"It breaks your heart. It's meant to break your heart." Those short sentences from the late Bart Giamatti are two of the best about baseball ever penned. (They also describe part of the Christian life, I'd suggest.) The Boston Red Sox recently broke my heart again with a summer swoon so irritating that for a few days I didn't care whether the players went on strike-but, writing on Sept. 4, I'm now very glad they didn't. That's because baseball, like life, always comes up with new kindnesses-and those contemplating giving up should keep that in mind.
Kindness #1: The Oakland A's on Sept. 4 won their 20th game in a row. On May 19, Oakland had a 19-24 record and a chaotic clubhouse, with outfielder Jeremy Giambi as the master of crudities; even the normally laid-back San Francisco Chronicle described him as "drunken, obnoxious." Oakland general manager Billy Beane traded Mr. Giambi to Philadelphia, sent three other jokers to the minors, and restored discipline. That doesn't always create victory on the field, but in this case Mr. Beane's straight-A students were on their way to compiling the best winning streak in major league baseball in 67 years.
Kindness #2: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling, 35, who has 47 wins and 11 losses since the beginning of 2001. A reporter asked Mr. Schilling whether he was angry with home-run king Barry Bonds. Mr. Schilling admitted that "we had a falling out," but added: "When I became a Christian back in 1997, I lost the ability to hate anybody." (It's great when gutsy players say, "I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," yet it may be more evangelistically effective to drop into a conversation a reminder of the difference Christ makes.)
But if the Red Sox hadn't traded Mr. Schilling years ago ...