Dave Barry has a term for it - he calls them "concern rays." It is his theory that men can, through keen concentration and force of will, alter the outcome of sporting events. Do you really think that Sebastian Janakowski could really miss two relatively easy (for him) field goals in the Oakland Raiders' most recent exhibition games? Sure, you could blame the relative inexperience of his holder, or the poor condition of the field or even the combination of chemicals running through "The Polish Cannon's" veins. I prefer to think that it was my focus and mental agility that caused both kicks to miss their target - either of which would have given the Raiders enough points to overcome the lowly Houston Texans. And keep in mind, this is only preseason - I'm just warming up.
Over the past month I began doubting my abilities as I watched the Oakland A's slide back from their ultimate goal of winning the American League West. Don't ask me to explain why I would want the Oakland A's to win, but the Oakland Raiders to lose, it's a very carefully considered and thoughtful plan that is as strategic as it is arbitrary. The A's had been rolling right along in July, first breaking even on the won/lost record and then making their assault on winning their division. I started caring deeply what happened each day - who was pitching, how many games were left in the season, doing all the math. I watched them win until they pulled even with the Los Angeles but Not So Much Anaheim but certainly southern California Angels. Then the bottom fell out. They dropped four games in a row - at home. The worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals, came to town and got better on the A's. Could it be that my concern rays had faltered or even failed me?
I'm guessing that there is a formula to explain it - why you can want something too much. I refuse to imagine that there are enough other men, women and children out there forcing the A's to make uncharacteristic fielding choices, or to keep just enough momentum off a fly ball to let it die on the warning track. I have not been true to my calling. I have let preseason football interfere with my meditation. In order for the Oakland A's to win the American League pennant, I must be willing to forego the first month of the NFL season, not to mention a whole mess of NCAA games. I'm not sure I can remain that unselfish and pure. If you can't join me in willing the A's to win, how about just wishing a lot of little hard luck on the New Yuk Yankees?