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

 

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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!

Kawhi Leonard: Demand A Trade

Kawhi Leonard

LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This means that the King is now an unrestricted free agent. While this is not a big surprise, what happens next could be.  The Sixers, yes the Philadelphia 76ers, are in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Reportedly, the Sixers can pretty reasonably create the cap space to just sign him outright, but that’s not the big news either. Here’s the skinny from CBS Sports staff writer, Brad Botkin:

“Where this really gets interesting is Philly has a very attractive package to offer for Leonard, with reports out there that the Spurs could be interested in a deal involving Dario Saric and Robert Covington. San Antonio would clearly prefer to trade Kawhi to the East, even if they’ve predictably backed off their stance of ruling out a trade with a team from the Western Conference, and if he were to end up in Philly, if the Sixers could live with the risk of him being a potential one-year rental, suddenly James joining Philly would become his only real chance to play on a super team next year.

Imagine the possibilities of a lineup including James, Kawhi, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Yes, James would have to play off the ball more as Simmons is not equipped at all to do so with his inability to shoot outside 10 feet, but from every other perspective, this is a juggernaut. Defensive versatility. Playmaking everywhere. This would be an incredible team. Keep an eye on this.”

So, it seems that Kawhi, who has done well in San Antonio under the reigning dean of NBA coaches, Greg Popovich, is “demanding a trade.” Not overtly or vehemently, but he seems to want out of San Antonio nonetheless.  So what’s the spiritual lesson to be learned here?”

If you are not victorious in any and every situation in your life, you should demand a trade. If your situation is not to your liking, demand a trade. Is the job stressful? Demand a trade!  Is your money funny?  Demand a trade. Is your current station or status in life not working?  Demand a trade. You might not get out of the situation, but you can demand that your situation improves and gets better than it is.

A better situation is what we all strive and struggle for and want and wish for, right? An improved and enhanced life and lifestyle should always be the aim and ambition of our hearts. So, in prayer, beseech and believe Heaven to trade your stress and strain for a bigger and better and higher and healthier situation than the one you’ve got right now.  Stop settling for the mild and mediocre. Stop accepting less that what you deserve. Stop letting the abundant life that Jesus promised slip away. Just trust Him.

And demand a trade.

Philly Fans To LeBron: “Don’t Come To Philly”

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Philly fans would rather see LeBron James wear a LA Lakers uniform in the Fall of 2018

What makes anybody think that LeBron James should come to Philly? I mean, why does everybody think that the Sixers need, much less want LeBron James? I mean, do they think we’re desperate or something? Sheesh! Philly doesn’t want LeBron because we don’t NEED LeBron. We don’t. Period. And here’s why:

Number one: LeBron is all about LeBron. Don’t get me wrong; he’s the best player on the planet right now. But if LeBron comes to Philly, the team will be all about him, and to me, that would create a chemical imbalance on the team, and winning is all about creating just the right chemistry.  

Number Two: The Sixers can do just fine without King Janes. We have a few promising princes of our own in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons that are doing just fine. Embiid and Simmons are stars in their own galaxy; introducing the wrong supernova into their orbit might not be such a good idea.

Number Three: The Sixers may have to give up too much to get him, and then how long is going to stay? Championships are NOT, repeat NOT, guaranteed to All Stars who switch teams or to teams with the highest payrolls. Just ask LeBron himself. While he’s won three NBA titles, he’s also lost six, and he’s learned how to lose in the NBA Finals the hard way (Note to LeBron: you still want to defend JR Smith?).

Number Four:  LeBron wants to land in the right “situation.” Well then, go to LA. LeBron should just go on to the Southland where there are plenty of opportunities to diversify his professional portfolio. I’m not knocking my hometown, but Philly is NOT LA. Not hardly.

And Number Five:  I don’t want it to be said that the Sixers “needed” LeBron to win another NBA Championship. We can win it on our own merits and with our own mettle and using our own muster. We can. So let LeBron go to another club where he can take the credit for winning and help them out as they try to win a title.  

Spiritually speaking, sometimes we want to help God out. He can jiggle us out of jams and pick us out pickles with little or no effort. Just ask Moses and the Children of Israel about that whole Red Sea thing. We just need to trust Him and stop trying to help Him. Becasue when God promised Abraham a child in his old age, he consented with Sarah to “help God out” by throwing Hagar into the mix. Bad idea.  Bad, bad, bad idea.

Miriam and Moses and Esther and Elijah give us examples and teach us to have patience and to have faith in the process. And that’s what the Sixers should do. Trust the Process! And LeBron is not a part of Philly’s process.

In other words, Philly fans want to say to LeBron “We got this!”

Russell Westbrook, Hometown Hero

Westbrook Presser

Russell Westbrook is staying in OKC.  And in so doing he’s become the hero for the hometown, the same Midwest hometown that just lost KD, Kevin Durant, to the rival Golden State Warriors only one long month ago. So what does this say about Westbrook and his dedication and loyalty to his team and his town? It says a lot. It doesn’t hurt that they’re paying Westbrook a whole heapin’ helping of dough, but he could have gotten paid elsewhere, right?

Loyalty and devotion and dedication are almost dinosaurs in this modern age of me, myself and I.  “Lookout for #1” is the theme song for many adolescents (and many adults, too) that have no penchant or proclivity for staying put in a job or a relationship or an obligation over the long haul.  And that indictment is especially true of athletes. Team dedication for the duration and long term commitments and contributions for an extended stay are almost a thing of the past.

A strong sense of duty to a core group and a common cause is part of our DNA. We long to be a part of something and to make a difference somewhere and to be connected to someone. And the lack of stability and steadfastness and stick-to-itiveness is a symptom of our bruised and broken, fragmented and segmented society.

So what is the cure for what ails us? What is the prescription and the panacea for our herky, jerky, restless, and borderline reckless world? Statements about concern and allegiance and faithfulness should be earnest and true, and Russell Westbrook gave all of us all that and some as he announced his decision to stay in Oklahoma City for at least two more years.

Westbrook’s press conference speech has quickly become an instant classic. Asked why he agreed to the extension now rather than wait until next season, Westbrook was emphatic:

There’s no need to wait if you know where you want to be.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:17222093

How thoughtful. How insightful. How profound. And, to take it a step further, I submit this axiom: “If you know where you need to be, and it’s where you want to be, then you’ve really in a good place.” Westbrook went on to say more:

There’s nowhere else I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” Westbrook said at a news conference to announce the deal. “You guys have basically raised me. I’ve been here since I was 18, 19 years old. You guys did nothing but good things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me through it all, and I appreciate it. Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that’s the No. 1 option. Loyalty is something that I stand by.”

Westbook The Hero

Spiritually speaking, our faith in God and our faithfulness to each other are  one in the same. Both together, they should endure and last a lifetime. So fealty and fidelity and honesty and sincerity are not things of the past. They are alive and well and we do well to emulate the example that we’re seeing in Russell Westbrook today.

Why Does Free Agency Cost So Much?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors - Game Seven

Kevin Durant is now a Warrior. Duane Wade is now a Bull.  And Derek Rose is now a Knick. Paul Gasol is now in San Antonio. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and Dwight Howard is in Atlanta instead of Houston. Whew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

News Flash: everything that’s supposed to be “free,” aint — including “Free Agency.”  Every team that lost a player is either hurting or scrambling. Some teams may have gotten better, but many teams certainly got worse, and all teams are spending money like its water. So this is a good thing?

The Oklahoma City Thunder will never be the same. And some say that OKC will never rise again.  Truth be told, some teams, especially OKC, will falter and flounder and stumble and fumble for years to come. Because you don’t win and you can’t win without playmaking players. Your either draft them or trade for them or get them via “Free Agency.”  But at what cost?

I get it that players have the right to move from team to team and get more money than ever before. I do. I absolutely do. But I’m also an old fashioned, fuddy-dud when it comes to keeping a team together.  Because winning is all about chemistry.

OKC could have or should have said to Durant, “We’re committed to you and to winning so we’re going to go out and get the best players to complement you and Westbrook to make sure we have the best chance of winning a championship.” Maybe then Durant would have stayed with the Thunder and he may well have won Oklahoma City an NBA Championship.  But he’s not, and he won’t. And the cost to Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Thunder is incalculable.

So what’s the lesson to be learned? What’s the moral of this story? Where’s the hidden truth in all of this?

Life is about choices and decisions and options and alternatives. And we all hope and pray that we’ll make the right choice and the correct decision and pick the right option and choose the best alternative all the time.  Wishful thinking. But thankfully God is so merciful that He can take even our bad choices and turn them around and allow good to come out of them.  

I’ve found out that some things you pay for twice, and others you pay for over and over again. Some decisions cost you big time. And the sting remains overtime. With some selections you lose friends and make enemies. It’s just like striking out at the plate. But other times you hit one out of the park on a 3-2 count. And sometimes, you get much more than you asked for and you pay next to nothing.

So here’s to making the right choices, every time, all the time, and trusting God to fix the wrong and make it right. Because everything costs something, even when you don’t have to pay.

The Society We Live In

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Why Does Free Agency Cost So Much?

Free Agency costs too much.  For starters, Dwayne “D” Wade just re-signed with the Miami Heat for $20 mil. That’s twenty million dollars to play basketball for one year.  Regardless of injury or his declining ability, he gets paid. Twenty million dollars. Do you know how much 20 million dollars could buy? A lot.  A whole lot. But this is the society we live in. 

Free agency is not free. It costs. It costs our society and our civilization. It taxes and tolls and adds tension to our already stressed and strained, divided and dichotomous domain.  It continues to separate and segregate and isolate and insulate the upper echelon and the higher carillon from the lower and lesser and feebler and frailer amongst us. Because this is the society we live in.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In sports, what we as a society pay professional athletes only seems to aggravate and exacerbate this devilish dualism.  The “haves” and the “have nots” continue to coexist along parallel paths that never cross or converge. We can spend what we will on what we want (athletes salaries) but can’t seem to find the money to pay for the things we need. And this is the society we live in.

The cost of free agency to the players who sign and savor these huge, overinflated and overabundant contracts is negligible to them. I like D. Wade. I do. And this is not about him, per se. It’s about the salaries of athletes and CEO’s and movie stars alike. Are they at fault for receiving or are we at fault for allowing such exorbitance and extravagance? Who is at fault when so many have so little and so few have so much?

Twenty million dollars to play basketball for one year.  This is the society we live in.

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I’m not hatin’. I’m just saying.

Chip, Chip, Chipping Away; a.k.a., The Chips Are Down In South Philly

Chip Kelly

I just came back from the dentist. My dentist, whom I LOVE, is great (What’s Up Doc!).  She’s an avid, rabid, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles football fan; so how can you not love your dentist when she knows more about your football team than you do? We fussed and fumed about Coach Chip Kelly’s future so bad that we had to laugh to keep from crying. But we laughed so hard we did cry! And you better believe Chip Kelly’s shocking shenanigans are no laughing matter, as all of Philly is nigh near tears.

Chip Kelly came to town after Andy Reid left for Kansas City.  Ok. So we got over that, because Andy, much as we loved him, had done all he could do in South Philly.  Andy had run out of chips, and it appears that Chip is using up all of his chips too; and for Mr. Kelly, the game for him has barely begun.

Enter Chip Kelly, who is now front and center.  So after Andy we got a dandy of a coach in Chip (or so we thought) and his newfangled offense. Ok. So for Kelly’s first two seasons we put up with being laughed at by the Cowboys and the Redskins and even the New York Football Giants, not to mention the rest of the League. But we win!  Even with this crazy, hurry-up, hafta’ catch your breath offense, we win!

My Eagles went 10-6 in Chip’s  first year AND won the NFC EAST! Go figure!  That’s not too shabby for a first year coach with a new system, right? But we go 10-6 AGAIN in his second year AND fail to make the playoffs! What?!!!  This, when we were picked to win (or at least go to) the Super Bowl. Not good. Not good at all, especially if you’re an Eagle’s fan.  NOW THIS!

Charles “Chip” Kelly is chip, chip, chipping away at the Eagles roster. He’s chipping away at the Eagles fan base, and in so doing, he’s chipping away at his job and maybe even his NFL career. Last year he traded DeSean Jackson, a fan favorite no less, to the Washington Redskins for Pete’s sake! This year, for an encore, he just shipped Shady McCoy to outer Siberia, I mean Buffalo, for an injured kid who sat out all of last season for crying out loud (but he played for him at Oregon.) THEN, he traded Maclin. AND,  . . . this just in, . . .  we just traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford.  Whaaaaaaaat?!!!

Chip had better put some chips together to make a whole something because his support is sinking and his boosters are blinking and his defenders are dropping like flies.  He’s been a first-rate coach with an inside track, but now he’s being second guessed and hardly has an outside chance of staying in Philly for more than a year if this doesn’t work.  And it better work.

 A chip is a flake and a flaw, a minute, miniscule morsel, a scrap and a scrape, a tidbit and a taste, a slice and a shard — but not nothin’ near a whole anything. And as he cranks out trades, Mr. Kelly might want to consider that his chip may be crumbling and his mindset may be mumbling because he seems to be bumbling his way out of a decent job.  Too bad.

Spiritually speaking, God takes gambles too. For starters, He gambled on me and you. And God is chipping away at our faults and our foibles and our flops and our flaws and our failings and our fears and yet He keeps giving us the ball even when we fumble and fall. Because God’s gambles always work out.  

So, let’s take the positive path, shall we? When you have a problem, what do you do? You can’t swallow the whole bowl of gruel in one big gulp. So chip away at the problem, and try to whittle that big mountain down to bite size chunks. So, let’s all take a deep breath, count to ten, and THEN look for a new coach!

Sorry Chip, but your chips are down. So I hope you have a chip on your shoulder, and that chip is that you can prove that you’re right and the rest of the football world is wrong. Because sometimes you have to take risks and gambles and go against the grain and try to beat the odds when you think you’re right. The only thing is, you better be right.