lost in left field…

I love baseball. Anyone who knows me knows that I adore the sport. It truly is one of the great passions of my life, behind my God, my wife and my children. And one of my biggest dreams has been to go with my father to three of the classic ballparks, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park. Back in 1999, we had the opportunity to take a week-long road trip together in which we drove across the country and attended games in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Wrigley Field was the first stop in that trip and truly was the dream that I had imagined. Then, a few years ago, my father met in me in California, after one of my business trips, and we spent a few days hanging out together and driving around Central California.

Dodger StadiumThe climax of that trip was the second point in my ballpark dream, attending a game together at Dodger Stadium. While this was not the first time to the classic ballpark for either of us, it was our first time together and we wanted it to be special. We invited a good friend of his to join us and we bought some great tickets in order to make the most of this memory. For a couple weeks, I looked through various ticket broker websites, searching for the perfect tickets for us. Finally, the tickets appeared that met all of my “perfect criteria.”Front row? Check.

On the aisle? Check.

Great view? Check.

Home run ball potential? Check.

These tickets met everyone of my desires, so I bought them. These seats would end up being very different than I was expecting. You see, these front-row “dream” seats were in left field at Dodger Stadium. In almost every ballpark that I have visited across the country, the atmosphere has been one of excitement and civility. In fact, when I went to a game at Dodger Stadium a few years ago, I had identical seats in right field and found it very enjoyable. Unfortunately, this is not the atmosphere in left field at Dodger Stadium. Where we expected the usual ballpark environment of fun, decency, politeness and good behavior, we were met by a section filled with ignorance, rudeness, drunkenness and violence.

As the game progressed, the alcohol consumption increased and the behavior worsened.  These adults were reduced to primitives, hurling obscenity-laced insults at players and fighting with each other.  At one point, a drunken Dodger fan stood in the aisle, leaned into a little boy about my daughter’s age, and yelled f-bombs and s-bombs at a Angels’ fan a few seats down, completely clueless to the damage he was doing to this terrified child. I could not help but think of my kids and how scared they would be if they were there with me. Despite the jungle around us, we did our best to enjoy the game, but we left the game disappointed.

When I look back on my vacation, one impression seems to dominate when I think about that baseball evening, sadness.  Not sadness over a ruined evening, or over crushed expectations, but sadness for those who acted this way.  For many of them, this game was the highlight of their week, their month or their year.  As the commercial once said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” That man who virtually climbed over a young child to yell obscenities at “his enemy” probably remembered the evening with joy and pride. The fans who fought, and got kicked out of the game, probably laughed the next morning and thought, “That was awesome.” It honestly reminded me of my first few years of college, when I got caught up in the foolish drinking and partying scene. Every Friday and Saturday night, we would drink ourselves under the table, act like complete fools, wake up the next morning with horrible hangovers….and we thought it was great. Those parties were literally the highlight of the week and what so many of my friends lived for. We thought we were on top of the world, when in reality our lives were so small.

Maybe that is the point here. Not that I should condemn the world for simply acting in its own nature, but that I once was there too. And it is only by the grace of God that I am still not there today! How many people do I meet everyday that I label as “thawed cavemen” or “idiots” because of their behaviors, when in reality they have nothing larger than themselves to live for? Instead of judging and condemning, maybe I show these people the love of Christ and pray that they will come to know the TRUE reason for living?  “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.”

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~ by kuiperactive on May 13, 2014.

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