The lives of MLB umpires and the ministry that keeps them afloat

What would it be like to be an MLB umpire? To deal with the continual verbal onslaught from players, coaches and fans? To be constantly reminded of your mistakes and treated like you are hardly human? ESPN The Magazine recently ran a feature story about Pastor Dean Esskew and his ministry for MLB umpires, examining the lives and struggles of a group of people that are neglected in the world of sports. From the article: "Pastor Dean has baptized 66 professional umpires, calling them safe in the only way that matters." Click here to read...

Freddie Freeman: Potter and Clay

Atlanta Braves 24-year-old star Freddie Freeman lost his mom to cancer more than 10 years ago when he was in his early teens. At first, he asked the question many ask when a loved one is lost: Why? Why did this happen? Why did she have to go so soon? Why? Why? Why? Early on Freeman pushed God away, but a few years ago he came to the realization that God took his mom so she wouldn't have to suffer any longer...

Chris Davis: ‘Daily Dying’

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23 In the above passage, we see that Jesus tells us what's needed to be His disciple. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross each day and then follow Him. What does all of that mean, though? Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who led the majors in home runs (53) and RBIs (138) last season, delves into that: "...As I got older, I realized it wasn't about going to church or managing your sin, but about daily dying to myself and surrendering my life to Christ..."

Randy Johnson, Big Man in Seattle

Randy Johnson. Just the mention of his name elicits a collection of defeated, almost fearful responses from major league hitters. Some shake their head and laugh nervously. Others ponder their fate for a moment...then shrug their shoulders in resignation. Still others take a deep breath and slowly exhale as if they've narrowly escaped death. Remember the 1993 All-Star Game? The always colorful, left-handed hitting John Kruk stepped in to face Johnson. The 6-foot-10 inch southpaw promptly sailed a fastball over the first baseman's head. That's all Kruk needed. He was finished. He was transformed into a wide-eyed little leaguer batting for the first time as he bailed...

Airing It Out — Memories etched in stone

I have an odd recollection of names like Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Ted Williams and other baseball greats from the 1940s, 50s and early 60s, even though I was born well after they played the game. Sure, I remember watching 1970s greats like Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Willie Stargell, Reggie Jackson, and Nolan Ryan play on TV, where I also saw the Big Red Machine, the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers in those great World Series match ups...

Sports Spectrum’s Co-Coach of the Year: Clint Hurdle

Some of the biggest impacts Clint Hurdle had on people this year wasn’t while he was managing the Pittsburgh Pirates to their best season...

The Mind of McCutchen

Since being awarded the National League MVP in November, Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen gets the questions all the time. What’s the key to success? How did you get the MVP? What makes you so calm and confident?

From the Archives — “I’m Not Done”

Because of who he is—the NFL's MVP and single-season record holder for touchdowns—wide-eyed kids excitedly surround him as he arrives, anxious to peer into their hero's face. And because of who he once was—a kid, a hero worshiper like the ones that encircle him—Shaun Alexander appreciates the power of the moment. He signs autographs, slaps high fives, and poses for cellphone photos, smiling for each click. He doesn't deny a request. Alexander, the Seattle Seahawks' running back with the knack for scoring touchdowns, is touring the old YMCA in his hometown of Florence, Kentucky, the building he bought last year for $1.8 million... Read the remainder of Shaun Alexander's story from our September/October 2006 issue here...

Major League Baseball Tribute — Billy Sunday and Deacon White

On Oct. 4, 1890, Philadelphia outfielder William Ashley “Billy” Sunday (1862-1935) played his final Major League Baseball game. Traded from the woeful Pittsburgh Alleghenys, who finished 23-113, to the National League Phillies for a late-season pennant run, he batted .261—but stole 28 bases in 31 games (with 84 overall)...

Crushing It

It sounds preposterous now—kind of like an era when carbs weren’t counted, phones weren’t smart and people didn’t tweet—but there was a time when Chris Davis considered quitting baseball. Davis, the Baltimore Orioles’ newly minted superstar, was fed up with the game by 2011. His promising major league debut with the Texas Rangers three years earlier at age 22 was a distant memory. A logjam of talent within the organization and his own inconsistencies at the plate...

From the Archives — Not Done Yet

Joe Torre finishes huddling with reporters in the dugout shortly before the first pitch of a spring training game. One writer lingers to ask a quick question. The Los Angeles Dodgers manager prefers not to offer quick answers regarding Mariano Rivera, the celebrated Yankees reliever who helped Torre collect four World Series rings in the first five years of his tenure on the New York bench...

MLB Closeup – R.A. Dickey

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey went 20-6 and posted a 2.73 ERA in 2012. His win total and ERA were 2nd in the National League. Dickey also led the NL in strikeouts with 230. R.A. Dickey is one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young award, which will be announced later today. Here is his story, from the March issue of Sports Spectrum: The knuckleball. It dips and dives, darts and drops, and is the most unpredictable pitch in baseball. It seemingly takes a wild journey before reaching its destination to the plate. No one knows exactly where it will go. The batter doesn’t, the fielder doesn’t, even the catcher, and most importantly the pitcher, aren’t exactly sure where the ball will land. It’s so tough to tame that there is just one active major league knuckleballer: R.A. Dickey...
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