Monday, October 18, 2004

A New Curse for the Red Sox


All baseball fans and many non-fans know that the Boston Red Sox have failed to win a World Series since 1918, having appeared vainly in the Series of 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986. That failure has been attributed to the Curse of the Bambino -- Bambino being a nickname for Babe Ruth. Ruth played for Boston from 1914-19, first as an excellent pitcher and then as a slugging outfielder. The Sox won three American League pennants during Ruth's tenure (in 1915, 1916, and 1918), and each time went on to win the World Series. But Ruth was traded to the Yankees after the 1919 season. The rest is history: post-season futility for the Red Sox and dominance for the Yankees -- a mediocre team until Ruth's arrival.

To make matters worse for Red Sox fans, a new curse has descended on the franchise. I trace the new curse to pivotal play in the 1986 Series. Here's what happened, according to the New York Mets:
In Game Six of the World Series, the Mets complete a miracle, two-out comeback from 2 runs down in the bottom of the 10th, when Mookie Wilson dribbles a ground ball through Boston first baseman Bill Buckner's legs to score Ray Knight for a 6-5 victory.
The Mets then went on to win the win the seventh game, and the World Series. Now look at the Red Sox post-season record since 1986:

1988 AL Championship Series Oakland Athletics Lost 0-4

1990 AL Championship Series Oakland Athletics Lost 0-4

1995 AL Division Series Cleveland Indians Lost 0-3

1998 AL Division Series Cleveland Indians Lost 1-3

1999 AL Division Series Cleveland Indians Won 3-2
1999 AL Championship Series New York Yankees Lost 1-4

2003 AL Division Series Oakland Athletics Won 3-2
2003 AL Championship Series New York Yankees Lost 3-4

The sharp-eyed reader will have noted that the Red Sox have failed to advance to the World Series since the year of Buckner's boot. That's because the Red Sox are now suffering the Curse of Bill Buckner. Not only can't the Red Sox win a World Series, they can't even get into the World Series.

Will the Sox break the spell this year? At this point -- with the Yankees leading the American League Championship Series 3 games to 1 -- it would take something of a miracle. I expect the Curse of Bill Buckner to prevail.


The Red Sox performed the miracle and won the ALCS in 2004. They went on to win that year's World Series, and encored in 2007.

The Yankees, in the three postseasons since 2004, have failed to advance beyond the first round of playoffs. And this year (2007) the Yankees failed to win the AL Eastern Division title for the first time since 1997.

It has now been seven years since the Yankees won a World Series (in 2000, over the New York Mets). Had the Yankees not folded in the 2004 ALCS, the story might be an entirely different one.

It is evident that the Yankees now suffer under a curse, which I hereby name "The Curse of 2004."