Monday, June 30, 2014

Of Merton and Mileage....

Ron Rolheiser states, "We have in us spirit, soul, and what we do with that soul is our spirituality." His words remind me that my spirituality is something I shape and others mold. It is an unfolding reality; it is the deepest part of who I am.

The course I teach, Sports and Spirituality aims to help students understand their spirituality and develop one that is life-giving. According to Rolheiser, one way to do this is to name and reflect on "what feeds your soul?" It's an important and fun question to think about. Where do I find spiritual nourishment? What gives me joy? What challenges me in a way that leads to growth? 

And a good way to get some answers is to consider the opposite. What sucks your soul? What leaves you feeling empty? "Harry Potter and the Prince of Azakaban" provides as interesting mechanism for this concept which my students are quite familiar with: the Dementor. 

"Dementors are hooded dark arts creatures who used to follow Voldemort. They were the guards for Azkaban who have recently been released. They have the ability to suck all good thoughts out of those around them. Their kiss is a fate worst than death as it will steal your soul." According to Rolheiser and to J.K. Rowling, losing one's soul is a fate worse than death. My students agree.

And so I ask them to name three things that feed their soul and three things that suck their soul. I encourage them to be practical and to identify these matters with perspective. Although homework make "suck one's soul," it's also a gift to receive an education. They get it (First World Problems is a great resource for these). Soul nourishment often comes by way of music, friendship, service, and laughter. Sucking one's soul is in gossip, a job loss, betrayal, conflict or doubt. 

Summer fog sucks my soul. When I reveal this truth, my students give me an incredulous look. "What are you doing here?!" they query. Our school, located in the Sunset district in San Francisco is known for foggy days and nights that stay for days or weeks at a time. An old joke among those who know and love this western neighborhood is that "the sun set and forgot to rise again." When it's sunny, it's a glorious place. But most days of the year, we are lucky if we can see the beach just 10 blocks west of campus. 

This is a typical day in July. Probably a high of 57 degrees? Judah Street.

To combat the soul sucking, I make an effort to literally and metaphorically "get out of the fog." I visit my parents in the East Bay. I feel very fortunate that a sport I love—golf—invites me to play in sunny locales all over the Bay Area. Just a little bit of sun lifts my spirits and allows me to give more to others. Self-knowledge in this capacity works wonders. Soul sucking be gone.

The only wrench in my equation is that fog can also be a gift. I am never more aware of this than when I return from a trip on the East Coast where my beloved humidity prevents me from running outdoors.
Day 7 (without washing hair) at CPMC hospital, June 2010. Showing my battle scar.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with a heart condition known as ARVD. This means that I should not get my heart rate above 150 beats/minute. To do so, can advance my disease and more practically speaking, it puts me at risk for my defibrillator administering therapy.  Yes, I want to stay heart healthy. Yes, I love running. Yes, heat, humidity and mileage is a dangerous cocktail I should not drink. Does it suck my soul? Yes. Fear... Waiting for the shoe to drop.... I wonder if I have so many runs left in me...that can be frightening. But the fog, changes this equation.

Fog keeps the city cool in the summer months. It means I can run longer and farther that I might otherwise be able to do. It means less worry, and more endorphin release. It means more time with prayer. How so? For me, running is prayer.
Thomas Merton: Contemplative. Convert, Catholic.
Thomas Merton, a Catholic spiritual writer and Cistercian monk once wrote "the very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me." Indeed they are. I hate the fog, but it's one of God's great gifts of mercy. It allows me to do what I love. And in that way, my soul is fed. My spirituality is channeled in a way that is life-giving, grateful and free. 

Ask yourself, What feeds your soul? What sucks your soul? And once you identify them both, look for the contradiction between the two. Perhaps it will serve as a window to God's mercy. Not a bad way to understand one's spirituality.

Photo Credits
Spiritual Growth

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happy 40th Mr. November: A Few Things Worth Knowing about Derek Jeter

I never thought this day would come, and thanks to the PGA, I can buy a little more time. But, I'm at the age where very few professional athletes are my age, or older. The great American poet, Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought” And celebrating the great Derek Jeter's 40th birthday, just yesterday reminded me of that truth.
June 26, 1974. 40 years young...
Many would scoff at the idea of 40 as old age, but for those of us recently doing what we can to accept the new number, it's hard to deny it feels otherwise. Indeed, it's a milestone. I have yet to type in those digits when the treadmill at my gym asks me. Height and weight? No problem. My age? Not a chance. However, 40 has also ushered in the invitation to reflect back upon all the graces in my life, accomplishments and personal growth and it has harkened me to look ahead to what is next. I don't doubt it's any different for "Captain Clutch" as he bids farewell to Major League baseball this season.

I'm not a big Yankee fan but I do love baseball; it's hard to deny the professionalism, class, and gifts Jeter has brought to it all. In that spirit, I thought I would offer a few thoughts on what any sports fan can and ought to appreciate about Number 2.
"The Captain"
Elected in 2003, Jeter has the longest tenure as captain of any New York Yankee. Considering the legends that have worn those pinstripes, this is that says a lot. 

I once found myself in the middle of a very spirited debate about the need for captains in organized sports. I couldn't believe that so many athletic directors and coaches held passionate views against what I consider a key leadership role.

Part of what fueled my support for captains is that in times of real challenge or strife, we need peer to peer support. Captains are the go-to source to take action. No where was this more evident than among the Yankees in the aftermath of 9/11. The video "Nine Innings from Ground Zero" chronicles the role that baseball played in re-stabilizing a community in mourning, in offering people a place to gather and a temporary escape from the necessary work among wreckage, and more. 

The role Jeter played is incredible. To say he must have been very uncomfortable at times is an understatement. He had to have asked himself "I'm supposed to make this better?!" But he showed up at firehouses and the armory. He called a young girl whose father was the pilot on Flight 93. He even met the President in the bowels of Yankee Stadium and urged him to throw a strike, from the mound. And of course, what he did on the diamond leads to...
Why He's Mr. November
For those of you who do know, I envy that your guy did what he did, when he did. And if you don't know, please stop reading right now and get your hands on any video clip that demonstrates how he earned this nickname (again "Nine Innings from Ground Zero says it well)

Remember, the Yankees already had a "Mr. October" in Reggie Jackson. But here's a clue. Since baseball was delayed after the events of 9/11, the World Series games were played in the month of November.... simply magic.

Jeter doesn't speak Spanish
Evidently, baseball players who don't know otherwise come up to Jeter all the time and start speaking in Spanish to him. Because of his skin tone, people often think he's from the Dominican Republic, like many other players in MLB. Not exactly..

Jeter was born in to Pequannock Township, New Jersey to Sanderson Charles Jeter, Ph.D. who is African American and Dorothy (nee Connors) who is of Irish and German descent. Maybe all races, creeds and cultures want a hold on him. I certainly see this in Michigan fans. In 1978, the Jeters moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Although he was recruited to play baseball for the Wolverines, he went pro right out of high school.

His contract
I'm not talking about the one Jeter's agent acquired for him that kept him with the Yankees for his entire career. No, I'm talking about the contract that Jeter's parents had him sign growing up. I would like to know when he first signed it, but every year Jeter signed off on what was acceptable and unacceptable forms of  behavior. I think it's brilliant.

We all do better when we know what those we love and respect expect of us, value and appreciate. Seems to me a contract sends that message loud and clear....and that it paid off!
There's only one #2
His Career
I'm not a huge Rick Reilly fan, but I love his piece "Jeter State of Mind." This fictional letter to Jeter's future children notes how incredible and unique his career has been. Reilly writes

He was the best player in baseball for a good 10 years straight and yet he never won a batting title, never won an MVP, never was the highest-paid player in the game. The only thing he did better than anybody else was excel: five rings, 13 All-Star games, the greatest New York Yankee since Mickey Mantle.
We've heard time and again that "age is just a number," but as far as I'm concerned, age...and numbers DO matter. We celebrated Jeter's 3,000 hits. When they retire his number, #2, I'm not sure any single digit numbers will be available for future New York Yankees. We'll look back on all he did and numbers will play their part when he was 18, 30 and 40. This fall, when we bid farewell to this baseball great, it will be hard to deny there are many great players in baseball, but there's only one Derek Jeter. Happy 40th my man. Welcome to the club.

Photo Credits
Jeter State of Mind
One Jeter

Monday, June 23, 2014

Michelle Wie: Her Mark on Women's and Men's Golf...

I want to talk about something I'm sure all American sports fans were eager to discuss today: the Women's US Open at Pinehurst, Number 2, right? 
Congratulations to Michelle Wie on her first US Open championship and LPGA major title.
No, I know what everyone carried in their hearts to the proverbial water cooler this morning. The tie between the US and Portugal in men's soccer action at the World Cup in Rio de Janiero left folks...Disappointed? Deflated? Cautiously optimistic? Enter in your sentiment here; this is what Sports talk radio is made of!

This World Cup has been touted as one of the most exciting with upsets, innumerable goals and more. And the US is in good shape with one win in their "group of death." But that goal by Varela in the last 20 seconds....

Regardless, what took place on the same course as the Men's US Open final just one week prior, should not be dismissed. And a good reason is because its victor, Michelle Wie, has made her mark on both the women's and the men's game of golf. 
 The observed similarity of her swing to that of Els, led some in the sports media to call her The Big Wiesy, a play on Els' nickname ofThe Big Easy
Wie captured her first Major on the LPGA on Sunday June 22, by shooting an even par 70. is A native of Hawaii and a Punahou alum—the alma mater of President Obama—Wie is one of the more popular figures in women's golf.  She starting playing golf professionally weeks before her 16th birthday in 2005. 

What is particularly interesting to me about this win is she held off her opponent Stacy Lewis by one stroke; Lewis shot a 66 on the day with 8 birdies. This is the most birdies made by a man or woman on the final round of the Open. Furthermore, to win, Wie made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. She did this one hole after shooting a double boogie on the 16th. Way to flush it.

At 6'0", Wie—a Korean American—"was both criticized and touted for competing against the men on the PGA Tour while still in high school. She talked about wanting to play in the Masters." I don't blame her. (

But Wie's golf numbers didn't add up. On the men's tour, she didn't make the cut in several tournaments, with disappointing performances, failing to break par at times, and withdrawing for a different reasons. 

I should dig deep to find out what she did to regroup. Did she amend her swing? Did she work with a sports psychologist flex her mental focus? Or did she just grow up? 
Wie completed her studies at Stanford University and graduated in the Spring of 2012. Because she had turned pro prior to college, she was unable to play for the Cardinal. 

For me, "The Big Wiesy" is worth discussing because I appreciate playing with the boys, but at the end of the day, I want to play my own game. Women do play golf differently, and that's not a bad thing. Golf isn't limited to one style of play—long drives and power hitting all day. No, the game requires finesse and precision too. A forceful hit followed by a soft touch. Men's and women's play offers both.

I'm not convinced Wie aimed to equalize the playing field, or in this case the red with the white (or blue or black) tees by showing up on the PGA Tour, but she made us follow the endeavor and raise questions in doing so. And she won't be the last one do so. For example, as reported on the Bleacher Report,  "College football may see its first every female defensive back. Shelby Osborne from Jeffersonville High School in Indiana has committed to play defensive back at Campbellsville, a NAIA program.  As my two nieces say: "GFG." Go for it girl. 

Would it be more exciting if she won on the men's tour? Maybe. But for the time being, I will enjoy her victory on the best stage in America for women's golf. She does too.
"I think that without your downs, without the hardship, I don't think you appreciate the ups and much as you do," Wie said, the gleaming trophy at her side. "I think the fact that I struggled so much, the fact that I kind of went through a hard period of my life, the fact that this trophy is right next to me, it means so much more to me than it ever would have when I was 15."

In 2003, Arnold Palmer stated that Wie is "probably going to influence the golfing scence as much as Tiger, or more. She's going to attract people that even Tiger didn't attract, young people, both boys and girls, and families." Looking at that quote in 2014 is quite telling, isn't it? No one would have guessed the story that has unfolded for both golfers. Wie just opened a new chapter. And it's one that didn't result in a tie, but a very sweet win.

Photo Credits
Wie wins
With EE

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Connection in Heroes and Shared Jersey Numbers

Numbers are funny things. No one wants to be reduced to one. And some of the greatest crimes against humanity have been brandished by putting a number in front of a name. But there's one domain where a number can connect us rather than reduce us. And that's in sports. How can that be true? The number we wear on our jersey.
This term for the no-hitter never gets old.

This morning I woke up to find out that one of the highest paid players in Major League baseball, Clayton Kershaw threw his first no-hitter. As a loyal San Francisco Giants fan, it's hard to appreciate anything Dodger blue. But that one thing that prevents me from total disgust is that he and I share something in common: a love for Will Clark. How do I know? This lefty chose #22 for that very reason, and that's fairly interesting given that he grew up in Dallas, TX (Giants fans consider "The Thrill our own, but I have to concede that ]Clark was a Ranger for a few years).

Learning about someone's favorite athlete (who is more often than not a hero) is similar to learning about their favorite book. It reveals what they value, what they aspire to, their style and what influences their thinking. And if it's a shared interest, it can connect you to another in a unique or personal way. 

March 19. 2012
For example, I loved hearing retired NBA basketball player Brent Barry explain why he chose the number 17. Barry, who now works as a sports commentator, wore #17 for the bulk of his career (San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets). When he was asked "How did you choose your uniform number" in an interview with Kenny Smith, Barry responded, 
"As you know Kenny, I was around the game from a very young age. I was really born into the game. My dad was a decent player. I had unique relationships with guys who were playing in the NBA. So my inspiration came from a guy who I followed growing up at Golden State who is Chris Mullin.  
I kept watching what it was that Chris did and it never—never changed. So the inspiration for me in terms of what Chris did throughout the course of his career was that work—good hard work and practice with purpose can keep you on a level and keep you in a place that is good for you. That’s what Chris taught me. 
He was my inspiration all the way through my career and I know that sounds strange. But if it worked for you then, it should work for you all the way through. And low and behold it did!"
I will never forget seeing Brent Barry in the Comcast booth on the night the Warriors retired Mully's jersey. I looked at him thinking he was going to enjoy the evening as much as I did. Mully is one of my favorite athletes and personal heroes for many of the reasons Barry addresses. Another is that he struggled with alcoholism and from what I know and have read, has remained sober for many, many years. What inspired Barry about Chris Mullin isn't something that is limited to the hardwood. What inspires me isn't either.

Young people are cautioned all the time to "surround yourself with good people. Your friends say a lot about who you are." But so do your heroes. Choose good ones and find out who theirs are. Numbers are just one way to do that.

Next posting: Pope Francis' heroes
NB: the June 2, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated ran a good read on Troy Tulowitzki. I'm sure Rockies fan already knows who he wears #2...for Derek Jeter

Photos Credits
No No

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What I Learned from the Detroit Pistons' Bad Boys: Truth in Tears

Another NBA season has come and gone. Watching LeBron exit the court while Coach Pop and Tim Duncan embraced one another made me wonder if someday we will watch a "30 for 30" about this era.

If you know me, you understand why I think in terms of future ESPN programming. For one, my brother thinks I should be a publicity agent for "30 for 30." #Dreamjob! When I enjoy an episode, I go out of my way to talk to others about it. "Bad Boys" the "30 for 30" about the Detroit Pistons basketball team in the late 80s is no exception.

Someone had to wear the black hat, and I was happy to be that person. Guess who...
For me, "Bad Boys" raises more questions than answers. At one point I found myself considering if I should purchase an old school "Pistons" t-shirt only to wonder in the next moment how and I why I was so emotionally captivated by these bruisers. I was crestfallen when they walked off the court without shaking hands with the Chicago Bulls, a team that beat them in four straight games (1991). As I watched Isaiah Thomas duck his head behind the big man Bill Laimbeer, I deemed their action "unforgivable." Minutes later, my feelings changed as they regretted their actions and I came to learn how the team and their unique chemistry unraveled quickly; one that has yet to recover. 
The infamous walk-off. Not okay.
I recommend watching "Bad Boys" for a number of reasons, but the primary one comes from a truth revealed by an unlikely source, in this context. Archbishop Oscar Romero said “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.” His words resonated with my experience of taking in this show.

Unlikely people for unlikely reasons in "Bad Boys" reveal how this is true. And what is equally remarkable is that you will find yourself crying with them. Believe me, everyone I've gone out of my way to talk to about this show agrees...

Listed below are three that captured my attention, imagination, heart strings and the box of Kleenex.

1. Isaiah Thomas: Relief
In 1989 Detroit swept the Lakers, ending another dynasty. The "Bad Boys" were NBA Champions. Bill Laimbeer, the 6'11 center said, 
"When that last second went off the clock, reality never set in. It gives me goosebumps even now. We’re champs?! We’re champs!" 
"I needed to go over to Isaiah and champion him. It wasn’t Magic or Bird, it wasn’t Jordan. He finally was a champion." 
"I can speak for myself only but I think Isaiah feels the same way. It’s exhilaration winning a championship and knowing what a great feeling it is…but actually, it’s relief."
Tears of relief aren't that common but they come from a very deep place. You know those tears when you see them. It was hard not to shed one with Isaiah as he lifted up the trophy.

I developed a new-found respect for my
friend John, another power FW when I learned
his jersey #44 is shared with this Bad Boy
2. Rick Mahorn: "It still hurts." 
For the 1990 season, the NBA expanded to include two new teams: the Orlando Magic and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Every pre-existing franchise was allowed to protect 8 players. One of the reasons the Pistons were strong for so long is because they were 10 players deep. This fateful draft took place at the same time as the Pistons' victory.

John Salley said "There was no Facebook, no social media. We returned to the locker room and they told us that Rick was picked up in the expansion draft (by the T-wolves). To have Rick go through it on that day, to have us go through it on that day that was awful."

Rick Mahorn adds, "It was the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. It hurts even talking about it today. I wanted to be that person to protect it (meaning the trophy for the next season). But you know….excuse me….."

Mahorn can't finish his sentence. Even 25 years later, it still hurts. This one cuts deep for you the viewer as well. There are but a one or two events in my life, that I can't recall without breaking down. To see this in one of the baddest of the bad boys changes everything. Mahorn played very dirty and yet understanding his role on the team, it's hard not to love the guy. 

Mahorn's departure also meant an end to an era. At the ceremony, Thomas announced, "one of the members of our team was traded. There can only be one "Bad Boys" basketball team. So this is their only championship title."

Pistons implemented the Jordan Rules
In 1991, Jordan fought back
Dennis Rodman: "I won something."
You've got to be kidding me, right? The Worm cried?  

In 1990 Dennis Rodman was inserted into the starting line-up, when his teammate Mark Aguirre said to head coach Chuck Daly that he was holding the team back. It was time for Rodman, the sixth man, to start. 

The result? The Pistons—defending champions—won 25 of their next 26 games with Rodman starting. One announcer said "he was the jack-in-the-box out of the box." All that the viewer sees for the next few minutes of tape is Rodman flying into the crowd as he attempts to make a save. "If I could go out there and break an arm, hey I’m going to do it," he said. The viewer believes it. I almost wanted him to.

Behind Rodman, the Pistons became the top defensive team in the league and he was honored as the "Defensive player of the year" He came a long way from mopping floors in an airport.

Today's Dennis Rodman said "I was SO happy to win that award. Oh my God, I knew what it meant to work hard and get the satisfaction and people actually appreciated it. They could have given me a lollipop for the award, I didn’t care. I won something in the NBA."

The program flashes back to a much younger Rodman. One without piercing and tattoos, one that did not hide behind his shades. He stood at the awards podium, a very thin 29 year old man who was not holding back one single tear. Amid his sobs, he admits, "I wanted this award so bad. This is so overwhelming. I owe it all to my teammates, Chuck Daly, everybody."

John Salley said "I used to think that whole bit about a team being a family was bulls*** until these guys. For Dennis, we were the closest thing he had to a family." I have no doubt Rodman wasn't the only one who cried that day. Something tells me his family members did too.

10 men deep, these guys were a family.
I should include Joe Dumars' incredible story about his father's death in this post, but as heart breaking and touching as it is, he tells it without tears. And tears can reveal so much.

My good friend Chad describes his 4-year old daughter Lucy as a little mystic. Just the other day, he overheard her say to her older sister an important realization. "Shelby," she said, "Did you know that sometimes people cry when they are happy too?" Watching "Bad Boys" you will shed tears of laughter, you will shed tears of joy and of sorrow. And most importantly, you may come to understand yourself a little better because of the tears you have cried. Enjoy

Photo Credits

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things I Love...Sports & Spirituality Style

One of my favorite blogs, Chic Coastal Living regularly posts photo collages entitled "Things I Love." I'm sure you have seen something like it. Without fail, something that the creator Desiree posts, resonates with me. 

One of my goals this summer is to learn how to create a similar posting. For now, I will create one that combines sports and spirituality in list form.

1. The term "wheels."

When an athlete is fast, you gotta say "he/she has great wheels." The image speaks for itself. As the word implies, this person can motor.

If you have wheels—yes—you can sprint, but it's different. 

I love the word "hustle" and believe you me, I appreciate every athlete who does—it's not a given. A person with wheels can move the ball. When the man on first has good ones, it's exciting to see what "Wheels" can and will do.

2. A good eucharistic minister.

I don't like the notion that we only appreciate the good when we know the bad, but that theory may apply in my ever deepening appreciation of a good eucharistic minister.

Administering the body and blood of Christ is an important task. And those who do so with direct eye contact, confident words, and even a small sense of joy enable me to receive the bread and wine with a prayerful gratitude and reverence. 

Those who are too controlling with the chalice or look over my shoulder as they raise the host make me appreciate those EMs who deliver the Lord with a positive presence.

3. The skirt in sports.
I played 18-holes at one of the most beautiful golf courses in Northern California yesterday. The setting and weather could not have been any more picture perfect...and yet I was distracted by one thing, and that thing has a name: golf skirt envy. 

The woman playing behind us had this fantastic Ping golf skirt. Rather than giving all of my attention to the task at hand, I thought too much about where I could purchase one like it. Some skirts just make sports better. 

I've never thought skirts and sports need be mutually exclusive. I still love the red tennis skirt issued to my teammates at Carondelet High School. Never a fan of the tennis dress, I am however pleased to see that running skirts are more popular. 

While a skirt just isn't practical for certain sports like volleyball or rowing, for those like lacrosse players who reference "skirts and sticks" quite often, the uniform can be an added bonus of playing on a team.

4. Pentecost.
It's the birthday of the Church; a good parish might even have a cake to celebrate. This feast day is one of my favorites because the prayers, psalms, and songs honor the Holy Spirit. Veni Sancte Spiritus or Come Holy Spirit, the underrated person of the Trinity.

Although I am sad to see the Easter Season come to a close, the Feast of Pentecost reminds we that we all have been called to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Co-CEO and host John Brenkus
5. ESPN's Sport Science
What teacher doesn't love a good cross-curricular connection? The buck should never stop at sports and spirituality. In 2007, ESPN contributed to the conversation with Sports Science—which according to its host, John Brenkus, allows "audiences to experience and appreciate the science behind the most extreme events."

I'm glad they did. The challenges and feats they explore with professional athletes reveal why they're professional. It humanizes and hero-izes them. 

I first found about Sports Science from my students who did a presentation on the "Beast Mode" of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is much more than a caricature of himself. He's endowed with incredible physical strength, speed, and drive. 

While I'm unable to calculate any trajectory of x, the velocity of y or the magnitude of z, I know there are students in my classroom who can and may have to in their next class.

6. A priest's first mass.
This past Sunday, I attended the first Mass of Fr. Tony Vallecillo, a new priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In attendance were his family and a great number of his friends—the very men and women who made his vocation to religious life possible.

Catholic San Francisco writes
He was baptized and confirmed at 2 weeks old, but said that growing up he was not interested in his Catholic faith and left the Church for 13 years. However, strong personal encounters with God led him back in his early 30s where he joined "an active spirit-filled parish," St. Dominic in San Francisco, and through the young adults group he  strengthened and deepened his faith. "It was through people in that group that I heard God's call for me to the priesthood...!"
Even though he was not called to be a Dominican priest, Fr. Tony wanted to celebrate this liturgy at a true spiritual home for him (and many others in the congregation). 

Pentecost reminds us that "We are all witnesses." Attending the first mass is no different.

7. Boomer Eiosan's "Sports Minute."
Who doesn't want to start their day with a little nugget of sports wisdom? Boomer Esiason and his CBS Sports Minute offers me something to chew on. 

As written on the CBS Sports Radio page, 
Boomer Esiason, who quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals during a 14-year NFL career, now contributes minute long sports commentary updates hourly on CBS Sports Radio, as a part of the network’s CBS Sports Minute feature.
Thanks to Esiason, I now know what an "Immaculate Inning" is. They are rare, which is why I had not heard about them until this past week. You can probably figure out what it is....if you can't, chew on it.

Answer: Nine pitches/3 Strikeouts. The pitcher throws perfectly).

8. The Incarnation
This should come as no surprise, but reading Father Jim Martin's new book, "Jesus, A Pilgrimage" reminds me of why my Christian faith is remarkable. God became one of us; His name is Jesus.

Martin addresses its importance
But God wanted to meet us where we are. So God came, first of all, as a human being, as something—someone—other men and women could approach. God is not only a flaming bush, a pillar of fire, or even a mysterious cloud, as God is described in various places in the Old Testament. God is one of us.
From his birth, to His friendships, His work and ministry, His teaching and preaching, love and life, His death and His triumph, I never want to take this for granted. Thank you JC (and if we're going to recognize Jesus as human, that means I would shorten his name in class...on the field...etc)

9. The Song/Sports Parodies of KNBR's Murph & Mac 
While Brian Murphy is clearly the sports leader, What Paul McCaffrey brings in terms of musical talent, knowledge, reference and more makes the show what it is—a great way to start my day.

It doesn't matter how bad my day is going when they play their music parodies to honor a particular Bay Area athlete, I cannot help but smile. Not a forced or fake one...ear to ear.

My all time favorite is "75" set to "Staying Alive." Others include "Hunter's Eyes" (a tip of the hat to Hunter Pence/set to Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes") and "Bogut Nights" (Andrew Bogut/Boogie Nights).  Thanks, Paulie Mac. I hope your creative juices flow for many years!

Photo Credits

John Brenkus
Murph & Mac
Fr. Tony

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Doughnut Day: What Do You Run On?

The first Friday in June marks one of my favorite days of the year—National Doughnut Day. If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the country with a Dunkin' Donuts and want to honor this beloved American treat, you may notice one of two things. 

1. Your donut will be free***
This day comes with an interesting history, which also explains why you may get a freebie!
As written on
National Doughnut Day honors the Salvation Army "Lassies" of WWI. It is also used as a fundraiser for needy causes of the Salvation Army. 
Salvation Army first served the original Salvation Army Doughnut in 1917. During WWI, Salvation Army "lassies" were sent to the front lines of Europe. These brave volunteers made home cooked foods, and provided a morale boost to the troops. Often, the doughnuts were cooked in oil inside the of the metal helmet of an American soldier. The American infantrymen were commonly called doughboys. Salvation Army lassies were the only women outside of military personnel allowed to visit the front lines. Lt. Colonel Helen Purviance is considered the Salvation Army's "first doughnut girl."
On National Doughnut Day, look to see if your local doughnut shop, or other organizations, are offering free donuts to solicit donations for the Salvation Army or for another needy cause. If you find them, please be generous.
I love a good cake donut with sprinkles.
2. You will be reminded of Dunkin' Donuts' motto in more ways than one.
Since 2006, Dunkin' Donuts has used the tag line "America Runs on Dunkin' Donuts" for marketing purposes. Prior to that, Americans made efforts to be increasingly health conscious moving away from the "forbidden doughnut" as a breakfast staple toward another carb: the bagel. Dunkin' Donuts responded by offering more breakfast varietals and coffee options. Dunkin' loyalists stayed and brought with them many more. Today, the sheer volume of customers—men, women and children of all shapes and sizes, creeds and colors point to a brown, orange and pink truth: we do.

I get it. Their coffee fuels many of us as we start work day and make our way through the daily grind. And with that styrofoam cup (just milk, no sugar please) must come a Dunkin' Donuts treat. My favorite? The Munchkin (a glorified donut hole). 

Today we run on Dunkin' Donuts more than ever—through drive-thru services, a pay-by-phone app, in person and on-line. And without fail, every time I am in line, I question what else we run on both literally and metaphorically.

This is easy for me to say because there is not one single Dunkin Donuts store in the state of California. When I travel to a part of the country—or world i.e. Mexico and Puerto Rico—my eyes are wide open to what they sell and who's buying. And believe me, I am one of these people. As soon as I land in Dulles airport, I find my way to enjoy this treat. But it's a treat. It's not a regular part of my diet. It's not hard to recognize that the nutritional value of most items on the menu is not laudatory. Their donuts, bagels and muffins are high in fat and sugar; fresh fruits and vegetables are limited choices. 
My diet is far from exemplary, but I do try to make smart choices about what I eat. When I am confronted with the sheer number of Americans who are purchasing donuts on a regular basis, for whom it is NOT a treat, I question what that says about us. How does that affect us? 

Their motto has also made me question what else do Americans "run on?" Gratitude and appreciation? Loyalty or pride? Negativity? Self-centeredness? Pain and hurt? Peace and prayer? I hope so.

Every time I play golf with one friend, I know the first three holes will be fueled by his complaints and dissatisfaction. It's almost as though he launches his negativity off tees 1-3. From time to time, I will look at him and think "what's it like to run on such contentment." It usually subsides, sometimes sooner than the 4th hole, sometimes even later (maybe I should offer him a donut). But, his demeanor and Dunkin' Donuts motto has challenged me to think of what do I run on? What fuels me? I would like to think it's joy and gratitude but I know from time to time it's cynicism or disgust. I'm working on it. 

National Doughnut Day has served as a reminder that it's always important to say "thank you," Be it for a free donut, for the service of men and women to our country in the past or today, for treats like Munchkins and good coffee and for making smart(er) choices about what we run on....Enjoy.

Photo Credits
Salvation Army Girl

National Donut Day
American Runs on