What’s the Deal with Dak?

Dak After Loss

Dak Prescott after the 26-15 loss to Buffalo on Thanksgiving Day

If there was ever a team destined for drama, it is the Dallas Cowboys.  They have a prima donna owner, a puppet of a coach, and players like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot that just keep the story line going. And they play in the world’s most bodacious stadium.

And that’s how some people are; full of hype but no hope, full of fluff but no real stuff. They’re just good on paper. And right now, the Dallas Cowboys (and my Eagles too!) are just good on paper.

According to NFL custom, yesterday the Cowboys played their annual Thanksgiving Day game.  The fans in the Jerry Dome (a.k.a. AT&T Stadium) were joined by a national television audience that watched in horror as the ‘Boys proceeded to lose to the Buffalo Bills, 26 -15, and it wasn’t that close. The Buffalo Bills entered their Thanksgiving Day matchup with an impressive 8-3 record, but most analysts didn’t give Buffalo much of a chance to contend in the playoffs, and they were 6.5-point underdogs in Dallas on Thursday. But after an impressive, opening first quarter drive that made the ‘Boys look invincible, they managed to literally fumble and bumble the game away.

Now let’s provide a little context. This was the game after the game that they lost to the World champion New England Patriots. After the loss to the Pats, their prima donna owner ripped Head Coach Jason Garrett and the coaching staff a new one. Jerry all but threatened to fire the entire coaching staff for the poor performance on the field.

But were taking about Dak here. Coaches can’t control performance and execution, and Dak hasn’t being playing well of late.  You would think that Dak would come out and play lights out like Lamar Jackson, especially AT HOME on Thanksgiving. Nope. Didn’t happen, at least not for the last 50 minutes of the game. You would think that Dak would dance his way back into the favor of Cowboy Nation and put some distance between them and Philly; strike two. And you would think that the entire Cowboys team would show up and show out if they wanted to save their coach.  Clang. That one bounced off the back of the rim. Game, set match, Buffalo Bills. 

Maybe Dak needs to do his pregame dance a little more? (Or is a little less?) Oh well. It all may come down to a Eagles/Dallas showdown in Philly in a few weeks.

Go Birds! 

 

Back In Philly, “Cholly” Is A Hit

Charlie Manuel

“Cholly” Manuel is back home in Philly and he’s making a big and immediate difference.

Charlie, aka “Cholly”  Manuel, will be beloved in Philly forever because he won us a World Series as manager of the Phillies in 2008 and led the team to five consecutive postseason appearances from 2007-11. In nine seasons as Phils’ skipper, he went 780-636, a .551 winning percentage, accumulating move victories than any manager in team history. And before he left town Cholly said “I’ll be Back!” Well not quite, but it makes for a good story.

Now Cholly is baaaaaack! He’s back as the Phillies hitting coach, replacing  John Mallee. Here’s what Ethan Witte and John Stolnis from SB Nation, a Philadelphia Phillies community, had to say about it all:

“That John Mallee has been replaced isn’t too much of a shock. Something had to be done as there was such a malaise surrounding the team, especially the hitters. The fact that Charlie Manuel is tasked with taking the reigns is the shocker. We’ve all known how much Cholly loves hitting. That the team knows this and recognizes not only his expertise, but realizes that something had to be done is absolutely huge. However, the questions this decision raises are fascinating.

Manuel is the most successful manager in franchise history and is a beloved figure in the city. How will he work with the current embattled manager, Gabe Kapler? Will Kapler feel threatened? Will Manuel get credit for turning the season around if the offense improves and the team starts winning? Is it smart for the Phils to turn to a more old-school baseball figure in an era when most teams are hiring young baseball minds?”

These are all good questions. The jury still might be out but the early election returns are in: in the Phillies last 4 games they’ve scored 30 runs, and they scored 11 against they’re old teammate, Cole Hammels. Not too shabby.

Yes, Cholly is back, and what a comeback. And talk about a turnaround! 

So, even at the tender old age of 75, Cholly is making a difference. And that means that you and I, at whatever younger age we are than Cholly, can make a difference too.

The Heart of a Champion: Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors Show Doggedness Without Durant

Steph Curry Scores 33 in 2nd Half
Steph Curry Scores 33 2nd half points after going scoreless for the first two quarters in an epic win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semi-finals May 10, 2019

The Golden State Warriors just did it again. They beat the Houston Rockets to advance to the Western Conference Finals — again. That’s four times in the past five years. James Harden, Chris Paul, Coach D’Antoni and the rest of the Rockets did everything they possibly could to stop Steph and Klay and Igoudala, but all to no avail. The Warriors willed their way to a win on the road, in a hostile environment without their leading scorer (and best player) Kevin Durant.

It was a beauty to behold. It was improbable and next to impossible. But they did it, and they did it in incredible fashion. It took them everything they had, and just about every player they had as they employed their diversity. And Steph Cury had to overcome in game adversity as well. Steph, held to zero points in the first half, broke out for 33 points in the second frame and ripped the Rockets on their home court. Steph scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and 16 in the final five minutes. And it is worth noting that the ENTIRE Rockets team scored 16 points in the final five minutes of the game. Incredible.

Klay Thompson, the other half of the Warriors backcourt, was terrific throughout, finishing with 27 points while shooting 7-of-13 from 3-point range — including one that essentially sealed the win in the final minute. The Splash Brothers came through when it mattered most.

For their part, Houston was supposed to win at home, especially since Durant was injured and wasn’t even in the state of Texas for the game. Yet the Rockets state of play showed just how wounded they are. Yes they played hard, but it wasn’t enough. Yes they went toe to toe for three quarters, but they fell short, again. And yes they wanted to win, but why did they not have the will to win?

And that’s the difference between the Rockets and the Warriors, and between victims and victors and between chumps and champions. No offence to James Harden and Chris Paul; they are great future Hall of Fame players, but they lack the grit and the gumption to pull off and pull out a win when defeat is taunting them and they are face to face with the fear of failure.

The difference between these two groups is will. Will has power; that’s why we call it willpower. Dogged determination will move mountains and stops the mouths of lions. It speaks peace to the tempestuous storm, and settles the raging seas. It rebuilds ruined cities and restores the joy of our salvation. Will is akin to faith, and faith must be spoken, without hesitation or reservation.

Will is determination, and determination must be rooted in resolve. And nothing can uproot or dislodge or destroy a man or woman with a made up mind that knows they are destined to destroy the works of the devil. No hint of doubt or trace of fear should be found in a man or woman of destiny. The task may seem improbable or even be said to be impossible. But don’t delay or postpone or suspend your decision to believe God.

Say with me: “I will believe that what God has promised, He is able also to perform.”

It’s Time To Dance

UNC Victory over Duke 3.9.19

It’s time to dance. And it’s time to do your victory dance. So do your dance. It’s a message for every wounded warrior and for every sanctified Christian soldier. It’s time for beleaguered believers and for every distressed disciple to dance. For every hater of evil that’s hungry for Heaven, it’s time dance. So do your dance.

UNC_Duke

North Carolina just beat Duke for the second time this season, and in so doing they earned the No. 2 Seed in the upcoming ACC Basketball Tournament, the Granddaddy of ‘em all. Duke was without their best player, Zion Williamson, who got hurt in the last UNC/Duke game a few weeks ago. Then today, another Duke diehard, Marques Bolden, was injured early in the game. In the first three minutes of the latest Duke/UNC showdown, Bolden, Duke’s starting center, was helped off the floor and to the locker room with a knee injury suffered on a hard fall after attempting to block Garrison Brooks’ dunk. Duke scrapped and scraped almost all game, but in the end, Duke was not dancing.

Sometimes victories don’t look assured, and sometimes defeat looks like a distinct possibility. Duke was down but not out, and for most of the game they made it look like they could beat UNC at UNC without two of their best players. But for North Carolina, in the end, they could say as David said, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”

In the end, all of the North Carolina players were dancing and prancing and juking and jiving as they celebrated a sometimes pretty, but mostly ugly, hard-fought fight at the Dean Dome. The Tarheels outlasted and out defended and ultimately outscored their rivals on the way to a 79 70 victory that was well worth dancing about.

Dancing is the universal expression of joy and gladness. Michael Jackson said that “consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

“Dancing is so much more than just grooving on the dance floor to your favorite tunes. In fact, you’ll be surprised how many benefits are associated with dancing. Not only does it train your brain and your body’s motor skills but it also is an excellent exercise for your entire body. As such, it helps you to stay physically and mentally fit. Even more so, dancing regularly can improve your general well-being, boosts your self-esteem and has also been shown to improve your social skills.” http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/2017/dance-quotes/

When David killed Goliath, the women danced. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, David danced. He dance with all of his might. And when the prodigal son came home, the father threw a big welcome home party for him. And they all danced.

So dance. It’s March, right? They don’t call the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament “The Big Dance” for nothing! So Dance! Dance like David danced. Dance like the North Carolina Tarheels danced. Dance like no one is watching. Dance like you’ve just beaten your greatest rival, again. Do your dance and celebrate the great victories that God has won for you.

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul Won Our R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

ALT TAG

Aretha Franklin won our respect. Not only did she win it, but she earned it, and she deserved it. She sang gospel and jazz and just about everything else in between. Her singing brought her to sports as she sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XL, the 1993 World Series, the 2004 NBA Finals, the 2011 ALCS in Detroit and an unforgettable rendition at the traditional 2016 Thanksgiving Day NFL Game in Detroit.

Aretha’s “been called a musical genius who seemed lost whenever she was not in front of a microphone or piano.

Not content with becoming the Queen of Soul in the late ’60s, Aretha Franklin became the greatest popular singer in American history, an artist whose electrifying voice combined the purest elements of gospel, jazz and blues, leaving fans breathless and critics tripping over their words trying to describe it.”

Unfortunately, in sports and in life, with fame invariably comes some shame. Aretha became pregnant at the tender young age of 12 and “gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. According to the news site inquisitor, the father of the child was Donald Burk, a boy she knew from school.” On January 22, 1957, then aged 14, Franklin had a second child, named Edward after his father Edward Jordan. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers.

Franklin dealt with weight issues for years. In 1974, she dropped 40 pounds (18 kg) during a crash diet and maintained her new weight until the end of the decade. She again lost weight in the early 1990s, before gaining some back. And she was a former chain smoker who struggled with alcoholism.” And then of course she battled pancreatic cancer, that demon that destroyed her body, but could not touch her indomnimble soul.

Yet through it all, she sang. Aretha sang with her heart and with her soul. She sang till you felt the words and the meaning of those words way down on the inside. She didn’t just scratch the surface; she cut to the core and hit home. We rocked and rolled with her as she sang because her vocals touched us just like the rubber meets the road. This is why we loved her so.

This is why Aretha won and earned our respect. Just like she sang, Aretha earned our respect. Just like she sang,

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Find out what it means to me

“Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted, National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2012, she was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In Rolling Stone Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time.”

Rest in peace, Aretha. We will miss you.

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=24395972

Why I’m  Going to Watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup (now)

Neymar-world-cup-2014-hairstyles

 Ok, ok, ok. So stop ribbing me already about not watching the World Cup. I’m going to watch Brazil beat Belgium tomorrow. Because Brazil is the favorite now, right?  So that should be a great match. What? You mean you’ve been watching the whole, entire tournament; every match, every penalty kick and every minute of stoppage time? Please.

Let’s just say that I’m finally going to go all in on the world Cup. Partially because it’s the Elite Eight (what? they don’t use that term?) and partially because it’s almost over and I’d hate for some great goal to get scored and I didn’t see it. And I’ve got to see Neymar’s fancy new doo.  What? That hairdo was from 2014? Ooops.  Oh well, Neymar’s the flashy guy on Team Brazil so he (or his hair) and the match should still be great to watch.

AND I’ve got to watch because Russia is still in it (booooo!) And if they (they being Russia) win, we’ll never live it down. So let’s all watch the Russia/Croatia match and route, route, route for the AWAY Team. GO Croatia!

My Book Is Out! “Upsets, Comebacks & Turnarounds” Coming Soon

UCT Cover

Hey Everybody! I birthed a book!

After years of writing and editing and kneading and massaging this baby of an idea inside of me, voila, my book is here!  It will be available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com soon so stay tuned! I hope you read and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a pick me upper and a shot in the arm for all who love the little guy and the also-rans in sports and in life. 

Here a few excerpts from the back cover:

In the World of Sports, there’s nothing like an upset win, a comeback from way back, and a complete turnaround. The same is true in life. In sports, we celebrate the underdogs, both the teams and the players who are at a distinct disadvantage and are expected to lose. Yet some way, somehow, these teams and players  find a way to triumph in spite of adversity.

Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds looks back to those who have alreadly overcome and looks forward to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome.

This book examines the intersection of God and sports . . . and is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots; to all of those who, in sports and in life, “didn’t stand a chance.”