No offense to you football, basketball, cricket, shuffleboard, spelling bee and hockey fans, but let me tell you why baseball, the greatest sport IN THE WORLD, would be the sport of choice had Jesus had the opportunity to sign up for T-Ball as a child. While each of the above mentioned sports may carry some of these traits, I dare say no other sports weaves them together in the way the national pastime does.
- The Mascots // Angels, Padres and yeah, why do you think that the team from Tampa Bay are now known simple as The
Devil Rays. -- Jesus likes them.
- The Team // Baseball is a unique team team sport in that there are so many working parts that make up the team: starting pitchers, pinch hitters, closers, power hitters, base-stealers, etc. and each player has a unique skill set. I dare say the 25 player roster has more diversity player to player than football's 52 player squad -- Jesus likes communities that bring all their gifts together for the common good.
- The Individual // In baseball, ones individual contributions and skills can both take over a game as well as be part of a team. Each person plays a particular role on the team, but if need be a player can carry a team for a game or two at a time pitching a shut-out, hitting a couple of home runs, making a game saving defensive play, etc. -- While this can go wrong sometimes when a player tries to do too much, in the end Jesus liked Peter, he tried too much, but also carried the disciples through time of struggle.
- The Utility Player // Not everyone can be great at all things, maybe not even great at one thing, but many can be really good at a great many things. Utility players are a crucial part of a team's 162 game season: outfield, infield, pitcher, catcher, you name it... there are a few folks who can do it all. Bert "Campy" Campaneris was the first to play all nine position in one game. -- Paul, all things to all people.
- The Long Haul // Spring training followed by 162 games in a season allows a team to start with a clean slate each year while requiring them to think with the Big Picture in mind. -- Hope and perseverance, hope and perseverance.
- The Nuance // While some think baseball is boring to watch on TV or in person, the nuances of the game, if open to seeing them, make every pitch and every play an exercise in imagining the possibilities and seeing a glimpse of grace. -- Sorry literalists, but I think Jesus likes a nuanced approach to scripture, faith and sports.
- The Bodies // Short, tall, thin or chunky all are welcome on the diamond. -- I have got to believe that Jesus would get a kick out of the husky reliever, the slight base-stealer and the behemoth of a power hitter.
- The Beauty // Some of the most beautiful sights in sports: The 6-4-3 Double Play, the Suicide Squeeze, hitting the cut-off, OBP, The Diving Stop, the Triple Crown, the Perfect Game and the Screwball. -- Jesus like beautiful things.
- The Movies // Best Sports Movies EVER: Bull Durham, Major League, For the Love of the Game, Field of Dreams, 8 Men Out, The Babe, A League of their Own, The Natural, The Bad New Bears, The Sandlot and the ULTIMATE DOCUMENTARY, Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns.
And one last thing. I do think Jesus would pick sides when it comes to teams fandom. I suspect he would root for small market teams like the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins over those teams that shall not be named, but rhyme with New York Hankees and Boston Bread Box.
Okay, I've made my case. Feel free to push back and defend your sport of choice.
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