Whether you're a baseball fan or not, an article from today's Boston Globe-"Crawford, Gonzalez, and two different takes on the end of the Red Sox season"-has challenging material for Christians.
The Boston Red Sox were in first place at the beginning of this month and, according to one statistical analysis, had a 99.4 percent likelihood of making the playoffs. After having a record-awful seven wins and 20 losses during the month, they are ignominiously done for the year. Globe reporter Peter Abraham interviewed the two Sox players with the biggest contracts, Adrian Gonzalez (who personally had a good year) and Carl Crawford (who did not), and reported/analyzed what they said.
Abraham: "Gonzalez sat in a chair in front of his locker and insisted that it was all part of God's plan that the Red Sox failed to make the playoffs. 'It's definitely something that [we] didn't plan for. We were wholly confident that we would make the playoffs but it didn't happen,' he said. 'We didn't do a better job with the lead. I'm a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn't in his plan for us to move forward.'"
The Globe reporter then turned his attention to the other high-salaried player: "Crawford, meanwhile, stood at his locker last night and answered every question thrown at him with honest, direct answers. 'It's a heartbreaker for us,' he said. 'It was definitely a bad feeling. It's unfortunate we didn't make it. We can only blame ourselves. We put ourselves in this position. . . . I know what kind of season I had. I know what I did,' he said. 'I have to go back home and live with that. It's going to be a tough offseason for me. I have to come back and prove myself.'
"Crawford stood only a few steps away from where Gonzalez sat. But how they handled the end of the season were miles apart. Crawford took responsibility for what happened, Gonzalez did not. . . . I think [Crawford] just had a terrible season, something a lot of high-profile players go through. . . . But at least he stood up at the end, admitted it and didn't pin it on God. . . ."
I think I know what Gonzalez was saying, and he's right: God cares for the sparrow, knows the number of hairs on our head, and objectively is in charge of what happens on a baseball field as he is objectively in charge of what happens everywhere in the world. Abraham Kuyper spoke of every square inch of the world belonging to God, and that includes every square inch of baseball turf. Subjectively, though, we make decisions moment by moment; we come through in the clutch or do not; we are responsible for our actions.
I think I know what Peter Abraham was perceiving, and it's not surprising. Gonzalez has been great in witnessing for Christ, but in this circumstance he was bound to be misunderstood, with atheistic readers of the Globe rolling their eyes. Too bad. A baseball team can become an idol, one to worship in 2004 and 2007 (when the Sox won the World Series) and one that can leave emotional devastation at other times. Life goes on. Only Christ saves.