Yesterday, I decided to get a handful of tickets and take some friends to the Tigers’ game. As the Tigers were on their way to defeating the Indians 4-0 at Comerica Park, Justin Verlander came five outs away from throwing his second no-hitter of the season. Around the 4th inning, it really looked like he was going to get the job done: his fastball was blazing, his curve looked like something out of MLB 2K11. But something also happened that I am really beginning to loathe.
After Verlander struck out Jack Hannahan and Grady Sizemore to end the top of the 6th inning, I turned to my friends in the seats next to me to talk about Verlander’s performance so far. I was only going to say something innocuous about his solid stuff, maybe a word or two about how impressed I was with him this season. But one of my friends didn’t even let me speak a words before yelling “DON’T TALK ABOUT IT! YOU’LL JINX HIM!”
I’m so sick of people talking about not talking. Who in their right mind really thinks that a few words are going to alter the course of history and cause a no-hitter to not happen? I can get behind some superstitions in sports: the playoff beard, stepping over the baselines, never crossing your sticks. Those are personal choices by players that fans can’t admire without feeling forced to emulate. I can even support players/managers decision to not talk to a pitcher during his no-hit attempt unless he talks to them first. Teammates and others in the dugout don’t want to distract him from focusing on the task at hand. But you can kiss off if you think that a few uttered words in the seats in section 330 are really going to affect Verlander’s pitching. If I said (even though I wasn’t going to), “How cool will it be if Verlander actually gets this no-hitter?”, was that really going to allow the next Indians batter to get a hit? Do I (or anyone else on the planet) really have that much control over spacetime with just a few words? If so, I’m going to use it for bigger things than watching the baseball man throw good. I’m going to use it to get Kate Upton to marry me.
I can guarantee one thing for certain: people have talked about no-hitters while they were happening. I have done it. I called a friend and told him to turn on the TV and watch Roy Halladay throw his perfect game in the playoffs last season. I said the words “no hitter” and “perfect game” in the span of a few seconds. Guess what? He still threw the perfect game. The opposite is true also. When Armando Galarraga was going for his luckiest perfect game of all time, I was watching the game by myself at home. No one was around, and my phone was in another room. I never said the so-called jinx words. And we all know what happened there.
There are a lot of people who believe in the power of the jinx, applying their belief equally to no-hit attempts or gambling or marriages or children. Some of the people who believe very strongly in the jinx work for this very radio station. And to those fans, my coworkers, and my friends I say: grow up and pull your head out of your jinxhole. And find a way to convince Kate Upton to marry me.