I first want to thank all of you who responded to Monday’s Catch with your kind condolences over the Angels’ elimination from the playoffs. And to those, like my wife, who think this is way too much attention to pay to a stupid game, I will point out that God made us this way. He made us all gamers to a certain extent. Competitiveness is part of human nature. Paul talks about runners running races to receive a prize as something that is simply a part of life. Sports are a legitimate escape from the difficult realities of life, and, like any other form of entertainment, they give us a break from the daily “grind.”
Even more so, I believe games are a way of seeing life and learning things about ourselves we might not see any other way. I happen to think baseball is the sport that is richest in these real-life takeaways — principles we see in the microcosm of a game that apply to the much bigger arenas of our existence. Why else would there be so much literature on baseball (I once heard that it is over twice that of any other sport).
As my good friend Michael O’Connor wrote in the opening sentences of Sermon on the Mound, his own contribution to that treasure trove of baseball literature, “I believe in two things. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of heaven and earth, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the one and only Source from which all life flows — and baseball. Everything else is just sports and religion.”
So many of you wrote to me in order to ease my pain. Many commiserated over the disappointment they share over their own local teams, the Montreal Canadiens, the Edmonton Oilers, the Detroit Tigers (at least this year), the Carolina Tar Heels, and those perennial wait-until-next-year Chicago Cubbies.
I conclude today’s thoughts with a quote from John, a Philadelphia Phillies fan:
The Royals are clearly catching “fire in the bottle.” So, John, listen to your dear wife and just move on. At least your team made the playoffs. Mine ended up in last place for the second year in a row. And, at least both of our teams have won it all in recent years. Thank the Lord we’re not Cubs fans!
I will pray that your time of mourning comes to an end – soon.
In all seriousness – thanks for the good laugh today!
And that’s really what this is: a good laugh, with some real life surprises thrown in. You can find God at work in anything, if you take the time to look.
Will we ever know how complex and delicate these lines are with which He holds us and our faith together and draws us to Him? What are these ties that bind? Will we ever get to the end of them? — from my Foreword to Michael’s book