Today’s an exciting day for me.
It’s the opening home game for the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays Season. For the first time in nearly three years, after various COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, my favorite baseball team will be playing in their home ballpark stuffed with 45,000 boisterous baseball fans. It’s the start of a season that’s filled with promise. Even the American media outlets—for whose affirmation Canadian baseball fans quietly crave—are predicting that the Jays will make the World Series. They’re a team replete with dynamic, young talent—Vlad Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Jose Berrios—and proven veterans like George Springer and Matt Chapman.
If you’ve read this far, you’re likely either a baseball fan or curious as to when the pastor is going to get to the “pastoral” things. Well, if you’re in the latter camp, you may want to go back and read last week’s post on predestination because this post is of a different sort. It is the sort that rather blatantly exposes the fact that yes, in fact, your pastors are normal people with normal interests too (just ask Pastor Greg about his Tar Heels… though perhaps wait another week to do so).
Yes, some of us may get excited about the publication of newly discovered manuscripts from dead theologians like Bavinck or Vos, and we may even find undisguised pleasure in discussing the finer points of church polity, yet we also find pleasure in more run-of-the-mill recreational pursuits that are not theological in nature (at least not explicitly so).
And so, I’m excited for baseball!
The first pitch of the regular season tells me that spring, with sunshine and warmer weather, is on the way… yes, even for Michiganders! I look forward to the sounds of the game—the crack of the ball hitting the bat, the hecklers in the stands, the roar of the crowd, the sound of cleats in the dirt. I’m excited for the opportunity to strategize along with my team’s manager about which reliever to put in and whether to employ the suicide squeeze, and to argue through the television with the umpire as to why he’s blind and blew the call.
I like sitting with my three kids at the breakfast table watching highlights from the previous night’s game and lying in the hammock while the grill simmers as the dulcet tones of the radio announcer narrate the game.
When I was proselytizing my wife to the game several years ago, I advertised the human interest side of the game. This, to me, is a unique selling point of baseball. It’s a sport that has always been filled with interesting characters and its measured pace is perfectly suited for telling all sorts of stories (like the account of the infamous flame-throwing, French Horn playing Sidd Fynch or basically any interaction with Yogi Berra). But baseball should not only be of interest to those who like to hear a good yarn.
If you’re one of those people who are into science and physics, baseball has that in spades. If you like history, as Ken Burns’ 20-hour documentary showcases, baseball is a great window into the American story. And, if you’re a numbers buff, you can analyze and debate stats for hours.
Finally, though I indicated above that baseball is not explicitly theological (and I certainly will not seek to devise some far-fetched spiritual allegory to justify my interest), I do think that it is theological in this sense: God has made us as finite creatures who, because we are not God, need rest and recreation. Yes, we are called to work hard and unto the Lord, but He also gives us good gifts that offer rest to the body and rest for the mind. For me, whether it be watching the game in my backyard hammock, sitting in the seats at the stadium, or manning an infield position on Tuesday nights, that’s what baseball does. It’s a simple and good pleasure which God uses to give his creatures rest (and besides, if Calvin purportedly had lawn bowling, why can’t I have baseball?).
And so, against the critics who say it is a dreadfully dull sport, I say without the least apology, “Bring on the baseball season! Let’s go Blue Jays!”
Yours in Christ,