Ridiculous Rituals of Baseball
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:04
Spring is in the air, which means that baseball is back. Players around the country have come out of their winter hibernation to grace us fans with the spectacle that is America’s national pastime. The return of the game also signals the revival of some of the wackiest superstitions in all of sports.
For starters, the foul line is apparently hallowed ground. Players seem to do everything in their power to avoid stepping on the foul line when going on or coming off of the field. Even the managers are wary of the chalk when making a pitching substitution. It is one of the more noticeable superstitions in baseball. So the next time you are at a game, watch for it.
Another less hygienic superstition is the refusal to shave during a hitting streak or during the playoffs. Jason Giambi made this ritual famous in 2008 as a member of the New York Yankees. Giambi hadn’t shaved for a few days and promptly went on a major hitting streak. He immediately credited his new mustache and kept it growing. The streak continued so Giambi let his mustache thicken. The New York media fueled the craze, and the Yankees’ front office eventually promoted it with a mustached Jason Giambi Bobblehead day.
The concept of a “playoff beard” originated in hockey, but has been adopted by nearly every other major sport including baseball. Many remember in 2010 when San Francisco Giants’ relief pitchers Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo grew playoff beards and refused to shave them off until the season was over. Throughout the remainder of the playoffs, the scruff became popular among Giants fans and the phrase “Fear the Beard” was coined. The Giants went on to win the World Series and both Wilson and Romo continue to sport beards to this day.
Without question, the No. 1 taboo in baseball is talking about a no-hitter as one is happening. If a pitcher is cruising along without having allowed a hit, players and fans alike believe that uttering any reference about the “no-hitter” will jinx it. Moreover, the unwritten rule states that it is essential to stay away from the focused pitcher when he returns to the dugout after each inning of work. This superstition is taken very seriously in baseball, almost to the point of comedy. Teams will make pariahs of their dominant pitcher, shifting to opposite ends of the dugout and leaving him sitting alone with his thoughts before taking the field again.