Please forgive my grief as I pause from politics and history to vent about my baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, losing the pennant to the San Francisco Giants. The National League Championship Series was a bitter disappointment, and here in St. Louis fans are irate over the dumb decisions made by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. This is not just the usual griping from fans sulking over a crushing defeat. Matheny is even being skewered by local sportswriters, as compliant and obsequious a bunch of ink-stained wretches as you’ll ever read. Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz went so far as to write that “Bruce Bochy (Giants manager) managed circles around Matheny.” That’s usually considered blasphemy in this red-all-over city. But now it merely reflects the citizenry’s palpable contempt. And there is just cause for anger. Matheny, whose only previous experience was managing Little League baseball (seriously), bumbled and gaffed his way through five agonizing games. Not one of his moves worked. And there is a reason for his incompetence. He’s a genuine Jesus-loving fanatic who lets his faith guide him in all decisions. This is not a good thing for a baseball manager (and probably not for most of the rest of us at the mercy of such know-it-alls in America today).
See, the problem is when you turn everything over to the Eternal White Man in the Sky, you make decisions which are sometimes unsound and irrational. And the problem with having a not-so-bright religious fanatic as your manager is that he believes fervently in things that are not real, and denies things which are real. When the things he believes do not come to pass, he writes it off as God’s will. Thus consigning all reason, logic, and human intelligence to the trash bin. We weren’t meant to win because the Almighty didn’t deign it so, doesn’t matter what bad decisions Matheny made. This is a dangerous philosophy to have when you’re a baseball manager, because Faith has nothing to do with solid baseball thinking. Faith prompts you to send out Randy Choate (a gruesomely awful relief pitcher) to face 3 Giants hitters with the game on the line; then do it again the very next night to prove the redemptive powers of the Almighty. Faith prompts you use a pitcher who hasn’t pitched in a month in the most crucial inning of the year. Faith prompts you take out pitching wizards John Lackey and Adam Wainwright too soon, and leave shaky Shelby Miller in too long. Faith prompts you to bat Matt Holliday (overpaid choke artist) third and Jhonny Peralta (overpaid choke artist) fourth without any evidence to support it. Faith prompts you to…oh hell, you get the idea. It’s all a morality play; baseball sabremetrics (scientific evidence) be damned.