Baseball God

“Jesus is alive and so is baseball!”

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Good Friday. Passover. Opening Day.  All high holy days for people of various persuasions, all going on today or tonight, somewhere.

But beyond a few glib little comments like that, do these things really justify a vigorous comparison?  The people quoted in this Houston Chronicle article on the matter think they do:

Kicking off the Astros’ season on one of the most solemn days of the church calendar may pose a conflict for some from liturgical traditions, but it also could complement Christians’ understandings of the incarnation and the crucifixion, according to Baylor University professorJohn B. White, director of a seminary program for sports chaplains.

“Why couldn’t one attend a Good Friday service and then go to the ballpark and experience the game differently? Even in the midst of the game, there are themes that go with the Christian understanding of life,” said White, referencing the defeat and victory, death and rising again that happens on a different level in sports.

And:

“When you say the Astros’ opening day is on Good Friday, I have to chuckle because I think of all the pain we have gone through as Astros fans,” said Miller, who used to serve at Houston’s Trinity Episcopal Church and moved to a congregation in Hawaii several years ago. “The themes of loss and loyalty, staying true to one’s calling when things seem most dire, hoping for a resurrection: Those are all things we’ve felt.”

These are religious people/scholars talking, and since it’s their religion it’s their right to make any analogies they want.  And even though I’m a stinkin’ agnostic/atheist type I understand that a huge part of Christianity is taking lessons from Christ’s life, death and resurrection and applying them to the challenges we all face.

But isn’t that, I dunno, a bit … extreme?  It’s just sports, man.  I’m probably wrong though, and for discussion purposes, would love to have the Christians help me out with this, because it’s interesting to me.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.