October 23, 2007

Christian Faith Guides Colorado Rockies, Individual Character Builds Team Chemistry

“When you have as many people who believe in God as we do, it creates a humbleness about what we do. I don’t see arrogance here, I see confidence. We’re all very humbled about where this franchise has been and where it is now, and we know that what’s happening now is a very special thing”--Rockies reliever Jeremy Affeldt

Perched on the threshold of baseball's highest stage and about to enter the eye of a sports media storm, it is the Colorado Rockies players' faith that helps keep them together, and is a factor in building the team chemistry that has helped them build a phenomenal 21-1 streak heading into the World Series:
The role of religion within the Rockies’ organization first entered the public sphere in May 2006, when an article published in USA Today described the organization as adhering to a “Christian-based code of conduct” and the clubhouse as a place where Bibles were read and men’s magazines, like Maxim or Playboy, were banned.

The article included interviews with several players and front office members, but team players and officials interviewed this week said it unfairly implied that the Rockies were intent on constructing a roster consisting in large part of players with a strong Christian faith. Asked how his own Christian faith affected his decision-making, General Manager Dan O’Dowd acknowledged it came into play, but not in a religious way. He said it guided him to find players with integrity and strong moral values, regardless of their religious preference.

“Do we like players with character? There is absolutely no doubt about that,” O’Dowd said during a recent interview in his Coors Field office. “If people want to interpret character as a religious-based issue because it appears many times in the Bible, that’s their decision. I believe that character is an innate part of developing an organization, and to me, it is nothing more than doing the right thing at the right time when nobody’s looking. Nothing more complicated than that.

“You don’t have to be a Christian to make that decision.”
For most Christian opponents--moonbat liberals, atheists, etc.--being Christian and possessing good character is either a risible notion dismissed offhand or represents a threat to others' freedoms. Won't those Christians impose their views on other people, in this case, the other players who don't share the clubhouse's Christian faith?
As a Jewish player who attended a Catholic high school and a Lutheran university, Jason Hirsh knows what being a religious minority feels like. So last December, when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, Hirsh wondered if what he had heard about his new organization was true.

Now, Hirsh said not once during the season had he felt uncomfortable with the place Christianity occupies within the organization.

“There are guys who are religious, sure, but they don’t impress it upon anybody,” Hirsh said. “It’s not like they hung a cross in my locker or anything. They’ve accepted me for who I am and what I believe in.”
Wow, religious and tolerant? (sarcasm off) The Rockies' clubhouse has a decidedly Christian flavor, but in a surprising way (these days) the team doesn't shy away from discussing their faith:
Even if the Rockies are not consciously doing it, reliever Matt Herges, playing for his seventh organization, said the team had the highest concentration of devout Christians he had seen during his nine major league seasons.

Every Sunday, about 10 people gather for chapel, according to reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and Tuesday afternoon Bible study sessions usually attract seven or eight players. Affeldt said players discussed life and their families as well as scripture.

“Certain guys attend chapel, certain guys don’t,” outfielder Cory Sullivan said. “I don’t think that’s any different from how it is in any other major league clubhouse. Nothing’s shoved down your throats.”
. . .
“I think that if they were Catholic or Baptist or didn’t believe in God but were quality players and good people and good teammates, there would be a place for them here,” Herges said. “But I do see a lot of quality people in this clubhouse. This is the tightest-knit group I’ve ever been around.”

Pitcher Mark Redman, playing for his eighth team in nine seasons, has been with the Rockies for only two months, but he, too, said he sensed a different chemistry. “I’ve been on teams with guys who you can’t wait to leave when the season’s over,” Redman said. “You don’t find a bad guy in here. I’m more than comfortable bringing my son in here. I haven’t been able to say that in the past.”
When the Rockies celebrated their National League Championship Series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, NLCS MVP Matt Holliday and one of the owners took the time to thank God (can't remember which one of the owners, I was at the game and it was loud) for their success, to no one's surprise here in Denver. None of the local MSM picked up on that in the following days, but this astonishing article from the NY Times of all MSM outlets captures the most important point.

A little faith can go a long way--all the way to the World Series.

Thank God, Go Rockies!

PS--commenters here and on other sites poke fun at the notion that God is behind the Rockies, due to the players' prayer--no such argument is being made. If prayer = victory, the Boston Red Sox wouldn't have had to wait until 2004 to win another World Series, and the Chicago Cubs wouldn't be enduring a century-long drought (and the Denver Broncos wouldn't have lost 3 Superbowls with John Elway, and the Colorado Avalanche would now have 11 straight Stanley Cups!) The type of religion itself isn't necessarily bringing success (even though their run has been miraculous, they still haven't won the World Series yet), but the practice of it--the team chemistry that had been a problem in recent season has been strengthened, and the players feel comfortable with each other and have confidence in their teammates on and off the field.

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