Sometimes, I wish that baseball meant less to me than it does. Can I get an “amen,” Bobby Ross, Jr.?
When judging levels of sports loyalty, it is absolutely crucial to take into account whether fans stick with their favorite teams during bad times, as well as good. In a way, it’s like going to church. True believers are in their pews or stadium seats during the bad times, as well as the good times.
So I am going to write about Chris Davis of my Baltimore Orioles — again — even though many GetReligion readers could care less about this slugger and his historic slump at the plate. I am going to write about this story — again — because there is an important journalism point to be made.
Here it is: When writing about public figures who are religious believers, you cannot write about what is happening in their hearts and heads (and, yes, their souls) without asking questions about religion.
Consider this ESPN headline atop a story that ran when Davis broke his MLB-record slump at the plate: “How Chris Davis snapped, embraced baseball's most epic oh-fer.”
The key word is “embraced,” which implies that he managed to come to terms with the slump and faced the reality of it. In other words, there is more to this story than taking extra batting practice. Something had to be done at the level of head and heart.
Another ESPN headline, on a different feature, captured the agony of all of this: “ 'I hear the people every night': Inside Chris Davis' 0-for-54 streak.” The key word here is “inside,” as in “inside” the head and heart of the man who is enduring this agony.
So did ESPN pros factor in this outspoken Christian believer’s faith? Did they talk to his pastor? The team chaplain? Did they take faith seriously, as a factor in this man and his struggles?
Wait for it.
Here’s the overture in that first ESPN story that I mentioned, the one with “embraced” in the headline:
BOSTON -- When the longest hitless streak in major league history ended and when the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up their sixth victory of the season with a 9-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox, Chris Davis channeled his inner Rocky Balboa and walked into the visitors clubhouse with his fists above his head, a smile streaking across his face. His teammates prepared a hero's welcome too, banging the walls of their lockers, turning the scene into an impromptu "STOMP" performance. Davis looked around at the joy emanating from his teammates and felt a weight lift off his shoulders.