Major League Baseball’s All-Star game is outstanding and each year, the all-star game provides some great moments and tremendous teaching points. Here are a few I picked up from the 2013 All-Star experience.
1. I’m not a Yankee fan (putting it very mildly), but I love Mariano Rivera. And so does nearly everyone in baseball. He is widely recognized as the greatest relief pitcher in history. Last night, he was given an incredible tribute. To ensure his appearance in the game, American League Manager Jim Leyland brought Rivera into the game in the 8th inning. From the moment “Enter Sandman” began to play, fans and players alike stood and cheered Rivera’s entrance. Their cheering was about more than the greatest reliever of all time. It was equally about the great man that stood before them on the mound. Rivera is an incredible talent, but he is also an incredible man. His surrendered life to Jesus is front and center for him and he has lived his faith in such a way that those around him respect him greatly. What an honor to be cheered for far more than physical accomplishment (that’s easy). How incredible to be cheered for integrity, work ethic, professionalism, and respect (that takes a lifetime to build).
2. He faced only one hitter in the game, but Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays provided the announcers and fans with a great story. Not long ago, Delabar was out of baseball, assuming his career was over. After a compound fracture of his throwing elbow derailed him, Delabar appeared to be done. Instead, he took the steel plate and screws inserted into his elbow and rode them to last night’s All-Star game. His scar tells the story of who he is. Delabar had a tattoo artist etch baseball seams along the scar. What is seen now is a scar with a story. Every one of us has scars and each of our scars tell a story. Delabar isn’t hiding his scar; he’s doing something with it, allowing it to help him as he moves forward, seeing it as something useful. In the same way, the scars in your life are not the final word. Jesus proved that through (his) scars we find life, healing, and restoration. What tattoo can the Lord draw around your scars? How can he use them for his glory and for your healing? Don’t hide them anymore. Give them to Jesus, tell the story of his healing, and let your scars be a display of God’s grace toward you. (Check out a great song by Johnny Diaz about our scars).
3. The most exciting offensive play in baseball is the triple. It’s that much more exciting when it’s a Prince Fielder triple! Such triples are rare, evidenced by Fielder’s “stout” build and less than rabbit-like movements around the bases. However, last night’s All-Star game provided that rare Fielder triple. A liner into right field wasn’t caught on the dive by National League right fielder Carlos Gomez and the ball rolled nearly to the warning track. As second baseman Matt Carpenter collected it, Fielder rounded second and headed for third. His headfirst slide capped the most entertaining moment of the game. “Ohhh!” “Ohhh!” That’s what Fielder shouted and what we all were thinking. Here’s the lesson: the All-Star game is an exhibition, a game that doesn’t really matter (except for the contrived home field advantage thing). But that doesn’t stop great players from hustling and giving their all. So many things in life and sports don’t seem to matter, but who you really are is revealed often in those moments. What do you do when you don’t have to? How do you approach life and baseball when nothing seems to be on the line? Prince Fielder became one of my favorite players last night simply for going after it when he didn’t have to.
4. Here’s one from the Home Run Derby. There is only one player to every participate in the Derby who wasn’t selected to participate in the All-Star game. His name is Yoenis Cespedes, and he put on a SHOW Monday night. Cespedes is from Cuba and defected not long ago, coming to the United States for the chance to chase a Major League dream and improve his quality of life. His numbers this season are down from last year; therefore, he went into the All-Star break without a nod for the Midsummer Classic. That was until American League Captain Robinson Cano called him to participate in the Home Run Derby. Cespedes seized the opportunity and won the Derby going away. As a player and as a person, you never know when important moments will arise, when “your moment” will come. Will you be ready? Or, will you be pouting because you weren’t selected as an All-Star? Cespedes could have easily turned down the Derby invitation and got some rest over the break. Instead, he showed up and took advantage of an opportunity he didn’t expect. Be ready. You just never know.