[Originally published April 7, 2005.]

- - -

In the big inning, God created Heaven on Earth. And it was without form, and void. God separated the dirt from the grass. He called the grass Outfield and the dirt He called Infield. God made the Infield a 90-foot square and the Outfield not less than 400 feet to center and 320 feet down the lines. He declared this Fair Territory. All other territory, God then declared, was Foul.

And God divided the players into two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, to play The Game on His field. God called some of these players Pitchers and some of them Hitters. He placed a Pitcher precisely 60 feet 6 inches from a Hitter. Then God commanded that it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol’ Ballgame.

And God granted jurisdiction of The Game to lesser Gods, whom He called Umpires. God said the Umpires are infallible, blessed with Heavenly authority, whose judgment is not to be questioned under penalty of expulsion from The Game. And God looked at his creation and He was pleased. Then God created the Infield Fly Rule to confuse nonbelievers.

And God said, Let there be light beer, and there was. And, God said, let there be peanuts and hot dogs and overpriced souvenirs and let there be frosty chocolate malts with little wooden spoons that you can buy nowhere else except at this Heaven, which God called a Ballpark, and there was. God looked at His creation and it was good.

And the Lord God formed, from the dust, a collection of elite players in His own image. The Lord God then breathed the breath of life into His creation. God called this creation the National League.

And God said, It is not good for the National League to be alone. The Lord God shall make it a mate. And thus, while the National League slept, God took several of its top players and created the American League.

And God blessed The Game, saying, Be fruitful and multiply. Put teams in every city with deserving fans, God added, even if this occurs at the expense of starting-pitching depth.

From time to time, God understood, The Game would be corrupted by the Serpent. The Serpent was more cunning than any other beast and he would take many wicked forms: the Black Sox, segregation, the Designated Hitter, the Reserve Clause, dead balls, juiced balls, spit balls, corked bats, George Steinbrenner, AstroTurf, the 1981 strike, collusion, lockouts, Pete Rose, the 1994 strike, greenies, cocaine, HGH, Andro, steroids, $20 parking, corporate mallparks, Scott Boras, Donald Fehr, and Bud Selig.

But, God said, the goodness in The Game shall always prevail. As needed, the Lord shall bestow upon The Game a Savior. And the Savior, like the Serpent, can take many forms. The Savior shall remind Fans how blessed The Game truly is. The Savior shall be called by many names, including Cy, Matty, Honus, Big Train, the Babe, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lou Gehrig, Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, Hank Greenberg, Red Barber, Harry Carey, Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Satchel Paige, Bill Veeck, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Hammerin’ Hank, Cool Papa, Dizzy, Lefty, Whitey, Stan the Man, Big Klu, the Say Hey Kid, Campy, Duke, the Mick, the Splendid Splinter, the Gas House Gang, the Big Red Machine, the Damn Yankees, Pudge Fisk, Pudge Rodriguez, Yaz, Pops, the Wizard of Oz, Fernando, George Brett, Moonlight Graham, Roy Hobbs, Wild Thing Vaughn, Bingo Long, the Ryan Express, Donnie Baseball, Rickey, Eck, the Big Unit, the Cactus League, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Camden Yards, Rotisserie Drafts, Web Gems, Derek Jeter, Dontrelle Willis, Vlad Guerrero, and, from the Far East, Ichiro. And, God guaranteed, there are many more to come.

God looked upon His creation and He was very pleased. And God spoke, yelling, PLAY BALL!