Prayer, Plain and Simple

Joe Mauer is a rich young man. My 12 year old son Michael and 16 year old son Matt and I all huddled around our computer on Monday night watching ESPN’s streaming broadcast of the Mauer new conference announcing his new 8 year contract to play baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Relieved. Befuddled. Awestruck. Proud. We felt all those emotions watching this genuine nice guy and athletic freak of super-nature humbly accept the Polad family’s commitment to pay him $184 million dollars to play a game our family literally pays to relish.

Between league fees, the cost of new cleats every year, tournament travel expensed, the invested hours sitting on bleachers, driving around car loads of 12 year olds and 16 years old (we have two sons suffering from this baseball bug), and the occasional expense of taking in a Twins game, we probably spend $2K on our addiction. This guy gets rich on a love the cost us more than we can probably afford. Still, we are rejoicing for our home town hero… It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Mauer after all was recently named “Most fan-friendly athlete in part for his commitment to personally answer every letter sent to him by his many, many fans.

As we watched Unflappable “Joe Cool” we each couldn’t help feel some personal affinity and ownership in his wonderful career. Both our boys have played on the same St. Paul Highland little league field that reared Mauer. Michael’s coach last year coached Joe years back. And last May Matt pitched against – and shut out – Mauer’s powerhouse high school alma mater Cretin-Derham Hall. So we know people who know Joe very well. In fact, two years ago, on a winter trip to Fort Myers Florida where the Twins do spring training the boys both caught up with their hero Mauer and got autographs and a picture and few words of encouragement from him. We’re all just two relationships away from a guy many believe could be the greatest baseball catcher in the history of baseball. We’re two degrees of separation from a $184 Million Man.

I’m prone to find spiritual lessons in things like this, to look for deeper and higher meaning. Here’s what I’m pondering about our Mauer connection… Sports writer’s jokingly call Mauer “The Baby Jesus” for his almost divine presence on and off the ball field. And yes, we take a Minnesota-pride in having Joe in our tribe. We somehow don’t resent him getting such a treasure load, where we’d scoff if the Yankees or Red Sox had out bid us. But even more, we’re actually, literally ONE-degree of separation from even greater genius, giftedness, and wealth. Matt, Michael and I are connected in the family line to the God who owns everything, who made the laws that make baseball such a wonder, who gave us all the capacity to run and throw and hit and dream and appreciate those like Joe Mauer who do it all far better than we could ever dream. We’re connected to Mauer, yes; we’re more closely connected to God himself. We are his sons! When and if we come to see this, we realize we’re each $184 million men, with no separation at all between ourselves and the One who signs the contract to make our lives a dream come true!  

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