OLDIE POST: “Bob, you’ve been traded to Archdiocese of Red Bird.”

NOTA BENE: I originally posted this back in 2012.

I ran across this by chance looking for something else. It struck me as opportune, given what is going on in some places… the lot of some tradition-leaning priests.   It’s a bit ironic that, in 2012, the cleats were perhaps on the other foot.

I have watched Moneyball a couple times.

The movie offers grist for our mill.

In one scene Carlos Peña is curtly traded by the A’s to the Tigers because of internal team management (vision) conflicts.

Priests are mostly treated like indentured servants.  The “Dallas” thing made this worse.  The lack of charity and justice with with many priests have been treated should fill many with concern and anger.

Leaving aside – without question – all cases of priests who commit crimes, could a baseball model work better?

After all, this isn’t a game we are playing!

In Moneyball, the main characters want to get the stats down to one number. The overriding task of the Church is to get as many people as possible to heaven (i.e., keep them out of hell).


A scene at the chancery of the Diocese of Black Duck:

“Hey Bob, do you have a moment?  Have a seat…..

[Father “Just Call Me Bob” Liberal sits down in Msgr. Manager’s office.]

“Father Bob, you’ve been traded to the Archdiocese of Red Bird.  Here is the number for Msgr. Rossi’s office.  He is their Manager and he is expecting your call.  Good luck and God bless you, Father!”

Later, in Red Bird, Msgr. Rossi receives Father’s call:

“Bob!  I’ve been expecting your call.  Welcome to the Archdiocese of Red Bird!  We believe with the Cardinal Archbishop, Bob, that you’ll be a fine fit with our diocese’s “Spirit of Vatican II vision”. His Eminence wanted me to tell you that you will be a great asset here as chaplain to the Aging Post Catholic Lesbian Sisters Who Evolved Out Of Perpetual Adoration Of Jesus In The Poor-Oppressing Bejeweled Monstrance.  Check your email for your airline ticket.  We have already contacted a moving company for you, Bob.  Your condo is ready. See you soon!”

And so, the small market Black Ducks, who because of a shift to a more traditional Catholic vision has been ordaining 6 men a year – good farm teams in parishes and from elsewhere – send the 55-year old liberal “Bob” to the big market Red Birds – who ordained 1  and where his liberal vision is still the norm.  In exchange, the Black Ducks receive 2 younger priests. Their love of the older liturgical forms made them sub-optimal for the Red Birds. The Black Ducks also picked up a priest-canonist who had to refused to rubber stamp annulments at the Red Bird Tribunal.

Baseball is the game God loves the most.

Is it analogous to how the Church is might be governed?

I dunno. Maybe.  Maybe I am just venting even as I throw out some ideas for discussion.

Consider: Isn’t this how bishops are handled these days?

In the ancient Church, moving a bishop from a diocese (to which they had been wedded) to another diocese was considered adultery.  That model has, it seems, changed.

Obligatory membership in territorial parishes is all but over. Law will eventually reflect this change (unless the global economy collapses first and people can’t just drive around anymore).

Incardination is less than the vinculum particolare that the Council Father’s idealized.  The assignment of priests to parishes is limited to 6 years with a possible renewal.  What’s with that?  Can a priest really do anything in a parish in that time?  I think not.

Everyone is on the move.  If lay people have multiple careers, well….

Since dioceses and parishes are so heterogeneous these days, well….

There are lessons to be learned from the scenario in Moneyball.

Given our challenges right now, we have to think outside the box.

First, let’s accept that our entire Church is “an island of misfit toys”.  Nevertheless, some toys can fit better in, and be happier in, another “fit”.  Then “market forces” can take over… okay… call it divine providence.

We have to depend on Our Lord’s promises to the Church.  Christ didn’t promise that the Church would prevail against Hell in the Diocese of Black Duck, but we know that He uses us for His plan and purposes.  We must use our gifts and work out in prayer and in the tangle of our minds and with the help of grace and from history to discern His will.

As times change, the basics remain the same.

We must, however, change our approaches at the times require.


“Father, have a seat…”

Yes? No?

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  1. adriennep says:

    Yes, but they keep micro-accurate stats on every player. Imagine if all the clergy had stats based upon the CCC. If they had checked the stats on Father Altman, they’d be begging him to stay in La Crosse right now.

  2. colospgs says:

    I believe that baseball is the game God loves the most. But calling the liberal diocese “Red Bird” is a bad analogy, since the team God loves the most is the STL Cardinals, aka Redbirds. You know, Stan Musial and all.

  3. L. says:

    From what I’ve seen in my unfortunate diocese is that petty vendettas matter most and the needs of the parishioners matter least, so that a solid, faithful Priest who works hard, does not suffer from same-sex attraction, and speaks out against things like abortion and sexual relations outside of authentic marriage would never be traded to a more faithful diocese because that would be giving the faithful Priest exactly what he wants. They’d rather put him in a poor, difficult, undesirable parish in the middle of nowhere to teach him a lesson.

  4. Chrisc says:

    Adriennep, but in baseball the teams are almost always trying to win.

  5. Simon_GNR says:

    “Baseball is the game God loves the most.”

    Nonsense! God is an Englishman and therefore the game he loves most is cricket!!

  6. twoadaydanny says:

    If I were a ball player, what I’d most want to be is a free agent. Those guys have the freedom to choose to play for a winning team rather than a losing one. They can choose to play for a club where their talents will be appropriately utilized and recognized.

  7. ex seaxe says:

    I recall my then Archbishop, Michael Bowen, saying that being translated from Arundel to Southwark felt like compulsory divorce.

  8. Irenaeus says:

    “unless the global economy collapses first and people can’t just drive around anymore”


  9. TWF says:

    Bishops being moved from see to see…”promoted” to bigger dioceses / archdioceses…. it does strike me as the “careerism” Pope Francis has condemned. To my mind, it also reeks of ultramontanism. The Pope shifting bishops around like they’re middle managers of a corporation? It just doesn’t feel right to me. A bishop is the groom, the diocese / local Church is the bride…

  10. JonPatrick says:

    Simon_GNR I like to think of Baseball and Cricket being like the Latin and Eastern Rite different ways of doing things but both pleasing to God when done properly. Note that both are worldwide sports now Cricket no longer being peculiar to England as one notes in the tremendous following in India, Australia, West Indies etc.

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