If it's October it must mean that across the country baseball fans are breaking out lucky charms, good-luck hats, rabbit feet and meticulous gameday rituals for the nerve-wracking MLB playoffs. Fox Sports rated the 10 best fan supersitions in order of which ones don't work at all and which actually might have a butterfly-like, cosmic effect on your team.
Forced superstitions by teams (rally monkey, rally towel, some moron dancing to Into the Groove between the 5th inning, etc.)
All baseball teams seem to have some sort of towel-related giveaway. They're the worst. The Terrible Towels of the NFL's Steelers were kind of cool, then quickly were not. At all. Like, they became the biggest embarrassment to Pittsburgh since Dave Wannstedt. But they were original which at least gives them a special cachet and makes them better than all the other inferior imitations that came after it. They're all fairly annoying though. "No, disembodied voice playing over the loudspeaker, I do not want to wave my rally towel in the air when I'm instructed to do so. This isn't a 2 Live Crew concert where the mere suggestion of putting my hands in the air will get them way up high. Just let me watch the game."
(Also, this doesn't include the color-outs we see at basketball and hockey games because those aren't forced superstitions, they're merely pathetic attempts at team unity through mass conformity. I think there was a chapter in 1984 about it. On the nights teams do that, it's a wonder they don't give out Kool-Ade at the door. Rest assured though, if a Miami Heat "white out" were considered to be a sports superstitions it'd be right here - at the bottom of the list.)
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
Wearing the same clothes
This one's all relative. If you have a lucky hoodie or hat or T-shirt that you've been wearing throughout the playoffs, then that's perfectly acceptable. What is not acceptable is wearing anything that goes underneath those clothes. Not changing your socks, let alone your drawers, won't help Hunter Pence go deep. It'll just make you nasty as you wanna be.
Getty ImagesScott Olson
Not moving seats or position
If you sat on one corner of the couch when your team hit a homer, then dagnabbit, you keep sitting there the rest of the game. If you were curled up in the fetal position with your eyes poking through a drawn-in hoodie, then so be it. If you're stretched out on the couch because that's what happened when your squad had a four-run inning and then your significant other wants to come into the room and sit down, it's okay to say no. Nay, it's encouraged.
Getty ImagesMatt Brown
It depends on who's wearing them. We're not going to be like those awful magazines and smug websites that try and impose their stupid style commandments upon the world and then judge those who deign disobey their decrees. You know what I'm talking about - the folks who say men can't wear shorts (especially of the cargo variety), jerseys, shoes without socks, etc. Nonsense. Hey, you do you, fellow men of America. Wear what you want provided you're not eating barefoot as a restaurant. The constant sense of fashion superiority is maddening. You know what looks stupid? A grown man wearing Air Jordans (and I assume most of the people writing these stories own a pair). But you don't see me judging.
Where were we. Yes, rally caps. It's a Little League fashion. There was nothing cooler than being on the bench in the bottom of the 6th with your team down a run and turning your pre-trucker hat trucker hat inside out, backward and folded like a napkin at a wedding. That was great. Kids are more than welcome to do that at a game. And if adults want to do it, cool. No judging. But, let's be honest; in public, it looks a little dumb. Keep your superstitions to yourself in public. At home, you can design your hat like you're I.M. Pei, all to your heart's content. Everything is game behind the privacy of your own doors, including the superstition of one guy I know who basically plays strip poker during Cubs games, except there's no cards or opponents, he just steadily strips during the game until he's in his drawers by the fourth quarter. Again, this is a no-no with company. Alone? Do it up.
Getty ImagesJ. Meric
Refusing to change method of following the game
A buddy of mine was at work when the Nationals game started yesterday and he was about to leave to rush home when the Nats took the lead. So that dude stayed in the office the whole game - all four hours and 7 minutes of it. Someone else I know - a Dodgers fan - cut out of work early, drove the 40 minutes back to his house and got there with the Dodgers holding a one-run lead. What did he do? He stayed in the car until the Nationals went ahead, thus absolving him of all jinx-related blame. If you're watching the game on TV, don't get in the car and put on the radio. If you're in a bar and are looking to cut out after a few innings, you best stay at one of those high-tops. Your team needs you.
Getty ImagesMatt Brown
This one's pretty self explanatory. If you were flexing your toes right before Mookie Betts hit a home run, then you keep flexing your toes right before every pitch coming to a Red Sox batter. Or let's say you thought of your yoga mantra before Jon Lester got out of a bases loaded jam with a nasty fastball. You'll keep doing it again. Then maybe it's double-fisting Labatt's. To each their own.
Toronto Star via Getty ImagesRichard Lautens
Never talking, or even thinking about, a victory
You know those scenes in Harry Potter where Dumbledore extracts memories from his head and puts it into the pensieve? (I'm going to get made fun of so much for that previous sentence.) I do that when I started getting ahead of myself while watching a game. If my baseball team has a 2-run lead in the 6th then I start thinking, "okay, well, they play Game 4 tomorrow and if they win that they get into the NLCS and then they have Max Scherzer on the mound for Game 1, which is especially huge if the Giants and Cubs go five and, oh man, who can I hit up for World Series tickets and how much swag is it acceptable to buy after they win that World Series and can I bring my three-year-old daughter to the parade and, if so, where would I park and etc." My imagination runs wild. In that case, I literally take my hand to my head and flick, sending those thoughts away, getting them out of sight and out of mind, like a parent sending an unruly kid to summer camp. Crazy? Yes. Effective? Eh, I don't know.
This one is underrated. I've done this on a number of occasions, including back in 2012 when Michael Phelps swam that crazy 100 fly at the Olympics in which he won by 0.01 seconds. I DVR'd it, taking a walk around the neighborhood and coming back to watch, the theory being that since the race was already finished, nothing I did at home could have any possible effect on what was happening in Beijing. Why my nerves weren't frayed watching on tape instead of live makes no sense - the outcome was still in doubt and the situation was just as big, but knowing it had concluded provided a sense of relief.
But that's only partially adhering to this rule. The true believers just don't watch at all and wait for a text or end-of-game update from their Fox Sports app. This is the Quaker approach and one I'm familiar with as it's one my mom takes during playoff baseball games. Rather than deal with the stress of watching the Nationals unsuccessfully coming back or unsuccessfully holding a lead, she just occasionally checks in on the game or texts to find out what happened. This was a text from Sunday: "Can't watch when we pitch until there's two outs in the ninth. Let me know when that happens. Don't forget about your grandfather's birthday."
AFP/Getty ImagesROBYN BECK
Limiting the guest list
First, you never invite someone to watch the game who cares substantially less than you do. That's how you get into a conversation about Billy Bush in the middle of a two-out rally. Then there are some people who take this to the stream.
It's another old standard of my mother who wonders, then laments with my wife, why I am the way I am. This is much like not moving seats or wearing the same clothes - it's all about controlling the environment. In the case of my diehard-Redskins fan mom, she'll be watching the Nats game on the small TV (more superstition) when my dad will wander into the room midgame. For years, fear kept him from even doing that, but now he takes a passing interest. Of course, my mom hasn't let him watch a 'Skins game with her in 40 years and she's not about to start with the Nats, so she kicks him out and then I have to text him updates. So, when my wife enters the room and the other team gets a hit or scores, it's clearly her fault. Luckily, she takes no BS and sits down anyway.
Getty ImagesPaul Bradbury
Keeping everything the same
Same clothes? Check. Same hat? Check. Same position on couch? Check. Watching alone? Check. Watching with friends, significant others or family? Check. Keeping the same text chains in which you can complain about the strike zone on every single pitch? Got it. Same beverages? Chilling currently in the fridge. Food? As close as you can to the day before. Did you throw your water bottle in frustration prior to a big rally? Leave it there, friend. Rather than have one superstition, rock them all because, honestly, you never really know which one is going to work.
But work it will, my friends. Don't listen to the haters - the folks sadly grounded in reality without a larger belief system who say you're an egomaniac with a god complex if you believe that what you do in a Washington D.C. suburb has any bearing on a baseball game taking place 2,500 miles away. Nonsense. If you will it, Dude (or Dudette), it is no dream.