Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Brian Lara Retires from International Cricket

In Sports on April 20, 2007 at 10:06 am

When I first went to Trinidad and Tobago in 1995, it was then I first heard of Brian Lara.  In downtown Port of Spain, their entire center of town was named Brian Lara Promenade.  He holds many records in international cricket play — and is the face of Trinidad in many ways.

West Indies captain Brian Lara has announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket.

“On Saturday I’ll be bidding farewell to international cricket as a player,” he told a news conference after the West Indies beat Bangladesh in Barbados

“I’ve already spoken to the board and my players,” Lara said.

The next Super 8 game against England on Saturday will be the last time Lara wears the West Indies colours.

The West Indies selectors have nominated Ramnaresh Sarwan as Lara’s replacement for the upcoming tour of England but this is still to be formally ratified by the WICB directors. (CaribbeanCricket.com)

Here are some of his records (HT: Wikipedia — take time to read all about about him):

  • He has the highest individual score in both first-class cricket (501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994) and Test cricket (400 not out for the West Indies against England in 2004).
  • Brian Lara amassed his world record 501 in 474 minutes off only 427 balls. He hit 308 in boundaries (10 sixes and 62 fours). His partners were Roger Twose (115 partnership – 2nd wicket), Trevor Penney (314 – 3rd), Paul Smith (51 – 4th) and Keith Piper (322 unbroken – 5th).
  • He also holds the record for the highest total number of runs in a Test career, after overtaking Allan Border in November 2005. He is the only man to have reclaimed the Test record score, having scored 375 against England in 1994, a record that stood until Matthew Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003. His 400 not out also made him the second player after Don Bradman to score two Test triple-centuries, and the second after Bill Ponsford to score two first-class quadruple-centuries. He has scored nine double centuries in Test cricket, second only to Bradman’s twelve.

As someone who has been to Trinidad a number of times and who realizes in some small manner how much of a hero Brian Lara is, I cannot help but think that this is a big moment in West Indies Cricket as well as on the international scene.

My pastor friend, Roddie Taylor, gave me a Brian Lara jersey during one of my missions trips to Trinidad — I may just have to pull it out and wear during his last match against England. It’s been a great run!

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What Do You Think CBS Thought of Zach Johnson Giving Credit to Christ for His Masters Win?

In Sports on April 9, 2007 at 9:28 am

Zach Johnson posted a one-over-par 289 to win the 2007 Masters, a PGA Major Golf Tournament “unlike any other.” I enjoyed sitting and watching the final round with my son Daniel (all of 18 months) and was amazed not only with how well Johnson played, but how well he displayed his faith, giving credit to Christ and acknowledging the blessedness of this Easter Sunday.

I don’t even know what I shot, but I know that I had a lot of people giving me some good words of wisdom over the last week. My coaches clearly, our Tour chaplain, and being Easter Sunday, I felt like there was certainly another power that was walking with me and guiding me.

LinksPlayers.com has a profile of Zach, including a portion of his testimony. An excerpt is included below:

Closeness to God is something that has not always been there for Zach Johnson. He was raised to know Christ and actively participated in the family’s church. In fact, Johnson says, he did have a relationship with Jesus. His parents taught their children to take their faith seriously, and Johnson prayed trusting God. But many aspects of his faith were not mature enough to survive the first few years away from home.

“I loved my four years of college,” he says, looking back, “but that’s kind of when things went astray as far as my faith went. I call those my ‘blind years.’ I’d go to church with my parents, and it didn’t mean as much as it did before. There was not as much prayer in my life.”

In 2002, while living and playing his winter golf in Florida, Johnson met his wife, Kim. They lived in the same apartment complex.

“She was the one who brought me a long way back to where I was, but in a more adult mind frame. Before my faith had been more childish.

“She really guided me along,” Johnson says. “She didn’t push me or pressure me. She just got my mind thinking. She provoked it in a very good manner. That’s something I can never repay her for, but it was extremely wonderful.”

Still, while Johnson had started thinking about his faith more deeply, he hadn’t made any commitments. And even if he’d wanted to commit to Kim, she was hesitant.

“There was something in her heart that she could never marry a non-Christian man,” Johnson says.

But Johnson wasn’t sure this applied to him. “I always thought, You know, I’m a good guy, I believe in God. She can marry me. At that time I believed that all good people went to heaven, regardless.”

In a pre-marital class at Kim’s church in Orlando, however, the issue became clearer for Johnson. He needed to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“One night in particular during that class, I remember that questions were being asked and my mind was searching and wandering. Then I was talking with my mom on the phone, and suddenly everything kind of hits you in the forehead and you just kind of open your eyes. I didn’t think I was blind so much,” Johnson recalls.

Zach and Kim were married a few weeks before his 2003 Nationwide Tour campaign began. And everything since has been—you know by now—a learning experience.

The biggest lesson, Johnson says, is not to take his life for granted.

“I haven’t had any tragedy in my life,” he says. “My whole family’s healthy. So really He’s helping me to learn to appreciate what I have.”

Johnson insists the lesson is bigger than that: “It’s realizing that what I have isn’t mine. It’s His.”

All those seasons of practice to get to where he is and now Johnson’s not staking a claim to what he’s got? That really is a lesson for a man still a year shy of 30.

But Johnson hasn’t learned these lessons alone. Kim has been there, holding him accountable. And she has been praying that men would enter Zach’s life who could hold him accountable as well. That prayer has been answered.

Johnson gives credit to his teacher Mike Bender, his agent Brad Buffoni, and other guys on Tour who have come alongside him, including Ben Crane, whose first win also came at the BellSouth, one year earlier. There have been others, leaders in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the tour Bible studies. “All these men welcomed me and encouraged me, and vice versa,” Johnson says.

It’s always refreshing to see someone in the spotlight give glory to God and His Son Jesus.

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University of Kentucky Basketball Fans: What They Demand, What They Deserve (acc’d to Joel Pett)

In Humor, Sports on March 23, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Today’s cartoon by Joel Pett, in the Lexington Herald-Leader.  His opinion about University of Kentucky fans after Tubby Smith left for the University of Minnesota:

http://media.heraldleader.com/smedia/2007/03/22/20/444-0323petttoon07.standalone.prod_affiliate.79.jpg


If you’re not a college basketball fan, my apologies.  If you are, then you just ‘get’ this. 

(HT:  Alex Marshall, Jr.)

University of Kentucky Basketball Fans: What They Demand, What They Deserve (acc’d to Joel Pett)

In Humor, Sports on March 23, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Today’s cartoon by Joel Pett, in the Lexington Herald-Leader.  His opinion about University of Kentucky fans after Tubby Smith left for the University of Minnesota:

http://media.heraldleader.com/smedia/2007/03/22/20/444-0323petttoon07.standalone.prod_affiliate.79.jpg


If you’re not a college basketball fan, my apologies.  If you are, then you just ‘get’ this. 

(HT:  Alex Marshall, Jr.)

When Expectations Run Amok

In Church Life, Sports on March 17, 2007 at 8:39 am

Yesterday, I wrote some reflections about an article written by Peggy Noonan dealing with whether we should put personalities above their philosophies.

As I was pondering this a bit further, I found myself at ESPN.com’s website and ran across an article by Gene Wojciechowski entitled “UK’s Smith Should Leave Before He is Eventually Fired.” UK stands for the University of Kentucky (for all you non-American, non-NCAA basketball fans.” “Smith” is Orlando “Tubby” Smith, their 10-year-coach who is on the hot seat not because of performance, mind you, but because of expectations run amok.

Here’s how his article begins:

Fire Tubby Smith?

How do you deep-six a guy who won you a national championship, who wins nearly eight of out 10 games he coaches, who gets rave reviews from his peers? How do you stick a buyout fork in a distinguished 10-year Kentucky career that has lasted longer than beloved (pre-Louisville, of course) Rick Pitino’s tenure in Lexington and includes exactly zero NCAA penalties?

You don’t. You can’t … except at Kentucky, where, said Wildcats junior guard, “people expect us to be in the Final Four every year.”

Those expectations, no longer realistic in an age of Winthrops and George Masons, is why Smith should think long and hard about a change in hoops venue. That’s right: He should think about walking away from Kentucky before Kentucky walks away from him.

This article is a study in expectations run amok from a bar set exceedingly high. The writer compares UK in basketball to Notre Dame in football — a place where there is “no margin for error.” Notice what else he writes:

It’s past is always handcuffed to its present. This is no escape from its history or its expectations.

The result is the fan base’s expectations seldom seem to be placated, even when they are winning. History has handcuffed the program!  Another excerpt:

As usual, the win didn’t satisfy everyone in blue. As Kentucky held a five-point lead with 96 seconds remaining, a fan sitting a few behind Barnhart yelled to Smith, “You are blowing this game!”

This is why Smith should bolt. Not because of some knucklehead fan, but because Barnhart might be listening to the knucklehead fan. In some cases — and you can ask former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher about this — it’s just time to move on. It’s nothing personal, it’s just time.

What’s the point of this article? I know many in my congregation who are a vocal part of Big Blue Nation may see me as a card-carrying Louisville Cardinal fan (no pun intended) may see me as bashing UK. Not at all. But I do see many similarities between the fan base of UK and many in our older, established churches.

  1. History handcuffs them in the present. Sadly, instead of looking at the present and the future, too many Christians live in the past and in days gone by. It’s a different age and a different way of doing business, yet the successes that we rejoiced in in the past tend to be millstones around the neck in the present.
  2. Having a great character and having that fire as a leader is not enough when the vision is off-course. Whether that is the case with Tubby or not, I do not know. But all leaders must evaluate their philosophies constantly to make sure they are heading in the right direction. For ministers, we must make sure the Word is central in all areas of life and that the Spirit of God is the one leading.
  3. Sometimes, even victories are met with a defeatist attitude. Even when people have reason to be excited, they look for reasons to worry or expect things to go wrong. The UK fan whose team was ahead by 5 told his coach that the game was being blown. In churches, even when God is moving, you have those folks who are the wet blankets who cannot rejoice in present successes because they expect problems to occur.

Can you think of any other similarities?

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Louisville Beats Stanford 78-58

In Sports on March 15, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Just wanted to rejoice over my beloved Cardinals’ first round win over Stanford.  At one point, UofL was up by 32 points.  I always get nervous when my teams play in the playoffs, but I have to say that Louisville is a quick team in transition and rebounded surprisingly well.

Next up will be the winner of the Texas A&M-Pennsylvania game, where A&M is up 47-39 with about 9 minutes left.

The Field of 65 is Set — Let March Madness Begin

In Sports on March 12, 2007 at 8:15 am

The NCAA Tournament selection committee has selected the field of 65 (click here for the tournament bracket).

In our little slice of America, we pay attention to the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.  Kentucky drew a No. 8 seed in the West bracket, having to play Villanova (22-10) then likely No. 1 seed Kansas.

Louisville is the No. 6 seed in the South bracket and will play No. 11 seed Stanford, then (if they win) they play the winner of No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 14 Pennsylvania.

On a personal level, although my allegiance as far as college athletics is concerned is to the University of Louisville, I grew up a fan of the Florida Gators.  They are the No. 1 over all seed.

What do you think?  Who will go to the Final Four and who will win the national championship?  Here are my picks.

St. Louis bracket:  Florida
San Jose bracket:  UCLA
East Rutherford bracket:  Georgetown
San Antonio:  Ohio State

Thoughts?

Dungy Wins Super Bowl “The Lord’s Way”

In Sports on February 7, 2007 at 8:37 am

dungy_1.jpgWhatever you may think of the Indianapolis Colts, you cannot help but think highly of their coach, Tony Dungy. After taking over the reigns of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993, he turned them into winners in a rather strange way by NFL standards. He did so without screaming and cursing and berating.

During the Super Bowl, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms of CBS noted that at the beginning of training camp, Dungy told his players in a very calm voice, “I hope all of you are listening, because this is as loudly as I will talk all season.” They went on to note that while players in the NFL play for their coaches out of fear, the Colts (and the Bucs from before) played for Dungy out of respect — afraid to let him down.

ChristianityToday.com has an excellent article entitled “Dungy Makes Super Bowl History ‘The Lord’s Way’.” Here is how it begins:

Indianapolis Colts’ Tony Dungy made history as the first black coach ever to win the Super Bowl. And taking advantage of the trophy stage, Dungy was more proud to have won the big game “the Lord’s way.”

“I’m proud to be the first African-American coach to win this,” said Dungy during the trophy ceremony Sunday night, according to the Associated Press. “But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that.”

The Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 on a soggy field in Miami, Fla., Sunday. They did it for their coach, whom the players say deserved the win. And Dungy did it without yelling or cursing from the sidelines – a trait that his players have trained with and that opposing coach and close friend Lovie Smith picked up when he assisted Dungy on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff.

A day ahead of the game, Dungy headlined the annual faith-based Super Bowl Breakfast, hosted by Athletes in Action. A record crowd of 2,500 people witnessed Dungy speak as the first-ever Super Bowl Coach to appear in person at the breakfast a day before NFL’s marquee game.

Dungy truly lives what he believes and it translates fully into his work environment. Just ask his past players.  So I may not be a big Colts fan — I am a big Tony Dungy fan.  He puts Christ before all else.

Dungy Wins Super Bowl “The Lord’s Way”

In Sports on February 7, 2007 at 8:37 am

dungy_1.jpgWhatever you may think of the Indianapolis Colts, you cannot help but think highly of their coach, Tony Dungy. After taking over the reigns of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993, he turned them into winners in a rather strange way by NFL standards. He did so without screaming and cursing and berating.

During the Super Bowl, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms of CBS noted that at the beginning of training camp, Dungy told his players in a very calm voice, “I hope all of you are listening, because this is as loudly as I will talk all season.” They went on to note that while players in the NFL play for their coaches out of fear, the Colts (and the Bucs from before) played for Dungy out of respect — afraid to let him down.

ChristianityToday.com has an excellent article entitled “Dungy Makes Super Bowl History ‘The Lord’s Way’.” Here is how it begins:

Indianapolis Colts’ Tony Dungy made history as the first black coach ever to win the Super Bowl. And taking advantage of the trophy stage, Dungy was more proud to have won the big game “the Lord’s way.”

“I’m proud to be the first African-American coach to win this,” said Dungy during the trophy ceremony Sunday night, according to the Associated Press. “But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that.”

The Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 on a soggy field in Miami, Fla., Sunday. They did it for their coach, whom the players say deserved the win. And Dungy did it without yelling or cursing from the sidelines – a trait that his players have trained with and that opposing coach and close friend Lovie Smith picked up when he assisted Dungy on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff.

A day ahead of the game, Dungy headlined the annual faith-based Super Bowl Breakfast, hosted by Athletes in Action. A record crowd of 2,500 people witnessed Dungy speak as the first-ever Super Bowl Coach to appear in person at the breakfast a day before NFL’s marquee game.

Dungy truly lives what he believes and it translates fully into his work environment. Just ask his past players.  So I may not be a big Colts fan — I am a big Tony Dungy fan.  He puts Christ before all else.

Rutgers 28, Louisville 25: At Least They Were in the Conversation

In Sports on November 10, 2006 at 1:11 pm

Since I do not have ESPN at home, I found myself living and dying on every play while keeping up via the Internet on my dial-up connection. I knew Rutgers would be a tough match-up for Louisville, and give them credit they came to play, especially after being down 25-7. Yet my connection was stuck at around :13 when Rutgers was in position for a field goal. After hitting “refresh” a thousand times, it turns out that Rutgers missed the field goal, but a Louisville player was offsides, so they received a second opportunity and converted. By far, the biggest win in school history for the Rutgers University football team.

Am I sad? You’d better believe it. But then I started thinking: the University of Louisville football team for a week was in a conversation about being in the national championship. Yes, the naysayers felt the Big East was weak and Louisville shouldn’t be in there, but at least they were talking about it. Louisville remained a topic of conversation. And my guess is that they will continue to stay that way and be a Top Ten football power for years to come.

So considering that back in the mid 1990s, Louisville suffered an 0-10 season, I like where we are at: actually saddened that they lost their first game in mid November.

And, as said before, at least being allowed to sit at the big boys’ table.

Nice!