Tag Archives: baseball

Baseball, Calvinism, and me

I am not watching the Giants game right now. I should be, but there’s no real point.

You see, if you grew up outside Boston as I did, baseball is all mixed up with Calvinism. I don’t have to watch today’s game, because the winner of this World Series was determined at the beginning of time, and nothing the players or fans do today can affect the final outcome. Just as Calvinists knew who the saints were (they were the ones who went to church), we know who the saints are in baseball (they wear pinstripe suits). However, a few baseball teams with long-haried weirdos — like this year’s Giants, and like the 2004 Red Sox — may occasionally win the Series because God likes to keep us mortals guessing.

So I am not going to watch today’s game. I mean, why bother watching if the outcome is predetermined?

Going to the series

Carol and I went out for a walk. It was dark and drizzling rain. A few cars whizzed by on the wet pavement, and aside from that it was quiet. Then I heard fireworks somewhere off to our right.”I wonder who’s having fireworks tonight?” I said. Then we heard fireworks in front of us. “Maybe it’s the Giants game,” said Carol. “Of course,” I said, “they must’ve won.” Later, a car full of people drove past us, the windows down in spite of the rain. The people in the car shouted something that sounded like “Wa waba!” A few minutes later another car drove by, an orange and black piece of cloth flapping out a rear window. When we got to downtown San Mateo, we could hear blaring horns and people shouting down along Fourth Avenue.

The Giants are going to the World Series, and people on the Peninsula are celebrating.


Finally, Roger Clemens has been indicted for perjury. When testifying before Congress on steroid use in professional baseball, Clemens said, “I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it. I never used steroids. Never performance-enhancing steroids.” His trainer, however, told a different story, saying that he had injected Clemens with steroids more than a dozen times. Clemens’s friend and teammate on the New York Yankees, Andy Pettite, said that Clemens had admitted to using steroids — to which Clemens artfully responded that Petitte must have misheard him.

What makes this all the more delicious is that when Clemens testified before Congress, he was not under subpoena — he volunteered to testify. Tom Davis, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, said, “[Clemens] wanted to come to the committee and clear his name. And I sat there in the office with Henry Waxman and said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie.’ … He could have just let it go, but he denied it vociferously before Congress. Several times, we gave him the opportunity to back down, and he didn’t.”

In a statement issued after his indictment, Clemens asked the public not to rush to judgment. But because of his hubris — υβρις, that form of extreme pride that leads to arrogance, insolence, and haughtiness — I sure find myself rushing to judgment. Clemens was considered by many to be one of the best pitchers who ever played baseball, but he always exuded arrogance, and it always seemed that he thought himself to be better than anyone else. If he really is guilty of using steroids, I can’t believe he could ever admit it, not even to himself. And if he really is innocent, I will never completely believe his innocence precisely because of his extreme arrogance.

Clemens has offended the gods of baseball — not by using steroids, but by making himself seem more powerful than the game itself. For this act of hubris, he is being publicly humiliated.

And I want Aeschylus to come back to life, and write a play about it.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Department

Andy Pakula, minister of the Newington Green and Islington Unitarians in London, tells an interesting story in a recent blog post:

I received a very interesting email the other day:

“I am going to be in London over the summer with my girl friend Amy and we are interested in your fellowship. The issue is we are both people in the arts and grew up in conservative churches .. me Roman Catholic, she Protestant fundamentalist and we really got hurt. We found a Unitarian fellowship in America and this was healing for us both. Would we fit with you? We are ‘out there’ in terms of style. I (Chad) wear short skirts and tall boots and Amy goes bra-less and wears very very short dresses. We have been rejected in our home churches and wonder if we would be welcomed dressed as we are in your church. — Chad Bradford”

The message came through the British Unitarian Association’s web site contact system. My intention was to contact these folks and find out more about them. There are certainly people who are biologically men and identify as women and I would and do welcome them completely. This didn’t sound like that at all though. The story seemed – well – more than a bit odd.

And if you read the rest of Andy’s post, you’ll find out that the true story is indeed odd.

You are welcome to leave your thoughts and comments as to the motivation behind all this. Is it someone baiting religious liberals as Andy contends? Is it an in-the-closet transgender Canon as some of Andy’s commenters imply? Or is it a combination of northern New England inbreeding and cabin fever, which I find plausible?

See the first comment below: it’s all about Manny Ramirez!

Two hot stoves

Tomorrow at noon — that’s when congregations which choose to use the search process of the the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) can invite a minister to be the final candidate for an open ministry job. This is when we all gather ’round the old-fashioned hot stove, waiting to find out which club snapped up which ball player’s contr… — er — which congregation has snapped up which minister. Or as Hank Peirce puts it: “Who is being invited to be the candidate at what church? Where will those couple of big name ministers who have been sweet talking so many churches actually end up? Who will hire the young minister with little track record? What church is brave enough to call someone they need, and not just someone who makes them look good?”

You can gather round the hot stove in two places this year. Christine Robinson’s hot stove is on her blog. Hank Peirce’s hot stove is on its own Facebook page.

There are rules for decorum whilst sitting around the hot stoves. No fair using insider knowledge to announce a congregation’s candidate before the congregation has made its own official announcement. No bad-mouthing anyone, no ad hominem attacks. However, if a young freewheeling minister gets picked by a big corporate church that will require him/her to cut his/her hair, you may call out “Johnny Damon!” If a minister over 70 snags a plum congregation, you may call out “Phil Niekro!” or “Knuckleballer!” If you think a pick is going to result in a decades-long match with lots of home runs with no steroid use, you may call out “Hank Aaron!”

Spring watch

The front page of the sports section of the San Mateo County Times features a big picture from the Giants’ exhibition opener in the cactus league, and there’s almost a full page of baseball coverage inside. Spring — real honest-to-goodness spring, not this year-round flower-laden pseudo-springtime we have to put up with in the Bay area — can’t be far behind.

Personal to Ms. M: Don’t worry, I won’t be wearing black and orange just because I’m living on the Peninsula; I’m still an AL guy.

Late July

With all the rain we’ve been having, with constant puddles in all the low-lying places, it almost feels like spring rather than summer. But in spite of the weather, I know

On our walk this evening, we saw Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) growing in a number of places in cracks in the piers and wharves along the waterfront, and the plants were in full bloom: umbels of pure white, gently rounded, looking like intricate lacework.

Other midsummer flowers are also blooming. One of the chrysanthemums that we planted two years ago in our tiny little garden has deep burgundy blossoms. Near the bridge to Fairhaven, I saw some Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) plants about four feet high, each with a couple dozen pale blue flowers.

First-year Herring Gulls are everywhere. They fight each other for food. They call piteously to adult Herring Gulls, hoping to be fed (the adult gulls mostly just ignore them). There is always an injured first-year gull wandering around looking forlorn — today, Carol pointed out one with a broken wing walking up the street. Within a year, 80% of them will be killed off, but right now they are everywhere.

I’m just starting to notice that the days seem a little shorter, the sun is setting a little bit earlier.

The Red Sox have slipped out of first place. They always slip out of first place in late July or early August, and then struggle for the rest of the summer to catch up to the Yankees. They are as reliable as Queen Anne’s Lace.


So here’s my gloomy scenario for the presidential election: Barack Obama loses by a slim margin. Immediately, the whispers begin: “The only reason Obama lost was because he was black.” “The only reason Obama lost was because McCain used racial innuendo, called Obama a Muslim.” The country becomes more divided; the racial divide widens more than anything else. Everything gets really ugly.

Since I am (ethnically speaking) half New England Yankee, and half Pennsylvania Dutch, I am by nature a very gloomy person (this is why I’m a Universalist, I need to know that things will get better after I die). I had convinced myself that a slim loss by Obama would be what would happen. A win by Obama would be just as bad, due to the assassination attempts (being gloomy, I know there would be assassination attempts). Now I am trying to convince myself that McCain will win by a wide margin, since it is the least gloomy scenario for me.

Man, I hate presidential election season. It’s almost as bad as watching the Red Sox lose postseason games. The only thing keeping me from total gloom is that the Yankees aren’t in the World Series.


Good play

Roger Clemens told Mike Wallace that he “never” took steroids. “Swear,” said Roger.

Roger Clemens had an hour-long phone call with his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee. This was not long after McNamee had said publicly that he had given Clemens steriods. A lawyer for McNamee has raised the possibility that Clemens was engaged in “attempted influencing” not long before both men are supposed to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Roger Clemens very much wants to get into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

This would make a good play, written by Sophocles, at the end of which Clemens’s hubris destroys him.