Wed., Oct. 24, 2018
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.
They were the Cinderella team that just didn’t quite make it.
When the World Series begins tonight, we, in Wisconsin, will be a little sad. We were so hopeful this would be the year the Brewers would finally make it back to the World Series. It didn’t happen. They lost the National Championship in game 7.
The last time the Brew Crew was in the World Series? Almost a lifetime ago in 1982. Die-hard Brewers fans remember Harvey’s Wallbangers: Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Jimmie Gantner and others. Who can forget pitcher Rollie Finger’s infamous handlebar mustache?
This year, Wisconsin fans have been rooting for the Brewers like crazy. They were not the first pick to make it to the World Series. They are too small of a market, don’t have a big enough payroll and aren’t a long-standing powerhouse team. The team is known for their famous race between various locally produced sausages between innings than their post-season playoff record. Or Bernie the Brewer’s really cool slide he takes a trip down when the home team scores a homerun.
As much as they wanted to prove to the rest of the baseball world they were good enough to make a deep run, it just didn’t quite happen.
The team is coached by a former Brewer, Craig Counsell, who grew up going to Brewers games with his Dad. Counsell used some unorthodox strategy all year, which became more interesting during the playoffs. Every game was unpredictable. Counsell stuck with his game plan, even when others thought this strategy was crazy.
Hubby Rick has been a Brewers fan for years. I mean years. I don’t have to watch the games. I often get a play-by-play of the previous night’s game at 4 or 5 AM when he gets home from work. Is it really important to know how many innings Josh Hader pitched or how many times Christian Yelich got on base as the horizon dawns into a new day? Rick thought this was important pillow talk as he wound down after his night shift. As it became possible for the Brewers to win their division coming into October, dinners were ate around the coffee table with the game on TV. If I wanted quality time with my hubby, it meant sitting with him while he anticipated who would be brought up from the bullpen.
Why was this Brewer team different from the last 35 teams? I’m no baseball expert, but in my uneducated observations, these guys love to play baseball. In the movie “The Rookie,” Dennis Quaid plays a high school science teacher/varsity baseball coach. Quaid’s character, Jim Morris upholds a promise made to his team and tries out for the pros. Now on the farm team, the team drives from game to game on a bus. Morris is surrounded with guys about half his age. When the team bemoans another game in a no-name town, Quaid reminds them with a huge smile on his face, “We get to play baseball.”
This Brewers group has kept this same excitement connected to their love of the game. They were fun to watch, whether you are a Brewers fan or not.
Another reason for success: teamwork. Every professional sports team preachs teamwork. Some have it. Some wished they had it. This team was committed to Coach Counsell’s strategy and game plan. They lived out Counsell’s mantra to “stay connected.” Day in and out, these guys understood that they each had a role to play. And they played it. If a guy wasn’t hitting well, he was sent to the farm team to get his swing worked out. Sometimes, a pitcher was brought in to pitch only to one batter. Most would say this strategy was crazy. The pitchers seemingly accepted their roles and didn’t want to let the team down. There was a different vibe in the locker room.
I pray these guys have “stayed connected” this week. Disappointed, but guys who want to be friends off the field. Ready to pick each other up and carry them along while so many question Councell’s strategy.
Faith communities have plenty to learn from the Brewers. “Staying connected” is an important and long-term viable necessity for churches and denominations. Doing things for the love of God is a long-term requirement as well. Too often, we focus on other things than focusing on these two simple yet profound core values.
Rick is having to find some new pillow talk topics for when he gets home at 5 AM. Yet, I know he and many others will be talking about the Brewers until spring training starts next spring.
For the example of team work and love of the game, I am grateful.
Almighty God – I pray we can see places outside of the church that inspire us inside the church. May we, as faith community members, also be great encouragements for families, groups and individuals. Amen.
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