One of my fellow officer candidates had received a newspaper from home and found a minute now and then to peruse it. He turned to the sports page and announced that New York and Baltimore were playing.
I didn't laugh. It was a cruel joke. I had been born and raised in Baltimore and never seen the Orioles win even one game. They had won a few on occasion, but never with me as a witness in person, on the radio, or on television. In fact, they had never so much as climbed out of the basement. (They were always last in the league standings ever since the team moved to Baltimore.)
But there it was. The Orioles sprang from last to first place in their league and went on to win the World Series in the very year that I left Baltimore. Coincidence? I think not. Let me provide a few other examples.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1975, and inherited a nephew when I married my current wife. His name was Garth and he was (and is) a true sports fan. He played in virtually every youth league and was rising in the ranks of collegiate basketball players until his knees gave out. Inasmuch as his father was absent during his youth, I volunteered to stand in as a surrogate. This necessitated a few excursions to ball games, hockey games, etc. to accompany him.
Whatever team we rooted for lost in my presence. Garth was bewildered at first. The Los Angeles Dodgers played championship baseball in those days. The Lakers dominated the National Basketball Association. The Kings hadn't yet risen to dominate hockey, but they could be expected to win more often than not. None of it mattered. They all lost when I was in the house, or following the game on radio television.
Garth began to suspect. We were at a Dodgers game, sitting in the Loge section along the first base side. Dodger players were not only losing, but also making inexplicable errors. Bill Russell, a great short stop, fielded a ground ball and overthrew Steve Garvey at first base. He threw high enough that the ball landed among the spectators.
Someone sitting a few rows behind us shouted, “What's wrong with you guys?”
My nephew stood up, turned to face those behind us, pointed to me and announced, “It's him. It's all his fault.”
I couldn't argue.
One more example, just in case you're not convinced.
Garth and I arrived late to a Lakers' game one evening. I had him find our seats while I grabbed hot dogs and a beer for me, a Coke for him. When I entered the arena, the Lakers were ahead 18 to 2. The opponents were not having a good season and it was expected that the Lakers could beat them wearing their street clothes and shoes.
I smiled. This was my chance to root for the winning team.
I found our row and began sliding sideways past the other spectators who already occupied their seats. I faced the rear of the arena so that I wouldn't stick my bum in their faces. As I approached Garth, I found him watching me rather than the game.
When I arrived next to him, I placed the paper tray with our food and drinks on the seat while I hung my jacket on the back of it. Garth continued to stare at me.
When I finally retrieved the tray and turned to face the court, my eyes went to the scoreboard hanging over the center. St Louis 20. Los Angeles 18. Yes, from the time I entered the arena until I reached my seat, St Louis had scored 18 unanswered points. I don't have to tell you who ultimately won the game.
Thereafter, Garth's mother was under strict orders. Not only wasn't I allowed to attend one of his games, but also wasn't allowed to even know when he was playing.
Garth knew. Now, you know.
I chose to make this confession today because last night I decided to watch the Baltimore Ravens. Living in a part of the nation bereft of a professional football team to root for, I decided to see how the old hometown team was doing. They were winning handily when I tuned in. I watched as the Pittsburgh Steelers slowly closed the gap, until only three points separated them. That's when I turned off the television.
I looked this morning to discover that the Ravens went on to win.
Need I say more?
ANS: Joe Btfsplk from Li'l Abner by Al Capp