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It's not every day you see the Colorado Rockies on the front page of USA Today. The Rockies last reached the playoffs in 1995—their first and only postseason appearance. Actually, they're not even that great this year. After losing Tuesday night, the Rockies dropped to 27-25. Not bad, but not exactly above-the-fold material.

But the Rockies didn't make the front page of America's most-read newspaper for their on-field success. Apparently Colorado's favorite baseball team has a new strategy for winning—signing and developing high-character Christian players. Now that's a front-page story.

Rockies officials insist they don't only sign Christian players. But team CEO Charlie Monfort did say that Christians closely match their standards for behavior. USA Today reported that the Rockies clubhouse shows no hint of the pornography and obscene music common among other ballclubs. The club hopes to avoid the embarrassment they endured in 2004, when pitcher Denny Neagle was charged with soliciting a prostitute. Rockies executives prefer the team to be known for players such as Todd Helton, a mainstay at first base, and Matt Holliday, a promising young outfielder, both of whom regularly attend chapel and Bible studies.

The team seems to owe its emphasis on character to at least two factors. One, the Rockies were once the toast of Denver, selling out all their games at beautiful Coors Field. But years of losing grated on fans, and many stopped coming. The team appeared to have little idea how to manage high-scoring games altered by the thin mountain air. Now the Rockies hope high-character players will build team unity, improve effort, and lead to more wins. Plus, it can't hurt among Colorado's sizable evangelical community to ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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June 2006

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