Monday, April 05, 2004

The other day, there was a headline in the Columbus Ledger Enquirer: “Faith in God keeps Braves' Drew optimistic

It reminded me of a lovely Sunday morning last year. The birds were chirping the sun was shining, the Blue Jays were playing later that day.


My lovely wife and two teenaged daughters decided we need a little edification and toddled off to Sunday services. The sermon was enthralling, our souls were overflowing with spiritual joy and suddenly the main doors of the building blew open. Silhouetted by the sun we could only see a large shadowy figure and he appeared to be quite imposing carrying what appeared to be a weapon.

A nervous murmur began in one corner of the hall and quickly spread throughout the congregation. Judgment Day? A cameo by ol' Scratch himself? Carl Everett in a poopy mood? A lost soul seeking redemption? Suddenly he stepped out from the bright sunlight and we could see him clearly ... a man with a baseball bat in one hand and a ball in the other and he, without warning, bellowed: "anybody wanna play ball?!?!?!"

The account is fictitious, I would sincerely hope that nobody would be so, um, crass. Hey, I love baseball that's why I’m blogging instead of studying to be a cardiac surgeon or a nuclear physicist (that and an I.Q. I can count on one hand and still have my thumb left over), however a church service is not the time or place for getting a pick up game of baseball going.

So why on earth do fans and players insist on bringing religion into ballparks? I'm a religious man so don't take the following rantings as evidence of my being a heathen or worse, a sports agent. I mean it's O.K. invoke the Deity if Pedro Martinez buzzes one under your chin or the Tigers have batted around on you three times and the manager is peacefully snoozing in the dugout-- but other than that it doesn't belong. I've seen old paintings depicting various works dealing with Christian subject matter but I've yet to see somebody getting devoured at the old Roman Coliseum with somebody in the stands holding up a "John 3:16" sign.

If you want to proselytize do it somewhere other than a ballpark. Jesus didn't have club seating at the Aeropagus and "Jesus saves" doesn't mean that he did so after St. Peter pitched a scoreless seven and eighth while Scottius Boras XXIV was seeing if anybody would top the Pharisees' offer of 30 pieces of silver for the Carpenter not named Chris.

Enough ragging on the fans but quite frankly if you want to propagate your beliefs the way Jesus and his disciples did; read the Gospels and the Book of Acts. They preached in a great many places but never at a sporting event unless they were playing the Lions in the Roman arena.

On to the players:

If not whether you win or lose it's how you pray the game.

What happens if both a pitcher and a hitter cross themselves at the same time? Does God flip a coin? How 'bout a pregame prayer for victory? Does the Good Lord tally up the sinner to saints ratio on the roster to decide who get the win? Joe Carter thanked God for allowing him to win a World Series so I guess Mitch Williams will be doing laps in the Lake of Fire and sulphur, right? Personally I feel sorry for God, he gets credit for things he doesn't want credit for and gets blamed when anything goes wrong.

God doesn't care whether or not you hit .300, win 20 games, wear a World Series ring or make $10+ million a year. He expects you to treat your fellow man the way you wish to be treated, the way your master treated people. I'm the first to admit I'm more sinner than saint but then again I don't make my show of devotion in front of national television audiences either.

If you want religion go to church if you want baseball, go to the stadium and never the twain shall meet. I don't go into your church to start a ballgame so don't come into my ballpark to show me what a good Christian you are ... and while you're at it [fans], lose the dorky technicolor wig. If anything, you're undermining your point of view. Signs at the ballpark aren't enlightening, they're annoying. I have yet to see someone take their family from the park saying: "Let's go home and see what that scripture has to say!" Those signs haven't turned the masses back to God, so why do it? You're not directing attention to the Almighty, you're drawing attention to yourself. Speaking of which:

"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men."

- St. Matthew 6: 1, 2

The separation of church and stadium -- embrace it. It 2004 resolve to only bring banners that deal with baseball.

Today’s link: Retrosheet. If you want to know who did what and when, if you’re going nuts to remember what happened in the first major league game you attended, or you just want to settle a bet--chances are, you’ll find it here.

Best Regards