At this point, I have just about decided that the editors of The Baltimore Sun sports section have banned the use of the word “Christian” in stories about local and national athletes. Several times a year (for an imperfect survey, click here), the newspaper that lands in my front door prints a sports story that, from beginning to end, is full of religious themes, yet stops short of printing a few crucial facts.
Consider, for example, this profile of Jemile Weeks, who is competing for a second-base slot in the Baltimore Orioles line-up. This is very ordinary sports-page stuff, although it is pretty obvious what Weeks is from a rather unusual family (and I’m not talking about the fact that his big brother is the better known pro Rickie Weeks).
The X-factor in his family? The only word that leaps to mind is “ministry.” Note the hook at the end of the opening anecdote.
In early December, Jemile Weeks’ baseball career was thrown upside down. He was traded away from the only organization he had ever known, the Oakland Athletics, and sent to the Orioles for one of the franchise’s most popular players, closer Jim Johnson, in what was immediately deemed a salary dump.
Although the 27-year-old second baseman viewed it as a new opportunity, the external pressure was once again descending on Weeks, a 2008 first-rounder who grew up playing in, and around, the shadow of his All-Star big brother, Rickie.
But Weeks didn’t have time to get caught up in the hoopla; he was too busy trying to figure out how to feed 1,000 people and how he could borrow a bounce house or two.
Feeding the 1,000? What is that all about? As it turns out, the event is linked to a charity near his old stomping grounds in Orlanda, Fla.
Spot the key word in this summary of the roots of this project:
A month before the deal, his offseason schedule got particularly complicated when he announced at a periodic family meeting — yes, two pro ballplayers and a community-relations professional sister still have occasional family meetings with their parents — that he wanted to host a community event for charity near where he grew up in Orlando, Fla. Never mind that Weeks had never attempted such an event or that Christmas was a month away. That was what he wanted to do. And so it was going to happen.
“With my own hands, I reached out to people I know and my sister did, along with my mom’s church,” Weeks said. “I just phoned friends. I got the bounce houses and the food, pizzas and ice cream, and asked for live performances from people I knew.”
Simple as that.
Now what, precisely, does the phrase “my mom’s church” mean? Also, what does it mean — a few lines later — when the story notes that the event featured the work of an “inspirational rapper”?