We’re going to take a little detour from theological discussions with this post. Or are we? Today is Opening Day of Major League Baseball and my favorite team, the San Diego Padres, will be hosting the Milwaukee Braves. But first, a little background:
As I’ve related before, I first began following football (bear with me) in 1969 when I watched the San Diego Chargers beat Joe Namath and the World Champion New York Jets on television and I became an instant fan of the Chargers. What 13-year-old boy could resist those lightning bolts and the Chargers’ entertaining Hadl-to-Alworth aerial attack, even though I lived 2700 miles away? The following Spring, I enlisted as a San Diego Padres fan as well. I figured, as long as I was following San Diego’s football team, I might as well follow its baseball team also. The Padres entered MLB the previous year as an expansion team and outside of slugging first baseman, Nate Colbert, there wasn’t a lot to cheer for.
I’ve followed the Padres for 48 years and over that span there’s been A LOT more leanness than abundance. There were the World Series appearances in 1984 and 1998 and three other playoff years (1996, 2005, and 2006), but outside of that it’s been a rough ride for Padres fans. San Diego is restricted by its geographic location and, with so many other leisure options, the locals do not support their sports teams like in other cities. In addition, unlike most professional sports leagues, MLB does not enforce a salary cap, meaning teams in smaller markets like the Padres cannot compete for talent with teams in larger markets like the Dodgers and Yankees. If a young Padre develops into a decent ballplayer, chances are the team will offload him rather than pay the huge salary that comes with free agency. On Opening Day, most baseball fans are optimistically hoping their team makes it to the playoffs, while Padres fans are just hoping for a .500 season.
We all have our personal interests and hobbies, but many sports fans take it to the next level. Their favorite teams become their idols and the center and focus of their lives. Those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord try to fill the spiritual vacuum in their souls with SOMETHING and many turn to entertainment and sports. Even believers can allow their interest in a sports team or something else to become idolatry that eclipses their Christian worship and service.
Some may wonder how a Christian who regularly writes about the errors of Roman Catholicism could be a fan of a team named the “Padres.” I actually contemplated the same thing after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983, but I decided not to get wrapped around the axle over it. After all, California has a deep history involving Catholic missions, which resulted in many cities being named after Catholic saints – San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, etc. Believers can become ensnared in these kinds of exacting legalistic scrupulosities rather than just acknowledging them for what they are.
Yes, it’s Opening Day and with a record of 0-0 the Padres are tied for first place with Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado, and San Francisco in the National League West! But that won’t last for long. Just like every season, I’m hoping for an 81-81 record, although it will be fun to watch free agent pick-up, slugger Eric Hosmer, in the batting order with Wil Myers (photo).
For a believer, getting emotional about grown men chasing around a field after a ball can seem ludicrous. The Lord surely wants us to have periods of relaxation and fun, but that should not be our focus. Let’s keep all things in the proper perspective.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1