Harvey Haddix’s religion must be inferior

Harvey Haddix’s religion must be inferior April 23, 2012

Here’s a pic of the great Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live (pinched from Crooks & Liars).

If you understand why that’s funny, then you’ll also understand why this is also (unintentionally) funny, from Christianity Today’s liveblog — “Humber Games: Christian Pitcher Is Perfect.”

The subhead asks, “Is White Sox’s Phil Humber the new Jeremy Lin or Tim Tebow?”

“God is so good,” Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber said this afternoon moments after he threw a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners.

It’s not a line he says only after winning–or after doing something amazing like throwing the 21st perfect game in major league history. Want proof? Just look at his Twitter feed. “If you’re looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place,” he says in his Twitter bio. “But, Jesus has them! Love Him and my beautiful wife. Also, I play for the #WhiteSox.”

That’s evangelical tribalism.

Not Humber’s expression of his faith, or even CT’s desire to celebrate this great achievement by “One of Us.” But the idea that Our Team should celebrate his success because he’s one of us, and that his triumph is thus, somehow, also a triumph in our competition with the other tribes.

That’s just wrong. Humber threw a perfect game. That’s a marvel — an accomplishment so remarkable that it’s only occurred 21 times in major league history.

I watched the final two innings of David Cone’s 1998 perfect game in a Baltimore bar near Camden Yards. Everybody in the place was headed to the game that evening between the Orioles and the Mets. That meant everybody in the place was either an Orioles fan or a Mets fan, so the only thing we all agreed on was that we all hated the Yankees. And Cone was pitching for the Yankees.

But we all held our breath in the ninth inning, and when Cone got Orlando Cabrera to pop out for the 27th-straight out we all cheered and high-fived and toasted the great David Cone. Orioles and Mets fans came together to cheer a Yankee victory.

Tribalism doesn’t allow that. It doesn’t allow you to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn unless those who rejoice or mourn happen to be one of us.

And because of that, tribalism means that you aren’t able to celebrate Earth Day without implicitly saying, “Suck it, Neptune.” You aren’t able to celebrate a devout Christian athlete’s success without implicitly saying, “Suck it, heathens.”

Did Harvey Haddix or Pedro Martinez ever tweet about Bible study? No. And look what happened to them.

This was a perfect game for Jesus, so hooray for Our Team! And suck it, Judaism — Sandy Koufax was 47 years ago!

That’s tribalism, and that’s no way to approach baseball. Or religion. Or the rest of life.

P.S. You can hear the impromptu poetry of Vin Scully calling the ninth inning of Koufax’s immortal game here. Read a transcript here.

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