Boston Garden

I started following Boston Celtics basketball when I was a freshman at a prep school in Stamford, Connecticut. So last week when I had a chance to go and see them play for the first time in the new Boston Garden, I jumped at the chance.  My friend, Pastor Jeff Williams, and I took a train from Providence and then took the subway to the Garden for the Memphis Grizzlies versus Celtics game.

Garden 2 We were in row 14 of right center court (don't ask how much the tickets were; I ordered them off a site that  season ticket holders use to sell unwanted tickets). I am attaching two pictures I took with my phone of the action on the floor.  I admit that I bought a t-shirt and a hat as my mementos of the big Garden 1 event.  But then we missed our train going back to Providence and had to wait 90 minutes until the last train at midnight.  Oh well, it was almost a perfect evening. The Celtics have lost two straight since we were there, but they did win against the Grizzlies, so I did my part to cheer them on. My other favorite NBA team, the Orlando Magic, is right behind the first-place Celtics in the standings, so I am having a good year where my NBA teams are concerned.


Wow!

Well, Super Bowl XLIII is history and the Pittsburgh Steelers won their sixth NFL title.  My son and I sat in New Jersey watching with friends, while wearing my Big Ben jersey and waving a Terrible Towel, courtesy of my sister.  I was exhilarated in the first half, speechless at halftime after Harrison's 100-yard touchdown run (I was speechless because I lost my voice yelling, "Go! Go! Yes! Yes!"), cautiously optimistic in the third quarter, depressed and saying there was no way they would win in the fourth quarter and then speechless again at the end (this time I just didn't know what to say about the last drive for a touchdown that was so brilliantly executed with so little time left and with so much on the line).

I am heading home from New Jersey and I know the plane will be full of Pittsburgh fans returning from the game in Florida.  I have my Big Ben jersey on in the Newark Airport to let everyone know that I am part of the Steelers Nation on this glorious day after the big win.  I have read every online news service report I could find (like as if I don't know what happened) and I bought a few newspapers to read as well.  Now you know why I don't watch more games!

I keep saying I am behind on my posts and I will catch up soon.  I have read some great books lately and want to let you know about them.  I depart for Kenya next Wednesday and have a lot of school work to do between now and then, but I will catch up.  Today, however, is a day for celebration and I intend to savor the big win before life gets back to normal.  Go Steelers!  Thank you for making life in cold and snowy Pittsburgh a warmer place, at least for a day, for your loyal fans! 


UEFA Euro 2008

I haven't mentioned much about the football (or soccer) tournament going on in Europe right now, but it has been televised in the States and I have watched some of it.  I am pulling for Spain, for no reason that I can think of.  Taz, my friend in Zimbabwe, says that Germany is the team to beat. I think Netherlands has a shot, too.  They have played some fine football in the tournament.

If you are interested in who's still playing as they prepare for the championship on June 29, you can go the official site and check it out.  I have to watch soccer now that basketball is finished (yea Celtics!) and we have no baseball in Pittsburgh.  We have a team, but they don't play baseball.  They only go through the motions and haven't had a winning season since 1992.  So I am reduced to cheering, "Go Spain!  Go Netherlands!"  What a sad state of affairs.


Dallas Mavericks

I had a chance to attend the Dallas Mavericks versus the Portland Trailblazers NBA game last night here in Dallas.  The Mavericks are "loaded" again this year after reaching and losing the NBA finals last year to Miami.  The Trailblazers are one of the worst teams in the league this year, so it wasn't much of a game.  The Mavs won by 25 points.  It was interesting to see Avery Johnson, the Mavs' coach, keep the game under control.  Otherwise the Mavs could have won by 50 points!

The Mavs play at the American Airlines arena, which is a great place to watch a game. They share the arena with the Dallas Stars hockey team.  Parking is easy there and the food is better than average.

Of course, the Mavs are owned by Mark Cuban who is usually at all their games.  I didn't see him there last night.  Cuban is a bizillionaire, whose blog makes for enjoyable reading (although his posts can be a bit long). He certainly has done a fabulous job as owner of the Mavericks.

So it's time to head home after a week of work here in the Big D.   


The World Series

It's almost time for snow skiing, yet the baseball World Series is just getting under way.  I had a chance to watch a lot of the championship series and I like Detroit in the Series, in six games, maybe less.  Why?  They have power pitching, the home field advantage and fellow Pittsburgher Jim Leyland as manager. 

What happened to my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates this year?  The same thing that has happened to them since 1992.  They had a losing season.  I still contend that professional baseball is broken and needs fixed.  I think the major markets dominate because they have more money to spend.  I know I will hear from people who will tell me to look at Florida, Oakland and Minnesota.  They play in small markets and do well. I say they are exceptions and not the rule. 

Baseball needs a salary cap like the other professional sports have, but no one has the courage to make that happen.  I have gone on record in this blog as saying that Bud Selig, current baseball commissioner, is, no, rather he does and says idiotic things.  I don't understand how baseball can be run by a man who was an owner, is hired and fired by the owners and then is asked to keep the owners accountable.  It's ridiculous.

I will be in Europe next week, so I will miss the World Series on television.  I don't expect it to last that long, so I don't think I will miss much.  Wait until next year, however, and see if the Pirates don't have another losing season.  I don't see any hope for them in the near or distant future. I certainly don't see any help or solutions coming from the so-called leaders of major league baseball.

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Back in Seattle Again

I am back in Seattle this week to finish my training with The Pacific Institute and to attend their annual international conference.  Since I got in a day early, I thought it was only fitting that I went to Safeco Field here to see the Seattle Mariners play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  For those outside the U.S., those are baseball teams.

Seattle isn't having a particularly successful year, but their  Japanese star, Ichiro Suzuki, is.  There were many Asians there tonight to see Ichiro and the Seattle catcher, who is also Japanese.  One of the foods they sell at the concession stand is sushi called the Ichiroll. I didn't eat any sushi tonight, but I ate just about everything else.  I had a jumbo hot dog, a hamburger, one adult beverage, one lemonade, a box of popcorn and a bag of peanuts.  It may seem like a lot of food, but I didn't have lunch--that's the best excuse I can come up with for eating so much.

I had tickets in the first row on the third base side.  They were great seats, but I actually prefer being back a little more.  It's easier to see the whole field from back there.  I left the game a little early and jumped into a taxi, who then got pulled over for a traffic violation.  It was his second of the night from the same policeman from what I could gather from their heated conversation.   Let's just say they weren't getting along all that well when I decided to get out of that taxi and look for another one.

This weekend I will be in the Washington DC area, so I have tickets to see the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets on Saturday night.  Then I will see one more baseball game in Pittsburgh next week before I return to Africa on August 22.  That will make six games I squeezed in this summer. 

Before I left Pittsburgh, my wife and I went to see Tom Cruise's new movie Mission Impossible III.  I think they should rename it Mission Preposterous.  It was silly, but I've seen worse.

Why do I tell you all this?  Because I want to encourage you to have fun doing whatever it is that gives you joy just like I do.  Baseball and movies are fun for me, and I work to fit in as many as possible while I am working hard and traveling.  There's nothing wrong with that, is there?  If there isn't, then why aren't you having more fun, doing things you love to do with those you love to do them with?  There's no excuse not to, so start planning to have some fun.  If you don't want to have fun, then send me your money and I'll go have fun for you.

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Yankee Stadium

I am writing from northern New Jersey where I am working with my friend Bill von Husen in Maywood.  Bill founded Crossroads Community Church here five years ago, and is doing a great job.  Last night, we had leadership from eight churches come together to talk about the implications of the purpose message for church work and life today.  I thought it was a great session.

Today we visit Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  I am not going to root for either team; I just want to see the game and say that I was there. I have been to Yankee Stadium once before and found it to be a spiritual experience of a different kind!  When you sit where Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris and Reggie Jackson once performed, you realize that you are really in a special place where baseball is concerned.

The weather is hot, so I have mixed feelings about sitting in 90-degree weather for three hours.  But that's the price you pay if you are a baseball fan.   I have plans to see three more games this summer in Washington DC, Seattle and Pittsburgh before I leave for Africa on August 22.  That means I will have seen six games in person this summer.  Not bad given my travel schedule and work load.

It takes some work and planning to do what you love but I have found it worth the effort.  How about you?  Are you working to have some fun?  Or are you waiting for those things to just happen?  They seldom do, so why not decide what you enjoy and then go for it!  I'd write more, but I don't want to miss the first pitch.  It's time to have fun!

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The World Cup 2

Since I wrote about American baseball, I feel like I must give the rest of the world equal time.  So let;s talk about soccer, or football for those outside the United States.  The World Cup semifinals are set, and it's an all Europe event, with Argentina and Brazil both losing int he quarterfinals.  I am still guessing that Germany will win, but can anyone count out France, who has suddenly come alive, having beaten Brazil? 

I feel bad for my British friends, whose team lost in a shoot out yesterday.  I know how much soccer means in England, but their team just didn't come through when they needed a superior effort.  I was impressed with the goalie for Portugal; he got a hand on every one of the penalty shots from the English players.  Will England soon forgive Mr. Rooney for being sent when his country needed him most?  I don't think so.

There just isn't enough scoring in soccer for it to ever catch on in a big way in the United States. I went to a baseball game last night and the score was 9-2.  The largest win in the quarterfinals was Italy's 3-0 win over my people, the Ukrainians.  But the matches were on television here, and people are following with moderate interest. 

I am sticking with my prediction that Germany will win, but anything can happen this coming week.  I will be watching, as long as there isn't a baseball game on television at the same time to woo my attention away.

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