LaRussa Retires

The top story today, in the opinion of the Central Standard, is the retirement of Tony LaRussa.  My isssues with LaRussa's style of play have been well-documented. I have always preferred the pressing, running, bunting style of Whiteyball that the Cards played in the 80's to Tony's American League approach with big hitters playing station-to-station, waiting for somebody to deliver the big hit.

But regardless of style, there's no questioning LaRussa's success. He's third in all-time victories as a manger, he has six pennants and 3 World Series championships. He revolutionized the way bullpens are used in baseball today. He is probably the greatest manager of his era. And in 5 years or so he will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

And this year, as it appeared he had mellowed a bit, as I became more comfortable with his approach and its obvious success, he probably turned in his best performance. The Cardinals' journey to and through the postseason has been well-documented, and it mustn't be forgotten, for it is the context, the subtext, the atmosphere in which LaRussa did his finest work.

And we learned today that Tony had made the decision to retire about the same time as his ball club began to get busy. It was coincidental, he said, but still one can't help but try to connect the dots.

Tony's decision surprised me initially, but regarding all the circumstances (the World Series title, his age, his health, Dave Duncan's future, Albert Pujols' future, to name a few) it really makes a lot of sense.

For all the aggravation I felt about him over the years I always anticipated this day would bring me some relief. But it doesn't. Darn it, Tony, you made a believer out of me and now you up and leave.

One final aggravation.


"Game 6" Or, "Only Mostly Dead"

I'll have more to say later about the Cardinals' 11th World Series championship, but I want to get this link up before it goes away forever. Game 6 of the Series was one of the greatest ballgames ever played. Too many self-satisfied commentors have questioned how good it could have been because there were 5 errors. If not for the errors, the game would not have fallen out the way it did. It simply would have been a typical game that ended 7-4, or something. The drama of the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th innings probably wouldn't have happened.

However, part of what made the game so special was the context of the Cardinals' well-documented journey through the post-season. This team was pronounced dead numerous times during the year. But they were only mostly dead. They weren't all dead, as the Braves, Phillies, Brewers, and Rangers can swear to.

Here, from the Cardinals' web site and for your pleasure, is the recap of Game 6, the likes of which we may never see again.


Won't You Please?

Both our kids watched children's television growing up, as most kids did. Mr. Rogers was standard fare at our house. I think our daughter probably preferred him more than our son. So it was with her in mind that I posted this and I hope it makes her smile.

I did.


The World Is His iPod

 From one of my favorite bloggers, James Lileks:

Wife took (the dog) for a walk later. He was slow. Very slow. "He's not going to be with us much longer," she said. Resigned. Then hopeful: "But I've been saying that for three years."

"Where did he take you tonight?"

"Well, I let him go where he wanted, and we went up the hill to the water tower, and then back down, and when we got home he didn't want to go up the steps so he went down the street, and I thought he would go up the back steps, but he looked at me, like 'I'm not done,' and we walked east and around the neighborhood again. But it was dark and he can't see anything."

"But he can smell."

Nearly deaf and nearly blind, and the world is still a story, every scent a character, every strong odor a twist in the plot. The dog walks outside and the world is his iPod, and it's always set on shuffle. So it is for us all, really. If you have a dog you know how they come to the door and stand there waiting for you to let them out. Standing at the glass door. The wall that keeps the odors out. They can see, but they can't smell. Daily life for us is just like that. If you're lucky someone opens the door and all the glories rush over you.


Whatever My Lot

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

From the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul"

Resigning Or Embracing?

There is resigning oneself and then, there is embracing. For a while now, I have been resigned to my lot. I think it comes from a pure desire to acknowledge, to praise the Sovereignty of God but, while His sovereignty is indeed praiseworthy I, by my attitude of resignation, have esteemed it as a lesser thing, a thing that is merely endured.

From the Valley of Vision:

Jehovah God,
Thou Creator, Upholder, Proprietor of all things,
I cannot escape from thy presence or control, nor do I desire to do so.
My privilege is to be under the agency of omnipotence, righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy, grace.

The Puritan praying above sees it as a privilege to be under God's control and wisdom. He has not 'resigned' himself to it. To see it as privilege is to 'embrace' it.

"There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty . . . The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God."  (Jonathan Edwards)

May it be so.


He Built A Lisa

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs passed away yesterday and everywhere you look folks are thanking him for changing the world. And generally, we know he did. But what, specifically, has his name on it?

Here's a list from Fox News:


Mercies In Disguise

Yesterday Charles Spurgeon pointed out the psalmist who wrote Psalm 130 may never had found the pearl of redemption had he not been cast into the depths. This kind of language causes one to think about "being cast", that is, that the psalmist was not the actor, but the one acted upon. He was not in the depths because he wanted to be, but because the Lord put him there.

There is a popular Christian song out these days that echoes this theme. It's called 'Blessings' and it is sung by Laura Story.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if the trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise.

The lyrics that I downloaded didn't have a question mark at the end, but it's a profound question. What if God loves His children too much to grant them ease, but rather sends the rain, the storm, the hard nights (and days!) in order to leave a bad taste in our mouths about the world? What if the Christian is often led purposefully into trial and difficulty by the Heavenly Father? What if He intends to send you through a hard providence? Is it enough that He means this for His glory and for our good?


Pearls Lie Deep

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
 4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
 6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
 8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Hear Mr. Spurgeon concerning Psalm 130:
"Out of the depths" is the leading word of it: out of those depths we cry, wait, watch, and hope. In this Psalm we hear of the pearl of redemption, verses 7 and 8: perhaps the sweet singer would never have found that precious thing had he not been cast into the depths. Pearls lie deep."


Encouragement: The Day After

And so, the day after being encouraged by Psalm 130.

I feel better and so the natural tendency is to let up. And it is also natural to want the feelings to come back, too. It has been my experience that, the feelings just cannot be replicated, at least, not in the same manner. God may reach down to touch me again, but not because my performance is right, or because I said the magic words, or because I am remorseful enough. No. I cannot act right and thereby cause the feelings to return. More plainly, you and I cannot make God do anything.

What I can do is earnestly seek Him again because "His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." (Lamentations 3:22) I can seek Him again by faith, believing that "He is a rewarder of those who seek Him". (Hebrews 11:6) And if He touches me today, I will know He has come and has given Himself to me, and that will be the reward. God Himself is the reward. But it will not be true because I have some feeling. It would be true because He Himself is near and has let me know it. Then I feel something.