I’m a Texas Rangers baseball fan. And I’m not watching Game 7 tonight. Here’s why:
On June 18, 1997, the Rangers faced the Colorado Rockies. The Rangers (who started Darren Oliver) took a 10-7 lead into the bottom of the 9th inning. In comes John Wetteland to close the game and get the save. Wetteland followed with a terrible outing, giving up 3 hits and a walk to load the bases. He then walked in the winning (or losing) run. The Rangers blew a lead and lost one of 162 games. The Ranger players went from there, got cleaned up, ate dinner, got a team flight to their next opponent’s city and went to bed.
But not me.
I stewed over the loss. I recounted in detail every pitch and at bat from the 9th inning. I obsessed over the borderline calls from the umpire. I replayed each swing and thought about what should have happened. I didn’t sleep that night thinking about the Texas Rangers.
About 3am, the realization came to me: Somewhere along the way, I gave my passion to something that could never love me back. I cared more about Rangers Baseball than I did about God’s mission on this world and my involvement in God’s mission. In a holy moment, I found for me some sanity and peace. I had to step back from this addiction if I wanted to be better follower of Jesus.
My Rangers consumption reduced. My baseball fever declined in the following years. (Living without ESPN for 4 years made it hard to follow baseball religiously.) I got to where I enjoyed following the Rangers from a safety buffer of box scores and live updates rather than joining in the TV crowds.
And besides, I found that whenever I watched the Rangers they did very poorly.
Last night, when the Rangers had a 3 run lead late in the game, I decided it was okay to turn on the TV. Big Mistake. I went to bed late, and when I got in bed, I couldn’t sleep. I thought of Cruz misjudging the ball in the 9th, the managerial decisions late in the game, the inevitability of the Cards win, and all of those things. If only, if only, if only. It was June 18, 1997 all over again. That part of me that wants to tie my identity, self-worth, and self-esteem to a team of men who don’t know me, don’t love me, and play for “my team” because they get paid, is still there. I’m not watching Game 7 because I don’t trust my heart to not allow this game to encroach on the part of me that is reserved for the things that can love me back like my family, my faith community, and my heavenly Father.
What I am not saying:
- I am not saying you shouldn’t watch the game. I am saying I shouldn’t watch the game.
- I am not saying all sports are always bad. I am saying pay attention to what possesses your passion.
- I am not saying the Rangers won’t win. I am saying they have a much better chance without me watching.
And that should make all Ranger fans really happy. Go Rangers. I won’t be watching.