I don’t normally post family stuff on Twitter, but I thought I’d make an exception for a great little story that some of you may enjoy. Anyone who knows me knows I love baseball. I coach both of my older sons here in the Twin Cities. This is a story about my oldest son’s team.
He plays for the 11AAA Minneapolis Millers (my middle son plays for the 10AAA Millers). (Fun fact: my grandfather managed the Minneapolis Millers minor league team in 1955 before being called up to manage the NY Giants in 1956). Here’s a pic of him in a Millers uniform.
By all accounts, the 11AAA Millers are a mediocre travel ball team. We’re a city team with 12 goofy kids with all kinds of personality. (Early in the season one kid brought a baby Yoda doll to the game and called him Rally Yoda.)
As coaches, we jokingly referred to ourselves as the Mighty Ducks of Baseball (complete with a head coach who was raised as a "cake-eater" in the suburb of Edina). In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, our record had been 2-12.
Coming into the final week of this season, we were a more respectable 11-19. We had won one tiny tournament (only 4 teams in it) which earned us a bid to the two end-of-season state tournaments. We were hoping for some Mighty Ducks of Baseball magic. Quack, Quack.
But in the first state tournament, we went 0-3 in pool play & were knocked out. For you stat junkies, we had a team batting average of .155 in that tournament. We had the same number of hits as errors in the tournament (12). In our last game, he only had one hit & were shut-out.
It was rough—the kids went up to bat trying not to strike out (which is not the same thing as trying to get a hit). Shoulders sagged when they made an error. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure. It was a dismal showing, even for our mediocre team.
After that game, while the coaches commiserated, the kids found a green playground ball, threw their hats down as bases, & proceeded to play their own version of “baseball.”
They swung hard, flew around the bases, dove for catches. They were playing loose & laughing & having a big time. You know, as though baseball was fun. “Where were these kids all weekend?” we wondered.
So we decided to mix things up. No more traditional pre-game warm-up. No more hitting progression or batting cage or hitting hard ground balls.
Instead, we had the kids do a Willie Mays drill: The kid takes off running like a wide receiver in football & a coach throws a pop fly over his shoulder that he tries to snag like Willie in the famous Catch of the 1954 World Series.
(Fun side note: during the season our head coach was reading a biography of Willie Mays and came across this fun little story:
After the Willie Mays drill, the kids would play catch for a few minutes to loosen up their arms. Then we had them play a 6-on-6 game of wiffle ball for a half hour. Then, game time.

What happened next is the stuff of Hollywood.
Our next game was the semi-finals of the consolation bracket of the league playoffs (we didn't make the Tier 1 bracket). We played a team that had beaten us 5 of 6 times that year.
But we had Willie Mays and wiffle-ball warmup. We beat them 10-6.
On to the consolation finals. Willie Mays and wiffle-ball warm-up. We win 14-4. Our kids are absolutely mashing the ball. We finally started living up to our team chant:
I say, Orange, you say Crush.
Millers on 3. 1-2-3 Millers!
We were ending on a high note: Champions of the Tier 2 Consolation Bracket. Not bad for the Mighty Ducks of Baseball. All we had left was the last state tournament.

32 teams, 8 pools of 4 teams, only the top team in each pool makes it to the championship bracket.
Our goal was to win one game. But Willie and wiffle ball had other plans.
We were seeded 26 out of 32 teams. Our first game was against the No. 7 seed. Willie Mays and wiffle ball warm-up. We put up 7 runs in the second inning and win the game 9-3. Orange Crush indeed.
Next game against the No. 10 seed. Willie Mays and Wiffle Ball warmup. Then 13 hits, no errors later, we win 10-0. And just like that, we’ve secured the top spot in our pool. Our 3rd game doesn’t even matter.
(We did do Willie and Wiffle Ball for the 3rd game, but we also tried to conserve some pitching for bracket play (kids only get 110 pitches for the whole tournament), and lost the game 5-1. No big deal. Orange Crush is in the Elite 8.)
Quarterfinals game against the No. 15 seed. They had beaten us in the previous state tournament.
Willie and Wiffle Ball Warmup, then 12 hits, and a 7-2 win.
Orange Crush to the semi-finals.
Now it gets really tough. Playing the No. 3 seed in the state. Season record: 28-5-1. 1st inning, their third hitter launches a homer over the CF fence.
But we did Willie Mays & Wiffle Ball Warm-up. 11 hits later, Orange Crush wins 8-4 & it’s on to the state championship game.
We’re playing the No. 9 seed, but that’s an understatement. They had placed 2nd in the other state tournament. 32-9 on the season. A really good baseball team.
(Side note: We had played them once before this year, early in the season, in that game, they were winning 9-0 going into the last inning. They started playing “Another One Bites the Dust” on a big speaker. You get the idea.
In that game, we used copious amounts of rally licorice (I told you we were a goofy team) and scored 9 runs in the 6th to tie it, and then won the game in extra innings. It was the high point of our season. Until now.)
So we knew they wanted revenge. But we had Willie & Wiffle Ball Warm-up.
We come out swinging & go up 5-0 in the 1st.
They battle back & tie the game in the 2nd.
We get 2 more in the top of the 3rd.
They answer with 2 in the bottom.
We get 2 in the top of the 4th & hold them, and we’re up 9-7 going into the top of the 5th.

Then it gets surreal.
We load the bases in the top of the 5th. My son comes up to bat. He works the count to 3-2.
Again, state championship game, bases loaded, 3-2 count.
And then this happens.
His first ever home run—a grand slam on a 3-2 count in the championship game. Literally every kids dream
(Did I mention Mighty Ducks of Baseball?).
We get two more runs to go up 15-7. My son then pitches the final two innings of the game, and it ends like this (with a little soundtrack help from my wife and Celine).
Orange Crush wins 15-8.
In the final 8 games of Willie & Wiffle Ball Warm-up, our team batting average was .355. We had 81 hits, scored 74 runs, had 14 doubles, & 2 home runs (our only two ever).
We made diving catches, fielded hard ground balls, and pitched our hearts out.
The mediocre Mighty Ducks of Baseball.
A few hours after we won, the families gathered at a local park for an end of season cookout. Brats, kebabs, potato salad, & all the Orange Crush the kids could drink.
The parents sat around picnic tables reminiscing about the improbable season, the amazing plays, the hilarious tales from the dugout. Touching tributes were made to coaches, and we all ate and drank and laughed and set down stones of remembrance.
And the kids? They played wiffle ball.

The End.
Post-script: Orange Crush
Post-script 2: Wiffle Ball Warm-up
Post script 3: More Wiffle Ball Warm-up
Post-script 4: Grand Slam Ball
Appendix A: Orange Crush: Tales From the Dugout
Part 1: Bagpipes

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More from @joe_rigney

22 Jul
So it seems that a number of you liked Orange Crush: A Wiffle Ball Story. And if that’s you, I’ve got good news: there’s more.
Like I said before, the coaches feel like we lived through a movie. But it wasn't just because of the storyline; it was because of the 12 goofy kids we had in the dugout. They're what makes the whole thing so amazing.
So allow me to present:
#OrangeCrush: Tales from the Dugout
Part 1: Bagpipes
So we have a kid who only started playing baseball in 2019 (so this is only his 3rd season of playing baseball). Great kid. Doesn’t like to wear shoes. Super fun to have on the team.
Read 22 tweets
16 Mar
With a little help from @KSPrior, I’d like to try to bring a bit more clarity to the empathy/sympathy debate. I still think what I think, but finding other ways to express it has its important uses, and my thinking has been clarified through some of my interactions.
And to those who say, “Isn’t the fact that you’re still talking about this evidence that *you* were unclear?”, let me say, perhaps. It also might be that some people struggle to read carefully and charitably.
But regardless, my goal is to avoid quarrelsomeness (which isn't the same as avoiding debate), to be kind to everyone (which isn't the same as caving to pressure), to teach, to patiently endure evil (including misrepresentations), & to correct opponents with gentleness.
Read 13 tweets
15 Mar
So a few quick items on these two response to the empathy/sympathy discussion from @JoelMcDurmon. lambsreign.com/blog/canceling… lambsreign.com/blog/the-dange…
1) I appreciate Dr. McDurmon's attempt to substantively engage with arguments. As I've said before, after 2+ years, I couldn't point to a single public response to my work on empathy that actually engaged with my arguments and position (I have had fruitful private conversations).
Instead, online criticisms (whether on Twitter or in other forms) have misrepresented the actual claims I've made and attacked strawmen with my face on it. (There have been a few exceptions on Twitter). So it's good that someone took the time to attempt making arguments.
Read 24 tweets
12 Mar
Since it seems like people are wanting to talk "empathy" today, I had one thought based on @RevKevDeYoung's recent article about 4 Approaches to Race, Gender, and Politics. thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-de…
In it, Kevin argues for four different "teams" based on different moods, instincts, and sensibilities. He uses a positive word that each team would likely accept to describe them:
So the debate about the Man Rampant video and "the sin of empathy" provides a good test case for Kevin's taxonomy. It seems to me that it breaks down like this:

4’s (Team Courageous) loved the content and are promoting it like crazy (and in some cases may be misusing it)
Read 7 tweets
9 Feb
So, every time this sort of dustup happens in response to my interviews & writings on empathy, I find that it's a real opportunity *for me* to do a couple of things:
1) It's an opportunity to obey Jesus by rejoicing when people slander and misrepresent you.
2) It's an opportunity to obey Jesus by praying for opponents and critics who willfully misrepresent you and attack strawman versions of your arguments.
3) It's an opportunity for gratitude for critics who actually take the time to understand one's position *and represent it accurately*. I have friends who disagree with my framing in the Man Rampant video. I've been helped by their feedback & gotten clarity in my own mind.
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
Some reflections as things become clearer in the aftermath of last week (apologies for the length). Obviously the situation is still in process and I've not looked at everything. But the following (at this point) seems to me to be the case:
At the Capital we've got different groups:
1a) normal marchers, waving American flags & wearing MAGA hats (who went back to their hotels after the rally)
1b) Selfie-taking attention-seekers: those who were there to see a show & those who were there to put on a show (Viking man)
1c) Angry protestors who wanted to put pressure on their representatives about certifying the election.
1d) Angry rioters who wanted to find their political opponents & beat them into submission (& who assaulted & killed police officers in the process).
Read 31 tweets

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