minutia press.
Strange crossings

I'm not opposed to prayer -- don't get me wrong -- but I am surprised at athletes who visibly ask for God's help when they perform.

I write in particular about Detroit's Rodriguez, who makes the sign of the cross over himself everytime he approaches home plate. You would think the plate held communion wafers.

I understand the appeal, so to speak, of prayer as a means of coping with difficult situations. But if you're a professional baseball player, is it reasonable to ask for God's help to get on base? Of course, maybe Rodriguez is praying that his foul tips don't injure anybody. Maybe he has the crisis of the Sudanese in mind. Maybe without steroids, players are turning to the Almighty. I think I have a slogan for them: Stop dopin'; start Pope'n.

Rodriguez hasn't gotten a base hit yet, so Rodriguez is literally taking God's name in vain.

A friend of mine's parents did a somewhat scientific study of whether praying helps one get what one "wants". One parent prayed for things; the other not; and they recorded their success rates. Nothing significant came of the study one way or the other.

I like to save medicine for when it's really necessary, and maybe Rodriguez should consider the same with prayer. The consequences of not getting on base are not dire, and there are other things more worthy of prayer.

But if God is in the playoff prayer business, let's hope the Cards have the Almighty advantage.