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“It’s all bullsh*t, and it’s bad for ya.”—The late, great George Carlin

Full disclosure: I like to use fresh quotes whenever I open with one, but this may be a retread because I love George Carlin’s humor and it fits so many situations. Sue me.

Besides, I’m confident the master would highly approve of the following.

Other people?

Eh, I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m fairly positive this won’t be received too enthusiastically by a significant swath of American sports fans (not to ignore the international flavor on Bleacher Report—I just don’t have a feel for that community, not being part of it).

But that never stops the politically correct flip side of what I’m about to write, so why should it stop me?

To borrow from another genius, “[T]here should be a crowd of spectators at my funeral and that they should greet me with cries of exhortation.”

On with it.

Many observers of Major League Baseball have been waiting on the Colorado Rockies for a couple years now. Baseball has been on the edge of its seat ever since the Rox ripped off 20 wins in the final month of the season and rode the scalding streak straight to the 2007 World Series (where the Boston Red Sox threw them some clothes).

We’re still waiting for all that talent to come back together.

It didn’t happen in 2008, as the Rox struggled from the jump. A similar fate seemed in the offing for 2009, as Colorado again hit the skids early on.

Fearing yet another lost season, the franchise fired Clint Hurdle on May 29.

The Rockies responded immediately by winning on May 30and then losing their next four in a row.

Of course, they’d bounce back and win the next 11 games before the Tampa Bay Rays hung another “L” on them. Then it was another six consecutive “W”s before dropping last night’s contest to (coincidentally) the Southern California Angels.

In summation, the Colorado Rockies are 18-6 under new (interim?) manager Jim Tracy. This after opening the season 19-28 under Hurdle. Quite a contrast, huh?

Tracy must be pulling all the right strings, lighting all the right fires, and conjuring all the other managerial magic that turns slumping players into good ones.

Wait a tickJim Tracy?

The guy who couldn’t get the job done with a talented Los Angeles Dodgers roster? The guy who failed miserably in Pittsburgh as leader of the Pirates? There’s gotta be more to the story, right?

Well, if Jim Tracy were Christian, maybe there would be. Make that ostentatiously Christian.

Like Clint Hurdle.

You remember the stories.

Back when Colorado dubbed the ’07 playoffs “Rocktober,” the media was atwitter with stories about the Christian code Hurdle instituted in the Rox’ clubhouse—no “men’s” magazines, no rock ‘n’ roll, nothing sexually explicit of any kind. Eventually, those stories started implying the togetherness and purity inspired by the Christian ethos played no small part in their miraculous turnaround.

I remember one particular blurb where a young player was diverted from batting practice in favor of Bible studies—as if this were an unquestionably good and appropriate thing.

And why not?

How often do we hear athletes praising Jesus Christ for allowing them to perform well? How often do we see teams kneel in devotion following games? Shoot, the Los Angeles Lakers say the Lord’s Prayer after every game according to Kobe Bryant.

Can you believe that? LA? That’s the devil’s backyard, according to the Conservative Right, and they’re praying!

Now, I’m not here to tell you what to believe and when to believe it.

I’m no fan of organized religion (of any kind, but not all kinds) because I think the institution perverts the enlightened and healthy elements of faith, and then uses them for its own very unenlightened purposes.

Say, lining its coffers or driving its own political agenda. Or gilding their places of worship in more extravagance than Saddam Hussein used on his subtle palaces.

But like I said, to each his or her own.

If I were to go around telling everyone that the one true path lay not in organized religion and anyone looking for it there was a sucker, I’d be just as guilty of arrogant hypocrisy as some of the organizers I so loathe.

I may personally believe it, but I may also be wrong. Really wrong. So I’m not about to go dictating fundamental life principles for total strangers.

The upshot is that nobody really knows where the truth of the matter is—certainly not me—so anyone claiming to have the answer is someone you should ignore. Believe what you want, but not because the “right” person tells you to.

Most of all, stop telling me about every damn Christian athlete, coach, manager, owner, blah, blah, blah who succeeds and then implying his/her faith is the primary reason.

For one thing, if Yahweh is preoccupied with whether the Pittsburgh Steelers are gonna cover the Super Bowl spread or the New York Yankees will make good on the offseason orgy, I think we’ve all grossly overestimated this Supreme Being.

I mean, hundreds of thousands of people are dying across the globe, and It’s worried about sports?

That sounds like the Creator of the Universe is a character from a Saturday Night Live skit—Bill Swerski’s Omnipo-Fan.

Do you even want to believe that’s true? How would that be a good thing?

For another, what about the unsuccessful individuals of faith?

Now that Clint Hurdle has failed and been shown the door, where does that fit into the narrative? What am I to make of all those hints that Christianity was driving his success with the Colorado Rockies?

After all, many people insisted his Christian faith was driving his success, but that success has come to a thudding end.

So did he stop being Christian? Did God stop caring about Clint Hurdle? Did It just get bored and move on? This is an all-powerful Being; surely It can handle multitasking.

And what of all the non-Christian sports figures who find success?

Time and again, I read how Christian athletes have a leg up on the competition. Sometimes the ethereal help is couched in real-world terms like “confidence” or “poise.” The idea, I assume, being that the individual’s faith is so strong, he/she can’t imagine the Divine sending failure.

It’s a fine idea.

Of course, it has very little to do with Christianity. Because that faith ain’t a cure-all. It’s just a confidence like any other, and it’s as fleeting as any other.

You may pray at the altar of Jesus Christ, while I may pray at the altar of batting cages and lucky socks, but we both are gonna need on-field results for any of it to make a difference.

Furthermore, neither altar guarantees anything.

Just ask Clint Hurdle. Or Jim Tracy.


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