Like any rational sports fan, I know the outcome of my favorite team's game rests solely in my hands.
Hygiene, clothing, diet...nothing is safe, but some things are sacred. The following is an intimate look at how I help my teams win.
New York Mets
It's tough to say where this one started, but if I had to pin a date, it would be in the early 1990s when I was at Shea Stadium.
I couldn't have been older than seven or eight, so I had very little control over the situation. Regardless, the Mets were winning big, so my dad decided it was better to beat traffic than to sit through the last two innings.
We listened to good old John Franco blow the game via WFAN on the painful ride home.
I haven't left a game early since, but the superstitions have only gotten worse.
When is the last time I had a member of the Mets on my fantasy baseball team? I couldn't tell you for sure, but my best guess would be Edgardo Alfonzo in 2001.
You see, I have this terrible habit of being the worst fantasy baseball manager in the world—King Midas' polar opposite, if you will.
My players either get hurt or have bad years. Wondering why Adrian Beltre has been so bad the past few years? Look no further. Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez last year? My bad!
Curtis Granderson's broken finger and Kelvim Escobar's arm injury—guilty as charged.
Remember in 2007 when Chris Capuano started 5-0? I traded an apparently-injured Chien-Ming Wang for him in early May (I know I broke the cardinal rule of sell at highest value, buy at lowest).
Capuano finished 5-12. Wang went on to win 19 games. They can both thank me for that.
That, my friends, is why I don't ever have any Mets on my team. Though I may consider drafting Luis Castillo so I can win Richard Marsh's challenge. I pick April 23 for him to play or injure his way out of the lineup.
Back to the superstitions, I only wear my David Wright jersey or drink out of my Mets pint glass on travel days. I only wear a Mets hat after a win.
Of course, once we hit a three-game slide, the rules change. It's no holds barred. I'll rock the Wright jersey, my black-on-black Mets hat, and drink out of my pint glass until they win.
If that doesn't work, I change the combination until it does. Then it's back to square one.
During the first game of the 2006 Division Series, I had to go run an errand when the Mets were up 4-1 against the Dodgers. I put on WFAN in my car with Guillermo Mota on the mound. I was driving down a hill when the static became unbearable.
By the time the audio was clear again, the score was tied, 4-4. I blame myself as much, if not more, than Mota. You better believe I turned the car right around and sat back on the couch to allow the Mets to regain the lead and win the game.
I still haven't figured out how I lost Game Seven of the NLCS against the Cardinals, but I think it has something to do with predicting an Endy Chavez grand slam after "the catch." I got cocky. The baseball gods made me pay.
That's enough sharing of embarrassing secrets about my life as a Mets fan.
Duke Blue Devils (Basketball)
As I mentioned cockiness earlier, the middle name of every Duke fan is "Cocky," whether they admit it or not.
It all started when my family drove from New York to Florida in the summer of 1990. On the way back north, we stopped to visit our friends in Durham. My dad wanted to meet Coach K, who was in a meeting with Grant Hill.
I found a penny in the parking lot and strategically placed it heads-up at center court.
Maybe Mike Krzyzewski won those championships. Maybe his players did. Most likely, it was me.
Recently, the Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbroughs of the world have foiled my ability to guide my Dukies to the promised land, but I can take my share of the blame.
Those early-season 25-point spreads are often too tempting. The low late-season spreads are even more tempting. Forget battling the spread—ask Ryan Brennan how my straight up Duke picks have turned out the past month and a half.
I pick Duke to win, they lose. Simple as that (I won't tell you who I picked for the Sunday matchup at UNC).
I try to just sit and watch the games. I don't wear any of my Duke gear from January through March, for fear of the inevitable.
Trying to control Duke's season is tougher than you might think.
Virginia Tech Hokies (Football)
Game day for the Hokies is much different than for the Blue Devils or Mets. People who have spent time in Blacksburg know how to embrace the Maroon and Orange. I am no different.
Be it Thursday night or Saturday morning, I've got it down pat.
"Get out of our LANE!" t-shirt (2003 Orange Effect!), maroon gym shorts (don't care how cold it is), and my game day VT hat, the only adjustable hat in my collection.
Why does Virginia Tech not go undefeated every season? Again, I get cocky sometimes. My "steal of the week" for the first week of the college football season was Virginia Tech over East Carolina.
I should never bet on my teams, but I always do. It's something I'm working on.
How did Virginia Tech win the Orange Bowl despite me picking them to win? Some Cincinnati fan must be a bigger jinx to his/her team than I am to mine. Praise the college football gods for that one.
I could keep going, but I'm pretty gassed thinking about all the pain and suffering I've caused my teams—I'll keep working on it, and I'll get it right one of these times.
When the Mets win the World Series, the Hokies win the BCS Championship, and the Blue Devils cut down the nets at the Final Four, you'll know I've perfected the art of being a fan.
What are your sports superstitions?