I Apologize...I Jinxed It

I feel like I need Robin Williams to approach me saying, "It's not your fault" about 15 times in a row right now. But, it doesn't matter. Because, it IS my fault. I know it. You know it. Some of the smartest message board posters on this web site know it…and they let me know that they know it.

One of the reasons that Iowa State lost to Rutgers in the NIT last week was due to my prediction that the Cyclones would win the tournament. It was a prediction I whole-heartedly believed in…but of course, that didn't stop the "jinx." Nothing ever really does, it seems.

So, I apologize to you now for my foolish mistake. I lost my head for a moment and it cost me. It cost all of us. And now I feel like Cousin Oliver.

On the "State of the Nation" message board, bcoop took me to task with the following comments: "Marty, I going to have to ask you to never pick ISU to win anything ever again. It seems the curse of the SI Cover and Steve Deace has been transmitted to you. We will now call it the Curse of Marty. You were constantly upbeat last season for the football team and that brought disappointment week after week, predicting a resurrection of the offense, a stiffening of the defense, and victory in several games along the way. Now you have done it to our basketball team. I refuse to believe that lack of talent, bad breaks, turnovers, foul trouble, youth, undersized and underdeveloped offensive line, a Freshman quarterback, poor playcalling, or anything else can be responsible for anything bad that happens on gameday. No, it is all the Curse of Marty. Oh by the way, the Cubs can't win it all this year because of the Curse of Marty. As a fan of ISU athletics, I ask that you please pick ISU to lose every game going forward as a gesture to the Cyclone Nation."

Bcoop makes several valid points. I can't argue. I committed one of the six common jinxes…and it could've easily been avoided. (See description below.)

The next message was from clonedood: "I thought the exact same thing. I love marty's articles, but they constantly seem to jinx us! Continue writing, Marty, Just Don't Make Prediction!"

Then firstatlast: "My request would be for Marty to: 1) Always pick against the Cyclones 2) Always pick the Squawks 3) Continue to pick the Cubs (as a Cardinals fan, I'd like it if he could pick Houston to finish 2d and the Cards 3d?) 4) Also, it would be great if he could predict that I have no chance of breaking 80 in golf this year."

And hort4cy: "And Marty should know better because, while writing on IowaSportsOpinions.com, I believe he devoted an entire article to jinxes and what he continually does to try to unjinx himself."

You couldn't be more right, hort4cy. Which is why this particular "jinx" was so frustrating to me. I DO know better than that. So, as a refresher course for myself…and to give Cyclone Nation readers a little more background on all of this…I share with you now the "Six Common Jinxes of the Sports Fan."

1) The videotape jinx. This is a powerful force. And it puts sports fans in a quandary EVERY time their favorite team is playing a huge game. Should you tape the game? Or shouldn't you? Speaking from experience, any time that I've videotaped a big game for one of my favorite teams, it turns into that season's ugliest and/or most frustrating loss. How about you? For example, how many of you taped the Iowa State football game at Oklahoma in 2002 when the Cyclones were rated ninth in the nation? How many of you taped ISU's Elite Eight game against Michigan State? You see what I mean, then.

My feeling is this: If you want to avoid jinxing your favorite team, you'll wait and make a copy when the game is replayed on ESPN Classic. (Note to firstatlast: Perhaps you taped the "Ryne Sandberg Game" on June 23, 1984? I did not.)

2) The "count your chickens" jinx. A rookie mistake…veteran sports fans should never be this careless. You know what I'm talking about. The Cyclones have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and you start spouting off about who they're going to play next…and what a roll they're on now. The problem is, "now" hasn't happened yet. And inevitably, it never does.

Think any Duke fans made this mistake on Saturday night?

3) The statistics jinx. Play-by-play announcers in basketball have this one down cold. Whenever the announcer says, "This guy is an 86% free-throw shooter…this is automatic" you can COUNT on a brick in the next few seconds. In other sports, it's the same thing. As soon as the football broadcaster says that the QB hasn't thrown a pick in 150 attempts, you can rest assured that he'll get intercepted before you can finish another handful of Chex mix.

Sports fans do this all the time, too. Think about the guy in your Fantasy Football League who picks someone like Vinny Testaverde and immediately says that "Vinny's gonna throw 20 TDs this season FOR SURE!" Count on an Achilles blow-out as early as Game 1. Every time.

4) The prediction jinx. If you really believe the Cyclones are going to win the big game this Saturday (or whenever), simply keep it to yourself during the week. If you go around "popping off" to all of your friends that "the Cyclones are going to beat Rutgers and then beat Michigan," all you're really doing is putting points on the board for Rutgers. And ALL of those people you spouted off to will remind you of it very quickly.

Simple rule of thumb: When you feel ABSOLUTELY SURE that your team is going to prevail…just shut up.

5) The reverse jinx. Savvy sports fans already know what this one is all about…and you can even make it work FOR you. The next time the Cyclones are in a tough spot…let's say the opposing team has a first-and-goal at the 9-yard-line, try this: "Well, this will be a touchdown FOR SURE. Iowa State is just HORRIBLE at defending anyone in the red zone. JUST HORRIBLE. You might as well put six points on the board right now."

You can almost etch it in stone that the ISU defense will stand up and hold the opposition to a field goal…or maybe even create a turnover.

There are a couple of dangers, here, however. Number one, if you make these comments with a tone that is overly sarcastic, the "reverse jinx" will not only NOT take effect…it will actually jinx your team even MORE. For example, your team might give up a touchdown AND suffer an injury to the star linebacker. So be careful. It's like a wise man once said, "Sincerity is crucial. Once you can fake that, you can do anything."

Secondly, if you overuse this philosophy, you will become so annoying that no one will want to be anywhere near you when your favorite team is playing a big game. If that doesn't bother you, then don't worry about it.

Note to bcoop and firstatlast: Due to the intricacies of the "reverse jinx," this is why I cannot simply go around predicting that Iowa State will lose every game. It would blow up in our faces. Big time. I know that, on the surface, it seems like a good idea, but trust me…it would be a death blow to the ISU athletic programs.

6) The un-jinx. This is a tricky maneuver, but it can absolutely save the day for you. If you feel that you have jinxed the Cyclones through some careless act (like one of those mentioned above), you CAN still weasel your way out of it. How? By simply mentioning that you are AWARE that you have jinxed the results.

In other words, by admitting that you have jinxed the outcome, you can actually "un-jinx" it. And therefore, wash the previous jinx away. Make it a clean slate, so to speak.

So in retrospect, I should have realized the error of my ways a week ago and posted a new column on Tuesday afternoon stating, "I know that my prediction TOTALLY jinxed Iowa State in the NIT." This might have been a bigger play than Curtis Stinson's fifth foul.

But, I got caught up in the excitement…and took my eye off of the ball. Thank you to those of you who kindly pointed it out to me. Trust me, I am aware of what happened and my role in the situation. If fixing it was as simple as "predicting that ISU will lose every game," then that's what I would do. But clearly, that would backfire in the long run.

"The Curse of Marty" will be defeated. I can promise you that. Or rather…that curse will never be stopped.

I think I've got to get some rest.

Oh, and firstatlast, not only will you NOT break 80 this summer…but you will also suffer the worst case of the "shanks" that you've ever endured.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com and now publishes IowaPrepsToday.com. E-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)

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