(In the interests of full disclosure, I readily admit to being a life-long New York Yankee fan.Â Born half a mile from Baseball’s Temple in the Bronx, I couldn’t very well be anything but.Â I say all that to pre-empt any allegations of bias against the Boston Red Sox and toward the Yankees since I also readily admit to despising the Sox almost as much as I did the Brooklyn Dodgers in my youth.Â This very brief eulogy is not intended to praise the Boston Red Sox but to, once again, bury them.)Â Â
Â I’m not even certain what “The Curse of the Bambino” means.Â I know it doesn’t mean that the ghost of Babe Ruth haunts the Red Sox because he was never appreciated in one-horse Beantown, anyway.Â It surely doesn’t mean some supernatural force has condemned Boston to baseball mediocrity since its team has shown it is eminently capable of handling that task on its own.Â Â
Whatever it means, the curse struck again onÂ Thursday, September 29th, 2011.Â
If I don’tÂ fully grasp theÂ meaning of “The Curse,”Â I know wellÂ its history and the immediate and its prolongedÂ ramifications.Â Â ”The Curse”Â descended on the Boston Red Sox on or about Little Christmas, January 6th, 1920 when owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth to Yankee owners Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast Huston for what was then a record and piddling in retrospect $125,000.
There would be few baseball Christmases, little or otherwise, celebrated in Boston for generations.
Proud owners of a record five World Series Championships at the time, the Bosox then went eighty six years until 2004 before winning another another inter-league title.Â Along that dismal way, years characterized by near-misses, humiliating defeats, total collapses, and capstoned by Bill Buckner’s 1986 boner whenÂ the teamÂ was within one out of winning the Series against the Amazin’ Mets, Boston fans have suffered mightily.Â
The insanity of Frazee’s greedÂ effectively concluded Red Sox domination of the sport and ended their reign as the most successful team in major league baseball.Â Most grating for Boston fans, it paved the path for the greatest home run hitter in the history of baseball, led to the construction of the aforementioned Bronx Temple, and to the most successful sports franchise in history.Â
Was it just coincidental that the futureÂ ”Red Sox Nation” went into virtual freefall afterward or did the insanityÂ of peddlingÂ a great, young pitcher named George Herman “Babe” Ruth to the rival New York Yankees arouse the gods of baseball or the specter of the future “Bambino” to rise up and curse the Boston Red Sox now and forever?Â Â
That great baseball town of Boston, with precious little to be proud of as compared with the Yanks, isÂ suffering againÂ in September, 2011 as a result of its heroes ignominiously executing the franchise’s most deft and practiced play, the fine art of choking under pressure.Â
True, they scrabbled to within a game of grabbing a post-season wild card slot–after blowing a sureÂ invitation toÂ that invention created by the MLB to milk more money out of baseball fans–then did their usual Boston thing by doing what they do best, gasping, surrendering, and choking by losing to the AL last-place Baltimore Orioles, 4-3.Â
Â Â The BosoxÂ and their fans can always say the Yankees did them in by losing to Tampa Bay the same night but we all know the truth: The Bambino is up there somewhere in baseball heaven chomping on his cigars, chugging his beers, chortling over another Red Sox crash, and reveling in “The Curse of the Bambino.”Â
May the Boston Red Sox rest in peace, golf, party, and generally enjoy a carefree life in the off-season–and come back to replicate their latest failure in 2012.Â