Quick, Steal Albert Pujol’s Bats!

We need to give them to Ryan Howard next year.

Would Ryan Howard strike out so much if Charlie Manuel gave him a bat and said it had once belonged to Mickey Mantle? Maybe not.

A new study found that regular old golfers who are told that the putter they’re using once belonged to a pro golfer proved significantly better at sinking the ball. The amateurs reported that the hole “looked bigger” to them, which reminded us of what Allen Iverson used to say about his best nights: “The basket looked like an ocean.”

The belief that objects retain some sort of magical good vibes from those who’ve formerly used them, known as “positive contagion,” is common throughout human culture, and is close kin to the idea of talismans or lucky charms, also beloved by athletes. Witness the Phiten necklaces so many pro athletes seem to be sporting lately. (Hey, shouldn’t we own that name?) Sports psychologists say such tokens increase a player’s sense of control over events, and that helps them relax and stay calm. Earlier experiments by German researchers have shown that keeping your fingers crossed or holding onto a good-luck charm actually improves golfing performance.

There must be some way we can harness these powers of magical thinking for the benefit of the city’s pro athletes. All together now, let’s tell Michael Vick: “Break a leg!”