Friday, April 5, 2013

Christmas and Baseball: A Tale of Two Seasons

If you've listened to me on the air for more than about 10 minutes anytime in the past 30 years or so then you're probably familiar with my philosophy on the seasons. Forget everything you learned in grade school about there being four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  There are only two seasons that actually matter, Baseball and Christmas.

Christmas is the promise of hope and life as it could be.


Christmas Equals Life As It Could Be

Christmas represents life as it was meant to be.  The mystery of the Creator becoming the created, the One given for all, He who was wronged making the ultimate sacrifice to be reunited in fellowship with those who have wronged Him are all a part of Christmas.  The hope and joy inspired by the season, the generosity and goodwill expressed by so many is but a foretaste of what is to come for those who recognize the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas embodies the hope, peace and love that can only be found through a relationship with the baby born that first Christmas.  Promised through and to Abraham when he said, "God will provide the lamb."   Born for the purpose of dying in place of all us, paying the debt that we owed to him.

For those of us who know Him, Christmas presents a tremendous opportunity.  The message of the Gospel is plainly stated in the lyrics of many of the songs of the season, songs that are sung not only in churches but also on the radio and through the sound systems at malls and department stores all across the world.  And people, even those who make no claim to faith or who would never attend a church service, have memorized these words and sing them every year at this time.

Christmas is a season to celebrate and give thanks and to share what life can and will be like if we but embrace the message.

Baseball, with its grueling 162-game season is life as it is.


Baseball Equals Life As It Is

Baseball is life itself, or at least the most accurate metaphor we have for life.  The grueling 162 game season must be played out until its end, day after day.  It begins in the spring, with every team, every player, full of potential and hope.  The grind of each game, each inning, continues through July and August, wearing down those ill prepared for the long distance nature of life, sapping the energy of those who have stuck around one year too long, and cutting short others' promising careers with unforeseen injuries.

By September, many teams have been eliminated from a chance at the post-season, but the games must still be played, though they seem meaningless to those with no hope of continuing into October.  But even on those teams there is opportunity for individuals to excel.  Baseball, like life, is a game where success is rare.  If a hitter fails to reach base safely 70% of the time he is considered a star.  For a team to win a few more games than it loses is reason for celebration.

There is more to success in baseball than numbers or even victories, at least for those who know what to look for.  The batter who gives himself up to move a runner into scoring position, a shortstop who cheats a little toward to the middle of the infield against a hitter who tends to go that way, the hitter who takes an extra pitch or two in hopes of wearing out a tiring starting pitcher in the late innings and a team that plays to win even after they've been mathematically eliminated from contention are all admired by teammates and opponents alike.  And, as in life itself, it is often these small moments of striving that give us the courage to face another day.