Monday, July 21, 2014

Fernando Rodney: Pride vs. Humlity

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
                —Matthew 23:12
Jesus' words are indeed challenging; it's a tough message because it is true. And sports finds a way of revealing this time and again. Fernando Rodney, the ace closer of the Seattle Mariners provides a recent example. 

To be honest, Rodney is a bit of an easy target. The 37-year old Dominican pitcher is the only player in the game who wears his lid so blatantly to the side. In Golf Boys 2.0 Rickie Fowler mentions going "flat bill." Rodney has followed suit. His look is smug and so his an eye-catching ritual on the mound. Bill Baer writes "Though it's done in the name of good-natured fun, Fernando Rodney's bow-and-arrow celebration after nailing down a save has, at times, rubbed people the wrong way."

I know for a fact that were Rodney to play for a rival team of the San Francisco Giants, I would be one of those people. But because he pitches in the AL, I find his antics entertaining and colorful. But even more amusing is how a divisional rival, the Anaheim Angels responded.

Right now, the Angels have the second best record in all of MLB, but they are a game and a half back of first place. The Mariners are trailing by nine games. Rodney came into the Sunday afternoon contest at Angel Stadium (July 20, 2014) in the eighth inning with a 5-4 lead. When Rodney secured the final two outs, he pulled a bow from the imaginary quiver he carries on his back and shot it at the Angels dugout. 
No denying that throwing the fastball the was he does isn't easy, especially on the road, but his performance took place with one inning to go. And wouldn't you know it, the Mariner hero—one who exalted himself—was humbled. 

Baer wrote "the Angels decided to borrow it when they came from behind against Rodney and eventually walked off 6-5 winners in the ninth inning on Sunday. Mike Trout led off the ninth inning with a walk, then used his speed to score from first on an Albert Pujols double to right field. After Trout scored, Pujols mimicked firing a bow-and-arrow towards Trout (and, he says, the Angels dugout). Trout returned the shot back to Pujols. The Angels would take a 6-5 victory when Grant Green pushed a two-out single up the middle to score Josh Hamilton."
Trout was the MVP at the 2014 All-Star Game where Rodney shot his arrow at the NL.
All parties involved say its just Rodney's "schtick." And Rodney said “I did it for the fans. When I came out, they booed me. I did that for them. It’s part of the game.” It is...and it isn't.

Rodney's antic, which I also noticed at the All-Star game, has made me wonder: Why is pride so entertaining? Why isn't humility more appealing? Is there a middle-ground?

I also thought that these questions should never be considered in isolation. I thought: Do Rodney's teammates and coaches appreciate his pride? Does it lend itself to a selfless mentality or group flourishing?  Can one person really take the spotlight or does that happen at the expense of others?

If pride weren't so tempting, it wouldn't one of the seven deadly sins. But every human battles it in their own way. Some of us put it on display in the middle of a baseball diamond and our opponents are are too happy to call us out. The best part of this story however is that a lot of people had a lot of fun with it—and I believe even Rodney showed a little humility is enjoying it as well.

Remember, it's only July so the heat isn't on in the way it will be come September. Oh, and I have a feeling Fernando Rodney's quiver is still full. 

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