Can Jake Arrieta Get It Done in Philly?

Arietta in Philies Uniform

The Phillies are doing their part. Just two months after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, the Sixers and Flyers are in the playoffs and the Phillies are off to a great start, so all of the Philly franchises have jumped on the winning wagon and are contenders in their sport. The Phillies have won five straight behind their new ace pitcher Jake Arrieta. The Phils stand at 8-5 and are currently in second place behind the surprising 11-2 Miracle Mets. Go figure. On the other hand The Washington Nationals, picked to win it all (again), are 7-8 and sit in fourth place in the National League East.

The Phillies are doing their part because they signed Jake Arrieta to a multi-year deal, gaining a proven, star free-agent pitcher just prior to the beginning of the season. 

And while Arietta’s stats are inching in the wrong directions, there’s still hope that the veteran will add value to a team full of rookies and unproven players. Over the past few years with the Cubs (thanks Chi-Town!), the velocity of his payoff pitch as inched down while his ERA has inched up. But let’s focus on the positives, shall we?

We all need to do our part. Yes we all have negative traits and tendencies and bad habits and hiccups. Yes we need to work on them, but we really need to bolster and boost up the positive, attractive and affirmative side of our character. Since no one is perfect, we will never fully eradicate all of our bad habits. So men will still fart in public and teenagers will still do things their parents will never know about in private.

It’s called life. So do what you do well, and focus on the good outweighing the bad. And if you do more good than what you do bad (it’s supposed to be badly, but you know what  I mean), at the end of the day, you should come out on top.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=Jake+Arietta#id=4&vid=feab3ff31b6ce36499a130f1b2d477d2&action=click

What’s Next For RGIII? — Plan B

RGII Released

What a sad day for RGIII fans, worldwide. Anywhere and everywhere there are fans of this Heisman Trophy winner, they’re all taking time to pout and pine and ache and anguish over this once prime and prized QB who tore it up at Baylor, had one good year in the NFL with the Redskins, but hasn’t been able to find his way since.

Here’s the black and white, bottom line:

Robert Griffin III will be a free agent again, as the Cleveland Browns released the injury-plagued quarterback on Friday. Too bad, so sad.

The Browns gave Griffin a chance to revive his career after he was released by the Washington Redskins following the 2015 season. Cleveland named him the Week 1 starter in 2016, and he struggled in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in that game, Griffin broke the coracoid process in his left collarbone, an injury that sidelined him for 11 games. Though he played better in four games at the end of the season, he admitted his injury had not fully healed.

The Browns’ move comes after they traded with the Houston Texans for quarterback Brock Osweiler on Thursday, though league sources have told ESPN that Cleveland is likely to trade or release Osweiler before the 2017 season. But let’s get back to RGIII.

I’ve been a faithful fan of Robert Griffin III from the start. I’ve pulled for him and prayed for him and cheered for him and jeered at him, but it’s all because I like him. I do. Even in his arrogance and overconfidence (“I’m the best QB in the NFL” — really?),  I’ve tried to be there for him (like I could actually help him, right?) But I did try. And he did too. From where I sit, I believe he stood a chance. Unfortunately, he had hope but he did not have the help that he really needed. And so it appears that it just wasn’t meant to be.

RGIII’s story is a narrative reminiscent of another Heisman trophy winner who just couldn’t make it in the pros: Tim Tebow. Their stories are eerily similar.  They were great standup, standout QB’s in college, but this pro thing just didn’t seem to fit. Why didn’t they succeed as we – and they- had hoped and dreamed they would? Why do teams love them and then loath them? And why do we delight ourselves in their rise and yet disassociate ourselves with their fall?

It sounds like life. You have to believe, in God first, and then in yourself, regardless of who doesn’t. Now Tebow is trying out for the New York Mets. Seriously. Maybe RGIII can reinvent himself and find a path to his ultimate purpose. And the same goes for us when Plan A hits a snag and blows a tire or fizzles out or just doesn’t work out.

Because you always need a Plan B.

Is Tim Tebow Relentlessly Pursuing Failure?

tim-tebow

This is an excellent post from ESPN’s David Fleming, so I’m sharing it it’s entirety:

TIM TEBOW’S FIRST day of spring training unfolded pretty much exactly as expected. Before he stepped foot onto First Data Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida, his $28 Tebow 15 jersey was already available for purchase outside the ballpark. There was touching chatter about the joys of pursuing his “childhood dream” of playing baseball, not to be confused with his currently on hold “lifelong dream” of being an NFL quarterback. Many experts, after making a special point to say how nice and hard-working Tebow is, admitted that the guy who struck out 20 times in 62 at-bats during the Arizona Fall League didn’t look any more comfortable or natural as a pretend baseball player.

 None of that, of course, stopped networks, including this one, from running video of Tebow crushing home runs during his first batting practice session, titillating footage that has only slightly less correlation to actual baseball performance than sunflower-seed spitting. And, predictably, before the day was through, the New York Post had dubbed Tebow “a much more athletic Garth Brooks” while judging this spring training experiment to be Tebow’s latest, greatest feat of athletic failure. It was a declaration that Tebow seemed prepared to handle better than any curveball he has faced.

 “There are certain things in life we love and we have the chance to pursue, but a lot of the time fear of the unknown, fear of failure gets in the way,” Tebow told Marty Smith on SportsCenter at the start of camp. “If I fall flat on my face, then guess what, I’m going to get right back up again.”

 It’s a mantra that has sustained Tebow over the past five years. On Jan. 9, 2012, Tebow threw for 319 yards in a stunning 29-23 overtime win against an injury-depleted Pittsburgh defense in the AFC wild-card playoffs. Since then, though, he has grifted his way to untold riches and largely unearned opportunities with five franchises in two professions while barely bothering to alter his act. First, NFL quarterback was the dream he would relentlessly pursue, then — nope, hold up, wait a minute — it was actually baseball the entire time. In both sports, he has benefited from the same viral coverage to cloak his shortcomings, co-opted the same kind of devout “experts” to vouch for his authenticity, shown the same lack of humility and understanding of the challenges he faced, and, worst of all, exploited the same needs and dreams of fans in both sports.

What continues to make him one of the most puzzling and compelling athletes of his era, though, is not the long string of embarrassments, but rather, what seems to be Tebow’s absolute fearlessness in the face of Mets spring training, a challenge that is almost certainly going to be his greatest, most public humiliation yet.

“People will say, ‘What if you fail? What if you don’t make it?'” Tebow said at the beginning of this process. “Guess what? I don’t have to live with regret. I did everything I could. I pushed it. And I would rather be someone who can live with peace and no regret than being so scared I didn’t make the effort.”

Whether you think that’s enlightened or idiotic is up to you.

TEBOW HAS BEEN transformed into shorthand for fans, an instant litmus test. Are you a fellow dreamer and believer? Or are you one of those cold-hearted realists who worry about the minor league player who had his spring training roster spot stolen by Tebow’s publicity stunt?

In a way, he has even become a counter-culture icon, unafraid and unharmed by failure in an increasingly perfectionist society. It’s a place where icons such as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison confiscate their kid’s participation trophies and up to 75 percent of kids drop out of sports before age 14 because of a fear of failure. And so, what might be at the heart of the latest chapter of our ongoing infatuation with Tebow is the utterly unsettling way he has embraced, perfected and, yes, profited from the art of failure.

It would certainly explain this latest campaign, why at 29 he’d be so gung-ho about publicly attempting the most difficult challenge in sports — hitting Major League pitching — after more than a dozen years away from the game.

“I applaud what he’s doing. So many of us are crippled by high expectations that we tend to quit things way too early,” says Mark Anshel, a professor emeritus at Middle Tennessee State and the author of “In Praise of Failure.” “I think Tim Tebow knows exactly what he’s doing. If helping people deal with failure is how you believe you were called to serve God, then I’d say attempting to become a professional baseball player out of the blue at 29 is the absolute best place for him to be.”

Tebow ‘not going to worry’ what people think

On the first day, Tim Tebow spoke with his trademark smile and charisma, Tim Tebow added a new line to his resume: spring training attendee. What did the QB-turned-outfielder say at Mets camp, and how many BP homers did he blast?

Since the 2012 NFL playoffs, Tebow’s business as a pro athlete has been failure — and business has been good. After a brief, brilliant flash of success, the Broncos grew tired of his terrible throwing mechanics and struggles with the cognitive side of the game, and Tebow agreed to a trade to the absolute worst possible spot for a developing quarterback: the New York Jets. Tebow’s act of self-sabotage resulted in him completing just six passes behind Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy before being cut by Rex Ryan.

Not only did Tebow make the same choice when it came time to pick a baseball team, at both stops he also used his popularity and the ravenous media coverage, including a good share of it from yours truly and the rest of ESPN, to take the attention off his on-field struggles. No one remembers that on the first day Jets camp was open to the public, Tebow was so bad he completed just three passes while fans heckled him and coaches worried that he wasn’t a viable option to replace Sanchez. Instead, the only thing we remember about Tebow as a Jet was the shirtless QB jogging across the field in the rain after practice. Similarly, no one knows that Tebow went 0-for-3 in his Arizona Fall League debut or that scouts knew right away there was zero justification for his roster spot — a gift he honored by keeping his TV gig on the side. No, we remember him “saving” a fan who collapsed during an autograph session.

When his first stop in New York was over, an NFL scout told me the truest thing I have ever heard about Tebow’s athletic career. And it remains just as true in baseball: It is nearly impossible to find a teammate who will say anything bad about him as a person, or a scout who will say anything good about him as a player. “He’s a tough guy, a great leader, a great person,” an NFC scout said at the time. “He’s just not a quarterback.”

It didn’t matter. In fact, it only helped Tebow develop his brand: Failure Incorporated. The next summer, after he was unceremoniously let go by New England, Tebow vowed to go to the ends of the earth to make himself an NFL quarterback, a pledge that apparently did not extend to Canada or Orlando, where he had standing offers to hone his QB craft in the CFL and the Arena League. Stooping to play fullback or tight end, where he worried he would no longer be everyone’s focus of attention inside the huddle, was out of the question too. (And yet we believe this same guy intends to spend his summer in Single-A ball, riding a crowded, stinky bus, grinding his way through 140 games in 150 days?)

In parting ways with the Patriots, Tebow tweeted 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, in part, that “power is perfected in weakness” and, therefore, the best way to have Christ’s power dwell inside you is by boasting of your weaknesses. This seems to be the moment where Tebow was able to meld his rapidly dwindling prospects as an NFL quarterback with the universal connection to, and the spiritual rewards of, failing with honor and purpose — sometimes over and over and over again.

Despite an abundance of critics, Tebow has remained steadfast in his endeavors. The fear of failure is not something that dictates his path. Rich Schultz /Getty Images

IN 2014, TEBOW turned to former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer for tutelage and support. Dilfer and passing guru Tom House worked to improve Tebow’s throwing mechanics at the University of Southern California. But like millions of Tebow supporters, Dilfer might have been unable to separate his fondness for Tebow the man and his evaluation of Tebow the quarterback.

“This is one of the greatest players to play college football, and he didn’t know how to pass,” Dilfer raved on ESPN at the time. “I believe now he knows how to pass. Every GM, every scout, every person out there should go at least watch Tim Tebow now, because it’s a different guy.”

From – David Fleming, http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/18791367/tim-tebow-relentless-pursuit-failure

What Happened To The Mets?

badmets

NEW YORK — The New York Mets were three outs away from sending the World Series back to Kansas City when Terry Collins, weathered baseball lifer, did something that weathered baseball lifers are not supposed to do: He surrendered to his human instinct. He locked eyes with his pitcher, Matt Harvey, and listened as the kid spoke passionately from the heart.

“No way. No way. I’m not coming out,” the Fox camera caught Harvey saying. “I want this game. I want it bad. You’ve got to leave me in. … I want this game in the worst way,” was how Collins said he heard it.

It was the right call at the right time, no matter what Collins said in his news conference after this soul-crushing 12-inning defeat was complete. Sometimes, good managing and good coaching mean listening to your very best players. At the time Harvey dramatically raced from the dugout to the mound, inspiring an eruption in the stands, how many witnesses truly thought this was a bad idea?

“I let my heart get in the way of my gut. I love my players. And I trust them. … And it didn’t work. It was my fault.” Said Mets manager Terry Collins on his decision to let Matt Harvey start the ninth inning. http://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2015/story/_/page/playoffs15_OConnorCollins/terry-collins-made-right-call-matt-harvey

What happened to the Mets? The same thing that happens to all of us and the rest of us: there are times when we make the right move at the wrong time or the wrong move at the right time. Because all of our decisions are not the best ones. And even if we make what we thought was the correct decision at the time, unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way we want. 

What happened to the Mets? It’s like the children scolding the parents, or worse yet, the inmates running the asylum. Yes managers and coaches and skippers need to listen to their players just like teachers need to listen to their students and supervisors need to listen to their employees. But parents need to be parents and coaches need to be coaches. And even if Harvey should have been allowed to back to the mound in the ninth inning, after he surrendered that lead-off walk, he should have been yanked. End of discussion.

And so the lesson is this: if you’re a player worth your salt, you want the ball in your hands with the game on the line. And Harvey is to be commended for that. On the other hand, managers are paid to MANAGE the game and their players, and somebody needs to make the hard decisions and the tough calls and stick by them, popular or not. And hopefully, just hopefully, the right call is made at the right time.

Coming Through in the Clutch

David+Wright+New+York+Mets+Photo+Day

David Wright came through. He came through in the clutch. With his team, the only professional team he’s ever known, down 2-0 in games and 1-0 in the first inning of Game Three, David Wright launched and smacked and whacked a 400 foot, two-run homer out of the park to give his beloved Mets a 2-1 lead and a much needed boost just when they needed it most.

Clutch is defined as “exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.” Wow. That pretty much sums it up and says it all. But we can go further. As a noun, in life and in sports, clutch means “the crucial moment that comes between winning and losing.” And as an adjective, it means” being able to perform under extreme pressure.” Clutch, the verb, means simply this: “getting it done.” That’s it and that’s all. And David Wright got it done last night.

And Wright’s home run in the first was just the beginning; he wasn’t finished. He stood in the box with bases loaded in the sixth and jumped all over a fast ball and produced a 2 RBI single to put the icing on the cake. Mets – 8; Royals – 3. Game over. Now, all the Mets need to do is to win the rest of their home games at CitiField and go back to KC to pull off yet another Mets miracle to win another World Series.

Clutch players thrive on clutch moments. And clutch moments don’t come around every day. Wright missed most of 2015 because of a back injury, somehow got healthy again, and after 1,546 games in his regular season career, he finally appeared in a World Series. And in his first at-bat in front of the home town crowd in a championship game, he sent an 0-1, 96 mph fastball from Yordano Ventura over the wall in left-center for a two-run home run. Don’t you love the way baseball works sometimes?

It was a great moment for Wright, who has played the second-most games in Mets history, a great moment for the fans, and an important moment for the 2015 Mets. After the Royals scraped across a run in the top of the first with the help of a little infield trickler — here we go again — Wright’s blast erased the lead and set the tone for an offense that would attack Ventura in his short stint.

Wright came through. Wright came through in the clutch. And clutch players are our heroes. Spiritually speaking, we call “clutch” coming through “just in the nick of time.” Our God is clutch. He comes through and comes in and comes by and comes back for us just when we need Him most. And, don’t forget that we are the arms and legs and feet and hands of God. That means we are the ones that God uses to come through for others just like He comes through for us.

Naturally and spiritually, we all need our heroes to come through for us in the clutch. Just remember, sometimes that hero is you.

Living With A Royal Flush

Royals pic

The Kansas City Royals are on the verge of flushing the Mets right out of the World Series. That’s right. You heard it (or read it) first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. The Mets put their best pitchers up against the red hot Royals, and the Royals rolled and the Mets were mauled in KC like it was nobody’s business. Because this year, it seems like a win for the Royals is in the cards.

The Houston Astros couldn’t stop the Royals. The Toronto Blue Jays couldn’t oust the Royals. Then the Mets sent Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom out to squash them in the first two games of this World Series. And what did they learn? This is a team you just can’t squash. Apparently.

So the Royals are now two wins away from their first parade in three decades. They put a 7-1 shellacking on deGrom and the Mets and whaddaya know, they’re now up, 2 games to zip, and it’s not lookin’ good for the “other” New York baseball team from Queens.
Last year, the Royals took Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants to 7 Games before falling to the eventual Series MVP. Last year, “Madbum” https://godandsports.net/2014/10/30/you-too-can-be-a-rock-star-just-ask-madison-bumgarner/ ravaged the Royals and pitched Game 7 on 2 days’ rest. So, you could say that had not Madbum stood in the way, the Royals would be on their way to back-to-back World Championships, with maybe many more to come.

The Royals are proving how good they are. And the Royals are doing what Christians should be doing: proving the world wrong. Actually, we should be proving our God right and proving how good our God is. If our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and Miriam and David and Deborah and Esther and Elijah and Peter and Paul, then we have nothing to worry about when it comes to defeating our enemies and foiling our foes.

It doesn’t matter what other players have in their hand; we have a royal flush. That means we’ve got the best Supreme Being there is to have. If our God, the God of the Bible, is truly the True and Living God, then we are “playing” and living with a royal flush.

To Stay Up, or Not Stay Up and Watch All of a Monday Night Football Game: That’s The Question

Monday-night-football

“Oktoberfest” is here. Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey. So many games, so little time. 

For true sports fans, this is one of the best times of the year. It’s the time of year when all four major “food” groups — football, baseball, basketball and hockey, are played at the same time.

Football is in full swing, with the NFL leading the way and the NCAA men running right behind. Then we have “Baseball in October.” The ALCS and NLCS are ongoing (and we’re all pulling for the Cubs, right?) And the NHL is underway and the NBA is on the way.

So for sports junkies, this time of year is near next to nirvana. So keep up with the stats and the scores and the highlights and the players under the bright lights.

And stay up. That’s right — stay up. There are so many games on that run way past my bed time, so it’s tough for us old heads to manage. Tonight we have Sunday Night Football AND the Mets and the Cubs play. But the games don’t start until past 8 o’clock. And it’s a school night.

And tomorrow night is a big, big, big Monday Night Football game. My Philadelphia Eagles play a virtual “must win” game tomorrow at home in South Philly at “The Link” (Lincoln Financial Field) and I will have to take a nap at work if I’m going to be able to stay up and watch the whole game. If we win and defeat the New York “Football” Giants, we’ll be tied with them at 3-3 at the top of the Division. Yeah, I know — 3-3 ‘aint great, but it beats being 2-4.

So let’s enjoy the fall, football weather and the cool, crisp days and the bright, sunny rays and the crescent, harvest moons and the cold, frosty nights and the turning, falling leaves and the smorgasbord of football, baseball, basketball and hockey games to choose from. If only the entire year could be as exciting and as inviting as October.

Spiritually speaking, seasons and times and conditions change. Nothing is static, in sports or in life. And that’s one of the lessons sports teaches us. Don’t get complacent with the lead (just ask Michigan) and don’t think that because you’re in first place in April that you’ll end up in first place in September (just ask the Washington Nationals). And don’t get down if you’re struggling now. Things change.

So we all have to change and prepare and plan and make ready for what comes next. Because what comes next is better than what has been.

And the best is yet to come.