As my girlfriend and I were cursing the Baseball Gods for indulging the St. Louis Cardinals and their latest improbable comeback Friday night versus the Washington Nationals, we hit upon a rather interesting question: does the St. Louis Cardinals’ (and by extension, the New York Yankees’) phenomenal on-field success over the years present a ‘problem of evil’ that challenges the very concept of the Baseball Gods, and whether they exist? It would appear on the surface that yes, it does, very much, indeed. If the Baseball Gods are omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (as they are rumored to be), yet there exists a gross lack of balance in baseball success over the years, the Baseball Gods do not, and cannot exist.
The Cardinals and Yankees have combined for 58 World Series appearances (18 for the Cardinals and 40 for the Yankees), and have combined for 38 World Series championships (11 for the Cardinals and 27 for the Yankees). In a world in which such gratuitous evil is the norm, the notion of Baseball Gods that are all-powerful, all-knowing and infinitely good is surely a fallacy. Baseball Gods that are infinitely good would certainly have used their all-encompassing power and intelligence to ensure a more varied and nuanced parade of World Series winners since the World Series was first held about 100 years ago. Grace and mercy are nowhere to be found.
This permission from the Baseball Gods for the Cards and Yanks to take far more than their fair share of World Series titles, not to mention division titles and playoff appearances, is inexcusable and inexplicable. If the Baseball Gods were infinitely good, teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals would have been in the playoffs a lot more often over the last quarter of a century and beyond. A world which allows the Cards and Yanks a disproportionate amount of success and glory is a Baseball-Godless world. That universe is cold and uncaring, without the love of a Baseball God or Gods. That world, our world, has a Baseball-God-shaped hole in it; that hole is empty, like the one in our hearts.
Some may argue the case that Baseball Gods are not part of a monotheistic infrastructure. Perhaps the term itself (Baseball Gods) implies a plurality. But even if the Baseball Gods are part of some pantheon of many deities, if even one of those deities has omniscience, omnibenevolence or omnipotence and could change things, the problem of evil applies and the documented history of the successes of the Cards and Yanks would pose strong argument that there are no Baseball Gods. Or do the Baseball Gods deny possessing such powers? If the Baseball Gods existed, certainly they would want to prevent evil, not support and encourage it. Yet baseball evil does exist, and therefore the Baseball Gods do not.
What’s that? Free will? Free will is the reason that baseball evil is permitted, prevalent in the world today and has spread over the American landscape like a plague for over a century? Is that right? The argument must be that there is some baseball evil in the universe so that the players on the field decide what occurs in the game, through their own individual choices and actions, therefore making it a sport in which the outcome is not predetermined. If that’s the case, no Baseball Gods are needed; humankind will sort it out on its own. The truth is clear: the Baseball Gods, if they exist, are minor gods, unable to prevent evil, even if they so desired. They may be as rash and impatient as human beings. No player or fan should ever fear their wrath again.