Last night’s game was the first in this series that I was able to watch in its entirety. Which, ultimately, was a good thing since the last three innings (including extras) were fun and exciting even if the majority of the game was extremely painful in it’s defensive ineptitude. The fan bases for both teams got more than their money’s worth at the end, though, which is how this game will be remembered. We got some fun (if not good) baseball and if you are one of the many who visits Twitter during game time you know it turned into a giant sports bar as it often does the days of big games. So last night was a good night for baseball fans.
My non-fondness for Josh Hamilton is well-documented throughout my blog so I will not rehash those feelings here. I’ll say this, though: My dislike of him did not outweigh my want for the Cardinals to lose as evidenced, at the time, by my being happy about his two-run home run that gave the Rangers the lead back in the top of the tenth inning. (I also cheered Lance Berkman’s two run single, so I’m nothing if not inconsistent.) But the way the game ended, Hamilton’s home run would practically be forgotten…except he had to make it unforgettable.
“I would tell y’all something, but y’all wouldn’t believe me … The Lord told me it was going to happen before it happened. You hadn’t hit a home run in a while. You’re about to right now.’”
This isn’t like saying “I felt God with me” or thanking God for giving him the talent to play…the guy is saying God spoke to him and told him he was going to hit a home run. That’s either crazy or arrogant (and, truthfully, I’m going with arrogant here. How else to keep his home run that ended up really meaning nothing in the spotlight?) and it has nothing to do with his religious beliefs. I’m a believer. I try to attend church regularly and I often offer prayers for those who need them. But the idea that Hamilton is telling people God told him he was going to hit a home run frustrates me on many levels. He has opened up the floodgates so that every non-believer out there will use him as a mocking point. ”See how crazy Christians are? They think God talks to them!” which annoys me. But worse, in the context of baseball, he’s gone out of his way to shine the light on himself after a game his team lost. God might have told him he was going to hit a home run but he seems to have told David Freese not to pack for home just yet.
To put my feelings in proper context about this, back in 2004 after Curt Schilling pitched game 6 of the ALCS with his ankle bleeding through his sock (a game the Red Sox WON), he said this at the post-game press conference:
“Seven years ago I became a Christian, and tonight God did something amazing for me. I tried to be as tough as I could and do it my way (in) Game 1, and I think we all saw how that turned out. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.
“And I prayed as hard as I could. I didn’t pray to get a win or to make great pitches. I just prayed for the strength to go out there tonight and compete, and He gave me that. I can’t explain to you what a feeling it was to be out there and to feel what I felt.”
Given how vocal he has become, it will be hard for some to hear that this quote after the game was when many of us first found out Curt was a Christian. He had stayed quiet about it during the season. As always is the case, many criticized him for his comments (and it is worth noting that he gave Dr. Morgan and Jim Rowe as much credit as, if not more than, he did God) but I remember not being bothered at all by his words and thinking something along the lines of “whatever helps get you through” while being surprised that he was so comfortable telling people that he believed praying helped give him the strength to go out there and do well while he was hurt.
So I don’t mock Josh Hamilton for his religious beliefs in the same way I choose not to mock anyone for theirs. To me, it’s a fairly personal thing and it isn’t for me to judge. But Hamilton didn’t say he prayed for strength or that he felt God or Jesus or angels rubbing his shoulders…he said God spoke to him and he wasn’t being metaphorical. He told the media last night that God told him he was going to hit a home run.
Who knows? I could be completely wrong and Josh Hamilton could have a connection with God that many others only dream about. But I find it hard to believe. And after a game where his team blew opportunity after opportunity to win the World Series, I find him dropping a bombshell like that the ultimate in selfishness. See, I don’t think for a minute that Josh Hamilton believes God spoke to him…but he sure got people talking about him when the big story of the night should be how the Cardinals came back to embarrass the Rangers and force a game 7.
And now I will stop talking about God in relation to baseball because everyone knows if God was truly paying attention he would have smote John Lackey months ago.