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10/20/2004 Entry: "You Gotta Believe."

Here's where I go into unfamiliar territory for me, and well-trod territory for so many others. I'm a flaky California boy, so I'll forewarn my readers that I've never lived on the other coast, and can only tell you what the view is like from here. But with recent events in the East that have brought it into focus, I feel I must tackle the topic that is truly at the heart of our spiritual values today as a nation:


I looked up at the television on Monday while waiting for my falafel deluxe at Truly Mediterranean. It was the thirteenth inning, Boston was down 3-1 in the series against the New York Yankees, and the camera kept flashing on Red Sox fans with their hands over their mouths, praying. One, and another, and another. The man behind me in line commented, "Why do Red Sox fans keep doing this to themselves?" And in answer, the camera flashed on a sign held high above someone's head: "We Believe."

"Being a Red Sox fan is like a religion. It's like faith, and when playoffs season comes around, it's like your faith is reborn," said Trevor Cruikshank, 18, of Malden, a student at Emerson College.

I can't help but carry the analogy a bit further; their rivals are the Yankees, from the city of science and commerce, home of The Old Grey Lady, one of the most respected news organizations in the country—the touchstone of what we consider "objective" reporting. These are not the Mets, also Yankee rivals, whose fans (if you'll forgive the gross generalizations) are also "the faithful" from the boroughs outlying Manhattan...their baseball parish, if you will. No, the Yanks are from the city of tall buildings and hard facts, where every nation and every faith are represented (or so we're led to believe.)

So here in the seventh game of the American League series, Reason and Faith are battling it out for control after Faith saved itself dramatically. (Somehow this reminds me of that other major two-sided battle going on right now, and the consequences of faith-based electioneering that that decision entails.)

Therefore, in my mind, rooting for the Red Sox is like rooting for religion; believing that faith with triumph over reason, that God has a plan and a reason. While I'm an atheist, I'm also an infracaninophile. I want the come-from-behind story to win, which is, in some ways, also a position based on faith (that something ineffable makes the less likely more worthy to win.) So this is not a comfortable position for me between the two. I'm the one who declared that not only was God dead, but He was buried in the backyard of a Goleta, California Ranch-style home.

In the end I'm compelled to root for the Sox. Not because I've had a religious epiphany, though. The Boyfriend's mother is a lifelong Red Sox fan, so I don't really have a choice who to root for. Even if God doesn't have a plan, Mrs. H. just might—and that plan might involve separate beds at Christmas.

As of this writing, the Sox are up 8-1. I'm not sure Faith has as much to do with that as the Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, though.

On the other hand, I'm superstitious enough to say that I really hope the Redskins lose against the Packers. Sorry, Mrs. H. I know you're a fan of Washington too, but some things are more important than that.

Replies: 4 comments

Bonus points to you for using infracaninophile in a sentence.

Posted by Nala @ 10/21/2004 12:10 AM PST

These are not the Cubs, also Yankee rivals, whose fans (if you'll forgive the gross generalizations) are also "the faithful" from the boroughs outlying Manhattan...their baseball parish, if you will.

- I believe you mean the Mets? The Cubs are in Chicago, which I think can only be described as outlying boroughs of Manhattan in the most weirdly cynical Brooksian sense of pop geopolitics.

Posted by Daniel M. Laenker @ 10/21/2004 01:41 PM PST

I did indeed mean the Mets, and have updated the story to say so. My knowledge about geography, while small, is not quite that ill-proportioned. And besides which, it is soundly dwarfed by my ignorance about baseball...

Posted by Casey @ 10/21/2004 05:58 PM PST

It is always tough for me when people in sports or music talk about their faith in God. The standard questions about 'Why would God care about a baseball game when people are dying in (insert tragic location here)?' and 'What if both pitchers love the same God? What does God do then?'
It is tough for me because I don't always know. I have to think that God does not give two shakes about whether the Red Sox win or lose. I have to think that God cares more about the people dying in the tragic location. I also have to think that God loves both pitchers but isn't going to get involved in who wins the game. But... The belief that people in sports and music have about God is a 'personal' belief. I wouldn't say that they shouldn't share their beliefs, I think by all means anyone should be able to share anything, but I will say that because it is a personal belief that they have with their God, I am never offended when they say that God was with them during the game, but I am eye-rolling when they say God helped them win the game. I picture God sitting down with a hot dog, drinking a soda and just enjoying the environment. Thanks for a good read!

Posted by davidj @ 10/21/2004 07:38 PM PST

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