When the Astros started their ten game winning streak people on twitter and other social media started talking about what they would have to keep doing or continue not doing to keep the streak alive. Once a team starts winning you'll be hard-pressed to find a group of fans or players that don't have some superstitious thing that they are convinced is the reason the team is still winning or not winning. Whatever it takes to keep the streak alive, right?
There are some superstitions that are simply baseball tradition at this point, for example, not talking about a no-no while one is happening. Of course, there are those who delight in screaming, "Look, he's got a no-hitter going!" just so they can claim ownership of breaking it up. Don't believe me? Jump on twitter the next time Bumgarner's got a no-hitter into the 7th like the other night. The noise around fans "cursing" it is ear-splitting.
If you're a player and your pitcher has a perfect game going, you don't talk to him. At all. Not a word. Accidentally say something and you are solely responsible should he blow that perfect game.
Hall of famer Wade Boggs had many superstitions. He ate the same meal before every game - fried chicken. I don't think it's a coincidence that his Twitter handle is @ChickenMan3010. That wasn't Boggs only superstitious routine. When he would approach the plate he used his bat to write the word chai in the dirt. Chai is the Hebrew word for life. His level of commitment to his superstitions and routines meant he took batting practice at exactly 5:17pm and would field exactly 150 ground balls during warmups. That takes some serious commitment.
Who's to say that Boggs' routines didn't do the trick? He had a lifetime batting average of .328 and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Something was working.
Joe DiMaggio always made sure his foot touched second base on his way out to centerfield and Mark McGwire wore the same protective cup from high school through his sixteen years in the majors. Yes, you read that right.
I like to watch players hop the baseline when taking the field. I'm not sure that disrupting the chalk will have any effect on the outcome of a game, but there's something reassuring about seeing your favorite players not tempt fate.
Most players have some sort of routine for when they step into the batter's box - swing, swing, tap the bat in the dirt, tap the dirt from the cleats, swing, swing. Odds are you can think of at least a handful of things you see with players you watch with any regularity.
How many of us know exactly what Astros player always wore a batting helmet covered in pine tar?
I'll give you a hint. He's in the Hall of Fame and his name rhymes with Waig Wiggio. I don't question the methods of a player that has a 3060 hit career.
Charlie Kerfeld wore a "lucky" Jetson's cartoon t-shirt under his uniform on days he was on the mound and asked for 37 boxes of orange jell-o when he was signed. I've never seen confirmation that the jell-o was about superstition, I just choose to believe no one is that odd.
Moises Alou never wore batting gloves. He's not completely unique in that, but to toughen his hands up he would urinate on them. Superstitious? Perhaps. Regardless, the three years he spent in Houston were good ones - hitting .312, .355 and .331.
Five games into the Astros ten game winning streak, I realized that I had not watched any of those five games on an actual television. I'd watched on my phone, my computer and my iPad. I wasn't about to change that five games into a hot streak. When your team is hot, keep doing what you're doing, right? It's not like I decided not to change my clothes or not shower or anything like that.
Players aren't the only ones who resort to superstition to keep a streak alive. Fans don't want to take the blame for a team's win streak ending or a losing streak continuing. Who among us hasn't donned a rally cap in order to help the Astros get something going late in a game where they're down? I believe that having a player at the plate wearing high socks helps that rally get going.
Fans think walking into the same entrance at the ballpark is lucky, wearing a particular shirt will help the team along, drinking or eating the same beer. I had a friend once give up watching the Astros because he'd not watched a couple of games that the Astros won and he didn't want to be the reason for the next loss. (That happened two seasons ago, so he didn't have to wait long to be able to watch baseball again.)
I'm generally not one to believe in superstitions and I like to think of them more as traditions, relieving them of any magical powers. But there is something to be said for what your mind believes and the power that has on your performance.
No one said it better than Crash Davis. "I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak. If you believe you're playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you wear women's underwear, then you are!"
Well, that ten game winning streak was fun, but it's over. There's a new streak going at Minute Maid Park, but certainly one of these superstitions will help the Astros break out and start the winning again.
What are your baseball superstitions? What will you do to help the Astros keep a winning streak alive?