Today’s find: Wild Card

It’s a truism that a baseball game tends to proceed at a leisurely pace. (That’s how a fan sees things anyway. The disinterested might put the observation a bit more bluntly: “Baseball is boring!”)

But I find there’s a certain beauty to the tempo of the game. It offers time to chat…and quip…and match wits with the manager.

It provides an opportunity to ponder, too. Which is where I found myself the other evening, contemplating a pseudo-metaphysical baseball question:

How exactly does God choose sides…when the contestants in an MLB game both hail from cities named after saints, and claim mascots with at least some semblance of a clerical tie?

In other words, for whom does God root – the St. Louis Cardinals…or the San Diego Padres?

So far this weekend, my beloved Cardinals have had the upper hand – winning the first two games in a series that may go a long way toward determining who makes it into the playoffs in October. And I’m delighted at that outcome – even if it still feels a bit weird to all get worked up over a Wild Card slot. (I mean, really: what’s the appropriate cheer? “We’re #5! We’re #5!”)

Part of the attraction of the Cardinals’ recent success, I suppose, derives from the decidedly mediocre state of their season just a few weeks ago. The team has been floundering for most of the summer, and I’d pretty much given up on them following a particularly brutal 9th-inning loss to the division-leading Brewers in early September.

My brother Phil scored some excellent seats for the Schroeders last month…when fan interest had pretty much bottomed out on the season.

Amazing, what a mini-winning streak can do for one’s outlook: Hope springs anew, where once there was no hope. At the same time, I’ve noticed a decided uptick in what can only be described as “Cardinal Hate” on social media. I keep seeing tweets from those who dread a return of what they call the “Cardinal Devil Magic”…messages that, to my mind anyway, echo the words we hear from the book of Wisdom this Sunday:

The wicked say: ‘Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings..’

Oh, well, fans will be fans, I guess. And a little jealousy just goes with the territory…when a team has earned more championship rings than any other in National League history.

But I’m still not quite sure what to make of my pseudo-metaphysical question – particularly given the lesson Jesus offers in this week’s gospel.

[O]nce inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 

But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down…and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Could it possibly be true that the Mighty One favors neither the Cardinals nor the Padres…but instead is inclined to root for the Pirates? Or, God forbid, the Cubs?

A night at the ballpark is a blessing…not least, because it provides the chance to ponder some of life’s deepest mysteries.

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.


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