The 50 Weirdest Superstitions in Sports

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2011

The 50 Weirdest Superstitions in Sports

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    We've all seen it before: A football player who warms up the same way every single game; a basketball player who makes the same motion with his hands before every free throw he attempts; a hockey goalkeeper who knocks his stick against the side posts before every face off. 

    Superstitions and rituals like these have been a part of sports since we started playing them. People have been wondering at the antics of athletes preparing for games for millenniums.

    This list is dedicated to the 50 superstitions and rituals that make us stop, look and say, "Why in the name of Ken Dryden's facemask are they doing that here?!" We've got the odd, the unusual and the downright weird, all in one place. 

    Without further ado, let's get rolling! 

50. Jobu's Rum

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    "Is very bad to steal Jobu's rum. Is very bad." 

    Thank you Pedro. I couldn't have said it better myself. Eddie Harris learned all about this one when he took a bat to the side of the head after pulling this stunt. 

49. Brian Urlacher Loves Cookies

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears awaits the start of play as Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets calls offensive signals at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34.  (Ph
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Brian Urlacher may be one of the NFL's most feared linebackers, but he's got quite a bit in common with a certain blue Sesame Street Muppet: Cookie Monster. 

    That's right, before every game he plays, Urlacher chows down on a pair of chocolate chip cookies. Never more than two, never less. 

    That's it. Who knew the secret to success in the NFL would be so tasty?

48. One Shoe after the Other

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    This one is pretty universal. Almost every professional athlete puts his or her uniform on the exact same way every time. 

    Here's a sample: Wayne Gretzky, widely seen as the greatest player in NHL history, put his pads on in the exact same order every time. Left shin pad, left stocking, right shin pad, right stocking. Then pants, left skate, right skate, shoulder pads, elbow pads, first the left, then the right; and finally, the jersey, with the right side tucked into his pants. 

    And he's not alone: Everyone from baseball players to basketball players (who, typically, have just eight to 10 things to put on) do it. 

47. When You Spit, You Must Kick It

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09:  B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays spits after a strikout against the Texas Rangers during game 3 of the ALDS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Baseball players hock loogies constantly. They spit more than any athlete imagineable. Which makes this superstition so surprising. 

    When a player spits, he's then expected to kick dirt onto it. Failing to do so will bring the dreaded "bad juju" onto the player's arm, glove or bat (you'll see a ton of juju in this article). 

    I do enjoy that rather than not spitting, baseball players have invented a way to make it as sanitary as possible. 

46. Turk Wendell's Necklace

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    What is on that interesting piece of neck art, you ask? Those are real teeth from various animals Wendell has hunted and killed. 

    The long-time reliever may not be alone in his obsession with necklaces that he thinks give him luck, but he might be the only player in baseball to make his own out of teeth. 

    This is the first of many appearances Wendell makes on this list. 

45. Playoff Beards

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    This unique phenomenon started in the NHL, with the New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980s. In it, players and coaches stop shaving their facial hair until they win the Stanley Cup or are eliminated from contention. 

    The superstition has been picked up by baseball and football as well, most notably Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson. 

    Think of it like an itchy, musty security blanket that also catches food for later. Unless you're Sidney Crosby, in which case it makes you look like Freddy Mercury. 

44. Tiger's Red Shirt

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    THOUSAND OAKS, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Tiger Woods hits his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club on December 5, 2010 in Thousand Oaks, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It has become a familiar sight during golf tournaments over the years: Tiger Woods, clad in his red shirt and black pants, striding to take the plate, goblet or cup for winning the event. 

    But why does Woods wear red on Sundays? According to an interview Woods did with David Letterman, he wears the color because of his mother. Momma Tiger told him at a young age that as a Capricorn, his power would be highest when he wore the color, so he saves it for when he needs it. 

    Maybe he should just wear the red shirt all the time now, given his recent performances. 

43. The Ceremony of Swing

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 26:  Nomar Garciaparra #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers prepares to bat against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on July 26, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Once in a while, a player comes along in baseball who defies both logic and reason. Every player in baseball has a routine when they step to the plate to hit, but this person is so meticulous in his preparation for each pitch that his pre-swing antics overshadow his accomplishments as a hitter. 

    Longtime Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and former Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians first baseman Mike "The Human Rain Delay" Hargrove are two of the most notorious dawdlers, but they're far from being alone. 

42. Alex Ovechkin Says "It's Business Time"

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    SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 11: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates with the puck during the overtime period against the Florida Panthers on January 11, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Capitals 4-3 i
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    It was revealed earlier this year that Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin feels he plays his best hockey when he can score before the afternoon before a match. 

    And yes, I did mean that kind of score. Ovie also said he plays really well when he can do the horizontal tango before and after games.

    I feel like we just figured out why Ovie plays so well game in and game out. Look out Wilt Chamberlain. 

41. The Rally Cap

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    Laugh all you want, but turning your hat inside out (or occasionally folding it just so atop your head) works, from the seventh inning on when your team is losing. 

    The origins of this mystical occurrence are shrouded in uncertainty, with three different stories branching from the present. 

    The first places the cap's origin with the Detroit Tigers of the 1940s, who reportedly wore their caps inside-out for no real reason.

    Then, the 1977 and 78 Texas Rangers took up the rallying cry of the cap, flipping their lids during comeback wins. 

    However, the hat didn't receive national publicity until 1985 and 1986, when the New York Mets turned the World Series upside down in the latter year, just by turning their hats inside out. The rest is history. 

    I still practice this superstition, much to my wife's chagrin. Although, typically, she's the only one not doing it. 

40. Crossing the Mound

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 22:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees gestures towards the Oakland Athletics dugout during a verbal altercation with pitcher Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics in the sixth inning at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseu
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    A-Rod and Dallas Braden aside, this one is a major no-no in the world of baseball juju. Pitchers get freaked out when someone who's not a pitcher sets foot on or near their little circle of power. On occasion, it can fluster them so badly that they go into a funk. 

    By the same token, position players tend to avoid the bump, lest they be cursed by a slump. 

    Like I said, baseball players are odd birds. 

39. What? I Like the Smell

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    ST. LOUIS - JUNE 23:  Steve Kline #34 of  the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs on June 23, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    It's pretty commonplace for athletes not to wash a particular article of clothing (undershirt, underwear, socks) during a hot streak. 

    However, in baseball there are pitchers, like Steve Kline here, who never wash, clean or change out their hat. 

    They turn all sorts of colors. You can see the white salt from their dried sweat caked around the brim and, often times, the white parts turn a different color entirely.

    Kline got so famous for doing this that the St. Louis Cardinals held a "Steve Kline hat day" at Busch Stadium, wherein the first 5,000 fans coming to the park got their own pre-funkified hat, in his honor. 

    Sadly, Kline followed his stint with the Cardinals with runs in Baltimore and San Francisco, where the teams' black hats obscured the funk buildup. 

38. Caron Butler and His Dew

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    DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 15:  Forward Caron Butler #4 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on December 15, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is c
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Most players drink sports drinks or water before and during games. But not Caron Butler. 

    The Dallas Mavericks forward downed the hyper-caffinated soda Mountain Dew before and during games. 

    But not a normal bottle. Oh no; when Butler was in college, and as a player for the Miami Heat, he would down a full two-liter bottle of the radioactive-green stuff. 

    He'd down half a bottle before a game and vibrate around the court. Then, when his buzz started to fall off, he'd go in for halftime, polish off the other half and vibrate around court again. 

    Athletes are weird, in case you haven't noticed. 

37. Stephane Lebeau Looooooooves Gum

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    Glenn Cratty/Getty Images

    Lebeau was a highly-touted prospect in the Montreal Canadiens system who never quite panned out. 

    Perhaps it was because of his pregame ritual: Lebeau would chew 20-25 pieces of gum and spit them out exactly two minutes before faceoff. 

    Why did he do this? I have no earthly idea. But with a career high of 31 goals and 80 points in 1992-93, it clearly didn't do much to help him. 

36. No Talking to the Pitcher

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06: Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the ninth inning during his no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Phillies
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Like I said, athletes are weird. And pitchers might be the weirdest of the bunch. 

    To wit: when a pitcher is in the midst of a no-hitter/perfect game, you are forbidden from mentioning it, lest they fall victim to the dreaded jinx. Teammates, announcers, broadcasters, fans; none of them are permitted to bring up the potential accomplishment, the logic being that if the pitcher doesn't know what he's doing, he won't mess it up.

    Most of the time, players are forbidden from even speaking to a pitcher in the midst of a no-hitter. They won't even sit near him. 

    One would think they'd want to stay away when he's pitching like crap, not when he's throwing marbles.

35. What Time Is It?

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    5 Jul 1998:   Wade Boggs #12 of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays swings at the ball during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Sky Dome in Toronto , Canada. The Blue Jays defeated the Devil Rays 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Athletes have strange superstitions about time, as well. They have to get to the stadium at the exact same time for every game, begin batting practice at the exact same time, eat meals at the same time, even shower at the same time. 

    For example, legendary hitter Wade Boggs took batting practice at 5:17 every day. At 7:17? He ran sprints. 

    The scary part is, he's far from being the only one who's that precise. 

34. Free Throw Boogie

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    18 Mar 1999:  Jeff Hornacek #14 of the Utah Jazz signals 'hi' to his kids at home while getting ready to shoot a free throw during the game against the Washington Wizards at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. The Jazz defeated the Wizards 95-87.   Mandato
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    One of the few moments in the NBA when you see truly regimented and ritualistic behavior from the players is at the free throw line. There things boil down to technique and comfort. 

    For some, their routines shooting free throws includes some interesting gestures. Former sharpshooter Jeff Hornacek would brush his right cheek with his hand, while teammate Karl Malone took so long to shoot them that the NBA started enforcing its eight-second free throw clock. 

    Steve Nash licks his fingertips before each shot, Gilbert Arenas dribbles the ball around his waist and former NBA player Bo Kimble, a natural right-handed shooter, shot his first free throw in the 1990 NCAA Tournament left-handed, as a tribute to former Loyola Marymount teammate Hank Gathers. 

33. Steve Finley Likes Minerals

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20:  Steve Finley #12 of the San Francisco Giants watches the flight of the ball as he follows through on his swing during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 20, 2006 in Denver, Colorado.  The Giants won 7-4
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Finley was a journeyman center fielder who bounced around baseball for a remarkable 19 years. How did he manage to produce at a high level for such a long time? 

    If you ask him, it's the minerals. During his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, teammate (and fellow old man in baseball) Craig Counsell gave the center fielder a pouch full of minerals that supposedly helped to protect against "harmful energy intruders that attack our bodies on a daily basis," according to the company that makes the pouches' website. 

    Apparently, it worked well enough to help Finley hit .241 with 77 home runs and 260 RBI in the five years after he got it. 

32. Funky Helmets

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits and RBI single to right field in the top of the eighth inning against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on Oc
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This is kind of like Steve Kline and his hat, but with a twist: Hitters will intentionally coat their batting helmets in dirt, pine tar and loogie. 

    Why loogie? I have no idea. But guys like long-time masher Vladimir Guerrero will put the helmet on the dugout floor and have teammates spit on it at the start of the year, rendering it a lovely molasses brown color, and coating it in a sticky film that looks (and probably smells) foul. 

31. Wade Boggs Loves Him Some Chicken

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    1990:  Wade Boggs #26 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a game in the 1990 MLB season.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Gettyimages)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters in baseball history. He's a career .325 hitter, which is one of the best marks in baseball history, and he hit below .300 all of three times in an 18-year career. 

    How'd he do it? Not with minerals. Instead, Boggs turned to his favorite fowl: chicken. During his 1982 rookie year, Boggs noticed that on days when he ate chicken before a game, he played well. So, from that point on, all Boggs ate before games was chicken. 

    His wife reportedly has close to 50 recipes for how to cook our feathered food, and Boggs never seemed the worse for his one-track diet. 

30. Ecuador's Witch Doctor

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    The Ecuadorian national soccer team decided that talent wasn't enough to guarantee success at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. 

    So they did what any team desperate for an edge would: They turned to voodoo. Tzamarenda Naychapi, an Ecuadorian mystic, traveled with the team to the European nation and said a prayer at each of the 12 stadiums to dispel the evil spirits intent on ruining the team's hopes of World Cup glory.

    Did it work? Well, Ecuador won two games before losing in the second round of the tournament. For Ecuador, that's pretty darned good. 

29. Tark's Towel

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Jerry Tarkanian was the long-time head basketball coach at UNLV. His 990 career wins are the most of any coach across the college ranks and he was integral to UNLV's success in the early 90s. 

    However, what he's best known for in many circles is the towel. Tark began sucking the terrycloth during his time at Long Beach State, when a student manager gave it to him to keep his mouth from going dry.

    After that, it became second nature for him and one of the quintessential moments of the early 90s was formed: The Runnin' Rebels decimating another opponent while Tark the Shark sat on the sidelines sucking nervously on his wet towel. 

28. Larry Walker Brought To You by the Number 3

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    DENVER - JULY 3:  Outfielder Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies swings at a Detroit Tigers pitch during the interleague game at Coors Field on July 3, 2004 in Denver, Colorado.  The Rockies defeated the Tigers 11-6.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Image
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Many times, athletes will have a number they like to have on their jerseys, one they will keep their entire careers.

    Larry Walker, the longtime slugger for the Colorado Rockies, Montreal Expos and St. Louis Cardinals, took things to a wholly different plane. 

    Walker loved the number three. And I mean loved. He set his alarm clock for 33 minutes past the hour, took batting practice in groups of three swings and was married on November (I don't know why November) 3 at 3:33 P.M. He also bought 33 tickets to give to under-priviledged kids during his time in Montreal, to be seated in section 333. On one of his contracts, he asked for $3,333,333.33. And no, I'm not making that up. 

    He's not the only number-obsessed baseball player. Turk Wendell, one of the most superstitious players of all-time, loved the number 99 almost as much as Walker loves three. 

27. Don't Touch His Stuff

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    PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 20:  Goaltender Ed Belfour #20 of the Florida Panthers makes a pad save against the Philadelphia Flyers during their NHL game on March 20, 2007 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Panthers defeated the Flyers 4-
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Ed "the Eagle" Belfour was one of the better goalkeepers in the NHL in the 1990s and early 2000s. He won a Stanley Cup during the 1998-1999 season and finished with an impressive 484 wins in his career.

    Belfour was also a basket case about his gear. Most players are protective of it, but not like the Eagle. Belfour's pads, skates, uniform and stick were off limits, especially in the hours leading up to a game. 

    Eddie sharpened his skates on his own and routinely took his glove apart and put it back together if he didn't make a save. 

    Many players hate their things to be touched, but Belfour might be the worst of the bunch. 

26. Pitchers and Their Relationship with the Mound

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    Pitchers are odd birds. Many times, they're the oddest players on the field. And nowhere is that more clear than in their treatment of the mound. 

    Most pitchers have a love-hate relationship with it. Mark Fidrych, the colorful character for the Detroit Tigers, cleaned it and created little mounds on the mound. 

    Al Hrabosky, also known as "The Mad Hungarian," stomped all around his, slamming the rosin bag into it. 

    Turk Wendell, the Mets reliever, wrote things in the dirt, but would slam the bag into it as well. 

    No one's sure why pitchers do these things; we just shrug most of it off as pitchers being weird. 

25. John Henderson

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    Yeeeah. I've heard of getting amped up for a game, but Oakland Raiders defensive lineman John Henderson has an interesting way of getting himself up for a game. 

    He has trainers and assistant coaches slap him as hard as they can. I won't talk more, just watch him try and go Hulk. 

24. Pelle Lindbergh Loves Pripps

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    Even as a child, this Swedish goalkeeper was prone to obsession over things. He loved the Flyers, and couldn't have been happier to be drafted by them. Once there, Lindbergh developed a need to drink a Swedish beer known as Pripps. It was all he would drink between periods and then he'd only take it if served by a particular assistant coach. 

    In a completely unrelated story, Lindbergh was the first goalie to take a water bottle onto the ice with him, to help battle dehydration. 

23. Wayne Gretzky Loves Baby Powder

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    Dec 1987:  Center Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    He may have been the greatest player in NHL history, but that didn't make The Great One above a little superstition. We've already talked about how much Gretzky obsessed over dressing in the correct order. But he also had to cover the blade of his stick in baby powder. 

    And I mean had to. Some of his teammates would talk about him running around the locker room looking for the stuff, before shaking it onto his stick. 

    And you thought Ed Belfour was bad. 

22. Daniel Briere Gives His Stick a Rest

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 2:  Daniel Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates back up ice in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 2, 2011 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Flyers defeated the Wings 3-2. (Photo by Claus Anderzen/G
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Philadelphia Flyers center Daniel Briere loves his sticks. He loves them so much, he rotates between all three of them over the course of the game. 

    But what if one of them scores a goal or two? Wouldn't he stick with that one, being a superstitious kind of guy? 

    Not quite. If Briere plays extremely well with one stick, he'll give it a break from the rotation, as a reward for doing such a phenomenal job. 

    Because, you know, sticks love positive reinforcement like nap time. 

21. Turk and the Catcher

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    17 Aug 2000:  Pitcher Turk Wendell #99 of the New York Mets looks for the sign during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the Rockies 2-1.Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire  /Allsport
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    In a sport laden with odd folks, Wendell might be one of the strangest. You've seen his name a couple of times thus far on this list, and here he is again. 

    Turk and his catcher always had an interesting relationship. To wit: When the catcher squatted or sat, Wendell was always standing. Doesn't seem too weird, right? 

    But when the catcher stood up, Wendell had to squat until he resumed his typical position. Then, he could go about his business of pitching the ball. 

    I don't know why he did it, but compared to some of the people on this list, Wendell's squats don't seem quite so odd.

20. Patrick Roy Is Talking to Inanimate Objects

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    ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 21:  Goalie Patrick Roy #33 of the Colorado Avalanche can't stop a goal by Marian Gaborik #10 of the Minnesota Wild in game six of the first round of the 2003 Western Conference Stanley Cup playoffs on April 21, 2003 at the Xcel Cente
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Patrick Roy was one of the greatest goaltenders hockey has ever seen. Most goalies see the goalposts as their friends (they keep pucks out of the nets), but that's where it ends. 

    Roy, being the greatest, took things another step further. He admitted to having regular conversations with the posts, almost every night. He talked to them constantly. 

    When asked why, St. Patrick shrugged and said "Because they're my friends." 

    Talking to posts like they're people might sound crazy, but Roy's 315 career wins say otherwise.

19. Sid the Kid Looks For Luck

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 01:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Washington Capitals during the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on January 1, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington won 3-1.  (Photo by
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Jeez, what is it with hockey players?! Even someone as talented as Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby delves deep into the realm of superstition. 

    Crosby has to be the one to tape his stick. If someone touches it after it's taped, he has to do it again. As in, he takes the tape off and re-tapes the entire blade. And when the Pens are on the road, Crosby has to use the tape provided by the host team, not the tape the Penguins bring with them. 

    As if this weren't enough, Crosby eats at the same restaurants in each city. Every time. He also refuses to talk to his mother before a game (the last time he did, he suffered serious injuries in the game that night). 

    Finally, when Sid the Kid is in the car or a bus and the vehicle crosses train tracks, Crosby takes his feet off the floor and touches glass somewhere in the car. 

    Although, given the tear he was on before getting hurt this season, perhaps everyone in the NHL should try it. 

18. Barry Fry Pees on Ghosts

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    PETERBOROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 13:  Barry Fry the managing director of Peterborough Utd  in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Peterborough United and Celtic at London Road on July 13, 2007, in Peterborough, England.  (Photo by Mark
    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Barry Fry was the manager of Birmingham City from 1993-1996. During his time there, the eccentric, colorful Fry admitted to peeing in each of the four corners of the team's pitch at St. Andrews.


    Because, according to Fry, there was a gypsy curse on the team, and peeing in the corners was enough to lift it. 

    Did it work? Not really. In Fry's own words, "We won for a while, then started losing, then they sacked me." 

    Indeed. Maybe you shouldn't go whizzing on people's pitches, then. 

17. Peeing on the Pitch Part Deux

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    25 May 1991:  Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea signals to his team mates during a match against England at Wembley Stadium in London. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben  Radford/Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Goalkeepers are strange creatures. They are, in terms of mannerisms, the pitchers of the football world. Which is why this isn't all that shocking. 

    Argentine keeper Sergio Goycochea wanted a bit of an edge going into a penalty kicks, so he decided to lighten his load by a few ounces. 

    Before every penalty kick taken against him, Goycochea would pee on the field, in front of the television cameras and fans. 

    "No one complained," he said. 

    It worked better than you'd think, as Goycocheda was renowned for his ability to stop penalty kicks. Why is this higher than Fry's relieving himself? The Argentine waited to whizz until he had an audience. 

16. Patrick Roy Shrinks the Goal

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    DENVER - APRIL 19:  Goalie Patrick Roy #33 of the Colorado Avalanche dives but can't stop Patrick Kuba of the Minnesota Wild from scoring during game five of the first round of the 2003 Western Conference Stanley Cup playoffs on April 19, 2003 at the Peps
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    We've already established that Patrick Roy was a little crazy. But if you need more convincing, here it is: Before every game, the goalie would skate to the blue line, then whip around and stare intently at the goal he would be defending. 

    Why? To shrink it. That's right, Roy imagined the goal getting smaller. Or, given his love of chatting with posts, he actually thought it did. 

    Although, it may have just been further away.

15. Bat Fever

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    Richie Ashburn was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. He was one of baseball's best hitters, finishing with a .308 career average. 

    How did he do it? Ashburn's secret weapon was the special bond he shared with his bat. Ashburn loved his bat so much, he often went to bed with it wrapped in his arms. 

    Yes, you read that correctly: Ashburn slept with his bat. 

    And given all the quirks we've seen here, odds are he's not the only one who does. 

    We already know former Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena slathered pine tar on it before every at bat, then bit it and kissed it to show his affection, but at least he didn't talk about what he did with it when the lights went out.

14. Eating Grass

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers watches the score board during a timeout against the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    When LSU head coach (and resident whack job) Les Miles gets nervous during the game, he needs something to calm his nerves. 

    What does he reach for? A hunk of turf.

    Miles was seen chewing his cud during the Tigers' win over Alabama on November 6, and when asked about it, responded in typical Miles fashion. 

    "I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I'm a part of the field and part of the game," Miles said as a smile widened on his face. "You should have seen some games before this. I can tell you one thing: The grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best."

    We always knew he was crazy.

13. Talking to Baseballs

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    This strange phenomenon was first made popular by the Detroit Tigers' eccentric right-hander Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. 

    At times during games, Fidrych could be seen mumbling looking into his glove, apparently talking to the baseball and telling it where to go. 

    The Bird lit the world on fire in the early part of his career, but injuries doomed him from a long run of greatness. 

    However, his superstitious rituals and antics have inspired a generation of pitchers to talk to the baseball. 

12. Laurent Blanc's Smooch

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    The 1998 French national team that won the FIFA World Cup was a fascinating collection of oddballs. But even among this motley crew, there was a moment that stood out. 

    Team star Laurent Blanc thought goalkeeper Fabian Barthez's bald head was fantastic. So before every match of the Cup, Blanc would plant a smooch on the cue ball head. The team won the Cup and a legendary moment was immortalized in this picture. 

11. Jason Giambi's Thong

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 15:  Jason Giambi #23 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on September 15, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 9-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Jason Giambi has always been a big, awkward man. So when it came out several years ago that the Yankee slugger had a metallic gold thong he wore to snap out of slumps, no one really wanted to know, or see it. 

    Thankfully, the story died down shortly thereafter. But the San Francisco Giants brought the rally thong back this year, courtesy of Aubrey Huff. 

    And for that, we will never forgive him. 

10. Dwight Howard Takes a Load Out

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    ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 18:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic chases down a loose ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Orlando Magic superstar big man Dwight Howard is a physical freak of nature capable of dominating opponents on the basketball court. 

    But he can't dominate on court until he takes care of business on the toilet. Before every game, the big man drops a deuce, or he says he doesn't feel right. 

    I guess to fly like Superman, you need to dump some weight.

9. Stepping on Lines

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    Baseball players hate the foul line. They flat out can't stand it. Which is why they (along with managers like Sparky Anderson) don't touch it. Ever. And this isn't an isolated ritual; no one (other than A-Rod, who doesn't seem to be a big fan of anything fun and superstitious about baseball) touches the foul line. 

    Among the most notable foul line avoiders was Turk Wendell. Turk wouldn't just step over the line, like most players. Oh no, Wendell would take a flying leap over it.

    Go big or go home, I suppose. 

8. Never Get Cleansed in Zimbabwe

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    In 2008, the Midland Portland Cement football team was struggling. So, the head coach ordered the entire 16-man team to go and be ritually cleansed. That meant a dunk in the Zambezi River. 

    The problem is, swimming is prohibited in the river because of hippos and crocodiles. Sixteen men went into the river. Fifteen came out. Needless to say, the team lost its next match. 

7. Trapattoni's Holy Shower

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    Giovanni Trapattoni is one of Italy's most successful coaches and currently runs the Irish National team. However, he made headlines in 2002, when he took a bottle of holy water onto the field with him when he coached the Italians at the FIFA World Cup. What was it for? To sprinkle on the players, bench and touch line, of course. 

    Did it work? Not really, as the Italians failed in their quest to take home the most sacred of soccer relics: the Jules Rimet trophy. 

6. NASCAR Hates Peanuts

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    Peanuts in the shell are a major no-no for most NASCAR teams. Not shelled peanuts, peanut butter or Peanut M&Ms; those are all fine. But in the shell? Don't bring them around. 

    This superstition's origins are shrouded in mystery. One story tells of three drivers in the 1930s whose pit crews put peanut shells on the cars' hoods. All three cars crashed. 

    Another tells of racing god Junior Johnson. A member of his crew was eating the nuts, and Johnson crashed. Guess what he blamed? 

    Some drivers don't buy the peanut myth. Others are so hardcore that they've had the packages of the salted nuts removed from the vending machines at tracks and headquarters. 

    It may not make sense, but what on this list does?

5. Jason Terry Sleeps in the Pants of His Enemies

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    DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 04:  Guard Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during play against the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center on January 4, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by d
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks has been one of the most consistent scoring point guards in the NBA over the last five years. But that hasn't stopped him from using a bit of superstition to make sure he never loses his edge. 

    Every night before a game, Terry sleeps in the shorts of his opponent the next day. Somehow, the man has managed to acquire the actual shorts of every team in the NBA, and will sleep in them. When a team gets a new uniform? Terry gets new shorts. 

    I guess that means when they say he's in an opponent's head, they mean he's in their shorts.

4. Kevin Rhomberg

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    Whenever you talk about athletes and their superstitions, you have to mention Rhomberg. Included in this outfielder's list of quirks was an inability to turn right (baseball players only turned left when rounding the bases), a la Derek Zoolander. 

    But what Rhomberg was most known for was touching. Former teammate Mike Hargrove called him "Touch Me Touch Me."

    Whenever someone touched him, Rhomberg had to touch them back. Because baseball players are secretly eight years old, they had tons of fun with this. They would tag Rhomberg and throw the ball out of the stadium, only to laugh as he spent hours finding it. Former major leaguer Rick Sutcliffe once touched his toe under a bathroom stall, and Rhomberg touched everyone in the clubhouse to make sure he got the culprit. 

    Players would touch him and take off into the clubhouse, and he would spend hours trying to find them and touch them back. If he didn't get you, you could expect a letter that said, "This constitutes a touch."

    In a sport full of nutty superstitions and rituals, Rhomberg is one of the strangest of the bunch. 

3. Bruce Gardiner Gives His Stick a Swirly

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    20 Dec 1998:  Center Bruce Gardiner #25 of the Ottawa Senators in action during the game against the Dallas Stars at the Corel Centre in Ottawa, Canada. The Stars defeated the Senators 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge  /Allsport
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Bruce Gardiner was a journeyman forward for the Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues. As a rookie in 1996, he was frustrated by a massive points drought, and sought advice from veteran Tom Chorske. 

    Chorske looked at Gardiner's stick, and reportedly said he was treating it too well. 

    "Go dunk it in the toilet," was Chorske's advice. "Show it who's boss." So after a few more scoreless games, the rookie did just that. He scored two goals, and kept dunking the stick. The points kept rolling in. 

    I just hope he remembered to flush it before giving his stick the swirly. 

2. Moises Alou Toughens Up

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    NEW YORK - MAY 18:  Ryan Church #19 of the New York Mets is met by Moises Alou #18 after hitting a home run against the New York Yankees in the sixth inning on May 18, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Moises Alou, the long-time major league outfielder, was one of a select few players not to wear batting gloves. 

    Typically, a player wears them to keep his hands from hurting. So how did Alou deal with the pain of hitting? By toughening the skin on his hands, of course. 

    And how did he do that? By peeing on his hands. Fortunately, most of Alou's teammates wore gloves for moments just like this one. 

    The worst part? Urea, one of the primary compounds in pee, was once used as a primary ingredient in moisturizer to keep skin soft. 

1. Lyoto Machida

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    Lyoto Machida is one of the best fighters the UFC has ever seen. He's lost just two fights and has been one of the better MMA fighters of the modern era. 

    However, he also drinks his own urine. He was taught to do it by his father/trainer Yoshido Machida, who also drinks his own. Apparently, they think that the human body's expulsion of waste and toxins possesses some sort of natural medicinal qualities. 

    "Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? No, but I do it anyway because it's sterile and I like the taste." 

    Apparently, Patches O'Houlihan is not the only one.