Major league baseball, perhaps more other professional sports, has intricacies that are taken very seriously. This manifested itself last week, when various Los Angeles Dodgers players began to celebrate their win against the Arizona Diamondbacks by jumping into the pool at Chase Field, home of the D-Backs. The Dodgers’ victory over the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West, which is a feat worth celebrating, for sure.
There has been lots of talk about the Dodgers’ celebratory actions, of course, most of which seeks to answer the question as to whether or not it’s worth getting upset over, or is it just not worth all the fuss? Was their display disrespectful? Did they go too far? These questions seek to rank the act in terms of flippancy. Come to find out, Chase Field was almost entirely empty when the players decided to go for a swim. The fact that the stadium was nearly empty doesn’t minimize their actions, but it doesn’t sensationalize it the way that the story did when it initially surfaced.
Various Diamondback players have expressed disappointment, claiming that the celebration was over the top. An Arizona infielder expressed his disgust, suggesting that their act is disappointing because the Dodgers have a number of “veteran players” on their roster who should known better. Among the more impulsive/defensive responses is that of Arizona Diamondbacks president, Derrick Hall:
I could call it disrespectful and classless, but they don’t have a beautiful pool at their old park and must have really wanted to see what one was like.
Whether or not the stadium was empty or full, it’s safe to say that the Dodgers celebration was disrespectful. And that’s being charitable. Die hard baseball fans–and certainly Arizona Diamondback fans–are anything but merciful right about now. The Dodgers celebration reminds me of something the Dillon Panthers would do, or any other athlete who has had an “oops” kind of moment. I can relate to these Dodgers more than I’d like to admit. Let me explain.
Like anyone, I’ve done plenty of regrettable things in my short life. I remember getting caught copying a friend’s homework assignment in high school. I was so embarrassed, and while my punishment was detention, what bothered me most was puzzlement over why I did it. I could have completed my assignment alone, you know? What compelled me to do this? I don’t know that I ever figured it out. I just remember feeling extremely regretful. I still remember the way that math teacher scowled at me.
Cheating on that assignment my freshman year in high school is just one fairly innocuous example. I lie in order to make myself appear to be slightly more impressive than I actually am, and spout off snarky and cynical remarks at the expense of others. And of course there are the heap of sins–you know, the ones we like to keep hidden as best as possible–that really make me comes to terms with this notion of simul iustus et peccator. Some of the time, repentance and remorse are what follows these transgressions. Other times, since we’re being honest, I’m anything but remorseful.
At Mbird, we talk a lot about having a “low anthropology.” Having a low anthropology is actually a crucial element to the ways in which we seek to “connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life.” A low anthropology results in having realistic expectations of those around you–be it your wife, kids, and even celebrities and athletes. There’s a level playing field, so to speak. This doesn’t mean that people aren’t capable of beautiful acts of love and devotion. Simply that it’s no surprise when people screw up. There can actually be moments of connection rather than disconnection with even the most boneheaded of heathens. It means we can be sympathetic when Los Angeles Dodger players act like mischievous punks half their age. Having a low anthropology allows one to come to terms with the fact that we’re not all that different from those we judge.
I guess the question still remains, though. Are the Los Angeles Dodgers players “repentant” over their trespass against baseball etiquette? I’m sure some of them are, and some of them aren’t. Sometimes I am, other times I’m not. Thankfully, the heart of the Christian message–the old story we’re compelled to repeat over and over again–is that God’s grace is not dependent upon how remorseful we are for our sins–we really are “home free.”