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Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

July 18, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 72




global perspective God gets all the credit

By Tom Roberts, NCR editor

You've seen it before, the multi-million dollar athlete who's just performed some outrageous feat that makes it unmistakably clear why he and his ilk are where they are and the rest of us are looking in from the other side of the small screen, and then it's time for the post-game blather and the player steps up and says, "God gets all the credit."

Yeah, but?? I mean, you just went behind the back, crossed over with one hand, took off on a 43-inch vertical leap and slammed over two seven footers and that was God?

Interviewers, of course, don't say that. They politely listen to the jock humility and usually end up asking how the star "feels" about winning the championship. And things quickly degenerate into "team effort," "we just left it all" on the floor/field/court/whatever and on and on.

Young St. Louis Cardinals phenom Albert Pujols falls into the all-the-credit-to-God category, a theologically defensible position, I suppose, to a point. But in one of the cleverest bits of writing I've seen in a long time on God and fate and God's role in our greatness and failings, writer Dan Le Batard conjures up an interview with the Almighty about the young slugger in the July 21 issue of ESPN The Magazine (the interviewer is abbreviated as MAG)

MAG: Albert says he takes You into that batter's box with him. The Magazine's fact checkers have had trouble confirming this. And the Jauyson Blair thing has us skittish. So we're going to The Source. Are You helping him?"

GOD: A batter's box? Look at Me. I'm as big as the universe, give or take a galaxy, even when adhering strictly to My no-carb diet. Besides, you saw the scandal when Sammy Sosa was caught with cork. How will it look if ESPN reports Albert has stuffed his bat with God?

MAG: So the whole idea seems funny to You?

GOD: Athletes are always dragging Me into sports against My rather substantial will. Either I can get angry and start throwing lightning or I can laugh. When Mike Tyson threatened to eat Lennox Lewis' children in one breath and then said, "Praise be to Allah" in the next, I laughed so hard it should've started raining frogs. Just one time I'd like to hear a player say, "I blame God for making me fumble in the fourth quarter." Just once. Instead of all this sucking up.

MAG: Then Pujols is wrong?

GOD: Not exactly.

Le Batard is just getting started. It gets better, funnier and more complex. And his God doesn't have too many Calvinist tendencies. This God will help, sure, but it's clever mystery as to exactly how and when.

Check it out if you want to mix your baseball with a bit of down-to-earth metaphysical musing.

I can testify, by the way, that God is not spending any overtime time in the eastern reaches of Missouri this baseball season. The real miracle is happening on the western edge of the state, where the small-market Kansas City Royals, as of this writing, are in first place in the American League Central, 11 games over .500.

Tom Roberts e-mail address is

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