José Fernández Tragically Goes Down Swinging

jose-fernandez-wilfredo-lee2

Tragedy has wormed its wonton way into sports yet again. Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who defected from Cuba at 15 and went on to become one of baseball’s brightest stars, was killed early Sunday in a boating accident. Jose Fernandez’s tragic death darkens one of baseball’s brightest lights and has extinguished one of life’s biggest smiles.

Fernández, who was 24, and two other men were found dead after their boat was discovered overturned of the rocks at the entrance of Miami Harborz. Fernández was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and defected to the United States in 2008.

Drafted by the Marlins in 2011, he went on to become the franchise’s star pitcher, named National League Rookie of the Year 2013 and a two-time All-Star. He owned what Miami Herald sportswriter Dan Le Batard once called a “rags to pitches” story that many, especially those in Florida’s Cuban-American communities, found inspiring. And what he did OFF of the field is even more memorable.

Most importantly, Fernández saved his mother, Maritza, from falling overboard on the forth and finally successful attempt to defect from Cuba.  And because of how much his grandmother meant to him, the Marlins organization brought her to Miami on a two year visa when he was named 2013 NL Rookie of the Year.

fernandez-jose-usnews

Yet it’s all so sad. It’s all so senseless. It’s all so surreal. Killed in an overnight boating accident, reports say that a friend practically begged Fernandez not to go out on the boat. When he insisted, the friend went with him, and lost his life as well. 

What people say about you when you’re gone speaks volumes. And someone who was very close to him spoke very highly of him. José Fernández’s EX girlfriend spoke sweetly and tenderly about her one time and former lost love.

Carla Mendoza is speaking out three days after the tragic death of her ex-boyfriend José Fernández. In an Instagram post, the Miami Marlins pitcher’s former love opened up about the unbearable heartbreak that she’s suffering.

My deepest love goes out to those who saw José as more than an athlete, but as a passionate, raw human being. The heartbreak is unbearable. There was so much more to him than anyone could even begin to understand. I’m fortunate enough to have loved and be loved by José, and his family, for over 3 crazy beautiful years.

Thank you so much to everyone who’s reached out to me, it truly means a lot. Nothing will make this time easy for anyone and if you do one thing today, let it be that you tell those close to you how much you love them. Not one day will pass by that I don’t think about him or love him. Jose never went one moment without knowing how much support and love he had from those close to him.

My heart goes out to Maria, as she is expecting his child. Please honor José’s memory by respecting his daughter and her mother as I’m sure this is all too painful for her as well.”

The following clip is of the reunion of José and his grandmother.

I’ll Take An Arnold Palmer

1974-arnold-palmer-signed-golf-world-magazine-cover-3

The combination of iced tea and lemonade is known as an “Arnold Palmer.” It’s a tasty blend of sweet and sour and soft and sharp and tart and tangy. And many who don’t like one or the other will like them both combined. It’s like having the best of both. 

“Think about it,” one sports writer said. “You don’t order a ‘Tiger Woods’ or a ‘Jack Nicklaus’ at the bar. You can go up there and order an ‘Arnold Palmer’ in this country — and every waiter and waitress know what the drink is. That’s being in a league of your own.”

Palmer was born Sept. 10, 1929, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His father, Deacon, became the greenskeeper at Latrobe Country Club in 1921 and the club pro in 1933.

Palmer joined the PGA Tour in 1955 and won the Canadian Open for the first of his 62 titles. He went on to win four green jackets at Augusta National, along with the British Open in 1961 and 1962 and the U.S. Open in 1960, perhaps the most memorable of his seven majors because it defined his style. You could never count him out.

.Arnold Palmer charged across the golf course and into America’s living rooms with a go-for-broke style that made a country club sport popular for the everyman. At ease with presidents and the public, he was on a first-name basis with both.  Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh. He was 87.

President Barack Obama tweeted about Palmer’s death, saying: “Here’s to The King who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold.”

Palmer ranked among the most important figures in golf history, and it went well beyond his seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour wins. His good looks, devilish grin and hard-charging style of play made the elite sport appealing to one and all. And it helped that he arrived about the same time as television moved into most households, a perfect fit that sent golf to unprecedented popularity.

“And that’s why he’s the king.” On the golf course, Palmer was an icon not for how often he won, but the way he did it. Palmer never liked being referred to as “The King,” but the name stuck.

Palmer went head to head with Nicklaus two years later in a U.S. Open, the start of one of golf’s most famous rivalries. It was one-sided. Nicklaus went on to win 18 majors and was regarded as golf’s greatest champion. Palmer won two more majors after that loss, and his last PGA Tour win came in 1973 at the Bob Hope Classic.

 Golf writer Tom Callahan once described the difference between Nicklaus and Palmer this way:

It’s as though God said to Nicklaus, “You will have skills like no other,” then whispered to Palmer, “But they will love you more.”

“I’m not interested in being a hero,” Palmer said, implying that too much was made about his return from cancer. “I just want to play some golf.”  https://www.yahoo.com/news/arnold-palmer-dies-87-made-golf-popular-masses-012931638–spt.html 

And if we compare the game of golf to living life, then we all should just want to live a good one.

“The Donald” May Trump Them All

And after last night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and “The Donald” Trump, as poorly as the republican candidate may have performed, what I shared last August bears repeating.

God and Sports

donald_trump

Donald Trump is running for president. Of the United States. Of America. And in case you haven’t thought this through, as volatile and visceral as he’s been in the past, the fact that he’s running is not the big news. The fact — and it is a fact — that Trump could actually WIN the White House is even more jolting and jarring, at least for some of us. Coming out of the recent Republican Candidates Debate, he’s the front-runner. That’s right. Trump has actually taken the lead and leads the pack — and it’s certainly a pitiful pack of possibles at that —  with 25% of the vote, according to some sources.

“Bloomberg Politics Managing Editor Mark Halperin stated that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has ‘reached a turning point’ where the ‘establishment candidates’ think he can win Iowa; ‘most’ believe he can win the nomination, and ‘a significant…

View original post 281 more words

Are the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Bound?

wentz-3

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but . .  . Philadelphia has just been dubbed “Carson City!” 

It wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not like this. The Pittsburgh Steelers are stingy on defense and stagy on offense and they are (or were?) supposed to be somebody’s pre-season pick to go to, if not WIN, the Super Bowl. But not so fast. “Big Ben” Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin, both wily veterans, were supposed to handle the upstart Eagles, handily.

Enter rookie quarterback CARSON WENTZ! The Eagles, I mean MY Eagles, beat up and beat down the before the game solid, but after the game squalid Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3, and it wasn’t that close. So now who’s a favorite to go to the Super Bowl?

“Magical,” he said. “Seriously. It’s like magic.  This is what Philly’s staid offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, had to say when he was reaching for the right word after Sunday’s game. 

“I’ve been around a lot of smart quarterbacks, a lot of really good quarterbacks. This guy had something we all noticed. On the practice field, just watching him warm up and get ready, I was giddy. His movements, his explosiveness in his lower body. His arm strength. His accuracy. Then in the classroom, his intellect and his football acumen—hard to describe. But all there. He could not be stumped, by any of us. What’s your protection here? Why’d you pick this receiver? What do you like about this play? He was so far ahead of guys I’ve studied.

And we kept hearing about the level of competition, that people were worried about the North Dakota State part of it. I said, ‘Let ’em keep saying that! Please keep saying that.’ ”

“I am literally in tears with how good he is. I’ve been an Eagles fan for 24 years, my whole life. I bought this jersey three weeks ago. When we drafted him I thought he was the change of the franchise” said 24-year-old Kyle Frazier. And Vince Fabrizio, 54, said: “He will take us to a Super Bowl as some point.”

Like, now? This has been an absurd ride so far. Wentz and the Eagles 34, Big Ben and the Steelers 3. The guy who was supposed to redshirt this season, the guy who wouldn’t be playing right now if Teddy Bridgewater hadn’t suffered a freak injury last month, 1,170 miles away, the guy who has every downtrodden fan in Cleveland vomiting (again) this morning because the Browns gave away the chance to draft him … that guy is 3-0, with the wins coming by 19, 15 and 31 points, and just when is construction beginning on that statue? (Mike Wise, MMQB http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/09/26/carson-wentz-eagles-nfl-week-3-monday-morning-qb-peter-king)

So, do you need Biblical reference to go along with this modern day sports miracle in the making?  Try this one on for size:

God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, New Living Translation

 And while some have an aversion if it’s not their favorite version,  I must do a recursion to the old fashioned, but tried and true KJV, which may say it best:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:27, KJV

Why Philly Fans Are On The Wentz Wagon

carson-wentz-nfl-philadelphia-eagles-at-chicago-bears-002

The Cleveland Browns TRADED their No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles, enabling the Eagles to draft Carson Wentz. THANK YOU CLEVELAND! In effect, the Browns said we don’t need some whiz kid called Carson Wentz. Ooops.  And this just in: word on the street is that the Browns fired their recruiters for this major gaff. 

As for the No. 1 Pick, the Rams, who also considered Wentz but passed on him, selected Jared Goff, allowing the Eagles to snatch Wentz. And hopefully, the rest will be history.

This week, the winless Browns will be on their third starting quarterback of this season, with rookie Cody Kessler set to follow Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. Kessler becomes the franchise’s 26th different starter at the position since 1999. With RGII hurt (again),” an NFL truism is on its way to being reinforced: whatever the Browns think about a quarterback, believe the opposite.” So says Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

And so all of the Philly faithful owes its now promising football future to the Rams and, most importantly, to the Cleveland Browns. And don’t forget the Vikings. Yes Bradford fared well for his new team in his first game against the Packers, but I’ll take Wentz over Bradford any day.  

So why are we jumping on the Wentz Wagon?

Wentz is ahead of the curve and the pack and the field and all early expectations. If you told me that we’d be 2-0 and looking this good with a relatively unknown rookie QB a month ago, I’d‘ve told you to stop sniffing the super glue.

According to ESPN, Wentz is the fifth rookie quarterback since the merger to start and win the first two games of his team’s season, joining John Elway, Ryan Leaf, Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco. Elway is a Hall of Famer. He and Flacco were Super Bowl MVPs. But Leaf became regarded as one of the sport’s all-time draft busts and Sanchez has not exactly been a star.

So the course of Wentz’s career has not been determined, no matter how promising the beginning has been. Yet you’d certainly rather be the Eagles, with Wentz, than the Browns, without Wentz, at this point. The Browns traded the No. 2 pick to the Eagles, apparently unconvinced of Wentz’s prospects to become an NFL franchise quarterback. Too bad. So sad.

So the next time someone passes on you and passes over you and you are picked by someone else and land somewhere else, just remember Carson Wentz. If you’re a believer and you believe in miracle finishes (and miracle starts!), just remember that God knows just how to place you and displace others so that you are situated just where you need to be to succeed and be victorious.

If You Ain’t Got Hope, You Ain’t’ Got Nothin’: Eagles All the Way, Baby!

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles
Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass during pre game warmups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As the sign says, “If not now, Wentz?”

if-not-now-wentz

OK, OK, OK – so, I’m not supposed to get all giddy and gabby and excited and ignited just yet, but . . . It’s just that my Eagles looked so good last week! (Yes, it’s only Week 1) But, if my Eagles (altogether now, pronounced “Iggles”) win on the road in Chicago, and do so convincingly, then the sky’s the limit, right? 

So, let’s all watch wonder boy Carson Wentz on Monday Night Football tonight, and witness my Eagles beat up on the “Bad News Bears.” And then I’ll be back tomorrow to write a great post on how good (or great?) my Eagles are, and how far they, I mean “WE,” will go this season. I mean heck, the Redskins stink! ‘Dem scabby Skins are 0-2 and they’re calling for Kirk Cousins head already! 

So why can’t my Eagles soar! (Did I tell you that I’m an eternal optimist, and that all Eagles fans everywhere have been here before in the last 5 years? Yeah.)

Because if you ain’ t have hope, you aint’ got nothin’.

Altogether now: “Fly, Eagles Fly, on to Victory!”

Would You Take A Knee During The National Anthem?

take-a-knee-heads-bowed

San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick has started a movement.  And his followers are growing.

It seems like everybody is doing it. Taking a knee during the National Anthem, that is. It’s a protest vote started by Colin Kaepernick. He made national headlines recently, not for his play on the gridiron, but for taking a knee during the national anthem as a way of protesting racial injustices and police brutality in the country.

anthem-protest6

A number of players on other National Football League teams have joined Kaepernick and also taken a knee during the anthem; while others have raised clenched fists while standing, including New England Patriots Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty, as another way to silently protest.

new_england_patriots_players_martellus_bennett_left_and_devin

And protesting during professional football games has trickled all the way down into the high-school ranks, as Doherty Memorial High School junior Mike Oppong took a knee during the national anthem Friday in a season-opening game against Leominster at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

take-a-knee-high-school

On Sunday, Oppong tweeted to his followers on Twitter that “My coach just called me a couple minutes ago telling me that the coaches and principals decided that I should be suspended for 1 game.”

Oppong’s Twitter handle is @Oppong_5 with the name on the account “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

He even got a retweet from Kaepernick’s own Twitter account.

A #FreeOppong hashtag started spreading like wildfire on Twitter after Oppong announced he would be suspended for his protest. There was positive feedback and support for Oppong on social media and some hate, however.”

megan-rapinoe-kneels-during-national-anthem-twitter-1200x630

And here’s what Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Detroit Free Press Printed:

“It keeps getting bigger.

One might have expected last month’s protest by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, his refusal to stand for the national anthem, to have blown over by now. Instead, it has caught fire. Sunday, members of the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs all staged protests of their own. This was in addition to earlier protests by soccer star Megan Rapinoe and members of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. There have even been reports of the phenomenon spreading to high school and college games.

All of this in support of Kaepernick, who said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Apparently, he’s struck a nerve.

taking-a-knee

For the record, yes, I do stand when the anthem is played. But I don’t do it for America. America breaks my heart on a daily basis. So, I stand for what America is supposed to be, what America could be if it ever took seriously its founding principles, including that “self-evident” truth about equality. But America has yet to do that, and Kaepernick is hardly the first person to notice.

Drew Sharp said this:

Un-American? Colin Kaepernick is anything but that.”

And  Colin Kaepernick said this:

I don’t want to kneel forever.”


On the last night of his life, Martin Luther King said:

All we say to America is, be true to what you said on paper.”

Kaepernick is not even the first athlete to snub the rituals of American patriotism and refuse to “stand” for the National Anthem. This is what one baseball player had to say:

I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.”

 The baseball player’s name was Jackie Robinson.