Hooray For Houston!

 Houston Astros Sports_Illustrated 2017

The Houston Astros just won their first ever World Series, the first and only in the 56 year history of the team. Good for them. They made it through a topsy, turvy seven game series with the LA Dodgers, and came out on top.  And the City of Houston made it through Hurricane Harvey, and it coming out on top of that tough time too. The Astros have many ties to Puerto Rico as well, beginning with Correa and Beltran, and World Series MVP George Springer is half Puerto Rican. So the Astros won not only Houston, but for Puerto Rico,  which was devastated by another powerful Hurricane, Irma. 

I’m not a Houston fan, but I’m glad for them. So I’m not going to hate. Yes I was rooting for the Dodgers, but the Astros won it fair and square.  And they won it for the City of Houston, and that’s pretty special. AND Sports Illustrated called it (albeit 3 years ago, but they called it! How about that!

Never mind Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish got chased out of) his second horrific World Series outing. Never mind Darvish shouldn’t even have been in the game (because of his poor previous play), much less start the Seventh Game of the World Series!  Never mind the game was lost in the dugout by the Dodgers Skipper, Dave Roberts who started Darvish. And never mind the Dodgers still had chance after chance to get back into the game, even after digging a five run hole for themselves. In the bottom of the second, they had the bases loaded with their hottest hitter, Joc Pederson, at the plate, but came up empty and left all three base runners stranded. Oh well.

So Houston won the World Series. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there’s bad sports news coming out of Houston as well. Houston fans had to go from World Series celebration to losing their star QB, Deshaun Watson because of a torn ACL in practice. Michael Wilbon said “the feel good” from the Astros’ World Series title didn’t last as long as it should have because of Watson’s injury.

In sports and in life, we rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep, and mourn with them that mourn.

God Loves Sports! Another World Series Game 7

 Joc Pederson

Whoever said that God doesn’t like sports hasn’t been watching the 2017 World Series. There’ve been enough plot twists and script flips and stories of redemption to fill up every stadium from Boston to Baltimore and from Seattle to San Diego, and every Midwestern city in between. There have been walk offs and pitching duels, batting slumps and more home runs that ever before. Ever.  

This will be the third World Series Game 7 in four years. The home team had won nine straight since 1979 before San Francisco triumphed at Kansas City in 2014 and the Chicago Cubs captured their first title since 1908 at Cleveland last year.

There is something mystical and even mysterious about Game a 7. When a seven game series boils down to a one game, no holds barred, winner take all contest, it seems as if anything is possible. Anything.  And that’s why we love sports, and that’s why we believe God loves sports too.

A Game 7 is special because the number seven is special.” Did you know that there are 7 layers of skin (2 outer and 5 inner), that ocean waves roll in sevens, the rainbow has 7 colors, sound has 7 notes, there are 7 directions, and that the Jewish Menorah has 7 candles? There are 7 holes in your head (go ahead and count them), the earth was created in 7 days (including a day of rest), a cube has 7 dimensions (including the inside), the male body has 7 parts, and the number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible.” Wow.

“Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things. According to Jewish tradition, the creation of Adam occurred on October 7th, 3761 B.C. (or the first day of Tishri, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar).  The word ‘created’ is used 7 times describing God’s creative work (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27 three times; 2:3; 2:4).

There are 7 days in a week and the Sabbath is on the 7th day. There are 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, 7 classical planets, 7 numbers in a N/A phone number (after the area code), 7 hills in Istanbul, Rome and Jerusalem, 7 liberal arts, and 7 wonders of the ancient world.  AND, 7 is the number of games in the playoffs for NHL, NBA and MLB  The number 7 is also important in Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.”  http://www.kitco.com/commentaries/2015-08-13/-7-What-s-so-special-about-the-number-7.html

And this brings us to this year’s World Series comeback hero and new Mr. Joctober, Joc Pederson. Pederson, still only 25, is hitting .357, has hit three home runs and has five RBIs in the 2017 World Series.

“Two years after nearly winning the Home Run Derby, LA Dodgers Joc Pederson spent the end of this summer in purgatory, triple-A Oklahoma City, where hit .143. The once-firm premise that he could contribute to the Dodgers’ championship aspirations became preposterous. The team elected to carry struggling reliever Pedro Baez instead of him during the National League division series.

But that was then and this is now. Now The last Dodger to hit three home runs in one World Series was Davey Lopes, in 1978. The last Dodger to hit more was Duke Snider, in 1955. In World Series history, only three players have ever managed five or more extra-base hits and no singles in one series. Pederson is one, as is his teammate, Chase Utley.” http://www.latimes.com/sports/mlb/la-sp-dodgers-joc-pederson-20171031-story.html

After the come from behind Game 6 win which forced a Game 7, Pederson sat in the interview room with his older brother, Champ, who has Down Syndrome. “I have a feeling that everything is possible,” Champ said. “I’m not going to say they have it, but I’m just going to say they will find a way.”

 

This is why we love sports and Game 7s.

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!

Note to the Nats: Now, You Have To Win!

Washington_Nationals_logo_svg

Last night a young, little known, Washington Nationals outfielder took the plate in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. And guess what happened? You got it – Michael A. Taylor  hit a GRAND SLAM home run!  It’s only the first postseason grand slam in the Nat’s short history. The Nats were already winning 1-0, and the grand slam sealed the deal.

Before Taylor’s late inning heroics, National’s Ace Stephen Strasburg shook off an illness and pitched seven dominant innings, and held the Cubs scoreless as he beat Chicago in Chicago AT Wrigley Field to send their NL Division Series to a decisive Game 5 at Nationals Park tonight, October 12th, 2017.

And in Game 2,  entering the eighth, Washington trailed 3-1. But all hope was not lost. Enter Adam Lind. In his first career postseason game, Lind hit a single to rekindle hope. No outs. Trea Turner, who has struggled all series, again struck out in a big moment, but star and boy wonder Bryce Harper made the most of his, hitting a massive two-run shot to tie the game. Later in the inning, elder statesman Ryan Zimmerman had his hero moment: a three-run homer to put the Nationals up 6-3. And that would do it, as the Nationals held on to win, 6-3.

Now, all the Nats have to do is win Game 5 at home against the defending champion Chicago Cubs. That’s it. No problem, right?  The only problem is that the Nats have NEVER won a playoff series.  Never ever. And they’ve lost Game 5’s at home. But that could all change tonight.

The same goes for you and me too. Past failures and fumbles can all be washed away with one swing of the bat.  The setbacks we’ve suffered and meltdowns we’ve mustered and the lossess  and  let downs we’ve lived with can and will be forgiven and forgotten in a moment.

Because the turnaround can start today.

Cleveland Breaks The Record!

Cleveland Indians Logo

Don’t settle for what others have done. The path to victory is paved with the desire to exceed and excel and extend and expand upon what has gone before and what has already been. Newness of life and freshness of spirit are Heaven’s specialty.  God is all about newness and novelty and innovation and imagination.  So if you’re feeling drab and glum and sad and bummed out, break the record.

Don’t be a broken record. Don’t keep repeating the same ole, same ole to your own detriment and demise. Break the record. Do something different, special and exciting that will get the juices flowing. This urban idiom is one of my favorites. According to The Urban Dictionary, “ ‘Get The Juices Flowing’ means to become inspired to greater creativity, productivity, or energy, or to cause such a feeling in someone.” Isn’t that great?

So don’t miss how important and significant it is for the Cleveland Indians to win 21 games in a row. They broke the consecutive wins record of 20 games set by the Oakland Athletics, who won 20 consecutive games in 2002. The Indians are now tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs of the National League with 21 straight wins.

Why is this such a big deal? First, setting records and then breaking others is spiritual.   “The most recent record setting win was a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon in a game sealed by a diving Lonnie Chisenhall catch, evoking a postseason-worthy roar from the 29,346 in attendance and that gave goosebumps to anybody with a sporting soul”. That’s right. If you have a “sporting soul” you understand why breaking records in sports and in life is eerie and even ethereal. http://m.indians.mlb.com/news/article/254088838/indians-21-game-win-streak-against-all-odds/   

“This is the longest win streak in the 116-year history of the American League. It is tied for the second-longest win streak of all-time. It is the most consecutive games any team has won in 82 years. It is a baseball streak that is very much anti-baseball, because it counters everything we know about the humbling nature of a game played just about every day, a game in which ‘momentum is the next day’s starter’ and ‘Hall of Famers fail seven out of 10 times’ and all those other truisms you’ve heard time and again.’”  http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/sports/indians-set-mark-with-21st-straight-win-now-chase-disputed-mlb-record/CMFfkKn1OLvOQi4AW8ehXP/ Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

So, this is for those of us who relish swimming upstream and skirting across the field and cutting against the grain: let’s find a record to break. Let’s prove to all of the “go with the flow,” humdrum, dull, droll, dreary denizens of life that breaking records and reaching beyond our grasp is indeed worth the extra effort after all.

Is It Time For Football Yet?

Houston Astros Sports_Illustrated 2017 Don’t get me wrong, but I like baseball. I do. I really do.  And I like watching the boys of summer. And I’m not trying to wish the summer away, but . . . is it time for football yet?  I mean, it’s July; it’s hot; the grass is dead; it’s July, (it bears repeating) and it just seems like we’re entering the dog days of summer with no end in sight. But alas, there’s hope. There is always hope.

Baseball is ruling the day because the basketball season is long over, hockey is a long forgotten memory, and it’s too hot for football. So what’s a sport’s fan to do? Watch the Houston Astros? Not!  

Don’t get me wrong, as the Astros are the hottest thing in baseball since peanuts and Cracker Jack.  Sports Illustrated is even picking these same Astros to be the 2017 World Series Champs.  Really! We’ll see. And if they do win, I’ll be kicking myself for not paying attention to them all summer long. 

(But Lord please bring us some football!)

So let’s be patient and enjoy the summer while we have it.  Patience is a virtue, and we shouldn’t complain about anything, even the fact that my Phillies stink. Yes, my Phillies stink and I don’t like the Washington Nationals, so I’m not watching baseball, at least for now.

So let’s be thankful for what we’ve got, and that’s baseball in the middle of the summer. Yes, that’s it! Let’s be thankful; sports wise, and otherwise too.

With Jesus, God Hit A Home Run

Home Run Derby Logo

The Urban Dictionary says that hitting a home run is synonymous with going all the way with your girl, colloquially speaking. Biblically, marriage is the place for the union of a man and a woman. Home runs can be hit all day within the sanctity of the union of a husband and wife. That’s in God’s playbook. Because this coming together of a man a woman is so wondrous and so wonderful, the Bible calls it “a great mystery.”

Sports and heavy theology may be too much for folks to fathom here in a sports blog, but I’m going to give it a whirl anyway.  In Ephesians, Paul says that Jesus is the husband and His bride is the church. And every believer is a part of the church, so we all,  collectively, are married to Jesus. Heavy stuff, huh? So that’s why I’m not going to argue with the Urban Dictionary on their definition of a home run. Got me?

Home runs are the “touchdowns” of baseball and they are the primary, principle and preeminent way that you score on the diamond. Yes you can hit a double or a sacrifice fly and bat a run in (the statisticians call this an RBI), but nothing quite compares to hitting a home run when the game is on the line. To be sure, home runs stand at the pinnacle of America’s game.

Spiritually speaking, God hit a home run with Jesus.  Believe it or not, believe in Him or not, Jesus is a historical figure that changed history. Mankind was behind and had no way to catch up. God, in his infinite wisdom, called on and sent in Jesus to save the day.

And Jesus came in and hit it out the park. His virgin birth and His claim to be the Son of God were just the beginning and were the start of something big. He then performed miracles; Jesus opened blind eyes, healed the sick, cured lame men and women, cast out demons, and even raised the dead.  And if that wasn’t enough, he died on the cross for our sins and then rose again on the third day. If that’s not home run material, I don’t know what is.

So if you need someone to step up to the plate and hit a home run and win the game for you, call on Jesus.  Call Him in to pinch hit when you’re down and almost out. I guarantee that He will hit a grand slam homerun for you.