Faith Affirmed

Last October, while I was in California on vacation, I was going through a crisis of faith, as many believers occasionally do. Maybe it was all that time I spent debating the atheists, but for whatever reason, I began to question my own beliefs. And so, on a chilly October night, while I was standing on a beach contemplating the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean,  I prayed, like many millions of believers before me. I asked God to give me a sign, a small sign, any sign at all, that He exists.

A few nights later, the Red Sox rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the American League Championship series to beat the Cleveland Indians, and went on to steamroll the Colorodo Rockies and win their second World Series in four years. Later, the New England Patriots ran off a perfect, first-in-history, 16-0 perfect season. Two Red Sox rookie pitchers have thrown no-hitters, one in just his second major league start, and another after battling back from cancer. And last night, after 22 years in the wilderness, the Boston Celtics won their 17th NBA Championship.

God is not only going out of his way to show me He exists, but He is clearly revealing himself to be a big Boston fan.

“But wait a minute”, you object, “the Patriots LOST the Super Bowl, remember? Where was your God then?”

Like all men of faith, I never let an inconvenient fact get in the way of my dearly held beliefs. To my mind, the fact that they lost simply validates the theology of Manichaeism.

“Hold on, not so fast”, you say. “What about the Bruins? They haven’t won anything in years! What’s your God doing for them?”

Oh, that’s easy, I scoff, secure in my faith: God, like all sentient beings with an IQ higher than the room temperature, doesn’t give a shit about hockey.

Finally you trot out your last, and seemingly most devastating argument: “Surely Lakers fans were praying for their team. Wasn’t God listening to them?”

The True Believer will already know the answer to this question:



Ok, moving off this rather dubious metaphysical plane, I realize it may be difficult for some to realize just how big this is for the Boston sports fan. Bostonians, in all frankness, have suffered from a collective inferiority complex for a long, long time. The Patriots (or as they were formerly known, the Patsies) were, for years, the doormats of the NFL.

The Red Sox were like that girl in college who teased the hell out of you, but always ultimately left you high and dry. The Sox always played second fiddle to the New York Yankees. New York got Joe DiMaggio, Boston got Dom DiMaggio. New York got Babe Ruth. Boston got “No, No, Nanette”. The Yankees won 26 World Series. The Red Sox won two pennants.

And on top of all that, New York and L. A. are just bigger, glitzier, and occupy a more prominent place on the world stage. The really, really rich and famous don’t live in Boston. They live in New York or L. A.

But the one thing we Bostonians always had was the Celtics. “Celtics Pride” translated into Boston Pride. They perennially gave us a reason to hold our heads up. In 13 seasons between 1957 and 1969, the Celtics won the NBA Championship an astounding 11 times, including a mind boggling 8 consecutive championships between 1959 and 1966. They beat the Lakers in the finals seven times (eight, if you count the 1959 finals when the Lakers were still in Minneapolis). It was an unparalleled record of success that even the Yankees couldn’t match. No matter how bad the Patsies were, no matter how many times the Red Sox disappointed us, no matter how out of control our collective inferiority complex got, we always had the Celtics.

The Celtics remained a force to be reckoned with and a source of regional pride throughout the ’70’s and ’80’s, winning four more championships, including one more over the Lakers. But after their 1986 Championship over the Houston Rockets, the famous Celtics “luck of the Irish” began to run out.

The first ominous sign that the Leprechaun had deserted them was the unexpected death of their first round draft pick, Len Bias. Touted as the successor to Larry Bird, he died of a cocaine induced heart attack, ironically while at a party celebrating his being drafted by the Celtics.

A few years later, in July of 1993, Reggie Lewis, another rising young star, died of a heart attack brought on by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 27.

What followed from then on were years in which the Celtics occasionally enjoyed periods of mediocrity, but more often just plain stunk. The glory years of the past seemed like the stuff of mythology. The Celtics were just one more basketball team, nothing special.

But today, that’s all changed. Boston is now home to arguably the best baseball, football, and basketball teams in the world. Boston is second best to no one. Sometimes God does answer prayers.

Sometimes He even says “yes”.


11 Responses to “Faith Affirmed”

  1. June 19, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Hm, or maybe the Garnett, Pierce, Allen trio was just too big for God to ignore?

    Lends new meaning the “Holy Trinity”. 😉

    At the moment being either a Toronto or Swiss Sports fan isn’t a a big party (except for driving expensive cars around a race track but then that isn’t really a sport). Thought of you Bostonians after kicking the Lakers home, remembering the beginning of the season where I wrote to a friend of yours ‘you might be good at baseball but wait until we show you how it’s done in basketball’.


    Well, I’m woman enough to recognize a great and deserving warrior. And Boston is. Congrats.

    Thank you!

  2. June 19, 2008 at 8:25 am

    God, like all sentient beings with an IQ higher than the room temperature, doesn’t give a shit about hockey.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. (nothing against Bruins fans)

    “Surely Lakers fans were praying for their team. Wasn’t God listening to them?”

    The True Believer will already know the answer to this question:


    Even He thinks Bryant is a pompous douchebag.
    I’m assuming you’ll be going to the parade today? :mrgreen:


    Gee, missed the parade. Rumor has it you enjoyed it enough for the two of us. 😈

  3. June 19, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Now I wonder how the Cowboys will do in their new stadium which will not have the hole in the roof so God can watch his team play. But they will have a sliding roof, so that he can watch them in good weather.

    Doesn’t matter. God hates the Cowboys, too. God only loves Boston. Weren’t you listening? 😈

  4. June 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Praying for the Celtics to win a basketball game is blasphemous and ranks right up there with praying for a plague of locust to infest my ex’s bed. (God didn’t grant that one either, in case you are wondering.)

    It is not that I am a non-believer; I just doubt who or what might have granted your request.

    You may not be aware that this post was partly meant as a parody of a post (and more specifically, the comment thread) that I wrote several months ago. If you’re interested, you can read it here:


    Perhaps I am bitter, not so much at the Celtics, but the New England area in general. Is it really necessary to hog up the wins? Have you no heart? Maybe there is a God after all, and he is merely testing my strengths during this apparent sporting world drought.

    You would understand if you lived around here. Boston sports teams have been also-rans for so long, this is like water to the man in the desert.

    Congrats to you and your funky green team. 😉

    Thank you!

  5. June 19, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Hoorah!!!! Yea Celtics!! Even I watched the game. My wasband is one of the larger sports card and memorabilia dealers in New England. He’s happy because some of his Celtic stuff will go up in value. I do prefer baseball than basketball but it’s great to see our teams doing so well.

    Hey, Joan! Thanks for stopping by! I, too, am more of a baseball fan, but it was nice to see the Celtics eviscerate the hated Lakers.

  6. June 20, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Great line by Jay Leno:

    “150 million people watched the Celtics beat the Lakers. Well, 150 million and twelve if you count the Lakers themselves.”


  7. June 20, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Well, God give us what we need all in good time. He heard your need, and that is good.

    Hello again! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. 8 Lolly
    June 20, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Well, the dubious metaphysical plane was really funny! I had been waiting for your take on the Celtics – had about decided you just weren’t a BBall fan. I’m not. But it was fun because I knew a couple of guys in Boston who were enjoying it. Then the last few days my computer has been kaputz, so it’s taken me awhile to read this.
    Enjoy it while you can…
    …turn, turn, turn. (I heard that song the other day and thought, “Hey, I know who sings that!”)

    I like how you address two posts with one comment. 😉 I’m not a real basketball fan either, but still, it’s nice to the the homies doing well! Thanks for stopping by, Lolly.

  9. 9 Sam
    June 21, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Oh Smithy, congratulations you found God. And even more congratulations you found out He was a Boston fan. A happy day to be sure.

    It was indeed!

  10. June 23, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Smith? Smith? Smith!!!!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m here. Hey, leggo my arm! 😉

  11. June 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    hmmm, so you respond to yelling…

    I do, but not well

    I’ll have to remember that. 🙂

    At your peril

    sps 😉

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