Baseball’s regular season is right around the corner, and no other sport seems to lend itself to spiritual applications than America’s pastime. In this collection of thirty devotionals, Del Duduit and others collect stories from the diamond and relate them to one’s faith journey. The devotions are encouraging, and many of them would work well as illustrations in sermons.
Like any book, there are positive and negative aspects in Dugout Devotions. There is a proper emphasis on the importance of relying on the Word rather than just feelings (2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, there is the contradictory mention of a player who thought the Lord “tapped…him on the shoulder.” In another place, a devotional makes reference to the reader “really feel(ing) God calling you to go on (a mission) trip,” and another talks of a player “receiv(ing) a divine call” about human trafficking.
Many of the entries end with a section called “Step Up To The Plate,” offering suggestions how one might apply the lessons from the devotion. Bible study, prayer, and attendance to worship services are often among the recommendations.
While there are several devotions that discuss a player’s decision to give his life to Christ, there is no mention of how that is done. When one reads the book of Acts and the epistles, the conversion process is on display: one becomes a Christian by hearing the gospel (Romans 10:17), believing it (Romans 10:9-10), repenting of sin (Acts 3:19), confessing one’s belief (Acts 8:37), and being immersed for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). With so much confusion in the religious world, it would be prudent to include such information in any religious book. One cannot decide for himself how he comes to God; only God can tell us how to do that, and He does tell us in His Word.
For readers who are grounded in the truth, these devotions can be encouraging. One must always be careful, though, regardless of the writer, to consistently verify what man writes with what God has revealed. There are a lot of people with good intentions that will end up on the wrong team in eternity because they trusted in man without turning to God’s Word (Matthew 7:13-23).
The writers of the devotions are Del Duduit, Michelle Medlock Adams, Ryan Farr, Beckie Lindsey, Scott McCausey, Clint Rutledge, and Cyle Young. The major leaguer players, coaches, and executives featured are Brian Dozier, Albert Pujols, Ben Zobrist, Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Lindor, Aaron Judge, Andrew McCutchen, Andy Pettitte, Michael Lorenzen, Tony Graffanino, R.A. Dickey, Mike Sarbaugh, Adam Wainwright, Cody Allen, Jim Morris, Mike Matheny, Blaine Boyer, Mike Rikard, Tim Martin, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Frazier.
Albert Pujols became the 32nd major leaguer to collect 3000 hits in a career, joining an esteemed list of individuals such as Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Ichiro Suzuki. He is one of only two active players in the 3000 hit club; Adrian Beltre reached the milestone last July. The only retired members of the 3000 hit club who are not in the Hall of Fame are Pete Rose (permanently banned), Derek Jeter (not eligible until 2020), Alex Rodriguez (not yet eligible and steroid issues), Ichiro Suzuki (not yet eligible), and Rafael Palmeiro (steroid issues).
I thought it would be interesting to go back through the years and see how many teams have won the World Series without a Hall of Fame player (managers are not under consideration). The most recent team to win with a HOFer was the 1996 Yankees with Wade Boggs, but that will change very soon with Pedro Martinez (2004 Red Sox) likely going in next year. Prior to the 1997 Marlins, you have to go back to 1988 to find a Famerless team (though Don Sutton did play part of the year in LA). Two other teams in the 80s accomplished the feat (1984 Tigers and 1981 Dodgers); as far as I can determine no older team won without at least one Hall of Famer on the roster.
Below are the Famerless World Series winners. Player names in italics are potential future Famers in my opinion. While the Giants and Red Sox and even the ’08 Phillies have a few that could one day be considered Cooperstown worthy, it is doubtful anyone from the 2002 Angels squad will be enshrined.
- 2013 Red Sox
- 2012 Giants
- 2011 Cardinals (Albert Pujols)
- 2010 Giants
- 2009 Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera)
- 2008 Phillies
- 2007 Red Sox (Curt Schilling)
- 2006 Cardinals (Pujols, Scott Rolen)
- 2005 White Sox (Paul Konerko) (* Frank Thomas was with the team, but did not play in the postseason. Can’t remember why, injury maybe?)
- 2004 Red Sox (Schilling, Martinez)
- 2003 Marlins (Miguel Cabrera)
- 2002 Angels
- 2001 Diamondbacks (Schilling, Randy Johnson)
- 2000 Yankees (Jeter, Rivera)
- 1999 Yankees (Jeter, Rivera)
- 1998 Yankees (Jeter, Rivera, Tim Raines)
- 1997 Marlins
- 1988 Dodgers (* Sutton played during the season, but was released in August)
- 1984 Tigers (Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Jack Morris)
- 1981 Dodgers (dare I say Steve Garvey?)
Of course, the Dodgers had Tom Lasorda and the Tigers had Sparky Anderson leading them to the promised land, so even without any future Famers in the field, the teams had brilliant minds in the dugout.
Because 500 still means something when it is done the right way. I hadn’t intended to commemorate special events this season, but Albert Pujols connecting for the 500th home run of his career on Tuesday night was a pretty big deal. I felt like I owed it to him and to history to make a special card for the event.
Jim Thome was the most recent to reach the milestone cleanly, but there was not a great deal of fanfare when he did it. When Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th, he was actually booed because of the unethical way he did it.
It used to mean more, but it still means something. It has to. Because if it doesn’t mean something, then neither does baseball. Will we ever get back to the way it was? No, but we still have the 500 home run club, and even if there are a few bad apples in the club (seven by my count), that doesn’t mean the whole thing is meaningless.
Congratulations, Albert Pujols.
I had no idea what to expect when I plugged in the numbers for first basemen. I couldn’t even guess at a top five list, except to say that Lou Gehrig would likely be near the top. When all the statistics were plugged into the spreadsheet, Gehrig (294.01) was near the top, but not at the #1 position. That spot was claimed by Jimmie Foxx (294.89), who beat out the Iron Horse by .88 points. This was easily the closest contest at any position.
However, it is likely that the #1 position will be claimed by another player in the very near future. Albert Pujols (285.0), with only twelve years in the majors, is at #3 on the list, behind both Foxx and Gehrig by less than 10 points. Just one monster season with an MVP award could push Pujols to the top.
Pete Rose (253.18) falls in at the #4 spot. Now, before you start yammering on about how Rose spent most of his time in the outfield, let me point out that he split that time between the three outfield spots. Rose played more games at first base than he did in left field, right field, or center field. Thus, he is included here for the sake of putting him somewhere. That is the same reason Joe Torre was included among the catchers yesterday. Had Torre been thrown in among first baseman, his 206.33 score would put him at #15 all-time, just below Willie McCovey and ahead of Hall of Famers Roger Connor and Orlando Cepeda.
The number five guy threw me off. I knew Eddie Murray (248.5) was great, but the fifth best first baseman ever? Who else saw that coming? For a long time he was an American Leaguer overshadowed by his teammate at shortstop and then bounced around quite a bit during the second half of his career, so it’s not difficult to overlook him in that regard. But you would think that a member of the 500 home run club would be a little more celebrated by baseball fans. Thankfully, the writers were paying attention and allowed him first-ballot entry into Cooperstown in 2003.
Besides Rose and Pujols, there are three other non-Hall of Famers in the top ten: the should-be-inducted-next-year Frank Thomas (#6, 241.48), the unfairly-treated-because-of-unfounded-suspicions Jeff Bagwell (#8, 234.71), and the still-employed-though-mostly-just-a-designated-hitter Jim Thome (#9, 225.5). The other two spots in the top ten go to Cap Anson (#7, 238.74) and Harmon Killebrew (#10, 220.02).
Take away the awards, and again the order gets mixed up and #10 drops off the list. Without awards and All-Star seasons, the top ten reads Gehrig, Foxx, Anson, Pujols, Murray, Thome, Rose, Bagwell, Thomas, and Hall of Famer Roger Connor. On both lists, Tony Perez comes in at #11.
The biggest question of the off-season for the baseball fan has been, “Where will Albert Pujols play in 2012?” Most were fairly certain that he would re-sign with St. Louis, because he looks so good in red. But maybe he’ll go to Miami, where the Marlins are spending money like it’s going out of style. There is always the chance he will end up playing his home games at the Friendly Confines, too. And of course, the Yankees have all the money. Where do you think he will go? Would you even want him on your favorite team?
Congratulations are in order to the Texas Rangers for making the World Series this year. I suppose the same should be said for the St. Louis Cardinals, even though they shouldn’t have been in the playoffs to begin with.
Has the Wild Card team ever had homefield advantage in the World Series? Bud Selig, you’re such a misunderstood genius.
A couple of years ago, I made a post of zombiefied players from the Phillies and Yankees, who would be facing off in the World Series. I thought I would bring back that theme after watching the killer season 2 premiere of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. What a fantastic show. If you haven’t seen it, check out season 1 (only six episodes, streaming on Netflix now) and find a find a friend who DVR’d the season 2 premiere before next Sunday night.
Want to play around with your own zombifications? Zombieland is your one-stop site for all things reanimated.
The Cardinals are, at this moment, one of the most reviled team in the majors to me. They are division rivals with my team, the Cincinnati Reds, and often pose a real threat to the Reds postseason chances. I don’t feel the same animosity toward the Brewers or the Pirates or the Astros. But with this fan pack, my ill feelings towards the Cardinals are lessened…slightly.
Here’s their score:
The inclusion of pocket schedule(s) = 1 point (featuring Albert Pujols)
Stickers = 1
Baseball cards = 2 (featuring Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright)
High-quality promotional items = 1 (temporary tattoo to support the Prostate Cancer Foundation)
Other stuff = 1 (thank you postcard, brochure for the Cardinals Crew Kids Club, brochure for the Cardinals Community Fund)
Timeliness = 10 points
TOTAL SCORE = 16 POINTS
Yes, I’m busy packing…or finding excuses to avoid packing…but I had to take a little time out to pay tribute to the Reds’ Joey Votto, who was awarded the NL MVP in a big way…31 out of 32 first place votes! I started to get a little doubty on Sunday when the B-R blog asked who should win and the vote was closer than I thought it should have been, but I believe the BBWAA got it right by selecting Votto-matic over Albert Pujols.
Yes, Pujols had a great year, and he is a great player. One of the all-time greats if you ask me. But this year belonged to Cincinnati.
The rosters were announced today for the MLB All-Star Game. I don’t know if I could be any less excited. No Griffey, no Soriano, no Hanigan. What’s to root for? A few of my AL votes got in: Ichiro, Hamilton, Mauer, and Longoria. Don’t yell at me for voting for Hamilton. I don’t care if he has been out injured. He’s one of my few favorites left in the bigs, he’s going to get my vote. Same with Griffey. He will always get my vote, as long as his name is on the ballot.
In the NL, I got nothing. Zero. Zilch. Of course, I voted for all Reds and Cubs, both of whom really stink this year. Yeah, I should have voted for Pujols, since he is the best player in the game today. There’s no discussion there. I’m not a fan of Big Al, but I can’t deny his amazing talent either. He is simply the best. But he’s no Votto. (Again, I don’t care if he has been out injured [or whatever]. He’s going to get my vote.)
What really hurts is the reserves. The Reds lone representative: reliever Francisco Cordero.
A reliever? Give me a break. The most ridiculous position in the sport, and that’s the only Cincinnati player TPTB deemed worthy of All-Star status. (No offense to Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton.)
I really wanted Ryan Hanigan to get the nod, even though I knew he wouldn’t. But a guy can dream, can’t he?
Oh well. I’m working the night of the game, so probably won’t get to see much of it anyway. And it really doesn’t matter much, since I wouldn’t recognize most of the players on the field.