San Diego Padres beat Dodgers, advance to NLCS against Phillies

After improbably beating the N.Y. Mets in one of the NL Wild Card Series, the San Diego Padres had to play the NL West champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a best-of-five NLDS Series. Many considered the 111-51 Dodgers to be the best team in MLB. The Blue Bums had mastered their NL West rival Padres this season, winning all six series and 14 of 19 games. Not one single media pundit predicted San Diego would win the series, but the impossible happened. The Padres beat the Dodgers three games to one. Let’s briefly break it down:

  • Game 1 – Tuesday, October 11 @ Los Angeles – Dodgers 5, Padres 3 – Pitcher Mike Clevinger had a dismal outing, giving up all five of the Dodgers runs in 2.2 innings. Wil Myers’ HR led the Padres’ 3-run fifth inning rally, but it wasn’t enough. Dodgers fans were like, “Told you so.”
  • Game 2 – Wednesday, October 12 @ Los Angeles – Padres 5, Dodgers 3 – Pitcher Yu Darvish didn’t bring his best stuff, but kept it close. Manny Machado turned the series tide with a first-inning home run off of Clayton Kershaw. Dodgers fans were like, “Uh-oh.”
  • Game 3 – Friday, October 14 @ San Diego – Padres 2, Dodgers 1 – After a poor start against the Mets, pitcher Blake Snell brought his A game and shut down the Blue Bums’ bats. Trent Grisham’s fourth-inning solo homer was the difference.
  • Game 4 – Saturday, October 15 @ San Diego – Padres 5, Dodgers 3 – With the Dodgers confidently ahead 3-0, the Padres exploded for 5 runs in the seventh inning.

There’s many accolades to go around, but special mentions go to the clutch hitting of Manny Machado 3B (.296), Jurickson Profar LF (.280), Trent Grisham CF (.381), and Austin Nola C (.381). Except for Clevinger’s poor start in Game 1, Padres’ starting pitching and relief were excellent. Padres fans fueled the frenzy in games three and four at Petco Park.

Above: Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres celebrate after defeating the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Petco Park in San Diego.

What’s next? The Padres take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series beginning tomorrow night, 8PM ET. Full schedule below. The last time the Padres were in the NLCS was 1998.

  • Game 1 – Tuesday, Oct. 18, Phillies @ Padres, PETCO Park, San Diego, CA
  • Game 2 – Wednesday, Oct. 19, Phillies @ Padres, PETCO Park, San Diego, CA
  • Game 3 – Friday, Oct. 21, Padres @ Phillies, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Game 4 – Saturday, Oct. 22, Padres @ Phillies, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Game 5 – Sunday, Oct. 23, Padres @ Phillies, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Game 6 – Monday, Oct. 24, Phillies @ Padres, PETCO Park, San Diego, CA
  • Game 7 – Tuesday, Oct. 25, Phillies @ Padres, PETCO Park, San Diego, CA

Padres vs. Dodgers begins tonight!

Last week, the 89-73 San Diego Padres traveled the 2761 miles to Citi Field in Queens, New York City to play the 101-61 New York Mets in a three-game weekend NL Wild Card Series. To say the Padres were underdogs would have been a ridiculous understatement. No one gave them a chance.

But the Padres improbably beat the Mets Friday and Sunday evenings to clinch the series and will meet the NL Western Division Champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a best-of-five NLDS playoff beginning tonight at Dodgers Stadium (see schedule below).

Watching the Padres-Mets series during the course of my work-weekend was a bit of a challenge, but I did manage to watch big portions of the games as well as some video highlight reels afterwards. A few takeaways:

  • Friday – Padres 7, Mets 1 – Padres pitcher, Yu Darvish, had a good game while Padres hitters unexpectedly roughed up the Mets’ 3X Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. Josh Bell, Trent Grisham, and Jurickson Profar had big home runs. Mets fans said, “Uh-oh.”
  • Saturday – Mets 7, Padres 3 – After a good post-ASB stretch, Padres pitcher, Blake Snell, looked like a deer in the headlights in this outing. He couldn’t throw a strike to save his life. Grisham had another homer, but the Pads were largely handcuffed by 2X Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, and closer, Edwin Diaz.
  • Sunday – Padres 6, Mets 0 – Padres pitcher, Joe Musgrove, was d-o-m-i-n-a-n-t, allowing only one Mets hit in seven innings. In 54 years of following San Diego, I’ve never seen a better performance by a Padres pitcher. Grisham had a catch against the outfield wall in the sixth inning that took any remaining wind out of the Mets’ sails. After previously bad-mouthing Grisham in my Padres-Mets preview, he made me eat crow by earning series MVP.

What to expect in this upcoming NLDS? If the Pads were underdogs against the Mets, they’re HUGE underdogs against the 111-51 Dodgers. The Blue Bums mastered their NL West rival Padres this season, winning all six series and 14 of 19 games. Manny Machado and the guys need to bring their A+ game. Starting pitcher, Mike Clevinger, takes the ball for the Padres tonight.

Yup, Christian bloggers, the Holy Spirit uses even baseball: 31YO Wil Myers (1B, 3B, OF) is the longest tenured Padre, joining the club in 2015. He is outspoken in his Gospel Christian faith and uses his platform to point others to Jesus Christ (see here). Wil becomes a free agent this winter and the current scuttlebut is the Padres likely won’t offer him a new contract.

GameDateLocationTime (ET)TV
1Tue, Oct 11Dodger Stadium9:37 p.m.FS1
2Wed, Oct 12Dodger Stadium8:37 p.m.FS1
3Fri, Oct 14Petco ParkTBDFS1
4*Sat, Oct 15Petco ParkTBDFS1
5*Sun, Oct 16Dodger StadiumTBDFS1
* If needed

Fernando Tatis Jr. and ignominy?

I don’t normally post photos of myself (see above), but I thought some might enjoy reading about my current dilemma. But first, a little background.

San Diego Padres shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., has been in the sports news quite a bit lately. The Padres picked up 17YO Fernando Tatis Jr. in a trade with the Chicago White Sox back in 2016. After three years of rapid development in the Padres’ minor leagues farm system, Fernando was promoted to the big league roster in March 2019 at the tender age of 20. El Niño was so impressive in his first two seasons and widely acknowledged as a “generational talent” that the Padres gave him a 14-year, $340 million contract extension prior to the 2021 campaign.

Above: Fernando “El Niño” Tatis Jr.

Giving a young man a lot of recognition and money is usually a recipe for disaster. Tatis was involved in multiple motorcycle accidents in the 2021-2022 offseason. He reported to Spring Training with an untreated fracture of the scaphoid bone in his left wrist. That was really dumb. Surgery was performed on Tatis’ wrist on March 16 and after nearly five months of rehab, he was close to rejoining the team. However, on August 12, MLB announced that Tatis was suspended for 80 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing anabolic steroid. Tatis accepted the suspension, but alleged, “I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm (supposedly contracted from a haircut) that contained Clostebol.” Many doubt the veracity of Tatis’ alibi. The bottom line is the Padres’ $24M/year young and reckless superstar won’t be returning to baseball until May 2023.

Okay, now what about the old guy in the top photos decked out in a Tatis t-shirt? Our oldest son gave me that shirt as a gift a year ago. Clothes hounds say no sensible man should wear a sports jersey/t-shirt past the age of 29. Ach. I never did conform to fashion. But now I feel kind of foolish wearing the t-shirt of a cheater in public. What a dilemma!

Back in the day, when a person got caught in some type of nefarious public scandal, they became social outcasts/pariah for the rest of their lives. Hester Prynne had to wear a scarlett “A.” Oops! She was fictional. What about the 1919 Chicago White Sox who blew the World Series on purpose and became known as the Black Sox? What about the Milli Vanilli guys who went into hiding after being exposed for not actually singing on their albums? I remember a young Kodak Elmgrove HR hiring manager back in the 1980s, John B—-, who extorted from $500 to $1000 from job applicants, but got found out when people were subsequently laid off and demanded their money back. It’s certain B—- never held a job in the corporate world again. But things are loosening up a bit in this degenerating society. These days a person can be elected president of the United States even after having multiple adulterous affairs. Experts in “crisis PR” are kept very busy coaching scandal-tainted celebrities on how to rehabilitate their careers. Fernando Tatis Jr. will serve out his suspension and be back on the field in nine months, but many baseball fans will always think of El Niño as a cheater.

I’m so grateful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because He didn’t turn away the social outcasts and pariahs. He actually hung out with them and preached the Good News! to them. We all have done or thought sinful things that we’re ashamed of, whether we got caught or not. Jesus knows all and will forgive all if we repent and trust in Him as Savior by faith alone. There’s no ignominy in Christ Jesus.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1

Play Ball! The San Diego Padres open the 2022 season

Today is Opening Day for the San Diego Padres as the Friars begin a four-game series with the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix. The 2021 Padres (79-83) were one of MLB’s biggest disappointments with their total collapse after the All-Star break. Manager Jayce Tingler was fired and experienced and respected skipper, Bob Melvin, was brought aboard. This season started off on a sour note before the first pitch was even thrown when shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. fractured his wrist in an offseason motorcycle accident. El Niño is not expected to return until late June. The big story out of the Padres Spring Training camp was the outstanding play of young shortstop C.J. Abrams. The Pads definitely need a SS with Tatis out. Will GM A.J. Preller gamble on 21YO Abrams who has only Double-A experience or will he let Abrams develop in Triple-A and go with the unspectacular Ha-Seong Kim until Tatis returns?* The other big Spring Training story was the Padres’ acquisition of Yankee slugger Luke Voit for the DH spot.

Padres’ ace Yu Darvish will be on the mound today. The Opening Day starting line-up looks to be as follows:

  1. Trent Grisham (CF)
  2. Manny Machado (3B)
  3. Jake Cronenworth (2B)
  4. Luke Voit (DH)
  5. Eric Hosmer (1B)
  6. Wil Myers (RF)
  7. Austin Nola (C)
  8. Jurickson Profar (LF)
  9. Ha-Seong Kim (SS)

I’ll check back with you at the All-Star break for a mid-season assessment. Go Padres!

My other sports interests: The Los Angeles Chargers finished the 2021 season with a 9-8 record, missing a wild-card playoff spot by a hair. Sophomore QB phenom, Justin Herbert, developed into one of the NFL’s premier passers, but the Bolts need to bolster their D to compete in the AFC West. The Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers finished fourth in the Atlantic Hockey Conference with a conference record of 12-10-4. The Tigers lost a 4-3 decision to Air Force in the semifinals of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. The New York Knicks are a disappointing 35-45 with two games left to play in the season. Everyone expected much more from the hapless Knicks. Coach Tom Thibodeau is on the hot seat, but will probably return next season. The bright spot is the continuing development of young Knicks, R.J. Barrett, Immanuel Quickly, and Obi Toppin.

*Update: The Padres announced today that C.J. Abrams did make the Opening Day roster

The 90s Knicks: Enter the paint at your own risk

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks
By Chris Herring
Atria Books, 2022, 349 pp.

5 Stars

I became a New York Knicks fan in 1968 at the age of twelve, just in time to experience those great Knicks championships in 1970 and 1973. Well, it’s been slim pickin’s since then, although the blue and orange had some nice runs in the Patrick Ewing era (1985-2000).

In this book, Chris Herring, takes us back to the 1990s when the Knicks were the scourge of the NBA. Knicks management brought Pat Riley to New York City in 1991 after he had coached the Los Angeles Lakers to four championships. The Lakers had won with finesse, but the Knicks didn’t have that kind of offensive talent, so Riley had the Knicks focus on defense. No opponent looked forward to dribbling into the paint with Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason swinging their elbows beneath the basket. Besides being a good defender, Ewing had also turned himself into a scoring threat, but he didn’t have much help on offense besides an erratic John Starks. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls constantly stood in the way of the Knicks’ championship aspirations, although the blue and orange did go to the Finals in 1994, losing to the Rockets, because Jordan had opted to play baseball that year.

Riley had enough after the 1994-1995 season and took the coaching job down in Miami. Assistant Jeff Van Gundy eventually got the Knicks head coaching spot and did a very decent job leading the team from 1996 until 2001. The Knicks made it to the Finals again in 1998, losing to the San Antonio Spurs. The Ewing era ended after the team traded the big man following the 1999-2000 season.

The Knicks advanced to the playoffs only five times after Van Gundy’s departure, making it past the 1st round only one time (2013). Over the span of 2001 to 2022, few professional sports teams have displayed the kind of mismanagement, ineptitude, and futility we have seen from the hapless Knicks.

I enjoyed reading this book and recalling the Riley-Van Gundy years. The Knicks had some real “characters” in that span. Ewing needed one, just one, All-Star caliber player to complement his Hall-of-Fame game so that he could lead the Knicks to an NBA championship, like Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, but for some strange reason, Knicks management wasn’t able to deliver.

Postscript: Charlie Ward was a two-sport athlete at Florida State University and won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the Seminoles in 1993. Ward was drafted by the Knicks in 1994 and played nine years for the team. Charlie was a born-again Christian and was a faithful witness of Jesus Christ and the Gospel in his tenure as a Knick. After each game, he joined with other believers on both teams for an on-court prayer.

Play ball! The San Diego Padres open the 2021 season today

Snow and a high of only 36F are predicted for today here Western New York, but 2670 miles away, in San Diego, California, they’re expecting mostly sunny skies and a high of 84F. Great weather for a ballgame.

capture30

The San Diego Padres finished the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season with a remarkable 37-23 record. After defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Series, the Padres hit a brick wall when they faced the dastardly Dodger$ in the NLDS. The Padres’ pitching staff was already outmatched by the Blue Bums even before starters Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger went on the disabled list. The Padres’ #1 goal in the offseason was to pick up quality pitching and they did exactly that by signing not one, but two legitimate aces in Blake Snell and Yu Darvish.

The Padres open their 2021 season today at 1PM PT at Petco Park with the first game of a three-game homestand against NL Western Division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let’s take a look at the Padres’ projected starters:

Catcher: Austin Nola fractured a finger in Spring Training so newcomer Victor Caratini will get the nod on Opening Day. Promising young blue chipper, Luis Campusano, will also see action during the season.

Infield: The infield is set, to put it mildly, with Eric Hosmer (1B), Jake Cronenworth (2B), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS), and Manny Machado (3B). Tatis and Machado are easily the best SS/3B tandem in MLB and Tatis is still developing. Cronenworth came close to earning NL Rookie of the Year last season and Hos is a solid vet. Jurickson Profar and newly-acquired Ha-Seong Kim from South Korea will battle for infield playing time and both could start for many ballclubs.

Outfield: Tommy Pham (LF), Trent Grisham (CF), and Wil Myers (RF) will start, but Profar will get significant time at the corners. It was great to see Myers relaunch his once-promising career in 2020 under new skipper, Jayce Tingler. Update: Grisham is on the IL so I expect Profar to man the CF spot in the interim.

Pitching: Aces Snell and Darvish are excellent additions. Dinelson Lamet pitched in one the Padres’ last Spring Training games after rehabilitating his elbow for six months, however, Mike Clevinger won’t be available in 2021 after having offseason Tommy John surgery. Newcomer Joe Musgrove is a very solid #4. As for the #5 spot, young Chris Paddack’s regression remains a mystery after being projected as the franchise’s future ace two years ago. The bullpen has some question marks especially with the vacancy left by closer Kirby Yates. Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagán, and Mark Melancon will all vie for the closer spot.

The Padres are VERY sold from top to bottom, although the closer position is a question mark. Most baseball prognosticators are taking the easy route and picking the Dodger$ to take the NL West again, however, they acknowledge that the Padres could easily upset.

Above photo, from left to right: Myers, Machado, Darvish, Snell, Tatis Jr., and Hosmer.

Frivolity: Checking in with my sports teams

I haven’t posted any information regarding my sports teams since the San Diego Padres were disappointingly swept by the evil Los Angeles Dodger$ in the NLDS this past October, so let’s do a quick status check:

Los Angeles Chargers (fan since 1969)

The Chargers finished their season this past Sunday, ending up with a disappointing 7-9 record. The highlight was the play of rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert (photo, first from left). After the 2019 season, the Chargers turned the page on aging, 16-year veteran QB, Philip Rivers, and drafted Herbert with the sixth pick in the first round. The former Oregon Duck got the nod in game #2 and never looked back, shattering multiple NFL all-time rookie QB records. The other most notable thing about the Chargers this season was the glaring ineptness of head coach, Anthony Lynn. There were many examples of bewildering play selection and clock mismanagement. Special teams play was once again beyond atrocious. As expected, Chargers owner Dean Spanos and GM Tom Telesco mercifully fired Lynn this past Monday morning. Being the head coach of an NFL team is an incredibly difficult job and few are cut out for it. Another notable thing about this season is that the Chargers moved into their new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, but because of the C-19 lockdown, they were spared the embarrassment of empty seats due to the lack of a fan base.

New York Knicks (fan since 1968)

After two decades of appalling mismanagement and roster missteps, the Knicks now have a some pep in their step and appear to be legit. The team hired no-nonsense head coach, Tom Thibodeau, and drafted talented Obi Toppin (PF) and Immanuel Quickley (PG, photo, second from left) in the first round. Julius Randle (PF) has stepped it up and accepted the leadership role as the young core – R.J. Barrett (SF), Mitch Robinson (C), Kevin Knox (SF), Toppin, and Quickley – continues to gel. The Knicks have started the season 4-3 and I really like what I see.

RIT Tigers (fan since 2009)

The Rochester Institute of Technology had initially called off its 2020-21 hockey season due to C-19, but then reconsidered. The pandemic continues to play havoc within the Atlantic Conference and schedules are constantly in flux, but Coach Wayne Wilson and the Tigers are currently 4-4-2.

San Diego Padres (fan since 1970)

I was happy that the Padres finished 37-23 and advanced past St. Louis in their NLWC series, but was disappointed after they were swept by the Dodger$ in the NLDS. General Manager, A.J. Preller, made some bold moves in the off-season by trading for pitching aces, Blake Snell, from Tampa and Yu Darvish from the Cubbies. Preller also signed Korean star infielder, Ha-Seong Kim. The upcoming 2021 season looks very bright for Fernando Tatis Jr. (photo, fourth from left) and the Padres.

Postscript: Following professional and/or college sports is a consuming passion for a vast number of Americans. Many Christian athletes use their platform to bring glory to God, and that’s a good thing. There are also excellent life lessons to be culled regarding teamwork, dedication, self-discipline, and perseverance. Apostle Paul used the analogy of athletes in his first epistle to the Corinthians. But the bottom line is that professional and college sports are dollar-driven, entertainment industries. Secular pastimes and interests are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, but they become so when we prioritize them above the Lord and His Kingdom.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Go Padres! NL Wild Card Series begins tonight

Yup, the COVID-19 pandemic has played absolute havoc here in America and around the world. The nation began to hunker down in mid-March as the virus spread. Quarantine restrictions were imposed inconsistently as government officials in the various regions of the country weighed the public health risk versus economic health. Businesses have cut back or closed altogether and millions of people have been laid off or terminated. The death toll continues to rise despite those who imprudently call the pandemic a hoax: 206,000 deaths have been attributed to C-19 in the U.S.A. to date. If the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, we also had the BLM protests accompanied by looting and destruction in many cities.

Amidst those kinds of significant and challenging circumstances, professional sports were/are hardly a priority, but many hoped the pro leagues could put together some type of package, if only to bring a little “normalcy” back to the very chaotic situation.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association hammered out a plan for a shortened, 60-game season and play began back on July 24th in empty stadiums.

I was optimistic for my San Diego Padres. Free agent pickup, Manny Machado, definitely didn’t live up to his hype in 2019, but Padres fans were hopeful he would return to form as one of MLB’s premier players. Fernando Tatis Jr. was on his way to the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year, until an injury felled him in August. And I was once again hopeful that previous free agent pickups, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, would finally get their heads on straight.

The abbreviated season and expanded playoff format meant just about every team had a shot if they could sustain a few hot streaks. Well my friends, the Padres put together quite a season and finished 37-23, the third-best record in MLB behind only the L.A. Dodger$ and the Tampa Bay Rays. Tatis SS was a shoe-in for NL MVP until he slowed down in August. However, Machado 3B stepped it up with a back-end NL MVP performance. Hosmer 1B played very well and many fans are thinking about Myers RF for Comeback Player of the Year for his excellent season. Rookie Jake Cronenworth 2B was a delightful surprise for the first 30 games, although he cooled off. After a slow start, Jurickson Profar LF settled in and finished the season as the hottest hitter on the roster. Young Trent Grisham did a nice job at CF. Big bat, Mitch Moreland 1B, was a late-season acquisition for the DH slot, but hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Starting pitchers, Dinelson Lamet and Zach Davies had excellent seasons, although Garrett Richards and especially projected-ace, Chris Paddack, disappointed. The Padres acquired Cleveland Indians ace, Mike Clevinger, in late August to shore up the rotation.

With their impressive 37-23 record and their 2nd-place finish behind the Dodger$ in the NL West, the Padres earned the 4th seed in the playoffs and will face the 5th seed St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-three series beginning tonight, 5 p.m. ET.

The last time the Padres were in the playoffs was…hold onto your hats…2006. The biggest concern for the Padres going into the series will be the recent nagging injuries to Lamet (biceps) and Clevinger (elbow).

If Lamet and/or Clevinger can’t pitch, the Padres would need a huge break. Can the big bats (Machado, Tatis, Myers, Hosmer) and the relief staff rise to the occasion?

Be like Mike?

Outside of limited trips to the neighborhood grocery store, most of us have largely been stuck at home during the past eight weeks due to the pandemic lockdown. I’m a reader, so to keep myself occupied, I downloaded six ebooks and bought two hard-copy, used books from Amazon third-party sellers. Many people have whiled away the surplus hours by binge-watching movies and series on Netflix, Amazon, or other streaming services. In the midst of this high demand for home entertainment, somebody at ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) timed it perfectly with the release of “The Last Dance,” a ten-part documentary, which focuses on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team during their heyday in the 1990s. The first two episodes premiered on April 19th followed by the release of two additional episodes each of the next four Sunday nights.

Sports-starved American males (and undoubtedly some females) are captivated by this series. ESPN previously had good success with its “30 for 30” series about interesting sports stories, but “The Last Dance” documentary has to be shattering all kinds of audience records.

Michael Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984 to 1993 and 1995 to 1998, leading the team to six NBA championships in that span, and is arguably one of the top-three sports icons of modern times. That very short short-list also includes Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. What made Jordan so good? Not only was he blessed with extraordinary athletic ability, he was also driven to be the very best.

In his push to win championships, Jordan took no prisoners. He even savagely bullied his own teammates. This series provides many unflinching and sometimes even painfully revealing insights into Jordan’s and the Bull’s rise to the top of the National Basketball Association.

A massive advertising campaign once encouraged all of us to “Be like Mike.” The man still enjoys worldwide fame and adulation to a degree that few others have known.

After having watched the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” this past Sunday night, I was doing my morning walk through the neighborhood and listening via earbuds to a sermon from John MacArthur regarding the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Argh! It struck me how VASTLY different the teachings and example of Jesus Christ are compared to the values of this world as exemplified by the adulation accorded to Michael Jordan. I’m not privy to Jordan’s spiritual beliefs. The man has kept his religious views, if any, so private despite thirty-six years of media scrutiny that they frustrate any and every google search. However, it doesn’t appear from the many interviews and behind-the-scenes segments in this series that Michael knows and loves the Lord.

I don’t want to be like Mike, I want to be like Jesus Christ.

Postscript: Featured in one of the episodes is a quip from Larry Bird in a press interview immediately after 23-year-old, Michael Jordan, scored 63 points in a playoff loss to Bird’s Boston Celtics on April 20, 1986. “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan,” said the exasperated Bird. Ach. That’s going WAY too far, Larry!

Odds and Ends

I’m a nerdy blogger and part of being a nerdy blogger is scheduling out my posts a couple of weeks ahead of time. I usually have 8-12 drafts in the queue that I’ll occasionally fiddle with and fine-tune before they’re finally published. I use a two-week, revolving “blog plan” sheet to keep it all straight and at the bottom of the sheet, I jot down ideas for new posts. I’ve accumulated a number of frivolous-type ideas that just keep getting pushed aside week after week, so I thought I’d finally publish them as a collection of “odds and ends” in a rare Sunday post:

Hot Sauce

Capture101Buffalo Chicken Wings are THE THING here in Western New York. Many, many years ago, I used to cook up my own wings in a mini-fryer and serve them with the standard Buffalo sauce – Frank’s Red Hot and melted butter – with Blue Cheese dressing on the side as a dip. I eventually created my own sauce concept, mixing Frank’s with Ranch dressing (heartier Ranch dressing actually tastes better than Blue Cheese in this combo) and eliminating the need for dip. I recently discovered something very similar to my old sauce at Tops supermarket; Creamy Ranch Buffalo Wing Sauce made by Moore’s Marinades and Sauces down in Birmingham, Alabama. Good stuff! But chicken wings are definitely not part of a healthy diet plan (just one fried chicken wing has about 100 calories and 7 grams of fat).

Trite sayings

Trite sayings come and go. At one time, EVERYONE was repeating the dismissive, “Whatever,” and the incredulous, “Really?” A decade ago, I sat near a woman at work who regularly used the annoyingly fatalistic phrase, “It is what it is.” She must have said that five or six times a day, every day!!!

New Yorkers – Hurry Up and Wait

We New Yorkers are notorious for being punctual to a fault. Twenty-years ago, our little family went on a 3-day cruise in the Caribbean. On the last day of the cruise, all passengers were told to report to the ship’s auditorium at 9 a.m. sharp for disembarkation instructions. We got there at about 8:45 along with a few other families. The ship’s officer in charge of the disembarkation was standing on stage and knowingly asked if we were all from New York. Here in New York, if a customer gets a little too friendly and chatty with the clerk at the grocery checkout, the rest of the people in line start going crazy. Or what about the older women at the checkout who always insist on meticulously picking out the exact change from their circa-1960, little change purse. It’s 2020! Get a debit card, ladies! Ach. We New Yorkers can be very impatient fools.

Walking in Winter

One of my fitness goals is to walk 10,000 steps every day, although I’m actually averaging only about 8K/day currently. It’s very difficult and dangerous walking in Rochester during the Winter with all of the snow and ice on the roads and the freezing temperatures. I’ve slipped and slid many times, but haven’t fallen. Yet. I need to seriously think about an alternative on bad days, like driving to the mall and doing my walking inside. My sister’s elderly mother-in-law was hit by a USPS truck and seriously injured while exercise-walking in the street during the Winter.

Sports teams

The last time I wrote about one of my sports teams was October 1st, when I was whining about the end of another terrible season by the San Diego Padres. What’s going on with my other favorite teams? After a very encouraging 12-4 record in 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers (football) sank like a rock in 2019, going 5-11. The Bolts have finally turned the page on 38-year-old QB, Philip Rivers. The New York Knicks (basketball) weren’t able to sign any marquee free agents in the offseason. After an abysmal start, Knicks management fired head coach, David Fizdale, and the team is currently limping along with a 17-38 record at the All-Star break, on its way to another atrocious finish. In contrast, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers (hockey) have put together a very decent 17-11-4 season to this point and seem to be on their way to the conference playoffs in early-March as a top-seed. Meanwhile, the Padres are currently going through the motions in the Cactus League in preparation for what figures to be another sub-.500 season. The first spring training game is slated for this coming Saturday, February 22nd, against Seattle.

New Yorkers Redux

A U.S. Census report published in December showed that New York State is once again leading all other states in net population loss. The exodus is especially manifest here in Western New York. The region was once an economic powerhouse, and taxes spiraled through the roof to keep pace with the growth and development. Fifty-years later, the manufacturing jobs are pretty much gone, but the outrageously high taxes remain. Bureaucracy, once created, will fight tooth and claw to ensure its survival. Besides the economic miasma, we get more snow here than any other region in the country. No company would consider moving here. When students graduate from the local colleges, they must leave the region to find work.