The 2011 World Series was tied 2-2 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. In that pivotal game, the score was tied 2-2. It was a critical time for each team.
At this point a bazaar thing happened. Tommy La Russa, manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, phoned the bullpen to have the right pitchers warming up in relief. It was a critical time to communicate effectively.
Part of the problem is that he was using a black handset telephone with gray pushbuttons. It was a device that came out the same year the National League was formed! The game will always be known as the “Phone Foulup.”
In an age where we have texting, email, Skype, iChat, Facetime, and many other forms of communication, the communication system in the ballpark was archaic. As Keith Olbermann, a baseball historian and television commentator said, “With all this technology, they can’t get a phone call completed from one part of the building to another part of the building.”
The bullpen coach at first did not hear the phone ring. When he did answer, La Russa told him to have left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and right-hander Jason Motte warm up. The bullpen coach only heard Rzepczynski. Motte, his ace closer, was not told to warm up.
But that is not all. When La Russa noticed that his ace closer was not warming up, he called the bullpen again. Again there was a miscommunication. The bullpen coach thought he heard “Lynn” for right-hander Lance Lynn, who had already thrown too many pitches in the previous game. The coach didn’t tell Lynn to warm up.
Without his closer ready, La Russa had to leave Rzepczynski in the game to face Napoli. All the percentages were against this match up – and the percentages were correct. Napoli hit a ball into the gap for a two-run double – and a two-run loss for the Cardinals.
Poor communication – it was a colossal foulup.
Maybe La Russa should have had one of the guys standing next to him in the dugout run down to the bullpen and deliver the message person to person. Most of the guys standing around him looked like they could use a little exercise. It would also have been a more accurate way to communicate.
How many times are there foul-ups because of poor communication? Think about work in the office place. Somebody fails to get the message, or gets the wrong message. Sometimes we are not using the best technology. What we think we hear is not what the person sending the message was really saying. These same factors occur in marriage, in family relationships, and in church.
Excellent communication is critical in the Christian faith. The Gospel is Good News. People need to hear that. We don’t need any foul-ups. While the best of technology needs to be used in sharing the Good News, the best way is person to person. We all need some spiritual exercise while carrying the message person to person. Read I Corinthians 9:18-23. Paul says “I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:23 NLT)
In Game 5 of the World Series, communication failed twice! Two times the message was not received.
Maybe as individuals, or businesses, or families, or the church, we have failed one time in communicating. Maybe this lesson should be that we won’t fail a second time.
The bullpen needs to know what to do! The game of life is on the line! You are the manager!
Communicate! No phone foul-ups!