Whew, that was a close(r) one!

JxDrwyz5It seems that some GetReligion readers are sensitive about the burning issue of whether God cares which teams win and which teams lose athletic contests and whether the prayers of the sports warriors play any role in determining the outcome of contests. So I have been watching this issue carefully.

So on the train this morning, my jet-lagged brain spotted what I thought was an interesting piece of Godtalk in a Washington Times story by Mark Zuckerman about the final Washington Nationals game played in creaky old RFK Stadium.

For a moment, I was worried -- since this was, it seemed, mentioned in a press conference -- that we had a reference to public prayer inside a sports stadium the District of Columbia. Here is the top of the story:

Chad Cordero stared in for the sign from Brian Schneider. At the plate stood Jayson Werth, hoping to complete a last-ditch rally by driving in the tying runners perched on first and second bases.

The Washington Nationals led the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 with two outs in the ninth, and RFK Stadium was bouncing and swaying one last time.

Inside a crowded home dugout, Manny Acta noticed team owner Ted Lerner nervously waiting for the final out to be recorded so he could take part in postgame ceremonies. Acta started to worry.

"Ted is just standing there waiting for the game to be over," the manager said. "And I'm like, 'Come on, Chief. You know the guy's 81 years old. He doesn't need to be put through this.'"

OK, was the reference to "Chief" -- with a large C -- kind of a vague reference to, you know, the Big Chief upstairs who hears managers' prayers? Was this a Latino culture thing? It should be observed that this was a request, not so much for victory, but for the team owner not to drop dead of a heart attack. That's a good reason to pray, yes?

However, I am relieved to let readers know that this is not a church-baseball separation issue.

It appears that closer Chad Cordero's was college nickname was "Chief" and, under Associated Press style, that would be a Big C reference. I think.

Note to the reporter: I follow the Nationals somewhat closely and I had not caught the "Chief" reference. That would have been a good thing to mention, so that sensitive politicos did not have to worry. There are tense times.

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