Cursed Superstition could be cause for Jackets downfall

This is the sad tale of how I single-handedly ruined the Columbus Blue Jackets’ season.Superstition is rampant in the world of sports. Since the dawn of competition, men have invented games and then subsequently subjected themselves to unusual rituals and practices in an attempt to metaphysically improve their performances.The ancient Phoenicians would look to the skies and implore the divine beings in the sun to bless their game of stones. The Greeks who invented the Olympics would lather one another in oil in the exact same way each time they competed in the javelin throw or discus. Gladiators in imperial Rome would salute the Emperor in the hope that his favor would help them to survive the day.And lest you think that superstitious beliefs are limited to ignorant heathens of days long since past, some aspects of our culture remain steeped in irrational superstitions. Why else do people continue to cross the street rather than walk under a ladder, knock on wood or act all wonky on Friday the 13th?Many of today’s most famous athletes have their own quirky, idiosyncratic tendencies.Former Red Sox and Yankees slugger, Wade Boggs, refused to eat anything other than chicken on game days. Pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych used to converse with the baseball in his hand as he prepared to face hitters. NBA superstar Michael Jordan used to wear the powder-blue gym shorts of his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, under his Chicago Bulls uniform for every game.Legend also has it that retired Seattle Supersonic star Shawn Kemp would father an illegitimate child before every road game in hopes of a triple double.These superstitious beliefs aren’t limited to random individuals, either. Nearly every sport worthy of the name has its own set of rituals.Most baseball fans are aware of the fact that it is an absolute no-no to talk to a pitcher who is in the middle of a possible no-hitter. This is the same sport whose athletes refuse to touch the baselines when running on and off the field and attempt to take home the most unattractive girl in the bar when their batting averages dip below the Mendoza line. This is a practice known as “slump busting.”Golfers must start their rounds with an odd number of clubs. Bowlers carry more lucky charms than the leprechaun of breakfast cereal fame. And of course, everyone knows that a fisherman is destined for a bad day if he passes a barefoot woman on the way to the lake.For hockey players, it’s all about the logo.Like the sacred sign that hangs in the hallway outside the locker room of Jesus’ favorite football team, Notre Dame, the logo in NHL dressing rooms is sacrosanct. This was a fact pointed out to me by the Lantern writer who was covering the Columbus Blue Jackets at the time.Because he was unable to cover that night’s game, I drew the job. After covering the basics that I would need to get into Nationwide Arena, he looked at me solemnly and asked whether or not I knew about the logo’s lore. When I responded in the negative, he proceeded to explain the ultimate taboo that is treading on a hockey team’s logo.I made a small mental note but didn’t give it much thought. The hockey game passed by in a flash that night. I was nervous as hell as I waited in the hallway outside the dressing room. Columbus was coming off its first-ever playoff appearance and had compiled a 5-1 record in the early goings of the season. There was joy in the air and the Jackets were the toast of the town.That was all to change.After finishing up a particularly rousing interview with fourth-line left-winger Derek Dorsett, I turned and headed toward captain Rick Nash’s locker. In my haste, I oafishly walked across the Blue Jackets logo woven into the dressing room carpet. I was quickly intercepted by an angry locker room attendant.“Stay off the logo, please,” he said tersely.His prim demeanor lulled me into a false sense of security as I thought I had avoided an embarrassing situation.I caught a hint of movement in my peripheral vision somewhere to my left. I turned to find its source. I was quickly horrified at the realization that it was the movement of a suddenly angry Raffi Torres advancing toward me, his lip curled into a snarl. The fact that he, like most hockey players, does not possess a full mouth of teeth only added to his frightening visage.Eyes cast downward, muttering an apology, I quickly fled to the farthest corner of the dressing room. Heart pounding, I came to the realization that my first sports writing assignment in the locker room of a major sports team had nearly ended in my pummeling at the hands of one of the local players. My budding career was over before it began, for surely no journalist could overcome the public humiliation that would accompany a very public beatdown.At the very least, I would have been resigned to an eternity of covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.The rest is history. The Jackets went on an extended losing streak, fired their head coach and have posted a 26-30-11 record on the season. I’ve often wondered if there was something I could have done to reverse the jinx, like don goalie gear and let them fire shots at me.For now, I’m resigned to the fact that I’m the guy who ruined a franchise’s season. Me and Steve Bartman.

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