#rando

A Practical Guide to Bewitching Baseball

Two great October flavors that taste great together.

Few sports are as uncertain as baseball, so with the postseason fast approaching, I naturally asked my wife to consult her most familiar tarot deck to see what a single card reading would say about the October outcome of her hometown favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

A card from the Visconti tarot deck by Bonifacio Bembo, circa 15th century. Reproduction of a painting that is in the public domain because of its age.

Yikes, a reversed five of swords.

 

Not terrible, but not great either. My lawfully wedded witch informs me that this portends exhausting struggle for the subject, so I think it’s fair to say that there are no sweeps in the Bums’ near future. But wrangling with that uncertainty is only half of the equation.

Any old sabermetrician can work to part the veil of time nearly as well as a diviner. What is truly powerful, however, is to not just see a fate but to change it.

Like my wife, lauded literary crone Shirley Jackson was a California transplant and Dodgers fan (though they were obviously in Brooklyn at the time), and as a self-proclaimed “writer who is a practicing amateur witch,” she also sought to undermine her team’s opponents through occult methods. Since this is a hex-positive publication,  we offer up the following magical solutions to specific mundane obstacles which might stand in your team’s way.

 

Problem: A Wild Card Game

Try Using: Lightning Round Pitcher’s Mound Burn-Em-Down

 

Bewitching Baseball effigy

 

Few situations are more stressful than a team starting the postseason with the sudden-death stakes of a wild card game. Teams in these games will be pulling out all the tools at their disposal in order to avoid being eliminated, and any witch looking to support her team will likely take a similarly reckless and direct approach. To that end, an effigy is the most effective method, though obviously it costs a large amount in arcane resources and many more discerning practitioners see it as relatively inelegant.

If you choose this blunt and powerful technique, however, it is simple. Construct a strawman and dress it in the jersey of your opponent’s scheduled starting pitcher. Stand this effigy on the pitching mound of a sandlot at midnight and set it alight. Dancing naked around the blaze is completely optional, just so long as you let the thing immolate completely as it kindles a roaring case of the yips in your opponent. Don’t forget to clean up the resulting ashes, though. Dark magic is one thing, but please don’t litter.

Some may argue that it is more effective to burn the pitcher himself, rather than an effigy. While true, I am fairly sure that that would be quite illegal in most jurisdictions. Worse still, it would also be terribly unsporting.

 

Pro:

  • relatively simple due to the plentiful supply of sandlots and strawmen
  • the only satisfying way to watch a pitcher implode
  • great excuse to have a bonfire party with the coven

Con:

  • consumes a great deal of power from the practitioner, likely leaving none left for the rest of the postseason; less effective against a team with a decent bullpen
  • Effigies are somewhat unfashionable, particularly after Labor Day.
  • Please don’t murder anyone.

 

Problem: Chicago Cubs

Try Using: A Crossroads Crossout

 

Bewitching Baseball chicago cubs

 

It’s possible that whatever counter-hex was used last year to snap the Cubbies’ decades long World Series curse had certain side-effects for the following year. As of the original writing of this article, the Cubs were the only team leading a division who had not clinched a postseason berth. Not terrible, but not great either. The weight of last year’s success might be weighing on them too heavily, and as such, it is important to let them play this year apart from that pressure.

The recipe for a fresh start is somewhat convoluted, but no one said professional sports were easy. First, find a dirt crossroads. A four corner crossing is fine, but if you can find a five corner crossing, all the better. Second, take a baseball and, using a standard vole-tooth seam-ripper, tear out the stitches to reveal the yarn beneath the leather. Unwind that yarn, set stakes in the ground at the corners of the crossroads, and wrap the yarn around those stakes. Once this part is complete, it is important that you stay inside the yarn perimeter until the ritual is finished. Third, dig a shallow hole in the middle of the road, and toss in a 2016 Cubs World Series pennant and about a cup of saltwater in which you’ve suspended a young bear’s tooth. Replace the earth, and throw on a dash more salt.

With that, the task will be done, and you can retrieve your material components and go home. In the process of cleaning up, a devil wearing a White Sox hat may approach you and ask you about signing a contract. While it may seem rude, do not address him. He is likely just trying to start a conversation so he can bum a ride back into town.

 

Pro:

  • will remove the pressure of last year’s victory
  • a great way to get out and meet new devils

Con:

  • may also remove the triumph of last year’s victory
  • Any miscalculation could have unexpected consequences, such as giving the players, rather than the team, a fresh start. A team of magically reverted infants would likely not perform well in professional sports.

 

Problem: Your Team’s Already Eliminated

Try Using: Elixir Therapy

 

Bewitching Baseball booze

 

 

Maybe your team has already been mathematically eliminated this year. Don’t worry, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season. First, you need to stir together a potion of bourbon, Angostura bitters, sweet vermouth, and ice cubes.

Then, have a seat and take a sip of your concoction.

Think about whether there’s a healthy or unhealthy amount of your self to invest in following a sport and, if so, which side of that divide you’re on. Take another sip. Think about whether there’s a healthy or unhealthy amount of Manhattans to imbibe, and which side of that divide you’re on. Take another sip. Think about what trades might be possible during the off-season and what effect they might have on your team’s prospects for next year. Take another sip. Think about the fact that a piano could fall on your head today and about whether you’d want your last moments to be spent fretting over sports.

Take another sip.

 

Pro:

  • delicious

Con:

  • Please enjoy responsibly.

 

Problem: Racist Mascotry

Try Using: The Erie Armada

 

Bewitching Baseball cleveland skyline

 

 

This is a huge problem in American sports. My favorite team, the Texas Rangers, is named after an institution that was founded in no small part to wage war on the indigenous peoples of Texas. That legacy doesn’t have any evocative imagery to go with it, but it demonstrates the ubiquity of this sort of thing in our history.

Some of you might be fans of a team with a logo that is horribly racist even by the insensitive standards of American sports. Maybe you cheered the removal of such a logo from team caps, and maybe you impatiently wonder how long until it’s exorcised from the uniform entirely. Maybe you have an annoying cousin whose social media posts defend this logo. Maybe you’ve been frustrated by the team owners’ resistance to the league about the issue. Maybe those stubborn pockets of inertia make you all the more anxious to see that logo disappear.

If so, write that desire on a piece of paper and fold it into an origami boat. Then, set that boat out into Lake Erie, in which the debris that used to be Cleveland Stadium now rests. If done correctly, this should direct the spirit of change from the abandonment of that building to the abandonment of other outdated vestiges of misplaced tradition, especially if you also write letters to the Dolans telling them that too.

Pro:

  • Everyone loves to beat ceaselessly against the current of American history.
  • fun nautical arts and crafts project

Con:

  • Probably best not to litter in one of the Great Lakes, though.

 


 

The chaos of baseball helps explain why even the most bizarre superstitions hold about as much sway among aficionados as statistics and analytics. After all, at any given at bat, at any point of any game, pretty much anything can happen. Play enough innings, and eventually everything will happen. If the unlikely and inexplicable will happen anyway, then that means that you too can take this postseason as an opportunity to perform intricate rituals in order to claim credit for the subsequent whims of stochasticity. It’s as American as baseball and fearing the power of witches.

 

Jeff Dill

Jeff is very bad at writing bios, so here's his Grindr profile: "Failed soldier, failed teacher, failed academic, lousy cyclist, dog haver."

© 2014 - 2017 Jeff Dill and POMEgranate Magazine

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