Bad Luck or a Jinx? The Story of One Baseball Fan

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Bad Luck or a Jinx? The Story of One Baseball Fan
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

My family got a package of Astros tickets this year: 10 games (plus we got one extra set). However, the primary problem with this is I do not particularly care for the Astros. So, most of the games we attend to see the other team.

I am a huge Cardinals fan, and three games against the Cardinals are included in our custom set. We went to games Monday and Tuesday night, and the Cardinals got crushed both nights. This leads me to one theory that has come to my family’s mind frequently: I’m jinxed.

Now I am not generally a person who believes in jinxes, but this may be a special case.  As far back as I can remember, the team I rooted for has lost when I see them in person.

I didn’t always keep a score book, but I have memories: When we lived in Pittsburgh, I saw Jeff Suppan lose a no-hitter in the seventh on a misplayed double that resulted in the Pirates scoring the only run of the game.

Or there was time I saw Randy Johnson mow through the Pirates in two hours...losing 2-0. However, I finally decided to test my theory. I went back through five years worth of score book pages from games I’ve attended.

Now, when you wonder about what “team I root for” means specifically, it is not one specific team. For some reason or another, I have developed a complex hierarchy of teams to root for. I doubt it’s OCD, but more of a “I have this random urge to make lists.”

In any case, there are basically five teams I will go out of my way to see. In the order I’d root for them, they are: Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, and Arizona Diamondbacks (although, I must admit, the last three fluctuate; however, I almost never see those three play each other, so it’s good).

Now, you may be tempted to say, “Well, there’s your problem, Theo. You put the Orioles at No. 1, and you have the Nationals on your list.” Yes, even though I’m more of a pitying Nationals-sympathizer, I suppose that could be a problem.

But, in any case, I’m now determined to follow up on my research. And, by the way, these are only the games I’ve seen in the last five years. I do not have any readily available record as to the games from before five years ago, but rest assured, my teams lost quite a bit.

 

Game One: Orioles at Braves, Final Score: 1-8

My team: Orioles. Venue: Turner Field

In this one, the O’s were no-hit for four innings, and went 5-for-32 with no walks. The Braves, meanwhile, recorded 13 hits and 1 walk. The pitching matchup was Rodrigo Lopez versus John Smoltz.

That pair is so mismatched it’s not funny. This was during the height of the Orioles’ “Crappy” Phase. I also have as a note that Smoltz moved into 27th on the all-time strikeout list.

 

Game Two: Orioles at Braves, Final Score: 3-10

My team: Orioles. Venue: Turner Field

The O’s started strong, with a single, a home run, and another single. However, they would only manage five more hits the rest of the game. The pitching matchup was more evenly matched, with the Orioles going to Kris Benson, and the Braves sending Horacio Ramirez to the mound (“evenly matched” does not necessarily mean “good”).

For another stark contrast between the two teams, both used one pinch hitter. The Braves went with Chipper Jones, who you may have heard of (it was his night off, I guess). The Orioles used Ed Rogers.

I can’t honestly say I don't know who Ed Rogers is. On a different note, this 2006 game marked the first time I saw Nick Markakis, who is now one of my favorite players. He went 1-for-4.

 

Game Three: Cardinals at Braves, Final Score 3-5

My team: Cardinals. Venue: Turner Field

There was a long rain delay in this one. This was the day after the Orioles game, meaning this is a 2006 game. I’m not sure whether to qualify that as a bad year. The Cards had their worst record in a while, but they won the World Series. But still, this was an 83-win team.The starters were Anthony Reyes and John Smoltz. Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen, two of my favorite players, went 2-for-4 (2B, HR) and 0-for-4, respectively.

 

Game Four: Brewers at Diamondbacks, Final Score 1-8

My Team: Diamondbacks. Venue: Bank One Ballpark

This marks the only game I’ve seen in Arizona. This marks the first win I’ve seen in my score books, so my record is at 1-3. The D-Backs got 13 hits off of Chris Capuano and the Brewers’ bullpen, while the Brandon Webb-led D-Backs kept the Brewers to 8 hits (Webb allowed 6 of those in 7 innings).

 

Game Five: White Sox at Orioles, Final Score 13-11

My team: Orioles. Venue: Camden Yard

Both teams batted around in an inning once. The pitching matchup was Jon Garland against James Johnson (whoever he may be). Nick Markakis went 4-for-5 with two doubles. This puts my record at 1-4, or slightly better than the Royals.

 

Games Six: Nationals at Orioles, Final Score 7-4

My team: Orioles. Venue: Camden Yard

Ever since the Nationals moved to Washington, I’ve sort of followed them. It probably has to do with the fact I used to live in Washington. However, I am more of a fan of the Orioles (this is because there were no Nationals when I lived in Washington).

So, I guess the universe thought it would just be funny if the team I liked more lost, dropping my record down to 1-5, which is just better than the Nationals. The pitching matchup was Micah Bowie versus Daniel Cabrera, and I apologize if just reading those two names felt like a waste of your time.

I will try to write only notable pitchers from here out. This also marked the first game I saw live in which Markakis batted higher than eighth in the order. He responded by going 0-for-4.

 

Game Seven: Diamondback at Yankees, Final Score 1-7

My team: Yankees. Venue: Yankee Stadium

I sure see a lot of interleague games. I remember siding with the Yankees for this one, mostly because I was in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees responded by outhitting the Diamondbacks 12 to 5. Andy Pettitte went 8 innings to Doug Davis’ 5, and my teams’ record improved to 2-5, or back into Royals territory.

 

Game Eight: Diamondbacks at Braves, Final Score 12-6

My team: Diamondbacks. Venue: Turner Field

This is probably one of the most memorable games I have ever witnessed in person. I had come to dislike the Braves, between their penchant of beating up on teams I wanted to see and the tomahawk chop, so watching Micah Owings single-handedly demolish them was rewarding.

Owings threw seven three-hit innings (all solo home runs), while going 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs, 4 runs, and 6 RBI. My teams are now to a respectable (in the sense it at least looks like they’re trying) 3-5 record.

 

Game Nine: Cardinals at Astros, Final Score 1-6

My team: Cardinals. Venue: Minute Maid Park

And this is where it goes downhill, with the Cardinals being three hit in seven innings by Brian Moehler. Braden Looper, meanwhile, gave up eight hits in six innings. Pujols went 0-for-4. My record: 3-6.

 

Game 10: Reds at Astros, Finals Score 2-6

My team: Neither. Venue: Minute Maid Park

I believe these tickets were a gift. In any case, I got to enjoy this game without watching one of my teams embarrassing themselves.

 

Game 11: Diamondbacks at Astros, Final Score 0-3

My team: Diamondbacks. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Randy Johnson is probably my favorite pitcher of all time, and I got to see him in his pursuit of 300 wins. This would not be one. After a rough first inning with a Ty Wigginton three-run homer, he would pitch six more scoreless innings.

Roy Oswalt, however, threw an eight inning, 10 strikeout, one hitter. This lowers my teams’ record to 3-7 in my presence.

 

Game 12: Cardinals at Astros, Final Score 0-3

My team: Cardinals. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Todd Wellemeyer allowed one run over seven innings, but Wandy Rodriguez got the win, even after leaving in the sixth with arm pains. Albert Pujols did go 2-for-4, though. My record has become a pitiful 3-8.

 

Game 13: Cubs at Astros, Final Score 4-1

My team: Neither. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Opening Day was included on our package for this year. As a Cardinals fan, I really didn’t care who won this one.

 

Game 14: Brewers at Astros, Final Score 2-3

My team: Neither. Venue: Minute Maid Park

More free tickets from someone. I remember feeling bad for Manny Parra, though. He pitched much better than winner Russ Ortiz.

 

Game 15: Rangers at Astros, Final Score 5-0

My team: Neither. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Brandon McCarthy threw a complete game. I’m not a Rangers fan, but I did have a bet going they would sweep the Astros, which I won.  

 

Game 16: Nationals at Astros, Final Score 13-2

My team: Nationals. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Adam Dunn missed second in the first inning. That is the first time I’ve seen something that bizarre happen in a game in person. It was definitely a lucky break for Mike Hampton. Craig Stammen threw a complete game. The funny part is I had accepted for the game the Nationals would lose, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Little did I know that I would be watching one of the rarest events this season—a Nationals win! My teams are, at this point, 4-8.

 

Game 17: Cardinals at Astros, Final Score 2-3

My team: Cardinals. Venue: Minute Maid Park

Brian Moehler went six and a third and allowed six hits and both runs, while Kyle Lohse went seven innings with five hits and three runs allowed. Pujols went 1-for-3 with a walk.  My team loses again, and my record takes a dive to 4-9.

 

Game 18: Cardinals at Astros, Final Score 6-11

My team: Cardinals. Venue:Minute Maid Park

This would be Tuesday night. It also happened to be a Wellemeyer-Rodriguez rematch. I don’t have anything witty to say about this one. The Cardinals just played horribly all around. Pujols went 1-for-4.

 

So, in the last five years, my teams are 4-10. That’s a .285 winning percentage, or actually worse than the Nationals (I had been joking until now). The jinx theory is looking pretty likely. I guess it’s surprising I’m also not a Mets fan. I suppose it could be worse: if I were a Cubs fan, I’d probably be double-jinxed.

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