My favorite quote coming out of the controversy over the Detroit Tigers’s decision to schedule their home opener during the time Jesus Christ is believed to have hung on the cross on Good Friday goes as quoted in The Detroit News:
“Nobody is saying baseball isn’t big but Good Friday is really big,” said the Rev. Ed Vilkauskas, 62, pastor of Old St. Mary Church in Greektown. “It’s 2,000 years old.”
From a theological perspective, reporter Francis X. Donnelly accurately lays out the even more problematic challenge of starting the game at 1 p.m. along with a nice description of how scheduling this game at this time was an offense for Tigers fans:
Even more galling is the time of the game, 1 p.m.
In the last hours of his life, Jesus hung from a cross on Good Friday from noon to 3 p.m., and many devout Christians attend church services at that time.
Quiet contemplation is what’s sought. The drunken debauchery of Opening Day is not.
“It’s like Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday rolled into one,” said Michael Ochab, 47, a Hamtramck Catholic who will skip Opening Day for the first time in 20 years. “I couldn’t believe they had it that day.”
As a side note, you also have to appreciate Donnelly’s colorful writing style.
The article also appropriately notes that fans won’t be able to consume hot dogs. But along with the Free Press coverage, the Detroit Tigers PR Department managed to spin the idea that there other options for fans who for one reason or another, decide to attend the game despite the sacred tradition but also get hungry during the game and have consciences strong enough to prevent them from savoring a Ball Park Frank.
Here is an earlier version of the Free Press coverage:
That’s the day for somber reflection, personal sacrifice, church services that run from noon to 3 p.m. and a no-meat pledge, which doesn’t lend itself to downing a hot dog or two at the game.
But the Tigers point out that there are plenty of vegetarian offerings on the concession menus. Last year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals even named Comerica Park one of the Top 10 vegetarian friendly stadiums in baseball.
That’s some nice Tiger public relations spin, but too bad the reporters couldn’t have pointed out the irony of the idea that the vegetarian menu could come into play to limit any guilt fans may have had for attending opening day on Good Friday. As a later version of the Free Press coverage points out, such cases do exist, but apparently the only good options are peanuts and popcorn.
Image of Tigers opening day in 2007, viewed from section 326, used under a Wikimedia Commons license.