A Baseball (and Life) Story



For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.                                                                                                                                Psalm 103-11-12

As I see it, baseball can be a very useful metaphor to reflect life. There are a lot of life lessons that baseball can teach, and today I share one.

Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were pitchers on the New York Yankees for a number of years. Both were highly successful to say the least. Roger Clemens is considered by many as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Andy Pettitte is a borderline Hall of Famer, and may someday get into that hallowed place.

Both of them had a problem.

Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were named in the Mitchell Report (a commission to investigate performance enhancing drugs) as users of the substance HGH- Human Growth Hormone. HGH was banned by baseball due to its misuse by players. During the investigation, Pettitte was interviewed and mentioned that teammate Roger Clemens had introduced him to the substance when Pettitte was rehabbing an injury. Clemens himself had been widely known to use HGH and other performance enhancing substances, but he denied such use with vehemence.

Pettitte, soon after the report, acknowledged his use of HGH as an aid to rehabilitation. Human Growth Hormone does indeed speed recovery from injuries and is used medically for that purpose.

Roger Clemens, on the other hand, went to great lengths to deny his use of the substance. He even appeared before a Congressional sub-committee to testify and was brought up on charges of obstruction of Congress. While he was later found not guilty of those charges, his inconsistencies and his strident reactions have continued to cause him a lot of problems. One of those problems is that he, recognized as an all-time great, is still not in the Baseball Hall of Fame 13 year after his retirement from baseball. He is the only 300-win pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.

What is the difference between Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens? Andy Pettitte rather quickly acknowledged his use of HGH. People rarely remember much about the controversy with Pettitte. Clemens chose to deny his use and vilify those who accused him. He still awaits Hall of Fame recognition.

The moral of the story? When we admit to a wrong or a failure without blaming others and we take full ownership of the problem, people tend to quickly move on, forgiving, sometimes even forgetting the offense.

Recently the author Malcolm Gladwell was asked what characteristic is missing in our leaders today. Gladwell responded, “They do not own their mistakes and admit when they were wrong”.

I think Gladwell is right. People can believe and trust good leaders when they own their humanity, including admitting mistakes. The Bible teaches that when we confess our sins, God forgives, and he even chooses to forget that it even happened.

The things is, people tend to remember.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the forgiveness you so freely give, and the result of wiping away our failures, Amen.

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