In the play, “Damn Yankees,” there’s a line from Joe Boyd, a fan of the hopeless Washington Senators.
“One long ball hitter, that’s what we need! I’d sell my soul for one long ball hitter.”
And so his deal with the devil brings success to the team, particularly against the “Damn Yankees.”
My good friend Kent Harrop, currently enjoying the success of the Red Sox and the downward spiral of my beloved Yankees invoked, jokingly since I believe he is monotheistic, the concept of praying to the baseball gods during the recent Yankees/Red Sox series.
If the intent of the prayer is achieved, is this evidence of divine intervention? Why would “God” or ‘gods’ care about sports? Yet, in almost every sport, athletes can be seen praying before a game, invoking the sign of the cross before stepping into the batter’s box, or pointing to the sky in some offering of thanks after scoring a run.
Do these acts reflect an actual acknowledgment of divine intervention? Perhaps they are merely thanking the divine being for their abilities, but not expecting any supernatural assistance?
If that’s the case, explain the 1969 Mets.
(As an aside, if there is such a thing as an anthropomorphic god I do hope he looks like George Burns.)
If a measure of success is proof of divine intervention, then God must favor the Yankees. (appearances in 40 of the 111 World Series, winning 27. More than double of the next closest teams. The Red Sox have 8, not too high in the standings with the sports god. Kent needs to pray harder.)
There may also be some evidence that God favors the New England Patriots in a cruel, twisted, Old Testament sort of way. I mean, suspend one quarterback (the work of the devil himself, Roger Goodell), injure the second, and then score a shutout at home with a third string quarterback who probably thought his first NFL start wouldn’t be until the next decade.
The religious in this country see plenty of benefit from believing that God intervenes with their teams, their candidates for office, and their daily lives. They see the various acts of acknowledgment of faith as beneficial at best and harmless at worse.
Yet, just like the rivalry between Red Sox and Yankee fans raises dissension, I wonder how they’d feel if a Muslim ball player thanked Allah for that homerun. What if a Muslim wide receiver placed his prayer rug in the end zone and invoked the words, “Allahu Akbar?”
Suddenly, the appreciation for religious demonstrations in sports would be tested. If taking a knee during the National Anthem angers people, invoking Allah would make them apoplectic.
And what if this same Muslim invocation “worked?” Not only does God pay attention to sports, but it’s the wrong God.
Heavens to Murgatroyd!
It would prove nothing, but offer some interesting entertainment watching the consternation of the Christian majority.
As I often acknowledge, I do not know the answers but see a need to ask the questions. You may keep your God is your own way. You may even approve of the symbols invoked by athletes who hold the same beliefs. But I think the nature of the world speaks to the efficacy of such actions.
If God devotes time deciding who wins the World Series, or Super Bowl, or the Stanley Cup, the condition of the world would seem to underscore he, or she, is being diverted from paying attention to things that really matter.
“Hear my prayer oh God behind the Pearly Gates.
It’s time for the Yankees to win number twenty-eight.
Take no heed of the Red Sox whine,
Deny them winning number nine.” (From the book of Joe.)