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Opening Day Intensity

The Cincinnati Reds just celebrated their 134th opening day game. A city-wide celebration preempted the event with the build up and anticipation leading to the first pitch by right-hander Johnny Cueto. It was a close game in which the Reds pulled ahead with a Todd Frazier 3-run homer to put the Reds ahead 5-2 and that would be the final score after Aroldis Chapman came in to blow down the Pirates in the top of the ninth, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced.

I had the privilege of attending Opening Day two years ago when the Reds played the Angels. Nearly every moment in the ballpark was filled with 100+db levels as the crowd got worked up about the slightest offensive rally.

Yes, nothing beats the hype and buzz of opening day.
It's a new year. There are no complaints by fans on the Banana phone. There are no injuries to players. No missed opportunities. Just lots of hope and prospect for the coming year, as if the outcome of this game would determine the fate of the rest of the year.

The players are excited. The fans are excited. Even my 2 year old son is excited.

And tomorrow the Reds will play an Opening Night game, which we might win...or we might lose. I suspect that if we lose, manager Brian Price will likely make a statement to his team in the locker room that night, "Don't worry, we'll get 'em tomorrow night. It's only one game. Shake it off and let's play ball tomorrow. You win some, you lose some," (or something like that).

And Brian would be right....to an extent.

You see, a win is a win at the end of the day. And if the Reds are in the playoff hunt come September, every win is a really big deal. Except that every win out of all 162 are a big deal. Whether it be the beginning of the season, somewhere towards the middle, or the last few games when you're neck-and-neck with another ball club, every win is vital in order to make the playoffs and ultimately the World Series.

If you want to make it to the playoffs, you have to play every game like it's the big game. 

The World Baseball Classic is played every 4 years in March. I remember Brandon Phillips reporting about how the players on the DR team celebrated like crazy after every runner crossed the plate. He said it was inspiring but that "we just couldn't keep up that level of intensity for 162 games in a row." And while he's right.....he's wrong.

If you lose sight of the end goal midway through the season (because you don't have enough energy or you don't have the drive anymore) then you will win some, and lose some. Chances are pretty good you'll play .500 ball, and maybe, just maybe, that will be good enough for you to be able to string together something at the end of the season. But more accurately, if you're playing .500 baseball, you are in 3rd place and your E# is plummeting pretty quickly come September.

As I am training for the Flying Pig Marathon, I have a strict workout regimen that I am (supposed to be) following. It has me running 6 days a week with 4 intense workouts each week (I have dropped the 2 relaxed runs in order to gain more time to rest in between workouts).

I hate it.

I do not look forward to running 8 repetitions of half-mile sprints before I leave for work (which takes about 45 minutes). I do not look forward to running 20 miles this coming Saturday in the rain or shine (about 3 hours). While it is rewarding to conquer these goals, it is not fun getting myself out the door. And so I keep reminding myself of the end-goal. I want to qualify for Boston (3:05:00 marathon time) which means that I must keep training and training hard in order to achieve that time. So every day that I don't feel like running, I remind myself of the end-goal and I push through the pain of the workout in order to step closer to my goal.

Did you know that God designed you with a plan in mind?

You were created to achieve some kind of end-goal in God's book and He has carefully been orchestrating your life to bring about that purpose. It can be so easy to wake up and get lost in the inertia of daily routine that you lose sight of the purpose you were created for. It can be easy to slip into depression because you don't know why you bother going to work, coming home, and spending time reading people's blogs (wait a minute....). And so every day you have to wake up and remind yourself that you were put here for a purpose. Every day is a chance to draw a little closer to that end-goal. Sometimes God waits to reveal our purpose to us, sometimes He doesn't make it very clear, sometimes He is still busy preparing us before He reveals that purpose--at any rate, we are still created for a purpose and we need to live each day pushing forward towards that goal.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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