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I believe in the Church of Baseball

December 12, 2011

Deidre Pujols gave an interview today on Joy-99 FM, the station that used to be St. Louis’s last remaining classical music option until the Pujols family helped convert it to an all-Jesus-all-the-time format. Deidre’s been on the radio before, most notably in a series of anti-choice ads likening fetuses to on-deck batters, but this time she had a great deal to say about the respective roles of God and Satan in her husband’s decision to vaya con Arte and fly with the Angels.

There’s literally nothing I can say about this that won’t drip with cynicism and offend someone, and it’s not as though Albert Pujols is the first or last baseball player to invoke the Almighty—so instead of harping on Dee Dee, and in honor of God’s long-standing affiliation with the big leagues, I give you another quiz to help pass the time until the Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran:

Match the God-quote to the big leaguer who said it! 

1) “God gave me the opportunity and the ability to be here at the right time, at the right moment, just like he gave Babe Ruth.”
2) “Maybe that’s why God’s mad at me—that I didn’t practice my mother’s religion.”
3) “You can’t hit 1.000. Jesus could, but I can’t.”
4) “Like I said, it is a blessing. When the blessing is upon you, it’s God’s will. He’s the one.”
5) “When I was born, God gave me a natural greenie, a built-in steroid.”
6) “I’m a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn’t in his plan.”
7) “I firmly believe that if Jesus Christ was sliding into second base, he would knock the second baseman into left field to break up the double play.”
8 ) “The Lord told me it was going to happen before it happened. You hadn’t [done that] in a while. You’re about to right now.”

A) Ralph Branca
B) Adrian Gonzalez
C) Josh Hamilton
D) Bo Jackson
E) Fritz Peterson
F) Mariano Rivera
G) Luke Scott
H) Sammy Sosa


1) H. Sammy didn’t specify which supreme being supplied the superballs.

2) A. Years after serving up the “shot heard ’round the world” to Bobby Thomson in 1951, Ralph Branca discovered that his mother, whom he’d long known to be a Catholic, had been born a Jew—making him one, too, by Judaism’s laws of matrilineage.  “He made me throw that home run pitch,” he said. “He made me get injured the next year. Remember, Jesus was a Jew.” The lesson here: You should call your mother more often.

3) G. Cheer up, Luke! You may have hit only .220 on the field this season, but you batted a thousand when it came to offending decent people’s sensibilities with your ignorant, bigoted, gun-toting, Tea-Partying, birth-certificate-demanding remarks!

4) F. Rivera was playing catch with Ramiro Mendoza one day in 1997 when, by God’s grace, he stumbled upon the pitch that would cement his career. Rivera, of course, went on to become the premier closer of all time on the strength of his cut fastball; Mendoza, meanwhile, is a great trivia question for your next trip to the sports bar.

5) D. Bo knows his PEDs (performance-enhancing deities). And those of us who saw Bo play know what a bummer it is that God also gave him a wonky hip.

6) B. Adrian certainly did his part on the field to keep Boston in the 2011 playoff hunt, but when Game 162 was in the books and the Sox were headed to the golf course, he passed the buck to the holy trinity of the schedule-makers, ESPN, and God, the last two of which were equally surprised to learn that they were Rays fans.

7) E. Peterson was an All-Star pitcher who went on to write books on religion, but he’s probably best remembered for his role in an infamous wife-swap that I imagine Jesus would also have tried to break up, given the chance.

8 ) C. Specifically, God was foretelling Josh Hamilton’s tenth-inning, two-run shot in Game 6 of the World Series, which seemed destined to give Texas the 2011 World Championship….only to be eclipsed by two more Redbird rallies. God’s a real smartass sometimes, isn’t he? More cynically—and I say this with all due respect to the faith that’s gotten Josh Hamilton and others through their darkest times—shouldn’t any reasonable person be leery of praying to a god who tells a slugger that he’s about to hit a home run, but not that the ball he’s about to toss into the stands is going to lead indirectly to a man’s death? Somebody better go ask Deidre.


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