Thursday, June 07, 2012

Baseball's Sacraments and The Jinx

The level of superstition in baseball is not approached in any other area of life. Baseball players will forgo shaving for weeks, or the duration of a winning streak. They will wear unwashed undergarments for the length of a season, or until a game without a hit passes. They would not step on a chalk line if it was six feet wide, and will chase an umpire all over the field in order to lightly tap a bat on his shin guards. These habits, and many, many more, serve as sacred prayers before the baseball gods, who will punish a player who forgets or chooses not to genuflect in some fashion before the altar.

One form of this superstition involves the jinx. Or, "If you say it, it will not happen." When a pitcher is six innings into a no hitter, one who might dare to mention that fact would be in less danger golfing in a thunderstorm. A player who is twenty games into a hitting streak will engage in conversations warily, and if he senses that the conversant might stray into the forbidden territory of his working streak, he might just fake appendicitis before he would continue talking.

It is almost as though speaking of a streak is believed to be gloating before the baseball gods. Understand, when a pitcher has a no hitter, or even a shutout, he is fully aware of that fact. He does not need anyone to remind him of it. He is probably incapable of noticing a nearby nuclear explosion, as long as it does not interfere with the next pitch.

The Amarillo Sox have a promotion, where if the home team scores exactly seven runs in the seventh inning, a name will be drawn from previously entered contestants, for a new Ford of some type. A seven run inning might not happen every day, but it is not unheard of in this league.

We have approached it once this season. On May 25th, we were rallying in the seventh, and we had two men on, with one out. We had five runs in. Our PA announcer, Adam Cox, decided to stick his finger in the baseball god's chest, and announced, over the PA system, audible to every person in the park and some cars on East Third street, the fact that we had those five runs in, and only needed two more. On the very next pitch, the batter hit into an inning-ending double play.

There is, in our press box, a newly created Kangaroo Court. Baseball takes a perverse joy in policing infractions, including absurdly minor ones, with small fines and humiliating tasks. Our first prosecution was for our Radio Broadcaster, Travis Lubbe. Travis made the error of wearing the wrong color shirt (he had a fifty-fifty chance) to the game. He was punished by being forced to wear pink accessories and ride a pink stick horse while he fetched signatures from numerous ballpark officials on his Kangaroo Court documentation. For the record, he has not re-offended.

Adam's trial for the felony jinxing of the seven run seventh was on June 5th at the ball park after the game, during which he was convicted after about a minute. His punishment was decided by General Manager, Mark Lee. Since the offended party was basically every soul present that spring night, Mark decided the only fair way to punish Adam was to place Adam in a dunking booth and allow those fans, and anyone else offended by the act, to attempt to drown him. The event will be at the Sonic restaurant at 1009 E Amarillo Blvd, near Arthur Street, on Saturday, June 16th from noon until 5pm eleven a.m. to three p.m., before the game. There will be a few Sox pitchers on site to ensure a minimum number of dunkings, and General Manager Mark Lee will also be in possession of a remote switch to inject dunkings at any desired moment. Fans can make a small donation to The March of Dimes, a thoroughly awesome charity, for three chances to dunk Adam. If we raise five hundred dollars, the Sox will even match it.

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