Episode 11: You’ve Got to Lose to Learn How to Win: Diego Luke’s Story

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Diego LukeHockey in Minnesota is like football in Texas. It’s the sport, which is why Minnesota is known as The State of Hockey. Diego Luke was a promising youth hockey player in St. Paul when he was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease. He would need dialysis and, eventually, a transplant.

He fought through some dark days — literally fought on one occasion, with a nurse Luke’s mild-mannered mom describes as “a bitch.” The cops came. The situation was sorted out, and finally, so was Luke’s health. But not for long. Next came a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and more life-and-death struggle that would keep Luke away from the ice.

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In this episode, Diego Luke tells his own story. He’s a college freshman now, playing club hockey and wondering what might have been if he’d been healthy, but also appreciating the chance to play the game he loves. “Every game I’m playing,” he says, “I’m winning.”

Luke chronicled his teenage health story on the Tumblr blog Diego Gets a Kidney.

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If My Heart Was an Elbow, I’d Need Tommy John

The SmokejumpersWhen Yahoo’s Jeff Passan was going to be a guest on my SiriusXM Radio show “Content Is King” to promote his book The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, I joked on Twitter that I was working on a country song called “If My Heart Was an Elbow, I’d Need Tommy John.”

I eventually decided to make up the song for real. Then I asked my old bandmates in The Smokejumpers if they’d record it, and they agreed. When I asked them what name they wanted to use for the recording, they said “The Smokejumpers,” which is how I found out I’d been kicked out of the band. They didn’t have time to take a new band photo so they just re-worked an old one.

That’s drummer Big Stick Mick (Michael Minnick) in front, and guitar player Tom “Double D” Thumb (Tom Proulx) jumping. Tom does the singing and, I think, plays all other instruments on the recording. Noah “Butta” Fingers, one of several Smokejumpers bass players, was cropped out of this photo taken in the Powell Street Bart Station in San Francisco around 1997.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

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Episode 8: Futbol Americano


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Jonathan Tinajero

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Jonathan Tinajero was excited. He’d been scrolling through Facebook when he discovered a professional football league in Mexico. A native of East Los Angeles, Tinajero had dreamed of playing in the NFL, but his football career had fizzled in college. This looked like a fresh opportunity.

His father laughed at him. The LFA? La Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional? That’s a soccer league, son.

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Read a transcript

Dad was wrong. The LFA is hoping to capitalize on the NFL’s popularity in Mexico, and soon Tinajero, a defensive back and wide receiver, was in Mexico City, playing for the Mayas, chasing those dreams again, and learning that the LFA is not exactly the NFL. Juan Reyes reports.

Juan ReyesJuan Reyes is a sportswriter for the Santa Cruz (California) Sentinel. He reported this story from Mexico City. For a gallery of photos of Tinajero and his Mayas teammates, click here. All photos are by Juan Reyes and Montse Lopez Flores.

Paulie Soda

The episode opens with our first story of losing from a listener. Jim Morfino called in with a memory from his childhood in the Bronx. Morfino, 74, lived across the street from Fat Nick’s candy store, which was really a bookmaking operation. “I don’t think there was a legitimate candy store in all the Bronx,” Morfino says.

Paulie Soda drove the soda truck, and was one of many Damon Runyon-type characters hanging out around the candy store, where Jim and his friends hung out after school. “Paulie was a loser,” Morfino says. A big problem for Paulie was that he hated the Yankees, so he bet against them all the time. A bigger problem: It was 1953, and the Yankees were on their way to winning their fifth straight World Series.

One day, though, Paulie let Jackie Pads talk him into betting on the Yankees. Just this once.

If you’ve got a story about losing in your life, call us up at 510-646-1082 and tell it to us. We’ll give you $50 if we use it.

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Johnny Rawls

Johnny RawlsIf you’ve been listening to Can’t Win 4 Losing, you’ve heard our closing theme song, “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls.  Now you can hear the story behind the song, as well as the story of how it became our theme. The Mississippi bluesman sat down for an interview before a gig in Fremont, California, earlier this year.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other Songs Used

“Sing Swing Bada Bing” by Doug Maxwell
“The Duel” courtesy of Bensound.com
“Hold My Hand (Ambient Mix)” by Ars Sonor
Music by Chris Banks
Used with permission or via Creative Commons licenses.

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We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.