Why the Rays Won and What the Church Can Learn, Part 1


On the eve of the Tampa Bay Rays first ever playoff game (at which I. Barb, and two friends will be seated in section 309, Row C, seats 9-12 – look for us!) it seemed appropriate to begin to share some thoughts which were stimulated by the Rays’ success (along with some books I’ve been reading – more on that later).

My thoughts will be posted over several days and the conclusion is that there are fascinating realities revealed by the success of the Rays which can inform how we think about the health and growth of a church.

I’m serious, so stop laughing!

First, the history.

Here is a team that has never had a winning season, sporting last year the worst won-lost record in all of baseball. That they would lose baseball games and end up last is what we all expected of them. When a church assumes such an expectation regarding its own contribution to the kingdom, it is deadly to the life and health and happiness of the church. It is easy, though, for small churches to embrace such negative expectations.

This year, to the surprise of most everyone, the former worst team in baseball has the second best record in the American league. They won the AL Eastern Division, the toughest division in baseball, winning 97 games, one more than they lost last year. They hold this record despite an AL second-lowest payroll of $45 million (1/5 the payroll of the Yankees and 1/3 that of the Red Sox, teams against whom they compete in the AL East).

I’ve pondered how this turn around has occurred. I alluded to one reason yesterday, but that is not all.

I wonder, baseball geeks, what you think has contributed to the Rays sudden success? I’ll tip my hand tomorrow.

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