You Need To Go To A Baseball Game

Guess what? I went to a baseball game! And not just any game – I went to Orioles Park at Camden Yards to watch the O’s play the St. Louis Cardinals.   And we had a blast. It was a Father’s Day gift from my wonderful wife, and my son came down from Philly to join us.  It was just what the doctor ordered. 

Never mind it was 90 degrees in the shade! But thank God we had shade, because we would have baked and broiled and fried to a crisp in that hot sun. But who’s complaining?

Never mind I’m not an Oriole’s fan. Before the game, I couldn’t tell you one player on their roster, but that doesn’t matter. We were at the ballpark, a ballpark I’d never been to before, mind you, and the feel and the vibe and the atmosphere were second to none. AND this season Camden Yards is celebrating their 25th Anniversary!  You mean to tell me that I’ve been talking about going to Camden Yards for 25 years?! Good  gracious! 

And never mind I wasn’t wearing black and orange, the home team’s colors; the rule is, you “route, route, route for the home team,” and cheer and yell and scream for the home team I did. There were a heap of home runs and triples (two in one game by the home team)  and it was a thoroughly entertaining affair. In the end, it’s always great when the home team wins big, and the O’s won 8 to 5. At one point, the score was 7 – 2, and it wasn’t that close.

So why do you need to go to a baseball game? I’m glad you asked.  Going to a game, pretty much any game, puts you in touch and in tune with the game.  Yes most of us watch on TV because we can’t get to the stadium or the arena or the park everyday (not to mention we can’t afford to do so). But there comes a point when you just have to be there.  

And here’s the point; there is no sustitute for presence.  In life and in sports, being there is just as important, and sometimes more so, than the outcome. My wife loves gifts, but she loves me more. And I enjoy her company and the company of my sons and daughters more than what they can give me or buy me or order on line.

So, the next time you want to dial it in,  or take a rain check or wait until next time- think again. Because being there is more fun, and getting there is half the fun.

Live Like a Lion

lion-dvd-cover-40

If you haven’t seen the 2017 film “Lion” yet, stop reading.  Stop reading now. Do not pass go, and do not collect $200. You must make or take time to watch this film. 

“Lion” has a litany of lessons and points and positives that all combine to teach a meaningful, muscular message that will preach for a lifetime. It’s a rags to riches, lost and found, comeback story of redemption that transcends race and creed and color, and yes, religion. God is not the author unfortunate circumstances, but He is the editor.  And God can edit any and every life circumstance for good. 

Rex Reed said that “Heartwarming ‘Lion’ Is the Feel-Good Tearjerker We All Needed.” Amen.  Another review posted on Cinemabravo.com says it all:

“Lion” has a genuine and heartfelt purpose that not all celebrated artsy films have. Lion has emotional depth as deep as the ocean; moving, like its waves; it’ll sway you, but it won’t drown you. The tide of this film’s journey will take you someplace else, making it an experience rather than just another movie to watch. That is more than enough for a film to stand tall.

Director Garth Davis’ biggest achievement is perhaps giving the film a soul as the actors give it a heart. Also, an honorable mention to its sublime cinematography for a visually stunning picture — alluring yet gritty, colorful yet dark — a manifestation of a lost child’s journey towards finding his home: eventful, oftentimes dangerous, but ultimately hopeful.

Lion comes roaring to life from across the screen because it “ fully relies on iconic characters and inspiring storylines about a journey of a person — more so a character study of a man’s heart and soul, tackling every emptiness and every joy. Lion gives such nostalgia to that era of filmmaking that contemporary cinema is often prejudiced of. It is a reminder that the most important element of cinema as art is how it affects and transcends emotions across the screen. Lion does just that without the clichés of a conventional melodrama.

This is one of Nicole Kidman’s best roles because her performance is universal; she epitomizes maternal instinct and unconditional love that radiates even with such limited screen time. Dev Patel’s performance as adult Saroo is the core of this film. You will root and hope for him, until you find yourself clinging to his search for life. Again, another universal performance that isn’t difficult to sympathize with.” Dennis Buckley, https://cinemabravo.com/2017/04/06/movie-review-lion-2017/

Sunny Pawar, an enchanting, lovable boy, plays the lead character at age five, and Dev Patel plays the adult – Saroo. Both have acute, lion-like instincts that enable them to survive and even thrive under the best and worst of circumstances. And so the moral of the story is this: live – and for you athletes, play – like a lion. Because no other animal can endure and forbear the stresses and strains of life like a lion can.

And you can’t beat the theme song either.

Let It Happen or Make It Happen?

Durant and LeBron

The phrase “Let it happen” can often be used in a situation where someone may be trying to force something like a relationship, or a deal, or a connection. The phrase is applicable in life, and of course, in sports. “Make it happen” is mainly used for advice for friends, but may not always be the right thing to do. This phrase accompanies a sort of ideology that some things are meant to happen, while others are not; therefore one should not force things.

On the other hand, “make it happen” means to do something and complete it, usually under extreme circumstances. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve obtained this privileged prudence from the wonderful wisdom of www.urbandictionary.com.

Game Three of the 2017 NBA Finals is one of the biggest games in the history of the sport. Why? Because tonight we will see which one works. Are LeBron and the Cavaliers trying to make it happen? Or are Kevin Durant and the Warriors so good that they will let it happen?

So which is it? Should we let things happen or make things happen? Should we yield our will or impose our will?  Should we lay ourselves on the altar or grab hold to the horns of the altar? Which one works?

As we live and breathe, both are simultaneously true.  We must both let it happen and make it happen, both and all at the same time. God will do His part and we must do our part. As a wise man once said, “pray as if everything depends on God, and then live as if everything depends on you.”

Yes the just shall live by faith, and, at the same time, faith without works is dead. So the axiom and the truism is this:  God has done His part; it’s now up to us to do our part. We let it happen by trusting and praying and believing. We make it happen by loving and caring and forgiving.  I call it the marriage of theology and practice. Letting it happen and making it happen are opposite sides of the same coin.

So make it happen, but only after you let it happen.

You Are A No. 1 Pick

SI NBA Draft Pics

On this the evening of the NBA Draft Lottery, thoughts of being chosen and selected and overlooked and left out come to mind.  We all want to be a part and participate in something big and meaningful.  But we can’t get  there on our own. We all need to be selected.

 Think about it: only a small, rare, select few athletes are in the No. 1 Pick Club. And who was the biggest, baddest and best NBA No. 1 pick of them all? That’s fairly debatable.  Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Iverson (yes Iverson), and of course LeBron, come to mind. 

As for you and me, we need not lament if we were never picked first on the playground to play pickup games, or if even now if we’re not anyone’s favorite.  In the eyes of God, we all find grace and favor.

So never no mind what people say. You only need to know what God says about you. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us. You are the head and not the tail. You are strong in the Lord. You are a child of the King. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own special selection. You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth.

In God’s eyes, first and foremost, you are His greatest love, joy and concern.

John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.

Don’t Let Your Fans Down

Charlotte Bobcats v Houston Rockets

James Harden let his fans down. He scored a measly 10 points in a Game 6 AT HOME when the playoff season was on the line. San Antonio was missing two of its superstars – Tony Parker AND Kawhi Leonard – and Houston and Harden still couldn’t muster enough mettle to win the game. And the worst part of it is, he played bad (badly for you English majors) and looked bad doing it. And his poor play in this seminal and signature game is another reason I’m not a James Harden fan.

Everybody has fans. Everybody has a fandom and a fan base and a fan nation that route and cheer us on and up and over the humps of life. These fans are crucial and critical to our psyche and our psychology; our fans are vital to our overall vitality and are essential for the state of our mind and the soundness of our soul.

That’s why we should never let our fans down. Even in defeat, loyal fans will cheer for you and chant your name and boost your game. But don’t let them down. Because fans have short fuses and long memories; while they will long remember your great game, after a dreadful loss, they will not soon forget that you are to blame.

Fans understand that nobody’s perfect and that everybody’s suspect. But when you don’t do your best or give your best or even TRY to play your best, you’ve done the worst thing imaginable in the eyes of your fans.

Your fans need to know that you’ve tried and that you’ve given it your best shot. While Harden had a sensational season, he had an uncharacteristically horrible last game of the series against the Spurs. And that’s what everyone, including this fan, will remember most.

So just remember, here’s what hardened athletes and every human heart beat have in common; it’s your friends and your favorites and your supporters and your sponsors that have your best interest at heart. They have your back. They will defend you against all comers (I’m from Philly so I DARE you to say a cross word about Allen Iverson!) But surely, I digress.

Loyal fans are the ones that will be there for you when the chips are down and the season is suddenly over. Remember not to forget and forestall the very fans you need to support you when the going gets rough.

So don’t let your fans down. At least they like you, bad days and bad games and all.

How To Be A Poor Sport

Russell Westbrook Attitude It’s amazing how some athletes can show us how to be both great and gruesome, unheralded and unglamorous, unstoppable and inexorable, all at the same time. It’s incomprehensible how the same athlete can have a triple-double and light up the scoreboard and yet have an attitude and a disposition and a standpoint that sticks out like a sore thumb and stinks up to high Heaven.

And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook may deserve to be the NBA MVP for 2017, but he also deserves a swift kick in the pants and a round wrap on the wrists, at the least. Westbrook stormed off of the basketball court after his Oklahoma City Thunder team lost Game 5 to the heated and hated rival Houston Rockets.  To add insult to injury, Westbrook is in competition with Houston’s All-star guard — and his former teammate — James Harden, for the MVP Award. 

Sadly, Westbrook could not lose graciously nor could he accept defeat amicably.

And that’s the hallmark and it should be the trademark of every true sportsman. Knowing how to win and learning how to lose is part and parcel of sports.  Since professional athletes are role models (note to Charles Barkley), anything they do and everything they say is scrutinized and analyzed to the Nth degree.

Sports and sportsmanship go hand in hand. https://godandsports.net/2014/05/30/sports-and-sportsmanship-go-hand-in-hand/ For the presumptive MVP to have such a great season end on such a grumpy note does not bode well.  When you don’t win, it’s chivalrous and courteous to shake hands and wish the winner well.  After a loss, moping and muttering and grunting and grumping aren’t acceptable actions for above average athletes. Unfortunately, Westbrook didn’t get the memo. 

The moral of the story is this: even when it hurts, and we’re mad and we don’t like how things turn out, let’s dig deep and reach high and stretch wide so that we can show how to lose with grace. Because just as we wax strong when we win, we gain just as much strength, if not more, when we learn to lose like a good sport.