There should be no "woke" in baseball
June 29, 2023
It's not unusual for prayer to play a role in sports.
"Spahn, Sain, and pray for rain!" was the famous refrain of Boston Braves fans in 1948, when they wanted their exceptional pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain to start as many games as possible.
A couple of years ago, the team chaplain of the Loyola Chicago men's basketball team, Sister Jean, prayed before a game against Illinois in the NCAA Tournament, "As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and get a great win." (Final score: Loyola Chicago 71, Illinois 58).
In the long history of sports, though, it seems unlikely that anyone has ever felt compelled to pray over the spiritual hurt caused by a team -- until now. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez dedicated a service to praying for "healing due to the harm caused by" the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And he's not referring to the team's disappointing exit from the playoffs last year at the hands of the San Diego Padres or its relatively soft 38-30 start this year. No, rather its "decision to honor a group that intentionally denigrates and profanes the Christian faith."
He's speaking of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of drag queens who dress up as Roman Catholic nuns and mock their faith. In the most embarrassing to-and-fro since Yankee owner George Steinbrenner fired and rehired manager Billy Martin multiple times, the Dodgers announced that they'd honor the "Sisters" on the team's "LGBTQ+ Pride Night," then backed off when people of faith were offended, then decided to honor them after all in response to LGBTQ backlash to the backlash.
This shameful cowardice comes courtesy of one of baseball's most storied franchises, one that used to hold "Nun's Day" at the stadium.
It's a symptom of the sheer unavoidability of "woke" cultural politics that they've come to baseball, once the most mainstream and arguably still the most traditional of major sports league.
The Toronto Blue Jays just cut one of their relief pitchers, Anthony Bass, for not getting with the LGBTQ program. He thus became the first player in major league history to be DFA'ed for associating himself with traditional Biblical morality.
On May 29, a day that will live in Blue Jays infamy, right up there with the collapse in the 1985 ALCS, Bass shared a video from Bible-themed Instagram page supporting the boycotts of Bud Light and Target. In response to the resulting furor, he apologized and promised to do better, but that wasn't close to being enough.
The last straw came when he tried to explain himself again about two weeks into the controversy. He said, "I stand by my personal beliefs," adding -- very naively, as it turns out -- "and everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs, right?"
The demand of Bass wasn't that he say bland and nice things but that he repudiate part of his belief system as a Christian.
Fans were booing him, and sports journalists were out for blood. The Athletic huffed, "It was clear that Bass still did not grasp how harmful his actions and words were."
Preposterously, as part of his forced rehabilitation, Bass was scheduled to catch the ceremonial first pitch to open up the team's Pride Weekend, which included a drag queen performing the national anthem.
Instead, he got fired. No one can accuse the Blue Jays of not fully embracing the spirit of pride ideology, including the illiberalism.
Back in the early 1950s, before the Dodgers had moved from Brooklyn, the team's churchgoing first baseman Gil Hodges entered into a terrible slump. Instead of turning on him, the fans encouraged him. Father Redmond of St. Francis Church famously said one day: "It's too hot for a sermon today. Go home, keep the commandments, and say a prayer for Gil Hodges."
Hodges eventually found his groove, making for a nice piece of Dodgers lore. These days, he'd presumably have to watch what he said.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.
(c) 2023 by King Features Synd., Inc.