Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The chicken strips worked again!!!

Well, the chicken strips were baked in time for the first pitch last night and what do you know...the Red Sox won!!! This got me thinking about superstitions in baseball. Most people know about Wade Boggs and his barbecue chicken superstition. And if anyone has ever seen Nomar Garciaparra bat, then you have seen him step out of the batters box after every pitch, re-adjust his batting gloves, then tap his front and back feet multiple times until the next pitch come in. After the pitch, it starts all over again.
Well, I did some research on baseball superstition and found a few doozies...
1. One classic baseball superstition requires that teammates must not talk to a pitcher who is working on a no-hitter. It's an obligation that usually results in the pitcher sitting in isolation on the bench in the latter innings, as illustrated below. The Yankees' Don Larsen, en route to the only World Series perfect game in baseball history in 1956, tested this superstition in the seventh inning, when he sidled over to teammate Mickey Mantle and said, "Hey, Mick — look at that. Two more innings. Wouldn't it be something?" Mantle got up and walked away without responding.
2. Countless players observe the time-honored superstition of not stepping on the foul line (except for the ones who observe the time-honored counter-superstition of stepping ON the foul line).
Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees' longtime ace and current pitching coach, told how he came to believe in the power of foul-line avoidance. He said that a Yankees coach, Jim Hegan, told him one day before a game with the Twins that it was a silly belief, and that stepping on the foul line would have no effect on his performance.
Stottlemyre thought he might have a point, and cavalierly stepped on the foul line as he went out to face the Twins. Here's his account of that day's game in "The Baseball Almanac":
"The first batter I faced was Ted Uhlaender, and he hit a line drive off my left shin. It went for a hit. Carew, Oliva and Killebrew followed with extra-base hits. The fifth man hit a single and scored and I was charged with five runs. I haven't stepped on a foul line since."
3 - Back in 1984, Minnesota Twins pitcher Frank Viola noticed a large banner at the Metrodome that said "FRANKIE SWEET MUSIC VIOLA." He also noticed that whenever the banner appeared, he seemed to pitch well, and, in fact, never lost. According to Sports Illustrated, the banner's creator, a fan named Mark Dornfield, introduced himself to Viola in 1987, and the two talked for two hours. That season, Viola went 15-0, with four no-decisions (all Twins victories) in banner games.
The Twins made the World Series that season, and Viola learned that Dornfield didn't have a ticket. That prompted Kathy Viola, Frank's wife, to call Dornfield up and offer him tickets to Games 1 and 7. As SI reported, "With the banner proudly unfurled, Viola won both games and was named Series MVP."
4. Turk Wendell a former Cubs and Mets reliever use to brush his teeth and chew licorice between every inning to perhaps enhance his taste and performance for each pitch.
5. Frank Viola (again), a three-time MLB all-star and former Cy Young winner had a secret to his success on the mound. He would clean the mound before every inning, kicking up dirt exactly four times. However, if something bad happened, he couldn't do it in repetition of four’s any more, instead he would try three or five.
That is just a small sample of some of the superstitions that are involved in the world of baseball. I usually don't get superstitious in other sports, but there are plenty of people that do.
All I know is that come Friday night, I will be sitting in my chair in the living room watching Game 1 of the ALCS. GO SOX!!!

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