June 5, 2005
BASEBALL: The Real Curse
From a reader in Bill Simmons' mail bag, a pet peeve:
[E]very time I even begin to talk about how everything goes wrong with my Cubbies ... there is some Boston fan that gives me the ole "hang in there, if the Red Sox can do it, then the Cubs can do it too." The last thing I want to hear is someone reminding me that the Cubs are now the only cursed team. I realize that both the Cubs and the Red Sox went a long time without winning the World Series, but why do you guys feel the need to hold our hand while we try and win one.
Um, only? There were three of the 16 "original" NL/AL franchises that had not won a World Series since before World War II. Now there are two. A Cubs fan ought to have the common decency to have heard of the other one. I mean, if anybody has a claim to a curse, it's the franchise that threw the freaking World Series and has not won another postseason series in 85 seasons since then, despite having the best record in baseball in 1959 and 1983 and the best in the AL in 2000.
Of course, the White Sox have the kind of curse you would put on a team if you really wanted their fans to suffer: White Sox fans aren't pitied, just ignored. They don't finish last for years at a stretch (in fact, they've finished last only twice since 1935), they don't have spectacular collapses in pennant races, they don't lose postseason serieses in memorable fashion (they've never gone the distance in a postseason series and have scored just 56 runs, less than 3 per game, in 19 postseason games in the past 85 years). They don't get to cry "small market" as the Royals or Brewers do, and they've rarely had fire sales of their players. They never get to be the best team in town, nor the city's saddest sacks. They just plod along in perpetual mediocrity, never any closer to the goal.
Anyway, I'm wondering how far we have to get into 2005 before this particular exorcism starts to become an object of some real attention.
For several years, every time anyone would mention the "Curse Of The Bambino," I said it was just collateral damage from the Black Sox. Since they threw the '19 World Series, no team from Chicago and no team named "Sox" had won...
That curse will not be exorcised this year. Look for the White Sox to finish second in the AL Central. Look for someone else to be the Wild Card winner. Look for another decade of mediocrity on the South Side.
Well you have to give the Cubs fan credit for having heard of another team. He might even understand that the Cubs play a game called baseball, which would put him ahead of most Cubs fans.
Spoken like a White Sox fan.
Sorry, couldn't resist the dig. Let me respond more thoughtfully to your post. It is tough to be a White Sox fan for all of the reasons you suggest. Well, maybe not tough, but it does come with frustrations. The continued national attraction to the Cubs highlights those frustrations. But life is as it is, not what you wish it to be.
I'm also curious how far into the season we have to go before people give the Sox credit, too. The comment from SBG above is typical. We're heading into mid June with the Sox having the best record in baseball and he's confidently predicting that they'll miss the postseason completly. The probable answer is that no one will believe in them until it happens. So be it, but I hope SBG is ready to eat a nice helping of crow.
I don't know if I'd call the White Sox situation a curse. I might call it karma (hey, you throw a World Series like that, you might not deserve to see another one).
As long as the Black Sox Scandal is talked about or as long as Joe Jackson is not in the Hall of Fame the True Curse(the Black Sox Curse) will live on.
I feel like asking SBG (from his June posting) how his words taste now. This team has been competitive the last 5 years in a row! They have FIVE dominant starting pitchers who confounded AL and NL teams all season. Anyone who is surprised by this is probably just accepting what TV sports media feeds them: a constant dose of NY, Braves, and chatter about overpaid, overrated steroid-takers.
Pay attention baseball fans. This team is the saving grace of the game. Their injured and drug-free hero Frank Thomas is a honest player in an era of cheaters. Ozzie Guillen is crazy like a fox. Read the team history...it's much more interesting and colorful than the tired, old cliched stories from NY. And I ask you, is there a more flat and uninspired team than the 2005 NY Yankees? Why does this group of individual achievers get so much attention when they don't have the ability to contribute on a championship level?
The White Sox deserve all the attention they're about to get and the fans in Chicago are enjoying every minute of it.