When You’re Hot, You’re Hot; And When You’re Not, You’re Not

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The Kansas City Royals are red-hot. How hot are they? They’re now 6-0 – undefeated in the 2014 Postseason, they’re won 4 of five games in extra innings, and they’re hitting home runs like IHOP heaps out hotcakes. These Royals swept the Angel’s in the ALDS and before that they won a one game playoff against the A’s. The Royal Blue Bombers now have the Baltimore Orioles in their sights and it doesn’t look good for the orange and black.  The Royal Blues have the Orioles feeling blue as they have won back to back games ON THE ROAD in the ALCS against the best team in the AL East.  Good gracious! Talk about catching fire and getting hot at the right time.

Clearly, the Royals are proving that they’re the hottest team in baseball, because they are showing up and showing out just when it counts.  These Royals are the hottest team in the coolest month.  On the other side of the ledger, the poor Baltimore Orioles look like a deer staring into a pair of high-beams; clearly, the O’s are not a Johnny-come-lately team, but now they look like they don’t know what just hit ’em.

The Kansas City Royals are playing the kind of white-hot ball every fan wishes their team was playing this time of year. They are playing loose, light, and lively. They have nothing to lose, seeing as they haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985; that’s 29 years. Talk about no pressure. And yet they’re playing with a reckless abandon that is fun to watch but fearful to play against.

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Baseball in October is as special as eating your favorite ice cream and cake on your birthday. And on your birthday, you think you can do and be and say anything and get away with it. On your birthday you’re “hot;” you’re Da’ Man (or Da’ woman, as the case may be), and everybody exalts and extols you and expects and assumes and presumes that you can and could and may and might do the improbable. And so it is with baseball in October.

October is the occasion and opportunity for the best of baseball and baseball at its best. This time of year, you don’t necessarily need to be good, even though being good doesn’t hurt and it certainly does help. On the cool and cold nights of October, it’s better to be hot and hungry than to be good and gruffy.

October is the month you want to be hot, especially if you’re a baseball team.   And the Royals are just that. They’ve got confidence, charisma, and chutzpah, with the ability to get hits seemingly at whim and the ability to score runs seemingly at will. And as we all know, being hot is the uncanny combination of talent and tenacity and flair and fortuity.

And so what about you? Can you get hot at the right time and be at the right place and dot a base hit in just the right spot? And can you do all of this on demand, when the pressure is on and the bets are off?

Spiritually speaking, Believers are supposed to be “hot.”  In order to win, we need to get hot, and in order to get hot we need the fire of God. Being hot comes from spending time with the God who is a consuming fire. It takes praying hot prayers and shedding a lot of tears living a glowing life. And it takes following the leading of the Lord. We can’t possibly know and be and do everything the right way all of the time, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Wind of God, the Divine Comforter and Keeper, we can be hot with the fire of God just when we need to be.

So stop relying on your own muscle and your own might. Instead, desire and determine to depend on the leading of the Lord. It’s the only sure way to get and stay hot. 

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

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Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25, KJV

Going “To” the game and being “At” the game is so much better and so far superior to watching on television. Words fail to describe how much further and how much farther and how much MORE and how beyond belief the “at game” experience is. It was great. And to top it all off, we went on Bobblehead Day, and we got bobblehead dolls!

I went to a day game with some of my co-workers and we had a ball. It wasn’t a playoff game, nor was it a “playoff atmosphere,” but it was a significant game nonetheless. We went to a game at National’s Park, between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Nat’s had a nine game win streak on the line, and getting to ten consecutive wins in a row was a big deal. The score was 0-0 through the top of the ninth inning, producing a pretty slow, snails-pace of a game, but being with a group made getting there half the fun.

The game we went to just so happened to be during the home team’s hot streak. The Nationals are in 1st Place in the National League East, and are 7.5 games ahead of second place Atlanta. So you would think that the place would be hoppin’ and jumpin’ and people would be screaming and hollering for the home team. Well, not quite. The somewhat watered down Washington D.C. mood aside, the crowd was eager and excited and ready to go a ripping and a roaring for the home team.

Games are decided by scoring. The lack of scoring aside, there was plenty of drama and theater and comedy and tragedy at the game that you’ll only get at the game, and can’t get at home. Now mind you, I’d love to have season tickets, but am not one of the private, privileged prima donnas that can afford to purchase season tickets so that I’m a part of the atmosphere and ambiance of a home game all of the time. But surely I digress.

Going to the ball game is a summer treat. We saw tons of kids with their little National’s Jerseys and baseball caps and they were so cute. We saw families and seniors and couples and just plain ‘ole men at the ballpark on a nice summer afternoon enjoying American’s favorite pastime. And it was great.

So the spiritual tie-in is that we crone and we crave and we peek and we pine for community, and for something to cheer about and cheer for. We want to rejoice and revel, to enjoy and to elate with and for our teams. And I was cheering and yelling and screaming and shouting and whooping and hollering all for a team that I don’t even like! (I’m from Philly, remember?)

So whether it’s a church service or a concert or a conference or a cell group, go; GO to the “game.” We cannot live absent and apart from community, and this community must be healthy and wholesome and comforting and consoling and encouraging and heartening and inspiring and uplifting, all at the same time. So go to the “game.” You’ll get more out of it and can put more into it if you go, and you’ll be glad you did. Staying home and watching on T.V. is just not the same.

Get On A Hot Streak

Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez Flying 8.14.13Since June 22nd, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won 40 games against only 8 losses.  That’s a winning percentage of 0.833.  As my kids would say, “That’s Sick!” meaning, unbelievably unreal.   The victory over the Mets Wednesday, August 14th gave the Dodgers a 40-8 record since June 22nd, the best 48-game performance since the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals went 41-7.  Local television ratings for the Dodgers are up across the board for the season, and ESPN is moving Dodger games into prime time.

This is the definition of buzz.

“The buzz all starts with the success on the field,” said Lon Rosen, the Dodgers’ chief marketing officer. “Without the success on the field, I don’t think we get all the buzz.”  “The magic has happened again,” the Dodgers’ fabled 85-year old announcer Vin Scully excitedly proclaimed to his listeners as the Dodgers stormed back from trailing four-nothing to win in the Twelfth inning on Wednesday night.

When the hot streak started, Los Angeles was 30-42 and 9.5 games behind the leaders in the NL West. Today, the team boasts a 71-50 record and sits 7.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the division.  To cap it off, the Dodgers have missed the playoffs for the last three years and haven’t been in the World Series since winning it in 1988.  Now, they’re the favorite to win it all.

A hot streak is one of the more incredible phenomena in all of sports. They’re uncanny, usually unpredictable, and always unmanageable, meaning you can’t schedule a hot streak, you don’t know when it’s going to end, nor can you see one coming — “it just happens.”  Or does it? Continue reading