Home MLB Never underestimate your jinxing powers (even in spring)

Never underestimate your jinxing powers (even in spring)

by Matt Smith

I’ve really been enjoying listening to the opening games of the Oakland A’s Spring Training schedule, but was busy for the first hour of their game against the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday evening. 

Curious as to what may have happened in my absence I logged on just after nine o’clock to find that the A’s bats had suddenly come alive.  There was a great big ‘7’ in the second inning of the linescore and poor old Randy Wolf’s pitching line didn’t look too clever: 1 inning pitched, five runs given up on five hits, with a 45.00 ERA.

It turned out that non-roster invitee Andy LaRoche, someone who has made the depressing journey from highly-touted Dodgers project to Pirates cast-off in a couple of years, started the second frame with a solo shot and the runs kept on coming from there.  LaRoche is battling to win the ‘infield sub’ role and showing some power certainly will help his chances considering Oakland’s desperate need for help in the longball department.

That need is exactly why the A’s acquired Josh Willingham in a trade with the Washington Nationals over the offseason.  He is slated to be the A’s regular left fielder and he provided the first bit of hammer (‘Willinghammer’?) that the A’s are looking for from him by rudely welcoming Wolf’s replacement, David Johnson, with a two-run jack. 

It was enough to help Coco Crisp put his drink-and-drive debacle to one side, for the time being at least. 

The pitching was going along quite nicely as well.  Trevor Cahill missed out on the battle for the fifth starter spot in Spring Training a year ago, but twelve months on and he’s seen as the likely candidate to be the A’s opening day starter. 

He started the A’s Spring Training opener on Sunday against the Chicago Cubs and had a bit of a disaster, as much as you can have a disaster in your first Spring Training game, by being taken out of the contest having only retired one batter.  After a slightly shaky first inning against the Brewers, Cahill had a 1-2-3 second inning, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame before the A’s were retired in order in the top of the third.

It was around this time that I logged on and announced on Twitter: “Not listening to the A’s game today and looks like it’s going well. As it’s Spring Training, can risk jinxing it by tuning in now”

Now, my thought process was that I don’t really care if we lose a Spring Training game, so I was unlikely to jinx our positive start because that jinxing power would only kick in if I had something to lose.

But I was wrong. 

It started well enough, with Cahill making it three strikeouts in a row by catching Wil Nieves looking at a called third strike.  But then the Brewers got a run on the board as Rickie Weeks accepted a walk and Carlos Gomez doubled him home.  That was the end of Cahill’s day and on came Joe Bateman.

Ryan Braun took the second pitch from Bateman into the seats for a two-run shot.  Casey McGehee was even more dismissive of Bateman’s offerings and smacked the first pitch he saw over the fence. 

Two pitches, three runs, and the commentator had noted that the trainer had visited the mound when Cahill was taken out of the game.  I clicked the red cross on my GamedayAudio window and cursed myself for being so foolish.  Why didn’t I just leave the game alone?

Thankfully it turns out that the trainer’s presence on the field was a result of a misunderstanding and Cahill is fine.  That’s made me feel a bit better as I reflect on things this morning (the A’s lost the game 11-9).  Still, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: never underestimate the power of jinxing your team by tuning in mid-game when things are going well.

Even in Spring Training.

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