Last night I turned on my television, excited to watch the beginning of this year’s postseason baseball. Even more fun was the fact that the first game was between one of my favorite teams, the Atlanta Braves and Bishop Stika’s beloved Cardinals. My first real conversation with Bishop Stika was on the way to and from a game between the Braves and the Cardinals (the Braves won that night, btw). Since then, it has been fun to engage in good hearted banter with him about baseball. Last night was no exception.
In typical Braves fashion, they demonstrated the ability to play lackluster baseball once having reached the postseason. Over the course of the game they managed to make three errors and give up four unearned runs. It was the eighth inning, however, that will make this game one for the history books. With two men on, and one out, Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly to shallow left field. The ball dropped and it seemed that there was hope for a Braves rally with bases loaded and one out. Seconds later, players and fans alike learned that the infield fly rule had been called, Simmons was out, and the runners had advanced. As a Braves fan, I must admit I was livid at this questionable call. It seemed very reasonable for manager Fredi Gonzalez to argue the call and to enter a protest. At one point, I even thought there was the chance the head umpire would overturn the call. What I didn’t expect was for Braves fans to hurl bottles and trash onto the field for almost twenty minutes, endangering players, umpires and grounds crew.
This year sports fans have seen some very bad calls, and in many cases have a right to be upset by them. This being said, the behavior of fans at last night’s game was shameful.
Bad calls are not limited to sports. All of us from time to time make poor choices, ones that impact the lives of others in a negative way. Those whose lives are harmed by bad judgment calls can be legitimately angry. The question is what is done with that anger. Take for example, the person who is unfairly treated at work. If their experience with a boss or supervisor is truly unjust, the proper response is anger. It would also, however, be inappropriate for them to respond by engaging in a fist fight with their employer. Many citizens over the years have had just reasons to be upset with our political leaders. There are a few who decide that shooting those leaders is a good response. It is not.
It is the duty of every Christian to expose injustice and to do what we can to correct it. However, the way in which we do that must be consistent with our Christian faith. I didn’t agree with the eighth inning call last night, but I can live with it much more than I can seeing someone throw a bottle at a man’s head. May the rest of this postseason see an abundance of good calls and sportsmanship. We desperately need more of both.