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The Name Game Is No Game

About three in four ballplayers reported they engaged in at least one superstitious behavior, and a majority said they practiced that behavior every game.

American ballplayers were somewhat more superstitious than their Japanese counterparts, Burger and Lynn found. Players from five American teams participated: the Anaheim Angels, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the formerly cursed Boston Red Sox, the 2004 World Series champs.

_____Unconventional Wisdom_____
Aid From the Gray Lady? (The Washington Post, Mar 13, 2005)
Dollars and Scents (The Washington Post, Feb 27, 2005)
Up in Smoke (The Washington Post, Feb 13, 2005)
Previous Columns
E-mail Rich Morin at morinr@washpost.com.

The researchers' findings were published in the current issue of Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

Wearing the same article of clothing game after game (until the player suffered a bad game) was "quite common," Burger and Lynn reported. Some players took their rituals to extremes, however -- such as the American player who reported that he had worn the same athletic supporter "going on four years," they wrote.

One can only hope that he occasionally had a bad game.

War, Then and Now

Is Iraq becoming another Vietnam in the public's mind?

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll provides some evidence that public opinion about the current war is similar to that during the Vietnam conflict: 51 percent said the war with Iraq is a "mistake," while 48 percent called it the right thing to do. That's virtually identical to the percentage who branded the Vietnam War a mistake in early February of 1968 -- just one month before President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection in the face of rising discontent with the war.

Uh, oh. Deja vu all over again?

Perhaps not. A deeper look into the numbers suggests that critics of the war with Iraq should wait a bit before they raise their fist in a power-to-the-people salute.

That's because the politics of this war are vastly different -- a key reason why President Bush continues to enjoy narrow popular support in the face of divided opinion over the war.

In 1968, Gallup surveys found that more than half of Democrats and Republicans thought that Vietnam was a mistake. The existence of a large and growing antiwar crowd within Johnson's own party emboldened Democratic leaders to speak out against their president.

That was then. On the Iraq war, both parties are strongly united, but on opposite sides. That unity is reflected in the Post-ABC poll results: Eight in 10 Republicans say the Iraq war was not a mistake and an equal proportion of Democrats disagree, providing backing for the Democratic leadership to oppose Bush while Republican party members remain steadfast in their support.

The telephone poll of 1,001 randomly selected respondents was conducted March 10-13.


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