Is Every Play A 'Hail Mary'?

Over the years, I’ve noticed a certain trend among professional athletes, but until this last week, I’ve been content to let it slowly simmer away in my mind. Time to release the steam valve.

Albert Pujols hits another home run out of the ball park; LaDainian Tomlinson produces a dazzling run for a touchdown; some NBA player throws a ball through a hoop. Cue the moment I cringe; the pointing up to the “big guy” upstairs. No, not the owner of the team, the Big Guy: Mr. G himself. Mr. G is also often involved in the locker room before the game, as the players will huddle in prayer. Now, I’m not a religious person, but I do respect that people can have their beliefs, and generally I let things go. But, in the words of Joseph Heller, ‘something happened’. I’ll get to that later though.

The things that go through my mind, but I have allowed to simmer, include:

– “Hang on, YOU just scored that touchdown, because of YOUR speed and agility (and your offensive line clearing the way for you), which has come about because of YOUR hard work, training and dedication to your sport.” This is usually allowed to simmer as EDA (Eddie’s Devil’s Advocate) always needs to have a say; “Now, now Eddie – Mr. Football Player is obviously a religious man, and hence wants to thank Mr. G for giving him the opportunity to be in such a position.” “OK, I’ll let it simmer…”

– “OK guys, break up the locker room huddle, I know you want to pray, but isn’t this putting Mr. G in a sticky situation?  In the next locker room, they’re huddling too, and praying for the same thing that you are.  This is America – only one team can win. There are no ties in American sports anymore, so Mr. G has to pick?  (I wonder if he checks the spread before choosing?)”  EDA taps me on the shoulder, “Eddie, my boy, prayer is an important part of religion, they are just praying that they put in their best performance, not for victory.” EDA is looking like an arrogant schmuck at this point, “EDA, stop talking crap – so it’s now up to Mr G. to determine whether they’ll put in a good performance – can’t they do that themsleves?  There are a lot of players out there on each team, and this isn’t the only game going on. Sunday afternoon must be a pain in the ass for Mr. G, I hope he has NFL Sunday Ticket”

So, you can see that I’m cynical about this – just a ‘tad’. And I’m not trying to have a dig at religion; there are many people who have their religious beliefs, and I have a lot of respect for them, but I guess I start losing respect when a) it gets in the way of someone respecting themselves and their hard work, although I do accept EDA’s retort on that one – I don’t understand it, but I’ll accept it, and b) when an athlete wants Mr. G to help them win a game, and this is one of the many areas where religion collapses for me – surely Mr. G can’t be everything to everyone?  I really don’t follow EDA’s point on this one, and I feel bad for Mr. G having his relaxing Sunday afternoon ruined; it’s tough enough for me just following a few of my Fantasy Football players – it’s exhausting.  But still, I’ve let it simmer, and just assumed I was being a cynical aetheist.

Something Happened.

To be more accurate, Manny Ramirez happened. It was maybe about a week ago, so I guess it was early in the Cleveland series, and Manny cracked a ball, low and hard.  The short-stop dived and made a pretty outstanding catch. The camera cut back to Manny, who was looking to Mr. G with a look of “WTF???”. My jaw dropped, I replayed the moment on my DVR in case I had imagined it, but nope, Manny was pissed with Mr. G.  I grabbed EDA and asked what he had to say about this – I replayed it for him too.  EDA spluttered, and started quoting something from the Yellow Pages, but nothing that could get Manny off the hook.  It made me wonder what happens after a game they lose; do they go back into the locker room and give Mr. G the finger?  Or do they think that they just didn’t pray hard enough?

Whatever, I’m still going to keep this on simmer every time I see it at a sporting event (rarely seen in hockey, btw – bunch of heathens), but I’ve also told EDA that he can no longer get involved with this one. I have seen the proof that Mr. G gets a look of disdain from Manny if things don’t go his way, and I’m using my powers of bad logic to assume that it happens all the time, even if just in the back of someone’s mind.

Play your sports, play them to the best of YOUR ability, and let Mr. G enjoy his Sunday afternoons. I wonder who he has in his Fantasy team? Hmmm.

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~ by eddie on October 22, 2007.

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