The 2018 Major League Baseball season begins on March 29, the earliest opening day in history. That fact doesn’t mean much to most of you, but for me, it’s truly good news. Former major league baseball player, Al Gallagher, once said: “There are three things in my life which I really love: God, family, and baseball. The only problem is, once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” While I hope that is not entirely correct, it is not far from the truth for me as well. I absolutely love the game of baseball. I love playing the game, watching the game, analyzing the game, talking about the game, reading about the game…I think you get the idea.
One of the reasons I love baseball so much is because it teaches a great deal about life itself. Baseball shows the value of individual contributions to a team’s success, the importance of a good work ethic (you play like you practice), and the inevitably of failure (even Hall of Fame hitters make an out 70% of the time). At the same time, baseball always affords its participants a chance to bounce back. At best, there’s another at bat coming. At worst, wait ‘til next year! (which is what we, Atlanta Braves fans, have been saying since 1996)
Some of you may recall a routine made famous by stand-up comedian, George Carlin, a number of years ago. In it, he compares the two most popular sports in America (no, not NASCAR and fishin’) – baseball and football. From his observations, you may get an idea why baseball is our national pastime and my sport of choice.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football is concerned with downs. What down is it? It’s the last down!
Baseball is concerned with ups. Who’s up? Oh, I’m up!
In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error…oops!
In football the specialist comes in to kick something.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, late hits, and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.
Baseball has no time limit so we don’t know when the game is gonna end. We might even have extra innings.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.
In baseball the object is to get home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!
Baseball lover or not, we all like to be safe at home. Maybe that’s why I love Christ’s Church even more than the game of baseball. It gives me a safe place to call home where I can learn and live the Christian faith. That’s why I agree with the writer of Hebrews when he says, “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from church meetings…you should meet together and encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10:24-25a ICB) Let’s take these words to heart so the Lynn Haven UMC is a place where everyone can feel “safe at home.” I’ll see you there or in the park…the baseball park, that is! In Christ,
Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC