Training Table — MLB Playoffs (Week 3)

Training Table — MLB Playoffs (Week 3)

Monday

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:26; 31a

The Origins of Life

The origins of baseball are a little tricky. There were many games prior to baseball that involved a ball and bat-like object that came from folk games in England, like cricket and something called “stoolball.” But no one knows exactly when and where the specific game of baseball was created.

So in the early 1900‘s Albert Spalding (yes, that Spalding) led something called the Mills Commission. It included many former big leaguers and baseball men who were charged with finding out the origins of baseball. When the Mills Commission published their report, they claimed that longtime military man Abner Doubleday invented the word “baseball,” designed the diamond, indicated fielders’ positions, and wrote the rules in 1839, in Cooperstown, NY. However, their main source was a letter written by Abner Graves, who wrote that letter when he was five years old, and at the time the commission talked to him, was elderly and had spent time in a mental institution.

Doubleday himself never claimed to have invented baseball and there has never been any other evidence to support that he did. No one is really sure how the game of baseball became baseball, but it did, and we play it today. Like baseball, people have often wondered how we came into existence. There are big bang theories, origins of species and many other ideas, but unlike baseball, Christians know that there is no mystery about our origins. God told us in the Bible that He created us, in His image, and it was very good.

— Aaron May, Sports Spectrum

Tuesday

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)

Praying Consistently

There have been many great moments in baseball’s history. One of my favorites is from the 1975 World Series. The Red Sox were facing elimination in Game 6 against the Reds. In the bottom of the twelfth, with the game tied, Red Sox’ catcher Carlton Fisk came to the plate. Fisk hit a long fly ball towards left that sailed high above the Green Monster yet close to the foul pole. As the ball was in the air, Fisk frantically waved his arms toward fair territory, wishing, hoping and praying that the ball stayed fair for a home run. It did, and the Red Sox lived on to play Game 7.

In desperate times in our lives, we are quick to frantically wave our arms at God in prayer. But oftentimes, we don’t pray when things are going okay. We leave God out of our daily lives. But God wants to be involved every step of the way. The Bible says that we are to “pray without ceasing.” So our prayer life should be no different if it’s the first game of the regular season, or the last game of the playoffs.

— Aaron May, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over

Yankees legend and colorful personality Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” And that’s just how the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals went.

The Rangers had dominant closer Neftali Feliz on the mound in the bottom of the ninth during Game 6. Feliz was one strike away from ending the series, but David Freese hit a two-run, game-tying triple. In the top of the 10th, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer to put the Rangers back in the lead and have another chance at clinching the series. But the Cardinals came back again! This time, Lance Berkman hit a two-strike two-out single that brought the tying run in. In the bottom of the 11th, David Freese hit a walk-off homer to send the series to Game 7.

The Rangers were one strike away from winning their first championship on two separate occasions that night, but the Cardinals continued to fight and clinched their 11th World Series Championship in Game 7. Whatever is going on with you and God, whether you’re backsliding, struggling with a sin, or have yet to trust Christ as your Savior, it’s not too late to follow Him. As long as you still have breath, it ain’t over until it’s over.

— Aaron May, Sports Spectrum

Thursday

“Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.” Mark 14:72

Sid Bream was out!

Game 7 of the NLCS. The Pirates entered the bottom of the ninth with a 2-0 lead against the Braves with a World Series birth in their grasp. But the Braves scored a run and eventually had the bases loaded for Francisco Cabrera. Cabrera singled to left, scoring the runner at third. Pirates outfielder Barry Bonds grabbed the ball and made a strong throw towards home plate to try and throw out the slow-footed former Pirate Sid Bream, who was trying to score from second. The throw was late. Bream was safe. The Pirates went home, lost Bonds to free agency, and then lost for 20 straight seasons.

But the biggest part of this story for me is not that the Pirates lost, or how the team has been since that moment, but how one particular Pirate fan acts towards that game.

In a word: denial.

My friend is probably the biggest Pirate fan you can find in North Carolina. And despite the many different camera angles, replays, and photos that show Sid Bream sliding safely into home, to this day, he still insists that Sid Bream was out.

Much like my delusional friend denies the correct call of the umpire, Peter denied knowing Jesus. In our own personal lives, we may never get into the exact situation Peter did and deny our Savior, but often times we can deny Him by our actions. Be mindful of how you think and act daily; you could turn into a delusional Pirates fan.

— Aaron May, Sports Spectrum

Friday

“Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God.  Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.” Jeremiah 14:22

Hope in the Lord

Game 2 of the 2008 National League Division Series. The Philadelphia Phillies were up 1-0 in the series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee hoped ace CC Sabathia would have a shut-down performance to even the series. He was 11-2 with a minuscule 1.65 ERA since being acquired from Cleveland midseason. Brett Myers was the Phillies starter—but he changed the course of the game with his bat.

With a runner on and the score tied at one, Myers came up to bat in the bottom of the second and promptly went into an 0-2 hole. Not surprising, considering he hit just .069 that season. An easy out, right? But then something amazing happened. Myers started fouling off pitches and taking balls. The crowd went into a frenzy and cheered louder with each pitch. He worked a nine-pitch walk out of Sabathia. Even though the at-bat started out poorly, he battled back and remained patient. Until the third strike, there was still hope for something good to happen.

Sabathia was clearly rattled. He walked the next batter and then gave up a grand slam to Shane Victorino. The Phillies won 5-2, went on to win the NLDS and of course, the World Series.

Much like Myers, there are times in our lives when things look bleak, be it a circumstance in our own life, our country in an election year, or an 0-2 count. But we always have hope in the Lord.

— Aaron May, Sports Spectrum

Weekender

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Going Long

Read Matthew 5:5 and meditate on what it says about people who are meek (or humble). What does it say for those people, who care little for fame or glory, and who strive to do things despite not receiving much or any attention?