Out of Left Field
Courtesy of Your Columnist
from way out in left field
YOUNG BABE RUTH
... what about that curse?
in an American pastime
By STAN ISAACS
Some recent developments on the baseball front have, for different reasons, tickled my fancy. I am happy to share them with one and all.
Theres a new, deliciously wacky development in the saga of the Curse of the Bambino. Theres also the sad tale of a likeable young man who may have had the worst single short-lived debut in a major league baseball game. And theres the delight in seeing two fatcat corporate goliaths who would screw the fans now locked in The Battle of New York, a court snakefight in which each is trying to screw the other.
The Curse of the Bambino:
Nobody embraces suffering like Boston Red Sox fans. The Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians probably have enjoyed less success over the years than the Red Sox, but it is the Beantowners who have seized the national imagination as the fans of the team that has suffered the worst indignities in pursuit of glory.
Two facts: the Red Sox have not won a World Series since 1918. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season. The Sox had won three World Series when Ruth played for them. The Yankees started winning World Series shortly after Ruth arrived, have dominated baseball ever since, while the Red Sox have come close a few times but never won.
Hence, somewhere along the line, a person with psychic inclinations developed the theory that the Curse of the Bambino hangs over the Red Sox. It was there in 1946 when the Sox were beaten by the Cardinals; again in 1978 when they lost a playoff game to the hated Yankees in a game marked by a pop fly home run by weak-hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent. And the faithful believe only the Curse of the Bambino could explain the ground ball that trickled through Sox first baseman Bill Buckners legs which enabled the Mets to come back from the dead to win the sixth game of the 1986 World Series and then go on to win the seventh game and the Series.
Such is the power of the belief in the Curse that it was cited over the winter as afflicting ace Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. He got so tired hearing about the curse last year that he ridiculed it and said that if the Bambino came up against him, hed drill him in the ass.
After issuing that challenge, Martinez didnt win a game the rest of the season and was shut down with arm trouble for most of the season after that. The Curse!
Recently a Red Sox fan named Kevin Kennedy came up with a plan to remove The Curse. Kennedy is a resident of Sudbury, a community some 20 miles outside of Boston. Babe Ruth lived in Sudbury for a time when he was with the Red Sox. And legend has it that one night at a party at his cottage on a lake, Ruth, because he was drunk or because a party in his house left little room for the guests--or both--he threw the piano out of the window into the pond.
Kevin Kennedy somehow got the idea that if the piano were raised and put up for auction it would do two things: 1. raise money for the Restoration Project, a charity to help the mentally ill which he is involved with, and, 2. remove the Curse of the Bambino.
Checking the Sudbury archives, Kennedy learned that some boys had once reported finding gold in Willis Pond that turned out to be a gold piano harp. He now has organized two dives, one by a research diver recommended by the states Board of Underwater Archaelogical Resources, in Willis Pond. So far they have found nothing but sludge and silt.
Kennedy is undaunted. He has scheduled another dive later this month.
The typical long-suffering Red Sox fan might say his chances of finding the piano are better than the Sox ever winning another World Series.
Ron Wright, an infielder who has been in the minor league system of a few teams since 1994, was signed by the Seattle Mariners over the winter. He got into his first major league game April 14 against Texas. His first time at bat he struck out. His second at bat he hit into a triple play. His last at bat, he hit into a double play.
He did not hide from the press afterward. He said, Im just happy to be here. And except for me accounting for about nine outs [sic] myself, everybody else did the job and we won [9-7]. Im not going to say I wish I didnt play. I had fun. I wouldnt ever want to forget this day. I have been waiting for this day my whole life.
The archivists picked out one day in history that is somewhat comparable. In the fifth game of the 1920 World Series, Brooklyn Robins relief pitcher Clarence Mitchell hit into an unassisted triple play executed by Billy Wambsganss. His next time up he hit into a double play.
Wright did not play in another game. He was sent down to Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League. In 64 at-bats there, he's hitting .344 with four homers and 14 runs batted in. Id like to see the personable young man come up and get another chance; he has nowhere to go but up, I think.
The Battle of New York:
The Yankees and Cablevision, two goliaths of industry, are locked in battle. Over the winter the Yankees, who used to be televised by Cablevision, formed their own TV network, called YES. Cablevision, jilted by the Yankees, now wont put Yankee games on its system. The Yankees YES network wants to be put on a basic cable tier, Cablevision says that wont do because it doesnt want people who dont care about the Yankees to pay for them. Neither side really cares about the fans other than to suck up subscribers fees. After a springtime of fighting, the two biggies are now in court.
It is mindful of the scene at a campground in which a wife who sees the husband she despises locked in a battle with a bear. Go husband, she says, go bear.
© 2002 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is © 2001 by Jim Hummel. The Babe Ruth drawing is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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