Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Curses; Lackey's No-No Foiled by Magic Single

It's not criminal assault to stick an effigy with a pin if voodoo magic doesn't really exist.

But it's still not nice.

Despite betraying an odd view of the cosmos, Sox broadcasters Remy and Orsillo did their best to put a hex on John Lackey's potential no-hitter, which was indeed broken up with 1 out in the 9th inning of an eventual 6-2 Angels victory, their 7th in a row over the ragdoll Red Sox.

Repetitive to the point of ritualistic intonation, Remy and Orsillo uttered the magic word 'no-hitter' before Lackey had yielded a hit, violating the sacred taboo of no-hit superstition: never utter that which is happening in front of you (typically not a problem for Joe Morgan.) NESN even showed a graphic listing the pitchers that had "no-hit" the Sox since 1763. Never daring to speak these words during Sox gems, this was no accident; they were attempting to raise the dead, to cast dark spells, to curse the fortunes of the Angels hurler.

Of course, words don't do that. It's a primitive view of language that conflates meaning and causality; a rock may vibrate slightly in response to the soundwaves emitted by vocal chords, but it will not step aside because those soundwaves encode 'open sesame.' Or, as it's sometimes put, if an opera singer sings "shatter" and the glass breaks, it's the intensity of the sound, not the meaning of the words, that does the trick.

Though this makes Remy and Orsillo's hexing all the more ridiculous, it renders it morally ambiguous. They had malicious intent, but they stuck a doll with a pin. On the one hand, this renders the assault benign. On the other hand, not only are they mean, but they're dumb. I'm not sure which is worse.

Given that I just drank unattended rum and a bat hit the back of my head, I think I've changed my mind. Maybe Jobu made that curveball not quite reach the corner. Maybe the magic words pushed Pedroia's groundball just out of Izturis' range. Maybe the Sox can actually someday beat the Angels.



Barry said...

There is a related conversation that I have participated in several times recently. It centers around a college student who absconded from a Catholic Mass with a consecrated communion wafer.

It's true that the wafer was handed to him; it's true that the wafer was of nominal cash value. Catholic veneration being what it is, the faithful accused the student not of "theft", but of "hostage-taking".

To those of us who don't believe that a cracker can also be a god, the whole incident can be compared to the dubious meme that Jonah so adeptly blogs. There is no tenable mechanism by which flour and water could transform into the flesh of a deity, keeping in mind that said flesh is indistinguishable from the flour and water it was in the first place. Similarly, there is no plausible mechanism by which mentioning "no-hitter" during the no-hitter could disrupt the no-hitter.

Remember, the argument isn't about putting additional pressure on the pitcher (which is also a no-no during a no-no), it's about the words being removed from the context lest they remove the context from itself.

Anyhow, if we are to believe Jonah's impressions, the important feature distinguishing Remy's and Orsillo's actions from Wafergate is this: Remy and Orsillo believe in the power of the sacrilege they are committing. The cracker thief at least had the decency to be a heretic first.

Look at it this way - if the no-hitter curse were true, we would all have an obligation NOT to invoke it when our team has gone several hitless innings. Otherwise, we couldn't expect the denizens of other cities to allow our pitcher a no-hitter. In comes Kant to save the day with the categorical imperative*.

Fortunately, this is moot. There's no caprice in physics and there is no crying in baseball. Let Remy and Orsillo be stupid and mean on this one, those Angels are a pain in the ass.

* The blog's search engine confirms it: I beat Soxlosophy to the Categorical Imperative! Send cash prizes to:

The Soxlosophy Building
Brooklyn, NY

Up your butt, JoJo.

Soxlosophy said...

great post, barry.

and kant always saves the day. you know why? you know why? (cue terrible pun). because there's nothing he kant do...