Her Goodness

Bybee_family_pictures-179Today our family celebrates a very special birthday.

Her students call her “Mrs. Bybee.”

The kids call her “Mommy.”

I simply call her “Sunny.”

But today we give thanks for this woman and all the goodness she brings to our lives.

In pre-marital counseling, I’ll often ask engaged couples to identify their partner’s most endearing, defining quality. “What one word best summarizes how you see him / her?” It’s always a blessing to see these young couples speak such powerful words of truth relative to identity. I believe such activity is foundational to a healthy marriage.

As I apply my question to myself and Sunny, I know exactly what one word best summarizes her character: goodness. In her heart, Sunny is just a good person. And she always has been.

Twenty years ago this month, Sunny and I started dating. As I look back to those earliest days of our relationship, I see remarkable consistency of character in Sunny. From day one, I’ve never known anyone more interested in doing the right thing…not the convenient thing…not the popular things…not the politically expedient thing…but the right thing, in any and every circumstance. She was that way when I met her at age 17. And she’s the same person today.

Her goodness has been a gift to so many throughout the years. I can only imagine the ways her students are shaped by daily exposure to her character. I know my children are better people for growing up under her care.

And I know beyond a doubt that her goodness has profoundly shaped my life for the better.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! — Psalm 27:13

Sunny, you are a channel of God’s goodness to all of us. Through you, we see Him. I hope today you feel loved and cherished and honored.

Baby, you’re the greatest!

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MLB Franchise Four: Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins

White-Sox-vs.-TwinsVoting for MLB’s Franchise Four has closed, but I’m going to finish out my series of posts highlighting the four greatest players for each MLB franchise. Today, I’ll be looking at the White Sox and the Twins.

Chicago White Sox Franchise Four

Here are the White Sox nominees:

  • Luke Appling
  • Nellie Fox
  • Eddie Collins
  • Harold Baines
  • Frank Thomas
  • Minnie Minoso
  • Paul Konerko
  • Luis Aparicio

It’s surprising that a franchise as storied as the White Sox don’t have a single pitcher among their eight nominees. I mean, Ted Lyons is a Hall of Famer after all. It’s also impressive to recount the number of great middle infielders the Pale Hose have developed. Here are my votes:

  • Frank Thomas. Franchise leader in HR, RBI, and runs.
  • Paul Konerko. Second in HR and RBI. Did you know he only stole 9 bases over his 18 year career? Unbelievable.
  • Eddie Collins. One of the best keystoners to play the game.
  • Harold Baines. Never the best player in the game, even on his own teams. But he was very good for a very long time. I suppose you could argue for another player (like Appling).

Minnesota Twins Franchise Four Another long-time franchise, another fantastic set of players. Take a look at this group of nominees:

  • Bert Blyleven
  • Rod Carew
  • Walter Johnson
  • Jim Kaat
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Joe Mauer
  • Tony Oliva
  • Kirby Puckett

I didn’t expect this one to be so difficult. But here’s my vote:

  • Walter Johnson. No brainer. 417 wins. It was a different time, sure. But you have to respect these numbers.
  • Harmon Killebrew. All-time leader in games played, HR, RBI, and walks. One of the greats.
  • Kirby Puckett. I don’t care what the numbers say; Puckett is on this list. If you saw him play, you know.
  • This final spot was hard for me. Blyleven was only 9 games above .500 for this franchise, so I couldn’t go there. I think you can argue for either Mauer or Carew. I went with Carew. Check back in another 10 years and maybe Mauer has my vote. But for now, it’s Carew.
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Mothers Day: We Need You

Here is a video we showed in our Mother’s Day worship service yesterday. A special word of thanks to my super-talented daughter for doing the voiceover reading of the text. She’s a natural!

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MLB Franchise Four: Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies

I’m flying through this series to try and finish before voting closes May 8. Thought I’d break from posting about the “storied” franchises and instead focus on some of the newer franchises.

Miami Marlins Franchise Four

Wow. Big difference here compared to the lists we’ve been working through.

  • Josh Beckett
  • Luis Castillo
  • Jeff Conine
  • Livan Hernandez
  • Giancarlo Stanton
  • Charles Johnson
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Mike Lowell

It’s mildly surprising to not see Hanley Ramirez on this list. I mean, it’s not like he was squeezed out by a bunch of more deserving nominees. Take Beckett. Any idea how many games he won for the Marlins? A whopping 41, good for 8th on the franchise list. Or take Livan Hernandez, he of the 24-24 career record for the Marlins. Seriously? These are your Franchise Four nominees?

What do I care? I’m a Cardinal fan. Anyway, here goes:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton. Franchise leader in HR and counting. He’s the face of the franchise now. (“Mr. Marlin?”)
  2. Mike Lowell. Franchise leader in RBI, although Stanton will catch him this season.
  3. Jeff Conine. Conine only played five seasons in Miami, but he was the first Marlin that mattered. That has to count for something. Doesn’t it?
  4. You know what? I’m actually going to write in for Hanley Ramirez with my final vote. It’s ridiculous that some of these guys are nominated ahead of him. His .300 lifetime average is second in team history.

I seriously doubt Hanley wins enough write-in votes. The final vote will probably include both Beckett and Livan on the basis of their postseason heroics.

Colorado Rockies Franchise Four

This little exercise reminds you of those fun Blake-Street-Bombers teams from the 90s. Here are the Rockie nominees:

  • Dante Bichette
  • Todd Helton
  • Larry Walker
  • Vinny Castilla
  • Andres Galarraga
  • Troy Tulowitzki
  • Carlos Gonzalez
  • Matt Holliday

What, no pitchers? Just kidding.

  1. Todd Helton. Helton leads the Rockies in a host of counting stats categories.
  2. Larry Walker. Walker leads the Rockies in a host of metric-based categories.
  3. Dante Bichette.
  4. Vinny Castilla. Castilla and Bichette rank 3rd and 4th in most other offensive categories.

I think Helton and Walker will definitely make the cut. Look for Tulo to edge out one of my other guys.

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MLB Franchise Four: Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds

I didn’t realize that the voting for this Franchise Four ended this week. No way I’m gonna be able to cover every team before Friday. Oh well. Here’s a few more.

Pittsburgh Pirates Franchise Four

I definitely wanted to vote on this one before the ballots close to cast my mark for Roberto Clemente. Clemente is one of my favorites and I think he’s a shoo-in for this, but still. Here are the Pirate nominees:

  • Barry Bonds
  • Roberto Clemente
  • Ralph Kiner
  • Bill Mazeroski
  • Willie Stargell
  • Pie Traynor
  • Honus Wagner
  • Paul Waner

Tough choices here. But this is my ballot:

  1. Roberto Clemente. What a player. I can’t remember what first drew me to Clemente; obviously, I never saw him play. But after reading David Maraniss’s excellent bio a few years ago, I’ve had a deep appreciation for Clemente as both a player and a human being.
  2. Willie “Pops” Stargell. Franchise leader in HR and RBI. Another quality person, too.
  3. Honus Wagner. Another no-brainer. One of the best players ever.
  4. You could really go a number of ways here. But I’m going to cast my vote for Paul Waner. A lifetime .333 hitter, including a franchise record .340 clip in a Pirate uniform. Honorable mention to Traynor and Kiner.

I think my first three are money; the final spot is really up for grabs. Should be an interesting vote.

Cincinnati Reds Franchise Four

Here are the 8 Reds nominees:

  • Barry Larkin
  • Pete Rose
  • Johnny Bench
  • Eric Davis
  • Dave Concepcion
  • Joe Morgan
  • Frank Robinson
  • Tony Perez

And here are the players I voted for:

  1. Pete Rose. When I think of the Cincinnati Reds, I think of Rose. No matter how you feel about his HoF chances, he deserves this recognition.
  2. Joe Morgan. According to Bill James, Morgan is the best 2B to ever play the game. He makes a compelling argument, too. Though he only played 8 seasons in Cincy, I still voted for him.
  3. Johnny Bench. Perhaps the best catcher ever, too. No wonder those Reds teams were so dominant back in the Big Red Machine days.
  4. Barry Larkin. I love Robinson, but my heart says Larkin (a lifelong Red) deserves this final nod.

I think the final vote will line up with my ballot. Outside chance that some Eric Davis fans rock the vote, but I doubt it.

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MLB Franchise Four: Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians

This is the next installment in my ongoing series covering MLB’s Franchise Four initiative.

910Today, we look at two of the oldest franchises in the majors, the Tigers and the Indians. I love working through these lists from these long-tenured franchises; lots of great players to choose from.

Detroit Tigers Franchise Four

The first thing you notice with the Tigers list is the dearth of pitchers. Justin Verlander is the only nominee, which is mildly surprising given the love Jack Morris gets from nostalgists. It’s also a bit surprising that Norm Cash didn’t make the list, although I’m not sure who you’d exclude. This is a fine eightsome:

  • Miguel Cabrera
  • Justin Verlander
  • Ty Cobb
  • Al Kaline
  • Charlie Gehringer
  • Sam Crawford
  • Hank Greenberg
  • Alan Trammell

So here’s my ballot:

  1. Ty Cobb. Up there with Ruth in the discussion for the greatest player ever.
  2. Al Kaline. Franchise leader in HR. Great defensive right-fielder.
  3. Hank Greenberg. A two-time MVP and a Hall of Famer.
  4. Miguel Cabrera. It’s hard to leave Gehringer off the list, but I think Cabrera probably deserves this final spot. A two-time MVP, three-time batting champ, and winner of the first triple crown in 45 years.

I think Alan Trammell may win a spot in the final fan vote, perhaps edging out Greenberg.

Cleveland Indians Franchise Four

Here are the nominees for Cleveland:

  • Nap Lajoie
  • Jim Thome
  • Bob Feller
  • Larry Doby
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Tris Speaker
  • Earl Averill
  • Lou Boudreau

Jim Thome is the franchise leader in homers by a large margin, but I’m not sure you can include him in the final four.

  1. Tris Speaker. An all-time great. Bill James ranks him as the fourth greatest CF, one spot ahead of Joe Dimaggio. Speaker spent the first half of his career in Boston, but he still had a decade in Cleveland. He still ranks as the all-time leader in doubles.
  2. Nap Lajoie. A name very few remember these days, but Lajoie was one of the best keystoners to play the game.
  3. Bob Feller. A list like this must include Feller, the franchise leader in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
  4. Larry Doby. You could argue for Averill, but I’m going with Doby, an oft-overlooked five-tool talent. In Speaker, Doby, and Averill, the Indians have some of the best center fielders the game has ever seen.

How will the final vote shake out? Recency bias probably means both Vizquel and Thome make the cut, likely at the expense of Doby and another player, which is ridiculous.

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MLB Franchise Four: Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants

la-sp-dodgers-giants-trades-20140508Here’s another post in my ongoing series highlighting the Major League Baseball Franchise Four initiative, this time focusing on the greatest West Coast rivalry, the Dodgers and the Giants.

Los Angeles Dodgers Franchise Four

I really have a problem with the Dodger nominees. No Zack Wheat? Pee Wee Reese? Gil Hodges? Any of these would’ve been more deserving than either Fernando or Kershaw. Kershaw might go down as an all-time great, but it’s too early to say at this point. Anyway, you can’t change the nominees; here they are:

  • Don Drysdale
  • Sandy Koufax
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Fernando Valenzuela
  • Steve Garvey
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Duke Snider
  • Roy Campanella

As with most of the storied franchises, this decision is a tough one. But here are my selections:

  1. Duke Snider. The franchise leader in HR and RBI, there’s no way you can leave Snider off this list.
  2. Sandy Koufax. We know his career totals were cut short by injury. What we don’t know is where he’d rank in our collective consciousness if we’d had the opportunity to watch him fade. There was no Jordan-in-a-Wizards-uniform phase for Koufax. Rather, we only remember him at his peak. And what a peak it was. Arguably the greatest pitcher of all-time deserves recognition on this list.
  3. Jackie Robinson. Even if Jackie weren’t an all-time talent, he’d be worthy of this recognition for his immeasurable impact in bringing racial segregation to an end in the big leagues. But Robinson merits inclusion here not merely as a cultural icon but as a Hall of Famer.
  4. With this final spot, I was torn. You could really make a strong case for Drysdale, although his final numbers are similar to Don Sutton’s, who didn’t even appear on this ballot. In the end, my final vote goes for Roy Campanella, the former Negro- and Mexican-Leaguer who earned three National League MVP awards and is widely remembered as one of the best catchers in history.

As I’ve said before, recency bias means Kershaw will likely be voted in by fans, which is really unfortunate. I love the guy, but bumping one of the four I’ve mentioned would be a tremendous oversight.

San Francisco Giants Franchise Four

Oh, boy. This should be interesting. What do you do with Bonds? This is another fantastic list of players. Here are the Giants nominees:

  • Barry Bonds
  • Wilie Mays
  • Mel Ott
  • Buster Posey
  • Willie McCovey
  • Christy Mathewson
  • Juan Marichal
  • Orlando Cepeda

At this point in his career, Posey is poised to be an all-timer: 3 championships, an MVP, and a Rookie of the Year award. But I can’t justify including him on my list…at least not yet. Here’s where I’m going:

  1. Barry Bonds. Look, it’s not the Hall. Bonds won five MVPs as a Giant. His 586 HR for San Fran is 2nd only to Mays on the franchise list. He slugged .666 over 6,263 ABs as a Giant. And don’t forget that he was a fantastic defensive player for most of his career. Bonds was a singular talent and, as much as I might try, there’s just no way to justify leaving him off this list. He may never be enshrined in Cooperstown, but I think he deserves this recognition.
  2. Willie Mays. A once-in-a-generation talent. Gotta put him here.
  3. Mel Ott. Do you realize that in Bonds, Mays, and Ott the Giants have one of the greatest left, center, and right fielders to ever play this game? Ott is a forgotten player from the 1920s and 30s, but he should be on this list.
  4. Christy Mathewson. One of the first five inductees in the Hall of Fame. Unanimously recognized as one of the most dominant pitchers the game has ever known.

I don’t know if Bonds will make the final cut. I suspect Posey will be there, and perhaps McCovey as well.

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