The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed

The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch: A Memoir of a Fan Obsessed

by Hart Seely
     
 

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From an award-winning humorist, a touching memoir and manifesto that reveals the deep secrets of fan jinxes, hexes, and charms

Did you know there is a secret to winning ballgames? It’s not the players, managers, money, or luck. It’s juju, and no one knows it better than Hart Seely. Seely has spent a lifetime practicing the art of juju from his

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Overview

From an award-winning humorist, a touching memoir and manifesto that reveals the deep secrets of fan jinxes, hexes, and charms

Did you know there is a secret to winning ballgames? It’s not the players, managers, money, or luck. It’s juju, and no one knows it better than Hart Seely. Seely has spent a lifetime practicing the art of juju from his living room. And winning ballgames for the New York Yankees. He paces floors. He yells at defenseless TVs. He rallies the team like Churchill addressing the collective British soul. But what he is really doing is harnessing juju energy to influence the outcome of games. And it works.

In this uproarious, unforgettable fan confessional, Seely shares the basics of juju for the beginner—“Setting the Table,” asking for a called strike instead of a walk-off homer—to advanced juju—“Bringing the Neg,” predicting bad events to keep them from actually happening—to the deepest, darkest formulas of this age-old art. Along the way readers come to know Hart and his hilarious band of fellow juju practitioners, a secret club of friends whose fandom bonds them across decades, not to mention won/loss columns.

Nostalgic, heartwarming, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Juju Rules is a memoir of a life well-lived in service to one’s team that shows how love can be a powerful passion in the best way.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Juju, an “anecdotal science rooted in the theory that every living being has a cosmic purpose...,” can be applied to all sports, but Seely’s expertise is baseball. The Syracuse Post-Standard journalist’s affections are for the New York Yankees; he even accepts credit for being the reason “so many people hate the Yankees.” Seely, who was ironically spawned by a father with an “all-consuming hatred” of his son’s team, weaves his life as a Yankees fan with instructions on how to apply the rules in a fast-paced, hilarious fashion—at times touching, but never dull. Included are historical tidbits that only a true fan would know or care about. This rollicking exposition unveils a rabid fan who claims to have a “Jekyll/Hyde” complex with respect to the Yankees. There is no Jekyll or Hyde—there is only Seely, a true fan. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"As he chronicles his unique relationship with his father (a fan of any team playing the Yankees), learning to appreciate the wisdom of Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto while listening to games with his grandmother, pursuing the love of his life and commiserating with a comedic stable of Yankee-loving (and Yankee-hating) pals, genuine moments of pathos, heart and happiness emerge."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Seely...weaves his life as a Yankees fan with instructions on how to apply the rules in a fast-paced, hilarious fashion—at times touching, but never dull...This rollicking exposition unveils a rabid fan who claims to have a 'Jekyll/Hyde' complex with respect to the Yankees. There is no Jekyll or Hyde—there is only Seely, a true fan."
--Publishers Weekly

"Hart Seely’s use of 'juju rules' in support of the Yankees is not only curious, hilarious and excessive but also familiar! His 'off the wall' tennis ball game (played at home to spur a Yankees rally) was also a backyard passion of my own. Clearly Hart comes to the classic fanatic level, and this chronicle of his life as a devoted fan is entertaining – and universal."
– Tony LaRussa, former major league manager

 "Part George Bailey, part Yoda, part screaming superfan, Hart Seely has written a hilarious memoir that gives fans everywhere the mystical tools they need to win games from hundreds of miles away."
–James Finn Garner, bestselling author of The Politically Correct Bedtime Stories Trilogy

 "A heart-warming, hilarious story about being a Yankee fan? It must be a joke, right? And yet, here it is. The Juju Rules is a wonderfully-told story that reminded me why I fell in love with baseball in the first place. You don't have to root for the Yankees to enjoy this book, but it certainly helps. Hey, Red Sox fans: I'd like to see you top this!"
--Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig

"I kept waiting for Hart Seely’s The Juju Rules to stop being funny, but it never did. Seely tells the story of all of us who have ever sat in a favorite chair knowing that if we got up to go to the bathroom at the wrong time it could doom our team to defeat and maybe even cost us a pennant."
--Glenn Stout, author of Fenway 1912 and series editor of Best American Sports Writing

"I used to think Iwas a crazy Yankees fan, but Hart Seely has me beat by a grand slam. The Juju Rules is in a league of its own – a self-help book for baseball addicts, a story with hilarious jokes and zingy one liners, a satirical look at sports and popular culture, and a truly poignant memoir. The scene in which the author watches a Yankees game while his wife is in labor is now my go-to image whenever I need a laugh. No fan should even consider following the 2012 season without arming himself with this book first."
--Jane Heller, bestselling novelist and author of Confessions of a She-Fan

Kirkus Reviews
Syracuse Post-Standard reporter/humorist Seely instructs fans on how to harness the awesome power of "Juju Rules" on behalf of their favorite teams, but primarily if their favorite team is the New York Yankees. Baseball has ever been the go-sport for writers, and the Yankees--when someone's not pining for the Brooklyn Dodgers of old--the evergreen team du jour. In that respect, Seely treads well-covered ground in describing the fusion of his pathological love of the Yankees with his comical juju-generating tactics, which range from selecting the right good-luck chair to "the lookaway," wherein the seasoned juju practitioner looks away from the TV at the precise moment a ball is about to cross the plate in an effort to induce a strike or a hit. The author presents 27 rules, and while his good-natured humor abounds, the concept quickly loses its novelty. Woven through the juju rules, however, is a far more interesting narrative: Seely's life story, beginning with his upbringing in upstate New York through his present-day life as a reporter. As he chronicles his unique relationship with his father (a fan of any team playing the Yankees), learning to appreciate the wisdom of Yankee announcer Phil Rizzuto while listening to games with his grandmother, pursuing the love of his life and commiserating with a comedic stable of Yankee-loving (and Yankee-hating) pals, genuine moments of pathos, heart and happiness emerge. It's unfortunate that the juju gimmick obscures a fine addition to the hallowed library of baseball-centric memoirs. Similar to most baseball games--a lot of dead time between meaningful moments, but those moments make it worthwhile.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547622392
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/17/2012
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Prologue: When Ari Met Seely

True story: In 2003, I personally broke the news to Ari Fleischer—then White House press secretary in the hell-spawned administration of George W. Bush—that the Yankees’ only decent starter of late, Jose Contreras, alias “the Bronze Titan,” had tweaked a gonad and was headed for the disabled list.
   “Oh, no,” Fleischer said. “He’s our only decent starter of late.”
   Ari had phoned to praise my hilarious op-ed piece in that morning’s New York Times. After a few spineless pleasantries, we cut to the glaring, red-meat issue of the day: the senior citizen kazoo band that was masquerading as the New York Yankees’ starting rotation. History will show that while Fleischer horribly understated the consequences of invading Iraq, his dire assessment of our pitching staff proved to be chillingly dead-on.
   I tell this story not to boast about having a hilarious op-ed piece in the Times, an event so common that it’s beneath mention. I tell it to save a life. Your life.
   Originally, I planned to model this book on John Grogan’s 2005 bestseller, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, the inspirational, 300-plus-page tribute to his Labrador retriever, which was later transmogrified into an Owen Wilson movie and a lucrative series of spinoffs, including the children’s book A Very Marley Christmas. Hell, I’ve had dogs. Good dogs, each one as loyal and commercially viable as Marley. I quickly conceived a project with the working title “Me & Bullwinkle: Livin’ and Lovin’ with the World’s Most Commercially Viable Dog,” only to realize that every writer in America would be sniffing from the same literary kibble. I foresaw the bestseller list:

   1. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Tricksie
   2. Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Fluffy
   3. Glenn Beck, Arguing with Poodles: The Continuing Assault by Untrained Lap Dogs on Our Furniture
   4. Barack Obama, The Audacity of Bo
   5. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Liv-a-Snaps for the Soul

   That day brought a revelation: In our lives, baseball players fill the same niche as pets.
   Think about it. Your favorite major leaguer’s career has the life span of a beagle. Some players go twenty years. Some get hit by Buicks. You’ve got your loyal Cal Ripkens, who never tire of fetching the ball, and your rabid Ty Cobbs, who need an iron muzzle and cattle-grade shock collar. Some players simply cannot be trained. You feed them, walk them, rub their tummies, but with the bases loaded and two out, they pee all over the carpet.
   Applying the Marley template, I decided to write “Jeet & Me,” a delightful book and future motion picture about my amazing adventures with Derek Jeter. For example, there was his courageous 2004 headlong dive into the stands against Boston, his flip play at home plate in the 2001 playoffs, and his heartfelt speech in 2008 after the final game in Yankee Stadium. What about Jeet’s game-opening home run against the Mets in the 2000 Subway Series? Or the ball he hit that landed in twelve-year-old Jeffrey Maier’s outstretched glove in the 1996 postseason? Or his glorious 3,000th hit, a home run, in 2011? Let’s not forget his women: actresses, singers, supermodels, all of whom I often Google. I have so many fond memories of Derek, where would I start? (Of course, I’d store a few holiday chestnuts for “A Very Jeet Christmas.”)
   There’s just one rub: during those inspirational Jeterian moments, I did not exist.
   Generally, I have no clue where I was or what I was doing, other than that I was screaming at some cowering, defenseless TV. I was in a bar, or my living room, or hiding behind a couch—frozen like a Bond girl squealing “Look out, James!”—while some pitcher tried to separate Jeet from his sternum. In those situations, I was attempting to channel incalculable amounts of energy into Jeet’s astral plane, and I was surely frightening small children, most notably my own. But it’s all a thick, frothy blur. I wasn’t there. I was just watching on TV.
   Good grief. At least with a dog, you get up and run around the yard. To scratch his belly, you don’t just lie on the couch and toggle a remote.
   Some folks render unto humanity great gifts, such as American League pennants. Others exist to pace the rug, chew their knuckles, and watch. Sadly, I am of the latter species.
   I am the wedding guest who leaves the crowded ballroom to monitor scores that scroll across the TV.
   I am the father who can recite the Yankees’ Double-A pitching rotation at Trenton, but not his children’s middle school teachers.
   I am one of the reasons so many people hate the Yankees, or at least Yankee fans.
   I am that sad soul who is commonly introduced as “the biggest Yankee fan you’ll ever meet,” which is code for “Whatever you do, don’t mention the Yankees!”
   I was always this way. The Yankees are the ghosts that whisper over my shoulder, the schizophrenic voice of God inside my head. In the shower, I rally the team, like Churchill addressing the collective British soul. Lying in bed, I converse with Derek, share pitching secrets with Mariano, and dispense fatherly advice to Joba.
   Some say only Jesus Christ is capable of offering unequivocal love to those he will never know. They never met a Yankee fan.
   But it’s not always love. Inside me lurks a dark, swaggering presence, a Yankee Mr. Hyde. I cannot control him. I cannot reason with him. He is coarse and insatiable, petty and vindictive, a truly bad sport. He cheers when enemy players get hurt. He forgives the behavior of any Yankee, knowing the only crime is losing. He would sell his soul, if he had one, for a decent bullpen lefty. When we win, he boils with the rapture of one who has been touched by God. And when we lose, he is measuring nearby bridges.
   Throughout my life, I have seldom made personal decisions without seeking input from this monster, this fiend, who eyes me so disappointingly in the mirror.
   I am not sure whether this book is a celebration of sports or a one-way journey into mental illness. But here goes . . .
   True story: I win ballgames for the New York Yankees.

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Meet the Author

HART SEELY is an award-winning reporter living in Syracuse and a popular humorist. His pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, National Lampoon, and Slate. He is the co-editor of O Holy Cow: The Selected Verses of Phil Rizzuto, and he wins Yankees games from his living room.

Hart Seely is an award-winning reporter for the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse. His humor pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, National Lampoon, The New Republic, Village Voice, Slate, Spy and NPR. He has written or edited five books, including  O Holy Cow: The Selected Verses of Phil Rizzuto and Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld.  Seely lives in Syracuse with his wife, Janice, and three children. There, from his living room, he wins baseball games for the New York Yankees.

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