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What Curse?
October 22, 2004

by Bill Hogan


 
 

Exactly what curse has been "reversed" now that the Boston Red Sox have won the American League Championship Series in unprecedented fashion over their arch rivals the New York Yankees?

They can't be talking about the "Curse of the Bambino." The curse that started in 1920 when the Sox gave away the first "greatest player in baseball history." An act that has kept Boston baseball fans wading knee deep in post-season pain and misery for 86 years – that is, if you happen to believe that a baseball team can actually be anathematized.

 
 


When the Sox came back from a three games to none deficit to close out the Yankees on Wednesday, they reacted like the weight of the world had been lifted from their shoulders; like they had purged all the sins of the dope (that'd be Red Sox owner Harry Frazee) that started all this 84 years ago.

The fans rushed into the streets of Boston and wreaked havoc. A riotous, pillaging fiasco that usually takes place after the hometown team wins it all. Not after the series before the series that actually matters.

A little known secret from the past two weeks was revealed on Thursday night. A night when there was no ALCS game on television. A night when the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals took center stage for the first time this post-season by default.

As hard as FOX Sports and the general media tried to make it seem like there was only one "real" baseball series to watch, there was no denying the teams from the National League their due. After all, there was no Game 8 of the ALCS to broadcast.

The Astros and Cardinals played seven exciting games of baseball. And they did it in a time slot usually reserved for a really bad, no way you'll be around next year, sitcom. The show NBC puts up against CSI. The repeats every station airs during the Super Bowl. The NLCS was the bridesmaid in the hideous purple gown with the ridiculous faux diamond tiara and pink carnation wrist corsage.

The best baseball player nobody ever saw this post-season was the Astros' Carlos Beltran. We won't see him in the World Series against the Red Sox, but we will see the team that really stands in the way of the Red Sox actually exorcizing the ghost of Babe Ruth from the halls of Fenway Park.

The Sox have been to the World Series four times since "the Curse." So, as historic as it was that they beat the Yankees four straight to get back there, they still haven't gotten that darned monkey off their back. And the fact that they and their fans are acting like they did leads me to believe that the smart money is on the Cardinals.

As true as it is that the Bronx Bombers are the Red Sox' nemesis, it's not the Yankees that have kept the Sox from winning a World Series championship for 86 years. The Mets beat them in '86 when "the Curse" let a Mookie Wilson grounder to first base slip through the legs of Bill Buckner.

The Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" won their fourth World Championship (the team's first came in 1919 – the year after the Sox won their last World Series) on a two out single by Joe Morgan in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1975 World Series against – guess who? The Boston Red Sox.

And if the Red Sox really and truly want to break some non-existent curse – fabricated by a bunch of Boston fans blinded by the fact that the Sox haven't been able to put together a championship caliber team in 86 years – they need to beat the team that beat them twice in the World Series since the Babe shuffled off to the Bronx.

That team would be the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1967 Hall of Famer Bob Gibson pitched a 3-hit gem to beat the Sox in Game 7. I don't know how "the Curse" factored in to this post-season disappointment, but I'm sure it did – somehow.

The Sox could have ended "the Curse" in its infancy in 1946 when they were up three games to two. But, when Enos Slaughter crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth to put the St. Louis Cardinals up 4-3 in the seventh game, their fate was pretty much sealed.

Tell me. What curse was "reversed" this week?

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