Life in the Minors - Chapter 7: Superstitions

by DJ Sixsmith, JT Mercurio
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A look at superstitions many minor leaguers hold

For the 12th straight year WFUV is taking a look at what life is like in the Short Season Single-A NY Penn League...a close-up view of the Baby Bombers and Junior Mets as they attempt to climb the ladder to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. It's Brooklyn and Staten Island. It's the Cyclones and Yankees. It's Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives
 
By DJ Sixsmith - Brooklyn Cyclones Beat Reporter
 
Whether it’s the MLB or the New York Penn League, superstitions can be found in all levels of baseball. The superstitions must be working for the 2012 edition of the Brooklyn Cyclones as the Junior Mets are 13 games over .500 and leading the Wild Card. Some of the ball players on the squad like to keep things simple.
 
Closer Tyler Vanderheiden is one of those guys as his only superstition is that he says two things to himself before he takes the mound. Ironically, the Brooklyn reliever’s mental exercise has nothing to do with baseball. With so many obstacles on the road to the bigs, sometimes simplicity is the most important thing for these major league hopefuls.
 
While Vanderheiden is not too superstitious, second baseman Juan Gamboa is quite the opposite. The Mexican descendent performs several rituals prior to the game. For starters, the 21 year old places his glove in a plastic wrap and lets it bake in the sun for 20 minutes. As you can see from the picture above, Gamboa believes that the heat helps loosen up his glove. The trick has certainly paid dividends as the Mets prospect has the fewest errors amongst the starting Cyclones infield.
 
Additionally, Gamboa has the same person, trainer Eric Valazquez tape his wrists the same way three hours before game time. The Cyclones second baseman is by far the most superstitious on the Mini Mets and has helped lead the way in getting in good graces with the minor league baseball gods.
 
Other Cyclones like first baseman Jayce Boyd and centerfielder Brandon Nimmo are extremely superstitious when it comes to music. For Boyd, the only music being played on his Ipod prior to game time is Skillet. The Florida State product has been listening to the same tunes since his days in Tallahassee as a member of the Seminoles. As for Nimmo, he is a little less superstitious, bouncing around between rock and rap. This year’s Brooklyn team has been one of the best in recent memory and you got to think the superstitions have contributed to the team’s success.
 
 
By JT Mercurio - Staten Island Yankees Beat Reporter
 
People have believed in forms of superstition since ancient times.  Some people even live their lives in accordance with common, and some not so common, superstitions in hopes of never succumbing to any looming “bad luck.”  When it comes to sports, there are most certainly some common rituals that athletes abide by as well as some rather interesting personal superstitions.
 
With the Staten Island Yankees, superstition is present among many of the players. Ranging from unwashed socks to pitch sequences, this weeks interviews with the players were… interesting to say the least.  One superstitious ritual that I found to be more professional than anything comes from Pitcher Dietrich Enns.  When talking to Enns, I learned that when he warms up, he throws the exact same amount of pitches in the exact same sequence.  Taking superstition into something like warm ups really hammered home the idea that superstition is truly a major part of athletes lives and is something that isn’t taken lightly.
 
Some people take superstition to an extreme.  Living a life in accordance with the potential outcome associated with superstitions seems to be silly.  In sports, superstitions certainly have a place, but I’m not convinced athletes will fail as a result of a superstition.  With that said, athletes in every aspect of sports will continue to carry out superstitious rituals, no matter whether or not it benefits their athletic ability or their mental status.
 
 

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