Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reflections on Phil Jackson and Christmas Games

I thought it was rather interesting when I heard the latest comments from Phil Jackson, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.  He was addressing the media this week about playing on Christmas Day.  He starts out rather innocently by saying "It used to be two teams.  It used to be Phoenix and L.A. and New York and Boston or New York and Philly or somebody on the East coast. Now I see that they have like six games on Christmas."  (it's actually five games this year)

He then goes onto say this:  "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day.  Soccer teams don't play this time of year, they take a break.  I don't understand it.  When I was in the CBA, we had a commissioner who had a Christmas Eve game.  I had to call him up and say that's the holy time. ... You just have to keep reminding them that this is a special day."

The one quote that actually stood out was the following:  "It's like Christian holidays don't mean anything to them anymore.  We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It's really weird."  This stood out for several reasons.  One, this comes from a man who follows Zen Buddhism.  Two, in the article, it mentions that he is the son of a minister (which I didn't know).

My thoughts on this:  I don't necessarily have a problem with what he's saying per se.  Growing up there was really only one NBA Christmas Day game.  It was special.  Now it's almost like any other slate of games for a day/night.  There are actually more than double the games on Christmas Day than Thanksgiving Day (only two games).  There are more people who will be working on Christmas than Thanksgiving this year in several NBA cities.

As a follower of Jesus, I am glad for Christmas.  It is a reminder of the birth of Christ.  We should not forget that importance.  Even more so, we should not forget the importance of this death and resurrection.  For those who are working on Christmas Day, including players, coaches, staff, arena workers, I hope that in the midst of working that the are reminded of for lack of a better phrase "The Reason for the Season".  And I would love for Phil Jackson to not just recognize the time of the year but to also recognize Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back at LP Field after a Hiatus....Tennessee Titans Game in Review

I'm back after a short hiatus and the first entry back talks about a return from another hiatus....attending a Tennessee Titans game.  I was at the Titans/Texans game on Sunday.  I went with my girlfriend Casey and it was my first Titans game I've attended since December 2007.

It was cold game but not too bad.  Our seats were in the lower level in the north end zone right next to the Titans tunnel.  The sun was shining on us for pregame through essentially the first half which made it feel kinda warm.  The sun kind of hid behind the stadium for the second half and it cooled down.

The Titans, who had been cooled down for weeks, finally warmed up and essentially laid the smackdown against the Texans.  They jumped up early on the Texans in the first quarter and rolled to a victory 31-17.  Here were some observations from me:

*I liked the aggressive nature by the team.  They went for it on 4th down twice and converted both times.  They probably should have done that the week before but at least they did it this week.
*I didn't notice it was Vince Young on the sidelines until he was leaving.  I saw a guy jogging to the tunnel and he waived.  While he was doing this I turned to Casey and said "I think that's Vince Young."
*All the scoring except for the field goal at the end of the 1st half was on the other end of the field.  I was disappointed that the refs called an offsides on the Titans negating a Pick 6 where McCourty ran towards our end.

After this win, the Titans are 5-1 in games I attend (the lone loss was in a preseason game).  It's a slim chance that they can make the playoffs but with the way this season is going I wouldn't be too shocked.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reflections on Steve Johnson & His Tweet to God

Sometimes there are stories in sports that are just ripe for talking about.  This happened to be one of them.  Steve Johnson (or Stevie Johnson as he's also known) is a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills.  He's having a breakout season in his third year in the league.  He has 9 touchdowns already and is on pace for a 1,000 yard receiving season.  He helped the Bills in a comeback win against the Bengals a couple of weeks ago.

Last Sunday he didn't have such a great game.  He dropped several passes including one in overtime that would've won the game for the Bills.  Instead the Steelers went on to win on a field goal.  After the game, Johnson talked with the media and shared about how he won't forget about that dropped pass.  You could tell he was really taking it hard.  I felt bad for him.

A few hours later, on his twitter account was this tweet: 

His tweet was addressed to God.  When I first heard about this I was like really?  It came across initially as he was blaming God for dropping those passes.  Now prior to Sunday, I knew a little about him and it seemed like he had faith in God.  So when I saw that tweet I was like huh?

Have there been times in my life when I've questioned God?  Yes but I usually kept that between the Father and me.  I never really expressed it aloud, and I didn't tweet about it.  There have been times I've been frustrated with God.  So in that sense I understand some where Johnson was coming from.  Would I have sent that tweet if I was in his shoes?  Probably not.  I might have typed it out but I don't think I would've hit the send button.

Do I think he has a legit faith?  Yeah I think so.  I would hope this has been a learning experience for him.  I think I've learned from it.  It's a reminder that God allows us to throw up questions to Him.  He may not give us the answer at the time but He does answer.  He has a plan and purpose for all of us.

We have a sphere of influence with which God allows us to express our faith and witness for Him.  We are to take the opportunities God provides whether good or bad and use them for His glory and purpose.

(The next day after his tweet to God, Johnson responded by saying this: 
I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!
And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!
So Before Yall..well I'm pretty sure you've awready judged me. I hope you guys look n the mirror. I dnt blame u 4 being mad @ my gm I WAS 2!
Spoke To Friends Fam Teammates and Most Importantly I Spoke With My Wife. I Honestly Believe Evrything Happens For A Reason! Everything!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Random Sports Reflections

Some quick hit reflections:

*I'm happy to hear that Michael Vick has really turned his life around.  I talked last time about forgiveness when it comes to Randy Moss.  It could definitely apply to Michael Vick as well, maybe even more so.  What Vick did with the dogfighting was wrong and he was punished for it.  The fact that he has shown contrition and has turned things around is good to hear.  I hope that he continues on this path and that it continues to be a good story.

*What happened with Vince Young yesterday was sad to hear.  I know there are both sides to a story and that probably we won't know the whole thing.  But there are certain things that have to be taken away from it.  1) No matter how frustrated you get, you don't storm out of a meeting with your boss.  2) You don't cuss out under your breath at your boss when he's in the room during a meeting.  3) If your job is to address people after an event, you don't ignore those people when things don't go your way.

I like Vince Young.  But I know that one has to be responsible for their actions whether it be standing up and taking responsibility when an incident happens or being apologetic when you don't react appropriately.  I keep thinking Vince will reach that level of maturity that comes from experience.  But it hasn't happened yet.  I'm thinking at this point, he might need a change of scenery to get that maturity.  The sad thing is that it detracts from a season where the Titans are still right in it.  Hopefully, they'll turn it around and make a run for a deep playoff push.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How Many Times Must I Forgive....Randy Moss?

To preface this entry let me say that I'm a huge Titans fan, have been for a very long time.

When news about Randy Moss being released popped up on Monday, I was shocked.  He had just been traded to Minnesota from New England four games ago and for the most part was producing.  It was official on Tuesday and he was on the waiver wire for about 24 hours.  He was promptly picked up by Tennessee who was 22nd of 31 teams to be able to pick him up.  They were also the only team to put in a waiver.

Randy Moss is without a doubt a talented WR.  Some experts say that he has a genius football IQ.  He is loved by his teammates but not so much by coaches, management and the media.  In his early years, he got in trouble with the law but has in recent years stayed out of trouble in that sense.  He is on his third team this season.

I've had friends comment on my facebook or tweet to me their concerns about picking up Moss.  One even laughed and said "Good luck with that."  I've thought about it and several thoughts come to mind.  First, forgiveness.  He talked himself out of New England because the Patriots weren't willing to commit to a new, huge contract (aside from Brady is typical) and he was upset about it.  He gets traded to a Vikings team that wasn't doing well, had a head coach that was trying to keep things afloat and a QB that had controversy surrounding him. It was a bad situation and it kind of boiled over and it got to the point where Vikings HC Brad Childress couldn't handle it and cut him without consulting anyone.

Where does forgiveness come in?  Moss has made mistakes.  He is a good player but he has made mistakes.  At what point do you quit forgiving him?  I'm reminded of the time where Peter asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive when someone sinned against him and threw out seven times.  Jesus responded "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."  (Matthew 18:22)  Those who are followers of Jesus are called to forgive again and again so that we lose count.  Is it easy to forgive?  No it's not but it's something believers are called to do.

I personally don't know Randy Moss.  I would probably say I'm like 20 something degrees of separation from him (random number, I don't know it might be more or less).  But what I do know is he is human just like me.  He has a sinful nature just like me.  He makes mistakes just like me.  And I hope that he knows that he is forgiven just like me by Jesus Christ.

Second, I hope this story has a good ending.  I would love to see him come to the Titans and play well (and along with that the Titans go to the Super Bowl and win).  More importantly, I'd hope that he comes to Nashville and finds a home and people to be supportive and show the love of Jesus to Him.  I hope that if he doesn't have that relationship with Christ that he starts that relationship.  And if he does have one, I hope that it is strengthened.

Too often it's easy to dismiss or laugh about an athlete and one who's gotten himself (or herself) in trouble.  It's another to forgive, especially one who has needed forgiveness multiple times.  I'm not perfect but I'm striving to be more like Jesus, this includes forgiving others....including Randy Moss

Monday, October 18, 2010

Random Sports Reflections

It has been awhile since my last post but there hasn't been anything pressing so it's always good to throw up a few random reflections in bullet style points.

*A friend of mine had a tweet about the possibility of college football being an idol.  Now I know where my friend is coming from.  I know him from college and I'd consider him a good friend and he's a strong believer (and also a youth pastor which means he has a huge calling in my book) so I know he's not like sports is evil.  Though there are some people that do have that feeling.  To them I would say this.  Sports is not evil.  It is like anything.  It is good and honoring to God....if it is in the proper relationship to Him.  If sports is put above God, then yes it is an idol.  However, anything can be put above God and hence become an idol.  Food, friends, one's spouse, anything can become idol.  But those things in an of themselves aren't bad.  God created those things to be enjoyed in the proper place.  And I feel that sports is one of those things.  Do some people make sports their idol...yes.  But one should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Sports can be an instrument for God to be glorified.  It's about keeping it in the proper perspective.

*I thought it was really cool (though I don't like Texas) the celebration the Rangers had in their locker room following their ALDS series victory.  They celebrated with ginger ale, because they wanted to include OF Josh Hamilton in the celebration.  Hamilton, a follower of Jesus and a recovering alcoholic, skipped the AL West clinching win celebration because they used champagne because he didn't want to be tempted to drink.  This time his teammates used ginger ale.  I respect Hamilton because he's someone who has made mistakes, owned up to those mistakes and continues to move forward and be honest about his faith and his struggles.  That is something that should be an encouragement to all believers as we struggle to live out our faith on a daily basis.

*Speaking of baseball, all the teams I rooted for in the Division series lost....which means I'm stuck with four teams that I'm not really fans of (or don't like at all).  I'm pulling for whoever wins in the National League.

*Hockey season has started as well and the Predators are 3-0-1 in their first 4 games...not bad at all :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fan Appreciation Night 2010....Ninth Royals Game of 2010

Saturday night was the ninth Royals game and the last one of the year that I attended.  I went along with my friends Kyle, Lane and Tyler.  It has been a tradition to go to Fan Appreciation Night so this year was no exception.  It involves giveaways, raffles and other stuff like that.  Plus the opponent was the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays who were fighting for first place in the AL East.  So it made for a good night.

The giveaway at the gate was a Royals Snuggie or a "Sluggie".  Got to enjoy a free Snuggie.  Throughout the night they were giving away prizes with those who have the ticket drawn.  They also had raffle tickets they were selling to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House, those who won got the jerseys off the players' back.  Neither of those did I win.  I did win something and there was a interesting story behind it.  So normally when I go to the game I buy a program.  This time was no exception.  After I got past the gate and picked up my snuggie I went by a stand to pick up a program.  The lady standing there looked at me and said "You know what?  I'm going to give you the winning program".  In every program there is a page called the "Lucky Page Giveaway".  If there is an autograph on the page, you win a prize.  So when I heard that I was kinda like I didn't know what she meant so she told me what she meant.  She did this while reaching underneath the stand and pulling a program out from underneath.  When I figured it out I was thinking "There's no way she's doing that."  So after I found my seat and got food and ate, I pulled out the program and looked at the page.  Sure enough, there was an autograph of Josh Fields (3rd Baseman) on the page.  So I went to Guest Services to pick up what I won.  I ended up with $20 worth of gift certificates at a local sub shop.  So that was cool.

The game itself wasn't too good.  The Royals put up 8 hits and had a couple more runners on top of that.  Yet....they did not score a run.  The Royals just couldn't put up runs.  The Rays got 4 runs and that was more than enough.  The Rays did set a Major League record for the most pitchers used in a 9 inning game for a shutout with 8 pitchers.  One of those was ace starting pitcher David Price, Tennessee native, who threw an inning in relief.  So in the end the Royals lost 4-0.

At the end of the 2010 season the Royals finished 4-5 in games I attended (3-1 in games that i wore the powder blue jersey, 1-0 in the royal blue jersey) and for teams i rooted for 6-3.  Hopefully next season will be better for both the Royals and the Mariners.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yes, God Does Love (fill in the blank city)

This post has been sitting in my head for a while but I finally feel like I've got the momentum to actually write it.  Bill Simmons, columnist for and nicknamed "The Sports Guy", in the past several months has talked about different cities who have suffered losing teams and championships by saying that "God hates" that city.  An example would be Cleveland.  In an September 9th article in essence previewing the NFL season he said "The Browns finished 2009 strong and reek of sleeper potential, but we're eliminating them because God hates Cleveland."  He has also mentioned this about Seattle, (a city near and dear to my heart).

Now granted I know he is a columnist and sometimes columnists say things for show or to get reactions from readers.  But it does get one to think.  Does God really hate a city?  Because a city hasn't won a championship in 20, 30 or 50 or more years, does that mean God doesn't care about that city?

People who know me know I love sports.  I love the competition and I love to win.  I root on teams and hope they win.  But I also understand it's not the end of the world if my team loses.  I understand in perspective that it is just a game and there are bigger things out there.

But back to the question at hand, does God hate Cleveland or does God hate Seattle?  My answer is no.  God does not hate Cleveland or Seattle or New York or any city.  In fact God loves those cities.  I lived in Seattle for three years and I can attest that God loves that city.  You can see God's creation as you travel around the city.  It is simply awe inspiring.  But more importantly, God loves the people in the city.  How do I know this?  Because he sent Jesus his son to die for the people of Cleveland, Seattle, Boston, Kansas City and around the world.

I'm reminded of the story in the book of Jonah.  God tells Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh to warn the people.  Why?  Because God wanted the people to repent.  Even though they were not Israelites, God loved them and wanted them to turn to Him.  And guess what?  Jonah went (reluctantly) and they did repent.  God loved the city of Nineveh and the people in it.

So yes, God loves (fill in the blank city).  And what's more amazing?  He loves you and me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Sports Reflections

It was about time for another post and there are several things rummaging in my head so I figured why not get them down in a random post.

*This week Reggie Bush returned his Heisman Trophy that he won back in 2005.  This was the first time this had happened and he said "I just felt like it was the best thing to do, the most respectful thing to do because obviously I do respect the Heisman. I do respect all the things it stands for."  It stems from the controversy of his family receiving benefits while he was at USC.  He says that him returning the trophy is not an admission of guilt.  Personally I feel conflicted.  On the one hand, if he was innocent and everything then there's no reason to give up the trophy.  OJ Simpson never had to give up his trophy and look at the controversy he caused.  On the other hand, he shouldn't have the trophy to begin with (I would have said that back in 2005, Vince Young should have won it).  Regardless, the Heisman people now say that it is vacant.  However, just like the NCAA may take away tournaments and wins from people, we all know that Reggie Bush won the Heisman in 2005.  It seems Bush has learned his lesson and is trying to help youngsters not fall into the "alleged" trap that he and his family fell into.

*The NFL season is underway and I'm super excited.  Both the Titans and Seahawks won their season openers, which was the first time since 2007 (my last fall in Seattle).  Given how the two teams were last season, I'm cautiously optimistic they could do well and maybe even make the playoffs this year (again first time since 2007 both teams make the playoffs).

*I'm disappointed in how the baseball season turned out with the Royals and Mariners pretty much laying over and playing dead most of the year.  It is cool that the Cincinnati Reds are doing well and they're my team to root for come the playoffs.  As long as the Yankees don't win, I'll be happy.

Well that's all that's been rattling in my head.  It's great that it's fall with football here.  It's good times indeed.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sports Analogy: Training Camp

It has been a long time since I had a sports analogy but one recently popped into my head and it was appropriate time and season for it.  Right now, I'm starting what will be a year long internship (broken up into two semesters) in which I will (hopefully) finish my Master's of Divinity at Midwestern Seminary.  In one sense, it will be a daunting task but in another sense it will be good.

I was mulling over this past weekend what I needed to do in the next nine months to get to graduation.  Like I said earlier looking at it initially it seems rather daunting, this internship is what's riding on me getting my degree in May.  But I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I'm given just today and I have to take it one day at a time.  It is very much like training camp (which is appropriate given the time of year for football).  Players and coaches have a goal of winning the Super Bowl.  And in July and August, that does seem like a pretty daunting task.  But they take each day of training camp to prepare for the season.  They take it one day at a time.  Then when the season comes, they focus on the next game at hand.  Soon enough, they are at the end of the season and are holding up the championship trophy.  They didn't skip all the way to the end.  They took it one game at a time, one day at a time.

Too often we (myself included) get caught up and worried about how we're going to accomplish certain goals.  We need to be reminded by the Father that all we're given is today.  We need to be diligent at doing the work for today and the long term goals will be taken care of as we reach the designated time frame for each of them.  We all go through seasons of life where we are either to begin a new season, in the middle of a season or coming to the end.  Whatever season you're in, focus on the task at hand and what God has given you to do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hanging out at the New Arrowhead....Kansas City Chiefs Preseason Game in Review

Everyone who knows me knows how much of a football fan I am.  It is my favorite sport.  So anytime I can go to a football game is a good time.  And living in Kansas City for three years I've lived in a town with a pro football team (the Chiefs).  When it came to my last year in KC (hopefully as I'll graduate from seminary in May and be looking for a job) I figured I should try and go to a Chiefs game.  So I began to scour around looking for tickets.  Sure enough, while I was on eBay, I found some cheap tickets.  And when I say cheap, I just mean in price because the seats themselves were sweet.  Lower level, near the end zone, 10 rows from the field.  I ended up getting 4 tickets (plus shipping) for less than just purchasing one of them at face value.  It was a sweet deal indeed.  So this past Friday, I along with my friends Josh, Ryan and Andrea went to see the Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles.  Here are some observations from the night:

*Traffic to the stadium is bad.  Granted it was Friday and that included rush hour plus a wreck on one of the interstates plus construction but it was ugh.  I thought traffic to a Royals game was bad, this was worse.  It doesn't help that it's out on the edge of the city so coming from the Northland it takes about 20 minutes on a good day, it took about double that night.

*Parking is also bad.  One of my chief complaints about that complex is that it's the only place to park.  You pretty much are stuck with parking there cause there are no other options.  We sprung to get reserved parking so we got closer to the stadium but still, it is kinda ridiculous.

*Because of traffic and such, pretty much missed the pregame stuff.  We got there right as the National Anthem was being sung and got to our seats right after the opening kickoff.  Other than that, it wasn't too hard finding out seats.  To get to our seats, we walked through the new Chiefs Hall of Honor, pretty cool stuff.  I would have loved to have spent more time around it but the game was going and didn't want to miss it.

*The view from our seats was great.  We were in the north end of the stadium and had great line of sight for most everything (except when the teams were on the other far end of the field).  Unfortunately, nearly all the scoring except a 4th qtr FG by the Chiefs' Ryan Succop took place at the other end.

*It was funny how after a few bad plays to start out, the Chiefs fans booed the team.  That was a first.  Then again, my experience at stadiums had typically been with teams who were at least decent if not really good.  When the Chiefs did get going and took the lead, then the crowd got into the game.

*Arrowhead Stadium, newly renovated, looked pretty cool.  It was one of those stadiums I saw on TV growing up and looked really good, especially with all the work they done to it.  The famed noise level....didn't really notice it.  Maybe because it was a preseason game and the team is still not at tip top shape but it wasn't deafining.  And I've been to preseason games where it's been louder.  To this day, I will still say the loudest stadium is Qwest Field in Seattle.

*The game itself was pretty good.  The 3rd preseason game is the closest to a regular season game because it's the game the starters play the longest.  It was funny but both sides played their starters through 3 whole quarters, rare in the NFL (they usually only play a half maybe a few plays into the 3rd quarter).  The Chiefs, after being down 10-0 rallied and even took the lead and held it with about 2:00 minutes to go 17-13.  Then then proceeded to give up a touchdown with about :25 seconds left and wound up losing 20-17.

This was my 9th NFL game.  I've now been to 4 preseason games, 4 regular season games and 1 postseason game.  It was fun times and I'm excited that it's football season again!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Predictions for the 2010 NFL Season

Football season is rapidly approaching and with that is the time of the year for predictions.  So, in the spirit of usually being wrong at the end of the season, here are my picks for this upcoming season:

NFC East:
NY Giants

NFC North:
Green Bay

NFC South:
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

NFC West:
San Francisco
St. Louis

Wild Card: Minnesota, Atlanta

AFC East:
New England
NY Jets

AFC North:

AFC South:

AFC West:
Kansas City
San Diego

Wild Card:  Tennessee, Houston

Super Bowl:  Tennessee over Green Bay

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reflections on the Retirement of Glen Coffee

Last week I (along with many other football fans) were shocked by the announcement that Glen Coffee, RB for the San Francisco 49ers announced his retirement.  A lot of shock was because he was a 3rd round pick last year out of Alabama and was expected to continue in his role as backup/3rd down back to starter Frank Gore.  People speculated as to why he retired (didn't get along with how HC Mike Singletary ran training camp was one main one.  When he finally answered question, Glen simply said that he felt that it was time to go and that in part it was because of his faith and trust in God that he decided to walk away.  In an interview with a sports writer for the Sacramento Bee, Glen mentioned how he came to faith in Christ while at Alabama and that he shouldn't have entered the draft because his heart wasn't in it.  When asked why he couldn't reconcile his faith and football, Glen responded:  "His [God's] will, I felt, wasn't football. I felt like I forced football because everyone expected me to play football. He told me a long time ago to walk away from the game."  Glen is heading back to Alabama to finish his bachelor's degree then pursue a master's degree.

This story is similar to one back in January that I blogged about.  There, a prospect for the Oakland A's, retired to pursue a calling as a priest.  The two stories are similar in that both were young and felt God's call into ministry.  The difference being Glen was already in the highest level and was getting snaps and playing time while the baseball prospect may or may not have made it to the highest level.

While there are those who have played in the NFL while being bold in the faith, Glen Coffee didn't feel that was God's calling in his life.  The important thing is to follow God's will.  I understand in some way how Glen feels.  Pursuing God's calling in your life is hard but in the end is the most rewarding.  I wish him nothing but the best in the weeks, months and years ahead.

(Here's a link to the interview)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday & The Race to the End of the Race: Eighth Royals Game of 2010 in Review

Yesterday I went to my eighth Royals game of the year.  My friend Lane and I took advantage of another deal on tickets and got some good seats cheap (Field Box, third base side).  It was another T-Shirt Tuesday which meant another free T-Shirt.  Aside from a fitted hat, all my Royals gear has been free (I got at games or during Royals chapel).  Can't go wrong with that at all.

The funny part about this game was this:  So Lane and I got to the stadium just as the gates opened.  We got our T-Shirts and went to our seats.  We sat down and were looking around.  We see this guy with a headset on and a Royals polo shirt walk over and ask us if we'd be interested in doing one of the games between innings.  We were like sure.  He said it was the Inflatable Slugggurrr race.  Basically it's these blow up suits that look like the mascot Slugggurrr and people are to run two laps out at the Little K (small ballpark for kids) in the suits.  He asked us to stand up to check our heights and he told Lane "Yeah you're great." and he looked at me "You'll be okay" because the preferred height for this was 5'5" to 5'10" (and I'm 6').  So he had us sign a waiver and said meet over by the Little K in the middle of the 2nd inning.

Middle of the 2nd inning we walk over and meet up with the guy.  He has us go onto the field of the Little K and look into a camera there and wave to the camera so they could tape us and the fans could see our faces since we'd be in the suits during the event.  At about the end of the 3rd, they strapped out feet into the suits put a thing on our backs like a backpack and started getting us into the suits and inflated them.  I was in the "Royal blue" Slugggurrr while Lane was in the "Powder blue" Slugggurrr (there usually is a 3rd suit but it's out of commission right now).  The middle of the 4th was when the race took place.  The real Slugggurrr was there along with Tim, the "host" and also several members of the K Crew (who help with giveaways and entertainment stuff).  He tells us beforehand to "run as hard as we can and have a great race".  When the time comes it's a countdown and then we're off.  I start slow the first lap mainly because I'm having to look down a little because the line of sight is lower than I am and I was still trying to get a feel for the suit.  I round the cone that I started from to complete the first lap and I started to pick up speed.  When I rounded the cone to start the home stretch I just ran as hard as I could in that suit.  When I got to the end I was a little tired but I found out I won the race.  I could look out and see Slugggurrr standing in front of me waiving the flag and then he bopped me in the head gently with it.  They then got us out of the suits and I was handed an envelope for winning and Lane for runner-up.  I got back to my seat and opened up the envelope.  It had a couple of coupons for KC Masterpiece products and a $25 dollar gift card from Hy-Vee.  Not bad at all. (The race to the end of the race in the title is a reference to Homestar Runner in case you didn't catch it)

The game itself was pretty good.  Zack Grienke pitching is always a good night and he got a quality start.  It was another low scoring game but two solo home runs made the difference.  Soria came in for the save and it was good times.  Royals end up winning the game 2-1.  The other highlight was they were playing Cleveland which meant Trevor Crowe was playing, our favorite Cleveland Indian player.  He did get a double in the game so that was cool.

Overall the Royals are now 4-4 in games I've been to (3-0 when I wear the powder blue jersey, last night wore the royal blue jersey so it's 1-0) and for teams I've rooted for the record is 6-2.  Good times abound!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reflecting on The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels

People who know me know that I grew up a professional wrestling fan and to some extend I still am today, though I'll watch old matches more than I'll watch new ones.  One of my favorites to watch growing up was "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels.  He wasn't a big guy or really muscular, but he above and beyond the call of duty in putting on a show for all the fans in the arena and watching on TV.  He is a guy who I respected as a wrestler and have come to respect even more so as a person.

For those that don't know his story, to try and sum it up would be difficult.  But he was someone who had achieved a lot of success but was feeling empty, he tried to fill that emptiness with drugs, with fame, and it didn't work.  On the outside he was successful but on the inside he was a wreck.  He had an injury to his back that forced him out of wrestling in 1998.  That was the beginning of a rough time in his life but it was also the time God used to work in his life.  He got married, started a family but things weren't clicking in his life fully.  His wife got back into church and invited him to go.  He did and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and from that accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and has been following him ever since.

From that point on, there was a change in his life.  He had turned his life over to the Lord, began making amends with friendships and relationships that had been hurt by his previously destructive behavior, got involved in his local church leading bible studies and would share his faith often.  He got back into wrestling in 2002 after his back had healed up and continued to wrestle until his retirement after Wrestlemania 26 this past March.

He is someone who is an encouragement of the work of Christ in someone's life and the impact that has.  Shawn is quick to point to his faith in interviews even to this day.  This week Bill Simmons, writer and podcaster, interviewed Shawn and during the interview there were several times Shawn referenced his faith and the importance that it has in this life (you can click on this link to check out that interview).  Also, if you ever get the chance watch the DVD "Heartbreak & Triumph:  The Shawn Michaels Story".  It is produced by WWE and tells the story of Shawn's life and career through 2006.  It talks about the highs and lows of Shawn's life and does share a little bit of his testimony of his conversion.

It's always good to point out those who are active and sharing their faith and using the platforms God has given them to do this.  Kudos to Shawn and hope that God continues to use him in such a manner.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Supporting a Good Cause through Fantasy Football

I came across this through Twitter and wanted to pass it along.  Everyone that knows me knows I love football and I'm excited about the upcoming season.  I also enjoy being involved in fantasy football, and I'm not alone.  There are millions across the country that are signing up for leagues even as we speak.  It's a great way to supplement watching the games, have bragging rights and enjoy winning a championship every now and then.

It is also a means by which people can help support a good cause.  This last week Alexandra Schlereth, actress and daughter of current ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL great Mark Schlereth set out a twitter message promoting two openings in a fantasy football league that she and her dad participate in.  The way these two spots were to be filled were by people donating $20 to Generosity Water.  Generosity Water is a non-profit organization that is "committed to ending the clean water crisis" (from their twitter page).  Their mission is:  "Dedicated to ending the clean water crisis in developing countries, one community at a time. Through innovative awareness campaigns, strategic implementation and in depth accountability, we hope to inspire people to think globally and live generously." (from their website)  For each $20 dollar donation, there was one entry put in and at the end of the week Alexandra drew two names and those two are invited to play in their league.  Overall, there was nearly $800 dollars raised.

It's great to hear stories like this.  God can use fantasy football to help raise money to help out those in need.  What passions has God given you that you can use to help out those in need and to share the Gospel with others?

(If you want to donate to Generosity Water, you can go to their website)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reflections on Amare Stoudemire

Last week there was an interesting article on (the link to the article is right here).  In the article, Amare Stoudemire, PF formerly of the Phoenix Suns and now of the New York Knicks, was interviewed about his visit to Israel and his search for his Jewish roots.  His mother side of the family is Jewish and he is tracing his roots back on her side of the family to confirm this.

The interesting part of this article was a quote that Stoudemire said.  When talking about his upbringing, he said this:  "I grew up in a very spiritual home. It's not about religion, it's about spirituality for me."  A very interesting quote, and I would venture to say quite common in this postmodern society we live in.  Personally I think Amare is half right.  It's not about religion.  However, where I would disagree is what it's about.  It's about relationship.  In both the Old and New Testament, God has (and still does) wanted relationship between people and Himself.  We see this throughout the Old Testament reflected in the relationship between God and the Israelites.  We see this in the New Testament through Jesus Christ, who lived on this Earth and reflected the relationship God wants with His people and then died on the cross so that we can be able to have that relationship again without sin blocking our access.

I will say that I'm encouraged that Amare is looking.  I hope that while he is looking, the Holy Spirit works on his heart and shows him that the Messiah has already come and that it can be more than just spirituality, but a relationship between him and the Father, through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Retro Feeling: Seventh Royals Game in 2010 in Review

Yesterday I went to my seventh Royals game of the year. It was the first one in nearly two months (last one I went to was early June). Worked out to get cheap tickets and was in the city so away I went. It was free hat giveaway, they gave away a Kansas City Monarchs hat, in honor of Negro Leagues Celebration they do every year. The Royals were facing the Baltimore Orioles and both teams wore Negro League jerseys.

The game was a quick one (a little over two hours) and Zack Grienke got the win. The highlight was the 2 run homer by Billy Butler in the bottom of the 8th to allow the Royals to take the lead.

One other thing that stood out was the amount of people that walked up and down the aisles during the innings. In Seattle, the ushers in the lower levels wouldn't allow people to go while an at-bat was going on. In KC, they allow it. It gets kind of annoying when people are walking up and down and blocking the view of the game. My friend Kyle and I started joking about it after awhile and added that to the list of things he's going to teach on when he does his Baseball 101 class someday.

Overall the Royals are 3-4 in games I've been to, (all three games they've won I wore my Billy Butler jersey) and for teams I've rooted for the record is 5-2. I'm hoping to make it to a few more games before the season is done but we'll see.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reflections on "The Decision"

It has been several days since "The Decision" and I went back and forth about whether to write about it. There have been probably millions of people who have weighed in on it.

Let me preface by saying that I don't enjoy the NBA like I used to. One of the main reasons why I don't can be traced back to the team that now resides in Oklahoma City. David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, allowed the owner of the team to pull out of Seattle, an owner who never had any intention of staying and pretty much let a city get hung out to dry. From that point on, my respect for the NBA dropped tremendously. I will still watch from time to time but I don't enjoy watching it like I used to.

Fast forward to Thursday, LeBron James has a one hour televised event to decide where he is going. Speculation abounds as to where he was going. There was as much (if not more spectacle) than there should have been for someone deciding where they were going to sign. In the end, he decided to leave Cleveland and go to Miami.

There's so much that can be said but I'll just focus on two. The first is the allowance of an hour long special in the first place. I understand why ESPN did it (for the ratings) but really there was no need for it. In a lot of ways, it was just feeding the ego of someone who was seeking attention and approval. LeBron is the type of person who has been (and continues) to try and seek approval. He's not the type of player it seems that is competitive and wants to win and strives in that regard, he just wants people to like him and wants attention. That's not in and of itself a bad thing but when that's all you look out for, then that can be a problem.

The second was lack of foresight that he had with his decision. I think the nature of the whole thing lead to the backlash that is now present throughout not just Ohio but around the country. There are millions of people that really don't like him right now. I think there would have been people regardless who wouldn't have liked that decision. But it could have handled better. Forget the hour long special, have a press conference in Cleveland. Answer the tough questions. And above all else, go out on a high note. If that had happened, there probably wouldn't have been as much backlash as there is.

Kevin Durant, up and coming superstar, announced he was re-signing with (that team) in a twitter message. No circus, no hour long tv special. LeBron, take note and next time handle it a little better.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup and A Lesson in Humility

Like millions upon millions (or maybe even more than that), I have been watching the World Cup finals. Like I said in my last post, I'm not as knowledgeable with soccer (or football) as some of my friends are. But even I and my limited knowledge have watched games where there have been a lot of blown calls. Goals that weren't allowed that should have been, goals that were allowed that should not have been, among other various and sundry calls that were not good. Overall, it has not been a good World Cup in that regard.

FIFA, the governing body of soccer and who runs the World Cup, has been questioned again and again about these blown calls and the work of the officials throughout the tournament. Time and time again, they would reply that the officials do not have to explain themselves nor are they going to seek to improve the game via instant replay or goal line sensors or anything involving technology because it takes away from the human mistakes which makes the game what it is.

I think there are two things with which one can take away from this. One, it is a reminder that we are human and we are not perfect, as if we needed another reminder of this. We all make mistakes, we all mess up. Soccer officials are not different than anybody else and this World Cup has shown that to be the case. However, there needs to be a level of humility in that. We need to own up to when we mess up or make mistakes. I think back to the incident with Jim Joyce, the umpire who made a bad call and cost the Tigers pitcher a perfect game, he admitted he made a mistake and apologized. Fast forward to the Mali referee who made a bad call that cost the U.S. a goal in its game with Slovenia, there was no apology, no recognition of making a bad call, not even an explanation of what the call was that he made. When we mess up, we need to own up to our mistakes. The good thing is as followers of Jesus, when we own up and confess them to God, he will forgive us of them (1 John 1:9).

The second thing to take away from this is that even though we aren't perfect, we should strive for perfection. As followers of Jesus, we have been called to follow after Him and to live right and holy lives, even though we aren't perfect. Having the Holy Spirit in us helps us to do that. We don't take joy in our mistakes nor celebrate them but seek to improve and do better. Just like going to check the replay or the goal line marker to see if it was a goal or not helps to get things right, we as followers of Jesus seek to not just stay where we are but to press on to the mark that Christ has set (Philippians 3:14).

So as the World Cup continues, there will probably be more blown calls just as in any sport. But hopefully there will be improvement. And for followers of Jesus, we should seek to grow and improve in our walk with Him

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reflections on World Cup 2010

One of the major sporting events in the world has begun. It is the World Cup, the major championship for soccer (or football as it is known in the rest of the world). It takes place every four years and involves the 32 top nations in the world that qualify for the tourney.

It is probably the one major sporting event I have little knowledge of personally. I didn't get into soccer until I was in college. I do barely remember when the World Cup was in the U.S. back in 1994 but I didn't really keep up with it. When I was in college, I roomed for a time with a missionary kid (MK) from Nigeria and it was through him (along with other MKs and internationals) that I really learned about soccer and started to take notice of it. I would watch soccer in the afternoons on ESPN when I got back from class.

I still would not say I'm an expert in any sense of the word. I do like watching the games, especially when it's a major event like the World Cup.

This year it is in South Africa, first time the World Cup has been in Africa I do believe. It must be weird to be playing a "summer" event in "winter" (since it's in the southern hemisphere). So far the weather hasn't been much of a factor so we'll see if that continues.

Of course personally, I am rooting for the USA. I would love to see them win. I do root for an international team. I would be rooting for Poland but they didn't qualify. So, I'll be rooting for France. Yes, France. I like their team and have since they won the cup back in 1998.

The World Cup stage is one of the biggest in the world. I hope and pray that those players who are believers will be a good example and will have the opportunity to share their faith to teammates, opponents and to the world.

It's also a great way to pray for countries. When you're watching a match, pray for those countries and for the believers that are in those countries. Who knows, God might lead you to go to one of those countries and share your faith there.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Free Tickets and Bobbleheads: Sixth Royals Game in 2010 in Review

Yesterday, I went to my sixth Royals game of the year and the second one this week. This time, I got a free ticket to the game. My friend Kyle got the tickets from someone at the church where he serves as a youth pastor. So of course, I couldn't turn down free tickets to a Royals game. It also was a free bobblehead night as they were giving away a bobblehead of their former SP and 2 time Cy Young award winner Bret Saberhagen.

The tickets were in the Dugout Plaza which means they were really good seats. They were the closest to home plate I've ever sat at a ball game. So I got a really good view of the action. The other cool thing was it just so happened the section that we were sitting in had several of the players' wives and family. That was pretty cool.

The game itself was a pitcher's duel. The matchup was between Luke Hocheaver and Justin Verlander. Through 6 innings the score was 1-0. The game ended with a 4-2 Tigers win.

The Royals record in games I've been to this year now stands at 2-4 and for the teams I've rooted for 4-2.

Friday, June 4, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday: Fifth Royals Game of 2010 in Review

Finally, here's the review of the fifth Royals game of the year. I and the usual crew (Kyle and Lane) hit the ballpark for T-Shirt Tuesday. They were giving away 25th anniversary shirts of the 1985 championship. We got the usual E-Savers ticket deal so it was cheap tickets FTW (for the win). They were Field Plaza (aka lower level) in the same section a few rows away from where we sat when the Royals played the Mariners.

This time the Royals took on the Anaheim (I refuse to call them LA) Angels. It was a really quick game (just a shade over 2 hours). It saw the first time a replay was used in a game I was at (Matsui hit a ball that was ruled a ground rule double but they had to check to make sure it wasn't a home run, replay upheld the ruling). The Royals came back from being down 2-1 and ended up winning the game 6-3. We even got a free Sonic slush because Jose Guillen hit a home run in the Sonic Slam section in the 8th inning.

In keeping with the wearing the Billy Butler jersey, the Royals are 2-0 in those games. Overall, they are 2-3 in games I've been to. The record for teams I've rooted for is 4-1. Hopefully, they'll continue on an uptick and get closer to .500 by the All-Star break

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Example of Grace on the Baseball Diamond

I was expecting yet again to blog about the Royals/Angels game today but then last night happened with Griffey's retirement and then a few hours later the almost perfect game. It is the talk of baseball after Armando Galarraga came within an out of pitching the 21st perfect game in MLB history and the 3rd one this year. Jason Donald, Cleveland Indians shortstop, hit a grounder that was essentially a bang bang play. The umpire, Jim Joyce, called Donald safe on the field. Millions of replays later showed it to be the wrong call. It cost Galarraga the perfect game but he came back and got the next batter, Trevor Crowe (personal favorite) out and ended the game.

Galarraga through it all didn't get upset or mad at Joyce. In fact, after the game, the pitcher and umpire met and the umpire apologized and they hugged. Too often, we hear of players and managers getting into it with umps, rightly so or not. It's nice to hear of an example of grace shown. It's another reminder that we are human and we make mistakes. In those moments we can choose to show grace and forgiveness. This was a time when someone was wronged and they showed grace. I hope in all the talk about the loss of perfection, that grace will be talked about as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflections on the Retirement of "The Kid"

I was going to write about going to the Royals game on Tuesday with my next post but news that just came over the wire takes precident...

Ken Griffey Jr. has announced his retirement today. It has been rumored for about a month but to be honest it was still a shock. I just heard literally like a few minutes ago so I'm still trying to sort through thoughts and memories.

He was a ballplayer that I grew up with of sorts. He debuted in the majors in 1989, when I was 9 years old, so right in the wheelhouse of memories. He had the hype of being the son of Ken Griffey Sr., who was a good player in his own right. But he lived up to the hype. I remember trying to collect his rookie cards and how some of them were so expensive (I think it was the Upper Deck one that was the most expensive one....I still have those cards somewhere, I'll have to look for them at some point).

I rooted for Griffey even being a boy from Tennessee with no connections (at the time) to Seattle. I latched onto the Mariners for the first time back in 1995 with their crazy run to the playoffs and then beating the Yankees in the 95 Divisional Round. I remember playing the Ken Griffey Jr. MLB game for Super Nintendo as a teen for hours on end.

I was sad when he left Seattle and went to Cincy but I understood because he wanted to be closer to family. I felt bad for him when he had the injuries that cost him in my mind a shot at the home run record. It was cool that when I got to see my first MLB game in St. Louis it was against the Reds in 2002. Unfortunately, Griffey wasn't playing but I saw his team. Then in 2007 while I was living in Seattle, I saw a video tribute that Griffey gave to Edgar Martinez when Martinez was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame. Everyone cheered for him. Later in the season, the Reds came to Safeco and he routinely got standing ovations. I wasn't able to make it to the ballpark but I watched those games on TV. It wasn't until 2008 that I got to see Griffey live and in person. By then, he was with the White Sox. It looked weird seeing him in a White Sox jersey but I was happy to see him playing in person after all those years.

I was really excited when he re-signed with the Mariners last year. I saved up money and ordered a Mariners jersey (because I missed Seattle and wanted a M's jersey) and I got a Griffey one. I wore it proudly when the M's came to KC and the M's were undefeated when I wore the Griffey jersey.

I will remember fondly earlier this year when they were in town. I was standing down by the visitor's dugout watching BP and saw Griffey up close, probably the closest I'd ever seen him. I saw him smiling and taking BP and it reminded me of when I was 15 watching him play on TV.

He is a one of a kind player, a once in a generation player. He will be missed from the game and I hope that whatever the next step is for Him I wish him nothing but the best. He will always be "The Kid".

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Start of a New Era: Fourth Royals Game in 2010 in Review

Yesterday I took in my fourth Royals game of 2010. It was an interesting game to say the least as the Royals took on division rivals the Chicago White Sox. It was the first game for new manager Ned Yost after Trey Hillman was fired on Thursday. Before I go further, I want to say this. I think Trey Hillman is a great guy, I've met him in person and heard him speak. He's a faithful follower of Jesus and I still think he's a good manager. He just didn't get the best situation with having enough talent to compete with his style. I really hope he finds another chance to manage in the big leagues and with a team with the talent to compete.

With a new manager there some new hope. I will say this for about 4 1/3 innings I was pulling for Mark Buehrle because he was pitching a perfect game, then after that was given up I was back to pulling for the Royals. I was there with a group from seminary up in the "cheap seats". One thing you can be sure, if it's a group outing, chances are you're sitting in the "cheap seats". There's really not any bad seats at Kauffman so that's fine. You just have absolutely no chance at a foul ball. I did come close to having a home run ball during batting practice. Kyle, Lane, Andrew and I walked out to the Party Porch while the Sox were taking BP. Just as we get to a spot, the batter hits the ball. Kyle and I are looking at the outfielder who turns his head to look in our direction. It was like "Oh no" as we can't track the ball and all of a sudden there's a "thump" right over our heads, then it bounces down and to the right of where we are. A teenager ended up with the ball. If we had been there probably a minute before, we could've tracked the ball and ended up with it.

The game itself ended up with a win. They scored 5 runs in the 7th inning and batted around the order to get the victory 6-1. It was the first win of the year for the Royals in games I've been to (which means they're 1-3). Though for teams I'm rooting for, I'm 3-1 (I did root for the Mariners in 2 games). I was wearing my Billy Butler powder blue jersey which in the past two years has a winning record for the Royals.

After the game, it was Fireworks Friday so there was a fireworks display that lasted about 10 minutes or so. Overall, great time and a good victory and hopefully the start of something good for the team.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Running Journal for Royals Chapel 3.0

Last Tuesday, Midwestern Seminary hosted it's third (I guess you can say at this point annual) Royals Chapel. This year it was just Trey Hillman, manager of the Royals who was involved as GM Dayton Moore was unable to come due to a scheduling conflict. It was a similar format as in previous years where Dr. Roberts, the president of the seminary, asked Trey questions and did it in a dialogue format.

It started out with a funny quip as Dr. Roberts told Trey that it he was back in the hot seat of Midwestern Seminary to which Trey replied that the seat at the "K" is hot too.

Dr. Roberts asked Trey to give a quick testimony of his background for those who hadn't been to previous chapels. Trey briefly shared his testimony and also shared some new stories. One was that he grew up in a Church of Christ church down in Texas and one time when he was a youth on a Wednesday night he was over at the Baptist church leading worship with his guitar and that his parents, when asked where Trey was by those in the congregation of the Church of Christ church, told them that he was leading worship at the Baptist church. That got a pretty good laugh out of everyone there.

He mentioned that he and his family attend a Baptist church in Liberty Hills, TX where his home is (and where he lives during the offseason). He mentioned how as time went on, he felt more at home in a Baptist church and so that's why he worships at the church he's at now.

Trey then talked about one thing that has been on his heart the last ten years is that he has asked God that he be less judgmental. He mentioned how it's our job as Christians to love people and that he's trying to do a better job of that.

When talking about his job as a manager, he mentioned how he's heard words put together with his name that he couldn't even fathom.

He then talked about his time in Japan as a manager and how he was able to do a lot of mission work with the missionaries there and the great opportunities that came about from that. He said that wherever God puts him, he plans to honor God and be bold in his witness.

He acknowledged he felt the prayers of everyone from the seminary and that he couldn't wait to come back to campus to thank everyone for them.

Dr. Roberts then asked him what his typical day was like. Trey mentioned that he's there at the ballpark 12-15 hours a day. Before he discussed his routine, he said that it's important to surround yourself with people not only who encourage and support you but who you can encourage and support as well. He said that there are 2 types of people, energy givers and energy suckers and he wants to be around energy givers and more importantly around people encouraging with the Holy Spirit.

He then got into the day in the life of a MLB manager. He said he gets to the ballpark and does about 3 to 5 miles on the treadmill. He works out early in order to work out stress. He then spends about 45 minutes to an hour for video review. The early work for the players on a typical day starts at 3:00 and official stretch time starts at 4:15. He said that a lot of it is essentially "hurry up and wait". He will do two press conferences a day. The first one is prior to batting practice while the second one is 8-10 minutes after the game. He said they as managers are required by MLB to be available for those two press conferences. He then talked about meetings with players and he said usually he doesn't meat with the team as a whole prior to a game. It will usually be either with the pitchers or with the position players. He said it could be anywhere from 3 to 7 meetings a day and that "you don't really know what your day is going to be like".

When asked about using Twitter, Trey said that he's not a "twister" or "tweeter" but that he does text. He then mentioned one piece of advice he gives to this 16 and 13 year old kids "Don't text anything that you can't say to someone's face".

He then talked about this new technology he found out about recently. One of his coaches or scouts (don't remember off hand) came into his office and gave him this notebook. In it it had tracked a pitcher's arm slot release. It was color coated and had it from 2008, 2009 and this year. He said he was shocked about all that was involved in it.

Trey then talked about how he likes to have conversations over confrontations and that given how everyone is watching him, in order to speak to a player he has to go 20 feet into a tunnel. Case in point, two years ago during a game he made a joke with the pitching coach Bob McClure and then later took some time to encourage SP Gil Meche as he was coming out of the game. Trey was later accused of picking a fight with the pitching coach and punking out his pitcher. He said that his wife told him that he needs to smile more and that would help some with that.

He mentioned how part of his job is to help with players' "ego management system". He also said that he wants to be confident but not perceived as arrogant and understands there's a fine line there.

He shared a story about while he was working in the Yankees organization he ran the fantasy camp that they held. One time he was with Bobby Richardson and he told the story about Mickey Mantle came to knew the Lord while he was in the hospital just before he died.

Dr. Roberts then asked him some baseball questions (and he couldn't respond with the answer Royals or any Royals players) and here was his responses:

Best pitcher: Tim Lincecum (Giants)
Best hitter: Joe Mauer (Twins)
Best athlete: Adam Jones (Orioles)
Best reliever: Mariano Rivera (Yankees) (he also shared briefly that while Trey was with the Yankees organization he got to know Rivera personally and talked about how Rivera loves the Lord and is a strong Christian)
World Series: Yankees vs. Giants

Dr. Roberts then asked Trey how to better pray for him. Trey mentioned how he was humbled and truly appreciated the prayers. He said that he would ask them to pray for wisdom, how to be best used in the platform God has given him, patience, and prayer for the families of players and coaches. He then said that he prays for the campus and very much appreciates the seminary having him come and speak.

I've found these chapels to be a blessing and I'm glad that the seminary has done them and I hope that it something that will truly be an annual event.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mariners vs. Royals---Day 2: Third Royals Game in 2010

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went to my third Royals game of the year, second game verses the Mariners. This game was a day game and as I don't have classes on Wednesdays, I didn't skip anything. For this game, my friend Lane and I took advantage of a deal where it was "All You Can Eat Seats". They are in the Loge section (kinda inbetween the lower level and the upper deck) and on certain Wednesdays this section you can get all you can eat hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, pretzels, and drinks from the time gates open until the 7th inning and really the cost is the same for the tickets if you didn't have that so it's a pretty good deal.

Of course along with the excitement of that, there was the game. I was of course wearing my Griffey jersey again and cheering on the Mariners. This game was interesting as it was more scoring. It was 5-1 Seattle into the 6th inning before the Royals came roaring back to tie it up. Then the M's took the lead again getting to the Royals bullpen and ended up winning the game 6-5. Along with that, I got to see the #1 Web Gem on Baseball Tonight (the Jack Wilson snag and jump throw to get Kendall out).

After 3 games I've attended, the Royals are 0-3. However, in 2 games I've attended the Mariners are 2-0. I'm hoping that the next game I go to the Royals win. I'm also hoping to go to St. Louis in June and catch the M's play the Cards in interleague play.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mariners vs. Royals---Day 1: Second Royals Game in 2010

Yesterday (Tuesday) night, I went to my second Royals game of the year, though I was cheering for the other team.  Yes, my "home" team, the Seattle Mariners were in town.  There were in Kansas City for the only time this season and I wanted to see them twice (since that's how many times I saw them last season) and so I got tickets back to back nights.

I got asked several times why I still root for them and I tell people because I still consider Seattle my second home.  I will root for Kansas City because I'm here now but deep down I'm a Mariners fan and will continue to be even though I don't live in Seattle.

Onto the game, I got there early to watch batting practice.  When I lived in Seattle I believe I saw them take batting practice once in three years.  So I went down by the dugout and watched.  I saw Ichiro, Griffey, and the rest of the guys up close.  It was really cool.  And I was this close to coming away with an autograph.  Mike Sweeney, the backup DH and former Royal, at one point saw some old friends of his and stopped to talk to them.  He literally jumped the railing and came into the stands to talk with them for a few minutes.  He was probably ten feet away from where I was standing.  I thought to myself "Hey I'll wait and see if I can get an autograph.  And I was literally standing right next to an usher who said nothing to me while BP was ending and Sweeney was standing there.  Unfortunately, another more stricter usher came down another aisle nearby and started to shoo people away.  This in turn made the one standing right next to me ask me "Do you have a ticket for this section?"  I sighed, shook my head no, and then grabbed my backpack and made the long walk back to my seat.  It was kinda disappointing but oh well.  Sometimes that's how it is.

It was Zack Grienke pitching for the Royals which meant more than likely it was going to be a low scoring game.  And sure enough it was.  It was fitting of the promotion of the night, buck night (1 dollar hot dogs, peanuts, Twinkies and small drinks) as runs were low.  It was 2-0 Royals through 7 innings as Grienke was pitching in a manner that was reminiscent of his Cy Young year last year.  The M's were gutting it out as the pitching was keeping it close.  Then it became a game of bullpens...and has been proven through the season so far, Mariners have a bullpen, Royals don't.  Royals gave up 3 runs in the 8th inning and then M's shut them down in the bottom of 8th and 9th to get the victory.

It's a weird feeling to be heavily outnumbered by fans and your team wins.  I walked out of that stadium wearing my Griffey jersey after the game ended on a fluky double play hit into by Podsednik and I felt bad for my friends Kyle and Lane but at the same time excited for my team and my friends and M's fans back in Seattle.  In games I've been to seeing the M's play since I moved to K.C. after last night's game, they were 2-2.  For the Royals they were 0-2 after last night's game of this season of games I've been to.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Twitter, Sports and Opportunities for Encouragment

I've thought about writing on this for awhile and finally have found the time to do it. One of the trends in the past few years is the use of Twitter. For those who don't know what Twitter is, it's a form of social media that people use 140 characters to convey messages about where they are, what they're doing, or what they're feeling as well as conversing with others. It has grown in scope and usage to where people from a variety of places and popularity use it. It has become a place where people get their news (I found out the death of Michael Jackson's death from Twitter first), some promote products or connect with other people. This is particularly the case with celebrities/athletes as many have Twitter accounts and regularly tweet (write a message).

Back in January there was an article written by Amy K. Nelson that touched on the access that Twitter has given to fans and athletes regarding Chad Ochocinco (Johnson) and a fan of his who passed away and the tribute Chad gave to the fan last season. I would recommend reading the article and you can find a link to the article here.

I personally initially did not get into Twitter but I eventually did get an account and have regularly tweeted since then. Of course most of what I've tweeted about has been either about my faith, what's going on in my life and about sports. I follow friends of mine along with following athletes, coaches, sports reporters, analysts, and other "famous" people in the arena of sports. From this, I've found it a great way to learn more about my favorite teams and players and people that I watch on TV. A great example of this is Mark Schlereth. He is an analyst for ESPN for the NFL. He was an offensive lineman who played for the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos and on Super Bowl winning teams with both franchises. Along with tweets on the NFL and his chili that he promotes, he regularly talks about his faith. On Sundays, he shares a "churchy thought" which consists of sharing a Bible verse and a thought along with it. I've found it to be a nice source of reflection and a blessing to read as I'm out the door to church or back from church.

One of the cool things that Twitter allows people to do is a thing called at reply. Basically you put the @ symbol along with the username of someone on twitter and you can communicate with them. I use that a lot to talk to friends. I also use it to communicate with those athletes, coaches, reporters and analysts. It is a opportunity to communicate in ways that previously weren't there. And what I've tried to do along with expressing my opinion on sports is to also send a word of encouragement. I'm sure many of them get thousands of messages or more a day. But just as I'm called to encourage those I come in contact with in real life, in reflecting Christ to them, Twitter is a way to encourage and reflect Christ not only to those you know but also to those you don't. In some small way, I hope that word or two is an encouragement to them. I truly believe that God can use you through Twitter just as He can use you through other means of communication.

The cool thing is God has gifted each one with talents and passions to use for His glory. When we're doing that, He's being glorified and we're doing what He's called us to. So whatever your passion and talent, see how you can do it for God. For me, that's blogging and tweeting about Jesus and sports. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Playoff Hockey...Nothing Like It

Growing up in Tennessee, it may not look like it but I'm a huge hockey fan. I've mentioned before how as a teen I grew to love hockey and even more so when the Predators came to Nashville. I have been to a few games since the Preds started back in the fall of 1998, including one this year when I was home for spring break (which they won in a shootout against Phoenix).

But as great as regular season hockey is, it's even more so in the playoffs. I hope one of these days to go to a playoff game but in the meantime I watch it on TV.

To me, there's nothing like watching playoff hockey. The action is intense and even more so if it goes into overtime. If you've never seen a hockey game before, the playoffs are a great time to start. And if you'd like a team to root for, you can jump on the Predators bandwagon :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dueling Pitchers: First Royals Game of Review

It's the time of the year where spring is in the air and baseball teams are on the field. Yup, it's baseball season and with that comes going out to the ballpark and yesterday was the first opportunity of the year for that. I almost went the entire first homestand of the Royals without going but I ended up going because A) it was the Red Sox they were playing, B) it was a pitching matchup between Josh Beckett and Zack Grienke and C) it was free jersey night.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. The temp at first pitch was around 70 degrees which is probably 30 degrees more than it has been the last two first games I've been too in the previous two years. It felt like a late May day and definitely no complaining. Normally I'm wearing layers and trying to stay warm whereas this time around it was this time around wearing short sleeves and shorts.

At the game was me, my friend Kyle and a friend of his from class. The seats were in the outfield, out in left field, to the left of the Red Sox bullpen. It was a good game....unfortunately for the Royals...the Red Sox won 8-3. Some highlights:

*It was a pitcher's duel for probably about 5 innings. Beckett was pretty much on for most of the game. Grienke wasn't as much but held on a lead until giving up some runs. Beckett ended up winning the game and is still undefeated against the Royals.

*It was the first Red Sox game I had been to since 2008. That game I also saw Josh Beckett start and win the game.

*Sitting out by the fountains, you can't hear as well as normally can around the stadium...which is kind of to be expected.

*The fans in the outfield are a lot more rowdy than they are in other parts of the stadium. I learned this some last year at the first game of the year and it was confirmed again. There was some drunk guys who were yelling out at Rick Ankiel (the new CF) when he would make plays like "You're awesome Rick!" and stuff like that. It was almost like reverse heckling. Of course there was some regular heckling of Red Sox players and Red Sox fans. I was glad I went with the Royals gear and not with the Red Sox gear.

*There was also an "incident" that happened during the game. There was one drunk guy who sat below us who kept getting up and leaving every so often (mainly because the vendors didn't walk through the outfield as much as other areas so to get beer one had to get up and get it). I can't remember it it was in the fifth or sixth inning but I was looking out towards right field and all of a sudden I feel somebody just come crashing down on me. It startled me more than anything. When I turn around, I see it's this drunk guy from below us. He was trying to step down on the seat to try and get to his seat but he stumbled over the rail and fell onto me. He was all like "I'm sorry dude. Are you alright dude?" I answered I was fine, I was shocked more than anything. I felt bad for the guy as he was wasted. He ended up finally making it to his seat but then about an inning later he was gone again and never came back.

The Royals are now 0-1 in games I've been to this year. Hopefully, they'll win the next time I go and see them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reflecting on Video Games and College Basketball

Last Saturday, I participated in a video game tournament that made for a really good story and one I thought I would share with you. To preface, in January I started listening online to a sports radio show out of Nashville called 3 Hour Lunch. I spend my middays working on homework and listening to their show. Well, I found out that they were holding a video game tournament and it just so happened to take place while I was back in Tennessee for spring break from seminary. So I signed up and looked forward to it.

The tournament was held at The Score which is a video game store in Cool Springs. Not only do they buy, sell & trade games but they have places where you can play games including the "arena" which is in the middle of the store and has like stadium seating and two big screens projecting games. It was pretty cool. So I got there kinda early and just kinda hung out and looked around. It was to start around noon but didn't officially get going until around 12:15.

The rules were then laid out for the tourney. It was a single elimination tournament playing NCAA Basketball 10 on XBox360. The brackets were just like the real brackets. Each participant would draw the name of a school from a box in the order in which they signed up online. The team you drew was the team you played with. There weren't 64 participants so if there was a matchup and there weren't two participants then you got a bye. It was to be 5 minute halves on varsity and played on neutral courts.

So each person's name was called and drew a name. I was probably the 10th person or so to be called. I went up drew a name and got....East Tennessee State. Yup, a 16th seed from the Atlantic Sun Conference. I wasn't the only one who got bad draws. A lot of the ones who went early got bad draws. At the end 3 of the 4 #1 seeds finally got picked and I think only 1 of the #2 seeds. There were a lot of high seeds that were pulled.

When I first walked in, my goal was to make the Sweet 16. When I saw a lot of teenagers there, I adjusted my goal to not getting embarrassed. I found myself playing in the first round against a kid who was probably 8 or 9 years old. He was wearing a Kentucky jersey and was there with his dad who was also wearing a Kentucky shirt. Needless to say, there was irony in the kid drawing Kentucky.

So it was Kentucky vs. ETSU in round 1. And I met my first goal....I didn't get embarrassed. In fact, I ran the kid right out of the gym. Even with him having John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, me and my Bucs beat the Wildcats and advanced into the 2nd round. How do you ask? Well I did the only thing I could do with a team that wasn't that talented or had great 3 point shooting, I played an up-tempo game and ran, ran, ran. I would get a rebound and sprint down the court and get a layup. I'd inbound the ball and get it to my point guard, who happened to be my best player, and just went coast to coast with a layup. He couldn't ever stop it so I kept doing it. I was like, well if it works, keep doing it.

So, I got one win. I was happy and waited around until the next time I played. In the 2nd round I matched up against Texas. This was an interesting matchup as I was going against one of the hosts of the show, Brent. He had never played the game and so during the loading time, he asked me a few questions and I told him what to do (like what's the shoot button, what's the pass button, etc.). This was a tough game as he got ahead on some quick buckets. But I just went with the same gameplan as in the 1st round and it worked according to plan. I sped up the game and in the end pulled out another victory. 2-0 for ETSU and onto the Sweet 16.

So I made my original goal, at least make it to the Sweet 16 and I earned it with two victories. Now I had a matchup with Temple. This game was with one of those many teenagers that were running around. I was kinda worried but I was like, I'm playing with house money, I got nothing to lose. So again, played same up-tempo style...and it worked again. I got so far ahead that in the game the fans started chanting "Warm up the bus". 3-0 and onto the Elite 8

It was getting nervous time as I got ready to play in the Elite 8. I went up against a guy who had West Virginia. This was going to be hard because 1) he was a good player and 2) he had a talented team. So I had to buckle down and play well. In the first half I got ahead but then went cold and he was head by a point at half. In the second half I got down at one time by 6. I then switched up how I was playing defense and that coupled with him missing shots crawled back into the game. With 8 seconds left, I was down by two. I went the length of the court and tied it up with 3 seconds left. He then inbounded the ball went the length of the court and hit a shot at the buzzer to win the game. It was a tough way to lose but in gracious fashion I shook his hand and congratulated him on the victory. He later ended up winning the the whole thing so I lost to the champ.

In the end, I didn't do too bad. I took East Tennessee State, a 16th seed to the Elite 8. I was the highest seed to advance to the Elite 8 and did so winning 3 games with no byes. I was even complimented on two occasions including the guy who beat me as saying that I was "one of the best ones here". And though I didn't win a prize, I did a pretty good job and I have a great story to tell.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reflecting After First Weekend of March Madness

I can safely say that this first weekend of March Madness is probably one of the craziest in my lifetime (30 years). The first day alone saw buzzer beaters, overtime, upsets galore and lots of excitement. Most of my brackets are busted (thanks to Northern Iowa's win), the only ones that aren't are homer brackets (meaning go UT and U-Dub!). Several things that stood out this weekend...

*The two teams I root for made it to the Sweet 16 and potentially could make the Final Four. Going into the tourney I thought only one had that chance (U-Dub) but Tennessee played well their first two games and were helped by upsets in the toughest region. Both will face the #2 seeds in the Sweet 16 but don't be surprised if these two underdogs make the Final 4

*A new phrase has joined the English language..."Going sharpie". This was coined by CBS analysits Greg Anthony and Seth Davis on their tweets. It means a team is pretty much going to win so they write in permanent marker on their brackets (Sharpie). I like the phrase. I will say college roomates and I did something like this as a tradition starting back a decade or so ago (wow...can't believe it's been that long ago). Instead of a Sharpie, we used highlighters to mark our brackets we had posted on our living room wall. Orange or Yellow= correct pick, Green or Pink=incorrect pick. So if you hear me using the phrase "going sharpie" now you know the context.

Hopefully next weekend will live up to the standard that the first weekend set. If it does, then it should be a doozy of a weekend.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reflections on March Madness 2010

It's Wednesday and it's the eve of March Madness. The next four days starting tomorrow is one of my four favorite days of the year, especially Thursday and Friday. I love watching the tournament and the excitement that comes with it. I have filled out brackets but before breaking down the brackets, here's some random reflections on college basketball.

*I'm not the first to say that the selections committee did a not great job and I won't be the last. It's a tough job but they could've done better than stacking the Midwest region with the overall #1 seed and the East with the #2 seed and making the South and West lighter. Also, Tennessee should've gotten higher than a 6th seed in the Midwest, you beat the #1 and #2 overall teams in the country and that gets you only a 6th seed in the toughest region?

*With all the talk about raising the amount of teams to 96 and such...I'm neither for nor against that yet. I will say this, if I was running the show this is what I would do. I would make the 31 automatic bids the top seeds (so roughly 1-7 or 8 seeds). That way A) it doesn't penalize the teams that won their way into the tournament like the mid-major schools and B) you still have the top teams in the top conferences as the 1 or 2 seeds because typically if they're that good they'll win their conference tournament. You then have your remaining 34 at large teams be the lower seed 8-16 with the last two "bubble" teams play in the play-in game. Of course that will never happen but it's a nice thing to think about.

*One thing that I have been reminded of in recent weeks is something that I talked about a while back in one of my video posts. I talked about how at least I am trying to talk positively about the teams I root for and not talk negatively about teams that are rivals or those I don't necessarily like. And for the most part, I've done a good job. If my team has won, I was excited and said great things about my team but I didn't denegrate the other team. If my team lost, I said they put up a good effort and gave the winning team their due. What has disappointed me is that I've seen, read and heard those friends of mine who haven't done that. They have made it a point to say bad things about the other team for no reason it seems like. Case in point. I have several friends who root for Kentucky. In the last few weeks when Tennessee played them in basketball, they made it a point to make snarky (a word I use sometimes that means like a sarcastic putdown) comments both when Kentucky lost and when they won. I don't know why they felt they had to say those things, maybe they're around Tennessee fans who make those kind of comments around them and they feel they need to respond in kind, I don't know. I know my tendency deep down is to respond like that if people are saying those kind of things and I kinda wanted to respond to them like they were responding but instead I thought about what good that would do and instead chose to say good things both about my team and theirs. I think definitely those who are pastors and ministers like myself need to be reminded that our words do mean something and they have an impact like our actions, and that includes being a sports fan. One cannot separate being a fan and being a follower of Jesus, because it's all wrapped into the person God has made you and called you to be. I'm not perfect in this but I'm trying and hopefully that will end up being edifying to God.

Now...onto the brackets. Just like last year I filled out 14 brackets (10 on ESPN, 3 on Facebook and 1 on Yahoo). I went with a variety of ways of filling out the brackets. Some were scientific (Strength of Schedule, Average of RPI and Strength of Schedule, Records vs. Top 25) and some were simply not scientific (Mascots, Numbers out of a Hat, Completely Random, First Impressions). Here are some thoughts on the brackets:

*I'm not buying some of the easy upset picks that a lot of the "experts" are going with, and not just because I'm a Tennessee guy. I don't think Tennessee or Vanderbilt will be upset. In fact, I think Vandy will be a sweet 16 team. Some sleeper teams I'm picking are Utah St., Washington, Minnesota and Cornell.

*I have seen a lot of Big 12 games living in Kansas City. It is a tough conference and Kansas is a very tough team. They have talent + experience which to me is a deadly combination. I think a lot of people think that Kentucky is the top team like a lot of other people think Kansas is the top team. I've seen both teams and there's no question, Kansas is better. Kentucky does have talent but Wall is too much of a kamakaze point guard who has a propensity to turn the ball over and have a Kobe Bryant mentality of shooting shots. Cousins is a player who could just as easily take his team out of a game as well as keep them in it with his attitude. Their best player to be honest is Bledsoe. When you're top three players are all freshmen, I do think that's not a formula for tournament success (see Michigan in 1993 with Fab 5). Kansas has the depth and talent with Collins, Aldrich, and the Henry twins. Along with that talent they have experience with Collins and Aldrich being seniors. That will play a factor to me as the tourney goes on.

I have two brackets in which I'm thinking are my best. In my first bracket I have in my final four: Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia and Villanova and in my second bracket I have the same with the exception being Baylor instead of Villanova. I have in the championship game in both brackets Kansas and West Virginia with Kansas taking the title.

Good luck to everyone filling out the brackets and hope you enjoy watching some basketball!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 Major League Baseball Predictions

Spring is almost here and so it's time for predictions for MLB. Of course these predictions are purely mine and are a mix of what I'd like to see and what I think, which means there's definitely room for error.

AL East:
Boston (division winner)
NY Yankees
Tampa Bay

AL Central:
Chicago White Sox (division winner)
Kansas City (wild card)

AL West:
Seattle (division winner)
Anaheim (LA) Angels

NL East:
Philadelphia (division winner)
Atlanta (wild card)
NY Mets

NL Central:
St. Louis (division winner)
Chicago Cubs

NL West:
Arizona (division winner)
Los Angeles
San Francisco
San Diego

ALCS: Seattle vs. Chicago White Sox
NLCS: Philadelphia vs. St. Louis
World Series: Seattle vs. Philadelphia
Champs: Seattle

AL MVP: Justin Morneau
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What A Game: Men's Hockey Gold Medal Game

I was going to write a post on the USA men's hockey team. I think all that can be said is in the game that just took place. Though I'm disappointed that the team lost, I think it says a lot about how the team played. It's a much younger team than previous times and one that wasn't expected to do much. Most thought it would be Canada, Russia, Czech Republic and Sweden would be the top teams. For the U.S. to do what they did (go undefeated in pool play, get to the gold medal game, score with 24 seconds left in the 3rd period to tie the game), I think it says a lot about their heart.

It's a great lesson in playing hard and that even though they didn't win the gold, they were successful in what they accomplished. I hope the NHL allows their players to play in 2014, it makes it way more entertaining and I think showcases the NHL in more ways than if they didn't.

It definitely was a great way to close out the Olympics. Now the countdown is on for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London [and my birthday as well :)]

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Great Story on an Olympic Speedskater

I can't believe that the Olympics are almost over (last day is tomorrow). It has been a great two (or so) weeks of action with lots of drama and stories to go around. I will definitely blog about the U.S. men's hockey team but that will come tomorrow or Monday.

One story that stood out to me was that of Chad Hedrick, the speedskater. I remember him from previous Olympics especially in Turin where he had great success on the ice but he kind of a rough reputation off the ice. Given the way the stories go with Olympic athletes, I didn't hear anything about him until four years later. Then I read an article at the start of the Olympics in Vancouver about how he gave his life to Christ recently and how he and his family have began walking with the Lord. It was a really cool testimony which he is vocal about how his life has been changed because of Christ. This Olympics was his last and he went out with a medal in his final race (team pursuit) with a silver medal.

He plans on sharing his story with others after hanging up the skates. I wish him the best and hope that God continues to use him in sharing Christ with others.

(Here's the article that I read, done by Tim Ellsworth, who's also the director of news and media relations at my alma mater Union University)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reflections on the Winter Olympics (Opening Weekend)

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love the Olympics. This is even more so the case of the Winter Olympics. I was born on February 29, 1980, five days after the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (FYI, my due date was originally the 22nd, which was the day the "Miracle on Ice" took place). I was still too young to remember the 1984 Olympics but in 1988 I remember watching the Winter Olympics that were in Calgary and really fell in love with it. It was awesome to watch both Olympics in the same year. I was disappointed when they separated the two and moved the Winter Olympics to a non-Leap Year after the 1992 Olympics.

I've had some great memories watching the Winter Olympics. One of my best memories is in 2002 when I was a senior at Union and watching the Men's Hockey Finals in the upstairs of Hurt Commons with friends. It was cool watching the U.S. and Canada play each other.

This year, the Olympics are in Vancouver. It is a beautiful city. I was there for a week back in 2005 on a mission trip. If I still lived in Seattle, I would make the trip up to go to the Olympics. If I wasn't in seminary right now, I'd definitely have done it. By the way, if you've never been to Vancouver, you should visit.

Aside from the tragedy of Friday with the death of the luger from Georgia, it has been a good start. The U.S. team has gotten 4 medals after yesterday and will hopefully add to the total. I was very happy that Poland got a silver in Ski Jumping (Normal Hill), which is one of my favorite sports in the Olympics.

I'm excited for the next two weeks to watch some Olympics. I think there will be some memorable moments and hopefully I'll have time to blog about it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV Prediction

It's almost time for Super Bowl XLIV. The game is on Sunday and so it's time for my pick. This postseason I've done really well with picking as I've gone 7-3. I'm assured a winning record for the playoffs but it'd be nice to pick the winner of the Super Bowl as well. Last decade (in case you were wondering, from Super Bowl 34 to 43) I went 5-5 in picking the winner of the Super Bowl. We'll see how the new decade shapes up.

We get a great matchup in the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. In the regular season, I picked this as the Super Bowl matchup, though after Week 16 I thought otherwise (more on that later). We get two high powered offenses, two big name quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Drew Brees) and what should be one exciting show.

In breaking down the matchup, it seems a lot of people are favoring the Colts because of Peyton Manning and rightfully so. He is arguably one of the best quarterbacks ever. He is the franchise player for the Colts for over a decade. This team rides on his arm. On the other side, you have Drew Brees, who wasn't a slouch at all at QB. He revived the Saints franchise and has been both a leader on and off the field. As much as what Peyton means to the Colts, Drew means as much as the heart and soul of the Saints.

One of the things I think that has gotten overlooked and what I think will play a factor is the running game. As much as it's been a pass happy league the last few years, running the ball is important (and I don't count bubble screen passes as runs) and I think will play a role in this game. When I look at the two teams' running games, Indy has a solid running game in Joseph Addai and the rookie Donald Brown. But, the edge goes to the Saints in that their running back duo (Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush) has been a little more consistent this season and has the ability to break a run for a big gain.

Another key will be special teams. The Colts have the oldest player to start a Super Bowl in K Matt Stover. He's reliable but won't be able to kick long field goals. That will factor in. The Saints K Garrett Hartley is young, has the leg but has missed some key field goals (though he did hit the game winner in OT in the NFC Championship game). Return game edge goes to the Saints (Reggie Bush/Courtney Roby vs Chad Simpson/T.J. Rushing).

Obviously a key story is Dwight Freeney and his injury. I think regardless of whether he plays or not, he will not be 100% and that will be a factor. He is known for his speed and with his ankle not 100% he won't have the full speed he needs to disrupt things. That in turn will upset the balance of the rest of the defense.

Important stat: In the regular season, the Saints had a +11 giveaway/takeaway while the Colts had a +2.

It has been a tough decision to figure out who to root for and who will win. For me, there are three factors in which I went with the decision I did. First, the Colts decision to basically quit on the last two games of the regular season. I thought then it was wrong and still do. I wouldn't want to reward them with a Super Bowl for doing something like that and deep down I think they won't win and that will be rectified. Two, though many people are picking the Colts, if you're not a Colts or Saints fan, the rooting interest might be steered more towards the Saints. Three, in a Madden simulation of the game earlier this week, the Saints won that game. That simulation has predicted the winner of the Super Bowl 5 out the last 6 years.

As much as I love Peyton (being a UT guy), I think the choice for me is clear....

Who Dat rolls to the victory

New Orleans 38 Indianapolis 30

MVP: Drew Brees