In baseball, experts believe superstition and ritual pop up most often around tasks where players have the least control. Batters and pitchers often develop elaborate preparation routines, in part because their success often depends on random factors such as where a fly ball lands or whether the batter anticipates a pitch correctly. Anthropologist George Gmelch once wrote of a pitcher who insisted on washing his hands after every inning in which he gave up a run.Yeah, but how does that account for the live rooster needed to take the curse off of Jose's glove?
Fielders, by contrast, maintain few rituals—perhaps because a pro player's success in fielding a ball is so high.
"Unlike hitting and pitching, a fielder has almost complete control over the outcome of his performance," Gmelch wrote in a 2000 article called "Baseball Magic." "He knows that, in better than 9.7 times out of 10, he will execute his task flawlessly. With odds like that there is little need for ritual."
Friday, October 3, 2008
Some smart folks have figured out what superstition is all about, and make what sounds like a pretty astute observation: