As many of you already know, I’m a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan. For better or ill, they are (and always have been) my favorite baseball club. Unfortunately, these days are not some of the better ones.
For the past couple years, they had a great little utility guy by the name of Sean Rodriguez. He could play almost anywhere on the field and do a good job. He always hustled and was often an inspiration for the rest of the squad.
Over the winter, Sean was a free agent, and the Pirates let him walk. I suppose it was due to financial considerations, but that’s an entirely different discussion. The point is this: he was gone.
Recently, due to an odd set of circumstances, the Pirates were able to make a trade and reacquire his services. I was pleased to hear that he was back. I was also exceedingly surprised when I heard that a lot of folks were sour on the trade. Some called him a has-been. At thirty-two years of age, he’s hardly what I would call washed up.
I’m sure he and the Pirate management were highly gratified when, in his first game back with the team, he hit a walk-off homer in the twelfth inning to win the game. The drama had been heightened due to the fact that the Pirate’s celebrated closer (Felipe Rivero) allowed the San Diego Padres to tie the game in the ninth when they were only one out away from victory.
Sean reportedly had only gotten off the plane to Pittsburgh two hours prior to game time. He arrived in time to play, was inserted in the late innings, and went on to hit the game-winning homer. So much for being washed up.
It’s kind of amazing how quickly we write people off. After last season, Sean and his family were involved in a tragic accident. Due to that accident, he never got onto the field until recently. The perpetrator in the crime of a stolen car t-boned them during a high-speed police chase. The criminal died in the fiery crash while Rodriguez and his family sustained various injuries. His early season inability to play probably began a series of decisions that led to his trade earlier this week. After learning of the trade, he Tweeted the following:
“We often wonder, “Why Lord?” Trying to understand God’s purpose for our lives. Often not getting, what we think, is a clear enough picture of your destination. But God’s purpose is “Written.” God’s journey for us is “Righteous.” And God’s plan for us is “Perfect.” So we don’t need to ask “why.” Just trust in God, put your faith in God, and I have no doubt he’ll take care of the rest.”
I don’t know how well Sean (and his Buccos) will fare during the remainder of the season. I don’t know how long his career will be. But as long as the Pirates field players like him, I’ll remain a faithful fan.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]