With San Francisco Giants baseball, superstition is the way


According to the great Stevie Wonder, “Superstition ain’t the way.” But he couldn’t have been referring to baseball. America’s pastime is packed with superstitions.Of all the major sports, baseball probably has the largest number of superstitious players, teams and fans.

Am I superstitious? You bet I am—you can take that to the bank. Just don’t step on any cracks or walk under a ladder on your way in.

I think my behavior is fairly benign, bordering on normal. Doesn’t every Giants’ fan have a collection—25 active—of orange hair troll dolls? Or sacrifice a chicken before a big game? I know I do. I call up my local drive-in and have them cook up a big bucket. You didn’t think I was actually chasing a chicken around my back yard with a meat cleaver, did you?

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One of my hard and fast rules, an obsession even—never, ever, under any circumstances, make a prediction out loud. I absolutely shudder and wince when I hear, “We’re gonna win,” or, after taking the first two out of three, “We’re gonna sweep!”

I can’t even allow my mind to go there.

I’m not the only superstitious baseball fan—plenty of you are too, whether you know it or not. Don’t agree? Think again.

How many times, when the Giants were down in the game, did you remove your cap, turn it inside out and put it back on? That’s from a very old superstition—the belief that clothing worn inside-out brings good luck.

And how many of you cross your fingers when your favorite player comes to the plate? Or gets under a fly ball? That’s from a very old, very popular superstition—crossing your fingers keeps bad luck away and helps make your wish come true.

Quite a few of the Giants players are superstitious too. Some of them stick to their pre-game rituals with an almost religious fervor. Think Ryan Vogelsong with his rally enchiladas. He switched over to Super Duper burgers during the 2014 season, and may be trying something else now, but whatever it is, it’s part of his ritual and he won’t start without it.

But the biggest pre-game ritual of all time has to be the sunflower seeds dance started by Hunter Pence during the team’s 2012 postseason run. You know the one: they gather into a huddle, chant, dance and toss seeds in the air. During the 2014 run, he added the “YES! YES! YES!” chant to the playlist. It may have started as a ritual, but it became a superstition when the Giants wouldn’t take the field until they performed their group cheer.

So you know what? Yeah, I’m superstitious…you might even say super superstitious. I’ll refrain from making predictions or outright bold declarations. The closest I’ll get is when I say my standard, all-time favorite: “I like our chances.” But I won’t say “win” or “sweep” until the last out is recorded or Buster Posey is mid-hug.

Monday was an off day. Tuesday marks the start of a three-game set against the Padres at home. Madison Bumgarner is on the mound for the Giants.

And you know what? I like our chances.

Hey! Has anyone seen my orange rabbit’s foot? I can’t find it anywhere.