This is the 8th installment in my Play Ball series about Christ-following professional baseball players. I’ve been doing 2 teams every post and am planning to hit all 30 teams as the season goes on.
This week, we begin on the shores of Lake Erie, with the Cleveland Indians
The Indians have not been very good for many years. When a team isn’t competitive for over a decade, they usually wind up trading their star players at the July trading deadline because teams will offer young talent for established stars who can help take a shot at the World Series.
As a fan, It can be frustrating to see names like Casey Blake, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, leave in exchange for unknown young players. The hope is that those unknown players will develop into stars down the road, living up to the potential they were thought to have. That is what is starting to happen in Cleveland these days. Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta and Justin Masterson all came in trades for established stars, and so far this year, they have helped the Indians to first place in the AL Central Division – and they are young enough to offer hope for a few years to come.
We focus our attention on Justin Masterson. Born in Kingston, Jamaica to a pastor who was working at a seminary, he has grown up in church, singing and playing in worship bands and even leading his High School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group. He talks about how he believes that we can “share the gospel and when necessary use words“
I’ve heard some opposition to this approach to sharing your faith. People will say that “when necessary, use words” offers a cop out for those that don’t want to actually discuss their faith. I believe that there is a more important aspect to focus on. It is another common saying – “Actions speak louder than words” What we say is meaningless if it doesn’t match up with how we are living our life.
In Justin’s case, his actions are speaking loudly. I read several articles about Justin Masterson, and each one talks about how likable he is; how humble he is; how friendly to teammates and fans he is.
By being known as a nice , humble guy he is earning the right to be heard. He actions are speaking loudly, and they give his mouth a chance to tell why he lives the way that he does – to glorify God! If you want to learn more about Justin, you can read this article here from believe.com.
In the article, we also learn of his support for Invisible Children. This is an organization that is drawing attention to the way children are being used in the Civil War that has been raging in Uganda for over 20 years. Invisible Children is made up of a group of artists, filmmakers and other concerned people who are looking to use their talents in the arts to draw attention of the world to the war in Uganda and challenging them to act to resolve the conflict and end the war.
And now, we head south to Houston to talk about catchers. I found an article about J.R. Towles. He is in his first full season with the Astros, after a couple tastes of the big leagues over the past 2 years. Read an interview with him by Prodigal Magazine here.
Reading this interview got me thinking about catchers and their role. Like the article says, they call the shots, they make decisions, like what pitch should come next, and where should it be targeted. They help set the pitcher up for success, but to do so, they have a lot of work to do. They need to study, they need to know the opponent and they need to make sure they are prepared to deal with whatever the opponent sends at them.
There is a good analogy for our Christian walk in this. As Christ-followers, we need to know our enemy. We need to know that he is going to be relentless in trying to get us to fail. He will always send his best, trying to do damage, exploit any mistake that we may make, and defeat us.
Part of a catcher’s job is to know the batter, know his tendencies, know where and how he can do the most damage and game plan with the pitcher to avoid those damaging areas. This requires study, taking advice from others who have a different or deeper perspective, and constantly being aware of all that is going on around them.
We know that it is God who calls the shots, but he asks us to be obedient to him, and to be prepared. When we withstand one attack, there is bound to be another one waiting in the on-deck circle. Let us be students, teachable, and diligent in our preparation, so that we can face the enemy and know that through Christ, we can be more than conquerors. Let us study our Bible, so we can be aware of all that the enemy wants to do, and how to stand against it.