God, the Chicago Cubs, and the Church of Baseball

As a fan of a team that will likely never win a World Series in my lifetime (a distinction, we suspect, you Chicago Cubs fans are about to lose), you’ll find no bigger supporter than me of the notion that baseball is the perfect game.

Sure, we joke from time to time that it’s like a religion, but we don’t really mean it.

Today, the Chicago Tribune appears to mean it, analyzing — overanalyzing, really — the spiritual meaning of baseball in its story today. For all of its superior qualities, baseball is still the weapon of choice for the overreaching writer.

Being at a ballgame, or even following one on the radio, Sister Kathy Sherman said, “gives you a sense of mindfulness, and a sense of the present.”

“You think about what’s happening there,” Sherman said, “but you’re also present to the larger moments of life.”

Sexton said that especially in today’s hyperstimulated world, where fans are often checking their phones instead of watching the game, baseball can provide an avenue for reflection. If people allow, the game’s rhythm and pace, chided by some as plodding, can afford fans the ability to stop and think, to both observe the game in great detail — the way the catcher sets up or the shifting of the outfielders — but also take time to think about their own lives. And playoff baseball, with each pitch magnified, will be an experience of ecstatic moments, Sexton said, the possibility of failure on one hand and “potential magnificence” on the other.

It is this experience that leads fans such as Arain, a lawyer who lives in Hyde Park, to include the team in their prayers.

Two years ago, Arain went on the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. He prayed for health, for his family and friends, and for his third-grade teacher. It was a time, he said, for reflection, when he thought about everyone and everything that was important in his life.

“And I found myself,” Arain said, “praying for the Cubs to win the World Series.”

If you believe that God answers all prayers, then it’s clear his/her answer to Chicago is often “no.”

  • Gary F

    If the Cubs actually do win it, what would the fans bitch about? Part of being a Cubs fan is the pride in the cross they carry.

    • I often said the same thing about Red Sox fans in their “suffering” days. Their identity and happiness came from their misery. Now, they’re just another stadium full of suckers.

    • jon

      They’ll complain about all the fair weather fans.
      The real danger for the die hards comes from the cubs regularly making the playoffs…. and occasionally winning the world series (more than once every two/three generations)

      • Gary F

        Those fair weather fans put ketchup on their hot dogs.

        • Ewww…

        • jon

          I’ve not lived in Chicago land for 18 years, and you’ve still managed to hit a nerve…

          You might have just as well suggested that they feel New York style “pizza” was just as good as Chicago deep dish.

          • Gary F

            I’ve been told the way to separate a real Chicagoian and a fake is that a real Chicagoian adult doesn’t put ketchup, or catsup on a hotdog. “NC 17” is not a movie rating, but it means NO CATSUP FOR OVER 17.

          • jon

            There used to be a shop called chris and robs on east river road and osborne in Fridley… name changed, people changed, menu stayed the same.

            Chris and Rob served Chicago street food…. pizza (thin crust, thick crust isn’t street food, it’s a sit down meal) chicago hot dogs, italian beef, and the fries were seasoned perfectly with celery salt (it’s an important detail… like the poppy seed bun, preferably a Mary Ann bun.)

            This new place (maxwell’s something maybe?) serves the same food, but the first time I went in there I was eating my chicago dogs (hold the mustard on mine thanks) and some one else was ordering, and the guy at the cash register asked if he wanted ketchup on his chicago dogs….

            I’ve not been back since. How the health inspectors allows them get away with such a disgusting display, in a place where people are eating….

            Chris and Robs still has places in Minneapolis and St. Paul last I checked…. they understood that ketchup was for fries.

          • Chris and Rob’s used to be “Joey D’s”…and there is still one on East 42nd in S. Minneapolis and on the west end of West 7th in St. Paul.

            Decent Chicago dogs.

            /Friends don’t let friends put ketchup (catsup) on hot dogs (or brats)

          • Gary F

            Still a Chris and Robs over by Roosevelt HS in Mpls and West 7th in St Paul. I normally eat there a few times a year. Still a good joint.

          • Chantal0007

            There are definitely no-ketchup Nazis in Chicago, but there are people who put ketchup on hot dogs here. Most hot dog stands are accommodating.

    • McHale72

      if the Cubs win the world series, we can still rag on how terrible the White Sox and all 37 of their fans are. That will never get old.

      • wjc

        Still, the White Sox won the title in 2005, so that is something.

    • Chantal0007

      Cubs fans don’t “bitch” about the long drought. They aren’t like the crybaby Red Sox fans. They carry their disappointment stoically.

  • BJ

    I love that opening of Bull Durham…

    108 double stitches, or 216 single, with the first and last double hidden underneath so you see 106 double.

  • Gary F
  • Jack Ungerleider

    “As a fan of a team that will likely never win a World Series in my lifetime …”

    Unless its a Cubs-Indians World Series and fate determines that the Cub fans need to suffer just a little longer. 😉

  • Rob

    What’s with all the pink headwear?

    • Jerry

      Pink washing?

  • wjc

    The “superior qualities” of baseball show off best when the games last 2 1/2 hours or less. At 3 1/2, those qualities are a bit more strained.

  • Mike Worcester

    Interesting that the single best book about the origins of the modern game of baseball has in its title a religious theme:

    • I tend to think baseball evolved.

      • Mike Worcester

        The author agrees, and also proves that Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with said evolution. How’s that for baseball sacrilege? 🙂

  • blindeke

    … he says while the Indians are sweeping the Sox.

    • These are the Indians. Don’t assume a win after 4 innings.

      Remember 1999