Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev: Survival Of the Fittest

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Rafael Nadal just won his 19th Grand Slam singles title as he was recently crowned the 2019 US Open Tennis Tournament champion. But it wasn’t easy. Nadal won because he outlasted his opponent. That’s it.  Nadal didn’t necessarily play better or serve better or volley better. He just lasted longer. And that’s the life lesson; sometimes you don’t win big by blowing out your opponent. Sometimes you just figure out a way to stay on your feet for five hours and will your way to a win. It takes guts and grit and resolve and a unanimous resolution to win the match we saw Rafael win on Sunday night. And it was one for the ages.

There were so many lessons and so many story lines and so many memories made that time would fail to capture them all in in one blog. But there’s one story line that I love. It’s about the heart of a champion. Here’s how a Washington Post writer described Nadal’s marathon match with Daniil Medvedev:

“In one of those occasional and stupendous sporting events that winds up flattering the runner-up every ounce as much as the winner, Rafael Nadal spent Sunday evening withstanding a championship match donnybrook rich in unbelievable volleys and awe inspiring, gasping points. A U.S. Open final that was an almost peerless, instant classic was built to such heights that the far-fetched story within it seemed to outweigh even the long-term significance it caused.

Daniil Medvedev, the 6-foot-6, 23-year-old Russian who looks as if he has never encountered a fat gram, spent the 4 hours 50 minutes of Nadal’s 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 win showing that his beanpole frame houses a humongous heart.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/09/08/us-open-mens-final-rafael-nadal-seeks-th-grand-slam-title/?noredirect=on

And so there you have it. Every time we outlast an opposition, we wonder how we made it over. The how is in the heart. And you don’t just need heart; you need a humongous heart, just like the tender, leathery heart of love that our Lord displayed for us on Calvary. The victory of the Cross wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Rafael Nadal would say the same about his momentous US Open Championship win.  And when we are still standing after the enemy has thrown his best at us, we too can say the same.

Patrick Ewing Returns Home, Because Home Is Where The Heart Is

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I’m happy for Patrick Ewing. I am. And I’m hopeful for Georgetown and the entire Hoya Nation. I really, really am. And I really hope this works. He’s going home, where he spent four wonderful, magical, fun-filled years playing for John Thompson, Jr. where together they built the Georgetown Men’s Basketball into a national powerhouse using the Big East Conference as a stage.

I’m happy for Patrick because, in this life, you have to pull for someone other than yourself. You have to be selfless and not selfish and cheer and scream and shout and hail for someone outside of your personal space to succeed. So. for the next year or so, I’m going to root and rally and whoop and holler for G’Town to win, except when they play Maryland, of course.

So here’s what the Gene Wang of the Washington Post had to say about Georgetown’s favorite son coming home:

“Ewing’s hire underscores Georgetown’s relationship with the Thompson. Ewing was Thompson Jr.’s first major recruit, and they won the 1984 national championship and made three Final Four appearances in four seasons.

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‘My four years at Georgetown were the best of my life,’ Ewing said in a statement. ‘Georgetown is my home, and it is a great honor for me to return to my alma mater and serve as the next head coach.’

Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985 after being named consensus first-team all-American for three straight years, beginning when he was a sophomore. He is second at Georgetown in career points and first in career rebounds, blocks and games played. Ewing is one of four players in school history with 2,000 career points.

The New York Knicks selected Ewing with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft. He went on to win NBA rookie of the year and was an 11-time All-Star during a career spanning 17 seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ewing has no previous head coaching experience but did serve lengthy stints as an assistant with the Houston Rockets under former coach Jeff Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic under Coach Stan Van Gundy. Ewing joined Hornets Coach Steve Clifford’s staff in 2013.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2017/04/03/georgetown-university-hires-star-alumnus-patrick-ewing-to-replace-john-thompson-iii-as-mens-basketball-coach/?utm_term=.72224541506c#comments

Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016: “Let the Games Begin”

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How big a deal are the Olympics?  Big. Big, big. Big, big, big. Big deal. The Olympics are a really big deal. Under the best of civil circumstances, it’s no small feat to pull them off, and Brazil has had her fair share of challenges. Yet and still Brazil is getting these Olympics off the ground. That’s why I’m pulling for this impoverished and embattled nation and praying for them to win and win big. 

Many countries coming together under the banner of peace and harmony and goodwill is a genuinely good thing.  A manifold diversity of nationalities and ethnicities and cultures and customs gathering together at all is not a bad thing. So here’s to a safe, sensational, marvelous and memorable fortnight of games.

Harmony is of God. Peace and accord and unity and agreement under the banner of sports and sportsmanship can’t be bad; in fact it’s a very good thing. And so even if “religion” or faith is not a central theme or principal premise of the games, they are part and parcel of the Olympic spirit.

Amidst and amongst the multiple countries and the myriad of contestants, each and every athlete has the chance and the challenge of becoming a champion and winning gold. And winning, as we all know, is spiritual. Yes participating is an honor, but “you play to win the game. Hello!” Right? (Thanks Herman Edwards).

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a poignant article about the games being in Rio. Here’s a sampling of what she said:

The Games have stressed a city already under stress; you can see that in the stoic faces waiting for the groaning city buses that aren’t permitted in the dedicated lanes and the angry protests that followed the torch. But by the eve of the Opening Ceremonies, it also was plain what a grand if teetering metropolis this is, with its eras stacked one top of another: imperial, colonial, belle epoque and modern.

This fact gives the Rio Games an atmosphere unlike any before: there is a mixed undercurrent here, a skeptical pride, a political roil and above all a juxtaposition of gorgeousness and want, existing side by side. These are an especially striated, bifurcated Olympics.

But I agree with this line from Sally; “Bringing the Olympics here was not a mistake despite the unfinished buildings and exposed pipes and sewer water.” Every athlete has a right to have a chance, and so do countries and nations. And this is Brazil’s chance.

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This is the first Olympics in South America, the second poorest continent on the globe, behind Africa. And it is Biblical and spiritual that the poor and the lowly and the modest and the common man amongst us deserves to be raised up and built up and brought up to where they belong.

And this is the spiritual side of the Olympics.

Sports in Washington, DC: Up and Down and All Around

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The Wizards just won a First Round playoff series by sweeping the Toronto Raptors.

The Nationals are tied for last place.

The Capitals play Game 7 tonight against their arch rivals, the New York Islanders, and;

The Redskins just picked up the option on RGIII’s contract, but I’m not even going there.

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Sports in Washington, D.C. Oh boy. Hold on tight to your dreams.   If there ever was a city that was up and down and all around, when it comes to sports, it’s the Nation’s Capital.  So much promise. So little delivery.  If it weren’t for the little matter of three Super Bowl wins for the defunct Redskins, now otherwise known as the “Deadskins” and those Vince Lombardi trophies that came along with ‘em, the city would be on a sports suicide watch. But let’s not paint such a pitiful picture.

First, the good news: The Wizards proved that they are a legitimate playoff contender.  Not only did they win a first round series, they whupped and walloped the Atlantic Division winners. It was a matchup of the 5 Seed defeating a Four Seed, but what the hey; a win, is a win, is a win. Now it’s on to the Atlanta Hawks, if and when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks.  It should be an entertaining series and one the Wizards should win.  But we’ll wait and see.

Now for the not-so-good news: The Nationals. They just lost five straight. Not good.  They were picked to not only go to the World Series, but to WIN the World Series. That’s great, except this early season slump has got a lot of the locals a little leery and loopy.  Yes it’s a long season. No this was not expected. Yes they are somewhat shorthanded. No the pundits shouldn’t panic yet. At least not yet.

As for the Capitals, where do we begin?  Scott Allen of the Washington Post says this:

You’re right to be nervous. You’re forgiven if you’re full of dread. Even if you weren’t around for the first Game 7 in Washington Capitals franchise history 28 years ago, you were around for the most recent, and probably several other of the 10 Game 7s — most of them heartbreaking — in between. Nine losses in 12 games, all scarring in their own ways.

The Capitals play their lucky 13th Game 7 on Monday against the New York Islanders, the same franchise that ended Washington’s first Game 7 at 1:58 a.m. on April 19, 1987. That history doesn’t matter to the players on the ice, of course.

But as all tried and true sports fans know, history DOES matter. And history is not on the Capitals side.  So we’re all waiting with baited breath so see what happens tonight. I’m too scared to watch!

And so it is with most of us. Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down and most times we’re all around. We want to be on top and in first and at our best all of the time. But life doesn’t work that way. We are oft times frail and fragile and not always fleet and agile.  We can be flimsy and whimsy and rocky and rickety and we need help. And lots of it. Humans in general and sports fans in specific need all the help we can get.

Since we’re all up and down and all around, some depend on luck.  If it weren’t for bad sports luck, some of us wouldn’t have any sports luck at all. What’s that? We don’t believe in luck? I thought we believed in Andrew Luck? https://godandsports.net/2015/01/11/i-believe-in-luck-2-0/ OK, he’s AFC and he’s a time zone away. I get it.

I choose to depend on God.  He always comes through. Maybe not for our teams, but for us and our dreams, He does, when we trust Him.  

So take heart, Washington D .C. sports fans. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming trail.  I don’t think.

Winning Is Serious Fun

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No one likes to lose and everyone wants to win. While it’s that simple, it’s not that easy. And as they say, “it’s easier said than done.”  Winning is fun; its serious fun. And fun, Biblically speaking, is “joy.” Joy is a positive attitude or pleasant emotion; it means delight.  The joy which the people of God should have is holy and pure. This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of God.

It is a joy to win, and it is a downer to lose. In losing we learn life lessons. But there comes a time when it’s time to turn in the lessons, and receive a final grade.

No one likes to lose because losing means to slip and to slide, to fail and to flounder, to miss the mission and jettison the job. When you lose you obliterate the operation, but when you win you inaugurate the celebration. Winning cures everything. Winning cures what ails us. But in order to win we must consistently do and persistently say and voice the vision of victory.  Like my Maryland Terps did last night.

My Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball Team upset No. 5 Wisconsin last night, 59 -53 . It was a fantastic finish to a wonderful win. Dez Wells, Maryland’s senior star, consistently and persistently poked and prodded his teammates to victory.  He mandated that they could win; he pleaded that they should win; and in the end, he ensured that they would win. And win they did. And they had fun doing it, and the fans had fun celebrating it, as they rushed the court to celebrate after the final buzzer sounded.

Everyone wants to win. And Dez Wells does too. He scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists; not too shabby. Wells was the spark and the sparkle of the team. AND, I’m convinced that my Terps can play like that all of the time. Instead of being hot and cold and off and on, sometimes up and sometimes down, these Terps could be the best of the best most of the time.  The sky is the limit.

Winning like the Terps did last night makes one ponder and pose and consider and conceive – and even expect — how life would be if we played well all of the time. Just suppose; just imagine; just think of how good we could be if we hit on all cylinders at least MOST of the time? But alas, this season my Terps didn’t; and unfortunately they haven’t – played their best every game — but they could’ve.  And the same goes for all of the rest of us too.

Everyone wants to win and no one likes to lose. Because winning is serious. It’s means something and it matters everything. Why? Because winning is communicable and contagious; winning is transferable and transmittable; but so is losing. And the line and the limit between losing and winning are so thin you can barely see it with a magnifying glass.

Since everyone wants to win, and everyone is serious about winning, we strive for precision and perfection; we strive for faultless and flawless; we strive for the fantastic and the fanciful. We strive for Oscar-winning performances on and off the court. And with help from the Heavens, we hope to have happy, healthy, joyful and jovial endings to all, or at least most, of our games. It’s that serious.

And here’s an excerpt from Washington Post Sports Columnist Jason Ried’s article on the win:

“Recent signs indicate the Terrapins possess what it takes to have some fun in the NCAA tournament, and the biggest one occurred Tuesday night during a stirring 59-53 victory over formidable Wisconsin.”

“Dez Wells wouldn’t let us lose,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Melo was Melo.”

“Picked 10th in the conference preseason poll, Maryland steadily has gained supporters. It’s easy to like an up-and-comer that seemed to come from nowhere. Guess who was ahead of the pack.”

“The victory was the Terrapins’ best of the season by far . . . “

And that’s serious, and that’s fun.

It Ain’t Over

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It Ain’t Over.

Many times when we find ourselves in tight spots we call it quits and throw in the towel at 11:59 – one minute before midnight; one minute too early – and a moment too soon.  But as the old saying goes, “it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings.” A better, more spiritual way of putting it is “it ain”t over till God says it’s over.”  Joseph was in the pit, Daniel was in the Lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in the fiery furnace, Peter, Paul and Silas were in jail, and Jesus was nailed to a rugged cross and then buried in a borrowed tomb.

And we all know how the story ends. Joseph made it all the way to the palace; Daniel was named as the No. 3 Man in the empire, the three Hebrew boys made it out of the fire unscathed,  Peter, Paul and Silas were miraculously freed from prison, and Jesus rose from the dead.  It ain’t over until God says it’s over!

Let’s equate this to baseball. Continue reading