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.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the final nine 2014 TWJ baseball cards are in the books (the last two were uploaded this morning). The virtual set consists of 260 base cards, twenty-eight highlights, and an eighteen-card All-Star subset. The final nine were highlights, featuring each league’s Most Valuable Player (Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw), Cy Young (Corey Kluber and Kershaw), Manager of the Year (Matt Williams and Buck Showalter), and Rookie of the Year (Jacob deGrom and Jose Abreu) Award winners, and a special World Champions card for the San Francisco Giants featuring Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and his catcher Buster Posey.
I liked the 2014 TWJ set, and enjoyed producing these cards. I’m still tinkering with a design for 2015 and some possible subsets for the off-season. I hope you enjoyed it as well.
The full set (as well as previous years’ sets and subsets) can be viewed at TWJ cards on tumblr.
The BBWAA finally got it right in the American League, unanimously crowning Mike Trout as the Most Valuable Player in 2014. In addition to his BBWAA hardware, the slugging outfielder takes home his second virtual trophy from the blogging community in 2014; he was named Rookie of the Year in 2012. He may have won an award in 2013 as well, had the chairman of the BBBWARAOAAE remembered to send out the ballots. Trout is only the tenth player ever to be listed first on all BBWAA ballots for the MVP; Albert Pujols was the last unanimous winner in 2009 for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was one vote away from unanimity from the BBBWARAOAAE as well; one voter listed Chicago rookie Jose Abreu above Trout.
In the National League, the debate whether a pitcher should win MVP raged on, but in the end both the BBWAA and the BBBWARAOAAE selected Clayton Kershaw as the Most Valuable Player. Hotly contested until the very end of the season, Giancarlo Stanton‘s injuries may have cost him the award. Of course, the early season front-runner was Troy Tulowitzki; no BBBWARAOAAE listed the shortstop on their ballot, but one kind BBWAA member recognized Tulo and listed him in last place.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
|1. Mike Trout||18||94||420 (1)|
|2. Victor Martinez||–||36||229 (2)|
|3. Jose Abreu||1||24||145 (4)|
|4. Robinson Cano||–||16||124 (6)|
|5. Michael Brantley||–||13||185 (3)|
|6. Nelson Cruz||–||12||102 (7)|
|7. Josh Donaldson||–||11||96 (8)|
|8. Felix Hernandez||–||10||48 (10)|
|9. Miguel Cabrera||–||7||82 (9)|
|10. Jose Altuve||–||6||41 (13)|
|11t. Corey Kluber||–||4||45 (11)|
|11t. Jose Bautista||–||4||128 (5)|
|13t. Alex Gordon||–||2||44 (12)|
|13t. Adam Jones||–||2||34 (14)|
|15t. Steve Pearce||–||1||n/a|
|15t. Kyle Seager||–||1||1 (20)|
|15t. Adrian Beltre||–||1||22 (15)|
|x. Greg Holland||–||n/a||13 (16)|
|x. Albert Pujols||–||n/a||5 (17)|
|x. Howie Kendrick||–||n/a||3 (18t)|
|x. James Shields||–||n/a||3 (18t)|
NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
|1. Clayton Kershaw||12||77||355 (1)|
|2. Giancarlo Stanton||5||56||298 (2)|
|3. Andrew McCutchen||1||53||271 (3)|
|4. Jonathan Lucroy||–||13||167 (4)|
|5. Anthony Rendon||–||7||155 (5)|
|6t. Johnny Cueto||–||3||22 (12)|
|6t. Anthony Rizzo||–||3||37 (10)|
|6t. Buster Posey||–||3||152 (6)|
|9t. Yasiel Puig||–||2||8 (19t)|
|9t. Justin Morneau||–||2||2 (23t)|
|9t. Carlos Gomez||–||2||13 (16)|
|12t. Devin Mesoraco||–||1||5 (21)|
|12t. Ben Revere||–||1||n/a|
|x. Adrian Gonzalez||–||n/a||57 (7)|
|x. Adam Wainwright||–||n/a||53 (8)|
|x. Josh Harrison||–||n/a||52 (9)|
|x. Hunter Pence||–||n/a||34 (11)|
|x. Russell Martin||–||n/a||21 (13)|
|x. Matt Holliday||–||n/a||17 (14t)|
|x. Jhonny Peralta||–||n/a||17 (14t)|
|x. Justin Upton||–||n/a||10 (17)|
|x. Jayson Werth||–||n/a||9 (18)|
|x. Denard Span||–||n/a||8 (19t)|
|x. Lucas Duda||–||n/a||3 (22)|
|x. Freddie Freeman||–||n/a||2 (23t)|
|x. Dee Gordon||–||n/a||1 (25t)|
|x. Troy Tulowitzki||–||n/a||1 (25t)|
The unanimous winner of the National League Cy Young Award presented by the BBWAA was also the unanimous selection of the BBBWARAOAAE. Clayton Kershaw‘s lights-out performance on the mound made him the clear winner in the Senior Circuit. The BBWAA and BBBWARAOAAE results matched up the top six pitchers in the League: Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner, Jordan Zimmerman and Cole Hamels.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD
|1. Clayton Kershaw||20||100||210 (1)|
|2. Johnny Cueto||–||61||112 (2)|
|3. Adam Wainwright||–||46||97 (3)|
|4. Madison Bumgarner||–||14||28 (4)|
|5. Jordan Zimmerman||–||10||25 (5)|
|6. Cole Hamels||–||7||17 (6)|
|7. Jake Arrieta||–||3||3 (9t)|
|8t. Tanner Roark||–||2||n/a|
|8t. Stephen Strasburg||–||2||3 (9t)|
|10t. Aroldis Chapman||–||1||n/a|
|10t. Doug Fister||–||1||5 (8)|
|10t. Zack Greinke||–||1||6 (7)|
|10t. Craig Kimbrel||–||1||3 (9t)|
|x. Henderson Alvarez||–||n/a||1 (12)|
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD
|1t. Felix Hernandez||10||74||159 (2)|
|1t. Corey Kluber||8||74||169 (1)|
|3. Chris Sale||–||40||78 (3)|
|4. Max Scherzer||–||18||32 (5)|
|5. Jon Lester||–||13||46 (4)|
|6. David Price||–||4||16 (6)|
|7t. Greg Holland||–||2||1 (9)|
|7t. Hisashi Iwakuma||–||2||n/a|
|9t. Dallas Keuchel||–||1||n/a|
|9t. Rick Porcello||–||1||n/a|
|x. Phil Hughes||–||n/a||6 (7)|
|x. Wade Davis||–||n/a||3 (8)|
Sadly, I haven’t been writing much lately. I don’t just mean for the blog, I mean in general. I’ve been going through the motions for the past several weeks, and can’t seem to get out of this funk that I’m in.
Today I turned my attention towards baseball again. Inspired by a 1996 Chicago Cubs team issued card posted by Wrigley Wax earlier today, I retooled the design a bit and came up with my own 2014 TWJ cards. Different fonts, and my players don’t jump out of the borders, but the basic elements are there. Here is my Jay Bruce card:
And to make the comparison more direct, here’s Travis Wood of the Chicago Cubs:
I suppose I’ll fire up the old TWJ cards on tumblr pretty soon. It has been dormant since July. Be sure to follow or subscribe or whatever you’re supposed to do on tumblr (I can’t keep them all straight anymore). In the meantime, here’s one more…2013 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw: