Tragedy and Triumph

carley-mccord-death (1)
Louisiana sports reporter Carley McCord is one of five victims killed in a small Lafayette plane crash on the way to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday morning, December 28, 2019.

The triumph for LSU was tremendous, but they simultaneously experienced a tragedy that was equally traumatic. And such is life.

LSU defeated Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl on Saturday night, 63 – 28, as their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow set records for touchdowns and yards and just about everything else. It was an awesome, overwhelming, and overpowering win for Coach Orgeron and the LSU Tigers who have been ranked as the No. 1 college team in the country for most of the year.

But the thrill of victory was overshadowed by the agony of defeat. Earlier in the day, the team learned that offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger lost his daughter-in-law in a plane crash just hours before his team was set to take the field.

Carley McCord — who was also a New Orleans-based sports reporter — was among five people killed in Lafayette, LA Saturday morning as the private aircraft slammed into a parking lot and burst into flames in what’s said to have been an emergency landing after takeoff.

As believers, we are to weep with them that weep, and mourn with them that mourn. So we join with the LSU family as we pause to remember the life of a lady whose time was cut off far too soon. Yes we rejoice over the dramatic win, but let’s not forget that while we rejoice, our hearts are heavy as well.

Rest in peace, Carley McCord.

Stephen Strasburg Just Got A $245 Million Payday: Miracle or Madness?

 

strasburg-game-6-ws
Stephen Strasburg signs record $245 Million contract with 2019 World Champion Washington Nationals.

It’s a miracle that the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series. The madness is that they had to pay their ace, MVP pitcher Stephen Strasburg, $245 Million dollars to stay with the team. I say they “had to,” because if they didn’t, another team would. That much mula is mad money, no matter how you slice it.

Stephen Strasburg just cashed in. But I’m not hattin’.  He had a great year and won his team the World Series, so he deserves to be rewarded. But MAN!  Salaries in professional sports continue spiral up and out of control, with no ceiling in sight. That’s madness. Why on God’s green earth does free agency cost so much?

The miracle could be how these exorbitant salaries will be used by those who are blessed with them. The moral of the story is this: those who are rich are charged not to trust in wealth, but in God.  Paul instructed Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Tim 6:17, NIV

So, since we can’t stop the ever increasing rise of riches in this world, especially in the world of sports, let’s collectively use it to our advantage. Let’s turn a possible negative into a positive. No we can’t spend Strasburg’s money, but we can encourage him to give back. Money is not bad, but loving money above God and all else is.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, Stephen Strasburg and the $245 Million his Washington Nationals just gave him, as the defending champions brought back their World Series MVP.  Here’s how one sports writer put it:

“Well, the hot stove is officially lit. An eye-popping $245 million deal for ace Stephen Strasburg to return to the Nationals got the fun started on the first day of baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego.”

“Stephen Stasburg just signed the largest ever contract for a pitcher in both total and average annual value ($35 million). Former Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole is expected to surpass both of those numbers this offseason, but Strasburg still projects as the highest-earning pitcher in major league history. His career earnings will come out to just over $361 million when this contract ends.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/09/stephen-strasburg-contract-nationals/

And here’s ESPN’s David Schoenfield’s gut reaction to the question, “Do you like this deal for the Nationals?

“Hey, it’s not my money! This guy just carried your team to a World Series title, but that’s also a very large chunk of change for a pitcher who just topped 176 innings for the first time since 2014. There’s nothing wrong with bringing him back and continuing to construct your team around the big three of Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin.”

I’m happy for Strasburg. I am. And I hope he goes on to have many more productive seasons. With that, even though I’m a Phillies fan, go NATS!

Is Stephen A. Smith A Sellout?

Stephen A.
Stephen A. from ESPN’s First Take goes off on Colin Kaepernick

Stephen A. is now one of the highest paid ESPN sports analysts, ever. And for this, he is seen by some and maligned by many as a sellout, especially with regard to Colin Kaeperknick’s feud with the NFL, and his recent workout fiasco.

In light of the shenanigans surrounding the workout, Stephen A. voiced his opinions in his usual loud and lurid fashion. Instead of standing with the “Power to the People” position which sees Kaepernick as a martyr for “Black Lives Matter” oppression, Stephen A. continues to deride him as being a rebel without a cause, or more pointedly, a martyr for his own cause.

The jury is still out on Kaepernick. As for Stephen A., his rash, rambling rants sell air time. And so, as far as ESPN is concerned, mission accomplished. Because talking heads are paid to sell air time. However, has anyone paused long enough to consider it seems that more people are talking about the silly workout controversy and Stephen A.’s reaction to it than they are the actual reason why Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before NFL games in the first place?

I like Kaepernick. I do. And I believe that he deserves, (or is that he deserved?) a second chance. And I like Stephen A. too. He’s a Philly guy. But just because I like them doesn’t mean I agree with them or agree with how they’re handling this situation.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I think it’s time for a fact check: the media has a way of selling and slanting a story, and it’s up to those who love the truth to find the facts. And here are some of the facts:

“Following Colin Kaepernick’s workout on Saturday, Stephen A. Smith of First Take took to social media and said that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback doesn’t actually want a job in the NFL. He believes that Kaepernick just wants to be a martyr. Monday morning, Smith provided more thoughts on the matter, saying that Saturday’s events just eradicate all of the QB’s points about the NFL.

During an expanded back-and-forth between Smith and his co-hosts, the longtime ESPN analyst explained why he has been critical of Kaepernick in recent days. To him, he doesn’t like how the free agent handled Saturday’s workout, including how he switched the location with fairly little notice.

As Smith continued to explain, multiple moments created questions for him on Saturday. Specifically, he pointed out that the NFL and all of the teams that were scheduled to attend the workout found out about the change in location roughly 30 minutes before the start of the event.

This timeline made it appear to be a last-minute change. It also made it far more difficult for the teams to attend the workout considering that the new location was roughly an hour away from the Atlanta Falcons team facility, which was the original location.

However, Smith said that there were factors that made this switch appear planned. The workout took place at a public high school, and it was captured by videographers on site. Additionally, there was security in place, as well as many Kaepernick supporters in “I know my rights” shirts. For the co-host of First Take, this was just evidence that the former San Francisco 49ers QB had planned to change the location. He believes that Kaepernick would have had to meet with the superintendent of the school and get permission to hold the workout on the field.”

On the other hand, here’s another, opposing and pointed point of view from Luther Campbell of the Miami Herald:

“In the battle to control the narrative of a controversial story, Uncle Tom-esque black pundits play a crucial role in tearing down black professional athletes who rebel against white sports franchise owners. The fallout from Colin Kaepernick’s controversial NFL workout this past Saturday is exposing commentators such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Stephen A. was one of the first to tweet and go on television to question Kaepernick’s intentions and justify why NFL teams have blackballed the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback for the past three years because of his National Anthem protests. Tuesday, Smith also defended himself by yelling, “I’m a black man, you idiots!” and claiming throughout his career he’s “taken on the fight on behalf of African-Americans throughout this nation.” https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-city-commissioners-will-vote-to-give-themselves-taxpayer-funded-pensions-11319342

In sum, amidst the clamor and the clanging of media pundits spewing their opinions of Colin Kaeperkick, I’m so glad that I know and love the truth. Because His truth is marching on, the truth is the light, and truth shall prevail.

SPORTS360 Podcast

SPORTS360Flyer

Hey Everybody! 

My book Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds is now available on Amazon.com!  Please check it out and let me know what you think.   If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. AND a dear friend featured me on his new, insightful and thought provoking Podcast, SPORTS360.  Jeff and I discuss the book, how we connect with God through sports, my Philly teams, and the intersection of sports and spirituality. Check it out on YouTube.com.

Note From Fergie: This Is How To Butcher the National Anthem

Fergie

If you haven’t heard by now, the pop star Fergie sang the National Anthem before Sunday night’s 2018 NBA All-Star game. And she showed us how NOT to sing the our national song on national television. To quote one columnist, “it was … something. To say the singer put her own spin on the Star Spangled Banner doesn’t even begin to describe what happened here.”  As the former “Black Eyed Peas” singer sang the our national song,  even the all-stars couldn’t hide their laughter. But it was no laughing matter. It was NOT funny, and it was no joke.

Fergie’s “rendition,” if you want to call it that, was worse than wretched. It was past pathetic. It was downright disgraceful. And if anyone needs an example of how to embarrass themselves and set a bad tone, this was it. Singing the nation anthem prior to big games and important athletic events is a time-honored tradition. It’s also an honor for those asked to perform it. 

So why did she do it? Why did Fergie trifle with tradition and rail on a hallowed rite and ritual? This may be a gross over-generalization, but it seems as if this generation has lost the art of respect and the science of reverence. To make light of a custom and best practice is to say that the individual is more important than the whole.  Essentially, Fergie belted out that she is more important that the Country and the customs that we have all come to love and cherish.

Let this be a lesson to the rest of us; some traditions just need to be respected and preserved.

Is Anybody Watching The 2018 Winter Olympics?

Let’s take a unscientific poll: thumbs up for yes and thumbs down for no.

As for me, I’m not. Well, at least not yet. I want to watch and I plan on watching, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. For starters, I’m from Philly, and as a native Philadelphian, I’m still celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots. And rightfully so, since this victory has been a long time in coming. So that’s my excuse. What’s yours?

Let me guess. First, you’re not interested. The 24 hour news cycle is so full of White House scandal and North Korean bramble that you just can’t keep up. That’s understandable. Second, most of the Country (the US that is) has been hammered by storms of some kind. Most of the Midwest and the Northeast have been hampered by winter weather, so people in cold weather watching other people in cold weather isn’t quite such a winter delight. And third, you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That’s OK. You can use my excuse, as long as you’re happy for my Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Fly Eagles Fly!

So it’s Sunday. And, hopefully you’ve worshiped God in some form or fashion today. Now that you’ve put God first, let’s support our mother countries and the athletes that represent us. It’s the essence of teamwork and my favorite theme, Team, Team, Team!

Thank You, Dr. King

MLK, Jr.2

January 15th is forever a day that minorities, especially African Americans, can be thankful for. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had vision and foresight, wisdom and prudence, and yes he dreamed. He urged and encouraged this great Nation to live out the content of its creed. In his eternally unforgettable March on Washington speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, Dr. King gave the Nation this challenge:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

In sports, since Dr. King’s death, we’ve seen many more minorities playing games, and a few more minorities managing teams, and yet fewer minorities owning franchises.  We haven’t overcome all racial and social discrimination yet, but thanks to Dr. King, we’ve come a long way, baby.

 

Happy birthday, Dr. King.