Twist of Fate

Twist of Fate

John Lester and Anthony Rizzo overcame cancer to win a World Series
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"Everything happens for a reason"; it is a popular and often questioned phrase. People tend to use it in the midst of challenging situations. I think it is human nature to try and find a bright light when we face difficult circumstances. Telling ourselves, that there is a purpose for the obstacle may give us the comfort we need to overcome it.

The Cubs’ World Series win may be a perfect representation of a time when some unfortunate things did happen for a reason. In 2007, with Theo Epstein as their General Manager, the Boston Red Sox drafted Anthony Rizzo. During 2008 he was playing single A ball in Greenville, SC when he and his family realized something wasn’t right. Although he was playing well, his legs had swollen to the point where he struggled to put his cleats on every day. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Shortly after his diagnosis, Rizzo came to Boston. He met with Epstein as well as the team’s manager, Terry Francona. On this visit, he also met his future teammate, John Lester. Lester knew how it felt to be a young athlete battling cancer. Two years earlier, when Lester was just 22, he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. After fighting hard, he came back the next year and started the World Series-clinching game against Colorado.

Lester gave Rizzo a tour of the clubhouse, training room, and then they took some time to talk. Of course, like any father, Mr. Rizzo was full of questions. However, Lester advised the Rizzos to slow down; he gave Anthony advice such as not to let cancer control his life. When he felt up to it, he should do the things he loves. Lester told Rizzo to treat cancer like a competition; when talking about it, Lester says “It was like me going against a team.” Anthony Rizzo praises John Lester, "It was everything I needed to hear…He beat his cancer; I knew I could too."

Later that year Rizzo’s cancer went into remission. When asked about it today, Lester says “it was like gratification…like maybe I had something to do with it. There was a sense of relief too, because Anthony was going to get back to playing." I am not sure if either of them could have predicted the path Anthony’s baseball career would take him once he was back to playing, nor do I think they could have foreseen this magical season.

Maybe Lester and Rizzo had to cross paths under these difficult circumstances in 2008. Maybe it set the stage for greater things. Rizzo and Lester saw each other the following year at the 2009 spring training, but in 2010 Rizzo was traded to San Francisco. However, Epstein promised their paths would cross again too. When Rizzo made it to the majors in 2012, he was traded to Chicago. Interestingly, Theo Epstein, the new general manager for Chicago, finalized the trade. Epstein was telling the truth; their story wasn't over yet.

Two years later Anthony Rizzo made the 2014 All-star game and saw John Lester for the first time in five years. Lester had developed into the Red Sox Ace, and Rizzo knew that he would be a free agent at the end of the year. Rizzo wasn’t sure if Lester would remember him, but of course, he did. They talked for a few minutes, and Rizzo did his best to convince Lester to come to Chicago. When asked about it now, Lester says “Anthony's a big part of why I came over here...What we shared added the intrigue to it, knowing he wasn't just talking to me like, 'Hey, we would really like to have you as a pitcher.' It was other things-deeper things."

Both Lester and Rizzo played key roles in Chicago's World Series win. Would they have both ended up in Chicago if it weren’t for their medical obstacles? Could the Cubs have done it without them? We will never know the answer to those questions. People may argue this multifaceted story is just a big coincidence. However, I think greater forces were at work. People move in and out of our lives, some with a momentary encounter; others play a more significant role for a longer period. Each time we interact with those around us, we have the opportunity to learn deeper lessons and make a choice that each life experience happens for a reason.

Cover Image Credit: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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The Ultimate Guide To ​Baseball Slang

Seventy-one words and phrases commonly used by baseball players, explained.

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I've spent most of my life playing or being around baseball. With college and high school teams already playing a month and a half and MLB having started their season a few days ago there is a language most people don't understand but will commonly hear during games. You'll hear these from coaches, players, and commentators but most will be used by high school through minor league players.

Ace — the best pitcher on a team who gets extra special treatment from coaches in the lower levels of play.

Alley — the best place to hit a ball in the outfield where it drops between the outfielders. Best hits are line drives that hit and roll through the alley to the wall, commonly resulting in a double or triple and in rare occasions an inside-the-park home run.

Around the Horn — a double play that starts at third going around the infield to second then to first. Can sometimes be a triple play where the third baseman steps on third before throwing to second.

Backdoor Slider — a pitch that starts out or appears out of the strike zone that breaks into the strike zone. Typically thrown as the third strike to get a player to hack at it to strike out swinging or to get caught looking.

Bad Hop — when you go to field a ball and it hits the ground and curves away from you or bounces over you.

Baltimore Chop — a ball hit that goes almost straight down hit hard enough and at a decent angle to hit home plate or in front of home plate but bounces into the outfield over the infielders.

Bang Bang — a play where the runner hits the bag right before the ball or where the ball reaches the fielder's glove right before the player reaches base.

Basket Catch — when a fielder, typically an outfielder, catches a ball in an upturn position around the belt. Usually when a fielder has his back to the ball and is running towards the wall.

Bat Flip — a cocky move when you hit a dinger and toss your bat in different fashions to assert dominance towards the pitcher. Best when the opposing team is in the first base dugout.

Bean or Beaner — a pitch, most commonly a fastball that hits a batter in the head.

Bench Clearer or Bench Clearing Brawl — when there's a fight and the benches and bullpen run out to help. Typically just to assert dominance towards the other team and rarely are they ever good fights.

Big Dick Energy — having the confidence to know you're gonna take a pitcher 450 dead center but staying cool and not having the cockiness to talk trash beforehand. Not the kind to do a bat flip or talk trash but to still have his presence known.

Blue — refers to the umps or umpires and usually a derogatory term often combined with a phrase calling them blind.

BP — no not the oil. BP is batting practice where players, especially in Bush League or lower, have dinger derbies.

Brusher or Brushback — an inside pitch that doesn't hit a batter but makes them jump back or drop to the ground. Typically an intimidation move by the pitcher to assert dominance or to back the batter off the plate.

Bush — to make an amateur play or to act amateurish and not like you're a pro.

Bush League — lower levels of the minors such as Single A, Single A Short, and sometimes Double A.

Camping — when a ball is hit as a popup and the player is just waiting for the ball to come back to Earth, typically followed by a can of corn catch.

Can of Corn — typically said as "Canna Corn" is a catch a baby could make with or without a glove. Most commonly is a popup that is hit where the fielder is already standing and just camps under it.

Caught Looking — when a third strike is thrown and the batter stands there watching it.

Caught Napping — when a baserunner is thrown out either by not paying attention or reacts too late.

Cellar — when you're in dead last for your division. Honestly at that point why show up to games.

Cheddar — refers to either a pitcher throwing good pitches to have a dinger derby or when the coach is throwing perfect pitches at BP to hit cage bombs or yet again have a dinger derby.

Cheese — a sexy fastball to a batter where he can go 450 Dead Center on a pitcher. Sometimes refers to a good fastball that flies right past the batter for a strike.

Chinner or Chin Music — a very high and inside pitch that buzzes close to the batters chin.

Circus or Circus Catch — a web gem catch either on a sacrifice your body type of catch or acrobatic jumping catch followed by a summersault. Pretty much outfielders attempting to show off because they just sit out in the outfield bored most of the game.

Cycle — the greatest feat you can do as a batter where you hit a single, double, triple, and dinger all in the same game.

Daddy Hack — a swing that takes all your power and throws you on your ass. The batter swings envisioning a dinger but usually does a daddy hack on a third strike breaking ball.

Dinger — a homer that is destined for the moon maybe even another solar system that you just sit and salute as it flies and then assert your dominance on the pitcher with your cockiest bat flip and jog around the bases as you talk trash the whole time.

Dinger Derby — refers to BP where players are hitting nothing but dingers or to a game where the pitcher is throwing cheddar and batters are hitting nothing but dingers.

Dirty — one of the ways you can say something's nice. Honestly, baseball players can use so many words to equal that's nice.

Filthy — used to refer to anything that looks good such as a hit, a haircut, an accessory, etc. Just another way to say something's nice while using a word that typically means unclean.

Fireman — a closer who can typically throw a scary fast heater and leave you scratching your head in the breeze off of it.

Five Tool Player — a guy who can do everything and do it perfectly such as fielding, hitting, hitting power, throwing, and running.

Frozen Rope — a well-hit line drive. If playing third it was nice knowing you when one comes to the hot corner.

Fungo — a type of bat used by coaches during fielding practice that makes the balls go semi-crazy when hit but provides fielders a chance to do a web gem.

Gap — essentially the same as an alley. The best place in the outfield to hit a ball.

Get Bucket — at the end of BP or during BP someone has to pick up all the balls and put them in a bucket. Sucks to suck if your a freshman or a rookie.

Golden Sombrero — when a batter strikes out four times in a game. You never want to be the player wearing the golden sombrero.

Good Game — if you don't know then you aren't one of the trusted ones with this butt slap and grab ceremony and no it's no homo.

Go Yard — to hit a dinger 450 dead center while making your cockiness and dominance known.

Heat — when a pitcher, typically a fireman, is throwing primarily heaters to assert his dominance as you stand and watch or duck away till you strike out and go cry in the dugout.

Heater — a four-seam fastball in the upper 90s going up to 105 or 106. Pitches if you're able to hit will go for dingers as your bat explodes to show your dominance, if not definitely a good pitch for the pitcher to show his.

Hot Corner — refers to Third Base where especially right-handed will pull a ball hard towards third down the line. If playing third and a line drive comes your way you better catch it.

In the Hole — not the batter in the on-deck circle but the batter after him.

Jacked — a player that's probably on roids because he's so big or got big fast.

Jam — when a pitcher gets into a situation usually with players on base, one or no outs, and is behind in the count with a batter.

Jammed or Jammer — when you hit the ball with the handle of the bat rather than the barrel, typically on a high and inside pitch that sends a shock starting at your hands going through the rest of your body. Can also refer to a tight swing on a high and inside pitch where you can barely swing but still get a hit.

Meatball — a juicy fastball that hangs right down the middle and is an easy hit typically for a dinger.

Mendoza Line — a line around the .200 batting average in which you never want to drop under or else you legally suck. Named after Mario Mendoza who was one of the leagues worst hitters.

Moon Shot or Moon Blast — a dinger that is hit very high like it's a rocket on its way to the moon.

Ofer or O for — someone who didn't get a hit in a game but grounded or flied out so he can't wear the golden sombrero.

Pegged — to get hit hard by a pitch that will definitely leave a bruise.

Pepper — a fielding game where players catch a hit ball and throw it to the hitter so he can hit their throw. Only for the brave.

Phiten — necklace and bracelet company that players swear gives them superpowers. But for the most part, it's just another form of swag.

Pickle — when trapped between two bases in a rundown. If you have moves you might be good if not just stand there and take it like a man.

Pimped It — to destroy a ball on a good hit typically for a liner or a dinger.

Roids — Steroids or also called juice is commonly used in baseball to get that extra power or edge.

Rhubarb — a fight. Typically doesn't last long but sometimes a good punch is thrown. Best is when there's a bench-clearing brawl.

Seeing Eye Single — a ball hit between infielders typically picked up by an outfielder but gives enough time for a runner to reach first.

Shagger — someone who goes to pick up foul balls or dingers hit in BP so there's still balls to hit. Again sucks to suck if your a freshman or rookie.

Shoestring — a catch made around the shins to the foot before the ball hits the ground.

Stroking — to hit good, whether in a game or at BP. More than likely BP where you get too cocky.

Table Setter — a leadoff or number two guy that is generally a faster player who is just to get a runner on base so a power hitter can drive them in.

Tape — whether it's athletic or batting tape, either is the duct tape for players respecting it like the God it is.

Tape Measure — a dinger that isn't always a high hit homer like a moon blast but is hit out of the park and far enough to say let's get out the tape measure.

Tommy Johns — a surgery to add a tendon from the knee to one's elbow to make the UCL stronger for throwing.

Ugly Finder — a foul ball typically hit during BP that goes straight for a player who usually is not prepared. Can refer to a foul ball that goes straight into the dugout during a game. Either way, if it hits your face, even if you were pretty before, you aren't now.

Wheelhouse — a pitch to the batters hot zone typically waist high and dead center of the plate that typically results in a good liner or dinger.

Yakker — a very good curveball that leaves them daddy hacking or caught just looking. Best Yakkers are curves thrown by a lefty.

Yoked — being a huge probably on roids player who is straight jacked.

Those are some of my favorites but in the game of baseball, the terms change all the time. There are terms from the old days that remain but some might be forgotten for some new term that has more swag to it because baseball is all about the swag.

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