Oct 17, 2008

Wow! What a comeback!

Last night I witnessed the largest comeback by a team facing elimination in a baseball postseason. My boys from Beantown came back from seven runs down with seven outs left in the season to win it in the bottom of the ninth. I started the night with the guys from my Top Gun group at church. About 7:15, my brother sent me a text message complaining that the Rays had already hit a two-run hr in the top of the first. This was the pattern the last three games - the Rays getting out to an early lead with the long ball. We finished our group early and headed off to Buffalo Wild Wings to get a bite and watch the movie. On the way my brother sent another text complaining that the Sox struck out with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the second. I sent a simple text back - "Come back in the 7th, my prediction."

As I got into BWW, I saw the hr by Pena and Longoria to make it 5-0 Rays. Then after heading home, I got there in time to see Francona bring in Papelbon in the top of the 7th with two on. B.J. Upton hit a double to make it 7-0 Rays and all hope seemed lost. However, I had a good feeling about the bottom of the 7th. My brother, on the other hand, took some Tylenol PM and went to bed.

Then...the Fenway magic kicked back in. Pedroia came up with runners on 1st and 3rd and roped a single to right. Then Big Papi jacked a low fastball into the right field bleachers ending a 61 at bat streak in the postseason without a hr. 7-4 Rays. Papelbon shut down the Rays in the top of the 8th. Bottom of the 8th - Jason Bay (the guy who we got for Manny who has done way more this postseason than Manny did last) walked.

My boy J.D. Drew came up and slammed a fastball over the right field fence. 7-6 Rays. Fenway was going ape! You just started getting that feeling. I was sending my brother messages but getting no response. Then Mark Kotsay laced a double over center field. Coco Crisp fouled off 6 pitches in a 10 pitch ab before lacing a single to right. Ball game tied! I sat in my living room laughing my head off at what I was seeing. Never count the Red Sox out, especially at Fenway.

Masterson got Pena to ground into a dp to end the top of the 9th. Bottom of the ninth, Pedroia grounds to short, Papi strikes out, Youk fouls off several pitches and then grounds one to potential gold glove third baseman Evan Longoria. Bad throw! Youk to second. Bay intentionally walked. Now comes up the 8th inning hero and new Boston icon J.D. Drew. Drew laces a ball over Gabe Gross in right! Red Sox win! Ball Game! Back to Tampa!

It was a great ballgame to witness. Don't know if my Sox will win game 6 tomorrow night or the series. I like our chances with Beckett and Lester. Whatever the case, the Red Sox reminded me again why I love them so. I've seen this too many times in the last 5 years. Hopefully they can keep their momentum going and get a big lead in Topicana Field. Either way, thanks Red Sox for another magical night. Best part about it was when my brother called me in the bottom of the 8th asking me "Dude what happened? Am I dreaming this?"

Oct 16, 2008

I'm the guy who passed up on...

Let me tell you one of those interesting/funny/I wish I hadn't done that kind of story that will forever haunt me in ministry. It was early Spring of 1994 or 1995. I was the Minister of Students at First Baptist Church of Greenwood, MS - a sprawling metropolis in the Mississippi Delta. FBC ran about 350-400 people on Sunday morning on a good day. I had about 35 good core kids in my ministry and had been there a little over a year and was starting to see some good momentum. I always had a vision to do some kind of big community rally/concert to reach kids in the area. I had a budget that would fit on a toothpick, but big dreams of that one rally that would see hundreds of kids show up and dozens of students prostrate on the floor confessing their sins of smoking, drinking, and sleeping with their girlfriend (mostly like their parents were doing...just kidding)

Anyway, I had picked up the debut CD of Jars of Clay and it was hotter than a MS Delta summer night. All my kids loved it. Jars had just won the New Artist Spotlight at some Christian gig and were playing all the major summer concert circuits. I thought "What the heck." and called their manager to see what it would take to get them to come and do a concert in my town. Their agent told me that their booking fee was something like $7500 which was almost my whole youth budget. He also said they weren't booking anything smaller than a certain size venue which shot me down like a quail on opening day. "However," the agent said, "I do have another band I think you would like." He went on to tell me about this new band he had signed made up of a bunch of young guys who were former youth workers. He said they had a good rock/country sound. He said these guys had a real heart for ministry and the local church. They were down to earth, regular guys who liked to play music. He even said these words, "I think they will be bigger than Jars of Clay one day." I thought "What a great sales pitch. No way. Jars were fresh and hot. He was giving me the old sales line and I wasn't buying." He then told me I could have this band come and play for $1500 and a hotel. He was sending me a CD.

I told him that I would listen to the CD, but that I really had my heart set on a big time concert and that I just didn't think a no-name band would work. He sent me the CD and I thought it was a great sound. So did the kids in my youth ministry. However, at the end of the day I couldn't figure out how to get the money and didn't think anyone would come to the concert so I passed. That group later on went to win 3 Grammy awards and 22 Dove Awards including 4 times for Group of the Year and Artist of the Year. (What a bonehead!)

Late at night I still sit up during SportsCenter commercials and berate myself for being the doufus youth minister who passed up of booking...

Third Day

...for $1500 because I couldn't make it work. (Go ahead...have a laugh...sometimes that's all you can do.)

Oct 5, 2008

You gotta go see this movie!

Oct 1, 2008

What a great day...Postseason without the Yankees

Today is the first day of the Major League Baseball postseason. As it begins, the Red Sox are in and the Yankees are...out. For the first time since 1995 Major League Baseball will play the second season without the Yankees. It feels so strange to watch baseball without having two teams to root for, the Red Sox and whatever team is playing the Yankees. It's the first time that Derek Jeter has not made the playoffs and been playing baseball in October. Now I hate the Yankees and will shed no tears for their demise but I must admit that I like Jeter and somehow it doesn't feel like playoffs without Jeter's postseason play.

I have long felt like the Yankees were the best team that money could buy. They filled their roster every year with the latest high-priced free agents and sacrificed young talent for the desire to win now. It paid off for a while, but since 2000 it has not produced any significant postseason results. One of the best books I have ever read is Buster Olney's "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty". In it he cronicles the greed and poor management that the Yankees displayed during their World Series run from 1996-2000. However, when Luis Gonzales blooped that beautiful hit into left center in 2001, the Yankee slide began. They continued to pound the baseball offensively and make the playoffs, but their lack of pitching depth was masked by high priced free agents like Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, and Randy Johnson. They continued to be beaten every year by teams taht had enough pitching to win a seven game series.

Now the Red Sox are the banner team for MLB. They have developed a first-class farm system that has produced youngters like Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jed Lowrie. These youngters have carried the team the last couple of years. They have struggled a little more than I want this year. The Angels and the Rays look much better than the Red Sox at this point. The Red Sox have been ravaged with injuries to stallwarts Curt Schilling, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew. Big Papi missed a lot of the early season and continues to play with a torn tendon sheath that pops and causes discomfort. The Sox were forced to get rid of a cancerous relationship with Manny Ramirez this year. In doing so, they got rid of one of the best clutch hitters in baseball. The Sox picked up Jason Bay who has been awesome so far, but Varitek has struggled all year and the clutch hitting behind Ortiz has not been there.

So the postseaon begins...time to see if the character and fight of the Red Sox will prevail or if they are just overmatched. Right now it's 0-0 in the third inning in Anaheim. Let's go Red Sox!