I was privileged this past summer to share Christ on the east coast for a week at a family conference, and when my flight landed in Philadelphia, I bought a paper and discovered that Phillies were in town, playing a night game, and Jamie Moyer (of Mariner fame back in the days when we were good) was going to be pitching. Being the visionary that I am, I pictured myself sitting among Philly fans, eating a cheese steak as I watched my old friend from Seattle pitch.
I arrived at the ballpark, and waited in line for a ticket, disheartened that everyone in front of me was leaving empty handed. But when I told the teller that I only wanted one ticket, she smiled and said, "Good, because that's all we have left - one ticket. Will 10 rows up behind the first base dugout work for you?" I smiled, and soon was enjoying the ambiance of an east coast ball game, as Moyer, an ancient 45 years old, pitched brilliantly for six or seven innings, before leaving to cheering crowds with a solid lead.
Later, at the conference, I discovered that nearly everyone was a fan in same way that everyone was a fan here in Seattle back in the late 90's and early 00's. I discovered that this was a team with a low payroll, and high output. I discovered that this was a team had all the marks of genius assemblage, having been built not just through consideration of talent, but also chemistry and leadership. It was similar to the glory of days of Seattle. I discovered that this magical blend of chemistry and talent had created winners and energized a city, just like Seattle was energized. And then I discovered that they had a new general manager: Pat Gillick - the same 'behind the curtain' guy who built the Mariners during their glory years.
It's Monday, so I'm not going try to build this into some metaphor for the body of Christ. It's enough to just note that, unlike tennis, or cross-country, or golf, baseball is a team sport and in the world of teams, raw talent isn't enough. Just ask the Yankees. There needs to be support, interdependency, and a confidence that, even when a team member is struggling, he'll snap back (as Ryan Howard did last night in best possible way). I'm presently reading a book about how teams can function at their highest level, and realize that I've much to learn. So I'll keep learning, and draw my inspiration for old man Moyer, and genius Gillick in the meantime. Go Phils!