Cool Image Of The Moment

Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA's Developmental League.


Still Excellent Uniforms, Though

Before today's game the Cardinals trailed the Reds by 3 1/2 games in the National League Central division. If the Reds played .500 ball the rest of the way (18-17), St. Louis would have to go 24-14 in its remaining games to beat Cincinnati. I haven't seen anything like a 24-14 run in the Cards this year.

I talked with a friend tonight who is a sportscaster and for many years did radio play-by-play in the minor leagues. His analysis? The Cards just aren't good enough.

He's probably right.


How You Play The Game

The University of Southern California's football program has begun a new era. Gone is highly successful coach Pete Carroll to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. Gone, too, is the former athletic director, Mike Garrett.

The new athletic director is an old Trojan hero. Former USC quarterback Pat Haden has taken over as head of the athletic department. The school faces a shortage of scholarships as a result of running afoul of the NCAA during the previous administration and quite a bit of work and patience will be needed for them to return to prominence.

I used to root for these guys back in the early 70's when Haden was the QB. If nothing else they were often playing some team I didn't like in a bowl game, so I pulled for the Trojans. Because of that I'd be rooting for them now, but then I read this article and, in particular, a quote from Haden which caused me to admire him more.

He has expanded the school's compliance program and NCAA's Infractions report and the NCAA Manual are resting prominently on desks in the athletic department. "Winning any way other than the right way is not winning at all," said Haden.

That is a remarkable and rare statement in context of the atmosphere that permeates today's college athletics. 'Win at all costs' is much more likely to be the guiding philosophy.

Said another way, Haden's view is that one has not achieved any triumph, regardless of the scoreboard, if rules were broken to obtain it.

Or, like we said in the olden days, what matters is "how you played the game."



The Sacred Ordinary

My wife read something today that spoke to her heart and she showed it to me. After having read it, and being encouraged myself (can I admit that I was fed by a blog for women? Apparently), I thought I'd give you a taste.

"What is a 'significant life?' I think it is one which can be measured as having great worth and value - forged by carefully chosen crossroads leading to the sum of a life well spent. It is a life whose moments are not wasted on the banal and ordinary, but hallows the ordinary as sacred because God is there."

I had to stop and pray and ask God to help me to remember that He is here. Always. And He's there, too, wherever there happens to be. Many times I run on autopilot, steering my life this way and that, doing it all like I've done it umpteen times because, well, I've done it umpteen times. And then some.

It was refreshing to my soul to be reminded that the ordinary is sacred because God is there. The ordinary is not sacred because of time or geography or day or music or atmosphere or mood or me or you or any other human being. The ordinary is sacred because God is present.

In the early 80's I worked at a Pizza Hut here in town. I worked mainly as an 'opener' which meant I set up the salad bar, turned on the ovens and rolled out pizza dough. I also ate Club Crackers and drank Pepsi, but that has nothing to do with anything.

The point is, often as I rolled out the dough, I would pray. And honestly those were some of the sweetest times of prayer I can recall. I needed the dough, so I kneaded the dough and fed on the Bread of Heaven.

The ordinary had become sacred - and can again.


The Whale

This post is not about Dale 'The Whale', a villain in the recently concluded 'Monk' TV series.

No, this post is about the Hartford Whalers who concluded their run in the NHL back in 1997. It seems all their merchandise still sells well (and why not, it's SHARP!), but now there is interest in reviving the franchise according to this story.

I don't know how that would get done, but I assume it would mean moving a team. I don't sense an appetite for more expansion in hockey. In fact, the NHL probably over-expanded to the south and west 10-20 years ago and now some of those teams might be ripe to migrate to more ice hockey friendly climes, such as Hartford, Connecticut, for example.

In any event, it's a good excuse to run the Whalers logo again.


Prodigal God, Chapter One's Conclusion

Author Tim Keller has spent a good part of the Introduction and Chapter One drilling one idea into our heads: the two sons represent two kinds of people and two ways of being alienated from God. The two kinds of people are sinners and pharisees.

Keller winds up the Chapter with an interesting observation. Namely, it was the self-centered and licentious sinners who were attracted to Christ. It was the moralistic pharisees who were angered and offended by Him.

"Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think."

I would not presume to fuss with Keller about this last statement - he is a towering intellect. (Here he defends orthodox Christianity on the campus at Stanford) However, I am not as certain as he about the "mathematical certainty" he ascribes to his conclusion. In other words, does the fact that certain kinds of people are attracted to our churches "only mean one thing?"

On the other hand, I can't really poke a hole in his conclusion and it's worth serious discussion.


Cards Sweep Mouthy Reds

St. Louis Has Its Bats And Arms Do The Talking

They went, they saw, they conquered. Monday evening the Cardinals arrived in Cincinnati trailing the Reds by a game. Wednesday evening the Cardinals roll out of town leading the Reds by a game after sweeping the 3-game series.

The games were spiced up by the eruption of bad feelings between the clubs, so much so that a shoving match broke out in the first inning of the second game. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is the one who started the ball rolling on the whole mess. Where he went wrong was the Cardinals didn't take it lying down. Phillips called them out and they came out.

Phillips and the Reds just need to look at the scoreboard.


Cool Image Of The Moment

Here's a logo from Down Under. Melbourne plays in the Australian Rules football league.

I saw this logo at Brand New, one of my favorite sites. The designers there seem to think this is too busy and are generally critical.

I'm no expert, but I know what I like and I like this. I am especially fond of the interlocking M, F, and C in the red field at the top.


The Economy Is Moving in the Wrong Direction

In an article by Lawrence Kudlow from Saturday Aug 7, he discusses the possibility that the Democrats controlling Congress will panic and may try to make something happen on the economic front before summer's end.

"Of course, Republicans will push harder to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy - as they should. But Democrats are now trapped by Treasury man Tim Geithner's statements that extending low tax rates for successful earners, investors, and small businesses would actually imperil economic recovery. This is his war against investment and capital formation.

Maybe the Democratic revolt in favor of keeping all the Bush tax cuts will gather steam. But Democrats are more likely to push for greater spending than investment tax incentives. They'd rather take your money than let you keep it."

Remember this come November.

No more Democrats. Ever again. In my life.


The Prodigal God, Chapter 1

Two Kinds of People

Author Tim Keller opens Chapter One of his book, "The Prodigal God":

"Most readings of this parable have concentrated on the flight and return of the younger brother - the "Prodigal Son." That misses the real message of the story, however, because there are two brothers, each of whom represents a different way to be alienated from God, and a different way to seek acceptance into the kingdom of heaven."

We talked about the two sons in the previous post in this series, but now we'll see what they represent. Keller reminds us of Luke's setting for this parable, that there were 'tax collectors and sinners' present, as well as 'pharisees.' Two kinds of people. The former were like the younger brother in Jesus' story and the latter were like the older brother.

The tax collectors and sinners were drawn to Jesus' teaching and the pharisees were indignant about that. And it is this indignant attitude that Jesus begins to address with the parable of the two lost sons.

Here's Keller:

"Jesus' purpose is not to warm our hearts but to shatter our categories. Through this parable Jesus challenges what nearly everyone has ever thought about God, sin, and salvation. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but it also condemns the elder brother's moralistic life in the strongest terms. Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong."

Previous posts in this series:

Cardinals-Reds Begin Today

Series in Cincy Could Bury St. Louis

The St. Louis Cardinals are in Cincinnati beginning today for a three-game series that is extremely important to both teams as they fight for the top spot in the NL Central Division.

The home-standing Reds are presently two games ahead of the Cards in the standings, though the lead is only one game in the Loss Column. A Reds sweep would put the Cardinals down five games with about 50 more to play. That's hardly insurmountable ordinarily, but the Redbirds have not given any indication with their play this season that they could get hot enough to wrest the division away from a good Cincinnati club with any kind of lead.

St. Louis will have its two best pitchers going in the series, Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.91) tonight and Adam Wainright (16-6, 2.07) on Wednesday. Jaime Garcia (9-5, 2.53) will pitch tomorrow.

Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch with more.

MLB.com coverage here.

J.C. Ryle On Prayer

From the book A Call To Prayer:

"Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this. I look at men's lives. I believe that few pray."


Tim Tebow, Straight-Arrow, Hated

"These are the sins of Tim Tebow: He is nice to strangers. He's never been arrested. His body is not a canvas of unsightly tattoos. He sometimes uses the word "freak" as a euphemism for the F-bomb because he doesn't curse. He is one of the greatest football players in college football history.

How anyone can stand him is anybody's guess.

The venom spews daily, in the anonymity of blog posts, in cyberspace hate groups, in the voices of callers from Alabama to Alaska. Tim Tebow, party pinata. Everybody take a whack.

The chaos that surrounds Tebow is baffling. He is the most polarizing athlete of this generation, for reasons that remain murky."

Tebow is a guy who, for me, I had no strong opinion about one way or the other. But now I cannot help but root for him, despite my antipathy for the Broncos, because of the sheer amount of baseless antipathy that a vast number of people seem to have for him.

There are real questions about his level of talent and the development of his skills. But for those questions there is an impending and unforgiving exam about to be administered. It will be proctored by the coaching staff in Denver and defenses all over the NFL will have red markers at the ready for any wrong or incomplete answers. Everybody will know whether he can play at the pro level soon enough.

But there is one question that won't be found on the gridiron: What is it about straight-arrows that drives some people bonkers?


Five Dimensions of a Great Story (like LOTR)

Anyone who blogs on a regular basis, or on a semi-regular basis, probably enjoys writing and may fancy himself to be a writer to some degree.

Peter Kreeft, the author of The Philosophy of Tolkein: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings, presents five dimensions that every great story has. Justin Taylor has helpfully posted the details with links to the author's website where one can hear him lecture on some themes from the book.

Lecture anyone?

Royals Gaining Ground

There was some angst expressed by some Royals fans as the recent Major League Baseball trade deadline passed over the moves the club made. Some referred to KC's actions as "a fire sale." Ridiculous.

I personally commented on this after some Facebook fans were all in a tizzy. The trade that seemed to bother the most was the deal of Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers. The Royals also dealt Rick Ankiel to the Braves. Both of these make sense. Trading away older players who don't figure into your future plans for prospects is wise.

These are not the old Royals, who traded away Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran and other budding stars for prospects. Today's Royals are keeping their budding stars and trading away parts that aren't in future plans for more talent to stock the pipeline. All these pieces will begin to mature together at some point. But don't just take my word for it.

"Looking at how they're building," says one NL GM, "they can start to be very interesting the second half of next season (2011)."

Peter Gammons filed an article on the MLB.com website which recounted the travails of the Royals, Pirates and Indians, smaller market teams who have had success in the past, struggled, and had bad luck, but may be on the way back.

Here's the meat of the article for Royals fans:

If the Indians can develop a couple of their pitchers and avoid the plague of physical misfortune that has made 2010 so difficult, they can quickly be back in the competitive AL Central. It may be a season longer for the Royals, but by this time next season they will have a year's experience for Gordon in right field and Kila Ka'aihue at first base and DH, Billy Butler is an All-Star hitter and their two best prospects, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, should be ready for the Majors.

(KC GM Dayton) Moore is cautious. "I'd rather be a little late bringing a kid to the Majors than too early," he says. But Hosmer and Moustakas are impact, character players.

"Wherever Moustakas plays, his team wins," says Moore, who has seen his third baseman jump a teammate for complaining about his manager pinch-hitting for him. Farther on down the road are athletic outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Derrick Robinson, as well as 19-year-old catcher William Myers. Their top pick in June, Long Beach shortstop Christian Colon, should be quick to Kansas City."

On the surface it looks like there's one too many first basemen/DH types in the immediate future, but I guess they'll get that sorted out. The bottom line is it appears, from a baseball standpoint, that soon everything will be up to date in Kansas City.

Cool Images of the Moment

This new image that graces the top of the blog is from a mill and is one of several pictures I took one day not too far from my house.

Can one say something "graces the top" when one is responsible for the thing's existence and its placement? Sounds a little braggy. It's getting late and I don't want to change the sentence, so it'll have to do.

As I said I took several pictures that day as the sun was retiring for the evening. This is one of my favorites -

For a while it was my photo on Facebook. Or was it my avatar? Am I supposed to say avatar? Somebody help me out here.

Here's the whole shootin' match -


OK, NOW They Tell Us

The 2006 Super Bowl featured the Pittsburgh Steelers and, my favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. Pittsburgh wound up winning the game 21-10, but it was fairly close throughout and Seattle had chances that they did not take advantage of. There was also this matter of a questionable call or two that, were they not made, would have helped the Seahawks fortunes.

Well, now one NFL official, in Seattle's camp this week for a rules session, admits that he made mistakes in that Super Bowl. There's no way to really know, but it's conceivable that the Seahawks might have had a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter if the calls weren't made.

Honestly, I glad for him for telling the truth and I think this will close that chapter, which still irritates Seattle fans.

Sure would have been nice to win that game.

House Dems Headed for a Thumping

Almost everyone who studies and writes about political items these days believes the Democrats are potentially headed for historic losses at the polls in November. So much so that many think that the Republicans regaining control of the House is in reach and the Senate may wind up virtually even. This would be a great relief to hard-working, freedom-loving peoples everywhere.

I say, bring it on.

Real Clear Politics has Michael Barone's column about this at this link. And here's a taste:

In 1994, I wrote an article in the U.S. News & World Report arguing that there was a serious chance that Republicans could capture the 40 seats that they needed then, as now, for a majority in the House. It was the first mainstream media piece suggesting that, and it appeared on the newsstands on July 11.

I cited as evidence five polls showing incumbent Democratic congressmen trailing Republican challengers. None of those Democrats had scandal problems; all five lost in November.

Today, a lot more Democratic incumbents seem to be trailing Republican challengers in polls. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has compiled a list of 13 Democratic incumbents trailing in polls released over the last seven weeks.


Cool Image Of The Moment

NFL training camps are open all over the place, which doesn't mean much, but at this point this is as good a time as any to post the NFL shield.

This version is old school, having been in use from 1960 to 1969. The font is particularly interesting.

Our allegiance here at Central Standard is to the Seattle Seahawks. That is odd for a Missourian, I understand, but I have my reasons.

They've a new coach and staff and a bunch of new players. There is no telling if they will be any good, but they have only won 9 games over the last two seasons, so it is hoped that they will be improved over that.

But baseball remains in force throughout the land, though few pay attention. It's a shame, but there it is.


Obama Seeking to Dodge Legalities

Fox News.com has reported that the Obama administration is looking at ways to grant legalization to illegal aliens in the U. S. without going through Congress. Republican congressmen are pressing the White House for an explanation for this action, but so far the White House is silent.

This should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention. Barak Obama and his progressive cronies are no more interested in obeying the law than the man in the moon. The sooner he is voted out of office the better. I, as I've said before, just hope we survive his administration without the Constitution in tatters.


Herzog's 24 Retired

The St. Louis Cardinals retired former manager Whitey Herzog's uniform number on Saturday.

Audio and photos from the Post-Dispatch.

The Prodigal God, There Were TWO Sons

You know when I posted the other day, I said I should begin where the author, Tim Keller, begins. And then I posted the parable from Luke 15 that we know as the Prodigal Son. Well, I goofed.

I goofed in the sense that Keller actually begins his explanation in the Introduction, so I wasn't beginning where he did. Sigh.

Without further ado (because there's been enough ado already), here are important quotes from the Introduction to Timothy Keller's The Prodigal God.

"I will not use the parable's most common name: the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is not right to single out only one of the sons as the sole focus of the story. Even Jesus doesn't call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but begins the story saying, 'a man had two sons.' The narrative is as much about the elder brother as the younger, and as much about the father as the sons. And what Jesus says about the older brother is one of the most important messages given to us in the Bible. The parable might be better called the Two Lost Sons."

As I said in a previous post, the book makes a much different approach to the familiar story and in the quote above Keller makes that view much more clear. There wasn't just one boy, there were two and there was a father also, though his role has not been left untouched by teaching and preaching over the years.

Keller's Introduction goes further, spelling out who he understands the two boys to represent - it's fascinating. He says his book is ". . . written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, both to those Jesus calls 'younger brothers' and those he calls 'elder brothers . . .'"

Right away my categories get blown. I had pretty much a standard view of this story, a view probably shared by most of you, that the younger son represented the lost world Jesus came to save and the father represented our Heavenly Father. There wasn't really any interpreting done as far as the older son was concerned.

But now I think Keller is right. There's a reason Jesus makes a point of there being TWO sons. And what I think we will find as we go is that, while there may have been a day we related to the younger boy who repented and returned, we might have more in common with the attitude of the older brother these days. Or maybe it's just me.