Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of "Gray"

I’m just goin’ to cut to the chase…

I don’t give a flying fart1 about “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

There I said it. Hope I didn’t offend2

In all seriousness… there’s a lot of talk goin’ on about the erotic romance novel and drama porn film.

But I suppose this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, talking about purity and pornography should be encouraged in a time where sexual compromise is at an all-time high.

Granted, it’s heartbreaking to come back to these issues only to find more people wearing blinders3 covering their sensitivity to graphic eroticism and relational abuse.

But I mean…think about it. Just because culture glorifies the fetish doesn’t mean my opinion belief in awe-fully4, amazing sex, as God intended, is invalid.

Sure, I may be “old school” in the eyes of some, but at the end of the day, for something to be good, it also has to be right, just, pure, and honorable (Philippians 4:8).

And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to naively waste my breath claiming “Fifty Shades of Grey” is any of those things.

Now, I’ll be honest: I’m not an expert in BDSM5, but what I do know is:

  • Consent doesn’t make an action appropriate.
  • Sadism is not sexy.
  • Bondage is the exact opposite of what we were created for.

And while I could go on, the point is it makes no sense to devalue the very things we were designed for.

Love, honor, respect, freedom…I mean, common, people! I know these liberties don’t sell, but at the end of the day, we have to understand God made us communal, not commercial.

And hear me, I love being turned on6. Dare I say arousal is a huge part of our original design7.

But just like Sodom and Gomorrah, when we pervert the good and holy, we’re essentially prostituting ourselves to captivity and destruction.

People who justify “Fifty Shades of Grey” based on the idea we need to be reminded how sex is this mind-blowing, intoxicating experience…

…are you sincerely concerned the majority of the population has succumbed to thinking sex isn’t this?

Or are you simply trying to justify your desire to emotionally "excite"?

And look…I’m not trying to judge; I’m only trying to speak the truth in love (which for the record, isn’t legalistic).

I guess, my question is: for those who claim being in the BDSM world isn’t a bad thing, who should we be advocating for - the right to enjoy whatever you want or the right to human deceny as beings created in the image of God?

Also, for those who are defending the movie based on its supposed “happy ending”…are you not admitting its proceeding parts to be completely erroneous? And for those who claim there is a “moral” to the story, are you actually suggesting sadistic mentalities are acceptable as long as the submissive party is somehow able to convert the dominator?

‘Cause I got news for you: in the real world, that doesn’t happen.

I mean…seriously. Who are we to think we can change the human heart?

‘Cause while it’s human to crave control, only God has the power to change the sadist and masochist…and perhaps more of us would get this if we stopped blurring the line between fiction and reality.

No matter how you slice it, you can't justify a toleration of abuse (regardless of its form) for the sake of cinematic titillation.

I know many think all is well as long as there’s a satisfying resolution (i.e. as long as Christian and Anastasia fall in love and “live happily ever after”).8

But I’m telling you, whether we’re talking the explicitly erotic scenes or the BDSM issue, you’re playing with fire if you think even a little is acceptable.

My advice? Say “nay” to the “Grey”...and flirt away from lust.

Not only will you be safeguarding your heart from lust and impurity9, but you’ll be putting yourself in better position to know what real love looks like.

And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, who couldn’t use a fresh reminder of what put us here in the first place?

Look…I know this blog was a heavy-hitter.

But I also know as a husband of a beautiful wife, when it comes to valuing and treating a woman with utmost love and respect, I'd rather have 20/20 vision than have blinders on.

That’s all.

‘Til then, keep your eyes on the prize…and know though love has no limits…
…true love never fails.10

1 - Shout-out to Olan Rogers
2 - Sarcasm
3 - Pardon the ironic metaphor
4 - Word credit: Focus on the Family
5 - Seems like this should be the official hashtag of the movie if you ask me
6 - Whoa…I can’t believe I just said that!
7 - Side note: Why is the western church making any talk of sexual intimacy taboo, anyway? Maybe we’ve helped inadvertently fuel this fire?
8 - Some also justify the content by claiming Anastasia is able to teach Christian how to love in the end; the problem with this arguable is: you gotta know love to teach love.
9 - Which has a way to creep in subconsciously
10 - More specifically, love is always patient, always protects, always trusts, is never self-seeking, etc.


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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Never Give Up, Never Surrender (Part 2)

We've all been there.

Life in a lifeless cubical world. Surviving the 9-5 vocational jungle. Juggling a bunch of disjointed dreams against the backdrop of reality.

Perhaps you know what it feels like to be a fish in an aquatic Pandora's Box... you don't belong no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard the effort.

No question, it’s in these moments when we're most tempted to quit...when we're most likely throw in the towel and walk away.

But as I mentioned in last year's post, there’s value in not giving up, there’s honor in putting down the white flag in favor of the warpath...and there’s hope in maintaining a posture of perseverance, no matter how hard the challenge.

True, it can be arduous making ends meet and bridging relational divides amidst an unfulfilling environment; it can be difficult loving* people in a vacuum where nothing around you seems to give you that much desired sense of accomplishment and worth.

But truth is, at some point or another, we’ve all questioned our place, especially during [what seems like] a fruitless season, where nothing seems to be effective or bear influence.

Yet, I contend we don’t often help our cause at theses points of impasse.

Why? Because of the human tendency to put calling before purpose.

You see, our purpose is simple: to be heaven on earth

                  …by choosing to love as Jesus loves…

…and to be an extension of hope through proclaiming the good news**.

However, our calling is a bit more complex.

While our purpose boils down to modeling God’s love, our calling is how we model God’s love - an evolving expression, designed to influence different people at different seasons in our lives.

Thus, if our purpose is truly predestined (see 2 Timothy 1:8-9), then it should be clear how a) purpose proceeds calling and b) staying aligned to God’s will with a grateful heart is dependent on being completely satisfied in our purpose, regardless if we understand our calling (or how it should manifest in a given season).

In my case, when I applied this truth, it didn’t take long before my dayjob frustrations started making more sense. I had lost sight of my purpose within my assigned role, instead, fearing I was wasting my calling in a passionless, uninspiring position.

Yet, when I recognized my pride, flipped it through repentance, and returned my focus to loving people where they were at, my whole perspective changed.

No longer did I perceive my situation through an entitled lens…or doubt the handy plan of God on my life. No longer did I shrink in timidity or defeatism based on the incurrence of condescending labels.

Contrarily, I began to understand, in greater measure, how a) our callings aren't meant to always align with what we think they should (i.e. our innate wirings, our creative passions, giftings, etc.) and b) the disconnect between where we are and where we hope to be doesn't necessarily mean we're in the wrong place. 

In fact, I submit this wedge is something we all must taste at some point if we're to truly appreciate and rely on the faithfulness of God.

'Cause whether we feel relationally abandoned or hopelessly lost in an occupational wasteland, it doesn't negate the fact God is always up to something. For He knows exactly what we need, when we need it…and will always stay faithful to develop the fine qualities He’s established/establishing in us (Romans 1:20)…even if our workplace environment doesn’t [seem to] value these things.

As for me, the only way I could rightfully deal with my workplace dissatisfaction was by embracing a holy satisfaction in my divinely appointed purpose: to do Father’s work His way…and to allow His Kingdom to reflect in and through my life (Matthew 6:33; John 5:19).

And I'm telling wasn't long after surrendering my aspirations in this way that I began to feel fulfilled within God's placement again.***

So in closing, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to not see your worth through what you do or value your calling ahead of your purpose. Rather, allow yourselves to be fully content on what God has purposed you to do, all the while, being faithful to pray into your calling...regardless if the heartstrings of passion are being presently plucked.

'Cause at the end of the day, you’ll find when the two are in alignment, you’ll be primed for refinement. 

And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be.


* Granted, love should never be circumstantial anyway
** In addition to being disciple-makers
*** Sometimes, a return to basics with a slight twist of perspective is all we need to adjust the way God wants us to.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

The Effect of Steroids on Major League Baseball Outcomes

Since the early 1990’s, the increasingly widespread use of performing-enhancing drugs has marred the Major League Baseball world. Although steroids existed in prior decades, the intentional use of such drugs for personal gain skyrocketed after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the 1990 Anabolic Steroids Control Acts of 1990. During the past two decades, hundreds of Major League Baseball players have participated in the illegal abuse of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances in violation of federal law and baseball policy (“Baseball”, 2002). Concerning the Congressional hearings of 2005 and 2008, The Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), the Albany DA Pharmacy Busts, the operation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, The Mitchell Report, and the scandals surrounding players such as Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez”, 129 players have been linked to steroids and human growth hormone supplements in the past decade alone. With a high rise in drug violators, the level of offensive production has increased among the Major League Baseball teams with steroid users on active rosters (“Baseball”, 2002). 

In many cases, teams with a higher concentration of players using performance-enhancing drugs have achieved greater success with respect to win-loss record during the regular season and playoffs. The claim can be supported by two baseball statistics: Wins above Replacement (WAR) and On-base Percentage (OPS). Wins above Replacement is a statistic that quantifies a player’s value relative to the rest of the league, by calculating the total number of wins that any player adds to his team over the course of a season. Furthermore, On-base Percentage measures a player’s aptitude in reaching base, which includes slugging percentage, which gauges the power of the hitter (Grossman, Kimsey, Moreen, & Owings, 2007). Applying these two statistics to a review of The Mitchell Report, a 409-page report from George Mitchell to Commissioner Bud Selig, which contains detailed analysis of the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by players, a proportional relationship between teams with a higher concentration of steroid users and winning success of the team, based from WAR and OPS values, can be determined (Mitchell, 2007). 

In conjunction with The Mitchell Report, issued on December 13, 2007, “Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game is Wrong” by Jonah Keri and Baseball Prospectus will be examined to confirm the association of steroid users in Major League Baseball to winning records and manipulated statistics. Furthermore, these sources will provide clarity to the timing surrounding drug-related occurrences that may have altered the outcome of meaningful games. These reviews will follow a summary of The Mitchell Report and precede numerical analysis derived from the latest Major League Baseball statistics, including WAR and OPS, found in the 2012 Baseball Almanac. By evaluating the statistics of the players accused in The Mitchell Report, in addition to dates of drug usage, the influence of performance-enhancing drugs on individual and team statistics can be estimated. The objective of probing these publications will be to substantiate the fact that performance-enhancing drug users bettered individual statistics in addition to team wins in the regular season and playoffs, thus, affecting standing ranking.

Steroid Eras

In 2005, Peter Gammons, baseball reporter for the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), claimed that three steroid eras have existed since 1985, with the Pre-Steroids Era running from 1985 to 1993, the Steroids Era as 1994 to 2004, and the Post-Steroids Era beginning in 2005 and running through the present. Although steroid usage had breached through “grey market” areas into the hands of Major League Baseball players in the 1980’s, it was not until the strikeout-shortened 1994 season when both steroid contention and team offensive statistics began to increase at notable rates. Part of the reason for the delay resulted from poor economic conditions and concerns about player’s privacy rights. This tandem led the Players Association to consider proposed drug testing programs to be a low priority (Mitchell, 2007). Despite the implementation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Steroid Control Act of 1990 passed by Congress, players would seize advantage of the non-existent steroid ban at the turn of the decade, ultimately igniting the widespread outbreak of performance-enhancing drugs. Although steroids appeared on the baseball’s banned substance list in 1991, testing for major league players would not take place until 2003, one year after the Commissioner of Major League Baseball mandated a random drug test policy that strictly prohibited that usage of performance-enhancing drugs (Mitchell, 2007). Such governing negligence would pave the way for baseball players to juice up and contort individual and team statistics (Mitchell, 2007). 

The Mitchell Report

In December 2007, Maine Senator George Mitchell released an independent investigation to Commissioner Bud Selig known as “The Mitchell Report”. Mitchell (2007) identified 89 of the 129 alleged Major League Baseball players connected to steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. The report, composed to inspire a stronger authoritative grasp on the abolition of steroids, sought to expose players who ingested performance-enhancing drugs strategically to obtain a greater advantage over the opposition. According to George Will (2007), renowned baseball commentator, players who intentionally contested ethical boundaries set in place by federal law and baseball policy portrayed a self-centered devaluation of competition and an overvaluation of winning. As flawed mentalities, stirred by indifference, met higher achievements, drug abusers struggled to see how these achievements could be perceived as commendable, and how “the products of a lonely submission to a sustained discipline of exertion” could be perceived as beneficial when “drugs [making] the sport exotic, by radical intrusions into the body” allowed excitement to invade the sport by means of manipulated offensive statistics” (Will, 2007, p. 12).

The Mitchell Report confirmed the lack of efficient drug testing, sparing examinations on forty-man roster players until 2004. According to the report, human-growth-hormones were widely used among performance-enhancing drug abusers, since HGH eluded testing protocol. This approach became popular in 2002, after Major League Baseball adopted mandatory testing for steroid use, upon union and MLB labor negotiators signing the protocol in legality. Major League Baseball’s actions in 2002 followed seven years of lethargy concerning potential enhancements of the league’s drug program. After the strike of 1994, a work stoppage caused by disagreements between Major League Baseball owners and the Players Association, owners failed to highly prioritize a better drug program. This was due, in part, to the lacking of a collective bargain agreement. According to Mitchell (2007), as consequence, at least one player on each of the thirty Major League Baseball teams participated in performance-enhancing drugs during the Steroid Era. At the conclusion of his report, Mitchell encouraged Major League Baseball to expand examination methods beyond urine testing in order to negate the increase of performance enhancing drug users. Mitchell also believed that the entire baseball community should own responsibility for the outbreak of illegal substances (Mitchell, 2007).

According to Jonah Keri and Baseball Prospectus (2007), baseball statistics should not be perceived as equivocal to records of what players, managers, and owners achieve alone. Moreover, statistics convey how specific strategies are utilized to produce more wins. Unfortunately, not all strategies, especially during the Steroid Era, involved actions that took place on the diamond or in the dugout. After decades of employing “small-ball” tactics in the 1970’s and 1980’s, in which teams focused on in-field maneuvers to manufacture runs, attention began to shift to the outfield bleachers in the late 1980’s. By the early 1990’s, economic pressure surrounding Major League Baseball converged with an upsurge in players’ desire to obtain a competitive edge for the sake of better statistics, greater income, and increased accolades. Upon consideration of the “relatively relational calculation about the medical, moral, and financial costs and the risk of getting caught as compared to the potential upside”, several players found the gamble worthwhile (Keri, 2007, p. 333).

From a numerical perspective, Keri identified the baseball statistics that gauged performance more accurately, citing on-base and slugging percentage as superior to batting average for such analysis. In addition, he elaborated on the variance in time periods, including steroid eras, to illustrate the rise and fall of certain baseball statistics with respect to popular ideologies of managers and players. According to his study, of the 21 players who served suspensions in the year immediately following the end of the Steroid Era, a drop in statistical performance became evident for 15 of the players, with the most significant statistic, on-base percentage, suffering the greatest decline (Keri, 2007, p. 335).

Statistical Definitions

In “Steroids and Major League Baseball”, the report targeted On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) as the primary offensive production statistic for chief analysis. Since OPS provides arguably the most versatile statistic covering several offensive parameters, including walks, sacrifice flies, singles, doubles, triples, and home-runs, a thorough connection could be made between steroid users and their corresponding OPS values in various eras. Defined, OPS is broken down as the sum of On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). OBP represents the sum of the hits, walk, and hit-by-pitches divided by at-bats, walks, sacrifice flies, and hit-by pitches, while SLG is the quotient of total bases (singles - 1, doubles - 2, triples - 3 and home-runs - 4) divided by at-bats (Grossman, Kimsey, Moreen & Owings, 2007). 

Similar to OPS, Wins above Replacement (WAR) accounts for a player’s offensive effect on the outcome of games for his team, whether positive or negative; however, unlike OPS, WAR compares the players’ statistical talent level to the numerical league average (Wolfe, 2012). In order to calculate an offensive player’s WAR value, denoted by a “single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player would add”, a determination of the player’s Runs above Replacement (RAR) must first be realized. To calculate RAR, the sum is taken of the following statistics: “adjusted batting runs (Rbat); base running events (Rbsr); whether or not a player advanced on an error (Rroe); how many double plays the player hit into (Rdp); the value in runs of all the aspects of a player’s fielding (Rfield); the value in runs of playing that particular player’s position (Rpos); and the value of an average player over that of a replacement player given the player’s playing time (Rrep)” (Wolfe, 2012). Once a player’s RAR is established, the value is converted to its WAR counterpart, “through a ratio of “x” many runs to one win” (Wolfe, 2012).

Statistical Evidence

In the 1990’s, several notable statistical anomalies began to develop, as home runs and players’ size increased proportionally (Danaher, 2004). According to a 2002 USA Today report, during “professional baseball’s first 125 years, only two men hit 60 or more home runs in a season”, while during 1998-2001, “the mark [had] been shattered six times. And of the 238 times that players have hit at least 40 home runs in a season, 34%...occurred [during the prior] five years” (“Baseball’s Battered”, 2002). Although the trend initiated prior to the Steroid Era, “offensive levels improved sharply between 1993 and 1995”, as the outbreak of performance-enhancing drug gained momentum (Keri, 2007, p. 329). During the 1990-1993 campaigns, the average OPS stood at .714, highlighted by a rise of .036 between 1992 and 1993, the sixth highest increase from season-to-season in Major League Baseball since 1900. Between 1993, the last year of the Pre-Steroid Era, and 1994, the first year of the Steroid Era, the average National League Team OPS percentage rose from .726 to .747, while surging from .745 to .779 in the American League. By 1999, OPS values had reached .771 and .786 for the National and American Leagues respectively. In terms of hits and home runs, the amount rose from 41,088 4,030 in 1993 to 45,327 and 5,528 in 1999 (“Baseball Reference”, 2012). 

According to Grossman, Kimsey, Moreen, and Owings (2007), as baseball analysts noted suspicious trends, allegations among potential steroid users increased. By the end of the Steroid Era, a new method of determining the effects of steroids on OPS emerged, known as the “Steroid Seven” approach. The “Steroid Seven” method examined seven players who had been accused of abusing performance-enhancing drugs and compared OPS statistics between the latter years of the Steroids Era (2001-2004) and the inaugural year of the Post-Steroids Era (2005). The results revealed a decrease in the average OPS difference by .160. Such a statistical fall out came under more direct scrutiny following the 2004 season and the 2005 congressional hearings. For players who served suspensions in the Post-Steroid Era, a statistical decline in performance became evident with the “on-base percentages [suffering] more than their slugging averages, suggesting that steroids may affect a batter’s overall game” (Keri, 2007, p. 335). 

The 2000 New York Yankees

Of the 129 players linked to steroids and HGH, six of them played for the 2000 New York Yankees team, who in spite of a pedestrian 87-74 record, weak by their standards, they steamrolled through the playoffs and captured the World Series by defeating the New York Mets four games to one in a best-of-seven series. These players included: Andy Pettitte, Jose Canseco, David Justice, Roger Clemens, Glenallen Hill, Jim Leyritz, and Chuck Knoblauch ("Baseball," 2002). Despite a modest cumulative WAR of 4.5 among the batters, Justice, Hill, Leyritz, and Knoblauch, the amount still exceeded or equaled the number of games finished ahead of the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jay in the 2000 East Division standings (“Baseball Reference”, 2012). More impressively, the cumulative WAR of 7.6 between Pettitte and Clemens helped the pitching duo combine for a 32-17 record, one of the best during the 2000 Major League Baseball season. 

In the years following the World Series win, the spotlight of steroid controversy shined bright on Clemens and Pettitte. According to the Mitchell Report (2007), Clemens received Winstrol during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 baseball seasons. In those three seasons, Clemens’ average Earned-Run Average (ERA) indicated a 3.29 mark, notably less than the 4.60 ERA achieved during the 1999 season (“Baseball-Reference”, 2012). The Mitchell Report also singled out Pettitte’s name, who unlike Clemens, Pettitte admitted to using HGH in 2002 and 2004 (“Yankees’ Pettitte”, 2007).

The 1990’s Texas Rangers

In the mid to late 1990’s, the Texas Rangers grew into one of the most prolific offensive teams in the American League. In 1999, the trio of Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Ivan Rodriguez carried the Rangers to a 95-67 record, winning the American League West Division with the league’s highest OPS, hits, and Runs Batted In (RBI) value. The offensive contributions by these three players alone vaulted them into the 1999 MLB Playoffs; however, as would later be revealed by Jose Canseco (2005) in his autobiography, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big”, he admitted “to have educated and personally injected many players including Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi”. In addition, he confessed to providing detailed information to Magglio Ordonez and Alex Rodriguez about performance-enhancing drug (PED) suppliers (Canseco, 2005). 

The application of steroids, led by Jose Canseco, would start penetrating the Texas Ranger clubhouse as early as 1993. After the 1993 season concluded, the Rangers ranked first in home runs with 181, fourth in OPS at .760, and sixth in hits with 1,472. The following season, the Rangers would rank fourth in hits with 1,114 and fifth in OPS at .790, finishing first in the American League West Division; if not for the strike of 1994, the Rangers would have qualified for the MLB Playoffs and been a dark horse candidate to win the World Series. By 1996, the Texas Rangers’ home-run output had increased to 221 and 890. In 1999, those statistics rose slightly to 230 and 897 ("Baseball reference," 2012). 

Among Gonzalez, Palmeiro, and Ivan Rodriguez during these three seasons, cumulative WAR values chimed in at a collective 43, implying the three players combined to produce 43 extra wins or 4.8 wins single-handedly each season. Before 1993, the average WAR value among each player ranked notably less, with 1.3 for Gonzalez, 2.6 for Palmeiro, and 1.4 for Rodriguez. Applying the WAR difference to the 1996 American League standings, without the steroid-induced offensive of the Rangers, the Seattle Mariners could have won the American League West Division, since the WAR value among Gonzalez, Palmeiro, and Rodriguez alone was greater than the win-loss distance of 4.5 games separating the two teams. Such a spike in WAR came in part to a proportional gain in OPS values as well. Among the three seasons, Gonzalez averaged a .997 OPS, .093 above his career average; Palmeiro averaged a .968 OPS, .083 above his career average; Rodriguez averaged .818, 0.20 above his career average ("Baseball reference," 2012).

Comparatively, the Toronto Blue Jays, a team without any alleged steroid users on roster during the 1990’s, displayed a more consistent statistical line, with a 162 home run rate, 1,499 hit rate, and .760 OPS in 1994. By 1996, the team clubbed 177 home runs, with 1,451 hits, and a .752 OPS. In 1998, the Blue Jays would increase their home-run output with 221, but only collected 1,482 hits, alongside a .878 OPS. The key statistic, however, is that no offensive player allegedly used or admitted to steroids. During these three seasons, the Blue Jays compiled a 217-222 win-loss record and missed the playoffs each year during the Steroid Era ("Baseball reference," 2012).

The study sampled elite performance-enhancing drug users in Major League Baseball and concluded that steroids did have a direct effect on the outcome of games and standings. The players involved in the study were strategically selected from the Mitchell Report, as performers who had admitted to or been suspended by MLB as a result of being linked to performance-enhancing drugs. In support of the Mitchell Report, secondary sources were reviewed to confirm the identity and influence of select steroid users. To quantitatively accomplish the purpose of the study, statistical analysis of Wins above Replacement and On-Base Percentage, numerical criteria connected to individual and team win-loss success, was achieved to demonstrate the manipulation of offense performance and how the difference affected the overall team baseball standings. By examining the 2000 New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers (1993-1999), two teams with a higher than normal concentration of performance-enhancing drug users during the Steroid Era, correlations between statistical leaps and time of usage were identified. Additional commentary concerning the consequence of WAR and OPS on standing outcomes was also included. The results revealed that higher OPS values boosted WAR values, thus, creating a notable discrepancy between actual games won versus the amount of games won if cheating had not taken place.


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Goodbye, Seattle

There's something strangely romantic about the rain in Seattle.

Something sweet and dear amidst the mist.

I don't know if it's the emerald ambiance or the abundance of alpines.

All I know is when I touchdown in Seattle, I'm usually home.

But after a four-year hiatus between my most recent visits, I've, no doubt, had to revisit a chilling reality... we all face at some point or another...

...and that is: times change.
Relationships grow.
While some estrange, others slow.

'Cause as the charm of childhood fades, as the innocence of youth dims, you begin to realize: you can't always pick up where you left off.

And sometimes, the life you used to know isn't meant to be known any more.

So you press on… high on hope, yet down on the fact it still hurts…

…lost somewhere between what was and what is, wondering why a hard reboot can’t reset life to the good ol’ days…and why a clean slate can’t woo a splintered soul…

…and why a thankful heart* sometimes isn’t enough to cure emptiness and offset the pain of what was never seen.

Of course, there’s the beauty of the grander scheme unfolding...and a supernatural joy to behold when we press on and punch through…when we remember the God who not only makes all things new but orchestrates them for our good.

Yet, maybe you’re like me and have encountered the awkward dichotomoy of loving the clean slate, but also wanting life to make sense just as much.

Well…as much I hate bursting bubbles…I’m telling you: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t bask in the glory of starting over from scratch, while also feeling entitled to connect the dots that make up who you are...that have led you to where you are…as if your peace is somehow contigent on making everything count for something.

‘Cause truth is: While it’s perfectly human to want life’s defining moments to mean something, it’s only when we lay down this right when we start to take flight (see Jesus’ definition of living vs. dying). And hear me…I understand the desire to have people know the real you. I know what it’s like to drown within the cocoon of your own transformation…wishing those (who should be) closest to you could catch a glimpse of the greatness being worked within.

But ‘til then, the best remains a shadow in people’s minds…in everyone’s but yours.

And while God is most certainly enough…it doesn’t completely solve the heartbreak of feeling like an alien among familiar faces…like an Ishmael in a land of Isaac’s.

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar boat…where your favorite characters on in a different book than the one you’re in. And perhaps you’re scratching your head, wondering how to move forward when emotionally, everything feels hopelessly lateral.

Honestly, I don’t have the answers, but I promise I’ll be seeking them.

In the meantime, I bid a fond farewell to the City of Swass, knowing the know the best is yet to come

…and how even though I may wrestle with the outdated filters of people I wish I could be closer to…even though I rmay return to places I no longer can pick up from…it doesn’t mean I can’t believe for God’s best.

And with that, I say: “Goodbye, Seattle”.

It was real…


* for the memories and lessons learned

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