Saturday, November 27, 2010
Here is a list of answers to some of life's puzzling questions --
1. In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
2. Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
3. A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
4. “Hang On Sloopy” is the official rock song of Ohio.
5. The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
6. Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts - Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
7. An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.
8. The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.
9. Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
10. The Bible has been translated into Klingon.
These are just some of the marvelous answers the world has to offer. :-) They're great answers if you're playing Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy but they're not much help when your life is in jeopardy. They're not much help if you need guidance in a relationship or forgiveness for something that broke that relationship. And they're not much help when you begin to question the purpose and meaning of life...or even when you begin to question whether life as we know it is all that there is.
There are signs of the presence of God everywhere -- every time someone reaches out to care for someone else...every time the poor and hungry are fed and cared for...every time a missionary doctor brings healing to those who are hurting...every time a child smiles and laughs because they know they are loved...every time another Habitat House is started or completed...it is a sign of God's presence. But, we often miss them, because we aren't looking with the eyes of faith. God chose what is foolish to shame the wise. God chose what is weak to shame the strong. God chose the lowly so that we couldn't boast about anything but Christ Jesus and the grace, redemption and forgiveness we have experienced through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I believe that God laughs joyously every time the foolishness of the cross changes someone's life...or gives someone hope...or heals someone's wounds...or lifts someone's burdens. Thank you, Lord, that your foolishness is far greater than our wisdom! (1 Corinthians 1:18ff)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Well...I always seem to be about a week ahead of myself with these football messages. I pondered the state of the Titans last week, wondering what was wrong, and...voila! The latest and greatest struggle between coach Jeff Fisher and qb Vince Young hath boiled over. This is probably what was simmering last week. The amazing thing is that no one has heard a peep out of Randy Moss, which is probably a good thing. Nonetheless, coach and qb had a blowup of epic proportions following the Titans overtime loss to the Redskins Sunday with Young walking out of the team locker room, saying, "I am walking out...not on the team, but on the coach." This kind of insubordination is intolerable, but there seems to be some deep rooted angst involved on both sides of this dispute. Young had injured his thumb on his throwing hand late in the game and the coach pulled him out. Now, this whole matter is convoluted, because Young wanted to go back into the game even though his thumb was damaged, but Fisher stuck with untested rookie, Rusty Smith, instead, and the Titans ended up losing the game. The Titans placed their starting qb on injured reserve, Monday, so he is no longer available for the rest of the season. This move begs the question -- did they place Young in the IR because he is truly seriously injured, or is it a followup to the coach's threat that Young would not start for the Titans again this season? One still has to admire Young's courage for wanting to be on the field trying to lead his team to a win, especially given that his toughness has been questioned in the past.
That there has been friction between Fisher and Young, there is no question. Young has been somewhat problematic since he has been with the Titans. He spent the first several games of last season in Jeff Fisher's doghouse and on his bench, only to come back and nearly lead them to the playoffs after they started 0-6. Fisher also benched his two time pro-bowl QB early this year for some reason and started veteran Kerry Collins. All Young has done is lead the Titans to 30-17 record when he has started, which is pretty good. I think there is enough blame to go around, but I put the greatest blame on the coach who just doesn't seem to like his star qb. Some will say that head coaches don't need to be psychologists, and that may be true, but I don't think they need to be as clearly antagonistic as Fisher has been with Young, either. It is all probably water under the bridge, because it is unlikely that coach and qb are going to be able to coexist any longer. The real question is -- will owner, Bud Adams, let his long-tenured coach walk away, as he has been publicly supportive of Young...or will he trade or cut the volatile qb, the leader of his team? It will be interesting to see how it goes, especially since Adams has said that both of them are going to work it out and continue to work together. Okay.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys won their second straight under new coach Jason Garrett during NFL week 11, although they will have a stiff test on Thanksgiving against the Saints. The Jets are the new cardiac kids of the NFL, as they found another way to win a game in the last few minutes for the third week in a row. They could just as easily be 5-5, instead of 8-2, but as the saying goes...good teams create their own luck. This appears to be the case with the Jets. The Jets main division rival, the Patriots, held off the Colts in their annual battle of the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Tom Brady has been on a roll of late, and he played better than Peyton Manning, who literally threw away an opportunity for the Colts to tie the game near the end of regulation. Manning threw a senseless interception when they could have made a relatively easy field goal to put the game into overtime. I think Peyton Manning is a great guy and very good quarterback, but he is going to have to overcome his late game "Favre-like" picks that keep his team from succeeding (see last season's Super Bowl).
Speaking of Favre -- wherefore art thou? He is playing, but he looks like a shell of his former (last season's) self. The Vikings were dismantled by the Packers, 31-3, and it cost head coach Brad Childress, his job. This disturbs me in multiple ways, and I am not certain which aspect disturbs me most(?) Childress led his team to the NFC Championship game last year and were just a couple of plays away from the Super Bowl (thanks to Favre), but this year, the Vikings are 3-7 (mostly thanks to Favre), and so the coach pays the price...doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The other thing that bothers me is that it seems that some of the Vikings layed down and didn't give the full effort this past Sunday...much like the Cowboys seemed to do under former coach Wade Phillips when star qb Romo went down. Do these multi-millionaire players really need further motivation to get up for a game...other than the fact that they should love the game they play? Some of them are -- either just drawing a paycheck, or wanting to get rid of a coach that they don't like...or both. I think that the wealth of riches contributes to a general malaise when things are not going well...and such weakness affects not only sports, but the entirety of our society. I am not certain what the solution is. I feel bad for Childress...even though he made some mistakes, for certain. At the same time, I don't feel bad for Fisher. Funny game isn't it?
P.S. An article in AOL Fanhouse today concerning the Lions provides some credence to the above argument...unfortunately. I don't want to see the game I love become a joke...wiser heads and good leaders, hopefully, will prevail.
Monday, November 22, 2010
It has been a challenging couple of weeks dealing with the illness of a young friend, culminating in her passing last evening. Jamika was at the Foster's Home for Children for a little over a year until July of this year. No one is really certain how or why Jamika ended up her condition for the past few weeks -- in a coma and on a machine to keep her lungs and kidneys operating -- and we will probably never truly know why these circumstances took place. The Lord understands these matters, and it is enough that we understand this -- there is peace in knowing that He is in control. There were a number of people who ministered to her mother from the church and from the Foster's Home, and this was much appreciated. We are also grateful for those who cared for her at the hospital and sought to help her to heal.
We had a special memorial service for her this evening that was attended by about 50 church members, Foster's Home folks and others from the community. We cried and we laughed...it was good for all of us. We will all miss Jamika, and we are happy that the Lord brought her into our lives...even if only for a brief time. She was a vivacious youth who changed dramatically in the time that she was with us...and for this, we are thankful. We will, likewise, be different...changed for the better because of our association with her.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Here is an interesting shot from the International Space Station of city lights along the Gulf Coast. Immediately below the left wing of the station is the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi delta peninsula of Louisiana, albeit from a sideways perspective (about 110 degrees from horizontal). Below it are the cities of Beaumont, TX, and Houston TX (at the very bottom).
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Well...sort of. Michael Vick has been around for several years. Most folks know his story. Yet, last night was the arrival of "the new Michael Vick" it would seem, as he led the Eagles to a 59-28 thrashing of the Redskins. After his release from prison a couple of years ago, Michael Vick signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles to be Donovan McNabb's backup. He played sparingly last year and showed signs of a QB that had been out of action for a couple of years...but, there were also flashes of brilliance -- a long bomb against the Cowboys alerted Eagles coaches that there might be still be some flash. They believed in him enough to bring him back this year, albeit as new starter, Kevin Kolb's, backup. Yet, when Kolb sustained a concussion early in the season, Vick was pressed into action...and boy, did he act! He played very well...so well, in fact, that when Kolb came back, the starting QB position was no longer his, but Vick's. Vick was always a good runner -- a la Randall Cunningham and Steve Young -- before he was incarcerated...and he could make some good passes, although not consistently. Yet, as of Monday, November 15th, 2010, he has arrived. Vick has now become the most dangerous player in the NFL. Why? He has learned a pocket presence. He no longer runs first and passes as an afterthought. Now, he stands in the pocket and looks for his talented young receivers, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. As he proved against the Redskins, when there is no pass to be made, he can find the hole and scramble for the yards he needs. In short, he has become a complete player. Barring a set back or injury, Vick might not only carry his Eagles into the playoffs, but all the way to the Super Bowl. It will be interesting to watch it all unfold.
In another coming out party of sorts, it appears that the Cowboys may not be dead just yet.
Is it too late to make the playoffs? Probably. But, Jason Garrett's arrival as Dallas' coach, appears to be something like what the doctor ordered for a team that was lackluster. After a week of challenging practices in pads and an upgraded dress code, it appears that Mr. Garrett is already putting his stamp on the team. Some might say that the Cowboys were just playing for pride against the Giants Sunday...but, if this was the case, what about their "pride" the week before or the week before that... I don't necessarily think that the Cowboys are going to win out, but I do believe that they are going to respectable, which is something that they were not for the first half of the season.
There were a number of upsets in week 9. The Giants, Steelers, Chiefs, Titans, Ravens all were supposed to win, but ended up losing. Ahh...you just have to love the unpredictable NFL. The Eagles were not the only team to ring up 35 unanswered points in the first half of a game this past weekend, the Broncos also did so against an apparently "unsuspecting" Chiefs team. Denver went on to win 49-29, and judging from Chief's coach Todd Haley's post game snub of the obligatory handshake with Josh McDaniels, it would appear that Mr. Haley was none too happy with the game's proceedings. Oh well, they will meet again...and what goes around usually comes around. The Patriots looked like the world beaters of a few years ago by soundly beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 39-26. I have to say that I took a lot of delight in seeing the Steelers be handled so easily, but they will be back another week. Yet, if Tom Brady plays with the fire that he did on Sunday night, New England is going to be an awfully tough team to beat in the AFC. Not sure what happened to the Titans game plan for the Dolphins, but they apparently tossed it out the window. Randy Moss was not much more than a very expensive decoy in his first game with his new team, as he had one catch on four targets. Three other Titans receivers had at least nine targets. Also, coach Jeff Fisher started grizzled veteran, Kerry Collins, over explosive (exploding?) Vince Young, which makes one have to wonder what is going on in that locker room. Collins was injured during the first half and Young ended up playing the second half. For all of the trouble that people were thinking Randy Moss might be for the Tennessee locker room, he may have come into a locker room that was already in turmoil and he may not have had a thing to do with it...imagine that. ;-) Meanwhile, the Dolphins put together a 29-17 victory with three QBs, as fragile Chad Pennington played all of a couple of downs before reinjuring his bad shoulder and was lost for the year. Later, former starter, Chad Henne, suffered an injured leg and appears to be lost for some weeks if not for the year. This left third-string QB, Tyler Thigpen, who played well in relief. Hopefully, he continues to do so, as he is going to be the main guy for the Dolphins behind center for the forseeable future. That's it and that's all for now...on to week 10.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
As is inscribed on a Korean War memorial in Washington D.C., "Freedom is not free." Someone has to pay the price for our liberty. The Veteran's Day holiday, as well as Memorial Day, causes me to just stop and ponder things...and I am thankful for this. It has been good to see all of the wonderful messages on facebook today...what a blessing! I don't think that I could appreciate or understand the concept of sacrifice when I was younger the same as I have come to appreciate it now that I am older. I believe that this simply has to do with experience and maturity. I am grateful that my dad served in the army. He was never in a combat situation, but I have heard him talk about his experiences and it further caused me to be appreciative. Many other people have given their lives in service for our country. I am grateful during this Thanksgiving month for all of the men and women, younger and older, who have served and who are still serving in order to keep our country free from tyranny. It seems that the tyranny is much less definable than in the past, and therefore, I believe it is more dangerous. We need vigilant intelligence and military people to continue to help us in the ways that they do.
At the same time, this day also makes me think about my Savior's sacrifice. I am ever grateful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and for me, in order that I may live forever. As I get older, I believe I better come to understand the concept of sacrifice as it relates to Jesus, as well, and I am also grateful for this. It just makes me consider, once again, that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for all mankind, but efficient only for those who choose to accept it and become His followers. If you are reading this and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, please respond, as I would be happy to communicate with you. Have a blessed day!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Well, I guess I spoke one week too soon concerning the plight of the Bengals. After they lost their fifth game in a row last night to fall to 2-6 on the season, Robin (Chad Ochocinco) seems to have had enough of Batman (Terrell Owens) getting the vast majority of the team's receptions. So, there appears to be trouble in Gotham (Cincinnati). In fact, Owens has been the most targeted receiver in the NFL this year, so there is no mistaking the fact that Bengals QB, Carson Palmer, has been feeling pressure to get T.O. the ball. This was supposed to be the year the Bengals cemented their place atop the AFC North, but they appear to be on course for a disappointing season. Meanwhile, the Steelers and Ravens appear to be their formidable selves...both 6-2. Perhaps the most surprising team in the NFL after week 9 is the fourth team in that division, the Cleveland Browns, who were supposed to be an afterthought. Yet, the Browns, led by surprising rookie Colt McCoy, have defeated the defending Super Bowl champ, Saints and the Patriots, who were 6-1, in successive weekends to improve to 3-5. We'll see if the Browns can keep it up. Their recent history would seem to be working against them...and especially now with news that coach Eric Mangini appears to be tinkering again and may not start McCoy this weekend. Eric...if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
It is a tough time in Cowboyland. After falling to 1-7 following an embarassing Sunday night defeat to the Packers, 45-7, Jerry Jones has chosen to dismiss Wade Phillips as the team's coach. There is no doubt that the team has been underachieving since star QB Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone. It is hard to discern just how much fault lies with Phillips for his lack of toughness and discipline, as there certainly is a significant group of players, primarily on the defense, that quit on him over the past couple of weeks. There is plenty of blame to go around. If we listen to the sportswriters, among many others, they believe that most of the fault should lie with owner/president (and pseudo-general manager) Jerry Jones. A strong case can certainly be made for this. Now, embattled offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, receives an eight game audition for the rest of the 2010 season to prove himself as to whether he should be the Cowboys' long term head coaching solution. There is nowhere to go but up, which should be to his advantage.
The aforementioned Steelers and Ravens, as well as the Saints, Gaints, Packers, Falcons and Chargers continue to roll on. The rejuvenated Michael Vick led the Philadelphia Eagles to an upset win over Peyton Manning's Colts. The Oakland Raiders continue to surprise, winning their third game in a row over the Chiefs to improve to 5-4. The Old Gunslinger (Brett Favre) led another amazing comeback for the Vikings, as Minnesota defeated Arizona 27-24 in OT. The Vikings were down 24-10 with five minutes to go, but Favre did what he has done so may times throughout his career...and passed for a career high 446 yards to boot. Somehow, one has to believe the 3-5 Vikings are going to make some noise this year, before all is said and done...even without Randy Moss. Speaking of Moss, he has signed with the Tennessee Titans. They hope that his ability to stretch the field (pull defenders off of the line of scrimmage) will help to open up the running game for star running back Chris Johnson. If their plans come together, the Titans could be a very dangerous team in the AFC.
The Seahawks have been blown out on consecutive weekends, which makes one wonder what is happening in Coach Carroll's world. Just when it seems the Lions might be turning the corner, they find a terrible way to lose a game to the Jets that they had in the bag, and on top of this, they appear to have lost fragile QB, Matt Stafford, for the year. Finally, I just have to mention the 0-8 Buffalo Bills at the mid-point of the season. Chan Gailey's bunch plays hard and and has been in most games, but just can't get over the hump. I am hoping that they can get a victory and avoid the winless season...and perhaps this will be the week, as they play the Lions. How ironic would that be? :-)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
The Jews bring an argument to Jesus after He has been encouraging the believers about the freedom that they could have in His message. This is one of the most intensive passages in the New Testament (John 8:31-59), but so important for the conviction of the heart. Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (vv. 31b-32, NIV) As earlier in chapter 8, the Jews do not understand Jesus’ message. He is speaking about true, spiritual freedom from sin, while they are still thinking about political freedom (from Rome). Jesus explains that the difference between spiritual freedom and bondage is a matter of whether one is a son or a servant. The servant may live in the house, but he is not part of the family, and cannot be guaranteed a future. And these religious leaders were servants or slaves...but of sin. How could they be set free? Only by the Son whom they do not understand and whom they despise.
These Jews claim to belong to Abraham, but they are very unlike Abraham is critical ways. Their nature is evil…they reject the truth; further, they are seeking to kill Jesus because He speaks the truth. They say that they love God, and they may be well-versed in their religious traditions, but do not understand Jesus or His teachings. Jesus claims that by faith Abraham could see and understand many spiritual concepts that they are unable to comprehend. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac -- a foreshadowing of what would happen with Jesus Himself -- reveals the depth of Abraham’s faith. If only these “proclaimed children” of Abraham's had even a small of amount of that kind of faith, they would understand the truth about Jesus. There is an amazing incongruity to all of this. The worst bondage is the kind that the prisoner himself does not recognize. They may claim to know God and love God, but their hearts are far from Him. The Pharisees and other religious leaders believe that they are free – instead, they are in bondage to their "father," Satan.
These religious leaders cannot refute Jesus’ statement, so they attack Him. This is a proven tactic for debaters -- if one side is losing the debate, it becomes personal. As we come to understand in Jesus' dealings with the Samaritan woman, the Jews considered Samaritans to be second-class citizens. So, for a Jew to be called a Samaritan would be a huge insult, but this is what they say about Jesus...that He must be a Samaritan. They add to the insult by saying that He is demon-possessed. Jesus does not dignify the slurs with an answer…they are dishonoring Him, but He is honoring His Father. He tells them that they will die in their sins, because of their unbelief, still He invites them to trust His Word and “never see death.” They understand that Jesus is claiming to be God by proclaiming Himself “Lord over death”…and this convinces many of them, further, that He has a demon. Jesus’ final statement in v.58, “Before Abraham was…I am” is powerful and divine, another affirmation of His divine Sonship. The Jewish leaders receive it as such, and seek to kill Him, but Jesus is able to slip away, since it is not yet His time.
I had the opportunity to participate in a men’s retreat several years ago. At the beginning of the retreat, the leaders gave each one of us a softball sized rock to carry around for the entirety of the weekend. Predictably, the rock became a burden…and a burden it was supposed to be, physically and symbolically. We were to write any sins that we were struggling with on the rock, which once again, signified the burden that our sin had on us. At the end of the retreat, we all took our rocks out to an open area and tossed them into a large open grave. After we all had relieved ourselves of our burden, each of us took scoops of dirt and buried them…a poignant moment. What a relief it was to be set free from the burden…both physical and spiritual.
This is what Jesus came in order to do -- set us free from our burden. From the Garden of Eden, humans have had the burden of sin weighing them down. Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and then raised from the dead so that He could take that burden from us and set us free. If only the Jewish leaders had taken up Jesus’ offer. But, the most difficult people to win are those who do not realize that they have a need…and the Jewish leaders were altogether self-sufficient. It is remarkable how many people…how many believers, even…choose to continue to carry their burdens around rather than be set free and to live free in Christ. The greatest prison is one without bars…it is an unrepentant heart. When people stay in such a state for long, they become desensitized to their struggle and to sin and cannot see Jesus. This was the case with the Jewish religious leaders. We have every opportunity to choose freedom and choose life. We can allow Jesus to tear the bars away and live in our hearts.
Friday, November 5, 2010
A spacecraft, Deep Impact, that was used to track and photograph a comet five years ago was awakened from its slumber in order to capture some fascinating shots from about 435 miles away of another comet, Hartley 2, that is approximately 2.9 billion miles away. Not to be confused with Halley's comet, Hartley's is much smaller, only 1.2 miles in length, as opposed to Halley's which is several times larger. The comet, which has a unique bow tie shape, emits jets of ice and dust off of either end, but is remarkably smooth in its central section.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
This past Sunday had to be one of the strangest for the National Football League in recent memory. Two of its more storied franchises, the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, appear to be coming apart at the seams. This is countered by the fact that the Cinicinnati Bengals, which everyone expected to be "team turmoil", has been strangely silent...even though they are 2-5. Not much seems to make sense in sports these days (see my previous baseball blog), which may be a good thing, but...Vikings coach, Brad Childress, cutting Randy Moss after one month and Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan, benching star QB, Donovan McNabb, makes no sense. The Vikings should have known what kind of "character" they were getting when they gave up a third round draft pick and signed Moss. He has proven to be just a tad difficult in the past...most recently with New England...so it was unlikely that he was going to be any different with the Vikings for his second go-round. Shanahan, likewise, should have known what he was getting in QB McNabb, who does things his own laid-back way. He wore out his welcome with Eagles coach Andy Reid...and he was not going to be a good fit in the Redskins coach's precision West Coast offense. Taking nothing away from the fact that both players are eccentric, to say the least, both coaches and organizations, now, have a lot of questions to answer.
In other news, the Cowboys are 1-6, but don't seem to be able to do anything about their losing ways. According to Jaguars QB, David Garrard, he said he didn't think the Cowboys were "into it" (the game, that is). This could be a general statement about the mindset of the modern athlete in their struggle to deal with adversity, or it could just be a statement about the lack of mental toughness for the Cowboys individual players...not sure, but probably the latter. But, the Cowboys "D" certainly made Mr. Garrard (who threw four touchdwon passes) look like Dan Marino, at least for one day. All of the sudden, something has gotten into the Oakland Raiders. Laughingstocks for the better part of the past decade, they have hung 59 and 33 points, respectively, on their opponents the past two weeks. Whodathunk? At least for now, it is just like the old days in the AFC West, with the Chiefs and Raiders battling it our for supremacy. However, no one should sleep on the perpetually slow-starting Chargers who appear to be coming out of their typical early season funk. The Saints finally looked like the champs from 2009 in beating the Steelers 20-10. One could hope that their "D" will continue to play tough. Once they get their running game back in order, I am believing that they are going to be one of the top teams in the NFC. In something of a surprise, the Packers upset the Jets 9-0. I am not overly surprised that the Packers won, but that the Jets scored squadoosh. They coudn't get a running game going, and the up-and-down Mark Sanchez has been a shrinking violet again the past few weeks. Finally, the Colts who seem to have as many injured players as healthy ones, continue to assemble a group of people that get the job done. It would seem that you could throw just about anyone with some moves out on the field with Peyton Manning and he is going to turn them into a star. Manning just has that magical leadership quality...and he will not be denied victory very often. As long as he is their QB, the Colts will truly be a marvel to watch.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This post is probably going to be as off-beat as the characters I will be writing about. I had a friend ask me recently about San Francisco Giant's closer, Brian Wilson's beard, saying...is that beard real? I mentioned something about dye...or something to that effect. :-) That Mr. "Fear-the-Beard" Wilson is a strange character, there can be no doubt, especially given his interview with Jim Rome a few month's ago...as unusual an interview as you will ever see. Wilson's crossing his arms and pointing upward with his index finger following a save is also a unique sign (related to martial arts), and it basically means -- he will fight even with his back against the wall, and will live to fight another day. Think Karate Kid or some such. Nevertheless, I think that most closers are strange birds. Most of these guys just march to the beat of a different drummer...they are unafraid to stare stress and disaster in the face without blinking. No one can doubt Black Beard's effectiveness. He may be the greatest of his time, or at least for the 2010 playoffs, recording six saves and striking out sixteen in over eleven innings. He also just closed out the Rangers in the World Series last night...all in a days work for Wilson.
We baseball enthusiasts have known for a long time that good pitching beats good hitting. Well...we don't have to look any further than the just-concluded World Series to see the evidence of this. The Texas Rangers came into the World Series tearing the cover off the ball and had just trounced the mighty Yankees in the ALCS. In fact, most prognosticators were saying "Rangers in five or six games to win the World Series." So much for predictions. The four young home-grown starters for the Giants -- Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner -- simply were not going to be denied. All Lincecum did in the playoffs was beat Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee (twice) on the way to proving that he is probably the most imposing pitcher of his time...not bad for a guy with a quirky, but powerful motion, and who probably weighs no more than 160 lbs. He maximizes his mental and physical abilities in a way that, perhaps, no other pitcher has ever done. Yet, young Mr. Cain didn't give up an earned run in any any of his starts in the post season, which is remarkable. And if this isn't enough, the 21 year-old Bumgarner was the youngest lefty to win a World Series game, pitching eight shutout innings of three hit ball in the pivotal game four of the Series. This is to say nothing of the good, clutch hitting the Giants had from (what a lot of people would say) are primarily a group of cast-offs. I don't know if this is a fair assessment -- probably not. Their hitters are all proven major league vets, with the exception of exciting rookie catcher, Buster Posey. But, with the pitching the Giants had, one could probably get Tom, Dick, Harry and six other folks and compete fairly well most days. :-) This segues into some praise for Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who is one of the "good guys" in baseball. He is a wily veteran who molded his group of 25 guys into a "team" that came together the last couple months of the season. And this is taking nothing away from Rangers manager, Ron Washington, and team president/minority owner, Nolan Ryan, who did a masterful job with their 25 men to get them to the big dance -- kudos to Ryan and Washington. So, even though I love the Rangers and applaud them for beating down the dreaded Yankees to get the the Series, I have to say "hats off" to the Giants and their young pitchers who carried the week, and who proved the adage once again...nothing can beat good pitching (unfortunately, in this case).
Finally, I guess it was somehow fitting that pitching carried the day in the Series, even though I didn't much like it. It was, after all, the year of the pitcher. There were (an unheard of) five no-hitters in 2010, and two of those were perfect games...by Roy Halladay (Phillies) and Dallas Braden (A's). The other three no-hotters were by Ubaldo Jiminez (Rockies), Edwin Jackson (Diamondbacks), and Matt Garza (Rays). It is interesting to note that Halladay also pitched a no-hitter in the playoffs this year against the Cincinnati Reds...only the second time such has happened in history (the other being Don Larsen's game 5 perfect game in the 1956 World Series). Speaking of Matt Garza's Rays, they have the ignominy of being no-hit twice in the past two years, which is pretty amazing in and of itself. It is hard to understand why all of this happened in 2010, except some say it has to do with hitters' confidence. Some say there is a correlation to MLB's crackdown of performance enhancing substances, which it could be. Or, it could just be because the pitching has just gotten that much better. Time will tell.