I thought that baseball players were just succumbing to the new surge in male vanity when I saw so many of them recently wearing these silly circular necklaces, that look a little like those giant lanyards we used to make at camp. Someone told me last night that these accoutrements are not so much a sign of vanity as a sign of gullibility, as they (the necklaces, not the players) are alleged to provide “energy” and, hence, improve their (the players, not the necklaces) performance. What’s the SD on this trend? Why are so many players wearing these things?
Yeah, it major woo. Phiten is the biggest brand, I believe.
Baseball players in general are some of the most superstitious people on the planet and I have no idea why. I don’t know if they fall into the dumb jock stereotype or what it is but even beyond the super power necklaces a lot of them seem to have various obsessive compulsive routines they complete before pitching or batting. Then they have team ones like not talking to a pitcher during their no hitter less you jinx them. Or wearing the same hat or jersey when they are on a winning streak.
I’m mildly surprised MLB allows those adornments to be worn/seen outside the uniform.
Ah, I see. They’re from Japan!!! And, they have titanium!!! No wonder they work so well.
I gotta get me one o those, along with a higgs field deflector. I heard I could buy one at this site. Where’s the shopping tab?
I got a Phiten “titanium” bracelet this winter for my team, because I wanted a “Livestrong-type” rubber Indians bracelet and the MLB has done a fantastic job making such things unavailable unless you get it through official channels - which is Phiten. As far as I know there is no such thing as a knockoff rubber Indians bracelet.
There is absolutely nothing “titanium” about it in a sense that there’s not one bit of rigid metal. You gotta click on the “technology” tab on the link I posted above to see why this is called a titanium bracelet.
I’ve been wearing it every day since mid-February and it doesn’t show one smidge of wear. So that’s cool.
I haven’t had a chance to see if I’m a better baseball player or not. I haven’t played in like 15 years. Maybe I should go to the cages and report back…
Anyway I’m not sure if the players are wearing the necklaces because they are woo or because they are free, since Phiten seems to have a very tight contract with the MLB. The necklaces are laughably ugly, though. Not half as civilized as my rubber bracelet!
Various types of energy necklaces and bracelets have been popular in certain countercultures for a long time. These items have drifted into baseball apparently. I have especially noticed pitchers wearing them.
I haven’t noticed any overtly superstitious extremist in Major League Baseball since Turk Wendell and Wade Boggs retired. Wendell would avoid stepping on the foul lines when walking between the mound and dugout and vice versa, and he brushed his teeth every inning that he was in the game.
Superstition is indeed still present in baseball. Teammates typically don’t talk to the pitcher while he has a no hitter in progress, players wear lucky socks, etc.
My WAG is that sports in general and baseball in particular are rich with the kind of circumstances in which superstitions arise: baseball players frequently find themselves in situations where they get different results from doing apparently the same things, for no clear and obvious reason. Since the mind tends to look for causality, it seizes on whatever it can to try to explain the difference.
I wonder how many baseball players believe in these superstitions, how many use them as a psychological technique—a ritual or object that helps them focus—and how many play along just for fun.
Coincidentally, in trying to research superstition in general in hopes of finding evidence that might confirm or deny my WAG, I found that the “superstition” entry at The Skeptic’s Dictionary directly addresses these necklaces (see about halfway down the page) (though it basically confirms what Jas09’s link says).
Superstition is wearing the same socks every time you pitch at Yankee Stadium. Gullible stupidity is buying life-force enhancing jewelry. In my professional capacity, I’ve worked with players in all the major sports. Baseball players are unequivocally the dumbest of them all. I would add some sort of qualifying statement like “not to paint in broad strokes” or “in my experience” etc. Screw that. They’re the dumbest. I can totally see why they’re easy marks for modern quackery.
You might be surprised, but football players are easily the smartest.
Throwing or hitting a baseball involves very precise muscle control at a very high exertion level, over a fraction of a second. The only way this can work is through muscle memory acquired through lots of practice. For consistent results it is fairly important to do it the same way every time. This brings us to rituals of walking up to the plate just the same way, and of course a pitcher is going to go through their windup in as identical a fashion as possible. It really can’t be done correctly through conscious effort. The players need to get their brain out of the way, and let their bodies do what has become instinctive for them. This happens in lots of sports, and is often referred to as being “in the zone”.
When it stops working, the brain gets involved and tries to fix it…which it pretty much can’t do. Slumps thus tend to be self perpetuating. Enter the talisman: It can be an energy necklace or a rabbit’s foot. What it is is something for the brain to latch onto as a solution to the problem, so it can leave the body alone to act on instinct. This only needs to work once to activate a conformation bias, and you have another superstitious baseball player. The fact is that the talismans actually do work, but through psychology, rather than woo.
Along those lines, I wonder how many players also resort to the “power of prayer” to raise their batting averages. Seems like that approach might fit in with the superstitious mindset of ballplayers.
I am 100% sure that none of these players are receiving any financial inducements at all to wear these overpriced trinkets in front of gullible and adoring fans.
For whatever reason, MLB has allowed necklaces for a long time.
George Scott (a first baseman for several teams in the 1970s and 1980s) used to wear a particularly ugly necklace while he played, which he joking claimed was made of “second basemen’s teeth”.
Rickey Henderson (among many other players) frequently wore a gold chain necklace while playing.
I was pleasantly surprised that this form of woo technology is not nearly as expensive as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I think the producers of these necklaces are the real suckers for not charging twice the price that they actually do: people would buy them just the same, and probably believe even more that the necklaces do something, because why else would they cost so much?
I agree with Kevbo’s comments, but would like to add something. During a baseball game, pick out one player, especially other than pitchers and catchers, and notice how much time he spends doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Even when on defense, 80-90% of the time he is just standing around. He is thinking about possible situations but much of that is preprogrammed by experience. An athlete tends toward physical activity and when the sport calls for none, he will make something up.
I played first base back in high school and would constantly rake my cleats across the dirt to smooth out any footprints, or other bumps or holes. I believed it was to avoid any bad hops, but mostly it became a habit and kept me moving. I did other rituals related to batting; looking back all of it was BS. Conversely, I played football too and had no rituals to speak of.
Not when it comes to sticking together during labor negotiations. Those dumb baseball players have it hands down over those smart football players. And just how many football players have felony arrests?
As to why baseball players are so superstitious, it might have something to do with following a certain pattern of doing things is something you can control. A great baseball hitter can expect to fail 70% of the time. They can’t control that too well so they concentrate on things like wearing the same clothes when the team is winning, etc.
Worth noting that the majority of professional football and basketball players are drafted out of college. Baseball players are overwhelmingly drafted out of high school, and some, especially Latin players, are signed even before college. Then they go straight into pro baseball (usually at some level of Minor Leagues) instead of going off to college. So really, it’s largely a matter of “less educated” than “dumber”.
This is also one reason you rarely, if ever, see African-American baseball players with “Muslim” names. They didn’t go to college where they would have been exposed to Nation of Islam recruiters.
This is a most bizarre statement. What, exactly, are you saying?
If a batter feels the pitcher’s jewelry is distracting, he can ask the umpire to require its removal. Whether the umpire then does so is, like ever so much, up to the umpire. I can’t cite a rule number that applies, but I’ve seen it happen.