The first games of the season are here. As consideration is given to players and their positions, there is always much to be said about fielding. In the MLB, every year 18 Gold Gloves are presented by Rawlings to those in each league who have shown defensive prowess. According to Wikipedia,
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award, usually referred to as the Gold Glove, is the award given annually to the Major League Baseball players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), as voted by the managers and coaches in each league. Managers are not permitted to vote for their own players. Eighteen Gold Gloves are awarded each year (with the exception of 1957, 1985 and 2007), one at each of the nine positions in each league. In 1957, the baseball glove manufacturer Rawlings created the Gold Glove Award to commemorate the best fielding performance at each position. The award was created from a glove made from gold lamé-tanned leather and affixed to a walnut base. Initially, only one Gold Glove per position was awarded to the top fielder at each position in Major League Baseball; however, separate awards were given for the National and American Leagues beginning in 1958.
As lineups are being chosen by coaches for the opening games in my community, certainly defense is critical. I have watched as kids let balls go through their legs. I have seen kids misjudge the distance of a pop fly and have to run to pick it up. For the age group I work with now it is funny to watch the surprised look on some faces when the ball somehow finds its way into the glove. The shock and awe so overwhelm them they forget a play still needs to be made.
Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)
As followers of Christ, we are to be able to defend ourselves against the offense of the opposition. How good are you at defense? Here are a few things I have picked up from coaches I have helped the last few years.
1. Down and ready. As the pitcher releases the ball a good defender watches the bat. As the swing unwinds, you watch the ball off the bat. Defenders who are in a ready position allow for greater vision and increased ability to field the ball. Too often, players are distracted by fans, family, and flowers! Their focus is on something else. When that happens, the possibility of injury increases. What if the ball is hit to the one unfocused? It could cost the team the game. It could cost them a night in the hospital. We must always be ready. We cannot stroll through life unaware of our surroundings. Whether it is school, work, online, or in the field we must be ready to defend our position. The faith and denomination you are associated with have established certain interpretations and positions theologically. Do you know those? Have you read the associated Scriptures? Be ready.
2. Get your glove down. There is nothing more frustrating to a coach than to see a ball go through the legs because the child was unwilling to get that new shiny glove dirty. A good defender has a dirty glove. Someone who is able to make a good defense of the Gospel will have a beat up Bible. You have spent time in Scripture. You have poured over the books, chapters, and verses. You have memorized the areas that you get asked about often. You have studied and learned how to use the Scripture to your advantage in debates and discussion.
3. Move to the ball. Sometimes a child will wait for the ball to get to them. Obviously the longer it rolls, the slower it gets. The chances of the base runner making it to 1st increases. Kids are taught to run up on the ball. A good defense of the Gospel does not have to be overly aggressive, but should engage the situation in earnest. Like the child who runs up to get the ball, you engage the conversation. Spending time in the Word provides you the necessary tools to get in the play faster and with greater efficiency from a defensive position.
4. Make a good throw. During practice this statement is used A LOT! I tell my boys that accuracy counts and have a drill just for that deeper understanding. Because of cable many kids want to have their own personal highlight reel. They might field it right, but the excitement and anxiety of it all causes them to throw it wrong. They might be trying to throw too hard and the mechanics break down. Sometimes they try to throw too soon. They do not have a good grip on the ball and have not taken a preparatory step to make sure the body motion is in alignment. In these cases, the ball is not throw right and the runner achieves the base. Much of this could be avoided with the right mechanics. When someone questions you about your faith and belief structure, be accurate. Having the right grip and mechanics in that discussion is important for you and for your faith. If the ball comes to you, field it. Get a grip on Scripture. Be sound theologically and accurately divide the word of God.
While churches don’t give out awards for the best defensive players, we are to be able to make a good defense. It’s a beautiful time of year, get out there and play!