Superstition is a part of sports. With superstitions come curses, and throughout sports, there have been no shortage of the belief in sports curses. As a Boston fan, I am no stranger to sports curses.
One of the most famous curses throughout sports was the “Curse of the Bambino.” Although it was broken in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, there’s no doubt in most Boston fans that the curse was real.
According to an article written by Phil Watson on YahooSports.com, Babe Ruth, one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game, was bought by the Boston Red Sox in 1914. In 1919, the Red Sox sold the “Great Bambino” to the New York Yankees for 125,000 dollar and a 300,000 dollar loan.
Watson said the loan was used to invest in a Broadway play by Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee.
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MLB.com said the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918, right before they sold Babe Ruth. Eighty-six years later, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in four straight games to end the “Curse of the Bambino.”
The curse was used as an excuse for many World Series mishaps throughout the 86 years of its existence. For example, when Red Sox legend Bill Buckner let the ball between his legs in the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets, Red Sox fans instantly blamed the “Great Bambino” for the error.
Also, in 2003, according to FoxSports.com, Red Sox manager Grady Little left all-star pitcher Pedro Martinez in the game during the eighth inning of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. The article said that after Little made the decision to stick with Martinez, the Yankees took the lead due to a blooper, two-run double that eventually lost the Red Sox the game. Of course, Boston fans blamed the mishap on manager Grady Little. But the underlying blame was placed on the 1919 Red Sox.
Another historic curse notoriously plaguing an MLB team is the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” According to Phil Watson, the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series title since 1908. But, Cubs fans finally found someone to blame for their lack of success in the postseason in 1945. Watson said that a Chicago bar owner, named Billy Sianis, hexed the franchise after he was ejected from Wrigley Field for bringing his pet goat to a game during the 1945 World Series.
Like the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs have had plenty of playoff mishaps that were a “direct result” of the curse, according to fans. One of these incidents includes the notorious Steve Bartman. Many Chicago Cubs fans still shudder at the use of his name.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Steve Bartman gained his infamy on Oct. 14, 2003.
In the eighth inning of the National League Championship Series, the Cubs were leading the Florida Marlins 3-0 in the game and 3-2 in the series.
The Cubs were five outs from their first World Series birth since the “Curse of the Billy Goat,” began.
The Chicago Tribune said Marlins’ second baseman, Luis Castillo then hit a ball into foul territory. Bartman reached over the wall and deflected a fly ball that Cubs outfielder, Moises Alou had the ability to catch. Alou instantly reacted negatively to the fans sitting in foul territory. Of the nine or ten fans that went for the ball, the blame was immediately placed on the “nerdy-looking guy wearing the headphones in the front row.”
According to ESPN.com, the “30 for 30” franchise, known for making hard-hitting sports documentaries, broke down the Bartman incident in the movie “Catching Hell.” The movie drew parallels between the Steve Bartman incident and the Bill Buckner incident that lost the Red Sox their hopes of breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” in 1986. The Chicago Tribune, along with “Catching Hell” claimed that Steve Bartman has seemingly “fallen off the face of the earth” as a direct result of the incident that ended the Cubs’ run in 2003.
Some of these infamous sports curses affect teams and organizations as a whole, but others can affect individual players. According to CharlotteObserver.com, the popular Madden NFL football game was created in 1999.
The cover of the game features one player from the NFL every year. According to the Charlotte Observer, ever since the game was released in 1999, it has cursed those who are chosen to be on the cover. The Charlotte Observer said that Barry Sanders was the first player featured on the cover of Madden in 1999.
Shortly after the game’s release, Sanders abruptly retired from the Detroit Lions, when he was extremely close to breaking the all-time NFL rushing record. Some may call it a coincidence, but die-hard sports fans saw a curse brewing.
Marshall Faulk, a running back for the St. Louis Rams, was featured on the cover of Madden 2003.
The Charlotte Observer said that Faulk signed a $43 million contract in 2002. And according to NFL.com, 2001 was Marshall Faulk’s last ever 1,000 yard rushing season.
Following his spot on the cover of Madden 2003, the remainder of Faulk’s career was plagued with injuries and he never returned to greatness. Another player that was allegedly plagued by the “Madden Curse” was future hall-of-fame quarterback, Brett Favre. Favre was featured on the cover of Madden 2009, according to Time.com.
Following his retirement from the Green Bay Packers, Favre decided to return to the NFL as a member of the New York Jets, Time.com said. After leading the team to an 8-3 start, Favre tore a tendon in his arm that ended his season.
Time.com also said that a scandal marred Favre’s last year as a professional football player. According to Time.com, Favre allegedly sent pictures of his privates to a female Jets fan. He was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with the investigation.
I’m not one to say sports curses are real or fake. But as sports fans, we do have to remember that our teams cannot win a championship every year. And that feeling of disappointment weighs a little lighter on on our shoulders when we can blame it on something that is beyond our control, as fans and as athletes.
A loss is a loss, but if it’s someone else’s fault, it sure does help us sleep a little sounder.
Michelle Berthiaume can be
contacted at email@example.com