As the Trade Deadline approaches, I have to confess that it is one of my favorite days of the season – in any sport. It is exciting when a veteran player joins a new team. There is a press conference and the new player pulls on a jersey of the new team to meet the press and be introduced to the fan base. There is an association that happens – the player now represents his/her new team and the team is proud to have the new player join the franchise. I really like Draft day too! There is something to be said about a young aspiring player having the next step in his/her dream fulfilled when his/her name is called by one of the teams in the professional leagues. They are, in essence saying I see the potential on you and we are going to take action because we see you as a fit for our team. Then the player, if they are in attendance at the draft, go forward, meet the decision makers of the team and pull on a jersey of the new team that they now associate with.
With that lead in, we will check out the story of Wil Myers of the San Diego Padres. He is the most well known name on the Padres largely due to his 2013 Rookie of the Year win with the Tampa Bay Rays. He was an All-Star for the Padres last season, and now that the NFL’s Chargers have moved up the coast to Los Angeles, Myers has become the most well known sports star in the city.
Drafted out of High School by the Kansas City Royals in the 2009 draft. He would be traded to the Rays before playing a game for the Royals. Before the trade, Myers had torn up the minors at the AA and AAA levels. He won the Rookie of the Year despite playing only half a season, but still led all rookies in RBI. However, after his successful Rookie of the Year season, injuries limited his playing time and his effectiveness for the next 2 seasons. He was dealt to a rebuilding Padres team to be a key player hopefully speeding up the rebuild.
After his All-Star season last year, Myers entered this season with lofty goals. You can check them out in this article from the San Diego Tribune. In the article, he also talks about the “All-Star Hangover”. He says “When I got to the All-Star break I felt like my season was done, It was like, ‘I’m an All-Star. I did it.’ And then I had 2 1/2 months left to play. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t lock back in quick enough into the second half. I was still in that All-Star hangover. When I found out, shoot, I’ve got to get going again, it was too late, and I started to panic.” So this year, the hope was to recover the torrid pace he had set in June last year. His numbers are on par with his season last year, falling a little short of his 40-40 goals. He is looking to avoid a repeat of last year, when his numbers fell off after the All-Star break. And as we can read in this San Diego Tribune article, Myers does learn from his past. The article shares how his mother and father instilled in him the value of taking responsibility for his own actions. We read “When Wil was in middle school, he was playing in a game down in Concord and slammed his helmet to the ground after making a third out. When he got back to the dugout after the next half-inning, Pam was removing his bag from the hook on the fence. “He said, ‘Momma, what are you doing?’ “ Pam recalled. “I said, ‘Wil, you don’t throw your helmet. You’re not playing like that.’ He said, ‘Momma, I promise I won’t do that again.’ ”Pam relented, but not before a scolding reminder that “You represent me and your daddy. You represent this family. We don’t do that.”
So a player may pull on a jersey of a new team to meet the fan base and media, but they represent more than their new team when they play the game. We read that Myers family also takes ownership of his play and his actions – he represents them by his work and his attitude. And as you can learn in this video below, he also represents Christ as he plays.
He says “Jesus is your Lord and Savior. He’s the one who died for your sins. He’s the guide to make disciples of all nations for Him. You go out there and every time you get that voice in your head to talk about Him you just got to do it! ”
Here are my takeaways from Myers’ story
1- Who do you represent? – Myers talks about following the prompting of the Holy Spirit when it comes to sharing about his faith. He knows that just like he is the face of sports in San Diego and he represents the city and his team with the way he acts and plays, as a believer, he also represents Christ to fans, teammates and opposing players. He says “You just got to do it” when you hear that voice in your head to talk about Jesus. As believers, we are representatives of Christ. It is true that we are always being an example, always influencing those around us. The question we must ask is what kind of example are we being? What kind of influence do we have on others? Is it a positive one that points them to the love of Jesus or is it the selfish me-first attitude that we battle against every day? What kind of mark do we leave on our surroundings. Christian Rock band Send the Beggar has a song called “Leaving Jesus” The lyric from the song that came to mind as I wrote this article is the part where they sing. “They don’t call me Jesus, but I leave your name every where I go. I prove that you’re here by being here Like tracks in the snow“. That is our challenge – to show Jesus everywhere we go.
2- Stay Prepared – Myers shared how he struggled after the All Star break last season. He said “When I got to the All-Star break I felt like my season was done, It was like, ‘I’m an All-Star. I did it.’ And then I had 2 1/2 months left to play. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t lock back in quick enough into the second half” For Myers, he rested on his accomplishments and didn’t keep the same mindset and drive in the second half of the season. I’ve heard it said “The only way to coast is downhill” and while rest is important, we need to stay in the battle, constantly asking God to guide us and help us through the struggle. Satan will never leave us alone, but he is sneaky and looking for a chance to attack when we are vulnerable. Let’s stay locked in to following God and putting our all into following Him.