After losing 4-2 in the 2013 BARB World Series, you might think the only controversy for the St. Francis Friars would be how to get back to the Series, and win it all.
But, in a surprising development, the club is ending its long-time arrangement with the increasingly-unorthodox Tridentine monastic order which originally founded the franchise with seed money from a lucrative Belgian beer brewing business.
"For a variety of reasons," admitted acting CEO Scott Hatfield, "the business of baseball, while compatible with the business of beer, became less compatible with the business...or perhaps I should say, the organization of belief. For some time, operating out of the great Midwest, our fans showed a friendly appreciation for the connection with the priests. Even non-believers seemed to enjoy our lovable Friars mascot, and we have certainly not had any protests about the nature of the majority owners."
But, as Hatfield admitted under questioning from the press, the truth was that the Head Friar (the rather stern Brother Gregor) has a lot of problems with baseball players, who aren't always angels. And the Head Friar had hinted during the club's most recent pennant race that they were concerned about the club's financial prospects.
|The new Pope, Francis. No word|
yet on whether he follows BARB.
This event has, to put it mildly, had unintended consequences. Despite a reputation as a traditional Jesuit with conservative views, the new Pope has (to the surprise of many) adopted attitudes toward those outside the Faith that have alienated many conservative Catholics, including the monks of Brother Gregor's order. As a result, the order has liquidated some of its stock in the enterprise, and the majority ownership has reverted to acting CEO Hatfield and a group of other investors.
That isn't so earth-shaking. Corporate holdings change from time to time. But Cardinal Bergoglio's unprecedented decision to adopt the name Francis had the uncomfortable effect of making the name "St. Francis Friars" come across as an impious way to refer to the reigning Pope. "We haven't been in conversation with anyone higher than the local Bishop," a weary Hatfield said, "but if we're not getting it from the conservatives who don't appreciate the Holy Father's friendly disposition towards non-Catholics, we are receiving angry emails from liberal members of the Church who think Francis can do no wrong, and who think we are mocking him."
"Let's get this straight," Hatfield concluded the press conference. "This club has gone by the name St. Francis Friars for a long time, and it never was seen as a problem before. But, rather than create a controversy within the church, our new Executive Board has petitioned the BARB Commissioner, and we have been granted permission to change the club's name from 'St. Francis Friars' to 'St. Francis Kansans.' This will affirm our host city, and embed our identity solidly in the Quad-State region of northwest Kansas. At the same time, however, we will continue to use the emblem and mascot of the St. Francis Friar to maintain continuity. We hope this change will be seen as an affectionate, but not necessarily religious commitment to our club's tradition. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Series to win."