August 4, 2005

Something That's Been Annoying Me

After finishing his warmup tosses, Curt Schilling has a habit of standing behind the mound, pulling the cross out of his shirt, kissing it, and praying. This usually happens when the camera is on him, showing his pitching stats. I wonder why Schilling chooses to pray at that particular moment. I cannot help but wonder if the timing is intentional.

Let's take as a given that Schilling needs to pray before he begins his work in a baseball game. Why couldn't he pray in the bullpen? Or on his way across the outfield to the mound? (Or in the morning when he wakes up? Or right before when he leaves his house?) ... Will God forget the prayer if Schilling says it too early, before he throws his first pitch? Does Schilling need to see how well he's commanding his splitter, and adjust his prayer accordingly? Maybe God watches NESN -- and thus needs to see Curt praying to then hear the supplication.

I grew up in a very religious home (some would call it a cult) -- and when I see what I believe are calculated (to some degree) displays of faith, I cannot help but think of Matthew 6:5-6:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

37 comments:

Jere said...

This reminds me of when I heard a football player say that most of the guys who stay on the field after a game for the big "prayer circle" just do it to get TV air-time.

peter n said...

Hey guys, he did save the game. I think it's the director in the truck that calls for that shot every time. It shows his sensitive side. 8 down, 55 to go.

Steph M said...

I think it has more to do with habit. He did it before every game as a starter and will continue to do it through the rest of this career I'm sure. Most players have their own quirks and rituals when heading to the field... need we be reminded of Nomar?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it might just be yet another baseball player's superstition. Anyone know when he started doing this? If it was during the playoffs last year, then I say keep it up. If you think you're better, you are.

sarah said...

i'm pretty sure that schilling has been doing that at least since he started with the red sox, and probably longer than that.
there are so many things that bother me about curt schilling that the prayer thing is relatively low on my list, but i've never really thought about it before. very interesting post, allan.
edgar, i've noticed, walks to second base and stands there a prays a second when he takes the field for the first time, but it's not as flashy and obvious as schilling is.

Anonymous said...

schiling is one of those people who can tell you exactly when he 'found Jesus' which is why I don't think his praying is for tv time. I assume he's praying to do the best he can do...the thought that Jesus somehow cares if curt shuts it down in the 9th is ammusing.

eddie shore said...

Curt is aware if the potential of the camera ALWAYS. He must be the "show"

The slow walk form the dugout to the bull pen during the game.pleaaaaaaaase!...why cant he just go there when the rest of the guys go out??...need that crowd approval??

Even when his wife runs the mamrthin, it was all about "curt" and can he make it from fenway to the finish...

peter n said...

Bottom line is he's saving games, although sometimes at the expense of viewer's fingernails.

yaztex said...

I, too, have noticed Schill's pre-first pitch prayer routine, no doubt offered up in supplication to Our Lady of Perpetual Command.

In and of itself, this should not be viewed as out of character, for as any devoted fan of the Nation knows, Curt (and Shonda) are devoutly religious folk. However, I, too, have wondered is there perhaps not a moment in the relative privacy of the bullpen confessional when such a prayer may be offered?

Perhaps Schill could think of it as a bit of quiet contemplation before the processional, when the first lilting strains of that clacsic spiritual, "Welcome to The Jungle", resonate from the PA.

Yes, perhaps it is my Episcopalian upbringing that makes me naturally cynical of what appears to be a made-for-TV religious moment, but then again there are those faiths where the swinging of cats by the tail is viewed as no more unusual than the swinging of a bat in the on deck circle.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as he gets late movement on the splitter, the Right Reverend Mr. Towhead can offer his prayers to the Almighty from the front steps of the Cask & Flagon.

As for me, I pray that Schill is soon saying his prayers from the proper pew at the front of the rotation...

Anonymous said...

Horse before cartism: the cameraman sees Schill with the cross, and shows it. Blame the editor for deciding it has to be shown again and again.

mouse said...

Actually, the TV cameras don't show it every time he comes out to pitch--just most of the time. I've seen devout Christians like Curt pray in "peculiar" rituals before, so...whatever works for him. I suppose it could be mere showboating, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

At least he doesn't have a ritual of stripping to his skivvies and getting funky with it to his entrance music.

Rebecca said...

I think it has to do with mental focus... prayer is a powerful tool to put your mind in the right place. I don't believe in god, but I used to, and while I don't believe it is directed in the right place, I do believe that prayer is effective.

Allen, I don't think this is something that could be done just as effectively in the bullpen. I think it is the final step in getting Curt's mind in the right place to pitch. It is unfortunate that we all have to watch it, and I bet he probably does like the fact that so many people see it, but probably from the misdirected view that he gets his power from god, and he wants people to see it and believe. But as I said, I don't think it's why he does it; I think he just needs it to focus.

redsock said...

I knew this would draw comments. :>)

During the playoffs last year -- especially the day of ALCS 6 (?) -- Schilling said that he does not pray to win, but rather just to have strength and do his best.

Which I have no problem with. It's just the publicness of it that rubs me the wrong way. Plus, I'm not Schilling's biggest fan to begin with.

I didn't know that about Renteria, but he's clearly a pretty quiet guy.

Also, I think Mueller is quite religous, but again, I've never seen him do anything that would indicate that on the field.

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe in god, but I used to, and while I don't believe it is directed in the right place, I do believe that prayer is effective." Well Rebecca, most people do pray to God. But we're glad you think Curt's praying is effective.

What he does is no different then when Ortiz and Manny point heavenward after a home run. Matt Clement 'thanked the Lord' that he was unhurt after his beaning, and Bill Mueller prayed while Clement was out on the mound. Both of them are profoundly religious people they just aren't as demonstrative on the field as Schiling.

Not up to anybody to question somebody's show of faith. No need to analyze it, agree with, emulate it or even have an opinion on it. To each his/her own.

Anonymous said...

Who are you to judge how others pratice their faith? I hardly believe in the ghost stories of the bible and don't believe in a magic wizard up in the sky, but if he does...who are we to judge him?

I try to go by the motto: Live and let live.

I know that it's a popular trend these days to take out our anger on christians but let's try not to be part of the herd and exercise a little independant thought.

Let people live their lives however they choose.

redsock said...

Let people live their lives however they choose.

Yeah, my comments are preventing Curt Schilling from living the life he wants to live. ... Am I that powerful? I'd be surprised if Schilling even knows this blog exists.

I try to go by the motto: Live and let live.

Well, you've obviously failed in this case. You didn't "live and let [me and my personal opinions] live." You had to stop and offer your judgment.

Rebecca said...

no kidding, allen. did you catch the sarcasm in that anonymous commenter who quoted me? I would certainly not expect a Christian to understand what I mean by that, but it kills me when they say things like "to each their own" while trying to manipulate public policy to match their faith.

Anyway, since I was defending Curt's actions, I resent your sarcasm, ye-who-won't-even-back-comments-with-a-name. who are you to criticize what I believe?

I was also going to comment on Billy praying on the field while Mattie was down. While it was clear to me what he was doing, he did not make a show of it.

I think you make a solidly scriptural point, Allen, (and some of our anonymous commenters would be surprised in how well I know that.) this was, however, written to people of a different culture, where pretty much everyone believed the same thing, and spirituality had a great deal to do with social standing. To make such a show of prayer in a church or other religious gathering might be to garner the respect of all watching, but to do this in public... I believe Curt does this for his own purposes, and if he considers how many are watching it at all, probably hopes it will influence others to pray as well.

Anonymous said...

You have a blog, that has comments turned on so I commented on one of your posts...kind of the point of your entire site, no?

I'm guessing you're a college kid?

redsock said...

I'm guessing you're a college kid?

Based on what?

Johnny Sideburns said...

Catholic players from Latin America have been crossing themselves in the batters' box before stepping in for decades. The first I ever saw do it was Davey Concepcion of the Reds in the '70's and I'm sure it was old hat then. I was just a kid then and from a (non-practicing) Protestant household; I had to ask why he was doing that, and I was told "because he's Catholic". Catholics have been in my "cool" books ever since.

Anyway, my point is that you shouldn't single out/pick on Schill for something that any number of other players do...unless you choose to criticize the practice altogether, which is of course your prerogative to do. I'm not overtly religious myself, but chiding someone for being openly Christian is a little too ACLU for my tastes.

Great blog, though...yours is one of the three best blogs on the Sox (and therefore on baseball in general) that I read "religiously".

L-girl said...

I'm guessing you're a college kid?

That's hilarious. Very observant, this anon poster.

I hate Curt Schilling's public display of religiosity. If prayer is between the pray-er and some supreme being, why does one need to do anything visible at all, let alone hold and kiss a gold necklace?

It's true that the cameraman/producer/editor captures the prayer for every appearance, but knowing Curt as we do, it's not farfetched to think that's why he does it on the mound in the first place. They don't call him Redlight for nothing.

live and let live

I haven't seen anyone trying to stop Curt from showing us how much he loves Jesus. Merely commenting on how it personally does or does not irk them.

redsock said...

Upon further review, I blame Mark Bellhorn.

Devine said...

I don't like it either. I grew up Christian and it's often (not always!) the people who put it on display who seem to not quite live up to some of the actual good principles in Christianity. That's not to say I resent faith or believe that Curt Schilling is a bad person; it's to say I've become wary of public displays of faith.

Jack Marshall said...

Well, blaming Bellhorn makes as much sense as being "rubbed the wrong way" by a player's sincere demonstration of religious faith. This is bias, plain and simple. Schilling plies his trade in front of TV cameras, and if he chooses to pray on the field, there is no reason to presume he's doing it for show. Surely you've seen him praying quietly in the dugout between innings during starts. Did Tom Gordon's skyward points after saves similarly bother you? Let's see...when a certain outfielder REALLY behaves unprofessionally, your response is "all that matters is the numbers," but when a star starter prays on the mound while helping his team out in an unfamiliar role, it "rubs you the wrong way."
I haven't prayed since I was about 11, but at a time when players are disgracing the game by using steroids, lying to Congress, assaulting cameramen, throwing tantrums and refusing to play, a public display of prayer has to be seen as a marked upgrade. The criticism of Schilling suggests a truly warped set of values.

ye-who-won't-even-back-comments-with-a-name said...

Rebecca: "I would certainly not expect a Christian to understand what I mean by that, but it kills me when they say things like "to each their own" while trying to manipulate public policy to match their faith."

As you've no idea what my faith or beliefs are or aren't, how interesting that you assume I'm being manipulative. How interesting that you assume I believe in God and all that entails. I was merely pointing out that just because you "used to believe in God but no longer do and therefore prayer is misdirected" is a fairly judgemental statement. Furthermore, Christians, at least the ones I know, don't all see the world as black and white as you seem to. They believe in what they believe...some may find Curt's open prayer as a media grabber and some may not view it as anything other than what it is.

"It is unfortunate that we all have to watch it". Surely there are less fortunate things...All the spitting I see during the game constantly is sort of gross to watch, but, whatever.

"who are you to criticize what I believe?" I am not criticizing you at all...I would have to care what you believe to have an opinion one way or the other.

"I believe Curt does this for his own purposes, and if he considers how many are watching it at all, probably hopes it will influence others to pray as well." All he has to do is read this blog to see he has no influence on whether people pray because he does (in itself an odd notion). As I stated earlier, not up to anybody to question somebody's show of faith. No need to analyze it, agree with, emulate it or even have an opinion on it. To each his/her own.

Devine said...

Jack Marshall...you slay me.

No, my argument with you is that you've made a value judgment of Manny Ramirez (and his personality, specifically) that you are not qualified to make and which the actual professionals (like his teammates and Terry Francona) have let go. No doubt you'd say mine of Curt Schilling's actions (and remember, NOT Curt Schilling!) is the same, but I don't see it that way. I am not looking at Curt Schilling and saying "Ye Pharisee!"

The reason I differentiate between praying in public and pointing at the sky (or some similar gesture) is that the latter is merely an acknowledgment of God, and the former is your communication with God (which I feel should be private, so sue me). I don't mind when people pray on the field if a teammate is injured because it does not smack of forethought. I would be okay with a pitcher crossing themselves or some similar gesture. This may be splitting hairs to some people but it matters to me.

Jack Marshall said...

Devine: We are all breathlessly awaiting your Code regarding acceptible and unacceptible expressions of faith in baseball.

And if you genuinely think Terry Francona has no problem with Manny's antics, I have some great Virginia swampland to sell you.

L-girl said...

Well, blaming Bellhorn makes as much sense as being "rubbed the wrong way" by a player's sincere demonstration of religious faith. This is bias, plain and simple.

Jack Marhsall, you are quite a comedian.

It's not bias. It's an opinion. It doesn't have make sense. It's one person's reaction to what one other person does. Period.

How you know that Curt Schilling's public prayer sessions are sincere is another story. You must have supernatural powers to go with your great sense of humor.

L-girl said...

at a time when players are disgracing the game by using steroids, lying to Congress, assaulting cameramen, throwing tantrums and refusing to play

Yeah, it's really gotten out of control. I wish players would go back to abusing alcohol, punching umps, refusing to play, patronizing prostitutes and running into the stands to clobber heckling fans the way they did in the old days.

I don't know which is more sickening, public prayer or ignorant nostalgia.

Devine said...

Jack Marshall: you are a fool, and I'm never addressing you again.

L-girl said...

Devine: I'd like to join you, but I can't trust myself to make good on the pledge. Is there a 12-step for this? ArguingWithIdiots Anonymous?

redsock said...

Welcome back, Jack!

There was a sentence in my first draft of the post, stating that my annoyance may not make sense, or be rational, but this was something that has bugged me.

I cut it, because I figured that everyone would realize my blog = nothing more than my opinion. ... Oops.

skyward points

This is not always god-related. When Pedro did it, I believe it was a tribute of sorts to a deceased relative. ... But sometimes it's annoying, sure -- doesn't Carl Everett do it at every base on a home run trot?

Let's see...when a certain outfielder REALLY behaves unprofessionally, your response is "all that matters is the numbers," ...

I never said that, but please, continue ...

... but when a star starter prays on the mound while helping his team out in an unfamiliar role, it "rubs you the wrong way."

Yup. So?

The criticism of Schilling suggests a truly warped set of values.

Clearly, I'm on the right track if that's what you think.

redsock said...

And, Jack, just so I have this right:

You accuse me of "bias, plain and simple" and suggest I have "a truly warped set of values."

Because I expressed an opinion that was little more than: "You know that thing Schilling does? I don't really like it."

And I'm the judgmental one? Amazing.

Devine said...

l-girl: I have a bit of pracitce with this. Over on The Soxaholix, I finally stopped addressing this moron who posts over there. At first, I had to really fight to quell the urge to respond to his worthless, pot-stirring comments after I swore him off. It got easier every day, though, and now I feel absolutely freed from his idiocy.

Maybe I should start a local chapter for AWIA, eh? :)

L-girl said...

One post at a time...

See you in the church basement.

Rebecca said...

wow, this has turned into quite the hotbed. My favorite is the "guessing you're a college kid" oh I got a good laugh from that one; don't know for sure, but I would definitely NOT take you as a college kid.

I get the impression that not everyone understands the root of the point you were trying to make.

redsock said...

No. Not a college kid.

Just about old enough to have raised a college kid, however. ... If I had been into that sort of thing.