Several years ago, my suburban Chicago town's high school won the state baseball championship. The team played terrific ball, running the eight-game, single-elimination playoff table after rising to the top in the early newspaper polls and remaining for the duration of the season. They were quite talented. Two seniors were drafted by major league baseball, and more than half a dozen were recruited to play in college.

Following the final game, a triumphant convocation was held in the school gymnasium to honor the conquering heroes. Coaches, school administrators and local politicos gloated in unison as the championship banner was hoisted. About 45 minutes into the ceremony, the emeritus ex-coach was invited to deliver a homily. He started out dutifully following the chorus of the others - acknowledging the team's skills, work ethic, resolve, resiliency, etc. - but then, unpredictably, veered off track.

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