USA Begins Preparation for Qualifying

Tomorrow, the US Men’s National Team faces Italy on their home turf in a friendly match. This match is a huge opportunity to expose our team to a very difficult environment in preparation for World Cup Qualifying. Since Jurgen Klinsmann has become the coach, he has emphasized getting our team to a higher fitness level and playing with more effort for the entire game. Expect to see some newer names versus Italy due to some last minute injuries and giving some fresh blood a chance on the pitch. Here’s the roster for tomorrow game which begins at 1:30 p.m. Central on ESPN2:

GK: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEF: Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MID: Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FOR: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

Upcoming Match Schedule:

Feb. 29, vs. Italy, 1:30 p.m. CT, Stadio Luigi Ferrais in Genoa, Italy (ESPN2 & Galavision)
May 26, vs. Scotland, 7 p.m. CT, EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida (NBC Sports)
May 30, vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. CT, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland (ESPN2 & Univision)
June 3, vs. Canada, 6 p.m. CT, BMO Field in Toronto, Canada (NBC Sports)
June 8, WCQ vs. Antigua & Barbuda, 6 p.m. CT, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida (ESPN)
June 12, WCQ at Guatemala, TBA
Sep. 7, WCQ at Jamaica, TBA
Sep. 11, WCQ vs. Jamaica, TBA
Oct. 12, WCQ at Antigua & Barbuda, TBA
Oct. 15, WCQ  vs. Guatemala, TBA

Also, tomorrow evening, the U-23 Men’s team will face the Mexican U-23 team in a friendly in Dallas, Texas as they prepare for Olympic Qualifying. My son and I already have tickets to the first qualifier, which will be played in Nashville, TN versus Cuba. So, we’re really excited to see how these young guys play. Tomorrow night’s game will be on Telefutura at 9:00 p.m. Central. Hopefully they do well and will qualify this spring for the 2012 Olympics in London. Here’s their roster for tomorrow’s match. It is important to note that a few of the names of the full national team roster will probably be on the Olympic team as well (Brek Shea & Terrence Boyd).

Below is the U-23 Roster for Tomorrow night’s match:

GK: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEF: Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA)
MID: Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Gent), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)
FOR: Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Tony Taylor (Estoril Praia)

Upcoming Schedule for U-23s

Feb. 29, vs. Mexico, 9 p.m. CT, FC Dallas Stadium in Dallas, TX (Univision)
Mar. 22, Olympic Qualifier vs. Cuba, 8 p.m. CT, LP Field in Nashville, TN (Universal & Telemundo)
Mar. 24, Olympic Qualifier vs. Canada, 6 p.m. CT, LP Field  (Universal & Telemundo)
Mar. 26, Olympic Qualifier vs. El Salvador, 8 p.m. CT, LP Field (Universal & Telemundo)
Mar. 31, Semifinal Round of Olympic Qualifying, Kansas City, MO
April 2, North American Olympic Championship Game, 7 p.m. CT, Kansas City, MO
July 25-August 11, 2012 Summer Olympics, London

RESPECT

Solid Pitching to Start the Season

Freshman, Will Cox from Amory, pitched 7 innings today allowing no runs, striking out 8, no walks, and only giving up 3 hits. Pretty good debut I'd say!

The Diamond Dawgs have started the season well (6-1), as I think we all expected. Pitching has been the strength in the first two weeks. And we knew pitching would have to be big this year after losing some big bats from last season. Though I think we’re gonna have some great hitters as well. Pitchers to keep an eye on this season are: Chris Stratton, Ben Bracewell, Will Cox, Evan Mitchell, & Caleb Reed. Here are some notable stats for the pitching staff in the first 7 games:

1.88 ERA (14 earned runs in 7 games)
.200 batting average for opponents (47 hits in 235 at bats)
71 Strikeouts in 67 innings pitched 
NO Homeruns or triples allowed (only 6 doubles allowed)

Trey Porter leads the team w/ a .409 batting average and the only 2 HRs for the team.

Hitting hasn’t been bad either. The power numbers aren’t that big, but the team has a .303 batting average. Trey Porter, Wes Rea, Adam Frazier, Daryl Norris, Hunter Renfroe, and C.T. Bradford are all currently batting over .300. The biggest concern probably should be that we left too many runners on base. In the one game we lost to Washington State last weekend we left 13 runners on base. But this weekend the hitting came at the right time, especially in the 2 wins versus Kansas. We won those 2 games late in close pitching duels and got the job done.

It looks like the baseball team has started off on the right track. Can’t wait to make a trip to the Dude for a game. Check out John Cohen’s thoughts after winning both games on Saturday:

 
 

Basketball Silence Removed

 

I’m not gonna sit here and bash our team or coaches. However, I must say one thing on my mind. If the team played every game the way they did last night consistently, the rest of the country would not want to play us, regardless if it’s in the regular season or in the tourney. Calipari’s words in the post game press conference said it all: “Mississippi State is a terrific team. Their last four games, surely they should’ve won all four. I watched them: LSU, Auburn, Georgia, and now this game. They’ve just got to get on track, win a couple of games, and they’ll be fine.”

All I want: A team that plays with heart and determination. There’s a lot of negative things I have thought about our coach, players, and fans, but I’ll refrain. In the words of Depeche Mode: “Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm…Enjoy the Silence.” What say you? If you need to vent, now is the time. I’ll chime in on your comments.

Happy Presidents’ Day!!!

In honor of President’s Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sayings of George Washington.

“A good moral character is the first essential in a man.”

“…Your love of liberty, your respect for the laws, your habits of industry, and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.”–To the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, October 27, 1789.

“It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.”

“…it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor.”–Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789.

“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.”–to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”–General Orders, May 2, 1778.

“The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”–General Order, July 9, 1776.

“I now make it my earnest prayer that God would…most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion.”–The Last Official Address of His Excellency George Washington to the Legislature of the United States, 1783.

Opening Day: Baseball

Hasn’t been much worth talking about w/ the basketball team unless you like being negative. So, I’ve chosen to support our basketball team w/ silence. Hopefully they can recover from some tough losses.

Now we can talk about baseball. Today MSU opens the season w/ a 3 game home stand vs. the Washington State Cougars. Among renovations and enhancements at Dudy Noble Field in the off-season is the installation of the stadium’s sound system. The 26-year old 2,400-watt system has been replaced by a state-of-the-art 36,000-watt system delivering even sound throughout the stadium through 78 speakers and utilizing more than four miles of wiring. Possible starting field positions for tonight’s game:

Hunter Renfroe, C
Wes Rea, 1B
Sam Frost, 2B
Adam Frazier, SS
Daryl Norris, 3B
Tyler Fullerton, RF
C.T. Bradford, CF
Brett Brownlee, LF

Possible rotation for this weekend could be:

Friday… Ben Bracewell followed by Chris Stratton… then reliever
Saturday… Nick Routt followed by Evan Mitchell… then reliever
Sunday… Kendall Graveman followed by a variety of fresh arms.

Also, the softball team under new coach, Vann Stuedeman, has started the season 5-0 (best start ever for MSU softball) and will have its first home games this weekend in a Round Robin w/ Southern Illinois and Mississippi Valley State.

Richard Allen: Black History Month

Richard Allen was born as a slave in Philadelphia in 1760. While still a youngster, he was sold to Benjamin Chew, a farmer in Delaware. Allen was converted to Christianity by the preaching of the Methodists. Chew was so impressed with Richard’s Godly lifestyle that he permitted the young Allen to conduct services in the Chew home. In fact, Chew himself was converted during one of these services, after which he made it possible for Allen to receive his freedom.Allen traveled throughout eastern Pennsylvania and neighboring states, using every opportunity to preach the Gospel to both Whites and Blacks. At the meeting of the first general conference of the Methodist Church in Baltimore in 1784, Allen was accepted as a minister.

Allen began to preach regularly at the St. George Methodist Church in Philadelphia. He suggested that Blacks should have a separate place of worship apart from Whites; and although his suggestion was at first resisted, his forceful preaching attracted such a vast number of Blacks to the church that when objections were raised, Allen’s idea of a separate congregation was finally accepted.

In 1787, Allen led in the establishment of an organization known as the “Free African Society,” composed of both Black Methodists and Black Episcopalians. Black churches in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland began to separate from traditional denominations to join this loose-knit society. In 1816, these independent churches merged to become the “Africa Methodist Episcopal Church” (the A. M. E. Church); Allen was chosen as its First bishop.

Allen ministered not only to the spiritual needs of his fellow man, but to his temporal needs as well. For example, when the yellow-fever epidemic ravaged Philadelphia in 1793 (killing over four thousand of the forty-thousand inhabitants), nearly all medical doctors fled the city to save their own lives. One of the few who remained was Dr. Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration). Richard Allen worked shoulder to shoulder as a medic with Dr. Rush throughout the danger to aid countless victims in whatever way he could.

In 1794, the year following the epidemic, Allen wrote a compelling work documenting his service during that tragedy: A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia. Allen’s humanitarian service ranks with the most heroic deeds of America’s history.

Allen urged others to humanitarian service whenever possible and in whatever cause. On one occasion, he charged his audience:

Consider, my brethren, that all we have and are is entrusted to us by Almighty God. . . . and to Him we must give an account at the great day of reckoning. . . . Our blessed Lord has not committed His goods to us as a dead stock, to be hoarded up, or to lie unprofitably in our own hands. He expects that we shall put them out to proper and beneficial uses, and raise them to an advanced value by doing good with them as often as we have opportunity.

Allen’s faith shone through in all of his accomplishments, and he openly proclaimed his gratefulness to God:

I believe it is my greatest honor and happiness to be Thy disciple; how miserable and blind are those that live without God in the world, who despise the light of Thy holy faith. Make me to part with all the enjoyments of life; nay, even life itself, rather than forfeit this jewel of great price.

When Allen died in 1831, it was said that the crowd which gathered to honor him “exceeded anything of the kind ever before witnessed in the country.” Richard Allen was described as “a man of deep piety, the strictest integrity, and indomitable perseverance; and his moral influence was unbounded.”

Phillis Wheatley: Black History Month

Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegal, Africa, in 1753. She was kidnapped at the age of eight and sent on a slave ship to Boston. Purchased by a prosperous Boston tailor, John Wheatley, she was trained as a personal servant for John’s wife, Susannah.Phillis was quick and perceptive, and Susannah and her daughter Mary were drawn in a special manner to Phillis. Susannah considered Phillis a daughter, and Mary treated her like a sister. Both tutored her in the Scriptures and in morals, and within sixteen months Phillis had so mastered English that she was able to read the most difficult parts of the Bible with ease. Mary then taught Phillis astronomy, geography, ancient history, the Latin classics, and the English poets, all of which Phillis conquered with equal ease. Because of her aptitude for difficult knowledge and her ability as a brilliant conversationalist, Phillis was considered by the Bostonian intellectuals to be a child prodigy.

When she was only thirteen years old, Phillis wrote her first poetic verses; and then three years later, being an admirer of the celebrated Rev. George Whitefield, she authored a special poem about his life. This early interest in poetry continued for the rest of her life, and today Phillis is known as America’s first Black female poet.

In 1771, Phillis became a member of the famous Old South Church. It was later said that “her membership in Old South was an exception to the rule that slaves were not baptized into the church.”

In 1773, her health began to fail. A sea-voyage was recommended, and Mrs. Wheatley promptly saw to it that Phillis was manumitted (freed). Phillis traveled to England, where she was received by British royalty. While abroad, she published her first collection of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

In 1775, while still abroad, and while the siege of Boston was underway in America, Phillis wrote a letter to the new Commander-in-Chief, General Washington, containing a special poem she had written for him:

His Excellency George Washington . . . Thee, first in place and honors, – we demand The grace and glory of thy martial band Fam’d for thy valor, for thy virtues more, Here every tongue thy guardian aid implore! . . . Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, Thy every action let the goddess guide. A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, Washington, be thine. . . .

Washington was touched by the poem; and when Phillis returned to America, Washington invited her to his military camp at Cambridge to honor her before his staff.

Phillis had returned to America when she had learned of the declining health of Mrs. Wheatley, who died shortly after her return. Phillis remained close to the family. She continued her writings and purposed to bring out a second volume of poems to be dedicated to Benjamin Franklin. Misfortune, however, intervened.

In 1778, Phillis married John Peters, a free Black. Although he appeared promising (he was a writer and had studied for the law), his character was deeply flawed: he was slothful, did not provide for his new wife, and failed to give her the care that her delicate health required. He also demanded that she isolate herself from her former friends and even required that she cut off all contact with the Wheatleys. Peters finally deserted Phillis.

Under these circumstances, and only five years after her marriage, Phillis died in obscurity at the age of 30, alone and in poverty, buried in an unmarked grave. Of her three children, two died in infancy, and the third was buried alongside her.

Despite the hardships in her life, Phillis never complained. In fact, she found a silver lining – or rather a Divine one – even in her tragic life of slavery. In her poem, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” she wrote:

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Savior too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our fable race with scornful eye, “Their color is a diabolic dye.” Remember, Christians, Negroes black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

Phillis’ poetry was popular for generations after her death, and she was considered a heroine by those who fought to end slavery. She remains a shining example of a devout Christian, an accomplished poet, and a gracious and kind woman.