Day 013: On Superstition
It was around 8:55 PM on April 5, 1999. I walked into a dark kitchen to make microwave popcorn. After I poured it into the bowl, I looked into the empty bag. I then looked around to see if my Mom had entered the room. She hadn’t. So I hocked a loogie into the bag, threw it away and retreated to my bedroom. I then proceeded to watch Monday Night Raw for the first time and it effectively changed my life. Not because it made me a wrestling fan, but because I had such a good time watching that first episode that I would never want the opposite to happen. So to this day, I always spit into the empty popcorn bag out of fear of having a bad time. It might sound insane, but if I ever fail to spit, my mind will manifest it.
And that’s really all that superstitions are. Our mind manifests all of it. If you pick up a penny tails up and then miss your train, you’re going to blame the penny. But it’s not the bad luck that did it. The fault lies on your creaky body and inability to pick things up quicker. Or, more logically, the train came in faster than usual. Bad things happen to you all the time. That’s just the way of the universe. But if you broke a mirror, all of the bad things that happen for the next 5 years will be the mirror’s fault. You lost your job because of an economic depression, not because you walked under a ladder. A tree landed up your car because you parked under a tree during a storm. It’s not the black cat’s fault.
But it certainly feels better to think that way. The universe is cold and random. Simpler creatures understand that and go about their tasks to ensure the world keeps turning. We have the curse of being unique snowflakes, so it’s harder for us to grasp that we don’t matter. So therefore, we come up with things to make us feel like we’re in control of our own luck. And when things seem to be dire, we go out of our way to do things to change our luck. We cross fingers, knock on wood, pet rabbit feet, but ultimately, it’s never in our control. The only thing it does is give us a positive outlook. Mind you, in some cases that outlook will cause you to excel. When I spit in the popcorn bag, I know I’m gonna have a good time, so automatically my mood is better than it was before.
That’s why baseball has always fascinated me. It’s a very superstitious sport. Players will use superstition for better or worse to determine the outcome of the game. If they’re wearing their lucky jock strap, they’re going to play with more confidence. If the team is historically snake bitten, the players will have this haunt them and they will fail in high leverage situations. Baseball is a bunch of superstitions battling it out with each other.
As a baseball fan, I have superstitions of my own. If the Dodgers win, I’ll keep wearing the same shirt or jersey for every game until they lose. If they lose two straight, I’ll swap out some pins on my hat. I obviously have no control over the Dodger’s success, but thinking I do makes me a better/more annoying fan. My new superstition has probably gone too far. Last night, they went into the top of the 9th with a 4-2 lead. Seeing Kenley Jansen on the mound made me nervous, so I remembered what I did to calm my nerves when they were playing the Astros last month. I muted the TV, opened the laptop and played Dusty Rhodes promo videos.
He walked one batter, but all in all had a pretty clean save. I’m now convinced that I need to listen to Dusty Rhodes every time Kenley gets the ball. If it gets them all the way to a championship, great. It probably won’t, but in my mind, Dusty is 2-0. And I’m gonna ride this superstition out until it dies. Or until my wife kills me.