Archives for posts with tag: St. Louis Cardinals

The headline caught my attention: Jenkins Standing Tall, Finding Consistency.

It was the middle of the Lenten season, a time of introspection and discipline. The theme at my church was “The Courageous Life.” I was being challenged to boldly practice my faith.

The March 6, 2016 news story had nothing to do with spirituality or me. It was a story about a professional baseball player, Tyrell Jenkins (no relation). The St. Louis Cardinals drafted this young Texan, just out of high school, in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. He played four seasons in the Cardinals minor league system before they traded him to the Atlanta Braves. He was named the Braves’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year at the end of the 2015 season.

Change in delivery pays off for Braves prospect Jenkins photo

At the time I read the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, major league baseball spring training was into its first full week and Jenkins was in camp with the Braves. He had made some adjustments in his pitching style that seemed to improve his delivery.  “He’s 6-foot-4, and he (has been) pitching like he is 5-foot-10,” Braves manager Freddi Gonzalez said. He has “straightened up” and was “going downhill” which gave “good life on his fastball.”

You do not have to understand that baseball jargon to know that the manager was pleased with what was happening. This change in form also provided more consistency in controlling where this young prospect threw his pitches. “Standing tall, finding consistency” increased the right-handed pitcher’s chances of making the big league roster.

Eight days later the Braves decided to send Jenkins to their Triple A Gwinnett Braves.

I am not a professional baseball player but this story spoke to me. For most of my life I have struggled to “stand tall” and be consistent in my personal and spiritual life. There have been many situations that have called for someone to stand up for what was right. Striving for consistency in what I say and how I act has always a challenge.

Sometimes I have succeeded. Many times I have failed. I may not make the “big league” but I have been given another chance- many times. After years of effort I am still trying to “straighten up” and live a “good life.” Failure will still be in my future but hopefully growth will also occur. In the meantime I am counting on the grace of God as I make progress toward the ultimate goal- to live in such a manner that one day the Lord will say, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Atlanta Braves 1

It is finally over. A long and disappointing year for Atlanta Braves fans and  players ended last Sunday. It has been twenty-four years since they experienced a losing season- and this was a LOSING season.

At least it ended on an upbeat note. The Braves won four of the last five series with a 10-5 record after losing eight of the previous nine. Although they lost 95 games (out of 162) this year, it felt good to end the season winning all three games against St. Louis even if the Cardinals lineup was mostly backup players since they had clinched their division several days earlier.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

In the next to the last game of the season pitcher Shelby Miller finally won a game after 24 consecutive starts without a win. His record setting winless streak is not a reflection of his ability. The Braves have just not scored any runs to support him.

If you follow Major League Baseball, you know that this has been a “rebuilding” year for the Braves. The front office systematically dismantled last year’s team. At the end of the 2015 season last Sunday there were only 5 players on the team that were on last year’s 25-man roster: two pitchers, two infielders, and one catcher who spent much of this season in the minor league.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Jason Heyward, who was traded to St. Louis after last season, returned to Atlanta for the first time last week. He was glad to return to his home territory (he grew up in suburban McDonough) and the team he played with for his first five years in the major leagues, but it was not what you would normally think. He said it didn’t feel “homecomingish” since he didn’t know most of the Braves players. The local fans have felt that way all year long.

Braves fans mourn the sad state of the team and miss players who grew up around Atlanta like Heyward and Alex Wood (who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers), the best closing pitcher in baseball, Craig Kimbrel, and a long list of others from the 2014 team. But things worked out pretty well for about a dozen of them as they are now playing for teams that have advanced into the post-season play-offs while the Braves go home and wait until spring training next year.

I know that in the grand scheme of things winning or losing baseball games doesn’t rank very high. However, this season for Braves fans and players illustrate a very important life principle. All things will not be as you wished they were. You win some and you lose some. There are victories and defeats. Mountain tops and valleys. But life is not about “winning” or “losing.”  It is our response to these disparate experiences that determines success or failure.

Lynn Anderson

Country singer Lynn Anderson reminded us that “along with the sunshine there’s got to be a little rain sometime.” Another popular song written by Benjamin Weisman, Fred Karger, and Sid Wayne offers the following advice and encouragement:

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm there’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

Losing is not the end of the world. Whether it is a baseball game, a relationship, a job, a dream, our health, or anything else. We can “walk on with hope in our heart” because we do not walk alone. God has promised to be with us always to love, support, and guide us.

Jamie Jenkins