Hope Springs Eternal
Authors try to make connections…
A few things happened this past week. Valentine’s day – or as I would like to call it “Volunteer’s Day”, since volunteering shows love and concern and it is not limited to those in romantic relationships. (Who needs another friggin’ diamond, anyway?) President’s Day holiday, which means that George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s images were used to sell everything ubiquitous from cars to mattresses. Maryland had another non-snowstorm – ok, this is not a negative. If you know how Marylanders react to snow warnings, you would see how this non-snow event can be a positive in our lives. Yes, world, there is still toilet paper on the store shelves in Maryland, as of today. I started another class at church. Oh, and baseball spring training began. Pitchers and catchers reported over this past weekend. The rest of the prospects will come in to camp this week, with full squad workouts beginning this weekend coming.
These last two brought something to mind that I really didn’t consider before – Is it ok to pray for a winning season for the Orioles? Is it really wrong?
Some of my friends and relatives believe we shouldn’t bother God with such minor details. There are plenty of other crisis items to pray for in this world. They say we should be praying for world peace, or social justice, or dissolution of evil in the world. God doesn’t have time for trivialities like “Please let the O’s win more than 69 games this year.”
Well, who are we to judge what God wants to hear about? I mean, after all the prayers about failing politics and failing economies, He just might like to kick back and talk baseball for a bit. Who really knows?
Let’s see if the O’s really need divine intervention this year. The team changed general managers after the 2011 season. The players won only 69 games and lost 93 games out of the 162 played. It didn’t matter if they were home or on the road, the Orioles, by all standards, had another losing season. This last one was their 14th straight. This is not the formula to put even occasional fans in the Camden Yards seats. Only die-hards, still have season tickets, and even the number of die-hards is dwindling. There were a few other major league teams with worse records – and I thank Pittsburgh for being one of them.
From the fan front, last years games were sometimes painful to watch. Jeremy Guthrie would pitch his heart out, only to get zero run support. The bats would be healed only to have the bullpen serve up the game with walks-a-million. They couldn’t pull anything together. The only streak they had was the one each player took running from the locker to the showers after the game. It seemed to me that they lost the fun of baseball, and lost it early in the season. It became an attitude thing. They couldn’t lose the attitude.
There is no one person to blame. Usually, the team manager takes the hit when the team fails to perform. The O’s have changed managers in the past few years more often than some people change their socks. The lack of stability, I’m sure, has messed with everyone’s head. They are starting to really believe their own bad press.
As an armchair athlete, the only thing I can do to help the team is pray. Sounds dorky, I know. I watch them, I go to the yard, I support them with good vibes… but really, all I can do is pray that the team changes its team attitude. I pray they start to enjoy playing baseball. I pray the players stop thinking of Baltimore as a stop on the train to the line-ups in New York or Boston. I pray the management stops thinking of the O’s as a bad-boy rehab facility (please do NOT sign Manny!) I pray we all can just have fun playing and watching baseball.
It really was a fun game at one time. Then the money crept in… and the salaries, and the diva attitudes.
With this in mind, I let my occasional math-nerdness take over and do some calculations. Full squads start around February 24-25. The first spring training game is March 5. That’s about 9 days, correct? My prayer-nerdness says “Novena time!”
For those of you who don’t know what a novena is, it is an opportunity for 9 days to pray for a specific intention. Many Catholics pray novena prayers asking specific saints to run some interference with the Lord to have the intention granted (like when your dad said “no” to something you wanted to do, so you talked to your mom and she talked to your dad about it). Some saints in the church are the “go-to” for specific intentions, like St. Anthony to help you find what you lost. St. Jude Thaddeus, one of the original 12 Apostles, is the go-to guy for hopeless cases or desperate situations. Hmmmm – is the 2012 baseball season a desperate situation? Are the O’s in need of the Patron of Hopeless Cases to run some divine interference for them? Maybe…
Anyway, prayer can’t hurt. It can help you feel like you are doing something positive. Meditating, sending positive waves or vibes, does the same thing. We fans are not in control of the team’s performance. Only the players are. We just need to be able to cheer for the guys. So here goes – my prayers for the 2012 baseball season starting this weekend:
Please allow the Orioles (or insert team of choice) play their best baseball during this 2012 season. Please allow good health to all players. Please allow the players to keep a positive attitude about their game. Please allow management to lead and not interfere. Please remove the fear of success from the hearts of players, press, and fans alike. And please allow everyone just to have fun and be safe this season. For this, I pray, Amen.
No, I’m not asking for the World Series. I’m not asking for a winning season. See, the O’s have the talent. Their heads are just wearing the losing habit. Winning is a habit, and so is losing. The team has to get over the mental roadblocks to success. Talent-wise, they could go all the way. Now if they can only keep their heads in the game…
You will see more on the Orioles as the season progresses. You will also see writing about the Phillies and Nationals, two other teams near and dear to my heart. And, yes, I pray for a safe and healthy year for all players – and the fans.
It’s spring and there’s hope in our hearts.