World Series

Bill Buckner's faith makes a cameo appearance in coverage of 22-year major-leaguer's death

Bill Buckner's faith makes a cameo appearance in coverage of 22-year major-leaguer's death

Ouch!

When you die, imagine your obituary leading with your worst moment.

Enter Bill Buckner, the 22-year major-leaguer who succumbed Monday to a long battle with Lewy body dementia.

This was the opening paragraph from The Associated Press:

BOSTON — Bill Buckner, a star hitter who became known for making one of the most infamous plays in major league history, died Monday. He was 69.

Suffice it to say that the infamous play (as baseball fans know) was not a positive one.

Similarly, the Washington Post got right to the (unfortunate) point:

Former major league first baseman and outfielder Bill Buckner, who won a batting title with the Chicago Cubs in 1980 but was best remembered for the error he committed in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series while playing for the Boston Red Sox, died Monday at 69 after battling dementia.

And this was ESPN’s simple lede:

Bill Buckner, the longtime major leaguer whose error in the 1986 World Series for years lived in Red Sox infamy, died Monday. He was 69.

Is it fair that Buckner’s entire career is boiled down to one error in so many news reports? Nope, says Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who wrote:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Hey reporters: Seeking poignant Astros follow-up stories? Hang around for Sunday in Houston

Hey reporters: Seeking poignant Astros follow-up stories? Hang around for Sunday in Houston

Game seven of the World Series was played in Los Angeles.

But the real story was in Houston.

After a flood of biblical proportions, people in Houston finally got to celebrate -- as in big time, Texas-sized. This emotional explosion was, of course, linked to suffering and pain as much as it was to joy about a historic win.

Thus, I would like to make a suggestion to reporters who are looking for follow-up story angles with these Houston Astros.

The national media will cover the giant civic celebration and parade on Friday, in downtown. I expect spectacular images contrasting what the parade route looked like during the Hurricane Harvey flood with the same streets during the celebration. Look for the Astros to organize some kind of charity effort that takes the celebration into Houston's worst-hit neighborhoods. Cover all of that, please.

But then it would be wise to hang around for Sunday in the city that Christianity Today has called the "megachurch capital of America." Trust me, stuff will be happening.

Yes, few of these church celebrations will feature splashes of beer and champagne, but there will be lots of hooks linked to efforts by real Houstonians trying to get on with their lives.

In particular, according to a Christianity Today feature, reporters might want to seek out the Rev. Juan Jesus Alaniz, the Astros chaplain who works with the team's many Spanish-speaking players. He is the pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church’s Spanish campus.

CT noted that his ministry, with the team, includes "Venezuelans José Altuve and Marwin González; Puerto Ricans Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltrán, and Juan Centeno; Cuban Yuli Gurriel; and Dominican Francisco Liriano." Also note that Alaniz’s wife, Josie Ban-Alaniz, leads a ministry focusing on the players’ wives and girlfriends. The team's English-speaking chaplain is Kevin Edelbrock, of the parachurch group called Young Life. I'll add this question: Is there no local priest whose job includes ministry to Catholics on the team?

Will the players show up for church festivities? Who knows, but some of the most outspoken BELIEVERS on the team are also LEADERS on the team. Like who?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

How could The Los Angeles Times dodge faith in a story about Kershaw family, mission work?

How could The Los Angeles Times dodge faith in a story about Kershaw family, mission work?

I knew there was a reason I filed away that late-summer Los Angeles Times story about Ellen Kershaw, the wife of Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw. Watching him pitch in the first game of the World Series last night reminded me to pull this feature out of my GetReligion guilt folder.

This story contained a giant religion ghost that I just couldn't believe the Times team ignored, especially in light of the newspaper's coverage of Clayton Kershaw in the past. (See also this previous post by our own Bobby Ross, Jr.)

The headline on this story: "Ellen Kershaw, family life keep Dodgers' ace grounded during trials of season."

This is a story about family life, of course, but it also focuses on this couple's motivation to work with orphans and other needy children in Africa, America and other locations. There is a rather obvious subject looming over all of this -- which is Ellen and Clayton Kershaw's many public statements about the importance of their Christian faith.

How does one dodge this topic in a passage such as this, toward the end of this long story?

Clayton made his big league debut in 2008, and the couple married in 2010. Not long after, Clayton joined Ellen on a trip to Zambia, in East Africa, where she had previously traveled to work with orphans.
“It was always on her heart,” Clayton said, adding, “It wasn’t on my radar and I knew when I married her that it was going to involve me, so we went over there the first time three weeks after we got married. And it does. It changes you.”
Charity work, Ellen said, is the foundation of their marriage. “I would say even though it began with my passion, Clayton was the ringleader of putting something into action,” she said.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

MVP! Cubs' Ben Zobrist - 'a missionary in the big leagues' -- wins World Series again

MVP! Cubs' Ben Zobrist - 'a missionary in the big leagues' -- wins World Series again

A holy ghost in the story of Ben Zobrist, the Chicago Cubs' World Series MVP?

You bet!

On Twitter last night (or was it early this morning?), CNN Religion Editor Daniel Burke offered insight on the Cubs' righteous dude:

Ben Zobrist almost followed his father into the ministry but decided to try out for some @Mlb scouts.
How's that for a curse-breaker?

Of course, Zobrist's devoted Christian background is not news to faithful GetReligion readers or — presumably — Kansas City Royals fans.

We wrote about this last year when Zobrist helped lead another team to baseball's Promised Land.

A year later, the Kansas City Star's terrific piece on Zobrist the baseball player — and the man of faith — still makes for great reading. 

Some of the crucial background from that story:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Curse of the Cubs: Does Chicago really have a prayer of winning the World Series?

Curse of the Cubs: Does Chicago really have a prayer of winning the World Series?

The church of baseball is back in the news.

In a city all-too-familiar with a certain curse, the Chicago Tribune explores how baseball and religion often overlap for long-suffering Cubs' fans:

When the Cubs' Starlin Castro cracked a home run in Game 3 of last year's divisional playoff series against the Cardinals, Affan Arain was praying.
Arain, who is Muslim, had excused himself from his seat and found an out-of-the-way spot in the Wrigley Field concourse for his daily evening ritual. The crowd's roar provided an unmistakable soundtrack, and he knew instantly the Cubs had scored.
"In the midst of that prayer," Arain said, "I prayed there would be many others."
The Cubs went on to hit six home runs that night, a postseason record.
For Arain, like many Cubs fans of all religious persuasions, baseball and faith are inseparable. While prayers are the most visible sign of this connection — queue the close-up camera shot of a fretting fan in the stands, fingers interlocked and head bowed — the spiritual connection between loyal fans and their team often runs deeper, emerging in more subtle expressions of devotion.
"Perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness, long-suffering — those are the things that we talk about in our lives, and those are the things that we need when we cheer for the Cubs," said Sister Ann Terese Reznicek, a nun of the Congregation of St. Joseph and a Cubs fan.

Keep reading, and the Tribune quotes John Sexton, author of the book "Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game."

Additional Cubs fans quoted include both regular folks and academics, such as a religious studies professor who is the son of a Baptist minister.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Wait! Donald Trump isn't the anointed leader of the Religious Right after all?

Wait! Donald Trump isn't the anointed leader of the Religious Right after all?

OK, is everyone ready for tonight's next big contest linked to good and evil and the religion beat?

No, I am not talking about game two in the World Series, although as a new semi-New Yorker (living in the city two months out of the year, including some prime baseball weeks) I will be cheering for a comeback by the team that I totally prefer to the Yankees. And when it comes to baseball and God, as opposed to the baseball gods, you still need to check out Bobby's post on that missionary named Ben Zobrist.

No, I am talking about the latest gathering of GOP candidates for the White House, which is always good for a religion ghost or two or maybe a dozen.

Right now, the mainstream media has its magnifying glasses out to dissect the theological and cultural views of the still mysterious Dr. Ben Carson, which was the subject of my GetReligion post this morning ("A complicated trinity in the news: Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Ellen G. White").

This is a very interesting development, in part because -- when it comes to press coverage of moral conservatives -- it represents such a snap-the-neck turnaround from the gospel according to the pundits that was in fashion just a few weeks ago.

What has changed? Check out this material at the top of this New York Times pre-debate poll story!

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Faith of Kansas City Royals' Ben Zobrist: 'a missionary in the big leagues'

Faith of Kansas City Royals' Ben Zobrist: 'a missionary in the big leagues'

I first became aware of major-leaguer Ben Zobrist's Christian faith when I watched the movie "Ring the Bell" on Netflix a while back.

It's one of those cheesy, relatively predictable faith-based films that I enjoy (much to the chagrin of my wife, Tamie, who cringes at the less-than-Oscar-worthy dialogue and storyline).

In this case, a high-powered sports agent finds God and redemption while attempting to sign a top prospect in a small town. Zobrist, a two-time All-Star, appears as himself in the movie, along with retired major-leaguers John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe.

Zobrist and his wife, Julianna, a Christian singer, also wrote a 2014 book, "Double Play:  Faith and Family First."

In tonight's opening game of the World Series, the super-utility-man is playing second base and batting second for the American League champion Kansas City Royals.

As part of its postseason coverage, a Kansas City Star writer traveled to Eureka, Ill., and interviewed Zobrist's parents:

Please respect our Commenting Policy