My Love Affair with Baseball (And Rickey Henderson)

As a child back in the late 70’s, early 80’s we only had one TV in our house and most of the time when Dad was home he had control of it. We were forced to watch sports. All kinds of sports. But especially baseball.

I grew up in Upstate New York. As a New Yorker, you had two choices when it came to baseball. Either be a New York Mets fan or a New York Yankee fan. In our house, it was all Yankees, all the time. So I grew up watching and learning the game night after night. At first, I resisted but then came to enjoy it and even appreciate it.

yankees baseball logo

I got to watch some of the greats play the game. Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, Dave Righetti, and my absolute, all-time favorite baseball player, Rickey Henderson. Rickey only played on the Yankees from 1985-1989, but that’s all it took for me to fall in love. With baseball and with Rickey.

Once I understood the balls and the strikes, the hits, the walks, and the runs, it became a fascinating game to watch. While some people (especially today) find the game to be too slow, I find the skill and strategy to be exciting. It is so much more than just throwing a ball and swinging a bat.

Besides pestering my father and asking too many questions, I learned a lot about the game by listening to the Yankee’s game announcer; the late, great Phil Rizzuto. Holy Cow, he was an entertaining guy!

The one thing, however, I loved more than all else was watching my guy, Rickey Henderson steal second base. The way he would jump off the bag at first, take a sizable lead, crouch down with his fingers fluttering toward the ground and just waiting for the right time to take off. Every time he was on base it would fluster the pitcher. They had to keep their eye on him while trying to pitch a strike to the batter at the plate.

photo of Rickey Henderson A's with a lead off of base, getting ready to steal.

When the time was right, Rickey would make a run for it. Usually being successful at making it to the bag safely. But the fun wasn’t over, he would often try to steal third!

Besides being an amazing base stealer he was just as good at being a leadoff hitter and an efficient left-fielder. I won’t bore you with all his stats…well just a few.

  • Stolen Bases : 1,406
  • (second place is Lou Brock with 938!)
  • Runs: 2,295
  • RBI’s: 1,115

While many thought Rickey to be cocky, because on the day he surpassed Lou Brock’s stolen base record, he said, “I am the greatest of all time.” He wasn’t being cocky…he was just telling his truth. And in reality, he wasn’t arrogant at all. He was a very humble player who truly was the greatest at what he did. He was a man who deeply loved the game of baseball. It showed in how he played, how he helped the younger guys coming up, and the way he spoke about baseball itself. If his body would have allowed, I am sure he would have played many more years.

Rickey Henderson breaking Lou Brock's stolen base record. Holding up base.

“If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.”

~Rickey Henderson

He did play a storied 25 years in Major League Baseball with numerous teams, but his home and heart were always with the Oakland A’s. In 2009 Rickey Henderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t make it to that event. I grew up not far from there. The year following I did get to tour the Hall of Fame and got to see Rickey’s plaque.

For me, my love of baseball all started when Rickey played for my team, the NY Yankees. I came to appreciate the intricacies and nuances of the game and learned to respect a great ballplayer when I saw one. And for me, Rickey Henderson really is the greatest of all time.

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Stop Comparing Your Life to Others: It is Just a Trap

Comparison is Nothing More Than a Trap.

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through social media and checking out your “friends” and their seemingly amazing life? They post pics from their recent vacation to some tropical island. They have a picture of their family at the holidays. All gathered around the table and smiling. You see the report card their super-smart daughter just brought home. There is a video of their son hitting his 3rd home run in last night’s baseball game. You hear about Joey’s new job promotion. Sondra posts a selfie of her and husband. They always look so happy.

african american couple laughing and hugging

Man, by looking at their social media, you automatically think their life is amazing. So many wonderful things are happening to them. Then you look at your life. Hmmph. You try to post a few pics of you and the kids smiling or you and the husband out for date night. Toss in a few photos from last year’s vacation (to visit family) in central Ohio.

Apples to apples, you start to compare your life with your Facebook or Instagram friends. They could be actual people you know, perhaps high school pals or current coworkers or associates. Regardless, you start to compare their seemingly amazing life with yours. Little by little, with each picture you click on, you become a bit more depressed at how sad your little life is.

You think how low level your job is, how often you and your spouse argue, how frequently your kids don’t behave or how one of them got a “D” on their last report card. How you have few friends to hang out with or how you never get to travel to exotic places.

This is a trap. Once you start to compare yourself to others, you have a tendency to see only the positive things in the others persons life and only the negative in yours. Don’t fall for it. If I have learned nothing else these past few years is that things are often not what they seem. That “friend” who seems to have it all…what you don’t know are the struggles they try to hide from the rest of the world. While it shouldn’t make you feel good to know other people are struggling, it should give you comfort to know that EVERYONE does. Everyone has problems. Some are visible to the rest of the world and others are not.

Celebration and Appreciation are the Solution

You don’t have to feel bad about the things or accomplishments of others. You don’t have to feel bad about the life you have. These feelings are either jealousy or self-pity. Maybe both.

You have been given this one life. Take stock of what you do have. Do you have health, family, friends, a job, a roof over your head? Be grateful. Be appreciative of all that you do have. Write it down. Write a list of all the things you should be grateful for. Really look at it. I am sure if you tried, you could find other folks who would do anything to live the life you have.

Be appreciative of your life. This one life that God has given you. We are not meant to live other people’s lives. Take a real look at yours and consider how grateful you should be. Think of how much you have come through and how you have grown.

You need to realize, you can be content in your own life and be happy, even celebratory over the lives of others. You can learn to truly be happy for the successes and enjoyment of your family and friends. If you care for someone, their well-being should be pleasing to you not cause you jealousy.

God has given each of us a path in life. Don’t compare your life to others. That isn’t your life to live. Go out and live YOUR best life!

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Words Matter…So What Are You Saying?

Words Have Power written on chalkboard

Words have Power

Today I have been inspired by a sermon I just heard about WORDS.  Words can either give life or give death.  (Reference: Proverbs 18:21). The words we say can either uplift someone or tear them down. They can either lift us up or tear us down.

Remember the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”?  We all know that is so untrue. Sometimes words slung at us in meanness, anger,  jealousy or judgement can be very painful. I imagine most of us can remember something negative someone said to us in our past. Whether it’s our recent past or our childhood, we can still recall it today. It hurt. It stuck with us for days, months, years, decades.  On the flip side of that, if we are repeatedly spoken to with positive, uplifting words, that sticks with us as well. But I have heard it takes 5 to 10 positive words to counteract the impact of one negative word or statement. For some reason our brains hold on to the negative much longer.  Negativity can come in the form of gossip, criticism, judgement or pure anger. Read my post of Putting Up Emotional Fences to help block out some of the negativity.

Use Them Wisely

So, what are we to do?  How can we use our words to make the lives of others better? Find positive attributes to make comments on whenever possible. Encourage others to be their best, to go after their dreams, to discover who they are. Be the light in a dark world. It is amazing to think what an impact we can have on others.

In the book, The 5 Love Languagesby Gary Chapman, he explores what different ways people in general receive love. One of the ways is Words of Affirmation.  I would venture to say that most of us appreciate a true heart-felt, thank you, a compliment, a way-to-go or other encouraging words.  I challenge myself and those of you reading this to find ways in your own life to use words of affirmation with the people in your life. From experience, I know that some may be resistant to hearing these words if they are not something they are used to hearing or used to you saying to them. Stay the course. Use this time to be an encourager of others.

Conversely, if someone has said negative things to you in the past or even currently, be willing to forgive and realize they are dealing with their own things, perhaps a lack of their own self-worth. You have heard the phrase, “Hurt people, hurt people.” That doesn’t mean everyone who is hurt, will hurt someone else. But most people who do hurt others, were hurt themselves. Perhaps you can speak words of affirmation into their life, if that is possible. Even more importantly, if you don’t currently have someone in your life who is speaking life-giving words to you, speak them to yourself. Change the negative tape that plays over and over in your head. Start receiving affirming words from yourself.  If you are open to reading the bible, I encourage you to seek out what God says about you and your identity.  Just a heads up…He thinks you are pretty awesome and He loves you!

Final thought, start speaking words of affirmation to those around you today, including yourself!  You are amazing and have only just begun to be your best self!

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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Said I Do: Lessons Learned from a 25 Year Marriage

bride groom

My husband and I are rapidly approaching our 25th year of marriage. We have had many highs and many lows. Been at the top of the mountain and down deep in the valley and everywhere in between.

I feel like at this point in my marriage I have learned a few things. Things I wish I had known prior to getting married. Things that would have saved me a lot of headache, heartache, and grief.  Things that would have allowed me to enjoy the present and be hopeful for the future. But no one told me.

As so often said, there are two sides to every story, there are also two sides to every marriage. And I don’t mean his version and her version. I mean the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. So let’s start with ugly. I want to share with you some of what I call, the cold hard truths.

    1. There will likely be some days (or even longer) that you really can’t stand your spouse. Seriously. You will look over at him/her and think, what the heck was I thinking? Often times this happens in the early years after the “honeymoon phase” has worn off.  But don’t worry. You will come to see and be reminded of all the reasons why you fell in love in the first place.
    2. Learn to be patient with yourself and your spouse. You are both trying to figure out life and you may not have the same ideas or paths as the other. It’s okay. Just stay involved and interested in each other’s lives and try to connect daily.
    3. You will disagree on how to raise your kids at times. Even if you have had a long talk about child rearing, inevitably one of you will change things up as the reality of life sets in. What you once thought was a bad idea will now be okay and vice versa. Each of you will also have your own parenting styles. Learn to let Dad do his thing and let Mom do hers.  Remember, you are different people with different ideas and have different parental roles. And it’s okay.
    4. You won’t necessarily like or get along with his or her family. If you do…count your blessings! It’s not a prerequisite to having a good marriage, but it does make life easier if you and the in-laws can at least be civil.  If things are not great with the in-laws I don’t think it’s a good idea to put your significant other in the middle. Don’t give them a “choose them or me” ultimatum. As far as it concerns you, try your best to get along. (I know, with some people that is impossible. So boundaries are a must!)
    5. You will argue. You will fight. But fight fair. Avoid the name calling and hurtful remarks. You can’t get back the negative words you put out there.  Remember you do love each other and you are in it together.

Those were just a few of the realities of marriage. But please understand, that is not all there is to a marriage.  Let me share some of the amazing things about marriage. When you are in a good marriage you will have:

  1. A partner for life (at least that’s the plan). You have that one person who will be with you through thick and thin. Sickness and health, life and death, tragedy and triumph.  Nothing feels better than to know you have that someone who is there to hold you up when you are weak or to cheer you on when you are making strides. One who sees you at your worst and loves you anyway.
  2. A helper in decision making. Having your other half there with you to help make decisions.  Sometimes big ones, sometimes small and mundane ones. It is good to have someone to be there to help you raise your kids. Being a parent can be so overwhelming. When it gets hard for me, at times I have literally stopped everything to tell my husband how grateful I am to have him here to help with all of this stuff. I tip my hat to single parents. I don’t know how you do it! It’s a hard enough job when there are two parents raising kids.
  3. A lover for life. I think this one is self-explanatory, but it is part of the relationship that can die if not tended to and lead to other issues. Be sure you take care of one another and don’t forget the romance in your relationship.  You have to put your relationship first. It can be very hard with demanding jobs and kids, but you have to make an effort. There will be times when “private time” just isn’t something that can happen due to distance, illness or other obligations. But just because you can’t always have physical intimacy, you can strive to maintain emotional intimacy. In many ways, that is more important.
  4. An opportunity for newness. Every marriage goes through different phases and stages. As you transition from newlywed to a new parent to parent of teenagers to empty nesters, look for opportunities to grow and watch for your partner to grow as well.  Perhaps one of you has a new job or the two of you have decided to move, you can look forward to what it will bring out in your partner or yourself that perhaps you didn’t know was there. Each new phase of life can bring a newness to your relationship. It can give you a chance to get reacquainted with your spouse all over again.
  5. Someone to Forgive You. We all do or say things to others that we need to be forgiven for.  Your spouse will mess up and it will be up to you to forgive or hold on to the hurt. I strongly suggest you forgive.  You will inevitably do or say something to your spouse that you will want forgiveness for. It really is a two-way street. We are all only human and we make mistakes. Having a forgiving spirit will not only help you individually, but it will help the marriage in the long run. I am not talking about abuse or anything along those lines, but the day to day things that we tend to do to one another.  Extend the grace to your spouse you would want to be given to you. It is great having someone in your corner who you know will forgive you even when you miss the mark.

As I said, these are just a few examples of the good and bad things in a marriage.  Everyone’s marriage is different. But if you go into it knowing that things aren’t always going to be great, but knowing that you have a commitment to stick it out regardless, each of you can feel safe in the relationship.  Safe to be yourselves and know that at the end of the day, your love and commitment will get you through the tough stuff.

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