Religion ghost drifting into baseball

Religion ghosts float in and out of news stories, good stories as well as shallow, incomplete stories. Sometimes people see the ghosts and that’s a good thing.

See here Tmatt’s examination of a funeral home trend story and the absence of religion. For a similar example of a religion ghost driving into a Major League Baseball news article, see this Atlanta Journal-Constitution story on Jordan Schafer, one of the best baseball prospects right now famous for hitting a home run in his first major league at bat.

Unfortunately, Schafer is also famous for serving a 50 game suspension for alleged human growth hormone use. Since you can’t really test for positive HGH use, it is hard to know for sure who uses it, but the accusation certainly raises questions about Schafer’s character, which the article addresses nicely.

But this is a feel-good story with good and evil floating around Schafer’s life like bumble bees on a hot summer day at the park. You never know when one might strike with a religious element:

There is no test for human growth hormone, and Schafer denies ever taking it, but he was linked to it and admitted to “hanging with the wrong people.”

“If you hang around dogs long enough, you’re going to catch fleas,’” Schafer explained.

Diaz was just the friend he needed.

Diaz is known in the Braves clubhouse for being humble and down-to-earth, with a strong Christian faith. If there was anyone to lead Schafer down the right path, this was the guy.

If you wanted to know more about the “strong Christian faith” of Braves left fielder Matt Diaz, you won’t find much about it in this article. We get some more details about the religious element that developed between Diaz and Schafer, but it is hardly developed as a meaningful aspect of the story:

They’d hit together several times a week. They played pingpong at Diaz’s house. One Sunday late in the offseason, Schafer went to church with Diaz. They talked about how to move forward from the suspension.

“Being able to talk with Matt, I don’t have any anger about it anymore,” Schafer said. “I’ve moved on. I’m totally content with the way things have been. Like he says, things happen for a reason. You have to be able to put your faith in God and let everything work itself out.”

Going on Diaz’s advice, Schafer wore collared shirts to the ballpark in spring training. He gave away his flashy red glove.

What do dressing nicely and having a normal glove have to do with going to church with a teammate?

When Schafer says that he wants to put his faith in God, does that mean he converted to Christianity recently or that he has re-newed his faith in God? Also, the article implies a generic Christianity, but a few details would give readers a much more complete idea of the religion ghosts present in this story. Maybe we’ll get more details later this season.

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  • Lynn Ramsey

    Give the guy a chance. Conversions are slow processes, the products of good decisions, and Schaefer’s making a good one hanging around Diaz. To sports fans, dressing nicely and trading off his flashy glove are signs that he’s being more humble and not showy. Braves fans may not flock to him the way they did to, say, Deion Sanders, but they’ll respect him if he’s able to stay on the straight and narrow.

  • observer

    Schafer has a christian/Catholic upbringing. Not sure he is still a Catholic. He sports several christian and bible versus as tatoos.

  • Maria

    Actually, he’s Episcopalian. The prep school he went to before Winter Haven, All Saints Academy, was Episcopalian.

  • Tyson K

    From what I can tell, this article does what lots of media coverage of religion does–uses generic terms like “God” and “prayer,” and talks about attending church, etc., without any more specificity than that. It kind of assumes this generic American Protestantism that is probably what American Christianity is to most reporters– the “God” is the one of our civil religion that we talk about in public. I agree with Daniel (and everyone here on GetReligion) that we really need more detail than that to give us a coherent idea of what’s going on.

    Maria, just because Schafer went to an Episcopalian school does not necessarily mean he’s an Episcopalian– but the fact that he attended a denominational school does provide insight into his religious background.

  • observer

    Schafer was baptised a Catholic. I’m positive.

  • observer

    He went to a Baptist elementary and All Saints High School. Catholic education wasn’t available they are both excellent schools.

  • observer

    The beauty here is that Mr. Diaz brought Jordan back “home”. He already had a religious foundation, regardless of his relgious denomination then or now.

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