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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Thoughts on the Retirement of Matt Hasselbeck

This week has seen a lot of retirements in the NFL.  Some that were pretty big names like Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson.  But the announcement of the retirement of Matt Hasselbeck probably won’t get as much attention but is one that resonates with me.

Matt Hasselbeck

Flash back to the fall of 2005.  I had moved to Seattle in January of that year and had made it my home.  I had the opportunity to go to the Sunday Night game that season against the Houston Texans.  That was the first time I got to watch Hasselbeck play in person (and first time to see a Seahawks game in person).  That was one of the coolest experiences I have had at a sporting event and I still remember how loud it was when the Seahawks scored over and over again.  I fell in love with that team and that is why I still root for them to this day.  I also became a huge Hasselbeck fan.  He led the team that season to their first Super Bowl appearance (and I contend to this day that they should’ve won that Super Bowl if the refs hadn’t blown several big calls).  He was one of my favorite QBs and always enjoyed watching him play.

After he left Seattle, I was happy when he landed in Tennessee and played several seasons with the Titans.  And although he ended up finishing his career with division rival Indianapolis, I still rooted for him personally.

As great a player as he was, he was just as great if not more as a person.  He is a strong believer and follower of Jesus and lives out his faith in a way that is a strong encouragement.  He is a great family man as well.

He has a great opportunity joining the broadcast team at ESPN.  I wish him nothing but the best and know he’ll do a great job there.  Thank you Matt for a great career.  I cherish my Seahawks Hasselbeck jersey that is in my closet and still break it out sometimes for big time Seahawks games.  May God continue to bless you and your family and thank you for the wonderful memories that Seahawks fans will cherish for a long time.

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.

griffeyRC

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.

Super Bowl XLIX Preview

Football

The Super Bowl is only a few days away.  Super Bowl XLIX (or 49) is taking place in Glendale, Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium.  The matchup for this year’s Super Bowl pits the New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks.  The defending champs (Seahawks) vs. the team of the 2000s (Patriots).

There are a lot of storylines going into this game, aside from deflated footballs or players not talking to the media.  Tom Brady is playing in his 6th Super Bowl, the most starts for a QB in a Super Bowl.  He’s trying to win his 4th Super Bowl which would tie Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for most Super Bowl wins.  The Patriots are trying to win their first Lombardi Trophy since 10 years ago in Jacksonville against the Philadelphia Eagles (they’ve lost their last 2 trips).

On the Seahawks side, Russell Wilson is the first QB in Super Bowl history to start in the Super Bowl in 2 out of his first 3 seasons.  Pete Carroll was the previous coach of the Patriots before Bill Belichick.  The Seahawks are trying to win back to back Lombardi Trophies and be the first team to repeat since the ’03-’04 Patriots.

It will be interesting how things will turn out on Sunday.  We have the team that was essentially the last dynasty (Patriots) verses the team that is trying to be the new dynasty (Seahawks).  Brady and Gronk vs. the Legion of Boom.  Wilson and Lynch vs. Belichick’s defense.

Like last year, when it comes to picking, it will be more with my heart than my head.  But I will say that there’s a legit defense for the head argument.  The Patriots are a really good team.  They have arguably one of the best coach/QB combos of all time.  However, this team is not one of their better Super Bowl teams, even of the recent ones.  But they are a dangerous team.  The Seahawks are the defending champs.  They had to overcome huge odds (and a horrible first half in the NFC Championship game) to get back to the Super Bowl.  They had some injuries to their defense (Thomas, Sherman) but they should be good to go for the game.

16 time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair once said “To be the man, you got to be the man.”  Right now, the Seahawks are “the man”.  And NBA championship winning coach Rudy Tomjanovich once said “Don’t ever estimate the heart of a champion.”  And right now, the Seahawks are the “champs”.  That defense and the Legion of Boom can argue (and even more so if they win) to be one of the best ever.  So I think the Seahawks will get it done and will beat the Patriots and go back to back.  Seahawks 27 Patriots 17

Into The Flood Again: Thoughts on Alice in Chains “Would?”

Having lived through the 90s, my musical influence is shaped by the music of that decade.  That decade included of course Grunge music.  The center of Grunge music centered around Seattle & several bands that were the mainstay of that sound came from that city (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains).  Having lived in Seattle in the mid 2000s, I saw first hand the connection between that sound and the city & gave me a better appreciation for that sound.

One thing you can always count on with watching the Seattle Seahawks play is the bump music (music playing going to and out of commercial) or a highlights package will be a band connected with Seattle.  So after the Divisional Round game against the Carolina Panthers, there was a highlight package from the game.  The highlights were set to the song “Would?” by Alice in Chains.

It had been a while since I heard that song but after watching that highlight video I searched it out.  The chorus stuck out to me the more I heard it:

“Into the flood again
Same old trip it was back then
So I made a big mistake
Try to see it once my way”

Of course it got me to thinking (especially the second part of the chorus).  How often have I messed up and wanted people to see from my perspective?  Then turn it around, how often has someone else messed up and wanted me to see from their perspective?  Too often we forget grace when it comes to others who wrong us but when we wrong someone else we want that grace shown to us.
God has shown us grace and mercy to forgive us of our sins, of how we wronged Him.  How can we not then show that to others?
Is it easy to do?  No, it’s not easy but at the same time we have experienced it and know what it feels like.  We should be willing to share that with others so that they can experience it as well.
The song ends with the line “If I would, could you?”  Think on this, if someone would apologize, could you forgive them?  If you’re a Christian, hopefully the answer would be yes.  So as we go “into the flood again” that is life, let us have the response that shows mercy and grace to those around us.

Favorite Super Bowl XLVIII Commercials and Memories

The Super Bowl last night was a great game in my book.  Granted I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan so that made the game special to me.  It was the first time watching a Super Bowl that a team I rooted for won the big game (having seen the Titans lose in Super Bowl XXXIV and the Seahawks lose in Super Bowl XL).

I saw on social media this morning something that summed up the game:  “It was a Seahawks highlight reel with fun commercials”.  I would have to agree with that statement.  People that follow me on twitter got a lot of live-tweeting involving the game.  I tend to do that with sporting events or particular TV shows.  Like a said, it was a great game to me and I’m happy for the people of Seattle and my friends up there.  I lived there the first time the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl and can only imagine how excited the city is today.

There were some pretty good commercials last night in my book too.  Some were down on the commercials but for the most part I liked them.  There were some particular ones that I really liked and wanted to post them on here.

The first is a MetLife commercial starring the Peanuts gang.  Fitting a MetLife commercial during a Super Bowl played at MetLife Stadium:

Another really great commercial was the Cheerios commercial:

The T-Mobile commercial with Tim Tebow was pretty good as well:

There were several trailers for movies that were pretty good but the one that debuted at the Super Bowl was Transformers 4.  It’ll be interesting to see how the movie turns out:

Finally, the Radio Shack commercial was totally awesome (80’s style):

A Look at “Noah”

Today, the teaser trailer for the new film Noah came out.  The film stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson & Anthony Hopkins.  It is based on the Biblical story of Noah and the flood.  It is directed by Darren Aronofsky.

After having seen the trailer, I am curious to see the film.  It will be a good jumping off point for discussion with others about the differences between the film and Scripture.  It will be interested in to see how Aronofsky treated the text in his interpretation.  The only film that I have seen that he has directed is The Fountain.  That was an interesting film and prompted a lot of discussion during a “Film and Theology” night when I was in Seattle.

Here’s the trailer, the film is to be released next year: