Originally appeared in Fort Collins Now
3 November 2007
Apparently God is not a Rockies’ fan after all.
As we celebrated the Rockies’ magic carpet ride – winning an unbelievable 21 of 22 games to make the playoffs, sweep the National League championship and get to the World Series – it was all too easy to believe The Big Guy was wearing purple and black and pulling for our team. Baseball players are a notoriously superstitious lot, and far too many people fall prey to the conceit that their team, party or nation enjoys special celestial favor. But this Rockies’ organization went way beyond the usual religious rah-rah, with team management actively fanning the flames of controversy with some of their statements on Christ in the taxpayer-funded clubhouse.
Earlier this year in USA Today, General Manager Dan O’Dowd was quoted as saying “You look at things that have happened to us this year. You look at some of the moves we made and didn’t make. You look at some of the games we’re winning. Those aren’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this.”
Club president Keli McGregor chimed in, “[God’s] using us in a powerful way.”
Then there was owner/CEO Charlie Monfort: ” I believe God sends signs, and we’re seeing those.”
So how come the Red Sox swept us like yesterday’s dust bunnies? Did they pray better? Are we suffering tribulation for doubting the Almighty? Has God joined Red Sox Nation?
Character’s important in sports, and good team chemistry is a priceless intangible that can make the difference between winning and losing. Talent counts, but so does having an unselfish group of players who look out for each other and never give up, rather than a bunch of high-paid fragile egos looking for their next endorsement deal or free agency jackpot. (Wassup, A-Rod!)
The problem is that in the minds of Rockies’ ownership and management, having good character means being a Christian. When they announced at the end of last season that they were looking for some good Christian men to fill the roster, I assume they spoke out of ignorance and not bigotry. Brad Hawpe is Jewish – nothing wrong with him. Kaz Matsui from Japan is not Christian, but he can still turn a nifty double play. Babe Ruth was a notorious heathen and sinner, but was a helluva pitcher and the greatest home run hitter of all time. Would the Rockies pass on Ruth? I hope not.
Here’s my explanation for the Rockies’ meteoric rise and fall, and it has nothing to do with Parables or Revelations. They built a good young nucleus of players, finally developed some pitchers who could play at a mile high, played the best defense in the league, and got timely hits. Plus they had an MVP in left field and a Rookie of the Year at shortstop. From mid-September on, they had to win every game, and they played like it. In fact, the Rox played so well they earned a weeklong layoff, while the Red Sox got hot playing must-win games in the American League championship round. As a diehard Yankees fan, it kills me to say this, but the Red Sox have the best team in baseball, with the most playoff experience.
It’s always burned me that players give credit to Jesus when they succeed, but don’t offer blame when they fail. Just once I’d love to hear during the post-game interview, “You know, the eight days off really hurt Jesus’ timing. He was rusty in Game One, and He really blew it getting picked off first base. I was very disappointed in Him. He definitely choked in this series.”
If the All-Knowing Master of the Entire Universe is paying any attention to planet Earth, I sincerely hope she’s working on the genocide in Darfur, not taking sides in a sports contest. Because in the end, baseball’s just a game.