Baseball's Season Closed
I have been asked recently what kind of hobbies I enjoy. Most people start out by saying, "Other than reading theology, do you like to do anything?" I often have to think a bit (mainly because my life is pretty wrapped up in theology and I barely find time for anything other than my family). However, after a quick second I am able to say, I really like all things sports. I don't get to participate a lot (other than the regular Crossfit workout... if you call that a sport). Also, moving to Scotland has killed normal viewing times for any sports in the US. However, I still really enjoy reading about and talking about baseball, football (either American or the other kind), basketball, hockey, and, yes, cricket.
These past few weeks I have been able to catch the last few innings of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians on the radio. I don't have any personal allegiance to either team. However, my heart is with the Milwaukee Brewers and I have hard time rooting for any team from Chicago, so I quietly supported the Indians throughout the Series. I was not crushed to see the Cubs win. Good for them. I am glad that all of the talk about curses and goats and guys named Bartman can come to end.
The one thing that fascinates me more than anything about baseball is all of the superstition surrounding the sport. In a time, culturally speaking, when we want to banish all things "other worldly" from the public sphere, in baseball we freely and openly discuss breaking curses and the "baseball gods." Thus, with the Cubs win, they have broken "the curse." Theo Espstein, the general manager of the Cubs, now has been the architect of two teams that have "broken their curses." In an otherwise demythologized society, we love to build myths in sports and this is especially in baseball.
There is something deep inside of us that is unsatisfied with attributing what happens in this world to just mechanical out workings. That is to say, the story wouldn't be as good if we said something like: The Cubs had built the best team in baseball. They had gone 108 years without winning the World Series. Statistically speaking, this was going to happen sooner or later. To be consistent with the view of the world that our culture has adopted, I would expect that to be the story that the news would be telling. (I.e. the promoting of a system where as Bavinck put it, "unconscious blind fate is elevated to the throne of the universe.") That narrative, however, is not nearly as satisfying to tell. So we long for a deeper explanation and thus we come up with "the baseball gods."
There is something in us that can look around and know that there is more than what the world has told us there is. There is more than just bare material. Calvin says that this innate intuition is a sense of the divine in all of us. We know that there must be a creator of all this. There must be some sort of order and organization to the world around us. The creation myths that the world has been telling itself for years "fails to appreciate the richness and diversity of the world" (Bavinck again). They fail to tell a story that satisfies our hearts. They fail because, though we have the sense of the divine, we suppress it in unrighteousness. We either ignore the reality of the Creator or we mold it into something that we like better (or more often we do both). We exchange the truth for a lie.
Scripture, however, tells a radically different story. Everything was created with a nature of its own that God ordained from the beginning. Everything, sun, moon, plants, animals, you, me, have unique tasks. There is a beautiful diversity in all of this. Yet in the midst of that diversity there is a unity. This unity has its foundation in God himself. He is the one who created all things and upholds all of creation. He guides and governs everything in the creation to its end. This story is much more satisfying than the one that we have constructed for ourselves.
The baseball season is over. It will be missed, but February is coming. Pitchers and catchers will start reporting. Spring training will start up. This next year will be different because we won't hear Cubs fans saying, "Maybe next year" after the first game of the season. However, we will still hear about "baseball gods" and "curses." Maybe baseball can give us opportunities to think about the bigger realities of life. Maybe we can use baseball to show those around us that there is a more satisfying story. A story that is more fulfilling because it is true.