Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pitchers and Preachers

In case you haven't been keeping up with the wide-world of sports, the MLB playoffs begin today. For some of you, that makes you want to yawn. For others of us, we don't know how to separate baseball from October.
October is one of the greatest months for sports: college football, NFL, basketball is knocking at the door, and the MLB playoffs are almost always full of drama.
(Allow me to take one moment to say that it is great to have an October without the Yankees!!!)
With baseball on the mind, I thought I would share with you a conversation that I have had with a few preacher friends over the past few weeks. We have enjoyed comparing preachers and their preaching-styles to MLB pitchers. Keep in mind, the comparisons are with the pitcher's pitching-style, not their personality.
Enjoy the following, and I welcome your comments.

1) Rick Ross (my dad) is the Andy Petitte of preaching. (No, Rick doesn't take preacher-roids.)
Their styles are both smooth and fluid. Petitte has one of the best pitching motions in all of baseball--calm and collective. You know that you are going to get a quality start every time these two go to work.

2) Rick Atchley is the Randy Johnson of pitching.
It's a toss up when it comes to which one is better looking. :) (Just playing, Rick)
You know what is coming when he steps on the mound--the inside-heater. Rick is aggressive and intense. Yes, he is going to make you laugh and he is a good illustrator/story-teller, but he is coming at you with 3 fastballs, and you know it. He speaks with the voice of a prophet and he is going to tell you how things are, what God says about it, and what it means for your life. He is coming at your heart with conviction and with power, and he will brush you off the plate.

3) My man, Cope, is your Greg Maddox. Mike is going to work the count. He has a few solid pitches and he is going to use them to his advantage. He is going to take you on a journey every single time he stands in front of people. There are times when you wonder where he is going with the sermon, but before you know it you find yourself immersed in the unfolding drama.
As with Greg Maddox, who isn't afraid to let batters fall behind 3-0 before coming back in the count, there are times with Cope's preaching that you will think you are getting away with a powerful word from the Lord for that day, but before you know it, the word will be all over you.
One more thing, like Maddox, if Cope hits you, it is on purpose. :)

4) Randy Harris is Your Johan Santana.
He is going to bring his best stuff every day and you expect him to be on the mound for all 9 innings. I don't know of anyone who has the endurance that Randy has. The guy travels every weekend to preach and/or speak at conferences, he teaches a full load, he writes, and he is one of the best spiritual coaches you'll find. I don't know if I have ever seen Randy with a "b" game. God is that good in him!
For those of you reading, which is your favorite Randy sermon--Mark 8 or 2 Cor.1? He could preach them both in his sleep.

5) Jeff Walling is your Dennis Eckersley.
Eckersley is one of the best closers the game has ever seen. He also had a funny/unique pitching style. Walling is unique in that he is a stand-up comedian who can preach. One moment you will be holding your side because you're laughing so hard...the next moment you will be holding your heart because of the powerful words.
Also, Walling is a closer. If you have ever been at a youth rally with Walling, he will get people to respond. He will call for you to--"let go of the pew in front of you because you know that God is working on your heart and he wants you to give your life to Jesus."
I wasn't alive to hear Jimmy Allen, so I don't know if that would be a fair comparison, but Walling often preaches to close-the-deal.

6) Jerry Taylor is your Mariano Rivera.
He isn't your closer like Walling, but he preaches in a way that builds and builds and builds until in the 9th inning, you are ready to jump out of your seat.
Jerry has the cadence and the rhythm to lead you to the mountaintop. He preaches in a way that will make the gospel come to life in ways that you could have never imagined.

I'll stop there. My apologies go to Seidman, Graves, Luke, Charlton, and all of you other preachers who were left off of this post. My imagination only goes so far. :)
However, for all of you baseball/preacher fans, feel free to add your own comparisons.


Joel Quile said...

I think Seidman is the Sandy Koufax of preaching. Sandy Koufax played with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1955 until his early retirement at age 30 after the 1966 season. Koufax threw a hard fastball that reached the high nineties in speed. He also threw what many claim was the greatest curveball in history. It has been rumored that many people after hearing one of Seidman's sermons have a reaction similar to Micky Mantle after being called out on a wicked thirdstrike curveball. (less the cussing of course.)

I liken myself to more of a Will Ohman. Will played for Pepperdine, got drafted by the Cubs and played for 5 years with them. He got traded this year to the Braves and had a great season but no one knows Will and the Braves didn't make the playoffs. Will doesn't get invited to speak at Summit either, but he can do a dang good Harry Caray impression.

Greg Kendall-Ball said...

All I know is, I bet Cope loves being compared to a pudgy, professorial guy, and that is a GREAT shot of Jerry Taylor at Lectureship!

Anonymous said...

Very creative! I'm guessing most readers will learn something about the preachers by knowing something about pitchers. But, I'm a total idiot when it comes to baseball (too much time in Brazil as a child), and so I learned something about pitchers by knowing something about the preachers. Great descriptions and observations!

Josh Graves said...


You forgot Rubel . . .the godfather . . . who, apologies to Quille, is Koufax (forever changed the role of the preacher in the church).

Siedman is Santana and Fleer is Bob Gibson.

Wow. If I need to google photos I now know who to call.

Your souther bias left off the northerners.

Jonathan Storment said...

funny Josh. Are you saying that Atchley is known for throwing wild? I can totally see where you are coming from :) Who would you be Josh?

Joel Quile said...

With apologies to Graves, just because Santana is the highest paid in the bigs, doesn't mean you should go comparing him to Seidman.

Topher said...

Josh, in style and appearance I think you most closely resemble Goose Gossage.

Topher said...

Josh, both in style and appearance I think you most closely resemble Goose Gossage.

David U said...

With all due respect, Mclaughlin HAS to be included in this list. I would say he is the Mark "the Bird" Fidrych because of his passion. I started to say Al Habrowsky, but Al is not that ugly!

Great post!


Liz Moore said...

I love hearing all these guys! I just heard Jerry Taylor for the first time a few weeks ago here at HOCC. You are right on with his description.

"Jerry Taylor is your Mariano Rivera.
He isn't your closer like Walling, but he preaches in a way that builds and builds and builds until in the 9th inning, you are ready to jump out of your seat."

Ash, Kel n Ella said...

Josh, this post was right up my alley! Great job!

I'm going say that Graves is the Dontrelle Willis of preaching. A young guy who used to have good stuff but is broken down now...JUST KIDDING!

I think JG is the Tim Lincecum of preaching. A young, up-and-comer who brings the heat every time out. He isn't afraid to say what needs to be said even if it makes some people uncomfortable.

Great post!

Josh Ross said...

Now that was fun.
Some great comments and I received some great emails.
Jonathan, I don't know who I'd be. I guess the jury is still out.

kenny said...

josh, GREAT post! i like the other poster like all of them, and i have not heard jerry, tho.

i like all of randy's stuff. i think he pitches games every time he gets on the mound. if were going to be either a preacher or pitcher, he would be my model. his sense of humor and the way he makes you think are great.

i heard him this sunday and mentioned what sandy did during the world series. how he refused to pitch on Yom Kippur, the most sacred of the Jewish holidays, because he wanted to be known more for being a jew, than a pitcher. now that's good stuff!

i think i like randy's talk on 2 cor 1 best, tho.

Cheryl Russell said...

This is great! Pretty good comparisons!