2015 And Promises From “Back To The Future”

05031617A-thumb-800xauto-2672015 is around the corner.

And I have been waiting for this my whole life.

It seemed so far from my grasp when Marty McFly went back in time. Well, and into the future, which is what seemed so far away to a 10-year-old boy in 1987.  Going back to 1955 was pretty cool, but when he went into the future 30 years to the year 2015, that captivated my imagination.

I began counting off the years on my fingers until I discovered that I would be 38 years old the year that all of this cool stuff would be in my life. Yet that was older than my dad was. I never thought I would be that old.

Hover boards, tennis shoes that laced themselves automatically, flying cars and a lot of amazing stuff caught my imagination and whisked me into another time, a time of possibilities. Now, the futuristic things mentioned earlier have yet to come into practical usage by the public But some things have worked into our everyday life. We have seen TV with 500 channels which still blows me away that we can create content for that much television. And in this coming year, I am sure much of the future will be here. Surely. At least some of the newfangled things and predictions.

Some seem so possible. Some not as much.

Still, the most far-fetched of all their futuristic ideas was the World Series marquis that read Cubs and Angels. For a long time, I saw that as comic relief in a movie not rooted in reality but in fun and adventure. To me, a boy from Chicago who also lived much of his life in Orange County, these are my teams. And until 2002, I thought, this to be one of the most unlikely of all match-ups. The Angels were a laughing stock of an organization choking away their best chances in 1986 in drastic flame-out fashion and 1995. 1995 when a bunt turned into a game winning home-run propelling the upstart Seattle Mariners into the playoffs for the first time.

Okay, the Angels who were depicted by a Disney film needing actual Angels to help them to victory seemed like they really needed fantasy to be on their side. The marquis with their name had to simply be slipped in by a writer or producer with a soft spot for his hometown team. It was pretty unlikely to see them in the World Series, right. But they did make it once and won it all in 2002. And from that point, they have played competitive baseball most years. They are no longer longshots to play in the Series. 201 with the Angels in baseball’s World Series could be.

But the Cubs?

The Cubs have found incredible ways to bust the hopes of their fans on the few occasions they have had any chance of winning. Beyond that most years they embody their moniker of the loveable losers. They play, have fun and everyone loves them. Baseball on the North Side of Chicago has become more about hanging out with friends than goals of winning. Few people if any were alive the last time the Cubs won it all, so winning has turned from a distant memory to a dream. One has to dream to even think of this team winning as they have gone more than a century, that’s right a century without winning it all. 1908 seems further and further ago when we watch today’s highlights on an iPad or lowlights on our smart phone. There wasn’t even radio the last time the Cubbies one a World Series ring.

There wasn’t even radio, that simply boggles the mind. Maybe we should fold the sport, because we don’t still do many things that we did before the advent of radio.

The Cubs or the Flubs as many cynics like to refer to them seem as the most unreasonable team to put on a marquis. However, if that happened, you know it would garner big ratings. People would stop to see this most unexpected feat—The Cubs in the World Series. It may not have the Cache of the Cubs against the Yankees or against the Red Sox, the team that Theo brought back from the throes of another curse to win their first pennant in decades.

But to see Wrigley field host anything more than a meaningless summer game, would be beautiful. And for this fan boy, to see them host the Angels of Los Angeles in Anaheim would be the thing of dreams coming true. Only a few months ago, I thought the joke of Back-to-the-Future putting these two teams together in the coming year was as ridiculous as seeing flying cars go by my house next year. Well, they have missed on something that seemed so plausible, but they seem to be within reach for the former.

What seemed like  an Oasis in the desert , a figment of my mind’s eye, might be more likely now, no certain to happen as predicted by an insightful and forward thinking trilogy.

When the Cubs landed the coup of the offseason in Joe Madden, the mad-scientist of a genius baseball leader, they found their way toward respectability. Now, with a couple of trades and free agent moves, they have a team ready to compete filled with veteran stars, Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, Starling Castor and more and loaded with young talent. A few more minor tweaks, and they could meet last year’s team that boasted the most wins.

The Angels and Cubs not only could meet in the World Series, They will meet there. It is meant to be. Just ask Marty McFly. It is without a doubt. Biff has the sports book that guarantees it.

And when my two worlds collide, and the Cubs play the Angels for baseball’s championship, we can all believe in time travel.

Tell me why it won’t happen.

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Advent Is For Hope

adventAdvent is for hope. Now, let me substitute the word anticipation for hope. See what I am doing there. It’s that feeling we get on Christmas Eve as we wonder about what is in that neatly wrapped box under the tree. I love Christmas for all the longing, yearning, and anticipation this season brings. But what happens when our anticipation dissipates into thin air. Our hopes are no longer on the back burner. No, they are not even simmering any longer.

I feel that is how it got with my two baseball teams. Anticipation fizzled. But I loved my teams and believed as an eternal optimist that baseball glory was around the corner. Growing up in Chicago and Orange County I had the luxury of two teams. Two teams with losing reputations. One team hadn’t appeared in a World Series since 1945 much less won one since 1908. The other team from Orange County had never even appeared in one until I was a college graduate. This team has now won a championship in my lifetime, the other still lives in that mythical place of maybe next year. In fact, it is so bad for the Cubs that they are saying maybe in 2016.

As for the Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of the greater Los Angeles area, I fell in love with them as a kid only to have my heart broken in 1986. If you don’t know what I am talking about, we can tell that story in another place. After that fateful year, their chances for glory were few and far between. Gene Autry’s dream of bringing a championship faded fast as he neared the end of his life and ownership of the team for 30+ years. He sold the team to Disney who at least improved the fan experience. I still think Angel Stadium is one of the best places to see a game.

Now, let’s fast forward to 2002. I am in my final year of Bible College. I loved my team. I went more than a handful of times which without a car or much money that is a pretty big feat in and of itself. Thus in my senior year, the Angels got my phone number, one way or another, this happened. Their marketing team called me to ask if I wanted season tickets. A full plan was out the window. However, I said, tell me more about these mini plans.

The bottom line was that they would end up costing me more money as I would buy two tickets (one for my friend who drove me or went with me depending on your perspective) and I would no longer get the half price deals I got game by game. I pushed back. They said, but this will get you priority when it comes to playoff games. Playoff games, I laughed. Oh yes, they made some big off season acquisitions. I laughed again. Now, mind you, as previously noted, I am an eternal optimist and believed that Darren Erstad, Troy Glos, Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon along with some young kids like David Eckstein, Adam Kennedy and Benji Molina would do some damage. However, I could not believe that a trade for Kevin Appier and free agent signing of Aaron Sele would bring home the bacon.

I don’t think their magical line about priority for the playoffs was grabbing too many other people’s attention, but it got me to laugh. The games that year like every other year were mostly played to half empty stadiums. I say half empty as a half full kind of optimist, because the less people in the stands meant the more options for me to sit closer as the game wore on. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take a great salesperson to convince someone to buy what they want. I ended up buying tickets as I wanted to insure seats against the Yankees and Dodgers. There you have it. I went all in for my team but with little to no expectations that my tickets would pay off for playoff priority. I knew my eternal sunshine of optimism was rarely rooted in reality. I looked forward to a fun year.

However, a magical, Disney-like magical year ensued. The team started slow, but turned it on later. The Rally Monkey , in his third year on the jumbo tron did his magic. Comebacks became the norm. The bullpen gelled and a powerful offense carried the Angels to baseball heaven. Oh, and because I had playoff priority, I spent my life savings on all the playoff games I could get. I sat in the bleachers and banged my thunder sticks to play a part in the Series run.

I even remember when my loss of anticipation turned to expectation. When the Angels pulled off the improbable in defeating the Yankees with some great come from behind wins, I said, they can beat anyone. And they did. My hopes waned from belief to wish but back again to palpable anticipation as the World Series ring came into grasp. Only a series against the Twins and whoever the lowly NL presented stood in the way. All those years of hoping would finally culminate with a championship. It wouldn’t go down as incredible as the Red Sox beating the curse of the Bambino or one day when the Cubs finally win one again. Nope. But it did in my books go down as amazing. Most amazing was this play that turned the fortunes of a World Series from the Giants to the Angels. And Anticipation grew tangible.

Hope diminished but was reborn in anticipation as winning became realistic. That’s my story in sports.

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Isn’t that what the hopes of God’s people must have been like? But times a million. For more than a thousand years, they looked for the Messiah. They waited generation after generation through good king and bad, through exile and more exile, through the remnant and the dispersion they waited. I am sure patient longing turned into diminished hope, especially during those silent years.

But I bet when God started speaking again and again, the anticipation built like it did for me. The exciting thing about Christmas this year for me is the reminder of hope/anticipation. God is at work, and I anticipate him doing incredible things in my life. I look forward to the promises in our life being fulfilled as the promise of Jesus was fulfilled on Christmas.

Will you hope with me?