WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Daniel Murphy went from headlines reading "The Amazin' MURPH" in the National League Championship Series to another reading "DAMN MURPHY!" after game four of Major League Baseball's 2015 World Series.
In a crucial play in game four with the Kansas City Royals, the well-liked and talented New York Mets second baseman mishandled a simple ground ball in a manner not seen since the Boston Red Sox's Bill Buckner let a slow roller glide between his legs in 1986, an error that lost the Series for the Red Sox and won it for – ironically – the Mets.
The Royals won the 2015 World Series.
Prior to that one play, Murphy had been instrumental in getting his team to the big show. He had batted .529, hit four home runs, and had six RBIs during the Natinoal League Championship Series. Sports Illustrated even praised the young ballplayer. None of that seemed to matter to his critics after the error.
Murphy could have listened to the negative voices and criticism. He could have become depressed. He could have waited for the endless replays on Sports Center.
He didn't, however, because he knew his identity wasn't Daniel Murphy, professional baseball player. It was Daniel Murphy, follower of Jesus Christ.
Murphy, now with the Washington Nationals, spoke from the field Aug. 27 during the Nationals' "Faith and Family Night." He, along with pitcher Blake Treinen and infielder Anthony Rendon, gave their personal testimonies to the thousands of fans who stayed at the park following an afternoon baseball game.
Murphy told Nationals' team chaplain Tim Pierson that he knew the costly error didn't matter to God.
"My wife and family had an opportunity last year to play in the World Series, and got the most perfect picture of Jesus' love and how it's not dependent on our current circumstances," Murphy said.
"Jesus loves us right where we're at. He always gives us what we need, amen? He doesn't always give us what we want."
Murphy seemed to be cruising toward a Series when things started to go south. He had only three hits in the Series and then the devastating error.
That's when the New York Daily News printed the headline, cursing the second baseman. Murphy asked that a copy of the paper be shipped home. On the field Aug. 27, he pulled the copy of the paper out and showed the headline to the crowd. The paper, he said, means a lot to him because it taught him a lesson.
He held it up, along with the copy of Sports Illustrated, which called him "Amazin'."
"I know that Jesus loves me as much in this moment," Murphy said as he pointed to the Daily News, "as he does in this moment." He held up the flattering cover as well.
"Jesus was trying to make me look more like himself. I don't know about the rest of you, but that is a painful process. But it's worth it."
Murphy has also been criticized for saying in interviews that he doesn't believe in the homosexual lifestyle. In 2015, Murphy was asked if he would be accepting of a gay teammate. In that case, he was asked about Billy Bean, who had announced he was gay after leaving a six-year MLB career. Bean was then named the MLB "Inclusion Ambassador."
"I disagree with his lifestyle," Murphy said. "I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."
Murphy then said Christians may not have done a very good job of letting the world know what they believe on the issue of homosexuality.
"We love the people. We disagree with the lifestyle. That's the way I would describe it for me. It's the same way that there are aspects of my life that I'm trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There's a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn't mean I'm just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That's not love. That's not love at all."
Murphy's comments earned him significant backlash among the LGBT lobby. A writer at Slate.com said he was glad Murphy lost the World Series for the Mets.