A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

A mix of posts on gesture, HCI, perception or robots and some personal information.

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Brian Wilson’s Arm Cross Story

In the news today, a story about the trademark gesture of a baseball pitcher named Brian Wilson.

This is apparently Brian Wilsons Arm Cross

This is apparently Brian Wilson's Arm Cross (source)

And from another angle:

Wilsons Arm Cross again

Wilson's Arm Cross again (source)

Extra Baggs posted a nice interview with Wilson about the meaning behind his gesture, and it is apparently an odd mixture of something about his christian religiousness, something about his late father, and something about a brand of clothing. Wilson’s explanation is rather lengthy and not entirely fit to read just before lunch (for those with strong appetites: here), so here are the most important bits:

“One More Round is a clothing line [for martial arts fighters]. It has to do with the drive and determination that certain fighters have when their backs are against the wall… And to me, that relates to what I do on the mound. In the ninth inning, your back is against the wall …  one of the main things I do … is the crossing of the arms… on a T-shirt I wear underneath my jersey when I pitch. That’s just respecting the fighters. ”

“And also … when I cross my arms, I have my left hand in the fist and my right hand goes underneath pointing with my (index) finger … this finger represents one man. I’m that one person … The fist represents the power of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost … So here’s the strength of God and the strength of man. And without him, I am nothing … But when I cross, I now have this one person with the strength of Christ, and I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me …

So until here, there is little about his dad in this explanation but elsewhere Wilson says that the gesture is also some sort of tribute to his late father. Well, why not? Let’s accept that he added one more element of meaning to what is after all his own personally invented gesture. And a marvellous gesture example it is, I must say. In itself, Wilson’s gesture creation is a nice tribute to humans’ ability to create symbols with highly complex meanings and communicate these to others.

Now, the story in the news is not so much about the gesture itself, but about another baseball player, named Casey Blake, who apparently got a little frustrated and derided the gesture by creating a mock version of it, which Wilson took as an insult. Teammates of Wilson caught Blake on photo, but I haven’t been able to dig it up on the net (anyone?).

Some commentators side with Wilson’s indignation, while others think he overreacts and shows weakness. Personally, I’ll add that I find Wilson is flaunting his personal beliefs in the aftermath of an emotionally charged game, at a moment in which he might better show himself a gracious winner. It has an air of rubbing it in, of “see, God was on my side”, or even worse, “look at me being all strong and victorious, it was all through God you know, you should try it”. Slightly distasteful. Can’t he just kiss a little cross or something if he wants to thank God or something?

6 Responses to “Brian Wilson’s Arm Cross Story”

  1. 1
    Katie D.:

    Try this link for the video of Casey Blake being an ass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ6vAgdIsK8

  2. 2
    PTG:

    I think every Christian if given the opportunity to share their faith and take a stand for Jesus on a national level in front of media should go for it. Instead of keeping it private has you suggest by kissing a cross. He obviously took advantage of the opportunity to give his God some Glory, that would have been missing if he hid his faith by kissing a cross.

  3. 3
    Jeroen:

    @Katie D. - Thank you very much :-)
    @PTG - I’m not against glorifying or evangelizing as long as people keep it to themselves :-/

  4. 4
    Elizabeth:

    It wouldn’t be evangelizing or glorifying if you keep it to yourself.

  5. 5
    Jeroen:

    @Elizabeth - Darn.

  6. 6
    Steve Brudney:

    I thought there was a verse in the New Testament (or more than one) urging believers not to flaunt their faith. Besides that verse or others that might advise against showing off one’s faith are many verses in the Bible that advise being humble. I don’t think that saying, in effect, “See, the God of the entire god-damn universe is supporting me personally!” I just find it ridiculous to spent time even believing that God involves himself in such trivial matters as ball games or any sports events. If he wants to support a side that needs to win their fight 100,000 more times than Wilson or any player in sports needs to win his or hers, how about involving himself in the fights for democracy in the Middle East? How about in people’s efforts to built levies strong enough to hold back the Mississippi? How about people’s fights against their cancer? Thinking that God helps teams win while he apparently couldn’t give a crap about these others just trivializes the entire idea of a loving, compassionate God. Also, I can’t imagine that gesturing on the field or wherever could actually serve to proselytize. You think people will turn to the Lord because they see a man in a baseball stadium showing everyone not that God helped but that he believes God helped? I don’t think so.

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