Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Now Let's Talk About the REAL Curse...
Yeah, yeah, yeah....THE CURSE. We're hearing about it so damn much that a reasonably contrary individual--who might otherwise be pulling like mad for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series--could start to get fed up and switch allegiance to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Not that I want to jinx anybody or anything. Sure, the Red Sox are cuddly. They sucked it up but good and bested the talented Yankees in historically improbable fashion. Which spawned a debate over whether THE CURSE is considered lifted by virtue of the Yankees being vanquished. How sweet it was.
But no, they were talking about THE CURSE in 1986, when the bad-ankle-hobbled Bill Buckner blew a potential Series-winning grounder in Game 6 versus the New York Mets. The endlessly vilified Buckner--who was a very good baseball player (go check the numbers)--never has lived it down, because the Mets went on to win that game and also Game 7, to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. The point being that the Sox were better than the Yankees back then, but didn't win the whole enchilada, which reestablished that THE CURSE was really all about the fact that the Red Sox have not won a world championship since 1918.
They've had their chances, though. Before the '86 fiasco, there was 1946 and 1967, when they lost the Series, both times, to (gulp) the St. Louis Cardinals. (Not a good sign to anyone who believes in the big "C," I daresay.) The Sox also lost the classic 1975 Series to the Reds, when Carlton Fisk gestured his Game 6-winning homer to stay fare. It matters little that, as of this writing, the Red Sox are up two games to none heading into Game 3 in St. Louis. If THE CURSE is real, then there is still plenty for Sox fans to fear.
But the focus on the Sox as the ultimate baseball tragedians is totally off-base. The saddest sacks of all are the Chicago Cubs. If black magic has a hold on any MLB franchise, it's the Cubs.
Consider: Red Sox fans moan that their team hasn't won a World Series since 1918. Gotcha beat: the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. Furthermore, while the Red Sox are currently making their fourth World Series appearance in 37 years, the Cubs have not participated in a Series since 1945. That's 59 years without a league championship, and 96 years without a world championship. If anyone's got the bad karma, it's the Cubs, who are the oldest established baseball franchise to have gone the longest without tasting some kind of finite victory. Heck, even the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Florida Marlins, both fairly recent expansion teams, have won all the marbles.
No, something REALLY deep afflicts the Cubs. One need look for proof no further than 2003's playoff set pitting Cubs versus Marlins. Nerdy-looking Steve Bartman interferes with a potential pop-foul out, and the Marlins take advantage, winding up winners. (I wonder if there's a desert island somewhere, where guys like Bartman and Buckner can live out their lives in relative peace. Sort of an anti-Field of Dreams. Other spotted drinking coconut juice: Ralph Terry, Fred Merkle, Mitch ("Wild Thing") Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, the entire 1981 Montreal Expos team.)
Yeah, I'm losing my jizz where the Red Sox are concerned. Because THE CURSE doesn't really belong to them. I'm here to set the record straight: the Cubs are the sorriest old-line franchise in baseball. Even when they have talent, they manage to tank out. And they do it really pathetically. Their record of ineptitude is unparalleled. They are cursed beyond the boundaries of normal cursedom.
Of course, the title will go to Chicago if the Red Sox should win it all. There will be no more talk about "long-suffering Bosox fans." No more expletives uttered in conjunction with the name of Bucky Dent. No more Bill Buckner to kick around anymore.
But if the Sox blow it, and all that public angst and media-intensive wailing and gnashing of teeth has us back on THE CURSE Watch, I say, "Sorry, Ben Affleck, your team may blow the Big One, but at least you GET to the Big One..."
Cubs fans are the loneliest baseball fans on the planet. They always, ultimately, have absolutely nothing to cheer about. This despite their share of philosophical reasons to hope for better days. The Red Sox, after getting their hopes up, may become disappointed with the girl they've brought to the prom, but heck, the Cubs can't even get a date.
So the Sox have a golden opportunity to put an end to THE CURSE folderol. I wish 'em luck, if that's what they really want. It's not gonna be the same, though. They'll become the "all-powerful Red Sox," then. If they wanna throw 86 years of charismatically frustrating tradition down the drain, that's their prerogative. At least then the Cubs can wear the crown that has always been rightfully theirs.
But hey, don't count the Red Sox out yet. A two-game lead is nothing these days. They proved that themselves only last week. But if you do win it all, Bosox, you can't ever get THE CURSE back. So you might wanna re-consider.
Prediction: Cards in 7. THE CURSE lives.