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SPORTS COMMENTARY

Red, White, and Cursed

By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Producer

CBN.com - It is the way the 100th edition of the World Series should be. Two teams that personify the history and heritage of the game. No fancy gimmicks, trendy team colors, or marketing techniques, just two classic stalwarts in red and blue battling it out on a field of green.

The comparisons between the two are endless. The Boston Red Sox claim to have the greatest and most knowledgeable fans in Major League Baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals say they do. Boston has Ted Williams as their organization’s greatest player. St. Louis has Stan Musial. The Cardinals claim Bob Gibson as their greatest all-time pitcher. The Red Sox point to Roger Clemens. The Red Sox possess a powerful collection of sluggers this year in Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. The Cardinals counter with Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds. Boston has the curse. St. Louis does not.

For you sports fans who have been cleaning your sock drawer during the month of October and have not been tuning into the drama that has been unfolding on television screens from Bangor, Maine to Bend, Oregon, the Boston Red Sox allegedly suffer from something called the Curse of the Bambino.

The Red Sox have not won a Fall Classic since 1918 when Babe Ruth (also known as The Bambino) still wore a red letter B on his hat rather than the more familiar NY that made him a national folk hero. Two years later, then Red Sox owner Harry Frazee needed money to finance a Broadway show that his girlfriend starred in. So to raise the necessary cash, he sold the Babe to the Bronx Bombers for the paltry sum of $100,000. Not happy with the transaction, Ruth vowed that he would do everything in his power to make sure the Boston Red Sox never won another World Series.

And for 84 years, it seems as if the Babe has stayed true to his word. During that span, the Yankees have hoisted 26 World Series trophies to the sky. The Red Sox have won zero. The only item they have hoisted in World Series play is their duffel bags in defeat. So, unless you are between the ages of 90 and 100, you have never celebrated a Red Sox World Series championship.

For most of us, curses are nothing more than an exercise in frivolous futility. ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons, a longtime baseball scribe, describes The Curse as “a silly mindless gimmick that is as stupid as The Wave.” But 86 years is a long time to wait between championships. After all, the Florida Marlins won in their fifth year of existence, the Arizona Diamondbacks in their fourth. Call it coincidence, but the Boston Red Sox have compiled one of the most infamous, sometimes ghastly, records of defeat that organized sport has ever seen. When the Red Sox lose they do so in macabre-esque fashion.

Allow me to illustrate just a few examples. In 1946, the Red Sox had one of the their best teams in years due to the return of wartime heroes Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Johnny Pesky. Amassing 104 victories during the regular season, the Red Sox were heavy favorites to win the World Series that year against the St. Louis Cardinals. But in one of the most critical moments of the series, Pesky, who was playing shortstop that day, inexplicably held onto a cutoff throw that he should have fired to home plate. Enos Slaughter scored the winning run as a result.

Fast forward to 1978. Boston was the most dominant team in baseball during the first half of the season. On July 19, the Red Sox led the second place Milwaukee Brewers by nine games while the New York Yankees were a distant fourth, 14 games behind. Boston self-destructed in the season’s second half and ended up tied at the conclusion of the regular season. A one game play-off was needed to determine who would represent the American League East in the postseason. Light hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent, who had homered just four times the entire season, punched a game winning three run home run over the imposing 37 foot high left field wall off Boston ace Mike Torrez. Yankees win 5-4.

In Game Six of the 1986 Fall Classic, Boston was just one strike away from winning it all against the New York Mets until Mookie Wilson trickled a routine ground ball between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. Buckner’s tragic miscue allowed Ray Knight to score the winning run from third. With the Series now tied at 3-3, the Mets won Game Seven.

Let’s move forward to Game Seven of 2003’s American League Championship Series against the dreaded Yankees. New York third baseman Aaron Boone, who had hit just .161 during the entire postseason, blasted Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield’s first pitch of the 11th inning into the left field bleachers to send New York yet another World Series.

These are just a few of the more notable heart wrenching examples of what many call The Curse. The list could go on and on. And it does.

However, long suffering Boston fans have become cautiously optimistic in recent days after their team’s stirring comeback from a 3-0 deficit to not only earn their first appearance in the Fall Classic since 1986 but they did so by defeating their arch nemesis, the New York Yankees.

But is The Curse over? Longtime Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who authored a book called “The Curse of the Bambino”, says The Curse is not over until the Red Sox win the World Series. I say pish-tosh. There never was a curse.

The Curse of the Bambino is nothing more than a trumped up attempt by fans to explain all of the unfortunate demonstrations of oddity, coincidence, and distress that has seemingly befallen the Boston Red Sox over the years. I do concede that there seems to have been an inordinate amount of bizarre baseball played over the years by this team. I have witnessed some of it first hand when I covered the team for five seasons. But it is not a curse. It is merely a rather large amount of misfortune that has intensified with the ebb and flow of time. Ok, lots of time.

What does the Bible have to say about this? In Exodus 20:4-5, Moses writes, “You shall not make yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth, you shall not bow to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

This passage of scripture sounds kind of severe when you read it at face value but without question it holds a large element of truth. In our daily lives, we can easily allow many things to become a sort of god to us. Money, work, pleasure, even trying to figure out why your favorite team hasn’t won a championship in so long can become a god to us. It consumes our time and in some cases can forge our identities.

The time we devote to such notions can grow into a sort of god that can take on a life of its own. When this happens it is best to let go of the things that are controlling us and let God hold the central place in our lives. When we do it prevents us from giving into something that can detract from our relationship with Him.

It is easy for us to blame the inadequacies of events that transpire in our lives on something that lies beyond the boundaries of rational thought. It is very easy to do. But never, I repeat, never, allow them to consume you. For when you do, these events can very easily become your god.


Information contained within this article from the Tyndale Study Bible and the Transformer Study Bible.

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