Friday, July 18, 2008

Morneau Wins, But Hamilton Shines

Justin Morneau was crowned the 2008 Home Run Derby Champion with a total of 22 homers. He hit 5 in the third round - the round that matters. I have to at least tip my hat to any member of the Minnesota Twins that can win my favorite slugging competition (as my earliest childhood baseball memories were cheering for the World Champs in the late 80s), however, nobody is talking about Justin Morneau.

A new hero emerged at the HRD with a phenomenal and record-breaking 28 home runs in the first round alone. That's right, he hit more HR's in round 1 than winner Morneau hit in all three rounds combined, and though 3 dingers in the third round declared that Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers walked away with second place, he was first in everyone's hearts. His power hitting was not the only thing that garnered him the respect of his peers, the admiration of the crowds and the talk of the town. Josh Hamilton had a much greater weapon in his arsenal than his bat: his story.

Certainly fans knew that Hamilton was not going to be the typical HRD slugger when his pitcher was introduced. We're used to BP coaches throwing for these things, or in the case of last year's outing by Matt Holliday, a friend or relative. Hamilton surprised many when his pitcher took the field - 71 year old Clay Council, Hamilton's high school coach. Not only was Council thrilled to be invited to the festivities and to pitch to Josh at Yankee Stadium, but the man threw 54 pitches in the first round - 28 of which were knocked out of the park! I was ensnared by Hamilton's excitement and charm when after his first slam the crowd went wild and he was heard to remark, "That was awesome, dude!"

Yet even this is not what earns Hamilton the all-too-rare status of role model. His story encompasses a much greater battle and includes a testimony that he openly shares about how he reached where he is today by hitting rock bottom and finding his way back to the top through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I can't even come near to describing his amazing life so I'll send you out to read it in his own words: "I'm proof that hope is never lost."
I loved how Hamilton unabashedly attributed his performance and his very life to the work of God and Jesus. It seems so rare and awkward when God can be worshiped and proclaimed outside of church but Josh Hamilton was able to share his testimony to a packed house at Yankee Stadium and an audience of millions. In that respect, there is nothing second-place about his finish and he will easily be remembered as the hero of the night. Thanks for the show, Josh, but even more, thanks for the story!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baseball Tip For the Non-Fans

The Home Run Derby is on tonight and following my tradition (2006, 2007) I'm destined to blog about it. Tune in tomorrow - or sometime later this week - for my thoughts on the beloved HRD as well as the All Cubs... I mean All Star Game. For those of you tuning in to the competition tonight I thought I would help out the non-baseball-junkies a bit. As my random act of kindness for the day I'd like to clear something up....

This is Evan Longoria:

This is Eva Longoria:

Oh, what a difference a single letter can make.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chasing Rainbows

Tony and I spent the last weekend in June on a mini-vacation to Galena, IL and Dubuque, IA. We visited a National Historic Park about an hour north of Dubuque called Effigy Mounds. Very cool place, by the way. We did some hiking but fortunately - yes, fortunately - we got caught in a massive rainstorm half way through a three mile hike. We were drenched from head to toe but on the drive back to Dubuque a look out the window revealed a beautiful rainbow arching over the Mississippi River. As we drove onward, I couldn't help snapping pictures because each view was more spectacular. The last is by far my favorite! In some of them you can even see the double rainbow too. Granted the pictures don't quite do it justice - I had goosebumps from the sheer beauty of it (or maybe they were from the drenching rainstorm....) - but keep in mind these are all taken through the car windows with no editing or retouching done.

My mom has always said that anytime she's going through a job transition or other change in her life that God has sent her a rainbow as a sign of His goodness and faithfulness. Tony and I have said that with our current circumstances we're on an adventure, not knowing where the road will lead. The last picture is my favorite because it really looks like we're driving directly into the rainbow. I think it's a good analogy that on a wet road, gray and slicked with puddles, we can see for sure that in the distance is God's promise and we are headed straight towards His goodness, His blessings, His rainbows. Sometimes, too, you just have to be sure to enjoy the chase.