Heading into the final weekend of MLB’s regular season, I figured the Cardinals would find a way to sneak into the playoffs in 2016—and make a sixth-straight appearance in the postseason.
Surely, I thought, the Dodgers would be good for a win or two against their archrivals, the Giants – and then the Cardinals would just have to take care of business against the Pirates at home.
The second half of my scenario turned out pretty well: The Cards swept the Buccos, to keep the pressure on the Giants in their series against LA.
Alas, the Dodgers got swept too…leaving my beloved Redbirds on the outside looking in as the playoffs begin.
So: Despite all the positive mental vibes I tried to send the Cardinals’ way over the past several days, they’ll have to wait another year for the chance to raise their 12th World Championship banner at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
What seemed like a sure thing just a couple of days ago…has now pretty much disintegrated into ashes.
As the harsh reality of a Cardinal-free postseason settled in today, I couldn’t help but think of the intriguing observation I’d heard at Mass on Sunday morning.
‘Increase our faith,’ the apostles said to Jesus. And he immediately responds with a curious teaching about sure things.
‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’
I don’t know about mulberry trees, but clearly my faith in the Dodgers was badly misplaced. (And no doubt, Jesus would think it a waste to focus any amount of spiritual energy on the success or failure of millionaire athletes.)
But perhaps it was a gift, to have my “baseball offseason” extended by another week or two this year. The attention I might otherwise have focused on the Cardinals…can instead be diverted to the seemingly immovable mulberry trees in my life.
And I can ponder, along with the Psalmist, an altogether different sort of ‘sure thing’:
If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.