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Faith, Family, Country, Sports

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

Role Players: Pete Rose greatest in baseball history? Really?

Last month, I wrote a post on Embracing your Role. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a pair of local Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle groups and a high school baseball team on the topic.

Roles are not just limited to those who come off the bench. Starters have a role to play but most don’t view it in that context. They are just viewed as starters. The best five, nine, or 11 players to begin the game on that specific day.

In researching for my baseball speech, I found the person who, arguably, could be considered as the best role player in baseball history – Pete Rose? Really? The maligned, all-time hits leader?  The shoe-in Hall of Famer, if not for his betting on baseball issues?

I was never a Rose fan growing up so this post is not an attempt to serve as his apologist. I did respect how hard he played the game and the passion he had for it.1964-Topps-Baseball-125-Pete-Rose-214x300

There are not many superstars, then or now, that would have done what Rose did. The former Macon Peaches standout entered the major leagues in 1963 and won Rookie of the Year honors at second base for Cincinnati. 10 years later, Rose captured his only National League MVP Award playing left field for the Reds.

Rose gave of himself for the team. During that decade between honors, he saw action at one position in a single season just four times (1964 and 1965 at 2B; 1972 and 1973 in LF).

The former Macon Peaches standout is the ONLY player in major league baseball history to play 500 or more games at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF), and according to Baseball-Reference.com, a total 18,337 men have played in the Big Leagues. Rose also played nearly 100 games in centerfield.

A 17-time All-Star, in his 24-year career, Rose earned that honor seven times as an outfielder, five at first base, four at third base and one at second base. RosePete

It is clear that no role was to big or to small for Rose. He did what he was asked to do and what he had to do.

Rose embraced the opportunity to play any position, and that attitude helped him become one of the greatest players in Major League baseball history.

 

 

High Five with 2-Time Super Bowl Champion Mike Shanahan

Mike Shanahan coached the Denver Broncos to wins in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII. Only four coaches (Bill Belechick, Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Walsh) in NFL history have won more Super Bowls than Shanahan.  Entering Super Bowl 50, he is one of only 13 coaches to have won the Lomabardi Trophy multiple times.

Shanahan’s name is included with Lombardi, Noll, Walsh, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, and Tom Coughlin to have never lost a Super Bowl as a head coach.

It’s an honor to have my friend, and legendary head coach Mike Shanahan, for the first installment of High Five.mikeshanahansuperbowltrophy

1) How many Super Bowls have you been involved with as a head coach and in other capacities?

“As an assistant coach, I was with Denver for three Super Bowls and we were 0-3. Back in 1995, I was offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers when we won that Super Bowl.  We won two as a head coach with the Broncos.”

2) What is your motto on attending Super Bowls?

“I have been to one Super Bowl that I wasn’t coaching in and it was truly hard because you’re doing a lot of interviews and talk shows but you’re not part of the process. You know all the hype and the work that goes into the Super Bowl. The one time I was there when I wasn’t a participant, I said I’m going to make sure if I go back to the Super Bowl, it’s going to be as a coach.  When you go to the Super Bowl, you want to be playing in it.”

3) If Joe fan could look through your eyes, what are three things they should look for this Sunday they normally wouldn’t notice?

“First, you’re dealing with two excellent ball teams, and I think both will try to establish the run. If you can run the ball, you will then have some good opportunities for play-action calls.

“Second, at least from my perspective, turnovers will go far in dictating the outcome of this game. You have to really stress ball security in the running and passing game.

“Third, looking at the two teams, I really believe in this game it will be the one that is more successful on third down.  You want to have manageable situations on third down. If you are getting positive yardage on first and second down, you probably won’t be more than third and five. That puts you in the 50 percentile chance of converting. That’s when you take a good look at the rushing yardage. The team that does this will control the momentum of the game.

“Those are three things I would be emphasizing.”

4) Other than winning your two championships with the Broncos, what is most significant memory of the Super Bowl?

“For me, besides winning the two at Denver, is winning the first one with San Francisco when we beat San Diego 49-26 and Steve Young passed for six touchdowns.  Steve finally got the monkey taken off his back for winning a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback. It was a great experience for me to be with the San Francisco 49er organization and see how they did things. That gave me the ability to win two Super Bowls in Denver.”

5)  You’ve been part of several championship teams, is there any difference in each or do they hold their own special meaning?

“When I was coaching in college I was lucky enough to be on national championship teams at Oklahoma in 1975 and Easter Illinois in 1977. Anytime you go into the season, you are looking to be the best at what you do in that year. 

“My main thing is what you’ve done, not what you should have done. Anytime you lose a Super Bowl, you always go back and say could we have done anything different? That’s living in the past. You either get it done or you don’t. 

“Whatever area you are in, be it high school, any division in college, you are competing to win it. The ultimate is when you are able to do that. The mindset is to win it, to go get it done. If you are able to do that as a team, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. When you do it once as a team, you want to go back and try to accomplish the same thing. That’s one of the reasons I still enjoy coaching. “

 

Does God care who wins or loses?

Last week, my daughter’s 6-7th grade basketball team from Tattnall Square Academy won its local C-team basketball championship in exciting fashion against long-time rival, Stratford Academy.

The atmosphere was electric! Cheering from both stands gave it the sound and feel of a Friday night varsity game. If you had walked in off the street, you wouldn’t have known the difference.

Both teams represented their schools to the highest standard and each player left their sweat, effort and hearts on the court…as it should be.

When the final horn sounded, Tattnall’s student-body, middle and high schoolers alike, stormed the court surrounding our girls. The celebration continued into the locker room and beyond; a memory always to be treasured.

Afterward, a thought I’ve had many times before returned:  Does God really give a hoot who wins these games?

I know I do.

Every time my daughter and her teammates play, I’m pulling for them just as hard as the parents from the opposing side are pulling for their kids.  If the goal isn’t to win, then why practice?  Why put in all the hard work and long hours?

Philippians 4:13, the famous verse that is directly linked to athletics and has been written on eye-black, shoes, and taped up wrists for decades, states:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This Sunday, Super Bowl 50 will pit the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers. Each team’s sole objective is to win.  But, one team is going to lose.

So, is Philippians 4:13 just meant for the winning team?  Because, I promise you, someone from the winning team will thank God for the victory. There’s nothing wrong with that but what’s the Christian on the losing team saying? “God, you let us down?” “Why did you favor the them and not us?”

The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Paul is doubling-down. Not only can you “do all things through Christ” but one of those goals should be “to get the prize.”  It is clearly encouraged.

Still, that begs my question, which cheering section will the Lord be in on Super Sunday (or any game that is played)?

Neither.

Just as He wasn’t rooting for Tattnall over Stratford, He won’t be dabbing for Cam Newton or yelling “Omaha” in unison with Peyton Manning.

The Lord desires something more important than top billing on the scoreboard or a trophy that will ultimately gather dust.

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..” Colossians 3:23

First, God wants our hearts! Then He wants us to use the talents He blessed us with to the utmost. He wants us to be grateful of those gifts, giving Him thanks and glorifying His name through our effort.

In the end, God has only one team that He roots for and encourages everyday. Those are His kids, the ones that have chosen His Son, Jesus Christ, as their personal Lord and Savior.

Maybe one of our seventh-graders said it best when she ended her prayer each time by saying – “whether we win or lose, may we do it all for the glory of You.”

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