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

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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!

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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

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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.  

Is Tim Tebow Relentlessly Pursuing Failure?

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This is an excellent post from ESPN’s David Fleming, so I’m sharing it it’s entirety:

TIM TEBOW’S FIRST day of spring training unfolded pretty much exactly as expected. Before he stepped foot onto First Data Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida, his $28 Tebow 15 jersey was already available for purchase outside the ballpark. There was touching chatter about the joys of pursuing his “childhood dream” of playing baseball, not to be confused with his currently on hold “lifelong dream” of being an NFL quarterback. Many experts, after making a special point to say how nice and hard-working Tebow is, admitted that the guy who struck out 20 times in 62 at-bats during the Arizona Fall League didn’t look any more comfortable or natural as a pretend baseball player.

 None of that, of course, stopped networks, including this one, from running video of Tebow crushing home runs during his first batting practice session, titillating footage that has only slightly less correlation to actual baseball performance than sunflower-seed spitting. And, predictably, before the day was through, the New York Post had dubbed Tebow “a much more athletic Garth Brooks” while judging this spring training experiment to be Tebow’s latest, greatest feat of athletic failure. It was a declaration that Tebow seemed prepared to handle better than any curveball he has faced.

 “There are certain things in life we love and we have the chance to pursue, but a lot of the time fear of the unknown, fear of failure gets in the way,” Tebow told Marty Smith on SportsCenter at the start of camp. “If I fall flat on my face, then guess what, I’m going to get right back up again.”

 It’s a mantra that has sustained Tebow over the past five years. On Jan. 9, 2012, Tebow threw for 319 yards in a stunning 29-23 overtime win against an injury-depleted Pittsburgh defense in the AFC wild-card playoffs. Since then, though, he has grifted his way to untold riches and largely unearned opportunities with five franchises in two professions while barely bothering to alter his act. First, NFL quarterback was the dream he would relentlessly pursue, then — nope, hold up, wait a minute — it was actually baseball the entire time. In both sports, he has benefited from the same viral coverage to cloak his shortcomings, co-opted the same kind of devout “experts” to vouch for his authenticity, shown the same lack of humility and understanding of the challenges he faced, and, worst of all, exploited the same needs and dreams of fans in both sports.

What continues to make him one of the most puzzling and compelling athletes of his era, though, is not the long string of embarrassments, but rather, what seems to be Tebow’s absolute fearlessness in the face of Mets spring training, a challenge that is almost certainly going to be his greatest, most public humiliation yet.

“People will say, ‘What if you fail? What if you don’t make it?'” Tebow said at the beginning of this process. “Guess what? I don’t have to live with regret. I did everything I could. I pushed it. And I would rather be someone who can live with peace and no regret than being so scared I didn’t make the effort.”

Whether you think that’s enlightened or idiotic is up to you.

TEBOW HAS BEEN transformed into shorthand for fans, an instant litmus test. Are you a fellow dreamer and believer? Or are you one of those cold-hearted realists who worry about the minor league player who had his spring training roster spot stolen by Tebow’s publicity stunt?

In a way, he has even become a counter-culture icon, unafraid and unharmed by failure in an increasingly perfectionist society. It’s a place where icons such as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison confiscate their kid’s participation trophies and up to 75 percent of kids drop out of sports before age 14 because of a fear of failure. And so, what might be at the heart of the latest chapter of our ongoing infatuation with Tebow is the utterly unsettling way he has embraced, perfected and, yes, profited from the art of failure.

It would certainly explain this latest campaign, why at 29 he’d be so gung-ho about publicly attempting the most difficult challenge in sports — hitting Major League pitching — after more than a dozen years away from the game.

“I applaud what he’s doing. So many of us are crippled by high expectations that we tend to quit things way too early,” says Mark Anshel, a professor emeritus at Middle Tennessee State and the author of “In Praise of Failure.” “I think Tim Tebow knows exactly what he’s doing. If helping people deal with failure is how you believe you were called to serve God, then I’d say attempting to become a professional baseball player out of the blue at 29 is the absolute best place for him to be.”

Tebow ‘not going to worry’ what people think

On the first day, Tim Tebow spoke with his trademark smile and charisma, Tim Tebow added a new line to his resume: spring training attendee. What did the QB-turned-outfielder say at Mets camp, and how many BP homers did he blast?

Since the 2012 NFL playoffs, Tebow’s business as a pro athlete has been failure — and business has been good. After a brief, brilliant flash of success, the Broncos grew tired of his terrible throwing mechanics and struggles with the cognitive side of the game, and Tebow agreed to a trade to the absolute worst possible spot for a developing quarterback: the New York Jets. Tebow’s act of self-sabotage resulted in him completing just six passes behind Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy before being cut by Rex Ryan.

Not only did Tebow make the same choice when it came time to pick a baseball team, at both stops he also used his popularity and the ravenous media coverage, including a good share of it from yours truly and the rest of ESPN, to take the attention off his on-field struggles. No one remembers that on the first day Jets camp was open to the public, Tebow was so bad he completed just three passes while fans heckled him and coaches worried that he wasn’t a viable option to replace Sanchez. Instead, the only thing we remember about Tebow as a Jet was the shirtless QB jogging across the field in the rain after practice. Similarly, no one knows that Tebow went 0-for-3 in his Arizona Fall League debut or that scouts knew right away there was zero justification for his roster spot — a gift he honored by keeping his TV gig on the side. No, we remember him “saving” a fan who collapsed during an autograph session.

When his first stop in New York was over, an NFL scout told me the truest thing I have ever heard about Tebow’s athletic career. And it remains just as true in baseball: It is nearly impossible to find a teammate who will say anything bad about him as a person, or a scout who will say anything good about him as a player. “He’s a tough guy, a great leader, a great person,” an NFC scout said at the time. “He’s just not a quarterback.”

It didn’t matter. In fact, it only helped Tebow develop his brand: Failure Incorporated. The next summer, after he was unceremoniously let go by New England, Tebow vowed to go to the ends of the earth to make himself an NFL quarterback, a pledge that apparently did not extend to Canada or Orlando, where he had standing offers to hone his QB craft in the CFL and the Arena League. Stooping to play fullback or tight end, where he worried he would no longer be everyone’s focus of attention inside the huddle, was out of the question too. (And yet we believe this same guy intends to spend his summer in Single-A ball, riding a crowded, stinky bus, grinding his way through 140 games in 150 days?)

In parting ways with the Patriots, Tebow tweeted 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, in part, that “power is perfected in weakness” and, therefore, the best way to have Christ’s power dwell inside you is by boasting of your weaknesses. This seems to be the moment where Tebow was able to meld his rapidly dwindling prospects as an NFL quarterback with the universal connection to, and the spiritual rewards of, failing with honor and purpose — sometimes over and over and over again.

Despite an abundance of critics, Tebow has remained steadfast in his endeavors. The fear of failure is not something that dictates his path. Rich Schultz /Getty Images

IN 2014, TEBOW turned to former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer for tutelage and support. Dilfer and passing guru Tom House worked to improve Tebow’s throwing mechanics at the University of Southern California. But like millions of Tebow supporters, Dilfer might have been unable to separate his fondness for Tebow the man and his evaluation of Tebow the quarterback.

“This is one of the greatest players to play college football, and he didn’t know how to pass,” Dilfer raved on ESPN at the time. “I believe now he knows how to pass. Every GM, every scout, every person out there should go at least watch Tim Tebow now, because it’s a different guy.”

From – David Fleming, http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18791367/tim-tebow-relentless-pursuit-failure

World Series GRAND SLAM!

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When’s the last time you saw a grand slam in the World Series? Never? Probably so. The last grand slam home run hit in a World Series was in 2005. And so we’ve got ourselves a humdinger of a World Series. So there is hope for the Chicago Cubs, and their if’s maybe turning into when.

Yes, “if” may be turning into “when.” The Chicago Cubs are leading 7-0 (now 7-2) in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series, ON THE ROAD in Cleveland, and they seem to be on their way to tying this series at 3-3 after being down 3-1. And so I say again, the “if” may be turning to when.

When the Cubs fell behind 3-1 in games, we said that they needed a miracle. And “if” they could pray up a miracle, then “when” could come. Well . . . I believe in miracles. And the Cubbies and their championship starved fans may well have prayed up a miracle of miracles tonight as Addison Russell hit a one out Grand Slam bomb to center field to blow the game open in the bottom of the third inning.

So, the question was “if” the Cubs could hit, or when the Cubs do hit, they might be able to get back into the series. The “if” has now turned into when as the Cubs hit a Grand Slam, and they are still hitting.

So, we’ll see you at Game 7.

The Chicago Cubs Need A Miracle

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If you believe in miracles, now’s the time to pray one up for the Chicago Cubs; I mean right now. They’ve lost two in a row AT HOME in this their first World Series in forever, and if they lose tonight . . . eeeeash! 

The Chicago Cubs are down 3-1 to the upstart Cleveland Indians and things are not looking good. The Indians pitchers are hot and the Cubs bats are cold and nothing seems to be going right for the darling Cubbies. But then again, being down means that they are prime targets for a miracle, right?

So, if they don’t win and they do lose, here’s to hope. Hope always springs eternal, and the Cubbies have a young bunch which should be able to bounce back and be ready to do it next year, right?

But what was that? Wait until next year? Or there’s always next year? It’s one of them.