Third Period – Religion: Spirituality is the buzz word as we explore the beliefs of Red Sox fans and how they came to those beliefs.
Topics include: Moses or Jesus – who threw the better splitter?, prayers for all occasions, which god helps with which request
Prerequisite:a ride to the Chapel
You don’t have to be a religious person to like the Red Sox.However, if you like the Red Sox, you are most definitely religious.The team emits a piety not seen in most religions.Now, do I go all John Lennon on you and say “the Red Sox are bigger than Jesus?”No, of course not.It would be a totally ludicrous and sacrilegious statement.(Jesus was a better bunter.)But one might say that the Red Sox are pretty big.
We call the ballpark “the Chapel,” we spend much of our time in prayer (we may not face east when we do, but that’s only because we have no idea which direction is east thanks to the geniuses that laid out our city), we wear sacramental garments, we take days off to commemorate holidays (don’t lie.You know you do.), and we participate in chanting all over this fine land of ours.
What kind of a religion is it? The Red Sox are sacred to all of us.Call it passion, call it spirituality, call it too much free time on our hands, whatever.But they are sacred.So how have we defined our feelings into a religion?
The majority of those living in Red Sox Nation are of the same belief – Soxism.The rest are agnostic.Sure there are different sects – fair-weathah (reform), supahfans (conservative), and wicked orthodox (orthodox).
Only pay attention during the high holidays, including Patriots Day, division-clinching series, etc.; eat whatever they want; don’t know all the hymns; are indifferent to players; never pay for tickets; and might consider rooting for an underdog even if that means another team.
Customs include sitting in the same seat during a rally; not mentioning a win before its time; strict with their diet, i.e. a sausage or hot dog to every 2 beers; wear team merchandise undergarments; go to sleep at their bedtime even if the game’s still on.
Are always praying.Take holidays after a Red Sox loss; can’t be seen out of the house without proper clothing; only allow other Sox fans into their house, have a picture of Ted Williams overlooking each room in their house; name their pets and/or family members after Red Sox players or Fenway Park; not accepting calls after game time.
Then, as in any religion, there are the fundamentalists.
The religion was founded along the Judeo-Christian beliefs of cheer unto others as you would have them cheer unto you.(Naturally, that belief went out the window as soon as the games started and it’s “root root root for the home team” now.)
There is no separation of church and state here, which is the main difference between Red Sox Nation and the United States of America (that and we can’t declare war if we want oil reserves).In that sense, Boston is the Vatican City of American professional sports.Rules installed by the team are adopted by all their zealots.A decree to wear red at the ballpark will be followed by most practitioners.
The founder of our religion was a man named “Nuff Ced” McGreevey, the patron saint of passionate fans.As told in the story of “The Royal Rooters,” a.k.a. “the Good Book, er, Movie,” McGreevey was a mere tavern owner who preached from the gospel of Guiness (“Brilliant!”) and people listened . . . until they passed out.In the early days of the 20th Century, he spoke of this new team in town, the Pilgrims (Fig. 3.2) and the joy they would bring.Lives would be changed, priorities altered, and perceptions molded.
He was prone to visions.He would say, “I see you ordering another round.”And you did.“I see us going to Pittsburgh.”And he was right.(This is where the term “pilgrimage” came from.
His prophecy powers became legendary and he brought more and more followers to his bar.And patrons knew he spoke the truth because he punctuated it with the phrase, “’nuf ced,” which is pretty profound, even for those times.It wasn’t open for debate, plus most patrons couldn’t see straight enough to argue.Thus, it became unquestioned.
At the risk of retelling the whole story poorly, I will recommend the movie as required viewing.
What is sacred? (Oy. Again vit dee qvestions.)It has been said (and will be said again now) that only the sacred can fulfill man’s deepest needs and hopes, thus the reverence that man shows to the sacred is composed of both trust and terror.Boy, if that doesn’t fit us to a tee. We believe that the Red Sox will go on to victory; at the same time, we are scared to death that they will lose in the most horrific manner imaginable.We actually sit around the campfire on spooky nights and tell ghost stories about how the Sox could potentially blow it.Yes, this is what sacred does to us.
It was a dark and scary night not unlike this one. A stiff breeze was blowing out to left center. 36,000 fans had filed into the ballpark not knowing what terror they would experience . . .
The sacred contains notions of both a positive, creative power and a danger that requires stringent prohibitions.Do not switch seats in the middle of a rally.Do not speak of a victory before it’s time.Do not mess with the delicate temperament of the baseball deities.Or be prepared to unleash the eeeeeeeevil.[to be said with spooky voice] The common human reaction to the two sides of the sacred coin is of both fear and fascination.Like that famous story of “Pedroia’s box.” (Fig. 3.3) And we wind up opening the box every spring.
Now we ask what is holy?(And if you say a WIFFLEBALL , you must take a lap.)Holy is what society deems holy.The smell of the concourse, the sight of the team logo groomed into the infield grass, mustard and ketchup on a RemDawg, it can be many things and aren’t likely to be elaborated upon.It just is.
Along with sacred concepts, there are also sacred sounds.The sacred action repeated symbolically duplicates the structure and power that established the world originally.With tens of thousands making these sounds, mountains can be
moved and the Fates can be convinced.(Also, visiting fans can be scared.)Sacred sounds have creative power.
The most universally known sacred sound is “Hallelujah.” The Hindu have the “om.” Dave “Hendu” had the “Wooo!” as he crow-hopped high into the air. Boooo!” is another sound used when voicing displeasure of an event or act. Alex Rodriguez has the “Ha!” as he rounds a base behind a fielder attempting to get underneath a pop up.But he does that alone.
The sounds are the basic building block of the collective show of fervency.They are part of the list of rites and ceremonies that have become tradition.
Relgious rites and ceremonies
Acts of worship sum up and reinforce the moral and cultural commitments and understandings of the community.Our worship as a group proves our commitment to the team.It breaks down to individuals worshipping together.Most of the time, it’s personal but is duplicated by everyone else simultaneously.Personal worship, whether public or private, is often aided by the observance of disciplines and techniques that focus the attention of the worshipper upon the sacred or holy.That could be in the form of silence, devotional readings, set prayers, bodily postures, music, works of art, or banners with “Oki-Doki” written on them.
First, we must know what the unimpeachable rules are and we take it from there.
The Ten Fenway Commandments
[reprinted with permission from Sarah Green, as appeared in “Further Fenway Fiction” (Rounder Books, 2007)
Hear, O Fenway Faithful, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.
I am the Team thy Red Sox, which have brought thee out of the Curse of the Bambino, out of the house of bondage.
1. Thou shalt have no other Teams before me.
2. Thou shalt not buy unto thee any other team’s graven merchandise, or any bobblehead of any player that is in Canada above, or that is in the States below, or that is in the States to the West: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor root for them: for I the Team thy Red Sox am a jealous Team, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me (or them that selleth players to finance Broadway musicals); And showing mercy unto thousands of them that root for me, and keep my commandments.
3. Thou shalt not jeer the name of the Team thy Red Sox in vain; but the Team shall hold him guiltless that cheereth and maketh a joyful noise unto the Team.
4. Remember the season, to keep it holy. Two-hundred and three days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But one-hundred and sixty-two days are the game days of the Team thy Red Sox: in them thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy assistant, nor thy cleaning lady, nor thy dog, nor thy cat, nor any of thy goldfish, nor thy stranger that is within thy cul-de-sac: For in the offseason, the Team made offense and defense, the pitching rotation, and all that in them is, and played the season: wherefore the Team blessed the season, and hallowed it.
5. Honor thy hot dog vendor and thy beer man, as the Team thy Red Sox hath commanded thee; that thy season may be prolonged, and that it may go well in October, in the Fenway which the Team thy Red Sox giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill for season tickets.
7. Thou shalt not have pennant fever for two teams at once.
8. Thou shalt not steal away from thy seat until the final out hath been recorded. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a businessman to stay nine innings on Opening Day.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy umpire. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the dugout.
10. Thou shalt not covet the Yankees’ stadium, thou shalt not covet the Yankees’ payroll, nor their farm system, nor their manager, nor their free agents, nor their Championship rings, nor anything that is the Yankees.
These words the Team spake unto all Red Sox Nation, with a great voice over the loudspeaker: and they trembled, and said unto the Team, “So good! So good! So good!” And the Team wrote the commandments into two scoreboards and delivered them unto ye.
When it comes to worshipping the team comprised of individual players, worship might be a strong word to use here.We follow meticulously, emulate, dress like, say prayers for, anoint godlike status to, build shrines for, and let them control our emotions.Hm, perhaps worship is the right word to use.
We even have the house of worship – Fenway Park.It is over 3000 years old and was founded by the Canaanites who were just looking for a bathhouse.
It was then destroyed during the Reformation of the 16th century and was built up today to the temple that you know now.Of course, the giant wall in left field was built to keep the Conquistadors out.The owners of the park admired that for its similar qualities of keeping out non-paying spectators.(The light stanchions were renovated guard towers.)
To protect the place of worship, different religions take different measures; the Jews place a mezuzah over the door; Catholics place a statue of Jesus; Buddhism has the Buddah (a.k.a. Tony Gwynn).Fenway Park has a statue of Ted Williams behind the park with a child praying at his feet. Millions of visitors to the Chapel every year take turns asking the statue for hitting lessons.
And inside the Chapel, we have activities that help us focus our attention on the holy.For instance:
These dances were originally re-enactments of Christian deliverance from the powers of sin and death and now it’s just fat people lifting their shirts to jiggle in time with the music in an attempt to get onto a highlight reel.
There are three songs that are to be revered in the music world, treated almost as gods themselves, not to be maligned, mocked, or played at inconsequential times.The “Star Spangled Banner?”Yeah, right. These songs are important.
These revered tunes are “Sweet Caroline,” “Dirty Water,” and “Tessie.”
This song is played during the seventh-inning stretch of all home games. It was going to be “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” but that was a duet and tougher to correograph.
Recently archaeologists pillaged the Tomb of the Unknown Fan and found a scroll noting that the inspiration for this song was none other than Caroline Kennedy herself.
She attended many games at Fenway as a youngster, a guest of her uncles. A struggling singer/songwriter, Neil Diamond, was at the park on one of these occasions and happened to catch glimpse of her in a lovely summer dress wearing a little bonnet and sucking on a rainbow all-day sucker.To him, she looked so dainty and pure that he just knew there was a song about her somewhere in the recesses of his mind.
Then the umpire missed a stolen base call at second base and Caroline stood up from her front row seat and screamed, “Are you blind, ump?! He was safe! Ya *****! The whole world saw but you, *****! *****!”
Neil was incredulous. All he could do was shake his head and think, “Sweet Caroline.”
On a more ironic note, our anthem that is played at Fenway Park after every Sox home win, and at least once an hour on every rock station in Boston as mandated by the Governor, is about getting mugged down by what was formerly the country’s dirtiest waterway4. (Contrary to popular belief, it is not paying tribute to what comes out of the taps in the concession stands at Fenway.)
We’re proud of this! We hear the song and scream, “Yep, that’s us! I’ve been getting mugged and slimed down there for years. I love Boston.”
Hey, at least we see the irony. Los Angelinos love the song “I Love LA” by Randy Newman, but have no idea it’s about how superficial and into excess that everyone is there.
When the first members of Red Sox Nation, the Royal Rooters, were just starting out as mere Peasant Rooters, they used the sounds of a familiar song, “Tessie!” to disrupt the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series.
The song was brought back to popularity in 2004 and redone by the Dropkick Murphys (who, for your edification, Mr. Mayor, are a full band and not just one person). Of course, the song is much different now than it was then:
Oh, Tessie, you’re so fine
You’re so fine
You blow my mind
Hey, Tessie! [clap clap clap]
Hey, Tessie! [clap clap clap]
The songs bring people together. They signal a connection among nationals. And, as an added perk, they drive people from New York nuts every time they hear them. It’s just another example of the religious power music possesses.
Chanting is one of their big spiritual tacts.It is more than just words being repeated over and over with monotonous passion.It is the ability to immediately summon up an army of like-minded individuals and out shout anyone who is not in agreement.It may be the most powerful method of spirituality.Just a voice and a few words are needed; and someone bold enough and loud enough to start it.
Chanting is done in three different cadences.The first is your basic 1-2-3 where each beat is uniformly consistent with the other two.It is the scheme upon which the
“Yankees Suck!” chant is predicated.Just imagine saying 1, 2, 3 over and over again and then substitute the words in there as in “Yan kees suck,” “Yan kees suck,” “M.V.P.” “We love Youk” “ We love Youk” “I want beer” “I want beer” “Im peach Bush” . . .you get the picture.This can be used anywhere you want to get your point across.
The second follows a more complex rhythm and adds clapping which is a major part of the custom.It takes the first beat of 1, 2, 3, then adds a 1, 2 in the middle and finishes with another 1, 2, 3 and two claps.The subtle change in the 1, 2, 3 is that you sort of slur the 2 and the 3 together.So it’s 1-23, 1-2, 1-23.The most popular of these is “Here we go, Red Sox, here we go! [clap clap]
And the final one is clap-heavy with a seesaw cadence.It’s 1-2, 1-2 where the 1’s start you up high and the 2’s bring you lower.“Let’s Go, Red Sox! [clap clap clapclapclap].This is to be clapped out with two single claps followed by three quick ones, or 1-2-123.When you’re a mob moving in a direction together, this one best suits the occasion.
Other, lesser used ones, are you basic two syllable and one syllable chants such as “Man-ny, Man-ny” or should there be a time when a corporation offers a food item upon the first stolen base of an important series, than you would chant that food item such as “Ta-co ta-co ta-co.”
And a one syllable chant isn’t used at the park as much as it is at other locations such as a bar or Symphony Hall.“Beer!Beer!Beer!Beer!”
Feasts and Festivals
Food holds an important place in the symbolism of religion.As is customary in most religions, there are dietary rules which list prohibited foods.These prohibited foods may not be consumed in any form.Most food that comes from an animal is acceptable, If meat is not chosen, there are other options, such as shellfish, but only if served in a white broth, such as cream or milk.Little pieces of bacon and soup nuts are recommended, but not required.
Then there are items that come from no living creatures.They must fall into two categories: those that contain the cheese of a hoofed creature such as pizza or a calzone, or that which is infinitely salty and/or seasoned and starchy.A glazed caramel topping is acceptable as well, but only if there’s a surprise inside like a miniature baseball card or a temporary tattoo.
Imitation animal products are forbidden, as are lower fat options such as the turkey, the buffalo, and the ostrich.If you want that stuff, go to Whole Foods, ya beatnik!
Beverage is a necessary accoutrement to the meal during the Festival of the Innings. One might suggest a hops-laden drink, sometimes malted, definitely wheat-based. Or bubbles are also acceptable if added to sugar and corn syrup. Should water be your beverage of choice, be prepared to show a doctor’s note detailing whatever medical condition you have that is preventing you from drinking something else.
Ceremonial and ritualistic objects
Food is ingestible sacrament, but some objects are not meant to be ingested. (Again, those lapel pins are not for eating!) A popular custom is to include paraphernalia in one’s tradition.
Dr. Hector Chucklebutt (pronounced Shuck-lay-BUTE) penned the foremost dissertation on the subject of ceremonial and ritualistic objects.He broke down the various sacred items and their power to the practitioners.
Rally cap versus the rally monkey
A rally cap is a scientifically proven method of game changing.The rally monkey, on the other hand, is a simian that scares you into cheering.If you refuse, he will bite you and give you ebola.(Didn’t you see “Outbreak”?)
The truth is, the rally monkey is actually an actor that doesn’t care whether his team scores or not.Her real name is Katie (Fig. 3.4). You might remember her as Marcel the Monkey on “Friends.”Yes, the fans in Anaheim follow an actor.
Now you might ask yourself where can I get a rally cap? I’ve already spent too much money on a regular cap, I don’t want to spend more.
It is a common misconception to believe you’ll need a second cap, but fret not, for all caps come rally-enabled, with a “rally” function.
To activate, simply remove your hat and turn it inside out. Then replace it on your head. Flipping the brim up acts as the power “button.” Once done, your rally cap is now “on.”
It is to be turned on only when runs are needed from the seventh inning on and your team at bat. All other times, it should be turned off, otherwise, you will waste the Karmic batteries.
Religious statues & images
These are viewed as the permanent embodiments of the deities they represent.One statue that is seen as critically important to our culture is the statue of Manny at home plate with his arms raised.(Oh, wait . . . that is Manny.He just hit another home run.)
The famous statue of Ted Williams behind Fenway Park guards the field from evil spirits, while at the same time giving pigeons something to aim for.
Amulets have fallen out of favor in baseball ever since the magic amulet used by the Kansas City Royals in the 1983 World Series made their bench coach disappear. They will be confiscated by security at the gate.
Then there are other items:
Some teams wave their white laundry in the air declaring, “Surrender!” during the contest being played.Hankies, towels, rags, whatever you’d like to call them, are bandied about with more fervor than you’d use on your own child for winning a spelling bee.
Other similar objects used to funnel positive energy toward a team is a tomahawk.It is was ceremonial in the mid-19th century to take a real tomahawk to the opposing team’s starting pitcher.This was before they had laws regarding this and they placed a lot more importance on recreational activities than on the importance of human life. Also, American Indians stopped warring with the “White Man” and started inducing them to double-down foolishly.
Now it is simply used as a symbol to metaphorically scalp the other teams’ pitcher . . . we hope.
This one could have been categorized under music for lack of a better filing name, but it is considered noise by most.The fairly recent tradition of “thunder sticks” is to bang them together to call for a home run to be hit.These sticks are more likely to cause the person using the sticks to be hit, however.In some parks when the home team’s fans are outnumbered, the ritual has evolved to where the sticks are shoved where the sun doesn’t shine midway through the game once it becomes unbearable to anyone with a soul.
In a similar fashion, some teams choose one representative to make the noise for all of them.For example, a person might pound a big drum steadily during the game.It is done until it starts to rain.This allows their starting pitchers to get plenty of off days as the field is constantly deluged.
Depending on the rhythm methodically created, it has been known to bring snow in April, fog in June, and bugs (of the Biblical variety) in October, though the bugs may have been attracted to the Yankees’ set-up man and come of their own volition.One thing the drumming has not been found to cause winning, however.
All of these objects are strictly taboo in Red Sox Nation.On a muggy June night, Dave Wolthoff was sitting in the bleachers and took a towel out just to wipe his forehead.He was promptly shoved into the Jimmy Fund donation box.It was not as bad as it seemed, though, as he was tax deductible.
The unwritten rule of the fanbase is that one must make noise without accessories, or props.The only things that may be exhibited in a wavelike motion include a hat (baseball, not cowboy or beanie), a banner revealing a salutary phrase (one option includes “Hi, Don and Jerry, Stockbridge says ‘Woof!’” or something like that) or, if you are under 12 years of old, a giant foam finger.Anything else is blasphemous.Those waving towels or foam tomahawks are looked upon as the sports fan equivalent of Carrot Top.
These all add up to rituals that hold the religion together.We are nothing if not ritualistic by nature.Where did these rituals come from?Why do we do them?To figure that out, we must know that there are two types of rituals.
A great many rituals are patterned after myths, such as the myth of the New Year, which very often repeats the story of creation.And so we drink champagne, make promises we don’t intend to keep, and end up making out with the nearest non-repulsive creature in the room . . . just like it was upon creation.
In our lore, there was a popular (meaning well-mentioned, notwell-liked) myth about a ballplayer who had switched teams and, upon that transaction, all fortunes heaped upon the player’s former team would turn negative.The ritual was to chant “1918,” commemorating the last year good fortune was achieved.And such was repeated ad infinitum throughout an entire baseball season (and beyond).
Although starting in New York, the ritual was imitated in ballparks across the country.The ritual repeats the myth or an aspect of it. In the case of this chant, it would cause futility whenever it was chanted.A great act was all that could be used to counteract the myth and break the ritual.It becomes even more complicated as the years of its existence multiply.
Standing for the final strike, brushing off Yankee fans before you hear what they have to say, and the wave are all imitative rituals.
Positive and negative myths
Then there are the positive and negative myth rituals.The latter pertains to avoidance of certain rituals.The word “taboo” has been applied to those rituals.It focuses on prohibition, the ritual of the jinx.
Do NOT mention a no-hitter while it is in progress.Do NOT display “Congratulations!” for your team on the scoreboard BEFORE they’ve officially squeezed the last out.Similarly, do NOT wheel crates of champagne into the clubhouse until the final out has been recorded.
Most positive rituals, on the other hand, are concerned with consecrating or renewing an object or an individual.Should the ritual be broken, it would result in a dramatic change in ritual man, usually bringing him (or the team) some misfortune.
There are millions of unique rituals created every day.Take the case of Debbie.In 2007, Debbie was driving to a bar to watch a Red Sox playoff game when the muffler fell off her car.She never made it to the game in time as she was waiting for AAA to arrive.The Red Sox won that night. She had a new muffler put in the next day, then watched the next three games, all of which were lost by the Sox.
After the start of the next game, she proceeded to take a hammer to her new muffler causing it to fall off.She did this seven times in the next week costing her upwards of $3000, but bringing a championship to the Red Sox as they won their remaining seven games.One might say that her religion got her through the tough times.
Many rituals are scheduled for certain times of day, such as 7:05, unless mandated by the tv networks which trumps ritual.
Prayer is the number one pastime in all of Red Sox Nation.Most people use the ritual of prayer to get through the “emotional valleys.”And they have a full arsenal at their disposal, with prayers for any occasion that they may encounter.But there are other times prayer is utilized as well.
Before we continue, who are the Gods upon whom we heap our unwavering (unless they start to slump) worship?To whom do we confess if we commit a sin?Can you be baptized in beer instead of holy water?Do we have to answer these questions to be allowed into the religion or these are just hypothetical?
Over the years, Red Sox fans have found salvation through an extensive list of deities, each with a specialized purpose.
Fisk – the God of Dramatic Finishes
Boggs – the God of Hits
Dewey – the God of Firearms
Youkilis – the God of Walks (in Greece only)
Papi – the God of Walk-Offs
Roberts – the God of Steals
Jacoby – the God of Free Promotional Giveaways
Morgan – the God of Magic
Petey – the God of Fatherhood
Beckett – the God of Playoffs
Manny – the God of Being Oneself
Pap – the God of Dance
Damon – the God of Naked Pullups
Yaz – the God of Crowns
Schilling – the God of Playing Hurt
Feller – the God of Introductions
Kiley – the God of Organ Music
Ned – the God of Mercy
That is to whom you direct your reverence. But you must first learn which type of prayer is relevant at which time?
From the Book of Clay 9:1
And behold, a ball dropeth
Over thy plate. And another.
“Why cannot we get a hit against this child
in only his second start,” asked the birds of black and orange.
For it has been chiseled in stone, his greatness.
And let us say Amen.
From the Book of Carlton 10:21
And on the Sixth Night,
He striketh with great vivacity and strengths
Unlike that of normal men
That didst thou team victorious
Lo that they get to play again.
And let us say Amen.
From the Book of Roger 4:29
I offer up these pitches
Thrown with fire behind them.
Let you try to hit them.
“But we are unable,” said the sea-faring gentlemen.
Twenty have tried and failed.
And later shall try the Tigers
Who will see similar futility.
And let us say Amen.
In all of sports, this prayer is used most frequently.It is when you simply request a material or spiritual gift, whether it be a home run or the strength to forgive another passed ball.
Please let him get a hit, o Lord, for thou art the most wise and benevolent ruler . . . and handsome too.
This affirms your faith and acknowledges your state of sin.
I admit that I was wrong when I said there was “no way” the Sox would blow an 8-run lead.I beg your forgiveness and promise it will never happen again.
I am soooo sorry that I stole that Slushee from the 7-11.I know you work in mysterious ways, but I didn’t expect you to penalize me by making the Sox lose four straight.Couldn’t I have just said three “Hail Papis”(Fig. 3.5)instead?
Hail Papi full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee,
Blessed art thou among power hitters
Blessed is the fruit of thy swing
Holy Papi, King of Walk-offs, pray
For us sinners now and at the bottom
Of the ninth.Amen.
The needs of others are expressed in this type of prayer.
Please, father, giveth him the curveball with enough bite that it doth evade the swing of the interloper’s bat
Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he does in yanking the pitcher after only five innings.
These are two separate methods of prayer.Praise redeems the mystical experience of prayer by celebrating God himself, not for his works, but for himself, his greatness and mystery; really, just cuz He’s a cool dude.In essence, you’re sucking up.This should be done routinely, and not only during a game, but at other moments, just to keep Him (or Her, for the feminist movement) on your side.Remember, if you show up only when you need something, He’s going to know.And then you’ll be lucky if the breeze ever dies down on days you’re wearing your tacky toupee.
Lord, I love you for your greatness.And not just because you blew that ball just out of reach of the first baseman allowing Manny another chance to get that game-winning RBI, though that was great too.But you always seem to be there to do the right thing.I’m so glad you’re on our side and not those pesky Angels.
And so on and so on.On the flipside, the thanksgiving prayer celebrates God’s deeds as its theme.I would be shocked if you could not name at least five instances where this one has come up, especially from the athletes themselves.
Interviewer:That was a clutch shot you made there at the end.
Religious athlete:Yeah it was.I wanna thank God for helping me make it . . .
Meanwhile, the other team is shaking their heads wondering, “How could God do that to us?”Many times, the thanksgiving type of prayer is accompanied by fireworks or perhaps a person sliding down a chute into a giant vat of beer.It may be done for the fans, but we know who it’s really for.
The most seldom-used of all prayers, it is also the noblest form of prayer.It is a prostration of the whole being before God.It’s your submissive reverence shown by body movements: raising the hands, a deep bowing of the body, and a kneeling with hand to mouth, forehead to the ground.Oh, and it’s also the most weenie form.
Oh, Lord, I am but a small flea on the dog of life and am not worthy to be in your presence yada yada yada.
Usually this comes after several memorable moments and many beers.Three million people along a parade route leading down the Charles River used this on one day in October a few years ago and again in 2007.
This final prayer is very businesslike.You are, in essence, entering into a contract with your god.“If you do this, Lord, I will do that.”An informal study recently by the Center for Informal Studies came to the conclusion that the most renounced activity in these arrangements is drinking.However, only 3% of all promises involving drinking are kept.
The second most is giving up one’s spouse and/or child.This has been dramatized in the now famous fake commercial spoofing Mastercard where creditors come to collect on all the trade offs made during the Red Sox playoff run in 2004.To Denis Leary, a creditor reads from a transcript, “You said, and I quote, ‘I’d give my left nut to have the Sox win the Series.”Always the dutiful gambler, Mr. Leary acquiesces and allows them to collect.
Rituals can be enacted in any way, but there can be an added element of using religious dress and vestments to enhance the connection, or independent of the ritual, just to look the part.
Dress can be a wide range of attire from t-shirts to game shirts to long-sleeve shirts to fleece shirts to three-quarter shirts, etc.Then there are accoutrements, tattoos (the “B” in Sox font, or a pair of socks), or markings (a birthmark in the shape of Luis Tiant).Perhaps face and body paint is also incorporated into the entire giving of oneself to religion.
These should be in reds and blues only and it is not recommended that you wear them when driving through gang territory.
Red Sox Nation does not put much emphasis on sacrifice.The act of placing an object at the altar to appease the gods hasn’t been used since Martin Perry.In early 1997, frustrated by the Red Sox futility during his life, Martin brought his youngest son, Harris, to the Fenway box office in the hopes of leaving him there for the gods to accept (or at least to get season tickets in exchange).He figured he had three sons of whom he was proud, but no championship team, so he would gladly trade one son for the latter.
The trade was not accepted by the box office and Harris was eventually returned to him before Child Services came and took his father away.Harris, meanwhile, pooled his paper route money with his older siblings and they bought season tickets back when they were still available. The trio was front and center for the 2004 World Series sending their father photos after the fact.
These days, the only ritualistic sacrifice seems to be a food drive held by the Jimmy Fund as you enter the park.Just drop your canned goods into the boxes.It may not bring the team success, but it does make the kids happy.
Here is where religion begins to entangle itself with philosophy.Can any of this preclude what’s going to happen from what will happen?Does it have an effect?Can it cheat death?Perhaps it seems as if it can’t, but if you look at the gods as all-powerful, all-knowing, and having too much time on their hands, it may just be that they have a plan that stretches beyond the current moment, perhaps years down the road.
“Death,” in this instance, is the end of baseball season or also, specifically, the end of the team’s season. Red Sox fans are constantly haunted by the prospect of death. It materializes in September, October, and some years in July.
The elimination from the playoffs – sometimes called “Dia de los Muertes” – segues from life to death, initiating a mourning period that can last up to 4 months. The mourner’s prayer consists of a minion (at least ten people) quietly chanting, “Next year, next year, next year, next year . . . “ until their spouses throw them out of the house.
Acceptance allows for the realization that the spring will bring another team with the hopes and dreams instilled in them by a Nation.But there are people who maintain the non-acceptance of death as the definitive end of life.
Maybe the commissioner’s office will review the series and find a loophole.
They can still win the wild card if Minnesota decides to disband their franchise before the playoffs.
These people have issues.
Fear of the Dead
Mystics constantly point to that which is dead as the cause for many of a team’s trials.The belief that forces beyond that of this earth pulls so much weight in determining the future is, on the outside, ludicrous.But when one believer convinces another and she does the same and so on and so forth, you have society treating the belief as a given.Adults will be at the will of the dead, doing what they can to appease the ghost.They might dig up a piano that had allegedly been thrown into a pond or make a foul ball smack off the face of a child that was currently living in what was once the home of the spirit.(That last one seems to work, by the way.)Either way, the populace, as reasonable as they seem, finds themselves at the mercy of the dead.
Each religion follows their own legend.One particular congregation in the Midwest fears a goat.How silly is that?[Insert nervous chuckle here.]
After a season’s death, it is time to eliminate the evil spirits that embody your clothing, possessions, property, your unlucky friend Mike, etc.There are several reasons why this must take place.First of all, if there was a long winning streak and you refrained from doing laundry, your clothing smells so bad that you must purify it to keep the neighbors from complaining.
Other reasons are the belief that your possessions were a meeting place for the bad luck and you must essentially destroy that place.It’s the scorched earth theory, really, allowing for a fresh start the next year.It’s as if bugs infest them, only these bugs are the horror of disappointment and unrealistic expectations that go along with listening to the sports “experts” and talk radio blabbers.It’s the idea that a fresh start can only be achieved if all connections to the past be erased.
Some fans routinely change their name after a season ends.It takes roughly four months to get all your credit cards and identification up to date for the new season.Then one freak injury to your team’s catcher and you’ll have to do it all over again come fall.
Another option is obtain new friends or a different family to merely give the effect of changing your identity.It also makes it seem like you’ve been reincarnated; you’re with the same soul, but a different vessel in which to travel through the future (though a vessel with the same gimpy back when it rains).
Why don’t you just do the quintessential purification ritual and take a hot shower to expunge the smell of beer and wings you’ve absorbed from 162 straight days at the bar?
Ghost: Is this heaven?
Bad Actor: It’s Iowa.
That line was uttered in “Field of Dreams.”On the surface, it’s silly.Wouldn’t a ghost know the difference by the dearth of Starbucks?But then, if you incorporate our knowledge of philosophy (if you still remember it), what if we’re all not really here?What if this is the afterlife?
It could be that like Bruce Willis in “Sixth Sense,” we’re already dead, but don’t know it yet.(Sorry if I ruined that for anyone, but you should’ve seen it by now.)Winning twice in four years after thinking it would never happen? Doesn’t that seem a little odd?Could we have died and this is all taking place in heaven?If that’s the case, how do you explain the Bruins?Why would we watch a beloved team wallow in such misfortune year after year if we were in Heaven?
This is a discussion for a more advanced course.But just imagine what heaven would be like.Jim Rice would be in the Hall of Fame. Ted Williams would have a championship ring?OJ Simpson would be getting pistol-whipped by a long line of beaten wives out for revenge?What’s heaven like for you?
Late author Cleveland Amory once said, “We could never be a Yankee fan because we would win too much.And if you win too much, you will not go to heaven.The Bostonian will go to heaven because he has suffered too much here.You must suffer in this life, and then you will go directly to heaven.”
There you have it -- If there are Yankee fans around you, then you are not in Heaven.Glad we got that straightened out.
May Teddy Ballgame Bless Us
These beliefs and practices, followed by an entire society make up the culture in which we live.Strange to others, but all too normal to us kind of makes you see how people can be crazy enough to follow scientology. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you are a scientologist, I meant “crazy” in a good way and thank you for buying the book.]
Sacredness refers to those things in society that are forbidden or set apart.And since these things were set apart by society, society is that which is sacred.Whoa!That’s deep.Hit the showers.You’ve earned it.