Monday, October 29, 2007

The Lord Abandons the Rockies

Earlier in the playoff season, I ended a post with the sentence "Go Rockies!" It was before I had seen this article. Apparently the Rockies built their team around people who had professed their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

There's nothing wrong with attempting to sign players of good character; any business would be crazy not to want upstanding employees, simply as a way to increase profits. However, some players spoke of feeling that they were not accepted if they weren't part of a "God Squad." Former Rockies player Mark Sweeney told USA Today: "They have a great group of guys over there but I've never been in a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose. You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs."

General Manager Dan O'Dowd has said that the Lord has had a hand in the Rockies' improbable run to the World Series. Maybe he needs to rethink that attitude, because if he's right, it appears that the Lord has abandoned the Rockies. Perhaps He is more interested in tolerance. Or perhaps the Red Sox fans prayed harder.

(Thanks to Wordster over at Faith-Based for the heads-up.)


Kevin Clark said...

It would be interesting to do a "money-ball" type study to see whether religiously-committed players do outperform non-religious players (or vice versa). If there is a difference, you can bet that more teams would go in that direction.

Archaeopteryx said...

Kev, I suspect that we'd find that any differences wash out. What makes top-notch baseball players is natural talent combined with a spectacularly dedicated work ethic. I suspect that those two things are independent of religious belief.

The only place where it might truly make a difference would be in the propensity of a particular athelete to use performance-enhancing drugs. If that's the case, religous belief would actually inhibit performance, in a way. However, my gut feeling is that when the list of HGH and steroid users is made public next month, we're going to see names on the list of both "sinners" and "saints."

steve said...

Scary stuff, really. In the meantime, great blog!

Kevin Clark said...

I'm not sure you absolutely have to have a spectacular work ethic. Didn't Mickey Mantle admit to often playing either drunk or with a hangover? There are some people who have incredible natural abilities who are able to get by almost entirely on talent. Then you have other people whose abilities aren't that great but get by on a spectacular amount of work. Then you have people such as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird who combine incredible natural ability with an incredible work ethic. That's what makes a superstar.

I think you do need a certain amount of character to be successful longterm in professional sports. The list of players in football, basketball, and baseball who have imploded would be a long one. And probably a lot of players who could have made it in the pros imploded in high school or college before they had a chance to play in the pros.

My guess is that a religious commitment might keep a kid out of trouble in high school and college, thus making it more likely he will have a chance to play pro ball. But by the time players get into the majors, it probably is a wash.