Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Biggest Game of the Year

Life and baseball are two good things. And they have a lot in common.

The Tigers and Twins played a one game playoff last night for the American League Central Division pennant, and the right to lose to the Yankees in the American League Division Series.

Some called it the biggest game of the season. One and done. Move on or go home.

But the truth is that there were 76 other “big games” this year for the Tigers (and the Twins). If Detroit had won April 6th or 7th or 9th or any one of those 76 games, they are preparing for the Yankees today rather than cleaning out the lockers.

The Twins finished the regular season with sixteen wins and four losses in their last twenty. That is an incredible winning percentage. But truth be told, they had to pour it on at the end because of the first five months of the season. If they had gone 12-10 in April instead of 11-11, Tuesday never happens.

All they needed was one more win in 162 tries.

Which reminds me of just how much baseball is like life.

People roll through life with moderate effort, here and there excelling and here and there loafing. They are spiritually anemic, often going through the motions outwardly, but not inwardly fighting. They coast.

Then some big crisis happens and they want to “get serious.” The wife leaves and the husband suddenly wants to deal with his aloofness or his jealousy or his anger. A drunken violent rage occurs and suddenly they are serious about their alcohol problem. A daughter becomes pregnant or a son fathers a child with the girl next door, and suddenly its time to get serious about raising kids.

It’s the “biggest game.”

So they come to the pastor, and they want to know how to fix it.

But the reality is that this “game” is necessary only because of their previous actions. They have spent ten or twenty years developing a pattern of life, and suddenly they want overnight change. They have been batting .185 at home and suddenly they want to bat .340.

Here’s new: Ain’t happening.

You didn’t get here overnight, and you won’t get out of it overnight.

And you can’t fix it by doing what you have always done.

It takes time. It will be hard. And it might not work. Your wife might not come back home. Your daughter will not suddenly be “unpregnant.” Your DUI will not magically disappear. Your children will not suddenly snuggle up to you at night.

So don’t wait for game 163 to decide it’s a “big game.”

By all means, if you have to play Tuesday, play hard. Win.

But better to start in April and realize every game is the big one.

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