For this edition of THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS, I wanted to focus on the Spring Training and Opening Day.
Opening Day in Major League Baseball has come and gone which means the spring season and weather is here (or so we thought). While hibernating with these excessive snow storms, I am sure a lot of you began to follow your favorite baseball teams and prospects throughout Spring Training. Some of you probably even dreamed about being in Florida and out of this cold weather. The idea of being outside under the sun, smelling the fresh cut grass, eating a juicy hot dog with all of your favorite condiments, booing/cheering, waving your rally towels, and even hearing that bell being rung after a home run in a ballpark is upon us. Opening Day doesn’t only bring the aforementioned things but also a new season of competition. A new season has a great feeling of excitement because every team starts the season as equals, some players are back from previous injuries, some players and coaches are on a new team, and some prospects will make their debuts. Similarly, during the Lenten Season we began our 40 day journey with Christ to prepare ourselves, better ourselves and better our relationship with the Lord. Easter Day has begun the 50 day Easter Season. During this time of the Easter Season, much like Opening Day and the regular season, we should take what we learned throughout our Lenten journey (Spring Training) and put it to good use with the notion that everything that we do is through God’s will.
Just like the Lenten and Easter seasons, baseball is rich in rituals and symbolism. Some players may wear smelly lucky socks, tie their cleats on a certain way, put a piece of equipment on in a certain sequence, only chew a certain brand of gum, swing the bat a certain way while on the on-deck circle, and there are many more. One ritual in particular that I would suggest to you to pay attention to, that I am sure everyone catches, is the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross symbolizes that we follow Jesus and that everything we do is done through Him. So, why do athletes bless themselves, especially while they are walking up to bat? Athletes might bless themselves to ask God to prevent injury, to give thanks to Him, to take care of their families, to help them get a hit/home run, maybe to help a teammate catch a fly-ball, or the pitcher to throw a strike-out. Nevertheless, the sign of the cross is very powerful and can simply express our love and yearning for Jesus to be with us at all times and in everything we do. So, bless yourselves with meaning, open your hearts, get yourself some peanuts and cracker jacks, and let’s play ball!