Oh, for the faith of Don Mattingly

It occurred to me as I was reading the sports section this morning, that following a baseball team over the course of a season is really a narrative of injuries, lapses, and defeats— and overcoming them. The pitching rotation is suddenly a real time tryout for the top of the farm crop. Too many outfielders is somehow not enough to solve the problem of batting average. The bearded wonder loses his mojo with no guarantees that it is not a slump but the onset of the final decline. And the errors…oh how they test one’s forgiveness.

Donny Baseball seems to take it all in stride. Kershaw out for the first six weeks? We’ll just make some adjustments. Ellis out for just as long. Ditto. Puig as likely to have an owie as a place in the starting line up. He’s learning. While Doyers fans the world over wail and gnash their teeth (well, at least the 30% of them who get Time Warner and can watch the games), Donny M keeps his wizened gaze steady and offers his boilerplate response, “We’ll see where we’re at tomorrow.” I watch him in the dugout for a sign that one of these days he’s going to snap. To lose his deep and abiding faith that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Dodgers are the greatest team in baseball in the year 2014 and destined for a World Series win. Don Mattingly doesn’t blink. It’s as if he is the living, breathing embodiment of Matthew 6:34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

I have no idea what the manager of the L.A. Dodgers actually knows or believes about God. But he teaches me a lot about what faith looks like played out against the daily upheavals of our perfectly ordinary lives. And for that, I am grateful.

In a few hours, the ever stellar and deeply devout Clayton Kershaw will return to the mound. Just as Donny knew he would. May the Lord bless and keep them both.

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