Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Comes to the Red Sox

“For to all those who have,
more will be given,
and they will have an abundance;
but from those who have nothing,
even what they have
will be taken away.”
Matthew 25:29

Recently a friend posted on her Facebook page, “In honor of the holiday season, I have decided to be jolly. Will you be jolly with me?? :)”

I am not jolly. I am giddy.

The Red Sox (according to reliable sources) have signed Carl Crawford. First Adrian Gonzales and now Carl Crawford. Some might point out that neither one of them is a catcher. Is Jarrod Saltalamacchia the answer? And some (not me!) are skeptical about Jed Lowrie playing shortstop. But for now at least, I feel a sense of optimism.

In Red Sox Nation we have an abundance.

For weeks we wondered whether they would sign Gonzales or Crawford. The fear was that they would get neither. And the assumption was that they could not afford both. (Sort of like politics in Washington. One side says we cannot afford to extend unemployment and the other side says we cannot afford to give tax cuts on incomes above $250,000. And the compromise is that we will do both.)

Red Sox fans can no longer complain about the Yankees “buying championships.” There are whole teams (and probably a few small countries) whose entire payrolls will be less than the amount paid to Gonzales and Crawford.

The rich get richer.

Although it sounds like Jesus is reaffirming the economics of Major League Baseball, a closer reading shows that is not the case. In the verse from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus was not talking about baseball, and he was not endorsing more tax cuts for the wealthy. The verse comes at the end of the Parable of the Talents. And (ominously) it comes just before the Parable of the Judgment of the Nations. In the Parable of the Talents, the issue is stewardship. We need to make wise use of what we have been given. And if we don’t, there are consequences. In the Parable of Judgment, we learn that in the end we are judged by what we have done “for the least of these” because when we care for the poor and dispossessed we are caring for Christ among us.

On a personal note, I was looking forward to seeing Ryan Kalish in left field. And even though (or maybe because) he did not do much after that first pitch grand slam, I would be happy rooting for Daniel Nava. And what about Josh Reddick? There is a part of me that misses the decades of Exile and the many near misses between 1918 and 2004. It was long before my time, but I can still give you the details of Dixie Walker’s hit scoring Enos Slaughter from first in the 1946 World Series. My identity was formed by the memories of Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone, and Bill Buckner. (Is there anything in baseball more tragically unfair than the way Buckner’s amazing career has been reduced to that one play?)

In the Parable of the Talents, one servant gets 5 talents, another gets 2, and the third servant gets just one. The one with the five makes five more. And the one with the two makes two more. But the servant with the one talent just buries it, afraid to risk losing it. In Major League Baseball today, the Yankees and the Red Sox each have ten talents (some will argue that the Yankees have twelve), a couple of other teams have five, and everyone else has just one talent.

The latest news is good for the Red Sox, but it is not good for baseball.

But not to worry. Has Cliff Lee signed with anyone yet?

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