Archives for posts with tag: World Series
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I am sure I do not have to tell you that two days ago was Election Day in the United States. People across the country for months have been expressing their opinions on a variety of issues and candidates. Extremely strong feelings have been verbalized and put into print for what has seemed like an eternity.

Election Day 2020: Voting Registration Rules

As you read this the results of some contests, including the office of the President of the United States, may not yet be determined but one thing is crystal clear. There is no doubt that we do not all see eye to eye. What seems perfectly clear to one is often seen differently by another. Sometimes the views are so dramatically different one cannot help but wonder how it is possible. Surely one or the other is wrong.

I wonder if it is not simply that people may be looking through different lenses.

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Recently while watching one of the World Series games on television the picture seemed blurry. After a few moments I discovered the problem. I had become so relaxed in my recliner and I was looking through the wrong part of my glasses. There was nothing wrong with the picture. I am near-sighted so I wear glasses that allow me to see things clearly both up close and at a distance. The trick is to look through the proper section of the lens.

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During this pandemic my wife and I have tried to adhere to the restrictions and observe the protocols in place to keep us healthy. We wear our masks, keep our distance, and avoid crowds. These and other changes have created a sense of isolation and serious boredom. To get some relief we have occasionally taken a drive. No contact with others. Just a change of scenery. One day as we drove along the highway the horizon seemed overcast. Once I replaced my sunglasses with my clear lens, things were much brighter.

Get Ready for a Winter Road Trip with These Holiday Car Travel Tips

On one occasion we took a lengthy road trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On the way up we traveled a long distance on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed the leisurely pace and the incredible scenery. On the return trip we traveled mostly on interstate highways. Neither route was the “right” one. One was not “better” than the other. Each one of the separate routes gave us a different perspective. They were different but each of them allowed us to reach our desired destinations.

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There is often more than one answer to any given matter. There is more than way to reach a conclusion. For instance, 2 plus 2 equals 4. But 3 plus 1 also equals 4. We can count it on our fingers, write it on paper, or use a calculator to determine the answer. The method or means we employ may be different but the conclusion is the same.

There are a lot of “lens” through which we view life. Family environment. Education. Travel and other life experiences. Our race, gender, and social status. Political and religious affiliations. And the list goes on. All of these, and many more, contribute to how we see things and what we understand about the many issues. It is easy to think that the other person’s view is “right” or “wrong” because of the lens through which we see life.

Perhaps our differences might be minimized or at least we could see the value in the perspective of others if we realized that we are simply viewing life through different lenses.

Jamie Jenkins

One more baseball story with a spiritual focus.

To say that COVID-19 has changed the world as we have known it is an understatement. Among the many facets of life that has faced monumental challenges due to the pandemic has been amateur and professional sports at every level. Games have been cancelled or played in venues with no spectators. The many organizations have struggled to make plans how games will be played if at all.

One example of the change in the way professional sports have attempted to survive can be seen in Major League Baseball. Their spring training was cancelled but eventually they crafted a schedule of 60 games (instead of the normal 162) with limited travel and other restrictions. That reduced schedule of regular season games ends on September 27.

The Play Offs begin on September 29 with more teams than usual and in a limited number of stadiums to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. The World Series is scheduled top start Oct. 20 and for the first time ever it will be played at a neutral site.

There is often a lot of drama to the end of a major league baseball season (just ask the 2019 Atlanta Braves) and the World Series. One game from 1951 stands out as one with a climatic result.

October 1: ON THIS DAY in 1951, Dodgers and Giants clash

The game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants was the first ever televised nationally and was seen by millions of viewers across America and heard on radio by millions more, including thousands of American servicemen stationed in Korea, listening on Armed Forces Radio. The fact that the two teams were intense cross-town rivals added to the drama. Another added element was the tremendous way the Giants had ended the regular season by winning 37 of their last 44 games to tie the first-place Dodgers and force a play-off series to determine the National League champion.

The Way It Was" 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants National League  Playoff (TV Episode 1974) - IMDb

Each team won one game forcing the deciding third game on October 3. In the top of the eighth inning the Dodgers scored three runs to give them a commanding 4–1 lead. The starting pitcher, Don Newcombe was ready to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning to try to close out the victory for the Dodgers but he was getting tired. The Giants cut the lead to 4–2, with just one out and two men on base. So the Dodgers called on Ralph Branca to finish the game.

Ralph Branca Obituary - Legacy.com

The first batter Branca had to face was Bobby Thomson who represented the winning run at home plate. The first pitch was a fastball strike. Then on the second pitch Thompson drove the ball down the left-field line and it cleared the wall by mere inches- a game- winning three-run home run that quickly became known as “The Shot Heard ’Round the World.”

Baseball History: Thomson's 'Shot Heard 'Round the World'
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Branca was doubting himself as he met up with his wife Ann after the game. She was waiting with Father Pat Rowley, dean of campus ministries at Fordham University. “At the moment when they needed their best pitcher, you got the call,” said the priest. “That alone is a sign of the respect you have.” “Had,” Branca responded. “You’re being too hard on yourself, son,” said the priest. “But why me, Father?” asked Branca. “I love this game so much. Why did it have to be me?”

“Simple,” he said. “God chose you because He knew you’d be strong enough to bear this cross. This will not weaken your faith in God, it will build the strength of your spirit.”*

Some of our most important lessons are learned from our most painful moments. While we do not invite such experiences, God can use them to strengthen us. The Apostle Paul said we should “consider ourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come our way, for… when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing’” (James 1:2-24 GNT).

Lord, help us to learn that hard times test our faith and can cause us to mature.

Jamie Jenkins

*The conversation between Ralph Branca and Father Rowley is recorded on page 209 of 42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story.

 

Working Smarter, Not Harder...Literally

Work smarter, not harder is good advice. This axiom takes into consideration that there might be a better way to accomplish a task. Analytical data present options that may be preferable to the old way.

That is the central premise of a book by Michael Lewis. It is the story about the Oakland Athletics, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, and it’s General Manager Billy Beane. A film based on the book starred Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game proposes a better way to assemble a competitive team than how baseball insiders have done it in the past. The Athletics, and Beane in particular, believe that the use of computer-generated analysis to acquire new players produces better results than the system used for many years. The conclusion was that rigorous statistical analysis demonstrated better indicators of success. This strategy enabled the A’s to reach the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 in spite of having the third-lowest team payroll in the league.

If you are not a baseball fan, don’t quit reading.

Theo Epstein

In 2004 Theo Epstein became the youngest GM in the history of MLB when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28. Using the Moneyball approach, he led the team to six playoff appearances and two World Series titles (something they had not accomplished in 86 years) in nine seasons.

In 2011 Epstein resigned from his job in Boston to become President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. His devotion to the data-driven analysis that helped teams identify and accumulate players with little-noticed but crucial strengths had succeeded inestimably in Boston. However, “a few weeks before spring training of 2012, in the ballroom of a budget hotel in Mesa, Ariz., Theo Epstein stood before nearly every person connected with the baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs and told them how the Cubs were going to win the World Series” (Fortune Magazine).

The magazine article was based on The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Baseball Team and Breaking the Curse, a book by Tom Verducci. He reported that “Epstein devoted the first three days of the session to on-field strategy: hitting philosophy, pitching philosophy, defense, and base running. But the entire last day was devoted to character. The Cubs, Epstein insisted, would acquire only players with outstanding makeup.”

Near the end of his tenure at Boston he came to understand that character and chemistry were strengths that could not be captured with a strictly analytic approach and “their absence was painfully clear as the team underwent a late-season collapse. The more the team lost, the more it broke apart from within. Players ­feuded with one another. The egos that had created cracks in the clubhouse while they were winning caused deep fissures as they lost.”

Epstein had put so much faith in numbers when he began as general manager of the Red Sox. “Now character did not just matter. It was essential to Epstein’s blueprint to win the World Series.” He gave his scouts very specific instructions about how to assess not only a player’s skills and abilities but the kind of person he was. How he treated other people. How he responded to adversity. What others- friends and enemies- said about him. His character.

Chicago Cubs 1908 & 2016 World Series Champions Team Photo (Size: 12" x 15") Framed

The brilliance of what the Cubs did was to put their faith not just in numbers, but also in the type of people they acquired. In 2016, five years of applying this new approach, the Cubs won their first World Series championship in 108 years.

Epstein understood that character counts!

Isn’t that what Jesus was implying when he told his disciples “Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.” “Don’t say anything you don’t mean” (Matthew 5:33 CEV, MSG). Repeatedly the Master points his followers to a high standard of morality and instructs them to be genuine in their relationships.

Jesus wants us to know, character counts.

Jamie Jenkins

It was another reminder that no matter how much money you throw at something you are not guaranteed success.

Fox Sports paid $500M to televise  Major League Basebal games including the World Series.In spite of this big outlay of money and the latest technology, Fox faced “a stark and embarrassing broadcast bungle” during the first game of the World Series last week.  Daniel Roberts wrote in Fortune Magazine: “At 9:18 p.m. Eastern Time, with a 1-1 score in the fourth inning, the telecast picture vanished: no visuals, no audio.”

Money 5

$500M and still they were greatly embarrassed. The network quickly posted a sign on screen that they were experiencing “Technical Difficulty.” Both Fox’s primary and backup generators were hit with a “rare electronics failure,” causing the loss of power and the 4 minute blackout that followed.

Money 1

Jordi Alemany, Director General at Solar Rocket in Valencia, Spain, reminds us that, “Money has been with us for more than ten thousand years. It has become a vital element in our lives, to the point where without money, you can literally die.”

In other words, we have come to the place that we think money is the answer to everything- career, marriage, family, winning sports team, and almost anything else. If you have enough money, you can have what you want. Or so it seems.

Money 2

The World Series reminds us that money cannot even guarantee a championship baseball team. It is interesting to note that this year’s combined salaries of the two teams in the World Series- the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals- is less than half of the combined salaries of the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, neither of which made it to the World Series ($492M vs. $214M).

The first hit record for the Motown record label was a song written by Berry Gordon and Janie Bradford. Barrett Strong sang “Money (That’s what I Want)” in 1959. The song was later recorded by many artists including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Doors. In 1960 the song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The lyrics of that hit song recognizes that “money don’t get everything it’s true” but it goes on to claim that “what it don’t get, I can’t use.” Several years later John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote a song that the Beatles recorded which asserted “I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy me love.”

SONY DSC

There are many things that money can provide but the really important things in life do not have price tags. Health, love, happiness, integrity, peace of mind, intelligence, spiritual enlightenment, self-worth, security, an honest opinion, time, trust- just to mention a few.

Someone has suggested that it is good to have money and the things that money can buy but it is good to check up once in a while to be sure you have not lost the things that money can’t buy.

Jamie Jenkins

What is your list of things that money can’t buy?