As previously mentioned, the Seattle Mariners pulled off a Shabbos no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. The starting pitcher came out with an injury after six innings of not allowing a safety; a parade of five relievers finished the job and the mariners came away with a 1-0 win. This comes a week after Johan Santana pitched the first no-no in New York Mets history.
As if often the case following such an event, there were some media reports about the time-honored tradition (superstition) of not mentioning a no-hitter in progress, lest it jinx the pitcher.
Believe in them or not, such hoodoos are a part of sports. If you’re team is doing something special, you don’t change your behavior. You don’t get up to get a snack or go to the bathroom. You don’t change your position on the sofa. I was watching that Santana game as my wife came home from work as the game progressed and he still hadn’t allowed a hit, I forbade her from coming in to watch the game.
Of course there are those who will tell you such precautions are nonsense. Ken Levine, who used to call Mariners’ games on the radio, wrote this piece on his blog about whether it’s proper for the TV/radio people to mention what’s happening at the time.
People, let’s get REAL.
Announcers can’t “jinx” the outcome of a baseball game. That responsibility is YOURS. If you’re watching a no-hitter and get up from the couch to get a beer you alone will cost the pitcher his one chance at immortality. If you scratch your nose during warm-up tosses or answer an odd number of emails during an even numbered inning the entire game will change.
So don’t blame us announcers. It’s not our fault. Nor is it the players who play the game. Or the umpires whose decisions control the game. Nor is it the official scorer who must rule on judgment calls. It’s YOU. All YOU. Especially you who ate mixed nuts during the game and didn’t eat all the cashews last. How could you do that to your team?
Many broadcasters will find ways around the situation by remaining mum as the camera takes a shot of the scoreboard, with all its zeroes, or say something along the lines, “Santana has not allowed a batter to reach base by means of a base hit.”
For more on baseball superstitions, I recommend Hart Seely’s interesting new book, The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed.