The other night I watched what could have been the best baseball game I’d ever seen. Not necessarily the best game ever played, I wouldn’t know about that, but perhaps the best game I’ve ever seen.
Game 4 of the National League Championship Series; the San Francisco Giants vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Giants won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. I’m a Giants fan, but acknowledging my bias, the fact that they won is not the reason for my profound appreciation for this particular game. Sure, that was part of it, but it goes beyond the actual lead changes, the ‘come-from-ahead’, and then ‘come-from-behind’ dynamics of the game. It really goes to the triumph and redemption of some disappointing players. It goes to a manager’s belief in some players that the fans, myself included, had lost confidence in. It goes to still believing in somebody when that somebody has not demonstrated recently that he is necessarily someone to be ‘believed in’. It goes to a manager trusting in the players that have been entrusted into his care.
All of the players.
And I believe that is a significant reason why his players are succeeding through some big time underdog adversity.
I do not look for life-lessons in the living of my daily life. I do not necessarily even consciously seek to find the hidden in the, otherwise, transparent. When I watch a baseball game I really just intend to enjoy the game for the intrinsic pleasure of the game itself. But life-lessons present themselves to me wherever I am, in whatever I’m doing, and with whomever I happen to be with at the time. I can’t just turn away from those illuminations as if they were a second helping of banana cream pie. That would be foolish on my part. And, furthermore, it would be hypocritical of me to teach if I am not also willing to learn.
Every family will have its own share of difficulties in life, challenges, and failures, just as every player on a baseball team will throughout the course of a long season. It’s often been said that the very best hitters in the game still fail at least seven out of ten times. A batting average of .333 (three hits out of every ten at-bats) is a phenomenal achievement. Very few All-Stars even have that good of an average. Failure is commonplace, in baseball, and in life.
In game four of the National League Championship Series the manager of the Giants showed confidence in his players, as he’d demonstrated all year, even towards those who had not been doing very well at the time. Two players, in particular, were the glaring recipients of his trust. He did not give up on them. He showed that he believed in them.
Not only did he play them, but he put both of them in the starting lineup as well. It was a profound vote of confidence, and they made the difference in the game.
One of them threw out a runner at the plate from center field, and the other hit a double that drove in two runs. Both plays came at critical times in the game.
Those were redemptive moments for the two players.
A couple of months ago I’d given up on both of them, but their manager showed an unwavering belief in them throughout the season. He rested them when they were struggling, but always brought them back to allow them an opportunity to succeed.
As people struggling to make our way in this world, the odds tilt considerably in our favor when we are shown that same trust and confidence by the people we love.
Even when we might not be at our best.
As of this writing, the Giants are two games up in the best-of-seven-games of the 2010 World Series.
But game four of the National League Championship Series was perhaps the best game that I’ve ever seen.