It’s not every day that you get to witness something historic.
Last evening I decided to tune in to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the Mets and the Yankees. The game was of personal interest to me because I have been following the Cy Young caliber performance of R. A. Dickey, the Mets’ now-vaunted knuckleballer (see our prior post on Dickey’s memoir, Wherever I Wind Up), but I had never seen him pitch live. As I picked up the game in the third inning, I witnessed history, or at least the end of something historic. Dickey, who had gone an amazing 44 2/3 innings without surrendering a single earned run, gave up four, including a three-run homer to Nick Swisher.
To say that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. Frankly, I was infuriated.
You might find this a strong reaction even for an ex-rugby coach. But there’s a back story on this. For a long, long time I have struggled with the perception that God doesn’t want my favorite sports teams and players to win, at least when it counts. That I tuned in at the exact moment when R. A. Dickey was having an uncharacteristically bad inning in a big game on national television didn’t help this perception. I turned the game off after Dickey surrendered a fifth run in the fifth inning, and of course missed the subsequent Mets comeback, which was spoiled in the eighth inning by a Robinson Cano solo shot off of Miguel Batista.
Dickey’s own assessment of the situation was much more mature than mine: “I gave up one big swing. I didn’t have a great knuckeball (Sunday) night but I fought my butt off with it as hard as I could. (But) all good things come to an end or they wouldn’t end, right? So it’s time to begin another streak.”
Perhaps there is a cathartic element for me in writing this blog post; at least I can say that Dickey’s attitude is a lot closer to where I would like to be in the face of disappointment than I was in this instance. It’s not just because I admire R. A. Dickey. It’s because Dickey’s attitude is biblical.
As I continue to digest the ballgame last night, I find myself returning to the concept of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an act of worship (Romans 1:21) and it is supposed to characterize our attitude in prayer (e.g., Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2). Those who give thanks to God have a different prism through which they see life. Blessings are magnified and challenges appear in proper perspective. Those who give thanks appreciate the streak and the opportunity to begin another one.
On this Monday, I hope we will all seek to be thankful. It’s glorifying to God. It’s good for us. And it makes a few runs scored seem a little less painful.