Saturday, December 25, 2004

Sending Good Tidings

As I sit here in the predawn glow of a Christmas morning and everyone else still in bed (with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads) now seemed as good a time as any to give a brief update and say hello.

If you haven't already seen it, I have a guest column over on Alex Belth's Bronx Banter blog. (Yes, yes, it's a Yankees' fan blog. But a darned good one and Alex has been one of my favorite baseball writers on the web for a couple seasons now.) In the column, I offer a longer explanation for the post World Series archival of this site as well as offering a sense of where my head is at these days.

In other news, I'll be doing a panel at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin on March 13th. It'll be a one hour session in which I discuss the history of the Bambino's Curse site as well as offering some tips and tricks on blogging and predicting where the baseball blogosphere is headed. (And by predicting I mean making wild asses guesses that have a very remote chance of coming to pass. Speaking of remote chances, did you hear about this asteroid? It's comforting to know the Red Sox won another World Series before the world gets blown to bits.)

As for the future of my own Red Sox blogging, I've decided on a name for the new site.

Invincible Summer: Diary of a Red Sox Fan.

I got the idea from a Camus quote: "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." It's perfect, I think, as it really gets at the "positive visualization" attitude we all had going and dovetails nicely with the Sisyphian struggles we all went through for so long.

The design for the new site has been mocked and it'll be reachable at once it's launched, hopefully no later than Opening Day and with luck by Spring Training.

I'll post the infrequent updates here in the meantime.

Keep your Sox on.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Mission Accomplished (For Real!)

The clouds are broken in the sky,
   And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
   Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
   Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
   Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
   By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
   Until I find the holy Grail.
(from Tennyson's "Sir Galahad")

Tie up your steed Galahad, the Grail Cup is in hand!

And just like that it's all gone: No more Curse; No more 1918; No more getting the rock almost to the top of the hill only to have it roll back down and crush us…

The subject line in an email I received from my since boyhood friend and diehard Sox fan, Mike says it all: "Now I can get on with the rest of my life."

Hallelujah!  Sweet relief.

 "So many people can die happy now,'' general manager Theo Epstein said. "But a whole lot more can live happy. . . . I hope they're getting that '2000!' chant ready for the Yankees in Boston next year" (Horrigan, Herald).

I hope someone is right now commissioning an artist to create the Theo Epstein statue for prominent placement. Thank you, Theo Epstein! Thank you Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Curtis Leskanic, Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, Mike Myers, Curt Schilling, Mike Timlin, and Tim Wakefield. Thank you, Doug Mirabelli and Jason Varitek. Thank you, Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, Pokey Reese, Kevin Youkilis, Johnny Damon, Gabe Kapler, Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez (MVP!), Dave Roberts, and David Ortiz. And thank you, Terry Francona.

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, everyone who has stopped by this blog once, twice, or a couple hundred times in the past four seasons, thank you!

My work here is done.

This will be the final, regular post to the Bambino's Curse weblog. The site, however, and all the archives will remain online forever, as a small testament and recollection of what it was like to be a fan before the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918. (Like anyone wants to relive that!)

And I will resurface somewhere, somehow, and in some form in the future (like Dr. Who after a regeneration). Indeed, I just this morning bought a couple of domains that I may use for the new endeavor. Plus for the past couple of months me and a couple other folks (whom I won't name but let's just say they make the best fan t-shirts in the world) have been planning a joint project that we hope to launch by Opening Day 2005. (You'll love it! Trust me.)

Until then, I bid you au revoir.

Keep your Sox on!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"We are ripe, reap us!"

The time of mists and mellow fruitfulness is finally, finally upon us. One win away from a World Series victory? I'm with Jackie MacMullen in asking, "How did this happen?"

How is it this band of self-described idiots, with raggy hair and baggy pants and shabby defense (eight errors through the first two games) find themselves on the cusp of doing something Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Roger Clemens, and Nomar Garciaparra never were able to achieve wearing the Boston uniform?

And forget about asking whether or not I dare to eat a peach, the hapless, been burned before Prufrock in me wonders, "Do I dare even imagine that the Red Sox can win one more game in 2004?" Partly, of course, my trepidation is rooted firmly in the fecund, weighted with weeds, funeral plot of memory where the headstone inscription reads, "2 outs, 2 strikes, bottom of the 9th, Shea Stadium, 1986."

Why not just give in believe this is the year? After all, history is on our side.

… the Sox become the 21st team to surge to a 3-0 lead in World Series history. All 20 predecessors went on to win the title, including 17 by sweeps. Each of the last five teams to take a 3-0 lead has won the championship in four games. St. Louis has not held a lead in any game this series (Horrigan, Herald).

But I'd be more given to just believe it, oddly enough, if the Red Sox had not just become the first team ever to come back from being down 0-3 in MLB playoff history. So here I am then, in this classic, psychological approach/avoidance conflict. I'm barely able to move, let alone think.

You know, I'm trying to avoid the self-referential, chip on the shoulder, Red Sox fan attitude that so infuriates the rest of the world, the "It's all about us" attitude, but what fans other than Red Sox fans would find themselves so wedged between this historical Scylla and Charybdis? No team comes back from 0-3 except our team who came back from 0-3, round and round the whirlpool cum cesspool of possible imagined outcomes spins and spins in my mind.

How did this happen?

And what of the this moon?

A lunar eclipse is due to start less than an hour before the Sox and St. Louis Cardinals play the fourth game of the World Series tonight. If skies are clear, the moon over Busch Stadium will be blood red in the late innings.

There has never been a full lunar eclipse in the middle of a World Series game. Red October, indeed (Shaughnessy).

Do we dare imagine this is the moon Ted Hughes calls forth in his poem "Harvest Moon"?

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum

So people can't sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!' and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

Let's see how the poem mirrors what's going on in Red Sox Nation. Red moon. Check. Sound of drumming in your brain? Check. Can't sleep? Check. Religious hush? Check. Red Sox World Series victory may cause the end of the world? Check. Sweat? Check. Ripe and ready to be reaped? For cripes sake yes, yes, yes. Reap me already!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Go Greased Lightnin'. Go.

So I bet I'm not the only one who has been going through the past couple of day like this: you'll be sitting there at work or driving or eating breakfast or whatever and about every couple of minutes you'll go, "OHMYGAW. THE RED SOX ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES!"

It still hasn't really sunk in. Hell, I don't want it to sink in as I don't want to lose the giddiness of it all. And just when I do start to get used to the idea I then remember, "THE RED SOX HAVE A 2-0 GAME LEAD IN THE WORLD SERIES!"

Now if that's not enough, how about this:

After batting practice last night, Pedro Martinez slowly was peeling off his red socks in front of his locker at Busch Stadium.

Placing his hand on Martinez' back, locker neighbor Curt Schilling leaned in close to his teammate and said, "Did I tell you how excited I am to watch you pitch tomorrow night? I've got chills" (Silverman, Herald).

And you know Schilling means it. The guy is the real deal despite jealous, anti-Schilling snickering found elsewhere. (Believe it or not, some are suggesting he faked the blood on his sock. SoSH has a thread on this and other lunacy.)

As for chills, I've got 'em, too, big time. I mean I've got more chills than Danny Zuko laying eyes on the lithesome Sandy Olsson for the first time. They're multiplyin'. It's electrifyin'.

Bob Ryan isn't alone when he suggests Pedro is the one we want tonight:

One game to out-Curt Curt. One game to say goodbye. One game to say, "Pay me." One game to show off for his countrymen watching on TV down in the Dominican. One game to have people back home chanting "Pe-dro!" in the living rooms and bars of New England. One game to remind everyone that he still can pitch as well as anyone in the world. One game to put the Boston Red Sox up, 3-0.


Alan Embree joins the chills for Pedro chorus,

"I expect to see a pretty spectacular Pedro (tonight)," the left-hander said. "He's never been (in a World Series) before, and he's got every other accolade you can think of. This will help him complete another great chapter in his career" (Silverman).

In other news, did you read that La Russa and the Cardinals are all upset about their accommodations while in Boston?

La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his team was upset about having to be stationed at the Quincy Marriott, which is at the base of the Southeast Expressway at the juncture of I-93 and Route 3. He complained about the location of the hotel, the lack of late-night room service and traffic coming and going through Quincy.

"It was a real bummer to the point where a lot of us were upset and embarrassed," La Russa said (Horrigan, Herald).

I'm still trying to figure out what was "embarrassing" about it. Meanwhile, the Red Sox contend those were the best rooms available considering everything going on in Boston (Head of the Charles Regatta and Parents Weekend at several local universities). Evidently, though, there are plenty of rooms available in St. Louis. (Hard to believe considering what a happening place it is and all.)

By the way, did you know THE RED SOX ARE IN THE WOLRD SERIES!?


Let me close with what Beth calls a "tiny and quiet" side of happiness:

… tonight at work I saw a sign that's been on the newsroom wall for a little while announcing in blue ballpoint pen that copies of the book Chasing Steinbrenner were available downstairs for $26.00. Tonight I noticed as I walked to the elevator that the word "Chasing" had been written over in red marker that said "CATCHING??" (Cursed and First).

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Monday, October 25, 2004

It's Happening (Isn't It?)

Trying my best to temper my emotions. Although it was 18 years ago, the memories of the first two Sox wins, on the road no less, against the Mets in '86 are all of a sudden very much on my mind.

But you know what? In 1986 the we, players and fans alike, didn't have anything quite like this:

I just wish everybody on this planet could experience the day I just experienced I will never use the words 'unbelievable' and 'the Lord' in the same sentence. It was the most amazing day of my life (Herald).

I left my house, and I'm driving to the park, and anyone who knows where Medfield is, they know it's a pretty long haul.

There were signs every mile from my house to this ballpark on fire stations, on telephone poles, wishing me luck. I can't explain what it was like (Globe)."

No need to try and explain, Mr. Schilling. While we have no idea of the pain you were going through, on the emotional side, I suspect your feelings of amazement from the energy level and adoration of the fans is very similar to our standing aghast on your every pitch. Curt Schilling and Red Sox fans are in symbiosis. In all the years I've watched sports, I've never experienced anything like this.

From the moment Curt Schilling first logged on to SoSH to chat with Red Sox fans last November, we knew he was not your run of the mill ballplayer. When he spoke of thriving in the "win or else" environment of Boston, we knew he understood. When he wore the 1919 replica Sox jersey and told us he would "step up and help" the Red Sox win a World Series, we appreciated his intent.

But who knew, who knew just how much he meant it all?

How many times in your life have you come across someone who is exactly what they claim to be?

We live in a culture so awash in cliché, so full of professional athletes (and others) telling us about "playing through pain" and "putting the team first" but more often than not the sentiment if not being outright empty is considerably less than advertised.

Not so with number 38 of the Boston Red Sox.

I've never seen anything quite like it.

And the rest of the team inspires awe as well. Varitek, Cabrera, Bellhorn, two out hit after two out hit …

If this isn't the year, then I can't imagine what is.

me already!