Saturday, September 30, 2006


Back in July, I was going through my old baseball cards. It had been a few years, and it brought back quite a few memories. Although, funny enough, time has a way of eventually showing you what really matters. Looking back, only a handful of my thousands of baseball cards have any meaning to me; and only one has a lesson.

Back before the 1990 Major League Baseball season began, I was just a kid (10 years) and, for whatever reason, decided that when it came to being a fan of the Reds, I was going to finally go all out. Previously, I had been a casual fan. Sure, I always got mild amusement anytime I saw the Reds' mascot on the front page of the Dayton Daily News with either a smile (they won) or frown (they lost), but now it was time for me to really get on board. Anyone could pay attention for some of the time. I was going to be one of the few, the proud, who paid attention all of the time.

As the season began, I didn't have incredibly high hopes for sticking to my plan. I knew it would be tough. After all, I had never done this before. But I also knew it was worth a shot. It would take discipline, desire, and dedication. Only the strong would survive.

The Reds burst out of the gates and won their first nine games, and my favorite player, Barry Larkin, was batting 14 for 21 (.667). Amazingly enough, the Reds were making my "job" easy. In fact, many of my days began with me getting the newspaper at 5am, looking at the little box in the upper right hand corner of the front page with the Reds score, and then flipping to the Sports page where I would stay for easily half an hour. Many nights I would get to catch part of the Reds game on TV, and when I went to bed I'd be listening to Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman call the game on radio. Whenever the Reds would clinch a victory, Brennaman would exclaim, "And this one belongs to the Reds!" After all the post-game coverage and interviews were completed (oftentimes late at night when I probably should have been asleep), Joe Nuxhall would sign off by saying that he was, "Rounding third and heading home."

I mentioned earlier that Larkin was my favorite player, and I had a baseball card of his hanging in my room during that season. Although, in truth, I was a huge fan of the entire team. As I reflect back on that season, my hopes were in the Reds. They were the primary reason I was excited to get up in the morning. When they were on a roll, so was I; and when they slumped, well, life just wasn't as fun for me. (I'm not the first 10-year old in the history of the world to idolize a baseball team.)

But this past July, amongst all the dust and memories of my baseball card collection, I found another baseball card of note. In fact, it was the only other card I had hanging in my room during that 1990 season.

Pete Rose was and is a living legend in Ohio. From the time I first began learning about baseball, I heard stories of Pete Rose and how he was the "All-time Hits King" and played for the "Big Red Machine." When I went to my first Reds game at the age of 6 or 7, I remember my dad pointing out Pete Rose (at that time the manager) as he walked to the mound to make a pitching change.

When Rose's betting scandal made news in 1989, I didn't know what to think. I was just a kid and while I didn't want Rose to be guilty, I knew that didn't mean he was necessarily innocent. From all the evidence I had heard in the media and from family members, it didn't sound good.

Across from Pete Rose, on the other side of the whole gambling mess was the baseball commissioner, Bart Giamatti. His job was to protect the integrity of the game and, ultimately, decide if Rose should be banned from the Hall of Fame. In many circles in Ohio (and nationally), Giamatti was unpopular. As you can imagine, Giamatti was in the press all the time--and it was probably very stressful for him.

In September 1989, with the days of summer becoming shorter, the baseball season winding down, and only eight days after banning Pete Rose from baseball, Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack.

As I thought back on it, I was a little surprised that I had hung Giamatti's card in my room. Although, I do think part of the reason I did it was to remind myself about what's important in life. Even though there was a time or two when I remember wanting to take Giamatti's card down (and possibly replace him with a Reds player), he stayed up the whole season. It was the least I could do.

I don't really have favorite sports teams anymore. Sure, I have my geographical or sentimental preferences, but not the way I used to. Instead, I'm a fan of the game. Whether it's baseball, football, basketball, whatever... I just have an appreciation for the beauty of sport. With baseball, this is especially true. My appreciation for the game is much deeper than back in 1990 when all I cared about was whether my morning paper would have a smiling or frowning Reds baseball face.

Since 1990, the Reds have yet to return to the World Series. In fact, more time separates this season from their last World Series win than separated 1990 and the Big Red Machine glory days. Time sure does fly.

Just a few short months ago in July, I turned over that Bart Giamatti baseball card and read the back of it. I had completely forgotten what was there, and I nearly blogged about it that very day. But something told me to wait. As in baseball, many things in life require patience and waiting for the right moment. Sure, you need to practice, be disciplined and aggressive, but when you get tossed a changeup, you better wait a little if you want to make good contact. Sometimes you have to let the game come to you.

As it turns out, the back of Giamatti's card had an excerpt from his book, "The Green Fields Of The Mind." Even though his words were simple, his death brings this book passage even more to life. Here is the excerpt, which struck me as poetic, if not prophetic:

"It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it goes... And summer is gone."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article on their front page entitled Polygamy. (Utah's open little secret). It's an interesting look into what is a much larger culture than most of us realize.

Obviously, the article is likely in response to the capture of FBI Most Wanted criminal, and notorious polygamist, Warren Jeffs.

The interesting thing in the article is that practicioners of this form of Mormonism do not hide the fact that they are pushing for legalization.
It's families like these [abuse-filled] that polygamy advocates hold up when they make their most frequent argument: decriminalization. They say that if the fear of prosecution is removed, polygamous groups could stop living in seclusion and secrecy, the very conditions that often enable many of the alleged abuses. Even more, they would then feel less fear about going to authorities to turn in abusers within their ranks.

'It would be all about going after the crimes, not the culture,' said Anne Wilde, a former plural wife who now is widowed and the co-director of Principle Voices, a pro-polygamy group.
I find it hard to believe this will ever be the case, but I guess the slope is slippery.

If you are interested in reading more about the fundamentalist Mormon culture, I highly recommend Jon Krakeuer's Under the Banner of Heaven: The Story of a Violent Faith, which is a fascinating look at Mormon history and the disturbing undertones present today within many sects of the faith.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Does God want us to be rich?

That was the question the lead story in last week's Time magazine asked. What do you think?

According to the article,
...a full 61% [of Christians] believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%—a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America—agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.
Wow, 61% is almost a majority. Proponents of this message are often called purveyors of what's called the 'prosperity gospel'.

Examples of preachers in our era who at least partially claim this credo include Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar. It's a message that has its roots in the Pentecostal movement.

All evangelicals definitely do not agree with this theology. The 'money' quote finds Rick Warren correcting,
This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?
Nicely put. Luke 6:20 says,
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Jesus goes so far as to say in Matthew 19:23,
I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
What does this mean for our country? I have recently been reading a couple books--The Irresistable Revolution and Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger--that argue we certainly will be held accountable. We live as and among the wealthiest people in the world. Does God want us to be this rich? It's a question we must ask ourselves.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Site of the Day -- Spell by Flickr

So this one is pretty cool. When you see it, you'll understand. Spell anything you want via pictures of letters taken from Flickr. Check it out.

W E S - John Doe\ T-time Y

Saturday, September 16, 2006


This pictorial journey across America is worth sharing. I traveled near and through many of these areas on family vacations as a youth.

To Utah with a family of six in a Geo Metro. Talk about memories.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The World Keeps Turning

Our lives are but a whisper of a wind felt on the face of the universe. The world keeps turning as we go about our daily toil.

Since I've begun this post, 1,087 people have been born and 442 have died. None that I've known. The Earth is brimming with constantly turbulent life. The site Breathing Earth displays it well. Blink, we're here, and blink, we're gone.

If this world was all there was, our hope would be for naught.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye to the Crocodile Hunter

Today we lost one of the great personalities in recent television history. How else can you explain the fact that today when he died, everyone knew exactly who was being talked about, even when he was only referred to as the Crocodile Hunter? The Crocodile Hunter was a man with an extreme passion for the created world. His excitement for animals engendered thrill in all of us as we ventured into the world with him. Today he died.

One of my most distinct memories of the Crocodile Hunter's TV show was when I and the group of friends who I had traveled to Florida with counted down to the Y2K New Year watching a Crocodile Hunter marathon.
Steve Irwin was 44. He is survived by his wife Terri and children Bindi Sue and Bob.