Saturday, Phillies pitcher Jon Lieber carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. Although he would go on to win the game, he lost the perfect game on an Adam Dunn single in the seventh inning after retiring the first 20 Reds batters he faced. It was an impressive performance, and it exposed another of our strange quirks that irritates the sensible and forward-thinking among us.
While Lieber was in Cincinnati pitching a baseball game, those of us watching some 600 miles away were encouraged to keep quiet about the feat lest we jinx him. Ironically, a few hours ago, former major leaguer John Marzano was discussing that very thing on WIP, our sports talk station. For whatever reason, players, coaches, broadcasters, viewers, fans and even people watching on TV are not supposed to talk about pending no-hitters or perfect games because of the great possibility that mentioning the event will lead to its premature demise.
My particular mistake was in watching the game in public. There's something about big-screen plasma TVs and alcohol that makes it difficult for me to go home, but there I was, in front of a Panasonic plasma, watching Lieber crank up a gem in the state that's round at the end and high in the middle - much like me without the "round" part.
I mentioned it a few times as we worked into the fifth and sixth inning, "Wow, he's working on a perfect game" I said. My fellow bar patrons, working on their fifth something and tonic shussed me, worried that I would jinx the game by talking about it.
"I don't think he can hear me in Cincinnati," I said, figuring that I could not be proven wrong, yet somehow, in the back of my SoCo soaked mind, I wondered if I may be poking the drunken hornet's nest of superstition present in the something that goes with their tonic water. Still, I was asked to suspend my discussion of his work, and instead, ignore it, as though my ignorance would contribute to Jon's success - so very far away. I silenced my observations, fearing that a brawl would take place and it would be difficult to explain to the arresting officer that I was defending myself against superstition when I broke that bottle over his head.
At this point, I asked myself "What year is this?", that the mere mention of something would cause seemingly rational people to break into hysteria and actions where their index finger was placed in front of pursed lips, asking me to cease and desist. I then answered myself, "It's 2006", and we should have long ago stopped allowing such things to rule our lives, but there was Jon Lieber, sitting alone at one end of the dugout, while his teammates disowned him and the TV announcers resisted temptation.
If we had that sort of power over the actions of others, I would start buying lottery tickets or sending out resumes in hopes of winning the Power Ball jackpot or landing a job as Julia Roberts' personal masseur. Alas, I have no such control, and as I figure it, my mentioning Jon Lieber's almost-perfect game had nothing to do with his giving up a hit in the seventh inning. I think that was Jon's responsibility.
It seems so silly to me that in this era of cellular phones, the Internet and personal storage sheds that we are still so superstitious. If I thought I had that sort of influence over events outside of my life, Al Gore would be President, Dick Cheney would be incarcerated, cars would run on garbage, alcohol would prevent cancer, women would be drawn to me and my cat would live forever. But, I don't yet have those powers, and as much as I would like, it just doesn't work that way. It surprises me that, well into the 21st Century there are still people who think that their thoughts influence the actions of others. Face it folks, the world spins whether you talk about it or not.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Julia's people to get back to my people.