One With the Lord

But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

— 1 Corinthians 6:17

ca7f0bc21feb3a7fe97a14c1ecaccd25We look at 1 Corinthians 6:17 today which speaks a simple truth, the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. I look at this verse and think about how nice that must be, for us to be one with the Lord, it seems peaceful and wonderful. When we are with the Lord as Romans would teach us and He is with us then who can be against us. Nothing can stop us if God is with us. There is nothing on this Earth which will ever compare to the greatness of out God. To be joined is defined as become linked or connected to. As a sailor I can thing about one common link. I can tell you those little links play such an important role. No ship is without it’s anchor a ship with it’s anchor is a ship which can perform it’s task when called upon no matter the situation. Anchorage is not always for convince, but often comes out of necessity. An anchor can be the difference between running aground or colliding with another vessel and getting home safely. Thousands of chain links work as a unit to keep the ship and the anchor connected. We are like that anchor, without our ship (God) we serve no purpose. If we do not seek him our chain does not bind us, but essentially ceases to exist. Without God we are useless to a point, yeah we look cool as a decoration on someones lawn or in front of a building, but were not doing what we were designed to do. Like an anchor serves it’s ship and seeks to be a part of the body, we are destined to serve the Lord. A ship must do maintenance on the anchor and the chain to ensure that they stay linked. We must do the same, we must maintain strong faith, but do good works. It’s simply not enough to say I am an anchor, but act as a helm. We are not in charge of our course, we must hold strong and serve our Lord to the purpose He has put us here for. Without that link we could be at risk of severing that link and sinking to the bottom.

My Oh My

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:20

19951008-mariners-alds-griffeyMany of you remember the Kid, Ken Griffey Jr., well not much a kid any more, Griffey has been immortalized in Cooperstown, and will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball. For a good reason too, his sweet swing, his calm demeanor, and his unlikely power made him not only likeable, but one of the best. However, that’s not all he was an amazing defender, and had great speed. He was one of the originals to epitomize the five tool player. It was 1995, ALDS and the Mariners were looking like a promising young team while on the other side was the perennial juggernaut New York Yankees. Game 5 had come and it was a tight series. This one was so tight it needed 11 innings to finish. Involved in this moment were three Seattle icons, Dave Niehaus, Edgar Martinez, and of course Junior. It was that speed that made this moment, and Edgar Martinez did what he did best hit the baseball. Dave Niehaus has a special moment as he inadvertently sets up the call perfectly. It may be a broadcast anomaly, but it was priceless.

So it was the bottom of the 11th and the stakes were high at the Kingdome, the Yankees took a lead earlier in the inning, and they were only a few outs away from going back to where they have been so many times. Joey Cora, who would have a respectable career at a bench player started the inning off with a drag bunt narrowly missing a tag by Don Mattingly. Next up is Griffey and the Mariners fans are now on the edge of their seats, because they know their best hitters are coming us. Griffey pokes a well placed grounder right past the second baseman. The runners are on 1st and 3rd. Edgar Martinez comes to the plate and then we get the call.

The Mariners would love a base hit into the gap and they could win it with Juniors speed.

The Stretch. And the 0-1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martinez

Swung on and lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey! Here is Junior to third base! There going to wave him in! The throw to the plate will be…late the Mariners are going to play for the American League Championship. I don’t believe it it just continues, MY OH MY! Edgar Martinez with a double ripped down the left field line and they are going crazy at the Kingdome.

-Dave Niehaus

For me this moment gives me chills, as a baseball purist this is what we love to see. It’s a moment where the spectacular can happen. It gave that city hope and joy. It united the city of Seattle for that moment. It was a perfectly orchestrated moment in baseball history. While the Mariners did not win it that year, something in the hears of Washingtonians changed that year, and the Mariners were relevant again. It’s almost as if God knew exactly what needed to happen, and it wouldn’t have been fitting for the M’s to have just had a walk off home run, no because it was something that told a story, and God is the greatest storyteller. Baseball has a knack for the dramatic, and this was dramatic. Baseball was not exactly the most popular sports, and some had written baseball was not safe in Seattle, but due to this teams success you can still see Mariners baseball today. The Yankees took a 2-0 series lead. The Mariners came back and won the series 3-2. Going into the 8th the Yankees were leading 4-2 and then Ken Griffey Jr. shifted the momentum. The Mariners had found all season, so when the Yankees broke the tie in the 11th, it seemed like clock work and natural the Mariners would have to grind to win the game. The renewed fan interest allowed the city to approve the construction of a new stadium and Safeco Field now exist.

It’s just how baseball works, but it seems like God was with Seattle, and I’m not saying that God dictated who wins what games, but the manner the Mariners continued to grind out that victory and how it saved that city it seemed like there was something more involved. The Mariners in this series were with that fan base until the very end, and through that the fans wanted to back these guys. With that support the Mariners remained in Seattle, and would go on to many more impressive seasons under manager Lou Piniella. When it seemed like hope may be lost for baseball in Seattle, something spectacular happens and history was forever changed, My Oh My!

Oh Lord!

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Oh Lord, I need you for the times I have failed and for the times I have triumphed.

Oh Lord, I can’t live like this any more I have disappointed you time and time again, but you have always been there.

Oh Lord, I need your help to defeat these demons I am desperate!

Oh Lord, do you see me Lord.

Oh Lord, I cry for you..

Oh Lord, I have failed.

Oh Lord, I have done wrong.

Oh Lord, give me strength.

Oh Lord, make me the man I need to be.

Oh Lord, they don’t see the wrong I do.

Oh Lord, all I want to do is please you.

Oh Lord, accept my plea nevermore have I so desperately longed for Thee.

Oh Lord, forgive me, forgive us, oh Lord!

Selah!

 

How Could This Happen?

blogpic.jpg.png.jpg.pngAs promised I would begin writing more about baseball, and I am looking forward to this process. Many time people ask of God how could this happen, and baseball like no other sport has its fair share of questionable heart breaks. Baseball is a cruel sport, and as a Cubs fan we know our fair share of heart breaks. It was 2003 and the Chicago Cubs looked like they were primed to be an elite team. They had the balance of youthful arms and veteran sluggers. The Cubs looked like they were something to watch. Baseball writer wrote this group is for real, and with their young arms they will be good for a long time. Anchored by ace Kerry Wood, another young up and comer was making his mark, Mark Prior looked like the next big thing in his rookie season garnering Cy Young consideration, and his next season did not disappoint. The Cubs feature another young, but rawer talent Carlos Zambrano. Rounding out the rest of the rotation were veteran Matt Clement who drew a number of Abraham Lincoln comparisons because of his goatee, and lefty Shawn Estes. With all of those arms the Cubs looked ready to win. The offense featured Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou. The Cubs added veterans Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. Former first rounder Corey Patterson was finally coming around, and youngster Hee Seop Choi was getting a of hype. What could possibly go wrong?

Humble Beginnings

dusty2bbakerI was an optimist and when the Cubs hired Dusty Baker, a manager who had just lead the Giants to the World Series, in my 12-year-old mind this seemed like a perfect match. I was not much of a stats buff, but mostly and avid baseball fan at the time. When the Cubs first kicked off I remember racing home from school and trying to see the game. The Cubs had dominated the New York Mets, and it was against eventual Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. The Cubs won 15-2. Kerry Wood looked sharp, and there was some optimism for this season right out of the gate. They would go on to win that series, win twelve more in the month of April. The Cubs were in contention, but no pennant race is ever won in April. Moving into June I would have a similar routine of racing home to watch the Cubs. June was here and the summer had begun so it was playing baseball and watching baseball. The Cubs were 28-24. Nothing incredible about the record. June came and there were some struggles, but the Cubs would eventually rebound. The Cubs would enter the break one game over .500. In the first half Hee Seop Choi was lost after a collision with Kerry Wood. Only Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were All-Stars. Nothing spectacular looked to come of this season at the break.

Fork in the Road

407194502_e4e93abd21_mThe Cubs featured what looked like an All-Star cast in the outfield, while they may not have actually been voted to the game, veterans Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou were two of the more feared power hitting duo’s that season, and both capable of hitting 30+ home runs. Between to two power hitting corner outfielders was Corey Patterson who was supposed to be the next big thing in center field. He looked like a 5 tool talent who was supposed to be the Cubs version of a Carlos Beltran like player, but things didn’t work out, but it looked like 2003 was going to be his year. Patterson was on fire and he looked like a safe All-Star selection all season long. He had 13 home runs, a sub-.300 batting average, and 55 RBI’s. His OPS was .839 and has stolen 16 bases. He was finally playing like the Cubs envisioned him to. July 6, the Cubs were playing the rival Cardinals, and while legging out an infield single, Patterson lands wrong and immediately people around the stadium are holding their breath. Patterson’s break through had ended. It was a big blow to the Cubs who looked like they could make a solid run in the second half it Patterson could provide the same production. The Cubs big hole on the roster went from third base to third base, lead off hitter, and center field. The Cubs looked to be in trouble.

The Trade that Changed It All

ARAMIS RAMIREZWith those same Cubs on the fringe of being contenders the Cubs made a run for it. They offered up comically named top prospect Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez, and Mike Bruback to Pittsburgh for Kenny Lofton and young and upcoming slugger Aramis Ramirez. The big knock on Ramirez was his foot work defensively, but that did not hold the Cubs back from pulling the trigger. They went out and acquired a bonafide lead off hitter in Kenny Lofton and another stable power bat in the middle of the line up. The Cubs hit the lottery with that trade which would propel them into the playoffs. Lofton gave the Cubs a top of the order and stable defensive presence they were lacking. They needed speed at the top of the line up. Ramirez was a plan b as the Cubs were seeking the services of Mike Lowell. Ramirez turned out to be the better option. Ramirez flourished with the Cubs and eventually would go on to become one of the faces of the franchise. His glove work improved and he became one of the most feared hitters at third base for the coming years. Following the trade the Cubs would go 34-21 following the deal and nab the division as it came down to the wire.

The Pain Was Washed Away

blogpic.jpg.png.jpg.pngFor most of the year lefty Shawn Estes struggled, and he was getting jeer reviews from the Chicago faithful. He has lost the trust of a lot of people looking on, but that didn’t seemingly deter him from coming up big when it mattered the most. The Cubs were in do or die mode, and if the Cubs would have lost against Cincinnati on September 24 they likely do not win the division. The Cubs bats exploded, but it was Estes who stole the show throwing a complete game 4 hitter. Estes for the first time that season was spectacular, and while his presence was not a major one it was on September 24 the Cubs chances of the Central division crown were in sight.

Can They Clinch It?

The Cubs had a day-night double-header against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they won their first contest as their young gun Mark Prior in a solid performance to allow the Cubs to stay in contention. The same day the Houston Astros lost earlier giving the Cubs a chance to clinch the division on the 27th of September. The Cubs bats were ready for the challenge and the 9th inning came and veteran Dave Veres was on the mound he walked the first hitter. The next one came up and quickly flew out. Then former Cub Jose Hernandez came to the plate with one runner on he took strike one. Then Cubs fans hear Chip Carey say, “Double play ball, second base one, on to first, THE CUBS ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE CENTRAL!”

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For a brief moment the pain of the Cubbie nation was healed and it was on to the NLDS facing the Atlanta Braves. I remember seeing the celebration on the field and sitting at home just watching in awe as my team was going to the playoffs, maybe this would be the year, but only time would tell. People were beginning to see if their “Old Style Pledges” would have to become reality, and boy were there some interesting ones. However, for the Cubs fan bases and some of the hurting souls this would be a minor sacrifice to see the Cubs reach baseball immortality once again.

So Far So Good!

blogpic.jpg.png.jpgIn game 1 against the Braves the Cubs gave the ball to Kerry Wood who would only surrender one run. The Cubs loaded the bases in the 6th and were able to score. Kerry Wood helped him self with the bat doubling in two runs making it 4-1. The Cubs would close the door on a 4-2 victory. Atlanta would take game two. In game 3, Mark Prior got the better of Greg Maddux. Randall Simon smacked a two run single and the Cubs would later get an insurance run off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. Prior would only allow two hits in the contest with the complete game. Game 4 was tight, but the Braves managed to squeak out the win as the Cubs made a come back attempt in the 9th. Game 5 was all Cubs, The Cubs would take the early lead off the bat of Moises Alou. Alex Gonzalez would lead off the 2nd with a solo home run. Aramis Ramirez would give the biggest blow as he smack a two run homer in the 6. The Cubs would go on to win the game 5-1. The Cubs win their first playoff series since 1908, and people were ready. I went to bed happy that night and it was the talk around the school. We talked about who was the better players on the Cubs. The chatter was nothing, but Cubs. We are all in a state of happiness and that was our new focus. The Cubs were all we were thinking of.

5 Will Haunt Us For Ever

It was wonderful we couldn’t stop talking about the Cubs for the next couple days. We had such Cub fever your were a complete outcast if you were not wearing Cubs apparel. If you though of wearing another teams gear stand by. We were full of joy and were bleeding blue all over the halls. The NLCS had come and one of my teachers promised a free 10 extra credit points just because assuming the Cubs would win the NLCS. Many people could feel those deep wounds healing. Game One was a slug fest. Seven total home runs, and it looked like the Marlins had game 1 under their belts. Sammy Sosa had other plans, Urgueth Urbina tried to throw a back up slider, it didn’t fool Sammy. Sosa was 1 for 11 in the playoffs, he had been irrelevant up this point. The whole time the announcers said as long as he avoids the slider he will be fine. He obviously didn’t hear the announcers. Urbina throws ball 1 then responds with a swinging strike. Right before the pitch was thrown Al Leiter says, “Don’t throw that back up slider.” The pitch is thrown “He did it, he did it!” says one announcer while the Thom Brennaman says, “Sammy with a deep drive and we are tied!” Leiter replies, “Unbelievable, Thommy I said don’t throw that back up slider because it’s the same one Grudzielanek saw earlier in the inning. Its one that stays in the zone and begs just hit me.” Despite Sosa’s Waveland shot the Cubs would drop game 1.

Game two the Cubs were more fortunate in game two. The Cubs already up 3-0, Sosa comes up to the plate and shuts the door. Thom Brennaman makes the call “Sammy plays long ball, and I mean long ball!” The Cubs would win 12-3. The series would head to Miami, and the Cubs took the first two contest thanks to mid-season acquisitions Randall Simon and Aramis Ramirez. I was so sure the Cubs were going to win the series that year, they were up 3-1 and they had Zambrano, Prior, and Wood taking the mound. Boy was I wrong.

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I wished I was wrong, but I wouldn’t be. Josh Beckett took over game 5 and it was heading back to Wrigley Field. Before I went to bed that night I told my mom the same thing I told all my friends the next day at school, “It’s OK the Cubs, lost the game, there’s no way they beat Prior and Wood at home the next two games.” Pride go the best of me, and it got the best of the Cubs, we all assumed because we had such a dominate duo, history wouldn’t come into play. We were due, this was out year, no one would dare take this from us. We were 5 games away from winning the World Series, and we just dropped game 5.

ovigz8xjGame 6, everything was going well. We had who we wanted to have on the mound. Mark Prior, our next big thing was out there mowing down Marlins. We were looking to celebrate our fish fry. Then it happened and it all unraveled. A pop fly went into left and Moises Alou thought he had a play, but fans seeing a fly ball do what fans do they reach for it. Alou doesn’t make the catch as we all know. The first thread was popped, Alou looked up to the stands and throws his hands down. The Wrigley faithful was in a wreck. People pointed their fingers to one fan, but many fans reached for that ball. Mark Prior pointed to the out field begging for fan interference, but to no avail. The next thread was popped, I sat at home crying out “It’s fan interference, its fan interference, are you kidding me make the call blue.” People want to look back and blame the fan, but it was not his fault. The ball was in the stands, no guarantee Alou makes the catch. Then it gets worse. Dusty Baker chooses to leave Prior in the game when all other logic says other wise.

mlbf_1375516_th_13The Cubs were 5 outs away, and after walking Luis Castillo, the third thread broke. Ivan Rodriguez hits an 0-2 pitch to left, and the fourth thread breaks. Baker still sticks with Prior. Miguel Cabrera grounds to one of the more sure handed shortstops in the game, number 5, Alex Gonzalez, but he bobbles what would have been the inning ending double play. The 5th thread pops, and the bottom falls out. The bases are loaded and Derrek Lee doubles tying the game. Prior is finally removed, but it was too late. The Marlins score 8 runs in the 8th with the help of 3 future Cubs.

Game 7 came, but it was on better. The Cubs would eventually take a lead into the 5th, and lose the lead for good and the Cubs would go on to lose the series.

Wrapping Up

That season ended with so many what if and left thousands of fans in tears following the game. Baseball like life is not fair, but the Cubs took things for granted much like we do in life. God never promises that everything will work out for better, but he will give us what we need. For a moment that season the Cubs got a slim taste what it was like to be a winner, but in the final moments, they could not keep it together. The last three games had a number of what if’s, but it’s too late for those questions. However, how many of us do the same thing? We mope around when we get hit with adversity and we let it drag us down. Instead of building off the tragedy we ask God, “Why me?” or “How could them this happen to me?” Far too often we point the finger at God or someone else, but the finger needs to be pointed right back at ourselves. Other times there was nothing any of us could to do, but we still sit there and ask why. It’s not our place to ask why. It’s not our place to blame God. We are given trials from God to learn. The Cubs lost plain and simple and they can only blame themselves. In life we can not assume everything will go as planned. We are not promised the next day or the next minute for that matter. In a split second tragedy can strike, the course of the game of life can change, and will we sit there and let it bring us down or will we go out and fight. The Cubs looked like the team of the future with their bountiful stock of arms, but it continued to get worse for the Cubs following 2003. The Cubs would end up seeing Mark Prior’s career end too early. They let Kenny Lofton walk. Sammy Sosa would become distanced from the franchise. While the Cubs would go on to add Juan Pierre and Derrek Lee in the coming seasons, Dusty Baker would later be fired. Lou Piniella was brought in to provide a change of face. The Cubs would bounce back, but not make it to an NLCS until last season after many harsh seasons. When we face adversity we must use it as a trial and not let it weigh us down. The emotions of that 8th inning weighed down the Cubs, but so much could have been done to potentially change the course of that game. Rather than 2003 being the year, we once again sat there saying “Next Year.”

 

Could Clinton Win in a Landslide?

150412-hillary-clinton.jpgWe talked about it a couple weeks ago how Donald Trump may be wearing off on people. Following a dismal post-convention bump, Trump was already scrambling. He continued to speak freely and has continued to pile on his controversy. However, we have seen the complete opposite for Hillary Clinton. Clinton looks as if she is cruising to a comfortable victory and we may see a landslide that we have not seen since the 80’s. Clinton is competitive in many traditional red states, and she is taking a strong lead in many key swing states. While its only a few weeks removed from the DNC, it doesn’t seem like these numbers will be fading. Trump continues to offend people which is making his come back improbable. So lets take a look at the maps, and for the Trump camp it has to be very concerning.

States Where Clinton Leads Safely

 


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Above we have our interactive map complements of 270 to Win. So this is the poll based map which means the ones in the blue are now relatively safely blue. Clinton now leads by a significant margin in many key swing states that the map now looks this this. North Carolina, South Carolina,  Georgia, and Florida are all in play for Clinton. Ohio and Iowa remain the only ones currently labeled as real battle grounds. If you take in only the states Clinton safely leads she would be president with them along. If this map is true then the Trump camp is in for a long haul come November. However, if you would have look at the map months ago, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina were safe red states. Mississippi, Missouri, and Indiana are all in play. Neither Trump nor Clinton may win Utah which is a huge loss for Trump. There are less than 90 days to the election, and if the polls remain the same, Hillary Clinton could be on her way to a historic victory.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

See this is how the map was supposed to look. Even a month ago you could see Clinton really only had a projected 10 electoral vote lead. Things are shifting. While there is time to change this and maybe were jumping the gun, but it’s not likely. The majority of polls have the first look. Virginia is not longer being deemed a swing state. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan are becoming safe Clinton states. New Hampshire is becoming a reach. If Trump can not clean up his rhetoric I would project Clinton pulls further away.

If the Election Were Today


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

If the election were today Hillary Clinton would have dominated Donald Trump and that’s if. At this point in the election a candidate with this big of a lead has historically taken home the win. Things are looking good for Clinton, she has some leeway in this election. Even if this race tightens up as it looked like it would a couple weeks ago Clinton still wins. As we showed you Clinton is up big in Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. I would expect to see North Carolina join that list.

Red States Which are in Play


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So here are the states which have voted the same since 2000, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, one district in Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada have voted for both parties since 2000. Below are states which are now in play.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

I have the state which are blue leaning all in dark blue because the polls show there is not much chance Clinton loses any states which have been historically blue since 2000. Virginia is now safely blue in part due to here running mate.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

Battleground states Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada were battlegrounds coming into this election. Each of them are leaning Clinton at the moment, but Trump could possibly still win Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada. North Carolina is distancing themselves. Georgia and Arizona are likely states Clinton flips. In play are South Carolina, Mississippi, Alaska, Utah, Missouri, one district in Nebraska, and even the lead for Trump in Texas is becoming slim. So as you can see this election is heating up and the polls are currently favoring Hillary Clinton.

Wrapping Up

Right now we may be jumping the gun, but in the past few election we have not see this kind of lead in key battleground states. We will keep you updated, but no longer can these number be attributed to the convention. Clinton has a sizable lead, and while the race is likely to tighten up a lot will need to change if Donald Trump wants back in this race.

5 Things on My Mind Right Now

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  1. Here’s to hoping Donald Trump’s plummet in the polls continues, we can ill afford to elect such a toxic personality if we want to progress as a nation. Very few times in my life time have I advocated so strongly against a candidate, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever done so. In many prominent polls Trump trails Clinton by a double digit margin. I know Hillary Clinton is not the perfect candidate, but the other option is not a candidate at all. This should not be a close race.
  2. Speaking of other candidates, many people would like to explore the third party, but here’s the issue, cue Ralph Nader, and ask President Gore, oh, right that didn’t happen. Let’s not make this mistake. People will try and say a vote for Stein or Johnson is just that a vote for one of them, they don’t understand politics. Trump’s now slimmer chances of winning are potentially only alive because. Not to mention most people who want to vote for one of these candidates have no idea what they stand for. Look into the candidates, and unless you want mass removal of government you may not want to look at the Libertarian movement. Libertarian’s policies are further right than average Republicans. Make no mistake there is a reason why Libertarian’s are not sweeping the polls. Seriously, defeating Trump should be priority #1, if your so adamant about voting a third party candidate, please try another election.
  3. I am looking forward to the Olympics, and I hope it will be a nice break from some of the chaotic politics. Lets support our athletes and cheer for the gold.
  4. I know a lot of people are happy to see Alex Rodriguez go, but he was without a question one of the greatest statistical players of all time. Let me point out all the A-Frauders, Alex Rodriguez actually never failed a drug test, and for the past decade or so there have been test in place. If A-Rod was a cheater, he was a really good one. So while there are clear links and comments, A-Rod is not like Bonds, Sosa, or McGwire, he actually played during a time where testing was in place.
  5. More on baseball, the Cubs are back dominating again and here’s to hoping this is the year. They have the hustle, they have the muscle, the Chicago Cubs appear to be on their way.