I live with three curses I don’t believe in. One I live with because I live in Chicago. One because I hate the Yankees. One because I was born in Cleveland. Because the Red Sox are going to the World Series (Yay! Aaaaaahhh! YAY!) and everyone knows they kicked Yankee ass, I’m going to save their story for last.
Why the Cubs Suck: The Curse of the Billy Goat
So here’s the deal. A gazillion years ago (1945) the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianis, wanted to bring his goat to Wrigley Field to watch the World Series. It was Game 4 versus the Detroit Tigers. Oddly, I just spent a couple minutes thinking ‘Aren’t the Tigers in the NL? No, wait, I’m thinking Pirates.’ A few years back, my friend Stephanie came to visit and it was during Inter-League Play. I got two tickets to the Tigers/Cubs games, only to have Wrigley loose my reservation and pay me back.
Anyway, 1945. Sianis was asked to leave cause the goat smelled like a goat. Go figure. Legend has it that he cast a curse on the Cubbies by saying, “Cubs, they not gonna win anymore”. Well, the Cubs lost to the Tigers, and haven’t been to the World Series since. Lots of people claim that the whole ‘Bartman Ball’ fiasco, where Steve Bartman caught a foul ball that could have been an out, and turned into the Cubs folding, blowing their three-run lead in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.
A curse that showed up in 1945 doesn’t explain why the Cubs have won the Series twice out of the ten times they’ve been to the big game: 1906 L, 1907 W, 1908 W, 1910 L, 1918 L, 1929 L, 1932 L, 1935 L, 1938 L, 1945 L. If someone can show me that the curse started in 1910, maybe I’d believe it.
The Tigers last won the series in 1984, by the way and lost in 1909 to the afore mentioned Pirates.
Why the Indians Suck: The Curse of Rocky Colavito
No one knows this story. Shame. There’s even a book about it! 1960, the Indians traded the 1959 home run champion, Rocky Colavito, to the Tigers for the 1959 batting champion, Harvey Kuenn. Sounded like a fair trade, right? Batting versus home runs, whatever, everyone wins. Now, for baseball fanatics, you all know that a batting champ is generally better than the home run king, because the king may get homers, but it’s the runs that get the win. My dad once told me he hated Tony Gwen because Gwen was always chasing the elusive batting score of .400, instead of concentrating on what was good for the team. Baseball works best if everyone plays together. Go rent Hoosiers for an example of this (I know it’s basketball, shut up).
If you’re a baseball fan, you also know that you don’t make a trade based on one stat alone. So what’s the rest of the picture look like? Colavito was younger, but that one can go either way, to be honest. Colavito was also popular in Cleveland, and since they’d also dumped poor Herb Score (still a hero!) and Minnie Minoso to the Chicago White Sox, Colavito was really the only hot guy left that people loved. I think of Omar Visquel when I think of him.
Stat wise, Colavito was a power hitter and Kuenn was a singles hitter. So okay, Kuenn would be a good lead off man and Colavito the cleanup hitter. That’s still an okay trade, depending on what your team needs. Both men were a little slow running, but Colavito had a better arm which translates into better defense (he can throw the ball in from the outfield better than Kuenn).
Still, all that said, it shouldn’t have killed the Tribe. And in fact, it was a whole mess of idiot trades in the 50s and 60s that did it. The Indians traded Roger Maris in 1958, for example. Basically? They were stupid, and Colavito was the epitome of stupidity. They even hired him back in 1965, but at that point the Rock was past his prime and the trade was for Tommy John (of the famed Tommy John surgery) and Tommie Agee, both of whom went on to kick some ass.
I love my Cleveland Indians, but they are remarkably stupid.
Why the Red Sox Suck: The Curse of the Bambino
Back in 1918, the Red Sox were the best mother fucking team in the world. They’d won 5 World Series, the most ever, and was rocking the USA. A lot of this rock solid power was because of their hot young pitcher with an ass kicking curve ball: Babe Ruth. Yes, the Bambino started his career as a pitcher (and according to legend, married his wife because she told him he was telegraphing his curve by sticking his tongue out). In 1920, the Sox’s owner Harry Frazee needed some money to produce a play for his girlfriend, and sold Babe to the Yankees. Since then, the Red Sox sucked up the baseball world and the Yankees went on to become the powerhouse ball club.
Normally I dwell on the thoughts of a world where the musical was ‘Damn Red Sox’ and I chant ‘Fuck you Red Sox, BITE ME!’ at ball games. But I really can’t. Part of the allure of hating the Yankees is not the fact that they always seem to win, which they do. It’s that it’s New York! New York City is bigger, better, stronger, faster, etc. etc. and so on and so forth. People make cracks about how ‘every thing’s bigger in Texas’? Well, every thing’s cooler in New York. All the cool people on TV are from New York. Everything fantastic is New York. Except the Miracle Mets- Oh look! Even they had their day!
Basically New York is just too much of a good thing. New York, the Yankees in particular, is that annoyingly smart kid in the front of the class who always knows the answer. Even worse, that kid smarms at you when you’re wrong, calling you an idiot without every saying that. To top it off, he’s also the schoolyard bully.
Ahem. I digress. The Red Sox have actually done some prettying spectacular losses in their day, dating to their very first game ever, April 26, 1901, when they lost 10-6 to the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles moved to New York in 1903 and later became known as the Yankees. Oh look! Fucking Yankees again! On June 2, 1935, the New York Yankees hit six solo homers, beating the Red Sox 7-2. Shortly before I was born, April 10, 1977, Boston and Cleveland set the major league record for the most runs scored by both clubs in an inning. In the eighth, Cleveland outscored Boston thirteen to six. Cleveland won the game 19-9.
Yeah, the Red Sox had a talent for remarkable fuck-ups long before the Babe did his thing. And last night, they blew the legend out of the water. They dumped the curse into the bay like tea. They kicked it’s fucking ass and the Red Sox did something no team in baseball has ever done. In the ALCS (American League Championship Series), a best of 7 series, they lost the first three games and went on to win the last four. No team in baseball has done it, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer town.
Get down with your bad self, Boston!