“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.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”