Anticipation, excitement, and celebration are all passionate elements of sports. So is frustration. Sometimes frustration takes center stage. We’ve probably all seen the angry golfer sling his expensive club into the water hazard. Who can forget John McEnroe smashing his tennis rackets in anger as he yelled at the judges? Sometimes these outbursts become ‘comical’. But sometimes they become dangerous. In sports where helmets are used, these articles of protection are sometimes the recipients of the frustration. Here is how one recent situation was reported by Mark Townsend…
“Every time we see an angry baseball player throw his helmet or smash his bat in the dugout, we hold our breath hoping no innocent bystanders are struck or injured by the flying debris.
That was the case again on Saturday night when San Diego's Justin Upton returned to the dugout angry after being picked off by Colorado's John Axford. Upton attempted to spike his helmet into the ground in frustration, but lost his grip and instead sent it flying toward his teammates sitting along the dugout fence.
Among those sitting, minding his own business, was first baseman Yonder Alonso. He never saw the helmet coming and ended up getting clipped across the head.”
Alonso ended up having to leave the game. The video below shows Upton walking through the dugout, frustrated, and upon getting to the end of the dugout slinging the helmet. As soon as it leaves his hand, he realizes the helmet is heading for trouble. His face changes from anger to fear as he turns to find it hitting his teammate.
Frankly, this scene is played out without the injury multiple times in every baseball game. This time however it went very wrong. Baseball has injuries, some of which are violent. But it isn’t as injury riddled as some of the other sports. But when you throw a helmet in a dugout, you are kind of opening the door for some bad things to happen.
Upton’s anger hurt his teammate. He lost control. He thought he was in control. But when the helmet left his hand, he did not control it. How often do words leave our mouth in frustration or anger and hurt one of our teammates, spouse, child, friend, co-worker? How many times have you said something only to have to say, “I didn’t really mean that?” Our words are like a flying plastic helmet bouncing around in an enclosed concrete dugout. No one believes Upton intended to hurt Alonso. But he didn't do what he could to not injure his teammate.
The Bible talks about the dangerous power of loose words…
“There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
“The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)
The apostle James gives us an extended version of a warning on words in his letter…
“Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.
Every sea creature, reptile, bird, or animal is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.” (James 3:3-12)
Your tongue is like a helmet. It can protect, or it can be flung out there and become a weapon that hurts people you never intended to hurt. Once words leave your mouth, you don’t get to controls them. So control them before they enter the atmosphere.
Nothing slips out of your mouth. Nothing. You are responsible for every word today. You can be sorry for what you say, or you can be sure of what you say. It is your choice. Do not injure the people on your team because you are upset. That makes absolutely no sense. Your frustration is not more important than your relationships.
As a side note... Alonso, after being struck in the head by Upton's helmet then goes off and turns over the bubble gum container, and other things in the dugout. Not only can our words hurt others... they can also start off a chain reaction of angry responses. It rarely ends well. I don't think we can be reminded too often to watch our words.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.