Saturday, June 12, 2010

Superstition Links Baseball and Politics

Frank McCourt, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, paid a "healer" from Massachusetts to send "positive energy" toward the team, according to the L.A. Times

Vladimir Shpunt, 71, performed this service while watching games on television. He said he could not guarantee specific victories for the Dodgers, but thought his efforts perhaps added 10 or 15 wins per season from 2004 through 2008.

It is unclear exactly how much he was paid for this service, but one source says he received a six-figure bonus after the Dodgers won their division two years ago.

I know what you're thinking: An extra 15 victories would make a HUGE difference to the Red Sox in the tough American League East. This guy is right in their backyard. How could they overlook him?

It costs a lot more than six figures for Daisuke Matsuzaka to walk the bases loaded every other inning, or for Mike Lowell to sit in the dugout and look like he's watching his parents have sex.

Get with the program, Red Sox!

What, you're skeptical? Of course you are. But try to keep an open mind. Baseball is full of superstition.

Besides: there may be more empirical science behind this than you think.

From the Times story: "Shpunt said he led a team of Russian scientists that in the 1970s found that heat could travel beneath the skin and through so-called 'gap junctions' between cells, increasing blood flow and promoting healing by directing energy to ill cells without harming healthy ones."

Shpunt eventually discovered that his hands transmitted 10 to 15 times the amount of energy as the average person's, launching him into a second career as a mystical healer.

"In the mid-1980s, he said, he heard a girl complain about hip pain after her legs had been amputated. He said he left her room and thought about how he might help resolve the discomfort, then returned to hear her say the pain had diminished."

It's a miracle!

"That episode, he said, revealed that he could channel that healing energy not just through his hands but over distances."

Exactly. Just like when I was in the 7th grade and I would lie awake every night wishing this girl named Tiffany would develop an interest in me, or at least notice my existence. Finally, at the very end of the school year, I got my wish when she got placed next to me in line for a field day activity. She took a good look at me and said, "Ew! Can I go to a different line?"

Or when I willed Paul LePage to victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary on June 8, knowing his continued candidacy would serve as the only shot Democrats have to retain the Blaine House after Baldacci's eight years of colossal failure.

LePage is General Manager of Marden's, which means he hired that shrill and horrendously annoying woman for their TV ads. As soon as people realize that, he'll have no chance.

Besides, a state that seems happy to elect centrist voices with an independent schtick, LePage's Tea Party-oriented views (for example, he wants creationism taught in public schools and homosexuals denied civil unions) could alienate our vast glut of moderate voters.

Libby Mitchell may also have radical views, but she can hide them behind a record of experience engendering political compromise and grandmotherly wrinkles.

Okay, so LePage has an impressive record, too: he is a successful businessman.

But, then again, so is Frank McCourt.

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