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

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reflections on Kurt Warner's Retirement

This past Friday, Kurt Warner, All-Pro and MVP quarterback retired from the NFL. It was expected but at the same time kinda sad. He went out on his own terms and did so while still having something left in the tank.

There are several things I've thought about in reflecting on Kurt. First, he's a great guy and a class act. He is someone who is strong in his faith and has reflected Christ both on and off the field. I must admit, I wasn't too happy when his team won the Super Bowl (the Rams back in Super Bowl XXXIV because they beat my Titans) but I admired the guy from where he came from. This was even more the case the past few years in Arizona. Though he was a rival to the Seahawks (who became my second team after living in Seattle for three years), I was really impressed by how he handled being a backup to Matt Leinart to coming in and lighting up the desert. I was rooting for Arizona last year in the Super Bowl and for Kurt.

There's always the debate about when one retires. In the end, I hold it's up to the person. Just as much as Brett Favre deserves to play as long as he wants, I think Kurt's right in deciding to retire now. God has blessed those who get to play the game with the ability and desire. I'm sure Kurt still loves the game but I believe he loves Jesus and his family more than the game and rightfully so.

Kurt, you will be missed and I hope you continue to do big things and serve God in whatever way He calls you to.