Life and Love and Laughter: Girls HS Volleyball


Last night my wife and I went to a HS Volleyball Game. And I’m glad we did.

This was a GIRLS HS Volleyball game — the kind of game that virtually NO ONE attends outside of immediate family and the coach’s daughter. And we all know that it’s a sad but true fact that girl’s games don’t get the “play” that boy’s games do. And while I love sports, I’m not really IN to volleyball like that, but this game was different.

This game was the last game of the season and our friend’s daughter, a senior, was playing.  So we went to cheer her on.  And you know what? I didn’t think we would, but we did. We had a blast.  Talk about high drama and intense theater and exciting play. At a high school game, at that! They won 3 sets to none, but it was close the whole way. And the winning team had to come back in the second set after being down most of the way. It was a really great game.

So here’s a shout out to the Manassas Park High School Girls Varsity Volleyball team. And here’s a shout out to the sisters of our friend’s daughter. They are a really tight family with a lot of life and love and laughter flowing amongst and between them. Our friends oldest daughters came together and organized a great send off for their little sister and the other senior members of the volleyball team. They had the marching band come play to pep up the fans and many students, including members of the football team, came out as well.

So the next time you’re invited to attend a high school varsity or JV or league game for your friend’s son or daughter, go. Please go. Just like the players and the fans in the photo above, you’ll enjoy cheering and yelling and screaming and stomping a young person on, hopefully to victory. But regardless of the outcome, whether they win or lose, go and cheer for them just like it was your own kid.

You’ll be glad you did.

Dak Prescott And  Ezekiel Elliott Are In The Hall of Fame ALREADY?


If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, right about now, you’re licking your chops. Why? Here’s why.

Former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott has played just six NFL games, but his jersey already is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And so has his rookie roommate and running mate, Ezekiel Elliott.

The Canton, Ohio-based Hall of Fame has acquired the jerseys of Prescott and Elliott, as announced in a Twitter post.

Prescott and Elliott have become the first quarterback/running back rookie duo ever to pass for 1,000 yards and rush for 500 in their first five (now six) games. They have helped Dallas lead the NFC East with a record of 5-1. The Cowboys’ fourth-round draft pick, Prescott, emerged as the starter in the preseason after Tony Romo sustained a fracture in his back.

Prescott is 125-of-182 for 1,486 yards and seven touchdowns. He is closing in on the all-time NFL record for most passes to start a career without an interception, a mark currently held by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Elliott has rushed for 703 yards in SIX Games, and averages 5.1 yards a carry. He has five touchdowns. Goodness gracious. 

Yes, they’re in the Hall of Fame  — ALREADY!

It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish: NFL 2016

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

Who is the best team in the NFL this year? Or should we say, right now?  Well, the Minnesota Vikings are undefeated at 5-0, and the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys are 5-1. Seven other teams are 4-2, including the Falcons (but do they really count?), the Bills, the Broncos, the Steelers, the Texans, DA Raiders, and the Washington Redskins. Yes, I said it – the Washington Redskins. AND those same Redskins beat my Eagles yesterday, 27-20. Oh yeah, and the Seattle Seahawks are 4-1. And last year’s NFC representative and Super Bowl Runner up, the Carolina Panthers, are 1-5. Go figure. That’s 11 teams with strong resumes, and 12 teams make the playoffs.

This leaves my Eagles who are sitting at 3-2, if you want me to round out the playoff field. So who’s the best team right now? You have to take the Vikings at 5-0, with the Pats and the Boys as runners up, with the (swallow hard) ‘Skins as honorable mentions since they’ve won four in a row and are looking better every week.

But back to my Eagles. We looked bad yesterday because penalties will kill you every time. In sports and in life, when you are called for a foul, it’s not a good thing. And when the yellow flag flies, it’s always a bad thing.  Penalties are a function of a lack of discipline and concentration. So think about it; how many infractions and mistakes and missteps do you make week in and week out?  If the number is high and your self-control is low, then you know what you need to do.

So to be the best, you must beat the best (a quote from Kobe Bryant, to mix my sports metaphors) and the Eagles, in the first few games at least, are only beating the worst teams. In the next few weeks, we’ve got the best teams coming up, starting with the Minnesota Vikes. Yikes!  In actuality, the Eagles are beating themselves, like so many of us tend to sometimes do.

So the real question of this early NFL season is this: Is Dak Prescott for real and are the Vikings for real? Ok, that’s two questions, but it’s a two for one deal. Both Dak and the Boys are impressive and Philly’s former QB Sam Bradford is looking more and more like an MVP candidate every week. Go figure (where was all that last year?).  Nonetheless, it remains to be seen which team can hold on and hold out till the end. And the same goes for us in life too.

Because it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

How To Bounce Off Of The Bench and Hit a Grand Slam (To Win A Playoff Game)


How ‘bout ‘dem Cubs!

Up 3-1 in the 7th, the Cubs gave up the lead and, voila, the game was tied. So to the ninth inning and probably extra innings we go, right? Not with the third string catcher pinch hitting, we don’t. That’s right — the Cubs THIRD string catcher came in from off of the bench with bases loaded and 2 outs, and the count quickly ran to 0-2. But then, on the very next pitch, lightning struck.

When Miguel Montero stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS to face Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton with two outs and the bases loaded, I’m guessing even the most optimistic of Cubs fans didn’t expect to see a grand slam.

Montero is a two-time All-Star with 120 career home runs, but he had struggled during the regular season, hitting .216 with just eight home runs in 241 at-bats. When Blanton ran the count to 0-2, it seemed we’d be headed to the ninth inning with a tie game and Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman out of the game. The hero of Game 1 gave Cubs fans everywhere hope and a view through a periscope towards a favorable near future.

Ironically, he was about as low as you can go for a major league baseball player, but Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero’s struggles never got him down to the point of mailing it in. Instead, he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.

That moment came in a big way Saturday night, as Montero became the third player ever to hit a postseason, pinch-hit grand slam, and he propelled the Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. It was an instant classic featuring more managerial second-guessing than a regular season’s worth.

“I’m not going to do any good to anybody being a cancer and being upset about it and being a cry baby,” Montero said of losing playing time. “I’m not going to be a cry baby. I’m going to keep my head up, and whenever they give me a chance, I’m going to take advantage of it.”  And take advantage of it he did. Montero hit a 0-2 slider — the third one he saw in the short at-bat — out to right field off Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton and sent the crowd of 42,376 into hysteria. 

“Obviously, as a kid, you always dream of the situations,” Montero said. “And that’s what you live for. It’s easy to hit a grand slam in the first inning when nobody is actually screaming at it, and this one is a lot more special because it’s in front of this special crowd that we have, and you’re always looking for that.” (Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer)


I love this part about Montero: he did not complain, mumble or grumble. Instead, “he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.”

And that’s what I’m going to do too.

“Get Over Yourself!”


So when will the Washington Nationals win a playoff series? Is today the day?

Sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes you fight and scratch and claw your way only to come close and fall short. And such is the case of the Washington Nationals and their respected but also riled in retrospect skipper, Dusty Baker. In retrospect, Dusty has had a clean career. He’s won as a player, ironically with the Dodgers. Now he’s trying to beat those same Dodgers and undue years of frustration and exasperation as a manager who’s been bounced from team to team because he’s hasn’t won the big one.

But perhaps today will be the day. Perhaps the Nats will get over the hump and get over themselves and stop thinking too much about themselves individually and focus on winning as a team. For starters, two of the Nationals biggest and brightest stars need to get over themselves. Bryce Harper was last year’s Rookie of the Year, and Stephen Strasburg was the best rookie pitcher since sliced bread when he burst onto the scene a few years ago. But this year both have faded.  The Nats have great individual talent, but it hasn’t parlayed into a great team effort in the post season just yet. But maybe what the Nats need to do is to get over themselves.

“Get over yourself” is a patronizing phrase used to tell someone that you believe they hold too high an opinion of themselves, or are behaving in a conceited or pompous manner. Could it be that this is the reason the Nats, and sometimes the rest of us too, can’t win the big one?

So get over yourself. Stop thinking that you’re so good and that you’re so smart and that you’re all that. You’re one of many trying to win at the game of life. So just live a life that’s pleasing to God. No one is “better” than anyone else. No one. Some may be “better off” in their current station in life, but no one is better. So just live life as best you know how. Strive to beat your own best time and to exceed your own best effort.

When you do the right thing, the results will take care of themselves.

Go Nats!

Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Bride: Why I’m Rooting For Dusty Baker


I’m rooting for Dusty Baker to win.  Not because I like the Washington Nationals or I don’t like the LA Dodgers, but because I like the little guys and the small fries and the also rans and the ones that got away.

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker, Jr has managed in San Francisco and in Chicago and in Cincy and now in DC. And each time he’s gotten to the post season, he’s come close, with no cigar.   He’s had a great season, and now he’s trying to win in Washington playing against the team he spent his formative baseball years with. 

In LA, the Dodger Stadium crowd didn’t give much of a welcome home to native son Dusty Baker, who grew up in Riverside and spent eight productive seasons as a Dodgers outfielder. Earlier, Baker said Chavez Ravine still feels a little like home, even though it’s been 32 years since he played there. “It’s the same Dodger Stadium that I came to as a kid, you know, even before I got into professional baseball. This is always one of my favorite stadiums.”  Mike Hiserman

So let’s all root for Dusty. He won with the Dodgers when Tommy Lasorda was the skipper in Tinsel Town. Now he’s trying to win with an upstart Nationals team that may well have to gut one out in a Game 5 showdown in DC.  Go figure.

Good things don’t come easy for some. But that’s fine. Things that come easy can also come sleazy. Easy is not necessarily bad, but it also is not earned.  Kids and players and people who have had it handed to them can’t and don’t’ appreciate what it means to strive and struggle and toil and tussle through disappointment and difficulty and setbacks and letdowns on the way to victory.

So here’s to Dusty. And here’s to all those of us who have had to wait long and work hard and wonder why and when.  But with the help of some fans and hope from some followers, maybe it will turn out for Dusty, and for us too.

You Before Me, Not “Me Before You”


“Me Before You” got it backwards. And in sports and in life, sometimes most of us get it backwards too. Ball-hog point guards and self absorbed wide receivers and coaches who think they’re bigger than the game and the university they represent are all representatives of  a “me before you attitude.” And that’s what we see in this film.  

In the solid, watchable and mostly enjoyable romantic drama “Me Before You,” a young, sheltered underemployed waitress strikes up a relationship with the rich, pampered patient she is hired to care for, and you know where it goes from there. But she fails to turn him from his chosen end, and this is where the film disappoints.

I loved this film right up until the end. One amateur critic said “This movie stinks. The script and acting are superb but the story is about a former alpha male, crippled by his own stupidity.” I won’t go that far, but I do agree that the ending stinks. It’s just like the ending of “The Last of the Mohicans;” ending it all is never the answer.

This critic went on to say that the protagonist is selfish and self-centered: “Once paralyzed, he lives life in one big hissy fit before committing suicide, much to the dismay of his caretaker who has fallen in love with him.” So what is the basic message of the movie? Another critic wrote this: “If you are paralyzed, suicide is the best option. Even if you’re rich and loved by family and friends.” Not. Giving it all you’ve got, even if you don’t think it’s much. is better than not giving at all.

That’s why “Me Before You” is the wrong formula. In sports and in life, the correct order of things is and always should be “You Before Me” not me before you.