Dodgers Paid Russian Scientist For Psychic Boost
As a sport that arouses almost religious fervour it is unsurprising that baseball has its fair share of superstitions.
It's said that you will be jinxed if you lend your bat to another hitter, while some players stick chewing gum on their caps to bring good luck.
But rarely in the history of America's national game has there been anything quite like this. Frank and Jamie McCourt, the multi-millionaire owners of the LA Dodgers, have been revealed to have employed a Russian scientist to beam thought waves to boost the team's chances.
According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, the McCourts paid Vladimir Shpunt several hundred thousand dollars over five years to apply his "V energy" and help the Dodgers to victory. Between 2004, the first season under the McCourts' ownership, and 2009, Shpunt was retained for Dodgers matches, despite the fact that he knew little about baseball.
He would channel positive vibes towards the players as he sat in Boston, some 3,000 miles from LA. By watching the game on television, he could get instant feedback on how his energy was affecting performance.
"It's very big work. I like this team to win," Shpunt told Shaikin. Shpunt began his professional life as a physicist in St Petersburg but says he discovered he had healing powers in the 1980s.
He was introduced to Jamie McCourt in 2004 and claims to have cured her through long-distance energy transmission of an eye infection.
The McCourts appear to have been delighted by his services. In September 2008, after the Dodgers won their National League West championship, Frank wrote in an email "special thank you to vlad for all of his hard work". Dodgers fans are understandably bemused by the news of the unconventional arrangement which comes in the middle of the McCourt's very messy divorce. "Say what you want about the McCourt ownership," wrote the fanzine True Blue LA, "but you have to hand it to them for finding new and creative ways to embarrass themselves."