A little ray of all-American sunshine
by Janie B. Cheaney
Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014, at 3:37 pm
I’m a fair-weather sports fan, meaning I get excited about a team only when they’re winning. But not just any team—there has to be some personal connection, whether geography or cultural heritage or knowing someone whose second cousin once wrote dispatches from the press box. All of which is to say that I have not closely followed the Kansas City Royals’ up-and-down history and only started paying attention to them this year when everyone else did.
But we have a connection: The only major league baseball games I’ve ever attended were at Royals Stadium (as it was called back then), in the late 1980s when George Brett was nearing the end of his career and Bo Jackson was slamming them out of the park. Those were good years to be a Royals fan, certainly better than the years that followed. But here’s connection No. 2: I happened to be in Kansas City last week when the team chalked up its eighth-straight win in its amazing postseason streak, which also handed them the American League pennant and put them in the World Series for the first time in decades.
Let us praise common-grace blessings: The Lord is good. I don’t mean that in a flippant way, as though the Big Man Upstairs decided to hand down a favor to a long-suffering sports franchise. His goodness shows in the grace and speed of a well-timed play (“He has made everything beautiful in its time”), the beauty of rules observed (“Oh how I love your law!”), the joy of a job well done (“There is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work”). God displays Himself in order and structure, as well as ecstasy and anomaly. His creation is endlessly related, yet prodigiously various. He creates individual souls, who in turn create works of art and machines and games that also appear to have a “soul”—that is, a particular character, an essence that we instinctively recognize and even love.
It’s already become a cliché that the Royals remind us of what we love about baseball: a hometown team notably lacking in star power and scandal, built by a self-made civic-minded entrepreneur, remaking themselves during a long exile of defeat, and climbing the ladder of a magic season.
The day after Kansas City won the American League Championship Series, Royal blue was everywhere, along with general camaraderie, community, and good cheer. It’s puzzling how an intangible good like a sports victory can lift us out of ourselves, and how we put the pieces together into a shared narrative—but it’s more than a little divine, too. Our hearts are made for stirring. These times are confusing, depressing, and dangerous, but brightness flashes in the crevasses. Responding to it is both human and divine, so long as we remember where it comes from.