A curious thing happened. Well, actually, two not so curious things happened and then a curious thing happened. Let me explain.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton had relapsed in his well known and well documented battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction. "What a shame." I thought. I know that addiction is an unfortunately common issue in professional sports, temptation and high salaries at the elite levels coupled with youth are a dangerous combination. I have friends and family who have struggled with substance abuse and so I know how tragic it can be. But that was the end of my interaction with the story. "That's tragic, I wonder what'll happen, I hope he pulls through."
Then something else happened.
Marcus Stroman, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays with nothing but potential heaped up on him and the skill to back it up, tore his ACL in his left knee. It was a freak accident during a routine drill. His season is over. See you next Spring. The Blue Jays are my team, and Stroman represented a hope to finally break a postseason drought for the team. My response to his injury was very different, and telling. "I HAVE TO PRAY FOR MARCUS STROMAN!" I was really bummed out when he got hurt. It felt like the wind had been taken out the sails of my team. Hopes dashed before the season even started.
What's the difference between Marcus Stroman and Josh Hamilton? Hamilton is a confessing Christian, and Stroman plays for my favourite team. I think that's very telling of my character, or lack thereof. I'm totally willing (compelled even) to pray for a guy with a torn ACL just because he plays on my favourite team, but I feel no such urging to pray for a confessing brother in Christ struggling with the demons of drug and alcohol addiction whose "only sin" is that he plays for the wrong team.
What a wretched man I am.
I talk a big game against celebrity culture, and how in North America we glorify our celebrities. I really wouldn't freak out if I met some of my favourite actors. I'd probably apologize for interrupting and tell them how much I enjoy their work, but that's about it. I'm not an autograph seeker/selfie taker by any means. I think the whole thing is silly really.
Unless the rising star pitcher from my favourite team suffers a season ending injury that is...
I feel so conflicted about this, it's certainly not wrong to pray for Marcus Stroman's recovery, tearing the ACL is a painful thing to do. It's also certainly not a sin not to pray for Josh Hamilton as he struggles to finally kill his inner demons. But for me, there's something about the combination of the two that niggles at my soul. Am I really that shallow? Does the colour of a man's jersey really hold that much sway over my real world decisions?
I should pray. For both these men, and for myself.