This is different from mere superstition. If you put it on the board, then the pitcher sees it and now he knows that everyone realizes it, and he feels extra pressure.
GOLIC: You're right, Tim. Cliff Lee saw the trivia question and thought, "Oh my God! Now everyone knows!" In fact, nobody in the entire stadium realized it before then, and they were all completely stunned. Lee had no choice but to throw an 82-mile-an-hour fastball that Molina smacked for a double.
GREENY: Timothy may not be the best advocate for my side.
It's one of the major unwritten rules of baseball, you never let the words "no-hitter" or "perfect game" leave your mouth. I was lucky enough to see David Wells pitch his perfect game for the Yankees. I didn't even let it cross my mind while the game was going on.
GOLIC: I hope David Wells sent you a big fruit basket, Tyler, because without you, he would've never thrown a perfect game.
You're playing for the Eagles and your kicker is standing over a 50-yard field goal to win the game. They put a trivia question on the board asking who was the last Eagles kicker to make a game-winning field goal of 50+ yards. Your kicker hooks it left and you lose. Would you have a problem with that?
GOLIC: It's not the scoreboard's fault, nor the guy who put it on the scoreboard. It's not what the announcer said or didn't say, or whether you were sitting a certain way, standing on one leg, holding a beer in your left hand, whatever. It has nothing to do with the kick. Jeez! It's like I'm slamming my head against a wall.
GREENY: You're wrong, though, and I'll tell you why. Obviously, Cliff Lee knew he was throwing a no-hitter. But anything that takes you out of the mind-set of concentrating on your next pitch can affect your performance. If Cliff Lee saw the trivia question, I really do believe that it could have gone through his mind that they probably shouldn't have put it up there. There's a whole tradition in baseball that strongly believes that. And all of a sudden, instead of making sure that your slider is breaking two feet off the plate, you've got a million other things going through your mind.
GOLIC: I don't care if Lee walked off the mound, climbed up to the stadium announcer's booth, got on the mike, and said, "Hey, I know—it's Len Barker, and he did it on May 15, 1981," and then threw his next pitch. He's not a seven-year-old who's going to mentally disintegrate because he sees something on the scoreboard. And if he did get rattled by that question, then that tells me a hell of a lot about Cliff Lee.
GREENY: What about this? No one will dispute the fact that Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers the game has ever seen, if not the best. He wears red on Sundays. For whatever reason, he's decided that it makes him feel comfortable. It helps him. Is that a superstition? You don't think there's any correlation between him wearing red and playing better?
GOLIC: It's called a routine. If you do something a bunch of times and you have success with it, why change it? It's one less thing to worry about.