Another faith angle with a Detroit Tigers pitcher: Free Press nails how Matthew Boyd raised his game

Apparently, I'm not the only journalist interested in the faith of Detroit Tigers pitchers.

To refresh those who haven't committed all my baseball stories to memory: A few years ago, I interviewed Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris about his baptism in his uniform as a high school player.

Just a few weeks ago, I interviewed a different Tigers pitcher — Michael Fulmer — about the role of faith in his approach to baseball and life, including his offseason job as a part-time plumber.

And now — thanks to my friend Ron Hadfield, one of the world's most devoted Detroit fans — I have come across a feature about the faith of yet another Tigers pitcher: Matthew Boyd.

The recent Detroit Free Press story notes that Boyd has "raised his game."

How'd he do it?

Let's check out the subhead:

Family, faith, fatherhood have helped take Matthew Boyd to a new level over his eight starts for the Detroit Tigers this season

Alrighty. That sounds like a religion story.

Often, we at GetReligion complain about holy ghosts in sports stories. But in this case, give the Free Press credit for its willingness to focus on that angle.

The paper even quotes Boyd's pastor up high:

SEATTLE — Nicholas Castellanos stood in the visitor’s clubhouse at Safeco Field on Thursday night and began shouting to nobody in particular, as he watched replays of Matthew Boyd’s latest start for the Detroit Tigers.
“Matthew Boyd ain’t a secret,” Castellanos said. “Cat’s out of the bag.”
What’s also no secret, in addition to the quality starts Boyd has given the Tigers in the majority of his appearances in 2018, is how fatherhood has changed him for the better since Meira Joy Boyd entered the world July 27, 2017. 
“He gets his priorities right," Jeff Vanderstelt, the lead pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Wash., said of Boyd. 
Vanderstelt sat in Section 134 on Thursday night with Boyd's family. 
"His relationship with God is No. 1," Vanderstelt said. "His wife and his kid are No. 2 and then baseball is third. That’s one of the reasons he does well, because he gets the things that matter most in order. And then he can go out and play. It doesn’t have to be everything. Which, I think, frees a guy up to play to the best of his abilities.”
Vanderstelt reflected on the man he’s grown to respect more and more as the years roll on. 

Some more good faith-related content from the piece:

Told of Vanderstelt’s comments, Boyd said: “Well, that’s flattering. That’s God’s grace in me. That’s not my own doing. That’s completely God and working in me and giving me grace. I haven’t been that way. I’ve been quite the opposite in the past. It’s a daily walk, a daily battle.”
Lisa Boyd, Matthew's mother, said fatherhood has given her son better perspective on who he wants to be. 
"He's always been an old soul and a compassionate soul," she said. "He continues to strive to be his best self. He's probably more self aware now that he has a child, of being the best person that he can, the person that God created him to be and embracing every little moment of each day. The opportunity he has to touch people." 
Boyd, 27, remains active in the church, and mentors youth from his home state. 

I wish the Free Press had included just a few more details about Boyd's faith journey and background. In other words, how did he get — from a religious perspective — where he is today in how he views his Christianity and its importance in his life?

But overall, it's a real nice piece, especially considering how often sports stories tend to ignore the faith angle.

Check it out.

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