September 23, 2014

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ALCS: The Sox curse

Despite having spent the last five years living in Ohio, I still wear my Boston Red Sox cap proudly. You see, growing up in Boston instilled me with two things: a sense of American history and a lifelong, unconditional love for the Boston Red Sox.

Baker

Don’t let anyone tell you differently: Boston is a baseball town. The Patriots are only just now gaining respectability. The Celtics haven’t been relevant since James Polk was president. And the Bruins? Er, the Who-ins?

No, when it comes down to it, the Red Sox are Boston’s team. Hands down. And even leaving Boston for Cleveland couldn’t change that for me.

To be fair, I really do like the Indians. They’re an underpaid, underappreciated, overachieving ball club that gained my favor by embarrassing the New York Yankees. If they weren’t playing the Red Sox, I would certainly be rooting for the Indians to win the World Series.

But the Red Sox flow through my veins. I have cheered for the Sox for longer than I have been able to walk (or strike out), and I will continue to cheer for them as long as I have a voice.

And it hasn’t always been easy.

Like Indians fans, Red Sox fans have been the victims of countless disappointments. Expectations were always too high to be met and opportunities too close to be forgotten.

And it was all thanks to one enduring curse.

Growing up in Boston, the Curse of the Bambino was as real to me as chicken pox and the flu — and infinitely more devastating.

Just as surely as April meant renewed, rising expectations, September always meant the final chapter of another ultimately disappointing season.

I rued that day in 1918 when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees as if it were a personal mistake. The sale of Ruth (for money to fund a Broadway musical) left the Red Sox in an 86-year championship drought. During the course of those endless years, anytime a ball dipped foul at the last second or slipped carelessly through a defender’s legs, Red Sox fans would swear they could see a certain portly ghost smiling back at them from the opposing dugout.

While the Yankees were almost unstoppable during this period, winning 26 World Series rings (twice as many as anybody else), Babe Ruth haunted every corner of Fenway Park and crushed the hopes of more than five million Red Sox faithful each year.

Until 2004.

Perhaps Babe had finally fulfilled his duty. Maybe he moved on to another team. Or perhaps he just took pity on us poor Red Sox fans and threw us a bone. Whatever the reason, on Oct. 27 (during a total lunar eclipse, no less) the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series and the Curse of the Bambino was lifted.

Finally.

You see Indians fans, there’s hope for us all. Red Sox fans and Indians fans are cut from the same cloth. Annually renewed disappointments and countless close calls make being a baseball fan in these two cities often painful. Only in 2004 did Red Sox fans briefly rise above the curse that haunted them for decades.

And, one year, Indians fans will break their own unnamed curse. Just not this year.

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7155 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.