Tim Noonan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

'Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been, uhm, well it's been so damn long since my last confession and these are my sins.'

'How long son?'

'Like I said, very, very long Father.'

'You can't remember your last confession so I must ask, has your faith lapsed?'

'You want to ask me about my faith? All right, listen Father, coming clean in front of you and God is never an easy proposition, particularly considering how long it's been.'

'Son, my time is limited here.'

'So is mine, Father, and with all due respect you're not exactly doing a union job and God is not a lawyer, he doesn't charge by the hour. I know how things work around here. I spent years as an altar boy at Holy Rosary Church in Thorold, Ontario, and went to Catholic schools forever and while I've been knocked around pretty good lately, I never once complained to you or your boss on high. Now the mere fact that I came to talk to both of you at a moment like this should tell you that I am indeed a man of faith. So are we on the same page here, Father?'

'Please, continue.'

'Father, I know that you and your boss believe in and espouse the virtues of divine intervention. It's an occupational imperative. And with divine intervention comes the illogical whims of passion. Following a certain sports team is all about passion and if you are a true fan you don't choose a team, the team choose you.

'When I grew up my two favourite sports to watch were hockey and baseball and the family hockey team flat out were the Montreal Canadiens. All the Canadiens did was win virtually every year to the tune of 24 Stanley Cups so there was great hockey joy in the household for everybody. Everybody, that is, except my brother and me. Somehow your boss managed to wire us differently and despite being only a few years out of diapers, the first time we saw Bobby Hull, The Golden Jet, skating for the Chicago Blackhawks we were hooked. Even though Chicago was close to 600 miles away and in another country, he was the most charismatic performer my young eyes had ever seen and a bond for life was set.

'It was the same thing with baseball. I have an Italian uncle who was a New York Yankees fan because of Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper. My uncle tried but he couldn't interest me in the Yankees and although Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid, was at the tail end of his legendary career, the sight of him patrolling centrefield for the San Francisco Giants was every bit as mesmerising as Bobby Hull in full flight. Now San Francisco is almost 3,000 miles away from where I grew up and was much more renowned for the counter-culture generation it spawned than the baseball team who played there so this made even less sense to the people around me and for years my uncle would laugh long and loud at me. He told me I only supported losers and he was right. Despite having some of the greatest players in the history of their respective games, neither the Blackhawks nor the Giants could win the big one. You still with me, Father?'

'Do I have a choice?'

'No you don't because if God is going to take credit for being the ultimate creator, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end of creation, then he has to take credit for making me a Blackhawks and a Giants fan. Still, when the calendar changed from 2009 to 2010 this year I could not help thinking, you know, it's been like 49 years since the Blackhawks won it all and 56 years since the Giants did. Really, neither have won in my lifetime. Is it too indulgent of me to ask your boss when will I get to taste some sporting champagne? After all, I've been a loyal fan, I've invested my passion year in and year out and have never been tempted to desert my teams. Why, I'm not entirely sure. But then the most remarkable thing happened this year, Father. First the Blackhawks, with an extremely exciting and likeable team, managed to win the Stanley Cup. And then a few days ago in a most unlikely and remarkable manner, the Giants, truly a collection of misfits and castoffs blessed with a talented young pitching staff, did the unthinkable and won the World Series.'

'So is this going to be one of those, 'Now I can die in peace moments?''

'Actually Father, it's just the opposite. Now I can live in peace. I finally know what it's like to have my favourite team win it all. I think of all those people who support the Canadiens and the Yankees. They are soulless and vapid, cursed with a delusional sense of entitlement and bereft of any deep and abiding sporting joy. It's not their fault entirely, that's how your boss wired them. But me, I came here to thank the man for making me suffer and making me whole as human being. It was invaluable.'

'But this is where you come to confess your sins, not to give thanks.'

'Right but you probably know by now, Father, that as inherently good and virtuous as I am, I don't always play by the rules. So let me thank your boss one last time.'

'For what?'

'For not making me a Chicago Cubs fan. It's been over 100 years since they won a World Series. I've suffered enough for the last 50 years and even a man of my powerful faith could not envision a century of that kind of pain.'