Manny Ramirez, the somewhat relaxed Boston Red Sox outfielder, does not talk to the media.
Last night, however, he was so impressed with his own ability to hit a game-ending home run, that he deigned to offer some mots that some might consider not so bons.
Because he began with a set of words, a divine formula, that has been increasingly heard in postgame interviews:
” First of all,” he said, his dreadlocks still wrapped in a blue do-rag, ” I’d like to thank God….”
I have long been Pondering why sportsmen, American sportsmen, to be precise, have felt the increasing need to offer thanks to their (long ball-, buzzer-beater-, Hail Mary-) maker.
Could they have done a deal with God whereby the Almighty demands an additional 10% if his name is not mentioned alongside their successes? Could it be that, in a heightened form of product placement, they are simply trying to get more clients for the Sporting Lord? Or perhaps there is some secret Christian organization burgeoning within the sporting glitterati, one that requires players behave in certain ways and offer a certain portion of their salary in return for eternal life?
These players’ urine is regularly examined. But Has anyone examined their backs for self-inflicted welts?
Hoopus Dei, anyone?
The worst sinners tend to be the most sanctimonius. And none is more sanctimonious than the Mother Teresa of coaches, Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. His image is one of extreme serenity.
Not unlike that apparently espoused by that reliable closer, and still world record-holder in saves, Jesus Christ.
Yet in last year’s Superbowl, you would have thought that Dungy would have been conscious of the significance of both teams having, for the first time ever, coaches who weren’t white.
The NFL, that most Christian and bleached of organizations, was not exactly speedy in encouraging black men to do anything other than run fast and grow even larger in order to bring America its most cherished post-chapel Sunday entertainment.
But when Dungy walked from the field victorious, he was asked how he felt participating in the first ever Superbowl to have two black head coaches. (the strangely Christian-named Lovie Smith being his opponent.)
” The important thing,” he declared, ” is that we’re two Christian coaches.”
One can only imagine if the Mets’ Shawn Green, having helped his team reach the baseball playoffs, had turned to the camera, taken off his cap to reveal a yarmulke and said: ” I felt Yahweh’s arm guiding my swing.”
Or if the Az-Zahir Hakim, once of the Detroit Lions, had ventured the phrase: ” Allah Akbar” after a particularly moving touchdown catch.
The outrage would have reverberated from the bank vaults of their respective sporting bodies.
Yet the Christian witless bearing witness are truly demonstrating the bottomless profundity of their faith.
I believe in God. We won. Therefore God is the reason we won. If I did not believe in God, we would have lost.
Not for a moment does a savvy and Atheist interviewer interrupt and say: ” Hold on, Mr. Dungy. But the other team’s coach is Christian too. So why do you think God wanted him to lose?”
The fact is that there is considerable religious infighting within America’s sports teams. 30% of the Detroit Lions, for example, at the end of every practice, get together to shout: ” 1-2-3- JESUS!!!” They are led by that wise God-Squadder, quarterback Jon Kitna. The other 70% turn the other buttcheek and quietly walk off the field.
If you want to see truly embarrassing footage, try viewing the Colts locker room after their Superbowl win. Coach Dungy asked all his players to kneel and recite the Lord’s Prayer. Several players were, to put it delicately, totally pissed off.
And then there was New Mexico State football coach, Hal Mumme. He demanded that his players recite Our Father before every game. Oh, and after each practice too.
Four of the players were so appalled they sued him. And won. (Officially, there was a settlement. But God was that day, it seems, on the side of the four Muslims.)
From my vantage point below the surface here, sanctimonious demands and postgame spoutings are nothing more than the victorious looking into the camera and screaming ” I’m going to Godworld!!!”
Godworld should surely be a place for all human deeds, not merely the superhuman ones. Yet somehow these sports figures and figurines only seem to declare their beliefs when they win.
(Try, if your like your amusement on the dry side, going to Christiansportsman.com. On the home page, under the words
‘ Taking adventure to a higher level’, you will find a picture of a bear and a fishing rod. And a gun.)
In order to present the Christian attitude to suffering in its true Biblical light, surely we should be able to see, say, a disappointed wide receiver shout: ” What the hell did I do to that Bleep Bleep God that he made me drop that Bleep Bleep pass?!!!”
It isn’t going to happen, is it?
In fact, I am deeply surprised that the Church of Latter Day Saints has not mustered the marketing gumption, embraced the most superhuman of victories and sponsored NBC’s ” Heroes.”
Hold on a minute, though.
Isn’t the Church of Scientology making a movie about Hitler? Or am I just a little confused?