It was the top of the fifth, with a runner on first base and the Oakland A’s David DeJesus at the plate. Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, a right hander, stepped off the pitching rubber as if to attempt a pick-off throw to first, but instead at the last second changed his mind and threw sideways to the plate and right at the batter. It was a weird move and briefly confused the umpires.
DeJesus claimed the ball hit him and walked to first base, advancing the runner. Finally, the umps called it a balk and advanced the runner on first to second base and returned DeJesus to the plate to finish his at-bat. Since Verlander stepped off the pitching rubber, it was considered a no-pitch.
Oakland manager Bob Geren said, “That was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen . . . It took like six coaches to try to figure out what he did.”
Verlander’s mental error was the talk of baseball for a day or two, and all he could do was laugh. He said, “I saw the video of it and I couldn’t help but laugh.”
As the saying goes, blessed is the man who can laugh at himself for he’ll never cease to be amused.
I haven’t been under the microscope that Verlander was under the other Saturday when he committed that bizarre balk. But I’ve had my embarrassing moments.
Like the time I purchased a new suit. We were newly weds who joined this swanky, upscale church in Buckhead because I worked with several young professionals who attended there.
The first Sunday I wore my new suit, I sat in worship with my arm around my wife. Good worship, great Sunday, new suit, beautiful wife. I got home and took my coat off and noticed the store tag still sewn to the sleeve. I was so embarrassed. I guess I displayed that tag all morning and no one had the heart to point the fashion faux pas out to me.
Then there was the December Sunday that I was preaching and my tongue somehow slipped and I made reference to the “tity of Bethlehem.” I quickly repeated “the city of Bethlehem” and went on.
But one of my worst fears came to reality in February. I’m finally at the point at which I can barely talk about this traumatic experience. I was at a local business, meeting with a young couple, finished my time with them, and walked out to the car to go to my next visit.
Then I decided I should probably go back in and use the facilities. I was in a hurry and found the restrooms. They were labeled with cute names instead of the straightforward “men” and “women.” Plus, there were no universal pictures on the doors.
So I’m in the stall, and someone entered the rest room, and I heard the clip, clop, clip, clop of high heels on the tile floor. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t remember seeing any urinals. And then I thought, “I’ve got to get out of here.”
And as I turned to make my escape, the sign on the back of the stall door confirmed my worse fear: “Please don’t flush sanitary products down the toilet.” I have never been so embarrassed in my life. My face turned red, I started sweating, and thankfully, I got out before my other rest room colleague surfaced and didn’t pass anybody else on her way in.
I quickly exited and fully expected to see blue lights in my rearview mirror. Even pastors occasionally do dumb things, and sometimes they live to tell about it. I promise to be more careful in the future.
If you live long enough, you, too, will have an embarrassing moment or two. As mentioned, blessed is the man who can laugh at himself, for he’ll never cease to be amused.
As Proverbs 17:22 states, “A merry heart does good like medicine.” Laughter is good for you, so you might as well learn to laugh at yourself.
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org.