Monday, April 29, 2013

Choices We Make, Or Don't

credit: Jason Collins
Born: Dec 2, 1978
Height: 7' 0"
Salary: 1.352 million USD
Team: Washington Wizards (NBA)
Ever heard of him: No

He commands a relatively small salary in the NBA and his career averages in points, rebounds, and blocks convey that he will never be in the Hall of Fame, much less on an all-star team.  Before today I'd never heard his name.

His teammates, former teammates and others he's played against hold him in high regard as far as respectability goes.  We can agree that he's intelligent, having earned a degree from Stanford.  In his free time he loves to travel, goes to museums, loves his family, and he loves his country.

By now you've probably heard his name a multitude of times.  He may or may not become a household name (only time will tell).  However, his life is changed.  There's no denying that.  Today Jason Collins of the NBA's Washington Wizards announced that he's gay, the first openly gay man in one of the top four sports in the United States.  His life is changed because he can now openly express feelings that he's been suppressing for apparently a number of years.  He will also be someone for others who have the same feelings to look up to.

I can't think of too many people in my circle (liberal, conservative, left, right, Democrat or Republican) who will read this and not have some sort of issue with my thoughts and words.  So be it.  I didn't write it for them.

I want to, in effect, defend a large group of people's innermost secrets that I know virtually nothing about.  That sounds odd, I know.  I want to defend it because so many other people who know nothing about it seem to know what the problem is and how to fix it and where to point their crooked fingers.  I don't know what it's like to have feelings for a man.  I'm married to a beautiful woman --that's who I'm attracted to.  I can't tell you if it's a choice, or if people of any sexuality are "born this way".  I can tell you that it doesn't make any single person a bad seed.

I don't believe that because I am a Christian I am without sin, or that others carry a heavier burden of sin than I do.  James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it"  I believe in the infallibility of the Bible.  I do believe the Bible speaks clearly when it says in Leviticus 18:22, "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable".  That means (to me at least) that homosexuality is a sin.  As I mentioned, I have my own detestable sins.  The bible says in Proverbs 29:11, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control".  Some may say that anger is in no comparison to homosexuality --I wholeheartedly disagree.  As the verse above states, I am accused of all the sins of the Bible.  Not just one concerning anger.  My anger can cause very real pain to people with whom I come into contact, and I hate that there have been times when I couldn't keep it under control.  Jason may not agree that homosexuality is a sin --that's for him to decide and take up with God.  It is for me to decide to, as the Bible states in 1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins".

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Forty-Two

Some people think the 'B' stands for Boston.  Well of course they do.  With the Boston Red Sox being darlings of the fans for the past several seasons, of course any hat with that letter is taken for the 'B' in Boston.

However, that's not what the letter on my hat stands for.


This past weekend my beautiful wife and I went to the theater, as we often do, to see the newly released film '42' which is based on Jackie Robinson's autobiography.  We really enjoy going to the movies, especially when there's a movie that has anything to do with baseball.  I was so excited about seeing this movie from the very first time I heard about it.  I have to say, I was not let down.  While I thought a few of the scenes were a little over the top, I still think it may be one of my favorite movies in quite a while.

Jackie's impact on the game of baseball (and Civil Rights in general) cannot be overstated.  When Branch Rickey decided that Jackie should be the one to break the color barrier in the game of baseball, it was because he knew Jackie "had the guts not to fight back".  One of the scenes that was exceptionally painful to watch was when the Dodgers were playing the Phillies.  While Robinson was batting, Phillies Manager Ben Chapman hurled racial epithets of the worst kind for the duration of the at-bat.  I told Katie that "I would've had to kill some white folks" because I just don't have the spirit to ignore that kind of abuse.

And ignore it.  And ignore it.  And ignore it.  But that's just what Jackie did, all season.  He had to prove his worth with his play on the field --and did he ever!

Another scene that I thought was incredible occurred in the tunnel that leads from the dugout to the clubhouse under the stadium.  I'm not a proper movie critic, nor am I an acclaimed writer (despite what my mother says) and I don't feel I could correctly depict the scene so I won't.  I will say, however, that it was a very emotional scene for Jackie --and myself, my wife, the rest of the audience in the theater, and you if you'll go see it.

The last scene I'm going to mention is my favorite from the movie.  I feel like this scene made the movie for me.  It also brought me to tears.  Fortunately YouTube had it, so I'm able to share it with you...



I find it amazing, the impact Jackie Robinson had on the game of baseball.  His athletic ability was a huge help for the Dodgers immediately.  They reached the World Series in his rookie season only to lose to the New York Yankees.  He also managed to win the Rookie of the Year award, which I imagine is a huge feat given that the award was handed down by white men with a varying degree of racism running through their veins.  In 1955 the Dodgers, with Robinson playing second base, finally beat the Yankees for his only World Series victory.  Jackie played only a few more seasons, but the consequences of the things he endured live on without him.



April 15 of every year, Major League Baseball takes the day to remember Jackie Robinson.  Many players have a very real connection to him in one way or another.  In 2009, Ian Kinsler (my favorite second baseman) hit for the cycle and went six for six at the plate.  It was a very Robinson-esque performance --and on Jackie Robinson Day, no less.  Kinsler remembers his favorite player daily by wearing his socks high, like Jackie did (the only way baseball players should wear their socks, in my opinion).  Robinson Cano, second baseman of the Yankees, was named after Jackie.  Growing up, Cano was taught the game of baseball by his father and his favorite player was also number 42.  Because that number is now retired, Cano wears number 24 to honor him.

The 'B' on my hat stands for perseverance.  It stands for courage.  It stands for broken barriers.

And, it stands for Brooklyn.



For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -2 Timothy 1:7

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blasphemy!

or Traitor!  or even Crackhead! or Sherlocks (Baker St Pub & Grill, where he, Josh Hamilton, had a relapse)!



Sure, easy to call him all these things.  I mean, why not?  He's on the other team!  He plays for the team we hate most, the Angels!!

Not to mention all those horrible things he said about all those passionate Rangers fans who have been tried and found faithful.  Those fans who've been at RBiA (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) every season, no matter the temperature.  The ones who have suffered through the years when the Rangers didn't make the playoffs for over a decade, yet filled the stadium night after 100 degree night.  Those fans who chose meaningless baseball games over semi-meaningless Dallas Cowboys games.

Haha --yeah, right.

I must've been thinking of Chicago, or New York, or maybe Boston.  They're baseball towns.  However, this is Texas, home of the Cowboys (who play literally across the street, no less).  

It's according to this article that Hamilton said, “It’s one of those things where Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town...  So the good with the bad is they’re supportive, but they also got a little spoiled, at the same time, pretty quickly. You can understand like a really true, true baseball town — and there are true baseball fans in Texas – but it’s not a true baseball town.”

Here's what I got from that...  He's talking about people who have recently jumped on the Rangers bandwagon.  Those who became Rangers fan while he was with the team and got used to him hitting homeruns for the home team.  The article goes on to say that Hamilton's comments make him look spoiled --and not the fans, as he's stated.  I disagree with that notion.  His comments are called honesty, and it's something people are afraid of dealing with upfront.  

The Cowboys absolutely dwarf the Rangers in television ratings.  It's not even close.  So while the Rangers have gained a lot of momentum in the past few years, it still doesn't make the DFW area a "baseball town".  The Cowboys opener last year, according to this article, drew viewers at an 8:1 ratio versus the Rangers game on the same night.  However, if you're trying to argue that the DFW area is a "baseball town" as opposed to a "reality show town", you're in luck!  The Rangers had 110,000 viewers to Big Brother's 100,000 on the night of the Cowboys' home opener.  

You know what?  I'm a Christian.  I'm not perfect, I have my faults... Boy, do I have my faults.  I rely on God to guide me through many things.  I don't think I would be able to get through the torments that Rangers "fans" have cast on Hamilton.  I'm glad he is also a Christian, it's what has made him who he is today.  And it's what has helped him get through this weekend, as noted in this article.  Because he is a Christian, he is my brother.  I don't know about you, but I don't treat my brothers the way people in Texas, part of the "Bible Belt", are treating him.  I think it's disgusting.  I think it's appalling that his wife Katie felt the need to have security while she and her daughters sat in the very stadium that they called home for the past five seasons.



His jersey still hangs in my closet, and the autographed photo of him and I will forever hang on my wall.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35