come to my attention that 70% of Americans believe that what they say,
do and think in the privacy of their homes can affect the outcome of
televised sporting events hundreds or thousands of miles away. While
this statistic may at first appear laughably to refer to the same 70%
of Americans who think Saddam was responsible for 9-11, on closer inspection
and after much thought I am inclined to believe that not only is it a
true statistic, but that it is rational and derived from good old American
observation and common sense.
Haven’t you ever thought, "If I close my eyes he’ll make these free throws"
or conversely, "If I cross my eyes he’ll miss these free throws". Next
on this slippery slope come those bargains with the sports gods: "If
have another drink they will hold onto this one-goal lead for the next
5 minutes and 32 seconds" or "If they just win this game I promise I
will throw away that Chocolate Forest Cheese Cake in the freezer". In
cases victims end up watching games with their lucky teddybear, refrain
from changing their lucky socks for an entire season, or become
hysterical if you phone at
an inoppertune moment, breaking the spell they are weaving for
Case in point. Last night’s Red Sox game. Now, I know I have sworn not
to write about the Red Sox in this space, on the theory that every time
I even hint that this might be the year, they reel off about four straight
losses and plunge me back into depression. On the other hand, when I
leave well enough alone and ignore them, or better yet imply that they
all stumblebums and toady losers to Steinbrenners death squad, they seem
to do just fine. This is obviously a blogging corollary to the "doing
at home can affect the outcome of televised sporting events" phenomena.
It has an inarguable logic founded in bitter experience and reinforced
time and again. Right now, for example, as I break my vow in order to
write about last night’s game, I notice that the hometown nine are trailing
Baltimore tonight by 7 TO 0 in the 1st inning!
Be that as it may, last night I was watching the game between these same
two teams and working on my upcoming BloggerCon Beginner’s Sessions.
Since the game was only on the cable-connected set in the bedroom, I
back and forth from my desk to my bed, trying to get desperately overdue
work done during commercials. Since I find this work interesting and
enjoyable I kept doing it for longer than 120 seconds at a stretch, and
missing key segments of the game. Only it seemed I was missing all the
good parts. Every time I heard the roar of the crowd from the bedroom
(it was a home game) I would rush into the other room and see the replay
of a key hit, a nasty strikeout, or a great catch. Then I would watch
until the Sox did something unfortunate or boneheaded, at which point
I would rush from the room back to my desk and continue working.
It gradually dawned on me that the team was doing great when I was working
and blowing it when I was watching. Obviously, my viewing pattern was
affecting their on-field performance! And it was getting pretty late
to turn things around. It would take a miracle.
Actually, it was the beginning of the 9th inning, the Red Sox behind
5-2, that I decided that for the good of the team I had to stop watching.
For one thing, it was getting too depressing to watch their good efforts
sliding down the drain. For another, I was forced to the inevitable conclusion
that if my team was to have a snowball’s chance in hell of coming back
I had to leave the room and go back to work. I even turned the TV off
so that I would not be tempted by premature cheers to rush back and complete
the jinx. I knew in my heart that if I kept watching they would go down
to ignominious defeat for sure. If there was to be a miracle it would
have to be, like all true miracles, accomplished by faith alone, hidden
from my sin-singed eyes.
I had almost forgotten about the game and focused on the materials I
was developing when the phone rang. It was my Mom, an inveterate Red
Sox fan up in Downeast Maine. "What do you think now!" she crowed, "Was
that the most incredible thing you have ever seen, or what?" I reluctantly
admitted to having turned off the set after the 8th.
"No!" she was incredulous. "That was easily the best, most exciting game
I have seen this season – no, the most exciting game I have seen, EVER!"
Mom’s been following baseball since she saw Bob Feller pitch for her
hometown Cleveland Indians in 1940. Way to rub it in Ma.
But the miracle had happened. Unlikely hero Todd Walker stroked a three-run
homer in the 9th and then the gentle Godzilla, David Ortiz, won it with
a walk-off home run in the 10th. Reading the paper this morning, it seems
everyone agrees with my Mom. "By far," Todd Walker said, "the
biggest thrill of my life to this point." Way to rub it in, Todd.
Do I regret missing the ending live on television? Of course. Am I convinced
that if I had stayed in the bedroom and watched the ending they would
have lost? Absolutely. Will I start telling people I DID see those two
titanic home runs as they were struck? Probably. Except that now I have
my Blog and you guys to keep me honest.