6 odd baseball rituals

So many sports fans have them – the rituals, failsafes, and crossed-finger methods intended to ensure that their team goes on to victory. A favorite jersey worn on game day, leaving or entering the room at the right time, sitting in the right chair – all are methods diehards believe will turn the tide in a game. Writer Hart Seely, a serious New York Yankees fan, has collected a wealth of such rituals and traditions in his new book 'The Juju Rules.' Here are six examples from his book.

1.Phil Rizzuto and Utica

Seely remembers broadcaster and former New York Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto frantically talking about the city of Utica when the Yankees were at bat. "Phil Rizzuto made it a point never to switch topics during a Yankee rally," Seely wrote. "He might be recounting a recent trip to Utica, a story with no remote connection to the game." Seely would listen to Rizzuto talk as long as needed about the city, with local restaurants or other landmarks making occasional cameos. "Later, if the Yankees needed a run, he'd resurrect the Utica trip, just to see if any magic remained in the tank." 

A juju chair

By Michael Popp

Seely waged major warfare with Duke, a friend and co-worker from Newburyport, Mass. who was a diehard Red Sox fan. Whenever they watched a game together, Seely and the Duke would battle for the privilege of sitting in the "lucky chair" – a title that didn't stay with one chair over time, but was simply whichever chair one of them sitting in while his team had the lead. If the Yankees were leading and Seely went to the bathroom, he would often come back and find the Duke sitting in his chair, looking triumphant. The only retaliation conceivable to Seely? Take the chair back by force. "We fought three-hour wars, collapsing the armrests and opening huge wounds in the upholstery," Seely wrote. 

Don't harm your TV

Seely says that while many people will throw things or yell at the TV, he embraces a non-violent attitude when it comes to his machine. "Don't hit her," he advises. "Don't unplug her.... moreover, do not subject your TV to verbal threats or ridicule. It's not her fault that your team lost. She's doing the best she can."

Yelling as a distraction

By D.L.

Many fans in the stadium try to yell insults at crucial moments to distract the other team. Seely says this is pointless. "However witty we think they are, our verbal attempts to distract opposing players usually fail," he wrote. "Short of running shirtless onto the field with your teenage son and physically attacking the first-base coach (as two White Sox rooters did in 2002), few fans ever get to create an actual game-changing distraction. Yelling just doesn't cut it. To the pro athlete, cheering – especially organized cheering – is factory noise."

Finding a lucky spot

By Dubravko Sorić

Seely says that if a fan is involved in some sort of action when something good happens in a game – for example, standing at a certain spot in front of the TV waving a Yankees commemorative salt shaker – the best way to respond is by keeping your discovery under wraps. "Calmly pretend nothing happened," he instructs. "Note precise time and body placement; relocate saltshaker to a secure place, keeping encrypted records to ensure a perfect re-creation of said event in the postseason, or whenever necessary."

Baseball players' traditions

Jim Palmer, former right-handed pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles By Keith Allison

Seely noted that many baseball players have personal traditions that they believe ensure victory. Former Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals player Larry Walker – who sported number 33 on his jersey – batted third, chose the third nozzle for showering, set alarms so they would go off at three minutes after the hour, and swung his bat three times before any pitch. Baltimore Orioles player Jim Palmer ate pancakes before every game, while Tampa Bay Devil Rays player Denny Neagle went to see a movie every time.