Overcoming Panic - One of the amazing stories of the year, and one that probably will be overlooked as the year winds down, was Charlie Beljan winning the Children's Miracle Network Classic recently.
Beljan came into the golf tournament ranked 139th on the money list and he was in position to sneak into the top 125 which would earn him an exemption for the entire 2013 season. After the second round, Beljan was looking pretty good as he was leading the tournament, but he wasn't feeling pretty good.
At the completion of the second round, Beljan was taken by an ambulance to a hospital where he spent the night. That was because during his second round, Beljan often got down on one knee to keep from collapsing and he told his caddy he felt like he was going to die.
It sounded like Beljan had some serious physical health problems. Instead, it was learned he had suffered an extreme panic attack.
He ended up sleeping only an hour at the hospital and with his golf shoes on. Doctors encouraged him to withdraw from the tournament, but instead he return to the course for the third round and shot a 71. Then capped that with a 69 in the final round to win the tournament by two shots.
That vaulted him to 63rd on the money list, but better yet, the win gave him a two-year exemption on the tour.
That should take care of panic attacks.
And there could be more wins for Beljan on tap. Steve Siebold, a former pro athlete who is now a mental toughness coach, said if Beljan can win on the PGA Tour after suffering a panic attack on the course, he's going to be a force to reckon with when he gets his anxiety under control. He said Beljan showed that champions are comfortable being uncomfortable. And the great ones, like Beljan, are masters of self-denial, suffering and sacrifice.
Some golfers might stand over a crucial putt and say they are going to die if they don't sink it. Beljan actually felt that way.
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Ties Aren't So Bad- I have always been in favor of ties. Not the ones you wear, but tie games in sports.
I particularly liked ties in the National Hockey League because it was worth a point in the standings.
In support of NHL ties, I used the example of a team that staged a huge comeback to tie a game. That tie would feel like a win for the comeback team.
The NHL adopted a five-minute overtime in 1983-84 and if a game was tied and no one scored in the extra period, the game still ended in a tie.
But in 2005-06 all NHL ties came to an end because the shootout was adopted after the five-minute overtime to break the deadlock. At least the team that loses still gets a point in the standings.
The National Football League tried to do away with regular-season ties in 1974 when it added a five-minute overtime. But if the game is still tied after that overtime, it remains a tie.
Since the rule was adopted, there have been only 18 tie games, with the most recent on Nov. 11 when the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers played to a 24-24 deadlock through overtime. When the game ended, numerous players didn't know it was over because they didn't know an NFL game could end in a tie.
San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson said, "I didn't know you could tie. When I saw both sides walking onto the field, I was like, 'Where's everybody going?"'
And on the Rams side, receiver Danny Amandola thought there was going to be a second overtime.
That all brought back memories of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb thinking the same thing after the last tie game was played in 2008 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, like it was in the NHL, ties in the NFL can also be beneficial.
The 1932 Chicago Bears had the most ties in an NFL season with six. They finished in first place with a 7-1-6 record while the Green Bay Packers finished second despite having more wins with a 10-3-1 record. That's because the Bears' winning percentage of .875 was based on their 7-1 record while the Packers' winning percentage was .769 based on their 10-3 record.
Another example involved the Pittsburgh Steelers long before their Super Bowl days. In 1963, the Steelers were on the verge of claiming their first title ever when they played the New York Giants in their final game of the regular season at Yankee Stadium. The Giants came into the game with a 10-3 record while the Steelers were 7-3-3. But if the Steelers won the game, they would have finished first in the Eastern Conference because of a higher winning percentage and would have played the Chicago Bears for the NFL championship.
Earlier in the season, Pittsburgh shut out New York, 31-0, so a Steelers' win was a real possibility. But that possibility disappeared when the Giants took a 16-0 halftime lead and went on to win the game and the Eastern Conference title.
The Steelers would have like at least another tie.
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Forgot The Rules - McNabb took a lot of heat in 2008 when he admitted he didn't know an NFL game could end in a tie.
In 1978, four years after the NFL overtime rule was adopted, I was guilty of forgetting about the rule.
I had been waxing my car on Sept. 24 of that year and decided to take a break late in the afternoon. I turned on the TV and caught the end of a Steelers game against the Cleveland Browns. It was tied 9-9 and as the game entered its final minute with neither team in the position to score, I decided to skip watching the final seconds and returned to my waxing job.
I figured the game was going to be a tie until later when I saw the final score with the Steelers winning, 15-9.
I had forgotten about overtime.
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Perfect Timing - Back in the spring I heard an interview on National Public Radio with New York Mets knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, who had written a book titled, "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball."
It was excellent interview about his revealing autobiography. It was fascinating to hear about Dickey's roller-coaster career that started when he was the No. 1 draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 1996. After stints with the Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins, Dickey's career made a major turnaround in 2010 when he signed a minor-league contract with the New York Mets. After a great start with the Buffalo Bisons, he was called up to the Mets and has been there since.
He was coming off an 8-13 season with a 3.28 ERA, 12th best in the National League, in 2011 when his book was published in March of 2012. His book had to attracted quite a few readers, particularly if they heard interviews like the one on NPR.
However, sales must really be booming now after Dickey compiled a 20-6 record with a 2.73 in 2012 and won the National League Cy Young Award.