Mike Dunn – The Long Road Home

Nevada Lonely Road

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes through the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6.  Photo by Alan Levine

Sometimes the road back home is a long and arduous one.

Mike Dunn was born in Farmington, New Mexico.  He spent the first 17 years of his life there, where he attended Piedra Vista High School.  His journey away from home began in 2003 when he moved to Nevada for his senior year of high school; a move designed to get him in front of professional scouts while playing for Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.  The moved worked!  In 2003, he was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 14th round of the draft.

He didn’t sign.

Instead, he enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada in Henderson.  In 2004, he was drafted again, this time by the New York Yankees in the 33rd round.  He was the 999th player selected.  He signed with the Yankees, making his debut in the Gulf Coast league in Florida and was promoted to the Staten Island Yankees.  In 2007, he pitched in Charleston, South Carolina and in 2008 he played minor league ball in both Tampa and Trenton, New Jersey.  In 2009, he was promoted to AAA, bringing him to Scranton, PA, and finally, in September, he made it all the way up to New York to make his major league debut for the Yankees.  After the 2010 season, Dunn was traded to the Marlins, whom he played for through the 2016 season.

Florida, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.  5 states; none of them home.  As his baseball career moved him across the country, to Dunn, the Southwest would always be home.  He told the Farmington Daily Times; “I come back all the time.  Of course, I lived there my whole life, so I had a lot of friends there.  I come back to Farmington at least two, maybe three times every off-season.”

In 2016, that would all change.  Dunn signed a 3-year deal with the Colorado Rockies, who play about 380 miles from Farmington.  Colorado is rarely the top destination for pitchers, and Coors Field is famous for inflating pitcher’s statistics, due largely to the high altitude.  For Dunn, though, Colorado was the top choice.  He explained; “It was probably the one destination spot I wanted to go, based on the team they had, but also close to home.  Once Colorado got involved, I told my agent ‘let’s really try to push this,’ and if not, we were gonna go back to the other guys.”

It was a long road, but the game of baseball finally brought Dunn back home.

In the Bible, Jesus talks about another road that leads us home.  The Greek word “odos,” means road, though it is often translated as way.  Jesus says that He is the road; the only path that one can take to make it to our heavenly home.  Jesus says in John 14:6; “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

This is one of Mike Dunn’s favorite Bible verse.  He told Rob Maadi in the book “Baseball Faith:“In one little sentence, Jesus tells you there’s no other way to heaven except through Him.  No one can boast.  No one is better than anyone else.  Everyone is made the same in God’s eyes.  Everyone is equal, no matter your race, gender, or anything.  It’s about doing what you can for the Lord while you’re here on earth.  Jesus will get you to heaven.  The road to hell is wide.  It’s an interstate, fifteen lanes wide.  The road to heaven is one way…  It’s right there in the Bible.  You can’t earn your way to heaven.  The only way is to go through Jesus.  He took the punishment for us.  We’re all sinners.  It’s our nature.  Repent, ask for forgiveness, and you will be saved.”

Jesus truly is the only way to heaven.  We can’t earn our way into eternal paradise through our good works or by being a good person.  It’s only by admitting that we are sinners and relying on the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross on our behalf that can take away our sins.  Faith in Him is the only way to heaven and the only road home.

Jason Motte – John 3:16

SONY DSC

Relief Pitcher Jason Motte.  Photo by Barbara Moore

No one is perfect.

On August 16, 2012, Jason Motte was far from it.

Motte – currently a relief pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, was then serving as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals were playing the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, and were leading 1-0 in the ninth.  Cardinals manager Mike Mattheny called on his trusty reliever to record the final three outs and bring the Cards to victory.  After recording the first out, Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt stepped up to the plate.  He homered to tie the game at 1.  The next batter was outfielder Chris Young.  He hit the go ahead homer, and the Diamondbacks won the game.

Later that evening, Motte found himself at a difficult place for an athlete to be after a tough night; Twitter.  The Twitterverse usually isn’t kind to a pitcher after a blown save.  But that night, one comment struck him.  Someone wrote to Motte these words; “No one is perfect.”  Motte responded; “One person was, and [because] of Him, I have peace.”  Motte spent some time that night on Twitter, talking baseball and faith among other things.  His final tweet of the evening read; “Not my first, probably won’t be my last.  Learn from the mistakes, correct them, and go get ’em next time.  #blessed.”

It’s often said that closers have to have selective short-term memory to be successful.  It can be a challenge to simply put the past behind you and try again.  Motte’s faith helps him do it.  He explained it this way in the book entitled “Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith that Drives the St. Louis Cardinals;” “Guys ask me, ‘How do you forget about it?’  Honestly, my faith helps a lot.  One of my favorite Bible verses is John 3:16, and it is one of those verses that lets you know that no matter what happens, He is there for you.  That’s how I feel after I pitch, no matter if it’s a good night or a bad night.  Just because a guy is religious doesn’t mean he can’t have a bad game.  But it can’t control your life.”

No one is perfect.  Not even the strongest Christians. But God loves us even in our struggles.  That’s why John 3:16 happened; For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believers in Him shall note perish but have eternal life.

Jesus, the one and only perfect one, came to save us who are imperfect.  1 Peter 1:22 says this of our Savior; He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.  When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”

In those moments in which you feel far from perfect, remember the perfect love that God has for you.  Remember that He died to forgive your sins.  You are a new creation and because of what Jesus did for you, you can follow Jason Motte’s wise advise; Learn from the mistakes, correct them, and go get ’em next time.