Dodger Blues

Baseball is the “national pastime,” the most integrating—and the most integrated—of all professional sports. Now it sees fit to attack members of the nation's largest religious group.

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We’ve already seen a few articles here in Crisis on the decision by the Los Angeles Dodgers to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during the team’s “Pride Night” game on June 16; yet there are some ironies that should not go unnoticed.  

If you don’t know, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whom the Dodgers describe as a “charity, performance, and protests group,” are men in drag who routinely and blatantly insult the Faith. They are vile and malicious; and, were their mark any other religion, they wouldn’t be allowed in a stadium, much less honored. (One comfort in this is that their attack is the Catholic Faith. When you’re receiving flack, you know you’re over the target.) 

And yet, one of the oldest and most storied teams in American professional sports deems it fit to praise them.  

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The first irony is that this is occurring in professional sports, which, until recently, was the great “safe space.” Sports teams brought together the most diverse segments of our culture. At any professional sporting event, you were likely to find a member of any niche in society: rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, Republican, Democrat, and, as far as anyone cared or knew, any letter of the sexual alphabet. 

The point was, when you were at a game, you didn’t care about those things; all you cared about was that you and the person next to you wanted to beat the other team. Your jersey was your flag. While events outside the arena did affect the contest (e.g., Jackie Robinson—about whom more later), we soon got over it if our team won. My liberal “woke” neighbor and I had a place where we could put our differences aside for a while. 

Not anymore. Now you can’t go to a game without having your woke credentials checked at the door. Whether it is the “Black National Anthem” sung at football games, or “Pride Jerseys” worn by players, you either shut up and go along or risk reprisal. It’s not about the team anymore, it’s about ideology. So much for community.     Now you can’t go to a game without having your woke credentials checked at the door. Whether it is the “Black National Anthem” sung at football games, or “Pride Jerseys” worn by players, you either shut up and go along or risk reprisal. Tweet This

Also, sports were and are one of America’s two major religions (the other being politics). Their evolution from a pastime to a major industry has happened partly because of our belief that they are something good. Rightly or wrongly, we believe and preach that they build character, discipline, teamwork, and other values. 

We call our teams “families” and are often more loyal to the disciplines of the sport than we are to the requirements of our various faiths. Schools, parents, and coaches tout the ideals of respect for the opponent and fair play. We justify spending exorbitant amounts of money and countless hours on sports with the idea that they are good for us and our kids.   

Today, it’s not about character or fairness or respect, it’s about the world view. You must agree that male and female are interchangeable, or that maleness and femaleness don’t really exist at all. You must bend the knee to the rainbow or not be allowed to play. Sure, your Catholic (or Jewish or Mormon or Muslim) school can play in our league, as long as you sign away your faith.   

There is the irony that this is occurring in baseball of all sports. Baseball was the “national pastime.” It was the most integrating—and is the most integrated—of all professional sports. Again, there is the figure of Jackie Robinson, whose breaking of the color barrier in baseball arguably did more for the acceptance of African Americans than any piece of legislation. 

Baseball also is the only major sport in which a player’s “integrity, sportsmanship, [and] character” must be considered before he can be inducted into its Hall of Fame. And while baseball has had its share of less than savory individuals, it has also had individuals of the greatest character, such as Christy Mathewson (who, as a devout Christian, would never pitch on Sunday), Lou Gehrig, Branch Rickey, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, and Cal Ripken. What would these men think of what the Dodgers are doing? 

Baseball has more tradition than the other major sports, changing less and remaining more steadfast in its adherence to “unwritten rules.” One of those rules is the “zero tolerance” shown to taunting. In football, if a receiver taunts a defensive back after having beat him for a touchdown, he gets a penalty. In baseball, if a hitter displays the least bit of cheekiness at an opposing pitcher after hitting a home run, you can bet the next hitter gets a 95-mile-an-hour fastball very much on the inside corner.   

And now the mockery is honored. Make no mistake: the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are known and exist only because they blaspheme the Faith. They could do their “charitable” work the way most charities do, with humility and kindness. They could “protest” the way many legitimate protesters do, with reason and respect. They could “perform” the way most performers do, with intelligence and talent. None of that, though, would give them the notoriety deviants often seek. If they were honest, they would at least call themselves the Sisters of Self Indulgence.     

It is also ironic that it is the Dodgers, of all baseball teams, that is lauding the mockery. The team was originally in Brooklyn, New York, the “melting pot of melting pots” in America and home to thousands of Catholic immigrants. Jackie Robinson is probably the most iconic figure in all sports, enduring mockery and hate to overcome bigotry. His number is the only number in any major sport that is retired for the entire sport. 

The other most famous Dodger is Sandy Koufax, a Jew, who stood up for his faith when he declined to pitch in the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it was played on Yom Kippur. Vin Scully, whose gentle voice and kind demeanor was the voice of the Dodgers (and perhaps of all baseball) for seventy years, was a devout Catholic. Does any member of the Dodger organization want to bet where these men would stand in the current discussion?  

Also, two current Dodger pitchers have given the most reasonable and forceful arguments against their team’s actions. Blake Treinen said the decision “disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith.” Clayton Kershaw’s disagreement was more subdued but perhaps better for it: “This is simply a group that was making fun of a religion; that I don’t agree with.” 

There’s the final irony. Isn’t “Pride” supposed to be about tolerance and respect? About compassion and dignity? About “celebrating differences”? Yet the Dodgers choose to pay tribute to a group that couldn’t be further from those values. Those who say, “hate has no home here,” are welcoming it. There are many whose views on the LGBTQ+ issues are antithetical to mine, but they are still decent enough to respect my views. Where are they in all this? It seems extremism and injustice have triumphed, and they’re wearing Dodger blue. 


  • Robert B. Greving

    Robert B. Greving teaches Latin and English grammar at a Maryland high school. Mr. Greving served five years in the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps following his graduation from the Dickinson School of Law.

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