I have to admit that I don’t know very much about chemistry. My brothers were very smart in school and both of them took a few “top level” courses in their high school careers. I only took 2. One I was asked to discontinue and the other, Chemistry, I finished with the second lowest grade in the class. My lab partner and good friend Rod was largely responsible for my success (which for me equaled passing) in the class. He was patient with me, and helpful in answering my questions and explaining the concepts that were so completely foreign to me.
So I am maybe not one to talk about chemistry when it relates to sports either, but I will try. I’ve played on some teams and coached some teams that had lousy team chemistry. And those teams were not very successful. Bad chemistry can derail a team while good team chemistry can help a team play better together which can translate into more wins for the team. Enough of those wins, coming at the right time could be the difference between making the playoffs or not.
I am a fan of the Boston Red Sox, and loved their run to the Championship in 2004. Outfielder Johnny Damon talked about the chemistry of that team. He said “We feel like we can win every game, we feel like we like to have fun, and I think that’s why this team is liked by so many people out there. … You know, the kids watching us out there — we’ve got the long hair, we’ve got the cornrows, we got just guys acting like idiots. And I think the fans out there like it.”
Good chemistry is built on players who are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team be successful. That is how Indians utilityman Ryan Raburn is seen by his teammates. Michael Brantley said in this article by mlblogs that Raburn is always “running around like a chicken with his head cut off. ” And while Raburn isn’t sure that chemistry translates into wins, he has really enjoyed his 2+ seasons with the Tribe. He says ” I think chemistry can make a season a lot more enjoyable. I know from experience, when it’s tough to come to the ballpark and you don’t have that drive to want to play, most of the time you’re not going to succeed. Just to be able to come here, have fun, enjoy playing the game, better things are going to come out.”
Raburn has played every position except catcher and third base in his career. He has even pitched twice in his career, 1.2 innings and has not allowed an earned run.
So far, Raburn has played in over 60 games, mostly in the outfield or as DH. He has also played some first base this season. He is tied for 5th on the team in doubles and 6th in home runs. Raburn’s attributes his attitude and work ethic to his Christian faith. The son of a pastor, He says “I put my trust in Him, and everything else will just fall into place. It’s tough to keep that straight and narrow line, but we just always remember that He’s there for us whenever we need Him.”
Here are my takeaways from Raburn’s story.
1- Attitude is everything – Life is not always full of fun times, as my chemistry class experiences can attest, but with a positive attitude and a desire to follow God, there are positive sides to almost everything. Raburn has caught the attention of his teammates with his give-everything attitude. We can tend to be very selfish and put our own needs ahead of others. But if we are willing to serve God first and foremost, and then put our effort and energy into doing our part to help others God can use us to connect others to Him.
2- Get to Work – There is a common motivational saying in the Christian world that we should “pray like it depends on Him and work like it depends on us”. Christian band Everybody Duck wrote a song called “Some Balance”. The chorus is :
The chorus is :
Oh, we’ve got to draw the line
Between having faith and being blind
Use your mind if you’ve got time, don’t drop the oars
God will save you like He said
But you’ve got to use your head
So when the storm comes pray to God but row for shore.
It is vital to connect with God and follow his plan. When we try to go along without God we often find ourselves in a bad spot. It is important to seek God’s council and follow his leading. But we have to FOLLOW his leading. Out of love and devotion we surrender to God’s will but does our love for God motivate us to action? We need to be ready to do what God leads us to do. Raburn supports his team by being ready to do whatever it takes to help them win. That is a great challenge for us as Christians, too. Let’s be ready to do whatever it takes to follow God and to be His hands and feet. It is only through Him that anything is done, but let’s be ready to get to work wherever he leads us.