Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"It Ain't Over, Til It's Over"

Two weeks ago I took my father in law and his lady friend to a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Great American Ball Park. At the age of 89 it was his second time to attend a big league game. For his friend, it was the first Reds game she had seen in person after being a life long fan. Both were excited about going, and my father in law called me two hours before our scheduled departure time, to let me know that he was dressed and ready.

I picked him up at his home in Greenup, KY, we filled up with gas, and picked up his friend, and we were off for Cincinnati and the 12:30 starting time.

The morning drive through the beautiful northern Kentucky countryside was a pleasant one. We arrived in the Queen City, and after parking in the handicapped section of the adjacent parking garage, we made our way to the nearest stadium gate. The seats were in the field boxes, down the third base line, about ten rows up. My father in law was pleased with the seats, since on his previous trip to the old Riverfront Stadium in 1978, we were in the "nosebleed section" of the red seats, about five rows from the top of the stadium. His lady friend was thrilled to be there! So, after purchasing a program and some high priced ball park food, we settled into our seats to enjoy the game.

And enjoy it we did - that is, until the bottom of the fifth inning. Down by one run, the Reds took the field in the top of the sixth, and my father in law turned to me and announced, "I'm ready to leave whenever you all are."

I was wondering how long it would take before I heard such a comment. My father in law is famous in our family circle for being ready to leave any event - shortly after arriving. His late wife use to say "He just can't sit still."

Needless to say, his friend was not happy. "I came to watch a game!" she told him firmly.

I tried logic, explaining how we had traveled 2 1/2 hours to get there, shelled out $34 for each ticket, paid $12 to park, and spent a small fortune on food. "We need to just sit back and enjoy the game", I reasoned. He grunted in assent, but I could tell, this would not deter him from his desire to "beat the crowd" out of the stadium, and to "get home before dark".

To make a long story short, by the top of the 8th with the Diamondbacks still leading by one run, he announced that he was leaving. We could stay if we wanted to, but he was going. "They are going to lose anyway" he announced. "Let's go!"

Well, the guy is 89, and knowing his determined nature, I reluctantly told his friend that we might as well take off. "We'll listen to the rest of the game on the radio", I assured her. We did. Reds lost, and he assured us that he already knew that they were going to lose.

He was right on that one, but this 2010 Reds team has made it a practice this year to come from behind in dramatic fashion to find a way to win.

That is exactly what happened last night. The Reds needed only one win to clinch the championship of the National League Central Division. When I turned the game on in the fourth inning, the Reds were down to the Houston Astros 2-1. They managed to tie it up with a bases loaded infield hit by Brandon Phillips, and the score remained tied at 2-2 until the Reds came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning.

In dramatic fashion, Reds outfielder, Jay Bruce, (pictured above) blasted a walk off home run to clinch the division championship and send the Reds into post season play for the first time in 15 years!

Baseball is the only major team sport that is played without a clock. All true baseball fans know the adage, "The game isn't over till the last man is out". (Or as Yogi Berra famously misspoke it, "It ain't over till it's over.") This Reds team has proved that all year long. As they complete the last week of the 2010 season, the statistics show that they have come from behind 45 times this season to win games in which they had trailed their opponents. In fact, Bruce's shot last night was the 27th time this season, that the Reds have won a game in their last at bat.

It ain't over till it's over!

Seems to me that is a lesson we can take from baseball and apply to every aspect of our lives.

Have you ever been tempted to give up - throw in the towel - and and accept defeat - just because you don't see a way out of a particular situation? Sometimes we face problems that seem to be insurmountable. Nearly six years ago, I received a diagnosis of incurable cancer. The prognosis was an average survival time of 18-22 months. Now, I'm not saying that I had any control over what happened. I had no control whatsoever! However, after nearly six years, I am still here. For some reason, God has chosen to leave me here for a while. I can't explain it, and I have no idea why, but I have determined to try to make the best of every day He gives me. Deep in my heart, I know I won't be here forever - but I am now, and that is worth everything.

If you are discouraged, fearful, or depressed - trust God. He is in control. Every day He gives you, just keep stepping up to the plate and taking your swings.

It ain't over, till it's over!

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