God's Politics

Jim WallisGood triumphing over evil, David beating Goliath, Yoda and the rebels defeating the Empire and, as Dr. Martin Luther King used to say, “The arc of history bend[ing] toward justice.”

Of course, I am talking about the Detroit Tigers victory over the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs. With no malice intended toward my many good friends in NYC, I am from Detroit, and I know the battle between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, top and bottom when I see it.

Detroit hasn’t been to the baseball playoffs since 1987, had 12 straight losing seasons, and 119 losses (an American League record) just three years ago. On the other hand, the Yankees are the best team money can buy, with the league-leading payroll at 200 million dollars per year, and have won more championships than Rome conquered countries. One commentator said that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for the house in blackjack.

NOBODY picked Detroit to win, especially after folding at the end of the season and being forced to settle for the “wildcard” instead of a division championship. And I must confess, I didn’t pick my home team either and virtually counted them out after the dismal season ending. But I should listen to more of my own sermons on hope—“hope is believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change!”

Well, the evidence changed Saturday night because of tremendous Detroit pitching, out-hitting the most potent offensive machine in baseball, a very savvy veteran manager named Jim Leyland, and lots and lots of heart. In the battle of Detroit heart vs. George Steinbrenner’s wallet (the Yankee millionaire owner), the passion beat the money.

At one point, the game commentator said that Detroit is a city that everyone loves to beat up, and its own residents have an inferiority complex wider than the Detroit River that separates the city from Windsor, Canada. Nobody ever has anything good to say about Detroit. From the continued bad news on its economy, a crime rate that holds the city hostage to fear, and severe racial polarization, Detroit doesn’t make any of the lists of best places to live.

But a 41-year-old pitcher named Rogers defied those who thought he was washed up in one game, and a young kid named Bonderman pitched like a veteran All-Star in the final match-up to shut down the Bronx Bombers and shock the baseball world. And every underdog in the world took heart. Go Tigers!

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