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Dykstra: Memorial Day's True Meaning

Sports may grab a lot of attention on this holiday, but don't forget who the real heroes are.

Today, the Mets have opened up a 4 1/2 game lead on the Braves in the National League East, after the Braves were unceremoniously swept by the Phillies over the weekend. The Brewers, despite a recent losing streak, still enjoy a comfortable lead in the NL Central, where the remaining four clubs are well below .500. In contradistinction, four of the five teams in the NL West are above .500, with the Dodgers enjoying a scant 1/2-game lead over the Padres.

In the American League, the Red Sox continue to run away from the field in the East as they enjoy an 11-game lead while the rest of the division is significantly below .500. The Indians enjoy a 2 1/2-game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central, after sweeping them over the weekend, while the Angels have opened a 4 1/2 game lead in the AL West.

The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight with the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators vying to become first-time winners. Unfortunately, these great athletes, competing to fulfill lifelong dreams, will be doing so in relative obscurity. Meanwhile, on the hardwood, the Spurs lead the Jazz 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals. Similarly, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons lead the Cavaliers 2-1.

The French Open began on the red clay at Roland Garros, with Roger Federer on a quest to win the only Grand Slam title to elude him thus far in his illustrious career. On another track, Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500, in a race shortened to 166 laps by rain.

Memorial Day weekend is characterized by families getting together, barbecuing, and sharing good times. The athletic events we witness, either live or on television, emphasize the importance of teamwork in the pursuit of victory. However, the true meaning of today is to reflect and remember the men and women who were the ultimate team players.

Undeniably, it can weaken one's knees to face The Rocket in the heat of battle. Imagine the fear of facing a rocket launcher in an unknown location with an unknown signature.

Hockey goalies are often labeled as "certifiable" for their willingness to allow professional snipers to fire slap shots approaching 100 mph at them. What label do you assign to individuals who knowingly enter an arena devoid of demarcation or boundaries, populated by snipers with real bullets?

We marvel at the training regimens of elite athletes. How about the relentless training of our elite "special-ops" personnel? Knowledgeable sports fans appreciate and admire athletes who "give themselves up" for the benefit of the team. But can we truly compare the blocking fullback who was first through the hole to the soldier who was first through the door?

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Granted, hitting to the right side of the infield to move the runner to third often results in an out for the batter and a small dip in his batting average. On the other hand, protecting the opposite flank can sometimes render batting averages irrelevant.

Hence, as we view finely tuned athletes competing on world stages today, reflect on those individuals who knowingly and willingly sacrifice for us, every day. When you hear

The Star-Spangled Banner

, listen carefully to the words, and embrace their meaning. As you revel in the company of family, embracing those you love, reflect and sympathize with those families who are unable to embrace a loved one because he or she is no longer with us.

The Players Club recognizes that our holiday celebrations should not be taken for granted. Moreover, the freedom to plan and participate in family gatherings is a blessing. We are forever indebted to the legions of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for the team. Furthermore, we realize that the dedication and commitment of the men and women in our armed forces is unparalleled. Thank you for allowing us to embrace our families and capture all the precious moments.

Always remember:

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.

Nicknamed "Nails" for his tough style of play during his Major League Baseball career, Lenny Dykstra was an integral member of the powerful Mets of the mid-1980s, including the world champion 1986 squad, and the Phillies in the early 1990s.

Today, Dykstra manages his own stock portfolio and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a state-of-the-art ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California.