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Swing Batter Batter

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

The Alpena News


JUN 18, 2022


Everyday Faith

From the very first baseball game I ever played in as a kid, I remember chatter being a part of the game.

Defensive players on the field yelled from their positions, “Swing batter, batter, swing!” Players in the dugouts would yell as loud as they could, pound on the fences, scream and make noises at pivotal points in the game. Sometimes, the fans on the sidelines would even join in.

To be fair, some of the chatter was encouraging, but, sometimes, the chatter was discouraging.

Voices from the field, voices from the dugouts, voices from the sidelines …

Having been on the field now since I was 10, I’ve come to recognize that there is actually an art to chattering, and some of the things that I’ve heard on the field as a coach are absolutely hilarious.

A few years back, I had a fun JV team on which I had quite a few of the kids in my English classroom as well as on the field. Somewhere along the way, I had to address what was appropriate chatter and what was inappropriate chatter. The team rule was that we focused our energy on encouraging our own players and stayed away from destructive chatter directed towards the other team.

But there are pivotal moments in a game when you just want your players to make noise — loud noise — just to fire a teammate up or to build momentum to get a hit, score the critical run, or simply steal a base. That noise isn’t really constructive or destructive. It’s just noise!

Well, we had been reading “Lord of the Flies” in my English class, and there are points in the book where the little boys on the island just make weird noises as their deterioration sets in as they wait to be rescued.

So we were in the middle of an intense game with a rival, and we needed noise. Tensions were high, everyone was on the edge of their seats, and a couple of my guys broke into screaming noises that they had read from “Lord of the Flies.” Yep, we were screaming William Golding’s lines at the top of our lungs.

Believe it or not, it caught on with everyone in the dugout, and that became our thing for the rest of the season. When we were in a tight situation, we collectively broke into quoting literature from English 10.

Keep in mind that some of the guys were freshmen and had not even read the novel — it didn’t matter.

One of the classic moments of that season happened when an opposing coach came over to me after we had finished a double header. He hesitantly wanted to clarify something after being around us. What he wanted to know was if he heard us right, and if we were quoting lines from Golding’s classic novel. He was the only one all season who acknowledged that he knew what we were saying.

Well, there is definitely an art to chatter in the game of baseball, but how in the world does that have anything to do with the Christian life? That’s a great question, so let me answer it: Chatter can be distracting!

We are living through some strange times right now where there is just so much noise — chatter, if you will — non-stop chatter. Our country is in turmoil over so many issues, and certainly the issues matter and do need attention.

But I don’t care who you are, the voices can become overwhelming at points!

If you turn on the TV, you hear voices and opinions. You flip on the radio, and there’s more voices and opinions. You check your social media accounts, and there’s voices and opinions. You go to work or school, and there’s more voices and opinions.

Now, it’s good to educate yourself and participate in the democratic process, but let me give you another baseball phrase from Coach Myers: “Get your mind right!”

The last couple of years I coached, that was a catchphrase that we used frequently to make sure that our focus was where it was supposed to be.

The noise can be distracting, and our attentions can stray from where they need to be directed.

As Believers, we need to get our minds right and recognize that there is an informational limit that we all have. And, if that’s the case, we need to make sure that the voices we do listen to encourage us to grow in our faith, and, ultimately, the voice that truly matters is God’s.

We need to make sure that we are focused on him and are listening to his voice as he leads us forward on a daily basis.

All the voices, the noise, and opinions need to be filtered and limited, so that we actually can hear God’s voice.

If a good God who cares deeply for our well being wants to talk to us, shouldn’t we be able to hear his voice?

John 10:27 — “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Hebrews 4:7b — “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

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