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The Bond of Baseball

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - Do the Washington Natonals have what it takes to finally get over the hump this season and win their first World Series? Will the Boston Red Sox recover from last season's turmoil with a new manager? Will New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez be able to overcome a potential career ending injury? Do the Chicago Cubs have what it takes to win their first world championship since 1908?

As the 2013 Major League baseball season begins, there is hope for all teams and fans across North America. It is the only time of the year on the baseball calendar where every team can claim hope and optimism for their season. Every team is a winner. There are no losers. Despite the ever-increasing chasm of baseball economics where the rich teams get richer and the poor ones get poorer, there are only winners during the first week of the season.

From Boston to Los Angeles back to Chicago, every fan’s thought process is the same.

"Well, if Pedro can win 18 games, and Bobby Z. can crank 40 home runs, then I would have to say we have a legitimate shot to win it all this year. But you can’t forget those dreaded Yankees."

Over the next few days , thousands and thousands of young boys and girls will make that all-important journey to their first major league baseball game. Wearing a cap that is three to four sizes too big, and carrying a mitt that appears to be the size of the family dog, these boys and girls will walk up to the final entrance of the ballpark literally dancing on their tiptoes. When they finally enter, their mouths will fall open with wide-eyed wonder. A diamond shaped field of emerald green lies before them as their heroes scurry about preparing for the game. The ever-present aroma of hot dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy waft through the air as they find their seats. The next three hours will go by in an instant. When the game is over, each child will look constantly over their shoulder as they leave the stadium, admiring every nook and cranny of their experience.

In this ever-increasing fast paced society we live in, baseball has taken its fair share of criticism in recent years for being boring. The game provides no instant gratification. Some people have likened it to watching paint dry. It is downright uneventful. But to someone like me, baseball serves as a bond between father and son.

Some of the most precious moments of my life involve just a bat, a ball, a glove, and my father.

Wearing a battered, scuffed, rag of a baseball mitt, I would stand in the last gleams of twilight as my father hit ball after ball to me in our backyard.  Through this nightly ritual I really got to know my father as a man who truly loved me for being me. Baseball served as a form of communication for us. Amongst all the talk of who we thought deserved to make the All-Star team that year, were important discussions about life and becoming a responsible person. As we have seen in recent years, a lack of communication between father and son can have devastating effects. Considering this, baseball’s bond seems even more important now than ever.

Even when I got older and sometimes felt my father and I were from different time zones, sometimes planets, we always had the language of baseball to communicate. Whether it was sitting at the breakfast table poring over boxscores from games played the night before or riding home from one of my games listening to our beloved Red Sox on the radio, we always had this bond between us known as baseball.

But more importantly, baseball serves as a reminder to me that when everything in life seems to be twisting out of control I always have an excellent way to communicate with my other Father. That is through the mighty power of prayer.

God provides us with an open door of communication through prayer. Whatever time or for whatever reason, our Lord hears each and every one of our pleas. Better yet, He answers.

Psalm 6 provides a fine example of this. Verses 8-9 state: "Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer."

We can almost feel David sobbing as he cries out to God for mercy and deliverance. Even though he was faced with incredible circumstances, he never wavered in his faith in God. It was through prayer that he affirmed this.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that we can bring everything good or bad to our Father and he listens? Better still, he genuinely cares for each and every one of us.

Play Ball!

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