Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On superstition

I’m often asked how I can be such an overly rational person, yet at the same time indulge in weird superstitious routines, especially when it comes to sports. The easy answer, of course, is that I’m schizophrenic. While there’s an unfortunate element of truth to that, the reality is a little more ridiculous: it’s because karma plays a huge part in the outcome of sports events! Don’t believe me? Allow me to elaborate why I’m convinced I may have jinxed my beloved Cleveland teams with two little anecdotes. I swear to God these are 100% true.

1. 1997 World Series Game 7, top of the ninth inning, the Tribe leading the fish 2-1, Sandy Alomar on 3rd with one out, Matt Williams due up. Jim “Polesmoker” Leyland makes a pitching change, and there’s a commercial break. A huge insurance run, not to mention a WS win and the end of nearly fifty years of misery, hang in the balance... and yours truly, in an inexplicable and inexcusable moment of shocking stupidity, picks that very moment to call the 1-800 World Series video number to order the tape. Why? I was afraid they’d run out... do you suppose my mother had any kids that lived? I’m still on hold when the game resumes, so I hang up the phone call I thought was so important just minutes before and pray for Williams to come the f*ck through. But Williams, a gutless wonder who will defect to Arizona a few weeks later, hits a routine grounder to third -- that chickenshit bastard couldn’t even lift a medium-depth fly ball, for Christ’s sake. Alomar, who was going on contact, gets easily thrown out at home. Bye-bye, insurance run. Then-manager Mike Hargrove was an absolute idiot to have Alomar running on contact with an overanxious, free-swinging piece of shit like Williams batting, but that’ll be a rant for another day. Anyway, I immediately throw the phone against the wall, shattering it to smithereens, unload about three million oaths at the top of my lungs, and smack myself in the face a few times, but the damage is done. In the bottom of the ninth, Hoser Mesa comes in looking like a deer in headlights, bearing a suspicious brown stain on his cowardly pants, and obviously not ready to close the game. He promptly gives up the lead, the game goes into extra innings, and the rest is another sad chapter in the Tribe’s history. “Wait ’til next year” is STILL the official motto of the Clevelander.

2. Early January, 2003. It’s Sunday morning, and the Brownies, having miraculously made it into the playoffs for the first time in some ten years, will battle the revolting Pukesburgh Squealers in the afternoon. Two nights before, the Buckeyes had won the National Championship. Before the Brownies game starts, I decide to e-mail my Cleveland pals with a celebratory Buckeyes / Go Brownies e-mail, so I put together a little graphic with Buckeye Brutus playing the part of Adam getting touched by God in Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” (yes, I’m aware that I’m a total geek), and adding the caption, “One Miracle Down... Three To Go.” Then I decide to get cute and add a graphic of three guys sitting and reading, replace the heads with the Tribe, Brownies and Cavs logos, then label it, “Meanwhile, in God’s Waiting Room...” So far, no damage. But then, I decide to get even more clever/creative (the demise of all graphic designers -- but at least we’re not interior decorators, like the openly gay Squealer nation), and add titles to the reading materials; for the Cavs (and remember, this is pre-LeBron), it’s “Resurrecting a Moribund Franchise.” For the Tribe, it’s “The Idiot’s Guide to Re-signing Free Agents” (dastardly and borderline retard Jim Thome had just bolted for Philly, announcing: “duuuhhh... errrr... duuhhhh... it’s not, like... about the money... duuhhhh... grrrr... duuhhh...” ... and no, I’m not bitter...); I know I should not tempt fate, and for one sane instant, I decide to leave the Brownies’ book blank, but then my obsessive-compulsive, anal retentive idiocy takes over... if the other guys are reading titled material, so should Browniedawg! Ignoring the spine-chilling shrieks from the little voice inside my head, I add “How to Stop Choking in Playoff Games” to Browniedawg’s book, save the file, and promptly e-mail it, along with an unbreakable jinx, to all my Cleveland friends. A time machine, a time machine, my kingdom for a time machine... Anyway, the Brownies jumped out to a huge lead, then played the entire fourth quarter with their collective hands firmly wrapped around their collective necks, and lost the lead for good with roughly 40 seconds left in the game. To this day, I still can’t look back and enjoy the Buckeyes championship because of the enormous Brownies collapse that occurred less than 48 hours later.

Miscellaneous addendum: my then-girlfriend, who was from Pukesburgh and a self-admittedly uninterested Squealers “fan,” tried to console me, but I still dumped her sorry ass with extreme prejudice that same day... but who’s bitter?

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