Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Curse of Buckner: Year 2.

Hello again, Red Sox fans.

Well, year two of “The curse of Buckner” is officially in the books. Yes, this is the new self-loathing curse that is upon you now that you’ve successfully exorcised “The curse of the Bambino.”

Don’t tell me you forgot.

Allow me to remind you of how the “Buckner” hex originated.

Two seasons ago, after winning your first World Series in 86 years, many of you Red Sox faithful made the haughty statement of “Bill Buckner, we forgive you!”

Yes, you just couldn’t leave well enough alone. It wasn’t enough that you burned Buckner in effigy or celebrated his exile to Idaho. You had to offer a sanctimonious apology to a man who enraged you so much when he mentioned he didn’t contemplate suicide after his Game 6 blunder in the ’86 Fall Classic. How dare that Buckner be a voice of reason.

Just think of the atrocities your club suffered while suppressed by “Bambino.”

-In 1946, the Red Sox appeared in their first World Series since the sale of Babe Ruth. They were favored to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. The series went to a seventh game at Sportsman Park in St. Louis. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the score tied at 3-3, the Cardinals had Enos Slaughter on first base and Harry Walker at the plate. On a hit and run, Walker hit a double to very short left center. Slaughter ran through the third base coach's stop sign and beat Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky's relay throw to home plate. In the top of the ninth, the Red Sox put the tying run on third and the go-ahead on first with one out, but Harry Breechen shut down the next two hitters to preserve the victory.

-In 1949, the Red Sox needed to win just one of the last two games of the season to win the pennant, but lost both games to the Yankees. The Red Sox were managed by Joe McCarthy, who had previously steered the Yankees to 7 World Series titles.

-In 1978, the Red Sox had a 14-game lead over the Yankees on July 18, but by season's end, the teams were tied. A one-game playoff took place at Fenway Park on October 2. In the 7th inning, Boston led 2-0, but Bucky Dent, a .240 hitter with only 4 home runs all season, hit a pop-fly home run over the Green Monster with two runners on base to secure the Yankee win.

-The most dramatic defeat for the Red Sox came in Game 6 of the
1986, when Boston was, literally, one strike from winning the Series. The New York Mets tied the game, then won it in the 10th on a fielding error by Bill Buckner. The Red Sox lost the 7th game, again blowing a 3-run lead.

-In 2003, the Red Sox were tied with the Yankees at three games apiece in the American League Championship Series, Boston had a 5-2 lead going into the 8th inning. Then-manager Grady Little opted to stay with a tiring Pedro Martinez rather than call to the bullpen. Two Yankee doubles and a single later, the game was tied. The series was decided in the 11th by a first-pitch, lead-off home run by light-hitting Aaron Boone. Little was out of a job less than two weeks later, though in 2006 he returned to the major-league managerial ranks as the skipper of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now, let’s take a gander at what you’ve endured since the inception of “Buckner.”

-“Manny being Manny.”

-Second baseman Tony Graffanino performing a flawless imitation of Billy Buck in Game 2 of the 2005 ALDS.

-The bungling of GM Theo Epstein’s position with the Sox.

-The 5-game sweep you suffered at home to your hated rival the Yankees last month.

-Two years removed from a World Series title, Sox fail to reach postseason.

So go ahead. Re-live the memories by watching the 2004 Boston Red Sox DVD.

You'll always have that while you endure another genration or two of baseball heartache.

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