It’s that time of year again, when baseball’s 162 game grind has come to an end, signaling the true end of summer, and along with it, our (second favorite) national pastime. For a select few teams, however, the end of the regular season is merely the jump off point into a world of the most intense, atmospherically charged games these professionals will ever play in their lives. Only the best of the best remain; each game is a crucible, and each at-bat becomes the crux of a life of glory, or a life as an also-ran. This is postseason MLB baseball. Each October, fans of the remaining teams pore over potential match-ups, current player injuries and ailments, weather reports and expanded rosters. Each season we look at the strengths and weaknesses of playoff contenders and expound on these virtues in hopes to figure out what it will take for our favorite team to hoist that World Series trophy. Some say timely hitting and good defense; others may point towards starting pitching and rock solid bullpen. Sure, those are great things for a team to have, but none of those things win championships. What wins championships, and in this case, what will specifically win our beloved Angels a championship, is MOJO. That’s right; pure, unadulterated superstition and fans’ strict, unwavering adherence to these superstitions and rituals is what will give our boys a ring and the city of
"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition."-Rod Serling
"Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational - but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?"-Judith Viorst
"Stay mystical."-Ronnie James Dio
In October of 2002, the surging Anaheim (RIP)Angels provided their fans with something that hadn’t happened in quite some time: a playoff series featuring their favorite team. It had been a long road without tasting any of that Red October glory and hysteria, and it had been even longer (read: never) since they turned a playoff series appearance into anything more than a one and done. But this was a young, exciting group of ballplayers, hellbent on using that newfangled Wild Card spot to do some damage. The stage was set. Meanwhile, 22 year old Mayhem was waking up in a ditch-….actually, forget that part. Let me fast forward to Tuesday, October 1, 2002, when I sauntered on over to the Hurley household, situated in
The word had gotten out amongst our circle of friends that the Hurley house was a fun place to watch the games, and to hang out in general. So as Game 2 came around, there was the same core of people from Game 1, but also a few new friends and family members, as well. In a close one against the Yankees, it was the 8th inning and things were getting desperate. I don’t know who started it or how it started, but eventually someone picked up a barbell (that had RED weights on it) that had been left on the living room floor by one of the men of the house, and began to do curls while facing the television. I felt something at that moment, but was unsure what it was. Looking back, it’s easy to tell what that feeling was: it was mojo. The Angels won that game, and thus began the act of Offensive Curls. The playoffs kept going and the Angels kept winning. More people began to come over to watch the games, and the mantle above the fire place, situated near the television in the living room, began to get filled with random Angels bric-a-brac and good luck charms. We all began to be acutely aware of our outfits we wore during previous victories, and made sure to keep wearing them. We began giving rocks, or daps, to each and every person in the room any time the Angels did something good. If the team needed defense, we had people doing either push ups or chugging beers. In one, game during the ALCS against the
Generating good mojo isn’t easy, though. It takes dedication, determination, willful disregard for rational thought and, in some cases, lots of booze. It takes planning and guile; a sense of duty and a keeping to a strict, albeit bugnuts insane, regimen. Things will not always be rosy, and sometimes it may seem that the mojo isn’t generating quite the amount of fluid karma that you’d intended. Things can go south rather quickly, too, in the case of a loss. In 2008, we once had a friend come over to the Hurley House of Halo, wearing a Dodgers hat, and things intensified quickly. I won’t name any names, but perhaps a fight almost ensued outside, and maybe someones car got keyed, and maybe in retaliation for that, someone went to another person’s house, broke in and trashed the place. Like I said: this can escalate, and quickly. Welcome to playoff baseball. Cooler heads always prevail though, and I’m here to help you create your own mojo for the Angels upcoming playoff series. I’ll give out a fit helpful hints and tricks that will not only make the Angels FOR SURE win, but will also make you feel slightly embarrassed as a heretofore sane adult.
- Good Luck Charms/Totems: This one is easy, as we are all aware of what a good luck charm is. Perhaps you already have one that you like for Angels games, and that’s great! But make sure it works in playoff scenarios, and don’t get too attached to it, because you may need to destroy it if things don’t go as planned. Also, you may want to wait for the first good Angels performance and from there, assess what item you had on you that could have been the culprit behind their victory. If you can’t figure out whether it’s the quarter in your pocket, the Chili Davis rookie card you carry in your wallet or the fully grown Rally Monkey Chia Pet you carry around at all times that’s bringing good luck, just walk around with all three!
Idolatry: This is basically an extension of the good luck charm, but the emphasis you want to have here is all totems/good luck charms in one designated, easily seen spot in the household. This will become your Angels Altar, and you should encourage all Angel fan guests to add to it. Even further, for every subsequent playoff series, you must add to the altar. If the Angels go to the playoff two years in a row, then you had better save the items from the previous year’s altar, start from there and begin adding to it just like the previous year. Altars should always grow in size; a diminishing Angels Altar will produce diminishing mojo. Oh, and one major note: any and all acts done in praise of or in generating of Angels mojo should be done while facing said altar.
- Outfit: Not much to be said here, as it should be pretty self explanatory. Wear your best, and most lucky, Angels gear you own. The older, the better. Stay away, if possible, from anything having to do with the 1995 season.
Feats of Strength: Now we’re getting to the mojo meat and potatoes (as in, the important part of mojo…not something you get for lunch at Shakey’s). Feats of strength are scientifically proven to generate power, stamina and boundless mojo for your team, but only if done at the right times. This part could be up to you, though, as you need to set parameters of what you want the feats to pertain to. For instance, at the Hurley House of Halo, we like to use the red barbell for both Rally Curls and Offensive Curls. These, as the title suggests, generate offensive mojo. You may assign these acts defensive powers, too, if you’d like, meaning defensive curls, etc. This is perfect for when the game is close and the Angels just need to hold on. Chugging beer is also considered a feat of strength and can be used in the same way as I described above(remember to chug responsibly). Just remember to assign these different roles early in the playoffs to various members of your watching party, and make sure those members are adept and up to the challenge. Also, two more important points I need to reiterate: make sure you do everything while facing the Angels Altar, and if you’re doing feats of strength and are rewarded with the offense/defense you were working for, then give everyone in the room daps. This pleases the mojo gods immensely.
- Martyrdom/Ignorance: I’m lumping these two in together because they are, in a way, two sides of the same neurotic coin. In essence, the martyr is a person who needs to sacrifice their enjoyment of the game in order for the Angels to win. It’s tough, and if you find yourself in the role of the martyr then I don’t envy you, but know deep down inside that you’re doing the work that none of us could handle. The friend mentioned earlier, who gave the Angels a surging rally by going outside to play basketball, was the prototypical martyr. Don’t think he didn’t want to come back in and enjoy the game; he sure as heck did. But he ignored all the cheering and joyful eruption going on inside the house, and just kept shooting hoops. The Ignorer is similar to The Martyr, except it’s more of a choice from the beginning of the game to ignore it, in hopes that your ignoring and shunning of baseball activities will make the mojo gods set out to prove to you that the Angels rule, usually by them scoring a bunch of runs, and in turn get you to tune back in. Don’t give in, though. If ignoring is working, just keep on looking the other way.
Routine: This part seems easy, but it’s where many a group of practicing Angels loonies lose their way, and ultimately cost the team a crucial victory or two. Here’s the gist: if what you’re doing is working, keep doing it. Do it the same way you’ve always done it, or perhaps add to what you’ve done, or better yet, take your lunacy a step farther. If you did 20 Rally Push Ups the last game, go for 30. If you brought a few items for the Angels Altar last game, keep on bringing ‘em! Whatever the routine is, KEEP DOING IT. The playoffs can be a long, hazy slog but you’ll always remember those moments when the last out of a successful mojo campaign is recorded. Most importantly, the Angels are counting on YOU to keep it up. They aren’t giving up, so you shouldn’t either. Get your routine, and stick to it.
Postseason superstition and ritual can sound daunting, but in the end, the hard work and the act of continually making yourself look stupid (at least out of this context) will undoubtedly pay off. Will it pay off with the Angels winning the World Series? Well, in a word: YES, if you’ve done everything correctly. If the Angels lose in the ALDS, ALCS or World Series, it’s most likely going to be the fault of a handful of fans who couldn’t muster up a single item for their altar, or petered out at 2 offensive curls. "But you said it’d undoubtedly pay off, Mayhem?" Well, it’s true, and here’s why: at the most, you become the Angels’ lightning rod which drives them to a second franchise title. But, at the very least, you have some hilarious, weird, memorable moments with a bunch of people you love and can look forward to repeating over the years. The genesis of the Hurley House of Halo, and all these crazy customs and practices, is now over 10 years old, and we’ve all gotten older and busier. I don’t get to see any of those people nearly as much as I used to, but such is life. That said, when the Angels get into the playoffs, nothing needs to be said to any of us, as we all just instinctively know to show up at game time, ready to dip our toes into those hysterical, frenzied October waters. And just like that, we’re around friends and loved ones again, as if no time has past, and I can’t think of a better way on this Earth than to spend my time.
If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, or insane superstitions, stories, rituals and habits…please, let’s hear about them in the comments!