Sunday, May 14, 2006

If You Believe in Things You Don't Understand...

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.


Carmen said...

Isn't it funny how people think that they can affect games? I'll wear a UVA shirt on football games, I'll scream at the TV (because yes, they CAN hear me), etc. etc.

Mandi said...

I have total control over gas prices. Really. Its me. If i fill up and its $3.08 a gallon, tomorrow it will have dropped 10 cents. But ive been doing my part and buying gas and its not dropping this time! Wonder what im doing to jinx it?

Anthony said...

Yelling at the TV can be fun. I'd like to invent a TV that will yell back.

Sports fans around here wear "lucky" shirts and stuff, meanwhile the teams here haven't won squat in about 30 years, so how lucky are these people?

Apparently, they fail to grasp the obvious.

Anthony said...

Well, Mandi, I'd say that the best thing you could do for "society" is buy one of those hybrid cars.

Should be down to $1.50 by the end of next week.

Jeff H said...

Hey, myth is more powerful than "objectivity"--else how to explain the rise of Al Gore, the farcical "global warming scare" and Democrats possibly picking up additional seats in Congress this fall?

Anyway, baseball has over a century and a quarter of tradition built up the matter. Talk about the no-no, it'll be blown.

And basketball has something similar: if you mention the fact that the guy at the free thrown line shoots 80% (or better), he'll almost always miss the next one.

Beth said...

We moved at the end of January thereby forcing my husband to sit in a different spot for the Superbowl causing the Seahawks to lose the game. Switching the couches so they matched our old set up didn't even work!

Anthony said...

Well Jeff, pardon my bluntness, but that's just plain ridiculous.

When we consider how difficult it is to (a) throw a no-hitter or (b) shoot over 80% free throws, it wouldn't matter if you talked about it or not. Surely, you can't be serious.

There's no tradition, it's statistics. Numbers don't have a conscience - and neither do most Republicans.

I hope you have that much power over other events in your life and the lives of others.

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