The Five: Five Coolest Sporting Events Seen Live

For this edition of “The Five”, I thought I would take a look at the five coolest sporting events I got to see live.  I’m a huge sports fan across the board and there’s a lot of games I’ve been to (and places/events I still want to see.  But up to this point, here are the five (in no particular order):

1.) AFC Wild Card Game January 8, 2000 Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans

The game that became known as the “Music City Miracle”.  It was my first ever NFL game in person.  It was a big enough event in and of itself being a playoff game and it being the hometown team.  Even more so to have an epic play that propelled the Titans on a playoff run into the Super Bowl.

2.) 2000 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final March 11, 2000 Saint Louis vs. DePaul

This was cool for several reasons.  It was the first time I got to see Division I basketball and it was a conference tournament final.  Some friends of mine from college and I drove down to Memphis to see the game in the Pyramid.  The game wasn’t as memorable as just the experience with friends.

3.) Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals May 19, 2009

This was in a lot of way just a typical MLB regular season game but the circumstances behind the game and in the game make it memorable to me.  Earlier that month at seminary, there was a chapel that involved the manager at the time of the Kansas City Royals and the general manager.  There were some giveaways at that chapel and that included tickets to a game.  Well one of my friends ended up getting a four pack of tickets and asked some guy including me to go.  So this was the game the tickets were for.  The seats were lower level kinda near home plate not too far from the players’ families section.  During batting practice I ended up with a baseball and would later get it signed by the manager.  Then the game itself, the Royals were down three runs in the bottom of the 9th and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth (including two back to back home runs, a walk, a triple and a sac fly) to win the game 6-5.

4.) Houston Texans vs Seattle Seahawks October 16, 2005

This was my first primetime NFL game that I got to see in person.  It was cool to see the Seahawks play in person during their first Super Bowl run.  I had gotten tickets from a friend of mine and was able to sit lower level right in the end zone where I got to see a lot of scores from the Seahawks

5.) Memphis Grizzlies vs Seattle Supersonics December 31, 2005

This was a great game not just because it was two of my favorite teams playing each other but it was also New Year’s Eve and after the game got to watch fireworks to ring in the new year at the Space Needle.

So that’s my five (for now).  What would be yours?

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Reflecting on “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr. Getting Into The Hall of Fame

Today it was announced that Ken Griffey Jr. got into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Anyone that knows me knows I’m a huge Griffey fan.  I pretty much grew up with Griffey and watching him play.  When he debuted in 1989 I was 9 years old.  Back then he was known as “Ken Griffey Sr.’s son”.  He was the number 1 overall pick by the Seattle Mariners and there were huge expectations for him.  His rookie cards were elusive to collect, especially his Upper Deck rookie card.

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I became a Seattle Mariners fan because of Ken Griffey Jr.  I had no connections to Seattle (at that point) but I was a huge Griffey fan.  I collected his baseball cards.  I watched every game I could of him living in Tennessee.  I played his video game (which is my favorite baseball game on Super Nintendo) as a teenager for hours on end.

Ken Griffey Jr. SNES

The year that will always stick in my mind was the 1995 season when the Mariners stormed back and made the playoffs and beat the Yankees in the Divisional Round.  That season essentially saved baseball in Seattle and eventually led to the building of Safeco Field.

I was sad when he left Seattle and went to Cincinnati to lay with the Reds in 2000.  I understood even at the time because he wanted to be closer to his family and it was an opportunity to play on the team that his dad had played on during his heyday. I felt bad for him when he had the injuries when he did that cost him in my mind a shot at the home run record.  To this day, I still feel if he had stayed healthy he would’ve been the all time leader.

It was cool that when I got to see my first MLB game in St. Louis it was against the Reds in 2002. Unfortunately, Griffey wasn’t playing at the time but I saw his team.  I moved to Seattle in 2005 and lived there for three years and got to see the “House that Griffey Built” in Safeco Field but I never got to see Griffey play baseball in Seattle.  Then in 2007 while I was living in Seattle, I saw a video tribute that Griffey gave to Edgar Martinez when Martinez was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Everyone cheered for him.  Later in the season, the Reds came to Safeco and he routinely got standing ovations when came up to bat or in the field.  I wasn’t able to make it to the ballpark but I watched those games on TV.  It wasn’t until 2008 that I got to see Griffey live and in person.  By then, he was with the White Sox and I had moved to Kansas City and was in seminary.  It looked weird seeing him in a White Sox jersey but I was happy to see him playing in person after all those years.

It made me happy when he resigned with Seattle and spent his remaining time back with the Mariners.  I saved up my money and got a Mariners jersey with number 24 and Griffey on the back.  Every time the Mariners came into Kansas City to play the Royals I would wear my Griffey jersey and cheer the Mariners (the only time I didn’t cheer for the Royals).  I still remember the last series the Mariners played in KC in 2010 before Griffey retired.  I watched him take BP and I was right behind home plate down around field level.  He was smiling and having a good time and I felt like I was 15 again watching him perform.

It was inevitable that he would be elected into the Hall of Fame today but he got in.  All but three writers had him on their ballots (I don’t know why those three didn’t vote him into the hall).  To me, he will always be my favorite baseball player.  Congrats to you Ken Griffey Jr. and your achievement today.  You were a hall of famer in my book for a long time and now you’re officially getting that recognition.

It’s A Beautiful Thing: The World Series Champions Kansas City Royals

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Today is the celebration in Kansas City for the first World Series title for the Royals since 1985.  It was a culmination of years of hard work & perseverance.  It was also a day that was a long time coming.  I lived in Kansas City for 3 1/2 years.  I got to see the beginnings of what has resulted in this magical season.  I got to see Alex Gordon develop into the Gold Glove left fielder.  I got to see Lorenzo Cain & Alcides Escobar brought in after a huge trade that sent a Cy Young award winner (Zack Grienke) in return.  I got to see Eric Hosmer’s debut.  I personally heard GM Dayton Moore speak and heard not only his heart as a GM but also as a man and as a Christian leader.

Sometimes it takes those years of struggle to get to the point of celebration.  The Royals suffered for decades before getting to this point where they are celebrating.  And there are times in our lives where we have struggles and tough times and that will help us to grow and make us better and more like Christ.

I’m so happy for my KC friends that got to be at the parade.  I’m happy that all the hard work and effort has paid off in a World Series championship for this team.  And it was so cool that I got to see what the beginning efforts of the process that has led to this day.  Congrats Royals, you deserve this.

My Visit to Busch Stadium

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Last night, I visited the “new” Busch Stadium and saw the Kansas City Royals play the St. Louis Cardinals.  That picture was the view from my seat.  I was at the game with one of my good friends from seminary and his wife.  They live about an hour east of St. Louis and he’s a huge Royals fan and she’s a converted Royals fan (she’s also a Cubs fan).  I got to spend a few days with them and that was a blessing and encouragement.

This was my first time at the “new” Busch Stadium.  My first ever MLB game was at the old Busch Stadium back on Labor Day 2002.  I had not been to a game in St. Louis since the stadium was opened in 2006.  I’ll say this, this stadium is better than the old one.  However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the stadium.  Granted, I didn’t do too much exploring on the main level as seats were upper deck.  And there was a great view from those seats.  The problem was it felt kind cramped to me and not as open.  For a newer stadium, would think there would be a little more openness.  Speaking of newer stadium, no wi-fi access.  Or better put, there were account to try to access but wouldn’t work.  For a stadium in 2014, that should be available.  And there wasn’t much food options in the upper deck, other stadiums I’ve been to have had better options, but like I said didn’t explore as much main concourse where they’re probably more options.

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As for the game itself, it was an entertaining game.  I was expecting it to be a pitchers duel between Royals ace James Shields and Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia.  But nope, turned out to be a slugfest.  Cards hit a couple of home runs, including a grand slam and a pinch hit home run.  Royals scored six runs in one inning and had a home run on their end as well.  The lead kept changing hands back and forth.  It took a run by the Royals in the top of the 9th to take the lead and the Royals’ closer Greg Holland to nail down the save in the 9th to get the win for the Royals.  It was a fun game and a great win to watch.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_06_03_kcamlb_slnmlb_1&mode=video&content_id=33410769&tcid=vpp_copy_33410769

I’ve now been to 5 MLB ballparks (Safeco Field-Seattle, Kauffman Stadium-Kansas City, Turner Field-Atlanta, Great American Ball Park-Cincinnati, Busch Stadium-St. Louis).  At some point, I hope to visit all the Major League stadiums.