I spent my Sunday afternoon watching the Astros and reading the


. Well, actually, the Astros game took much longer than it takes to read the


. While engaged in these activities, I came across Jesus Ortiz’s “

Baseball Notebook

” column.

The column’s really nothing but Ortiz’s standard the-Astros-are-really-great-the-whole-team’s-just-in-a-slump thing. But this little tidbit caught my eye when I was reading Ortiz discuss Lance Berkman’s slump: “He’ll be the community leader, preaching to young children about living the way the Good Lord wishes” when he breaks out of his slump.

Okay, excuse the sacrilege, but just what in the hell does God have to do with baseball? Doesn’t God have more important things with which to deal? Such as that idiot in the White House? Or reviving Mel Gibson’s career? Or getting the Astros to actually score some runs when they get about to loading the bases with one out?

But besides that, I really wonder about just what it is that God’s got to do with this story? What is His relevance? The Good Lord’s not mentioned elsewhere. The rest of the column is the standard rehashing of the 2005 Tombstone matter when the Chronicle declared the Astros dead. And by this statement, is Ortiz implying that Berkman’s abandoned God? Is he trying to tell me that Berkman’s in a slump because he’s taken to consorting with Satan (which is kind of strange since Roger Clemens isn’t on the team at the moment)? Is he saying that Berkman can’t be a community leader because he can’t buy a hit, or that Berkman’s not allowed to speak to children until he’s once again batting his weight? Or is he saying that the only way that one can live the way the Good Lord wishes is if one’s hitting over .300?

And, finally, what I want to know is just what is it with Ortiz’s fascination with Berkman’s spiritual life? This isn’t the first time Ortiz has written about what a great Christian that Berkman is. He doesn’t write about the spiritual life of any other Astro. I haven’t even seen him write anything about Drayton McLane’s Christianity. So, what is it? What is it about Berkman’s Christianity that so speaks to Ortiz?

And just what it is that makes Ortiz want to keep shoving this down my throat? -- John Royal

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