Every sports writer has a secret fear of being a jinx, although I guess simply by writing that it's no longer a secret.
The most infamous jinx is an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which through the years has seemed to guarantee not only that the subject instantly will fall into a slump, but a pox will fall onto his children to the third and fourth generation.
Of course it's not true, and just as the SI cover does not guarantee failure, the actions of a sports writer or words of a play-by-play guy have no bearing on the action.
It still, however, is cringe-worthy when a baseball radio voice mentions the no-hitter at hand, and I thought twice last week before approaching Modesto Christian girls' basketball coach Robb Spencer prior to his team's game against Ripon.
The game itself was worth staffing. An MC win would have clinched the Trans-Valley League title for the Crusaders, while a Ripon win would have forged a tie atop the standings. But in doing some routine pre-game research I noticed that MC was entering the game with a 98-game winning streak in league play, and we've already written extensively about the ongoing triple-digit league winning streak carried by the Crusaders' boys.
A quick phone call to Mark Tennis at Cal-Hi Sports revealed what I had suspected, that no school in California ever has posted concurrent league winning streaks of 100 games or more in boys' and girls' basketball.
Spencer knew that in his 12 seasons at MC his teams had lost only one league game, but wasn't aware the program's current streak had reached 98 and had no way of knowing about being on the precipice of reaching the historic dual milestone.
Spencer was interested to hear about the chance to make history, but later said he didn't break the news to his team until after the game.
Which they lost to the Indians, 61-58.
Not only did I feel like a jinx, but at least three people in the MC community called me one day after the game. They were joking. I hope.
Just a couple days later I was in the stands to see the 26-game Valley Oak League win streak of the Sierra boys halted by Weston Ranch, but since about five people in that gym knew who I was, I escaped without incident.
But it did get me to thinking about the boys' and girls' basketball teams in the Stanislaus District currently riding roughshod over their leagues, a list that is topped by the MC boys, who will take their 115-game streak (Southern and Trans-Valley leagues) into tonight's TVL finale at Escalon.
The Crusaders, who have never lost a league game under coach Gary Porter, are closing in on the state boys' league record streak of 125 held by Fresno's Washington Union.
The next-longest streak is impressive, but significantly behind the Crusaders. Ripon Christian's boys have won 41 straight Southern League games since dropping from the TVL following the 2010 season. The Knights' last league loss came in their final TVL game, to Modesto Christian.
In addition, Summerville has won 15 straight in the Mother Lode League and Golden Valley just completed a 10-0 sweep of the Central California Conference.
With the 98-game streak of the Modesto Christian girls off the board, the longest current girls' streak is the 19 games won within the Valley Oak League by Manteca. Patterson's girls have won 13 straight in the Western Athletic Conference and Gregori will be shooting for a 12-0 Modesto Metro Conference campaign tonight when it visits Panther Palace.
All teams mentioned above should consider themselves jinxed.
The Sac-Joaquin Section will be unveiling its brackets late Wednesday afternoon. While the head-to-head first-round matchups are anybody's guess, it's not too difficult to figure out which teams have punched playoff tickets and which remain on the bubble.
By quick count there are 17 boys teams and 16 girls teams in the Stanislaus District that have secured berths either by claiming league titles, winning 15 games or compiling a solid résumé against strong non-league competition. The boys' field could be enhanced by as many as six teams currently on the bubble, while as many as nine teams could be added to the district's girls' contingent.
Division 1: IN: Golden Valley and Turlock are in. BUBBLE: None.
Division 2: IN: Gregori, Johansen, Atwater and Buhach Colony. BUBBLE: None.
Division 3: IN: Sierra, Modesto Christian, Patterson, East Union. BUBBLE: Manteca, Ceres.
Division 4: IN: Summerville, Riverbank, Escalon, Ripon. BUBBLE: Delhi, Mariposa, Hughson, Waterford.
Division 5: IN: Central Catholic, Ripon Christian. BUBBLE: None.
Division 6: IN: Turlock Christian. BUBBLE: None.
Division 1: IN: Enochs, Merced. BUBBLE: Modesto (would reach 15 wins by beating Gregori.)
Division 2: IN: Gregori, Buhach Colony. BUBBLE: Beyer, Davis, Atwater.
Division 3: IN: Modesto Christian, Patterson, Manteca. BUBBLE: Ceres, East Union.
Division 4: IN: Ripon, Sonora, Riverbank, Mariposa, Hilmar. BUBBLE: Los Banos, Hughson.
Division 5: IN: Turlock Christian, Ripon Christian, Central Catholic, Big Valley Christian. BUBBLE: Le Grand.
Division 6: None.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek