Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review — Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals

I have never been a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I don't have anything against the Cards, but I'm a life-long Yankees fan and have also become a Braves fan in the past 30 years (yes, I'm old enough to have been a Yankee fan for much longer than I've been a Braves fan). Until this weekend, I probably could not have named a single Cardinals' player. So, when I saw this book, Intentional Walk: An Inside Look at the Faith That Drives the St. Louis Cardinals (Kindle edition), I didn't decide to read it because of the team. Frankly, I decided to read it because a good friend and my brother-in-law are rabid Cardinal fans and I wanted to know something about the team. Secondly, I decided to read it because I was intrigued that a baseball team would be known for its cadre of Christian players to the point that someone would write a book about that.

What I found is that this book is not really a book about baseball. You won’t find juicy tidbits of gossip about the players. There’s no recounting of deals gone sour. For the most part, there are no play-by-play retelling of games. Except for chapter 17, "The Postseason", about the Cards in the 2012 playoffs, this is really a book about baseball players and how their faith in Christ impacts their lives both on and off the field. I was disappointed at first and I really think the book would have benefited from a bit more baseball. In the end, though, I really enjoyed the book. I didn't find the book preachy but I recognize that I'm biased towards the perspective of this book.

With 2 exceptions, Rains uses a separate chapter to talk about the faith of each of 18 different members of the Cardinals' organization — almost mini-biographies. The 2 exceptions are one chapter in which he talks about 2 players and the 17th chapter in which he talks about the 2012 postseason.

There are several themes that run through the whole book, many of them in almost every chapter:
  • God has a plan that may not match our plan
  • God is not selecting the winners because he's more interested in the relationship (between Him and an individual and between individuals)
  • Baseball is a game based on errors - you fail most of the time
  • You have to understand that not every day is going to be a good day
  • A believer has to be excellent in everything he does, do his best, because he's working as unto the Lord
Manager Mike Matheny's quote near the end of the book sums it up well:
I believe in every aspect of my life that I am called to excellence. I believe, through my faith, that I am called to high expectations....
This was a good read and I recommend it. (A book has to really grab me to get a 5-star rating.)

(DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of Intentional Walk through the publisher's blogger review program, BookSneeze, in exchange for a review. I was free to write the review that I thought the book deserved.)

Run and read well, y'all,
Bob Allen
Nairobi, Kenya
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