Sports: Can’t Buy Me Luck

For those of us that remember the Beatles, one of their big hits was the song, “Can’t Buy Me Love”.  Well, the same thing can be said about luck, just ask the New York Yankees. In baseball, where there is very little limitations on what teams can spend to sign players, the Yankees have one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, and have built a juggernaut of a team.  Last year, despite having an unbelievable number  of injuries, this team still had enough talent to win more games, than anybody in the American League.  They signed Gerrit Cole to a record contract, and I made the comment, that they may win more games than any team in history.  Of course, that won’t happen, because the season will probably have less games, because of the Corona Virus. But the injury bug continues to haunt them, which would have affected their season, anyway.   That is one type of luck that affects sports, the injury bug.  This blog is going to discuss the  luck, that happens during the game.  Luck has always been a part of sports and life, that is  uncontrollable.  Everyone has heard the saying, I’d rather be lucky than good.  Nobody in the media ever will say that the only reason a team won a championship, was because they were lucky.   How much has luck been a factor in the various sports. and is it given too much  or not enough credit, when evaluating why a game turned out the way it did?  Which sport does luck play the biggest factor?  Let’s take a look at each of the four major team sports.

There is no question in my mind, that the sport where luck plays the biggest factor is football.  The reasons just pile up.  The shape of the ball is an oblong sphere.  Because of this, you have  crazy bounces, and deflections, that can have a major effect on the outcome of a game.   All the championships are decided by one game. If this was the case in other sports, there would be a whole different list of champions.   There is lots of down time in football.  The clock is running during  huddles and players going back to the huddle.  Even though the game is 60 minutes long, there is not near that amount of time, when action is taking place.  I know there are comebacks in football but time can be stalled more in football than any other sport.  The next down the luck line is hockey.  Again the puck is a disc that has a tendency to take crazy jumps and bounces, which will affect the game.  Goals can be deflected into the net, which can add to the luck of the game.  In the playoffs you rarely see the team with the best record making a long run into the finals. In a seven game series luck can be even a bigger factor. No other sport has  as a person on their team that can make or break them like a goal tender. He can single-handedly win or lose a game or a series.     Next is baseball.  Baseball has a round ball, and a long season.  There is an old saying, in the long run, class will tell.   Baseball has no clock, so teams can overcome a bad luck streak in a game, to make a come back.  In order to win a game, a team must perform one task.  They have to get the last out. Some teams have never gotten that last out. No sitting on a lead in baseball.  But in my mind, basketball is the sport where luck plays the least factor.  The big factors are, the ball is round, the game is indoors, you must make an offensive move in 24 seconds, and you are limited on what you can do to stop a team from scoring.  The proof of all this is, unlike hockey, usually the team with the best record during the regular season wins the NBA Championship. In fact it’s happened 12 times since 2000, almost double any other sport.

Even though I think luck is the biggest factor in football, I no way mean to imply that it was only luck that enabled the Steelers to win 4 Super Bowls in the 70’s, teams like the 49er’s and Cowboys to dominate their respective decades, and New England to dominate the 2000’s .  In fact luck, can go both ways.  Maybe it was some bad luck that kept these teams from dominating even more. So how much of a factor is luck when it comes to the various sports?  What makes a championship team?  You need a combination of talent, hard work, and coaching to go along with luck to be able win a title in any sport.  One of the four components, acquiring talent, needs to have some good luck to go along with it, too.  In football I think the break down is this:  Talent 33%, Hard Work 26%, Coaching 25% and Luck 16%.  For the other sports, I think there is a gradual decline in how much luck is a factor in winning a Championship, coming down to 6% for basketball.  The rest of the factors probably have some variability from sport to sport, but luck will always have to be figured into the equation, when giving reasons for teams winning one or multiple championships.   People never want to think that something so unrelated to the business of the game, could contribute as much as it does, to winning it all. Dropped balls, missed or bad calls, wind, bad hops, deflected balls, that do or do not end up in the opponents hands, hitting or not hitting posts and poles, all have played significant roles, in how important games, have turned out. Post game analysis always wants to talk about all the great plays, and how well coached, and talented the winning team is.   When a player drops a ball in the end zone, it has nothing to with the other teams talent, hard work or coaching. The bottom line is this.  Nobody really wants to give luck, whether it is good or bad, it’s just due. If it wasn’t for luck the sports world would look a lot different when it comes to who won, what championships.

Meditation: If Not Now, Then Never

In this historic time of economic shutdown, and social distancing, if you can’t find time to start meditating, then your doomed to never experience the best thing that you can do for yourself.  These are troubled times, for many obvious reasons, but the biggest, is that this can not be compared to anything.  This is a unique time in the history of the world. Despite all the predictions, and talk of what is going to come, nobody knows what is going to happen, and that is the main reason for this high anxiety  people are feeling, right now.  Getting Covid-19 is bad enough, but add to that the uncertainty of when things may get back to normal, and we can resume  daily activities. This is an unknown virus, and only time will tell, if it will behave as some other viruses.   The crisis has brought out thoughts of, is the cure worse than the disease, and our grandparent are willing to die to save the economy. Give me money or give me death, just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it, as give me liberty or give me death.  The health of the country and the economy have never clashed so violently.  It shows how ill prepared we were for such a crisis.  We have heard on the media, that we are going to try and open up by Easter,  and others stating that it will take until August, for things to get back to normal.  This may be the highest anxiety levels that the nation has ever felt.  The future is now unknown territory.  We hear of worst, and best case scenarios.  Now is the time to embrace your inner being and soul.  It is time to first find it, and then get inside and revel in it.

The outside world, that many of us live to see and feel, is coming apart and there is really  no end in sight.  This is the time to visit the inner world, and find yourself during this world crisis.  If you do not do it now, then you will never do it, and it will be your loss. It is easy to think that there is a finite end to this, but there may not be. Improving yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself.  That is the great thing. You give yourself this gift. You do not have to depend on anybody to move forward on this. The world will go on in some form no matter what. You have no control over that.  You can control much of your system, and how you respond to all the chaos, that is going on around you.  By spending a few minutes everyday, and then slowly expanding to 15, 20, even 30 minutes a day in meditation, can be the one good thing that will come out of this health crisis.  It can make your life better, far beyond your wildest dreams.  The time has come. It is now or never.

The next few weeks will be even more unique than the last 2 weeks.  Out of all the comments and inane remarks that have been said during this crisis, there is only one that rings of any truth.  Dr. Anthony Fauci said, it will be the virus, that sets the timetable, of when things will get back to normal. Yes, the virus is in charge.  We can only stay inside, and maintain a safe distance for ever how long it takes.  We can only hope and pray that it will not be too long, but there is not a hell of a lot any of us can really do about it.  What will we do?  I do not have any idea, what is going to happen. I do know, this conflict between our health and the economy is going to get worse.  Which one will our leaders and the people of the United States choose.  No matter which one they choose, it will affect the rest of our lives.

Sports: What Sports

The sports world has been brought to a grinding halt, by the corona virus.  By now, everyone knows that every major sport, or sporting event has been canceled or postponed for around 6 to 8 weeks at least.  Everybody but the NFL, which is proceeding like nothing is wrong, is taking precautions to keep their players and organization safe. It makes you wonder if the NFL hierarchy is concussed. It just solidifies the fact, that the NFL is one of the most primitive and backward organizations in the world.  The newly ratified players agreement also supports this.  Let’s spread the virus, we don’t start play until September, and no one who is 60 or older plays football.  Over all, the sports world is not the brightest bulb in the room, anyway.  Even the NBA commissioner was talking about having some games, to help the American psyche.  What would really improve the American psyche, is too get back to work, feel productive and be able to pay the bills. The governor of Florida has shit for brains, also.  He refused to close beaches during spring break, which was a direct move to kill old people, and make sure they would be exposed to the virus as much as possible. Especially when all those people come back up north, and expose more old people.   I feel once this is over, that the government should build a canal across northern Florida, so it would be easier to quarantine the people that went down there, if we have a future pandemic.  Obviously, Florida officials do not care about health and safety. This entire crisis is historic, and no one seems to realize what a threat this is, to our everyday life, and the American way.  This is the worst economic crisis, since the great depression, and people are not doing their share, to keep everyone as safe as possible.

The main problem, is that this is the first time, that anything like this has happened in the history of the world, let alone in anyone’s lifetime.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows what is going to happen.  If fear of the unknown is a problem, then we are at an all time high, for stress and anxiety.  The more our high officials speak, the more they just look stupid, because none of them, in there entire lives,  have ever answered a question, by saying, I don’t know.  That should be the answer, to almost any question concerning this virus, and emergency.  If this gets as bad as some feel, and again nobody knows, it will really expose just how mediocre are health care system is. Already, the lack of testing is putting us way behind, in knowing what is really going on out there. Thank you money grubbing FDA.  These are tests, not drugs that might kill people.  We can only hope that most Americans are staying home and not mingling, that will help stem the tide.  Hopefully, warmer weather may help the situation, but this is not like the flu, so who knows.  These waters are uncharted, but it still does not mean, that all will be lost. Like everyone else, we will just have to see what happens on a daily basis.  If we follow the recommendations of  the Center for Disease Control, we can only hope that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later.

Of course, you can not write about the corona virus pandemic without discussing, TOILET PAPER.   I still feel that the governor of Florida and the NFL had something to do with this.  It has been shown, that a family of 4, should go through about 17 rolls of toilet paper, in about 2 weeks. Now, there were pictures of numerous people on various sites, that had at least 60 rolls in the their grocery carts, and sometimes even more.  Some have said that people were buying in droves, to sell on E Bay.  I was amazed, that the focus for so many people, was toilet paper.  There are other ways to clean yourself, after a bowel movement.  I am not going into all of that in this blog.  I am trying to figure out, what this says about people, in general. One thing ,that there was not a shortage of, during the entire time of panic buying, was fruits and vegetables. Maybe buying toilet paper, and not following the CDC  guidelines, have some kind of relationship. Maybe these people know, that they are not going to make the sacrifices, that other people are going to make, and therefore they feel the crises will last a lot longer than anticipated, and  things like shelter in place, may last 4 to 5 months. It makes you wonder, if toilet paper has an expiration date that nobody talks about.   Maybe something will go wrong with the toilet paper, if stored for more than 6 months, which may cause your anus to fall off. That’s asshole for all you toilet paper buyers out there.   If that does happen, we will all know who bought too much toilet paper.  The good news, no restaurants will have to close over that.  Good luck to everyone, over these next days and weeks, or however long this will take, to get our lives back to some degree of normalcy.

Meditation: Is it Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are often considered synonymous, and seemed to be interchanged frequently.  There is something called mindful meditation, but to me that is like saying meditation meditation.  Websters dictionary defines mindfulness as the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. It also says that it is the state of being mindful. Mindful is define as inclined to be aware.  When you are meditating you can be aware of certain things from your breathing, how your body is feeling and relaxing,  and your thoughts and surroundings.   Can meditating help you be more mindful during the rest of your day, and is this really a good thing.  Being mindful is being in the moment of what ever you are doing, no matter how mundane.  If you are drying dishes, then you should only be thinking of drying dishes, according to people who advocate being mindful all day long. Should that be all you are thinking about when you are walking is putting one foot in front of the other, and feeling every part of your body, as it moves.  I guess you should, if you are walking along the edge of a cliff.  For me, when I am walking, I have come up with some of my best ideas, to help make my life better, and more enjoyable.

Mindfulness is associated with Buddhism and Buddhist monks in particular.  The monks meditated 2 to 3 hours per day.   They got rid of all their material possessions and tried to stay mindful for the entire day.  In the modern world, this is something that is not possible, or really necessary.  I am not sure that being mindful, helps  you deal with some of the problems, of everyday life. Yes, when you have a particular task to do in life, then you had better pay attention, or be mindful during the process of doing, and completing  the task.  Trying to be mindful of every single little thing that we do, may create more stress, than what it is worth.  There are some people that believe there are benefits from being mindful. They feel that staying in the present, which is a result of mindfulness, can keep us from stewing over past mistakes, and worrying about the future. The feeling is it  can also help in dealing with change, that is inevitably going to happen. In order to learn and to plan for the future, we are going to have to think of the past and the future.  Let’s look at some facts of life, that every one of us has to deal with.   Change is going to happen, whether we want it or not.   Worrying about things, has never accomplished anything.  Will being mindful help any of this.  Will meditating help any of this. I think the former will not and the latter will.  Being mindful is more of a life goal, while meditating is a process that requires 20 minutes a day minimum to receive the benefits.

There are many people today that are strong advocates of being mindful during your entire day.   They feel that meditating will help you become more mindful, the mindful meditators.   There is only one way to become more mindful during the day and that is simply to be more mindful.  There may be a benefit but it still may not be practical in this world today.   When at home, don’t talk to me I am drying the dishes.   When at work, don’t talk to me, I’m getting a soda out of the machine.   I do not think mindfulness leads to a better life.  Mindfulness and meditation are not the same thing, not even close. In fact this relationship that mindfulness and meditation supposedly have,  can discourage people from meditating, if the goal is to become more mindful.  This should not be the goal of meditation.  I have written before about what meditation can accomplish and mindfulness is not one of them.  If you want to become more mindful, go ahead and give it a go.  It can be a daunting task, however. There are many other daunting tasks in life, that we have to deal with, in order to survive, and provide for our love ones.  Why add another one?

Sports: Baseball, Why We Love It.

Baseball, the American pastime, is still the sport of the people.  Yes, football has supplanted baseball as the most popular sport in America, but for the first time in a long time, it seems to be making some inroads.  Even with the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal, baseball seems to be thriving. Baseball has survived the steroid cheating, the strike of 94, when there was no World Series, the cocaine use of the 80’s, and various other scandals, over it’s long history.  Baseball is still the sport of America, with it’s own language that no other sport transgresses.  When you say Spring Training, DH, OPS+ and Opening Day, everyone knows you are talking baseball. There is even a movement  to make Opening Day a holiday. What is it about this game, that seems to grab the sports fan to love it, like no other sport even with all it’s warts and problems.  It is the American Pastime, which describes it perfectly.

The first thing about baseball, it is by far the hardest sport to play.  I am not saying that baseball has the greatest athletes, or the strongest.  From a skill set, baseball requires more from its players than any other sport.  Except for the DH, players have to play both offense and defense.  What position do think Tom Brady would play on defense, free safety about 50 yards deep.  In baseball, you need to be able to hit, run smartly, catch the ball, throw the ball, and in the National League pitch and hit at the plate.  What other sport is there, where you are 30% successful at something, and you are considered excellent.  Can you imagine if a goal keeper had a 30% save rate, a quarterback a 30% completion rate, and a basketball player a 30% free throw shooter.  Even the 3 point shooting percentage in the NBA, is between 35 and 45%.  In baseball the .300 hitter is considered one of the best hitters in the game.  There were only 19 players in the major leagues last year, that hit .300 or better.  In baseball, you simply have to do it all.  Baseball has the most strategy of any of the other sports.  Even if you do not agree with that, the fact of the matter is, baseball has enough time in the game to execute that strategy.  Do you really think that most “plays”  in hockey and basketball, go according to how they are drawn up.  I think not.  In baseball, decision making is more critical than in any other game. Having no clock, however, is what makes baseball totally unique.  You can not sit on the ball in baseball. There is no need for a 24 second clock. In order to win a baseball game, you have to perform a function, getting the third out.  There are many teams out there, still looking for the third out that never happened.  Yes, I agree today’s game is too slow, for numerous reasons, and because baseball is on the rise, the powers to be don’t really want to do anything about it.  Most of their ideas are bad anyway.  Baseball has never been, and never will be about clocks. Thank God, for the infamous inning.   It is the heart of the game.

The way football is going, with a weekly arrest of their athletes, concussions, and greedy owners, who are just making their sport a television show, with no consideration of the fans, I feel baseball, someday will be back where it belongs, as the number one sport in America.  Baseball will  have to speed up the action, if it is going to maintain this momentum.   The game is the best team game there is, and a beautiful thing to watch. The game is over 150 years old, and it is heading into it’s next renaissance. Opening day is coming soon.

Meditation: What It Won’t Do

We have all read or heard about the benefits of meditation.  Meditation is not like CBD oil,  where it can do everything. Even meditation is given many attributes, that may not be true.  I have written previously, that meditation will do two things. It will give the body the necessary time to relax, and renew. It helps you  discover your inner self. If meditation is done everyday for enough time, for at least 20 minutes, it can relieve stress, anxiety, and help deal with the every day challenges of life better. This can make life easier, and help  all areas of your life.  It will allow you to be able to control your response to the ups, and especially the downs of life.  Some people look at meditation as a cure all, for all of life’s problems, and it is not.  Just because you meditate every day, does not mean that all your problems are going to be solved, and everything is going to be fine.  There are many things that meditation will not affect.

Meditation is not going to make you a better person. It can help you understand why you behave the way you do, but it is still up to you, to make a positive change in your life.  Meditating will not automatically make you a more mindful person.  You may be more mindful, while you are meditating, but mindfulness is something you will have to work on for the entire day.  Meditating will not help you break any unwanted habits.  Meditating is not hypnotism.  Again understanding why you do things may help you change some bad habits, but it will take more than meditating to do this.  Meditation will not help you make any major life decisions.  Any decision you make has consequences.  This is not to mean that all the consequences of any decision will be bad, but anything you do or change, will have some effect on your life, and people that are close to you. Meditation is not a way to improving performance at work.  Being less stressed about things, or having a better understanding of your behavior, may indirectly improve your abilities at work.  Meditating is not going to cure a disease, improve your eating habits, or get you to go to the gym more.  Meditation is not a direct means to an end.

Meditation is a necessity of life.  It is as necessary as sleep, eating, and drinking.  One could argue that if you don’t sleep, eat, or drink, that you will die, in a finite period of time. One can live for a long time without meditating, so how is meditation a necessity.  You are technically alive, if you don’t meditate.  Without meditating you really do not know what your life is about. You are more or less just going through the motions of breathing air in and out of your lungs, and there is a real question if this is living. Is being in a coma living?  On of my favorite axioms is, that everyone is doing the best they can, at their level of awareness.  If you do not meditate then most likely your level of awareness on a scale of 1 to 10 is close to 1, with dead being 0.  If you really want to feel what living is, then it is time to start meditating.  Meditating is not a cure all, but without it, you just exist.  To be alive, you must meditate.

Meditation: Perception

Perception, even trying to define the word can create a challenge.  Let us see how various sources of information do this.  On Wikipedia it states the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment. Merriam-Webster dictionary states awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation. The Free Dictionary states, the process by which an organism detects and interprets information from the external world by means of the sensory receptors. This is how we develop are belief system, through are senses. Some of us develop very strong beliefs that can never be changed, by an outside party.  It is through these perceptions that people think our President is great or is horrible. No matter how the person thinks about the President it is unlikely that anybody is going to change his or her mind.  There are many subjects that can create very broad opinions and debates. On most of these subjects the way a person thinks or feels is not going to be changed. This is all brought about, on how each individual, perceives the subject.  Are any of our perceptions that we feel, hear, smell, taste and see, really correct.  Is our world something that we just create, to make ourselves feel better, or worse. How would we even know?  Let us look at one thing that we know is constant, and how we perceive it.

Everybody knows that time is a constant.  A second is a second, a minute is a minute, an hour is an hour, and 24 hours is a day.  But does it really feel that way?  Is that what your senses are telling you?  The answer is no.  When you are waiting in line, or for someone, 5 minutes can see like an eternity.  How does time feel when you are stuck in traffic?  How about when you are spending time with someone you really like or playing a game on your phone? Before you know it, 30 to 60 minutes is gone.  Seeing a very good movie, that takes 2 hours and 20 minutes, seems like nothing, but spend that same time waiting for your delayed flight, and you might think, you are never getting on board. You hear people talk about time even in the long term. It was a short summer and a long winter. No, it is the exact same number of days, each year.  I can’t believe that he’s 5 years old already, when talking about children or grandchildren. I don’t know where the time went.  I can’t believe its been x amount of years, when talking about any life event.  Time flies when you are having fun.  Maybe that’s why, we don’t want to have fun more often, just so we can slow time down. You can argue that these are just sayings, and people really don’t feel this way, but people do lose all concept of time, depending on what they are doing.  Our perceptions of time, can be way off on what the true reality is.  This is a fact, Jack.  If our perceptions of time can be this far off, could our perceptions of other things, be just as far off.  Most people would say, I know what I am seeing and feeling in other areas, and I know this is correct.  Well, I would not be too sure.  Having strong beliefs, will limit your thinking. It may be time to step back, and try look at situations from all sides, and double check, what you think may be going on around you, and other people.  Robert Burns said it best in the 1700’s when he wrote” O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us”. Since that is unlikely to happen, we need to take that inward look and check those perceptions.