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Sherman Says: Sunday provides the opportunity to stand up and be counted

HAMBURG — Anyone who claims there is nothing to do in Buffalo should look no farther than this Sunday.

For practicing Christians, it is Palm Sunday and, therefore, the beginning of Holy Week. Even if you do not attend church regularly, getting blessed palms on this day has a special, spiritual meaning.

Palm Sunday commemorates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and was welcomed by a huge crowd of supporters. Palm branches lined the streets.

So that takes care of a big part of your morning.

At 1:05 that afternoon, the Buffalo Bisons are scheduled to host the Pawtucket Red Sox at Coca-Cola Field. The minor league season has just begun and the Bisons, farm club of the Toronto Blue Jays, should see a strong opponent in the farm team of the world champion, Boston Red Sox.

Pawtucket has an outfielder on its roster named Peter, placing him in a pivotal situation just seven days before Easter. But his last name may give you a fit. It’s “Hissey.” The Red Sox team also has a catcher named Christian Vazquez.

The baseball game should last until approximately 4 p.m. The third stop of your day should be the Buffalo Sabres’ season finale against the visiting New York Islanders, at 5. The First Niagara Arena is just a couple of blocks from the ballpark; so close that you can attend both events, and leave your car in the same location.

Ironically, both visiting sports teams have a guy whose first name is Brock. How often has that happened?

Brock Holt, the pride of Fort Worth, Texas, hasn’t yet played a game in the big leagues. But I find it ironic that he and two other players were traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Boston Red Sox, in exchange for an infielder named Ivan De Jesus Jr. and three other lads, the day after Christmas 2012.

Brock Nelson, a center for the Islanders, hails from scenic Warroad, Minn. Believe it or not, his uncle, Dave Christian, was a member of the 1980 United States Olympic Gold Medal-winning team. His grandfather Billy Christian and great-uncle Roger Christian played on Team USA’s 1960 Gold Medal-winning men’s hockey team.

And, as a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, Nelson made his professional debut against a team from “Providence.”

Each of us is on a journey, not through minor league sports teams, but through life. Our Jewish readers will observe Passover on April 15.

Personally, I did not do a stellar job with any Lenten sacrifices this year, except for ignoring the soft drink machine at work. If any of my contemporaries fared any better, I would love to hear about it.

As kids, we gave up candy and saved coins in study cardboard boxes, to be turned over to the parish church. Today, I think it might be fun to spend two-thirds of a sacred Sunday in the presence of overpaid athletes.

The first Palm Sunday was as glorious as a perfect game or a 50-save shutout. What followed in the week ahead, according to the Bible, was anything but pleasant. Yet, when your favorite sports team ends the year in last place, the season concludes with a thud. There is no tomorrow. Easter tell us that there is a tomorrow.

So, on behalf of Peter Hissey, Christian Vazquez, Brock Holt, Brock Nelson, Dave Christian, Billy Christian, Roger Christian and everyone who lives in Providence, keep in mind how this string of ironies came to be. All of us knows what it feels like to be praised one day and chastised the next.

We all have a little more than a week to give up something we like, or do something above and beyond the norm, to demonstrate spiritual strength. As kids, we were told that sacrifice would earn us a measure of divine intervention. Western New Yorkers will have that opportunity as soon as Sunday.

Where will you be?

David Sherman is the managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.
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