“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.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.