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Chalk up another one for the Great Almighty. Ryan Vogelsong, he of the two NLCS victories, voiced the not infrequent invocation after Sunday evening's mastery over the Cardinals in the post-game interview with Erin Andrews.
"You've been comfortable on the mound through this entire NLCS. What's been key?" asked Erin.
"I just believe, I believe that God had a plan for me," answered the Giants' talented righthander, "and all the hard work and all the travels to Japan and winter ball, He would set me up for this moment. And I just believe it's my time and He's with me, and He's doing good things for me right now."
So Andrews follows up by talking about how the Giants "feed off each other," then inquiring about Barry Zito's huge series-extending effort in Game 5.
Never, ever can I recall a reporter following up with something like, "Well, Ryan, I appreciate your faith and spiritual beliefs, but why would God favor you over the poor Cardinals?"
Let's take it from there.
"It's not that God favors me," replies Vogelsong. "It's simply that I gain strength and confidence from my faith."
"I suppose that's a whole lot better than using PED's," replies Andrews, "but God is a busy guy. There are people in pain, at war, starving, and enslaved in our world. Why would He even care about the NLCS?"
"You're missing the point, Erin. God cares about everyone, believers and non-believers."
"In all due respect, Ryan, that is my point. If God cares about all people everywhere, are you saying that he cares more about you than all those Cardinals you've been striking out?
"In fact, I was thinking just the opposite," Erin continues. "Carlos Beltran pulls up lame in Game 3, and his replacement, Matt Carpenter, hits a two-run dinger which turns out to be the game-winner. Shoot, the guy never even thought he'd get into the game. And how about the rain and the three-hour delay? Surely that didn't help you and your teammates. I'm not the only one who was thinking that maybe Divine Intervention was in the Cards' corner."
"He's a people fan," responds Vogelsong, who at age 35 has finally made it in the big leagues after arm problems and foundering for years in the Pirate organization. "Any athlete of faith can derive strength from their beliefs."
"Nevertheless, you're putting undue pressure on the Lord," counters Andrews. "The Cardinals are a devout bunch. They even have Christian Day at the Ballpark every year. Religion is important to them. So if they have runners on base, and you're facing, say, Matt Holliday, and you claim that God is doing good things for you, he'd have to be doing fewer good things for Holliday if you're going to blow strike three past him. Is God making a choice?"
"Look, Erin, it doesn't work that way. Like me, Matt's faith gives him strength and confidence the same way it does for me and others. I'm facing him using my talents, and he's using his. God favors both of us."
"Sounds like He's playing both sides. But let me ask you, where was God in 2004 when you went 6-13 with the Pirates?"
"You would have to bring that up," groans Vogelsong. "No, that wasn't about faith although you can always learn ways to become more devout. That was simply God testing me to see how much perseverance I have. I wasn't a successful pitcher until last season, and I went five years between major league appearances. I had to work extremely hard to get where I am. But, like I said at the beginning of this interview, God had a plan for me."
"Maybe you're not giving yourself enough credit, Ryan. You're the only one who put in the hard work, the rehab after surgery, the will to be a major league pitcher. While you were doing all that, God was busy trying to save people in the Sudan. You were on your own."
"But I never questioned whether He was with me. If I never got back to the big leagues, despite all the work, He would have chosen a different path for me."
"I'm getting confused," says Andrews, shaking her head. "You're talking about all of the hard work, and at the same time, it seems to me, you're talking about fate. Like the roadmap has already been created, and you're being led along according to a plan that comes from someplace else. All I know is that I wanted to become a sports commentator, and that's been my focus all these years. I worked hard, too. But I - and no one else - made this happen."
"Your good looks haven't hurt you, and where do you think those came from?" counters Vogelsong. "No, whether you're religious or not, God has a plan for all of us."
"You're making this sound as though if the guy facing you in the batter's box doesn't share a similar faith, he still has a chance to bust one off the wall. I tend to think that one's beliefs have nothing to do with any of this. Your fastball and command of the strike zone are what counts. Talent tends to rise to the top, and right now you're the top talent.
"By the way, Mr. October, God must be working 24/7 now what with the football season in full swing, and the NBA about to kick off. At least the hockey players are giving him a break. You have any idea whether He follows NASCAR?"
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