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Humorist dispenses rules for Yankees fanatics

Hart Seely is a journalist for the Syracuse Post Standard -- and a humorist who has had work published in the New Yorker, National Lampoon and Slate. He also has a literary ear for baseball. Seely was co-author of a book called "O Holy Cow," a book of verses constructed from actual statements made by the late Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto.

Seely's latest work is a baseball book called "The Juju Rules (Or How to Win Ballgames From Your Couch)." It is part baseball memoir, part humor book about how fans watching the Yankees play can follow Seely's 27 rules -- or superstitions -- for summoning magical powers to help the Bronx Bombers win. (Example: The Lookaway, in which the viewer turns his head away from the TV screen right as a pitched ball crosses the plate.)

Seely also talks about growing up in Waverly, Tioga County, where his grandfather founded the Waverly Sun newspaper, and about his Yankee-detesting father.

He even has a chapter about watching Game Six of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series with the late John Bonfatti, a Buffalo News reporter who was a die-hard Red Sox fan.

In the following Q&A, Seely talks about the book and his particular breed of pinstripe passion.

>Q: Is it possible you became a Yankees fan in reaction to your father being a Yankee hater?

A: I've spent the better part of my life wondering if I became a Yankee fan just to spite my old man. I honestly don't know. As best as I can tell, I became a Yankee fan before I became a functioning, thinking person. If that's true, I didn't understand the concept of rebellion against your parents enough to actually do it.

>Q: Which of the juju rules is the single most important?

A: Negativity. Always be negative. Not about life, but about your team. Think about it: If you go around telling everybody the Yankees are going to lose, and then they lose, at least you can then run around and tell everybody you were right.

>Q: Would following these rules work for a fan of the Red Sox, Mets or any other team?

A: I have instilled secret counter-viruses into each of these rules which will render them ineffective if used against the Yankees. I know for a fact that Boston fans were trying to use them last September. I trust they learned their lesson.

>Q: How often have you been to Yankee Stadium?

A: I have gone a handful of times, but not to the new Yankee Stadium. I am boycotting the new stadium, because the old one worked fine, and I consider the new park to be a terrible waste of taxpayer juju.

(Note: If the Yankees invite me down to promote the book, I will suspend the boycott and go in all my hypocritical glory -- but I won't buy any new Yankee Stadium swag.)

>Q: What has been the reaction of your wife, Janice, to living with someone whose devotion to the Yankees is so extreme?

A: She's a saint. And a Cardinals fan, who received courtesy juju last October.

She has seen things that nobody should ever have to see. And she knows enough to never walk into the TV room and ask, "What's the score?" Nothing kills a rally faster.

>Q: Regarding the chapter about Game Six of 1986: Do you think that your switching your allegiance to the Red Sox, along with Jay Bonfatti prematurely proclaiming, "We won the World Series!," upset the baseball or juju gods that night?

A: I have no doubt that I cost the Redsocks the 1986 World Series. In the EXACT moment that I decided to root for Boston, everything fell apart. Everything. I'm not talking about a few minutes lag time. I'm not even talking about 10 or 15 seconds. I mean, JUST as I threw in with the Redsocks, kaboom. How else am I supposed to view it?

Bonfatti was a great man. He is the only person in history to get me to root for the Red Sox. And look what happened.

>Q: Are your three children all Yankees fans, and what role does baseball fandom play in their lives?

A: My oldest son is somewhat ambivalent. I attempted to bribe him, as a young child, into becoming a Yankee fan, and I failed. My middle son is a little more forgiving; I believe he genuinely would prefer that the Yankees win, because he knows I'll be in a better (re: more generous with the money) mood. My youngest, my daughter, roots openly for the Yankees.

But all of them -- rooting fans or not -- have high Yankee IQs. They can each carry on a knowledgeable conversation about Bernie Williams.

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Short takes

*Bills receiver Stevie Johnson talks about his football idols and other topics on the hip-hop show "Sucker Free," at 11:30 a.m. today on MTV2.

*Former Bills Pro Bowler Eric Moulds will co-host a three-times-a-week online radio show about Mississippi State football, starting Monday at BulldogSportsRadio.com.

*ESPN personality Bill Simmons had to recuse himself from voting for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award after it was revealed that Simmons placed multiple bets on who would win it, according to Big Lead Sports. Simmons said that he didn't even realize he had an MVP ballot until after he had placed the bets. This is what they call on Twitter a "first world problem."

email: gconnors@buffnews.com