2013 Elite Series Ramada Quest Bull Shoals Lake - Bull Shoals, AR, Apr 19 - 22, 2013

An open letter to Brandon Palaniuk, Part 2

I just sat there looking at him; he had no idea who I was, probably no idea of why I was even here

“…please…”

Never looked at the podium, just him.

“…and the winner is…”

Never took my eyes off…

“…ESPN…”

Was all I heard. Other stuff was said, I don’t know what. All I did was smile at him when he looked our way.

No trash.

Just a smile, not because we beat him and his team, I smiled because of the team I sat with, the much smaller team with the bigger bruises.

I have the Emmys, but it is the bruises, that I cherish.

I don’t remember what I wrote in Black and White, I do remember, though, the Black and Blue.

“…you may be knocked down…”

When you take to the stage this week in Bull Shoals, you will do so as the reigning champion.

The last time the two of us talked standing there, I told you to be

Joyous.

Thankful.

Humble.

Be joyous that you are making a living doing something that love,

while most on this planet, will not.

Be thankful that you were born in a place that allows you to chase dreams,

instead of being told what your dream will be.

Be humble, for you are not here alone, you are here

because of all of those who have sat at your round table.

Brandon, when you put your head on my shoulders, and cried,

I cried too.

I cried not because you didn’t win.

I cried because you were so hurt.

I cried because at that moment in time, I knew you have what it takes to have a banner hang with your name.

Dude, there will be sweetness in your future.

You texted me that you wanted to be “the most dangerous man in fishing.”

Be, instead, the most gracious.

Be, instead, the kindest.

Be, instead, the one who smiles, and doesn’t shout.

Sweetness, it comes to those who will honor it.

Pay Sweetness forward.

Look out from the Bull Shoals stage at all those in the crowd, and realize this,

you are there because of them.

Every champion owes sweetness to those who clap.

Every champion owes sweetness to the past.

Every champion,

owes sweetness,

most of all,

to the bruises.

You’ve got the bruise, now get back in the game.

Reigning champ, now in 93rd place, expect to hear, “what’s wrong.”

Know now, the answer to that is simply, nothing.

This, my young friend, IS HOW IT SHOULD BE.

This, my young friend, is how the game wants it to be.

The game wants you to take it.  It will not be given.

It was not given to him. He was bruised, led the league in K’s 5 times, the whiff king, struck out 1,330 times, whiff king…Major League Bruising.

In the end, the game won, with his presence.

In the end, he won, and no one speaks of the bruising when they speak of,

The Babe.

Young man, bruising hurts, winning hurts, as it should, as it needs to. If not, it is just playing…and not game.

93rd place will not be forever.

Because I believe you, you have champion stuff.

1,330 whiffs looked to be forever, unbreakable. 1,330 whiffs lasted for 30 years, three decades in the record books.

Until another challenged the game, and the game challenged back,

bruising,

K’s,

you want this game, come take it,

and he did, he broke Babe Ruth’s whiff record,

and only he knows of the bruising,

and yet, he also rose above the bruising to become a champion.

And, young Brandon, the man who first broke Babe Ruth’s Strike Out record,

you can find out all he’s done by looking in the MLB record books,

all his championships,

all the iron he has on his mantle,

simply by looking up his name.

And his name is

Mickey Mantle.

“…but not out forever.”

“Get Back Up”

Tobymac

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