Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baseball noose? Idiot rope?

It's a testament to my lack of interest in major league baseball that the latest in big league woo escaped my notice. But when the playoffs started, I foresaw a series I might take an interest in. Texas vs. California (San Francisco).

As I began to watch televised baseball, I was troubled by the thick, ropey nooses that players seemed to be wearing by choice. These baseball necklaces looked bulky and awkward.

Having recently developed a lesson on the fraudulent nature of the Power/Balance bracelet, I knew how this necklace business was going to go if I looked into it.

So I looked into it, and it was everything I expected. The rope necklaces infused with aqua titanium. Wow: aqua titanium. The manufacturer/seller of this snake oil assures us that the titanium solute woven into the rope is a fountain of bio-energetic miracles. It increases circulation, reduces stress, balances bio-energy fields, blah, blah, blah.

There is, of course, no scientific evidence to support any of the claims. I'm pretty sure we were supposed to be so impressed with "aqua titanium" that we wouldn't think to wonder: What's titanium got to do with athletic performance? If titanium is a performance enhancer, should athletes pop titanium pills? Of course not.

Sports writers generally agree that baseball players are among the most superstitious athletes of all. I don't want to say there's an inverse proportionality between intelligence and belief in superstition. Actually, yes I do.

To me, those baseball nooses are idiot ropes. They're a billboard that identifies the wearer as a credulous consumer of worthless woo.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for California's San Francisco Giants beating the snot out of the Texas Rangers. I love California, and I do not much care for Texas in general (though I do have friends in The Lone Star state).

But I don't mind seeing the rope-wearers on either team to get spanked by non-rope-wearers on a play-by-play basis.

For anyone to think that an unscrupulously-marketed rope necklace can boost their performance reveals a gullibility I simply can't respect. I know aging athletes are vulnerable to snake oil, and the stakes for MLB players are large. But we've been to the moon. It's time to turn away from superstition and move on to critical thinking and reason.

If you want better performance, train hard and take care of your body. Lose the neck rope and grab a jump rope.


Dean Baird said...

A favorite trick of these charlatans is to claim something like "The 2010 San Francisco Giants won the World Series wearing our gizmo-ropes."

They fail to point out that the gizmo-rope was worn by every team the Giants beat en route to the championship.

Dean Baird said...

Time recently did a piece on this woo.

Daniel said...

Baseball players tend to be the least educated professional sports players. They forsake college entirely or leave it much earlier than football or basketball players. One more reason to bring skepticism into the high school science class.