Texas Rangers

Theological Matters: The Forgotten Value of Time with Our Children

LenowTXRangerThis post originally appeared at Theological Matters on May 2. You can read the full post here.

Last month, I took my 10-year-old daughter to a baseball game. It was just the two of us. Our other three children were home with my wife. For nearly four hours, we spent time together in the car and at the stadium. My phone mostly stayed in my pocket (except for taking and posting a few photos), and we talked.

Over the course of the game, we talked about the rules of baseball; I showed her how to tell if the umpire was calling a ball or strike; we even met the people sitting next to us and talked about their experiences watching baseball. My daughter got randomly selected to receive a game-used baseball during the game because she was wearing her Texas Rangers shirt and hat. Clearly, it was a wonderful evening at the ballpark.

The value of that time at the game was priceless. Had it not been for a letter that my 12-year-old daughter penned to my own mother, this opportunity would likely never have manifested itself. Back in November, as the kids were making out their own Christmas wish lists, my oldest daughter put a letter in the mail asking my parents to buy me season tickets to the Texas Rangers for Christmas.

Her motives were pure. She knew how much I loved watching the Rangers play baseball on television. We went to a few games last season and loved every minute. The final reason that tugged at our heartstrings was when she said that she missed being able to go with me to a game—just the two of us—and spend time together. Although my wife and I intercepted the letter before it ever made it to my parents’ house, the letter still had an impact. Last week, I started the summer-long goal of taking each of my four children to at least one baseball game by ourselves.

My second daughter was overjoyed about the opportunity to go first. She has a memory of getting a ball at the game that will never fade from her mind. I even stopped on the way home at 10 p.m. to get ice cream—something only a dad would do. But most of all, we simply spent time together.

We talked. We listened. We slowed down.

If your life is anything like ours, you are busy. . . .

*Read the rest of the post here.

The Name of the Game: Keeping a Good Reputation in Sports

CSM Shots Of The Week 2016:  MAY 16*My recent post at Theological Matters addresses the issue of sports, reputation, and children. The full post is available here.

From halfway around the world, I got a message from my wife—“Have you seen the replays of Odor punching Bautista?” We are baseball fans in my family, and we religiously follow the Texas Rangers. My wife kept me updated while I was on a recent trip to the republic of Georgia.

Rougned Odor is the up-and-coming, fiery second baseman for the Rangers. Jose Bautista is the perennial all-star outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays. After a series of bat flips, hard slides, and trash talking stretching back to last season, the bad blood came to its zenith with Odor’s hard right hook to the jaw of Bautista. The replays of the fight between these two players blew up the feeds on my social media page, and it has been the talk of Major League Baseball for days.

In a moment of confession, I have to admit that I felt a little satisfaction after watching the replay for the first time. It was retribution for Bautista’s home run that effectively ended the season for the Rangers last year. But then I started thinking about my son. What would I think if he landed a right hook to the jaw of an opposing player? What if he taunted the pitcher after hitting a ball over the fence?

Read the rest of the article on Theological Matters.

Baseball Theology from Peanuts

This classic Peanuts comic strip is evidence that baseball and theology are a match made in heaven. Thank you, Charles Schulz.

It also serves as an appropriate commentary on the Texas Rangers’ abysmal 2014 season. We can only hope for better next year. But in the words of former Rangers manager Ron Washington: “That’s the way baseball go.”

This comic strip is available at http://www.peanuts.com/comicstrips/3259443.

Wild Pitch: Texas Ranger Robbie Ross and the NOH8 Campaign

Image credit: mikelachance816 on Flickr

The 2013 edition of the Official Baseball Rules produced by Major League Baseball defines a wild pitch as “one so high, so low, or so wide of the plate that it cannot be handled with ordinary effort by the catcher.”

Robbie Ross, a left-handed relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers and outspoken Christian on the team, threw a wild pitch the other day, but not from the mound at Rangers Ballpark. Ross’ pitch came on behalf of the NOH8 campaign. An article on the sports news site SB Nation suggested the idea that Ross’ involvement was wide of orthodox Christianity as it reported, “While it may seem an oxymoron to some for two devout Christians to showcase their religion on a campaign in support of gay equality, it made perfect sense to the Rosses.”

NOH8 is “a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” The campaign uses photography to promote its message, often showing supporters with duct tape over their mouths to symbolize stopping negative speech toward homosexuality.

Ross and his wife, Brittany, were recently featured in a photo shoot for NOH8. In a subsequent interview, Ross proclaimed that he wanted to display his Christianity as part of the message. He said:

Being in sports, and being around all kinds of different people, you just want to accept everyone for who they are. My wife Brittany and I are Christians, and we believe we as Christians should love everyone and show everyone love, and if this is the best way to do it, then we want to support them.

As with many Christians who try to find biblical support for homosexuality, Ross and his wife have elevated the concept of love above God’s specific statements regarding sin. For them, love means inclusion, acceptance, and approval of all lifestyles even if they are labeled as sin in Scripture. In response to a question about biblical passages that label homosexuality a sin, Brittany Ross stated:

I just don’t think it matters if it’s a sin. We all sin, we all know that, so if we just stop focusing on sin, we can start loving each other.

The article reports that Robbie “quickly jumped in” and said:

If you went Biblically off of everything we’re doing now, during our every day, I’m sure there are one or two sins throughout our day we don’t even realize we’re committing.

There it is. In the minds of the Rosses, sin no longer matters—only love and acceptance.

As a fan of the Rangers, I really like Robbie Ross. I had been impressed by his boldness to let others know about his faith. In baseball, all pitchers miss the plate on a regular basis. It’s called a ball. However, the best pitchers don’t throw wild pitches. On this issue, Robbie Ross has more than missed the plate—he has thrown so wild that his pitch can’t be handled with ordinary effort by orthodox Christianity. This pitch requires leaving the accepted doctrines and interpretations of Scripture. It promotes the homosexual agenda in such a way that minimizes the teaching of Scripture. In baseball terms, this pitch was wild and went to the backstop, advancing a runner along the way.

After Paul discusses homosexuality in Romans 1:26–27, he continues to talk about the depravity of mankind for the rest of the chapter. He notes a number of sins that represent a depraved mind. Finally, he makes a piercing statement about those who condone such sinful behavior. In Romans 1:32, Paul writes:

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Paul tells us that sin deserves God’s punishment. Thankfully, God has provided the way of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son. However, Christians who deny the need for repentance and salvation are like those Paul condemned in Romans 1:32. In spite of knowing what God commands, they give hearty approval to those who live in sin.

I pray that the Rosses would go back to their “pitching coach” and work on their delivery again so they can avoid throwing any more wild pitches.

_________________________

“Rule 2.00—Definitions of Terms,” Official Baseball Rules, 2013 Edition.

Cyd Zeigler, “Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross and wife Brittany appear in Christian NOH8 campaign photo,” SB Nation Outsports, September 17, 2013.

Why I Won’t Be Able to Tweet at Tonight’s Rangers Game

It’s not a shock to anyone who knows me that I am a Texas Rangers fan. However, this post is a little off the beaten path for me.

I noticed for the first time during last season’s MLB playoffs that I could not log in to Twitter or Facebook during the Rangers game. I blamed it on my 3 year old iPhone. Well now I know the real answer with data to back it up.

CNN Money posted an article about why you can’t get wireless service at sports games. With help from app maker SwayMarkets, we now have research showing the best and worst times to access your cellular data service during a Major League Baseball game.

Here’s some research from the article:

The company’s founders went to Fenway Park on May 31 to catch a Red Sox-Tigers baseball game, armed with iPhones on three different wireless phone networks: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Using SwayMarkets’ CarrierCompare software, they constantly pinged the various providers’ networks to measure their speed and response times.

The results were revealing. And very, very bad.

Sprint (S, Fortune 500) and especially Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) became so overwhelmed that their wireless networks were practically unusable throughout most of the game. Verizon actually had several network failures during the game, meaning download requests simply weren’t able to go through.

AT&T’s (T, Fortune 500) network was the only one that worked from start to finish, but its performance was still dreadful. Download speeds during the baseball game dropped to a third of what they were just minutes before and after the game. Refreshing Twitter or Facebook, which took about 6 seconds before the game’s start, took more than 20 seconds at the worst points and sometimes failed outright.

The most interesting information in the article relates to the times that service became the most dreadful. Since the researchers went to a Red Sox-Tigers game at Fenway Park, much of it had to do with how well the Red Sox were playing.

Network performance on all three carriers fell through the floor as people filed into their seats just before the 7:10 p.m. start time. They were texting, calling, uploading photos to social networks — everything you’d expect people to do when there’s not much going on.

Then, as people got into the game, they used their phones less and service got progressively better. The Red Sox quickly took the lead in the second, and lost it in the third. (That’s not surprising if you’ve been following the Sox this year).

In the bottom of the third inning, just after the Red Sox tied it up again, Tigers catcher Alex Avila took a foul tip off his facemask, knocking him out of the game.

During the extended injury timeout, people flocked to their phones, and service slowed to a crawl. The speeds on AT&T’s network plummeted to less than half its gametime average. Verizon and Sprint’s networks virtually crashed, with speeds sometimes falling below 100 kilobits per second. If you’re older than 25, think about dial-up modem speeds. That’ll give you an idea of how slow the wireless networks were.

As play resumed, network quality quickly bounced back from “dreadful” to “poor.”

But when the seventh inning stretch hit, people went right back to their phones, and wireless service quality plunged. A pitching change one batter into the bottom of the seventh led to another short bout of degraded service.

Detroit scored another run in the top of the eighth, gaining a two-run edge over the Sox, and many of the Fenway faithful started to lose hope. As they filed out, service dramatically improved.

After the Tigers scored another two runs in the top of the ninth inning, taking a 7-3 lead and thoroughly dispiriting the remaining fans, service almost returned to normal.

Tonight I’ll be spending a few hours with 45,000 of my closest friends at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a tweet or text out a time or two, but it might be touch and go, especially if Josh Hamilton crushes his 27th homer into the upper homerun porch. Since Rangers fans are more loyal than BoSox fans, we won’t leave the stands early no matter what the score. However, I fully expect to see the Rangers win, and I’ll tweet once I am safely back at the house.

Go Rangers!