Around the Horn: Diving in head first

It's been a crazy summer for sports in La Cañada, with the California Amateur Golf Championship at Oakmont early and the 2008 National Diving Championships going on now. The Summer Olympics are starting in a few weeks and everyone should be excited about that.

I got a chance to stand on the 10-meter platform at Rose Bowl Aquatics and frankly, it was frightening. I'm 6'2, so maybe it was the extra two meters of looking down, but jeez. I'm not even afraid of heights, but I found myself clutching to the metal railing like an old man with vertigo.

Imagine having a job where you're supposed to jump off the top of a five-story building and land head first.

Remember that the pool is a surface and that liquid is not always forgiving when you're dropping 33 feet into it.

This is obviously why I'm not one of the top divers in the United States.

It really is amazing though that these divers can jump, with no inhibitions, from that height, do a couple flips, keep their body in a ballerina-like pose and land as perpendicular to the water as possible to prevent splash. That they due this with regularity is astonishing.

If you get the chance, you should really mosey on over to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center for the Diving Championships. Events like this don't happen often and the chances of Los Angeles getting the Olympics in the next 40 years (or in my lifetime) are scarce.

It's going on today (12 to 4 p.m.) and Friday, Saturday and Sunday (3 to 6 p.m.). Go to TicketMaster to get tickets or just buy them at the door if they're available.

Speaking of diving head first, this is absolutely one of my biggest pet peeves in baseball.

Diving in head first into second or third or even home is fine. But diving into first is completely ineffective. I hate watching a runner do it, unless it's a player on the opposing team.

Bill Nye the Science Guy, who's a big Seattle Mariners fan, talked about it for a bit during an interview I read some years ago and said you're actually slowing your momentum down; that because you're leaping, you're not traveling as fast as if you had that extra push from your other leg.

And as long as I'm going off on a tangent here, let's talk about jinxes.

I don't believe in them, except for one: the perfect game jinx.

You can finagle your way around it, say a guy has gotten all 16 batters out so far, but you can't say the word perfect.

I was at the Derek Lowe near-perfect game, keeping score. After Lowe completed the sixth inning, I looked to my friend sitting next to me, showed him the scorecard and said, “This is getting interesting.”

He nodded and took a sip from his beer.

When the top of the seventh rolled around, the girl behind me said “Wow! Derek Lowe has a perfect game going,” and on the very next pitch, the Braves' Gregor Blanco singled.

ESPN.com is the king of jinx.

While I was at the game, a friend told me that they had put up a picture on the front page of Lowe and how he had a perfecto going just before the top of the seventh started.

Same thing happened with Kuroda's attempt at perfection two days prior.

It happened yesterday as well when Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched perfectly through sixth. ESPN put it up on their front page and the very next batter, Kansas City's David Dejesus got a single.

Even you people who don't believe in jinxes have to admit it's weird that there have been three attempts at perfection in the past month and all three were broken up at the exact moment the story went up.


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