For the most part, I don't believe in jinxes. I don't believe that the city of Buffalo or the Buffalo Bills are cursed or jinxed from winning. I'm growing to hate the "God hates (insert rust belt city) sports" meme that seems to be more and more popular these days.
Of course, I do believe in jinxes. I believe that the second you say "Wow, this game's moving pretty fast" is when you're begging for it to turn into a 6-hour, extra-inning marathon. I believe that the second you say "Man, the weather's great. I can't believe the rain missed us!" is when a cold front swoops in and it pours. It's a belief that was emboldened in my days as a baseball writer.
No, of course I don't really believe that one person's words can make a baseball game change course or the weather to change. It's more for fun than anything else.
I will now go outside, turn around three times and spit.
More than any other sport, baseball lends itself to jinxes and curses. And there's no more powerful one than not mentioning a no-hitter or perfect game while it's in progress. I saw this last week on Twitter, when CC Sabathia had a perfect game going for the Yankees against the Mariners. Several writers mentioned this and apparently were immediately inundated with fan complaints that they were jinxing the perfect game.
I've always thought this is nonsense. I have no problem with the clubhouse/dugout tradition of not mentioning it. That's fine. I have problem if fans do it either. But to me, reporters and broadcasters have an obligation to the audience and to the truth, not to baseball superstition. Imagine if Sabathia had a perfect game going and no one mentioned it. How mad would fans be that they weren't told about this chance to see history?
Part of this lore, I think, comes from the fact (if we are to trust Wikipedia) that neither Red Barber nor Mel Allen mentioned the fact that Don Larsen was throwing a perfect game during the game itself.
I took this issue to three baseball media members I trust. Here are there answers:
"We have a duty to report the news, good-bad-indifferent. We are not part of the game. We are not in the superstition business. If a guy has a no-hitter going or a perfect game going, that's news. You're obligated to report it. If you don't, you're bereft in your duties.
"For fans to think that TV-radio announcers or tweeting newspaper men are impacting the game is utterly ridiculous. If a no-hitter is broken up, it's because a guy made a bad pitch or a hitter put a good swing on a ball. Someone talking about it had nothing to do with it.
"I get castigated on Twitter about this ALL THE TIME every time I mention a no-hitter is going. It's absolutely baffling to me. I expect people who follow the media to have a small modicum of understanding of my job. I'm still hopeful that if I didn't mention it, for every person who was happy I kept it quiet, there would be 10 who were really PO'd at me. But a lot of times I wonder."
"In 7 years of minor-league broadcasting, I called two no-hitters. I spoke about both while they were going on, even offering historical perspective (e.g. last no-hitter by the team, last no-hitter in the league). If I jinxed a pitcher working on a no-hitter, I'd wonder how he heard me and why he was focused on what I was saying rather than what was going on in the game. Also, as a broadcaster, it's your responsibility to let fans know what's going on in the game. This is especially true in the minors, where there is little to no information about an in-progress game from sources other than the radio broadcast."
"I'd love to know where it comes from in terms of media involvement, but I guess like everything it's a byproduct of a 24/7 news access cycle. ... I'll say this: John Sterling, who has been accused of being earth's most shameless homer, always lets fans know if a guy's got a no-no after the fifth inning. Even the other night, when CC was perfect. I'm speeding toward the stadium just in case and he's telling listeners 'Call your friends and tell em to listen cause CC is perfect thru 6.' Michael Kay is the same way. And the Mets primary announcers - Gary Cohen on TV, Howie Rose on radio - both know well that the team has never pitched a nono so if a Met has one as early as the third inning they may mention it. It was never a problem for scribes of course, since what we wrote would already have happened.
But Twitter has changed that. Now as real-time correspondents, if we 'jinx' a pitcher we hear about it. In traffic the other day, I tweeted 'CC might no-hit the awful Mariners right-hannded, but to throw a perfecto he might want to stick to lefty.' Some went nuts on me. I later followed as a joke with "My tweet didn't jinx CC, my getting in the car and driving to the stadium did."I don't think that soothed the afflicted.
I do get it tho: people believe what they want to believe."