We are sports fans in the Mergent household. Really, we are football fans (influenced by your truly) and basketball fans (thanks to spouse). I bleed Maize & Blue, Tom Brady is my football-season-imaginary-boyfriend, and we spent lunch today talking about how on earth the Bulls managed to lose in round one. (Two words: Rose injury.)
We are not baseball fans. Neither of us particularly like the game, I don’t know the American League from.. um… the other one. Its great when the Tigers win because people around here are in a good mood, but otherwise, eh. Whatever. Just not my thing.
In the middle of SportsCenter at lunch today though, a baseball story caught my attention: Beckett, the Red Sox pitcher, is in heaps of hot water with fans and sports writers for playing golf on his day off. The day after he sat out a game (which the Sox lost), he was spotted playing golf with a teammate on his day off. And People. Are. Furious. How dare he be physically unable to play baseball one day, but able to play golf the next day?
I get that the guy gets paid absurd amounts of money to throw that ball, and to do it better than he has been this season. I get that Beckett seems to have a history of saying dumb things to reporters and being generally bad at the perception game of being a public figure. Also, to be fair, I’m not sure recreational golf is really all that hard. If you can play while lugging a bunch of beer with you on the little car, how tough can it be? Obviously the pros don’t play like that – but Beckett’s not a pro. At least not at golf.
Here’s what I don’t get: Why is it hard to believe that what a guy having a bad season needs is to enjoy his day off and stretch his (apparently tight) legs? Even more – why is doing so such an affront to Red Sox fans? And, why is his answer that he is allowed to enjoy his few days off during the season as he sees fit seen as so defiant?
Taking time off, relaxing, doing things that feed our souls and give us energy – we call that Sabbath in my line of work. Now, in faith, Sabbath is more about connecting our souls to God than, say, a putting green. But the notion that our days off can only be spent in ways that our fans (congregations?) deem acceptable based on how the rest of the week is going is absurd.
Because it’s not the great weeks that demand our Sabbath time – the weeks when we are on top of the to do list, when the sermon flows with inspiration, and pastoral visits are rewarding to our flock. For me, at least, it is the weeks when nothing seems to come together – when the youth group lesson flopped and copier is broken and Mrs. Jones is angry about the sermon and that young father’s cancer isn’t going to go away – that I need Sabbath. Those are the weeks when I need to remember that God is in charge of ministry, and we are all part of God’s work but cannot stand in for Jesus. Sabbath is intended to remind us, to teach us, that while we are beloved, we are not indispensable. And that is grace. Sure it matters when things are great (God did tell us to take Sabbath every week), but it is essential when things are tough.
I hope that Beckett got a little bit of that feeling on his day off. I hope that he finds some time to consider the idea of rest, and can explain it better to the people who love the game next time they are miffed by his choices. In the meantime, maybe he should spend some of his absurd salary and just build a private golf course for himself, where he can rest.