Another Theological Lesson from the Sports Pages

Those of us who are Red Sox fans are used to talking about the Sox from a theological perspective. For 86 years, it  seemed like we were subject to the Calvinist views of “predestination”, never reaching the pinnacle for some odd reason or another. Then, all of that disappeared in 2004 when a world series championship made us all believe again in the possibilities for redemption. 2007’s World Series victory made that point even clearer. All good things come to those who wait and have faith.

The past few years have been difficult ones and many people have asked me whether seeing the Red Sox so disappointing, getting into big money bidding wars with the Yankees and other teams, losing their “old towne team” image, watching overpaid ballplayers falter in the clutch and failing to make the playoffs made the two world championships seem not to be worth it. My answer was always the same: They absolutely were worth it and if the Red Sox never won another playoff game, I would be satisfied.

That was honest. But, at the same time, it has been hard to watch them over the past couple of years and this year, I found myself shaking my head with disgust as clubhouse dissension, lack of hustle and everything else disgusted all of us Sox fans.
Then yesterday, the Red Sox shocked the baseball world by engineering the biggest “salary dump” in major league history trading three of their highest paid players largely for young prospects. Ben Cherrington the general manager said: “we needed to do more than a cosmetic change”. Suddenly, Red Sox fans are energized again. Maybe the team won’t win and no question they will miss these great players but the games will be fun, the team will be young and exciting and who knows, maybe they’ll win some more ball games.

Cherrington said something to the effect of the Red Sox needed to get back to who they really were. That is the perfect definition of teshuva, repentance, so important at this time of the year. My team has said; “the way we’re going isn’t the right way and dared to make a drastic change”. That is teshuva.

Now, the only question is: how will they use the money they have saved? Will they make better decisions or, like most of us do, after the holidays are over, fall back to the same old routine?

Will this change be permanent? We can only hope. For them…and for ourselves.

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