I played on a "Fall Ball" softball team this year.
The main difference between this league and my church league as far as game play goes, is that in Fall Ball we use wood bats only and have an extra infielder.
(I like the wood bats. The extra infielder? Not so much.)
In what turned out to be our last game of the season, we were playing for the right to play for the championship. We played a team with which we had some not so nice history. Two years ago, a few guys on their team felt one of our players deliberately slid into their second baseman with the intent of injuring him. (It was a head first slide…if he was intending to hurt anyone, it had to have been himself.) Anyway, some angry words were exchanged.
Fast forward two years and some of the players on both teams remain, though some of the main "combatants" are gone. Things seem to be better between the two teams- more banter in the infield, at the plate, etc. Well, things went crazy pretty quickly, and honestly, it seemed to be sparked by three people…three out of 20.
Here's the situation: Bases loaded, two outs. Our guy hits a come-backer to the mound. Their pitcher fields the ball, takes some gingerly steps toward home and softly under-hands the ball to their catcher, a man in his late 50's or early 60's. Our player on third is reaching home at about the same time and slides, feet first, into the plate. (ASA rules are such that, when there is going to be a close play, the runner must either slide or concede the tag.) Their catcher caught the ball thrown to him, but stumbled, perhaps over our player's feet, and fell to the ground. In doing so, he lost control of the ball. The umpire calls our runner out. Our first base coach (and manager) begins to protest the call loudly since the catcher dropped the ball. The catcher gets up, screams at our player, "What the f*!k!" and throws his glove in anger against the back stop
Chaos ensues, as the teams begin gathering around the first base line. I'm not even sure what all the yelling is about. It seems that some guys on both teams are discussing the merits of the call, albeit loudly, but in a fairly controlled manner. Others are discussing it loudly with both umpires. Then there seems to be some heated discussion along the lines of our player trying to hurt "the old guy."
Knowing that we have one knuckle-head on our team who is heading toward the fray, I head his toward him anticipating the worst. (By knuckle-head I mean one who might think a slow pitch softball game is worth getting in a fight over.) I'm correct in anticipating that his participation is most likely going to exacerbate the situation. He tells their main knuckle–head (who started the talk about "attempting to injure the catcher") to calm down. Soon both of them are screaming threats at each other with me holding, pushing and otherwise cajoling our guy to knock it off. Eventually (no thanks to the umpires, btw) cooler heads prevailed and the game continued without any further (major) incidents.
This got me thinking about "the power of one." I truly wondered what would have happened if the player on my team who tends to not keep his head, had not been present. Or, what if, when he didn't get a favorable response to his suggestion that his opponent calm down, he simply walked away? I think things would have turned out differently. If their catcher had recognized the play for what it was and simply not reacted, nothing happens other than the discussion with the umps. Finally, if the knuckle-head on their team kept his mouth shut, I have a feeling that things would have gone differently. Three separate sparks, each produced by one person, sparked what could have been a pretty nasty fire.
I do believe individuals have power and the power to influence others, both for good and for evil. Recently a friend said to me, "Don't you look at the world though, and think the deck is stacked in favor of evil?" It may seem that way, but Jesus is at his best in the role of the underdog.
Jesus: I think I'll change the world.
Everyone else: Oh yeah? How?
Jesus: Well, gimme a few fisherman, a tax collector etc…uh, let's see...that's 12...uh, yeah, that'll do.
And of course it also got me thinking. How do I use my power? What kind of fires do my sparks ignite? We may not feel like we have any power, or that it is easier for an individual to use power for evil, but I think we do ourselves, and our God, a disservice if we think that way.
Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches."
Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough."