A Good Loss and A Bad Win

 Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles defeated the LA Rams 43-35. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we lost our MVP-Candidate quarterback, Carson Wentz to a torn ACL injury.  That’s a win that’s almost not worth it. We won the NFC East but we lost our star QB.

A bad win is a win won when it is not valued or treasured. It is a win won without appreciation or full comprehension of the cost of victory. A bad win is when you win without recognizing with gratitude that it could have gone the other way.

A good loss is a loss that teaches meanings and morals and mottos and maxims. No one wants to lose, but there are times when a loss is just what the doctor ordered. We must realize that in sports and in life, all is not lost when a loss is redemptive and reformative. In actuality, after a positive loss, there can be much gain. This is the balance of life.

So take it from me and my Philly teams.  Last week the Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks and the Sixers lost to the LA Lakers and they were not good losses.  Both teams were listless and lethargic lacked the energy and effort needed to pull off a win. The Eagles never got off of the ground, and yet they were “in it” until the end. And the Sixers were behind by 16 at home but yet still tied the game with less than a minute to go. Both could have pulled it out and stole the game but lacked the leadership that was necessary to turn the tide and pull off come from behind wins worthy of mention. 

So let’s take careful stock of our wins, and let’s not bemoan all of our losses.  In fact, let’s be thankful for our wins and our losses. There is nothing to be gained from a bad win, and much to be learned from a good loss.

When Bad Teams Play

Redskins.Dallas

The 5-6 Dallas Cowboys are hosting the 5-6 Washington Redskins in prime time. So why bother? 

The fans on each side are saying that this is a “must win” game for each team. Oh brother. Again I ask, “Why bother watching?”  It’s been called the best rivalry in sports. Normally, at least Yankees/Red Sox fans and Michigan/Ohio State fans would beg to differ, but the entire sports world is begging to differ tonight. Tonight when they play on Thursday Night Football, each team will be a shell of their old selves. Dak Prescott is not the Dak Prescott of last year; not by far. And Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, well, let’s just say that they always think they’re in contention.  Poor things.

You know what happens when bad teams play? You get poor play because of poor performers which leads to a poor performance. Essentially, it’s garbage in and garbage out. And who wants to waste precious time watching two lame ducks duke it out to the death?

Dallas has its share of problems: “Now in the middle of what will ultimately be a six-game suspension on their star RB, Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys’ offense is in shambles. After averaging a stout 28.25 points per game over the first eight contests, they’ve now failed to score 10 points in three consecutive games — the worse stretch in franchise history. That precipitous nose dive also includes a ‘frustrated’ Prescott admittedly playing some of his worst football, delivering only 500 total passing yards and no touchdowns, but five interceptions. He had only four all of last season.

It’s a long fall from the MVP-caliber numbers Dak Prescott was delivering only one month ago, and the correlation to the absence of Elliott can no longer be denied even if it’s not the sole reason for the downturn. Play calling certainly hasn’t helped his cause, as the Cowboys have also been attempting to overcompensate for the loss of Elliott versus riding impressive outings from Alfred Morris.” https://247sports.com/nfl/dallas-cowboys/Bolt/Dallas-Cowboys-coaches-weigh-in-on-if-absence-of-Ezekiel-Elliott-is-reason-for-poor-Dak-Prescott-play-111288651

And the Redskins have had their share of woes this season too.  So what’s one to do?  Can either team pull out a winning season and make the playoffs?  It’s doubtful, but then again that’s where it all starts. Doubt is the devil that destroys destiny. So since one team has to win (barring a tie, which would be laughable), one team has an outside chance at righting the ship and saving the season.

And therein lies the lesson: there’s always hope. You have to believe that there’s always a chance, a likelihood, a probability and a possibility that things can and will turn around. But first you have to believe that there’s hope, and that there’s hope for you, and that hope will help you too.  

Note From Drew Brees: “You Can Still Pull It Out”

Drew Brees

Some wins make you feel like you can take a running start and with one leap, jump clear over the moon. Just Ask Drew Brees.  And some losses make you so sick you can hardly breathe. Such is life. There are great, glorious wins and then there are bad, terrible, horrible loses, especially when the win was sewn up and packed away but yet you let it get away, anyway. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

There cardinal sins and there are cardinal rules. And in sports they essentially collide and combine and become one and the same.  And here’s the most critical one: don’t blow the lead late in the game. Period. End of discussion. The game aint over til it’s all over. But this week, the Redskins didn’t get the memo. 

The New Orleans Saints just came back from 15 points down with 5:38 remaining and stunned the Washington Redskins 34 -31 in OT at the Super Dome. Drew Brees got hot and the Skins defense got burned for two touchdowns and a two point conversion in the waning moments of a thriller as the Saints won their 8th straight game in fantastic fashion.

So what story line is more important? The Satins coming back to win or the Redskins falling back to lose?  Of course the positive is the comeback win. The Saints held on with their fingernails all game and managed to creep and crawl and climb their way back into the game and eke out an exciting, electrifying victory.

But you can also learn a lot from a loss.  And since that’s the case, the Redskins should be awarded an earned a PhD in how not to blow a game.  Seriously though, many of the greats say that they learned more from loses and defeats than wins and victories .

And so, the moral of the story is this: momentum is everything. Everything. The Redskins had the momentum in this game but let her get away. So learn this lesson: momentum is like the girl at the seventh grade dance that you didn’t come with (because you went stag) but you long to leave with. When you get her, keep her. Guard her to the death, and defend her with your life. Because, when you lose momentum, you’ve essentially lost the game.

Predict Your Future

Embiid and Simmons

Here’s a sports prophesy that I hope comes true: The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers will win it all, in 3 years or so, give or take.  There. I said it.

Sports prognosticators predict wins and losses and victories and defeats. But this is not a prediction, per se. I have a prophecy,  that I hope comes true. It’s a  Type 1Prophecy, meaning it’s a prediction made based on human intuition and analysis of facts. It’s not from God, even though I hope heaven is in on this one.

There are true prophets and false prophets. And no true prophet wants to be confused with a false prophet.  And the problem with prophecy is that in order to be valid and legitimate it has to come true. So, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to prophesy.  It’s a sports prophecy. So here goes: the Sixers will win the NBA Championship within 4 years.  (Did I say 3 before?) There I said it, and here’s why:

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem destined to be at dynamic duo set out to destroy defenses across the NBA for quite some time.  So why not shoot for the top?

In LA, Embiid scored 32 points against the Clippers and then, just two short nights later,  Embiid put up monster, if not historic numbers: he scored 46, that’s Forty Six points, had 15 rebounds and 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers at Staples Center. Not too shabby for a second year big man that can hit threes with ease.   And Simmons was one rebound short of ANOTHER triple double.  And thus Simmons and Embiid have saved the Sixers.

Simmons is a Saviour; or, as some would say, he’s a savior of sorts. He was the No. 1 Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s going to a team and a city that is in desperate need of saving. And so far, Simmons is averaging 17.8, points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Not bad for a rookie.  And the 76ers other all-star candidate, Joel Embiid, is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

The Greek work for Saviour is Soter, meaning deliverer. To deliver from danger and death is the purpose of intent and the supreme significance of Biblical salvation. To deliver means to rescue and to defend, both morally and physically, as opposed to being lost and destroyed. And to deliver and save is the herculean task of a Saviour. To save is to revive and retrieve and resurrect to life and health and wholeness.

For Philly, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are just what “The Dr.” ordered., becaseu the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release.  And you may be too. So predict your future. And call out for salvation, because you need to participate in your own resurrection.

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Simmons was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Markelle Fulz, who has barely played, was the No. 1 pick this year. A generation ago, as it is hoped now, the No. 1 pick became a Saviour of sorts, and went on to become Philly’s favorite son: Allen Iverson. “AI” didn’t win an NBA championship, but he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1996–97 season. Iverson was also the NBA MVP for the 2000-2001 season, and just this year he was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

So While I hope Embiid and Simmons deliver, I don’t have to hope about Heaven. There is a heaven and there is a hell, just like the Bible says.  Isreal became a nation, just like the prophets predicted, and we are living in perilous times, just as the Apostle Paul, a New Testament prophet fortold.

 As for my predictive prophecy about the Sixers wining it att, the city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. With Ebiid’s 46 point performance against LA the other night, the wait for a good team is over. Now we just have to wait Embiid and Simmons to become a great team, and deliver a championship.  Just like Moses arriving in Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh, Jesus came and delivered all who believe in Him from the power of sin and shame.

As a Philly fan, I long for another glorious season of winning and ruling and dominating in ANY sport, so why not start with roundball? (or football  for that matter– GO EAGLES! Fly Eagles fly, on to victory . . .  I just had to get that in.)

Anyway, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

A Good Kid Does A Bad Thing

LaVar-Ball_HS-Sons-

UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball comes from a high profile family. His father, Lonzo Ball, is frank and forthright, can be outspoken and has been underestimated; he may have a big mouth but he’s also got an oversized vision of his sons’ basketball future. And you can’t blame him for that.

But this is not about dear ole dad. This is about his middle son, who by all accounts is a good kid who did a bad thing. It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing.  But we’ve all done upsetting and disappointing things at one time or another. And most of us are thankful that our missteps and mistakes didn’t make front page news. The hope here is that LiAngelo can come back and turn this thing around for good.

Here’s the skinny on what happened to LiAngelo Ball and two of his teammates in China:

“UCLA faces the embarrassing prospect of opening its season without three freshman players who have been benched after being released on bail following an alleged shoplifting incident in China. LiAngelo Ball and his Bruins teammates are in Hangzhou, China to play Georgia Tech in the team’s season-opener this Friday–except Ball, along with fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will probably miss the game.

As time as gone by, it now appears that LiAngelo Ball and these two teammates will not play when the Bruins open the season against Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in Shanghai, Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday. ESPN, which will carry the game, first reported the news. In fact, they might miss other Bruins games (plural) when the team returns home to the States. And it won’t be because these players suffered injuries or illness. It will be because they are still in China–and possibly in a Chinese jail.

The three players were arrested on Tuesday for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store. The arrests, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, followed interviews by about 20 local police officers with UCLA players while the players stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store is located next to the hotel and, particularly given the high value of much of the store’s inventory, most likely contains security cameras throughout and around the store.”

And the moral of the story is?  Good guys from good families who are good players can have a bad day and do a bad thing and end up in a bad way. It’s sad but true. The hope is that LiAngelo learns from this quickly and is allowed to return to the States and his team and chalk this up as an example of what not to do. It’s called a second chance. In biblical parlance it’s called redemption and restoration, something we all have needed and still need, every day.

So let’s hope for a positive outcome and not throw stones. It’s easy to judge and be a critic when things go south. But it’s better to withhold the verdict and delay sentencing because we all live in glass houses. Just think, what would have happened if you got the punishment you deserved when you got caught for that silly, stupid thing you did back when?   

As Good As It Gets: Jay Ajayi’s Flying High As An Eagle In Philly

 Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi’s debut in Philly was as good as it gets.  He’s off and running, or flying, in Philly and opening day couldn’t have been better for the Eagles and Ajayi, as they steamrolled the Denver Broncos in front of a racous, rockin’ and rolling Lincoln Financial Field crowd. Ajayi was traded to the Eagles for next to nothing (a 4th round draft pick?) and was seemingly dumped and his impact was downplayed because he’s “a problem child” that’s a distraction. But the Eagles said “come to Philly.” And come to Philly he did.

So all of Philly is singing in the rain and dancing in the streets. The Iggles are now 8-1, are in first place in the NFC East with the best record in football and their best start since the Super Bowl Year of ’04.  So go Birds, and atta’ boy Ajayi.  Next Stop: Arlington Texas and the Dallas Cowboys.  And they don’t scare me.

Here’s what ESPN had to say about my Eagles:

“The Philadelphia Eagles went from very good to downright scary with the addition of running back Jay Ajayi. Just ask the Denver Broncos.

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, Ajayi made an instant impact in his Philly debut, breaking off a 46-yard touchdown run as part of an eight-carry, 77-yard performance that helped the Eagles cruise past Denver, 51-23.

‘It was special,’ Ajayi said afterwards. ‘First off, it’s my first touchdown of the season, and it’s exciting for it to have been in Philly in my first game as an Eagle. I don’t think it could have been written any better than that.’

The Eagles, now 8-1, entered the game as the third-ranked offense in the NFL. Still, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stayed aggressive at the trade deadline and worked up a deal with old friend Mike Tannenbaum, who holds the same title with the Dolphins, sending a 2018 fourth-round pick to Miami for the 24-year-old Ajayi.

While there were reported concerns about the long-term health of Ajayi’s knee and his effect on Miami’s locker room, the Eagles believed Ajayi could be a system and identity fit based on joint practices with the Dolphins this summer. They were willing to take a risk in hopes he would regain his 2016 Pro Bowl form when he rushed for close to 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.  Ajayi’s longest run this season with the Dolphins was 21 yards, but he found his home run swing in his first game> with his new team.http://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/22824/with-jay-ajayi-added-to-mix-eagles-look-unstoppable-against-broncos

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.