As bullpen coach for the Washington Nationals and a former major leaguer himself, Matthew LeCroy knows all about the role that superstition plays in the game of baseball. It can be summarized this way: No matter if you believe, you must respect the possibility that what you eat, and when you eat it, might have something to do with your team's winning streak.
Which brings us to the banana and mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread — "a southern delicacy" — that are responsible (give or take) for the Nationals move into first place in the NL East. The Nats are 5-0 on days when LeCroy eats banana and mayo on white before a game. Washington was as many as 3 1/2 games out of first place on June 1, but the Nats have won five of six and they're tied for first place with the Atlanta Braves as of Monday afternoon.
And nobody can prove it's not because LeCroy eats banana and mayo on white from time to time.
LeCroy grew up in Belton, S.C., and, like other Southerners, says he has always loved the sandwich. But he didn't connect it to baseball superstition until five years ago when he was a manager in the minor leagues, and his sandwich consumption coincided with — or was a direct cause of — a winning streak.
Reporter James Wagner of the Washington Post talked to LeCroy about the power of the sandwich as it pertains to the Nats:
“A lot of people were hurting in the beginning, and we needed some big wins so I thought, ‘I gotta go with the banana-and-mayonnaise,’” LeCroy said late last week.
Not all of Washington's wins this month have come on B&M days for LeCroy. He would be foolish to use up all of that good luck in such a short period of time:
LeCroy is judicious about using his lucky sandwich charm. With the Nationals, he insists he eats the sandwich only on days when he feels they are in a rut and need a win. And when he does eat the sandwich, he eats only that. “You can’t go to it all the time,” he said. “If you go to it too much, it doesn’t work.”
It's six-month season. A marathon, not a sprint. So it makes sense that the game's superstitions would work in a similar way. It's just as unnatural to eat banana and mayo every day as it would be to win every day. Nobody should expect to go 162-0.
More baseball superstitions that might or might not have worked — but don't mess with them:
• Brandon Webb wearing the same jersey
• Jayson Werth watching Christian Bale movies
• Jason Giambi's famous golden thong
• Aubrey Huff's World Series rally thong
• Kevin Gausman's stockpile of donuts
• Elvis Andrus's lack of a haircut
• Mark Kotsay's burnt bat offerings
• Carl Crawford's respectful Jackie Robinson shoe fetish
• Justin Verlander's Taco Bell dependency
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