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MLB trade deadline uncertainty

Mark Cook is the program coordinator for the Institute for Global Engagement, a partnership between Denison Forum and Dallas Baptist University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Baptist University, and completed his Masters of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School and Truett Seminary. His ministry background is college ministry, and he has served both on a church staff as well as within campus ministries.

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Oakland Athletics Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) [3143] pitches in the first inning during the Oakland Athletics game versus the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, April 19, 2015 (Credit: Icon Sportswire/Scott Sewell)

Let the trading begin. In the first major move of this year’s MLB trade season, the Oakland A’s sent veteran lefty Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros in return for a few minor league prospects. Later in the day, The Milwaukee Brewers shipped third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a similar return. The trade deadline, July 31st, provides excitement for fans in the middle of a long season, but leaves a vast wake of uncertainty for players as they seek to remain focused as their names get thrown around in trade conversations.

One of the more intriguing elements of this year’s market is the lack of clearly defined buyers and sellers. Usually by this point in this season, with 3+ months in the books, teams know if they have potential to make the playoffs. However, with the introduction of the second wild-card spot a few years ago, adding one more team to each league’s post-season, more teams think they are in contention.

What has happened as a result is that more teams shoot for mediocrity, hoping that they will catch fire in October and make a long post-season run. Last year, both World Series teams were wild-card teams. For the Kansas City Royals, this time last year they were barely above .500 (55-52), looking like another good-but-not-great team. The San Francisco Giants trailed their rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, all season, and looked similar to the Royals near last year’s deadline. Both teams went on to make dramatic postseason runs, fueling the notion that if teams can just hang in the race long enough, maybe they’ll make it.

Thus a market that is full of teams that can’t make up their minds. Maybe if they add one or two of the right players, they’ll ride a wave of momentum to the playoffs. But what if they overestimate their team’s ability and they never make that push?

The Oakland Athletics, run by baseball’s most famous GM, Billy Beane, immortalized in the best-selling book and movie Moneyball, have made the decision that they are selling, and seem to have clarity that few other teams have at this point. Trading Kazmir is generally thought to be just the first of several other moves they will make before July 31st.

From a player’s perspective, the deadline is one of the worst times of the year. Their names are tossed around in wild speculation, and they are scrutinized more closely. Clubhouse chemistry is tested as players worry if they will be with the team past the weekend.

We all have to deal with uncertainty and stress in our daily lives, but just like baseball players have to deal with an ungainly amount of stress during the trade deadline, you and I have different circumstances that come our way that make life more stressful. Whether it is job uncertainty, a medical issue, or relationship strife, there are times when life can seem overwhelming.

One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is Philippians 4:6-7. Paul says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

The Greek word Paul uses for “guard” is a military term for a garrison of troops. So I like to imagine that when I pray and ask God to help me handle a crazy situation, He answers by sending a fresh wave of troops to the frontline of my heart and mind to protect me from the debilitating effects of worry.

God offers us peace if we will go to Him with our troubles. We have to get past ourselves, though. The circumstance that you face is too large for you on your own, but with God’s presence and power, He will help you through it.