Whining about Baseball? Give Me a Break!

This will probably be my only sports-related post ever so listen up and pay attention.

Right out of the gate I have to admit that I’m not really a baseball fan, or even a fan of any other sport for that matter, so I readily admit that this post may be uninformed at best. I have only watched the 2006 World Series thus far because my son is excited that the Tigers are in the series and he wanted us to watch it together. Beyond that I have no particular loyalty to the Tigers and a month from now will probably have to be reminded that I even watched it.

(By the way, thank God I paid attention when my dad was watching the Braves all those years so I was able to answer all his questions and keep him up to speed on what was happening by providing a little color commentary of my own. It even turned out to be fun, but that was due more to our spending time together than the game itself, although even that was a little fun.)

I, too, saw the smudge on Kenny Rogers’ hand during the first inning Sunday night just like everyone else in the free world did. Now, I have no idea what the smudge was, and frankly, I really don’t care all that much because I have a life, which means I have bigger things to worry about than little boys’ playground games.

At first it seemed like it was just the Cardinals complaining about Rogers and I thought they were just being sore losers. It seems, however, that most people, journalists, Cardinals fans, and anyone else breathing air with an opinion, have all pretty much concluded that Rogers did indeed use something illegal. Even Joshua Prager in his In the Fray column in today’s (October 26, 2006) Wall Street Journal seems to assume Rogers is guilty, guilty, guilty. (I say assume because no one has offered any definitive proof except that it looked to them like something other than dirt despite the umpire’s pronouncing it to be dirt and Mr. La Russa’s reluctance to demand Rogers be ejected from the game. Leave it to us Americans to come up with a conspiracy theory a la Mr. Prager’s column.)

Anyhow, I must point out the one detail that everyone apparently has overlooked: after Kenny Roger’s wiped the smudge off his hands, he went on to pitch seven more shut-out innings, all minus that smudge or any other. Everyone must have had their memories of the next seven innings erased because until the Cardinals won on Tuesday night everyone just couldn’t stop talking about the first-inning smudge.

I know there are millions of dollars involved, blah, blah, blah (too many dollars involved, if you ask me), the integrity of the game, blah, blah, blah (like there’s any of that left in professional sports), and the fans expect blah, blah, blah (actually, if the fans are expecting much, it’s their own fault for living in a fantasy world).

Really, though, can anyone be surprised if a professional sportsperson did something illegal in order to win? In fact, don’t they pay him those millions of dollars to win? Is there not an implicit understanding that they will do whatever it takes to win? And doesn’t integrity take a back seat to everything else in our culture when money and prestige is involved? So if a famous professional athlete didn’t break the rules under pressure to accomplish his goals, maybe that would be something to be shocked over.


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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