However, as a Catholic man and Christian, I gotta root for Mike Sweeney who is going to the playoffs for the first time in his illustrious 17-year Major League career.
As this article in Catholic Online points out, early in his playing career, Sweeney was told he had zero chance of ever making it to the big leagues.
Downcast and dejected one day at Mass, he noticed a sticker in his Bible of a tandem bicycle (the kind made for two people). It had been given to him at a retreat and had a powerful symbolic message: the person in the front steers and controls the speed, the person in the back simply pedals and trusts the one in the front.
That day, Sweeney decided to pedal as hard as he could and let God sit in the front seat and steer his career.
Not only did he make it to the Major Leagues, he became one of the best pure hitters in professional baseball, hitting as high as .340 in 2002 and .333, with 29 home runs and 144 runs batted in in 2000 (for those who are "baseball challenged," anything above .300 is an outstanding batting average). Sweeney also made the American League All-Star team five times.
Unfortunately, he played most of his career with the "financially challenged" Kansas City Royals and never made it to the playoffs. Now in the twilight of his career, at 37-years-old, he is part of the National League East leading Phillies (last year’s NL Champs) and poised to make it deep into the post season for the first time in his playing career.
But, looking back at the obstacles he overcame, Sweeney says his faith is all the reward he needs and the passion worth living for:
"As a married man and father of three children, I realize that if I spent only an hour a week in communication with my wife or my kids, our relationship would suffer," he said. "I want to share the depths of my heart with my wife daily, I want to hug my daughter when she cries after scraping her knee and I want to embrace my son after hitting a home run."Therefore, when the playoffs begin in a couple of weeks, I'll be rooting for Mike Sweeney (and the Phillies?)... It's still a hard pill to swallow since my Mets wounds are fresh and deep but hey, if Christ took one for the team (His Church, aka His Body), I can take one for an upstanding and loyal member...
"God feels the same way about us," he said." He doesn't desire to spend 45 minutes to an hour a week with us at Mass. He wants it all! He wants us to cry out to him and share our highs and lows with him. He wants us to read His word, spend time in prayer, embrace Him in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. I am very excited about the opportunity to play in the playoffs, but my true joy has always and will always come from Jesus Christ!"
Go Phills!!! (Unless they leave him off the 25-man-roster, then all bets and sentimentalities are off)...