23 January 2013

For His Next Trick...

By Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

The commercials are dumb, sure, and I don't even know what crappy beer they're selling so quickly do I shut off my brain when I see them on screen, but there is truth in the 49ers fan sitting in his favorite spot from 1995 and the guys with their labels out for the field goal try. Sports fans are superstitious. We truly believe we have some supernatural ability to alter or influence the outcome of a sporting contest in which we have nothing but a rooting interest. If you are scoffing at me right now, first, stop and second, you are lying to yourselves, because you've done it, maybe not consciously, but you've done it. I can't watch Oakland A's playoff games with my mother. They have never won in the post-season when she is in the room telling me to "be quiet" and "calm down" and "stop yelling at the umpires." My friend Kool Breeze spent large portions of the 1990 NLCS with his pants half off, a ritual he believed helped his Cincinnati Reds during crucial at-bats. You have a superstition, an overt one or a minor one or a hundred of them big and small, but you fear giving it voice, because then it won't work anymore like birthday wishes and genies in bottles.

Fortunately, I am not superstitious about the source of my teams' good fortunes. In fact, I've been talking about it for months.

My infant son C-Bone was born on May 10 of this year. A month later, the Los Angeles Kings, my favorite hockey team, won their first Stanley Cup, culminating a nine-week roller coaster ride I've not often experienced as a sports fan, complete with a child being born between Rounds Two and Three. This was the first championship one of my teams had won since those Steve Young-led 49ers in 1995. That's 17 years. And it wasn't only the first championship in that span, it was the first time since then that one of my teams had even played for the shot.

We celebrated. I dressed him in Kings silver and black. I jammed him into The Cup for a family photo. We watched the parade together. We met with Kings brass.

Kings Governor Time Leiweke, who signed our commemorative newspaper,"(C-Bone), you have no idea."

Ain't that the truth. Yet, at that point, I had not made the connection between the child and the title. I was too busy hating gutless journeyman Mike Smith and the rest of those cry-baby Coyotes. Once that vendetta was salved (at least until the two teams trade many, many blows this week), it was a peculiar coincidence that made me start to think C-Bone was having a positive influence on my teams.

The A's went into the All-Star Break last year at .500. They won six of seven to get even at 43-43. And I remembered the last time they had done that. The year was 2001, the year where they were touted as World Series favorites, only to stumble out of the gate. They needed a mini-run in June and July to get to the break at, you guessed it, .500. 2001 also happens to be the year my other child, AJ, was born. The A's went a ridiculous 58-16 in the second half of that year to easily win the Wild Card (while finishing an absurd 14 games behind the absurd Mariners who won 116 that year), so when the rather unfancied A's got to .500 in 2012--the same year I had another kid!--I jokingly made the observation that they would probably have a ridiculous second half and make the playoffs.

Even though I didn't believe that. But that's exactly what they did, playing .671 ball in the second half  thanks to unforeseeable performances from the likes of Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson and a dozen-plus late-inning heroics to win the AL West. It was sometime in August, with the playoffs within reach, I began to refer to my Magic Baby, who waved his chubby fist--which is covered with saliva and strained carrots--and made my teams good when most wouldn't have thought they had a chance, like the eighth-seeded Kings or the A's team that most had pegged around 70 wins. Of course, I do have good teams that I root for, as well, and Stanford beat Oregon (definitely needed magic for that one) and won the Pac-12 and then the Rose Bowl. In the meantime, I tied for first in my college football pick 'em contest, won an NFL pick 'em pool and tied for first in Pauly's NFL pool, all while Emet chopped her suicide pool three ways (results that would have won the family a total in the four figures were wagering legal).

By this time, the Magic Baby effect was public knowledge, so often did I refer to in on Twitter. I began to get offers to lend the child out for luck (alas, his tour rider is too obscene for even the heartiest fans; also, my wife wouldn't let me). People began to wager (again, if such things were legal) based on the Magic Baby's whims, even though his power is not infallible. The A's, after all, did not win Game 5 against the Tigers, which meant they didn't get a chance to go to the World Series. Of course, the A's are so snake-bitten and cursed in the playoffs (I still blame Jeremy), that this is hardly an indictment of  C-Bone. Some vibrations of the universe can't be overcome (and when Justin Verlander gets to throw at a 27" plate, no Magic anything will overcome that). Though it has been pointed out to me that the San Francisco Giants DID win the World Series and C-Bone's grandparents and Uncle are all fans of that particular (lucky-ass) team, so perhaps it does apply to baseball, just not MY baseball, and dammit the A's really are cursed.

If the A's are beyond supernatural intervention (maybe it's the curse of all those Juicers we had in the '80s), the big question is how long I can continue to count on my Magic Baby to deliver the goods?

I thought maybe we'd see a dip in results after the end of the calendar year, but the 49ers won both playoff games this January and are headed to the Super Bowl. Will it all end on his first birthday and May 10th will send me back into a black hole of sports near-misses and routs? And what will become of Brandon Moss?!?!?

(Brandon Moss will regress; a lot. That's not Magic Baby, that's just science.)

There is no answer for the Magic Baby phenomenon. It will end when the time is right, when the mystical gyrations of the universe fall into a new pattern (remember that one pattern a few years back when Boston won everything? Phew, I'm glad that's over). Until then, we will embrace and enjoy the run and if someone out there reading this gets an idea for a beer commercial starring the Magic Baby, please contact our booking agent.

1 comment:

DrPauly said...

When are we taking C-bone the Magic Baby on his first trip to Vegas?