Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Baby Jesus Never Calls His Shot

When I was playing baseball in high school, I noticed a trend with the other players on the team.  Before the first pitch, many of them would huddle in the dugout for a quick prayer to thank Jesus and of course, ask the almighty to bless us as we took the field.  With the baby Jesus in our back pocket, we managed only two wins my senior year.

Now recently I've realized that I have now lived long enough to witness the evolution of this spectacle to a whole new level of absurdity.  Professional athletes in the United States spend an inordinate amount of time thanking their god for being able to throw harder, hit farther, run faster, tackle better, or for having the sickest juke on the football field, ever.  We have baseball players, football players... even NASCAR drivers all pointing to the sky to give thanks to whichever star that happens to be overhead at the time when they point their finger.  Or better yet, they pause and kneel for a moment of quiet prayer to thank their god in a stadium full of 80,000 screaming fans.

I've also noticed that lately these athletes are starting to remind me of high profile religious leaders in that, as the months go by, a select few of these athletes seem to be trying to one-up each other giving thanks to the baby Jesus.  It's like they've decided to go beyond the sporting event and take their battle to a more "spiritual" plane.

I'll give you a very recent example: Josh Hamilton claims that his god told him - that's right, TOLD him, that he was going to hit a home run in the 10th inning of game six of the World Series.  He couldn't be more serious, either.  In an interview, Josh said the following:

"He said, you haven't hit one in a while and this is the time you're going to.  But there was a period at the end of that. He didn't say, you're going to hit it and you're going to win.' ''

Now, with the whole universe to maintain, starving children in Africa, human beings suffering in agony as they take their last breath... Josh's god took the time to make sure he could walk to the plate with the confidence that he was swinging the bat for Jesus.  For at the moment Josh made contact with the baseball, the perfect wood of god would propel the baseball over the outfield wall of Busch Stadium and into the stands where a lucky believer could receive a genuine religious artifact.  Yep, god wanted Josh to deliver the unlimited power of the lord thy god using the sweet spot of an Ash bat.  And nobody in the sporting world even bothers to question Josh's egotistical display of religion, or wonders if Josh's sanity may be slipping to the point where he quite possibly needs to be seen by a psychiatrist.

No, this statement seems perfectly sane and completely appropriate to an uncomfortable majority of people in the United States.  As a matter of fact, his statement is being heralded in my area as a window into the character of the man that is Josh Hamilton.

As insane as all of this is, there's one thing that sports reporters and religious athletes are choosing to ignore.  Josh never mentioned anything about god speaking to him at his other at-bats, nor did god take the time to tell Josh that he would only go 7 of 29, with a mediocre batting average of .241 in the World Series.  It seems that the almighty speaks to these people only after they succeed, where predictions are always after the fact and god never calls his shot.

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