First off… I am a hard-core, lifelong Cardinals fan. I am also a follower of Jesus Christ. Put those two facts together and I was thrilled to get a copy of this book. But my expectations were too high. I picked this book with 5-star enthusiasm and 5-star expectations but could only give it a 3-star rating.
Now, as for what I liked… really enjoyed learning about the many Christians affiliated with the Cardinals, but two of the testimonies that stood out most were from Kyle McClellan and Skip Schumaker (both now former Cardinals). McClellan because of an analogy he shares about his dog greeting him at the door and Schumaker because of his conversion story and his involvement with raising money for a rare children’s disease (a genetic disorder). He became involved in this cause while watching some friends lose their child to the disorder.
As for how it could have been better? It seems like most chapters had a familiar feel or pattern to it: guy plays baseball, guy commits to follow Christ fully, guy faces challenges like (a) being called up to the big leagues and/or (b) dealing with injuries, guy leans on his faith to make it. The stories start to run together. After finishing the book, I watched a Cardinals game. Many of the players written about were in the game and yet I found myself frustrated in not remembering their testimonies. Digging deeper to find more heart-touching faith stories would have helped take it to another level.
Also, “Intentional Walk” tends to focus on the benefits of how Christ can help a ballplayer deal with the challenges of his profession and lifestyle. While there is nothing wrong with that, it falls short of presenting heart-touching testimonies of God’s undeserved favor. To put it another way, the book lacks much emphasis on sin, repentance, and the forgiveness of sin made possible by the perfect life, sacrificial atoning death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s not that I expect these players to be theologians, but I would have been thrilled to see more focus on the main thing: Christ crucified on our behalf. And then more details about their conversion story as well.
“Intentional Walk” is to be recommended as a good book, especially for baseball fans, and even more for Cardinals fans.
*I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.