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With courage and grace, Weiner living life

NEW YORK -- At the end of Michael Weiner's appearance Tuesday, the assembled members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America gave him a sustained standing ovation.

It wasn't enough, but it was all we had at the moment.

Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, is suffering from brain cancer. He has an inoperable tumor. His symptoms, Weiner said, had increased recently. His right side and right arm are immovable. He is confined to a wheelchair.

Despite all of this, Weiner, 51, provided a lesson for everybody in the room on dignity and somehow keeping a sense of humor intact.

Weiner made his annual appearance before the BBWAA at the group's All-Star meeting. A person of lesser stuff wouldn't have even made this meeting, and the absence would have been completely understood.

Weiner not only showed up, he was typically thoughtful and incisive. He began the session by volunteering the dismal news of his condition. He spoke also of the union's plans to shortly name a deputy executive director who could then become interim executive director should Weiner become incapacitated in the near future.

And Weiner answered numerous and varied questions on the Biogenesis case in all of its implications. Players who receive a suspension from Major League Baseball for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, but deserve a defense, will receive an aggressive defense, Weiner said. The record of this union, one of the most successful unions on the planet, would allow no other conclusion.

At one point in the proceedings, Weiner smiled and asked: "Any questions about anything other than Biogenesis or brain cancer?"

There were, but there could be no questions about the way Weiner was handling life's last lap. He gave us insight into his day-to-day philosophy. To say it was touching risks only gross understatement.

"As corny as this sounds," Weiner said, "I get up in the morning and I feel I'm going to live each day as it comes. I don't take any day for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that's a good day.

"I live each day for those things, and I wake up each day looking for those things, because I don't know how much time I have left on this Earth."

Prior to Weiner appearing at the BBWAA meeting, Commissioner Bud Selig had made his own annual appearance before this group.

"I hope that my ovation was at least as long as Bud's," Weiner said with a smile.

Yes, it was. And this is not a group much given to outpourings of approval.

But here, there was an appreciation of a man, in life's last and most difficult spot, not only showing the rest of us courage and grace, but even giving us reason, on occasion, to smile. For this example, some of that ovation must have been the sound of gratitude.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for