Thursday, September 9, 2004

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Can two curses cancel each other out?

The Boston Red Sox have been on a bit of a run as of late -- going 21-7 in August and 7-1 in September. They've wone 20 of their last 22 games, and have gone 8-1 in their last three series against the cream of the American League West. Since August 15th, the Red Sox have chopped eight games off the Yankees' 10-1/2 game lead in the AL east. Even more enjoyably, these Sox are winning in a variety of ways -- pounding the cover off the ball one game, and then winning with quality defense and pitching the next. Even though they've suffered through a rash of injuries, everyone is starting to get healthy at the right time. David Pinto's wife thinks the Red Sox are in "kill mode." Even the New York Daily News observes:

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Red Sox don't need to rely on divine intervention to further their cause. If anyone is playing baseball that is blessedly pure, it's Boston, which has a rotation that routinely cruises through seven-plus innings and has barely put a wrong foot defensively since trading Nomar Garciaparra, its favorite son. If anyone is cursed now, it's the Yankees. Even Manny Ramirez stepped out of his own special universe yesterday to ask a visiting New Yorker about Kevin Brown, the Yankee pitcher who did what thousands of Red Sox fans have done across the decades [Brown punched a wall after a so-so start, breaking his non-pitching hand and sidelining him for at least three weeks--DD].

"He punched a wall? Intentionally? Wow," said the man who has been known to do silly things like play with a water bottle in his back pocket, but has never come close to committing Brown's stupidity.

Meanwhile, the Yankess have gotten into a pissing match with the Commissioner's office, and neither side looks good.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't post any of this, convinced from last year's experience that the very act of positive posting about the Red Sox could jinx the team and leave me cursed with spam comments for eternity. However, today I see that the Old Towne Team is on the cover of Sports Illustrated (here's Tom Verducci's article for SI subscribers, and Verducci's mailbag for everyone). Of course, this invites the dreaded SI cover jinx to rear its ugly head. Compared to the aunted Satanic powers of the SI jinx -- especially in this decade -- this humble blog can do little harm.

According to the Boston Globe's Bob Hohler, SI cover boy Curt Schilling and manager Terry Francona aren't too worried:

Schilling said he was not concerned. "We're bigger than that," he said. Nor was manager Terry Francona put off. "It's like worrying about the weather," he said. "You can't do anything."

There are forces more powerful than at work here. All a good Red Sox fan can do is salute the bravery of Schilling, Francona et al, check the Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report, hope that the baseball gods just let the best team on the field win the pennant (Intriguingly, today's odds sheet gives the Sox a better chance of winning the pennant than the Yankees, even though they're still two games back as of this writing), and pray that in some weird Buffy The Vampire Slayer fashion, the SI jinx negates the residual curse of the Bambino.

UPDATE: Murray Chass mournfully writes in the Times that because of the existence of the wild card, the Sox-Yankees pennant chase will not be as dramatic as the 1978 race. This may be true -- I wouldn't count out either the Angels or the A's just yet -- but overlooks one of the major benefits of the current playoff format. Now, instead of a one day playoff, the possibility looms that the Yankees and the Sox could play another seven-game series. Surely, Chass would grant that last year's ALCS series more than made up for the drama lost from the absence of an exciting pennant chase.

But if Chass wants to forfeit his press credentials to any of the six upcoming Sox-Yankees games, I'll take them.

When bloggers get press passes to Fenway -- then we'll know the blogosphere has arrived!!

ANOTHER UPDATE: The day I post this, the Yankees sweep a double-header and the Sox lose. Arrrgggghhh!!! [Blame Sports Illustrated!! Blame Sports Illustrated!!--ed]

LAST UPDATE: Jim Baker's discussion of the Sox today in Baseball Prospectus perfectly encapsulates the inner monologue of any longtime fan. It's also sidesplittingly funny:

By now, the Red Sox have put themselves in a position where not making the playoffs seems unlikely. What that means is this: as we speak, the following memo is going around the corporate headquarters of The Fates:


I am assuming that most of you haven't noticed that our frequent past project Boston Red Sox have gone on a 20-2 run. Because of that, we must begin planning immediately for their ultimate undoing. It's much too late to dash their hopes à la 1978 during the regular season. Clearly, we are going to have to come up with something for the playoffs, instead. Last year's work was extraordinary but we don't have a Grady Little on hand to make our jobs easy, so this is what we need:

  • I want the boys down in R & D to give me four scenarios of doom.

  • I need marketing to gauge the level of expectation of the Red Sox nation. How high is the cynicism factor? What can we do to overcome it, in order to maximize heartbreak?

  • Creative: Your thoughts? Can we top Bill Buckner without making it too obvious?
  • You have your assignments. I need your preliminary ideas on my desk in one week. In terms of priority, put the Cubs aside until further notice.

    Heh. Rueful heh.

    posted by Dan on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM


    Actually, I've been thinking of asking for playoff credentials from the Red Sox. Space is very tight there, so I doubt I'd get them.

    posted by: David Pinto on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Cancel each other?? 1+1=2
    Boston's doomed.

    posted by: wishIwuz2 on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Come on! DON'T TALK ABOUT IT! If you mention it, think it, hope it, it won't happen, and the Evil Empire will win again. I've been afraid to even put my Sox flag back up that I took down a week ago for the hurricane. What if I put it up and they start to lose?

    I hate this team.

    posted by: Steve M on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Actually, it shouldn't be too surprising that the Yankees would be sliding as drastically as they've been. According to the Pythagorean Standings, which determine the number of wins and losses that a team should have based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Yankees have been the most "overrated" team: they've won ten more games than they were projected to at this moment of the season. You might say that they're finally balancing out, and the Red Sox -- which have won one fewer game than they've been projected to, and which have a better Pythagorean record than the Yankees -- are catching up. Indeed, the Pythagorean says that the Red Sox should be nine games ahead of the Yankees, so who knows? We could see Boston continue their good play.

    posted by: Robert Tagorda on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    There's been some talk in Boston about resurrecting the "Cowboy Up" rallying cry from last year. Most fans aren't biting. However, Sox fans are starting to sign their emails with the cryptic "8791".

    I'll buy a Fenway Frank for the first person to figure out what that means.

    posted by: JR on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    '8791' is 1978 in reverse. 1978 is the year the Yanks closed a big lead on the Sox. They ended the season tied, leading to the Bucky Dent game.

    posted by: tvan on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    I worry about some Iowa Baseball Confederacy idea (by Kinsella, who wrote Shoeless Joe from which Field of Dreams was drawn) if there are offsetting curses, such as the Red Sox meeting the Cubs in the WS. Thousands of innings, 40 days and 40 nights of baseball...

    The Sox find a new way to kill us every year. There's an old Boston story about an old Irishman who comes into a pub and sees the Hub Team on the TV. "They killed our fathers and our grandfathers, and now the S.O.B.'s are comin' after us!"

    posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Your post goes up, Sox lose 7 to 1. Coincidence?

    Please, please, please--go back to outsourcing.

    posted by: Kelli on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Remember, kids, that the Yankees have now acquired the A-Rod curse. (Team acquires A-Rod. Team loses. Loses. Loses some more.)

    And, it's now the next century. Think the Bambino curse is now null and void.

    Sorry if I have violated some baseball rules here.

    posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Nice job, tvan. Now, let's see if the Sox can do it before this blog jinxes the whole deal...

    posted by: JR on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    The 20th Century was the Yankee Century, but this is the 21st. The Yankees have not won a World Seried this century (as long as you don't count 2000 as being the 21st century, which I think is technically correct). The Yankees are in deep trouble They have a poor defensive team that relies heavily on home runs and an abysmal pitching staff. As George has gotten older and more desparate for another title, they have depleted their farm system to the point they can't make significant trades. No matter how many free agents you buy, you can't stay on top without some help from the farm system.

    I'm not particularly a Red Sox fan (go Braves), but it's time for the Sox to end the curse. The ideal would be Red Sox beat the Yankees in the ALCS, play the Cubs in the World Series and win in the bottom of the ninth in game seven. Cubs fans would be happy because they made the Series. What a day that would be for baseball! Of course, hell would freeze over so there might be some reason for concern.

    posted by: MWS on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    I was at Game 6 last year at Yankee Stadium. You know which game six I mean, the one where our mantra, even as the Sox took the lead (and lost the lead, and took the lead) was. "it doesn't matter, they're going to loose anyway."

    And I was right, it just didn't happen until game 7 when Grady *Bleeping* Little didn't force Pedro out of the game. (I note that one of the posters above neglected to insert Bucky Dent's similar nickname).


    Remember, the Sox ALWAYS loose. And if they don't, they will. And if you don't realize that, then you are the reason they lost.

    And this is coming from an New York City raise BoSox fan. Yankees suck.

    posted by: Kate on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    see? see? you talkied about it, and they lost!!!!!!! see?????

    It's not insane if it is true!!!!!

    posted by: Steve M on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    It's the curse of the YES network.

    Steinbrenner left his assigned cosmic station, overstepped his bounds by creating his own sports network (before you say it, NESN is New England, not Red Sox, and they're now Fox anyway). He got too full of himself. The day he started fighting with Jim Dolan over airing YES on Cablevision, I realized that they would never win a WS while the YES network exists.

    The Sox won't win the series this year, either. The Cardinals are too good. I just want them to humiliate the Yankees, and I'll be happy with a successful season.

    posted by: Jim Dandy on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    I think there's a simple reason why the Red Sox are going to pull down the Yanks from behind and win the division:

    False hope.

    Think: finally slaying the Yankees in the regular season, and coming from behind to do it, is the only way to top last season for giving Sox fans false hope of finally winning it all.

    Then they lose to the Wild Card Yankees in the ALCS.

    You heard it here first.

    posted by: Crank on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    I fear that this may be an indication of the end times. The Sox win, Bush wins, principled conservatism and liberalism both die a thousand deaths, Iran and Israel mark the occasion by fighting a nuclear war, and we live the Book of Revelations . . . . oh, wait -- that's the Cubs winning the World Series.

    posted by: Daniel on 09.09.04 at 03:02 PM [permalink]

    Post a Comment:


    Email Address:



    Remember your info?