They say nice guys finish last, but this year’s Colorado Rockies baseball team shatters that cliche. On Thursday, the Rockies will face the Arizona Diamondbacks in game one of the National League Championship Series. They swept Philadelphia in three games in the NL Division Series, and just ended a stretch of winning 14 of 15 games in the regular season. This is only the second post-season appearance for the Colorado Rockies, who were added to the National League Western Division in 1993. With a World Series appearance on the horizon, the Rockies are being noticed for the first time.
In a USA Today cover story last year, the Rockies were headlined as a “Christian team.” There’s general manager Dan O’Dowd, chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort, President Keli McGregor, and manager Clint Hurdle – all Christians. All-Star first baseman Todd Helton, pitcher Jason Jennings, outfielder Matt Holliday, and infielder Jamey Carroll are among the Christian believers. These are some very nice guys. The USA Today article started out well:
No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of baseball’s Colorado Rockies. There’s not even a Maxim. The only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.
This should be a great thing, right? Unfortunately, the article was obviously biased and sentences such as the following one revealed the author’s intent to undermine and ridicule the faith of the Rockies:
Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just to stay in the team’s good graces? Yes, former Rockies say.
And this quote from Mark Sweeney, who previously played for the Rockies and now is with the San Francisco Giants:
“Look, I pray every day,” Sweeney says. “I have faith. It’s always been part of my life. But I don’t want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?”
Worse yet, as a result of the USA Today story, an article was written in response by a Rocky Mountain News writer, in which several key Colorado Rockies Christians attempted to downplay the role of their faith in the clubhouse.
“I get Maxim (a men’s magazine) sent to me in the mail in the clubhouse,” first baseman Todd Helton said.
Okay, and why should Helton feel the need to minimize his faith? Another player was quoted in the Rocky Mountain news story as saying “I don’t think being part of this team has anything to do with faith or belief.”
Other good things were actually said in this response article, but the point is that it’s too bad that some Christian sports stars had a typical reaction to anti-Christian sentiment: Whoa, wait, I’m not a fanatic! Let me explain myself! Sheesh, just stick to your guns, folks! As for Helton, here’s the best quote from him regarding the USA Today story:
I have strong beliefs, but I don’t judge others and I never will. My opinion is we look for good character guys, not Christian guys. A good teammate doesn’t have to have the same beliefs you have. A good teammate is a good person who plays to win.
Well, this is all old news – those stories were printed a year ago. But certainly there are lessons to be learned there. As the Rockies continue to make their mark and race to a very possible presence in the World Series, I’m hoping for a strong showing of their faith with no apologies. Here’s the scoop today:
Todd Helton’s insight on the Rockies’ familiarity with the Diamondbacks:
Heck, with half the guys, we’re out there talking about hunting. We know where one another are going after the season. We play so much. That’s a good group of guys that wants to win just as badly as we do. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.
There is good Christian character, folks – just loving one another.
Colorado Rockies infielder Jamey Carroll shares his mindset of living in the moment, with nothing to lose, in this interview with Sharing the Victory:
David Collins, our first base coach, told us that when he’d go to the plate he’d say, “God loves me. My family loves me. And it’s just an at bat.” So, it helps to have the mindset of just living in the moment.
And what do you think of a baseball franchise that literally cares for the widow? After Rockies minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh died this summer as a result of getting hit by a line drive, the Colorado Rockies voted to grant his widow, pregnant and raising two young sons, a full share of the team’s playoff winnings. ESPN reported on Hurdle’s reaction:
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said the gesture spoke volumes about the quality of the character in their locker room. “I was passed on the information that they voted Amanda Coolbaugh a share, a full share, which I found speaks to their awareness, speaks to their passion, speaks to every good thing about them,” Hurdle said.
As Lee Warren notes in his blog, this is what James 1:27 is all about:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27, ESV
As the Rockies prepare for their first NL Championship Series, I’ll submit that baseball and the Bible can be a good combination, and nice guys don’t finish last.
hat-tip to My Christian Sports and Music Blog