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Major League Pitcher Throws Strikes and Unconditional Love

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Mark: “God has blessed me in so many ways – perfect weather, I think it’s the best weather in the world - and I’m thankful I’ve had to really work hard to get here and my talent hasn’t taken me the whole way.” Along the way, San Diego Padres Mark Melancon has played 13 seasons with eight different teams! The 4-time All-Star closer enters the ninth-inning to hold the lead and secure a win! 

Question: “Scouts, people will say you’re a control pitcher that uses his knowledge to know the strike zone well?”

Mark: “That’s a nice way of saying I don’t throw that hard. (Laughs) That’s all right. (Laughs) Everybody wants to throw a hundred miles an hour but I think that masks a lot of details. Unfortunately I don’t have a hundred miles an hour so I have to be better at the details. A lot of times when you have so much talent you overlook those little things.” Attention to detail provides Mark a broader perspective, serving him in bigger challenges personally and professionally.

Question: “Pandemic! What did you learn about yourself and your family?”

Mark: “Time! Time itself is so valuable. Our kids grow up so fast. I have three young ones and a year ago we started this thing and now we’re coming out of it but I’m so thankful in how we’ve gotten to grow together as opposed to being separated in our own lives. The whole time aspect has hit me hard in a good way!”

Question: “What’s your go-to pitch?”

Mark: “Cutter, curveball - are my two go-to pitches. My cutter is basically a little bit offset, four-seam fastball. My curveball is a knuckle-curve. I just rest my finger on top and pull down like a hammer.”

Question: “So when you’re in the bullpen as the game progresses, how do you deal with the timing mentally and rhythm as it approaches?”

Mark: “I have checkpoints throughout the game and I know in the third inning I’ve gotta have this stuff done. When it gets to the fifth, I’m in this situation. The seventh I know mentally, physically I’ve got to be here!  And then the eighth and then I’m rolling!

Question: “Are there moments when you are out there, of companionship with Him in the moment of your pitching?”

Mark: “All the time! Oh yeah! It’s usually when the bases are loaded or second and third, no outs! I’ve just left it up to Him and said, ‘whatever happens here I know you’re going to be with me and I’m going to give it all I have here but whatever happens I know its going to be for the best. Kind of the stress just goes away from me at that point. Having someone like the Lord out there – is pretty nice!”

Question: “The focus finality of a closer, what’s your mindset when you step on that mound?”

Mark: “It’s hard to explain but the tunnel vision that you have when you’re out there is really cool! Can’t really match it anywhere else. Truly is tunnel vision. Focus levels – off the charts! It’s pretty unique in that way.”

Question: “Strike thrower, thrill seeker, that’s how you’re known! Walking with cheetahs, diving with great whites. So, is there one you got in the back of your mind, that’s next?”

Mark: “Ski the Swiss Alps! I’m looking forward to doing that at some point. I’ve sky dived and rode bikes down the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia. All of those things have been really thrill seeking but I’m looking forward to spending some these things with my kids and well as my wife. Skiing down the Swiss Alps would be a blast!”

Mark has reinvented himself over the course of his career, similar to the ongoing transformation of his faith.

Mark: “You know just like your walk with Christ, it’s changing, it’s growing, it’s becoming more mature. I feel like that with each team. You learn a little bit about each person and I feel like that with God, it’s growing with time and the more He puts me in different situations the more I grow with Him.”

Question: “What’s most misunderstood about the Christ that we follow?”

Mark: “That we have to do something to receive Him. Something external. Some good deed! I feel like it’s such a false narrative. I think what helped me most is when I had kids I realized that – boy, I’m going to love them unconditionally! And, I know that He only does that so much more than we do with our kid. So I can’t image His love for us!”

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About The Author

Tom Buehring

Tom currently travels as a National Sports Correspondent for The 700 Club and CBN News. He engages household sports names to consider the faith they’ve discovered within their own unique journey. He has over 30 years of experience as a TV sports anchor, show host, reporter and producer, working commercially at stations in Seattle, Tampa, Nashville and Fayetteville where he developed, launched and hosted numerous nightly and weekly shows and prime-time specials. Prior to his TV market hopping, Tom proposed and built an academic/intern television broadcast program at the University of North