Essential rules for proper sports juju
In the fourth inning of this season’s first FOX televised baseball game, announcer Joe Buck was interviewing Tigers ace Justin Verlander from the dugout, while his teammates batted.
Basically, it was guy talk about meeting Kate Upton and small talk about the team. But while the conversation went on, Prince Fielder homered, Delmon Young singled, and Alex Avila homered, breaking open the game. Bang, bang, bang. Three runs.
This prompted Verlander to state the obvious: As long as the Tigers kept hitting, he wanted to keep the interview going.
And that’s how you win the Cy Young Award.
On the atomic level, all thinking fans instinctively recognize the secret influence we wield over sporting events. We know enough not to change seats during a rally or to announce that our favorite point guard hasn’t missed a free throw in his last 40 tries. We never mention the no-hitter in progress and we keep doing whatever it takes, as long as the dice are rolling our way.
We practice juju, a mystical connection to the sports universe that has been around since the first foot-race between man and lion. Juju is often discredited by scientists as “anecdotal” evidence. But scientists sure sing a different tune in divorce court, when telling how they caught their spouse with the grad student. “Anecdotal” evidence works just fine then, eh?
I have compiled 27 Juju Rules for how you — the thinking fan — can will your team to win, without having to leave the comfort and privacy of your living room. Here are 10 key rules:
1. TELL NO ONE ABOUT YOUR JUJU. Remember the first rule of Fight Club? (Hint: “Never talk about Fight Club.”) Same here, but double it. Talk about juju, and you jinx yourself. Shut up.
2. NEVER TRY TO PROVE JUJU WORKS. Waste of time. Juju does not perform in clinical tests.
3. THERE IS NO LUCKY SHIRT. If there was, it would be owned by billionaires, oil sheiks or James Bond super-villains. Trust us: Your unemployed cousin Gary isn’t wearing it.
4. IT’S OK TO ABUSE INANIMATE OBJECTS. After a brutal defeat, a door should expect to be slammed. (Note: Water-boarding is barbaric. Americans do NOT torture inanimate objects.)
5. BE NEGATIVE. In life, you should see the glass as “half-full.” In sports, never jinx your team by predicting victory. Worst case scenario: You lose, and you’re a visionary.
6. NEVER PLAN A VICTORY PARTY. (See No. 5.) A guaranteed defeat and worse, a guaranteed lousy party.
7. NEVER HARM YOUR TV. No matter what happens on the screen, it’s not her fault. Treat her tenderly, and she will be waiting for you tomorrow.
8. NEVER ASK GOD TO FIX A GAME. It’s like asking Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to play “Hot Cross Buns.” God has more important matters, such as hurricanes and celebrity hook-ups. The last thing He needs is a point-shaving scandal.
9. WHEN A STRATEGY WORKS, DON’T OVERUSE IT. Simply stated, you cannot hop on one foot throughout an entire baseball season. Save your best for the World Series.
10. EVERY GAME IS THE WORLD SERIES. Are we clear?
And if Detroit makes it into the postseason, watch out for Verlander. He’ll probably be doing podcasts from the dugout.
Following is an excerpt from THE JUJU RULES… Or How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: Memoir of a Fan Obsessed, by Hart Seely
JUJU RULE #18: THE CASE FOR THE YANKEES
Following the 2011 season, the Yankees’ all-time record stood at 8,915 wins and 6,514 losses. Crunch the numbers: That’s an average of 94 victories per season.
Thus, every year, Yankee fans enjoy thirteen more wins — and suffer thirteen fewer defeats — than the average .500 team. Think about it: if you root for the Yankees, you can expect to celebrate thirteen more victories and suffer thirteen fewer losses every season for the rest of your life.
Thirteen more victories and thirteen fewer losses. Every season. For the rest of your life.
I respect that some readers already have a favorite team and it is not the Yankees. Moreover, a few might consider it insulting — no, infuriating — to hear a Yankee fan boast about his thirteen extra wins and then attribute them to some personal New Age dorkcraft. You might even view me as a quintessential Yankee fan, just another valueless jerk who thinks the universe revolves around his team.
OK, fine, I get it. I understand your rage. If I suffered thirteen needless defeats every year, I’d be bitter, too.
But Reader, do you love your children? Do you want them to follow the great American pastime? Do you want them to be happy?
As Yankee fans, they will likely celebrate thirteen more victories… and suffer thirteen fewer losses… every season for the rest of their lives. If they live to age sixty-five, that’s 845 victories — more than five undefeated seasons.
Five years… without a loss.
Those creamy victories will replace 845 acid-tinged defeats, including a few walk-off heartbreakers that will haunt your children to their graves, if not send them there before their time. Imagine it: Five seasons without one victory. Not even over the Marlins.
Would you knowingly subject your children to five years of unrelenting loss and humiliation? If your answer is yes — well, hey, Parent of the Century — here are a few more child-rearing tips: Buy them crack pipes. Teach them to bungee jump. Show them how to make Halloween masks from plastic bags.
Defeat is a terrible thing to inflict upon a child. It destroys self-esteem. It breeds juvenile delinquency. Kids come to expect cleanup hitters who bat .230, and relievers who cannot throw strikes. They turn to fast food, video games, and phone sex. They quit school. Why learn to read, when the sports pages only tell of losses?
Do you want your children striving for life’s wild card?
Of course, if your children were to become Yankee fans, not only would their lives be brightened, but their juju would be added to the collective cause, resulting in an even higher annual winning percentage. If it grows by just 4 percent, compounded over ten years, they could expect up to eighteen extra wins per season.
With the lack of stress from losing, they could live to be 110. With conservative estimates of the overage juju, they could squeeze a few more victories, spending their retirement years never experiencing even one loss. That, in turn, would mean fewer strokes and heart attacks, prolonging their lives indefinitely. Think of it: No defeats! No death! Eternal life!
OK, maybe that’s overstating it. But a tiny investment now, and everybody wins later.
Rule 18: The more successful the team, the stronger the juju.
I know what you might be thinking, What is this fool saying? I don’t have kids. I hate kids. Why would I care about kids? What’s in this for me… me… ME?”
First off, you really should be a Yankee fan.
Second, if you’re not rooting for the Yankees now, you may be suffering the consequences without even knowing it.
Reader, answer these questions:
1. Have you ever been shut out of an important meeting?
2. Did you ever learn, after the fact, of a party to which you weren’t invited?
3. Have you ever walked down the hall at work to find colleagues whispering to each other and then, as you drew near, abruptly going silent?
They are Yankee fans, talking Yankee baseball.
Somewhere on Wall Street, Main Street, K Street or Easy Street — a Yankee fan right now is turning the dials on your career. Almost all the big money CEOs root for the Yankees. They can’t help themselves; it’s instinctive. How do you think they made it to the top? By turning their backs on thirteen free wins per year?
Right now, your boss, or your boss’ boss — some pompous Ultimate Yankee Fan gasbag from the world of gated communities, gourmet marshmallows, and Tibetan nannies — hungers to discuss the clutch-hitting legacy of Yogi Berra with a lunch-bucket underling just like you. That is, if you’re of the pinstriped cloth. The chance for some Yankee chitchat attracts the VIP mind in the way a dangling yellow ribbon of sticky tape beckons to a housefly.
Ever hear the term “yes man?”
Ever wonder why it’s called the “YES Network?”
I sense some readers bristling, perhaps violently, over my good-faith call to join the Yankee self-help movement. You vow to remain loyal to your favorite Marlin, the one everyone calls “Mr. Marlin,” or the “Marlin Clipper,” or “the Pride of the Marlins,” and it infuriates you to think of “Donnie Marlin” or “Stan the Marlin” ever signing with the hated Yankees.
Listen: This isn’t about hometown loyalty. It’s about pro athletes with short careers. Any ballplayer seeking to turn his children into trust funds will flee to Los Angeles or New York before you can say “seven years, ninety mil, no-trade clause and complementary skybox.” Yes, your Labrador retriever loves you, but when the neighbor offers porterhouse, don’t expect him home for kibble. And when he strays, don’t blame the dog. Join him! The steaks are on the grill, and that’s not Alpo, brother!
As a Yankee fan, you’ll follow not only your lineup of millionaire stars, but also the high-maintenance actresses and emaciated-yet-busty supermodels they date in public. You can read about their sexual exploits in the grocery store checkout line. You can regale small market fans with your worldly insights and insider knowledge.
You’ll project Yankee pride into every conversation. The pheromone scent of juju will boil up from your swaggering Yankee fan frame. You’ll be Pamela Anderson in a room of Olive Oyls, Springsteen in a hall of Eddie Rabbits. You will be Gotham. You will be Wall Street. You will be Trump, Murdoch, Soros — Steinbrenner!
And your juju will grow in size — by thirteen extra wins per season!
Unless, that is, you’re a Phillies fan.
In that case, make it seventeen!
Hart Seely’s memoir, The Juju Rules, or How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch is now available.