Monday, April 21, 2008

Curse Reversed?

I may be a little late in chiming in on this one, but the recent controversy over the Red Sox jersey that was buried underneath the visitors' clubhouse at the soon-to-be New Yankee Stadium, and was later unearthed at the apparent direction of Yankees' management, got me thinking. It got me thinking about something I wrote the day after the infamous Midge Game, that is game two of the Yankees-Indians' ALDS matchup of last year.

"For years prior to 2004, I'd observed the slogan "Reverse the Curse" all around Boston, including a "Curve" sign on Storrow Drive that was defaced to reflect the locals' favorite slogan at the time. I wondered to myself if they didn't really mean "Erase the Curse", if they actually understood the significance of "reversing" the curse. Were they really hoping to turn "the curse" on the Yankees, or was it just a case of improper use of the English language? Of course, I'm sure every Red Sox fan would love for the so-called "curse" to be deflected in the Yankees' direction, but I doubt if, prior to 2004, any of them would dare to set their hopes that high. I think simply winning a World Series of their own was all that they could have even dreamed of.

Then came the 2004 ALCS, and the greatest comeback in the history of post-season baseball. Notice that I choose to call it the greatest comeback, while most Red Sox fans choose to call it the greatest choke. You can draw your own conclusions, but I say that I'd rather give credit where it is due, while the Boston brethren choose to go the negative route, thus detracting, to some extent, from the accomplishment of their team.

But, that's just my opinion, and it's not my point anyway. What happened last night at Jacobs Field was beyond bizarre, and I have no intention of making any excuses for my team, just as Joba Chamberlain has decided to place the blame squarely on his own shoulders. I'm just throwing this out there for consideration. The Yankees are 2-12, I think, in post-season play since annihilating the Red Sox 19-8 in game 3 of the 2004 ALCS...and since Gary Sheffield made that ill-fated "they're a mess" quote following said game. But, again, the fact that Sheffield should just shut his trap and do what he does best isn't my point either.

I realize that the swarms of bugs that were flying around Jacobs Field last night weren't just harassing Joba, but they seemed to affect only him. And, they seemed to show up just in time for him to go back out for the 8th inning. And, with only 24 big league innings under his belt, making his first post-season appearance in an almost do-or-die situation for his team, he was the most likely candidate to be thrown off his game. Additionally, the Yankees were leading, and certainly stood to lose the most from a change in playing conditions.

So, I pose the question...are the Yankees now cursed? Or, are they just an uninspired collection of overpaid mercenaries who just can't seem to overcome the pressure of the win-or-else mentality? Or, will Roger Clemens earn his $20 million in game 3, pitch them back into this series and confirm that maybe it was his influence that turned this dismal season around in the first place?

We may begin to learn the answer to that last question tomorrow night. It may take longer to know the answer to those first two questions, though."

Looking back on this now, the answer to the first question is still maybe; the second question, yes; and the third question, no.

But, my point here is, when your team seems to obviously have the upper hand, why mess with that? You didn't see Yankees' loyalists trying to "curse" the Red Sox in the 80's or 90's. They didn't care, because the Sox didn't pose a threat. In fact, they were already cursed...supposedly.

Boston fans may be far from being able to rest that comfortably that the Yankees are unable to knock them off their mantle, but maybe it's time for them to start acting that way. You may never get the chance, folks, to be as cocky as the Bronx brethren have been in the past, so take advantage of your good fortunes while you can. I realize the uniform burying incident was the action of only one fan, but maybe this will serve as a wakeup call. When you're on top, there's no need to try to invoke superstition, because that type of action is bound to backfire. Or, as Sox principal owner John Henry likes to say "Don't awaken a sleeping giant".

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