Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hex

Professional baseball is pretty rife with superstition.  Wade Boggs reportedly ate chicken before every game.  And don't get me started on Turk Wendell and his "rituals."  

There are also the various curses that linger over teams.  The Boston Red Sox had the famed "Curse of the Bambino" from 1918 to some hazy point which I've blocked out of my memory.  The Chicago White Sox have long labored under the shadow left by the 1919 Black Sox.  The Cleveland Indians are apparently still under "The Curse of Rocky Colavito," and the Chicago Cubs are trying (mostly) everything goat-related to unhex themselves from the "Curse of the Billy Goat."

The Redskins are laboring under the curse of Dan Snyder's ownership.

Having witnessed the sadness that is the Baltimore Orioles for the last few years, this has gotten me thinking.  Are the Birds under some sort of mysterious slump?  Has some witch doctor thrown a hex their way?  Is Edgar Allen Poe not happy?  Well, after some conversing with this guy, I have come up with an answer: the Curse of Lou Gehrig.

Can't you just sense the dark energy?

Here's the theory: everyone knows in 1995 that Cal Ripken, Jr. decides to break the Lou "the Iron Horse" Gehrig's pretty crazy consecutive games streak of 2,130 games played.  (Think about that when you try to call out of work because of the "sniffles.")  My theory is that you probably do not want to anger the spirit of any one nicknamed "the Iron Horse" and especially if that person had to deal with Babe Ruth on a day-to-day basis for much of the year.  Cal Ripken decided to do that, and thus brought upon the Baltimore Orioles "The Curse of Lou Gehrig."

The evidence goes as such: 
1995 was the season that the record was broken by Cal Ripken, Jr.  That was the same season that the New York Yankees made it to the playoffs for the first time since their 1981 World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the first (and last) time that famed first baseman Don Mattingly, who played the same position as Lou Gehrig, would make the playoffs.  Also, 1995 was the same season that a young shortstop named Derek Jeter made his debut.  The same Derek Jeter who hit the "hand of God" home run in the 1996 American League Championship Series against...the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees would go on to win the World Series and experience relative success afterward, while the Orioles would make the playoffs once more and haven't made them since.  It is also worth noting that the year Cal Ripken, Jr. retired (2001) was the same year the Yankees lost the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Nonetheless, the Orioles have still toiled in much obscurity.  Their most promising glimmer of hope was in 2005, when they spent 62 days in first place but went on a losing streak, resulting in the firing of their manager, Lee Mazzili - a former Yankees first base coach.

Now considering that Babe Ruth's curse lasted about 80 some odd years, the idea of one of his teammates, who has an equally storied spot in Yankees lore, putting a hex on a team isn't a very comforting thought.  Also mind you that this is from the grave; the Babe's curse got its start when he was alive.  So who knows what extra caveats that might add?  And of course, the Orioles could just be naturally and perpetually terrible.  But who wants to believe that?

Also having to deal with the Babe on a pretty regular basis makes you a pretty tough sucker.

So if you're an Orioles fan (or one of the players reading this for some strange reason), I'd start eating chicken or something to break the hex.  Or just consider a different team.

No comments: