This morning’s post game report is going to be short and sweet because I’m on a time crunch to drive up to Milwaukee for this afternoon’s game. Here are a couple notes from yesterday’s game…
The Cell was way better than I anticipated. Not in my Top 10 ballparks. Actually probably not even in my Top 15. But I had extremely low expectations going into the game, and I was surprised at what I found instead.
U.S. Cellular Field was originally Comiskey Park II. It was built in 1991, which was the year before Camden Yards was built in Baltimore and completely changed the landscape of ballpark design. After Camden, every park for the next 20 years was a “retro” design utilizing steel and brick aesthetics rather than the concrete coliseums/multipurpose parks of the previous decades (think Kauffman Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Dodger Stadium, etc.). Comiskey II was the last of that era, and I wasn’t expecting it to be worth much. It’s undergone renovations and remodels numerous times to make it more appealing, and clearly their improvements have made an impact.
We arrived in Chicago around 10:30 and bolted as quickly as possible to The Cell on the Southside. We made it most of the way there on the Red Line, but they weren’t letting passengers off at the 35th-Sox station next to the ballpark because there was an acid spill next to the station and they had to close down the whole area – blocks in each direction. A somewhat crazy start to the trip.
Keeping up with my tradition at each ballpark, I picked up a White Sox cap at the ballpark. As a Royals fan, I dislike the White Sox quite a bit, so I opted for the throwback 1983 style (which, as I’ve probably mentioned elsewhere, is one of my favorite uniforms ever). It’s pretty slick, actually.
I saw three potential themes to write about from today’s game: the myth of clutch-hitting, the goal of evangelism, and the purpose of the Ten Commandments.
#1: The Myth of Clutch Hitting
One of the largest debates in baseball circles is whether or not there is such a thing as a “clutch” ballplayer. Certainly there are clutch hits, and clutch situations, but is it true that some ballplayers are literally better than others at hitting in big time situations? When the pressure is on, are there certain guys that inexplicably can rise to the occasion while others cower and sweat and ultimately fail?
The reason I ask, is because on two separate occasions, rookie phenom, Jose Abreu, came up with runners on base and an opportunity to put the White Sox up with one swing of the bat. Abreu leads the MLB in HRs this year with 31. Now that Mashiro Tanaka is out with an injury, it seems pretty certain that Abreu will be the Rookie of the Year in the AL. He’s exactly the guy you want up in that situation.
He came up twice with runners on and both times I found myself leaning forward begging him to come through in the clutch.
In the fourth inning, with a runner on first, he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. In the 6th inning, with runners on second and third with two outs (the Sox best chance for a rally in the game) he grounded out to the shortstop again, ending the inning and the threat.
Jose Abreu was not clutch yesterday.
But it begs some questions: are there certain humans that thrive in the tight spots? Are there others who are weak in pressure spots?
Ultimately, the guys at Baseball Prospectus will tell you that there’s no such thing as a “clutch” hitters. There are clutch moments – like Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series or David Freese in the 2011 World Series – that are certainly clutch moments. But there’s no such thing as a clutch individual. The numbers correlate pretty much across the board that guys who are better players are the guys you want at the plate in tight spots.
There’s more math here, and tons of articles written about it, but we basically know that the idea of “clutch-hitters” is a myth.
It’s funny what myths we buy into as humans. For example, the “creation story” of baseball is a myth. Abner Doubleday supposedly invented the game in Cooperstown. But there is zero evidence that Doubleday was ever in Cooperstown nor that he had anything to do with the game.
Baseball needed an origin story that made baseball purely an American game and not a variation of the English game of Cricket or stickball. We wanted an origin story – a myth – to believe in because we needed to believe in something. I’ve written a lot about the Genesis creation debate elsewhere, so I’m not going to get into it here, but suffice it to say, it’s a myth too.
#2: The Goal of Evangelism
As a culture, we don’t really care about faith/spirituality/belief actually changing our lives. We just want to know how to get to Heaven. What’s the one thing we have to do to cross from “Death into Life”?
I think many of us have adopted this mentality in how we preach the gospel to others. Is the goal of evangelism conversion and subsequent salvation? Or is the goal of evangelism an altered lifestyle? I believe it is the latter.
I believe that our culture is constantly trying to hit home runs in our evangelism when we should be focusing on hitting singles. When we preach or interact with others, are we trying to convert and save them? Or are we engaging them relationally in a new lifestyle?
Relationships aren’t about home runs. It’s done over time. Gradually. Stringing singles and walks together instead.
I love this analogy, but the exact opposite happened in the game yesterday. The only runs scored were off of HRs, and not a single run was scored by stringing singles together. So that’s hilarious, so never mind. We’ll revisit this idea somewhere else probably.
#3: The Purpose of the Ten Commandments
Ozzie Guillen was the White Sox manager from 2004-2011. When he was in Chicago, he had a list of phrases he called “Grinder Rules”, and the Sox have posted these phrases all around the ballpark. Here’s a sampling…
- Win, or die trying.
- Everything pitch is full count.Every inning, the ninth. Every game, game seven.Be a man. Play like a boy.
- Ixnay on talkin’ about the ayoffsplay.
- Pitch. Hit. Win. Repeat.
- Crying in baseball is acceptable only if champagne burns your eyes.
- Taste victory and be hungry forever.
- Respect the past, people that are shoeless, and anyone named Joe.
There are many, many more, and they’re all full of Ozzie’s goofy yet competitive attitude. They’re a way of playing the game. A way of approaching the game they get paid to play. These phrases define an era of White Sox Baseball.
And it reminds me of the Ten Commandments. Well, I should say the 613 commandments, because thats how many there actually are in the Torah.
The Torah is the Law of Moses. The first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
When we read these 613 commandments, we often see a list of rules and regulations. A list of Dos and Don’ts. Legalism, even. But that’s not the goal of the Ten Commandments and Torah at all.
The goal of Torah is to maintain right relationship with God and others. It’s not about following the rules; it’s about our connection with our friends, our enemies and our God.
Every ball club has their “Way” of playing the game. The Cardinal Way. The Yankee Way. The Ranger Way. The White Sox Way. Each “Way” calls the players to a certain lifestyle.
The Way of God calls followers to a lifestyle of right relationship.
Just a few connections I started thinking about yesterday. Obviously incomplete, but we’re leaving for Milwaukee in 10 minutes and I gotta wrap this post up ASAP.
Chris Sale started for the White Sox and really only made one mistake the whole evening – gave up a 2 run HR to Adam Rosales in the 2nd inning. Bummer we had to see one of Sale’s 2 losses on the year.
Rosales hit another HR off the Sox bullpen in the 7th. Dayan Viciedo hit a solo shot for the Sox in the bottom half of the inning to make it 3-1 Rangers and that’s all the scoring that took place.
Double plays were killer for the Sox. They got the lead off man on in 4 consecutive innings and couldn’t score any of those frames. Three DPs led to 0 runs.
Stinks to see another loss. But let’s be honest, I’m not a Sox fan.
Twenty-one down. Nine to go.
Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers.