Playoff baseball: How to keep the mojo flowing for your favorite team (especially if it's the Yankees)
Raul Ibanez is getting a lot of ink about his home run heroics Wednesday night, as is Dave Robertson for his stellar relief pitching. So far, no one has commented on the critical role I played in the Yankees’ dramatic win.
You see, once Ibanez hit his first homer to tie the game, I didn’t change the position I was in so as not to interrupt the positive mojo going on.
Not particularly superstitious
I’m not a particularly superstitious man. I’ll pick up a penny whether its heads up or not and toss it into my coin jar. I blithely step on sidewalk cracks and my mother’s back is fine. Black cats who cross my path usually suffer worse fates than I do.
I will admit that when I was coaching I made a habit of not stepping on the baselines when I went onto the field, although that was usually as much about avoiding messing up the lines that I’d often helped chalk myself than any real superstition.
Superstitious when it comes to the Yankees
But when it comes to the Yankees in post-season play, I can become quite superstitious. So Wednesday night I donned my lucky Thurman Munson shirt (lucky in the sense that I wore it the night the Yankees won the division and again during their first win against the Orioles). And then when the rally started with Ibanez’s pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth, I maintained the position I was in lest I change the luck.
I have been doing this since my brothers and I first noticed the correlation between our positions and Yankee success in the mid-1970s, especially against the Royals in the playoffs. Just to be safe, I’ve followed this rule all along – if the Yankees rally, I stay in that position until the rally is clearly over.
Steps to keeping the mojo flowing for your team
Perhaps you do the same thing with your team. Or perhaps you want to work the same mojo with your favorite team. Here are some tips of how to bring success to your team from your own living room.
1 – Remember that the mojo works primarily only in the post-season, or critical pennant-chase games late in the season (sorry Cubs fans). Regular season games are too fickle, and it would be too time consuming to try to do it for all 162 games.
2 – You can’t force the mojo. You can’t set yourself up in a position and think the mojo will happen. You have to recognize when the mojo starts (like Ibanez’s game-tying homer or for A’s fans, when Josh Reddick singled) then keep the mojo going by staying in whatever position you were in when it started.
3 - Don’t peak too early. The mojo is for legitimate rallies. A bloop single and a sac bunt in the second rarely constitute a rally needing this mojo. It works primarily in the late innings, both for hitting and pitching. On rare occasions a fielding play – such as Derek Jeter’s famous flip play in 2001 – will start the mojo flowing.
4 – Maintain comfortable positions throughout the course of the game, since you never know when the mojo will begin. There’s nothing worse than having a leg or even your whole body in an awkward position when it starts. Last night I was seated comfortably in my recliner, feet up and spread slightly, partially reclined when Ibanez homered the first time. It was a great position for enduring the several innings needed to seal the win. Also make sure you have all the beverages and food you need close at hand should the mojo suddenly start.
5 – Make regular trips to the bathroom throughout the early part of the game. Having a swelling bladder while you’re maintaining your position can be painful and possibly dangerous. I was growing a bit concerned about the need to use the bathroom around the 11th inning last night. When Ibanez hit his game-winning homer, I was relieved both emotionally and physically.
6 – Moving your arms during commercial breaks, or breaks in the action, to lift beverages and food to your mouth, turning your head to speak, using your fingers to text, are all allowable and won’t inhibit the flow of mojo.
7 – Lastly, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough, to maintain proper mojo with your position, you need an understanding and loving wife, who will neither make you move during the rally nor ship you off to a mental institution.
One key thing to keep in mind, though, is don’t try your mojo against the Yankees. Especially not if you’re an Orioles fan.