Wednesday Words: The Closer

I am reading “The Closer” to PB. It is the story of Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankee pitcher who is MLB’s all time saves and ERA leader. For those not familiar with baseball lingo, that means he is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. If you’re still in the dark, Rivera was the guy who came out to the mound in the ninth inning to get the last three outs in a close game. His role was to finish off the game and keep the lead, hence the name, “The Closer”.

This book has given PB and I some things to think about:

1. Rivera was poor kid from Panama, who played baseball on the beach with a glove made out of an old milk carton. His humble start in life kept him appreciative every step of the way.

2. I don’t hate the Yankees anymore. Although the book tells about their many World Series victories, he talks as much about the many play-off games they lost. The insider look at the clubhouse and the dynamics between the players revealed that most of them were very close friends and not money-hungry narcissists. I said most.

3. When Mariano signed with the Yankees, he didn’t speak any English and didn’t realize his signature meant he would be getting on a plane and flying to America. He was terrified of flying and always held his Bible on his lap when in the air.

4. All throughout the book, he gave God the glory for everything that took place. His faith was strong, but not flashy.

5. When asked to give some advise to a young pitcher who was struggling with his mental approach to closing, he said,

“The job is hard enough without overcomplicating it. You don’t want a lot of noise playing in your head. You don’t want doubts. You just have to think about making every single pitch the best pitch it can be. Don’t worry about getting beat. It is going to happen. It happens to everybody, but the best thing you can do for yourself is have a short memory. You can’t take what happened yesterday out to the mound today.”

PB and I think that’s good advise for life.

Lord, help me not overcomplicate things. Drown out the noise that plays in this world that fills me with doubts. Help me to just do the best I possibly can with what You’ve given me. Some days I’ll feel like a loser. That happens to everybody. Give me the grace to let it go and move on so I don’t take yesterday’s failures out to the mound today. Amen.

 

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Wednesday Words: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

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Sometimes when I read a book, I come across words that work so well together I just have to open my college ruled spiral notebook and copy them down. Then I revisit those words from time to time and let them work on me. This collection of quotes and excerpts has grown over the years. I figure there’s no sense in letting them pile up in a stuffy closet. Hence, this series of Wednesday Words.

I have a weak spot for books about books. In “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin, there is a quote that captures how I feel about her story:

“Every word the right one and exactly where it should be. That’s basically the highest compliment I can give.”

Here are some more gems:

“I like talking about books with people who like to talk about books. I like paper. I like how it feels, and I like the feel of a book in my back pocket. I like how a new book smells, too.”

“Bookstores attract the right kind of people….. A place ain’t a place without a bookstore.”

(For a peek at our local used bookstore, that makes our town a place, click here.)

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”

“We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.”

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, ‘What is your favorite book?'”

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