Lamentations 3:23-25: The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
With a few exceptions in this choir, I don’t know if you like baseball or know anything about it or could care less about it, but you probably know that I am a Washington baseball fan. Going back as far as I can remember, I listened to the hapless Senators lose on the AM radio, and I still prefer the radio version today. Sometimes if I want to see what’s happening as well, I’ll mute the television and still have the radio on. This also gives me an unexpected advantage: there is a seven-second delay with the television, so I can hear what’s going to happen before television watchers see it. As advantages go, it’s not much, but it amuses me and makes me happy.
I’ve listened to and watched hundreds of baseball games and read a fair amount about the subject, so I’d say I know something about the game, but not everything. If you want to talk to someone who probably knows more about the sport than anyone I know, talk to Larry Crowder, who has coached or played in thousands of games. Every Sunday, he gives me his read on the Nationals, and he’s always right about what happened and why and what they need to do to win consistently.
Larry also knows the rules of the game. I know the main regulations, but I heard about something recently in a major league game the other day that I didn’t expect. In a Mets-Reds game, the Mets came out in the first inning and had the first two batters strike out. The next player hit a ground rule double, and with the cleanup hitter coming up, things were looking good. But it turns out the player who hit the double had batted out of turn because his manager had given the umpire the lineup card from the day before. So the player at the plate (who was batting in the correct order) was called out without batting. It didn’t seem fair, but those are the rules.
Major league players are professionals earning big bucks and should know what they’re doing, so when I first heard this, I thought it was a rare event in the major leagues. Not so. Going back to 1881, it has occurred about 400 times. Shows what I know.
My expectation that big league players are infallible is, of course, misguided. The very definition of being human includes making mistakes. When we reach the age of accountability, we are expected to do what we know to be right. Of course, we don’t, and so, we commit sins. There is no way to appeal an umpire’s decision in this case and not suffer the consequences, but God is both judge and savior, so our sins are forgiven when we accept the reality that Jesus Christ died on the cross to erase our sins. Baseball is a game, but our lives and the lives of others are serious business, and we can accept God’s gift or throw our lives away. Praise God for the gift of love and forgiveness, and for setting us free, even when we bat out of turn. Amen.