So, I’m pretty much piggy-backing on Gerard’s catch about the Colorado Rockies, but in reading about the Rox’ clubhouse-wide dedication to The Deity, I was reminded of a long piece that ran at Salon.com several weeks ago. I didn’t post about it because I usually only post on developments involving a possible new Mets stadium or how bad the Royals are. And also because Salon’s articles are sometimes hidden behind a premium subscription wall. If you’re a subscriber, you can read it. If not, you can watch a commercial in exchange for seeing a picture of George Wrighster and Kyle Brady praying together (that’s a plurality of Jacksonville’s tight ends!) and what I found to be a fairly interesting overview of clubhouse evangelicals. Turns out they’re rather conservative Christians. I was also shocked. Tom Krattenmaker reports:
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which claims the Bible is “the only infallible, authoritative Word of God,” strives to “see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches.” Similarly, (Athletes In Action) states that it “exists to boldly proclaim the love and truth of Jesus Christ to those uniquely impacted by sport.” Houston Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg (above), who has worked with AIA, put it succinctly in an interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. “The entire reason that I play baseball is so that I get a chance to speak about Christ,” he said.
To promoters of sports-world Christianity, faith is a wholesome force that helps players curb the worst temptations in pro sports — violence and greed, for starters. Chaplains of pro sports teams say their role is to offer prayer services and spiritual counseling to religious players, whose demanding schedules often prevent them from attending church. Today, by most estimates, anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of players on a team, sometimes more, participate in Christian Bible studies and prayer services held by team chaplains, a percentage that mirrors Americans who attend church weekly.
But the Christianizing of sports comes at a scarcely examined cost, both to fans who would prefer watching the game without a dose of in-your-face religion and, in the view of some critics, to religion itself. The problem is that the sports-world faith movement isn’t only bringing religion to professional locker rooms but a potentially divisive brand of conservative Christianity, replete with a worldview shaped by an intolerance of gays and lesbians, women’s rights and other religions.
There’s more, including the inevitable quote from Etan “More Than An Athlete” Thomas, and the slightly less-inevitable quote from wild Samoan Esera Tuaolo (above) :
“I went to a Bible study, and, lo and behold, it was about homosexuality,” recalls Tuaolo, who came out as a gay man after his retirement. “I was thinking, ‘Is this a sign?’ That was what really turned me off.”
The choicest bits, though, come from a former NFL journeyman named Anthony Prior, who went on to write a book entitledThe Slave Side of Sunday.
“How can you say Jesus helped you score that touchdown when the player you beat believes in Jesus too?” asks Prior. “You’ve embarrassed him in front of his fans. God answers your prayer and not his?
In training camp, Prior adds, some marginal players vying for roster spots carry around their Bibles and attend religious services to impress management. If they’re still on the roster after the final cuts, “then their Bible is nowhere to be found,” Prior says. “Until they get injured, of course, and then the Bible is back in your hand.”
For Chicago, desperately seeking a way of replacing Derrek Lee’s production, there’s little to lose, particularly as the Rangers are picking up the lion’s share of Nevin’s salary. But even a lion would’ve known better than to have signed Chan Ho Park and A-Rod to those massive deals, so perhaps such a statement is grossly unfair to one of the animal kingdom’s most beautiful specimens.
The offensively challenged Cubs have continued to struggle tonight, managing just a pair of Juan Pierre singles against the Reds’ Eric Milton, as Cincinnati leads, 3-0 through 7 innings. Ken Griffey Jr.(above, rubbing noses with Ryan Dunn) has a pair of RBI’s, one of them coming on a solo HR off Carlos Zambrano in the 6th. Zambrano can commiserate with Pedro Martinez (and Brandon Webb) on the lack of run support they’ve received tonight, though hopefully Carlos won’t insist he was the winning pitcher if the Reds lose the game.
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.
From ownership on down, it’s an approach the Rockies are proud of ” and something they are wary about publicizing. “We’re nervous, to be honest with you,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd says. “It’s the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs.”
What could possibly be offensive about describing your workforce as “all good Christians?” Unless, of course, you’re pretty confident that you’re doing business in a part of the world where non-Christians don’t exist.
(please no comments like “Jordan and Dowie in happier times. How happy could one be having to listen to the guy on the left?)
Iain Dowie’s unveiling Tuesday as the head coach of Charlton Athletic descended into farce when he was served with a high court writ by his former employers Crystal Palace for allegedly misrepresenting the reasons for his departure from Selhurst Park.
Dowie had completed 20 minutes of his inaugural press conference at the Valley when he was interrupted by a bailiff representing Fladgate Fielder, the London-based law firm acting on behalf of Palace and their outspoken chairman Simon Jordan. The bailiff tried to serve him with legal documents and was initially prevented from doing so but succeeded later in the afternoon.
Jordan had jokingly said he would “not be very happy” if Dowie subsequently decided to join Palace’s local rivals, but his worst fears were realised yesterday when the 41-year-old signed a three-year contract to take over from Alan Curbishley and also suggested that he was ready to relocate to south London.
Palace’s claim for damages centres on a series of private conversations between Jordan and Dowie just prior to his departure on May 22. Jordan alleged that Dowie lied about his reasons for wanting to end his contract and that Palace consequently waived a £1m compensation settlement which would have applied had he resigned to take over at another club.
“The level of deceit that is being used needs to be in the public domain,” Jordan said. “The sole reason Iain Dowie was released from his contract was because he wanted to go to the north and I was empathetic to the fact that he didn’t see his boys. He also specifically told me that he wasn’t going to Charlton because of his relationship with Palace and the credibility he would lose by doing so.”
The Royals fired general manager Allard Baird this morning in anticipation of announcing the hiring of Atlanta assistant Dayton Moore as his replacement.
The club declined official comment regarding the moves, but Baird confirmed he had been fired.
œI was told this morning, he said. œBeyond that, I don™t have anything to say.
Sources say Moore is getting a five-year contract and complete control over baseball operations in a commitment to turn around a franchise that has lost 100 or more games in three of the last four seasons.
Moore, 39, is expected to take control, officially, next week upon completion of baseball™s two-day draft. Sources said assistant general manager Muzzy Jackson will replace Baird on an interim basis.
Almost on cue, the Royals are blowing a chance to Win One For Muzzy. Scott Elarton allowed a first inning 2-run HR to Oakland’s Frank Thomas, and the A’s lead, 2-0.
(well, that’s another great artist whose CD’s are heading straight for eBay)
How fitting that during a period in which The Sultan Of Surly is almost universally loathed for the 24-and-one environment surrounding his swelled head, the Astros are again prepared to break the bank and every (unwritten) rule about team chemistry to gain the services of Roger Clemens for a final 4 months.
Jayson Stark was on Mike Greenburg and Mike Golic’s ESPN show this morning, opining that Koby Clemens’ (Kobe? Kory? Kruncy? Kasey? Krusty?) presence as an Astros farmhand was the deciding factor. “The Rocket’s tune up starts for Lexington might be the most watched minor league games of the year!” drooled Stark, further suggesting that heads might explode in a Cronenburgian frenzy were we to witness Koby digging in against his Dad during a competitive game.
I mean no disrepect to Stark, whose journalistic chops pretty much kill anything I can offer as a cut and paster. But as someone who watches the odd minor league contest every now and then, I’d like to point out the following :
1) Were Clemens to re-sign with the Astros, it is highly unlikely he’d be pitching against Koby. Not unless the younger Clemens was traded to another team. If Stark misspoke and meant Koby as a battery mate for Roger, perhaps he’s not noticed that Koby has been playing 3B this season.
(KORRECTION KORNER : Lexington, Corpus Christi and Rock Rock are all said to be sites of forthcoming tune-up starts for the Rocket, so I goofed. Stark was not incorrect, though I still don’t get what he meant by father-pitching-to-son. If Lexington are going to move the recently injured Koby behind the plate after he’s been playing 3rd just for the purpose of forming a father/son battery, why not invite all other available members of the Clemens Klan to fill out the other positions?)
(poster sales for Dirk should be through the roof in the Phoenix area this summer) More coffee, please for the two guys on Sporting News Radio this morning who claimed that comparing Raja Bell’s presence last night to Willis Reed’s inspirational play in the 1970 NBA Finals 7th game against L.A. was “inappropriate”. In what way? While the Suns weren’t facing elimnation last night, does anyone doubt they’d have little chance of advancing were they trailing 3-1?
Two Phoenix fans filed a complaint against the wife of Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson as the result of a confrontation Tuesday night during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at US Airways Center.
Rebecca Kettle, 32, and Jose Martinez, 34, alleged misdemeanor assault after they got into an argument with Cassandra Johnson midway through the first quarter of the Mavericks-Suns playoff game, according to arena security.
Kettle and Martinez were escorted out of the arena not long after the incident.
Players on the Dallas bench turned around and looked up into the stands when the argument started. However, Avery Johnson said he wasn’t sure what happened.
“I heard something went on,” he said after the Suns evened the series at two games with a 106-86 victory. “We’ve been in situations before on the road. (Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s) wife has had problems. My wife. Our president (Terdema Ussery).
“You know, when you’re on the road, you know things happen. People throw stuff at you. So, we’ll see what happens. I haven’t really talked to her, yet.”
When hate-crime defendant Nicholas (Fat Nick) Minucci clubbed a black man with a baseball bat in Howard Beach last year, “It sounded like Barry Bonds hit a home run,” a former pal told jurors at his trial yesterday.
“Like ‘bing,’ [just] like that!” was how witness Frank Agostini described the sound of Minucci’s aluminum bat slamming against the skull of victim Glenn Moore.
He said Minucci, also 19, swung the bat a second time, again striking Moore, 23, in the head. Moore suffered a fractured skull, but survived the assault.
Then, as they fled the scene, Agostini recalled an angry Minucci saying: “N—-rs want to come to the ‘hood and rob s–t. They learned their lesson.”
Visibly nervous, Agostini avoided eye contact with Minucci and instead sought out his detective father in the back of the courtroom.
Minucci, meanwhile, shot daggers at Agostini, but also busied himself reading a Harvard Law School professor’s treatise on the N-word. He contends he used a variation of the vile slur as a hip-hop friendly greeting to Moore and his pals – and not as a racial slur.
The N-word, along with other profanities, was laced throughout Agostini’s testimony.
Surely Fat Nick’s defense team are aware that Barry Bonds hasn’t used an aluminum bat since his days at ASU?