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More than any other sport, baseball is about time. Well, more like what to do with time. Because there’s no clock, the time it takes to play a game can stretch into five-act territory. Sitting on the bench with nothing but your own thoughts, waiting until the baseball gods are appeased with an uneven score, can be an awful proposition. Especially if you’re struggling. Picture it: You’ve gone, say, 17 at-bats without a hit—14 without even so much as a walk. You’ve opened or closed your stance. You’ve taken extra batting practice. Nothing’s helping. And even after you’ve run through everything in your head, you’ve still got plenty of time to think about your sputtering career, because your team is in the middle of a seven-run rally and you struck out three batters ago. So starts the kind of hardball hysteria chronicled in Jinxed: Baseball Superstitions From Around the Major Leagues. In both layout and length, the slim little volume, edited by baseball-coffee-table-tome specialist Ken Leiker, more resembles a magazine than a book. The stories, penned by a handful of notable sportswriters, are short—none takes up more than a two-page spread—and printed on glossy stock. They’re surrounded by full-color photos of such ceremonial tools as chickens (representing Wade Boggs’ pregame eating habits), ladies’ undergarments (Rob Murphy’s in-game dress code), and a Diet Coke (Scott Eyre’s always-unimbibed lucky charm). Though some of the entries aren’t really about superstitions at all—say, the one on Roger Clemens and his tributary baby-naming habits—the book mostly delivers on its title’s promise. Highlights include the Julio Gotay–Elrod Hendricks chicken-bone-cross-at-second-base incident, the Pedro Borbon voodoo curse that supposedly prevented the Reds’ winning the World Series from the day they released him to the day he released them, and the laxative cocktails that Red Sox manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein kept drinking as long at their team kept winning. The authors offer no theories or judgments, though they do provide plenty of geek-pleasing punch lines. (Francona, for example, “not only became the first Red Sox manager to win a World Series in 86 years, but he also signed an endorsement deal with Metamucil.”) The best line of all, however, belongs to Oakland A’s GM, baseball genius, and ritual practitioner Billy Beane, who offers, “It’s not because this stuff works—I’m not that irrational. It’s just because it keeps me sane.” —Mike Kanin