Thursday, October 15, 2009

#78-Red Sox win the World Series.

It was the decade when...

Prospects for a No No Nanette revival looked slim.

What is "The Curse of the Bambino?" Sounds like some some horrible Mafia expression. "I'm putting the curse of the bambino on Frankie the Snake. That good-for-nothing louse crossed ma famigilia one too many times and so, (insert thumb in mouth.)" (Note: My knowledge of mafia patois is entirely constituted by the stories of Damon Runyon and occasional dining trips to Umberto's Clam House on Mulberry Street.)

Actually, no. The curse of the Bambino traces back to the worst sports sale in history, when Babe Ruth was traded by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee to the New York Yankees in order to fund Frazee's investment in a Broadway production of the musical comedy No No Nannette, or so goes the lore. In actuality, the money was used to mount a new play called My Lady Friends, the source material that No No Nanette was eventually based on. (But the story works better when it's a faggoty musical, doesn't it?) Whatever the show, Babe Ruth joined the Yankees. The Red Sox, once a powerhouse of baseball clubs - the Sox won the very first world series and garnered the title again five times before trading Ruth - hit a dry spell. Very dry. Death Valley Dry. Bob Newhart Dry. Betty White Vagina Dry.

From 1918 to 2003 the Red Sox were, well, losers. Not a single World Series title. Attempts were made. The team got close ('46, '67, '75, '86) but the cigar remained ever elusive. The plight of the Red Sox fan had become Sisyphian; it was a masochistic existence. The Susan Lucci of baseball, Boston's losing streak was so predominant over the years that the Red Sox had come to be defined more about their losses then their wins. And all too often the dreams were foiled (before they even got to The Series) at the hands of the ball club that cursed them. Yep, the damn yankees.

So, hooray, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 against the Cardinals (which itself had some historical value as the Cardinals had beaten the Sox in the '46 and '67 series) but the series itself lacked drama; it was a sweep by the Sox. The real triumph, the win that killed the curse, was the Sox's dramatic defeat of the Yankees to take the Pennant. After losing the first three games to the Yankees, it looked as if the Sox were in for another year of disappointment. No team had ever come back from 3-0 in the pennant championship before. But, miraculously the Sox turned things around in game 4 and went on to win the American League Championship in the most dramatic fashion possible, four straight victories against the Yankees, each win being necessary. After a pennant success like that, against their nemesis, the Sox weren't about to let the Series go south. The curse was lifted. Even Miss Cleo didn't see that one coming.

The joy of Boston fans was ecstatic.

I think it was the worst thing to ever happen to them.

Disappointment is addictive and chronic disappointment especially so. With the curse lifted, with the moment of victory and it's attendant release of surplus excitement passed, the Red Sox devotee is now a ball club fan like any other. For the Bostonian no summit will ever scale as high as World Series Victory night 2004. It's all downhill from that moment on. There is a reason that writer and Red Sox fan Bill Simmons titles his book about the championship "I Can Die Now."

At least Cubs fans can continue to live in blissful agony.

You AUGHT to remember.

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