Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let's Hear It for the Team

For the first time in their team's history, the Texas Rangers will play in the World Series! I watched the pennant-clinching Game 6 win over the New York Yankees on television last night, and then tried to catch all the post-game interviews on three different stations airing from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I've read much of what I could find online today about the American League Championship Series and the players', fans', management's and various others' reactions. I love watching and reading that stuff.

I've never been to a Rangers game. I've watched many on TV, listened to quite a few on the radio and sometimes even followed online using the GameDay or whatever that tracker is. I probably could have gone to a game or two this year, but I didn't want to jinx a season that seemed to have so much promise. (I know my going or not going doesn't really affect how a team performs, but I also know that more than one sports team has had a negative turnaround after I got my hopes up and climbed on the bandwagon. I realize that negative turnaround might have happened even if I hadn't boarded the bandwagon, but I didn't want to take a chance at the jinx. I haven't even bought any Rangers gear, although I'm grateful to a friend who brought me a plastic cup from RBiA after he went to a game. When the season is over, I WILL by a shirt.)

I enjoy watching the sports action, whether it be baseball, football or basketball, but what I can really get caught up in are the backstories. (Sometime maybe I'll write about how I first really started following the Rangers; it had to do with pitcher Kenny Rogers, but it was long after his perfect game.) Anyway, this year there were so many stories. But what comes through loud and clear, including in the post-game comments, was how much this team is about teamwork and not individual stars. The media keeps putting the spotlight on Josh Hamilton, Cliff Lee, Michael Young or various others at various times, but throughout the season, the one being focused on would not allow the attention to just be on him. And it happened again last night.

Hamilton was sheepishly humble in accepting the ALCS MVP award, which even Mrs. Gene Autry, who had some honorary position that allowed her to do the honors, said could have gone to any number of valuable Rangers. Asked to say what it meant to him, Josh -- a baseball phenom turned drug addict whose well-documented story shows he might not be alive much less playing baseball at a high level if not for the saving grace of God and some faithful Christians who helped Josh find that salvation -- first quietly but firmly insisted that the glory go to God. And then he said he had to talk about his teammates. When he did finally talk about himself, it sounded like a humility that could not be faked. At the end of that or another interview, he said softly as he looked at the plaque that he was still trying to figure out why he had it. I'm pretty sure God knows the answer to that. (An interesting aside is that if you didn't watch some of Josh's interviews live, you might wonder whether he still is giving the glory to God. That part often gets left out of the write-ups and video compilations.)

I know from experience as well as from observation that it's hard to hang on to humility. (I've even heard of situations recently in which it seems possible that even respected spiritual leaders -- yes, pastors -- might be struggling with that.) It can be hard individually and as a team, especially when you're winning or losing. (That's kinda meant as a joke!) In everything said by the Rangers team members during the pennant race run through the playoffs and now entering the World Series, the focus has remained on teamwork and, in the words they've learned so well from manager Ron Washington, in playing the game of baseball as it's presented to them each day. These guys seem to have genuine love (brotherly/good friendship love) and respect for each other. And that's so much fun to watch. And it's fun to see it be rewarded with wins.

So, let's hear it for the team: Congratulations, Texas Rangers!

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