As a Red Sox fan, I have had opportunity to enjoy cheering for a successful team. And it is fun most of the time. But I have a confession to make. There is something about teams that are not successful that create a soft spot in my heart. I want to see them be successful. That is why I was a Montreal Expos fan for so many years. And that is why if you were to ask me what my favorite National League team is, I would mutter under my breath that it is the Pittsburgh Pirates. I don’t have any real reason why that is. I just am drawn to them. So there, I’ve admitted it, now let the laughter begin!
Actually, one of the reasons is that I really like the city of Pittsburgh. Coming in from the West, through the tunnel carved in the mountain, to the downtown that rests on the 3 rivers is a truly spectacular view. I have not spent much time there, but what I have spent there I’ve really enjoyed. So for my favorite NL team, in one of my absolute favorite cities in this country, here is part 7 in my series about Christ-following baseball players.
We will look at the story of the Pirates starting center fielder. He was the team MVP in 2009, the same year he finished 4th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Now in his third season, he continues to make a name for himself as a cornerstone on a young team. And while the team is not considered an elite team by any stretch, with a core of young players like Andrew McCutchen, their day may not be too far away. And Andrew McCutchen’s strong belief if God makes me want to cheer all the more for him and his team. Read his story in his own words in this article from Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
What stands out to me about his story is that he desires to be an example to kids and peers alike. Since people know of his faith, he challenges himself to keep his emotions in check, not getting angry at umpires or whatever, but choosing instead to refocus on the task at hand and how to best help his team. He has made his faith in God known, and he knows that whatever he does – good or bad – will be noticed, and identified with him as a Christian. I, for one, wish I had learned that lesson earlier, and followed it more closely in my life. I know that when I played baseball, I would get angry others (bad call by an ump) or at myself (for an error) and it would get the best of me. Still today, it is easy to get distracted by things that we cannot control. I know I need to remind myself (or be reminded) to step back, refocus and keep working toward the task at hand.
And, this weekend is Mother’s Day. I very fondly remember a year ago, when Dallas Braden, of the Oakland A’s threw a perfect game on Mother’s Day and captured the attention of the sporting community. It was an incredible scene considering that he lost his mom pretty young, and was raised by his grandmother, who was on hand for the game. I was cheering him on for those final few outs. It was a day to remember.
With Mother’s Day approaching, I thought I would also share a story about a member of my current hometown team – Denard Span He and his older brother were raised by a single mom, who, as you can read in this story from Sharing the Victory Magazine, made great sacrifices to get her boys to school, practice, games and church. I played sports when I was younger, and I know the busy schedules that sports teams keep. Game and practice schedules can keep everyone busy – even parents. So, to keep on top of it as a single mom is a tribute to her desire for Denard to accomplish all that his God-given talent would allow him to accomplish. And now, as the Twins starting center fielder, he knows that he is where he is largely because of the sacrifices that she made. He also knows that his relationship with God (that she helped instill the importance of) continues to guide his decisions and carry him through hard times (like injury and disappointment).
He is a favorite here in the Twin Cities, Thank you to his mom, Wanda, for supporting him and sacrificing so he could excel. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
And a Happy Mother’s Day to the special mothers in my life, too. My beautiful wife – the mother of my wonderful daughters. Check out all she has going on at www.sharingthepagesoflife.com. And Love and Happy Mother’s Day wishes to my mom, Nellie, in New Brunswick, Canada and to Sherrill, my mother-in-law here in the Twin Cities.