The World Series starts tonight. And if you’ve watched any Major League Baseball this year, you’ve probably noticed the twisted metal chains many of the players wear. If not, take a closer look at the necks of Texas Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus or San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Andres Torres. The necklaces, which are often coordinated with team colors, are all over the league – they caught my eye mainly because they look really uncomfortable to wear.
So what is this cumbersome accessory?
The necklaces are made out of titanium by a company called Phiten. It claims the jewelry is specially designed to enhance an athlete’s performance by providing pain relief, improving circulation, and reducing stress: “Phiten products work with your body’s energy system, helping to regulate and balance the flow of energy throughout your body. Proper energy balance helps to alleviate discomfort, speed recovery, and counteract fatigue. Athletes find that they tire less easily and recover faster from intense physical activity.” Former Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson is credited with starting the craze after discovering the product on an All-Star trip to Japan in 2001.
There is no scientific proof that Phiten’s products work, but players from 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett to 2008 and 2009 NL Cy Young Award-winner Tim Lincecum use and endorse the necklaces.
A Phiten titanium necklace costs around $40. The company has several other products on the market as well, including lotions, stress relieving patches, bracelets, socks, and compression shirts and shorts. The accessories are even starting to be used in other sports as a legal performance-enhancer. Whether the effect is bona fide or placebo (athletes are, of course, also known for their superstitions), for many these necklaces are a must-have on the field.
– Max Bass