Joe Lavin

October 25, 2005

My Profound Effect on the Red Sox:
The Wait 'Til Last Year Edition

I have a confession to make. This year's Red Sox' playoff loss is my fault. Just as I believed that all my superstitions had something to do with their World Series victory last year, it is obvious that my failure in luck this year was at least partly responsible for their first round sweeping at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.

Last year at this time, I conducted some important and groundbreaking research into the correlation between my behavior and the performance of the Red Sox. As many of you know, baseball players are incredibly superstitious, but they've got nothing on fans. We all have our own little foibles to help get us through the games. Here then from last fall is my report on the luckiness of certain items in my apartment and beyond, along with an update on how they performed this year.

Wise Lightly-Salted Potato Chips - Lucky
2004: The Red Sox have managed to win every game during which I ate these, although there was a bit of a crisis this weekend when my supermarket was out of them. (Perhaps others are onto their secret powers.) I was forced instead to buy Shaw's No-Salt Potato Chips, which pretty much sucked but managed to do the job. I can't wait until the playoffs are over, and I can eat a fully salted potato chip again.

2005: Here, I completely screwed up. Game 1 was an afternoon game, and I didn't have a chance to buy chips beforehand. The result: White Sox 14 Red Sox 2. I recovered the next day and bought the right brand of chips but to no avail. Then, for game 3, I panicked and bought Cape Cod potato chips, mainly because I liked them better. I shouldn't have given up on last year's chip so quickly, and predictably the White Sox won that game too. Three different potato chip scenarios, each resulting in a loss. The non-empirical mind would almost suspect that this shows I have no impact on the games whatsoever, but of course we all know better than that.

Fruits and Vegetables - Unlucky
2004: Notice how healthy foods are never considered to be lucky. Have you ever heard of lucky broccoli? No, that would just be ridiculous.

2005: This fall, I've been eating healthier, trying to have five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, which is exactly where I went wrong. This may well be the single most compelling reason for this season's lackluster results.

Beer - Lucky
2004: Here's Johnny Damon in February on his off-season workout regimen: "I barely touched the weights, did a couple of push-ups here and there. I'm gaining weight the right way. I'm drinking beer." Considering that he has gone on to have one of his best seasons, the beer plan obviously worked. Beer: could it be the new steroid?

2005 - I had just as much beer this year, and I'm pretty sure Johnny did too, and yet they still lost. I can't figure out what went wrong here. More empirical study is definitely needed.

Lunar Eclipse - Lucky
2004: During the middle of game four, there was actually a lunar eclipse, an event surpassed in rarity only by the Red Sox winning the World Series later that same night.

2005: I tried my best to get some help from Harvard astronomers on this one, but no one was able to bring about another eclipse, thus leading directly to a crushing defeat for the Red Sox. Frankly, I can't take all of the blame on this one. Those astronomers just weren't able to step up. I've consulted with some sports radio callers, and we've all decided that the astronomers need to be fired.

Cadavers - Lucky
2004: This is the craziest story ever. Curt Schilling almost didn't make his last two postseason starts because of a dislocated tendon in his ankle. The Red Sox doctors responded by stitching this tendon to his skin to prevent it from moving during the game, an untried procedure so radical that they first had to test it out on a cadaver. Yes, thanks to that cadaver, Schilling, the Red Sox, and his bloody sock went on to beat both the Yankees and Cardinals, making this the all time luckiest cadaver ever.

2005: Here then is another problem: the complete lack of a lucky cadaver on this year's roster. Although one could argue that most of the pitchers in the bullpen were essentially cadavers this year, certainly few of them were lucky or good. The message is clear. This off-season, the front office must sign some impact free agent cadavers, and do it before the Yankees sign them first.

The Chicago White Sox - Unlucky
2004: Not Applicable

2005: It would seem that the White Sox are a damn good baseball team this year. As important as my actions are, there does remain the possibility that the excellent play of the White Sox might have actually had more to do with their victory than my superstitions did. Of course, I don't really believe such bunk, but as scientists it is important always to keep an open mind.

For the original column click here.

©2005 Joe Lavin

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