Tag Archives: Baseball

The Counterfactual Condition

counterfactual condition, mets

Mets fans are disappointed. That’s to be expected; losing the World Series is tough. But as fans analyze the loss, we actually learn something far greater than just a baseball score. It is called the “counterfactual condition.”

What is the counterfactual condition? It is a principle that states that “if-only” a single decision had been made, contrary to the one that was in fact made, then the outcome would have been different. So, for example, “if” Terry Collins had put Jeurys Familia, in the game, instead of leaving Matt Harvey in, then the Mets would have won.

But we will never know what would have happened if a different decision was made. In 1748, David Hume expressed reverse causality as, “if the first object had not been, the second never would have existed.” Nelson Goodman coined the phrase “counterfactual condition” in 1947 for what the “contrary-to-fact” condition. A World Series has only two possible outcomes, but millions of ways to get there. All we can do is guess as to what would have happened otherwise.

And we love to guess at “what ifs?” If he had thrown 1 more strike, if they had hit one more run, if they had eaten fewer eggs that morning…etc. But the truth is, that there is no way of knowing the outcome from the counterfactual conditions. Except when it comes to scripture – another reason the Bible is so unique.

The Bible records for us what happened in reality. It tells us the true condition of man. But it also records for us what would have happened “if” Jesus had not risen on the 3rd day.

In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Paul writes, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

In other words, the counterfactual condition of mankind is a disaster. There is no hope. You die in your sin. There is no salvation. There is no afterlife. Thankfully, Paul continues in verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…!”

There is hope! There is salvation! This life is not all there is! And the factual condition is eternal life with God because of Christ’s saving work. Are you still hoping for “ifs” and “buts” or are you enjoying Christ’s glory today?

Missing and Missed

missing metMatt Harvey drives to work just like millions of Americans. This week, Matt Harvey left later than he should have. And like millions of people in NYC, Matt got stuck in traffic.

None of this would be news for most of us. Who hasn’t left a little late and gotten stuck in traffic? But Matt Harvey is the starting pitcher for the NY Mets, and the “work” he missed was a playoff practice!

When professional athletes don’t show up for a practice, the coaches, the players, and the media want to know why. And the news hits the headlines. Why? Professional athletes live very public lives.

Most of us don’t live under that scrutiny. If we are running late, we call and say we are running late. If we get stuck in traffic, we get stuck in traffic. But the press doesn’t put our tardiness in the paper. Yet, we are still expected to be where we say we will be.

I guess the obvious example would be your place of employment…the J.O.B. If you don’t show up for work, people would wonder why. And you would want them to notice. In fact, if no one noticed your absence at work, it probably means a pink slip is in your future.

What about church attendance? We are called to “not forsake” the assembly (Hebrews 10:25). In other words, don’t make missing the assembly your regular practice. But even more than missing worship, my question is…were you missed?

Is your absence noticed or expected? How would you react if an elder, minister, or member called to check on you? Insulted or appreciative? Every part of the Lord’s body, the church, is an important member of the team…and your presence is beneficial to all. Do you worship where others notice your presence?

But even more than church attendance, what about heaven? Will you be missing? If you haven’t lived in Him, you will be missed on that day. But, sadly, there won’t be any phone calls from people asking where you are.

Give it some thought…then decide to live in Him every day!

It Ain’t Over…’till It’s Over!

yogi berraLawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, the famous Yankees catcher and manager, passed away Tuesday. He had 10 World Series rings, was a war hero, and had a fame that extended beyond baseball. But his “Yogisms” were what made him a part of the American lexicon forever.

Berra’s sayings, or, “Yogisms,” were paradoxes (contradictions or absurdities) and tautologies (redundancy and self-fulfilling truth) told in a witty way. Among the favorites were:

  • “90% of the game is half-mental.”
  • “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
  • “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “It’s déjà vu all over again”
  • “You can observe a lot by watching.”
  • “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

But perhaps the most widely known Yogism is “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” In a season distraught by injuries and team issues, he held firm to hope. And that is a great message for all of us today.

We face many challenges: temptation, disease, pain, and death. There are days when we feel like giving up. You might think you have messed up too much or life is too hard. You may even be facing your greatest challenge in life, but it ain’t over!

We don’t have to face these challenges without hope. With God, all things are possible (Mark 10:27). God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Christ overcame death so that each of us can live eternally with the Father. Are you in Him? Or do you hope in your own works for salvation?

Another favorite Yogism was, “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.” Methuselah lived 969 years…a record for sure! But Methuselah died and so will we. Then we will spend eternity separated from God or in His presence based on whether we were in Him or not…and eternity is a lot longer than 969 years.

Give it some thought. Live for Him while there is still a today (Hebrews 3:13). While we live, our ability to effect our eternity ain’t over…’till it’s over!


Dear Baseball, Learn A Lesson From A Mad Mama!

mad mamaIf you are a baseball fan, you are probably aware that today is a 1st in baseball. But as much as baseball likes to count things, this is one “honor” the Orioles would rather not have. Today marks the first time in baseball history that a game is played in an empty stadium – no public allowed.

While this kind of thing has happened in European soccer stadiums before, it wasn’t the fault of the fans in this case. It is sad to know that at 2pm today, Oriole Park at Camden yards will have empty seats, silent cheers, and no time-honored stretching and singing in the 7th. Why? Rioters.

In light of the riots in Baltimore, Major League Baseball decided to postpone 2 games and play the 3rd in an empty stadium. Now, I’m sure that they had the best interest of the players, city resources, and fan safety in mind. But I wonder if they shouldn’t  have taken a lesson from one “Mad Mama” who didn’t back down from danger.

The Mom is Toya Graham. And she made headlines for the “correction” she gave her son on national television this week. [Warning: if you are going to watch the video, I suggest you do so with the sound off as there is foul language used.]

But as the old saying goes: “When Mama ain’t happy, she’s gonna smack you in front of all your rioting gang and drag you home by your ear.” Or something like that, I think. At least, that is the lesson Toya’s son learned. She spotted her son on television and, as only a Mom could, marched down to the riot, grabbed her son, and dragged him home by his ear!

Now, aside from being a really embarrassing way to lose your street cred, her son learned a great lesson, and baseball should too. We need more Mad Mamas! We need people who are willing to take uncomfortable risks to teach important lessons. And this Mom showed that when you love someone enough, you won’t let a little thing like a riot or looters stop you from trying to save them.

Of course, you’re probably thinking, it would be nice if we taught kids not to riot and loot in the first place. Well, yeah. But you know what? Everyone makes mistakes. And those of us who made mistakes, and learned from them, often learned those lessons because of Mad Mamas who grabbed us by the ear and sent us home.

In Matthew 23, Jesus likens himself to a Mother hen who longed to gather her chicks together, but they would not come under her wings. And sometimes, “mother,” had to give her children a correction. Unfortunately, we won’t always be successful when we try to correct children, but it is always worth the effort.

In Matthew 21, Jesus went into the Temple grounds and found money changers looting the people –  a “den of robbers.” John writes, in John 2, that Jesus fastens a whip and gives the equivalent of a smack upside the head and a good ear grabbing. It didn’t cause God’s children to correct their behavior, but at least Jesus tried to show them the error of their ways.

I don’t know if Major League Baseball should have moved the game to a nearby stadium or played the game at Camden Yards. But it seems to me that playing the game while barring the public sends  the wrong message. Isn’t it better to at least try to teach a better lesson? If not, the rioters and looters win, and we are all in trouble!