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Hustle Series: Darren Meenan and The 7 Line

You’ve all heard a story that intimates that a successful business that once started in “the basement of their home.” In the case of Darren Meenan, this isn’t a stretch. It’s fact. What started with Darren, a huge New York Mets fan, wearing a simple t-shirt he made that stated “I Survived” in 2009, ended up becoming the wildly successful, “The 7 Line.”

Meenan didn’t just settle on the fact a number of people asked about that one shirt. He sensed an opportunity and created his hustle. It began with equipment he bought on eBay and he created a few shirts in his parent’s basement. Since Mets fans (myself included) haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2006, Darren used these t-shirts to echo fans sentiment. One design said, “I Was Born into This Mess.” What Mets fan doesn’t feel that way sometimes? As 2009 turned into 2010, his hustle and entrepreneurial spirit began to pay off.

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

Photo Courtesy- ESPN.com

By wearing newer designs to Citi Field, the word began to spread about The 7 Line and Darren’s quality of work. It also didn’t hurt that he worked hard to spread the word, as well. Darren held signs with his website around the ballpark, some of which showed up on TV. More shirts, more exposure equals needing more space. So, Darren moved into a warehouse not too far from the ballpark.

While Darren’s story sounds like it happened overnight, it didn’t. He needed to work hard to conceptualize, print, and distribute everything with little help. His hustle has been featured on, among others, CNN Money and in the New York Times. Oh, and a little show called “30 Rock” featured Darren’s shirts, by request from the producers.

Darren has even been able to get the support from Mets’ players. A few years back, he traveled to spring training a gave a bunch to hand out in the clubhouse. Now, that’s hustle (and smart marketing, too). Mets players loved them and can be seen wearing the shirts before and after games.

Despite the Mets struggles, you’ll never hear a negative word from Darren. While fans may be frustrated, his hustle has helped create a new faction of fans. He thought it would be a great idea for Mets diehards to sit together, cheer on and support the team. “The 7 Line Army” was born. That one game spawned into the army not just going to games at Citi Field, but Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Francisco to name a few.

Darren’s ability to bring fans together with his infectious attitude and excitement is a testament to dedication, hard work, and a never-ending hustle. See, Darren loves what he does because he works hard at it. He doesn’t cut corners. No one who hustles the right way does that. The Mets even noticed and The 7 Line now has a kiosk at Citi Field and is a licensed Major League Baseball brand.

What’s next? Darren has mentioned in interviews and on Twitter that he wants to open a bar one day next to Citi Field. If his hustle with The 7 Line is any indication, the bar will be a huge hit.

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ARod, PEDs: MLB’s Continuing PR Problem

The news (finally) came down on Aug. 5 that New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season. Thirteen other Major League Baseball players were also banned, including Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers. But when is a suspension not a suspension? When ARod decides to appeal and is active on the Yankee roster.

Courtesy: AP

Courtesy: AP

ARod being allow to being allowed to play is all part of the appeal process. So, there he was in Chicago Monday night: batting cleanup in the Yankee order, all while being accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs. Despite MLB Commissioner Bud Selig levying the bans, ARod playing and the possibility of more players essentially cheating is a huge public relations problem. But why? Didn’t baseball do the right thing? Sure they did. Selig and Co. had the evidence in the Biogenesis case to suspend the offenders. It’s not going to end the issue, though.

1. ARod’s appeal and case– With Rodriguez’s announcement that he will appeal his unprecedented 211 game ban, this has a chance to get ugly for MLB and the Yankees. In 2008, ARod admitted he used PEDs once before. While the Bronx Bombers aren’t directly connected, ARod is still on the active roster. Every city he goes to until the appeal is heard is going to be a nightmare. It will constantly be on every sports network and in news coverage. Once the appeal is heard, what if MLB’s positions aren’t found to be valid? Now you have a league that suspended a player and they didn’t have proper evidence.

2. Bud Selig’s legacy- The Commish has been in his position (officially) since 1998. In his time, he’s done some terrific things: the Wild Card, revenue sharing and interleague play. However, the big mark on his tenure has been PEDs and the steroid issue. It is well documented that steroids were rampant in the game as the 2000’s were on its way. Selig has denied that he was to blame. While it is hard to just pin it on him, he is baseball’s “CEO”; you need to have control over your business.

3. Baseball may never be totally “clean”- Here is what Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3B tweeted on Monday:

Sure, it is a step. But the problem is there will always be others that try to cheat. Players like future hall-of-famers Ken Griffey, Jr and Derek Jeter have, presumably, played the game clean. But did they? There’s even been rumblings about Mike Piazza, the all-time home run leader for catchers, as being a steroid user (it’s never been proven and Piazza never failed a drug test as a player). Sadly, those players are under the “Steroid Era” umbrella. MLB can never truly say that its game is clean. And that’s a major PR issue.

How will MLB handle the continuing questions? Will ARod’s appeal bring more of a black cloud over baseball? Let your voice be heard in the comments.

How Jackie Robinson Inspired Me

jackie-robinson-brooklyn-dodgersIt has been 66 years since the great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although I never saw Jackie play, he impacted me from the time I was very young. My parents bought me a children’s story, called “The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson.” I read it over and over again. A poster of Robinson adorned my room as a teen, as a reminder of this courage.

I never experienced an ounce of what Jackie went through, yet I have always been drawn to the way he carried himself during turbulent times. He never fought back and let his actions, on and off the field, do the talking. I think about Jackie a lot when times are tough and even when they are great. Here are a few ways that he has inspired me.

  • Tenacity- Despite great odds and constant scrutiny, Jackie never backed down. This is a great lesson, regardless of race, how we can stand up for what we believe. If you believe in your heart of hearts that you can do something, go with confidence and do it!
  • Work Ethic- Jackie never settled. He continued to improve his game and push himself to be the best he could be.
  • Pride- Jackie knew he couldn’t necessarily fight back against those who hurled racial slurs or threw an intentional fast ball at his head. He pressed forward and got stronger. The lesson here: No matter what the odds, YOU have the power to be in control.
  • Courage- Jackie could have given up at any time. He didn’t… despite what seemed like insurmountable odds. Think about your toughest time… how did you handle it? While starting your own business may not seem at the level of courage of what Jackie did, it still takes a ton to step out on your own.

Jackie Robinson was much more than a baseball player. He was a symbol of hope, dedication and pride. It’s something we can still embrace and learn from today.

(photo courtesy of MLB)