The baseball season ended today. The A's didn't (why is spellcheck telling me didn't is spelled wrong?) do very well at all this year, especially in the second half. The weird part for me is that back in March, I got to go to spring training in AZ and do a video with some of the players for 2K sports.
In March, every single one of the players are bright-eyed and bushy tailed. They all think they're team is going to make the playoffs and possibly win the World Series. All of the players are there in AZ with their wives and girlfriends having a great time. And even though I was only there two days, I could tell that for most of the players, it seems like one huge fraternity. Players from separate teams were hanging out with each other and coaches from different teams doing the same. It's exciting to be around that.
Now it's September. The season is over. But for a lot of those guys, the season was over just a few short months after the season started. It has to be a weird feeling to work in a profession where you literally bust your hump to workout, eat right, train and stay on top of your game for the 5 months your team is off during the off-season, only to play for a team that is out of contention from the get-go.
I can't imagine working behind a desk all day, towards some huge goal like "The Corporate Super Bowl" or something, only to know that you have absolutely no shot at winning it, from a very early point in the season. I wonder how athletes stay motivated to perform well, stay in shape, eat right and get fired up to keep playing when it becomes obvious there's really no need to because your team sucks. Pride? Money? The fans? I wonder how they stay motivated.
Sure it would be nice to be payed millions to play a game for a living, 6 months out of the year. It'd be nice to have all the fame, fortune, perks and everything else that goes with it. But then what. What do you do with the rest of your time? What do you when after 10 years, you can't play the game anymore? What do you fall back on? What happens when the fans turn on you? What happens when girls stop wanting to hang out with you? What happens when you feel empty inside because in the end, it really is just a game?
That's why as I grow a little older and wiser, and especially these last few months, I'm glad that God called me to be a pastor. It's a 24/7/365 job that has no off-season. In ten years I won't be too old to do it, in fact in ten years I'll be better at it than I am now. God won't turn on me. My "fans" won't demand I get traded. (Alright, maybe they will) And I definitely won't have an empty feeling inside of me wondering "what's next?"
There's a reason I never felt compelled to move to Los Angeles to pursue my passion of entertaining. I believe it's because in the end, I would have felt empty and incomplete. Yes I'm 30, and yes it sucked the last 12 years not knowing what I was called to do, but I think becoming a pastor will allow me a lot of the same perks as being an athlete or celebrity. Not the financial or fame perks, but things like being able to move my schedule around to spend more time with my family, being able to attend my children's events and things during the middle of the week in the afternoons, being able to travel and experience the world without worrying if I have enough vacation time and things like that.
I had this thought today of how strange it must be for athletes to have 5 months of non-stop "go go go" and everything that goes along with that, then for it to stop IMMEDIATELY on September 28th. I'd rather have a tad more consistency in my life so that when I do experience downtime, it won't be so long until I get to use my skills again.
Just like Metallica, this is sad but true. And humiliating. If you've ever wanted to make fun of me for something, read on.
I don't know what it is, but I have a love/hate relationship with pasta. I love it because it's quick to make and also rather tasty, but I hate it because it's not the greatest for you in terms of health, and because if I eat it relatively close to going to bed, I get stomach cramps in the early morning.
So last night Nicki got home around 9pm from her Bible study. She was hungry and so was I. She wanted to make some chicken, but we decided to make some chicken ravioli instead. After we ate, I studied for my Christian Foundations 1 test until about 12:30 am. Things were great.
That was, until 3am. At 3am I was woken up from severe stomach cramps. I don't know if you've ever been woken up out of a dead sleep with any kind of pain, but it sucks. So I wake up, naked, because that's how I sleep, and go to our 5 foot by 5 foot bathroom within our bathroom. I sit down, and just start waiting it out, like normal. It usually takes about 10 minutes for the cramps to go away once I hit the porcelain God. And for some reason when this happens (about once a month or so) I always think of Donavan McNabb. I think it's because I heard him do an interview once about getting stomach cramps before games. Anyway, I digress.
So I'm sitting there, in pain. It's getting worse. Worse than it's ever been. I'm thinking "Wow, I am NOT doing well right now, this is incredibly painful and worse than ever." Then it got to the point where I involuntarily started making these noises, like wailing. Then I remember my back getting extremely sweaty.
The next thing I remember is Nicki hovering over me, snapping her fingers, saying "What the heck are you doing on the floor? What is wrong with you?" My eyes weren't open yet, I just kept hearing her say that. So I start opening my eyes and I am in the 1 foot by 5 foot nook between the wall and the toilet. I had passed out from the pain. And since my face and teeth hurt like HELL today, I figure that I bashed the left side of my face on the bathroom wall on my down after passing out, then I must have bashed my mouth on the bathroom tile floor. I don't know how long I was out. But I do remember having this CRAZY dream while out, and being extremely confused and disorientated when I came to.
Poor Nicki. Imagine you're in her shoes. It's 3am, you get up to check on your husband who went to the bathroom and when you open the door you find him naked on the floor, out COLD. I'll be shocked if she ever has sex with me again.
Sometimes when I'm playing Bejeweled 2, I pretend it's being broadcast on ESPN 7, much like another non-sport, poker, is broadcast on ESPN 2. Here are some of the things I imagine the announcer saying:
"He is playing with TREMENDOUS stamina".
"He's playing WITHOUT a "go=to" move Jim! Reckless abandon! This CANNOT end well!" (See the 3 red cubes on the bottom left of the screen grab? See how it's at the very bottom of the board, thus leaving me free to do anything else I want to with the rest of the board? Well, that's what I call a "go-to" move, because I only use it as a last resort if I have no more moves left.)
"We haven't seen a marathon like this in ages. Not since Randy Norton in '97"
"At some point he's got to make a mistake. He's been playing too smart a game."
"All he needs is that green jewel to fall one place and he'll have a HYPER CUBE!"
Anyway, those are some of the things I pretend I hear when I'm playing Bejeweled 2. In other news, the Burger King near my house says "Try a BK Wrapper for $1.39". Except they forgot to put the dot in the price, so it reads "Try a BK Wrapper for $139". I went there with my brother tonight and said "I don't care HOW good it is, there's NO way I'm paying $139 for a BK Wrapper".
I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream is gone from me. Back in July when I found out that the city of Roseville had an adult-male flag football team, visions of touchdowns and wins danced through my head. I didn't know very many people here in Lincoln. But I did know a few guys who knew a few guys. I should have realized that the ordeal it took just to collect the money from the guys in order to pay for the league dues was a sign to QUIT.
Fast forward to the first week of the season. I had myself and 11 other guys. We played hard, but lost a close game. I was really excited and looking forward to the next week. Then the wheels fell off the bus. The original guys from my team were as follows: Ricky, my friend Dan that I've known 18 years, my friends Justin and Mike that I've known 5 years, my friend Nolan that I'd met about 3 months prior, his friend Jason and Ryan, a guy Craig that bought my PS3 from me back in April, his TaeKwon Do partner Cedric, his cousin Anthony, a guy named Eddie that was a friend of a friend, and his friend Walter.
After the first game of the season my friend Dan quit. For no good reason. That sucked. A week later we had a practice on a Sunday night, and Jason tore his hamstring, out for the season. Walter's friend Tom replaced Jason, so we were back at 11 guys. The next game Walter and Tom no showed without calling. The next morning Walter called me to tell me he decided to move to Oklahoma with Tom for a business opportunity. He left that morning. We were now down to 9 guys. (We need 7 to play). A few days after Walter and Tom left town, Eddie stabbed his hand while drunk and trying to cut a tomato. He's out for the season too now. We were now down to 8 guys. The next game Craig got sick, and was unable to play, so we played with 7 guys and no subs. We lost.
My friend Justin then enlisted his roommate to play in the next game with us, and he also enlisted his friend Mark. We still lost the next game, but I felt like we were having fun and getting better again. The next game a couple of guys no showed and no called, and Ryan, arguably our most football intelligent player, and all out beast, tore his ACL and MCL on the first play of the game. Out for the season. The next day, Chris, Justin's roommate that played with us the night before, sprained his ankle while playing with his neice. So he was out for the season too.
Last week only 6 guys showed up. We were supposed to have 9, but 3 guys called me and or text messaged me about a half hour before the game letting me know that they weren't going to be able to make it, for various reasons. We had to forfeit, which costed me $10 because I am the team captain. However, it turns out that the team we forfeited to, has also had commitment issues, and were down to 7 guys themselves. The captain of that team and I talked after the game, and decided that when the new season starts on October 21st, we will be combining teams. So that's cool I guess.
Anyway, I've gone from making video's for my flag football experience, to being completely underwhelmed and tired of hearing excuses along with the lack of commitment. (I realize that a few cases of people not being able to play were completely understandable and truthful) What I don't understand is how you can pay $50 to play for ONE hour on a Tuesday night, and be THAT uncommitted. I am thankful that a handful of guys have been to every game and practice, and are sincerely having a good time.
So there you have it. It's literally been one thing after another. We have a game tonight in 90 minutes, and along with giving everyone a printed schedule with highlighted start times, I also email them and text message them to remind them. I honestly have no idea who's going to show up or not. One thing is for sure. I'll be there.
And by the way, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is an EXCELLENT movie. I'm watching it right now as I type this.
I will admit, I haven't watched baseball since the All-Star game...
Something about getting my hopes up EVERY single year only to have them be shattered again and again. The A's were doing pretty good this season before the All Star break. In fact, if I remember correctly, they were only 3 games out of first place a few days before the All Star game. (By the way, I'm watching Iron Man on Blu Ray right now. Eat that.) I knew going into the season that we didn't have a shot of winning the division. I knew that. But gal-dangit if the A's didn't play above their expectations and actually made me a serious believe for the first half of the season.But then, true to Billy Beane form, right after the All-Star game, he started trading away our best players. AGAIN. And AGAIN, we started to lose a lot more games than we were winning. Rich Harden, gone. Joe Blanton, gone. There were a couple of other guys too that were let go or demoted. I'm done with baseball for good I think. Maybe when the A's move to Fremont and can actually afford to keep their good players I'll start watching again. But until then, I can't keep getting attached to these players only to have them get traded and stuff. My heart just can't take it.
Anyway, the reason for this post is because I just read an article on cnnsi.com about teams that "could play spoilers" for the playoffs. If you're not familiar with that term, let me explain. "Playing spoiler" means that your teams sucks hard, and the only way you're going to come out to the ballpark for the final few months of the season is because either A) You're a baseball die-hard and hate yourself, B) You forgot that football season started, C) You are writing a college thesis on bad baseball teams and need to research, D) Someone gave you free tickets. "Playing spoiler" means that your team, which has no chance of making the playoffs, is going to be playing some playoff bound teams, and if your team wins, it could possibly knock those potential playoff bound teams out of the playoffs. I am REALLY sick of that being the theme and strategy to get people to support their teams at the end of the year.
I have no suggestions on what baseball could do in order to fix this. I am merely tired of that being the A's end of the season story, with the exception of a couple years ago when they made the playoffs. The NFL season has a much more exciting season, because they only play 16 games and every game really counts. Even if the 49ers suck again this year, I'll still watch because the season is so short and every game is so crucial. If you want to read a much funnier article about why baseball sucks, click here. It's a short read.
One of the books I had to purchase for my Spiritual Dimensions of Leadership class was "Strengths Finder 2.0". It's not really a book per say, but more like a guide to discover and cultivate the strengths you possess. In the book there is a little rip away cardboard envelope that has a code for you to take an online "Strengths Finder 2.0" test. It took me about a half hour to take it, but man, did it nail me. There are 34 possible "themes" someone could have, and this test discovers your top 5. In order to take the test, you have to purchase the book unfortunately, or go to the strengthsfinder.com website and purchase the test. I believe it's $20. Here are my top 5 "themes". For those of you who know me, you'd be hard pressed to disagree. (For descriptions of all 34 themes, click here)
Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life's mysteries.
You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation. Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seems to be. But either way, people want to be around you. Their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious. Lacking your energy and optimism, some find their world drab with repetition or, worse, heavy with pressure. You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit. You inject drama into every project. You celebrate every achievement. You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Some cynics may reject your energy, but you are rarely dragged down. Your Positivity won't allow it. Somehow you can't quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one's sense of humor.
You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn't mean that you don't have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. They are inevitable. Indeed, on some level you actually look forward to them. You are, at heart, a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of work are pulling you in many different directions at once.
If you possess a strong Belief theme, you have certain core values that are enduring. These values vary from one person to another, but ordinarily your Belief theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics - both in yourself and others. These core values affect your behavior in many ways. They give your life meaning and satisfaction; in your view, success is more than money and prestige. They provide you with direction, guiding you through the temptations and distractions of life toward a consistent set of priorities. This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships. Your friends call you dependable. "I know where you stand," they say. Your Belief makes you easy to trust. It also demands that you find work that meshes with your values. Your work must be meaningful; it must matter to you. And guided by your Belief theme it will matter only if it gives you a chance to live out your values.
Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet - lots of them.
I love you both so much. I could have never imagined how deeply and strongly that love was like, until I watched you come into this world and held you both after you were born. I hope that even at your early ages, you know that your father loves you with all of his hear, mind and soul. I'd do anything for you, anything.
Kayla, before you were born I wrote about 10 letters to you. I had planned on giving them to you between the ages of 16 and 18. I wrote down my feelings on how excited, scared and blessed I was to have been given the gift of becoming your father. I wrote down what I was doing, literally at that moment. I specifically remember one of the sentences being "Jango just came in here and licked my arm. He's a funny dog". I put pictures of your mother and I in the letters, and just spoke my mind and my heart. Then a funny thing happened. My computer had a loss of data. The "funny" thing was, was that all of the data it lost was confined to about 11 months. Beginning in September of 2005 through April of 2006. Unfortunately, those were the 7 months that I had written your letters in. Bottom line is, they are gone baby gone. I tried for months to get the data back, but I couldn't. I paid for software, and went on just about every message board and website I could to find a solution. Anyway, the reason I'm telling you this is because I want you to know I had some pretty neat letters for you to read.
So now you're 2 years old. You're up in your princess room right now sleeping. Today you were a brat. A REAL brat. I don't know if you were tired (which might be the case, considering when we got home from running errands at 5pm, we put you down and you're STILL asleep at 9pm). But you drove your mother and I crazy today. You kept stealing your sisters pacifier in the car, you screamed almost the entire time we were in Wal-Mart, and all you said all day was "I don't WANT to do that." You're funny. My mom tells me that you're EXACTLY like how I was at that age. Ornery as hell. I deserve it I guess. You're hilarious. My little Kayla monster. You bring so much joy and laughter to my life. I think you're going to grow up and be an intelligent leader. A woman who helps others. You help mom and I so much with Brielle. You've loved her since the second you saw her. And here's the proof. This was minutes after she was born.
Brielle. My little me face. Even though you're a girl, I feel like every time I watch you, I'm watching myself as a baby. YOU BRIELLE, ARE A PAIN IN THE BUTT. And I mean that in the nicest way. By the time you're reading this, you're probably aware of the fact that you were born with Jaundis, adding about a kajillion dollars to the cost of your birth, and that you swallowed a batter, costing us about another bajillion dollars from the ambulance ride, and hospital stay where they took the battery out of your stomach. But the most tiring part of being your dad, is that you crawl everywhere you're not supposed to crawl, play with everything you're not supposed to, put EVERYTHING you find on the ground in your mouth, and you have horrible sleeping habits. Just horrible. You make your mother and I very tired by looking after you. You're just a free spirit that has no regard for your own safety, or the safety of others. ;) The funniest thing about you though, is that you do EVERYTHING with a huge smile. You think everything that you do (the things you're not supposed to) is funny. You climb up the stairs when we're not looking, and then when we catch up to you, you turn around and smile. You crawl and attack the dogs, turning around to smile at us while you do it. You are rarely sad, and you only cry when you're either hungry, hurt or tired.
Tonight you and I had the whole house to ourselves, because your mom was gone and Kayla was sleeping. You were absolutely precious. In the past week, you've started talking gibberish, which is very entertaining. And you've also started mimicking our hand movements and gestures. Two thing you did today though, made me fall in love with you more than I did yesterday. The first thing you did was a moment I'll never forget. I was feeding you a bottle in my arms, and you reached out with your little hand and stroked my face. And it wasn't just a random thing, you actually kept your hand up there and traced the contours of my face for a while. You knew exactly what you were doing. I was very moved. The second thing you did was just as cute. I sat you in your high chair while I prepared little tiny chicken nuggets for you. After I put all the little pieces on your tray, I sat right in front of you and watched you eat. You were starving, and started shoving as many of them into your mouth as could fit. And then Brielle, you picked one up and put it to my face. I was kind of confused. But you opened your mouth. So I opened my mouth. And then you put the little piece of chicken nugget into my mouth. You were feeding daddy. It was unbelievable. I almost started crying. At 11 months, you already understand so much. You fed me one more piece of chicken, and then you wanted to get down. We played for a little while longer, then I put you to bed.
Girls, I love being your father. It's the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. There is nothing else on this Earth I was made more for, than to be your father. It has taught me the real definition of love, devotion, sacrifice and care. I know as the years go by, you're each going to resent me because I'm not going to allow you to be like all of your schoolmates and dress, say and do the things most of them are going to be allowed to dress, talk and do. You're not going to understand that I love you enough to raise you with morals, respect for others and respect for yourself. When I married your mother and we decided (from the second we knew we were going to get married) that we wanted children, I promised myself that I would raise you like children in this country used to be raised.
Every night before I go to bed I go in your rooms and check on you. No matter how late it is or how tired I am. Sometimes I just stare at each of you and thank God for the wonderful gift that is YOU. You're my heaven on Earth.