Tag Archives: baseball

Taking the Blame for a Wild Pitch

Story of the Day for Monday March 19, 2012

Taking the Blame for a Wild Pitch

                   “Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?” “The woman you gave me, gave it to me to eat, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you’ve done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

                                                 Genesis 3:11-13

Contrary to public opinion, blame was not first discovered by political talk show hosts. Blaming others goes back to the Garden. God asks Adam if he ate from the tree.  Instead of admitting it, he blames both God and Eve: “the woman YOU gave me . . .” When God directs his question to Eve, she passes the blame to the Serpent.

 

TV station managers love bad weather because it’s news. Meteorologists, on the other hand, hate storms. They have learned that people are furious and rain down obscenities on them when bad weather hits the area.  One forecaster in Louisville said she hates to go to the grocery store during storms because everyone blames her for the bad weather.

 

And blaming others is contagious. Nathanael J. Fast from USC and Larissa Tiedens from Stanford published a study on “Blame Contagion.”  In one experiment, half the participants read a newspaper article that said Gov. Schwarzenegger blamed special interest groups for a costly special election that failed.  The other half read an article in which the California governor took full responsibility for the failure.

Afterward, participants were asked to write about a personal failure and add who was responsible.  Those who read the article where the governor blamed special interest groups were more likely to blame others for their failure; those who read the second article tended to accept responsibility for their actions.

 

Every troubled organization knows about the “circular firing squad.”  Pointing fingers and assigning blame, Fast and Tiedens discovered, is especially prevalent among people who feel insecure.

 

This is why God’s grace is so beautiful.  We can have the courage to take responsibility for our failures, because when we do, God will forgive us.  Our sense of security is not based on our goodness, but on the knowledge that we are safe in God.

When we know we’re forgiven, there’s no longer a need to shift the blame.

 

The Baltimore Orioles needed a win to tie for first place in the AL East. But, a Toronto Blue Jay runner scored from third on a wild pitch, and the Orioles lost the game.

Afterward, the Orioles catcher Jamie Quirk shouldered the responsibility.  “A major-league catcher has to block that ball . . . I should have blocked it . . . I’m a professional catcher.”

And guess what?  By taking the blame for a wild pitch, Jamie Quirk didn’t receive scorn from Orioles fans.  He bravely protected his pitcher.  And won the admiration of all.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Focus of His Affection

Story of the Day for Saturday October 22, 2011

The Focus of His Affection

                      Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 

                                                                   Luke 12:7

Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. He won six league batting titles and, in a career spanning a couple decades, averaged – averaged! — .344 at the plate.

Williams was meticulous about every aspect of hitting. He would visit lumberyards so he could choose wood with narrow growth rings for his bats. He would weigh his bats on a postal scale in the clubhouse to make sure the humidity had not increased their weight, and was known to bathe them in alcohol to keep them cool.

If a bat didn’t meet his specifications, he would return it. Williams demanded his bats be 33 ounces. An official from the Louisville Slugger company couldn’t believe that Williams could sense such minor differences in weight, so the company official set six bats in front of him, and challenged him to identify the bat that weighed a half an ounce more than the others. He did.

He once set a shipment of bats back to the factory because the handles were too thick. He was right: they measured the grips and they were five thousandths of an inch too large.

 

When we care deeply about something, we pay attention to the smallest details. We’re tuned in to things that others might ignore.

 

Dr. Robert C. Murray, Jr. related an incident in Reader’s Digest. Late one night, he was summoned to the hospital to attend to one of his patients. He tried to quietly slip out of the house, but tripped over a toy in the dark and loudly crashed to the floor. As he lay there, rubbing his sore leg, his wife slept soundly.

Then, their infant made a faint cough in the nursery. His wife immediately leaped out of bed, rushing past her husband as he lay on the floor.

As she returned from the baby’s room she looked at her husband and said, “What on earth are you doing on the floor?”

 

One of the ways that Jesus assures you how deeply he cares about you is by noticing the details. When he tells you he knows the number of hairs on your head, he’s saying that’s how closely he’s focused on you. You are the object of his attention.

 

David wrote a psalm, inviting God to know the details of his life. “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any harmful tendency in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

If our standing with God is based on our behavior, our desperate desire is that God would not know us; that we could, somehow, hide from him. But once we understand that we are the focus of his affection, everything changes. He even knows the hairs on our head, but will not turn away his face.

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

Step Up to the Plate….and Hit a Single

Story of the Day for Saturday July 9, 2011

Step Up to the Plate and. . .Hit a Single

 

                     When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him.  They didn’t believe he really was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. 

                                                          Acts 9:26-27

 I don’t know if you’re supposed to have “favorite” Bible characters, so don’t tell anyone I said this, but one of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas.

Barnabas is not what his parents named him. His real name was Joseph, but he was so good at lifting the spirits of people that they called him “Barnabas,” which means, “son of encouragement.”

Without Barnabas there would be no Paul.  Saul (who would later be named “Paul”) used to persecute the church and all the disciples were afraid of him.  Barnabas, however, convinced them to have Paul accepted as a fellow believer.

As you read the book of Acts, you’ll find at least 20 times where Luke says “Paul and Barnabas” did this or that on their missionary trips.  But, do you want to know something?  When I think about the book of Acts, it is about the missionary trips of Paul.  Paul is in the limelight and Barnabas almost seems to drop out of the picture.

 

Are you a Barnabas?  Do you see that it is just as important to help and encourage others as it is to be the one getting all the applause?

I guess it is OK to have favorite baseball players, so let me tell you one of mine: Willie Mays.  Willie Mays was a great hitter.  He hit a lot of doubles.  But, all of a sudden, his doubles declined rapidly.

Do you know why?  When Mays would hit a double, the next batter up was Willie McCovey, who was the best power hitter on the team.  Rather than let him bat, with first base open, they would simply walk him intentionally.

Once Mays realized that his doubles took the bat out of the hands of McCovey, he would deliberately hold up at first base, so that McCovey would have an opportunity to knock one out of the park.  Willie Mays worked to make his teammate look better.

You have to be a person of great humility to help someone else become greater by getting less attention yourself. But, without people who encourage others, the church would have no effective ministry.

Willie Mays would have won more glory if he smacked a lot of doubles rather than singles.  But it is so much more satisfying when we are working for something greater than ourselves – something greater than our own glory.  Mays played on a team.

 

Why is it that I imagine Barnabas as one of the happiest and most content of the early disciples?  (The Bible doesn’t say anything about that.) Deep down, we find it impossible to imagine this first band of disciples changing a man’s name to “son of encouragement” – and then picturing the guy as morose.  Or obsessed with his own ego.

When we stop to think about it we know that those who delight in encouraging others are those who live with a twinkle in their eyes.

 

Have you heard of Haley’s comet?  If so, you are mistaken.  It isn’t Haley (as in “hale-ee”), but Halley (as in “hall-ee”).  Let me tell you about Edmund Halley.

But not right now.  First, let’s talk about Sir Isaac Newton.  You know him: the apple falls on his head, supposedly, and he comes up with a mathematical formula for gravity.  After Newton published his findings, he went on to become one of the most famous scientists of all time.

Yet, without Edmund Halley, we probably would never know about Newton.  Halley challenged Newton to think through his theories.  When Newton made mathematical mistakes in his calculations, Halley corrected them.  When Newton wrote up his discoveries, Halley edited his work.  When Newton refused to publish his findings, Halley published them, and paid the printing costs out of his own pocket.  Historians who know this story call it one of the most selfless acts in science history.

And those of us who do know about the comet he discovered rarely pronounce his name right.  Halley was a Barnabas.  He is virtually unknown, but because of his encouragement, he gave Sir Isaac Newton to the world.

Maybe it’s time for us to step up to the plate and. . . hit a single – so that someone else can knock it out of the park.

 

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Hidden From View by a Shoe and a Smelly Sock

Story of the Day for Friday May 20, 2011

Hidden From View by a Shoe and a Smelly Sock

                        “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’  And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” 

                                                                      1 Corinthians 12:21-22

 When you crouch down to lift a heavy object (a hay bale, let’s say) what is the most important muscle group you use?  I’ll give you a hint: it’s not any muscles in your legs.  No, it’s not in your back either.  Or your arms.

I have a friend who is a university choir director.  Though I was skeptical at first, Hank (that’s Dr. Alviani to you) convinced me that the most important muscles necessary to lifting a heavy weight are your vocal chords.

When you lift things, he explained, your body must hold air pressure in your chest cavity, or else it would collapse.   That is why you always take a deep breath and hold it before you lift.  Your vocal chords are holding the air in your chest. (The grunts you make while lifting is from tiny bits of air escaping.)  Yet, without those tiny muscles in your throat, you would be unable to lift my daughter’s rock collection off the floor.

While God has given all of us our gifts and talents, it takes effort to view them from a proper perspective.  All of us are tempted to make one of two mistakes.  The first mistake is to feel that our gifts are superior to those of others.   The second is to think that our gifts are not nearly as important as others.   We wish we had gifts that others have.

Both of these attitudes are profoundly unhelpful.

God tells us that one part of the body should not look down on another part and consider it unnecessary.

Dizzy Dean was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He led the National League in strikeouts his rookie year.   In five years he won 120 games.

While pitching in the All-Star game in 1937, a grounder glanced off his toe.  Rather than waiting for his toe to heal, he simply re-adjusted his pitching motion. Adjusting his delivery eased the pain, but overextended his arm.  As a result, he ruined his arm, and no batter would ever see his blazing fastball again.

At the peak of his glory, many people could say, “Wow! What an arm that guy has!”  Nobody would have praised his toe.   But without his toe working right, his arm was ruined.

We all need each other.  “Those parts of the body that seem weaker, are indispensible.” The secret is to thank the Lord for the gifts he has given you.  And, if you feel your gift is like Dizzy Dean’s toe — hidden from view by a shoe and a smelly sock, don’t let that keep you from using it.  The body of Christ will have a really sore arm without you.

                                                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)