What Pitch Would Jesus Throw
By Lee Russ
Sunday, July 09, 2006 at 05:12 PM
Sports seem to be an absolute magnet for religious people and concepts. We've all seen the winning athletes credit their success to God's will and God-given talent, while the losers are strangely silent on God's sudden dislike of them and their own sudden lack of God-given talent.
Now there is a report that a major league baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, have embraced "a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success."
No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of baseball's Colorado Rockies. There's not even a Maxim. The only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.
Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office executives to pray together.
On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by Christianity -- open to other religious beliefs but embracing a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.
The Rockies' approach is unusual in that religious doctrine is a guide for running a franchise. The club's executives emphasize they are not intolerant of other views.
"We try to do the best job we can to get people with the right sense of moral values, but we certainly don't poll our players or our organization to find out who is Christian and who isn't," says [General Manager Dan] O'Dowd, who says he has had prayer sessions on the telephone with club President Keli McGregor and manager Clint Hurdle. "I know some of the guys who are Christians, but I can't tell you who is and who isn't."
"You look at things that have happened to us this year," O'Dowd says. "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."
Well, if it was going to happen, it was probably going to happen in Colorado, home of the Air Force Christian Academy and so many megachurches that no one gives directions like "take a left at the church" anymore.
But how does this type of devout Christianity work on a professional team? Will they trade only for other Christian players? Will there be a religious conviction test before a player is drafted by the organization? Can pitchers still throw at hitters? Only at hitters who are atheists or at least non-Christian?
Is it still kosher to steal a base? Does the base-stealer have to pay penance?
When other teams throw at Rockies batters, do they have to turn the other cheek? Or are they of the "eye for an eye" tribe?
And I'm really curious about what makes sports and car magazines automatically consistent with their new Christian character.
But my strongest curiosity is left for the money issue. Who's going to take the vow of poverty, the management or the players? Maybe both, and the faithful fans can see games free?
Why do I think that's as unlikely as the team refusing to take admission money from women who've had abortions, and people who have been divorced?