Last night Dansby Swanson got drafted first overall by Arizona out of Vanderbilt University. As I spent last night watching the super regionals (incredible games with Cal St. Fullerton/Louisville and TCU and Texas A&M) and casually following the first two rounds of the draft, my mind wandered to my playing days, the daydreams I used to have about getting drafted, playing professional baseball, and living the “dream”. It is every players dream to get drafted (or at least it should be), to play baseball for a living, but for many of us the reality sets in and we realize that we might have been good high school or college players, but there are a lot of players a lot better than we are. The reality is that many players view the draft, college scholarships, professional baseball, or even varsity, as their validation of themselves as human beings or that through their accomplishments on the field they “deserve” a certain scholarship, position, salary, etc. How many players around us, how many of us, think that we deserve something from the game? Think that baseball owes us something?
As I think of the dream of baseball, the sense of entitlement that comes through what we accomplish, I am reminded of the story of Job. Job had everything he needed, a family, wealth, health, and comfortable life, and very quickly it was all taken away. If there was someone who “deserved” anything it was Job, the Bible says Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1) Job starts to complain to God about his suffering and God speaks to Job some of the most powerful words in Scripture:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action[a] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
“Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?
“Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth[b] in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts[c]
or given understanding to the mind?[d]
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?
“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?
I normally would not have a whole chapter of the Bible in a blog post, but I think it is critical that we read and digest the Word of God. Baseball is a gift from God to be enjoyed. We are called by God to compete Biblically, to play hard, to respect those around us and to respect the game. We are called to make Jesus famous by the way we play and the way we conduct ourselves, we do not deserve anything. God makes this abundantly clear in Job 38. The next time we start to think that we “deserve” something in life or in baseball, we need to take a step back, evaluate our mindset, and reposition ourselves in a position of thankfulness for the luxury that is baseball. I would venture to say few of us reading this post are as good as Dansby Swanson (if you have watched this postseason you probably agree, dude is good), and yet Dansby Swanson “deserves” nothing in baseball.
As I have spent the past few years with coaches and players around the country and the world I have seen this sense of entitlement creep into many players and teams. As we follow the King of the Universe onto the diamond, let us shun entitlement, accept our shortcomings, accept the reality of our ability and potential, get up from failure, play the game as hard as we can, work to get better, become the best players we can be, and chase the “dream” knowing that the “dream” is not something we deserve, but if we do get the opportunity, let us walking into that praising the King of the Universe who gave a few of us the opportunity. I sincerely hope that many of you get that opportunity, but more than that I hope that all of us who played or are playing grow in our faith and knowledge of God through the game.
Soli Deo gloria