That’s the way the ball bounces


Do you believe in good or bad luck in sports? I think that the bigger question is do you believe in good or bad luck at all. If sports is a snapshot of life itself, that’s the question that should be asked. Baseball players have long been thought of the most superstitious; example: Jim Leyland not changing his underwear for over two weeks until his Tigers won the AL Central penant. Mortifying as that is, he’s not alone in this type of behavior.

If an athlete is driving to the stadium and Gwen Stefani happens to be on the radio, odds are if that athlete has a great game he’s going to go out and buy a Gwen Stefani CD to play before every game. (I know, extreme example!) And that brings us back to luck. On Saturday night I observed Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo literally run into one of his offensive lineman, and proceed to throw a TD pass. (And believe me folks, as a kid that grew up in the 1980’s rooting for the Washington Redskins, I have no love for Romo and the Cowboys.) Many times I’ve seen Romo fumble snaps or drop the football before throwing, only to have the ball bounce right back up into his hands.

This kind of thing isn’t skill or good play, it’s luck. There’s no real way around that fact. However does it not appear that luck always seems to be on the side of  teams that don’t really need it? I think back to a series in July when the Orioles visited Fenway. The O’s were struggling mightily at the time, and in the midst of a multi-game losing streak. Boston pounced on them early in the first inning, and the Orioles obliged by dropping balls in the outfield among other things. However as was also the case in that game, I seem to routinely see opposing teams put balls in play only to have them ricochet off the wall and start rattling around in the outfield. This isn’t an error or anything, however it does allow for baserunners to advance. I hardly think that Boston players (or anyone else for that matter) are so skilled that they can have their hits bounce fair only to start going all over the place so that the defense can’t get to it. That’s called luck.

So it would stand to reason that at some point the laws of science would dictate that the O’s should get a bounce here and there. Keep in mind that there’s also such a thing as Murphy’s Law; if anything can go wrong, it will. The question is whether or not teams or even individual athletes such as Tony Romo make their own luck. If so, how do they do that?

My preliminary answer is that I don’t know. I really don’t; if I knew the answer to that I’d probably have better luck myself! This is a phenomenon we see in real life as well folks…we all know someone who has sickingly good luck and wants the rest of the world to know about it. But is that in itself the catalyst sometimes? I’m big on sportsmanship in sports, and I’ll expound on that in future pieces. However does it not appear that sometimes the biggest showboaters on earth are the ones that get breaks as such? From 2004 until now how much good fortune have the Boston Red Sox seen? I don’t say that to diminish what they’ve accomplished as a team, however they have had a certain amount of luck. They also try to let you know how good they are when the likes of Big Papi, Kevin Youkilis and company admire their home run shots.

I suppose I’m just a throwback to the days when players would round the bases after a home run, put their heads down, and go into the dugout. Or when Johnny Unitas would hand the ball to the official after a touchdown. I’m not suggesting that players and teams that keep things closer to the vest aren’t due a stroke of luck now and again. Nor am I saying that anyone is “due” a stroke of luck. However it can be frustrating when a team or player consistently has the ball bounce their way “just because.”

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