Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

One Second to go...

Wow! What can I say? I have been to some amazing games this year and I was really excited to bring Robin, Macy & Mallory to a game ... I definitely picked the right one! We arrived in Baton Rouge on Friday night and got up fairly early Saturday morning to spend time with TC. He took us to see Mike the Tiger and we walked all around campus and hit some tailgating for free food - always a good idea. Then we got to hang out with TC at his apartment all day because kick off wasn't until after 8 pm.

Coming off of a loss, the LSU fans were not quite as crazy as normal, which is a good thing because I don't think my daughters could have handled the Florida game. But even a tame LSU bunch is much more intensity that they have ever seen. Macy & Mallory absolutely loved the atmosphere. I had taught them all of the cheers and songs and they were all up and in it. The great thing about an LSU game is that there is always something going on. When the play is over, the fans immediately start another cheer or song and dance and the girls ate it up.

As the game progressed it really looked like we were going to lose, so I was trying to prepare myself to not get upset and remember that we were here to soak it all in and spend time with TC. Then, in typical Louisiana Saturday night fashion, the Tigers put together a game winning drive culminating with a 25 yard pitch and catch (diving catch that is) with only one second left on the clock to give us the victory. Ok - at that moment - the place went bonkers. And we all joined in, jumping up and down and screaming like crazy people.

Macy told me that the game was amazing and so much fun, but that the best part was seeing TC!

Friday, October 19, 2007


I wasn't happy last Saturday when Kentucky beat LSU in triple OT, but I wasn't devastated either. It took me about 10 minutes and then I remembered that it was just a game. I took a deep breath and carried on with my life. Until Sunday afternoon when the BCS rankings came out and LSU was ranked #4! Are you kidding me - we're back baby! Now I am just as crazed as I was before - it's more than a game again - it's everything...

I boldly predicted earlier this week that the top three teams would all lose this weekend and by the time we kick off in Death Valley tomorrow night @ 8 pm, LSU will be playing themselves back into the top national ranking. I am thankful to report that Rutgers took care of their end of the bargain once again creating Pandemonium in Piscataway by toppling the #23 South Florida Bulls. Now we just need the Hokies to hold serve at home against BC and the Spartans to pull off the upset of Ohio State. Then... Tiger Stadium will be rocking once again. And let me tell you - no stadium rocks quite like Tiger Stadium...

I was there two weeks ago when LSU knocked off the defending National Champion Florida Gators registering a mind numbing 129.8 decibels at one point. It was the largest crowd Tiger Stadium has ever seen with more than 92,900 and an estimate 50,000 plus outside the stadium taking it all in. As long as my plan of the Top 3 losing comes to fruition, it should be even louder tomorrow night since we are playing Auburn. There is some serious history in this rivalry, but no game more fun to reminisce over than October 8, 1998 - The Earthquake Game. LSU was down 6-0 late in the 4th quarter and completed a 4th down TD pass launching a celebration that literally registered on the Richter Scale! I'm telling you - Death Valley is crazy at night.

Robin, Macy, Mallory & myself are driving to BR tonight. I have been trying to prepare my daughters for the craziness for the last two weeks. Since it has been scientifically documented that my daughters talk more than any other two human beings in the world, I have a feeling they are going to love it there!


April 8, 1993

The Colorado Rockies had just been swept by the NY Mets at Shea Stadium in their first two games in franchise history. People doubted if Major League Baseball could make it in Denver - a town that is crazed for Pro Football and their beloved Denver Broncos. The Rockies would play their first game ever the next day at Mile High Stadium - home of those Broncos. Mile High Stadium? It seats 80,000 and the biggest of baseball stadiums usually can't even hold half that crowd. If baseball would make it in Denver, the Rockies would eventually need their own stadium, but that was a big if...

So the Rockies came home from New York on April 8th with a day off before the big home opener. The city wanted to hold a Parade for the team to demonstrate that there were some people ready for big time baseball in Denver. But after being handled by the Mets Rockies players thought maybe a 1,000 fans would show up so you can imagine their surprise when the streets of downtown Denver were packed at mid-day with more than 200,000 crazy, screaming fans.

The next night the Rockies opened with the Montreal Expos and I was one of the Major League record 80,277 at Mile High Stadium that night. Eric Young was the lead-off hitter for the Rocks and you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you, but EY took the 6th pitch of the game over the fence for a Home Run and the place went ballistic. What made that so improbable is that Eric Young does not hit Home Runs - in fact it took him 160 more games before he hit another Homer! The fans energy fueled the Rocks at an 11-4 victory and Denver knew they had something special! Improbible would be a word used a lot to describe the Rockies, but unfortunately not usually for their play. The real story was the fans. The team didn't win a whole lot of games that year, but the fans kept coming at a record pace smashing the old MLB attendance record with 4,483,350.

The Rocks have played at mediocrity or above ever since that home opener, but their fans have stuck with them waiting for the eruption. Colorado Rockies fans - welcome to Rocktober - the time has finally come! Those of you outside the state of Colorado probably have not grasped the significance of what the Rockies have done in the last month. They are in the midst of one of the most improbable runs of all time. Check out what ESPN's Jayson Stark has to say about it:

This didn't just happen. Did it? That couldn't have been Coors Field, shaking so hard Monday night that it must have knocked all the snow off the nearest Rocky Mountain tops. That couldn't have been the Colorado Rockies, dancing beneath the fireworks, pulling on those National League Champions T-shirts, the only National League team still standing in the second week of October. This can't be the Rockies -- the Rockies -- heading to their first World Series in franchise history. Can it? If you watch enough baseball games and follow enough pennant races, you come to think after awhile that you have a grasp of what's possible and what isn't. And let's be candid here: This isn't possible.

But on another magical autumn evening a mile above sea level, the impossible turned possible. The Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series. Just don't ask how. Don't ask how a team on life support can suddenly start winning and winning and winning some more to find it has just won 21 of its last 22 games. Don't ask how a team that was a mere four games over .500 on Sept. 15 could make it here from where this team came from. From nine games under .500 (18-27) in May. From six games out in the wild-card race in September. From 4½ games back in that wild-card race with only nine games to play.

From two games behind with two games to play, and having to watch that Padres team they were trying to catch get within one strike of clinching. From two runs behind in the 13th inning of the 163rd game of the year, a game they never should have had a chance to play in the first place. Has any team ever overcome all of that to play in a World Series? Not a chance.

So what we have here is one of the most historic, most astonishing, most compelling stories in baseball history. We're not sure the other three time zones have comprehended that yet. But now's your chance, because this team is not done playing yet.

Clearly, they had to believe, or they couldn't have done this, right? Couldn't have become the fifth team in the last 70 years to go 21-1 in any stretch of any season. Couldn't have become the first team to do that in the middle of one of these mad charges to, and through, October. Couldn't have become the second team in history (along with the 1976 Big Red Machine) to sweep its first two postseason series in any given October. Couldn't have become the fifth team of all time to make it from last place one year to the World Series the next. Couldn't have become the sixth team in history to fall nine games under .500 and still climb out of that canyon to make it to the World Series. And, finally, couldn't have become the first team ever to find itself two games out of a playoff spot with two games to play and somehow survive to scramble into the World Series. That didn't really happen. Did it? That wasn't really possible. Was it?

Before Todd Helton's dramatic walk-off bomb off Takashi Saito. Before Josh Fogg turned into The Dragon Slayer. Before Matt Holliday's slide. Before Kaz Matsui's slam. Before Yorvit Torrealba turned into David Ortiz. And then, finally, before this night -- the night their journey carried them to the top of the only mountain peak around that no Coloradan had ever climbed before. For a while there, it almost looked as if this night might be different from all the other nights. On this night, the Rockies actually (gulp) trailed for an entire inning. But for a whole nutty month now, somebody has always stepped forward, to grab onto the moment and turn it into another one of those here-they-go-again evenings. And sure enough, on this night, it was Seth Smith's turn. Until now, he was probably better-known to some folks as Eli Manning's backup quarterback at Mississippi. He didn't even join this team until Sept. 16, when the Rockies brought him in from Colorado Springs. And he never started a single game -- not one. But would they be here without him? Heck, no. Wouldn't. Couldn't. In his 12 at-bats since he arrived, all Seth Smith has done is hit .583 -- .636 as a pinch hitter. So when game-breaking time arrived Monday -- with two on and two out in the fourth inning, Clint Hurdle pointed in his direction. And of course, Seth Smith got it done. With an ugly little inside-out, opposite-field bloop shot that plunked two feet inside the left-field line. But this was no beauty pageant. This was a game-turning two-run double in your box scores and your history books. If anyone ever asks him later about this mighty blast, Smith promised he would tell the truth and nothing but the truth -- that it "slammed off the wall." Or something like that. But this was just the latest, wildest chapter in the crazed, stranger-than-fiction story of the Rockies. Game 2 was saved by a pitcher with no big league saves (Ryan Speier). So why wouldn't Game 4 be altered irrevocably by a fellow whose first two career major league RBIs came in the game that sent his team to the World Series? "You know the funny thing?" said Smith, who joined the immortal Brian Doyle (1978) as the only players in history to drive in the first runs of their careers in a postseason game. "I didn't even realize it when I was on second base. Then I ended up scoring, and when I got back to the dugout, somebody said, 'Hey, we got that ball for you.' And I was like, 'Why?' They said, 'It was your first RBI.' And I said, 'Oh.' But in a game like this, you don't worry about that." Minutes later, there was even less to worry about. That was because Matt Holliday crunched a 452-foot three-run homer that flipped the scoreboard to 6-1, set off an eruption of fountains and fireworks, and launched a party that may not end for a week.

"I've never even seen a National League championship trophy," Todd Helton said. "So when I saw that -- 'National League champions' -- and realized we were going to the World Series, that just sounds so good coming off the tongue it's ridiculous." Oh, it was ridiculous, all right. A month ago -- just a month -- it was an idea that was literally ridiculous. But 22 games and 21 wins later, here they are, the Colorado Rockies, World Series bound. C'mon. That didn't really happen. Did it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jacket Fight Never Dies

Coach: "Jacket Fight!"
Team: "Never Dies!"

Coach: "How bad will we win?"
Team: "Real bad!"

Coach: "Jacket Fight!"
Team: "Never Dies!"

Coach: "How hard will we play?"
Team: "Real hard!"

Coach: "Jacket Fight!"
Team: "Never Dies!"

There is a buzz in the air. Emotions are high. My blood is flowing free! My heart is beating faster and faster. I feel like I am in High School again! It's the day before a big game and the coaches and players are fired up. They are chanting, screaming really. I think they could go out and play right now!

It's the Rockwall Yellow Jackets (please don't ask why they wear orange and white) High School Football team. I am sitting in on their team meeting as the coaches make the final preparations before their big game tomorrow night - which will be on TV on Fox Sports. The big game is coming... how could these students possibly think of anything else. Their ultimate goal is to win the state championship, but their immediate goal is to play 11 games. Translation: in order to get to that 11th game they need to make the playoffs and tomorrow night's game will be a big test. It's on!

So what the heck am I doing in the middle of all of this? That's a great question. I have been asked to lead the team in a devotional. No spell check needed - a devotional. I am here to tell them about Jesus Christ and how my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life. This is the second year in a row that I have had the privilege of speaking to the Rockwall Football Team during their weekly chapel service. I absolutely love doing it. It's fun for me to be back in the team environment. But its even better to see how these coaches are pouring into these kids lives.

Anyone that knows me understands that I love sports and in particular football. But what I love about sports goes way beyond the practices and the games. It has to do with the deep relationships that are formed and the amazing impact a coach can have on a player. And Rockwall is an incredible example of this...

I spoke for about 10 minutes and threw in a couple of football stories, but the basic message was John 14:6, "Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me." I felt like I connected with the team. Not an eye left me during the entire talk. But what happened when I was done, well that is the real story...

The Head Coach gets up in front of the team and calls each coach up one by one to address the team. Every single one of them comments on my talk and then talks about their own personal faith in Christ. Each one of them is passionate. They all talk about how much more important it is to them that the kids know Christ than it is for them to win football games. Scripture is quoted like a coach spouting the game plan and the Gospel is told over and over. The Head Coach talks last. He reiterates the team goals and the hard work they have all put into playing for the 11th game. But, he says... I don't care about any of that compared to my desire to see you bring glory to God.

That's why I love sports. I saw men of God at work tonight in these coaches. These guys don't compromise for a second their mandate to win football games, but they also understand that as followers of Christ they have a higher calling. It was a beautiful thing to experience. I suspect that even my friends who don't get or enjoy sports would have been blown away by tonight. This is a public High School after all, but isn't this also how we are supposed to live? On mission... at all times... in all circumstances... for Christ. It was awesome!

Jacket Fight Never Dies! That's the motto of the Rockwall Football Team that you'll hear the fans cheer and the team play by. But the glory of God is the banner under which they have been encouraged to play and live. Praise Jesus!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Hurting Friend

I have a favor to ask you. Would you please pray for a friend of mine that is going through a tough time? Dan is a faithful reader of the blog, but more importantly he is a friend of mine. Last week his Dad slipped and fell outside of Yankee Stadium while attending a game. He didn't realize it at the time, but the fall caused severe damage to his brain. He is going to die. It is obviously a sudden accident and the family is broken over it all. You can read specifics on Dan's blog.

Please pray.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

If You Think I'm Torn Between Two Lovers, Then You Must Be Feeling Like a Fool

It was my freshman year at Baylor, two weeks into school, and I was already making the news. TV interviews, feature articles in the Waco Trib & Lariat, radio shows... Everyone knew who I was, but not because of anything I had done. They knew me because of my last name and the fact that the Baylor football team was about to play the defending National Champion Colorado Buffaloes.

My dorm room was decorated in CU black and gold. Okay - decorated may be too soft a word - lets go with plastered. I think it would be safe to say that everyone on that campus knew where my loyalties were. The Waco Trib article was entitled, Blood is Thicker than Dr Pepper.

I am telling you this because the Buffs & Bears will meet again this Saturday and people are always asking me who I will be cheering for. While it is true that since my Dad no longer coaches the Buffs, my loyalty (or fanaticism) has indeed waned. It is also true, that with more years of living - my intoxication with sports in general has become more tempered. And lets be fair, since my first two weeks of college my love for Baylor has grown leaps and bounds. But people... let's be clear. When it comes to college football: I am a Buff first and I am a Bear second. The Bears are my favorite team in every sport but one. So there is no need to ask me about this Saturday, just simply join me in chanting: Go Buffs!