A Minor Leaguer’s Faith Goes Unquestioned July 16, 2009

A Minor Leaguer’s Faith Goes Unquestioned

While we’re talking about religious professional athletes and their praising of God, here’s yet another story.

This one, from The Columbus Dispatch, is about baseball player Matt LaPorta.

LaPorta was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2008 (with three other players, in exchange for one CC Sabathia), played in his first Major League game in May of 2009, and is current with the Columbus Clippers (the triple-A affiliate of the Indians).

He struck out in his first Major League at-bat.

He actually seems to be a pretty good player, as the article shows. The religious rituals go too overboard for my taste, but everyone has their quirks…

When Matt LaPorta walks to the batter’s box, the song that begins blaring over Huntington Park’s loudspeakers is not the usual hip-hop or rock music that usually pops on when a hitter steps in.

It’s called Everlasting God, a rock-pop number by Lincoln Brewster, and it serves as motivation for the Clippers’ left fielder and first baseman. It also helps illustrate his relationship with God, which he calls his real drive for the game.

LaPorta is not shy about displaying his faith. He wears a cross around his neck, points to the sky after he hits a home run and etches a cross in the dirt before each plate appearance.

“Guys ask, ‘Why don’t you (thank God) when you strike out?’ ” LaPorta said. “Well, how would the teammates feel about that? In essence, I thank God after every at-bat — whether I strike out or I hit a home run.”

I’m not sure that he answered that to anyone’s satisfaction… but at least some players are asking him what I would want to ask.

Once again, the reporter (Zach Swartz) just states the player’s beliefs without ever calling them into question. That’s not just journalistic objectivity… that’s an incomplete profile. I would think a better article would include explanations for why the player thinks the way he does.

Doesn’t anyone else (atheist and otherwise) think it’d be a more interesting piece if LaPorta was asked why God has kept him in the Minor Leagues for most of his career so far? Why etching a cross in the dirt makes any difference? Why these two tweets taken together make any sense?

(Thanks to miller.2676 for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Those two tweets are making my brain itch.

  • The obvious answer is that God doesn’t think he can hit Major League breaking balls.

  • @ Iason, good one. Goes to prove God isn’t all-knowing after all.

    It is increasingly frustrating to see news articles and reports where people mention religion unchallenged. People just openly talk about how God does this or that. They are entitled to their religious opinions, but that doesn’t mean they have to be reported as news.

    So apparently, when God does something I like, it’s because he’s great and he loves me. When he does something I don’t like, it’s just because he has some greater plan I don’t understand. Convenient.

    At least they included the part of the quote where some people apparently do question his faith a little: “Why don’t you (thank God) when you strike out?”

  • The real question is: if there is a god, why would he care about about baseball when there are millions of people dying horrible deaths around the world?

  • It’s not entirely unusual for a 24 year old to be playing in AAA instead of MLB. Everyone on a Major League team right now was in the minor leagues first – save for Xavier Nady, the last player to go straight to the Majors.

  • Tyler in SoCal

    Strasburg’s going straight to the big leagues, well, if the Nationals can afford him….wow that was unrelated.

  • Richard Wade

    In essence, I thank God after every at-bat — whether I strike out or I hit a home run.”

    When people thank God after one daily activity but not others, what is their criteria for making that distinction? Does LaPorta also thank God after taking a leak, whether he splashes some on his pants or not? After eating walnuts, whether he bites himself in the cheek or not? After standing in the slow line at the market, whether he enjoys reading the inane National Enquirer headlines or not? After cleaning his windshield with the car’s washers, whether there’s enough wiper fluid left in the little tank or not?

    To an almighty being, every human activity is equally mundane.

  • Erik

    It’s sports reporting. Nobody reading about sports gives a crap about deep questions. Trying to hold them to journalistic standards is ridiculous, there are better things to focus on than all these sports players and their religious displays.

  • Alexis

    Erik says “It’s sports reporting. Nobody reading about sports gives a crap about deep questions.” I agree, but I also feel a deep sense of unrest. Sports have been cultivated by political and business interests to keep us focused on the mundane, rather than on those deep questions.

  • Strasburg’s going straight to the big leagues, well, if the Nationals can afford him….wow that was unrelated.

    No he’s not. He’s getting a Major League contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s going straight to the Majors. Last year’s #1 draft pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pedro Alvarez also got a Major League contract. He’s in AA this year.

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