Warriors Win!

The Golden State Warriors are just better. 

They’re better than the Cavaliers by a country mile. Yes the Dubs have Durant, but that’s not their fault.  Truth be told, the only reason this series wasn’t over in four games was that unbelievable, super human, Herculean effort in Game 4  by the Cavs which they will NEVER be able to duplicate.

On the other hand, the Warriors can turn it on at will, and they wanted to win at home instead of on the road. Nuff said.

So congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, the 2017 NBA Chdmpions.  And congrats to Kevin Durant, the Finals MVP.  He got his well deserved ring, and I for one am glad he did.

Cool Runnings Says, “Finish!”

cool-runnins

Cool Runnings is the true rags to sports riches story about the humble hubris of the human spirit.  When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games, he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team.  And the irony is that they finished, but not first or even in the middle of the pack. The team’s borrowed bobsled broke going down the track and they had to carry it on their shoulders across the finish line. But they finished nonetheless. 

According to Roger Ebert, “it’s not a bad movie. In fact, it’s surprisingly entertaining, with a nice sweetness in place of the manic determination of the average sports picture. The actors playing the bobsledders have a nice comic charm, especially Doug E. Doug as a high-energy guy named Sanka Coffie. And John Candy has a couple of stirring speeches that he somehow delivers as if every word were not recycled from other films. If you like underdog movies, you might like this one.”

And here’s some more inspiration from some sports and entertainment greats:

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
John Wooden

The mark of great sportsmen is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are their worst.
Martina Navratilova

Sports is the toy department of human life.
Howard Cosell

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
Michael Jordan

Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.
Lou Holtz

Most football teams are temperamental. That’s 90% temper and 10% mental.
Doug Plank

A winner never whines.
Paul Brown

I wouldn’t ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was, you know, important -like a league game or something.
Dick Butkus

The reason women don’t play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit in public.
Phyllis Diller

You’re Only As Good As Your Record

wentz-wagon

My Eagles are a disappointing 4-4.  And while I’m still riding the Wentz Wagon, we’ve hit a patch of rough road. Thank God all of the wheels haven’t come off. A 4-4 record means  that we’re playing .500 ball. In mathematical parlance, that means we’re average. Just average. And who wants to be average?  At the halfway point of the 2016 NFL season, we’re not that bad, but we’re not that good either.

By most accounts, we should be or at least could be 7-1. We gave away the game to the Detroit Lions, we lost to Dallas in OT, and we lost yesterday to the New York Football Giants 28-25 and all three games went down to the wire. (And I don’t have the stomach to talk about the Redskins game.) But as they say, you’re only as good as your record. And our record is 0-3 in the Division.

So what about you? What’s your record? Do you have a record of being kind and caring or being cold and callous?  Are you known for being forgiving and forbearing or explosive and corrosive? What’s your record? Just like my Eagles lately, my record hasn’t been so good. I’ve been edgy and punchy and short and shallow and that’s not winning me any points with my roommate. So, just like my Eagles, I’ve got some things to work on. Thank God there’s still a lot more football to play, and more life to live.

So what’s your record? How have you been treating those closest to you lately? How’s your temperament been? Have you dropped the ball and failed to advance? If, so stop blaming everyone else. Work on your weaknesses, and strengthen your strengths.

 Remember, you’re only as good as the record that is kept by those who are watching and keeping score.

Clayton Kershaw: Gutting It Out And Getting It Done


Some wins come clean and easy. Some wins come with minimal effort and limited liability. But not all. Some wins come only after you shed blood, sweat and tears.  Some wins you have to gut out and eak out. And such was the case last night as Clayton Kershaw managed to muster just enough moxy to squeeze out 5 innings against the Washington Nationals for a 4-3 classic that few will remember.

But for purists, Kershaw’s  hutxpah and chutzpah should not be long forgotten. 

Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher on the planet. He’s almost unhitable during the regular season and he’s been a multiple Cy Yong Award winner over the past few years. But for some reason or another, he falters every fall. His post season statistics and record are paltry at best. 

For Kershaw, last night’s outing was different and the same all at the same time. He looked tired and wired and pressed and stressed; he threw 101 pitches in 5 long, hard innings. And yet his superman cape had just enough anti-kryptonite karpunza to cap off a gutsy road win.

Kershaw let out a war cry of a yell after he notched his last strikeout, letting everyone watching know that this one wasn’t easy. But it was worth it. Kershaw willed himself across the finish line. He didn’t have his best stuff, and that made his performance all the more heroic.  To win Game One on the road was worth him sweating and swearing and swamping his way to a win.  And that’s how it is sometimes. 

Sometimes it’s not pretty. Sometimes it’s downright ugly. But it’s always worth it to gut it out and get it done. 



Gabby Douglas Survives The Social Media Circus, and You Can Too

Gabby-Douglas-Hair

I’m glad for Gabby. She’s taking a social media malaise, yet she has re-emerged and resurrected her status and her standing because of help from beyond her reach. Movie stars, fellow athletes and others all came to Gabby’s rescue as unknown and unwanted faultfinders heaped and piled on uncalled for criticism about everything from her looks to her hair to her hand not being placed over her heart during the playing of the national anthem.  The heck with her performance, right?  And all she did was her best. 

Gabby Douglas is the decorated Olympic gymnast who won the women’s all around in London. Yet “all” she did was be a part of the “Final Five” who will bring home a team gold medal from Rio. But her individual performance has not been enough to appease some observers on the internet.

Here’s how the Washington Post and the New York Times reported the story:

“After finishing seventh in a field of eight in her lone individual event, the uneven bars, Douglas fought back tears when reporters’ questions about her performance turned to questions about a wide range of criticism that has been directed at her, much of it on social media: about her stance during the playing of the national anthem, her expression in the stands as Simone Biles and Aly Raisman vied for all-around honors, and a perception that she has distanced herself from teammates.

Douglas said she had avoided the Internet while in Rio because of the “negativity,” which she said she didn’t understand.” (Liz Clarke, The Washington Post)

“Douglas, 20, who won the women’s all-around during the London Olympics in 2012, lamented on Sunday that she had been picked apart by people on social media for everything from her appearance — right down to her hair texture — to her behavior during a medal ceremony while the national anthem was being played.

gabby-douglas

“When they talk about my hair or not putting my hand over my heart or being very salty in the stands, really criticizing me, for me it was really hurtful,” Douglas, who is African-American, said, according to The Associated Press.

Even her mother, Natalie Hawkins, expressed frustration with the harsh attacks. “They said she had breast enhancements; they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic,” Hawkins told Reuters. After some observers noticed that Douglas looked disappointed while watching her teammates succeed, “it went to not supporting your teammates,” her mother said. Hawkins added: “Now you’re ‘Crabby Gabby.’ You name it, and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?”

The Olympics have always been fertile ground for cutthroat competition and narratives about fallen heroes, but observers on social media can distort those stories and take them to extremes — while still expecting athletes to smile and act gracefully when they lose.

Athletes have never been as accessible as they are right now — especially those like Douglas and Franklin who rely on social media to build a fanbase and share sponsored posts from brands they endorse, like United Airlines and Gillette razors.

That accessibility becomes a double-edged sword when they do not perform as well as they should, or if fans catch a whiff of jealousy, bad behavior or team infighting.

But if we have learned anything from social media’s power to tear down idols, it is that the same tools can be used to build someone back up. By Monday, #LOVE4GABBYUSA was being spread across Twitter by fans who wanted to help Douglas feel better despite the onslaught of abuse.” (Katie Rogers, The New York Times)

douglas-gabby-8716-usnews-getty-ftr_10o53nap1tvv114ije5sgv6vox

So here’s to Gabby and to those who rose to her rescue.  And maybe, just maybe, when you or I see someone being unfairly gang tackled, we’ll rise to their rescue too.

Simone Biles: “Dreams DO Come True”

biles_simone_5

Yes they do. They absolutely do.

A dream is “a condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.” Another meaning of dream is that it is “a wild fancy or unrealistic hope.” Polar opposite meanings of the same word; either meaning can take you to the top or drag you to the bottom. So which one applies to you? Which definition of dream do you choose? Do you envision your “series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep” as an achievement that is long for or a wild fancy or unrealistic hope?

For Simone Biles, the answer is simple and profound: she has achieved her dream, and it’s not an “unrealistic hope” or a “wild fancy.” Dreams of achievement and accomplishment and joy and jubilee come straight from heaven, and for Simone Biles, the fulfillment of her dream is another illustrious example for us all.

Samone was already considered the world’s greatest female gymnast before even competing in the 2016 Olympics. And she excelled to new heights when she emphatically confirmed her stellar standing on Thursday by winning the women’s individual all-around gold medal at the Rio Games.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes leotard, Biles, 19, joined Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas as American all-around winners.

After winning the all-around at the Olympic trials, she was named to the 2016 Olympic women’s gymnastics team. She led the U.S. team to win gold in a wonderful way, and overcame overwhelming odds to beat the world’s best at the historic 2016 Olympics in Rio, a city living a dream as well.

Born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio, gymnast Simone Biles has emerged as a champion in her sport. She and her sister, Adria, were raised by their grandfather Ron and grandmother Nellie, after their mother’s struggle with a substance abuse problem.

Ron and Nellie eventually officially adopted the two girls, and Biles calls her grandmother “Mom.” Nellie has been a constant source of support through Biles’s rise in the world of competitive athletics; as the gymnast told CNN, “She encourages me and never lets me feel down about something for too long.”

Biles is a part of the 2016 USA Olympic Gymnastics Team dubbed “The Final Five” because after this year, the team will only be comprised of four members. The Final Five are the third American women’s gymnastics team to win gold, following team victories in 1996 and 2012. After taking the team gold, Biles tweeted “dreams DO come true” and a photo of the U.S. team on the medal podium.

Simone+Biles+2016+Olympic+Trials+Women+Gymnastics+R9aY4NkDtX4l

Yes dreams do come true, so let’s you and me make ours come true too.

Sweet And Sour Sixteen

layman1

My University of Maryland Terrapins are good enough to go all the way. And, at times, they’re bad enough to go nowhere.  That’s the sweetness and sourness of my team. And Jake Layman has been as sweet and sour as they come. No offense to Melo Tribble, but Layman is the lynchpin. As goes Layman, so go the Terps. When he’s hot, they’re hot, and when he’s not, they’re not. So let’s hope that Layman lays it all down and leaves nothing on the court tonight. That would be sweet. They’ve made it to the Sweet 16 and they’re facing the Top Seeded Kansas Jayhawks tonight. At 9:40 pm. So I’m grateful that I’m not going to work tomorrow.

So how ‘bout it? Do you think my Terps stand a chance? Do the pundits and the experts and the sages and the sports scholars think they stand a chance? But does that even matter? For that matter, does what others think about you matter? Of course not! What matters is, do the TERPS themselves think they stand a chance?

And that’s where most of us miss it. We turn sour and we lose our sweetness and freshness and pureness when we crave the praise of men. When we crave adoration and confirmation and affirmation to the point where we wilt and wane and wither and waste away if we don’t get a pat on the back or a smack on the butt, we’re finished before we even begin. Don’t get me wrong; we all need encouragement, but if we don’t get it we should not give up the fight. What matters most is what God says and what we believe about what HE says. I’ll say my own amen on that one. AMEN!

If I were a bettin’ man, I’d bet the house on my Terps. It’s all or nothing. Do or die. Win or go home.  The sweet part of the Sweet 16 is that 16 teams have advanced this far. The sour part is that there are 52 other teams that did not make it this far and wish they could have. That’s a lot of teams. Michigan State is one of them, but let’s not go there, right? And so a lot of other teams went down to the wire but lost at the buzzer. That’s the sour side of sports in general and the Sweet 16 in specific. Someone has to lose. Just don’t let it be you.

The sweet side is that Maryland is one of a few teams that can boast and brag that they’re played good enough at the right time to be on the national stage under the national spotlight and have an outside chance at winning it all. Most importantly, they believe.

And herein lies the lesson. YOU have got to believe for others to believe.  If you don’t think you’ve got what it takes to take what life’s got, then go home now. Go straight home. Do not pass “GO”. Do not collect $200 (a Monopoly Game analogy, for those that remember and love that great game). Facing Kansas could be taken as a sour taste and an offensive smell. But it’s all a part of the package of life. Kansas is the opponent and they must be beat. To sulk at the prospect of facing Kansas is to doubt and to pout when instead the Terps should believe.

That’s it. That’s it right there. First and foremost, you’ve gotta believe. Because faith without works is dead. So, while you’ll have some days that are dark and some hours that are dour and sour, focus and fixate and zero in and put all the money on the sweet taste of victory. Then you’ve got to give it all you’ve got. So play like there’s no tomorrow. And if my Terps don’t there won’t be a tomorrow. At least not for them.