Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to Jinx a No-Hitter

There is no stronger force in all of baseball than the no-hitter jinx, exceeding even such traditional powers as Clubhouse Chemistry and The Will To Win. Follow these steps closely if you wish to use the power of the jinx to halt a pitcher's no-hit bid:
  • Be in the vicinity of a no-hitter.
  • Mention it aloud within the hearing of true believers. Social media works, too.
That no-no won't stand a chance.

And now, a Devil's Advocate position.
If you believe in no-hitter jinxes, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Can anyone jinx a no-hitter? Example: You're at the office. Max Scherzer's throwing a no-hitter in the eighth inning. You call up your brother and tell him, "Quick, turn on the Nats game -- Max Scherzer's got a no-hitter going in the eighth." Scherzer immediately gives up a hit. Did you jinx it or did someone else? (Note: Max Scherzer threw two no-hitters this year, on June 20th and October 3rd. During each one, I told everyone I knew to start watching. Discussion questions: Was Scherzer unjinxable? Also, now that the Mets are in the World Series, does that make the Nats' disappointing season more palatable?)
  2. Can a broadcaster jinx a no-hitter? Example: A broadcaster is calling a game. He/she says something foolish, like "Clayton Kershaw has a no-hitter in progress." Kershaw promptly allows a hit. Did the broadcaster jinx him?  (Note: In 2013, I called three no-hitters and mentioned the word "no-hitter" each time. It had no effect. Vin Scully has called three perfect games and 20 no-hitters and liberally told his audience that they were listening to a no-hitter in progress in each one, including four no-nos by Sandy Koufax and a Kershaw no-hitter in 2014. Discussion questions: Can a broadcaster gain karmic immunity from jinxes? What would Vin Scully's karma even look like?)
  3. Can a fan present at the ballpark jinx a no-hitter? Example: You're sitting with your family, enjoying a fine performance by Hisashi Iwakuma against the Baltimore Orioles. You're all well versed in baseball tradition, and so you're staying particularly mum on one aspect of the game. Then, for heaven's sake, your dad points up at the scoreboard and says, "Whoa, he's throwing a no-hitter!" The second the words leave his mouth, Iwakuma gives up a bomb to Chris Davis. Did your dad jinx the bid? (Note: Iwakuma, on the trading block throughout the middle of the season, no-hit the Orioles on August 12th. He finished the season allowing three runs or fewer in eight of his final nine starts. Discussion questions: Are we to believe that not a single fan at that game said one word to his/her companions about a no-hitter? And judging by how thin the Cubs', Blue Jays', Cardinals' and Rangers' starting rotations have looked this postseason, someone really should have tried to trade for Iwakuma, don't you think?)
  4. Can a no-hitter be jinxed on Twitter? Example: You're the beat writer for the Houston Astros. Mike Fiers, acquired from Milwaukee is on the mound and looking strong. After he finishes a hitless sixth, you send out a tweet mentioning that Fiers has a no-hitter in progress. In the seventh inning, the leadoff batter lines a single to left field. How much responsibility should you take in ending the no-no? (Note: Yes, Mike Fiers no-hit the Dodgers on August 21st this summer. No, he wasn't really a factor in the postseason. Eh, it happens. Discussion questions: During every successful no-hitter, do you believe that not a single jinx-worthy tweet was sent out using the word "no-hitter"? Do amount of followers matter from the Tweeter in question? If you had a rather sizable Twitter following, do you possess the same power, more power, or less power to jinx a no-hitter than, say, someone with an egg as their profile pic?
  5. For extra credit, answer the following: What percent of responsibility do you ascribe the Mets' combination of excellent pitching and Daniel Murphy's hot hitting in their four-game NLCS sweep of the Chicago Cubs, and what percent do you give to the Cubs' dreaded Billy Goat Curse?

Bring on Game 1.

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