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Curse Newsbeat

Friday, November 01, 2019

With Nationals’ World Series win, the D.C. sports curse seems well and truly dead

Just a few years earlier, Washington Nationals fans would have known the script when they first took that lead over the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series. The lead wasn’t going to last.

The city had gone title-less in the major sports for decades despite having some decent teams. They just all fell flat on their face. The Nationals teams of 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Alex Ovechkin era of the Washington Capitals. The Gilbert Arenas and John Wall Washington Wizards teams. That one time the Washington Redskins had a healthy Robert Griffin III.

Until the Capitals finally got over their second-round hump in the NHL playoffs and hoisted the Stanley Cup, it was hard not to think of D.C. as one of the most tortured sports fanbases.

Now, the Capitals are champions. The WNBA’s Washington Mystics are champions. And the Nationals are champions after a season in which their title hopes looked dead on multiple occasions.

I forget- after the last decade and a half of World Series champions, are there any baseball-related curses in the United States that haven’t been broken?

QLE Posted: November 01, 2019 at 12:07 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: curse, nationals, washington

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Curse of Bunned Meat and Breadsticks: Why the Twins Can’t Beat the Yankees

On April 11, 1961, the Twins played their first game, beating the American League champion Yankees 6-0 in front of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Toots Shor, who sat beneath that white scalloped frieze at Yankee Stadium, its famous arches suggesting grandeur, antiquity and empire. The new home of the Twins, meanwhile, was a minor league ballyard in a former Bloomington, Minn., cornfield, providing the first of many comparisons between the two teams and the communities they represent in which Minnesota always comes off as a lesser New York—Big Apple vs. Minneapple, Yankees vs. Twinkies, Mickey Mantle vs. Mickey Hatcher.

Even the franchise’s inaugural victory was largely forgotten by the next morning, when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. But the ballgame remains historic, for it began the Twins’ own long-standing Cold War with the Yanks. As those two teams await the 2019 playoffs and another possible matchup, Minnesotans are keenly aware (as New Yorkers are not) that the Twins have lost a record 13 consecutive postseason games, an ignominious distinction they share with the Yankees’ more famous rivals, the Red Sox. Minnesota’s last playoff win was at the old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 5, 2004, in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. Of the 13 losses that have followed, all but three—a sweep by the A’s in the ‘06 ALDS—were to the Yankees, most recently in the ‘17 wild-card game. For almost the entire 21st century the Bronx Bombers have had Minnesota’s number, and that number is still stored in a Nokia flip phone.

The Yankees’ inexplicable domination in this century began very differently in the last one. In 1964, a recent graduate of George Washington High in Washington Heights—a Panamanian national then playing for a sandlot team in the Bronx called the N.Y. Cavaliers—traveled a couple of miles across the Harlem River to work out for the Twins at Yankee Stadium. After just a few swings Minnesota officials bundled the 19-year-old out of sight, lest he be seen by a Yankees executive with a fat book of blank checks. They spirited Rodney Cline Carew to an Italian restaurant in the Bronx, the Stella D’Oro, across from the breadstick factory of the same name, and signed the second baseman on the spot. It was a bank heist in broad daylight, and one for which there would be disproportionate karmic payback.

Carew would be named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967, then win seven batting titles (while the scouts who signed him—Herb Stein and Monroe Katz—were given, for all we know, Bronze Breadsticks). But in ‘78, with the frugal Twins intent on dealing him, Carew expressed his desire to play for the Yankees, in the stadium where it all began. “I’d rather hit there than in any of the other teams’ parks,” said Carew, who also admired New York’s skipper, Billy Martin, his former manager in Minnesota and the godfather to the second of his three daughters. Alas, Carew also had the temerity to entertain other offers, upsetting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who thought the future Hall of Famer didn’t sufficiently appreciate “the privilege of playing for the Yankees.” So Carew signed with the Angels and the Yankees maintained their imperious and often disdainful view of the Twins as backwater tightwads who didn’t sufficiently appreciate the privilege of playing against the Yankees, much less for them.

With Babe Ruth and the Black Sox and the billygoat and Eddie Grant no longer relevant as curses (and with Rocky Colavito coming within one overused relief pitcher of the same), it seems time for people to be creating new baseball curses, doesn’t it?

QLE Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: breadsticks, curse, rod carew, twins, yankees

 

 

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