Bambino’s curse lives on

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They say few things are certain in life. The basics are taxes
and death. But for most New Englanders there is one more thing that
is far more painstaking and far more certain: heartache. Not from
the traditional tales of unrequited love, though; rather, this
heartache comes from a far more painful dwelling, the love of their
very own heartbreak kids, the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are one of the oldest and most-storied ball clubs in
the history of sports. Men like Ted Williams and Carlton Fisk
became the stuff legends are made of while dawning the blue caps
with the bright red “B”.

But Williams, while he will be best remembered as the best pure
hitter the game has ever known, will also have an asterisk next to
his name in St. Peter’s big book in the sky stating that for all
his feats, Williams, like so many before him and so many to follow,
still never earned the one ring more valuable than a wedding ring:
a World Series ring.

And Fisk, the durable catcher for so many years for those
venerable Red Sox teams of the ’70s and ’80s, will be remembered
most for his dance up the first base line during game six of the
’75 World Series, as if willing the ball to stay fair, which it
did, to force a game seven. But the Red Sox lost that game seven,
though they did keep their title as the world’s best runner-up. But
it wasn’t always this way.

Back in the early days of Major League Baseball, 1914 to be
exact, the Red Sox purchased the contract of a cocky pitcher from
the then minor league Baltimore Orioles. George Herman Ruth, or
Babe as he was aptly named for his pre-pubescent look, proceeded to
lead the Red Sox to three World Series titles in his four years
with the team and in the process led the league in shutouts three
times, as well as hitting more home runs than any other team for
two seasons. But, alas, the Babe had grown an oversized ego and
outgrown his welcome.

He was sold to the New York Yankees for $100,000; Thus the curse
of the Bambino was born. Before 1918, the year the Babe was sold,
Boston had won six World Series titles. Since then they have won 0.
The Yankees, conversely never won a World Series before 1918 and
since that year have won 26.

Aside from producing a perennial bridesmaid, the past 75 years
have also produced three generations of the most loyal, yet
dejected fans, sports have ever seen. When a native Bostonian is
asked where his allegiances lie, the reply is usually “I’m a
dejected Red Sox fan.” The only thing that changes in responses is
the pitch of each person’s voice; as the season wears on, the voice
becomes lower and softer due to the forewarning of the inevitable
October collapse of the boys from South Boston. Heck, Boston fans
wear the words “disconsolate Red Sox fan” as a badge of honor, and
with good reason.

Who can forget the slow roller that bounced between first
baseman Bill Buckner’s legs in the bottom of the 10th inning of
game seven of the ’86 World Series? If Buckner fields the ball
cleanly, he does a slow trot back to first, steps on the bag and
ends an almost 80-year curse. But instead, the tying and winning
runs scored and the curse lived on.

But maybe it was supposed to be that way. Maybe it was just
divine intervention. I mean the Northeast was originally settled by
Puritans who believed that only through pain and anguish would they
truly be living for and with God. Maybe this is the way it needs to
be.

One downside to the possibility of the curse of the Bambino
being lifted is that the very second the Bo Sox win a title, the
New England death rate will increase exponentially due to the large
masses of people who have asked God repeatedly over the last
century to let them live just until the Sox win a World Series. Be
careful what you wish for.

The only certainty in this dreaded tale of misfortune and
torment is that, because October is now here it is a relative
certainty that they will live to grieve another year, along with
thousands of other people who are connected only through their
barely distinguishable accents, tears upon tears of sorrow and the
hope of one more chance to reverse the curse.