Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jim Joyce and the Jinx

"Si se puede!" -- UFW rallying cry (that Obama jacked later)
"No Pudimos!" -- Jim Joyce, June 2, 2010

On my way home from work yesterday evening, I noticed an interesting message on my TweetDeck. A Twitter pal of mine posted the following message:

@NameRedactedToProtectTheQuasi-Innocent: Before this season, there were 18 perfect games in 135 years. 1 every 7 1/2 seasons. Galarraga is 6 outs away from the 3rd PG this season.

This is what us die-hard sports fans know as a "jinx." And before you bombard me with requests (Tiger Fans) to know who, in fact, issued this hex on Armando Galarraga (before the blown call and after) I will never give up my sources. I have too much integrity to do that. Plus I dont want to lose precious Twitter followers. But I digress ...

I've seen too many jinxes to relegate the phenomenon to sheer superstition and coincidence. Athletes at the very apex of athletic performance are under the constant threat of jinxes undoing their historical achievements. They can engage in jinx-blocking, such as the antics of caricaturish chicken-sacrificing Pedro Cerrano all they want. The fact of the matter is, with history, gravity, circumstance, and all else against you, the jinx is the little extra boost that keeps the asterisk from appearing next to your name when all is said and done.

How many times has the announcer chimed in with an esoteric and marginally important statistic only to watch the streak in question end before she/he can finish the sentence?

How many times have you exhorted in wonder as you witness a historic athletic performance happening, as if you are the first genius to notice it (when actually, all of your other friends are following jinx etiquette and keeping their mouths hushed!) and then just like that, it's over. And then all of your friends look at you the way Big Perm looked at Smokey countin' out $200 in Friday.

And if you're an athlete, how many times has your teammate or coach looked over to you, whispered how close to greatness you are, and on the ensuing possession dribbled the ball off his shoe/dropped a lazy pop fly/or fumbled to fulfill Cleveland's history as Heartbreak City?

I watched the final inning once I got home. I didn't know what would happen to prevent Galarraga's perfect game, but I knew beyond the shadow of all doubt something would.

It's Detroit, anything could have happened.

The sound of the doors shutting down at Mercury could have distracted Galarraga, forcing him to hang a curve.

Galarraga could've been Artested by a beer cup.

Shots coulda rang out because Benzino gave The Detroit Tigers 2/5 mics this year, leading to a fan-athlete n#@$a moment.

In the end, Jim Joyce made what is being called one of the worst missed calls in umping history. No matter. He couldn't have helped but. Because tens of thousands of people across the country probably started jinxing Galarraga after 5 1/3.

And ... it's Detroit. The whole damn city seems jinxed right now, why should Galarraga have have it any different?

nota blacke: have not yet seen the transcript, but I heard that immediately after the game, Arizona governor Jan Brewer issued a statement thanking Jim Joyce for his efforts. With Joyce's missed call, Brewer now drops to second place in the category of "White Folks Associated with Denying Opportunities for Hispanics in America."

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Oh yes, sports jinxes are indeed real. I can't tell you how many times I've mentioned a guy shooting a free throw is a 90% shooter and you couldn't ask for a better guy at the line and he promptly clanks the next one.

Hell, NSU CF Oscar Garcia only struck out 12 times in 232 at bats (an absurdly low number for those who don't know) and on two of them, I mentioned, with two strikes of course, what a difficult guy he is to strike out. On both occasions, the VERY NEXT PITCH, he struck out.