Starting 9 - Freedom
by Keith Wahl
The first member of the Starting 9 is a member of the battery on the mound - the most important part of any team. Freedom is the Starting 9's Pitcher.
Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
I struggle with the “old school” method of passing on wisdom. It seems to me that method says, “Do what I say, when I say it, don’t ask ‘why’, just believe me, and everything will work out.” There may be truth in following people in that way, but asking someone to conform doesn’t speak to the heart of freedom. It feels more like slavery. Forcing people to fit into a certain system or method doesn’t allow a person to experience the freedom that our Father offers us through Christ.
John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
Like Jesus, we should seek spiritual freedom of everyone with whom we come in contact. When we are freed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are called to free other people from the bondage of their chains. Yes, it is true that there is responsibility that comes with our faith, but often times we get so focused on the boundaries that “bound” would be more likely to describe us than “free.”
Consider the six-year MLB career of Trevor Bauer. During his junior year at UCLA (his last in college), Bauer’s stat line included a 13-2 win-loss record, a 1.25 ERA, 10 complete games in 16 starts, 203 strikeouts to only 36 walks, and only 73 hits surrendered in 136.2 innings pitched. Dominant didn’t even begin to describe him. He was a force of nature. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected him with the third overall pick that summer and it seemed that he was on his way to stardom.
Until he wasn’t.
It’s taken one burned bridge in Arizona, and some time for Bauer and the Cleveland Indians to learn about each other before he could unleash the 14-strikeout performance he did this past week. For those who don’t know, Bauer has an extraordinary long toss routine and a dizzying array of pitches. He has referred to himself as “one of most scientific baseball players in MLB.”
When looking at Bauer, it’s important to say that both the system and Bauer are at fault. The system of something as long-standing and powerful as Major League Baseball doesn’t change easily and enforces a “do it like everyone else” mentality. Bauer is a free-speaker whose Twitter rants seem to rival one President Donald J. Trump. Non-conformity can be good, especially when done in a healthy fashion (read Originals by Adam Grant to learn more). There were plenty of opportunities for teams to give in to maintain the integrity of the game, as well as opportunities for Bauer to give in to educate people around him about different ways of thinking.
In her TEDx talk titled “The Surprising Truth About Freedom,” Natalie Sisson outlines some interesting ideas about seeking and finding freedom:
Taking Sisson’s ideas, adapt her three steps to freedom to the game of baseball:
1. Free your mind from conventional ways of playing and approaching the game
2. Do what you love that supports your ideal performance on the field
3. Define your own version of freedom on the field and live it
If you believe like Trevor Bauer does that 400-foot long toss before the game helps you and your pursuit of freedom, go for it. Using steroids or illegal substances…that’s out of bounds. Becoming aware of what frees you up physically, mentally, and physically can be the most important step in your progress to success. You have the right to choose freedom and should pursue that freedom, particularly the freedom offered by the Lord, Jesus Christ.