“Manny Being Manny” – Who Is this “New” Manny Ramirez?

Former Major League Baseball all-star Manny Ramirez was the perennial “bad boy” of the sport. With his long dreadlocks, sullen attitude, disrespect for the game in general and inability to get along with teammates, the perennial slugger was both a sensational talent and a complete drain on teams who employed him. When Manny Ramirez left baseball I frankly never missed him. Then this all changed on Sunday.

UnknownManny Ramirez was born in 1972 in the Dominican Republic.  My first memory of Ramirez was the 1995 World Series when he was a second-year regular player and a huge threat to the great pitching staff of the Atlanta Braves in the post-season. The Braves, as some readers know, are my childhood favorite team. I watched the Braves great pitchers (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz) work carefully to get around Manny. Along with Jim Thome they feared his bat in the Cleveland lineup as much as that of any slugger in the game. Later Ramirez would play for a World Championship team in Boston. (Manny played for twenty years;

By |July 2nd, 2014|Categories: Baseball, Love, Personal|

Rethinking a Christian Response to Suicide

I am continually amazed at the lack of sensitivity and pastoral grace that many Christians have regarding their response to a death by suicide. There was a time when Christians–Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant–generally considered suicide an “unpardonable sin.” For this reason when a person took their own life the family was left with the profound sense that their loved one was eternally condemned through this final act of (self) murder. Both officially, and unofficially, this view has been largely altered over the last fifty-plus years. (I still recall how I felt when I first came across this “historic” view through reading Pilgrim’s Progress, the popular classic written by the English minister John Bunyan.)

The advances we’ve made in understanding mental illness, and especially the issue of suicide, have been nothing short of a major paradigm shift in understanding both human behavior and moral accountability. While it is true that the “moral” issue remains the same in suicide (a person takes a life, which is morally wrong) it seems to me that the way Christians understand this moral issue has changed rather dramatically. This change, I submit, is

"One Hit From Home" – A Film I Enjoyed Sharing a Role in as an Actor

Some of you know that a few years ago I worked with several friends on a feature film. These two friends–Johnny Meier and David Stone–came to personal faith in Christ as young filmmakers and were powerfully nudged by the Spirit to change their lifestyle. This leading of the Spirit led them to make some faithful choices about what they would do and why. They were introduced to me through my nephew and soon became good friends. They both came to Chicago a few years ago to make a film about my life and the work of ACT3. You can see that film on our website, in a three-minute version or the longer thirty-minute version.

MV5BMTg5MDMzNTYzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU2Nzc1Nw@@._V1._SX98_SY140_Johnny and David were working on their first inspirational film at the time we met, or at least they were working on the script and the early stages of anticipated production. As they scripted their film they had the need for an actor who would be a minister. This led them to cast me in a role in their film. Over the last two

By |March 12th, 2013|Categories: ACT 3, Baseball, Culture, Faith, Film, Personal|

Trouble with the Curve

The new Clint Eastwood film Trouble with the Curve is much, much more than a baseball movie. It is really a character story with a baseball backdrop, much like the well-done book/film, Moneyball. In Trouble with the Curve an ailing baseball scout, Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood), is in his twilight years and living a hum-drum life. Through pressure from his boss in Atlanta Gus takes his daughter along for one last scouting trip to see a possible first round draft pick play high school ball before the upcoming Major League Draft.

Gus is an elderly scout for the Atlanta Braves, which was a real hoot for me as a life-long Braves fan. Gus is becoming increasingly frail and ill-equipped, particularly with his deteriorating eyesight. But baseball is all Gus knows and cares about. The Braves are losing faith in Gus’s abilities. Modern baseball is more connected with computer predictions and online statistics than ever thus scouts physically sitting in the stands and watching talent in person is increasingly becoming a lost art. Gus hates computers! He believes

By |October 5th, 2012|Categories: Baseball, Film|

Wherever I Wind Up: The R. A. Dickey Story

My friends know that I am a huge baseball fan. I have loved the game since I was four or five years old. I got this love, like so many fans of the game, from my dad. There were many summer nights when my tired father would come home from work and take me “out to the ball game” because I begged him a great deal. One of my greatest remembrances was leaving a minor league game in Nashville before the ninth inning when the home team was down 10-1. Dad assured me it was OK to leave since Nashville could not win. As we drove home we listened on the radio as the hometown Vols rallied and won the game 11-10. I never let my dad forget that night. I hope he forgave me for reminding him so often over the years.

I introduced my children to the sport and at ages 39 and 35 they enjoy it too, especially my daughter! My son will watch a game in person but my daughter watches box scores, can keep score, and understands the nuances of the game

By |July 12th, 2012|Categories: Baseball, Books|

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

My passion for baseball is almost legendary. I enjoy a relaxing day at the ballpark about as much as anything I can do for pure fun. I miss baseball after the World Series in October every year, just like clockwork. I long for Spring and the crack of the bat around March 1. Sometimes we even plan a five-day Florida trip just to see Spring Training. Photo

Since 1957 I have been a Braves fan, first in Milwaukee and now in Atlanta. I live and die with my Boys of Summer and thus I love the Braves! I have seen them win two World Series Championships in my lifetime (1957 and 2005). They should have won two more, in 1958 and 2006 but both times the Yankees rallied to beat them in seven games. I stuck with them when they were perennial losers and since I came to Chicago in 1969 I have tried to see them play

By |May 17th, 2012|Categories: ACT 3, Baseball|

Can the Cubs Change?

Now that the baseball season is over and we have enjoyed another World Series we have a moment to reflect on the future of this great sport. Living in Chicago I get a lot of news about the Cubs, those lovable losers on the North Side. Some say the Cubs are actually cursed while others just think they are inept. I believe the latter but sometimes you have to wonder.

Chicago_Cubs The Cubs appear to have made a major hiring coup in taking Theo Epstein from Boston, the same guy who turned the other “big” loser into two-time World Series Champs in the last decade. Time will tell. The Cubs may hire the best but will they win?

First, I have to hand out praise to the new Cub owner, Tom Ricketts. Ricketts not only had the courage and foresight to fire GM Jim Hendry but he cleaned up the ballpark and changed attitudes 110%. I decided to go back to Wrigley Field, after several years away from the place,

By |October 29th, 2011|Categories: Baseball|

Moneyball, Two Dramatic Loses and the End of the Line for My Team

As a fan of the great game of baseball the last 36 hours have been filled with great emotion, great joy and a huge sense of loss. Rarely will we ever see four regular-season games that mattered so much come down to the end in both leagues on one dramatic evening like Wednesday night. In the AL the Red Sox lost with two outs in the ninth to the lowly Orioles. They were leading 3-2 and had one of the best pitchers in baseball on the hill.  About three minutes later the Tampa Rays won on a walk-off home run by Longoria to win the AL Wild Card. Tampa has enough pitching to actually make a serious potential run at the AL Pennant.

In the senior circuit the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves, my life-long favorite team, suffered one of the greatest stretch-run collapses ever, blowing a 10 1/2 game lead from late August and an 8 1/2 game lead from September 5. First-year Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez has

By |September 30th, 2011|Categories: Baseball|

Lessons on Life from a Hall of Fame Pitcher

Many of you already know I am a huge baseball fan. In particular, I am a life-long Braves fan. I loved them when they were in Milwaukee and when they moved to Atlanta in 1966 I was a 17 year-old kid who found ways to drive four hours to Atlanta to see them play several times a summer. I have followed them over all these years and seen them play in at least nine different cities as the visiting team. I watch some of their games and listen to them on my MLB App now and then.

Don Sutton A few days ago I listened to one of those rare moments when a baseball analyst talked about pitching. The announcer asked him how a young guy could learn to be a big league pitcher. The commentator was Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame hurler who won over 300 games. Sutton is a regular on Braves radio and an astute student of the game. His subject was what about

By |September 10th, 2011|Categories: Baseball, Discipleship, Leadership|

Josh Hamilton: An Icon of Grace in a Game of Skill

JoshHamilton Texas Rangers superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton has won an MVP award and played in the World Series in the past year. He is just one of the very best players there is in a game that demands skill, perseverance and dedication all wrapped into one athlete. Hamilton is also a serious and thoughtful Christian.

It was not always this way for Josh Hamilton. When he first came up to the Major Leagues he was addicted to drugs and on a course to total destruction. In fact, when I looked for information and photographs of Josh Hamilton I found pictures of his present life and past life, revealing something of the lewd behavior he once engaged in when he lived in spiritual darkness. But then Josh Hamilton genuinely encountered the grace of God in Jesus Christ and became a new creation. Not only did his marriage and personal life dramatically change but his baseball career got new life. One could say that this guy walks and talks “resurrection life”

By |July 13th, 2011|Categories: Baseball, Current Affairs|

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