“Cholly” Manuel is back home in Philly and he’s making a big and immediate difference.
Charlie, aka “Cholly” Manuel, will be beloved in Philly forever because he won us a World Series as manager of the Phillies in 2008 and led the team to five consecutive postseason appearances from 2007-11. In nine seasons as Phils’ skipper, he went 780-636, a .551 winning percentage, accumulating move victories than any manager in team history. And before he left town Cholly said “I’ll be Back!” Well not quite, but it makes for a good story.
Now Cholly is baaaaaack! He’s back as the Phillies hitting coach, replacing John Mallee. Here’s what Ethan Witte and John Stolnis from SB Nation, a Philadelphia Phillies community, had to say about it all:
“That John Mallee has been replaced isn’t too much of a shock. Something had to be done as there was such a malaise surrounding the team, especially the hitters. The fact that Charlie Manuel is tasked with taking the reigns is the shocker. We’ve all known how much Cholly loves hitting. That the team knows this and recognizes not only his expertise, but realizes that something had to be done is absolutely huge. However, the questions this decision raises are fascinating.
Manuel is the most successful manager in franchise history and is a beloved figure in the city. How will he work with the current embattled manager, Gabe Kapler? Will Kapler feel threatened? Will Manuel get credit for turning the season around if the offense improves and the team starts winning? Is it smart for the Phils to turn to a more old-school baseball figure in an era when most teams are hiring young baseball minds?”
These are all good questions. The jury still might be out but the early election returns are in: in the Phillies last 4 games they’ve scored 30 runs, and they scored 11 against they’re old teammate, Cole Hammels. Not too shabby.
Yes, Cholly is back, and what a comeback. And talk about a turnaround!
So, even at the tender old age of 75, Cholly is making a difference. And that means that you and I, at whatever younger age we are than Cholly, can make a difference too.
Some wins don’t come easy. And some loses come after you’ve given it all you’ve got. So is the story of Game 3 of the 2018 World Series played at storied Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles between the Boston Red Sox and the LA Dodgers. It has become an instant classic for its longevity and its lesson on durability.
Late into the Pacific time zone night and early into the East Coast morning, neither team was willing to yield an inch in this pivotal, potentially Series deciding game between these two baseball superpowers. It was a vintage Ali-Frazier, 15 Round heavyweight fight which left both boxers bloody and bludgeoned. After 18 innings of jitters and nerves, the Dodgers emerged, or rather survived, this bought with the hope and confidence that they can yet pull another rabbit of their hat and actually win this Series. Lose the game and they would be down 0-3; win and they cut the deficit to 2-1; it’s a difference and differential that’s as wide and wanton as you can get. No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit in the World Series.
We all like quick and easy. We all like instant and immediate. We all like it and want it now, and when we’re in a hurry, “right now.” But life is not always so obliging. Life does not always cooperate with our desires and demands. The hard but necessary lesson is this: Heaven uses the vicissitudes of life to teach us that what we want does not always come when we want it. Sometimes we are required to wait it out and tough it out. Sometimes we have to persist and preserve through an 18 inning type of trial and suck it up and stick it out until victory is won.
It’s a part of our spiritual training and is a page out of God’s playbook. To endure and to stand and to stomach and hold on and hold out will teach us how much God loves us and how much He has already endured for us, especially on the Cross. Ours is to trust that He still knows what’s best for us.
I don’t know where you are, but that’s where I’m at, because “life can be queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns . . . but just don’t quit.”
Here’s how ESPN Staff Writer Bradford Doolittle put it:
“With a Cody Bellinger throw and a Max Muncy blow, the Los Angeles Dodgers have crawled back into the World Series. It only took the longest game in the history of the Fall Classic to do it.
Muncy’s dramatic opposite-field home run in the 18th inning off Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi lifted the Dodgers to a will-testing 3-2 win in Game 3 of the World Series, which started late Friday afternoon but ended early Saturday morning, cutting the Red Sox’s lead in the World Series to 2-1.
It was L.A.’s first walk-off Series win since Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 homer off Dennis Eckersley in 1988, which sparked the Dodgers to their last title. Muncy became the first player to hit a game-ending homer in a World Series game since former Cardinal and current Dodger David Freese in 2011. Not bad for a player who was released by the Oakland A’s before last season.
“It’s been a dream,” Muncy said. “This whole year has been a surreal experience that it’s hard to put into words. Just getting a chance to play in the World Series has kind of capped it off. Getting a chance to hit a walk-off home run, obviously there’s not many words I can use to describe that. The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement.”
The Boston Red Sox won 108 games this year, the most in franchise history and just the fourth time a Red Sox team won 100 or more games in their 117-year history. The New York Yankees won 100 games. They are playing each other in the playoffs, specifically the American League Divisional Series, for what seems like the umpteenth time. And so for the first time in history, both the Red Sox and Yankees have 100 wins in the same season, but it is Boston who came out on top in the American League East. Seemingly never slowing down, the Red Sox never lost more than three games in a row, and only did that twice in the course of a long season. With two MVP candidates in outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and a strong starting rotation, the Red Sox are set up to make a long playoff run.
Boston’s bitter rival didn’t have too shabby a year either and they too expect to go deep into the playoffs. Looking at history, when the Yankees had the most wins in a season, they won the World Series. The 1998 Yankees won 114 games in the regular season and then steamrolled to an 11-2 playoff record, including a World Series sweep of the San Diego Padres. With a 125-50 overall record, the best ever, it’s hard to ignore this team when you talk about the all-time greats. That 1998 Yankees teem had the all-star bats of Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams and a young Derek Jeter as well as the arms of Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, David Cone and David Wells, which enabled the Bronx Bombers to finish the year 22 games ahead of the Red Sox to win the AL East. Jeter led the league in runs and hits while Williams won the batting title. Cone compiled his fist 20-win season in a decade, and Wells pitched a perfect game.
Since 1969, only 12 teams have recorded baseball’s best record and gone on to win the World Series that season. So, once again, we learn that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, the year of the miracle in October, they finished with a 98–64 record, three games behind the Yankees in the American League East. But they came back from 0 – 3 to defeat their arch rival in a dramatic seven game American League Championship Series, and went on to sweep St. Louis to win their first World Series since trading Babe Ruth.
Yes it’s time for baseball in October, and so anything is possible.
“Senator John McCain died on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the age of 81 after succumbing to brain cancer. The longtime Arizona state senator was best known for running for president against Barack Obama in 2008 and for being a Vietnam War hero who survived despite being tortured as a P.O.W. McCain was also a big sports fan who had a profound impact on the sports world during his time in congress. That is the part of his legacy that we would like to explore.
During his political career, McCain had a big hand in the reformation of baseball, boxing, and the UFC, as well as other sports. Matching his conservative ideology, McCain often focused on more fairness and rules to protect athletes.
McCain was one of the big reasons why MLB introduced a drug testing program that helped end the steroids era in the sport.
Even though the use of steroids was illegal in the country, MLB’s drug testing was extremely lax (just one test per year), with light penalties. That led to the game being overridden by steroids users for around a decade between the early 1990s to the early 2000s. In order to get the sport to clean up the drug use, McCain, acting in his role as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, threatened federal legislation if MLB did not introduce a harsher drug policy.
“Major league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don’t, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing,” McCain said in Dec. 2004. “I’ll give them until January, and then I’ll introduce legislation.”
In 2006, MLB introduced its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The program included more comprehensive testing as well as significantly harsher penalties to discourage cheating.
His big reason for pushing for harder drug testing? “What I care about are high school athletes who are tempted to use steroids because they think that’s the only way they can make it in the major leagues,” McCain said in a 2004 ESPN article on the matter.
McCain also supported bills that pushed for Shoeless Joe Jackson to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and legislation to honor Jackie Robinson.
McCain was a lightweight boxer and huge fan of the sport. He also worked hard to help improve the sport with regulations aimed at protecting fighters medically and from financial exploitation.
In 1996, his Professional Boxing Safety Act bill was passed. The bill mandated all boxing matches be supervised by a state athletic commission; fighters be physically tested before being medically cleared to fight; health insurance coverage for each fighter; and the presence of an ambulance and medical personnel at each fight.
As positive as those changes were, he made even more contributions later with the passing of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. The Ali Act, which came into law in 2000, sought to prevent fighters from being exploited. The act mandated a separation between promoters and managers so that a fighter’s best interest would be represented. The act sought to end widespread corruption in the sport.
“If we can pass this legislation, there’s some hope,” McCain said in an ESPN article by Tim Graham before the legislation was passed. “I believe that boxers are the most exploited of all professional athletes. They come from the lowest economic rung, and they generally are the least educated, and they’re in the only major sport that’s not unionized.”
McCain was not a fan of the UFC, which he compared to “human cockfighting” back in 1997. He was one of the biggest enemies of the organization, which began without weight classes or rules, notoriously holding an “anything goes” attitude. McCain’s criticism and issues with the UFC led to it being pulled from pay-per-view and banned in every state around 20 years ago. The UFC began to clean up the sport little by little, introducing rules and regulations, and seeking legalization state by state. In 2014, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta credited McCain’s toughness for helping the league gain legitimacy.
“I have to give him credit,” Fertitta said. “Without him doing what he did back in the ’90s to force regulation, this sport would be dead. It wouldn’t exist. Honestly, for all the negatives he caused, he actually allowed the sport to foster and grow.”
McCain’s influence on sports doesn’t end there. During his political career, he sought to ban gambling on college sports. More recently, he sought to end government spending on military recognition at sports events, which many thought were done out of patriotism rather than commercialism.
McCain was incredibly accomplished and worked hard to improve the sports world. His work in the sports arena has had a great effect and will continue to long after his death.”
That’s right folks; the Philadelphia Phillies are in first place in the National League East. And they’re looking good doing it. Well, kinda good. It’s a stunning turn of events. The Nationals were SUPPOSED to be the best team in the East, but not so. And the Braves came out this season with a little something to prove, but they find themselves going neck and neck with the Phils. And I love it.
It seems like this: every time I watch Sports Center or pay a little too much attention to my ESPN App or am a little too concerned about the standings, they’re losing or they’ve lost. Conversely, when I don’t pay attention or forget to check in or deliberately say “whatever” in a good, unfazed and nonplussed way, they win! So, is that the formula and the principle — don’t be anxious, don’t worry about it, and don’t sweat the small stuff?
It seems like the same philosophy that pays in life works for us on the field of play too, and vice versa. In essence, sports and life are teaching us, and each other, the same lesson. It seems, yea rather, it is in fact the prescription for a stress free, worry free life. Whatever happens, in spite of what happens, and yea, even BECAUSE of what happens, we must learn to live this way. The ticket to being “care free” in this life of cares is that feel-good, Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” . . . in Jesus!
And here’s our scriptural ammunition for the fight:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. New American Standard Updated Version
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. New Living Translation
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Bryce Harper vowed to enter, and win, the MLB Homerun Derby if and when the All Star Game was held in his hometown. Well, last night was the night. In dramatic, come from behind, flamboyant fashion, Bryce Harper avoided flaming out at home as he was “on the verge of an anticlimactic ending. Instead Harper began a furious comeback with a nod and some family karma. Down 18-9 to the Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber in the final round, Bryce went deep nine times in a span of 10 swings to tie it at the end of regulation. Then he drove the second pitch of bonus time over the fence in center field to win the thing, and all sorts of raw emotions came flooding to the surface.
As magenta steamers rained down from high above the stands behind home plate, Harper walked triumphantly down the first-base line with his bat raised high above his head. Then teammates Sean Doolittle and Max Scherzer came out and handed him the Home Run Derby trophy, and Martinez lifted him off the ground in a mammoth bear hug. It was a moment of sweet relief and unbridled joy in a season with too many negative undertones.
It was a welcome respite for a town and a team playing trying to live up to the hype.
The Washington Nationals are playing below expectations and their boy wonder is having a so-so year. He’s hitting .214. and his 23 home runs are offset by 102 strikeouts and a .187 batting average since the start of May. The Nationals are 5½ games behind first-place Philadelphia and five back of second-place Atlanta in the National League East, and they’re going to have to pick up their play considerably to avoid being one of 2018’s colossal disappointments.
While Harper struggles, Manny Machado is having a more productive season in Baltimore and laying an early claim to the bigger payday in the offseason. Somber, distracted and underachieving are never a good recipe for getting the most out of a free-agent “walk” year.
The 2018 Home Run Derby took on extra meaning for Harper, who participated in the event as a shoutout to the home crowd in what might be his final season in Washington. For sentimentalists, he brought along his father, Ron, as his designated Derby pitcher.
And that’s the beauty of sports. It gives us a taste and a glimpse of what God gives us heaps and hordes of, and that’s victories and triumphs with a flair for the dramatic. David defeated Goliath and his unheralded victory had a flair for the dramatic. Moses parted the Red Sea as the children of Israel fled Pharoah and his army, and that escape from Egypt had a flair for the dramatic. And of course our Lord was crucified on the old rugged cross, and His resurrection from the dead had a flair for the dramatic.
It’s officially time to watch baseball fanatically! Just don’t be like the Phillies mascot who injured a female fan by nailing her in the face with a hot dog shot out of the hot dog cannon. Sheesh.
It’s officially summertime so that means that the boys of summer now get to take center stage. The NBA just crowned the Golden State Warriors again and the surprising Washington Capitals finally captured Lord Stanley’s Cup, after a very long chase. So all that remains is baseball.
What’s that you say? The World Cup is being played in Russia? Seriously? So why didn’t the good ole US-of-A get invited? Huh? They didn’t qualify? Really? I thought Trump and Putin were buddies?
Anyway, it’s now time to pay attention to baseball. What’s that you say? The WNBA is playing their summer league season? Like I said, it’s time to pay attention to baseball and the boys of summer (no offense to the basketball ladies, but the WNBA just doesn’t do it for me).
Anyway, back to baseball. The Evil Empire New York Yankees and their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox, are at again, going at it, neck and neck, tooth and nail, and it’s fun to watch — the standings that is. I mean, it’s just June and we have a pennant race! And that’s not the only one.
My Philly Phillies just whipped and whupped the presumptive National League favorite to go to the World Series, the Washington Nationals, 12 – 2, and reclaimed second place in the East! Whoop whoop! So there! Here’s what one ESPN writer had to say about my Phillies:
“In the opener of a three-game set in D.C., the Phillies trounced the Nationals 12-2, in the process leapfrogging them for second place in the NL East. Philly is now 8-3 in its past 11 games, while Washington is 3-8 in its past 11. Even though the division rivals will square off twice more this weekend, not to mention 13 more times after that, and even though there’s over half a season still left to play, the upstart Phils sent a clear message on what turned out to be a Freaky Friday: They’re not planning on going away anytime soon.”
And there are other races worth watching too, like the National League Central with Milwaukee and the Cubbies going head to head and the National League West with Arizona and the Dodgers going neck and neck. And did I mention it’s still June? Pennant races aren’t supposed to start untill late August or mid September. Man!
So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go to the TV, take the remote, tune in to the guide (remember the actual TV Guide that came with the Sunday paper? My little sister and I used to fight over it all the time, but then again she had it memorized) — err, where was I?
Oh yeah- it’s time to watch, and pay attention to baseball!