Opening Day and the D.C. Metro

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Opening Day and the D.C. Metro

April 4, 2016 -

Baseball is back. The last time meaningful games were played, Donald Trump and Ben Carson were close in Republican polling, the Paris attacks hadn’t happened yet, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ads were teasing the yet-to-be-released blockbuster. If you’re having trouble remembering, the Kansas City Royals roundly defeated the up and coming New York Mets in five games to secure their first World Series title since 1985. Salvador Perez was named MVP for the series, marking the first time in over twenty years that a catcher won the coveted award.

After the long winter months, which saw the Alabama Crimson Tide roll to another National Championship and the Denver Broncos muscle their way to a Super Bowl 50 victory, regular season baseball is back. Numerous storylines capture the state of the game the start of the new season: the rise of young stars, the increased prominence of new stats, new pace-of-play rules, and the ever-present vexing question: will the Giants make it four World Series in as many even years?  

The pomp and circumstance that surround Opening Day in baseball is truly something to behold. Teams go all out to celebrate the beginning of the new season. There are massive, field-spanning American flags, jet-flyovers, celebrity first pitches, and the spectacle of new players in new uniforms for the first time.

But game two follows Opening Day for every team, and when that game begins, reality begins to set in. It’s more about the slow and steady march of consistency over the course of the next six months than any one single game.

While baseball commences its season, the New York Times is running a piece bemoaning the sad state of the once glorious Washington D.C. Metro. The article explores how the subway system, a key form of transport for the city, is unreliable, outdated, and short on funding. The chairman who helps oversee the Metro recently admitted, “If we do nothing, ten years from now the system won’t be running.” The problem is namely one of neglected infrastructure, as Stolberg and Fandos of the Times article report:

“Like other transit systems, Metro suffers from a lack of investment in infrastructure: As Mr. Evans (the Metro chairman) broadcast on Twitter last week, some of the original 1976 trains are still in use. The Federal Transit Administration says one-quarter of the nation’s rail assets are in “marginal or poor condition.” In 2013, it estimated an $86 billion backlog in deferred maintenance nationwide.”

The truth is difficult to hear sometimes. No one gets excited about spending on infrastructure. It isn’t a common platform for politicians to use to try to get elected. We would all rather focus on the new projects awaiting our future than look at what needs our maintenance.

The reality for the D.C. Metro is the same reality that every baseball team will deal with: the only way to keep up a winning product is to meticulously focus on keeping all the different parts running at optimal strength. Just like a Metro line can be entirely compromised by the neglect of just a few areas, a baseball team can be compromised by the poor play (or injury) of just a few players.

Beyond the D.C. Metro and baseball, however, our lives also reflect this basic truth of faithfulness and consistency. It’s easy to get swept up in a particularly deep or powerful moment of spirituality, but it’s hard to keep that passion and commitment evident in your everyday life. It’s easy to say “yes” on your wedding day, but much harder to say “yes” every day thereafter.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer summarizes the call to faithfulness and consistency by juxtaposing cheap grace with costly grace: “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ . . . . Costly grace is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.”

Nobody gets excited about maintenance or infrastructure. No one gets as revved up for a baseball game in the dog days of summer as they do on Opening Day. But the call of the Christian life is a call to faithfulness in every season. Thankfully, God’s grace gives us new mercies every morning, a new opportunity to live for Him today.

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