The Power to Believe

“And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and inasmuch as they break not my laws thou shalt bear their infirmities.”

 

This scripture, taken from the 52nd verse and the 42nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, struck me to my heart as I was doing my daily scripture study.  This verse perfectly describes the mentality that we, disciples of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, must have in all doings in our life.

 

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the first principle of the gospel is in fact Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Most people who are not members of our faith, tend to believe that us Mormons worship Joseph Smith, and are not Christians, when in fact the Lord’s name is in our church’s name.

 

Faith is such a strong word, and like we’ve heard so many times before, its an action word. Having and demonstrating faith in Jesus Christ allows us to accomplish things that we cannot see with our mortal eyes, but that the Lord can see through His eternal vision.  Isn’t it interesting how the church can send out 18 year old missionaries, who don’t really know anything about the gospel, and through their faith in the Lord, can convert people through the spirit? Missionaries walk into the MTC on their first day, and their first thought is, “there is no way I can do this.” However, as time goes on, their thought turns to, “you know what, I can’t do this by myself and my own merits, but through the Man I’m representing, I can do it.”

 

Can you imagine how much we could accomplish if we had that perception through everything we did? I believe that developing faith in Christ is the single most important thing we can do in this life, because it is the foundation of everything. It is our starting point, and what keeps us going. Though I’ve made many mistakes in my life, I’ve come to understand that the greatest task we can accomplish, and the most important thing, and the most rewarding thing, is to be on the Lord’s errand. Through my trials, and the things I’ve been through and from experiencing the things I’ve seen, I know for a fact that the Lord requires our faith, for us to be truly happy.

 

All He asks of us is to believe in Him. However, it’s a lot easier said than done. I’ve been in stages of my life, where I thought I believed in Him, but really was saying that just so I could convince myself that I was.  Other times though, I truly felt that I believed in Him and His teachings, and I saw the greatest difference in my entire life.

 

His words are real, and they mean something. I’m not sure what perfect faith is, because I know I haven’t achieved it yet, but I do know what believing is. I know the power that believing brings, and what faith is, and what it can do. Faith isn’t thrown around in nearly every scripture, every church talk for no reason, its for us, for us everyday. Paul didn’t believe he could accomplish missions, but he believed in Christ, and so he did it. Joseph Smith didn’t believe that a 14 year old could be called as a prophet, but he believed in Jesus Christ, and so he did it. I didn’t believe I could serve a mission, but through time I believed in Christ, and it happened. You and I are faced with decisions everyday, and the answer lies within our ability to trust the Lord, and when we do that, we’ll find our answer, and believe him.

Alma 7:23

More often than not, the posts on this site will be mainly about sports. That’s my profession right now, as a sports writer, and I hope to pursue sports journalism as I grow older into maturity. However, every now and again, I will be tempted to dive into other topics, like politics, our military, and the privilege it is to be an American. I also dab at religion every so often, and express my feelings about our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

As most of you know, I am a Christian and am also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and just five months ago returned home from serving a two year mission for the LDS church. As a member of the church, Christ is not only the single most important member of my faith, but also my life. Over the two years I spent as a missionary, I was able to grow closer to my Savior than I ever had before in my life. Last week, as I was sitting in church next to my parents, I was reading a passage from the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, and a book of scripture comparable to the Bible and one that the Mormon faith uses.

 

I was reading from the book of Alma, chapter seven, verse 23,” And now I would that ye should be ahumble, and be bsubmissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.”  When I was a missionary, I read the Book of Mormon several times, and I know that I’ve read this scripture a hundred times, but until last Sunday, I never really dove into it, so today I’d like to do just that.

 

In this scripture, the prophet Alma is preaching to the people Gideon, and talking about the atoning sacrifice that would be made by Jesus Christ. Obviously, he was teaching them, and is teaching us how we can grow closer to Christ. The first attribute he lists is to be humble. I never really understood the meaning of humility when I first started my mission, and thought it referred to being humiliated, to be brutally honest. Why is humility so important to drawing closer to our Savior? When Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering for our sins and wondering if there was any other way to complete this task, He said pleading to His Father above, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Through His humility, our sins can be forgiven, and through His humility, Christ was able to achieve everything that His Heavenly Father wanted Him to achieve. Now to us, if we are able to forget ourselves and to become disciples of Christ, and accept His will for us, and do as He would do, we can in turn become who He wants us to become.

 

The next attribute Alma points out is to be submissive, which falls very closely to the category of humility. He next mentions to be gentle. At first glance, I was confused but never really thought much of it, why would being gentle allow us to be closer to Christ? Nevertheless, as you ponder more about the Spirit and the gift of the Holy Ghost that we receive, it makes perfect sense. We must sensitive to the Spirit, not abusing the gift of the Holy Ghost, or else we will drift farther away from the Spirit, thus making us further from the Savior. As a familiar hymn goes, “be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the words Jesus taught.”

 

Next is to be entreated. To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what this means. However, I like to think that it  means to be treated. In the church, we believe in confessing our sins, and going through the repentance process and being able to become worthy again. Many times, we will ignore the confessing part, and believe that we can be worthy just off our own merits. This is a lie made up by Satan, and we cannot fall for it. The repentance process is to help us, so that we can be treated and become better. Rejecting the confession process, is almost denying the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ all together. We must understand that healing begins with confession.

 

The last point I wanted to discuss is the “being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times,” aspect. Obviously, and the Savior knows this, that we cannot keep all of the commandments all of the time. Everyday, we do things that we’re not proud of, even if its as small as playing a certain song on the radio or judging somebody in our head, we’re not perfect and we will never be perfect in this lifetime. The meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is that though we cannot be perfect in this life, we can strive to be. God expects us to try to be perfect, knowing very well we cannot achieve it. Christ’s sacrifice allows us to be better everyday. The great thing about the gospel is that we can improve daily, through His grace, we can change every single day. Whether its saying our prayers, studying our scriptures or choosing to serve more, every day is a new day to become an improved disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has done more for me than I can ever explain. The man that Christ has helped me to become is a man that I’m proud of, but also that is in daily improvement. How grateful I am that I know and believe in my Heavenly Father’s plan, that not only allows me to be better, but to become the man He wants me to be.

 

Root For Boston

Five years ago I never thought these words would ever come out of my mouth, I’m rooting for the Boston Celtics. At the beginning of the postseason, I wanted the Jazz to make it, though it was an impossible feat. Now that they’re gone from contention, for the first days of my life, I’m cheering for the Celtics.

 

My lifelong hate for the Celtics just comes from the fact that I’m a Yankees fan, and I believed that the city of Boston was evil just because of the Red Sox. However, if there is one exception to my dislike of the city of Boston, its LeBron James. Three years ago when he was a member of the Heat, loved em, had his jersey and everything. Now, he’s public enemy number one, right up there with David Ortiz and Jimbo Fisher.

 

I know I can’t speak for all NBA fans out there, but I’m sick and tired of seeing the two same teams in the finals for a potential third straight season. Watching game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, and seeing how dominant the Cavs are, it infuriated me. Cleveland has not lost this entire playoffs (neither have the Warriors), and its absolutely sickening.

 

This Celtics team deserves to make it to the NBA Finals, just for the fact that Celtics star Isaiah Thomas lost his sister prior to the first round of the playoffs. Like are you kidding me? What a story that would make! But no, LeBron and his team has to ruin it for the rest of the country. The fact that LeBron complains after every call he doesn’t get, when he usually gets 98% of the calls in any given game, makes me despise the man even more. Now, is this article about hating James or trying to prove my point for the Celtics, it’s the same thing.

 

I believe in a league where every team feels that they have a chance to go far in the playoffs, and ultimately contend for a championship. Its time for the country to rally around a team, and the Celtics are it!

Remembering a Hero

Some heroes do not wear capes, they wear football helmets, or they wear military gear, or in some cases, they were both. Several days ago, on April 22nd, the nation remembered the 13th anniversary of the passing of Pat Tillman. With Memorial Day a month away, what a more perfect time to remember this hero.

 

Cpl. Pat Tillman, without a doubt, is the most heroic and the greatest patriot ever play in the National Football League. When he died in 2004 at the age of 27, the entire nation mourned, but also paid their respect to this Cardinal.

 

Tillman was born in Northern California, and played college football for the Arizona State Sun Devils, before being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1998 NFL Draft. Tillman immediately made an impact for Arizona, being selected to the 2000 NFL All-Pro team.  While Tillman was flourishing in the desert sun, one day in 2001, would impact his life, and the entire world forever.

 

That day was September 11th. Tillman, who had family members serve in the Armed Forces, was incredibly moved by the attacks on that day. After the 2001 season, Tillman and his brother Kevin, left their professionally sports career (Kevin was a member of the Cleveland Indians Organization to join the Army Ranger program. Tillman turned down a contract offer of $3.6million over three years to fight for his country.

 

Kevin and Pat enlisted in May of 2002, and finished their basic training August of that same year. Pat served in the Second Platoon, Alpha Company, Second Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

On April 22nd, 2004, while deployed in Afghanistan, Tillman was serving as an acting team captain and SAW gunner of serial one of a two-pronged caravan, Kevin was also there. Later, while under an ambush, Tillman was shot and killer that day by what we know now was friendly fire.

It has now been 13 years since Pat left us, and his name still is talked about, and his legacy still burns within the spirit of this country. Tillman was a man who gave up professional football, something kids grow up dreaming about, to defend his country and the freedoms we are able to enjoy.

His name is still around his foundation, and also the Pac-12 defensive player of the year award. His number has been retired by Arizona State as well as the Cardinals, and was awarded the Silver Star and the rank of corporal.

However, all of these awards and accolades cannot bring back Pat Tillman.  Nevertheless, what Tillman gave up in contracts and riches, we can never repay him. The term “hero,” is thrown around a lot, but at the top of the mountain filled with patriots, Pat Tillman stands the tallest.

 

Best College Fight Songs

Its April in America, and for sports fans, not only are the NBA Playoffs going on as well as the beginning of baseball season, but also college football spring games are happening throughout the nation. It’s a time of the year, where we’ve been deprived of any football for two long months. Not only that, we still have five months to go before week one of the college football season.

 

Football, especially college football has emerged has an American tradition. The feel of the fall season on a college campus brings us to almost a storybook place in our lives. There isn’t a more beautiful sight for the human eyes, then walking through trees with changing leaves, the smell of tailgates, and a 80,000 seat stadium right in front of you.

 

One of the greatest aspects about college football is the spirit, whether it’s the fans, the student body, the alumni, the cheers, homecoming or the rivals, the spirit of college football makes it a beautiful sport.

 

There is also the effect of the fight song that is played by each schools band. The university band plays that fight song, and if its your team, it’s the anthem of your soul. When those first few notes are played, the 16 year old comes out, and it sends chills throughout your whole body. The following list ranks the top 5 college fight songs.

 

5.University of Alabama: Yea Alabama

its no secret that the University of Alabama has been the most dominant college football team over the last decade, so viewers have heard this fight song many times after Crimson Tide victories recently. Besides the fact that during the song they call out Georgia and Georgia Tech, this is the same fight song that played when Bear Bryant was coaching, and Joe Namath was playing. When it plays, and the beautiful red jerseys run onto the field, it’s a Southern tradition on Saturday afternoons in the heart of Dixie.

 

  1. University of Tennessee: Rocky Top

Although its not the official fight song of the Volunteers, all fans know this as the school’s spirit song. Its quite the sight when you look at Neyland Stadium, and over a 100,00 people are screacming, “Rocky Top, you’ll always be Home sweet home to me Good ol’ Rocky Top Rocky Top, Tennessee.”

 

  1. USC: Fight On

In reality, this song and the top two are really tied for number one. I am a huge fan of this fight song. When it comes on, you automatically think of Southern California and the great teams that have played there. It sounds very dominating, and you think of big shoulders, big guys like Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews. Fast players like Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson, speed that embodies Tommy Trojan.

 

2: Michigan: The Victors

When you hear the words, “Hail to the victors,” you directly think of Michigan. A Michigan Man, is what they are called, Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, President Gerald Ford, all Wolverines, all heard that song. In fact, at the funeral of President Ford, this fight song was played. They use the phrases, “The leaders and best,” as well as, “The champions of the West.” Its only fitting, that one of the most stories programs in history as one of the most famous fight songs.

 

1.Notre Dame: Notre Dame Victory March:

“Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,

Wake up the echoes cheering her name,

Send a volley cheer on high,

Shake down the thunder from the sky.

What though the odds be great or small

Old Notre Dame will win over all,

While her loyal sons are marching

Onward to victory.”

Clearly, the best fight song of all time. Notre Dame is a special place, not only in college football, but in the world. It’s a sacred place, and you feel that you’re in a special place. The Golden Domers, Joe Montana, Lou Holtz, Paul Hornung, Knute Rockne and too many others to count. When you’re walking through South Bend on a Saturday, and that fight song comes on, you’ve made it to sports heaven, unless you’re a Michigan fan.

 

 

Road to 30: Stop #1 Angels Stadium

In my road to visit all 30 stadiums in baseball, my first stop brought me to Anaheim, California, home of the Angels.

 

When you drive in, all you can see is a gigantic letter A at the side of the building, and an enormous facility that looks like it could house the USC football team. It was a beautiful Sunday day baseball game (go read my article on day baseball) in Southern California, doesn’t really get better than that.

 

A great plus for Angels Stadium, it has probably the greatest parking of any sports venue I’d ever attended, props.

 

We purchased the seats online probably an hour before the game, cheap and in the outfield. By the way, the outfield is the most underrated place to sit in a baseball game, for several reasons. Number one, its where the real fans sit. Two, if it’s a day game, you can score a pretty good tan.

 

To my surprise, it wasn’t a sold-out game, which took me back because it was one of the first home games of the new season, and it was in the day. The stadium and fans however, create a wonderful atmosphere. The 2002 World Series championship is seen everywhere. As I was sitting in right field, it was neat to think that Barry Bonds hit his first World Series home run in that stadium.

 

First off, and I’m not just blaming the Angels for this, but food/beverages at baseball games are completely insane. If one single hot dog is worth $5, then this country is heading in the wrong direction. That’s more of a disgrace then watching Stephen A.Smith on ESPN.

 

What made the game was the ending. Down 9-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Angels rallied to score seven runs and shock the Mariners. It was the greatest sporting event I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to many. There is just something about Mike Trout playing outfield, Southern California, day baseball, it just screams America and freedom at you.

 

All in all, it was a perfect day. Angels stadium sometimes gets a bad rep because of its boring location, but you’ll inside the stadium, what do you care? Surprisingly, Angel Stadium is the fourth oldest ballpark in the majors, so go check it out before owners waste more money on a brand new stadium that won’t even sell out, and they’ll sell hot dogs for ten dollars!

What If? The Bartman Play

As the new 2017 MLB season is now fully underway, we again celebrate the incredible and unforgettable championship run that the Chicago Cubs made in 2016. Of course we know the story, the Cubs won their first World Series championship since 1908, a span of 108 long years. However, the Cubs have been close before, 1945, 1969, 1984, and 2003. All those years hurt for Cubbies fans, but which once leaves the darkest mark? 1969 is when the team let go of a playoff spot with over a ten game lead late in the season, and 1984 is the time Chicago squandered a 2-0 lead in the playoffs against the Padres, losing three straight and series. In my opinion, its 2003 that hurts the most, and it all comes down to one play that makes the difference.

 

In the 2003 NLCS, the Cubs held a strangle hold on the young Florida Marlins with a 3-1 series lead, and looked poised to make their first appearance in the Fall Classic since the second World War. A loss in game 5 in Florida moved the series back to the Windy City, and it seemed that there was no way the Cubs could lose at home, especially with star pitcher Mark Prior starting game 6. Fast forward to the eighth inning, and Chicago held a 3-0 lead, and Prior was wheeling and dealing. With one out in the inning, second baseman Luis Castillo lofted a fly ball into left field, right when the stands were in play. We all know the story, left fielder Moises Alou went up to make the catch which seemed to be catchable, and a fan interfered. The fan’s name was Steve Bartman, and what ensued was complete chaos. After that play, Castillo got on base, and the Marlins went on to score an amazing eight runs in that inning, now with an 8-3 lead, and would go on to win the game, and the series, and eventually the World Series.

 

I’m not here to talk about Bartman, because ESPN and fans everywhere has made his life a living hell, but I do want to talk about what would have happened if that play had not occurred. What would the current status of the Chicago Cubs be if Moises Alou had made that catch? Also, what would fate have for the Marlins?

 

Let’s start with that game alone. If Alou makes that catch that he seemed to have, there’s two outs in the inning, and four outs away from the World Series. Ivan Rodriguez is the next batter, then Miguel Carbrera, who in the real game, grounded to shortstop Alex Gonzales who made an error, resulting in everyone safely on base. In this scenario, Prior gets him out, and the Cubs are out of the inning. Prior gets through the ninth and Chicago is marching on to the World Series. They face the Yankees, and if the Marlins were good enough to beat New York, Chicago may have as well. Looking at the matchup, its definitely possible. Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano against the Yankees and Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite and Mike Mussina. Offensively the teams were very similar, with contact and power hitters on both sides. The Cubs had Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Patterson and Alex Gonzales. We all know who the Yankees had, Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada. Win or lose that series, it proves as a huge momentum swing for Chicago in the years to come. The next year in 2004, Derrick Lee, the first baseman from the Marlins joined the Cubs, and Chicago is looking at more playoff births. Instead, they went on to miss the playoffs every year until 2007.

 

For the Marlins, its hard to say because after their world series win in 2003, several of the players were gone by the next year. Lee, Brad Penny, Ivan Rodriguez were all gone. However, if they had gone on to lose that series, those players may have stayed the next year to get another shot at the championship. The talent on that Florida team was really incredible, with players like Miguel Cabrera, Lee, Rodriguez, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Carl Pavano. If all those players stay a few more years, the Marlins are looking at not just one, but multiple winning seasons in South Florida, and un-seeding the Braves as NL East champs.

 

In all, the Bartman play affected two teams, the Marlins because they went on to win the World Series, and the Cubs because they then lost the series, and were the laughing stock of the National League for several more years. Now that they did win in 2016, I’m not quite sure how Cub fans look back at that game and year, with either continued anger and disappointment, or a release of cares.