Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walkoff! . . . .

It's early afternoon and I just climbed out of bed a couple of hours ago. I didn't climb into bed until 3am after a long solo drive home from witnessing not only Phillie baseball history, but baseball history. Thanks to an invitation from my long-time friend and fellow Phillie-lover Randy, I was there at midnight when Jimmie Rollins became only the third player in baseball history to hit a walkoff extra-base hit in a post-season game with his team one out away from taking a loss. As a life-long Phillie fan who has died what seems like a million deaths with his team, this was pretty sweet. Add to that fact that last year, thanks to Chris, I was able to be there to see C.C. Sabathia's meltdown in the NLDS against the Phils in another legendary game, and I'm on a streak. I'm not used to this!

In our post-game office debrief of the game (always fun to debrief things with the CPYU staff!), I told them about much more than the deafening - and I mean DEAFENING - roar that followed Rollins' hit. You see, Philly is a very unique place with very unique people who know and love their sports. My eyes and ears were wide open, enjoying the opportunity to soak in some vintage Philly culture on the way to and from the game. After driving from Lancaster to meet Randy in Fort Washington - where I more or less grew up - we drove together to the Fern Rock subway station in North Philly to grab the Phillies Express to Broad and Pattison. . . . an intersection where my life intersected with many, many great sports memories. Having shared a bunch of those memories with Randy during our teenage years made last night extra special. The train was loaded with expectant Phillies fans all decked out in red. Even the couple headed to the Springsteen concert across the street from the ballpark was wearing Phillies gear. Emerging from the subway station onto the street to see the stadium and lights, to hear the sounds, and to smell the smells was awesome. The post-game journey home was the same. Finally, alone in my car heading west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I tuned in to 610 WIP to hear Scott Frantzkee and Larry Anderson's radio call of Rollins' hit. Hearing their excitement, I knew that I had experienced something special that would become another great memory.

But there was something else going on in my head as I exited that stadium and embarked on the drive home. I can't help but think that last night was "the best" for many of the folks who were there. In other words, the game, the team, and the moment were engaged and embraced by folks in a redemptive manner. Hungry for Heaven and yearning for that always elusive something more that fulfills, I wondered how many of those rabid fans believed that if only the Phillies would win. . . then everything in the world would be right. I don't want to take away from the moment. It was absolutely awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. But even before I pulled into my neighborhood at almost 3am, I was aware of the fact that life goes on and that there's nothing in this world that can fix us, heal us, or fulfill our deepest yearnings. Everyone at last night's game had to get out of bed today. And with getting out of bed comes the realization that a victory can't fulfill. The hole in the soul is still there.

And then I thought a little bit more. I am grateful to God for perspective. He is the only one who can redeem. Thanks to His inexplicable grace which He gave to me, I have not only been redeemed, but continue to learn who and what can and can't bring redemption. My buddy Randy knows the same. You see, we grew up together under the tutelage of the same youth pastors who God used to help us gain that perspective. So while we were high-fiving last night along with everyone else in Section 114, something deeper was going on for the two of us. It was great, but there's so much more.

And Doug. . . you looked awesome on the scoreboard screen after Victorino's catch!



Victorino's catch and other memorable moments remind us that life has it's better moments. Unfortunately, until you fill the "hole in the soul" those moments are replaced with gray times and worse. You can spend a lot of time trying to fill that hole--or you can let God's grace fill even more quickly than a Ryan Howard home run leaves Citizen's Bank Park.

joseph said...

Walt, I can't honestly say that I'm happy for you. I grew up in Atlanta, and am one of those people who rejoices anytime the Braves win and/or the Mets/Phillies/Yankees lose. But it has been a good learning experience for me to find out that someone I respect is a Phillie fan, and I can still respect that person. So I guess I can admit that I'm happy that you're happy about the Phils.

However, enjoy it while you can, because the Braves are on the mend. The NL East banner will return to its rightful home next season.

njjim3 said...

it's a good thing you've got perspective walt...especially with the yanks coming your way;)

i had this very conversation with some pastors this week. as a GIANT yanks fan, i've had some great chances to celebrate wins and WS over the last decade. we wondered how often we celebrate new life in heaven like our favorite sports team win. Luke 15 gives us a picture of God's view of which is more important...i pray God continues to open our eyes:)

looking foward to good WS this year~