Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Swing Hosana?

Billy Sunday: baseball player, tent evangelist, and role model for today's Red Sox?

Johnny Damon may look like Jesus, but I think that I'm on fairly safe theological ground when I say that God is not a Red Sox fan. Nor, it must be noted, is he rooting for the Cardinals. Aside from the fact that he has forsaken the Bronx Bombers (as detailed in the musical Damn Yankees)its a safe bet to assume that Jehovah wears the hats of the 30 MLB teams. He also has the best interests of the remaining 6 billion people on earth who don't play big time professional baseball in the United States. This point has been hashed over time and time again by fans, athletes, and sports media so I think its safe to assume that 99.9% of us in non-pro athlete land think it a touch over the top for these multi-millionaire ball players to point to heaven or thank God or Jesus for a hit, a run, a strike out, or a victory.

What is particularly galling however in this part of the world, New England, is that there is a long tradition of not wearing ones beliefs on ones sleeve. Religion is an intensely personal subject in the Northeast United States, save the odd Pentecostal church in a trailer with the "Jesus Says Bomb Iraq" marquee outside. If you think I'm overstating the case, try watching John Kerry discuss his Catholicism in the same manner Bush raves about his hotline to God and you'll see a small-y yankee squirm harder than George Steinbrenner trying to find the words to congratulate the Red Sox. I for one think that this is how things should be, given that this is a region that first drew European settlers seeking both freedom of conscience and freedom from the conscience of others.

So what is to be made of the hired hands on the Red Sox bringing their gauche and cloying "God made me pitch/hit/catch that way" statements to the ecumenical cathedral of Fenway Park? What can we do, as New England residents, to gently convince them to stow that Bible belt born again blathering until they are traded to one of those teams in the flyover states that play on astroturf?

Yelling at them will do no good, so we should perhaps kill this nascent embarrassment fest by joining in over-emphatically. I suggest that the next time Curt Shilling's foot bleeds for example, fans rush the mound and proclaim that they can see the Virgin Mary in the stain on his sock. Maybe when Pedro Martinez points to Heaven, folks could clip a lock of his hair and wear it in a reliquary. When 'Cubby' Cabrera rests the bat across both shoulders the next up after thanking the lord, someone could nail him to it as a reminder of Jesus's suffering for our sins. Perhaps the next time Bill Mueller opens his mouth, he can be traded somewhere far away.

Anyway, tonight could be the night; the Sox are 27 outs away from a World Series. The Cards aren't out of it yet, but maybe for the uber-superstitious out there, this long but interesting account of the origins of the alleged curse might help allay some fears and offer up some uncomfortable truths about Boston's troubled past:
A Curse Born of Hate

OK, back to politics, elections, and the middle east after tomorrow...

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