Last year, I saved my allowance so I had enough money to purchase MLB At Bat. For the non-baseball enthusiast, At Bat is a subscription service to watch live major league baseball on my iPhone, iPad and mirroring on my home television screen. It was amazing to have it last year. It’s the only way I can regularly watch the San Diego Padres. They need me, you know.
However, I’m a sad boy this year. My allowance “savings” is going to pay for a ticket. I failed to get my car inspected on time. Can you spell stoopid?
The past three days, the Cubs have been playing the Padres in San Diego and the local Chicago station has been airing the games. It’s been fun to catch a little of the action.
The San Diego Padres certainly don’t have the storied baseball and cultural histories and traditions of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants or (as hard as this is for me to admit) the hated Los Angeles Dollars. Not even close. But they do have one of the greatest and most profound traditions in all of major league sports: Military Sunday.
I have always had a wrestling match in my soul, when it comes to war. For most of my adult life, my theology has been quietly shaped by Anabaptist, Wesleyan and Mennonite understanding of the scriptures, even though I was raised in mild, traditional, fundamentalist evangelicalism (meaning we played “nice” with all the other churches that claimed to be Christian, though we knew they were all theologically wrong).
For those who know me, you know I’ve never been at home with the God-Guns-Guts-Glory crowd (though some of my best friends in the world hang there). My lifelong study of the Sermon on the Mount has led me down a different path. My conviction that Jesus is the complete and perfect representation of all that God is and everything that we are to be, has always landed me somewhat to the left of my more conservative friends in both lifestyle and ethics.
As hard as I try to see and comprehend the other side, my best attempts to answer “What Would Jesus Do?” always leave me comfortably with the turn-the-other-cheek tribe.
But here’s where the wrestling match surfaces. I was raised in San Diego…a fiercely loyal and unashamed military town. I grew up with a deep respect for the men and women who defend our country. Their love of country and commitment to values like duty, integrity, selfless service, and personal courage helped shape me when I was young and continue to move me to gratitude to this day.
That’s why I love what the San Diego Padres do EVERY Sunday home game. In honor of the military, the Padres wear specially designed camouflage uniforms for these games. They are the coolest uni’s in pro ball! Often, the stands are full of servicemen in their uniforms. There is always a Fourth Inning Stretch where a rendition of the Marine or Navy hymn is sung and the servicemen are cheered. The season is full of other special days and events for the city to say “thanks”.
I can confidently say the Padres will never have baseball storylines that rival the more famous (and fatter payroll) teams. But they will always have the greatest tradition of all.