Winning or Losing, Heaven or Hell



Earlier this week, an Astros fan was forcibly ejected from Minute Maid Park after another frustrating 9th inning rally loss to the Texas Rangers.  – Question: Shouldn’t the Houston club be preparing for the inverse need – strong arm staff to force fans into MMP, the land of disappointment? Who knows? Maybe that is exactly what this bizarre ouster was all about, anyway – getting ready for the need that now seems just around the corner.

We’re not sure what this male Astros fan actually did. We were told that he sort of lost it as the Rangers and their odoriferous second baseman were converting a personal strikeout appearance at the plate into a tying-score base-running  opportunity as a safe-at-first spot due to a missed catch on strike three. The burly Astros fan started loudly yelling “F*** the RANGERS” behind the visitors’ dugout for all to hear. We are not really sure what he actually shouted because they blurred all but the first letter of the word he used in the print media. Maybe he was truly a Rangers fan, shouting something like “Follow the Rangers” or a digital savvy “Friend the Rangers” in the presence of an offended home-based Astros fan audience?

At any rate, the “Astros” fan had been on my mind all day as we approached the time for the ESPN-hosted telecast of the big football game last night between the University of Cincinnati Bearkats and our life-time treasured University of Houston Cougars, the undefeated #6 team in the land. The Cougars and Astros are my two big heartthrobs in football and baseball. Even now, at nearly age 79, I almost live and die inside with the outcomes of their seasons. I’m not actually dying from either. If their sporting outcomes did control the clock on my lifespan, I would have been dead long ago. It just feels like life or death, heaven or hell, as either team approaches a big game. And yesterday, far more than the rolling thoughts about the Astros disappearing playoff chances, my sensitivity to UH’s current unexpected 2016 season situation had been lathering my anxiety all day.

Could UH hold onto their #6 spot in the AP poll against a dangerous UC team? Could UH really parlay an undefeated season that had begun with a win over the Oklahoma Sooners into a long shot later vote into the NCAA playoff field of four teams that will qualify as competitors for the national championship? Of course, UH could get there, but not if they lost to UC. – Lose to UC and any wild hopes for any chance against the Alabama-level clubs of the college football world would be long gone from the 2016 possibility.

UH has been in my blood since they started playing football in the 1940s. I grew up within two miles of the UH campus. Quite easily, UH was tattooed into my heart long before I even took my undergraduate degree in the Cullen Auditorium at “The Zeke” on August 26, 1960. UH always was, and always will be, my Camelot.

Intellectually, between my education and my natural intuition, I have learned over the years what this is all about, but, emotionally, I have neither the desire nor the intention for changing the transformation that took place years ago when my human ego welded itself to all that UH represents to me about life, love, achieving, the pursuit of justice and equity,  and service to the community and world. It may not be everyone’s alma mater, but it definitely is my one and only mountain cougar mama in all things. For me, as your own university most certainly may be for you, UH is my spiritual version of “The Maltese Falcon.” It is – for me – “the stuff that dreams are made of.” And any really good dream carries with it the promise that it may someday come true.

Unfortunately, when winning or losing begins to take on the gravitas of the former becoming a synonym for “heaven” – and the latter picking up the polar of winning as “hell”, it makes – again, for me – watching UH play a game sometimes too painful to enjoy. Yesterday was a good example of that factor. By the late minutes of the 3td Quarter, and UH clinging to a measly 12-10 lead over UC, I decided to call up God (as I understand Him/Her to be) and ask for a review of my situation with late UH game anxiety. After a brief period, I got this answer – as this brief ongoing dialogue clearly shows:

GOD: “Upon further review, the play in your field of endeavor stands. Your commitment to love and loyalty for UH is a driving force in all you do. Without it, you wouldn’t even be watching this Thursday night game. You would ne doing what millions of others already have done. You would have used your remote control to either watch something mindless – or else – you may even have turned off the TV and found something else that called to your passions like a siren in the dark.”

TPPE: “Thanks, God, but why do I make UH football such a winning-losing/heaven-hell thing? I no longer harbor the anthropomorphic view of heaven that I was taught to believe in as a child. I simply now think that the energy that my soul has brought to life through my physical body is going to go from here to wherever You send it, once my little ride among the billions of others who have also done this trip is also completed. As for hell, I no longer believe of hell as a place. I see hell as a condition of life that we place upon ourselves for failing to learn the lessons of wisdom you place in our path. If we don’t learn from painful experience, we get to see the same kind of pain again. And, I believe, if we don’t get the lessons in a single lifetime, that you may be sending us back for additional seasoning in new lives until we get what you want us to learn through additional incarnations on earth in some form. – So what I’m asking is – is being a Cougar fan – or any kind of deep trench sports fan – one of the lessons I’m supposed to get from the way this game feels as we watch it, going into the 4th quarter?”

GOD: “I will say only two things here. The rest is up to you: (1) Pain always points to some lesson, large or small. Get the wisdom of the lesson – and that pain leaves – unless it’s one of those thumb and hammer things that is capable of great redundancy. Refuse to see the lesson – and you get to see the pain again; and (2) It is better to feel something from your everyday experience than to feel nothing at all. – Feeling is the ignition to passion – and the absence of passion for creativity or larger-than-yourself accomplishment is a most serious deficiency in the human experience.”

(It is now the opening seconds of the 4th quarter. Cincinnati has scored and now leads UH by 16-12.)


GOD: “Calm yourself, my son. Everything’s going to be all right.”


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



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4 Responses to “Winning or Losing, Heaven or Hell”

  1. Rick B. Says:

    And as Cincinnati’s quarterback kept throwing the ball into the hands of Houston’s defenders, somewhere a Bearkats fan was yelling, “F*** the Cougars!” But why should UH alumni/fans care about that any more than the Rangers likely cared about one Astros fan’s ire?

  2. mike mulvihill Says:

    Hi Bill,
    You really think that fan behind Rangers bench would actually get ejected for saying “Follow the Rangers.” Anyway, great game for Coogs, especially from a hurt QB.

  3. Tom Hunter Says:

    Somewhere in my youth it was impressed upon me that it was inappropriate to summon divine intervention on behalf of my sports teams, so I’m reduced to hoping real hard.

    And reading the opening book of Dante’s Comedy reminded me that being a Houston sports fan is akin to entering the Gate of Hell, above which bears the inscription, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

    And yet . . .

  4. Anthnony Cavender Says:

    Anent Dante’s lucubrations, Coleridge, an early scout, must have had some of the early Astro shortstops in mind when he noted that the Ancient Mariner “stoppeth one of three”. Great weekend everyone.

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