This past Monday and Tuesday Major League Baseball held its annual All Star Game and Home Run Derby. Known as the mid-summer classic, the All Star Game began in 1933 as a way to unite people with our national pastime in the midst of the great depression. The Home Run Derby, begun in 1985, has proven to be a highlight of the festivities as players from both leagues swing for the fences.
The 2017 event was truly memorable in several ways. First, the clash of the baseball titans, Yankee right fielder Arron Judge displayed power and ability that has rarely been seen before. Not only did he hit 47 home runs to win the derby, five of these home runs went over 500 feet. The fact the Judge showed poise, humor and humility is astounding enough, but when you add the fact that he is still a rookie makes his accomplishment even more amazing.
The All Star Game on Tuesday began with a wonderful tribute to the Latin players who achieved recognition as members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Their struggles and success not only brought back memories for me watching them as a child, but is inspiring for me as an adult. This tribute spoke volumes to the equality and inclusion the sport of baseball has shown since Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947.
The game itself was a pitchers classic with the American league winning with a home run by Seattle’s Robinson Cano in the 10th inning. The game proved the adage: “Good pitching wins out over good hitting.” Seeing all the talent and inclusion of people from around the world is inspiring and give hope, I believe, to a world so divided.
Now, you are probably wondering where is he going with all this baseball stuff? Well, for me the most dramatic moment of these events occurred in the middle of the fifth inning when everyone (and I mean everyone) in the stands, on the field, in the dugout and the broadcasting booths stood up with signs with names of moms and dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends; teammates, coaches and mentors who have battled and are battling cancer. With complete silence in the stadium, each person reverently stood up and held their sign with love and respect. In the midst of a game, baseball players and its fans took time to stand up against this hideous disease that has taken the lives of those we love and admire. Not only did Major League Baseball stand up against cancer, but they have raised millions of dollars to fight this disease.
In life, we are sometimes so busy running the bases of success, opportunity, work, fun and responsibilities that we fail to stop to stand up for and against the things in life that ultimately matter. As a follower of Jesus Christ it is imperative that we stand up from time to time against evil, sin, selfishness, lack of respect, poverty, prejudice and a host of other human conditions that limit human potential that does not respect the dignity of every human being. At the same time, we are called to stand up for human rights, equality and fairness. Our baptismal covenant implores us to stand up for our neighbors who are oppressed, mistreated and denied basic human dignity.
What I appreciated most about the “Stand Up for Cancer” campaign of the major leagues is that it widens the view beyond the field of play to the realities taking place in a broken, often hostile world. My hope for all of us is that we do not get consumed with the game that we fail to stand up for what really matters!