Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pacman and the Defintion of Sin

I thought I had heard and seen everything regarding Adam "Pacman" Jones, the currently suspended NFL Defensive Back. And trust me, I've heard a lot. But what was said yesterday out of his own mouth really takes the cake. Pacman was on the the radio in Dallas, TX being interviewed by Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin on Irvin's radio show. During that interview, Jones talked about his past and how he's living clean and wanting to get reinstated and hopefully get traded to play with the Cowboys.

One thing that really stood out to me was the statement he made referring to a conversation he had with his counselor (he was required to go to a counselor as part of his suspension). Here is the statement: "It ain't no sin to go to the strip club."

Okay, let's think about this one for a moment. "It ain't no sin to go to the strip club." Something just doesn't sound right in that statement. Maybe it's the correlation between no sin and strip club. Then again, my friend Erin, the English professor would comment on the double negative that Pacman used. So maybe in a subtle way that it is a sin to go to the strip that's probably not what he meant.

Now for a long time, I've defended Pacman. Probably way longer than I should have. I even thought him getting involved with pro wrestling was a good thing for him. But there comes a point when it's just like "Okay you're going to have to learn the hard way." I hate to break it to you Pacman, but going to a strip club, that's a sin. And we've seen the consequences in your life how that's played out because you've went (suspended for a year...maybe more, bodyguard shot and paralyzed, numerous other bad incidents).

I think the old catchphrase "It is what it is" rings true here. Sin is sin. Period. Doesn't matter who you are, what kind of background you have, it's still bad and bad for you. I still hold out hope for Pacman to turn his life around. But after that interview, he still has a long way to go. And there isn't going to be a power pellet that's going to get him out of this mess....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Turning Japanese, Baseball Style

2008 メジャーリーグの季節の開始へのこんにちはそして歓迎。(For those of you who don't know Japanese, myself included, it translates "Hello and welcome to the start of the 2008 Major League Baseball season). The season begun officially early this morning here and in the evening in Japan. The two game series (with games on Monday and Tuesday) pit the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox against the Oakland A's. The Red Sox won the first game 6-5 in 10 innings.

This is the third time the MLB season has started in Japan. In 2000, the Chicago Cubs played the New York Mets and in 2004, the New York Yankees played the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Much has been made about these type of trips overseas. The underlying factor seems to be money as the main factor for these series.

My personal view is that I love the an exhibition sense. It's cool to see the culture and tradition of the Japanese in display in such a manner. And it's cool to see players get to play in stadiums that they wouldn't normally play. However, I don't think it's fair for either team if it's considered a regular season game because 1) the "away" team has to deal with the grueling travel. For the Red Sox, they will be essentially 19 days away from home before they have a home game. 2) the "home" team loses two games that would have been played in their home stadium. The A's essentially lose home field advantage and if the race for the division comes down to a game or two, those games not played on their home field could make a difference.

I know for most people, they don't consider the start of the regular season to begin until Sunday and I would tend to agree. But for the pagentry, this is a cool way to kick off the baseball season. Hopefully come June, this two game series in Japan won't be a detriment to them.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Upsets Galore in the Tournament

Well, it waited until the second day of the tournament for upsets to really show up. Those people who were in Tampa got to see a show for sure. Four upsets including two overtime games. I know I didn't have Western Kentucky vs. San Diego in my bracket. Most of my brackets survived the first round without too much disruption. I only lost a few sweet 16 teams. It'll be interesting to see how the weekend plays out with the second round.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 1 of The Madness

Today is one of the best days of the year. Today is day 1 of March Madness. So far, the favorites have won out and of course this has made my bracket not perfect. My "best" bracket has 6 out of 8 correct with the morning sessions. I don't think that will hold out and that there will be some upsets before the day is over with.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to watch Tennessee's first round game tomorrow. I will be on the road going to visit my family and friends for spring break. I'm hoping to be home in time to watch the night games, which include Vandy and Memphis.

Hope your brackets are holding up!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The (March) Madness Is Upon Us

It's that time of the year. The Madness is upon us and not I'm not talking about the professional wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage. I am talking about the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament aka "March Madness". The time of the year where people from all walks of life come together for a common fill out a bracket and try to win office pools/online contests/bragging rights among friends.

This time of the year is one of my favorite times of the year. I thoroughly enjoy filling out brackets and watching the games, especially the first two rounds. The first two rounds of the tournament are some of the most exciting games in any sport. All the drama, all the suspense, all the upsets. It makes for some quality entertainment. And on top of that, games are on during the day, which is another plus.

I kept up with the tournament ever since I was a little kid (of course). I started getting more interested during high school. Then, some of my teachers when we had some down time would turn the TV on and we'd watch some of the games (thank you Channel One for bringing cable into the classroom). But I really didn't get involved until I went to college at Union University. My sophomore year I was rooming with three guys who became my best friends. The four of us along with a brother of one of my roommates and another friend had a deal where the winner would be treated to a steak dinner by the rest of the group. This became a tradition through college and by the time we were seniors, there was a decent size group involved. It really brought out a sense of fellowship and good times and made watching the games more interesting. Part of how the grouping worked was we would fill out five brackets and at the end of the tournament we would take our best bracket and compare and the one who had the best of the best would be the winner. I ended up winning my senior year (2002, picked Maryland to win it all and was correct).

Since college, I've continued on with picking brackets and entered online contests (ESPN, Yahoo, and this year Facebook/CBS Sports). It's fun and it's also a good way to keep up with friends as well.

This year is no exception. I have been breaking down the bracket ever since they came out yesterday (Sunday). It is has been tough and I think it'll be an interesting tournament. Even though it's Monday, I'm ready to go ahead with my consensus Final Four and my consensus National Champion. When I say consensus, I mean that the bracket that I'm rooting for overall will have this on it. So here is my Final Four: Kansas, UCLA, Memphis, Tennessee. And for national champion: Tennessee. Yes I know I'm a homer but I do feel that this team this year has what it takes to win the whole thing and so that's what I'm going with.

Good luck to everyone filling out brackets!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Adding to Your Vocabulary and A Great Highlight

For those of you who haven't seen this highlight, it's really great. Plus, you can add to your vocabulary. The word to learn is alacrity: cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Death and the Young Athlete

I'm sure many of you have heard the story now about Jamiel Shaw, Jr., the high school football player from L.A. who was gunned down on March 2 as a random act of gang violence on his way home. The story was tragic not only in the sense that a young man of only 17 years old was killed but that also his mother was in the army serving in Iraq when it happened.

Stories like this crush me. I did not know Jamiel or "Jas" as he was known to his friends. I never met him. But I remember what it was like to be in high school. I remember what it was like to be around the athletes. I wasn't blessed with the great athletic ability that some of the people I was friends with. But I understood what it took to be successful. You had to work at it. In a young athlete, there is so much promise and potential and success all rolled into one. When I looked at some of my classmates, I could see their ability and also their potential. Whether they took advantage of it was up to them but it was there.

I'm sure that Jamiel was the type of player that had potential. The kind of player that was looked at by college scouts and was going to be one of the a factor on any team. But it is something that we'll never get to find out.

My hope and prayer is that Jamiel followed Jesus. I don't know if he did or not. My prayers are also with his family and friends as they deal with this tragedy. It once again reminds us how life is fragile, that no matter how invincible we may seem to be, how young we may be, we are all going to die someday. At least there is comfort in the One who has overcome death and brought Life to those who follow Him.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Retirement of Brett Favre and the End of an Era

Today I heard the news that Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre is retiring after 17 seasons of playing pro football. I must admit, the first thought was shock. This was especially after the season that he just completed in leading his team to the NFC Championship game. Now that the shock has kind of worn off, there is a bittersweetness that remains. I will explain what I mean by that.

I have grown up watching Brett Favre play football. I was 11 when he entered the NFL and 12 when he became the starter for the Packers back in 1992. So roughly from the time I was in middle school until now, I've watched Brett Favre play football. And he has been one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch. On the field, he always played like he was just out with the guys having fun. And it showed with some of the kind of plays he made or tried to make. He played with a passion and an intensity that I've seen in few players.

The best picture I think there is of Favre is the notion (used both positively and negatively) of him as the "gunslinger". He was the type of quarterback that would throw caution to the wind and would keep firing regardless if had thrown 4 touchdowns or 4 interceptions. He put his team on his shoulders and win or lose would do whatever it took to try and get his team to victory.

It is an end of an era in several ways. One is he represents one of the last quarterbacks I watched growing up as a kid. Now I'm at that age where QBs are either a few years older than me, my age or younger than me. That is a weird feeling. Two, he was with one team his whole career. That is a rarity in sports today.

I think the term legend gets thrown around too much sometimes. But I think it's appropriate with Favre. He was a tremendous player who made an impact on the sport and will I think be considered one of the all time greats. He's a hall of famer in my book for sure.