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Play Ball?

For the tortured club of Red Sox fans, a final match-up against the Bronx hegemon begets theological questions

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Shawn Green‘s decision to play against the Giants during Kol Nidre, but not the following day, is a dual concession. His faith gets one day; the Dodgers another. It seems an equitable compromise to me, but, to be honest, I’m not Orthodox and am indifferent to the Dodgers fate. (Please spare me invocation of glory days at Ebbets Field.) Still, if the Dodgers are ultimately defeated, will it be divine judgment for Green’s part-time atonement?

The news sparks a critical question: What would Gabe do? Apparently nothing. A Red Sox spokesperson told me that Kapler, Boston’s “go-to-guy” for things Jewish, has not made any public mention of whether he’ll strive to avoid a fatal decree (fire, plague, strangling) this coming year or simply strive for a homer in their weekend showdown with the Yankees. (Please God, at least one with bases loaded, if you don’t mind, and I promise to respect my elders more often.)

For the tortured club of Red Sox fans, of which I am longtime and proud member, a final match-up against the Bronx hegemon begets theological questions. Does God exist? If so, how can he let one team suffer so much? How can he allow Yankees fans to languish in smug ignorance of the humility and compassion that loss bestows? Is he so merciless?

More importantly: Does God have a favorite team? I’d suspect it’s mine. Not because of the obvious: if I’m made in God’s image, he’s for Boston. But the Red Sox’s struggle to unshackle themselves from the chains of defeat is a perennial attempt at redemption that echoes the personal run-up to Yom Kippur. (No prose, mind you, is too florid for this eternal contest.) As much as we try to be good, as they try to win, our transgressions (I have wished ill, I confess, on Derek Jeter and his obdurate patron) betray us—and the holiday allows an opportunity for a fresh go-round. This pennant gives fans yet again hopes for twin inscriptions—in the book of life, but no less critically, in Cooperstown.

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Play Ball?

For the tortured club of Red Sox fans, a final match-up against the Bronx hegemon begets theological questions

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