Church softball season is winding down. It’s been a fun year, but our last two games have been against two teams from the same church, a church which doctrinally gives me issues.
Inevitably games against this church involve arguments. For some reason I was pitching in our last game and there were runners at second and third with no outs and a big guy up. I pitched him junk. He didn’t swing. A person from their bench said, “That looked like an intentional walk.”
I laughingly said, “Ya think?” Which then led to an argument. “Can you do that? Is that legal? Do the rules say you can intentionally walk people?”
Later a guy was rounding third, I took the throw from the outfield and ran toward the runner assuming he would turn back to third. For some odd reason, he decided to go for it, so I tagged him out. “Wait, can you do that? Can you tag a runner going home?”
Granted our church league has some odd rules, but both these plays were perfectly legit baseball plays. There may, in fact, be a rule about tagging runners going home, but this was such a dumb play, no way he was going to score, that it’s not what the rules were written for. There may be a rule about intentional walks, but in all fairness, he could have swung. It’s not like the catcher stood five feet outside, I didn’t miss by that much.
At the same time, there are no rules about borrowing players if your church has multiple teams (because this is the only church up here big enough to do so), yet their two teams swap out their best players whenever possible to guarantee they both win (they are both in the top three in our league). There are no rules but this is a blatant violation of baseball etiquette.
Rules, for them, are things invented to help us win, to gain advantage over you, things to be manipulated to make us look better. This is called legalism.
David could not eat the shewbread if he played on their softball team. Jesus could not pick corn if He played first base for them. Rules are not things provided so you can one-up others.
Rules are not for the righteous but the unrighteous. Rules are there to prevent people from getting away with stuff that can hurt others or to prevent cheating. Rules are not there to keep the other team from playing the game of baseball.
Legalism must die. The Spirit should reign, not the coldness of the letter in baseball and in Christian living.