Thursday, October 20

Those 'Stros

I was sitting in my first Major League Baseball game--between my father and my grandfather--in the old Colt 45s stadium in Houston, Texas. I still remember the ceremony during the seventh inning stretch when Judge Roy Hofheinz announced to a jubilant crowd that he was building a new "super-futuristic domed stadium." I looked back over my shoulder to the place where the Astrodome, the "Eighth Wonder of the World," would be built and began then and there to dream about going to a World Series to watch "my" team take on Mickey Mantle and the Yankees.

Things never quite worked out that way though. Indeed, until last night, the Colt 45s-turned-Astros have been a paradigm of post-season futility. Now at last, they are on their way to the big one. Alas, they are going having dispatched the other team that figured into my childhood, the St. Louis Cardinals (the team from my dad's hometown and thus, the only baseball team we ever really talked out loud about at home--unless it was to curse the Yankees).

You can imagine my delight when my good friend, Bob Donaldson, sent me the following late-night, post-game rumination about baseball, theology, and Texas:

You know ... I was dozing in and out last night after the game ... that time of day when the most convoluted and obscure philosophical problems seem to suddenly become crystal clear ... and it occurred to me that sports ... and baseball in particular ... are a wonderful confirmation of the principles of federalism. After 43 years of waiting, "we" are going to the World Series. "We" have suffered from several near misses though the years ... as well as extended period of genuine mediocrity ... but now "we" are about to be ushered into the promised land. How is it that the "we" includes people like me; he of the .037 Little League batting average; he whose slow-pitch softball career came to an end two decades ago; how is that possible? Clearly, the principles of federalism are at work. The current crop of Astros represent me and my aspirations for victory in battle and the attendant glory. I cringe with them when things go wrong; I share their despair when victory is wrenched from their expectant grasp by a ninth inning homerun; and I somehow actually participate in the glory of ultimate victory ... taking to myself some reflection (at least) of the praises that they have earned on my behalf. I didn't elect them to be my federal representatives, and they certainly did not invite me to the party in any formal sense; somehow it was just part of the natural order of things ... ordered, that is, by the One who orders all things.

When I try to capture these thoughts now in the light of day, they seem somewhat less profound ... less helpful as an insight into the meaning of life. But last night, it seemed that I had hit on an essential truth ... we want to be "included" ... we want to share in the glory ... and that is what God invites us to do through Jesus Christ, our federal representative, who has earned eternal glory and invites us to join with Him in the eternal celebration of that victory.

Maybe it's just baseball. Maybe it's just entertainment. But for a moment last night, it seemed to me to be the ultimate metaphor.

Amen, and amen.


covenantpromise said...

Curse the Yankees? That greatest of all stickball teams to which players aspire to be a part of. Hmmmm. I was rooting for the Astros simply BECAUSE they have two former Yankee pitchers.

gileskirk said...

Well, you know, it is the highest compliment to any team that they are either loved or hated by just about everyone. With the Yanks there really isn't much in-between, is there? That pretty much says it all--they are a standard against which all others ultimately have to measure themselves. I will say that when I was a boy, I waited for hours outside a restaurant sitting on my bike waiting for a chance to have Mickey Mantle sign a baseball and some Topps cards. Nearly half a century later, I'd probably do it again if I could (or he could)!

Suzi said...

How is it possible that a game that involves so much scratching, spitting, and cussing can simultaneously evoke such poetry, pathos, and now apparently, covenantal theology?

JFred said...

The only time I was more crushed in my 44 years as an Astros fan than the Pujols home run was the time I crawled over the top of the dugout at the dome in search of an autograph. Instead, I came face to face with catcher John Edwards smoking a cigarette! Edwards just looked at me and motioned for me to get lost. As I rejoiced for my hometown team, and think back on my days as an Astros Buddy (Jim Wynn was mine), I wonder if the old catcher I saw toking down is enjoying this moment.

Steve Henderson said...


Over here in Munich, almost 20 years after you and I left Houston, I certainly can identify with the "we" and the federalism inherent in it. Sharing in the victory of a team in which you have no actual share is delightful. How much more glorious will be our joy when our King accomplishes the final victory--in which we have been graciously given a share inheritance which will remain, because of the power of God: unfading, imperishable, and undefilable. Two losses to the Chisox do not seal the 'Stros fate; perhaps it is not unlike the entrance of sin into the world--it redounds to the greater glory of the victor and his victory when it is finally accomplished against great odds.

gileskirk said...

Amen. Great to hear from you Steve.