Catching Up with Jenn Rubenstein–the Nationals Sage Burner


Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog reported yesterday that two Nationals mega-fans were outside Nationals Park burning sage and sacrificing a rubber chicken in a desperate attempt to reverse the team’s fortunes. You can read more about the ritual at Nats Enquirer and Woeful Nats.

We caught up with the sage burner, Jenn Rubenstein, today to ask when, where, why, and how she decided to take the Nationals season into her own hands.

Jenn was born a DC sports fan. She attended Orioles and Prince William Cannons games as a kid, admiring Cal Ripken and driving to Baltimore to visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards. After the 1994 baseball strike sapped her enthusiasm for baseball, she declared her loyalty to the Nationals when they arrived in 2005. She now attends about 15-20 games a year. She’s been present for Nationals Park’s biggest moments: Strasburg’s debut, the Jayson Werth walk-off, and sadly, the Game 5 collapse the next day. But not until yesterday was she ever responsible for an actual Nationals win.

Why did you decide to perform these rituals?

It was actually suggested by Jayson Werth, and brought to my attention by Dan Steinberg. I was at work on Wednesday when the Nats had their day game vs the Cardinals, and after the game ended (badly), James Wagner’s gamer was published to the Washington Post website. Somebody asked Steinberg on Twitter if the person who sacrificed the cow for the caps earlier this year (more on that in a moment) could make it happen with the sage, and we went from there. The rubber chicken sacrifice has been going on since long before i got involved in any of this – that backstory is here and here.

Do you really expect it to work?

I’m a big fan of science, and evidence, and theories that can be proven again and again, etc… that said, we have a proven track record here, and like that bud light commercial said, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work!

Are you concerned you’re jumping the gun a little bit? 10-11 isn’t exactly the end of the world.

I completely agree, but it was in response to the players, and that’s what matters. What Jayson Werth asks for, Jayson Werth shall receive. I mean, have you SEEN that beard?

But I mean, yes, it’s very, very early. But that 10-11 record represented the team falling below .500 for the first time in over a season. Best to nip these things in the bud, while there still are so many games left to play.

What do you plan on doing if the Nats bats continue to slump?

Hopefully that will be a non-issue. (if last night is any indication..!) But if at some point, be it this season or in the future, something needs to be done… we’ll have to address it when and if the time comes, in the manner requested by the team.

Do you have any experience performing luck-altering rituals?

Oddly enough, yes. You may recall the Caps getting off to a horrific start this year – likely due to the combination of brand new coach, multiple new players, handful of injuries, the captain switching sides, and briefest of training camps with zero pre-season. But the caps were sitting in last place not just in the East, but in the NHL, and Jay Beagle called for the sacrifice of a cow, therefore a cow would be sacrificed. Rubber, of course, inspired by the aforementioned rubber chickens. Plus a rubber goat for good measure – you know, classic scapegoat legend and all. and of course, on Tuesday the Caps clinched the division, and the 3 seed in the East. More from the February sacrifice here, here, here, and here.

Before all of that, I was actually in the Washington Post print edition during football season.

I used to say “I’m not superstitious, I’m just a little stitious” – pretty sure I’ve surpassed whatever that threshold is by now…

Do you think the Nats franchise is cursed in any way? If so, why?

I don’t think any of the DC sports teams are cursed. Every team has streaks and slumps, and if we as fans can do our part to keep the teams winning – as in, winning their respective divisions, as all 3 teams discussed here have done in just the past year (!!!), well then why not?

Anything else?

Let’s go Nats.

Update: The Nationals players were amused by the ritual.


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