A First Meeting of Substance

This was two years ago. How quickly things change in sport as one player has been plagued by physical injury and the other by depression. It’s tough out there.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Bianca Andreescu, 19 years-old, had not lost a full WTA match since March 1st. She had convincingly won the U.S. Open last September. Ironically she never had to play the defending champion of that event, 21 year-old, Naomi Osaka. But she did last Friday in the China Open.

It was a bold, daring match with a roller coaster of
emotions and shots. Andreescu won the first set and was up a break in the
second. Then the marvelous speed, power and grace under pressure of Naomi Osaka
penetrated the dark clouds of the contest.

In the end it was Osaka rallying to win in three, stunning sets. I am nearly certain that night people all over the planet were watching the birth of the most intense, future rivalry in Women’s tennis. If you love the game as much as I do there is one word to describe it…

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Willie could run like the wind and hit like a man outweighing him by 75 lbs.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I had the privilege as a boy and man to witness perhaps the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I never watched him in person, but, I saw him numerous times on first black and white and later, color t.v.

Willie Mays had a swing that was unique amongst all the other players I have watched. It was as fluid as any I have ever seen. It involved an elegant sweeping arc. The stroke was in essence a single piece of precision and power that produced the most remarkable hitting I’ve ever watched.

John Shea and Willie tell a wonderful story about Willie in their book, 24. Warren Spahn was extremely difficult to hit. One cold, windy night in San Francisco, he took the Braves into the 16th inning of a start against the Giants. He had allowed no runs. The same was true of the San Francisco…

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Davy Crockett, a Memory

Yet another painful incident…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I was about nine years old. I was shaped like a basketball. I didn’t bounce as well.

It was the era of Disney’s t.v. series and movies about Davy Crockett. They were extremely popular. I sure loved the series.

I had a Davy Crockett style, coonskin cap. If I wore it I looked less like a basketball.

I was chasing a “possum” up a tree a la Davy in my vivid imagination seeking lunch. Given my unusual weight for a nine year old a branch broke and I landed on my back in proximity to my posterior diaphragm.

On landing I was completely breathless given the force of the fall. The only thing in my life more painful than that moment in the 50s was about 35 years later when I was held at gunpoint.

As Gump suggested a few years later, life is full of surprises.

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A Very Instructive Incident

Michel De Montaigne, a 16th century, prominent French philosopher, noted that the “greatest thing in the world is to know how to be yourself.”

I would venture the first question you must answer is, who are you? From a believer’s perspective, only God truly knows you.

I think the difficulties He allows in your life are meant in part for you to understand yourself better.

I was held at gunpoint in 1989 and prayed through my dialogue with the gunman. I found, though fearful, I had the wherewithal to remain calm. By the grace of God the gunman and his getaway man left without me after I gave them the pizza I was carrying home as well as all the money on me.

The whole episode helped me learn about myself. It was quite painful. But it was also instructive.

Yes, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are, life is no cakewalk. There are some critical lessons for each of us. This one helped me to be more myself having learned more about myself. I had more courage than I thought I had, thank God. Among His infinite attributes, He is the great encourager.

The Last Dance, a Review

Another look at a documentary review posted in 2020.

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

If you haven’t seen this ESPN documentary on Netflix it is extraordinary. Basically, the series of episodes are about a man who was larger than life. At 6 ft. 6, in incredible physical condition, Michael Jordan could beat the defensive player a multitude of ways, particularly under the pressure of the playoffs. He could out maneuver him on the boards, leap to greater heights and change the trajectory of his layups as if floating in mid-air. He could also hit from downtown when that outside shot was the only one available. It was all done with steel will and Hemingway’s “grace under pressure.”

In its breadth the multipart series is about what it took to form an almost unbelievable dynasty in the 90s. Scotty Pippen had to take some of the defense’s concentration off Michael. The unusual Dennis Rodman had to shut down the boards for Chicago, making the rebound…

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Risking Our Hearts

“Our stories remind us how precious and fragile life can be–and that we must risk our hearts every day to know happiness,” Luanne Rice, an American novelist. 

Love requires vulnerability. If I am not open to my loved one, she can’t know me. If my spouse doesn’t know me, she can’t love me. 

That’s the interesting thing about dating. It plays out on a stage. We are inclined to show only our best selves. No wonder while sparks fly, we only see with rose-colored glasses. Only roses are on the table. 

An articulate British philosopher, Alain de Botton, suggested the best start would be to ask the other person, “So, how are you crazy?” I think his remark is half in jest, but clothed in reality. The first year of married life would be less shocking if each person was vulnerable and open early on.

My 44 years with Kristine have been”… precious and fragile…” At eight years, the length of the average American marriage, ours was on the brink.

Our marital therapist, a Messianic Jew, led us to Christ saving and renewing our relationship. We realized at rock bottom we shared the same values. That drew us closer and more vulnerable with each other. Our salvation changed forever, the way we looked at life and each other.

Worth Some Thought

Worth a serious look…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

Yesterday I continued my garage reorganization project, as I went through the papers from my father’s estate, that, are now over ¼ century old. Yes I am a stuffer. I’d compulsively saved the papers for far longer than was necessary.

His was a life. It was a life filled with obstacles, and joy, and a difficult old age. There’s really nothing left but his papers gradually entering big incinerators.

When we die, what is left on earth is some evidence we existed, but very little else. Ancestry.com when taking it head on is an indication we all die someday. It might be a lot of fun to explore, but that’s what it says.

When I turned 40, I began to study the life of the most remarkable human being who ever walked the face of the earth. He covered the key subjects. He told us in a parable of the…

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Who are these San Francisco Giants?

So did these San Francisco Giants come from nowhere this year? No one on earth expected them to have the best record in baseball as of today.

Farhan Zaidi, their general manager, is a highly intelligent man in his mid-40s. He has a bachelor of science degree from MIT as well as a PhD in economics from Berkeley. He has had a meteoric rise in baseball management from the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angeles Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants. Farhan kept this team of veterans in their thirties intact instead of making major changes in the team’s lineup.

He brought in their best pitcher, Kevin Gaussman, for a song. Kevin is a 30 year old LSU graduate who has played for a number of ball clubs. His career earned run average is 4.04, not particularly impressive. He is now in the running for the Cy Young award and is clearly the Giants most dominating pitcher.

Mr. Zaidi is of Muslim-Pakistani heritage and has lived in Canada where he was born as well as in Manila where he grew up. His manager for the squad is Gabe Kapler, a Jewish, former player and a man in his mid-40s of extraordinary skill.

Gabe was appreciated at his only other managerial stint at Philadelphia for his preparation and his people skills. The team he inherited in Philadelphia had lost 96 games the prior year. He brought them to the .500 level for two consecutive seasons and was fired.

He was hired by the Giants who had had a .475 season. The most significant thing he did was to bring in three young hitting coaches about whom the older veterans raved. In this excellent season numerous veterans have rejuvenated their careers and this is a high scoring ball club.

Kudos to the Giants who I suspect will model for other teams the use of additional talented hitting coaches. Kudos to the Giants as well for these two men who have guided the turnaround of the franchise.

( My source material was largely from Wikipedia, though some of it was from broadcasters as I watched the Giants play.)

Go Chargers!

The Chargers started about a half century ago as the LA Chargers in American pro football. They quickly moved to San Diego until they moved back to Los Angeles in the recent past. Since I prefer watching them virtually, it really made no difference to me that they moved to Los Angeles.

Our time in Southern California has been spent in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego. I’m a Southern California guy.

Other than an unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl in 1995, generally the Chargers have been a frustrating team to follow. However, last year, when they added Justin Herbert, a great young quarterback, it got interesting.

Today resolved a lot of the pain for diehard fans. The great Kansas City Chiefs played us in a roller coaster of a game in Kansas City. However, between Justin Herbert, our quarterback, Mike Williams, our receiver, Keenan Allen, our receiver and Joey Bossa our defensive lineman, this was a game to behold. Plenty of other Chargers played beautifully.

With fourth down and nine yards to go and something like a minute or two left in the game, the new coach, Brandon Staley, took a huge risk. Instead of trying a go ahead field goal that was a considerable distance, he went for a 1st down on 4th down, realizing if he failed one of the greatest quarterbacks who may have ever lived had a pretty good chance of taking his team downfield for the winning score. He took the shot and his great quarterback, Justin Herbert, delivered the goods. Further, he took the team upfield for a touchdown and a six-point lead. At that point, Patrick Mahomes, that great KC quarterback, had about a minute to go. So he tried as best he could and did make progress, but, the Chargers won this one.

It was a deeply satisfying victory for the Chargers and their fans all over Southern California. Sometimes you just got to wait, as, 27 years wasn’t so bad.


My spouse and me…

Pilgrim on a Long, Long Journey

I woke up this morning and there was Kristine. For almost 43 years we’ve managed to live through innumerable highs and lows. However, here we are.

By the grace of God in the face of conflict, that is a part of any marriage, we still love each other. We care about getting better at that by the grace of God.

Yes, marriages are complicated. Yes, many fail. Yes, there are times of desperation. Yes, there are times of great joy.

The challenge in my retirement, as my sense of thirst, sense of hearing, sense of sight and mind, slowly (Please God), deteriorate, is to listen attentively with my aid-assisted ears and soul. There is more time to do that once retired. On the other hand, that time together, I think, is best balanced with time alone, which is a bit more difficult in a pandemic.

Down deep we both believe…

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