Coming Through in the Clutch

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David Wright came through. He came through in the clutch. With his team, the only professional team he’s ever known, down 2-0 in games and 1-0 in the first inning of Game Three, David Wright launched and smacked and whacked a 400 foot, two-run homer out of the park to give his beloved Mets a 2-1 lead and a much needed boost just when they needed it most.

Clutch is defined as “exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.” Wow. That pretty much sums it up and says it all. But we can go further. As a noun, in life and in sports, clutch means “the crucial moment that comes between winning and losing.” And as an adjective, it means” being able to perform under extreme pressure.” Clutch, the verb, means simply this: “getting it done.” That’s it and that’s all. And David Wright got it done last night.

And Wright’s home run in the first was just the beginning; he wasn’t finished. He stood in the box with bases loaded in the sixth and jumped all over a fast ball and produced a 2 RBI single to put the icing on the cake. Mets – 8; Royals – 3. Game over. Now, all the Mets need to do is to win the rest of their home games at CitiField and go back to KC to pull off yet another Mets miracle to win another World Series.

Clutch players thrive on clutch moments. And clutch moments don’t come around every day. Wright missed most of 2015 because of a back injury, somehow got healthy again, and after 1,546 games in his regular season career, he finally appeared in a World Series. And in his first at-bat in front of the home town crowd in a championship game, he sent an 0-1, 96 mph fastball from Yordano Ventura over the wall in left-center for a two-run home run. Don’t you love the way baseball works sometimes?

It was a great moment for Wright, who has played the second-most games in Mets history, a great moment for the fans, and an important moment for the 2015 Mets. After the Royals scraped across a run in the top of the first with the help of a little infield trickler — here we go again — Wright’s blast erased the lead and set the tone for an offense that would attack Ventura in his short stint.

Wright came through. Wright came through in the clutch. And clutch players are our heroes. Spiritually speaking, we call “clutch” coming through “just in the nick of time.” Our God is clutch. He comes through and comes in and comes by and comes back for us just when we need Him most. And, don’t forget that we are the arms and legs and feet and hands of God. That means we are the ones that God uses to come through for others just like He comes through for us.

Naturally and spiritually, we all need our heroes to come through for us in the clutch. Just remember, sometimes that hero is you.

Living With A Royal Flush

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The Kansas City Royals are on the verge of flushing the Mets right out of the World Series. That’s right. You heard it (or read it) first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. The Mets put their best pitchers up against the red hot Royals, and the Royals rolled and the Mets were mauled in KC like it was nobody’s business. Because this year, it seems like a win for the Royals is in the cards.

The Houston Astros couldn’t stop the Royals. The Toronto Blue Jays couldn’t oust the Royals. Then the Mets sent Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom out to squash them in the first two games of this World Series. And what did they learn? This is a team you just can’t squash. Apparently.

So the Royals are now two wins away from their first parade in three decades. They put a 7-1 shellacking on deGrom and the Mets and whaddaya know, they’re now up, 2 games to zip, and it’s not lookin’ good for the “other” New York baseball team from Queens.
Last year, the Royals took Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants to 7 Games before falling to the eventual Series MVP. Last year, “Madbum” https://godandsports.net/2014/10/30/you-too-can-be-a-rock-star-just-ask-madison-bumgarner/ ravaged the Royals and pitched Game 7 on 2 days’ rest. So, you could say that had not Madbum stood in the way, the Royals would be on their way to back-to-back World Championships, with maybe many more to come.

The Royals are proving how good they are. And the Royals are doing what Christians should be doing: proving the world wrong. Actually, we should be proving our God right and proving how good our God is. If our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and Miriam and David and Deborah and Esther and Elijah and Peter and Paul, then we have nothing to worry about when it comes to defeating our enemies and foiling our foes.

It doesn’t matter what other players have in their hand; we have a royal flush. That means we’ve got the best Supreme Being there is to have. If our God, the God of the Bible, is truly the True and Living God, then we are “playing” and living with a royal flush.

God Save Me From Bad Football

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 29: Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter in a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 29, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

I’m a sports fan. And I watch a lot of sports. In fact, I’m watching my Eagles play right now (or sort of, as I have one eye on the game and both hands on the keyboard.) Anyway, as a sports fan in general and an Eagles fan in specific, I cherish and relish and savor the flavor of a good ball game. Especially a good football game. So that’s why I dislike and despise and detest and deplore bad ball. Don’t you?

Bad ball is when your team just can’t get in gear and can’t get it going and can’t get it right. Bad ball is when your team is lazy and listless and droopy and loopy and just doesn’t’ have it all together. And that sounds like most of us. Because as much I want to throw Sam Bradford under the bus, sometimes the bad football I see in him is the bad living I see in me.

Bad football is like bad living. Slips and slumps and lapses and letdowns and errors and errata and flops and faux-pas make life dodgy and dubious and suspect and abstract. And as long as we have bad football, we’ll have bad living (or is it the other way around?). Yes we all strive for perfection and precision, but that won’t come as long as we are on this side of Glory.

As for God, His Way is perfect. And following His Way is the only way there is to go. We all want predictability and certainty and sureness and consistency. But unfortunately, that won’t happen. It won’t happen outside of faith and confidence and reliance and assurance in God.

So, since God is in the saving business, I’m asking Heaven to help me and God so save me from bad football. That’s right. I need saving and deliverance and rescue and freedom from fumbles and foibles and faults and flaws during the games I watch. And especially the games my Eagles play. Is that too much to ask?

But while I can pray all I want for deliverance from bad football, this prayer won’t make it past my ceiling. The answer to this prayer request just won’t come. On the contrary, my prayer for deliverance from bad living, mine and others, will come as we rely on and trust in and depend upon Him.

Winning In Spite of Yourself

Sam Bradford Head Down

The Eagles are winning in spite of Sam Bradford. And Sam Bradford is winning in spite of himself. And that goes for you and me too. But first, let’s deal with the Eagles sorry excuse for a quarterback. 

By all accounts, the Philadelphia Eagles could be a great NFL Team and Sam Bradford should be and could be a great NFL quarterback. Not a good one, a GREAT one. And he would be a great QB if he stopped throwing to players on the wrong team. He doesn’t seem to get in gear until the third quarter, and the last time I checked, the game had 4, count ‘em, FOUR quarters; so getting a good start is not a bad thing. In fact, getting a first down in the first quarter would be a really good thing.

Confidence is contagious. And Bradford looks anything but confident, on or off the field. Maybe it’s me, but Bradford looks leery and loopy, distant and dubious, hazy and hesitant all at the same time. And that’s not a good thing. It’s like he’s playing in a fog (remember that Thanksgiving Day Game in Philly a few years back when the fog rolled in and you couldn’t see the field?) But surely I digress.

So, lest we bury Bradford (and many would like to), there are times when we all win in spite of ourselves. We don’t warrant a win but we do. We’re not worthy or worthwhile but someone else says we are. We couldn’t do it on our own, but we’re virtually virtuous and victorious anyway. Theologically, we call that grace. Because our confidence is only and wholly and solely in Him.

Sometimes we can’t get out of our own way, and yet somehow we make it across the goal line to score the winning touchdown. We take missteps and make mistakes and yet and still we win. We whiffle and waffle, play bad and play awful, and we still come out with a “W.” Thank God for grace.

Yes thank God for grace. Thank God for mercy and favor and leniency and clemency and every other reprieve we can find. And as for Bradford, let’s just hope he gets rid of that “deer caught in a pair of high-beams look” sooner than later.

Wins That You Just Have To Have

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Tonight’s Monday Night.

And that means Monday Night Football. And tonight’s football game between my Philadelphia Eagles (pronounced Iggles for those that don’t know), and the New York Football Giants, is a must win. It’s a must win for my Eagles in every way. https://godandsports.net/2014/11/21/a-must-win/

Some games mean more than others. Some games count for more than others. And some games are weighted heavier than others. I know what you’re thinking; no they don’t. Every game is weighted the same, you say. Not so. Some games are bigger and larger and greater in size and scope and significance than others. And I’m talking regular season here. I’m not even talking playoffs (Playoff’s? Are you kiddin’ me?) https://godandsports.net/2014/01/11/play-on-in-the-playoffs/

Anyway, all Eagles fans can do tonight is sing our fight song and hope that the home team comes with their “A” Game, because they’re gonna need it.

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There are times when you just have to have a win. Any kind of win. A win can be a break when you’re late on anything or a favor from a friend or a hand from a stranger. Those are wins, and when you’re in a straight or in a fix or in a bind of any kind, you just have to have a win.

And, believe it or not, these wins come by faith. Because sometimes, in order to get a break, you have to make a break.

Spiritually speaking, we need to discern when to go for broke and when to play the averages. We need to know when to tune it up and when to tone it down. We need to know when to holler and when to whisper. We need to know what’s urgent and what’s just important. And that takes maturity and sagacity and wisdom and understanding and insight and foresight. 

All of these come from God. And to get there, it sounds like we should pray the Serenity Prayer. Because there are some things that you CAN change. And in order for things to change, you have to know what you can change, and know what you can’t.

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That’s God’s Playbook.

To Stay Up, or Not Stay Up and Watch All of a Monday Night Football Game: That’s The Question

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“Oktoberfest” is here. Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey. So many games, so little time. 

For true sports fans, this is one of the best times of the year. It’s the time of year when all four major “food” groups — football, baseball, basketball and hockey, are played at the same time.

Football is in full swing, with the NFL leading the way and the NCAA men running right behind. Then we have “Baseball in October.” The ALCS and NLCS are ongoing (and we’re all pulling for the Cubs, right?) And the NHL is underway and the NBA is on the way.

So for sports junkies, this time of year is near next to nirvana. So keep up with the stats and the scores and the highlights and the players under the bright lights.

And stay up. That’s right — stay up. There are so many games on that run way past my bed time, so it’s tough for us old heads to manage. Tonight we have Sunday Night Football AND the Mets and the Cubs play. But the games don’t start until past 8 o’clock. And it’s a school night.

And tomorrow night is a big, big, big Monday Night Football game. My Philadelphia Eagles play a virtual “must win” game tomorrow at home in South Philly at “The Link” (Lincoln Financial Field) and I will have to take a nap at work if I’m going to be able to stay up and watch the whole game. If we win and defeat the New York “Football” Giants, we’ll be tied with them at 3-3 at the top of the Division. Yeah, I know — 3-3 ‘aint great, but it beats being 2-4.

So let’s enjoy the fall, football weather and the cool, crisp days and the bright, sunny rays and the crescent, harvest moons and the cold, frosty nights and the turning, falling leaves and the smorgasbord of football, baseball, basketball and hockey games to choose from. If only the entire year could be as exciting and as inviting as October.

Spiritually speaking, seasons and times and conditions change. Nothing is static, in sports or in life. And that’s one of the lessons sports teaches us. Don’t get complacent with the lead (just ask Michigan) and don’t think that because you’re in first place in April that you’ll end up in first place in September (just ask the Washington Nationals). And don’t get down if you’re struggling now. Things change.

So we all have to change and prepare and plan and make ready for what comes next. Because what comes next is better than what has been.

And the best is yet to come.

A Wonderful Way To Win and A Woeful Way To Lose

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts on the sidlines during the second quarter of the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 17: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts on the sidlines at the end of the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23 after recovering a fumbled punt snap. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Wow. What a game. What a way to win and what a way to lose. Michigan had the game won. And Michigan State had the game in the loss column. For Michigan State, it was a wonderful way to win an away game at your arch-rivals expense. And for Michigan — well, let’s just say that this is yet another opportunity to overcome adversity.

But talk about a heartbreaker. Talk about a tearjerker. Talk about a crazy way to lose and a crazier way to win. Just 10 seconds away from the biggest bang of his young college career, Jim Harbaugh saw his team fumble away a wonderful win. The “Harbaugh Effect” was in full force for 59 minutes and 50 seconds. But those last 10 seconds of the game saw something only legends are made of. The Harbaugh force fizzled and the sensational sizzle somehow turned to drizzle and someway dissolved the wonderful win away.

The victory party at the Big House had to be canceled at the last minute. Or, worse yet, the last second. Michigan had the game. They HAD it. The Michigan punter will need a few friends and fewer sharp objects after fumbling the last snap and in effect fumbling away the game. Michigan had the game won and it just slipped through their hands. Just like that. Because Yogi said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

And so what can we learn? We can learn this: don’t let a game slip through your hands. Don’t play not to lose. Play to win. Fear and worry and panic and dread have no place in the winner’s circle. Ten seconds till the win? No way Michigan loses that game. No way. Yet they lost, and now they will have to figure out a way to come back and fight back and take back what was stolen from them.

Because this was not just a loss, it was yet another lesson on why we all hate to lose.