when god goes to the ballpark

in honour of the fall classic…

When God goes to the ballpark,
to whose prayers does She,
in Her infinite wisdom, decide to respond?

When God goes to the ballpark, how does She decide
which team to root for? Does She flip a coin,
or toss a bat and do that old schoolyard
hand-over-fists-up-the-handle trick?

Do you suppose She sits back and surveys the stadium
(surely not a domed abomination; Astroturf is clearly the work of the devil)
and says, “I’m going to throw my everlasting support behind the Yankees today,
because Mike Mussina could really use some help with his ERA, and damn,
those pinstripes look goooooood!”

When the batter who hit the winning home run
thanks God for being there with him at the plate,
thanks God for letting him make hard contact,
thanks God for allowing him to just keep it between
the white lines, to just stay within himself
and put the ball in play; when that batter thanks God
for allowing him to win the game for his team …
who is the losing pitcher praying to?
Is he cursing his God for making him think too much?
For the hangnail that caught on the seam of that split-finger fastball?
For lobbing out that big, fat beach ball, right up the middle of the strike zone,
smack dab on the sweet spot, practically daring their cleanup hitter
to swat it out of the park — instead of striking him out
with a 92-mile-an-hour fastball that should have spun him
into next week? Is that loser crying, “Why hast thou forsaken me
and my famous knuckleball?”

Do you suppose God is a southpaw?

How come you never hear the losing pitcher,
after a particularly demoralizing defeat, say,
“I’d like to blame my God for preventing me from being led into temptation;
for not delivering me from the beer hall last night; for placing me here on the mound today with a splitting headache, too hungover to pitch effectively.
I know it was my God who screwed up that easy toss to first base …
because we coulda-shoulda-woulda beaten those bastards
if only God had been on our side.”
How come you never hear that?

When God goes to the ballpark, why doesn’t She toss down
a bolt of lightning after a particularly bad call?
And why doesn’t She hit the thunder switch
when the manager deliberately spits tobacco juice on the umpire’s shoes?
Or when the shortstop won’t stop scratching his groin?

When God goes to the ballpark, does She order
the watered-down $9 draft beer and those awful nachos,
the ones that taste like soggy Styrofoam and are covered
in that disgusting orange goo? Or does she opt
for something more traditional, like a reliable ballpark frank?
Does God bark at a pimply-faced kid:
“Let me have one of those jumbo dogs with all the trimmings?”

No, even though She has access to all
the earthly condiments under heaven, and then some,
God probably chooses the basic traffic lights — ketchup, mustard and relish:

“Hold the onions, boys, because there’ll be lots of people
wanting my advice later on today, and I don’t want bad breath
when I have to tell all those sinners they’re no longer in the starting lineup …
but in the meantime the serpent’s on third base, Eve’s warming up in the bullpen,
and that’s strike three and you are outtttta there!”

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