time I met Rickey Henderson or the first time Jackson met his brother Oliver. The look of excitement and honestly… the look of love was immediate (I say love because I want to believe it was love and not the look of trouble). Jackson presented Ollie with the stuffed animal he picked out and Oliver gave Jax a present too… a recycled Christmas gift that Santa had left behind… an Olaf talking figure. It was love at first sight, and he liked Oliver too. 

The meeting wasn’t long, it didn’t need to be. It was the perfect amount of hugs, kisses and questions. Jackson talked about Oliver the entire ride home, all night and all the next day until he got to hug and kiss baby Ollie again. Jackson met his new best friend and Oliver met his new body guard. As a dad you can’t ask for much more. 

Here’s to hoping these two invent something together as cool, if not cooler, than “All Out Basketball!”

Carmine D. Tiso (The OG Carmine) 8.22.26 – 11.25.16


I grew up with parents who were loving, caring, supportive and generous. I owe so much of who I am to them… but there was always something about my grandparents that had me captivated.  I loved their house on Charles Place and the giant oak tree that we would spend hours sitting in front of and talking about life. That entire house smelled older, worn but safe; the aroma of nan’s perfume and hairspray filled the house. But it was pop’s calming voice that always made me feel loved and happy.

Legacy is what every man lives for. Whether it’s fame, fortune, love or the simple fact of leaving behind a name that will carry with it the utmost respect for eternity. Carmine is just that… whether you knew him as Uncle Junior (Sooranos reference), Uncle Carmine, Babe or Pop… Carmine will forever carry with it images of a selfless man who loved his family more than anything else in this world. He was a man who stood up for what he believed in and never told you what you wanted to hear. He told you the truth. He was my Professor Dumbledore even before Harry Potter was published. I learned to value what I hold near and dear to me and that the choices we make are at the heart of who we are.

I still remember the day I told him I was giving up baseball and taking up track… the silence was short… but his words were strong… “Are you crazy?!!” It was hard feeling like you disappointed the man you looked up to, the person who taught you everything you knew about sports. But when he learned how serious I was he supported me more than anyone… that was him. Say what you mean and mean what you say and support those who mean most to you. When he knew you did he believed in you. To him, “words were, in his not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” He didn’t always say he loved you, but you knew he did.

I had more conversations about the Yankees with him than Mike Francesca had with Chris Russo. I learned how to turn a double play like Phil Rizzutto, I learned how to shoot a jump shot (by the way… I never ever once beat him in around the world), and recently he taught me how to hit my 5 iron. Those are the images that will forever be burned into my mind.

But for me and anyone who knew him it was who he was in the quiet times that made you love him. Whether it was a long time customer who came in to ask his advice on an air conditioner he sold them in 1983, or a granddaughter who couldn’t wait for a plate of pasta on a Tuesday night, he was always there.

He was a Military Veteran, but refused to think of himself equal to others who served out country. He would often tell a story of his cousin who was fighting on the front lines in Germany. He would write home from overseas and tell Pop to be careful and stay safe. Pop, at the time, was playing baseball for the army, traveling up and down the East Coast entertaining the troops… He called it the “Battle of the Hudson!”He would tell this story and with a laugh say, “he’s getting shot at by Nazis and he’s telling me to stay safe… like crossing the Hudson River on a bus for a doubleheader was more dangerous than that!”

When nan passed away… I honestly think I learned what real selflessness was. He went to that cemetery everyday. He planted grass seed (and for everyone who knew him you weren’t surprised that it was the greenest, most well groomed plot of grass in the whole cemetery). He loved her more than he loved anything in this world and he never let anyone forget it. He loved her more than an Eli Manning touchdown pass, more than nan’s potato and egg sandwiches, even more than a Yankee World Series championship… although that was definitely a close second.

I once read a quote that said “today is a new day. God gave us the this day to use as we will. what we do today is important because we are exchanging a day out of our life for it. When tomorrow comes this day will be gone, leaving in its place that which we traded it for. We want it to be good, not evil, gain not loss, success not failure.”

That was pop… if you were to measure a man’s life against that quote… then he won. He was a legend who left behind a legacy of good, gain and success. He leaves behind family, friends, a grandson and great grandson (both who share his name) and both who will forever be better people because of him.

Until we meet again (and I finally get that rematch in around the world)… Rest easy Pop… and tell Nan I love her.

 

 

Run Fast, Turn Left, Be First

 

Perfect leg turnover

Imagine your worst nightmare and now imagine your best dream… Now overlap them and that’s the perfect analogy for running. If you’ve ever played a sport you know the worst part of every practice was the last 30 minutes or so… Because you had to run.

So it makes perfect sense that I would decide to chose the sport where you literally only run. I mean you literally just run. That’s the actual sport… The worst part of every other sport is actually a sport in its own right.

And I loved it. I loved every second of it. And I hated it. I hated every second of it. I guess that’s true love? Fall in love for not the good parts that make you happy, but fall in love for how happy you are even during the bad parts.

I can’t wait to be able take Jax out on the track for the first time. I’m excited to hurdle with him… At least until he can beat me… Then it’s really time to retire.

Run fast, turn left, be first.

On a Serious Note: A Dad’s Mortality

I am a former Division I College Athlete. I attended college on a track and field scholarship. I still run, I work out at least three times a week. I haven’t had fast food in 30 years. I don’t eat sweets, I don’t drink soda and I drink more than eight glasses of water a day.

Yet as I sit here writing this I’m struggling with the fact that a recent physical labeled me as being at risk for heart issues due to family history and my triglyceride levels. How the hell is this possible? There’s got to be mix up right? You’d be hard pressed to find many people who live a healthier lifestyle than me. Yes, I do enjoy a good IPA when I’m in the mood, and don’t skip out on a few slices of pizza if we order it, but how did this happen and what does it mean moving forward?

This blog has been amazing in two ways, one it let’s me record Jackson’s journey growing up and two it’s allowed me to come to terms with some of my own issues…both funny and more serious ones. I have yet to discuss my fear of death. Although that is a whole separate issue it still plays a role in today’s writing…

Dealing with my own mortality. I have lost family members and friends way too early in life. My grandfather passed away when I was nine, my godfather, my aunt, my grandmother… A former teammate. How do I deal with the fact that my health, something I prided myself in maintaining could become an issue for me.

I’m sure there are medications I can take and certain foods I can avoid if I’m not already… But that’s not the issue for me. The mental part is what I have always wrestled with. But now, it’s not just me I’m worried about. It’s Jax. I don’t want to miss anything and I don’t want him to have to worry about me.

I’m not sure this entry had a point or was worth reading for anyone… Or if it even had a point. Hopefully for me though it will open up some doors that I previously didn’t want to open. The plan is to spend some more time thinking this through and doing a short series of writings on this topic, which will hopefully give some advice and generate some talk on the subject of healthy lifestyles.

Random 3AM Dad Thoughts

No crying baby… No barking dogs… No fireworks… And I’m wide awake.

Tonight’s brain wave activity is at an AllTime high.

Thoughts over the last 45 minutes:

-I’m in the mood to floss my teeth
-Why can’t I get this one booger out of my nose
-how old will I be when Jax has kids
-is it still snowing
-why did I have that last glass of red wine
-how do you get a verified twitter account
-I know that booger is in there somewhere, I can feel it move every time I breathe
-can dogs floss their teeth
-is Steve Martin still alive
-should I build a basketball court in the backyard
-the damn pine trees I planted in August are sagging again
-is it too early for coffee
-I need a tissue
-what’s for breakfast
-I need to pee again
-I want a blog follower from Italy
-I wonder if my college track & field “speed suit” uniform still fits
-I miss hurdling
-will Jax play baseball or run track
-Am I at the age where I should start wearing a robe more often
-does the aluminum foil hat Mel Gibson wears in signs really work
-where did that booger go
-Why am I awake………………….

PS: I did look good in that speed suit!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/63b/79650087/files/2015/01/img_1179.jpg

6.8.14. – Hurdle Champ

tumblr_n6xlymTuE01talaxzo1_1280

As a new dad, part of the excitement is sharing your passion for sports with your child. I can not wait to play catch with my son for the first time, shoot hoops or toss around a football. But for me there is just something about being able to say my son saw me hurdle that I have been really excited about. The BHS Alumni Track Meet allowed for just that this past weekend. Although there’s no way I can compete with the 18 year old me going over the hurdles, I still cleared them all and fought off all challengers to defend my throne! A Gold medal- 1st place finish with my son watching was an incredible feeling. I’m glad you were able to be there with me Jax.

Now if I might just share an aside here… Sportsmanship is supremely important to all athletes, but not at the expense of doing your thing out there! I think there must be some aura that still shines brightly around me, because I felt the fans cheering and the reporters’ cameras clicking as I coasted over those 10 barriers. As I crossed the finish line I felt as if it were 1998 again. Then I just upped and left… Said my goodbyes, gathered up the kid and wife and walked off victoriously into the sunset. Now that’s a Power Move if I’ve ever seen one. Show up, Dominate, then disappear mysteriously and let the people remember you as a legend.