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The Rockies Great Awakening?
2006-05-31 19:40
by Bob Timmermann

Bob Nightengale profiles a different side of the Colorado Rockies in USA Today. It's not about humidors, altitude, relief pitching, or what Choo Freeman's real first name is.

Nightengale writes about the Rockies attempt to fill the team with "character" guys. Which apparently means that the Rockies are looking for players who are openly Christian.

This one passage in the article was very interesting to me.

Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just to stay in the team's good graces? Yes, former Rockies say.

"They have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says
San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a veteran of seven organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies. "You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs.

"Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Other baseball executives say they appreciate the Rockies' new emphasis on good character but say they would never try to build a team of Christian believers.

"You don't hear about it so much with their players, but you hear about it with their front office,"
San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers says. "That's not us. ... We wouldn't do that. But who's to say they're wrong for doing that?"

I would urge you to read the whole article before making a comment. The article has surprising depth for McPaper.

2006-05-31 21:22:55
1.   xaphor
We need to move the Marlins to Salt Lake and we can get a real rivalry going.

The real victims here, if you can call them that, are the fans. The exclusive nature of religion breeds love/hate relationships that only really serve to divide a multicultural community, as anyone who has witnessed the Old Firm in action can attest.

When Tower's issued his "who's to say" decree, was he watching out for a lightening strike?

2006-05-31 22:46:00
2.   Andrew Shimmin
Well. Huh. Isn't Focus on the Family headquartered in Colorado Springs? Are Coloradan Christians especially Christian, with the mega-churches and such? It can't be a marketing ploy if they're only now mentioning it. Unless it's the thing where people don't put their Alma Mater's license plate holder on until they buy a luxury car.

I find it creepy, but I also don't care that much. If they want to limit their available player pool, so much the better for everybody else. I like Ryan Church less than I did before I read the piece.

2006-05-31 23:14:12
3.   Linkmeister
2 FotF is indeed in Colorado Springs.

The Rockies are small potatoes, though, compared to what's happening at the Air Force Academy. I've been writing about that a fair bit, most recently here:

There are links to my previous posts on the evangelical Christianizing of the AFA contained within that post, if you're interested.

2006-05-31 23:15:44
4.   Scott Long
While I feel pretty uneasy about the whole concept, the bottom line will be improving on the field. The problem I had with the article was the scapegoating of Denny Neagle. The guy got busted trying to pick up a prostitute. It wasn't like he was drunk driving like the owner in the story had done. Of all the things that players have done, I always felt badly for Neagle, but these good Christians want to throw him to the Lions. Maybe her name was Mary Magdelene. Did you ever think of that pious ones?

The biggest sin Neagle was guilty of was being an overrated pitcher.

2006-06-01 00:29:40
5.   Uncle Miltie
This is pretty sad. Baseball and religion should not mix. This is a pretty telling quote from Mark Sweeney:
"Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"
This is just awful.

J.D. Drew for Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, and Ian Stewart?

2006-06-01 08:14:58
6.   Marty
So this means I could never play for the Rockies, being an atheist and all. I also 50 with no talent, but I'm just sayin...

This team has instantly zoomed up the charts to the number 2 slot on my list of hated teams.

2006-06-01 10:21:41
7.   grandcosmo
What does "overtly Christian" mean? Can someone be overtly Jewish?
2006-06-01 11:00:56
8.   Bob Timmermann
I didn't know whether "overtly" or "openly" was better. I was trying to go for a modifier that was more or less innocuous.

Oh well.

2006-06-01 12:59:18
9.   Andrew Shimmin
I don't see what's wrong with overt, there. Dennis Prager is overtly Jewish. Looking back to check the context I see Bob has already rolled over. Which reminds me, where's the review of R.V. we've been expecting?
2006-06-01 12:59:47
10.   grandcosmo
The word Christian is thrown around a lot by both sides without regard to meaning.

I'm openly Christian but I haven't been to mass for three or four years and don't intend on going anytime soon.

2006-06-01 13:52:53
11.   Jeff Iannucci
I'm not really sure how overtly Christian these guys are considering I'd known nothing of their beliefs until this article was published.

Given all the public demands of sponsorship and community appearances for modern athletes, character - whether achieved through Christianity, Judaism or listening to Enya - would seem to be more important than ever.

I may be in the minority here, but if they believe Bible Study on Tuesday is making them more comfortable playing together and less likely to go Milton Bradley then good for them.

BTW - I'm actually a fan of Milton's; I was just using his past behavior as an example. Serenity now.

2006-06-01 13:56:36
12.   Andrew Shimmin
Well, I don't think anybody wants to touch (with a ten foot pole) grading other people's fidelity to Christianity. It'd be interesting to know if there's a checklist for daily prayer, church attendence, charitable donation, etc. in each Rockies' personnel file, but that doesn't sound like what's going on. To me, it sounds like they think Jesus will help them out if they love Him enough. Which is, I think, silly, but not nefarious.
2006-06-01 14:09:14
13.   Andrew Shimmin
That last should have been directed at 10.

Isn't Milton Bradley a Christian? Anyway, it's possible that Christianity, particularly strongly held Christianity, would be of some benefit to a team, but the risks of a MB, or a Jose Guillan, or a dastardly Denny Neagle, seem to be relatively small, so avoiding them at the relatively high cost of limiting one's own talent pool seems like a bad bet. Unless Christianity has other benefits. The non-drinking sort of Christians are probably a little less likely to hurt themselves off the field. Since I've never seen a player listed as day to day with the clap, there's no great way to guess how much chasing girls hurts an average player over a season.

Anyway, it's possible that there's some real benefit to this. It seems very unlikely that it even makes up for the direct costs (assuming that there are any; we don't actually know how much loving Jesus is weighted in the decision to sign players).

2006-06-01 14:31:36
14.   grandcosmo
Being a Christian means that you believe that Christ was the son of God. Thats it.

A Christian can be an Opus Dei Catholic, a Morman, a Unitarian, or a Pentecostal snake handler or thousands of other denominations. They can be lapsed or practicing or have never been in a church in their lives.

What the media means by Christian nowadays is an Evangelical Protestant Christian.

2006-06-01 15:26:14
15.   Bob Timmermann
There's a followup to this with reactions from the Rockies players in a separate post.
2006-06-01 15:27:00
16.   Andrew Shimmin
14- I see; I didn't understand your objection, before.

Christians do fight over whether other denominations deserve the title, and it seems like they should have some say in the definition of themselves. Most Christians would deny the Christianity of the Fred Phelps crowd, or the Christian Identity movement. And there's what seems to be a never ending fight over whether Mormans should be allowed in, in some circles. I do think the term Christian Conservative, as used in the news media, is inextricably bound to the Evangelical Protestants, but I don't know that I agree that media types generally exclude Catholics or Mormans or any other self-identifying groups from the broader species of Christian. If the front office really is Born-Again only, wouldn't the story have said so? That would mean they were almost certainly violating Fair Employment laws, wouldn't it?

Not that this means anything, but doesn't O'Dowd sound like fine Catholic name?

2006-06-01 16:20:05
17.   grandcosmo
16. >>>If the front office really is Born-Again only, wouldn't the story have said so?

Thats what I don't understand about the article. Surely all the teams are majority Christian. When the author and/or the club says "Christian players" they mean something by that but the article didn't seem to want to go there.

2006-06-02 00:23:32
18.   Steve
Just for history's sake, it's "Mormon," and not to be confused with Russ Morman.
2006-06-02 23:42:49
19.   Andrew Shimmin
Also, for history's sake, I didn't mean to indicate that there was any similarity between LDS (acronyms are easier to spell) and or the Jesus only loves white people groups. I don't think anybody took me to be saying otherwise, but better to make clear that I wasn't.

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