Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sacrificing for the Victory

I guess it’s kinda like knowing the difference between a suicide squeeze bunt versus a safety squeeze bunt in baseball. Not only are there a lot of laypeople who know absolutely nothing about baseball who have no idea what those terms mean, but there’s also a lot of people who think they know the game of baseball, but yet they can’t quite explain the difference between the two. There is a lot of casual fans that know the general rules of the game, 9 players on each team, 3 strikes you’re out, 4 balls you walk, 9 innings yada yada yada.. but yet they’re not true students of the game.

I like baseball. It was actually the first sport I really played and examined. My father is a student of the game. He played centerfield in his day. Both my grandfather’s were baseball fans. They didn’t even care who was playing, they just wanted to watch a ball game. As most black men who are deep in the game, my Papa liked the Dodgers. The Dodgers were the first team to give a black man a chance to play, Jackie Robinson.

Since I was born in the 70’s, I realize that there’s not a lot of black men my age who are students of the game of baseball. Most of the kids in the hood are more into basketball and football. Bling Bling. Thump on your chest and do a monkey dance when you make a touchdown. Start screaming at the top of your lungs with victorious delight when you dunk on a fool. Basketball and Football give a larger stage for personal exaltment. Me. Me. Me.

There’s some (usually the black players) who try to clown and show off in baseball, by throwing the bat or standing at the plate and admiring their handiwork after they hit a homerun. But they usually don’t do this too often, because when you ‘show up’ a pitcher in baseball, you better not dig in too hard the next time you’re up at the plate. Because you’re likely to get a high and tight fastball that comes in right up under your chin, just to remind you to respect the game.

But those who are true students of baseball, are more apt to be privy to the concepts of team and personal sacrifice. Which brings us back to the difference between a suicide squeeze bunt versus a safety squeeze bunt. Both plays require the batter to give himself up as a sure out, all for the sake of scoring another run for the team. Sacrifice.

Those who watched the Astros-Cardinals LCS Game 1 matchup had a perfect example of this to examine. Runners on 1st and 3rd. 1 Out. 2nd inning. Cardinals up 2-0. The pitcher was at the plate.

[Writers Note: Just to let you know, I guess I’m kinda conservative when it comes to baseball. I think EVERYBODY should have to field a position and EVERYBODY should have to bat. The Designated Hitter rule is a mechanism of greedy capitalist, but that’s a whole different tangent.]

When you have the pitcher at the plate in the major leagues, he’s usually the weakest hitter in the lineup. I used to think that it was odd that pitchers and catchers were usually the worst hitters, especially since they KNEW what the opponent was trying to do. But once I started playing the game, and I saw the time and practice required to really be good and go to that next level, I had a better understanding of why this is so. Of course there are a few wildcards out there, but by and large the pitcher is the worst hitter in the lineup.

So if you have your worst hitter at the plate, with runners on 1st and 3rd and 1 out and you have a 2 run lead early in a game where each and every run is crucial, then the obvious goal is to get another run across the plate. The worst case scenario is not striking out, but rather hitting into a double play. Inning over.

So if you have a weak hitter at the plate, the safe thing to do is to lay down a sacrifice bunt. When the runner on 3rd waits to make sure that the bunt gets laid down before he starts running towards the plate, that’s called a safety squeeze bunt. But if the runner takes off as soon as the pitcher makes his move toward the plate, then that’s called a suicide squeeze bunt.

It’s called a suicide, because if the batter: 1)misses the ball, 2) misses the sign from the 3rd base coach and laces a line drive down the 3rd base line or 3)there’s a pitchout? Then the runner on 3rd is dead. You’re out!! It’s a play that requires precise execution on both the batter and the runner’s part.

I have some friends (who’ve never dug in at the plate in their lives) who call baseball a wuss sport.

“It doesn’t demand the physical strength and agility like football or basketball, there is no is for wimps.”

I just laugh at them when they say that and tell them they just need to put on a batting helmet, grab a bat and let a 6-4+ dude hurl a 90 mph fastball their way down the plate. And then follow that up with a looping curve that starts at your head and then breaks down into the catchers mitt.

Notice I said ‘catchers mitt’, not ‘bat-catcher’s mitt’. A lot of black folks call it a ‘bat catcher’, but that’s not what it’s called. It’s just ‘catcher’.

Soo..if you haven’t learned anything else, you know the difference between a suicide vs a safety squeeze and you know it’s ‘catcher’ and not ‘bat-catcher’.

Doesn’t that sound like some real game? J

People ask me to describe what my first book is about, and that’s the best example I can give you. It has snippets, short stories and essays that cover various topics of life. Sports. Relationships. Theology. Social Issues. Family Issues and the like and they all include a Biblical principle somewhere tied into them. There’s fictitious characters like Rev. I.B. Janky as well as real life stories of miracles and glory.

I used to worry that my conversation and lingo was a bit too Southside or ‘ebonic’ for most people to understand. But my editor is a Jewish chick from Philly and she ‘gets’ it. Or at least, most of it.

“I LIKE when you say ‘mane’ (smiling)..but do you pronounce that? Is it main or man?”

“(laughing) It’s just like it’s spelled, pronounced just like a horse’s mane. So you don’t think I have to change my style?”

“No, because it’s you David. It’s your no, don’t change that, I’ll be able to edit out the parts that I think are un-decipherable.”

She doesn’t edit the website, so don’t charge my ‘un-decipherables’ that I have throughout this web page or in my Newsletter mailouts to her. This is all David Earl Washington II.

That’s what the D and E. stand’s really not a secret. Just like everybody knows the C.S. stands for Clive Staples, finding out my government name is not a hard task.

Some of my friends have cautioned me about guarding my privacy, especially on the WORLD WIDE WEB.for all to see.

“You never know how many wackos are lurking out there.”

I had to think about that one for a minute. Not just about me, but also my family. There are precautions you have to take to guard yourself against all of the predators out there in the world. And the more visible you are to the public via the internet, book tours and interviews, the greater you increase your chance of running across some truly crazy folks.

Fortunately for me, I grew up surrounded by crazy folks, almost ALL of my friends are crazy. That’s why my wife say we all get along so well, birds of a feather and all that. When she starts making those cracks, I just remind her that we ARE married to each other..ya feel me?

But seriously, there are some serious facts in life that we all must face. And once you find that thing in your life that you’re willing to lay down your life for, that thing you’re willing to die for..then that’s when you’re ready. That’s when you’re ‘dead game’.

At first I thought I knew what ‘dead game’ meant once I became a father. Holding my newborn daughter in my arms sent a wave of feelings and emotions coursing through my body that I could never explain, not even with a million words. All I know, is that as soon as I laid eyes on her, I burst out crying in tears. She was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen in my life.

We did the natural thing and didn’t have an ultrasound. I mean, we had an ultrasound, but we asked the doctor not to even speculate what the sex may be. Like most men, there was a part of me looking forward to having a son, but I wasn’t the kind of guy that was going to be mad or pissed off if it was a girl either. It truly was all good. I just prayed for a healthy child.

And once my daughter arrived into this world, I felt a whole new sense of responsibility. This was my child. Flesh of my flesh. Blood of my blood.. I had to provide for her. I had to protect her. I had to love her. If anything came to harm her, it would have to kill me first. Those who have children that they love, whether girls or boys, know what I mean.

But once I accepted the invitation to Christian discipleship, I learned that there is a whole different level of being ‘dead game’ that goes beyond the sacrifice you’re willing to make for your family.

A lot of the things that I write about began with conversations that I had with my distribution manager, Tommy Curvey. Curvey is not only the distribution manager for Servinemup Ink, he’s also my barber. And usually when we get together, we start chopping it up. Talking about the things going on in the hood and in the world. Discussing and applying it to what thus saith the LORD.

One of the reasons I was able to make it through Stanford University and earn my degree in Electrical Engineering, was because I learned the value of having good study partners. People who took the same class with you that you could study together with. Sometimes you may have to borrow their notes, sometimes they might have to borrow yours..but you look out for each other. It’s very close to the same principle of partnership and looking out for your podnaz that Curvey learned when he was locked up in the penitentiary for over 7 years. Between both of our backgrounds, we cover a lot of area.

Since Curvey and I are two of the few black men in our age group that actually study the Bible, it brings a whole new dynamic to our friendship that can’t be attained with people who have never studied the Word to show themselves approved.

We’re both two hard headed black men in our 30’s that grew up on the Southside of Houston, Texas. We both grew up going to Blueridge Baptist Church, with the late Rev.W.D. Richardson as our pastor. We both come from families that are rooted in the Word. We both know how to clown and act a fool. We both played Class 5A varsity sports in high school. Curvey played middle linebacker at Worthing, I played shortstop for Booker T. or as my principal F.D. Wesley says, “Booker Washington.”

We were talking one day about something Pastor Richardson used to say ALL the time. It was kinda wild, because this was something that he used to say over 25 years ago, and in our lifetime, we see it coming to fruition. Pastor Richardson would often address the congregation and make a reference to the ‘family’ as we know it:

“There will come a time, where you’re going to have to go to a museum, to see a black family. A full family with a daddy and a mama at home with their kids. Pretty soon all you will have are single mothers or single fathers and the family structure as God planned it to be will become extinct.”

As a child listening to this, I had no clue to what Pastor Richardson was talking about. But as I’ve grown to an adult and I’ve opened my eyes to the world that we’re living in, I can clearly see the traditional family structure moving toward extinction. We all know about all the men in jail, and all the men on drugs and all the men that are victims to homicide and all the men that refuse to assume the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood and all the men that choose to lead alternative lifestyles and all the men that are downright sorry deadbeats, and I could see Pastor Richardson’s foreshadowing taking place.

So as Curvey and I were talking about what we could do to help the hood, how we could join the battle and do something positive to help all of these babies out here who are having babies, all of these families that were struggling to survive, all of the answers we could come up with pointed back to the Word.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” – Hosea 4:6

When people don’t know the path that God prescribes for us to walk, then they’re more apt to ad-lib and make up things as they go. Doing what ‘feels’ right to them. Doing what makes them feel comfortable. Pretty soon, it starts getting so wild, that people fool themselves into believing that their indulgences are cool with the LORD.

God doesn’t care if you have a couple of girlfriends, as long as you’re not lying to anybody about it, it’s all good.

God is all about love, so why would He consider two men loving each other an abomination? Homophobia is something that man created, God loves all kinda love.

I’ve heard some people say some wild things. And it all points back to the state of Israel when they strayed away from the commandments of God.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25

That’s pretty much where we’re headed. Instead of conforming themselves to the Word, people are trying to make the Word conform to their lifestyle and that just ain’t gonna work. At some point, obedience and sacrifice have to enter the picture. To truly obey God’s Word, you have to be ready to sacrifice some lusts of the flesh. Because if you think you can just do whatever (as long as you don’t hurt nobody ) and God is cool with that? Then the chances are high that you are living in unrepentant sin.

Fooling yourself into thinking that shacking up is alright with the LORD. Fooling yourself into thinking that pre-marital sex and adultery are fine. Fooling yourself into thinking that whatever you gotta do to make money, no matter how many laws you have to break and no matter how many lies you have to tell to get that money, is kosher.

In case no one has told you, the Grace and Mercy that we live under through Jesus Christ was not won without a price. There is a cost that Christ paid for us to have access to the kingdom.

In baseball terms, God called a suicide squeeze play and Christ laid down the bunt at Calvary and He scored the game winning run with His resurrection early on a Sunday morning. We can all celebrate and jump for joy and crowd around Him at the plate, jumping up in down in jubilation, He gave us the victory!!

That doesn’t mean we have free reign to pay our dues and do as we please. What it means is that we all have a choice to make. God didn’t make us into mindless zombies, we all have our own free will to accept Christ’s invitation to everlasting life or reject it.

It’s God will that ALL should be saved (I Timothy 2:4). But sadly, all of us are not going to accept His offer. There’s a lot of reasons why people refuse or shun Christian discipleship, but when you look at the state of the world today. And more specifically, the state of our families, then you can quickly realize that there is no other name given under heaven by which we might be saved.

So since God graced me and Curvey to come into the knowledge of the Word, we knew that it was our responsibility to shine this Light into the darkness that is encircling our society. Or as the African proverb goes, ‘Each one teach one.’

Being in the publishing business and selling books to the general public leaves room for creative expression. Everyone doesn’t ‘get it’. Some church folks (usually the Pharisees) have even criticized me for the way I get down with the pen.

“And you call yourself a Christian using all those nasty filthy curse words!??”

My writing style is not for everybody, because everybody isn’t ready to be real like we are on the Southside. But for all those hard heads on the street, who have never been exposed to any sound Biblical doctrines of: Creation, the Fall of Man, Israel and it’s struggle toward nationhood, the prophets, the birth of Christ, His life, teaching, preaching and miracles, His death and resurrection, His ascension and His claim that the Scriptures were closed with the New Testament..then Real Game will be a good training program for you to read. A lot of people know a ‘lil bit’ about the Bible, but they aren’t knowledgeable about the intricacies of the Word. That’s where me and Curvey come in, we’re out here serving these fools.

Servinemup Ink (a Southside Publishing Company)

D. E. Washington – Writer

Tommy Curvey – Distribution Manager

L.F. Lubin, MS RD – Editor.

“It’s some boys in the hood sell anything for profit.. 2- 3 on the corner clocking (clocking)...dem boys got work.” – Boyz N da Hood, ‘Dem Boyz’