I am superstitious by nature. Well, probably by nurture given how prevalent superstitions were in my family when I was growing up. In any event, while I try to fight most superstitions, I am occasionally seen tossing salt over my shoulder, NOT walking under ladders and, as anyone who knows me will attest, NOT mentioning a no-hitter by name unless it’s being pitched by someone I don’t want to succeed.
Let me share a story I’m sure I’ve shared before. It’s a Sunday in October of 2004 and the Red Sox have lost the first 3 games of the ALCS to the New York Yankees. The third game, having just ended the evening before, was an especially painful thrashing that saw the Red Sox lose 19-8. That Sunday, I went with my family to a birthday party for one of my aunts. Even though the Patriots were also playing and everyone was happy to see each other, it felt more like a wake. All people were talking about was how the Red Sox were going to get swept by the Yankees that night. My parents and I think we’re the only people in the house who aren’t convinced the Red Sox are going to lose, until my cousin’s boyfriend, who was also a bartender around the Fenway Area, starts telling everyone that the Red Sox could win the entire ALCS. He basically spends the afternoon telling everyone the same thing Kevin Millar famously told anyone who would listen at Fenway that day.
“Don’t let us win today. This is a big game. They’ve got to win because if we win we’ve got Pedey coming back today and then Schilling will pitch Game 6 and then you can take that fraud stuff and put it to bed. Don’t let the Sox win this game.”
So while he didn’t use the same words as Millar did above, the sentiment was the same. If the Sox could win on Sunday, Pedro was pitching game five and Schilling was pitching game 6…and it could all come down to game 7. And we all know what happened.
We left that party invigorated and excited for the game to begin. After game 4 went the way it did, I took myself to work the next day…in the same clothes I had worn to the birthday party. (Hey, the game ran late, I got up late and grabbed the clothes I had easiest access to.) I came home that night, didn’t get changed and watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees again. As I sat down to watch game 6, I looked down at my clothes and thought “I really need to go put on what I wore for the last two games” and I did. So for games 4-7 of the 2004 ALCS I wore the same outfit (well, except for the underwear…I figured the Baseball Gods would understand I needed clean underwear…) and things worked out swell for the Sox.
After the Red Sox won it all in 2004, I realized I could let go of a lot of my baseball superstitions. (I will never be able to truly let go of not mentioning a no-hitter by name. I absolutely know this is ridiculous, I promise you.) I’ve spent the better part of the last 9 seasons (including this one) rolling my eyes at people who worry that the same fate will befall the Sox as it has in the years before 2004. But September of 2011 shook me. More than I thought it had. Here I sit, night after night, watching this absolutely amazing Boston Red Sox team come back from deficits, pound good pitching and act like nothing around them fazes them at all and still I worry.
I have three pictures hanging on the walls of my cubicle at work. One is of my niece and the other two you see above. Because of Clay’s plight, I considered taking down those two (I was also tracking Clay’s wins and losses on that photo and wondered if I was testing the Baseball Gods). But I worried that if I took down the pictures of Clay and Jonny that it would somehow mess with the team. (Heck, Clay hasn’t pitched for half the time I’ve had him up, but still…)
So the pictures remain, Clay came back the other night to win his tenth game of the season and Jonny Gomes is doing just fine, thank you. (Because he is, according to this, Bruce Willis from Unbreakable.) And yet I still worry.
Worry is the wrong word. I’m not worried. I believe this team is winning the division and has a damn good chance of winning the World Series. I’m just trying not to mess with anything karmically that could screw things up. What that means specifically, I’m not yet sure…but I’ll say this: Neglecting this blog (as well as not going to nearly as many games in person as I usually do) hasn’t exactly hurt the Sox this season! I have no intentions to purposely stop the blog…but now you know why there might be a few more long periods without an entry!
Of course, all that goes out the window once the post season is here and new superstitions take their place.
Magic number = 8. Single digits, baby!