Saints in the Outfield

Alright friends buckle up. I’m about to make a sports analogy…

 

For.                The.                Entire.           Post.

 

To be fair, I do not get credit for this glorious comparison (Megan, you are the bee’s knees). But hey, look at me, sporting. It is a miraculous day. Anyway…

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Baseball. America’s favorite past time. I’ve been to three games since I’ve been home. Granted those were little league but my cousins crushed it. That’s more than I can say about a few of the Brewers games I have watched since being back. Other than attending the occasional baseball or hockey game, I don’t participate in sports often. I enjoy the socializing that takes place but I just don’t get the fanatical aspect. I could stand on a soapbox for hours and argue about how the salaries of professional athletes could be put to better use. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to talk about statistics. That’s right, sports and math in one blog. There is a good chance the world will be ending later today.

Despite my lack of sports know how, there are a few things I do know. Primarily the funny clichés and other odd ball phrases that are used during the game. I used to go to games with the most wonderful family who would yell things like, “Shred his lettuce!” and “Fold his chair!” Honestly, I cannot imagine anything more delightful to be hollered from the stands. I adored this family and their creativity. Slightly more common baseball lingo includes the phrase, batting a thousand. And herein lies my point.

Today at work Megan enlightened me on the statistical significance of this particular phrase. I was aware that batting a thousand means you are perfect. What I didn’t know is that bating three hundred is what is expected of professional players. That means that they are getting on base 30% of the time. 30% of the time! When I was in school my parents were disappointed with 70% and yet here are people making careers out of getting it right 30% of the time. Amazing. Outstanding. What a concept. These players are far from perfect, so why should I be?   Why should you be?

This is shocking for me and my ego. My last post demonstrated how my ego tends to get in the way from time to time. My ego and my quest for perfection can be crippling. But what if I was kinder to myself? What if I gave myself a break 70% of the time? Where would I be? Well, I’d be a saint.

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Located in Saint Paul Minnesota, the Saints are a baseball team that is a member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. While they are not associated with Major League Baseball, they have a history that is grounded in fun (Bill Murry is their Team Psychologist for crying out loud). These men are all striving for 30%. 30%?  Can you believe how often it is acceptable for them to fail?  Except these men have “Saint” splashed across their chests. Now I know this is not a comparison they are asking for but I’m going to make it anyway.

Here are these men, fully devoted to their cause and putting in more than a good effort to be worthy of the honor of being a professional athlete in today’s hyper-competitive world. And yet they will fail.  Is that not what a saint is? A good person. A holy person. A person who is declared to be worthy of special honor particularly in the Christian church, one who is trying to be good, but who may get it wrong more often than they get it right. Perhaps I’m over generalizing. But here are these baseball saints doing all they can to reach and potentially exceeded a measly 30% and they will move on to bigger and better things.

 Learn more about   Discovery House  , a Gap Year experience for participants between the ages of 18-24.

Learn more about Discovery House, a Gap Year experience for participants between the ages of 18-24.

What I find even more interesting is what happens when players cannot reach this number. Baseball players are notoriously superstitious. Many have incredibly intricate practices that they follow to ensure they do their best. When that isn’t result, they slip deep into funks that are irreversible until the next big hit. If I’m being honest (and perhaps over generalizing again) that is not far from how I practice my faith. I have intricate practices and perform them as a member of the Catholic Church. These have become fundamentally important to who I am as a person. I do my best to live out my beliefs knowing that I am human and will fail to live up to these from time to time. Even knowing this, I am still not happy unless I am batting a thousand and being the perfect disciple.

I ask myself again, what if I was kinder to myself? What if I gave myself a break 70% of the time? Where would I be? I probably would not be a saint or a professional athlete but other things would change. Perhaps I would not be submitting this blog late. After my last post, I got some really good feedback from a few of the people whose opinions I value the most. When it came time to write this month’s entry, I choked. What if they didn’t like this one as much? What if no one had ever really liked my posts? What if Meagan reads this and thinks I butchered her idea and my comparisons to the church are horrendous? What if I just think I’m good at this and I’m really a self-indulgent ninny? And the tailspin continued.

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.
— Hank Aaron

What I need to remember is none of that matters. Just like my fears about practicing my faith in community again, they are ill-founded and just not the point. If I celebrated my 30% instead of wallowing in my remaining 70%, my outlook would be drastically different. Take these blog posts for example. Up until this very moment, I have written 3,502 words for the Human Experience Blog. That means at least 2,451 of my words need to have struck a chord with someone. And thanks to a few lovely and vocal people, I know I’ve already done that. Touchdown! Wait, I’m getting my sports confused.

God does not expect me to be perfect in my faith.  I do not have to knock it out of the park, but if I can love others and myself more; worry less about the reactions of others then I can be just like the Saint Paul Saints.  My (and your task) is to put every effort into being my best:  loving others, loving myself and loving God.  I can do that. I can do that at more than 30% of the time. In baseball that makes me an all-star. In faith, it is what makes us saints!

 

Questions for Reflection

  • How have your attempts at perfection kept you from God?

  • What strategies will challenge you to keep trying even when you have failed and feel frustrated?

  • What do you need to forgive in yourself?

 
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Margaret Russell is an almost thirty something who has looked for God just about everywhere – even China. Nothing about her journey has been traditional and it turns out that is exactly how it was supposed to be. She thinks. Maybe. With a background in education, a self-awarded doctoral degree in tacos and a propensity for the ridiculous, Maggie hopes to spend the rest of her life loving as loudly as she laughs and sharing the joy that is her faith.