Sports
The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

The Freedom to Fail Before a Benevolent King…or “Prince”

Yes, that’s Prince holding a scepter while watching Rafael Nadal play at the French Open this past weekend. Larry David rocked a cape in a Seinfeld episode, but it didn’t catch on. I’m not holding out hope for the scepter as a fashion accessory fad, but I’m kind of rooting for it. Best line in the USA Today article? – “Meanwhile, the folks at Prince, the tennis equipment company, looked at Prince watching tennis and couldn’t believe they never made this connection before.” Nadal seemed to respond well to the presence of “royalty”, making quick work of his opponent in…

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The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

Last week, as I watched 3 of my beloved TV series have their season finales – “The Good Wife” (the best show not talked about much on Mockingbird–there, I said it) “The Americans” (best 2-season binge watch currently available) and “Survivor” (the original reality show competition, accept no substitute) – it struck me that we’re entering the summer season. It’s the time of year when we go to our blu rays, On Demands, Redboxes, and Netflix to catch up on films we’ve been meaning to see, but have not because we have been too busy just trying to keep up…

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Russell Westbrook and the Arc of Expectation

Russell Westbrook and the Arc of Expectation

This week, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been trounced in the two opening games of the Western Conference Finals, losing on Monday by 17 and on Wednesday by a whopping 35. Down 2-0 in the series and without injured starter Serge Ibaka, the Thunder will most likely be eliminated by the Spurs. Perhaps in an effort to celebrate the Thunder before their season ends, Brian Philips of Grantland wrote a brilliant piece on Wednesday about the career trajectory of Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

Philips meditates on the perceptions of Westbrook’s unorthodox style of play. Early in his career, basketball…

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Grace…for Donald Sterling?

Grace…for Donald Sterling?

If I step on and smash an acorn, have I killed an oak tree? If I answer yes, I’m implying that the acorn has the full capacity and possesses all of the attributes necessary to one day become an oak tree. In its present form, it would be correct to say that the acorn is in a latent (not fully realized) capacity status. The human heart also has (admittedly metaphysical) latent capacities – capacities for both God-shaped goodness and unspeakable evil. Usually, much of this unrealized potential stays unrealized. Few of us act on every good or evil impulse. However,…

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Of ACLs, Tommy Johns, and “One Fine Day”

Of ACLs, Tommy Johns, and “One Fine Day”

In 2012, University of South Carolina running back Marcus Latimore was on pace to become the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, before being derailed by an (anterior cruciate ligament) “ACL” tear in his knee. In 2013, University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was on the same path as Latimore, before also going down with an ACL. Both players were potential first round, ten million dollar NFL draft picks. Both were picked in the 5th round – Latimore by the 49ers, Murray by the Chiefs. The prognosis going forward is not quite as good for Latimore (he has torn his…

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Imagination, Anticipation, and our National Pastime(s)

Imagination, Anticipation, and our National Pastime(s)

My mother burst through my bedroom door after she heard a loud BANG! and the splintering of wood. “What did you do?!?” She always assumed it was me (with good reason). It was 1972. I was standing in the middle of my bedroom with my “Bobby Bonds” autographed wooden bat in hand – assuming Willie McCovey’s (semi-patented) two handed windmill stance. It was the bottom of the 9th, one on, two out, (future Hall-of-Famer) McCovey in the left-handed batter’s box, Giants down 3-2 to the much-hated Dodgers. That was McCovey’s wheelhouse, he ALWAYS came through in that moment. Sure enough,…

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The Anatomy of an Athlete

The Anatomy of an Athlete

If you haven’t read Sarah Condon’s “Coming to Terms with the American Hero Fix” in the premier issue of The Mockingbird magazine, PLEASE do yourself a favor and partake.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I had considered writing about “Boston Strong” this week – the Boston Marathon had resumed last week one year after the bombings.  The ESPN Boston Strong feature in April was tear jerking.  Sarah’s words haunted me though, and gave me pause.   The “Boston Strong” campaign just leaps off the page with glorious inspiration.  How do we not tip our caps to a city that shuts…

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Waving the Freak Flag in the Face of Playing the Game the “Right Way”

Waving the Freak Flag in the Face of Playing the Game the “Right Way”

One of my favorite missionary stories is told by Peter Letchford, a 95 year-old long time British missionary to Zambia, who relayed an exchange he had in the 1940s with a newly converted tribal chief. “The chief came to me with his newly translated bible in hand and a perplexed look on his face. It was open to Ephesians 5.  ‘Peter, please tell me how do I love all five of my wives like Christ loves his church?’, he asked”. It’s always fascinating to watch how the gospel speaks into a “not conveniently Western/American” cultural context. Peter simply smiled and said,…

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When “Idiot” Became a Term of Endearment

When “Idiot” Became a Term of Endearment

When I was in college (many years ago) I was driving with a friend and someone cut us off in traffic.  I called the guy an idiot – because that’s just what people who cut you off in traffic are.   My friend chastised me for the comment – “you know Jesus said that if you call someone an ‘idiot’ (Matt. 5:22) you won’t be able to escape the fires of hell, right?”  Yikes!  That little lecture from my friend has stuck with me for over 30 years.  I always (kind of) cringe when that word comes out of my mouth,…

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On Tiger Woods Becoming His “Own Ragged Company”

On Tiger Woods Becoming His “Own Ragged Company”

“Golf is a good walk spoiled” – Mark Twain

Indeed.

In the “Tiger/Phil Debate”, I’ve always been a Phil guy.  My reasoning is a tad lame.  I like Phil Mickelson because he’s left-handed (like me) and because he has a propensity for those Tin Cup type shots from bodily crevices heretofore not defined (in all of the good and bad ways).   However, Tiger Woods is growing on me because he’s becoming (whether he likes it or not) increasingly human – and correspondingly, increasingly rootable.

Tiger pulled out of this week’s Masters Tournament (and at least the first half of the 2014 season)…

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“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

“That’s not a Catch!”: The Fallible Official and the Demand for Justice

Major League Baseball finally “got with the ’90’s” this week, as it saw it’s first coach’s (manager’s) challenge, on an 0ut/safe call, in league history.    There has long been a debate within the sport over whether or not to slow down an already leisurely paced game by instituting a challenge system similar to what has been used for years in the NFL and other professional sports.  Despite the objections of some baseball purists, beginning this season, managers can challenge out/safe, fair/foul, catch/no catch calls.

In March 28th’s New York Times “Gray Matter” column, Brayden King points out that (oddly) the…

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The New “Curse of the Bambino”

The New “Curse of the Bambino”

While getting an annual physical yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice all of the little inspirational quotes that had been meticulously typed, printed, cut out, and taped generously throughout the lab technician’s office.  Some were quite good – you can’t go wrong with MLK or JFK.  I have to admit that when I walked out of there, after having had blood drawn amidst a sea of “you can do it’s”, I was ready to charge hell with a squirt gun – or at least charge less squeamishly into the next “less fun” parts of the physical.

One of the quotes I…

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“Bracketology”, the Big Dance, and the Quest for Perfection

“Bracketology”, the Big Dance, and the Quest for Perfection

Warren Buffett has given away more money that one thousand of us can give away in one thousand lifetimes, but now he’s just getting bored. Buffett is offering one billion (with a b) dollars for a “perfect NCAA bracket”. Apparently, a perfect bracket has never been accomplished in the 64 team era. The odds of achieving the perfect bracket are in the quintillions (with a q, and a lot of zeros). That’s not stopping tens of millions of people from filling out Buffett’s bracket – hey it’s free! I’ve got mine in there and I’ve got a pretty good feeling,…

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Blown Knees, Thwarted Plans, and the Wounds of Grace

Blown Knees, Thwarted Plans, and the Wounds of Grace

In his sermon on Genesis 32, Tim Keller defines “wounds of grace” as “the chronic physical limitations that a person endures after wrestling all night (literally or figuratively) with the living God and living to tell about it”. In this chapter, Jacob wrestles with “an Angel of the Lord” or “a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ” (as some have inferred). As a result, Jacob walks with a limp for the rest of his life.

These wounds come in various forms and levels of severity, and without exception, wrestling (figuratively) with God involves an altercation. In that altercation, we see ourselves for who we…

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Mining Netflix: A Baller’s Sanctification in Linsanity

Mining Netflix: A Baller’s Sanctification in Linsanity

You didn’t have to be a basketball fan to know what “Linsanity” was in 2012, you just needed a pulse. When an athlete like Jeremy Lin surfaces, the whole world can’t help but oogle for a minute or two. Jeremy Lin, undoubtedly, earned the rights to that cagey nickname because, plainly, “insanity” was the only way to describe the speed of light metamorphosis that reshaped his NBA career.

As a member of the globally renowned New York Knicks, Lin reached a Rudy-like prestige, only unlike Rudy, Lin was actually good. Jeremy’s openness about his faith was a proverbial cherry atop his…

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