My big brother isn’t taking my phone calls or returning my texts, and my lovely wife hasn’t watched a baseball game with me in nine years.
It’ll probably stay that way until at least Oct. 28. That’s when the Major League Baseball season is scheduled to end if the upcoming World Series goes seven games.
I’ll miss them, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. When it comes to baseball, that usually means something stupid.
I blame it all on my Little League coaches, Junior Metcalf and Ronnie Davis.
I started playing baseball when I was 9. My team — Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) — was one of six teams making up the Erwin (Tennessee) Little League. I played four seasons with Junior and “RD,” and during those four seasons I learned that talent and coaching only get you so far in baseball.
When talent and coaching are even, the team with the best superstitions wins.
I have no scientific evidence of this, but NFS didn’t lose a game my final two seasons — going a spotless 30-0. That’s all the proof I need.
We gathered an hour before each game on a small hill between the Erwin Little League field and the local YMCA. We all ate a Hershey’s bar and drank a Pepsi, and then sat on that hill in total silence and thought about the game until it was time to play.
The routine didn’t change for four years, and Junior and RD created a new position for anyone who dared to show up late, talk during meditation time, eat a different kind of candy bar or drink a different soft drink.
The position was called “Left out.”
Thanks to Junior and RD, I knew about baseball superstitions long before the classic baseball movie “Bull Durham” came out and Crash Davis had a talk with Annie Savoy about the dangers of messing with a winning streak.
I once wore the same socks for three weeks after hitting three home runs in a game, and I wore the same underwear for two weeks after striking out 14 batters in a game.
Thankfully, we lived close to the ballpark, because my family wouldn’t let me ride in the car after games. Walking home was a small price to pay for home runs, strikeouts and wins.
Which brings us to my brother, Gary, and my lovely wife, Rachel.
I called Gary on Monday during the National League Championship Series game between our beloved Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The score was tied at 1-1, and I needed some emotional support.
It was late, and to avoid waking my sister-in-law Susan, Gary took the phone into the nearest bathroom. Austin Riley promptly hit a solo home run to give the Braves the lead.
Gary must now spend the rest of this series and — if the Braves advance — the entire World Series in the bathroom. He understands this, but blames me for his temporary living conditions.
Rachel, meanwhile, still refuses to take the blame for costing the Texas Rangers a World Series championship back in 2011 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Thanks to the mojo created by me and our son, Kyle, from watching the entire game with no lights, Texas led the Cardinals by two runs and needed just one out to clinch the franchise’s first World Series title.
Rachel, wanting to see our expressions of joy when the final out was recorded, turned on the lights.
You know what happened next. The Cardinals rallied and won the game, then won Game 7 and the World Series the following evening.
I obviously can’t ban my own wife from our living room until the Braves win another World Series, but I’m not opposed to breaking out a pair of “used” mojo socks, either.
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.