18 Innings?  Dodgers Win Instant Classic In A World Series Seminar On Perseverance

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Max Muncy Celebrates His 18th Inning Walk Off Homer in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series

Some wins don’t come easy. And some loses come after you’ve given it all you’ve got. So is the story of Game 3 of the 2018 World Series played at storied Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles between the Boston Red Sox and the LA Dodgers. It has become an instant classic for its longevity and its lesson on durability.

Late into the Pacific time zone night and early into the East Coast morning, neither team was willing to yield an inch in this pivotal, potentially Series deciding game between these two baseball superpowers. It was a vintage Ali-Frazier, 15 Round heavyweight fight which left both boxers bloody and bludgeoned. After 18 innings of jitters and nerves, the Dodgers emerged, or rather survived, this bought with the hope and confidence that they can yet pull another rabbit of their hat and actually win this Series. Lose the game and they would be down 0-3; win and they cut the deficit to 2-1; it’s a difference and differential that’s as wide and wanton as you can get. No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit in the World Series.

This game had enough ups and downs and gripping drama and nail-bighting tension to fill half a season, all wrapped up in a 7 hour and 20 minute baseball battle. Ironically enough, I wrote about the last longest game in postseason history too. That one was “only” six and one half hours long. See https://godandsports.net/2014/10/05/unforgettable-wins-and-unspeakable-loses/

We all like quick and easy. We all like instant and immediate. We all like it and want it now, and when we’re in a hurry, “right now.” But life is not always so obliging. Life does not always cooperate with our desires and demands. The hard but necessary lesson is this: Heaven uses the vicissitudes of life to teach us that what we want does not always come when we want it. Sometimes we are required to wait it out and tough it out. Sometimes we have to persist and preserve through an 18 inning type of trial and suck it up and stick it out until victory is won.

It’s a part of our spiritual training and is a page out of God’s playbook. To endure and to stand and to stomach and hold on and hold out will teach us how much God loves us and how much He has already endured for us, especially on the Cross. Ours is to trust that He still knows what’s best for us.

I don’t know where you are, but that’s where I’m at, because “life can be queer with its twists and turns, as everyone of us sometimes learns . . . but just don’t quit.”

Here’s how ESPN Staff Writer Bradford Doolittle put it:

“With a Cody Bellinger throw and a Max Muncy blow, the Los Angeles Dodgers have crawled back into the World Series. It only took the longest game in the history of the Fall Classic to do it.

Muncy’s dramatic opposite-field home run in the 18th inning off Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi lifted the Dodgers to a will-testing 3-2 win in Game 3 of the World Series, which started late Friday afternoon but ended early Saturday morning, cutting the Red Sox’s lead in the World Series to 2-1.

It was L.A.’s first walk-off Series win since Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 homer off Dennis Eckersley in 1988, which sparked the Dodgers to their last title. Muncy became the first player to hit a game-ending homer in a World Series game since former Cardinal and current Dodger David Freese in 2011. Not bad for a player who was released by the Oakland A’s before last season.

“It’s been a dream,” Muncy said. “This whole year has been a surreal experience that it’s hard to put into words. Just getting a chance to play in the World Series has kind of capped it off. Getting a chance to hit a walk-off home run, obviously there’s not many words I can use to describe that. The feeling was just pure joy and incredible excitement.”

It also was an act of mercy for everyone on hand at Dodger Stadium and watching on TV. The homer ended a game that lasted 7 hours, 20 minutes and ended at 3:30 a.m. Boston time. The time of game would have been long for a doubleheader. It also was the longest World Series contest by innings.” http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/25094012/mlb-max-muncy-gives-los-angeles-dodgers-epic-world-series-win

Toronto?  Kaw-Why!?

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Sometimes somethings just don’t make a whole lot of sense on paper. And sometimes somethings make less sense in reality. And Sometimes somethings weren’t even a good idea at the time. Hence is the Kawhi Leonard trade from San Antonio to Toronto. Yes, Toronto. That perennially great regular season team that can’t do a darn thing in the playoffs. Now they’ve essentially rented Kawhi for one year, because next year he’s a Free Agent. (And why does free agency cost so much?)

Toronto traded Kawhi for DeMar DeRozan, but “in the initial aftermath, reports came out indicating that neither of the star players involved were thrilled about the deal, and in fact Leonard had no interest in playing with the Raptors. However, it seems that Leonard has softened that stance a bit. According to a report from Bruce Arthur, the Raptors have had ‘positive’ talks with Leonard’s camp, and the star has shown no indication that he’ll holdout.

And so Kawhi Leonard finally got his wish. He’s no longer a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Only, the blockbuster trade that got him out of town sent him not to Los Angeles, but the polar opposite: Toronto. Early on Wednesday morning, the Spurs and Raptors swung a huge deal that sent Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs.

So again, the $25,000 question is “Why?” Why did the marriage between Kawhi and San Antonio, and more specifially between Kawhi and Greg Popovich, go so bad so fast? Why Toronto? And why do teams trade their best player to a team they don’t want to play for?

Sometimes somethings just don’t make sense. But for those who know and trust God, there is a silver lining. Romans 8:28 says that “And we know that all things work together for good for them who love God; to those who are called according to his purpose.” The Message Bible puts it this way:

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Every detail is worked into something good. I don’t know what Kawhi’s spiritual status is, but I absolutely know mine. And that means that all of the bad and the ugly are working together for my good. Thank God. Job felt the same way. He went thorugh somethings that did not make sense. And without this promise, Job and I would have gone crazy a long time ago. So we hold to this promise, and all the while sing this old hymn, until our change comes:

We are tossed and driven
on the restless sea of time;
somber skies and howling tempests
oft succeed a bright sunshine;
in that land of perfect day,
when the mists are rolled away,
we will understand it better by and by.

Refrain:
By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home,
we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.

Bryce Haper Wins The 2018 HR Derby with a Flair for the Dramatic

Bryce Harper 2018 Home Run Derby

Bryce Harper vowed to enter, and win, the MLB Homerun Derby if and when the All Star Game was held in his hometown. Well, last night was the night. In dramatic, come from behind, flamboyant fashion, Bryce Harper avoided flaming out at home as he was “on the verge of an anticlimactic ending. Instead Harper began a furious comeback with a nod and some family karma. Down 18-9 to the Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber in the final round, Bryce went deep nine times in a span of 10 swings to tie it at the end of regulation. Then he drove the second pitch of bonus time over the fence in center field to win the thing, and all sorts of raw emotions came flooding to the surface.

As magenta steamers rained down from high above the stands behind home plate, Harper walked triumphantly down the first-base line with his bat raised high above his head. Then teammates Sean Doolittle and Max Scherzer came out and handed him the Home Run Derby trophy, and Martinez lifted him off the ground in a mammoth bear hug. It was a moment of sweet relief and unbridled joy in a season with too many negative undertones.

It was a welcome respite for a town and a team playing trying to live up to the hype.

The Washington Nationals are playing below expectations and their boy wonder is having a so-so year. He’s hitting .214. and his 23 home runs are offset by 102 strikeouts and a .187 batting average since the start of May. The Nationals are 5½ games behind first-place Philadelphia and five back of second-place Atlanta in the National League East, and they’re going to have to pick up their play considerably to avoid being one of 2018’s colossal disappointments.

While Harper struggles, Manny Machado is having a more productive season in Baltimore and laying an early claim to the bigger payday in the offseason. Somber, distracted and underachieving are never a good recipe for getting the most out of a free-agent “walk” year.

The 2018 Home Run Derby took on extra meaning for Harper, who participated in the event as a shoutout to the home crowd in what might be his final season in Washington. For sentimentalists, he brought along his father, Ron, as his designated Derby pitcher.

‘It’s unbelievable,’’ Harper said. ‘We have some of the best fans in baseball, and to be able to do that with my family out there, that’s an incredible moment — not only for me, but for the organization and Nationals fans. I’m very blessed and humbled.’”  http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/24116616/mlb-bryce-harper-brings-house-epic-derby-comeback

And that’s the beauty of sports. It gives us a taste and a glimpse of what God gives us heaps and hordes of, and that’s victories and triumphs with a flair for the dramatic. David defeated Goliath and his unheralded victory had a flair for the dramatic. Moses parted the Red Sea as the children of Israel fled Pharoah and his army, and that escape from Egypt had a flair for the dramatic. And of course our Lord was crucified on the old rugged cross, and His resurrection from the dead had a flair for the dramatic.

March Madness: Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds

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“Nothing feels better than this,” UNR coach Eric Musselman said. “Nothing. Sweet 16!”

UVA made history. So did UMBC and so did Loyola-Chicago and so did Buffalo. UVA was the first No. 1 Seed to lose to a 16 Seed. Likewise, UMBC has the distinct honor of being the first 16 Seed to upset a No. 1 Seed. It’s never happened before, and we all thought that it never would. Correction: we didn’t believe it ever could. But it did.

Loyola-Chicago, an 11 Seed, defeated Miami, a Six Seed, and then turned right around and defeated Tennessee, a Three Seed. Madness.   Buffalo, seeded 13, THIRTEEN!, beat Arizona, a 4 Seed — in the first round. And that’s just for starters.

Xavier, another No. 1 Seed, is gone. North Carolina and Cincinnati, both No. 2 Seeds, are gone too, and so is Michigan State, a No. 3 Seed. Notice a trend here? Houston beat Michigan – no wait, Michigan actually won! And on a buzzer beater by a freshman, no less! Goodness! And it’s going to snow tomorrow night! Talk about March Madness. There was barely a bad game in the tournament. Yes some were tough to watch because of poor officiating and spells of sporadic shooting, but all in all, it’s seems to be the year of the underdog. We could talk all day about UMBC beating UVA, but how about Nevada’s win?

Josh Hall converted an offensive rebound for the tiebreaking basket with 9.1 seconds left as University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) erased a 22-point deficit in the final minutes of a stunning 75-73 victory over Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. UNR’s stirring comeback — the second-largest in tournament history — came just two days after the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack rallied from 14 points down to beat Texas 87-83 for its first NCAA victory since 2007.

The Wolf Pack (28-7) move on to an all-upstart South Region semifinal matchup with 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago (30-5) on Thursday. Cincinnati, the No. 2 seed, never trailed until Hall’s tiebreaking basket but watched its lead disintegrate as it failed to make a basket in the final 5:45.

Nothing feels better than this,” UNR coach Eric Musselman said. “Nothing. Sweet 16!”

This year, perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, there have been more upsets, comebacks and turnarounds than you can shake a stick at. We’ve seen epic victories, historic collapses, and a little of bit everything else in between. It’s so much like living in the Bible days, it’s scary. It’s almost as if the Bible is coming off of the pages, or up out of your smart phone. The holy writ says that “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first”. That’s what we’re seeing here.

It’s so spiritual, it’s so mystical, and it’s so applicable to everyday life in general and to our lives in specific that we have no choice but to stop and take note. How are the teams who no one picked to win winning with reckless abandon?   

I submit that we must acknowledge the otherworldly dimension of sports. But before you dismiss this notion, hear me out.  Not everyone believes in prayer, but those that do believe that faith and works actually work together for good. Mix some elbow grease in with a good game plan and teamwork and a technical reason for how David defeated Goliath and, viola, you get Loyola-Chicago winning two games in this tournament, and  UBMC trumping over an overconfident and (shall we say overly arrogant?) Virginia team that swears by its “system” come what may.

Miracles do happen on ice and yes, on the hardwood. You may not be a believer, but after this weekend’s upsets, comebacks and turnarounds, I don’t see how you can’t be.

Now, They HAVE To Win!


Foles and Wentz

Why should you be cheering for Philly on Super Bowl Sunday? I’ll tell you why. I’m a Philly fan. And, at least for this Super Bowl, you should be too. For a number of reasons, everyone outside of New England should be rooting for Philly.

So here we go:

No.1: The Eagles (pronounced Iggles for all those of you who want to jump on the bandwagon) have a compelling story. They’ve lost their darling, star, MVP-candidate quarterback Carson Wentz to injury.  They lost their All Pro Offensive tackle Jason Peters and then Darren Sproles and several other key players to injury.  And they STILL made it to the Super Bowl!  How can you not root for this team?

No. 2: Carson Wentz is genually happy for Nick Foles. He is. As much as he would like to be out their winning the games and playing in the Super Bowl, he’s a team player, and he is helping and aiding and assisting Foles so that the TEAM wins. And you can’t help but root for that.  

No: 3: The City of Brotherly Love is deserving of a Super Bowl Victory. That’s right. We’ve got some passionate fans (to say the least) and I’m one of them. And we’re Super Bowl starved to the point that a win on February 4th in Minneapolis would quench a lot of fanatic thirst.

No. 4: The fans aren’t that bad. No, we’re not. Yes you may have heard some harsh, horrific, wild and woolly stories about the fans. Don’t believe them all. When people find out I’m an Eagles, they say, “But you’re such a nice guy?” I love it.

No. 5: We’re playing the Evil Empire. That’s right; the Patriots are equivalent to the dark side of the Force and Bill Belichick might as well be Darth Vader at his nadir. So many people hate, and I do mean hate, everything that has anything to do with the Patriots, Tom Brady and all. So there’s plenty of room on the Eagles bandwagon for all of you who want to jump on board.

No. 6a: The Eagles are the underdogs. And they’re relishing this role.  And why not? It’s so spiritual.  God loves the underdog.  All dogs don’t go to Heaven, but all of Heaven is pulling for all underdogs who have been knocked down and shoved aside and left for dead. And if you’ve ever been in the role of an un-liked, unloved and unlikely little guy, you know how it feels to be voted least likely to succeed. And then when you do  succeed, it’s the best thing ever.

No. 6b: The Eagles were underdogs to the best defense in the league this year, the Minnesota Vikings. Yet and still their journeyman backup quarterback, Nick Foles, had the game of his life against them! Go Eaglesssssssssssssssss!

No. 7: The Eagles are destined to win. When Wentz went down, no one, and I mean NO ONE outside of Philly gave them a chance.  So now they must be the team with the date with destiny, right?

So, let’s borrow a movie line from a touching scene in The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katnis Everdeen and a young Amandla Stenberg as Rue. After Katnis goes through all that she goes through to get to the goal line of a victory and was on the verge of a unbelievable upset win, Rue, the cute little caramel colored girl who eventually gets killed imploringly gives Katnis a prophetic word. Remember what she says? She uttered these immortal words: “Now you HAVE to Win!

After all the Eagles have been through, now they have to win.

 

Fly Eagles Fly!

Strengthen Your Core

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Victory begins with strength and stamina and energy and endurance. And all of these, especially strength, incubate from within. Strength deep down eventually wells way up and flows out from the heart.  A strong spirit leads to a strong heart which leads to a strong mind which leads to a strong body, in that order.  And the starting point lies at the core, hidden and buried and concealed and covered up inside.

It’s really not the outside that matters; it’s the inside. Because what’s in will eventually come out. So beware what you put in, because what you put in will eventually come out. They say you are what you eat; that’s a physical and a spiritual axiom. What you feed your body and your mind and your spirit will eventually and ultimately determine where you end up.

I’ve seen too many people who should be better off or farther along or higher up, but they aren’t. I know of teams and clubs and lineups and players who play down or soft or lax and you know that they have more in them than they’re showing. And you’ve seen it too. How many people and athletes do you know that are strong and healthy physically but at the same time are weak and sickly emotionally and psychologically?  Why? Because they have a weak core. They may be sound in body but they are weak in spirit.  And that’s where it all starts and that’s where it will all end up.

And if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m talking about me too.

So strengthen your core. Do more than core power yoga and abs training and squats. Strengthen your core values and your core beliefs need to be strengthened and fortified. Your inner being and your inmost thoughts and feelings need strengthening and shoring up. Forget about what other people are doing or saying or even getting away with. Don’t focus on what they’re about; focus on what YOU’RE about and what you need to do and say and be.  And it starts way, deep down on the inside of your very being.  The essence of you is your core.  Your center and your crux and your nucleus and your nub is the real you.

So do all you can to be strong on the inside. Then, and only then, will you will be strong on the outside.

Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

I Samuel 16:7

Why Philly Fans Are the Best

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Bradley Cooper with DeSean Jackson Philadelphia Eagles jeresy on playing Pat Solatano in a scene from the motion picture “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Philly fans are the best.

That’s right. Philly fans are the best. And you heard it right here on www.Godandsports.net. Yes Green Bay Packer fans and New England Patriot fans (booo!) and Golden State Warrior fans and Pittsburg Penguin fans and Ohio State Buckeye fans and LA Dodger fans may be passionate and arrogant and snobbish and boorish when it comes to their team, but Philly fans are the best. The best of the best. Why? I’m from Philly so let me tell you why.

Philly fans are fanatical, and being a fanatic is not a bad thing. Fanatical means to be marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea. And there’s nothing wrong with being a fanatic for a good cause. Enthusiasm and fervency and zeal and devotion are part and parcel of sports. And when these ingredients are missing and wanting, there’s a void and a vacuum that just can’t be filled.

Philly fans have Carson Wentz, a born again believer who’s uses his faith for football. John Gruden said it best on MNF: “Carson Wentz believes that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ helps him play football better.”  Amen brother. I am all for the combination of faith and football, and other sports too. And Carson Wentz is doing just that. 

Carson Wentz is combining his physicality with his spirituality.  He’s a bona fide believer and a darn good football player using his platform to win football games and to point others to spiritual victory.  And since Wentz has been sweetly saved by His power divine, he is be a sell out for the salvation of other sinners whose souls need saving too.  

Philly fans have Joel Embiid. And we “trust” and believe in “The Process.”  Since trust is a spiritual word, Philly fans are full of faith and energized with enthusiasm and jumping’ for joy over the fact that now our football team, (Go Eagles!) and our basketball team (DA Sixas!) are finally doing well, at the same time, and are on their way to being great.

Spiritually speaking, we all should be full of faith and hope and love. And that sums up every Philly fan. We have faith in the process, we hope to win a championship or two (soon!), and we love our teams and the players that have played for them.  And all fans everywhere should be the same way too.