- Jim Baker, Page 2
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We are a modern nation; one with electricity, computers and a pharmacy on every corner in which we can find drugs that allow our bodies to do things our forefathers could only cry about not being able to do anymore. In spite of that, we still give lip service to things like luck, superstition and curses. Don't believe me? How many times have you heard or seen the word "curse" in the 2004 postseason?
Now that baseball's most legendary curse is history, let's review some of the game's lesser-known curses. I consulted with The Great Myspurious, the so-called "Baseball Mystic," and, together, we pieced together this list of the national pastime's other curses that don't get much play in the media.
Chicago Cubs: Merkle's Curse. You can talk about billy goats all you want, but the fact remains that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since being handed the pennant via a famous baserunning gaffe by Fred Merkle of the Giants in 1908. Merkle wanted to quit the game but, instead, paid a fee to a practitioner of black magick and had the Cubs cursed instead. He intersected with his own curse 10 years later when, as a member of the Cubs, he was on the losing side to the Red Sox in their last-ever World Series win.
Chicago White Sox: The Shoeless Hex. After Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned the eight Black Sox players for life, Joe Jackson immediately went to a conjure woman in the backwoods of his native South Carolina and had her curse the Sox. Result: 85 years and no big title.
Cincinnati Reds: McSherry's Curse. Former Reds owner Marge Schott did a lot of charitable things in her life, but she was a champion at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. On Opening Day in 1996, umpire John McSherry collapsed and died a few pitches into the Expos-Reds game, forcing its cancellation. Schott said some rather uncharitable things about the circumstances and then compounded the problem by sending flowers she had gotten for something else to his funeral as a way of atoning. All this brought on the wrath of McSherry's departed soul from the great beyond. The Reds haven't won it all since.
Cleveland Indians: Wahoo's Curse. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 and they never will again as long as their logo is a caricature of a Native American. By decorating their players in such a fashion, they are calling down the bad spirits of every tribe in North America. So strong is this curse that it overrode the fact that Chief Wahoo -- as he is known -- wasn't part of the logo for a number of those seasons.
Colorado Rockies: The Playing-Too-Close-to-God Curse. This one goes, simply, like this: every time the Rockies take the field in their home park, they are defying the deity by daring to play so close to the heavens. The result is that they allow far too many runs to ever seriously challenge for a division title, let alone a World Series title.
Detroit Tigers: The Burned Car Curse. When the Tigers last won it all in 1984, their fans got pretty out of hand. They rioted, tipped over cars and burned a lot of stuff. The owner of one of the cars they burned did not get a particularly good insurance settlement (his carrier called it an "Act of God") and he, in retaliation, cursed the team.
Houston Astros: The Colt .45s Curse. You probably know about the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif., and how it was built by Sarah Winchester to keep at bay the ghosts of all those killed by the rifles her husband manufactured. The Astros are similarly cursed by the those who were done in by the Colt .45, the handgun for which the team was originally named. So strong is this curse that the club -- in spite of changing its name four years into its existence -- has still not even reached the World Series, let alone won one.
Kansas City Royals: Denkinger's Hex. We all know how the Royals won Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. By going into such dark territory, they brought upon themselves the wrath of The Fates. Legend has it that Denkinger's Hex will only be lifted when a call of equal weight goes against them at a moment of equal import.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Ball Four Curse. This is baseball's only "inherited curse." It arrived with the team from Seattle where they had been the subject of Jim Bouton's famous book, Ball Four. Many old-timers and purists thought the book brought shame upon the game and cursed the team for it. Result: they've yet to win it all.
Montreal/Washington Expos: There are so many different curses on this poor, misbegotten franchise that The Great Myspurious assures me he cannot sort them out no matter how many cats he splits in order to read their entrails.
New York Mets: Buckner's Curse. Often, as in the case of the Cubs, a team can curse itself by capitalizing on another team's misfortune. Sometimes, it takes so much mojo to win a championship that the team loses its mojo for decades to come. Such is the case with the Mets, a club that used up every possible scrap of mojo to pull out the 1986 World Series. The result is that they haven't won a World Championship since.
New York Yankees: Giambi's Curse. When Derek Jeter made his famous misdirection throw to nail Oakland's Jeremy Giambi at the plate in the 2001 playoffs he did not realize that he was dooming his team. So incensed was Giambi at the embarrassment of being nailed in such a fashion that he visited Madame Giambi, a distant relative with strong powers of a mystic nature. Result? The Yankees haven't won it all since and his own brother was laid low for most of the 2004 season, perhaps being the difference between the Yankees winning the ALCS and going home.
San Diego Padres: The Fashion Faux Pas Hex. There is an old adage in baseball: "team wearing brown/also wearing frown." In their 50 years in the American League, the St. Louis Browns never won a single World Series. The Padres have now been around 35 years and have yet to do so, either, even though brown hasn't always been part of their accouterment. Apparently, they wore enough of it early on to bring on the wrath of the fashion gods.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
Now that the "Curse of the Bambino" has finally been lifted, look for these spells to rear their ugly heads.