My efforts to get to a Texas Rangers baseball game this past weekend and then continuing to cheer for them as they squandered what seemed to be their destiny as three-peat American League West champs provided more lessons than I care to count or have time to write about right now. In fact, I don't have time to write about any of them, I realize as I look at the clock.
But I have to write something. So I'll go with this for now:
The Rangers collapsed at the end of the season, just enough to miss out on winning the American League West pennant. They are in the playoffs, which starts with a one-game wild-card match, for the chance to play a series with the top seed. (In an interesting twist, they will be playing Baltimore, a team with a roster filled with Rangers rejects and managed by one, as well. This may not bode well with the way things are going!) The Rangers needed two wins in their final six games to win the pennant, and they only came up with one win. It's one thing when a team lets a championship get away because of injuries or another team playing better. But watching these games, it looked like the Rangers lacked focus. They had chances to win almost every game and squandered the opportunity. What is up with that?
The thing about me and sports, though, is that one way I justify watching them is to take away life lessons. One of my lessons from the Rangers' last 10 games or so is that I have no control over what the players or the manager do. There were some decisions that for the life of me I cannot figure out what they were thinking -- were they thinking at all? It looked like the manager had lost his mind a couple of times -- but that's how baseball goes. I have no control over their decisions or actions. But I do have control over mine.
One of the glaring miscues Wednesday was when former MVP outfielder Josh Hamilton missed a routine catch, allowing two runs to score. Over this troublesome span for the Rangers, this once-sharp player just hasn't been with it. Wednesday's gaffe was painful to be watch.
But I was quickly aware of my own missed catch from the night before. I am a copy editor, and before I left work Wednesday, I saw that there was a correction being printed on a story that had been edited Tuesday and was in Wednesday's paper. A reporter had written billion instead of million in the first paragraph. And -- you guessed it -- it was a story I edited. In my defense, I can say the deadline had been crazy and I didn't have time to think about each detail as much as I would have liked. But I do remember thinking: "Billion? Hmm. That sure seems high." When I read the rest of the story, I was able to rationalize it could be right. I didn't work out the math, but I decided to trust the reporter and think, yeah, that might work.
When the newspaper makes mistakes, we run corrections. The mistake wasn't my fault, but a part of my job in which I take pride is making great catches. (I did make at least two otber significant ones that night.) But I feel as if I blew a great chance. I hope that rather than become paranoid, I can redouble my focus and follow through when I have questions.
The second takeaway is that even though the Rangers blew the race for the pennant -- which would have earned them a tangible title that couldn't be taken away even if they crumble in the playoffs -- they do have a second chance for what may have been their bigger goal this season: Winning the World Series. It looks like a very long shot, but the last two years, when the Rangers were in the Series but didn't win, the title went to teams that started as wild cards. I won't list here the multiple reasons why the Rangers' situation this year is much less promising or inspiring than those of the Giants in 2010 or the Cardinals in 2011, but the Rangers do still have a chance. At least until tomorrow night, when they play that one-game match.
I get second chances, too. Part of what I don't have time to go into right now are events of the weekend that included some miscues on my part. I hope to share them soon. Through prayer that helped keep me aware of God's presence as well as attuned to His guidance and strength and protection and security for my life, everything turned out OK. God blesses me when I turn to Him in prayer and seek His guidance and do my best to trust and obey, and in all things praise Him and give Him the glory.
I pray to stay focused on what I can control or at least influence: My actions. My words. My attitude. My prayers.