Why Aren’t You Watching The World Series?

 

 LA

I’ll tell you why I’m watching, or why I’m half watching. I love LA, and almost all things LA. My son and future daughter-in-law live there (they’re such a darling couple!) and I’ve been out to the left coast several times, so it’s feels like a second home. But I’ve never been to Houston. And, while I’m sorry about the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, I’m not hot to trot to head to Houston anytime soon. But surely I digress; back to the World Series.

I’ll give you one good reason to watch the 113th World Series: Yasiel Puig. Period. 

Puig is a Cuban-born right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s fun to watch, has  comeback story that stirs the emotions, and he has a nickname like none other: it’s  “The Wild Horse”, given to him by legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. And the Dodgers have one of the best pitchers in baseball in Clayton Kershaw.  And, well, they’re the Dodgers.

So if you don’t watch the game for game itself, then watch for the gamesmanship. They keep stats for everything now. Pitch speed, bat speed, wind speed and the speed of just about anything else that’s moving. Analytics has taken over baseball to the point where everything, and I mean nearly everything, is governed by the numbers.

So here’s a number for ya; the Dodgers won 104 games had the best record in baseball this year and Houston had the third best. And the series is tied 2-2.  So this one has turned into a fairly entertaining World Series.

And then there’s the whole racial incident thing. After hitting a home run in the second inning of Game 3 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, Yuli Gurriel returned to the Astros dugout, where he used his fingers to motion at his own eyes in a mocking gesture and appeared to mouth a derogatory term in Spanish. Ouch.

And Major League Baseball is not going to suspend Gurriel until the start of the 2018 season? Really? That’s Absolutely Unacceptable.  If there’s a reason NOT to watch, that was it. Seems like another player got away with being derogatory to a minority. I’m just sayin’.

 Go Dodgers!

You Can Still Win, Even After All of Your Mistakes: Ohio State 39 – Penn State 38

 urban myer

Penn State led by 18 points TWICE and still lost. They took advantage of early Ohio State mistakes and miscues and built leads that were seemingly insurmountable. But Penn State forgot one thing; Ohio State was playing at the Horseshoe, defending their home turf in front of  109,302 raucous, rabid fans. And Ohio State remembered one thing; they remembered that you can still win after dropped passes and missed tackles and stupid penalties and untimely turnovers.  You can still win. You can come back from way back despite the darkness of your dilemma or the depth of your despair.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer surely couldn’t believe his eyes as his special teams play was less than special, giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff.   But Urban was equally incredulous after the game, becasue even after all of his team’s mistakes, they still won. So he is pointing right at you because you can still win, too. Coach Meyer knows this becasue he himself overcame heartache and almost heartbreak as he somehow, someway, coached his boys to a marvelous and miraculous come from behind win.

And you can still lose even with a big lead and a comfortable cushion. Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley  just learned that the hard way. In spite of how wonderful you think you are and how marvelous things seem to be at present, everything can unravel, quickly. Everything can come crashing down and it can all smash to pieces and all can fall apart in the blink of an eye. You can lose it all because you thought you won with time still left on the clock. So don’t get complacent or conceited even when everything is seemingly going your way. You can still surrender the lead and give away the game.  Just ask Penn State.

So hats off to J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior, some six weeks removed from his fan base questioning whether he belonged in the starting lineup, threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, leading his team in an epic comeback that will long be remembered at the Horseshoe. Barrett seized momentum and snatched a win right out of Penn States arms as they outscored Penn State 19-3 when it mattered most.  J.T. Barrett completed his last 16 passes and was a perfect 13 for 13 in the fourth quarter as he led his team to victory down the stretch over the No. 2 team in the Country with the No. 1 offense in the nation.

J.T. Barret looked like new money as he pulled a rabbit out of the hat and escaped out of a straitjacket and handcuffs better than Harry Houdini as he won a gritty, gutsy, game that no one gave him credit for being able to win. Vegas began to bet against Barrett because they said he couldn’t win the big one. But win the big one he did, and in dramatic fashion.

So remember, you can still win, despite your faults and your failures and your disappointments and even your disasters.  You CAN still win. You can come all the way back, even from the dead. The power of His resurrection is alive and well, in sports and in life. It’s called grace.  And it comes from God. And you can still find it, even after you lose it.

Why Philly Fans Are the Best

AP FILM-FOOTBALL MOVIES A ENT
Bradley Cooper with DeSean Jackson Philadelphia Eagles jeresy on playing Pat Solatano in a scene from the motion picture “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Philly fans are the best.

That’s right. Philly fans are the best. And you heard it right here on www.Godandsports.net. Yes Green Bay Packer fans and New England Patriot fans (booo!) and Golden State Warrior fans and Pittsburg Penguin fans and Ohio State Buckeye fans and LA Dodger fans may be passionate and arrogant and snobbish and boorish when it comes to their team, but Philly fans are the best. The best of the best. Why? I’m from Philly so let me tell you why.

Philly fans are fanatical, and being a fanatic is not a bad thing. Fanatical means to be marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea. And there’s nothing wrong with being a fanatic for a good cause. Enthusiasm and fervency and zeal and devotion are part and parcel of sports. And when these ingredients are missing and wanting, there’s a void and a vacuum that just can’t be filled.

Philly fans have Carson Wentz, a born again believer who’s uses his faith for football. John Gruden said it best on MNF: “Carson Wentz believes that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ helps him play football better.”  Amen brother. I am all for the combination of faith and football, and other sports too. And Carson Wentz is doing just that. 

Carson Wentz is combining his physicality with his spirituality.  He’s a bona fide believer and a darn good football player using his platform to win football games and to point others to spiritual victory.  And since Wentz has been sweetly saved by His power divine, he is be a sell out for the salvation of other sinners whose souls need saving too.  

Philly fans have Joel Embiid. And we “trust” and believe in “The Process.”  Since trust is a spiritual word, Philly fans are full of faith and energized with enthusiasm and jumping’ for joy over the fact that now our football team, (Go Eagles!) and our basketball team (DA Sixas!) are finally doing well, at the same time, and are on their way to being great.

Spiritually speaking, we all should be full of faith and hope and love. And that sums up every Philly fan. We have faith in the process, we hope to win a championship or two (soon!), and we love our teams and the players that have played for them.  And all fans everywhere should be the same way too.  

How High Can The Eagles Fly?

Eagles Nelson Agholor

Bald eagles can fly 10,000 to 15,000 feet high at about 65 mph. They can glide for hours without rest on warm updrafts of air. With their acute vision, they are able to spot prey a mile down below. Eagles swoop down at amazing speeds of 200 mph and lift up the prey with their strong talons.

Wow.  That’s incredible.

So hat’s off to any and all teams that adopt the eagle as their mascot.  And that brings us to my Philadelphia Eagles. This year’s Eagles have promise and potential that previous teams had but with one twist: now we have a quarterback and a coach and a contingent of fans that are rallying around the fact that this could be THE year. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know; you’ve heard this before but we will say it yet again.  Before was then but this is now.  

Now is a 2017 team that’s confident, not cocky; self-assured but not self-righteous; relevant and not arrogant.  And one of the big reasons that the Eagles are flying high at 5-1 is the play of wide receiver Nelson Agholor. He had is problems last year, but this year he’s a totally different bird. Talk about turnarounds. 

Now is a 2017 team that has a big game coming up on MNF, Monday Night Football against the heated NFC East rival Washington Redskins. And if the Eagles win and to 6-1, then I say that the sky is the limit.

And that’s the life lesson that sports teaches young and old, rich and poor, big and small, first round draft pick and last-minute walk on; the sky is the limit to what we can have.  Start with your dream, proceed with your desire, progress with your drive and be determined to fulfill your destiny and finish.  

So how high can these Eagles fly? Or more importantly, how high can you fly?  Don’t let anything stop you from climbing higher and flying farther and soring faster than you can even ask or think. And herein lies the beauty of Christianity. The prophet Zechariah put it this way:

 He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David.  

Zechariah 12:8

“Here is a marked difference between all other beliefs and Christianity. So clear, full, and efficient shall be the salvation of believers under the Gospel, that the feeblest among them shall be as strong, as full of courage, and as successful as David when he went against Goliath. Ergo, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)

Fly Eagles, fly.

Alonzo Ball Bounces Back  

 

Lonzo Ball

Alonzo Ball, the No. 2 Pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, scored 3 points in his rookie debut against the LA Clippers. Three points.  That’s 3 as in right after two and just before four. Ball finished the night with three points, nine rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal. At times, Ball displayed his elite court vision with lengthy, fast break passes. Other times, Ball looked passive, lacking the aggression fans hoped for from a top three draft pick. But thee points? And he only attempted six shots? Please. 

But hold the presses. One game does not a season make.  

His head coach defended his celebrated rookie recruit with this: “I think Lonzo’s getting a bad [rap] for getting destroyed his first game,”  Coach Luke Walton said before the second game of the season. “Personally, I thought he could have had a double-double with rebounds and assists [but] we didn’t make any shots. … I thought he was fine last night. It’s a good learning experience for everybody.”  http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/21096424/los-angeles-lakers-lonzo-ball-goes-one-assist-shy-triple-double-vs-phoenix-suns

It was a good learning experience indeed.

And learn quickly from this experience he did, because Ball bounced back with a bang. On Friday night in the second game of his career, Ball bounced back by flashing the kind of triple-double versatility that made the Lakers select him second overall in the draft. He displayed the kind of passing that dazzled at the Las Vegas Summer League and knocked down four 3’s, including a step-back 3-pointer.

Ball is the first teenager since LeBron James to have 29 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. His 29 points are the most by a Laker in his first or second game of his career since at least 1963. Magic Johnson scored 26 in his debut.

And that’s what we need to do. We all need to bounce back, and quickly. So don’t let a bad day or a bad night or a bad week or even a bad season set you back or hold you back. Don’t let a letdown keep you down or hold you down. Get back up and get back going!  Ball did. He’s got a lot of hype and a lot of hope riding on his shoulders, and he proved that he can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ as he flipped the script and proved all of the doubters wrong, again.

So bounce back. Get back up. Dust yourself off. Recoup and reclaim and recover all that the devil stole from you. Because it’s not how many times you fall down that counts; it’s how many times you get back up.

A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.

Proverbs 24:16

 

The Part of Life That Hurts The Most

 gordon-hayward injury

On the first night of the season, in the first game of the season, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was carried off of the floor in Cleveland after suffering a horrific-looking left ankle injury a little less than six minutes into his Boston debut Tuesday night.

Hayward’s left leg bent awkwardly as he landed under the Celtics basket with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Teammates and Cavaliers players including LeBron James rushed to check on Hayward as he was stretchered from the court.

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade knelt with his hand on his head nearby as team doctors attended to Hayward. Shell-shocked Celtics players huddled, with Kyrie Irving burying his head in the chests of teammates Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Cleveland fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was taken from the court with his entire left leg immobilized in an air cast. He was immediately taken to the Cavaliers locker room for more evaluation. James and former Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas, who recruited Hayward to Boston over the summer, went into the Cavaliers locker room where he was receiving medical attention.

Unsuspected, unpredicted, unwanted and unwarranted injuries to the best and brightest players hurt the most. And that’s just like life. Like Hayward, Aaron Rodgers was carted off of the field Sunday after the young season held so much promise and the rest of the season held so much potential. 

The possibities in Boston were endless, as Hayward teamed up with Kyrie Irving to challenge Irving’s old team and teammate, LeBron and the Cavs. But all that’s gone, at least for now.

So how do we deal with the hurt side and the down side of life? How do we deal with the wounds and injuries and bruises? How do we deal with the pain — and pain will come —especially when we were expecting to celebrate being physically healthy and emotionally wealthy and whole?

We need to take time to heal; we need to make time to mend, and we need to have time to allow God to restore our souls. Oh, and one more thing; don’t rush the healing process.  Time does not heal all wounds; God does.

The part of life that hurts the most is when we have to convalesce when we want to compete. It hurts when we have to sit when we want to run. It’s painful to see someone go through pain without the power to aid and assist in a tangible way. Someone said that sometimes we can’t do anything to help but pray.

Even when it seems like we can’t do anything, praying is everything. Because at all times, the best thing to do is pray.

Big Ben Says “Don’t Count Me Out!”

Ben Pointing

Ben Roethlisberger had the game from hell last week. He had the worst game of his illustrious, all-pro career.  He had a career-high five – count ‘em – FIVE INTs. That’s five interceptions in one game. And that’s not good.

But Ben Ben’s not done yet.  Today Ben bounced back and beat the previously undefeated Kansas Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium in KC. 

Last week, Ben threw too many interceptions and was ready to throw in the towel. Two of those INTs Jacksonville returned for touchdowns in a 30-9 loss to the Jaguars. The bitter, biting, baneful loss left the Steelers frustrated and the most prolific passer in franchise history struggling to put a finger on how things went so wrong, so quickly for a group that was expected to be among the league’s best.

Last week, just five weeks in, Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers were (3-2) and decidedly average. And then there came this from Big Ben himself:

 “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger said.

The 35-year-old was kidding. Mostly. While he tried to chalk it up as simply a bad day at the office, in reality this one was different than most. No Steelers quarterback had thrown it to the other team five times in a game since Mark Malone did it against Cleveland 30 years ago. 

https://apnews.com/79913b5d9488456bb21494f36aa1b17c/Roethlisberger%27s-rough-day-paves-way-for-Steelers%27-loss

 That was last week.  And as they say, that was then, and this is now.

Now is a 19-13 win over previously undefeated Kansas City. And this week Ben had help; big help. Pittsburg’s Steel Curtain defense regained its former, famed glory and held Alex Smith and the high powered, league leading offense to six first half yards. That would be six, as in comes after five and right before seven. And KC had one first down in the first half. Just one.  It was total domination by the Pittsburg “D” for 3 ½ quarters.

Now the Steelers are 4-2 and looking one hundred and eighty degrees better than they did in last week’s loss. That’s quite the bounce back. That’s quite the turnaround. That’s quite the statement game. And this is why we love sports. And this is why sports and faith are not foreign; nay, sports and faith are famously familiar BFFs and bosom buddies. 

Everything we do is spiritual.  Everything. Including what happens on the field, on the court, on the ice, on the track, in the pool and in the gym.   And once again, Big Ben gives us a reason to believe, a reason to hope, and another reason to get back up and get back going, again.

So take it from Big Ben. Don’t count yourself out.  Say it over and over and over again.  You can make it. And tell your enemies and your foes the same thing. Tell the naysayers and the bogus soothsayers to take a hike too. Tell them emphatically, “Don’t count me out!”